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Author: Howells, William Dean, 1837-1920
Title: — Complete
Date: 2001-12-26
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Title: Ragged Lady, Complete

Author: William Dean Howells

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RAGGED LADY.

By William Dean Howells


Part 1.

I.

It was their first summer at Middlemount and the Landers did not know the
roads.  When they came to a place where they had a choice of two, she
said that now he must get out of the carry-all and ask at the house
standing a little back in the edge of the pine woods, which road they
ought to take for South Middlemount.  She alleged many cases in which
they had met trouble through his perverse reluctance to find out where
they were before he pushed rashly forward in their drives.  Whilst she
urged the facts she reached forward from the back seat where she sat, and
held her hand upon the reins to prevent his starting the horse, which was
impartially cropping first the sweet fern on one side and then the
blueberry bushes on the other side of the narrow wheel-track.  She
declared at last that if he would not get out and ask she would do it
herself, and at this the dry little man jerked the reins in spite of her,
and the horse suddenly pulled the carry-all to the right, and seemed
about to overset it.

"Oh, what are you doing, Albe't?  "Mrs. Lander lamented, falling helpless
against the back of her seat.  "Haven't I always told you to speak to the
hoss fust?"

"He wouldn't have minded my speakin'," said her husband.  "I'm goin' to
take you up to the dooa so that you can ask for youaself without gettin'
out."

This was so well, in view of Mrs. Lander's age and bulk, and the hardship
she must have undergone, if she had tried to carry out her threat, that
she was obliged to take it in some sort as a favor; and while the vehicle
rose and sank over the surface left rough, after building, in front of
the house, like a vessel on a chopping sea, she was silent for several
seconds.

The house was still in a raw state of unfinish, though it seemed to have
been lived in for a year at least.  The earth had been banked up at the
foundations for warmth in winter, and the sheathing of the walls had been
splotched with irregular spaces of weather boarding; there was a good
roof over all, but the window-casings had been merely set in their places
and the trim left for a future impulse of the builder.  A block of wood
suggested the intention of steps at the front door, which stood
hospitably open, but remained unresponsive for some time after the
Landers made their appeal to the house at large by anxious noises in
their throats, and by talking loud with each other, and then talking low.
They wondered whether there were anybody in the house; and decided that
there must be, for there was smoke coming out of the stove pipe piercing
the roof of the wing at the rear.

Mr. Lander brought himself under censure by venturing, without his wife's
authority, to lean forward and tap on the door-frame with the butt of his
whip.  At the sound, a shrill voice called instantly from the region of
the stove pipe, "Clem!  Clementina?  Go to the front dooa!  The'e's
somebody knockin'."  The sound of feet, soft and quick, made itself heard
within, and in a few moments a slim maid, too large for a little girl,
too childlike for a young girl, stood in the open doorway, looking down
on the elderly people in the buggy, with a face as glad as a flower's.
She had blue eyes, and a smiling mouth, a straight nose, and a pretty
chin whose firm jut accented a certain wistfulness of her lips.  She had
hair of a dull, dark yellow, which sent out from its thick mass light
prongs, or tendrils, curving inward again till they delicately touched
it.  Her tanned face was not very different in color from her hair, and
neither were her bare feet, which showed well above her ankles in the
calico skirt she wore.  At sight of the elders in the buggy she
involuntarily stooped a little to lengthen her skirt in effect, and at
the same time she pulled it together sidewise, to close a tear in it, but
she lost in her anxiety no ray of the joy which the mere presence of the
strangers seemed to give her, and she kept smiling sunnily upon them
while she waited for them to speak.

"Oh!" Mrs. Lander began with involuntary apology in her tone, "we just
wished to know which of these roads went to South Middlemount.  We've
come from the hotel, and we wa'n't quite ce'tain."

The girl laughed as she said, "Both roads go to South Middlemount'm; they
join together again just a little piece farther on."

The girl and the woman in their parlance replaced the letter 'r' by vowel
sounds almost too obscure to be represented, except where it came last in
a word before a word beginning with a vowel; there it was annexed to the
vowel by a strong liaison, according to the custom universal in rural New
England.

"Oh, do they?" said Mrs. Lander.

"Yes'm," answered the girl.  "It's a kind of tu'nout in the wintatime; or
I guess that's what made it in the beginning; sometimes folks take one
hand side and sometimes the other, and that keeps them separate; but
they're really the same road, 'm."

"Thank you," said Mrs. Lander, and she pushed her husband to make him say
something, too, but he remained silently intent upon the child's
prettiness, which her blue eyes seemed to illumine with a light of their
own.  She had got hold of the door, now, and was using it as if it was a
piece of drapery, to hide not only the tear in her gown, but somehow both
her bare feet.  She leaned out beyond the edge of it; and then, at
moments she vanished altogether behind it.

Since Mr. Lander would not speak, and made no sign of starting up his
horse, Mrs. Lander added, "I presume you must be used to havin' people
ask about the road, if it's so puzzlin'."

"O, yes'm," returned the girl, gladly.  "Almost every day, in the
summatime."

"You have got a pretty place for a home, he'e," said Mrs. Lander.

"Well, it will be when it's finished up."  Without leaning forward
inconveniently Mrs. Lander could see that the partitions of the house
within were lathed, but not plastered, and the girl looked round as if to
realize its condition and added, "It isn't quite finished inside."

"We wouldn't, have troubled you," said Mrs. Lander, "if we had seen
anybody to inquire of."

"Yes'm," said the girl.  "It a'n't any trouble."

"There are not many otha houses about, very nea', but I don't suppose you
get lonesome; young folks are plenty of company for themselves, and if
you've got any brothas and sistas--"

"Oh," said the girl, with a tender laugh, "I've got eva so many of them!"

There was a stir in the bushes about the carriage, and Mrs. Lander was
aware for an instant of children's faces looking through the leaves at
her and then flashing out of sight, with gay cries at being seen.  A boy,
older than the rest, came round in front of the horse and passed out of
sight at the corner of the house.

Lander now leaned back and looked over his shoulder at his wife as if he
might hopefully suppose she had come to the end of her questions, but she
gave no sign of encouraging him to start on their way again.

"That your brotha, too?" she asked the girl.

"Yes'm.  He's the oldest of the boys; he's next to me."

"I don't know," said Mrs. Lander thoughtfully, "as I noticed how many
boys there were, or how many girls."

"I've got two sistas, and three brothas, 'm," said the girl, always
smiling sweetly.  She now emerged from the shelter of the door, and Mrs.
Lander perceived that the slight movements of such parts of her person as
had been evident beyond its edge were the effects of some endeavor at
greater presentableness.  She had contrived to get about her an overskirt
which covered the rent in her frock, and she had got a pair of shoes on
her feet.  Stockings were still wanting, but by a mutual concession of
her shoe-tops and the border of her skirt, they were almost eliminated
from the problem.  This happened altogether when the girl sat down on the
threshold, and got herself into such foreshortening that the eye of Mrs.
Lander in looking down upon her could not detect their absence.  Her
little head then showed in the dark of the doorway like a painted head
against its background.

"You haven't been livin' here a great while, by the looks," said Mrs.
Lander.  "It don't seem to be clea'ed off very much."

"We've got quite a ga'den-patch back of the house," replied the girl,
"and we should have had moa, but fatha wasn't very well, this spring;
he's eva so much better than when we fust came he'e."

"It has, the name of being a very healthy locality," said Mrs. Lander,
somewhat discontentedly, "though I can't see as it's done me so very much
good, yit.  Both your payrints livin'?"

"Yes'm.  Oh, yes, indeed!"

"And your mother, is she real rugged?  She need to be, with such a flock
of little ones!"

"Yes, motha's always well.  Fatha was just run down, the doctas said, and
ought to keep more in the open aia.  That's what he's done since he came
he'e.  He helped a great deal on the house and he planned it all out
himself."

"Is he a ca'penta?" asked Mrs. Lander.

"No'm; but he's--I don't know how to express it--he likes to do every
kind of thing."

"But he's got some business, ha'n't he?"  A shadow of severity crept over
Mrs. Lander's tone, in provisional reprehension of possible
shiftlessness.

"Yes'm.  He was a machinist at the Mills; that's what the doctas thought
didn't agree with him.  He bought a piece of land he'e, so as to be in
the pine woods, and then we built this house."

"When did you say you came?"

"Two yea's ago, this summa."

"Well!  What did you do befoa you built this house?"

"We camped the first summa."

"You camped?  In a tent?"

"Well, it was pahtly a tent, and pahtly bank."

"I should have thought you would have died."

The girl laughed.  "Oh, no, we all kept fast-rate.  We slept in the tents
we had two--and we cooked in the shanty."  She smiled at the notion in
adding, "At fast the neighbas thought we we'e Gipsies; and the summa
folks thought we were Indians, and wanted to get baskets of us."

Mrs. Lander did not know what to think, and she asked, "But didn't it
almost perish you, stayin' through the winter in an unfinished house?"

"Well, it was pretty cold.  But it was so dry, the aia was, and the woods
kept the wind off nicely."

The same shrill voice in the region of the stovepipe which had sent the
girl to the Landers now called her from them.  "Clem!  Come here a
minute!"

The girl said to Mrs. Lander, politely, "You'll have to excuse me, now'm.
I've got to go to motha."

"So do!" said Mrs. Lander, and she was so taken by the girl's art and
grace in getting to her feet and fading into the background of the
hallway without visibly casting any detail of her raiment, that she was
not aware of her husband's starting up the horse in time to stop him.
They were fairly under way again, when she lamented, "What you doin',
Albe't?  Whe'e you goin'?"

"I'm goin' to South Middlemount.  Didn't you want to?"

"Well, of all the men!  Drivin' right off without waitin' to say thankye
to the child, or take leave, or anything!"

"Seemed to me as if SHE took leave."

"But she was comin' back!  And I wanted to ask--"

"I guess you asked enough for one while.  Ask the rest to-morra."

Mrs. Lander was a woman who could often be thrown aside from an immediate
purpose, by the suggestion of some remoter end, which had already,
perhaps, intimated itself to her.  She said, "That's true," but by the
time her husband had driven down one of the roads beyond the woods into
open country, she was a quiver of intolerable curiosity.  "Well, all I've
got to say is that I sha'n't rest till I know all about 'em."

"Find out when we get back to the hotel, I guess," said her husband.

"No, I can't wait till I get back to the hotel.  I want to know now.  I
want you should stop at the very fust house we come to.  Dea'!  The'e
don't seem to be any houses, any moa."  She peered out around the side of
the carry-all and scrutinized the landscape.  "Hold on!  No, yes it is,
too!  Whoa!  Whoa!  The'e's a man in that hay-field, now!"

She laid hold of the reins and pulled the horse to a stand.  Mr. Lander
looked round over his shoulder at her.  "Hadn't you betta wait till you
get within half a mile of the man?"

"Well, I want you should stop when you do git to him.  Will you?  I want
to speak to him, and ask him all about those folks."

"I didn't suppose you'd let me have much of a chance," said her husband.
When he came within easy hail of the man in the hay-field, he pulled up
beside the meadow-wall, where the horse began to nibble the blackberry
vines that overran it.

Mrs. Lander beckoned and called to the man, who had stopped pitching hay
and now stood leaning on the handle of his fork.  At the signs and sounds
she made, he came actively forward to the road, bringing his fork with
him.  When he arrived within easy conversational distance, he planted the
tines in the ground and braced himself at an opposite incline from the
long smooth handle, and waited for Mrs. Lander to begin.

"Will you please tell us who those folks ah', livin' back there in the
edge of the woods, in that new unfinished house?"

The man released his fork with one hand to stoop for a head of timothy
that had escaped the scythe, and he put the stem of it between his teeth,
where it moved up and down, and whipped fantastically about as he talked,
before he answered, "You mean the Claxons?"

"I don't know what thei' name is."  Mrs. Lander repeated exactly what she
had said.

The farmer said, "Long, red-headed man, kind of sickly-lookin'?"

"We didn't see the man"--

"Little woman, skinny-lookin; pootty tonguey?"

"We didn't see her, eitha; but I guess we hea'd her at the back of the
house."

"Lot o' children, about as big as pa'tridges, runnin' round in the
bushes?"

"Yes!  And a very pretty-appearing girl; about thi'teen or fou'teen, I
should think."

The farmer pulled his fork out of the ground, and planted it with his
person at new slopes in the figure of a letter A, rather more upright
than before.  "Yes; it's them," he said.  "Ha'n't been in the neighbahood
a great while, eitha.  Up from down Po'tland way, some'res, I guess.
Built that house last summer, as far as it's got, but I don't believe
it's goin' to git much fa'tha."

"Why, what's the matta?"  demanded Mrs. Lander in an anguish of interest.

The man in the hay-field seemed to think it more dignified to include
Lander in this inquiry, and he said with a glimmer of the eye for him,
"Hea'd of do-nothin' folks?"

"Seen 'em, too," answered Lander, comprehensively.

"Well, that a'n't Claxon's complaint exactly.  He a'n't a do-nothin';
he's a do-everything.  I guess it's about as bad."  Lander glimmered back
at the man, but did not speak.

"Kind of a machinist down at the Mills, where he come from," the farmer
began again, and Mrs. Lander, eager not to be left out of the affair for
a moment, interrupted:

"Yes, Yes!  That's what the gul said."

"But he don't seem to think't the i'on agreed with him, and now he's
goin' in for wood.  Well, he did have a kind of a foot-powa tu'nin'
lathe, and tuned all sots o' things; cups, and bowls, and u'ns for fence-
posts, and vases, and sleeve-buttons and little knick-knacks; but the
place bunt down, here, a while back, and he's been huntin' round for
wood, the whole winta long, to make canes out of for the summa-folks.
Seems to think that the smell o' the wood, whether it's green or it's
dry, is goin' to cure him, and he can't git too much of it."

"Well, I believe it's so, Albe't!" cried Mrs. Lander, as if her husband
had disputed the theory with his taciturn back.  He made no other sign of
controversy, and the man in the hay-field went on.

"I hea' he's goin' to put up a wind mill, back in an open place he's got,
and use the powa for tu'nin', if he eva gits it up.  But he don't seem to
be in any great of a hurry, and they scrape along somehow.  Wife takes in
sewin' and the girl wo'ked at the Middlemount House last season.  Whole
fam'ly's got to tu'n in and help s'po't a man that can do everything."

The farmer appealed with another humorous cast of his eye to Lander; but
the old man tacitly refused to take any further part in the talk, which
began to flourish apace, in question and answer, between his wife and the
man in the hay-field.  It seemed that the children had all inherited the
father's smartness.  The oldest boy could beat the nation at figures, and
one of the young ones could draw anything you had a mind to.  They were
all clear up in their classes at school, and yet you might say they
almost ran wild, between times.  The oldest girl was a pretty-behaved
little thing, but the man in the hay-field guessed there was not very
much to her, compared with some of the boys.  Any rate, she had not the
name of being so smart at school.  Good little thing, too, and kind of
mothered the young ones.

Mrs. Lander, when she had wrung the last drop of information out of him,
let him crawl back to his work, mentally flaccid, and let her husband
drive on, but under a fire of conjecture and asseveration that was
scarcely intermitted till they reached their hotel.  That night she
talked along time about their afternoon's adventure before she allowed
him to go to sleep.  She said she must certainly see the child again;
that they must drive down there in the morning, and ask her all about
herself.

"Albe't," she concluded; "I wish we had her to live with us.  Yes, I do!
I wonder if we could get her to.  You know I always did want to adopt a
baby."

"You neva said so," Mr. Lander opened his mouth almost for the first
time, since the talk began.

"I didn't suppose you'd like it," said his wife.

"Well, she a'n't a baby.  I guess you'd find you had your hands full,
takon' a half-grown gul like that to bring up."

"I shouldn't be afraid any," the wife declared.  "She has just twined
herself round my heat.  I can't get her pretty looks out of my eyes.
I know she's good."

"We'll see how you feel about it in the morning."

The old man began to wind his watch, and his wife seemed to take this for
a sign that the incident was closed, for the present at least.  He seldom
talked, but there came times when he would not even listen.  One of these
was the time after he had wound his watch.  A minute later he had
undressed, with an agility incredible of his years, and was in bed, as
effectively blind and deaf to his wife's appeals as if he were already
asleep.




II.

When Albert Gallatin Lander (he was named for an early Secretary of the
Treasury as a tribute to the statesman's financial policy) went out of
business, his wife began to go out of health; and it became the most
serious affair of his declining years to provide for her invalid fancies.
He would have liked to buy a place in the Boston suburbs (he preferred
one of the Newtons) where they could both have had something to do, she
inside of the house, and he outside; but she declared that what they both
needed was a good long rest, with freedom from care and trouble of every
kind.  She broke up their establishment in Boston, and stored their
furniture, and she would have made him sell the simple old house in which
they had always lived, on an unfashionable up-and-down-hill street of the
West End, if he had not taken one of his stubborn stands, and let it for
a term of years without consulting her.  But she had her way about their
own movements, and they began that life of hotels, which they had now
lived so long that she believed any other impossible.  Its luxury and
idleness had told upon each of them with diverse effect.

They had both entered upon it in much the same corporal figure, but she
had constantly grown in flesh, while he had dwindled away until he was
not much more than half the weight of his prime.  Their digestion was
alike impaired by their joint life, but as they took the same medicines
Mrs. Lander was baffled to account for the varying result.  She was sure
that all the anxiety came upon her, and that logically she was the one
who ought to have wasted away.  But she had before her the spectacle of a
husband who, while he gave his entire attention to her health, did not
audibly or visibly worry about it, and yet had lost weight in such
measure that upon trying on a pair of his old trousers taken out of
storage with some clothes of her own, he found it impossible to use the
side pockets which the change in his figure carried so far to the rear
when the garment was reduced at the waist.  At the same time her own
dresses of ten years earlier would not half meet round her; and one of
the most corroding cares of a woman who had done everything a woman could
to get rid of care, was what to do with those things which they could
neither of them ever wear again.  She talked the matter over with herself
before her husband, till he took the desperate measure of sending them
back to storage; and they had been left there in the spring when the
Landers came away for the summer.

They always spent the later spring months at a hotel in the suburbs of
Boston, where they arrived in May from a fortnight in a hotel at New
York, on their way up from hotels in Washington, Ashville, Aiken and
St. Augustine.  They passed the summer months in the mountains, and early
in the autumn they went back to the hotel in the Boston suburbs, where
Mrs. Lander considered it essential to make some sojourn before going to
a Boston hotel for November and December, and getting ready to go down to
Florida in January.  She would not on any account have gone directly to
the city from the mountains, for people who did that were sure to lose
the good of their summer, and to feel the loss all the winter, if they
did not actually come down with a fever.

She was by no means aware that she was a selfish or foolish person.  She
made Mr. Lander subscribe statedly to worthy objects in Boston, which she
still regarded as home, because they had not dwelt any where else since
they ceased to live there; and she took lavishly of tickets for all the
charitable entertainments in the hotels where they stayed.  Few if any
guests at hotels enjoyed so much honor from porters, bell-boys, waiters,
chambermaids and bootblacks as the Landers, for they gave richly in fees
for every conceivable service which could be rendered them; they went out
of their way to invent debts of gratitude to menials who had done nothing
for them.  He would make the boy who sold papers at the dining-room door
keep the change, when he had been charged a profit of a hundred per cent.
already; and she would let no driver who had plundered them according to
the carriage tariff escape without something for himself.

A sense of their munificence penetrated the clerks and proprietors with a
just esteem for guests who always wanted the best of everything, and
questioned no bill for extras.  Mrs. Lander, in fact, who ruled these
expenditures, had no knowledge of the value of things, and made her
husband pay whatever was asked.  Yet when they lived under their own roof
they had lived simply, and Lander had got his money in an old-fashioned
business way, and not in some delirious speculation such as leaves a man
reckless of money afterwards.  He had been first of all a tailor, and
then he had gone into boys' and youths' clothing in a small way, and
finally he had mastered this business and come out at the top, with his
hands full.  He invested his money so prosperously that the income for
two elderly people, who had no children, and only a few outlying
relations on his side, was far beyond their wants, or even their whims.

She as a woman, who in spite of her bulk and the jellylike majesty with
which she shook in her smoothly casing brown silks, as she entered hotel
dining-rooms, and the severity with which she frowned over her fan down
the length of the hotel drawing-rooms, betrayed more than her husband the
commonness of their origin.  She could not help talking, and her accent
and her diction gave her away for a middle-class New England person of
village birth and unfashionable sojourn in Boston.  He, on the contrary,
lurked about the hotels where they passed their days in a silence so
dignified that when his verbs and nominatives seemed not to agree, you
accused your own hearing.  He was correctly dressed, as an elderly man
should be, in the yesterday of the fashions, and he wore with
impressiveness a silk hat whenever such a hat could be worn.  A pair of
drab cloth gaiters did much to identify him with an old school of
gentlemen, not very definite in time or place.  He had a full gray beard
cut close, and he was in the habit of pursing his mouth a great deal.
But he meant nothing by it, and his wife meant nothing by her frowning.
They had no wish to subdue or overawe any one, or to pass for persons of
social distinction.  They really did not know what society was, and they
were rather afraid of it than otherwise as they caught sight of it in
their journeys and sojourns.  They led a life of public seclusion, and
dwelling forever amidst crowds, they were all in all to each other, and
nothing to the rest of the world, just as they had been when they resided
(as they would have said) on Pinckney street.  In their own house they
had never entertained, though they sometimes had company, in the style of
the country town where Mrs. Lander grew up.  As soon as she was released
to the grandeur of hotel life, she expanded to the full measure of its
responsibilities and privileges, but still without seeking to make it the
basis of approach to society.  Among the people who surrounded her, she
had not so much acquaintance as her husband even, who talked so little
that he needed none.  She sometimes envied his ease in getting on with
people when he chose; and his boldness in speaking to fellow guests and
fellow travellers, if he really wanted anything.  She wanted something of
them all the time, she wanted their conversation and their companionship;
but in her ignorance of the social arts she was thrown mainly upon the
compassion of the chambermaids.  She kept these talking as long as she
could detain them in her rooms; and often fed them candy (which she ate
herself with childish greed) to bribe them to further delays.  If she was
staying some days in a hotel, she sent for the house-keeper, and made all
she could of her as a listener, and as soon as she settled herself for a
week, she asked who was the best doctor in the place.  With doctors she
had no reserves, and she poured out upon them the history of her diseases
and symptoms in an inexhaustible flow of statement, conjecture and
misgiving, which was by no means affected by her profound and
inexpugnable ignorance of the principles of health.  From time to time
she forgot which side her liver was on, but she had been doctored (as she
called it) for all her organs, and she was willing to be doctored for any
one of them that happened to be in the place where she fancied a present
discomfort.  She was not insensible to the claims which her husband's
disorders had upon science, and she liked to end the tale of her own
sufferings with some such appeal as: "I wish you could do something for
Mr. Landa, too, docta."  She made him take a little of each medicine that
was left for her; but in her presence he always denied that there was
anything the matter with him, though he was apt to follow the doctor out
of the room, and get a prescription from him for some ailment which he
professed not to believe in himself, but wanted to quiet Mrs. Lander's
mind about.

He rose early, both from long habit, and from the scant sleep of an
elderly man; he could not lie in bed; but his wife always had her
breakfast there and remained so long that the chambermaid had done up
most of the other rooms and had leisure for talk with her.  As soon as he
was awake, he stole softly out and was the first in the dining-room for
breakfast.  He owned to casual acquaintance in moments of expansion that
breakfast was his best meal, but he did what he could to make it his
worst by beginning with oranges and oatmeal, going forward to beefsteak
and fried potatoes, and closing with griddle cakes and syrup, washed down
with a cup of cocoa, which his wife decided to be wholesomer than coffee.
By the time he had finished such a repast, he crept out of the dining-
room in a state of tension little short of anguish, which he confided to
the sympathy of the bootblack in the washroom.

He always went from having his shoes polished to get a toothpick at the
clerk's desk; and at the Middlemount House, the morning after he had been
that drive with Mrs. Lander, he lingered a moment with his elbows beside
the register.  "How about a buckboa'd?" he asked.

"Something you can drive yourself "--the clerk professionally dropped his
eye to the register--"Mr. Lander?"

"Well, no, I guess not, this time," the little man returned, after a
moment's reflection.  "Know anything of a family named Claxon, down the
road, here, a piece?"  He twisted his head in the direction he meant.

"This is my first season at Middlemount; but I guess Mr. Atwell will
know."  The clerk called to the landlord, who was smoking in his private
room behind the office, and the landlord came out.  The clerk repeated
Mr. Lander's questions.

"Pootty good kind of folks, I guess," said the landlord provisionally,
through his cigar-smoke.  "Man's a kind of univussal genius, but he's got
a nice family of children; smaht as traps, all of 'em."

"How about that oldest gul?" asked Mr. Lander.

"Well, the'a," said the landlord, taking the cigar out of his mouth.
"I think she's about the nicest little thing goin'.  We've had her up
he'e, to help out in a busy time, last summer, and she's got moo sense
than guls twice as old.  Takes hold like--lightnin'."

"About how old did you say she was?"

"Well, you've got me the'a, Mr. Landa; I guess I'll ask Mis' Atwell."

"The'e's no hurry," said Lander.  "That buckboa'd be round pretty soon?"
he asked of the clerk.

"Be right along now, Mr. Lander," said the clerk, soothingly.  He stepped
out to the platform that the teams drove up to from the stable, and came
back to say that it was coming.  "I believe you said you wanted something
you could drive yourself?"

"No, I didn't, young man," answered the elder sharply.  But the next
moment he added, "Come to think of it, I guess it's just as well.  You
needn't get me no driver.  I guess I know the way well enough.  You put
me in a hitchin' strap."

"All right, Mr. Lander," said the clerk, meekly.

The landlord had caught the peremptory note in Lander's voice, and he
came out of his room again to see that there was nothing going wrong.

"It's all right," said Lander, and went out and got into his buckboard.

"Same horse you had yesterday," said the young clerk.  "You don't need to
spare the whip."

"I guess I can look out for myself," said Lander, and he shook the reins
and gave the horse a smart cut, as a hint of what he might expect.

The landlord joined the clerk in looking after the brisk start the horse
made.  "Not the way he set off with the old lady, yesterday," suggested
the clerk.

The landlord rolled his cigar round in his tubed lips.  "I guess he's
used to ridin' after a good hoss."  He added gravely to the clerk, "You
don't want to make very free with that man, Mr. Pane.  He won't stan' it,
and he's a class of custom that you want to cata to when it comes in your
way.  I suspicioned what he was when they came here and took the highest
cost rooms without tu'nin' a haia.  They're a class of custom that you
won't get outside the big hotels in the big reso'ts.  Yes, sir," said the
landlord taking a fresh start, "they're them kind of folks that live the
whole yea' round in hotels; no'th in summa, south in winta, and city
hotels between times.  They want the best their money can buy, and they
got plenty of it.  She"--he meant Mrs. Lander--"has been tellin' my wife
how they do; she likes to talk a little betta than he doos; and I guess
when it comes to society, they're away up, and they won't stun' any
nonsense."




III.

Lander came into his wife's room between ten and eleven o'clock, and
found her still in bed, but with her half-finished breakfast on a tray
before her.  As soon as he opened the door she said, "I do wish you would
take some of that heat-tonic of mine, Albe't, that the docta left for me
in Boston.  You'll find it in the upper right bureau box, the'a; and I
know it'll be the very thing for you.  It'll relieve you of that
suffocatin' feeling that I always have, comin' up stars.  Dea'!  I don't
see why they don't have an elevata; they make you pay enough; and I wish
you'd get me a little more silva, so's't I can give to the chambamaid and
the bell-boy; I do hate to be out of it.  I guess you been up and out
long ago.  They did make that polonaise of mine too tight after all I
said, and I've been thinkin' how I could get it alt'ed; but I presume
there ain't a seamstress to be had around he'e for love or money.  Well,
now, that's right, Albe't; I'm glad to see you doin' it."

Lander had opened the lid of the bureau box, and uncorked a bottle from
it, and tilted this to his lips.

"Don't take too much," she cautioned him, "or you'll lose the effects.
When I take too much of a medicine, it's wo'se than nothing, as fah's I
can make out.  When I had that spell in Thomasville spring before last,
I believe I should have been over it twice as quick if I had taken just
half the medicine I did.  You don't really feel anyways bad about the
heat, do you, Albe't?"

"I'm all right," said Lander.  He put back the bottle in its place and
sat down.

Mrs. Lander lifted herself on her elbow and looked over at him.
"Show me on the bottle how much you took."

He got the bottle out again and showed her with his thumb nail a point
which he chose at random.

"Well, that was just about the dose for you," she said; and she sank down
in bed again with the air of having used a final precaution.  "You don't
want to slow your heat up too quick."

Lander did not put the bottle back this time.  He kept it in his hand,
with his thumb on the cork, and rocked it back and forth on his knees as
he spoke.  "Why don't you get that woman to alter it for you?"

"What woman alta what?"

"Your polonaise.  The one whe'e we stopped yestaday."

"Oh!  Well, I've been thinkin' about that child, Albe't; I did before I
went to sleep; and I don't believe I want to risk anything with her.  It
would be a ca'e," said Mrs. Lander with a sigh, "and I guess I don't want
to take any moa ca'e than what I've got now.  What makes you think she
could alta my polonaise?"

"Said she done dress-makin'," said Lander, doggedly.

"You ha'n't been the'a?"

He nodded.

"You didn't say anything to her about her daughta?"

"Yes, I did," said Lander.

"Well, you ce'tainly do equal anything," said his wife.  She lay still
awhile, and then she roused herself with indignant energy.  "Well, then,
I can tell you what, Albe't Landa: yon can go right straight and take
back everything you said.  I don't want the child, and I won't have her.
I've got care enough to worry me now, I should think; and we should have
her whole family on our hands, with that shiftless father of hers, and
the whole pack of her brothas and sistas.  What made you think I wanted
you to do such a thing?"

"You wanted me to do it last night.  Wouldn't ha'dly let me go to bed."

"Yes!  And how many times have I told you nova to go off and do a thing
that I wanted you to, unless you asked me if I did?  Must I die befo'e
you can find out that there is such a thing as talkin', and such anotha
thing as doin'?  You wouldn't get yourself into half as many scrapes if
you talked more and done less, in this wo'ld."  Lander rose.

"Wait!  Hold on!  What are you going to say to the pooa thing?  She'll be
so disappointed!"

"I don't know as I shall need to say anything myself," answered the
little man, at his dryest.  "Leave that to you."

"Well, I can tell you," returned his wife, "I'm not goin' nea' them
again; and if you think--What did you ask the woman, anyway?"

"I asked her," he said, "if she wanted to let the gul come and see you
about some sewing you had to have done, and she said she did."

"And you didn't speak about havin' her come to live with us?"

"No."

"Well, why in the land didn't you say so before, Albe't?"

"You didn't ask me.  What do you want I should say to her now?"

"Say to who?"

"The gul.  She's down in the pahlor, waitin'."

"Well, of all the men!"  cried Mrs. Lander.  But she seemed to find
herself, upon reflection, less able to cope with Lander personally than
with the situation generally.  "Will you send her up, Albe't?" she asked,
very patiently, as if he might be driven to further excesses, if not
delicately handled.  As soon as he had gone out of the room she wished
that she had told him to give her time to dress and have her room put in
order, before he sent the child up; but she could only make the best of
herself in bed with a cap and a breakfast jacket, arranged with the help
of a handglass.  She had to get out of bed to put her other clothes away
in the closet and she seized the chance to push the breakfast tray out of
the door, and smooth up the bed, while she composed her features and her
ideas to receive her visitor.  Both, from long habit rather than from any
cause or reason, were of a querulous cast, and her ordinary tone was a
snuffle expressive of deep-seated affliction.  She was at once plaintive
and voluable, and in moments of excitement her need of freeing her mind
was so great that she took herself into her own confidence, and found a
more sympathetic listener than when she talked to her husband.  As she
now whisked about her room in her bed-gown with an activity not
predicable of her age and shape, and finally plunged under the covering
and drew it up to her chin with one hand while she pressed it out
decorously over her person with the other, she kept up a rapid flow of
lamentation and conjecture.  "I do suppose he'll be right back with her
before I'm half ready; and what the man was thinkin' of to do such a
thing anyway, I don't know.  I don't know as she'll notice much, comin'
out of such a lookin' place as that, and I don't know as I need to care
if she did.  But if the'e's care anywhe's around, I presume I'm the one
to have it.  I presume I did take a fancy to her, and I guess I shall be
glad to see how I like her now; and if he's only told her I want some
sewin' done, I can scrape up something to let her carry home with her.
It's well I keep my things where I can put my hand on 'em at a time like
this, and I don't believe I shall sca'e the child, as it is.  I do hope
Albe't won't hang round half the day before he brings her; I like to have
a thing ova."

Lander wandered about looking for the girl through the parlors and the
piazzas, and then went to the office to ask what had become of her.

The landlord came out of his room at his question to the clerk.  "Oh, I
guess she's round in my wife's room, Mr. Landa.  She always likes to see
Clementina, and I guess they all do.  She's a so't o' pet amongst 'em."

"No hurry," said Lander, "I guess my wife ain't quite ready for her yet."

"Well, she'll be right out, in a minute or so," said the landlord.

The old man tilted his hat forward over his eyes, and went to sit on the
veranda and look at the landscape while he waited.  It was one of the
loveliest landscapes in the mountains; the river flowed at the foot of an
abrupt slope from the road before the hotel, stealing into and out of the
valley, and the mountains, gray in the farther distance, were draped with
folds of cloud hanging upon their flanks and tops.  But Lander was tired
of nearly all kinds of views and prospects, though he put' up with them,
in his perpetual movement from place to place, in the same resignation
that he suffered the limitations of comfort in parlor cars and sleepers,
and the unwholesomeness of hotel tables.  He was chained to the restless
pursuit of an ideal not his own, but doomed to suffer for its
impossibility as if he contrived each of his wife's disappointments from
it.  He did not philosophize his situation, but accepted it as in an
order of Providence which it would be useless for him to oppose; though
there were moments when he permitted himself to feel a modest doubt of
its justice.  He was aware that when he had a house of his own he was
master in it, after a fashion, and that as long as he was in business he
was in some sort of authority.  He perceived that now he was a slave to
the wishes of a mistress who did not know what she wanted, and that he
was never farther from pleasing her than when he tried to do what she
asked.  He could not have told how all initiative had been taken from
him, and he had fallen into the mere follower of a woman guided only by
her whims, who had no object in life except to deprive it of all object.
He felt no rancor toward her for this; he knew that she had a tender
regard for him, and that she believed she was considering him first in
her most selfish arrangements.  He always hoped that sometime she would
get tired of her restlessness, and be willing to settle down again in
some stated place; and wherever it was, he meant to get into some kind of
business again.  Till this should happen he waited with an apathetic
patience of which his present abeyance was a detail.  He would hardly
have thought it anything unfit, and certainly nothing surprising, that
the landlady should have taken the young girl away from where he had left
her, and then in the pleasure of talking with her, and finding her a
centre of interest for the whole domestic force of the hotel, should have
forgotten to bring her back.

The Middlemount House had just been organized on the scale of a first
class hotel, with prices that had risen a little in anticipation of the
other improvements.  The landlord had hitherto united in himself the
functions of clerk and head waiter, but he had now got a senior, who was
working his way through college, to take charge of the dining-room, and
had put in the office a youth of a year's experience as under clerk at a
city hotel.  But he meant to relinquish no more authority than his wife
who frankly kept the name as well as duty of house-keeper.  It was in
making her morning inspection of the dusting that she found Clementina in
the parlor where Lander had told her to sit down till he should come for
her.

"Why, Clem!" she said, "I didn't know you!  You have grown so!  Youa
folks all well?  I decla'e you ah' quite a woman now," she added, as the
girl stood up in her slender, graceful height.  "You look as pretty as a
pink in that hat.  Make that dress youaself?  Well, you do beat the
witch!  I want you should come to my room with me."

Mrs. Atwell showered other questions and exclamations on the girl, who
explained how she happened to be there, and said that she supposed she
must stay where she was for fear Mr. Lander should come back and find her
gone; but Mrs. Atwell overruled her with the fact that Mrs. Lander's
breakfast had just gone up to her; and she made her come out and see the
new features of the enlarged house-keeping.  In the dining-room there
were some of the waitresses who had been there the summer before, and
recognitions of more or less dignity passed between them and Clementina.
The place was now shut against guests, and the head-waiter was having it
put in order for the one o'clock dinner.  As they came near him, Mrs.
Atwell introduced him to Clementina, and he behaved deferentially, as if
she were some young lady visitor whom Mrs. Atwell was showing the
improvements, but he seemed harassed and impatient, as if he were anxious
about his duties, and eager to get at them again.  He was a handsome
little fellow, with hair lighter than Clementina's and a sanguine
complexion, and the color coming and going.

"He's smaht," said Mrs. Atwell, when they had left him--he held the
dining-room door open for them, and bowed them out.  "I don't know but he
worries almost too much.  That'll wear off when he gets things runnin' to
suit him.  He's pretty p'tic'la'.  Now I'll show you how they've made the
office over, and built in a room for Mr. Atwell behind it."

The landlord welcomed Clementina as if she had been some acceptable class
of custom, and when the tall young clerk came in to ask him something,
and Mrs. Atwell said, "I want to introduce you to Miss Claxon, Mr. Fane,"
the clerk smiled down upon her from the height of his smooth, acquiline
young face, which he held bent encouragingly upon one side.

"Now, I want you should come in and see where I live, a minute," said
Mrs. Atwell.  She took the girl from the clerk, and led her to the
official housekeeper's room which she said had been prepared for her so
that folks need not keep running to her in her private room where she
wanted to be alone with her children, when she was there.  "Why, you
a'n't much moa than a child youaself, Clem, and here I be talkin' to you
as if you was a mother in Israel.  How old ah' you, this summa?  Time
does go so!"

"I'm sixteen now," said Clementina, smiling.

"You be?  Well, I don't see why I say that, eitha!  You're full lahge
enough for your age, but not seein' you in long dresses before, I didn't
realize your age so much.  My, but you do all of you know how to do
things!"

"I'm about the only one that don't, Mrs. Atwell," said the girl.  "If it
hadn't been for mother, I don't believe I could have eva finished this
dress."  She began to laugh at something passing in her mind, and Mrs.
Atwell laughed too, in sympathy, though she did not know what at till
Clementina said, "Why, Mrs. Atwell, nea'ly the whole family wo'ked on
this dress.  Jim drew the patte'n of it from the dress of one of the
summa boa'das that he took a fancy to at the Centa, and fatha cut it out,
and I helped motha make it.  I guess every one of the children helped a
little."

"Well, it's just as I said, you can all of you do things," said Mrs.
Atwell.  "But I guess you ah' the one that keeps 'em straight.  What did
you say Mr. Landa said his wife wanted of you?"

"He said some kind of sewing that motha could do."

"Well, I'll tell you what!  Now, if she ha'n't really got anything that
your motha'll want you to help with, I wish you'd come here again and
help me.  I tuned my foot, here, two-three weeks back, and I feel it,
times, and I should like some one to do about half my steppin' for me.
I don't want to take you away from her, but IF.  You sha'n't go int' the
dinin'room, or be under anybody's oddas but mine.  Now, will you?"

"I'll see, Mrs. Atwell.  I don't like to say anything till I know what
Mrs. Landa wants."

"Well, that's right.  I decla'e, you've got moa judgment!  That's what I
used to say about you last summa to my husband: she's got judgment.
Well, what's wanted?"  Mrs. Atwell spoke to her husband, who had opened
her door and looked in, and she stopped rocking, while she waited his
answer.

"I guess you don't want to keep Clementina from Mr. Landa much longa.
He's settin' out there on the front piazza waitin' for her."

"Well, the'a!" cried Mrs. Atwell.  "Ain't that just like me?  Why didn't
you tell me sooner, Alonzo?  Don't you forgit what I said, Clem!"




IV.

Mrs. Lander had taken twice of a specific for what she called her nerve-
fag before her husband came with Clementina, and had rehearsed aloud many
of the things she meant to say to the girl.  In spite of her preparation,
they were all driven out of her head when Clementina actually appeared,
and gave her a bow like a young birch's obeisance in the wind.

"Take a chaia," said Lander, pushing her one, and the girl tilted over
toward him, before she sank into it.  He went out of the room, and left
Mrs. Lander to deal with the problem alone.  She apologized for being in
bed, but Clementina said so sweetly, "Mr. Landa told me you were not
feeling very well, 'm," that she began to be proud of her ailments, and
bragged of them at length, and of the different doctors who had treated
her for them.  While she talked she missed one thing or another, and
Clementina seemed to divine what it was she wanted, and got it for her,
with a gentle deference which made the elder feel her age cushioned by
the girl's youth.  When she grew a little heated from the interest she
took in her personal annals, and cast off one of the folds of her bed
clothing, Clementina got her a fan, and asked her if she should put up
one of the windows a little.

"How you do think of things!" said Mrs. Lander.  "I guess I will let you.
I presume you get used to thinkin' of othas in a lahge family like youas.
I don't suppose they could get along without you very well," she
suggested.

"I've neva been away except last summa, for a little while."

"And where was you then?"

"I was helping Mrs. Atwell."

"Did you like it?"

"I don't know," said Clementina.  "It's pleasant to be whe'e things ah'
going on."

"Yes--for young folks," said Mrs. Lander, whom the going on of things had
long ceased to bring pleasure.

"It's real nice at home, too," said Clementina.  "We have very good
times--evenings in the winta; in the summer it's very nice in the woods,
around there.  It's safe for the children, and they enjoy it, and fatha
likes to have them.  Motha don't ca'e so much about it.  I guess she'd
ratha have the house fixed up more, and the place.  Fatha's going to do
it pretty soon.  He thinks the'e's time enough."

"That's the way with men," said Mrs. Lander.  "They always think the's
time enough; but I like to have things over and done with.  What chuhch
do you 'tend?"

"Well, there isn't any but the Episcopal," Clementina answered.  "I go to
that, and some of the children go to the Sunday School.  I don't believe
fatha ca'es very much for going to chuhch, but he likes Mr. Richling;
he's the recta.  They take walks in the woods; and they go up the
mountains togetha."

"They want," said Mrs. Lander, severely, "to be ca'eful how they drink of
them cold brooks when they're heated.  Mr. Richling a married man?"

"Oh, yes'm!  But they haven't got any family."

"If I could see his wife, I sh'd caution her about lettin' him climb
mountains too much.  A'n't your father afraid he'll ovado?"

"I don't know.  He thinks he can't be too much in the open air on the
mountains."

"Well, he may not have the same complaint as Mr. Landa; but I know if I
was to climb a mountain,' it would lay me up for a yea'."

The girl did not urge anything against this conviction.  She smiled
politely and waited patiently for the next turn Mrs. Lander's talk should
take, which was oddly enough toward the business Clementina had come
upon.

"I declare I most forgot about my polonaise.  Mr. Landa said your motha
thought she could do something to it for me."

"Yes'm."

"Well, I may as well 'let you see it.  If you'll reach into that fuhthest
closet, you'll find it on the last uppa hook on the right hand, and if
you'll give it to me, I'll show you what I want done.  Don't mind the
looks of that closet; I've just tossed my things in, till I could get a
little time and stren'th to put 'em in odda."

Clementina brought the polonaise to Mrs. Lander, who sat up and spread it
before her on the bed, and had a happy half hour in telling the girl
where she had bought the material and where she had it made up, and how
it came home just as she was going away, and she did not find out that it
was all wrong till a week afterwards when she tried it on.  By the end of
this time the girl had commended herself so much by judicious and
sympathetic assent, that Mrs. Lander learned with a shock of
disappointment that her mother expected her to bring the garment home
with her, where Mrs. Lander was to come and have it fitted over for the
alterations she wanted made.

"But I supposed, from what Mr. Landa said, that your motha would come
here and fit me!"  she lamented.

"I guess he didn't undastand, 'm.  Motha doesn't eva go out to do wo'k,"
said Clementina gently but firmly.

"Well, I might have known Mr. Landa would mix it up, if it could be
mixed; "Mrs. Lander's sense of injury was aggravated by her suspicion
that he had brought the girl in the hope of pleasing her, and confirming
her in the wish to have her with them; she was not a woman who liked to
have her way in spite of herself; she wished at every step to realize
that she was taking it, and that no one else was taking it for her.

"Well," she said dryly, "I shall have to see about it.  I'm a good deal
of an invalid, and I don't know as I could go back and fo'th to try on.
I'm moa used to havin' the things brought to me."

"Yes'm," said Clementina.  She moved a little from the bed, on her way to
the door, to be ready for Mrs. Lander in leave-taking.

"I'm real sorry," said Mrs. Lander.  "I presume it's a disappointment for
you, too."

"Oh, not at all," answered Clementina.  "I'm sorry we can't do the wo'k
he'a; but I know mocha wouldn't like to.  Good-mo'ning,'m!"

"No, no!  Don't go yet a minute!  Won't you just give me my hand bag off
the bureau the'a?  "Mrs. Lander entreated, and when the girl gave her the
bag she felt about among the bank-notes which she seemed to have loose in
it, and drew out a handful of them without regard to their value.
"He'a!" she said, and she tried to put the notes into Clementina's hand,
"I want you should get yourself something."

The girl shrank back.  "Oh, no'm," she said, with an effect of seeming to
know that her refusal would hurt, and with the wish to soften it.
"I--couldn't; indeed I couldn't."

"Why couldn't you?  Now you must!  If I can't let you have the wo'k the
way you want, I don't think it's fair, and you ought to have the money
for it just the same."

Clementina shook her head smiling.  "I don't believe motha would like to
have me take it."

"Oh, now, pshaw!" said Mrs. Lander, inadequately.  "I want you should
take this for youaself; and if you don't want to buy anything to wea',
you can get something to fix your room up with.  Don't you be afraid of
robbin' us.  Land!  We got moa money!  Now you take this."

Mrs. Lander reached the money as far toward Clementina as she could and
shook it in the vehemence of her desire.

"Thank you, I couldn't take it," Clementina persisted.  "I'm afraid I
must be going; I guess I must bid you good-mo'ning."

"Why, I believe the child's sca'ed of me!  But you needn't be.  Don't you
suppose I know how you feel?  You set down in that chai'a there, and I'll
tell you how you feel.  I guess we've been pooa, too--I don't mean
anything that a'n't exactly right--and I guess I've had the same
feelin's.  You think it's demeanin' to you to take it.  A'n't that it?"
Clementina sank provisionally upon the edge of the chair.  "Well, it did
use to be so consid'ed.  But it's all changed, nowadays.  We travel
pretty nee' the whole while, Mr. Lander and me, and we see folks
everywhere, and it a'n't the custom to refuse any moa.  Now, a'n't there
any little thing for your own room, there in your nice new house?  Or
something your motha's got her heat set on?  Or one of your brothas?  My,
if you don't have it, some one else will!  Do take it!"

The girl kept slipping toward the door.  "I shouldn't know what to tell
them, when I got home.  They would think I must be--out of my senses."

"I guess you mean they'd think I was.  Now, listen to me a minute!"
Mrs. Lander persisted.

"You just take this money, and when you get home, you tell your mother
every word about it, and if she says, you bring it right straight back
to me.  Now, can't you do that?"

"I don't know but I can," Clementina faltered.  "Well, then take it!"
Mrs. Lander put the bills into her hand but she did not release her at
once.  She pulled Clementina down and herself up till she could lay her
other arm on her neck.  "I want you should let me kiss you.  Will you?"

"Why, certainly," said Clementina, and she kissed the old woman.

"You tell your mother I'm comin' to see her before I go; and I guess,"
said Mrs. Lander in instant expression of the idea that came into her
mind, "we shall be goin' pretty soon, now."

"Yes'm," said Clementina.

She went out, and shortly after Lander came in with a sort of hopeful
apathy in his face.

Mrs. Lander turned her head on her pillow, and so confronted him.
"Albe't, what made you want me to see that child?"

Lander must have perceived that his wife meant business, and he came to
it at once.  "I thought you might take a fancy to her, and get her to
come and live with us."

"Yes?"

"We're both of us gettin' pretty well on, and you'd ought to have
somebody to look after you if--I'm not around.  You want somebody that
can do for you; and keep you company, and read to you, and talk to you--
well, moa like a daughta than a suvvant--somebody that you'd get attached
to, maybe"--

"And don't you see," Mrs. Lander broke out severely upon him, "what a
ca'e that would be?  Why, it's got so already that I can't help thinkin'
about her the whole while, and if I got attached to her I'd have her on
my mind day and night, and the moa she done for me the more I should be
tewin' around to do for her.  I shouldn't have any peace of my life any
moa.  Can't you see that?"

"I guess if you see it, I don't need to," said Lander.

"Well, then, I want you shouldn't eva mention her to me again.  I've had
the greatest escape!  But I've got her off home, and I've give her money
enough! had a time with her about it--so that they won't feel as if we'd
made 'em trouble for nothing, and now I neva want to hear of her again.
I don't want we should stay here a great while longer; I shall be
frettin' if I'm in reach of her, and I shan't get any good of the ai'a.
Will you promise?"

"Yes."

"Well, then!"  Mrs. Lander turned her face upon the pillow again in the
dramatization of her exhaustion; but she was not so far gone that she was
insensible to the possible interest that a light rap at the door
suggested.  She once more twisted her head in that direction and called,
"Come in!"

The door opened and Clementina came in.  She advanced to the bedside
smiling joyously, and put the money Mrs. Lander had given her down upon
the counterpane.

"Why, you haven't been home, child?"

"No'm," said Clementina, breathlessly.  "But I couldn't take it.  I knew
they wouldn't want me to, and I thought you'd like it better if I just
brought it back myself.  Good-mo'ning."  She slipped out of the door.
Mrs. Lander swept the bank-notes from the coverlet and pulled it over her
head, and sent from beneath it a stifled wail.  "Now we got to go!  And
it's all youa fault, Albe't."

Lander took the money from the floor, and smoothed each bill out, and
then laid them in a neat pile on the corner of the bureau.  He sighed
profoundly but left the room without an effort to justify himself.




V.

The Landers had been gone a week before Clementina's mother decided that
she could spare her to Mrs. Atwell for a while.  It was established that
she was not to serve either in the dining-room or the carving room; she
was not to wash dishes or to do any part of the chamber work, but to
carry messages and orders for the landlady, and to save her steps, when
she wished to see the head-waiter, or the head-cook; or to make an excuse
or a promise to some of the lady-boarders; or to send word to Mr. Atwell
about the buying, or to communicate with the clerk about rooms taken or
left.

She had a good deal of dignity of her own and such a gravity in the
discharge of her duties that the chef, who was a middle-aged Yankee with
grown girls of his own, liked to pretend that it was Mrs. Atwell herself
who was talking with him, and to discover just as she left him that it
was Clementina.  He called her the Boss when he spoke of her to others in
her hearing, and he addressed her as Boss when he feigned to find that it
was not Mrs. Atwell.  She did not mind that in him, and let the chef have
his joke as if it were not one.  But one day when the clerk called her
Boss she merely looked at him without speaking, and made him feel that he
had taken a liberty which he must not repeat.  He was a young man who
much preferred a state of self-satisfaction to humiliation of any sort,
and after he had endured Clementina's gaze as long as he could, he said,
"Perhaps you don't allow anybody but the chef to call you that?"

She did not answer, but repeated the message Mrs. Atwell had given her
for him, and went away.

It seemed to him undue that a person who exchanged repartees with the
young lady boarders across his desk, when they came many times a day to
look at the register, or to ask for letters, should remain snubbed by a
girl who still wore her hair in a braid; but he was an amiable youth, and
he tried to appease her by little favors and services, instead of trying
to bully her.

He was great friends with the head-waiter, whom he respected as a college
student, though for the time being he ranked the student socially.  He
had him in behind the frame of letter-boxes, which formed a sort of
little private room for him, and talked with him at such hours of the
forenoon and the late evening as the student was off duty.  He found
comfort in the student's fretful strength, which expressed itself in the
pugnacious frown of his hot-looking young face, where a bright sorrel
mustache was beginning to blaze on a short upper lip.

Fane thought himself a good-looking fellow, and he regarded his figure
with pleasure, as it was set off by the suit of fine gray check that he
wore habitually; but he thought Gregory's educational advantages told in
his face.  His own education had ended at a commercial college, where he
acquired a good knowledge of bookkeeping, and the fine business hand he
wrote, but where it seemed to him sometimes that the earlier learning of
the public school had been hermetically sealed within him by several
coats of mathematical varnish.  He believed that he had once known a
number of things that he no longer knew, and that he had not always been
so weak in his double letters as he presently found himself.

One night while Gregory sat on a high stool and rested his elbow on the
desk before it, with his chin in his hand, looking down upon Fane, who
sprawled sadly in his chair, and listening to the last dance playing in
the distant parlor, Fane said.  "Now, what'll you bet that they won't
every one of 'em come and look for a letter in her box before she goes to
bed?  I tell you, girls are queer, and there's no place like a hotel to
study 'em."

"I don't want to study them," said Gregory, harshly.

"Think Greek's more worth your while, or know 'em well enough already?"
Fane suggested.

"No, I don't know them at all," said the student.

"I don't believe," urged the clerk, as if it were relevant, "that there's
a girl in the house that you couldn't marry, if you gave your mind to
it."

Gregory twitched irascibly.  "I don't want to marry them."

"Pretty cheap lot, you mean?  Well, I don't know."

"I don't mean that," retorted the student.  "But I've got other things to
think of."

"Don't you believe," the clerk modestly urged, "that it is natural for a
man--well, a young man--to think about girls?"

"I suppose it is."

"And you don't consider it wrong?"

"How, wrong?"

"Well, a waste of time.  I don't know as I always think about wanting to
marry 'em, or be in love, but I like to let my mind run on 'em.  There's
something about a girl that, well, you don't know what it is, exactly.
Take almost any of 'em," said the clerk, with an air of inductive
reasoning.  "Take that Claxon girl, now for example, I don't know what it
is about her.  She's good-looking, I don't deny that; and she's got
pretty manners, and she's as graceful as a bird.  But it a'n't any one of
'em, and it don't seem to be all of 'em put together that makes you want
to keep your eyes on her the whole while.  Ever noticed what a nice
little foot she's got?  Or her hands?"

"No," said the student.

"I don't mean that she ever tries to show them off; though I know some
girls that would.  But she's not that kind.  She ain't much more than a
child, and yet you got to treat her just like a woman.  Noticed the kind
of way she's got?"

"No," said the student, with impatience.

The clerk mused with a plaintive air for a moment before he spoke.
"Well, it's something as if she'd been trained to it, so that she knew
just the right thing to do, every time, and yet I guess it's nature.  You
know how the chef always calls her the Boss?  That explains it about as
well as anything, and I presume that's what my mind was running on, the
other day, when I called her Boss.  But, my!  I can't get anywhere near
her since!"

"It serves you right," said Gregory.  "You had no business to tease her."

"Now, do you think it was teasing?  I did, at first, and then again it
seemed to me that I came out with the word because it seemed the right
one.  I presume I couldn't explain that to her."

"It wouldn't be easy."

"I look upon her," said Fane, with an effect of argument in the sweetness
of his smile, "just as I would upon any other young lady in the house.
Do you spell apology with one p or two?"

"One," said the student, and the clerk made a minute on a piece of paper.

"I feel badly for the girl.  I don't want her to think I was teasing her
or taking any sort of liberty with her.  Now, would you apologize to her,
if you was in my place, and would you write a note, or just wait your
chance and speak to her?"

Gregory got down from his stool with a disdainful laugh, and went out of
the place.  "You make me sick, Fane," he said.

The last dance was over, and the young ladies who had been waltzing with
one another, came out of the parlor with gay cries and laughter, like
summer girls who had been at a brilliant hop, and began to stray down the
piazzas, and storm into the office.  Several of them fluttered up to the
desk, as the clerk had foretold, and looked for letters in the boxes
bearing their initials.  They called him out, and asked if he had not
forgotten something for them.  He denied it with a sad, wise smile, and
then they tried to provoke him to a belated flirtation, in lack of other
material, but he met their overtures discreetly, and they presently said,
Well, they guessed they must go; and went.  Fane turned to encounter
Gregory, who had come in by a side door.

"Fane, I want to beg your pardon.  I was rude to you just now."

"Oh, no!  Oh, no!" the clerk protested.  "That's all right.  Sit down a
while, can't you, and talk with a fellow.  It's early, yet."

"No, I can't.  I just wanted to say I was sorry I spoke in that way.
Good-night.  Is there anything in particular?"

"No; good-night.  I was just wondering about--that girl."

"Oh!"




VI.

Gregory had an habitual severity with his own behavior which did not stop
there, but was always passing on to the behavior of others; and his days
went by in alternate offence and reparation to those he had to do with.
He had to do chiefly with the dining-room girls, whose susceptibilities
were such that they kept about their work bathed in tears or suffused
with anger much of the time.  He was not only good-looking but he was a
college student, and their feelings were ready to bud toward him in
tender efflorescence, but he kept them cropped and blighted by his curt
words and impatient manner.  Some of them loved him for the hurts he did
them, and some hated him, but all agreed fondly or furiously that he was
too cross for anything.  They were mostly young school-mistresses, and
whether they were of a soft and amorous make, or of a forbidding temper,
they knew enough in spite of their hurts to value a young fellow whose
thoughts were not running upon girls all the time.  Women, even in their
spring-time, like men to treat them as if they had souls as well as
hearts, and it was a saving grace in Gregory that he treated them all,
the silliest of them, as if they had souls.  Very likely they responded
more with their hearts than with their souls, but they were aware that
this was not his fault.

The girls that waited at table saw that he did not distinguish in manner
between them and the girls whom they served.  The knot between his brows
did not dissolve in the smiling gratitude of the young ladies whom he
preceded to their places, and pulled out their chairs for, any more than
in the blandishments of a waitress who thanked him for some correction.

They owned when he had been harshest that no one could be kinder if he
saw a girl really trying, or more patient with well meaning stupidity,
but some things fretted him, and he was as apt to correct a girl in her
grammar as in her table service.  Out of work hours, if he met any of
them, he recognized them with deferential politeness; but he shunned
occasions of encounter with them as distinctly as he avoided the ladies
among the hotel guests.  Some of the table girls pitied his loneliness,
and once they proposed that he should read to them on the back piazza in
the leisure of their mid-afternoons.  He said that he had to keep up with
his studies in all the time he could get; he treated their request with
grave civility, but they felt his refusal to be final.

He was seen very little about the house outside of his own place and
function, and he was scarcely known to consort with anyone but Fane, who
celebrated his high sense of the honor to the lady-guests; but if any of
these would have been willing to show Gregory that they considered his
work to get an education as something that redeemed itself from discredit
through the nobility of its object, he gave them no chance to do so.

The afternoon following their talk about Clementina, Gregory looked in
for Fane behind the letter boxes, but did not find him, and the girl
herself came round from the front to say that he was out buying, but
would be back now, very soon; it was occasionally the clerk's business to
forage among the farmers for the lighter supplies, such as eggs, and
butter, and poultry, and this was the buying that Clementina meant.
"Very well, I'll wait here for him a little while," Gregory answered.

"So do," said Clementina, in a formula which she thought polite; but she
saw the frown with which Gregory took a Greek book from his pocket, and
she hurried round in front of the boxes again, wondering how she could
have displeased him.  She put her face in sight a moment to explain, "I
have got to be here and give out the lettas till Mr. Fane gets back," and
then withdrew it.  He tried to lose himself in his book, but her tender
voice spoke from time to time beyond the boxes, and Gregory kept
listening for Clementina to say, "No'm, there a'n't.  Perhaps, the'e'll
be something the next mail," and "Yes'm, he'e's one, and I guess this
paper is for some of youa folks, too."

Gregory shut his book with a sudden bang at last and jumped to his feet,
to go away.

The girl came running round the corner of the boxes.  "Oh!  I thought
something had happened."

"No, nothing has happened," said Gregory, with a sort of violence; which
was heightened by a sense of the rings and tendrils of loose hair
springing from the mass that defined her pretty head.  "Don't you know
that you oughtn't to say 'No'm' and 'Yes'm?"' he demanded, bitterly, and
then he expected to see the water come into her eyes, or the fire into
her cheeks.

Clementina merely looked interested.  "Did I say that?  I meant to say
Yes, ma'am and No, ma'am; but I keep forgetting."

"You oughtn't to say anything!"  Gregory answered savagely, "Just say
Yes, and No, and let your voice do the rest."

"Oh!" said the girl, with the gentlest abeyance, as if charmed with the
novelty of the idea.  "I should be afraid it wasn't polite."

Gregory took an even brutal tone.  It seemed to him as if he were forced
to hurt her feelings.  But his words, in spite of his tone, were not
brutal; they might have even been thought flattering.  "The politeness is
in the manner, and you don't need anything but your manner."

"Do you think so, truly?" asked the girl joyously.  "I should like to try
it once!"

He frowned again.  "I've no business to criticise your way of speaking."

"Oh yes'm--yes, ma'am; sir, I mean; I mean, Oh, yes, indeed!  The'a!
It does sound just as well, don't it?"  Clementina laughed in triumph at
the outcome of her efforts, so that a reluctant visional smile came upon
Gregory's face, too.  I'm very mach obliged to you, Mr. Gregory--I shall
always want to do it, if it's the right way."

"It's the right way," said Gregory coldly.

"And don't they," she urged, "don't they really say Sir and Ma'am, whe'e
--whe'e you came from?"

He said gloomily, "Not ladies and gentlemen.  Servants do.  Waiters--like
me."  He inflicted this stab to his pride with savage fortitude and he
bore with self-scorn the pursuit of her innocent curiosity.

"But I thought--I thought you was a college student."

"Were," Gregory corrected her, involuntarily, and she said, "Were, I
mean."

"I'm a student at college, and here I'm a servant!  It's all right!" he
said with a suppressed gritting of the teeth; and he added, "My Master
was the servant of the meanest, and I must--I beg your pardon for
meddling with your manner of speaking"--

"Oh, I'm very much obliged to you; indeed I am.  And I shall not care if
you tell me of anything that's out of the way in my talking," said
Clementina, generously.

"Thank you; I think I won't wait any longer for Mr. Fane."

"Why, I'm su'a he'll be back very soon, now.  I'll try not to disturb you
any moa."

Gregory turned from taking some steps towards the door, and said, "I wish
you would tell Mr. Fane something."

"For you?  Why, suttainly!"

"No.  For you.  Tell him that it's all right about his calling you Boss."

The indignant color came into Clementina's face.  "He had no business to
call me that."

"No; and he doesn't think he had, now.  He's truly sorry for it."

"I'll see," said Clementina.

She had not seen by the time Fane got back.  She received his apologies
for being gone so long coldly, and went away to Mrs. Atwell, whom she
told what had passed between Gregory and herself.

"Is he truly so proud?"  she asked.

"He's a very good young man," said Mrs. Atwell, "but I guess he's proud.
He can't help it, but you can see he fights against it.  If I was you,
Clem, I wouldn't say anything to the guls about it."

"Oh, no'm--I mean, no, indeed.  I shouldn't think of it.  But don't you
think that was funny, his bringing in Christ, that way?"

"Well, he's going to be a minister, you know."

"Is he really?"  Clementina was a while silent.  At last she said, "Don't
you think Mr. Gregory has a good many freckles?"

"Well, them red-complected kind is liable to freckle," said Mrs. Atwell,
judicially.

After rather a long pause for both of them, Clementina asked, "Do you
think it would be nice for me to ask Mr. Gregory about things, when I
wasn't suttain?"

"Like what?"

"Oh-wo'ds, and pronunciation; and books to read."

"Why, I presume he'd love to have you.  He's always correctin' the guls;
I see him take up a book one day, that one of 'em was readin', and when
she as't him about it, he said it was rubbage.  I guess you couldn't have
a betta guide."

"Well, that was what I was thinking.  I guess I sha'n't do it, though.
I sh'd neva have the courage."  Clementina laughed and then fell rather
seriously silent again.




VII.

One day the shoeman stopped his wagon at the door of the helps' house,
and called up at its windows, "Well, guls, any of you want to git a numba
foua foot into a rumba two shoe, to-day?  Now's youa chance, but you got
to be quick abort it.  The'e ha'r't but just so many numba two shoes
made, and the wohld's full o' rumba foua feet."

The windows filled with laughing faces at the first sound of the
shoeman's ironical voice; and at sight of his neat wagon, with its
drawers at the rear and sides, and its buggy-hood over the seat where the
shoeman lounged lazily holding the reins, the girls flocked down the
stairs, and out upon the piazza where the shoe man had handily ranged his
vehicle.

They began to ask him if he had not this thing and that, but he said with
firmness, "Nothin' but shoes, guls.  I did carry a gen'l line, one while,
of what you may call ankle-wea', such as spats, and stockin's, and
gaitas, but I nova did like to speak of such things befoa ladies, and now
I stick ex-elusively to shoes.  You know that well enough, guls; what's
the use?"

He kept a sober face amidst the giggling that his words aroused,--and let
his voice sink into a final note of injury.

"Well, if you don't want any shoes, to-day, I guess I must be goin'."
He made a feint of jerking his horse's reins, but forebore at the
entreaties that went up from the group of girls.

"Yes, we do!"  "Let's see them!"  "Oh, don't go!" they chorused in an
equally histrionic alarm, and the shoeman got down from his perch to show
his wares.

"Now, the'a, ladies," he said, pulling out one of the drawers, and
dangling a pair of shoes from it by the string that joined their heels,
"the'e's a shoe that looks as good as any Sat'd'y-night shoe you eva see.
Looks as han'some as if it had a pasteboa'd sole and was split stock all
through, like the kind you buy for a dollar at the store, and kick out in
the fust walk you take with your fella--'r some other gul's fella, I
don't ca'e which.  And yet that's an honest shoe, made of the best of
material all the way through, and in the best manna.  Just look at that
shoe, ladies; ex-amine it; sha'n't cost you a cent, and I'll pay for youa
lost time myself, if any complaint is made."  He began to toss pairs of
the shoes into the crowd of girls, who caught them from each other before
they fell, with hysterical laughter, and ran away with them in-doors to
try them on.  "This is a shoe that I'm intaducin'," the shoeman went on,
"and every pair is warranted--warranted numba two; don't make any otha
size, because we want to cata to a strictly numba two custom.  If any
lady doos feel 'em a little mite too snug, I'm sorry for her, but I can't
do anything to help her in this shoe."

"Too snug !"  came a gay voice from in-doors.  "Why my foot feels
puffectly lost in this one."

"All right," the shoeman shouted back.  "Call it a numba one shoe and
then see if you can't find that lost foot in it, some'eres.  Or try a
little flour, and see if it won't feel more at home.  I've hea'd of a
shoe that give that sensation of looseness by not goin' on at all."

The girls exulted joyfully together at the defeat of their companion,
but the shoeman kept a grave face, while he searched out other sorts of
shoes and slippers, and offered them, or responded to some definite
demand with something as near like as he could hope to make serve.
The tumult of talk and laughter grew till the chef put his head out of
the kitchen door, and then came sauntering across the grass to the helps'
piazza.  At the same time the clerk suffered himself to be lured from his
post by the excitement.  He came and stood beside the chef, who listened
to the shoeman's flow of banter with a longing to take his chances with
him.

"That's a nice hawss," he said.  "What'll you take for him?"

"Why, hello!" said the shoeman, with an eye that dwelt upon the chef's
official white cap and apron, "You talk English, don't you?  Fust off, I
didn't know but it was one of them foreign dukes come ova he'a to marry
some oua poor millionai'es daughtas."  The girls cried out for joy, and
the chef bore their mirth stoically, but not without a personal relish of
the shoeman's up-and-comingness.  "Want a hawss?" asked the shoeman with
an air of business.  "What'll you give?"

"I'll give you thutty-seven dollas and a half," said the chef.

"Sorry I can't take it.  That hawss is sellin' at present for just one
hundred and fifty dollas."

"Well," said the chef, "I'll raise you a dolla and a quahta.  Say thutty-
eight and seventy-five."

"W-ell now, you're gittin' up among the figgas where you're liable to own
a hawss.  You just keep right on a raisin' me, while I sell these ladies
some shoes, and maybe you'll hit it yit, 'fo'e night."

The girls were trying on shoes on every side now, and they had dispensed
with the formality of going in-doors for the purpose.  More than one put
out her foot to the clerk for his opinion of the fit, and the shoeman was
mingling with the crowd, testing with his hand, advising from his
professional knowledge, suggesting, urging, and in some cases artfully
agreeing with the reluctance shown.

"This man," said the chef, indicating Fane, "says you can tell moa lies
to the square inch than any man out o' Boston."

"Doos he?"  asked the shoeman, turning with a pair of high-heeled bronze
slippers in his hand from the wagon.  "Well, now, if I stood as nea' to
him as you do, I believe I sh'd hit him."

"Why, man, I can't dispute him!" said the chef, and as if he had now at
last scored a point, he threw back his head and laughed.  When he brought
down his head again, it was to perceive the approach of Clementina.
"Hello," he said for her to hear, "he'e comes the Boss.  Well, I guess I
must be goin'," he added, in mock anxiety.  "I'm a goin', Boss, I'm a
goin'."

Clementina ignored him.  "Mr. Atwell wants to see you a moment, Mr.
Fane," she said to the clerk.

"All right, Miss Claxon," Fane answered, with the sorrowful respect which
he always showed Clementina, now, "I'll be right there."  But he waited a
moment, either in expression of his personal independence, or from
curiosity to know what the shoeman was going to say of the bronze
slippers.

Clementina felt the fascination, too; she thought the slippers were
beautiful, and her foot thrilled with a mysterious prescience of its
fitness for them.

"Now, the'e, ladies, or as I may say guls, if you'll excuse it in one
that's moa like a fatha to you than anything else, in his feelings"--the
girls tittered, and some one shouted derisively--"It's true!"--"now there
is a shoe, or call it a slippa, that I've rutha hesitated about showin'
to you, because I know that you're all rutha serious-minded, I don't ca'e
how young ye be, or how good-lookin' ye be; and I don't presume the'e's
one among you that's eve head o' dancin'."  In the mirthful hooting and
mocking that followed, the shoeman hedged gravely from the extreme
position he had taken.  "What?  Well, maybe you have among some the summa
folks, but we all know what summa folks ah', and I don't expect you to
patte'n by them.  But what I will say is that if any young lady within
the sound of my voice,"--he looked round for the applause which did not
fail him in his parody of the pulpit style--"should get an invitation to
a dance next winta, and should feel it a wo'k of a charity to the young
man to go, she'll be sorry--on his account, rememba--that she ha'n't got
this pair o' slippas.

"The'a!  They're a numba two, and they'll fit any lady here, I don't ca'e
how small a foot she's got.  Don't all speak at once, sistas!  Ample
time allowed for meals.  That's a custom-made shoe, and if it hadn't b'en
too small for the lady they was oddid foh, you couldn't-'a' got 'em for
less than seven dollas; but now I'm throwin' on 'em away for three."

A groan of dismay went up from the whole circle, and some who had pressed
forward for a sight of the slippers, shrank back again.

"Did I hea' just now," asked the shoeman, with a soft insinuation in his
voice, and in the glance he suddenly turned upon Clementina, "a party
addressed as Boss?"  Clementina flushed, but she did not cower; the chef
walked away with a laugh, and the shoeman pursued him with his voice.
"Not that I am goin' to folla the wicked example of a man who tries to
make spot of young ladies; but if the young lady addressed as Boss"--

"Miss Claxon," said the clerk with ingratiating reverence.

"Miss Claxon--I Stan' corrected," pursued the shoeman.  "If Miss Claxon
will do me the fava just to try on this slippa, I sh'd be able to tell at
the next place I stopped just how it looked on a lady's foot.  I see you
a'n't any of you disposed to buy 'em this aftanoon, 'and I a'n't
complainin'; you done pootty well by me, already, and I don't want to
uhge you; but I do want to carry away the picture, in my mind's eye--what
you may call a mental photograph--of this slipper on the kind of a foot
it was made fob, so't I can praise it truthfully to my next customer.
What do you say, ma'am?" he addressed himself with profound respect to
Clementina.

"Oh, do let him, Clem!" said one of the girls, and another pleaded, "Just
so he needn't tell a story to his next customa," and that made the rest
laugh.

Clementina's heart was throbbing, and joyous lights were dancing in her
eyes.  "I don't care if I do," she said, and she stooped to unlace her
shoe, but one of the big girls threw herself on her knees at her feet to
prevent her.  Clementina remembered too late that there was a hole in her
stocking and that her little toe came through it, but she now folded the
toe artfully down, and the big girl discovered the hole in time to abet
her attempt at concealment.  She caught the slipper from the shoeman and
harried it on; she tied the ribbons across the instep, and then put on
the other.  "Now put out youa foot, Clem!  Fast dancin' position!" She
leaned back upon her own heels, and Clementina daintily lifted the edge
of her skirt a little, and peered over at her feet.  The slippers might
or might not have been of an imperfect taste, in their imitation of the
prevalent fashion, but on Clementina's feet they had distinction.

"Them feet was made for them slippas," said the shoeman devoutly.

The clerk was silent; he put his hand helplessly to his mouth, and then
dropped it at his side again.

Gregory came round the corner of the building from the dining-room, and
the big girl who was crouching before Clementina, and who boasted that
she was not afraid of the student, called saucily to him, "Come here, a
minute, Mr. Gregory," and as he approached, she tilted aside, to let him
see Clementina's slippers.

Clementina beamed up at him with all her happiness in her eyes, but after
a faltering instant, his face reddened through its freckles, and he gave
her a rebuking frown and passed on.

"Well, I decla'e!" said the big girl.  Fane turned uneasily, and said
with a sigh, he guessed he must be going, now.

A blight fell upon the gay spirits of the group, and the shoeman asked
with an ironical glance after Gregory's retreating figure, "Owna of this
propaty?"

"No, just the ea'th," said the big girl, angrily.

The voice of Clementina made itself heard with a cheerfulness which had
apparently suffered no chill, but was really a rising rebellion.  "How
much ah' the slippas?"

"Three dollas," said the shoeman in a surprise which he could not conceal
at Clementina's courage.

She laughed, and stooped to untie the slippers.  "That's too much for
me."

"Let me untie 'em, Clem," said the big girl.  "It's a shame for you eva
to take 'em off."

"That's right, lady," said the shoeman.  "And you don't eva need to," he
added, to Clementina, "unless you object to sleepin' in 'em.  You pay me
what you want to now, and the rest when I come around the latta paht of
August."

"Oh keep 'em, Clem!" the big girl urged, passionately, and the rest
joined her with their entreaties.

"I guess I betta not," said Clementina, and she completed the work of
taking off the slippers in which the big girl could lend her no further
aid, such was her affliction of spirit.

"All right, lady," said the shoeman.  "Them's youa slippas, and I'll just
keep 'em for you till the latta paht of August."

He drove away, and in the woods which he had to pass through on the road
to another hotel he overtook the figure of a man pacing rapidly.  He
easily recognized Gregory, but he bore him no malice.  "Like a lift?"
he asked, slowing up beside him.

"No, thank you," said Gregory.  "I'm out for the walk."  He looked round
furtively, and then put his hand on the side of the wagon, mechanically,
as if to detain it, while he walked on.

"Did you sell the slippers to the young lady?"

"Well, not as you may say sell, exactly," returned the shoeman,
cautiously.

"Have you-got them yet?"  asked the student.

"Guess so," said the man.  "Like to see 'em?"

He pulled up his horse.

Gregory faltered a moment.  Then he said, "I'd like to buy them.  Quick!"

He looked guiltily about, while the shoeman alertly obeyed, with some
delay for a box to put them in.  "How much are they?"

"Well, that's a custom made slipper, and the price to the lady that
oddid'em was seven dollas.  But I'll let you have 'em for three--if you
want 'em for a present."--The shoeman was far too discreet to permit
himself anything so overt as a smile; he merely let a light of
intelligence come into his face.

Gregory paid the money.  "Please consider this as confidential," he said,
and he made swiftly away.  Before the shoeman could lock the drawer that
had held the slippers, and clamber to his perch under the buggy-hood,
Gregory was running back to him again.

"Stop!" he called, and as he came up panting in an excitement which the
shoeman might well have mistaken for indignation attending the discovery
of some blemish in his purchase.  "Do you regard this as in any manner a
deception?" he palpitated.

"Why," the shoeman began cautiously, "it wa'n't what you may call a
promise, exactly.  More of a joke than anything else, I looked on it.  I
just said I'd keep 'em for her; but"--

"You don't understand.  If I seemed to disapprove--if I led any one to
suppose, by my manner, or by--anything--that I thought it unwise or
unbecoming to buy the shoes, and then bought them myself, do you think it
is in the nature of an acted falsehood?"

"Lo'd no!"  said the shoeman, and he caught up the slack of his reins to
drive on, as if he thought this amusing maniac might also be dangerous.

Gregory stopped him with another question.  "And shall--will you--think
it necessary to speak of--of this transaction?  I leave you free!"

"Well," said the shoeman.  "I don't know what you're after, exactly, but
if you think I'm so shot on for subjects that I've got to tell the folks
at the next stop that I sold a fellar a pair of slippas for his gul--Go
'long!" he called to his horse, and left Gregory standing in the middle
of the road.




VIII.

The people who came to the Middlemount in July were ordinarily the
nicest, but that year the August folks were nicer than usual and there
were some students among them, and several graduates just going into
business, who chose to take their outing there instead of going to the
sea-side or the North Woods.  This was a chance that might not happen in
years again, and it made the house very gay for the young ladies; they
ceased to pay court to the clerk, and asked him for letters only at mail-
time.  Five or six couples were often on the floor together, at the hops,
and the young people sat so thick upon the stairs that one could scarcely
get up or down.

So many young men made it gay not only for the young ladies, but also for
a certain young married lady, when she managed to shirk her rather filial
duties to her husband, who was much about the verandas, purblindly
feeling his way with a stick, as he walked up and down, or sitting opaque
behind the glasses that preserved what was left of his sight, while his
wife read to him.  She was soon acquainted with a good many more people
than he knew, and was in constant request for such occasions as needed a
chaperon not averse to mountain climbing, or drives to other hotels for
dancing and supper and return by moonlight, or the more boisterous sorts
of charades; no sheet and pillow case party was complete without her; for
welsh-rarebits her presence was essential.  The event of the conflict
between these social claims and her duties to her husband was her appeal
to Mrs. Atwell on a point which the landlady referred to Clementina.

"She wants somebody to read to her husband, and I don't believe but what
you could do it, Clem.  You're a good reader, as good as I want to hear,
and while you may say that you don't put in a great deal of elocution, I
guess you can read full well enough.  All he wants is just something to
keep him occupied, and all she wants is a chance to occupy herself with
otha folks.  Well, she is moa their own age.  I d'know as the's any hahm
in her.  And my foot's so much betta, now, that I don't need you the
whole while, any moa."

"Did you speak to her about me?" asked the girl.

"Well, I told her I'd tell you.  I couldn't say how you'd like."

"Oh, I guess I should like," said Clementina, with her eyes shining.
"But--I should have to ask motha."

"I don't believe but what your motha'd be willin'," said Mrs. Atwell.
"You just go down and see her about it."

The next day Mrs. Milray was able to take leave of her husband, in
setting off to matronize a coaching party, with an exuberance of good
conscience that she shared with the spectators.  She kissed him with
lively affection, and charged him not to let the child read herself to
death for him.  She captioned Clementina that Mr. Milray never knew when
he was tired, and she had better go by the clock in her reading, and not
trust to any sign from him.

Clementina promised, and when the public had followed Mrs. Milray away,
to watch her ascent to the topmost seat of the towering coach, by means
of the ladder held in place by two porters, and by help of the down-
stretched hands of all the young men on the coach, Clementina opened the
book at the mark she found in it, and began to read to Mr. Milray.

The book was a metaphysical essay, which he professed to find a lighter
sort of reading than fiction; he said most novelists were too seriously
employed in preventing the marriage of the lovers, up to a certain point,
to be amusing; but you could always trust a metaphysician for
entertainment if he was very much in earnest, and most metaphysicians
were.  He let Clementina read on a good while in her tender voice, which
had still so many notes of childhood in it, before he manifested any
consciousness of being read to.  He kept the smile on his delicate face
which had come there when his wife said at parting, "I don't believe I
should leave her with you if you could see how prettty she was," and he
held his head almost motionlessly at the same poise he had given it in
listening to her final charges.  It was a fine head, still well covered
with soft hair, which lay upon it in little sculpturesque masses, like
chiseled silver, and the acquiline profile had a purity of line in the
arch of the high nose and the jut of the thin lips and delicate chin,
which had not been lost in the change from youth to age.  One could never
have taken it for the profile of a New York lawyer who had early found
New York politics more profitable than law, and after a long time passed
in city affairs, had emerged with a name shadowed by certain doubtful
transactions.  But this was Milray's history, which in the rapid progress
of American events, was so far forgotten that you had first to remind
people of what he had helped do before you could enjoy their surprise in
realizing that this gentle person, with the cast of intellectual
refinement which distinguished his face, was the notorious Milray, who
was once in all the papers.  When he made his game and retired from
politics, his family would have sacrificed itself a good deal to reclaim
him socially, though they were of a severer social than spiritual
conscience, in the decay of some ancestral ideals.  But be had rendered
their willingness hopeless by marrying, rather late in life, a young girl
from the farther West who had come East with a general purpose to get on.
She got on very well with Milray, and it was perhaps not altogether her
own fault that she did not get on so well with his family, when she began
to substitute a society aim for the artistic ambition that had brought
her to New York.  They might have forgiven him for marrying her, but they
could not forgive her for marrying him.  They were of New England origin
and they were perhaps a little more critical with her than if they had
been New Yorkers of Dutch strain.  They said that she was a little
Western hoyden, but that the stage would have been a good place for her
if she could have got over her Pike county accent; in the hush of family
councils they confided to one another the belief that there were phases
of the variety business in which her accent would have been no barrier to
her success, since it could not have been heard in the dance, and might
have been disguised in the song.

"Will you kindly read that passage over again?" Milray asked as
Clementina paused at the end of a certain paragraph.  She read it, while
he listened attentively.  "Could you tell me just what you understand by
that?"  he pursued, as if he really expected Clementina to instruct him.

She hesitated a moment before she answered, "I don't believe I undastand
anything at all."

"Do you know," said Milray, "that's exactly my own case?  And I've an
idea that the author is in the same box," and Clementina perceived she
might laugh, and laughed discreetly.

Milray seemed to feel the note of discreetness in her laugh, and he
asked, smiling, "How old did you tell me you were?"

"I'm sixteen," said Clementina.

"It's a great age," said Milray.  "I remember being sixteen myself; I
have never been so old since.  But I was very old for my age, then.  Do
you think you are?"

"I don't believe I am," said Clementina, laughing again, but still very
discreetly.

"Then I should like to tell you that you have a very agreeable voice.  Do
you sing?"

"No'm--no, sir--no," said Clementina, "I can't sing at all."

"Ah, that's very interesting," said Milray, "but it's not surprising.
I wish I could see your face distinctly; I've a great curiosity about
matching voices and faces; I must get Mrs. Milray to tell me how you
look.  Where did you pick up your pretty knack at reading?  In school,
here?"

"I don't know," answered Clementina.  "Do I read-the way you want?"

"Oh, perfectly.  You let the meaning come through--when there is any."

"Sometimes," said Clementina ingenuously, "I read too fast; the children
ah' so impatient when I'm reading to them at home, and they hurry me.
But I can read a great deal slower if you want me to."

"No, I'm impatient, too," said Milray.  "Are there many of them,--the
children?"

"There ah' six in all."

"And are you the oldest?"

"Yes," said Clementina.  She still felt it very blunt not to say sir,
too, but she tried to make her tone imply the sir, as Mr. Gregory had
bidden her.

"You've got a very pretty name."

Clementina brightened.  "Do you like it?  Motha gave it to me; she took
it out of a book that fatha was reading to her."

"I like it very much," said Milray.  "Are you tall for your age?"

"I guess I am pretty tall."

"You're fair, of course.  I can tell that by your voice; you've got a
light-haired voice.  And what are your eyes?"

"Blue!" Clementina laughed at his pursuit.

"Ah, of course!  It isn't a gray-eyed blonde voice.  Do you think--has
anybody ever told you-that you were graceful?"

"I don't know as they have," said Clementina, after thinking.

"And what is your own opinion?"  Clementina began to feel her dignity
infringed; she did not answer, and now Milray laughed.  "I felt the
little tilt in your step as you came up.  It's all right.  Shall we try
for our friend's meaning, now?"

Clementina began again, and again Milray stopped her.  "You mustn't bear
malice.  I can hear the grudge in your voice; but I didn't mean to laugh
at you.  You don't like being made fun of, do you?"

"I don't believe anybody does," said Clementina.

"No, indeed," said Milray.  "If I had tried such a thing I should be
afraid you would make it uncomfortable for me.  But I haven't, have I?"

"I don't know," said Clementina, reluctantly.

Milray laughed gleefully.  "Well, you'll forgive me, because I'm an old
fellow.  If I were young, you wouldn't, would you?"

Clementina thought of the clerk; she had certainly never forgiven him.
"Shall I read on?" she asked.

"Yes, yes.  Read on," he said, respectfully.  Once he interrupted her to
say that she pronounced admirable, but he would like now and then to
differ with her about a word if she did not mind.  She answered, Oh no,
indeed; she should like it ever so much, if he would tell her when she
was wrong.  After that he corrected her, and he amused himself by
studying forms of respect so delicate that they should not alarm her
pride; Clementina reassured him in terms as fine as his own.  She did not
accept his instructions implicitly; she meant to bring them to the bar of
Gregory's knowledge.  If he approved of them, then she would submit.

Milray easily possessed himself of the history of her life and of all its
circumstances, and he said he would like to meet her father and make the
acquaintance of a man whose mind, as Clementina interpreted it to him, he
found so original.

He authorized his wife to arrange with Mrs. Atwell for a monopoly of
Clementina's time while he stayed at Middlemount, and neither he nor Mrs.
Milray seemed surprised at the good round sum, as the landlady thought
it, which she asked in the girl's behalf.




IX.

The Milrays stayed through August, and Mrs. Milray was the ruling spirit
of the great holiday of the summer, at Middlemount.  It was this year
that the landlords of the central mountain region had decided to compete
in a coaching parade, and to rival by their common glory the splendor of
the East Side and the West Side parades.  The boarding-houses were to
take part, as well as the hotels; the farms where only three or four
summer folks were received, were to send their mountain-wagons, and all
were to be decorated with bunting.  An arch draped with flags and covered
with flowers spanned the entrance to the main street at Middlemount
Centre, and every shop in the village was adorned for the event.

Mrs. Milray made the landlord tell her all about coaching parades, and
the champions of former years on the East Side and the West Side, and
then she said that the Middlemount House must take the prize from them
all this year, or she should never come near his house again.  He
answered, with a dignity and spirit he rarely showed with Mrs. Milray's
class of custom, "I'm goin' to drive our hossis myself."

She gave her whole time to imagining and organizing the personal display
on the coach.  She consulted with the other ladies as to the kind of
dresses that were to be worn, but she decided everything herself; and
when the time came she had all the young men ravaging the lanes and
pastures for the goldenrod and asters which formed the keynote of her
decoration for the coach.

She made peace and kept it between factions that declared themselves
early in the affair, and of all who could have criticized her for taking
the lead perhaps none would have willingly relieved her of the trouble.
She freely declared that it was killing her, and she sounded her accents
of despair all over the place.  When their dresses were finished she made
the persons of her drama rehearse it on the coach top in the secret of
the barn, where no one but the stable men were suffered to see the
effects she aimed at.  But on the eve of realizing these in public she
was overwhelmed by disaster.  The crowning glory of her composition was
to be a young girl standing on the highest seat of the coach, in the
character of the Spirit of Summer, wreathed and garlanded with flowers,
and invisibly sustained by the twelve months of the year, equally divided
as to sex, but with the more difficult and painful attitudes assigned to
the gentlemen who were to figure as the fall and winter months.  It had
been all worked out and the actors drilled in their parts, when the
Spirit of Summer, who had been chosen for the inoffensiveness of her
extreme youth, was taken with mumps, and withdrawn by the doctor's
orders.  Mrs. Milray had now not only to improvise another Spirit of
Summer, but had to choose her from a group of young ladies, with the
chance of alienating and embittering those who were not chosen.  In her
calamity she asked her husband what she should do, with but the least
hope that he could tell her.  But he answered promptly, "Take Clementina;
I'll let you have her for the day," and then waited for the storm of her
renunciations and denunciations to spend itself.

"To be sure," she said, when this had happened, "it isn't as if she were
a servant in the house; and the position can be regarded as a kind of
public function, anyhow.  I can't say that I've hired her to take the
part, but I can give her a present afterwards, and it will be the same
thing."

The question of clothes for Clementina Mrs. Milray declared was almost as
sweeping in its implication as the question of the child's creation."
She has got to be dressed new from head to foot," she said, "every
stitch, and how am I to manage it in twenty-four hours?"

By a succession of miracles with cheese-cloth, and sashes and ribbons, it
was managed; and ended in a triumph so great that Mrs. Milray took the
girl in her arms and kissed her for looking the Spirit of Summer to a
perfection that the victim of the mumps could not have approached.  The
victory was not lastingly marred by the failure of Clementina's shoes to
look the Spirit of Summer as well as the rest of her costume.  No shoes
at all world have been the very thing, but shoes so shabby and worn down
at one side of the heel as Clementina's were very far from the thing.
Mrs. Milray decided that another fold of cheese-cloth would add to the
statuesque charm of her figure, and give her more height; and she was
richly satisfied with the effect when the Middlemount coach drove up to
the great veranda the next morning, with all the figures of her picture
in position on its roof, and Clementina supreme among them.  She herself
mounted in simple, undramatized authority to her official seat beside the
landlord, who in coachman's dress, with a bouquet of autumnal flowers in
his lapel, sat holding his garlanded reins over the backs of his six
horses; and then the coach as she intended it to appear in the parade set
out as soon as the turnouts of the other houses joined it.  They were all
to meet at the Middlemount, which was thickly draped and festooned in
flags, with knots of evergreen and the first red boughs of the young
swamp maples holding them in place over its irregular facade.  The coach
itself was amass of foliage and flowers, from which it defined itself as
a wheeled vehicle in vague and partial outline; the other wagons and
coaches, as they drove tremulously up, with an effect of having been
mired in blossoms about their spokes and hubs, had the unwieldiness which
seems inseparable from spectacularity.  They represented motives in color
and design sometimes tasteless enough, and sometimes so nearly very good
that Mrs. Milray's heart was a great deal in her mouth, as they arrived,
each with its hotel-cry roared and shrilled from a score of masculine and
feminine throats, and finally spelled for distinctness sake, with an
ultimate yell or growl.  But she had not finished giving the lady-
representative of a Sunday newspaper the points of her own tableau,
before she regained the courage and the faith in which she remained
serenely steadfast throughout the parade.

It was when all the equipages of the neighborhood had arrived that she
climbed to her place; the ladder was taken away; the landlord spoke to
his horses, and the Middlemount coach led the parade, amid the renewed
slogans, and the cries and fluttered handkerchiefs of the guests crowding
the verandas.

The line of march was by one road to Middlemount Centre, where the prize
was to be awarded at the judges' stand, and then the coaches were to
escort the triumphant vehicle homeward by another route, so as to pass as
many houses on the way as possible.  It was a curious expression of the
carnival spirit in a region immemorially starved of beauty in the lives
of its people; and whatever was the origin of the mountain coaching
parade, or from whatever impulse of sentimentality or advertising it
came, the effect was of undeniable splendor, and of phantasmagoric
strangeness.

Gregory watched its progress from a hill-side pasture as it trailed
slowly along the rising and falling road.  The songs of the young girls,
interrupted by the explosion of hotel slogans and college cries from the
young men, floated off to him on the thin breeze of the cloudless August
morning, like the hymns and shouts of a saturnalian rout going in holiday
processional to sacrifice to their gods.  Words of fierce Hebrew poetry
burned in his thought; the warnings and the accusals and the
condemnations of the angry prophets; and he stood rapt from his own time
and place in a dream of days when the Most High stooped to commune face
to face with His ministers, while the young voices of those forgetful or
ignorant of Him, called to his own youth, and the garlanded chariots,
with their banners and their streamers passed on the road beneath him and
out of sight in the shadow of the woods beyond.

When the prize was given to the Middlemount coach at the Center the
landlord took the flag, and gallantly transferred it to Mrs. Milray, and
Mrs. Milray passed it up to Clementina, and bade her, "Wave it, wave it!"

The village street was thronged with people that cheered, and swung their
hats and handkerchiefs to the coach as it left the judges' stand and
drove under the triumphal arch, with the other coaches behind it.  Then
Atwell turned his horses heads homewards, and at the brisker pace with
which people always return from festivals or from funerals, he left the
village and struck out upon the country road with his long escort before
him.  The crowd was quick to catch the courteous intention of the
victors, and followed them with applause as far beyond the village
borders as wind and limb would allow; but the last noisy boy had dropped
off breathless before they reached a half-finished house in the edge of
some woods.  A line of little children was drawn up by the road-side
before it, who watched the retinue with grave eagerness, till the
Middlemount coach came in full sight.  Then they sprang into the air, and
beating their hands together, screamed, "Clem!  Clem!  Oh it's Clem!"
and jumped up and down, and a shabby looking work worn woman came round
the corner of the house and stared up at Clementina waving her banner
wildly to the children, and shouting unintelligible words to them.  The
young people on the coach joined in response to the children, some
simply, some ironically, and one of the men caught up a great wreath of
flowers which lay at Clementina's feet, and flung it down to them; the
shabby woman quickly vanished round the corner of the house again.  Mrs.
Milray leaned over to ask the landlord, "Who in the world are
Clementina's friends?"

"Why don't you know?"  he retorted in abated voice.  "Them's her brothas
and sistas."

"And that woman?"

"The lady at the conna?  That's her motha."

When the event was over, and all the things had been said and said again,
and there was nothing more to keep the spring and summer months from
going up to their rooms to lie down, and the fall and winter months from
trying to get something to eat, Mrs. Milray found herself alone with
Clementina.

The child seemed anxious about something, and Mrs. Milray, who wanted to
go and lie down, too, asked a little impatiently, "What is it,
Clementina?"

"Oh, nothing.  Only I was afraid maybe you didn't like my waving to the
children, when you saw how queea they looked."  Clementina's lips
quivered.

"Did any of the rest say anything?"

"I know what they thought.  But I don't care!  I should do it right over
again!"

Mrs. Milray's happiness in the day's triumph was so great that she could
indulge a generous emotion.  She caught the girl in her arms.  "I want to
kiss you; I want to hug you, Clementina!"

The notion of a dance for the following night to celebrate the success of
the house in the coaching parade came to Mrs. Milray aver a welsh-rarebit
which she gave at the close of the evening.  The party was in the charge
of Gregory, who silently served them at their orgy with an austerity that
might have conspired with the viand itself against their dreams, if they
had not been so used to the gloom of his ministrations.  He would not
allow the waitresses to be disturbed in their evening leisure, or kept
from their sleep by such belated pleasures; and when he had provided the
materials for the rarebit, he stood aloof, and left their combination to
Mrs. Milray and her chafing-dish.

She had excluded Clementina on account of her youth, as she said to one
of the fall and winter months, who came in late, and noticed Clementina's
absence with a "Hello!  Anything the matter with the Spirit of Summer?"
Clementina had become both a pet and a joke with these months before the
parade was over, and now they clamored together, and said they must have
her at the dance anyway.  They were more tepidly seconded by the spring
and summer months, and Mrs. Milray said, "Well, then, you'll have to all
subscribe and get her a pair of dancing slippers."  They pressed her for
her meaning, and she had to explain the fact of Clementina's destitution,
which that additional fold of cheese-cloth had hidden so well in the
coaching tableau that it had never been suspected.  The young men
entreated her to let them each buy a pair of slippers for the Spirit of
Summer, which she should wear in turn for the dance that she must give
each of them; and this made Mrs. Milray declare that, no, the child
should not come to the dance at all, and that she was not going to have
her spoiled.  But, before the party broke up, she promised that she would
see what could be done, and she put it very prettily to the child the
next day, and waited for her to say, as she knew she must, that she could
not go, and why.  They agreed that the cheese-cloth draperies of the
Spirit of Summer were surpassingly fit for the dance; but they had to
agree that this still left the question of slippers untouched.  It
remained even more hopeless when Clementina tried on all of Mrs. Milray's
festive shoes, and none of her razorpoints and high heels would avail.
She went away disappointed, but not yet disheartened; youth does not so
easily renounce a pleasure pressed to the lips; and Clementina had it in
her head to ask some of the table girls to help her out.  She meant to
try first with that big girl who had helped her put on the shoeman's
bronze slippers; and she hurried through the office, pushing purblindly
past Fane without looking his way, when he called to her in the deference
which he now always used with her, "Here's a package here for you,
Clementina--Miss Claxon," and he gave her an oblong parcel, addressed in
a hand strange to her.  "Who is it from?" she asked, innocently, and Fane
replied with the same ingenuousness: "I'm sure I don't know."  Afterwards
he thought of having retorted, "I haven't opened it," but still without
being certain that he would have had the courage to say it.

Clementina did not think of opening it herself, even when she was alone
in her little room above Mrs. Atwell's, until she had carefully felt it
over, and ascertained that it was a box of pasteboard, three or four
inches deep and wide, and eight or ten inches long.  She looked at the
address again, "Miss Clementina Claxon," and at the narrow notched ribbon
which tied it, and noted that the paper it was wrapped in was very white
and clean.  Then she sighed, and loosed the knot, and the paper slipped
off the box, and at the same time the lid fell off, and the shoe man's
bronze slippers fell out upon the floor.

Either it must be a dream or it must be a joke; it could not be both real
and earnest; somebody was trying to tease her; such flattery of fortune
could not be honestly meant.  But it went to her head, and she was so
giddy with it as she caught the slippers from the floor, and ran down to
Mrs. Atwell, that she knocked against the sides of the narrow staircase.

"What is it?  What does it mean?  Who did it?" she panted, with the
slippers in her hand.  "Whe'e did they come from?"  She poured out the
history of her trying on these shoes, and of her present need of them and
of their mysterious coming, to meet her longing after it had almost
ceased to be a hope.  Mrs. Atwell closed with her in an exultation hardly
short of a clapping the hands.  Her hair was gray, and the girl's hair
still hung in braids down her back, but they were of the same age in
their transport, which they referred to Mrs. Milray, and joined with her
in glad but fruitless wonder who had sent Clementina the shoes.  Mrs.
Atwell held that the help who had seen the girl trying them on had
clubbed together and got them for her at the time; and had now given them
to her for the honor she had done the Middlemount House in the parade.
Mrs. Milray argued that the spring and summer months had secretly
dispatched some fall and winter month to ransack the stores at
Middlemount Centre for them.  Clementina believed that they came from the
shoe man himself, who had always wanted to send them, in the hope that
she would keep them, and had merely happened to send them just then in
that moment of extremity when she was helpless against them.  Each
conjecture involved improbabilities so gross that it left the field free
to any opposite theory.

Rumor of the fact could not fail to go through the house, and long before
his day's work was done it reached the chef, and amused him as a piece of
the Boss's luck.  He was smoking his evening pipe at the kitchen door
after supper, when Clementina passed him on one of the many errands that
took her between Mrs. Milray's room and her own, and he called to her:
"Boss, what's this I hear about a pair o' glass slippas droppin' out the
sky int' youa lap?"

Clementina was so happy that she thought she might trust him for once,
and she said, "Oh, yes, Mr. Mahtin!  Who do you suppose sent them?" she
entreated him so sweetly that it would have softened any heart but the
heart of a tease.

"I believe I could give a pootty good guess if I had the facts."

Clementina innocently gave them to him, and he listened with a well-
affected sympathy.

"Say Fane fust told you about 'em?"

"Yes.  'He'e's a package for you,' he said.  Just that way; and he
couldn't tell me who left it, or anything."

"Anybody asked him about it since?"

"Oh, yes!  Mrs. Milray, and Mrs. Atwell, and Mr. Atwell, and everybody."

"Everybody."  The chef smiled with a peculiar droop of one eye.  "And he
didn't know when the slippas got into the landlo'd's box?"

"No.  The fust thing he knew, the' they we'e!"  Clementina stood
expectant, but the chef smoked on as if that were all there was to say,
and seemed to have forgotten her.  "Who do you think put them thea, Mr.
Mahtin?"

The chef looked up as if surprised to find her still there.  "Oh! Oh,
yes!  Who d' I think?  Why, I know, Boss.  But I don't believe I'd betta
tell you."

"Oh, do, Mr. Mahtin!  If you knew how I felt about it"--

"No, no!  I guess I betta not.  'Twouldn't do you any good.  I guess I
won't say anything moa.  But if I was in youa place, and I really wanted
to know whe'e them slippas come from"--

"I do--I do indeed"--

The chef paused before he added, "I should go at Fane.  I guess what he
don't know ain't wo'th knowin', and I guess nobody else knows anything.
Thea!  I don't know but I said mo'n I ought, now."

What the chef said was of a piece with what had been more than once in
Clementina's mind; but she had driven it out, not because it might not be
true, but because she would not have it true.  Her head drooped; she
turned limp and springless away.  Even the heart of the tease was
touched; he had not known that it would worry her so much, though he knew
that she disliked the clerk.

"Mind," he called after her, too late, "I ain't got no proof 't he done
it."

She did not answer him, or look round.  She went to her room, and sat
down in the growing dusk to think, with a hot lump in her throat.

Mrs. Atwell found her there an hour later, when she climbed to the
chamber where she thought she ought to have heard Clementina moving about
over her own room.

"Didn't know but I could help you do youa dressin'," she began, and then
at sight of the dim figure she broke off: "Why, Clem!  What's the matte?
Ah' you asleep?  Ah' you sick?  It's half an hour of the time and"--

"I'm not going," Clementina answered, and she did not move.

"Not goin'!  Why the land o'--"

"Oh, I can't go, Mrs. Atwell.  Don't ask me!  Tell Mrs. Milray, please!"

"I will, when I got something to tell," said Mrs. Atwell.  "Now, you just
say what's happened, Clementina Claxon!  "Clementina suffered the woful
truth to be drawn from her.  "But you don't know whether it's so or not,"
the landlady protested.

"Yes, yes, I do!  It was the fast thing I thought of, and the chef
wouldn't have said it if he didn't believe it."

"That's just what he would done," cried Mrs. Atwell.  "And I'll give him
such a goin' ova, for his teasin', as he ain't had in one while.  He just
said it to tease.  What you goin' to say to Mrs. Milray?"

"Oh, tell her I'm not a bit well, Mrs. Atwell!  My head does ache,
truly."

"Why, listen," said Mrs. Atwell, recklessly.  "If you believe he done it
--and he no business to--why don't you just go to the dance, in 'em, and
then give 'em back to him after it's ova?  It would suv him right."

Clementina listened for a moment of temptation, and then shook her head.
"It wouldn't do, Mrs. Atwell; you know it wouldn't," she said, and Mrs.
Atwell had too little faith in her suggestion to make it prevail.  She
went away to carry Clementina's message to Mrs. Milray, and her task was
greatly eased by the increasing difficulty Mrs. Milray had begun to find,
since the way was perfectly smoothed for her, in imagining the management
of Clementina at the dance: neither child nor woman, neither servant nor
lady, how was she to be carried successfully through it, without sorrow
to herself or offence to others?  In proportion to the relief she felt,
Mrs. Milray protested her irreconcilable grief; but when the simpler Mrs.
Atwell proposed her going and reasoning with Clementina, she said, No,
no; better let her alone, if she felt as she did; and perhaps after all
she was right.




XI.

Clementina listened to the music of the dance, till the last note was
played; and she heard the gay shouts and laughter of the dancers as they
issued from the ball room and began to disperse about the halls and
verandas, and presently to call good night to one another.  Then she
lighted her lamp, and put the slippers back into the box and wrapped it
up in the nice paper it had come in, and tied it with the notched ribbon.
She thought how she had meant to put the slippers away so, after the
dance, when she had danced her fill in them, and how differently she was
doing it all now.  She wrote the clerk's .name on the parcel, and then
she took the box, and descended to the office with it.  There seemed to
be nobody there, but at the noise of her step Fane came round the case of
letter-boxes, and advanced to meet her at the long desk.

"What's wanted, Miss Claxon?" he asked, with his hopeless respectfulness.
"Anything I can do for you?"

She did not answer, but looked him solemnly in the eyes and laid the
parcel down on the open register, and then went out.

He looked at the address on the parcel, and when he untied it, the box
fell open and the shoes fell out of it, as they had with Clementina.  He
ran with them behind the letter-box frame, and held them up before
Gregory, who was seated there on the stool he usually occupied, gloomily
nursing his knee.

"What do you suppose this means, Frank?"

Gregory looked at the shoes frowningly.  "They're the slippers she got
to-day.  She thinks you sent them to her."

"And she wouldn't have them because she thought I sent them!  As sure as
I'm standing here, I never did it," said the clerk, solemnly.

"I know it," said Gregory.  "I sent them."

"You!"

"What's so wonderful?"  Gregory retorted.  "I saw that she wanted them
that day when the shoe peddler was here.  I could see it, and you could."

"Yes."

"I went across into the woods, and the man overtook me with his wagon.  I
was tempted, and I bought the slippers of him.  I wanted to give them to
her then, but I resisted, and I thought I should never give them.  To-
day, when I heard that she was going to that dance, I sent them to her
anonymously.  That's all there is about it."

The clerk had a moment of bitterness.  "If she'd known it was you, she
wouldn't have given them back."

"That's to be seen.  I shall tell her, now.  I never meant her to know,
but she must, because she's doing you wrong in her ignorance."

Gregory was silent, and Fane was trying to measure the extent of his own
suffering, and to get the whole bearing of the incident in his mind.  In
the end his attempt was a failure.  He asked Gregory, "And do you think
you've done just right by me?"

"I've done right by nobody," said Gregory, "not even by myself; and I can
see that it was my own pleasure I had in mind.  I must tell her the
truth, and then I must leave this place."

"I suppose you want I should keep it quiet," said Fane.

"I don't ask anything of you."

"And she wouldn't," said Fane, after reflection.  "But I know she'd be
glad of it, and I sha'n't say anything.  Of course, she never can care
for me; and--there's my hand with my word, if you want it."  Gregory
silently took the hand stretched toward him and Fane added: "All I'll ask
is that you'll tell her I wouldn't have presumed to send her the shoes.
She wouldn't be mad at you for it."

Gregory took the box, and after some efforts to speak, he went away.  It
was an old trouble, an old error, an old folly; he had yielded to impulse
at every step, and at every step he had sinned against another or against
himself.  What pain he had now given the simple soul of Fane; what pain
he had given that poor child who had so mistaken and punished the simple
soul!  With Fane it was over now, but with Clementina the worst was
perhaps to come yet.  He could not hope to see the girl before morning,
and then, what should he say to her?  At sight of a lamp burning in Mrs.
Atwell's room, which was on a level with the veranda where he was
walking, it came to him that first of all he ought to go to her, and
confess the whole affair; if her husband were with her, he ought to
confess before him; they were there in the place of the child's father
and mother, and it was due to them.  As he pressed rapidly toward the
light he framed in his thought the things he should say, and he did not
notice, as he turned to enter the private hallway leading to Mrs.
Atwell's apartment, a figure at the door.  It shrank back from his
contact, and he recognized Clementina.  His purpose instantly changed,
and he said, "Is that you, Miss Claxon?  I want to speak with you.  Will
you come a moment where I can?"

"I--I don't know as I'd betta," she faltered.  But she saw the box under
his arm, and she thought that he wished to speak to her about that, and
she wanted to hear what he would say.  She had been waiting at the door
there, because she could not bear to go to her room without having
something more happen.

"You needn't be afraid.  I shall not keep you.  Come with me a moment.
There is something I must tell you at once.  You have made a mistake.
And it is my fault.  Come!"

Clementina stepped out into the moonlight with him, and they walked
across the grass that sloped between the hotel and the river.  There were
still people about, late smokers singly, and in groups along the piazzas,
and young couples, like themselves, strolling in the dry air, under the
pure sky.

Gregory made several failures in trying to begin, before he said: "I have
to tell you that you are mistaken about Mr. Fane.  I was there behind the
letter boxes when you came in, and I know that you left these shoes
because you thought he sent them to you.  He didn't send them."
Clementina did not say anything, and Gregory was forced to ask: "Do you
wish to know who sent them?  I won't tell you unless you do wish it."

"I think I ought to know," she said, and she asked, "Don't you?"

"Yes; for you must blame some one else now, for what you thought Fane
did.  I sent them to you."

Clementina's heart gave a leap in her breast, and she could not say
anything.  He went on.

"I saw that you wanted them that day, and when the peddler happened to
overtake me in the woods where I was walking, after I left you, I acted
on a sudden impulse, and I bought them for you.  I meant to send them to
you anonymously, then.  I had committed one error in acting upon impulse-
my rashness is my besetting sin--and I wished to add a species of deceit
to that.  But I was kept from it until-to-day.  I hoped you would like to
wear them to the dance to-night, and I put them in the post-office for
you myself.  Mr. Fane didn't know anything about it.  That is all.  I am
to blame, and no one else."

He waited for her to speak, but Clementina could only say, "I don't know
what to say."

"You can't say anything that would be punishment enough for me.  I have
acted foolishly, cruelly."

Clementina did not think so.  She was not indignant, as she was when she
thought Fane had taken this liberty with her, but if Mr. Gregory thought
it was so very bad, it must be something much more serious than she had
imagined.  She said, "I don't see why you wanted to do it," hoping that
he would be able to tell her something that would make his behavior seem
less dreadful than he appeared to think it was.

"There is only one thing that could justify it, and that is something
that I cannot justify."  It was very mysterious, but youth loves mystery,
and Clementina was very young.  "I did it," said Gregory solemnly, and he
felt that now he was acting from no impulse, but from a wisely considered
decision which he might not fail in without culpability, "because I love
you."

"Oh!" said Clementina, and she started away from him.

"I knew that it would make me detestable!" he cried, bitterly.  "I had to
tell you, to explain what I did.  I couldn't help doing it.  But now if
you can forget it, and never think of me again, I can go away, and try to
atone for it somehow.  I shall be guided."

Clementina did not know why she ought to feel affronted or injured by
what he had said to her; but if Mr. Gregory thought it was wrong for him
to have spoken so, it must be wrong.  She did not wish him to feel badly,
even if he had done wrong, but she had to take his view of what he had
done.  "Why, suttainly, Mr. Gregory," she answered.  "You mustn't mind
it."

"But I do mind it.  I have been very, very selfish, very thoughtless.  We
are both too young.  I can't ask you to wait for me till I could marry"--

The word really frightened Clementina.  She said, "I don't believe I
betta promise."

"Oh, I know it!"  said Gregory.  "I am going away from here.  I am going
to-morrow as soon as I can arrange--as soon as I can get away.  Good-
night--I"--Clementina in her agitation put her hands up to her face.
"Oh, don't cry--I can't bear to have you cry."

She took down her hands.  "I'm not crying!  But I wish I had neva seen
those slippas."

They had come to the bank of the river, whose current quivered at that
point in a scaly ripple in the moonlight.  At her words Gregory suddenly
pulled the box from under his arm, and flung it into the stream as far as
he could.  It caught upon a shallow of the ripple, hung there a moment,
then loosed itself, and swam swiftly down the stream.

"Oh!" Clementina moaned.

"Do you want them back?"  he demanded.  "I will go in for them!"

"No, no!  No.  But it seemed such a--waste!"

"Yes, that is a sin, too."  They climbed silently to the hotel.  At Mrs.
Atwell's door, he spoke.  "Try to forget what I said, and forgive me, if
you can."

"Yes--yes, I will, Mr. Gregory.  You mustn't think of it any moa."




XII.

Clementina did not sleep till well toward morning, and she was still
sleeping when Mrs. Atwell knocked and called in to her that her brother
Jim wanted to see her.  She hurried down, and in the confusion of mind
left over from the night before she cooed sweetly at Jim as if he had
been Mr. Gregory, "What is it, Jim?  What do you want me for?"

The boy answered with the disgust a sister's company manners always rouse
in a brother.  "Motha wants you.  Says she's wo'ked down, and she wants
you to come and help."  Then he went his way.

Mrs. Atwell was used to having help snatched from her by their families
at a moment's notice.  "I presume you've got to go, Clem," she said.

"Oh, yes, I've got to go," Clementina assented, with a note of relief
which mystified Mrs. Atwell.

"You tied readin' to Mr. Milray?"

"Oh, no'm-no, I mean.  But I guess I betta go home.  I guess I've been
away long enough."

"Well, you're a good gul, Clem.  I presume your motha's got a right to
have you home if she wants you."  Clementina said nothing to this, but
turned briskly, and started upstairs toward her room again.  The landlady
called after her, "Shall you speak to Mis' Milray, or do you want I
should?"

Clementina looked back at her over her shoulder to warble, "Why, if you
would, Mrs. Atwell," and kept on to her room.

Mrs. Milray was not wholly sorry to have her go; she was going herself
very soon, and Clementina's earlier departure simplified the question of
getting rid of her; but she overwhelmed her with reproaches which
Clementina received with such sweet sincerity that another than Mrs.
Milray might have blamed herself for having abused her ingenuousness.

The Atwells could very well have let the girl walk home, but they sent
her in a buckboard, with one of the stablemen to drive her.  The landlord
put her neat bundle under the seat of the buckboard with his own hand.
There was something in the child's bearing, her dignity and her
amiability, which made people offer her, half in fun, and half in
earnest, the deference paid to age and state.

She did not know whether Gregory would try to see her before she went.
She thought he must have known she was going, but since he neither came
to take leave of her, nor sent her any message, she decided that she had
not expected him to do so.  About the third week of September she heard
that he had left Middlemount and gone back to college.

She kept at her work in the house and helped her mother, and looked after
the little ones; she followed her father in the woods, in his quest of
stuff for walking sticks, and advised with both concerning the taste of
summer folks in dress and in canes.  The winter came, and she read many
books in its long leisure, mostly novels, out of the rector's library.
He had a whole set of Miss Edgeworth, and nearly all of Miss Austen and
Miss Gurney, and he gave of them to Clementina, as the best thing for her
mind as well as her morals; he believed nothing could be better for any
one than these old English novels, which he had nearly forgotten in their
details.  She colored the faded English life of the stories afresh from
her Yankee circumstance; and it seemed the consensus of their testimony
that she had really been made love to, and not so very much too soon, at
her age of sixteen, for most of their heroines were not much older.  The
terms of Gregory's declaration and of its withdrawal were mystifying, but
not more mystifying than many such things, and from what happened in the
novels she read, the affair might be trusted to come out all right of
itself in time.  She was rather thoughtfuller for it, and once her mother
asked her what was the matter with her.  "Oh, I guess I'm getting old,
motha," she said, and turned the question off.  She would not have minded
telling her mother about Gregory, but it would not have been the custom;
and her mother would have worried, and would have blamed him.  Clementina
could have more easily trusted her father with the case, but so far as
she knew fathers never were trusted with anything of the kind.  She would
have been willing that accident should bring it to the knowledge of Mrs.
Richling; but the moment never came when she could voluntarily confide in
her, though she was a great deal with her that winter.  She was Mrs.
Richling's lieutenant in the social affairs of the parish, which the
rector's wife took under her care.  She helped her get up entertainments
of the kind that could be given in the church parlor, and they managed
together some dances which had to be exiled to the town hall.  They
contrived to make the young people of the village feel that they were
having a gay time, and Clementina did not herself feel that it was a dull
one.  She taught them some of the new steps and figures which the help
used to pick up from the summer folks at the Middlemount, and practise
together; she liked doing that; her mother said the child would rather
dance than eat, any time.  She was never sad, but so much dignity got
into her sweetness that the rector now and then complained of feeling put
down by her.

She did not know whether she expected Gregory to write to her or not; but
when no letters came she decided that she had not expected them.  She
wondered if he would come back to the Middlemount the next summer; but
when the summer came, she heard that they had another student in his
place.  She heard that they had a new clerk, and that the boarders were
not so pleasant.  Another year passed, and towards the end of the season
Mrs. Atwell wished her to come and help her again, and Clementina went
over to the hotel to soften her refusal.  She explained that her mother
had so much sewing now that she could not spare her; and Mrs. Atwell
said: Well, that was right, and that she must be the greatest kind of
dependence for her mother.  "You ah' going on seventeen this year, ain't
you?"

"I was nineteen the last day of August," said Clementina, and Mrs. Atwell
sighed, and said, How the time did fly.

It was the second week of September, but Mrs. Atwell said they were going
to keep the house open till the middle of October, if they could, for the
autumnal foliage, which there was getting to be quite a class of custom
for.

"I presume you knew Mr. Landa was dead," she added, and at Clementina's
look of astonishment, she said with a natural satisfaction, "Mm! died the
thutteenth day of August.  I presumed somehow you'd know it, though you
didn't see a great deal of 'em, come to think of it.  I guess he was a
good man; too good for her, I guess," she concluded, in the New England
necessity of blaming some one.  "She sent us the papah."

There was an early frost; and people said there was going to be a hard
winter, but it was not this that made Clementina's father set to work
finishing his house.  His turning business was well started, now, and he
had got together money enough to pay for the work.  He had lately
enlarged the scope of his industry by turning gate-posts and urns for the
tops of them, which had become very popular, for the front yards of the
farm and village houses in a wide stretch of country.  They sold more
steadily than the smaller wares, the cups, and tops, and little vases and
platters which had once been the output of his lathe; after the first
season the interest of the summer folks in these fell off; but the gate
posts and the urns appealed to a lasting taste in the natives.

Claxon wished to put the finishing touches on the house himself, and he
was willing to suspend more profitable labors to do so.  After some
attempts at plastering he was forced to leave that to the plasterers, but
he managed the clap-boarding, with Clementina to hand him boards and
nails, and to keep him supplied with the hammer he was apt to drop at
critical moments.  They talked pretty constantly at their labors, and in
their leisure, which they spent on the brown needles under the pines at
the side of the house.  Sometimes the hammering or the talking would be
interrupted by a voice calling, from a passing vehicle in the hidden
roadway, something about urns.  Claxon would answer, without troubling
himself to verify the inquirer; or moving from his place, that he would
get round to them, and then would hammer on, or talk on with Clementina.

One day in October a carriage drove up to the door, after the work on the
house had been carried as far as Claxon's mood and money allowed, and he
and Clementina were picking up the litter of his carpentering.  He had
replaced the block of wood which once served at the front door by some
steps under an arbor of rustic work; but this was still so novel that the
younger children had not outgrown their pride in it and were playing at
house-keeping there.  Clementina ran around to the back door and out
through the front entry in time to save the visitor and the children from
the misunderstanding they began to fall into, and met her with a smile of
hospitable brilliancy, and a recognition full of compassionate welcome.

Mrs. Lander gave way to her tears as she broke out, "Oh, it ain't the
way it was the last time I was he'a!  You hea'd that he--that Mr. Landa"--

"Mrs. Atwell told me," said Clementina.  "Won't you come in, and sit
down?"

"Why, yes."  Mrs. Lander pushed in through the narrow door of what was to
be the parlor.  Her crapes swept about her and exhaled a strong scent of
their dyes.  Her veil softened her heavy face; but she had not grown
thinner in her bereavement.

"I just got to the Middlemount last night," she said, "and I wanted to
see you and your payrents, both, Miss Claxon.  It doos bring him back so!
You won't neva know how much he thought of you, and you'll all think I'm
crazy.  I wouldn't come as long as he was with me, and now I have to come
without him; I held out ag'inst him as long as I had him to hold out
ag'inst.  Not that he was eva one to push, and I don't know as he so much
as spoke of it, afta we left the hotel two yea's ago; but I presume it
wa'n't out of his mind a single minute.  Time and time again I'd say to
him, 'Now, Albe't, do you feel about it just the way you done?' and he'd
say, 'I ha'r't had any call to charge my mind about it,' and then I'd
begin tryin' to ahgue him out of it, and keep a hectorin', till he'd say,
'Well, I'm not askin' you to do it,' and that's all I could get out of
him.  But I see all the while 't he wanted me to do it, whateva he asked,
and now I've got to do it when it can't give him any pleasure."  Mrs.
Lander put up her black-bordered handkerchief and sobbed into it, and
Clementina waited till her grief had spent itself; then she gave her a
fan, and Mrs. Lander gratefully cooled her hot wet face.  The children
had found the noises of her affliction and the turbid tones of her
monologue annoying, and had gone off to play in the woods; Claxon kept
incuriously about the work that Clementina had left him to; his wife
maintained the confidence which she always felt in Clementina's ability
to treat with the world when it presented itself, and though she was
curious enough, she did not offer to interrupt the girl's interview with
Mrs. Lander; Clementina would know how to behave.

Mrs. Lander, when she had refreshed herself with the fan, seemed to get a
fresh grip of her theme, and she told Clementina all abort Mr. Lander's
last sickness.  It had been so short that it gave her no time to try the
climate of Colorado upon him, which she now felt sure would have brought
him right up; and she had remembered, when too late, to give him a liver-
medicine of her own, though it did not appear that it was his liver which
was affected; that was the strange part of it.  But, brief as his
sickness was, he had felt that it was to be his last, and had solemnly
talked over her future with her, which he seemed to think would be
lonely.  He had not named Clementina, but Mrs. Lander had known well
enough what he meant; and now she wished to ask her, and her father and
mother, how they would all like Clementina to come and spend the winter
with her at Boston first, and then further South, and wherever she should
happen to go.  She apologized for not having come sooner upon this
errand; she had resolved upon it as soon as Mr. Lander was gone, but she
had been sick herself, and had only just now got out of bed.

Clementina was too young to feel the pathos of the case fully, or perhaps
even to follow the tortuous course of Mrs. Lander's motives, but she was
moved by her grief; and she could not help a thrill of pleasure in the
vague splendor of the future outlined by Mrs. Lander's proposal.  For a
time she had thought that Mrs. Milray was going to ask her to visit her
in New York; Mrs. Milray had thrown out a hint of something of the kind
at parting, but that was the last of it; and now she at once made up her
mind that she would like to go with Mrs. Lander, while discreetly saying
that she would ask her father and mother to come and talk with her.




XIII.

Her parents objected to leaving their work; each suggested that the other
had better go; but they both came at Clementina's urgence.  Her father
laughed and her mother frowned when she told them what Mrs. Lander
wanted, from the same misgiving of her sanity.  They partly abandoned
this theory for a conviction of Mrs. Lander's mere folly when she began
to talk, and this slowly yielded to the perception that she had some
streaks of sense.  It was sense in the first place to want to have
Clementina with her, and though it might not be sense to suppose that
they would be anxious to let her go, they did not find so much want of it
as Mrs. Lander talked on.  It was one of her necessities to talk away her
emotions before arriving at her ideas, which were often found in a
tangle, but were not without a certain propriety.  She was now, after her
interview with Clementina, in the immediate presence of these, and it was
her ideas that she began to produce for the girl's father and mother.
She said, frankly, that she had more money than she knew what to do with,
and they must not think she supposed she was doing a favor, for she was
really asking one.

She was alone in the world, without near connections of her own, or
relatives of her husband's, and it would be a mercy if they could let
their daughter come and visit her; she would not call it more than a
visit; that would be the best thing on both sides; she told of her great
fancy for Clementina the first time she saw her, and of her husband's
wish that she would come and visit with them then for the winter.  As for
that money she had tried to make the child take, she presumed that they
knew about it, and she wished to say that she did it because she was
afraid Mr. Lander had said so much about the sewing, that they would be
disappointed.  She gave way to her tears at the recollection, and
confessed that she wanted the child to have the money anyway.  She ended
by asking Mrs. Claxon if she would please to let her have a drink of
water; and she looked about the room, and said that they had got it
finished up a great deal, now, had not they?  She made other remarks upon
it, so apt that Mrs. Claxon gave her a sort of permissive invitation to
look about the whole lower floor, ending with the kitchen.

Mrs. Lander sat down there while Mrs. Claxon drew from the pipes a glass
of water, which she proudly explained was pumped all over the house by
the wind mill that supplied the power for her husband's turning lathes.

"Well, I wish mah husband could have tasted that wata," said Mrs. Lander,
as if reminded of husbands by the word, and by the action of putting down
the glass.  "He was always such a great hand for good, cold wata.  My!
He'd 'a liked youa kitchen, Mrs. Claxon.  He always was such a home-body,
and he did get so ti'ed of hotels.  For all he had such an appearance,
when you see him, of bein'--well!--stiff and proud, he was fah moa common
in his tastes--I don't mean common, exactly, eitha--than what I was; and
many a time when we'd be drivin' through the country, and we'd pass some
o' them long-strung-out houses, don't you know, with the kitchen next to
the wood shed, and then an ahchway befoa you get to the stable, Mr. Landa
he'd get out, and make an urrand, just so's to look in at the kitchen
dooa; he said it made him think of his own motha's kitchen.  We was both
brought up in the country, that's a fact, and I guess if the truth was
known we both expected to settle down and die thea, some time; but now
he's gone, and I don't know what'll become o' me, and sometimes I don't
much care.  I guess if Mr. Landa'd 'a seen youa kitchen, it wouldn't 'a'
been so easy to git him out of it; and I do believe if he's livin'
anywhe' now he takes as much comfo't in my settin' here as what I do.
I presume I shall settle down somewhe's before a great while, and if you
could make up youa mind to let your daughta come to me for a little visit
till spring, you couldn't do a thing that 'd please Mr. Landa moa."

Mrs. Claxon said that she would talk it over with the child's father; and
then Mrs. Lander pressed her to let her take Clementina back to the
Middlemount with her for supper, if they wouldn't let her stay the night.
After Clementina had driven away, Mrs. Claxon accused herself to her
husband of being the greatest fool in the State, but he said that the
carriage was one of the Middlemount rigs, and he guessed it was all
right.  He could see that Clem was wild to go, and he didn't see why she
shouldn't.

"Well, I do, then," his wife retorted.  "We don't know anything about the
woman, or who she is."

"I guess no harm'll come to Clem for one night," said Claxon, and Mrs.
Claxon was forced back upon the larger question for the maintenance of
her anxiety.  She asked what he was going to do about letting Clem go the
whole winter with a perfect stranger; and he answered that he had not got
round to that yet, and that there were a good many things to be thought
of first.  He got round to see the rector before dark, and in the light
of his larger horizon, was better able to orient Mrs. Lander and her
motives than he had been before.

When she came back with the girl the next morning, she had thought of
something in the nature of credentials.  It was the letter from her
church in Boston, which she took whenever she left home, so that if she
wished she might unite with the church in any place where she happened to
be stopping.  It did not make a great impression upon the Klaxons, who
were of no religion, though they allowed their children to go to the
Episcopal church and Sunday-school, and always meant to go themselves.
They said they would like to talk the matter over with the rector, if
Mrs. Lander did not object; she offered to send her carriage for him, and
the rector was brought at once.

He was one of those men who have, in the breaking down of the old
Puritanical faith, and the dying out of the later Unitarian rationalism,
advanced and established the Anglican church so notably in the New
England hill-country, by a wise conformity to the necessities and
exactions of the native temperament.  On the ecclesiastical side he was
conscientiously uncompromising, but personally he was as simple-mannered
as he was simple-hearted.  He was a tall lean man in rusty black, with a
clerical waistcoat that buttoned high, and scholarly glasses, but with a
belated straw hat that had counted more than one summer, and a farmer's
tan on his face and hands.  He pronounced the church-letter, though quite
outside of his own church, a document of the highest respectability, and
he listened with patient deference to the autobiography which Mrs. Lander
poured out upon him, and her identifications, through reference to this
or that person in Boston whom he knew either at first or second hand.
He had not to pronounce upon her syntax, or her social quality; it was
enough for him, in behalf of the Claxons, to find her what she professed
to be.

"You must think," he said, laughing, "that we are over-particular; but
the fact is that we value Clementina rather highly, and we wish to be
sure that your hospitable offer will be for her real good."

"Of cou'se," said Mrs. Lander.  "I should be just so myself abort her."

"I don't know," he continued, "that I've ever said how much we think of
her, Mrs. Richling and I, but this seems a good opportunity, as she is
not present.

"She is not perfect, but she comes as near being a thoroughly good girl as
she can without knowing it.  She has a great deal of common-sense, and we
all want her to have the best chance."

"Well, that's just the way I feel about her, and that's just what I mean
to give her," said Mrs. Lander.

"I am not sure that I make myself quite clear," said the rector.
"I mean, a chance to prove how useful and helpful she can be.  Do you
think you can make life hard for her occasionally?  Can you be peevish
and exacting, and unreasonable?  Can you do something to make her value
superfluity and luxury at their true worth?"

Mrs. Lander looked a little alarmed and a little offended.  "I don't know
as I undastand what you mean, exactly," she said, frowning rather with
perplexity than resentment.  "But the child sha'n't have a care, and her
own motha couldn't be betta to her than me.  There a'n't anything money
can buy that she sha'n't have, if she wants it, and all I'll ask of her
is 't she'll enjoy herself as much as she knows how.  I want her with me
because I should love to have her round; and we did from the very fust
minute she spoke, Mr. Lander and me, both.  She shall have her own money,
and spend it for anything she pleases, and she needn't do a stitch o'
work from mohnin' till night.  But if you're afraid I shall put upon her"

"No, no," said the rector, and he threw back his head with a laugh.

"When it was all arranged, a few days later, after the verification of
certain of Mrs. Lander's references by letters to Boston, he said to
Clementina's father and mother, "There's only one danger, now, and that
is that she will spoil Clementina; but there's a reasonable hope that she
won't know how."  He found the Claxons struggling with a fresh misgiving,
which Claxon expressed.  "The way I look at it is like this.  I don't
want that woman should eva think Clem was after her money.  On the face
of it there a'n't very much to her that would make anybody think but what
we was after it; and I should want it pootty well undastood that we
wa'n't that kind.  But I don't seem to see any way of tellin' her."

"No," said the rector, with a sympathetic twinkle, "that would be
difficult."

"It's plain to be seen," Mrs. Claxon interposed, "that she thinks a good
deal of her money; and I d' know but what she'd think she was doin' Clem
most too much of a favor anyway.  If it can't be a puffectly even thing,
all round, I d' know as I should want it to be at all."

"You're quite right, Mrs. Claxon, quite right.  But I believe Mrs.
Lander may be safely left to look out for her own interests.  After all,
she has merely asked Clementina to pass the winter with her.  It will be
a good opportunity for her to see something of the world; and perhaps it
may bring her the chance of placing herself in life.  We have got to
consider these things with reference to a young girl."

Mrs. Claxon said, "Of cou'se," but Claxon did not assent so readily.

"I don't feel as if I should want Clem to look at it in that light.  If
the chance don't come to her, I don't want she should go huntin' round
for it."

"I thoroughly agree with you," said the rector.  "But I was thinking that
there was not only no chance worthy of her in Middlemount, but there is
no chance at all."

"I guess that's so," Claxon owned with a laugh.  "Well, I guess we can
leave it to Clem to do what's right and proper everyway.  As you say,
she's got lots of sense."

From that moment he emptied his mind of care concerning the matter; but
husband and wife are never both quite free of care on the same point of
common interest, and Mrs. Claxon assumed more and more of the anxieties
which he had abandoned.  She fretted under the load, and expressed an
exasperated tenderness for Clementina when the girl seemed forgetful of
any of the little steps to be taken before the great one in getting her
clothes ready for leaving home.  She said finally that she presumed they
were doing a wild thing, and that it looked crazier and crazier the more
she thought of it; but all was, if Clem didn't like, she could come home.
By this time her husband was in something of that insensate eagerness to
have the affair over that people feel in a house where there is a
funeral.

At the station, when Clementina started for Boston with Mrs. Lander, her
father and mother, with the rector and his wife, came to see her off.
Other friends mistakenly made themselves of the party, and kept her
talking vacuities when her heart was full, till the train drew up.  Her
father went with her into the parlor car, where the porter of the
Middlemount House set down Mrs. Lander's hand baggage and took the final
fee she thrust upon him.  When Claxon came out he was not so satisfactory
about the car as he might have been to his wife, who had never been
inside a parlor car, and who had remained proudly in the background,
where she could not see into it from the outside.  He said that he had
felt so bad about Clem that he did not notice what the car was like.
But he was able to report that she looked as well as any of the folks in
it, and that, if there were any better dressed, he did not see them.  He
owned that she cried some, when he said good-bye to her.

"I guess," said his wife, grimly, "we're a passel o' fools to let her go.
Even if she don't like, the'a, with that crazy-head, she won't be the
same Clem when she comes back."

They were too heavy-hearted to dispute much, and were mostly silent as
they drove home behind Claxon's self-broken colt: a creature that had
taken voluntarily to harness almost from its birth, and was an example to
its kind in sobriety and industry.

The children ran out from the house to meet them, with a story of having
seen Clem at a point in the woods where the train always slowed up before
a crossing, and where they had all gone to wait for her.  She had seen
them through the car-window, and had come out on the car platform, and
waved her handkerchief, as she passed, and called something to them,
but they could not hear what it was, they were all cheering so.

At this their mother broke down, and went crying into the house.  Not to
have had the last words of the child whom she should never see the same
again if she ever saw her at all, was more, she said, than heart could
bear.

The rector's wife arrived home with her husband in a mood of mounting
hopefulness, which soared to tops commanding a view of perhaps more of
this world's kingdoms than a clergyman's wife ought ever to see, even for
another.  She decided that Clementina's chances of making a splendid
match, somewhere, were about of the nature of certainties, and she
contended that she would adorn any station, with experience, and with her
native tact, especially if it were a very high station in Europe, where
Mrs. Lander would now be sure to take her.  If she did not take her to
Europe, however, she would be sure to leave her all her money, and this
would serve the same end, though more indirectly.

Mr. Richling scoffed at this ideal of Clementina's future with a contempt
which was as little becoming to his cloth.  He made his wife reflect
that, with all her inherent grace and charm, Clementina was an ignorant
little country girl, who had neither the hardness of heart nor the
greediness of soul, which gets people on in the world, and repair for
them the disadvantages of birth and education.  He represented that even
if favorable chances for success in society showed themselves to the
girl, the intense and inexpugnable vulgarity of Mrs. Lander would spoil
them; and he was glad of this, he said, for he believed that the best
thing which could happen to the child would be to come home as sweet and
good as she had gone away; he added this was what they ought both to pray
for.

His wife admitted this, but she retorted by asking if he thought such a
thing was possible, and he was obliged to own that it was not possible.
He marred the effect of his concession by subjoining that it was no more
possible than her making a brilliant and triumphant social figure in
society, either at home or in Europe.




XIV.

So far from embarking at once for Europe, Mrs. Lander went to that hotel
in a suburb of Boston, where she had the habit of passing the late autumn
months, in order to fortify herself for the climate of the early winter
months in the city.  She was a little puzzled how to provide for
Clementina, with respect to herself, but she decided that the best thing
would be to have her sleep in a room opening out of her own, with a
folding bed in it, so that it could be used as a sort of parlor for both
of them during the day, and be within easy reach, for conversation, at
all times.

On her part, Clementina began by looking after Mrs. Lander's comforts,
large and little, like a daughter, to her own conception and to that of
Mrs. Lander, but to other eyes, like a servant.  Mrs. Lander shyly shrank
from acquaintance among the other ladies, and in the absence of this, she
could not introduce Clementina, who went down to an early breakfast
alone, and sat apart with her at lunch and dinner, ministering to her in
public as she did in private.  She ran back to their rooms to fetch her
shawl, or her handkerchief, or whichever drops or powders she happened to
be taking with her meals, and adjusted with closer care the hassock which
the head waiter had officially placed at her feet.  They seldom sat in
the parlor where the ladies met, after dinner; they talked only to each
other; and there, as elsewhere, the girl kept her filial care of the old
woman.  The question of her relation to Mrs. Lander became so pressing
among several of the guests that, after Clementina had watched over the
banisters, with throbbing heart and feet, a little dance one night which
the other girls had got up among themselves, and had fled back to her
room at the approach of one of the kindlier and bolder of them, the
landlord felt forced to learn from Mrs. Lander how Miss Claxon was to be
regarded.  He managed delicately, by saying he would give the Sunday
paper she had ordered to her nurse, "Or, I beg your pardon," he added, as
if he had made a mistake.  "Why, she a'n't my nuhse," Mrs. Lander
explained, simply, neither annoyed nor amused; "she's just a young lady
that's visiting me, as you may say," and this put an end to the misgiving
among the ladies.  But it suggested something to Mrs. Lander, and a few
days afterwards, when they came out from Boston where they had been
shopping, and she had been lavishing a bewildering waste of gloves, hats,
shoes, capes and gowns upon Clementina, she said, "I'll tell you what.
We've got to have a maid."

"A maid?" cried the girl.

"It isn't me, or my things I want her for," said Mrs. Lander.  "It's you
and these dresses of youas.  I presume you could look afta them, come to
give youa mind to it; but I don't want to have you tied up to a lot of
clothes; and I presume we should find her a comfo't in moa ways than one,
both of us.  I don't know what we shall want her to do, exactly; but I
guess she will, if she undastands her business, and I want you should go
in with me, to-morror, and find one.  I'll speak to some of the ladies,
and find out whe's the best place to go, and we'll get the best there
is."

A lady whom Mrs. Lander spoke to entered into the affair with zeal born
of a lurking sense of the wrong she had helped do Clementina in the
common doubt whether she was not herself Mrs. Lander's maid.  She offered
to go into Boston with them to an intelligence office, where you could
get nice girls of all kinds; but she ended by giving Mrs. Lander the
address, and instructions as to what she was to require in a maid.  She
was chiefly to get an English maid, if at all possible, for the
qualifications would more or less naturally follow from her nationality.
There proved to be no English maid, but there was a Swedish one who had
received a rigid training in an English family living on the Continent,
and had come immediately from that service to seek her first place in
America.  The manager of the office pronounced her character, as set down
in writing, faultless, and Mrs. Lander engaged her.  "You want to look
afta this young lady," she said, indicating Clementina.  "I can look afta
myself," but Ellida took charge of them both on the train out from Boston
with prompt intelligence.

"We got to get used to it, I guess," Mrs. Lander confided at the first
chance of whispering to Clementina.

Within a month after washing the faces and combing the hair of all her
brothers and sisters who would suffer it at her hands, Clementina's own
head was under the brush of a lady's maid, who was of as great a
discreetness in her own way as Clementina herself.  She supplied the
defects of Mrs. Lander's elementary habits by simply asking if she should
get this thing and that thing for the toilet, without criticising its
absence,--and then asking whether she should get the same things for her
young lady.  She appeared to let Mrs. Lander decide between having her
brushes in ivory or silver, but there was really no choice for her, and
they came in silver.  She knew not only her own place, but the places of
her two ladies, and she presently had them in such training that they
were as proficient in what they might and might not do for themselves and
for each other, as if making these distinctions were the custom of their
lives.

Their hearts would both have gone out to Ellida, but Ellida kept them at
a distance with the smooth respectfulness of the iron hand in the glove
of velvet; and Clementina first learned from her to imagine the
impassable gulf between mistress and maid.

At the end of her month she gave them, out of a clear sky, a week's
warning.  She professed no grievance, and was not moved by Mrs. Lander's
appeal to say what wages she wanted.  She would only say that she was
going to take a place an Commonwealth Avenue, where a friend of hers was
living, and when the week was up, she went, and left her late mistresses
feeling rather blank.  "I presume we shall have to get anotha," said
Mrs. Lander.

"Oh, not right away!" Clementina pleaded.

"Well, not right away," Mrs. Lander assented; and provisionally they each
took the other into her keeping, and were much freer and happier
together.

Soon after Clementina was startled one morning, as she was going in to
breakfast, by seeing Mr. Fane at the clerk's desk.  He did not see her;
he was looking down at the hotel register, to compute the bill of a
departing guest; but when she passed out she found him watching for her,
with some letters.

"I didn't know you were with us," he said, with his pensive smile, "till
I found your letters here, addressed to Mrs. Lander's care; and then I
put two and two together.  It only shows how small the world is, don't
you think so?  I've just got back from my vacation; I prefer to take it
in the fall of the year, because it's so much pleasanter to travel, then.
I suppose you didn't know I was here?"

"No, I didn't," said Clementina.  "I never dreamed of such a thing."

"To be sure; why should you?" Fane reflected.  "I've been here ever since
last spring.  But I'll say this, Miss Claxon, that if it's the least
unpleasant to you, or the least disagreeable, or awakens any kind of
associations"--

"Oh, no!" Clementina protested, and Fane was spared the pain of saying
what he would do if it were.

He bowed, and she said sweetly, "It's pleasant to meet any one I've seen
before.  I suppose you don't know how much it's changed at Middlemount
since you we' e thea."  Fane answered blankly, while he felt in his
breast pocket, Oh, he presumed so; and she added: "Ha'dly any of the same
guests came back this summer, and they had more in July than they had in
August, Mrs. Atwell said.  Mr. Mahtin, the chef, is gone, and newly all
the help is different."

Fane kept feeling in one pocket and then slapped himself over the other
pockets.  "No," he said, "I haven't got it with me.  I must have left it
in my room.  I just received a letter from Frank--Mr. Gregory, you know,
I always call him Frank--and I thought I had it with me.  He was asking
about Middlemount; and I wanted to read you what he said.  But I'll find
it upstairs.  He's out of college, now, and he's begun his studies in the
divinity school.  He's at Andover.  I don't know what to make of Frank,
oftentimes," the clerk continued, confidentially.  "I tell him he's a
kind of a survival, in religion; he's so aesthetic."  It seemed to Fane
that he had not meant aesthetic, exactly, but he could not ask Clementina
what the word was.  He went on to say, "He's a grand good fellow, Frank
is, but he don't make enough allowance for human nature.  He's more like
one of those old fashioned orthodox.  I go in for having a good time, so
long as you don't do anybody else any hurt."

He left her, and went to receive the commands of a lady who was leaning
over the desk, and saying severely, "My mail, if you please," and
Clementina could not wait for him to come back; she had to go to Mrs.
Lander, and get her ready for breakfast; Ellida had taught Mrs. Lander a
luxury of helplessness in which she persisted after the maid's help was
withdrawn.

Clementina went about the whole day with the wonder what Gregory had said
about Middlemount filling her mind.  It must have had something to do
with her; he could not have forgotten the words he had asked her to
forget.  She remembered them now with a curiosity, which had no rancor in
it, to know why he really took them back.  She had never blamed him, and
she had outlived the hurt she had felt at not hearing from him.  But she
had never lost the hope of hearing from him, or rather the expectation,
and now she found that she was eager for his message; she decided that it
must be something like a message, although it could not be anything
direct.  No one else had come to his place in her fancy, and she was
willing to try what they would think of each other now, to measure her
own obligation to the past by a knowledge of his.  There was scarcely
more than this in her heart when she allowed herself to drift near Fane's
place that night, that he might speak to her, and tell her what Gregory
had said.  But he had apparently forgotten about his letter, and only
wished to talk about himself.  He wished to analyze himself, to tell her
what sort of person he was.  He dealt impartially with the subject; he
did not spare some faults of his; and after a week, he proposed a
correspondence with her, in a letter of carefully studied spelling, as a
means of mutual improvement as well as further acquaintance.

It cost Clementina a good deal of trouble to answer him as she wished and
not hurt his feelings.  She declined in terms she thought so cold that
they must offend him beyond the point of speaking to her again; but he
sought her out, as soon after as he could, and thanked her for her
kindness, and begged her pardon.  He said he knew that she was a very
busy person, with all the lessons she was taking, and that she had no
time for carrying on a correspondence.  He regretted that he could not
write French, because then the correspondence would have been good
practice for her.  Clementina had begun taking French lessons, of a
teacher who came out from Boston.  She lunched three times a week with
her and Mrs. Lander, and spoke the language with Clementina, whose accent
she praised for its purity; purity of accent was characteristic of all
this lady's pupils; but what was really extraordinary in Mademoiselle
Claxon was her sense of grammatical structure; she wrote the language
even more perfectly than she spoke it; but beautifully, but wonderfully;
her exercises were something marvellous.

Mrs. Lander would have liked Clementina to take all the lessons that she
heard any of the other young ladies in the hotel were taking.  One of
them went in town every day, and studied drawing at an art-school, and
she wanted Clementina to do that, too.  But Clementina would not do that;
she had tried often enough at home, when her brother Jim was drawing, and
her father was designing the patterns of his woodwork; she knew that she
never could do it, and the time would be wasted.  She decided against
piano lessons and singing lessons, too; she did not care for either, and
she pleaded that it would be a waste to study them; but she suggested
dancing lessons, and her gift for dancing won greater praise, and perhaps
sincerer, than her accent won from Mademoiselle Blanc, though Mrs. Lander
said that she would not have believed any one could be more
complimentary.  She learned the new steps and figures in all the
fashionable dances; she mastered some fancy dances, which society was
then beginning to borrow from the stage; and she gave these before Mrs.
Lander with a success which she felt herself.

"I believe I could teach dancing," she said.

"Well, you won't eve haf to, child," returned Mrs. Lander, with an eye on
the side of the case that seldom escaped her.

In spite of his wish to respect these preoccupations, Fane could not keep
from offering Clementina attentions, which took the form of persecution
when they changed from flowers for Mrs. Lander's table to letters for
herself.  He apologized for his letters whenever he met her; but at last
one of them came to her before breakfast with a special delivery stamp
from Boston.  He had withdrawn to the city to write it, and he said that
if she could not make him a favorable answer, he should not come back to
Woodlake.

She had to show this letter to Mrs. Lander, who asked: "You want he
should come back?"

"No, indeed!  I don't want eva to see him again."

"Well, then, I guess you'll know how to tell him so."

The girl went into her own room to write, and when she brought her answer
to show it to Mrs. Lander she found her in frowning thought.  "I don't
know but you'll have to go back and write it all over again, Clementina,"
she said, "if you've told him not to come.  I've been thinkin', if you
don't want to have anything to do with him, we betta go ouaselves."

"Yes," answered Clementina, "that's what I've said."

"You have?  Well, the witch is in it!  How came you to"--

"I just wanted to talk with you about it.  But I thought maybe you'd like
to go.  Or at least I should.  I should like to go home, Mrs. Landa."

"Home!" retorted Mrs. Lander.  "The'e's plenty of places where you can be
safe from the fella besides home, though I'll take you back the'a this
minute if you say so.  But you needn't to feel wo'ked up about it."

"Oh, I'm not," said Clementina, but with a gulp which betrayed her
nervousness.

"I did think," Mrs. Lander went on, "that I should go into the Vonndome,
for December and January, but just as likely as not he'd come pesterin'
the'a, too, and I wouldn't go, now, if you was to give me the whole city
of Boston.  Why shouldn't we go to Florid?"

When Mrs. Lander had once imagined the move, the nomadic impulse mounted
irresistably in her.  She spoke of hotels in the South, where they could
renew the summer, and she mapped out a campaign which she put into
instant action so far as to advance upon New York.




ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

All in all to each other
Chained to the restless pursuit of an ideal not his own
Composed her features and her ideas to receive her visitor
Going on of things had long ceased to bring pleasure
He a'n't a do-nothin'; he's a do-everything
Hopeful apathy in his face
I'm moa used to havin' the things brought to me
Inexhaustible flow of statement, conjecture and misgiving
Kept her talking vacuities when her heart was full
Led a life of public seclusion
Luxury of helplessness
New England necessity of blaming some one
No object in life except to deprive it of all object
Perverse reluctance to find out where they were
Provisional reprehension of possible shiftlessness
Scant sleep of an elderly man
Seldom talked, but there came times when he would'nt even listen
Thrown mainly upon the compassion of the chambermaids
Tone was a snuffle expressive of deep-seated affliction
Unaware that she was a selfish or foolish person
Under a fire of conjecture and asseveration
Weak in his double letters
Wishes of a mistress who did not know what she wanted
You've got a light-haired voice




End of this Project Gutenberg Etext of Ragged Lady, v1
by William Dean Howells






RAGGED LADY

By William Dean Howells


Part 2


XV.

Mrs.  Lander went to a hotel in New York where she had been in the habit
of staying with her husband, on their way South or North.  The clerk knew
her, and shook hands with her across the register, and said she could
have her old rooms if she wanted them; the bell-boy who took up their
hand-baggage recalled himself to her; the elevator-boy welcomed her with
a smile of remembrance.

Since she was already up, from coming off the sleeping-car, she had no
excuse for not going to breakfast like other people; and she went with
Clementina to the dining-room, where the head-waiter, who found them
places, spoke with an outlandish accent, and the waiter who served them
had a parlance that seemed superficially English, but was inwardly
something else; there was even a touch in the cooking of the familiar
dishes, that needed translation for the girl's inexperienced palate.
She was finding a refuge in the strangeness of everything, when she was
startled by the sound of a familiar voice calling, "Clementina Claxon!
Well, I was sure all along it was you, and I determined I wouldn't stand
it another minute.  Why, child, how you have changed!  Why, I declare you
are quite a woman!  When did you come?  How pretty you are Mrs. Milray
took Clementina in her arms and kissed her in proof of her admiration
before the whole breakfast room.  She was very nice to Mrs. Lander, too,
who, when Clementina introduced them, made haste to say that Clementina
was there on a visit with her.  Mrs. Milray answered that she envied her
such a visitor as Miss Claxon, and protested that she should steal her
away for a visit to herself, if Mr. Milray was not so much in love with
her that it made her jealous.  "Mr. Milray has to have his breakfast in
his room," she explained to Clementina.  "He's not been so well, since he
lost his mother.  Yes," she said, with decorous solemnity, "I'm still in
mourning for her," and Clementina saw that she was in a tempered black.
"She died last year, and now I'm taking Mr. Milray abroad to see if it
won't cheer him up a little.  Are you going South for the winter?" she
inquired, politely, of Mrs. Lander.  "I wish I was going," she said, when
Mrs. Lander guessed they should go, later on.  "Well, you must come in
and see me all you can, Clementina; and I shall have the pleasure of
calling upon you," she added to Mrs. Lander with state that was lost in
the soubrette-like volatility of her flight from them the next moment.
"Goodness, I forgot all about Mr. Milray's breakfast!  "She ran back to
the table she had left on the other side of the room.

"Who is that, Clementina?" asked Mrs. Lander, on their way to their
rooms.  Clementina explained as well as she could, and Mrs. Lander summed
up her feeling in the verdict, "Well, she's a lady, if ever I saw a lady;
and you don't see many of 'em, nowadays."

The girl remembered how Mrs. Milray had once before seemed very fond of
her, and had afterwards forgotten the pretty promises and professions she
had made her.  But she went with Mrs. Lander to see her, and she saw Mr.
Milray, too, for a little while.  He seemed glad of their meeting, but
still depressed by the bereavement which Mrs. Milray supported almost
with gayety.  When he left them she explained that he was a good deal
away from her, with his family, as she approved of his being, though she
had apparently no wish to join him in all the steps of the reconciliation
which the mother's death had brought about among them.  Sometimes his
sisters came to the hotel to see her, but she amused herself perfectly
without them, and she gave much more of her leisure to Clementina and
Mrs. Lander.

She soon knew the whole history of the relation between them, and the
first time that Clementina found her alone with Mrs. Lander she could
have divined that Mrs. Lander had been telling her of the Fane affair,
even if Mrs. Milray had not at once called out to her, "I know all about
it; and I'll tell you what, Clementina, I'm going to take you over with
me and marry you to an English Duke.  Mrs. Lander and I have been
planning it all out, and I'm going to send down to the steamer office,
and engage your passage.  It's all settled!"

When she was gone, Mfrs.  Lander asked, "What do you s'pose your folks
would say to your goin' to Europe, anyway, Clementina?" as if the matter
had been already debated between them.

Clementina hesitated.  "I should want to be su'a Mrs. Milray really
wanted me to go ova with her."

"Why, didn't you hear her say so?"  demanded Mrs. Lander.

"Yes," sighed Clementina.  "Mrs. Lander, I think Mrs. Milray means what
she says, at the time, but she is one that seems to forget."

"She thinks the wo'ld of you," Mrs. Lander urged.

"She was very nice to me that summer at Middlemount.  I guess maybe she
would like to have us go with her," the girl relented.

"I guess we'll wait and see," said Mrs. Lander.  "I shouldn't want she
should change her mind when it was too late, as you say."  They were both
silent for a time, and then Mrs. Lander resumed, "But I presume she
ha'n't got the only steams that's crossin'.  What should you say about
goin' over on some otha steams?  I been South a good many wintas, and I
should feel kind of lonesome goin' round to the places where I been with
Mr. Landa.  I felt it since I been here in this hotel, some, and I can't
seem to want to go ova the same ground again, well, not right away."

Clementina said, "Why, of cou'se, Mrs. Landa."

"Should you be willin'," asked Mrs. Lander, after another little pause,
"if your folks was willin', to go ova the'a, to some of them European
countries, to spend the winta?"

"Oh yes, indeed!" said Clementina.

They discussed the matter in one of the full talks they both liked.  At
the end Mrs. Lander said, "Well, I guess you betta write home, and ask
your motha whetha you can go, so't if we take the notion we can go any
time.  Tell her to telegraph, if she'll let you, and do write all the ifs
and ands, so't she'll know just how to answa, without havin' to have you
write again."

That evening Mrs. Milray came to their table from where she had been
dining alone, and asked in banter: "Well, have you made up your minds to
go over with me?"

Mrs. Lander said bluntly, "We can't ha'dly believe yon really want us to,
Mrs. Milray."

"I don't want you?  Who put such an idea into your head!  Oh, I know!"
She threatened Clementina with the door-key, which she was carrying in
her hand.  "It was you, was it?  What an artful, suspicious thing!
What's got into you, child?  Do you hate me?"  She did not give
Clementina time to protest.  "Well, now, I can just tell you I do want
you, and I'll be quite heart-broken if you don't come."

"Well, she wrote to her friends this mohning," Mrs. Lander said, "but I
guess she won't git an answa in time for youa steamer, even if they do
let her go."

"Oh, yes she will," Mrs. Milray protested.  "It's all right, now; you've
got to go, and there's no use trying to get out of it."

She came to them whenever she could find them in the dining-room, and she
knocked daily at their door till she knew that Clementina had heard from
home.  The girl's mother wrote, without a punctuation mark in her letter,
but with a great deal of sense, that such a thing as her going to Europe
could not be settled by telegraph.  She did not think it worth while to
report all the facts of a consultation with the rector which they had
held upon getting Clementina's request, and which had renewed all the
original question of her relations with Mrs. Lander in an intensified
form.  He had disposed of this upon much the same terms as before; and
they had yielded more readily because the experiment had so far
succeeded.  Clementina had apparently no complaint to make of Mrs.
Lander; she was eager to go, and the rector and his wife, who had been
invited to be of the council, were both of the opinion that a course of
European travel would be of the greatest advantage to the girl, if she
wished to fit herself for teaching.  It was an opportunity that they must
not think of throwing away.  If Mrs. Lander went to Florence, as it
seemed from Clementina's letter she thought of doing, the girl would pass
a delightful winter in study of one of the most interesting cities in the
world, and she would learn things which would enable her to do better for
herself when she came home than she could ever hope to do otherwise.  She
might never marry, Mr. Richling suggested, and it was only right and fair
that she should be equipped with as much culture as possible for the
struggle of life; Mrs. Richling agreed with this rather vague theory, but
she was sure that Clementina would get married to greater advantage in
Florence than anywhere else.  They neither of them really knew anything
at first hand about Florence; the rector's opinion was grounded on the
thought of the joy that a sojourn in Italy would have been to him; his
wife derived her hope of a Florentine marriage for Clementina from
several romances in which love and travel had gone hand in hand, to the
lasting credit of triumphant American girlhood.

The Claxons were not able to enter into their view of the case, but if
Mrs. Lander wanted to go to Florence instead of Florida they did not see
why Clementina should not go with her to one place as well as the other.
They were not without a sense of flattery from the fact that their
daughter was going to Europe; but they put that as far from them as they
could, the mother severely and the father ironically, as something too
silly, and they tried not to let it weigh with them in making up their
mind, but to consider only Clementina's best good, and not even to regard
her pleasure.  Her mother put before her the most crucial questions she
could think of, in her letter, and then gave her full leave from her
father as well as herself to go if she wished.

Clementina had rather it had been too late to go with the Milrays, but
she felt bound to own her decision when she reached it; and Mrs. Milray,
whatever her real wish was, made it a point of honor to help get Mrs.
Lander berths on her steamer.  It did not require much effort; there are
plenty of berths for the latest-comers on a winter passage, and
Clementina found herself the fellow passenger of Mrs. Milray.




XVI.

As soon as Mrs. Lander could make her way to her state-room, she got into
her berth, and began to take the different remedies for sea-sickness
which she had brought with her.  Mrs. Milray said that was nice, and that
now she and Clementina could have a good tune.  But before it came to
that she had taken pity on a number of lonely young men whom she found on
board.  She cheered them up by walking round the ship with them; but if
any of them continued dull in spite of this, she dropped him, and took
another; and before she had been two days out she had gone through with
nearly all the lonely young men on the list of cabin passengers.  She
introduced some of them to Clementina, but at such times as she had them
in charge; and for the most part she left her to Milray.  Once, as the
girl sat beside him in her steamer-chair, Mrs. Milray shed a wrap on his
knees in whirring by on the arm of one of her young men, with some
laughed and shouted charge about it.

"What did she say?"  he asked Clementina, slanting the down-pulled brim
of his soft hat purblindly toward her.

She said she had not understood, and then Milray asked, "What sort of
person is that Boston youth of Mrs. Milray's?  Is he a donkey or a lamb?"

Clementina said ingenuously, "Oh, she's walking with that English
gentleman now--that lo'd."

"Ah, yes," said Milray.  "He's not very much to look at, I hear."

"Well, not very much," Clementina admitted; she did not like to talk
against people.

"Lords are sometimes disappointing, Clementina," Milray said, "but then,
so are other great men.  I've seen politicians on our side who were
disappointing, and there are clergymen and gamblers who don't look it."
He laughed sadly.  "That's the way people talk who are a little
disappointing themselves.  I hope you don't expect too much of yourself,
Clementina?"

"I don't know what you mean," she said, stiffening with a suspicion that
he might be going to make fun of her.

He laughed more gayly.  "Well, I mean we must hold the other fellows up
to their duty, or we can't do our own.  We need their example.  Charity
may begin at home, but duty certainly begins abroad."  He went on, as if
it were a branch of the same inquiry, "Did you ever meet my sisters?
They came to the hotel in New York to see Mrs. Milray."

"Yes, I was in the room once when they came in."

"Did you like them?"

"Yes--I sca'cely spoke to them--I only stayed a moment."

"Would you like to see any more of the family?"

"Why, of cou'se!" Clementina was amused at his asking, but he seemed in
earnest.

"One of my sisters lives in Florence, and Mrs. Milray says you think of
going there, too."

"Mrs. Landa thought it would be a good place to spend the winter.  Is it
a pleasant place?"

"Oh, delightful!  Do you know much about Italy?"

"Not very much, I don't believe."

"Well, my sister has lived a good while in Florence.  I should like to
give you a letter to her."

"Oh, thank you!" said Clementina.

Milray smiled at her spare acknowledgment, but inquired gravely: "What do
you expect to do in Florence?"

"Why, I presume, whateva Mrs. Landa wants to do."

"Do you think Mrs. Lander will want to go into society?"

This question had not occurred to Clementina.  "I don't believe she
will," she said, thoughtfully.

"Shall you?"

Clementina laughed, "Why, do you think," she ventured, "that society
would want me to?"

"Yes, I think it would, if you're as charming as you've tried to make me
believe.  Oh, I don't mean, to your own knowledge; but some people have
ways of being charming without knowing it.  If Mrs. Lander isn't going
into society, and there should be a way found for you to go, don't
refuse, will you?"

"I shall wait and see if I'm asked, fust."

"Yes, that will be best," said Milray.  "But I shall give you a letter to
my sister.  She and I used to be famous cronies, and we went to a great
many parties together when we were young people.  We thought the world
was a fine thing, then.  But it changes."

He fell into a muse, and they were both sitting quite silent when Mrs.
Milray came round the corner of the music room in the course of her
twentieth or thirtieth compass of the deck, and introduced her lord to
her husband and to Clementina.  He promptly ignored Milray, and devoted
himself to the girl, leaning over her with his hand against the bulkhead
behind her and talking down upon her.

Lord Lioncourt must have been about thirty, but he had the heated and
broken complexion of a man who has taken more than is good for him in
twice that number of years.  This was one of the wrongs nature had done
him in apparent resentment of the social advantages he was born to, for
he was rather abstemious, as Englishmen go.  He looked a very shy person
till he spoke, and then you found that he was not in the least shy.  He
looked so English that you would have expected a strong English accent of
him, but his speech was more that of an American, without the nasality.
This was not apparently because he had been much in America; he was
returning from his first visit to the States, which had been spent
chiefly in the Territories; after a brief interval of Newport he had
preferred the West; he liked rather to hunt than to be hunted, though
even in the West his main business had been to kill time, which he found
more plentiful there than other game.  The natives, everywhere, were much
the same thing to him; if he distinguished it was in favor of those who
did not suppose themselves cultivated.  If again he had a choice it was
for the females; they seemed to him more amusing than the males, who
struck him as having an exaggerated reputation for humor.  He did not
care much for Clementina's past, as he knew it from Mrs. Milray, and if
it did not touch his fancy, it certainly did not offend his taste.  A
real artistocracy is above social prejudice, when it will; he had known
some of his order choose the mothers of their heirs from the music halls,
and when it came to a question of distinctions among Americans, he could
not feel them.  They might be richer or poorer; but they could not be
more patrician or more plebeian.

The passengers, he told Clementina, were getting up, at this point of the
ship's run, an entertainment for the benefit of the seaman's hospital in
Liverpool, that well-known convention of ocean-travel, which is sure at
some time or other, to enlist all the talent on board every English
steamer in some sort of public appeal.  He was not very clear how he came
to be on the committee for drumming up talent for the occasion; his
distinction seemed to have been conferred by a popular vote in the
smoking room, as nearly as he could make out; but here he was, and he was
counting upon Miss Claxon to help him out.  He said Mrs. Milray had told
him about that charming affair they had got up in the mountains, and he
was sure they could have something of the kind again.  "Perhaps not a
coaching party; that mightn't be so easy to manage at sea.  But isn't
there something else--some tableaux or something?  If we couldn't have
the months of the year we might have the points of the compass, and you
could take your choice."

He tried to get something out of the notion, but nothing came of it that
Mrs. Milray thought possible.  She said, across her husband, on whose
further side she had sunk into a chair, that they must have something
very informal; everybody must do what they could, separately.  "I know
you can do anything you like, Clementina.  Can't you play something, or
sing?"  At Clementina's look of utter denial, she added, desperately,
"Or dance something?  "A light came into the girl's face at which she
caught.  "I know you can dance something!  Why, of course!  Now, what is
it?"

Clementina smiled at her vehemence.  "Why, it's nothing.  And I don't
know whether I should like to."

"Oh, yes," urged Lord Lioncourt.  "Such a good cause, you know."

"What is it?" Mrs. Milray insisted.  "Is it something you could do
alone?"

"It's just a dance that I learned at Woodlake.  The teacha said that all
the young ladies we'e leaning it.  It's a skut-dance"--

"The very thing!"  Mrs. Milray shouted.  "It'll be the hit of the
evening."

"But I've never done it before any one," Clementina faltered.

"They'll all be doing their turns," the Englishman said.  "Speaking, and
singing, and playing."

Clementina felt herself giving way, and she pleaded in final reluctance,
"But I haven't got a pleated skut in my steama trunk."

"No matter!  We can manage that."  Mrs. Milray jumped to her feet and
took Lord Lioncourt's arm.  "Now we must go and drum up somebody else."
He did not seem eager to go, but he started.  "Then that's all settled,"
she shouted over her shoulder to Clementina.

"No, no, Mrs. Milray!  "Clementina called after her.  "The ship tilts
so"--

"Nonsense!  It's the smoothest run she ever made in December.  And I'll
engage to have the sea as steady as a rock for you.  Remember, now,
you've promised."

Mrs. Milray whirled her Englishman away, and left Clementina sitting
beside her husband.

"Did you want to dance for them, Clementina?"  he asked.

"I don't know," she said, with the vague smile of one to whom a pleasant
hope has occurred.

"I thought perhaps you were letting Mrs. Milray bully you into it.  She's
a frightful tyrant."

"Oh, I guess I should like to do it, if you think it would be--nice."

"I dare say it will be the nicest thing at their ridiculous show."
Milray laughed as if her willingness to do the dance had defeated a
sentimental sympathy in him.

"I don't believe it will be that," said Clementina, beaming joyously.
"But I guess I shall try it, if I can find the right kind of a dress."

"Is a pleated skirt absolutely necessary," asked Milray, gravely.

"I don't see how I could get on without it," said Clementina.

She was so serious still when she went down to her state-room that Mrs.
Lander was distracted from her potential ailments to ask: "What is it,
Clementina?"

"Oh, nothing.  Mrs. Milray has got me to say that I would do something at
a concert they ah' going to have on the ship."  She explained, "It's that
skut dance I learnt at Woodlake of Miss Wilson."

"Well, I guess if you're worryin' about that you needn't to."

"Oh, I'm not worrying about the dance.  I was just thinking what I should
wear.  If I could only get at the trunks!"

"It won't make any matte what you wear," said Mrs. Lander.  "It'll be the
greatest thing; and if 't wa'n't for this sea-sickness that I have to
keep fightin' off he'a, night and day, I should come up and see you
myself.  You ah' just lovely in that dance, Clementina."

"Do you think so, Mrs. Landa?" asked the girl, gratefully.  "Well, Mr.
Milray didn't seem to think that I need to have a pleated skut.  Any
rate, I'm going to look over my things, and see if I can't make something
else do."




XVII.

The entertainment was to be the second night after that, and Mrs. Milray
at first took the whole affair into her own hands.  She was willing to
let the others consult with her, but she made all the decisions, and she
became so prepotent that she drove Lord Lioncourt to rebellion in the
case of some theatrical people whom he wanted in the programme.  He
wished her to let them feel that they were favoring rather than favored,
and she insisted that it should be quite the other way.  She professed a
scruple against having theatrical people in the programme at all, which
she might not have felt if her own past had been different, and she spoke
with an abhorrence of the stage which he could by no means tolerate in
the case.  She submitted with dignity when she could not help it.
Perhaps she submitted with too much dignity.  Her concession verged upon
hauteur; and in her arrogant meekness she went back to another of her
young men, whom she began to post again as the companion of her
promenades.

He had rather an anxious air in the enjoyment of the honor, but the
Englishman seemed unconscious of its loss, or else he chose to ignore it.
He frankly gave his leisure to Clementina, and she thought he was very
pleasant.  There was something different in his way from that of any of
the other men she had met; something very natural and simple, a way of
being easy in what he was, and not caring whether he was like others or
not; he was not ashamed of being ignorant of anything he did not know,
and she was able to instruct him on some points.  He took her quite
seriously when she told him about Middlemount, and how her family came to
settle there, and then how she came to be going to Europe with Mrs.
Lander.  He said Mrs. Milray had spoken about it; but he had not
understood quite how it was before; and he hoped Mrs. Lander was coming
to the entertainment.

He did not seem aware that Mrs. Milray was leaving the affair more and
more to him.  He went forward with it and was as amiable with her as she
would allow.  He was so amiable with everybody that he reconciled many
true Americans to his leadership, who felt that as nearly all the
passengers were Americans, the chief patron of the entertainment ought to
have been some distinguished American.  The want of an American who was
very distinguished did something to pacify them; but the behavior of an
English lord who put on no airs was the main agency.  When the night came
they filled the large music room of the 'Asia Minor', and stood about in
front of the sofas and chairs so many deep that it was hard to see or
hear through them.

They each paid a shilling admittance; they were prepared to give
munificently besides when the hat came round; and after the first burst
of blundering from Lord Lioncourt, they led the magnanimous applause.
He said he never minded making a bad speech in a good cause, and he made
as bad a one as very well could be.  He closed it by telling Mark Twain's
whistling story so that those who knew it by heart missed the paint; but
that might have been because he hurried it, to get himself out of the way
of the others following.  When he had done, one of the most ardent of the
Americans proposed three cheers for him.

The actress whom he had secured in spite of Mrs. Milray appeared in
woman's dress contrary to her inveterate professional habit, and followed
him with great acceptance in her favorite variety-stage song; and then
her husband gave imitations of Sir Henry Irving, and of Miss Maggie Kline
in "T'row him down, McCloskey," with a cockney accent.  A frightened
little girl, whose mother had volunteered her talent, gasped a ballad to
her mother's accompaniment, and two young girls played a duet on the
mandolin and guitar.  A gentleman of cosmopolitan military tradition, who
sold the pools in the smoking-room, and was the friend of all the men
present, and the acquaintance of several, gave selections of his
autobiography prefatory to bellowing in a deep bass voice, "They're
hanging Danny Deaver," and then a lady interpolated herself into the
programme with a kindness which Lord Lioncourt acknowledged, in saying
"The more the merrier," and sang Bonnie Dundee, thumping the piano out of
all proportion to her size and apparent strength.

Some advances which Clementina had made for Mrs. Milray's help about the
dress she should wear in her dance met with bewildering indifference, and
she had fallen back upon her own devices.  She did not think of taking
back her promise, and she had come to look forward to her part with a
happiness which the good weather and the even sway of the ship
encouraged.  But her pulses fluttered, as she glided into the music room,
and sank into a chair next Mrs. Milray.  She had on an accordion skirt
which she had been able to get out of her trunk in the hold, and she felt
that the glance of Mrs. Milray did not refuse it approval.

"That will do nicely, Clementina," she said.  She added, in careless
acknowledgement of her own failure to direct her choice, "I see you
didn't need my help after all," and the thorny point which Clementina
felt in her praise was rankling, when Lord Lioncourt began to introduce
her.

He made rather a mess of it, but as soon as he came to an end of his
well-meant blunders, she stood up and began her poses and paces.  It was
all very innocent, with something courageous as well as appealing.  She
had a kind of tender dignity in her dance, and the delicate beauty of her
face translated itself into the grace of her movements.  It was not
impersonal; there was her own quality of sylvan, of elegant in it; but it
was unconscious, and so far it was typical, it was classic; Mrs. Milray's
Bostonian achieved a snub from her by saying it was like a Botticelli;
and in fact it was merely the skirt-dance which society had borrowed from
the stage at that period, leaving behind the footlights its more
acrobatic phases, but keeping its pretty turns and bows and bends.
Clementina did it not only with tender dignity, but when she was fairly
launched in it, with a passion to which her sense of Mrs. Milray's
strange unkindness lent defiance.  The dance was still so new a thing
then, that it had a surprise to which the girl's gentleness lent a
curious charm, and it had some adventitious fascinations from the
necessity she was in of weaving it in and out among the stationary
armchairs and sofas which still further cramped the narrow space where
she gave it.  Her own delight in it shone from her smiling face, which
was appealingly happy.  Just before it should have ended, one of those
wandering waves that roam the smoothest sea struck the ship, and
Clementina caught herself skilfully from falling, and reeled to her seat,
while the room rang with the applause and sympathetic laughter for the
mischance she had baffled.  There was a storm of encores, but Clementina
called out, "The ship tilts so!" and her naivete won her another burst of
favor, which was at its height when Lord Lioncourt had an inspiration.

He jumped up and said, "Miss Claxon is going to oblige us with a little
bit of dramatics, now, and I'm sure you'll all enjoy that quite as much
as her beautiful dancing.  She's going to take the principal part in the
laughable after-piece of Passing round the Hat, and I hope the audience
will--a--a--a--do the rest.  She's consented on this occasion to use a
hat--or cap, rather--of her own, the charming Tam O'Shanter in which
we've all seen her, and--a--admired her about the ship for the week
past."

He caught up the flat woolen steamer-cap which Clementina had left in her
seat beside Mrs. Milray when she rose to dance, and held it aloft.  Some
one called out, "Chorus!  For he's a jolly good fellow," and led off in
his praise.  Lord Lioncourt shouted through the uproar the announcement
that while Miss Claxon was taking up the collection, Mr. Ewins, of
Boston, would sing one of the student songs of Cambridge--no!  Harvard--
University; the music being his own.

Everyone wanted to make some joke or some compliment to Clementina about
the cap which grew momently heavier under the sovereigns and half
sovereigns, half crowns and half dollars, shillings, quarters, greenbacks
and every fraction of English and American silver; and the actor who had
given the imitations, made bold, as he said, to ask his lordship if the
audience might not hope, before they dispersed, for something more from
Miss Claxon.  He was sure she could do something more; he for one would
be glad of anything; and Clementina turned from putting her cap into Mrs.
Milray's lap, to find Lord Lioncourt bowing at her elbow, and offering
her his arm to lead her to the spot where she had stood in dancing.

The joy of her triumph went to her head; she wished to retrieve herself
from any shadow of defeat.

She stood panting a moment, and then, if she had had the professional
instinct, she would have given her admirers the surprise of something
altogether different from what had pleased them before.  That was what
the actor would have done, but Clementina thought of how her dance had
been brought to an untimely close by the rolling of the ship; she burned
to do it all as she knew it, no matter how the sea behaved, and in
another moment she struck into it again.  This time the sea behaved
perfectly, and the dance ended with just the swoop and swirl she had
meant it to have at first.  The spectators went generously wild over her;
they cheered and clapped her, and crowded upon her to tell how lovely it
was; but she escaped from them, and ran back to the place where she had
left Mrs. Milray.  She was not there, and Clementina's cap full of alms
lay abandoned on the chair.  Lord Lioncourt said he would take charge of
the money, if she would lend him her cap to carry it in to the purser,
and she made her way into the saloon.  In a distant corner she saw Mrs.
Milray with Mr. Ewins.

She advanced in a vague dismay toward them, and as she came near Mrs.
Milray said to Mr. Ewins, "I don't like this place.  Let's go over
yonder."  She rose and rushed him to the other end of the saloon.

Lord Lioncourt came in looking about.  "Ah, have you found her?"  he
asked, gayly.  "There were twenty pounds in your cap, and two hundred
dollars."

"Yes," said Clementina, "she's over the'a."  She pointed, and then shrank
and slipped away.




XVIII.

At breakfast Mrs. Milray would not meet Clementina's eye; she talked to
the people across the table in a loud, lively voice, and then suddenly
rose, and swept past her out of the saloon.

The girl did not see her again till Mrs. Milray came up on the promenade
at the hour when people who have eaten too much breakfast begin to spoil
their appetite for luncheon with the tea and bouillon of the deck-
stewards.  She looked fiercely about, and saw Clementina seated in her
usual place, but with Lord Lioncourt in her own chair next her husband,
and Ewins on foot before her.  They were both talking to Clementina, whom
Lord Lioncourt was accusing of being in low spirits unworthy of her last
night's triumphs.  He jumped up, and offered his place, "I've got your
chair, Mrs. Milray."

"Oh, no," she said, coldly, "I was just coming to look after Mr. Milray.
But I see he's in good hands."

She turned away, as if to make the round of the deck, and Ewins hurried
after her.  He came back directly, and said that Mrs. Milray had gone
into the library to write letters.  He stayed, uneasily, trying to talk,
but with the air of a man who has been snubbed, and has not got back his
composure.

Lord Lioncourt talked on until he had used up the incidents of the night
before, and the probabilities of their getting into Queenstown before
morning; then he and Mr. Ewins went to the smoking-room together, and
Clementina was left alone with Milray.

"Clementina," he said, gently, "I don't see everything; but isn't there
some trouble between you and Mrs. Milray?"

"Why, I don't know what it can be," answered the girl, with trembling
lips.  "I've been trying to find out, and I can't undastand it."

"Ah, those things are often very obscure," said Milray, with a patient
smile.

Clementina wanted to ask him if Mrs. Milray had said anything to him
about her, but she could not, and he did not speak again till he heard
her stir in rising from her chair.  Then he said, "I haven't forgotten
that letter to my sister, Clementina.  I will give it to you before we
leave the steamer.  Are you going to stay in Liverpool, over night, or
shall you go up to London at once?"

"I don't know.  It will depend upon how Mrs. Landa feels."

"Well, we shall see each other again.  Don't be worried."  He looked up
at her with a smile, and he could not see how forlornly she returned it.

As the day passed, Mrs. Milray's angry eyes seemed to search her out for
scorn whenever Clementina found herself the centre of her last night's
celebrity.  Many people came up and spoke to her, at first with a certain
expectation of knowingness in her, which her simplicity baffled.  Then
they either dropped her, and went away, or stayed and tried to make
friends with her because of this; an elderly English clergyman and his
wife were at first compassionately anxious about her, and then
affectionately attentive to her in her obvious isolation.  Clementina's
simple-hearted response to their advances appeared to win while it
puzzled them; and they seemed trying to divine her in the strange double
character she wore to their more single civilization.  The theatrical
people thought none the worse of her for her simple-hearted ness,
apparently; they were both very sweet to her, and wanted her to promise
to come and see them in their little box in St. John's Wood.  Once,
indeed, Clementina thought she saw relenting in Mrs. Milray's glance, but
it hardened again as Lord Lioncourt and Mr. Ewins came up to her, and
began to talk with her.  She could not go to her chair beside Milray, for
his wife was now keeping guard of him on the other side with unexampled
devotion.  Lord Lioncourt asked her to walk with him and she consented.
She thought that Mr. Ewins would go and sit by Mrs. Milray, of course,
but when she came round in her tour of the ship, Mrs. Milray was sitting
alone beside her husband.

After dinner she went to the library and got a book, but she could not
read there; every chair was taken by people writing letters to send back
from Queenstown in the morning; and she strayed into the ladies' sitting
room, where no ladies seemed ever to sit, and lost herself in a miserable
muse over her open page.

Some one looked in at the door, and then advanced within and came
straight to Clementina; she knew without looking up that it was Mrs.
Milray.  "I have been hunting for you, Miss Claxon," she said, in a voice
frostily fierce, and with a bearing furiously formal.  "I have a letter
to Miss Milray that my busband wished me to write for you, and give you
with his compliments."

"Thank you," said Clementina.  She rose mechanically to her feet, and at
the same time Mrs. Milray sat down.

"You will find Miss Milray," she continued, with the same glacial
hauteur, "a very agreeable and cultivated lady."

Clementina said nothing; and Mrs. Milray added,

"And I hope she may have the happiness of being more useful to you than I
have."

"What do you mean, Mrs. Milray?  "Clementina asked with unexpected spirit
and courage.

"I mean simply this, that I have not succeeded in putting you on your
guard against your love of admiration--especially the admiration of
gentlemen.  A young girl can't be too careful how she accepts the
attentions of gentlemen, and if she seems to invite them--"

"Mrs. Milray cried Clementina.  "How can you say such a thing to me?"

"How?  I shall have to be plain with you, I see.  Perhaps I have not
considered that, after all, you know nothing about life and are not to
blame for things that a person born and bred in the world would
understand from childhood.  If you don't know already, I can tell you
that the way you have behaved with Lord Lioncourt during the last two or
three days, and the way you showed your pleasure the other night in his
ridiculous flatteries of you, was enough to make you the talk of the
whole steamer.  I advise you for your own sake to take my warning in
time.  You are very young, and inexperienced and ignorant, but that will
not save you in the eyes of the world if you keep on."  Mrs. Milray rose.
"And now I will leave you to think of what I have said.  Here is the
letter for Miss Milray--"

Clementina shook her head.  "I don't want it."

"You don't want it?  But I have written it at Mr. Milray's request, and I
shall certainly leave it with you!"

"If you do," said Clementina, "I shall not take it!"

"And what shall I say to Mr. Milray?"

"What you have just said to me."

"What have I said to you?"

"That I'm a bold girl, and that I've tried to make men admi'a me."

Mrs. Milray stopped as if suddenly daunted by a fact that had not
occurred to her before.  "Did I say that?"

"The same as that."

"I didn't mean that--I--merely meant to put you on your guard.  It may be
because you are so innocent yourself, that you can't imagine what others
think, and--I did it out of my regard for you."

Clementina did not answer.

Mrs. Milray went on, "That was why I was so provoked with you.  I think
that for a young girl to stand up and dance alone before a whole steamer
full of strangers"--Clementina looked at her without speaking, and Mrs.
Milray hastened to say, "To be sure I advised you to do it, but I
certainly was surprised that you should give an encore.  But no matter,
now.  This letter--"

"I can't take it, Mrs. Milray," said Clementina, with a swelling heart.

"Now, listen!"  urged Mrs. Milray.  "You think I'm just saying it
because, if you don't take it I shall have to tell Mr. Milray I was so
hateful to you, you couldn't.  Well, I should hate to tell him that; but
that isn't the reason.  There!"  She tore the letter in pieces, and threw
it on the floor.  Clementina did not make any sign of seeing this, and
Mrs. Milray dropped upon her chair again.  "Oh, how hard you are!  Can't
you say something to me?"

Clementina did not lift her eyes.  "I don't feel like saying anything
just now."

Mrs. Milray was silent a moment.  Then she sighed.  "Well, you may hate
me, but I shall always be your friend.  What hotel are you going to in
Liverpool?

"I don't know," said Clementina.

"You had better come to the one where we go.  I'm afraid Mrs. Lander
won't know how to manage very well, and we've been in Liverpool so often.
May I speak to her about it?"

"If you want to," Clementina coldly assented.

"I see!"  said Mrs. Milray.  "You don't want to be under the same roof
with me.  Well, you needn't!  But I'll tell you a good hotel: the one
that the trains start out of; and I'll send you that letter for Miss
Milray."  Clemeutina was silent.  "Well, I'll send it, anyway."

Mrs. Milray went away in sudden tears, but the girl remained dry-eyed.




XIX.

Mrs. Lander realized when the ship came to anchor in the stream at
Liverpool that she had not been seasick a moment during the voyage.  In
the brisk cold of the winter morning, as they came ashore in the tug, she
fancied a property of health in the European atmosphere, which she was
sure would bring her right up, if she stayed long enough; and a regret
that she had never tried it with Mr. Lander mingled with her new hopes
for herself.

But Clementina looked with home-sick eyes at the strangeness of the alien
scene: the pale, low heaven which seemed not to be clouded and yet was so
dim; the flat shores with the little railroad trains running in and out
over them; the grimy bulks of the city, and the shipping in the river,
sparse and sombre after the gay forest of sails and stacks at New York.

She did not see the Milrays after she left the tug, in the rapid
dispersal of the steamer's passengers.  They both took leave of her at
the dock, and Mrs. Milray whispered with penitence in her voice and eyes,
"I will write," but the girl did not answer.

Before Mrs. Lander's trunks and her own were passed, she saw Lord
Lioncourt going away with his heavily laden man at his heels.  Mr. Ewins
came up to see if he could help her through the customs, but she believed
that be had come at Mrs. Milray's bidding, and she thanked him so
prohibitively that he could not insist.  The English clergyman who had
spoken to her the morning after the charity entertainment left his wife
with Mrs. Lander, and came to her help, and then Mr. Ewins went his way.

The clergyman, who appeared to feel the friendlessness of the young girl
and the old woman a charge laid upon him, bestowed a sort of fatherly
protection upon them both.  He advised them to stop at a hotel for a few
hours and take the later train for London that he and his wife were going
up by; they drove to the hotel together, where Mrs. Lander could not be
kept from paying the omnibus, and made them have luncheon with her.  She
allowed the clergyman to get her tickets, and she could not believe that
be had taken second class tickets for himself and his wife.  She said
that she had never heard of anyone travelling second class before, and
she assured him that they never did it in America.  She begged him to let
her pay the difference, and bring his wife into her compartment, which
the guard had reserved for her.  She urged that the money was nothing to
her, compared with the comfort of being with some one you knew; and the
clergyman had to promise that as they should be neighbors, he would look
in upon her, whenever the train stopped long enough.

Before it began to move, Clementina thought she saw Lord Lioncourt
hurrying past their carriage-window.  At Rugby the clergyman appeared,
but almost before he could speak, Lord Lioncourt's little red face showed
at his elbow.  He asked Clementina to present him to Mrs. Lander, who
pressed him to get into her compartment; the clergyman vanished, and Lord
Lioncourt yielded.

Mrs. Lander found him able to tell her the best way to get to Florence,
whose situation he seemed to know perfectly; he confessed that he had
been there rather often.  He made out a little itinerary for going
straight through by sleeping-car as soon as you crossed the Channel; she
had said that she always liked a through train when she could get it, and
the less stops the better.  She bade Clementina take charge of the plan
and not lose it; without it she did not see what they could do.  She
conceived of him as a friend of Clementina's, and she lost in the strange
environment the shyness she had with most people.  She told him how Mr.
Lander had made his money, and from what beginnings he rose to be
ignorant of what he really was worth when he died.  She dwelt upon the
diseases they had suffered, and at the thought of his death, so
unnecessary in view of the good that the air was already doing her in
Europe, she shed tears.

Lord Lioncourt was very polite, but there was no resumption of the ship's
comradery in his manner.  Clementina could not know how quickly this
always drops from people who have been fellow-passengers; and she
wondered if he were guarding himself from her because she had danced at
the charity entertainment.  The poison which Mrs. Milray had instilled
worked in her thoughts while she could not help seeing how patient he was
with all Mrs. Lander's questions; he answered them with a simplicity of
his own, or laughed and put them by, when they were quite impossible.
Many of them related to the comparative merits of English and American
railroads, and what he thought himself of these.  Mrs. Lander noted the
difference of the English stations; but she did not see much in the
landscape to examine him upon.  She required him to tell her why the
rooks they saw were not crows, and she was not satisfied that he should
say the country seat she pointed out was a castle when it was plainly
deficient in battlements.  She based upon his immovable confidence in
respect to it an inquiry into the structure of English society, and she
made him tell her what a lord was, and a commoner, and how the royal
family differed from both.  She asked him how he came to be a lord, and
when he said that it was a peerage of George the Third's creation, she
remembered that George III.  was the one we took up arms against.  She
found that Lord Lioncourt knew of our revolution generally, but was
ignorant of such particulars as the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the
Surrender of Cornwallis, as well as the throwing of the Tea into Boston
Harbor; he was much struck by this incident, and said, And quite right,
he was sure.

He told Clementina that her friends the Milrays had taken the steamer for
London in the morning.  He believed they were going to Egypt for the
winter.  Cairo, he said, was great fun, and he advised Mrs. Lander, if
she found Florence a bit dull, to push on there.  She asked if it was an
easy place to get to, and he assured her that it was very easy from
Italy.

Mrs. Lander was again at home in her world of railroads and hotels; but
she confessed, after he left them at the next station, that she should
have felt more at home if he had been going on to London with them.  She
philosophized him to the disadvantage of her own countrymen as much less
offish than a great many New York and Boston peuple.  He had given her a
good opinion of the whole English nation; and the clergyman, who had been
so nice to them at Liverpool, confirmed her friendly impressions of
England by getting her a small omnibus at the station in London before he
got a cab for himself and his wife, and drove away to complete his own
journey on another road.  She celebrated the omnibus as if it were an
effect of his goodness in her behalf.  She admired its capacity for
receiving all their trunks, and saving the trouble and delay of the
express, which always vexed her so much in New York, and which had nearly
failed in getting her baggage to the steamer in time.

The omnibus remained her chief association with London, for she decided
to take the first through train for Italy in the morning.  She wished to
be settled, by which she meant placed in a Florentine hotel for the
winter.  That lord, as she now began and always continued to call
Lioncourt, had first given her the name of the best little hotel in
Florence, but as it had neither elevator nor furnace heat in it, he
agreed in the end that it would not do for her, and mentioned the most
modern and expensive house on the Lungarno.  He told her he did not think
she need telegraph for rooms; but she took this precaution before leaving
London, and was able to secure them at a price which seemed to her quite
as much as she would have had to pay for the same rooms at a first class
hotel on the Back Bay.

The manager had reserved for her one of the best suites, which had just
been vacated by a Russian princess.  "I guess you better cable to your
folks where you ah', Clementina," she said.  "Because if you're
satisfied, I am, and I presume we sha'n't want to change as long as we
stay in Florence.  My, but it's sightly!  "She joined Clementina a
moment at the windows looking upon the Arno, and the hills beyond it.
"I guess you'll spend most of your time settin' at this winder, and I
sha'n't blame you."

They had arrived late in the dull, soft winter afternoon.  The landlord
led the way himself to their apartment, and asked if they would have
fire; a facchino came in and kindled roaring blazes on the hearths; at
the same time a servant lighted all the candles on the tables and
mantels.  They both gracefully accepted the fees that Mrs. Lander made
Clementina give them; the facchino kissed the girl's hand.  "My!" said
Mrs. Lander, "I guess you never had  your hand kissed before."

The hotel developed advantages which, if not those she was used to, were
still advantages.  The halls were warmed by a furnace, and she came to
like the little logs burning in her rooms.  In the care of her own fire,
she went back to the simple time of her life in the country, and chose to
kindle it herself when it died out, with the fagots of broom that blazed
up so briskly.

In the first days of her stay she made inquiry for the best American
doctor in Florence; and she found him so intelligent that she at once put
her liver in his charge, with a history of her diseases and symptoms of
every kind.  She told him that she was sure that he could have cured Mr.
Lander, if he had only had him in time; she exacted a new prescription
from him for herself, and made him order some quinine pills for
Clementina against the event of her feeling debilitated by the air of
Florence.




XX.

In these first days a letter came to Clementina from Mrs. Lander's
banker, enclosing the introduction which Mrs. Milray had promised to her
sister-in-law.  It was from Mr. Milray, as before, and it was in Mrs.
Milray's handwriting; but no message from her came with it.  To
Clementina it explained itself, but she had to explain it to Mrs. Lander.
She had to tell her of Mrs. Milray's behavior after the entertainment on
the steamer, and Mrs. Lander said that Clementina had done just exactly
right; and they both decided, against some impulses of curiosity in
Clementina's heart, that she should not make use of the introduction.

The 'Hotel des Financieres' was mainly frequented by rich Americans full
of ready money, and by rich Russians of large credit.  Better Americans
and worse, went, like the English, to smaller and cheaper hotels; and
Clementina's acquaintance was confined to mothers as shy and
ungrammatical as Mrs. Lander herself, and daughters blankly indifferent
to her.  Mrs. Lander drove out every day when it did not rain, and she
took Clementina with her, because the doctor said it would do them both
good; but otherwise the girl remained pent in their apartment.  The
doctor found her a teacher, and she kept on with her French, and began to
take lessons in Italian; she spoke with no one but her teacher, except
when the doctor came.  At the table d'hote she heard talk of the things
that people seemed to come to Florence for: pictures, statues, palaces,
famous places; and it made her ashamed of not knowing about them.  But
she could not go to see these things alone, and Mrs. Lander, in the
content she felt with all her circumstances, seemed not to suppose that
Clementina could care for anything but the comfort of the hotel and the
doctor's visits.  When the girl began to get letters from home in answer
to the first she had written back, boasting how beautiful Florence was,
they assumed that she was very gay, and demanded full accounts of her
pleasures.  Her brother Jim gave something of the village news, but he
said he supposed that she would not care for that, and she would probably
be too proud to speak to them when she came home.  The Richlings had
called in to share the family satisfaction in Clementina's first
experiences, and Mrs. Richling wrote her very sweetly of their happiness
in them.  She charged her from the rector not to forget any chance of
self-improvement in the allurements of society, but to make the most of
her rare opportunities.  She said that they had got a guide-book to
Florence, with a plan of the city, and were following her in the
expeditions they decided she must be making every day; they were reading
up the Florentine history in Sismondi's Italian Republics, and she bade
Clementina be sure and see all the scenes of Savonarola's martyrdom, so
that they could talk them over together when she returned.

Clexnentina wondered what Mrs. Richling would think if she told her that
all she knew of Florence was what she overheard in the talk of the girls
in the hotel, who spoke before her of their dances and afternoon teas,
and evenings at the opera, and drives in the Cascine, and parties to
Fiesole, as if she were not by.

The days and weeks passed, until Carnival was half gone, and Mrs. Lander
noticed one day that Clementina appeared dull.  "You don't seem to get
much acquainted?"  she suggested.

"Oh, the'e's plenty of time," said Clementina.

"I wish the'e was somebody you could go round with, and see the place.
Shouldn't you like to see the place?  "Mrs. Lander pursued.

"There's no hurry about it, Mrs. Lander.  It will stay as long as we do."

Mrs. Lander was thoughtfully silent.  Then she said, "I declare, I've got
half a mind to make you send that letta to Miss Milray, after all.  What
difference if Mrs. Milray did act so ugly to you?  He never did, and
she's his sista."

"Oh, I don't want to send it, Mrs. Landa; you mustn't ask me to.  I shall
get along," said Clementina.  The recognition of her forlornness deepened
it, but she was cheerfuller, for no reason, the next morning; and that
afternoon, the doctor unexpectedly came upon a call which he made haste
to say was not professional.

"I've just come from another patient of mine, and I promised to ask if
you had not crossed on the same ship with a brother of hers,--Mr.
Milray."

Celementina and Mrs. Lander looked guiltily at each other.  "I guess we
did," Mrs. Lander owned at last, with a reluctant sigh.

"Then, she says you have a letter for her."

The doctor spoke to both, but his looks confessed that he was not
ignorant of the fact when Mrs. Lander admitted, "Well Clementina, he'e,
has."

"She wants to know why you haven't delivered it," the doctor blurted out.

Mrs. Lander looked at Clementina.  "I guess she ha'n't quite got round to
it yet, have you, Clementina?"

The doctor put in: "Well, Miss Milray is rather a dangerous person to
keep waiting.  If you don't deliver it pretty soon, I shouldn't be
surprised if she came to get it."  Dr. Welwright was a young man in the
early thirties, with a laugh that a great many ladies said had done more
than any one thing for them, and he now prescribed it for Clementina.
But it did not seem to help her in the trouble her face betrayed.

Mrs. Lander took the word, "Well, I wouldn't say it to everybody.  But
you're our doctor, and I guess you won't mind it.  We don't like the way
Mrs. Milray acted to Clementina, in the ship, and we don't want to be
beholden to any of her folks.  I don't know as Clementina wants me to
tell you just what it was, and I won't; but that's the long and sho't of
it."

"I'm sorry," the doctor said.  "I've never met Mrs. Milray, but Miss
Milray has such a pleasant house, and likes to get young people about
her.  There are a good many young people in your hotel, though, and I
suppose you all have a very good time here together."  He ended by
speaking to Clementina, and now he said he had done his errand, and must
be going.

When he was gone, Mrs. Lander faltered, "I don't know but what we made a
mistake, Clementina."

"It's too late to worry about it now," said the girl.

"We ha'n't bound to stay in Florence," said Mrs. Lander, thoughtfully.
"I only took the rooms by the week, and we can go, any time, Clementina,
if you are uncomf'table bein' here on Miss Milray's account.  We could go
to Rome; they say Rome's a nice place; or to Egypt."

"Mrs. Milray's in Egypt," Clementina suggested.

"That's true," Mrs. Lander admitted, with a sigh.  After a while she went
on, "I don't know as we've got any right to keep the letter.  It belongs
to her, don't it?"

"I guess it belongs to me, as much as it does to her," said Clementina.
"If it's to her, it's for me.  I am not going to send it, Mrs. Landa."

They were still in this conclusion when early in the following afternoon
Miss Milray's cards were brought up for Mrs. Lander and Miss Claxon.

"Well, I decla'e!"  cried Mrs. Lander.  "That docta: must have gone
straight and told her what we said."

"He had no right to," said Clementina, but neither of them was
displeased, and after it was over, Mrs. Lander said that any one would
have thought the call was for her, instead of Clementina, from the way
Miss Milray kept talking to her.  She formed a high opinion of her; and
Miss Milray put Clementina in mind of Mr. Milray; she had the same hair
of chiseled silver, and the same smile; she moved like him, and talked
like him;  but with a greater liveliness.  She asked fondly after him,
and made Clementina tell her if he seemed quite well, and in good
spirits; she was civilly interested in Mrs. Milray's health.  At the
embarrassment which showed itself in the girl, she laughed and said,
"Don't imagine I don't know all about it, Miss Claxon!  My sister-in-law
has owned up very handsomely; she isn't half bad, as the English say, and
I think she likes owning up if she can do it safely."

"And you don't think," asked Mrs. Lander, "that Clementina done wrong to
dance that way?"

Clementina blushed, and Miss Milray laughed again.  "If you'll let Miss
Claxon come to a little party I'm giving she may do her dance at my
house; but she sha'n't be obliged to do it, or anything she doesn't like.
Don't say she hasn't a gown ready, or something of that kind!  You don't
know the resources of Florence, and how the dress makers here doat upon
doing impossible things in no time at all, and being ready before they
promise.  If you'll put Miss Claxon in my hands, I'll see that she's
dressed for my dance.  I live out on one of the hills over there, that
you see from your windows"--she nodded toward them--"in a beautiful
villa, too cold for winter, and too hot for summer, but I think Miss
Claxon can endure its discomfort for a day, if you can spare her, and she
will consent to leave you to the tender mercies of your maid, and "Miss
Milray paused at the kind of unresponsive blank to which she found
herself talking, and put up her lorgnette, to glance from Mrs. Lander to
Clementina.  The girl said, with embarrassment, "I don't think I ought to
leave Mrs. Landa, just now.  She isn't very well, and I shouldn't like to
leave her alone."

"But we're just as much obliged to you as if she could come," Mrs. Lander
interrupted; "and later on, maybe she can.  You see, we han't got any
maid, yit.  Well, we did have one at Woodlake, but she made us do so many
things for her, that we thought we should like to do a few things for
ouaselves, awhile."

If Miss Milray perhaps did not conceive the situation, exactly, she said,
Oh, they were quite right in that; but she might count upon Miss Claxon
for her dance, might not she; and might not she do anything in her power
for them?  She rose to go, but Mrs. Lander took her at her word, so far
as to say, Why, yes, if she could tell Clementina the best place to get a
dress she guessed the child would be glad enough to come to the dance.

"Tell her!" Miss Milray cried.  "I'll take her!  Put on your hat, my
dear," she said to Clementina, "and come with me now.  My carriage is at
your door."

Clementina looked at Mrs. Lander, who said, "Go, of cou'se, child.  I
wish I could go, too."

"Do come, too," Miss Milray entreated.

"No, no," said Mrs. Lander, flattered.  "I a'n't feeling very well, to-
day.  I guess I'm better off at home.  But don't you hurry back on my
account, Clementina."  While the girl was gone to put on her hat she
talked on about her.  "She's the best gul in the wo'ld, and she won't be
one of the poorest; and I shall feel that I'm doin' just what Mr. Landa
would have wanted I should.  He picked her out himself, moa than three
yea's ago, when we was drivin' past her house at Middlemount, and it was
to humor him afta he was gone, moa than anything else, that I took her.
Well, she wa'n't so very easy to git, either, I can tell you."  She cut
short her history of the affair to say when Clementina came back, "I want
you should do the odderin' yourself, Miss Milray, and not let her scrimp
with the money.  She wants to git some visitin' cahds; and if you miss
anything about her that she'd ought to have, or that any otha yong lady's
got, won't you just git it for her?"

As soon as she imagined the case, Miss Milray set herself to overcome
Mrs. Lander's reluctance from a maid.  She prevailed with her to try the
Italian woman whom she sent her, and in a day the genial Maddalena had
effaced the whole tradition of the bleak Ellida.  It was not essential to
the understanding which instantly established itself between them that
they should have any language in common.  They babbled at each other,
Mrs. Lander in her Bostonized Yankee, and Maddalena in her gutteral
Florentine, and Mrs. Lander was flattered to find how well she knew
Italian.

Miss Milray had begun being nice to Clementina in fealty to her brother,
who so seldom made any proof of her devotion to him, and to whom she bad
remained passionately true through his shady past.  She was eager to
humor his whim for the little country girl who had taken his fancy,
because it was his whim, and not because she had any hopes that
Clementina would justify it.  She had made Dr. Welwright tell her all he
knew about her, and his report of her grace and beauty had piqued her
curiosity; his account of the forlorn dullness of her life with Mrs.
Lander in their hotel had touched her heart.  But she was still skeptical
when she went to get her letter of introduction; when she brought
Clementina home from the dressmaker's she asked if she might kiss her,
and said she was already in love with her.

Her love might have made her wish to do everything for her that she now
began to do, but it simplified the situation to account for her to the
world as the ward of Mrs. Lander, who was as rich as she was vulgar, and
it was with Clementina in this character that Miss Milray began to make
the round of afternoon teas, and inspired invitations for her at pleasant
houses, by giving a young ladies' lunch for her at her own.  Before the
night of her little dance, she had lost any misgiving she had felt at
first, in the delight of seeing Clementina take the world as if she had
thought it would always behave as amiably as that, and as if she had
forgotten her unkind experiences to the contrary.  She knew from Mrs.
Lander how the girls at their hotel had left her out, but Miss Milray
could not see that Clementina met them with rancor, when her authority
brought them together.  If the child  was humiliated by her past in the
gross lonely luxury of Mrs. Lander's life or the unconscious poverty of
her own home, she did not show it in the presence of the world that now
opened its arms to her.  She remained so tranquil in the midst of all the
novel differences, that it made her friend feel rather vulgar in her
anxieties for her, and it was not always enough to find that she had not
gone wrong simply because she had hold still, and had the gift of waiting
for things to happen.  Sometimes when Miss Milray had almost decided that
her passivity was the calm of a savage, she betrayed so sweet and
grateful a sense of all that was done for her, that her benefactress
decided that, she was not rustic, but was sylvan in a way of her own,
and not so much ignorant as innocent.  She discovered that she was not
ignorant even of books, but with no literary effect from them she had
transmitted her reading into the substance of her native gentleness, and
had both ideas and convictions.  When Clementina most affected her as an
untried wilderness in the conventional things she most felt her equality
to any social fortune that might befall her, and then she would have
liked to see her married to a title, and taking the glory of this world
with an unconsciousness that experience would never wholly penetrate.
But then again she felt that this would be somehow a profanation, and she
wanted to pack her up and get her back to Middlemount before anything of
the kind should happen.  She gave Milray these impressions of Clementina
in the letter she wrote to thank him for her, and to scold him for
sending the girl to her.  She accused him of wishing to get off on her a
riddle which he could not read himself; but she owned that the charm of
Clementina's mystery was worth a thousand times the fatigue of trying to
guess her out and that she was more and more infatuated with her every
day.

In the meantime, Miss Milray's little dance grew upon her till it became
a very large one that filled her villa to overflowing when the time came
for it.  She lived on one of the fine avenues of the Oltrarno region,
laid out in the brief period of prosperity which Florence enjoyed as the
capital of Italy.  The villa was built at that time, and it was much
newer than the house on Seventeenth street in New York, where she spent
the girlhood that had since prolonged itself beyond middle life with her.
She had first lived abroad in the Paris of the Second Empire, and she had
been one winter in Rome, but she had settled definitely in Florence
before London became an American colony, so that her friends were chiefly
Americans, though she had a wide international acquaintance.  Perhaps her
habit of taking her brother's part, when he was a black sheep, inclined
her to mercy with people who had not been so blameless in their morals as
they were in their minds and manners.  She exacted that they should be
interesting and agreeable, and not too threadbare; but if they had
something that decently buttoned over the frayed places, she did not
frown upon their poverty.  Bohemians of all kinds liked her; Philistines
liked her too; and in such a place as Florence, where the Philistines
themselves are a little Bohemian, she might be said to be very popular.
You met persons whom you did not quite wish to meet at her house, but if
these did not meet you there, it was your loss.

On the night of the dance the line of private carriages, remises and
cabs, lined the Viale Ariosto for a mile up and down before her gates,
where young artists of both sexes arrived on foot.  By this time her
passion for Clementina was at its height.  She had Maddalena bring her
out early in the evening, and made her dress under her own eye and her
French maid's, while Maddalena went back to comfort Mrs. Lander.

"I hated to leave her," said Clementina.  "I don't believe she's very
well."

"Isn't she always ill?" demanded Miss Milray.  She embraced the girl
again, as if once were not enough.  "Clementina, if Mrs. Lander won't
give you to me, I'm going to steal you.  Do you know what I want you to
do tonight?  I want you to stand up with me, and receive, till the
dancing begins, as if it were your coming-out.  I mean to introduce
everybody to you.  You'll be easily the prettiest girl, there, and you'll
have the nicest gown, and I don't mean that any of your charms shall be
thrown away.  You won't be frightened?"

"No, I don't believe I shall," said Clementina.  "You can tell me what to
do."

The dress she wore was of pale green, like the light seen in thin woods;
out of it shone her white shoulders, and her young face, as if rising
through the verdurous light.  The artists, to a man and woman, wished to
paint her, and severally told her so, during the evening which lasted
till morning.  She was not surprised when Lord Lioncourt appeared, toward
midnight, and astonished Miss Milray by claiming acquaintance with
Clementina.  He asked about Mrs. Lander, and whether she had got to
Florence without losing the way; he laughed but he seemed really to care.
He took Clementina out to supper, when the time came; and she would have
topped him by half a head as she leaned on his arm, if she had not
considerately drooped and trailed a little after him.

She could not know what a triumph he was making for her; and it was
merely part of the magic of the time that Mr. Ewins should come in
presently with one of the ladies.  He had arrived in Florence that day,
and had to be brought unasked.  He put on the effect of an old friend
with her; but Clementina's curiosity was chiefly taken with a tall
American, whom she thought very handsome.  His light yellow hair was
brushed smooth across his forehead like a well-behaving boy's; he was
dressed like the other men, but he seemed not quite happy in his evening
coat, and his gloves which he smote together uneasily from time to time.
He appeared to think that somehow the radiant Clementina would know how
he felt; he did not dance, and he professed to have found himself at the
party by a species of accident.  He told her that he was out in Europe
looking after a patent right that he had just taken hold of, and was
having only a middling good time.  He pretended surprise to hear her say
that she was having a first-rate time, and he tried to reason her out of
it.  He confessed that from the moment he came into the room he had made
up his mind to take her to supper, and had never been so disgusted in his
life as when he saw that little lord toddling off with her, and trying to
look as large as life.  He asked her what a lord was like, anyway, and he
made her laugh all the time.

He told her his name, G. W. Hinkle, and asked whether she would be likely
to remember it if they ever met again.

Another man who interested her very much was a young Russian, with
curling hair and neat, small features who spoke better English than she
did, and said he was going to be a writer, but had not yet decided
whether to write in Russian or French; she supposed he had wanted her
advice, but he did not wait for it, or seem to expect it.  He was very
much in earnest, while he fanned her, and his earnestness amused her as
much as the American's irony.  He asked which city of America she came
from, and when she said none, he asked which part of America.  She
answered New England, and he said, "Oh, yes, that is where they have the
conscience."  She did not know what he meant, and he put before her the
ideal of New England girlhood which he had evolved from reading American
novels.  "Are you like that?" he demanded.

She laughed, and said, "Not a bit," and asked him if he had ever met such
an American girl, and he said, frankly, No; the American girls were all
mercenary, and cared for nothing but money, or marrying titles.  He added
that he had a title, but he would not wear it.

Clementina said she did not believe she cared for titles, and then he
said, "But you care for money."  She denied it, but as if she had
confessed it, he went on: "The only American that I have seen with that
conscience was a man.  I will tell you of him, if you wish."

He did not wait for her answer.  "It was in Naples--at Pompeii.  I saw at
the first glance that he was different from other Americans, and I
resolved to know him.  He was there in company with a stupid boy, whose
tutor he was; and he told me that he was studying to be a minister of the
Protestant church.  Next year he will go home to be consecrated.  He
promised to pass through Florence in the spring, and he will keep his
word.  Every act, every word, every thought of his is regulated by
conscience.  It is terrible, but it is beautiful."  All the time, the
Russian was fanning Clementina, with every outward appearance of
flirtation.  "Will you dance again?  No?  I should like to draw such a
character as his in a romance."




XXII.

It was six o'clock in the morning before Miss Milray sent Clementina home
in her carriage.  She would have kept her to breakfast, but Clementina
said she ought to go on Mrs. Lander's account, and she wished to go on
her own.

She thought she would steal to bed without waking her, but she was
stopped by the sound of groans when she entered their apartment; the
light gushed from Mrs. Lander's door.  Maddalena came out, and blessed
the name of her Latin deity (so much more familiar and approachable than
the Anglo-Saxon divinity) that Clementina had come at last, and poured
upon her the story of a night of suffering for Mrs. Lander.  Through her
story came the sound of Mrs. Lander's voice plaintively reproachful,
summoning Clementina to her bedside.  "Oh, how could you go away and
leave me?  I've been in such misery the whole night long, and the docta
didn't do a thing for me.  I'm puffectly wohn out, and I couldn't make my
wants known with that Italian crazy-head.  If it hadn't been for the
portyary comin' in and interpretin', when the docta left, I don't know
what I should have done.  I want you should give him a twenty-leary note
just as quick as you see him; and oh, isn't the docta comin'?"

Clementina set about helping Maddalena put the room, which was in an
impassioned disorder, to rights; and she made Mrs. Lander a cup of her
own tea, which she had brought from S. S. Pierces in passing through
Boston; it was the first thing, the sufferer said, that had saved her
life.  Clementina comforted her, and promised her that the doctor should
be there very soon; and before Mrs. Lander fell away to sleep, she was so
far out of danger as to be able to ask how Clementina had enjoyed
herself, and to be glad that she had such a good time.

The doctor would not wake her when he came; he said that she had been
through a pretty sharp gastric attack, which would not recur, if she ate
less of the most unwholesome things she could get, and went more into the
air, and walked a little.  He did not seem alarmed, and he made
Clementina tell him about the dance, which he had been called from to
Mrs. Lander's bed of pain.  He joked her for not having missed him; in
the midst of their fun, she caught herself in the act of yawning, and the
doctor laughed, and went away.

Maddalena had to call her, just before dinner, when Mrs. Lander had been
awake long enough to have sent for the doctor to explain the sort of gone
feeling which she was now the victim of.  It proved, when he came, to be
hunger, and he prescribed tea and toast and a small bit of steak.  Before
he came she had wished to arrange for going home at once, and dying in
her own country.  But his opinion so far prevailed with her that she
consented not to telegraph for berths.  "I presume," she said, "it'll do,
any time before the icebugs begin to run.  But I d' know, afta this,
Clementina, as I can let you leave me quite as you be'n doin'.  There was
a lot of flowas come for you, this aftanoon, but I made Maddalena put 'em
on the balcony, for I don't want you should get poisoned with 'em in your
sleep; I always head they was dangerous in a person's 'bed room.  I d'
know as they are, eitha."

Maddalena seemed to know that Mrs. Lander was speaking of the flowers.
She got them and gave them to Clementina, who found they were from some
of the men she had danced with.  Mr. Hinkle had sent a vast bunch of
violets, which presently began to give out their sweetness in the warmth
of the room, and the odor brought him before her with his yellow hair,
scrupulously parted at the side, and smoothly brushed, showing his
forehead very high up.  Most of the gentlemen wore their hair parted in
the middle, or falling in a fringe over their brows; the Russian's was
too curly to part, and Lord Lioncourt had none except at the sides.

She laughed, and Mrs. Lander said, "Tell about it, Clementina," and she
began with Mr. Hinkle, and kept coming back to him from the others.  Mrs.
Lander wished most to know how that lord had got down to Florence; and
Clementina said he was coming to see her.

"Well, I hope to goodness he won't come to-day, I a'n't fit to see
anybody."

"Oh, I guess he won't come till to-morrow," said Clementina; she repeated
some of the compliments she had got, and she told of all Miss Milray's
kindness to her, but Mrs. Lander said, "Well, the next time, I'll thank
her not to keep you so late."  She was astonished to hear that Mr. Ewins
was there, and "Any of the nasty things out of the hotel the'e?" she
asked.

"Yes," Clementina said, "the'e we'e, and some of them we'e very nice.
They wanted to know if I wouldn't join them, and have an aftanoon of our
own here in the hotel, so that people could come to us all at once."

She went back to the party, and described the rest of it.  When she came
to the part about the Russian, she told what he had said of American
girls being fond of money, and wanting to marry foreign noblemen.

Mrs. Lander said, "Well, I hope you a'n't a going to get married in a
hurry, anyway, and when you do I hope you'll pick out a nice American."

"Oh, yes," said Clementina.

Mrs. Lander had their dinner brought to their apartment.  She cheered up,
and she was in some danger of eating too much, but with Clementina's help
she denied herself.  Their short evening was one of the gayest;
Clementina declared she was not the least sleepy, but she went to bed at
nine, and slept till nine the next day.

Mrs. Lander, the doctor confessed, the second morning, was more shaken up
by, her little attack than he had expected; but she decided to see the
gentleman who had asked to call on Clementina.  Lord Lioncourt did not
come quite so soon as she was afraid he might, and when he came he talked
mostly to Clementina.  He did not get to Mrs. Lander until just before he
was going.  She hospitably asked him what his hurry was, and then he said
that he was off for Rome, that evening at seven.  He was nice about
hoping she was comfortable in the hotel, and he sympathized with her in
her wish that there was a set-bowl in her room; she told him that she
always tried to have one, and he agreed that it must be very convenient
where any one was, as she said, sick so much.

Mr. Hinkle came a day later; and then it appeared that he had a mother
whose complaints almost exactly matched Mrs. Lander's.  He had her
photograph with him, and showed it; he said if you had no wife to carry
round a photograph of, you had better carry your mother's; and Mrs.
Lander praised him for being a good son.  A good son, she added, always
made a good husband; and he said that was just what he told the young
ladies himself, but it did not seem to make much impression on them.
He kept Clementina laughing; and he pretended that he was going to bring
a diagram of his patent right for her to see, because she would be
interested in a gleaner like that; and he said he wished her father could
see it, for it would be sure to interest the kind of man Mrs. Lander
described him to be.  "I'll be along up there just about the time you get
home, Miss Clementina.  Then did you say it would be?"

"I don't know; pretty ea'ly in the spring, I guess."

She looked at Mrs. Lander, who said, "Well, it depends upon how I git up
my health.  I couldn't bea' the voyage now."

Mr. Hinkle said, "No, best look out for your health, if it takes all
summer.  I shouldn't want you to hurry on my account.  Your time is my
time.  All I want is for Miss Clementina, here, to personally conduct me
to her father.  If I could get him to take hold of my gleaner in New
England, we could make the blueberry crop worth twice what it is."

Mrs. Lander perceived that he was joking; and she asked what he wanted to
run away for when the young Russian's card came up.  He said, "Oh, give
every man a chance," and he promised that he would look in every few
days, and see how she was getting along.  He opened the door after he had
gone out, and put his head in to say in confidence to Mrs. Lander, but so
loud that Clementina could hear, "I suppose she's told you who the belle
of the ball was, the other night?  Went out to supper with a lord!"
He seemed to think a lord was such a good joke that if you mentioned one
you had to laugh.

The Russian's card bore the name Baron Belsky, with the baron crossed out
in pencil, and he began to attack in Mrs. Lander the demerits of the
American character, as he had divined them.  He instructed her that her
countrymen existed chiefly to make money; that they were more shopkeepers
than the English and worse snobs; that their women were trivial and their
men sordid; that their ambition was to unite their families with the
European aristocracies; and their doctrine of liberty and equality was a
shameless hypocrisy.  This followed hard upon her asking, as she did very
promptly, why he had scratched out the title on his card.  He told her
that he wished to be known solely as an artist, and he had to explain to
her that he was not a painter, but was going to be a novelist.  She taxed
him with never having been in America, but he contended that as all
America came to Europe he had the materials for a study of the national
character at hand, without the trouble of crossing the ocean.  In return
she told him that she had not been the least sea-sick during the voyage,
and that it was no trouble at all; then he abruptly left her and went
over to beg a cup of tea from Clementina, who sat behind the kettle by
the window.

"I have heard this morning from that American I met in Pompeii" he began.
"He is coming northward, and I am going down to meet him in Rome."

Mrs. Lander caught the word, and called across the room, "Why, a'n't that
whe'e that lo'd's gone?"

Clementina said yes, and while the kettle boiled, she asked if Baron
Belsky were going soon.

"Oh, in a week or ten days, perhaps.  I shall know when he arrives.  Then
I shall go.  We write to each other every day."  He drew a letter from
his breast pocket.  "This will give you the idea of his character," and
he read, "If we believe that the hand of God directs all our actions, how
can we set up our theories of conduct against what we feel to be his
inspiration?"

"What do you think of that?"  he demanded.

"I don't believe that God directs our wrong actions," said Clementina.

"How!  Is there anything outside of God?

"I don't know whether there is or not.  But there is something that
tempts me to do wrong, sometimes, and I don't believe that is God."

The Russian seemed struck.  "I will write that to him!"

"No," said Clementina, "I don't want you to say anything about me to
him."

"No, no!"  said Baron Belsky, waving his band reassuringly.  "I would not
mention your name!"

Mr. Ewins came in, and the Russian said he must go.  Mrs. Lander tried to
detain him, too, as she had tried to keep Mr. Hinkle, but be was
inexorable.  Mr. Ewins looked at the door when it had closed upon him.
Mrs. Lander said, "That is one of the gentlemen that Clementina met the
otha night at the dance.  He is a baron, but he scratches it out.  You'd
ought to head him go on about Americans."

"Yes," said Mr. Ewins coldly.  "He's at our hotel, and he airs his
peculiar opinions at the table d'hote pretty freely.  He's a
revolutionist of some kind, I fancy."  He pronounced the epithet with an
abhorrence befitting the citizen of a state born of revolution and a city
that had cradled the revolt.  "He's a Nihilist, I believe."

Mrs. Lander wished to know what that was, and he explained that it was a
Russian who wanted to overthrow the Czar, and set up a government of the
people, when they were not prepared for liberty.

"Then, maybe he isn't a baron at all," said Mrs. Lander.

"Oh, I believe he has a right to his title," Ewins answered.  "It's a
German one."

He said he thought that sort of man was all the more mischievous on
account of his sincerity.  He instanced a Russian whom a friend of his
knew in Berlin, a man of rank like this fellow: he got to brooding upon
the condition of working people and that kind of thing, till he renounced
his title and fortune and went to work in an iron foundry.

Mr. Ewins also spoke critically of Mrs. Milray.  He had met her in Egypt;
but you soon exhausted the interest of that kind of woman.  He professed
a great concern that Clementina should see Florence in just the right
way, and he offered his services in showing her the place.

The Russian came the next day, and almost daily after that, in the
interest with which Clementina's novel difference from other American
girls seemed to inspire him.  His imagination had transmuted her simple
Yankee facts into something appreciable to a Slav of his temperament.
He conceived of her as the daughter of a peasant, whose beauty had
charmed the widow of a rich citizen, and who was to inherit the wealth of
her adoptive mother.  He imagined that the adoption had taken place at a
much earlier period than the time when Clementina's visit to Mrs. Lander
actually began, and that all which could he done had been done to efface
her real character by indulgence and luxury.

His curiosity concerning her childhood, her home, her father and mother,
her brothers and sisters, and his misunderstanding of everything she told
him, amused her.  But she liked him, and she tried to give him some
notion of the things he wished so much to know.  It always ended in a
dissatisfaction, more or less vehement, with the outcome of American
conditions as he conceived them.

"But you," he urged one day, "you who are a daughter of the fields and
woods, why should you forsake that pure life, and come to waste yourself
here?"

"Why, don't you think it's very nice in Florence?" she asked, with eyes
of innocent interest.

"Nice!  Nice!  Do we live for what is nice?  Is it enough that you have
what you Americans call a nice time?"

Clementina reflected.  "I wasn't doing much of anything at home, and I
thought I might as well come with Mrs. Lander, if she wanted me so much."
She thought in a certain way, that he was meddling with what was not his
affair, but she believed that he was sincere in his zeal for the ideal
life he wished her to lead, and there were some things she had heard
about him that made her pity and respect him; his self-exile and his
renunciation of home and country for his principles, whatever they were;
she did not understand exactly.  She would not have liked never being
able to go back to Middlemount, or to be cut off from all her friends as
this poor young Nihilist was, and she said, now, "I didn't expect that it
was going to be anything but a visit, and I always supposed we should go
back in the spring; but now Mrs. Lander is beginning to think she won't
be well enough till fall."

"And why need you stay with her?"

"Because she's not very well," answered Clementina, and she smiled, a
little triumphantly as well as tolerantly.

"She could hire nurses and doctors, all she wants with her money."

"I don't believe it would be the same thing, exactly, and what should I
do if I went back?"

"Do?  Teach!  Uplift the lives about you."

"But you say it is better for people to live simply, and not read and
think so much."

"Then labor in the fields with them."

Clementina laughed outright.  "I guess if anyone saw me wo'king in the
fields they would think I was a disgrace to the neighbahood."

Belsky gave her a stupified glare through his spectacles.  "I cannot
undertand you Americans."

"Well, you must come ova to America, then, Mr. Belsky"--he had asked her
not to call him by his title--"and then you would."

"No, I could not endure the disappointment.  You have the great
opportunity of the earth.  You could be equal and just, and simple and
kind.  There is nothing to hinder you.  But all you try to do is to get
more and more money."

"Now, that isn't faia, Mr. Belsky, and you know it."

Well, then, you joke, joke--always joke.  Like that Mr. Hinkle.  He wants
to make money with his patent of a gleaner, that will take the last grain
of wheat from the poor, and he wants to joke--joke!'

Clementina said, "I won't let you say that about Mr. Hinkle.  You don't
know him, or you wouldn't.  If he jokes, why shouldn't he?"

Belsky made a gesture of rejection.  "Oh, you are an American, too."

She had not grown less American, certainly, since she had left home; even
the little conformities to Europe that she practiced were traits of
Americanism.  Clementina was not becoming sophisticated, but perhaps she
was becoming more conventionalized.  The knowledge of good and evil in
things that had all seemed indifferently good to her once, had crept upon
her, and she distinguished in her actions.  She sinned as little as any
young lady in Florence against the superstitions of society; but though
she would not now have done a skirt-dance before a shipful of people, she
did not afflict herself about her past errors.  She put on the world, but
she wore it simply and in most matters unconsciously.  Some things were
imparted to her without her asking or wishing, and merely in virtue of
her youth and impressionability.  She took them from her environment
without knowing it, and in this way she was coming by an English manner
and an English tone; she was only the less American for being rather
English without trying, when other Americans tried so hard.  In the
region of harsh nasals, Clementina had never spoken through her nose, and
she was now as unaffected in these alien inflections as in the tender
cooings which used to rouse the misgivings of her brother Jim.  When she
was with English people she employed them involuntarily, and when she was
with Americans she measurably lost them, so that after half an hour with
Mr. Hinkle, she had scarcely a trace of them, and with Mrs. Lander she
always spoke with her native accent.




XXIII

One Sunday night, toward the end of Lent, Mrs. Lander had another of her
attacks; she now began to call them so as if she had established an
ownership in them.  It came on from her cumulative over-eating, again,
but the doctor was not so smiling as he had been with regard to the
first.  Clementina had got ready to drive out to Miss Milray's for one of
her Sunday teas, but she put off her things, and prepared to spend the
night at Mrs. Lander's bedside.  "Well, I should think you would want
to," said the sufferer.  "I'm goin' to do everything for you, and you'd
ought to be willing to give up one of youa junketin's for me.  I'm sure I
don't know what you see in 'em, anyway."

"Oh, I am willing, Mrs. Lander; I'm glad I hadn't stahted before it
began."  Clementina busied herself with the pillows under Mrs. Lander's
dishevelled head, and the bedclothes disordered by her throes, while Mrs.
Lander went on.

"I don't see what's the use of so much gaddin', anyway.  I don't see as
anything comes of it, but just to get a passal of wo'thless fellas afta
you that think you'a going to have money.  There's such a thing as two
sides to everything, and if the favas is goin' to be all on one side I
guess there'd betta be a clear undastandin' about it.  I think I got a
right to a little attention, as well as them that ha'n't done anything;
and if I'm goin' to be left alone he'e to die among strangers every time
one of my attacks comes on"--

The doctor interposed, "I don't think you're going to have a very bad
attack, this time, Mrs. Lander."

"Oh, thank you, thank you, docta!  But you can undastand, can't you, how
I shall want to have somebody around that can undastand a little
English?"

The doctor said, "Oh yes.  And Miss Claxon and I can understand a good
deal, between us, and we're going to stay, and see how a little morphine
behaves with you."

Mrs. Lander protested, "Oh, I can't bea' mo'phine, docta."

"Did you ever try it?" he asked, preparing his little instrument to
imbibe the solution.

"No; but Mr. Landa did, and it 'most killed him; it made him sick."

"Well, you're about as sick as you can be, now, Mrs. Lander, and if you
don't die of this pin-prick"--he pushed the needle-point under the skin
of her massive fore-arm--"I guess you'll live through it."

She shrieked, but as the pain began to abate, she gathered courage, and
broke forth joyfully.  "Why, it's beautiful, a'n't it?  I declare it
wo'ks like a cha'm.  Well, I shall always keep mo'phine around after
this, and when, I feel one of these attacks comin' on"--

"Send for a physician, Mrs. Lander," said Dr. Welwright, "and he'll know
what to do."

"I an't so sure of that," returned Mrs. Lander fondly.  "He would if you
was the one.  I declare I believe I could get up and walk right off, I
feel so well."

"That's good.  If you'll take a walk day after tomorrow it will help you
a great deal more."

"Well, I shall always say that you've saved my life, this time, doctor;
and Clementina she's stood by, nobly; I'll say that for her."  She
twisted her big head round on the pillow to get sight of the girl.  "I'm
all right, now; and don't you mind what I said.  It's just my misery
talkin'; I don't know what I did say; I felt so bad.  But I'm fustrate,
now, and I believe I could drop off to sleep, this minute.  Why don't you
go to your tea?  You can, just as well as not!"

"Oh, I don't want to go, now, Mrs. Lander; I'd ratha stay."

"But there a'n't any more danger now, is the'e, docta?" Mrs. Lander
appealed.

"No.  There wasn't any danger before.  But when you're quite yourself,
I want to have a little talk with you, Mrs. Lander, about your diet.  We
must look after that."

"Why, docta, that's what I do do, now.  I eat all the healthy things I
lay my hands on, don't I, Clementina?  And ha'n't you always at me about
it?"

Clementina did not answer, and the doctor laughed.  Well, I should like
to know what more I could do!"

"Perhaps you could do less.  We'll see about that.  Better go to sleep,
now, if you feel like it."

"Well, I will, if you'll make this silly child go to her tea.  I s'pose
she won't because I scolded her.  She's an awful hand to lay anything up
against you.  You know you ah', Clementina!  But I can say this, doctor:
a betta child don't breathe, and I just couldn't live without her.  Come
he'e, Clementina, I want to kiss you once, before I go to sleep, so's to
make su'a you don't bea' malice."  She pulled Clementina down to kiss
her, and babbled on affectionately and optimistically, till her talk
became the voice of her dreams, and then ceased altogether.

"You could go, perfectly well, Miss Claxon," said the doctor.

"No, I don't ca'e to go," answered Clementina.  I'd ratha stay.  If she
should wake"--

"She won't wake, until long after you've got back; I'll answer for that.
I'm going to stay here awhile.  Go! I'll take the responsibility."

Clementina's face brightened.  She wanted very much to go.  She should
meet some pleasant people; she always did, at Miss Milray's.  Then the
light died out of her gay eyes, and she set her lips.  "No, I told her I
shouldn't go."

"I didn't hear you," said Dr. Welwright.  "A doctor has no eyes and ears
except for the symptoms of his patients."

"Oh, I know," said Clementina.  She had liked Dr. Welwright from the
first, and she thought it was very nice of him to stay on, after he left
Mrs. Lander's bedside, and help to make her lonesome evening pass
pleasantly in the parlor.  He jumped up finally, and looked at his watch.
"Bless my soul!"  he said, and he went in for another look at Mrs.
Lander.  When he came back, he said, "She's all right.  But you've made
me break an engagement, Miss Claxon.  I was going to tea at Miss
Milray's.  She promised me I should meet you there."

It seemed a great joke; and Clementina offered to carry his excuses to
Miss Milray, when she went to make her own.

She, went the next morning.  Mrs. Lander insisted that she should go; she
said that she was not going to have Miss Milray thinking that she wanted
to keep her all to herself.

Miss Milray kissed the girl in full forgiveness, but she asked, "Did Dr.
Welwright think it a very bad attack?"

"Has he been he'a?" returned Clementina.

Miss Milray laughed.  "Doctors don't betray their patients--good doctors.
No, he hasn't been here, if that will help you.  I wish it would help me,
but it won't, quite.  I don't like to think of that old woman using you
up, Clementina."

"Oh, she doesn't, Miss Milray.  You mustn't think so.  You don't know how
good she is to me."

"Does she ever remind you of it?"

Clementina's eyes fell.  "She isn't like herself when she doesn't feel
well."

"I knew it!" Miss Milray triumphed.  "I always knew that she was a
dreadful old tabby.  I wish you were safely out of her clutches.  Come
and live with me, my dear, when Mrs. Lander gets tired of you.  But
she'll never get tired of you.  You're just the kind of helpless mouse
that such an old tabby would make her natural prey.  But she sha'n't,
even if another sort of cat has to get you!  I'm sorry you couldn't come
last night.  Your little Russian was here, and went away early and very
bitterly because you didn't come.  He seemed to think there was nobody,
and said so, in everything but words."

"Oh!" said Clementina.  "Don't you think he's very nice, Miss Milray?"

"He's very mystical, or else so very simple that he seems so.  I hope you
can make him out."

Don't you think he's very much in ea'nest?

"Oh, as the grave, or the asylum.  I shouldn't like him to be in earnest
about me, if I were you."

"But that's just what he is!" Clementina told how the Russian had
lectured her, and wished her to go back to the country and work in the
fields.

"Oh, if that's all!" cried Miss Milray. I was afraid it was another kind
of earnestness: the kind I shouldn't like if I were you."

"There's no danger of that, I guess."  Clementina laughed, and Miss
Milray went on:

"Another of your admirers was here; but be was not so inconsolable, or
else be found consolation in staying on and talking about you, or
joking."

"Oh, yes; Mr. Hinkle," cried Clementina with the smile that the thought
of him always brought.  He's lovely."

"Lovely?  Well, I don't know why it isn't the word.  It suits him a great
deal better than some insipid girls that people give it to.  Yes, I could
really fall in love with Mr. Hinkle.  He's the only man I ever saw who
would know how to break the fall!"

It was lunch-time before their talk had begun to run low, and it swelled
again over the meal.  Miss Milray returned to Mrs. Lander, and she made
Clementina confess that she was a little trying sometimes.  But she
insisted that she was always good, and in remorse she went away as soon
as Miss Milray rose from table.

She found Mrs. Lander very much better, and willing to have had her stay
the whole afternoon with Miss Milray.  "I don't want she should have
anything to say against me, to you, Clementina; she'd be glad enough to.
But I guess it's just as well you'a back.  That scratched-out baron has
been he'e twice, and he's waitin' for you in the pahla', now.  I presume
he'll keep comin' till you do see him.  I guess you betta have it ova;
whatever it is."

"I guess you're right, Mrs. Lander."

Clementina found the Russian walking up and down the room, and as soon as
their greeting was over, he asked leave to continue his promenade, but he
stopped abruptly before her when she had sunk upon a sofa.

"I have come to tell you a strange story," he said.

"It is the story of that American friend of mine.  I tell it to you
because I think you can understand, and will know what to advise, what to
do."

He turned upon his heel, and walked the length of the room and back
before he spoke again.

"Since several years," he said, growing a little less idiomatic in his
English as his excitement mounted, "he met a young girl, a child, when he
was still not a man's full age.  It was in the country, in the mountains
of America, and--he loved her.  Both were very poor; he, a student,
earning the means to complete his education in the university.  He had
dedicated himself to his church, and with the temperament of the
Puritans, he forbade himself all thoughts of love.  But he was of a
passionate and impulsive nature, and in a moment of abandon he confessed
his love.  The child was bewildered, frightened; she shrank from his
avowal, and he, filled with remorse for his self-betrayal, bade her let
it be as if it had not been; he bade her think of him no more."

Clementina sat as if powerless to move, staring at Belsky.  He paused in
his walk, and allowed an impressive silence to ensue upon his words.

"Time passed: days, months, years; and he did not see her again.  He
pursued his studies in the university; at their completion, he entered
upon the course of divinity, and he is soon to be a minister of his
church.  In all that time the image of the young girl has remained in his
heart, and has held him true to the only love he has ever known.  He will
know no other while he lives."

Again he stopped in front of Clementina; she looked helplessly up at him,
and he resumed his walk.

"He, with his dreams of renunciation, of abnegation, had thought some day
to return to her and ask her to be his.  He believed her capable of equal
sacrifice with himself, and he hoped to win her not for himself alone,
but for the religion which he put before himself.  He would have invited
her to join her fate with his that they might go together on some mission
to the pagan--in the South Seas, in the heart of Africa, in the jungle of
India.  He had always thought of her as gay but good, unworldly in soul,
and exalted in spirit.  She has remained with him a vision of angelic
loveliness, as he had seen her last in the moonlight, on the banks of a
mountain torrent.  But he believes that he has disgraced himself before
her; that the very scruple for her youth, her ignorance, which made him
entreat her to forget him, must have made her doubt and despise him.  He
has never had the courage to write to her one word since all those years,
but he maintains himself bound to her forever."  He stopped short before
Clementina and seized her hands.  "If you knew such a girl, what would
you have her do?  Should she bid him hope again?  Would you have her say
to him that she, too, had been faithful to their dream, and that she
too"--

"Let me go, Mr. Belsky, let me go, I say!" Clementina wrenched her hands
from him, and ran out of the room.  Belsky hesitated, then he found his
hat, and after a glance at his face in the mirror, left the house.




XXIV.

The tide of travel began to set northward in April.  Many English, many
Americans appeared in Florence from Naples and Rome; many who had
wintered in Florence went on to Venice and the towns of northern Italy,
on their way to Switzerland and France and Germany.

The spring was cold and rainy, and the irresolute Italian railroads were
interrupted by the floods.  A tawny deluge rolled down from the mountains
through the bed of the Arno, and kept the Florentine fire-department on
the alert night and day.  "It is a curious thing about this country,"
said Mr. Hinkle, encountering Baron Belsky on the Ponte Trinita, "that
the only thing they ever have here for a fire company to put out is a
freshet.  If they had a real conflagration once, I reckon they would want
to bring their life-preservers."

The Russian was looking down over the parapet at the boiling river.  He
lifted his head as if he had not heard the American, and stared at him a
moment before he spoke.  It is said that the railway to Rome is broken at
Grossetto."

"Well, I'm not going to Rome," said Hinkle, easily.  "Are you?"

"I was to meet a friend there; but he wrote to me that be was starting to
Florence, and now"--

"He's resting on the way?  Well, he'll get here about as quick as he
would in the ordinary course of travel.  One good thing about Italy is,
you don't want to hurry; if you did, you'd get left."

Belsky stared at him in the stupefaction to which the American humor
commonly reduced him.  "If he gets left on the Grossetto line, he can go
back and come up by Orvieto, no?"

"He can, if he isn't in a hurry," Hinkle assented.

"It's a good way, if you've got time to burn."

Belsky did not attempt to explore the American's meaning.  "Do you know,"
he asked, "whether Mrs. Lander and her young friend are still in
Florence?

"I guess they are."

"It was said they were going to Venice for the summer."

"That's what the doctor advised for the old lady.  But they don't start
for a week or two yet."

"Oh!"

"Are you going to Miss Milray's, Sunday night?  Last of the season, I
believe."

Belsky seemed to recall himself from a distance.

"No--no," he said, and he moved away, forgetful of the ceremonious
salutation which he commonly used at meeting and parting.  Hinkle looked
after him with the impression people have of a difference in the
appearance and behavior of some one whose appearance and behavior do not
particularly concern them.

The day that followed, Belsky haunted the hotel where Gregory was to
arrive with his pupil, and where the pupil's family were waiting for
them.  That night, long after their belated train was due, they came; the
pupil was with his father and mother, and Gregory was alone, when Belsky
asked for him, the fourth or fifth time.

"You are not well," he said, as they shook bands.  You are fevered!"

"I'm tired," said Gregory.  "We've bad a bad time getting through."

"I come inconveniently!  You have not dined, perhaps?"

"Yes, Yes.  I've had dinner.  Sit down.  How have you been yourself?"

"Oh, always well."  Belsky sat down, and the friends stared at each
other.  "I have strange news for you."

"For me?"

"You.  She is here."

"She?"

Yes.  The young girl of whom you told me.  If I had not forbidden myself
by my loyalty to you--if I had not said to myself every moment in her
presence, 'No, it is for your friend alone that she is beautiful and
good!'--But you will have nothing to reproach me in that regard."

"What do you mean?" demanded Gregory.

"I mean that Miss Claxon is in Florence, with her protectress, the rich
Mrs. Lander.  The most admired young lady in society, going everywhere,
and everywhere courted and welcomed; the favorite of the fashionable Miss
Milray.  But why should this surprise you?"

"You said nothing about it in your letters.  You"--

"I was not sure it was she; you never told me her name.  When I had
divined the fact, I was so soon to see you, that I thought best to keep
it till we met."

Gregory tried to speak, but he let Belsky go on.

"If you think that the world has spoiled her, that she will be different
from what she was in her home among your mountains, let me reassure you.
In her you will find the miracle of a woman whom no flattery can turn the
head.  I have watched her in your interest; I have tested her.  She is
what you saw her last."

"Surely," asked Gregory, in an anguish for what he now dreaded, "you
haven't spoken to her of me?"

"Not by name, no.  I could not have that indiscretion"--

"The name is nothing.  Have you said that you knew me--Of course not!
But have you hinted at any knowledge--Because"--

"You will hear!" said Belsky; and he poured out upon Gregory the story of
what he had done.  "She did not deny anything.  She was greatly moved,
but she did not refuse to let me bid you hope"--

"Oh!"  Gregory took his head between his hands.  "You have spoiled my
life!"

"Spoiled" Belsky stopped aghast.

"I told you my story in a moment of despicable weakness--of impulsive
folly.  But how could I dream that you would ever meet her?  How could I
imagine that you would speak to her as you have done?"  He groaned, and
began to creep giddily about the room in his misery.  "Oh, oh, oh!
What shall I do?"

"But I do not understand!" Belsky began.  "If I have committed an error"--

"Oh, an error that never could be put right in all eternity!"

"Then let me go to her--let me tell her"--

"Keep away from her!" shouted Gregory.  "Do you hear?  Never go near her
again!"

"Gregory!"

"Ah, I beg your pardon!  I don't know what I'm doing-saying.  What will
she think--what will she think of me!"  He had ceased to speak to Belsky;
he collapsed into a chair, and hid his face in his arms stretched out on
the table before him.

Belsky watched him in the stupefaction which the artistic nature feels
when life proves sentient under its hand, and not the mere material of
situations and effects.  He could not conceive the full measure of the
disaster he had wrought, the outrage of his own behavior had been lost to
him in his preoccupation with the romantic end to be accomplished.  He
had meant to be the friend, the prophet, to these American lovers, whom
he was reconciling and interpreting to each other; but in some point he
must have misunderstood.  Yet the error was not inexpiable; and in his
expiation he could put the seal to his devotion.  He left the room, where
Gregory made no effort to keep him.

He walked down the street from the hotel to the Arno, and in a few
moments he stood on the bridge, where he had talked with that joker in
the morning, as they looked down together on the boiling river.  He had a
strange wish that the joker might have been with him again, to learn that
there were some things which could not be joked away.

The night was blustering, and the wind that blew the ragged clouds across
the face of the moon, swooped in sudden gusts upon the bridge, and the
deluge rolling under it and hoarsely washing against its piers.  Belsky
leaned over the parapet and looked down into the eddies and currents as
the fitful light revealed them.  He had a fantastic pleasure in studying
them, and choosing the moment when he should leap the parapet and be lost
in them.  The incident could not be used in any novel of his, and no one
else could do such perfect justice to the situation, but perhaps
afterwards, when the facts leading to his death should be known through
the remorse of the lovers whom he had sought to serve, some other artist-
nature could distil their subtlest meaning in a memoir delicate as the
aroma of a faded flower.

He was willing to make this sacrifice, too, and he stepped back a pace
from the parapet when the fitful blast caught his hat from his head, and
whirled it along the bridge.  The whole current of his purpose changed,
and as if it had been impossible to drown himself in his bare head, he
set out in chase of his hat, which rolled and gamboled away, and escaped
from his clutch whenever he stooped for it, till a final whiff of wind
flung it up and tossed it over the bridge into the river, where he
helplessly watched it floating down the flood, till it was carried out of
sight.




XXV.

Gregory did not sleep, and he did not find peace in the prayers he put up
for guidance.  He tried to think of some one with whom he might take
counsel; but he knew no one in Florence except the parents of his pupil,
and they were impossible.  He felt himself abandoned to the impulse which
he dreaded, in going to Clementina, and he went without hope, willing to
suffer whatever penalty she should visit upon him, after he had disavowed
Belsky's action, and claimed the responsibility for it.

He was prepared for her refusal to see him; he had imagined her wounded
and pathetic; he had fancied her insulted and indignant; but she met him
eagerly and with a mystifying appeal in her welcome.  He began at once,
without attempting to bridge the time since they had met with any
formalities.

"I have come to speak to you about--that--Russian, about Baron Belsky"--

"Yes, yes!" she returned, anxiously.  "Then you have hea'd"

"He came to me last night, and--I want to say that I feel myself to blame
for what he has done."

"You?"

"Yes; I.  I never spoke of you by name to him; I didn't dream of his ever
seeing you, or that he would dare to speak to you of what I told him.
But I believe he meant no wrong; and it was I who did the harm, whether I
authorized it or not."

"Yes, yes!" she returned, with the effect of putting his words aside as
something of no moment.  "Have they head anything more?"

"How, anything more?" he returned, in a daze.

"Then, don't you know?  About his falling into the river?  I know he
didn't drown himself."

Gregory shook his head.  "When--what makes them think"--He stopped and
stared at her.

"Why, they know that he went down to the Ponte Trinity last night;
somebody saw him going: And then that peasant found his hat with his name
in it in the drift-wood below the Cascine"--

"Yes," said Gregory, lifelessly.  He let his arms drop forward, and his
helpless hands hang over his knees; his gaze fell from her face to the
floor.

Neither spoke for a time that seemed long, and then it was Clementina who
spoke.  "But it isn't true!"

"Oh, yes, it is," said Gregory, as before.

"Mr. Hinkle doesn't believe it is," she urged.

"Mr. Hinkle?"

"He's an American who's staying in Florence.  He came this mo'ning to
tell me about it.  Even if he's drowned Mr. Hinkle believes he didn't
mean to; he must have just fallen in."

"What does it matter?" demanded Gregory, lifting his heavy eyes.
"Whether he meant it or not, I caused it.  I drove him to it."

"You drove him?"

"Yes.  He told me what he had said to you, and I--said that he had
spoiled my life--I don't know!"

"Well, he had no right to do it; but I didn't blame you," Clementina
began, compassionately.

"It's too late.  It can't be helped now."  Gregory turned from the mercy
that could no longer save him.  He rose dizzily, and tried to get himself
away.

"You mustn't go!" she interposed.  "I don't believe you made him do it.
Mr. Hinkle will be back soon, and he will"--

"If he should bring word that it was true?" Gregory asked.

"Well," said Clementina, "then we should have to bear it."

A sense of something finer than the surface meaning of her words pierced
his morbid egotism.  "I'm ashamed," he said.  "Will you let me stay?"

"Why, yes, you must," she said, and if there was any censure of him at
the bottom of her heart, she kept it there, and tried to talk him away
from his remorse, which was in his temperament, perhaps, rather than his
conscience; she made the time pass till there came a knock at the door,
and she opened it to Hinkle.

"I didn't send up my name; I thought I wouldn't stand upon ceremony just
now," he said.

"Oh, no!" she returned.  "Mr. Hinkle, this is Mr. Gregory.  Mr. Gregory
knew Mr. Belsky, and he thinks"--

She turned to Gregory for prompting, and he managed to say, "I don't
believe he was quite the sort of person to--And yet he might--he was in
trouble"--

"Money trouble?" asked Hinkle.  "They say these Russians have a perfect
genius for debt.  I had a little inspiration, since I saw you, but there
doesn't seems to be anything in it, so far."  He addressed himself to
Clementina, but he included Gregory in what he said.  "It struck me that
he might have been running his board, and had used this drowning episode
as a blind.  But I've been around to his hotel, and he's settled up, all
fair and square enough.  The landlord tried to think of something he
hadn't paid, but he couldn't; and I never saw a man try harder, either."
Clementina smiled; she put her hand to her mouth to keep from laughing;
but Gregory frowned his distress in the untimely droning.

"I don't give up my theory that it's a fake of some kind, though.  He
could leave behind a good many creditors besides his landlord.  The
authorities have sealed up his effects, and they've done everything but
call out the fire department; that's on duty looking after the freshet,
and it couldn't be spared.  I'll go out now and slop round a little more
in the cause, "Hinkle looked down at his shoes and his drabbled trousers,
and wiped the perspiration from his face, "but I thought I'd drop in, and
tell you not to worry about it, Miss Clementina.  I would stake anything
you pleased on Mr. Belsky's safety.  Mr. Gregory, here, looks like he
would be willing to take odds," he suggested.

Gregory commanded himself from his misery to say, "I wish I could
believe--I mean"--

"Of course, we don't want to think that the man's a fraud, any more than
that he's dead.  Perhaps we might hit upon some middle course.  At any
rate, it's worth trying."

"May I--do you object to my joining you?" Gregory asked.

"Why, come!" Hinkle hospitably assented.  "Glad to have you.  I'll be
back again, Miss Clementina!"

Gregory was going away without any form of leavetaking; but he turned
back to ask, "Will you let me come back, too?"

"Why, suttainly, Mr. Gregory," said Clementina, and she went to find Mrs.
Lander, whom she found in bed.

"I thought I'd lay down," she explained.  "I don't believe I'm goin' to
be sick, but it's one of my pooa days, and I might just as well be in bed
as not."  Clementina agreed with her, and Mrs. Lander asked: "You hea'd
anything moa?"

"No.  Mr. Hinkle has just been he'a, but he hadn't any news."

Mrs. Lander turned her face toward the wall.  "Next thing, he'll be
drownin' himself.  I neva wanted you should have anything to do with the
fellas that go to that woman's.  There ain't any of 'em to be depended
on."

It was the first time that her growing jealousy of Miss Milray had openly
declared itself; but Clementina had felt it before, without knowing how
to meet it.  As an escape from it now she was almost willing to say,
"Mrs. Lander, I want to tell you that Mr. Gregory has just been he'a,
too."

"Mr. Gregory?"

"Yes.  Don't you remember?  At the Middlemount?  The first summa?  He was
the headwaita--that student."

Mrs. Lander jerked her head round on the pillow.  "Well, of all the--What
does he want, over he'a?"

"Nothing.  That is--he's travelling with a pupil that he's preparing for
college, and--he came to see us"--

"D'you tell him I couldn't see him?"

"Yes"

"I guess he'd think I was a pretty changed pusson!  Now, I want you
should stay with me, Clementina, and if anybody else comes"--

Maddalena entered the room with a card which she gave to the girl.

"Who is it?" Mrs. Lander demanded.

"Miss Milray."

"Of cou'se!  Well, you may just send wo'd that you can't--Or, no; you
must!  She'd have it all ova the place, by night, that I wouldn't let
you see her.  But don't you make any excuse for me!  If she asks after
me, don't you say I'm sick!  You say I'm not at home."

"I've come about that little wretch," Miss Milray began, after kissing
Clementina.  "I didn't know but you had heard something I hadn't, or I
had heard something you hadn't.  You know I belong to the Hinkle
persuasion: I think Belsky's run his board--as Mr. Hinkle calls it."

Clementina explained how this part of the Hinkle theory had failed, and
then Miss Milray devolved upon the belief that he had run his tailor's
bill or his shoemaker's.  "They are delightful, those Russians, but
they're born insolvent.  I don't believe he's drowned himself.  How," she
broke off to ask, in a burlesque whisper, "is-the-old-tabby?" She
laughed, for answer to her own question, and then with another sudden
diversion she demanded of a look in Clementina's face which would not be
laughed away, "Well, my dear, what is it?"

"Miss Milray," said the girl, "should you think me very silly, if I told
you something--silly?"

"Not in the least!" cried Miss Milray, joyously.  "It's the final proof
of your wisdom that I've been waiting for?"

"It's because Mr. Belsky is all mixed up in it," said Clementina, as if
some excuse were necessary, and then she told the story of her love
affair with Gregory.  Miss Milray punctuated the several facts with vivid
nods, but at the end she did not ask her anything, and the girl somehow
felt the freer to add: "I believe I will tell you his name.  It is Mr.
Gregory--Frank Gregory"--

"And he's been in Egypt?"

"Yes, the whole winta."

"Then he's the one that my sister-in-law has been writing me about!"

"Oh, did he meet her the'a?"

"I should think so!  And he'll meet her there, very soon.  She's coming,
with my poor brother.  I meant to tell you, but this ridiculous Belsky
business drove it out of my head."

"And do you think," Clementina entreated, "that he was to blame?"

"Why, I don't believe he's done it, you know."

"Oh, I didn't mean Mr. Belsky.  I meant--Mr. Gregory.  For telling Mr.
Belsky?"

"Certainly not.  Men always tell those things to some one, I suppose.
Nobody was to blame but Belsky, for his meddling."

Miss Milray rose and shook out her plumes for flight, as if she were
rather eager for flight, but at the little sigh with which Clementina
said, "Yes, that is what I thought," she faltered.

"I was going to run away, for I shouldn't like to mix myself up in your
affair--it's certainly a very strange one--unless I was sure I could help
you.  But if you think I can"--

Clementina shook her head.  "I don't believe you can," she said, with a
candor so wistful that Miss Milray stopped quite short.  "How does Mr.
Gregory take this Belsky business?" she asked.

"I guess he feels it moa than I do," said the girl.

"He shows his feeling more?"

"Yes--no--He believes he drove him to it."

Miss Milray took her hand, for parting, but did not kiss her.  "I won't
advise you, my dear.  In fact, yon haven't asked me to.  You'll know what
to do, if you haven't done it already; girls usually have, when they want
advice.  Was there something you were going to say?"

"Oh, no.  Nothing.  Do you think," she hesitated, appealingly, "do you
think we are-engaged?"

"If he's anything of a man at all, he must think he is."

"Yes," said Clementina, wistfully, "I guess he does."

Miss Milray looked sharply at her.  "And does he think you are?"

"I don't know--he didn't say."

"Well," said Miss Milray, rather dryly, "then it's something for you to
think over pretty carefully."




XXVI.

Hinkle came back in the afternoon to make a hopeful report of his failure
to learn anything more of Belsky, but Gregory did not come with him.  He
came the next morning long before Clementina expected visitors, and he
was walking nervously up and down the room when she appeared.  As if he
could not speak, he held toward her without speaking a telegram in
English, dated that day in Rome:

          "Deny report of my death.  Have written.

                                   "Belsky."

She looked up at Gregory from the paper, when she had read it, with
joyful eyes.  "Oh, I am so glad for you!  I am so glad he is alive."

He took the dispatch from her hand.  "I brought it to you as soon as it
came."

"Yes, yes!  Of cou'se!"

"I must go now and do what he says--I don't know how yet."  He stopped,
and then went on from a different impulse.  "Clementina, it isn't a
question now of that wretch's life and death, and I wish I need never
speak of him again.  But what he told you was true."  He looked
steadfastly at her, and she realized how handsome he was, and how well
dressed.  His thick red hair seemed to have grown darker above his
forehead; his moustache was heavier, and it curved in at the corners of
his mouth; he bore himself with a sort of self-disdain that enhanced his
splendor.  "I have never changed toward you; I don't say it to make favor
with you; I don't expect to do that now; but it is true.  That night,
there at Middlemount, I tried to take back what I said, because I
believed that I ought."

"Oh, yes, I knew that," said Clementina, in the pause he made.

"We were both too young; I had no prospect in life; I saw, the instant
after I had spoken, that I had no right to let you promise anything.
I tried to forget you; I couldn't.  I tried to make you forget me."
He faltered, and she did not speak, but her head drooped a little.
"I won't ask how far I succeeded.  I always hoped that the time would
come when I could speak to you again.  When I heard from Fane that you
were at Woodlake, I wished to come out and see you, but I hadn't the
courage, I hadn't the right.  I've had to come to you without either,
now.  Did he speak to you about me?"

"I thought he was beginning to, once; but he neva did."

"It didn't matter; it could only have made bad worse.  It can't help me
to say that somehow I was wishing and trying to do what was right; but I
was."

"Oh, I know that, Mr. Gregory," said Clementina, generously.

"Then you didn't doubt me, in spite of all?"

"I thought you would know what to do.  No, I didn't doubt you, exactly."

"I didn't deserve your trust!" he cried.  "How came that man to mention
me?" he demanded, abruptly, after a moment's silence.

"Mr. Belsky?  It was the first night I saw him, and we were talking about
Americans, and he began to tell me about an American friend of his, who
was very conscientious.  I thought it must be you the fust moment," said
Clementina, smiling with an impersonal pleasure in the fact.

"From the conscientiousness?"  he asked, in bitter self-irony.

"Why, yes," she returned, simply.  "That was what made me think of you.
And the last time when he began to talk about you, I couldn't stop him,
although I knew he had no right to."

"He had no right.  But I gave him the power to do it!  He meant no harm,
but I enabled him to do all the harm."

"Oh, if he's only alive, now, there is no harm!"

He looked into her eyes with a misgiving from which be burst impetuously.
"Then you do care for me still, after all that I have done to make you
detest me?"  He started toward her, but she shrank back.

"I didn't mean that," she hesitated.

"You know that I love you,--that I have always loved you?"

"Yes," she assented.  "But you might be sorry again that you had said
it."  It sounded like coquetry, but he knew it was not coquetry.

"Never!  I've wished to say it again, ever since that night at
Middlemount; I have always felt bound by what I said then, though I took
back my words for your sake.  But the promise was always there, and my
life was in it.  You believe that?"

"Why, I always believed what you said, Mr. Gregory."

"Well?"

Clementina paused, with her head seriously on one side.  "I should want
to think about it before I said anything."

"You are right," he submitted, dropping his outstretched arms to his
side.  "I have been thinking only of myself, as usual."

"No," she protested, compassionately.  "But doesn't it seem as if we
ought to be su'a, this time?  I did ca'e for you then, but I was very
young, and I don't know yet--I thought I had always felt just; as you
did, but now--Don't you think we had both betta wait a little while till
we ah' moa suttain?"

They stood looking at each other, and he said, with a kind of passionate
self-denial, "Yes, think it over for me, too.  I will come back, if you
will let me."

"Oh, thank you!" she cried after him, gratefully, as if his forbearance
were the greatest favor.

When he was gone she tried to release herself from the kind of abeyance
in which she seemed to have gone back and been as subject to him as in
the first days when he had awed her and charmed her with his superiority
at Middlemount, and he again older and freer as she had grown since.

He came back late in the afternoon, looking jaded and distraught.
Hinkle, who looked neither, was with him.  "Well," he began, "this is the
greatest thing in my experience.  Belsky's not only alive and well, but
Mr. Gregory and I are both at large.  I did think, one time, that the
police would take us into custody on account of our morbid interest in
the thing, and I don't believe we should have got off, if the Consul
hadn't gone bail for us, so to speak.  I thought we had better take the
Consul in, on our way, and it was lucky we did."

Clementina did not understand all the implications, but she was willing
to take Mr. Hinkle's fun on trust.  "I don't believe you'll convince Mrs.
Landa that Mr. Belsky's alive and well, till you bring him back to say
so."

"Is that so!" said Hinkle.  "Well, we must have him brought back by the
authorities, then.  Perhaps they'll bring him, anyway.  They can't try
him for suicide, but as I understand the police, here, a man can't lose
his hat over a bridge in Florence with impunity, especially in a time of
high water.  Anyway, they're identifying Belsky by due process of law in
Rome, now, and I guess Mr. Gregory"--he nodded toward Gregory, who sat
silent and absent "will be kept under surveillance till the whole mystery
is cleared up."

Clementina responded gayly still, but with less and less sincerity, and
she let Hinkle go at last with the feeling that he knew she wished him to
go.  He made a brave show of not seeing this, and when he was gone, she
remembered that she had not thanked him for the trouble he had taken on
her account, and her heart ached after him with a sense of his sweetness
and goodness, which she had felt from the first through his quaint
drolling.  It was as if the door which closed upon him shut her out of
the life she had been living of late, and into the life of the past where
she was subject again to the spell of Gregory's mood; it was hardly his
will.

He began at once: "I wished to make you say something this morning that I
have no right to hear you say, yet; and I have been trying ever since to
think how I could ask you whether you could share my life with me, and
yet not ask you to do it.  But I can't do anything without knowing--
You may not care for what my life is to be, at all!"

Clementina's head drooped a little, but she answered distinctly, "I do
ca'e, Mr. Gregory."

"Thank you for that much; I don't count upon more than you have said.
Clementina, I am going to be a missionary.  I think I shall ask to be
sent to China; I've not decided yet.  My life will be hard; it will be
full of danger and privation; it will be exile.  You will have to think
of sharing such a life if you think"--

He stopped; the time had come for her to speak, and she said, "I knew you
wanted to be a missionary"--

"And--and--you would go with me?  You would"--He started toward her, and
she did not shrink from him, now; but he checked himself.  "But you
mustn't, you know, for my sake."

"I don't believe I quite undastand," she faltered.

"You must not do it for me, but for what makes me do it.  Without that
our life, our work, could have no consecration."

She gazed at him in patient, faintly smiling bewilderment, as if it were
something he would unriddle for her when he chose.

"We mustn't err in this; it would be worse than error; it would be sin."
He took a turn about the room, and then stopped before her.  "Will you--
will you join me in a prayer for guidance, Clementina?"

"I--I don't know," she hesitated.  "I will, but--do you think I had
betta?"

He began, "Why, surely"--After a moment he asked gravely, "You believe
that our actions will be guided aright, if we seek help?"

"Oh, yes--yes"--

"And that if we do not, we shall stumble in our ignorance?"

"I don't know.  I never thought of that."

"Never thought of it"--

"We never did it in our family.  Father always said that if we really
wanted to do right we could find the way."  Gregory looked daunted, and
then he frowned darkly.  "Are you provoked with me?  Do you think what
I have said is wrong?"

"No, no!  You must say what you believe.  It would be double hypocrisy in
me if I prevented you."

"But I would do it, if you wanted me to," she said.

"Oh, for me, for ME!" he protested.  "I will try to tell you what I mean,
and why you must not, for that very reason."  But he had to speak of
himself, of the miracle of finding her again by the means which should
have lost her to him forever; and of the significance of this.  Then it
appeared to him that he could not reject such a leading without error,
without sin.  "Such a thing could not have merely happened."

It seemed so to Clementina, too; she eagerly consented that this was
something they must think of, as well.  But the light waned, the dark
thickened in the room before he left her to do so.  Then he said
fervently, "We must not doubt that everything will come right," and his
words seemed an effect of inspiration to them both.




XXVII.

After Gregory was gone a misgiving began in Clementina's mind, which grew
more distinct, through all the difficulties of accounting to Mrs. Lander
for his long stay, The girl could see that it was with an obscure
jealousy that she pushed her questions, and said at last, "That Mr.
Hinkle is about the best of the lot.  He's the only one that's eva had
the mannas to ask after me, except that lo'd.  He did."

Clementina could not pretend that Gregory had asked, but she could not
blame him for a forgetfulness of Mrs. Lander which she had shared with
him.  This helped somehow to deepen the misgiving which followed her from
Mrs. Lander's bed to her own, and haunted her far into the night.  She
could escape from it only by promising herself to deal with it the first
thing in the morning.  She did this in terms much briefer than she
thought she could have commanded.  She supposed she would have to write a
very long letter, but she came to the end of all she need say, in a very
few lines.

     DEAR MR. GREGORY:

     "I have been thinking about what you said yesterday, and I have to
     tell you something.  Then you can do what is right for both of us;
     you will know better than I can.  But I want you to understand that
     if I go with you in your missionary life, I shall do it for you, and
     not for anything else.  I would go anywhere and live anyhow for you,
     but it would be for you; I do not believe that I am religious, and I
     know that I should not do it for religion.

     "That is all; but I could not get any peace till I let you know just
     how I felt.

                                             "CLEMENTINA CLAXON."

The letter went early in the morning, though not so early but it was put
in Gregory's hand as he was leaving his hotel to go to Mrs. Lander's.  He
tore it open, and read it on the way, and for the first moment it seemed
as if it were Providence leading him that he might lighten Clementina's
heart of its doubts with the least delay.  He had reasoned that if she
would share for his sake the life that he should live for righteousness'
sake they would be equally blest in it, and it would be equally
consecrated in both.  But this luminous conclusion faded in his thought
as he hurried on, and he found himself in her presence with something
like a hope that she would be inspired to help him.

His soul lifted at the sound of the gay voice in which she asked, "Did
you get my letta?" and it seemed for the instant as if there could be no
trouble that their love could not overcome.

"Yes," he said, and he put his arms around her, but with a provisionality
in his embrace which she subtly perceived.

"And what did you think of it?" she asked.  "Did you think I was silly?"

He was aware that she had trusted him to do away her misgiving.  "No,
no," he answered, guiltily.  "Wiser than I am, always.  I--I want to talk
with you about it, Clementina.  I want you to advise me."

He felt her shrink from him, and with a pang he opened his arms to free
her.  But it was right; he must.  She had been expecting him to say that
there was nothing in her misgiving, and he could not say it.

"Clementina," he entreated, "why do you think you are not religious?"

"Why, I have never belonged to chu'ch," she answered simply.  He looked
so daunted, that she tried to soften the blow after she had dealt it.
"Of course, I always went to chu'ch, though father and motha didn't.
I went to the Episcopal--to Mr. Richling's.  But I neva was confirmed."

"But-you believe in God?"

"Why, certainly!"

"And in the Bible?"

"Why, of cou'se!"

"And that it is our duty to bear the truth to those who have never heard
of it?"

"I know that is the way you feel about it; but I am not certain that I
should feel so myself if you didn't want me to.  That's what I got to
thinking about last night."  She added hopefully, "But perhaps it isn't
so great a thing as I"--

"It's a very great thing," he said, and from standing in front of her, he
now sat down beyond a little table before her sofa.  "How can I ask you
to share my life if you don't share my faith?"

"Why, I should try to believe everything that you do, of cou'se."

"Because I do?"

"Well-yes."

"You wring my heart!  Are you willing to study--to look into these
questions--to--to"--It all seemed very hopeless, very absurd, but she
answered seriously:

"Yes, but I believe it would all come back to just where it is, now."

"What you say, Clementina, makes me so happy; but it ought to make me--
miserable!  And you would do all this, be all this for me, a wretched and
erring creature of the dust, and yet not do it for--God?"

Clementina could only say, "Perhaps if He meant me to do it for Him, He
would have made me want to.  He made you."

"Yes," said Gregory, and for a long time he could not say any more.  He
sat with his elbow on the table, and his head against his lifted hand.

"You see," she began, gently, "I got to thinking that even if I eva came
to believe what you wanted me to, I should be doing it after all, because
you wanted me to"--

"Yes, yes," he answered, desolately.  "There is no way out of it.  If you
only hated me, Clementina, despised me--I don't mean that.  But if you
were not so good, I could have a more hope for you--for myself.  It's
because you are so good that I can't make myself wish to change you, and
yet I know--I am afraid that if you told me my life and objects were
wrong, I should turn from them, and be whatever you said.  Do you tell me
that?"

"No, indeed!" cried Clementina, with abhorrence.  "Then I should despise
you."

He seemed not to heed her.  He moved his lips as if he were talking to
himself, and he pleaded, "What shall we do?"

"We must try to think it out, and if we can't--if you can't let me give
up to you unless I do it for the same reason that you do; and if I can't
let you give up for me, and I know I could neva do that; then--
we mustn't!"

"Do you mean, we must part?  Not see each other again?"

"What use would it be?"

"None," he owned.  She had risen, and he stood up perforce.  "May I--may
I come back to tell you?"

"Tell me what?" she asked.

"You are right!  If I can't make it right, I won't come.  But I won't say
good bye.  I--can't."

She let him go, and Maddalena came in at the door.  "Signorina," she
said, "the signora is not well.  Shall I send for the doctor?"

"Yes, yes, Maddalena.  Run!" cried Clementina, distractedly.  She hurried
to Mrs. Lander's room, where she found her too sick for reproaches, for
anything but appeals for help and pity.  The girl had not to wait for
Doctor Welwright's coming to understand that the attack was severer than
any before.

It lasted through the day, and she could see that he was troubled.  It
had not followed upon any imprudeuce, as Mrs. Lander pathetically called
Clementina to witness when her pain had been so far quelled that she
could talk of her seizure.

He found her greatly weakened by it the next day, and he sat looking
thoughtfully at her before he said that she needed toning up.  She caught
at the notion.  "Yes, yes!  That's what I need, docta!  Toning up!
That's what I need."

He suggested, "How would you like to try the sea air, and the baths--at
Venice?"

"Oh, anything, anywhere, to get out of this dreadful hole!  I ha'n't had
a well minute since I came.  And Clementina," the sick woman whimpered,
"is so taken up all the time, he'a, that I can't get the right
attention."

The doctor looked compassionately away from the girl, and said, "Well,
we must arrange about getting you off, then."

"But I want you should go with me, doctor, and see me settled all right.
You can, can't you?  I sha'n't ca'e how much it costs?"

The doctor said gravely he thought he could manage it and he ignored the
long unconscious sigh of relief that Clementina drew.

In all her confusing anxieties for Mrs. Lander, Gregory remained at the
bottom of her heart a dumb ache.  When the pressure of her fears was
taken from her she began to suffer for him consciously; then a letter
came from him:

     "I cannot make it right.  It is where it was, and I feel that I must
     not see you again.  I am trying to do right, but with the fear that
     I am wrong.  Send some word to help me before I go away to-morrow.
     F. G."

It was what she had expected, she knew now, but it was none the less to
be borne because of her expectation.  She wrote back:

     "I believe you are doing the best you can, and I shall always
     believe that."

Her note brought back a long letter from him.  He said that whatever he
did, or wherever he went, he should try to be true to her ideal of him.
If they renounced their love now for the sake of what seemed higher than
their love, they might suffer, but they could not choose but do as they
were doing.

Clementina was trying to make what she could of this when Miss Milray's
name came up, and Miss Milray followed it.

"I wanted to ask after Mrs. Lander, and I want you to tell her I did.
Will you?  Dr. Welwright says he's going to take her to Venice.  Well,
I'm sorry--sorry for your going, Clementina, and I'm truly sorry for the
cause of it.  I shall miss you, my dear, I shall indeed.  You know I
always wanted to steal you, but you'll do me the justice to say I never
did, and I won't try, now."

"Perhaps I wasn't worth stealing," Clementina suggested, with a
ruefulness in her smile that went to Miss Milray's heart.

She put her arms round her and kissed her. I wasn't very kind to you, the
other day, Clementina, was I?"

"I don't know," Clementina faltered, with half-averted face.

"Yes, you do!  I was trying to make-believe that I didn't want to meddle
with your affairs; but I was really vexed that you hadn't told me your
story before.  It hasn't taken me all this time to reflect that you
couldn't, but it has to make myself come and confess that I had been dry
and cold with you."  She hesitated.  "It's come out all right, hasn't it,
Clementina?" she asked, tenderly.  "You see I want to meddle, now."

"We ah' trying to think so," sighed the girl.

"Tell me about it!" Miss Milray pulled her down on the sofa with her, and
modified her embrace to a clasp of Clementina's bands.

"Why, there isn't much to tell," she began, but she told what there was,
and Miss Milray kept her countenance concerning the scruple that had
parted Clementina and her lover.  "Perhaps he wouldn't have thought of
it," she said, in a final self-reproach, if I hadn't put it into his
head."

"Well, then, I'm not sorry you put it into his head," cried Miss Milray.
"Clementina, may I say what I think of Mr. Gregory's performance?"

"Why, certainly, Miss Milray!"

I think he's not merely a gloomy little bigot, but a very hard-hearted
little wretch, and I'm glad you're rid of him.  No, stop!  Let me go on!
You said I might!  she persisted, at a protest which imparted itself from
Clementina's restive hands.  "It was selfish and cruel of him to let you
believe that he had forgotten you.  It doesn't make it right now, when an
accident has forced him to tell you that he cared for you all along."

"Why, do you look at it that way, Miss Milray?  If he was doing it on my
account?"

"He may think he was doing it on your account, but I think he was doing
it on his own.  In such a thing as that, a man is bound by his mistakes,
if he has made any.  He can't go back of them by simply ignoring them.
It didn't make it the same for you when he decided for your sake that he
would act as if he had never spoken to you."

"I presume he thought that it would come right, sometime," Clementina
urged.  "I did."

"Yes, that was very well for you, but it wasn't at all well for him.  He
behaved cruelly; there's no other word for it."

"I don't believe he meant to be cruel, Miss Milray," said Clementina.

"You're not sorry you've broken with him?"  demanded Miss Milray,
severely, and she let go of Clementina's hands.

"I shouldn't want him to think I hadn't been fai'a."

"I don't understand what you mean by not being fair," said Miss Milray,
after a study of the girl's eyes.

"I mean," Clementina explained, "that if I let him think the religion was
all the'e was, it wouldn't have been fai'a."

Why, weren't you sincere about that?"

"Of cou'se I was!" returned the girl, almost indignantly.  "But if the'e
was anything else, I ought to have told him that, too; and I couldn't."

"Then you can't tell me, of course?"  Miss Milray rose in a little pique.

"Perhaps some day I will," the girl entreated.  "And perhaps that was
all."

Miss Milray laughed.  "Well, if that was enough to end it, I'm satisfied,
and I'll let you keep your mystery--if it is one--till we meet in Venice;
I shall be there early in June.  Good bye, dear, and say good bye to Mrs.
Lander for me."




XXVIII.

Dr. Welwright got his patient a lodging on the Grand Canal in Venice, and
decided to stay long enough to note the first effect of the air and the
baths, and to look up a doctor to leave her with.

This took something more than a week, which could not all be spent in
Mrs. Lander's company, much as she wished it.  There were hours which he
gave to going about in a gondola with Clementina, whom he forbade to be
always at the invalid's side.  He tried to reassure her as to Mrs.
Lander's health, when be found her rather mute and absent, while they
drifted in the silvery sun of the late April weather, just beginning to
be warm, but not warm enough yet for the tent of the open gondola.  He
asked her about Mrs. Lander's family, and Clementina could only tell him
that she had always said she had none.  She told him the story of her own
relation to her, and he said, "Yes, I heard something of that from Miss
Milray."  After a moment of silence, during which he looked curiously
into the girl's eyes, "Do you think you can bear a little more care, Miss
Claxon?"

"I think I can," said Clementina, not very courageously, but patiently.

"It's only this, and I wouldn't tell you if I hadn't thought you equal to
it.  Mrs. Lander's case puzzles me: But I shall leave Dr. Tradonico
watching it, and if it takes the turn that there's a chance it may take,
he will tell you, and you'd better find out about her friends, and--let
them know.  That's all."

"Yes," said Clementina, as if it were not quite enough.  Perhaps she did
not fully realize all that the doctor had intended; life alone is
credible to the young; life and the expectation of it.

The night before he was to return to Florence there was a full moon; and
when he had got Mrs. Lander to sleep he asked Clementina if she would not
go out on the lagoon with him.  He assigned no peculiar virtue to the
moonlight, and he had no new charge to give her concerning his patient
when they were embarked.  He seemed to wish her to talk about herself,
and when she strayed from the topic, he prompted her return.  Then he
wished to know how she liked Florence, as compared with Venice, and all
the other cities she had seen, and when she said she had not seen any but
Boston and New York, and London for one night, he wished to know whether
she liked Florence as well.  She said she liked it best of all, and he
told her he was very glad, for he liked it himself better than any place
he had ever seen.  He spoke of his family in America, which was formed of
grownup brothers and sisters, so that he had none of the closest and
tenderest ties obliging him to return; there was no reason why he should
not spend all his days in Florence, except for some brief visits home.
It would be another thing with such a place as Venice; he could never
have the same settled feeling there: it was beautiful, but it was unreal;
it would be like spending one's life at the opera.  Did not she think so?

She thought so, oh, yes; she never could have the home-feeling at Venice
that she had at Florence.

"Exactly; that's what I meant--a home-feeling; I'm glad you had it."  He
let the gondola dip and slide forward almost a minute before he added,
with an effect of pulling a voice up out of his throat somewhere, "How
would you like to live there--with me--as my wife?"

"Why, what do you mean, Dr. Welwright?"  asked Clementina, with a vague
laugh.

Dr. Welwright laughed, too; but not vaguely; there was a mounting
cheerfulness in his laugh.  "What I say.  I hope it isn't very
surprising."

"No; but I never thought of such a thing."

"Perhaps you will think of it now."

"But you're not in ea'nest!"

"I'm thoroughly in earnest," said the doctor, and he seemed very much
amused at her incredulity.

"Then; I'm sorry," she answered.  "I couldn't."

"No?" he said, still with amusement, or with a courage that took that
form.  "Why not?"

"Because I am--not free."

For an interval they were so silent that they could hear each other
breathe: Then, after be had quietly bidden the gondolier go back to their
hotel, he asked, "If you had been free you might have answered me
differently?"

"I don't know," said Clementina, candidly.  "I never thought of it."

"It isn't because you disliked me?"

"Oh, no!"

"Then I must get what comfort I can out of that.  I hope, with all my
heart, that you may be happy."

"Why, Dr. Welwright!" said Clementina.  "Don't you suppose that I should
be glad to do it, if I could?  Any one would!"

"It doesn't seem very probable, just now," he answered, humbly.
"But I'll believe it if you say so."

"I do say so, and I always shall."

"Thank you."

Dr. Welwright professed himself ready for his departure, at breakfast
next morning and he must have made his preparations very late or very
early.  He was explicit in his charges to Clementina concerning Mrs.
Lander, and at the end of them, he said, "She will not know when she is
asking too much of you, but you will, and you must act upon your
knowledge.  And remember, if you are in need of help, of any kind, you're
to let me know.  Will you?"

"Yes, I will, Dr. Welwright."

"People will be going away soon, and I shall not be so busy.  I can come
back if Dr. Tradonico thinks it necessary."

He left Mrs. Lander full of resolutions to look after her own welfare in
every way, and she went out in her gondola the same morning.  She was not
only to take the air as much as possible, but she was to amuse herself,
and she decided that she would have her second breakfast at the Caffe
Florian.  Venice was beginning to fill up with arrivals from the south,
and it need not have been so surprising to find Mr. Hinkle there over a
cup of coffee.  He said he had just that moment been thinking of her, and
meaning to look her up at the hotel.  He said that he had stopped at
Venice because it was such a splendid place to introduce his gleaner; he
invited Mrs. Lander to become a partner in the enterprise; he promised
her a return of fifty per cent. on her investment.  If he could once
introduce his gleaner in Venice, he should be a made man.  He asked Mrs.
Lander, with real feeling, how she was; as for Miss Clementina, he need
not ask.

"Oh, indeed, the docta thinks she wants a little lookin' after, too,"
said Mrs. Lander.

"Well, about as much as you do, Mrs. Lander," Hinkle allowed, tolerantly.
"I don't know how it affects you, ma'am, such a meeting of friends in
these strange waters, but it's building me right up.  It's made another
man of me, already, and I've got the other man's appetite, too.  Mind my
letting him have his breakfast here with me at your table?"  He bade the
waiter just fetch his plate.  He attached himself to them; he spent the
day with them.  Mrs. Lander asked him to dinner at her lodgings, and left
him to Clementina over the coffee.

"She's looking fine, doesn't the doctor think?  This air will do
everything for her."

"Oh, yes; she's a great deal betta than she was befo'e we came."

"That's right.  Well, now, you've got me here, you must let me make
myself useful any way I can.  I've got a spare month that I can put in
here in Venice, just as well as not; I sha'n't want to push north till
the frost's out of the ground.  They wouldn't have a chance to try my
gleaner, on the other side of the Alps much before September, anyway.
Now, in Ohio, the part I come from, we cut our wheat in June.  When is
your wheat harvest at Middlemount?"

Clementina laughed.  "I don't believe we've got any.  I guess it's all
grass."

"I wish you could see our country out there, once."

"Is it nice?"

"Nice?  We're right in the centre of the state, measuring from north to
south, on the old National Road."  Clementina had never heard of this
road, but she did not say so.  "About five miles back from the Ohio
River, where the coal comes up out of the ground, because there's so much
of it there's no room for it below.  Our farm's in a valley, along a
creek bottom, what you Yankees call an intervals; we've got three hundred
acres.  My grandfather took up the land, and then he went back to
Pennsylvania to get the girl he'd left there--we were Pennsylvania Dutch;
that's where I got my romantic name--they drove all the way out to Ohio
again in his buggy, and when he came in sight of our valley with his
bride, he stood up in his buggy and pointed with his whip.  'There!  As
far as the sky is blue, it's all ours!'"

Clementina owned the charm of his story as he seemed to expect, but when
he said, "Yes, I want you to see that country, some day," she answered
cautiously.

"It must be lovely.  But I don't expect to go West, eva."

"I like your Eastern way of saying everr," said Hinkle, and he said it in
his Western way.  "I like New England folks."

Clementina smiled discreetly.  "They have their faults like everybody
else, I presume."

"Ah, that's a regular Yankee word: presume," said Hinkle.  "Our teacher,
my first one, always said presume.  She was from your State, too."




XXIX.

In the time of provisional quiet that followed for Clementina, she was
held from the remorses and misgivings that had troubled her before Hinkle
came.  She still thought that she had let Dr. Welwright go away believing
that she had not cared enough for the offer which had surprised her so
much, and she blamed herself for not telling him how doubly bound she was
to Gregory; though when she tried to put her sense of this in words to
herself she could not make out that she was any more bound to him than
she had been before they met in Florence, unless she wished to be so.
Yet somehow in this time of respite, neither the regret for Dr. Welwright
nor the question of Gregory persisted very strongly, and there were whole
days when she realized before she slept that she had not thought of
either.

She was in full favor again with Mrs. Lander, whom there was no one to
embitter in her jealous affection.  Hinkle formed their whole social
world, and Mrs. Lander made the most of him.  She was always having him
to the dinners which her landlord served her from a restaurant in her
apartment, and taking him out with Clementina in her gondola.  He came
into a kind of authority with them both which was as involuntary with him
as with them, and was like an effect of his constant wish to be doing
something for them.

One morning when they were all going out in Mrs. Lander's gondola, she
sent Clementina back three times to their rooms for outer garments of
differing density.  When she brought the last Mrs. Lander frowned.

"This won't do.  I've got to have something else--something lighter and
warma."

"I can't go back any moa, Mrs. Landa," cried the girl, from the
exasperation of her own nerves.

"Then I will go back myself," said Mrs. Lander with dignity, "and we
sha'n't need the gondoler any more this mo'ning," she added, "unless you
and Mr. Hinkle wants to ride."

She got ponderously out of the boat with the help of the gondolier's
elbow, and marched into the house again, while Clementina followed her.
She did not offer to help her up the stairs; Hinkle had to do it, and he
met the girl slowly coming up as he returned from delivering Mrs. Lander
over to Maddalena.

"She's all right, now," he ventured to say, tentatively.

"Is she?" Clementina coldly answered.

In spite of her repellent air, he persisted, "She's a pretty sick woman,
isn't she?"

"The docta doesn't say."

"Well, I think it would be safe to act on that supposition.  Miss
Clementina--I think she wants to see you."

"I'm going to her directly."

Hinkle paused, rather daunted.  "She wants me to go for the doctor."

"She's always wanting the docta."  Clementina lifted her eyes and looked
very coldly at him.

"If I were you I'd go up right away," he said, boldly.

She felt that she ought to resent his interference, but the mild entreaty
of his pale blue eyes, or the elder-brotherly injunction of his smile,
forbade her.  "Did she ask for me?"

"No."

"I'll go to her," she said, and she kept herself from smiling at the long
sigh of relief he gave as she passed him on the stairs.

Mrs. Lander began as soon as she entered her room, "Well, I was just
wonderin' if you was goin' to leave me here all day alone, while you
staid down the'e, carryin' on with that simpleton.  I don't know what's
got into the men."

"Mr. Hinkle has gone for the docta," said Clementina, trying to get into
her voice the kindness she was trying to feel.

"Well, if I have one of my attacks, now, you'll have yourself to thank
for it."

By the time Dr. Tradonico appeared Mrs. Lander was so much better that in
her revulsion of feeling she was all day rather tryingly affectionate in
her indirect appeals for Clementina's sympathy.

"I don't want you should mind what I say, when I a'n't feelin' just
right," she began that evening, after she had gone to bed, and Clementina
sat looking out of the open window, on the moonlit lagoon.

"Oh, no," the girl answered, wearily.

Mrs. Lander humbled herself farther.  "I'm real sorry I plagued you so,
to-day, and I know Mr. Hinkle thought I was dreadful, but I couldn't help
it.  I should like to talk with you, Clementina, about something that's
worryin' me, if you a'n't busy."

"I'm not busy, now, Mrs. Lander," said Clementina, a little coldly, and
relaxing the clasp of her hands; to knit her fingers together had been
her sole business, and she put even this away,

She did not come nearer the bed, and Mrs. Lander was obliged to speak
without the advantage of noting the effect of her words upon her in her
face.  "It's like this: What am I agoin' to do for them relations of Mr.
Landa's out in Michigan?"

"I don't know.  What relations?"

"I told you about 'em: the only ones he's got: his half-sista's children.
He neva saw 'em, and he neva wanted to; but they're his kin, and it was
his money.  It don't seem right to pass 'em ova.  Do you think it would
yourself, Clementina?"

"Why, of cou'se not, Mrs. Lander.  It wouldn't be right at all."

Mrs. Lander looked relieved, and she said, as if a little surprised, "I'm
glad you feel that way; I should feel just so, myself.  I mean to do by
you just what I always said I should.  I sha'n't forget you, but whe'e
the'e's so much I got to thinkin' the'e'd ought to some of it go to his
folks, whetha he ca'ed for 'em or not.  It's worried me some, and I guess
if anything it's that that's made me wo'se lately."

"Why by Mrs. Landa," said the girl, "Why don't you give it all to them?"

"You don't know what you'a talkin' about," said Mrs. Lander, severely." I
guess if I give 'em five thousand or so amongst'em, it's full moa than
they eve thought of havin', and it's moa than they got any right to.
Well, that's all right, then; and we don't need to talk about it any moa.
Yes," she resumed, after a moment, "that's what I shall do.  I hu'n't eva
felt just satisfied with that last will I got made, and I guess I shall
tear it up, and get the fust American lawyer that comes along to make me
a new one.  The prop'ty's all goin' to you, but I guess I shall leave
five thousand apiece to the two families out the'e.  You won't miss it,
any, and I presume it's what Mr. Landa would expect I should do; though
why he didn't do it himself, I can't undastand, unless it was to show his
confidence in me."

She began to ask Clementina how she felt about staying in Venice all
summer; she said she had got so much better there already that she
believed she should be well by fall if she stayed on.  She was certain
that it would put her all back if she were to travel now, and in Europe,
where it was so hard to know how to get to places, she did not see how
they could pick out any that would suit them as well as Venice did.

Clementina agreed to it all, more or less absentmindedly, as she sat
looking into the moonlight, and the day that had begun so stormily ended
in kindness between them.

The next morning Mrs. Lander did not wish to go out, and she sent
Clementina and Hinkle together as a proof that they were all on good
terms again.  She did not spare the girl this explanation in his
presence, and when they were in the gondola he felt that he had to say,
"I was afraid you might think I was rather meddlesome yesterday."

"Oh, no," she answered.  "I was glad you did."

"Yes," he returned, "I thought you would be afterwards."  He looked at
her wistfully with his slanted eyes and his odd twisted smile and they
both gave way in the same conscious laugh.  "What I like," he explained
further, "is to be understood when I've said something that doesn't mean
anything, don't you?  You know anybody can understand you if you really
mean something; but most of the time you don't, and that's when a friend
is useful.  I wish you'd call on me if you're ever in that fix."

"Oh, I will, Mr. Hinkle," Clementina promised, gayly.

"Thank you," he said, and her gayety seemed to turn him graver.  "Miss
Clementina, might I go a little further in this direction, without
danger?"

"What direction?" she added, with a flush of sudden alarm.

"Mrs. Lander."

"Why, suttainly!" she answered, in quick relief.

"I wish you'd let me do some of the worrying about her for you, while I'm
here.  You know I haven't got anything else to do!"

"Why, I don't believe I worry much.  I'm afraid I fo'get about her when
I'm not with her.  That's the wo'st of it."

"No, no," he entreated, "that's the best of it.  But I want to do the
worrying for you even when you're with her.  Will you let me?"

"Why, if you want to so very much."

"Then it's settled," he said, dismissing the subject.

But she recurred to it with a lingering compunction.

"I presume that I don't remember how sick she is because I've neva been
sick at all, myself."

"Well," he returned, "You needn't be sorry for that altogether.  There
are worse things than being well, though sick people don't always think
so.  I've wasted a good deal of time the other way, though I've reformed,
now."

They went on to talk about themselves; sometimes they talked about
others, in excursions which were more or less perfunctory, and were
merely in the way of illustration or instance.  She got so far in one of
these as to speak of her family, and he seemed to understand them.  He
asked about them all, and he said he believed in her father's unworldly
theory of life.  He asked her if they thought at home that she was like
her father, and he added, as if it followed, "I'm the worldling of my
family.  I was the youngest child, and the only boy in a flock of girls.
That always spoils a boy."

"Are you spoiled?"  she asked.

"Well, I'm afraid they'd be surprised if I didn't come to grief somehow--
all but--mother; she expects I'll be kept from harm."

"Is she religious?"

"Yes, she's a Moravian.  Did you ever hear of them?"  Clementina shook
her head.  "They're something, like the Quakers, and something like the
Methodists.  They don't believe in war; but they have bishops."

"And do you belong to her church?"

"No," said the young man.  "I wish I did, for her sake.  I don't belong to
any.  Do you?"

"No, I go to the Episcopal, at home.  Perhaps I shall belong sometime.
But I think that is something everyone must do for themselves."  He
looked a little alarmed at the note of severity in her voice, and she
explained.  "I mean that if you try to be religious for anything besides
religion, it isn't being religious;--and no one else has any right to ask
you to be."

"Oh, that's what I believe, too," he said, with comic relief.  "I didn't
know but I'd been trying to convert you without knowing it."  They both
laughed, and were then rather seriously silent.

He asked, after a moment, in a fresh beginning, "Have you heard from Miss
Milray since you left Florence?"

"Oh, yes, didn't I tell you?  She's coming here in June."

"Well, she won't have the pleasure of seeing me, then.  I'm going the
last of May."

"I thought you were going to stay a month!" she protested.

"That will be a month; and more, too."

"So it will," she owned.

"I'm glad it doesn't seem any longer-say a year--Miss Clementina!"

"Oh, not at all," she returned.  "Miss Milray's brother and his wife are
coming with her.  They've been in Egypt."

"I never saw them," said Hinkle.  He paused, before he added, "Well, it
would seem rather crowded after they get here, I suppose," and he
laughed, while Clementina said nothing.




XXX.

Hinkle came every morning now, to smoothe out the doubts and difficulties
that had accumulated in Mrs. Lander's mind over night, and incidentally
to propose some pleasure for Clementina, who could feel that he was
pitying her in her slavery to the sick woman's whims, and yet somehow
entreating her to bear them.  He saw them together in what Mrs. Lander
called her well days; but there were other days when he saw Clementina
alone, and then she brought him word from Mrs. Lander, and reported his
talk to her after he went away.  On one of these she sent him a
cheerfuller message than usual, and charged the girl to explain that she
was ever so much better, but had not got up because she felt that every
minute in bed was doing her good.  Clementina carried back his regrets
and congratulation, and then told Mrs. Lander that he had asked her to go
out with him to see a church, which he was sorry Mrs. Lander could not
see too.  He professed to be very particular about his churches, for he
said he had noticed that they neither of them had any great gift for
sights, and he had it on his conscience to get the best for them.  He
told Clementina that the church he had for them now could not be better
if it had been built expressly for them, instead of having been used as a
place of worship for eight or ten generations of Venetians before they
came.  She gave his invitation to Mrs. Lander, who could not always be
trusted with his jokes, and she received it in the best part.

"Well, you go!" she said.  "Maddalena can look after me, I guess.  He's
the only one of the fellas, except that lo'd, that I'd give a cent for."
She added, with a sudden lapse from her pleasure in Hinkle to her
severity with Clementina, "But you want to be ca'eful what you' doin'."

"Ca'eful?"

"Yes!--About Mr. Hinkle.  I a'n't agoin' to have you lead him on, and
then say you didn't know where he was goin'.  I can't keep runnin' away
everywhe'e, fo' you, the way I done at Woodlake."

Clementina's heart gave a leap, whether joyful or woeful; but she
answered indignantly, "How can you say such a thing to me, Mrs. Lander.
I'm not leading him on!"

"I don't know what you call it.  You're round with him in the gondoler,
night and day, and when he's he'e, you'a settin' with him half the time
on the balcony, and it's talk, talk, the whole while."  Clementina took
in the fact with silent recognition, and Mrs. Lander went on.  "I ain't
sayin' anything against it.  He's the only one I don't believe is afta
the money he thinks you'a goin' to have; but if you don't want him, you
want to look what you're about."

The girl returned to Hinkle in the embarrassment which she was helpless
to hide, and without the excuse which she could not invent for refusing
to go with him.  "Is Mrs. Lander worse--or anything?" he asked.

"Oh, no.  She's quite well," said Clementina; but she left it for him to
break the constraint in which they set out.  He tried to do so at
different points, but it seemed to close upon them--the more inflexibly.
At last he asked, as they were drawing near the church, "Have you ever
seen anything of Mr. Belsky since you left Florence?"

"No," she said, with a nervous start.  "What makes you ask?"

"I don't know.  But you see nearly everybody again that you meet in your
travels.  That friend of his--that Mr. Gregory--he seems to have dropped
out, too.  I believe you told me you used to know him in America."

"Yes," she answered, briefly; she could not say more; and Hinkle went on.
"It seemed to me, that as far as I could make him out, he was about as
much of a crank in his way as the Russian.  It's curious, but when you
were talking about religion, the other day, you made me think of him!"
The blood went to Clementina's heart.  "I don't suppose you had him in
mind, but what you said fitted him more than anyone I know of.  I could
have almost believed that he had been trying to convert you!" She stared
at him, and he laughed.  "He tackled me one day there in Florence all of
a sudden, and I didn't know what to say, exactly.  Of course, I respected
his earnestness; but I couldn't accept his view of things and I tried to
tell him so.  I had to say just where I stood, and why, and I mentioned
some books that helped to get me there.  He said he never read anything
that went counter to his faith; and I saw that he didn't want to save me,
so much as be wanted to convince me.  He didn't know it, and I didn't
tell him that I knew it, but I got him to let me drop the subject.  He
seems to have been left over from a time when people didn't reason about
their beliefs, but only argued.  I didn't think there was a man like that
to be found so late in the century, especially a young man.  But that was
just where I was mistaken.  If there was to be a man of that kind at all,
it would have to be a young one.  He'll be a good deal opener-minded when
he's older.  He was conscientious; I could see that; and he did take the
Russian's death to heart as long as he was dead.  But I'd like to talk
with him ten years from now; he wouldn't be where he is."

Clementina was still silent, and she walked up the church steps from the
gondola without the power to speak.  She made no show of interest in the
pictures and statues; she never had really cared much for such things,
and now his attempts to make her look at them failed miserably.  When
they got back again into the boat he began, "Miss Clementina, I'm afraid
I oughtn't to have spoken as I did of that Mr. Gregory.  If he is a
friend of yours"--

"He is," she made herself answer.

"I didn't mean anything against him.  I hope you don't think I wanted to
be unfair?"

"You were not unfair.  But I oughtn't to have let you say it, Mr. Hinkle.
I want to tell you something--I mean, I must"--She found herself panting
and breathless.  "You ought to know it--Mr. Gregory is--I mean we are"--

She stopped and she saw that she need not say more.

In the days that followed before the time that Hinkle had $xed to leave
Venice, he tried to come as he had been coming, to see Mrs. Lander, but
he evaded her when she wished to send him out with Clementina.  His
quaintness had a heartache in it for her; and he was boyishly simple in
his failure to hide his suffering.  He had no explicit right to suffer,
for he had asked nothing and been denied nothing, but perhaps for this
reason she suffered the more keenly for him.

A senseless resentment against Gregory for spoiling their happiness crept
into her heart; and she wished to show Hinkle how much she valued his
friendship at any risk and any cost.  When this led her too far she took
herself to task with a severity which hurt him too.  In the midst of the
impulses on which she acted, there were times when she had a confused
longing to appeal to him for counsel as to how she ought to behave toward
him.

There was no one else whom she could appeal to.  Mrs. Lander, after her
first warning, had not spoken of him again, though Clementina could feel
in the grimness with which she regarded her variable treatment of him
that she was silently hoarding up a sum of inculpation which would crush
her under its weight when it should fall upon her.  She seemed to be
growing constantly better, now, and as the interval since her last attack
widened behind her, she began to indulge her appetite with a recklessness
which Clementina, in a sense of her own unworthiness, was helpless to
deal with.  When she ventured to ask her once whether she ought to eat of
something that was very unwholesome for her, Mrs. Lander answered that
she had taken her case into her own hands, now, for she knew more about
it than all the doctors.  She would thank Clementina not to bother about
her; she added that she was at least not hurting anybody but herself, and
she hoped Clementina would always be able to say as much.

Clementina wished that Hinkle would go away, but not before she had
righted herself with him, and he lingered his month out, and seemed as
little able to go as she to let him.  She had often to be cheerful for
both, when she found it too much to be cheerful for herself.  In his
absence she feigned free and open talks with him, and explained
everything, and experienced a kind of ghostly comfort in his imagined
approval and forgiveness, but in his presence, nothing really happened
except the alternation of her kindness and unkindness, in which she was
too kind and then too unkind.

The morning of the' day he was at last to leave Venice, he came to say
good bye.  He did not ask for Mrs. Lander, when the girl received him,
and he did not give himself time to lose courage before he began, "Miss
Clementina, I don't know whether I ought to speak to you after what I
understood you to mean about Mr. Gregory."  He looked steadfastly at her
but she did not answer, and he went on.  "There's just one chance in a
million, though, that I didn't understand you rightly, and I've made up
my mind that I want to take that chance.  May I?" She tried to speak,
but she could not.  "If I was wrong--if there was nothing between you and
him--could there ever be anything beween you and me?"

His pleading looks entreated her even more than his words.

"There was something," she answered, "with him."

"And I mustn't know what," the young man said patiently.

"Yes--yes!" she returned eagerly.  "Oh, yes!  I want you to know--I want
to tell you.  I was only sixteen yea's old, and he said that he oughtn't
to have spoken; we were both too young.  But last winta he spoke again.
He said that he had always felt bound"--She stopped, and he got infirmly
to his feet.  "I wanted to tell you from the fust, but"--

"How could you?  You couldn't.  I haven't anything more to say, if you
are bound to him."

"He is going to be a missionary and he wanted me to say that I would
believe just as he did; and I couldn't.  But I thought that it would come
right; and--yes, I felt bound to him, too.  That is all--I can't explain
it!"

"Oh, I understand!" he returned, listlessly.

"And do you blame me for not telling before?"  She made an involuntary
movement toward him, a pathetic gesture which both entreated and
compassionated.

"There's nobody to blame.  You have tried to do just right by me, as well
as him.  Well, I've got my answer.  Mrs. Lander--can I"--

"Why, she isn't up yet, Mr. Hinkle."  Clementina put all her pain for him
into the expression of their regret.

"Then I'll have to leave my good-bye for her with you.  I don't believe I
can come back again."  He looked round as if he were dizzy.  "Good-bye,"
he said, and offered his hand.  It was cold as clay.

When he was gone, Clementina went into Mrs: Lander's room, and gave her
his message.

"Couldn't he have come back this aftanoon to see me, if he ain't goin'
till five?" she demanded jealously.

"He said he couldn't come back," Clementina answered sadly.

The woman turned her head on her pillow and looked at the girl's face.
"Oh!" she said for all comment.




XXXI.

The Milrays came a month later, to seek a milder sun than they had left
burning in Florence.  The husband and wife had been sojourning there
since their arrival from Egypt, but they had not been his sister's
guests, and she did not now pretend to be of their party, though the same
train, even the same carriage, had brought her to Venice with them.  They
went to a hotel, and Miss Milray took lodgings where she always spent her
Junes, before going to the Tyrol for the summer.

"You are wonderfully improved, every way," Mrs. Milray said to Clementina
when they met.  "I knew you would be, if Miss Milray took you in hand;
and I can see she has.  What she doesn't know about the world isn't worth
knowing!  I hope she hasn't made you too worldly?  But if she has, she's
taught you how to keep from showing it; you're just as innocent-looking
as ever, and that's the main thing; you oughtn't to lose that.  You
wouldn't dance a skirt dance now before a ship's company, but if you did,
no one would suspect that you knew any better.  Have you forgiven me,
yet?  Well, I didn't use you very well, Clementina, and I never pretended
I did.  I've eaten a lot of humble pie for that, my dear.  Did Miss
Milray tell you that I wrote to her about it?  Of course you won't say
how she told you; but she ought to have done me the justice to say that I
tried to be a friend at court with her for you.  If she didn't, she
wasn't fair."

"She neva said anything against you, Mrs. Milray," Clementina answered.

"Discreet as ever, my dear!  I understand!  And I hope you understand
about that old affair, too, by this time.  It was a complication.  I had
to get back at Lioncourt somehow; and I don't honestly think now that his
admiration for a young girl was a very wholesome thing for her.  But
never mind.  You had that Boston goose in Florence, too, last winter,
and I suppose he gobbled up what little Miss Milray had left of me.  But
she's charming.  I could go down on my knees to her art when she really
tries to finish any one."

Clementina noticed that Mrs. Milray had got a new way of talking.  She
had a chirpiness, and a lift in her inflections, which if it was not
exactly English was no longer Western American.  Clementina herself in
her association with Hinkle had worn off her English rhythm, and in her
long confinement to the conversation of Mrs. Lander, she had reverted to
her clipped Yankee accent.  Mrs. Milray professed to like it, and said it
brought back so delightfully those pleasant days at Middlemount, when
Clementina really was a child.  "I met somebody at Cairo, who seemed very
glad to hear about you, though he tried to seem not.  Can you guess who
it was?  I see that you never could, in the world!  We got quite chummy
one day, when we were going out to the pyramids together, and he gave
himself away, finely.  He's a simple soul!  But when they're in love
they're all so!  It was a little queer, colloguing with the ex-headwaiter
on society terms; but the head-waitership was merely an episode, and the
main thing is that he is very talented, and is going to be a minister.
It's a pity he's so devoted to his crazy missionary scheme.  Some one
ought to get hold of him, and point him in the direction of a rich New
York congregation.  He'd find heathen enough among them, and he could do
the greatest amount of good with their money; I tried to talk it into
him.  I suppose you saw him in Florence, this spring?"  she suddenly
asked.

"Yes," Clementina answered briefly.

"And you didn't make it up together.  I got that much out of Miss Milray.
Well, if he were here, I should find out why.  But I don't suppose you
would tell me."  She waited a moment to see if Clementina would, and then
she said, "It's a pity, for I've a notion I could help you, and I think I
owe you a good turn, for the way I behaved about your dance.  But if you
don't want my help, you don't."

"I would say so if I did, Mrs. Milray," said Clementina.  "I was hu't,
at the time; but I don't care anything for it, now.  I hope you won't
think about it any more!"

"Thank you," said Mrs. Milray, "I'll try not to," and she laughed.  "But
I should like to do something to prove my repentance."

Clementina perceived that for some reason she would rather have more than
less cause for regret; and that she was mocking her; but she was without
the wish or the power to retaliate, and she did not try to fathom Mrs.
Milray's motives.  Most motives in life, even bad motives, lie nearer the
surface than most people commonly pretend, and she might not have had to
dig deeper into Mrs. Milray's nature for hers than that layer of her
consciousness where she was aware that Clementina was a pet of her
sister-in-law.  For no better reason she herself made a pet of Mrs.
Lander, whose dislike of Miss Milray was not hard to divine, and whose
willingness to punish her through Clementina was akin to her own.  The
sick woman was easily flattered back into her first belief in Mrs. Milray
and accepted her large civilities and small services as proof of her
virtues.  She began to talk them into Clementina, and to contrast them
with the wicked principles and actions of Miss Milray.

The girl had forgiven Mrs. Milray, but she could not go back to any trust
in her; and she could only passively assent to her praise.  When Mrs.
Lander pressed her for anything more explicit she said what she thought,
and then Mrs. Lander accused her of hating Mrs. Milray, who was more her
friend than some that flattered her up for everything, and tried to make
a fool of her.

"I undastand now," she said one day, "what that recta meant by wantin' me
to make life ba'd for you; he saw how easy you was to spoil.  Miss Milray
is one to praise you to your face, and disgrace you be hind your back,
and so I tell you.  When Mrs. Milray thought you done wrong she come and
said so; and you can't forgive her."

Clementina did not answer.  She had mastered the art of reticence in her
relations with Mrs. Lander, and even when Miss Milray tempted her one day
to give way, she still had strength to resist.  But she could not deny
that Mrs. Lander did things at times to worry her, though she ended
compassionately with the reflection: "She's sick."

"I don't think she's very sick, now," retorted her friend.

"No; that's the reason she's so worrying.  When she's really sick, she's
betta."

"Because she's frightened, I suppose.  And how long do you propose to
stand it?

"I don't know," Clementina listlessly answered.

"She couldn't get along without me.  I guess I can stand it till we go
home; she says she is going home in the fall."

Miss Milray sat looking at the girl a moment.

"Shall you be glad to go home?"

"Oh yes, indeed!"

"To that place in the woods?"

"Why, yes!  What makes you ask?"

"Nothing.  But Clementina, sometimes I think you don't quite understand
yourself.  Don't you know that you are very pretty and very charming?
I've told you that often enough!  But shouldn't you like to be a great
success in the world?  Haven't you ever thought of that?  Don't you care
for society?"

The girl sighed.  "Yes, I think that's all very nice I did ca'e, one
while, there in Florence, last winter!"

"My dear, you don't know how much you were admired.  I used to tell you,
because I saw there was no spoiling you; but I never told you half.  If
you had only had the time for it you could have been the greatest sort of
success; you were formed for it.  It wasn't your beauty alone; lots of
pretty girls don't make anything of their beauty; it was your
temperament.  You took things easily and naturally, and that's what the
world likes.  It doesn't like your being afraid of it, and you were not
afraid, and you were not bold; you were just right."  Miss Milray grew
more and more exhaustive in her analysis, and enjoyed refining upon it.
"All that you needed was a little hard-heartedness, and that would have
come in time; you would have learned how to hold your own, but the chance
was snatched from you by that old cat!  I could weep over you when I
think how you have been wasted on her, and now you're actually willing to
go back and lose yourself in the woods!"

"I shouldn't call it being lost, Miss Milray."

"I don't mean that, and you must excuse me, my dear.  But surely your
people--your father and mother--would want to have you get on in the
world--to make a brilliant match"--

Clementina smiled to think how far such a thing was from their
imaginations.  "I don't believe they would ca'e.  You don't undastand
about them, and I couldn't make you.  Fatha neva liked the notion of my
being with such a rich woman as Mrs. Lander, because it would look as if
we wanted her money."

"I never could have imagined that of you, Clementina!"

"I didn't think you could," said the girl gratefully.  "But now, if I
left her when she was sick and depended on me, it would look wohse, yet--
as if I did it because she was going to give her money to Mr. Landa's
family.  She wants to do that, and I told her to; I think that would be
right; don't you?"

"It would be right for you, Clementina, if you preferred it--and--I
should prefer it.  But it wouldn't be right for her.  She has given you
hopes--she has made promises--she has talked to everybody."

"I don't ca'e for that.  I shouldn't like to feel beholden to any one,
and I think it really belongs to his relations; it was HIS."

Miss Milray did not say anything to this.  She asked, "And if you went
back, what would you do there?  Labor in the fields, as poor little
Belsky advised?"

Clementina laughed.  "No; but I expect you'll think it's almost as crazy.
You know how much I like dancing?  Well, I think I could give dancing
lessons at the Middlemount.  There are always a good many children, and
girls that have not grown up, and I guess I could get pupils enough, as
long as the summa lasted; and come winter, I'm not afraid but what I
could get them among the young folks at the Center.  I used to teach them
before I left home."

Miss Milray sat looking at her.  "I don't know about such things; but it
sounds sensible--like everything about you, my dear.  It sounds queer,
perhaps because you're talking of such a White Mountain scheme here in
Venice."

"Yes, don't it?" said Clementina, sympathetically.  "I was thinking of
that, myself.  But I know I could do it.  I could go round to different
hotels, different days.  Yes, I should like to go home, and they would be
glad to have me.  You can't think how pleasantly we live; and we're
company enough for each other.  I presume I should miss the things I've
got used to ova here, at fust; but I don't believe I should care a great
while.  I don't deny but what the wo'ld is nice; but you have to pay for
it; I don't mean that you would make me"--

"No, no!  We understand each other.  Go on!"

Miss Milray leaned towards her and pressed the girl's arm reassuringly.

As often happens with people when they are told to go on, Clementina
found that she had not much more to say.  "I think I could get along in
the wo'ld, well enough.  Yes, I believe I could do it.  But I wasn't bohn
to it, and it would be a great deal of trouble--a great deal moa than if
I had been bohn to it.  I think it would be too much trouble.  I would
rather give it up and go home, when Mrs. Landa wants to go back."

Miss Milray did not speak for a time.  "I know that you are serious,
Clementina; and you're wise always, and good"--

"It isn't that, exactly," said Clementina.  "But is it--I don't know how
to express it very well--is it wo'th while?"

Miss Milray looked at her as if she doubted the girl's sincerity.  Even
when the world, in return for our making it our whole life, disappoints
and defeats us with its prizes, we still question the truth of those who
question the value of these prizes; we think they must be hopeless of
them, or must be governed by some interest momentarily superior.

Clementina pursued, "I know that you have had all you wanted of the
wo'ld"--

"Oh, no!"  the woman broke out, almost in anguish.  "Not what I wanted!
What I tried for.  It never gave me what I wanted.  It--couldn't!"

"Well?"

"It isn't worth while in that sense.  But if you can't have what you
want,--if there's been a hollow left in your life--why the world goes a
great way towards filling up the aching void."  The tone of the last
words was lighter than their meaning, but Clementina weighed them aright.

"Miss Milray," she said, pinching the edge of the table by which she sat,
a little nervously, and banging her head a little, "I think I can have
what I want."  Then, give the whole world for it, child!"

"There is something I should like to tell you."

"Yes!"

"For you to advise me about."

"I will, my dear, gladly and truly!"

"He was here before you came.  He asked me"--

Miss Milray gave a start of alarm.  She said, to gain time: "How did he
get here?  I supposed he was in Germany with his"--

"No; he was here the whole of May."

"Mr. Gregory!"

"Mr. Gregory?"  Clementina's face flushed and drooped Still lower.
"I meant Mr. Hinkle.  But if you think I oughtn't"--

"I don't think anything; I'm so glad!  I supposed from what you said
about the world, that it must be--But if it isn't, all the better.  If
it's Mr. Hinkle that you can have"--

"I'm not sure I can.  I should like to tell you just how it is, and then
you will know."  It needed fewer words for this than she expected, and
then Clementina took a letter from her pocket, and gave it to Miss
Milray.  "He wrote it on the train, going away, and it's not very plain;
but I guess you can make it out."

Miss Milray received the penciled leaves, which seemed to be pages torn
out of a note-book.  They were dated the day Hinkle left Venice, and the
envelope bore the postmark of Verona.  They were not addressed, but began
abruptly: "I believe I have made a mistake; I ought not to have given you
up till I knew something that no one but you can tell me.  You are not
bound to any body unless you wish to be so.  That is what I see now, and
I will not give you up if I can help it.  Even if you had made a promise,
and then changed your mind, you would not be bound in such a thing as
this.  I say this, and I know you will not believe I say it because I
want you.  I do want you, but I would not urge you to break your faith.
I only ask you to realize that if you kept your word when your heart had
gone out of it, you would be breaking your faith; and if you broke your
word you would be keeping your faith.  But if your heart is still in your
word, I have no more to say.  Nobody knows but you.  I would get out and
take the first train back to Venice if it were not for two things.  I
know it would be hard on me; and I am afraid it might be hard on you.
But if you will write me a line at Milan, when you get this, or if you
will write to me at London before July; or at New York at any time--for I
expect to wait as long as I live"--

The letter ended here in the local addresses which the writer gave.

Miss Milray handed the leaves back to Clementina, who put them into her
pocket, and apparently waited for her questions.

"And have you written?"

"No," said the girl, slowly and thoughtfully, "I haven't.  I wanted to,
at fust; and then, I thought that if he truly meant what he said he would
be willing to wait."

"And why did you want to wait?"

Clementina replied with a question of her own.  "Miss Milray, what do you
think about Mr. Gregory?"

"Oh, you mustn't ask me that, my dear!  I was afraid I had told you too
plainly, the last time."

"I don't mean about his letting me think he didn't ca'e for me, so long.
But don't you think he wants to do what is right!  Mr. Gregory, I mean."

"Well, if you put me on my honor, I'm afraid I do."

"You see," Clementina resumed.  "He was the fust one, and I did ca'e for
him a great deal; and I might have gone on caring for him, if--When I
found out that I didn't care any longer, or so much, it seemed to me as
if it must be wrong.  Do you think it was?"

"No-no."

"When I got to thinking about some one else at fust it was only not
thinking about him--I was ashamed.  Then I tried to make out that I was
too young in the fust place, to know whether I really ca'ed for any one
in the right way; but after I made out that I was, I couldn't feel
exactly easy--and I've been wanting to ask you, Miss Milray"--

"Ask me anything you like, my dear!"

"Why, it's only whether a person ought eva to change."

"We change whether we ought, or not.  It isn't a matter of duty, one way
or another."

"Yes, but ought we to stop caring for somebody, when perhaps we shouldn't
if somebody else hadn't come between?  That is the question."

"No," Miss Milray retorted, "that isn't at all the question.  The
question is which you want and whether you could get him.  Whichever you
want most it is right for you to have."

"Do you truly think so?"

"I do, indeed.  This is the one thing in life where one may choose safest
what one likes best; I mean if there is nothing bad in the man himself."

"I was afraid it would be wrong!  That was what I meant by wanting to be
fai'a with Mr. Gregory when I told you about him there in Florence.  I
don't believe but what it had begun then."

"What had begun?"

"About Mr. Hinkle."

Miss Milray burst into a laugh.  "Clementina, you're delicious!"
The girl looked hurt, and Miss Milray asked seriously, "Why do you like
Mr. Hinkle best--if you do?"

Clementina sighed.  "Oh, I don't know.  He's so resting."

"Then that settles it.  From first to last, what we poor women want is
rest.  It would be a wicked thing for you to throw your life away on some
one who would worry you out of it.  I don't wish to say any thing against
Mr. Gregory.  I dare say be is good--and conscientious; but life is a
struggle, at the best, and it's your duty to take the best chance for
resting."

Clementina did not look altogether convinced, whether it was Miss
Milray's logic or her morality that failed to convince her.  She said,
after a moment, "I should like to see Mr. Gregory again."

"What good would that do?"

"Why, then I should know."

"Know what?"

"Whether I didn't really ca'e for him any more--or so much."

"Clementina," said Miss Milray, "you mustn't make me lose patience with
you"--

"No.  But I thought you said that it was my duty to do what I wished."

"Well, yes.  That is what I said," Miss Milray consented.  "But I
supposed that you knew already."

"No," said Clementina, candidly, "I don't believe I do."

"And what if you don't see him?"

"I guess I shall have to wait till I do.  The'e will be time enough."

Miss Milray sighed, and then she laughed.  "You ARE young!"




XXXII.

Miss Milray went from Clementina to call upon her sister-in-law, and
found her brother, which was perhaps what she hoped might happen.

"Do you know," she said, "that that old wretch is going to defraud that
poor thing, after all, and leave her money to her husband's half-sister's
children?"

"You wish me to infer the Mrs. Lander--Clementina situation?"  Milray
returned.

"Yes!"

"I'm glad you put it in terms that are not actionable, then; for your
words are decidedly libellous."

"What do you mean?"

"I've just been writing Mrs. Lander's will for her, and she's left all
her property to Clementina, except five thousand apiece to the half-
sister's three children."

"I can't believe it!"

"Well," said Milray, with his gentle smile, "I think that's safe ground
for you.  Mrs. Lander will probably have time enough to change her will
as well as her mind several times yet before she dies.  The half-sister's
children may get their rights yet."

"I wish they might!" said Miss Milray, with an impassioned sigh.  "Then
perhaps I should get Clementina--for a while."

Her brother laughed.  "Isn't there somebody else wants Clementina?

"Oh, plenty.  But she's not sure she wants anybody else."

"Does she want you?"

"No, I can't say she does.  She wants to go home."

"That's not a bad scheme.  I should like to go home myself if I had one.
What would you have done with Clementina if you had got her, Jenny?"

"What would any one have done with her?  Married her brilliantly, of
course."

"But you say she isn't sure she wishes to be married at all?"

Miss Milray stated the case of Clementina's divided mind, and her belief
that she would take Hinkle in the end, together with the fear that she
might take Gregory.  "She's very odd," Miss Milray concluded.  "She
puzzles me.  Why did you ever send her to me?"

Milray laughed.  "I don't know.  I thought she would amuse you, and I
thought it would be a pleasure to her."

They began to talk of some affairs of their own, from which Miss Milray
returned to Clementina with the ache of an imperfectly satisfied
intention.  If she had meant to urge her brother to seek justice for the
girl from Mrs. Lander, she was not so well pleased to have found justice
done already.  But the will had been duly signed and witnessed before the
American vice-consul, and she must get what good she could out of an
accomplished fact.  It was at least a consolation to know that it put an
end to her sister-in-law's patronage of the girl, and it would be
interesting to see Mrs. Milray adapt her behavior to Clementina's
fortunes.  She did not really dislike her sister-in-law enough to do her
a wrong; she was only willing that she should do herself a wrong.
But one of the most disappointing things in all hostile operations is
that you never can know what the enemy would be at; and Mrs. Milray's
manoevres were sometimes dictated by such impulses that her strategy was
peculiarly baffling.  The thought of her past unkindness to Clementina
may still have rankled in her, or she may simply have felt the need of
outdoing Miss Milray by an unapproachable benefaction.  It is certain
that when Baron Belsky came to Venice a few weeks after her own arrival,
they began to pose at each other with reference to Clementina; she with
a measure of consciousness, he with the singleness of a nature that was
all pose.  In his forbearance to win Clementina from Gregory he had
enjoyed the distinction of an unique suffering; and in allowing the fact
to impart itself to Mrs. Milray, he bathed in the warmth of her
flattering sympathy.  Before she withdrew this, as she must when she got
tired of him, she learned from him where Gregory was; for it seemed that
Gregory had so far forgiven the past that they had again written to each
other.

During the fortnight of Belsky's stay in Venice Mrs. Lander was much
worse, and Clementina met him only once, very briefly--She felt that he
had behaved like a very silly person, but that was all over now, and she
had no wish to punish him for it.  At the end of his fortnight he went
northward into the Austrian Tyrol, and a few days later Gregory came down
from the Dolomites to Venice.

It was in his favor with Clementina that he yielded to the impulse he had
to come directly to her; and that he let her know with the first words
that he had acted upon hopes given him through Belsky from Mrs. Milray.
He owned that he doubted the authority of either to give him these hopes,
but he said he could not abandon them without a last effort to see her,
and learn from her whether they were true or false.

If she recognized the design of a magnificent reparation in what Mrs.
Milray had done, she did not give it much thought.  Her mind was upon
distant things as she followed Gregory's explanation of his presence,
and in the muse in which she listened she seemed hardly to know when he
ceased speaking.

"I know it must seem to take something for granted which I've no right to
take for granted.  I don't believe you could think that I cared for
anything but you, or at all for what Mrs. Lander has done for you."

"Do you mean her leaving me her money?" asked Clementina, with that
boldness her sex enjoys concerning matters of finance and affection.

"Yes," said Gregory, blushing for her.  "As far as I should ever have a
right to care, I could wish there were no money.  It could bring no
blessing to our life.  We could do no good with it; nothing but the
sacrifice of ourselves in poverty could be blessed to us."

"That is what I thought, too," Clementina replied.

"Oh, then you did think"--

"But afterwards, I changed my Mind.  If she wants to give me her money I
shall take it."

Gregory was blankly silent again.

"I shouldn't know how to refuse, and I don't know as I should have any
right to.  Gregory shrank a little from her reyankeefied English, as well
as from the apparent cynicism of her speech; but he shrank in silence
still.  She startled him by asking with a kindness that was almost
tenderness, "Mr. Gregory, how do you think anything has changed?"

"Changed?"

"You know how it was when you went away from Florence.  Do you think
differently now?  I don't.  I don't think I ought to do something for
you, and pretend that I was doing it for religion.  I don't believe the
way you do; and I know I neva shall.  Do you want me in spite of my
saying that I can neva help you in your work because I believe in it?"

"But if you believe in me"--

She shook her bead compassionately.  "You know we ahgued that out before.
We are just whe'e we were.  I am sorry.  Nobody had any right to tell you
to come he'e.  But I am glad you came--"She saw the hope that lighted up
his face, but she went on unrelentingly--"I think we had betta be free."

"Free?"

"Yes, from each other.  I don't know how you have felt, but I have not
felt free.  It has seemed to me that I promised you something.  If I did,
I want to take my promise back and be free."

Her frankness appealed to his own.  "You are free.  I never held you
bound to me in my fondest hopes.  You have always done right."

"I have tried to.  And I am not going to let you go away thinking that
the reason I said is the only reason.  It isn't.  I wish to be free
because--there is some one else, now."  It was hard to tell him this,
but she knew that she must not do less; and the train that carried him
from Venice that night bore a letter from her to Hinkle.




XXXIII.

Clementina told Miss Milray what had happened, but with Mrs. Milray the
girl left the sudden departure of Gregory to account for itself.

They all went a week later, and Mrs. Milray having now done her whole
duty to Clementina had the easiest mind concerning her.  Miss Milray felt
that she was leaving her to greater trials than ever with Mrs. Lander;
but since there was nothing else, she submitted, as people always do with
the trials of others, and when she was once away she began to forget her.

By this time, however, it was really better for her.  With no one to
suspect of tampering with her allegiance, Mrs. Lander returned to her
former fondness for the girl, and they were more peaceful if not happier
together again.  They had long talks, such as they used to have, and in
the first of these Clementina told her how and why she had written to
Mr. Hinkle.  Mrs. Lander said that it suited her exactly.

"There ha'n't but just two men in Europe behaved like gentlemen to me,
and one is Mr. Hinkle, and the other is that lo'd; and between the two I
ratha you'd have Mr. Hinkle; I don't know as I believe much in American
guls marryin' lo'ds, the best of 'em."

Clementina laughed.  "Why, Mrs. Landa, Lo'd Lioncou't never thought of me
in the wo'ld!"

"You can't eva know.  Mrs. Milray was tellin' that he's what they call a
pooa lo'd, and that he was carryin' on with the American girls like
everything down there in Egypt last winta.  I guess if it comes to money
you'd have enough to buy him and sell him again."

The mention of money cast a chill upon their talk; and Mrs. Lander said
gloomily, "I don't know as I ca'e so much for that will Mr. Milray made
for me, after all.  I did want to say ten thousand apiece for Mr. Landa's
relations; but I hated to befo'e him; I'd told the whole kit of 'em so
much about you, and I knew what they would think."

She looked at Clementina with recurring grudge, and the girl could not
bear it.

"Then why don't you tear it up, and make another?  I don't want anything,
unless you want me to have it; and I'd ratha not have anything."

"Yes, and what would folks say, afta youa taken' care of me?"

"Do you think I do it fo' that?"

"What do you do it fo'?"

"What did you want me to come with you fo'?"

"That's true."  Mrs. Lander brightened and warmed again.  "I guess it's
all right.  I guess I done right, and I got to be satisfied.  I presume I
could get the consul to make me a will any time."

Clementina did not relent so easily.  "Mrs. Landa, whateva you do I don't
ca'e to know it; and if you talk to me again about this I shall go home.
I would stay with you as long as you needed me, but I can't if you keep
bringing this up."

"I suppose you think you don't need me any moa!  Betta not be too su'a."

The girl jumped to her feet, and Mrs. Lander interposed.  "Well, the'a!
I didn't mean anything, and I won't pesta you about it any moa.  But I
think it's pretty ha'd.  Who am I going to talk it ova with, then?"

"You can talk it ova with the vice-consul," paid Clementina, at random.

"Well, that's so."  Mrs. Lander let Clementina get her ready for the
night, in sign of returning amity; when she was angry with her she always
refused her help, and made her send Maddalena.

The summer heat increased, and the sick woman suffered from it, but she
could not be persuaded that she had strength to get away, though the
vice-consul, whom she advised with, used all his logic with her.  He was
a gaunt and weary widower, who described himself as being officially
between hay and grass; the consul who appointed him had resigned after
going home, and a new consul had not yet been sent out to remove him.
On what she called her well days Mrs. Lander went to visit him, and she
did not mind his being in his shirt-sleeves, in the bit of garden where
she commonly found him, with his collar and cravat off, and clouded in
his own smoke; when she was sick she sent for him, to visit her.  He made
excuses as often as she could, and if he saw Mrs. Lander's gondola coming
down the Grand Canal to his house he hurried on his cast clothing, and
escaped to the Piazza, at whatever discomfort and risk from the heat.

"I don't know how you stand it, Miss Claxon," he complained to
Clementina, as soon as he learned that she was not a blood relation of
Mrs. Lander's, and divined that she had her own reservations concerning
her.  "But that woman will be the death of me if she keeps this up.  What
does she think I'm here for?  If this goes on much longer I'll resign.
The salary won't begin to pay for it.  What am I going to do?  I don't
want to hurt her feelings, or not to help her; but I know ten times as
much about Mrs. Lander's liver as I do about my own, now."

He treated Clementina as a person of mature judgment and a sage
discretion, and he accepted what comfort she could offer him when she
explained that it was everything for Mrs. Lander to have him to talk
with.  "She gets tied of talking to me," she urged, "and there's nobody
else, now."

"Why don't she hire a valet de place, and talk to him?  I'd hire one
myself for her.  It would be a good deal cheaper for me.  It's as much as
I can do to stand this weather as it is."

The vice-consul laughed forlornly in his exasperation, but he agreed with
Clementina when she said, in further excuse, that Mrs. Lander was really
very sick.  He pushed back his hat, and scratched his head with a
grimace.

"Of course, we've got to remember she's sick, and I shall need a little
sympathy myself if she keeps on at me this way.  I believe I'll tell her
about my liver next time, and see how she likes it.  Look here, Miss
Claxon!  Couldn't we get her off to some of those German watering places
that are good for her complaints?  I believe it would be the best thing
for her--not to mention me."

Mrs. Lander was moved by the suggestion which he made in person
afterwards; it appealed to her old nomadic instinct; but when the consul
was gone she gave it up.  "We couldn't git the'e, Clementina.  I got to
stay he'e till I git up my stren'th.  I suppose you'd be glad enough to
have me sta't, now the'e's nobody he'e but me," she added, suspiciously.
"You git this scheme up, or him?"

Clementina did not defend herself, and Mrs. Lander presently came to her
defence.  "I don't believe but what he meant it fo' the best--or you,
whichever it was, and I appreciate it; but all is I couldn't git off.  I
guess this aia will do me as much good as anything, come to have it a
little coola."

They went every afternoon to the Lido, where a wheeled chair met them,
and Mrs. Lander was trundled across the narrow island to the beach.  In
the evenings they went to the Piazza, where their faces and figures had
become known, and the Venetians gossipped them down to the last fact of
their relation with an accuracy creditable to their ingenuity in the
affairs of others.  To them Mrs. Lander was the sick American, very rich,
and Clementina was her adoptive daughter, who would have her millions
after her.  Neither knew the character they bore to the amiable and
inquisitive public of the Piazza, or cared for the fine eyes that aimed
their steadfast gaze at them along the tubes of straw-barreled Virginia
cigars, or across little cups of coffee.  Mrs. Lander merely remarked
that the Venetians seemed great for gaping, and Clementina was for the
most part innocent of their stare.

She rested in the choice she had made in a content which was qualified by
no misgiving.  She was sorry for Gregory, when she remembered him; but
her thought was filled with some one else, and she waited in faith and
patience for the answer which should come to the letter she had written.
She did not know where her letter would find him, or when she should hear
from him; she believed that she should hear, and that was enough.  She
said to herself that she would not lose hope if no answer came for
months; but in her heart she fixed a date for the answer by letter, and
an earlier date for some word by cable; but she feigned that she did not
depend upon this; and when no word came she convinced herself that she
had not expected any.

It was nearing the end of the term which she had tacitly given her lover
to make the first sign by letter, when one morning Mrs. Lander woke her.
She wished to say that she had got the strength to leave Venice at last,
and she was going as soon as their trunks could be packed.  She had
dressed herself, and she moved about restless and excited.  Clementina
tried to reason her out of her haste; but she irritated her, and fixed
her in her determination.  "I want to get away, I tell you; I want to get
away," she answered all persuasion, and there seemed something in her
like the wish to escape from more than the oppressive environment, though
she spoke of nothing but the heat and the smell of the canal.  "I believe
it's that, moa than any one thing, that's kept me sick he'e," she said.
"I tell you it's the malariar, and you'll be down, too, if you stay."

She made Clementina go to the banker's, and get money to pay their
landlord's bill, and she gave him notice that they were going that
afternoon.  Clementina wished to delay till they had seen the vice-consul
and the doctor; but Mrs. Lander broke out, "I don't want to see 'em,
either of 'em.  The docta wants to keep me he'e and make money out of me;
I undastand him; and I don't believe that consul's a bit too good to take
a pussentage.  Now, don't you say a wo'd to either of 'em.  If you don't
do exactly what I tell you I'll go away and leave you he'e.  Now, will
you?"

Clementina promised, and broke her word.  She went to the vice-consul and
told him she had broken it, and she agreed with him that he had better
not come unless Mrs. Lander sent for him.  The doctor promptly imagined
the situation and said he would come in casually during the morning, so
as not to alarm the invalid's suspicions.  He owned that Mrs. Lander was
getting no good from remaining in Venice, and if it were possible for her
to go, he said she had better go somewhere into cooler and higher air.

His opinion restored him to Mrs. Lander's esteem, when it was expressed
to her, and as she was left to fix the sum of her debt to him, she made
it handsomer than anything he had dreamed of.  She held out against
seeing the vice-consul till the landlord sent in his account.  This was
for the whole month which she had just entered upon, and it included
fantastic charges for things hitherto included in the rent, not only for
the current month, but for the months past when, the landlord explained,
he had forgotten to note them.  Mrs. Lander refused to pay these demands,
for they touched her in some of those economies which the gross rich
practice amidst their profusion.  The landlord replied that she could not
leave his house, either with or without her effects, until she had paid.
He declared Clementina his prisoner, too, and he would not send for the
vice-consul at Mrs. Lander's bidding.  How far he was within his rights
in all this they could not know, but he was perhaps himself doubtful, and
he consented to let them send for the doctor, who, when he came, behaved
like anything but the steadfast friend that Mrs. Lander supposed she had
bought in him.  He advised paying the account without regard to its
justice, as the shortest and simplest way out of the trouble; but Mrs.
Lander, who saw him talking amicably and even respectfully with the
landlord, when he ought to have treated him as an extortionate scamp,
returned to her former ill opinion of him; and the vice-consul now
appeared the friend that Doctor Tradonico had falsely seemed.  The doctor
consented, in leaving her to her contempt of him, to carry a message to
the vice-consul, though he came back, with his finger at the side of his
nose, to charge her by no means to betray his bold championship to the
landlord.

The vice-consul made none of those shows of authority which Mrs. Lander
had expected of him.  She saw him even exchanging the common decencies
with the landlord, when they met; but in fact it was not hard to treat
the smiling and courteous rogue well.  In all their disagreement he had
looked as constantly to the comfort of his captives as if they had been
his chosen guests.  He sent Mrs. Lander a much needed refreshment at the
stormiest moment of her indignation, and he deprecated without retort the
denunciations aimed at him in Italian which did not perhaps carry so far
as his conscience.  The consul talked with him in a calm scarcely less
shameful than that of Dr. Tradonico; and at the end of their parley which
she had insisted upon witnessing, he said:

"Well, Mrs. Lander, you've got to stand this gouge or you've got to stand
a law suit.  I think the gouge would be cheaper in the end.  You see,
he's got a right to his month's rent."

"It ain't the rent I ca'e for: it's the candles, and the suvvice, and the
things he says we broke.  It was undastood that everything was to be in
the rent, and his two old chaias went to pieces of themselves when we
tried to pull 'em out from the wall; and I'll neva pay for 'em in the
wo'ld."

Why," the vice-consul pleaded, "it's only about forty francs for the
whole thing"--

"I don't care if it's only fotty cents.  And I must say, Mr. Bennam,
you're about the strangest vice-consul, to want me to do it, that I eva
saw."

The vice-consul laughed unresentfully.  "Well, shall I send you a
lawyer?"

"No!" Mrs. Lander retorted; and after a moment's reflection she added,
"I'm goin' to stay my month, and so you may tell him, and then I'll see
whetha he can make me pay for that breakage and the candles and suvvice.
I'm all wore out, as it is, and I ain't fit to travel, now, and I don't
know when I shall be.  Clementina, you can go and tell Maddalena to stop
packin'.  Or, no!  I'll do it."

She left the room without further notice of the consul, who said ruefully
to Clementina, "Well, I've missed my chance, Miss Claxon, but I guess
she's done the wisest thing for herself."

"Oh, yes, she's not fit to go.  She must stay, now, till it's coola.
Will you tell the landlo'd, or shall"--

"I'll tell him," said the vice-consul, and he had in the landlord.  He
received her message with the pleasure of a host whose cherished guests
have consented to remain a while longer, and in the rush of his good
feeling he offered, if the charge for breakage seemed unjust to the vice-
consul, to abate it; and since the signora had not understood that she
was to pay extra for the other things, he would allow the vice-consul to
adjust the differences between them; it was a trifle, and he wished above
all things to content the signora, for whom he professed a cordial esteem
both on his own part and the part of all his family.

"Then that lets me out for the present," said the vice-consul, when
Clementina repeated Mrs. Lander's acquiescence in the landlord's
proposals, and he took his straw hat, and called a gondola from the
nearest 'traghetto', and bargained at an expense consistent with his
salary, to have himself rowed back to his own garden-gate.

The rest of the day was an era of better feeling between Mrs. Lander and
her host than they had ever known, and at dinner he brought in with his
own hand a dish which he said he had caused to be specially made for her.
It was so tempting in odor and complexion that Mrs. Lander declared she
must taste it, though as she justly said, she had eaten too much already;
when it had once tasted it she ate it all, against Clementina's
protestations; she announced at the end that every bite had done her
good, and that she never felt better in her life.  She passed a happy
evening, with renewed faith in the air of the lagoon; her sole regret now
was that Mr. Lander had not lived to try it with her, for if he had she
was sure he would have been alive at that moment.

She allowed herself to be got to bed rather earlier than usual; before
Clementina dropped asleep she heard her breathing with long, easy, quiet
respirations, and she lost the fear of the landlord's dish which had
haunted her through the evening.  She was awakened in the morning by a
touch on her shoulder.  Maddalena hung over her with a frightened face,
and implored her to come and look at the signora, who seemed not at all
well.  Clementina ran into her room, and found her dead.  She must have
died some hours before without a struggle, for the face was that of
sleep, and it had a dignity and beauty which it had not worn in her life
of self-indulgent wilfulness for so many years that the girl had never
seen it look so before.




XXXIV.

The vice-consul was not sure how far his powers went in the situation
with which Mrs. Lander had finally embarrassed him.  But he met the new
difficulties with patience, and he agreed with Clementina that they ought
to see if Mrs. Lander had left any written expression of her wishes
concerning the event.  She had never spoken of such a chance, but had
always looked forward to getting well and going home, so far as the girl
knew, and the most careful search now brought to light nothing that bore
upon it.  In the absence of instructions to the contrary, they did what
they must, and the body, emptied of its life of senseless worry and
greedy care, was laid to rest in the island cemetery of Venice.

When all was over, the vice-consul ventured an observation which he had
hitherto delicately withheld.  The question of Mrs. Lander's kindred had
already been discussed between him and Clementina, and he now felt that
another question had duly presented itself.  "You didn't notice," he
suggested, "anything like a will when we went over the papers?"  He had
looked carefully for it, expecting that there might have been some
expression of Mrs. Lander's wishes in it.  "Because," he added, "I happen
to know that Mr. Milray drew one up for her; I witnessed it."

"No," said Clementina, "I didn't see anything of it.  She told me she had
made a will; but she didn't quite like it, and sometimes she thought she
would change it.  She spoke of getting you to do it; I didn't know but
she had."

The vice-consul shook his head.  "No.  And these relations of her
husband's up in Michigan; you don't know where they live, exactly?"

"No.  She neva told me; she wouldn't; she didn't like to talk about them;
I don't even know their names."

The vice-consul thoughtfully scratched a corner of his chin through his
beard.  "If there isn't any will, they're the heirs.  I used to be a sort
of wild-cat lawyer, and I know that much law."

"Yes," said Clementina.  "She left them five thousand dollas apiece.  She
said she wished she had made it ten."

"I guess she's made it a good deal more, if she's made it anything.  Miss
Claxon, don't you understand that if no will turns up, they come in for
all her money.

"Well, that's what I thought they ought to do," said Clementina.

"And do you understand that if that's so, you don't come in for anything?
You must excuse me for mentioning it; but she has told everybody that you
were to have it, and if there is no will"--

He stopped and bent an eye of lack-lustre compassion on the girl, who
replied, "Oh, yes.  I know that; it's what I always told her to do.  I
didn't want it."

"You didn't want it?"

"No."

"Well!"  The vice-consul stared at her, but he forbore the comment that
her indifference inspired.  He said after a pause, "Then what we've got
to do is to advertise for the Michigan relations, and let 'em take any
action they want to."

"That's the only thing we could do, I presume."

This gave the vice-consul another pause.  At the end of it he got to his
feet.  "Is there anything I can do for you, Miss Claxon?"

She went to her portfolio and produced Mrs. Lander's letter of credit.
It had been made out for three thousand pounds, in Clementina's name as
well as her own; but she had lived wastefully since she had come abroad,
and little money remained to be taken up.  With the letter Clementina
handed the vice-consul the roll of Italian and Austrian bank-notes which
she had drawn when Mrs. Lander decided to leave Venice; they were to the
amount of several thousand lire and golden.  She offered them with the
insensibility to the quality of money which so many women have, and which
is always so astonishing to men.  "What must I do with these?" she asked.

"Why, keep them! returned the vice-consul on the spur of his surprise.

"I don't know as I should have any right to," said Clementina.  "They
were hers."

"Why, but"--The vice-consul began his protest, but he could not end it
logically, and he did not end it at all.  He insisted with Clementina
that she had a right to some money which Mrs. Lander had given her during
her life; he took charge of the bank-notes in the interest of the
possible heirs, and gave her his receipt for them.  In the meantime he
felt that he ought to ask her what she expected to do.

"I think," she said, "I will stay in Venice awhile."

The vice-consul suppressed any surprise he might have felt at a decision
given with mystifying cheerfulness.  He answered, Well, that was right;
and for the second time he asked her if there was anything he could do
for her.

"Why, yes," she returned.  "I should like to stay on in the house here,
if you could speak for me to the padrone."

"I don't see why you shouldn't, if we can make the padrone understand
it's different."

"You mean about the price?"  The vice-consul nodded.  "That's what I want
you should speak to him about, Mr. Bennam, if you would.  Tell him that I
haven't got but a little money now, and he would have to make it very
reasonable.  That is, if you think it would be right for me to stay, afta
the way he tried to treat Mrs. Lander."

The vice-consul gave the point some thought, and decided that the
attempted extortion need not make any difference with Clementina, if she
could get the right terms.  He said he did not believe the padrone was a
bad fellow, but he liked to take advantage of a stranger when he could;
we all did.  When he came to talk with him he found him a man of heart if
not of conscience.  He entered into the case with the prompt intelligence
and vivid sympathy of his race, and he made it easy for Clementina to
stay till she had heard from her friends in America.  For himself and for
his wife, he professed that she could not stay too long, and they
proposed that if it would content the signorina still further they would
employ Maddalena as chambermaid till she wished to return to Florence;
she had offered to remain if the signorina stayed.

"Then that is settled," said Clementina with a sigh of relief; and she
thanked the vice-consul for his offer to write to the Milrays for her,
and said that she would rather write herself.

She meant to write as soon as she heard from Mr. Hinkle, which could not
be long now, for then she could be independent of the offers of help
which she dreaded from Miss Milray, even more than from Mrs. Milray; it
would be harder to refuse them; and she entered upon a passage of her
life which a nature less simple would have found much more trying.  But
she had the power of taking everything as if it were as much to be
expected as anything else.  If nothing at all happened she accepted the
situation with implicit resignation, and with a gayety of heart which
availed her long, and never wholly left her.

While the suspense lasted she could not write home as frankly as before,
and she sent off letters to Middlemount which treated of her delay in
Venice with helpless reticence.  They would have set another sort of
household intolerably wondering and suspecting, but she had the comfort
of knowing that her father would probably settle the whole matter by
saying that she would tell what she meant when she got round to it; and
apart from this she had mainly the comfort of the vice-consul's society.
He had little to do besides looking after her, and he employed himself
about this in daily visits which the padrone and his wife regarded as
official, and promoted with a serious respect for the vice-consular
dignity.  If the visits ended, as they often did, in a turn on the Grand
Canal, and an ice in the Piazza, they appealed to the imagination of more
sophisticated witnesses, who decided that the young American girl had
inherited the millions of the sick lady, and become the betrothed of the
vice-consul, and that they were thus passing the days of their engagement
in conformity to the American custom, however much at variance with that
of other civilizations.

This view of the affair was known to Maddalena, but not to Clementina,
who in those days went back in many things to the tradition of her life
at Middlemount.  The vice-consul was of a tradition almost as simple, and
his longer experience set no very wide interval between them.  It quickly
came to his telling her all about his dead wife and his married
daughters, and how, after his home was broken up, he thought he would
travel a little and see what that would do for him.  He confessed that it
had not done much; he was always homesick, and he was ready to go as soon
as the President sent out a consul to take his job off his hands.  He
said that he had not enjoyed himself so much since he came to Venice as
he was doing now, and that he did not know what he should do if
Clementina first got her call home.  He betrayed no curiosity as to the
peculiar circumstances of her stay, but affected to regard it as
something quite normal, and he watched over her in every way with a
fatherly as well as an official vigilance which never degenerated into
the semblance of any other feeling.  Clementina rested in his care in
entire security.  The world had quite fallen from her, or so much of it
as she had seen at Florence, and in her indifference she lapsed into life
as it was in the time before that with a tender renewal of her allegiance
to it.  There was nothing in the conversation of the vice-consul to
distract her from this; and she said and did the things at Venice that
she used to do at Middlemount, as nearly as she could; to make the days
of waiting pass more quickly, she tried to serve herself in ways that
scandalized the proud affection of Maddalena.  It was not fit for the
signorina to make her bed or sweep her room; she might sew and knit if
she would; but these other things were for servants like herself.  She
continued in the faith of Clementina's gentility, and saw her always as
she had seen her first in the brief hour of her social splendor in
Florence.  Clementina tried to make her understand how she lived at
Middlemount, but she only brought before Maddalena the humiliating image
of a contadina, which she rejected not only in Clementina's behalf, but
that of Miss Milray.  She told her that she was laughing at her, and she
was fixed in her belief when the girl laughed at that notion.  Her
poverty she easily conceived of; plenty of signorine in Italy were poor;
and she protected her in it with the duty she did not divide quite evenly
between her and the padrone.

The date which Clementina had fixed for hearing from Hinkle by cable had
long passed, and the time when she first hoped to hear from him by letter
had come and gone.  Her address was with the vice-consul as Mrs. Lander's
had been, and he could not be ignorant of her disappointment when he
brought her letters which she said were from home.  On the surface of
things it could only be from home that she wished to hear, but beneath
the surface he read an anxiety which mounted with each gratification of
this wish.  He had not seen much of the girl while Hinkle was in Venice;
Mrs. Lander had not begun to make such constant use of him until Hinkle
had gone; Mrs. Milray had told him of Clementina's earlier romance, and
it was to Gregory that the vice-consul related the anxiety which he knew
as little in its nature as in its object.

Clementina never doubted the good faith or constancy of her lover; but
her heart misgave her as to his well-being when it sank at each failure
of the vice-consul to bring her a letter from him.  Something must have
happened to him, and it must have been something very serious to keep him
from writing; or there was some mistake of the post-office.  The vice-
consul indulged himself in personal inquiries to make sure that the
mistake was not in the Venetian post-office; but he saw that he brought
her greater distress in ascertaining the fact.  He got to dreading a look
of resolute cheerfulness that came into her face, when he shook his head
in sign that there were no letters, and he suffered from the covert
eagerness with which she glanced at the superscriptions of those he
brought and failed to find the hoped-for letter among them.  Ordeal for
ordeal, he was beginning to regret his trials under Mrs. Lander.  In them
he could at least demand Clementina's sympathy, but against herself this
was impossible.  Once she noted his mute distress at hers, and broke into
a little laugh that he found very harrowing.

"I guess you hate it almost as much as I do, Mr. Bennam."

"I guess I do.  I've half a mind to write the letter you want, myself."

"I've half a mind to let you--or the letter I'd like to write."

It had come to her thinking she would write again to Hinkle; but she
could not bring herself to do it.  She often imagined doing it; she had
every word of such a letter in her mind; and she dramatized every fact
concerning it from the time she should put pen to paper, to the time when
she should get back the answer that cleared the mystery of his silence
away.  The fond reveries helped her to bear her suspense; they helped to
make the days go by, to ease the doubt with which she lay down at night,
and the heartsick hope with which she rose up in the morning.

One day, at the hour of his wonted visit, she say the vice-consul from
her balcony coming, as it seemed to her, with another figure in his
gondola, and a thousand conjectures whirled through her mind, and then
centred upon one idea.  After the first glance she kept her eyes down,
and would not look again while she told herself incessantly that it could
not be, and that she was a fool and a goose and a perfect coot, to think
of such a thing for a single moment.  When she allowed herself, or forced
herself, to look a second time; as the boat drew near, she had to cling
to the balcony parapet for support, in her disappointment.

The person whom the vice-consul helped out of the gondola was an elderly
man like himself, and she took a last refuge in the chance that he might
be Hinkle's father, sent to bring her to him because he could not come to
her; or to soften some terrible news to her.  Then her fancy fluttered
and fell, and she waited patiently for the fact to reveal itself.  There
was something countrified in the figure of the man, and something
clerical in his face, though there was nothing in his uncouth best
clothes that confirmed this impression.  In both face and figure there
was a vague resemblance to some one she had seen before, when the vice-
consul said:

"Miss Claxon, I want to introduce the Rev. Mr. James B.  Orson, of
Michigan."  Mr. Orson took Clementina's hand into a dry, rough grasp,
while he peered into her face with small, shy eyes.  The vice-consul
added with a kind of official formality, "Mr. Orson is the half-nephew of
Mr. Lander," and then Clementina now knew whom it was that he resembled.
"He has come to Venice," continued the vice-consul, "at the request of
Mrs. Lander; and he did not know of her death until I informed him of the
fact.  I should have said that Mr. Orson is the son of Mr. Lander's half-
sister.  He can tell you the balance himself."  The vice-consul
pronounced the concluding word with a certain distaste, and the effect of
gladly retiring into the background.

"Won't you sit down?"  said Clementina, and she added with one of the
remnants of her Middlemount breeding, "Won't you let me take your hat?"

Mr. Orson in trying to comply with both her invitations, knocked his well
worn silk hat from the hand that held it, and sent it rolling across the
room, where Clementina pursued it and put it on the table.

"I may as well say at once," he began in a flat irresonant voice, "that I
am the representative of Mrs. Lander's heirs, and that I have a letter
from her enclosing her last will and testament, which I have shown to the
consul here"--

"Vice-consul," the dignitary interrupted with an effect of rejecting any
part in the affair.

"Vice-consul, I should say,--and I wish to lay them both before you, in
order that"--

"Oh, that is all right," said Clementina sweetly.  "I'm glad there is a
will.  I was afraid there wasn't any at all.  Mr. Bennam and I looked for
it everywhe'e."  She smiled upon the Rev. Mr. Orson, who silently handed
her a paper.  It was the will which Milray had written for Mrs. Lander,
and which, with whatever crazy motive, she had sent to her husband's
kindred.  It provided that each of them should be given five thousand
dollars out of the estate, and that then all should go to Clementina.
It was the will Mrs. Lander told her she had made, but she had never seen
the paper before, and the legal forms hid the meaning from her so that
she was glad to have the vice-consul make it clear.  Then she said
tranquilly, "Yes, that is the way I supposed it was."

Mr. Orson by no means shared her calm.  He did not lift his voice, but on
the level it had taken it became agitated.  "Mrs. Lander gave me the
address of her lawyer in Boston when she sent me the will, and I made a
point of calling on him when I went East, to sail.  I don't know why she
wished me to come out to her, but being sick, I presume she naturally
wished to see some of her own family."

He looked at Clementina as if he thought she might dispute this, but she
consented at her sweetest, "Oh, yes, indeed," and he went on:

"I found her affairs in a very different condition from what she seemed
to think.  The estate was mostly in securities which had not been
properly looked after, and they had depreciated until they were some of
them not worth the paper they were printed on.  The house in Boston is
mortgaged up to its full value, I should say; and I should say that Mrs.
Lander did not know where she stood.  She seemed to think that she was a
very rich woman, but she lived high, and her lawyer said he never could
make her understand how the money was going.  Mr. Lander seemed to lose
his grip, the year he died, and engaged in some very unfortunate
speculations; I don't know whether he told her.  I might enter into
details"--

"Oh, that is not necessary," said Clementina, politely, witless of the
disastrous quality of the facts which Mr. Orson was imparting.

"But the sum and substance of it all is that there will not be more than
enough to pay the bequests to her own family, if there is that."

Clementina looked with smiling innocence at the vice-consul.

"That is to say," he explained, "there won't be anything at all for you,
Miss Claxon."

"Well, that's what I always told Mrs. Lander I ratha, when she brought it
up.  I told her she ought to give it to his family," said Clementina,
with a satisfaction in the event which the vice-consul seemed unable to
share, for he remained gloomily silent.  "There is that last money I drew
on the letter of credit, you can give that to Mr. Orson."

"I have told him about that money," said the vice-consul, dryly.  "It
will be handed over to him when the estate is settled, if there isn't
enough to pay the bequests without it."

"And the money which Mrs. Landa gave me before that," she pursued,
eagerly.  Mr. Orson had the effect of pricking up his ears, though it was
in fact merely a gleam of light that came into his eyes.

"That's yours," said the vice-consul, sourly, almost savagely.  "She
didn't give it to you without she wanted you to have it, and she didn't
expect you to pay her bequests with it.  In my opinion," he burst out, in
a wrathful recollection of his own sufferings from Mrs. Lander, "she
didn't give you a millionth part of your due for all the trouble she made
you; and I want Mr. Orson to understand that, right here."

Clementina turned her impartial gaze upon Mr. Orson as if to verify the
impression of this extreme opinion upon him; he looked as if he neither
accepted nor rejected it, and she concluded the sentence which the vice-
consul had interrupted.  "Because I ratha not keep it, if there isn't
enough without it."

The vice-consul gave way to violence.  "It's none of your business
whether there's enough or not.  What you've got to do is to keep what
belongs to you, and I'm going to see that you do.  That's what I'm here
for."  If this assumption of official authority did not awe Clementina,
at least it put a check upon her headlong self-sacrifice.  The vice-
consul strengthened his hold upon her by asking, "What would you do.
I should like to know, if you gave that up?"

"Oh, I should get along," she returned, Light-heartedly, but upon
questioning herself whether she should turn to Miss Milray for help,
or appeal to the vice-consul himself, she was daunted a little, and she
added, "But just as you say, Mr. Bennam."

"I say, keep what fairly belongs to you.  It's only two or three hundred
dollars at the outside," he explained to Mr. Orson's hungry eyes; but
perhaps the sum did not affect the country minister's imagination as
trifling; his yearly salary must sometimes have been little more.

The whole interview left the vice-consul out of humor with both parties
to the affair; and as to Clementina, between the ideals of a perfect
little saint, and a perfect little simpleton he remained for the present
unable to class her.




XXXV.

Clementina and the Vice-Consul afterwards agreed that Mrs. Lander must
have sent the will to Mr. Orson in one of those moments of suspicion when
she distrusted everyone about her, or in that trouble concerning her
husband's kindred which had grown upon her more and more, as a means of
assuring them that they were provided for.

"But even then," the vice-consul concluded, "I don't see why she wanted
this man to come out here.  The only explanation is that she was a little
off her base towards the last.  That's the charitable supposition."

"I don't think she was herself, some of the time," Clementina assented in
acceptance of the kindly construction.

The vice-consul modified his good will toward Mrs. Lander's memory so far
as to say, "Well, if she'd been somebody else most of the time, it would
have been an improvement."

The talk turned upon Mr. Orson, and what he would probably do.  The vice-
consul had found him a cheap lodging, at his request, and he seemed to
have settled down at Venice either without the will or without the power
to go home, but the vice-consul did not know where he ate, or what he did
with himself except at the times when he came for letters.  Once or twice
when he looked him up he found him writing, and then the minister
explained that he had promised to "correspond" for an organ of his sect
in the Northwest; but he owned that there was no money in it.  He was
otherwise reticent and even furtive in his manner.  He did not seem to go
much about the city, but kept to his own room; and if he was writing of
Venice it must have been chiefly from his acquaintance with the little
court into which his windows looked.  He affected the vice-consul as
forlorn and helpless, and he pitied him and rather liked him as a fellow-
victim of Mrs. Lander.

One morning Mr. Orson came to see Clementina, and after a brief passage
of opinion upon the weather, he fell into an embarrassed silence from
which he pulled himself at last with a visible effort.  "I hardly know
how to lay before you what I have to say, Miss Claxon," he began, "and I
must ask you to put the best construction upon it.  I have never been
reduced to a similar distress before.  You would naturally think that I
would turn to the vice-consul, on such an occasion; but I feel, through
our relation to the--to Mrs. Lander--ah--somewhat more at home with you."

He stopped, as if he wished to be asked his business, and she entreated
him, "Why, what is it, Mr. Osson?  Is there something I can do?  There
isn't anything I wouldn't!"

A gleam, watery and faint, which still could not be quite winked away,
came into his small eyes.  "Why, the fact is, could you--ah--advance me
about five dollars?"

"Why, Mr. Orson!" she began, and he seemed to think she wished to
withdraw her offer of help, for he interposed.

"I will repay it as soon as I get an expected remittance from home.
I came out on the invitation of Mrs. Lander, and as her guest, and I
supposed"--

"Oh, don't say a wo'd!" cried Clementina, but now that he had begun he
was powerless to stop.

"I would not ask, but my landlady has pressed me for her rent--I suppose
she needs it--and I have been reduced to the last copper"--

The girl whose eyes the tears of self pity so rarely visited, broke into
a sob that seemed to surprise her visitor.  But she checked herself as
with a quick inspiration: "Have you been to breakfast?"

"Well--ah--not this morning," Mr. Orson admitted, as if to imply that
having breakfasted some other morning might be supposed to serve the
purpose.

She left him and ran to the door.  "Maddalena, Maddalena!" she called;
and Maddalena responded with a frightened voice from the direction of the
kitchen:

"Vengo subito!"

She hurried out with the coffee-pot in her hand, as if she had just taken
it up when Clementina called; and she halted for the whispered colloquy
between them which took place before she set it down on the table already
laid for breakfast; then she hurried out of the room again.  She came
back with a cantaloupe and grapes, and cold ham, and put them before
Clementina and her guest, who both ignored the hunger with which he swept
everything before him.  When his famine had left nothing, he said, in
decorous compliment:

"That is very good coffee, I should think the genuine berry, though I am
told that they adulterate coffee a great deal in Europe."

"Do they?" asked Clementina.  "I didn't know it."

She left him still sitting before the table, and came back with some
bank-notes in her hand.  "Are you sure you hadn't betta take moa?" she
asked.

"I think that five dollars will be all that I shall require," he
answered, with dignity.  "I should be unwilling to accept more.  I shall
undoubtedly receive some remittances soon."

"Oh, I know you will," Clementina returned, and she added, "I am waiting
for lettas myself; I don't think any one ought to give up."

The preacher ignored the appeal which was in her tone rather than her
words, and went on to explain at length the circumstances of his having
come to Europe so unprovided against chances.  When he wished to excuse
his imprudence, she cried out, "Oh, don't say a wo'd!  It's just like my
own fatha," and she told him some things of her home which apparently did
not interest him very much.  He had a kind of dull, cold self-absorption
in which he was indeed so little like her father that only her kindness
for the lonely man could have justified her in thinking there was any
resemblance.

She did not see him again for a week, and meantime she did not tell the
vice-consul of what had happened.  But an anxiety for the minister began
to mingle with her anxieties for herself; she constantly wondered why she
did not hear from her lover, and she occasionally wondered whether Mr.
Orson were not falling into want again.  She had decided to betray his
condition to the vice-consul, when he came, bringing the money she had
lent him.  He had received a remittance from an unexpected source; and he
hoped she would excuse his delay in repaying her loan.  She wished not to
take the money, at least till he was quite sure he should not want it,
but he insisted.

"I have enough to keep me, now, till I hear from other sources, with the
means for returning home.  I see no object in continuing here, under the
circumstances."

In the relief which she felt for him Clementina's heart throbbed with a
pain which was all for herself.  Why should she wait any longer either?
For that instant she abandoned the hope which had kept her up so long; a
wave of homesickness overwhelmed her.

"I should like to go back, too," she said.  "I don't see why I'm staying."

Mr. Osson, why can't you let me"--she was going to say--"go home with
you?  "But she really said what was also in her heart, "Why can't you let
me give you the money to go home?  It is all Mrs. Landa's money, anyway."

"There is certainly that view of the matter," he assented with a
promptness that might have suggested a lurking grudge for the vice-
consul's decision that she ought to keep the money Mrs. Lander had given
her.

But Clementina urged unsuspiciously: "Oh, yes, indeed!  And I shall feel
better if you take it.  I only wish I could go home, too!"

The minister was silent while he was revolving, with whatever scruple or
reluctance, a compromise suitable to the occasion.  Then he said, "Why
should we not return together?"

"Would you take me?" she entreated.

"That should be as you wished.  I am not much acquainted with the usages
in such matters, but I presume that it would be entirely practicable.  We
could ask the vice-consul."

"Yes"--

"He must have had considerable experience in cases of the kind.  Would
your friends meet you in New York, or"--

"I don't know," said Clementina with a pang for the thought of a meeting
she had sometimes fancied there, when her lover had come out for her, and
her father had been told to come and receive them.  "No," she sighed,
"the'e wouldn't be time to let them know.  But it wouldn't make any
difference.  I could get home from New Yo'k alone," she added,
listlessly.  Her spirits had fallen again.  She saw that she could not
leave Venice till she had heard in some sort from the letter she had
written.  "Perhaps it couldn't be done, after all.  But I will see Mr.
Bennam about it, Mr. Osson; and I know he will want you to have that much
of the money.  He will be coming he'e, soon."

He rose upon what he must have thought her hint, and said, "I should not
wish to have him swayed against his judgment."

The vice-consul came not long after the minister had left her, and she
began upon what she wished to do for him.

The vice-consul was against it.  "I would rather lend him the money out
of my own pocket.  How are you going to get along yourself, if you let
him have so much?"

She did not answer at once.  Then she said, hopelessly, "I've a great
mind to go home with him.  I don't believe there's any use waiting here
any longa."  The vice-consul could not say anything to this.  She added,
"Yes, I believe I will go home.  We we'e talking about it, the other day,
and he is willing to let me go with him."

"I should think he would be," the vice-consul retorted in his indignation
for her.  "Did you offer to pay for his passage?"

"Yes," she owned, "I did," and again the vice-consul could say nothing.
"If I went, it wouldn't make any difference whether it took it all or
not.  I should have plenty to get home from New York with."

"Well," the vice-consul assented, dryly, "it's for you to say."

"I know you don't want me to do it!"

"Well, I shall miss you," he answered, evasively.

"And I shall miss you, too, Mr. Bennam.  Don't you believe it?  But if I
don't take this chance to get home, I don't know when I shall eva have
anotha.  And there isn't any use waiting--no, there isn't!"

The vice-consul laughed at the sort of imperative despair in her tone.
"How are you going?  Which way, I mean."

They counted up Clementina's debts and assets, and they found that if she
took the next steamer from Genoa, which was to sail in four days, she
would have enough to pay her own way and Mr. Orson's to New York, and
still have some thirty dollars over, for her expenses home to
Middlemount.  They allowed for a second cabin-passage, which the vice-
consul said was perfectly good on the Genoa steamers.  He rather urged
the gentility and comfort of the second cabin-passage, but his reasons in
favor of it were wasted upon Clementina's indifference; she wished to get
home, now, and she did not care how.  She asked the vice-consul to see
the minister for her, and if he were ready and willing, to telegraph for
their tickets.  He transacted the business so promptly that he was able
to tell her when he came in the evening that everything was in train.
He excused his coming; he said that now she was going so soon, he wanted
to see all he could of her.  He offered no excuse when he came the next
morning; but he said he had got a letter for her and thought she might
want to have it at once.

He took it out of his hat and gave it to her.  It was addressed in
Hinkle's writing; her answer had come at last; she stood trembling with
it in her hand.

The vice-consul smiled.  "Is that the one?"

"Yes," she whispered back.

"All right."  He took his hat, and set it on the back of his head before
he left her without other salutation.

Then Clementina opened her letter.  It was in a woman's hand, and the
writer made haste to explain at the beginning that she was George W.
Hinkle's sister, and that she was writing for him; for though he was now
out of danger, he was still very weak, and they had all been anxious
about him.  A month before, he had been hurt in a railroad collision, and
had come home from the West, where the accident happened, suffering
mainly from shock, as his doctor thought; he had taken to his bed at
once, and had not risen from it since.  He had been out of his head a
great part of the time, and had been forbidden everything that could
distress or excite him.  His sister said that she was writing for him now
as soon as he had seen Clementina's letter; it had been forwarded from
one address to another, and had at last found him there at his home in
Ohio.  He wished to say that he would come out for Clementina as soon as
he was allowed to undertake the journey, and in the meantime she must let
him know constantly where she was.  The letter closed with a few words of
love in his own handwriting.

Clementina rose from reading it, and put on her hat in a bewildered
impulse to go to him at once; she knew, in spite of all the cautions and
reserves of the letter that he must still be very sick.  When she came
out of her daze she found that she could only go to the vice-consul.  She
put the letter in his hands to let it explain itself.  "You'll undastand,
now," she said.  "What shall I do?"

When he had read it, he smiled and answered, "I guess I understood pretty
well before, though I wasn't posted on names.  Well, I suppose you'll
want to layout most of your capital on cables, now?"

"Yes," she laughed, and then she suddenly lamented, "Why didn't they
telegraph?"

"Well, I guess he hadn't the head for it," said the vice-consul, "and the
rest wouldn't think of it.  They wouldn't, in the country."

Clementina laughed again; in joyous recognition of the fact, "No, my
fatha wouldn't, eitha!"

The vice-consul reached for his hat, and he led the way to Clementina's
gondola at his garden gate, in greater haste than she.  At the telegraph
office he framed a dispatch which for expansive fullness and precision
was apparently unexampled in the experience of the clerk who took it and
spelt over its English with them.  It asked an answer in the vice-
consul's care, and, "I'll tell you what, Miss Claxon," he said with a
husky weakness in his voice, "I wish you'd let this be my treat."

She understood.  "Do you really, Mr. Bennam?"

"I do indeed."

"Well, then, I will," she said, but when he wished to include in his
treat the dispatch she sent home to her father announcing her coming, she
would not let him.

He looked at his watch, as they rowed away.  "It's eight o'clock here,
now, and it will reach Ohio about six hours earlier; but you can't expect
an answer tonight, you know."

"No"--She had expected it though, he could see that.

"But whenever it comes, I'll bring it right round to you.  Now it's all
going to be straight, don't you be afraid, and you're going home the
quickest way you can get there.  I've been looking up the sailings, and
this Genoa boat will get you to New York about as soon as any could from
Liverpool.  Besides there's always a chance of missing connections and
losing time between here and England.  I should stick to the Genoa boat."

"Oh I shall," said Clementina, far less fidgetted than he.  She was, in
fact, resting securely again in the faith which had never really deserted
her, and had only seemed for a little time to waver from her when her
hope went.  Now that she had telegraphed, her heart was at peace, and she
even laughed as she answered the anxious vice-consul.




XXXVI.

The next morning Clementina watched for the vice-consul from her balcony.
She knew he would not send; she knew he would come; but it, was nearly
noon before she saw him coming.  They caught sight of each other almost
at the same moment, and he stood up in his boat, and waved something
white in his hand, which must be a dispatch for her.

It acknowledged her telegram and reported George still improving; his
father would meet her steamer in New York.  It was very reassuring, it
was every thing hopeful; but when she had read it she gave it to the
vice-consul for encouragement.

"It's all right, Miss Claxon," he said, stoutly.  "Don't you be troubled
about Mr. Hinkle's not coming to meet you himself.  He can't keep too
quiet for a while yet."

"Oh, yes," said Clementina, patiently.

"If you really want somebody to worry about, you can help Mr. Orson to
worry about himself!" the vice-consul went on, with the grimness he had
formerly used in speaking of Mrs. Lander.  "He's sick, or he thinks he's
going to be.  He sent round for me this morning, and I found him in bed.
You may have to go home alone.  But I guess he's more scared than hurt."

Her heart sank, and then rose in revolt against the mere idea of delay.
"I wonder if I ought to go and see him," she said.

"Well, it would be a kindness," returned the vice-consul, with a
promptness that unmasked the apprehension he felt for the sick man.

He did not offer to go with her, and she took Maddalena.  She found the
minister seated in his chair beside his bed.  A three days' beard
heightened the gauntness of his face; he did not move when his padrona
announced her.

"I am not any better," he answered when she said that she was glad to see
him up.  "I am merely resting; the bed is hard.  I regret to say," he
added, with a sort of formal impersonality, "that I shall be unable to
accompany you home, Miss Claxon.  That is, if you still think of taking
the steamer this week."

Her whole being had set homeward in a tide that already seemed to drift
the vessel from its moorings.  "What--what do you mean?" she gasped.

"I didn't know," he returned, "but that in view of the circumstances--all
the circumstances--you might be intending to defer your departure to some
later steamer."

"No, no, no!  I must go, now.  I couldn't wait a day, an hour, a minute
after the first chance of going.  You don't know what you are saying!
He might die if I told him I was not coming; and then what should I do?"
This was what Clementina said to herself; but what she said to Mr. Orson,
with an inspiration from her terror at his suggestion was, "Don't you
think a little chicken broth would do you good, Mr. Osson?  I don't
believe but what it would."

A wistful gleam came into the preacher's eyes.  "It might," he admitted,
and then she knew what must be his malady.  She sent Maddalena to a
trattoria for the soup, and she did not leave him, even after she had
seen its effect upon him.  It was not hard to persuade him that he had
better come home with her; and she had him there, tucked away with his
few poor belongings, in the most comfortable room the padrone could
imagine, when the vice-consul came in the evening.

"He says he thinks he can go, now," she ended, when she had told the
vice-consul.  "And I know he can.  It wasn't anything but poor living."

"It looks more like no living," said the vice-consul.  "Why didn't the
old fool let some one know that he was short of money?  "He went on with
a partial transfer of his contempt of the preacher to her, "I suppose if
he'd been sick instead of hungry, you'd have waited over till the next
steamer for him."

She cast down her eyes.  "I don't know what you'll think of me.  I should
have been sorry for him, and I should have wanted to stay."  She lifted
her eyes and looked the vice-consul defiantly in the face.  "But he
hadn't the fust claim on me, and I should have gone--I couldn't, have
helped it!--I should have gone, if he had been dying!"

"Well, you've got more horse-sense," said the vice-consul, "than any ten
men I ever saw," and he testified his admiration of her by putting his
arms round her, where she stood before him, and kissing her.  "Don't you
mind," he explained.  "If my youngest girl had lived, she would have been
about your age."

"Oh, it's all right, Mr. Bennam," said Clementina.

When the time came for them to leave Venice, Mr. Orson was even eager to
go.  The vice-consul would have gone with them in contempt of the
official responsibilities which he felt to be such a thankless burden,
but there was really no need of his going, and he and Clementina treated
the question with the matter-of-fact impartiality which they liked in
each other.  He saw her off at the station where Maddalena had come to
take the train for Florence in token of her devotion to the signorina,
whom she would not outstay in Venice.  She wept long and loud upon
Clementina's neck, so that even Clementina was once moved to put her
handkerchief to her tearless eyes.

At the last moment she had a question which she referred to the vice
consul.  "Should you tell him?" she asked.

"Tell who what?" he retorted.

"Mr. Osson-that I wouldn't have stayed for him."

"Do you think it would make you feel any better?" asked the consul, upon
reflection.

"I believe he ought to know."

"Well, then, I guess I should do it."

The time did not come for her confession till they had nearly reached the
end of their voyage.  It followed upon something like a confession from
the minister himself, which he made the day he struggled on deck with her
help, after spending a week in his berth.

"Here is something," he said, "which appears to be for you, Miss Claxon.
I found it among some letters for Mrs. Lander which Mr. Bennam gave me
after my arrival, and I only observed the address in looking over the
papers in my valise this morning."  He handed her a telegram.  "I trust
that it is nothing requiring immediate attention."

Clementina read it at a glance.  "No," she answered, and for a while she
could not say anything more; it was a cable message which Hinkle's sister
must have sent her after writing.  No evil had come of its failure to
reach her, and she recalled without bitterness the suffering which would
have been spared her if she had got it before.  It was when she thought
of the suffering of her lover from the silence which must have made him
doubt her, that she could not speak.  As soon as she governed herself
against her first resentment she said, with a little sigh, "It is all
right, now, Mr. Osson," and her stress upon the word seemed to trouble
him with no misgiving.  "Besides, if you're to blame for not noticing, so
is Mr. Bennam, and I don't want to blame any one."  She hesitated a
moment before she added: "I have got to tell you something, now, because
I think you ought to know it.  I am going home to be married, Mr. Osson,
and this message is from the gentleman I am going to be married to.
He has been very sick, and I don't know yet as he'll be able to meet me
in New Yo'k; but his fatha will."

Mr. Orson showed no interest in these facts beyond a silent attention to
her words, which might have passed for an open indifference.  At his time
of life all such questions, which are of permanent importance to women,
affect men hardly more than the angels who neither marry nor are given in
marriage.  Besides, as a minister he must have had a surfeit of all
possible qualities in the love affairs of people intending matrimony.
As a casuist he was more reasonably concerned in the next fact which
Clementina laid before him.

"And the otha day, there in Venice when you we'e sick, and you seemed to
think that I might put off stahting home till the next steamer, I don't
know but I let you believe I would."

"I supposed that the delay of a week or two could make no material
difference to you."

"But now you see that it would.  And I feel as if I ought to tell you--
I spoke to Mr. Bennam about it, and he didn't tell me not to--that I
shouldn't have staid, no not for anything in the wo'ld.  I had to do what
I did at the time, but eva since it has seemed as if I had deceived you,
and I don't want to have it seem so any longer.  It isn't because I don't
hate to tell you; I do; but I guess if it was to happen over again I
couldn't feel any different.  Do you want I should tell the deck-stewahd
to bring you some beef-tea?"

"I think I could relish a small portion," said Mr. Orson, cautiously, and
he said nothing more.

Clementina left him with her nerves in a flutter, and she did not come
back to him until she decided that it was time to help him down to his
cabin.  He suffered her to do this in silence, but at the door he cleared
his throat and began:

"I have reflected upon what you told me, and I have tried to regard the
case from all points.  I believe that I have done so, without personal
feeling, and I think it my duty to say, fully and freely, that I believe
you would have done perfectly right not to remain."

"Yes," said Clementina, "I thought you would think so."

They parted emotionlessly to all outward effect, and when they met again
it was without a sign of having passed through a crisis of sentiment.
Neither referred to the matter again, but from that time the minister
treated Clementina with a deference not without some shadows of
tenderness such as her helplessness in Venice had apparently never
inspired.  She had cast out of her mind all lingering hardness toward him
in telling him the hard truth, and she met his faint relentings with a
grateful gladness which showed itself in her constant care of him.

This helped her a little to forget the strain of the anxiety that
increased upon her as the time shortened between the last news of her
lover and the next; and there was perhaps no more exaggeration in the
import than in the terms of the formal acknowledgment which Mr. Orson
made her as their steamer sighted Fire Island Light, and they both knew
that their voyage had ended: "I may not be able to say to you in the
hurry of our arrival in New York that I am obliged to you for a good many
little attentions, which I should be pleased to reciprocate if
opportunity offered.  I do not think I am going too far in saying that
they are such as a daughter might offer a parent."

"Oh, don't speak of it, Mr. Osson!" she protested.  "I haven't done
anything that any one wouldn't have done."

"I presume," said the minister, thoughtfully, as if retiring from an
extreme position, "that they are such as others similarly circumstanced,
might have done, but it will always be a source of satisfaction for you
to reflect that you have not neglected them."




XXXVII.

In the crowd which thronged the steamer's dock at Hoboken, Clementina
strained her eyes to make out some one who looked enough like her lover
to be his father, and she began to be afraid that they might miss each
other when she failed.  She walked slowly down the gangway, with the
people that thronged it, glad to be hidden by them from her failure, but
at the last step she was caught aside by a small blackeyed, black-haired
woman, who called out "Isn't this Miss Claxon?  I'm Georrge's sisterr.
Oh, you'rre just like what he said!  I knew it!  I knew it!" and then
hugged her and kissed her, and passed her to the little lean dark old man
next her.  "This is fatherr.  I knew you couldn't tell us, because I take
afterr him, and Georrge is exactly like motherr."

George's father took her hand timidly, but found courage to say to his
daughter, "Hadn't you betterr let her own fatherr have a chance at herr?"
and amidst a tempest of apologies and self blame from the sister, Claxon
showed himself over the shoulders of the little man.

"Why, there wa'n't no hurry, as long as she's he'a," he said, in prompt
enjoyment of the joke, and he and Clementina sparely kissed each other.

"Why, fatha!" she said.  "I didn't expect you to come to New Yo'k to meet
me."

"Well, I didn't ha'dly expect it myself; but I'd neva been to Yo'k, and I
thought I might as well come.  Things ah' ratha slack at home, just now,
anyway."

She did not heed his explanation.  "We'e you sca'ed when you got my
dispatch?"

"No, we kind of expected you'd come any time, the way you wrote afta Mrs.
Landa died.  We thought something must be up."

"Yes," she said, absently.  Then, "Whe'e's motha?" she asked.

"Well, I guess she thought she couldn't get round to it, exactly," said
the father.  "She's all right.  Needn't ask you!"

"No, I'm fust-rate," Clementina returned, with a silent joy in her
father's face and voice.  She went back in it to the girl of a year ago,
and the world which had come between them since their parting rolled away
as if it had never been there.

Neither of them said anything about that.  She named over her brothers
and sisters, and he answered, "Yes, yes," in assurance of their well-
being, and then he explained, as if that were the only point of real
interest, "I see your folks waitin' he'e fo' somebody, and I thought I'd
see if it wa'n't the same one, and we kind of struck up an acquaintance
on your account befo'e you got he'e, Clem."


"Your folks!" she silently repeated to herself.  "Yes, they ah' mine!"
and she stood trying to realize the strange fact, while George's sister
poured out a voluminous comment upon Claxon's spare statement, and
George's father admired her volubility with the shut smile of toothless
age.  She spoke with the burr which the Scotch-Irish settlers have
imparted to the whole middle West, but it was music to Clementina, who
heard now and then a tone of her lover in his sister's voice.  In the
midst of it all she caught sight of a mute unfriended figure just without
their circle, his traveling shawl hanging loose upon his shoulders, and
the valise which had formed his sole baggage in the voyage to and from
Europe pulling his long hand out of his coat sleeve.

"Oh, yes," she said, "here is Mr. Osson that came ova with me, fatha;
he's a relation of Mr. Landa's," and she presented him to them all.

He shifted his valise to the left hand, and shook hands with each,
asking, "What name?"  and then fell motionless again.

"Well," said her father, "I guess this is the end of this paht of the
ceremony, and I'm goin' to see your baggage through the custom-house,
Clementina; I've read about it, and I want to know how it's done.  I want
to see what you ah' tryin' to smuggle in."

"I guess you won't find much," she said.  "But you'll want the keys,
won't you?"  She called to him, as he was stalking away.

"Well, I guess that would be a good idea.  Want to help, Miss Hinkle?"

"I guess we might as well all help," said Clementina, and Mr. Orson
included himself in the invitation.  He seemed unable to separate himself
from them, though the passage of Clementina's baggage through the
customs, and its delivery to an expressman for the hotel where the
Hinkles said they were staying might well have severed the last tie
between them.

"Ah' you going straight home, Mr. Osson?" she asked, to rescue him from
the forgetfulness into which they were all letting him fall.

"I think I will remain over a day," he answered.  "I may go on to Boston
before starting West."

"Well, that's right," said Clementina's father with the wish to approve
everything native to him, and an instinctive sense of Clementina's wish
to befriend the minister.  "Betta come to oua hotel.  We're all goin' to
the same one."

"I presume it is a good one?" Mr. Orson assented.

"Well," said Claxon, "you must make Miss Hinkle, he'a, stand it if it
ain't.  She's got me to go to it."

Mr. Orson apparently could not enter into the joke; but he accompanied
the party, which again began to forget him, across the ferry and up the
elevated road to the street car that formed the last stage of their
progress to the hotel.  At this point George's sister fell silent, and
Clementina's father burst out, "Look he'a!  I guess we betty not keep
this up any Tonga; I don't believe much in surprises, and I guess she
betta know it now!"

He looked at George's sister as if for authority to speak further, and
Clementina looked at her, too, while George's father nervously moistened
his smiling lips with the tip of his tongue, and let his twinkling eyes
rest upon Clementina's face.

"Is he at the hotel?" she asked.

"Yes," said his sister, monosyllabic for once.

"I knew it," said Clementina, and she was only half aware of the fullness
with which his sister now explained how he wanted to come so much that
the doctor thought he had better, but that they had made him promise he
would not try to meet her at the steamer, lest it should be too great a
trial of his strength.

"Yes," Clementina assented, when the story came to an end and was
beginning over again.

She had an inexplicable moment when she stood before her lover in the
room where they left her to meet him alone.  She faltered and he waited
constrained by her constraint.

"Is it all a mistake, Clementina?" he asked, with a piteous smile.

"No, no!"

"Am I so much changed?"

"No; you are looking better than I expected."

"And you are not sorry-for anything?"

"No, I am--Perhaps I have thought of you too much!  It seems so
strange."

"I understand," he answered.  "We have been like spirits to each other,
and now we find that we are alive and on the earth like other people; and
we are not used to it."

"It must be something like that."

"But if it's something else--if you have the least regret,--if you would
rather "--He stopped, and they remained looking at each other a moment.
Then she turned her head, and glanced out of the window, as if something
there had caught her sight.

"It's a very pleasant view, isn't it?" she said; and she lifted her hands
to her head, and took off her hat, with an effect of having got home
after absence, to stay.




XXXVIII.

It was possibly through some sense finer than any cognition that
Clementina felt in meeting her lover that she had taken up a new burden
rather than laid down an old one.  Afterwards, when they once recurred to
that meeting, and she tried to explain for him the hesitation which she
had not been able to hide, she could only say, "I presume I didn't want
to begin unless I was sure I could carry out.  It would have been silly."

Her confession, if it was a confession, was made when one of his returns
to health, or rather one of the arrests of his unhealth, flushed them
with hope and courage; but before that first meeting was ended she knew
that he had overtasked his strength, in coming to New York, and he must
not try it further.  "Fatha," she said to Claxon, with the authority of a
woman doing her duty, "I'm not going to let Geo'ge go up to Middlemount,
with all the excitement.  It will be as much as he can do to get home.
You can tell mother about it; and the rest.  I did suppose it would be
Mr. Richling that would marry us, and I always wanted him to, but I guess
somebody else can do it as well."

"Just as you say, Clem," her father assented.  "Why not Brother Osson,
he'a?" he suggested with a pleasure in the joke, whatever it was, that
the minister's relation to Clementina involved.  "I guess he can put off
his visit to Boston long enough."

"Well, I was thinking of him," said Clementina.  "Will you ask him?"

"Yes.  I'll get round to it, in the mohning."

"No-now; right away.  I've been talking with Geo'ge about it; and the'e's
no sense in putting it off.  I ought to begin taking care of him at
once."

"Well, I guess when I tell your motha how you're layin' hold, she won't
think it's the same pusson," said her father, proudly.

"But it is; I haven't changed a bit."

"You ha'n't changed for the wohse, anyway."

"Didn't I always try to do what I had to?"

"I guess you did, Clem."

"Well, then!"

Mr. Orson, after a decent hesitation, consented to perform the ceremony.
It took place in a parlor of the hotel, according to the law of New York,
which facilitates marriage so greatly in all respects that it is strange
any one in the State should remain single.  He had then a luxury of
choice between attaching himself to the bridal couple as far as Ohio on
his journey home to Michigan, or to Claxon who was going to take the boat
for Boston the next day on his way to Middlemount.  He decided for
Claxon, since he could then see Mrs. Lander's lawyer at once, and arrange
with him for getting out of the vice-consul's hands the money which he
was holding for an authoritative demand.  He accepted without open
reproach the handsome fee which the elder Hinkle gave him for his
services, and even went so far as to say, "If your son should ever be
blest with a return to health, he has got a helpmeet such as there are
very few of."  He then admonished the young couple, in whatever trials
life should have in store for them, to be resigned, and always to be
prepared for the worst.  When he came later to take leave of them, he was
apparently not equal to the task of fitly acknowledging the return which
Hinkle made him of all the money remaining to Clementina out of the sum
last given her by Mrs. Lander, but he hid any disappointment he might
have suffered, and with a brief, "Thank you," put it in his pocket.

Hinkle told Clementina of the apathetic behavior of Mr. Orson; he added
with a laugh like his old self, "It's the best that he doesn't seem
prepared for."

"Yes," she assented.  "He wasn't very chee'ful.  But I presume that he
meant well.  It must be a trial for him to find out that Mrs. Landa
wasn't rich, after all."

It was apparently never a trial to her.  She went to Ohio with her
husband and took up her life on the farm, where it was wisely judged that
he had the best chance of working out of the wreck of his health and
strength.  There was often the promise and always the hope of this, and
their love knew no doubt of the future.  Her sisters-in-law delighted in
all her strangeness and difference, while they petted her as something
not to be separated from him in their petting of their brother; to his
mother she was the darling which her youngest had never ceased to be;
Clementina once went so far as to say to him that if she was ever
anything she would like to be a Moravian.

The question of religion was always related in their minds to the
question of Gregory, to whom they did justice in their trust of each
other.  It was Hinkle himself who reasoned out that if Gregory was
narrow, his narrowness was of his conscience and not of his heart or his
mind.  She respected the memory of her first lover; but it was as if he
were dead, now, as well as her young dream of him, and she read with a
curious sense of remoteness, a paragraph which her husband found in the
religious intelligence of his Sunday paper, announcing the marriage of
the Rev. Frank Gregory to a lady described as having been a frequent and
bountiful contributor to the foreign missions.  She was apparently a
widow, and they conjectured that she was older than he.  His departure
for his chosen field of missionary labor in China formed part of the news
communicated by the rather exulting paragraph.

"Well, that is all right," said Clementina's husband.  "He is a good man,
and he is where he can do nothing but good.  I am glad I needn't feel
sorry for him, any more."

Clementina's father must have given such a report of Hinkle and his
family, that they felt easy at home in leaving her to the lot she had
chosen.  When Claxon parted from her, he talked of coming out with her
mother to see her that fall; but it was more than a year before they got
round to it.  They did not come till after the birth of her little girl,
and her father then humorously allowed that perhaps they would not have
got round to it at all if something of the kind had not happened.  The
Hinkles and her father and mother liked one another, so much that in the
first glow of his enthusiasm Claxon talked of settling down in Ohio, and
the older Hinkle drove him about to look at some places that were for
sale.  But it ended in his saying one day that he missed the hills, and
he did not believe that he would know enough to come in when it rained if
he did not see old Middlemount with his nightcap on first.  His wife and
he started home with the impatience of their years, rather earlier than
they had meant to go, and they were silent for a little while after they
left the flag-station where Hinkle and Clementina had put them aboard
their train.

"Well?" said Claxon, at last.

"Well?"  echoed his wife, and then she did not speak for a little while
longer.  At last she asked,

"D'he look that way when you fust see him in New Yo'k?"

Claxon gave his honesty time to get the better of his optimism.  Even
then he answered evasively, "He doos look pootty slim."

"The way I cypher it out," said his wife, "he no business to let her
marry him, if he wa'n't goin' to get well.  It was throwin' of herself
away, as you may say."

"I don't know about that," said Claxon, as if the point had occurred to
him, too, and had been already argued in his mind.  "I guess they must
'a' had it out, there in New York before they got married--or she had.
I don't believe but what he expected to get well, right away.  It's the
kind of a thing that lingas along, and lingas along.  As fah fo'th as
Clem went, I guess there wa'n't any let about it.  I guess she'd made up
her mind from the staht, and she was goin' to have him if she had to hold
him on his feet to do it.  Look he'a!  W hat would you done?"

"Oh, I presume we're all fools!" said Mrs. Claxon, impatient of a sex not
always so frank with itself.  "But that don't excuse him."

"I don't say it doos," her husband admitted.  "But I presume he was
expectin' to get well right away, then.  And I don't believe," he added,
energetically, "but what he will, yet.  As I undastand, there ain't
anything ogganic about him.  It's just this he'e nuvvous prostration,
resultin' from shock, his docta tells me; and he'll wo'k out of that all
right."

They said no more, and Mrs. Claxon did not recur to any phase of the
situation till she undid the lunch which the Hinkles had put up for them,
and laid out on the napkin in her lap the portions of cold ham and cold
chicken, the buttered biscuit, and the little pot of apple-butter, with
the large bottle of cold coffee.  Then she sighed, "They live well."

"Yes," said her husband, glad of any concession, "and they ah' good
folks.  And Clem's as happy as a bud with 'em, you can see that."

"Oh, she was always happy enough, if that's all you want.  I presume she
was happy with that hectorin' old thing that fooled her out of her
money."

"I ha'n't ever regretted that money, Rebecca," said Claxon, stiffly,
almost sternly, "and I guess you a'n't, eitha."

"I don't say I have," retorted Mrs. Claxon.  "But I don't like to be made
a fool of.  I presume," she added, remotely, but not so irrelevantly,
"Clem could ha' got 'most anybody, ova the'a."

"Well," said Claxon, taking refuge in the joke, "I shouldn't want her to
marry a crowned head, myself."

It was Clementina who drove the clay-bank colt away from the station
after the train had passed out of sight.  Her husband sat beside her, and
let her take the reins from his nerveless grasp; and when they got into
the shelter of the piece of woods that the road passed through he put up
his hands to his face, and broke into sobs.  She allowed him to weep on,
though she kept saying, "Geo'ge, Geo'ge," softly, and stroking his knee
with the hand next him.  When his sobbing stopped, she said, "I guess
they've had a pleasant visit; but I'm glad we'a together again."  He took
up her hand and kissed the back of it, and then clutched it hard, but did
not speak.  "It's strange," she went on, "how I used to be home-sick for
father and motha"--she had sometimes lost her Yankee accent in her
association with his people, and spoke with their Western burr, but she
found it in moments of deeper feeling--" when I was there in Europe, and
now I'm glad to have them go.  I don't want anybody to be between us; and
I want to go back to just the way we we'e befo'e they came.  It's been a
strain on you, and now you must throw it all off and rest, and get up
your strength.  One thing, I could see that fatha noticed the gain you
had made since he saw you in New Yo'k.  He spoke about it to me the fust
thing, and he feels just the way I do about it.  He don't want you to
hurry and get well, but take it slowly, and not excite yourself.  He
believes in your gleaner, and he knows all about machinery.  He says the
patent makes it puffectly safe, and you can take your own time about
pushing it; it's su'a to go.  And motha liked you.  She's not one to talk
a great deal--she always leaves that to father and me--but she's got deep
feelings, and she just worshipped the baby!  I neva saw her take a child
in her ahms before; but she seemed to want to hold the baby all the
time."  She stopped, and then added, tenderly, "Now, I know what you ah'
thinking about, Geo'ge, and I don't want you to think about it any more.
If you do, I shall give up."

They had come to a bad piece of road where a Slough of thick mud forced
the wagon-way over the stumps of a turnout in the woods.  "You had better
let me have the reins, Clementina," he said.  He drove home over the
yellow leaves of the hickories and the crimson leaves of the maples, that
heavy with the morning dew, fell slanting through the still air; and on
the way he began to sing; his singing made her heart ache.  His father
came out to put up the colt for him; and Hinkle would not have his help.

He unhitched the colt himself, while his father trembled by with bent
knees; he clapped the colt on the haunch and started him through the
pasture-bars with a gay shout, and then put his arm round Clementina's
waist, and walked her into the kitchen amidst the grins of his mother and
sisters, who said he ought to be ashamed.

The winter passed, and in the spring he was not so well as he had been in
the fall.  It was the out-door life which was best for him, and he picked
up again in the summer.  When another autumn came, it was thought best
for him not to risk the confinement of another winter in the North.  The
prolongation of the summer in the South would complete his cure, and
Clementina took her baby and went with him to Florida.  He was very well,
there, and courageous letters came to Middlemount and Ohio, boasting of
the gains he had made.  One day toward spring he came in languid from the
damp, unnatural heat, and the next day he had a fever, which the doctor
would not, in a resort absolutely free from malaria, pronounce malarial.
After it had once declared itself, in compliance with this reluctance, a
simple fever, Hinkle was delirious, and he never knew Clementina again
for the mother of his child.  They were once more at Venice in his
ravings, and he was reasoning with her that Belsky was not drowned.

The mystery of his malady deepened into the mystery of his death.  With
that his look of health and youth came back, and as she gazed upon his
gentle face, it wore to her the smile of quaint sweetness that she had
seen it wear the first night it won her fancy at Miss Milray's horse in
Florence.

Six years after Miss Milray parted with Clementina in Venice she found
herself, towards the close of the summer, at Middlemount.  She had
definitely ceased to live in Florence, where she had meant to die, and
had come home to close her eyes.  She was in no haste to do this, and in
the meantime she was now at Middlemount with her brother, who had
expressed a wish to revisit the place in memory of Mrs. Milray.  It was
the second anniversary of her divorce, which had remained, after a
married life of many vicissitudes, almost the only experience untried in
that relation, and which had been happily accomplished in the courts of
Dacotah, upon grounds that satisfied the facile justice of that State.
Milray had dealt handsomely with his widow, as he unresentfully called
her, and the money he assigned her was of a destiny perhaps as honored as
its origin.  She employed it in the negotiation of a second marriage, in
which she redressed the balance of her first by taking a husband somewhat
younger than herself.

Both Milray and his sister had a wish which was much more than a
curiosity to know what had become of Clementina; they had heard that her
husband was dead, and that she had come back to Middlemount; and Miss
Milray was going to the office, the afternoon following their arrival, to
ask the landlord about her, when she was arrested at the door of the
ball-room by a sight that she thought very pretty.  At the bottom of the
room, clearly defined against the long windows behind her, stood the
figure of a lady in the middle of the floor.  In rows on either side sat
little girls and little boys who left their places one after another, and
turned at the door to make their manners to her.  In response to each
obeisance the lady dropped a curtsey, now to this side, now to that,
taking her skirt between her finger tips on either hand and spreading it
delicately, with a certain elegance of movement, and a grace that was
full of poetry, and to Miss Milray, somehow, full of pathos.  There
remained to the end a small mite of a girl, who was the last to leave her
place and bow to the lady.  She did not quit the room then, like the
others, but advanced toward the lady who came to meet her, and lifted her
and clasped her to her breast with a kind of passion.  She walked down
toward the door where Miss Milray stood, gently drifting over the
polished floor, as if still moved by the music that had ceased, and as
she drew near, Miss Milray gave a cry of joy, and ran upon her.  "Why,
Clementina!" she screamed, and caught her and the child both in her arms.

She began to weep, but Clementina smiled instead of weeping, as she
always used to do.  She returned Miss Milray's affectionate greeting with
a tenderness as great as her own, but with a sort of authority, such as
sometimes comes to those who have suffered.  She quieted the older woman
with her own serenity, and met the torrent of her questions with as many
answers as their rush permitted, when they were both presently in Miss
Milray's room talking in their old way.  From time to time Miss Milray
broke from the talk to kiss the little girl, whom she declared to be
Clementina all over again, and then returned to her better behavior with
an effect of shame for her want of self-control, as if Clementina's mood
had abashed her.  Sometimes this was almost severe in its quiet; that was
her mother coming to her share in her; but again she was like her father,
full of the sunny gayety of self-forgetfulness, and then Miss Milray
said, "Now you are the old Clementina!"

Upon the whole she listened with few interruptions to the story which she
exacted.  It was mainly what we know.  After her husband's death
Clementina had gone back to his family for a time, and each year since
she had spent part of the winter with them; but it was very lonesome for
her, and she began to be home-sick for Middlemount.  They saw it and
considered it.  "They ah' the best people, Miss Milray!" she said, and
her voice, which was firm when she spoke of her husband, broke in the
words of minor feeling.  Besides being a little homesick, she ended, she
was not willing to live on there, doing nothing for herself, and so she
had come back.

"And you are here, doing just what you planned when you talked your life
over with me in Venice!"

"Yes, but life isn't eva just what we plan it to be, Miss Milray."

"Ah, don't I know it!"

Clementina surprised Miss Milray by adding, "In a great many things--
I don't know but in most--it's better.  I don't complain of mine"--

"You poor child!  You never complained of anything--not even of Mrs.
Lander!"

"But it's different from what I expected; and it's--strange."

"Yes; life is very strange."

"I don't mean-losing him.  That had to be.  I can see, now, that it had
to be almost from the beginning.  It seems to me that I knew it had to be
from the fust minute I saw him in New Yo'k; but he didn't, and I am glad
of that.  Except when he was getting wohse, he always believed he should
get well; and he was getting well, when he"--

Miss Milray did not violate the pause she made with any question, though
it was apparent that Clementina had something on her mind that she wished
to say, and could hardly say of herself.

She began again, "I was glad through everything that I could live with
him so long.  If there is nothing moa, here or anywhe'a, that was
something.  But it is strange.  Sometimes it doesn't seem as if it had
happened."

"I think I can understand, Clementina."

"I feel sometimes as if I hadn't happened myself."  She stopped, with a
patient little sigh, and passed her hand across the child's forehead,
in a mother's fashion, and smoothed her hair from it, bending over to
look down into her face.  "We think she has her fatha's eyes," she said.

"Yes, she has," Miss Milray assented, noting the upward slant of the
child's eyes, which gave his quaintness to her beauty.  "He had
fascinating eyes."

After a moment Clementina asked, "Do you believe that the looks are all
that ah' left?"

Miss Milray reflected.  "I know what you mean.  I should say character
was left, and personality--somewhere."

"I used to feel as if it we'e left here, at fust--as if he must come
back.  But that had to go."

"Yes."

"Everything seems to go.  After a while even the loss of him seemed to
go."

"Yes, losses go with the rest."

"That's what I mean by its seeming as if it never any of it happened.
Some things before it are a great deal more real."

"Little things?"

"Not exactly.  But things when I was very young."  Miss Milray did not
know quite what she intended, but she knew that Clementina was feeling
her way to something she wanted to say, and she let her alone.  "When it
was all over, and I knew that as long as I lived he would be somewhere
else, I tried to be paht of the wo'ld I was left in.  Do you think that
was right?"

"It was wise; and, yes, it was best," said Miss Milray, and for relief
from the tension which was beginning to tell upon her own nerves, she
asked, "I suppose you know about my poor brother?  I'd better tell you to
keep you from asking for Mrs. Milray, though I don't know that it's so
very painful with him.  There isn't any Mrs. Milray now," she added, and
she explained why.

Neither of them cared for Mrs. Milray, and they did not pretend to be
concerned about her, but Clementina said, vaguely, as if in recognition
of Mrs. Milray's latest experiment, "Do you believe in second marriages?"

Miss Milray laughed, "Well, not that kind exactly."

"No," Clementina assented, and she colored a little.

Miss Milray was moved to add, "But if you mean another kind, I don't see
why not.  My own mother was married twice."

"Was she?" Clementina looked relieved and encouraged, but she did not say
any more at once.  Then she asked, "Do you know what ever became of Mr.
Belsky?"

"Yes.  He's taken his title again, and gone back to live in Russia; he's
made peace with the Czar; I believe."

"That's nice," said Clementina; and Miss Milray made bold to ask:

"And what has become of Mr. Gregory?"

Clementina answered, as Miss Milray thought, tentatively and obliquely:
"You know his wife died."

"No, I never knew that she lived."

"Yes.  They went out to China, and she died the'a."

"And is he there yet?  But of course!  He could never have given up being
a missionary."

"Well," said Clementina, "he isn't in China.  His health gave out, and
he had to come home.  He's in Middlemount Centa."

Miss Milray suppressed the "Oh!" that all but broke from her lips.
"Preaching to the heathen, there?"  she temporized.

"To the summa folks," Clementina explained, innocent of satire.  "They
have got a Union Chapel the'a, now, and Mr. Gregory has been preaching
all summa."  There seemed nothing more that Miss Milray could prompt her
to say, but it was not quite with surprise that she heard Clementina
continue, as if it were part of the explanation, and followed from the
fact she had stated, "He wants me to marry him."

Miss Milray tried to emulate her calm in asking, "And shall you?"

"I don't know.  I told him I would see; he only asked me last night.  It
would be kind of natural.  He was the fust.  You may think it is
strange"--

Miss Milray, in the superstition of her old-maidenhood concerning love,
really thought it cold-blooded and shocking; but she said, "Oh, no."

Clementina resumed: "And he says that if it was right for me to stop
caring for him when I did, it is right now for me to ca'e for him again,
where the'e's no one to be hu't by it.  Do you think it is?"

"Yes; why not?" Miss Milray was forced to the admission against what she
believed the finer feelings 'of her nature.

Clementina sighed, "I suppose he's right.  I always thought he was good.
Women don't seem to belong very much to themselves in this wo'ld, do
they?"

"No, they seem to belong to the men, either because they want the men, or
the men want them; it comes to the same thing.  I suppose you don't wish
me to advise you, my dear?"

"No.  I presume it's something I've got to think out for myself."

"But I think he's good, too.  I ought to say that much, for I didn't
always stand his friend with you.  If Mr. Gregory has any fault it's
being too scrupulous."

"You mean, about that old trouble--our not believing just the same?"
Miss Milray meant something much more temperamental than that, but she
allowed Clementina to limit her meaning, and Clementina went on.
"He's changed all round now.  He thinks it's all in the life.  He says
that in China they couldn't understand what he believed, but they could
what he lived.  And he knows I neva could be very religious."

It was in Miss Milray's heart to protest, "Clementina, I think you are
one of the most religious persons I ever knew," but she forebore, because
the praise seemed to her an invasion of Clementina's dignity.  She merely
said, "Well, I am glad he is one of those who grow more liberal as they
grow older.  That is a good sign for your happiness.  But I dare say it's
more of his happiness you think."

"Oh, I should like to be happy, too.  There would be no sense in it if I
wasn't."

"No, certainly not."

"Miss Milray," said Clementina, with a kind of abruptness, "do you eva
hear anything from Dr. Welwright?"

"No!  Why?" Miss Milray fastened her gaze vividly upon her.

"Oh, nothing.  He wanted me to promise him, there in Venice, too."

"I didn't know it."

"Yes.  But--I couldn't, then.  And now--he's written to me.  He wants me
to let him come ova, and see me."

"And--and will you?" asked Miss Milray, rather breathlessly.

"I don't know.  I don't know as I'd ought.  I should like to see him, so
as to be puffectly su'a.  But if I let him come, and then didn't--It
wouldn't be right!  I always felt as if I'd ought to have seen then that
he ca'ed for me, and stopped him; but I didn't.  No, I didn't," she
repeated, nervously.  "I respected him, and I liked him; but I neva"--
She stopped, and then she asked, "What do you think I'd ought to do, Miss
Milray?"

Miss Milray hesitated.  She was thinking superficially that she had never
heard Clementina say had ought, so much, if ever before.  Interiorly she
was recurring to a sense of something like all this before, and to the
feeling which she had then that Clementina was really cold-blooded and
self-seeking.  But she remembered that in her former decision, Clementina
had finally acted from her heart and her conscience, and she rose from
her suspicion with a rebound.  She dismissed as unworthy of Clementina
any theory which did not account for an ideal of scrupulous and unselfish
justice in her.

"That is something that nobody can say but yourself, Clementina," she
answered, gravely.

"Yes," sighed Clementina, "I presume that is so."

She rose, and took her little girl from Miss Milray's knee.  "Say good-
bye," she bade, looking tenderly down at her.

Miss Milray expected the child to put up her lips to be kissed.  But she
let go her mother's hand, took her tiny skirts between her finger-tips,
and dropped a curtsey.

"You little witch!" cried Miss Milray.  "I want a hug," and she crushed
her to her breast, while the child twisted her face round and anxiously
questioned her mother's for her approval.  "Tell her it's all right,
Clementina!" cried Miss Milray.  "When she's as old as you were in
Florence, I'm going to make you give her to me."

"Ah' you going back to Florence?" asked Clementina, provisionally.

"Oh, no!  You can't go back to anything.  That's what makes New York so
impossible.  I think we shall go to Los Angeles."




XL.

On her way home Clementina met a man walking swiftly forward.  A sort of
impassioned abstraction expressed itself in his gait and bearing.  They
had both entered the shadow of the deep pine woods that flanked the way
on either side, and the fallen needles helped with the velvety summer
dust of the roadway to hush their steps from each other.  She saw him far
off, but he was not aware of her till she was quite near him.

"Oh!" he said, with a start.  "You filled my mind so full that I couldn't
have believed you were anywhere outside of it.  I was coming to get you--
I was coming to get my answer."

Gregory had grown distinctly older.  Sickness and hardship had left
traces in his wasted face, but the full beard he wore helped to give him
an undue look of age.

"I don't know," said Clementina, slowly, "as I've got an answa fo' you,
Mr. Gregory--yet."

"No answer is better that the one I am afraid of!"

"Oh, I'm not so sure of that," she said, with gentle perplexity, as she
stood, holding the hand of her little girl, who stared shyly at the
intense face of the man before her.

"I am," he retorted.  "I have been thinking it all ever, Clementina.
I've tried not to think selfishly about it, but I can't pretend that my
wish isn't selfish.  It is!  I want you for myself, and because I've
always wanted you, and not for any other reason.  I never cared for any
one but you in the way I cared for you, and"--

"Oh!" she grieved.  "I never ca'ed at all for you after I saw him."

"I know it must be shocking to you; I haven't told you with any wretched
hope that it would commend me to you!"

"I don't say it was so very bad," said Clementina, reflectively, "if it
was something you couldn't help."

"It was something I couldn't help.  Perhaps I didn't try ."

"Did-she know it?"

"She knew it from the first; I told her before we were married."

Clementina drew back a little, insensibly pulling her child with her.
"I don't believe I exactly like it."

"I knew you wouldn't!  If I could have thought you would, I hope I
shouldn't have wished--and feared--so much to tell you."

"Oh, I know you always wanted to do what you believed was right, Mr.
Gregory," she answered.  "But I haven't quite thought it out yet.  You
mustn't hurry me."

"No, no!  Heaven forbid."  He stood aside to let her pass.

"I was just going home," she added.

"May I go with you?"

"Yes, if you want to.  I don't know but you betta; we might as well;
I want to talk with you.  Don't you think it's something we ought to talk
about-sensibly?"

"Why, of course!  And I shall try to be guided by you; I should always
submit to be ruled by you, if"--

"That's not what I mean, exactly.  I don't want to do the ruling.  You
don't undastand me."

"I'm afraid I don't," he assented, humbly.

"If you did, you wouldn't say that--so." He did not venture to make any
answer, and they walked on without speaking, till she asked, "Did you
know that Miss Milray was at the Middlemount?"

"Miss Milray!  Of Florence?"

"With her brother.  I didn't see him; Mrs. Milray is not he'a; they ah'
divo'ced.  Miss Milray used to be very nice to me in Florence.  She isn't
going back there any moa.  She says you can't go back to anything.
Do you think we can?"

She had left moments between her incoherent sentences where he might
interrupt her if he would, but he waited for her question.  "I hoped we
might; but perhaps"--

"No, no.  We couldn't.  We couldn't go back to that night when you threw
the slippas into the riva, no' to that time in Florence when we gave up,
no' to that day in Venice when I had to tell you that I ca'ed moa fo'
some one else.  Don't you see?"

"Yes, I see," he said, in quick revulsion from the hope he had expressed.
"The past is full of the pain and shame of my errors!"

"I don't want to go back to what's past, eitha," she reasoned, without
gainsaying him.

She stopped again, as if that were all, and he asked, "Then is that my
answer?"

"I don't believe that even in the otha wo'ld we shall want to go back to
the past, much, do you?" she pursued, thoughtfully.

Once Gregory would have answered confidently; he even now checked an
impulse to do so.  "I don't know," he owned, meekly.

"I do like you, Mr. Gregory!" she relented, as if touched by his
meekness, to the confession.  "You know I do--moa than I ever expected to
like anybody again.  But it's not because I used to like you, or because
I think you always acted nicely.  I think it was cruel of you, if you
ca'ed for me, to let me believe you didn't, afta that fust time.  I can't
eva think it wasn't, no matta why you did it."

"It was atrocious.  I can see that now."

"I say it, because I shouldn't eva wish to say it again.  I know that all
the time you we'e betta than what you did, and I blame myself a good deal
moa fo' not knowing when you came to Florence that I had begun to ca'e
fo'some one else.  But I did wait till I could see you again, so as to be
su'a which I ca'ed for the most.  I tried to be fai'a, before I told
you that I wanted to be free.  That is all," she said, gently, and
Gregory perceived that the word was left definitely to him.

He could not take it till he had disciplined himself to accept
unmurmuringly his sentence as he understood it.  "At any rate," he began,
"I can thank you for rating my motive above my conduct."

"Oh," she said.  "I don't think either of us acted very well.  I didn't
know till aftawa'ds that I was glad to have you give up, the way you did
in Florence.  I was--bewild'ed.  But I ought to have known, and I want
you to undastand everything, now.  I don't ca'e for you because I used to
when I was almost a child, and I shouldn't want you to ca'e for me eitha,
because you did then.  That's why I wish you had neva felt that you had
always ca'ed fo' me."

"Yes," said Gregory.  He let fall his head in despair.

"That is what I mean," said Clementina.  "If we ah' going to begin
togetha, now, it's got to be as if we had neva begun before.  And you
mustn't think, or say, or look as if the'e had been anything in oua lives
but ouaselves.  Will you?  Do you promise?"  She stopped, and put her
hand on his breast, and pushed against it with a nervous vehemence.

"No!" he said.  "I don't promise, for I couldn't keep my promise.  What
you ask is impossible.  The past is part of us; it can't be ignored any
more than it can be destroyed.  If we take each other, it must be for all
that we have been as well as all that we are.  If we haven't the courage
for that we must part."

He dropped the little one's hand which he had been holding, and moved a
few steps aside.  "Don't!" she said.  "They'll think I've made you," and
he took the child's hand again.

They had emerged from the shadow of the woods, and come in sight of her
father's house.  Claxon was standing coatless before the door in full
enjoyment of the late afternoon air; his wife beside him, at sight of
Gregory, quelled a natural impulse to run round the corner of the house
from the presence of strangers.

"I wonda what they'a sayin'," she fretted.

"It looks some as if she was sayin' yes," said Claxon, with an impersonal
enjoyment of his conjecture.  "I guess she saw he was bound not to take
no for an answa."

"I don't know as I should like it very much," his wife relucted.
"Clem's doin' very well, as it is.  She no need to marry again."

"Oh, I guess it a'n't that altogetha.  He's a good man."  Claxon mused a
moment upon the figures which had begun to advance again, with the little
one between them, and then gave way in a burst of paternal pride, "And I
don't know as I should blame him so very much for wantin' Clem.  She
always did want to be of moa use--But I guess she likes him too."




ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Didn't reason about their beliefs, but only argued
Dull, cold self-absorption
Everything seems to go
Gift of waiting for things to happen
He's so resting
It's the best that he doesn't seem prepared for
Life alone is credible to the young
Morbid egotism
Motives lie nearer the surface than most people commonly pretend
One time where one may choose safest what one likes best
Only man I ever saw who would know how to break the fall
Real artistocracy is above social prejudice
Singleness of a nature that was all pose
Submitted, as people always do with the trials of others
Sunny gayety of self-forgetfulness
Understood when I've said something that doesn't mean anything
We change whether we ought, or not
When she's really sick, she's better
Willing that she should do herself a wrong
Women don't seem to belong very much to themselves
You can't go back to anything
You were not afraid, and you were not bold; you were just right




End of this Project Gutenberg Etext of Ragged Lady, v2
by William Dean Howells






ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS FOR THE ENTIRE RAGGED LADY:

All in all to each other
Chained to the restless pursuit of an ideal not his own
Composed her features and her ideas to receive her visitor
Didn't reason about their beliefs, but only argued
Dull, cold self-absorption
Everything seems to go
Gift of waiting for things to happen
Going on of things had long ceased to bring pleasure
He a'n't a do-nothin'; he's a do-everything
He's so resting
Hopeful apathy in his face
I'm moa used to havin' the things brought to me
Inexhaustible flow of statement, conjecture and misgiving
It's the best that he doesn't seem prepared for
Kept her talking vacuities when her heart was full
Led a life of public seclusion
Life alone is credible to the young
Luxury of helplessness
Morbid egotism
Motives lie nearer the surface than most people commonly pretend
New England necessity of blaming some one
No object in life except to deprive it of all object
One time where one may choose safest what one likes best
Only man I ever saw who would know how to break the fall
Perverse reluctance to find out where they were
Provisional reprehension of possible shiftlessness
Real artistocracy is above social prejudice
Scant sleep of an elderly man
Seldom talked, but there came times when he would'nt even listen
Singleness of a nature that was all pose
Submitted, as people always do with the trials of others
Sunny gayety of self-forgetfulness
Thrown mainly upon the compassion of the chambermaids
Tone was a snuffle expressive of deep-seated affliction
Unaware that she was a selfish or foolish person
Under a fire of conjecture and asseveration
Understood when I've said something that doesn't mean anything
We change whether we ought, or not
Weak in his double letters
When she's really sick, she's better
Willing that she should do herself a wrong
Wishes of a mistress who did not know what she wanted
Women don't seem to belong very much to themselves
You can't go back to anything
You were not afraid, and you were not bold; you were just right
You've got a light-haired voice




End of this Project Gutenberg Etext of Ragged Lady, Complete
by William Dean Howells


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