Mermaid of Druid Lake
CHARLES WEATHERS BUMP
Author of "His Baltimore Madonna," etc.
NUNN & COMPANY BALTIMORE 1906
Copyright 1906 by Charles Weathers Bump
All rights Reserved
Acknowledgement is Given to the Baltimore News for Aid in Reprinting these Stories
The Horn-Shafer Company Baltimore. Md.
Twelve More Stories
The Mermaid of Druid Lake 5
The Goddess of Truth 18
A Daughter of Cuba Libre 30
A Two-Party Line 43
Timon Up to Date 57
The Night that Patti Sang 67
An Island on a Jamboree 81
Alexander the Great 93
Breaking Into Medicine 104
The Pink Ghost of Franklin Square 119
The Vanished Mummy 127
"Mount Vernon 1-0-0-0" 139
The Mermaid of Druid Lake
If Edwin Horton had not had a sleepless time that hot June night it probably would never have happened. As it was, after tossing and pitching on an uncomfortably warm mattress for several hours, he had dressed himself and left his Bolton-avenue home for a stroll in Druid Hill Park just as the dawn made itself evident. That was the beginning of the adventure.
Not a soul was in sight when he reached the driveway around the big lake, and he let out to take a little vigorous exercise, breathing in the fresh air with more enjoyment than had been his for some hours.
About half way around he stopped suddenly and rubbed his eyes to make sure he was not dreaming. For a curve in the road had brought him the knowledge that he was not alone in his appreciation of the early morning hour. Seated beside the water, on the rocks that line the lake shore, was a damsel—a rather good-looking one, as well as he could judge at the distance of a hundred yards. She was leaning on her left elbow and looking out over the lake in rather a pensive, dreamy attitude. Of course, young ladies don't ordinarily get up before dawn to go out to Druid Hill Park for the purpose of sitting alone beside the broad sweep of city water, and Edwin naturally felt some surprise at the novelty of the sight. Besides, she was inside the high iron railing, and he wondered how she had got there.
In the intensity of his interest he slowed down his pace as he drew nearer along the roadway. Should he watch her unobserved for a while to ascertain her purpose? Should he frankly hail her and ask whether she objected to company? Should he—well, the damsel settled his doubts for him just then by discovering him. She appeared startled, and he fancied she half meant to plunge into the lake. Then she changed her mind, gave him a bewitching little smile and raised her free hand to beckon him. Edwin needed no second invitation. The novelty of the situation was too alluring to resist.
In another moment he had scaled the fence and was clambering awkwardly down the rocks. And as he came close he found her a very pretty damsel indeed, with youthful, rosy cheeks, fetching blue eyes and long, light tresses that hung unconfined from her head down upon the sloping rocks behind her. She was smiling, and yet he thought he detected a renewed disposition to slip away from him before he had drawn too close.
Then he had a shock.
She was only half a woman!
The other half of her was fish—scaly fish—partly submerged in the waters of the lake!
He paused irresolutely. It was all right, you know, to read about mermaids in old mythologies and fairy tales. But to encounter one in this year of Our Lord, so near home as Druid lake! Oh, fudge! the boys at the Ariel Club would never get through "joshing" him should he ever say he had seen such a thing. It could not be true; it was too amazing! He was a fool to let his nerves get the better of him. He had better cut out those visits to the river resorts, or next he would be seeing pink elephants climbing trees. First thing he knew he would wake up in that stuffy room at home. No, he couldn't be dreaming! There was the railing, and the lake, and the white tower, and General Booth's home, and the Madison-avenue entrance, and the Wallace statue and a dozen other familiar spots in a most familiar perspective.
And there, too, was the damsel in flesh and blood, or, rather, flesh and fish!
She was the first to speak.
"Good morning to you, stranger."
She spoke English—good, clear mother-tongue. Her lips were parted in that alluring smile, and her manner was as saucy as that of any fair flirt he had ever known of womankind.
"In the name of Heaven, who are you?" he stammered as he sat down, awkwardly, beside her.
She laughed outright—mischievously, mockingly.
"I? I am the nymph of the lake. Long years ago I was the naiad of the woodland spring that is now deep down yonder," indicating a spot out in the lake. "But they dammed me in and turned great floods of water in here, and mighty Jupiter gave me my new title."
"And are you really half fish?"
She laughed again.
"I am what you see."
As she spoke she gracefully swayed the lower half of her in the water. A million glistening scales prismatically reflected the increasing morning light. She was half fish, all right. There was no doubt about that.
"By gosh! here's a rum go!" muttered Edwin to himself.
"What did you say?" queried the mermaid.
"I said, if you must know, 'By Jove! you are a beauty,'" he replied, gallantly and impetuously.
The mermaid smiled again. The feminine half of her was pleased with the compliment to her good looks.
"I'm afraid you're a sad flatterer," she said, coquettishly. She lowered her blue eyes, then uplifted the lashes and looked full into his face in a manner that made his heart bound. One little finger was shaken playfully at him. Edwin seized the hand. It was warm; human blood pulsated through it! And as he held it his companion gave just a bit of a squeeze. A score of girls had done the same in bygone sentimental hours. But none so deftly.
"This is certainly an odd adventure," he remarked. "Tell me, lady of the lake, do you often sit here in this unconventional fashion with gentlemen callers?"
"What would you give to know?" she asked, teasingly.
"You are the first for a long, long time," she went on. "Last summer there was a man in a gray uniform who saw me, but he looked so uninteresting I swam away."
"When are you here?" he asked, earnestly.
"I love to sit on the bank when fair Aurora makes the dawning day grow rosy," she acknowledged, "but I have to flee to the depths when the full sun comes." She looked to the east. "It is growing late," she added, hurriedly; "I must be going."
"Not yet, not yet," he pleaded.
"Do not detain me," she cried; "I must go. It means life to me."
Gracefully she glided into the water at his feet.
"You will come tomorrow?" he asked.
The coquettish mood returned to her.
"Perhaps," she said, as with long strokes she headed for the centre of the lake. Edwin watched intently until she had gone a hundred yards and more. Then she ceased swimming, kissed her hand to him and dived under the surface as the single word "Farewell" floated over the water.
It seems superfluous to remark that he was in a trance that day. His father, at the breakfast table, jovially prodded him about being late, until he barely caught himself on the verge of telling his queer secret. And so absent-minded was he at the office that he found he had entered the account of a prosaic old firm as "Mermaid & Nymph."
Long before 4 A. M. the next day he was at the lake. The waning moon was still in the west and there were few signs of the coming day. For half an hour he kept his vigil alone, and had almost begun to think his piscatorial charmer was not coming. Then suddenly he espied her out in the lake, swimming toward him. When about 50 yards off shore she hailed him jovially and bade him go around to the white tower. As he moved along the driveway she kept him company, maintaining the pace with graceful, tireless strokes and occasionally coming nearer to exchange a remark.
"What made you change the trysting place?" he asked.
"Love of change, I suppose," she replied. "A water nymph does not get much chance at novelty."
The half hour they spent upon the water's edge was largely one of sentimental banter between merry maid and enamored man, in which Edwin reached the conclusion that his charmer could give cards to the jolliest little "jollier" in Baltimore. She asked him about his past and present girl friends, and pouted deliciously when he frankly acknowledged them. Finally they parted, she promising to appear the next morning.
The third meeting started a chain of events. They were comfortably chatting on the rocks when Edwin heard the chug-chug of an automobile. The mermaid clutched his arm in alarm. "What are those horrid things?" she naively remarked. "They often make such an awful fuss I can hear them down in my cozy corner."
Edwin's reply was suspended while the machine passed them. The two men who were in it craned their necks most industriously at the sight of a pair of lovers out so early and seated in such an unusual spot for sentimental couples.
When he turned to make the explanations she had asked, he found it a harder task than he had imagined. Her knowledge of human inventions, of worldly means of locomotion, was not extensive, and he had to begin with the A B C of it and go through a course in elementary mechanics. After the forty-second paragraph of instructions the damsel clapped her hands gleefully and cried:
"It would be great fun to take a trip in one!"
"It is great fun," declared Edwin, for a moment forgetting to whom he was talking.
"But then I couldn't do it!" she exclaimed in disappointment. "I couldn't leave the lake."
The unshed tears in her eyes made him ardent.
"You could do it if you are willing," he avowed, earnestly. "You can take the water with you." Visions of a tank lady in the "Greatest Circus on Earth" came to him.
"You are fooling me," murmured the mermaid. And she pouted.
Edwin rose to the occasion. "I am not fooling," he protested. "It would not be difficult to put a tank of water in the machine for you to put your"——He was going to say feet, but he ended his sentence, stumblingly, "your other half in."
In her joy the Lady of the Lake took his cheeks in her hands and gave him an impulsive kiss. "You are the loveliest being on earth," she said, enthusiastically.
That settled it. The rest of the conversation that morning was about automobiles, and when they parted it was with a definite assurance on his part that Edwin would be on hand the next morning with a motor car suitably equipped for her use. It was only when he had gotten away that he realized the ridiculous side of the job he had undertaken. He could get an automobile all right. Tom Reese was a good friend, and a willing one, and his car had a tonneau capacious enough to accommodate the ex-naiad and her movable pool. But he would have to tell Tom the whole peculiar adventure to get him to take his auto out at such an unearthly hour.
"He'll think me clean daft when I unfold it to him," said Edwin to himself.
And Tom did, too. He laughed loud and long when Edwin chose what he thought to be a propitious moment and began his confession. "What are you stuffing me with?" Tom demanded, with tears in his eyes. Edwin renewed his explanations, only to bring on another explosion. "You'll be the death of me yet, old fellow," asserted Tom. "You'd better cut out those absinthes." Edwin added details most earnestly. "You're crazy, boy," was the only reply he got. He grew angry and hurt. "Now, Tom Reese," he demanded, "have I ever failed you when you wanted my help?" Tom apologized and began to study Edwin with intentness. "Look here, Edwin Horton," he said, "if there is any such girl at Druid lake as you describe, she's a 'fake' and she's got you strung mightily." Edwin swallowed this dig at his intelligence peacefully. He saw he had won. "All I ask, Tom," he rejoined, "is that you will take me out in the car and see for yourself." Tom gave him his hand. "I'm from Missouri, and you'll have to show me," he chuckled.
A wash tub from Mrs. Reese's cellar was requisitioned at 3 A. M. for use as a tank. After it had been lifted into the tonneau a hose supplied the needed water. "Climb into the water wagon," ordered Tom, and he threw on the lever and spun out to Druid Hill Park.
The day was still in embryo when the lake tower was reached. But the nymph was there. Her trim blue blouse was still wet after her swim ashore. The morning was summery, but Edwin had appreciated that the ride might be cold for the water lady, and had thoughtfully brought his sister's raincoat.
Tom's astonishment at seeing a bona-fide mermaid was balm to Edwin. The lad stood open-mouthed after Edwin had introduced them. In fact, he was so dumfounded that he failed to notice the hand the damsel had extended to him.
"Come on, Tom," said Edwin; "there isn't much time."
One on each side, the two boys supported the nymph as she cavorted as gracefully as possible up the rocks. They hadn't thought of the iron railing. "Caesar's ghost!" muttered Tom in dismay. "How are we going to get her over that?" Edwin turned to the mermaid. "If you don't mind," said he, "we will have to lift you." "I don't mind," she said, simply, "if you don't drop me."
At Edwin's suggestion he clambered over first, and then Tom raised the young creature boldly until she was clear of the iron spikes. There Edwin took hold of her and carried her to the auto. She was not a heavy burden, but her wet condition and her combination shape increased the difficulties.
From the moment she was once in the auto her joy was a pleasure to observe. She began by expressing her delight at their thoughtfulness in supplying the wash tub. When the machine began to move she clapped her hands in childish glee. From glee to wonderment her mood changed as they spun along the park roads. A hundred naive questions were asked about the objects unfamiliar to a lady whose habitat was at the bottom of a big pond. Edwin answered faithfully, and had his reward in his enjoyment of her artlessness and winsomeness. Occasionally Tom looked round to share in it.
At a good clip the auto was run out Park Heights avenue and back. The dawn seemed most kindly disposed to the trio, for it was long in coming. And when they had reached Pimlico, Tom proposed a detour by way of Roland Park, to return to the lake across Cedar-avenue bridge. The damsel hailed it with glee, only stipulating that she must be back by "sun-up."
They showed her the turf tracks on either side as they bowled along Belvidere avenue eastward, and they were still engaged in explaining to her the methods of horse racing when Tom started down the long hill beside the Tyson place, Cylburn, leading down to the bridge across Jones' Falls. The girl was asking questions, with her bewitching face in close proximity to Edwin's, when there came a startling interruption to their fun. Tom, again greatly interested in the talk, failed to notice a large boulder in the road, and the auto shot over it with a jolt that caused him to lose control of the wheel. The big machine regained its balance, but not its course. Instead, it careened to the right and bumped into the ditch before the alarmed occupants had scarcely grasped their peril. Tom was tossed out on the roadway. Edwin was pitched into the front seat, the mermaid shot past him and fell on a clump of green turf and the tub of water upset, and, in seeking an outlet, poured over the car, drenching Edwin.
"Look out for a gasoline explosion!" shrieked Tom, raising himself from the road, apparently unhurt. Edwin knew he could do nothing to prevent such a catastrophe, so he followed the other two out of the auto as quickly as he could. For a moment he and Tom paid no attention to the mermaid, so absorbed were they in the possibility of a blow-up. But when this danger had apparently passed they discovered that she had lifted herself from the grassy sward and was flip-flopping awkwardly in the direction of the brook that runs through Cylburn near the road.
"Come back! Come back! There's no danger!" called Edwin, as he started after her.
The damsel paid no heed. She was intent on getting to that stream of running water.
Again Edwin called, this time more sharply. The mermaid stopped not, but turned a tearful and much convulsed face to him.
Edwin raced after her. So did Tom. But when they got to the edge of the brook the only sign of her was an increasing ripple on the surface of a little pool. The stream was not so deep but that the bottom could be studied. And yet they saw nothing of her. Evidently she had the enchanted gift of being invisible in water.
Tom looked at Edwin. Edwin looked at Tom.
"That beats the Dutch!" said Tom.
"It's worse than that," replied Edwin, an odd catch in his voice. "We certainly have queered her for good. We must find her and get her back to the Park somehow."
For hours they moved up and down alongside the stream, calling pleadingly, but without response, for their quondam friend. Edwin made a little oration to her in absentia, in which he humbly begged her pardon and swore by all the gods of Mount Olympus—by the great Jupiter, the chaste Diana and all the rest of them, as far as he could remember their names—that he would restore her safely to the lake. But she came not. Tom added his entreaties, but she heeded not. Then Tom suggested that perhaps she had worked her way down the brook and into Jones' Falls, whence she could, if she but knew the pipes, get into her beloved lake again. Edwin jumped at the idea, and, leaving Tom to look after the auto, hastened down the ravine to Jones' Falls, and moved up and down the Falls, calling for the vanished damsel with a fervor that might have caused doubts as to his sanity had anyone heard it.
When he returned, terribly downcast, Tom had gotten the car righted and had discovered that it was uninjured.
"No luck, I suppose?" said Tom.
"No," replied Edwin, moodily.
"Get in, then. We can't stay here all day."
Edwin required urging to leave the spot. Finally he consented to go. As he climbed in he saw the overturned wash tub, and his concentrated wrath and grief were heaped upon it. Picking it up, he hurled it savagely at a tree, and, when it fell to pieces with the concussion, he exclaimed, vehemently and inconsequentially:
"That's the blamed thing that got us into this muss!"
At Druid lake he insisted on another long search. Time and again the auto was stopped that he might call aloud for his charmer. But no answering sound came across the water.
"Curses!" said Edwin. "I'm afraid she's lost for good."
And that is probably the true explanation as to why there has been no mermaid in Druid lake since. She may be in Cylburn brook, she may be in Jones' Falls, she may have reached the Patapsco, but no one has ever seen a creature answering her description and aquatic habits since the damsel who once held the job got giddy and went motoring.
The Goddess of Truth
Not everybody was pleased among the many thousands who on September 12, 1906, saw the industrial parade with which Baltimore celebrated its wonderful recovery from the blow given by the great fire of 1904. Tobias Greenfield, head of a Lexington-street department store, was one who was not. He was angry, violently so. He had been in a chipper mood all morning and had enjoyed watching the long line from the windows of a bedecorated wholesale house on Baltimore street. But when his eyes alighted on the float of his own firm, the anger came. And the longer it stayed with him, the worse it grew, especially as he could not escape the prodding of the friends who had invited him to their warehouse.
When he could decently slip away from them he went to his office and peremptorily called for his advertising manager.
"What the devil do you mean, Melvale," he shouted, "by putting such a scrawny little girl on our float as the Goddess? She looked a fright in the clothes made for Miss Preston, and everyone is laughing at us. Why was not Miss Preston there? How came you to make such a mess?"
The advertising man was nervous under the volley of questions, but he explained at length. Boiled down, it was plain he could give only one reason why the float had been such a mess.
And that reason was William Henry Montgomery.
Miss Preston had been willing to be the Goddess, as planned, but William Henry Montgomery said no. And that settled it.
And who was William Henry Montgomery? Why, Miss Preston loved William Henry Montgomery.
You see, down on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where Maude Preston and William Henry Montgomery were to the manor born, they had sought each other's company so assiduously and for so long that in the length and breadth of Accomac—from Chincoteague to Great Machipongo—every man and woman regarded it as a sure thing that Maude and William Henry would hit it off for a marriage. And they had talked, as people will, about their being an ideal couple, so well suited—William Henry broad-shouldered and solidly knit and Maude molded on classic Diana's lines, erect and queenly, but sweet to look upon. The women thought William Henry a fine-looking lad, while men and women alike regarded Maude as the handsomest creature on the Peninsula below the Maryland line.
And then one day there had been a quarrel. Maude thought a bit of William Henry's advice too assertive, too near to an injunction to obey, and had flared up. And William Henry had flared up likewise. And when the two came to count the cost, William Henry was moodily filling a job in a cousin's lumber-yard in Philadelphia, while Maude, unknown to William Henry, had come to Baltimore to remove herself and her heart-wound from the well-meant, but too gossipy, neighbors in Accomac.
It was a matter of only a few months before she was the best-liked saleswoman in Greenfield & Jacobs' big store. From Mr. Greenfield down to the rawest cash girl all were glad to exchange a word with her, because there was something delightful in Maude's way of expressing even trivialities, and an especial joy in hearing her talk about "you all" and call a car "kyar," a girl "giurl" and other idioms peculiar to Tidewater Virginians. Besides that, she was too good-looking altogether to be passed without notice. The elevator boys were both in love with her, and their seniors—whether clerks, floor-walkers, salesmen or owners—would walk two aisles out of the way any time to pass by Miss Preston at the counter where she disposed of bolts of ribbon. But best of all was the regard which her scores of girl associates had for her. They liked her because they saw she made no effort to seek or to foster the attentions which the masculines of the store thrust upon her. They liked her, too, for the individuality and perfect neatness she showed in her dress, from the bows of ribbon on her short sleeves to the set of her skirts or the way her waists were arranged at the belt. As for her hair, eight-ninths of the store, being the feminine portion, envied its beautiful wave, and two-ninths mustered up courage to ask Maude how she managed to keep it so splendidly. And the two-ninths, being told, let the other six-ninths into the secret. Thus it was, in Greenfield & Jacobs', that the Maude wave became more popular than the one named after Marcelle.
And all the while Maude quietly went on thinking of William Henry. She heard about him sometimes in letters from Accomac, and knew that he was still in Philadelphia. And there were hours when she fought the temptation to write to him there, and humbly tell him that she had been wrong to grow angry with him. Perhaps he had forgotten her and was having a good time—she recoiled from the thought, and yet it would come now and then. And when it came, Maude had spells of the "blues" that she found hard to conceal from her new-made friends at the department store and in her boarding-house on Arlington avenue.
Greenfield & Jacobs was one of the first retail firms to take up the notion of having a float in the Jubilee parade. And, having once decided to exhibit, they went at the preparations with characteristic thoroughness. "Let us do it right," said Jacobs to Greenfield. "Let us spare no expense to have a car so beautiful that all Baltimore will remember it as one of the hits of the parade. Let it be chaste and symbolic, and not overloaded with bunting and people."
The head of the firm had the same thought. "We have always tried to tell the truth to our customers," he rejoined. "Why not try to bring that fact home to thousands by a float on which a handsome Goddess of Truth will be giving a laurel crown to our firm?"
"Capital!" exclaimed Jacobs. "And Miss Preston can be the Goddess."
"I had her in mind when I proposed it," remarked Greenfield.
And both men laughed.
Neither partner was up on mythology, so they turned over to Melvale, the advertising man, the duty of working out the details of the float. Now, Melvale wasn't literary, either; but he knew an obliging young woman at the Pratt Library, and he hied himself to her to ask who under Heaven was the Goddess of Truth and how was she dressed. And the obliging young woman looked up encyclopedias and finally handed Melvale an illustrated copy of Spenser's "Faerie Queene." Melvale had never heard of Spenser, and he had an idea that Spenser spelled his title badly, not even according to the simplified method of Roosevelt and Carnegie. But he took the book and read of the beautiful, pure and trustful Una, the personification of Truth, the beloved of the Red Cross Knight. And when he looked at the pictures he began to grow enthusiastic over the float.
"By George!" he exclaimed. "Miss Preston will look great in that Greek gown."
And Melvale sketched the float as it afterward grew into being at the hands of carpenters, painters and decorators at the old car shed on Pennsylvania avenue. There was, first of all, a beautiful little model of Greenfield & Jacobs' new store, about three feet high, over the corner dome of which the charming Goddess, bending forward, was about to place the laurel crown suggested by Greenfield. Behind her were finely modeled figures of the lion and the lamb which are devoted followers of Una. It was artistic; it was symbolic; it was chaste. There was no word of advertising save the neatly lettered inscription: The Truth stands by us. We stand by the Truth.
It was a harder task than either partner imagined to win the consent of Miss Preston to be a goddess for a few brief hours. She was not the sort of girl to like conspicuousness or notoriety, and she flatly refused when the float was first brought to her attention. Then they pleaded with her. Jacobs told her how much she would be helping the firm if she would only agree to oblige them. Greenfield promised to have the finest of Greek gowns made in the store's dressmaking department. And Melvale, clever man, deftly told her how beautiful and good Una was supposed to be, and mildly intimated that there was no other young woman in Baltimore who could possibly fill the bill on that float. Ultimately Miss Preston's scruples were overcome.
And into the preparations she entered with pleasing enthusiasm. Melvale took her several times to the shed to see the float materialize, and stopped each morning at the ribbon counter to tell her about details. The whole store told her a thousand times how glad each was that she was to be the Goddess. Greenfield did as he promised about the costume—and never was Greek gown made of more beautiful white goods, or more exquisitely and perfectly fitted. Maude read Spenser's poem, more understandingly than had Melvale, and the Goddess of Truth so completely filled her mind during those summer weeks that William Henry Montgomery was almost obscured except when she dreamed how she would like him to see her triumph.
At last came the day of the parade. Melvale, always fertile with expedients, had arranged with Townsend, floor-walker on the fourth floor, who lived on Fulton avenue just where the big parade was to form, that the Goddess Maude might array herself in her finery at his home. Bright and early that morning he sent a carriage for Miss Preston, and ordered the float to be at Townsend's curb by 9 o'clock. The beautiful gown and its accessories, laid away in soft tissue paper, were brought from the Lexington-street store, and a couple of the girls from the dressmaking department were on hand to aid the final making of a goddess.
Maude would not have been a woman had she not taken her time to get into such finery, and Melvale began to grow nervous as the parade hour grew near. The street was in confusion with the gathering of floats and men and curious crowds of onlookers. The chief marshal of the procession, Col. William A. Boykin, had warned him that the line was to move on time, and already there were signs of a start. Five times he dived into the hallway of Townsend's home and called agonizingly upstairs to know if Miss Preston was ready.
Finally she came. And Melvale held his breath as the beauty of the girl burst upon him, even in the half-light of the hall. While it concealed some of the lines of her figure, the gown accentuated her erect, queenly carriage. Her exquisitely molded arms and her full, round throat had been powdered, a bit or two of rouge had heightened the charm of her face and a touch of black had increased the brilliancy of her eyes, already flashing with the excitement of the moment. There was a tremulous curve to her lips as she glanced at Melvale to note whether he was pleased with her appearance.
"The goddess of men, as well as of truth," he murmured as he bent over and gallantly kissed her hand. Una's flush heightened, but she was pleased with the compliment.
Melvale opened the door and the goddess in white passed out into the morning sunlight on Fulton avenue.
And as she did so she gave a faint scream of surprise.
For there, on the sidewalk, was William Henry Montgomery, her Red Cross Knight.
William Henry was as much surprised as the damsel Una. He had no idea that Maude was nearer to him than Accomac, and he was in Baltimore for the day merely to mingle with the holiday crowds and perhaps encounter some Eastern Shore friend from whom he might learn news of her. His presence on Fulton avenue was due to the identical reason as that which inspired thousands of others curious to see the start of a big parade.
When he saw Maude come out of the doorway, a vision in white, he thought for a moment he had gone insane and was having a hallucination. Then he reflected that it could not possibly be Maude Preston in Baltimore and wearing such theatrical clothes on the street in broad daylight. Then he looked again and was certain it was Maude. Besides, hadn't she recognized him and put out her arm to steady herself against the arch of the doorway?
"Maude!" he exclaimed, simply, as he hurried up the marble steps.
"Bill Henry!" she cried, faintly.
She held out her hands and he took them.
"I've been sorry a long time, Bill Henry," she said.
"And I, too, sweetheart."
He would have kissed her in complete reconciliation, but Maude was conscious of the crowd on the street. "Don't, Bill Henry," she whispered as she laughed, flushed and tenderly pushed him away. He held on to both her hands.
Melvale, in the vestibule behind, had stood petrified as the incident developed. He was wise enough to understand that a reconciliation of lovers was in progress. Their words, and, above all, the ardency of their glances betrayed that.
From down Fulton avenue came the sound of a great bell. The parade had started. "Hurry," said Melvale, "you must take your position, Miss Preston."
"Take your position, Maude?" asked William Henry calmly, ignoring Melvale.
"Yes, Bill Henry," said his sweetheart, hurriedly; "I'm to be the Goddess of Truth on that float there."
William Henry turned and looked at the float. Then he stood off a step or two and studied Maude's make up. "I've never seen you look handsomer," he said, slowly, "but somehow you don't seem natural. I'd rather have met you again when you were not so full of paint and powder. I loved you always just as you were, without fancy fixings."
The bell was getting farther away.
"Come, Miss Preston," urged Melvale. "We will have to hurry."
For the first time William Henry recognized the presence of Melvale.
"She ain't going, Mister," declared William Henry, ungrammatically, but firmly.
"Not going!" screamed Melvale.
"Oh! Bill," stammered Maude, "they've gone to such a lot of expense and trouble! And they've been so kind to me!"
"I don't care," returned William Henry. "Down in Accomac we don't like this theatre business for girls we love, and I tell you I am not going to see you in that parade, showing yourself off to all Baltimore and thousands more, too. Who knows how many people are here from down home? If you want this notoriety and fuss, Maude," he went on sternly, "I can leave again."
A tear made its way out of Maude's eyes and threatened the rouge on her cheek.
"Come, Miss Preston," said Melvale.
"No, no; I can't go against what Bill wants," she said, feebly; "not again."
Melvale saw that he faced a serious business dilemma. Cupid had butt in at the wrong moment. It was necessary for Greenfield & Jacobs to be in that parade, and he had about six minutes to get the float in line. As he put it in his report to Mr. Greenfield, "There wasn't any use wasting time trying to persuade Miss Preston with that hulking big Eastern Shoreman menacing me. I had to let her do as William Henry wanted, without bandying words. At the same time I had to find another Goddess in a hurry. That's how I came to make use of Townsend's daughter."
"Was that thin girl Townsend's daughter?" asked Greenfield.
"There isn't any cause to be hard on the girl, Mr. Greenfield. She's not so thin, and she is good looking and with a sweet expression. You put any girl in clothes not made for her—just jump her into 'em without any time for those little tricks that women know so well how to do—and she's sure to feel a guy. And if she feels a guy, she's going to look it. Why, it took those two girls just six minutes to transfer that goddess rig from Miss Preston to Miss Townsend. She didn't have time to powder, and she didn't have time to dab on paint, and, besides, she had had no rehearsals. That's why she was so pale."
"And where did you leave Miss Preston and her mentor?"
"Sitting on the sofa in Townsend's parlor, wondering if they could get a license to be married today, it being a holiday."
"Mr. Melvale," directed Mr. Greenfield, "I want you to find them again, just as quick as you can, and if they are not already tied up I want you to help them do it in the most handsome style possible in a hurry. Reward Miss Townsend nicely, but get that gown from her and make a present of it to the girl it was made for. She might like to have it for a wedding gown. And as you go out, tell Mr. Stricker to send the bride the handsomest thing he can find in the glass and china department."
"Miss Preston'll appreciate all that. I think she's sorry she couldn't help you out. She has certainly missed a fine chance of being a goddess."
"You're wrong, Melvale; you're wrong! That girl doesn't need a Greek gown and a float and a parade to make her a goddess."
"William Henry don't think so, sir."
A Daughter of Cuba Libre
When they had been at school together at Notre Dame, Catherine Franklin had been most fond of the company of Manuela Moreto, and had listened with wonder and admiration to the fluent stories of the dark-eyed, olive-skinned girl from Cuba, tales of her father's desperate adventures in the trocha in the years before American intervention had rid the "Pearl of the Antilles" of Spanish rule. Spanish-American pupils, daughters of wealthy tobacco, sugar or coffee planters, were not infrequent at this and other convent schools around Baltimore, and Catherine knew enough of them not to yield so precipitately as had many girls to the romantic glamour cast around them by their coming from a strange land. But Manuela Moreto was so winning, and her narratives of bold deeds so piquant, that Catherine had taken her to her heart in a school-girl friendship, had gloried in knowing the daughter of a Cuban patriot and had liberally bedewed her handkerchief and made vows of undying love when their June commencement brought the days of parting.
But that had been five years ago, and in five years, as everyone knows, havoc can be played with a friendship of this sort. There had been a correspondence, industrious at first, then flagging as each found new friends and new interests, and finally ceasing altogether. There was no hint of any misunderstanding, and Catherine felt that if anything serious were to happen in Manuela's life, if she were to marry, for instance, a letter would come from Cuba. Nothing came as the months added up, and she was satisfied that Manuela was living out her rather monotonous life on Senor Felipe Moreto's tobacco plantation in Pinar del Rio province.
Last August came the new revolution in Cuba, and Catherine found all her interest in Manuela reawakened as she read in daily dispatches of the uprising in Pinar del Rio, of the raids of Pino Guerra, of the feeble resistance of the Government forces, of the burning of plantations and the seizure of horses and cattle. She wondered if her one-time chum could be in any danger.
She had fully made up her mind to write to Manuela, when there came a letter from the latter. Her mother handed it to her as Catherine sat down to the supper table in her home on Caroline street, opposite St. Joseph's Hospital, her cheeks flushed from a vigorous afternoon at tennis in Clifton Park. "It's from Manuela Moreto!" she exclaimed in surprise as she saw the handwriting on the envelope. Then, with increased excitement, she added "She must be in Washington," for she had by this time noted the postmark, the home stamp and the crest of the Raleigh Hotel.
The letter said:
Dearest Girlie—After all these months of silence, you will no doubt be surprised to hear from your Cuban friend, and from Washington, too. You have probably read of the new uprising against despotism in my oft-bled country. We have suffered much, but hope for the best. I cannot tell you now, but I want to come to Baltimore to see you and the dear old school, and then we can have one of those outpourings of confidence such as used to give us joy. Let me hear from you just as soon as you can.
Yours as ever, MANUELA MORETO.
"Write tonight and tell her to come and visit us," said Mrs. Franklin, heartily.
"I will if dad will promise to like Manuela," answered Catherine, wistfully eying her father. The Captain was master and part owner of a steamer in the Central American banana trade, and the family knew from repeated outbursts that he had no very high opinion of the Spanish-American.
"I'm not stuck on those Dagos as a rule," said the Captain, doubtfully, "but if all you say is correct this s'norita must be a fine girl, and you know I cotton all right to fine girls."
"Is she pretty?" asked Will Franklin of his sister. Will was at the age when young men think a great deal of girls.
"She's dark," explained his mother, "and she was thin when I used to see her with Catherine at Notre Dame. But if she has filled out as she should have, she ought to be a handsome girl."
Two days later the whole family was at Camden Station to welcome their foreign visitor. Will Franklin whistled as he saw the splendid-looking young woman whom his sister rushed to kiss as she came through the gate. "Gee!" he exclaimed, "she's a stunner!" For Senorita Manuela Teresa Dolores Inez Moreto de la Rivera—to give her all of her names—had not only "filled out" until she had a fine, well-rounded figure and a handsome dark, oval face, but had also engaging animation and the gift of wearing her clothes well. She looked as trim as can be imagined in her cream-colored linen suit, with a couple of touches of light blue at the wrists and neck.
They sat up late that night in the library of the Franklin home. After supper they had begun to ask questions of Manuela, and she had in response given them her own personal account of the new revolution. It was a narrative that awakened their sympathies for her and her family and all others who had suffered by the internal strife, and it made them strong partisans of the rebels. "They call it Cuba libre, free Cuba!" she exclaimed, with flashing eyes, "and yet the days of Spanish tyranny were no worse than the oppression of Palma's crowd. They have held the offices since Roosevelt gave them the government, and they lined their pockets with what you Americans call 'graft.' That made them determined to hold on at all costs, and so my father's party—the Liberals—was not only over-taxed and annoyed by extortions on every hand, but was cheated and robbed at the polls when it tried to get control by an honest election."
And then she told of a night in July when a half-drunken crowd of Government rurales, sent to arrest her father, had set fire to his tobacco houses when they found he had been forewarned and escaped them.
"I cannot repeat to you all the vile abuses they heaped upon me," she added, quietly. "One of them, a mulatto who had been discharged by my father, tried to kiss me. He is dead now." She shuddered with the recollection. The Baltimore family shuddered at her matter-of-fact recital.
"You mean—that he"——stammered placid, domestic Mrs. Franklin.
"I mean that two of my father's men singled him out and macheted him the first time they met in a skirmish."
On only one point was she reticent. Her father, she said, had come to this country on an errand for the rebels, but what that errand was she did not explain. "He is General Moreto now," she remarked; "and if ever Senor Zayas becomes President and our party comes into control at Havana, they have promised my father greater honors."
For a week Senorita Moreto continued to add to the powerful interest she had aroused in her hosts. By day they tried to entertain her—an afternoon at Notre Dame with the school Sisters, a trip through the rebuilt fire district, a ride to Bay Shore Park, an excursion to Port Deposit by steamboat and other summer opportunities. But of an evening, when the family was all collected in the library or on the front stoop, the Cuban dispatches in that day's News were carefully gone over and afforded texts upon which Manuela vivaciously and eloquently inveighed against the despotism of the "ins" and predicted the triumph of the "outs."
"Upon my soul, Miss Moreto," said the usually level-headed Captain Franklin, "your zeal stirs me so that I find myself wishing every moment I was fighting on your side."
"I'd love to have you aid us," murmured the Cuban girl. And she lifted her black eyelashes and cast her brilliant eyes at Catherine's father with such intentness that he was confused and looked away without asking her, as he had intended, just how it was possible for him to help the cause.
The next morning Will, who had become the devoted admirer of the pretty Cuban, carried two telegrams for General Moreto when he left home to go to the Hopkins-place wholesale house where he was a clerk. One was addressed to the Raleigh in Washington, the other to the Cuban junta headquarters in New York. Each read:
"You must come at once. I want you."
A reply came that afternoon. It was from Wilmington, and it said:
"Union Station, 7.33 P. M."
Manuela and Catherine met the General at the hour named. The man who alighted from the Congressional Limited and whom Manuela rushed to kiss was slender and undersized, with a swarthy, weather-beaten face, curly gray hair and a white moustache, twisted and re-twisted to the limit. He was in white flannels and was so altogether neat and immaculate that Catherine, perspiring under the sultriness of the August evening, thought him the coolest person she had ever seen. He greeted her with gallantry when introduced, and, though he spoke English with slowness, his pronunciation was good and his voice musical.
After he had made a similarly good impression at the Caroline-street dwelling it was Manuela who proposed that they should leave the two fathers "to smoke together and get acquainted."
As the girls went out of the library Moreto laid half a dozen cigars on the table. "From my own plantation," he said to Captain Franklin, with rather a pompous manner. "I hope you'll like them." The Captain found them the finest Havanas he had ever puffed.
"You go to Costa Rica for bananas, do you not?" the General asked in Spanish.
"Sometimes Port Limon; sometimes Bocas del Toro," answered Catherine's father, in the same tongue. "Bocas del Toro this trip."
"When do you sail?"
There was another silence. Franklin studied his cigar. Moreto studied the fruit captain. Presently he leaned forward on the arm of his Morris chair, in which, truth to tell, he looked rather insignificant.
"My daughter," he said, this time in English, "tells me you are with us in our revolution."
The Captain turned his clear blue eyes on the Cuban.
"Your daughter, Senor," he replied, "is a fine girl." He saw the shadow of disappointment pass over Moreto's countenance. "I'm not much on revolutions. I've seen too many of the bloody things in the tropics, and it pays me to keep out of 'em. But your girl Manuela has a powerful strong way of putting things, and I'm bound to say, if all she tells is not beyond the mark, my sympathies are with you and your crowd."
"Beyond the mark! Why, Dios, Senor Capitan!" cried the General, his eyes gleaming with excitement. "Why, she could not tell you a tenth of the truth." And he launched into a long narrative of the oppressions in Cuba. The words came like a torrent, mostly Spanish, occasionally English; and Franklin, sitting there fascinated, his cigar forgotten, could think of nothing save that the daughter's fluency was a gift of heredity.
When Moreto had ended and had sunk back half exhausted on the cushions the Captain, usually calm and self-contained, betrayed unwonted enthusiasm.
"I'm with you through and through," he exclaimed as he rose from his chair and sought the Cuban's hand. "You haven't had a square deal, and I'd like to see you get it."
Moreto's black eyes seemed to pierce him.
"Would you help us?" he asked. His tone was so tense and low that Franklin barely caught the words.
"Help you! How can I?"
Moreto paused again. He was not quite sure of his man. Finally he uncovered his aim:
"Take rifles to Cuba."
Captain Franklin stepped back. He did not exactly like the proposal. He had always kept out of such musses, and he knew it was violating Federal law to be a filibuster.
"I'm only part owner of the Cristobal," he stammered. "I would not like to involve the others."
"They need never know. I have a perfectly safe plan."
The Captain wavered. He would like to help Moreto and his daughter if it were not for the risk.
"What is your plan?"
"If we had a thousand rifles to arm Pino Guerra," said Moreto, "we could take San Luis. If we took San Luis we could control Pinar del Rio province. My mission to your country is to get those rifles to a point in that province. I have them boxed, ready for shipment as new machinery for a sugar plantation. They are at Wilmington. I thought I had placed them on a steamer in the Delaware last week, but your confounded Secret Service agents are too vigilant, and they learned from members of the crew that something unusual was up. If you will take those boxes on the Cristobal I can get them here on Friday and will arrange for an insurgent schooner to meet you at any point you name. Will you do it?"
"It's risky business," slowly said the Captain, lighting a fresh Vuelta cigar.
"It means liberty to us. Dios, Senor Captain, where would your country be if the French had not helped Washington and his ragged rebels?"
Franklin puffed away slowly. The Cuban watched him. At last the Captain made a decision.
"You may send those rifles along," he said.
The two men grasped hands again. They were in that position when Catherine put her head in the library door. "You're as quiet as two conspirators," she laughingly said. "Perhaps we are conspiring, Senorita," called General Moreto as the girl shut herself from view again.
"That is a charming daughter of yours, Captain," said the Cuban, in his best English.
"Ah! but your girl has the head and the wit. You find her a great help, don't you?"
Moreto's smile was more frank than his reply. "Women take a bigger share in revolutions than is generally believed." he said.
In another half hour the details of their filibuster were arranged. A point in the Caribbean, near the Isle of Pines, was selected for a rendezvous. There the Cuban schooner would take aboard the contraband cargo and Franklin go on his way after bananas.
"Do you wish your family to know?" asked Moreto as they were about to leave the library. "My daughter knows all my business."
"Catherine is all right," replied Captain Franklin, "and so is Will, but his mother would worry too much."
And so for the next three days there was a great secret in the Franklin home, shared by the young people with the two gray-haired men. They made trips to the steamer, at the foot of Centre-Market space, a slender, white-painted craft, looking more like a private yacht or a revenue cutter than a tropical trader; they heard the arrangements made for prompt transfer of the boxes across the city; they stopped with General Moreto at the telegraph offices on Calvert street when he sent off cipher wires to the junta and its agents, and sometimes cabled to Cuba. And on the Friday when the boxes were due they pestered the clerks at Bolton freight yards with 'phone inquiries. "It's great fun," confided Catherine to Manuela. "I feel just like a heroine doing a great deed. And we have to be so mysterious, too." Manuela smiled indulgently. She had got past the stage of thinking conspiracies fun.
No untoward incident occurred while the boxes of rifles labeled "Sugar machinery" were being loaded into the Cristobal's hold. There was no one on the dock or steamer who could be suspected of being a Government agent. General Moreto kept away, and the presence of Miss Catherine with the Cuban girl could never have aroused the doubts of the crew. The boxes were taken on without accident, and by Friday dusk the Cristobal had a thousand weapons aboard for the rebels of Pinar del Rio.
There were tears in the eyes of both girls as Captain Franklin waved them goodbye from his bridge when he was being pulled out into the Patapsco the next morning. A shade of extra seriousness had tinged his parting from them as they went ashore from the steamer, and Catherine, no longer thinking conspiracies "great fun," began to have doubts whether she might not have her father landed in jail somewhere.
"I do hope no harm will come to dad," she said. "I never felt so queer when he went away before."
"Let us pray that all goes well," replied Manuela.
And so for eleven whole long days, in their petitions to God, in church and night and morning in their room, they invoked His blessing upon the Cristobal's filibustering mission. It was an anxious time. The period of excitement over, the interval of suspense made their spirits droop. None of the usual amusements diverted them. Even Will's now ardent attentions, which had provoked some teasing in the bosom of his family, were slighted in the strain of the long wait until, boylike, and chafing under the apparent neglect, he had impetuously sought explanations from Manuela. What she told him is not a part of the conspiracy, but from that hour there were two secrets kept in the Franklin dwelling. And when he hurried home each afternoon with The News, that they might carefully examine it for anything bearing on his father's expedition, there was a double motive in the eagerness with which Manuela met him at the door.
It was Wednesday week before the first news came. General Moreto, who had left them on the day after Captain Franklin had passed Cape Henry outward bound, telegraphed as follows:
Glorious news; San Luis taken. We must have done it.
The girls were excitedly reading the account in The News of the victory by Pino Guerra when this cable dispatch came to them from Catherine's father:
Bocas del Toro. Costa Rica, Aug. 22.
Machinery transferred; no trouble.
Both girls cried from happiness at the relief.
"Oh! Catherine," said Manuela as she sobbed on the latter's neck, "I'm so glad I knew you at Notre Dame!"
"And I'm glad we struck a blow for Cuba libre," rejoined Catherine.
"It may mean annexation," said Will, as he deftly slipped his arm around Manuela's waist.
The Cuban girl grew rosy red.
Catherine was quick to understand: Cuba might be freed, but one individual who had labored for it was going to be annexed.
"I'm so happy!" she cried. And she kissed both warmly and left them to tell her mother of the latest beneficent example of American assimilation.
A Two-Party Line
(Tuesday, October 23, 1906.)
HE—Hello! Is this Central? Well, give——
SHE—No, it is not Central, and I wish you'd please get off the line.
HE—I beg your pardon, I thought you were the girl at Central.
SHE—No, I am not. I wish you wouldn't break in. The line's busy. You were saying, Evelyn——
HE—I'm sorry to bother you. I don't seem to be able to get Central.
SHE—I do wish you would leave us alone! You were describing that dress you wore at the Marlborough dance, Evelyn.
EVELYN—How is he on this wire?
SHE—I don't know. I suppose he has the other 'phone on this line.
HE—I beg your pardon again. Do I understand you to say this is a two-party line?
SHE—What number are you?
HE—Wait till I read it. Why this is Madison 7-9-3-1-y.
SHE—And I'm Madison 7-9-3-1-m. So you see, we're on the same wire. Please get off.
HE—I beg both of your pardons, ladies. But I'm trying to get a doctor for my mother.
EVELYN—I'll call you up later, Genevieve. I can tell you all about Atlantic City then.
SHE—He had no business coming in like that, Evelyn. But I suppose we'll have to let him have it. Goodbye.
HE—I'm very grateful to both of you, I'm sure.
SHE—Well, after all, we were only gossiping, and I'm sorry we did not understand sooner.
HE—Thank you again. (After a pause.) There goes a click. I guess I can call Central now. By Jove! that girl had spirit, and at the same time showed generosity in saying she was sorry. I wonder who she is. Genevieve the other one called her. Genevieve who?
(Five Minutes Later.)
SHE—Hello, Central. Please give me "Information." Is that "Information"? I want to know who has 'phone Madison 7-9-3-1-y. My number? I'm on the same line. No, no trouble. Just want to know. Who'd you say? Mrs. Mary Vincent, 286 West Lanvale street. Thank you so much.
(Ten Minutes Later.)
HE—Hello, Central, I want to know who has 'phone Madison 7-9-3-1-m. What's that? You'll give me "Information"? All right. Hello, "Information," I want to find out who leases 'phone Madison 7-9-3-1-m. No, not "y." I said "m." Somebody else wanted "y"? Well, that's my number. I want "m." Mr. John D. Platt, 1346 Linden avenue? What's that? Oh, Pratt. Thank you.
(Wednesday, October 24.)
SHE—Oh! Evelyn, I've got something great to tell you. You remember that man who "butt in" last night on our chat? Well, I've found out all about him. His name is Carroll Vincent, and he's just out of Princeton and is going to study law at the University of Maryland. How did I find out? Oh! I can't tell you all that over the 'phone. I just used my wits. You know Genevieve isn't going to get left. I'd die if he——
HE—Is this Cent——
SHE—Goodness gracious! there he is on the line again!
HE—I beg your pardon. I'll retire gracefully.
SHE—Don't apologize. You could not help it.
HE—I don't like to be a "butter-in," don't you know?
SHE—I hope you got the doctor all right last night. I'd be so sorry if my foolish delay caused you any trouble.
HE—Thank you, I got him all right.
EVELYN (at the other end)—I'll call you some other time, Genevieve.
HE—No; let me get off this time.
SHE (after a pause)—I wonder if he has really gone.
EVELYN—How did you find out who he was? Go on, tell me.
SHE—I'm afraid he may be listening.
EVELYN—Do you think he'd do that deliberately?
SHE—Certainly, I don't. I think he must be just fine. Jack Smallwood says he's a stunning-looking fellow. I'm just crazy to see him.
EVELYN—Did you ask Jack Smallwood about him?
SHE—Why, of course, you goose! They live in the same block.
EVELYN—You're getting on famously, Genevieve.
SHE—That's another slam, Evelyn. You're just jealous, that's what the matter with you. Next time I call you up you'll know it.
EVELYN—I'm sorry, Genevieve. I was only teasing you.
SHE—Well, I can't stand for it. I'll forgive you, though. Say, are you going to see "Madam Butterfly"? You don't know? Well, I'm going tomorrow night with Jack. He asked me today when I called him up about the other. He has got seats in the second row. I'm going to put on all my best regalia. No, not the blue. A pink chiffon. You've never seen it. It's a beauty. Well, goodbye. See you Friday.
(Ten Minutes Later.)
HE—Please give me Madison 6-4-8-6-y. Is this Mr. Smallwood's home? Is Mr. Jack Smallwood there? No? Well, when do you expect him? You don't know? Thank you. Curse the luck! Just when I thought it looked easy.
(9 A. M. Friday, October 26.)
HE—St. Paul 9-8-6-3. Hello! is Mr. Jack Smallwood in the office? Yes, if you please. Jack, this is Carroll Vincent—no, no, Vincent. Say, old man, saw you at Ford's last night. Fine-looking girl with you—stunningly dressed—beautiful features—who is she?
JACK—Say, Carroll, what the devil is all this between you two who have never met? I'm over seven, you know, and I've shed my sweet innocence.
HE—I don't know what you mean, old man.
JACK—Ah yes, you do! And if you don't come up to the Captain's office and settle I'll blast your reputation with her forever. There's some mystery in it all. First, Genevieve Pratt asks me about you. Then when I saw you last night she twisted her neck so, to look at you, that I thought I'd have to summon medical help. Now you call me up to talk about her. What's the game? Put me wise.
HE—Fact is, old man, Miss Pratt and I are on the same line.
JACK—Same line? What kind of line?
HE—Same 'phone. Two-party line. Butt in on her the other night. Butt out. Butt in again next night. Apologized eighteen times. Must meet her, especially since she's such a smasher.
JACK—All right, Carroll boy. I'll fix it for you, now I understand.
HE—Make it soon, for Heaven's sake.
(Friday, November 2.)
HE—Give me Madison 7-9-3-1-m, please. No, no; I want the other party on this line. Don't buzz that bell so loud in my ears. Hello! Is that Mr. Pratt's? Oh! is this you, Miss Pratt? You're looking well this evening. This is Carroll Vincent.
SHE—Feeling tiptop, thank you. Did you get wet in the rain last night?
HE—No; it stopped pouring almost as soon as we left your house.
SHE—I'm glad of that. I want to thank you for the chocolates you sent this evening. You said you were going to send a book.
HE—I know I did. I tramped the town over to get that novel, but every shop was out of it. Then I did not like you to think I had forgotten you so soon, and I sent the bonbons.
SHE—It certainly was sweet of you. They're nearly all gone already.
HE—Mercy, mercy—don't make yourself sick! I wouldn't have you that way.
SHE—You wouldn't have me any way, would you?
HE—Give me the chance. But I'm afraid you're a "jollier," Miss Pratt.
SHE—You're the first to tell me.
HE—Did you say "first" or "fiftieth"? There was a noise on the wire just then.
SHE—I know you're a flirt.
HE—Never! I've got my fingers crossed.
SHE—Those eyes of yours were not made for nothing.
HE—Neither were yours. Jack said so last night. By the by, he's a capital fellow. I'll never get over being grateful to him for bringing us together.
SHE—I think he's just fine.
HE—You're speaking very zealously. Do you know I'm almost jealous of him when I hear you talk like that.
SHE—I'm a loyal champion for my friends, you'll find. I have but few, and those I keep.
HE—Do you ever add to the list?
SHE—That's for you to discover.
HE—Count me in, please.
SHE—Well—I'm willing to try to do so.
HE—Thanks, awfully. By the way, they've pledged me their word that a copy of that novel will be here tomorrow. May I bring it around Sunday evening?
SHE—Why, I could be reading the book all day Sunday.
HE—Then I'll make it tomorrow night. Will that suit?
SHE—I have no engagement, and will be glad to have you.
HE—Good-bye until then.
(Thursday, December 6.)
HE—Madison 7-9-3-1-m, please. Yes. Is that Mr. Pratt's? Is Miss Genevieve there?
SHE—No, she is not in. Who shall I tell her called?
HE—You didn't disguise your voice, Miss Genevieve? I knew you right away.
SHE—I thought I might learn something, Mr. Vincent.
HE—I might have told my real name.
SHE—That would have been disastrous.
HE—It would, if I had started confessing things.
SHE—What's the matter? Have you anything on your conscience?
HE—Not my conscience, but my heart.
SHE—There you go again. You promised me last night at the Academy you wouldn't jolly any more.
HE—I haven't. I'm desperately in earnest. I swear it.
SHE—I wish I could believe you.
HE—Why don't you?
SHE—It might disturb my peace of mind.
HE—Would that be so bad?
HE—I can see those mocking eyes of yours now.
SHE—I don't like that, Mr. Vincent. That's rude.
HE—I'll beg your pardon when next I can look at you. That reminds me. Have you anything on for tomorrow night?
HE—I'd like to take you to Albaugh's. You've seen a musical comedy at the Academy, and a serious drama at Ford's, and it might be well to take a dash into "vodevil" before the week is over.
SHE—Do you know you're too good to me. I can never repay you.
HE—Yes, you can. By agreeing to go every time I ask.
SHE—Haven't I done it?
HE—Yes, you've never failed me. It's settled, then, for "vodevil?"
SHE—Come early and avoid the rush.
HE—And can you stay late? Because—well, I thought you might like a bite to eat at the Stafford after the show.
SHE—Another of your surprises. Do you treat all of the girls so finely?
HE—No; only you.
(Monday, January 21, 1907.)
SHE—Please ring the other party on this line. Is that Madison 7-9-3-1-y? Mrs. Vincent, isn't it? This is Genevieve Pratt, Mrs. Vincent. I hope you're feeling better than when I saw you? So glad to hear it. Isn't this fine, crisp weather? Do I want to speak to your son? If I may. Is that you, Carroll?
HE—Why, little girl!
SHE—Surprised to hear from me so soon? Well, after I came in the house I found an invitation to a private dance at the Belvedere two weeks from tonight. Lida and her husband are to give it. I've heard it's to be a swell affair—big ballroom decorated, orchestra and seated supper. I want you to go with me. Will you?
HE—Now, you know very well I will, little girl.
SHE—Oh, I'm so glad! I'll see everybody I know; I'll have you with me, and—you know how to dance so well.
HE—You mean we know how to dance together. Listen, Genevieve: If I go, are you going to give me every dance?
SHE—Certainly not. People would talk too much. If you're good, you may have every other one.
HE—And sit out the rest with you?
SHE—Perhaps. All right, mother.
HE—What did you say?
SHE—Did you hear? That was mother insisting that I come to dinner.
HE—I'll let you go, then. You promised me every one, don't forget.
SHE—No, I didn't.
HE—Do you remember what I told you coming uptown this afternoon?
SHE—You told me a lot of things.
HE—I told you you were the most tormenting little vixen on earth.
SHE—You didn't mean it, did you? All right, mother. Listen, Carroll, I really must go. Tell me you didn't mean it.
HE—I did mean it. You are the most tormenting, also the most lovable. I wouldn't have you otherwise.
(Tuesday, February 5.)
SHE—Madison 7-9-3-1-y, please. Is Mr. Carroll Vincent up? At breakfast? Please tell him Miss Pratt wishes to speak to him. Oh, Carroll, I haven't slept a wink since you left me at the door! I'm so happy! I just lay awake thinking of last night, and then I thought I'd get up and 'phone you before you went downtown. I'm so happy!
HE—I'm glad you are, sweetheart. I'll try all my life to keep you so. I wish I could get closer to you than over this 'phone.
SHE—What would you do?
HE—I'd kiss you and whisper how I love you.
SHE—Don't, Carroll, don't! The telephone girl will hear you.
HE—What do I care? I feel like going around and shouting to all the world, "She loves me, she loves me, she loves me!" just to tell them how happy I am.
SHE—Oh, Carroll, don't do that!
HE—You don't suppose I'd do it, little darling, do you? No, this is our precious little secret. Just we two.
SHE—I don't deserve all this joy, Carroll. I don't feel I'm good enough for you—indeed, I don't.
HE—I thought you promised me in the carriage that you would never talk like that again.
SHE—I can't help it, Carroll. I feel so unworthy of you. I never felt like that before in my life. But when—when you put your arm around me—I just thought—well, I just thought how grand and noble you are and how trifling and insignificant I am.
HE—Don't, don't say that, little sweetheart.
SHE—I just can't help it. I'm so happy I want to cry.
HE—I understand, dear girl.
SHE—And when you asked me in the alcove if I—whether I would give myself to you for keeps—and you spoke so beautifully, Carroll!—indeed, I had trouble to keep back the tears. Love is a wonderful thing, isn't it?
HE—It is, dearest.
SHE—You are coming early tonight, aren't you?
HE—I will fly to you as soon as I can. I tell you what, can't you meet me downtown and have lunch with me?
SHE—Oh! may I? You know I'd just love to!
HE—Well, meet me at half-past 12. Usual corner, you know—Fidelity Building. Goodbye until then.
(Wednesday, April 10.)
SHE—Madison 7-9-3-1-y, please. Is that you, Carroll?
HE—Yes, it is I.
SHE—I think it perfectly hateful of you to send me that mean note, Carroll Vincent.
HE—Now, look here, girlie, don't you think you're to blame?
SHE—I? Why, the idea!
HE—Yes, you. I don't believe you care for me at all.
SHE—Why, Carroll Vincent, how can you say that?
HE—Now, say, Genevieve, don't take that tone with me. You know you had no business flirting with Jack Smallwood as you did last night at Lehmann's.
SHE—Flirting? Why, Mr. Vincent, how dare you?
HE—Yes, flirting. I said it. If you cared anything for me, you wouldn't treat me so contemptibly as you have been lately.
SHE—Contemptibly? What have I been doing, I'd like to know?
HE—I think the way you carried on with Jack was perfectly outrageous. As for him, when——
SHE—Carroll Vincent, you ought to be grateful to him, if you love me.
HE—If I love you?
SHE—Yes, if you love me. You know very well he introduced us. And Jack isn't anything to me.
HE—And you don't care for him?
SHE—Certainly I like him. He's one of my oldest friends.
HE—Oh, those friends!
SHE—You're letting your jealousy run away with you.
HE—Maybe I am, but I'm glad I found him out before it was too late.
SHE—Indeed! And do you think it is too late? (Pause) What did you say?
HE—I didn't say anything. I was thinking. Listen, Genevieve, what's the use of our going on like this? I see now I was pig-headed to send that note. It was cruel to you. I'll never forgive myself.
SHE—I'm glad you're coming to your senses.
HE—I don't blame you for being angry, Genevieve, dear.
SHE—Oh! Carroll, how could you be so unjust?
HE—I'm awfully remorseful. Can't I come tonight and tell you more?
SHE—Why, certainly, you old goose. I'll forgive you.
HE—I'm so glad, Genevieve. But, tell me, dearest girl, you don't care for Jack Smallwood.
SHE—No, you silly boy. He isn't worth your little finger.
HE—Thank you, sweetheart. Goodbye.
(Wednesday, June 4.)
SHE—Madison 7-9-3-1-y, please. Is that you, dearest? Oh! Carroll, I'm all so topsy-turvy I don't know what I'm doing. But I just couldn't go to bed without talking to you again.
HE—You know I'm glad.
SHE—And I——Oh! I'm so full of joy I can't wait for tomorrow to come. Doesn't it seem like a dream to think of our being married? It's all so strange, and yet I'm so happy! You don't think me unwomanly for telling you so, do you, dearest? I'm so frightened, and yet my heart is beating—trip—trip—for you. Can't you hear it?
HE—Keep still a moment. Yes, I can. One, two, three——
SHE—Oh, you tease! Such nonsense!
HE—It must be my own then, beating for you.
SHE—You're not nervous, are you?
HE—Of course I am. Am I not going to get the best, sweetest, prettiest, dearest, most lovable girl in the world for a wife? Tomorrow at high noon seems a long way off, doesn't it?
SHE—Oh! Carroll, we won't need a 'phone then, will we?
HE—It has been a dear old two-party line, though, hasn't it?
SHE—It knows an awful lot of our secrets. I wonder how much the exchange girl has heard?
HE—Oh! I guess she got tired of us long ago.
SHE—Then she won't be listening if I send you a kiss over the wire. Um—m—m—m—did you get it?
HE—I'll give it back with interest tomorrow.
SHE—Everything's tomorrow, isn't it?
HE—There's the clock striking midnight. It's today now, and our wedding day.
HE—Don't come late, little bride. I'll be "waiting at the church."
Timon Up To Date
The Doctor and his wife waited until their half dozen guests had finished the tasty supper Mrs. Harford had provided before they sprung upon them the purpose which had moved them to invite them. The entire party was made up of West Arlingtonites, neighbors from across the way, from down the block and from up near Carter Station. They had chatted gaily over neighborhood gossip in the dining-room, intermingled with nonsense of the sort that passes between people who have been a great deal in the same set. And now that they were seated on the front porch, two in a hammock and the others in comfortable rockers, the badinage continued as Dr. Harford passed cigars to the men and pretended to give them to the ladies, too.
"They don't seem to have taken offense at our not asking them," whispered Mrs. Caswell to plump little Mrs. Fremont.
"No, not a bit," responded Mrs. Fremont, in the same low tone. "All the same, I feel like a hypocrite for coming."
"Nonsense," said Mrs. Caswell; "you're too soft."
She might have added more, but Dr. Harford, who had been lounging against a post since he had handed around the cigars, was evidently trying to attract the attention of the entire group.
"I am reminded tonight," he began, slowly, "by this little affair of a larger party here last summer, when we entertained the card club."
In the stillness that ensued the song of the crickets in the fields beyond the town sounded most strangely plain.
"Mrs. Harford and I," pursued the Doctor, his voice growing more incisive, his manner more stern, "both enjoyed ourselves in that club, and we are most curious to know why we were not included this year."
The pair in the hammock stopped swinging so suddenly that their feet scraped the floor vigorously. Mrs. Fremont cleared her throat with evident nervousness. The others were still dumb—that is, all except Mr. Caswell.
"Why, old man," he burst out, "I was told you did not want to"——
"Joseph!" interrupted Mrs. Caswell, turning herself so that her husband could see her more plainly in the white light from the arc lamp at the corner. There was the menace of a curtain lecture in her face.
"We did want to join, Caswell," exclaimed Dr. Harford, quickly. "The plain fact is that we were not asked."
"There must be some mistake," said Mr. Caswell. "I'm sure I, for one, have been sorry"——
"Joseph!" again exclaimed Mrs. Caswell. This time she was unmistakably severe. Caswell subsided.
Dr. Harford addressed himself directly to Mrs. Caswell. "I intend to get to the bottom of this affair tonight," he said. "I have asked questions of several of you, and so has Effie, and the excuses given have been so various that they would be funny if I did not feel they are doing injury to me professionally, as well as socially. My purpose in having you all together here"——
A Garrison-avenue car crowded with Electric Park visitors rumbled noisily by and drowned some of the words of his sentence.
"I want it sifted thoroughly now."
Little Mrs. Fremont half rose from her chair, as she said weakly to her husband: "I don't feel well. I think I'd better be going."
"Pardon me, Mrs. Fremont," said Dr. Harford, "I beg of you that you will remain."
"Stick it out, Emily," remarked Mr. Fremont. "Harford has got us here to learn the truth." Nothing ever seemed to worry Fremont.
"Now, Mrs. Caswell," continued Dr. Harford, still addressing that lady directly and drawing nearer to her by a foot or two, "I will begin with you. Last week when you were in my office I asked you to tell me just what stories were being circulated about me in West Arlington, and after some demur you told me. Do you mind repeating them?"
Mrs. Caswell was scornful. "I have nothing to say," she exclaimed. "I think it better to hush the whole affair."
"Then, my dear madam, I am forced to repeat to my guests what you told me. You said, you will recollect, that one resident had accused me of having cheated at cards, and that another party had called me a 'tooth butcher,' and had declared I could not fix the teeth of her little dog. Was not that it?"
It was Mrs. Caswell's turn to rise. "This is a contemptible outrage," she cried. "I demand that it stop."
"No more contemptible than the injury you have done us," spiritedly said Mrs. Harford, speaking for the first time.
"Have I not quoted you right?" asked Dr. Harford of Mrs. Caswell.
"I shall say nothing," returned she. "You have cooked up a vile plot to trap us here."
"Then, my dear Mrs. Caswell, if you will affirm nothing, I have a way to make you speak." He stepped inside his hallway for an instant, while the others, all except his wife, watched him with great curiosity and some alarm. When he reappeared he was carrying a table on which was some large, heavy article hidden under a tablecloth. "There's a little surprise coming to you and the rest," he resumed. "You did not know, madame, that when I was pressing you with questions as you sat in my dental chair a phonograph was making a record of your answers." He whipped off the cover of the talking machine and busied himself with preparing it for action.
Consternation was writ large upon the countenances of those who could be seen in the stray beams of light that countered through the porch. But Mrs. Caswell's was the only voice heard. Again she protested against having been trapped.
"Silence," said Dr. Harford, and he started the machine to whirring. Everybody bent forward so as to miss nothing. But there was no need, for the familiar tones of Mrs. Caswell had been well recorded by the Edison invention and floated out in full and plain confirmation of the charges Dr. Harford had so carefully repeated.
Fremont's "Thunderation!" was the only audible one of several exclamations that were murmured as the quoted phrases died away. Dr. Harford raised a warning finger.
"Wait," he said; "there's more."
And as the machine kept revolving they heard his own voice say:
"And who was it, Mrs. Caswell, who told you that I had cheated at cards?"
There came a sharp interruption.
"Stop!" cried Mrs. Caswell, as in sheer desperation she bounced from her chair and made a vicious dive toward the tell-tale recording angel, only to be blocked by the watchful Dr. Harford. "Let go of me," she cried, as she shook off his restraining hand in furious anger. "I insist that you stop this outrage. Joseph, how can you stand idly by and see me so grossly insulted?"
There was no answer to the summons from Caswell. His wife evidently expected none, for she continued right along in wrathful denunciations of Harford, threatening law suits and other means of dire vengeance. "I declare she frightens me," whispered timid Mrs. Fremont, as she drew her chair closer to that of her husband.
The phonograph was pursuing the even tenor of its paraffine way. Those who could hearken to it above the irate tones of Mrs. Caswell heard her refuse several times to name her informant; heard the Doctor's earnest pleading for no concealment, and finally heard her say:
"Well, if you really must know, Doctor, who it was who said you cheated at cards, it was Mrs. Fremont."
Dr. Harford quickly shut off the record and turned to face the others. Mrs. Fremont had risen from her chair and leveled her finger at Mrs. Caswell. She was timid no longer.
"How dared you tell such a lie about me, Irene Caswell?" she gasped.
"You know you said it, Mary Fremont."
"I did not. She is telling what is not true, Dr. Harford. She came to me when we were re-forming the club and said she would not join this year if you were to be a member. She uttered a lot of things against you, and finally she said she was sure you would not hesitate to cheat at cards, and she only wished she could catch you once. And then I reminded her—perhaps I was wrong to do it—of the time when I was your partner and you sprouted an extra point and presently we got into a dispute about the score."
"You mean the night at Mrs. Parkin's?"
"Yes; don't you remember you were the first one to call attention to it and wanted to take off the point, but after some time it was shown that we had the right number? That's honestly all I said to her about you and the cards."
"I believe you, Mrs. Fremont."
From the chair into which Mrs. Caswell had subsided there came a snort. "Go ahead," she sneered. "Play out your little comedy. You're all in it together. Nobody will believe me."
"We take you at your word, Mrs. Caswell," rejoined Dr. Harford. "There is more of the truth to be got at."
Again the phonograph was in motion, and the listeners heard these questions and answers:
"And who was it, Mrs. Caswell, who told you I was a 'tooth butcher' and could not fix the teeth of her little dog?"
"Well, to tell you the truth, Doctor, it was Mrs. Parkin who said her husband had called you a 'tooth butcher,' and it was Mrs. Somerset who said you could not fix the teeth of her little dog."
Both the Parkins rose from their place in the hammock. The husband was so angry that he moved toward Mrs. Caswell with upraised hand until he recollected himself and halted with a muttered exclamation. The wife, a tall, graceful blonde, who had made herself well liked since they had moved out to West Arlington, chose to ignore the woman who had involved her, and so addressed herself directly to the host.
"My husband and I," she began, coolly and cuttingly, "are very much indebted to you, Dr. Harford, for so cleverly unmasking the traitor in our midst. This woman has called it a miserable trap, and I want to say that I feel that only by such a contrived plot has it been possible to uncover the truth and lay the trouble at the door of the right scandal-monger.
"Of course, it is unnecessary to say to you," and she pulled herself up to her full queenly height and spoke with most dignified impressiveness, "that my husband did not call you a 'tooth butcher' and that I did not tell her he had said so. What he did say was merely to repeat jokingly that old jest about a dentist being a 'tooth carpenter.' I forget the way he put it, but it sounded funny to me at the time, and when I was out with Mrs. Caswell in her auto that very afternoon I told her. She laughed, but Mrs. Somerset, who was with us, thought the expression horrid, and said if she were to think of you as a 'tooth carpenter' and not as a good, careful dentist, she would not let you attend her dog. Thus, you see, Doctor, how two harmless little expressions have been perverted into nasty gossip against you.
"I cannot tell you of the things that she alleged against you that afternoon or at other times. I did not give heed to them, and I have too much respect for you to repeat them here just now. I am only sorry that we yielded to Mrs. Caswell's insistent urging that we exclude you from the card club this summer. I am sure it was only done because we felt there had been ill feeling between you and her and because she had been the one to start the club and lead it each year."
"And I want to add, Harford," said Parkin, heartily, "that you will either be in the club henceforth or there will be no club. Am I not right?" he queried, turning to the Fremonts.
The prompt assent from both must have settled Mrs. Caswell's last hope of appeal from a unanimous verdict. She rose and made a sign to her husband. Her blazing anger had given way to a chilly hauteur that showed that, although beaten, she had not hauled down the flag. "I hope your little farce has quite ended," she remarked to Dr. Harford, with exaggerated dignity.
"Quite," he replied, with sweet acquiescence.
"Then I suppose I will be allowed to go?"
"As soon as convenient."
"I leave you," she pursued, "in the hands of your friends. Oh! if you only knew the things they have said about you! And now they honey you!"
"I am willing to trust them," he said, equably.
For the life of her, Mrs. Caswell could think of no other biting thing to say, so she took her departure.
"Come, Joseph," she ordered, as she passed down the steps to the hedge-bordered walk.
Caswell stopped for an instant to hold out his hand to the dentist.
"Sorry, immensely sorry, old chap. Awful mess she's made. If there's any way I can"——
"Joseph!" reiterated Mrs. Caswell from the gateway.
And Joseph obeyed.
"Have a fresh cigar, Parkin. And you, Fremont," said Dr. Harford, as the six left behind settled back in their chairs and hammock for a good half-hour review of Mrs. Caswell and her mischief-making.
"By George! this was an original plan of yours, Harford," exclaimed Fremont.
"Indeed it was," murmured little Mrs. Fremont.
"It was not my idea at all. I got it from Shakespeare. Do you not recall a scene in 'Timon of Athens' where Timon invites his false friends to a banquet to show them up?"
"Well, you worked it neatly, anyhow," said Parkin, who had never read Shakespeare in his life.
"I had one great advantage over 'old Bill,'" continued Dr. Harford.
"In what way?" asked Mrs. Parkin, smiling at him.
"I had the phonograph."
The Night That Patti Sang
When I moved there 10 years ago that Franklin-street block just west of Charles was even then known as "Doctors' Row," though there was by no means the number of professional men the street now has. From Dr. Osler's at the Charles-street corner of the south side—in the old Colonial mansion where now the Rochambeau apartments stand—to Dr. Alan P. Smith's on the north side next to the old Maryland Club building at Cathedral street, there were in all five doctors. And my own shingle—newly painted in gilt letters as befitted a specialist freshly returned from the Vienna hospitals—made the sixth sign of the kind.
On the south side not far from Dr. Osler's, the front of one of those fine old houses erected in the thirties, and the homes of the elite of Baltimore for many years before Mount Vernon place was built up, bore the announcement of: JAMES COURSEY DUNTON, M. D.
The sign was of a very old pattern, and was so rain-washed that the name could scarcely be deciphered. This, too, was the case with a frosted pane in the front window, on which—perhaps 40 years ago—Dr. Dunton had had his name painted in black letters. The house, too, showed the same lack of paint and care.
In my student days at the Johns Hopkins Medical School I had never heard the name of Dr. Dunton, and this led me to make inquiries of a professional neighbor. I learned that Dunton was in effect an elderly hermit, that for years he had abandoned his practice and had declined to respond to calls. His self-enforced isolation had grown to such a degree that he was rarely seen on the street and made all his household purchases through notes stuck in his vestibule door for "order boys". "I have seen Dunton only once in eight years," said my informant. "They say, too, he used to be an excellent practitioner, an Edinburgh graduate, with a patronage of the best classes—a courtly gentleman who was well liked by his patients."
"What was the cause for the change?" I asked.
"A love tragedy of some kind, they told me, though I never got the details."
I developed a lively curiosity in the elderly recluse, and nearly every time I moved in or out of my own residence, or passed my front windows, I glanced at Dr. Dunton's house in hopes of seeing him. My first glimpse was, perhaps, a month after I had been told about him. The sun had gone down, save where I could see the gilded tops of the Cathedral with a red glint upon them. In the half-light Dr. Dunton came to his second-story window—I knew it must be he—a tall, slender figure, somewhat bent, garbed in unrelieved black, save for the open white collar of ante-bellum style. Scant white hair extended from his temples back over his ears and framed a face that seemed, in the dusk, refined and kindly, though seared with many wrinkles. I watched the silent figure at the window unnoticed by him, for he gazed with intentness at the vine-adorned front of the old Unitarian Church at the corner, until the real darkness came upon us both.
It was, I think, about a week later when I again encountered Dr. Dunton. The Edmondson-avenue trolley line had just been completed up Charles street, and for the first time this old residential section resounded with the clangor that betokened rapid transit. About 9 one night I observed Dr. Dunton stepping down from the pavement of the Athenaeum Club to cross the street. A trolley car was coming rapidly, but the old gentleman, his head bent in thought and unused as he was to modern inventions and modern bursts of speed, paid no attention and moved in front of it. The motorman threw off his current, tried to reverse, and rang his gong furiously, but saw that he could not stop in time to avoid hitting the Doctor. I had bounded into the street, and when the car was only half a dozen feet off I was fortunately able to draw the old chap back and hold him clear of the Juggernaut that had so nearly wrought his destruction.
His first impulse, as he turned toward me, was one of anger that I had presumed to intrude so violently upon his thoughts. Then he saw what a narrow escape he had had, and anger gave place to a courtly smile and a slight twinkle in his sunken eyes.
"We young fellows are not so careful as we ought to be," he said. "I owe you my life."
I hastened to assure him that my act was one of simple kindness, but he renewed his expressions of thanks in even more polished phrases. The car had gone on and we had crossed to the church corner.
"I am Dr. Dunton," he said. "My house is yonder and, though I dwell alone, and with little ceremony, I will be pleased to have you partake of such hospitality as I can offer."
I accepted with alacrity. "I am Dr. Seaman," I responded. "I have just moved into the block." And I indicated my own home.
We crossed Franklin street to Dr. Dunton's house. He opened the heavy door with a latch-key, but before I could enter it was necessary for him to go ahead and light up. He was profuse in his apologies for the disorder of everything as he led me into the room behind the parlor, but beyond a thick coating of dust the dark mahogany furniture showed no signs of the absence of servants.
"I suppose you younger men might call this your 'den,'" he said as he applied a match to the centre chandelier, "but I prefer to name it my study." There were rows upon rows of medical works of a past generation on the shelves around the room, a familiar bust of Esculapius, a skull or two, some assorted bones and other signs of my host's former profession. A worn leather arm-chair sat behind the table under the chandelier, another arm-chair on the right. Dr. Dunton drew the latter forward for me and dropped into the other one. As the light fell full upon him I noted that he was not only thin, but gaunt, and that his face, which interested me strangely, was marked by hollow places that gave him an almost uncanny appearance, despite its refinement and intellectuality. His eyes had a haunting expression, as if at times he suffered much physical pain, and there was a sadness in them that quickened my sympathies.