Friday, October 12, 2007



A dry snow had fallen steadily
throughout the still night, so that
when a cold, upper wind cleared the
sky gloriously in the morning the
incongruous Indiana town shone in a
white harmony--roof, ledge, and earth as evenly
covered as by moonlight. There was no thaw;
only where the line of factories followed the big
bend of the frozen river, their distant chimneys like
exclamation points on a blank page, was there a
first threat against the supreme whiteness. The
wind passed quickly and on high; the shouting of
the school-children had ceased at nine o'clock with
pitiful suddenness; no sleigh-bells laughed out on
the air; and the muffling of the thoroughfares
wrought an unaccustomed peace like that of Sunday.
This was the phenomenon which afforded the
opening of the morning debate of the sages in the
wide windows of the "National House."
Only such unfortunates as have so far failed
to visit Canaan do not know that the "National
House" is on the Main Street side of the Courthouse
Square, and has the advantage of being
within two minutes' walk of the railroad station,
which is in plain sight of the windows--an
inestimable benefit to the conversation of the aged
men who occupied these windows on this white
morning, even as they were wont in summer to hold
against all comers the cane-seated chairs on the
pavement outside. Thence, as trains came and
went, they commanded the city gates, and, seeking
motives and adding to the stock of history, narrowly
observed and examined into all who entered or
departed. Their habit was not singular. He who
would foolishly tax the sages of Canaan with a
bucolic light-mindedness must first walk in Piccadilly
in early June, stroll down the Corso in Rome
before Ash Wednesday, or regard those windows of
Fifth Avenue whose curtains are withdrawn of a
winter Sunday; for in each of these great streets,
wherever the windows, not of trade, are widest, his
eyes must behold wise men, like to those of Canaan,
executing always their same purpose.
The difference is in favor of Canaan; the "National
House" was the club, but the perusal of
traveller or passer by was here only the spume
blown before a stately ship of thought; and you
might hear the sages comparing the Koran with the
speeches of Robert J. Ingersoll.
In the days of board sidewalks, "mail-time" had
meant a precise moment for Canaan, and even now,
many years after the first postman, it remained
somewhat definite to the aged men; for, out of
deference to a pleasant, olden custom, and perhaps
partly for an excuse to "get down to the hotel"
(which was not altogether in favor with the elderly
ladies), most of them retained their antique boxes
in the post-office, happily in the next building.
In this connection it may be written that a
subscription clerk in the office of the Chicago
Daily Standard, having noted a single subscriber
from Canaan, was, a fortnight later, pleased to
receive, by one mail, nine subscriptions from that
promising town. If one brought nine others in a
fortnight, thought he, what would nine bring in a
month? Amazingly, they brought nothing, and
the rest was silence. Here was a matter of intricate
diplomacy never to come within that youth his
ken. The morning voyage to the post-office,
long mocked as a fable and screen by the families
of the sages, had grown so difficult to accomplish
for one of them, Colonel Flitcroft (Colonel in the
war with Mexico), that he had been put to it,
indeed, to foot the firing-line against his wife (a lady
of celebrated determination and hale-voiced at
seventy), and to defend the rental of a box which
had sheltered but three missives in four years.
Desperation is often inspiration; the Colonel
brilliantly subscribed for the Standard, forgetting to
give his house address, and it took the others just
thirteen days to wring his secret from him. Then
the Standard served for all.
Mail-time had come to mean that bright hour
when they all got their feet on the brass rod which
protected the sills of the two big windows, with the
steam-radiators sizzling like kettles against the
side wall. Mr. Jonas Tabor, who had sold his
hardware business magnificently (not magnificently
for his nephew, the purchaser) some ten years
before, was usually, in spite of the fact that he
remained a bachelor at seventy-nine, the last to settle
down with the others, though often the first to reach
the hotel, which he always entered by a side door,
because he did not believe in the treating system.
And it was Mr. Eskew Arp, only seventy-five, but
already a thoroughly capable cynic, who, almost
invariably "opened the argument," and it was he
who discovered the sinister intention behind the
weather of this particular morning. Mr. Arp had
not begun life so sourly: as a youth he had been
proud of his given name, which had come to him
through his mother's family, who had made it
honorable, but many years of explanations that
Eskew did not indicate his initials had lowered his
opinion of the intelligence and morality of the race.
The malevolence of his voice and manner this
morning, therefore, when he shook his finger at
the town beyond the windows, and exclaimed,
with a bitter laugh, "Look at it!" was no surprise
to his companions. "Jest look at it! I tell you
the devil is mighty smart. Ha, ha! Mighty
Through custom it was the duty of Squire
Buckalew (Justice of the Peace in '59) to be the
first to take up Mr. Arp. The others looked to
him for it. Therefore, he asked, sharply:
"What's the devil got to do with snow?"
"Everything to do with it, sir," Mr. Arp
retorted. "It's plain as day to anybody with eyes
and sense."
"Then I wish you'd p'int it out," said Buckalew,
"if you've got either."
"By the Almighty, Squire"--Mr. Arp turned in
his chair with sudden heat--"if I'd lived as long
as you--"
"You have," interrupted the other, stung.
"Twelve years ago!"
"If I'd lived as long as you," Mr. Arp repeated,
unwincingly, in a louder voice, "and had follered
Satan's trail as long as you have, and yet couldn't
recognize it when I see it, I'd git converted and
vote Prohibitionist."
"_I_ don't see it," interjected Uncle Joe Davey,
in his querulous voice. (He was the patriarch of
them all.) "_I_ can't find no cloven-hoof-prints in
the snow."
"All over it, sir!" cried the cynic. "All over it!
Old Satan loves tricks like this. Here's a town
that's jest one squirmin' mass of lies and envy and
vice and wickedness and corruption--"
"Hold on!" exclaimed Colonel Flitcroft. "That's
a slander upon our hearths and our government.
Why, when I was in the Council--"
"It wasn't a bit worse then," Mr. Arp returned,
unreasonably. "Jest you look how the devil fools us.
He drops down this here virgin mantle on Canaan
and makes it look as good as you pretend you
think it is: as good as the Sunday-school room of a
country church--though THAT"--he went off on a
tangent, venomously--"is generally only another
whited sepulchre, and the superintendent's mighty
apt to have a bottle of whiskey hid behind the
organ, and--"
"Look here, Eskew," said Jonas Tabor, "that's
got nothin' to do with--"
"Why ain't it? Answer me!" cried Mr. Arp,
continuing, without pause: "Why ain't it? Can't
you wait till I git through? You listen to me, and
when I'm ready I'll listen to--"
"See here," began the Colonel, making himself
heard over three others, "I want to ask you--"
"No, sir!" Mr. Arp pounded the floor irascibly
with his hickory stick. "Don't you ask me anything!
How can you tell that I'm not going to
answer your question without your asking it, till
I've got through? You listen first. I say, here's
a town of nearly thirty thousand inhabitants,
every last one of 'em--men, women, and children--
selfish and cowardly and sinful, if you could see
their innermost natures; a town of the ugliest and
worst built houses in the world, and governed by a
lot of saloon-keepers--though I hope it 'll never
git down to where the ministers can run it. And
the devil comes along, and in one night--why, all
you got to do is LOOK at it! You'd think we needn't
ever trouble to make it better. That's what the
devil wants us to do--wants us to rest easy about
it, and paints it up to look like a heaven of peace
and purity and sanctified spirits. Snowfall like
this would of made Lot turn the angel out-of-doors
and say that the old home was good enough for
him. Gomorrah would of looked like a Puritan
village--though I'll bet my last dollar that there
was a lot, and a WHOLE lot, that's never been told
about Puritan villages. A lot that--"
"WHAT never was?" interrupted Mr. Peter
Bradbury, whose granddaughter had lately announced
her discovery that the Bradburys were descended
from Miles Standish. "What wasn't told about
Puritan villages?"
"Can't you wait?" Mr. Arp's accents were those
of pain. "Haven't I got ANY right to present my
side of the case? Ain't we restrained enough to
allow of free speech here? How can we ever git
anywhere in an argument like this, unless we let
one man talk at a time? How--"
"Go on with your statement," said Uncle Joe
Davey, impatiently.
Mr. Arp's grievance was increased. "Now listen
to YOU! How many more interruptions are comin'?
I'll listen to the other side, but I've got to state
mine first, haven't I? If I don't make my point
clear, what's the use of the argument?
Argumentation is only the comparison of two sides of a
question, and you have to see what the first side
IS before you can compare it with the other one,
don't you? Are you all agreed to that?"
"Yes, yes," said the Colonel. "Go ahead. We
won't interrupt until you're through."
"Very well," resumed Mr. Arp, with a fleeting
expression of satisfaction, "as I said before, I
wish to--as I said--" He paused, in some
confusion. "As I said, argumentation is--that is, I
say--" He stopped again, utterly at sea, having
talked himself so far out of his course that he was
unable to recall either his sailing port or his
destination. Finally he said, feebly, to save the
confession, "Well, go on with your side of it."
This generosity was for a moment disconcerting;
however, the quietest of the party took up the
opposition--Roger Tabor, a very thin, old man
with a clean-shaven face, almost as white as his
hair, and melancholy, gentle, gray eyes, very unlike
those of his brother Jonas, which were dark
and sharp and button-bright. (It was to Roger's
son that Jonas had so magnificently sold the hardware
business.) Roger was known in Canaan as
"the artist"; there had never been another of his
profession in the place, and the town knew not the
word "painter," except in application to the useful
artisan who is subject to lead-poisoning. There
was no indication of his profession in the attire of
Mr. Tabor, unless the too apparent age of his
black felt hat and a neat patch at the elbow of his
shiny, old brown overcoat might have been taken
as symbols of the sacrifice to his muse which his
life had been. He was not a constant attendant
of the conclave, and when he came it was usually
to listen; indeed, he spoke so seldom that at the
sound of his voice they all turned to him with
some surprise.
"I suppose," he began, "that Eskew means the
devil is behind all beautiful things."
"Ugly ones, too," said Mr. Arp, with a start of
recollection. "And I wish to state--"
"Not now!" Colonel Flitcroft turned upon him
violently. "You've already stated it."
"Then, if he is behind the ugly things, too," said
Roger, "we must take him either way, so let us be
glad of the beauty for its own sake. Eskew says
this is a wicked town. It may be--I don't know.
He says it's badly built; perhaps it is; but it doesn't
seem to me that it's ugly in itself. I don't know
what its real self is, because it wears so many
aspects. God keeps painting it all the time, and
never shows me twice the same picture; not even
two snowfalls are just alike, nor the days that
follow them; no more than two misty sunsets are
alike--for the color and even the form of the
town you call ugly are a matter of the season of
the year and of the time of day and of the light
and air. The ugly town is like an endless gallery
which you can walk through, from year-end to
year-end, never seeing the same canvas twice, no
matter how much you may want to--and there's
the pathos of it. Isn't it the same with people
with the characters of all of us, just as it is with
our faces? No face remains the same for two
successive days--"
"It don't?" Colonel Flitcroft interrupted, with
an explosive and rueful incredulity. "Well, I'd
like to--" Second thoughts came to him almost
immediately, and, as much out of gallantry as
through discretion, fearing that he might be taken
as thinking of one at home, he relapsed into
Not so with the others. It was as if a
firecracker had been dropped into a sleeping poultryyard.
Least of all could Mr. Arp contain himself.
At the top of his voice, necessarily, he agreed
with Roger that faces changed, not only from day
to day, and not only because of light and air and
such things, but from hour to hour, and from
minute to minute, through the hideous stimulus
of hypocrisy.
The "argument" grew heated; half a dozen tidy
quarrels arose; all the sages went at it fiercely,
except Roger Tabor, who stole quietly away.
The aged men were enjoying themselves thoroughly,
especially those who quarrelled. Naturally, the
frail bark of the topic which had been launched
was whirled about by too many side-currents to
remain long in sight, and soon became derelict,
while the intellectual dolphins dove and tumbled
in the depths. At the end of twenty minutes
Mr. Arp emerged upon the surface, and in his
mouth was this:
"Tell me, why ain't the Church--why ain't the
Church and the rest of the believers in a future life
lookin' for immortality at the other end of life,
too? If we're immortal, we always have been;
then why don't they ever speculate on what we
were before we were born? It's because they're
too blame selfish--don't care a flapdoodle about
what WAS, all they want is to go on livin' forever."
Mr. Arp's voice had risen to an acrid triumphancy,
when it suddenly faltered, relapsed to a
murmur, and then to a stricken silence, as a tall, fat
man of overpowering aspect threw open the outer
door near by and crossed the lobby to the clerk's
desk. An awe fell upon the sages with this advent.
They were hushed, and after a movement in their
chairs, with a strange effect of huddling, sat
disconcerted and attentive, like school-boys at the
entrance of the master.
The personage had a big, fat, pink face and a
heavily undershot jaw, what whitish beard he wore
following his double chin somewhat after the manner
displayed in the portraits of Henry the Eighth.
His eyes, very bright under puffed upper lids, were
intolerant and insultingly penetrating despite
their small size. Their irritability held a kind of
hotness, and yet the personage exuded frost, not
of the weather, all about him. You could not
imagine man or angel daring to greet this being
genially--sooner throw a kiss to Mount Pilatus!
"Mr. Brown," he said, with ponderous hostility,
in a bull bass, to the clerk--the kind of voice
which would have made an express train leave the
track and go round the other way--"do you hear
"Oh yes, Judge," the clerk replied, swiftly, in
tones as unlike those which he used for strange
transients as a collector's voice in his ladylove's
ear is unlike that which he propels at delinquents.
"Do you see that snow?" asked the personage,
"Yes, Judge." Mr. Brown essayed a placating
smile. "Yes, indeed, Judge Pike."
"Has your employer, the manager of this hotel,
seen that snow?" pursued the personage, with a
gesture of unspeakable solemn menace.
"Yes, sir. I think so. Yes, sir."
"Do you think he fully understands that I am
the proprietor of this building?"
"Certainly, Judge, cer--"
"You will inform him that I do not intend to
be discommoded by his negligence as I pass to
my offices. Tell him from me that unless he keeps
the sidewalks in front of this hotel clear of snow I
will cancel his lease. Their present condition is
outrageous. Do you understand me? Outrageous!
Do you hear?"
"Yes, Judge, I do so," answered the clerk,
hoarse with respect. "I'll see to it this minute,
Judge Pike."
"You had better." The personage turned
himself about and began a grim progress towards the
door by which he had entered, his eyes fixing
themselves angrily upon the conclave at the windows.
Colonel Flitcroft essayed a smile, a faltering one.
"Fine weather, Judge Pike," he said, hopefully.
There was no response of any kind; the undershot
jaw became more intolerant. The personage
made his opinion of the group disconcertingly
plain, and the old boys understood that he knew
them for a worthless lot of senile loafers, as great a
nuisance in his building as was the snow without;
and much too evident was his unspoken threat
to see that the manager cleared them out of there
before long.
He nodded curtly to the only man of substance
among them, Jonas Tabor, and shut the door
behind him with majestic insult. He was Canaan's
He was one of those dynamic creatures who
leave the haunting impression of their wills
behind them, like the tails of Bo-Peep's sheep, like
the evil dead men have done; he left his intolerant
image in the ether for a long time after he had
gone, to confront and confound the aged men and
hold them in deferential and humiliated silence.
Each of them was mysteriously lowered in his own
estimation, and knew that he had been made to
seem futile and foolish in the eyes of his fellows.
They were all conscious, too, that the clerk had
been acutely receptive of Judge Pike's reading of
them; that he was reviving from his own squelchedness
through the later snubbing of the colonel;
also that he might further seek to recover his
poise by an attack on them for cluttering up the
Naturally, Jonas Tabor was the first to speak.
"Judge Pike's lookin' mighty well," he said, admiringly.
"Yes, he is," ventured Squire Buckalew, with
deference; "mighty well."
"Yes, sir," echoed Peter Bradbury; "mighty
"He's a great man," wheezed Uncle Joe Davey;
"a great man, Judge Martin Pike; a great man!"
"I expect he has considerable on his mind,"
said the Colonel, who had grown very red. "I
noticed that he hardly seemed to see us."
"Yes, sir," Mr. Bradbury corroborated, with an
attempt at an amused laugh. "I noticed it, too.
Of course a man with all his cares and interests
must git absent-minded now and then."
"Of course he does," said the colonel. "A
man with all his responsibilities "
"Yes, that's so," came a chorus of the brethren,
finding comfort and reassurance as their voices and
spirits began to recover from the blight.
"There's a party at the Judge's to-night," said
Mr. Bradbury--" kind of a ball Mamie Pike's givin'
for the young folks. Quite a doin's, I hear."
"That's another thing that's ruining Canaan,"
Mr. Arp declared, morosely. "These entertainments
they have nowadays. Spend all the money
out of town--band from Indianapolis, chicken
salad and darkey waiters from Chicago! And
what I want to know is, What's this town goin' to
do about the nigger question?"
"What about it?" asked Mr. Davey, belligerently.
"What about it?" Mr. Arp mocked, fiercely.
"You better say, `What about it?' "
"Well, what?" maintained Mr. Davey, steadfastly.
"I'll bet there ain't any less than four thousand
niggers in Canaan to-day!" Mr. Arp hammered
the floor with his stick. "Every last one of 'em
criminals, and more comin' on every train."
"No such a thing," said Squire Buckalew, living
up to his bounden duty. "You look down the
street. There's the ten-forty-five comin' in now.
I'll bet you a straight five-cent Peek-a-Boo cigar
there ain't ary nigger on the whole train, except
the sleepin'-car porters."
"What kind of a way to argue is that?"
demanded Mr. Arp, hotly. "Bettin' ain't proof, is
it? Besides, that's the through express from the
East. I meant trains from the South."
"You didn't say so," retorted Buckalew,
triumphantly. "Stick to your bet, Eskew, stick to
your bet."
"My bet!" cried the outraged Eskew. "Who
offered to bet?"
"You did," replied the Squire, with perfect
assurance and sincerity. The others supported
him in the heartiest spirit of on-with-the-dance,
and war and joy were unconfined.
A decrepit hack or two, a couple of old-fashioned
surreys, and a few "cut-unders" drove by, bearing
the newly arrived and their valises, the hotel
omnibus depositing several commercial travellers
at the door. A solitary figure came from the
station on foot, and when it appeared within fair
range of the window, Uncle Joe Davey, who had
but hovered on the flanks of the combat, first
removed his spectacles and wiped them, as though
distrusting the vision they offered him, then,
replacing them, scanned anew the approaching figure
and uttered a smothered cry.
"My Lord A'mighty!" he gasped. "What's
this? Look there!"
They looked. A truce came involuntarily, and
they sat in paralytic silence as the figure made its
stately and sensational progress along Main Street.
Not only the aged men were smitten. Men
shovelling snow from the pavements stopped suddenly
in their labors; two women, talking busily
on a doorstep, were stilled and remained in frozen
attitudes as it passed; a grocer's clerk, crossing
the pavement, carrying a heavily laden basket to
his delivery wagon, halted half-way as the figure
came near, and then, making a pivot of his heels
as it went by, behaved towards it as does the
magnetic needle to the pole.
It was that of a tall gentleman, cheerfully, though
somewhat with ennui, enduring his nineteenth
winter. His long and slender face he wore smiling,
beneath an accurately cut plaster of dark hair
cornicing his forehead, a fashion followed by many
youths of that year. This perfect bang was shown
under a round black hat whose rim was so small as
almost not to be there at all; and the head was
supported by a waxy-white sea-wall of collar,
rising three inches above the blue billows of a puffed
cravat, upon which floated a large, hollow pearl.
His ulster, sporting a big cape at the shoulders,
and a tasselled hood over the cape, was of a rough
Scotch cloth, patterned in faint, gray-and-white
squares the size of baggage-checks, and it was so
long that the skirts trailed in the snow. His legs
were lost in the accurately creased, voluminous
garments that were the tailors' canny reaction
from the tight trousers with which the 'Eighties had
begun: they were, in color, a palish russet, broadly
striped with gray, and, in size, surpassed the milder
spirit of fashion so far as they permitted a liberal
knee action to take place almost without superficial
effect. Upon his feet glistened long shoes,
shaped, save for the heels, like sharp racing-shells;
these were partially protected by tan-colored low
gaiters with flat, shiny, brown buttons. In one
hand the youth swung a bone-handled walkingstick,
perhaps an inch and a half in diameter, the
other carried a yellow leather banjo-case, upon the
outer side of which glittered the embossed-silver
initials, "E. B." He was smoking, but walked
with his head up, making use, however, of a gait at
that time new to Canaan, a seeming superbly
irresponsible lounge, engendering much motion
of the shoulders, producing an effect of carelessness
combined with independence--an effect which the
innocent have been known to hail as an unconscious one.
He looked about him as he came, smilingly, with
an expression of princely amusement--as an elderly
cabinet minister, say, strolling about a village
where he had spent some months in his youth, a
hamlet which he had then thought large and imposing,
but which, being revisited after years of
cosmopolitan glory, appeals to his whimsy and his
pity. The youth's glance at the court-house
unmistakably said: "Ah, I recall that odd little box.
I thought it quite large in the days before I
became what I am now, and I dare say the good
townsfolk still think it an imposing structure!"
With everything in sight he deigned to be amused,
especially with the old faces in the "National
House" windows. To these he waved his stick
with airy graciousness.
"My soul!" said Mr. Davey. "It seems to
know some of us!"
"Yes," agreed Mr. Arp, his voice recovered,
"and _I_ know IT."
"You do?" exclaimed the Colonel.
"I do, and so do you. It's Fanny Louden's boy,
'Gene, come home for his Christmas holidays."
"By George! you're right," cried Flitcroft; "I
recognize him now."
"But what's the matter with him?" asked Mr.
Bradbury, eagerly. "Has he joined some patentmedicine
"Not a bit," replied Eskew. "He went East
to college last fall."
"Do they MAKE the boys wear them clothes?"
persisted Bradbury. "Is it some kind of uniform?"
"I don't care what it is," said Jonas Tabor. "If
I was Henry Louden I wouldn't let him wear 'em
around here."
"Oh, you wouldn't, wouldn't you, Jonas?" Mr.
Arp employed the accents of sarcasm. "I'd like to
see Henry Louden try to interfere with 'Gene
Bantry. Fanny'd lock the old fool up in the
The lofty vision lurched out of view.
"I reckon," said the Colonel, leaning forward to
see the last of it--" I reckon Henry Louden's about
the saddest case of abused step-father I ever saw."
"It's his own fault," said Mr. Arp--"twice not
havin' sense enough not to marry. Him with a
son of his own, too!"
"Yes," assented the Colonel, "marryin' a widow
with a son of her own, and that widow Fanny!"
"Wasn't it just the same with her first husband
--Bantry?" Mr. Davey asked, not for information,
as he immediately answered himself. "You bet
it was! Didn't she always rule the roost? Yes,
she did. She made a god of 'Gene from the day
he was born. Bantry's house was run for him, like
Louden's is now."
"And look," exclaimed Mr. Arp, with satisfaction,
"at the way he's turned out!"
"He ain't turned out at all yet; he's too young,"
said Buckalew. "Besides, clothes don't make the
"Wasn't he smokin' a cigareet!" cried Eskew,
triumphantly. This was final.
"It's a pity Henry Louden can't do something
for his own son," said Mr. Bradbury. "Why don't
he send him away to college?"
"Fanny won't let him," chuckled Mr. Arp,
malevolently. "Takes all their spare change to
keep 'Gene there in style. I don't blame her.
'Gene certainly acts the fool, but that Joe Louden
is the orneriest boy I ever saw in an ornery worldfull."
"He always was kind of misCHEEvous," admitted
Buckalew. "I don't think he's mean, though, and
it does seem kind of not just right that Joe's father's
money--Bantry didn't leave anything to speak
of--has to go to keepin' 'Gene on the fat of the
land, with Joe gittin' up at half-past four to carry
papers, and him goin' on nineteen years old."
"It's all he's fit for!" exclaimed Eskew. "He's
low down, I tell ye. Ain't it only last week Judge
Pike caught him shootin' craps with Pike's nigger
driver and some other nigger hired-men in the
alley back of Pike's barn."
Mr. Schindlinger, the retired grocer, one of the
silent members, corroborated Eskew's information.
"I heert dot, too," he gave forth, in his fat voice.
"He blays dominoes pooty often in der room back
off Louie Farbach's tsaloon. I see him myself.
Pooty often. Blayin' fer a leedle money--mit
loafers! Loafers!"
"Pretty outlook for the Loudens!" said Eskew
Arp, much pleased. "One boy a plum fool and
dressed like it, the other gone to the dogs already!"
"What could you expect Joe to be?" retorted
Squire Buckalew. "What chance has he ever
had? Long as I can remember Fanny's made
him fetch and carry for 'Gene. 'Gene's had everything
--all the fancy clothes, all the pocket-money,
and now college!"
"You ever hear that boy Joe talk politics?"
asked Uncle Joe Davey, crossing a cough with a
chuckle. "His head's so full of schemes fer running
this town, and state, too, it's a wonder it don't
bust. Henry Louden told me he's see Joe set
around and study by the hour how to save three
million dollars for the state in two years."
"And the best he can do for himself," added
Eskew, "is deliverin' the Daily Tocsin on a secondhand
Star bicycle and gamblin' with niggers and
riff-raff! None of the nice young folks invite him
to their doin's any more."
"That's because he's got so shabby he's quit
goin' with em," said Buckalew.
"No, it ain't," snapped Mr. Arp. "It's
because he's so low down. He's no more 'n a town
outcast. There ain't ary one of the girls 'll have
a thing to do with him, except that rip-rarin' tomboy
next door to Louden's; and the others don't
have much to do with HER, neither, I can tell ye.
That Arie Tabor--"
Colonel Flitcroft caught him surreptitiously by
the arm. "SH, Eskew!" he whispered. "Look
out what you're sayin'!"
"You needn't mind me," Jonas Tabor spoke up,
crisply. "I washed my hands of all responsibility
for Roger's branch of the family long ago. Never
was one of 'em had the energy or brains to make
a decent livin', beginning with Roger; not one
worth his salt! I set Roger's son up in business,
and all the return he ever made me was to go into
bankruptcy and take to drink, till he died a sot,
like his wife did of shame. I done all I could
when I handed him over my store, and I never
expect to lift a finger for 'em again. Ariel Tabor's
my grandniece, but she didn't act like it, and you
can say anything you like about her, for what I
care. The last time I spoke to her was a year
and a half ago, and I don't reckon I'll ever trouble
to again."
"How was that, Jonas?" quickly inquired Mr.
Davey, who, being the eldest of the party, was the
most curious. "What happened?"
"She was out in the street, up on that high
bicycle of Joe Louden's. He was teachin' her to
ride, and she was sittin' on it like a man does. I
stopped and told her she wasn't respectable.
Sixteen years old, goin' on seventeen!"
"What did she say?"
"Laughed," said Jonas, his voice becoming
louder as the recital of his wrongs renewed their
sting in his soul. "Laughed!"
"What did you do?"
"I went up to her and told her she wasn't a
decent girl, and shook the wheel." Mr. Tabor
illustrated by seizing the lapels of Joe Davey and
shaking him. "I told her if her grandfather had
any spunk she'd git an old-fashioned hidin' for
behavin' that way. And I shook the wheel again."
Here Mr. Tabor, forgetting in the wrath incited
by the recollection that he had not to do with an
inanimate object, swung the gasping and helpless
Mr. Davey rapidly back and forth in his chair.
"I shook it good and hard!"
"What did she do then?" asked Peter Bradbury.
"Fell off on me," replied Jonas, violently. "On
"I wisht she'd killed ye," said Mr. Davey, in a
choking voice, as, released, he sank back in his
"On purpose!" repeated Jonas. "And smashed
a straw hat I hadn't had three months! All to
pieces! So it couldn't be fixed!"
"And what then?" pursued Bradbury.
"SHE ran, "replied Jonas, bitterly--" ran! And
Joe Louden--Joe Louden--" He paused and
"What did he do?" Peter leaned forward in
his chair eagerly.
The narrator of the outrage gulped again, and
opened and shut his mouth before responding.
"He said if I didn't pay for a broken spoke on
his wheel he'd have to sue me!"
No one inquired if Jonas had paid, and Jonas
said no more. The recollection of his wrongs,
together with the illustrative violence offered to
Mr. Davey, had been too much for him. He sank
back, panting, in his chair, his hands fluttering
nervously over his heart, and closed his eyes.
"I wonder why," ruminated Mr. Bradbury--"I
wonder why 'Gene Bantry walked up from the
deepo. Don't seem much like his style. Should
think he'd of rode up in a hack.
"Sho!" said Uncle Joe Davey, his breath
recovered. "He wanted to walk up past Judge
Pike's, to see if there wasn't a show of Mamie's
bein' at the window, and give her a chance to look
at that college uniform and banjo-box and new
walk of his."
Mr. Arp began to show signs of uneasiness.
"I'd like mighty well to know," he said,
shifting round in his chair, "if there's anybody here
that's been able to answer the question I PUT,
yesterday, just before we went home. You all
tried to, but I didn't hear anything I could
consider anyways near even a fair argument."
"Who tried to?" asked Buckalew, sharply,
sitting up straight. "What question?"
"What proof can you bring me," began Mr.
Arp, deliberately, "that we folks, modernly, ain't
more degenerate than the ancient Romans?"
Main Street, already muffled by
the snow, added to its quietude a
frozen hush where the wonder-bearing
youth pursued his course along
its white, straight way. None was
there in whom impertinence overmastered
astonishment, or who recovered from the sight in time
to jeer with effect; no "Trab's boy" gathered
courage to enact in the thoroughfare a scene of
mockery and of joy. Leaving business at a
temporary stand-still behind him, Mr. Bantry swept
his long coat steadily over the snow and soon
emerged upon that part of the street where the
mart gave way to the home. The comfortable
houses stood pleasantly back from the street, with
plenty of lawn and shrubbery about them; and
often, along the picket-fences, the laden branches
of small cedars, bending low with their burden,
showered the young man's swinging shoulders
glitteringly as he brushed by.
And now that expression he wore--the indulgent
amusement of a man of the world--began to
disintegrate and show signs of change. It became
finely grave, as of a high conventionality, lofty,
assured, and mannered, as he approached the Pike
mansion. (The remotest stranger must at once
perceive that the Canaan papers could not have
called it otherwise without pain.)
It was a big, smooth-stone-faced house,
product of the 'Seventies, frowning under an
outrageously insistent mansard, capped by a cupola,
and staring out of long windows overtopped with
"ornamental" slabs. Two cast-iron deer, painted
death-gray, twins of the same mould, stood on
opposite sides of the front walk, their backs towards
it and each other, their bodies in profile to the
street, their necks bent, however, so that they
gazed upon the passer-by--yet gazed without
emotion. Two large, calm dogs guarded the top
of the steps leading to the front-door; they also
were twins and of the same interesting metal,
though honored beyond the deer by coats of black
paint and shellac. It was to be remarked that
these dogs were of no distinguishable species or
breed, yet they were unmistakably dogs; the
dullest must have recognized them as such at a
glance, which was, perhaps, enough. It was a
hideous house, important-looking, cold, yet harshly
aggressive, a house whose exterior provoked a
shuddering guess of the brass lambrequins and
plush fringes within; a solid house, obviously--
nay, blatantly--the residence of the principal
citizen, whom it had grown to resemble, as is the
impish habit of houses; and it sat in the middle
of its flat acre of snowy lawn like a rich, fat man
enraged and sitting straight up in bed to swear.
And yet there was one charming thing about this
ugly house. Some workmen were enclosing a large
side porch with heavy canvas, evidently for festal
purposes. Looking out from between two strips
of the canvas was the rosy and delicate face of a
pretty girl, smiling upon Eugene Bantry as he
passed. It was an obviously pretty face, all the
youth and prettiness there for your very first
glance; elaborately pretty, like the splendid
profusion of hair about and above it--amber-colored
hair, upon which so much time had been spent that
a circle of large, round curls rose above the mass of
it like golden bubbles tipping a coronet.
The girl's fingers were pressed thoughtfully
against her chin as Eugene strode into view;
immediately her eyes widened and brightened. He
swung along the fence with the handsomest
appearance of unconsciousness, until he reached a
point nearly opposite her. Then he turned his
head, as if haphazardly, and met her eyes. At once
she threw out her hand towards him, waving him
a greeting--a gesture which, as her fingers had been
near her lips, was a little like throwing a kiss. He
crooked an elbow and with a one-two-three military
movement removed his small-brimmed hat, extended
it to full arm's-length at the shoulder-level,
returned it to his head with Life-Guard precision.
This was also new to Canaan. He was letting
Mamie Pike have it all at once.
The impression was as large as he could have
desired. She remained at the opening in the
canvas and watched him until he wagged his shoulders
round the next corner and disappeared into a cross
street. As for Eugene, he was calm with a great
calm, and very red.
He had not covered a great distance, however,
before his gravity was replaced by his former
smiling look of the landed gentleman amused by the
innocent pastimes of the peasants, though there
was no one in sight except a woman sweeping some
snow from the front steps of a cottage, and she,
not perceiving him, retired in-doors without knowing
her loss. He had come to a thinly built part
of the town, the perfect quiet of which made the
sound he heard as he opened the picket gate of
his own home all the more startling. It was a
scream--loud, frantic, and terror-stricken.
Eugene stopped, with the gate half open.
Out of the winter skeleton of a grape-arbor at
one side of the four-square brick house a brownfaced
girl of seventeen precipitated herself through
the air in the midst of a shower of torn card-board
which she threw before her as she leaped. She lit
upon her toes and headed for the gate at top speed,
pursued by a pale young man whose thin arms
strove spasmodically to reach her. Scattering
snow behind them, hair flying, the pair sped on
like two tattered branches before a high wind; for,
as they came nearer Eugene (of whom, in the
tensity of their flight, they took no note), it was
to be seen that both were so shabbily dressed as
to be almost ragged. There was a brown patch
upon the girl's faded skirt at the knee; the shortness
of the garment indicating its age to be something
over three years, as well as permitting the
knowledge to become more general than befitting
that her cotton stockings had been clumsily darned
in several places. Her pursuer was in as evil case;
his trousers displayed a tendency to fringedness at
pocket and heel; his coat, blowing open as he ran,
threw pennants of torn lining to the breeze, and
made it too plain that there were but three buttons
on his waistcoat.
The girl ran beautifully, but a fleeter foot was
behind her, and though she dodged and evaded
like a creature of the woods, the reaching hand
fell upon the loose sleeve of her red blouse, nor fell
lightly. She gave a wrench of frenzy; the antique
fabric refused the strain; parted at the shoulder
seam so thoroughly that the whole sleeve came
away--but not to its owner's release, for she had
been brought round by the jerk, so that, agile as
she had shown herself, the pursuer threw an arm
about her neck, before she could twist away, and
held her.
There was a sharp struggle, as short as it was
fierce. Neither of these extraordinary wrestlers
spoke. They fought. Victory hung in the balance
for perhaps four seconds; then the girl was
thrown heavily upon her back, in such a turmoil
of snow that she seemed to be the mere nucleus of a
white comet. She struggled to get up, plying knee
and elbow with a very anguish of determination;
but her opponent held her, pinioned both her
wrists with one hand, and with the other rubbed
great handfuls of snow into her face, sparing
neither mouth nor eyes.
"You will!" he cried. "You will tear up my
pictures! A dirty trick, and you get washed for
Half suffocated, choking, gasping, she still
fought on, squirming and kicking with such spirit
that the pair of them appeared to the beholder
like figures of mist writhing in a fountain of snow.
More violence was to mar the peace of morning.
Unexpectedly attacked from the rear, the
conqueror was seized by the nape of the neck and one
wrist, and jerked to his feet, simultaneously
receiving a succession of kicks from his assailant.
Prompted by an entirely natural curiosity, he
essayed to turn his head to see who this might be,
but a twist of his forearm and the pressure of strong
fingers under his ear constrained him to remain
as he was; therefore, abandoning resistance, and,
oddly enough, accepting without comment the
indication that his captor desired to remain for
the moment incognito, he resorted calmly to
"She tore up a picture of mine," he said,
receiving the punishment without apparent emotion.
"She seemed to think because she'd drawn it herself
she had a right to."
There was a slight whimsical droop at the corner
of his mouth as he spoke, which might have been
thought characteristic of him. He was an oddlooking
boy, not ill-made, though very thin and
not tall. His pallor was clear and even, as though
constitutional; the features were delicate, almost
childlike, but they were very slightly distorted,
through nervous habit, to an expression at once
wistful and humorous; one eyebrow was a shade
higher than the other, one side of the mouth slightly
drawn down; the eyelids twitched a little, habitually;
the fine, blue eyes themselves were almost
comically reproachful--the look of a puppy who
thinks you would not have beaten him if you had
known what was in his heart. All of this was in
the quality of his voice, too, as he said to his
invisible captor, with an air of detachment from any
personal feeling:
"What peculiar shoes you wear! I don't think
I ever felt any so pointed before."
The rescuing knight took no thought of offering to
help the persecuted damsel to arise; instead, he
tightened his grip upon the prisoner's neck until,
perforce, water--not tears--started from the latter's eyes.
"You miserable little muff," said the conqueror,
"what the devil do you mean, making this scene
on our front lawn?"
"Why, it's Eugene!" exclaimed the helpless one.
"They didn't expect you till to-night. When did
you get in?"
"Just in time to give you a lesson, my buck,"
replied Bantry, grimly. "In GOOD time for that,
my playful step-brother."
He began to twist the other's wrist--a treatment
of bone and ligament in the application of which
school-boys and even freshmen are often adept.
Eugene made the torture acute, and was apparently
enjoying the work, when suddenly--without any
manner of warning--he received an astounding
blow upon the left ear, which half stunned him
for the moment, and sent his hat flying and himself
reeling, so great was the surprise and shock of it.
It was not a slap, not an open-handed push, nothing
like it, but a fierce, well-delivered blow from a
clinched fist with the shoulder behind it, and it
was the girl who had given it.
"Don't you dare to touch Joe!" she cried,
passionately. "Don't you lay a finger on him."
Furious and red, he staggered round to look at
"You wretched little wild-cat, what do you mean
by that?" he broke out.
"Don't you touch Joe!" she panted. "Don't
you--" Her breath caught and there was a break
in her voice as she faced him. She could not finish
the repetition of that cry, "Don't you touch Joe!"
But there was no break in the spirit, that passion
of protection which had dealt the blow. Both boys
looked at her, something aghast.
She stood before them, trembling with rage and
shivering with cold in the sudden wind which had
come up. Her hair had fallen and blew across
her streaming face in brown witch-wisps; one of
the ill-darned stockings had come down and hung
about her shoe in folds full of snow; the arm which
had lost its sleeve was bare and wet; thin as the
arm of a growing boy, it shook convulsively, and
was red from shoulder to clinched fist. She was
covered with snow. Mists of white drift blew
across her, mercifully half veiling her.
Eugene recovered himself. He swung round
upon his heel, restored his hat to his head with
precision, picked up his stick and touched his
banjo-case with it.
"Carry that into the house," he said, indifferently,
to his step-brother.
"Don't you do it!" said the girl, hotly, between
her chattering teeth.
Eugene turned towards her, wearing the sharp
edge of a smile. Not removing his eyes from her
face, he produced with deliberation a flat silver
box from a pocket, took therefrom a cigarette,
replaced the box, extracted a smaller silver box from
another pocket, shook out of it a fusee, slowly lit
the cigarette--this in a splendid silence, which he
finally broke to say, languidly, but with particular
"Ariel Tabor, go home!"
The girl's teeth stopped chattering, her lips
remaining parted; she shook the hair out of her eyes
and stared at him as if she did not understand, but
Joe Louden, who had picked up the banjo-case
obediently, burst into cheerful laughter.
"That's it, 'Gene," he cried, gayly. "That's the
way to talk to her!"
"Stow it, you young cub," replied Eugene, not
turning to him. "Do you think I'm trying to be
"I don't know what you mean by `stow it,' " Joe
began, "but if--"
"I mean," interrupted the other, not relaxing
his faintly smiling stare at the girl--" I mean that
Ariel Tabor is to go home. Really, we can't have
this kind of thing occurring upon our front lawn!"
The flush upon her wet cheeks deepened and
became dark; even her arm grew redder as she gazed
back at him. In his eyes was patent his complete
realization of the figure she cut, of this bare arm,
of the strewn hair, of the fallen stocking, of the
ragged shoulder of her blouse, of her patched short
skirt, of the whole dishevelled little figure. He
was the master of the house, and he was sending
her home as ill-behaved children are sent home by
The immobile, amused superiority of this
proprietor of silver boxes, this wearer of strange and
brilliant garments, became slightly intensified as
he pointed to the fallen sleeve, a rag of red and
snow, lying near her feet.
"You might take that with you?" he said,
Her gaze had not wavered in meeting his, but
at this her eyelashes began to wink uncontrollably,
her chin to tremble. She bent over the sleeve and
picked it up, before Joe Louden, who had started
towards her, could do it for her. Then turning,
her head still bent so that her face was hidden
from both of them, she ran out of the gate.
"DO go!" Joe called after her, vehemently. "Go!
Just to show what a fool you are to think 'Gene's
in earnest."
He would have followed, but his step-brother
caught him by the arm. "Don't stop her," said
Eugene. "Can't you tell when I AM in earnest,
you bally muff!"
"I know you are," returned the other, in a low
voice. "I didn't want her to think so for your
"Thousands of thanks," said Eugene, airily.
"You are a wise young judge. She couldn't stay--
in THAT state, could she? I sent her for her own
"She could have gone in the house and your
mother might have loaned her a jacket," returned
Joe, swallowing. "You had no business to make
her go out in the street like that."
Eugene laughed. "There isn't a soul in sight
--and there, she's all right now. She's home."
Ariel had run along the fence until she came to
the next gate, which opened upon a walk leading
to a shabby, meandering old house of one story,
with a very long, low porch, once painted white,
running the full length of the front. Ariel sprang
upon the porch and disappeared within the house.
Joe stood looking after her, his eyelashes winking
as had hers. "You oughtn't to have treated
her that way," he said, huskily.
Eugene laughed again. "How were YOU treating
her when I came up? You bully her all you
want to yourself, but nobody else must say even
a fatherly word to her!"
"That wasn't bullying," explained Joe. "We
fight all the time."
"Mais oui!" assented Eugene. "I fancy!"
"What?" said the other, blankly.
"Pick up that banjo-case again and come on,"
commanded Mr. Bantry, tartly. "Where's the
Joe stared at him. "Where's what?"
"The mater!" was the frowning reply.
"Oh yes, I know!" said Joe, looking at his stepbrother
curiously. "I've seen it in stories. She's
up-stairs. You'll be a surprise. You're wearing
lots of clothes, 'Gene."
"I suppose it will seem so to Canaan," returned
the other, weariedly. "Governor feeling fit?"
"I never saw him," Joe replied; then caught
himself. "Oh, I see what you mean! Yes, he's
all right."
They had come into the hall, and Eugene was
removing the long coat, while his step-brother looked
at him thoughtfully.
"'Gene," asked the latter, in a softened voice,
"have you seen Mamie Pike yet?"
"You will find, my young friend," responded
Mr. Bantry, "if you ever go about much outside
of Canaan, that ladies' names are not supposed
to be mentioned indiscriminately."
"It's only," said Joe, "that I wanted to say that
there's a dance at their house to-night. I suppose
you'll be going?"
"Certainly. Are you?"
Both knew that the question was needless; but
Joe answered, gently:
"Oh no, of course not." He leaned over and
fumbled with one foot as if to fasten a loose shoestring.
"She wouldn't be very likely to ask me."
"Well, what about it?"
"Only that--that Arie Tabor's going."
"Indeed!" Eugene paused on the stairs, which
he had begun to ascend. "Very interesting."
"I thought," continued Joe, hopefully, straightening
up to look at him, "that maybe you'd dance
with her. I don't believe many will ask her--I'm
afraid they won't--and if you would, even only
once, it would kind of make up for"--he faltered
--"for out there," he finished, nodding his head
in the direction of the gate.
If Eugene vouchsafed any reply, it was lost in
a loud, shrill cry from above, as a small, intensely
nervous-looking woman in blue silk ran half-way
down the stairs to meet him and caught him
tearfully in her arms.
"Dear old mater!" said Eugene.
Joe went out of the front-door quickly.
The door which Ariel had entered
opened upon a narrow hall, and
down this she ran to her own room,
passing, with face averted, the entrance
to the broad, low-ceilinged
chamber that had served Roger Tabor as a studio
for almost fifty years. He was sitting there now,
in a hopeless and disconsolate attitude, with his
back towards the double doors, which were open,
and had been open since their hinges had begun
to give way, when Ariel was a child. Hearing her
step, he called her name, but did not turn; and,
receiving no answer, sighed faintly as he heard her
own door close upon her.
Then, as his eyes wandered about the many
canvases which leaned against the dingy walls, he
sighed again. Usually they showed their brown
backs, but to-day he had turned them all to face
outward. Twilight, sunset, moonlight (the Courthouse
in moonlight), dawn, morning, noon (Main
Street at noon), high summer, first spring, red
autumn, midwinter, all were there--illimitably
detailed, worked to a smoothness like a glaze, and
all lovingly done with unthinkable labor.
And there were "Italian Flower-Sellers,"
damsels with careful hair, two figures together, one
blonde, the other as brunette as lampblack, the
blonde--in pink satin and blue slippers--leaning
against a pillar and smiling over the golden coins
for which she had exchanged her posies; the brunette
seated at her feet, weeping upon an unsold
bouquet. There were red-sashed "Fisher Lads "
wading with butterfly-nets on their shoulders;
there was a "Tying the Ribbon on Pussy's Neck";
there were portraits in oil and petrifactions in
crayon, as hard and tight as the purses of those
who had refused to accept them, leaving them
upon their maker's hands because the likeness had
After a time the old man got up, went to his
easel near a window, and, sighing again, began
patiently to work upon one of these failures--a
portrait, in oil, of a savage old lady, which he was
doing from a photograph. The expression of the
mouth and the shape of the nose had not pleased
her descendants and the beneficiaries under the
will, and it was upon the images of these features
that Roger labored. He leaned far forward, with
his face close to the canvas, holding his brushes
after the Spencerian fashion, working steadily
through the afternoon, and, when the light grew
dimmer, leaning closer to his canvas to see. When
it had become almost dark in the room, he lit a
student-lamp with a green-glass shade, and, placing
it upon a table beside him, continued to paint.
Ariel's voice interrupted him at last.
"It's quitting-time, grandfather," she called,
gently, from the doorway behind him.
He sank back in his chair, conscious, for the
first time, of how tired he had grown. "I suppose
so," he said, "though it seemed to me that
I was just getting my hand in." His eyes brightened
for a moment. "I declare, I believe I've
caught it a great deal better. Come and look,
Ariel. Doesn't it seem to you that I'm getting
it? Those pearly shadows in the flesh--"
"I'm sure of it. Those people ought to be very
proud to have it." She came to him quietly, took
the palette and brushes from his hands and began
to clean them, standing in the shadow behind him.
"It's too good for them."
"I wonder if it is," he said, slowly, leaning
forward and curving his hands about his eyes so as
to shut off everything from his view except the
canvas. "I wonder if it is!" he repeated. Then
his hands dropped sadly in his lap, and he sank
back again with a patient kind of revulsion. "No,
no, it isn't! I always think they're good when
I've just finished them. I've been fooled that
way all my life. They don't look the same afterwards."
"They're always beautiful," she said, softly.
"Ah, ah!" he sighed.
"Now, Roger!" she cried, with cheerful sharpness,
continuing her work.
"I know," he said, with a plaintive laugh,--"I
know. Sometimes I think that all my reward
has been in the few minutes I've had just after
finishing them. During those few minutes I seem
to see in them all that I wanted to put in them;
I see it because what I've been trying to express
is still so warm in my own eyes that I seem to have
got it on the canvas where I wanted it."
"But you do," she said. "You do get it there."
"No," he murmured, in return. "I never did.
I got out some of the old ones when I came in this
morning, some that I hadn't looked at for years, and
it's the same with them. You can do it much
better yourself--your sketches show it."
"No, no!" she protested, quickly.
"Yes, they do; and I wondered if it was only
because you were young. But those I did when
I was young are almost the same as the ones I
paint now. I haven't learned much. There hasn't
been any one to show me! And you can't learn
from print, never! Yet I've grown in what I SEE--
grown so that the world is full of beauty to me
that I never dreamed of seeing when I began.
But I can't paint it--I can't get it on the canvas.
Ah, I think I might have known how to, if I
hadn't had to teach myself, if I could only have
seen how some of the other fellows did their work.
If I'd ever saved money to get away from Canaan
--if I could have gone away from it and come
back knowing how to paint it--if I could have got
to Paris for just one month! PARIS--for just one
"Perhaps we will; you can't tell what MAY happen."
It was always her reply to this cry of his.
"PARIS--for just one month!" he repeated, with
infinite wistfulness, and then realizing what an
old, old cry it was with him, he shook his head,
impatiently sniffing out a laugh at himself, rose
and went pottering about among the canvases,
returning their faces to the wall, and railing at
them mutteringly.
"Whatever took me into it, I don't know. I
might have done something useful. But I couldn't
bring myself ever to consider doing anything else--
I couldn't bear even to think of it! Lord forgive
me, I even tried to encourage your father to paint.
Perhaps he might as well, poor boy, as to have put
all he'd made into buying Jonas out. Ah me!
There you go, `Flower-Girls'! Turn your silly
faces to the wall and smile and cry there till I'm
gone and somebody throws you on a bonfire. I'LL
never look at you again." He paused, with the
canvas half turned. "And yet," he went on,
reflectively, "a man promised me thirty-five dollars
for that picture once. I painted it to order,
but he went away before I finished it, and never
answered the letters I wrote him about it. I wish
I had the money now--perhaps we could have
more than two meals a day."
"We don't need more," said Ariel, scraping the
palette attentively. "It's healthier with only
breakfast and supper. I think I'd rather have a
new dress than dinner."
"I dare say you would," the old man mused.
"You're young--you're young. What were you
doing all this afternoon, child?"
"In my room, trying to make over mamma's
wedding-dress for to-night."
"Mamie Pike invited me to a dance at their
"Very well; I'm glad you're going to be gay,"
he said, not seeing the faintly bitter smile that
came to her face.
"I don't think I'll be very gay," she answered.
"I don't know why I go--nobody ever asks me to
"Why not?" he asked, with an old man's astonishment.
"I don't know. Perhaps it's because I don't
dress very well." Then, as he made a sorrowful
gesture, she cut him off before he could speak.
"Oh, it isn't altogether because we're poor; it's
more I don't know how to wear what I've got, the
way some girls do. I never cared much and--
well, I'M not worrying, Roger! And I think I've
done a good deal with mamma's dress. It's a very
grand dress. I wonder I never thought of wearing it
until to-day. I may be"--she laughed and blushed
--"I may be the belle of the ball--who knows!"
"You'll want me to walk over with you and
come for you afterwards, I expect."
"Only to take me. It may be late when I
come away--if a good many SHOULD ask me to
dance, for once! Of course I could come home
alone. But Joe Louden is going to sort of hang
around outside, and he'll meet me at the gate and
see me safe home."
"Oh!" he exclaimed, blankly.
"Isn't it all right?" she asked.
"I think I'd better come for you," he answered,
gently. "The truth is, I--I think you'd better not
be with Joe Louden a great deal."
"Well, he doesn't seem a vicious boy to me, but
I'm afraid he's getting rather a bad name, my
"He's not getting one," she said, gravely. "He's
already got one. He's had a bad name in Canaan
for a long while. It grew in the first place out of
shabbiness and mischief, but it did grow; and if
people keep on giving him a bad name the time
will come when he'll live up to it. He's not any
worse than I am, and I guess my own name isn't
too good--for a girl. And yet, so far, there's nothing
against him except his bad name."
"I'm afraid there is," said Roger. "It doesn't
look very well for a young man of his age to be
doing no better than delivering papers."
"It gives him time to study law," she answered,
quickly. "If he clerked all day in a store, he
"I didn't know he was studying now. I thought
I'd heard that he was in a lawyer's office for a few
weeks last year, and was turned out for setting fire
to it with a pipe--"
"It was an accident," she interposed.
"But some pretty important papers were burned,
and after that none of the other lawyers would
have him."
"He's not in an office," she admitted. "I didn't
mean that. But he studies a great deal. He
goes to the courts all the time they're in session,
and he's bought some books of his own."
"Well--perhaps," he assented; "but they say
he gambles and drinks, and that last week Judge
Pike threatened to have him arrested for throwing
dice with some negroes behind the Judge's stable."
"What of it? I'm about the only nice person in
town that will have anything to do with him--
and nobody except you thinks I'M very nice!"
"Ariel! Ariel!"
"I know all about his gambling with darkies,"
she continued, excitedly, her voice rising, "and I
know that he goes to saloons, and that he's an
intimate friend of half the riffraff in town; and I know
the reason for it, too, because he's told me. He
wants to know them, to understand them; and he
says some day they'll make him a power, and then
he can help them!"
The old man laughed helplessly. "But I can't
let him bring you home, my dear."
She came to him slowly and laid her hands upon
his shoulders. Grandfather and granddaughter
were nearly of the same height, and she looked
squarely into his eyes. "Then you must say it is
because you want to come for me, not because I
mustn't come with Joe."
"But I think it is a little because you mustn't
come with Joe," he answered, "especially from
the Pikes'. Don't you see that it mightn't be
well for Joe himself, if the Judge should happen to
see him? I understand he warned the boy to keep
away from the neighborhood entirely or he would
have him locked up for dice-throwing. The Judge
is a very influential man, you know, and as
determined in matters like this as he is irritable."
"Oh, if you put it on that ground," the girl
replied, her eyes softening, "I think you'd better
come for me yourself."
"Very well, I put it on that ground," he
returned, smiling upon her
"Then I'll send Joe word and get supper," she
said, kissing him.
It was the supper-hour not only for them but
everywhere in Canaan, and the cold air of the
streets bore up and down and around corners the
smell of things frying. The dining-room windows
of all the houses threw bright patches on the snow
of the side-yards; the windows of other rooms,
except those of the kitchens, were dark, for the
rule of the place was Puritanical in thrift, as in all
things; and the good housekeepers disputed every
record of the meters with unhappy gas-collectors.
There was no better housekeeper in town than
Mrs. Louden, nor a thriftier, but hers was one of
the few houses in Canaan, that evening, which
showed bright lights in the front rooms while the
family were at supper. It was proof of the agitation
caused by the arrival of Eugene that she forgot
to turn out the gas in her parlor, and in the
chamber she called a library, on her way to the
evening meal.
That might not have been thought a cheerful
feast for Joe Louden. The fatted calf was upon the
board, but it had not been provided for the prodigal,
who, in this case, was the brother that stayed at
home: the fete rewarded the good brother, who had
been in strange lands, and the good one had found
much honor in his wanderings, as he carelessly let
it appear. Mrs. Louden brightened inexpressibly
whenever Eugene spoke of himself, and consequently
she glowed most of the time. Her husband--
a heavy, melancholy, silent man with a grizzled
beard and no mustache--lowered at Joe throughout
the meal, but appeared to take a strange comfort
in his step-son's elegance and polish. Eugene
wore new evening clothes and was lustrous to eye
and ear.
Joe escaped as soon as he could, though not
before the count of his later sins had been set before
Eugene in detail, in mass, and in all of their depth,
breadth, and thickness. His father spoke but
once, after nodding heavily to confirm all points of
Mrs. Louden's recital.
"You better use any influence you've got with
your brother," he said to Eugene, "to make him
come to time. I can't do anything with him. If
he gets in trouble, he needn't come to me! I'll
never help him again. I'm TIRED of it!"
Eugene glanced twinklingly at the outcast. "I
didn't know he was such a roarer as all that!" he
said, lightly, not taking Joe as of enough consequence
to be treated as a sinner.
This encouraged Mrs. Louden to pathos upon
the subject of her shame before other women
when Joe happened to be mentioned, and the supper
was finished with the topic. Joe slipped away
through the kitchen, sneakingly, and climbed the
back fence. In the alley he lit a cheap cigarette,
and thrusting his hands into his pockets and shivering
violently--for he had no overcoat,--walked
away singing to himself, "A Spanish cavalier
stood in his retreat," his teeth affording an
appropriate though involuntary castanet accompaniment.
His movements throughout the earlier part of
that evening are of uncertain report. It is known
that he made a partial payment of forty-five cents
at a second-hand book-store for a number of volumes--
Grindstaff on Torts and some others--which
he had negotiated on the instalment system; it is
also believed that he won twenty-eight cents
playing seven-up in the little room behind Louie Farbach's
bar; but these things are of little import
compared to the established fact that at eleven
o'clock he was one of the ball guests at the Pike
Mansion. He took no active part in the festivities,
nor was he one of the dancers: his was, on the
contrary, the role of a quiet observer. He lay stretched
at full length upon the floor of the enclosed
porch (one of the strips of canvas was later found
to have been loosened), wedged between the outer
railing and a row of palms in green tubs. The
position he occupied was somewhat too draughty
to have been recommended by a physician, but he
commanded, between the leaves of the screening
palms, an excellent view of the room nearest the
porch. A long window, open, afforded communication
between this room, one of those used for
dancing, and the dim bower which had been made
of the veranda, whither flirtatious couples made
their way between the dances.
It was not to play eavesdropper upon any of
these that the uninvited Joe had come. He was
not there to listen, and it is possible that, had the
curtains of other windows afforded him the chance
to behold the dance, he might not have risked the
dangers of his present position. He had not the
slightest interest in the whispered coquetries that
he heard; he watched only to catch now and then,
over the shoulders of the dancers, a fitful glimpse
of a pretty head that flitted across the window--
the amber hair of Mamie Pike. He shivered in the
draughts; and the floor of the porch was cement,
painful to elbow and knee, the space where he lay
cramped and narrow; but the golden bubbles of
her hair, the shimmer of her dainty pink dress,
and the fluffy wave of her lace scarf as she crossed
and recrossed in a waltz, left him, apparently, in
no discontent. He watched with parted lips, his
pale cheeks reddening whenever those fair glimpses
were his. At last she came out to the veranda with
Eugene and sat upon a little divan, so close to Joe
that, daring wildly in the shadow, he reached out
a trembling hand and let his fingers rest upon the
end of her scarf, which had fallen from her shoulders
and touched the floor. She sat with her back
to him, as did Eugene.
"You have changed, I think, since last summer,"
he heard her say, reflectively.
"For the worse, ma cherie?" Joe's expression
might have been worth seeing when Eugene said
"ma cherie," for it was known in the Louden
household that Mr. Bantry had failed to pass his
examination in the French language.
"No," she answered. "But you have seen so
much and accomplished so much since then. You
have become so polished and so--" She paused,
and then continued, "But perhaps I'd better not
say it; you might be offended."
"No. I want you to say it," he returned,
confidently, and his confidence was fully justified, for
she said:
"Well, then, I mean that you have become so
thoroughly a man of the world. Now I've said it!
You ARE offended--aren't you?"
"Not at all, not at all," replied Mr. Bantry,
preventing by a masterful effort his pleasure from
showing in his face. "Though I suppose you mean
to imply that I'm rather wicked."
"Oh no," said Mamie, with profound admiration,
"not exactly wicked."
"University life IS fast nowadays," Eugene
admitted. "It's difficult not to be drawn into it!"
"And I suppose you look down on poor little
Canaan now, and everybody in it!"
"Oh no," he laughed, indulgently. "Not at all,
not at all! I find it very amusing."
"All of it?"
"Not you," he answered, becoming very grave.
"Honestly--DON'T you?" Her young voice trembled
a little.
"Honestly--indeed--truly--" Eugene leaned
very close to her and the words were barely audible.
"You KNOW I don't!"
"Then I'm--glad," she whispered, and Joe saw
his step-brother touch her hand, but she rose quickly.
"There's the music," she cried, happily. "It's
a waltz, and it's YOURS!"
Joe heard her little high heels tapping gayly
towards the window, followed by the heavier tread
of Eugene, but he did not watch them go.
He lay on his back, with the hand that had
touched Mamie's scarf pressed across his closed
The music of that waltz was of the old-fashioned
swingingly sorrowful sort, and it would be hard to
say how long it was after that before the boy could
hear the air played without a recurrence of the
bitterness of that moment. The rhythmical pathos
of the violins was in such accord with a faint sound
of weeping which he heard near him, presently,
that for a little while he believed this sound to be
part of the music and part of himself. Then it
became more distinct, and he raised himself on one
elbow to look about.
Very close to him, sitting upon the divan in the
shadow, was a girl wearing a dress of beautiful silk.
She was crying softly, her face in her hands.
Ariel had worked all the afternoon
over her mother's wedding-gown,
and two hours were required by her
toilet for the dance. She curled her
hair frizzily, burning it here and
there, with a slate-pencil heated over a lamp
chimney, and she placed above one ear three or
four large artificial roses, taken from an old hat
of her mother's, which she had found in a trunk
in the store-room. Possessing no slippers, she
carefully blacked and polished her shoes, which had
been clumsily resoled, and fastened into the strings
of each small rosettes of red ribbon; after which
she practised swinging the train of her skirt until
she was proud of her manipulation of it. She
had no powder, but found in her grandfather's
room a lump of magnesia, that he was in the habit
of taking for heart-burn, and passed it over and
over her brown face and hands. Then a lingering
gaze into her small mirror gave her joy at last: she
yearned so hard to see herself charming that she
did see herself so. Admiration came and she told
herself that she was more attractive to look at
than she had ever been in her life, and that,
perhaps, at last she might begin to be sought for like
other girls. The little glass showed a sort of
prettiness in her thin, unmatured young face; tripping
dance-tunes ran through her head, her feet keeping
the time,--ah, she did so hope to dance often
that night! Perhaps--perhaps she might be asked
for every number. And so, wrapping an old waterproof
cloak about her, she took her grandfather's
arm and sallied forth, high hopes in her beating
It was in the dressing-room that the change began
to come. Alone, at home in her own ugly little
room, she had thought herself almost beautiful,
but here in the brightly lighted chamber crowded
with the other girls it was different. There was
a big cheval-glass at one end of the room, and she
faced it, when her turn came--for the mirror was
popular--with a sinking spirit. There was the
contrast, like a picture painted and framed. The
other girls all wore their hair after the fashion
introduced to Canaan by Mamie Pike the week before,
on her return from a visit to Chicago. None
of them had "crimped" and none had bedecked
their tresses with artificial flowers. Her alterations
of the wedding-dress had not been successful; the
skirt was too short in front and higher on one
side than on the other, showing too plainly the
heavy-soled shoes, which had lost most of their
polish in the walk through the snow. The ribbon
rosettes were fully revealed, and as she glanced at
their reflection she heard the words, "LOOK AT THAT
TRAIN AND THOSE ROSETTES!" whispered behind her, and
saw in the mirror two pretty young women turn
away with their handkerchiefs over their mouths
and retreat hurriedly to an alcove. All the feet
in the room except Ariel's were in dainty kid or
satin slippers of the color of the dresses from which
they glimmered out, and only Ariel wore a train.
She went away from the mirror and pretended
to be busy with a hanging thread in her sleeve.
She was singularly an alien in the chattering
room, although she had been born and lived all
her life in the town. Perhaps her position among
the young ladies may be best defined by the remark,
generally current among them, that evening,
to the effect that it was "very sweet of Mamie
to invite her." Ariel was not like the others; she
was not of them, and never had been. Indeed, she
did not know them very well. Some of them
nodded to her and gave her a word of greeting
pleasantly; all of them whispered about her with
wonder and suppressed amusement; but none
talked to her. They were not unkindly, but they
were young and eager and excited over their own
interests,--which were then in the "gentlemen's
Each of the other girls had been escorted by a
youth of the place, and, one by one, joining these
escorts in the hall outside the door, they descended
the stairs, until only Ariel was left. She came
down alone after the first dance had begun, and
greeted her young hostess's mother timidly. Mrs.
Pike--a small, frightened-looking woman with a
prominent ruby necklace--answered her absently,
and hurried away to see that the imported waiters
did not steal anything.
Ariel sat in one of the chairs against the wall
and watched the dancers with a smile of eager and
benevolent interest. In Canaan no parents, no
guardians nor aunts, were haled forth o' nights to
duenna the junketings of youth; Mrs. Pike did not
reappear, and Ariel sat conspicuously alone; there
was nothing else for her to do. It was not an
easy matter.
When the first dance reached an end, Mamie
Pike came to her for a moment with a cheery welcome,
and was immediately surrounded by a circle
of young men and women, flushed with dancing,
shouting as was their wont, laughing inexplicably
over words and phrases and unintelligible monosyllables,
as if they all belonged to a secret society
and these cries were symbols of things exquisitely
humorous, which only they understood. Ariel
laughed with them more heartily than any other,
so that she might seem to be of them and as merry
as they were, but almost immediately she found
herself outside of the circle, and presently they all
whirled away into another dance, and she was left
alone again.
So she sat, no one coming near her, through
several dances, trying to maintain the smile of
delighted interest upon her face, though she felt
the muscles of her face beginning to ache with their
fixedness, her eyes growing hot and glazed. All the
other girls were provided with partners for every
dance, with several young men left over, these latter
lounging hilariously together in the doorways.
Ariel was careful not to glance towards them, but
she could not help hating them. Once or twice
between the dances she saw Miss Pike speak appealingly
to one of the superfluous, glancing, at the
same time, in her own direction, and Ariel could
see, too, that the appeal proved unsuccessful, until
at last Mamie approached her, leading Norbert
Flitcroft, partly by the hand, partly by will-power.
Norbert was an excessively fat boy, and at the
present moment looked as patient as the blind.
But he asked Ariel if she was "engaged for the next
dance," and, Mamie having flitted away, stood
disconsolately beside her, waiting for the music to
begin. Ariel was grateful for him
"I think you must be very good-natured, Mr.
Flitcroft," she said, with an air of raillery
"No, I'm not," he replied, plaintively. "Everybody
thinks I am because I'm fat, and they expect
me to do things they never dream of asking
anybody else to do. I'd like to see 'em even ASK
'Gene Bantry to go and do some of the things they
get me to do! A person isn't good-natured just
because he's fat," he concluded, morbidly, "but
he might as well be!"
"Oh, I meant good-natured," she returned, with
a sprightly laugh, "because you're willing to waltz
with me."
"Oh, well," he returned, sighing, "that's all
The orchestra flourished into "La Paloma"; he
put his arm mournfully about her, and taking her
right hand with his left, carried her arm out to a
rigid right angle, beginning to pump and balance
for time. They made three false starts and then
got away. Ariel danced badly; she hopped and
lost the step, but they persevered, bumping against
other couples continually. Circling breathlessly
into the next room, they passed close to a long
mirror, in which Ariel saw herself, although in a
flash, more bitterly contrasted to the others than
in the cheval-glass of the dressing-room. The
clump of roses was flopping about her neck, her
crimped hair looked frowzy, and there was something
terribly wrong about her dress. Suddenly
she felt her train to be ominously grotesque, as a
thing following her in a nightmare.
A moment later she caught her partner making a
burlesque face of suffering over her shoulder, and,
turning her head quickly, saw for whose benefit
he had constructed it. Eugene Bantry, flying
expertly by with Mamie, was bestowing upon Mr.
Flitcroft a condescendingly commiserative wink.
The next instant she tripped in her train and fell to
the floor at Eugene's feet, carrying her partner
with her.
There was a shout of laughter. The young
hostess stopped Eugene, who would have gone on,
and he had no choice but to stoop to Ariel's assistance.
"It seems to be a habit of mine," she said,
laughing loudly.
She did not appear to see the hand he offered,
but got to her feet without help and walked quickly
away with Norbert, who proceeded to live up to the
character he had given himself.
"Perhaps we had better not try it again," she
"Well, I should think not," he returned, with the
frankest gloom. With the air of conducting her
home he took her to the chair against the wall
whence he had brought her. There his responsibility
for her seemed to cease. "Will you excuse
me?" he asked, and there was no doubt that he
felt that he had been given more than his share
that evening, even though he was fat.
"Yes, indeed." Her laughter was continuous.
"I should think you WOULD be glad to get rid of me
after that. Ha, ha, ha! Poor Mr. Flitcroft, you
know you are!"
It was the deadly truth, and the fat one, saying,
"Well, if you'll just excuse me now," hurried
away with a step which grew lighter as the distance
from her increased. Arrived at the haven of a far
doorway, he mopped his brow and shook his head
grimly in response to frequent rallyings.
Ariel sat through more dances, interminable
dances and intermissions, in that same chair, in
which, it began to seem, she was to live out the rest
of her life. Now and then, if she thought people
were looking at her as they passed, she broke into a
laugh and nodded slightly, as if still amused over
her mishap.
After a long time she rose, and laughing cheerfully
to Mr. Flitcroft, who was standing in the
doorway and replied with a wan smile, stepped
out quickly into the hall, where she almost ran
into her great-uncle, Jonas Tabor. He was going
towards the big front doors with Judge Pike, having
just come out of the latter's library, down the
Jonas was breathing heavily and was shockingly
pale, though his eyes were very bright. He turned
his back upon his grandniece sharply and went out
of the door. Ariel turned from him quite as abruptly
and re-entered the room whence she had come.
She laughed again to her fat friend as she passed
him, and, still laughing, went towards the fatal
chair, when her eyes caught sight of Eugene Bantry
and Mamie coming in through the window from
the porch. Still laughing, she went to the window
and looked out; the porch seemed deserted and
was faintly illuminated by a few Japanese lanterns.
She sprang out, dropped upon the divan, and burying
her face in her hands, cried heart-brokenly.
Presently she felt something alive touch her foot,
and, her breath catching with alarm, she started
to rise. A thin hand, issuing from a shabby sleeve,
had stolen out between two of the green tubs and
was pressing upon one of her shoes.
"'SH!" said Joe. "Don't make a noise!"
His warning was not needed; she had recognized
the hand and sleeve instantly. She dropped back
with a low sound which would have been hysterical
if it had been louder, while he raised himself on
his arm until she could see his face dimly, as he
peered at her between the palms.
"What were you going on about?" he asked,
"Nothing," she answered. "I wasn't. You
must go away, and quick. It's too dangerous. If
the Judge found you--"
"He won't!"
"Ah, you'd risk anything to see Mamie Pike--"
"What were you crying about?" he interrupted.
"Nothing, I tell you!" she repeated, the tears
not ceasing to gather in her eyes. "I wasn't."
"I want to know what it was," he insisted.
"Didn't the fools ask you to dance? Ah! You
needn't tell me. That's it. I've been here for
the last three dances and you weren't in sight till
you came to the window. Well, what do you care
about that for?"
"I don't!" she answered. "I don't!" Then
suddenly, without being able to prevent it, she
"No," he said, gently, "I see you don't. And
you let yourself be a fool because there are a lot
of fools in there."
She gave way, all at once, to a gust of sorrow
and bitterness; she bent far over and caught his
hand and laid it against her wet cheek. "Oh,
Joe," she whispered, brokenly, "I think we have
such hard lives, you and I! It doesn't seem right
--while we're so young! Why can't we be like
the others? Why can't we have some of the fun?"
He withdrew his hand, with the embarrassment
and shame he would have felt had she been a boy.
"Get out!" he said, feebly.
She did not seem to notice, but, still stooping,
rested her elbows on her knees and her face in her
hands. "I try so hard to have fun, to be like the
rest,--and it's always a mistake, always, always,
always!" She rocked herself, slightly, from side
to side. "I am a fool, it's the truth, or I wouldn't
have come to-night. I want to be attractive--I
want to be in things. I want to laugh like they
"To laugh just to laugh, and not because there's
something funny?"
"Yes, I do, I do! And to know how to dress
and to wear my hair--there must be some place
where you can learn those things. I've never had
any one to show me! Ah! Grandfather said
something like that this afternoon--poor man!
We're in the same case. If we only had some one
to show us! It all seems so BLIND, here in Canaan,
for him and me! I don't say it's not my own
fault as much as being poor. I've been a hoyden;
I don't feel as if I'd learned how to be a girl yet,
Joe. It's only lately I've cared, but I'm seventeen,
Joe, and--and to-day--to-day--I was sent
home--and to-night--" She faltered, came to a
stop, and her whole body was shaken with sobs.
"I hate myself so for crying--for everything!"
"I'll tell you something," he whispered,
chuckling desperately. "'Gene made me unpack his trunk,
and I don't believe he's as great a man at college as
he is here. I opened one of his books, and some
one had written in it, `Prigamaloo Bantry, the Class
Try-To-Be'! He'd never noticed, and you ought
to have heard him go on! You'd have just died,
Ariel--I almost bust wide open! It was a mean
trick in me, but I couldn't help showing it to him."
Joe's object was obtained. She stopped crying,
and, wiping her eyes, smiled faintly. Then she
became grave. "You're jealous of Eugene," she
He considered this for a moment. "Yes," he
answered, thoughtfully, "I am. But I wouldn't
think about him differently on that account. And
I wouldn't talk about him to any one but you."
"Not even to--" She left the question unfinished.
"No," he said, quietly. "Of course not."
"No? Because it wouldn't be any use?"
"I don't know. I never have a chance to talk
to her, anyway."
"Of course you don't!" Her voice had grown
steady. "You say I'm a fool. What are you?"
"You needn't worry about me," he began. "I
can take care--"
"'SH!" she whispered, warningly. The music
had stopped, a loud clatter of voices and laughter
succeeding it.
"What need to be careful," Joe assured her,
"with all that noise going on?"
"You must go away," she said, anxiously. "Oh,
please, Joe!"
"Not yet; I want--"
She coughed loudly. Eugene and Mamie Pike
had come to the window, with the evident intention
of occupying the veranda, but perceiving Ariel
engaged with threads in her sleeve, they turned away
and disappeared. Other couples looked out from
time to time, and finding the solitary figure in
possession, retreated abruptly to seek stairways and
remote corners for the things they were impelled
to say.
And so Ariel held the porch for three dances and
three intermissions, occupying a great part of the
time with entreaties that her obdurate and reckless
companion should go. When, for the fourth
time, the music sounded, her agitation had so
increased that she was visibly trembling. "I
can't stand it, Joe," she said, bending over him.
"I don't know what would happen if they found
you. You've GOT to go!"
"No, I haven't," he chuckled. "They haven't
even distributed the supper yet!"
"And you take all the chances," she said, slowly,
"just to see her pass that window a few times."
"What chances?"
"Of what the Judge will do if any one sees
"Nothing; because if any one saw me I'd leave."
"Please go."
"Not till--"
A colored waiter, smiling graciously, came out
upon the porch bearing a tray of salad, hot oysters,
and coffee. Ariel shook her head.
"I don't want any," she murmured.
The waiter turned away in pity and was reentering
the window, when a passionate whisper
fell upon his ear as well as upon Ariel's.
"Ma'am?" said the waiter.
"I've changed my mind," she replied, quickly.
The waiter, his elation restored, gave of his viands
with the superfluous bounty loved by his race when
distributing the product of the wealthy.
When he had gone, "Give me everything that's
hot," said Joe. "You can keep the salad."
"I couldn't eat it or anything else," she
answered, thrusting the plate between the palms.
For a time there was silence. From within the
house came the continuous babble of voices and
laughter, the clink of cutlery on china. The young
people spent a long time over their supper. Byand-
by the waiter returned to the veranda,
deposited a plate of colored ices upon Ariel's knees
with a noble gesture, and departed.
"No ice for me," said Joe.
"Won't you please go now?" she entreated!
"It wouldn't be good manners," he responded.
"They might think I only came for supper--"
"Hand me back the things. The waiter might
come for them any minute."
"Not yet. I haven't quite finished. I eat with
contemplation, Ariel, because there's more than
the mere food and the warmth of it to consider.
There's the pleasure of being entertained by the
great Martin Pike. Think what a real kindness
I'm doing him, too. I increase his good deeds and
his hospitality without his knowing it or being
able to help it. Don't you see how I boost his
standing with the Recording Angel? If Lazarus
had behaved the way I do, Dives needn't have
had those worries that came to him in the afterlife."
"Give me the dish and coffee-cup," she
whispered, impatiently. "Suppose the waiter came
and had to look for them? Quick!"
"Take them, then. You'll see that jealousy
hasn't spoiled my appetite--"
A bottle-shaped figure appeared in the window
and she had no time to take the plate and cup
which were being pushed through the palm-leaves.
She whispered a syllable of warning, and the dishes
were hurriedly withdrawn as Norbert Flitcroft,
wearing a solemn expression of injury, came out
upon the veranda.
He halted suddenly. "What's that?" he asked,
with suspicion.
"Nothing," answered Ariel, sharply. "Where?"
"Behind those palms."
"Probably your own shadow," she laughed; "or
it might have been a draught moving the leaves."
He did not seem satisfied, but stared hard at
the spot where the dishes had disappeared, meantime
edging back cautiously nearer the window.
"They want you," he said, after a pause. "Some
one's come for you."
"Oh, is grandfather waiting?" She rose, at
the same time letting her handkerchief fall. She
stooped to pick it up, with her face away from
Norbert and towards the palms, whispering
tremulously, but with passionate urgency, "Please GO!"
"It isn't your grandfather that has come for
you," said the fat one, slowly. "It is old Eskew
Arp. Something's happened."
She looked at him for a moment, beginning to
tremble violently, her eyes growing wide with
"Is my grandfather--is he sick?"
"You better go and see. Old Eskew's waiting
in the hall. He'll tell you."
She was by him and through the window instantly.
Norbert did not follow her; he remained
for several moments looking earnestly at the palms;
then he stepped through the window and beckoned
to a youth who was lounging in the doorway across
the room.
"There's somebody hiding behind those plants,"
he whispered, when his friend reached him. "Go
and tell Judge Pike to send some of the niggers
to watch outside the porch, so that he doesn't get
away. Then tell him to get his revolver and come
Meanwhile Ariel had found Mr. Arp waiting in
the hall, talking in a low voice to Mrs. Pike.
"Your grandfather's all right," he told the
frightened girl, quickly. "He sent me for you,
that's all. Just hurry and get your things."
She was with him again in a moment, and seizing
the old man's arm, hurried him down the steps and
toward the street almost at a run.
"You're not telling me the truth," she said.
"You're not telling me the truth!"
"Nothing has happened to Roger," panted Mr.
Arp. "Nothing to mind, I mean. Here! We're
going this way, not that." They had come to the
gate, and as she turned to the right he pulled her
round sharply to the left. "We're not going to
your house."
"Where are we going?"
"We're going to your uncle Jonas's."
"Why?" she cried, in supreme astonishment.
"What do you want to take me there for? Don't
you know that he's stopped speaking to me?"
"Yes," said the old man, grimly, with something
of the look he wore when delivering a clincher at
the "National House,"--"he's stopped speaking to
The Canaan Daily Tocsin of the following
morning "ventured the assertion"
upon its front page that
"the scene at the Pike Mansion was
one of unalloyed festivity, music,
and mirth; a fairy bower of airy figures wafting
here and there to the throb of waltz-strains; a
veritable Temple of Terpsichore, shining forth with
a myriad of lights, which, together with the generous
profusion of floral decorations and the mingled
delights afforded by Minds's orchestra of Indianapolis
and Caterer Jones of Chicago, was in all
likelihood never heretofore surpassed in elegance
in our city. . . . Only one incident," the Tocsin
remarked, "marred an otherwise perfect occasion,
and out of regard for the culprit's family connections,
which are prominent in our social world, we
withhold his name. Suffice it to say that through
the vigilance of Mr. Norbert Flitcroft, grandson of
Colonel A. A. Flitcroft, who proved himself a
thorough Lecoq (the celebrated French detective), the
rascal was seized and recognized. Mr. Flitcroft,
having discovered him in hiding, had a cordon of
waiters drawn up around his hiding-place, which
was the charmingly decorated side piazza of the
Pike Mansion, and sent for Judge Pike, who came
upon the intruder by surprise. He evaded the
Judge's indignant grasp, but received a wellmerited
blow over the head from a poker which
the Judge had concealed about his person while
pretending to approach the hiding-place casually.
Attracted to the scene by the cries of Mr. Flitcroft,
who, standing behind Judge Pike, accidentally
received a blow from the same weapon, all the guests
of the evening sprang to view the scene, only to
behold the culprit leap through a crevice between
the strips of canvas which enclosed the piazza.
He was seized by the colored coachman of the
Mansion, Sam Warden, and immediately pounced upon
by the cordon of Caterer Jones's dusky assistants
from Chicago, who were in ambush outside.
Unfortunately, after a brief struggle he managed to
trip Warden, and, the others stumbling upon the
prostrate body of the latter, to make his escape
in the darkness.
"It is not believed by many that his intention
was burglary, though what his designs were can
only be left to conjecture, as he is far beyond the
age when boys perform such actions out of a sense
of mischief. He had evidently occupied his hidingplace
some time, and an idea of his coolness
may be obtained from his having procured and
eaten a full meal through an unknown source.
Judge Pike is justly incensed, and swears that he
will prosecute him on this and other charges as soon
as he can be found. Much sympathy is felt for
the culprit's family, who feel his shame most
keenly, but who, though sorrowing over the occurrence,
declare that they have put up with his
derelictions long enough, and will do nothing to
step between him and the Judge's righteous indignation."
The Pike Mansion, "scene of festivity, music,
and mirth" (not quite so unalloyed, after all, the
stricken Flitcroft keeping his room for a week under
medical supervision), had not been the only bower
of the dance in Canaan that evening: another
Temple of Terpsichore had shone forth with lights,
though of these there were not quite a myriad.
The festivities they illumined obtained no mention
in the paper, nor did they who trod the measures
in this second temple exhibit any sense of injury
because of the Tocsin's omission. Nay, they were
of that class, shy without being bashful, exclusive
yet not proud, which shuns publicity with a singleheartedness
almost unique in our republic, courting
observation neither in the prosecution of their
professions nor in the pursuit of happiness.
Not quite a mile above the northernmost of the
factories on the water-front, there projected into
the river, near the end of the crescent bend above
the town, a long pier, relic of steamboat days,
rotting now, and many years fallen from its maritime
uses. About midway of its length stood a
huge, crazy shed, long ago utilized as a freight
storeroom. This had been patched and propped, and
a dangerous-looking veranda attached to it, overhanging
the water. Above the doorway was
placed a sign whereon might be read the words,
"Beaver Beach, Mike's Place." The shore end
of the pier was so ruinous that passage was offered
by a single row of planks, which presented an
appearance so temporary, as well as insecure, that
one might have guessed their office to be something
in the nature of a drawbridge. From these a
narrow path ran through a marsh, left by the
receding river, to a country road of desolate
appearance. Here there was a rough enclosure, or
corral, with some tumble-down sheds which afforded
shelter, on the night of Joseph Louden's disgrace,
for a number of shaggy teams attached to those
decrepit and musty vehicles known picturesquely
and accurately as Night-Hawks. The presence of
such questionable shapes in the corral indicated
that the dance was on at Beaver Beach, Mike's
Place, as surely as the short line of cabs and family
carriages on upper Main Street made it known
that gayety was the order of the night at the Pike
Mansion. But among other differences was this,
that at the hour when the guests of the latter were
leaving, those seeking the hospitalities of Beaver
Beach had just begun to arrive.
By three o'clock, however, joy at Mike's Place
had become beyond question unconfined, and the
tokens of it were audible for a long distance in all
directions. If, however, there is no sound where
no ear hears, silence rested upon the country-side
until an hour later. Then a lonely figure came
shivering from the direction of the town, not by
the road, but slinking through the snow upon the
frozen river. It came slowly, as though very
tired, and cautiously, too, often turning its head
to look behind. Finally it reached the pier, and
stopped as if to listen.
Within the house above, a piano of evil life was
being beaten to death for its sins and clamoring
its last cries horribly. The old shed rattled in every
part with the thud of many heavy feet, and trembled
with the shock of noise--an incessant roar of
men's voices, punctuated with women's screams.
Then the riot quieted somewhat; there was a
clapping of hands, and a violin began to squeak
measures intended to be Oriental. The next
moment the listener scrambled up one of the
rotting piles and stood upon the veranda. A shaft
of red light through a broken shutter struck across
the figure above the shoulders, revealing a bloody
handkerchief clumsily knotted about the head,
and, beneath it, the face of Joe Louden.
He went to the broken shutter and looked in.
Around the blackened walls of the room stood a
bleared mob, applausively watching, through a fog
of smoke, the contortions of an old woman in a
red calico wrapper, who was dancing in the centre
of the floor. The fiddler--a rubicund person
evidently not suffering from any great depression
of spirit through the circumstance of being "out
on bail," as he was, to Joe's intimate knowledge--
sat astride a barrel, resting his instrument upon the
foamy tap thereof, and playing somewhat after
the manner of a 'cellist; in no wise incommoded
by the fact that a tall man (known to a few friends
as an expert in the porch-climbing line) was sleeping
on his shoulder, while another gentleman (who
had prevented many cases of typhoid by removing
old plumbing from houses) lay on the floor at the
musician's feet and endeavored to assist him by
plucking the strings of the fiddle.
Joe opened the door and went in. All of the
merry company (who were able) turned sharply
toward the door as it opened; then, recognizing
the new-comer, turned again to watch the old
woman. One or two nearest the door asked the
boy, without great curiosity, what had happened
to his head. He merely shook it faintly in reply,
and crossed the room to an open hallway beyond.
At the end of this he came to a frowzy bedroom,
the door of which stood ajar. Seated at a deal
table, and working by a dim lamp with a broken
chimney, a close-cropped, red-bearded, red-haired
man in his shirt-sleeves was jabbing gloomily
at a column of figures scrawled in a dirty
ledger. He looked up as Joe appeared in the
doorway, and his eyes showed a slight surprise.
"I never thought ye had the temper to git
somebody to split yer head," said he. "Where'd ye
collect it?"
"Nowhere," Joe answered, dropping weakly on
the bed. "It doesn't amount to anything."
"Well, I'll take just a look fer myself," said the
red-bearded man, rising. "And I've no objection
to not knowin' how ye come by it. Ye've always
been the great one fer keepin' yer mysteries to
He unwound the handkerchief and removed it
from Joe's head gently. "WHEE!" he cried, as a
long gash was exposed over the forehead. "I
hope ye left a mark somewhere to pay a little on
the score o' this!"
Joe chuckled and dropped dizzily back upon the
pillow. "There was another who got something
like it," he gasped, feebly; "and, oh, Mike, I wish
you could have heard him going on! Perhaps
you did--it was only three miles from here."
"Nothing I'd liked better!" said the other,
bringing a basin of clear water from a stand in
the corner. "It's a beautiful thing to hear a man
holler when he gits a grand one like ye're wearing
He bathed the wound gently, and hurrying from
the room, returned immediately with a small jug
of vinegar. Wetting a rag with this tender fluid,
he applied it to Joe's head, speaking soothingly
the while.
"Nothing in the world like a bit o' good cider
vinegar to keep off the festerin'. It may seem a
trifle scratchy fer the moment, but it assassinates
the blood-p'ison. There ye go! It's the fine thing
fer ye, Joe--what are ye squirmin' about?"
"I'm only enjoying it," the boy answered, writhing
as the vinegar worked into the gash. "Don't
you mind my laughing to myself."
"Ye're a good one, Joe!" said the other, continuing
his ministrations. "I wisht, after all, ye
felt like makin' me known to what's the trouble.
There's some of us would be glad to take it up fer
ye, and--"
"No, no; it's all right. I was somewhere I had
no business to be, and I got caught."
"Who caught ye?"
"First, some nice white people"--Joe smiled
his distorted smile--"and then a low-down black
man helped me to get away as soon as he saw who
it was. He's a friend of mine, and he fell down
and tripped up the pursuit."
"I always knew ye'd git into large trouble some
day." The red-bearded man tore a strip from
an old towel and began to bandage the boy's head
with an accustomed hand. "Yer taste fer excitement
has been growin' on ye every minute of the
four years I've known ye."
"Excitement!" echoed Joe, painfully blinking
at his friend. "Do you think I'm hunting excitement?"
"Be hanged to ye!" said the red-bearded man.
"Can't I say a teasing word without gittin' called
to order fer it? I know ye, my boy, as well as ye
know yerself. Ye're a queer one. Ye're one of
the few that must know all sides of the world--
and can't content themselves with bein' respectable!
Ye haven't sunk to `low life' because ye're
low yourself, but ye'll never git a damned one o'
the respectable to believe it. There's a few others
like ye in the wide world, and I've seen one or
two of 'em. I've been all over, steeple-chasin',
sailorman, soldier, pedler, and in the PO-lice; I've
pulled the Grand National in Paris, and I've been
handcuffed in Hong-Kong; I've seen all the few
kinds of women there is on earth and the many
kinds of men. Yer own kind is the one I've seen
the fewest of, but I knew ye belonged to it the
first time I laid eyes on ye!" He paused, then
continued with conviction: "Ye'll come to no
good, either, fer yerself, yet no one can say ye
haven't the talents. Ye've helped many of the
boys out of a bad hole with a word of advice
around the courts and the jail. Who knows but
ye'd be a great lawyer if ye kept on?"
Young people usually like to discuss themselves
under any conditions--hence the rewards of palmistry,--
but Joe's comment on this harangue was
not so responsive as might have been expected.
"I've got seven dollars," he said, "and I'll leave
the clothes I've got on. Can you fix me up with
something different?"
"Aha!" cried the red-bearded man. "Then ye
ARE in trouble! I thought it 'd come to ye some
day! Have ye been dinnymitin' Martin Pike?"
"See what you can do," said Joe. "I want to
wait here until daybreak."
"Lie down, then," interrupted the other. "And
fergit the hullabaloo in the throne-room beyond."
"I can easily do that"--Joe stretched himself
upon the bed,--"I've got so many other things
to remember"
"I'll have the things fer ye, and I'll let ye know
I have no use fer seven dollars," returned the redbearded
man, crossly. "What are ye sniffin' fer?"
"I'm thinking of the poor fellow that got the
mate to this," said Joe, touching the bandage.
"I can't help crying when I think they may have
used vinegar on his head, too."
"Git to sleep if ye can!" exclaimed the Samaritan,
as a hideous burst of noise came from the danceroom,
where some one seemed to be breaking a
chair upon an acquaintance. "I'll go out and
regulate the boys a bit." He turned down the
lamp, fumbled in his hip-pocket, and went to the
"Don't forget," Joe called after him.
"Go to sleep," said the red-bearded man, his
hand on the door-knob. "That is, go to thinkin',
fer ye won't sleep; ye're not the kind. But think
easy; I'll have the things fer ye. It's a matter of
pride with me that I always knew ye'd come to
The day broke with a scream of wind
out of the prairies and such cloudbursts
of snow that Joe could see
neither bank of the river as he made
his way down the big bend of ice.
The wind struck so bitterly that now and then
he stopped and, panting and gasping, leaned his
weight against it. The snow on the ground was
caught up and flew like sea spume in a hurricane;
it swirled about him, joining the flakes in the air,
so that it seemed to be snowing from the ground
upward as much as from the sky downward.
Fierce as it was, hard as it was to fight through,
snow from the earth, snow from the sky, Joe was
grateful for it, feeling that it veiled him, making
him safer, though he trusted somewhat the change
of costume he had effected at Beaver Beach. A
rough, workman's cap was pulled down over his
ears and eyebrows; a knitted comforter was wound
about the lower part of his face; under a ragged
overcoat he wore blue overalls and rubber boots;
and in one of his red-mittened hands he swung a
tin dinner-bucket.
When he reached the nearest of the factories he
heard the exhaust of its engines long before he
could see the building, so blinding was the drift.
Here he struck inland from the river, and, skirting
the edges of the town, made his way by unfrequented
streets and alleys, bearing in the general
direction of upper Main Street, to find himself at
last, almost exhausted, in the alley behind the
Pike Mansion. There he paused, leaning heavily
against a board fence and gazing at the vaguely
outlined gray plane which was all that could be
made of the house through the blizzard. He had
often, very often, stood in this same place at night,
and there was one window (Mrs. Pike's) which he
had guessed to be Mamie's.
The storm was so thick that he could not see
this window now, but he looked a long time through
the thickness at that part of the gray plane where
he knew it was. Then his lips parted.
"Good-bye, Mamie," he said, softly.
"Goodbye, Mamie."
He bent his body against the wind and went on,
still keeping to the back ways, until he came to
the alley which passed behind his own home,
where, however, he paused only for a moment to
make a quick survey of the premises. A glance
satisfied him; he ran to the next fence, hoisted
himself wearily over it, and dropped into Roger
Tabor's back yard.
He took shelter from the wind for a moment or
two, leaning against the fence, breathing heavily;
then he stumbled on across the obliterated paths
of a vegetable-garden until he reached the house,
and beginning with the kitchen, began to make
the circuit of the windows, peering cautiously into
each as he went, ready to tap on the pane should
he catch a glimpse of Ariel, and prepared to run if
he stumbled upon her grandfather. But the place
seemed empty: he had made his reconnaisance
apparently in vain, and was on the point of going
away, when he heard the click of the front gate
and saw Ariel coming towards him, her old waterproof
cloak about her head and shoulders, the
patched, scant, faded skirt, which he knew so
well, blowing about her tumultuously. At the
sound of the gate he had crouched close against
the side of the house, but she saw him at once.
She stopped abruptly, and throwing the waterproof
back from her head, looked at him through
the driven fog of snow. One of her hands was
stretched towards him involuntarily, and it was
in that attitude that he long remembered her:
standing in the drift which had piled up against
the gate almost knee-deep, the shabby skirt and
the black water-proof flapping like torn sails, one
hand out-stretched like that of a figure in a
tableau, her brown face with its thin features mottled
with cold and unlovely, her startled eyes fixed
on him with a strange, wild tenderness that held
something of the laughter of whole companionship
in it mingling with a loyalty and championship
that was almost ferocious--she looked an Undine
of the snow.
Suddenly she ran to him, still keeping her hand
out-stretched until it touched his own.
"How did you know me?" he said.
"Know you!" was all the answer she made to
that question. "Come into the house. I've got
some coffee on the stove for you. I've been up
and down the street waiting for you ever since it
began to get light."
"Your grandfather won't--"
"He's at Uncle Jonas's; he won't be back till
noon. There's no one here."
She led him to the front-door, where he stamped
and shook himself; he was snow from head to foot.
"I'm running away from the good Gomorrah,"
he said, "but I've stopped to look back, and I'm a
pretty white pillar."
"I know where you stopped to look back," she
answered, brushing him heartily with her red
hands. "You came in the alley way. It was
Mamie's window."
He did not reply, and the only visible token
that he had any consciousness of this clairvoyance
of hers was a slight lift of his higher eyebrow.
She wasted no time in getting him to the kitchen,
where, when she had removed his overcoat, she
placed him in a chair, unwound the comforter, and,
as carefully as a nurse, lifted the cap from his
injured head. When the strip of towel was disclosed
she stood quite still for a moment with the cap in
her hand; then with a broken little cry she stooped
and kissed a lock of his hair, which escaped, discolored,
beneath the bandage.
"Stop that!" he commanded, horribly embarrassed.
"Oh, Joe," she cried, "I knew! I knew it was
there--but to SEE it! And it's my fault for leaving
you--I HAD to go or I wouldn't have--I--"
"Where'd you hear about it?" he asked, shortly.
"I haven't been to bed," she answered. "Grandfather
and I were up all night at Uncle Jonas's, and
Colonel Flitcroft came about two o'clock, and he
told us."
"Did he tell you about Norbert?"
"Yes--a great deal." She poured coffee into a
cup from a pot on the stove, brought it to him,
then placing some thin slices of bread upon a gridiron,
began to toast them over the hot coals. "The
Colonel said that Norbert thought he wouldn't get
well," she concluded; "and Mr. Arp said Norbert
was the kind that never die, and they had quite
an argument."
"What were you doing at Jonas Tabor's?" asked
Joe, drinking his coffee with a brightening eye.
"We were sent for," she answered.
"What for?"
She toasted the bread attentively without
replying, and when she decided that it was brown
enough, piled it on a warm plate. This she brought
to him, and kneeling in front of him, her elbow on
his knee, offered for his consideration, looking
steadfastly up at his eyes. He began to eat ravenously.
"What for?" he repeated. "I didn't suppose
Jonas would let you come in his house. Was he
"Joe," she said, quietly, disregarding his
questions---"Joe, have you GOT to run away?"
"Yes, I've got to," he answered.
"Would you have to go to prison if you stayed?"
She asked this with a breathless tensity.
"I'm not going to beg father to help me out,"
he said, determinedly. "He said he wouldn't,
and he'll be spared the chance. He won't mind
that; nobody will care! Nobody! What does anybody
care what _I_ do!"
"Now you're thinking of Mamie!" she cried.
"I can always tell. Whenever you don't talk
naturally you're thinking of her!"
He poured down the last of the coffee, growing
red to the tips of his ears. "Ariel," he said, "if I
ever come back--"
"Wait," she interrupted. "Would you have to
go to prison right away if they caught you?"
"Oh, it isn't that," he laughed, sadly. "But
I'm going to clear out. I'm not going to take any
chances. I want to see other parts of the world,
other kinds of people. I might have gone, anyhow,
soon, even if it hadn't been for last night. Don't
you ever feel that way?"
"You know I do," she said. "I've told you--
how often! But, Joe, Joe,--you haven't any
MONEY! You've got to have money to LIVE!"
"You needn't worry about that," returned the
master of seven dollars, genially. "I've saved
enough to take care of me for a LONG time."
"Joe, PLEASE! I know it isn't so. If you could
wait just a little while--only a few weeks,--only a
FEW, Joe--"
"What for?"
"I could let you have all you want. It would
be such a beautiful thing for me, Joe. Oh, I know
how you'd feel; you wouldn't even let me give you
that dollar I found in the street last year; but this
would be only lending it to you, and you could pay
me back sometime--"
"Ariel!" he exclaimed, and, setting his empty
cup upon the floor, took her by the shoulders and
shook her till the empty plate which had held the
toast dropped from her hand and broke into
fragments. "You've been reading the Arabian Nights! "
"No, no," she cried, vehemently. "Grandfather
would give me anything. He'll give me all the
money I ask for!"
"Money!" said Joe. "Which of us is wandering?
MONEY? Roger Tabor give you MONEY?"
"Not for a while. A great many things have
to be settled first."
"What things?"
"Joe," she asked, earnestly, "do you think it's
bad of me not to feel things I OUGHT to feel?"
"Then I'm glad," she said, and something in
the way she spoke made him start with pain,
remembering the same words, spoken in the same
tone, by another voice, the night before on the
veranda. "I'm glad, Joe, because I seemed all
wrong to myself. Uncle Jonas died last night,
and I haven't been able to get sorry. Perhaps
it's because I've been so frightened about you,
but I think not, for I wasn't sorry even before
Colonel Flitcroft told me about you."
"Jonas Tabor dead!" said Joe. "Why, I saw
him on the street yesterday!"
"Yes, and I saw him just before I came out on
the porch where you were. He was there in the
hall; he and Judge Pike had been having a long
talk; they'd been in some speculations together,
and it had all turned out well. It's very strange,
but they say now that Uncle Jonas's heart was
weak--he was an old man, you know, almost
eighty,--and he'd been very anxious about his
money. The Judge had persuaded him to risk it;
and the shock of finding that he'd made a great
deal suddenly--"
"I've heard he'd had that same shock before,"
said Joe, "when he sold out to your father."
"Yes, but this was different, grandfather says.
He told me it was in one of those big risky
businesses that Judge Pike likes to go into. And last
night it was all finished, the strain was over, and
Uncle Jonas started home. His house is only a
little way from the Pikes', you know; but he
dropped down in the snow at his own gate, and
some people who were going by saw him fall. He
was dead before grandfather got there."
"I can't be sorry," said Joe, slowly.
"Neither can I. That's the dreadful part of it!
They say he hadn't made a will, that though he
was sharper than anybody else in the whole world
about any other matter of business, that was the
one thing he put off. And we're all the kin he had
in the world, grandfather and I. And they say"--
her voice sank to a whisper of excitement--"they
say he was richer than anybody knew, and that
this last business with Judge Pike, the very thing
that killed him--something about grain--made
him five times richer than before!"
She put her hand on the boy's arm, and he let
it remain there. Her eyes still sought his with
a tremulous appeal.
"God bless you, Ariel!" he said. "It's going
to be a great thing for you."
"Yes. Yes, it is." The tears came suddenly
to her eyes. "I was foolish last night, but there
had been such a long time of WANTING things; and
now--and now grandfather and I can go--"
"You're going, too!" Joe chuckled.
"It's heartless, I suppose, but I've settled it!
We're going--"
"_I_ know," he cried. "You've told me a thousand
times what HE'S said ten times a thousand.
You're going to Paris!"
"Paris! Yes, that's it. To Paris, where he
can see at last how the great ones have painted,--
where the others can show him! To Paris, where
we can study together, where he can learn how to
put the pictures he sees upon canvas, and where
"Go on," Joe encouraged her. "I want to hear
you say it. You don't mean that you're going to
study painting; you mean that you're going to
learn how to make such fellows as Eugene ask you
to dance. Go ahead and SAY it!"
"Yes--to learn how to DRESS!" she said.
Joe was silent for a moment. Then he rose and
took the ragged overcoat from the back of his
chair. "Where's that muffler?" he asked.
She brought it from where she had placed it to
dry, behind the stove.
"Joe," she said, huskily, "can't you wait till--"
"Till the estate is settled and you can coax your
grandfather to--"
"No, no! But you could go with us."
"To Paris?"
"He would take you as his secretary."
"Aha!" Joe's voice rang out gayly as he rose,
refreshed by the coffee, toast, and warmth she had
given him. "You've been story-reading, Ariel,
like Eugene! `Secretary'!"
"Please, Joe!"
"Where's my tin dinner-pail?" He found it
himself upon the table where he had set it down.
"I'm going to earn a dishonest living," he went
on. "I have an engagement to take a freight at
a water-tank that's a friend of mine, half a mile
south of the yards. Thank God, I'm going to get
away from Canaan!"
"Wait, Joe!" She caught at his sleeve. "I
want you to--"
He had swung out of the room and was already
at the front-door. She followed him closely.
"Good-bye, Ariel!"
"No, no! WAIT, Joe!"
He took her right hand in his own, and gave it
a manly shake. "It's all right," he said.
He threw open the door and stepped out, but
she sought to detain him. "Oh, have you GOT to
go?" she cried.
"Don't you ever worry about me." He bent
his head to the storm as he sprang down the steps,
and snow-wreaths swirled between them.
He disappeared in a white whirlwind.
She stood for several minutes shivering in the
doorway. Then it came to her that she would not
know where to write to him. She ran down to
the gate and through it. Already the blizzard
had covered his footprints.
The passing of Joseph from Canaan
was complete. It was an evanishment
for which there was neither
sackcloth nor surprise; and though
there came no news of him it cannot
be said that Canaan did not hear of him, for
surely it could hear itself talk. The death of
Jonas Tabor and young Louden's crime and flight
incited high doings in the "National House"
windows; many days the sages lingered with the
broken meats of morals left over from the banquet
of gossip. But, after all, it is with the ladies of a
community that reputations finally rest, and the
matrons of Canaan had long ago made Joe's
exceedingly uncertain. Now they made it certain.
They did not fail of assistance. The most
powerful influence in the town was ponderously
corroborative: Martin Pike, who stood for all that
was respectable and financial, who passed the plate
o' Sundays, who held the fortunes of the town in
his left hand, who was trustee for the widow and
orphan,--Martin Pike, patron of all worthy charities,
courted by ministers, feared by the wicked
and idle, revered by the good,--Judge Martin Pike
never referred to the runaway save in the accents
of an august doomster. His testimony settled it.
In time the precise nature of the fugitive's sins
was distorted in report and grew vague; it was
recalled that he had done dread things; he became
a tradition, a legend, and a warning to the young;
a Richard in the bush to frighten colts. He was
preached at boys caught playing marbles "for
keeps": "Do you want to grow up like Joe Louden?"
The very name became a darkling threat,
and children of the town would have run had one
called suddenly, "HERE COMES JOE LOUDEN!" Thus
does the evil men do live after them, and the illfame
of the unrighteous increase when they are
Very little of Joseph's adventures and occupations
during the time of his wandering is revealed
to us; he always had an unwilling memory for pain
and was not afterwards wont to speak of those
years which cut the hard lines in his face. The
first account of him to reach Canaan came as
directly to the windows of the "National House"
as Mr. Arp, hastening thither from the station,
satchel in hand, could bring it.
This was on a September morning, two years
after the flight, and Eskew, it appears, had been
to the State Fair and had beheld many things
strangely affirming his constant testimony that
this unhappy world increaseth in sin; strangest of
all, his meeting with our vagrant scalawag of
Canaan. "Not a BLAMEBIT of doubt about it,"
declared Eskew to the incredulous conclave. "There
was that Joe, and nobody else, stuck up in a little
box outside a tent at the Fair Grounds, and sellin'
tickets to see the Spotted Wild Boy!" Yes, it was
Joe Louden! Think you, Mr. Arp could forget
that face, those crooked eyebrows? Had Eskew
tested the recognition? Had he spoken with the
outcast? Had he not! Ay, but with such
peculiar result that the battle of words among the
sages began with a true onset of the regulars; for,
according to Eskew's narrative, when he had
delivered grimly at the boy this charge, "I know you
--YOU'RE JOE LOUDEN!" the extraordinary reply had
been made promptly and without change of
On this, the house divided, one party
maintaining that Joe had thus endeavored to evade
recognition, the other (to the embitterment of Mr.
Arp) that the reply was a distinct admission of
identity and at the same time a refusal to grant
any favors on the score of past acquaintanceship.
Goaded by inquiries, Mr. Arp, who had little desire
to recall such waste of silver, admitted more than
he had intended: that he had purchased a ticket
and gone in to see the Spotted Wild Boy, halting
in his description of this marvel with the unsatisfactory
and acrid statement that the Wild Boy was
"simply SPOTTED,"--and the stung query, "I suppose
you know what a spot IS, Squire?" When he came
out of the tent he had narrowly examined the
ticket-seller,--who seemed unaware of his scrutiny,
and, when not engaged with his tickets, applied
himself to a dirty law-looking book. It was
Joseph Louden, reasserted Eskew, a little taller, a
little paler, incredibly shabby and miraculously
thin. If there were any doubt left, his forehead
was somewhat disfigured by the scar of an old
wound--such as might have been caused by a
blunt instrument in the nature of a poker.
"What's the matter with YOU?" Mr. Arp
whirled upon Uncle Joe Davey, who was enjoying
himself by repeating at intervals the unreasonable
words, "Couldn't of be'n Joe," without any
explanation. "Why couldn't it?" shouted Eskew.
"It was! Do you think my eyes are as fur gone
as yours? I saw him, I tell you! The same ornery
Joe Louden, run away and sellin' tickets for a sideshow.
He wasn't even the boss of it; the manager
was about the meanest-lookin' human I ever saw
--and most humans look mighty mean, accordin'
to my way of thinkin'! Riffraff of the riffraff are
his friends now, same as they were here. Weeds!
and HE'S a weed, always was and always will be!
Him and his kind ain't any more than jimpsons;
overrun everything if you give 'em a chance.
Devil-flowers! They have to be hoed out and
scattered--even then, like as not, they'll come
back next year and ruin your plantin' once more.
That boy Joe 'll turn up here again some day;
you'll see if he don't. He's a seed of trouble and
iniquity, and anything of that kind is sure to come
back to Canaan!"
Mr. Arp stuck to his prediction for several
months; then he began to waver and evade. By
the end of the second year following its first utterance,
he had formed the habit of denying that he
had ever made it at all, and, finally having come
to believe with all his heart that the prophecy had
been deliberately foisted upon him and put in his
mouth by Squire Buckalew, became so sore upon
the subject that even the hardiest dared not refer
to it in his presence.
Eskew's story of the ticket-seller was the only
news of Joe Louden that came to Canaan during
seven years. Another citizen of the town encountered
the wanderer, however, but under circumstances
so susceptible to misconception that, in a
moment of illumination, he decided to let the matter
rest in a golden silence. This was Mr. Bantry.
Having elected an elaborate course in the Arts,
at the University which was of his possessions,
what more natural than that Eugene should seek
the Metropolis for the short Easter vacation of
his Senior year, in order that his perusal of the
Masters should be uninterrupted? But it was his
misfortune to find the Metropolitan Museum less
interesting than some intricate phases of the gayety
of New York--phases very difficult to understand
without elaborate study and a series of experiments
which the discreetly selfish permit others to make
for them. Briefly, Eugene found himself dancing,
one night, with a young person in a big hat, at the
"Straw-Cellar," a crowded hall, down very deep
in the town and not at all the place for Eugene.
Acute crises are to be expected at the "Straw-
Cellar," and Eugene was the only one present who
was thoroughly surprised when that of this night
arrived, though all of the merrymakers were
frightened when they perceived its extent. There
is no need to detail the catastrophe. It came
suddenly, and the knife did not flash. Sick and thinking
of himself, Eugene stood staring at the figure
lying before him upon the reddening floor. A rabble
fought with the quick policemen at the doors,
and then the lights went out, extinguished by the
proprietor, living up to his reputation for always
being thoughtful of his patrons. The place had
been a nightmare; it became a black impossibility.
Eugene staggered to one of the open windows, from
the sill of which a man had just leaped.
"Don't jump," said a voice close to his ear.
"That fellow broke his leg, I think, and they
caught him, anyway, as soon as he struck the
pavement. It's a big raid. Come this way."
A light hand fell upon his arm and he followed
its leading, blindly, to find himself pushed through
a narrow doorway and down a flight of tricky,
wooden steps, at the foot of which, silhouetted
against a street light, a tall policeman was on guard.
He laid masterful hands on Eugene.
"'SH, Mack!" whispered a cautious voice from
the stairway. "That's a friend of mine and not
one of those you need. He's only a student and
scared to death."
"Hurry," said the policeman, under his breath,
twisting Eugene sharply by him into the street;
after which he stormed vehemently: "On yer way,
both of ye! Move on up the street! Don't be
tryin' to poke yer heads in here! Ye'd be more
anxious to git out, once ye got in, I tell ye!"
A sob of relief came from Bantry as he gained
the next corner, the slight figure of his conductor
at his side. "You'd better not go to places like
the `Straw-Cellar,' " said the latter, gravely. "I'd
been watching you for an hour. You were dancing
with the girl who did the cutting."
Eugene leaned against a wall, faint, one arm
across his face. He was too ill to see, or care, who
it was that had saved him. "I never saw her
before," he babbled, incoherently, "never, never,
never! I thought she looked handsome, and
asked her if she'd dance with me. Then I saw
she seemed queer--and wild, and she kept guiding
and pushing as we danced until we were near that
man--and then she--then it was all done--before--"
"Yes," said the other; "she's been threatening
to do it for a long time. Jealous. Mighty good
sort of a girl, though, in lots of ways. Only yesterday
I talked with her and almost thought I'd
calmed her out of it. But you can't tell with some
women. They'll brighten up and talk straight
and seem sensible, one minute, and promise to behave,
and mean it too, and the next, there they go,
making a scene, cutting somebody or killing
themselves! You can't count on them. But that's
not to the point, exactly, I expect. You'd better
keep away from the `Straw-Cellar.' If you'd been
caught with the rest you'd have had a hard time,
and they'd have found out your real name, too,
because it's pretty serious on account of your
dancing with her when she did it, and the Canaan
papers would have got hold of it and you
wouldn't be invited to Judge Pike's any more,
Eugene dropped his arm from his eyes and stared
into the face of his step-brother.
"Joe Louden!" he gasped.
"I'll never tell," said Joe. "You'd better keep
out of all this sort. You don't understand it, and
you don't--you don't do it because you care."
He smiled wanly, his odd distorted smile of
friendliness. "When you go back you might tell father
I'm all right. I'm working through a law-school
here--and remember me to Norbert Flitcroft," he
finished, with a chuckle.
Eugene covered his eyes again and groaned.
"It's all right," Joe assured him. "You're as
safe as if it had never happened. And I expect"
--he went on, thoughtfully--"I expect, maybe,
you'd prefer NOT to say you'd seen me, when you go
back to Canaan. Well, that's all right. I don't
suppose father will be asking after me--exactly."
"No, he doesn't," said Eugene, still white and
shaking. "Don't stand talking. I'm sick."
"Of course," returned Joe. "But there's one
thing I would like to ask you--"
"Your father's health is perfect, I believe."
"It--it--it was something else," Joe stammered,
pitifully. "Are they all--are they all--all right at
--at Judge Pike's?"
"Quite!" Eugene replied, sharply. "Are you going
to get me away from here? I'm sick, I tell you!"
"This street," said Joe, and cheerfully led the way.
Five minutes later the two had parted, and Joe
leaned against a cheap restaurant sign-board,
drearily staring after the lamps of the gypsy nightcab
he had found for his step-brother. Eugene
had not offered to share the vehicle with him, had
not even replied to his good-night.
And Joe himself had neglected to do something
he might well have done: he had not asked Eugene
for news of Ariel Tabor. It will not justify him
entirely to suppose that he assumed that her
grandfather and she had left Canaan never to
return, and therefore Eugene knew nothing of her;
no such explanation serves Joe for his neglect, for
the fair truth is that he had not thought of her.
She had been a sort of playmate, before his flight,
a friend taken for granted, about whom he had
consciously thought little more than he thought
about himself--and easily forgotten. Not forgotten
in the sense that she had passed out of his
memory, but forgotten none the less; she had
never had a place in his imaginings, and so it
befell that when he no longer saw her from day to
day, she had gone from his thoughts altogether.
Eugene did not inform Canaan, nor
any inhabitant, of his adventure of
"Straw-Cellar," nor did any hear
of his meeting with his step-brother;
and after Mr. Arp's adventure, five
years passed into the imperishable before the town
heard of the wanderer again, and then it heard at
first hand; Mr. Arp's prophecy fell true, and he
took it back to his bosom again, claimed it as his
own the morning of its fulfilment. Joe Louden
had come back to Canaan.
The elder Louden was the first to know of his
prodigal's return. He was alone in the office of
the wooden-butter-dish factory, of which he was
the superintendent, when the young man came in
unannounced. He was still pale and thin; his
eyebrows had the same crook, one corner of his
mouth the same droop; he was only an inch or so
taller, not enough to be thought a tall man; and
yet, for a few moments the father did not recognize
his son, but stared at him, inquiring his business.
During those few seconds of unrecognition, Mr.
Louden was somewhat favorably impressed with
the stranger's appearance.
"You don't know me," said Joe, smiling
cheerfully. "Perhaps I've changed in seven years."
And he held out his hand.
Then Mr. Louden knew; he tilted back in his
desk-chair, his mouth falling open. "Good God!"
he said, not noticing the out-stretched hand. "Have
YOU come back?"
Joe's hand fell.
"Yes, I've come back to Canaan."
Mr. Louden looked at him a long time without
replying; finally he remarked:
"I see you've still got a scar on your forehead."
"Oh, I've forgotten all about that," said the
other, twisting his hat in his hands. "Seven years
wipes out a good many grievances and wrongs."
"You think so?" Mr Louden grunted. "I suppose
it might wipe out a good deal with some people.
How'd you happen to stop off at Canaan?
On your way somewhere, I suppose."
"No, I've come back to stay."
Mr. Louden plainly received this as no pleasant
surprise. "What for?" he asked, slowly.
"To practise law, father."
"Yes," said the young man. "There ought to
be an opening here for me. I'm a graduate of as
good a law-school as there is in the country--"
"You are!"
"Certainly," said Joe, quietly. "I've put
myself through, working in the summer--"
"Working!" Mr. Louden snorted. "Side-shows?"
"Oh, worse than that, sometimes," returned his
son, laughing. "Anything I could get. But I've
always wanted to come back home and work here."
Mr. Louden leaned forward, a hand on each
knee, his brow deeply corrugated. "Do you think
you'll get much practice in Canaan?"
"Why not? I've had a year in a good office in
New York since I left the school, and I think I
ought to get along all right."
"Oh," said Mr. Louden, briefly. "You do?"
"Yes. Don't you?"
"Who do you think in Canaan would put a case
in your hands?"
"Oh, I don't expect to get anything important
at the start. But after a while "
"With your reputation?"
The smile which had faded from Joe's lips
returned to them. "Oh, I know they thought I
was a harum-scarum sort of boy," he answered
lightly, "and that it was a foolish thing to run
away for nothing; but you had said I mustn't come
to you for help--"
"I meant it," said Mr. Louden.
"But that's seven years ago, and I suppose the
town's forgotten all about it, and forgotten me,
too. So, you see, I can make a fresh start. That's
what I came back for."
"You've made up your mind to stay here, then?"
"I don't believe," said Mr. Louden, with marked
uneasiness, "that Mrs. Louden would be willing to
let you live with us."
"No," said Joe, gently. "I didn't expect it."
He turned to the window and looked out, averting
his face, yet scoring himself with the contempt
he had learned to feel for those who pity themselves.
His father had not even asked him to
sit down. There was a long silence, disturbed only
by Mr. Louden's breathing, which could be heard,
heavy and troubled.
At last Joe turned again, smiling as before.
"Well, I won't keep you from your work," he said.
"I suppose you're pretty busy--"
"Yes, I am," responded his father, promptly.
"But I'll see you again before you go. I want to
give you some advice."
"I'm not going," said Joe. "Not going to
leave Canaan, I mean. Where will I find Eugene?"
"At the Tocsin office; he's the assistant editor.
Judge Pike bought the Tocsin last year, and he
thinks a good deal of Eugene. Don't forget I said
to come to see me again before you go."
Joe came over to the older man and held out
his hand. "Shake hands, father," he said. Mr.
Louden looked at him out of small implacable
eyes, the steady hostility of which only his wife
or the imperious Martin Pike, his employer, could
quell. He shook his head.
"I don't see any use in it," he answered. "It
wouldn't mean anything. All my life I've been
a hard-working man and an abiding man. Before
you got in trouble you never did anything you
ought to; you ran with the lowest people in town,
and I and all your folks were ashamed of you. I
don't see that we've got a call to be any different
now." He swung round to his desk emphatically,
on the last word, and Joe turned away and went
out quietly.
But it was a bright morning to which he emerged
from the outer doors of the factory, and he made
his way towards Main Street at a lively gait. As he
turned the corner opposite the "National House,"
he walked into Mr. Eskew Arp. The old man
drew back angrily
"Lord 'a' mercy!" cried Joe, heartily. "It's
Mr. Arp! I almost ran you down!" Then, as
Mr. Arp made no response, but stood stock-still in
the way, staring at him fiercely, "Don't you know
me, Mr. Arp?" the young man asked. "I'm Joe
Eskew abruptly thrust his face close to the
other's. "NO FREE SEATS!" he hissed, savagely; and
swept across to the hotel to set his world afire.
Joe looked after the irate, receding figure, and
watched it disappear into the Main Street door of
the "National House." As the door closed, he
became aware of a mighty shadow upon the pavement,
and turning, beheld a fat young man, wearing
upon his forehead a scar similar to his own,
waddling by with eyes fixed upon him.
"How are you, Norbert?" Joe began. "Don't
you remember me? I--" He came to a full stop,
as the fat one, thrusting out an under lip as his
only token of recognition, passed balefully on.
Joe proceeded slowly until he came to the Tocsin
building. At the foot of the stairway leading up
to the offices he hesitated for a few moments; then
he turned away and walked towards the quieter
part of Main Street. Most of the people he met
took no notice of him, only two or three giving him
second glances of half-cognizance, as though he
reminded them of some one they could not place,
and it was not until he had come near the Pike
Mansion that he saw a full recognition in the eyes
of one of the many whom he knew, and who had
known him in his boyhood in the town. A lady,
turning a corner, looked up carelessly, and then
half-stopped within a few feet of him, as if startled.
Joe's cheeks went a sudden crimson; for it was the
lady of his old dreams.
Seven years had made Mamie Pike only prettier.
She had grown into her young womanhood with
an ampleness that had nothing of oversufficiency
in it, nor anywhere a threat that some day there
might be too much of her. Not quite seventeen
when he had last seen her, now, at twenty-four, her
amber hair elaborately becoming a plump and
regular face, all of her old charm came over him
once more, and it immediately seemed to him that
he saw clearly his real reason for coming back to
Canaan. She had been the Rich-Little-Girl of his
child days, the golden princess playing in the
Palace-Grounds, and in his early boyhood (until
he had grown wicked and shabby) he had been
sometimes invited to the Pike Mansion for the
games and ice-cream of the daughter of the house,
before her dancing days began. He had gone
timidly, not daring ever to "call" her in "Quaker
Meeting" or "Post-office," but watching her
reverently and surreptitiously and continually. She
had always seemed to him the one thing of all the
world most rare, most mysterious, most
unapproachable. She had not offered an apparition
less so in those days when he began to come under
the suspicion of Canaan, when the old people began
to look upon him hotly, the young people
coldly. His very exclusion wove for him a glamour
about her, and she was more than ever his moon,
far, lovely, unattainable, and brilliant, never to be
reached by his lifted arms, but only by his lifted
eyes. Nor had his long absence obliterated that
light; somewhere in his dreams it always had
place, shining, perhaps, with a fainter lustre as the
years grew to seven, but never gone altogether.
Now, at last, that he stood in her very presence
again, it sprang to the full flood of its old brilliance
--and more!
As she came to her half-stop of surprise, startled,
he took his courage in two hands, and, lifting his
hat, stepped to her side.
"You--you remember me?" he stammered.
"Yes," she answered, a little breathlessly.
"Ah, that's kind of you!" he cried, and began
to walk on with her, unconsciously. "I feel like a
returned ghost wandering about--invisible and
unrecognized. So few people seem to remember me!"
"I think you are wrong. I think you'll find
everybody remembers you," she responded, uneasily.
"No, I'm afraid not," he began. "I--"
"I'm afraid they do!"
Joe laughed a little. "My father was saying
something like that to me a while ago. He meant
that they used to think me a great scapegrace here.
Do you mean that?"
"I'd scarcely like to say," she answered, her face
growing more troubled; for they were close on the
imperial domain.
"But it's long ago--and I really didn't do anything
so outrageous, it seems to me." He laughed
again. "I know your father was angry with me
once or twice, especially the night I hid on your
porch to watch you--to watch you dance, I mean.
But, you see, I've come back to rehabilitate myself, to--"
She interrupted him. They were not far from
her gate, and she saw her father standing in the
yard, directing a painter who was at work on one
of the cast-iron deer. The Judge was apparently
in good spirits, laughing with the workman over
some jest between them, but that did not lessen
Mamie's nervousness.
"Mr. Louden," she said, in as kindly a tone as
she could, "I shall have to ask you not to walk
with me. My father would not like it."
Joe stopped with a jerk.
"Why, I--I thought I'd go in and shake hands
with him,--and tell him I--"
Astonishment that partook of terror and of awe
spread itself instantly upon her face.
"Good gracious!" she cried. "NO!"
"Very well," said Joe, humbly. "Good-bye."
He was too late to get away with any good grace.
Judge Pike had seen them, and, even as Joe turned
to go, rushed down to the gate, flung it open, and
motioned his daughter to enter. This he did with
one wide sweep of his arm, and, with another
sweep, forbade Joe to look upon either moon OR
sun. It was a magnificent gesture: it excluded the
young man from the street, Judge Pike's street,
and from the town, Judge Pike's town. It swept
him from the earth, abolished him, denied him
the right to breathe the common air, to be seen of
men; and, at once a headsman's stroke and an
excommunication, destroyed him, soul and body,
thus rebuking the silly Providence that had created
him, and repairing Its mistake by annihilating
him. This hurling Olympian gesture smote the
street; the rails of the car-track sprang and
quivered with the shock; it thundered, and, amid the
dumfounding uproar of the wrath of a god, the
Will of the Canaanite Jove wrote the words in
fiery letters upon the ether:
Joe did not go in to shake hands with Judge
He turned the next corner a moment later, and
went down the quiet street which led to the house
which had been his home. He did not glance at
that somewhat grim edifice, but passed it, his eyes
averted, and stopped in front of the long,
ramshackle cottage next door. The windows were
boarded; the picket-fence dropped even to the
ground in some sections; the chimneys sagged
and curved; the roof of the long porch sprinkled
shingles over the unkempt yard with every wind,
and seemed about to fall. The place was desolate
with long emptiness and decay: it looked like a
Haunted House; and nailed to the padlocked gate
was a sign, half obliterated with the winters it
had fronted, "For Sale or Rent."
Joe gat him meditatively back to Main Street
and to the Tocsin building. This time he did not
hesitate, but mounted the stairs and knocked upon
the door of the assistant editor.
"Oh," said Eugene. "YOU'VE turned up,
Mr. Bantry of the Tocsin was not at all the
Eugene rescued from the "Straw-Cellar." The present
gentleman was more the electric Freshman than
the frightened adventurer whom Joe had encountered
in New York. It was to be seen immediately
that the assistant editor had nothing undaintily
business-like about him, nor was there the litter
on his desk which one might have expected. He
had the air of a gentleman dilettante who amused
himself slightly by spending an hour or two in the
room now and then. It was the evolution to the
perfect of his Freshman manner, and his lively
apparel, though somewhat chastened by an older
taste, might have been foretold from that which
had smitten Canaan seven years before. He sat
not at the orderly and handsome desk, but lay
stretched upon a divan of green leather, smoking a
cigar of purest ray and reading sleepily a small
verse-looking book in morocco. His occupation,
his general air, the furniture of the room, and his
title (doubtless equipped with a corresponding
salary) might have inspired in an observant cynic
the idea that here lay a pet of Fortune, whose
position had been the fruit of nepotism, or,
mayhap, a successful wooing of some daughter,
wife, or widow. Eugene looked competent for
"I've come back to stay, 'Gene," said Joe.
Bantry had dropped his book and raised himself
on an elbow. "Exceedingly interesting," he said.
"I suppose you'll try to find something to do. I
don't think you could get a place here; Judge Pike
owns the Tocsin, and I greatly fear he has a prejudice
against you."
"I expect he has," Joe chuckled, somewhat
sadly. "But I don't want newspaper work. I'm
going to practice law."
"By Jove! you have courage, my festive prodigal.
Joe cocked his head to one side with his old look
of the friendly puppy. "You always did like to
talk that noveletty way, 'Gene, didn't you?" he
said, impersonally.
Eugene's color rose. "Have you saved up anything
to starve on?" he asked, crisply.
"Oh, I'm not so badly off. I've had a salary in
an office for a year, and I had one pretty good day
at the races--"
"You'd better go back and have another," said
his step-brother. "You don't seem to comprehend
your standing in Canaan."
"I'm beginning to." Joe turned to the door.
"It's funny, too--in a way. Well--I won't keep
you any longer. I just stopped in to say goodday--"
He paused, faltering.
"All right, all right," Eugene said, briskly.
"And, by-the-way, I haven't mentioned that I saw
you in New York."
"Oh, I didn't suppose that you would."
"And you needn't say anything about it, I
"I don't think," said Joe,--"I don't think that
you need be afraid I'll do that. Good-bye."
"Be sure to shut the door, please; it's rather
noisy with it open. Good-bye." Eugene waved
his hand and sank back upon the divan.
Joe went across the street to the "National
House." The sages fell as silent as if he had been
Martin Pike. They had just had the pleasure of
hearing a telephone monologue by Mr. Brown, the
clerk, to which they listened intently: "Yes. This
is Brown. Oh--oh, it's Judge Pike? Yes indeed,
Judge, yes indeed, I hear you--ha, ha! Of course,
I understand. Yes, Judge, I heard he was in
town. No, he hasn't been here. Not yet, that
is, Judge. Yes, I hear. No, I won't, of course.
Certainly not. I will, I will. I hear perfectly, I
understand. Yes, sir. Good-bye, Judge."
Joe had begun to write his name in the register.
"My trunk is still at the station," he said. "I'll
give you my check to send down for it."
"Excuse me," said the clerk. "We have no rooms."
"What!" cried Joe, innocently. "Why, I never
knew more than eight people to stay here at the
same time in my life."
"We have no rooms," repeated the clerk, curtly.
"Is there a convention here?"
"We have no rooms, I say!"
Joe looked up into the condensed eyes of Mr.
Brown. "Oh," he said, "I see."
Deathly silence followed him to the door, but,
as it closed behind him, he heard the outbreak of
the sages like a tidal wave striking a dump-heap
of tin cans.
Two hours later he descended from an evil ark
of a cab at the corral attached to Beaver Beach,
and followed the path through the marsh to the
crumbling pier. A red-bearded man was seated
on a plank by the water edge, fishing.
"Mike," said Joe, "have you got room for me?
Can you take me in for a few days until I find a
place in town where they'll let me stay?"
The red-bearded man rose slowly, pushed back
his hat, and stared hard at the wanderer; then he
uttered a howl of joy and seized the other's hands
in his and shook them wildly.
"Glory be on high!" he shouted. "It's Joe
Louden come back! We never knew how we
missed ye till ye'd gone! Place fer ye! Can I
find it? There ain't a imp o' perdition in town,
includin' myself, that wouldn't kill me if I couldn't!
Ye'll have old Maggie's room, my own aunt's; ye
remember how she used to dance! Ha, ha! She's
been burnin' below these four years! And we'll
have the celebration of yer return this night.
There'll be many of 'em will come when they hear
ye're back in Canaan! Praise God, we'll all hope
ye're goin' to stay a while!"
If any echo of doubt concerning his
undesirable conspicuousness sounded
faintly in Joe's mind, it was silenced
eftsoons. Canaan had not forgotten
him--far from it!--so far that it began
pointing him out to strangers on the street
the very day of his return. His course of action,
likewise that of his friends, permitted him little
obscurity, and when the rumors of his finally
obtaining lodging at Beaver Beach, and of the
celebration of his installation there, were presently
confirmed, he stood in the lime-light indeed, as a
Mephistopheles upsprung through the trap-door.
The welcoming festivities had not been so
discreetly conducted as to accord with the general
policy of Beaver Beach. An unfortunate incident
caused the arrest of one of the celebrators and the
ambulancing to the hospital of another on the
homeward way, the ensuing proceedings in court
bringing to the whole affair a publicity devoutly
unsought for. Mr. Happy Fear (such was the
habitual name of the imprisoned gentleman) had
to bear a great amount of harsh criticism for
injuring a companion within the city limits after
daylight, and for failing to observe that three
policemen were not too distant from the scene of
operations to engage therein.
"Happy, if ye had it in mind to harm him,"
said the red-bearded man to Mr. Fear, upon the
latter's return to society, "why didn't ye do it
out here at the Beach?"
"Because," returned the indiscreet, "he didn't
say what he was goin' to say till we got in town."
Extraordinary probing on the part of the
prosecutor had developed at the trial that the obnoxious
speech had referred to the guest of the evening.
The assaulted party, one "Nashville" Cory, was
not of Canaan, but a bit of drift-wood haply touching
shore for the moment at Beaver Beach; and--
strange is this world--he had been introduced to
the coterie of Mike's Place by Happy Fear himself,
who had enjoyed a brief acquaintance with him on
a day when both had chanced to travel incognito
by the same freight. Naturally, Happy had felt
responsible for the proper behavior of his protege
--was, in fact, bound to enforce it; additionally,
Happy had once been saved from a term of
imprisonment (at a time when it would have been
more than ordinarily inconvenient) by help and
advice from Joe, and he was not one to forget.
Therefore he was grieved to observe that his
own guest seemed to be somewhat jealous of the
hero of the occasion and disposed to look coldly
upon him. The stranger, however, contented
himself with innuendo (mere expressions of the
face and other manner of things for which one
could not squarely lay hands upon him) until
such time as he and his sponsor had come to Main
Street in the clear dawn on their way to Happy's
apartment--a variable abode. It may be that
the stranger perceived what Happy did not; the
three bluecoats in the perspective; at all events,
he now put into words of simple strength the
unfavorable conception he had formed of Joe. The
result was mediaevally immediate, and the period
of Mr. Cory's convalescence in the hospital was
almost half that of his sponsor's detention in the
county jail.
It needed nothing to finish Joe with the good
people of Canaan; had it needed anything, the
trial of Happy Fear would have overspilled the
necessity. An item of the testimony was that
Joseph Louden had helped to carry one of the
ladies present--a Miss Le Roy, who had fainted--
to the open air, and had jostled the stranger in
passing. After this, the oldest woman in Canaan
would not have dared to speak to Joe on the street
(even if she wanted to), unless she happened to
be very poor or very wicked. The Tocsin printed
an adequate account (for there was "a large public
interest"), recording in conclusion that Mr.
Louden paid the culprit's fine which was the
largest in the power of the presiding judge in his
mercy to bestow. Editorially, the Tocsin leaned to
the facetious: "Mr. Louden has but recently
`returned to our midst.' We fervently hope that
the distinguished Happy Fear will appreciate his
patron's superb generosity. We say `his patron,'
but perhaps we err in this. Were it not better to
figure Mr. Louden as the lady in distress, Mr. Fear
as the champion in the lists? In the present case,
however, contrary to the rules of romance, the
champion falls in duress and passes to the dungeon.
We merely suggest, en passant, that some of our
best citizens might deem it a wonderful and beauteous
thing if, in addition to paying the fine, Mr.
Louden could serve for the loyal Happy his six
months in the Bastile!"
"En passant," if nothing else, would have
revealed to Joe, in this imitation of a better trick, the
hand of Eugene. And, little doubt, he would have
agreed with Squire Buckalew in the Squire's answer
to the easily expected comment of Mr. Arp.
"Sometimes," said Eskew, "I think that 'Gene
Bantry is jest a leetle bit spiderier than he is lazy.
That's the first thing he's written in the Tocsin this
month--one of the boys over there told me. He
wrote it out of spite against Joe; but he'd ought
to of done better. If his spite hadn't run away
with what mind he's got, he'd of said that both
Joe Louden and that tramp Fear ought to of had
ten years!"
"'Gene Bantry didn't write that out of spite,"
answered Buckalew. "He only thought he saw
a chance to be kind of funny and please Judge Pike.
The Judge has always thought Joe was a no-account--"
"Ain't he right?" cried Mr. Arp.
"_I_ don't say he ain't." Squire Buckalew cast a
glance at Mr. Brown, the clerk, and, perceiving that
he was listening, added, "The Judge always IS
"Yes, sir!" said Colonel Flitcroft.
"I can't stand up for Joe Louden to any extent,
but I don't think he done wrong," Buckalew went
on, recovering, "when he paid this man Fear's
"You don't!" exclaimed Mr. Arp. "Why,
haven't you got gumption enough to see--"
"Look here, Eskew," interposed his antagonist.
"How many friends have you got that hate to hear
folks talk bad about you?"
"Not a one!" For once Eskew's guard was
down, and his consistency led him to destruction.
"Not a one! It ain't in human nature. They're
bound to enjoy it!"
"Got any friends that would FIGHT for you?"
Eskew walked straight into this hideous trap.
"No! There ain't a dozen men ever LIVED that
had! Caesar was a popular man, but he didn't
have a soul to help him when the crowd lit on him,
and I'll bet old Mark Antony was mighty glad
they got him out in the yard before it happened,--
HE wouldn't have lifted a finger without a gang
behind him! Why, all Peter himself could do was
to cut off an ear that wasn't no use to anybody.
What are you tryin' to get AT?"
The Squire had him; and paused, and stroked his
chin, to make the ruin complete. "Then I reckon
you'll have to admit," he murmured, "that, while
I ain't defendin' Joe Louden's character, it was
kind of proper for him to stand by a feller that
wouldn't hear nothin' against him, and fought for
him as soon as he DID hear it!"
Eskew Arp rose from his chair and left the hotel.
It was the only morning in all the days of the
conclave when he was the first to leave.
Squire Buckalew looked after the retreating
figure, total triumph shining brazenly from his
spectacles. "I expect," he explained, modestly,
to the others,--"I expect I don't think any more
of Joe Louden than he does, and I'll be glad when
Canaan sees the last of him for good; but sometimes
the temptation to argue with Eskew does
lead me on to kind of git the better of him."
When Happy Fear had suffered--with a giveand-
take simplicity of patience--his allotment of
months in durance, and was released and sent into
the streets and sunshine once more, he knew that
his first duty lay in the direction of a general
apology to Joe. But the young man was no longer at
Beaver Beach; the red-bearded proprietor dwelt
alone there, and, receiving Happy with scorn and
pity, directed him to retrace his footsteps to the
"Ye must have been in the black hole of
incarceration indeed, if ye haven't heard that Mr.
Louden has his law-office on the Square, and his
livin'-room behind the office. It's in that little
brick buildin' straight acrost from the sheriff's
door o' the jail--ye've been neighbors this long
time! A hard time the boy had, persuadin' any
one to rent to him, but by payin' double the price
he got a place at last. He's a practisin' lawyer
now, praise the Lord! And all the boys and girls
of our acquaintance go to him with their troubles.
Ye'll see him with a murder case to try before
long, as sure as ye're not worth yer salt! But I
expect ye can still call him by his name of Joe, all
the same!"
It was a bleak and meagre little office into
which Mr. Fear ushered himself to offer his amends.
The cracked plaster of the walls was bare (save
for dust); there were no shelves; the fat brown
volumes, most of them fairly new, were piled in
regular columns upon a cheap pine table; there
was but one window, small-paned and shadeless; an
inner door of this sad chamber stood half ajar,
permitting the visitor unreserved acquaintance with
the domestic economy of the tenant; for it disclosed
a second room, smaller than the office, and
dependent upon the window of the latter for air and
light. Behind a canvas camp-cot, dimly visible
in the obscurity of the inner apartment, stood a
small gas-stove, surmounted by a stew-pan, from
which projected the handle of a big tin spoon, so
that it needed no ghost from the dead to whisper
that Joseph Louden, attorney-at-law, did his own
cooking. Indeed, he looked it!
Upon the threshold of the second room reposed a
small, worn, light-brown scrub-brush of a dog, so
cosmopolitan in ancestry that his species was
almost as undeterminable as the cast-iron dogs of
the Pike Mansion. He greeted Mr. Fear hospitably,
having been so lately an offcast of the streets
himself that his adoption had taught him to lose
only his old tremors, not his hopefulness. At
the same time Joe rose quickly from the deal
table, where he had been working with one hand
in his hair, the other splattering ink from a bad
"Good for you, Happy!" he cried, cheerfully.
"I hoped you'd come to see me to-day. I've been
thinking about a job for you."
"What kind of a job?" asked the visitor, as they
shook hands. "I need one bad enough, but you
know there ain't nobody in Canaan would gimme
one, Joe."
Joe pushed him into one of the two chairs which
completed the furniture of his office. "Yes, there
is. I've got an idea--"
"First," broke in Mr. Fear, fingering his shapeless
hat and fixing his eyes upon it with embarrassment,--"
first lemme say what I come here to say.
I--well--" His embarrassment increased and he
paused, rubbing the hat between his hands.
"About this job," Joe began. "We can fix it
"No," said Happy. "You lemme go on. I
didn't mean fer to cause you no trouble when I lit
on that loud-mouth, `Nashville'; I never thought
they'd git me, or you'd be dragged in. But I jest
couldn't stand him no longer. He had me all wore
out--all evening long a-hintin' and sniffin' and
wearin' that kind of a high-smile 'cause they made
so much fuss over you. And then when we got
clear in town he come out with it! Said you was
too quiet to suit HIM--said he couldn't see nothin'
TO you! `Well,' I says to myself, `jest let him go
on, jest one more,' I says, `then he gits it.' And
he did. Said you tromped on his foot on purpose,
said he knowed it,--when the Lord-a'mightiest fool
on earth knows you never tromped on no one!
Said you was one of the po'rest young sports he
ever see around a place like the Beach. You see,
he thought you was jest one of them fool `Bloods'
that come around raisin' a rumpus, and didn't know
you was our friend and belonged out there, the same
as me or Mike hisself. `Go on,' I says to myself,
`jest one more!' `HE better go home to his mamma,'
he says; `he'll git in trouble if he don't. Somebody
'll soak him if he hangs around in MY company.
_I_ don't like his WAYS.' Then I HAD to do
it. There jest wasn't nothin' LEFT--but I wouldn't
of done you no harm by it--"
"You didn't do me any harm, Happy."
"I mean your repitation."
"I didn't have one--so nothing in the world could
harm it. About your getting some work, now--"
"I'll listen," said Happy, rather suspiciously.
"You see," Joe went on, growing red, "I need
a sort of janitor here--"
"What fer?" Mr. Fear interrupted, with some
"To look after the place."
"You mean these two rooms?"
"There's a stairway, too," Joe put forth, quickly.
"It wouldn't be any sinecure, Happy. You'd
earn your money; don't be afraid of that!"
Mr. Fear straightened up, his burden of
embarrassment gone from him, transferred to the
other's shoulders.
"There always was a yellow streak in you, Joe,"
he said, firmly. "You're no good as a liar except
when you're jokin'. A lot you need a janitor!
You had no business to pay my fine; you'd ort of
let me worked it out. Do you think my eyes ain't
good enough to see how much you needed the
money, most of all right now when you're tryin' to
git started? If I ever take a cent from you, I hope
the hand I hold out fer it 'll rot off."
"Now don't say that, Happy."
"I don't want a job, nohow!" said Mr. Fear,
going to the door; "I don't want to work. There's
plenty ways fer me to git along without that. But
I've said what I come here to say, and I'll say one
thing more. Don't you worry about gittin' law
practice. Mike says you're goin' to git all you
want--and if there ain't no other way, why, a few
of us 'll go out and MAKE some fer ye!"
These prophecies and promises, over which Joe
chuckled at first, with his head cocked to one
side, grew very soon, to his amazement, to wear a
supernatural similarity to actual fulfilment. His
friends brought him their own friends, such as
had sinned against the laws of Canaan, those under
the ban of the sheriff, those who had struck in
anger, those who had stolen at night, those who
owed and could not pay, those who lived by the
dice, and to his other titles to notoriety was added
that of defender of the poor and wicked. He found
his hands full, especially after winning his first
important case--on which occasion Canaan thought
the jury mad, and was indignant with the puzzled
Judge, who could not see just how it had happened.
Joe did not stop at that. He kept on winning
cases, clearing the innocent and lightening the
burdens of the guilty; he became the most dangerous
attorney for the defence in Canaan; his honorable
brethren, accepting the popular view of him, held
him in personal contempt but feared him
professionally; for he proved that he knew more law
than they thought existed; nor could any trick him
--failing which, many tempers were lost, but never
Joe's. His practice was not all criminal, as shown
by the peevish outburst of the eminent Buckalew
(the Squire's nephew, esteemed the foremost lawyer
in Canaan), "Before long, there won't be any
use trying to foreclose a mortgage or collect a note
--unless this shyster gets himself in jail!"
The wrath of Judge Martin Pike was august--
there was a kind of sublimity in its immenseness--
on a day when it befell that the shyster stood
betwixt him and money.
That was a monstrous task--to stand between
these two and separate them, to hold back the
hand of Martin Pike from what it had reached out
to grasp. It was in the matter of some tax-titles
which the magnate had acquired, and, in court,
Joe treated the case with such horrifying
simplicity that it seemed almost credible that the
great man had counted upon the ignorance and
besottedness of Joe's client--a hard-drinking,
disreputable old farmer--to get his land away from
him without paying for it. Now, as every one
knew such a thing to be ludicrously impossible,
it was at once noised abroad in Canaan that Joe
had helped to swindle Judge Pike out of a large
sum of money--it was notorious that the shyster
could bamboozle court and jury with his tricks;
and it was felt that Joe Louden was getting into
very deep waters indeed. THIS was serious: if
the young man did not LOOK OUT, he might find
himself in the penitentiary.
The Tocsin paragraphed him with a fine regularity
after this, usually opening with a Walrus-and-the-Carpenter
gravity: "The time has come when
we must speak of a certain matter frankly," or, "At
last the time has arrived when the demoralization
of the bar caused by a certain criminal lawyer must
be dealt with as it is and without gloves." Once
when Joe had saved a half-witted negro from "the
extreme penalty" for murder, the Tocsin had
declared, with great originality: "This is just the
kind of thing that causes mobs and justifies them.
If we are to continue to permit the worst class
of malefactors to escape the consequences of their
crimes through the unwholesome dexterities and the
shifty manipulations and technicalities of a
certain criminal lawyer, the time will come when an
outraged citizenry may take the enforcement of
the law in its own hands. Let us call a spade a
spade. If Canaan's streets ever echo with the
tread of a mob, the fault lies upon the head of
Joseph Louden, who has once more brought about
a miscarriage of justice. . . ."
Joe did not move into a larger office; he remained
in the little room with its one window and its fine
view of the jail; his clients were nearly all poor, and
many of his fees quite literally nominal. Tatters
and rags came up the narrow stairway to his door
--tatters and rags and pitiful fineries: the bleared,
the sodden, the flaunting and rouged, the furtive
and wary, some in rags, some in tags, and some--
the sorriest--in velvet gowns. With these, the
distressed, the wrong-doers, the drunken, the
dirty, and the very poor, his work lay and his days
and nights were spent.
Ariel had told Roger Tabor that in time Joe
might come to be what the town thought him, if
it gave him no other chance. Only its dinginess
and evil surrounded him; no respectable house was
open to him; the barrooms--except that of the
"National House"--welcomed him gratefully and
admiringly. Once he went to church, on a pleasant
morning when nice girls wear pretty spring
dresses; it gave him a thrill of delight to see them,
to be near clean, good people once more.
Inadvertently, he took a seat by his step-mother, who
rose with a slight rustle of silk and moved to
another pew; and it happened, additionally, that
this was the morning that the minister, fired by
the Tocsin's warnings, had chosen to preach on
the subject of Joe himself.
The outcast returned to his own kind. No lady
spoke to him upon the street. Mamie Pike had
passed him with averted eyes since her first meeting
with him, but the shunning and snubbing of a
young man by a pretty girl have never yet, if
done in a certain way, prevented him from
continuing to be in love with her. Mamie did it in
the certain way. Joe did not wince, therefore it
hurt all the more, for blows from which one cringes
lose much of their force.
The town dog had been given a bad name,
painted solid black from head to heel. He was a
storm centre of scandal; the entrance to his dingy
stairway was in square view of the "National
House," and the result is imaginable. How many
of Joe's clients, especially those sorriest of the velvet
gowns, were conjectured to ascend his stairs for
reasons more convivial than legal! Yes, he lived with
his own kind, and, so far as the rest of Canaan was
concerned, might as well have worn the scarlet
letter on his breast or branded on his forehead.
When he went about the streets he was made to
feel his condition by the elaborate avoidance, yet
furtive attention, of every respectable person he
met; and when he came home to his small rooms
and shut the door behind him, he was as one who
has been hissed and shamed in public and runs
to bury his hot face in his pillow. He petted
his mongrel extravagantly (well he might!), and
would sit with him in his rooms at night, holding
long converse with him, the two alone together.
The dog was not his only confidant. There came
to be another, a more and more frequent partner
to their conversations, at last a familiar spirit.
This third came from a brown jug which Joe kept
on a shelf in his bedroom, a vessel too frequently
replenished. When the day's work was done he
shut himself up, drank alone and drank hard.
Sometimes when the jug ran low and the night was
late he would go out for a walk with his dog, and
would awake in his room the next morning not
remembering where he had gone or how he had
come home. Once, after such a lapse of memory,
he woke amazed to find himself at Beaver Beach,
whither, he learned from the red-bearded man,
Happy Fear had brought him, having found him
wandering dazedly in a field near by. These lapses
grew more frequent, until there occurred that which
was one of the strange things of his life.
It was a June night, a little more than two years
after his return to Canaan, and the Tocsin had that
day announced the approaching marriage of Eugene
Bantry and his employer's daughter. Joe ate
nothing during the day, and went through his work
clumsily, visiting the bedroom shelf at intervals.
At ten in the evening he went out to have the jug
refilled, but from the moment he left his door and
the fresh air struck his face, he had no clear knowledge
of what he did or of what went on about him
until he woke in his bed the next morning.
And yet, whatever little part of the soul of him
remained, that night, still undulled, not numbed,
but alive, was in some strange manner lifted out of
its pain towards a strange delight. His body was
an automaton, his mind in bondage, yet there was
a still, small consciousness in him which knew that
in his wandering something incredible and unexpected
was happening. What this was he did not
know, could not see, though his eyes were open,
could not have told himself any more than a baby
could tell why it laughs, but it seemed something
so beautiful and wonderful that the night became
a night of perfume, its breezes bearing the music
of harps and violins, while nightingales sang from
the maples that bordered the streets of Canaan.
He woke to the light of morning amazed
and full of a strange wonder because
he did not know what had amazed
him. For a little while after his eyes
opened, he lay quite motionless; then
he lifted his head slightly and shook it with some
caution. This had come to be custom. The
operation assured him of the worst; the room swam
round him, and, with a faint groan, he let his head
fall back upon the pillow. But he could not sleep
again; pain stung its way through his heart as
memory began to come back to him, not of the
preceding night--that was all blank,--but realization
that the girl of whom he had dreamed so long
was to be married. That his dreams had been quite
hopeless was no balm to his hurt.
A chime of bells sounded from a church steeple
across the Square, ringing out in assured righteousness,
summoning the good people who maintained
them to come and sit beneath them or be taken to
task; and they fell so dismally upon Joe's ear that
he bestirred himself and rose, to the delight of his
mongrel, who leaped upon him joyfully. An hour
later, or thereabout, the pair emerged from the narrow
stairway and stood for a moment, blinking in
the fair sunshine, apparently undecided which way
to go. The church bells were silent; there was no
breeze; the air trembled a little with the deep
pipings of the organ across the Square, and, save for
that, the town was very quiet. The paths which
crossed the Court-house yard were flecked with
steady shadow, the strong young foliage of the
maples not moving, having the air of observing the
Sabbath with propriety. There were benches here
and there along the walks, and to one of these Joe
crossed, and sat down. The mongrel, at his master's
feet, rolled on his back in morning ecstasy, ceased
abruptly to roll and began to scratch his ear with
a hind foot intently. A tiny hand stretched to pat
his head, and the dog licked it appreciatively. It
belonged to a hard-washed young lady of six (in
starchy, white frills and new, pink ribbons), who
had run ahead of her mother, a belated church-goer;
and the mongrel charmed her.
"Will you give me this dog?" she asked, without
any tedious formalities.
Involuntarily, she departed before receiving a
reply. The mother, a red-faced matron whom Joe
recognized as a sister of Mrs. Louden's, consequently
his step-aunt, swooped at the child with a rush
and rustle of silk, and bore her on violently to her
duty. When they had gone a little way the
matron's voice was heard in sharp reproof; the child,
held by one wrist and hurried along on tiptoe,
staring back over one shoulder at Joe, her eyes
wide, and her mouth the shape of the "O" she was
The dog looked up with wistful inquiry at his
master, who cocked an eyebrow at him in return,
wearing much the same expression. The mother
and child disappeared within the church doors and
left the Square to the two. Even the hotel showed
no signs of life, for the wise men were not allowed to
foregather on Sundays. The organ had ceased to
stir the air and all was in quiet, yet a quiet which,
for Louden, was not peace. He looked at his watch
and, without intending it, spoke the hour aloud:
"A quarter past eleven." The sound of his own
voice gave him a little shock; he rose without knowing
why, and, as he did so, it seemed to him that he
heard close to his ear another voice, a woman's,
troubled and insistent, but clear and sweet, saying:
It was so distinct that he started and looked
round. Then he laughed. "I'll be seeing circus
parades next!" His laughter fled, for, louder than
the ringing in his ears, unmistakably came the
strains of a far-away brass band which had no
existence on land or sea or in the waters under the
"Here!" he said to the mongrel. "We need a
walk, I think. Let's you and me move on before
the camels turn the corner!"
The music followed him to the street, where he
turned westward toward the river, and presently,
as he walked on, fanning himself with his straw hat,
it faded and was gone. But the voice he had heard
it said again, close to his ear.
This time he did not start. "All right," he
answered, wiping his forehead; "if you'll let me alone,
I'll be there."
At a dingy saloon corner, near the river, a shabby
little man greeted him heartily and petted the
mongrel. "I'm mighty glad you didn't go, after
all, Joe," he added, with a brightening face.
"Go where, Happy?"
Mr. Fear looked grave. "Don't you rec'lect
meetin' me last night?"
Louden shook his head. "No. Did I?"
The other's jaw fell and his brow corrugated with
self-reproach. "Well, if that don't show what a
thick-head I am! I thought ye was all right er I'd
gone on with ye. Nobody c'd 'a' walked straighter
ner talked straighter. Said ye was goin' to leave
Canaan fer good and didn't want nobody to know it.
Said ye was goin' to take the 'leven-o'clock through
train fer the West, and told me I couldn't come
to the deepo with ye. Said ye'd had enough o'
Canaan, and of everything! I follered ye part way
to the deepo, but ye turned and made a motion fer
me to go back, and I done it, because ye seemed to
be kind of in trouble, and I thought ye'd ruther be
by yerself. Well, sir, it's one on me!"
"Not at all," said Joe. "I was all right."
"Was ye?" returned the other. "DO remember,
do ye?"
"Almost," Joe smiled, faintly.
"ALMOST," echoed Happy, shaking his head seriously.
"I tell ye, Joe, ef I was YOU--" he began
slowly, then paused and shook his head again. He
seemed on the point of delivering some advice,
but evidently perceiving the snobbishness of such
a proceeding, or else convinced by his own experience
of the futility of it, he swerved to cheerfulness:
"I hear the boys is all goin' to work hard fer the
primaries. Mike says ye got some chances ye
don't know about; HE swears ye'll be the next
Mayor of Canaan."
"Nonsense! Folly and nonsense, Happy! That's
the kind of thing I used to think when I was a boy.
But now--pshaw!" Joe broke off with a tired
laugh. "Tell them not to waste their time. Are
you going out to the Beach this afternoon?"
The little man lowered his eyes moodily. "I'll
be near there," he said, scraping his patched shoe
up and down the curbstone. "That feller's in
town agin."
"What fellow?"
"`Nashville' they call him; Ed's the name he
give the hospital: Cory--him that I soaked the
night you come back to Canaan. He's after
Claudine to git his evens with me. He's made a
raise somewheres, and plays the spender. And
her--well, I reckon she's tired waitin' table at the
National House; tired o' me, too. I got a hint
that they're goin' out to the Beach together this
Joe passed his hand wearily over his aching forehead.
"I understand," he said, "and you'd better
try to. Cory's laying for you, of course. You say
he's after your wife? He must have set about it
pretty openly if they're going to the Beach to-day,
for there is always a crowd there on Sundays. Is
it hard for you to see why he's doing it? It's
because he wants to make you jealous. What for?
So that you'll tackle him again. And why does he
want that? Because he's ready for you!"
The other's eyes suddenly became bloodshot, his
nostrils expanding incredibly. "READY, is he? He
BETTER be ready. I--"
"That's enough!" Joe interrupted, swiftly.
"We'll have no talk like that. I'll settle this for
you, myself. You send word to Claudine that I
want to see her at my office to-morrow morning,
and you--you stay away from the Beach to-day.
Give me your word."
Mr. Fear's expression softened. "All right, Joe,"
he said. "I'll do whatever you tell me to. Any
of us 'll do that; we sure know who's our friend."
"Keep out of trouble, Happy." Joe turned to
go and they shook hands. "Good day, and--keep
out of trouble!"
When he had gone, Mr. Fear's countenance
again gloomed ominously, and, shaking his head,
he ruminatively entered an adjacent bar through
the alley door.
The Main Street bridge was an old-fashioned,
wooden, covered one, dust-colored and very narrow,
squarely framing the fair, open country beyond;
for the town had never crossed the river.
Joe found the cool shadow in the bridge gracious
to his hot brow, and through the slender chinks of
the worn flooring he caught bright glimpses of
running water. When he came out of the other
end he felt enough refreshed to light a cigar.
"Well, here I am," he said. "Across Main
Street bridge--and it must be getting on toward
noon!" He spoke almost with the aspect of daring,
and immediately stood still, listening.
"`REMEMBER,"' he ventured to repeat, again daring,
And again he listened. Then he chuckled faintly
with relief, for the voice did not return. "Thank
God, I've got rid of that!" he whispered. "And
of the circus band too!"
A dust road turned to the right, following the
river and shaded by big sycamores on the bank;
the mongrel, intensely preoccupied with this road,
scampered away, his nose to the ground. "Good
enough," said the master. "Lead on and I'll
come after you."
But he had not far to follow. The chase led
him to a half-hollow log which lay on a low, grassgrown
levee above the stream, where the dog's
interest in the pursuit became vivid; temporarily,
however, for after a few minutes of agitated
investigation, he was seized with indifference to the
whole world; panted briefly; slept. Joe sat upon
the log, which was in the shade, and smoked.
"`REMEMBER!' " He tried it once more. "`ACROSS
MAIN STREET BRIDGE AT NOON!' " Safety still; the
voice came not. But the sound of his own repetition
of the words brought him an eerie tremor;
for the mist of a memory came with it; nothing
tangible, nothing definite, but something very far
away and shadowy, yet just poignant enough to
give him a queer feeling that he was really keeping
an appointment here. Was it with some watersprite
that would rise from the river? Was it
with a dryad of the sycamores? He knew too well
that he might expect strange fancies to get hold of
him this morning, and, as this one grew uncannily
stronger, he moved his head briskly as if to shake
it off. The result surprised him; the fancy
remained, but his headache and dizziness had left
A breeze wandered up the river and touched the
leaves and grass to life. Sparrows hopped and
chirped in the branches, absurdly surprised; without
doubt having concluded in the Sunday stillness
that the world would drowse forever; and the
mongrel lifted his head, blinked at them, hopelessly
wishing they would alight near him, scratched
his ear with the manner of one who has neglected
such matters overlong; reversed his position; slept
again. The young corn, deep green in the bottomland,
moved with a staccato flurry, and the dust
ghost of a mad whirling dervish sped up the main
road to vanish at the bridge in a climax of lunacy.
The stirring air brought a smell of blossoms; the
distance took on faint lavender hazes which blended
the outlines of the fields, lying like square
coverlets upon the long slope of rising ground
beyond the bottom-land, and empurpled the blue
woodland shadows of the groves.
For the first time, it struck Joe that it was a
beautiful day, and it came to him that a beautiful
day was a thing which nothing except death, sickness,
or imprisonment could take from him--not
even the ban of Canaan! Unforewarned, music
sounded in his ears again; but he did not shrink
from it now; this was not the circus band he had
heard as he left the Square, but a melody like a
far-away serenade at night, as of "the horns of
elf-land faintly blowing"; and he closed his eyes
with the sweetness of it.
"Go ahead!" he whispered. "Do that all you
want to. If you'll keep it up like this awhile, I'll
follow with `Little Brown Jug, How I Love Thee!'
It seems to pay, after all!"
The welcome strains, however, were but the
prelude to a harsher sound which interrupted and
annihilated them: the Court-house bell clanging
out twelve. "All right," said Joe. "It 's noon
and I'm `across Main Street bridge.' "
He opened his eyes and looked about him
whimsically. Then he shook his head again.
A lady had just emerged from the bridge and
was coming toward him.
It would be hard to get at Joe's first impressions
of her. We can find conveyance for only the
broadest and heaviest. Ancient and modern
instances multiply the case of the sleeper who dreams
out a long story in accurate color and fine detail,
a tale of years, in the opening and shutting of a
door. So with Joseph, in the brief space of the
lady's approach. And with him, as with the sleeper,
it must have been--in fact it was, in his recollections,
later--a blur of emotion.
At first sight of her, perhaps it was pre-eminently
the shock of seeing anything so exquisite where
he had expected to see nothing at all. For she
was exquisite--horrid as have been the uses of the
word, its best and truest belong to her; she was
that and much more, from the ivory ferrule of the
parasol she carried, to the light and slender footprint
she left in the dust of the road. Joe knew at
once that nothing like her had ever before been
seen in Canaan.
He had little knowledge of the millinery arts,
and he needed none to see the harmony--harmony
like that of the day he had discovered a little
while ago. Her dress and hat and gloves and
parasol showed a pale lavender overtint like that
which he had seen overspreading the western
slope. (Afterward, he discovered that the gloves
she wore that day were gray, and that her hat was
for the most part white.) The charm of fabric
and tint belonging to what she wore was no shame
to her, not being of primal importance beyond
herself; it was but the expression of her daintiness and
the adjunct of it. She was tall, but if Joe could
have spoken or thought of her as "slender," he
would have been capable of calling her lips "red,"
in which case he would not have been Joe, and
would have been as far from the truth as her lips
were from red, or as her supreme delicateness was
from mere slenderness.
Under the summer hat her very dark hair swept
back over her temples with something near trimness
in the extent to which it was withheld from
being fluffy. It may be that this approach to
trimness, which was, after all, only a sort of
coquetry with trimness, is the true key to the
mystery of the vision of the lady who appeared to Joe.
Let us say that she suppressed everything that
went beyond grace; that the hint of floridity was
abhorrent to her. "Trim" is as clumsy as
"slender"; she had escaped from the trimness of
girlhood as wholly as she had gone through its
coltishness. "Exquisite." Let us go back to Joe's
own blurred first thought of her and be content
with that!
She was to pass him--so he thought--and as
she drew nearer, his breath came faster.
Was THIS the fay of whom the voice had warned
him? With that, there befell him the mystery
of last night. He did not remember, but it was
as if he lived again, dimly, the highest hour of
happiness in a life a thousand years ago; perfume
and music, roses, nightingales and plucked harpstrings.
Yes; something wonderful was happening
to him.
She had stopped directly in front of him;
stopped and stood looking at him with her clear eyes.
He did not lift his own to hers; he had long
experience of the averted gaze of women; but it was
not only that; a great shyness beset him. He
had risen and removed his hat, trying (ineffectually)
not to clear his throat; his every-day sense urging
upon him that she was a stranger in Canaan
who had lost her way--the preposterousness of any
one's losing the way in Canaan not just now
appealing to his every--day sense.
"Can I--can I--" he stammered, blushing
miserably, meaning to finish with "direct you," or
"show you the way."
Then he looked at her again and saw what
seemed to him the strangest sight of his life. The
lady's eyes had filled with tears-filled and
overfilled. "I'll sit here on the log with
you," she said. And her voice was the voice which
he had heard saying,
"WHAT!" he gasped.
"You don't need to dust it!" she went on,
tremulously. And even then he did not know who
she was.
There was a silence, for if the dazzled
young man could have spoken at all,
The could have found nothing to say;
and, perhaps, the lady would not
trust her own voice just then. His
eyes had fallen again; he was too dazed, and, in
truth, too panic-stricken, now, to look at her,
though if he had been quite sure that she was part
of a wonderful dream he might have dared. She
was seated beside him, and had handed him her
parasol in a little way which seemed to imply that
of course he had reached for it, so that it was to
be seen how used she was to have all tiny things
done for her, though this was not then of his
tremulous observing. He did perceive, however, that
he was to furl the dainty thing; he pressed the
catch, and let down the top timidly, as if fearing to
break or tear it; and, as it closed, held near his face,
he caught a very faint, sweet, spicy emanation
from it like wild roses and cinnamon.
He did not know her; but his timidity and a
strange little choke in his throat, the sudden fright
which had seized upon him, were not caused by
embarrassment. He had no thought that she
was one he had known but could not, for the
moment, recall; there was nothing of the awkwardness
of that; no, he was overpowered by the miracle of
this meeting. And yet, white with marvelling,
he felt it to be so much more touchingly a great
happiness than he had ever known that at first it
was inexpressibly sad.
At last he heard her voice again, shaking a little,
as she said:
"I am glad you remembered."
"Remembered what?" he faltered.
"Then you don't?" she cried. "And yet you came."
"Came here, do you mean?"
"Yes--now, at noon."
"Ah!" he half whispered, unable to speak aloud.
"Was it you who said--who said, `Remember!
"`Across Main Street bridge at noon!' " she
finished for him, gently. "Yes."
He took a deep breath in the wonder of it.
"Where was it you said that?" he asked, slowly.
"Was it last night?"
"Don't you even know that you came to meet me?"
"_I_--came to--to meet--you!"
She gave a little pitying cry, very near a sob,
seeing his utter bewilderment.
"It was like the strangest dream in the world,"
she said. "You were at the station when I came,
last night. You don't remember at all?"
His eyes downcast, his face burning hotly, he
could only shake his head.
"Yes," she continued. "I thought no one
would be there, for I had not written to say what
train I should take, but when I stepped down
from the platform, you were standing there;
though you didn't see me at first, not until I had
called your name and ran to you. You said, `I've
come to meet you,' but you said it queerly, I
thought. And then you called a carriage for me;
but you seemed so strange you couldn't tell how
you knew that I was coming, and--and then I--I
understood you weren't yourself. You were very
quiet, but I knew, I knew! So I made you get
into the carriage--and--and--"
She faltered to a stop, and with that, shame
itself brought him courage; he turned and faced
her. She had lifted her handkerchief to her eyes,
but at his movement she dropped it, and it was not
so much the delicate loveliness of her face that he
saw then as the tears upon her cheeks.
"Ah, poor boy!" she cried. "I knew! I knew!"
"You--you took me home?"
"You told me where you lived," she answered.
"Yes, I took you home."
"I don't understand," he stammered, huskily.
"I don't understand!"
She leaned toward him slightly, looking at him
with great intentness.
"You didn't know me last night," she said. "Do
you know me now?"
For answer he could only stare at her,
dumfounded. He lifted an unsteady hand toward
her appealingly. But the manner of the lady, as
she saw the truth, underwent an April change.
She drew back lightly; he was favored with the
most delicious, low laugh he had ever heard, and,
by some magic whisk which she accomplished,
there was no sign of tears about her.
"Ah! I'm glad you're the same, Joe!" she said.
"You never would or could pretend very well.
I'm glad you're the same, and I'm glad I've
changed, though that isn't why you have forgotten
me. You've forgotten me because you
never thought of me. Perhaps I should not have
known you if you had changed a great deal--as I
He started, leaning back from her.
"Ah!" she laughed. "That's it! That funny
little twist of the head you always had, like a--
like a--well, you know I must have told you a
thousand times that it was like a nice friendly
puppy; so why shouldn't I say so now? And your
eyebrows! When you look like that, nobody could
ever forget you, Joe!"
He rose from the log, and the mongrel leaped
upon him uproariously, thinking they were to go
home, belike to food.
The lady laughed again. "Don't let him spoil
my parasol. And I must warn you now: Never,
never TREAD ON MY SKIRT! I'm very irritable about
such things!"
He had taken three or four uncertain backward
steps from her. She sat before him, radiant with
laughter, the loveliest creature he had ever seen;
but between him and this charming vision there
swept, through the warm, scented June air, a veil
of snow like a driven fog, and, half obscured in the
heart of it, a young girl stood, knee-deep in a drift
piled against an old picket gate, her black waterproof
and shabby skirt flapping in the blizzard
like torn sails, one of her hands out-stretched
toward him, her startled eyes fixed on his.
"And, oh, how like you," said the lady; "how
like you and nobody else in the world, Joe, to have
a yellow dog!"
His lips formed the words without sound.
"Isn't it about time?" she said. "Are strange
ladies in the HABIT of descending from trains to
take you home?"
Once, upon a white morning long ago, the
sensational progress of a certain youth up Main Street
had stirred Canaan. But that day was as nothing
to this. Mr. Bantry had left temporary paralysis
in his wake; but in the case of the two young people
who passed slowly along the street to-day it
was petrifaction, which seemingly threatened in
several instances (most notably that of Mr. Arp)
to become permanent.
The lower portion of the street, lined with three
and four story buildings of brick and stone, rather
grim and hot facades under the mid-day sun,
afforded little shade to the church-comers, who
were working homeward in processional little
groups and clumps, none walking fast, though
none with the appearance of great leisure, since
neither rate of progress would have been esteemed
befitting the day. The growth of Canaan, steady,
though never startling, had left almost all of the
churches down-town, and Main Street the principal
avenue of communication between them and the
"residence section." So, to-day, the intermittent
procession stretched along the new cement sidewalks
from a little below the Square to Upper
Main Street, where maples lined the thoroughfare
and the mansions of the affluent stood among
pleasant lawns and shrubberies. It was late; for
this had been a communion Sunday, and those
far in advance, who had already reached the pretty
and shady part of the street, were members of the
churches where services had been shortest; though
few in the long parade looked as if they had been
attending anything very short, and many heads of
families were crisp in their replies to the theological
inquiries of their offspring. The men imparted
largely a gloom to the itinerant concourse, most
of them wearing hot, long black coats and having
wilted their collars; the ladies relieving this gloom
somewhat by the lighter tints of their garments;
the spick-and-span little girls relieving it greatly
by their white dresses and their faces, the latter
bright with the hope of Sunday ice-cream; while
the boys, experiencing some solace in that they
were finally out where a person could at least
scratch himself if he had to, yet oppressed by the
decorous necessities of the day, marched along,
furtively planning, behind imperturbably secretive
countenances, various means for the later dispersal
of an odious monotony.
Usually the conversation of this long string of the
homeward-bound was not too frivolous or worldly;
nay, it properly inclined to discussion of the sermon;
that is, praise of the sermon, with here and there a
mild "I-didn't-like-his-saying" or so; and its lighter
aspects were apt to concern the next "Social," or
various pleasurable schemes for the raising of funds
to help the heathen, the quite worthy poor, or the
This was the serious and seemly parade, the
propriety of whose behavior was to-day almost
disintegrated when the lady of the bridge walked
up the street in the shadow of a lacy, lavender
parasol carried by Joseph Louden. The congregation
of the church across the Square, that to which
Joe's step-aunt had been late, was just debouching,
almost in mass, upon Main Street, when these two
went by. It is not quite the truth to say that all
except the children came to a dead halt, but it is not
very far from it. The air was thick with subdued
exclamations and whisperings.
Here is no mystery. Joe was probably the only
person of respectable derivation in Canaan who had
not known for weeks that Ariel Tabor was on her
way home. And the news that she had arrived the
night before had been widely disseminated on the
way to church, entering church, IN church (even so!),
and coming out of church. An account of her house
in the Avenue Henri Martin, and of her portrait in
the Salon--a mysterious business to many, and not
lacking in grandeur for that!--had occupied two
columns in the Tocsin, on a day, some months
before, when Joe had found himself inimically headlined
on the first page, and had dropped the paper
without reading further. Ariel's name had been
in the mouth of Canaan for a long time; unfortunately
for Joe, however, not in the mouth of that
Canaan which held converse with him.
Joe had not known her. The women recognized
her, infallibly, at first glance; even those who had
quite forgotten her. And the women told their
men. Hence the un-Sunday-like demeanor of the
procession, for few towns hold it more unseemly to
stand and stare at passers-by, especially on the
Sabbath.--BUT Ariel Tabor returned--and walking
with--WITH JOE LOUDEN! . . .
A low but increasing murmur followed the two
as they proceeded. It ran up the street ahead of
them; people turned to look back and paused, so
that they had to walk round one or two groups.
They had, also, to walk round Norbert Flitcroft,
which was very like walking round a group. He
was one of the few (he was waddling home alone)
who did not identify Miss Tabor, and her effect upon
him was extraordinary. His mouth opened and he
gazed stodgily, his widening eyes like sun-dogs
coming out of a fog. He did not recognize her
escort; did not see him at all until they had passed,
after which Mr. Flitcroft experienced a few
moments of trance; came out of it stricken through and
through; felt nervously of his tie; resolutely fell in
behind the heeling mongrel and followed, at a
distance of some forty paces, determined to learn
what household this heavenly visitor honored, and
thrilling with the intention to please that same
household with his own presence as soon and as
often as possible.
Ariel flushed a little when she perceived the
extent of their conspicuousness; but it was not the
blush that Joe remembered had reddened the
tanned skin of old; for her brownness had gone
long ago, though it had not left her merely pink and
white. This was a delicate rosiness rising from her
cheeks to her temples as the earliest dawn rises. If
there had been many words left in Joe, he would
have called it a divine blush; it fascinated him, and
if anything could have deepened the glamour about
her, it would have been this blush. He did not
understand it, but when he saw it he stumbled.
Those who gaped and stared were for him only
blurs in the background; truly, he saw "men as
trees walking"; and when it became necessary to
step out to the curb in passing some clump of
people, it was to him as if Ariel and he, enchantedly
alone, were working their way through underbrush
in the woods.
He kept trying to realize that this lady of wonder
was Ariel Tabor, but he could not; he could not
connect the shabby Ariel, whom he had treated as
one boy treats another, with this young woman of
the world. He had always been embarrassed, himself,
and ashamed of her, when anything she did
made him remember that, after all, she was a girl;
as, on the day he ran away, when she kissed a lock
of his hair escaping from the bandage. With that
recollection, even his ears grew red: it did not seem
probable that it would ever happen again! The
next instant he heard himself calling her "Miss
At this she seemed amused. "You ought to have
called me that, years ago," she said, "for all you
knew me!"
"I did know her--YOU, I mean!" he answered.
"I used to know nearly everything you were going
to say before you said it. It seems strange now--"
"Yes," she interrupted. "It does seem strange
"Somehow," he went on, "I doubt if now I'd
"Somehow," she echoed, with fine gravity, "I
doubt it, too."
Although he had so dim a perception of the staring
and whispering which greeted and followed them,
Ariel, of course, was thoroughly aware of it, though
the only sign she gave was the slight blush, which
very soon disappeared. That people turned to
look at her may have been not altogether a novelty:
a girl who had learned to appear unconscious of the
Continental stare, the following gaze of the boulevards,
the frank glasses of the Costanza in Rome,
was not ill equipped to face Main Street, Canaan,
even as it was to-day.
Under the sycamores, before they started, they
had not talked a great deal; there had been long
silences: almost all her questions concerning the
period of his runaway absence; she appeared to
know and to understand everything which had happened
since his return to the town. He had not,
in his turn, reached the point where he would begin
to question her; he was too breathless in his
consciousness of the marvellous present hour. She
had told him of the death of Roger Tabor, the year
before. "Poor man," she said, gently, "he lived to
see `how the other fellows did it' at last, and
everybody liked him. He was very happy over there."
After a little while she had said that it was
growing close upon lunch-time; she must be going back.
"Then--then--good-bye," he replied, ruefully.
"I'm afraid you don't understand. It wouldn't
do for you to be seen with me. Perhaps, though,
you do understand. Wasn't that why you asked me
to meet you out here beyond the bridge?"
In answer she looked at him full and straight for
three seconds, then threw back her head and closed
her eyes tight with laughter. Without a word she
took the parasol from him, opened it herself, placed
the smooth white coral handle of it in his hand, and
lightly took his arm. There was no further demur
on the part of the young man. He did not know
where she was going; he did not ask.
Soon after Norbert turned to follow them, they
came to the shady part of the street, where the town
in summer was like a grove. Detachments from
the procession had already, here and there, turned
in at the various gates. Nobody, however,
appeared to have gone in-doors, except for fans, armed
with which immediately to return to rockers upon
the shaded verandas. As Miss Tabor and Joe
went by, the rocking-chairs stopped; the fans
poised, motionless; and perspiring old gentlemen,
wiping their necks, paused in arrested attitudes.
Once Ariel smiled politely, not at Mr. Louden,
and inclined her head twice, with the result that the
latter, after thinking for a time of how gracefully
she did it and how pretty the top of her hat was,
became gradually conscious of a meaning in her
action: that she had bowed to some one across the
street. He lifted his hat, about four minutes late,
and discovered Mamie Pike and Eugene, upon the
opposite pavement, walking home from church
together. Joe changed color.
There, just over the way, was she who had been,
in his first youth, the fairy child, the little princess
playing in the palace yard, and always afterward
his lady of dreams, his fair unreachable moon! And
Joe, seeing her to-day, changed color; that was all!
He had passed Mamie in the street only a week
before, and she had seemed all that she had always
seemed; to-day an incomprehensible and subtle
change had befallen her--a change so mystifying to
him that for a moment he almost doubted that she
was Mamie Pike. It came to him with a breathtaking
shock that her face lacked a certain vivacity
of meaning; that its sweetness was perhaps too
placid; that there would have been a deeper goodness
in it had there been any hint of daring.
Astonishing questions assailed him, startled him:
could it be true that, after all, there might be some
day too much of her? Was her amber hair a little
too--FLUFFY? Was something the matter with her
dress? Everything she wore had always seemed so
beautiful. Where had the exquisiteness of it gone?
For there was surely no exquisiteness about it now!
It was incredible that any one could so greatly alter
in the few days elapsed since he had seen her.
Strange matters! Mamie had never looked
At the sound of Ariel's voice he emerged from
the profundities of his psychic enigma with a leap.
"She is lovelier than ever, isn't she?"
"Yes, indeed," he answered, blankly.
"Would you still risk--" she began, smiling,
but, apparently thinking better of it, changed her
question: "What is the name of your dog, Mr.
Louden? You haven't told me."
"Oh, he's just a yellow dog," he evaded, unskilfully.
"YOUNG MAN!" she said, sharply.
"Well," he admitted, reluctantly, "I call him
Speck for short."
"And what for long? I want to know his real
"It's mighty inappropriate, because we're fond
of each other," said Joe, "but when I picked him
up he was so yellow, and so thin, and so creeping,
and so scared that I christened him `Respectability.' "
She broke into light laughter, stopped short in
the midst of it, and became grave. "Ah, you've
grown bitter," she said, gently.
"No, no," he protested. "I told you I liked
She did not answer.
They were now opposite the Pike Mansion, and
to his surprise she turned, indicating the way by
a touch upon his sleeve, and crossed the street
toward the gate, which Mamie and Eugene had entered.
Mamie, after exchanging a word with Eugene
upon the steps, was already hurrying into the
Ariel paused at the gate, as if waiting for Joe
to open it.
He cocked his head, his higher eyebrow rose,
and the distorted smile appeared. "I don't
believe we'd better stop here," he said. "The last
time I tried it I was expunged from the face of
the universe."
"Don't you know?" she cried. "I'm staying
here. Judge Pike has charge of all my property;
he was the administrator, or something." Then
seeing him chopfallen and aghast, she went on:
"Of course you don't know! You don't know
anything about me. You haven't even asked!"
"You're going to live HERE?" he gasped.
"Will you come to see me?" she laughed. "Will
you come this afternoon?"
He grew white. "You know I can't," he said.
"You came here once. You risked a good deal
then, just to see Mamie dance by a window. Don't
you dare a little for an old friend?"
"All right," he gulped. "I'll try."
Mr. Bantry had come down to the gate and was
holding it open, his eyes fixed upon Ariel, within
them a rising glow. An impression came to Joe
afterward that his step-brother had looked very
"Possibly you remember me, Miss Tabor?" said
Eugene, in a deep and impressive voice, lifting his
hat. "We were neighbors, I believe, in the old
She gave him her hand in a fashion somewhat
mannerly, favoring him with a bright, negligent
smile. "Oh, quite," she answered, turning again
to Joe as she entered the gate. "Then I shall
expect you?"
"I'll try," said Joe. "I'll try."
He stumbled away; Respectability and he, together,
interfering alarmingly with the comfort of
Mr. Flitcroft, who had stopped in the middle of the
pavement to stare glassily at Ariel. Eugene
accompanied the latter into the house, and Joe,
looking back, understood: Mamie had sent his stepbrother
to bring Ariel in--and to keep him from
"This afternoon!" The thought took away his
breath, and he became paler.
The Pike brougham rolled by him, and Sam
Warden, from the box, favored his old friend upon
the pavement with a liberal display of the whites
of his eyes. The Judge, evidently, had been
detained after services--without doubt a meeting of
the church officials. Mrs. Pike, blinking and
frightened, sat at her husband's side, agreeing
feebly with the bull-bass which rumbled out of
the open window of the brougham: "I want
orthodox preaching in MY church, and, by God,
madam, I'll have it! That fellow has got to go!"
Joe took off his hat and wiped his brow.
Mamie, waiting just inside the door as Ariel and
Eugene entered, gave the visitor a pale greeting,
and, a moment later, hearing the wheels of the brougham
crunch the gravel of the carriage-drive, hurried away,
down the broad hall, and disappeared. Ariel dropped her
parasol upon a marble-topped table near the door, and,
removing her gloves, drifted into a room at the
left, where a grand piano found shelter beneath
crimson plush. After a moment of contemplation,
she pushed back the coverlet, and, seating herself
upon the plush-covered piano-stool (to match),
let her fingers run up and down the key-board once
and fall listlessly in her lap, as she gazed with deep
interest at three life-sized colored photographs (in
carved gilt frames) upon the wall she was facing:
Judge Pike, Mamie, and Mrs. Pike with her rubies.
"Please don't stop playing, Miss Tabor," said a
voice behind her. She had not observed that
Eugene had followed her into the room.
"Very well, if you like," she answered, looking
up to smile absently at him. And she began to
play a rakish little air which, composed by some
rattle-brain at a cafe table, had lately skipped out
of the Moulin Rouge to disport itself over Paris.
She played it slowly, in the minor, with elfish
pathos; while he leaned upon the piano, his eyes
fixed upon her fingers, which bore few rings, none,
he observed with an unreasonable pleasure, upon
the third finger of the left hand.
"It's one of those simpler Grieg things, isn't
it?" he said, sighing gently. "I care for Grieg."
"Would you mind its being Chaminade?" she
returned, dropping her eyes to cloak the sin.
"Ah no; I recognize it now," replied Eugene.
"He appeals to me even more than Grieg."
At this she glanced quickly up at him, but more
quickly down again, and hastened the time
emphatically, swinging the little air into the major.
"Do you play the `Pilgrim's Chorus'?"
She shook her head.
"Vous name pas Wagner?" inquired Eugene,
leaning toward her.
"Oh yes," she answered, bending her head far
over, so that her face was concealed from him,
except the chin, which, he saw with a thrill of in
explicable emotion, was trembling slightly. There
were some small white flowers upon her hat, and
these shook too.
She stopped playing abruptly, rose from the
stool and crossed the room to a large mahogany
chair, upholstered in red velvet and of hybrid
construction, possessing both rockers and legs. She
had moved in a way which prevented him from
seeing her face, but he was certain of her agitation,
and strangely glad, while curious, tremulous halfthoughts,
edged with prophecy, bubbled to the
surface of his consciousness.
When she turned to him, he was surprised to
see that she looked astonishingly happy, almost
as if she had been struggling with joy, instead of
"This chair," she said, sinking into it, "makes
me feel at home."
Naturally he could not understand.
"Because," she explained, "I once thought I
was going to live in it. It has been reupholstered,
but I should know it if I met in anywhere in the
"How very odd!" exclaimed Eugene, staring.
"I settled here in pioneer days," she went on,
tapping the arms lightly with her finger-tips. "It
was the last dance I went to in Canaan."
"I fear the town was very provincial at that
time," he returned, having completely forgotten
the occasion she mentioned, therefore wishing to
shift the subject. "I fear you may still find it
so. There is not much here that one is in sympathy
with, intellectually--few people really of
the world."
"Few people, I suppose you mean," she said,
softly, with a look that went deep enough into his
eyes, "few people who really understand one?"
Eugene had seated himself on the sill of an open
window close by. "There has been," he answered,
with the ghost of a sigh, "no one."
She turned her head slightly away from him,
apparently occupied with a loose thread in her sleeve.
There were no loose threads; it was an old habit of
hers which she retained. "I suppose," she
murmured, in a voice as low as his had been, "that a
man of your sort might find Canaan rather lonely
and sad."
"It HAS been!" Whereupon she made him a
laughing little bow.
"You are sure you complain of Canaan?"
"Yes!" he exclaimed. "You don't know what
it is to live here--"
"I think I do. I lived here seventeen years."
"Oh yes," he began to object, "as a child, but--"
"Have you any recollection," she interrupted,
"of the day before your brother ran away? Of
coming home for vacation--I think it was your first
year in college--and intervening between your
brother and me in a snow-fight?"
For a moment he was genuinely perplexed; then
his face cleared. "Certainly," he said: "I found
him bullying you and gave him a good punishing
for it."
"Is that all you remember?"
"Yes," he replied, honestly. "Wasn't that all?"
"Quite!" she smiled, her eyes half closed.
"Except that I went home immediately afterward."
"Naturally," said Eugene. "My step-brother
wasn't very much chevalier sans peur et sans reproche!
Ah, I should like to polish up my French a
little. Would you mind my asking you to read a
bit with me, some little thing of Daudet's if you
care for him, in the original? An hour, now and
then, perhaps--"
Mamie appeared in the doorway and Eugene rose
swiftly. "I have been trying to persuade Miss
Tabor," he explained, with something too much of
laughter, "to play again. You heard that little
thing of Chaminade's--"
Mamie did not appear to hear him; she entered
breathlessly, and there was no color in her cheeks.
"Ariel," she exclaimed, "I don't want you to think
I'm a tale-bearer--"
"Oh, my dear!" Ariel said, with a gesture of
"No," Miss Pike went on, all in one breath, "but
I'm afraid you will think it, because papa knows and
he wants to see you."
"What is it that he knows?"
"That you were walking with Joseph Louden!"
(This was as if she had said, "That you poisoned
your mother.") "I DIDN'T tell him, but when we
saw you with him I was troubled, and asked
Eugene what I'd better do, because Eugene always
knows what is best." (Mr. Bantry's expression,
despite this tribute, was not happy.) "And he
advised me to tell mamma about it and leave it
in her hands. But she always tells papa everything--"
"Certainly; that is understood," said Ariel,
slowly, turning to smile at Eugene.
"And she told him this right away," Mamie
"Why shouldn't she, if it is of the slightest
interest to him?"
The daughter of the house exhibited signs of
consternation. "He wants to see you," she repeated,
falteringly. "He's in the library."
Having thus discharged her errand, she hastened
to the front-door, which had been left open, and out
to the steps, evidently with the intention of
removing herself as soon and as far as possible from
the vicinity of the library.
Eugene, visibly perturbed, followed her to the
doorway of the room, and paused.
"Do you know the way?" he inquired, with a
note of solemnity.
"Where?" Ariel had not risen.
"To the library."
"Of course," she said, beaming upon him. "I
was about to ask you if you wouldn't speak to
the Judge for me. This is such a comfortable old
friend, this chair."
"Speak to him for you?" repeated the nonplussed
She nodded cheerfully. "If I may trouble you.
Tell him, certainly, I shall be glad to see him."
He threw a piteous glance after Mamie, who was
now, as he saw, through the open door, out upon the
lawn and beyond easy hailing distance. When he
turned again to look at Ariel he discovered that she
had shifted the position of her chair slightly, and
was gazing out of the window with every appearance
of cheerful meditation. She assumed so unmistakably
that he had of course gone on her mission
that, dismayed and his soul quaking, he could find
neither an alternative nor words to explain to this
dazzling lady that not he nor any other could bear
such a message to Martin Pike.
Eugene went. There was nothing else to do; and
he wished with every step that the distance to the
portals of the library might have been greater.
In whatever guise he delivered the summons, it
was perfectly efficacious. A door slammed, a heavy
and rapid tread was heard in the hall, and Ariel,
without otherwise moving, turned her head and
offered a brilliant smile of greeting.
"It was good of you," she said, as the doorway
filled with red, imperial wrath, "to wish to have a
little chat with me. I'm anxious, of course, to go
over my affairs with you, and last night, after my
journey, I was too tired. But now we might begin;
not in detail, of course, just yet. That will do for
later, when I've learned more about business."
The great one had stopped on the threshold.
"Madam," he began, coldly, "when I say my
library, I mean my--"
"Oh yes," she interrupted, with amiable weariness.
"I know. You mean you keep all the
papers and books of the estate in there, but I think
we'd better put them off for a few days--"
"I'm not talking about the estate!" he exclaimed.
"What I want to talk to you about is being seen
with Joseph Louden!"
"Yes," she nodded, brightly. "That's along the
line we must take up first."
"Yes, it is!" He hurled his bull-bass at her.
"You knew everything about him and his standing
in this community! I know you did, because Mrs.
Pike told me you asked all about him from Mamie
after you came last night, and, see here, don't
"Oh, but I knew before that," she laughed. "I
had a correspondent in Canaan, one who has always
taken a great interest in Mr. Louden. I asked Miss
Pike only to get her own point of view."
"I want to tell you, madam," he shouted,
coming toward her, "that no member of my household--"
"That's another point we must take up to-day.
I'm glad you remind me of it," she said, thoughtfully,
yet with so magically compelling an intonation
that he stopped his shouting in the middle of
a word; stopped with an apoplectic splutter. "We
must arrange to put the old house in order at once."
"We'll arrange nothing of the sort," he responded,
after a moment of angry silence. "You're
going to stay right here."
"Ah, I know your hospitality," she bowed,
graciously. "But of course I must not tax it too
far. And about Mr. Louden? As I said, I want
to speak to you about him."
"Yes," he intervened, harshly. "So do I, and
I'm going to do it quick! You'll find--"
Again she mysteriously baffled him. "He's a
dear old friend of mine, you know, and I have made
up my mind that we both need his help, you and I."
"Yes," she continued, calmly, "in a business way
I mean. I know you have great interests in a hundred
directions, all more important than mine; it
isn't fair that you should bear the whole burden of
my affairs, and I think it will be best to retain Mr.
Louden as my man of business. He could take all
the cares of the estate off your shoulders."
Martin Pike spoke no word, but he looked at her
strangely; and she watched him with sudden keenness,
leaning forward in her chair, her gaze alert but
quiet, fixed on the dilating pupils of his eyes. He
seemed to become dizzy, and the choleric scarlet
which had overspread his broad face and big neck
faded splotchily.
Still keeping her eyes upon him, she went on:
"I haven't asked him yet, and so I don't know
whether or not he'll consent, but I think it possible
that he may come to see me this afternoon, and if
he does we can propose it to him together and go
over things a little."
Judge Pike recovered his voice. "He'll get a
warm welcome," he promised, huskily, "if he sets
foot on my premises!"
"You mean you prefer I shouldn't receive him
here?" She nodded pleasantly. "Then certainly
I shall not. Such things are much better for offices;
you are quite right."
"You'll not see him at all!"
"Ah, Judge Pike," she lifted her hand with
gentle deprecation, "don't you understand that we
can't quite arrange that? You see, Mr. Louden is
even an older friend of mine than you are, and so I
must trust his advice about such things more than
yours. Of course, if he too should think it better
for me not to see him--"
The Judge advanced toward her. "I'm tired of
this," he began, in a loud voice. "I'm--"
She moved as if to rise, but he had come very
close, leaning above her, one arm out-stretched and
at the end of it a heavy forefinger which he was
shaking at her, so that it was difficult to get out of
her chair without pushing him away--a feat
apparently impossible. Ariel Tabor, in rising, placed
her hand upon his out-stretched arm, quite as if
he had offered it to assist her; he fell back a step in
complete astonishment; she rose quickly, and
released his arm.
"Thank you," she said, beamingly. "It's quite
all my fault that you're tired. I've been thoughtless
to keep you so long, and you have been standing,
too!" She swept lightly and quickly to the
door, where she paused, gathering her skirts. "I
shall not detain you another instant! And if Mr.
Louden comes, this afternoon, I'll remember. I'll
not let him come in, of course. It will be perhaps
pleasanter to talk over my proposition as we walk!"
There was a very faint, spicy odor like wild roses
and cinnamon left in the room where Martin Pike
stood alone, staring whitely at the open doorway,
There was a custom of Canaan,
time-worn and seldom honored in
the breach, which put Ariel, that
afternoon, in easy possession of a
coign of vantage commanding the
front gate. The heavy Sunday dinner was finished
in silence (on the part of Judge Pike, deafening)
about three o'clock, and, soon after, Mamie tossed
a number of cushions out upon the stoop between
the cast-iron dogs,--Sam Warden having previously
covered the steps with a rug and placed several
garden chairs near by on the grass. These simple
preparations concluded, Eugene sprawled
comfortably upon the rug, and Mamie seated herself
near him, while Ariel wandered with apparent
aimlessness about the lawn, followed by the gaze
of Mr. Bantry, until Miss Pike begged her, a little
petulantly, to join them.
She came, looking about her dreamily, and
touching to her lips, now and then, with an absent
air, a clover blossom she had found in the longer
grass against the fence. She stopped to pat the
neck of one of the cast-iron deer, and with grave
eyes proffered the clover-top first for inspection,
then as food. There were those in the world
who, seeing her, might have wondered that the
deer did not play Galatea and come to life.
"No?" she said, aloud, to the steadfast head.
"You won't? What a mistake to be made of castiron!"
She smiled and nodded to a clump of lilacbushes
near a cedar-tree, and to nothing else--so
far as Eugene and Mamie could see,--then walked
thoughtfully to the steps.
"Who in the world were you speaking to?" asked
Mamie, curiously.
"That deer."
"But you bowed to some one."
"Oh, that," Ariel lifted her eyebrows,--"that
was your father. Didn't you see him?"
"I believe you can't from here, after all," said
Ariel, slowly. "He is sitting upon a rustic bench
between the bushes and the cedar-tree, quite near
the gate. No, you couldn't see him from here;
you'd have to go as far as the deer, at least, and
even then you might not notice him, unless you
looked for him. He has a book--a Bible, I think--
but I don't think he is reading."
"He usually takes a nap on Sunday afternoons,"
said Mamie.
"I don't think he will, to-day." Ariel looked at
Eugene, who avoided her clear gaze. "He has the
air of having settled himself to stay for a long time,
perhaps until evening."
She had put on her hat after dinner, and Mamie
now inquired if she would not prefer to remove it,
offering to carry it in-doors for her, to Ariel's
room, to insure its safety. "You look so sort of
temporary, wearing it," she urged, "as if you were
only here for a little while. It's the loveliest hat I
ever saw, and so fragile, too, but I'll take care--"
Ariel laughed, leaned over, and touched the
other's hand lightly. "It isn't that, dear."
"What is it, then?" Mamie beamed out into a
joyful smile. She had felt sure that she could not
understand Ariel; was, indeed, afraid of her; and
she found herself astonishingly pleased to be called
"dear," and delighted with the little familiarity
of the hand-tap. Her feeling toward the visitor
(who was, so her father had announced, to become
a permanent member of the household) had been,
until now, undefined. She had been on her guard,
watching for some sign of conscious "superiority"
in this lady who had been so long over-seas, not
knowing what to make of her; though thrown,
by the contents of her trunks, into a wistfulness
which would have had something of rapture in it
had she been sure that she was going to like Ariel.
She had gone to the latter's room before church,
and had perceived uneasily that it had become,
even by the process of unpacking, the prettiest
room she had ever seen. Mrs. Warden, wife of
Sam, and handmaiden of the mansion, was assisting,
alternately faint and vociferous with marvelling.
Mamie feared that Ariel might be a little
With the word "dear" (that is, of course, with the
way it was spoken), and with the touch upon the
hand, it was all suddenly settled; she would not
understand Ariel always--that was clear--but they
would like each other.
"I am wearing my hat," answered Ariel,
"because at any moment I may decide to go for a long
"Oh, I hope not," said Mamie. "There are sure
to be people: a few still come, even though I'm an
engaged girl. I expect that's just to console me,
though," she added, smiling over this worn quip
of the betrothed, and shaking her head at Eugene,
who grew red and coughed. "There'll be plenty
to-day, but they won't be here to see me. It's you,
Ariel, and they'd be terribly disappointed if you
weren't here. I shouldn't wonder if the whole
town came; it's curious enough about you!"
Canaan (at least that part of it which Mamie
meant when she said "the whole town") already
offered testimony to her truthfulness. Two gentlemen,
aged nine and eleven, and clad in white
"sailor suits," were at that moment grooving their
cheeks between the round pickets of the gate.
They had come from the house across the street,
evidently stimulated by the conversation at their
own recent dinner-table (they wore a few deposits
such as are left by chocolate-cake), and the motive
of their conduct became obvious when, upon being
joined by a person from next door (a starched and
frilled person of the opposite sex but sympathetic
age), one of them waggled a forefinger through the
gate at Ariel, and a voice was heard in explanation:
There was a rustle in the lilac-bushes near the
cedar-tree; the three small heads turned simultaneously
in that direction; something terrific was
evidently seen, and with a horrified "OOOH!" the
trio skedaddled headlong.
They were but the gay vanguard of the life
which the street, quite dead through the Sunday
dinner-hour, presently took on. Young couples
with their progeny began to appear, returning
from the weekly reunion Sunday dinner with
relatives; young people meditative (until they reached
the Pike Mansion), the wives fanning themselves
or shooing the tots-able-to-walk ahead of them,
while the husbands, wearing long coats, satin ties,
and showing dust upon their blazing shoes,
invariably pushed the perambulators. Most of these
passers-by exchanged greetings with Mamie and
Eugene, and all of them looked hard at Ariel as
long as it was possible.
And now the young men of the town, laboriously
arranged as to apparel, began to appear on the
street in small squads, making their Sunday rounds;
the youngest working in phalanxes of threes and
fours, those somewhat older inclining to move in
pairs; the eldest, such as were now beginning to
be considered middle-aged beaux, or (by the
extremely youthful) "old bachelors," evidently
considered it advantageous to travel alone. Of all
these, there were few who did not, before evening
fell, turn in at the gate of the Pike Mansion.
Consciously, shyly or confidently, according to the
condition of their souls, they made their way
between the cast-iron deer to be presented to the
Ariel sat at the top of the steps, and, looking
amiably over their heads, talked with such as
could get near her. There were many who could
not, and Mamie, occupying the bench below, was
surrounded by the overflow. The difficulty of
reaching and maintaining a position near Miss
Tabor was increased by the attitude and behavior
of Mr. Flitcroft, who that day cooled the feeling
of friendship which several of his fellow-townsmen
had hitherto entertained for him. He had been
the first to arrive, coming alone, though that was
not his custom, and he established himself at
Ariel's right, upon the step just below her, so
disposing the great body and the ponderous arms and
legs the gods had given him, that no one could
mount above him to sit beside her, or approach
her from that direction within conversational
distance. Once established, he was not to be
dislodged, and the only satisfaction for those in
this manner debarred from the society of the
beautiful stranger was obtained when they were
presented to her and when they took their departure.
On these occasions it was necessary by custom for
them to shake her hand, a ceremony they accomplished
by leaning across Mr. Flitcroft, which was a
long way to lean, and the fat back and shoulders
were sore that night because of what had been
surreptitiously done to them by revengeful elbows
and knees.
Norbert, not ordinarily talkative, had nothing
to say; he seemed to find sufficient occupation in
keeping the place he had gained; and from this
close vantage he fastened his small eyes immovably
upon Ariel's profile. Eugene, also apparently
determined not to move, sat throughout the
afternoon at her left, but as he was thin, others,
who came and went, were able to approach upon
that side and hold speech with her.
She was a stranger to these young people, most
of whom had grown up together in a nickname
intimacy. Few of them had more than a very
imperfect recollection of her as she was before Roger
Tabor and she had departed out of Canaan. She
had lived her girlhood only upon their borderland,
with no intimates save her grandfather and
Joe; and she returned to her native town "a
revelation and a dream," as young Mr. Bradbury told
his incredulous grandmother that night.
The conversation of the gallants consisted, for
the greater part, of witticisms at one another's
expense, which, though evoked for Ariel's benefit (all
eyes furtively reverting to her as each shaft was
loosed), she found more or less enigmatical. The
young men, however, laughed at each other loudly,
and seemed content if now and then she smiled.
"You must be frightfully ennuied with all this,"
Eugene said to her. "You see how provincial we
still are."
She did not answer; she had not heard him. The
shadows were stretching themselves over the grass,
long and attenuated; the sunlight upon the trees
and houses was like a thin, rosy pigment; black
birds were calling each other home to beech and
elm; and Ariel's eyes were fixed upon the western
distance of the street where gold-dust was beginning
to quiver in the air. She did not hear Eugene,
but she started, a moment later, when the name
"Joe Louden" was pronounced by a young man,
the poetic Bradbury, on the step below Eugene.
Some one immediately said "'SH!" But she leaned
over and addressed Mr. Bradbury, who, shut out,
not only from the group about her, but from the
other centring upon Miss Pike, as well, was holding
a private conversation with a friend in like misfortune.
"What were you saying of Mr. Louden?" she
asked, smiling down upon the young man. (It
was this smile which inspired his description of her
as "a revelation and a dream.")
"Oh, nothing particular," was his embarrassed
reply. "I only mentioned I'd heard there was
some talk among the--" He paused awkwardly,
remembering that Ariel had walked with Joseph
Louden in the face of Canaan that very day.
"That is, I mean to say, there's some talk of his
running for Mayor."
There was a general exclamation, followed by
an uncomfortable moment or two of silence. No
one present was unaware of that noon walk, though
there was prevalent a pleasing notion that it would
not happen again, founded on the idea that Ariel,
having only arrived the previous evening, had
probably met Joe on the street by accident, and,
remembering him as a playmate of her childhood
and uninformed as to his reputation, had, naturally
enough, permitted him to walk home with her.
Mr. Flitcroft broke the silence, rushing into words
with a derisive laugh: "Yes, he's `talked of' for
Mayor--by the saloon people and the niggers! I
expect the Beaver Beach crowd would be for him,
and if tramps could vote he might--"
"What is Beaver Beach?" asked Ariel, not turning.
"What is Beaver Beach?" he repeated, and cast
his eyes to the sky, shaking his head awesomely.
"It's a Place," he said, with abysmal solemnity,
--"a Place I shouldn't have mentioned in your
presence, Miss Tabor."
"What has it to do with Mr. Louden?"
The predestined Norbert conceived the present
to be a heaven-sent opportunity to enlighten her
concerning Joe's character, since the Pikes
appeared to have been derelict in the performance of
this kindness.
"He goes there!" he proceeded heavily. "He
lived there for a while when he first came back
from running away, and he's a friend of Mike
Sheehan's that runs it; he's a friend of all the riffraff
that hang around there."
"How do you know he goes there?"
"Why, it was in the paper the day after he came
back!" He appealed for corroboration. "Wasn't
it, Eugene?"
"No, no!" she persisted. "Newspapers are
sometimes mistaken, aren't they?" Laughing a
little, she swept across the bulbous face beside her
a swift regard that was like a search-light. "How
do you KNOW, Mr. Flitcroft," she went on very
rapidly, raising her voice,--"how do you KNOW
that Mr. Louden is familiar with this place? The
newspapers may have been falsely informed; you
must admit that? Then how do you KNOW?
Have you ever MET any one who has seen him there?"
"I've seen him there myself!" The words
skipped out of Norbert's mouth like so many little
devils, the instant he opened it. She had spoken
so quickly and with such vehemence, looking him
full in the eye, that he had forgotten everything in
the world except making the point to which her
insistence had led him.
Mamie looked horrified; there was a sound of
smothered laughter, and Norbert, overwhelmed by
the treachery of his own mouth, sat gasping.
"It can't be such a terrific place, then, after all,"
said Ariel, gently, and turning to Eugene, "Have
you ever been there, Mr. Bantry?" she asked.
He changed color, but answered with enough
glibness: "No."
Several of the young men rose; the wretched
Flitcroft, however, evading Mamie's eye--in which
there was a distinct hint,--sat where he was until
all of them, except Eugene, had taken a reluctant
departure, one group after another, leaving in the
order of their arrival.
The rosy pigment which had colored the trees
faded; the gold-dust of the western distance danced
itself pale and departed; dusk stalked into the
town from the east; and still the watcher upon the
steps and the warden of the gate (he of the lilacbushes
and the Bible) held their places and waited
--waited, alas! in vain. . . . Ah! Joe, is THIS the
mettle of your daring? Did you not say you would
"try"? Was your courage so frail a vessel that
it could not carry you even to the gate yonder?
Surely you knew that if you had striven so far,
there you would have been met! Perhaps you
foresaw that not one, but two, would meet you at
the gate, both the warden and the watcher. What
of that? What of that, O faint heart? What
was there to fear? Listen! The gate clicks. Ah,
have you come at last?
Ariel started to her feet, but the bent figure,
coming up the walk in the darkness, was that of
Eskew Arp. He bowed gloomily to Mamie, and
in response to her inquiry if he wished to see her
father, answered no; he had come to talk with the
granddaughter of his old friend Roger Tabor.
"Mr. Arp!" called Ariel. "I am so very glad!"
She ran down to him and gave him her hand.
"We'll sit here on the bench, sha'n't we?"
Mamie had risen, and skirting Norbert frostily,
touched Eugene upon the shoulder as she went
up the steps. He understood that he was to follow
her in-doors, and, after a deep look at the
bench where Ariel had seated herself beside Mr.
Arp, he obeyed. Norbert was left a lonely ruin
between the cold, twin dogs. He had wrought
desolation this afternoon, and that sweet verdure,
his good name, so long in the planting, so carefully
tended, was now a dreary waste; yet he contemplated
this not so much as his present aspect of
splendid isolation. Frozen by the daughter of the
house, forgotten by the visitor, whose conversation
with Mr. Arp was carried on in tones so low that he
could not understand it, the fat one, though heartbreakingly
loath to take himself away, began to
comprehend that his hour had struck. He rose,
descended the steps to the bench, and seated himself
unexpectedly upon the cement walk at Ariel's feet.
"Leg's gone to sleep," he explained, in response
to her startled exclamation; but, like a great soul,
ignoring the accident of his position as well as the
presence of Mr. Arp, he immediately proceeded:
"Will you go riding with me to-morrow afternoon?"
"Aren't you very good-natured, Mr. Flitcroft?"
she asked, with an odd intonation.
"I'm imposed on, often enough," he replied,
rubbing his leg, "by people who think I am! Why?"
"It is only that your sitting so abruptly upon
the ground reminded me of something that happened
long ago, before I left Canaan, the last time
I met you."
"I don't think I knew you before you went
away. You haven't said if you'll go riding with
me to-morrow. Please--"
"Get up," interrupted Mr. Arp, acidly. "Somebody
'll fall over you if you stay there."
Such a catastrophe in truth loomed imminent.
Judge Pike was rapidly approaching on his way to
the house, Bible in hand--far better in hand than
was his temper, for it is an enraging thing to
wait five hours in ambush for a man who does not
come. In the darkness a desecration occurred,
and Norbert perfected to the last detail whatever
had been left incomplete of his own destruction.
He began lumberingly to rise, talking at the same
time, urging upon Ariel the charms of the roadside;
wild flowers were in blossom, he said,
recounting the benefits she might derive through
acceptance of his invitation; and having, thus
busily, risen to his knees, became aware that some
one was passing near him. This some one Mr.
Flitcroft, absorbed in artful persuasions, may have
been betrayed by the darkness to mistake for
Eugene. Reaching out for assistance, he mechanically
seized upon the skirts of a coat, which he put
to the uses of a rope, coming up hand-over-hand
with such noble weight and energy that he brought
himself to his feet and the owner of the coat to the
ground simultaneously. The latter, hideously
astonished, went down with an objurgation so
outrageous in venom that Mr. Arp jumped with the
shock. Judge Pike got to his feet quickly, but not
so quickly as the piteous Flitcroft betook himself
into the deep shadows of the street. Only a word,
hoarse and horror-stricken, was left quivering on the
night breeze by this accursed, whom the gods, intent
upon his ruin, had early in the day, at his first sight
of Ariel, in good truth, made mad: "MURDER!"
"Can I help you brush off, Judge?" asked Eskew,
rising painfully.
Either Martin Pike was beyond words, or the
courtesy proposed by the feeble old fellow (for
Eskew was now very far along in years, and looked
his age) emphasized too bitterly the indignity
which had been put upon him: whatever the case,
he went his way in-doors, leaving the cynic's offer
unacknowledged. Eskew sank back upon the
bench, with the little rusty sounds, suggestions of
creaks and sighs, which accompany the movement
of antiques. "I've always thought," he said, "that
the Judge had spells when he was hard of hearing."
Oblongs of light abruptly dropped from the
windows confronting them, one, falling across the
bench, appropriately touching with lemon the
acrid, withered face and trembling hands of the
veteran. "You are younger than you were nine
years ago, Mr. Arp," said Ariel, gayly. "I caught
a glimpse of you upon the street, to-day, and I
thought so then. Now I see that I was right."
"Me--YOUNGER!" he groaned. "No, ma'am! I'm
mighty near through with this fool world--and I'd
be glad of it, if I didn't expect that if there IS
another one afterwards, it would be jest as ornery!"
She laughed, leaning forward, resting her elbows
on her knee, and her chin in her hand, so that the
shadow of her hat shielded her eyes from the light.
"I thought you looked surprised when you saw
me to day."
"I reckon I did!" he exclaimed. "Who wouldn't
of been?"
"Why?" he repeated, confounded by her
simplicity. "Why?"
"Yes," she laughed. "That's what I'm anxious
to know."
"Wasn't the whole town the same way?" he
demanded. "Did you meet anybody that didn't
look surprised?"
"But why should they?"
"Good Lord Admighty!" he broke out. "Ain't
you got any lookin'-glasses?"
"I think almost all I have are still in the customs
"Then use Mamie Pike's," responded the old
man. "The town never dreamed you were goin'
to turn out pretty at all, let alone the WAY you've
turned out pretty! The Tocsin had a good deal
about your looks and so forth in it once, in a letter
from Paris, but the folks that remembered you
kind of set that down to the way papers talk about
anybody with money, and nobody was prepared
for it when they saw you. You don't need to drop
no curtseys to ME." He set his mouth grimly, in
response to the bow she made him. "_I_ think
female beauty is like all other human furbelows,
and as holler as heaven will be if only the good
people are let in! But yet I did stop to look at
you when you went past me to-day, and I kept
on lookin', long as you were in sight. I reckon I
always will, when I git the chance, too--only
shows what human nature IS! But that wasn't
all that folks were starin' at to-day. It was your
walkin' with Joe Louden that really finished 'em,
and I can say it upset me more than anything I've
seen for a good many years."
"Upset you, Mr. Arp?" she cried. "I don't
quite see."
The old man shook his head deploringly. "After
what I'd written you about that boy--"
"Ah," she said, softly, touching his sleeve with
her fingers, "I haven't thanked you for that."
"You needn't," he returned, sharply. "It was
a pleasure. Do you remember how easy and
quick I promised you?"
"I remember that you were very kind."
"Kind!" He gave forth an acid and chilling
laugh. "It was about two months after Louden
ran away, and before you and Roger left Canaan,
and you asked me to promise to write to you whenever
word of that outcast came--"
"I didn't put it so, Mr. Arp."
"No, but you'd ought of! You asked me to
write you whatever news of him should come, and
if he came back to tell you how and when and all
about it. And I did it, and kept you sharp on his
record ever since he landed here again. Do you
know why I've done it? Do you know why I
promised so quick and easy I WOULD do it?"
"Out of the kindness of your heart, I think."
The acid laugh was repeated. "NO, ma 'am!
You couldn't of guessed colder. I promised, and
I kept my promise, because I knew there would
never be anything good to tell! AND THERE NEVER
"Nothing at all?" she insisted, gravely.
"Never! I leave it to you if I've written one
good word of him."
"You've written of the treatment he has
received here," she began, "and I've been able to
see what he has borne--and bears!"
"But have I written one word to show that he
didn't deserve it all? Haven't I told you everything,
of his associates, his--"
"Indeed you have!"
"Then do you wonder that I was more surprised
than most when I saw you walking with him today?
Because I knew you did it in cold blood
and knowledge aforethought! Other folks thought
it was because you hadn't been here long enough
to hear his reputation, but I KNEW!"
"Tell me," she said, "if you were disappointed
when you saw me with him."
"Yes," he snapped. "I was!"
"I thought so. I saw the consternation in your
face! You APPROVED, didn't you?"
"I don't know what you're talking about!"
"Yes, you do! I know it bothers you to have
me read you between the lines, but for this once
you must let me. You are so consistent that you
are never disappointed when things turn out badly,
or people are wicked or foolish, are you?"
"No, certainly not. I expect it."
"And you were disappointed in me to-day.
Therefore, it must be that I was doing something
you knew was right and good. You see?" She
leaned a little closer to him, smiling angelically.
"Ah, Mr. Arp," she cried, "I know your secret:
you ADMIRE me!"
He rose, confused and incoherent, as full of
denial as a detected pickpocket. "I DON'T! Me ADMIRE?
WHAT? It's an ornery world," he protested.
"I don't admire any human that ever lived!"
"Yes, you do," she persisted. "I've just proved
it! But that is the least of your secret; the great
thing is this: YOU ADMIRE MR. LOUDEN!"
"I never heard such nonsense," he continued to
protest, at the same time moving down the walk
toward the gate, leaning heavily on his stick.
"Nothin' of the kind. There ain't any LOGIC to
that kind of an argument, nor no REASON!"
"You see, I understand you," she called after
him. "I'm sorry you go away in the bitterness
of being found out."
"Found out!" His stick ceased for a moment
to tap the cement. "Pooh!" he ejaculated,
uneasily. There was a pause, followed by a malevolent
chuckle. "At any rate," he said, with joy
in the afterthought, "you'll never go walkin' with
him AGAIN!"
He waited for the answer, which came, after a
time, sadly. "Perhaps you are right. Perhaps
I shall not."
"Ha, I thought so! Good-night."
"Good-night, Mr. Arp."
She turned toward the lighted house. Through
the windows nearest her she could see Mamie,
seated in the familiar chair, following with happy
and tender eyes the figure of Eugene, who was
pacing up and down the room. The town was
deadly quiet: Ariel could hear the sound of footsteps
perhaps a block away. She went to the gate
and gazed a long time into the empty street,
watching the yellow grains of light, sieved through
the maples from the arc lights on the corner,
moving to and fro in the deep shadow as the lamp
swung slightly in the night air. Somewhere, not
far away, the peace was broken by the screams of
a "parlor organ," which honked and wailed in
pious agonies (the intention was hymnal),
interminably protracting each spasm. Presently a
woman's voice outdid the organ, a voice which
made vivid the picture of the woman who owned
it, and the ploughed forehead of her, above the
nose-glasses, when the "grace-notes" were proudly
given birth. "Rescue the Perishing" was the
startlingly appropriate selection, rendered with
inconceivable lingering upon each syllable: "Rooscyoo
the Poor-oosh-oong!" At unexpected intervals
two male voices, evidently belonging to
men who had contracted the habit of holding tin in
their mouths, joined the lady in a thorough search
for the Lost Chord.
That was the last of silence in Canaan for an
hour or so. The organ was merely inaugural:
across the street a piano sounded; firm, emphatic,
determined, vocal competition with the instrument
here also; "Rock of Ages" the incentive. Another
piano presently followed suit, in a neighboring
house: "Precious Jewels." More distant, a second
organ was heard; other pianos, other organs, took
up other themes; and as a wakeful puppy's barking
will go over a village at night, stirring first the
nearer dogs to give voice, these in turn stimulating
those farther away to join, one passing the
excitement on to another, until hounds in farmyards
far beyond the town contribute to the longdistance
conversation, even so did "Rescue the
Perishing" enliven the greater part of Canaan.
It was this that made Ariel realize a thing of
which hitherto she had not been able to convince
herself: that she was actually once more in the
town where she had spent her long-ago girlhood;
now grown to seem the girlhood of some other
person. It was true: her foot was on her native
heath and her name was Ariel Tabor--the very
name of the girl who had shared the town's
disapproval with Joe Louden! "Rescue the Perishing"
brought it all back to her; and she listened to
these sharply familiar rites of the Canaanite
Sabbath evening with a shiver of pain.
She turned from the gate to go into the house,
heard Eugene's voice at the door, and paused. He
was saying good-night to Mamie.
"And please say `au revoir' to Miss Tabor for
me," he added, peering out under his hand. "I
don't know where she can have gone."
"Probably she came in and went to her room,"
said Mamie.
"Don't forget to tell her `au revoir.' "
"I won't, dear. Good-night. "
"Good-night." She lifted her face and he kissed
her perfunctorily. Then he came down the steps
and went slowly toward the gate, looking about
him into the darkness as if searching for something;
but Ariel had fled away from the path of light that
led from the open door.
She skimmed noiselessly across the lawn and
paused at the side of the house, leaning against
the veranda, where, on a night long past, a boy
had hid and a girl had wept. A small creaking
sound fell upon her ear, and she made out an
ungainly figure approaching, wheeling something of
curious shape.
"Is that you, Sam?" she said.
Mr. Warden stopped, close by. "Yes'm," he
replied. "I'm a-gittin' out de hose to lay de dus'
yonnah." He stretched an arm along the crossbar
of the reel, relaxing himself, apparently, for
conversation. "Y'all done change consid'able,
Miss Airil," he continued, with the directness of one
sure of privilege.
"You think so, Sam?"
"Yes'm. Ev'ybody think so, _I_ reckon. Be'n
a tai'ble lot o' talkum 'bout you to-day. Dun'no'
how all dem oth' young ladies goin' take it!" He
laughed with immoderate delight, yet, as to the
volume of mere sound, discreetly, with an eye to
open windows. "You got 'em all beat, Miss Airil!
Dey ain' be'n no one 'roun' dis town evah got in a
thousum mile o' you! Fer looks, an' de way you
walk an' ca'y yo'self; an' as fer de clo'es--name o'
de good lan', honey, dey ain' nevah SEE style befo'!
My ole woman say you got mo' fixin's in a minute
dan de whole res' of 'em got in a yeah. She say
when she helpin' you onpack she must 'a' see mo'n
a hunerd paihs o' slippahs alone! An' de good
Man knows I 'membuh w'en you runnin' roun'
back-yods an' up de alley rompin' 'ith Joe Louden,
same you's a boy!"
"Do you ever see Mr. Louden, nowadays?" she
His laugh was repeated with the same discreet
violence. "Ain' I seen him dis ve'y day, fur up
de street at de gate yonnah, stan'in' 'ith you, w'en
I drivin' de Judge?"
"You--you didn't happen to see him anywhere
this--this afternoon?"
"No'm, I ain' SEE him." Sam's laughter
vanished and his lowered voice became serious. "I
ain' SEE him, but I hearn about him."
"What did you hear?"
"Dey be 'n consid'able stir on de aidge o ' town,
I reckon," he answered, gravely, "an' dey be'n
havin' some trouble out at de Beach--"
"Beaver Beach, do you mean?"
"Yes'm. Dey be'n some shootin' goin' on out
dat way."
She sprang forward and caught at his arm without
"Joe Louden all right," he said, reassuringly.
"Ain' nuffum happen to him! Nigh as I kin mek
out f'm de TALK, dat Happy Fear gone on de ramPAGE
ag'in, an' dey hatta sent fer Mist' Louden to
come in a hurry."
As upon a world canopied with storm,
hung with mourning purple and habited
in black, did Mr. Flitcroft turn
his morning face at eight o'clock
antemeridian Monday, as he hied
himself to his daily duty at the Washington
National Bank. Yet more than the merely funereal
gloomed out from the hillocky area of his
countenance. Was there not, i'faith, a glow, a Vesuvian
shimmer, beneath the murk of that darkling eye?
Was here one, think you, to turn the other cheek?
Little has he learned of Norbert Flitcroft who
conceives that this fiery spirit was easily to be
quenched! Look upon the jowl of him, and let him who
dares maintain that people--even the very Pikes
themselves--were to grind beneath their brougham
wheels a prostrate Norbert and ride on scatheless!
In this his own metaphor is nearly touched "I
guess not! They don't run over ME! Martin Pike
better look out how he tries it!"
So Mother Nature at her kindly tasks, good
Norbert, uses for her unguent our own perfect
inconsistency: and often when we are stabbed deep
in the breast she distracts us by thin scratches in
other parts, that in the itch of these we may forget
the greater hurt till it be healed. Thus, the
remembrance of last night, when you undisguisedly
ran from the wrath of a Pike, with a pretty girl
looking on (to say nothing of the acrid Arp, who
will fling the legend on a thousand winds), might
well agonize you now, as, in less hasty moments
and at a safe distance, you brood upon the piteous
figure you cut. On the contrary, behold: you see
no blood crimsoning the edges of the horrid gash
in your panoply of self-esteem: you but smart and
scratch the scratches, forgetting your wound in
the hot itch for vengeance. It is an itch which
will last (for in such matters your temper shall be
steadfast), and let the great Goliath in the mean
time beware of you! You ran, last night. You
ran--of course you ran. Why not? You ran to
fight another day!
A bank clerk sometimes has opportunities.
The stricken fat one could not understand how
it came about that he had blurted out the damning
confession that he had visited Beaver Beach.
When he tried to solve the puzzle, his mind refused
the strain, became foggy and the terrors of his
position acute. Was he, like Joe Louden, to endure
the ban of Canaan, and like him stand excommunicate
beyond the pale because of Martin Pike's
displeasure? For Norbert saw with perfect
clearness to-day what the Judge had done for Joe.
Now that he stood in danger of a fate identical,
this came home to him. How many others, he
wondered, would do as Mamie had done and write
notes such as he had received by the hand of Sam
Warden, late last night?
"DEAR SIR." (This from Mamie, who, in the Canaanitish
way, had been wont to address him as "Norb"!)--
"My father wishes me to state that after your remark
yesterday afternoon on the steps which was overheard by
my mother who happened to be standing in the hall behind
you and your BEHAVIOR to himself later on--he considers
it impossible to allow you to call any more or to speak to
any member of his household.
"Yours respectfully,
Erasures and restorations bore witness to a
considerable doubt in Mamie's mind concerning "Yours
respectfully," but she had finally let it stand,
evidently convinced that the plain signature, without
preface, savored of an intimacy denied by the context.
"`DEAR SIR'!" repeated Norbert, between set
teeth. "`IMPOSSIBLE TO ALLOW YOU TO CALL any more'!"
These and other terms of his dismissal recurred to
him during the morning, and ever and anon he
looked up from his desk, his lips moving to the tune
of those horrid phrases, and stared out at the street.
Basilisk glaring this, with no Christian softness in it,
not even when it fell upon his own grandfather,
sitting among the sages within easy eye-shot from
the big window at Norbert's elbow. However,
Colonel Flitcroft was not disturbed by the gaze
of his descendant, being, in fact, quite unaware
of it. The aged men were having a busy morning.
The conclave was not what it had been. [See Arp
and all his works.] There had come, as the years
went by, a few recruits; but faces were missing:
the two Tabors had gone, and Uncle Joe Davey
could no longer lay claim to the patriarchship; he
had laid it down with a half-sigh and gone his way.
Eskew himself was now the oldest of the conscript
fathers, the Colonel and Squire Buckalew pressing
him closely, with Peter Bradbury no great time
To-day they did not plant their feet upon the
brass rail inside the hotel windows, but courted
the genial weather out-doors, and, as their summer
custom was, tilted back their chairs in the shade of
the western wall of the building.
"And who could of dreamed," Mr. Bradbury was
saying, with a side-glance of expectancy at Eskew,
"that Jonas Tabor would ever turn out to have a
niece like that!"
Mr. Arp ceased to fan himself with his wide straw
hat and said grimly:
"I don't see as Jonas HAS `turned out'--not in
particular! If he's turned at all, lately, I reckon
it's in his grave, and I'll bet he HAS if he had any
way of hearin' how much she must of spent for
"I believe," Squire Buckalew began, "that young
folks' memories are short."
"They're lucky!" interjected Eskew. "The shorter
your memory the less meanness you know."
"I meant young folks don't remember as well as
older people do," continued the Squire. "I don't
see what's so remarkable in her comin' back and
walkin' up-street with Joe Louden. She used to go
kitin' round with him all the time, before she left
here. And yet everybody talks as if they never
HEARD of sech a thing!"
"It seems to me," said Colonel Flitcroft, hesitatingly,
"that she did right. I know it sounds kind
of a queer thing to say, and I stirred up a good deal
of opposition at home, yesterday evening, by sort
of mentioning something of the kind. Nobody
seemed to agree with me, except Norbert, and he
didn't SAY much, but--"
He was interrupted by an uncontrollable cackle
which issued from the mouth of Mr. Arp. The
Colonel turned upon him with a frown, inquiring the
cause of his mirth.
"It put me in mind," Mr. Arp began promptly,
"of something that happened last night."
"What was it?"
Eskew's mouth was open to tell, but he remembered,
just in time, that the grandfather of Norbert
was not the audience properly to be selected for this
recital, choked a half-born word, coughed loudly,
realizing that he must withhold the story of the
felling of Martin Pike until the Colonel had taken
his departure, and replied:
"Nothin' to speak of. Go on with your argument."
"I've finished," said the Colonel. "I only
wanted to say that it seems to me a good action for a
young lady like that to come back here and stick
to her old friend and playmate."
"STICK to him!" echoed Mr. Arp. "She walked
up Main Street with him yesterday. Do you call
that stickin' to him? She's been away a good
while; she's forgotten what Canaan IS. You wait
till she sees for herself jest what his standing in this
"I agree with Eskew for once," interrupted Peter
Bradbury. "I agree because--"
"Then you better wait," cried Eskew, allowing
him to proceed no farther, "till you hear what you're
agreein' to! I say: you take a young lady like that,
pretty and rich and all cultured up, and it stands
to reason that she won't--"
"No, it don't," exclaimed Buckalew, impatiently.
"Nothing of the sort! I tell you--"
Eskew rose to his feet and pounded the pavement
with his stick. "It stands to reason that she won't
stick to a man no other decent woman will speak to,
a feller that's been the mark for every stone throwed
in the town, ever since he was a boy, an outcast
with a reputation as black as a preacher's shoes on
Sunday! I don't care if he's her oldest friend on
EARTH, she won't stick to him! She walked with him
yesterday, but you can mark my words: his goose
is cooked!" The old man's voice rose, shrill and
high. "It ain't in human nature fer her to do it!
You hear what I say: you'll never see her with Joe
Louden again in this livin' world, and she as good
as told me so, herself, last night. You can take
your oath she's quit him already! Don't--"
Eskew paused abruptly, his eyes widening
behind his spectacles; his jaw fell; his stick, raised to
hammer the pavement, remained suspended in the
air. A sudden color rushed over his face, and he
dropped speechless in his chair. The others, after
staring at him in momentary alarm, followed the
direction of his gaze.
Just across Main Street, and in plain view, was the
entrance to the stairway which led to Joe's office.
Ariel Tabor, all in cool gray, carrying a big bunch of
white roses in her white-gloved hands, had just
crossed the sidewalk from a carriage and was
ascending the dark stairway. A moment later she
came down again, empty-handed, got into the carriage,
and drove away.
"She missed him," said Squire Buckalew. "I
saw him go out half an hour ago. BUT," he
added, and, exercising a self-restraint close upon
the saintly, did not even glance toward the
heap which was Mr. Arp, "I notice she left her
Ariel was not the only one who climbed the dingy
stairs that day and read the pencilled script upon
Joe's door: "Will not return until evening. J.
Louden." Many others came, all exceedingly unlike
the first visitor: some were quick and watchful,
dodging into the narrow entrance furtively; some
smiled contemptuously as long as they were in view
of the street, drooping wanly as they reached the
stairs: some were brazen and amused; and some
were thin and troubled. Not all of them read the
message, for not all could read, but all looked
curiously through the half-opened door at the many
roses which lifted their heads delicately from a
water-pitcher on Joe's desk to scent that dusty
place with their cool breath.
Most of these clients, after a grunt of
disappointment, turned and went away; though there
were a few, either unable to read the message or
so pressed by anxiety that they disregarded it,
who entered the room and sat down to wait for
the absentee. [There were plenty of chairs in the
office now, bookcases also, and a big steel safe.]
But when evening came and the final gray of twilight
had vanished from the window-panes, all
had gone except one, a woman who sat patiently,
her eyes upon the floor, and her hands folded in
her lap, until the footsteps of the last of the others
to depart had ceased to sound upon the pavement
below. Then, with a wordless exclamation, she
sprang to her feet, pulled the window-shade carefully
down to the sill, and, when she had done
that, struck a match on the heel of her shoe--a
soiled white canvas shoe, not a small one--and
applied the flame to a gas jet. The yellow light
flared up; and she began to pace the room haggardly.
The court-house bell rang nine, and as the
tremors following the last stroke pulsed themselves
into silence, she heard a footfall on the
stairs and immediately relapsed into a chair,
folding her hands again in her lap, her expression
composing itself to passivity, for the step was very
much lighter than Joe's.
A lady beautifully dressed in white dimity
appeared in the doorway. She hesitated at the threshold,
not, apparently, because of any timidity (her
expression being too thoughtfully assured for that),
but almost immediately she came in and seated
herself near the desk, acknowledging the other's
presence by a slight inclination of the head.
This grave courtesy caused a strong, deep flush
to spread itself under the rouge which unevenly
covered the woman's cheeks, as she bowed elaborately
in return. Then, furtively, during a protracted
silence, she took stock of the new-comer,
from the tip of her white suede shoes to the filmy
lace and pink roses upon her wide white hat; and
the sidelong gaze lingered marvellingly upon the
quiet, delicate hands, slender and finely expressive,
in their white gloves.
Her own hands, unlike the lady's, began to
fidget confusedly, and, the silence continuing, she
coughed several times, to effect the preface required
by her sense of fitness, before she felt it proper to
observe, with a polite titter:
"Mr. Louden seems to be a good while comin'."
"Have you been waiting very long?" asked the
"Ever since six o'clock!"
"Yes," said the other. "That is very long."
"Yes, ma'am, it cert'nly is." The ice thus
broken, she felt free to use her eyes more directly,
and, after a long, frank stare, exclaimed:
"Why, you must be Miss Ariel Tabor, ain't you?"
"Yes." Ariel touched one of the roses upon
Joe's desk with her finger-tips. "I am Miss
"Well, excuse me fer asking; I'm sure it ain't
any business of mine," said the other, remembering
the manners due one lady from another. "But
I thought it must be. I expect," she added, with
loud, inconsequent laughter, "there's not many
in Canaan ain't heard you've come back." She
paused, laughed again, nervously, and again, less
loudly, to take off the edge of her abruptness:
gradually tittering herself down to a pause, to
fill which she put forth: "Right nice weather we
be'n havin'."
"Yes," said Ariel.
"It was rainy, first of last week, though. _I_ don't
mind rain so much"--this with more laughter,--
"I stay in the house when it rains. Some people
don't know enough to, they say! You've heard
that saying, ain't you, Miss Tabor?"
"Well, I tell YOU," she exclaimed, noisily,
"there's plenty ladies and gen'lemen in this town
that's like that!"
Her laughter did not cease; it became louder and
shriller. It had been, until now, a mere lubrication
of the conversation, helping to make her easier
in Miss Tabor's presence, but as it increased in
shrillness, she seemed to be losing control of herself,
as if her laughter were getting away with her;
she was not far from hysteria, when it stopped with
a gasp, and she sat up straight in her chair, white
and rigid.
"THERE!" she said, listening intently. "Ain't
that him?" Steps sounded upon the pavement
below; paused for a second at the foot of the stairs;
there was the snap of a match; then the steps
sounded again, retreating. She sank back in her
chair limply. "It was only some one stoppin' to
light his cigar in the entry. It wasn't Joe Louden's
step, anyway."
"You know his step?" Ariel's eyes were bent
upon the woman wonderingly.
"I'd know it to-night," was the answer, delivered
with a sharp and painful giggle. "I got plenty
reason to!"
Ariel did not respond. She leaned a little closer
to the roses upon the desk, letting them touch her
face, and breathing deeply of their fragrance to
neutralize a perfume which pervaded the room;
an odor as heavy and cheap-sweet as the face of
the woman who had saturated her handkerchief
with it, a scent which went with her perfectly and
made her unhappily definite; suited to her clumsily
dyed hair, to her soiled white shoes, to the hot red
hat smothered in plumage, to the restless stubfingered
hands, to the fat, plated rings, of which
she wore a great quantity, though, surprisingly
enough, the large diamonds in her ears were pure,
and of a very clear water.
It was she who broke the silence once more.
"Well," she drawled, coughing genteelly at the
same time, "better late than never, as the saying
is. I wonder who it is gits up all them comical
sayings?" Apparently she had no genuine desire
for light upon this mystery, as she continued,
immediately: "I have a gen'leman friend that's
always gittin' 'em off. `Well,' he says, `the best of
friends must part,' and, `Thou strikest me to the
heart'--all kinds of cracks like that. He's real
comical. And yet, "she went on in an altered
voice, "I don't like him much. I'd be glad if I'd
never seen him."
The change of tone was so marked that Ariel
looked at her keenly, to find herself surprised into
pitying this strange client of Joe's; for tears had
sprung to the woman's eyes and slid along the lids,
where she tried vainly to restrain them. Her face
had altered too, like her voice, haggard lines
suddenly appearing about the eyes and mouth as if
they had just been pencilled there: the truth
issuing from beneath her pinchbeck simulations, like
a tragic mask revealed by the displacement of a
tawdry covering.
"I expect you think I'm real foolish," she said,
"but I be'n waitin' so awful long--and I got a good
deal of worry on my mind till I see Mr. Louden."
"I am sorry," Ariel turned from the roses, and
faced her and the heavy perfume. "I hope he
will come soon."
"I hope so," said the other. "It's something to
do with me that keeps him away, and the longer he
is the more it scares me." She shivered and set her
teeth together. "It's kind of hard, waitin'. I
cert'nly got my share of troubles."
"Don't you think that Mr. Louden will be able
to take care of them for you?"
"Oh, I HOPE so, Miss Tabor! If he can't,
nobody can." She was crying openly now, wiping
her eyes with her musk-soaked handkerchief. "We
had to send fer him yesterday afternoon--"
"To come to Beaver Beach, do you mean?"
asked Ariel, leaning forward.
"Yes, ma'am. It all begun out there,--leastways
it begun before that with me. It was all
my fault. I deserve all that's comin' to me, I
guess. I done wrong--I done wrong! I'd oughtn't
never to of went out there yesterday."
She checked herself sharply, but, after a
moment's pause, continued, encouraged by the grave
kindliness of the delicate face in the shadow of the
wide white hat. "I'd oughtn't to of went," she
repeated. "Oh, I reckon I'll never, never learn
enough to keep out o' trouble, even when I see it
comin'! But that gentleman friend of mine--Mr.
Nashville Cory's his name--he kind o' coaxed me
into it, and he's right comical when he's with ladies,
and he's good company--and he says, `Claudine,
we'll dance the light fantastic,' he says, and I kind
o' wanted something cheerful--I'd be'n workin'
steady quite a spell, and it looked like he wanted
to show me a good time, so I went, and that's what
started it." Now that she had begun, she babbled
on with her story, at times incoherently; full of
excuses, made to herself more than to Ariel, pitifully
endeavoring to convince herself that the responsibility
for the muddle she had made was not hers.
"Mr. Cory told me my husband was drinkin' and
wouldn't know about it, and, `Besides,' he says,
`what's the odds?' Of course I knowed there was
trouble between him and Mr. Fear--that's my husband
--a good while ago, when Mr. Fear up and
laid him out. That was before me and Mr. Fear
got married; I hadn't even be'n to Canaan then;
I was on the stage. I was on the stage quite a
while in Chicago before I got acquainted with my
"You were on the stage?" Ariel exclaimed,
"Yes, ma'am. Livin' pitchers at Goldberg's
Rat'skeller, and amunchoor nights I nearly always
done a sketch with a gen'leman friend. That's the
way I met Mr. Fear; he seemed to be real struck
with me right away, and soon as I got through my
turn he ast me to order whatever I wanted. He's
always gen'lemanlike when he ain't had too much,
and even then he vurry, vurry seldom acks rough
unless he's jealous. That was the trouble yesterday.
I never would of gone to the Beach if I'd
dreamed what was comin'! When we got there I
saw Mike--that's the gen'leman that runs the
Beach--lookin' at my company and me kind of
anxious, and pretty soon he got me away from Mr.
Cory and told me what's what. Seems this Cory
only wanted me to go with him to make my husband
mad, and he'd took good care that Mr. Fear
heard I'd be there with him! And he'd be'n hangin'
around me, every time he struck town, jest to
make Mr. Fear mad--the fresh thing! You see he
wanted to make my husband start something again,
this Mr. Cory did, and he was fixed for it."
"I don't understand," said Ariel.
"It's this way: if Mr. Fear attacted Mr. Cory,
why, Mr. Cory could shoot him down and claim selfdefence.
You see, it would be easy for Mr. Cory,
because Mr Fear nearly killed him when they had
their first trouble, and that would give Mr. Cory a
good excuse to shoot if Mr. Fear jest only pushed
him. That's the way it is with the law. Mr. Cory
could wipe out their old score and git off scot-free."
"Surely not!"
"Yes, ma'am, that's the way it would be. And
when Mike told me that Mr. Cory had got me out
there jest to provoke my husband I went straight
up to him and begun to give him a piece of my mind.
I didn't talk loud, because I never was one to make
a disturbance and start trouble the way SOME do;
and right while I was talkin' we both see my husband
pass the window. Mr. Cory give a kind of
yelling laugh and put his arm round me jest as Mr.
Fear come in the door. And then it all happened
so quick that you could hardly tell what WAS goin'
on. Mr. Fear, we found afterwards, had promised
Mr. Louden that he wouldn't come out there, but he
took too much--you could see that by the look of
him--and fergot his promise; fergot everything but
me and Cory, I guess.
"He come right up to us, where I was tryin' to
git away from Cory's arm--it was the left one he
had around me, and the other behind his back--and
neither of 'em said a word. Cory kept on laughin'
loud as he could, and Mr. Fear struck him in the
mouth. He's little, but he can hit awful hard, and
Mr. Cory let out a screech, and I see his gun go off--
right in Mr. Fear's face, I thought, but it wasn't; it
only scorched him. Most of the other gen'lemen
had run, but Mike made a dive and managed to
knock the gun to one side, jest barely in time.
Then Mike and three or four others that come out
from behind things separated 'em--both of 'em
fightin' to git at each other. They locked Mr. Cory
up in Mike's room, and took Mr. Fear over to where
they hitch the horses. Then Mike sent fer Mr.
Louden to come out to talk to my husband and take
care of him--he's the only one can do anything with
him when he's like that--but before Mr. Louden
could git there, Mr. Fear broke loose and run
through a corn-field and got away; at least they
couldn't find him. And Mr. Cory jumped through
a window and slid down into one of Mike's boats,
so they'd both gone. When Mr. Louden come, he
only stayed long enough to hear what had happened
and started out to find Happy--that's my husband.
He's bound to keep them apart, but he hasn't found
Mr. Fear yet or he'd be here."
Ariel had sunk back in her chair. "Why should
your husband hide?" she asked, in a low voice.
"Waitin' fer his chance at Cory," the woman
answered, huskily. "I expect he's afraid the cops
are after him, too, on account of the trouble, and he
doesn't want to git locked up till he's met Cory
again. They ain't after him, but he may not know
it. They haven't heard of the trouble, I reckon, or
they'd of run Cory in. HE'S around town to-day,
drinkin' heavy, and I guess he's lookin' fer Mr. Fear
about as hard as Mr. Louden is." She rose to her
feet, lifted her coarse hands, and dropped them
despairingly. "Oh, I'm scared!" she said. "Mr.
Fear's be'n mighty good to me."
A slow and tired footstep was heard upon the
stairs, and Joe's dog ran into the room droopingly,
wagged his tail with no energy, and crept under
the desk. Mrs. Fear wheeled toward the door and
stood, rigid, her hands clenched tight, her whole
body still, except her breast, which rose and
fell with her tumultuous breathing. She could
not wait till the laggard step reached the landing.
"MR. LOUDEN!" she called, suddenly.
Joe's voice came from the stairway. "It's all
right, Claudine. It's all fixed up. Don't worry."
Mrs. Fear gave a thick cry of relief and sank back
in her chair as Joe entered the room. He came in
shamblingly, with his hand over his eyes as if they
were very tired and the light hurt them, so that,
for a moment or two, he did not perceive the second
visitor. Then he let his hand fall, revealing a face
very white and worn.
"It's all right, Claudine," he repeated. "It's all
He was moving to lay his hat on the desk when
his eye caught first the roses, then fell upon Ariel,
and he stopped stock-still with one arm outstretched,
remaining for perhaps ten seconds in that attitude,
while she, her lips parted, her eyes lustrous,
returned his gaze with a look that was as
inscrutable as it was kind.
"Yes," she said, as if in answer to a question, "I
have come here twice to-day." She nodded slightly
toward Mrs. Fear. "I can wait. I am very
glad you bring good news."
Joe turned dazedly toward the other. "Claudine,"
he said, "you've been telling Miss Tabor."
"I cert'nly have!" Mrs. Fear's expression had
cleared and her tone was cheerful. "I don't see no
harm in that! I'm sure she's a good friend of YOURS,
Mr. Louden."
Joe glanced at Ariel with a faint, troubled smile,
and turned again to Mrs. Fear. "I've had a long
talk with Happy."
"I'm awful glad. Is he ready to listen to reason?
she asked, with a titter.
"He's waiting for you."
"Where?" She rose quickly.
"Stop," said Joe, sharply. "You must be very
careful with him--"
"Don't you s'pose I'm goin' to be?" she
interrupted, with a catch in her voice. "Don't you
s'pose I've had trouble enough?"
"No," said Joe, deliberately and impersonally,
"I don't. Unless you keep remembering to be
careful all the time, you'll follow the first impulse
you have, as you did yesterday, and your excuse
will be that you never thought any harm would
come of it. He's in a queer mood; but he will forgive
you if you ask him--"
"Well, ain't that what I WANT to do!" she exclaimed.
"I know, I know," he said, dropping into the
desk-chair and passing his hand over his eyes with
a gesture of infinite weariness. "But you must be
very careful. I hunted for him most of the night
and all day. He was trying to keep out of my way
because he didn't want me to find him until he had
met this fellow Nashville. Happy is a hard man
to come at when he doesn't care to be found, and
he kept shifting from place to place until I ran him
down. Then I got him in a corner and told him
that you hadn't meant any harm--which is always
true of you, poor woman!--and I didn't leave him
till he had promised me to forgive you if you would
come and ask him. And you must keep him out of
Cory's way until I can arrange to have him--Cory,
I mean--sent out of town. Will you?"
"Why, cert'nly," she answered, smiling. "That
Nashville's the vurry last person I ever want to
see again--the fresh thing!" Mrs. Fear's burden
had fallen; her relief was perfect and she beamed
vapidly; but Joe marked her renewed irresponsibility
with an anxious eye.
"You mustn't make any mistakes," he said,
rising stiffly with fatigue.
"Not ME! _I_ don't take no more chances," she
responded, tittering happily. "Not after yesterday.
MY! but it's a load off my shoulders! I do
hate it to have gen'lemen quarrelling over me,
especially Mr. Fear. I never DID like to START
anything; I like to see people laugh and be friendly, and
I'm mighty glad it's all blown over. I kind o'
thought it would, all along. PSHO!" She burst
into genuine, noisy laughter. "I don't expect
either of 'em meant no real harm to each other,
after they got cooled off a little! If they'd met
to-day, they'd probably both run! Now, Mr.
Louden, where's Happy?"
Joe went to the door with her. He waited a
moment, perplexed, then his brow cleared and he
said in a low voice: "You know the alley beyond
Vent Miller's pool-room? Go down the alley till
you come to the second gate. Go in, and you'll see
a basement door opening into a little room under
Miller's bar. The door won't be locked, and Happy's
in there waiting for you. But remember--"
"Oh, don't you worry," she cut him off, loudly.
"I know HIM! Inside of an hour I'll have him
LAUGHIN' over all this. You'll see!"
When she had gone, he stood upon the landing
looking thoughtfully after her. "Perhaps, after
all, that is the best mood to let her meet him in,"
he murmured.
Then, with a deep breath, he turned. The
heavy perfume had gone; the air was clear and
sweet, and Ariel was pressing her face into the
roses again. As he saw how like them she was,
he was shaken with a profound and mysterious
sigh, like that which moves in the breast of one
who listens in the dark to his dearest music.
"I know how tired you are," said Ariel,
as he came back into the room. "I
shall not keep you long."
"Ah, please do!" he returned,
quickly, beginning to fumble with
the shade of a student-lamp at one end of the
"Let me do that," she said. "Sit down." He
obeyed at once, and watched her as she lit the lamp,
and, stretching upon tiptoe, turned out the gas.
"No," she continued, seated again and looking
across the desk at him, "I wanted to see you at the
first possible opportunity, but what I have to say--"
"Wait," he interrupted. "Let me tell you why
I did not come yesterday."
"You need not tell me. I know." She glanced
at the chair which had been occupied by Mrs. Fear.
"I knew last night that they had sent for you."
"You did?" he exclaimed. "Ah, I understand.
Sam Warden must have told you."
"Yes," she said. "It was he; and I have been
wondering ever since how he heard of it. He
knew last night, but there was nothing in the
papers this morning; and until I came here I
heard no one else speak of it; yet Canaan is not
Joe laughed. "It wouldn't seem strange if
you lived with the Canaan that I do. Sam had
been down-town during the afternoon and had met
friends; the colored people are a good deal like a
freemasonry, you know. A great many knew last
night all about what had happened, and had their
theories about what might happen to-day in case
the two men met. Still, you see, those who knew,
also knew just what people not to tell. The Tocsin
is the only newspaper worth the name here; but
even if the Tocsin had known of the trouble, it
wouldn't have been likely to mention it. That's
a thing I don't understand." He frowned and
rubbed the back of his head. "There's something
underneath it. For more than a year the Tocsin
hasn't spoken of Beaver Beach. I'd like to know
"Joe," she said, slowly, "tell me something
truly. A man said to me yesterday that he found
life here insufferable. Do you find it so?"
"Why, no!" he answered, surprised.
"Do you hate Canaan?"
"Certainly not."
"You don't find it dull, provincial, unsympathetic?"
He laughed cheerily. "Well, there's this," he
explained: "I have an advantage over your friend.
I see a more interesting side of things probably.
The people I live among are pretty thorough
cosmopolites in a way, and the life I lead--"
"I think I begin to understand a little about the
life you lead," she interrupted. "Then you don't
complain of Canaan?"
"Of course not."
She threw him a quick, bright, happy look, then
glanced again at the chair in which Mrs. Fear had
sat. "Joe," she said, "last night I heard the people
singing in the houses, the old Sunday-evening
way. It `took me back so'!"
"Yes, it would. And something else: there's
one hymn they sing more than any other; it's Canaan's
favorite. Do you know what it is?"
"Is it `Rescue the Perishing'?"
"That's it. `Rescue the Perishing'!" he cried,
and repeating the words again, gave forth a peal
of laughter so hearty that it brought tears to his
At first she did not understand his laughter,
but, after a moment, she did, and joined her own
to it, though with a certain tremulousness.
"It IS funny, isn't it?" said Joe, wiping the
moisture from his eyes. Then all trace of mirth
left him. "Is it really YOU, sitting here and laughing
with me, Ariel?"
"It seems to be," she answered, in a low voice.
"I'm not at all sure."
"You didn't think, yesterday afternoon," he
began, almost in a whisper,--" you didn't think that
I had failed to come because I--" He grew very
red, and shifted the sentence awkwardly: "I was
afraid you might think that I was--that I didn't
come because I might have been the same way
again that I was when--when I met you at the
"Oh no!" she answered, gently. "No. I knew
"And do you know," he faltered, "that that is
all over? That it can never happen again?"
"Yes, I know it," she returned, quickly.
"Then you know a little of what I owe you."
"No, no," she protested.
"Yes," he said. "You've made that change in
me already. It wasn't hard--it won't be--though
it might have been if--if you hadn't come soon."
"Tell me something," she demanded. "If these
people had not sent for you yesterday, would you
have come to Judge Pike's house to see me? You
said you would try." She laughed a little, and
looked away from him. "I want to know if you
would have come."
There was a silence, and in spite of her averted
glance she knew that he was looking at her steadily.
Finally, "Don't you know?" he said.
She shook her head and blushed faintly.
"Don't you know?" he repeated.
She looked up and met his eyes, and thereupon
both became very grave. "Yes, I do," she
answered. "You would have come. When you left
me at the gate and went away, you were afraid.
But you would have come."
"Yes,--I'd have come. You are right. I was
afraid at first; but I knew," he went on, rapidly,
"that you would have come to the gate to meet me."
"You understood that?" she cried, her eyes
sparkling and her face flushing happily.
"Yes. I knew that you wouldn't have asked
me to come," he said, with a catch in his voice
which was half chuckle, half groan, "if you hadn't
meant to take care of me! And it came to me that
you would know how to do it."
She leaned back in her chair, and again they
laughed together, but only for a moment, becoming
serious and very quiet almost instantly.
"I haven't thanked you for the roses," he said.
"Oh yes, you did. When you first looked at them!"
"So I did," he whispered. "I'm glad you saw.
To find them here took my breath away--and to
find you with them--"
"I brought them this morning, you know."
"Would you have come if you had not understood
why I failed yesterday?"
"Oh yes, I think so," she returned, the fine edge
of a smile upon her lips. "For a time last evening,
before I heard what had happened, I thought
you were too frightened a friend to bother about."
He made a little ejaculation, partly joyful, partly sad.
"And yet," she went on, "I think that I should
have come this morning, after all, even if you had
a poorer excuse for your absence, because, you
see, I came on business."
"You did?"
"That's why I've come again. That makes it
respectable for me to be here now, doesn't it?--for
me to have come out alone after dark without their
knowing it? I'm here as your client, Joe."
"Why?" he asked.
She did not answer at once, but picked up a pen
from beneath her hand on the desk, and turning it,
meditatively felt its point with her forefinger
before she said slowly, "Are most men careful of
other people's--well, of other people's money?"
"You mean Martin Pike?" he asked.
"Yes. I want you to take charge of everything
I have for me."
He bent a frowning regard upon the lampshade.
"You ought to look after your own
property," he said. "You surely have plenty of
"You mean--you mean you won't help me?"
she returned, with intentional pathos.
"Ariel!" he laughed, shortly, in answer; then
asked, "What makes you think Judge Pike isn't
"Nothing very definite perhaps, unless it was
his look when I told him that I meant to ask you
to take charge of things for me."
"He's been rather hard pressed this year, I
think," said Joe. "You might be right--if he
could have found a way. I hope he hasn't."
"I'm afraid," she began, gayly, "that I know
very little of my own affairs. He sent me a draft
every three months, with receipts and other things
to sign and return to him. I haven't the faintest
notion of what I own--except the old house and
some money from the income that I hadn't used
and brought with me. Judge Pike has all the
Joe looked troubled. "And Roger Tabor, did
"The dear man!" She shook her head. "He
was just the same. To him poor Uncle Jonas's
money seemed to come from heaven through the
hands of Judge Pike--"
"And there's a handsome roundabout way!"
said Joe.
"Wasn't it!" she agreed, cheerfully. "And he
trusted the Judge absolutely. I don't, you see."
He gave her a thoughtful look and nodded.
"No, he isn't a good man," he said, "not even
according to his lights; but I doubt if he could have
managed to get away with anything of consequence
after he became the administrator. He
wouldn't have tried it, probably, unless he was
more desperately pushed than I think he has been.
It would have been too dangerous. Suppose you
wait a week or so and think it over."
"But there's something I want you to do for me
immediately, Joe."
"What's that?"
"I want the old house put in order. I'm going
to live there."
"I'm almost twenty-seven, and that's being
enough of an old maid for me to risk Canaan's
thinking me eccentric, isn't it?"
"It will think anything you do is all right."
"And once," she cried, "it thought everything
I did all wrong!"
"Yes. That's the difference."
"You mean it will commend me because I'm
thought rich?"
"No, no," he said, meditatively, "it isn't that.
It's because everybody will be in love with you."
"Quite everybody!" she asked.
"Certainly," he replied. "Anybody who didn't
would be absurd."
"Ah, Joe!" she laughed. "You always were the
nicest boy in the world, my dear!"
At that he turned toward her with a sudden
movement and his lips parted, but not to speak.
She had rested one arm upon the desk, and her
cheek upon her hand; the pen she had picked up,
still absently held in her fingers, touching her lips;
and it was given to him to know that he would
always keep that pen, though he would never
write with it again. The soft lamplight fell across
the lower part of her face, leaving her eyes, which
were lowered thoughtfully, in the shadow of her
hat. The room was blotted out in darkness behind
her. Like the background of an antique portrait,
the office, with its dusty corners and shelves and
hideous safe, had vanished, leaving the charming
and thoughtful face revealed against an even,
spacious brownness. Only Ariel and the roses and
the lamp were clear; and a strange, small pain
moved from Joe's heart to his throat, as he thought
that this ugly office, always before so harsh and
grim and lonely--loneliest for him when it had
been most crowded,--was now transfigured into
something very, very different from an office; that
this place where he sat, with a lamp and flowers
on a desk between him and a woman who called
him "my dear," must be like--like something that
people called "home."
And then he leaned across the desk toward her,
as he said again what he had said a little while
before,--and his voice trembled:
"Ariel, it IS you?"
She looked at him and smiled.
"You'll be here always, won't you? You're not
going away from Canaan again?"
For a moment it seemed that she had not heard
him. Then her bright glance at him wavered and
fell. She rose, turning slightly away from him,
but not so far that he could not see the sudden
agitation in her face.
"Ah!" he cried, rising too, "I don't want you to
think I don't understand, or that I meant _I_ should
ever ask you to stay here! I couldn't mean that;
you know I couldn't, don't you? You know I
understand that it's all just your beautiful friendliness,
don't you?"
"It isn't beautiful; it's just ME, Joe," she said.
"It couldn't be any other way."
"It's enough that you should be here now," he
went on, bravely, his voice steady, though his hand
shook. "Nothing so wonderful as your staying
could ever actually happen. It's just a light
coming into a dark room and out again. One day,
long ago--I never forgot it--some apple-blossoms
blew by me as I passed an orchard; and it's
like that, too. But, oh, my dear, when you go
you'll leave a fragrance in my heart that will
She turned toward him, her face suffused with
a rosy light. "You'd rather have died than have
said that to me once," she cried. "I'm glad you're
weak enough now to confess it!"
He sank down again into his chair and his arms
fell heavily on the desk. "Confess it!" he cried,
despairingly. "And you don't deny that you're
going away again--so it's true! I wish I hadn't
realized it so soon. I think I'd rather have tried
to fool myself about it a little longer!"
"Joe," she cried, in a voice of great pain, "you
mustn't feel like that! How do you know I'm
going away again? Why should I want the old
house put in order unless I mean to stay? And if
I went, you know that I could never change; you
know how I've always cared for you--"
"Yes," he said, "I do know how. It was always
the same and it always will be, won't it?"
"I've shown that," she returned, quickly.
"Yes. You say I know how you've cared for
me--and I do. I know HOW. It's just in one certain
way--Jonathan and David--"
"Isn't that a pretty good way, Joe?"
"Never fear that I don't understand!" He got
to his feet again and looked at her steadily.
"Thank you, Joe." She wiped sudden tears
from her eyes.
"Don't you be sorry for me," he said. "Do
you think that `passing the love of women' isn't
enough for me?"
"No," she answered, humbly.
"I'll have people at work on the old house tomorrow,"
he began. "And for the--"
"I've kept you so long!" she interrupted, helped
to a meek sort of gayety by his matter-of-fact tone.
"Good-night, Joe." She gave him her hand. "I
don't want you to come with me. It isn't very
late and this is Canaan."
"I want to come with you, however," he said,
picking up his hat. "You can't go alone."
"But you are so tired, you--"
She was interrupted. There were muffled,
flying footsteps on the stairs, and a shabby little man
ran furtively into the room, shut the door behind
him, and set his back against it. His face was
mottled like a colored map, thick lines of
perspiration shining across the splotches.
"Joe," he panted, "I've got Nashville good, and
he's got me good, too;--I got to clear out. He's
fixed me good, damn him! but he won't trouble
Joe was across the room like a flying shadow.
"QUIET!" His voice rang like a shot, and on the
instant his hand fell sharply across the speaker's
mouth. "In THERE, Happy!"
He threw an arm across the little man's shoulders
and swung him toward the door of the other room.
Happy Fear looked up from beneath the downbent
brim of his black slouch hat; his eyes followed
an imperious gesture toward Ariel, gave her a
brief, ghastly stare, and stumbled into the inner
"Wait!" Joe said, cavalierly, to Ariel. He went
in quickly after Mr. Fear and closed the door.
This was Joseph Louden, Attorney-at-Law; and
to Ariel it was like a new face seen in a flash-light
--not at all the face of Joe. The sense of his
strangeness, his unfamiliarity in this electrical
aspect, overcame her. She was possessed by
astonishment: Did she know him so well, after
all? The strange client had burst in, shaken
beyond belief with some passion unknown to her,
but Joe, alert, and masterful beyond denial, had
controlled him instantly; had swept him into the
other room as with a broom. Could it be that
Joe sometimes did other things in the same sweeping
She heard a match struck in the next room, and
the voices of the two men: Joe's, then the other's,
the latter at first broken and protestive, but soon
rising shrilly. She could hear only fragments.
Once she heard the client cry, almost scream:
"By God! Joe, I thought Claudine had chased him
around there to DO me!" And, instantly, followed
Louden's voice:
The name "Claudine" startled her; and although
she had had no comprehension of the argot of
Happy Fear, the sense of a mysterious catastrophe
oppressed her; she was sure that something horrible
had happened. She went to the window;
touched the shade, which disappeared upward
immediately, and lifted the sash. The front of a
square building in the Court-house Square was
bright with lights; and figures were passing in and
out of the Main Street doors. She remembered
that this was the jail.
"Claudine!" The voice of the husband of
Claudine was like the voice of one lamenting over
"But, Joe, if they git me, what'll she do? She
can't hold her job no longer--not after this. . . ."
The door opened, and the two men came out,
Joe with his hand on the other's shoulder. The
splotches had gone from Happy's face, leaving it
an even, deathly white. He did not glance toward
Ariel; he gazed far beyond all that was about
him; and suddenly she was aware of a great tragedy.
The little man's chin trembled and he swallowed
painfully; nevertheless he bore himself upright
and dauntlessly as the two walked slowly to
the door, like men taking part in some fateful
ceremony. Joe stopped upon the landing at the
head of the stairs, but Happy Fear went on, clumping
heavily down the steps.
"It's all right, Happy," said Joe. "It's better
for you to go alone. Don't you worry. I'll see
you through. It will be all right."
"Just as YOU say, Joe," a breaking voice came
back from the foot of the steps,--"just as YOU say!"
The lawyer turned from the landing and went
rapidly to the window beside Ariel. Together they
watched the shabby little figure cross the street
below; and she felt an infinite pathos gathering
about it as it paused for a moment, hesitating,
underneath the arc-lamp at the corner. They saw
the white face lifted as Happy Fear gave one last
look about him; then he set his shoulders sturdily,
and steadfastly entered the door of the jail.
Joe took a deep breath. "Now we'll go," he
said. "I must be quick."
"What was it?" she asked, tremulously, as they
reached the street. "Can you tell me?"
"Nothing--just an old story."
He had not offered her his arm, but walked on
hurriedly, a pace ahead of her, though she came
as rapidly as she could. She put her hand rather
timidly on his sleeve, and without need of more
words from her he understood her insistence.
"That was the husband of the woman who told
you her story," he said. "Perhaps it would shock
you less if I tell you now than if you heard it tomorrow,
as you will. He's just shot the other
"Killed him!" she gasped.
"Yes," he answered. "He wanted to run away,
but I wouldn't let him. He has my word that
I'll clear him, and I made him give himself up."
When Joe left Ariel at Judge Pike's
gate she lingered there, her elbows
upon the uppermost cross-bar, like
a village girl at twilight, watching
his thin figure vanish into the heavy
shadow of the maples, then emerge momentarily,
ghost-gray and rapid, at the lighted crossing down
the street, to disappear again under the trees
beyond, followed a second later by a brownish streak
as the mongrel heeled after him. When they had
passed the second corner she could no longer be
certain of them, although the street was straight,
with flat, draughtsmanlike Western directness:
both figures and Joe's quick footsteps merging
with the night. Still she did not turn to go; did
not alter her position, nor cease to gaze down the
dim street. Few lights shone; almost all the windows
of the houses were darkened, and, save for
the summer murmurs, the faint creak of upper
branches, and the infinitesimal voices of insects in
the grass, there was silence: the pleasant and
somnolent hush, swathed in which that part of Canaan
crosses to the far side of the eleventh hour.
But Ariel, not soothed by this balm, sought
beyond it, to see that unquiet Canaan whither her
old friend bent his steps and found his labor and
his dwelling: that other Canaan where peace did
not fall comfortably with the coming of night; a
place as alien in habit, in thought, and almost in
speech as if it had been upon another continent.
And yet--so strange is the duality of towns--it lay
but a few blocks distant.
Here, about Ariel, as she stood at the gate of the
Pike Mansion, the houses of the good (secure of
salvation and daily bread) were closed and quiet,
as safely shut and sound asleep as the churches;
but deeper in the town there was light and life
and merry, evil industry,--screened, but strong to
last until morning; there were haunts of haggard
merriment in plenty: surreptitious chambers where
roulette-wheels swam beneath dizzied eyes; illfavored
bars, reached by devious ways, where
quavering voices offered song and were harshly
checked; and through the burdened air of this
Canaan wandered heavy smells of musk like that
upon Happy Fear's wife, who must now be so pale
beneath her rouge. And above all this, and for
all this, and because of all this, was that one resort
to which Joe now made his way; that haven
whose lights burn all night long, whose doors are
never closed, but are open from dawn until dawn
--the jail.
There, in that desolate refuge, lay Happy Fear,
surrendered sturdily by himself at Joe's word.
The picture of the little man was clear and fresh
in Ariel's eyes, and though she had seen him when
he was newly come from a thing so terrible that
she could not realize it as a fact, she felt only an
overwhelming pity for him. She was not even
horror-stricken, though she had shuddered. The
pathos of the shabby little figure crossing the street
toward the lighted doors had touched her. Something
about him had appealed to her, for he had
not seemed wicked; his face was not cruel, though
it was desperate. Perhaps it was partly his very
desperation which had moved her. She had
understood Joe, when he told her, that this man was
his friend; and comprehended his great fear when
he said: "I've got to clear him! I promised him."
Over and over Joe had reiterated: "I've got to
save him! I've got to!" She had answered
gently, "Yes, Joe," hurrying to keep up with him.
"He's a good man," he said. "I've known few
better, given his chances. And none of this would
have happened except for his old-time friendship
for me. It was his loyalty--oh, the rarest and
absurdest loyalty!--that made the first trouble
between him and the man he shot. I've got to clear
"Will it be hard?"
"They may make it so. I can only see part of
it surely. When his wife left the office, she met
Cory on the street. You saw what a pitiful kind of
fool she was, irresponsible and helpless and featherbrained.
There are thousands of women like that
everywhere--some of them are `Court Beauties,'
I dare say--and they always mix things up; but
they are most dangerous when they're like Claudine,
because then they live among men of action
like Cory and Fear. Cory was artful: he spent the
day about town telling people that he had always
liked Happy; that his ill feeling of yesterday was
all gone; he wanted to find him and shake his hand,
bury past troubles and be friends. I think he
told Claudine the same thing when they met, and
convinced the tiny brainlet of his sincerity. Cory
was a man who `had a way with him,' and I can
see Claudine flattered at the idea of being peacemaker
between `two such nice gen'lemen as Mr.
Cory and Mr. Fear.' Her commonest asseveration--
quite genuine, too--is that she doesn't like to have
the gen'lemen making trouble about her! So the
poor imbecile led him to where her husband was
waiting. All that Happy knew of this was in her
cry afterwards. He was sitting alone, when Cory
threw open the door and said, `I've got you this
time, Happy!' His pistol was raised but never
fired. He waited too long, meaning to establish
his case of `self-defence,' and Fear is the quickest
man I know. Cory fell just inside the door. Claudine
stumbled upon him as she came running after
him, crying out to her husband that she `never
meant no trouble,' that Cory had sworn to her that
he only wanted to shake hands and `make up.'
Other people heard the shot and broke into the
room, but they did not try to stop Fear; he warned
them off and walked out without hindrance, and
came to me. I've got to clear him."
Ariel knew what he meant: she realized the
actual thing as it was, and, though possessed by a
strange feeling that it must all be medieval and
not possibly of to-day, understood that he would
have to fight to keep his friend from being killed;
that the unhappy creature who had run into the
office out of the dark stood in high danger of having
his neck broken, unless Joe could help him.
He made it clear to her that the State would kill
Happy if it could; that it would be a point of pride
with certain deliberate men holding office to take
the life of the little man; that if they did secure his
death it would be set down to their efficiency, and
was even competent as campaign material. "I
wish to point out," Joe had heard a candidate for
re-election vehemently orate, `that in addition to
the other successful convictions I have named, I
and my assistants have achieved the sending of
three men to the gallows during my term of office!"
"I can't tell yet," said Joe, at parting. "It
may be hard. I'm so sorry you saw all this. I--"
"Oh NO!" she cried. "I want to UNDERSTAND!"
She was still there, at the gate, her elbows resting
upon the cross-bar, when, a long time after Joe
had gone, there came from the alley behind the
big back yard the minor chordings of a quartette
of those dark strollers who never seem to go to
bed, who play by night and playfully pretend to
work by day:
"You know my soul is a-full o' them-a-trub-bils,
Ev-ry mawn!
I cain' a-walk withouten I stum-bils!
Then le'ss go on--
Keep walkin' on!
These times is sow'owful, an' I am pow'owful
Sick an' fo'lawn!"
She heard a step upon the path behind her, and,
turning, saw a white-wrapped figure coming toward her.
"Mamie?" she called.
"Hush!" Mamie lifted a warning hand. "The
windows are open," she whispered. "They might
hear you!"
"Why haven't you gone to bed?"
"Oh, don't you see?" Mamie answered, in deep
distress,--"I've been sitting up for you. We all
thought you were writing letters in your room,
but after papa and mamma had gone to bed I
went in to tell you good night, and you weren't
there, nor anywhere else; so I knew you must have
gone out. I've been sitting by the front window,
waiting to let you in, but I went to sleep until a
little while ago, when the telephone-bell rang and
he got up and answered it. He kept talking a long
time; it was something about the Tocsin, and I'm
afraid there's been a murder down-town. When
he went back to bed I fell asleep again, and then
those darkies woke me up. How on earth did
you expect to get in? Don't you know he always
locks up the house?"
"I could have rung," said Ariel.
"Oh--oh!" gasped Miss Pike; and, after she had
recovered somewhat, asked: "Do you mind telling
me where you've been? I won't tell him--nor
mamma, either. I think, after all, I was wrong
yesterday to follow Eugene's advice. He meant
for the best, but I--"
"Don't think that. You weren't wrong." Ariel
put her arm round the other's waist. "I went to
talk over some things with Mr. Louden."
"I think," whispered Mamie, trembling, "that
you are the bravest girl I ever knew--and--and--I
could almost believe there's some good in him,
since you like him so. I know there is. And I--I
think he's had a hard time. I want you to know
I won't even tell Eugene!"
"You can tell everybody in the world," said
Ariel, and kissed her.
"Never," said the Tocsin on the morrow,
"has this community been stirred
to deeper indignation than by the
cold-blooded and unmitigated brutality
of the deliberate murder committed
almost under the very shadow of the Courthouse
cupola last night. The victim was not a
man of good repute, it is true, but at the moment
of his death he was in the act of performing a noble
and generous action which showed that he might
have become, if he lived, a good and law-fearing
citizen. In brief, he went to forgive his enemy
and was stretching forth the hand of fellowship
when that enemy shot him down. Not half an
hour before his death, Cory had repeated within
the hearing of a dozen men what he had been saying
all day, as many can testify: `I want to find
my old friend Fear and shake hands with him. I
want to tell him that I forgive him and that I am
ashamed of whatever has been my part in the
trouble between us.' He went with that intention
to his death. The wife of the murderer has
confessed that this was the substance of what he said
to her, and that she was convinced of his peaceful
intentions. When they reached the room where
her husband was waiting for her, Cory entered
first. The woman claims now that as they neared
the vicinity he hastened forward at a pace which
she could not equal. Naturally, her testimony on
all points favoring her husband is practically
worthless. She followed and heard the murdered man
speak, though what his words were she declares
she does not know, and of course the murderer,
after consultation with his lawyer, claims that their
nature was threatening. Such a statement, in
determining the truth, is worse than valueless. It is
known and readily proved that Fear repeatedly
threatened the deceased's life yesterday, and there
is no question in the mind of any man, woman, or
child, who reads these words, of the cold blooded
nature of the crime. The slayer, who had formerly
made a murderous attack upon his victim, lately
quarrelled with him and uttered threats, as we
have stated, upon his life. The dead man came
to him with protestations of friendship and was
struck down a corpse. It is understood that the
defence will in desperation set up the theory of
self-defence, based on an unsubstantiated claim that
Cory entered the room with a drawn pistol. No
pistol was found in the room. The weapon with
which the deed was accomplished was found upon
the person of the murderer when he was seized by
the police, one chamber discharged. Another
revolver was discovered upon the person of the
woman, when she was arrested on the scene of the
crime. This, upon being strictly interrogated, she
said she had picked up from the floor in the
confusion, thinking it was her husband's and hoping
to conceal it. The chambers were full and undischarged,
and we have heard it surmised that the
defence means to claim that it was Cory's. Cory
doubtless went on his errand of forgiveness
unarmed, and beyond doubt the second weapon
belonged to the woman herself, who has an unenviable
"The point of it all is plainly this: here is an
unquestionable murder in the first degree, and the
people of this city and county are outraged and
incensed that such a crime should have been committed
in their law-abiding and respectable community.
With whom does the fault lie? On
whose head is this murder? Not with the
authorities, for they do not countenance crime. Has
it come to the pass that, counting on juggleries of
the law, criminals believe that they may kill,
maim, burn, and slay as they list without
punishment? Is this to be another instance of the law's
delays and immunity for a hideous crime,
compassed by a cunning and cynical trickster of legal
technicalities? The people of Canaan cry out for
a speedy trial, speedy conviction, and speedy
punishment of this cold-blooded and murderous
monster. If he is not dealt with quickly according
to his deserts, the climax is upon us and the limit
of Canaan's patience has been reached.
"One last word, and we shall be glad to have
its significance noted: J. Louden, Esq., has been
retained for the defence! The murderer, before
being apprehended by the authorities, WENT STRAIGHT
The Tocsin was quoted on street corners that
morning, in shop and store and office, wherever
people talked of the Cory murder; and that was
everywhere, for the people of Canaan and of the
country roundabout talked of nothing else. Women
chattered of it in parlor and kitchen; men gathered
in small groups on the street and shook their
heads ominously over it; farmers, meeting on the
road, halted their teams and loudly damned the
little man in the Canaan jail; milkmen lingered on
back porches over their cans to agree with cooks
that it was an awful thing, and that if ever any
man deserved hanging, that there Fear deserved it
--his lawyer along with him! Tipsy men hammered
bars with fists and beer-glasses, inquiring
if there was no rope to be had in the town; and
Joe Louden, returning to his office from the little
restaurant where he sometimes ate his breakfast,
heard hisses following him along Main Street. A
clerk, a fat-shouldered, blue-aproned, pimplecheeked
youth, stood in the open doors of a grocery,
and as he passed, stared him in the face and said
"Yah!" with supreme disgust.
Joe stopped. "Why?" he asked, mildly.
The clerk put two fingers in his mouth and
whistled shrilly in derision. "You'd ort to be
run out o' town!" he exclaimed.
"I believe," said Joe, "that we have never met
"Go on, you shyster!"
Joe looked at him gravely. "My dear sir," he
returned, "you speak to me with the familiarity
of an old friend."
The clerk did not recover so far as to be capable
of repartee until Joe had entered his own stairway.
Then, with a bitter sneer, he seized a bad potato
from an open barrel and threw it at the mongrel,
who had paused to examine the landscape. The
missile failed, and Respectability, after bestowing a
slightly injured look upon the clerk, followed his
In the office the red-bearded man sat waiting.
Not so red-bearded as of yore, however, was Mr.
Sheehan, but grizzled and gray, and, this morning,
gray of face, too, as he sat, perspiring and anxious,
wiping a troubled brow with a black silk handkerchief.
"Here's the devil and all to pay at last, Joe,"
he said, uneasily, on the other's entrance. "This
is the worst I ever knew; and I hate to say it, but I
doubt yer pullin' it off."
"I've got to, Mike."
"I hope on my soul there's a chanst of it! I
like the little man, Joe."
"So do I."
"I know ye do, my boy. But here's this Tocsin
kickin' up the public sentiment; and if there ever
was a follerin' sheep on earth, it's that same public
"If it weren't for that"--Joe flung himself
heavily in a chair--"there'd not be so much
trouble. It's a clear enough case."
"But don't ye see," interrupted Sheehan, "the
Tocsin's tried it and convicted him aforehand?
And that if things keep goin' the way they've
started to-day, the gran' jury's bound to indict
him, and the trial jury to convict him? They
wouldn't dare not to! What's more, they'll want
to! And they'll rush the trial, summer or no
summer, and--"
"I know, I know."
"I'll tell ye one thing," said the other, wiping his
forehead with the black handkerchief, "and that's
this, my boy: last night's business has just about
put the cap on the Beach fer me. I'm sick of it
and I'm tired of it! I'm ready to quit, sir!"
Joe looked at him sharply. "Don't you think
my old notion of what might be done could be
made to pay?"
Sheehan laughed. "Whoo! You and yer hints,
Joe! How long past have ye come around me
with 'em! `I b'lieve ye c'd make more money,
Mike'--that's the way ye'd put it,--`if ye altered
the Beach a bit. Make a little country-side
restaurant of it,' ye'd say, `and have good cookin',
and keep the boys and girls from raisin' so much
hell out there. Soon ye'd have other people
comin' beside the regular crowd. Make a little
garden on the shore, and let 'em eat at tables
under trees an' grape-arbors--' "
"Well, why not?" asked Joe.
"Haven't I been tellin' ye I'm thinkin' of it?
It's only yer way of hintin' that's funny to me,--yer
way of sayin' I'd make more money, because ye're
afraid of preachin' at any of us: partly because ye
know the little good it 'd be, and partly because
ye have humor. Well, I'm thinkin' ye'll git yer
way. I'M willin' to go into the missionary business
with ye!"
"Mike!" said Joe, angrily, but he grew very red
and failed to meet the other's eye, "I'm not--"
"Yes, ye are!" cried Sheehan. "Yes, sir! It's
a thing ye prob'ly haven't had the nerve to say
to yerself since a boy, but that's yer notion inside:
ye're little better than a missionary! It took me a
long while to understand what was drivin' ye, but
I do now. And ye've gone the right way about it,
because we know ye'll stand fer us when we're in
trouble and fight fer us till we git a square deal, as
ye're goin' to fight for Happy now."
Joe looked deeply troubled. "Never mind,"
he said, crossly, and with visible embarrassment.
"You think you couldn't make more at the Beach
if you ran it on my plan?"
"I'm game to try," said Sheehan, slowly. "I'm
too old to hold 'em down out there the way I yoosta
could, and I'm sick of it--sick of it into the very
bones of me!" He wiped his forehead. "Where's
"Held as a witness."
"I'm not sorry fer HER!" said the red-bearded
man, emphatically. "Women o' that kind are so
light-headed it's a wonder they don't float. Think
of her pickin' up Cory's gun from the floor and
hidin' it in her clothes! Took it fer granted it was
Happy's, and thought she'd help him by hidin' it!
There's a hard point fer ye, Joe: to prove the gun
belonged to Cory. There's nobody about here
could swear to it. I couldn't myself, though I
forced him to stick it back in his pocket yesterday.
He was a wanderer, too; and ye'll have
to send a keen one to trace him, I'm thinkin',
to find where he got it, so's ye can show it in
"I'm going myself. I've found out that he came
here from Denver."
"And from where before that?"
"I don't know, but I'll keep on travelling till I
get what I want."
"That's right, my boy," exclaimed the other,
heartily, "It may be a long trip, but ye're all the
little man has to depend on. Did ye notice the
Tocsin didn't even give him the credit fer givin'
himself up?"
"Yes," said Joe. "It's part of their game."
"Did it strike ye now," Mr. Sheehan asked,
earnestly, leaning forward in his chair,--"did it
strike ye that the Tocsin was aimin' more to do
Happy harm because of you than himself?"
"Yes." Joe looked sadly out of the window.
"I've thought that over, and it seemed possible
that I might do Happy more good by giving his
case to some other lawyer."
"No, sir!" exclaimed the proprietor of Beaver
Beach, loudly. "They've begun their attack;
they're bound to keep it up, and they'd manage to
turn it to the discredit of both of ye. Besides,
Happy wouldn't have no other lawyer; he'd ruther
be hung with you fightin' fer him than be cleared
by anybody else. I b'lieve it,--on my soul I do!
But look here," he went on, leaning still farther
forward; "I want to know if it struck ye that this
morning the Tocsin attacked ye in a way that was
somehow vi'lenter than ever before?"
"Yes," replied Joe, "because it was aimed to
strike where it would most count."
"It ain't only that," said the other, excitedly.
"It ain't only that! I want ye to listen. Now
see here: the Tocsin is Pike, and the town is Pike--
I mean the town ye naturally belonged to. Ain't
"In a way, I suppose--yes."
"In a way!" echoed the other, scornfully. "Ye
know it is! Even as a boy Pike disliked ye and
hated the kind of a boy ye was. Ye wasn't
respectable and he was! Ye wasn't rich and he was!
Ye had a grin on yer face when ye'd meet him on
the street." The red-bearded man broke off at a
gesture from Joe and exclaimed sharply: "Don't
deny it! _I_ know what ye was like! Ye wasn't
impudent, but ye looked at him as if ye saw through
him. Now listen and I'll lead ye somewhere! Ye
run with riffraff, naggers, and even"--Mr. Sheehan
lifted a forefinger solemnly and shook it at his
auditor--"and even with the Irish! Now I ask
ye this: ye've had one part of Canaan with ye from
the start, MY part, that is; but the other's against
ye; that part's PIKE, and it's the rulin' part--"
"Yes, Mike," said Joe, wearily. "In the spirit
of things. I know."
"No, sir," cried the other. "That's the trouble:
ye don't know. There's more in Canaan than ye've
understood. Listen to this: Why was the Tocsin's
attack harder this morning than ever before? On
yer soul didn't it sound so bitter that it sounded
desprit? Now why? It looked to me as if it
had started to ruin ye, this time fer good and all!
Why? What have ye had to do with Martin Pike
lately? Has the old wolf GOT to injure ye?" Mr.
Sheehan's voice rose and his eyes gleamed under
bushy brows. "Think," he finished. "What's
happened lately to make him bite so hard?"
There were some faded roses on the desk, and as
Joe's haggard eyes fell upon them the answer
came. "What makes you think Judge Pike isn't
trustworthy?" he had asked Ariel, and her reply
had been: "Nothing very definite, unless it was his
look when I told him that I meant to ask you to
take charge of things for me."
He got slowly and amazedly to his feet. "You've
got it!" he said.
"Ye see?" cried Mike Sheehan, slapping his
thigh with a big hand. "On my soul I have the
penetration! Ye don't need to tell me one thing
except this: I told ye I'd lead ye somewhere;
haven't I kept me word?"
"Yes," said Joe.
"But I have the penetration!" exclaimed Mr.
Sheehan. "Should I miss my guess if I said that
ye think Pike may be scared ye'll stumble on his
track in some queer performances? Should I
miss it?"
"No," said Joe. "You wouldn't miss it."
"Just one thing more." The red-bearded man
rose, mopping the inner band of his straw hat.
"In the matter of yer runnin' fer Mayor, now--"
Joe, who had begun to pace up and down the
room, made an impatient gesture. "Pshaw!" he
interrupted; but his friend stopped him with a
hand laid on his arm.
"Don't be treatin' it as clean out of all possibility,
Joe Louden. If ye do, it shows ye haven't sense
to know that nobody can say what way the wind's
blowin' week after next. All the boys want ye;
Louie Farbach wants ye, and Louie has a big say.
Who is it that doesn't want ye?"
"Canaan," said Joe.
"Hold up! It's Pike's Canaan ye mean. If ye
git the nomination, ye'd be elected, wouldn't ye?"
"I couldn't be nominated."
"I ain't claimin' ye'd git Martin Pike's vote,"
returned Mr. Sheehan, sharply, "though I don't
say it's impossible. Ye've got to beat him, that's
all. Ye've got to do to him what he's done to YOU,
and what he's tryin' to do now worse than ever
before. Well--there may be ways to do it; and
if he tempts me enough, I may fergit my troth and
honor as a noble gentleman and help ye with a
word ye'd never guess yerself."
"You've hinted at such mysteries before, Mike,"
Joe smiled. "I'd be glad to know what you mean,
if there's anything in them."
"It may come to that," said the other, with
some embarrassment. "It may come to that some
day, if the old wolf presses me too hard in the
matter o' tryin' to git the little man across the
street hanged by the neck and yerself mobbed fer
helpin' him! But to-day I'll say no more."
"Very well, Mike." Joe turned wearily to his
desk. "I don't want you to break any promises."
Mr. Sheehan had gone to the door, but he paused
on the threshold, and wiped his forehead again.
"And I don't want to break any," he said, "but if
ever the time should come when I couldn't help
it"--he lowered his voice to a hoarse but piercing
whisper--"that will be the devourin' angel's day
fer Martin Pike!"
It was a morning of the warmest week
of mid-July, and Canaan lay inert
and helpless beneath a broiling sun.
The few people who moved about
the streets went languidly, keeping
close to the wall on the shady side; the women in
thin white fabrics; the men, often coatless, carrying
palm-leaf fans, and replacing collars with
handkerchiefs. In the Court-house yard the maple
leaves, gray with blown dust and grown to great
breadth, drooped heavily, depressing the long,
motionless branches with their weight, so low that
the four or five shabby idlers, upon the benches
beneath, now and then flicked them sleepily with
whittled sprigs. The doors and windows of the
stores stood open, displaying limp wares of trade,
but few tokens of life; the clerks hanging over dim
counters as far as possible from the glare in front,
gossiping fragmentarily, usually about the Cory
murder, and, anon, upon a subject suggested by
the sight of an occasional pedestrian passing
perspiring by with scrooged eyelids and purpling skin.
From street and sidewalk, transparent hot waves
swam up and danced themselves into nothing;
while from the river bank, a half-mile away, came
a sound hotter than even the locust's midsummer
rasp: the drone of a planing-mill. A chance boy,
lying prone in the grass of the Court-house yard,
was annoyed by the relentless chant and lifted his
head to mock it: "AWR-EER-AWR-EER! SHUT UP,
CAN'T YOU?" The effort was exhausting: he
relapsed and suffered with increasing malice but in
Abruptly there was a violent outbreak on the
"National House" corner, as when a quiet farmhouse
is startled by some one's inadvertently bringing
down all the tin from a shelf in the pantry. The
loafers on the benches turned hopefully, saw what
it was, then closed their eyes, and slumped back
into their former positions. The outbreak subsided
as suddenly as it had arisen: Colonel Flitcroft
pulled Mr. Arp down into his chair again, and it
was all over.
Greater heat than that of these blazing days
could not have kept one of the sages from attending
the conclave now. For the battle was on in
Canaan: and here, upon the National House corner,
under the shadow of the west wall, it waxed even
keener. Perhaps we may find full justification for
calling what was happening a battle in so far as we
restrict the figure to apply to this one spot; else
where, in the Canaan of the Tocsin, the conflict
was too one-sided. The Tocsin had indeed tried
the case of Happy Fear in advance, had convicted
and condemned, and every day grew more bitter.
Nor was the urgent vigor of its attack without
effect. Sleepy as Main Street seemed in the heat,
the town was incensed and roused to a tensity of
feeling it had not known since the civil war, when,
on occasion, it had set out to hang half a dozen
"Knights of the Golden Circle." Joe had been
hissed on the street many times since the inimical
clerk had whistled at him. Probably demonstrations
of that sort would have continued had he
remained in Canaan; but for almost a month he
had been absent and his office closed, its threshold
gray with dust. There were people who believed
that he had run away again, this time never to
return; among those who held to this opinion being
Mrs. Louden and her sister, Joe's step-aunt. Upon
only one point was everybody agreed: that twelve
men could not be found in the county who could
be so far persuaded and befuddled by Louden
that they would dare to allow Happy Fear to
escape. The women of Canaan, incensed by the
terrible circumstance of the case, as the Tocsin
colored it--a man shot down in the act of begging
his enemy's forgiveness--clamored as loudly as
the men: there was only the difference that the
latter vociferated for the hanging of Happy; their
good ladies used the word "punishment."
And yet, while the place rang with condemnation
of the little man in the jail and his attorney,
there were voices, here and there, uplifted on the
other side. People existed, it astonishingly
appeared, who LIKED Happy Fear. These were for the
greater part obscure and even darkling in their
lives, yet quite demonstrably human beings, able
to smile, suffer, leap, run, and to entertain fancies;
even to have, according to their degree, a certain
rudimentary sense of right and wrong, in spite of
which they strongly favored the prisoner's acquittal.
Precisely on that account, it was argued, an
acquittal would outrage Canaan and lay it open
to untold danger: such people needed a lesson.
The Tocsin interviewed the town's great ones,
printing their opinions of the heinousness of the
crime and the character of the defendant's lawyer.
. . . "The Hon. P. J. Parrott, who so ably represented
this county in the Legislature some fourteen
years ago, could scarcely restrain himself when
approached by a reporter as to his sentiments anent
the repulsive deed. `I should like to know how
long Canaan is going to put up with this sort of
business,' were his words. `I am a law-abiding
citizen, and I have served faithfully, and with my
full endeavor and ability, to enact the laws and
statutes of my State, but there is a point in my
patience, I would state, which lawbreakers and
their lawyers may not safely pass. Of what use
are our most solemn enactments, I may even ask
of what use is the Legislature itself, chosen by the
will of the people, if they are to ruthlessly be set
aside by criminals and their shifty protectors?
The blame should be put upon the lawyers who by
tricks enable such rascals to escape the rigors of
the carefully enacted laws, the fruits of the Solon's
labor, more than upon the criminals themselves.
In this case, if there is any miscarriage of justice, I
will say here and now that in my opinion the
people of this county will be sorely tempted; and
while I do not believe in lynch-law, yet if that
should be the result it is my unalterable conviction
that the vigilantes may well turn their attention
to the lawyers--OR LAWYER--who bring about
such miscarriage. I am sick of it.' "
The Tocsin did not print the interview it obtained
from Louie Farbach--the same Louie Farbach who
long ago had owned a beer-saloon with a little room
behind the bar, where a shabby boy sometimes
played dominoes and "seven-up" with loafers:
not quite the same Louie Farbach, however, in
outward circumstance: for he was now the brewer
of Farbach Beer and making Canaan famous. His
rise had been Teutonic and sure; and he
contributed one-twentieth of his income to the
German Orphan Asylum and one-tenth to his party's
campaign fund. The twentieth saved the orphans
from the county, while the tithe gave the county
to his party.
He occupied a kitchen chair, enjoying the society
of some chickens in a wired enclosure behind the
new Italian villa he had erected in that part of
Canaan where he would be most uncomfortable,
and he looked woodenly at the reporter when the
latter put his question.
"Hef you any aguaintunce off Mitster Fear?"
he inquired, in return, with no expression
decipherable either upon his Gargantuan face or in
his heavily enfolded eyes.
"No, sir," replied the reporter, grinning. "I
never ran across him."
"Dot iss a goot t'ing fer you," said Mr. Farbach,
stonily. "He iss not a man peobles bedder try to
run across. It iss what Gory tried. Now Gory iss
The reporter, slightly puzzled, lit a cigarette.
"See here, Mr. Farbach," he urged, "I only want
a word or two about this thing; and you might
give me a brief expression concerning that man
Louden besides: just a hint of what you think of
his influence here, you know, and of the kind of
sharp work he practises. Something like that."
"I see," said the brewer, slowly. "Happy Fear
I hef knowt for a goot many years. He iss a goot
frient of mine."
"Choe Louten iss a bedder one," continued Mr.
Farbach, turning again to stare at his chickens.
"Git owit."
"Git owit," repeated the other, without passion,
without anger, without any expression whatsoever.
"Git owit."
The reporter's prejudice against the German
nation dated from that moment.
There were others, here and there, who were less
self-contained than the brewer. A farm-hand
struck a fellow laborer in the harvest-field for
speaking ill of Joe; and the unravelling of a strange
street fight, one day, disclosed as its cause a like
resentment, on the part of a blind broom-maker,
engendered by a like offence. The broom-maker's
companion, reading the Tocsin as the two walked
together, had begun the quarrel by remarking that
Happy Fear ought to be hanged once for his own
sake and twice more "to show up that shyster
Louden." Warm words followed, leading to
extremely material conflict, in which, in spite of
his blindness, the broom-maker had so much the
best of it that he was removed from the triumphant
attitude he had assumed toward the person of
his adversary, which was an admirable imitation
of the dismounted St. George and the Dragon, and
conveyed to the jail. Keenest investigation failed
to reveal anything oblique in the man's record; to
the astonishment of Canaan, there was nothing
against him. He was blind and moderately poor;
but a respectable, hard-working artisan, and a
pride to the church in which he was what has
been called an "active worker." It was discovered
that his sensitiveness to his companion's
attack on Joseph Louden arose from the fact that
Joe had obtained the acquittal of an imbecile sister
of the blind man, a two-thirds-witted woman who
had been charged with bigamy.
The Tocsin made what it could of this, and so
dexterously that the wrath of Canaan was one
farther jot increased against the shyster. Ay, the
town was hot, inside and out.
Let us consider the Forum. Was there ever
before such a summer for the "National House"
corner? How voices first thundered there, then
cracked and piped, is not to be rendered in all the
tales of the fathers. One who would make vivid
the great doings must indeed "dip his brush in
earthquake and eclipse"; even then he could but
picture the credible, and must despair of this: the
silence of Eskew Arp. Not that Eskew held his
tongue, not that he was chary of speech--no!
O tempora, O mores! NO! But that he refused the
subject in hand, that he eschewed expression upon
it and resolutely drove the argument in other
directions, that he achieved such superbly un-Arplike
inconsistency; and with such rich material for his
sardonic humors, not at arm's length, not even so
far as his finger-tips, but beneath his very palms,
he rejected it: this was the impossible fact.
Eskew--there is no option but to declare--was
no longer Eskew. It is the truth; since the morning
when Ariel Tabor came down from Joe's office,
leaving her offering of white roses in that dingy,
dusty, shady place, Eskew had not been himself.
His comrades observed it somewhat in a physical
difference, one of those alterations which may
come upon men of his years suddenly, like a "sea
change": his face was whiter, his walk slower, his
voice filed thinner; he creaked louder when he rose
or sat. Old always, from his boyhood, he had,
in the turn of a hand, become aged. But such
things come and such things go: after eighty there
are ups and downs; people fading away one week,
bloom out pleasantly the next, and resiliency is
not at all a patent belonging to youth alone. The
material change in Mr. Arp might have been
thought little worth remarking. What caused
Peter Bradbury, Squire Buckalew, and the Colonel
to shake their heads secretly to one another and
wonder if their good old friend's mind had not
"begun to go" was something very different. To
come straight down to it: he not only abstained
from all argument upon the "Cory Murder" and
the case of Happy Fear, refusing to discuss either
in any terms or under any circumstances, but he
also declined to speak of Ariel Tabor or of Joseph
Louden; or of their affairs, singular or plural,
masculine, feminine, or neuter, or in any declension
Not a word, committal or non-committal. None!
And his face, when he was silent, fell into
sorrowful and troubled lines.
At first they merely marvelled. Then Squire
Buckalew dared to tempt him. Eskew's faded
eyes showed a blue gleam, but he withstood, speaking
of Babylon to the disparagement of Chicago.
They sought to lead him into what he evidently
would not, employing many devices; but the old
man was wily and often carried them far afield by
secret ways of his own. This hot morning he had
done that thing: they were close upon him, pressing
him hard, when he roused that outburst which
had stirred the idlers on the benches in the Courthouse
yard. Squire Buckalew (sidelong at the
others but squarely at Eskew) had volunteered
the information that Cory was a reformed priest.
Stung by the mystery of Eskew's silence, the
Squire's imagination had become magically
gymnastic; and if anything under heaven could have
lifted the veil, this was the thing. Mr. Arp's reply
may be reverenced.
"I consider," he said, deliberately, "that James
G. Blaine's furrin policy was childish, and, what's
more, I never thought much of HIM!"
This outdefied Ajax, and every trace of the matter
in hand went to the four winds. Eskew, like
Rome, was saved by a cackle, in which he joined,
and a few moments later, as the bench loafers saw,
was pulled down into his seat by the Colonel.
The voices of the fathers fell to the pitch of
ordinary discourse; the drowsy town was quiet
again; the whine of the planing-mill boring its way
through the sizzling air to every wakening ear.
Far away, on a quiet street, it sounded faintly,
like the hum of a bee across a creek, and was drowned
in the noise of men at work on the old Tabor
house. It seemed the only busy place in Canaan
that day: the shade of the big beech-trees which
surrounded it affording some shelter from the
destroying sun to the dripping laborers who were
sawing, hammering, painting, plumbing, papering,
and ripping open old and new packing-boxes.
There were many changes in the old house
pleasantly in keeping with its simple character:
airy enlargements now almost completed so that
some of the rooms were already finished, and
stood, furnished and immaculate, ready for tenancy.
In that which had been Roger Tabor's studio
sat Ariel, alone. She had caused some chests and
cases, stored there, to be opened, and had taken
out of them a few of Roger's canvases and set them
along the wall. Tears filled her eyes as she looked
at them, seeing the tragedy of labor the old man
had expended upon them; but she felt the recompense:
hard, tight, literal as they were, he had had
his moment of joy in each of them before he saw
them coldly and knew the truth. And he had
been given his years of Paris at last: and had seen
"how the other fellows did it."
A heavy foot strode through the hall, coming
abruptly to a halt in the doorway, and turning, she
discovered Martin Pike, his big Henry-the-Eighth
face flushed more with anger than with the heat.
His hat was upon his head, and remained there,
nor did he offer any token or word of greeting
whatever, but demanded to know when the work
upon the house had been begun.
"The second morning after my return," she
"I want to know," he pursued, "why it was
kept secret from me, and I want to know quick."
"Secret?" she echoed, with a wave of her hand
to indicate the noise which the workmen were
"Upon whose authority was it begun?"
"Mine. Who else could give it?"
"Look here," he said, advancing toward her,
"don't you try to fool me! You haven't done all
this by yourself. Who hired these workmen?"
Remembering her first interview with him, she
rose quickly before he could come near her. "Mr.
Louden made most of the arrangements for me,"
she replied, quietly, "before he went away. He
will take charge of everything when he returns.
You haven't forgotten that I told you I intended
to place my affairs in his hands?"
He had started forward, but at this he stopped
and stared at her inarticulately.
"You remember?" she said, her hands resting
negligently upon the back of the chair. "Surely
you remember?"
She was not in the least afraid of him, but coolly
watchful of him. This had been her habit with
him since her return. She had seen little of him,
except at table, when he was usually grimly
laconic, though now and then she would hear him
joking heavily with Sam Warden in the yard, or,
with evidently humorous intent, groaning at Mamie
over Eugene's health; but it had not escaped Ariel
that he was, on his part, watchful of herself, and
upon his guard with a wariness in which she was
sometimes surprised to believe that she saw an
almost haggard apprehension.
He did not answer her question, and it seemed
to her, as she continued steadily to meet his hot
eyes, that he was trying to hold himself under some
measure of control; and a vain effort it proved.
"You go back to my house!" he burst out,
shouting hoarsely. "You get back there! You
stay there!"
"No," she said, moving between him and the
door. "Mamie and I are going for a drive."
"You go back to my house!" He followed her,
waving an arm fiercely at her. "Don't you come
around here trying to run over me! You talk
about your `affairs'! All you've got on earth
is this two-for-a-nickel old shack over your head
and a bushel-basket of distillery stock that you
can sell by the pound for old paper!" He threw
the words in her face, the bull-bass voice seamed
and cracked with falsetto. "Old paper, old rags,
old iron, bottles, old clothes! You talk about
your affairs! Who are you? Rothschild? You
haven't GOT any affairs!"
Not a look, not a word, not a motion of his
escaped her in all the fury of sound and gesture in
which he seemed fairly to envelop himself; least of
all did that shaking of his--the quivering of jaw
and temple, the tumultuous agitation of his hands
--evade her watchfulness.
"When did you find this out?" she said, very
quickly. "After you became administrator?"
He struck the back of the chair she had vacated
a vicious blow with his open hand. "No, you
spendthrift! All there was TO your grandfather
when you buried him was a basket full of distillery
stock, I tell you! Old paper! Can't you hear me?
Old paper, old rags--"
"You have sent me the same income," she
lifted her voice to interrupt; "you have made the
same quarterly payments since his death that you
made before. If you knew, why did you do that?"
He had been shouting at her with the frantic and
incredulous exasperation of an intolerant man
utterly unused to opposition; his face empurpled, his
forehead dripping, and his hands ruthlessly pounding
the back of the chair; but this straight question
stripped him suddenly of gesture and left him
standing limp and still before her, pale splotches
beginning to show on his hot cheeks.
"If you knew, why did you do it?" she repeated.
"You wrote me that my income was from dividends,
and I knew and thought nothing about it;
but if the stock which came to me was worthless,
how could it pay dividends?"
"It did not," he answered, huskily. "That
distillery stock, I tell you, isn't worth the matches to
burn it."
"But there has been no difference in my income,"
she persisted, steadily. "Why? Can you explain
that to me?"
"Yes, I can," he replied, and it seemed to her
that he spoke with a pallid and bitter desperation,
like a man driven to the wall. "I can if you
think you want to know."
"I do."
"I sent it."
"Do you mean from you own--"
"I mean it was my own money."
She had not taken her eyes from his, which met
hers straightly and angrily; and at this she leaned
forward, gazing at him with profound scrutiny.
"Why did you send it?" she asked.
"Charity," he answered, after palpable hesitation.
Her eyes widened and she leaned back against
the lintel of the door, staring at him incredulously.
"Charity!" she echoed, in a whisper.
Perhaps he mistook her amazement at his
performance for dismay caused by the sense of her
own position, for, as she seemed to weaken before
him, the strength of his own habit of dominance
came back to him. "Charity, madam!" he broke
out, shouting intolerably. "Charity, d'ye hear?
I was a friend of the man that made the money you
and your grandfather squandered; I was a friend
of Jonas Tabor, I say! That's why I was willing
to support you for a year and over, rather than let
a niece of his suffer."
"`Suffer'!" she cried. "`Support'! You sent
me a hundred thousand francs!"
The white splotches which had mottled Martin
Pike's face disappeared as if they had been suddenly
splashed with hot red. "You go back to
my house," he said. "What I sent you only
shows the extent of my--"
"Effrontery!" The word rang through the
whole house, so loudly and clearly did she strike
it, rang in his ears till it stung like a castigation.
It was ominous, portentous of justice and of
disaster. There was more than doubt of him in it:
there was conviction.
He fell back from this word; and when he again
advanced, Ariel had left the house. She had
turned the next corner before he came out of the
gate; and as he passed his own home on his way
down-town, he saw her white dress mingling with
his daughter's near the horse-block beside the fire,
where the two, with their arms about each other,
stood waiting for Sam Warden and the open
summer carriage.
Judge Pike walked on, the white splotches
reappearing like a pale rash upon his face. A yellow
butterfly zigzagged before him, knee-high, across
the sidewalk. He raised his foot and half kicked
at it.
As the Judge continued his walk down
Main Street, he wished profoundly
that the butterfly (which exhibited
no annoyance) had been of greater
bulk and more approachable; and it
was the evil fortune of Joe's mongrel to encounter
him in the sinister humor of such a wish unfulfilled.
Respectability dwelt at Beaver Beach under the
care of Mr. Sheehan until his master should return;
and Sheehan was kind; but the small dog found
the world lonely and time long without Joe. He
had grown more and more restless, and at last, this
hot morning, having managed to evade the eye of
all concerned in his keeping, made off unobtrusively,
partly by swimming, and reaching the road,
cantered into town, his ears erect with anxiety.
Bent upon reaching the familiar office, he passed
the grocery from the doorway of which the pimply
cheeked clerk had thrown a bad potato at him a
month before. The same clerk had just laid down
the Tocsin as Respectability went by, and,
inspired to great deeds in behalf of justice and his
native city, he rushed to the door, lavishly seized,
this time, a perfectly good potato, and hurled it
with a result which ecstasized him, for it took the
mongrel fairly aside the head, which it matched in
The luckless Respectability's purpose to reach
Joe's stairway had been entirely definite, but upon
this violence he forgot it momentarily. It is not
easy to keep things in mind when one is violently
smitten on mouth, nose, cheek, eye, and ear by a
missile large enough to strike them simultaneously.
Yelping and half blinded, he deflected to cross
Main Street. Judge Pike had elected to cross in
the opposite direction, and the two met in the
middle of the street.
The encounter was miraculously fitted to the
Judge's need: here was no butterfly, but a solid
body, light withal, a wet, muddy, and dusty yellow
dog, eminently kickable. The man was heavily
built about the legs, and the vigor of what he did
may have been additionally inspired by his recognition
of the mongrel as Joe Louden's. The impact
of his toe upon the little runner's side was
momentous, and the latter rose into the air. The
Judge hopped, as one hops who, unshod in the
night, discovers an unexpected chair. Let us be
reconciled to his pain and not reproach the gods
with it,--for two of his unintending adversary's
ribs were cracked.
The dog, thus again deflected, retraced his
tracks, shrieking distractedly, and, by one of those
ironical twists which Karma reserves for the tails
of the fated, dived for blind safety into the store
commanded by the ecstatic and inimical clerk.
There were shouts; the sleepy Square beginning to
wake up: the boy who had mocked the planing-mill
got to his feet, calling upon his fellows; the bench
loafers strolled to the street; the aged men stirred
and rose from their chairs; faces appeared in the
open windows of offices; sales ladies and gentlemen
came to the doorways of the trading-places; so
that when Respectability emerged from the grocery
he had a notable audience for the scene he
enacted with a brass dinner-bell tied to his tail.
Another potato, flung by the pimpled, uproarious,
prodigal clerk, added to the impetus of his
flight. A shower of pebbles from the hands of
exhilarated boys dented the soft asphalt about
him; the hideous clamor of the pursuing bell
increased as he turned the next corner, running
distractedly. The dead town had come to life, and
its inhabitants gladly risked the dangerous heat in
the interests of sport, whereby it was a merry
chase the little dog led around the block, For thus
some destructive instinct drove him; he could not
stop with the unappeasable Terror clanging at his
heels and the increasing crowd yelling in pursuit;
but he turned to the left at each corner, and thus
came back to pass Joe's stairway again, unable to
pause there or anywhere, unable to do anything
except to continue his hapless flight, poor meteor.
Round the block he went once more, and still no
chance at that empty stairway where, perhaps, he
thought, there might be succor and safety. Blood
was upon his side where Martin Pike's boot had
crashed, foam and blood hung upon his jaws and
lolling tongue. He ran desperately, keeping to
the middle of the street, and, not howling, set
himself despairingly to outstrip the Terror. The mob,
disdaining the sun superbly, pursued as closely as
it could, throwing bricks and rocks at him, striking
at him with clubs and sticks. Happy Fear,
playing "tic-tac-toe," right hand against left, in
his cell, heard the uproar, made out something of
what was happening, and, though unaware that
it was a friend whose life was sought, discovered a
similarity to his own case, and prayed to his dim
gods that the quarry might get away.
"MAD DOG!" they yelled. "MAD DOG!" And
there were some who cried, "JOE LOUDEN'S DOG!"
that being equally as exciting and explanatory.
Three times round, and still the little fugitive
maintained a lead. A gray-helmeted policeman,
a big fellow, had joined the pursuit. He had
children at home who might be playing in the street,
and the thought of what might happen to them
if the mad dog should head that way resolved him
to be cool and steady. He was falling behind, so
he stopped on the corner, trusting that Respectability
would come round again. He was right,
and the flying brownish thing streaked along Main
Street, passing the beloved stairway for the fourth
time. The policeman lifted his revolver, fired
twice, missed once, but caught him with the second
shot in a forepaw, clipping off a fifth toe, one of
the small claws that grow above the foot and are
always in trouble. This did not stop him; but the
policeman, afraid to risk another shot because of
the crowd, waited for him to come again; and
many others, seeing the hopeless circuit the mongrel
followed, did likewise, armed with bricks and
clubs. Among them was the pimply clerk, who
had been inspired to commandeer a pitchfork from
a hardware store.
When the fifth round came, Respectability's
race was run. He turned into Main Street at a
broken speed, limping, parched, voiceless, flecked
with blood and foam, snapping feebly at the showering
rocks, but still indomitably a little ahead of
the hunt. There was no yelp left in him--he was
too thoroughly winded for that,--but in his brilliant
and despairing eyes shone the agony of a cry
louder than the tongue of a dog could utter: "O
master! O all the god I know! Where are you in
my mortal need?"
Now indeed he had a gauntlet to run; for the
street was lined with those who awaited him, while
the pursuit grew closer behind. A number of the
hardiest stood squarely in his path, and he hesitated
for a second, which gave the opportunity for
a surer aim, and many missiles struck him. "Let
him have it now, officer," said Eugene Bantry,
standing with Judge Pike at the policeman's elbow.
"There's your chance."
But before the revolver could be discharged,
Respectability had begun to run again, hobbling
on three legs and dodging feebly. A heavy stone
struck him on the shoulder and he turned across
the street, making for the "National House" corner,
where the joyful clerk brandished his pitchfork.
Going slowly, he almost touched the pimply one
as he passed, and the clerk, already rehearsing in
his mind the honors which should follow the brave
stroke, raised the tines above the little dog's head
for the coup de grace. They did not descend, and
the daring youth failed of fame as the laurel
almost embraced his brows. A hickory walkingstick
was thrust between his legs; and he,
expecting to strike, received a blow upon the temple
sufficient for his present undoing and bedazzlement.
He went over backwards, and the pitchfork
(not the thing to hold poised on high when
one is knocked down) fell with the force he
had intended for Respectability upon his own
A train had pulled into the station, and a tired,
travel-worn young man, descending from a sleeper,
walked rapidly up the street to learn the occasion
of what appeared to be a riot. When he was close
enough to understand its nature, he dropped his
bag and came on at top speed, shouting loudly to
the battered mongrel, who tried with his remaining
strength to leap toward him through a cordon
of kicking legs, while Eugene Bantry again called
to the policeman to fire.
"If he does, damn you, I'll kill him!" Joe saw
the revolver raised; and then, Eugene being in his
way, he ran full-tilt into his stepbrother with all
his force, sending him to earth, and went on
literally over him as he lay prone upon the asphalt,
that being the shortest way to Respectability.
The next instant the mongrel was in his master's
arms and weakly licking his hands.
But it was Eskew Arp who had saved the little
dog; for it was his stick which had tripped the clerk,
and his hand which had struck him down. All his
bodily strength had departed in that effort, but he
staggered out into the street toward Joe.
"Joe Louden!" called the veteran, in a loud
voice. "Joe Louden!" and suddenly reeled. The
Colonel and Squire Buckalew were making their
way toward him, but Joe, holding the dog to his
breast with one arm, threw the other about Eskew.
"It's a town--it's a town"--the old fellow flung
himself free from the supporting arm--"it's a
town you couldn't even trust a yellow dog to!"
He sank back upon Joe's shoulder, speechless.
An open carriage had driven through the crowd,
the colored driver urged by two ladies upon the
back seat, and Martin Pike saw it stop by the
group in the middle of the street where Joe stood,
the wounded dog held to his breast by one arm, the
old man, white and half fainting, supported by the
other. Martin Pike saw this and more; he saw
Ariel Tabor and his own daughter leaning from the
carriage, the arms of both pityingly extended to
Joe Louden and his two burdens, while the stunned
and silly crowd stood round them staring, clouds
of dust settling down upon them through the hot
Now in that blazing noon Canaan looked
upon a strange sight: an open carriage
whirling through Main Street
behind two galloping bays; upon the
back seat a ghostly white old man
with closed eyes, supported by two pale ladies, his
head upon the shoulder of the taller; while beside
the driver, a young man whose coat and hands
were bloody, worked over the hurts of an injured
dog. Sam Warden's whip sang across the horses;
lather gathered on their flanks, and Ariel's voice
steadily urged on the pace: "Quicker, Sam, if
you can." For there was little breath left in the
body of Eskew Arp.
Mamie, almost as white as the old man, was
silent; but she had not hesitated in her daring,
now that she had been taught to dare; she had not
come to be Ariel's friend and honest follower for
nothing; and it was Mamie who had cried to Joe
to lift Eskew into the carriage. "You must come
too," she said. "We will need you." And so it
came to pass that under the eyes of Canaan Joe
Louden rode in Judge Pike's carriage at the bidding
of Judge Pike's daughter.
Toward Ariel's own house they sped with the
stricken octogenarian, for he was "alone in the
world," and she would not take him to the cottage
where he had lived for many years by himself, a
bleak little house, a derelict of the "early days"
left stranded far down in the town between a
woollen-mill and the water-works. The workmen
were beginning their dinners under the big
trees, but as Sam Warden drew in the lathered
horses at the gate, they set down their tin buckets
hastily and ran to help Joe lift the old man out.
Carefully they bore him into the house and laid
him upon a bed in one of the finished rooms. He
did not speak or move and the workmen uncovered
their heads as they went out, but Joe knew that
they were mistaken. "It's all right, Mr. Arp,"
he said, as Ariel knelt by the bed with water and
restoratives. "It's all right. Don't you worry."
Then the veteran's lips twitched, and though his
eyes remained closed, Joe saw that Eskew understood,
for he gasped, feebly: "Pos-i-tive-ly--no--
To Mrs. Louden, sewing at an up-stairs window,
the sight of her stepson descending from Judge
Pike's carriage was sufficiently startling, but when
she saw Mamie Pike take Respectability from his
master's arms and carry him tenderly indoors,
while Joe and Ariel occupied themselves with Mr.
Arp, the good lady sprang to her feet as if she had
been stung, regardlessly sending her work-basket
and its contents scattering over the floor, and ran
down the stairs three steps at a time.
At the front door she met her husband, entering
for his dinner, and she leaped at him. Had he
seen? What was it? What had happened?
Mr. Louden rubbed his chin-beard, indulging himself
in a pause which was like to prove fatal to his
companion, finally vouchsafing the information that
the doctor's buggy was just turning the corner;
Eskew Arp had suffered a "stroke," it was said,
and, in Louden's opinion, was a mighty sick man.
His spouse replied in no uncertain terms that she
had seen quite that much for herself, urging him
to continue, which he did with a deliberation that
caused her to recall their wedding-day with a gust
of passionate self-reproach. Presently he managed
to interrupt, reminding her that her diningroom
windows commanded as comprehensive a
view of the next house as did the front steps, and
after a time her housewifely duty so far prevailed
over her indignation at the man's unwholesome
stolidity that she followed him down the hall to
preside over the meal, not, however, to partake
largely of it herself.
Mr. Louden had no information of Eugene's
mishap, nor had Mrs. Louden any suspicion that
all was not well with the young man, and, hearing
him enter the front door, she called to him that his
dinner was waiting. Eugene, however, made no
reply and went up-stairs to his own apartment
without coming into the dining-room.
A small crowd, neighboring children, servants,
and negroes, had gathered about Ariel's gate, and
Mrs. Louden watched the working-men disperse
this assembly, gather up their tools, and depart;
then Mamie came out of the house, and, bowing
sadly to three old men who were entering the gate
as she left it, stepped into her carriage and drove
away. The new-comers, Colonel Flitcroft, Squire
Buckalew, and Peter Bradbury, glanced at the
doctor's buggy, shook their heads at one another,
and slowly went up to the porch, where Joe met
them. Mrs. Louden uttered a sharp exclamation,
for the Colonel shook hands with her stepson.
Perhaps Flitcroft himself was surprised; he had
offered his hand almost unconsciously, and the
greeting was embarrassed and perfunctory; but
his two companions, each in turn, gravely followed
his lead, and Joe's set face flushed a little. It
was the first time in many years that men of
their kind in Canaan had offered him this salutation.
"He wouldn't let me send for you," he told
them. "He said he knew you'd be here soon
without that." And he led the way to Eskew's
Joe and the doctor had undressed the old man,
and had put him into night-gear of Roger Tabor's,
taken from an antique chest; it was soft and yellow
and much more like color than the face above it,
for the white hair on the pillow was not whiter
than that. Yet there was a strange youthfulness
in the eyes of Eskew; an eerie, inexplicable,
luminous, LIVE look; the thin cheeks seemed fuller than
they had been for years; and though the heavier
lines of age and sorrow could be seen, they appeared
to have been half erased. He lay not in sunshine,
but in clear light; the windows were open, the
curtains restrained, for he had asked them not to
darken the room.
The doctor was whispering in a doctor's way to
Ariel at the end of the room opposite the bed, when
the three old fellows came in. None of them spoke
immediately, and though all three cleared their
throats with what they meant for casual cheerfulness,
to indicate that the situation was not at all
extraordinary or depressing, it was to be seen that
the Colonel's chin trembled under his mustache,
and his comrades showed similar small and unwilling
signs of emotion.
Eskew spoke first. "Well, boys?" he said, and
That seemed to make it more difficult for the
others; the three white heads bent silently over the
fourth upon the pillow; and Ariel saw waveringly,
for her eyes suddenly filled, that the Colonel laid
his unsteady hand upon Eskew's, which was outside
the coverlet.
"It's--it's not," said the old soldier, gently--
"it's not on--on both sides, is it, Eskew?"
Mr. Arp moved his hand slightly in answer. "It
ain't paralysis," he said. "They call it `shock
and exhaustion'; but it's more than that. It's
just my time. I've heard the call. We've all
been slidin' on thin ice this long time--and it's
broke under me--"
"Eskew, Eskew!" remonstrated Peter Bradbury.
"You'd oughtn't to talk that-a-way! You
only kind of overdone a little--heat o' the day,
too, and--"
"Peter," interrupted the sick man, with feeble
asperity, "did you ever manage to fool me in your
"No, Eskew."
"Well, you're not doin' it now!"
Two tears suddenly loosed themselves from
Squire Buckalew's eyelids, despite his hard
endeavor to wink them away, and he turned from the
bed too late to conceal what had happened.
"There ain't any call to feel bad," said Eskew.
"It might have happened any time--in the night,
maybe--at my house--and all alone--but here's
Airie Tabor brought me to her own home and
takin' care of me. I couldn't ask any better way
to go, could I?"
"I don't know what we'll do," stammered the
Colonel, "if you--you talk about goin' away from
us, Eskew. We--we couldn't get along--"
"Well, sir, I'm almost kind of glad to think,"
Mr. Arp murmured, between short struggles for
breath, "that it 'll be--quieter--on the--"National
House" corner!"
A moment later he called the doctor faintly and
asked for a restorative. "There," he said, in a
stronger voice and with a gleam of satisfaction in
the vindication of his belief that he was dying. "I
was almost gone then. _I_ know!" He lay panting
for a moment, then spoke the name of Joe Louden.
Joe came quickly to the bedside.
"I want you to shake hands with the Colonel
and Peter and Buckalew.
"We did," answered the Colonel, infinitely
surprised and troubled. "We shook hands outside
before we came in."
"Do it again," said Eskew. "I want to see you."
And Joe, making shift to smile, was suddenly
blinded, so that he could not see the wrinkled hands
extended to him, and was fain to grope for them.
"God knows why we didn't all take his hand
long ago," said Eskew Arp. "I didn't because I
was stubborn. I hated to admit that the argument
was against me. I acknowledge it now before
him and before you--and I want the word of
"It's all right, Mr. Arp," began Joe, tremulously.
"You mustn't--"
"Hark to me"--the old man's voice lifted
higher: "If you'd ever whimpered, or give backtalk,
or broke out the wrong way, it would of been
different. But you never did. I've watched you
and I know; and you've just gone your own way
alone, with the town against you because you got
a bad name as a boy, and once we'd given you that,
everything you did or didn't do, we had to give
you a blacker one. Now it's time some one stood
by you! Airie Tabor 'll do that with all her soul
and body. She told me once I thought a good
deal of you. She knew! But I want these three
old friends of mine to do it, too. I was boys with
them and they'll do it, I think. They've even
stood up fer you against me, sometimes, but mostly
fer the sake of the argument, I reckon; but now
they must do it when there's more to stand against
than just my talk. They saw it all to-day--the
meanest thing I ever knew! I could of stood it
all except that!" Before they could prevent him
he had struggled half upright in bed, lifting a
clinched fist at the town beyond the windows.
"But, by God! when they got so low down they
tried to kill your dog--"
He fell back, choking, in Joe's arms, and the
physician bent over him, but Eskew was not gone,
and Ariel, upon the other side of the room, could
hear him whispering again for the restorative.
She brought it, and when he had taken it, went
quickly out-of-doors to the side yard.
She sat upon a workman's bench under the big
trees, hidden from the street shrubbery, and
breathing deeply of the shaded air, began to cry
quietly. Through the windows came the quavering
voice of the old man, lifted again, insistent, a
little querulous, but determined. Responses sounded,
intermittently, from the Colonel, from Peter,
and from Buckalew, and now and then a sorrowful,
yet almost humorous, protest from Joe; and
so she made out that the veteran swore his three
comrades to friendship with Joseph Louden, to lend
him their countenance in all matters, to stand by
him in weal and woe, to speak only good of him
and defend him in the town of Canaan. Thus did
Eskew Arp on the verge of parting this life render
The gate clicked, and Ariel saw Eugene
approaching through the shrubbery. One of his
hands was bandaged, a thin strip of court-plaster
crossed his forehead from his left eyebrow to his
hair, and his thin and agitated face showed several
light scratches.
"I saw you come out," he said. "I've been
waiting to speak to you."
"The doctor told us to let him have his way in
whatever he might ask." Ariel wiped her eyes.
"I'm afraid that means--"
"I didn't come to talk about Eskew Arp,"
interrupted Eugene. "I'm not laboring under any
anxiety about him. You needn't be afraid; he's
too sour to accept his conge so readily."
"Please lower your voice," she said, rising
quickly and moving away from him toward the house;
but, as he followed, insisting sharply that he must
speak with her, she walked out of ear-shot of the
windows, and stopping, turned toward him.
"Very well," she said. "Is it a message from
At this he faltered and hung fire.
"Have you been to see her?" she continued.
"I am anxious to know if her goodness and bravery
caused her any--any discomfort at home."
"You may set your mind at rest about that,"
returned Eugene. "I was there when the Judge
came home to dinner. I suppose you fear he may
have been rough with her for taking my stepbrother
into the carriage. He was not. On the
contrary, he spoke very quietly to her, and went
on out toward the stables. But I haven't come
to you to talk of Judge Pike, either!"
"No," said Ariel. "I don't care particularly to
hear of him, but of Mamie."
"Nor of her, either!" he broke out. "I want to
talk of you!"
There was not mistaking him; no possibility of
misunderstanding the real passion that shook him,
and her startled eyes betrayed her comprehension.
"Yes, I see you understand," he cried, bitterly.
"That's because you've seen others the same way.
God help me," he went on, striking his forehead
with his open hand, "that young fool of a Bradbury
told me you refused him only yesterday! He
was proud of even rejection from you! And there's
Norbert--and half a dozen others, perhaps, already,
since you've been here." He flung out his arms
in ludicrous, savage despair. "And here am I--"
"Ah yes," she cut him off, "it is of yourself that
you want to speak, after all--not of me!"
"Look here," he vociferated; "are you going to
marry that Joe Louden? I want to know whether
you are or not. He gave me this--and this today!"
He touched his bandaged hand and plastered
forehead. "He ran into me--over me--for
nothing, when I was not on my guard; struck me
down--stamped on me--"
She turned upon him, cheeks aflame, eyes
sparkling and dry.
"Mr. Bantry," she cried, "he did a good thing!
And now I want you to go home. I want you to
go home and try if you can discover anything in
yourself that is worthy of Mamie and of what she
showed herself to be this morning! If you can,
you will have found something that I could like!"
She went rapidly toward the house, and he was
senseless enough to follow, babbling: "What do
you think I'm made of? You trample on me--as
he did! I can't bear everything; I tell you--"
But she lifted her hand with such imperious will
that he stopped short. Then, through the window
of the sick-room came--clearly the querulous voice:
"I tell you it was; I heard him speak just now--
out there in the yard, that no-account step-brother
of Joe's! What if he IS a hired hand on the Tocsin?
He'd better give up his job and quit, than
do what he's done to help make the town think
hard of Joe. And what IS he? Why, he's worse
than Cory. When that Claudine Fear first came
here, 'Gene Bantry was hangin' around her himself.
Joe knew it and he'd never tell, but I will.
I saw 'em buggy-ridin' out near Beaver Beach
and she slapped his face fer him. It ought to be
"I didn't know that Joe knew--that!" Eugene
stammered huskily. "It was--it was--a long time
"If you understood Joe," she said, in a low
voice, "you would know that before these men
leave this house, he will have their promise never
to tell."
His eyes fell miserably, then lifted again; but in
her clear and unbearable gaze there shone such a
flame of scorn as he could not endure to look upon.
For the first time in his life he saw a true light
upon himself, and though the vision was darkling,
the revelation was complete.
"Heaven pity you!" she whispered.
Eugene found himself alone, and stumbled away,
his glance not lifted. He passed his own home
without looking up, and did not see his mother
beckoning frantically from a window. She ran
to the door and called him. He did not hear her,
but went on toward the Tocsin office with his head
still bent.
There was meat for gossip a plenty
in Canaan that afternoon and evening;
there were rumors that ran
from kitchen to parlor, and rumors
that ran from parlor to kitchen; speculations
that detained housewives in talk across
front gates; wonderings that held cooks in converse
over shadeless back fences in spite of the heat;
and canards that brought Main Street clerks
running to the shop doors to stare up and down the
sidewalks. Out of the confusion of report, the
judicious were able by evenfall to extract a fair
history of this day of revolution. There remained
no doubt that Joe Louden was in attendance at
the death-bed of Eskew Arp, and somehow it
came to be known that Colonel Flitcroft, Squire
Buckalew, and Peter Bradbury had shaken hands
with Joe and declared themselves his friends.
There were those (particularly among the relatives
of the hoary trio) who expressed the opinion that
the Colonel and his comrades were too old to be
responsible and a commission ought to sit on them;
nevertheless, some echoes of Eskew's last "argument"
to the conclave had sounded in the town
and were not wholly without effect.
Everywhere there was a nipping curiosity to
learn how Judge Pike had "taken" the strange
performance of his daughter, and the eager were
much disappointed when it was truthfully
reported that he had done and said very little. He
had merely discharged both Sam Warden and
Sam's wife from his service, the mild manner of
the dismissal almost unnerving Mr. Warden,
although he was fully prepared for bird-shot; and
the couple had found immediate employment in
the service of Ariel Tabor.
Those who humanly felt the Judge's behavior
to be a trifle flat and unsensational were
recompensed late in the afternoon when it became known
that Eugene Bantry had resigned his position on
the Tocsin. His reason for severing his connection
was dumfounding; he had written a formal letter
to the Judge and repeated the gist of it to his
associates in the office and acquaintances upon the
street. He declared that he no longer sympathized
with the attitude of the Tocsin toward his stepbrother,
and regretted that he had previously
assisted in emphasizing the paper's hostility to Joe,
particularly in the matter of the approaching murder
trial. This being the case, he felt that his
effectiveness in the service of the paper had ceased,
and he must, in justice to the owner, resign.
"Well, I'm damned!" was the simple comment
of the elder Louden when his step-son sought him
out at the factory and repeated this statement to
"So am I, I think," said Eugene, wanly. "Goodbye.
I'm going now to see mother, but I'll be gone
before you come home."
"Gone where?"
"Just away. I don't know where," Eugene
answered from the door. "I couldn't live here any
longer. I--"
"You've been drinking," said Mr. Louden,
inspired. "You'd better not let Mamie Pike see
Eugene laughed desolately. "I don't mean to.
I shall write to her. Good-bye," he said, and was
gone before Mr. Louden could restore enough
order out of the chaos in his mind to stop him.
Thus Mrs. Louden's long wait at the window
was tragically rewarded, and she became an
unhappy actor in Canaan's drama of that day. Other
ladies attended at other windows, or near their
front doors, throughout the afternoon: the families
of the three patriarchs awaiting their return, as
the time drew on, with something akin to frenzy.
Mrs. Flitcroft (a lady of temper), whose rheumatism
confined her to a chair, had her grandson
wheel her out upon the porch, and, as the dusk
fell and she finally saw her husband coming at a
laggard pace, leaning upon his cane, his chin sunk
on his breast, she frankly told Norbert that
although she had lived with that man more than
fifty-seven years, she would never be able to
understand him. She repeated this with genuine
symptoms of hysteria when she discovered that the
Colonel had not come straight from the Tabor
house, but had stopped two hours at Peter Bradbury's
to "talk it over."
One item of his recital, while sufficiently
startling to his wife, had a remarkable effect upon his
grandson. This was the information that Ariel
Tabor's fortune no longer existed.
"What's that?" cried Norbert, starting to his
feet. "What are you talking about?"
"It's true," said the Colonel, deliberately. "She
told me so herself. Eskew had dropped off into
a sort of doze--more like a stupor, perhaps,--and
we all went into Roger's old studio, except Louden
and the doctor, and while we were there, talkin',
one of Pike's clerks came with a basket full of tin
boxes and packages of papers and talked to Miss
Tabor at the door and went away. Then old Peter
blundered out and asked her point-blank what it
was, and she said it was her estate, almost everything
she had, except the house. Buckalew, tryin'
to make a joke, said he'd be willin' to swap HIS
house and lot for the basket, and she laughed and
told him she thought he'd be sorry; that all there
was, to speak of, was a pile of distillery stock--"
"What?" repeated Norbert, incredulously.
"Yes. It was the truth," said the Colonel,
solemnly. "I saw it myself: blocks and blocks of
stock in that distillery trust that went up higher'n
a kite last year. Roger had put all of Jonas's good
"Not into that!" shouted Norbert, uncontrollably
"Yes, he did. I tell you I saw it!"
"I tell you he didn't. He owned Granger Gas,
worth more to-day than it ever was! Pike was
Roger's attorney-in-fact and bought it for him
before the old man died. The check went through
my hands. You don't think I'd forget as big a
check as that, do you, even if it was more than a
year ago? Or how it was signed and who made
out to? It was Martin Pike that got caught with
distillery stock. He speculated once too often!"
"No, you're wrong," persisted the Colonel. "I
tell you I saw it myself."
"Then you're blind," returned his grandson,
disrespectfully; "you're blind or else--or else--"
He paused, open-mouthed, a look of wonder struggling
its way to expression upon him, gradually
conquering every knobby outpost of his countenance.
He struck his fat hands together. "Where's
Joe Louden?" he asked, sharply. "I want to see
him. Did you leave him at Miss Tabor's?"
"He's goin' to sit up with Eskew. What do you
want of him?"
"I should say you better ask that!" Mrs.
Flitcroft began, shrilly. "It's enough, I guess, for one
of this family to go runnin' after him and shakin'
hands with him and Heaven knows what not! NORBERT
But Norbert jumped from the porch, ruthlessly
crossed his grandmother's geranium-bed, and, making
off at as sharp a pace as his architecture permitted,
within ten minutes opened Ariel's gate.
Sam Warden came forward to meet him.
"Don't ring, please, suh," said Sam. "Dey sot
me out heah to tell inquirin' frien's dat po' ole Mist'
Arp mighty low."
"I want to see Mr. Louden," returned Norbert.
"I want to see him immediately."
"I don' reckon he kin come out yit," Sam said,
in a low tone. "But I kin go in an' ast 'em."
He stepped softly within, leaving Norbert waiting,
and went to the door of the sick-room. The
door was open, the room brightly lighted, as
Eskew had commanded when, a little earlier, he
Joe and Ariel were alone with him, leaning
toward him with such white anxiety that the colored
man needed no warning to make him remain silent
in the hallway. The veteran was speaking and
his voice was very weak, seeming to come from a
great distance.
"It's mighty funny, but I feel like I used to
when I was a little boy. I reckon I'm kind of
scared--after all. Airie Tabor,--are you--here?"
"Yes, Mr. Arp."
"I thought--so--but I--I don't see very well--
lately. I--wanted--to--know--to know--"
"Yes--to know?" She knelt close beside him.
"It's kind of--foolish," he whispered. "I just
--wanted to know if you was still here. It--don't
seem so lonesome now that I know."
She put her arm lightly about him and he smiled
and was silent for a time. Then he struggled
to rise upon his elbow, and they lifted him a
"It's hard to breathe," gasped the old man.
"I'm pretty near--the big road. Joe Louden--"
"You'd have been--willing--willing to change
places with me--just now--when Airie--"
Joe laid his hand on his, and Eskew smiled again.
"I thought so! And, Joe--"
"You always--always had the--the best of that
joke between us. Do you--you suppose they
charge admission--up there?" His eyes were
lifted. "Do you suppose you've got to--to show
your good deeds to git in?" The answering
whisper was almost as faint as the old man's.
"No," panted Eskew, "nobody knows. But I
hope--I do hope--they'll have some free seats.
It's a--mighty poor show--we'll--all have--if
He sighed peacefully, his head grew heavier on
Joe's arm; and the young man set his hand gently
upon the unseeing eyes. Ariel did not rise from
where she knelt, but looked up at him when, a little
later, he lifted his hand.
"Yes," said Joe, "you can cry now."
Joe helped to carry what was mortal
of Eskew from Ariel's house to its
final abiding-place. With him, in
that task, were Buckalew, Bradbury,
the Colonel, and the grandsons of the
two latter, and Mrs. Louden drew in her skirts
grimly as her step-son passed her in the mournful
procession through the hall. Her eyes were red
with weeping (not for Eskew), but not so red as
those of Mamie Pike, who stood beside her.
On the way to the cemetery, Joe and Ariel were
together in a carriage with Buckalew and the
minister who had read the service, a dark, pleasanteyed
young man;--and the Squire, after being almost
overcome during the ceremony, experienced
a natural reaction, talking cheerfully throughout
the long drive. He recounted many anecdotes of
Eskew, chuckling over most of them, though filled
with wonder by a coincidence which he and Flitcroft
had discovered; the Colonel had recently been
made the custodian of his old friend's will, and it
had been opened the day before the funeral. Eskew
had left everything he possessed--with the
regret that it was so little--to Joe.
"But the queer thing about it," said the Squire,
addressing himself to Ariel, "was the date of it,
the seventeenth of June. The Colonel and I got
to talkin' it over, out on his porch, last night,
tryin' to rec'lect what was goin' on about then,
and we figgered it out that it was the Monday
after you come back, the very day he got so upset
when he saw you goin' up to Louden's lawoffice
with your roses."
Joe looked quickly at Ariel. She did not meet
his glance, but, turning instead to Ladew, the
clergyman, began, with a barely perceptible blush,
to talk of something he had said in a sermon two
weeks ago. The two fell into a thoughtful and
amiable discussion, during which there stole into
Joe's heart a strange and unreasonable pain. The
young minister had lived in Canaan only a few
months, and Joe had never seen him until that
morning; but he liked the short, honest talk he had
made; liked his cadenceless voice and keen, dark
face; and, recalling what he had heard Martin
Pike vociferating in his brougham one Sunday,
perceived that Ladew was the fellow who had
"got to go" because his sermons did not please
the Judge. Yet Ariel remembered for more than
a fortnight a passage from one of these sermons.
And as Joe looked at the manly and intelligent face
opposite him, it did not seem strange that she
He resolutely turned his eyes to the open window
and saw that they had entered the cemetery, were
near the green knoll where Eskew was to lie beside
a brother who had died long ago. He let the minister
help Ariel out, going quickly forward himself
with Buckalew; and then--after the little
while that the restoration of dust to dust
mercifully needs--he returned to the carriage only to
get his hat.
Ariel and Ladew and the Squire were already
seated and waiting. "Aren't you going to ride
home with us?" she asked, surprised.
"No," he explained, not looking at her. "I
have to talk with Norbert Flitcroft. I'm going
back with him. Good-bye."
His excuse was the mere truth, his conversation
with Norbert, in the carriage which they managed
to secure to themselves, continuing earnestly until
Joe spoke to the driver and alighted at a corner,
near Mr. Farbach's Italian possessions. "Don't
forget," he said, as he closed the carriage door,
"I've got to have both ends of the string in my
"Forget!" Norbert looked at the cupola of
the Pike Mansion, rising above the maples down
the street. "It isn't likely I'll forget!"
When Joe entered the "Louis Quinze room"
which some decorator, drunk with power, had
mingled into the brewer's villa, he found the owner
and Mr. Sheehan, with five other men, engaged in
a meritorious attempt to tone down the apartment
with smoke. Two of the five others were prosperous
owners of saloons; two were known to the
public (whose notion of what it meant when it
used the term was something of the vaguest) as
politicians; the fifth was Mr. Farbach's closest
friend, one who (Joe had heard) was to be the next
chairman of the city committee of the party.
They were seated about a table, enveloped in blue
clouds, and hushed to a grave and pertinent silence
which clarified immediately the circumstance that
whatever debate had preceded his arrival, it was
now settled.
Their greeting of him, however, though exceedingly
quiet, indicated a certain expectancy, as he
accepted the chair which had been left for him at
the head of the table. He looked thinner and
paler than usual, which is saying a great deal; but
presently, finding that the fateful hush which his
entrance had broken was immediately resumed,
a twinkle came into his eye, one of his eyebrows
went up and a corner of his mouth went down.
"Well, gentlemen?" he said.
The smokers continued to smoke and to do
nothing else; the exception being Mr. Sheehan,
who, though he spoke not, exhibited tokens of
agitation and excitement which he curbed with
difficulty; shifting about in his chair, gnawing his
cigar, crossing and uncrossing his knees, rubbing
and slapping his hands together, clearing his throat
with violence, his eyes fixed all the while, as were
those of his companions, upon Mr. Farbach; so
that Joe was given to perceive that it had been
agreed that the brewer should be the spokesman.
Mr. Farbach was deliberate, that was all, which
added to the effect of what he finally did say.
"Choe," he remarked, placidly, "you are der
next Mayor off Canaan."
"Why do you say that?" asked the young man,
"Bickoss us here," he answered, interlocking the
tips of his fingers over his waistcoat, that being as
near folding his hands as lay within his power,--
"bickoss us here shall try to fix it so, und so hef
Joe took a deep breath. "Why do you want me?"
"Dot," replied the brewer, "iss someding I shall
tell you." He paused to contemplate his cigar.
"We want you bickoss you are der best man fer
dot positsion."
"Louie, you mustn't make a mistake at the
beginning," Joe said, hurriedly. "I may not be the
kind of man you're looking for. If I went in--"
He hesitated, stammering. "It seems an ungrateful
thing to say, but--but there wouldn't be any
slackness--I couldn't be bound to anybody--"
"Holt up your hosses!" Mr. Farbach, once in
his life, was so ready to reply that he was able to
interrupt. "Who hef you heert speak off bounding?
Hef I speakt off favors? Dit I say der shoult
be slackness in der city gofer'ment? Litsen to me,
Choe." He renewed his contemplation of his
cigar, then proceeded: "I hef been t'inkin' it ofer,
now a couple years. I hef mate up my mind. If
some peobles are gombelt to keep der laws and
oders are not, dot's a great atwantitch to der oders.
Dot iss what iss ruining der gountry und der peobles
iss commencement to take notice. Efer'veres
in oder towns der iss housecleaning; dey are
reforming und indieding, und pooty soon dot mofement
comes here--shoo-er! If we intent to holt
der parsly in power, we shoult be a leetle ahead off
dot mofement so, when it shoult be here, we hef
a goot 'minadstration to fall beck on. Now, dere
iss anoder brewery opened und trying to gombete
mit me here in Canaan. If dot brewery owns der
Mayor, all der tsaloons buying my bier must shut
up at 'leven o'glock und Sundays, but der oders
keep open. If I own der Mayor, I make der same
against dot oder brewery. Now I am pooty sick
off dot ways off bitsness und fighting all times.
Also," Mr. Farbach added, with magnificent calmness,
"my trade iss larchly owitside off Canaan,
und it iss bedder dot here der laws shoult be
enforced der same fer all. Litsen, Choe; all us here
beliefs der same way. You are square. Der
whole tsaloon element knows dot, und knows dot
all voult be treated der same. Mit you it voult be
fairness fer each one. Foolish peobles hef sait you
are a law-tricker, but we know dot you hef only
mate der laws brotect as well as bunish. Und at
such times as dey het been broken, you hef made
dem as mertsiful as you coult. You are no tricker.
We are willing to help you make it a glean town.
Odervise der fightin' voult go on until der mofement
strikes here und all der granks vake up und
we git a fool reformer fer Mayor und der town goes
to der dogs. If I try to put in a man dot I own,
der oder brewery iss goin' to fight like hell, but if
I work fer you it will not fight so hart."
"But the other people," Joe objected. "those
outside of what is called the saloon element--do you
understand how many of them will be against me?"
"It iss der tsaloon element," Mr. Farbach
returned, peacefully, "dot does der fightin'."
"And you have considered my standing with
that part of Canaan which considers itself the most
respectable section?" He rose to his feet, standing
straight and quiet, facing the table, upon
which, it chanced, there lay a copy of the Tocsin.
"Und yet," observed Mr. Farbach, with mildness,
"we got some pooty risbecdable men right
"Except me," broke in Mr. Sheehan, grimly,
"you have."
"Have you thought of this?" Joe leaned
forward and touched the paper upon the table.
"We hef," replied Mr. Farbach. "All of us.
You shall beat it,"
There was a strong chorus of confirmation from
the others, and Joe's eyes flashed.
"Have you considered," he continued, rapidly,
while a warm color began to conquer his pallor,--
"have you considered the powerful influence which
will be against me, and more against me now, I
should tell you, than ever before? That influence,
I mean, which is striving so hard to discredit me
that lynch-law has been hinted for poor Fear if I
should clear him! Have you thought of that?
Have you thought--"
"Have we thought o' Martin Pike?" exclaimed
Mr. Sheehan, springing to his feet, face aflame and
beard bristling. "Ay, we've thought o' Martin
Pike, and our thinkin' of him is where he begins
to git what's comin' to him! What d'ye stand
there pickin' straws fer? What's the matter with
ye?" he demanded, angrily, his violence tenfold
increased by the long repression he had put upon
himself during the brewer's deliberate utterances.
"If Louie Farbach and his crowd says they're fer
ye, I guess ye've got a chanst, haven't ye?"
"Wait," said Joe. "I think you underestimate
Pike's influence--"
"Underestimate the devil!" shouted Mr. Sheehan,
uncontrollably excited. "You talk about
influence! He's been the worst influence this town's
ever had--and his tracks covered up in the dark
wherever he set his ugly foot down. These men
know it, and you know some, but not the worst of
it, because none of ye live as deep down in it as I
do! Ye want to make a clean town of it, ye want
to make a little heaven of the Beach--"
"And in the eyes of Judge Pike," Joe cut him
off, "and of all who take their opinions from him,
I REPRESENT Beaver Beach!"
Mike Sheehan gave a wild shout. "Whooroo!
It's come! I knowed it would! The day I couldn't
hold my tongue, though I passed my word I would
when the coward showed the deed he didn't dare
to git recorded! Waugh!" He shouted again,
with bitter laughter. "Ye do! In the eyes o'
them as follow Martin Pike ye stand fer the Beach
and all its wickedness, do ye? Whooroo! It's
come! Ye're an offence in the eyes o' Martin Pike
and all his kind because ye stand fer the Beach,
are ye?"
"You know it!" Joe answered, sharply. "If
they could wipe the Beach off the map and me
with it--"
"Martin Pike would?" shouted Mr. Sheehan,
while the others, open-mouthed, stared at him.
"Martin Pike would?"
"I don't need to tell you that," said Joe.
Mr, Sheehan's big fist rose high over the table
and descended crashing upon it. "It's a damn
lie !" he roared. "Martin Pike owns Beaver
From within the glossy old walnut
bar that ran from wall to wall, the
eyes of the lawyers and reporters
wandered often to Ariel as she sat in
the packed court-room watching Louden's
fight for the life and liberty of Happy Fear.
She had always three escorts, and though she did
not miss a session, and the same three never failed
to attend her, no whisper of scandal arose. But
not upon them did the glances of the members of
the bar and the journalists with tender frequency
linger; nor were the younger members of these
two professions all who gazed that way. Joe had
fought out the selection of the jury with the
prosecutor at great length and with infinite pains;
it was not a young jury, and IT stared at her. The
"Court" wore a gray beard with which a flock
of sparrows might have villaged a grove, and yet,
in spite of the vital necessity for watchfulness over
this fighting case, IT once needed to be stirred from
a trancelike gaze in Miss Tabor's direction and
aroused to the realization that It was there to Sit
and not to dream.
The August air was warm outside the windows,
inviting to the open country, to swimmin'-hole,
to orchard reveries, or shaded pool wherein to
drop a meditative line; you would have thought no
one could willingly coop himself in this hot room
for three hours, twice a day, while lawyers wrangled,
often unintelligibly, over the life of a dingy little
creature like Happy Fear, yet the struggle to
swelter there was almost like a riot, and the bailiffs
were busy men.
It was a fighting case throughout, fought to a
finish on each tiny point as it came up, dragging,
in the mere matter of time, interminably, yet the
people of Canaan (not only those who succeeded
in penetrating to the court-room, but the others
who hung about the corridors, or outside the building,
and the great mass of stay-at-homes who read
the story in the Tocsin) found each moment of it
enthralling enough. The State's attorney, fearful of
losing so notorious a case, and not underestimating
his opponent, had modestly summoned others
to his aid; and the attorney for the defence, singlehanded,
faced "an array of legal talent such as
seldom indeed had hollered at this bar"; faced it
good-naturedly, an eyebrow crooked up and his
head on one side, most of the time, yet faced it
indomitably. He had a certain careless and
disarming smile when he lost a point, which carried
off the defeat as of only humorous account and
not at all part of the serious business in hand; and
in his treatment of witnesses, he was plausible,
kindly, knowing that in this case he had no
intending perjurer to entrap; brought into play the
rare and delicate art of which he was a master,
employing in his questions subtle suggestions and
shadings of tone and manner, and avoiding words
of debatable and dangerous meanings;--a fine craft,
often attempted by blunderers to their own undoing,
but which, practised by Joseph Louden,
made inarticulate witnesses articulate to the
precise effects which he desired. This he accomplished
as much by the help of the continuous fire
of objections from the other side as in spite of
them. He was infinitely careful, asking never an
ill-advised question for the other side to use to
his hurt, and, though exhibiting only a pleasant
easiness of manner, was electrically alert.
A hundred things had shown Ariel that the feeling
of the place, influenced by "public sentiment"
without, was subtly and profoundly hostile to Joe
and his client; she read this in the spectators, in
the jury, even in the Judge; but it seemed to her
that day by day the inimical spirit gradually failed,
inside the railing, and also in those spectators who,
like herself, were enabled by special favor to be
present throughout the trial, and that now and
then a kindlier sentiment began to be manifested.
She was unaware how strongly she contributed to
effect this herself, not only through the glow of
visible sympathy which radiated from her, but
by a particular action. Claudine was called by
the State, and told as much of her story as the
law permitted her to tell, interlarding her replies
with fervent protestations (too quick to be prevented)
that she "never meant to bring no trouble
to Mr. Fear" and that she "did hate to have gen'lemen
starting things on her account." When the
defence took this perturbed witness, her
interpolations became less frequent, and she described
straightforwardly how she had found the pistol on
the floor near the prostrate figure of Cory, and
hidden it in her own dress. The attorneys for the
State listened with a somewhat cynical amusement
to this portion of her testimony, believing it of no
account, uncorroborated, and that if necessary the
State could impeach the witness on the ground
that it had been indispensable to produce her.
She came down weeping from the stand; and, the
next witness not being immediately called, the
eyes of the jurymen naturally followed her as she
passed to her seat, and they saw Ariel Tabor bow
gravely to her across the railing. Now, a thousand
things not set forth by legislatures, law-men
and judges affect a jury, and the slight salutation
caused the members of this one to glance at one
another; for it seemed to imply that the exquisite
lady in white not only knew Claudine, but knew
that she had spoken the truth. It was after this,
that a feeling favorable to the defence now and
then noticeably manifested itself in the courtroom.
Still, when the evidence for the State was
all in, the life of Happy Fear seemed to rest in a
balance precarious indeed, and the little man,
swallowing pitifully, looked at his attorney with
the eyes of a sick dog.
Then Joe gave the prosecutors an illuminating
and stunning surprise, and, having offered in
evidence the revolver found upon Claudine, produced
as his first witness a pawnbroker of Denver, who
identified the weapon as one he had sold to Cory,
whom he had known very well. The second witness,
also a stranger, had been even more intimately
acquainted with the dead man, and there began to
be an uneasy comprehension of what Joe had
accomplished during that prolonged absence of his
which had so nearly cost the life of the little mongrel,
who was at present (most blissful Respectability!)
a lively convalescent in Ariel's back yard. The
second witness also identified the revolver,
testifying that he had borrowed it from Cory in St.
Louis to settle a question of marksmanship, and
that on his returning it to the owner, the latter,
then working his way eastward, had confided to
him his intention of stopping in Canaan for the
purpose of exercising its melancholy functions upon
a man who had once "done him good" in that
By the time the witness had reached this point,
the Prosecutor and his assistants were on their
feet, excitedly shouting objections, which were
promptly overruled. Taken unawares, they fought
for time; thunder was loosed, forensic bellowings;
everybody lost his temper--except Joe; and
the examination of the witness proceeded. Cory,
with that singular inspiration to confide in some
one, which is the characteristic and the undoing
of his kind, had outlined his plan of operations to
the witness with perfect clarity. He would first
attempt, so he had declared, to incite an attack
upon himself by playing upon the jealousy of his
victim, having already made a tentative effort in
that direction. Failing in this, he would fall back
upon one of a dozen schemes (for he was ready in
such matters, he bragged), the most likely of which
would be to play the peacemaker; he would talk
of his good intentions toward his enemy, speaking
publicly of him in friendly and gentle ways; then,
getting at him secretly, destroy him in such a
fashion as to leave open for himself the kind gate
of self-defence. In brief, here was the whole tally
of what had actually occurred, with the exception
of the last account in the sequence which had
proved that demise for which Cory had not
arranged and it fell from the lips of a witness whom
the prosecution had no means of impeaching.
When he left the stand, unshaken and undiscredited,
after a frantic cross-examination, Joe,
turning to resume his seat, let his hand fall lightly
for a second upon his client's shoulder.
That was the occasion of a demonstration which
indicated a sentiment favorable to the defence (on
the part of at least three of the spectators); and it
was in the nature of such a hammering of canes
upon the bare wooden floor as effectually stopped
all other proceedings instantly. The indignant
Judge fixed the Colonel, Peter Bradbury, and
Squire Buckalew with his glittering eye, yet the
hammering continued unabated; and the offenders
surely would have been conducted forth in
ignominy, had not gallantry prevailed, even in
that formal place. The Judge, reluctantly realizing
that some latitude must be allowed to these
aged enthusiasts, since they somehow seemed to
belong to Miss Tabor, made his remarks general,
with the time-worn threat to clear the room,
whereupon the loyal survivors of Eskew relapsed
into unabashed silence.
It was now, as Joe had said, a clear-enough case.
Only the case itself, however, was clear, for, as
he and his friends feared, the verdict might possibly
be neither in accordance with the law, the
facts, nor the convictions of the jury. Eugene's
defection had not altered the tone of the Tocsin.
All day long a crowd of men and boys hung
about the corridors of the Court-house, about
the Square and the neighboring streets, and from
these rose sombre murmurs, more and more ominous.
The public sentiment of a community like
Canaan can make itself felt inside a court-room;
and it was strongly exerted against Happy Fear.
The Tocsin had always been a powerful agent;
Judge Pike had increased its strength with a
staff which was thoroughly efficient, alert, and
always able to strike centre with the paper's
readers; and in town and country it had absorbed
the circulation of the other local journals, which
resisted feebly at times, but in the matter of the
Cory murder had not dared to do anything except
follow the Tocsin's lead. The Tocsin, having lit
the fire, fed it--fed it saltpetre and sulphur--for
now Martin Pike was fighting hard.
The farmers and people of the less urban parts
of the country were accustomed to found their
opinions upon the Tocsin. They regarded it as
the single immutable rock of journalistic
righteousness and wisdom in the world. Consequently,
stirred by the outbursts of the paper, they came
into Canaan in great numbers, and though the
pressure from the town itself was so strong that
only a few of them managed to crowd into the
court-room, the others joined their voices to those
sombre murmurs outdoors, which increased in
loudness as the trial went on.
The Tocsin, however, was not having everything
its own way; the volume of outcry against
Happy Fear and his lawyer had diminished, it was
noticed, in "very respectable quarters." The
information imparted by Mike Sheehan to the politicians
at Mr. Farbach's had been slowly seeping
through the various social strata of the town, and
though at first incredulously rejected, it began to
find acceptance; Upper Main Street cooling appreciably
in its acceptance of the Tocsin as the law
and the prophets. There were even a few who
dared to wonder in their hearts if there had not
been a mistake about Joe Louden; and although
Mrs. Flitcroft weakened not, the relatives of
Squire Buckalew and of Peter Bradbury began to
hold up their heads a little, after having made
home horrible for those gentlemen and reproached
them with their conversion as the last word of
senile shame. In addition, the Colonel's grandson
and Mr. Bradbury's grandson had both mystifyingly
lent countenance to Joe, consorting with
him openly; the former for his own purposes--the
latter because he had cunningly discovered that
it was a way to Miss Tabor's regard, which, since
her gentle rejection of him, he had grown to
believe (good youth!) might be the pleasantest thing
that could ever come to him. In short, the question
had begun to thrive: Was it possible that Eskew
Arp had not been insane, after all?
The best of those who gathered ominously about
the Court-house and its purlieus were the young
farmers and field-hands, artisans and clerks; one
of the latter being a pimply faced young man
(lately from the doctor's hands), who limped, and
would limp for the rest of his life, he who, of all
men, held the memory of Eskew Arp in least respect,
and was burningly desirous to revenge himself
upon the living.
The worst were of that mystifying, embryonic,
semi-rowdy type, the American voyou, in the
production of which Canaan and her sister towns
everywhere over the country are prolific; the
young man, youth, boy perhaps, creature of nameless
age, whose clothes are like those of a brakeman
out of work, but who is not a brakeman in
or out of work; wearing the black, soft hat tilted
forward to shelter--as a counter does the contempt
of a clerk--that expression which the face does not
dare wear quite in the open, asserting the possession
of supreme capacity in wit, strength, dexterity,
and amours; the dirty handkerchief under the collar;
the short black coat always double-breasted;
the eyelids sooty; one cheek always bulged; the
forehead speckled; the lips cracked; horrible teeth;
and the affectation of possessing secret information
upon all matters of the universe; above all,
the instinct of finding the shortest way to any
scene of official interest to the policeman, fireman,
or ambulance surgeon,--a singular being, not
professionally criminal; tough histrionically rather than
really; full of its own argot of brag; hysterical when
crossed, timid through great ignorance, and therefore
dangerous. It furnishes not the leaders but
the mass of mobs; and it springs up at times of
crisis from Heaven knows where. You might have
driven through all the streets of Canaan, a week
before the trial, and have seen four or five such
fellows; but from the day of its beginning the
Square was full of them, dingy shuttlecocks batted
up into view by the Tocsin.
They kept the air whirring with their noise.
The news of that sitting which had caused the
Squire, Flitcroft, and Peter Bradbury to risk the
Court's displeasure, was greeted outside with loud
and vehement disfavor; and when, at noon, the
jurymen were marshalled out to cross the yard
to the "National House" for dinner, a large crowd
followed and surrounded them, until they reached
the doors of the hotel. "Don't let Lawyer Louden
bamboozle you!" "Hang him!" "Tar and feathers
fer ye ef ye don't hang him!" These were the
mildest threats, and Joe Louden, watching from
an upper window of the Court-house, observed
with a troubled eye how certain of the jury shrank
from the pressure of the throng, how the cheeks
of others showed sudden pallor. Sometimes "public
sentiment" has done evil things to those who
have not shared it; and Joe knew how rare a thing
is a jury which dares to stand square against a
town like Canaan aroused.
The end of that afternoon's session saw another
point marked for the defence; Joe had put the
defendant on the stand, and the little man had proved
an excellent witness. During his life he had been
many things--many things disreputable; high
standards were not brightly illumined for him in
the beginning of the night-march which his life
had been. He had been a tramp, afterward a
petty gambler; but his great motive had finally
come to be the intention to do what Joe told him
to do: that, and to keep Claudine as straight as he
could. In a measure, these were the two things
that had brought him to the pass in which he now
stood, his loyalty to Joe and his resentment of
whatever tampered with Claudine's straightness.
He was submissive to the consequences: he was
still loyal. And now Joe asked him to tell "just
what happened," and Happy obeyed with crystal
clearness. Throughout the long, tricky crossexamination
he continued to tell "just what
happened" with a plaintive truthfulness not to
be imitated, and throughout it Joe guarded him
from pitfalls (for lawyers in their search after
truth are compelled by the exigencies of their
profession to make pitfalls even for the honest), and
gave him, by various devices, time to remember,
though not to think, and made the words "come
right" in his mouth. So that before the sitting
was over, a disquieting rumor ran through the
waiting crowd in the corridors, across the Square,
and over the town, that the case was surely going
"Louden's way." This was also the opinion of
a looker-on in Canaan--a ferret-faced counsellor
of corporations who, called to consultation with
the eminent Buckalew (nephew of the Squire),
had afterward spent an hour in his company at
the trial. "It's going that young fellow Louden's
way," said the stranger. "You say he's a shyster,
"Well," admitted Buckalew, with some
reluctance, "I don't mean that exactly. I've got an
old uncle who seems lately to think he's a great man."
"I'll take your uncle's word for it," returned
the other, smiling. "I think he'll go pretty far."
They had come to the flight of steps which
descended to the yard,--and the visitor, looking down
upon the angry crowd, added, "If they don't kill him!"
Joe himself was anxious concerning no such
matter. He shook hands with Happy at the end
of the sitting, bidding him be of good cheer, and,
when the little man had marched away, under a
strong guard, began to gather and sort his papers
at a desk inside the bar. This took him perhaps
five minutes, and when he had finished there were
only three people left in the room: a clerk, a negro
janitor with a broom, and the darky friend who
always hopefully accompanies a colored man holding
high public office. These two approvingly
greeted the young lawyer, the janitor handing him
a note from Norbert Flitcroft, and the friend
mechanically "borrowing" a quarter from him as he
opened the envelope.
"I'll be roun' yo' way to git a box o' SE-gahs,"
laughed the friend, "soon ez de campaign open up
good. Dey all goin' vote yo' way, down on the
levee bank, but dey sho' expecks to git to smoke
a little 'fo' leckshun-day! We knows who's OW
Norbert's missive was lengthy and absorbing;
Joe went on his way, perusing it with profound
attention; but as he descended the stairway to the
floor below, a loud burst of angry shouting, outside
the building, caused him to hasten toward
the big front doors which faced Main Street. The
doors opened upon an imposing vestibule, from
which a handsome flight of stone steps, protected
by a marble balustrade, led to the ground.
Standing at the top of these steps and leaning
over the balustrade, he had a clear view of half the
yard. No one was near him; everybody was running
in the opposite direction, toward that corner
of the yard occupied by the jail, the crowd centring
upon an agitated whirlpool of men which
moved slowly toward a door in the high wall that
enclosed the building; and Joe saw that Happy
Fear's guards, conducting the prisoner back to his
cell, were being jostled and rushed. The distance
they had made was short, but as they reached the
door the pressure upon them increased dangerously.
Clubs rose in the air, hats flew, the whirlpool
heaved tumultuously, and the steel door clanged.
Happy Fear was safe inside, but the jostlers were
outside--baffled, ugly, and stirred with the passion
that changes a crowd into a mob.
Then some of them caught sight of Joe as he
stood alone at the top of the steps, and a great
shout of rage and exultation arose.
For a moment or two he did not see his danger.
At the clang of the door, his eyes, caught by the
gleam of a wide white hat, had turned toward the
street, and he was somewhat fixedly watching Mr.
Ladew extricate Ariel (and her aged and indignant
escorts) from an overflow of the crowd in which
they had been caught. But a voice warned him:
the wild piping of a newsboy who had climbed into
a tree near by.
"JOE LOUDEN!" he screamed. "LOOK OUT!"
With a muffled roar the crowd surged back from
the jail and turned toward the steps. "Tar and
feather him!" "Take him over to the river and
throw him in!" "Drown him!" "Hang him!"
Then a thing happened which was dramatic
enough in its inception, but almost ludicrous in its
effect. Joe walked quietly down the steps and
toward the advancing mob with his head cocked
to one side, one eyebrow lifted, and one corner of
his mouth drawn down in a faintly distorted smile.
He went straight toward the yelling forerunners,
with only a small bundle of papers in his hands,
and then--while the non-partisan spectators held
their breath, expecting the shock of contact--
straight on through them.
A number of the bulge-cheeked formed the
scattering van of these forerunners, charging with
hoarse and cruel shrieks of triumph. The first,
apparently about to tear Joseph Louden to pieces,
changed countenance at arm's-length, swerved
violently, and with the loud cry, "HEAD HIM OFF!"
dashed on up the stone steps. The man next
behind him followed his lead, with the same shout,
strategy, and haste; then the others of this advance
attack, finding themselves confronting the quiet
man, who kept his even pace and showed no
intention of turning aside for them, turned suddenly
aside for HIM, and, taking the cue from the first,
pursued their way, bellowing: "HEAD HIM OFF!
HEAD HIM OFF!" until there were a dozen and more
rowdyish men and youths upon the steps, their
eyes blazing with fury, menacing Louden's back
with frightful gestures across the marble balustrade,
as they hysterically bleated the chorus,
Whether or not Joe could have walked through
the entire mob as he had walked through these is
a matter for speculation; it was believed in Canaan
that he could. Already a gust of mirth began to
sweep over the sterner spirits as they paused to
marvel no less at the disconcerting advance of
the lawyer than at the spectacle presented by the
intrepid dare-devils upon the steps; a kind of lane
actually opening before the young man as he walked
steadily on. And when Mr. Sheehan, leading half
a dozen huge men from the Farbach brewery,
unceremoniously shouldered a way through the mob to
Joe's side, reaching him where the press was thickest,
it is a question if the services of his detachment
were needed.
The laughter increased. It became voluminous.
Homeric salvos shook the air. And never one of
the fire-eaters upon the steps lived long enough
to live down the hateful cry of that day, "HEAD
HIM OFF!" which was to become a catch-word on
the streets, a taunt more stinging than any devised
by deliberate invention, an insult bitterer than the
ancestral doubt, a fighting-word, and the great
historical joke of Canaan, never omitted in afterdays
when the tale was told how Joe Louden took
that short walk across the Court-house yard which
made him Mayor of Canaan.
An hour later, Martin Pike, looking
forth from the Mansion, saw a man
open the gate, and, passing between
the unemotional deer, rapidly
approach the house. He was a thin
young fellow, very well dressed in dark gray, his
hair prematurely somewhat silvered, his face
prematurely somewhat lined, and his hat covered a
scar such as might have been caused by a blow
from a blunt instrument in the nature of a poker.
He did not reach the door, nor was there necessity
for him to ring, for, before he had set foot on
the lowest step, the Judge had hastened to meet
him. Not, however, with any fulsomely hospitable
intent; his hand and arm were raised to execute
one of his Olympian gestures, of the kind which
had obliterated the young man upon a certain bygone
Louden looked up calmly at the big figure
towering above him.
"It won't do, Judge," he said; that was all, but
there was a significance in his manner and a certainty
in his voice which caused the uplifted hand
to drop limply; while the look of apprehension
which of late had grown more and more to be
Martin Pike's habitual expression deepened into
something close upon mortal anxiety.
"Have you any business to set foot upon my
property?" he demanded.
"Yes," answered Joe. "That's why I came."
"What business have you got with me?"
"Enough to satisfy you, I think. But there's
one thing I don't want to do"--Joe glanced at the
open door--"and that is to talk about it here--for
your own sake and because I think Miss Tabor
should be present. I called to ask you to come
to her house at eight o'clock to-night."
"You did!" Martin Pike spoke angrily, but
not in the bull-bass of yore; and he kept his voice
down, glancing about him nervously as though
he feared that his wife or Mamie might hear.
"My accounts with her estate are closed," he said,
harshly. "If she wants anything, let her come here."
Joe shook his head. "No. You must be there
at eight o'clock "
The Judge's choler got the better of his uneasiness.
"You're a pretty one to come ordering me
around!" he broke out. "You slanderer, do you
suppose I haven't heard how you're going about
traducing me, undermining my character in this
community, spreading scandals that I am the real
owner of Beaver Beach--"
"It can easily be proved, Judge," Joe interrupted,
quietly, "though you're wrong: I haven't
been telling people. I haven't needed to--even
if I'd wished. Once a thing like that gets out you
can't stop it--ever! That isn't all: to my knowledge
you own other property worse than the Beach;
I know that you own half of the worst dens in
the town: profitable investments, too. You bought
them very gradually and craftily, only showing
the deeds to those in charge--as you did to Mike
Sheehan, and not recording them. Sheehan's
betrayal of you gave me the key; I know most of the
poor creatures who are your tenants, too, you
see, and that gave me an advantage because they
have some confidence in me. My investigations
have been almost as quiet and careful as your purchases."
"You damned blackmailer!" The Judge bent
upon him a fierce, inquiring scrutiny in which, oddly
enough, there was a kind of haggard hopefulness.
"And out of such stories," he sneered,
"you are going to try to make political capital
against the Tocsin, are you?"
"No," said Joe. "It was necessary in the
interests of my client for me to know pretty thoroughly
just what property you own, and I think I do.
These pieces I've mentioned are about all you
have not mortgaged. You couldn't do that without
exposure, and you've kept a controlling interest
in the Tocsin clear, too--for the sake of its
influence, I suppose. Now, do you want to hear
any more, or will you agree to meet me at Miss
Tabor's this evening?"
Whatever the look of hopefulness had signified,
it fled from Pike's face during this speech, but he
asked with some show of contempt, "Do you
think it likely?"
"Very well," said Joe, "if you want me to
speak here." And he came a little closer to him.
"You bought a big block of Granger Gas for Roger
Tabor," he began, in a low voice. "Before his
death you sold everything he had, except the old
house, put it all into cash for him, and bought that
stock; you signed the check as his attorney-in-fact,
and it came back to you through the Washington
National, where Norbert Flitcroft handled it. He
has a good memory, and when he told me what he
knew, I had him to do some tracing; did a little
myself, also. Judge Pike, I must tell you that
you stand in danger of the law. You were the
custodian of that stock for Roger Tabor; it was
transferred in blank; though I think you meant
to be `legal' at that time, and that was merely for
convenience in case Roger had wished you to sell
it for him. But just after his death you found
yourself saddled with distillery stock, which was
going bad on your hands. Other speculations of
yours were failing at the same time; you had to
have money--you filed your report as administrator,
crediting Miss Tabor with your own stock
which you knew was going to the wall, and transferred
hers to yourself. Then you sold it because
you needed ready money. You used her fortune
to save yourself--but you were horribly afraid!
No matter how rotten your transactions had been,
you had always kept inside the law; and now that
you had gone outside of it, you were frightened.
You didn't dare come flat out to Miss Tabor with
the statement that her fortune had gone; it had
been in your charge all the time and things might
look ugly. So you put it off, perhaps from day
to day. You didn't dare tell her until you were
forced to, and to avoid the confession you sent her
the income which was rightfully hers. That was
your great weakness."
Joe had spoken with great rapidity, though keeping
his voice low, and he lowered it again, as he
continued: "Judge Pike, what chance have you
to be believed in court when you swear that you
sent her twenty thousand dollars out of the goodness
of your heart? Do you think SHE believed
you? It was the very proof to her that you had
robbed her. For she knew you! Do you want
to hear more now? Do you think this is a good
place for it? Do you wish me to go over the
details of each step I have taken against you, to land
you at the bar where this poor fellow your paper
is hounding stands to-day?"
The Judge essayed to answer, and could not.
He lifted his hand uncertainly and dropped it,
while a thick dew gathered on his temples.
Inarticulate sounds came from between his teeth.
"You will come?" said Joe.
Martin Pike bent his head dazedly; and at that
the other turned quickly from him and went away
without looking back.
Ariel was in the studio, half an hour later, when
Joe was announced by the smiling Mr. Warden.
Ladew was with her, though upon the point of
taking his leave, and Joe marked (with a sinking
heart) that the young minister's cheeks were
flushed and his eyes very bright.
"It was a magnificent thing you did, Mr. Louden,"
he said, offering his hand heartily; "I saw
it, and it was even finer in one way than it was
plucky. It somehow straightened things out with
such perfect good nature; it made those people feel
that what they were doing was ridiculous."
"So it was," said Joe.
"Few, under the circumstances, could have
acted as if they thought so! And I hope you'll
let me call upon you, Mr. Louden."
"I hope you will," he answered; and then, when
the minister had departed, stood looking after him
with sad eyes, in which there dwelt obscure meditations.
Ladew's word of farewell had covered a
deep look at Ariel, which was not to be mistaken
by Joseph Louden for anything other than what
it was: the clergyman's secret was an open one,
and Joe saw that he was as frank and manly in
love as in all other things. "He's a good fellow,"
he said at last, sighing. "A good man."
Ariel agreed. "And he said more to me than
he did to you."
"Yes, I think it probable," Joe smiled sorrowfully.
"About YOU, I mean." He had time to fear
that her look admitted confusion before she
proceeded: "He said he had never seen anything so
fine as your coming down those steps. Ah, he
was right! But it was harder for me to watch
you, I think, than for you to do it, Joe. I was so
horribly afraid--and the crowd between us--if we
could have got near you--but we couldn't--we--"
She faltered, and pressed her hand close upon
her eyes.
"We?" asked Joe, slowly. "You mean you
and Mr. Ladew?"
"Yes, he was there; but I mean"--her voice
ran into a little laugh with a beatific quaver in it
--"I mean Colonel Flitcroft and Mr. Bradbury
and Mr. Buckalew, too--we were hemmed in together
when Mr. Ladew found us--and, oh, Joe,
when that cowardly rush started toward you,
those three--I've heard wonderful things in Paris
and Naples, cabmen quarrelling and disappointed
beggars--but never anything like them to-day--"
"You mean they were profane?"
"Oh, magnificently--and with such inventiveness!
All three begged my pardon afterwards. I
didn't grant it--I blessed them!"
"Did they beg Mr. Ladew's pardon?"
"Ah, Joe!" she reproached him. "He isn't a
prig. And he's had to fight some things that you
of all men ought to understand. He's only been
here a few months, but he told me that Judge Pike
has been against him from the start. It seems that
Mr. Ladew is too liberal in his views. And he told
me that if it were not for Judge Pike's losing
influence in the church on account of the Beaver
Beach story, the Judge would probably have been
able to force him to resign; but now he will stay."
"He wishes to stay, doesn't he?"
"Very much, I think. And, Joe," she continued,
thoughtfully, "I want you to do something for me.
I want you to go to church with me next Sunday."
"To hear Mr. Ladew?"
"Yes. I wouldn't ask except for that."
"Very well," he consented, with averted eyes.
"I'll go."
Her face was radiant with the smile she gave
him. "It will make me very happy," she said.
He bent his head and fumbled over some papers
he had taken from his pocket. "Will you listen to
these memoranda? We have a great deal to go
over before eight o'clock."
Judge Pike stood for a long while where Joe had
left him, staring out at the street, apparently.
Really he saw nothing. Undoubtedly an image
of blurring foliage, cast-iron, cement, and turf,
with sunshine smeared over all, flickered upon the
retinas of his eyes; but the brain did not accept the
picture from the optic nerve. Martin Pike was
busy with other visions. Joe Louden had followed
him back to his hidden deeds and had read them
aloud to him as Gabriel would read them on Judgmentday.
Perhaps THIS was the Judgment-day.
Pike had taken charge of Roger Tabor's affairs
because the commissions as agent were not too
inconsiderable to be neglected. To make the
task simpler, he had sold, as time went on, the
various properties of the estate, gradually
converting all of them into cash. Then, the
opportunity offering, he bought a stock which paid
excellent dividends, had it transferred in blank,
because if it should prove to Roger's advantage to
sell it, his agent could do so without any formal
delays between Paris and Canaan. At least, that
is what the Judge had told himself at the time,
though it may be that some lurking whisperer in
his soul had hinted that it might be well to preserve
the great amount of cash in hand, and Roger's
stock was practically that. Then came the evil
days. Laboriously, he had built up a name for
conservatism which most of the town accepted,
but secretly he had always been a gambler: Wall
Street was his goal; to adventure there, as one of
the great single-eyed Cyclopean man-eaters, his
fond ambition; and he had conceived the distillery
trust as a means to attain it; but the structure
tumbled about his ears; other edifices of his
crumbled at the same time; he found himself beset, his
solvency endangered, and there was the Tabor
stock, quite as good as gold; Roger had just died,
and it was enough to save him.--Save? That was
a strange way to be remembering it to-day, when
Fate grinned at him out of a dreadful mask contorted
like the face of Norbert Flitcroft.
Martin Pike knew himself for a fool. What
chance had he, though he destroyed the check a
thousand times over, to escape the records by
which the coil of modern trade duplicates and
quadruplicates each slip of scribbled paper? What
chance had he against the memories of men?
Would the man of whom he had bought, forget
that the check was signed by Roger's agent? Had
the bank-clerk forgotten? Thrice fool, Martin Pike,
to dream that in a town like Canaan, Norbert or
any of his kind could touch an order for so great
a sum and forget it! But Martin Pike had not
dreamed that; had dreamed nothing. When failure
confronted him his mind refused to consider
anything but his vital need at the time, and he
had supplied that need. And now he grew busy
with the future: he saw first the civil suit for
restitution, pressed with the ferocity and cunning of
one who intended to satisfy a grudge of years;
then, perhaps, a criminal prosecution. . . . But he
would fight it! Did they think that such a man
was to be overthrown by a breath of air? By a
girl, a bank-clerk, and a shyster lawyer? They
would find their case difficult to prove in court.
He did not believe they COULD prove it. They
would be discredited for the attempt upon him
and he would win clear; these Beaver Beach scandals
would die of inertia presently; there would he
a lucky trick in wheat, and Martin Pike would be
Martin Pike once more; reinstated, dictator of
church, politics, business; all those things which
were the breath of his life restored. He would
show this pitiful pack what manner of man they
hounded! Norbert Flitcroft. . . .
The Judge put his big hand up to his eyes and
rubbed them. Curious mechanisms the eyes. . . .
That deer in line with the vision--not a zebra?
A zebra after all these years? And yet . . . curious,
indeed, the eyes! . . . a zebra. . . . Who ever heard
of a deer with stripes? The big hand rose from
the eyes and ran through the hair which he had
always worn rather long. It would seem strange
to have it cut very short. . . . Did they use clippers,
perhaps? . . .
He started suddenly and realized that his nextdoor
neighbor had passed along the sidewalk with
head averted, pretending not to see him. A few
weeks ago the man would not have missed the
chance of looking in to bow--with proper deference,
too! Did he know? He could not know THIS!
It must be the Beaver Beach scandal. It must be.
It could not be THIS--not yet! But it MIGHT be.
How many knew? Louden, Norbert, Ariel--who else?
And again the deer took on the strange zebra look.
The Judge walked slowly down to the gate; spoke
to the man he had employed in Sam Warden's
place, a Scotchman who had begun to refresh the
lawn with a garden hose; bowed affably in response
to the salutation of the elder Louden, who was
passing, bound homeward from the factory, and
returned to the house with thoughtful steps. In
the hall he encountered his wife; stopped to speak
with her upon various household matters; then
entered the library, which was his workroom. He
locked the door; tried it, and shook the handle.
After satisfying himself of its security, he pulled
down the window-shades carefully, and, lighting
a gas drop-lamp upon his desk, began to fumble
with various documents, which he took from a
small safe near by. But his hands were not steady;
he dropped the papers, scattering them over the
floor, and had great difficulty in picking them up.
He perspired heavily: whatever he touched became
damp, and he continually mopped his forehead
with his sleeve. After a time he gave up the
attempt to sort the packets of papers; sank into a
chair despairingly, leaving most of them in disorder.
A light tap sounded on the door.
"Martin, it's supper-time."
With a great effort he made shift to answer:
"Yes, I know. You and Mamie go ahead. I'm
too busy to-night. I don't want anything."
A moment before, he had been a pitiful figure,
face distraught, hands incoherent, the whole body
incoordinate, but if eyes might have rested upon
him as he answered his wife they would have seen
a strange thing; he sat, apparently steady and
collected, his expression cool, his body quiet, poised
exactly to the quality of his reply, for the same
strange reason that a young girl smiles archly and
coquettes to a telephone.
"But, Martin, you oughtn't to work so hard.
You'll break down--"
"No fear of that," he replied, cheerfully. "You
can leave something on the sideboard for me."
After another fluttering remonstrance, she went
away, and the room was silent again. His arms
rested upon the desk, and his head slowly sank
between his elbows. When he lifted it again the
clock on the mantel-piece had tinkled once. It
was half-past seven. He took a sheet of notepaper
from a box before him and began to write,
but when he had finished the words, "My dear
wife and Mamie," his fingers shook so violently
that he could go no further. He placed his left
hand over the back of his right to steady it, but
found the device unavailing: the pen left mere
zigzags on the page, and he dropped it.
He opened a lower drawer of the desk and took
out of it a pistol; rose, went to the door, tried it
once more, and again was satisfied of his seclusion.
Then he took the weapon in both hands, the
handle against his fingers, one thumb against the
trigger, and, shaking with nausea, lifted it to the
level of his eyes. His will betrayed him; he could
not contract his thumb upon the trigger, and,
with a convulsive shiver, he dropped the revolver
upon the desk.
He locked the door of the room behind him,
crept down the stairs and out of the front-door.
He walked shamblingly, when he reached the
street, keeping close to the fences as he went on,
now and then touching the pickets with his hands
like a feeble old man.
He had always been prompt; it was one of the
things of which he had been proud: in all his life
he had never failed to keep a business engagement
precisely upon the appointed time, and the Courthouse
bell clanged eight when Sam Warden opened
the door for his old employer to-night.
The two young people looked up gravely from
the script-laden table before them as Martin Pike
came into the strong lamplight out of the dimness
of the hall, where only a taper burned. He shambled
a few limp steps into the room and came to
a halt. Big as he was, his clothes hung upon him
loosely, like coverlets upon a collapsed bed; and
he seemed but a distorted image of himself, as if
(save for the dull and reddened eyes) he had been
made of yellowish wax and had been left too long
in the sun. Abject, hopeless, his attitude a
confession of ruin and shame, he stood before his
judges in such wretchedness that, in comparison,
the figure of Happy Fear, facing the court-room
through his darkest hour, was one to be envied.
"Well," he said, brokenly, "what are you going
to do?"
Joe Louden looked at him with great intentness
for several moments. Then he rose and came
forward. "Sit down, Judge," he said. "It's all
right. Don't worry "
Mrs. Flitcroft, at breakfast on
the following morning, continued a
disquisition which had ceased, the
previous night, only because of a
provoking human incapacity to exist
without sleep. Her theme was one which had
exclusively occupied her since the passing of
Eskew, and, her rheumatism having improved so
that she could leave her chair, she had become a
sort of walking serial; Norbert and his grandfather
being well assured that, whenever they left the
house, the same story was to be continued upon
their reappearance. The Tocsin had been her great
comfort: she was but one helpless woman against
two strong men; therefore she sorely needed assistance
in her attack upon them, and the invaluable
newspaper gave it in generous measure.
"Yes, young man," she said, as she lifted her
first spoonful of oatmeal, "you BETTER read the
"I AM reading it," responded Norbert, who was
almost concealed by the paper.
"And your grandfather better read it!" she
continued, severely.
"I already have," said the Colonel, promptly.
"Have you?"
"No, but you can be sure I will!" The good
lady gave the effect of tossing her head. "And
you better take what it says to heart, you and
some others. It's a wonder to me that you and
Buckalew and old Peter don't go and hold that
Happy Fear's hand durin' the trial! And as for
Joe Louden, his step-mother's own sister, Jane,
says to me only yesterday afternoon, `Why, law!
Mrs. Flitcroft,' she says, `it's a wonder to me,'
she says, `that your husband and those two other
old fools don't lay down in the gutter and let that
Joe Louden walk over 'em.' "
"Did Jane Quimby say `those two other old
fools'?" inquired the Colonel, in a manner which
indicated that he might see Mr. Quimby in regard
to the slander.
"I can't say as I remember just precisely her
exact words," admitted Mrs. Flitcroft, "but that
was the sense of 'em! You've made yourselves
the laughin'-stock of the whole town!"
"Oh, we have?"
"And I'd like to know"--her voice became shrill
and goading--"I'd like to know what Judge Pike
thinks of you and Norbert! I should think you'd
be ashamed to have him pass you in the street."
"I've quit speaking to him," said Norbert, coldly,
"ever since I heard he owned Beaver Beach."
"That story ain't proved yet!" returned his
grandmother, with much irascibility.
"Well, it will be; but that's not all." Norbert
wagged his head. "You may be a little surprised
within the next few days."
"I've been surprised for the PAST few!" she
replied, with a bitterness which overrode her
satisfaction in the effectiveness of the retort.
"Surprised! I'd like to know who wouldn't be
surprised when half the town acts like it's gone crazy.
People PRAISIN' that fellow, that nobody in their
sober minds and senses never in their lives had a
good word for before! Why, there was more talk
yesterday about his doin's at the Court-house--
you'd of thought he was Phil Sheridan! It's `Joe
Louden' here and `Joe Louden' there, and `Joe
Louden' this and `Joe Louden' that, till I'm sick
of the name!"
"Then why don't you quit saying it?" asked the
Colonel, reasonably.
"Because it'd OUGHT to be said!" she exclaimed,
with great heat. "Because he'd ought to be held
up to the community to be despised. You let me
have that paper a minute," she pursued, vehemently;
"you just let me have the Tocsin and I'll read
you out some things about him that 'll show him
in his true light!"
"All right," said Norbert, suddenly handing her
the paper. "Go ahead."
And after the exchange of a single glance the
two gentlemen composed themselves to listen.
"Ha!" exclaimed Mrs. Flitcroft. "Here it is in
head-lines on the first page. `Defence Scores
Again and Again. Ridiculous Behavior of a
Would-Be Mob. Louden's--"' She paused,
removed her spectacles, examined them dubiously,
restored them to place, and continued: "`Louden's
Masterly Conduct and Well-Deserved--' " she
paused again, incredulous--"`Well-Deserved Triumph--' "
"Go on," said the Colonel, softly.
"Indeed I will!" the old lady replied. "Do you
think I don't know sarcasm when I see it? Ha,
ha!" She laughed with great heartiness. "I
reckon I WILL go on! You listen and try to LEARN
something from it!" She resumed the reading:
"`It is generally admitted that after yesterday's
sitting of the court, the prosecution in the Fear-
Cory murder trial has not a leg to stand on. Louden's
fight for his client has been, it must be confessed,
of a most splendid and talented order, and
the bottom has fallen out of the case for the State,
while a verdict of Not Guilty, it is now conceded,
is the general wish of those who have attended and
followed the trial. But the most interesting event
of the day took place after the session, when some
miscreants undertook to mob the attorney for the
defence in the Court-house yard. He met the
attack with a coolness and nerve which have won
him a popularity that--' " Mrs. Flitcroft again
"Go on," repeated the Colonel. "There's a
great deal more."
"Look at the editorials," suggested Norbert.
"There's one on the same subject."
Mrs. Flitcroft, her theory of the Tocsin's sarcasm
somewhat shaken, turned the page. "We Confess
a Mistake" was the rubric above the leader, and
she uttered a cry of triumph, for she thought the
mistake was what she had just been reading, and
that the editorial would apologize for the
incomprehensible journalistic error upon the first page.
"`The best of us make mistakes, and it is well
to have a change of heart sometimes.' " (Thus
Eugene's successor had written, and so Mrs. Flitcroft
read.) "`An open confession is good for the
soul. The Tocsin has changed its mind in regard
to certain matters, and means to say so freely and
frankly. After yesterday's events in connection
with the murder trial before our public, the evidence
being now all presented, for we understand
that neither side has more to offer, it is generally
conceded that all good citizens are hopeful of a
verdict of acquittal; and the Tocsin is a good
citizen. No good citizen would willingly see an
innocent man punished, and that our city is not
to be disgraced by such a miscarriage of justice is
due to the efforts of the attorney for the defendant,
who has gained credit not only by his masterly
management of this case, but by his splendid conduct
in the face of danger yesterday afternoon.
He has distinguished himself so greatly that we
frankly assert that our citizens may point with
pride to--' " Mrs. Flitcroft's voice, at the beginning
pitched to a high exultation, had gradually
lowered in key and dropped down the scale till
it disappeared altogether.
"It's a wonder to me," the Colonel began, "that
the Tocsin doesn't go and hold Joe Louden's hand."
"I'll read the rest of it for you," said Norbert,
his heavy face lighting up with cruelty. "Let's
see--where were you? Oh yes--`point with
pride'? `Our citizens may point with pride to . . .' "
Let us not linger to observe the unmanly
behavior of an aged man and his grandson left alone
at the breakfast-table by a defenceless woman.
The Tocsin's right-about-face undermined others
besides Mrs. Flitcroft that morning, and rejoiced
greater (though not better) men than the Colonel.
Mr. Farbach and his lieutenants smiled, yet stared,
amazed, wondering what had happened. That
was a thing which only three people even certainly
knew; yet it was very simple.
The Tocsin was part of the Judge's restitution.
"The controlling interest in the paper, together
with the other property I have listed," Joe had
said, studying his memoranda under the lamp in
Roger's old studio, while Martin Pike listened with
his head in his hands, "make up what Miss Tabor
is willing to accept. As I estimate it, their total
value is between a third and a half of that of the
stock which belonged to her."
"But this boy--this Flitcroft," said Pike, feebly;
"he might--"
"He will do nothing," interrupted Joe. "The
case is `settled out of court,' and even if he were
disposed to harass you, he could hardly hope to
succeed, since Miss Tabor declines either to sue
or to prosecute."
The Judge winced at the last word. "Yes--yes,
I know; but he might--he might--tell."
"I think Miss Tabor's influence will prevent.
If it should not--well, you're not in a desperate
case by any means; you're involved, but far from
stripped; in time you may be as sound as ever.
And if Norbert tells, there's nothing for you to do
but to live it down." A faint smile played upon
Joe's lips as he lifted his head and looked at the
other. "It can be done, I think."
It was then that Ariel, complaining of the warmth
of the evening, thought it possible that Joe might
find her fan upon the porch, and as he departed,
whispered hurriedly: "Judge Pike, I'm not
technically in control of the Tocsin, but haven't I the
right to control its policy?"
"I understand," he muttered. "You mean
about Louden--about this trial--"
"That is why I have taken the paper."
"You want all that changed, you mean?"
She nodded decisively. "From this instant.
Before morning."
"Oh, well, I'll go down there and give the word."
He rubbed his eyes wearily with big thumbs.
"I'm through fighting. I'm done. Besides, what's
the use? There's nothing more to fight."
"Now, Judge," Joe said, as he came in briskly,
"we'll go over the list of that unencumbered property,
if you will."
This unencumbered property consisted of Beaver
Beach and those other belongings of the Judge
which he had not dared to mortgage. Joe had
somehow explained their nature to Ariel, and
these with the Tocsin she had elected to accept
in restitution.
"You told me once that I ought to look after
my own property, and now I will. Don't you see?"
she cried to Joe, eagerly. "It's my work!" She
resolutely set aside every other proposition; and
this was the quality of mercy which Martin Pike
found that night.
There was a great crowd to hear Joe's summingup
at the trial, and those who succeeded in getting
into the court-room declared that it was worth the
struggle. He did not orate, he did not "thunder
at the jury," nor did he slyly flatter them; he did
not overdo the confidential, nor seem so secure
of understanding beforehand what their verdict
would be that they felt an instinctive desire to
fool him. He talked colloquially but clearly,
without appeal to the pathetic and without
garnitures, not mentioning sunsets, birds, oceans,
homes, the glorious old State, or the happiness of
liberty; but he made everybody in the room quite
sure that Happy Fear had fired the shot which
killed Cory to save his own life. And that, as Mr.
Bradbury remarked to the Colonel, was "what Joe
was THERE for!"
Ariel's escort was increased to four that day:
Mr. Ladew sat beside her, and there were times
when Joe kept his mind entirely to the work in
hand only by an effort, but he always succeeded.
The sight of the pale and worshipping face of
Happy Fear from the corner of his eye was enough
to insure that. And people who could not get
near the doors, asking those who could, "What's
he doin' now?" were answered by variations of the
one formula, "Oh, jest walkin' away with it!"
Once the court-room was disturbed and set in
an uproar which even the Judge's customary
threat failed to subdue. Joe had been talking very
rapidly, and having turned the point he was making
with perfect dexterity, the jury listening eagerly,
stopped for a moment to take a swallow of
water. A voice rose over the low hum of the
crowd in a delirious chuckle: "Why don't somebody
`HEAD HIM OFF!' " The room instantly rocked
with laughter, under cover of which the identity
of the sacrilegious chuckler was not discovered,
but the voice was the voice of Buckalew, who was
incredibly surprised to find that he had spoken
The jury were "out," after the case had been
given to them, seventeen minutes and thirty seconds
by the watch Claudine held in her hand. The
little man, whose fate was now on the knees of the
gods, looked pathetically at the foreman and
then at the face of his lawyer and began to shake
violently, but not with fright. He had gone to
the jail on Joe's word, as a good dog goes where
his master bids, trustfully; and yet Happy had
not been able to keep his mind from considering
the horrible chances. "Don't worry," Joe had
said. "It's all right. I'll see you through."
And he had kept his word.
The little man was cleared.
It took Happy a long time to get through what
he had to say to his attorney in the anteroom,
and even then, of course, he did not manage to put
it in words, for he had "broken down" with sheer
gratitude. "Why, damn ME, Joe," he sobbed,
"if ever I--if ever you--well, by God! if you
ever--" This was the substance of his lingual
accomplishment under the circumstances. But
Claudine threw her arms around poor Joe's neck
and kissed him.
Many people were waiting to shake hands with
Joe and congratulate him. The trio, taking
advantage of seats near the rail, had already done
that (somewhat uproariously) before he had followed
Happy, and so had Ariel and Ladew, both,
necessarily, rather hurriedly. But in the
corridors he found, when he came out of the anteroom,
clients, acquaintances, friends: old friends,
new friends, and friends he had never seen before
--everybody beaming upon him and wringing his
hand, as if they had been sure of it all from the
"KNOW him?" said one to another. "Why, I've
knowed him sence he was that high! SMART little
feller he was, too!" This was a total stranger.
"I said, years ago"--thus Mr. Brown, the
"National House" clerk, proving his prophetic vision
--"that he'd turn out to be a big man some day."
They gathered round him if he stopped for an
instant, and crowded after him admiringly when
he went on again, making his progress slow. When
he finally came out of the big doors into the
sunshine, there were as many people in the yard as
there had been when he stood in the same place
and watched the mob rushing his client's guards.
But to-day their temper was different, and as he
paused a moment, looking down on the upturned,
laughing faces, with a hundred jocular and
congratulatory salutations shouted up at him,
somebody started a cheer, and it was taken up with
thunderous good-will.
There followed the interrogation customary in
such emergencies, and the anxious inquirer was
informed by four or five hundred people simultaneously
that Joe Louden was all right.
"HEAD HIM OFF!" bellowed Mike Sheehan,
suddenly darting up the steps. The shout increased,
and with good reason, for he stepped quickly back
within the doors; and, retreating through the building,
made good his escape by a basement door.
He struck off into a long detour, but though he
managed to evade the crowd, he had to stop and
shake hands with every third person he met. As
he came out upon Main Street again, he encountered
his father.
"Howdy do, Joe?" said this laconic person, and
offered his hand. They shook, briefly. "Well,"
he continued, rubbing his beard, "how are ye?"
"All right, father, I think."
"Satisfied with the verdict?"
"I'd be pretty hard to please if I weren't," Joe
Mr. Louden rubbed his beard again. "I was
there," he said, without emotion.
"At the trial, you mean?"
"Yes." He offered his hand once more, and
again they shook. "Well, come around and see
us," he said.
"Thank you. I will."
"Well," said Mr. Louden, "good-day, Joe."
"Good-day, father."
The young man stood looking after him with a
curious smile. Then he gave a slight start. Far
up the street he saw two figures, one a lady's, in
white, with a wide white hat; the other a man's,
wearing recognizably clerical black. They seemed
to be walking very slowly.
It had been a day of triumph for Joe; but in
all his life he never slept worse than he did that
He woke to the chiming of bells, and,
as his eyes slowly opened, the sorrowful
people of a dream, who seemed
to be bending over him, weeping,
swam back into the darkness of the
night whence they had come, and returned to the
imperceptible, leaving their shadows in his heart.
Slowly he rose, stumbled into the outer room, and
released the fluttering shade; but the sunshine,
springing like a golden lover through the open
window, only dazzled him, and found no answering
gladness to greet it, nor joy in the royal day it
And yet, to the newly cleaned boys on their
way to midsummer morning Sunday-school, the
breath of that cool August day was as sweet as
stolen apples. No doubt the stir of far, green
thickets and the twinkle of silver-slippered creeks
shimmered in the longing vision of their minds'
eyes; even so, they were merry. But Joseph
Louden, sighing as he descended his narrow stairs,
with the bitterness still upon his lips of the frightful
coffee he had made, heard the echo of their
laughter with wonder.
It would be an hour at least before time to start
to church, when Ariel expected him; he stared
absently up the street, then down, and, after that,
began slowly to walk in the latter direction, with
no very active consciousness, or care, of where he
went. He had fallen into a profound reverie, so
deep that when he had crossed the bridge and
turned into a dusty road which ran along the
river-bank, he stopped mechanically beside the
trunk of a fallen sycamore, and, lifting his head,
for the first time since he had set out, looked
about him with a melancholy perplexity, a little
surprised to find himself there.
For this was the spot where he had first seen the
new Ariel, and on that fallen sycamore they had
BRIDGE AT NOON!" And Joe's cheeks burned, as he
recalled why he had not understood the clear
voice that had haunted him. But that shame had
fallen from him; she had changed all that, as she
had changed so many things. He sank down in
the long grass, with his back against the log, and
stared out over the fields of tall corn, shaking in
a steady wind all the way to the horizon.
"Changed so many things?" he said, half aloud.
"Everything!" Ah, yes, she had changed the
whole world for Joseph Louden--at his first sight
of her! And now it seemed to him that he was to
lose her, but not in the way he had thought.
Almost from the very first, he had the feeling
that nothing so beautiful as that she should stay
in Canaan could happen to him. He was sure that
she was but for the little while, that her coming
was like the flying petals of which he had told her.
He had lain upon the earth; and she had lifted
him up. For a moment he had felt the beatific
wings enfolding him with gentle protection, and
then saw them lifted to bear the angel beyond his
sight. For it was incredible that the gods so
loved Joe Louden that they would make greater
gifts to him than this little time with her which
they had granted him.
"Changed so many things?"
The bars that had been between him and half
of his world were down, shattered, never more to
be replaced; and the ban of Canaan was lifted.
Could this have been, save for her? And upon
that thought he got to his feet, uttering an
exclamation of bitter self-reproach, asking himself
angrily what he was doing. He knew how much
she gave him, what full measure of her affection!
Was not that enough?--Out upon you, Louden!
Are you to sulk in your tent, dour in the gloom,
or to play a man's part, and if she be happy, turn
a cheery face upon her joy?
And thus this pilgrim recrossed the bridge,
emerging to the street with his head up, smiling,
and his shoulders thrown back so that none might
see the burden he carried.
Ariel was waiting on the porch for him. She
wore the same dress she had worn that Sunday of
their tryst; that exquisite dress, with the faint
lavender overtint, like the tender colors of the
beautiful day he made his own. She had not worn
it since, and he was far distant when he caught the
first flickering glimpse of her through the lower
branches of the maples, but he remembered. . . .
And again, as on that day, he heard a far-away,
ineffable music, the Elf-land horns, sounding the
mysterious reveille which had wakened his soul to
her coming.
She came to the gate to meet him, and gave him
her hand in greeting, without a word--or the need
of one--from either. Then together they set forth
over the sun-flecked pavement, the maples swishing
above them, heavier branches crooning in the
strong breeze, under a sky like a Della Robbia
background. And up against the glorious blue of
it, some laughing, invisible god was blowing small,
rounded clouds of pure cotton, as children blow
When he opened her parasol, as they came out
into the broad sunshine beyond Upper Main Street,
there was the faintest mingling of wild roses and
cinnamon loosed on the air.
"Joe," she said, "I'm very happy!"
"That's right," he returned, heartily. "I think
you always will be."
"But, oh! I wish," she went on, "that Mr. Arp
could have lived to see you come down the Courthouse
"God bless him!" said Joe. "I can hear the
"Those dear old men have been so loyal to you, Joe."
"No," he returned; "loyal to Eskew."
"To you both," she said. "I'm afraid the old
circle is broken up; they haven't met on the National
House corner since he died. The Colonel told
me he couldn't bear to go there again."
"I don't believe any of them ever will," he
returned. "And yet I never pass the place that I
don't see Eskew in his old chair. I went there last
night to commune with him. I couldn't sleep,
and I got up, and went over there; they'd left the
chairs out; the town was asleep, and it was beautiful
"To commune with him? What about?"
"Why?" she asked, plainly mystified.
"I stood in need of good counsel," he answered,
cheerfully, "or a friendly word, perhaps, and--as
I sat there--after a while it came."
"What was it?"
"To forget that I was sodden with selfishness;
to pretend not to be as full of meanness as I really
was! Doesn't that seem to be Eskew's own voice?"
"Weren't you happy last night, Joe?"
"Oh, it was all right," he said, quickly. "Don't
you worry."
And at this old speech of his she broke into a
little laugh of which he had no comprehension.
"Mamie came to see me early this morning,"
she said, after they had walked on in silence for
a time. "Everything is all right with her again;
that is, I think it will be. Eugene is coming home.
And," she added, thoughtfully, "it will be best
for him to have his old place on the Tocsin again.
She showed me his letter, and I liked it. I think
he's been through the fire--"
Joe's distorted smile appeared. "And has come
out gold?" he asked.
"No," she laughed; "but nearer it! And I
think he'll try to be more worth her caring for.
She has always thought that his leaving the Tocsin
in the way he did was heroic. That was her word
for it. And it WAS the finest thing he ever did."
"I can't figure Eugene out." Joe shook his
head. "There's something behind his going away
that I don't understand." This was altogether
the truth; nor was there ever to come a time when
either he or Mamie would understand what things
had determined the departure of Eugene Bantry;
though Mamie never questioned, as Joe did, the
reasons for it, or doubted those Eugene had given
her, which were the same he had given her father.
For she was content with his return.
Again the bells across the Square rang out their
chime. The paths were decorously enlivened with
family and neighborhood groups, bound churchward;
and the rumble of the organ, playing the
people into their pews, shook on the air. And
Joe knew that he must speak quickly, if he was
to say what he had planned to say, before he and
Ariel went into the church.
"Ariel?" He tried to compel his voice to a
casual cheerfulness, but it would do nothing for
him, except betray a desperate embarrassment.
She looked at him quickly, and as quickly away.
"I wanted to say something to you, and I'd
better do it now, I think--before I go to church
for the first time in two years!" He managed to
laugh, though with some ruefulness, and continued
stammeringly: "I want to tell you how much I
like him--how much I admire him--"
"Admire whom?" she asked, a little coldly, for
she knew.
"Mr. Ladew."
"So do I," she answered, looking straight ahead.
"That is one reason why I wanted you to come
with me to-day."
"It isn't only that. I want to tell you--to tell
you--" He broke off for a second. "You
remember that night in my office before Fear came
"Yes; I remember."
"And that I--that something I said troubled
you because it--it sounded as if I cared too much
for you--"
"No; not too much." She still looked straight
ahead. They were walking very slowly. "You
didn't understand. You'd been in my mind, you
see, all those years, so much more than I in yours.
I hadn't forgotten YOU. But to you I was really
a stranger--"
"No, no!" he cried.
"Yes, I was," she said, gently but very quickly.
"And I--I didn't want you to fall in love with me
at first sight. And yet--perhaps I did! But I
hadn't thought of things in that way. I had just
the same feeling for you that I always had--
always! I had never cared so much for any one else,
and it seemed to me the most necessary thing in
my life to come back to that old companionship--
Don't you remember--it used to trouble you so
when I would take your hand? I think I loved
your being a little rough with me. And once,
when I saw how you had been hurt, that day you
ran away--"
"Ariel!" he gasped, helplessly.
"Have you forgotten?"
He gathered himself together with all his will.
"I want to prove to you," he said, resolutely,
"that the dear kindness of you isn't thrown away
on me; I want you to know what I began to say:
that it's all right with me; and I think Ladew--"
He stopped again. "Ah! I've seen how much he
cares for you--"
"Have you?"
"Ariel," he said, "that isn't fair to me, if you
trust me. You could not have helped seeing--"
"But I have not seen it," she interrupted, with
great calmness. After having said this, she finished
truthfully: "If he did, I would never let him
tell me. I like him too much."
"You mean you're not going to--"
Suddenly she turned to him. "NO!" she said,
with a depth of anger he had not heard in her
voice since that long-ago winter day when she
struck Eugene Bantry with her clenched fist.
She swept over him a blinding look of reproach.
"How could I?"
And there, upon the steps of the church, in the
sudden, dazzling vision of her love, fell the burden
of him who had made his sorrowful pilgrimage
across Main Street bridge that morning.
A manifold rustling followed them as they went
down the aisle, and the sibilance of many whisperings;
but Joe was not conscious of that, as he
took his place in Ariel's pew beside her. For him
there was only the presence of divinity; the church
was filled with it.
They rose to sing:
"Ancient of days, Who sittest, throned in glory,
To Thee all knees are bent, all voices pray;
Thy love has blest the wide world's wondrous story
With light and life since Eden's dawning day."
And then, as they knelt to pray, there were the
white heads of the three old friends of Eskew Arp;
and beyond was the silver hair of Martin Pike,
who knelt beside his daughter. Joe felt that people
should be very kind to the Judge.
The sun, so eager without, came temperately
through the windows, where stood angels and
saints in gentle colors, and the face of the young
minister in this quiet light was like the faces in
the windows. . . .
"Not only to confront your enemies," he said;
"that is not enough; nor is it that I would have you
bluster at them, nor take arms against them; you
will not have to do that if, when they come at
you, you do not turn one inch aside, but with an
assured heart, with good nature, not noisily, and
with steadfastness, you keep on your way. If
you can do that, I say that they will turn aside
for you, and you shall walk straight through them,
and only laughter be left of their anger!"
There was a stir among the people, and many
faces turned toward Joe. Two years ago he had
sat in the same church, when his character and
actions had furnished the underlying theme of a
sermon, and he had recognized himself without
difficulty: to-day he had not the shadow of a
dream that the same thing was happening. He
thought the people were turning to look at Ariel,
and he was very far from wondering at that.
She saw that he did not understand; she was
glad to have it so. She had taken off her gloves,
and he was holding them lightly and reverently in
his hands, looking down upon them, his thin cheeks
a little flushed. And at that, and not knowing
the glory that was in his soul, something forlorn
in his careful tenderness toward her gloves so
touched her that she felt the tears coming to her
eyes with a sudden rush. And to prevent them.
"Not the empty gloves, Joe," she whispered.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?