HotFreeBooks.com
McClure's Magazine, Vol. 31, No. 1, May 1908
Author: Various
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

[29] The freedom manifesto of October 30, 1905, begins with the words: "We lay upon Our Government the duty of executing Our inflexible will by giving to the people the foundations of civil liberty in the form of real inviolability of personal rights, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of public assembly, and freedom of organized association."

[30] Stenographic report of the proceedings of the first Russian Duma, St. Petersburg, July 17, 1906. A large part of the Russian Empire has been under martial law ever since the assassination of Alexander II. In 1906 it was in force in sixty-four of the eighty-seven Russian provinces.

[31] Upon the shoulders of the peasants the whole framework of the Russian state rests. When the latest census was taken, in 1897, the peasants numbered 97,000,000 in a total population of 126,000,000. Since that time the population has increased to 141,000,000, and the relative proportion of peasants to other classes has grown larger rather than smaller. (Report of the Russian Statistical Department. St. Petersburg, August, 1905.)

[32] It is this part of the population that begins to suffer from lack of food when, for any reason, there is complete or partial failure of the crops. Twenty million people, in twenty-two provinces, were reduced to absolute starvation by the famine of 1906, and were kept alive only by governmental relief on a colossal scale. Famine is predicted again this year in the provinces of Kaluga, Tula, Tambof, Samara, Saratof, Viatka, Poltava, and Chernigof. In the province last named the peasants were already mixing weeds with their rye flour in November, 1907. (Nasha Zhizn, St. Petersburg, May 23. 1906; Russian Thought, St. Petersburg, December, 1907, p. 217.)

[33] Report of the Zemstvo Committee on Agricultural Needs in the District of Voronezh, Stuttgart, 1903. This report was published in pamphlet form abroad, because the censor would not allow it to be printed in Russia.

[34] Report of the Zemstvo Committee on Agricultural Needs in the District of Voronezh, pp. 33, 34, Stuttgart, 1903.

[35] Russian Thought, St. Petersburg. June, 1907, p. 169.

[36] Russian Thought, St. Petersburg, June, 1907, p. 124.

[37] Report of the Russian Statistical Department, 1905; and Report to the Council of Ministers on the state of schools, Strana, St. Petersburg, August 23, 1906.

[38] Strana, edited by Professor Maxim Kovalefski, St. Petersburg, October 7 and 10, 1906.

[39] Tovarishch, St. Petersburg, August 26, 1906.

[40] V. Polozof, in Strana, St. Petersburg, October 18, 1906.



"THE HEART KNOWETH"

BY CHARLOTTE WILSON

Sometimes my little woe is lulled to rest, Its clamor shamed by some old poet's page— Tumult of hurrying hoof, and battle-rage, And dying knight, and trampled warrior-crest. Stern faces, old heroic souls unblest, Eye me with scorn, as they my grief would gage, A mere child, schooled to weep upon the stage, Tricked for a part of woe and somber-drest. "Lo, who art thou," they ask, "that thou shouldst fret To find, forsooth, one single heart undone? The page thou turnest there is purple-wet With blood that gushed from Caesar overthrown! Lo, who art thou to prate of sorrow?" Yet, This little woe, it is my own, my own!



IN THE DARK HOUR

BY PERCEVAL GIBBON

The house overlooked the starlit bay, nearly ringed with a sparse fence of palms, and on its roof, a little scarlet figure on the white rugs, Incarnacion sat waiting till Scott should come. Below her, the reeking city was hushed to a murmur, through which there sounded from the Praca a far throb of drums and pipe-music; and overhead the sky was a dome of velvet, spangled with a glory of bold stars. Save to the east, where the blank white walls of the house overlooked the water, there was on all sides a shadowy prospect of parapets, for in Superban the houses are close together and folk live intimately upon their roofs. As she sat, Incarnacion could hear a voice that quavered and choked as some stricken man labored with his prayers against the plague that was laying the city waste. Through all Superban such petitions went up, while daily and nightly the tale of deaths mounted and the corpses multiplied faster than the graves.

Incarnacion lit herself a cigarette, tucked her feet under her, and wondered why Scott did not come. But her chief quality was serenity; she did not give herself over to worry, content to let all problems solve themselves, as most problems will. She was a wee girl, preserving on the threshold of sun-ripened womanhood the soft and pathetic graces of a docile child. Her scarlet dress left her warm arms bare and did not trespass on the slender throat; she had all the charm of intrinsic femininity which comes to fruit so early in the climate of Mozambique and fades so soon. It was this, no doubt, that had taken Scott and held him; gaunt, harsh, direct in his purposes as he was quick in his strength, with Incarnacion he found scope for the tenderness that lurked beneath his rude forcefulness.

He came at last. She heard his step on the stair, cast her cigarette from her, and sprang to meet him with a little laugh of delight. He took her in his arms, lifting her from her little bare feet to kiss her.

"O-oh, Jock, you break me," she gasped, as he set her down. "You are strong like a bull. What you bin away so long?"

He smiled at her gravely as he let himself down on her rugs and put a long arm round her. "Did you want me, 'Carnacion?" he asked.

"Me? No," she answered, laughing; "I don' want you, Jock. You go away twenty—thirty—days; I don' care. Ah, Jock!"

He pressed her close and kissed the crown of her dark head gently. His strong, keen-featured face was very tender, for this small woman of the old tropics was all but all the world to him. "You're a little rip," he said, as he released her. "Make me a cigarette, 'Carnacion. I've found the boat."

She looked up quickly, while her deft fingers fluttered about the dry tobacco and the paper. "You find him, Jock?" she asked.

He nodded. "Yes, I've found it," he answered. "She's in a creek, about six miles down the bay. A big boat, too, with a pretty little cabin for you to twiddle your thumbs in, 'Carnacion. She's pretty clean, too; I reckon the old chap must have been getting ready to clear out in her when he dropped. It's a wonder nobody found her before."

Incarnacion sealed the cigarette carefully, pinched the loose ends away, kissed it, and put it in his mouth. "Then," she said thoughtfully, "you take me away to-morrow, Jock?"

He frowned; he was shielding the lighted match in both hands, and it showed up his drawn brows as he bent to light the cigarette. "I don't know," he said. "You see, 'Carnacion, there's a good many things I can't do, and sail a boat is one of 'em. I haven't got a notion how to set about it, even. I don't know the top end of a sail from the bottom."

"You make a Kafir do it?" suggested Incarnacion.

He smiled, a brief smile of friendship. "That would do first-rate," he explained; "only, you see, there's no Kafirs, kiddy. Every nigger that had ever seen a boat was snapped up a week ago, when the big flit was happening. That dead-scared crowd that cleared out then took every single sailorman to ferry 'em down the coast—white, black, and piebald. And the plain truth of it is, 'Carnacion, I've been up and down this old rabbit-warren of a city since sun-down, looking for a sailor, an' the only one I could hear of I found—in the dead-house."

He spat at the parapet upon the memory of that face, where the plague had done its worst.

"So," remarked Incarnacion gaily. "Then we stop, Jock; we stop here, eh?"

"There'll be something broken first," retorted Scott. "It's all bloomin' rot, Incarnacion; you can't have a town this size without a man in it that can handle a boat—a seaport, too. It isn't sense. It don't stand to reason."

"There was the Capitan Smeeth," suggested Incarnacion helpfully.

"Just so," said Scott; "there was. He's dead."

Incarnacion crossed herself in silence, and they sat for a while without speaking. From the Praca the music was still to be heard; some procession to the great church was in progress, to pray for a remission of the scourge. Over the line of roofs there was a dull glow of the watch-fires in the streets; where they sat, Scott and the girl could smell the pitch that fed them. And, over all, an unseen sick man gabbled his prayers in a halting monotone. A quick heat of wrath lit in Scott as his thoughts traveled around the situation; for Incarnacion sat with her head bowed, playing with her toes, and the ever-ready terror lest the plague should reach her moved in his heart. He had been away from Superban when the plague arrived, and though he had come in on the first word of the news, he had been too late to find a place for her on the ships that fled down the coast from the pest. And now that he had found a boat, there was no one to sail her; in all that terror-ridden city, he could find no man to hold the tiller and tend the sheet.

"You're feeling all right, eh, 'Carnacion?" he asked sharply.

She turned to him, smiling at once. "All right," she assured him. "An' you, Jock—you all right, too?"

"Fit as can be," he answered, fingering her hair where it was smooth and short behind her ear.

"You see," she said. "It is the plague, but the plague don't come for us, Jock."

"That's right," he said. "You keep your courage up, little girl, an' we'll be married in Delagoa Bay."

He rose to his feet. "Kiss me good night, 'Carnacion," he said. "I'm busy these days, an' I can't stop any longer."

She kissed him obediently, giving her fresh lips frankly and eagerly; and Scott came out to the narrow lane below with the flavor of them yet on his mouth and new resolution to pursue his quest for a sailor.

He moved on to the Praca, where the stridency of the music still persisted. Great fires burned at every entrance to the square, so that between them a man walked in the midst of leaping shadows, as though his feet were dogged by ghosts. The tall houses around the place were blind with shuttered windows; from their balconies none watched the crowd before the great doors of the church. Here a priest stood in a cart, with a great cross in his hand. His high voice, toneless and flat, echoed vainly over the heads of the throng, where some knelt in a passion of prayer, but most stood talking aloud. Through the doors the lights on the altar were to be seen in the inner gloom, sparkling from the brass and golden accouterments of the church. Scott shouldered a road through the crowd, scanning faces expertly. To a big brown man with empty blue eyes he put the question:

"Can you sail a boat?"

The man stared at him. "Have you got one?" he asked.

"Can you?" repeated Scott. "Do you know anything about sailing a boat?"

"No," said the other; "but——"

Scott pushed on and left him. In the church, his heart leaped at sight of a man in the clothes of a Portuguese man-o'-war's-man, asleep by a pillar—a little swarthy weed of a man. He woke him with a kick, only to learn, after further kicks, that the man was a stoker and knew as little about boats as himself. At the door of a confessional lay another man in the same uniform. A kick failed to wake him, and Scott bent to shake him. But the hand he stretched out recoiled; the plague had been before him.

In that time men knew no difference between day and night, for death knew none, and the traffic of the close, twisted streets never lulled. The blatant cafes were ablaze with lamps, and in them the tables were crowded and the fiddles raved and jeered. In one Scott found a chair to rest in, and sat awhile with liquor before him. He had carried his search from the shore to the bush, through all the town, and to no end. Now, mingled with his resolution there was something of desperation. He sat heavily in thought, his glass in his hand; and while he brooded, unheeding, the cafe roared and clattered about him. To his right, a group of white-clad officers chatted over a languid game of cards; at his left, a forlorn man sang dolorously to himself. Others were behind. From these last, as he sat, a word reached him which woke him from his preoccupation like a thrust of a knife. He sat without moving, straining his ears.

"De ole captain, he die," said some one; "but hees boat, she lie on de mud now."

"An' ye know where she is?" demanded another voice, a deeper one.

"Yais," the first speaker replied. He had a voice that purred in undertones, the true voice of a conspirator.

There was a sound of a fist on the table. "Good for you," said the deeper voice. "We'll get away by noon, then."

Scott carried his glass to his lips and drained it; then he rose deliberately in his place and commenced to thread his way out between the tables. He had to pause to pay the waiter for his drink when he was a yard or two away; he gave the man an English sovereign, and thus, while change was procured, he could stand and look at the owners of the voices. They paid him no attention; he was unsuspected. One of the men he knew, a tall Italian with a heavy, brutal face, a knife-fighter of notoriety and a bully. The other was a square, humpy man, half of whose face was jaw. Not men to put in the company of little Incarnacion, either of them; Scott's experience of the Coast spared him any doubts about that. It would be easy, of course, to settle the matter at once—simply to step up and let his knife into the Italian, under the neck, where he sat. At that season and in that place it was an almost obvious remedy; but it would not be less than a week before he could get clear of the jail, and in that time any one might find the boat.

He grasped his change and went out. There was only one thing to do: he must go to the creek where the boat was, and lie in wait for them there. "Nobody'll miss 'em," he said to himself; "and there's crocodiles in that creek, all handy."

He struck across the Praca again, between the fires, and down an alley that would lead him to the beach. The voice of the priest in the cart seemed to pursue him till he outdistanced it, and he pressed on briskly. His way was between tall, dark houses; the path lay at their feet, narrow and tortuous, like some remote canon. Here was no light, save when, at the turn of the way, a star swam into view overhead, pale and cold, and bright as a lantern. Indistinct figures passed him sometimes; when one came into sight, he would move close to the wall with a hand on his knife, and the two would edge by one another watchfully and in silence.

He was almost clear and could smell the sea, when he came round a corner and met some four or five white figures in the middle of the way, sheeted like ghosts and walking in silence. There was not a space to avoid them, and he stopped dead for them to approach and speak—or, if that was the way of it, to attack. Some of the others stopped too, but one came on. Scott marked that he walked with a shuffle of his feet, and made out, by the starlight, that his sheet clung about him as though it were wet. And, at the same time, he noticed some faint odor, too vague to put a name to, but sickly and suggestive of hospitals.

"Go with God," said the figure, when it was close to him. The words were Portuguese, but the inflection was foreign.

"Are you English?" demanded Scott sharply.

The other had halted a man's length from him. "Ay," he said, "I'm English."

"Well," said Scott, making to move on, but pointing to where the other white figures were waiting in a group near by, "what are those chaps waiting for?"

"They'll not hurt you," answered the other. He mumbled a little when he spoke, like a man with a full mouth.

"Anyhow," said Scott, "they'd better pass on; I prefer it that way. Superban's not London, you know."

There came a laugh from the sheet that covered the man's head, short and harsh. "If it was," he said, "you'd not be meeting us, me lad."

"Who are you?" demanded Scott. Some quality in the man—his manner of speech, the tone of his laugh, or that faint, unidentifiable taint—made him uneasy.

"Me?" said the man. "Well, I'll tell you. I'm Captain John Crowder, I am—what's left of me, and that's a sick soul inside a dead body. And them"—he made a motion toward the waiting ghosts—"them's my crew these days. We're the chaps that fetches the dead, we are."

Scott peered at him eagerly, and stepped forward.

The other avoided him by stepping back. "Not too near," he said. "It ain't sense."

"Captain, you said?" asked Scott. "Er—not a ship-captain, you mean?"

"Ay, I'm a ship-captain right enough," was the answer; "and in my day——"

Scott interrupted excitedly. "See here," he said. "I've got a boat, and I want a man to sail her to Delagoa Bay. I'll pay; I'll pay you a level hundred to start by nine in the morning, cash down on the deck the minute you're outside the bar. What d'you say to it?"

The sheeted man seemed to stare at him before he answered. "You're on the run, then?" he mumbled at last. "You're dodging the plague, eh?"

"Yes," said Scott. "A level hundred, an' you can have the boat as well."

"Man, you must be badly scared," said the other. "What's frightened you? Are you feared you'll die?"

"Go to blazes," retorted Scott. "Will you come or won't you?"

The man laughed again, the same short cackle of mirth.

"Listen," urged Scott, wiping his forehead. "I've got a—er—I've got a girl. You say I'm scared. Well, I am scared; every time I think of her in this plague-rotten place, I go cold to the bone. Is it more money you want? You can have it. But there's no time to lose; I'm not the only one that knows about the boat."

"A girl." The other repeated the word, and then stood silent.

"Curse it!" cried Scott, "can't you say the word? Will you come, man?"

"It wouldn't do," said the sheeted man slowly. "You're fond of her, eh? Ay, but it wouldn't do. Any other man 'u'd suit ye better, me lad."

"There's no other man," said Scott angrily. "In all this blasted town there's no man but you. I've been through it like a terrier under a rick. And I'll tell you what." He took a step nearer; in his pocket his hand was on his knife. "You can have a hundred and fifty," he said, "and the boat, if you'll come. An' if you won't, by the Holy Iron, I'll cut your bloomin' throat here where you stand."

The other did not flinch from him. "Ay, an' you'll do that?" he said. "I like to hear you talk. Lad, do you know what fashion o' men it is that serve the dead-carts? Do ye know?" he demanded, seeming to clear his voice with an effort of the obstacle that hampered his speech.

"What d'you mean?" cried Scott.

"Look at me," bade the man, and drew back the sheet from his face. The starlight showed him clear.

Scott looked, while his heart slowed down within him, and bowed his head.

"And shall I steer your girl to Delagoa Bay?" the other asked.

"Yes," said Scott, after a pause. "There's nobody else, leper or not."

"Ah, well," said the leper, with a sigh, "so be it."

Scott fought with himself for mastery of the horror that rose in him like a tide of fever, and when the leper had put back the sheet and stood again a figure of the grave, he told him of the boat and how others knew of it besides himself. In quick, panting sentences he bade him get forthwith to the creek where the boat lay, directing him to it through the paths of the night with the sure precision of a man trained to the trek. He himself would go and fetch Incarnacion and beat up some provisions, and thus they might get afloat before the Italian and his mate came on the scene.

"It's every step of six miles," Scott explained. "Are you sure you can walk it?"

The leper nodded under his hood. "I'll do it," he said. "And if there's to be a fight, I'm not so far gone but what—" He broke off with a short spurt of laughter. "It'll be something to feel deck-planks under me again," he said.

"Then let's be gone," cried Scott.

"Wait." The captain that had been stayed him. "There's just this, matey. Have a shawl or the like on your girl's shoulders. They wear 'em, you know. An' then, when you come in sight o' me, you can rig it over her head an' all. For it's—it's truth, no woman should set eyes on the like o' me."

"I'll do it," said Scott. "You're a man, Captain, anyhow."

"I was," said the other, and turned away.

Scott had a dozen things to do in no more than a pair of hours. They were not to be done, but he did them. A couple of donkeys were procured without difficulty; he knew of a stable with a flimsy door. A revolver, his own small odds and ends, all his money, and such food as he could lay hands on—by rousing reluctant storekeepers with outcries and expediting commerce with violence—were got together. Then Incarnacion must be fetched. She came at once, smiling drowsily, with a flush of sleep on her little ardent face and all her belongings in a bundle no bigger than a hat-box. But, with all his urgency, the eastern sky was stained with dawn before he was clear of the town, bludgeoning the donkeys before him, with the gear on one and Incarnacion laughing and crooning on the other.

The beach stretched in a yellow bow on either hand, fringed with bush and palms, receding to where the ultimate jaws of the bay stood black and thin against the sunrise. Once upon it, they could be seen by whoever should look from the town, and there was peremptory occasion for haste. Scott had counted on forcing the journey into a little over an hour, but he was not prepared for the eccentricities of a pack adjusted on a donkey's back by an amateur. There is no art in the world more arbitrary than that of tying a package on a beast. It must be done just so, with just such a hitch and such an adjustment of the burden, or one's rope might as well be of sand. These refinements were outside Scott's knowledge, and he had not gone far before he saw his bags and bundles clear themselves and tumble apart. There was a halt while he picked them up and lashed them on the ass anew. Again and again it happened, till his patience was raw; and all the time the steady sun swarmed up the sky and day grew into full being.

Incarnacion sat serenely in her place while these troubles occupied him, smoking her cigarette and looking about her. He was involved in an effort to jam the pack and the donkey securely in one overwhelming intricacy of knots when she called to him.

"Jock," she said.

"Yes, what's up?" he grunted, hauling remorselessly on a line with a knee against the ass's circumference.

"A man," she said placidly. "He come along, too, behin' us."

"Eh? Where?" he demanded, putting a last knot to the tedious structure.

Incarnacion pointed to the bush. "I see him poke out hees head two times," she explained.

Scott passed his hand behind him to his revolver, and stared with narrow eyes along the green frontier at the bush. He could see nothing.

"A big man, 'Carnacion?" he asked. "Mustaches? Black hair?"

She nodded and lit another cigarette. "You know him, Jock?"

"I know him," he answered, and drove the donkeys on, thwacking the pack-ass cautiously for the sake of the load.

It was an anxious passage then, on the open beach. The men who followed had the cover of the shrubs; theirs was the advantage to choose the moment of collision. They could shoot at him from their concealment and flick his brains out comfortably before he could set eyes on them; or they could shoot the donkeys down, or put a bullet into Incarnacion where she rode, quiet and regardless of all. He flogged the beasts on to a trot with a hail of blows, and ran up into the bush to take an observation.

His foot was barely off the sand of the beach when a shot sounded, and the wind of the bullet made his eyes smart. Invention was automatic in his mind. At the noise, he fell forthwith on his face, crashing across a bush, so that his head was up and his pistol in reach of his hand. Thus he lay, not moving, but searching through half-closed eyes the maze of green before him. He heard the rustle of grass, and prepared for action, every nerve taut; and there came into sight the big Italian, smiling broadly, a Winchester in his hand.

In Scott's brain some nucleus of motion gave the signal. With a single movement, his knee crooked under him and he swung the heavy revolver forward. A howl answered the shot, and he saw the Italian blunder against a palm, drop his rifle, and scamper out of sight. Firing again, Scott dashed forward and picked up the Winchester, while from in front of him the Italian or his companion sent bullet after bullet about his ears. It was enough of a victory to carry on with, for Incarnacion would have heard the shots and might come back to him; so he turned and ran again, and caught her just as she was dismounting.

It was a race now. He silenced the girl's questions sharply, and thumped the donkeys to a canter, running doggedly behind them with his stick busy. In the bush, too, there was the noise of hurry; he heard the crash of feet running, and twice they shot at him. Then Incarnacion gasped, and held up her cloak to show him a hole through it; but she was not touched. He swore, but did not cease to flog and run. The strain told on him; his legs were water, and the sweat stood on his face in great gouts; and, to embitter the labor, suddenly there was a shout from ahead. The men had passed him, and he saw the Italian show himself with a gesture of derision, and disappear again before he could aim.

"They'll kill the leper," he thought, "and they'll get the boat. But they'll not get out. I'll be on my belly in the bush then, with this." And he patted the stock of the Winchester.

"You bin shoot a man, Jock?" asked Incarnacion, as the desperate pace flagged.

"Not yet," he answered grimly; "but there's time yet, 'Carnacion."

Already he could see, through the slim palms, the straight mast of the boat against the sky, with its gear about it, not a mile away. He cocked his ear for the shot that should announce its capture and the end of the leper.

"Ai, hear that!" exclaimed Incarnacion.

It was a sound of screams—cries of men in stress, traveling thinly over the distance. Scott checked at it as a horse checks at a snake in the road, for the cries had a note of wild terror that daunted him.

"You frightened, Jockie?" crooned Incarnacion. "See," she said, lifting her hand over him, "I make the cross on you."

"It's the confounded mysteriousness that gets me," said Scott, wiping his forehead. "Here, get on, you beasts. We'll have to take a look at 'em, anyhow."

He strode on between the animals, the rifle in the crook of his arm, ready for use, and all his senses alert and vivacious. Day was broad above them now and bitter with the forenoon heat. At their side the bay was rippled with a capricious breeze, and in all the far prospect of earth and sea none moved save themselves, detached in a haunting significance of solitude.

"Ah!" He stopped short and jerked the rifle forward. In the bush ahead there was a movement; for an instant he saw something white flash among the palms, and then the Italian burst forth and came toward them, running all at large, with head down and jolting elbows. He ran like a man hunted by crazy fears, and did not see Scott till he was within twenty yards.

"Halt, there, Dago," ordered Scott, and brought the butt to his shoulder.

The Italian gasped and blundered to his knees, turning on Scott a glazed and twitching face.

"For peety, for peety!" he quavered.

"Draw that shawl over your face, 'Carnacion," said Scott, without turning his head. "Can you see now?"

"No," she answered.

He fired, and the Italian sprawled forward on his face, plowing up the sand with clutching hands.

"Keep the shawl over your eyes, 'Carnacion," directed Scott, and soon they came round a palm-bunch and were on the bank of the creek, where a fifteen-ton cutter lay on the mud. A plank lay between her deck and the shore, and, as they came to it, the captain hailed them from the cockpit.

"Come aboard," he said. "All's ready."

Scott picked Incarnacion up in his arms, wound another fold of the shawl about her face, and carried her aboard. He set her down on the settee in the cabin, released her head, and kissed her fervently. "Now make yourself comfy here, little 'un," he said; "for here you stay till we make Delagoa."

He helped her to dispose herself in the cabin, showed her its arrangements, and saw her curious delight in the little space-saving contrivances. Then he went out, closing the door behind him. It did not occur to him to render her any explanations; what Scott did was always sufficient for Incarnacion.

Again on deck, he found the swathed leper busy, and started when he saw, along the banks of the creek, a gang of shrouded figures at work with a hawser.

"My crew," said the captain. "They're to haul us off the mud."

"Then," said Scott, "it was them——"

The leper laughed. "Ay, they ran from us," he said. "They ran from the lazaretto-hands. The one we caught, we put him overside for the crocodiles; an' you got the other."

"They chased him?" asked Scott, trembling with the thought.

"Ay," said the leper; "they uncovered their faces and they chased. Ye heard the squealing?"

He broke off to oversee his gang. "Make fast on that stump!" he called. In spite of the disease that blurred his speech, there was the authority of the quarter-deck in his voice. "Now, all hands tally on and walk her down." And the silent lepers in their grave-clothes ranged themselves on the rope like the ghosts of drowned seamen.

When the mainsail filled and the cutter heeled to the breeze, pointing fair for the bar, the leper looked back. Scott followed his glance. On the spit by the mouth of the creek stood the white figures in a little group, lonely and voiceless, and over them the palms floated against the sky like tethered birds.

"There was some that was almost Christians," said the captain; "they'll miss me, they will." And after a pause he added: "And I'll be missing them, too; for they was my mates."

There were six days of sailing ere the captain made his landfall, and they stood off till evening. Then he put in to where the sea shelved easily on a beach four or five miles south of the town, and it was time to part.

"You can wade ashore," said the leper.

Scott opened the doors of the little cabin. On the settee Incarnacion lay asleep, her dark hair tumbled about her warm face. He was about to wake her, but stayed his hand and drew back. "You can look," he said to the leper in a whisper.

The shrouded man bent and looked in; Scott marked that he held his breath. For a full minute he stared in silence, his shoulders blocking the little door; then he drew back.

"Ay," he murmured, "it's like that they are, lad; and it's grand to be a man—it's grand to be a man!"

Scott closed the doors gently. "If ever there was a man," he began, but choked and stopped. "What will you do now?" he asked.

"Oh, I'll just be gettin' back," said the leper. "You see, there's them lads—my crew. It was me made a crew of 'em in that lazaretto. They was just stinking heathen till I come. An' I sort of miss 'em, I do."

"Will you shake hands?" said Scott, torn by a storm of emotions.

The leper shook his head. "You've the girl to think of," he said. "But good luck to the pair of ye. Ye'll make a fine team."

Half an hour later Scott and Incarnacion stood together on the beach and watched the cutter's lights as she stood on a bowline to seaward.

"Kiss your hand to it, darling," said Scott.

"I bin done it," answered Incarnacion.



"OLIVIA" AND "FAUST" AT THE LYCEUM[41]

BY ELLEN TERRY

ILLUSTRATIONS FROM PHOTOGRAPHS AND FROM DRAWINGS BY ERIC PAPE AND HARRY FENN

The first night of "Olivia" at the Lyceum was about the only comfortable first night that I have ever had! I was familiar with the part, and two of the cast, Terriss and Norman Forbes, were the same as at the Court, which made me feel all the more at home. Henry left a great deal of the stage-management to us, for he knew that he could not improve on Mr. Hare's production. Only he insisted on altering the last act, and made a bad matter worse. The division into two scenes wasted time, and nothing was gained by it. Never obstinate, Henry saw his mistake and restored the original end after a time. It was weak and unsatisfactory, but not pretentious and bad, like the last act he presented at the first performance.

We took the play too slowly at the Lyceum. That was often a fault there. Because Henry was slow, the others took their time from him, and the result was bad.

The lovely scene of the vicarage parlour, in which we used a harpsichord, and were accused of pedantry for our pains, did not look so well at the Lyceum as at the Court. The stage was too big for it.

The critics said that I played Olivia better at the Lyceum, but I did not feel this myself.

At first Henry did not rehearse the Vicar at all well. One day, when he was stamping his foot very much as if he were Mathias in "The Bells," my little Edy, who was a terrible child and a wonderful critic, said:

"Don't go on like that, Henry. Why don't you talk as you do to me and Teddy? At home you are the Vicar."

The child's frankness did not offend Henry, because it was illuminating. A blind man had changed his Shylock; a little child changed his Vicar. When the first night came, he gave a simple, lovable performance. Many people now understood and liked him as they had never done before. One of the things I most admired in it was his sense of the period.



In this, as in other plays, he used to make his entrance in the skin of the part. No need for him to rattle a ladder at the side to get up excitement and illusion, as another actor is said to have done. He walked on and was the simple-minded old clergyman, just as he had walked on a prince in "Hamlet" and a king in "Charles I."

A very handsome woman, descended from Mrs. Siddons and looking exactly like her, played the Gipsy in "Olivia." The likeness was of no use, because the possessor of it had no talent. What a pity!

"Olivia" a Family Play

"Olivia" has always been a family play. Edy and Ted walked on the stage for the first time in the Court "Olivia." In later years Ted played Moses, and Edy made her first appearance in a speaking part as Polly Flamborough, and has since played both Sophia and the Gipsy. My brother Charlie's little girl, Beatrice, made her first appearance as Bill, a part which her sister Minnie had already played; my sister Floss played Olivia on a provincial tour, and my sister Marion played it at the Lyceum when I was ill.

I saw Floss in the part, and took from her a lovely and sincere bit of "business." In the third act, where the Vicar has found his erring daughter and has come to take her away from the inn, I always hesitated at my entrance, as if I were not quite sure what reception my father would give me after what had happened. Floss, in the same situation, came running in and went straight to her father, quite sure of his love, if not of his forgiveness.

I did not take some business which Marion did on Terriss' suggestion. Where Thornhill tells Olivia that she is not his wife, I used to thrust him away with both hands as I said "Devil!"

"It's very good, Nell, very fine," said Terriss to me, "but, believe me, you miss a great effect there. You play it grandly, of course, but at that moment you miss it. As you say 'Devil!' you ought to strike me full in the face."

"Oh, don't be silly, Terriss," I said. "Olivia is not a pugilist."

Of course I saw, apart from what was dramatically fit, what would happen!

However, Marion, very young, very earnest, very dutiful, anxious to please Terriss, listened eagerly to the suggestion during an understudy rehearsal.



"No one could play this part better than your sister Nell," said Terriss to the attentive Marion, "but, as I always tell her, she does miss one great effect. When you say 'Devil! hit me bang in the face."

"Thank you for telling me," said Marion gratefully.

"It will be much more effective," said Terriss.

It was. When the night came for Marion to play the part, she struck out, and Terriss had to play the rest of the scene with a handkerchief held to his bleeding nose!

Ellen Terry and Eleanora Duse

I think it was as Olivia that Eleanora Duse first saw me act. She had thought of playing the part herself sometime, but she said: "Never now!" No letter about my acting ever gave me the same pleasure as this from her:

"MADAME: With Olivia you have given me pleasure and pain. Pleasure by your noble and sincere art—pain because I feel sad at heart when I see a beautiful and generous woman give her soul to art—as you do—when it is life itself, your heart itself, that speaks tenderly, sorrowfully, nobly beneath your acting. I cannot rid myself of a certain melancholy when I see artists as noble and distinguished as you and Mr. Irving. Although you are strong enough (with continual labor) to make life subservient to art, I, from my standpoint, regard you as forces of nature itself, which should have the right to exist for themselves instead of for the crowd. I would not venture to disturb you, Madame, and moreover I have so much to do that it is impossible for me to tell you personally all the great pleasure you have given me, because I have felt your heart. Will you believe, dear Madame, in mine, which asks no more at this moment than to admire you and to tell you so in any manner whatsoever.

"Always yours, "E. Duse."[42]

It was worth having lived to get that letter!



"Faust"

A claptrappy play "Faust" was, no doubt, but Margaret was the part I liked better than any other—outside Shakespeare. I played it beautifully sometimes. The language was often very commonplace, not nearly as poetic or dramatic as that of "Charles I.," but the character was all right—simple, touching, sublime. The Garden Scene I know was a bourgeois affair. It was a bad, weak love-scene, but George Alexander as Faust played it admirably. Indeed, he always acted like an angel with me; he was so malleable, ready to do anything. He was launched into the part at very short notice, after H. B. Conway's failure on the first night. Poor Conway! It was Coghlan as Shylock all over again.



Conway was a descendant of Lord Byron, and he had a look of the handsomest portraits of the poet. With his bright hair curling tightly all over his well-shaped head, his beautiful figure, and charming presence, he created a sensation in the eighties almost equal to that made by the more famous beauty, Lily Langtry. As an actor he belonged to the Terriss type, but he was not nearly as good as Terriss.

Henry called a rehearsal the next day—on Sunday, I think. The company stood about in groups on the stage, while Henry walked up and down, speechless, but humming a tune occasionally, always a portentous sign with him. The scene set was the Brocken scene, and Conway stood at the top of the slope, as far away from Henry as he could get! He looked abject. His handsome face was very red, his eyes full of tears. He was terrified at the thought of what was going to happen. As for Henry, he was white as death, but he never let pain to himself (or others) stand in the path of duty to his public, and his public had shown that they wanted another Faust. The actor was summoned to the office, and presently Loveday came out and said that Mr. George Alexander would play Faust the following night.



George Alexander and the Barmaids

Alec had been wonderful as Valentine the night before, and as Faust he more than justified Henry's belief in him. After that he never looked back. He had come to the Lyceum for the first time in 1882, an unknown quantity from a stock company in Glasgow, to play Caleb Decie in "The Two Roses." He then left us for a time, returned for "Faust," and remained in the Lyceum Company for some years, playing all Terriss' parts.

Alexander had the romantic quality which was lacking in Terriss, but there was a kind of shy modesty about him which handicapped him when he played Squire Thornhill in "Olivia." "Be more dashing, Alec!" I used to say to him. "Well, I do my best," he said. "At the hotels I chuck all the barmaids under the chin, and pretend I'm a dog of a fellow, for the sake of this part!" Conscientious, dear, delightful Alec! No one ever deserved success more than he did, and used it better when it came, as the history of St. James' Theatre under his management proves. He had the good luck to marry a wife who was clever as well as charming, and could help him.

The original cast of "Faust" was never improved upon. What Martha was ever so good as Mrs. Stirling? The dear old lady's sight had failed since "Romeo and Juliet," but she was very clever at concealing it. When she let Mephistopheles in at the door, she used to drop her work on the floor, so that she could find her way back to her chair. I never knew why she dropped it—she used to do it so naturally, with a start, when Mephistopheles knocked at the door—until one night when it was in my way and I picked it up, to the confusion of poor Mrs. Stirling, who nearly walked into the orchestra.

"Faust" a Paradoxical Success

"Faust" was abused a good deal—as a pantomime, a distorted caricature of Goethe, and a thoroughly inartistic production. But it proved the greatest of all Henry's financial successes. The Germans who came to see it, oddly enough, did not scorn it nearly as much as the English who were sensitive on behalf of the Germans, and the Goethe Society wrote a tribute to Henry Irving after his death, acknowledging his services to Goethe!

It is a curious paradox in the theatre that the play for which every one has a good word is often the play which no one is going to see, while the play which is apparently disliked and run down has crowded houses every night.

Our preparations for the production of "Faust" included a delightful "grand tour" of Germany. Henry, with his accustomed royal way of doing things, took a party which included my daughter Edy, Mr. and Mrs. Comyns Carr, and Mr. Hawes Craven, who was to paint the scenery. We bought nearly all the properties used in "Faust" in Nuremberg, and many other things which we did not use, that took Henry's fancy. One beautifully carved escutcheon, the finest armorial device I ever saw, he bought at this time, and presented it in after years to the famous American connoisseur, Mrs. Jack Gardner. It hangs now in one of the rooms of her palace at Boston.

It was when we were going in the train along one of the most beautiful stretches of the Rhine that Sally Holland, who accompanied us as my maid, said: "Uncommon pretty scenery, dear, I must say!"

When we laughed uncontrollably, she added: "Well, dear, I think so!"



Irving on Long Runs

During the run of "Faust" Henry visited Oxford, and gave his address on "Four Actors" (Burbage, Betterton, Garrick, Kean). He met there one of the many people who had recently been attacking him on the ground of too long runs and too much spectacle. He wrote me an amusing account of the duel between them:

"I had supper last night at New College after the affair. A. was there, and I had it out with him—to the delight of all.

"'Too much decoration' etc., etc.

"I asked him what there was in Faust in the matter of appointments, etc., that he would like left out.

"Answer—nothing.

"'Too long runs.'

"'You, sir, are a poet,' I said. 'Perhaps it may be my privilege some day to produce a play of yours. Would you like it to have a long run or a short one?' (Roars of laughter.)

"Answer: 'Well, er, well, of course, Mr. Irving, you—well—well, a short run, of course, for art, but——'

"'Now, sir, you're on oath,' said I. 'Suppose that the fees were rolling in L10 and more a night—would you rather the play were a failure or a success?'

"'Well, well, as you put it, I must say—er—I would rather my play had a long run!'

"A. floored!

"He has all his life been writing articles running down good work and crying up the impossible, and I was glad to show him up a bit!

"The Vice-Chancellor made a most lovely speech after the address—an eloquent and splendid tribute to the stage.

"Bourchier presented the address of the 'Undergrads.' I never saw a young man in a greater funk—because, I suppose, he had imitated me so often!

"From the address: 'We have watched with keen and enthusiastic interest the fine intellectual quality of all these representations, from Hamlet to Mephistopheles, with which you have enriched the contemporary stage. To your influence we owe deeper knowledge and more reverent study of the master mind of Shakespeare.' All very nice indeed!"

Irving's Mephistopheles

I never cared much for Henry's Mephistopheles—a twopence coloured part, anyway. Of course he had his moments,—he had them in every part,—but they were few. One of them was in the Prologue, when he wrote in the student's book, "Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." He never looked at the book, and the nature of the spirit appeared suddenly in a most uncanny fashion.

Another was in the Spinning-wheel Scene, when Faust defies Mephistopheles, and he silences him with "I am a spirit." Henry looked to grow a gigantic height—to hover over the ground instead of walking on it. It was terrifying.



I made valiant efforts to learn to spin before I played Margaret. My instructor was Mr. Albert Fleming, who, at the suggestion of Ruskin, had recently revived hand-spinning and hand-weaving in the north of England. I had always hated that obviously "property" spinning-wheel in the opera and Margaret's unmarketable thread. My thread always broke, and at last I had to "fake" my spinning to a certain extent, but at least I worked my wheel right and gave an impression that I could spin my pound of thread a day with the best!



Two operatic stars did me the honour to copy my Margaret dress—Madame Albani and Madame Melba. It was rather odd, by the way, that many mothers who would take their daughters to see the opera of "Faust" would not bring them to see the Lyceum play. One of these mothers was Princess Mary of Teck, a constant patron of most of our plays.

Other people "missed the music." The popularity of an opera will often kill a play, although the play may have existed before the music was ever thought of. The Lyceum "Faust" held its own against Gounod. I liked our incidental music to the action much better. It was taken from Berlioz and Lassen, except for the Brocken music, which was the original composition of Hamilton Clarke.

"Faust's" Four Hundred Ropes

In many ways "Faust" was our heaviest production. About four hundred ropes were used, each rope with a name. The list of properties and instructions to the carpenters became a joke among the theatre staff. When Henry first took "Faust" into the provinces, the head carpenter at Liverpool, Myers by name, being something of a humorist, copied out the list on a long, thin sheet of paper which rolled up like a royal proclamation. Instead of "God save the Queen," he wrote at the foot, with many flourishes:

"God help Bill Myers!"



The crowded houses at "Faust" were largely composed of "repeaters," as Americans call those charming playgoers who come to see a play again and again. We found favour with the artists and musicians, too, even in "Faust"! Here is a nice letter I got during the run (it was a long one) from that gifted singer and good woman, Madame Antoinette Sterling:

"My dear Miss Terry,

"I was quite as disappointed as yourself that you were not at St. James' Hall last Monday for my concert.... Jean Ingelow said she enjoyed the afternoon very much....

"I wonder if you would like to come to luncheon some day and have a little chat with her, but perhaps you already know her. I love her dearly. She has one fault—she never goes to the theatre. Oh, my! What she misses, poor thing, poor thing! We have already seen Faust twice, and are going again soon, and shall take the George Macdonalds this time. The Holman Hunts were delighted. He is one of the most interesting and clever men I have ever met, and she is very charming and clever, too. How beautifully plain you write! Give me the recipe. With many kind greetings,

"Believe me, sincerely yours,

"ANTOINETTE STERLING MACKINLAY."

In "Faust" Violet Vanbrugh "walked on" for the first time.

My girl Edy was an "angel" in the last act. This reminds me that Henry one Valentine's Day sent me some beautiful flowers with this little rhyme:

White and red roses, Sweet and fresh posies: One bunch, for Edy, Angel of mine— Big bunch for Nell, my dear Valentine.



Henry Irving has often been attacked for not preferring Robert Louis Stevenson's "Macaire" to the version which he actually produced in 1883. It would have been hardly more unreasonable to complain of his producing "Hamlet" in preference to Mr. Gilbert's "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern." Stevenson's "Macaire" may have all the literary quality that is claimed for it, although I personally think Stevenson was only making a delightful idiot of himself in it! Anyhow, it is frankly a burlesque, a skit, a satire on the real "Macaire." The Lyceum was not a burlesque house! Why should Henry have done it?

It was funny to see Toole and Henry rehearsing together for "Macaire." Henry was always plotting to be funny. When Toole, as Jacques Strop, hid the dinner in his pocket, Henry, after much labour, thought of his hiding the plate inside his waistcoat. There was much laughter later on when Macaire, playfully tapping Strop with his stick, cracked the plate, and the pieces fell out! Toole hadn't to bother about such subtleties, and Henry's deep-laid plans for getting a laugh must have seemed funny to dear Toole, who had only to come on and say "Whoop!" and the audience roared.

Henry's death as Macaire was one of a long list of splendid deaths. Macaire knows the game is up and makes a rush for the French windows at the back of the stage. The soldiers on the stage shoot him before he gets away. Henry did not drop, but turned round, swaggered impudently down to the table, leaned on it, then suddenly rolled over, dead.

Henry's production of "Werner" for one matinee was to do some one a good turn, and when Henry did a good turn he did it magnificently. We rehearsed the play as carefully as if we were in for a long run. Beautiful dresses were made for me by my friend Alice Carr, but when we had given that one matinee they were put away for ever. The play may be described as gloom, gloom, gloom. It was worse than "The Iron Chest."

While Henry was occupying himself with "Werner" I was pleasing myself with "The Amber Heart," a play by Alfred Calmour, a young man who was at this time Wills' secretary. I wanted to do it, not only to help Calmour, but because I believed in the play and liked the part of Ellaline. I had thought of giving a matinee of it at some other theatre, but Henry, who at first didn't like my doing it at all, said: "You must do it at the Lyceum. I can't let you, or it, go out of the theatre."

So we had the matinee at the Lyceum. Mr. Willard and Mr. Beerbohm Tree were in the cast, and it was a great success. For the first time Henry saw me act—a whole part and from the "front," at least, for he had seen and liked scraps of my Juliet from the "side." Although he had known me such a long time, my Ellaline seemed to come quite as a surprise. "I wish I could tell you of the dream of beauty that you realised," he wrote after the performance. He bought the play for me, and I continued to do it "on and off," in England and in America, until 1902.

Many people said that I was good, but that the play was bad. This was hard on Alfred Calmour. He had created the opportunity for me, and few plays with the beauty of "The Amber Heart" have come my way since. "He thinks it's all his doing!" said Henry. "If he only knew!" "Well, that's the way of authors!" I answered. "They imagine so much more about their work than we put into it that although we may seem to the outsider to be creating, to the author we are, at our best, only doing our duty by him!"

Our next production was "Macbeth"; but meanwhile we had visited America three times. In the next chapter I shall give an account of my tours in America, of my friends there; and of some of the impressions that the vast, wonderful country made on me.



FOOTNOTES:

[41] Copyright, 1908, by Ellen Terry (Mrs. Carew)

[42] Madame: Avec Olivia vous m'avez donne bonheur et peine. Bonheur par votre art qui est noble et sincere—peine car je sens tristesse au coeur de voir une belle et genereuse nature de femme, donner son ame a l'art—comme vous le faites—quand c'est la vie meme, votre coeur meme, qui parle tendrement, douleureusement, noblement sous votre jeu. Je ne puis pas me debarrasser d'une certaine tristesse quand je vois des artistes si nobles et hauts tels que vous et Monsieur Irving. Si vous deux vous etes si fortes de soumettre (avec un travail continuel) la vie a l'art, moi de mon coin, je vous regarde comme des forces de la nature meme qui auraient droit de vivre pour eux-memes et pas pour la foule. Je n'ose pas vous deranger, Madame, et d'ailleurs j'ai tant a faire aussi, qu'il m'est impossible de vous dire de vive voix tout le grand plaisir que vous m'avez donnee, mais parce que j'ai senti votre coeur. Veuillez, chere madame, croire au mien qui ne demande pas mieux dans cet instant que vous admirer et vous le dire tant bien que mal d'une maniere quelconque.

Bien a vous,

E. Duse.



THE LIE DIRECT

BY

CAROLINE DUER

Two men went up into the sanctum sanctorum of the Quill Drivers' Club to lunch. The younger was a writer of fiction and the elder a clergyman, his friend and guest, by chance encountered on a rare visit to town.

They were evidently absorbed in discussion when they sat down, for the host hardly interrupted himself long enough to give the briefest of orders to the attendant waiter before he leaned forward across the table and resumed eagerly: "Let the critics rage furiously together if they will"—referring to a controversy excited by one of his late stories. "The thing is going to stand! I believe, and I'll go bail there's no reasonable person who doesn't believe, that falsehood is justifiable, and more than justifiable, on many occasions."

"Only everybody will differ as to the occasions," put in the clergyman, the humor in the corners of his eyes counterbalanced by the graveness of the lines about his mouth.

"I'll go further than that," continued the writer, striking his hand on the table impressively. "In the circumstances as I described them I won't call it falsehood! I agree with whoever it was who said that one lied only when one intentionally deceived a person who had a right to know the truth."

"And suppose," said the clergyman, with sudden earnestness, "the knowledge of the truth would be cruel, painful, harmful even, to the person who had the right to it. What then? Would you still owe it to him, or not?"

"Why, then, of course, I wouldn't tell it," answered the other. "You might call it what you liked. I suppose it would be a passive lie, if you're particular about its front name; but there have been lots of fine ones, actively and passively told, since the world began."

"Fine?" echoed the clergyman thoughtfully. "I wonder!"

"Fitting, proper, expedient," amended the writer impatiently.

"Fitting, proper, expedient," repeated the clergyman—"even when the result appeared to justify it. I—wonder!"

He sank into a reverie so profound that the younger man had to call his attention to the fact that food was being offered to him; and then he helped himself mechanically, as if his mind had drifted too far to be immediately recalled to material things.

"I wonder!" he said again vaguely, his eyes, sad and thoughtful, fixed upon distance.

"I was once, you see," he went on, making a sudden effort and looking his companion in the face with a directness that was almost disconcerting. "I was once involved in a case where such a lie had been told, and I—well, I am inclined, if you have no objections, to tell you the whole story and let you judge.

"Some years ago I broke down from over-work and worry, and was ordered away for my health. I chose to travel about my own country, and at a hotel in a certain place where many people go to recover from imaginary ailments I met a man who was being slowly crippled forever by a real and incurable one. His place at the table was next to mine, and every day he was brought in, in his wheeled chair, from the sunniest corner of the piazza, fed neatly and expeditiously by his manservant (his own hands were almost useless), and fetched away again. During the meal when I first sat beside him we entered into conversation, and I found him so cultivated, charming, and humorous a companion that for the rest of my stay I neglected no opportunity of indulging myself in his society."

"Of course it was no indulgence at all to him," said the writer, whose affectionate regard for his friend was one of long standing.

"I hope so," answered the other, "and, indeed, I had every reason to suppose that the liking which sprang up between us was no less on his side than on my own. We were mutually attracted in spite of, or perhaps because of, our fundamental differences in disposition, opinions, beliefs; though no Christian could have borne affliction with a braver patience than he—the braver in that he did not look to a hereafter for comfort."

"A continuous powder and no jam to come," threw in the writer, with the glare of battle in his eye, for he also had opinions and beliefs at variance with those of his companion. "There are a good many of us who have to face that."

"Not many in worse case than he," returned the clergyman gently, declining to be drawn into discussion. "But although the use of his limbs was denied him, he took a keener delight than any man I have ever known in the compensations that his mind, through books, and his senses, through contact with the outer world, brought him. Beauty of color and form, beauty in nature, beauty in people, was an exquisite pleasure to him, and music an intense—I had almost said a sacred passion. He drank in lovely sights and sweet sounds with an almost painful appreciation, and I remember well his telling me in his whimsical way—it was during one of the last conversations I had with him before my departure—that, travel about as I would with my mere automatic arms and legs, I could never overtake such happiness as he did on the wings of harmony.

"We corresponded, from time to time, for a year or two, I in the usual manner and he by means of dictation to his servant, who was an earnest if somewhat poor performer on the type-writer. But gradually the thread of our intercourse was broken in some way and our letters ceased."

"I've always said that nothing but community of interests preserved friendship," declared the writer sententiously, "with the exception, of course, of our own."

"I was surprised, therefore," went on the clergyman, "to receive about eighteen months ago a brief note telling me that a great sorrow and a great joy had come into his life almost simultaneously, and begging me to go to him, if he might so far trespass upon our acquaintance, as he had 'matters about which it behooved a man'—I am repeating his words—'to consult another wiser than himself.' I started at once. It took me all day to accomplish the journey, and it was early evening when I arrived at the little station he had mentioned as the place where he would send somebody to meet me. I found the carriage without difficulty, and was driven for some five miles through the beautiful autumn woods.

"It was a low, square, comfortable-looking paper-weight of a house," he went on after a moment, "beaming welcome from an open front door, where my friend's confidential servant stood waiting for me. He conducted me at once to my room, saying that dinner would be served as soon as I could make myself ready and join his master in the library. This I made haste to do. I found my friend in his wheeled chair, near a cheerfully crackling fire in a delightful room lined with books from its scarlet-carpeted floor to its oak-beamed ceiling. He welcomed me warmly and yet with a certain constraint, and I felt—it might have been some subtle thought-transference—that the thing he had it in his mind to discuss with me was one which only an extremity of trouble would have induced him to discuss with any man.

"Dinner was announced almost before our first greetings were over, and an excellent dinner it was—cooked by an old woman who, he declared, had virtually ruled him and the house ever since he could remember, and waited upon by the man, who also attended to his master's peculiar needs with the utmost swiftness and dexterity. The household, I subsequently learned, consisted of only these two, an elderly housemaid, and the white-haired coachman who had driven me from the station.

"'Why they stay with me in this out-of-the-way place, without a grumble, all the year round, I can't see,' said my host, after our meal was over and we were once more alone in the library. 'And, by the way,' he added, turning his face toward me suddenly,—I don't know whether I have mentioned that he had a particularly handsome face,—'apropos of seeing, what I have not seen before I shall have no further chance of informing myself about now, for I have become, in these last six months, completely blind.'

"The unexpected horror of the announcement, the shock of it, left me for the moment speechless. But I looked at him and saw, what I suppose I might in a more direct light have noticed before, that his eyes had the dull, dumb stare of blindness. Before the inarticulate sound of pity I made could have reached him, he continued:

"'I used to tell myself, quite sincerely, I think, that as long as I had an eye or an ear left I'd not waste my time envying any other man. Nature seems to have been afraid I'd see too much, so she has cut off my powers of vision. That is the great sorrow that has come to me. The great joy, if I may accept it (and it is about that that I have been driven by my conscience to consult you), is that I have found—or perhaps, as that suggests a certain amount of activity on my part, I'd better say Fate has found for me—here, living at my very gates, a woman who loves me!'

"He appeared to dread interruption, for he went on hurriedly: 'Extraordinary, isn't it? But let me tell you how it happened. I've a garden out there to the south, and last summer, soon after this thing first came upon me, I used to have myself wheeled there and left in the shade for hours to think things out where I could feel light and color and fresh air about me. On the other side of my wall is her cottage, and one day she began to play, play like an angel. You know how that would move me. I sent a note to her telling her that a blind beggar had been lifted into heaven for a little while by her music, and would be glad if, of her clemency, he might sometimes be so lifted again. After that she played to me every day, and so, she being alone—for her mother, it seems, had died early in the spring, soon after they came—and I being lonely, we gradually drifted into—Oh, I know it's monstrous!' he exclaimed, breaking off in his recital, and evidently afraid of the mental recoil he suspected in me, 'monstrous to consider that a beautiful young woman should bear the name, even, of wife to me; but she is very poor, and now entirely desolate. I am, comparatively speaking, well off, and I cannot live long! I shall at least leave her better able to fight the world. You'll think I could do that, I suppose, in any event, for a man such as I am—a sightless head in command of a body that cannot move hand or foot—might will what he pleased to any woman without exciting adverse comment; but I ask you, haven't I the right to allow myself the happiness of her near companionship for whatever time it may be before I die? It seems to me that I have, since, instead of shrinking from me, she loves me, and is willing, indeed,—bless her wonderful heart for it,—wilful to marry me. What time is it?' he cried abruptly, turning his blank eyes toward the clock on the mantelpiece.

"'Five minutes before nine,' I answered.

"'She will be here directly,' he said. 'I had a piano of my mother's put in order and moved in here as soon as the garden grew too cold for me. She comes every evening to play to me. You will see her with me, and alone if you like, and to-morrow you must tell me, man to man, what you think I ought or ought not to do. She knows that I was to write and put the case before you, but she will be surprised to find you here.'

"'I will do my best,' said I, infinitely moved, 'to make friends with her.'

"'I wish I could tell what you are thinking now!' he cried out with sudden passion, and then, before I could reply, he said, 'Hush! I hear her in the hall.'

"All the excitement died out of his face, leaving it white and drawn, but peaceful. I had heard nothing.

"'She's coming,' he whispered, 'and she'll be so embarrassed, poor, pretty soul. She thinks it's of no account, her being pretty, but I tell her that, blind as I am, I think I feel the atmosphere of her beauty, and if she were plain she would not please me so.'

"As he spoke the curtains in front of the doorway parted. My eyes, lifted to the height of fair tallness they expected to encounter, looked for an instant upon vacancy. Then they dropped to meet those of a grotesque and piteous little hunchback, whose agonized gaze cried to me, as did the hitching of her poor shoulders and the sudden trembling flutter of her hands to her mouth: 'For God's sake, don't betray me!'

"He leaned his head a little on one side, listening to the silence. Then he said to me, laughing: 'Is she as charming as all that? Or do you refrain from speech for fear of alarming her?'

"She stood quite still, her sharp-featured, tragic face, with its halo of reddish hair, raised toward mine, and her expression imploring, pleading, mutely compelling me.

"I had to answer his question.

"'Both,' I said.

"As I finished he called to her: 'I always knew you were lovely, Rica, but this is a real tribute—the dumbness of admiration!'

* * * * *

"She told me later that he had fantastically described her to herself after hearing her play, at the same time dwelling upon the happiness it was to him to think of her so. She had longed to make her affliction known to him, but for his own sake had not dared.

"'No one here will undeceive him unless you bid them,' she said, 'and you will not be so cruel! What has he left in life but this illusion? What have I but my love for him?'

"And she did love him! I had seen tenderness and pity leap from her eyes whenever they turned in his direction, and he—What should a man have done?" ended the clergyman.

The writer shook his head. "What did you do?" he asked rather hoarsely.

"I married them," answered the other simply.



THE WAYFARERS

BY

MARY STEWART CUTTING

AUTHOR OF "LITTLE STORIES OF COURTSHIP," "LITTLE STORIES OF MARRIED LIFE," ETC.

ILLUSTRATIONS BY ALICE BARBER STEPHENS

XV

"Lois, would you mind very much if we didn't move into the new house, after all?"

"Not move into the new house! What do you mean? I thought it would be finished next week."

"It means that I shall not be able to increase my living expenses this year," said Justin.

Husband and wife were sitting on the piazza, in the shade of the purple wistaria-vines, on a warm Sunday afternoon, a month after Dosia's return. From within, the voices of the children sounded peacefully over their early supper.

The afternoon, so far, had savored only of domestic monotony, with no foreshadowing of events to come. Dosia was out walking with George Sutton, and the people who might "drop in," as they often did on Sundays, had other engagements to-day. Lois, gowned in lavender muslin, had been sitting on the piazza for an hour, trying to read while waiting for Justin to join her. She had counted each minute, but now that he was there, she put down her book with a show of reluctance as she said:

"Why didn't you tell me before? I gave the order for the window-shades yesterday when I was in town—that was what I wanted to talk to you about this afternoon. You have to leave your order at least two weeks beforehand at this season of the year."

"You can countermand it, can't you?"

"I suppose I'll have to—if we're not to move into the house," said Lois in a high-keyed voice, with those tiresome tears coming, as usual, to her eyes. She felt inexpressibly hurt, disappointed, fooled. "I thought you said you were having so many orders lately. Does the money all have to 'go back into the business,'" she quoted sardonically, "as usual? I think there might be some left for your own family sometimes. I'm tired of always going without for the business." It was a complaint she had made many times before, but in each fresh pang of her resentment she felt as if she were saying it for the first time.

"We have orders, I'm glad to say, but we've had one big setback lately," he answered.

He knew, with a twinge, that she had some reason on her side. The very effort for success was meat and drink to him; he cared not what else he went without, so the business grew. But she might have had a little more out of it as they went along, instead of waiting for the grand climax of undoubted prosperity. A little means so much to a wife sometimes, because it means the recognition of her right.

"I've been in a lot of trouble lately, Lois, though I haven't talked about it," he continued, with an unusual appeal in his voice. The blasting fact of those returned machines had been all he could cope with; he had been tongue-tied when it came to speaking about it—the whirl and counter-whirl in his brain demanded concentration, not diffusion and easy words to interpret. But now that he had begun to see his way clear again, he had a sudden deep craving for the unreasoning sympathy of love.

"I waited until the last possible moment to tell you, in hopes that I shouldn't have to, Lois. Anyway, Saunders is going to put up a couple of houses for next year that you'll like much better, he says."

"Oh, it will be just the same next year; there'll always be something," said Lois indifferently, getting up and going into the house.

He was bitterly hurt, and far too proud to show it. He could have counted on quickest sympathy from her once; he knew in his heart that he could call it out even now if he chose, but he did not choose. If his own wife could be like that, she might be.

"Papa dear, I love you so much!"

He looked down to see his little fair-haired girl, white-ruffled and blue-ribboned, standing beside him a-tiptoe in her little white shoes, her arms reached up to tighten instantly around his neck as he bent over.

"Zaidee, my little Zaidee," he said, and, lifting her on his knee, strained her tightly to him with a rush of such passionate affection that it almost unmanned him for the moment. She lay against his heart perfectly still. After a few moments she put her small hand to his lips, and he kissed it, and she smiled up at him, warm and secure—his little darling girl, his little princess. Yet, even in that joy of his child, he felt a new heart-hunger which no child love, beautiful as it was, could ever satisfy, any more than it could satisfy the heart-hunger of his wife.

She had begun, since the ball, to go around again as usual, and the house looked as if it had a mistress in it once more, though the atmosphere of a home was lacking. She was languid, irritable, and unsmiling, accepting his occasional caresses as if they made little difference to her, though sometimes she showed a sort of fierce, passionate remorse and longing. Either mood was unpleasing to him: it contained tacit reproach for his separateness. Then, there were still occasionally evenings when he came home to find her windows darkened and everything in the household upset and forlorn; when every footfall must be adjusted to her ear—that ear that had strained and ached for his coming. Her whole day culminated in that poor, meager half-hour in which he sat by her, and in which her personality hardly reached him until he kissed her, on leaving, with a quick, remorseful affection at being so glad to go.

The typometer disaster had proved as bad as, and worse than, he had feared, but he was working retrieval with splendid effort, calling all his personal magnetism into play where it was possible. He had borrowed a large sum from Lanston's,—a young private banking firm, glad at the moment to lend at a fairly large interest for a term of months,—holding on to the dissatisfied customers and creating new demand for the machine, so that the sales forged ahead of Cater's, with whom there was still a good-natured we-rise-together sort of rivalry, though it seemed at times as if it might take a sharper edge. Leverich's dictum regarding Cater embodied an extension of the policy to be pursued with minor, outlying competitors: "You'll have to force that fellow out of business or get him to come into the combine."

Leverich again smiled on Justin. Immediate success was the price demanded for the continuance of a backing. There was just a little of the high-handed quality in his manner which says, "No more nonsense, if you please." That morning after the ball had shown Justin the fangs that were ready, if he showed symptoms of "falling down," to shake him ratlike by the neck and cast him out.

"Papa dear, papa dear! There's a man coming up the walk, my papa dear."

"Why, so there is," said Justin, rising and setting the child down gently as he went forward with outstretched hand, while Lois simultaneously appeared once more on the piazza. "Why, how are you, Larue? I'm mighty glad to see you back again. When did you get home?"

"The steamer got in day before yesterday," said the newcomer, shaking hands heartily with host and hostess. He was a man with a dark, pointed beard and mustache, deep-set eyes, and an unusually pleasant deep voice that seemed to imply a grave kindliness. His glance lingered over Lois. "How are you, Mrs. Alexander? Better, I hope? Which chair shall I push out of the sun for you—this one?"

"Yes, thank you," responded Lois, sinking into it, with her billows of lilac muslin and her rich brown hair against the background of green vines. "Aren't you going to sit down yourself?"

"Thank you, I've only a minute," said the visitor, leaning against one of the piazza-posts, his wide hat in his hand. "I'm out at my place at Collingwood for the summer, and the trains don't connect very well on Sunday. I had to run down here to see some people, but I thought I wouldn't pass you by."

"Did you have a pleasant trip?" asked Lois.

"Very pleasant," rejoined Mr. Larue, without enthusiasm. "Oh, by the way, Alexander, I heard that you were inquiring for me at the office last week. Anything I can do for you?"

"Have you any money lying around just now that you don't know what to do with?" asked Justin significantly.

Mr. Larue's dark, deep-set eyes took on the guarded change which the mention of money brings into social relations.

"Perhaps," he admitted.

"May I come around to-morrow at three o'clock and talk to you?"

"Yes, do," said the other, preparing to move on. "Please don't get up, Mrs. Alexander; you don't look as well as I'd like to see you."

"Oh, I'm all right," said Lois.

"You must try and get strong this summer," said Mr. Larue, his eyes dwelling on her with an intimate, penetrating thoughtfulness before he turned away and went, Justin accompanying him down the walk, Zaidee dancing on behind. Lois looked after them. At the gate, Mr. Larue turned once more and lifted his hat to her.

A faint, lovely color had come into Lois' cheek, brought there by the powerful tonic which she always felt in Eugene Larue's presence. She felt cheered, invigorated, comforted, by a man with whom she had hardly talked alone for an hour altogether in their whole five years' acquaintance. He had a way of taking thought for her on the slightest occasion, as he had to-day: he knew when she entered a room or left it, and she knew that he knew.

It was one of those peculiar, unspoken sympathetic intimacies which exist between certain men and women, without the conscious volition of either. His glance or the tone of his voice was a response to her mood; he saw instinctively when she was too warm or too cold, or needed a rest. Her husband, who loved her, had no such intuitions; he had to be told clumsily, and even then might not understand. Yet she had not loved him the less because she must beat down such little barriers herself; perhaps she had loved him the more for it—he was the man to whom she belonged heart and soul: but the barriers were a fact. She had an absolute conviction that she could do nothing that Eugene Larue would misunderstand, any more than she misunderstood her involuntary attraction for him. Above all things, he reverenced her as his ideal of what a wife and mother should be. He would have given all he possessed to have the kind of love which Justin took as a matter of course.

Eugene Larue had been married himself for ten years, for more than half of which time his wife, whom Lois had never seen, had lived abroad for the further study of music, an art to which she was passionately devoted. If there had been any effort to bring a hint of scandal into the semi-separation, it had been instantly frowned away; there was nothing for it to feed on. Mrs. Larue lived in Dresden, under the undoubted chaperonage of an elderly aunt and in the constant publicity of large musical entertainments and gatherings. She sometimes played the accompaniments of great singers. Her husband went over every spring, presumably to be with her, living alone for the greater part of the year at his large place at Collingwood. Neither was ever known to speak of the other without the greatest respect, and questions as to when either had been "heard from" were usual and in order; it was always tacitly taken for granted that Mrs. Larue's expatriation was but temporary.

But Lois knew, without needing to be told, that he was a man who had suffered, and still suffered at times profoundly, from having all the tenderness of his nature thrown back upon itself, without reference to that sting of the known comment of other men: "It must be pretty tough to have your wife go back on you like that." In some mysterious way, his wife had not needed the richness of the affection that he lavished on her. If her heart had been warmed by it a little when she married him, it had soon cooled off; she was glad to get away, and he had proudly let her go.

Lois smiled up at Justin with sudden coquetry as he mounted the porch steps, but he only looked at her absently as he said:

"There seems to be a shower coming up. Dosia's hurrying down the road. I think I'd better take the chairs in now."

XVI

Dosia had come back from the Leverichs' to a household in which her presence no longer made any difference for either pleasure or annoyance. She came and went unquestioned, practised interminably, and spent her evenings usually in her own room, developing a hungry capacity for sleep, of which she could not seem to have enough—sleep, where all one's sensibilities were dulled and shame and tragedy forgotten. She had, however, rather more of the society of the children than before, owing to their mother's preoccupation. Nothing could have been more of a drop from her position as princess and lady-of-love in the Leverich domicile, where she had been the center of attraction and interest. Everything seemed terribly unnatural here, and she the most unnatural of all—as if she were clinging temporarily to a ledge in mid-air, waiting for the next thing to happen.

Lois had really tried to show some sympathy for the girl, but was held back by her repugnance to Lawson, which inevitably made itself felt. She couldn't understand how Dosia could possibly have allowed herself to get into an equivocal position with such a man—"really not a gentleman," as she complained to Justin, and he had answered with the vague remark that you could never tell about a girl; even in its vagueness the reply was condemning.

The people whom Dosia met in the street looked at her with curiously questioning eyes as they talked about casual matters. Mrs. Leverich bowed incidentally as she passed in her carriage, where another visitor was ensconced, a blonde lady from Montreal, in whom her hostess was absorbed.

Dosia had been twice to see Miss Bertha, with a blind, desultory counting on the sympathy that had helped her before; but she had been unfortunate in the times for her visits. On the first occasion Mrs. Snow, with majestic demeanor and pursed lips, had kept guard; and on the second the whole feminine part of the family were engaged, in weird pinned-up garments, in the sacred rite of setting out the innumerable house-plants, with the help of a man hired semiannually, for the day, to set out the plants or to take them in. Callers are a very serious thing when you have a man hired by the day, who must be looked after every minute, so that he may be worth his wage. As Mrs. Snow remarked, "People ought to know when to come and when not to." Dosia got no farther than the porch, and though Miss Bertha asked her to come again, and gave her a sprig of sweet geranium, with a kind little pressure of the hand, she was not asked to sit down.

Your trouble wasn't anybody else's trouble, no matter how kind people were; it was only your own. Billy Snow, who had always been her devoted cavalier, patently avoided her, turning red in the face and giving her a curt, shamefaced bow as he went by, having his own reasons therefor. It would have hurt her, if anything of that kind could have hurt her very much. But Dosia was in the half-numb condition which may result from some great blow or the fall from a great height, save for those moments when she was anguished suddenly by poignant memories of sharpest dagger-thrusts, at which her heart still bled unbearably afresh, as when one remembers the sufferings of the long-peaceful dead which one must, for all time, be terribly powerless to alleviate.

Mr. Sutton alone kept his attitude toward her unchanged. He sent her great bunches of roses, that seemed somehow alive and comfortingly akin when she buried her face in them. He had come to see her every week, though twice she had gone to bed before his arrival. If his attitude was changed at all, it was to a heightened respect and interest and solicitude. It might be that in the subsidence of other claims Mr. Sutton, who had a good business head, saw an occasion of profit for himself which he might well be pardoned for seizing. He required little entertaining when he called, developing an unsuspected faculty for narrative conversation.

Foolish and inane in amatory "attentions" to young ladies, George was no fool. He had a fund of knowledge gained from the observation of current facts, and could talk about the newsboys' clubs, or the condition of the docks, or the latest motor-cars and ballooning, or the practical reasons why motives for reform didn't reform; and the talk was usually semi-interesting, and sometimes more—he had the personal intimacy with his topics which gives them life. Dosia began to find him, if not exciting, at least not tiring; restful, indeed. She began genuinely to like him. He took her thoughts away from herself, while obviously always thinking of her.

This Sunday afternoon Dosia—modish and natty in her short walking-skirt and little jacket of shepherd's check, and a clumpy, black-velveted, pink-rosed straw hat—walked companionably beside the square-set figure of George up the long slope of the semi-suburban road. Dosia had preferred to walk instead of driving. There was a strong breeze, although the sun was warm; and the summerish wayside trees and grasses had inspired him with the recollection of a country boy's calendar—a pleasing, homely monologue. He was, however, never too occupied with his theme to stoop over and throw a stone out of her path, or to hold her little checked umbrella so that the sun should not shine in her eyes, or to offer her his hand with old-fashioned gallantry if there was any hint of an obstacle to surmount. The way was long, yet not too long. They stopped, however, when they reached the summit, to rest for a while.

As they stood there, looking into the distance for some minutes, Dosia with thoughts far, far from the scene, George Sutton's voice suddenly broke the silence:

"I had a letter from Lawson Barr yesterday."

Dosia's heart gave a leap that choked her. It was the first time that anybody had spoken his name since he left. She had prayed for him every night—how she had prayed! as for one gone forever from any other reach than that of the spirit. At this heart-leap ... fear was in it—fear of any news she might hear of him; fear of the slighting tone of the person who told it, which she would be powerless to resent; fear of awakening in herself the echo of that struggle of the past.

"He's at the mines, isn't he?" she questioned, in that tone which she had always striven to make coolly natural when she spoke of him.

"Yes; but I don't believe he's working there yet. He seems to be mostly engaged in playing at the dance-hall for the miners. Sounds like him, doesn't it?"

"Yes," assented Dosia, looking straight off into the distance.

"I call it hard luck for Barr to be sent out there," pursued Mr. Sutton. "It's the worst kind of a life for him. He's an awfully clever fellow; he could do anything, if he wanted to. I don't know any man I admire more, in certain ways, than I do Barr."

Sutton spoke with evident sincerity. Lawson's clever brilliancy, his social ease and versatility and musical talent, were all what he himself had longed unspeakably to possess. Besides, there was a deeper bond. "I've known him ever since he was a curly-headed boy, long before he came to this place," he continued.

"Oh, did you?" cried Dosia, suddenly heart-warm. With a flash, some words of Mrs. Leverich's returned to her—"Mr. Sutton brought Lawson home last night." So that was why! Her voice was tremulous as she went on: "It is very unusual to hear any one speak as you do of Mr. Barr. Everybody here seems to look down on—to despise him."

"Oh, that sort of talk makes me sick," said George, with an unexpected crude energy. His good-natured face took on a sneering, contemptuous expression. "Men talking about him who——" He looked down sidewise at Dosia and closed his lips tightly. No man was more respectable than he,—respectability might be said to be his cult,—yet he lived in daily, matter-of-fact touch with a world of men wherein "ladies" were a thing apart. No man was ever kept from any sort of confidence by the fact of George Sutton's presence. His feeling for Barr and toleration of his shortcomings were partly due to the fact that George himself had also been brought up in one of those small, dull country towns in which all too many of the cleanly, white, God-fearing houses have no home in them for a boy and his friends.

"If Lawson had had money, everybody would have thought he was all right," he asserted shortly. "Perhaps we'd better be going home; it looks as if there was a shower coming up. Money makes a lot of difference in this world, Miss Dosia."

"I suppose it does; I've never had it," said Dosia simply.

"Maybe you'll have it some day," returned Mr. Sutton significantly. His pale eyes glowed down at her as they walked back along the road together, but the fact was not unpleasant to her; Lawson's name had created a new bond between them. Poor, storm-beaten Dosia felt a warm throb of friendship for George. He sympathized with Lawson; he prized her highly, if nobody else did, and he was not ashamed to show it. He went on now with genuine emotion: "I know one thing; if—if I had a wife, she'd never have to wish twice for anything I could give her, Miss Dosia."

"She ought to care a good deal for you, then," suggested Dosia, picking her way daintily along the steeply sloping path, her little black ties finding a foothold between the stones, with Mr. Sutton's hand ever on the watch to interpose supportingly at her elbow.

"No, I wouldn't ask that; I'd only ask her to let me care for her. I think most men expect too much from their wives," said George. "I don't think they've got the right to ask it. And I don't think a man has any right to marry until he can give the lady all she ought to have—that's my idea! If any beautiful young lady, as sweet as she was beautiful, did me the honor of accepting my hand,"—Mr. Sutton's voice faltered with honest emotion,—"I'd spend my life trying to make her happy; I would indeed, Miss Dosia. I'd take her wherever she wanted to go, as far as my means would afford; she should have anything I could get for her."

"I think you are the very kindest man I have ever known," said Dosia, with sincerity, touched by his earnestness, though with a far-off, outside sort of feeling that the whole thing was happening in a book. Her vivid imagination was alluringly at work. In many novels which she had read the real hero was the other man, whom no one noticed at first, and who seemed to be prosaic, even uncouth and stupid, when confronted with his fascinating rival, yet who turned out to be permanently true and unselfish and omnisciently kind—the possessor, in spite of his uninspiring exterior, of all the sterling qualities of love; in short, "John," the honest, patient, constant "John" of fiction. His affection for the maiden might be of so high a nature that he would not even claim her as a wife after marriage until she had learned truly to love him, which of course she always did. If Mr. Sutton were really "John"—Dosia half-freakishly cast a swift inventorial side-glance at the gentleman.

The next moment they turned into the highroad, and a rippling smile overspread her face.

"Here's the very lady for you now," she remarked flippantly, as Ada Snow, prayer-book in hand, came into view at the crossing against a dust-cloud in the background, on her way to a friend's house from service at the little mission chapel on the hill. Ada's cheeks took on a not unbecoming flush, her eyes drooped modestly beneath Mr. Sutton's glance,—a maidenly tribute to masculine superiority,—before she went down the side-road.

Mr. Sutton's face reddened also. "Now, Miss Dosia! Miss Ada may be very charming, but I wouldn't marry Miss Ada if she were the only girl left in the world. I give you my word I wouldn't. You ought to know——"

"We'll have to hurry, or we'll be caught in the rain," interrupted Dosia, rushing ahead with a rapidity that made further conversation an affair of ineffective jerks, though she dreaded to get back to the house and be left alone to the numb dreariness of her thoughts. Justin and Lois were gathering up the rugs and sofa-pillows, as they reached the piazza, to take them in from the blackly advancing storm. Lois greeted Mr. Sutton with unusual cordiality; perhaps she also dreaded the accustomed dead level.

"Do come in; you'll be caught in the rain if you go on. Can't you stay to a Sunday night's tea with us?"

"Oh, do," urged Dosia, disregarding the delighted fervor of his gaze. Lois' hospitality, never her strong point, had been much in abeyance lately; to have a fourth at the table would be a blessed relief. She felt a new tie with Mr. Sutton: they both sympathized with Lawson, believed in him!

She ran up-stairs to change her walking-suit for a soft little round-necked summer gown of pinkish tint, made at Mrs. Leverich's, which somehow made her pale little face and fair, curling hair look like a cameo. When she came down again, she ensconced herself in one corner of the small spindle sofa, to which Zaidee instantly gravitated, her red lips parted over her little white teeth in a smile of comfort as she cuddled within Dosia's half-bare round white arm, while Mr. Sutton, drawing his chair up very close, leaned over Dosia with eyes for nobody else, his round face getting brick-red at times with suppressed emotion, though he tried to keep up his part in an amiable if desultory conversation. Lois reclined languidly in an easy-chair, and Justin alternately played with and scolded the irrepressible Redge, in the intervals of discourse.

Through the long open windows they watched the sky, which seemed to darken or grow light as fitfully, in the progress of the oncoming storm, the wind lifted the vines on the piazza and flapped them down again; the trees bent in straightly slanting lines, with foam-tossing of green and white from the maples; still it did not rain. Presently from where Dosia sat she caught sight of a passer-by on the other side of the street—a tall, straight, well-set-up figure with the easy, erect carriage of a soldier. He stopped suddenly when he was opposite the house, looked over at it, and seemed to hesitate; then he moved on hastily, only to stop the next instant and hesitate once more. This time he crossed over with a quick, decided step.

"Why, here's Girard!" cried Justin, rising with alacrity. His voice came back from the hall. "Awfully glad you took us on your way. Leverich told you where I lived? You'll have to stay now until the storm is over. Lois, this is Mr. Girard. You know Sutton, of course. Dosia——"

"I have already met Mr. Girard," said Dosia, turning very white, but speaking in a clear voice. This time it was she who did not see the half-extended hand, which immediately dropped to his side, though he bowed with politely murmured assent. Stepping back to a chair half across the room, he seated himself by Justin.

A wave of resentment, greater than anything that she had ever felt before, had surged over Dosia at the sight of him, as his eyes, with a sort of quick, veiled questioning in them, had for an instant met hers—resentment as for some deep, irremediable wrong. Her cheeks and lips grew scarlet with the proudly surging blood, she held her head high, while Mr. Sutton looked at her as if bewitched—though he turned from her a moment to say:

"Weren't you up on the Sunset Drive this afternoon, Girard?"

"Yes; I thought you didn't see me," said the other lightly, himself turning to respond to a question of Justin's, which left the other group out of the conversation, an exclusion of which George availed himself with ardor.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse