Infomotions, Inc.Java Head / Hergesheimer, Joseph, 1880-1954



Author: Hergesheimer, Joseph, 1880-1954
Title: Java Head
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): ammidon; gerrit; taou yuen; taou; dunsack; nettie; sidsall; yuen; edward dunsack; gerrit ammidon; vollar; nettie vollar; rhoda; brevard; salem; roger brevard; jeremy; jeremy ammidon; barzil dunsack; laurel; william ammidon; kate vollar; edward; chinese; r
Contributor(s): Lowell, Orson, 1871-1956 [Illustrator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 68,099 words (short) Grade range: 10-12 (high school) Readability score: 57 (average)
Identifier: etext9865
Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

Discover what books you consider "great". Take the Great Books Survey.

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Java Head, by Joseph Hergesheimer
#5 in our series by Joseph Hergesheimer

Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing
this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.

This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project
Gutenberg file.  Please do not remove it.  Do not change or edit the
header without written permission.

Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the
eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of this file.  Included is
important information about your specific rights and restrictions in
how the file may be used.  You can also find out about how to make a
donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.


**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**

**eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971**

*****These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****


Title: Java Head

Author: Joseph Hergesheimer

Release Date: February, 2006 [EBook #9865]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on October 25, 2003]

Edition: 10

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK JAVA HEAD ***




Produced by Suzanne Shell, Mary Meehan, and PG Distributed Proofreaders




                               JAVA HEAD

                        By Joseph Hergesheimer

                                 1918




It is only the path of pure simplicity which guards and preserves the
spirit. _CHWANG-TZE_




TO HAZLETON MIRKIL, JR.

_from Dorothy and Joseph Hergesheimer_




I

Very late indeed in May, but early in the morning, Laurel Ammidon lay in
bed considering two widely different aspects of chairs. The day before
she had been eleven, and the comparative maturity of that age had filled
her with a moving disdain for certain fanciful thoughts which had given
her extreme youth a decidedly novel if not an actually adventurous
setting. Until yesterday, almost, she had regarded the various chairs of
the house as beings endowed with life and character; she had held
conversations with some, and, with a careless exterior not warranted by
an inner dread, avoided others in gloomy dusks. All this, now, she
contemptuously discarded. Chairs were--chairs, things to sit on, wood and
stuffed cushions.

Yet she was slightly melancholy at losing such a satisfactory lot of
reliable familiars: unlike older people, victims of the most
disconcerting moods and mysterious changes, chairs could always be
counted on to remain secure in their individual peculiarities.

She could see by her fireplace the elaborately carved teakwood chair
that her grandfather had brought home from China, which had never varied
from the state of a brown and rather benevolent dragon; its claws were
always claws, the grinning fretted mouth was perpetually fixed for a
cloud of smoke and a mild rumble of complaint. The severe waxed hickory
beyond with the broad arm for writing, a source of special pride, had
been an accommodating and precise old gentleman. The spindling gold
chairs in the drawingroom were supercilious creatures at a king's ball;
the graceful impressive formality of the Heppelwhites in the dining room
belonged to the loveliest of Boston ladies. Those with difficult
haircloth seats in the parlor were deacons; others in the breakfast room
talkative and unpretentious; while the deep easy-chair before the library
fire was a ship. There were mahogany stools, dwarfs of dark tricks; angry
high-backed things in the hall below; and a terrifying shape of gleaming
red that, without question, stirred hatefully and reached out curved and
dripping hands.

Anyhow, such they had all seemed. But lately she had felt a growing
secrecy about it, an increasing dread of being laughed at; and now,
definitely eleven, she recognized the necessity of dropping such pretense
even with herself. They were just chairs, she rerepeated; there was an
end of that.

The tall clock with the brass face outside her door, after a
premonitory whirring, loudly and firmly struck seven, and Laurel
wondered whether her sisters, in the room open from hers, were awake.
She listened attentively but there was no sound of movement. She made a
noise in her throat, that might at once have appeared accidental and
been successful in its purpose of arousing them; but there was no
response. She would have gone in and frankly waked Janet, who was not
yet thirteen and reasonable; but experience had shown her that Camilla,
reposing in the eminence and security of two years more, would permit no
such light freedom with her slumbers.

Sidsall, who had been given a big room for herself on the other side of
their parents, would greet anyone cheerfully no matter how tightly she
might have been asleep. And Sidsall, the oldest of them all, was nearly
sixteen and had stayed for part of their cousin Lucy Saltonstone's dance,
where no less a person than Roger Brevard had asked her for a quadrille.

Laurel's thoughts grew so active that she was unable to remain any
longer in bed; she freed herself from the enveloping linen and crossed
the room to a window through which the sun was pouring in a sharp bright
angle. She had never known the world to smell so delightful--it was one
of the notable Mays in which the lilacs blossomed--and she stood
responding with a sparkling life to the brilliant scented morning, the
honey-sweet perfume of the lilacs mingled with the faintly pungent odor
of box wet with dew.

She could see, looking back across a smooth green corner of the Wibirds'
lawn next door, the enclosure of their own back yard, divided from the
garden by a white lattice fence and row of prim grayish poplars. At the
farther wall her grandfather, in a wide palm leaf hat, was stirring about
his pear trees, tapping the ground and poking among the branches with his
ivory headed cane.

Laurel exuberantly performed her morning toilet, half careless, in her
soaring spirits, of the possible effect of numerous small ringings of
pitcher on basin, the clatter of drawers, upon Camilla. Yesterday she had
worn a dress of light wool delaine; but this morning, she decided
largely, summer had practically come; and, on her own authority, she got
an affair of thin pineapple cloth out of the yellow camphorwood chest.
She hurriedly finished weaving her heavy chestnut hair into two gleaming
plaits, fastened a muslin guimpe at the back, and slipped into her dress.
Here, however, she twisted her face into an expression of annoyance--her
years were affronted by the length of pantalets that hung below her
skirt. Such a show of their narrow ruffles might do for a very small
girl, but not for one of eleven; and she caught them up until only the
merest fulled edge was visible. Then she made a buoyant descent to the
lower hall, left the house by a side door to the bricked walk and an
arched gate into the yard, and joined her grandfather.

"Six bells in the morning watch," he announced, consulting a thick gold
timepiece. "Head pump rigged and deck swabbed down?" Secure in her
knowledge of the correct answers for these sudden interrogations Laurel
impatiently replied, "Yes, sir."

"Scuttle butt filled?"

"Yes, sir." She frowned and dug a heel in the soft ground.

"Then splice the keel and heave the galley overboard."

This last she recognized as a sally of humor, and contrived a fleeting
perfunctory smile. Her grandfather turned once more to the pears. "See
the buds on those Ashton Towns," he commented. Laurel gazed critically:
the varnished red buds were bursting with white blossom, the new leaves
unrolling, tender green and sticky. "But the jargonelles--" he drew in
his lips doubtfully. She studied him with the profound interest his sheer
being always invoked: she was absorbed in his surprising large roundness
of body, like an enormous pudding; in the deliberate care with which he
moved and planted his feet; but most of all by the fact that when he was
angry his face got quite purple, the color of her mother's paletot or a
Hamburg grape.

They crossed the yard to where the vines of the latter, and of white
Chasselas--Laurel was familiar with these names from frequent
horticultural questionings--had been laid down in cold frames for later
transplanting; and from them the old man, her palm tightly held in his,
trod ponderously to the currant bushes massed against the closed arcade
of the stables, the wood and coal and store houses, across the rear of
the place.

At last, with frequent disconcerting mutterings and explosive breaths,
he finished his inspection and turned toward the house. Laurel,
conscious of her own superiority of apparel, surveyed her companion in a
frowning attitude exactly caught from her mother. He had on that mussy
suit of yellow Chinese silk, and there was a spot on the waistcoat
straining at its pearl buttons. She wondered, maintaining the silent
mimicry of elder remonstrance, why he would wear those untidy old things
when his chests were heaped with snowy white linen and English
broadcloths. It was very improper in an Ammidon, particularly in one who
had been captain of so many big ships, and in court dress with a cocked
hat met the Emperor of Russia.

They did not retrace Laurel's steps, but passed through a narrow wicket
to the garden that lay directly behind the house. The enclosure was full
of robin-song and pouring sunlight; the lilac trees on either side of the
summer-house against the gallery of the stable were blurred with their
new lavender flowering; the thorned glossy foliage of the hedge of June
roses on Briggs Street glittered with diamonds of water; and the rockery
in the far corner showed a quiver of arbutus among its strange and lacy
ferns and mosses.

Laurel sniffed the fragrant air, filled with a tumult of energy; every
instinct longed to skip; she thought of jouncing as high as the poplars,
right over the house and into Washington Square beyond. "Miss Fidget!"
her grandfather exclaimed, exasperated, releasing her hand. "You're like
holding on to a stormy petrel."

"I don't think that's very nice," she replied.

"God bless me," he said, turning upon her his steady blue gaze; "what
have we got here, all dressed up to go ashore?" She sharply elevated a
shoulder and retorted, "Well, I'm eleven." His look, which had seemed
quite fierce, grew kindly again. "Eleven," he echoed with a satisfactory
amazement; "that will need some cumshaws and kisses." The first, she
knew, was a word of pleasant import, brought from the East, and meant
gifts; and, realizing that the second was unavoidably connected with it,
she philosophically held up her face. Lifting her over his expanse of
stomach he kissed her loudly. She didn't object, really, or rather she
wouldn't at all but for a strong odor of Manilla cheroots and the Medford
rum he took at stated periods.

After this they moved on, through the bay window of the drawing-room that
opened on the garden, where a woman was brushing with a nodding feather
duster, under the white arch that framed the main stairway, and turned
aside to where breakfast was being laid. Laurel saw that her father was
already seated at the table, intent upon the tall, thickly printed sheet
of the Salem _Register_. He paused to meet her dutiful lips; then with a
"Good morning, father," returned to his reading. Camilla entered at
Laurel's heels; and the latter, in a delight slightly tempered by doubt,
saw that she had been before her sister in a suitable dress for such a
warm day. Camilla still wore her dark merino; and she gazed with mingled
surprise and annoyance at Laurel's airy garb.

"Did mother say you might put that on?" she demanded. "Because if she
didn't I expect you will have to go right up from breakfast and change.
It isn't a dress at all for so early in the morning. Why, I believe it's
one of your very best." The look of critical disapproval suddenly became
doubly accusing.

"Laurel Ammidon, wherever are your pantalets?"

"I'm too big to have pantalets hanging down over my shoetops," she
replied defiantly, "and so I just hitched them up. You can still see the
frill." Janet had come into the room, and stood behind her. "Don't you
notice Camilla," she advised; "she's not really grown up." They turned at
the appearance of their mother. "Dear me, Camilla," the latter observed,
"you are getting too particular for any comfort. What has upset you now?"

"Look at Laurel," Camilla replied; "that's all you need to do. You'd
think she went to dances instead of Sidsall"

Laurel painfully avoided her mother's comprehensive glance. "Very
beautiful," the elder said in a tone of palpable pleasure. Laurel
advanced her lower lip ever so slightly in the direction of Camilla.
"But you have taken a great deal into your own hands." She shifted
apparently to another topic. "There will be no lessons to-day for I
have to send Miss Gomes into Boston." At this announcement Laurel was
flooded with a joy that obviously belonged to her former, less
dignified state. "However," her mother continued addressing her, "since
you have dressed yourself like a lady I shall expect you to behave
appropriately; no soiled or torn skirts, and an hour at your piano
scales instead of a half."

Laurel's anticipation of pleasure ebbed as quickly as it had come--she
would have to move with the greatest caution all day, and spend a whole
hour at the piano. It was the room to which she objected rather than the
practicing; a depressing sort of place where she was careful not to move
anything out of the stiff and threatening order in which it belonged. The
chairdeacons in particular were severely watchful; but that, now, she had
determined to ignore.

She turned to johnnycakes, honey and milk, only half hearing, in her
preoccupation with the injustice that had overtaken her, the conversation
about the table. Her gaze strayed over the walls of the breakfast room,
where water color drawings of vessels, half models of ships on teakwood
or Spanish mahogany boards, filled every possible space. Some her
grandfather had sailed in as second and then first mate, of others he had
been master, and the rest, she knew, were owned by Ammidon, Ammidon and
Saltonstone, her grandfather, father and uncle.

Just opposite her was the _Two Capes_ at anchor in Table Bay, the sails
all furled except the fore-topsail which hung in the gear. A gig manned
by six sailors in tarpaulin hats with an officer in the stern sheets
swung with dripping oars across the dark water of the foreground; on the
left an inky ship was standing in close hauled on the port tack with all
her canvas set. It was lighter about the _Two Capes_, and at the back a
mountain with a flat top--showing at once why it was called Table
Bay--rose against an overcast sky. Laurel knew a great deal about the
_Two Capes_--for instance that she had been a barque of two hundred and
nine tons--because it had been her grandfather's first command, and he
never tired of narrating every detail of that memorable voyage.

Laurel could repeat most of these particulars: They sailed on the tenth
of April in 'ninety-three, and were four and a half months to the Cape of
Good Hope; twenty days later, on the rocky island of St. Paul,
grandfather had a fight with a monster seal; a sailor took the scurvy,
and, dosed with niter and vinegar, was stowed in the longboat, but he
died and was buried at sea in the Doldrums. Then, with a cargo of Sumatra
pepper, they made Corregidor Island and Manilla Bay where the old Spanish
fort stood at the mouth of the Pasig. The barque, the final cargo of hemp
and indigo and sugar in the hold, set sail again for the Cape of Good
Hope, and returned, by way of Falmouth in England and Rotterdam, home.

The other drawings were hardly less familiar; ships, barques, brigs and
topsail schooners, the skillful work of Salmon, Anton Roux and Chinnery.
There was the _Celestina_ becalmed off Marseilles, her sails hanging idly
from the yards and stays, her hull with painted ports and carved bow and
stern mirrored in the level sea. There was the _Albacore_ running through
the northeast trades with royals and all her weather studding sails set.
Farther along the _Pallas Athena_, in heavy weather off the Cape of Good
Hope, was being driven hard across the Agulhas Bank under double-reefed
topsails, reefed courses, the fore-topmast staysail and spanker, with the
westerly current breaking in an ugly cross sea, but, as her grandfather
always explained, setting the ship thirty or forty miles to windward in a
day. She lingered, finally, over the _Metacom_, running her easting down
far to the southward with square yards under a close-reefed maintop sail,
double-reefed foresail and forestaysail, dead before a gale and gigantic
long seas hurling the ship on in the bleak watery desolation.

Laurel was closely concerned in all these. One cause for this was the
fact that her grandfather so often selected her as the audience for his
memories and stories, during which his manner was completely that of one
navigator to another; and a second flourished in the knowledge that
Camilla affected to disdain the sea and any of its connections.

Sidsall appeared and took her place with a collective greeting; while
Laurel, coming out of her abstraction, realized that they were discussing
the subject in which nearly every conversation now began or ended--the
solemn speculation of why her Uncle Gerrit Ammidon, master of the ship
_Nautilus_, was so long overdue from China. Laurel heard this from two
angles, or, otherwise, when her grandfather was or was not present, the
tone of the first far more encouraging than that of the latter. Her
father was speaking:

"My opinion is that he was unexpectedly held up at Shanghai. It's a new
port for us, and, Captain Verney tells me, very difficult to make: after
Woosung you have to get hold of two bamboo poles stuck up on the bank a
hundred feet apart as a leading mark, and, with these in range, steer for
the bar. The channel is very narrow, and he says the _Nautilus_ would
have to wait for high water, perhaps for the spring tide. She may have
got ashore, strained and sprung a leak, and had to discharge her cargo
for repairs."

"That's never Gerrit," the elder replied positively. "There isn't a
better master afloat. He can smell shoal water. I was certain we'd hear
from him when the _Sorsogon_ was back from Calcutta. Do you suppose,
William, that he took the _Nautilus_ about the Horn and--?" Laurel
wondered at the unmannerly way in which he gulped his coffee. "He might
have driven into the Antarctic winter," he proceeded. "My deck was swept
and all the boats stove off the Falklands in April."

"Gerrit's got a ship," the other asserted, "not a hermaphrodite brig
built like a butter box. You'll find that I am right and that he has been
tied up in port."

"I made eight hundred per cent on a first cargo for my owners," the elder
retorted. "Then there was trading, yes, and sailing, too. No chronometers
with confounded rates of variation and other fancy parlor instruments to
read your position from. When I first navigated it was with an astrolabe
and the moon. A master knew his lead, latitude and lookout then.

"Eight hundred barrels of flour and pine boards to Rio and back with
coffee and hides for Salem," he continued; "then out to Gibraltar and
Brazil with wine and on in ballast for Calcutta. Tahiti and Morea, the
Sandwich Islands and the Feejees. Sandalwood and tortoise shell and beche
de mer; sea horses' teeth, and saltpeter for the Chinese Government. I
don't want to hear about your bills of exchange and kegs of Spanish
dollars and solid cargoes of tea run back direct. Why, with your Canton
and India agents and sight drafts the China service is like dealing with
a Boston store."

Laurel saw that her father was assuming the expression of restrained
annoyance habitual when the elder contrasted old shipping ways with new.
"Unfortunately," he said, "the patient Chinaman will no longer exchange
silks and lacquer and teas for boiled sea slugs. He has learned to demand
something of value."

"Why, damn it, William," the other exploded, "nothing's more valuable to
a Chinese than his belly. They'll give eighteen hundred dollars a pecul
for birds' nests any day. As for your insinuation that we used to diddle
them--I never ran opium up from India to rot their souls. And when the
Chinese Government tried to stop it there's the British commercial
interests forcing it on them with cannon in 'forty-two.

"Look at the pepper we brought into Salem--" he was, Laurel realized with
intense interest, growing beautifully empurpled; "--lay right off the
beach at Mukka and did business with the Dato himself. We forded the bags
on the crew's backs across a river with muskets served in case the bloody
heathen drew their creeses. When we made sail everything was running over
with pepper--the boats and forecastle and cabins and between decks."

"Well, father, the heroic times are done, of course; I can't say that I'm
sorry. I shouldn't like to finance a voyage that reached out to three
years and depended on the captain's picking up six or seven cargoes."

The old man rose; and, muttering a plainly uncomplimentary period about
the resemblance of modern ship owners to clerks, walked with his heavy
careful tread from the room.

"You are so foolish to argue and excite him," William's wife told him.

Laurel regarded her with a passionate admiration for the shining hair
turning smoothly about her brow and drawn over her ears to the low coil
in the back, for her brown barege dress with velvet leaves and blue
forget-me-nots and tightest of long sleeves and high collar, and because
generally she was a mother to be owned and viewed with pride. She met
Laurel's gaze with a little friendly nod and said:

"Don't forget about your clothes, and I think you ought to finish the
practicing before dinner, so you'll be free for a walk with your
grandfather in the afternoon."

Soon after, Laurel stood in the hall viewing with disfavor the light
dress she had put on so gayly at rising. In spite of her sense of
increasing age she had a strong desire to play in the yard and climb
about in the woodhouse. Already the business of being grown up began to
pall upon her, the outlook dreary that included nothing but a whole hour
at the piano, an endless care of her skirts, and the slowest kind of walk
through Washington Square and down to Derby Wharf, where--no matter in
which direction and for what purpose they started forth--her
grandfather's way invariably led.

Janet joined her, and they stood irresolutely balancing on alternate
slippers. "Did you notice," the former volunteered, "mother is letting
Camilla have lots of starch in her petticoats, so that they stand right
out like crinoline? Wasn't she hateful this morning!" Laurel heard a
slight sound at her back, and, wheeling, saw her grandfather looking out
from the library door. A swift premonition of possible additional
misfortune seized her. Moving toward the side entrance she said to Janet,
"We'd better be going right away."

It was, however, too late. "Well, little girls," he remarked
benevolently, "since Miss Gomes has left for the day it would be as well
if I heard your geography lesson."

"I don't think mother intended for us to study today," Laurel replied,
making a face of appeal for Janet's support. But the latter remained
solidly and silently neutral.

"What, what," the elder mildly exploded; "mutiny in the forecastle! Get
right up here in the break of the quarter-deck or I'll harry you." He
stood aside while Laurel and Janet filed into the library. Geography was
the only subject their grandfather proposed for his instruction, and the
lesson, she knew, might take any one of several directions. He sometimes
heard it with the precision of Miss Gomes herself; he might substitute
for the regular questions such queries, drawn from his wide voyages, as
he thought to be of infinitely greater use and interest; or, better
still, he frequently gave them the benefit of long reminiscences,
through which they sat blinking in a mechanical attention or slightly
wriggling with minds far away from the old man's periods, full of
outlandish names and places, and, when he got excited, shocking swears.

He turned the easy-chair--the one which Laurel had thought of as a
ship--away from the fireplace, now covered with a green slatted blind for
the summer; and they drew forward two of the heavy chairs with shining
claw feet that stood against the wall. Smiley's Geography, a book no
larger than the shipmaster's hand, was found and opened to Hindoostan, or
India within the Ganges. There was a dark surprising picture of Hindoos
doing Penance under the Banyan tree, and a confusing view of the Himaleh
Mountains.

"Stuff," he proceeded, gazing with disfavor at the illustrations. "This
ought to be written by men who have seen the world and know its tides and
landmarks. Do you suppose," he demanded heatedly of Janet, "that the
fellow who put this together ever took a ship through the Formosa Channel
against the northeast monsoon?"

"No, sir," Janet replied hastily.

"Here are Climate and Face of the country and Religion," he located these
items with a blunt finger, "but I can't find exports. I'll lay he won't
know a Bengal chintz from a bundle handkerchief."

"I don't think it says anything about exports," Laurel volunteered. "We
have the boundaries and--"

"Bilge," he interrupted sharply. "I didn't fetch boundaries back in the
_Two Capes_, did I?" He thrust the offending volume into a crevice of his
chair. "Laurel," he added, "what is the outport of St. Petersburg?"

"Cronstadt," she answered, after a violent searching of her memory.

"And for Manilla?" he turned to Janet.

"I can't think," she admitted.

"Laurel?"

"Cavite," the latter pronounced out of a racking mental effort.

"Just so, and--" he looked up at the ceiling, "the port for Boston?"

"I don't believe we've had that," she said firmly. His gaze fastened on
her so intently that she blushed into her lap. "Don't believe we've had
it," he echoed.

"Why, confound it--" he paused and regarded her with a new doubt.
"Laurel," he demanded, "what is an outport?"

She had a distinct feeling of justifiable injury. A recognized part of
the present system of examination was its strict limitation to questions
made familiar by constant repetition; and this last was entirely new.
She was sure of several kinds of ports--one they had after dinner,
another indicated a certain side of a vessel, and still a third was
Salem. But an outport--Cronstadt, Cavite, what it really meant, what they
were, had escaped her. She decided to risk an opinion.

"An outport," she said slowly, "is a--a part of a ship," that much
seemed safe--"I expect it's the place where they throw things like
potato peels through."

"You suppose what!" he cried, breathing quite hard. "A place where
they--" he broke off. "And you're Jeremy Ammidon's granddaughter! By
heaven, it would make a coolie laugh. It's like William, who never would
go to sea, to have four daughters in place of a son. I'm done with you;
go tinker on the piano." They got down from their chairs and departed
with an only half concealed eagerness. "Do you think he means it," Janet
asked hopefully, "and he'll never have any geography again?"

"No, I don't," Laurel told her shortly. She was inwardly ruffled, and
further annoyed at Janet's placid acceptance of whatever the day brought
along. Janet was a stick! She turned away and found herself facing the
parlor and the memory of the impending hour of practice. Well, it had to
be done before dinner, and she went forward with dragging feet.

Within the formal shaded space of the chamber she stopped to speculate
on the varied and colorful pictures of the wall paper reaching from the
white paneling above her waist to the deep white carving at the ceiling.
The scene which absorbed her most showed, elevated above a smooth stream,
a marble pavilion with sweeping steps and a polite company about a
reclining gentleman with bare arms and a wreath on his head and a lady in
flowing robes playing pipes. To the right, in deep green shadow, a
charmer was swinging from ropes of flowers, lovers hid behind a brown
mossy trunk; while on the left, against a weeping willow and frowning
rock, four serene creatures gathered about a barge with a gilded prow.

Still on her reluctant progress to the piano she stopped to examine the
East India money on the lowest shelf of a locked corner cupboard. There
was a tiresome string of cash with a rattan twisted through their square
holes; silver customs taels, and mace and candareen; Chinese gold leaf
and Fukien dollars; coins from Cochin China in the shape of India ink,
with raised edges and characters; old Carolus hooked dollars; Sycee
silver ingots, smooth and flat above, but roughly oval on the lower
surface, not unlike shoes; Japanese obangs, their gold stamped and beaten
out almost as broad as a hand's palm; mohurs and pieces from Singapore;
Dutch guilders from Java; and the small silver and gold drops of Siam
called tical.

She arrived finally at the harplike stool of the piano; but there she had
to wait until the clock in the hall above struck some division of the
hour for her guidance, and she rattled the brass rings that formed the
handles of drawers on either side of the keyboard. Later, her fingers
picking a precarious way through bass and treble, she heard Sidsall's
voice at the door; the latter was joined by their mother, and they went
out to the clatter of hoofs, the thin jingle of harness chains, where the
barouche waited for them in the street. Once Camilla obtruded into the
room. "I wonder you don't give yourself a headache," she remarked; "I
never heard more nerve-racking sounds."

Laurel gathered that Camilla was proud of this expression, which she must
have newly caught from some grown person. She considered a reply, but,
nothing sufficiently crushing occurring, she ignored the other in a
difficult transposition of her hands. Camilla left; the clock above
struck a second quarter; the third, while she honestly continued her
efforts up until the first actual note of the hour.

"Thank God that's over," she said in the liberal manner of a shipmaster.
Now only the walk with her grandfather remained of the actively tiresome
duties of the day. After dinner the sun blazed down with almost the heat
of midsummer, and Laurel felt unexpectedly indifferent, content to linger
in the house. Only too soon she heard inquiries for her; and in her
gaiter boots, a silk bonnet with a blue scarf tied under her chin and
flowing over a shoulder and palm leaf cashmere shawl, she accompanied the
old man across Pleasant Street and over the wide green Square to the
arched west gate with its gilt eagle and Essex Street.

"Will we be going on Central Street?" she asked.

"No reason for turning down there," he replied, forgetful of the
gingerbread shop with the shaky little bell inside the door, the buttered
gingerbread on the upper shelf for three cents and that without on the
lower for two. She gathered her hopes now about Webb's Drugstore, where
her grandfather sometimes stopped for a talk, and bought her rock candy,
Gibraltars or blackjacks. It was too hot for blackjacks, she decided,
and, with opportunity, would choose the cooling peppermint flavor of the
Gibraltars.

The elms on Essex Street were far enough in leaf to cast a flickering
shade in the faintly salt air drifting from the sea; and they progressed
so slowly that Laurel was able to study the contents of most of the store
windows they passed. Some held crewels and crimped white cakes of wax,
gayly colored reticule beads with a wooden spoon for a penny measure, and
"strawberry" emery balls. There was a West India store and a place where
they sold oil and candles, another had charts for mariners; while across
the way stood the East India Marine Hall.

Here her grandfather hesitated, and for a moment it seemed as if he would
go over and join the masters always to be found about the Museum. But in
the end he continued beyond the Essex House with its iron bow and lamp
over the entrance, past Cheapside to Webb's Drugstore, where he purchased
a bag of Peristaltic lozenges, and--after pretending to start away as if
nothing more were to be secured there--the Gibraltars.

They were returning, in the general direction of Derby Wharf, when Jeremy
Ammidon met a companion of past days at sea, and stopped for the
inevitable conversational exchange. The latter, who had such a great
spreading beard that Laurel couldn't determine whether or not he wore a
neck scarf, said:

"Barzil Dunsack all but died."

"Ha!" the other exclaimed. Laurel wondered at the indelicacy in speaking
about old Captain Dunsack to her grandfather, when everyone in Salem knew
they had quarreled years ago and not spoken to each other since.

"He was bad off," he persisted; "a cold grappled in his chest and went
into lung fever. Barzil's looking wasted, what with sickness and the
trouble about Edward." At a nod, half encouraging, he added, "It appears
Edward left Heard and Company in Canton and took ship back to Boston.
He's there now for what I know. Never sent any word to Salem or his
father. Looks a little as if he had been turned out of his berth. Then
one of Barzil's schooners caught the edge of the last hurricane off the
Great Bank and went ashore on Green Turtle Key. Used him near all up."

Laurel saw that her grandfather was frowning heavily and silently moving
his lips. The other left them standing and her companion brought his cane
down sharply. "Boy and boy," he said. "Barzil was a good man... looking
old. So am I, so am I. Feet almost useless. Laurel," he addressed her, "I
want you to go right on home. I've got to stop around and see an old
friend who has been sick." She left obediently, but paused once to gaze
back incredulously at the bulky shape of her grandfather moving toward
Barzil Dunsack's. That quarrel was part of their family history, she had
been aware of it as long as she had of the solemn clock in the second
hall; and not very far back, perhaps when she was eight, it had taken a
fresh activity of discussion around the person of her Uncle Gerrit, who,
it was feared, might now be drowned at sea. What it had all been about
neither she nor her sisters knew, for not only was the subject dropped at
the approach of any of them but they were forbidden to mention it.

At home she was unable to communicate her surprising news at once because
of the flood of talk that met her from the drawing-room. Olive Wibird and
Lacy, her cousin, were engaged with Sidsall in a conversation often a
duet and sometimes a trio. Laurel took a seat at the edge of the chatter
and followed it comprehensively. She didn't like Olive Wibird who would
greet her in a sugary voice; but elsewhere Olive was tremendously
admired, there were always men about her, serenades rising from the lawn
beneath her window, and Laurel herself had seen Olive's dressing table
laden with bouquets in frilly lace paper. She had one now, in a holder of
mother-of-pearl, with a gilt chain and ring. Her wide skirt was a mass of
over-drapery, knots of moss roses and green gauze ribbons; while a silver
cord ending in a tassel fell forward among her curls.

Lacy Saltonstone, almost as plainly dressed as Sidsall, was as usual
sitting straighter than anyone else Laurel ever saw; she had a brown
face with a finely curved nose and brown eyes, and her voice was cool
and decided.

"For me," she said, "he is the most fascinating person in Salem."

Olive Wibird made a swift face of dissent. "He's too stiff and there is
gray in his hair. I like my men more like sparkling hock. Dancing with
him he holds you as if you were glass."

"I don't seem to remember you and Mr. Brevard together," Lacy commented.

"He hasn't asked me for centuries," the other admitted. "He did Sidsall,
though, as we all remember; didn't he, love?"

Sidsall's cheeks turned bright pink. Laurel dispassionately wished that
her sister wouldn't make such a show of herself. It was too bad that
Sidsall was so--so broad and well looking; she was not in the least pale
or interesting, and had neither Lacy's Saltonstone's thin gracefulness
nor Olive's popular manner.

"It was very noble of him," Sidsall agreed.

"But he was extremely engaged," Lacy assured her with her wide slow
stare. "He told me that you were like apple blossoms."

That might please Sidsall, thought Laurel, but she personally held apple
blossoms to be a very common sort of flower. Evidently something of the
kind had occurred to Olive, too, for she said: "Heaven only knows what
men will admire. It's clear they don't like a prude. I intend to have a
good time until I get married--"

"But what if you love in vain?" Sidsall interrupted.

"There isn't any need for that," Olive told her. "When I see a man I
want I'm going to get him. It's easy if you know how and make
opportunities. I always have one garter a little loose."

"Laurel," her sister turned, "I'm certain your supper is ready. Go along
like a nice child."

In her room a woman with a flat worn face and a dusty wisp of hair across
her neck was spreading underlinen, ironed into beautiful narrow wisps of
pleating, in a drawer. It was Hodie, a Methodist, the only one Laurel
knew, and the latter was always entranced by the servant's religious
exclamations, doubts and audible prayers. She was saying something now
about pits, gauds and vanities; and she ended a short profession of faith
with an amen so loud and sudden that Laurel, although she was waiting for
it, jumped.

It was past seven, the air was so sweet with lilacs that they seemed to
be blooming in her room, and the sunlight died slowly from still space.
By leaning out of her window she could see over the Square. The
lamplighter was moving along its wooden fence, leaving faint twinkling
yellow lights, and there were little gleams from the windows on Bath
Street beyond.

The gayety of her morning mood was replaced by a dim kind of wondering,
her thoughts became uncertain like the objects in the quivering light
outside. The palest possible star shone in the yellow sky; she had to
look hard or it was lost. Janet, stirring in the next room, seemed so far
away that she might not hear her, Laurel, no matter how loudly she
called. "Janet!" she cried, prompted by unreasoning dread. "You needn't
to yell," Janet complained, at the door. But already Laurel was oblivious
of her: she had seen a familiar figure slowly crossing Washington Square
--her grandfather coming home from Captain Dunsack's.

Gracious, how poky he was; she was glad that she wasn't dragging along at
his side. He seemed bigger and rounder than usual. She heard the tap of
his cane as he left the Common for Pleasant Street; then his feet moved
and stopped, moved and stopped, up the steps of their house.

She was sorry now that she hadn't known what an outport was, and
determined to ask him to-morrow. She liked his stories, that Camilla
disdained, about crews and Hong Kong and the stormy Cape. The thought of
Cape Horn brought back the memory of her Uncle Gerrit, absent in the
ship _Nautilus_. Her mental pictures of him were not clear--he was
almost always at sea--but she remembered his eyes, which were very
confusing to encounter, and his hair parted and carelessly brushing the
bottoms of his ears.

Laurel recalled hearing that Gerrit was his father's favorite, and she
suddenly understood something of the unhappiness that weighed upon the
old man. She hoped desperately that Janet or Camilla wouldn't come in and
laugh at her for crying. In bed she saw that the room was rapidly filling
with dusk. Only yesterday she would have told herself that the dragon in
the teakwood chair was stirring; but now Laurel could see that it never
moved. She rocked like the little boats that crossed the harbor or came
in from the ships anchored beyond the wharves, and settled into a sleep
like a great placid sea flooding the world of her home and the
lamplighter and her grandfather sorrowing for Uncle Gerrit.




II

When Jeremy Ammidon sent his granddaughter home alone, and turned toward
Captain Dunsack's, on Hardy Street, he stopped for a moment to approve
the diminishing sturdy figure. All William's children, though they were
girls, were remarkably handsome, with glowing red cheeks and clear eyes,
tumbling masses of hair and a generous vigor of body. He sighed at
Laurel's superabundant youth, and moved carefully forward; he was very
heavy, and his progress was uncertain. His thoughts were divided between
the present and the past--Barzil Dunsack, aged and ill and unfortunate,
and the happening long ago that had resulted in a separation of years
after a close youthful companionship.

It had occurred while Barzil was master of the brig _Luna,_ owned by
Billy Gray, and he, Jeremy, was first mate. In the exactness with which
he recalled every detail of his life in ships he remembered that at the
time they were off Bourbon Island, about a hundred and ten miles
southwest of the lie de France. The _Luna_ was close hauled, and, while
Barzil was giving an order at the wheel, she fetched a bad lee lurch
and sent him in a heap across the deck, striking his head against the
bumkin bitts. He had got up dazed but not apparently seriously injured;
and after his head had been swabbed and bound by the steward he
returned to the poop. There, however, his conduct had been so
peculiar--among other things sending down the watch to put on Sunday
rig against a possible hail by the Lord--that, after a long
consultation with Mr. Patterson, the second mate and the boatswain, and
a brief announcement to the crew, he, Jeremy Ammidon, had taken command
in their interest and that of the owner.

Barzil had made difficulties: Mr. Patterson struck up a leveled pistol in
the master's hand just as it exploded. They had confined him, in charge
of the unhappy steward, to his cabin; where, after he had completely
recovered from the effects of the blow, and Jeremy had been upheld by the
authorities at Table Bay, he stubbornly remained until the _Luna_ had
been warped into Salem.

From the moment of their landing they had not exchanged a word. Jeremy
was surprised to find himself at present bound toward the other's house.
He was not certain that Barzil would even see him; but, he muttered, the
thing had lasted long enough, they were too old for such foolishness; and
the other had come into adverse winds, now, when he should be lying
quietly in a snug harbor.

He had never paid serious attention to the threatened complication two or
three years before, when Gerrit had been seen repeatedly with Kate
Dunsack's irregularly born daughter. He was sorry for the two women. It
was his opinion that the man had been shipped drunk by some boarding
house runner; anyhow, only the second day out Vollar had been lost
overboard from the main-royal yard, and Kate's child born outside the
law. It was hard, he told himself again, walking down Orange Street, past
the Custom House to Derby.

The girl, Nettie Vollar--they had adopted the father's name--was
attractive in a decided French way, with crisp black hair, a pert nose
and dimple, and, why, good heavens, twenty-one or two years old if she
was a week! How time did run. It was nothing extraordinary if Gerrit had
been seen a time or two with her on the street, or even if he had called
at the Dunsacks'. Barzil's and his quarrel didn't extend to all the
members of their families; and as for the Dunsacks being common--that was
nonsense. Barzil was as good as he any day; only where he had prospered,
and moved up into a showy place on the Common, the other had had the
head winds. Through no fault of his own the reputation had fastened on
him of being unlucky in his cargoes: if he carried tea and colonial
exports to, say, Antwerp, they would have been declared contraband while
he was at sea, and seized on the docks; he had been blown, in an
impenetrable fog, ashore on Tierra del Fuego, and, barely making Cape
Pembroke, had been obliged to beach his ship, a total loss. Then there
was Kate's trouble. Barzil was a rigorously moral and religious man and
his pain at that last must have been heavy.

Jeremy Ammidon's mind turned to Gerrit, his son; this interest in Nettie
Vollar, if it had existed, was characteristic of the boy, who had a quick
heart and an honest disdain for the muddling narrow ways of the land. He
would have sought her out simply from the instinct to protest against the
smugness of Salem opinion. A fine sailor, and a master at twenty-two. A
great one to carry sail; yet in the sixteen years of his commands he had
had no more serious accident than the loss of a fore-topgallant mast or
splitting a couple of courses. It was Gerrit's ability, the splendid
qualities of his ship, that made Jeremy hope he would still come sailing
into the harbor with some narration of delay and danger overcome.

He was now on Derby Street, in a region of rigging and sail lofts, block
and pump makers, ships' stores, spar yards, gilders, carvers and workers
in metal. There was a strong smell of tar and new canvas and the flat
odor that rose at low water. Sailors passed, yellow powerful
Scandinavians and dark men with earrings from southern latitudes, in red
or checked shirts, blue dungarees and glazed black hats with trailing
ribbons, or in cheap and clumsy shore clothes. There was a scraping of
fiddle from an upper window, the sound of heavy capering feet and the
stale laughter of harborside women.

On Hardy Street he continued to the last house at the right, the farther
side of which gave across a yard of uneven bricks, straggling bushes and
aged splitting apple trees and an expanse of lush grass ending abruptly
in a wooden embankment and the water. A short fence turned in from the
sidewalk to the front door, where Jeremy knocked. A long pause followed,
in which he became first impatient and then irritable; and he was lifting
his hand for a second summons when the door suddenly opened and he was
facing Kate Vollar. There was only a faint trace of surprise on her
apathetic--Jeremy Ammidon called it moonlike--countenance; as if her
overwhelming mischance had robbed her features of all further expressions
of interest or concern.

"I heard," Jeremy said in a voice pitched loud enough to conceal any
inward uncertainty, "that your father had been sick. Met Captain Rendell
on Essex Street and he said Barzil had lung fever. Thought I'd see if
there was any truth in it."

"He just managed to stay alive," Kate Vollar replied, gazing at him with
her stilled gray eyes. "But he's better now, though he's not up and about
yet. Shall I tell him that--that you are here?"

"Yes. Just say Jeremy Ammidon's below, and would like to pass a greeting
with him."

He followed the woman in, and entered a large gloomy chamber while she
mounted the stair leading directly from the front. The blackened
fireplace gaping uncovered for the summer, the woodwork, painted yellow
with an artificial graining, and a stiff set of ebonized chairs, their
dingy crimson plush backs protected by elaborate thread antimacassars,
seemed to hold and reflect the misfortunes of their owner. Jeremy picked
up an ostrich egg, painted with a clump of viciously green coconut palms
and a cottony surf; he put it down with an absent smile and impatiently
fingered a volume of "The Life of Harriet Atwood Newell." She was one of
the missionaries who had gone out on the _Caravan_, with Augustine Heard,
to India, but forbidden to land there had died not long after on the Ile
de France.

"Houqua was a damned good heathen," he said aloud: "and so was
Nasservanjee." He left the table and proceeded to a window opening upon
the harbor, here fretted with wharves. A barque was fast in a small
stone-bound dock, newly in, his practiced glance saw, from a blue water
voyage, Africa probably. Her standing gear was in a perfection and beauty
of order that spoke of long tranquil days in the trades, and that no mere
harbor riggers could hope to accomplish. The deck was burdened with the
ugly confusion of unloading. Jeremy studied the jibs stowed in harbor
covers, the raking masts and tapering royal poles over the stolid roofs.
Ordinarily seeing no more he could not only name a vessel trading out of
Salem, but from her rig recognize anyone of a score of masters who,
otherwise unheralded, might be in command.

However, here he was at a loss, and he thought again of the change, the
decline, that had overtaken Salem shipping, the celebrated merchants; the
pennants of William Gray, he reflected, had flown from the main truck of
fifteen ships, seven barques, thirteen brigs and schooners. Ammidon,
Ammidon and Saltonstone, in spite of his vehement protests, the counsel
of the oldest member of the firm, were moving shipment by shipment all
their business to Boston, listening to the promptings of State Street and
Central Wharf.

To the right was the sagging landing from which Barzil's schooners
sailed trading with the West Indies; and back of it, and of his
house, stood the small office. His mind had turned to this
inconsiderable commerce when Kate Vollar entered and told him that
her father would see him.

Barzil Dunsack was propped up in bed in a room above that in which Jeremy
had been waiting. He, totally different from the other, showed his age in
sunken dry cheeks, a forehead like an arch of bone, and a thick short
gray beard. A long faded lock of hair had been hastily brushed forward
and an incongruously bright knitted scarf drawn about his shoulders.

Jeremy Ammidon concealed his dismay not only at Barzil's wrecked being
but at the dismal aspect of the interior, the worn rugs with their pieces
of once bright material frayed and loose, the splitting veneer of an old
chest of drawers and blistered mirror above a dusty iron grate. "You have
got in among the rocks!" he exclaimed. "Still they tell me you've
weathered the worst. Copper bound and oak ribs. Don't build them like
that to-day."

Barzil Dunsack's eyes were bright and searching behind steel-rimmed
spectacles, and he studied Jeremy without replying. "Well, isn't there a
salute in you?" the latter demanded, incensed. "I'm not a Malay proa."

The grim shadow of a smile dawned on Barzil's countenance. "I mind one
hanging on our quarter by Formosa," he returned; "I trained a cannon aft
and fired a shot, when she sheered off. That was in the _Flora_ in
'ninety-seven."

A long silence enveloped them. Jeremy's mind was thronged with memories
of ports and storms, mates and ships and logged days. "Remember Oahu like
it was when we first made it," he queried, "and the Kanaka girls swimming
out to the ship with hybiscus flowers in their hair? Yes, and the
anchorage at Tahiti with the swells pounding on the coral reef and
Papeete under the mountain? It was nice there in the afternoon, lying off
the beach with the white cottages among the palms and orange trees and
the band playing in the grove by Government House."

Captain Dunsack frowned at the trivial character of these memories. He
muttered something about the weight of the Lord, and the carnal hearts of
the men in ships. Jeremy declared, "Stuff! He'll wink at a sailor man
with hardly a free day on shore. It wasn't bad at Calcutta, either, with
an awning on the quarter-deck, watching the carriages and syces in the
Maidan and maybe a corpse or two floating about the gangway from the
burning ghauts."

"A mean entrance," Barzil Dunsack asserted. "I don't know a worse with
the southwest monsoon in the Bay of Bengal and the pilot brigs gone
from the Sand Heads. That's where Heard got pounded with the _Emerald_
drawing nineteen feet, and eighteen on the bar. Shook the reefs out of
his topsails, laid her on her beam ends, and with some inches saved
scraped in."

"Pick up the three Juggernaut Pagodas of Ganjam," Jeremy remarked
absently.

"'Thou shalt have no other God--'"

Jeremy, with a glint in his eye, asked, "Wasn't your last consignment of
West India molasses marked Medford?"

"You always were a scoffer," the other replied, unmoved.

"How's Nettie?" Jeremy Ammidon inquired with a deliberate show of
interest.

Barzil's lips tightened. "I haven't seen her for a little," he replied.
"She's been visiting at Ipswich." Jeremy added, "A good girl," but the
man in bed made no further comment. His undimmed gaze was fastened upon a
wall, his mouth folded in a hard line on a harsh and deeply seamed
countenance. An able man pursued by bad luck.

"Nothing's been heard from Gerrit," Jeremy said after a little. Still the
other kept silent. His face darkened: by God, if Barzil hadn't a decent
word for the fact that Gerrit was seven months overdue, perhaps lost,
this was not a house for him. "I say that we've had nothing from my son
since he lay in the Lye-ee-Moon Pass off Hong Kong," he repeated sharply.

A spasm of suffering, instantly controlled, passed over Barzil's face.
"Gerrit called once and again before he last sailed for Montevideo," he
finally pronounced. "I stopped it and he left in a temper. I--I won't
have another mortal sin here like Kate's."

"Do you mean that Gerrit's loose?" Jeremy hotly demanded, rising. "A
more honorable boy never breathed." Barzil was cold. "I told him not to
come back," he repeated; "it would only lead to--to shamefulness."
Jeremy shook his cane toward the bed. "I may be a scoffer," he cried,
"but I wouldn't hold a judgment over a child of mine! I'm not so damned
holy that I can look down on a misfortunate girl. If Gerrit did come to
see Nettie and the boy had a liking for her, why you drove away a cursed
good husband. And if you think for a minute I wouldn't welcome her
because that Vollar fell off a yard before he could find a preacher
you're an old fool!"

"Nettie must bear her burden: far better be dead than a stumbling block."

"Well, I'd rather be a drunken pierhead jumper on the Waterloo Road than
any such pious blue nose. I'll tell you this, too--I'd hate to ship afore
the mast under you for all you'd have the ensign on the booby hatch with
prayers read Sunday morning. I don't wonder you got into weather; I'd
have no word for a Creator who didn't blow in your eye."

"I'll listen to no blasphemy, Captain Ammidon," Barzil Dunsack
said sternly.

"And I'll speak my mind, Captain Dunsack; it's this--your girls are a
long sight too good for you or for any other judgmatical, psalm-singing
devil dodger." He stood fuming at the door. "Good afternoon to you."

Barzil Dunsack reclined with his gaunt bearded head sunk forward on his
thin chest swathed in the gay worsted wrap, his wasted hands, the tendons
corded with pale violet veins, clenched outside the checkered quilt
beneath which his body made scarcely a mark.

Outside, in the soft glow of beginning dusk, Jeremy blamed himself
bitterly for his anger at the sick man. He had gone to see him in a
spirit friendly with old memories, forgetful of their long quarrel in the
stirred emotions of the past days of youth and first manhood; and he had
shouted at Barzil as if he were a lubber at the masthead.

He realized that in order to be in time for supper he must turn toward
the Common and home; but his gaze caught the spars of the strange
barque; and, mechanically, he made his way over a narrow grassy passage
to the wharf. She was the _Cora Sellers_ of Marblehead, and he recognized
from a glance at the cargo that she had been out to the East Coast of
Africa--Mozambique and Zanzibar, Aden and Muscat. A matted frail of dates
swung ponderously in air, there were baled goatskins and sacks of Mocha
coffee, sagging baskets of reddish unwashed gum copal carried in bulk,
and a sun-blackened mate smoking a rat-tail Dutch cigar was supervising
the moving of elephant tusks in a milky glimmer of ivory ashore.

There was a vague murmur of the rising tide, beyond the wharves and
warehouses the water was faintly rippled in silver and rose, and a ship
was standing into the harbor with all her canvas spread to the light
wind. He turned away with a sigh and walked slowly up toward the elms of
Pleasant Street. At his front door he stopped to regard the polished
brass plate where in place of his name he had caused to be engraved the
words Java Head. They held for him, coming into this pleasant dwelling
after so many tumultuous years at sea, the symbol of the safe and happy
end of an arduous voyage; just as the high black rock of Java Head
thrusting up over the horizon promised the placidity and accomplishment
of the Sunda Strait. Whenever he noticed the plate he felt again the
relief of coasting that northerly shore:

He saw the mate forward with the crew passing the chains through the
hawse pipes and shackling them to the anchors. The island rose from level
groves of shore palms to lofty blue peaks terraced with rice and
red-massed kina plantations, with shining streams and green kananga
flowers and tamarinds. The land breeze, fragrant with clove buds and
cinnamon, came off to the ship in the vaporous dusk; and, in the blazing
sunlight of morning, the Anjer sampans swarmed out with a shrill chatter
of brilliant birds, monkeys and naked brown humanity, piled with dark
green oranges and limes and purple mangosteen.

In the last few years, particularly with Gerrit away, he had turned more
and more from the surroundings of his house--rather it had become
William's house--to an inner life of memories. His own active life seemed
to him to have been infinitely fuller, more purposeful and various, than
that of present existence at Java Head. All Salem had been different: he
had a certain contempt for the existence of his son William and the
latter's associates and friends. He had said that the trading now done in
ships was like dealing at a Boston store, and the merchants reminded him
of storekeepers. The old days, when a voyage was a public affair, and a
ship's manifest posted in the Custom House on which anyone might write
himself down for a varying part of the responsibility and profit, had
given place to closed capital; the passages from port to port with the
captain, as often as not, his own supercargo and a figure of importance,
had become scheduled affairs in which a master was subjected to any
countinghouse clerk with an order from the firm: the ships themselves
were fast being ruined.

He was in his room, after supper, seated momentarily on a day bed with a
covering of white Siberian fox skins, and he pronounced aloud, in a tone
of satirical contempt, the single word, "Clipper." Nearly everyone in the
shipping business seemed to have been touched by this madness for the
ridiculous ideas of an experimental Griffiths and his model of a ship
with the bows turned inside out, the greatest beam aft and a dead rise
like an inverted roof. That the _Rainbow_, the initial result of this
insanity, hadn't capsized at her launching had been due to some freak of
chance; just as her miraculous preservation through a voyage or so to
China could have been made possible only by continuously mild weather.

Even if the _Rainbow_ had been fast--her run was called ninety-two days
out to Canton and home in eighty-eight--it was absurd to suppose that
there had been the usual monsoon. And if she did come in a little ahead
of vessels built on a solid full-bodied model, why her hold had no cargo
capacity worth the name.

Things on the seas were going to the devil! He moved down to the library,
where he lighted a cheroot and addressed himself to the _Gazette_; but
his restlessness increased: the paper drooped and his thoughts turned to
Gerrit as a small boy. He saw him leaving home, for the first time, to go
to the school at Andover, in a cloth cap with a glazed peak, striped long
pantaloons and blue coat and waistcoat; later at the high desk in the
counting-rooms of Ammidon, Ammidon and Saltonstone; then sailing as
supercargo on one of the Company's ships to Russia and Liverpool. He had
soon dropped such clerking for seamen's duties, and his rise to
mastership had been rapid.

Rhoda, William's wife, entered and stood before him accusingly. "You are
worrying again," she declared; "in here all by yourself. It really seems
as if you didn't believe in our interest or affection. I have a feeling,
and you know they are always right, that Gerrit will sail into the harbor
any day now."

He had always liked Rhoda, a large handsome woman with rich coloring--her
countenance somehow reminded him of an apricot--and fine clothes. She
paused, studied him for a moment, and then asked, "Was your call on
Captain Dunsack pleasant?"

"It ought to have been," he confided, "but I got mad and talked like a
Dutch uncle, and Barzil went off on a holy tack."

"About Nettie Vollar?"

Jeremy nodded. "Look here, Rhoda," he demanded, "did Gerrit ever say
anything to you about her?"

"Yes," she told him; "Gerrit was very frank."

"Did he like the girl?"

"I couldn't make that out. But if there hadn't been, well--something
unusual in her circumstances I think he would never have noticed her.
Gerrit is a curious mixture, a very impressionable heart and a contrary
stubborn will. He was sorry for Nettie, and, at the way a great many
people treated her, threw himself into opposition. Nettie's father made
him very mad, and Gerrit pretty well damned all Salem before he left in
the _Nautilus_. He was excruciatingly funny: you know Gerrit can be,
particularly when he imitates anybody. I think being away at sea a great
deal, and having absolute command of everything, give men a different
view of things from ours. What is terribly important to Salem hardly
touches Gerrit; it's all silly pretense, or worse, to him.

"I wouldn't mind that if it weren't for the sense of humor that leads him
into the wildest extravagances, and the fact that he'll act on his
feelings. You know I'm devoted to him but I give a sigh of relief
whenever he gets away on his ship without doing any one of the hundred
insanities he threatens."

"Gerrit's like me," he said.

"More than William," she agreed. "William is never impetuous, and he's
often impatient with his brother. He's a splendid husband, but Gerrit
would make a wonderful lover. I'm thankful I never fell into his
affections ... too wearing for an indolent woman."

"You've been a great comfort and pleasure, Rhoda," he told her. "I only
wish Gerrit could marry someone like you--"

"But who would give him sons," she interrupted.

"It's just as you say about him, and I've always been uneasy. God knows
what he won't do--on land. William's a great deal happier, for all his
brother's humor. I joke William, but he's very satisfactory and solid.
He'll make port if he doesn't get tied up with newfangled notions. Why,
it stands to reason that a ship built like a knife would double up in the
seas off the Falklands."

"He has a lot of confidence in Mr. McKay."

"McKay is a good man unsettled. The _May Broughton_ is a fine barque,
and his packet ships are as seaworthy as any, but--" his indignation
increased so that he sputtered, and Rhoda laughed. "Now your girls,"
he added, "fine models, all of them, plenty of beam, work in any kind
of weather."

"That's very complimentary," she assured him, rising. "You mustn't worry
about Gerrit. Remember, my predictions never fail."

When she had gone his mind returned to storms he had safely
weathered--the gray gales of Cape Horn, black hurricanes and the
explosive tempests in eastern straits and seas. He took from the drawer
of a bookcase with glass doors set in geometrical pattern a thin volume
bound in black boards. A paper label was inscribed in a small, carefully
formed script, "Journal of my intended voyage from Salem to the East
Indies in the Ship _Woodbine_." He opened at random:

"Comes in with strong wind from SSE with rain squalls. Very ugly sea on.
Double reefed the Topsails, reefed the courses and furled the mainsail.
At six p.m. shipped a very heavy sea that carried away the bulwarks on
the larboard quarter and stove those on the starboard quarter and
amidships ... upper cabin filled with water. Through the night strong
gales.... Lightning at all points of the compass."

The memory of this night, six days out from Manilla to Hong Kong, was
clearer than the actuality of the room in which he sat, an old man with
his activity, his strength, his manhood, far behind him, a hulk.

"At ten split the mainsail in pieces. Close reefed the fore and
double reefed the main-topsails. Rising gales and heavy head sea.
Shipping a great quantity of water and leaking considerable. Bent a
new mainsail and set it. Reefed and set the jib. Pumping near two
thousand strokes an hour.

"October seventh, Sunday. Comes in with strong gales and a heavy head
sea. Both officers crippled and man laid up. Through the night the same.
Leaking badly. A great number of junks in sight ... and so at five p.m.
come to anchor."

He had been a good man then, sixteen days on the quarter-deck without
going below; insensible to ice or fever or weariness. He had been
autocratic, too; and had his boy servant carrying areca nuts, chunam
and tobacco in two silk bags, another with a fan and a third holding
an umbrella. Such things were all over now, he understood, in this
driving age.

His mind continually returned to Gerrit, to dwell on the vast number of
perils held in store by the sea; there was always the possibility of
scurvy, an entire crew rotting alive in the forecastle and the ship
broached to, dismasted; of mutiny; the sheer smothering finality of
volcanic waves. He had never realized until now, in the misery of
uncertainty, the hellish loneliness of a shipmaster at sea; the pride of
duty, the necessity of discipline, that put him beyond all counsel, all
assistance and human interdependence. Jeremy, who had arrogantly accepted
this responsibility without a question, through so many long years and
voyages, now dreaded it, found it an inhuman burden, for his son.

William couldn't be expected to appreciate the difficulties of his
brother's position: all the former's experience had been got when, with
James Saltonstone and a party of Salem merchants, he ventured to the
lighthouse at the entrance of the harbor, had a cold collation, and
returned with the pilot or in the Custom House sloop. These occasions of
huzzas and salutes and speeches were supplemented with a hasty
inspection, now and then, of a vessel lying still at the wharf with sails
harbor furled. William guessed little of the long effort through which a
ship won from the first of those moments to the last. He was solely
concerned with the returns of the cargo.

However, Rhoda was right, and this mooning wouldn't bring Gerrit into
port. He turned to the bookcase, where a squat bottle of Medford rum
rested beside a tumbler; after a drink he lighted a cheroot and smoking
vigorously, with hands clasped behind him, paced back and forth in an
undeviating line between the door to the hall and a dark polished
secretary he had bought in London.

While he was walking Camilla came into the room and sedately took a seat
on one of the formal chairs against the wall. "I guess you think that's
the deck of a ship," she said conversationally. He regarded her with a
faint threatening glint of humor. Camilla's dignity was stupendous;
particularly now, when, he observed, her skirts stood out in a thoroughly
grown manner. He liked Laurel best of William's children; she had, in
spite of her confusion in regard to outports, a surprising grasp upon
many of the details of life on shipboard, and a largeness of manner and
expression entertaining in a little girl. Sidsall was the most
ingratiating--she had Gerrit's direct kindling gaze; Janet showed no
individuality yet beyond an entire willingness to conform to outward
circumstance while pursuing deeply secret speculations within. But
Camilla impressed the entire family by the rigidity of her correctness in
personal and social niceties. At times, he felt, she would be a nuisance
but for the firm hand of her mother and his own contribution to their
well-being by an occasional sly sally.

"It might be that," he admitted; "if it weren't for the facts that it's a
house and library, and I'm an old man, and you're not at all like the
second mate."

"I should hope not," she replied decidedly. "A second mate isn't
anything, and I am a--a young lady anyhow."

"You'll soon be out at dances."

"I go to parties now; that is, mother let me stay at the Coggswells' on
Thursday until the men came at nine for sangaree. And I'm at all the
Ballad Soirees."

He made a gesture of pretended surprise and admiration. "I don't suppose
they ever have a good chantey with the stuff they play?" he queried.
"Dear me, no. Mr. Dempster sings The Indian's Lament, and The May Queen:
that's a cantata and it's in three parts."

Jeremy began to hum, and in a moment was intoning in a loud monotonous
voice, sweeping a hand up and down:

_"To my hero, Bangedero,
Singing hey for a gay Hash girl."_

"I don't think that's very nice," she said primly.

"What do you mean--not very nice?" he demanded, incensed. "There's
nothing finer with a rousing chanteyman leading it and the watch hauling
on the braces. You'd never hear the like at any Ballad Soiree. And:

_"Sweet William, he married a wife,
'Gentle Jenny,' cried Rose Marie,
To be the sweet comfort of his life,
As the dew flies over the mulberry tree."_

"There isn't much sense to it," she observed.

For a little, indignant at her disparagement of such noble fragments, he
tramped silently back and forth, followed by a cloud of smoke from the
cheroot. No one on land could understand the absorbing significance of
every detail of a ship's life.... Only Gerrit, of all his family, knew
the chanteys and watches, the anxiety and beauty of landfalls--the blue
Falklands or Teneriffe rising above the clouds, the hurried making and
taking of sail in the squalls of the Doldrums.

"In India," he told her, stopping in his measured course, "female
children are given to the crocodiles."

Her mouth parted at this, her eyes became dilated, and she slipped from
the chair. "That's perfectly awfully appalling," she breathed. "The
little brown girl babies. Oh, father," she cried, as William Ammidon came
into the library, "what do you suppose grandfather says, that in India
female children are...crocodiles." Words failed her.

"What's the sense in frightening the child, father?" William
remonstrated. "I wish you would keep those horrors for the old heathen of
the Marine Society."

Jeremy had a lively sense of guilt; he had been betrayed by Camilla's
confounded airs and pretensions. He ought to be ashamed of himself,
telling the girl such things. "The British Government is putting a stop
to that," he added hastily, "and to suttees--"

"What are they?" she inquired.

"Never mind, Camilla," her father interposed; "go up with your mother
and sisters.

"I suppose it's no good speaking to you," William continued; "but my
family is not a crew and this house isn't the _Two Capes_. You might make
some effort to realize you're on land."

"I know I'm on land, William; tell that any day from a sight of you. You
can afford to listen a little now and then about the sea. That's where
all you have came from; it's the same with near everybody in Salem.
Vessels brought them and vessels kept them going; and, with the wharves
as empty as they were this afternoon, soon there won't be any Salem to
talk about."

"The tide's turned from here," the other replied; "with the increase in
tonnage and the importance of time we need the railway and docking
facility of the larger cities--Boston and New York."

"It's running out fast enough," Jeremy agreed; "and there's a lot going
out with it you'll never see again--like the men who put a reef in
England in 'twelve."

"You are always sounding the same strings; we're at peace with the world
now, and a good thing for shipping."

"Peace!" the elder declared hotly; "you and the Democrats may call it
that, but it's a damned swindle, with the British to windward of you and
hardly a sail now drawing in your ropes. What did Edmund Burke tell
Parliament in 'seventy-five about our whalers, hey! Why, that from Davis
Strait to the Antipodes, from the Falklands to Africa, we outdrove
Holland, France and England. After the laws and bounties Congress passed
in 'eighty-nine what could you see--something like a half million tonnage
gained in three years or so. In the war of 'twelve your land soldiers
were a pretty show, with the Capitol burning; but when it was finished
the privateers had sunk over nine million dollars of British shipping to
their sixty thousand. The Chesapeake luggers have gone out with the tide,
too. And then, by God, by God, what then: the treaty of Ghent, with
England impressing our seamen and tying our ships up in what ports she
chose under a right of search! On top of this your commissioners repeal
the ship laws and the British allow you to carry only native cargoes to
the United Kingdom with a part of the customs and harbor dues off.

"But in spite of Congress and political sharks we went out to India
and China direct, with _The George_ home from Calcutta in ninety-five
days, and the East Indiamen six or seven months on the shorter run to
England. I can show you what the London _Times_ said about that, it's in
my desk: 'Twelve years of peace, and...the shipping interest...is half
ruined...thousands of our manufactures are seeking redemption in foreign
lands.' It goes on to tell that American seamen already controlled an
important part of the British carrying trade to the East Indies. Yet your
precious lawmakers open our West India trade to Great Britain, but they
wouldn't ask the privilege to carry a cargo from British India to
Liverpool or Canada."

"Now, father," William put in, "you are getting excited again. It isn't
good for you. We are not all such fools to-day as you make out."

"Look at the masters themselves," Jeremy continued explosively;
"gentlemen like Gerrit, from Harvard University, and not lime-juicers
beating their way aft with a belaying pin. They could sail a ship with
two-thirds the crew of a Britisher with her clumsy yellow hemp sails and
belly you could lose a dinghy in. Mind, I don't say the English aren't
handy in a ship and that they wouldn't clew up a topsail clean at the
edge of hell. What we are on the seas came over from them. But we
bettered it, William, and they knew it; and, naturally enough, laid out
to sail around us. I don't blame England, but I do our God damn--"

"Father," the other firmly interrupted, "you are shouting as if you were
on the quarter-deck in a gale. I must insist on your quieting down;
you'll burst a blood vessel."

"Maybe I am," Jeremy muttered; "and it wouldn't matter much if I did.
When I see a nation with shipmasters who would set their royals when
others hove too, and get there, all snarled up with shore lines and
political duffel, I'm nigh ready to burst something."

"Rhoda said that you were at the Dunsacks' this afternoon; I saw Edward
in Boston yesterday."

"I don't care if you saw the Flying Dutchman," the other asserted,
breathing stormily.

"It's curious about the China service," William went on; "anyone out
there for a number of years gets to look Chinese. Edward is as yellow as
a lemon, but nothing like as pleasant a color. Thin, too, and nervous;
hands crawling all over themselves, never still for a moment. He didn't
say why he had left Heard and Company, and I didn't quite like to ask.
Edward came on from England in the _Queen of the West,_ the Swallow Tail
Line. I did ask him if he were going to settle in Salem, but he couldn't
say; there was something about a Boston house. It seems that Gerrit
carried his chest and things from Canton in the _Nautilus_ as an
accommodation."

Suddenly Jeremy felt very insecure, his body heavy and knees weak,
failing. He stumbled back into the chair by the fireplace, William at his
side. "You must pay some attention to what you're told, father," the
latter said anxiously. "How are you now?"

"I'm all right," he declared testily, trying to brush away the dimness
floating before his eyes.

"Shall I help you up to bed?"

"I'll go to bed when I've a mind to," Jeremy retorted. "I am not under
cover yet by a long reach." To establish his well-being he rose and moved
to the secretary, where he got a fresh cheroot, and lighted it with
slightly trembling fingers. He grumbled inarticulately, remembering his
own exploits in the carrying of sail and record runs under the bluff bows
of the Honorable John Company itself. The ebb tide, he thought, returning
to William's figure and its amplification by himself. So much that had
been good sweeping out to sea never to return....Gerrit long overdue.

Once more he shook himself free of numbing dread; automatically he had
fallen back into the passage from the secretary to the hall door. He saw
that he had worn threadbare a narrow strip where his feet had so often
pressed. It would be necessary for him to see about a fresh case of
cheroots soon, primes, too; they needn't try to put him off with the
second quality. He was put off a great deal lately; people pretended to
be listening to him, and all the time their thoughts were somewhere else,
either that or they were merely politely concealing the opinion that he
was out of date, of no importance.

His family were always providing against his fatigue or excitement; at
the countinghouse the gravest problems, he was certain, were withheld
from him. At the occurrence of this possibility a fresh indignation
poured through his brain. Fuming and tramping up and down he determined
that to-morrow he would show any of the clerks who didn't attend to his
wishes or counsel that he was still senior partner of Ammidon, Ammidon
and Saltonstone.




III

The evening was surprisingly warm and still, with an intermittent
falling of rain, and the windows were open in the room where Rhoda
Ammidon sat regarding half dismayed her reflection in the mirror of a
dressing table. A few minutes before she had discovered her first gray
hair. It was not only the mere assault upon her vanity, but, too, a
realization far deeper--here was the stamp of time, the mark of a
considerable progress toward the end itself. Her emotions were
various; but, curiously enough, almost the first had been a wave of
passionate tenderness for William and her little girls. The shock of
finding that arresting sign was now giving place to a purely feminine
reaction. She considered for a moment the purchase of a bottle of hair
coloring, then with a disdainful gesture dismissed such a temporary
and troublesome measure.

She kept an undiminishing pride in her appearance and a relentless care
and choice in the details of her dress, pleased by the knowledge that
the attention men paid her showed no indication yet of growing
perfunctory. She had been much admired both in Boston and London
through her youth, and she recalled her early doubts at the prospect of
life in Salem; but she realized now that, as her years and children
multiplied, she was by imperceptible degrees returning to a traditional
New England heritage.

She was glad, however, that William's wide connections lifted him above a
purely local view; William was really a splendid husband. Rhoda was
conscious of this together with a clear recognition of his faults, and
quite aside from both existed her unreasoning affection. The latter
vividly dominated her, shut out, on any occasion of stress, all else; but
for the most part she held him in an attitude of mildly amused
comprehension.

Gerrit Ammidon she hadn't seen until after her engagement to William, and
she sometimes thought of the former in connection with marriage. Gerrit,
she admitted to herself, was a far more romantic figure than William; not
handsomer--William Ammidon was very good looking--but more arresting,
with his hair swinging about his ears and intense blue gaze. An exciting
man, she decided again, for whom one would eternally put on the loveliest
clothes possible; a man to make you almost as ravishingly happy as
miserable, and, therefore, disturbing as a husband.

At this her mind returned to her gray hair and the fact that the metal
backlog of the kitchen fire, which supplied the house with hot water, had
been leaking over the hearth. A feeling of melancholy possessed her at
the turning of younger visions into commonplace necessities, but she
dismissed it with the shadow of a smile--it was absurd for a woman of her
age to dwell on such frivolous things. Yet she still lingered to wonder
if men too kept intact among their memories the radiant image of their
youth, if they ever thought of it with tenderness and extenuation. She
decided in the negative, convinced that men, even at the end of many
years, never definitely lost connection with their early selves, there
was always a trace of hopefulness, of jaunty vanity--sometimes winning
and sometimes merely ridiculous--attached to their decline.

Rhoda stirred and moved to a window, gazing vaguely out into the moist
blue obscurity. Sidsall, she realized, was maturing with a disconcerting
rapidity. Depths were opening in the girl's being at which she, her
mother, could only guess. It was exactly as if a crystal through and
through which she had gazed had suddenly been veiled by rosy clouds.
Sidsall had a charming nature, direct and unsuspicious and generously
courageous.

There was a sound at the door, and William entered, patently ruffled. It
was clear that he had had another disagreement with his father. "It's
shameful how you disturb him," she declared.

"Look here, Rhoda," he replied vigorously. "I won't continually be put in
the wrong. It seems as if I had no affection for the old gentleman. I
always have the difficult thing to do, and he has been slightly
contemptuous ever since I was a boy because I didn't go to sea. The truth
is--while I wouldn't think of letting him know--he's a tremendous
nuisance pottering about the countingrooms with his stories of
antediluvian trading voyages. And worse is to come--these new clipper
ships and passages have knocked the wind out of the old slow
full-bottomed vessels. We have about determined to reorganize our fleet
entirely, and are in treaty with Donald McKay for an extreme clipper type
of twelve hundred tons.

"Of course, he's my parent; but I wonder at Saltonstone's patience.
Father won't hear of the opium trade and it's turning over thousand per
cent profits. We are privately operating two fast topsail schooners in
India now, but it's both inconvenient and a risk. They ought to be put
right under our house flag for credit alone. It is all bound to come up,
and then he'll go off like a cannon."

"Couldn't you wait till he's dead, William?" she asked. "It won't be a
great while now. I can see that he has failed dreadfully from this worry
about Gerrit."

"Five years will make all the difference. We are losing tea cargoes every
month to these ships making sensational runs. I don't talk much, Rhoda,
about, well--my family; but I am as upset over Gerrit as anyone else.
Except for a tendency to carry too much sail there's not a better
shipmaster out of New England. Not only that ... he's my brother. It's
easy to like Gerrit; his opinions are a little wild, and an exaggerated
sense of justice gets him into absurd situations; yet his motives are the
purest possible. Perhaps that word pure describes him better than any
other, however people who didn't know might smile. As a man, Rhoda, I can
assert that he is surprisingly clean-hearted."

"That's a wonderful quality," she agreed; "why anyone should smile is
beyond me. William, would you know that my hair is turning gray, do I
look a lot older than I did five years ago?"

He studied her complacently. "You've hardly changed since I married you,"
he asserted; "a great deal prettier than these young cramped figgers I
see about. The girls, too, are just like you--good armfuls all of them."

The next day was flawlessly sunny, the slightly stirring air reminiscent
of the sea, and the lilacs everywhere were masses of purple and white
bloom. Stepping down from her carriage on the morning round of shopping
Rhoda encountered Nettie Vollar leaving one of the stores of Cheapside.

"Why, Nettie," she exclaimed kindly, "it's been the longest time since
I've seen you. It is just no use asking you to the house, and it seems,
with nothing to do, I never have a minute for the visits I'd like to
make." Nettie, she thought, was a striking girl, no--woman, with her
stack of black hair, dark sparkling eyes and red spot on either cheek.
More fetching in profile than full face, her nose had a pert angle and
her cleft chin was enticingly rounded. Later she would be too fat but now
her body was ripely perfect.

"I don't go anywhere much," she responded, in a voice faintly and
instinctively antagonistic. "I don't like kindness in people; but I
suppose I ought to be contented--that's all I'll probably ever get from
anybody who is a thing in the world. Mrs. Ammidon," she hesitated, then
continued more rapidly, her gaze lowered, "have you had any word about
Captain Ammidon yet? Have they given up hope of the _Nautilus_?"

"We've had no news," Rhoda told her, and then she added her conviction
that Gerrit would return safely.

"He was better than kind," Nettie Vollar said. "I'm sure he liked me,
Mrs. Ammidon, or he would have if everything hadn't been spoiled by
grandfather. He thinks I'm a dreadful sin, you know, a punishment on
mother. But inside of me I don't feel different from others. Sometimes
I--I wonder that I don't actually go sinful, I've had opportunities, and
being good hasn't offered me much, has it?"

"You are naturally a good girl, Nettie," Rhoda answered simply; "but you
must be braver than ordinary. If we think differently from Salem still it
is in Salem we must live; I keep many of my beliefs secret just as you
must control most of your feelings."

The other responded with a hard little laugh. "Thank you, though. You are
more like Gerrit, Captain Ammidon, than Mrs. Saltonstone, his own sister.
I hate her," she declared. "I hate all the Salem women, so superior and
condescending and Christian. They always have a silly look of wonder at
their charity in speaking to me... when they do. They act as if it's just
a privilege for me to be in their church. I'd rather go to a cotillion at
Hamilton Hall any day."

"Of course you would," Rhoda agreed. There seemed to be so little for her
to offer or say that she was relieved when they parted. The afternoon
grew really sultry, but, when the shadows had lengthened, she encountered
Jeremy Ammidon wandering aimlessly about the hall and, his fine palmetto
hat and wanghee in her hand, urged him out to the East India Marine
Society. "It's much too beautiful a day for the house," she insisted.

"There's nothing remarkable about it," he returned; "wind's too light and
variable, hardly enough to hold way on a ship." There were the stirring
strains of a quickstep without; at the door they saw the Salem Cadets,
preceded by Flag's Band, marching in columns of fours into Washington
Square. The white breeches with scarlet coats and brass buttons made a
gay showing on the green Common, the sunlight glittered on silver braid
and tassels, gilt and pompons, scaled chin straps and varnished leather.

The old man's face grew dark at the brilliant line drawn up for
inspection, and he muttered a period about cursed young Whigs. "Wouldn't
have one of the scoundrels in my house if I could help it. Don't
understand William; he's too damned mild for my idea of a good citizen.

"Why, it's only reasonable that a country's got to be run like a ship,
from the quarter-deck. How far do you suppose a vessel would get if the
crew hung about aft and chose representatives from the port and starboard
watches and galley for a body to lay the course and make sail?"

"Please, father," she protested, laughing. "Do go along into the sun."
She gently pushed him toward the door. Rhoda realized the fact that
William was more than half Whig already. That threatened still another
point of difference, of departure, from all that his father held to be
sacred necessities. Jeremy, like most of the older shipmasters, was a
bitter Federalist, an upholder of a strongly centralized autocratic
government. He left, grumbling, and the staccato commands of the military
evolutions on the Common rang through the slumberous afternoon.

She lingered in the doorway and Laurel appeared, jigging with excitement.

"Can't I get nearer," she begged; "there's nothing to see from here." Her
mother replied, "Ask Camilla to take you over to the Square." Camilla
appeared indifferently. "I don't know why anyone should be flustered,"
she observed; "it isn't like the Fourth of July with a concert and
fireworks."

As they were going, Sidsall came out in a white tarlatan dress worked
with sprays of yellow barley, her face glowing with color, and sat on
the steps. "Positively," her mother said, looking down on the mass of
bright chestnut hair in a chenille net, "we'll soon have to have you up
in braids."

"I wish I might," she responded. "And Hodie is too silly--I can't
get her to lace me tightly enough. She says such things are engines
of the devil."

"It's still a little soon for that--" Rhoda broke off as a slight erect
man at the verge of middle age turned in from Pleasant Street upon them.
"Roger," she said cordially as he came quickly up the steps. He greeted
her lightly and bent over Sidsall with an extended hand:

"The apple blossoms, I see, are here."

Rhoda wondered what nonsense Roger Brevard was repeating; Sidsall's face
was hidden from view. But then Roger was always like that, his manner was
never at a loss for the appropriate gesture. He had a great many points
in common with her, she thought; neither had been born in Salem, and his
rightful setting was in the best metropolitan drawing-rooms. He had been
here for a dozen years, now, in charge of the local affairs of the
Mongolian Marine Insurance Company; and she often wondered why, a member
of a family socially notable in New York, he continued in a city, a
position, of comparative unimportance.

She was, she said, going back to the lawn, the glare of Pleasant Street
was fatiguing; and she proceeded through the house with the surety of his
following. But on the close-cut emerald sod there was no sign of him, and
she found a seat in a basket chair by the willow tree beyond. She waited
for Roger with a small but growing impatience; he must be done
immediately with whatever he might say to Sidsall, and she wished to
discuss the possibilities of a rumor that President Polk intended to
visit Salem. There would be a collation, perhaps a military ball, to
arrange; Franklin Hall would be the better place for the latter. She
heard a faint silvery echo of laughter--Sidsall. It was extremely nice,
of course, in Roger Brevard to entertain her daughter, though she didn't
care to have the child give the effect of receiving men yet.

It was, finally, Sidsall who appeared, unaccompanied, in the drawing-room
window. She came forward to where Rhoda sat, her face still stirred with
amusement. "Mr. Brevard went on," she said in response to her mother's
look of inquiry. "That's rather odd," the latter commented almost
sharply. "He had only a few minutes," the girl explained. She sank into a
seat and mood of abstraction. Rhoda studied her with a veiled glance.
Hers were exceptional children, they had given her scarcely an hour's
concern; and she must see that in the unsettling period which Sidsall was
now entering she was not spoiled.

Perhaps Laurel entertained her more than the others. She was a very
normal little girl, not thoughtful like Janet, and without Camilla's
exaggerated poise; but she had a picturesque imagination; and her
companionship with her grandfather was delightful. The latter addressed
her quite as if she were a fellow shipmaster; and she had acquired some
remarkable sea expressions, some deplorable and others enigmatic: only
to-day, questioned about the order of her room, she had said that it was
"all square by the lifts and braces." For this her grandfather had given
her a gold piece.

There was, she knew, an excellent school for older girls at Lausanne;
and, revolving the possibility of obtaining for Sidsall some of the
European advantages she, Rhoda, had enjoyed, the following afternoon she
drove to the Cliffords' on Marlboro Street for a consultation with Madra,
who had spent a number of seasons on Lake Leman. In a cool parlor with
yellow Tibet rugs and maroon hangings she had tea while Madra Clifford,
thin and imperious, with a settled ill health like white powder and a
priceless Risajii shawl, conversed in a shrill key.

"Caroline has been in bed for a week. That vulgar Dr. Fisk, with his
elbow in her bosom, tried five times to extract her tooth, and then broke
it to the roots. I hear there is a galvanic ring for rheumatism. The pain
in my joints is excruciating; I have an idea my bones are changing into
chalk; the right knee will hardly bend." The darkly colored shawl with
its border of cypress intensified her sunken blue-traced temples and the
pallid lips. She developed the subject of her indisposition, sparing no
detail; while Rhoda Ammidon, from her superabundance of well-being, half
pitied the other and was half revolted at the mind touched, too, by
bodily ill. The fortune accumulated by the hardy Clifford men, flogged
out of crews and stained by the blood of primitive and dull savages--the
Cliffords were notorious for their brutal driving--now served only to
support Madra's debility and a horde of unscrupulous panderers to her
obsession.

"Edward Dunsack is in Salem," she continued; "and I've heard he has the
most peculiar appearance. Very probably the result of the unmentionable
practices of the Orient. Father liked the Chinese though; so many of our
shipmasters have, and not always the merchants.... What was I saying? Oh,
yes, Edward Dunsack. I understand you had a distinct alarm in that
quarter, about the girl and Gerrit Ammidon. But I forgot to say how glad
I am about Gerrit. You must have been horribly worried--"

"What do you mean?" Rhoda demanded.

"Why, haven't you heard! The Nautilus was sighted. News came from Boston.
She ought to be into-day, I believe. I suppose William has been too
concerned to get you word at home."

Rhoda Ammidon rose immediately, surprised at the force of the emotion
that blurred her eyes with tears. Gerrit was safe! Possibly they had
been told at Java Head now, but she must be there with Jeremy Ammidon;
surprises, even as joyful as this, were a great strain on him.
Neglecting the object of her visit she returned at once to Pleasant
Street, urging the coachman to an undignified haste, and keeping the
carriage at the door.

Her father-in-law was at his secretary in the library, and it was evident
that he had heard nothing of his son's return. "Well, Rhoda," he said,
swinging about; "what a bright cheek you have--like Laurel's."

"I feel bright, father," she replied with a nod and smile. "After this
none of you will be able to laugh at my predictions. You see, a woman's
feeling is often more correct than masculine judgment." His momentary
bewilderment gave place to a painfully strained interrogation. "Yes," she
told him, "but we are none of us surprised--Gerrit is almost in Salem
harbor." She moved near him and, with a veiled anxiety, laid her hand
upon his shoulder.

"A splendid sailor," he muttered. It seemed as if Rhoda could really hear
the dull rising pounding of his shaken heart. But his excitement
subsided, gave way to a normal concern, a flood of vain questions and
preparation to go down to the wharf. In the midst of this a message came
from the countinghouse of Ammidon, Ammidon and Saltonstone that the
_Nautilus_ would dock within an hour.

A small crowd had already gathered on Derby Wharf when Rhoda and her
companion made their way past the warehouses built at intervals along the
wharf to the place where the _Nautilus_ would be warped in. The
wharfinger saluted them, William Ammidon joined his wife, and beyond she
could see James Saltonstone conversing with the Surveyor of the Port.

The afternoon was serene, a faint air drew in from the sea; and with it,
sweeping slowly inside Peach's Point, was the tall ship with her canvas
towering gold in the western sun against the distance of sea and sky. As
Rhoda watched she saw their house flag--a white field checkered in
blue--fluttering from the main royal truck.

"The royals are coming in!" Jeremy Ammidon exclaimed, gripping Rhoda's
arm. "He is lowering his top-gallant yards and hauling up the courses! My
dear, there's nothing on God's earth finer than a ship."

The _Nautilus_ slipped along surprisingly fast. Rhoda could now see the
crew moving about and coiling the gear.

"Look, father, there's Gerrit on the quarter-deck."

The shipmaster, shorter than common, with broad assertive shoulders in
formal black, was easily recognizable. A woman with a worn flushed face
pressed by Jeremy. "Andrew's there, too," she told them, "Mr. Broadrick,
the mate."

The ship moved more slowly, under her topsails and jibs, in a soundless
progress with the ripples falling away in water like dark green glass,
liquid and still. She was now but a short distance from the end of the
wharf. Mr. Broadrick was forward between the knightheads with the crew
ranged to the starboard and at the braces, while Gerrit Ammidon stood
with one hand on the quarter-deck railing and the other holding a brass
speaking trumpet to his lips:

"Let go your port fore and after braces, Mr. Broadrick; brace the fore
and mizzen yards sharp up, leave the main braces fast, and lay the main
topsail to the mast. As she comes to the wind let the jibs run down." He
turned to the man at the wheel, "Helm hard a starboard."

"Hard a starboard, sir."

The ship answered quickly and rounded to while her weather fore and
mizzen yards flew forward until they touched the starboard backstays
and the men hauled in the slack of the braces. With the main yard
square to check her way the jibs drooped down along the stays. "Mr.
Broadrick, you may let go the starboard anchor and furl sails." The
mate grasped a top maul and struck the trigger of the ring stopper a
clean blow, the anchor splashed into the water with a rumbling cable,
and the _Nautilus_ was home.

Gerrit Ammidon walked hurriedly to the companionway and went below, while
the mate continued, "Stand by to let go your topsail halliards and man
the gear. Sharper with the mizzen sheets and unbend those clew lines and
garnets... stow the clews in a harbor furl." At a rhythmic shout the
bunts of the three topsails came up together.

The wind had died away and the flags hung listlessly from the main truck
and spanker gaff. The water of the harbor was unstirred except for the
swirls at the oar blades of an incoming quarter boat and the warp paying
out at her stern. The voice of the mate, the chantey of the crew heaving
at the capstan bars, came to Rhoda subdued:

_"The times are hard and wages low,
  Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her.
I guess it's time for us to go,
  Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her.
I thought I heard the old man say,
  Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her.
To-morrow we will get our pay
  .......leave her"_

Rhoda Ammidon discovered herself leaning forward tensely, her hands shut
in excitement and emotion; and she relaxed with a happy laugh as the
_Nautilus_, with her yards exactly square and rigging taut, her sides and
figurehead and ports bright with newly laid on paint, moved to the wharf.

It seemed to her that Gerrit, descending a short stage from the deck,
looked markedly older than when he had last sailed. Yet he had a
surprisingly youthful air still; partly, she thought, from the manner in
which he wore his hair, falling in a waving thick line about his cheeks.
His mouth was at once fresh and severe, his face clean shaven, and his
eyes--if possible--more directly blue than ever.

"I'll take the ship's manifest to the Collector," he said, greeting them
and impatiently waving aside the vendors after the cook's slush, the
excited women and runners and human miscellany crowding forward. "Then
Java Head." He paused, speaking over his shoulder: "I'd be thankful if
you would send the barouche down in an hour or so."

Driving back, her hand on Jeremy Ammidon's knee, Rhoda wondered at
Gerrit's request. It was entirely unlike him to ride in the barouche;
rather he had always derided it in the terms of his calling. However,
unable to find a solution for her surprise, she listened to the other's
comments and speculations:

"I suppose William's first question will be about the cargo, and, of
course, I hope the ship has done well. But I'm just glad to have Gerrit
back; I am for a fact, Rhoda."

"We all are," she assured him, "and William as happy as any. You mustn't
be misled by his manner, father. I hope the supper will be good and
please you."

"Gerrit will be satisfied with anything," he chuckled. "Probably he's
been out of beans even for a month. Did you notice that fore-royal mast
and yard? They were rigged at sea: Gerrit carried them away. It hurts him
to take in a sail. Some day I tell him he'll drag the spars out of his
ship. His confounded pride will founder him." He made these charges
lightly, with a palpable underlying pride; and, Rhoda knew, would permit
no one else to criticize his son.

She found her daughters in a state of gala excitement on the front steps.
"Uncle Gerrit in the _Nautilus,_" Laurel chanted; and it was evident that
Camilla herself was thrilled. They all went up to put on holiday dress.
Rhoda turned to the coachman, "Have the barouche at the head of Derby
Wharf in an hour."

Gerrit's unusual demand again puzzled her. A fantastic possibility lodged
in her brain--perhaps he was not alone. She pulled the bell rope for her
maid, changed into black moire with cut steel bretelles, and selected
the peacock coloring of a Peri-taus shawl. She found her husband with his
father in the library. "I understand it's a splendid cargo," William
remarked. Jeremy nodded triumphantly at her, and she expressed a half
humorous resentment at this mercenary display. "He ought to be here," the
younger man declared, consulting his watch. As he spoke Rhoda saw the
barouche draw up before the house. She had a glimpse of a figure at
Gerrit Ammidon's side in extravagantly brilliant satins; there was a
sibilant whisper of rich materials in the hall, and the master entered
the library with a pale set face.

"Father," he said, "Rhoda and William, allow me--my wife, Taou Yuen."

Rhoda Ammidon gave an uncontrollable gasp as the Chinese woman sank in a
fluttering prostration of color at Jeremy's feet. He ejaculated, "God
bless me," and started back. William's face was inscrutable, unguessed
lines appeared about his severe mouth. Her own sensation was one of
incredulity touched with mounting anger and feeling of outrage. The woman
rose, but only to sink again before William: she was on her knees and,
supported by her hands, bent forward and touched her forehead to the
floor three times. Gerrit laughed shortly. "She was to shake your hands;
we went over and over it on shipboard. But anything less than the
_Kul'on_ was too casual for her."

She was now erect with a freer murmur of greeting to Rhoda. The latter
was instantly aware of one certainty--Chinese she might be, she was, but
no less absolutely aristocratic. Her face, oval and slightly flat, was
plastered with paint on paint, but her gesture, the calm scrutiny of
enigmatic black eyes under delicately arched brows, exquisite quiet
hands, were all under the most admirable instinctive command. Rhoda said:

"I see that I am to welcome you for Gerrit's family." The other, in slow
lisping English replied:

"Thank you greatly. I am humbled to the earth before your goodness."

"You will want to go to your room," Rhoda continued mechanically. "It was
only prepared for one, but I'll send a servant up at once." She was
enraged at the silent stupidity of the three men and flashed a silent
command at her husband.

"This is a decided surprise," the latter at last addressed his brother;
"nor can I pretend that it is pleasant." Jeremy Ammidon's gaze wandered
blankly from Gerrit to the woman, then back to his son.

Never before had Rhoda seen such lovely clothes: A long gown with wide
sleeves of blue-black satin, embroidered in peach-colored flower petals
and innumerable minute sapphire and orange butterflies, a short
sleeveless jacket of sage green caught with looped red jade buttons and
threaded with silver and indigo high-soled slippers crusted and tasseled
with pearls. Her hair rose from the back in a smooth burnished loop.
There were long pins of pink jade carved into blossoms, a quivering
decoration of paper-thin gold leaves with moonstones in glistening
drops, and a band of coral lotus buds. Pierced stone bracelets hung
about her delicate wrists, fretted crystal balls swung from the lobes of
her ears; and clasped on the ends of several fingers were long pointed
filagrees of ivory.

"Taou Yuen," Gerrit repeated shortly, with his challenging bright gaze.
"That means Peach Garden. My wife is a Manchu," he asserted in a more
biting tone; "a Manchu and the daughter of a noble. Thank you, Rhoda,
particularly. But I have always counted on you. Will you go up with her?
That is if--if my father has a room, a place, for us."

"This will always be your home, Gerrit," Jeremy said slowly, with the
long breath of a diver in deep waters.




IV

In the room that had been his since early maturity Gerrit Ammidon gave
an involuntary sigh of relief. Taou Yuen, his wife, was standing in the
middle of the floor, gazing about with a faint and polite smile. Her eyes
rested on a yellow camphor chest--one of the set brought home by his
father--on a severe high range of drawers made of sycamore with six legs,
on her brilliant reflection in the eagle-crowned mirror above the mantel,
and the sleigh bed with low heavily curved ends.

The situation below, however brief and, on the whole, reasonably
conducted, had been surprisingly difficult. At the same time that he had
felt no necessity to apologize for his marriage he had known that Taou
Yuen must surprise, yes--shock, his family. She was Chinese, to them a
heathen: they would be unable to comprehend any mitigating dignity of
rank. Where they'd actually suffer, he realized, would be in the
attitude of Salem, the stupid gabble, the censure and cold pity caused
by his wife.

Personally he regarded these with the contempt he felt for so many of the
qualities that on shore bound the interests of everyone into a single
common concern. It gave him pleasure to assault the authority and
importance of such public prejudice and self-opinion; but, unavoidably
implicating his family, at once a part of himself and Salem, he was
conscious of the fact that he had laid them all open to disagreeable
moments. He was sorry for this, and his regret, principally materialized
by his father's hurt confusion, had unexpectedly cast a shadow on a scene
to which he had looked forward with a distinct sense of comedy. Where the
realities were concerned he had no fear of Taou Yuen's ability to justify
herself completely. He possessed a stupendous admiration for her.

He watched her now with the mingled understanding and mystification that
gave his life with her such a decided charm. Her gaze had fastened on the
mirror-stand above the drawers: she must be wondering if she would have
to paint and prepare herself for him here, openly. He knew that she
considered it a great impropriety for her face to be seen bare; all the
elaborate processes of her morning toilet must be privately conducted. He
recognized this, but had no idea what she actually thought of the room,
of his family, of the astonishing situation into which her heart had
betrayed her.

One and then another early hope he saw at once were vain. It had seemed
to him that in America, in Salem, she might become less evidently
Chinese; not in the incongruous horror of Western clothes, but in her
attitude, in a surrender to superficial customs; he had pictured her as
merging distinctively into the local scene. In China he had hoped that in
the vicinity of Washington Square and Pleasant Street she would appear
less Eastern; but, beyond all doubt, here she was enormously more so. The
strange repressed surrounding accentuated every detail of her Manchu pomp
and color. The frank splendor of her satins and carved jades and
embroidery, her immobile striking face loaded with carmine and glinting
headdress, the flawless loveliness of hands with the pointed nail
protectors, were, in his room, infinitely dramatized.

The other, less secure possibility that she might essentially change
perished silently. In a way his wish had been a presumption--that a
member of the oldest and most subtle civilization existing would, if she
were able, adopt such comparatively crude habits of life and thought.

She moved slowly up to the bed, examining it curiously; and again he
understood her look of doubt--in China beds were called _kang_, or
stoves, from the fact that they were more often than not a platform of
brick with an opening beneath for hot coals. She fingered the ball fringe
of the coverlet, and then turned with amazement to the soft pillow. A
hand with the stone bracelet falling back from her smooth wrist rose to
the complicated edifice of her headdress.

"Your pillow is coming along from the ship," he told her; "the women here
do up their hair every morning."

She considered this with geranium lips slightly parted on flawless teeth,
and nodded slowly. The westering sun striking through the window
overlooking the Common illuminated her with a flat gold unreality.

"I'll have a day bed brought for you," he continued, realizing that, as
the result of fortunate chance, she understood most of what he said
without an actual command of the individual words. In reply she sank
before him in the deep Manchu gesture with one knee sweeping the floor,
the humility of her posture dignified by grace. He touched the crystal
globe of an earring, pinched her chin, in the half light manner by which
he instinctively expressed his affection for her. She was calm and
pleased. "Taou Yuen," he continued, "you miss Shanghai, with the wall of
ten gates and the river Woosung stuck full of masts. You'll never think
Salem is a paradise like Soochow."

"This is your city," she replied, slowly choosing the words. "Your
ancestors are here." There was not a shade of regret in her voice or
manner. He tried once more, and as vainly as ever, to penetrate the veil
of her perfect serenity. She never, it became apparent, descended from
the most inflexible self-control; small emotions--surface gayety of
mood, curiosity, the faintest possible indication of contempt, he had
learned to distinguish; the fact that she cared enough for him to desert
every familiar circumstance was evident; but beyond these he was
powerless to reach.

His own emotions were hardly less obscured: the dominating feeling was
his admiration for her exquisite worldly wisdom, the perfection of her
bodily beauty, and the philosophy which bore her above the countless
trivialities that destroyed the dignity of western minds. He realized
that her paint and embroidery covered a spirit as cold and tempered as
fine metal. She was totally without the social sentiment of his own
world; but she was equally innocent of its nauseous hypocrisy, the
pretensions of a piety covering commercial dishonesty, obscenity of
thought and spreading scandal. The injustice he saw practiced on shore
had always turned him with a sense of relief to the cleansing challenge
of the sea; always, brought in contact with cunning and self-seeking men
and heartless schemes, with women cheapened by a conviction of the
indecency of life, he was in a state of hot indignation. From all this
Taou Yuen offered a complete escape.

On the purely feminine side she was a constant delight, the last possible
refinement, he told himself, of instinct and effect. She was incapable of
the least vulgarity; never for an instant did she flag from the necessity
of beauty, never had he seen her too weary for an adornment laborious in
a hundred difficult conventions. She was, too, a continuous source of
entertainment, even as his wife she never ceased to be a spectacle; his
consciousness of her as a being outside himself persisted.

"I must go down and see where our things are," he said, rising. In the
hall he stopped before the tall clock whose striking was a part of his
early memories. Below, the house seemed empty; and, instead of turning to
the front door and his purpose, he went into the drawing-room.

The long glass doors to the garden were open, and the interior was filled
with the scent of lilacs. The room itself had always reminded him of
them--it was pale in color, cool gilt and lavender brocade and white
panels. Nothing had been moved or changed: the inlaid cylinder fall desk
with its garlands of painted flowers on the light waxed wood stood at the
left, the pole screen with the embroidered bouquet was before the fire
blind, the girandoles, scrolled in ormolu and hung with crystal lusters,
held the shimmer of golden reflections on the walls.

He had remembered the drawing-room at Java Head as a place of enchanted
perfection; in his childhood its still serenity had seemed a presentment
of what might be hoped for in heaven. The thought of the room as it was
now, open but a little dim to the lilacs and warm afternoon, had haunted
him as the measure of all peace and serenity in moments of extreme
danger, his ship laboring in elemental catastrophes and in remote seas.
Its fragrance had touched him through the miasma of Whampoa Reach,
waiting for the lighters of tea to float down from Canton; standing off
in the thunder squalls of the night for the morning sea breeze to take
him into Rio; over a cognac in the coffee stalls of the French market at
New Orleans, the chanteys ringing from the cotton gangs along the levees:

_"Were you ever down in Mobile Bay?
Aye, aye, pump away."_

As he left the room he saw Laurel, William's youngest child, and he
imprisoned her in an arm. "You haven't asked what I've got for you in my
sea chest," he said. Gerrit was very fond of all four of the rosy-cheeked
vigorous girls, and a sense of injury touched him at Laurel's reserved
manner. She studied him with a wondering uneasy concern. This he realized
was the result of bring home Taou Yuen; and an aggravated impatience, a
growing rebellion, seized him. He wouldn't stay with his wife at Java
Head a day longer than necessary; and if anyone, in his family or
outside, showed the slightest disdain he could retaliate with his
knowledge of local pettiness, the backbiting enmities and secret lapses.

God knew he didn't want trouble, all he asked was a reasonable liberty,
the semblance, anyhow, of a courtesy toward his wife. Whatever might be
said would be of no moment to her--except in the attitude of his
father--and Taou Yuen's indifference furnished a splendid example for
himself. He wondered why the devil he was continually putting his fingers
in affairs that couldn't concern him. No one thanked him for his trouble,
they considered him something of a fool--a good sailor but peculiar. The
damned unexpected twists of his sense of the absurd, too, got him into
constant difficulty.

His father was standing outside the principal entrance; and, as he joined
him on the steps, he saw two men from the _Nautilus_ carrying his ship's
desk by the beckets let in the ends. The wind was blowing gently up
Pleasant Street; the men, at his gesture, lifted their burden up the
steps, between the direction of the wind and Jeremy Ammidon. The latter
rose instantly into one of his dark rages:

"What do you mean, you damned packetrats--coming up a companionway to the
windward of me! I'll have no whalers' habits here." He repeated
discontentedly that everything on sea and land had fallen into a decline.
Others followed with a number of Korean boxes, strapped and locked with
copper, and wicker baskets. A man in charge said to Gerrit Ammidon:

"The chest was left for Mr. Dunsack at the foot of Hardy Street, sir, as
you ordered. The inspector sent it off complimentary with your personal
things." Gerrit asked, "He didn't stop to get a whiff of it then?" The
other shook his head. "Edward Dunsack asked me to ship it here and
explained that it was only junk he was bringing home, but what it amounts
to is about a case of Patna opium. He's lucky."

They turned inside, William was in the library, and Gerrit instinctively
followed his father into the room. William surveyed him with a moody
discontent. "What I can't understand," he proceeded; "is why you call it
a marriage, why you brought your woman here to us, to Rhoda and the
children."

"It's simple enough," Gerrit replied; "Taou Yuen is my wife, we are
married exactly as Rhoda and you are. She is not my woman in the sense
you mean. I won't allow that, William."

"How can it matter what you will or will not allow when everyone'll think
the other? Shipmasters have had Chinese mistresses before, yes, and
smuggled them into Salem; but this conduct of yours is beyond speech."

Gerrit Ammidon said:

"Don't carry this too far." Anger like a hot cloud oppressed him. "I am
married legally and, if anything, by a ceremony less preposterous than
your own. Taou Yuen is not open to any man or woman's suspicions. I am
overwhelmingly indebted to her."

"But she's not your race," William Ammidon muttered; "she is a Confucian
or Taoist, or some such thing."

"You're Unitarian one day a week, and father is Congregational, Hodie's
a Methodist, and no one knows what I am," Gerrit cried. "Good God, what
does all that matter! Isn't a religion a religion? Do you suppose a
Lord worth the name would be anything but entertained by such spiteful
little dogmas. A sincere greased nigger with his voodoo must be as good
as any of us."

"That is too strong, Gerrit," Jeremy objected. "You'll get nowhere crying
down Christianity."

"If I could find it," the younger declared bitterly, "I'd feel
differently. It's right enough in the Bible. ...Well, we'll go on to
Boston to-morrow."

"This is your home," his father repeated. "Naturally William, all of us
have been disturbed; but nothing beyond that. I trust we are a loyal
family. What you've done can't be mended with hard words."

"She may become very fashionable," Gerrit mockingly told his
brother. "It'll be a blow to Camilla," Jeremy chuckled. "Some rice
must be cooked."

"Manchus don't live on rice," Gerrit replied. "They don't bind the
feet either nor wear the common Chinese clothes. Rhoda will
understand better."

Again in his room he found his wife bending over a gorgeous heap of
satins, bright mazarines and ornaments. "We'll go down to supper soon,"
he told her. Already there were signs of her presence about the room:
the chest of drawers was covered with gold and jade and green amber,
painted paper fans set on ivory and tortoise shell, and lacquer fan
boxes; coral hairpins, sandalwood combs, silver rouge pots and rose
quartz perfume bottles with canary silk cords and tassels. On a familiar
table was her pipe, wound in gilt wire, and the flowered satin tobacco
case. An old coin was hanging at the head of the bed, a charm against
evil spirits; and on a stand was the amethyst image of Kuan-Yin _pu
tze_, the Goddess of Mercy.

Taou Yuen sank on the floor with a little embarrassed laugh at the
confusion in which he had surprised her. "Let your attitude be grave," he
quoted from the Book of Rites with a pretended severity. Her amusement
rose in a ripple of mirth. He opened his desk, rearranging the disorder
brought about by its transportation; and, when he turned, she was
prostrate in the last rays of the sun. "_O-me-to-Fuh_," she breathed;
"_O-me-to-Fuh_," the invocation to Buddha. This at an end she announced,
"Now I am grave and respectful for your family."

Supper, Gerrit admitted to himself, promised to be a painful occasion;
conversation rose sporadically and quickly died in glances of
irrepressible curiosity directed at his wife. She, on the contrary,
showed no pointed interest in her surroundings; and, in her hesitating
slurred English, answered Rhoda's few questions without putting any in
return. Camilla preserved a frozen silence; Sidsall was pleasantly
conciliating in her attitude toward the novel situation; Janet, her lips
moving noiselessly, was rapt in amazement; and Laurel smiled, abashed at
meeting Taou Yuen's eyes.

The recounting of his delayed return offered Gerrit a welcome relief from
the pervading strain: "There's no tea to speak of at Shanghai, and I took
on a mixed cargo--pongees and porcelain and matting. I got camphor and
cassia and seven hundred peculs of ginger; then I decided to lay a course
to Manilla for some of the cheroots father likes. The weather was fine, I
had a good cargo, and, well--we pleasured out to Honolulu. I was riding
the island horses and shipping oil when the schooner _Kahemameha_ arrived
from the coast with the news of the gold discovery in California. Every
boat in the harbor was loaded to the trucks, crowded with passengers at
their weight in ginseng, and laid for San Francisco.... Well, I was
caught with the rest.

"Five thousand dollars was offered me to carry a gentleman and his
attendant. Two others would pay three for the same purpose. Stowage was
worth what you asked.... The _Nautilus_ made a good run; then, about a
day from land, Mr. Broadrick told me that there wouldn't be a seaman on
the ship an hour after we anchored. They were all crazy with gold fever,
he said. I could see, too, that they were excited; the watch hung under
the weather rail jabbering like parrots; an uglier crew of sea lawyers
never developed.

"There was one thing to do and I did it--called them aft and gave them
some hot scouse. They'd shipped for Salem and there they must go. I
didn't anchor, but stood off--the harbor was crowded with deserted
vessels like some hell for ships--and sent the jolly boat in with the
passengers and a couple of men. They didn't come back, you may be sure.
The consignment for San Francisco I carried out that evening, for I made
sail at once."

"You had a pretty time getting a way on her," Jeremy Ammidon remarked.

"I did," Gerrit acknowledged shortly. "The second mate's ear was taken
loose by a belaying pin that flew out of the dark like a gull. Mr.
Broadrick had a bad minute in the port forecastle after he had ordered
all hands on deck a third time. The fine weather left us, though, and
that kept the crew busy; we carried away the fore-royal mast and yard
before we were within a thousand miles of the latitude of the Horn. That
hit us like a cannon ball of ice. You know what it is at its worst," he
told his father; "weeks of snow and hail and fog and gales; and not for
anything can you keep an easting. God knows how a ship lives through the
seas; but she does, she does, and you lose the Magellan clouds astern."

The old man nodded.

Gerrit was relieved, however, when supper ended and his wife formally
departed for her room. Immediately slipping a hand inside Rhoda's arm he
conducted her to the drawing-room. "I'd like you to know more about it,"
he said directly.

"It was very extraordinary. A Lu Kikwang was a high official of the
Canton Customs, and when Shanghai was declared an open port in forty-two
they made him hoppo there. I remembered him at Canton, a dignified old
duck with eighty or a hundred servants to keep anyone from possibly
speaking to him of business, but there had been some trouble about
foreign vessels selling saltpeter illegally and--he knew some English--we
had quite a friendly little consultation. Yet it hadn't prepared me for
his coming off to the _Nautilus_ at Shanghai with a linguist and an air
of the greatest mystery. His manner was beautiful, of course, absolutely
tranquil and that made what they said, what he hoped, seem even wilder
than it was.

"His son, it appeared, had married and was accidentally drowned in the
Great Canal hardly a month after the ceremony. His widow belonged, then,
to the husband's family, and from that moment her father-in-law had had
nothing but bad luck. He had been robbed, his best stallion died, there
had been a flood in his tea which not only spoiled the crop but filled
the ground with silt--it was impossible to relate his calamities. He
consulted a necromancer at last and learned that it was all caused by the
presence of Taou Yuen.

"This, you see, made the difficulty, as it's a frightful disgrace to
return a married daughter to her own father's home, and Lu had grown very
fond of her. She was extremely clever and virtuous, he said. The other
thing was to kill her or force her to commit suicide. He told me very
calmly that he would like to avoid this.

"Then, in the linguist's most flowery manner, they went on with what Lu
Kikwang proposed. He had recognized that I was a man of 'superior
propriety' and he wondered if I would take Taou Yuen away to America with
me. Very secretly though--there would be an uproar if it were known that
a Manchu woman had been married to a foreigner. I could see her first in
his garden without her knowing anything about it.

"It's needless to tell you that I went with them that afternoon. A
meeting was arranged for the next day--" he broke off, sitting forward
with elbows on knees, gazing fixedly at his clasped hands.

"You make that very clear, Gerrit," his sister-in-law replied; "I now
understand the past almost as well as yourself; but it's the future I'm
in doubt about. I saw immediately that your wife was not an ordinary
woman; it would be much easier if she were. Certainly you don't intend to
stay here, at Java Head; but that is immaterial. Wherever you go in
America it will not be suitable for her. She'll be no more at home with
your friends than you with hers. I feel terribly sad about it, Gerrit;
you were as selfish as only a man can be."

"You are unjust, Rhoda," he protested. "Taou Yuen was willing to come.
She had read about other countries and saw a great deal of the English
wife of a rich Dutch factor at Shanghai; as Lu Kikwang said, she's
wonderfully intelligent. I think she is happy, too."

"Rubbish! Of course she loves you; I am not talking about that. How will
she get along while you are away on your long voyages? She couldn't
possibly live in the cabin of a ship, and do you suppose she'd be
contented in Salem with you absent for a year!"

"We have as many chances of success as any other marriage," he asserted.
"The whole business is foolish enough."

"That opinion might do for a single shipmaster, with only a month or two
out of the year on land. When you were free, Gerrit, your impatience with
convention was refreshing and possible. But can't you see that you have
given up your liberty! You have tied your hands. However loudly you may
cry out against society now you are a part of us, foolish or not. You'll
find that your wife has anchored you in Salem, Boston or Singapore, no
matter where you go: people will reach and hurt you through her.

"She is very gorgeous and placid, superior on the surface; but the heart,
Gerrit--that isn't made of jade and ivory and silk."

"I'll bring down your presents to-morrow," he told her, avoiding any
further present discussion of his marriage. "Has father failed, do you
think? His tempers are vigorous as ever."

"He seems baggier about the eyes and throat. He is just as quick, but it
exhausts him more. Things would be much better if he were only content to
let William manage at the countinghouse. Times are shifting so quickly
with these new clipper ships and direct passages and political changes."

"There's no longer any doubt about the clippers," Gerrit declared; "the
California gold rush will attend to that."

In his room he found Taou Yuen, in soft white silk worked with bamboo
leaves, on the day bed, smoking. She rose immediately as he entered; and,
coming close to him, ran her cool fingers through his hair. He stood
gazing out at the dim oil flares that marked the confines of Washington
Square, considering all that Rhoda had said. Strangely enough it led his
thoughts away from his wife; they reverted to Nettie Vollar.

He had been, he realized, very nearly in love with her: what he meant by
that inaccurate term was that if the affair had continued a little longer
he would have insisted on marrying her. Nettie was not indifferent to
him. An impersonal feeling had attracted him to her--a resentment of her
treatment by the larger part of Salem, particularly the oblique
admiration of the men. His supersensitiveness to any form of injustice
had driven him into the protest of calling and accompanying her, with an
exaggerated politeness, about the streets. It had not been difficult; she
was warm-blooded, luxurious, a very vivid woman. Gerrit, however, had
made a point of repressing any response to that aspect of their
intercourse--the sheerest necessity for the preservation of his disdain.

She had cried on his shoulder, in his arms, practically; he had acted in
the purely fraternal manner. But the thing was reaching a natural
conclusion when her grandfather, Barzil Dunsack, had interfered with his
unsupportably frank accusations and command. The _Nautilus_ had been
ready for sea, and his, Gerrit's, imperious resentment had carried him
out of the Dunsacks' house--to Shanghai and Taou Yuen--without another
word to Nettie.

How strangely life progressed, without chart or intelligent observations
or papers! He heard the tap of his wife's pipe; there was a faint
sweetish odor of drugged tobacco and the scent of cloves in which she
saturated herself. Outside was Salem, dim and without perceptible
movement; the clock in the hall struck ten. Taou Yuen didn't approach him
again nor speak; her perceptions were wonderfully acute.

The sense of loneliness that sometimes overtook him on shore deepened, a
feeling of impotence, as if he had suddenly waked, lost and helpless, in
an unfamiliar planet. There was the soft whisper of his wife's passage
across the room. In the lamplight the paint on her cheeks made startling
unnatural patches of--paint. The reflections slid over the liquid black
mass of her hair, died in the lustrous creamy folds of her garment. She
was at once grotesque and impressive, like a figure in a Chinese
pantomime watched from the western auditorium of his inheritance. His
fondness for her, his admiration, had not lessened. He surveyed his
position, the presence here, in his room at Java Head, of Taou Yuen, with
amazement; all the small culminating episodes lost, the result was beyond
credence. His thoughts returned to Rhoda's accusation of selfishness, the
disaster implied in her pity for his wife. He tried again to analyze his
marriage, discover whatever justification, security, it possessed. Was
his admiration for Taou Yuen sufficient provision for his part of their
future together? It was founded largely on her superiority to the world
he had known; and here it was necessary for him to convince himself that
his wedding had not been merely the result of romantic accident. He knew
that the sensual had had almost no part in it, it had been mental; an act
of pity crystallizing his revolt against what he felt to be the impotence
of "Christian" ethics. Yet this was not sufficient; for he, like Rhoda,
had found under his wife's immobility the flux of immemorial woman.

No, it wasn't enough; but more existed, he was certain of that. No one
could expect him, now, to experience the thrill of idealized passion that
was the sole property of youth. What feeling he had had for Nettie--he
was obliged to return to her from the fact that it was the only possible
comparison--had come from very much the same source as the other. The
old impersonal motives!

The danger, Rhoda pointed out, had been admitted when his marriage made
impossible the continuation of that aloof position. He doubted that it
could change him so utterly. The thought of the entertainment his wife
would afford him in Salem expanded. He regretted that the best, the
calling and comments of the women, was necessarily lost to him, but Taou
Yuen would repeat a great deal: she, too, had a sly sense of the
ridiculous. He hoped that his sister-in-law didn't suppose her helpless;
the impenetrable Manchu control gave her a pitiless advantage over any
less absolute civilization. In the darkness before sleep the heavy exotic
scents in the room oppressed him strangely.

He rose early, and quietly dressing went out into the garden: buds on
the June roses against the high blank fence on the street were swelling
into visible crimson; there were the stamping of horses' feet on the
cobbles of the stable inclosure, the heavy breathing and admonitions of
the coachman wielding a currycomb. The sunlight streamed down through
pale green willow and tall lilac bushes, through the octagonal latticed
summerhouse and across the vivid sod to the drawing-room door. Gerrit
turned, and entered the farther yard, where his father was inspecting the
pear trees.

"The _Nautilus_ will need new copper sheathing," Gerrit said: "she's
pretty well stripped forward."

"Take her around to the Salem Marine Railway at the foot of English
Street. A fine ship, Gerrit, with a proper hull. I tell you they'll never
improve on the French lines."

"She won't go into the wind with a clipper," he admitted; "but I'll sail
her on a fair breeze with anything afloat."

"If you come to that," his father asserted; "nothing handsomer will
ever be seen than an East India-man in the northeast trades with the
captain on the quarter-deck in a cocked hat and sword, the shoals of
flying fish and albacore skittering about a transom as high and carved
and gilded as a church, the royal pennant at the mainmast head. Maybe
it would be the _Earl of Balcarras_ with her cannons shining and the
midshipmen running about."

"Yes," the younger man returned, "and taking in her light sails at
sunset, dropping astern like an island. The John Company's ruining
British shipping."

Jeremy Ammidon muttered one of his favorite pessimistic complaints. "What
did you say her name was?" he demanded abruptly.

"Taou Yuen."

"Taou Yuen Ammidon," the elder pronounced experimentally. "It doesn't
sound right, the two won't go together."

"But they have," Gerrit declared. He thought impatiently that he must
listen to a repetition of Rhoda's assertions.

"I don't know much about 'em," Jeremy proceeded. "All I saw, when I was
younger, was the little singing-girls playing mora and wailing over their
infernal three-stringed fiddles something about the moon and a bowl of
water lilies."

Taou Yuen did not come down to breakfast, and Gerrit stayed away from
their room until her toilet must be finished. It was Sunday; and with the
customary preparation for church under way William said:

"I suppose you will go down to the ship?"

The hidden question, the purpose of the inquiry, at once stirred into
being all Gerrit's perversity. "No," he replied carelessly; "we'll go
with you this morning."

"That's unheard of," William exclaimed heatedly; "a woman in all her
paint and perfume and outrageous clothes in North Church, with--with my
family! I won't have it, do you understand."

"No worse than what you see there every week," Gerrit retorted calmly;
"corsets and feathers and female gimcracks. Plenty of rouge and cologne
too. It will give them something new to stare at and whisper about."

William Ammidon choked on his anger, and his wife laid a gloved hand on
his arm. "You must make up your mind to it," she told him. "It can't hurt
anyone. She is Gerrit's wife, you see."

Above, the shipmaster said to Taou Yuen: "We are going to church with the
family." He surveyed her clothes with a faint glimmer of amusement. She
had, he saw, made herself especially resplendent as a Manchu. The long
gown was straw-colored satin with black bats--a symbol of
happiness--whirling on thickly embroidered silver clouds, over which she
wore a sleeve coat fastened with white jade and glittering with spangles
of beaten copper. Her slippers were pale rose, and fresh apple blossoms,
which she had had brought from the yard, made a headdress fixed with
long silver and dull red ivory pins.

She smiled obediently at his announcement, and, with a fan of peacock
silks and betel nuts in a pouch like a tea rose hanging by a cord from a
jade button, she signified her readiness to proceed.

William had gone on foot with his girls, Jeremy was seldom in church, and
Rhoda, Taou Yuen beside her with Gerrit facing them, followed in the
barouche. It seemed to the latter that they were almost immediately at
the door of North Church. The leisurely congregation filling the walk
stiffened in incredulous amazement as Gerrit handed his wife to the
pavement. Rhoda went promptly forward, nodding in response to countless
stupefied greetings; while Gerrit Ammidon moved on at Taou Yuen's side.

Prepared, he restrained the latter from a prostration in the hall of the
church. Nothing had changed: the umbrella trough still bore the numbers
of the pews, the stair wound gloomily up to the organ loft. He again
found the subdued interior, the maroon upholstery, the flat Gothic
squares of the ceiling and dark red stone walls, a place of reposeful
charm. The Ammidons had two of the box pews against the right wall: his
brother and children were in the second, and, inside the other small
inclosure, he shut the gate and took his place on a contracted corner
bench. Taou Yuen sat with Rhoda against the back of the pew. The former,
blazing like a gorgeous flower on the shadowed surface of a pool, smiled
serenely at him.

He could hear the hum of subdued comment running like ignited powder
through the church, familiar faces turned blankly toward him or nodded in
patent confusion. The men, he noted, expressed a single rigid
condemnation. The women, in crisp light dresses and ribboned bonnets,
were franker in their curiosity. Taou Yuen was a loadstone for their
glances. As the service progressed her face grew expressionless. Fretted
sandalwood bracelets drooped over her folded hands, and miniature dragon
flies quivered on the gold wires of her earrings; the sharp perfumes of
the East drifted out and mingled with the Western scents of extracts and
powders. He only saw that she was politely chewing betel nut. It wasn't,
he told himself, reverting to his critical attitude toward Salem, that he
was lacking in charity toward his neighbors, or that he felt any
superiority; but the quality that signally roused his antagonism was
precisely the men's present aspect of heavy censure and boundless
propriety, their stolid attitude of justifying the spiritual consummation
promised by the sermon and hymns.

The long night watches, the anxiety of the sea, the profound mysteries of
the wheeling stars and the silence of the ocean at dawns, had given him,
he dimly realized, an inarticulate reverence for the supreme mystery of
creation. He was unable to put it into words or facile prayer but it was
the guarded foundation of most that he was, and it bred in him a contempt
for lesser signs. The religion of his birth, the faith of Taou Yuen, the
fetishism of the Zanzibar Coast, he had regarded as equally important, or
futile--the mere wash of the immensity of beauty, the inexorable destiny,
that had seemed to breathe on him alone at the stern of his ship.

He lost himself now in the keenness of his remembered emotion: the
church faded into a far horizon, he felt the slight heave of the ship
and heard the creaking of the wheel as the steersman shifted his hands;
from aloft came the faint slapping of the bunt lines on rigid canvas,
the loose hemp slippers of the crew sounded across the deck, the water
whispered alongside, the ship's bell was struck and repeated in a
diminished note on the topgallant forecastle. The morning rose from
below the edge of the sea and the pure air freshened.... His thoughts
were recalled to the present by the dogmatic insistence of the
clergyman's voice, promising heaven, threatening hell. His gaze rested
on the chalky debility of Madra Clifford.

The service over, the aisle past the Ammidon pews was filled with a
slow-moving inquisitive throng. Rhoda chose to wait until the greater
part was past, and then she followed with the unmoved Taou Yuen and
Gerrit. "This is my brother's wife," he heard the former say. "Mrs.
Saltonstone, Gerrit's sister, Mrs. Clifford and Miss Vermeil. Yes... from
Shanghai. Overdue. We were worried, of course." Taou Yuen smiled
vigorously and flapped the vivid fan. Against her brilliant colors, the
carved jade and embroideries, silver and apple blossoms, the other women
looked colorless in wide book muslin and barege, with short veils of
tulle illusion hanging from bonnets of rice straw and glazed crepe.
Palpably shocked by her Oriental face masked in paint, her Chinese
"heathen" origin, yet they fingered the amazing needlework and wondered
over the weight of her satins.

The men he knew gave him, for the most part, a curt greeting. They
glanced more covertly at his wife; he understood exactly what thoughts
brought out this condemnation soiled by private speculation; and his
disdain mounted at their sleek backs and glossy tile, hats supported on
stiffly bent arms.

After dinner he walked through the warm sunny emptiness of the afternoon
to Derby Wharf and the _Nautilus_. Standing on the wharf, smoking a
cheroot, he leaned back upon his cane, studying the ship with a gaze that
missed no detail. There was not a sound from the water; across the harbor
Peach's Point seemed about to dissolve in a faint green haze; a strong
scent of mingled spices came from the warehouses. There was the splash of
oars in the Basin beyond, and the more distant peal of a church bell.

At the sound of footfalls behind him he turned and saw Nettie Vollar and
her uncle, Edward Dunsack. A dark color rose in the girl's cheek, and her
hand pulled involuntarily at Dunsack's arm, as if she wished to retreat.
Gerrit thought that she had aged since he had latest met her: Nettie's
mouth, with its full, slightly drooping lower lip, had lost something of
its fresh arch; her eyes, though they still preserved their black
sparkle, were plainly resentful. Edward Dunsack, medium tall but thin
almost to emaciation, had a riven sallow face with close-cut silvery hair
and agate-brown eyes with contracted pupils.

"Well, Nettie," Gerrit said, moving forward promptly, "it's pleasant to
see you again." Her hand was cold and still. "Dunsack, too."

"I am obliged to you for my chest," the latter told him, unmoved by
Gerrit's quizzical gaze.

"Glad to do it for you," the other replied; "it came ashore with my
personal things, and so, perhaps, saved you something."

"Perhaps," Dunsack agreed levelly.

Looking down at the cob filling of the wharf, Nettie Vollar said, "You
came home married, I hear, and to a Chinese lady."

Gerrit assented. "You'll certainly know her, and like her, too. Taou
Yuen is very wise and without the prejudices--" he stopped, conscious of
the stupidity of his attempted kindness. Nettie looked up defiantly,
biting her lip--a familiar trick, he recalled. Dunsack interposed:

"You will find that the Chinese have none of your little sympathetic
tricks. No foreigner could ever grasp the depth of their indifference to
what you might call humanity. They are born wise, as you say, but weary.
I suppose your wife plays the guitar skillfully and sings the Soochow
Love Song."

Gerrit Ammidon studied him with somber eyes and a gathering temper: it
was, however, impossible to decide whether the implication was
deliberately insulting. He wouldn't have any Canton clerk, probably
saturated with opium, insinuate that his affair was on the plane of
that of a drunken sailor! "My wife," he said deliberately, "is a
Manchu lady. You may know that they don't learn dialect songs nor
ornament tea houses."

"Very remarkable," Dunsack returned imperturbably. "We never see them.
How did you manage a go-between, and did you send the hour of your birth
to the Calculator of Destinies? Then there is so much to remember in a
Chinese wedding--the catties of tea and four silver ingots, the earrings
and red and green silk and Tao priest to consult the gods." Gerrit heard
this with a frowning countenance. If Nettie were not there he would put
Dunsack forward with the hypothetical crew to which he belonged. He felt
as sorry for Nettie, he discovered, as ever. It moved him to see her
vivacity of life, her appealingly warm color, slowly dulled by Salem and
the adventitious circumstance of her birth. What a dreary existence she
led in the harsh atmosphere of her grandfather and the solemn house on
Hardy Street! At one time he had fancied that he might change it... when
now here was Taou Yuen, detached and superior, waiting in his room at
Java Head.

"I stopped for a moment to look at the ship," he said, with the trace of
an ungracious bow, "and must get back." The sunlight flung a warm moted
veil over Nettie Vollar. She gave him a startled uncalculated glance of
almost desperate appeal and his heart responded with a quickened thud.
Edward Dunsack was sallow and enigmatic, with thin pinched lips.




V

"The stupid bruiser," Edward Dunsack declared in a thin bitterness that
startled the girl at his side. "The low sea bully!" He was gazing at the
resolute back of Captain Ammidon. A surprising hatred filled him at the
memory of the other's intolerant gaze, the careless contempt of his
words. He thought, oddly enough, of the delicate and ingenious tortures
practiced on offenders in China; the pleasant mental picture followed of
Ammidon bowed in a wooden collar, of Gerrit Ammidon bambooed, sliced,
slowly choking.... With an intense sense of horror he caught himself
dwelling on these dripping visions. His hands clasped rigidly, a sweat
stood out on his brow, in a realization that was at once dread and a
self-loathing.

About him lay the tranquil Salem water, the still wharves, the familiar
roofs and green tree tops. This wasn't Canton, he told himself, but
America: there was Nettie; only a few streets away was his father's
house, his own home, all solid and safe and reassuring. China was a
thing of the past, its insidious secret hold broken. It was now only a
dream of evil fascination from which he had waked to the reality, the
saving substance, of Derby Wharf. "It's his domineering manner," he
explained the outburst to Nettie; "all shipmasters have it--as if the
world were a vessel they damned from a quarter-deck in the sky. I never
could put up with them."

"He is very kind, really," she replied, looking away over the harbor. "It
is so queer--marrying a Chinese woman like that. How will he ever get
along with her or be happy?"

"He won't," Edward Dunsack asserted. "Leave that to time." He studied her
attentively. "Was it anything to you?" he asked.

"It might have been," she acknowledged listlessly, her gaze still on the
horizon. "He came to see me two or three times, quite differently from
other nice men, and took me to a concert at the Philharmonic Society. He
was getting to like me, I could tell that, when grandfather interfered--"

"I see," Dunsack interrupted, "with the immorality of the supermoral."

"Whatever it was he was past bearing. No one could blame Gerrit for
getting into a fury. The next day I stood almost in this spot, it was
late afternoon too, and watched the _Nautilus_ sail away. All the canvas
was set and I could see her for a long time. When the last trace had
gone it seemed to me that my life had sunk too ... out there."

"The old man's a fool," he said bluntly of his father. "How do you
suppose he got hold of a Manchu?" he shifted his thought, addressing the
stillness about them rather than his companion. "Don't imagine for a
minute that you are superior to her," he told Nettie more directly.
"There is nothing more remarkable. They must be gorgeous," a faint color
stained his long cheeks. "What incredible luck," he murmured.

He was thinking avidly of the women of China--the little gay girls like
toys, the momentary glimpses of enameled faces in hurrying red-flowered
sedan chairs, faces of ivory stained with carmine, in gold-crusted
headdresses. A sudden impatience at Nettie Vollar's obvious person and
clothes expanded to a detestation of an atmosphere he had but a minute or
so before welcomed as an escape from something infinitely worse than
death. Now it seemed impossible to spend a life in Salem. It would have
been better, when he had been released by Heard and Company, to have
taken the position open in the Dutch Hong.

He was in a continual state of such vacillation, as if he were the seat
of two separate and antagonistic personalities; rather, he changed the
figure, in him the East struggled with the West. It was necessary for the
latter to triumph. The difficulty lay in the fact that the first was
represented by an actual circumstance while the other was only a dim
apprehension, a weakened allegiance to ties never strong.

He cursed the extraordinary chance that, against every probability, had
brought the chest of opium safely to him here. Its purchase had been the
result of habit evading his will, he had despatched it--in that seesawing
contest--by a precarious route, half hoping that it would be lost or
seized; and, when he had seen the chest carried down Hardy Street to his
door, a species of terror had fastened upon him, a premonition of an evil
spirit flickering above him in a turning of oily smoke. Why hadn't he
pitched the thing into the water at the foot of their yard! There was
time still: he would take the balls of opium and dispose of them
secretly. A sudden energy, a renewed sense of strength, flooded him. This
distaste for Nettie changed into a pity at the ill luck that had followed
her: she didn't deserve it. Generous emotions expanded his heart. He
dreamed of taking hold of his father's small commerce in rum and sugar
with the West Indies and turning it into a concern as rich and powerful
as Ammidon, Ammidon and Saltonstone.

Why not!

They, too, would have a big white house on Washington Square or Chestnut
Street, with servants--Chinese servants--and horses and great ships
sailing in, laden with the East. Why not indeed! He, Edward Dunsack, had
more brains than Jeremy Ammidon, that stiff old man with a face the color
of a damask plum. His niece would go to all the balls at Franklin and
Hamilton Halls, the injustice of her position overcome by an impressively
increasing fortune. Abstractly he patted her shoulder with a hand as long
and gaunt and yellow as his face. All this would come as a result of
throwing the opium into the harbor. It was as good as accomplished.

In the face of his prospective well-being he felt already the equal of
anyone in Salem. If Gerrit Ammidon had married a Manchu lady it was his
privilege, no, duty, to call and put his experience in things Chinese at
their command. She would speak only a little if any English; no one here
understood the preparation of her food--her delicate necessity for dishes
not the property of an entire household; a hundred such details of which
the infinitely cruder West must be ignorant. He thought complacently that
he would understand her better than anyone else in Salem, in Boston, in
America; far better than her husband. She would without doubt learn to
depend on him: they would laugh together at the manners and people about
them. Ammidon would be away for long periods on the China service.--

His dreams broke off with a sardonic laugh, a repetition of the tone in
which he had objurgated the ship-master. Such visions were the property
of youth, and he was forty-two, forty-two and nothing more than a
discredited clerk who had fled across the world from a shadow. But he was
right--he had seen white men who had caught the breath of China accepting
just such opportunities as the one offered to him after his dismissal by
Augustine Heard. At the Dutch Hong he'd be expected to talk about his
late employer. Such situations, he had realized in a rarely illuminating
flash, were only temporary, a descending flight.

These men resembled the fate of, say, a brig sailing into the China
Sea in all the perfection of order of the British Marine: at, perhaps,
Hong Kong, sold to a native firm, she would be refitted under an
extravagant flag, and slowly the order would depart until, in a
slovenly tangle of rigging and defilement, she'd be seen yawing on
secret and nauseous errands.

A homely chime of bells was repeated from the town; a ship's fast
strained resinously with the changing tide. "It will be getting on toward
supper," Nettie told him. They walked slowly from the wharf, turned
silently into Derby Street and Hardy on their way home. Beyond the inner
fence of the garden the thick uneven sod reaching to the water was dark
and cool against the luminous flush of evening. A sound of frying and
heavy odor came from the kitchen, and Kate Vollar's voice informed them
that the meal was ready.

Barzil Dunsack bowed his head over the table and pronounced a grace in
startlingly resonant tones, the reverent humility of his words oddly
emphasized by a sort of angry impatience. It seemed as if he at once
subjected himself to his God and expressed a certain dissatisfaction with
His forbearance. Edward Dunsack was plunged in the thought of the
resolution he intended to fulfill that evening.

The throwing away of the opium had lost a part of its symbolic meaning.
It now seemed even a little rash when he could find an immediate highly
profitable market--the opium had cost him seven hundred dollars in China.
But he must, he realized, be firm. Afterwards, in his room facing away
from the street over darkening yards and gables and foliage, he stood
gazing at the chest of mango wood that held the drug. Edward Dunsack
unlocked and lifted the lid. On the tray before him were twenty balls,
each the size of his two fists, wrapped in a hard skin of poppy leaves,
and there was a similar number beneath. It was obvious that he couldn't
carry a tray through the house, and he took out two balls, after which he
secured the remainder.

He walked quickly down the stair and through the close turning of the
lower hall that led through a side door to the yard. A pale rectangle of
lamplight fell from the sitting room window over a brick path and ground
tramped bare of grass; a clinking of dishes sounded in the kitchen. The
sod was damp, and perhaps eight feet below the wooden buttress of the
land the water showed impenetrably black.

Safely there he passed a tense hand over a brow suddenly wet; he was
shaking as if in the grip of a chill. His condition needed drastic
measures. The cold heavy opium gave out its tantalizing odor. In a minute
it would be disposed of and he would go for more. He calculated that this
necessitated twenty trips at the present rate--a bag might serve his
purpose better. He raised an arm with an opium ball, but his hand
remained suspended in air. An inarticulate protest seized him, a
suffocating sense of impending loss. He would never be able to get Patna
opium here; it was a valuable medical property. His nerves shook at the
thought of its delights. Then as if without his volition and against
every intention, his arm described a short arc and his hand was empty.
There was the impact of a solid object striking the water, a faint ripple
on the motionless expanse, and then absolute silence.

He was aghast at his wanton act, the irreparable waste of a precious
substance, and cursed in a low audible Cantonese. Whose concern was it if
he did, very occasionally, smoke a "pistol"? How could it possibly
matter! The dreams about a great foreign commerce, a white house like the
Ammidons', were futile; it was too late. He could expect nothing from
life but the unspeakable monotony of his father's dwelling, the bare
office. He had worked hard, been as full of splendid early resolutions as
anyone, and he wasn't blamable if chance balked his ambition. A soul was
nothing more than a twisting leaf in the wind of fate. There remained
only to take what escape was offered--golden visions, luxury, beauty
beyond all earth.

His contrary determination seemed of less actuality than the imagined
echoing of the splash that still hung in his brain. It was a thing far
away, belonging to another time, another man; like the memory of a period
of charming ignorance. The thought of it wove a strand of melancholy into
his present mature realization like the delicate scent of blossoming
trees borne to him on the evening air, barely perceptible and then lost
in the pungency of the opium. The latter became, mystically, all China,
the irresistible fascination that had gradually possessed his
imagination, dulling the associations of his heredity and birth, calling
him further and further into its secretive heart.

He returned to his room, where he put back the second ball in the tray of
its chest. An extraordinary weariness hung over him, there was a sense
of leaden weight in his arms and feet. Flashes of a different perception
pierced his apathy; a voice, seemingly outside his being, whispered of
danger, evil and danger.... A twisting leaf, he told himself again with
his deep fatalism.

The memory of Gerrit Ammidon's crisp blue gaze, his vigorous gestures and
speech, became an intolerable affront, representing the far lost point of
his own departure. His contrary feelings met and grappled in his mind;
but in the end the past, Salem, was always defeated, weaker, more faintly
perceived. In a great many essentials, he told himself, he had become
Chinese in sympathy and fiber.

The lamp threw a smooth gleam over the mango wood chest, and he bent,
turning the key in the ornamental brass lock. He could reconsider the
disposal of the opium to-morrow; there was no hurry; he had no intention
of becoming a victim to the drug. That would be an inconceivable
stupidity, the negation of all the philosophy he had gained. Very
occasionally--

His thoughts swung to the surprising fact of Ammidon's Chinese wife: if,
as he had first suspected, she were a common woman of the port who had
made a fool of the dull sailor he perceived the making of a very
entertaining comedy. There would be the keenest irony in exposing her to
himself before the complacent ignorance of her husband. He knew such
women: convicted in Chinese, perhaps before the entire Ammidon family,
not a muscle of her face would betray surprise or concern. She might try
to murder him, very ingeniously, but never descend to the intrigue, the
lies, of a Western woman placed in the same position. She'd stoically
accept the situation. These visions ran rapidly, vividly, through his
brain; he was accustomed to them; a greater part of his waking life was
filled with such pictures, infinitely more alluring, persuasive, than the
disappointing actuality. He got out of his clothes, and, in a loose gown
of black silk, sat at his open window, his chin sunk in the palm of a
hand, his face set against the night.

The next morning, at the breakfast table, he listened with a fleering
mouth to his father's long dogmatic grace before meat. His sister sat
opposite their parent, her gaze lowered in a perpetual amazement, her
entire person stamped with a stupid humility. There was nothing humble,
however, in Nettie; the crisp French coloring positively crackled with an
electric energy; her mouth was set in a rebellious red blot. Studying
her, Edward Dunsack saw that she was prettier than he had first realized
on his return to Salem. He speculated over the story she had told him
yesterday about Gerrit Ammidon's attachment. What an incredible idiot
their father had been: Edward would have relished Gerrit as a
brother-in-law; good would have come to them all from such a connection.

If he had been in America at the time no such error would have been
permitted. With his counsel Nettie would have caught Ammidon beyond any
escape. He wondered if the girl had actually cared for the shipmaster or
if the affair had been nothing more than a sop to her wounded pride and
isolation. In a way beyond his present understanding this seemed to be
considerably important. If she had loved him no one could predict what
her attitude might be in any future development of their contact; but if
her pride only had been involved, injured, she might readily be an
instrument for his own obscure purposes.

The office where Barzil Dunsack conducted the limited affairs of his
West India trading was a small one-room building back of the dwelling.
There was a high desk at which a clerk stood, or balanced on a
long-legged stool, a more formal secretary against the length of the
wall, with a careful model of a full ship, the spars and standing
rigging slack and the whole gray with dust, a built-in cupboard
opposite, a dilapidated chair or so and a ten-plate iron stove for wood.
A window looked out across the grass to the harbor and another opened
blankly against a board fence.

There Edward Dunsack made a column of entries in a script fine and
regular but occasionally showing an uncontrollably tremulous line. He
was conscious of this tendency, growing through the past year; and he
surveyed his writing with a feeling of angry dismay. Try as he might,
with a frowning concentration, to pen the words and numerals firmly,
presently his attention would slip, his hand waver ever so slightly, and
a sudden stricken appearance of old age fasten on the characters.... By
heaven, to-night he'd throw all that stinking stuff away!

Outside the day was immaculate, the expanse of the water was like
celestial silk, such sails as he saw resembled white clouds. The early
morning bird song had subsided, but a persistent robin was whistling from
the grass by the open door. The curd-like petals of a magnolia were
slowly shifting obliquely to the ground, he could hear the stir of Derby
Street. He was inexpressibly weary of the struggle always racking his
being: it seemed to him that in the midst of a serene world he was
tormented by some inimicable and fatal power.

He fastened his thoughts on commonplace happier objects, on the page
under his hand, the entries of Medford rum and sugar cane and molasses,
and the infinitely larger affairs of Ammidon, Ammidon and Saltonstone.
There was no reason why he shouldn't call on Jeremy Ammidon's family. The
latter had signified by his visit the desire to end the misunderstanding
between them. He was as well born as Gerrit Ammidon; only ill chance had
made them seem differently situated. Anyhow, unlike Canton, mere exterior
position had comparatively little weight in Salem. The shipmasters, the
more important merchants, arrogated a certain superiority to themselves:
but it broke down before the inborn democracy of the local spirit.

That afternoon, he decided, he'd be in Pleasant Street; and later he
dressed with the most meticulous care. A growing doubt seized him as he
mounted the outside steps of the Ammidons' impressive house; but he
crushed it down and firmly rapped with the polished knocker on the
opened door.

The family, a servant told him, was in the garden; and he followed
through a large white-paneled hall into a formal drawing-room and green
space beyond. He was again uncertain before the number of people grouped
about a summerhouse and apparently watching his approach with cold
surprise. But Gerrit Ammidon stepped forward and greeted him with an
adequately level civility.

"You know my father," he said, and Jeremy Ammidon, his heavy body in
linen above which his face was dusky, put out an abrupt hand. There was a
Mr. Brevard, a slender unconcerned person in very fashionable but
restrained clothes; William Ammidon's wife, a large woman in India
muslin, handsome enough, Edward Dunsack conceded, in the obvious
American sense; a daughter of William's, a girl blooming into womanhood,
far too vigorous and brightly colored for his taste; and Gerrit's wife.

The latter had been hidden from him at first, and he saw her suddenly,
completely: his surprise caused him to stand in an awkward
suspense--never had he imagined that a woman, even a Manchu, could be so
beautiful! He recognized, in a score of unmistakable details, that she
was of irreproachably high birth; her satins were embroidered with the
symbols of nobility and matrimonial felicity; the gold fingernail guards,
the jade and flowering pearls, her earrings and tasseled tobacco pouch
and ivory fan, were all in the most superlative manner.

A deep pleasurable excitement filled him as he made his greeting in
correct Chinese. The long delicate oval of her face showed no emotion at
the sound of her native speech and she returned his periods in a slowly
chosen mechanical English. Edward Dunsack thought that as he spoke an
expression of distaste stamped Gerrit's features. However, he was left in
no doubt: "My wife," the other instructed him, "prefers to speak English.
That is the only way she has of picking it up."

A contempt filled Dunsack which he was barely able to keep from his voice
and manner. He nodded shortly, and subsided into a study of Taou Yuen so
open that she must have become aware of his interest. Seated on the bench
that circled the interior of the latticed summerhouse she moved so that
he could no longer see her face. Brevard was beside her, talking in a low
amused voice: there was a ringing peal of laughter from Sidsall Ammidon
and a faint infinitely well-bred ripple from Taou Yuen. The brilliant
patch of her gown made an extraordinary effect in the Salem garden.
Edward Dunsack recognized the scents that stirred from her, more Eastern
and disturbing even than opium: there was a subtle natural odor of musk,
the perfumes of henna and clove blossoms and santal.

A curious double feeling possessed him in the split consciousness of
which he was capable--he had the sensation of having come, in the suave
afternoon garden, on overwhelming disaster, and at the same time he was
enraged by the play of Fate that had given such a woman to Gerrit Ammidon
and denied him, with his special appreciation of Oriental charm, the
slightest satisfaction. A more general hatred of Gerrit tightened to a
consuming resentment of the other's blind fortune.

One thing was unmistakably borne upon him--in spite of the courtesy he
was meeting it was clear that he could not hope to become a customary
visitor at the Ammidons'. He was put definitely outside the community of
interests in which Brevard easily entered. William Ammidon joined them,
and something like astonishment at Dunsack's presence was visible on his
complacent face.

He remained, however, in a stubborn resistance to small adverse signs in
the hope of gaining some additional facts about Taou Yuen. She had been,
he learned, a widow and Gerrit had married her with her father-in-law's
consent although the latter was a rich official. He wanted to ask a
thousand questions, but he knew that even if the Ammidons were too dense
to grasp his curiosity, Taou Yuen herself would comprehend his
impoliteness. Nowhere else could be found the wisdom and poise of a
Manchu lady.

Jeremy Ammidon, in a lawn chair, a smoking cheroot in his fingers, asked
him about affairs of Chinese government and commerce. As the old man
talked he flushed darkly with quick indignation. "The English have made
our political diplomats look like stuffed gulls!" he declared. "Look at
their Orders in Council and the British Prize Courts," he proceeded,
waving his cheroot; "stop an American vessel anywhere and pretend to find
a deserting English sailor. With the Treaty of Ghent and cod-headed
commissioners and a Congress that wouldn't know a ship from a bread barge
the country's going to hell on greased ways! I've said it a thousand
times and any man not a complete ass knows that you can't run a
government without a strong head. Locofocos," he muttered.

Edward Dunsack listened to this tirade with an air of polite attention
which hid completely the fact that he heard or comprehended scarcely a
word. His thoughts were filled by the fragrant vision of Taou Yuen;
already he was deep in the problem of how to see her again, to-morrow. It
would be excessively difficult. Eastern women never, if they could avoid
it, walked; and they were, he knew, entirely without the necessity that
drove the women of Salem into a ceaseless round of calling and gossip. It
was probable that, except to ride, she wouldn't leave the house and
grounds. He cursed the chance quarrel that had set a customary void
between the houses of Dunsack and Ammidon, the unfortunate affair of his
sister and Vollar inescapably adding to the permanency of the breach; he
particularly cursed Nettie. There, however, his mind took up the twisted
thread of the vague possibility that the latter might be useful to him:
he was amazed at the way in which his premonitions fitted into the
pattern of situations yet to be materialized.

Edward Dunsack turned from his contemplation of Taou Yuen to a careful
consideration of Gerrit Ammidon. The latter had a countenance which
showed strong, easily summoned emotions. It was an intolerant face,
Dunsack judged, and yet sentimental; and it was surprisingly young,
guileless. At the same time it was unusually determined--an affair of
uncomplicated surfaces, direct gaze, marked bone.

He questioned sharply, irritably, the length to which his projections had
reached. What were they all about? The answer was presented by the
glittering figure of the Manchu; she had risen and was standing in the
entrance of the summerhouse. He thought, with a jerking pulse, of
Oriental similes; she was a lotus-woman, a green slip of willow, an
ambrosial moon, a mustard flower. Her teeth were white buds, her breasts
blanched almonds.

His entire life in China had been a preparation for the realization of
the present moment. The sense of danger, of anger at Gerrit Ammidon,
perished before the supreme emotion called up by Taou Yuen. He wanted
to embrace her satin-shod feet, to cling to her odorous hands, such
hands as were never formed out of China, like petals of coral. Not only
her bodily charm intoxicated him, but the thought of her subtle mind
added its attraction, its shadows never to be pierced by the blunted
Western instinct, the knowledge of pleasures like perfumes, the calm
blend of the eight diagrams of Confucius, the stoicism of the
Buddhistic soul revolving perpetually in the urn of Fate, and of the
aloof Tao of Lao-tze.

Brevard left with an easy familiarity, already planning a return, that
filled Edward Dunsack with resentful envy. The sun had disappeared behind
the house; long cool shadows swept down the garden; it was past time for
him to go. A reluctance to move from the magic of Taou Yuen possessed
him: he was unable to think how, when, he would next see her. He raged at
the prohibition against speaking Chinese; that ability should give him an
overwhelming advantage of Gerrit Ammidon. This was, of course, the reason
that he had been virtually commanded to limit himself to English. Many of
the forms of extreme Chinese courtesy were impossible to express in
another language.

Finally he rose; in departing he emphasized the importance of Jeremy
Ammidon--Taou Yuen should recognize and applaud that. He saw that she was
watching him obliquely, her lips in repose, her hands still among the
satin draperies. An American would have betrayed something of her
reaction to him, he could have discovered a trace, an indication, of her
thoughts; but the Manchu's face was as inscrutable as porcelain. William
Ammidon nodded, the old man responded to his leave-taking with a degree
of warmness, Gerrit at least smiled in a not unfriendly manner. Edward
Dunsack bowed to Taou Yuen, and she gravely inclined her head. He had a
last glimpse of her glowing in the green light of the inclosure of
rose-bushes and poplars, emerald sod and tangled lilac trees.

At the supper table his sister's appearance in somber untidy black
barege, Nettie's unrestrained gestures and speech, the coarse red cloth
and plain boiled fare, all added to a discontent that he could scarcely
restrain. With the utmost discrimination in delicate shades of beauty and
luxury he was yet condemned to spend his days in surroundings hardly
raised above poverty-stricken squalor. Incongruous as it was he could yet
imagine Taou Yuen moving with a certain appropriateness about the
Ammidons' spacious grounds and house; but he was absolutely unable to
picture her here, on Hardy Street.

All the vivid scenes that continually formed and shifted in his mind
gathered about Gerrit Ammidon's wife. He used this phrase in a
contemptuously satirical manner: it was impossible for Ammidon actually
to marry a Manchu. Such racial mating, he told himself, could not be
consummated; there were too many deep antipathies of flesh and spirit;
the man was too--too stupidly normal. Sooner or later he would swing back
to his own. With him, Edward Dunsack, it was different; he always had an
inner kinship with China; at first sight its streets and sounds, odors
and ways, had seemed familiar, admirable.

The realization of this, when his place with Heard and Company
collapsed, had sent him back to America, in a strange dread. He
remembered how the vague fear had followed him to Derby Wharf. Now he
laughed at it, welcoming every Chinese instinct he had. They seemed to
throw a bridge across enormous difficulties, bringing him finally to
Taou Yuen.

He lingered at the table after supper, his head sunk on his chest,
revolving the various aspects of his position. One thing was definite--he
must have Taou Yuen; it was unthinkable that she should continue with
Gerrit Ammidon. It needed skillful planning, tortuous execution, but in
the end he'd get his desire. He had no doubt of that. It was necessary.
If she opposed him she would discover that he, too, could be subtle,
Oriental, yes--dangerous. None of the stupid inhibitions that, for
example, bound his father interfered with the free exercise of his
personal wishes. He was beyond primitive morality.

An ecstasy of contemplation ravished his senses.

"Goodness, Uncle Edward," Nettie exclaimed, "you scared me, you looked so
like a Chinee."

"There are no such people," he retorted sharply, exasperated by the
vulgar error. She was undismayed; and when, in reply to the question, she
learned that he had been at the Ammidons' her surprise increased his
irritation. He saw from her manner that his calling there had been at
least unexpected. Nettie interrupted the preparation of the table for
breakfast, and dropped into a chair beyond him, her hands--the sleeves
were rolled back to her elbows--clasped before her.

"You must tell me everything," she declared eagerly. "What is she like?
Do they seem happy? Did he hold her hand? Do Chinese women kiss? Is she
tall or--"

"I can't remember a question out of your rattle," he interrupted her. He
was about to give expression to his admiration for Taou Yuen, when he
stopped, with tight lips. Here, perhaps, was the lever by which so much
was to be shifted.

"She's Chinese," he said indifferently, "and that means yellow." Nettie
made a gesture of distaste. "They seem to get along well enough. Of
course, it's ridiculous to call it a marriage, and it seems to me very
questionable to impose it on the Ammidons as that. The thing is--how
long will it last, how soon will he get tired of her and send her back
to Canton?"

Nettie Vollar closed her eyes, her hands were rigid. The lamplight,
streaming up over her face, showed him that it was tense and pale and
answered a question. Her feeling for Gerrit Ammidon had been more than a
mere hurt pride. In addition to that he saw beyond any doubt the proof of
its existence still. This complicated his problem: inspired only by a
resentment that he might fan into hatred she would be far more pliable
than in the grip of a genuine affection for Gerrit Ammidon. He understood
the processes of the former, a flexible and useful steel; but no one
could predict the vagaries, the absurd self-sacrifices, of love. Well,
he'd have to work with what offered. That, he realized, was the strength
of his philosophy--he accepted promptly, without vain regret, the means
that lay at his hand.

"Ammidon seems worn," he said generally; "they were in the garden, and I
had a few words privately with him." Nettie glanced swiftly across the
table; her lips moved; but she repressed the obvious question trembling
on them. "He showed, I think," he continued carefully, "a very improper
interest in you."

"How?"

"He asked if you were well and happy. I most certainly told him, for any
number of reasons, for pride alone, that you were."

"Then you told a lie," she cried in a tone so hard that it surprised him.

"Of course," he went on smoothly, "I know that you are not, almost all
your circumstances prohibit that. But I don't intend to circulate it in
Salem. Opinion here may have forced you into a long loneliness, but I
shan't give anyone the satisfaction of knowing it. And, after all, you
have your grandfather mostly to blame. You would have been married to
Gerrit Ammidon now if he hadn't interfered; you would have been walking
about the Ammidons' garden with your hand on his arm in place of that
Chinese prostitute."

"I don't see why you should make me so miserable," she declared. "I don't
care anything about the garden, it isn't that. Why do you suppose he
brought such a woman home?"

"Pique," he told her; "he couldn't care for her in the way he might for,
well--you. As I said, he'll drop her on his next voyage to the East; he
will leave her and probably never come back to Salem again. I hear that
Ammidon, Ammidon and Saltonstone are planning a new policy--bigger ships,
clippers in the China and California trade; and that means removal to
Boston. Their facilities here are no longer suitable."

She moved, her chin fell upon her hands, propped up with her elbows on
the table. Apparently Edward Dunsack was gazing at the wall beyond her.
Her breast gave a single sharp heave. When Nettie looked up her face was
flushed. "I wish that I were really a bad woman," she spoke in a low
vibrant voice.

"What is bad and what is good?" He still seemed to ignore her,
considering a question that had no personal bearing. "In one country a
thing is thought wrong and in another it is the highest virtue. In one
age this or that is condemned, when, turn the calendar, and everyone is
praising it." He became confidential, the image of kindness. "I'll tell
you what I think is wicked," he pronounced, leaning toward her, "and that
is the way you two were kept apart; unchristian is what I call it."

"Gerrit doesn't care," she said.

"How do you know?" he demanded. "I cannot agree with you. I don't find a
great deal in him to admire, he is too simple and transparent; but
there's no doubt of this, he is faithful. One idea, one affection, is all
his head will hold."

"That's a beautiful trait." A palpable wistfulness settled over her.

"It's greatly admired," he agreed; "although not by me. I believe in
taking what is yours, what you need, from life. I suppose that I have
been away from proprieties so long that they have lost their importance.
They seem to me of no greater weight than barriers of straw. But, of
course, that mightn't suit you; probably, living in Salem as you have,
its opinion is valuable."

"Salem!" she exclaimed bitterly. "What has it ever been to me but an
unfair judgment? I owe Salem no consideration; I can't see that I owe
any to life."

"I don't want to insist on that," he proceeded deliberately. "The tragedy
of your position is that married to Ammidon everything in the past would
have been overlooked, forgotten. Even now--" he stopped with a gesture
indicating the presence still of large possibilities.

God, what a vacillating fool the girl was! He could say no more at
present, and he rose, leaving the room with Nettie staring dully across
the table. He went outside, to the grass fronting on the harbor. Here,
last night, he had thrown the opium into the water. It seemed to him
that he had lived through a complete existence since then: the presence
of Taou Yuen had created a new world. He thought she walked to him
through the gloom; he saw her slender body grow brighter as she
approached; he heard her speak in a low native murmur; their hands
caught in an eager tangle.

He put aside, momentarily, the problem of the difficulties of going again
to the Ammidons' for an easier one--the bringing of Gerrit Ammidon here.
He was confident that, thrown together on the still rim of the water, at
evening, the emotion born between his niece and the shipmaster and
prematurely choked would revive. He had no means of knowing Ammidon's
present exact feeling for Nettie; he was counting only on a general
theory of men and nature at large. He was already convinced, from very
wide knowledge, experience, that the other could not form a permanent
attachment to the Manchu; and Nettie's great difference, together with
the romance of her unhappy position, must have a potent effect on the
fellow's evident sentimentality. A dank air rose from the water, like the
smell of death; and, with an uncontrollable shiver, he turned back toward
the house.

In his room Edward Dunsack recalled that he had promised himself to throw
away the remainder of the opium on this and succeeding nights. In view of
that his movements were inexplicable: he got out from a locked chest the
_yen tsiang_, a heavy tube of dark wood inlaid with silver ideograms and
diminutive earthen cup at one end. Then he produced a small brass lamp,
brushes, long needles, and a metal rod. Taking off his clothes, and in
the somber black folds of the silk robe, he made various minutely careful
preparations. Finally, extended on his bed, he dipped the end of the rod
into opium the color of tar, kept it for a bubbling moment near the blaze
of the lamp, and then crowded the drug into the pipe. He held the bowl to
the flame and drew in a long deep inhalation. A second followed and the
pipe was empty. He repeated this until he had smoked a mace.

A vivacious and brilliant state of being flooded him; he felt capable
of profoundly witty conversation, and laughed at the solemn absurdities
of the Ammidons, at his father attempting to call down a blessing out
of the empty sky upon their food, at his sister's lugubrious
countenance, the childish emotions of Nettie. What a nonsensical
strutting business life was.

The confines of his room were lost in an amber radiance that filled all
space; it was at once a light and a perfume and charged with a sense of
impending rapture. A sparkling crimson shape floated down from infinite
skies--Taou Yuen. She wore a bridal costume, cunningly embroidered with
the phoenix, a hood of thin gold plate, and a band of red silk about her
brow bore the eight copper figures of the beings who are immortal. Her
hair was ornamented by the pure green jade pins of summer, her hanging
wrists were heavy with virgin silver, while her face was like the
desirous August moon flushed in low vapors.

He raised his bony arms--the wide silk sleeves falling back--his
emaciated yellow hands. From under his dark eyelids there was a glitter
of vision like the sheen on mica... Taou Yuen floated nearer.

Edward Dunsack woke suddenly, at the darkest ebb of night, and started
hurriedly to his feet. A sickening vertigo, a whirling head, sent him
lurching across the room. He came in contact with a chest of drawers, and
clung to it with the feeling that his legs were shriveling beneath him.
His consciousness slowly returned, and with it a pain like ruthless
tearing fingers searched his body. The rectangle of the open window,
only less dark than the room, promised a relief from the strangled effort
of his breathing, and he fell across the ledge, lifting his face to a
starless and unstirring heat. Waves of complete physical exhaustion
passed over him. An utter horror fastened on his brain.

"Oh, God," he said, with numb lips, "we thank Thee for this, Thy daily
blessing--" He broke off with an effort. That was his father pronouncing
a grace. "Oh God--" he said again, when it seemed to him that in the
darkness he saw the blank placidity of a Buddha carved from gray stone.
Tears ran over his sunken cheeks, salt and warm like blood.




VI

The night was so oppressive, continuing such an unusually sultry period
for the season, that Sidsall, ordinarily impervious to the effects of
weather, was unable to sleep. Although the door between her room and her
parents' was shut, she heard her father--his step, at once quick and
firm, was easily recognizable moving about beyond. Her restlessness
increased and she got up, crossing the floor to the window open on the
garden, where she knelt, the thick plait of her hair across her cheek and
shoulder, with her arms propped on the ledge. The depths of sky were
hidden in a darkness like night made visible; and, in place of moving
air, there were slow waves of perfume, now from the lilacs and now from
the opening hedge of June roses.

Her brain was filled by a multitude of minor images and speculations, but
fixed at their back was the presence of Roger Brevard. She approved of
him absolutely. He had exactly the formal manner that gave her a pleasant
sense of delicate importance, and his clothes were beautiful, a sprig of
rose geranium in a buttonhole and his gloves and boots immaculate. She
liked rather slight graceful men, she thought, with the quiet voices of a
polite ancestry. Naturally Olive Wibird preferred less restrained
companions, although Heaven knew that Olive appeared to make all kinds
welcome. Olive's opinion of Roger Brevard would have been very different
if he had asked her to dance.

Sidsall recalled the quadrille he had led her through at Lacy's party; he
had been a perfect partner, at once light and firm. He had been a
habitual caller at Java Head before that occasion, and had come in the
same manner since. That is, casually viewed, his visits seemed the same;
but in reality there were some small yet significant differences. They
were all held in his attitude of the afternoon when he had stayed talking
exclusively to her on the steps.

She couldn't say just what the change was; when she attempted to examine
it her thoughts became confused and turned to a hundred absurd
considerations, such as--at present--the loveliness of the night. The
scents of the flowers were overwhelming. He got on, too, better than
almost anyone else with her Uncle Gerrit's Manchu wife. She had watched
them together until it had dawned on her that the two had some important
qualities in common--they both appeared to stand a little aside from the
world, as if they were against the wall at a cotillion. She thought this
in spite of the fact that it was precisely what Roger Brevard never did;
it was true in the mysterious way of so much now that came from ideas
over which she had no control.

The subject of Uncle Gerrit's wife--she had not yet been told or decided
for herself what to call her--was inexhaustibly enthralling. But, before
she was again fairly launched in it, she paused to wonder at the presence
of the dreadful Dunsack man on their lawn. His hollow yellow cheeks and
staring brown eyes which somehow made her think of pain, his restless
hands and speech, all repelled her violently. Taou--Taou Yuen hadn't
liked him either: when, after the longest time, he had gone, she replied
to a short comment from her, Sidsall's, father:

"Rotten wood cannot be carved."

Some one else had mentioned opium. She had intended to ask more
particularly about this, but it slipped from her mind. She remembered
that her grandfather made one of his familiar exclamations peppered with
an appalling word. He was really very embarrassing, and she was glad that
Roger Brevard had left. It was a bad example for Laurel, too, who copied
him, and only that morning said "My God" to Miss Gomes. Her mind swung
back to the consideration of the Manchu: The latter was the fact upon
which Camilla was so insistent, that in this case a Manchu was a noble,
almost a princess. Camilla suffered dreadfully from the endless questions
put to her outside their house about Uncle Gerrit's wife. She had more
than once wept at the public blot laid on them. Laurel was frankly
inquisitive and Janet as puzzling as usual.

The clothes of course were enchanting, the richness of the materials and
hand embroidery marvellous; her jewelry was never ending. It didn't seem
quite like clothing, in the sense of her own tarlatan and crinoline, her
waist which Hodie wouldn't properly lace and tulle draping; there was a
certain resemblance to the dressing in Van Amburgh's circus; but--in
spite of Camilla's private laments--every inch of it was distinguished.
The layers of paint upset them, but Uncle Gerrit had explained, a little
impatiently, that it was a Manchu custom, adding that the world couldn't
be all measured and judged by Salem.

Sidsall liked her rather than not, she decided; and determined to make an
effort to know her better. She wanted specially to discover the nature of
the bond that held one to the other, and explore, in safety, the depths
of love. She could not help feeling that her uncle's affair,
extraordinary as it was, must throw light on the whole complicated
business of marriage. ... The clock in the hall struck an indeterminate
half hour, it appeared to grow lighter outside, and there was a
twittering of martins from the stables. From above came the vigorous
harsh cawing of crows. Suddenly sleepy she returned to bed and almost
immediately the room was flooded with sunlight.

It was an accepted fact now that Taou Yuen, the Garden of Peaches, stayed
in her room until long after breakfast; and when Sidsall, rising from the
table, found a servant taking up a pot of hot water for tea, she secured
it and knocked carefully on the door above. The slurring hesitating voice
said "Come in," and she entered with a diffidence covered by a cheerfully
polite morning greeting. She found the other in crepe de Chine pantaloons
wrapped tightly about her ankles and bound over quilted muslin socks with
gay brocaded ribbons and a short floating gown of gray silk worked with
willow leaves. Her hair was an undisturbed complication of lustrous
black, gold bodkins and flowers massed on either side; and her face,
without paint or powder, was as smooth as ivory and the color of very
pale coffee and cream.

Sidsall saw that she was at her toilet, and she put down the pot of
steaming water, moving toward the door; but Taou Yuen, with a charmingly
shy gesture, begged her to stay. She swiftly drew a cup of tea from
silvery leaves, filled and lighted the minute bowl of her tobacco pipe,
deeply inhaled the smoke; then returned to a mirror.

Fascinated, Sidsall followed every motion.

Taou Yuen polished her face sharply with a hot damp cloth and then dipped
her fingers in a jar that held a sticky amber substance. "Honey," she
said briefly, rubbing it into her cheeks and palms. Next she attacked her
eyebrows, and skillfully wielding a thin silk cord left arches like
pencil markings. At times she interrupted her preparations to turn to
Sidsall with a little smile so engaging that the girl smiled
sympathetically in answer. There were a gilt paper box of rice powder,
with which she drenched her countenance, leaves of carmine transferred to
her cheeks with a wet finger, and a silver pot of rouge from which she
coated her lips. As she gazed approvingly at her reflection Sidsall said:

"It's very beautiful."

Her eyes, drawn up toward her temples, shone gayly; and, close to
Sidsall, she touched the latter affectionately on the cheek. The cold
sharp contact of the long curving finger guard gave the girl an
unpleasant shock. It seemed lifeless, or like the scratching of a beetle.
Suddenly the woman's glittering gaze, her expressionless face stiff with
paint, the blaze of her barbaric colors, filled Sidsall with a shrinking
that was almost dread.

She was even more oppressed by an instinctive feeling of what she could
express to herself only as cruelty hidden under the other's scented
embroidery. At the same time her curiosity persisted, conquered. She was
unable, however, to think of any possible manner of introducing the new
subject of her interest, love, and was forced to be content with an
indifferent opening.

"We were all quite surprised when Mr. Dunsack called yesterday," she
said. "He isn't in the least a friend of the family. Grandfather went to
sea with his father, but even they didn't speak for years in Salem. The
Dunsacks are a little common."

"I know," Taou Yuen replied. "Mr. Dunsack--a long time in Canton, at the
American agents. China is bad for men like him. Black spirits get in them
and the ten sins."

"He stared at you in the rudest way."

"He never saw a Manchu lady before. In China the dog would not have
passed by the first gate. Here it is nothing to be a Manchu or an
honorable wife; it is all like the tea houses and rice villages. Men walk
up to you with bold eyes. I tell Gerrit and he laughs. I stay in the room
and he brings me shamefully down. This Mr. Dunsack comes and the wise old
man talks to him like a son. He touches your mother's hand. He sees the
young girls like white candles."

"We wouldn't let him really bother us," Sidsall explained; "probably if
he comes again we'll all be out."

Taou Yuen made a comment in Chinese. "A bad thought is a secret knife,"
she continued; "it is more dangerous than the anger of the Emperor, a
sickness that kills with the stink of bodies already dead."

This seemed rather absurd to Sidsall. She considered once more the
introduction of the subject of her new concern; but, in spite of Taou
Yuen's extravagant appearance, there was a quality of being which made
impossible any blunt interrogation. She had a decidedly aloof manner. Her
mother, Sidsall recognized, and the older women they knew, had a trace of
this; but in the Manchu it was carried infinitely further, a most
autocratic disdain. Her feeling for the other shifted rapidly from
attitude to attitude.

She watched, she was certain, these same sensations come over her Aunt
Caroline Saltonstone, Mrs. Clifford and Mrs. Wibird, who called on Gerrit
Ammidon's wife that afternoon. They were sitting with their crinoline
widespread against their chairs, gazing with a concerted battery of
curiosity at Taou Yuen's shimmering figure in the drawing-room screened
against the sun. Mrs. Wibird, Sidsall thought--a woman of fat and faded
prettiness, with wine red splotches beneath her eyes, and a voice that
went on and on in the relating of various petty emotional
disturbances--must have resembled Olive as a girl. It was probable, then,
that Olive would look like her mother when in turn she was middle-aged.
Mrs. Clifford, unseasonably huddled in her perpetual shawl, more than
ever suggested a haggard marble in somberly rich clothes. Aunt Caroline
sat with complacent hands and loud inattentive speech. Taou Yuen smiled
at them placidly.

"Our men," said Mrs. Clifford, "went out to China for years. It never
occurred to them however to marry a Chinese woman; but I dare say they
didn't see the right sort."

"Most of the captains like China," Taou Yuen said. "They are so far away
from their families--" she made a brief philosophical gesture, and Madra
Clifford studied her with a narrowed gaze. "It would be the same," she
continued, "if Chinamen came to America." Mrs. Wibird shuddered. "A
yellow skin," she cried impetuously; "I can't bide the thought."

"I'm sure we'd be tremendously interested," Mrs. Saltonstone hurriedly
put in, "if you'd tell us about your wedding. A Chinese wedding must
be--be very gay, with firecrackers and--"

"My marriage with Captain Ammidon was not beautiful--I was a widow and he
foreign. The Manchu wedding is very nice. First there is the engagement
ceremony. I sit like this," she sank gracefully to the floor,
cross-legged, "on the bed with my eyes shut, and, if I am noble, two
princesses come and put the _ju yi_, it's jade and means all joy, on my
lap. Two little silk bags hang from the buttons of my gown with gold
coins, and two gold rings on my fingers must be marked with _Ta hsi_,
that's great happiness."

"I'm told polygamy is an active practice," Mrs. Wibird remarked with a
rising interest.

"Yes?" Taou Yuen asked.

"One man--a lot of wives."

"The Emperor has a great many and some Manchus take a second and third.
You think that is wrong here. Who knows! The Chinese women are very good,
very modest. The Four Books For Girls teach perfect submission; the five
virtues are benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, sincerity.
Confucius says, 'The root is filial piety.'"

"Very admirable," Mrs. Wibird nodded, agitating the small dyed ostrich
plumes tipped with marabou of her bonnet; but it was clear to Sidsall
that this was not the revelation for which she had hoped. A momentary
silence, the edge of an uneasiness, enveloped the visitors.

"What lovely satins," Mrs. Saltonstone commented.

"Please--I have a box full; you will let me give you some?"

"Indeed yes, and thank you."

Mrs. Wibird, growing resentful, said that a cousin of her aunt's had been
a missionary to China, "and did a very blessed work too."

Taou Yuen smoothly agreed that it was quite possible. "Our poor have a
great many wrong and lustful ideas," she acknowledged; "they tell lies
and beat their wives and gamble. The higher classes too, the mandarins
and princes, use the people for their own security and rob them.
Sometimes the law is not honest, and a man with gold gets free when a
laborer is put in the bamboo cage."

Mrs. Clifford said very vigorously, "Ha!"

The silence returned intensified.

"I remember," the Manchu went on, "this will amuse you. My father-in-law,
who was in the Canton Customs, told me that some boxes of Bibles came out
from America, with other objects, and when they were opened at the
Mission they were the wrong ones and filled with rum."

There was not, however, any marked appreciation of this on the part of
the Salem women. They rose to leave and Taou Yuen sank on her knee. She
gazed without a trace of emotion at the three flooding the door with
their belled skirts. "They are the same everywhere," she told the girl.
The latter moved out into the garden. There she subconsciously picked a
rose and fastened it in her hair; her thoughts turned to Roger Brevard.
In his place her Uncle Gerrit came out through the drawing-room window.
The usual shadow of the house, lengthening with afternoon, was pleasantly
enveloping, and they walked slowly over the grass.

"A flower in your hair," he said, "and by yourself. You have been
thinking about true love." She blushed vividly at this unexpected angle
on her mind and found it impossible to meet his keen blue eyes. "Love
must be a remarkable thing." She raised a swift glance to his face and
discovered that he had not spoken to her at all, but, hat in hand, was
looking away with an expression of abstraction.

"I mean the unreasonable silly divine kind," he specified, now gazing
at her quizzically, as if lost in a mood over which he had no control;
"the sort that is as long as life and stronger. It is entirely
different and ages older than the reasonable logical love, all proper
and suitable and civilized; or the love that is the result of a
determination, the result of a determination," he repeated, frowning
darkly at their feet. Sidsall held her breath, thrilled by the wealth
of what she had heard, fearful of diverting what might be yet revealed.
But he moved away abruptly, in a manner that enforced solitude, and
stood apparently examining the rockery.

Her brain rang with the splendid phrase, "Love as long as life and
stronger." It seemed to clarify and state so much of her lately confused
being. Hodie, artfully drawn into the consideration of earthly affection,
was far less satisfactory than Gerrit Ammidon. She dwelt on the treasure
beyond moth or rust, lost in an ecstasy of contemplation expressed in her
customary explosive amens. At the same time she admitted that lower
unions were blessed of God, and recommended Sidsall to think on "a man
who has seen the light and by no means a sea captain." Sidsall replied
cuttingly, "I think you must forget where you are."

"I forget nothing," Hodie stoutly maintained; "I'll witness before
anyone." She settled the flounces of Sidsall's skirt with a deft hand.

Walking toward the Saltonstones' for tea, with a mulberry silk parasol
casting a shifting glow on her expanse of clear madras, Sidsall
wondered at the sudden change of almost all her interests and
preoccupations. It was very disturbing--she fell into daydreams that
carried her fancy away on a search that was a longing, a soft confusion
of opening her arms to mystery. This varied with a restless melancholy;
the old securities of her life were hidden in a mist of uncertainty in
which her consciousness was troubled by nameless pressures; something
within her held almost desperately back from further adventuring. But
all the time a latent fascination was drawing her on, putting aside the
curtain for her better view.

The Saltonstones' dwelling on Chestnut Street was one of a pair--a large
solid square of brick--with two identical oval white porticoes and rows
of windows keyed in white stone. Within the staircase swept up to a
slender pillared opening, through which Lacy, calmly dressing, waved a
deliberate hand. Mrs. Saltonstone was seated by the tall gilt framed
mirror on a low marble stand between long front windows. "As usual," she
said, in connection with her daughter, "Lacy's as cool as a water monkey;
gets it from James; they wouldn't hurry if--" She searched in vain for an
expression of her family's composure. "Now I am an impetuous woman." She
promptly exhibited this quality in the vigor with which she met the wrong
canister of tea brought by a servant. She didn't intend to serve Padre
Souchong to a lot of people who apparently confused afternoon tea with an
invitation to dinner.

In the small press which followed Sidsall stopped in the dining room with
Lacy and Olive Wibird. Olive was still discussing men. "He sat holding my
hand right on that bench by your hedge, Sidsall, and said that nothing
could keep him from coming back for me, but he died of yellow fever in
Batavia." She left in the company of a beau of fifty anyhow, with a
glistening bald head, a silly smirking bow and flood of compliments. Lacy
moved away and Sidsall found herself facing Roger Brevard.

"That looks remarkably like a garden," he said, waving toward an open
door. The sun had become obscured in a veil of cloud, drooping until it
almost seemed to rest on the bright green foliage; her companion's mood,
too, was shadowed. "I thought you'd be here," he added outside, "and
looked for you at once."

"There was something special you wanted to say?"

"My dear child," he replied, "can't you guess how absolutely refreshing
you are? No, I have nothing special. But you'll soon get used to men
around with no more reason than yourself."

She studied this seriously; and, as its complimentary intent emerged,
a corresponding color stained her cheeks. Her gaze rested on him for
the fleetest moment possible and, to her surprise, she saw that he
was frowning.

"I came here just to see you. No," he corrected his period, "only to see
you." His manner was surprisingly abrupt and disconcerting. "I can quite
realize," he went on, "that I shouldn't say any of this. Yet, on the
other hand, it is the most natural thing in the world. I have been
listening to the conventional babble of teas and cotillions for so long
that you are like a breath of lost youth. Certainly that is appropriate.
I think," he told her, "that you are the youngest thing alive." Then he
laughed, "So young that I have annoyed you."

"I feel a great deal older than I did, well--last month," she said.

"That is a tragedy." She felt that if he were still amused at her she was
furious, but he was even graver than before. "To tell you helps hurry the
charm to an end. That is what might be complained against me. Yet flowers
will open, you know, and it might as well be in an honest sun."

"I don't understand," she admitted, troubled.

"Why, it means, Sidsall, that I am offering you an experienced hand, that
I'm certain I can do you more good than harm--"

"That's silly," she interrupted. "If you mean that we might be friends,
really confidential friends, it would help me awfully. But then it's so
one-sided."

"You'll have to overlook that," he answered; "probably all that I can
give you, experience, isn't worth the smallest of your feelings. Probably
you won't need me for an instant. Certainly the pleasure will be mine."

"You didn't understand," she told him, with dignity; "it's the other way
round. I am not a particle interesting and everyone agrees that I'm too
healthy. But I can't help it if my cheeks are red and mother won't let
me have powder." It was obviously impossible to explain about Hodie and
the lacing.

"I like it," he insisted. "I'll admit that I am unfashionable there. I
think we'll hit on a great deal to share privately." There was a faint
patter among the leaves, and a cold drop of rain fell on Sidsall's arm.
Others struck Roger Brevard but he continued without apparently noticing
them. "You must understand that I am entirely at your service. Sometimes,
although they won't come yet, there are things a--a friend can do better
than one's family. You'll ask me, Sidsall?"

"Yes," she said solemnly. More rain struck her; she could see it now
plainly, falling between them. Roger Brevard's face was dark, the frown
still scarred his forehead. Personally she was happier than she
remembered ever being before and she wondered at his severity of bearing.
"But you must go in at once," he cried, suddenly energetic, his familiar
self; "you are getting wetter every minute."

The clouds dissolved into a late sunlight that streamed in long bars
through the canopies of elms on the streets. From her windows Sidsall saw
a world of flashing greenery and limpid sky. Usually when she was happy
she sang unimportant bits of light song, but her present state was
serious and inarticulate. The indeterminate questions, the disturbing
vague moods, of the past days somehow combined and took on the tangible
shape of Roger Brevard. Her curiosity about love was resolved into a
sudden inner shrinking from its possibilities and meaning.

She was lost in her aloofness from mundane affairs: Taou Yuen in
whispering silk, her grandfather's rotund tones, Laurel and Camilla and
her mother, were distant, immaterial. In the evening she sat on the
front steps, a web of white, dreamily intent on the shimmering sweep of
Washington Square. After a little she was joined by Gerrit Ammidon. He
wore linen trousers and a short blue sea jacket; and the wavering
delicately lavender trail of smoke from his cheroot was like her
floating thoughts.

"Already," he said, "I am full of getting back on my ship."

She smiled at him absently.

"The land doesn't do for a sailor," he continued. "They are always into
trouble on shore. I can't say why it should be so but it is. If there's
not one kind there is another; rum and such varnish for the able seaman,
and--and complications for a master. I suppose that's because there are
so confounded many unexpected currents and slants of wind, as you might
say. On shipboard everything pretty much is charted; a thing will be
followed more or less by a fixed consequence. The waves break so and so
on coral or rocks or sand; there is usually the sun for an observation;
a good man knows his ship, how many points she'll hold on the wind, how
a cargo must be stowed, when to take in the light canvas. You can give
the man at the wheel a course and turn in or stay on deck and beat your
way through hell. It's exact, you know, but on shore--" he made a
hopeless gesture.

"There are no regulations," he observed moodily; "or else nobody follows
them: collisions all the time, sinkings and derelicts drifting round,
awash and dismasted. But they are everywhere. That fellow, Edward
Dunsack--" he stopped, lost in speculation. Then, "He seems harmless
enough," he resumed, "even pitiful; but he sticks in your head. I wish
I'd never brought his damned chest to Salem. A fool would have known
better. I'm worse--a childish fool. A derelict," he said again. "You are
smashing over a swell at twelve knots or more, everything spread, when,
in a hollow, there it is squarely across your bow. No time to shift the
wheel, and a ship's missing, perhaps in a hundred fathom. It might be the
best ship afloat, the best master and stoutest crew, but in a minute
she's only a salty tangle."

He laughed uneasily at the vividness of his fancy. "If it's hard for us
what must it be for Taou Yuen?" he demanded. "Married to me! Here! That's
courage for you." He tramped down the steps, across Pleasant Street, with
his bare head sunk, and vanished into the obscurity of the Square. She
caught a last glimmer of white trousers, a faint rapid gleam where his
lighted cheroot described the arc of a passionate gesture on the night.

The spring, like the full buds of the hedge roses in the Ammidons'
garden, passed swiftly into early summer. The flowers against the house
showed gay perennial colors, the stocks and larkspur and snapdragons
succeeded the retreating flood of the lilacs. The days were still yellow
pools of heat, or else cooled by the faintly salt sea wind drawing down
the elms and chestnuts, followed by purple-green nights of moonlight.
They seemed to Sidsall to hold everything in a pause. She saw less and
less of Taou Yuen who now scarcely came out of her room except for an
occasional ride in the barouche with Mrs. Ammidon or a contemplative hour
in the garden, usually at dusk. Apparently content with the elaborate
rearrangement of her headdress, she sat for long periods, gazing out over
Washington Square, idle except for the regular tap of her pipe emptying
the ashes of the minute bowl.

Yet Sidsall's first interest in her had almost completely shifted to
Gerrit Ammidon. He evidently preferred her company to that of the other
members of his family, and they often took short largely silent walks,
usually down to the Salem Marine Railway where the _Nautilus_ was
undergoing repairs. His protracted silences were broken by the sudden
vehement protests against the generally muddled aspect of affairs or
longer monologues of inner questioning and search. He almost never
referred to her or made her part of a conversation; she was free to dwell
on her own emotions while he, with a corrugated brow, went on in his
tortuous and solitary course.

On an afternoon when they had walked to the foot of Briggs Street, and
were gazing out over the tranquil water of Collins Cove, Gerrit Ammidon
asked abruptly:

"Have you seen Nettie Vollar lately?"

Sidsall was unable to remember exactly when that had been. She rather
thought she had caught a glimpse of her in Lawrence Place with books
under her arm which she was probably taking from the Athenaeum for her
grandfather. Anyone, she told herself privately, could see that Nettie
Vollar wouldn't care for books.

Something had occurred, or threatened to occur, between her uncle and
Nettie; what it was she had never been told; but she realized that only
one thing could really happen between a man and a girl--they must have
been in love. In the interest of this she recalled Nettie Vollar's
appearance, but was unable to discover any marked attractions. The elder
had a good figure, rather full for her age, and totally different from
her own square solidity. Her hair was coarse and carelessly arranged, her
clothes noticeable for a love of brightness rather than care in the
spending of a small sum.

Gerrit Ammidon had the strangest tastes!

He was standing immobile, looking across the Cove as if he were on a
quarter-deck searching for a hidden land. His legs were slightly spread,
firmly planted in a manner to defeat any sudden lurching. She grew a
little impatient at him staring like a block at nothing at all; she felt
older than he, superior in the knowledge of life; he seemed hardly more
than an absurd boy. Sidsall had a desire to shake him. He was so--so
impracticable. "Don't you think we'd better be going?" she asked finally.
Gerrit Ammidon turned and followed her obediently.

There were lights in the rope walk on Briggs Street; through a window she
could see a man pacing down the long narrow interior laying a strand of
hemp from the burden on his shoulders. It made her shudder to think of
the monotonous passage forward and back, an eternity of slow-twisting
rope. Yet life was something like that--she took the happenings of each
day and wove them into a strand dark and bright: a strand, she realized,
that grew stronger as it lengthened.... That would be true of
everyone--of her companion and grandfather and Hodie.

They reached the house as the family were gathering in the dining room,
when Sidsall found Roger Brevard unexpectedly staying for supper. She met
his direct greeting and smile with a warm stir of pleasure and sat in a
happy silence listening to the voices about the table. Her uncle had
brought his wife down and the candles glittering among the lusters on the
walls spread their light over the Manchu's strange vivid figure.
Everything about life was so confusing, Sidsall thought. The night flowed
in at the open windows drenched with magic: here were candles but outside
were stars. The port in its engraved glass decanter seemed to burn with a
ruby flame. "Bah!" her grandfather was exclaiming. "I'll put a thousand
dollars on Gerrit and the _Nautilus_ against any clipper built; but mind,
in all weathers."

"Voyage by voyage," William Ammidon insisted, "he would be left in the
harbor. The California gold deposits--."

Later a crowd, slowly collecting, recalled the fact that the Salem Band
was to play that night in the Square. "Oh, mother, look," Laurel cried;
"they've got lamps in their hats." Small wavering flames were being
lighted on the musicians' hats; there were melancholy disconnected hoots
from bassoons and the silver clear scale of a bugle. "Can't I get nearer,
mother?" Laurel implored as usual. "Can't I go and see the little lamps
on their heads?"

"Sidsall and I will look after her," Roger Brevard put in, and almost
immediately the three were entering Washington Square. The throng was
thickest directly behind the band, radiating in thinning numbers to the
wooden boundary fence. Laurel led them to an advantageous position, where
they could watch the curious effects of the ring of lights above intent
faces drawn hollow-cheeked by the vigorous blowing of instruments. The
leader, in the center of the flickering smoky illumination, now beat with
his arms in one direction, now in another.

A second selection followed, and a third, during which, in surprising
pauses, the band shouted a concerted "Hurrah!" Sidsall was infinitely
contented. How splendidly erect and calm and distinguished Roger Brevard
was! She hated younger men, they were only boys, who kept up a senseless
talk about college humor. He saw instantly that the people were crushing
her skirts, and firmly conducted them out of the crowd. It was nicer here
beyond the wavering dark mass: a waltz flowed about her so tender and
gracious that her eyes filled with tears.

But Laurel had to be taken home; and, clasping Mr. Brevard's hand, the
little girl talked volubly as they moved away. "And so," she said, "I
told her to keep her topsails full."

"What?" he demanded.

"She was falling off, you know--losing way. Hell's hatches--"

"Laurel," Sidsall corrected her sharply. "No, you mustn't laugh at her."

Only Gerrit Ammidon was on the steps, the other men were in the library;
her mother had gone up with Janet. Laurel left them, and, without speech,
they walked through the house to the lawn. The stars had apparently
retreated to new infinities of distance and night, there was a throb of
music so faint that it might be only an echoing memory; Roger Brevard's
face was pale and strained. He asked:

"Have you forgotten that we are friends?"

"No," she returned seriously, lifting her look to his. He was very close
to her and her heart beat unsteadily. She had a choking premonition of
what was about to occur, but she stood without the slightest attempt to
prevent his kiss. It affected him even more than herself, for he stepped
back sharply with his hands clenched. Roger was silent for so long that
she said, timidly:

"I didn't mind, so much."

"Thank you," he replied almost harshly. "There's no need for you to
regret it. No need, no need. But if it were only a year more--."

"We all grow older," she told him wisely.

"So we do, Sidsall, and we change. But you should stay exactly as you are
now, white and young and fragrant. Never the fruit but always the
blossom, and always a night in early summer. The afterwards is an
indifferent performance."

"I don't understand," her voice was shadowed.

"Sidsall for a moment. Don't move--opening petals, shy pure
heart...loveliness...."

"I don't understand," she repeated, but the trouble had vanished. She
even smiled at him: she was filled with an absolute security in her
vision of Roger Brevard. Why, she had no need to question; it was an
instinct beyond search and above knowledge; perhaps, she thought as they
turned toward the house, its name was love.




VII

The days, to Nettie Vollar, seemed to be both unutterably dull and
colored by a possibility of excitement like an undercurrent of hardly
perceptible fever. Her mother, it was true, took on herself most of the
duties of Barzil Dunsack's house; but there were still a large number of
little things that returned unvaried with every morning, noon and night
for the girl's attention. The cause of any impending excitement--except
the mere presence of Gerrit Ammidon in Salem, now surely of no moment to
her--she was unable to place. The feeling that pervaded her most was the
heavy conviction that her life was a complete waste, she had the
sensation of being condemned to stay in surroundings, in a service, that
never for a moment represented her desire or true capabilities. Her
family, as she had grown into maturity, seemed strange, her place there
an unhappy accident.

At her brightest periods she pictured being suddenly, arbitrarily,
removed into happier appropriate regions. For a time that vision had
assumed the tangible shape of Gerrit Ammidon; then this comfortable
figure had abruptly left her to an infinitely more seldom return of her
faint indefinite hope.

Through the inordinate number of hours when she was potentially alone she
had developed a strain of almost painful thought out of keeping with the
whole of her naturally unreflective being. In moments such as the
present--she was sitting in her room overlooking Hardy Street on its
landward reach--she followed the slow turnings of her mind in the manner
of a child spelling out a sentence. Two things seemed to her of the first
importance--the existence into which she had been forced by the
circumstance of her birth, and her unknown father himself: unknown, that
is, except for vague promptings and desires which, for need of a better
reason, she traced to his personality. That he was superior, in that he
had had a distinct measure of gentle blood, she was assured by her mother
on one of the rare occasions when the subject was touched between them.
To that she credited the greater part of her obscure dissatisfaction with
conditions which she described as mean.

The latter evidently didn't disturb her mother or grandfather; she
realized that the long-drawn silent severity of the old man had crushed
what spirit her mother may have had. It was clear that the elder woman
had been very pretty, with wide fluttering eyes which made you think of
gray moths, and delicately colored cheeks; but all that had been crushed,
too. She was meek in a way that filled her daughter with determined
resentment and fear. The resentment sprang from the silent assertion that
she wouldn't be worn down like that; the fear followed the realization of
the rigid power of the old man and the weight of all that held her
powerless to escape. Naturally she was rather cheerful than somber, an
involuntary gayety rose from her in the drabbest moments; she even defied
Barzil Dunsack with ribbons and flowers on her bonnet.

The prospect from her window offered no relief from the interior; it was
true that in the other direction she could catch glimpses of the harbor,
by leaning out she could get the comparatively full sweep at the bottom
of the street; but there were usually things ugly and restraining between
her and the freedom of the horizon. Her favorite place had been at the
edge of the grass above the tide; but, since his return, Edward Dunsack
had hit upon it too, and his proximity made her increasingly uneasy. For
one thing he talked to himself out loud, principally in Chinese, and the
sliding unintelligible tongue, accompanied by the sight of his gaunt
yellow face, his inattentive fixed eyes, gave her an icy shiver. It was
almost worse when he conversed with her in a palpable effort at an effect
of sympathy.

She rose and wandered finally to the embankment of the garden. The water
shimmered under the full flood of afternoon; she was gazing at the
distance in an aimless manner that had lately fastened on her when she
heard a stirring of the grass behind her and Edward Dunsack approached.
He was livid in the pitiless light, and seemed terribly fragile, a thing
that a mere clap of thunder might crumble to nothing; she felt that she
could sweep him away with a broom; yet at the same time there were
startling gleams of inner violence, a bitter energy, an effect of
deepness, that appalled her.

"If you should ask me," he declared, "if my opinion is of any value, I'd
say that Ammidon owed you considerable. He led you to expect something
better than his running away without a word; I'd have an explanation out
of him. Of course, if he had come back married--this affair with a
Chinese woman isn't that--it would be all over. But, somehow, with things
as they are, I can't believe that it is."

"Do you expect me to go to their house, like you did?" she replied
resentfully.

He turned such a malicious face on her that instinctively she moved back.
For a moment he was silent, his meager leaden lips drawn tight over dark
teeth in a dry grin, his fingers like curved wires; then, relaxing, he
cursed the entire house of Ammidon. "The truth is," he ended, "that you
were a little fool; you had everything, everything, in your hand and
threw it away." His gaze strayed from her to the surface of the water, a
short distance from the land. "Threw it away," he repeated; "it can't be
got in this country either."

He was, she thought, crazy. However, all that he said about Gerrit
lingered in her mind; it fanned to new life the embers of her rebellion.
If a chance should come she would let Gerrit Ammidon know something of
the wrong he had done her. As her uncle had pointed out, the Chinese
woman was different from an American, a white woman. Their entire
position, Gerrit's and her own, was peculiar, outside ordinary judgments.

She saw him occasionally from a distance, as she must continue to do
while he was in Salem, since no opportunity had been made for them to
exchange words. That must come from Gerrit.

Her mother called her, and she went in, finding the elder in the kitchen.
"I can't get enough heat to bake," she worried; "you can bear your hand
right in the oven. Your grandfather won't have his sponge biscuit for
supper." Nettie declared, "I certainly wouldn't let it bother me. Just
tell him and let him say what he likes." Her mother turned palpably
startled. "But--", she began weakly.

"I know exactly what you're going to say," Nettie cut in, "he has it
every night and he'll expect it. How much, I'd like to ask, have you
been expecting all your life and getting nothing? And now I am the
same. I don't believe we're as wicked as grandfather lets on, and I'm
certain he's not so good as he thinks. I don't admit we are going to
hell, either; if I did I can tell you I'd be different. I'd have a good
time like some other girls I see. I guess it would be good, anyhow,
with silk flounces four yards around. I'm what I am because I don't
listen to him; I don't pay any attention to the pious old women who
make long faces at us."

"You mustn't talk like that, Nettie," her mother protested anxiously. "It
has a right hard sound. Your grandfather is a very upright religious man.
It's proper for those who sin to suffer in this world that they may be
humble for the next."

"I don't want to be humble," Nettie told her. "The Ammidons aren't
humble. Mrs. Saltonstone isn't." A pain deepened visibly on the elder's
pale countenance. "You mustn't think it doesn't hurt me, Nettie, to--to
see you away from all the pleasure. It tears at my heart dreadful. That
is part of the punishment." The girl made a vivid gesture, "But you sit
back and take it!" she cried. "You talk of it as punishment. I won't! I
won't! I'm going to do something different."

"What?" her mother demanded, terrified.

"I don't know," Nettie admitted. "But if I had it to do over I'd kiss
Gerrit Ammidon as soon as he looked for it."

"Nettie, do you--do you think he wanted to marry you?"

"Yes," she answered shortly. "He's like that. Whatever you might say
against him he's honest."

Her mother began to cry, large slow tears that rolled out of her eyes
without a sound. She sat with lax hopeless hands in her lap of cheap worn
dress stuff. Nettie Vollar felt no impulse toward crying; she was bright
with anger--anger at what Barzil Dunsack had done with her mother, at the
harm he had worked in her. "You are a saint compared to Uncle Edward,"
she asserted. "I don't know what's wrong with him, but there is
something."

"I've noticed it too: times his eyes are glazed like, and then his
staring at you like a cat. It's a fact he doesn't eat right, and he
forgets what's said as soon as a body speaks. Might he have some Chinese
disease, do you think?"

"It's not like a real sickness...."

The evening in the dreary sitting room with only the reddish illumination
of one lamp was almost unendurable. Her grandfather sat with broad wasted
hands gripping his shrunken knees, his eyes gazing stonily out above a
nose netted with fine blue veins and harsh mouth almost concealed by the
curtain of beard. Edward rose uneasily and returned, casting a swelling
and diminishing shadow--obscurely unnatural like himself--over the faded
and weather-stained wall paper. Her mother was bowed, speechless. Nettie
wanted to scream, to horrify them all with some outrageous remark. She
would have liked to knock the lamp from the table, send it crashing over
the floor, and see the flames spread out, consume the house, consume...
she stopped, horrified at her thoughts.

She didn't want things like that in her mind, she continued, but the echo
of dancing, of music, of the Salem Band marching up Essex Street with Mr.
Morse playing his celebrated silvery fanfare on the bugle. She wanted to
laugh, to talk, yes--to love. Why, she was young, barely twenty-one; and
here she was in a house like the old cemetery on Charter Street. Before
they went to bed her grandfather would read out from the Bible, but
always the Old Testament. Finally he rose and secured the volume, bound
in dusty calf, its pages brown along the edges. His voice rang in a slow
emphasized fervor:

"'Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken
the Lord, thy God, when he led thee by the way?

"'And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters
of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the
waters of the river?

"'Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall
reprove thee; know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter,
that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in
thee, saith the Lord God of hosts.

"'For of old I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bonds; and thou
saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every
green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.

"'Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art
thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?

"'For though thou wash thee with nitre--'"

Nettie was impressed, intimidated, in spite of the contrary resolution in
the kitchen: the words seemed to burn into her mother, herself, like
boiling fat from a pan; and a great relief flooded her when she could
escape again to the temporary relief of her room. It was hot, the windows
were up, and she made no light that might attract mosquitoes or force her
to draw the close shades. She stood undressed luxuriating in the sense of
freedom of body. She was richly white in the gloom: her full young beauty
gave her a feeling of contentment and strength, and, equally, a great
loneliness. It wasn't corrupt, a "degenerate plant," she thought with a
passionate conviction like a cry.

She determined to say no prayer to such a ruthless Being; yet, soon
after, in her coarse nightgown, she found herself kneeling by the bed
with hard-clasped hands. It was a prayer for which Barzil Dunsack would
have had nothing but condemnation: she implored the dark, the mystery of
Augustness, for carnal and light things, yes--for waltzes and quadrilles
and songs and pleasure, young pleasure, all the aching desires of her
health and spirit and nature and years; but most for love. She said the
last blindly, in an instinct without definition, with the feeling that it
was the key, the door, to everything else; and in her mind rose the image
of Gerrit Ammidon. She saw his firm direct countenance, the frosty blue
eyes and human warmth. He needn't have come at all, she added, if it had
been only to double the dreariness of her existence.

She wondered a little, her emotion subsiding, at the interest her uncle
showed in her affairs. It wasn't like what else she had gathered of him;
and she searched, but without success, for any hidden reason he might
have. He actively blackened the name of Ammidon while he was lost in too
great an indifference to be moved by any but extraordinary pressures.
Everything left his mind, as her mother had said, almost immediately.
Suddenly weary, she gave up all effort at understanding.

A wind moved in from the sea, fluttering the light curtains, and brought
her a sense of coolness and release. It came from the immense free sweep
of ocean to which her sinking consciousness turned in peaceful
recognition and surrender.

Altogether, in the days that followed, she realized a greater degree of
mental freedom than before her revolt. She had removed herself, it
appeared, a little outside the family, almost as if she were studying
them calmly through a window: a large part of the terror her grandfather
had possessed for her had disappeared, leaving for her recognition a
very old and worn man; she was sorry for her mother with a deep
affection mixed with impatience. At first she had tried to put something
of her own revived spirit in the older woman but it was like pouring
water into a cracked glass: her mother was too utterly broken to hold
any resolution whatever.

Nettie's feeling for Edward Dunsack became an instinctive deep distrust.
It was almost impossible for her to remain when--as he so often did
now--he approached her to talk about the injustice of her mode of life
and the debt Gerrit Ammidon owed her. He would stand with his fingers
twitching, talking in a rapid sharp voice, blinking continuously against
any light brighter than that of a shaded room or dusk. He seldom left the
office or went out through the day; his place at the dinner table was far
more often empty than not. But after their early supper, in the long late
June twilights, he had an inexhaustible desire for her to stroll with
him. She occasionally agreed for the reason that they invariably passed
in the vicinity of Washington Square and Pleasant Street, and saw the
impressive block of the Ammidon mansion. However, they never met any of
its inmates. Once they had walked directly by the entrance; some girls,
perhaps a woman, certainly two men, were grouped in the doorway: it was
growing dark and Nettie couldn't be certain.

Edward Dunsack clearly hesitated before the bricks leading in between the
high white fence posts topped with carved twisting flames; and, in a
sudden agony at the possibility of his stopping, Nettie hurried on, her
cheeks flaming and her heart, she thought, thumping in her throat.

Her uncle followed her. There was a trail of intimate merriment from the
portico, a man's voice mingling gayly with those of the girls. "That was
the Brevard who's in the Mongolian Marine Insurance Company," Edward
Dunsack informed her. "I hear he's a great hand for leading cotillions
and balls--the balls you ought to take part in." On and on he went with
the familiar recital of her wrongs. It carried them all the way over
Pleasant and Essex and Derby Streets home. The next day, however, he was
forced to go about the town, and returned for dinner in a state of
excitement evident to anyone.

He ate without attention whatever was before him, and extravagantly
pleasant, related how he had conversed with Mrs. Gerrit Ammidon in the
family carriage in front of the countinghouse of Ammidon, Ammidon and
Saltonstone on Liberty Street. Nettie was surprised that his concern was
caused by such a commonplace event. "The women of China--." Words failing
him, he waved a thin dry hand. His father frowned heavily. Then,
abruptly, as if he had been snatched out of his chair by an invisible
powerful clutch, he started up and disappeared.

The afternoon passed the full and Nettie, bound in preparation for supper
for Redmond's, the Virginia Oysterman's at Derby Wharf, stood waiting for
some money. "I can't think where I left my reticule," her mother called,
"unless it's in Edward's room where I cleaned this morning. Just run up
and see.... He'll be at the office."

Above, Nettie found the door closed, but it opened readily as she turned
the knob: she went in without hesitation. The interior she naturally
thought was empty; and then, with an unreasoning cold fear, she saw that
Edward Dunsack was lying on the bed. Some of his clothes were tumbled on
the floor, and he wore his black Chinese gown. The room was permeated
with a heavy smooth odor; on a stand at her uncle's hand was a curious
collection of strange objects--a little brass lamp with a flickering
bluish flame, a black and silver object like a swollen unnatural pipe,
stained bodkins, a lump of what she took to be tar--

Her attention was caught by Edward Dunsack's face: it had fallen back
with his pinched chin pointing toward the ceiling, it was the color of
yellow clay, and through his half-opened eyelids was an empty glimmer of
gray-white. She shrank away involuntarily, and the word "Dead" formed
just audibly on her trembling lips. In an instant she was in the hall,
calling in a panic-stricken voice, her icy hands at her throat; and her
grandfather mounted the stair with surprising agility, followed by his
daughter Kate.

"Uncle Edward," Nettie articulated, waving toward the room from which she
had fled. The two women followed the rigid advance of Barzil Dunsack. As
he saw the figure of his son there was a stabbing gasp of his breath. He
halted for a moment, and it seemed to Nettie Vollar that suddenly his
determined carriage crumbled, his shoulders sagged; then he went forward.
The bed had high slender posts that at one time supported a canopy, but
now they were bare, and an old hand held to one as he bent over.

"Is he dead?" the older woman asked.

Barzil Dunsack made no immediate reply; his gaze turned from his son to
the stand, the fluttering lamp and its accessories. His head moved slowly
in the act of sniffing the pungent haze swimming in the interior. Nettie
could see his face, and she was appalled by an, expression grimmer than
any she remembered; it was both harsh, implacable, and stricken, as empty
of blood as the countenance on the bed. The hand on the post tightened
until it, too, was linen white. She drew close to her mother's side,
putting a supporting arm about the soft shaking shoulders.

"No," said Barzil Dunsack, in a booming voice, "not dead, and yet dead
forever. Go downstairs," he commanded. They backed confused to the door.
"If Edward is sick--" Kate Vollar began. The old man's face blazed with
intolerable pain and anger.

"Woman," he demanded, "can you cure what God has smitten?" His eyes
alone, hard and bright in the seamed and hairy face, drove them out into
the hall. Below in the sitting room Nettie exclaimed, "He might have told
us something!"

"Whatever it is," her mother returned, "it's dreadful bad. I've felt that
all along about Edward; he's never been himself this last time."
Mechanically she found her reticule beside the painted ostrich egg from
Africa. "You'll have to get the oysters anyhow," she told her daughter,
maintaining the inevitable pressure of small necessities that defied all
tragedy and death.

Nettie escaped with an enormous relief into the sunny normal tranquility
of the afternoon. The house had become too horrible to bear; and even on
the thronged length of Derby Wharf, like a street robbed of its supports
and thrust out into the harbor, she was followed by the vision of Edward
Dunsack's peaked clayey face.

She got the oysters, and in an overwhelming reluctance to return walked
out to the end of the wharf, where a ship was discharging her
cargo--heavy plaited mats of cassia with a delicate scent, red and blue
slabs of marble, baskets of granular cakes of gray camphor, rough brown
logs of teak, smooth dull yellow rolls of gamboge, bags with sharp
conflicting odors, baled silks and half chests of tea wrapped in bamboos
and matting painted with the ship's name, _Rose and Rosalie_.

There Nettie found herself beside a little girl clasping the hand of a
bulky old gentleman in pongee and a palm leaf hat and following every
operation with a grave critical regard. "I guess," she said to her
companion, "it's only the cheap sort of tea, a late picking, or it would
be in canisters." She was, Nettie realized, the youngest Ammidon child
with her grand-father. The latter looked round and recognized Nettie
Vollar. "How's Barzil Dunsack?" he asked immediately.

She was at a loss for an answer, since she could not describe the subject
of the inquiry as all right nor explain their unhappy condition. "Intend
to stop in," Jeremy Ammidon continued; "last time I was there I went up
like a rocket." Laurel--that was the child's name, she remembered--gazed
at her intently. "I was saying to grandfather," she repeated precisely,
"that this wasn't really much of a cargo. Nothing like the one Uncle
Gerrit brought back in the Nautilus. We were having an argument about
Salem too. But, of course, all the big cargoes are going into Boston,"
she sturdily confronted the flushed old man.

"You're William all over again," he asserted, almost annoyed. Both their
expressions grew stubborn in a manner that, in view of their great
difference in age and experience, Nettie thought quite absurd. What a
beautiful dress the child had on--Porto Rico drawn work, with pale yellow
ribbons to her bonnet. "I wish you'd stay here a minute with Nettie
Vollar," Jeremy told her, "while I see the wharfinger." He went unhurried
along the wharf, and Laurel Ammidon drew closer to her.

"She's not much of a ship either," Laurel said, indicating the _Rose and
Rosalie_. "She's built like--like grandfather. They're different now. I
went to New York to see the _Sea Witch_ launched, and she's the tallest
vessel afloat, with three standing skysail yards and, ringtail and water
sails. She's black and has a gilded dragon for a figurehead; and,
although she went out in a gale, got to Rio in twenty-five days. I talked
to Captain Waterman, too; he commanded the _Natchez_, you know."

How the child ran on! "You've studied a lot on, ships," Nettie commented.
"I know the main truck from a jewel block," Laurel replied complacently.
"But Camilla's a frightful lubber. I should think she'd make Uncle Gerrit
sick. She does me." Nettie Vollar was seized by the temptation to
question Laurel about Gerrit Ammidon, about his wife--anything that
touched or concerned him. A wave of emotion swept over her, a loneliness
and a desire the cause of which she would not face. She wanted to take
Laurel's hand in hers, and with the old ponderous comfortable gentleman
go up to the serenity of their gardens and wide happy house. She wanted
Gerrit Ammidon to smile at her with his eyes blue like a fair sea... His
father was returning.

Laurel again grasped the large hand and they turned to leave. Jeremy
Ammidon nodded to Nettie. Nothing remained for her but the place on Hardy
Street; then she saw that the others had stopped and were signaling for
her. "Captain Dunsack... old friend," the elder said abruptly. "Stubborn
as the devil. No worse than me, though, no worse than me. Confounded
proud, too. You let me know if there is anything, that is, if you need--"
he paused, breathing stormily, glaring at her in an assumed angry
impatience.

"Thank you," she answered, "but there's nothing."

What most shocked her on the return home was the manner in which their
life callously continued when she felt it should have been shattered by
their suffering in Edward Dunsack's room; yet not so much theirs as her
grandfather's. He took his place at the head of the table, the grace went
up as loudly as ever above their heads; but in spite of that she saw that
the old man suddenly looked infinitely spent. His knife slipped
insecurely and scraped against the plate in fumbling and palsied hands.
All at once she had a feeling of gazing straight into his heart, and
finding--like a burning ruby hidden in earth--such an agony beneath his
schooled exterior that she choked thinking about it.

Nettie wondered what he would do if she put an affectionate arm about his
neck and told him of their sympathy. She knew now that her Uncle Edward
had been smoking opium, and that it was a worse vice, more hopeless and
destructive, than drink. But she was certain that he'd repel her; he
looked on them all, Edward Dunsack, her mother and herself, as sinful,
"degenerate plants." Even now, she realized, there was no weakening of
his spiritual fibers such as had plainly overtaken his physical being. He
had a blasting contempt for the unrighteous flesh.

When they had risen from the table, Edward Dunsack appeared and sinking
weakly into a chair demanded a cup of tea. He knew nothing of their
discovery, of the fact that they had stood above his revolting
insensibility. After the tea he seemed to revive; he lighted a cheroot
and said something about going out. It wasn't possible, however; his
knees sagged walking the length of the floor; in the sitting room he fell
into a leaden apathy. Nettie Vollar's gaze rested on the volume of the
life of the missionary who had died at such an early age on the Ile de
France. The lamplight spread over the depressing mustard yellow paint of
the woodwork with its obviously false graining and deepened the blackness
of the fireplace. Throughout the reading of the Scripture Edward Dunsack
never shifted his slumped position; his face, with smudged closed eyes,
seemed fixed in a skeptical smile. The hollows of his temples were green.
The reading finished, old Barzil said:

"I wish to speak to Edward alone."

The latter straightened up. "Eh!" he exclaimed. "What?" He resettled his
stock and crossed a knee with a show of ease. Nettie followed her mother
from the room. Her last impression was that of a startling resemblance
between the young man and old--her uncle's face was as ruined as the
other's--between father and son. "I wish he'd go away," her mother
surprisingly asserted; "I won't sleep for thinking of him lying there
like a corpse."

"He'll not," Nettie replied, musing; "something is holding him we still
don't know of."

She had lately begun to realize a great many things of which only a month
before she had not been aware--that sudden illuminating grasp of old
Barzil's inner pain, of her mother's wasted spirit, and the sense that
some unguessed potent motive was at the back of her Uncle Edward's
apparently erratic strolling and reiterations. Nettie stopped to wonder a
little at the change in herself: she was more alive, more included. There
were no reasons that she could see why this should be so; never had the
present, the entire future, been darker. With her deeper consciousness,
too, came an increased shrinking from life, a greater capacity for
injury; and there could be no doubt that it was an older Nettie Vollar
who, in her mirror, returned the questioning in the resentful black eyes.

No further mention was made of the opium, no hint escaped from the two
men of what Barzil Dunsack had said to his son after the evening
reading of the Bible. An evidence of the miserable episode was visible
for a while in the difficulty of any attempted general conversation;
then that died away and everything was seemingly as it had been before.
But the rising gayety and widespread public preparations at the
approach of the Fourth of July made her existence drabber than ever.
There was, too, unusual planning, for later in the month President Polk
was to be in Salem.

The various military organizations drilled incessantly: the Salem Light
Infantry, the Mechanic Light Infantry, the Salem Cadets and Independents
and a squad of the Salem Artillery might be seen at any hour of the
morning or early evening smartly marching and countermarching, led by
Flag's or the Salem Band. Strange constructions of light wood climbed in
Washington Square--the set pieces of the celebrated pyrotechnist secured
at a "staggering expense." Preliminary strings of firecrackers were
exploded by impatient boys and the dawn of the holiday was greeted with a
sustained uproar of powder.

All this was communicated to Nettie in the form of a determination to
forget the dreariness of home and for once anyhow be a part of the
careless holiday town. Edward Dunsack opened the day by deprecating what
fireworks Salem could show and recalling the extravagant art of China in
that particular. No one, he said, of the least moment would be abroad in
the rabble; and he intended to spend the day over the invoice of a
schooner returned from Curacao. She was glad of this, for it left her
free to get an uninterrupted pleasure from the morning parade, the floats
and fantasies, the afternoon drilling in Washington Square, and see the
last colored disk of the fireworks. Maybe, she told herself, tying the
becoming ribbon of her bonnet beneath a round chin with a lurking dimple,
maybe she wouldn't come back home once during the entire day! She
ignored, in the rush of her spirits, even her mother's lonely labors: for
once they'd have to do without her. Nettie took a scarlet merino shawl
for the cooler evening, shook forward the little black curls about her
face, and hurried away from Hardy Street.

She was swept along in the crowd on Essex Street until, before the office
of the Salem _Register_, she found a place that commanded the parade.
There Nettie lost all memory of the dreariness that pressed upon her; she
became one of the throng, applauding the members of the East India Marine
Society carrying the palanquin from the Museum in native dress, or stood
with sentimental tears blurring her vision. The parade ended, and
currents of people swept toward dinner; but she stopped at a baker's and
got a paper of seed cakes, made in the shape of oak leaves and sat
contentedly eating them in the Common.

The thought of Gerritt Ammidon, with all the other deeper aspects of her
life, was thrust into the back of her consciousness; she was existing as
she breathed--without will; the instinctive lighter qualities had her in
full possession. She felt that her cheeks were glowing and hummed the
refrains of the music she had heard. One by one the military companies
marched into the Square. She was fascinated by the tall leather helmets
and silver straps under severe young lips. The Newburyport men were in a
new scarlet uniform, that was the Boston Brass Band--it was painted on
the bass drum--with the Independents; there were the Beverly Taylor
Guards. The massed onlookers filled the broad plain.

The drilling and countermarching proceeded and the afternoon waned. At
the disposal of the spectacle, when for an hour or two Washington Square
was comparatively deserted, when the sun sank lower and lower over the
roofs of Brown Street and the gold haze thickened, turning to blue,
Nettie became quieter but no less happy. The time sped; never was she
conscious of being lonely, by herself in a multitude composed of grouped
families and friends. It was all such a beautiful relief to the other
constant dwelling on somber and hopeless facts! Already people were
streaming in under the wooden arched gates for the evening display;
already she could see a star in the clear-shining green east.

The fireworks, the papers said, were to be in two parts, ending with a
bombardment of Vera Cruz, five hundred feet long, and a series of
triumphant arches with full-length portraits in colored lights of
celebrated Americans. There was a sudden salute of artillery, and a
flight of rockets soared upward in long flaming curves, dissolving in
showers of liquid emerald and ruby and silver against the night. Bengola
lights casting a blue glare over the standing mob and farther house
fronts were followed by a great Peruvian Cross, a silvery fountain of
water and Grand Representation of Bunker Hill Monument.

With this the first came all too soon to an end, and Nettie was folding
the shawl about her shoulders when almost the entire Ammidon family were
upon her.... In an instinctive confusion she saw William Ammidon and his
wife with their daughters, the old man, Jeremy, and Gerrit.

They stopped before her in an assured, not unkindly inquisitiveness, the
girls fresh and bright-faced, with crisp lovely clothes; their mother, in
a smart mantle and little bonnet with knots of French flowers, greeted
her with a direct question tempered by a smile. William Ammidon, smoking,
was unconcerned; while Gerrit stayed obscured outside the group. "Whom
are you with, Nettie?" Rhoda Ammidon asked; and when she admitted that
she was alone the elder, with visible disapproval, asserted:

"That won't do at all in this rough assembly. I must see that you are
taken care of." She hesitated, with a slight frown on her handsome brow.
"But you will want to see the rest of the fireworks. Yes, what you must
do is to come over to our steps, the view from there is fairly good, and
then some one can walk home with you."

They moved resolutely forward, giving Nettie Vollar no opportunity for
protest, the expression of what she might prefer; and, with so many
determined minds, she dropped silently into their progress. She was
beside Rhoda Ammidon, the girls trooped on before, and the men--Gerrit
Ammidon--followed. Her peace of mind had been broken into a hundred
half-formed doubts and acute questions. She wished that she had declined
to go with them: the invitation, no, command, had been a criticism,
really. Now, after so long, it wasn't necessary for them to become
suddenly responsible for her.

The happiness of the day sank a little, thoughts of her mother and
grandfather and Uncle Edward returned. But, at the same time, she
realized that she was near Gerrit once more. This made a confusion of her
emotions that hid what she most felt about him. It wasn't a proximity
that meant anything, however; it had been utterly different when he came
to see her before his marriage. Yet, just the fact of his being close
behind her, and that she would be on the steps at the Ammidons' with him,
undoubtedly had a power to stir her heart.

It brought, like her carefree excursion, a certain momentary glow, a
warmth, without relation to what had gone before or might follow; there
was the same quality of momentary rest, refreshment, complete and
isolated as a jewel in a ring. She didn't analyze it further; but drifted
with the vigorous chattering tide of the Ammidons.

They arrived at the impressive entrance open on a high dim interior.
Jeremy and William Ammidon went in, Rhoda lingered while a chair was
brought for her, and Sidsall and Camilla, Laurel and Janet ranged
themselves facing the Square. Gerrit hung silent in the doorway.

"Perhaps Taou Yuen will come down," Rhoda Ammidon suggested, and Nettie's
throat was pinched at the possibility of seeing Gerrit's Chinese wife.
But he answered shortly in the negative. Taou Yuen preferred to stay in
her room; the view from her window was better than this. The latter was
easily possible, for here the set pieces were almost unintelligible: an
impressive beehive could be seen surrounded by swarming golden bees, a
pyramid of Roman candles discharged their rushes of colored balls and
streamers; but the bombardment of Vera Cruz was a cause of bitter
complaint to the children.

The fireworks had ceased to have the slightest significance for Nettie;
she was luxuriating in the suavity of the Ammidon steps and company. It
seemed to her that an actual air of ease rolled out over her from within.
Seen from her place of vantage the great throng in the Square was without
feature, the passersby on Pleasant Street--as Edward Dunsack and herself
had been--were unimportant. The massive portico and dignified fence, the
sense of spaciousness and gardens and lofty formal ceilings, the feeling
of fine silks and round clear direct voices, of servants for everything,
everyone, transcended in force all her speculations. She was
familiar--who wasn't in Salem?--with the meaning of the house's name,
Java Head. It was more, quite heaven.

Thoughts of Gerrit winged in and out of her mind like wayward birds. She
turned with studied caution and glanced swiftly but intently at as much
of his countenance as she could see. Her memory vividly supplied the
rest. There wasn't another like it--one so clear and compelling to
read--in the world.

The past in which he had had a part seemed like an impossibly happy
dream. She was hardly able to believe that he had been in their sitting
room, walked with her in the evening to the grassy edge of the harbor,
or held her fingers in his hard cool grasp. Now she wondered if he were
contented. She couldn't quite decide from glimpses of his face; but
something that had nothing to do with vision disturbed her with the
certainty that he was troubled. It might mean unhappiness, but she
wasn't sure.

"Now there go the arches!" a young voice exclaimed, "and I just can't see
anything. You'd never know at all it was a temple of eight columns. Oh,
look--there's a number coming out, 'July fourth, seventeen seventy-six.'"
A tide of hand clapping swept over the dark masses. "No," Laurel
continued, "that's Salem.... It's Washington, no, General Taylor."

The amazing day, Nettie realized, was over, the people flowed back
through the gates like a lake breaking in streams from its bank; there
was a stir on the steps. Looking up she saw that the stars were obscured,
and a low rumble of thunder sounded from a distance, a flash lit the
horizon. Now she must go back, return to Hardy Street, to her bitter
grandfather like an iron statue eaten by rust and storms, to Edward
Dunsack following her with his dragging feet and thin insinuating voice,
to her hopeless mother.

"It's the powder," she heard, about what she had no conception. Rhoda
Ammidon turned decidedly to her. "It was nice to have you, Nettie," she
declared; "but we must see about getting you safely home. The carriage
would be best since it's threatening rain." She didn't, she replied, want
to give them so much bother, she often went on errands after supper,
she'd, be all right--

"Nonsense," Mrs. Ammidon interrupted impatiently. Then Gerrit advanced
from the doorway. "I'll walk down with her," he said almost roughly. "No
need to take the horses out so late." Nettie Vollar thought that his
sister-in-law's mouth tightened in protest, but he gave them no chance
for further argument. He descended the steps with a quick grinding tread,
and she was forced to hurry through her acknowledgments in order to
overtake him.

The night at once absorbed them.

The air, charged with the fumes of gunpowder and rumbling with low
intermittent thunder, was oppressive and disturbing. Gerrit's head was
exactly opposite her own, and she could see his profile, pale and still,
moving on a changing dark background. He walked with the short firm
stride men acquire on the unsteady decks of vessels, swinging his arms
but slightly. Neither spoke. The rain, Nettie saw, was hanging off;
probably it would not reach Salem, Washington Square was already empty
except for a small obscure stir by the scaffolding for the fireworks. A
murmur of young voices came from a door on Bath Street. Such minute
observations filled her mind; beneath their surface she was conscious of
a deep, a fathomless, turmoil. It was a curious sensation, curious
because she couldn't tell whether it was happiness or misery. One now
exactly resembled the other to Nettie Vollar.

She grasped, however, one difference--it was happiness now, the misery
belonged to tomorrow. But suddenly that last unrealized fact--at once
immaterial and the most leaden reality of all--lost its weight. The
greater freedom she had lately grown into became an absolute
indifference, a half willful and half automatic shutting of her eyes to
everything but the present, the actuality of Gerrit Ammidon walking by
her side. She wanted him to speak, so that she could discover his
thoughts, feelings; yet she was reluctant to have their companionship of
silence broken: words, almost all the possible terms she could imagine,
would only emphasize the distance between them.

She was thinking of one now--a word he had never pronounced, but which
she felt had been, however obscurely, at the back of the attention he
had paid her: love. It was a queer thing. It seemed to be--everyone
agreed that it was--of the greatest, perhaps the first, importance; and
yet all sorts of other considerations, some insignificant and others
mean and more, yes--cowardly, held it in check, drove it back out of
sight, as you might hurriedly shut some shabby object into a closet at
the arrival of visitors.

"How have you been?" he demanded in the abrupt voice of the expression of
his determination to see her home. Well enough, she assured him, if he
meant her health. He glanced at her with somber eyes. "Not altogether,"
he admitted; "it included your family, things generally."

"They are as bad as possible," she told him. She admitted this frankly, a
part of her entire surrender to the moment, careless of how it might
affect him. "They would be," he muttered savagely. "It's a habit ...
here." The "here," she knew, referred to life on shore; his gloomy
attitude toward the management and affairs of the land had caused her a
great deal of precious laughter. He had revealed a most astonishing
ignorance of necessities that she had understood instinctively when
hardly more than a child; and this simplicity had, as much as anything,
brought her affection for him to life. At the same time she in particular
had felt the justice of a great many of his charges. But no one could
reasonably hope for the sort of world--a world as orderly and trim as
that of a narrow ship--he thought should be brought about by a mere
command. Nettie wished that it could! She sighed, gazing at him.

"Then it's no better than before?" he asked, adding, with a descriptive
gesture: "the town and people?"

"I hardly speak to ten in a year, outside the stores and like that. Of
course they nod going into church, or a lady, I mean really, your
sister-in-law, will say something nice, even do what you saw to-night.
Though it's the first time anything like that has happened."

She caught a repressed bitter oath.

"I suppose I'll get used to it," she continued. "No, I won't," she added
differently; "never, never, never."

"If you were a man now--" he said with an incredible stupidity.

She wondered angrily if he'd rather have her a man; there had been a
time, Nettie reflected, when such a possibility would have stirred him to
violent protest. And this brought out the reflection that, while at one
time he might have cared for her, now perhaps he was merely sorry for her
unhappiness. Yes, this must be it. She had a momentary fatal impulse to
throw back at him scornfully any such small kindness. She didn't, she
told herself, want condescending sympathy. What silenced her was the
sudden knowledge that she did; she wanted anything whatsoever from Gerrit
Ammidon. The fact that he had a Chinese wife was powerless to alter her
feeling in the smallest degree. On the contrary, she was shocked to find
that it had increased immensely, it was growing with every minute.

She wondered drearily if her stubborn love--the term took its place
without remark in the procession of her thoughts--for Gerrit didn't, in
spite of her protest to the contrary, stamp her as quite bad. Perhaps
her grandfather was right about them all--her mother and Uncle Edward
and herself, and they were wicked, lost! The energy with which she had
combated this charge now faced by the circumstance of her realized
affection for a man married to some one else, even Chinese, wavered.
All the cheerful influences of the day, rising to the supreme tranquil
hour on the Ammidon porch, sank to dejection; it was like the flight of
the rockets.

She walked listlessly, her brain was numb; she was terribly tired. Gerrit
Ammidon's head was bent and she was unable to see his expression. He
might even have forgotten, by the token of his self-absorbed progress,
that she was at his side.

"There's going to be a stir in Ammidon, Ammidon and Saltonstone," he said
presently, "when my father hears of the new program. Everything is
turning to the fastest California runs possible. William and James
Saltonstone want me to take command of a clipper. But I find I'm like my
father, Nettie; all my experience has been in the East and the China
service. I'm used to it. I'd never get on navigating a passenger boat, a
packet ship, from Boston to San Francisco and San Francisco to Boston.
The other's in my blood, too--running the northeast trades to Brazil and
coming up into the southwest passage winds for the Cape of Good Hope. A
long reach nearly to Australia and then north again to the Indian Ocean
and southeast trades.

"I'm fit for that, for long voyages, a blue-water sailor and all it
means; but battering back and forward round the Horn with my deck
cluttered up by prospectors and shore crews the mates would have to slam
into the rigging--!" His exclamation refused every face of such a
possibility. She understood his necessity completely; and the brief
account of such far happy journeys, safe from everything that Salem had
come to mean for her, filled her with longing.

"I'm beginning to see," he took up again the self-examination, "that I am
to blame for a good deal that I've found fault with in others. I mean
that I'm a different variety of animal, and, naturally, no judge of the
kinds of holes they live in or the way their affairs are managed."

"You are worlds better!" she cried.

He turned to her, obviously startled, and she held for a long breath his
unguarded intense gaze. "Not very useful, I am afraid," he replied at
last; "not today, anyhow. I belong to a life that is dying, Nettie; mark
my words, dying if not already dead. And I'm newfangled to my father. It
goes as quickly as that."

This was a fresh mood to all her knowledge of his impatient arrogance,
and one that sent her to him in a passionate unperceived emotion. They
had arrived at her home and were waiting aimless and silent. Beyond, the
gate to the yard was standing open, and Nettie saw that his discovery of
the fact had occurred at the identical moment of her own. She made an
involuntary movement forward and he followed her through to the blurred
tangle of bushes and bare trodden earth. Mutely they turned to the sod
spread at the harbor.

The thunder had died away, but pale sheets of reflected lightning hovered
at short intervals low in the sky. Directly above them stars shone again.
The window of the sitting room still bore the illumination of the lamp
within; and Nettie could picture her mother, with stained and rough hands
loose on their wrists, opposite Barzil Dunsack's gaunt set countenance.

"You said something about things as bad as possible."

In a level voice she told him about her discovery of Edward Dunsack
unconscious in his black wrap on the bed. "I thought he had died," she
repeated almost monotonously; "he had such a yellow gone look."

"But that can't be allowed!" he cried. "You mustn't see it. Indecent,
worse. The beast will have to be removed. No one will hear of his staying
about with two women and a fanatical old man." She was afraid that he
would go into the house at once and appear with her uncle, very much in
the manner of a dog with a rat. Her sense of a worldly knowledge, a
philosophy of realization, far deeper than his own returned. Things
couldn't be disposed of in that easy manner; it was probable that they
couldn't be disposed of, righted, at all. Her mother, with her help, must
continue to keep Barzil's home: there was no other place for Edward
Dunsack to go. "He won't hurt us," she said vaguely. "It's principally
bad for him. Then, at first, I didn't know. You get used to so much."

He, Gerrit Ammidon, wouldn't have it, he asserted in a heated return of
his familiar dictatorial manner. The fellow would be out of there
to-morrow. It was a damned unendurable outrage!

She smiled softly and laid a momentary hand on his sleeve. "That's
nothing, Gerrit; nothing compared to the rest, to me." He frowned down at
her out of the gloom.

"What am I to do?" she asked.

He again cursed Salem and the world with which he had proclaimed himself
out of date and sympathy. This, while it communicated to her a certain
warm comfort, resolved nothing, made no reply to her question. To-morrow
offered precisely the same hopeless outlook of yesterday. No answer from
Gerrit, Gerrit married, was possible. She saw that.

"I'm not fit to go around on land blubbering and setting tongues to
clapping," he declared. "I ought to be locked in my cabin when the ship's
in port, and let out only after sail's made again."

She heard a slight movement in the grass; and turning sharply caught the
vague outline of a man, the thin unsubstantial shape of Edward Dunsack.
He vanished immediately; Gerrit, absorbed in bitter thought, had missed
him. Strangely her uncle only filled her mind with the image of China,
the China that had ruined him, and which, too, in the form of a woman, a
Manchu, had destroyed the hope of any acceptable existence of her own.

"Great pretensions and idiotic results," he went on; "no ballast. Take
what your grandfather said to me--nothing in that unexpected or to drive
a man off. Yet off I go and--" he halted oddly, just as her breath was
suspended at the admittance which she was certain must follow. But he
fell into another glooming silence.

After all, she couldn't expect him to continue that development. A
different man might; and Nettie wasn't sure of her refusal to
listen...to the end. But she was familiar with Gerrit's unbending
conception of the necessity of truth alone. If he married a woman,
yellow, black, anything, he would perform, the obligation to the entire
boundary of his promise. Good and bad seemed equally united against her.
Little flashes of resentment struck through her leaden, conviction that
all this was useless.

"I must be of some use to you."

But, Nettie realized, there was only one way in which he could help her;
only one thing she wanted--could take--from him. She was terrified at the
completeness with which love had possessed her, making every other fact
and consideration of little interest or importance. Suddenly it seemed as
if she were being swept by an overwhelming current farther and farther
out from safety into a bottomless immensity that would claim her life.

"Yet," he cried, "if I lift a hand, here, in Salem, if I as much as cross
the street to speak to you--the clapping tongues! I can do you nothing
but harm. Though Rhoda might--"

"I don't want your Rhoda!" she interrupted passionately. "I've managed
without them all up to now." He raised his arms in a hopeless gesture.
"Nothing's to be done," she concluded. "I saw that all along; that is,
this last time."

"It's late," he muttered absently; "you have had a day." He turned
mechanically and moved away from the indefinite black rim of the harbor.
The lamp in the sitting room had been extinguished, the house was dark. A
brief embarrassment seized her as he stood trying vainly to find
something confident, even adequate, to say for farewell. And as the stir
of his footfalls died away up Hardy Street the memory of his last futile
words mocked her laboring heart.

She turned and faced Edward Dunsack, advancing from an obscurity deeper
than the rest. He murmured approvingly, she caught words of commendation
and unspeakable reassurance. She hurried away blindly, sick to the inmost
depths of her being. The morning, when she had tied her gay bonnet
ribbons and started out with the scarlet merino shawl on her arm, seemed
to belong to a long, long time ago, to a girl.... The popping of a final
string of firecrackers died outside.




VIII

The dejection, the sense of a difference that held from him any
comprehension of the vast maze of shore life, persisted as Gerrit Ammidon
walked toward home. It was such an unusual feeling that he was conscious
of it; he examined and speculated upon his despondency as if it had been
something actually before him. The result of this was a still increased
disturbance. He didn't like such strange qualities arbitrarily forcing
their way into his being--he had the navigator's necessity for a clear
understanding of the combined elements within and without which resulted
in a harmonious, or at least predictable, movement. He distrusted all
fogs. In a manner the course before him was plain--married to Taou Yuen,
shipmaster in his family's firm, he had simple duties to perform, no part
of which included sailing in strange or dangerous waters; yet though this
was beyond argument he was still troubled by a great number of unpleasant
conditions of mind and obscure pressures.

Gradually, however, his normal indignation returned, the contempt for a
society without perceptible justice, centered principally in what Nettie
Vollar had had from life. This, he assured himself, wasn't because he was
in any way involved with her; but because it was such a flagrant case.
She was a very nice girl. It was entirely allowable that he should admit
that. As a fact, he warmly felt that he was her friend; the past
justified, no, insisted on, that at least. He wondered exactly how fond
he had been of her--in other words, how near he had come to marrying her.
It had been an obvious possibility, decidedly; but the desire had never
become actual. No, his feeling for her had never broken the bounds of a
natural liking and a desire to secure decent treatment for her. The last
had been vain.

If his mental searching had ended there it would have presented no
difficulties, created no fog; but, unfortunately, there was another
element which he admitted with great reluctance, an inborn discomfort.
Although he had been clear about what had actually happened with Nettie
there was reasonable doubt that the same limitations had operated with
her. Briefly she had missed him more than he had realized. He explained
this to his sense of innate masculine diffidence by the loneliness of her
days. She had missed him....something within whispered that she still
did. Women, he remembered hearing, were like that.

In the light, the possibility, of this he saw that he had done her a
great wrong.

It had been his damned headlong ignorance of the dangerous quality of
life, the irresponsibility of a child with gunpowder. With all this in
his mind it seemed doubly imperative that he should do something for her;
he owed her, he was forced to admit, more than a mere impersonal
consideration. His thoughts returned unbidden to the fact that she--she
had liked him. He insisted almost angrily on the past tense, but it
surprised him and gave him a perceptible warm glow. Nettie was very
pleasing: he inferred that she was a creature of deep emotions,
affections.

At this he shook himself abruptly--such things were not permissible.
Gerrit felt a swift sense of shame; they injured Nettie. His mind shifted
to Taou Yuen. He found her asleep on the day bed she preferred, her
elaborate headdress resting above the narrow pillow of black wicker. He
could distinguish her face, pallid in the blue gloom, and a delicate,
half-shut hand. He was flooded with the intense admiration which
increasingly formed his chief thought of her; this, with the obvious
racial difference, put her, as it were, on an elevation--a beautifully
lacquered vase above his own blundering person. She was calm, serious and
good, in the absolute Western definitions of those terms; she had her
emotions under faultless control. Taou Yuen should be an ideal wife for
any man; she was, he corrected the form sharply. All that he knew of her
was admirable; the part which constantly baffled him didn't touch their
relationship.

It was reasonable to expect small differences between her and Salem: at
times her calm chilled him by a swift glimpse of utter coldness, at times
he would have liked her gravity to melt into something less than ivory
perfection; even her goodness had oppressed him. The last hadn't the
human quality of, for example, Nettie Vollar's goodness, colored by
rebellion, torn by doubt, and yet triumphing.

If he only understood the three religions of China, if he were an
intellectual man, Gerrit realized, he could have grasped his wife more
fully. He was completely ignorant of Chinese history, of all the forces
that had united to form Taou Yuen. For instance: he was unable to
reconcile her elevated spirit with the "absurd superstitions" that
influenced almost her every act--the enormous number of lucky and unlucky
days, the coin hung on his bed, the yellow charm against sickness and red
against evil spirits; only yesterday she had burnt a paper form
representing thunder and drunk its ashes in a cup of tea. She was
tremendously in earnest about the evil spirits--they were, she
maintained, lurking everywhere, in all shapes and degrees of harm. Edward
Dunsack was possessed, she declared; but he had pointed out that opium
was a sufficient explanation of anything evil in him, and that it was
unnecessary to look for a more fantastic reason.

He lay awake for a comparatively long while, as he had several times
lately, divided between his consciousness and the regular breathing of
his wife. If the past had brought Nettie Vollar to depend on him in
some slight degree Taou Yuen did so absolutely: except for him she was
lost in a strange world. Yet Taou Yuen didn't seem helpless in the
manner of Nettie. He had once before thought of the former as finely
tempered metal. Her transcendent resignation, with its consequent lack
of sympathetic contact with the imperfect humanity of--well, Nettie,
gave Taou Yuen a dangerous freedom from all that bound Salem in
comparative safety.

He dressed first, as usual, in the morning, while she stirred only enough
to get her pipe and tobacco, on the floor at her side. Outside, the elms
were losing their fresh greenness in the dusty film of midsummer; the
Square held an ugly litter from the fireworks of last evening. William,
too, was about, but he was uncommunicative, his brow scored in a frown.
Their father, always down before the others, had returned from the
inspection of his trees, and was tramping back and forth in the library.
The elder seemed unrested by the night, his skin, as Rhoda had pointed
out, was baggy.

"Now that the _Nautilus_ is afloat again," Jeremy Ammidon said, "you'll
want to be at sea." Examining this natural conclusion, Gerrit was
surprised, startled, to find that it was no longer true. For the first
time in his memory he was not anxious to be under sail. This of course
was caused by a natural perplexity about Taou Yuen's comfort and
happiness.

"I don't know what the firm's plans are for me," he answered cautiously.
"There is some talk of taking me out of the China trade for the
California runs. I shouldn't like that."

Jeremy was turning at his secretary, and he stopped to pound his fist on
its narrow ledge. "It's that damned Griffiths again and his cursed
jackknife hull!" he exclaimed. The dark tide suffused his countenance.
Gerrit studied him thoughtfully: he didn't know just how much William had
yet told their father about the sweeping changes taking place in Ammidon,
Ammidon and Saltonstone. He did see, however, that it was unwise to
excite the old gentleman unduly.

"I was saying only yesterday," he put in pacifically, "that you and
myself are getting to be old models--" he broke off as William entered
the library. The latter evidently grasped at once the subject of their
discussion, for he went on in a firm voice somewhat contradicted by a
restrained but palpable anxiety:

"Now, father, this was bound to come up and you must sit down and listen
quietly." The elder, on the verge of a tempestuous reply, constrained
himself to a painful attention. "It's useless to point out to you the
beneficial changes in sea carrying, for you are certain to deny their
good and drag out the past. So I am simply forced to tell you that after
careful consideration we have decided to line the firm with the events of
the day and hold our place in the growing pressure of competition. This
may sound brutal, but it was forced on us by the attitude you have
adopted. Shortly, this is what we intend, in fact are doing:

"Orders have been placed with George Raynes at Portsmouth and Jackson up
in Boston for clippers of a thousand and twelve hundred tons and another
is almost ready to be launched from Curtis' Chelsea shipyard. It oughtn't
to be necessary to call your attention again to the fact that the _Sea
Witch_ has brought the passage from Hong Kong to something like three
months. The profits of the California trade will be enormous and depend
entirely on speed.

"I'll admit that this is a big thing, it will cut sharply into our
funds--something like a quarter of a million dollars. But, if you will be
patient for a little only, I can promise that you'll see astonishing
returns. At the same time we have no intention of giving up China and
India, but we'll limit ourselves more closely in the nature of the
cargoes, practically nothing but tea unbroken from Canton to Boston. I'll
be glad to go into all this in detail at the countinghouse, where we have
the statistics and specifications."

To Gerrit's surprise Jeremy Ammidon sat quietly at the end of William's
speech; he wasn't even looking at them, but had his gaze bent upon the
floor. There was a commanding, even impressive, quality in his silence
that forced the respect of both his sons. More--it made Gerrit
overwhelmingly conscious of his affection, his deep admiration, for his
father. He recalled the latter's memorable voyage in the little _Two
Capes_--the barque of two hundred and nine tons--into the dangers, so
imminent to a master, of uncomprehended waters and thousands of miles
with, for the most part, only the sheerest dead reckoning. Jeremy Ammidon
said finally:

"If it's done it's done. I used to think there were two Ammidons in the
firm, not to mention Gerrit; but it seems there's only one. A man who has
never been to sea." He rose and marched, slower and more ponderous than
ever before, to the cupboard where he kept the square bottle of Medford
rum; there, with trembling hands, he poured himself out a measure. He
shut the glass door, but stood for an oppressive space with his back to
the room, seeing that old vision of struggle or accomplishment.

"I suppose I've been a damned nuisance about the countinghouse for a long
time," he pronounced, turning. William rose. "You made it," he said;
"it's you. God forgive me if I have been impatient or forgetful of all we
owe you." There was a stir of skirts in the doorway, and Rhoda entered.
"Breakfast--" she stopped, and with a quick glance at her husband and
Gerrit went at once to Jeremy Ammidon. "They've been bothering you
again," she declared, and turned an expression of bright anger on the
younger men. "Ah, how hard and hateful and blind you are!" she cried.

William, with a hopeless gesture, walked from the room. Gerrit moved to a
window facing the Square; but he saw nothing of its sultry yellow-green
expanse--he was remembering how as a child, his mother already dead, a
nurse had held him up on Derby Wharf to see his father sweep into port
from the long voyage to the East. He caught again the resonant voice, as
if sounding from a hold of ribbed oak, the tremendous vigor of the arm
that swept him up to a bearded face. He couldn't bring himself to move
now and see an old haggard man clinging with tremulous emotion and tears
to the sympathy, the strength, of a woman.

Later in the morning, to his immense relief, Jeremy Ammidon regained a
surprising amount of composure. At first determined never to return to
Liberty Street, toward noon Gerrit found him in the hall with his broad
hat and wanghee. "I'll just have a slant at those specifications," he
remarked. "Like as not they've left off the hatch coamings." Gerrit
suggested, "Since it's so hot why don't you have the carriage round?" The
other voiced his customary disparagement of that vehicle. "If I see that
I'm going to be late for dinner," he added, "I'll get one of the young
men to fetch me something. I don't want to give Rhoda any trouble."

Still, on the steps, he lingered, gazing pridefully up at the bulk of the
house he had built; his eyes rested on the brass plate, engraved with the
words Java Head, on the dignified white door. "A lot of talk when I had
that done," he commented; "people said they'd never heard of it, ought to
have my name there for convenience if nothing else. They didn't know. It
would take a sailor for that. Don't forget to tell Rhoda not to wait if
I'm late. All those girls of hers get hungry. I expect William consulted
Laurel about this new move," he ended with a gleam of humor. "She's a
great hand for a clipper since she talked to Captain Waterman." He was
down the steps, starting deliberately across the street. There was a last
mutter of doubt. The bulky slow figure in yellow Chinese silk moved away
and Gerrit returned to the shadowed tranquillity of the library.

More than any other place in the house it bore the impression of his
father. He wandered about the room, lost in its associations, stopped
in front of the tall narrow walnut bookcase and took out one of the
small company of Jeremy Ammidon's logs, reading disconnectedly in the
precise script:

"Tuesday, December 24. 132 days out. All this day gentle breezes and
cloudy. Saw kelp, birds, etc.

"Tacked ship to the eastward under short sail. At daylight made all sail
to SW. Gentle breezes and clear pleasant weather. Saw huge shoals of
flying fish."

"May 19, 11 days out. Hainan in sight, bearing from W by N to NNW. At
sunset the breeze died away and hauled off the land. All night light
breezes. Made all possible sail to the SSW. At the same time set the
extremity of Hainan which bore NW by N to N. Past three Chinese
vessels steering NNE. Saw much scum on the water and at 11 A.M. lost
sight of land."

"November 14, 65 days out. These twenty-four hours commences with
variable breezes at west and smooth sea. Saw brig steering to the
Eastward. The land of Sumatra bearing SW by W to SE by S. Tied rips."

He returned the log to its resting place with a quiet smile at the last
period. It was all incredibly simple--a lost simplicity of navigation and
a lost innocent wonder at the Mare Atlanticum of old fable.

Neither William nor Jeremy Ammidon was present for dinner. They were,
Gerrit concluded, submerged in the effort to bring the changing
activities of the firm into the latter's comprehension. His foot was on
the stair leading up to his wife, when there was a violent knocking on
the front door. It sounded with a startling abruptness in the shut hall,
and Gerrit instinctively answered without waiting for a servant. The
flushed and breathless young man before him was evidently perturbed by
his appearance. He stammered:

"Captain Ammidon, you--you must come down to the countinghouse. At
once, please!"

His thoughts, directed upon his father, gathered into a chilling
certainty. "Captain Jeremy is sick?" he demanded instantly. The
hesitation of the other seemed to confirm an infinitely greater
calamity. "Dead?" he asked again, in a flooding misery of apprehension.
The clerk nodded:

"In a second, like," he continued. "All we know they were talking in Mr.
William Ammidon's room--one of the boys was out that minute getting the
old gentleman some lunch--when we heard a fall, it was quite plain, and
Mr. Saltonstone--"

"That will do," Gerrit cut him short. He turned into the house, rapidly
considering what must follow. He'd go, certainly; but first he must warn
Rhoda, she would have the girls to prepare.... Rhoda had always been
exceptionally considerate and fond of Jeremy Ammidon. He found her at the
entrance to her room, and said, "My father is dead." Her warm color sank
and tears filled her eyes.

Hurrying over Bath Street to Liberty his grief was held in check by the
pressing actualities of the moment. He had time, however, to feel glad
that he had spent the morning largely in warm thoughts of the dead man.

He passed rapidly into the entrance of the establishment of Ammidon,
Ammidon and Saltonstone. Immediately on the right there was an open
railed enclosure of desks in the center of which a group of clerks
watched him with mingled respect and curiosity as he continued to the
inner shut space. It was a large light room with windows on Charter
Street. William's expansive flat-topped desk with its inked green baize
was on the left, and, under a number of framed sere ships' letters and
privateersmen's Bonds of the War of 1812, Gerrit saw the heavy body
extended on a broad wooden bench, a familiar orange Bombay handkerchief
spread over the face.

Never in all the memory of his brother had William Ammidon been so
stricken. As he entered James Saltonstone left studying a list hastily
scribbled on a half sheet of the firm's writing paper. He nodded silently
to Gerrit, who advanced to the covered face and lifted the handkerchief.
There were still traces of congestion, but a marblelike pallor had taken
the place of the familiar ruddy color. Something of the heaviness of his
old age, the blurring thickness of long inactivity, had vanished, giving
his still countenance an expression of vigor, resolution, contradicted by
an arm trailing like the loose end of a heavy rope on the floor. William,
with a clenched hand on his desk, spoke with difficulty:

"You must know this, Gerrit; and then I'll ask you never to allude to it
again. It might be argued that--that James and I killed him, but
absolutely without intention, by accident. Gerrit, I loved him more than
I took time to know. Well, you may or may not have heard that we own two
topsail schooners in the opium trade, between India, Ningpo and Amoy, but
you do know how father detested anything to do with the drug. We said
nothing to him about this; it seemed necessary, no--permissible. But
to-day when we were coming to a peaceable understanding about the new
contracts he stumbled over one of the schooner's manifests. Mislaid, you
see--a clerk! It swept him to his feet in a rage, he couldn't speak,
and--and he had walked, it was hot...."

Gerrit Ammidon made no answer; there was nothing to be said. He was
shaken by a burning anger at the cupidity, the ugly commercial grasping,
to which his father had been sacrificed. A gulf opened between him and
his brother and James Saltonstone; he was as different from them as the
sea was from the land, as the wind-swept deck of the _Nautilus_ was from
this dry building with its stifling papers and greed. He might be in the
service of the firm--Gerrit was not incorporated in the partnership--he
might carry their cargoes for the multiplication of the profit, but his
essential service and responsibility, his life, were addressed to another
and infinitely higher and more difficult consummation than the stowed
kegs of Spanish dollars, the bills of sale. This was composed of the
struggle with the immeasurable elements of the seas and winds, the safety
of lives, the endless trying of his endurance and will and luck.

"Now," he spoke with a perceptible bitterness, "you can have your way
without interference, without his mixing up your papers or making the
blunders of a slow sort of honesty."

"I am under no obligation to your judgment or opinion," William
replied stiffly. "There are always complications you will never
penetrate nor carry. At present your assistance is more necessary than
any display of temper."

The funeral gathered and ebbed in a long procession of carriages through
a sultry noon, the services at the grave concluded by the symbolic
dropping of the earth on Jeremy Ammidon's coffin lowered into the deep
narrow clay pit. The large varied throng lingered for a breath, as if
unable to take their attention from the raw opening that had absorbed the
shipmaster, and then there was a determined and reassuring commonplace
murmur, a hurrying away into the vital warmth of the day.

The evening was the loveliest summer and the garden of Java Head could
afford: a slow moon disentangled itself from the indigo foliage at the
back of the stable and soared with an increasing brilliancy, bathing the
sod and summerhouse and poplars, the metallic box borders and spiked
flower beds, in a crystal clearness. The Ammidons sat about the willow,
Rhoda with a hand affectionately on her husband's arm, the
children--Laurel and Janet staying without remark long past their
accustomed hours for bed--still and white under the blanching moon.
Gerrit intently studied his wife, Taou Yuen, in a concentrated manner.
She, too, was in white, the Chinese mark of sorrow.

Suddenly in the face of his suffering and memories she had appeared
startlingly remote, as if, from standing close beside him, she were
moving farther and farther away. The image was made profoundly
disconcerting by the fact that they acted without their own accord; it
took the aspect of a purely arbitrary phenomenon over which they had no
control. At the same time Nettie Vollar was surprisingly near, actual--he
could see every line and shading of her vivid face; he felt the warm
impact of her instant sympathy. He had caught a glimpse of Barzil Dunsack
at the funeral; but the other was immediately hidden by the crowd, and
Gerrit had been unable to discover whether his son and daughter or Nettie
had accompanied him.

His thoughts turned in a score of associations and questions to Nettie;
but when he found himself trying to picture her exact employment at the
present moment he was angrily aroused. He had, he realized, considered
nothing else for the past hour, and his preoccupation was growing more
intense, personal. He stirred abruptly, and fixed his mind on the
imminent changes from his father's death. First the possibility would
develop of his becoming a member of the firm; but to this, he silently
declared, he would not agree. His gaze rested with a faint underlying
animosity on William, seated upright in a somber absorption, and a
disparagement of the latter's activities and scale of values. Gerrit saw
that there must be a pacific legal knot to untangle; the division of
Jeremy's estate would require time--he had somewhere heard that such
affairs often dragged on for a year; and now he was again in a fever of
impatience to be away, safe, at sea. He added the more portentous word
with the vague self-assurance that it was only the customary expression
of his notable ignorance of land; but it echoed with an ominous special
insistence in his mind.

The _Nautilus_, he recalled, was once more afloat, repaired; and a plan
occurred to him that seemed to dispose of all his difficulties, even of
the distasteful possibility of the California clipper service. He could
take the ship as part of his inheritance; and, though ostensibly sailing
her in the interest of the firm, make such voyages and ports, carry such
cargoes, as his independence dictated. The _Nautilus_, with a cargo out
of tin and dyes and cotton manufactures, and forty or fifty thousand
trade dollars, would represent a sum of nearly two hundred thousand; but
as a family they were very rich; he'd have more than that; and bank the
remainder intact to the credit of his wife.

There were many practical aspects of his marriage that he had not stopped
to weigh in its precipitant consummation. The problem, pointed out by
Rhoda, of his absence from Taou Yuen on cruise could not be solved with
the facility he had taken for granted. It was as impossible to leave her
happily here--he was aware of her growing impatience with Western
habit--as it would be for him to become a contented part of Chinese home
life; and not only was she uncomfortably cramped and sick on shipboard,
but he doubted whether he could persuade his crews to sail with her.
Superstitious able seamen balked at the presence of even a normal wife
aft; and a Chinese would be regarded as a sign of certain disaster.

He would have to establish her somewhere in the East Indies; and he
viewed with a new dislike all such tropical settings. His entire life
threatened to become an affair of damnable palm trees and Oriental
stenches. Gerrit Ammidon broke into a cold sweat at the realization of
the far more direct implication that had taken substance in his mind. The
thing was going entirely too far! He wondered irritably at the obscure
cause for such violent inner agitations.

Rhoda Ammidon with a dim smile rose, gathering her daughters about her,
and departed in a pale cloud of muslin. Taou Yuen, with her murmuring
formal politeness, moved away too, leaving the brothers together.
Whatever sympathetic intercourse they might otherwise have had, whatever
shared memories of their boyhood and their father, were made impossible
by William's admission of the immediate cause of the elder's death.

"The Saltonstones are going into Boston this fall," William said
abruptly. "It is necessary for one of us to live there; and Caroline has
always had a hankering for wider society. Rhoda, I was surprised to
learn, wishes to remain here at Java Head for a year or so anyway. She
has a very real affection for the place. But I tell her when the girls
are older Boston, or perhaps New York, will give them far greater
opportunities. Sidsall, stranger still, was in tears at the whole thing;
she seemed ridiculously upset about leaving."

The vision of Nettie Vollar persisted, bright and disturbing. Once he was
at sea, Gerrit told himself, on the circumscribed freedom of his
quarter-deck, he would lose the unsettling fever burning at that instant
in his veins. But the memory of long solitary passages with nothing to
distract his mind through week upon week after the ship took the trades,
when hour upon hour his thoughts turned inward on themselves and reviewed
every past act and feeling, made doubtful even that old release. The
trouble was that he instinctively avoided any square facing of the
difficulty that had multiplied with such amazing rapidity--like a banyan
tree--about the present and the shadowed future. This he was forced to
admit, but grimly added that there could be only one answer to whatever
he might lay bare--the adherence to the single fundamental duty of which
he never lost sight. No port was gained by changing blindly from course
to course, that way lay the reefs; a man could but keep steadily by the
compass. That, at least, was all he could see, propose, for himself,
being rather limited and lacking the resources which others of greater
knowledge so confidently explored.

After breakfast on the following morning he mounted the dignified
staircase, with the sweeping railing of red narra wood and high Palladian
window at the turn, to his wife. In their room he was bathed in a cold
sweat of dismay at a sudden detached view of Taou Yuen in her complete
Manchu mourning for his father. An unhemmed garment of coarse white hemp
hung in ravelings about slippers of sackcloth; what had been an elaborate
headdress was hidden under a binding of the bleached hemp; she wore no
paint nor flowers; her pins and earrings were pasted with dough, and her
expression was drugged with the contemplative fervor of what had
evidently been a religious ceremonial.

"For the wise old man, for your father," she said. She was exhausted and
sank onto the day bed; but almost immediately her hand reached out in the
direction of her pipe, and she smiled faintly at him. He clenched his
sinewy hands, the muscles of his jaw knotted, as he gazed steadily at the
woman, the Manchu woman, he had of his own free accord married. It
sickened him that, for the drawing of a breath, he had regarded Taou Yuen
with such appalling injustice--injustice, the evil he hated and condemned
more than any other. What, in the name of God, was he made of that he
could sink so low!

"We'll leave here soon," he declared abruptly; "the _Nautilus_ will be
ready for sea almost any time."

He could recognize, from his slight knowledge of her, that Taou Yuen
welcomed the news. "Shanghai?" she asked. He nodded. It came over him
that he was no longer young. His father had retired from the sea within a
few years of his own present age and built Java Head, the house that was
to be a final harbor of unalloyed happiness. No such prospect awaited
him; he had one of the premonitions that were more certain than the most
solid realities--as long as he lived he must sail in ships, struggling
with winds and calms, with currents and cockling and placid seas. Well,
that was natural, inevitable, what he would have chosen. At the same time
he dwelt, with a sensation of loneliness, on the green garden and
drawing-room filled in June with the scent of lilacs, on Rhoda surrounded
by her girls.

When the question of the division of Jeremy Amnudon's estate came up, he
was, as he had foreseen, urged to become a partner of the firm; and, when
that failed, told that it was his vested duty to continue in his present
capacity as a shipmaster in all their interests. He was seated with
Saltonstone and William in the countinghouse and he could tell from his
brother's ill-restrained impatience that the other considered him hardly
more than a clumsy-witted, stubborn fool before the mast of the facts of
actual life.

His gaze, above their heads, rested on the framed pass of the ship
_Mocha_, one of his father's last commands, over the bench where he had
lain dead. It was given by the President, James Monroe, in 1818, its
white paper seal embossed on the stained parchment. It had an engraving
of a lighthouse and spired town on the dark water's edge, and above, a
picture of a ship with everything drawing in a fair wind, the upper
sails torn off on a dotted wavering line for the purpose of
identification with its stub.

"No," he told them quietly, "I'll go my own way as I said; with the
_Nautilus_, if that can be arranged." He rose with a nod of finality, and
James Saltonstone remarked, "Jeremy to the life." Gerrit replied, "I'd
not ask anything better."

Through the evening he heard little but the discussion of Mr. Folk's
approaching visit to Salem. The President was to leave the train at the
Beverly Depot at three P.M. and be fetched with Secretary Buchanan and
Marshal Barnes in a barouche with six horses and met at the outskirts of
Salem by the city authorities.

There would be a Beverly cavalcade, the city guard was ordered to muster
at the armory; while an evening parade at five o'clock and the military
ball in Franklin Hall were to follow.

But when the day and occasion actually arrived it was spoiled by a
succession of unforeseen mishaps. The train was late and the presidential
party in a fever of haste--the procession, hurrying through the massed
public-school children and throngs of Chestnut Street, gave a perfunctory
attention to the salutes and short address of the mayor. The President's
reply, hardly more than a few introductory phrases, cut short, the
barouche was sent plunging over its route with the Secretary crying,
"Drive on! Drive on!" and Marshal Barnes swearing and expectorating in
callous profusion.

Some of the crowd, the Ammidons heard, had been knocked down and injured
in the pell-mell of the rush. Gerrit's countenance showed his contempt of
what he held to be a characteristically ludicrous farce. After all, his
wishes in regard to the _Nautilus_ had been easy of execution, the ship
was now his; he was already contracting for a cargo. He had been to see
Mr. Broadrick, his first mate, and the latter was assembling the chief
members of the crew. As always at the prospect of sailing he was
unsettled, concerned with countless details of departure--like a vessel
straining at her last anchor.

Seated in the library with Taou Yuen--he had called her aside from her
fixed passage to their room from the garden--he was recounting his main
plans for the near future, when he became aware of an arrival on the
steps outside. He heard a servant's voice, and, immediately after, the
woman appeared in the doorway; but she was forced aside by Edward
Dunsack. Gerrit's quick resentment flared at such an unmannered
intrusion, and he moved ungraciously forward. The servant explained
impotently, "I told him I would see--"

"Yes?" Gerrit Ammidon demanded.

Dunsack bowed ceremoniously to Taou Yuen, then he faced the other. On the
verge of speech he hesitated, as if an unexpected development made
inadequate whatever he had been prepared to say; then, with a sudden
decision, he hurried into an emotional jumble of words. "I can tell you
in a breath--Nettie was badly hurt in that cursed rabble yesterday. It
looks as if she was actually struck by one of the horses. She was
unconscious, and then delirious; now she is in her right mind but very
weak; and, since she wished to see you, I volunteered to put our pride in
my pocket and carry her message."

An instant numbing pain compressed Gerrit's heart; he felt that, in an
involuntary exclamation, he had clearly shown the depth of his dismay.
Damn the fellow, why had he burst out in this public indecent manner! The
situation he had plausibly created, the thing he managed to insinuate,
was an insult to them all--to his wife, Taou Yuen, coldly composed
beyond, himself and to Nettie. He stood with his level gaze fixed in an
enraged perplexity on Edward Dunsack's sallow countenance, deep sunk on
its bony structure, conscious that there was no possibility of a
satisfactory or even coherent reply.

"Something was said about this afternoon," the other added. That period,
Gerrit realized, was nearly over. But above every other consideration
rose the knowledge that he would have to see Nettie Vollar, badly
injured, as she desired. The common humanity of that necessity left him
no choice.

He turned to Taou Yuen with a brief formal explanation. A friend, their
families had been associated for years, had been hurt and sent for
him.... Return immediately. He paused, in the act of leaving, at the door
of the library, waiting for Edward Dunsack to join him; but the other had
resolutely turned his back upon Gerrit. He showed no indication of
departure. Gerrit Ammidon was at the point of an exasperated direction;
but that, in the light of Dunsack's purpose there, appeared ridiculously
abrupt; and confident of his wife's supreme ability to control any
situation he continued without further hesitation to the street, hurrying
in a mounting anxiety toward the Dunsacks'.

Dwelling on his conduct in the library, at the sudden announcement of
Nettie's accident, he felt that he had acted in a precipitant if not
actually confused way. As a fact, it had all been largely mechanical; his
oppression, his dread for Nettie, had made everything else dim to see and
faint to hear. Dunsack's grimacing face, the immobile figure of his wife,
the familiar sweep of the room, had been things of no more substance than
a cloud between him and the only other reality existing. He had no
memory, for instance, of having stopped to secure his hat, but he found
it swinging characteristically in a hand. And now even the semblance of
reasonable speech and conduct he had managed to command vanished before a
panic that all but forced him into a run.

The main door of Barzil Dunsack's house was open on the narrow somber
region within; he knocked sharply against the wood at the side and was
immediately answered by the appearance of Kate Vollar.

"This is a great kindness, Captain Ammidon," she told him in her negative
voice; "come in here, please." He looked hastily about the formal space
into which she led him, expecting to see Nettie prostrate, but she was
not there. "How is she?" he demanded impatiently.

"Nettie?" her mother turned as if surprised by an unexpected twist of the
situation. "Oh, why she'll mend all right, the doctor says; but it will
be slow. Her arm had an ugly slithering break, and she suffers with it
all the time." A pause followed, in which she met his interrogation with
a growing mystification. "I suppose Edward told you," she ventured
finally. The sense of being at a loss was swiftly communicated to him.

"Your brother said Nettie wanted to see me," he returned bluntly.

"Now, however could Edward do a thing like that!" she cried in deep
distress. "Why, there's no truth to it. I asked him myself to see if
you'd kindly stop and give me some advice. What put it in my head was
that once your father offered--he told Nettie to let him know if there
was anything to be done. Edward Dunsack isn't just right in his head."

Gerrit was filled with a mingling sense of disappointment, relief that
Nettie was no worse, and the uncomfortable conviction that he had behaved
like an hysterical fool. He, too, but angrily, wondered why Dunsack had
invented such an apparently pointless lie. Probably Kate Vollar was
right, and her brother's wits, soaked in opium, had wandered into a realm
of insane fabrications. He composed himself--the first feeling blotting
out his other emotions--to meet the deprecating interrogation before him.

"I should be glad to do what I could in my father's place."

"In a way," she continued, "it's about Edward. When he came back from
China and decided to stay in Salem his father turned all the books over
to him; he was to tend to everything in the way of accounts and
shipments; and, he said, he would make us all rich in a year or so. But,
instead, he has neglected the clerking until we can't tell what's going
or coming. Edward hasn't--hasn't quite been himself lately," she paused
and Gerrit nodded shortly. "Now we're not wealthy, Captain Ammidon, we
never got more than just enough from our West India trade; but in the
last couple of months, with Edward like he is and father too old for
columns of figuring--he's dreadful forgetful now--not a dollar was made.
The schooners are slow, behind the times I guess, we've had to scrape;
yet it's been something.... They're both awful hard to do with," she
stopped hopelessly.

"You must get a reliable man in charge. Some one who knows the West India
shipping should go over your entire property, decide what is necessary,
then borrow the money. We can find that without trouble. I'll make only
one condition: That is the complete restraint of your brother. It is
known that he has the opium habit, he is a dangerous--"

He stopped at the echo of a thin persistent tapping from above. "That's
Nettie," Kate Vollar said; "the way she calls me. I'll ask you to excuse
me for a minute." When she returned her face bore an unaccustomed flush.
"Nettie heard you in the hall or through the stovepipe." She spoke
doubtfully: "She'd like to see you, but I don't know if it would be right
with her in bed. Still, I promised I'd tell you."

He rose promptly. The woman stood aside at the upper door and he at once
saw Nettie lying with her vigorous black hair sprawling in a thick twist
across the pillow. Her face was pinched, it seemed thin, and the
brilliancy and size of her eyes were exaggerated. One arm, clumsy and
inanimate in splints, was extended over the cotton spread; but with the
other hand she was feverishly busy with her appearance. She smiled, a wan
tremulous movement that again shut the pain like a leaden casket about
his heart.

"Do go away, mother!" Nettie directed Kate Vollar hovering behind them.
"Your fidgeting will make me scream." With an incoherent murmur she
vanished from the room. The girl motioned toward a chair, and Gerrit drew
it forward to a table that bore water and a small glass bowl partly
covered by a sheet of paper, holding a number of symmetrical
reddish-black pills. "Opium," Nettie told him, following his gaze; "I
cried dreadfully with the hurt at first. It's dear, and Edward made those
from some he had. You know, I watched him roll them right here; it was
wonderful how quickly he did it, each exactly alike, two grains." She
told him the circumstances of her accident while he sat with his eyes
steadily on her face, his hands folded.

He was quiet, without visible emotion or speech; but there was an utter
tumult, a tumult like the spiral of a hurricane, within him. Rebellious
feelings, tyrannical desires and thoughts, swept through him in waves of
heat and cold. Nettie's voice grew weak, the shadows deepened under her
eyes, for a little they closed; and but for the faint stir of the
coverlet over her heart she was so pallid, so still, that she might have
been dead. Moved by an uncontrollable fear he bent toward her and touched
her hand. Her gaze slowly widened, and, turning over her palm, she weakly
grasped his fingers. A great sigh of contentment fluttered from her dry
lips. "Gerrit," she whispered, barely audible. He leaned forward, blinded
by his passion for her.

He admitted this in an honest self-knowledge that he had refused
recognition until now. Tender and reassuring words, wild declarations and
plans for the future, crowded for expression; nothing else before the
immensity of desire that possessed him was of the slightest concern; but
not a syllable was spoken. A sharp line was ploughed between his brows;
his breath came in short choked gusts, he was utterly the vessel of his
longing, and yet an ultimate basic consideration, lost in the pounding of
his veins, still restrained him.

"I love you, Gerrit," Nettie said; "I'll never stop till I die." Her face
and voice were almost tranquil; she seemed to speak from a plane above
the ordinary necessities of common existence, as if her pain, burning out
her color and vigor and emotions, had given her the privilege of truth.
Curiously enough when it seemed to him that she had expressed what should
have sent him into a single consuming flame he grew at once completely
calm. He, too, for the moment, reached her state of freedom from earth
and flesh.

"I love you, Nettie," he replied simply.

However, he speedily dropped back into the sphere of actual
responsibilities. He saw all the difficulties and hovering insidious
shadows in which they might be lost. This, in turn, was pushed aside by
the incredulous realization that Nettie's life and his had been spoiled
by a thing no more important than a momentary flare of temper. If, as
might have happened, he had overlooked Barzil Dunsack's ridiculous
tirade, if he had turned into the yard where Nettie was standing instead
of tramping away up Hardy Street, everything would have been well.

It was unjust, he cried inwardly, for such infinite consequences to
proceed from unthinking anger! A great or tragic result should spring
from great or tragic causes, the suffering and price measured by the
error. He could see that Nettie was patiently waiting for him to solve
the whole miserable problem of their future; she had an expression of
relief which seemed to take a happy issue for granted. None was possible.
A baffled rage cut his speech into quick brutal words flung like shot
against her hope.

"I love you," he repeated, "yes. But what can that do for us now? I had
my chance and I let it go. To-day I'm married, I'll be married to-morrow,
probably till I die. Perhaps that wouldn't stop a man more
intelligent--it might be just that--than I am; perhaps he'd go right
after his love or happiness wherever or however it offered. There are
men, too, who have the habit of a number of women. That is understood to
be a custom with sailors. It has never been with me; as I say, maybe I am
too stupid.

"What in the name of all the heavens would I do with Taou Yuen?" he
demanded. "I can't desert her here, in America, leave her with William. I
brought her thousands of miles away from her home, from all she knows and
is. If I took her back and dropped her in China it would be murder."

An expression of unalloyed dreariness overspread Nettie's features. "I
wish I had been killed right out," she said. The starkness of the words,
of the reality they spoke, flowed over him like icy water; he felt that
he was sinking, strangling, in a sea grimmer than any about Cape Horn. He
was continually appalled by the realization that there was no escape, no
smallest glimmer, leading from the pit into which they had stumbled. He
had the sensation of wanting enormously to go with Nettie but was fast in
chains that were locked on him by a power greater than his will.

"It's no good," his voice was flat.

"I don't believe I'll see you again," Nettie articulated; "now the
_Nautilus_ is near ready to sail. I can't stand it," she sobbed; "that
last time you went out the harbor just about ended me, but this is worse,
worse, worse. I'll--I'll take all the opium."

"No, you won't," he asserted, standing, confident that her spirit was too
normal, too vitally healthy, for that. His gaze wandered about the room:
her clothes were neatly piled and covered by a skirt on a chair; the
mirror on her chest of drawers was broken, a corner missing; there was a
total absence of the delicate toilet adjuncts of Rhoda and Taou
Yuen--only a small paper of powder, a comb and brush, and the washstand
with a couple of coarse towels. What dresses she had were hung behind a
ridiculously inadequate drapery. She had so little with which to
accomplish what, for a girl, was so much.

His emotion had retreated, leaving him dull-eyed, heavy of movement. The
moment had come for his departure. Gerrit stood by the bed. Nettie turned
away from him, her face was buried in the pillow, the uppermost free
shoulder shook. "Good-by," he said. There was no answer and he patiently
repeated the short tragic phrase. Still there was no sound from Nettie.
There would be none. Even the impulse to touch her had died--died, he
thought, with a great many feelings and hopes he once had. A fleet
surprise invaded him at the absence of any impulse now to protest or
indulge in wild passionate terms; he was surprised, too, at the fact that
he was about to leave Nettie. The whole termination of the affair was
bathed in an atmosphere of stale calm, like the air in a ship's hold.

Gerrit Ammidon gazed steadily at her averted head, at the generous line
of her body under the coverlet; then, neither hasty nor hesitating in his
walk, he left the room. Kate Vollar met him at the foot of the stair.
"You understood," she said, "that I only bothered you because your
father... because I was so put on?"

"You were quite right," he replied in a measured voice; "it will all be
attended to. With the agreement I mentioned."

"How they'll take it I don't know."

"In some positions," he told her, "certain persons are without any
choice. The facts are too great for them. I said nothing to Nettie of
Edward Dunsack's reason for my coming," he added significantly. Out in
the street he stopped, facing toward Java Head and evening; but, with a
quiver of his lips, the vertical bitter line between his drawn brows,
he turned and marched slowly, his head sunk, to where the _Nautilus_
was berthed.




IX

Seated in the library, placidly waiting for Edward Dunsack to go, Taou
Yuen studied him briefly. A long or thoughtful survey was unnecessary:
the opium was rapidly mastering him. That fact absorbed all the rest. She
had an immeasurable contempt for such physical and moral weakness; all
the three religions fused in her overwhelmingly condemned
self-indulgence; her philosophy, the practical side of Lao-tze's
teaching, emphasized the utter futility of surrender to the five senses.
At the same time he was the subject of some interest: he was an American
who had lived in China, and not only on the fringe of the treaty
ports--he had penetrated to some extent into the spirit, the life, of
things Chinese; while she, Taou Yuen, was amazingly married to Gerrit
Ammidon, was a Manchu here, in America.

Absolutely immobile, her hands folded in her lap, she considered these
facts, each in relation to the other: there was wisdom hidden in them for
her. If Mr. Dunsack had retained the ordinary blustering Western
commercial mind, his knowledge of China confined to the tea houses and
streets, he would probably be prosperous and strong to-day. The wisdom
lay in this--that here she must remain Manchu, Chinese; any attempt to
become a part of this incomprehensible country, any effort to involve
herself in its mysterious acts or thought, would be disastrous. She must
remain calm, unassertive, let the eternal Tao take its way.

Edward Dunsack looked actually comic: he was staring rudely, with a
foolish air of flattery, and breathing in labored gasps--like a coolie
who had run miles with a heavy palanquin. Then her mind, hardly reacting
from immediate objects, returned to the contemplation of the deeper
significance of her presence here. Bent in on itself her thought twisted
like a moonflower vine about the solid fact of Gerrit. She realized, of
course, that he must have had the past of any healthy honorable man of
his age, and that it would have included at least one woman. However,
when even the present was an almost complete puzzle his past had been so
lost to her that she had not considered it until now.

"You must overlook my unceremonious speech," Edward Dunsack proceeded in
creditable Chinese. "It was clumsy, but I was deeply affected. It is my
niece, you see, who was hurt, and who has a very sad history. Then there
are some special circumstances. I'd have to explain a great deal before
you could understand why she sent for your husband and why he left so
hurriedly."

"There is nothing you need tell me," Taou Yuen replied in her slow
careful English. "Manchu eyes can see as well as American."

"A thousand times better." He, too, returned to his native speech. "It is
delightful to talk to a truly civilized being. All that would have to be
shouted at the women of Salem is unnecessary now. You see--you understand
the heart of a man."

"I understand you," she said impersonally.

"I wonder if you do," he speculated. "You ought to see what--how much--I
think of you. My brain holds nothing else," he declared in a low intense
voice, drawing nearer to her.

She had a momentary, purely feminine shrinking from his emaciated shaking
frame, the burning eyes in a face dead like a citron; then her placidity
returned, the assurance that it was all ordained, that his gestures, the
pumping of his diseased heart, had no more individual significance than
the movements of a mechanical figure operated by strings, here the
strings of supreme Fate. She even smiled slightly, a smile not the mark
of approval or humor, but an expression of absolute composure. It drove
him at once into febrile excitement.

"At least I understand you," he cried; "far more than you suppose! You
can't impress me with your air of a Gautama. I know the freedom of your
country. It doesn't shock you to realize that your husband has gone to
see a woman he loved, perhaps loves still, and you are not disturbed at
my speaking like this."

Here, she knew, regarding him no more than a shrilling locust, was the
center about which for a moment blindly her thoughts of Gerrit and
herself had revolved. His past--"a woman he loved." But it didn't in the
least upset her present peace of mind, her confidence in Gerrit. There
was a sharp distinction between the eternal, the divine, Tao, that which
is and must prevail, and the personal Tao, subject to rebellion and all
the evil of Yin; and she felt that her husband's Tao was good. Out of
this she remarked negligently:

"After all, you are more ignorant of China than I thought. But, of
course, you saw only the common and low side. You have not heard of the
books girls are taught from--'The Sacred Edict' and 'Mirror of the
Heart.' You don't know even the first rule of 'The Book of Rites,' 'Let
your face and attitude be grave and thoughtful,' and the second, 'Let
your steps be deliberate and regular.'" She paused, conveying by her
manner that he was already vanishing and that she was relieved.

"That would do well enough if you were a scholar, or a bonze," he
retorted; "but such innocence in a fashionable woman is a pretense. If
you are so pure how can you explain your gold and bracelets and pins,
all the marks of your worldly rank? Lao-tze taught, 'Rich and high but
proud brings about its own misfortune.'" He was so close to her now that
she caught a faint sickly reek from his body. It seemed to her that she
could see his identity, his reason, vanish, replaced by madness in his
staring eyes.

"I worship you," he murmured.

"Opium," she spoke disdainfully.

"Your own tobacco is drugged," he asserted. "But that's not important. I
tell you I worship you, the most beautiful person in the world. These
fools in Salem, even your husband, can't realize one-tenth of your
perfection; they can't venerate you as I do. And now that Ammidon has
gone back to the first, we are free too."

"You are a liar," she said with an unexpected colloquial ease.

A darker color stained his dry cheeks. "You saw him," he replied. "Did
he get pale or didn't he? And did he or not rush from the room like a
man in a fever? I tell you it's no use pretending with me; say what you
please I know how delicate your senses are. I'll tell you this too: It's
written in our progression that we should meet here, yes, and be a great
deal to each other. It was written in the beginning, and we had been
drawing together through a million cycles before Gerrit Ammidon stumbled
across you."

Taou Yuen was surprised by a sudden conviction that a part of this, at
least, was so. No living thing, however minute, escaped from the
weariness of movement, either ending in final and blessed suspension or
condemned to struggle on and on through countless lives of tormenting
passion. All had this dignity of hope or despair; all she encountered
were humble, impressive or debased in the working of the mighty law. She
had been guilty, as this American had pointed out, of dangerous and wrong
pride, and she accepted her lesson willingly. There was, however, an
annoying conflict between Edward Dunsack, the example, the impersonal,
and Edward Dunsack making violent profession of his unspeakable desire
for her. Even the word seemed to soil her; but there was no other. He
went recklessly on, trying to increase his advantage:

"We're made to be together."

"If we are it is because of some great wickedness of mine. If we are,
then perhaps I am lost. But it is allowed to resist evil, at least, as
far as staying out of its touch is resistance."

"Nothing can keep you from me," he declared. Another short step and his
knees would be brushing her gown. A stronger wave of dislike, shrinking,
anger, drowned her logical and higher resignation. "It is time for you to
go," she said, her voice still even.

"Never."

It seemed to her that she could feel his hot quivering touch and, all her
philosophy dropping from her, she rose quickly. "If this were China," she
told him, in a cold fury, "you'd be cut up with knives, in the court-yard
where I could look on. But even here I can ring for a servant; and when
Captain Ammidon comes back he'll know what to say to you."

She could see that the last affected him; he hesitated, drew back, his
hanging fingers clasping and unclasping. That, she thought, relieved,
would dispose of him. Then it was clear that his insanity persisted
even in the face of the considerable threat of Gerrit's hot pride and
violent tempers.

"It's our destiny," he repeated firmly in his borrowed faith, at once a
little terrifying and a little ridiculous in the alien mold. His lips
twitched and his bony forehead glistened in a fine sweat. Now, thoroughly
roused, she laughed at him in open contempt.

"Diseased," she cried, "take your sores away! Dog licked by dogs. Bowl
of filth," she was speaking in Chinese, in words of one syllable like
the biting of a hair whip. Edward Dunsack gasped, as if actual blows
cut him; he stood with one hand half raised, appalled at the sudden
vicious rush of her anger. A leaden pallor took the place of his normal
sallow coloring, and it was evident that he had difficulty in
withstanding the pressure of his laboring heart. He stood between her
and the door and she had a premonition that it would be useless to
attempt to avoid him or escape. She could, however, call, and some one,
there were a score of people about the house, must certainly appear. At
that moment she saw a deep change sweep over his countenance, taking
place in his every fiber. There was an inner wrenching of Edward
Dunsack's being, a blurring and infusion of blood in his eyes, a breath
longer and more agonized than any before, and she was looking closely
into the face of an overwhelming hatred.

For a moment, she realized, he had even considered killing her with his
flickering hands. Then that impulse subsided before a sidelong expression
of cunning. "With all your Manchu attitudes," he mocked her, "yes, your
aristocratic pretense of mourning and marks of rank, you are no different
from the little pleasure girls. Your vocabulary and mind are the same. I
was a fool for a while; I saw nothing but your satins and painted face. I
forgot you were yellow, I had forgotten that all China's yellow. It's
yellow, yellow, yellow and never can be white. I shut my eyes to it and
it dragged me down into its slime." His voice was hysterical with an
agony of rending spiritual torment and hopeless grief. "It poisoned me
little by little, with the smell of its rivers and the cursed smell of
its pleasures. Then the opium. A year after I had lost my position,
everything; and when I came over here it followed me ... in my own blood.
Even then I might have broken away, I almost had, when Gerrit Ammidon
brought you to Salem. You came at a time when I was fighting hardest to
throw it all off. You see--you fascinated me. You were all that was most
alluring of China, and I wanted you so badly, it all came back so, that I
went to the opium to find you."

"Progression," she said ironically.

"Perhaps," he muttered. "Who knows? I'm finished for this life anyhow.
You did that. I can't even keep the books for my father's penny trade."

His hands crept rigidly toward her. If they touched her she would be
degraded for ever. Yet she was incapable of flight, her throat refused
the cry which she had been debating; alternate waves of revulsion and
stoical resignation passed over her with chills of acute terror. Yet she
managed to preserve an unstirred exterior; and that, she observed, began
to influence him. His loathing was as great as ever; but his vision, that
had been fixed in a blaze of fury, broke, avoided her direct scrutiny,
her appearance of statue-like unconcern.

There was a sound of quick light feet in the hall, the bright voice of
one of Gerrit's nieces. Edward Dunsack fell into a profound abstraction:
he turned and walked away from her, standing with his back to the room at
a window that opened upon the broad green park. He was so weak that he
was forced to support himself with a hand on the wall.

Taou Yuen was motionless for a perceptible space, and then moved toward
the door in a dignified composure. All this had come from the utter
impropriety of the life in America. Dunsack glanced at her as she
withdrew, and for a moment she saw his fine profile sharp and dark
against the light-flooded window. His lips stirred but she heard no
sound. Then she was on the stair mounting to her room.

There mechanically she filled her pipe; but doing this she noticed that
her hands were trembling. How lamentably she had failed in the
preservation, the assertion, of her superiority, not as a Manchu, but in
the deeper, the only true sense of the word--in submission.

"Requite hatred with virtue."

She spoke Lao-tze's admonition aloud and, in the customary devious
channel of her mental processes, her thoughts returned to her early life,
her girlhood, so marred by sickness that the Emperor had surrendered his
customary proprietary right in the daughters of Manchu nobles.

Surrounding the fact of her early suffering, which had kept her out of
the active gayety of brothers and sisters, she remembered in the clearest
detail her father's house in the north; the later residences in Canton
and Shanghai, even the delightful river gardens of the summer place at
Soochow, were less vivid. Inside the massive tiled stone wall the
rooms--there were a hundred at least--faced in squares on the inner
courtyard, and were connected by glass enclosed verandas. The reception
houses of the front court, the deeply carved wooden platform with its
scarlet covering, were of the greatest elegance; they were always astir
with the numerous secretaries, the Chinese writers and messengers, the
_mafoos_ and chair coolies, the servants and blind musicians with the old
songs, _The Millet's in Flower_ and _Kuan Kuan Go to the Ospreys_. The
side door to the women's apartments, however, opened into a retreat,
where her father's concubine, he had but one, trailed like a bird of
paradise, and there was the constant musical drip of a fountain in an old
granite basin. There, during the years when she was lame, Taou Yuen
mostly stayed.

She had been dropped from a palanquin in her sixth year; sharp
pains soon after burned in her hip, and the corresponding leg had
perceptibly shortened. A great many remedies were tried in vain--burning
with charcoal, the application of black plasters, sweating,
acupuncture--sticking long needles into the afflicted part. The doctors
declared that the five elements of her body--the metal, wood, water, fire
and earth, were hopelessly out of equilibrium. Her mother had then called
necromancers and devil charmers; lucky and unlucky days were explored;
strange rites were conducted before her terrified eyes screwed into the
determination to show no alarm.

A year, perhaps, after they had become resigned to her injury, her
father, always a man of the most liberal ideas, had suddenly brought into
the garden to see her an English doctor passing through China. Against
the wailing protests of the women the Englishman had been given authority
to treat her; and he had caused to be made a thin steel brace, clasping
Taou Yuen's waist and extending in a rigid band down the length of her
injured leg. After putting a high shoe on her other foot he had commanded
them to keep the brace on her for two years.

It was through that period of comparative inactivity that she acquired a
habit of reading and thought, a certain grasp of philosophical attitude,
common to the higher masculine Chinese mind but rare among their women.
She had, for instance, later, read Laotze's Tao-teh-king, and been
impressed by his tranquil elevation above the petty ills and concerns of
life and the flesh. Her father, like all the ruling class, regarded
Taoism--which had, indeed, degenerated into a mass of nonsense about the
transmutation of base metals into gold and the elixir of life--with
contempt. But this seemed to her no depreciation of the Greatly Eminent
One or his philosophy of the two Taoes.

The household, or at least the family, worshipped in the form of
Confucius; his precepts and admonitions, the sacred _hiao_ or filial
submission, the tablets and ancestral piety, were a part of her blood; as
was the infinitely fainter infusion of Buddhism; yet in her intellectual
brooding it was to the Tao-teh-king that she returned. She paused to
recall that, the brace at last removed, she was practically completely
recovered; but the bent, the bracing, given her mind had remained.

The colorful pageant of her first marriage, the smaller but splendidly
appointed house of her husband--he was extremely intelligent and had
honorably passed the examination for licentiate, one of only two hundred
successful bachelors out of twenty thousand--and the period following his
accidental drowning wheeled quickly through her brain....

Only Gerrit Ammidon was left.

She loved him, Taou Yuen realized, for a quality entirely independent of
race: he had more than anyone else she knew the virtues of simplicity and
purity announced by Chwang-Tze as the marks of the True Man. "We must
become like little children," the Old Master had written. She had seen
this at once in the amazing interview sanctioned by her father-in-law.
Most women of her class, even widows, would have perished with shame at
being exposed to a foreigner. But Lu Kikwang had expressed her difference
from them in the terms of his proposal. His words had been "finely
better" although the truth was that her curiosity had always mastered the
other and more prudent instincts. Yet that alone would not have
prostrated her before Gerrit Ammidon--death was not unthinkable--nor
carried her into his strange terrifying ship and stranger life. The love
had been born almost simultaneously with her first recognition of his
character. Now her passion for him was close and jealous. A constant
shifting between such humanity and the calm detachment which prefigured
heaven was what most convinced her of the truths of Lao-tze.

All this took body at the announcement of Edward Dunsack about Gerrit and
his niece. Certainly he might have had an affair; that she dismissed; but
the insinuated permanence of this other affection was serious. She would
not have believed Mr. Dunsack for an instant, but, as he had pointed out,
Gerrit had undoubtedly been upset; he had turned pale and hurried away
impolitely. It was by such apparently slight indications that the great
inner currents of life were discovered. The fact that Chinese officials
had more than one wife, or, to speak correctly, concubines in addition,
had no bearing with Gerrit; such was not the custom with American men. It
represented for him, yes--dishonor.

She laboriously recalled his every attitude since they had landed in
America, and was obliged to admit that he had changed--he was less gay
and though his manner was always considerate she recognized a growing
impatience beneath his darker calm. Her philosophy was again torn in
shreds by sharp feminine emotions. She was filled with jealousy and
hatred and hurt pride. The clearest expression of his possible discontent
had marked his face when he had suddenly come into their room and saw her
rising from a prayer for his father. Gerrit's lips had been compressed,
almost disdainful; at that moment, she knew unerringly, he found her
ugly. Of course it had been the hideous garments of mourning.

She must wear the unhemmed sackcloth and dull slippers, bind her
headdress and cover her pins with paste, for a hundred days; and then
a second mourning of black or dark blue, and no flowers, for three
years. It might well be that by then Gerrit, blind to these
proprieties, would find her unendurable. Suddenly, in the tremendous
difficulty of holding him against an entire world, his own and of
which she was supremely ignorant, it seemed to her that she needed
every possible means, every coral blossom and gold filament and finger
of paint, the cunning intoxication of subtle dress and color and
perfume. With a leaden sense of guilt, but in a fever of impatience,
of haste, she stripped off the coarse hemp for her most elaborate
satins, her santal and clover and carmine.

When Gerrit came in it had grown dark with night, and he explained that
he had been busy inspecting the _Nautilus'_ spars. She lighted a lamp,
then another, all she could find, and studied him unobtrusively. She was
shocked at the worn expression of his face; it seemed as if he had aged
in the few hours since he had left the library. He was uneasy, silent;
and, secretly dismayed, she saw that he was indifferent to her changed
appearance, too. Taou Yuen debated the wisdom of telling him about the
painful scene with Edward Dunsack; against her original intent she
decided in the negative. She informed herself that the reason for this
was a wish to preserve him, now that they were practically at the day of
departure, from an unpleasant duty. But there was an underlying dimly
apprehended and far different motive: she was afraid that it would blow
into flame a situation that might otherwise be avoided, bring to life a
past naturally dying or dead.

She saw that he was scarcely aware of her presence in the room, perhaps
in his life. A period of resentment followed. "You are dull," she
declared, "and I am going down to the garden for entertainment." Gerrit
nodded. He would, he told her, be along shortly. Below she found Roger
Brevard, with the oldest Ammidon girl and her mother.

Roger Brevard, she had discovered, was in love with Sidsall. The latter,
it developed, was to leave shortly for a party; Mr. Brevard was not
going; and, when Gerrit's sister-in-law walked across the grass with her
daughter the man dropped into an easy conversation with Taou Yuen. She
had a feeling, which she had tried in vain to lose, of the vulgarity, the
impropriety of this. Yet she recognized that there was none of the former
in Roger Brevard; he resembled quite a little her dead husband,
Sie-Ngan-kwan; and for that reason she was more at ease with him--in
spite of such unaccustomed familiarity--than with anyone else in Salem
but Gerrit.

He was, she admitted condescendingly, almost as cultivated as the
ordinary Chinese gentleman. Many of his thoughts, where she could
understand their expression, might have come from a study of the sacred
kings. At the same time her feminine perception realized that he had a
genuine liking for her.

"You'll be delighted to leave Salem," he said, leaning forward and
studying her.

"That would not be polite," she answered formally. "You have been so
good. But it will give me pleasure to see Shanghai again. Anyone is
happier with customs he understands."

"And prefers," he added. "Indeed, I'd choose some of your manners rather
than ours. You see, you have been at the business of civilization so much
longer than the rest of us."

"Our history begins two thousand years before your Christ," she told him;
"our language has been spoken without change for thirty-three centuries,
as you call them. But such facts are nothing. I would rather hear your
non--nonsense," she stumbled over the word.

"Do you mean that what we call nonsense is really the most important?"

"Perhaps," she replied. "Devotion to the old and dead is greatly
necessary yet you smile at it. I didn't mean that, but moons and lovers
and music." He cried in protest, "We're terribly serious about those!"

"I hear nothing but talk about cargoes and sales and money."

"We keep the other under our hats," he instructed her. She was completely
mystified, and he explained.

"In China," she remarked tentatively, "it is possible for a man to love
two women at once, maybe one a little more than the other, but he can be
kind and just and affectionate to them both. Tell me, is--is that
possible with an American?"

"No!" he spoke emphatically. "We can love, in the way you mean, only one,
perhaps only once. I wouldn't swear to that, but there are simply no
exceptions to the first. Men are unfaithful, yes; but at a cost to
themselves, or because they are incapable of restraint. To be unfaithful
in anything is to fail, isn't it? You can lie to yourself as effectively
as to anybody else."

She fixed a painful attention upon him, but lost at least a half of his
meaning. However, one fact was clearer than ever--that Edward Dunsack had
said an evil thing about her husband. "It seems," he went on, "that even
spiritual concerns can be the result of long custom." If he was trying to
find an excuse for Chinese habit she immediately disposed of it. "No,"
she said, "you are upside down. The spirit is first, the eternal Tao,
everywhere alike, but the personal spirit is different in you and in us."

A sudden dejection seized her--now the difference seemed vaster than
anything she had in common with Gerrit. A wave of oppressive nostalgia,
of confusion and dread, submerged her in a faintly thunderous darkness.
She felt everywhere about her the presence of evil and threatening
shades. The approach of her husband, his heavy settling into a chair, did
nothing to lighten her apprehension.

"How soon do we go?" she asked faintly.

"In two weeks, with nothing unexpected," he responded without interest or
pleasure. It flashed through her mind that he was depressed at leaving
Salem, that other woman. His present indifference was very far from the
manner in which he had first discussed their leaving. Yet, even that, she
recalled in the light of her present sensitiveness, had been unnaturally
abrupt and clothed in a great many loud-sounding words. She told herself
arbitrarily that Edward Dunsack had lied--for the purpose which his
conduct afterward made clear--but her very feeling was proof that she
believed he had spoken the truth.

She was a victim of an uneasy curiosity to see... she made a violent
mental effort and recaptured the name--Nettie Vollar. Of course the
latter had been the deliberate cause of whatever wickedness had
threatened at the return of Gerrit with her, Taou Yuen. She had however
no doubt of the extent of this: Gerrit was upright, faithful to the
necessity Roger Brevard had explained; all that assaulted her happiness
was on an incorporate plane, or, anyhow, in a procession of consequences
extending far back and forward of their present lives.

But, she recognized, she had no excuse nor opportunity to see Nettie
Vollar. Mrs. Ammidon, when she heard of the accident, had at once
declared her intention of going to the Dunsacks' house; still that
promised no chance of satisfying her own desire. The least politeness in
the world prohibited her from going baldly in and demanding to see the
woman. She couldn't, all at once, make convincing a sympathy or
impersonal interest entirely contradictory to her insistent indifference.
The best she could hope was for them to sail away as quickly as possible;
when on the other side of the seas Gerrit would probably return to the
simplicity of being she had adored.

Then a trivial and yet serious fear occurred to her--perhaps here, among
all these dead-white women, he no longer held her beautiful. The word was
his own, or it had been his; he had not repeated it, she realized, twice
since they had been in Salem. Personally, she found the American women
entirely undistinguished and dressed in grotesquely ugly and cheap
clothes--not unlike paper lanterns bobbing along the ground. Their faces
were shamelessly bare of paint and their manners would have disgraced the
lowest servant in a Chinese courtyard. This was natural, from any
consideration of the hideous or inappropriate things that surrounded
them, and from the complete lack of what she could distinguish as either
discipline or reverence. Yet Gerrit, a part of this, would be unable to
share her attitude; she had heard him praise the appearance of women so
insipid that she had turned expecting vainly an ironic smile.

Roger Brevard rose and made his bow, the only satisfactory approach to a
courteous gesture she had met outside Gerrit's occasional half-humorous
effort since leaving Shanghai. He stirred, muttered a perfunctory phrase,
and sank back into obscurity.

Little quirks of unfamiliar disturbing feeling ran through Taou Yuen; her
mind, it seemed, had become a thing of no importance; all that at one
time had so largely ordered her life was superseded by these illogical
emotions spreading apparently from her heart. The truth was, she told
herself, that--with all her reading and philosophy--she had had little or
no experience of actuality: the injury to her hip and quiet life in the
gray garden at Canton, her protected existence in the women's apartments,
whatever she might have learned from them neglected because of the
general silliness of their chatter, the formal early marriage, had all
combined for the preservation of her ignorance.

She regarded herself now with distrust; nothing could have been more
unpleasant than the failure of her will, this swamping of her equanimity.
She never lost for a moment the image of superiority that should be her
perfect example, the non-assertion that was the way of heaven; but her
comprehension was like a figure ruthlessly dragged about by an
overpowering unreflective force. A sharp hatred of Nettie Vollar seared
her mind and perished in a miserable sense of weakness.

Against the dark, charged with a confusion of the ten thousand things,
she stared wearily and wakeful. She reminded herself again that Gerrit
would soon be gone from Salem, alone with her on the long voyage to
China; but he'd return to America, come back to Salem; and she knew that
he would never bring her westward again. A period of depression followed
which seemed to have no immediate connection with Gerrit; she had an
indefinable feeling of struggling in vain against adversity, of
opposition to an implacable power.

For a short while after she rose in the morning it appeared that she had
regained her self-control, her reason; and a consequent happy relief
irradiated her. But when Gerrit came up after she had finished her toilet
and she saw, from his haggard face, that he too must have been awake,
tormented, through the night, a passion of bitterness enveloped her at
which all that had gone before turned pale. She could scarcely restrain
herself from a noisy wailing accusation, and stood regarding him with a
tense unnatural grimace, the result of her effort to preserve propriety.
She told herself, at the tempest of vulgar phrases storming through her
consciousness, that what Edward Dunsack had said about her being no
better than the tea house girls was true, and she was aghast at the inner
treachery capable of such self-betrayal. Not a quivering word, however,
escaped; she managed a commonplace phrase and turned aside in a trivial
pretext of occupation.

"I am going into Boston with Captain Dunsack on business connected with
his schooners." The girl's grandfather! "Very well." She spoke placidly,
and with a tempestuous heart watched him stride quickly about the park.

She settled herself in a long motionless contemplation, fastening her
mind upon the most elevated and revered ideas conceivable. She saw the
eternal Tao flowing like a great green river of souls, smooth and mighty
and resistless; and she willed that she too might become a part of that
desirable self-effacement, safe in surrender. Men striving to create a
Tao for personal ends beat out their lives in vain. It was the figure of
the river developing, like floating on a deliberate all-powerful tide or
struggling impotently against it.

Later a message came up from Mrs. Ammidon--she hoped that Taou Yuen would
drive with her that afternoon. She dressed with the most particular care,
in blue and dark greens, her shoulders thick with embroidered garlands
and silver _shou_, her piled hair ornamented in glittering silver leaves
and garnets.

She went down when she heard the horses on the street below but the
barouche was empty except for the coachman. "Mrs. Ammidon left a half
hour ago," a servant told her; "and sent the carriage back for you." They
moved forward, going, she saw, into a part of the town where they seldom
drove--the narrow crowded way by the wharves--and, turning shortly into a
street that ended abruptly at the water, drew up before a dingy house on
her right.

The door was open, and they waited, confident that Mrs. Ammidon would
hear the clatter of hoofs and come out; but a far different appeared. She
gazed for a silent space at Taou Yuen seated above her, as if confused by
the glittering magnificence. It was probable that Gerrit's brother's wife
had come there on an errand of charity for the woman was poor, dingy like
the house, with a face drawn by suffering and material struggle.

"Of course you're Captain Ammidon's wife," she said; "and you are here
after Mrs. William Ammidon. Well, she's gone; but she left a message for
you. She will be at Henry Whipple's, the bookseller. After she saw Nettie
she went right off to send her some things; wouldn't wait for the
carriage. A kind-hearted determined body."

Taou Yuen leaned out to command the coachman to drive on; but the other,
plainly bent on making the most of a rare opportunity for such a
conversation, continued talking in her low resigned way.

"I was glad to have her too; Nettie gets pretty fretful up there with
nobody but me, really. She hasn't been so well, either, since--" here she
stopped abruptly, recommenced. "I like to see a person myself of Mrs.
Ammidon's kind. I've been alone all day; father's gone to Boston and
Edward away I don't know where."

Taou Yuen's curiosity to see Nettie Vollar returned infinitely
multiplied; here, miraculously, was an opportunity for her to study the
woman who was beyond any doubt an important part of Gerrit's past,
present--it might be, his future. The men were gone. ... She got
resolutely down from the barouche. "Take me up to your daughter," she
directed quietly.

"Why, that's very kind, but I don't know--Yes, certainly. Mind
these stairs with your satin skirt; I don't always get around to
the whole house."

Taou Yuen saw at once that Nettie Vollar was far sicker than she had
realized: her head lay on the pillow absolutely spent, her brow damply
plastered with hair and her eyes enlarged and dull. Taou Yuen drew a
chair forward and sat beside a table with a glass bowl of small dark
pills which from a just perceptible odor she recognized as opium. She
looked intently, coldly, at the prostrate figure. A flush like match
flames burned in Nettie Vollar's cheeks, and she said in a voice at once
weak and sharp:

"You're her!"

Taou Yuen nodded slowly, disdainfully.

"Oh, how could he!" the other exclaimed in what sounded like the thin
echo of a passionate cry. "I knew you were Chinese, but I never realized
it till this minute."

As Gerrit Ammidon's wife had feared she was totally unable to judge a
single quality or feature of the girl before her. She looked exactly like
all the others she had seen in Salem: in order to realize her she needed
Gerrit's eyes, Gerrit's birth. Then one fact crept insidiously into her
consciousness--here, in a way, was another being who had Gerrit Ammidon's
childlike simplicity. That was the most terrifying discovery she could
have made. Taou Yuen felt the return of the hateful irresistible emotions
which had destroyed her self-control. She wanted to hurt Nettie Vollar in
every possible way, to mock her with the fact that she had lost Gerrit
perhaps never to see him again; she wanted to tell her that she, Taou
Yuen, entirely understood her hopes, efforts, and that they were vain.

An utter self-loathing possessed her at the same time, a feeling of
imminent danger as if she were walking with willfully shut eyes on the
edge of a precipice above a black fatal void. Not a trace of this
appeared on her schooled countenance; and once more she completely
restrained any defiling speech. She deliberately shifted her point of
view to another possible aspect of all that confronted her--it might be
that this woman was a specter, a _kwei_, bent on Gerrit's destruction.
Such a thing often happened. How much better if Nettie Vollar had been
killed! She studied her with a renewed interest--a fresh question.
Perhaps the other would die as it was. She was extremely weak; her
spirit, Taou Yuen saw, lay listlessly in a listless body. Nettie Vollar
slightly moved her injured arm, and that little effort exhausted her for
a moment; her eyes closed, her face was as white as salt.

A further, almost philosophical, consideration engaged Taou Yuen's
mind--this extraordinary occasion, her being with the other alone, Nettie
Vollar's fragility, were, it might be, all a part of the working of the
righteous _Yang_. In the light of this, then, she had been brought here
for a purpose ... the ending of a menace to her husband. She hesitated
for a breath--if it were the opposite malignant _Yin_ there was no bottom
to the infamy into which she might fall. It was a tremendous question.

The actual execution of the practical suggestion, from either source, was
extremely easy; she had but to lean forward, draw her heavy sleeve across
the strained face, hold it there for a little, and Nettie Vollar would
have died of--of any one of a number of reasonable causes. She, Taou
Yuen, would call, politely distressed, for the mother ... very
regrettable.

Gerrit free--

Perhaps.

She had no shrinking from the act itself, nothing that might have been
called pity, a few more or less years in a single life were beneath
serious consideration; it was the lives to come, the lingering doubt of
which power led her on, which restrained and filled her mind. A flicker
of rage darted through her calm questioning; her mental processes again
faded. With her right arm across the supine body and enveloping the face
in her left sleeve a single twist and Nettie Vollar would choke in a
cloud of thick satin made gay with unfading flowers and the embroidered
symbol of long life. She felt her body grow rigid with purpose when the
sound of a footfall below held her motionless in an unreasoning dread.

It was not heavy, yet she was certain that it was not the woman's. A blur
of voices drifted up to her, the dejected feminine tone and a thin
querulous demand, surprise. Taou Yuen turned cold as stone: the sensation
of oppressive danger increased until it seemed as if she, and not Nettie
Vollar, were strangling. There was a profound stillness, then a shuffling
tread on the stair, and Edward Dunsack entered, entered but stood without
advancing, his back against a closed door.

Even since yesterday he had noticeably wasted, there were muscles of his
face that twitched continuously; his hands, it seemed to her, writhed
like worms. He said nothing, but stared at her with a fixed glittering
vision; all his one time worship--it had been so much--was devoured in
the hatred born in the Ammidon library. Frozen with apprehension she sat
without movement; her face, she felt, as still as a lacquered mask.

To her astonishment--she had forgotten Nettie Vollar's existence--a
shaken voice from the bed demanded:

"Uncle Edward, what's come over you! Don't you see Mrs. Ammidon! Oh--"
her speech rose in a choked exclamation. Edward Dunsack had turned the
key and was crossing the room with a dark twisted face, his eyes stark
and demented. Taou Yuen, swung round toward the advancing figure, heard a
long fluttering breath behind her. Perhaps Nettie Vollar had died of
fright. The terror in her own brain dried up before an overwhelming
realization--she had betrayed herself to the principle of evil. She was
lost. Her thoughts were at once incredibly rapid and entirely vivid,
logical: Edward Dunsack, ruined, in China; herself blinded, confused,
destroyed in America. Yesterday she had held him powerless with the mere
potency of her righteousness; but now she had no strength.

There was a loathsome murmur from his dusty lips. He intended to kill
her, to mar and spoil her throat, a degradation forbidden by Confucius,
an eternal disfigurement. This filled her with a renewed energy of
horror.... Here there was none but a feeble woman to hear her if she
called. She rose mechanically, a hand on the table; Taou Yuen saw Nettie
Vollar's deathly pallid face rolled awkwardly from the pillow, and the
bowl of opium. There were twenty or more pills. Without hesitation, even
with a sense of relief, she swept the contents of the bowl into her palm.
The effort of swallowing so many hard particles was almost convulsive and
followed with a nauseous spasm.

Exhausted by mental effort she sank into a chair and a dullness like
smoke settled over her. The figure of Edward Dunsack retreated to an
infinite distance. The smoke moved in a great steady volume--the eternal
and changeless Tao, without labor or desires, without.... Hatred requited
with virtue ... attracting all honor--mounting higher and higher from the
consuming passions, the seething black lives of her immeasurable fall.




X

Although the late afternoon was at an hour when Derby Street should have
been filled by a half-idle throng in the slackening of the day's
waterside employments Roger Brevard found it noticeably empty. In this he
suddenly recognized that the street was like the countingroom of the
Mongolian Marine Insurance Company, the heart of Salem's greatness--they
were weaker, stilled in a decline that yet was not evident in the
impressive body of the town.

When he had first taken charge of this branch both Salem and it had been
of sufficient moment to attract him from New York; the company was
insuring Boston and New York vessels; the captains had thronged its broad
window commanding St. Peters and Essex Streets. Now only an occasional
shipmaster, holding the old traditions and habits or else retired, sat in
the comfortable armchairs with leather cushions drawn up at the coal
hearth or expansive in white through the summer.

His mind shifted to a consideration of these facts in relation to
himself--whether the same thing overtaking the place and marine insurance
had not settled upon him too--as he made his way from Central Wharf,
where he had vainly gone for prospective business. His inquiry was
reaching a depressing certainty when, passing and gazing down Hardy
Street, he saw the Ammidon barouche standing in front of the Dunsacks'.

Roger Brevard stopped: the Ammidon men, he knew, seldom drove about
Salem. He had heard of Nettie Vollar's accident and came to the
conclusion that Rhoda was within. If this were so, her visit, limited to
a charitable impulse, would be short; and thinking of the pleasure of
driving with her he turned into the side way. As he approached, the
coachman met him with an evident impatience.

"No, sir," he replied to Brevard's inquiry. "But we were to get Mrs.
Ammidon at the bookstore. Mrs. Captain Gerrit called here for her, but
she went inside unexpected. All of an hour ago. I don't like to ask for
the lady, but what may be said later I can't think."

He had scarcely finished speaking when a woman whom Brevard recognized
as Kate Vollar appeared at the door. "Oh, Mr. Brevard!" she exclaimed
with an unnaturally pallid and apprehensive face. "I'm glad to find
you. Please come upstairs with me. Why I don't know but I'm all in a
tremble. Mrs. Ammidon went to see Nettie, then Edward came in, and when
he heard who was there he acted as if he were struck dumb and went up
like a person afflicted. I waited the longest while and then followed
them and knocked. Why the door was shut I'd never tell you. But they
didn't answer, any of them," she declared with clasped straining hands.
"Three in the room and not a sound. Please--" her voice was suddenly
suffocated by dread.

"Certainly. Quarles," he addressed the coachman, "I'll get you to come
along. If there is a lock to break it will need a heavier shoulder
than mine."

Mounting the narrow somber stair, followed by the man and Kate Vollar, he
wondered vainly what might have happened. Obscurely some of the woman's
fear was communicated to him. Brevard knocked abruptly on the door
indicated but there was no answering voice or movement. He tried the
latch: as Nettie's mother had found, it was fastened.

"Quarles," Roger Brevard said curtly.

The coachman stepped forward, braced himself for the shove he directed
against the wooden barrier, and the door swept splintering inward. Roger
advanced first and a grim confusion touched him with cold horror. Taou
Yuen was half seated and half lying across a table beside the bed; he
couldn't see her face, but her body was utterly lax. Nettie Vollar, too,
was in a dreadful waxen similitude of death, with lead colored lips and
fixed sightless eyes. A slight extraordinary sound rose behind him, and
whirling, Brevard discovered that it was Edward Dunsack giggling. He was
silent immediately under the other's scrutiny, and an expression of
stubborn and malicious caution pinched his wasted sardonic countenance.

Brevard turned to the greater necessity of the women, and moved Taou Yuen
so that he could see her features. It was evident that she was not, as he
had first thought, dead; her breathing was slow and deep and harsh, her
pulse deliberate and full; she was warm, too, but her face was suffused
by an unnatural blueness and the pupils of her inert eyes were barely
discernible. He shook her with an unceremonious vigor, but there was no
answering energy; she fell across his arm in a sheer weight of
satin-covered body. He moved back in a momentary uncontrollable repulsion
when Kate Vollar threw herself past him onto the bed. "Nettie!" she
cried, "Nettie! Nettie!" Brevard was chilled by the possibility of an
unutterable tragedy, when with a faint suffusion of color the girl gave a
gasping sigh. Her voice stirred in a terror shaken whisper:

"Uncle Edward, don't! Why--don't. Oh!" She pressed her face with a long
shudder into the pillow. "Whatever was it--?" her mother began wildly.
Brevard caught her shoulder. "Not now," he directed; "you'll come
downstairs with me. We must have help at once and your daughter quiet."

However he was in a quandary--he couldn't trust the woman here, he would
have to go immediately for assistance, and yet it was impossible to leave
Nettie Vollar and Gerrit's wife alone. "You will have to wait in the
room," he decided, turning to Quarles.

Edward Dunsack was wavering against a wall; Brevard went swiftly up to
him. "We'll need you," he said shortly. Dunsack maintained his silence
and air of stubborn cunning; but, when the other man clasped his
incredibly thin arm, he went willingly followed by Kate Vollar below.
There he sat obediently, his judicious detachment broken by a repetition
of the thin shocking snigger.

"You must be responsible for your brother," Roger Brevard told the
quivering woman. "I'll be back immediately. Now that you know Nettie's
safe you must control yourself. No one should go up--keep everybody
out--till you hear from me or the doctor or Captain Ammidon."

What an inexplicable accident or crime, he thought, hurriedly approaching
the countinghouse of Ammidon, Ammidon and Saltonstone, the first and
nearest of the places to which he must go. He could remember no mark of
what had overcome Taou Yuen. How was Dunsack, who was now clearly
demented, implicated? What racking thing had Nettie Vollar seen?

In the subsequent exclamatory rush, even on the following morning when
Roger Brevard learned that--poisoned by opium undoubtedly taken by
herself--Gerrit Ammidon's wife had died without regaining consciousness,
the greater part of the tragedy became little clearer. No statement could
be had from Edward Dunsack other than a meaningless array of
precautionary phrases; and returning in a sliding gait toward Hardy
Street he was put under a temporary restraint.

Nettie Vollar, Brevard heard, had relapsed from her injury into a second
critical collapse. Yet, he told himself, entering the room that was his
home in Mrs. Cane's large square house on Chestnut Street, that the
Manchu still absorbed his speculations.

It was a pleasant room and a pleasant house with a dignified portico; and
his tall windows, back on the right of the second floor, opened on the
length of the Napiers' garden. Brevard sat looking out over a dim
leafiness of evening and tried to discipline his thoughts into order and
coherence. Any dignity of death had been soiled by the ugly mystery of
the aspects surrounding the end of Taou Yuen.

He had liked her extremely well, agreeing with Rhoda Ammidon that,
probably, they had never been permitted to know a more aristocratic
breeding or greater degrees of purely worldly and mental and personal
charm than those of Gerrit's wife.

His mind grew more philosophical and a perception, yet without base in
facts, convinced him that Taou Yuen had been killed by America. It was a
fantastic thought, and he attempted to dismiss it, waiting for more
secure knowledge, but it persisted. She had been killed by unfamiliar
circumstances, tradition, emotions. In some manner, but how he was unable
to disentangle from the pressures of mere curiosity and conjecture,
Nettie Vollar--or rather Gerrit's old passing affair with Nettie--had
entered into the unhappy occurrence. After an hour's vain search he gave
up all effort to pierce the darkness until he had actual knowledge--if he
ever had, he was forced to add silently. It was possible that the secret
might be entirely guarded from the public, even from the closer part he
had played and his familiarity with the Ammidon family.

He was an inmate of their inner garden with its lilac trees and hedged
roses in season, the pungent beds of flowers and box, the moonshade of
the poplars. Roger Brevard turned from the consideration of Taou Yuen to
the even more insistent claim of his increasing affection for Sidsall. He
stopped again both to lament and delight in her youth--another year and
he would have unhesitatingly announced his feeling as love to them all.
It was that, he admitted to himself almost shyly. The obvious thing was
for him to wait through the year or more until the Ammidons would hear of
a proposal and then urge his desire.... He could see her quite often
meanwhile.

Yes, that was the sensible course, even in the face of his own
multiplying years. They were twenty-five more than Sidsall's; yet, he
added in self-extenuation, he was not definitely snared in middle age; he
was still elastic in body and youthful, but for graying hair, in
appearance. His birth was eligible from every social consideration; and,
though he was not rich, he had enough independently to assure the safety
of his wife's future. This did not come entirely, or now even in the
larger part, from the Mongolian Marine Insurance Company, but took the
form of a comparatively small but secure private income.

He paused to wonder if it had not been that latter fact which had
prevented his being successful--successful, that was, in William
Ammidon's meaning of the word. He had not made money nor a position of
importance among men of affairs. Such safety, he decided, was a dangerous
possession judged by the standards he was now considering. A few thousand
a year for life struck at the root of activity. It induced a critical
detached attitude toward life, overemphasized the importance of the cut
of a trouser and the validity of pedigree. It was a mistake to dance
noticeably well.

Drifting, together with almost everyone else, he had reached his
present position, past forty, by imperceptible degrees, obscurely
influenced by the play of what he intrinsically was on circumstances or
accident or fate.

Although he had never done so before, he compared himself with Gerrit
Ammidon. The other's refusal to accept a partnership in the family firm
or command a California clipper was known. Gerrit and himself were
alike in that they apprehended the values of life more clearly than did
the ordinary mind or heart. But, in retaliation, the world they
differed from curtly brushed them aside. Roger Brevard could not see
that they had made the least mark on the callous normal cruelty or the
aesthetic and spiritual blindness of the existence they shared. But it
was always possible that something bigger than their grasp of justice
or beauty was afoot.

He turned from the darkened prospect of the window and his thoughts to
the room. Without a light he removed his formal street clothes, hanging
the coat and waistcoat, folding the trousers in a drawer, with exact
care; changing his light boots for fiber slippers he set the former in
the row of footgear drawn up like a military review against the wall.
Though it was quite obscure now, and no one would see him, he paused to
brush his slightly disarranged hair, before--tying the cord of his
chamber robe--he resumed his seat.

The year, he reverted to Sidsall, would pass; but, try as he might, he
had no feeling of security in the future, however near. It was the
present, this Sidsall, that filled him with a tyrannical and bitter
longing. She was unbelievably beautiful now. Against the faintness of his
hope, his patience, he saw the whole slow process of the disintegration
of marine insurance, and with it his own fatuous insensibility to the
decline: that decline with its exact counterpart in himself. Salem and he
were getting dusty together.

He straightened up vigorously in his chair--this would never do. He must
wind up his affairs here and return to New York. The tranquil backwater
had overpowered him for a time; but, again awake, he would strike out
strongly... with Sidsall. Endless doubt and hope fluctuated within him.
Voices rose from the Napier garden, and from a tree sounded the whirring
of the first locust he had noticed that summer.

On a noon following he saw the passage of the three or four carriages
that constituted the funeral cortege of Taou Yuen's entirely private
interment. She would be buried of course by Christian service: here were
none of the elaborate Confucian rites and ceremonial; yet--from what Taou
Yuen had occasionally indicated--Confucius, Lao-tze, the Buddha, were all
more alike than different; they all vainly preached humility, purity, the
subjugation of the flesh. He stopped later in the Charter Street cemetery
and found her grave, the headstone marked:

TAOU YUEN
A MANCHURIAN LADY
THE WIFE
OF
GERRIT AMMIDON, ESQ.
and the dates.

He saw, naturally, but little of the Ammidons--a glimpse of Rhoda in the
carriage and William on Charter Street; the _Nautilus_, ready for sea,
continued in her berth at Phillips' Wharf. Fragments of news came to him
quoted and re-quoted, grotesquely exaggerated and even malicious reports
of the tragedy at the Dunsacks'. Standing at his high desk in the
countingroom of the Mongolian Marine Insurance Company, Taou Yuen's
glittering passage through Salem already seemed to him a fable, a dream.
Even Sidsall, robustly near by, had an aspect of unreality in the tender
fabric of his visions. Captain Rendell, his spade beard at the verge of
filmed old eyes, who was seated at the window, rose with difficulty. For
a moment he swayed on insecure legs, then, barely gathering the necessary
power, moved out into the street.

Later, when Roger Brevard was turning the key on the insurance company
for the day, Lacy Saltonstone stopped to speak in her charming slow
manner: "Mother of course is in a whirl, with Captain Ammidon about to
marry that Nettie Vollar, since she is recovering after all, and our
moving to Boston.... You see I'm there so often it will make really very
little difference to me. Sidsall is the lucky one, though you'd never
know it from seeing her.... I thought you'd have heard--why, to Lausanne,
a tremendously impressive school for a year. They have promised her
London afterward. I would call that a promise, but actually, Sidsall--."

"Doesn't she want to go?" he asked mechanically, all the emotions that
had chimed through his being suddenly clashing in a discordant misery. He
bowed absently, and hastening to his room softly closed the door and sat
without supper, late into the evening, lost in a bitterness that
continually poisoned the resolutions formed out of his overwhelming need.
He was aghast at the inner violence that destroyed the long tranquility
of his existence, the clenched hands and spoken words lost in the shadows
over the Napiers' garden. He wanted Sidsall with a breathless tyranny
infinitely sharper than any pang of youth: she was life itself.

She didn't want to go, Lacy had made that clear; and he told himself that
her reluctance could only, must, proceed from one cause--that she cared
for him. As he dwelt on this, the one alleviating possibility, he became
certain of its truth. He would find her at once and in spite of Rhoda and
William Ammidon explain that his whole hope lay in marrying her. With an
utter contempt at all the small orderly habits which, he now saw, were
the expression of a confirmed dry preciseness, he left his clothes in a
disorderly heap. Such a feeling as Sidsall's and his, he repeated from
the oppressive expanse of his black walnut bed, was above ordinary
precautions and observance. Then, unable to dismiss the thought of how
crumpled his trousers would be in the morning, oppressed by the picture
of the tumbled garments, he finally rose and, in the dark, relaid them in
the familiar smooth array.

In the morning his disturbance resolved into what seemed a very decided
and reasonable attitude: He would see Rhoda that day and explain his
feeling and establish what rights and agreement he could. He was willing
to admit that Sidsall was, perhaps, too young for an immediate decision
so wide in results. The ache, the hunger for happiness sharpened by vague
premonitions of mischance, began again to pound in his heart.

At the Ammidons' it was clear immediately that Rhoda's manner toward him
had changed: it had become more social, even voluble, and restrained. She
conversed brightly about trivial happenings, while he sat listening,
gravely silent. But it was evident that she soon became aware of his
difference, and her voice grew sharper, almost antagonistic. They were in
the formal parlor, a significant detail in itself, and Roger Brevard saw
William pass the door. Well, he would soon have to go, he must speak
about Sidsall now. It promised to be unexpectedly difficult; but the
words were forming when she came into the room.

There were faint shadows under her eyes, the unmistakable marks of tears.
An overwhelming passion for her choked at his throat. She came directly
up to him, ignoring her mother. "Did you hear that they want me to go
away?" she asked. He nodded, "It's that I came to see your mother about."

"They know I don't want to," she continued; "I've explained it to them
very carefully."

"My dear Sidsall," Rhoda Ammidon cut in; "we can't have this. What Roger
has to say must be for me and your father." The girl smiled at her and
turned again to Roger Brevard. "Do you want me to go?"

"No!" he cried, all his planning lost in uncontrollable rebellion.

"Then I don't think I shall."

William entered and stood at his wife's shoulder. "You won't insist,"
Sidsall faced them quietly. "Ridiculous," her father replied. Brevard
realized that he must support the girl's bravery of spirit. How
adorable she was! But, before the overwhelming superior position of the
elder Ammidons, their weight of propriety and authority, his
determination wavered.

"To be quite frank," the other man proceeded, "since it has been forced
on us, Sidsall imagines herself in love with you, Brevard. I don't need
to remind you how unsuitable and preposterous that is. She's too young to
know the meaning of love. Besides, my dear fellow, you're a quarter
century her elder. We want Sidsall to go to London like her mother, have
her cotillions, before she settles into marriage."

"They can't understand, Roger," Sidsall touched his hand. "We're sorry to
disappoint them--"

"You ought to be made to leave the room," William fumed.

"That isn't necessary," Rhoda told him. "I am sure Roger understands
perfectly how impossible it is. You mustn't be hurt," she turned to him,
"if I admit that we have very different plans... at least a man nearer
Sidsall's age."

The girl lifted a confident face to him. "You want to marry me, don't
you?" she asked. More than any other conceivable joy. But he said this
silently. His courage slowly ebbed before the parental displeasure
viewing him coldly. "Then--" Sidsall paused expectantly, a touch of
impatience even invaded her manner. "Please tell them, Roger."

"Why I have to put up with this is beyond me," William Ammidon
expostulated with his wife. "It's shameless."

Roger Brevard winced. He tried to say something about hope and the
future, but it was so weak, a palpable retreat, leaving Sidsall alone and
unsupported, that the words perished unfinished. The girl studied him,
suddenly startled, and her confidence ebbed. He turned away, crushed by
convention, filled with shame and a sense of self-betrayal.

A stillness followed of unendurable length, in which he found his
attention resting on the diversified shapes of the East India money in a
corner cabinet. It was Sidsall who finally spoke, slowly and clearly:

"Forgive me."

He recognized that she was addressing her mother and father. From a
whisper of skirts he realized that she was leaving the room. Without the
will necessary for a last glimpse he stood with his head bowed by an
appalling sensation of weariness and years.

In a flash of self-comprehension, Roger Brevard knew that he would never,
as he had hoped, leave Salem. He was an abstemious man, one of a family
of long lives, and he would linger here, increasingly unimportant, for a
great while, an old man in new epochs, isolated among strange people and
prejudices. Whatever the cause--the small safety or an inward flaw--he
had never been part of the corporate sweating humanity where, in the war
of spirit and flesh, the vital rewards and accomplishments were found.

Soon after he passed Gerrit and Nettie Vollar driving in the direction of
the harbor; she was lying back wanly in the Ammidon barouche, but her
companion's face was set directly ahead, his expression of general
disdain strongly marked. A vigorous hand, Roger noted, was clasped about
Nettie's supine palm. She saw him standing on the sidewalk and bowed
slightly, but the shipmaster plainly overlooked him together with the
rest of Salem.

The end of summer was imminent in a whirl of yellow leaves and chill gray
wind. There was a ringing of bugles through the morning, the strains of
military quicksteps, rhythmic tramping feet and the irregular fulmination
of salutes. That it was already the day of the annual Fall Review seemed
incredible to Roger Brevard. He was indifferent to the activities of the
Common; but when he heard that the _Nautilus_ was sailing in the middle
of the afternoon he left his inconsequential affairs for Phillips' Wharf.

A small number were waiting on the solid rock-filled reach, the
wharfinger's office at its head and a stone warehouse blocking the end,
where the _Nautilus_ lay with her high-steeved bowsprit pointing outward.
The harbor was slaty, cold, and there was a continuous slapping of small
waves on the shore. Darkening clouds hung low in the west, out of which
the wind cut in flaws across the open. The town, so lately folded in lush
greenery, showed a dun lift of roofs and stripping branches tossing
against an ashy sky.

Close beside Roger stood Barzil Dunsack, his beard blowing, with Kate
Vollar in a bright red shawl, her skirts whipping uneasily against her
father's legs. Beyond were the Ammidons--William, and Rhoda in a deep
furred wrap, and their daughters. Rhoda waved for him to join them, but
he declined with a gesture of acknowledgment.

The deck of the _Nautilus_ was above his vision but he could see most of
the stir of departure. The peremptory voice of the mate rose from the
bow, minor directions were issued by the second mate aft, a seaman was
aloft on the main-royal yard and another stood at the stage rising
sharply from the wharf. Gerrit and his wife had not yet arrived, and the
pilot, making a leisurely appearance, stopped to exchange remarks with
the Ammidons. He climbed on board the ship and Roger could see his head
and shoulders moving toward the poop and mounting the ladder.

The wind grew higher, shriller, every moment; it was thrashing among the
stays and braces; the man aloft, a small movement against the clouds,
swayed in its force. There was a faint clatter of hoofs from Derby
Street, Brevard had a fleeting glimpse of an arriving carriage, and
Gerrit, supporting Nettie Ammidon, advanced over the wharf. The
shipmaster walked slowly, the woman clinging, almost dragging, at his
erect strength. They went close by Roger: Nettie's pale face, her large
shining dark eyes, were filled with placid surrender. Her companion spoke
in a low grave tone, and she looked up at him in a tired and happy
acquiescence.

The two families joined, and there was a confused determined gayety of
farewell and good wishes. Out of it finally emerged the captain of the
_Nautilus_ and the slight figure upon his arm. He wore a beaver hat, and,
as they mounted the stage, he was forced to hold it on with his free
hand. When the quarter-deck was reached they disappeared into the cabin.

"Mr. Broadrick," the pilot called, "you can get in those bow fasts. Send
a hawser to the end of the wharf; I'm going to warp out." There was a
harsh answering clatter as the mooring chain that held the bow of the
_Nautilus_ was secured, and a group of sailors went smartly forward with
a hemp cable to the end of the wharf's seaward thrust. The _Nautilus_ lay
on the eastern side, with the wind beating over the starboard quarter,
and there was little difficulty in getting under way. Strain was kept on
the stern and breast fasts while the mate directed:

"Ship your capstan bars."

The capstan turned and the _Nautilus_ moved forward to the beat of song.

"Low lands, low lands, hurrah, my John,
I thought I heard the old man say.
Low lands, low lands, hurrah, my John,
We'll get some rum ...
... Hurrah, my John.
Then shake her--"

"Vast heaving," Mr. Broadrick shouted.

The intimate spectators on Phillips' Wharf moved
out with the ship. Gerrit Ammidon was now visible on the quarter-deck
with the pilot. He walked to the port railing aft and stood gazing
somberly back at Salem. The stovepipe hat was not yet discarded, and the
hand firmly holding its brim resembled a final gesture of contempt. The
pilot approached him, there was a brief exchange of words, and the former
sharply ordered:

"Stand by to run up your jib and fore-topmast staysail, Mr. Broadrick.
Put two good men at the sheets and see that those sails don't slat to
pieces.

"On the wharf there--take that stern fast out to the last ringbolt. Mr.
Second Mate... get your fenders aboard." The wind increased in a violence
tipped with stinging rain. "Give her the jib and stay-sail." She heeled
slightly and gathered steerage way. Roger Brevard involuntarily waved a
parting salutation. An extraordinary emotion swept over him: a ship bound
to the East always stirred his imagination and sense of beauty, but the
departure of the _Nautilus_ had a special significance. It was the
beginning, yes, and the end, of almost the whole sweep of human suffering
and despair, of longing and hope and passion, and a reward.

"Let go the stern fast. Steady your helm there."

"Steady, sir."

A mere gust of song was distinguishable against the blast of storm. Under
the lee of the stone warehouse, on the solidity of the wharf, the land,
Roger Brevard watched the _Nautilus_ while one by one the topsails were
sheeted home and the yards mastheaded. "A gale by night," somebody
said. The ship, driving with surprising speed toward the open sea, was
now apparently no more than a fragile shell on the immensity of the stark
horizon.

The light faded: the days were growing shorter. Alone Brevard followed
the others moving away. Kate Vollar's red shawl suddenly streamed out and
was secured by a wasted hand. Just that way, he thought, the color and
vividness of his existence had been withdrawn.


THE END





End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Java Head, by Joseph Hergesheimer

*** END OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK JAVA HEAD ***

This file should be named 7java10.txt or 7java10.zip
Corrected EDITIONS of our eBooks get a new NUMBER, 7java11.txt
VERSIONS based on separate sources get new LETTER, 7java10a.txt

Produced by Suzanne Shell, Mary Meehan, and PG Distributed Proofreaders

Project Gutenberg eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the US
unless a copyright notice is included.  Thus, we usually do not
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.

We are now trying to release all our eBooks one year in advance
of the official release dates, leaving time for better editing.
Please be encouraged to tell us about any error or corrections,
even years after the official publication date.

Please note neither this listing nor its contents are final til
midnight of the last day of the month of any such announcement.
The official release date of all Project Gutenberg eBooks is at
Midnight, Central Time, of the last day of the stated month.  A
preliminary version may often be posted for suggestion, comment
and editing by those who wish to do so.

Most people start at our Web sites at:
http://gutenberg.net or
http://promo.net/pg

These Web sites include award-winning information about Project
Gutenberg, including how to donate, how to help produce our new
eBooks, and how to subscribe to our email newsletter (free!).


Those of you who want to download any eBook before announcement
can get to them as follows, and just download by date.  This is
also a good way to get them instantly upon announcement, as the
indexes our cataloguers produce obviously take a while after an
announcement goes out in the Project Gutenberg Newsletter.

http://www.ibiblio.org/gutenberg/etext03 or
ftp://ftp.ibiblio.org/pub/docs/books/gutenberg/etext03

Or /etext02, 01, 00, 99, 98, 97, 96, 95, 94, 93, 92, 92, 91 or 90

Just search by the first five letters of the filename you want,
as it appears in our Newsletters.


Information about Project Gutenberg (one page)

We produce about two million dollars for each hour we work.  The
time it takes us, a rather conservative estimate, is fifty hours
to get any eBook selected, entered, proofread, edited, copyright
searched and analyzed, the copyright letters written, etc.   Our
projected audience is one hundred million readers.  If the value
per text is nominally estimated at one dollar then we produce $2
million dollars per hour in 2002 as we release over 100 new text
files per month:  1240 more eBooks in 2001 for a total of 4000+
We are already on our way to trying for 2000 more eBooks in 2002
If they reach just 1-2% of the world's population then the total
will reach over half a trillion eBooks given away by year's end.

The Goal of Project Gutenberg is to Give Away 1 Trillion eBooks!
This is ten thousand titles each to one hundred million readers,
which is only about 4% of the present number of computer users.

Here is the briefest record of our progress (* means estimated):

eBooks Year Month

    1  1971 July
   10  1991 January
  100  1994 January
 1000  1997 August
 1500  1998 October
 2000  1999 December
 2500  2000 December
 3000  2001 November
 4000  2001 October/November
 6000  2002 December*
 9000  2003 November*
10000  2004 January*


The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation has been created
to secure a future for Project Gutenberg into the next millennium.

We need your donations more than ever!

As of February, 2002, contributions are being solicited from people
and organizations in: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut,
Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts,
Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio,
Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South
Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West
Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

We have filed in all 50 states now, but these are the only ones
that have responded.

As the requirements for other states are met, additions to this list
will be made and fund raising will begin in the additional states.
Please feel free to ask to check the status of your state.

In answer to various questions we have received on this:

We are constantly working on finishing the paperwork to legally
request donations in all 50 states.  If your state is not listed and
you would like to know if we have added it since the list you have,
just ask.

While we cannot solicit donations from people in states where we are
not yet registered, we know of no prohibition against accepting
donations from donors in these states who approach us with an offer to
donate.

International donations are accepted, but we don't know ANYTHING about
how to make them tax-deductible, or even if they CAN be made
deductible, and don't have the staff to handle it even if there are
ways.

Donations by check or money order may be sent to:

Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
PMB 113
1739 University Ave.
Oxford, MS 38655-4109

Contact us if you want to arrange for a wire transfer or payment
method other than by check or money order.

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation has been approved by
the US Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization with EIN
[Employee Identification Number] 64-622154.  Donations are
tax-deductible to the maximum extent permitted by law.  As fund-raising
requirements for other states are met, additions to this list will be
made and fund-raising will begin in the additional states.

We need your donations more than ever!

You can get up to date donation information online at:

http://www.gutenberg.net/donation.html


***

If you can't reach Project Gutenberg,
you can always email directly to:

Michael S. Hart <hart@pobox.com>

Prof. Hart will answer or forward your message.

We would prefer to send you information by email.


**The Legal Small Print**


(Three Pages)

***START**THE SMALL PRINT!**FOR PUBLIC DOMAIN EBOOKS**START***
Why is this "Small Print!" statement here? You know: lawyers.
They tell us you might sue us if there is something wrong with
your copy of this eBook, even if you got it for free from
someone other than us, and even if what's wrong is not our
fault. So, among other things, this "Small Print!" statement
disclaims most of our liability to you. It also tells you how
you may distribute copies of this eBook if you want to.

*BEFORE!* YOU USE OR READ THIS EBOOK
By using or reading any part of this PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm
eBook, you indicate that you understand, agree to and accept
this "Small Print!" statement. If you do not, you can receive
a refund of the money (if any) you paid for this eBook by
sending a request within 30 days of receiving it to the person
you got it from. If you received this eBook on a physical
medium (such as a disk), you must return it with your request.

ABOUT PROJECT GUTENBERG-TM EBOOKS
This PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm eBook, like most PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm eBooks,
is a "public domain" work distributed by Professor Michael S. Hart
through the Project Gutenberg Association (the "Project").
Among other things, this means that no one owns a United States copyright
on or for this work, so the Project (and you!) can copy and
distribute it in the United States without permission and
without paying copyright royalties. Special rules, set forth
below, apply if you wish to copy and distribute this eBook
under the "PROJECT GUTENBERG" trademark.

Please do not use the "PROJECT GUTENBERG" trademark to market
any commercial products without permission.

To create these eBooks, the Project expends considerable
efforts to identify, transcribe and proofread public domain
works. Despite these efforts, the Project's eBooks and any
medium they may be on may contain "Defects". Among other
things, Defects may take the form of incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other
intellectual property infringement, a defective or damaged
disk or other eBook medium, a computer virus, or computer
codes that damage or cannot be read by your equipment.

LIMITED WARRANTY; DISCLAIMER OF DAMAGES
But for the "Right of Replacement or Refund" described below,
[1] Michael Hart and the Foundation (and any other party you may
receive this eBook from as a PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm eBook) disclaims
all liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including
legal fees, and [2] YOU HAVE NO REMEDIES FOR NEGLIGENCE OR
UNDER STRICT LIABILITY, OR FOR BREACH OF WARRANTY OR CONTRACT,
INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE
OR INCIDENTAL DAMAGES, EVEN IF YOU GIVE NOTICE OF THE
POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.

If you discover a Defect in this eBook within 90 days of
receiving it, you can receive a refund of the money (if any)
you paid for it by sending an explanatory note within that
time to the person you received it from. If you received it
on a physical medium, you must return it with your note, and
such person may choose to alternatively give you a replacement
copy. If you received it electronically, such person may
choose to alternatively give you a second opportunity to
receive it electronically.

THIS EBOOK IS OTHERWISE PROVIDED TO YOU "AS-IS". NO OTHER
WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, ARE MADE TO YOU AS
TO THE EBOOK OR ANY MEDIUM IT MAY BE ON, INCLUDING BUT NOT
LIMITED TO WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A
PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

Some states do not allow disclaimers of implied warranties or
the exclusion or limitation of consequential damages, so the
above disclaimers and exclusions may not apply to you, and you
may have other legal rights.

INDEMNITY
You will indemnify and hold Michael Hart, the Foundation,
and its trustees and agents, and any volunteers associated
with the production and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm
texts harmless, from all liability, cost and expense, including
legal fees, that arise directly or indirectly from any of the
following that you do or cause:  [1] distribution of this eBook,
[2] alteration, modification, or addition to the eBook,
or [3] any Defect.

DISTRIBUTION UNDER "PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm"
You may distribute copies of this eBook electronically, or by
disk, book or any other medium if you either delete this
"Small Print!" and all other references to Project Gutenberg,
or:

[1]  Only give exact copies of it.  Among other things, this
     requires that you do not remove, alter or modify the
     eBook or this "small print!" statement.  You may however,
     if you wish, distribute this eBook in machine readable
     binary, compressed, mark-up, or proprietary form,
     including any form resulting from conversion by word
     processing or hypertext software, but only so long as
     *EITHER*:

     [*]  The eBook, when displayed, is clearly readable, and
          does *not* contain characters other than those
          intended by the author of the work, although tilde
          (~), asterisk (*) and underline (_) characters may
          be used to convey punctuation intended by the
          author, and additional characters may be used to
          indicate hypertext links; OR

     [*]  The eBook may be readily converted by the reader at
          no expense into plain ASCII, EBCDIC or equivalent
          form by the program that displays the eBook (as is
          the case, for instance, with most word processors);
          OR

     [*]  You provide, or agree to also provide on request at
          no additional cost, fee or expense, a copy of the
          eBook in its original plain ASCII form (or in EBCDIC
          or other equivalent proprietary form).

[2]  Honor the eBook refund and replacement provisions of this
     "Small Print!" statement.

[3]  Pay a trademark license fee to the Foundation of 20% of the
     gross profits you derive calculated using the method you
     already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  If you
     don't derive profits, no royalty is due.  Royalties are
     payable to "Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation"
     the 60 days following each date you prepare (or were
     legally required to prepare) your annual (or equivalent
     periodic) tax return.  Please contact us beforehand to
     let us know your plans and to work out the details.

WHAT IF YOU *WANT* TO SEND MONEY EVEN IF YOU DON'T HAVE TO?
Project Gutenberg is dedicated to increasing the number of
public domain and licensed works that can be freely distributed
in machine readable form.

The Project gratefully accepts contributions of money, time,
public domain materials, or royalty free copyright licenses.
Money should be paid to the:
"Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

If you are interested in contributing scanning equipment or
software or other items, please contact Michael Hart at:
hart@pobox.com

[Portions of this eBook's header and trailer may be reprinted only
when distributed free of all fees.  Copyright (C) 2001, 2002 by
Michael S. Hart.  Project Gutenberg is a TradeMark and may not be
used in any sales of Project Gutenberg eBooks or other materials be
they hardware or software or any other related product without
express permission.]

*END THE SMALL PRINT! FOR PUBLIC DOMAIN EBOOKS*Ver.02/11/02*END*


Colophon

This file was acquired from Project Gutenberg, and it is in the public domain. It is re-distributed here as a part of the Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts (http://infomotions.com/alex/) by Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.) for the purpose of freely sharing, distributing, and making available works of great literature. Its Infomotions unique identifier is etext9865, and it should be available from the following URL:

http://infomotions.com/etexts/id/etext9865



Infomotions, Inc.

Infomotions Man says, "Give back to the 'Net."