IN THE HEART OF A FOOL
BY WILLIAM ALLEN WHITE
THE REAL ISSUE THE COURT OF BOYVILLE STRATAGEMS AND SPOILS IN OUR TOWN A CERTAIN RICH MAN THE OLD ORDER CHANGETH GOD'S PUPPETS THE MARTIAL ADVENTURES OF HENRY AND ME IN THE HEART OF A FOOL
IN THE HEART OF A FOOL
WILLIAM ALLEN WHITE
Author of "In Our Town," "A Certain Rich Man," "The Martial Adventures of Henry and Me," etc.
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
All rights reserved
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1918.
CONTENTS CHAPTER PAGE I BEING STAGE DIRECTIONS, AND A CAST OF CHARACTERS. 1 II IN WHICH WE INTRODUCE THE FOOL AND HIS LADY FAIR, AND WHAT HE SAID IN HIS HEART—THE SAME BEING THE THEME AND THESIS OF THIS STORY 4 III IN WHICH WE CONSIDER THE LADIES—GOD BLESS 'EM! 21 IV THE ADAMS FAMILY BIBLE LIES LIKE A GENTLEMAN 38 V IN WHICH MARGARET MUeLLERs DWELLS IN MARBLE HALLS AND HENRY FENN AND KENYON ADAMS WIN NOTABLE VICTORIES 47 VI ENTER THE BEAUTY AND CHIVALRY OF HARVEY; ALSO HEREIN WE BREAK OUR FINEST HEART 63 VII IN WHICH WE SEE HOW LIFE TRANSLATES ITSELF INTO THE MATERIALISM AROUND IT 69 VIII CAPTAIN MORTON ACTS AS COURT HERALD AND MORTY SANDS AND GRANT ADAMS HEAR SAD NEWS 80 IX WHEREIN HENRY FENN TRIES AN INTERESTING EXPERIMENT 89 X IN WHICH MARY ADAMS TAKES A MUCH NEEDED REST 98 XI WHEREIN A FOOL GROPES FOR A SPIRIT AND CAN FIND ONLY DUST 103 XII IN WHICH WE LEARN THAT LOVE IS THE LEVER THAT MOVES THE WORLD 114 XIII IN WHICH WE OBSERVE THE INTERIOR OF A DESERTED HOUSE 126 XIV IN WHICH OUR HERO STROLLS OUT WITH THE DEVIL TO LOOK AT THE HIGH MOUNTAIN 135 XV WHEREIN WE WELCOME IN A NEW YEAR AND CONSIDER A SERIOUS QUESTION 152 XVI GRANT ADAMS IS SOLD INTO BONDAGE AND MARGARET FENN RECEIVES A SHOCK 163 XVII A CHAPTER WHICH INTRODUCES SOME POSSIBLE GODS 180 XVIII OUR HERO RIDES TO HOUNDS WITH THE PRIMROSE HUNT 187 XIX HEREIN CAPTAIN MORTON FALLS UNDER SUSPICION AND HENRY FENN FALLS FROM GRACE 200 XX IN WHICH HENRY FENN FALLS FROM GRACE AND RISES AGAIN 209 XXI IN WHICH WE SEE A FAT LITTLE RASCAL ON THE RACK 219 XXII IN WHICH TOM VAN DORN BECOMES A WAYFARING MAN ALSO 232 XXIII HERE GRANT ADAMS DISCOVERS HIS INSIDES 241 XXIV IN WHICH THE DEVIL FORMALLY TAKES THE TWO HINDERMOST AND CLOSES AN ACCOUNT IN HIS LEDGER 252 XXV IN WHICH WE SEE TWO TEMPLES AND THE CONTENTS THEREOF 264 XXVI DR. NESBIT STARTS ON A LONG UPWARD BUT DEVIOUS JOURNEY 277 XXVII IN WHICH WE SEE SOMETHING COME INTO THIS STORY OUTSIDE OF THE MATERIAL WORLD 288 XXVIII WHEREIN MORTY SANDS MAKES A FEW SENSIBLE REMARKS IN PUBLIC 298 XXIX BEING NOT A CHAPTER BUT AN INTERLUDE 309 XXX GRANT ADAMS PREACHING A MESSAGE OF LOVE RAISES THE VERY DEVIL IN HARVEY 320 XXXI IN WHICH JUDGE VAN DORN MAKES HIS BRAGS AND DR. NESBIT SEES A VISION 337 XXXII WHEREIN VIOLET HOGAN TAKES UP AN OLD TRADE AND MARGARET VAN DORN SEEKS A HIGHER PLANE 350 XXXIII IN WHICH THE ANGELS SHAKE A FOOT FOR HENRY FENN 365 XXXIV A SHORT CHAPTER, YET IN IT WE EXAMINE ONE CANVAS HEAVEN, ONE REAL HEAVEN, AND TWO SNUG LITTLE HELLS 379 XXXV THE OLD SPIDER BEGINS TO DIVIDE HIS FLIES WITH OTHERS AND GEORGE BROTHERTON IS PUZZLED TWICE IN ONE NIGHT 388 XXXVI A LONG CHAPTER BUT A BUSY ONE, IN WHICH KENYON ADAMS AND HIS MOTHER HAVE A STRANGE MEETING, AND LILA VAN DORN TAKES A NIGHT RIDE 403 XXXVII IN WHICH WE WITNESS A CEREMONY IN THE TEMPLE OF LOVE 423 XXXVIII GRANT ADAMS VISITS THE SONS OF ESAU 431 XXXIX BEING NO CHAPTER AT ALL BUT AN INTERMEZZO BEFORE THE LAST MOVEMENT 441 XL HERE WE HAVE THE FELLOW AND THE GIRL BEGINNING TO PREPARE FOR THE LAST CHAPTER 444 XLI HERE WE SEE GRANT ADAMS CONQUERING HIS THIRD AND LAST DEVIL 454 XLII A CHAPTER WHICH IS CONCERNED LARGELY WITH THE LOVE AFFAIRS OF "THE FULL STRENGTH OF THE COMPANY" 468 XLIII WHEREIN WE FIND GRANT ADAMS CALLING UPON KENYON'S MOTHER, AND DARKNESS FALLS UPON TWO LOVERS 496 XLIV IN WHICH WE SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN, WITH GEORGE BROTHERTON, AND IN GENERAL CONSIDER THE HABITANTS OF THE KINGDOM 515 XLV IN WHICH LIDA BOWMAN CONSIDERS HER UNIVERSE AND TOM VAN DORN WINS ANOTHER VICTORY 527 XLVI WHEREIN GRANT ADAMS PREACHES PEACE AND LIDA BOWMAN SPEAKS HER MIND 543 XLVII IN WHICH GRANT ADAMS AND LAURA VAN DORN TAKE A WALK DOWN MARKET STREET AND MRS. NESBIT ACQUIRES A LONG LOST GRANDSON-IN-LAW 561 XLVIII WHEREIN WE ERECT A HOUSE BUILT UPON A ROCK 575 XLIX HOW MORTY SANDS TURNED AWAY SADLY AND JUDGE VAN DORN UNCOVERED A SECRET 582 L JUDGE VAN DORN SINGS SOME MERRY SONGS AND THEY TAKE GRANT ADAMS BEHIND A WHITE DOOR 597 LI IN WHICH WE END AS WE BEGAN AND ALL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER 609 LII NOT EXACTLY A CHAPTER BUT RATHER A Q. E. D. OR A HIC FABULA DOCET 613
IN THE HEART OF A FOOL
BEING STAGE DIRECTIONS, AND A CAST OF CHARACTERS
Sunshine and prairie grass—well in the foreground. For the background, perhaps a thousand miles away or more than half a decade removed in time, is the American Civil War. In the blue sky a meadow lark's love song, and in the grass the boom of the prairie chicken's wings are the only sounds that break the primeval silence, excepting the lisping of the wind which dimples the broad acres of tall grass—thousand upon thousand of acres—that stretch northward for miles. To the left the prairie grass rises upon a low hill, belted with limestone and finally merges into the mirage on the knife edge of the far horizon. To the southward on the canvas the prairie grass is broken by the heavy green foliage above a sluggish stream that writhes and twists and turns through the prairie, which rises above the stream and meets another limestone belt upon which the waving ripples of the unmowed grass wash southward to the eye's reach.
Enter R. U. E. a four-ox team hauling a cart laden with a printing press and a printer's outfit; following that are other ox teams hauling carts laden with tents and bedding, household goods, lumber, and provisions. A four-horse team hauling merchandise, and a span of mules hitched to a spring wagon come crashing up through the timber by the stream. Men and women are walking beside the oxen or the teams and are riding in the covered wagons. They are eagerly seeking something. It is the equality of opportunity that is supposed to be found in the virgin prairies of the new West. The men are nearly all veterans of the late war, for the most part bearded youngsters in their twenties or early thirties. The women are their fresh young wives. As the procession halts before the canvas, the men and women begin to unpack the wagons and to line out on each side of an imaginary street in the prairie. The characters are discovered as follows:
Amos Adams, a red-bearded youth of twenty-nine and Mary Sands, his wife. They are printers and begin unpacking and setting up the printing material in a tent.
Dr. James Nesbit and Bedelia Satterthwaite, his wife, in the tent beside the Adamses.
Captain Ezra Morton, and Ruth his wife; he is selling a patent, self-opening gate.
Ahab Wright, in side whiskers, white necktie, flannel shirt and carefully considered trousers tucked in shiny boots.
Daniel Sands, Jane, his young wife, and Mortimer, her infant stepson. Daniel owns the merchandise in the wagon.
Casper Herdicker, cobbler, and Brunhilde Herdicker, his wife.
Herman Mueller, bearded, coarse-featured, noisy; a Pennsylvania Dutchman, his faded, rope-haired, milk-eyed, sickly wife and Margaret, their baby daughter.
Kyle Perry, owner of the horses and spring wagon.
Dick Bowman, Ira Dooley, Thomas Williams, James McPherson, Dennis Hogan, a boy, laborers.
As other characters enter during the early pages of the story they shall be properly introduced.
As the actors unload their wagons the spectators may notice above their heads bright, beautiful and evanescent forms coming and going in and out of being. These are the visions of the pioneers, and they are vastly more real than the men and women themselves. For these visions are the forces that form the human crystal.
Here abideth these three: sunshine and prairie grass and blue sky, cloud laden. These for ages have held domain and left the scene unchanged. When lo—at Upper Middle Entrance,—enter love! And love witched the dreams and visions of those who toiled in the sunshine and prairie grass under the blue sky cloud laden. And behold what they visioned in the witchery of love, took form and spread upon the prairie in wood and stone and iron, and became a part of the life of the Nation. Blind men in other lands, in other times looked at the Nation and saw only wood and stone and iron. Yet the wood and stone and iron should not have symbolized the era in America. Rather should the dreams and visions of the pioneers, of those who toiled under the sunshine and in the prairie grass have symbolized our strength. For half a century later when the world was agonizing in a death grapple with the mad gods of a crass materialism, mankind saw rising from the wood and stone and iron that had seemed to epitomize this Nation, a spirit which had lain hidden yet dormant in the Nation's life—a beautiful spirit of idealism strong, brave and humbly wise; the child of the dreams and visions and the love of humanity that dwelled in the hearts of the pioneers of that earlier time.
But this is looking forward. So let us go back to scene one, act one, in those days before the sunshine was shaded, the prairie grass worn off, and the blue sky itself was so stained and changed that the meadow-lark was mute!
And now we are ready for the curtain: and—music please.
IN WHICH WE INTRODUCE THE FOOL AND HIS LADY FAIR AND WHAT HE SAID IN HIS HEART—THE SAME BEING THE THEME AND THESIS OF THIS STORY
A story is a curious thing, that grows with a kind of consciousness of its own. Time was, in its invertebrate period of gestation when this story was to be Amos Adams's story. It was to be the story of one who saw great visions that were realized, who had from the high gods whispers of their plans. What a book it would have been if Amos and Mary could have written it—the story of dreams come true. But alas, the high gods mocked Amos Adams. Mary's clippings from the Tribune—a great litter of them, furnished certain dates and incidents for the story. Often when the Tribune was fresh from the press Mary and Amos would sit together in the printing office and Mary eaten with pride would clip from the damp paper the grandiloquent effusions of Amos that seemed to fit into other items that were to remind them of things which they could not print in their newspaper but which would be material for their book. What a bundle of these clippings there is! And there was the diary, or old-fashioned Memory Book of Mary Adams. What a pile of neatly folded sheets covered with Mary Adams' handwriting are there on the table by the window! What memories they revive, what old dead joys are brought to life, what faded visions are repainted. This is to be the Book—the book that they dreamed of in their youth—even before little Kenyon was born, before Jasper was born, indeed before Grant was born.
But now the years have written in many things and it will not be even their story. Indeed as life wrote upon their hearts its mysterious legend—the legend that erased many of their noble dreams and put iron into their souls, there is evidence in what they wrote that they thought it would be Grant's story. Most parents think their sons will be heroes. But their boy had to do his part in the world's rough work and before the end the clippings and the notes in the Memory Book show that they felt that a hero in blue overalls would hardly answer for their Book. Then there came a time when Amos alone in his later years thought that it might be Kenyon's story; for Kenyon now is a fiddler of fame, and fiddlers make grand heroes. But as the clippings and the notes show forth still another story, the Book that was to be their book and story, may not be one man's or one woman's story. It may not be even the story of a town; though Harvey's story is tragic enough. (Indeed sometimes it has seemed that the story of Harvey, rising in a generation out of the sunshine and prairie grass, a thousand flued hell, was to be the story of the Book.) But now Harvey seems to be only a sign of the times, a symptom of the growth of the human soul. So the Book must tell the tale of a time and a place where men and women loved and strove and joyed or suffered and lost or won after the old, old fashion of our race; with only such new girdles and borders and frills in the record of their work and play as the changing skirts of passing circumstance require. The Book must be more than Amos Adams's or his son's or his son's son's story or his town's, though it must be all of these. It must be the story of many men and many women, each one working out his salvation in his own way and all the threads woven into the divine design, carrying along in its small place on the loom the inscrutable pattern of human destiny. But most of all it should be the story which shall explain the America that rose when her great day came—exultant, triumphant to the glorious call of an ideal, arose from sordid things environing her body and soul, and consecrated herself without stint or faltering hand to the challenge of democracy.
In the old days—the old days when Amos Adams was young—he printed the Harvey Tribune on a hand press. Mary spread the ink upon the types; he pulled the great lever that impressed each sheet; and as they worked they sang about the coming of the new day. As a soldier—a commissioned officer he had fought in the great Civil War for the truth that should make men free. And he was sure in those elder days that the new day was just dawning. And Mary was sure too; so the readers of the Tribune were assured that the dawn was at hand. The editor knew that there were men who laughed at him for his hopes. But he and Mary, his wife, only laughed at men who were so blind that they could not see the dawn. So for many years they kept on rallying to whatever faith or banner or cause seemed surest in its promise of the sunrise. Green-backers, Grangers, Knights of Labor, Prohibitionists—these two crusaders followed all of the banners. And still there came no sunrise. Farmers' Alliance, Populism, Free Silver—Amos marched with each cavalcade. And was hopeful in its defeat.
And thus the years dragged on and made decades and the decades marshaled into a generation that became an era, and a city rose around a mature man. And still in his little office on a rickety side street, the Tribune, a weekly paper in a daily town, kept pointing to the sunrise; and Amos Adams, editor and proprietor, an old fool with the faith of youth, for many years had a book to write and a story to tell—a story that was never told, for it grew beyond him.
He printed the first edition of the Tribune in his tent under an elm tree in a vast, unfenced meadow that rose from the fringe of timber that shaded the Wahoo. Volume one, number one, told a waiting world of the formation of the town company of Harvey with Daniel Sands as president. It was one of thousands of towns founded after the Civil War—towns that were bursting like mushrooms through the prairie soil. After that war in which millions of men gave their youth and myriads gave their lives for an ideal, came a reaction. And in the decades that followed the war, men gave themselves to an orgy of materialism. Harvey was a part of that orgy. And the Ohio crowd, the group that came from Elyria—the Sandses, the Adamses, Joseph Calvin, Ahab Wright, Kyle Perry, the Kollanders and all the rest except the Nesbits—were so considerable a part of Harvey in the beginning, that probably they were as guilty as the rest of the country in the crass riot of greed that followed the war. They brought Amos Adams to Harvey because he was a printer and in those halcyon days all printers were supposed to be able to write; and he brought Mary—but did he bring Mary? He was never sure whether he brought her or she brought him. For Mary Sands—dear, dear Mary Sands—she had a way with her. She was not Irish for nothing, God bless her.
Amos always tried to be fair with Daniel Sands because he was Mary's brother; even though there was a time after he came home a young soldier from the war and found that Daniel Sands who hired a substitute and stayed at home, had won Esther Haley, who was pledged to Amos,—a time when Amos would have killed Daniel Sands. That passed, Mary, Daniel's sister, came; and for years Amos Adams bore Daniel Sands no grudge. What has all his money done for Daniel. It has ground the joy out of him—for one thing. And as for Esther, somewhere about Elyria, Ohio, the grass is growing over her grave and for forty years only Mortimer, her son, with her eyes and mouth and hair, was left in the world to remind Amos of the days when he was stark mad; and Mary, dear, dear, Irish Mary Sands, caught his heart upon the bounce and made him happy.
So let us say that Mary brought Amos to Harvey with the Ohio crowd, as Daniel Sands and his followers were known, The other early settlers came to grow up with the country and to make their independent fortunes; but Mary and Amos came to see the sunrise. For they were sure that men and women starting in a new world having found equality of opportunity, would not make this new world sordid, unfair and cruel as the older world was around them in those days.
Amos and Mary took up their homestead just south of the town on the Wahoo, and started the Tribune, and Mary hoped the high hopes of the Irish while Amos wrote his part of the news, set his share of the type, ran the errands for the advertising and bragged of the town in their editorial columns with all the faith of an Irishman by marriage.
What a fairy story the history of Harvey would be if it should be written only as it was. For one could even begin it once upon a time. Once upon a time, let us say, there was a land of sunshine and prairie grass. And then great genii came and set in little white houses and new unpainted barns, thumbed in faint green hedgerows and board fences, that checkered in the fields lying green or brown or loam black by the sluggish streams that gouged broad, zigzag furrows in the land. And upon a hill that overlooked a rock-bottomed stream the genii, the spirit of the time, sat a town. It glistened in the sunshine and when the town was over a year old, it was so newly set in, that its great stone schoolhouse all towered and tin-corniced, beyond the scattered outlying residences, rose in the high, untrodden grass. The people of Harvey were vastly proud of that schoolhouse. The young editor and his wife used to gaze at it adoringly as they drove to and from the office morning and evening; and they gilded the town with high hopes. For then they were in their twenties. The population of Harvey for the most part those first years was in its twenties also, when gilding is cheap. But thank Heaven the gilding of our twenties is lasting.
It was into this gilded world that Grant Adams was born. Suckled behind the press, cradled in the waste basket, toddling under hurrying feet, Grant's earliest memories were of work—work and working lovers, and their gay talk as they worked wove strange fancies in his little mind.
It was in those days that Amos Adams and his wife, considering the mystery of death, tried to peer behind the veil. For Amos tables tipped, slates wrote, philosophers, statesmen and conquerors flocked in with grotesque advice, and all those curious phenomena that come from the activities of the abnormal mind, appeared and astounded the visionaries as they went about their daily work. The boy Grant used to sit, a wide-eyed, freckled, sun-browned little creature, running his skinny little hands through his red hair, and wondering about the unsolvable problems of life and death.
But soon the problems of a material world came in upon Grant as the child became a boy: problems of the wood and field, problems of the constantly growing herd at play in water, in snow, on the ice and in the prairie; and then came the more serious problems of the wood box, the stable and farm. Thus he grew strong of limb, quick of hand, firm of foot and sure of mind. And someway as he grew from childhood into boyhood, getting hold of his faculties—finding himself physically, so Harvey seemed to grow with him. All over the town where men needed money Daniel Sands's mortgages were fastened—not heavily (nothing was heavy in that day of the town's glorious youth) but surely. Dr. Nesbit's gay ruthless politics, John Kollander's patriotism, leading always to the court house and its emoluments, Captain Morton's inventions that never materialized, the ever coming sunrise of the Adams—all these things became definitely a part of the changeless universe of Harvey as Grant's growing faculties became part of his consciousness.
And here is a mystery: the formation of the social crystal. In that crystal the outer facets and the inner fell into shape—the Nesbits, the Kollanders, the Adamses, the Calvins, the Mortons, and the Sandses, falling into one group; and the Williamses, the Hogans, the Bowmans, the McPhersons, the Dooleys and Casper Herdicker falling into another group. The hill separated from the valley. The separation was not a matter of moral sense; for John Kollander and Dan Sands and Joseph Calvin touched zero in moral intelligence; and it could not have been business sense, for Captain Morton for all his dreams was a child with a dollar, and Dr. Nesbit never was out of debt a day in his life; without his salary from tax-payers John Kollander would have been a charge on the county. In the matter of industry Daniel Sands was a marvel, but Jamie McPherson toiling all day used to come home and start up his well drill and its clatter could be heard far into the night, and often he started it hours before dawn. Nor could aspirations and visions have furnished the line of cleavage; for no one could have hopes so high for Harvey as Jamie, who sank his drill far into the earth, put his whole life, every penny of his earnings and all his strength into the dream that some day he would bring coal or oil or gas to Harvey and make it a great city. Yet when he found the precious vein, thick and rich and easy to mine, Daniel Sands and Joseph Calvin took his claim from him by chicanery as easily as they would have robbed a blind man of a penny, and Jamie went to work in the mines for Daniel Sands grumbling but faithful. Williams and Dooley and Hogan and Herdicker bent at their daily tasks in those first years, each feeling that the next day or the next month or at most the next year his everlasting fortune would be made. And Dick Bowman, cohort of Dr. Nesbit, many a time and oft would wash up, put on a clean suit, and go out and round up the voters in the Valley for the Doctor's cause and scorn his task with a hissing; for Dick read Karl Marx and dreamed of the day of the revolution. Yet he dwelled with the sons of Essua, who as they toiled murmured about their stolen birthright. When a decade had passed in Harvey the social crystal was firm; the hill and the valley were cast into the solid rock of things as they are. No one could say why; it was a mystery. It is still a mystery. As society forms and reforms, its cleavages follow unknown lines.
It was on a day in June—late in the morning, after Grant and Nathan Perry—son of the stuttering Kyle of that name, had come from a cool hour in the quiet pool down on the Wahoo and little Grant, waiting like a hungry pup for his lunch, that was tempting him in the basket under the typerack, was counting the moments and vaguely speculating as to what minutes were—when he looked up from the floor and saw what seemed to him a visitor from another world.
The creature was talking to Amos Adams sitting at the desk; and Amos was more or less impressed with the visitor's splendor. He wore exceedingly tight trousers—checked trousers, and a coat cut grandly and extravagantly in its fullness, a high wing collar, and a soup dish hat. He was such a figure as the comic papers of the day were featuring as the exquisite young man of the period.
Youth was in his countenance and lighted his black eyes. His oval, finely featured face, his blemishless olive skin, his strong jaw and his high, beautiful forehead, over which a black wing of hair hung carelessly, gave him a distinction that brought even the child's eyes to him. He was smiling pleasantly as he said,
"I'm Thomas Van Dorn—Mr. Adams, I believe?" he asked, and added as he fastened his fresh young eyes upon the editor's, "you scarcely will remember me—but you doubtless remember the day when father's hunting party passed through town? Well—I've come to grow up with the country."
The editor rose, roughed his short, sandy beard and greeted the youth pleasantly. "Mr. Daniel Sands sent me to you, Mr. Adams—to print a professional card in your paper," said the young man. He pronounced them "cahd" and "papuh" and smiled brightly as his quick eyes told him that the editor was conscious of his eastern accent. While they were talking business, locating the position of the card in the newspaper, the editor noticed that the young man's eyes kept wandering to Mary Adams, typesetting across the room. She was a comely woman just in her thirties and Amos Adams finally introduced her. When he went out the Adamses talked him over and agreed that he was an addition to the town.
Within a month he had formed a partnership with Joseph Calvin, the town's eldest lawyer; and young Henry Fenn, who had been trying for a year to buy a partnership with Calvin, was left to go it alone. So Henry Fenn contented himself with forming a social partnership with his young rival. And when the respectable Joseph Calvin was at home or considering the affairs of the Methodist Sunday School of which he was superintendent, young Mr. Fenn and young Mr. Van Dorn were rambling at large over the town and the adjacent prairie, seeking such diversion as young men in their exceedingly early twenties delight in: Mr. Riley's saloon, the waters of the Wahoo, by moonlight, the melliferous strains of "Larboard watch," the shot gun, the quail and the prairie chicken, the quarterhorse, and the jackpot, the cocktail, the Indian pony, the election, the footrace, the baseball team, the Sunday School picnic, the Fourth of July celebration, the dining room girls at the Palace Hotel, the cross country circus and the trial of the occasional line fence murder case—all were divertissements that engaged their passing young attention.
If ever the world was an oyster for a youth the world of Harvey and the fullness thereof was an oyster to Thomas Van Dorn. He had all that the crude western community cherished: the prestige of money, family, education, and that indefinable grace and courtesy of body and soul that we call charm. And Harvey people seemed to be made for him. He liked their candor, their strength, their crass materialism, their bray and bluster, their vain protests of democracy and their unconscious regard for his caste and culture. So whatever there was of egoism in his nature grew unchecked by Harvey. He was the young lord of the manor. However Harvey might hoot at his hat and gibe at his elided R's and mock his rather elaborate manners behind his back; nevertheless he had his way with the town and he knew that he was the master. While those about him worked and worried Tom Van Dorn had but to rub lightly his lamp and the slave appeared and served him. Naturally a young man of his conspicuous talents in his exceedingly early twenties who has the vast misfortune to have a lamp of Aladdin to rub, asks genii first of all for girls and girls and more girls. Then incidentally he asks for business and perhaps for politics and may be as an afterthought and for his own comfort he may pray for the good will of his fellows. Tom Van Dorn became known in the vernacular as a "ladies man." It did not hurt his reputation as a lawyer, for he was young and youth is supposed to have its follies so long as its follies are mere follies. No one in that day hinted that Tom Van Dorn was anything more dangerous than a butterfly. So he flitted from girl to girl, from love affair to love affair, from heart to heart in his gay clothes with his gay manners and his merry face. And men smiled and women and girls whispered and boys hooted and all the world gave the young lord his way. But when he included the dining room girls at the Palace Hotel in his list of conquests, Dr. Nesbit began squinting seriously at the youth and, late at night coming from his professional visits, when the doctor passed the young fellow returning from some humble home down near the river, the Doctor would pipe out in the night, "Tut, tut, Tom—this is no place for you."
But the Doctor was too busy with his own affairs to assume the guardianship of Tom Van Dorn. As Mayor of Harvey the Doctor made the young man city attorney, thereby binding the youth to the Mayor in the feudal system of politics and attaching all the prestige and charm and talent of the boy to the Doctor's organization.
For Dr. Nesbit in his blithe and cock-sure youth was born to politics as the sparks fly upward. Men looked to him for leadership and he blandly demanded that they follow him. He was every man's friend. He knew the whole county by its first name. The men, the women, the children, the dogs, the horses knew him and he knew and loved them all. But in return for his affection he expected loyalty. He was a jealous leader who divided no honors. Seven months in the year he wore white linen clothes and his white clad figure bustling through a crowd on Market Street on Saturday or elbowing its way through a throng at any formal gathering, or jogging through the night behind his sorrel mare or moving like a pink-faced cupid, turned Nemesis in a county convention, made him a marked man in the community. But what was more important, his distinction had a certain cheeriness about it. And his cheeriness was vocalized in a high, piping, falsetto voice, generally gay and nearly always soft and kindly. It expressed a kind of incarnate good nature that disarmed enmity and drew men to him instinctively. And underneath his amicability was iron. Hence men came to him in trouble and he healed their ills, cured their souls, went on their notes and took their hearts for his own, which carried their votes for his uses. So he became calif of Harvey.
Even deaf John Kollander who had political aspirations of a high order learned early that his road to glory led through obedience to the Doctor. So John went about the county demanding that the men who had saved the union should govern it and declaring that the flag of his country should not be trailed in the dust by vandal hands—meaning of course by "vandal hands" the opposition candidate for register of deeds or county clerk or for whatever county office John was asking at that election; and at the convention John's old army friends voted for the Doctor's slate and in the election they supported the Doctor's ticket. But tall, deaf John Kollander in his blue army clothes with their brass buttons and his campaign hat, always cut loose from Dr. Nesbit's paternal care after every election. For the Doctor, after he had tucked John away in a county office, asked only to appoint John's deputies and that Mrs. Kollander keep out of the Doctor's office and away from his house.
"I have no objections," the Doctor would chirrup at the ample, good-natured Rhoda Kollander who would haunt him during John's periods of political molting, pretending to advise with the Doctor on her husband's political status, "to your society from May until November every two years, Rhody, but that's enough. Now go home! Go home, woman," he commanded, "and look after your growing family."
And Rhoda Kollander would laugh amiably in telling it and say, "Now I suppose some women would get mad, but law, I know Doc Jim! He doesn't mean a thing!" Whereupon she would settle down where she was stopping until meal time and reluctantly remain to eat. As she settled comfortably at the table she would laugh easily and exclaim: "Now isn't it funny! I don't know what John and the boys will have. There isn't a thing in the house. But, law, I suppose they can get along without me once in a lifetime." Then she would laugh and eat heartily and sit around until the crisis at home had passed.
But the neighbors knew that John Kollander was opening a can of something, gathering the boys around him and as they ate, recounting the hardships of army life to add spice to an otherwise stale and unprofitable meal. Afterward probably he would go to some gathering of his comrades and there fight, bleed and die for his country. For he was an incorrigible patriot. The old flag, his country's honor, and the preservation of the union were themes that never tired him. He organized his fellow veterans in the town and county and helped to organize them in the state and was forever going to other towns to attend camp fires and rallies and bean dinners and reunions where he spoke with zeal and some eloquence about the danger of turning the country over to the southern brigadiers. He had a set speech which was greatly admired at the rallies and in this speech it was his wont to reach for one of the many flags that always adorned the platform on such occasions, tear it from its hanging and wrapping it proudly about his gaunt figure, recite a dialogue between himself and the angel Gabriel, the burden of which was that so long as John Kollander had that flag about him at the resurrection, no question would be asked at Heaven's gate of one of its defenders. Now the fact was that John Kollander was sent to the war of the rebellion a few weeks before the surrender of Lee at Appomattox, as Daniel Sands's paid substitute and his deafness was caused by firing an anvil at the peace jubilee in Cincinnati, the powder on the anvil being the only powder John Kollander ever had smelled. But his descriptions of battle and the hardships and horrors of war were none the less vivid and harrowing because he had never crossed the Ohio.
Those were the days when the Tribune was at its zenith—the days when Jared Thurston was employed as its foreman and Lizzie Coulter, pretty, blue-eyed, fair-haired Lizzie Coulter helped Mary Adams to set the type. It was not a long Day of Triumph, but while it lasted Mary and Amos made the most of it and spoke in a grand way about "the office force." They even had vague notions of starting a daily and many a night Jared and Amos pored over the type samples in the advertising in Rounds Printer's Cabinet, picked out the type they would need and the other equipment necessary for the new venture. But it was only a dream. For gradually Jared found Lizzie's eyes and he found more to interest him there than in the type-book, and so the dream faded and was gone.
Also as Lizzie's eyes began to glow in his sky, Jared let his interest lag in the talk at Casper Herdicker's shoe shop, though it was tall talk, and Jared sitting on a keg in a corner with little Tom Williams, the stone mason, beside him on a box, and Denny Hogan near him on a vacant work bench and Ira Dooley on the window ledge would wrangle until bed time many a night as Dick Bowman, wagging a warlike head, and Casper pegging away at his shoes, tore society into shreds, smashed idols and overturned civilization. Up to this point there was complete agreement between the iconoclasts. They went so far together that they had no quarrel about the route of the mob down Fifth Avenue in New York—which Dick knew only as a legend but which Casper had seen; and they were one in the belief that Dan Sands's bank and Wright & Perry's store should fall early in the sack of Market Street. But when it came to reconstructing society there was a clash that mounted to a cataclysm. For Dick, shaking his head violently, demanded a government that should regulate everything and Casper waving a vicious, flat-nosed hammer, battered down all government and stood for the untrammeled and unhampered liberty of the individual. Night after night they looted civilization and stained the sky with their fires and the ground with the oppressor's blood, only to sink their claws and tusks into each other's vitals in mortal combat over the spoil.
About the time that Jared Thurston found the new stars that had ranged across his ken, Tom Van Dorn, the handsome, cheerful, exquisite Tom Van Dorn began to find the debates between Casper and Dick Bowman diverting. So many a night when the society of the softer sex was either cloying or inconvenient, the dapper young fellow would come dragging Henry Fenn with him, to sit on a rickety chair and observe the progress of the revolution and to enjoy the carnage that always followed the downfall of the established order. He used to sit beside Jared Thurston who, being a printer, was supposed to belong to the more intellectual of the crafts and hence more appreciative than Williams or Dooley or Hogan, of his young lordship's point of view; and as the debate waxed warm, Tom was wont to pinch the lean leg of Mr. Thurston in lieu of the winks Tom dared not venture. But a time came when Jared Thurston sat apart from Van Dorn and stared coldly at him. And as Tom and Henry Fenn walked out of the human slaughter house that Dick and Casper had made after a particularly bloody revolt against the capitalistic system, Henry Fenn walked for a time beside his friend looking silently at the earth while Van Dorn mooned and star-gazed with wordy delight. Henry lifted his face, looked at Tom with great, bright, sympathetic eyes and cut in:
"Tom—why are you playing with Lizzie Coulter? She is not in your class or of your kind. What's your idea in cutting in between Jared and her; you'll only make trouble."
A smile, a gay, happy, and withal a seductive smile lit up the handsome, oval face of young Mr. Van Dorn. The smile became a laugh, a quiet, insinuating, good-natured, light-hearted laugh. As he laughed he replied:
"Lizzie's all right, Henry—don't worry about Lizzie." Again he laughed a gentle, deep-voiced chuckle, and held up his hand in the moonlight. A brown scab was lined across the back of the hand and as Henry saw it Van Dorn spoke: "Present from Lizzie—little pussy." Again he chuckled and added, "Nearly made the horse run away, too. Anyway," he laughed pleasantly, "when I left her she promised to go again."
But Henry Fenn returned to his point: "Tom," he cried, "don't play with Lizzie—she's not your kind, and it's breaking Jared's heart. Can't you see what you're doing? You'll go down there a dozen times, make love to her, hold her hand and kiss her and go away and pick up another girl. But she's the whole world and Heaven to boot for Jared. She's his one little ewe lamb, Tom. And she'd be happy with Jared if—"
"If she wants Jared she can have him. I'm not holding her," interrupted the youth. "And anyway," he exclaimed, "what do I owe to Jared and what do I owe to her or to any one but myself!"
Fenn did not answer at once. At length he broke the silence. "Well, you heard what I said and I didn't smile when I said it."
But Tom Van Dorn did smile as he answered, a smile of such sweetness, and of such winning grace that it sugar-coated his words.
"Henry," he cried in his gay, deep voice with the exuberance of youth ringing in it, "the world is mine. You know what I think about this whole business. If Lizzie doesn't want me to bother her she mustn't have such eyes and such hair and such lips. In this life I shall take what I find that I can get. I'm not going to be meek nor humble nor patient, nor forgiving and forbearing and I'm not going to refrain from a mutton roast because some one has a ewe lamb."
He put a warm, kind, brotherly hand on the shoulder beside him. "Shocked, aren't you, Henry?" he asked, laughing.
Henry Fenn looked up with a gentle, glowing smile on his rather dull face and returned, "No, Tom. Maybe you can make it go, but I couldn't."
"Well, I can. Watch me," he cried arrogantly. "Henry, I want the advantage of my strength in this world and I'm not going to go puling around, golden-ruling and bending my back to give the weak and worthless a ride. Let 'em walk. Let 'em fall. Let 'em rot for all I care. I'm not afraid of their God. There is no God. There is nature. Up to the place where man puts on trousers it's a battle of thews and teeth. And nature never intended pants to mark the line where she changes the order of things. And the servile, weakling, groveling, charitable, cowardly philosophy of Christ—it doesn't fool me, Henry. I'm a pagan and I want the advantage of all the force, all the power, that nature gave me, to live life as a dangerous, exhilarating experience. I shall live life to the full—live it hard—live it beautifully, but live it! live it! Henry, live it like a gentleman and not like an understrapper and bootlicker! I intend to command, not obey! Rule, not serve! I shall take and not give—not give save as it pleases me to have my hand licked now and then! As for Lizzie and Jared," young Mr. Van Dorn waved a gay hand, "let them look out for themselves. They're not my worries!"
"But, Tom," remonstrated Henry as he looked at the ground, "it's nothing to me of course, but Lizzie—"
"Ah, Henry," Van Dorn laughed gayly, "I'm not going to hurt Lizzie. She's good fun: that's all. And now look here, Mr. Preacher—you come moralizing around me about what I'm doing to some one else, which after all is not my business but hers; and I'm right here to tell you, what you're doing to yourself, and that's your business and no one's else. You're drinking too much. People are talking about it. Quit it! Whisky never won a jury. In the Morse case you loaded up for your speech and I beat you because in all your agonizing about the wrong to old man Mueller and his 'pretty brown-eyed daughter' as you called her, you forgot slick and clean the flaw in Morse's deed."
"I suppose you're right, Tom. But I was feeling kind of off that day, mother'd been sick the night before and—"
"And so you filled up with a lot of bad whisky and driveled and wept and stumbled through the case and I beat you. I tell you, Henry, I keep myself fit. I have no time to look after others. My job is myself and you'll find that unless you look after yourself no one else will, at least whisky won't. If I find girling is beating me in my law cases I quit girling. But it doesn't. Lord, man, the more I know of human nature, the more I pick over the souls of these country girls and blow open the petals of their pretty hearts, the wiser I am."
"But the girls, Tom—the girls—" protested the somber-eyed Mr. Fenn.
"Ah, I don't hurt 'em and they like it. And so long as your whisky hamestrings you and my girls give me what I need in my business—don't talk to me."
Tom Van Dorn left Fenn at his mother's door and as Fenn saw his friend turn toward the south he called, "Aren't you going to your room?"
"Why, it's only eleven o'clock," answered Van Dorn. To the inquiring silence Van Dorn called, "I'm going down to see Lizzie."
Henry Fenn stood looking at his friend, who explained: "That's all right. I said I'd be down to-night and she'll wait."
"Well—" said Fenn. But Van Dorn cut him short with "Now, Henry, I can take care of myself. Lizzie can take care of herself—and you're the only one of us who, as I see it, needs careful nursing!" And with that he went striding away.
And three hours later when the moon was waning in the west a girl sitting by her window gazed at the red orb and dreamed beautiful dreams, such as a girl may dream but once, of the prince who had come to her so gloriously. While the prince strolled up the street with his coat over his arm, his hat in his hand, letting the night wind flutter the raven's wing of hair on his brow, and as he went he laughed to himself softly and laughed and laughed. For are we not told of old to put not our trust in princes!
[Footnote 1: The reader may be interested in seeing one of Mary Adams's clippings with a note attached. Here is one concerning Mrs. John Kollander. The clipping from the Harvey Tribune of June, 1871, reads:
"Mrs. Rhoda Byrd Kollander arrived to-day from Elyria, Ohio. It is her first visit to Harvey and she was greeted by her husband, Hon. John Kollander, Register of Deeds of Greeley County, with a handsome new home in Elm Street."
Then under it is this note:
"Of all the women of the Elyria settlers, Rhoda Kollander would not come with us and face the hardships of pioneer life; but she made John come out, get an office and build her a cabin before she would come. Rhoda will not be happy as an angel unless they have rocking chairs in Heaven."]
[Footnote 2: Let us read Mary Adams's clipping and note on the arrival of young Thomas Van Dorn in Harvey. The clipping which is from the local page of the paper reads:
"Thomas Van Dorn, son of the late General Nicholas Van Dorn of Schenectady, New York, has located in Harvey for the practice of law and his advertising card appears elsewhere. Mr. Van Dorn is a Yale man and a law graduate of that school as well as an alumnus of the college. As a youth with his father young Thomas stopped in Harvey the day the town was founded. He was a member of the hunting party organized by Wild Bill which under General Van Dorn's patronage escorted the Russian Grand Duke Alexis over this part of the state after buffalo and wild game. Mr. Thomas Van Dorn remembers the visit well, and old settlers will recall the fact that Daniel Sands that day sold for $100 in gold to the General the plot now known as Van Dorn's addition to Harvey. Mr. Thomas Van Dorn still has the deed to the plot and will soon put the lots on the market. He was a pleasant caller at the Tribune office this week. Come again, say we."
And upon a paper whereon the clipping is pasted is this in Mary Adams's hand:
"The famous Van Dorn baby! How the years have flown since the scandal of his mother's elopement and his father's duel with Sir Charles shook two continents. What an old rake the General was. And the boy's mother after two other marriages and a sad period on the variety stage died alone in penury! And Amos says that the General was so insolent to his men in the war, that he dared not go into action with them for fear they would shoot him in the back. Yet the boy is as lovely and gentle a creature as one could ask to meet. This is as it should be."]
IN WHICH WE CONSIDER THE LADIES—GOD BLESS 'EM!
During those years in the late seventies and the early eighties, the genii on the Harvey job grunted and grumbled as they worked, for the hours were long and tedious and the material was difficult to handle. Kyle Perry's wife died, and it was all the genii could do to find him a cook who would stay with him and his lank, slab-sided son, and when the genii did produce a cook—the famous Katrina, they wished her on Kyle and the boy for life, and she ruled them with an iron rod. And to even things up, they let Kyle stutter himself into a partnership with Ahab Wright—though Kyle was trying to tell Ahab that they should have a partition in their stable. But partition was too much of a mouthful and poor Kyle fell to stuttering on it and found himself sold into bondage for life by the genii, dispensing nails and cod-fish and calico as Ahab's partner, before Kyle could get rid of the word partition.
The genii also had to break poor Casper Herdicker's heart—and he had one, and a big one, despite his desire for blood and plunder; and they broke it when his wife Brunhilde deserted the hearthstone back of the shoe-shop, rented a vacant store room on Market Street and went into the millinery way of life. And it wasn't enough that the tired genii had to gouge out the streets of Harvey; to fill in the gulleys and ravines; to dab in scores of new houses; to toil and moil over the new hotel, witching up four bleak stories upon the prairie. It wasn't enough that they had to cast a spell on people all over the earth, dragging strangers to Harvey by trainloads; it wasn't enough that the overworked genii should have to bring big George Brotherton to town with the railroad—and he was load enough for any engine; his heart itself weighed ten stone; it wasn't enough that they had to find various and innumerable contraptions for Captain Morton to peddle, but there was Tom Van Dorn's new black silk mustache to grow, and to be oiled and curled daily; so he had to go to the Palace Hotel barber shop at least once every day, and passing the cigar counter, he had to pass by Violet Mauling—pretty, empty-faced, doll-eyed Violet Mauling at the cigar stand. And all the long night and all the long day, the genii, working on the Harvey job, cast spells, put on charms, and did their deepest sorcery to take off the power of the magic runes that young Tom's black art were putting upon her; and day after day the genii felt their highest potencies fail. So no wonder they mumbled and grumbled as they bent over their chores. For a time, the genii had tried to work on Tom Van Dorn's heart after he dropped Lizzie Coulter and sent her away on a weary life pilgrimage with Jared Thurston, as the wife of an itinerant editor; but they found nothing to work on under Tom's cigar holder—that is, nothing in the way of a heart. There was only a kind of public policy. So the genii made the public policy as broad and generous as they could and let it go at that.
Tom Van Dorn and Henry Fenn rioted in their twenties. John Hollander saved a bleeding country, pervaded the courthouse and did the housework at home while Rhoda, his wife, who couldn't cook hard boiled eggs, organized the French Cooking Club. Captain Ezra Morton spent his mental energy upon the invention of a self-heating molasses spigot, which he hoped would revolutionize the grocery business while his physical energy was devoted to introducing a burglar proof window fastener into the proud homes that were dotting the tall grass environs of Harvey. Amos Adams was hearing rappings and holding-high communion with great spirits in the vasty deep. Daniel Sands, having buried his second wife, was making eyes at a third and spinning his financial web over the town. Dr. and Mrs. Nesbit were marvelling at the mystery of a child's soul, a maiden's soul, reaching out tendril after tendril as the days made years. The Dick Bowman's were holding biennial receptions to the little angels who came to the house in the Doctor's valise—and welcomed, hilariously welcomed babies they were—welcomed with cigars and free drinks at Riley's saloon by Dick, and in awed silence by Lida, his wife—welcomed even though the parents never knew exactly how the celestial guests were to be robed and harped; while the Joe Calvins of proud Elm Street, opulent in an eight room house, with the town's one bath tub, scowled at the angels who kept on coming nevertheless—for such is the careless and often captious way of angels that come to the world in the doctor's black bag—kept on coming to the frowning house of Calvin as frequently and as idly as they came to the gay Bowmans. Looking back on those days a generation later, it would seem as if the whole town were a wilderness of babies. They came on the hill in Elm Street, a star-eyed baby named Ann even came to the Daniel Sandses, and a third baby to the Ezra Mortons and another to the Kollanders (which gave Rhoda an excuse for forming a lifelong habit of making John serve her breakfast in bed to the scorn of Mrs. Nesbit and Mrs. Herdicker who for thirty years sniffed audibly about Rhoda's amiable laziness) and the John Dexters had one that came and went in the night. But down by the river—there they came in flocks. The Dooleys, the McPhersons, the Williamses and the hordes of unidentified men and women who came to saw boards, mix mortar, make bricks and dig—to them the kingdom of Heaven was very near, for they suffered little children and forbade them not. And also, because the kingdom was so near—so near even to homes without sewers, homes where dirt and cold and often hunger came—the children were prone to hurry back to the Kingdom discouraged with their little earthly pilgrimages. For those who had dragged chains and hewed wood and drawn water in the town's first days seemed by some specific gravity of the social system to be holding their places at those lower levels—always reaching vainly and eagerly, but always reaching a little higher and a little further from them for that equality of opportunity which seemed to lie about them that first day when the town was born.
In the upper reaches of the town Henry Fenn's bibulous habits became accepted matters to a wider and wider circle and Tom Van Dorn still had his way with the girls while the town grinned at the two young men in gay reproval. But Amos Adams through his familiar spirits got solemn, cryptic messages for the young men—from Tom's mother and Henry's father. Amos, abashed, but never afraid, used to deliver these messages with incidental admonitions of his own—kind, gentle and gorgeously ineffective. Then he would return to his office with a serene sense of a duty well done, and meet and feast upon the eyes of Mary, his wife, keen, hungry eyes, filled with more or less sinful pride in his strength.
No defeat that ever came to Amos Adams, and because he was born out of his time, defeat was his common portion, and no contumely ever was his in a time when men scorned the evidence of things not seen, no failure, no apparent weakness in her husband's nature, ever put a tremor in her faith in him. For she knew his heart. She could hear his armor clank and see it shine; she could feel the force and the precision of his lance when all the world of Harvey saw only a dreamer in rusty clothes, fumbling with some stupid and ponderous folly that the world did not understand. The printing office that Mary and Amos thought so grand was really a little pine shack, set on wooden piers on a side street. Inside in the single room, with the rough-coated walls above the press and type-cases covered with inky old sale bills, and specimens of the Tribune's printing—inside the office which seemed to Mary and Amos the palace of a race of giants, others saw only a shabby, inky, little room, with an old fashioned press and a jobber among the type racks in the gloom to the rear. Through the front window that looked into a street filled with loads of hay and wood, and with broken wagons, and scrap iron from a wheelwright's shop, Amos Adams looked for the everlasting sunrise, and Mary saw it always in his face.
But this is idling; it is not getting on with the Book. A score of men and women are crowding up to these pages waiting to get into the story. And the town of Harvey, how it is bursting its bounds, how it is sprawling out over the white paper, tumbling its new stores and houses and gas mains and water pipes all over the table; with what a clatter and clamor and with what vain pride! Now the pride of those years in Harvey came with the railroad, and here, pulling at the paper, stands big George Brotherton with his ten stone heart. He has been sputtering and nagging for a dozen pages to swing off the front platform of the first passenger car that came to town. He was a fat, overgrown youth in his late teens, but he wore the uniform of a train newsboy, and any uniform is a uniform. His laugh was like the crash of worlds—and it is to-day after thirty years. When the road pushed on westward Brotherton remained in Harvey and even though the railroad roundhouse employed five hundred men and even though the town's population doubled and then trebled, still George Brotherton was better than everything else that the railroad brought. He found work in a pool and billiard hall; but that was a pent-up Utica for him and his contracted powers sent him to Daniel Sands for a loan of twenty-five dollars. The unruffled exterior, the calm impudence with which the boy waived aside the banker's request for a second name on George's note, and the boy's obvious eagerness to be selling something, secured the money and established him in a cigar store and news stand. Within a year the store became a social center that rivaled Riley's saloon and being near the midst of things in business, attracted people of a different sort from those who frequented Casper Herdicker's debating school in the shoe shop. To the cigar stand by day came Dr. Nesbit with his festive but guileful politics, Joe Calvin, Amos Adams, stuttering Kyle Perry, deaf John Kollander, occasionally Dick Bowman, Ahab Wright in his white necktie and formal garden whiskers, Rev. John Dexter and Captain Morton; while by night the little store was a forum for young Mortimer Sands, for Tom Van Dorn, for Henry Fenn, for the clerks of Market Street and for such gay young blades as were either unmarried or being married were brave enough to break the apron string. For thirty years, nearly a generation, they have been meeting there night after night and on rainy days, taking the world apart and putting it together again to suit themselves. And though strangers have come into the council at Brotherton's, Captain Morton remains dean. And though the Captain does not know it, being corroded with pride, there still clings about the place a tradition of the day when Captain Morton rode his high wheeled bicycle, the first the town ever had seen, in the procession to his wife's funeral. They say it was the Captain's serene conviction that his agency for the bicycle—exclusive for five counties—would make him rich, and that it was no lack of love and respect for his wife but rather an artist's pride in his work as the distributor of a long-felt want which perched Ezra Morton on that high wheel in the funeral procession. For Mary Adams who knew, who was with the stricken family when death came, who was in the lonely house when the family came home from the cemetery, says that Ezra's grief was real. Surely thirty years of singlehearted devotion to the three motherless girls should prove his love.
Those were gala days for Captain Morton; the whole universe was flowering in his mind in schemes and plans and devices which he hoped to harness for his power and glory. And the forensic group at Mr. Brotherton's had much first hand information from the Captain as to the nature of his proposed activities and his prospective conquests. And while the Captain in his prime was surveying the world that was about to come under his domain the house of Adams, little and bleak and poor, down near the Wahoo on the homestead which the Adamses had taken in the sixties became in spite of itself, a gay and festive habitation. Childhood always should make a home bright and there came a time when the little house by the creek fairly blossomed with young faces. The children of the Kollanders, the Perrys, the Calvins, the Nesbits, and the Bowmans—girls and boys were everywhere and they knew all times and seasons. But the red poll and freckled face of Grant Adams was the center of this posy bed of youth.
Grant was a shrill-voiced boy, impulsive and passionately generous and all but obsessed with a desire to protect the weak. Whether it was bug, worm or dog, or hunted animal or bullied child or drunken man, fly-swarmed and bedeviled of boys in the alley, or a little girl teased by her playmates, Grant—fighting mad, came rushing in to do battle for the victim. Yet he was no anemic child of ragged nerves. His fist went straight when he fought, and landed with force. His eyes saw accurately and his voice carried terror in it.
He was a vivid youth, and without him the place down by the river would have been bleak and dreary. But because Grant was in the world, the rusty old phaeton in which Amos and Mary rode daily from the farm to their work, gradually bedecked itself with budding childhood blooming into youth, and it was no longer drab and dusty, but a veritable chariot of life. When Grant was a sturdy boy of eight, little Jasper Adams came into this big bewildering world. And after Grant and his gardenful of youth were gone, Jasper's garden followed. And there was a short season when the two gardens were growing together. It was in that season while Grant was just coming into shoeblacking and paper collars, that in some indefinite way, Laura Nesbit, daughter of the Doctor and Bedelia Satterthwaite, his blue blooded Maryland wife, separated herself from the general beauty of the universe and for Grant, Laura became a particular person. In Mary Adams's note book she writes with maternal pride of his fancy for Laura: "It is the only time in Grant's life when he has looked up instead of down for something to love." And the mother sets down a communication from Socrates through the planchette to Amos, declaring that "Love is a sphere center"—a message which doubtless the fond parents worked into tremendous import for their child. Though a communication from some anonymous sage called the Peach Blow Philosopher, who began haunting Amos as a familiar spirit about this time recorded the oracle, also carefully preserved by Mary in her book among the prophecies for Grant that, "Carrots, while less fragrant than roses, are better for the blood." And while the cosmic forces were wrestling with these problems for Grant and Laura, the children were tripping down their early teens all innocent of the uproar they were making among the sages and statesmen and conquerors who flocked about the planchette board for Amos every night. For Laura, Grant carved tiny baskets from peach-pits and coffee beans; for her he saved red apples and candy globes that held in their precious insides gorgeous pictures; for her he combed his hair and washed his neck; for her he scribbled verses wherein eyes met skies, and arts met hearts, and beams met dreams and loves the doves.
The joy of first love that comes in early youth—and always it does come then, though it is not always confessed—is a gawky and somewhat guilty joy that spends itself in sighs and blushes and Heaven knows what of self-discovery. Thus Grant in Laura's autograph album after all his versifying on the kitchen table could only write "Truly Yours" and leave her to define the deep significance of the phrase so obviously inverted. And she in his autograph album could only trust herself—though naturally being female she was bolder—to the placid depths of "As ever your friend." Though in lean, hungry-eyed Nathan Perry's book she burst into glowing words of deathless remembrance and Grant wrote in Emma Morton's album fervid stanzas wherein "you" rimed with "the wandering Jew" and "me" with "eternity." At school where the subtle wisdom of childhood reads many things not writ in books, the names of Grant and Laura were linked together, in the innocent gossip of that world.
They say that modern thought deems these youthful experiences dangerous and superfluous; and so probably they will end, and the joy of this earliest mating season will be bottled up and stored for a later maturity. God is wise and good. Doubtless some new and better thing will take the place of this first moving of the waters of life in the heart; but for us of the older generation that is beginning to fade, we are glad that untaught and innocent, our lips tasted from that spring when in the heart was no knowledge of the poison that might come with the draft.
A tall, shy, vivid girl, but above everything else, friendly, was Laura Nesbit in her middle teens; and though Grant in later years remembered her as having wonderful gray eyes, the elder town of Harvey for the most part recollects her only as a gay and kindly spirit looking out into the world through a happy, inquiring face. But the elder town could not in the nature of things know Laura Nesbit as the children knew her. For the democracy of childhood has its own estimates of its own citizens and the children of Harvey—the Dooleys and the Williamses and the Bowmans as well as the Calvins, the Mortons, the Sandses and the Kollanders, remember Laura Nesbit for something more than her rather gawky body. To the children, she was a bright soul. They remember—and the Bowmans better than any one else—that Laura Nesbit shared what she had with every one. She never ate a whole stick of candy in her life. From her school lunch-basket, the Dooleys had their first oranges and the Williamses their first bananas. Apples for the Bowmans and maple sugar—a rare delicacy on the prairies in those days—for every one came from her wonderful basket. And though her mother kept Laura in white aprons when the other girls were in ginghams and in little red and black woolen, though the child's wonderful yellow hair, soft and wavy like her father's plumey roach, was curled with great care and much pride, it was her mother's pride—the grim Satterthwaite demand for caste in any democracy. But even with those caste distinctions there was the face that smiled, the lips that trembled in sympathy, the heart that felt the truth.
"Jim," quoth the mother on a day when the yard was full of Dooleys and Bowmans and Calvins—Calvins, whom Mrs. Nesbit regarded as inferior even to the Dooleys because of the vast Calvin pretense—"Jim, Laura has inherited that common Indiana streak of yours. I can't make her a Satterthwaite—she's Indiana to the bone. Why, when I go to town with her, every drayman and ditch digger and stableman calls to her, and the yard is always full of their towheaded children. I'll give her up."
And the Doctor gurgled a chuckle and gave her up also.
She always came with her father to the Adamses on Sunday afternoons, and while the Doctor and Amos Adams on the porch went into the matter of the universe as either a phantasm superinduced by the notion of time, or the notion of time as an hallucination of those who believed in space, down by the creek Grant and Laura sitting under the oak near the silent, green pool were feeling their way around the universe, touching shyly and with great abasement the cords that lead from the body to the soul, from material to the spiritual, from dust to God.
It is a queer world, a world that is past finding out. Here are two children, touching souls in the fleetest, lightest way in the world, and the touch welds them together forever. And along come two others, and even as the old song has it, "after touch of wedded hands," they are strangers yet. No one knows what makes happiness in love. Certainly marriage is no part of it. Certainly it is not first love, for first lovers often quarrel like cats. Certainly it is not separation, for absence, alas, does not make the heart grow fonder; nor is it children—though the good God knows that should help; for they are love incarnate. Certainly it is not respect, for respect is a stale, cold comforter, and love is deeper than respect, and often lives without it—let us whisper the truth in shame. What, then, is this irrational current of the stuff of life, that carries us all in its sway, that brings us to earth, that guides our destiny here—makes so vastly for our happiness or woe, gives us strength or makes us weak, teaches us wisdom or leads us into folly unspeakable, and all unseen, unmeasured and infinitely mysterious?
There was young Tom Van Dorn. Love was a pleasurable emotion, and because it put a joyous fever in his blood, it enhanced his life. But he never defined love; he merely lived on it. Then there was Ahab Wright who regarded love as a kind of sin and when he married the pale, bloodless, shadowy bookkeeper in Wright & Perry's store, he regarded the charivari prepared by Morty Sands and George Brotherton as a shameful rite and tried for an hour to lecture the crowd in his front yard on the evils of unseemly conduct before he gave them an order on the store for a bucket of mixed candy. If Ahab had defined love he would have put cupid in side whiskers and a white necktie and set the fat little god to measuring shingle nails, cod-fish and calico on week days and sitting around in a tail coat and mouse-colored trousers on Sunday, reading the Christian Evangel and the Price Current. And again there was Daniel Sands who married five women in a long and more or less useful life. He would have defined love as the apotheosis of comfort. Finally there was Henry Fenn to whom love became the compelling force of his being. Love is many things: indeed only this seems sure. Love is the current of our lives, and like minnows we run in schools through it, guided by instinct and by herd suggestions; and some of us are washed ashore; some of us are caught and devoured, and others fare forth in joy and reach the deep.
One rainy day when the conclave in Brotherton's cigar store was weary of discussing the quarrel of Mr. Conklin and Mr. Blaine and the eccentricities of the old German Kaiser, the subject of love came before the house for discussion. Dr. Nesbit, who dropped in incidentally to buy a cigar, but primarily to see George Brotherton about some matters of state in the Third ward, found young Tom Van Dorn stroking his new silky mustache, squinting his eyes and considering himself generally in the attitude of little Jack Horner after the plum episode.
"Speaking broadly," squeaked the Doctor, breaking irritably into the talk, "touching the ladies, God bless 'em—from young Tom's angle, there's nothing to 'em. Broad is the petticoat that leadeth to destruction." The Doctor turned from young Van Dorn, and looked critically at some obvious subject of Van Dorn's remarks as she picked her way across the muddy street, showing something more than a wink of striped stockings, "Tom, there's nothing in it—not a thing in the world."
"Oh,—I don't know," returned the youth, wagging an impudent, though good-natured head at the Doctor; "what else is there in the world if not in that? The world's full of it—flowers, trees, birds, beasts, men and women—the whole damn universe is afire with it. It's God; there is no other God—just nature building and propagating and perpetuating herself."
"I suppose," squeaked the Doctor with a sigh, as he reached for his morning paper, "that if I had nothing else to do for a living except practice law with Joe Calvin on the side and just be twenty-five years old three hundred days in the year, and no other chores except to help old man Sands rib up his waterworks deal, I would hold some such general views myself. But when I was twenty-five, young man, Bedelia and I were running a race with the meal ticket, and our notions as to the moral government of the universe came hard and were deepset, and we can't change them now."
George Brotherton, Henry Fenn, Captain Morton and Amos Adams came in with a kind of Greek chorus of general agreement with the Doctor. Van Dorn cocked his hat over his eyes and laughed, and then the Doctor went on in his high falsetto:
"It's all right, Tom; go it while you're young. But that kind of love's young dream generally ends in a nightmare." He hesitated a minute, and then said: "Well, so long as we're all here in the family, I'll tell you about a case I had last night. There's an old fellow—old Dutchman to be exact, down in Spring township; he came here with us when we founded the town; husky old boy, that is, he used to be fifteen years ago. And he had Tom's notion about the ladies, God bless 'em, when he was Tom's age. When I first knew him his notion was causing him trouble, and had settled in one leg, and last night he died of the ladies, God bless 'em."
The Doctor's face flinched with pain, and his treble voice winced as he spoke: "Lord, but he suffered, and to add to his physical torment, he knew that he had to leave his daughter all alone in the world—and without a mother and without a dollar; but that isn't the worst, and he knew it—at the last. This being twenty-five for a living is the hardest job on earth—when you're sixty, and the old man knew that. The girl has missed his blood taint; she's not scarred nor disfigured. It would be better if she were; but he gave her something worse—she's his child!" For a moment the Doctor was silent, then he sighed deeply and shut his eyes as he said: "Boys, for a year and more he's been seeing all that he was, bud like a glorious poison in his daughter."
Van Dorn smiled, and asked casually, "Well, what's her name?" The rest of the group in the store looked down their noses and the Doctor, with his paper under his arm, obviously ignored the question and only stopped in the door to pipe out: "This wasn't the morning to talk to me of the ladies—God bless 'em."
The men in the store watched him as he started across the street, and then saw Laura skip gayly toward him, and the two, holding hands, crossed the muddy street together. She was laughing, and the joy of her soul—a child's soul, shone like a white flame in the dull street and George Brotherton, who saw the pair in the street, roared out: "Well, say—now isn't that something worth looking at? That beats Niagara Falls and Pike's Peak—for me."
Captain Morton looked at the gay pair attentively for a moment and spoke: "And I have three to his one; I tell you, gentlemen—three to his one; and I guess I haven't told you gentlemen about it, but I got the exclusive agency for seven counties for Golden's Patent Self-Opening Fruit Can, an absolute necessity for every household, and in another year my three will be wearing their silks and diamonds!" He smiled proudly around the group and added: "My! that doesn't make any difference. Silk or gingham, I know I've got the best girls on earth—why, if their mother could just see 'em—see how they're unfolding—why, Emma can make every bit as good hash as her mother," a hint of tears stood in his blue eyes. "Why—men, I tell you sometimes I want to die and go right off to Heaven to tell mother all the fine news about 'em—eh?" Deaf John Kollander, with his hand to his less affected ear, nodded approval and said, "That's what I always said, James G. Blaine never was a true friend of the soldier!"
Van Dorn had been looking intently at nothing through the store window. When no one answered Captain Morton, Van Dorn addressed the house rather impersonally:
"Man is the blindest of the mammals. You'd think as smart a man as Dr. Nesbit would see his own vices. Here he is mayor of Harvey, boss of the town. He buys men with Morty's father's money and sells 'em in politics like sheep—not for his own gain; not for his family's gain; but just for the joy of the sport; just as I follow the ladies, God bless 'em; and yet he stands up and reads me a lecture on the wickedness of a little more or less innocent flirting." The young man lighted his cigar at the alcohol flame on the counter. "Morty," he continued, squinting his eyes and stroking his mustache, and looking at the boy with vast vanity, "Morty, do you know what your old dad and yon virtuous Nesbit pasha are doing? Well, I'll tell you something you didn't learn at military school. They're putting up a deal by which we've voted one hundred thousand dollars' worth of city bonds as bonus in aid of a system of city water works and have given them to your dad outright, for putting in a plant that he will own and control; and that he will build for seventy-five thousand dollars." Van Dorn smiled a placid, malevolent smile at the group and went on: "And the sheik of the village there helped Daniel Sands put it through; helped him buy me as city attorney, with your father's bank's legal business; helped buy Dick Bowman, poor devil with a houseful of children for a hundred dollars for his vote in the council, helped work George here for his vote in the council by lending money to him for his business; and so on down the line. The Doc calls that politics, and regards it as one of his smaller vices; but me?" scoffed the young man, "when I go gamboling down the primrose path of dalliance with a lady on each arm—or maybe more, I am haled before the calif and sentenced to his large and virtuous displeasure. Man,"—here young Mr. Van Dorn drummed his fingers on the showcase and considered the universe calmly through the store window—"man is the blindest of mammals." After which smiling deliverance, Thomas Van Dorn picked up his morning paper, and his gloves, and stalked with some dignity into the street.
"Well, say,"—Brotherton was the first to speak—"rather cool—"
"Shame, shame!" cried John Kollander, as he buttoned up his blue coat with its brass buttons. "Where was Blaine when the bullets were thickest? Answer me that." No one answered, but Captain Morton began:
"Now, George, why, that's all right. Didn't the people vote the bonds after you fellows submitted 'em? Of course they did. The town wanted waterworks; Daniel Sands knew how to build 'em—eh? The people couldn't build 'em themselves, could they?" asked the Captain triumphantly. Brotherton laughed; Morty Sands grinned,—and, shame be to Amos Adams, the rugged Puritan, who had opposed the bonds in his paper so boldly, he only shook a sorrowful head and lifted no voice in protest. Such is the weakness of our thunderers without their lightning! Brotherton, who still seemed uneasy, went on: "Say, men, didn't that franchise call for a system of electric lights and gas in five years and a telephone system in ten years more—all for that $100,000; I'm right here to tell you we got a lot for our money."
Again Amos Adams swallowed his Adam's apple and cut in as boldly as a man may who thinks with his lead pencil: "And don't forget the street car franchises you gave away at the same time. Water, light, gas, telephone and street car franchises for fifty years and one hundred thousand to boot! It seemed to me you were giving away a good deal!"
But John Kollander's approving nod and George Brotherton's great laugh overcame the editor, and the talk turned to other things.
There came a day in Harvey when men, looking back at events from the perspective of another day, believed that in those old days of Harvey, Daniel Sands was master and Dr. Nesbit was servant. And there was much evidence to indicate that Daniel's was the master spirit of those early times. But the evidence was merely based on facts, and facts often are far from the truth. The truth is that Daniel Sands was the beneficiary of much of the activity of Doctor Nesbit in those days, but the truth is also that Doctor Nesbit did what he did—won the county seat for Harvey, secured the railroad, promoted the bond election, which gave Daniel Sands the franchises for the distribution of water, gas and electricity—not because the Doctor had any particular regard for Daniel Sands but because, first of all, the good of the town, as the Doctor saw it, seemed to require him to act as he acted; and second, because his triumph at any of these elections meant power, and he was greedy for power. But he always used his power to make others happy. No man ever came to the Doctor looking for work that he could not find work for that man. Men in ditches, men on light poles, men in the court house, men at Daniel Sands's furnaces, men grading new streets, men working on city or county contracts knew but one source of authority in Harvey, and that was Doctor James Nesbit. Daniel Sands was a mere money grubbing incident of that power. Daniel could have won no one to vote with him; the county seat would have gone to a rival town, the railroad would not have veered five miles out of its way to reach Harvey, and a dozen promoters would have wrangled for a dozen franchises but for Dr. Nesbit.
And if Dr. Nesbit made it his business to see that Dick Bowman had work, it was somewhat because he knew how badly the little Bowmans needed food. And if he saw to it that Dick's vote in the council occasionally yielded him a substantial return from those whom that vote benefited so munificently, it was partly because the Doctor felt how sorely Lida Bowman, silently bending over her washtub, needed the little comforts which the extra fifty-dollar bill would bring that Dick sometimes found in his monthly pay envelope. And if the Doctor saw to it that Ira Dooley was made foreman of the water works gang, or that Tom Williams had the contract for the stone work on the new court house, it was largely in payment for services rendered by Ira and Tom in bringing in the Second Ward for John Kollander for county clerk. The rewards of Ira and Tom in working for the Doctor were virtue's own; and if re-marking a hundred ballots was part of that blessed service, well and good. And also it must be recorded that the foremanship and the stone contract were somewhat the Doctor's way of showing Mrs. Dooley and Mrs. Williams that he wished them well.
Doctor Nesbit's scheme of politics included no punishments for his enemies, and he desired every one for his friend. The round, pink face, the high-roached, yellow hair, the friendly, blue eyes, had no place for hate in them, and in the high-pitched, soft voice was no note of terror to evil doers. His countenance did not betray his power; that was in his tireless little legs, his effective hands, and his shrewd brain motived by a heart too kind for the finer moral distinctions that men must make who go far in this world. Yet because he had a heart, a keen mind, even without much conscience, and a vision larger than those about him, Dr. Nesbit was their leader. He did not move in a large sphere, but in his small sphere he was the central force, the dominating spirit. And off in a dark corner, Daniel Sands, who was hunger incarnate and nothing more, spun his web, gathered the dust and the flies and the weaker insects and waxed fat. To say that his mind ruled Dr. Nesbit's, to say that Daniel Sands was master and Dr. Nesbit servant in those first decades of Harvey—whatever the facts may seem in those later days—is one of those ornately ridiculous travesties upon the truth that facts sometimes are arranged to make. But how little did they know what they were building! For they and their kind all over America working in the darkness of their own selfish desires, were laying footing stones—quite substantial yet necessary—for the structure of a growing civilization which in its time, stripped of its scaffolding and extraneous debris, was to stand among the nations of the earth as a tower of righteousness in a stricken world.
THE ADAMS FAMILY BIBLE LIES LIKE A GENTLEMAN
How light a line divides comedy from tragedy! When the ass speaks, or the man brays, there is comedy. Yet fate may stop the mouth of either man or ass, and in the dumb struggle for voice, if fate turns the screws of destiny upon duty, there is tragedy. Only the consequences of a day or a deed can decide whether it shall have the warm blessing of our smiles or the bitter benediction of our tears.
This, one must remember in reading the chapter of this story that shall follow. It is the close of the story to which Mary Adams, with her memory book and notes and clippings, has contributed much. For of the pile of envelopes all numbered in their order; the one marked "Margaret Mueller" was the last envelope that she left. Now the package that concerns Margaret Mueller may not be transcribed separately but must be woven into the woof of the tale. The package contains a clipping, a dozen closely written pages, and a photograph—a small photograph of a girl. The photograph is printed on the picture of a scroll, and the likeness of the girl does not throb with life as it did thirty years ago when it was taken. Then the plump, voluptuous arm and shoulders in the front of the picture seemed to exude life and to bristle with the temptation that lurked under the brown lashes shading her big, innocent, brown eyes. And her hair, her wonderful brown hair that fell in a great rope to her knees, in this photograph is hidden, and only her frizzes, covering a fine forehead, are emphasized by the picture maker. One may smile at the picture now, but then when it was taken it told of the red of her lips and the pink of her flesh, and the dimples that forever went flickering across her face. In those days, the old-fashioned picture portrayed with great clearness the joy and charm and impudence of that beautiful face. But now the picture is only grotesque. It proves rather than discloses that once, when she was but a young girl, Margaret Mueller had wonderfully molded arms and shoulders, regular features and enchanting eyes. But that is all the picture shows. In the photograph is no hint of her mellow voice, of her eager expression and of the smoldering fires of passion, ambition and purpose that smoked through those gay, bewitching eyes. The old-fashioned frizzled hair on her forehead, the obvious pose of her hand with its cheap rings, the curious cut of her dress, made after that travesty of the prevailing mode which country papers printed in their fashion columns, the black court-plaster beauty spot on her cheek and the lace fichu draped over her head and bare shoulders, all stand out like grinning gargoyles that keep much of the charm she had in those days imprisoned from our eyes to-day. So the picture alone is of no great service. Nor will the clipping tell much. It only records:
"Miss Margaret Mueller, daughter of the late Herman Mueller of Spring Township, this county, will teach school in District 18, the Adams District in Prospect Township, this fall and winter. She will board with the family of ye editor."
Now the reader must know that Margaret Mueller's eyes had been turned to Harvey as to a magnet for three years. She had chosen the Adams district school in Prospect Township, because the Adams district school was nearer than any other school district to Harvey; she had gone to the Adamses to board because the little bleak house near the Wahoo was the nearest house in the district to Harvey and to a social circle which she desired to enter—the best that Harvey offered.
She saw Grant, a rough, ruddy, hardy lad, of her own time of life, moving in the very center of the society she cherished in her dreams, and Margaret had no gay inadvertence in her scheme of creation. So when the lank, strapping, red-headed boy of a man's height, with a man's shoulders and a child's heart, started to Harvey for high school every morning, as she started to teach her country school, he carried with him, beside his lunch, a definite impression that Margaret was a fine girl. Often, indeed, he thought her an extraordinarily fine girl. Tales of prowess he brought back from the Harvey High School, and she listened with admiring face. For they related to youths whose names she knew as children of the socially elect.
A part of her admiration for Grant was due to the fact that Grant had leaped the social gulf—deep even then in Harvey—between those who lived on the hill, and the dwellers in the bottoms near the river.
This instinctively Margaret Mueller knew, also—though perhaps unconsciously—that even if they lived in the bottoms, the Adamses were of the aristoi; because they were friends of the Nesbits, and Mrs. Nesbit of Maryland was the fountain head of all the social glory of Harvey. Thus Margaret Mueller of Spring Township came to camp before Harvey for a lifetime siege, and took her ground where she could aim straight at the Nesbits and Kollanders and Sandses and Mortons and Calvins. With all her banners flying, banners gaudy and beautiful, banners that flapped for men and sometimes snapped at women, she set her forces down before Harvey, and saw the beleaguered city through the portals of Grant's fine, wide, blue eyes, within an easy day's walk of her own place in the world. So she hovered over Grant, played her brown eyes upon him, flattered him, unconsciously as is the way of the female, when it would win favor, and because she was wise, wiser than even her own head knew, she cast upon the youth a strange spell.