A Modern Instance
William Dean Howells
Part 3 out of 9
Kinney laid bread and crackers by each plate, and on each he placed a vast
slab of cold corned beef. Then he lifted the lid of the pot in which the
cabbage and potatoes were boiling together, and pricked them with a fork.
He dished up the beans in a succession of deep tins, and set them at
intervals along the tables, and began to talk again. "Well, now, I'm sorry.
I'd just begun to feel real well acquainted with you. Tell you the truth, I
didn't take much of a fancy to you, first off."
"Is that so?" asked Bartley, not much disturbed by the confession.
"Yes, sir. Well, come to boil it down," said Kinney, with the frankness of
the analytical mind that disdains to spare itself in the pursuit of truth,
"I didn't like your good clothes. I don't suppose I ever had a suit of
clothes to fit me. Feel kind of ashamed, you know, when I go into the
store, and take the first thing the Jew wants to put off on to me. Now, I
suppose you go to Macullar and Parker's in Boston, and you get what _you_
"No; I have my measure at a tailor's," said Bartley, with ill-concealed
pride in the fact.
"You don't say so!" exclaimed Kinney. "Well!" he said, as if he might as
well swallow this pill, too, while he was about it. "Well, what's the use?
I never was the figure for clothes, anyway. Long, gangling boy to start
with, and a lean, stoop-shouldered man. I found out some time ago that a
fellow wa'n't necessarily a bad fellow because he had money, or a good
fellow because he hadn't. But I hadn't quite got over hating a man because
he had style. Well, I suppose it was a kind of a _survival_, as old Tylor
calls it. But I tell you, I sniffed round you a good while before I made up
my mind to swallow you. And that turnout of yours, it kind of staggered me,
after I got over the clothes. Why, it wa'n't so much the colt,--any man
likes to ride after a sorrel colt; and it wa'n't so much the cutter: it was
the red linin' with pinked edges that you had to your robe; and it was the
red ribbon that you had tied round the waist of your whip. When I see that
ribbon on that whip, damn you, I wanted to kill you." Bartley broke out
into a laugh, but Kinney went on soberly. "But, thinks I to myself: 'Here!
Now you stop right here! You wait! You give the fellow a chance for his
life. Let him have a chance to show whether that whip-ribbon goes all
through him, first. If it does, kill him cheerfully; but give him a chance
_first_.' Well, sir, I gave you the chance, and you showed that you
deserved it. I guess you taught me a lesson. When I see you at work,
pegging away hard at something or other, every time I went into your
office, up and coming with everybody, and just as ready to pass the time of
day with me as the biggest bug in town, thinks I: 'You'd have made a great
mistake to kill that fellow, Kinney!' And I just made up my mind to like
"Thanks," said Bartley, with ironical gratitude.
Kinney did not speak at once. He whistled thoughtfully through his teeth,
and then he said: "I'll tell you what: if you're going away _very_ poor, I
know a wealthy chap you can raise a loan out of."
Bartley thought seriously for a silent moment. "If your friend offers me
twenty dollars, I'm not too well dressed to take it."
"All right," said Kinney. He now dished up the cabbage and potatoes, and
throwing a fresh handful of tea into the pot, and filling it up with water,
he took down a tin horn, with which he went to the door and sounded a long,
"Guess it was the clothes again," said Kinney, as he began to wash his tins
and dishes after the dinner was over, and the men had gone back to their
work. "I could see 'em eyin' you over when they first came in, and I could
see that they didn't exactly like the looks of 'em. It would wear off in
time, but it _takes_ time for it to wear off; and it had to go pretty rusty
for a start-off. Well, I don't know as it makes much difference to you,
"Oh, I thought we got along very well," said Bartley, with a careless yawn.
"There wasn't much chance to get acquainted." Some of the loggers were as
handsome and well-made as he, and were of as good origin and traditions,
though he had some advantages of training. But his two-button cutaway, his
well-fitting trousers, his scarf with a pin in it, had been too much for
these young fellows in their long 'stoga boots and flannel shirts. They
looked at him askance, and despatched their meal with more than their
wonted swiftness, and were off again into the woods without any
demonstrations of satisfaction in Bartley's presence.
He had perceived their grudge, for he had felt it in his time. But it did
not displease him; he had none of the pain with which Kinney, who had so
long bragged of him to the loggers, saw that his guest was a failure.
"I guess they'll come out all right in the end," he said. In this warm
atmosphere, after the gross and heavy dinner he had eaten, he yawned again
and again. He folded his overcoat into a pillow for his bench and lay down,
and lazily watched Kinney about his work. Presently he saw Kinney seated on
a block of wood beside the stove, with his elbow propped in one hand, and
holding a magazine, out of which he was reading; he wore spectacles, which
gave him a fresh and interesting touch of grotesqueness. Bartley found that
an empty barrel had been placed on each side of him, evidently to keep him
from rolling off his bench.
"Hello!" he said. "Much obliged to you, Kinney. I haven't been taken such
good care of since I can remember. Been asleep, haven't I?"
"About an hour," said Kinney, with a glance at the clock, and ignoring his
agency in Bartley's comfort.
"Food for the brain!" said Bartley, sitting up. "I should think so. I've
dreamt a perfect New American Cyclopaedia, and a pronouncing gazetteer
"Is that so?" said Kinney, as if pleased with the suggestive character of
his cookery, now established by eminent experiment.
Bartley yawned a yawn of satisfied sleepiness, and rubbed his hand over
his face. "I suppose," he said, "if I'm going to write anything about Camp
Kinney, I had better see all there is to see."
"Well, yes, I presume you had," said Kinney. "We'll go over to where
they're cuttin', pretty soon, and you can see all there is in an hour. But
I presume you'll want to see it so as to ring in some description, hey?
Well, that's all right. But what you going to do with it, when you've done
it, now you're out of the Free Press?"
"Oh, I shouldn't have printed it in the Free Press, anyway Coals to
Newcastle, you know. I'll tell you what I think I'll do, Kinney: I'll get
my outlines, and then you post me with a lot of facts,--queer characters,
accidents, romantic incidents, snowings-up, threatened starvation,
adventures with wild animals,--and I can make something worth while; get
out two or three columns, so they can print it in their Sunday edition. And
then I'll take it up to Boston with me, and seek my fortune with it."
"Well, sir, I'll do it," said Kinney, fired with the poetry of the idea.
"I'll post you! Dumn 'f I don't wish _I_ could write! Well, I _did_ use to
scribble once for an agricultural paper; but I don't call that writin'.
I've set down, well, I guess as much as sixty times, to try to write out
what I know about loggin'--"
"Hold on!" cried Bartley, whipping out his notebook. "That's first-rate.
That'll do for the first line in the head,--_What I Know About
Logging_,--large caps. Well!"
Kinney shut his magazine, and took his knee between his hands, closing one
of his eyes in order to sharpen his recollection. He poured forth a stream
of reminiscence, mingled observation, and personal experience. Bartley
followed him with his pencil, jotting down points, striking in sub-head
lines, and now and then interrupting him with cries of "Good!" "Capital!"
"It's a perfect mine,--it's a mint! By Jove!" he exclaimed, "I'll make
_six_ columns of this! I'll offer it to one of the magazines, and it'll
come out illustrated! Go on, Kinney."
"Hark!" said Kinney, craning his neck forward to listen. "I thought I heard
sleigh-bells. But I guess it wa'n't. Well, sir, as I was sayin', they
fetched that fellow into camp with both feet frozen to the knees--Dumn 'f
it _wa'n't_ bells!"
He unlimbered himself, and hurried to the door at the other end of the
cabin, which he opened, letting in a clear block of the afternoon sunshine,
and a gush of sleigh-bell music, shot with men's voices, and the cries and
laughter of women.
"Well, sir," said Kinney, coming back and making haste to roll down his
sleeves and put on his coat. "_Here's_ a nuisance! A whole party of
folks--two sleigh-loads--right _on_ us. I don't know who they _be_, or
where they're from. But I know where I wish they _was_. Well, of course,
it's natural they should want to see a loggin'-camp," added Kinney, taking
himself to task for his inhospitable mind, "and there ain't any harm in it.
But I wish they'd give a fellow a _little_ notice!"
The voices and bells drew nearer, but Kinney seemed resolved to observe the
decorum of not going to the door till some one knocked.
"Kinney! Kinney! Hello, Kinney!" shouted a man's voice, as the bells hushed
before the door, and broke into a musical clash when one of the horses
tossed his head.
"Well, sir," said Kinney, rising, "I guess it's old Willett himself. He's
the owner; lives up to Portland, and been threatening to come down here all
winter, with a party of friends. You just stay still," he added; and he
paid himself the deference which every true American owes himself in his
dealings with his employer: he went to the door very deliberately, and made
no haste on account of the repeated cries of "Kinney! Kinney!" in which
others of the party outside now joined.
When he opened the door again, the first voice saluted him with a roar of
laughter. "Why, Kinney, I began to think you were dead!"
"No, sir," Bartley heard Kinney reply, "it takes more to kill me than you
suppose." But now he stepped outside, and the talk became unintelligible.
Finally Bartley heard what was imaginably Mr. Willett's voice saying,
"Well, let's go in and have a look at it now"; and with much outcry and
laughter the ladies were invisibly helped to dismount, and presently the
whole party came stamping and rustling in.
Bartley's blood tingled. He liked this, and he stood quite self-possessed,
with his thumbs in his waistcoat pockets and his elbows dropped, while Mr.
Willett advanced in a friendly way.
"Ah, Mr. Hubbard! Kinney told us you were in here, and asked me to
introduce myself while he looked after the horses. My name's Willett. These
are my daughters; this is Mrs. Macallister, of Montreal; Mrs. Witherby, of
Boston; Miss Witherby, and Mr. Witherby. _You_ ought to know each other;
Mr. Hubbard is the editor of the Equity Free Press. Mr. Witherby, of The
Boston Events, Mr. Hubbard. Oh, and _Mr._ Macallister."
Bartley bowed to the Willett and Witherby ladies, and shook hands with Mr.
Witherby, a large, solemn man, with a purse-mouth and tight rings of white
hair, who treated him with the pomp inevitable to the owner of a city
newspaper in meeting a country editor.
At the mention of his name, Mr. Macallister, a slight little straight man,
in a long ulster and a sealskin cap, tiddled farcically forward on his
toes, and, giving Bartley his hand, said, "Ah, haow d'e-do, _haow_ d'e-do!"
Mrs. Macallister fixed upon him the eye of the flirt who knows her man. She
was of the dark-eyed English type; her eyes were very large and full, and
her smooth black hair was drawn flatly backward, and fastened in a knot
just under her dashing fur cap. She wore a fur sack, and she was equipped
against the cold as exquisitely as her Southern sisters defend themselves
from the summer. Bits of warm color, in ribbon and scarf, flashed out here
and there; when she flung open her sack, she showed herself much more
lavishly buttoned and bugled and bangled than the Americans. She sat clown
on the movable bench which Bartley had vacated, and crossed her feet, very
small and saucy, even in their arctics, on a stick of fire-wood, and cast
up her neat profile, and rapidly made eyes at every part of the interior.
"Why, it's delicious, you know. I never saw anything so comfortable. I want
to spend the rest of me life here, you know." She spoke very far down in
her throat, and with a rising inflection in each sentence. "I'm going to
have a quarrel with you, Mr. Willett, for not telling me what a delightful
surprise you had for us here. Oh, but I'd no idea of it, I assure you!"
"Well, I'm glad you like it, Mrs. Macallister," said Mr. Willett, with the
clumsiness of American middle-age when summoned to say something gallant.
"If I'd told you what a surprise I had for you, it wouldn't have been one."
"Oh, it's no good your trying to get out of it _that_ way," retorted the
beauty. "There he comes now! I'm really in love with him, you know," she
said, as Kinney opened the door and came hulking forward.
Nobody said anything at once, but Bartley laughed finally, and ventured,
"Well, I'll propose for you to Kinney."
"Oh, I dare say!" cried the beauty, with a lively effort of wit. "Mr.
Kinney, I have fallen in love with your camp, d' ye know?" she added, as
Kinney drew near, "and I'm beggin' Mr. Willett to let me come and live here
"Well, ma'am," said Kinney, a little abashed at this proposition, "you
couldn't do a better thing for your health, I _guess_."
The proprietor of The Boston Events turned about, and began to look
over the arrangements of the interior; the other ladies went with him,
conversing, in low tones. "These must be the places where the men sleep,"
they said, gazing at the bunks.
"We must get Kinney to explain things to us," said Mr. Willett a little
Mrs. Macallister jumped briskly to her feet. "Oh, yes, do, Mr. Willett,
make him explain everything! I've been tryin' to coax it out of him, but
he's _such_ a tease!"
Kinney looked very sheepish in this character, and Mrs. Macallister hooked
Bartley to her side for the tour of the interior. "I can't let you away
from me, Mr. Hubbard; your friend's so satirical, I'm afraid of him. Only
fancy, Mr. Willett! He's been talkin' to _me_ about brain foods! I know
he's makin' fun of me; and it isn't kind, is it, Mr. Hubbard?"
She did not give the least notice to the things that the others looked at,
or to Kinney's modest lecture upon the manners and customs of the loggers.
She kept a little apart with Bartley, and plied him with bravadoes, with
pouts, with little cries of suspense. In the midst of this he heard Mr.
Willett saying, "You ought to get some one to come and write about this for
your paper, Witherby." But Mrs. Macallister was also saying something,
with a significant turn of her floating eyes, and the thing that concerned
Bartley, if he were to make his way among the newspapers in Boston, slipped
from his grasp like the idea which we try to seize in a dream. She made
sure of him for the drive to the place which they visited to see the men
felling the trees, by inviting him to a seat at her side in the sleigh;
this crowded the others, but she insisted, and they all gave way, as people
must, to the caprices of a pretty woman. Her coquetries united British
wilfulness to American nonchalance, and seemed to have been graduated
to the appreciation of garrison and St. Lawrence River steamboat and
watering-place society. The Willett ladies had already found it necessary
to explain to the Witherby ladies that they had met her the summer before
at the sea-side, and that she had stopped at Portland on her way to
England; they did not know her very well, but some friends of theirs did;
and their father had asked her to come with them to the camp. They added
that the Canadian ladies seemed to expect the gentlemen to be a great deal
more attentive than ours were. They had known as little what to do with Mr.
Macallister's small-talk and compliments as his wife's audacities, but they
did not view Bartley's responsiveness with pleasure. If Mrs. Macallister's
arts were not subtle, as Bartley even in the intoxication of her preference
could not keep from seeing, still, in his mood, it was consoling to
be singled out by her; it meant that even in a logging-camp he was
recognizable by any person of fashion as a good-looking, well-dressed man
of the world. It embittered him the more against Marcia, while, in some
sort, it vindicated him to himself.
The early winter sunset was beginning to tinge the snow with crimson, when
the party started back to camp, where Kinney was to give them supper; he
had it greatly on his conscience that they should have a good time, and he
promoted it as far as hot mince-pie and newly fried doughnuts would go. He
also opened a few canned goods, as he called some very exclusive sardines
and peaches, and he made an entirely fresh pot of tea, and a pan of
soda-biscuit. Mrs. Macallister made remarks across her plate which were
for Bartley alone; and Kinney, who was seriously waiting upon his guests,
refused to respond to Bartley's joking reference to himself of some
questions and comments of hers.
After supper, when the loggers had withdrawn to the other end of the long
hut, she called out to Kinney, "Oh, _do_ tell them to smoke: we shall not
mind it at all, I assure you. Can't some of them do something? Sing or
Kinney unbent a little at this. "There's a first-class clog-dancer among
them; but he's a little stuck up, and I don't know as you could get him to
dance," he said in a low tone.
"What a bloated aristocrat!" cried the lady. "Then the only thing is for us
to dance first. Can they play?"
"One of 'em can whistle like a bird,--he can whistle like a whole band,"
answered Kinney, warming. "And of course the Kanucks can fiddle."
"And what are Kanucks? Is _that_ what you call us Canadians?"
"Well, ma'am, it aint quite the thing to do," said Kinney, penitently.
"It isn't at _all_ the thing to do! Which are the Kanucks?"
She rose, and went forward with Kinney, in her spoiled way, and addressed
a swarthy, gleaming-eyed young logger in French. He answered with a smile
that showed all his white teeth, and turned to one of his comrades; then
the two rose, and got violins out of the bunks, and came forward. Others of
their race joined them, but the Yankees hung gloomily back; they clearly
did not like these liberties, this patronage.
"I shall have your clog-dancer on his feet yet, Mr. Kinney," said Mrs.
Macallister, as she came back to her place.
The Canadians began to play and sing those gay, gay airs of old France
which they have kept unsaddened through all the dark events that have
changed the popular mood of the mother country; they have matched words
to them in celebration of their life on the great rivers and in the vast
forests of the North, and in these blithe barcaroles and hunting-songs
breathes the joyous spirit of a France that knows neither doubt nor
care,--France untouched by Revolution or Napoleonic wars; some of the airs
still keep the very words that came over seas with them two hundred years
ago. The transition to the dance was quick and inevitable; a dozen slim
young fellows were gliding about behind the players, pounding the hard
earthen floor, and singing in time.
"Oh, come, come!" cried the beauty, rising and stamping impatiently with
her little foot, "suppose we dance, too."
She pulled Bartley forward by the hand; her husband followed with the
taller Miss Willett; two of the Canadians, at the instance of Mrs.
Macallister, came forward and politely asked the honor of the other young
ladies' hands in the dance; their temper was infectious, and the cotillon
was in full life before their partners had time to wonder at their consent.
Mrs. Macallister could sing some of the Canadian songs; her voice, clear
and fresh, rang through those of the men, while in at the window, thrown
open for air, came the wild cries of the forest,--the wail of a catamount,
and the solemn hooting of a distant owl.
"Isn't it jolly good fun?" she demanded, when the figure was finished; and
now Kinney went up to the first-class clog-dancer, and prevailed with him
to show his skill. He seemed to comply on condition that the whistler
should furnish the music; he came forward with a bashful hauteur, bridling
stiffly like a girl, and struck into the laborious and monotonous jig which
is, perhaps, our national dance. He was exquisitely shaped, and as he
danced he suppled more and more, while the whistler warbled a wilder and
swifter strain, and kept time with his hands. There was something that
stirred the blood in the fury of the strain and dance. When it was done,
Mrs. Macallister caught off her cap and ran round among the spectators
to make them pay; she excused no one, and she gave the money to Kinney,
telling him to get his loggers something to keep the cold out.
"I should say whiskey, if I were in the Canadian bush," she suggested.
"Well, _I_ guess we sha'n't say anything of that sort in _this_ camp," said
She turned upon Bartley, "I know Mr. Hubbard is dying to do something.
Do something, Mr. Hubbard!" Bartley looked up in surprise at this
interpretation of his tacit wish to distinguish himself before her. "Come,
sing us some of your student songs."
Bartley's vanity had confided the fact of his college training to her,
and he was really thinking just then that he would like to give them a
serio-comic song, for which he had been famous with his class. He borrowed
the violin of a Kanuck, and, sitting down, strummed upon it banjo-wise. The
song was one of those which is partly spoken and acted; he really did it
very well; but the Willett and Witherby ladies did not seem to understand
it quite; and the gentlemen looked as if they thought this very undignified
business for an educated American.
Mrs. Macallister feigned a yawn, and put up her hand to hide it. "_Oh_,
what a styupid song!" she said. She sprang to her feet, and began to put
on her wraps. The others were glad of this signal to go, and followed her
example. "Good by!" she cried, giving her hand to Kinney. "_I_ don't think
your ideas are ridiculous. I think there's no end of good sense in them, I
assure you. I hope you won't leave off that regard for the brain in your
cooking. Good by!" She waved her hand to the Americans, and then to the
Kanucks, as she passed out between their respectfully parted ranks. "Adieu,
messieurs!" She merely nodded to Bartley; the others parted from him
coldly, as he fancied, and it seemed to him that he had been made
responsible for that woman's coquetries, when he was conscious, all the
time, of having forborne even to meet them half-way. But this was not
so much to his credit as he imagined. The flirt can only practise her
audacities safely by grace of those upon whom she uses them, and if men
really met them half-way there could be no such tiling as flirting.
The loggers pulled off their boots and got into their bunks, where some of
them lay and smoked, while others fell asleep directly.
Bartley made some indirect approaches to Kinney for sympathy in the
snub which he had received, and which rankled in his mind with unabated
But Kinney did not respond. "Your bed's ready," he said. "You can turn in
whenever you like."
"What's the matter?" asked Bartley.
"Nothing's the matter, if you say so," answered Kinney, going about some
preparations for the morning's breakfast.
Bartley looked at his resentful back. He saw that he was hurt, and he
surmised that Kinney suspected him of making fun of his eccentricities to
Mrs. Macallister. He _had_ laughed at Kinney, and tried to amuse her with
him; but he could not have made this appear as harmless as it was. He rose
from the bench on which he had been sitting, and shut with a click the
penknife with which he had been cutting a pattern on its edge.
"I shall have to say good night to you, I believe," he said, going to the
peg on which Kinney had hung his hat and overcoat. He had them on, and was
buttoning the coat in an angry tremor before Kinney looked up and realized
what his guest was about.
"Why, what--why, where--you goin'?" he faltered in dismay.
"To Equity," said Bartley, feeling in his coat pockets for his gloves, and
drawing them on, without looking at Kinney, whose great hands were in a pan
"Why--why--no, you aint!" he protested, with a revulsion of feeling that
swept away all his resentment, and left him nothing but remorse for his
"No?" said Bartley, putting up the collar of the first ulster worn by a
native in that region.
"Why, look here!" cried Kinney, pulling his hands out of the dough, and
making a fruitless effort to cleanse them upon each other. "I don't want
you to go, this way."
"Don't you? I'm sorry to disoblige you; but I'm going," said Bartley.
Kinney tried to laugh. "Why, Hubbard,--why, Bartley,--why, Bart!" he
exclaimed. "What's the matter with you? I aint mad!"
"You have an unfortunate manner, then. Good night." He strode out between
the bunks, full of snoring loggers.
Kinney hurried after him, imploring and protesting in a low voice, trying
to get before him, and longing to lay his floury paws upon him and detain
him by main force, but even in his distress respecting Bartley's overcoat
too much to touch it. He followed him out into the freezing air in his
shirt-sleeves, and besought him not to be such a fool. "It makes me feel
like the devil!" he exclaimed, pitifully. "You come back, now, half a
minute, and I'll make it all right with you. I know I can; you're a
gentleman, and you'll understand. _Do_ come back! I shall never get over it
if you don't!"
"I'm sorry," said Bartley, "but I'm not going back. Good night."
"Oh, good Lordy!" lamented Kinney. "What am I goin' to do? Why, man! It's a
good three mile and more to Equity, and the woods is full of catamounts. I
tell ye 't aint safe for ye." He kept following Bartley down the path to
"I'll risk it," said Bartley.
Kinney had left the door of the camp open, and the yells and curses of the
awakened sleepers recalled him to himself. "Well, well! If you will _go_"
he groaned in despair, "here's that money." He plunged his doughy hand into
his pocket, and pulled out a roll of bills. "Here it is. I haint time to
count it; but it'll be all right, anyhow."
Bartley did not even turn his head to look round at him. "Keep your money!"
he said, as he plunged forward through the snow. "I wouldn't touch a cent
of it to save your life."
"All right," said Kinney, in hapless contrition, and he returned to shut
himself in with the reproaches of the loggers and the upbraiding of his own
Bartley dashed along the road in a fury that kept him unconscious of the
intense cold; and he passed half the night, when he was once more in his
own room, packing his effects against his departure next day. When all was
done, he went to bed, half wishing that he might never rise from it again.
It was not that he cared for Kinney; that fool's sulking was only the
climax of a long series of injuries of which he was the victim at the hands
of a hypercritical omnipotence.
Despite his conviction that it was useless to struggle longer against such
injustice, he lived through the night, and came down late to breakfast,
which he found stale, and without the compensating advantage of finding
himself alone at the table. Some ladies had lingered there to clear up on
the best authority the distracting rumors concerning him which they had
heard the day before. Was it true that he had intended to spend the rest of
the winter in logging? and _was_ it true that he was going to give up the
Free Press? and was it _true_ that Henry Bird was going to be the editor?
Bartley gave a sarcastic confirmation to all these reports, and went out to
the printing-office to gather up some things of his. He found Henry Bird
there, looking pale and sick, but at work, and seemingly in authority. This
was what Bartley had always intended when he should go out, but he did not
like it, and he resented some small changes that had already been made in
the editor's room, in tacit recognition of his purpose not to occupy it
Bird greeted him stiffly; the printer girls briefly nodded to him,
suppressing some little hysterical titters, and tacitly let him feel that
he was no longer master there. While he was in the composing-room Hannah
Morrison came in, apparently from some errand outside, and, catching sight
of him, stared, and pertly passed him in silence. On his inkstand he found
a letter from Squire Gaylord, briefly auditing his last account, and
enclosing the balance due him. From this the old lawyer, with the careful
smallness of a village business man, had deducted various little sums for
things which Bartley had never expected to pay for. With a like thriftiness
the landlord, when Bartley asked for his bill, had charged certain items
that had not appeared in the bills before. Bartley felt that the charges
were trumped up; but he was powerless to dispute them; besides, he hoped
to sell the landlord his colt and cutter, and he did not care to prejudice
that matter. Some bills from storekeepers, which he thought he had paid,
were handed to him by the landlord, and each of the churches had sent in
a little account for pew-rent for the past eighteen months: he had always
believed himself dead-headed at church. He outlawed the latter by tearing
them to pieces in the landlord's presence, and dropping the fragments into
a spittoon. It seemed to him that every soul in Equity was making a clutch
at the rapidly diminishing sum of money which Squire Gaylord had enclosed
to him, and which was all he had in the world. On the other hand, his
popularity in the village seemed to have vanished over night. He had
sometimes fancied a general and rebellious grief when it should become
known that he was going away; but instead there was an acquiescence
amounting to airiness.
He wondered if anything about his affairs with Henry Bird and Hannah
Morrison had leaked out. But he did not care. He only wished to shake the
snow of Equity off his feet as soon as possible.
After dinner, when the boarders had gone out, and the loafers had not yet
gathered in, he offered the landlord his colt and cutter. Bartley knew that
the landlord wanted the colt; but now the latter said, "I don't know as I
care to buy any horses, right in the winter, this way."
"All right," answered Bartley. "Just have the colt put into the cutter."
Andy Morrison brought it round. The boy looked at Bartley's set face with
a sort of awe-stricken affection; his adoration for the young man survived
all that he had heard said against him at home during the series of family
quarrels that had ensued upon his father's interview with him; he longed to
testify, somehow, his unabated loyalty, but he could not think of anything
to do, much less to say.
Bartley pitched his valise into the cutter, and then, as Andy left the
horse's head to give him a hand with his trunk, offered him a dollar. "I
don't want anything," said the boy, shyly refusing the money out of pure
But Bartley mistook his motive, and thought it sulky resentment. "Oh, very
well," he said. "Take hold."
The landlord came out. "Hold on a minute," he said. "Where you goin' to
take the cars?"
"At the Junction," answered Bartley. "I know a man there that will buy the
colt. What is it you want?"
The landlord stepped back a few paces, and surveyed the establishment. "I
should like to ride after that hoss," he said, "if you aint in any great of
"Get in," said Bartley, and the landlord took the reins.
From time to time, as he drove, he rose up and looked over the dashboard to
study the gait of the horse. "I've noticed he strikes some, when he first
comes out in the spring."
"Yes," Bartley assented.
The landlord rose again and scrutinized the horse's legs. "I don't know as
I ever noticed 't he'd capped his hock before."
"Done it kickin' nights, I guess."
"I guess so."
The landlord drew the whip lightly across the colt's rear; he shrank
together, and made a little spring forward, but behaved perfectly well.
"I don't know as I should always be sure he wouldn't kick in the daytime."
"No," said Bartley, "you never can be sure of anything."
They drove along in silence. At last the landlord said, "Well, he aint so
fast as I _supposed_."
"He's not so fast a horse as some," answered Bartley.
The landlord leaned over sidewise for an inspection of the colt's action
forward. "Haint never thought he had a splint on that forward off leg?"
"A splint? Perhaps he has a splint."
They returned to the hotel and both alighted.
"Skittish devil," remarked the landlord, as the colt quivered under the
hand he laid upon him.
"He's skittish," said Bartley.
The landlord retired as far back as the door, and regarded the colt
critically. "Well, I s'pose you've always used him too well ever to winded
him, but dumn 'f he don't _blow_ like it."
"Look here, Simpson," said Bartley, very quietly. "You know this horse as
well as I do, and you know there isn't an out about him. You want to buy
him because you always have. Now make me an offer."
"Well," groaned the landlord, "what'll you take for the whole rig, just as
it stands,--colt, cutter, leathers, and robe?"
"Two hundred dollars," promptly replied Bartley.
"I'll give ye seventy-five," returned the landlord with equal promptness.
"Andy, take hold of the end of that trunk, will you?"
The landlord allowed them to put the trunk into the cutter. Bartley got in
too, and, shifting the baggage to one side, folded the robe around him from
his middle down and took his seat. "This colt can road you right along all
day inside of five minutes, and he can trot inside of two-thirty every
time; and you know it as well as I do."
"Well," said the landlord, "make it an even hundred."
Bartley leaned forward and gathered up the reins, "Let go his head, Andy,"
he quietly commanded.
"Make it one and a quarter," cried the landlord, not seeing that his chance
was past. "What do you say?"
What Bartley said, as he touched the colt with the whip, the landlord never
knew. He stood watching the cutter's swift disappearance up the road, in a
sort of stupid expectation of its return. When he realized that Bartley's
departure was final, he said under his breath, "Sold, ye dumned old fool,
and serve ye right," and went in-doors with a feeling of admiration! for
colt and man that bordered on reverence.
This last drop of the local meanness filled Bartley's bitter cup. As he
passed the house at the end of the street he seemed to drain it all. He
knew that the old lawyer was there sitting by the office stove, drawing his
hand across his chin, and Bartley hoped that he was still as miserable as
he had looked when he last saw him; but he did not know that by the window
in the house, which he would not even look at, Marcia sat self-prisoned in
her room, with her eyes upon the road, famishing for the thousandth part of
a chance to see him pass. She saw him now for the instant of his coming and
going. With eyes trained to take in every point, she saw the preparation
which seemed like final departure, and with a gasp of "Bartley!" as if she
were trying to call after him, she sank back into her chair and shut her
He drove on, plunging into the deep hollow beyond the house, and keeping
for several miles the road they had taken on that Sunday together; but he
did not make the turn that brought them back to the village again. The pale
sunset was slanting over the snow when he reached the Junction, for he
had slackened his colt's pace after he had put ten miles behind him, not
choosing to reach a prospective purchaser with his horse all blown and
bathed with sweat. He wished to be able to say, "Look at him! He's come
fifteen miles since three o'clock, and he's as keen as when he started."
This was true, when, having left his baggage at the Junction, he drove
another mile into the country to see the farmer of the gentleman who had
his summer-house here, and who had once bantered Bartley to sell him his
colt. The farmer was away, and would not be at home till the up-train from
Boston was in. Bartley looked at his watch, and saw that to wait would
lose him the six o'clock down-train. There would be no other till eleven
o'clock. But it was worth while: the gentleman had said, "When you want the
money for that colt, bring him over any time; my farmer will have it ready
for you." He waited for the up-train; but when the farmer arrived, he was
full of all sorts of scruples and reluctances. He said he should not like
to buy it till he had heard from Mr. Farnham; he ended by offering Bartley
eighty dollars for the colt on his own account; he did not want the cutter.
"You write to Mr. Farnham," said Bartley, "that you tried that plan with
me, and it wouldn't work, he's lost the colt."
He made this brave show of indifference, but he was disheartened, and,
having carried the farmer home from the Junction for the convenience of
talking over the trade with him, he drove back again through the early
night-fall in sullen desperation.
The weather had softened and was threatening rain or snow; the dark was
closing in spiritlessly; the colt, shortening from a trot into a short,
springy jolt, dropped into a walk at last as if he were tired, and gave
Bartley time enough on his way back to the Junction for reflection upon the
disaster into which his life had fallen. These passages of utter despair
are commoner to the young than they are to those whom years have
experienced in the impermanence of any fate, good, bad, or indifferent,
unless, perhaps, the last may seem rather constant. Taken in reference to
all that had been ten days ago, the present ruin was incredible, and had
nothing reasonable in proof of its existence. Then he was prosperously
placed, and in the way to better himself indefinitely. Now, he was here in
the dark, with fifteen dollars in his pocket, and an unsalable horse on his
hands; outcast, deserted, homeless, hopeless: and by whose fault? He owned
even then that he had committed some follies; but in his sense of Marcia's
all-giving love he had risen for once in his life to a conception of
self-devotion, and in taking herself from him as she did, she had taken
from him the highest incentive he had ever known, and had checked him in
his first feeble impulse to do and be all in all for another. It was she
who had ruined him.
As he jumped out of the cutter at the Junction the station-master stopped
with a cluster of party-colored signal-lanterns in his hand and cast their
light over the sorrel.
"Nice colt you got there."
"Yes," said Bartley, blanketing the horse, "do you know anybody who wants
"Whose is he?" asked the man.
"He's mine!" shouted Bartley. "Do you think I stole him?"
"I don't know where you got him," said the man, walking off, and making a
soft play of red and green lights on the snow beyond the narrow platform.
Bartley went into the great ugly barn of a station, trembling, and sat down
in one of the gouged and whittled arm-chairs near the stove. A pomp of
timetables and luminous advertisements of Western railroads and their
land-grants decorated the wooden walls of the gentlemen's waiting-room,
which had been sanded to keep the gentlemen from writing and sketching upon
them. This was the more judicious because the ladies' room, in the absence
of tourist travel, was locked in winter, and they were obliged to share the
gentlemen's. In summer, the Junction was a busy place, but after the snow
fell, and until the snow thawed, it was a desolation relieved only by the
arrival of the sparsely peopled through-trains from the north and east, and
by such local travellers as wished to take trains not stopping at their own
stations. These broke in upon the solitude of the joint station-master and
baggage-man and switch-tender with just sufficient frequency to keep him
in a state of uncharitable irritation and unrest. To-night Bartley was the
sole intruder, and he sat by the stove wrapped in a cloud of rebellious
memories, when one side of a colloquy without made itself heard.
Some question was repeated.
"No; it went down half an hour ago."
An inaudible question followed.
"Next down-train at eleven."
There was now a faintly audible lament or appeal.
"Guess you'll have to come earlier next time. Most folks doos that wants to
Bartley now heard the despairing moan of a woman: he had already divined
the sex of the futile questioner whom the station-master was bullying; but
he had divined it without compassion, and if he had not himself been a
sufferer from the man's insolence he might even have felt a ferocious
satisfaction in it. In a word, he was at his lowest and worst when the
door opened and the woman came in, with a movement at once bewildered and
daring, which gave him the impression of a despair as complete and final as
his own. He doggedly kept his place; she did not seem to care for him, but
in the uncertain light of the lamp above them she drew near the stove, and,
putting one hand to her pocket as if to find her handkerchief, she flung
aside her veil with her other, and showed her tear stained face.
He was on his feet somehow. "Marcia!"
He had seized her by the arm to make sure that she was there in verity of
flesh and blood, and not by some trick of his own senses, as a cold chill
running over him had made him afraid. At the touch their passion ignored
all that they had made each other suffer; her head was on his breast, his
embrace was round her; it was a moment of delirious bliss that intervened
between the sorrows that had been and the reasons that must come.
"What--what are you doing here, Marcia?" he asked at last.
They sank on the benching that ran round the wall; he held her hands fast
in one of his, and kept his other arm about her as they sat side by side.
"I don't know--I--" She seemed to rouse herself by an effort from her
rapture. "I was going to see Nettie Spaulding. And I saw you driving past
our house; and I thought you were coming here; and I couldn't bear--I
couldn't bear to let you go away without telling you that I was wrong; and
asking--asking you to forgive me. I thought you would do it,--I thought you
would know that I had behaved that way because I--I--cared so much for you.
I thought--I was afraid you had gone on the other train--" She trembled and
sank back in his embrace, from which she had lifted herself a little.
"How did you get here?" asked Bartley, as if willing to give himself all
the proofs he could of the every-day reality of her presence.
"Andy Morrison brought me. Father sent him from the hotel. I didn't care
what you would say to me, I wanted to tell you that I was wrong, and not
let you go away feeling that--that--you were all to blame. I thought when
I had done that you might drive me away,--or laugh at me, or anything you
pleased, if only you would let me take back--"
"Yes," he answered dreamily. All that wicked hardness was breaking up
within him; he felt it melting drop by drop in his heart. This poor
love-tossed soul, this frantic, unguided, reckless girl, was an angel of
mercy to him, and in her folly and error a messenger of heavenly peace and
hope. "I am a bad fellow, Marcia," he faltered. "You ought to know" that.
You did right to give me up. I made love to Hannah Morrison; I never
promised to marry her, but I made her think that I was fond of her."
"I don't care for that," replied the girl. "I told you when we were first
engaged that I would never think of anything that had gone before that;
and then when I would not listen to a word from you, that day, I broke my
"When I struck Henry Bird because he was jealous of me, I was as guilty as
if I had killed him."
"If you had killed him, I was bound to you by my word. Your striking him
was part of the same thing,--part of what I had promised I never would
care for." A gush of tears came into his eyes, and she saw them. "Oh, poor
Bartley! Poor Bartley!"
She took his head between her hands and pressed it hard against her heart,
and then wrapped her arms tight about him, and softly bemoaned him.
They drew a little apart when the man came in with his lantern, and set it
down to mend the fire. But as a railroad employee he was far too familiar
with the love that vaunts itself on all railroad trains to feel that he was
an intruder. He scarcely looked at them, and went out when he had mended
the fire, and left it purring.
"Where is Andy Morrison?" asked Bartley. "Has he gone back?"
"No; he is at the hotel over there. I told him to wait till I found out
when the train went north."
"So you inquired when it went to Boston," said Bartley, with a touch of his
old raillery. "Come," he added, taking her hand under his arm. He led her
out of the room, to where his cutter stood outside. She was astonished to
find the colt there.
"I wonder I didn't see it. But if I had, I should have thought that you had
sold it and gone away; Andy told me you were coming here to sell the colt.
When the man told me the express was gone, I knew you were on it."
They found the boy stolidly waiting for Marcia on the veranda of the hotel,
stamping first upon one foot and then the other, and hugging himself in his
great-coat as the coming snow-fall blew its first flakes in his face.
"Is that you, Andy?" asked Bartley.
"Yes, sir," answered the boy, without surprise at finding him with Marcia.
"Well, here! Just take hold of the colt's head a minute."
As the boy obeyed, Bartley threw the reins on the dashboard, and leaped out
of the cutter, and went within. He returned after a brief absence, followed
by the landlord.
"Well, it ain't more 'n a mile 'n a half, if it's that. You just keep
straight along this street, and take your first turn to the left, and
you're right at the house; it's the first house on the left-hand side."
"Thanks," returned Bartley. "Andy, you tell the Squire that you left Marcia
with me, and I said I would see about her getting back. You needn't hurry."
"All right," said the boy, and he disappeared round the corner of the house
to get his horse from the barn.
"Well, I'll be all ready by the time you're here," said the landlord, still
holding the hall-door ajar, "Luck _to_ you!" he shouted, shutting it.
Marcia locked both her hands through Bartley's arm, and leaned her head on
his shoulder. Neither spoke for some minutes; then he asked, "Marcia, do
you know where you are?"
"With you," she answered, in a voice of utter peace.
"Do you know where we are going?" he asked, leaning over to kiss her cold,
"No," she answered in as perfect content as before.
"We are going to get married."
He felt her grow tense in her clasp upon his arm, and hold there rigidly
for a moment, while the swift thoughts whirled through her mind. Then, as
if the struggle had ended, she silently relaxed, and leaned more heavily
"There's still time to go back, Marcia," he said, "if you wish. That turn
to the right, yonder, will take us to Equity, and you can be at home in two
hours." She quivered. "I'm a poor man,--I suppose you know that; I've only
got fifteen dollars in the world, and the colt here. I know I can get on;
I'm not afraid for myself; but if you would rather wait,--if you're not
perfectly certain of yourself,--remember, it's going to be a struggle;
we're going to have some hard times--"
"You forgive me?" she huskily asked, for all answer, without moving her
head from where it lay.
The minister was an old man, and he seemed quite dazed at the suddenness
of their demand for his services. But he gathered himself together,
and contrived to make them man and wife, and to give them his marriage
"It seems as if there were something else," he said, absently, as he handed
the paper to Bartley.
"Perhaps it's this," said Bartley, giving him a five-dollar note in return.
"Ah, perhaps," he replied, in unabated perplexity. He bade them serve God,
and let them out into the snowy night, through which they drove back to the
The landlord had kindled a fire on the hearth of the Franklin stove in his
parlor, and the blazing hickory snapped in electrical sympathy with the
storm when they shut themselves into the bright room, and Bartley took
Marcia fondly into his arms.
They sat down before the fire, hand in hand, and talked of the light things
that swim to the top, and eddy round and round on the surface of our
deepest moods. They made merry over the old minister's perturbation, which
Bartley found endlessly amusing. Then he noticed that the dress Marcia had
on was the one she had worn to the sociable in Lower Equity, and she said,
yes, she had put it on because he once said he liked it. He asked her when,
and she said, oh, she knew; but if he could not remember, she was not going
to tell him. Then she wanted to know if he recognized her by the dress
before she lifted her veil in the station.
"No," he said, with a teasing laugh. "I wasn't thinking of you."
"Oh, Bartley!" she joyfully reproached him. "You must have been!"
"Yes, I was! I was so mad at you, that I was glad to have that brute of a
station-master bullying _some_ woman!"
He sat holding her hand. "Marcia," he said, gravely, "we must write to your
father at once, and tell him. I want to begin life in the right way, and I
think it's only fair to him."
She was enraptured at his magnanimity. "Bartley! That's _like_ you! Poor
father! I declare--Bartley, I'm afraid I had forgotten him! It's dreadful;
but--_you_ put everything else out of my head. I do believe I've died and
come to life somewhere else!"
"Well, _I_ haven't," said Bartley, "and I guess you'd better write to your
father. _You'd_ better write; at present, he and I are not on speaking
terms. Here!" He took out his note-book, and gave her his stylographic pen
after striking the fist that held it upon his other fist, in the fashion of
the amateurs of that reluctant instrument, in order to bring down the ink.
"Oh, what's that?" she asked.
"It's a new kind of pen. I got it for a notice in the Free Press."
"Is Henry Bird going to edit the paper?"
"I don't know, and I don't care," answered Bartley.
"I'll go out and get an envelope, and ask the landlord what's the quickest
way to get the letter to your father."
He took up his hat, but she laid her hand on his arm. "Oh, send for him!"
"Are you afraid I sha'n't come back?" he demanded, with a laughing kiss. "I
want to see him about something else, too."
"Well, don't be gone long."
They parted with an embrace that would have fortified older married people
for a year's separation. When Bartley came back, she handed him the leaf
she had torn out of his book, and sat down beside him while he read it,
with her arm over his shoulder.
"Dear father," the letter ran, "Bartley and I are married. We were married
an hour ago, just across the New Hampshire line, by the Rev. Mr. Jessup.
Bartley wants I should let you know the very first thing. I am going to
Boston with Bartley to-night, and, as soon as we get settled there, I will
write again. I want you should forgive us both; but if you wont forgive
Bartley, you mustn't forgive me. You were mistaken about Bartley, and I was
right. Bartley has told me everything, and I am perfectly satisfied. Love
"P.S.--I _did_ intend to visit Netty Spaulding. But I saw Bartley driving
past on his way to the Junction, and I determined to see him if I could
before he started for Boston, and tell him I was all wrong, no matter what
he said or did afterwards. I ought to have told you I meant to see Bartley;
but then you would not have let me come, and if I had not come, I should
"There's a good deal of Bartley in it," said the young man with a laugh.
"You don't like it!"
"Yes, I do; it's all right. Did you use to take the prize for composition
"Why, I think it's a very good letter for when I'm in such an excited
"It's beautiful!" cried Bartley, laughing more and more. The tears started
to her eyes.
"Marcia," said her husband fondly, "what a child you are! If ever I do
anything to betray your trust in me--"
There came a shuffling of feet outside the door, a clinking of glass and
crockery, and a jarring sort of blow, as if some one were trying to rap on
the panel with the edge of a heavy-laden waiter. Bartley threw the door
open and found the landlord there, red and smiling, with the waiter in his
"I thought I'd bring your supper in here, you know," he explained
confidentially, "so 's't you could have it a little more snug. And my wife
she kind o' got wind o' what was going on,--women will, you know," he said
with a wink,--"and she's sent ye in some hot biscuit and a little jell, and
some of her cake." He set the waiter down on the table, and stood admiring
its mystery of napkined dishes. "She guessed you wouldn't object to some
cold chicken, and she's put a little of that on. Sha'n't cost ye any more,"
he hastened to assure them. "Now this is your room till the train comes,
and there aint agoin' to anybody come in here. So you can make yourselves
at home. And _I_ hope you'll enjoy your supper as much as we did ourn the
night _we_ was married. There! I guess I'll let the lady fix the table; she
looks as if she knowed how."
He got himself out of the room again, and then Marcia, who had made him
some embarrassed thanks, burst out in praise of his pleasantness.
"Well, he ought to be pleasant," said Bartley, "he's just beaten me on a
horse-trade. I've sold him the colt."
"Sold him the colt!" cried Marcia, tragically dropping the napkin she had
lifted from the plate of cold chicken.
"Well, we couldn't very well have taken him to Boston with us. And we
couldn't have got there without selling him. You know you haven't married a
"How much did you get for the colt?"
"Oh, I didn't do so badly. I got a hundred and fifty for him."
"And you had fifteen besides."
"That was before we were married. I gave the minister five for you,--I
think you are worth it, I wanted to give fifteen."
"Well, then, you have a hundred and sixty now. Isn't that a great deal?"
"An everlasting lot," said Bartley, with an impatient laugh. "Don't let the
supper cool, Marcia!"
She silently set out the feast, but regarded it ruefully. "You oughtn't to
have ordered so much, Bartley," she said. "You couldn't afford it."
"I can afford anything when I'm hungry. Besides. I only ordered the oysters
and coffee; all the rest is conscience money--or sentiment--from the
landlord. Come, come! cheer up, now! We sha'n't starve to-night, anyhow."
"Well, I know father will help us."
"We sha'n't count on him," said Bartley. "Now _drop_ it!" He put his arm
round her shoulders and pressed her against him, till she raised her face
for his kiss.
"Well, I _will!"_ she said, and the shadow lifted itself from their wedding
feast, and they sat down and made merry as if they had all the money in the
world to spend. They laughed and joked; they praised the things they liked,
and made fun of the others.
"How strange! How perfectly impossible it all seems! Why, last night I was
taking supper at Kinney's logging-camp, and hating you at every mouthful
with all my might. Everything seemed against me, and I was feeling ugly,
and flirting like mad with a fool from Montreal: she had come out there
from Portland for a frolic with the owners' party. You made me do it,
Marcia!" he cried jestingly. "And remember that, if you want me to be good,
you must be kind. The other thing seems to make me worse and worse."
"I will,--I will, Bartley." she said humbly. "I will try to be kind and
patient with you. I will indeed."
He threw back his head, and laughed and laughed. "Poor--poor old Kinney!
He's the cook, you know, and he thought I'd been making fun of him to that
woman, and he behaved so, after they were gone, that I started home in a
rage; and he followed me out with his hands all covered with dough, and
wanted to stop me, but he couldn't for fear of spoiling my clothes--" He
lost himself in another paroxysm.
Marcia smiled a little. Then, "What sort of a looking person was she?" she
Bartley stopped abruptly. "Not one ten-thousandth part as good-looking,
nor one millionth part as bright, as Marcia Hubbard!" He caught her and
smothered her against his breast.
"I don't care! I don't care!" she cried. "I was to blame more than you,
if you flirted with her, and it serves me right. Yes, I will never say
anything to you for anything that happened after I behaved so to you."
"There wasn't anything else happened," cried Bartley. "And the Montreal
woman snubbed me soundly before she was done with me."
"Snubbed you!" exclaimed Marcia, with illogical indignation. This delighted
Bartley so much that it was long before he left off laughing over her.
Then they sat down, and were silent till she said, "And did you leave him
in a temper?"
"Who? Kinney? In a perfect devil of a temper. I wouldn't even borrow some
money he wanted to lend me."
"Write to him, Bartley," said his wife, seriously. "I love you so I can't
bear to have anybody bad friends with you."
The whole thing was so crazy, as Bartley said, that it made no difference
if they kept up the expense a few days longer. He took a hack from the
depot when they arrived in Boston, and drove to the Revere House, instead
of going up in the horse-car. He entered his name on the register with a
flourish, "Bartley J. Hubbard and Wife, _Boston_," and asked for a room and
fire, with laconic gruffness; but the clerk knew him at once for a country
person, and when the call-boy followed him into the parlor where Marcia
sat, in the tremor into which she fell whenever Bartley was out of her
sight, the call-boy discerned her provinciality at a glance, and made free
to say that he guessed they had better let him take their things up to
their room, and come up themselves after the porter had got their fire
"All right," said Bartley, with hauteur; and he added, for no reason, "Be
quick about it."
"Yes, sir," said the boy.
"What time is supper--dinner, I mean?"
"It's ready now, sir."
"Good. Take up the things. Come just as you are, Marcia. Let him take your
cap,--no, keep it on; a good many of them come down in their bonnets."
Marcia put off her sack and gloves, and hastily repaired the ravages of
travel as best she could. She would have liked to go to her room just long
enough to brush her hair a little, and the fur cap made her head hot; but
she was suddenly afraid of doing something that would seem countrified in
Bartley's eyes, and she promptly obeyed: they had come from Portland in a
parlor car, and she had been able to make a traveller's toilet before they
She had been at Portland several times with her father; but he stopped at a
second-class hotel where he had always "put up" when alone, and she was new
to the vastness of hotel mirrors and chandeliers, the glossy paint, the
frescoing, the fluted pillars, the tessellated marble pavements upon which
she stepped when she left the Brussels carpeting of the parlors. She clung
to Bartley's arm, silently praying that she might not do anything to
mortify him, and admiring everything he did with all her soul. He made a
halt as they entered the glittering dining-room, and stood frowning till
the head-waiter ran respectfully up to them, and ushered them with sweeping
bows to a table, which they had to themselves. Bartley ordered their dinner
with nonchalant ease, beginning with soup and going to black coffee with
dazzling intelligence. While their waiter was gone with their order, he
beckoned with one finger to another, and sent him out for a paper, which he
unfolded and spread on the table, taking a toothpick into his mouth, and
running the sheet over with his eyes. "I just want to see what's going on
to-night," he said, without looking at Marcia.
She made a little murmur of acquiescence in her throat, but she could not
speak for strangeness. She began to steal little timid glances about, and
to notice the people at the other tables. In her heart she did not find the
ladies so very well dressed as she had expected the Boston ladies to be;
and there was no gentleman there to compare with Bartley, either in style
or looks. She let her eyes finally dwell on him, wishing that he would put
his paper away and say something, but afraid to ask, lest it should not be
quite right: all the other gentlemen were reading papers. She was feeling
lonesome and homesick, when he suddenly glanced at her and said, "How
pretty you look, Marsh!"
"Do I?" she asked, with a little grateful throb, while her eyes joyfully
"Pretty as a pink," he returned. "Gay,--isn't it?" he continued, with a
wink that took her into his confidence again, from which his study of the
newspaper had seemed to exclude her. "I'll tell you what I'm going to
do: I'm going to take you to the Museum after dinner, and let you see
Boucicault in the 'Colleen Bawn.'" He swept his paper off the table and
unfolded his napkin in his lap, and, leaning back in his chair, began to
tell her about the play. "We can walk: it's only just round the corner," he
said at the end.
Marcia crept into the shelter of his talk,--he sometimes spoke rather
loud,--and was submissively silent. When they got into their own
room,--which had gilt lambrequin frames, and a chandelier of three burners,
and a marble mantel, and marble-topped table and washstand,--and Bartley
turned up the flaring gas, she quite broke down, and cried on his breast,
to make sure that she had got him all back again.
"Why, Marcia!" he said. "I know just how you feel. Don't you suppose I
understand as well as you do that we're a country couple? But I'm not going
to give myself away; and you mustn't, either. There wasn't a woman in that
room that could compare with you,--_dress_ or looks!"
"You were splendid," she whispered, "and just like the rest! and that made
me feel somehow as if I had lost you."
"I know,--I saw just how you felt; but I wasn't going to say anything for
fear you'd give way right there. Come, there's plenty of time before
the play begins. I call this _nice_! Old-fashioned, rather, in the
decorations," he said, "but pretty good for its time." He had pulled up two
arm-chairs in front of the glowing grate of anthracite; as he spoke, he
cast his eyes about the room, and she followed his glance obediently. He
had kept her hand in his, and now he held her slim finger-tips in the fist
which he rested on his knee. "No; I'll tell you what, Marcia, if you want
to get on in a city, there's no use being afraid of people. No use being
afraid of _anything_, so long as we're good to each other. And you've got
to believe in me right along. Don't you let anything get you on the wrong
track. I believe that as long as you have faith in me, I shall deserve it;
and when you don't--"
"Oh, Bartley, you know I didn't doubt you! I just got to thinking, and I
was a little worked up! I suppose I'm excited."
"I knew it! I knew it!" cried her husband. "Don't you suppose I understand
They talked a long time together, and made each other loving promises of
patience. They confessed their faults, and pledged each other that they
would try hard to overcome them. They wished to be good; they both felt
they had much to retrieve; but they had no concealments, and they knew
that was the best way to begin the future, of which they did their best to
conceive seriously. Bartley told her his plans about getting some newspaper
work till he could complete his law studies. He meant to settle down to
practice in Boston. "You have to wait longer for it than you would in a
country place; but when you get it, it's worth while." He asked Marcia
whether she would look up his friend Halleck if she were in his place; but
he did not give her time to decide. "I guess I won't do it. Not just yet,
at any rate. He might suppose that I wanted something of him. I'll call on
him when I don't need his help."
Perhaps, if they had not planned to go to the theatre, they would have
staid where they were, for they were tired, and it was very cosey. But when
they were once in the street, they were glad they had come out. Bowdoin
Square and Court Street and Tremont Row were a glitter of gas-lights, and
those shops, with their placarded bargains, dazzled Marcia.
"Is it one of the principal streets?" she asked Bartley.
He gave the laugh of a veteran _habitue_ of Boston. "Tremont Row? No. Wait
till I show you Washington Street to-morrow. There's the Museum," he said,
pointing to the long row of globed lights on the facade of the building.
"Here we are in Scollay Square. There's Hanover Street; there's Cornhill;
Court crooks down that way; there's Pemberton Square."
His familiarity with these names estranged him to her again; she clung the
closer to his arm, and caught her breath nervously as they turned in with
the crowd that was climbing the stairs to the box-office of the theatre.
Bartley left her a moment, while he pushed his way up to the little window
and bought the tickets. "First-rate seats," he said, coming back to her,
and taking her hand under his arm again, "and a great piece of luck. They
were just returned for sale by the man in front of me, or I should have had
to take something 'way up in the gallery. There's a regular jam. These are
right in the centre of the parquet."
Marcia did not know what the parquet was; she heard its name with the
certainty that but for Bartley she should not be equal to it. All her
village pride was quelled; she had only enough self-control to act upon
Bartley's instructions not to give herself away by any conviction of
rusticity. They passed in through the long, colonnaded vestibule, with its
paintings, and plaster casts, and rows of birds and animals in glass cases
on either side, and she gave scarcely a glance at any of those objects,
endeared by association, if not by intrinsic beauty, to the Boston
play-goer. Gulliver, with the Liliputians swarming upon him; the
painty-necked ostriches and pelicans; the mummied mermaid under a glass
bell; the governors' portraits; the stuffed elephant; Washington crossing
the Delaware; Cleopatra applying the asp; Sir William Pepperell, at full
length, on canvas; and the pagan months and seasons in plaster,--if all
these are, indeed, the subjects,--were dim phantasmagoria amid which she
and Bartley moved scarcely more real. The usher, in his dress-coat, ran up
the aisle to take their checks, and led them down to their seats; half a
dozen elegant people stood to let them into their places; the theatre was
filled with faces. At Portland, where she saw the "Lady of Lyons," with her
father, three-quarters of the house was empty.
Bartley only had time to lean over and whisper, "The place is packed with
Beacon Street swells,--it's a regular field night,"--when the bell tinkled
and the curtain rose.
As the play went on, the rich jacqueminot-red flamed into her cheeks, and
burnt there a steady blaze to the end. The people about her laughed and
clapped, and at times they seemed to be crying. But Marcia sat through
every part as stoical as a savage, making no sign, except for the flaming
color in her cheeks, of interest or intelligence. Bartley talked of the
play all the way home, but she said nothing, and in their own room he
asked: "Didn't you really like it? Were you disappointed? I haven't been
able to get a word out of you about it. Didn't you like Boucicault?"
"I didn't know which he was," she answered, with impassioned exaltation. "I
didn't care for him. I only thought of that poor girl, and her husband who
She stopped. Bartley looked at her a moment, and then caught her to him and
fell a-laughing over her, till it seemed as if he never would end. "And you
thought--you thought," he cried, trying to get his breath,--"you thought
you were Eily, and I was Hardress Cregan! Oh, I see, I see!" He went on
making a mock and a burlesque of her tragical hallucination till she
laughed with him at last. When he put his hand up to turn out the gas, he
began his joking afresh. "The real thing for Hardress to do," he said,
fumbling for the key, "is to _blow_ it out. That's what Hardress usually
does when he comes up from the rural districts with Eily on their bridal
tour. That finishes off Eily, without troubling Danny Mann. The only
drawback is that it finishes off Hardress, too: they're both found
suffocated in the morning."
The next day, after breakfast, while they stood together before the parlor
fire, Bartley proposed one plan after another for spending the day. Marcia
rejected them all, with perfectly recovered self-composure.
"Then what _shall_ we do?" he asked, at last.
"Oh, I don't know," she answered, rather absently. She added, after an
interval, smoothing the warm front of her dress, and putting her foot on
the fender, "What did those theatre-tickets cost?"
"Two dollars," he replied carelessly. "Why?"
Marcia gasped. "Two dollars! Oh, Bartley, we couldn't afford it!"
"It seems we did."
"And here,--how much are we paying here?"
"That room, with fire," said Bartley, stretching himself, "is seven dollars
"We mustn't stay another instant!" said Marcia, all a woman's terror of
spending money on anything but dress, all a wife's conservative instinct,
rising within her. "How much have you got left?"
Bartley took out his pocket-book and counted over the bills in it. "A
hundred and twenty dollars."
"Why, what has become of it all? We had a hundred and sixty!"
"Well, our railroad tickets were nineteen, the sleeping-car was three, the
parlor-car was three, the theatre was two, the hack was fifty cents, and
we'll have to put down the other two and a half to refreshments."
Marcia listened in dismay. At the end she drew a long breath. "Well, we
must go away from here as soon as possible,--that I know. We'll go out and
find some boarding-place. That's the first thing."
"Oh, now, Marcia, you're not going to be so severe as that, are you?"
pleaded Bartley. "A few dollars, more or less, are not going to keep us out
of the poorhouse. I just want to stay here three days: that will leave us
a clean hundred, and we can start fair." He was half joking, but she was
"No, Bartley! Not another hour,--not another minute! Come!" She took his
arm and bent it up into a crook, where she put her hand, and pulled him
toward the door.
"Well, after all," he said, "it will be some fun looking up a room."
There was no one else in the parlor; in going to the door they took some
waltzing steps together.
While she dressed to go out, he looked up places where rooms were let with
or without board, in the newspaper. "There don't seem to be a great many,"
he said meditatively, bending over the open sheet. But he cut out half a
dozen advertisements with his editorial scissors, and they started upon
They climbed those pleasant old up-hill streets that converge to the State
House, and looked into the houses on the quiet Places that stretch from one
thoroughfare to another. They had decided that they would be content with
two small rooms, one for a chamber, and the other for a parlor, where they
could have a fire. They found exactly what they wanted in the first house
where they applied, one flight up, with sunny windows, looking down the
street; but it made Marcia's blood run cold when the landlady said that
the price was thirty dollars a week. At another place the rooms were only
twenty; the position was as good, and the carpet and furniture prettier.
This was still too dear, but it seemed comparatively reasonable till it
appeared that this was the price without board.
"I think we should prefer rooms with board, shouldn't we?" asked Bartley,
with a sly look at Marcia.
The prices were of all degrees of exorbitance, and they varied for no
reason from house to house; one landlady had been accustomed to take more
and another less, but never little enough for Marcia, who overruled Bartley
again and again when he wished to close with some small abatement of terms.
She declared now that they must put up with one room, and they must not
care what floor it was on. But the cheapest room with board was fourteen
dollars a week, and Marcia had fixed her ideal at ten: even that was too
high for them.
"The best way will be to go back to the Revere House, at seven dollars
a day," said Bartley. He had lately been leaving the transaction of the
business entirely to Marcia, who had rapidly acquired alertness and
decision in it.
She could not respond to his joke. "What is there left?" she asked.
"There isn't anything left," he said. "We've got to the end."
They stood on the edge of the pavement and looked up and down the street,
and then, by a common impulse, they looked at the house opposite, where a
placard in the window advertised, "Apartments to Let--to Gentlemen only."
"It would be of no use asking there," murmured Marcia, in sad abstraction.
"Well, let's go over and try," said her husband. "They can't do more than
turn us out of doors."
"I know it won't be of any use," Marcia sighed, as people do when they
hope to gain something by forbidding themselves hope. But she helplessly
followed, and stood at the foot of the door-steps while he ran up and rang.
It was evidently the woman of the house who came to the door and shrewdly
"I see you have apartments to let," said Bartley.
"Well, yes," admitted the woman, as if she considered it useless to deny
it, "I have."
"I should like to look at them," returned Bartley, with promptness. "Come,
Marcia." And, reinforced by her, he invaded the premises before the
landlady had time to repel him. "I'll tell you what we want," he continued,
turning into the little reception-room at the side of the door, "and if you
haven't got it, there's no need to trouble you. We want a fair-sized room,
anywhere between the cellar-floor and the roof, with a bed and a stove and
a table in it, that sha'n't cost us more than ten dollars a week, with
"Set down," said the landlady, herself setting the example by sinking into
the rocking-chair behind her and beginning to rock while she made a brief
study of the intruders. "Want it for yourselves?"
"Yes," said Bartley.
"Well," returned the landlady, "I always _have_ preferred single
"I inferred as much from a remark which you made in your front window,"
said Bartley, indicating the placard.
The landlady smiled. They were certainly a very pretty-appearing young
couple, and the gentleman was evidently up-and-coming. Mrs. Nash liked
Bartley, as most people of her grade did, at once. "It's always be'n my
exper'ence," she explained, with the lazily rhythmical drawl in which most
half-bred New-Englanders speak, "that I seemed to get along rather better
with gentlemen. They give less trouble--as a general rule," she added, with
a glance at Marcia, as if she did not deny that there were exceptions, and
Marcia might be a striking one.
Bartley seized his advantage. "Well, my wife hasn't been married long
enough to be unreasonable. I guess you'd get along."
They both laughed, and Marcia, blushing, joined them.
"Well, I thought when you first come up the steps you hadn't been
married--well, not a _great_ while," said the landlady.
"No," said Bartley. "It seems a good while to my wife; but we were only
married day before yesterday."
"The land!" cried Mrs. Nash.
"Bartley!" whispered Marcia, in soft upbraiding.
"What? Well, say last week, then. We were married last week, and we've come
to Boston to seek our fortune."
His wit overjoyed Mrs. Nash. "You'll find Boston an awful hard place to get
along," she said, shaking her head with a warning smile.
"I shouldn't think so, by the price Boston people ask for their rooms,"
returned Bartley. "If I had rooms to let, I should get along pretty
This again delighted the landlady. "I guess you aint goin' to get out of
spirits, anyway," she said. "Well," she continued, "I _have_ got a room 't
I guess would suit you. Unexpectedly vacated." She seemed to recur to the
language of an advertisement in these words, which she pronounced as if
reading them. "It's pretty high up," she said, with another warning shake
of the head.
"Stairs to get to it?" asked Bartley.
"Plenty of _stairs_."
"Well, when a place is pretty high up, I like to have plenty of stairs to
get to it. I guess we'll see it, Marcia." He rose.
"Well, I'll just go up and see if it's _fit_ to be seen, first," said the
"Oh, Bartley!" said Marcia, when she had left them alone, "how _could_ you
joke so about our just being married!"
"Well, I saw she wanted awfully to ask. And anybody can tell by looking
at us, anyway. We can't keep that to ourselves, any more than we can our
greenness. Besides, it's money in our pockets; she'll take something off
our board for it, you'll see. Now, will you manage the bargaining from this
on? I stepped forward because the rooms were for gentlemen only."
"I guess I'd better," said Marcia.
"All right; then I'll take a back seat from this out."
"Oh, I do _hope_ it won't be too much!" sighed the young wife. "I'm so
"You can come right along up," the landlady called down through the oval
spire formed by the ascending hand-rail of the stairs.
They found her in a broad, low room, whose ceiling sloped with the roof,
and had the pleasant irregularity of the angles and recessions of two
dormer windows. The room was clean and cosey; there was a table, and a
stove that could be used open or shut; Marcia squeezed Bartley's arm to
signify that it would do perfectly--if only the price would suit.
The landlady stood in the middle of the floor and lectured: "Now, there!
I get five dollars a week for this room; and I gen'ly let it to two
gentlemen. It's just been vacated by two gentlemen unexpectedly; and it's
hard to get gentlemen at this time the year; and that's the reason I
thought of takin' you. As I _say_, I don't much like ladies for inmates,
and so I put in the window 'for gentlemen only.' But it's no use bein' too
particular; I can't have the room layin' empty on my hands. If it suits
you, you can have it for four dollars. It's high up, and there's no use
tryin' to deny it. But there aint such another view as them winders
commands anywheres. You can see the harbor, and pretty much the whole
"Anything extra for the view?" said Bartley, glancing out.
"No, I throw that in."
"Does the price include gas and fire?" asked Marcia, sharpened as to all
details by previous interviews.
"It includes the gas, but it don't include the fire," said the landlady,
firmly. "And it's pretty low at that, as you've found out, I guess."
"Yes, it is low," said Marcia. "Bartley, I think we'd better take it."
She looked at him timidly, as if she were afraid he might not think it good
enough; she did not think it good enough for him, but she felt that they
must make their money go as far as possible.
"All _right_!" he said. "Then it's a bargain."
"And how much more will the board be?"
"Well, there," the landlady said, with candor, "I don't know as I can meet
your views. I don't ever give board. But there's plenty of houses right on
the street here where you can get day-board from four dollars a week up."
"Oh, dear!" sighed Marcia; "and that would make it twelve dollars!"
"Why, the dear suz, child!" exclaimed the landlady, "you didn't expect to
get it for less?"
"We must," said Marcia.
"Then you'll have to go to a mechanics' boardin'-house."
"I suppose we shall," she returned, dejectedly. Bartley whistled.
"Look here," said the landlady, "aint you from Down East, some'eres?"
Marcia started, as if the woman had recognized them. "Yes." she said.
"Well, now," said Mrs. Nash, "I'm from down Maine way myself, and I'll tell
you what I should do, if I was in your _place_. You don't want much of
anything tor breakfast or tea; you can boil you an egg on the stove here,
and you can make your own tea or coffee; and if I was you, I'd go out for
my dinners to an eatin'-house. I heard some my lodgers tellin' how they
done. Well, I heard the very gentlemen that occupied this room sayin' how
they used to go to an eatin'-house, and one 'd order one thing, and another
another, and then they'd halve it between 'em, and make out a first-rate
meal for about a quarter apiece. Plenty of places now where they give you a
cut o'lamb or rib-beef for a shillin', and they bring you bread and butter
and potato with it; an' it's always enough for two. That's what they
_said_. I haint never tried it myself; but as long as you haint got anybody
but yourselves to care for, there aint any reason why _you_ shouldn't."
They looked at each other.
"Well," added the landlady for a final touch, "_say_ fire. That stove won't
burn a great deal, anyway."
"All right," said Bartley, "we'll take the room--for a month, at least."
Mrs. Nash looked a little embarrassed. If she had made some concession to
the liking she had conceived for this pretty young couple, she could not
risk everything. "I always have to get the first week in advance--where
there ain't no reference," she suggested.
"Of course," said Bartley, and he took out his pocket-book, which he had a
boyish satisfaction in letting her see was well filled. "Now, Marcia," he
continued, looking at his watch, "I'll just run over to the hotel, and give
up our room before they get us in for dinner."
Marcia accepted Mrs. Nash's invitation to come and sit with her till the
chill was off the room; and she borrowed a pen and paper of her to write
home. The note she sent was brief: she was not going to seem to ask
anything of her father. But she was going to do what was right; she told
him where she was, and she sent her love to her mother. She would not speak
of her things; he might send them or not, as he chose; but she knew he
would. This was the spirit of her letter, and her training had not taught
her to soften and sweeten her phrase; but no doubt the old man, who was
like her, would understand that she felt no compunction for what she had
done, and that she loved him though she still defied him.
Bartley did not ask her what her letter was when she demanded a stamp of
him on his return; but he knew. He inquired of Mrs. Nash where these cheap
eating-houses were to be found, and he posted the letter in the first box
they came to, merely saying, "I hope you haven't been asking any favors,
"Because I couldn't stand that."
Marcia had never dined in a restaurant, and she was somewhat bewildered by
the one into which they turned. There was a great show of roast, and steak,
and fish, and game, and squash and cranberry-pie in the window, and at
the door a tack was driven through a mass of bills of fare, two of which
Bartley plucked off as they entered, with a knowing air, and then threw on
the floor when he found the same thing on the table. The table had a marble
top, and a silver-plated castor in the centre. The plates were laid with
a coarse red doily in a cocked hat on each, and a thinly plated knife and
fork crossed beneath it; the plates were thick and heavy; the handle as
well as the blade of the knife was metal, and silvered. Besides the castor,
there was a bottle of Leicestershire sauce on the table, and salt in what
Marcia thought a pepper-box; the marble was of an unctuous translucence
in places, and showed the course of the cleansing napkin on its smeared
surface. The place was hot, and full of confused smells of cooking; all the
tables were crowded, so that they found places with difficulty, and pale,
plain girls, of the Provincial and Irish-American type, in fashionable
bangs and pull-backs, went about taking the orders, which they wailed out
toward a semicircular hole opening upon a counter at the farther end of the
room; there they received the dishes ordered, and hurried with them to the
customers, before whom they laid them with a noisy clacking of the heavy
crockery. A great many of the people seemed to be taking hulled corn and
milk; baked beans formed another favorite dish, and squash-pie was in large
request. Marcia was not critical; roast turkey for Bartley and stewed
chicken for herself, with cranberry-pie for both, seemed to her a very good
and sufficient dinner, and better than they ought to have had. She asked
Bartley if this were anything like Parker's; he had always talked to her
"Well, Marcia," he said, folding up his doily, which does not betray use
like the indiscreet white napkin, "I'll just take you round and show you
the _outside_ of Parker's, and some day we'll go there and get dinner."
He not only showed her Parker's, but the City Hall; they walked down School
Street, and through Washington as far as Boylston: and Bartley pointed out
the Old South, and brought Marcia home by the Common, where they stopped to
see the boys coasting under the care of the police, between two long lines
"The State House," said Bartley, with easy command of the facts, and,
pointing in the several directions; "Beacon Street; Public Garden; Back
She came home to Mrs. Nash joyfully admiring the city, but admiring still
more her husband's masterly knowledge of it.
Mrs. Nash was one of those people who partake intimately of the importance
of the place in which they live; to whom it is sufficient splendor and
prosperity to be a Bostonian, or New-Yorker, or Chicagoan, and who
experience a delicious self-flattery in the celebration of the municipal
grandeur. In his degree, Bartley was of this sort, and he exchanged
compliments of Boston with Mrs. Nash, till they grew into warm favor with
After a while, he said he must go up-stairs and do some writing; and then
he casually dropped the fact that he was an editor, and that he had come to
Boston to get an engagement on a newspaper; he implied that he had come to
"Well," said Mrs. Nash, smoothing the back of the cat, which she had in her
lap, "I guess there ain't anything like our Boston papers. And they say
this new one--the 'Daily Events'--is goin' to take the lead. You acquainted
any with our Boston editors?"
Bartley hemmed. "Well--I know the proprietor of the Events."
"Ah, yes: Mr. Witherby. Well, they say he's got the money. I hear my
lodgers talkin' about that paper consid'able. I haven't ever seen it."
Bartley now went up-stairs; he had an idea in his head. Marcia remained
with Mrs. Nash a few moments. "He's been in Boston before," she said, with
proud satisfaction; "he visited here when he was in college."
"Law, is he college-bred?" cried Mrs. Nash. "Well, I thought he looked
'most too wide-awake for that. He aint a bit offish. He seems _re'l_
practical. What you hurryin' off so for?" she asked, as Marcia rose, and
stood poised on the threshold, in act to follow her husband. "Why don't you
set here with me, while he's at his writin'? You'll just keep talkin to him
and takin' his mind off, the whole while. You stay here!" she commanded
hospitably. "You'll just be in the way, up there."
This was a novel conception to Marcia, but its good sense struck her.
"Well, I will," she said. "I'll run up a minute to leave my things, and
then I'll come back."
She found Bartley dragging the table, on which he had already laid out his
writing-materials, into a good light, and she threw her arms round his
neck, as if they had been a great while parted.
"Come up to kiss me good luck?" he asked, finding her lips.
"Yes, and to tell you how splendid you are, going right to work this way,"
she answered fondly.
"Oh, I don't believe in losing time; and I've got to strike while the
iron's hot, if I'm going to write out that logging-camp business. I'll take
it over to that Events man, and hit him with it, while it's fresh in his
"Yes," said Marcia. "Are you going to write that out?"
"Why, I told you I was. Any objections?" He did not pay much attention
to her, and he asked his question jokingly, as he went on making his
"It's hard for me to realize that people can care for such things. I
thought perhaps you'd begin with something else," she suggested, hanging up
her sack and hat in the closet.
"No, that's the very thing to begin with," he answered, carelessly. "What
are you going to do? Want that book to read that I bought on the cars?"
"No, I'm going down to sit with Mrs. Nash while you're writing."
"Well, that's a good idea."
"You can call me when you've done."
"Done!" cried Bartley. "I sha'n't be done till this time to-morrow. I'm
going to make a lot about it."
"Oh!" said his wife. "Well, I suppose the more there is, the more you will
get for it. Shall you put in about those people coming to see the camp?"
"Yes, I think I can work that in so that old Witherby will like it.
Something about a distinguished Boston newspaper proprietor and his refined
and elegant ladies, as a sort of contrast to the rude life of the loggers."
"I thought you didn't admire them a great deal."
"Well, I didn't much. But I can work them up."
Marcia was quite ready to go; Bartley had seated himself at his table, but
she still hovered about. "And are you--shall you put that Montreal woman
"Yes, get it all in. She'll work up first-rate."
Marcia was silent. Then, "I shouldn't think you'd put her in," she said,
"if she was so silly and disagreeable."
Bartley turned around, and saw the look on her face that he could not
mistake. He rose and took her by the chin. "Look here, Marsh!" he said,
"didn't you promise me you'd stop that?"
"Yes," she murmured, while the color flamed into her cheeks.
"And will you?"
"I _did_ try--"
He looked sharply into her eyes. "Confound the Montreal woman! I won't put
in a word about her. There!" He kissed Marcia, and held her in his arms and
soothed her as if she had been a jealous child.
"Oh, Bartley! Oh, Bartley!" she cried. "I love you so!"
"I think it's a remark you made before," he said, and, with a final kiss
and laugh, he pushed her out of the door; and she ran down stairs to Mrs.
"Your husband ever write poetry, any?" inquired the landlady.
"No," returned Marcia; "he used to in college, but he says it don't pay."
"One my lodgers--well, she was a lady; you can't seem to get gentlemen
oftentimes in the summer season, for love or money, and I was puttin' up
with her,--breakin' joints, as you may say, for the time bein'--_she_ wrote
poetry; 'n' I guess she found it pretty poor pickin'. Used to write for the
weekly papers, she said, 'n' the child'n's magazines. Well, she couldn't
get more 'n a doll' or two, 'n' I do' know but what less, for a piece as
long as that." Mrs. Nash held her hands about a foot apart. "Used to show
'em to me, and tell me about 'em. I declare I used to pity her. I used to
tell her I ruther break stone for my livin'."
Marcia sat talking more than an hour to Mrs. Nash, informing herself upon
the history of Mrs. Nash's past and present lodgers, and about the ways of
the city, and the prices of provisions and dress-goods. The dearness of
everything alarmed and even shocked her; but she came back to her faith in
Bartley's ability to meet and overcome all difficulties. She grew drowsy
in the close air which Mrs. Nash loved, after all her fatigues and
excitements, and she said she guessed she would go up and see how Bartley
was getting on. But when she stole into the room and saw him busily
writing, she said, "Now I won't speak a word, Bartley," and coiled herself
down under a shawl on the bed, near enough to put her hand on his shoulder
if she wished, and fell asleep.
It took Bartley two days to write out his account of the logging-camp. He
worked it up to the best of his ability, giving all the facts that he had
got out of Kinney, and relieving these with what he considered picturesque
touches. He had the newspaper instinct, and he divined that his readers
would not care for his picturesqueness without his facts. He therefore
subordinated this, and he tried to give his description of the loggers a
politico-economical interest, dwelling upon the variety of nationalities
engaged in the industry, and the changes it had undergone in what he called
its _personnel_; he enlarged upon its present character and its future
development in relation to what he styled, in a line of small capitals,
with an early use of the favorite newspaper possessive,
COLUMBIA'S MORIBUND SHIP-BUILDING.
And he interspersed his text plentifully with exclamatory headings intended
to catch the eye with startling fragments of narration and statement, such
THE PINE-TREE STATE'S STORIED STAPLE
MORE THAN A MILLION OF MONEY
WILD-CATS, LYNXES, AND BEARS
BOTH LEGS FROZEN TO THE KNEES
THE LAMPLIGHT ON THEIR SWARTHY FACES.
He spent a final forenoon in polishing his article up, and stuffing it
full of telling points. But after dinner on this last day he took leave of
Marcia with more trepidation than he was willing to show, or knew how to
conceal. Her devout faith in his success seemed to unnerve him, and he
begged her not to believe in it so much.
He seized what courage he had left in both hands, and found himself, after
the usual reluctance of the people in the business office, face to face
with Mr. Witherby in his private room. Mr. Witherby had lately dismissed
his managing editor for his neglect of the true interests of the paper as
represented by the counting-room; and was managing the Events himself. He
sat before a table strewn with newspapers and manuscripts; and as he looked
up, Bartley saw that he did not recognize him.
"How do you do, Mr. Witherby? I had the pleasure of meeting you the other
day in Maine--at Mr. Willett's logging-camp. Hubbard is my name; remember
me as editor of the Equity Free Press."
"Oh, yes," said Mr. Witherby, rising and standing at his desk, as a sort
of compromise between asking his visitor to sit down and telling him to go
away. He shook hands in a loose way, and added: "I presume you would like
to exchange. But the fact is, our list is so large already, that we can't
extend it, just now; we can't--"
Bartley smiled. "I don't want any exchange, Mr. Witherby. I'm out of the
"Ah!" said the city journalist, with relief. He added, in a leading tone:
"I've come to offer you an article,--an account of lumbering in our State.
It's a little sketch that I've prepared from what I saw in Mr. Willett's
camp, and some facts and statistics I've picked up. I thought it might make
an attractive feature of your Sunday edition."
"The Events," said Mr. Witherby, solemnly, "does not publish a Sunday
"Of course not," answered Bartley, inwardly cursing his blunder,--"I mean
your Saturday evening supplement." He handed him his manuscript.
Mr. Witherby looked at it, with the worry of a dull man who has assumed
unintelligible duties. He had let the other papers "get ahead of him"
on several important enterprises lately, and he would have been glad to
retrieve himself; but he could not be sure that this was an enterprise. He
began by saying that their last Saturday supplement was just out, and the
next was full; and he ended by declaring, with stupid pomp, that the Events
preferred to send its own reporters to write up those matters. Then he
hemmed, and looked at Bartley, and he would really have been glad to have
him argue him out of this position; but Bartley could not divine what was
in his mind. The cold fit, which sooner or later comes to every form of
authorship, seized him. He said awkwardly he was very sorry, and putting
his manuscript back in his pocket he went out, feeling curiously
light-headed, as if his rebuff had been a stunning blow. The affair was so
quickly over, that he might well have believed it had not happened. But he
was sickeningly disappointed; he had counted upon the sale of his article
to the Events; his hope had been founded upon actual knowledge of the
proprietor's intention; and although he had rebuked Marcia's overweening
confidence, he had expected that Witherby would jump at it. But Witherby
had not even looked at it.
Bartley walked a long time in the cold winter sunshine, fie would have
liked to go back to his lodging, and hide his face in Marcia's hands, and
let her pity him, but he could not bear the thought of her disappointment,
and he kept walking. At last he regained courage enough to go to the editor
of the paper for which he used to correspond in the summer, and which had
always printed his letters. This editor was busy, too, but he apparently
felt some obligations to civility with Bartley; and though he kept glancing
over his exchanges as they talked, he now and then glanced at Bartley also.
He said that he should be glad to print the sketch, but that they never
paid for outside material, and he advised Bartley to go with it to the
Events or to the Daily Chronicle-Abstract; the Abstract and the Brief
Chronicle had lately consolidated, and they were showing a good deal of
enterprise. Bartley said nothing to betray that he had already been at the
Events office, and upon this friendly editor's invitation to drop in again
some time he went away considerably re-inspirited.
"If you should happen to go to the Chronicle-Abstract folks," the editor
called after him, "you can tell them I suggested your coming."
The managing editor of the Chronicle-Abstract was reading a manuscript, and
he did not desist from his work on Bartley's appearance, which he gave no
sign of welcoming. But he had a whimsical, shrewd, kind face, and Bartley
felt that he should get on with him, though he did not rise, and though he
let Bartley stand.
"Yes," he said. "Lumbering, hey? Well, there's some interest in that, just
now, on account of this talk about the decay of our shipbuilding interests.
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