Bab: A Sub-Deb
Mary Roberts Rinehart
Part 4 out of 6
And now, dear Dairy, I am in bed, and every time the telephone
rings I have a chill. And in between times I drink ice-water and
sneaze. How terrable a thing is Love.
LATER: I can hardly write. Switzerland is a settled thing. Father
is not home tonight and I cannot apeal to him. Susan Paget said I
was drinking to, and mother is having the vibrater used on her
spine. If I felt better I would run away.
JANUARY 26TH. How can I write what has happened? It is so terrable.
Beresford went at ten o'clock to ask for Leila, and did not send in
his card for fear father would refuse to see him. And father
thought, from his saying that he had come to ask for somthing, and
so on, that it was Adrian, and threw him out. He ordered him out
first, and Beresford refused to go, and they had words, and then
there was a fight. The Reporters got it, and it is in all the
papers. Hannah has just brought one in. It is headed "Manufacturer
assaults Peer." Leila is in bed, and the doctor is with her.
LATER: Adrian has disapeared. The manager has just called up, and
with shaking knees I went to the telephone. Adrian went to the mill
a little after ten, and has not been seen since.
It is in vain I protest that he has not eloped with me. It is
almost time now for the Matinee and no Adrian. What shall I do?
SATURDAY, 11 P.M. Dear Dairy, I have the meazles. I am all broken
out, and look horible. But what is a sickness of the Body compared
to the agony of my Mind? Oh, dear Dairy, to think of what has
happened since last I saw your stainless Pages!
What is a sickness to a broken heart? And to a heart broken while
trying to help another who did not deserve to be helped. But if he
decieved me, he has paid for it, and did until he was rescued at
ten o'clock tonight.
I have been given a sleeping medacine, and until it takes affect I
shall write out the tradgedy of this day, omiting nothing. The
trained nurse is asleep on a cot, and her cap is hanging on the
foot of the bed.
I have tried it on, dear Dairy, and it is very becoming. If they
insist on Switzerland I think I shall run away and be a trained
nurse. It is easy work, although sleeping on a cot is not always
comfortible. But at least a trained nurse leads her own Life and is
not bully-ed by her Familey. And more, she does good constantly.
I feel tonight that I should like to do good, and help the sick,
and perhaps go to the Front. I know a lot of college men in the
I shall never go on the stage, dear Dairy. I know now its
decietfullness and visisitudes. My heart has bled until it can
bleed no more, as a result of a theatricle Adonis. I am through
with the theater forever.
I shall begin at the beginning. I left off where Adrian had disapeared.
Although feeling very strange, and looking a queer red color in my
mirror, I rose and dressed myself. I felt that somthing had
slipped, and I must find Adrian. (It is strange with what coldness
I write that once beloved name.)
While dressing I percieved that my chest and arms were covered with
small red dots, but I had no time to think of myself. I sliped
downstairs and outside the drawing room I heard mother conversing
in a loud and angry tone with a visitor. I glansed in, and ye gods!
It was the Adventuress.
Drawing somwhat back, I listened. Oh, Dairy, what a revalation!
"But I MUST see her," she was saying. "Time is flying. In a half
hour the performance begins, and--he cannot be found."
"I can't understand," mother said, in a stiff maner. "What can my
daughter Barbara know about him?"
The Adventuress snifed. "Humph!" she said. "She knows, all right.
And I'd like to see her in a hurry, if she is in the house."
"Certainly she is in the house," said mother.
"ARE YOU SURE OF THAT? Because I have every reason to beleive she
has run away with him. She has been hanging around him all week,
and only yesterday afternoon I found them together. She had some
sort of a Skeme, he said afterwards, and he wrinkled a coat under
his mattress last night. He said it was to look as if he had slept
in it. I know nothing further of your daughter's Skeme. But I know
he went out to meet her. He has not been seen since. His manager
has hunted for to hours."
"Just a moment," said mother, in a fridgid tone. "Am I to
understand that this--this Mr. Egleston is----"
"He is my Husband."
Ah, dear Dairy, that I might then and there have passed away. But
I did not. I stood there, with my heart crushed, until I felt
strong enough to escape. Then I fled, like a Gilty Soul. It was gastly.
On the doorstep I met Jane. She gazed at me strangely when she saw
my face, and then cluched me by the arm.
"Bab!" she cried. "What on the earth is the matter with your complexion?"
But I was desparate.
"Let me go!" I said. "Only lend me two dollars for a taxi and let
me go. Somthing horible has happened."
She gave me ninety cents, which was all she had, and I rushed down
the street, followed by her peircing gaze.
Although realizing that my Life, at least the part of it pertaining
to sentament, was over, I knew that, single or married, I must find
him. I could not bare to think that I, in my desire to help, had
ruined Miss Everett's couzin's play. Luckaly I got a taxi at the
corner, and I ordered it to drive to the mill. I sank back, bathed
in hot persparation, and on consulting my bracelet watch found I
had but twenty five minutes until the curtain went up.
I must find him, but where and how! I confess for a moment that I
doubted my own father, who can be very feirce on ocasion. What if,
madened by his mistake about Beresford, he had, on being aproached
by Adrian, been driven to violance? What if, in my endeaver to help
one who was unworthy, I had led my poor paternal parent into crime?
Hell is paved with good intentions.
On driving madly into the mill yard, I sudenly remembered that it
was Saturday and a half holaday. The mill was going, but the
offices were closed. Father, then, was imured in the safety of his
Club, and could not be reached except by pay telephone. And the
taxi was now ninty cents.
I got out, and paid the man. I felt very dizzy and queer, and was
very thirsty, so I went to the hydrent in the yard and got a drink
of water. I did not as yet suspect meazles, but laid it all to my
agony of mind.
Haveing thus refreshed myself, I looked about, and saw the yard
Policeman, a new one who did not know me, as I am away at school
most of the time, and the Familey is not expected to visit the
mill, because of dirt and possable accidents.
I aproached him, however, and he stood still and stared at me.
"Officer" I said, in my most dignafied tones. "I am looking for
a--for a Gentleman who came here this morning to look for work."
"There was about two hundred lined up here this morning, Miss," he
said. "Which one would it be, now?"
How my heart sank!
"About what time would he be coming?" he said. "Things have been
kind of mixed-up around here today, owing to a little trouble this
morning. But perhaps I'll remember him."
But, although Adrian is of an unusual tipe, I felt that I could not
describe him, besides having a terrable headache. So I asked if he
would lend me carfare, which he did with a strange look.
"You're not feeling sick, Miss, are you?" he said. But I could not
stay to converce, as it was then time for the curtain to go up, and
still no Adrian.
I had but one refuge in mind, Carter Brooks, and to him I fled on
the wings of misery in the street car. I burst into his advertizing
office like a furey.
"Where is he?" I demanded. "Where have you and your plotting hidden him?"
"Who? Beresford?" he asked in a placid maner. "He is at his hotel,
I beleive, putting beefstake on a bad eye. Beleive me, Bab----"
"Beresford!" I cried, in scorn and wrechedness. "What is he to me?
Or his eye either? I refer to Mr. Egleston. It is time for the
curtain to go up now, and unless he has by this time returned,
there can be no performence."
"Look here," Carter said sudenly, "you look awfuly queer, Bab. Your
I stamped my foot.
"What does my face matter?" I demanded. "I no longer care for him,
but I have ruined Miss Everett's couzin's play unless he turns up.
Am I to be sent to Switzerland with that on my Soul?"
"Switzerland!" he said slowly. "Why, Bab, they're not going to do
that, are they? I--I don't want you so far away."
Dear Dairy, I am unsuspisious by nature, beleiving all mankind to
be my friends until proven otherwise. But there was a gloating look
in Carter Brooks' eyes as they turned on me.
"Carter!" I said, "you know where he is and you will not tell me.
You WISH to ruin him."
I was about to put my hand on his arm, but he drew away.
"Look here," he said. "I'll tell you somthing, but please keep
back. Because you look like smallpox to me. I was at the mill this
morning. I do not know anything about your Actor-friend. He's
probably only been run over or somthing. But I saw Beresford going
in, and I--well, I sugested that he'd better walk in on your father
or he wouldn't get in. It worked, Bab. HOW IT DID WORK! He went in
and said he had come to ask your father for somthing, and your
father blew up by saying that he knew about it, but that the world
only owed a living to the man who would hustle for it, and that he
would not be forced to take any one he did not want.
"And in to minutes Beresford hit him, and got a responce. It was a
Million dollars worth."
So he babbled on. But what were his words to me?
Dear Dairy, I gave no thought to the smallpox he had mentioned,
although fatle to the complexion. Or to the fight at the mill. I
heard only Adrian's possable tradgic fate. Sudenly I colapsed, and
asked for a drink of water, feeling horible, very wobbley and
unable to keep my knees from bending.
And the next thing I remember is father taking me home, and
Adrian's fate still a deep mystery, and remaining such, while I had
a warm sponge to bring out the rest of the rash, folowed by a
sleep--it being meazles and not smallpox.
Oh, dear Dairy, what a story I learned when haveing wakened and
feeling better, my father came tonight and talked to me from the
doorway, not being allowed in.
Adrian had gone to the mill, and father, haveing thrown Beresford
out and asserted his principals, had not thrown him out, BUT HAD
GIVEN HIM A JOB IN THE MILL. And the Policeman had given him no
chance to escape, which he atempted. He was dragged to the shell
plant and there locked in, because of spies. The plant is under
AND THERE HE HAD BEEN COMPELED TO DRAG A WHEELBARROW BACK AND
FORTH, CONTAINING CHARCOAL FOR A SMALL FURNASE, FOR HOURS!
Even when Carter found him he could not be releaced, as father was in
hiding from Reporters, and would not go to the telephone or see callers.
HE LABORED UNTIL TEN P. M., while the theater remained dark, and
people got their money back.
I have ruined him. I have also ruined Miss Everett's couzin.
* * *
The nurse is still asleep. I think I will enter a hospitle. My
career is ended, my Life is blasted.
I reach under the mattress and draw out the picture of him who
today I have ruined, compeling him to do manual labor for hours,
although unacustomed to it. He is a great actor, and I beleive has
a future. But my love for him is dead. Dear Dairy, he decieved me,
and that is one thing I cannot forgive.
So now I sit here among my pillows, while the nurse sleeps, and I reflect
about many Things. But one speach rings in my ears over and over.
Carter Brooks, on learning about Switzerland, said it in a strange
maner, looking at me with inscrutible eyes.
"Switzerland! Why, Bab--I don't want you to go so far away."
WHAT DID HE MEAN BY IT?
* * *
Dear Dairy, you will have to be burned, I darsay. Perhaps it is as
well. I have p o r e d out my H-e-a-r-t----
MONEY is the root of all Evil."
I do not know who said the above famous words, but they are true.
I know it but to well. For had I never gone on an Allowence, and
been in debt and always worried about the way silk stockings wear
out, et cetera, I would be having a much better time. For who can
realy enjoy a dress when it is not paid for or only partialy so?
I have decided to write out this story, which is true in every
particuler, except here and there the exact words of conversation,
and then sell it to a Magazine. I intend to do this for to reasons.
First, because I am in Debt, especialy for to tires, and second,
because parents will then read it, and learn that it is not
possable to make a good appearence, including furs, theater tickets
and underwear, for a Thousand Dollars a year, even if one wears
plain uncouth things beneath. I think this, too. My mother does not
know how much clothes and other things, such as manacuring, cost
these days. She merely charges things and my father gets the bills.
Nor do I consider it fair to expect me to atend Social Functions
and present a good appearence on a small Allowence, when I would
often prefer a simple game of tennis or to lie in a hammick, or to
converce with some one I am interested in, of the Other Sex.
It was mother who said a Thousand dollars a year and no extras. But
I must confess that to me, after ten dollars a month at school, it
seemed a large sum. I had but just returned for the summer
holadays, and the Familey was having a counsel about me. They
always have a counsel when I come home, and mother makes a list,
begining with the Dentist.
"I should make it a Thousand," she said to father. "The chiid is in
shameful condition. She is never still, and she fidgits right
through her clothes."
"Very well," said father, and got his Check Book. "That is $83.33
1/3 cents a month. Make it thirty four cents. But no bills, Barbara."
"And no extras," my mother observed, in a stern tone.
"Candy, tennis balls and matinee tickets?" I asked.
"All included," said father. "And Church collection also, and ice
cream and taxicabs and Xmas gifts."
Although pretending to consider it small, I realy felt that it was
a large amount, and I was filled with joy when father ordered a
Check Book for me with my name on each Check. Ah, me! How happy I was!
I was two months younger then and possably childish in some ways.
For I remember that in my exhiliration I called up Jane Raleigh the
moment she got home. She came over, and I showed her the book.
"Bab!" she said. "A thousand dollars! Why, it is wealth."
"It's not princly," I observed. "But it will do, Jane."
We then went out and took a walk, and I treated her to a Facial
Masage, having one myself at the same time, having never been able
to aford it before.
"It's Heavenley, Bab," Jane observed to me, through a hot towle.
"If I were you I should have one daily. Because after all, what are
features if the skin is poor?"
We also had manacures, and as the young person was very nice, I
gave her a dollar. As I remarked to Jane, it had taken all the
lines out of my face, due to the Spring Term and examinations. And
as I put on my hat, I could see that it had done somthing else. For
the first time my face showed Character. I looked mature, if not,
indeed, even more.
I paid by a Check, although they did not care about taking it,
prefering cash. But on calling up the Bank accepted it, and also
another check for cold cream, and a fancy comb.
I had, as I have stated, just returned from my Institution of
Learning, and now, as Jane and I proceded to a tea place I had
often viewed with hungry eyes but no money to spend, it being
expencive, I suddenly said:
"Jane, do you ever think how ungrateful we are to those who cherish
us through the school year and who, although stern at times, are
realy our Best Friends?"
"Cherish us!" said Jane. "I haven't noticed any cherishing. They
tolarate me, and hardly that."
"I fear you are pessamistic," I said, reproving her but mildly, for
Jane's school is well known to be harsh and uncompromizing.
"However, my own feelings to my Instructers are diferent and quite
friendly, especialy at a distance. I shall send them flowers."
It was rather awful, however, after I had got inside the shop, to
find that violets, which I had set my heart on as being the school
flour, were five dollars a hundred. Also there were more teachers
than I had considered, some of them making but small impression on
account of mildness.
THERE WERE EIGHT.
"Jane!" I said, in desparation. "Eight without the housekeeper! And
she must be remembered because if not she will be most unpleasant
next fall, and swipe my chaffing dish. Forty five dollars is a lot
"You only have to do it once," said Jane, who could aford to be
calm, as it was costing her nothing.
However, I sent the violets aud paid with a check. I felt better by
subtracting the amount from one thousand. I had still $945.00, less
the facials and so on, which had been ten.
This is not a finantial story, although turning on Money. I do not
wish to be considered as thinking only of Wealth. Indeed, I have
always considered that where my heart was in question I would
always decide for Love and penury rather than a Castle and greed.
In this I differ from my sister Leila, who says that under no
circumstanses would she ever inspect a refrigerater to see if the
cook was wasting anything.
I was not worried about the violets, as I consider Money spent as
but water over a damn, and no use worrying about. But I was no
longer hungry, and I observed this to Jane.
"Oh, come on," she said, in an impatient maner. "I'll pay for it."
I can read Jane's inmost thoughts, and I read them then. She
considered that I had cold feet financially, although with almost
$945.00 in the bank. Therefore I said at once:
"Don't be silly. It is my party. And we'll take some candy home."
However, I need not have worried, for we met Tommy Gray in the tea
shop, and he paid for everything.
I pause here to reflect. How strange to look back, and think of all
that has since hapened, and that I then considered that Tommy Gray
was interested in Jane and never gave me a thought. Also that I
considered that the look he gave me now and then was but a friendly
glanse! Is it not strange that Romanse comes thus into our lives,
through the medium of a tea-cup, or an eclair, unheralded and
unsung, yet leaving us never the same again?
Even when Tommy bought us candy and carried mine under his arm
while leaving Jane to get her own from the counter, I suspected
nothing. But when he said to me, "Gee, Bab, you're geting to be a
regular Person," and made no such remark to Jane, I felt that it
was rather pointed.
Also, on walking up the Avenue, he certainly walked nearer me than
Jane. I beleive she felt it, to, for she made a sharp speach or to
about his Youth, and what he meant to do when he got big. And he
replied by saying that she was big enough allready, which hurt
because Jane is plump and will eat starches anyhow.
Tommy Gray had improved a great deal since Xmas. He had at that
time apeared to long for his head. I said this to Jane, SOTO VOCE,
while he was looking at some neckties in a window.
"Well, his head is big enough now," she said in a snapish maner.
"It isn't very long, Bab, since you considered him a mere Child."
"He is twenty," I asserted, being one to stand up for my friends
under any and all circumstanses.
"Twenty!" she exclaimed. "He's not eighteen yet. His very noze
Our discourse was interupted by the object of it, who requested an
opinion on the ties. He ignored Jane entirely.
We went in, and I purchaced a handsome tie for father, considering
it but right thus to show my apreciation of his giving me the Allowence.
It was seventy five cents, and I made out a check for the amount
and took the tie with me. We left Jane soon after, as she insisted
on adressing Tommy as dear child, or "MON ENFANT," and strolled on
together, oblivious to the World, by the World forgot. Our
conversation was largely about ourselves, Tommv maintaining that I
gave an impression of fridgidity, and that all the College men
considered me so.
"Better fridgidity," I retorted, "than softness. But I am sincere.
I stick to my friends through thick and thin."
Here he observed that my Chin was romantic, but that my Ears were
stingy, being small and close to my head. This irratated me,
although glad they are small. So I bought him a gardenia to wear
from a flour-seller, but as the flour-seller refused a check, he
had to pay for it.
In exchange he gave me his Frat pin to wear.
"You know what that means, don't you, Bab?" he said, in a low and
thriling tone. "It means, if you wear it, that you are my--well,
you're my girl."
Although thriled, I still retained my practacality.
"Not exclusively, Tom," I said, in a firm tone. "We are both young,
and know little of Life. Some time, but not as yet."
He looked at me with a searching glanse.
"I'll bet you have a couple of dozen Frat pins lying around, Bab,"
he said savigely. "You're that sort. All the fellows are sure to be
crasy about you. And I don't intend to be an Also-ran."
"Perhaps," I observed, in my most dignafied maner. "But no one has
ever tried to bully me before. I may be young, but the Other Sex
have always treated me with respect."
I then walked up the steps and into my home, leaving him on the
pavment. It was cruel, but I felt that it was best to start right.
But I was troubled and DISTRAIT during dinner, which consisted of
mutton and custard, which have no appeal for me owing to having
them to often at school. For I had, although not telling an
untruth, allowed Tom to think that I had a dozen or so Frat pins,
although I had none at all.
Still, I reflected, why not? Is it not the only way a woman can do
when in conflict with the Other Sex, to meet Wile with Gile? In
other words, to use her intellagence against brute force? I fear so.
Men do not expect truth from us, so why disapoint them?
During the salid mother inquired what I had done during the afternoon.
"I made a few purchaces," I said.
"I hope you bought some stockings and underclothes," she observed.
"Hannah cannot mend your chemises any more, and as for your----"
"Mother!" I said, turning scarlet, for George--who was the Butler,
as Tanney had been found kissing Jane--was at that moment bringing
in the cheeze.
"I am not going to interfere with your Allowence," she went on.
"But I recall very distinctly that during Leila's first year she
came home with three evening wraps and one nightgown, having to
borrow from one of her schoolmates, while that was being washed. I
feel that you should at least be warned."
How could I then state that instead of bying nightgowns, et cetera,
I had been sending violets? I could not. If Life to my Familey was
a matter of petticoats, and to me was a matter of fragrant flours,
why cause them to suffer by pointing out the diference?
I did not feel superior. Only diferent.
That evening, while mother and Leila were out at a Festivaty, I
gave father his neck-tie. He was overcome with joy and for a moment
could not speak. Then he said:
"Good gracious, Bab! What a--what a DIFERENT necktie."
I explained my reasons for buying it for him, and also Tom Gray's
objecting to it as to juvenile.
"Young impudense!" said father, refering to Tom. "I darsay I am
quite an old fellow to him. Tie it for me, Bab."
"Though old of body, you are young in mentalaty," I said. But he
only laughed, and then asked about the pin, which I wore over my heart.
"Where did you get that?" he asked in quite a feirce voice.
I told him, but not quite all. It was the first time I had
concealed an AMOUR from my parents, having indeed had but few, and
I felt wicked and clandestine. But, alas, it is the way of the
heart to conceal its deepest feelings, save for blushes, which are
beyond bodily control.
My father, however, mearly sighed and observed:
"So it has come at last!"
"What has come at last?" I asked, but feeling that he meant Love.
For although forty-two and not what he once was, he still remembers
But he refused to anser, and inquired politely if I felt to much
grown-up, with the Allowence and so on, to be held on knees and
occasionaly tickeled, as in other days.
Which I did not.
That night I stood at the window of my Chamber and gazed with a
heaving heart at the Gray residense, which is next door. Often
before I had gazed at its walls, and considered them but brick and
morter, and needing paint. Now my emotions were diferent. I
realized that a House is but a shell, covering and protecting its
precious contents from weather and curious eyes, et cetera.
As I stood there, I percieved a light in an upper window, where the
nursery had once been in which Tom--in those days when a child,
Tommy--and I had played as children, he frequently pulling my hair
and never thinking of what was to be. As I gazed, I saw a figure
come to the window and gaze fixedly at me. IT WAS HE.
Hannah was in my room, making a list of six of everything which I
needed, so I dared not call out. But we exchanged gestures of
afection and trust across the void, and with a beating heart I
retired to bed.
Before I slept, however, I put to myself this question, but found
no anser to it. How can it be that two people of Diferent Sexes can
know each other well, such as calling by first names and dancing
together at dancing school, and going to the same dentist, and so
on, and have no interest in each other except to have a partner at
parties or make up a set at tennis? And then nothing happens, but
there is a diference, and they are always hoping to meet on the
street or elsewhere, and although quareling sometimes when
together, are not happy when apart! How strange is Life!
Hannah staid in my room that evening, fussing about my not hanging
up my garments when undressing. As she has lived with us for a long
time, and used to take me for walks when Mademoiselle had the
toothache, which was often, because she hated to walk, she knows
most of the Familey affairs, and is sometimes a nusance.
So, while I said my prayers, she looked in my Check Book. I was
furious, and snached it from her, but she had allready seen to much.
"Humph!" she said. "Well, all I've got to say is this, Miss Bab.
You'll last just twenty days at the rate you are going, and will
have to go stark naked all year."
At this indelacate speach I ordered her out of the room, but she
only tucked the covers in and asked me if I had brushed my teeth.
"You know," she said, "that you'll be coming to me for money when
you run out, Miss Bab, as you've always done, and expecting me to
patch and mend and make over your old things, when I've got my
hands full anyhow. And you with a Fortune fritered away."
"I wish to think, Hannah," I said in a plaintive tone. "Please go
But she came and stood over me.
"Now you're going to be a good girl this Summer and not give any
trouble, aren't you?" she asked. "Because we're upset enough as it
is, and your poor mother most distracted, without you're cutting
loose as usual and driving everybody crazy."
I sat up in bed, forgetful that the window was now open for the
night, and that I was visable from the Gray's in my ROBE DE NUIT.
"Whose distracted about what?" I asked.
But Hannah would say no more, and left me a pray to doubt and fear.
Alas, Hannah was right. There was something wrong in the house.
Coming home as I had done, full of the joy of no rising bell or
French grammar, or meat pie on Mondays from Sunday's roast, I had
I fear I am one who lives for the Day only, and as such I beleive
that when people smile they are happy, forgetfull that to often a
smile conceals an aching and tempestuous Void within.
Now I was to learn that the demon Strife had entered my domacile,
there to make his--or her--home. I do not agree with that poet, A.
J. Ryan, date forgoten, who observed:
Better a day of strife
Than a Century of sleep.
Although naturaly no one wishes to sleep for a Century, or even
There was Strife in the house. The first way I noticed it, aside
from Hannah's anonamous remark, was by observing that Leila was
mopeing. She acted very strangely, giving me a pair of pink hoze
without more than a hint on my part, and not sending me out of the
room when Carter Brooks came in to tea the next day.
I had staid at home, fearing that if I went out I should purchace
some CREPE DE CHENE combinations I had been craving in a window,
and besides thinking it possable that Tom would drop in to renew our
relations of yesterday, not remembering that there was a Ball Game.
Mother having gone out to the Country Club, I put my hair on top of
my head, thus looking as adult as possable. Taking a new detective
story of Jane's under my arm, I descended the staircase to the library.
Sis was there, curled up in a chair, knitting for the soldiers.
Having forgoten the Ball Game, as I have stated, I asked her, in
case I had a caller, to go away, which, considering she has the
house to herself all winter, I considered not to much.
"A caller!" she said. "Since when have you been allowed to have callers?"
I looked at her steadily.
"I am young," I observed, "and still in the school room, Leila. I
admit it, so don't argue. But as I have not taken the veil, and as
this is not a Penitentary, I darsav I can see my friends now and
anon, especialy when they live next door."
"Oh!" she said. "It's the Gray infant, is it!"
This remark being purely spiteful, I ignored it and sat down to my
book, which concerned the stealing of some famous Emerelds, the
heroine being a girl detective who could shoot the cork out of a
bottle at a great distance, and whose name was Barbara!
It was for that reason Jane had loaned me the book.
I had reached the place where the Duchess wore the Emerelds to a
ball, above white satin and lillies, the girl detective being
dressed as a man and driving her there, because the Duchess had
been warned and hautily refused to wear the paste copies she
had--when Sis said, peavishly:
"Why don't you knit or do somthing useful, Bab?"
I do not mind being picked on by my parents or teachers, knowing it
is for my own good. But I draw the line at Leila. So I replied:
"Knit! If that's the scarf you were on at Christmas, and it looks
like it, because there's the crooked place you wouldn't fix, let me
tell you that since then I have made three socks, heals and all,
and they are probably now on the feet of the Allies."
"Three!" she said. "Why THREE?"
"I had no more wool, and there are plenty of one-leged men anyhow."
I would fane have returned to my book, dreaming between lines, as
it were, of the Romanse which had come into my life the day before.
It is, I have learned, much more interesting to read a book when
one has, or is, experiencing the Tender Passion at the time. For
during the love seens one can then fancy that the impasioned
speaches are being made to oneself, by the object of one's
afection. In short, one becomes, even if but a time, the Heroine.
But I was to have no privacy.
"Bab," Sis said, in a more mild and fraternal tone, "I want you to
do somthing for me."
"Why don't you go and get it yourself?" I said. "Or ring for George?"
"I don't want you to get anything. I want you to go to father and
mother for somthing."
"I'd stand a fine chance to get it!" I said. "Unless it's Calomel
Although not suspicous by nature, I now looked at her and saw why
I had recieved the pink hoze. It was not kindness. It was bribery!
"It's this," she explained. "The house we had last year at the
seashore is emty and we can have it. But mother won't go.
She--well, she won't go. They're going to open the country house
and stay there."
A few days previously this would have been sad news for me, owing
to not being allowed to go to the Country Club except in the
mornings, and no chance to meet any new people, and no bathing save
in the usual tub. But now I thriled at the information, because the
Grays have a place near the Club also.
For a moment I closed my eyes and saw myself, all in white and
decked with flours, wandering through the meadows and on the links
with a certain Person whose name I need not write, having allready
related my feelings toward him.
I am older now by some weeks, older and sader and wiser. For
Tradgedy has crept into my life, so that somtimes I wonder if it is
worth while to live on and suffer, especialy without an Allowence,
and being again obliged to suplicate for the smallest things.
But I am being brave. And, as Carter Brooks wrote me in a recent
letter, acompanying a box of candy:
"After all, Bab, you did your durndest. And if they do not understand,
I do, and I'm proud of you. As for being `blited,' as per your note
to me, remember that I am, also. Why not be blited together?"
This latter, of course, is not serious, as he is eight years older
than I, and even fills in at middle-aged Dinners, being handsome
and dressing well, although poor.
Sis's remarks were interupted by the clamor of the door bell. I
placed a shaking hand over the Frat pin, beneath which my heart was
beating only for HIM. And waited.
What was my dispair to find it but Carter Brooks!
Now there had been a time when to have Carter Brooks sit beside me,
as now, and treat me as fully out in Society, would have thriled me
to the core. But that day had gone. I realized that he was not only
to old, but to flirtatous. He was one who would not look on a
woman's Love as precious, but as a plaything.
"Barbara," he said to me. "I do not beleive that Sister is glad to
"I don't have to look at you," Sis said, "I can knit."
"Tell me, Barbara," he said to me beseachingly, "am I as hard to
look at as all that?"
"I rather like looking at you," I rejoined with cander. "Across the room."
He said we were not as agreable as we might be, so he picked up a
magazine and looked at the Automobile advertizments.
"I can't aford a car," he said. "Don't listen to me, either of you.
I'm only talking to myself. But I like to read the ads. Hello,
here's a snappy one for five hundred and fifty. Let me see. If I
gave up a couple of Clubs, and smokeing, and flours to
DEBUTANTES--except Barbara, because I intend to buy every pozy in
town when she comes out--I might----"
"Carter," I said, "will you let me see that ad?"
Now the reason I had asked for it was this: in the book the Girl
Detective had a small but powerful car, and she could do anything
with it, even going up the Court House steps once in it and
interupting a trial at the criticle moment.
But I did not, at that time, expect to more than wish for such a
vehical. How pleasant, my heart said, to have a car holding to, and
since there was to be no bathing, et cetera, and I was not allowed
a horse in the country, except my old pony and the basket faeton,
to ramble through the lanes with a choice Spirit, and talk about
ourselves mostly, with a sprinkling of other subjects!
Five hundred and fifty from nine hundred and forty-five leaves
three hundred and forty-five. But I need few garments at school,
wearing mostly unaforms of blue serge with one party frock for
Friday nights and receptions to Lecturers and Members of the Board.
And besides, to own a machine would mean less carfare and no shoes
to speak of, because of not walking.
Jane Raleigh came in about then and I took her upstairs and closed
"Jane," I said, "I want your advise. And be honest, because it's a
"If it's Tommy Gray," she said, in a contemptable manner, "don't."
How could I know, as revealed later, that Jane had gone on a Diet
since yesterday, owing to a certain remark, and had had nothing but
an apple all day? I could not. I therfore stared at her steadily
"I shall never ask for advise in matters of the Heart. There I draw
However, she had seen some caromels on my table, and suddenly burst
into emotion. I was worried, not knowing the trouble and fearing
that Jane was in love with Tom. It was a terrable thought, for
which should I do? Hold on to him and let her suffer, or remember
our long years of intimacy and give him up to her?
Should I or should I not remove his Frat pin?
However, I was not called upon to renunciate anything. In the midst
of my dispair Jane asked for a Sandwitch and thus releived my mind.
I got her some cake and a bottle of cream from the pantrey and she
became more normle. She swore she had never cared for Tom, he being
not her style, as she had never loved any one who had not black eyes.
"Nothing else matters, Bab," she said, holding out the Sandwitch in
a dramatic way. "I see but his eyes. If they are black, they go
through me like a knife."
"Blue eyes are true eyes," I observed.
"There is somthing feirce about black eyes," she said, finishing
the cream. "I feel this way. One cannot tell what black eyes are
thinking. They are a mystery, and as such they atract me. Almost
all murderers have black eyes."
"Jane!" I exclaimed.
"They mean passion," she muzed. "They are STRONG eyes. Did you ever
see a black-eyed man with glasses? Never. Bab, are you engaged to Tom?"
I saw that she wished details, but I am not that sort. I am not the
kind to repeat what has been said to me in the emotion of Love. I
am one to bury sentament deep in my heart, and have therfore the
reputation of being cold and indiferent. But better that than
having the Male Sex afraid to tell me how I effect them for fear of
it being repeated to other girls, as some do.
"Of course it cannot be soon, if at all," I said. "He has three more
years of College, and as you know, here they regard me as a child."
"You have your own income."
That reminded me of the reason for my having sought the privasy of
my Chamber. I said:
"Jane, I am thinking of buying an automobile. Not a Limousine, but
somthing styleish and fast. I must have Speed, if nothing else."
She stopped eating a caromel and gave me a stunned look.
"Then they disaprove of him?" she said, in a low, tence voice.
"They know but little, although what they suspect--Jane," I said,
my bitterness bursting out, "what am I now? Nothing. A prisoner, or
the equivalent of such, forbiden everything because I am to young!
My Soul hampered by being taken to the country where there is
nothing to do, given a pony cart, although but 2O months younger
than Leila, and not going to come out until she is married, or
"It IS hard," said Jane. "Heart-breaking, Bab."
We sat, in deep and speachless gloom. At last Jane said:
"Has she anyone in sight?"
"How do I know? They keep me away at School all year. I am but a
stranger here, although I try hard to be otherwise."
"Because we might help along, if there is anyone. To get her
married is your only hope, Bab. They're afraid of you. That's all.
You're the tipe to atract Men, except your noze, and you could help
that by pulling it. My couzin did that, only she did it to much,
and made it pointed."
I looked in my mirror and sighed. I have always desired an
aristocratic noze, but a noze cannot be altered like teeth, unless
broken and then generaly not improved.
"I have tried a shell hair pin at night, but it falls off when I go
to sleep," I said, in a despondant manner.
We sat for some time, eating caromels and thinking about Leila,
because there was nothing to do with my noze, but Leila was diferent.
"Although," Jane said, "you will never be able to live your own
Life until she is gone, Bab."
"There is Carter Brooks," I suggested. "But he is poor. And anyhow
she is not in Love with him."
"Leila is not one to care about Love," said Jane. "That makes it eazier."
"But whom?" I said. "Whom, Jane?"
We thought and thought, but of course it was hard, for we knew none
of those who filled my sister's life, or sent her flours and so on.
At last I said:
"There must be a way, Jane. THERE MUST BE. And if not, I shall make
one. For I am desparate. The mere thought of going back to school,
when I am as old as at present and engaged also, is madening."
But Jane held out a warning hand.
"Go slow, dearie," she said, in a solemn tone. "Do nothing rash.
Remember this, that she is your sister, and should be hapily
married if at all. Also she needs one with a strong hand to control
her. And such are not easy to find. You must not ruin her Life."
Considering the fatal truth of that, is it any wonder that, on
contemplateing the events that folowed, I am ready to cry, with the
great poet Hood: 1835-1874: whose numerous works we studied during
the spring term:
Alas, I have walked through life
To heedless where I trod;
Nay, helping to trampel my fellow worm,
And fill the burial sod.
If I were to write down all the surging thoughts that filled my
brain this would have to be a Novel instead of a Short Story. And
I am not one who beleives in beginning the life of Letters with a
long work. I think one should start with breif Romanse. For is not
Romanse itself but breif, the thing of an hour, at least to the
Women and girls, having no interest outside their hearts, such as
baseball and hockey and earning saleries, are more likely to hug
Romanse to their breasts, until it is finaly drowned in their tears.
I pass over the next few days, therfore, mearly stating that my
AFFAIRE DE COUER went on rapidly, and that Leila was sulkey AND HAD
NO MALE VISITORS. On the day after the Ball Game Tom took me for a
walk, and in a corner of the park, he took my hand and held it for
quite a while. He said he had never been a hand-holder, but he
guessed it was time to begin. Also he remarked that my noze need
not worry me, as it exactly suited my face and nature.
"How does it suit my nature?" I asked.
"It's--well, it's cute."
"I do not care about being cute, Tom," I said ernestly. "It is a
word I despize."
"Cute means kissible, Bab!" he said, in an ardent manner.
"I don't beleive in kissing."
"Well," he observed, "there is kissing and kissing."
But a nurse with a baby in a perambulater came along just then and
nothing happened worth recording. As soon as she had passed,
however, I mentioned that kissing was all right if one was engaged,
but not otherwise. And he said:
"But we are, aren't we?"
Although understood before, it had now come in full force. I, who
had been but Barbara Archibald before, was now engaged. Could it be
I who heard my voice saying, in a low tone, the "yes" of Destiny?
We then went to the corner drug-store and had some soda, although
forbiden by my Familey because of city water being used. How
strange to me to recall that I had once thought the Clerk
nice-looking, and had even purchaced things there, such as soap and
chocolate, in order to speak a few words to him!
I was engaged, dear Reader, but not yet kissed. Tom came into our
vestabule with me, and would doubtless have done so when no one was
passing, but that George opened the door suddenly.
However, what difference, when we had all the rest of our Lives to
kiss in? Or so I then considered.
Carter Brooks came to dinner that night because his people were out
of town, and I think he noticed that I looked mature and dignafied,
for he stared at me a lot. And father said:
"Bab, you're not eating. Is it possable that that boarding school
hollow of yours is filling up?"
One's Familey is apt to translate one's finest Emotions into terms
of food and drink. Yet could I say that it was my Heart and not my
Stomache that was full? I could not.
During dinner I looked at Leila and wondered how she could be
married off. For until so I would continue to be but a Child, and
not allowed to be engaged or anything. I thought if she would eat
some starches it would help, she being pretty but thin. I therfore
urged her to eat potatos and so on, because of evening dress and
showing her coller bones, but she was quite nasty.
"Eat your dinner," she said in an unfraternal maner, "and stop
watching me. They're MY bones."
"I have no intention of being criticle," I said. "And they are vour
bones, although not a matter to brag about. But I was only
thinking, if you were fater and had a permanant wave put in your
hair, because one of the girls did and it hardly broke off at all"
She then got up and flung down her napkin.
"Mother!" she said. "Am I to stand this sort of thing indefinately?
Because if I am I shall go to France and scrub floors in a Hospitle."
Well, I reflected, that would be almost as good as having her get
married. Besides being a good chance to marry over there, the
unaform being becoming to most, especialy of Leila's tipe.
That night, in the drawing room, while Sis sulked and father was
out and mother was ofering the cook more money to go to the
country, I said to Carter Brooks:
"Why don't you stop hanging round, and make her marry you?"
"I'd like to know what's running about in that mad head of yours,
Bab," he said. "Of course if you say so I'll try, but don't count
to much on it. I don't beleive she'll have me. But why this
So I told him, and he understood perfectly, although I did not say
that I had already plited my troth.
"Of course," he said. "If that fails there is another method of
aranging things, although you may not care to have the Funeral
Baked Meats set fourth to grace the Marriage Table. If she refuses
me, we might become engaged. You and I."
To proposals in one day. Ye gods!
I was obliged therfore to tell him I was already engaged, and he
looked very queer, especialy when I told him to whom it was.
"Pup!" he said, in a manner which I excused because of his natural
feelings at being preceded. "And of course this is the real thing?"
"I am not one to change easily, Carter" I said. "When I give I give
freely. A thing like this, with me, is to Eternaty, and even beyond."
He is usualy most polite, but he got up then and said:
"Well, I'm dammed."
He went away soon after, and left Sis and me to sit alone, not
speaking, because when she is angry she will not speak to me for
days at a time. But I found a Magazine picture of a Duchess in a
nurse's dress and wearing a fringe, which is English for bangs, and
put it on her dressing table.
I felt that this was subtile and would sink in.
The next day Jane came around early.
"There's a sail on down town, Bab," she said. "Don't you want to
begin laying away underclothes for your TROUSEAU? You can't begin
to soon, because it takes such a lot."
I have no wish to reflect on Jane in this story. She meant well.
But she knew I had decided to buy an automobile, saying nothing to
the Familey until to late, when I had learned to drive it and it
could not be returned. Also she knew my Income, which was not
princly although suficient.
But she urged me to take my Check Book and go to the sail.
Now, if I have a weakness, it is for fine under things, with ribbon
of a pale pink and everything maching. Although I spent but
fifty-eight dollars and sixty-five cents on the TROUSEAU that day,
I felt uneasy, especialy as, just afterwards, I saw in a window a
costume for a woman CHAUFFEUR, belted lether coat and leggings,
skirt and lether cap.
I gave a check for it also, and on going home hid my Check Book, as
Hannah was always snooping around and watching how much I spent.
But luckaly we were packing for the country, and she did not find it.
During that evening I reflected about marrying Leila off, as the
Familey was having a dinner and I was sent a tray to my Chamber,
consisting of scrambeled eggs, baked potatos and junket, which
considering that I was engaged and even then colecting my TROUSEAU,
was to juvenile for words.
I decided this: that Leila was my sister and therfore bound to me
by ties of Blood and Relationship. She must not be married to
anyone, therfore, whom she did not love or at least respect. I
would not doom her to be unhappy.
Now I have a qualaty which is well known at school, and frequently
used to obtain holadays and so on. It may be Magnatism, it may be
Will. I have a very strong Will, having as a child had a way of
lying on the floor and kicking my feet if thwarted. In school, by
fixing my eyes ridgidly on the teacher, I have been able to make
her do as I wish, such as not calling on me when unprepared, et cetera.
Full well I know the danger of such a Power, unless used for good.
I now made up my mind to use this Will, or Magnatism, on Leila, she
being unsuspicious at the time and thinking that the thought of
Marriage was her own, and no one else's.
Being still awake when the Familey came upstairs, I went into her
room and experamented while she was taking down her hair.
"Well?" she said at last. "You needn't stare like that. I can't do
my hair this way without a Swich."
"I was merely thinking," I said in a lofty tone.
"Then go and think in bed."
"Does it or does it not concern you as to what I was
thinking?" I demanded.
"It doesn't greatly concern me," she replied, wraping her hair
around a kid curler, "but I darsay I know what it was. It's written
all over you in letters a foot high. You'd like me to get married
and out of the way."
I was exultent yet terrafied at this result of my Experament.
Already! I said to my wildly beating heart. And if thus in five
minutes what in the entire summer?
On returning to my Chamber I spent a pleasant hour planing my
maid-of-honor gown, which I considered might be blue to mach my
eyes, with large pink hat and carrying pink flours.
The next morning father and I breakfasted alone, and I said to him:
"In case of festivaty in the Familey, such as a Wedding, is my
Allowence to cover clothes and so on for it?"
He put down his paper and searched me with a peircing glanse.
Although pleasant after ten A. M. he is not realy paternal in the
early morning, and when Mademoiselle was still with us was quite
hateful to her at times, asking her to be good enough not to jabber
French at him untill evening when he felt stronger.
"Whose Wedding?" he said.
"Well," I said. "You've got to Daughters and we might as well look ahead."
"I intend to have to Daughters," he said, "for some time to come.
And while we're on the subject, Bab, I've got somthing to say to
you. Don't let that romantic head of yours get filled up with
Sweethearts, because you are still a little girl, with all your
airs. If I find any boys mooning around here, I'll--I'll shoot them."
Ye gods! How intracate my life was becoming! I engaged and my
masculine parent convercing in this homacidal manner! I withdrew to
my room and there, when Jane Raleigh came later, told her the
"Only one thing is to be done, Jane," I said, my voice shaking.
"Tom must be warned."
"Call him up," said Jane, "and tell him to keep away."
But this I dare not do.
"Who knows, Jane," I observed, in a forlorn manner, "but that the
telephone is watched? They must suspect. But how? HOW?"
Jane was indeed a FIDUS A CHATES. She went out to the drug store
and telephoned to Tom, being careful not to mention my name,
because of the clerk at the soda fountain listening, saying merely
to keep away from a Certain Person for a time as it was dangerous.
She then merely mentioned the word "revolver" as meaning nothing to
the clerk but a great deal to Tom. She also aranged a meeting in
the Park at 3 P. M. as being the hour when father signed his mail
before going to his Club to play bridge untill dinner.
Our meeting was a sad one. How could it be otherwise, when to
loving Hearts are forbiden to beat as one, or even to meet? And
when one or the other is constantly saying:
"Turn your back. There is some one I know coming!"
"There's the Peters's nurse, and she's the worst talker you ever
heard of." And so on.
At one time Tom would have been allowed to take out their Roadster,
but unfortunately he had been forbiden to do so, owing to having
upset it while taking his Grandmother Gray for an airing, and was
not to drive again until she could walk without cruches.
"Won't your people let you take out a car?" he asked. "Every girl
ought to know how to drive, in case of war or the CHAUFFEUR leaving----"
"----or taking a Grandmother for an airing!" I said coldly. Because
I did not care to be criticized when engaged only a few hours.
However, after we had parted with mutual Protestations, I felt the
desire that every engaged person of the Femanine Sex always feels,
to apear perfect to the one she is engaged to. I therfore
considered whether to ask Smith to teach me to drive one of our
cars or to purchace one of my own, and be responsable to no one if
muddy, or arrested for speeding, or any other Vicissatude.
On the next day Jane and I looked at automobiles, starting with
ones I could not aford so as to clear the air, as Jane said. At
last we found one I could aford. Also its lining matched my
costume, being tan. It was but six hundred dollars, having been
more but turned in by a lady after three hundred miles because she
was of the kind that never learns to drive but loses its head
during an emergency and forgets how to stop, even though a Human
Life be in its path.
The Salesman said that he could tell at a glanse that I was not
that sort, being calm in danger and not likly to chase a chicken
into a fense corner and murder it, as some do when excited.
Jane and I consulted, for buying a car is a serious matter and not
to be done lightly, especialy when one has not consulted one's
Familey and knows not where to keep the car when purchaced. It is
not like a dog, which I have once or twice kept in a clandestine
manner in the Garage, because of flees in the house.
"The trouble is," Jane said, "that if you don't take it some one
will, and you will have to get one that costs more."
True indeed, I reflected, with my Check Book in my hand.
Ah, would that some power had whispered in my ear "No. By
purchacing the above car you are endangering that which lies near
to your Heart and Mind. Be warned in time."
But no sign came. No warning hand was outstretched to put my Check
Book back in my pocket book. I wrote the Check and sealed my doom.
How weak is human nature! It is terrable to remember the rapture of
that moment, and compare it with my condition now, with no
Allowence, with my faith gone and my heart in fragments. And with,
alas, another year of school.
As we were going to the country in but a few days, I aranged to
leave my new Possesion, merely learning to drive it meanwhile, and
having my first lesson the next day.
"Dearest," Jane said as we left. "I am thriled to the depths. The
way you do things is wonderfull. You have no fear, none whatever.
With your father's Revenge hanging over you, and to secrets, you
are calm. Perfectly calm."
"I fear I am reckless, Jane," I said, wistfully. "I am not brave.
I am reckless, and also desparate."
"You poor darling!" she said, in a broken voice. "When I think of
all you are suffering, and then see your smile, my Heart aches for you."
We then went in and had some ice cream soda, which I paid for, Jane
having nothing but a dollar, which she needed for a manacure. I
also bought a key ring for Tom, feeling that he should have
somthing of mine, a token, in exchange for the Frat pin.
I shall pass over lightly the following week, during which the Familey
was packing for the country and all the servants were in a bad humer.
In the mornings I took lessons driving the car, which I called the
Arab, from the well-known song, which we have on the phonograph;
From the Dessert I come to thee,
On my Arab shod with fire.
The instructer had not heard the song, but he said it was a good
name, because very likly no one else would think of having it.
"It sounds like a love song," he observed.
"It is," I replied, and gave him a steady glanse. Because, if one
realy loves, it is silly to deny it.
"Long ways to a Dessert, isn't it?" he inquired.
"A Dessert may be a place, or it may be a thirsty and emty place in
the Soul," I replied. "In my case it is Soul, not terratory."
But I saw that he did not understand.
How few there are who realy understand! How many of us, as I, stand
thirsty in the market place, holding out a cup for a kind word or for
some one who sees below the surface, and recieve nothing but indiference!
On Tuesday the Grays went to their country house, and Tom came over
to say good-bye. Jane had told him he could come, as the Familey
would be out.
The thought of the coming seperation, although but for four days,
caused me deep greif. Although engaged for only a short time,
already I felt how it feels to know that in the vicinaty is some
one dearer than Life itself. I felt I must speak to some one, so I
observed to Hannah that I was most unhappy, but not to ask me why.
I was dressing at the time, and she was hooking me up.
"Unhappy!" she said, "with a thousand dollars a year, and naturaly
curly hair! You ought to be ashamed, Miss Bab."
"What is money, or even hair?" I asked, "when one's Heart aches?"
"I guess it's your stomache and not your Heart," she said. "With
all the candy you eat. If you'd take a dose of magnezia to-night,
Miss Bab, with some orange juice to take the taste away, you'd feel
better right off."
I fled from my chamber.
I have frequently wondered how it would feel to be going down a
staircase, dressed in one's best frock, low neck and no sleaves, to
some loved one lurking below, preferably in evening clothes,
although not necesarily so. To move statuesqly and yet tenderly,
apearing indiferent but inwardly seathing, while below pasionate
eyes looked up as I floated down.
However, Tom had not put on evening dress, his clothes being all
packed. He was taking one of father's cigars as I entered the
library, and he looked very tall and adolesent, although thin. He
turned and seeing me, observed:
"Great Scott, Bab! Why the raiment?"
"For you," I said in a low tone.
"Well, it makes a hit with me all right," he said.
And came toward me.
When Jane Raleigh was first kissed by a member of the Other Sex,
while in a hammick, she said she hated to be kissed until he did
it, and then she liked it. I at the time had considered Jane as
flirtatous and as probably not hating it at all. But now I knew she
was right, for as I saw Tom coming toward me after laying fatther's
cigar on the piano, I felt that I COULD NOT BEAR IT.
And this I must say, here and now. I do not like kissing. Even
then, in that first embrase of to, I was worried because I could
smell the varnish burning on the Piano. I therfore permited but one
salute on the cheek and no more before removing the cigar, which
had burned a large spot.
"Look here," he said, in a stern manner, "are we engaged or aren't
we? Because I'd like to know."
"If you are to demonstrative, no!" I replied, firmly.
"If you call that a kiss, I don't."
"It sounded like one," I said. "I suppose you know more than I do
what is a kiss and what is not. But I'll tell you this--there is no
use keeping our amatory affairs to ourselves and then kissing so
the Butler thinks the fire whistle is blowing."
We then sat down, and I gave him the key ring, which he said was a
dandy. I then told him about getting Sis married and out of the
way. He thought it was a good idea.
"You'll never have a chance as long as she's around," he observed,
smoking father's cigar at intervals. "They're afraid of you, and
that's flat. It's your Eyes. That's what got me, anyhow." He blue
a smoke ring and sat back with his legs crossed. "Funny, isn't it?"
he said. "Here we are, snug as weavils in a cotton thing-un-a-gig,
and only a week ago there was nothing between us but to brick
walls. Hot in here, don't you think?"
"Only a week!" I said. "Tom, I've somthing to tell you. That is the
nice part of being engaged--to tell things that one would otherwise
bury in one's own Bosom. I shall have no secrets from you from
So I told him about the car and how we could drive together in it,
and no one would know it was mine, although I would tell the
Familey later on, when to late to return it. He said little, but
looked at me and kept on smoking, and was not as excited as I had
expected, although interested.
But in the midst of my Narative he rose quickly and observed:
"Bab, I'm poizoned!"
I then perceived that he was pale and hagard. I rose to my feet,
and thinking it might be the cigar, I asked him if he would care
for a peice of chocolate cake to take the taste away. But to my
greif he refused very snappishly and without a Farewell slamed out
of the house, leaving his hat and so forth in the hall.
A bitter night ensued. For I shall admit that terrable thoughts
filled my mind, although how perpetrated I knew not. Would those
who loved me stoop to such depths as to poizon my afianced? And if
The very thought was sickning.
I told Jane the next morning, but she pretended to beleive that the
cigar had been to strong for him, and that I should remember that,
although very good-hearted, he was a mere child. But, if poizon,
she suggested Hannah.
That day, although unerved from anxiety, I took the Arab out alone,
having only Jane with me. Except that once I got into reverce
instead of low geer, and broke a lamp on a Gentleman behind, I had
little or no trouble, although having one or to narrow escapes
owing to putting my foot on the gas throttle instead of the brake.
It was when being backed off the pavment by to Policemen and a man
from a milk wagon, after one of the aforsaid mistakes, that I first
saw he who was to bring such wrechedness to me.
Jane had got out to see how much milk we had spilt--we had struck
the milk wagon--and I was getting out my check book, because the
man was very nasty and insisted on having my name, when I first saw
him. He had stopped and was looking at the gutter, which was full
of milk. Then he looked at me.
"How much damages does he want?" he said in a respectful tone.
"Twenty dollars," I replied, not considering it flirting to merely
reply in this manner.
The Stranger then walked over to the milkman and said:
"A very little spilt milk goes a long way. Five dollars is plenty
for that and you know it."
"How about me getting a stitch in my chin, and having to pay for that?"
I beleive I have not said that the milk man was cut in the chin by
a piece of a bottle.
"Ten, then," said my friend in need.
When it was all over, and I had given two dollars to the old woman
who had been in the milk wagon and was knocked out although only
bruized, I went on, thinking no more about the Stranger, and almost
running into my father, who did not see me.
That afternoon I realized that I must face the state of afairs, and
I added up the Checks I had made out. Ye gods! Of all my Money
there now remaind for the ensuing year but two hundred and twenty
nine dollars and forty five cents.
I now realized that I had been extravagant, having spent so much in
six days. Although I did not regard the Arab as such, because of
saving car fare and half soleing shoes. Nor the TROUSEAU, as one
must have clothing. But facial masage and manacures and candy et
cetera I felt had been wastefull.
At dinner that night mother said:
"Bab, you must get yourself some thin frocks. You have absolutely
nothing. And Hannah says you have bought nothing. After all a
thousand dollars is a thousand dollars. You can have what you ought
to have. Don't be to saving."
"I have not the interest in clothes I once had, mother" I replied.
"If Leila will give me her old things I will use them."
"Bab!" mother said, with a peircing glanse, "go upstairs and bring
down your Check Book."
I turned pale with fright, but father said:
"No, my dear. Suppose we let this thing work itself out. It is
Barbara's money, and she must learn."
That night, when I was in bed and trying to divide $229.45 by 12
months, father came in and sat down on the bed.
"There doesn't happen to be anything you want to say to me, I
suppose, Bab?" he inquired in a gentle tone.
Although not a weeping person, shedding but few tears even when
punished in early years, his kind tone touched my Heart, and made
me lachrymoze. Such must always be the feelings of those who decieve.
But, although bent, I was not yet broken. I therfore wept on in
silence while father patted my back.
"Because," he said, "while I am willing to wait until you are
ready, when things begin to get to thick I want you to know that
I'm around, the same as usual."
He kissed the back of my neck, which was all that was visable, and
went to the door. From there he said, in a low tone:
"And by the way, Bab, I think, since you bought me the Tie, it
would be rather nice to get your mother somthing also. How about
it? Violets, you know, or--or somthing."
Ye gods! Violets at five dollars a hundred. But I agreed. I then
sat up in bed and said:
"Father, what would you say if you knew some one was decieving you?"
"Well," he said, "I am an old Bird and hard to decieve. A good many
people think they can do it, however, and now and then some one
gets away with it."
I felt softened and repentent. Had he but patted me once more, I
would have told all. But he was looking for a match for his cigar,
and the opportunaty passed.
"Well," he said, "close up that active brain of yours for the
night, Bab, and here are to `don'ts' to sleep on. Don't break your
neck in--in any way. You're a reckless young Lady. And don't elope
with the first moony young idiot who wants to hold your hand. There
will quite likly be others."
Others! How heartless! How cynical! Were even those I love best to
worldly to understand a monogamous Nature?
When he had gone out, I rose to hide my Check Book in the crown of
an old hat, away from Hannah. Then I went to the window and glansed
out. There was no moon, but the stars were there as usual, over the
roof of that emty domacile next door, whence all life had fled to
the neighborhood of the Country Club.
But a strange thing caught my eye and transfixed it. There on the
street, looking up at our house, now in the first throes of sleep,
was the Stranger I had seen that afternoon when I had upset the
milk wagon against the Park fense.
I shall now remove the Familey to the country, which is easier on
paper than in the flesh, owing to having to take china, silver,
bedding and edables. Also porch furnature and so on.
Sis acted very queer while we were preparing. She sat in her room
and knited, and was not at home to Callers, although there were not
many owing to summer and every one away. When she would let me in,
which was not often, as she said I made her head ache, I tried to
turn her thoughts to marriage or to nursing at the War, which was
for her own good, since she is of the kind who would never be happy
leading a simple life, but should be married.
But alas for all my hopes. She said, on the day before we left,
while packing her jewel box:
"You might just as well give up trying to get rid of me, Barbara.
Because I do not intend to marry any one."
"Very well, Leila," I said, in a cold tone. "Of course it matters
not to me, because I can be kept in school untill I am thirty, and
never come out or have a good time, and no one will care. But when
you are an old woman and have not employed your natural function of
having children to suport you in Age, don't say I did not warn
"Oh, you'll come out all right," she said, in a brutal manner.
"You'll come out like a sky rocket. You'd be as impossable to
supress as a boil."
Carter Brooks came around that afternoon and we played marbels in
the drawing room with moth balls, as the rug was up. It was while
sitting on the floor eating some candy he had brought that I told
him that there was no use hanging around, as Leila was not going to
marry. He took it bravely, and said that he saw nothing to do but
to wait for some of the younger crowd to grow up, as the older ones
had all refused him.
"By the way," he said. "I thought I saw you running a car the other
day. You were chasing a fox terier when I saw you, but I beleive
the dog escaped."
I looked at him and I saw that, although smiling, he was one who
could be trusted, even to the Grave.
"Carter," I said. "It was I, although when you saw me I know not,
as dogs are always getting in the way."
I then told him about the pony cart, and the Allowence, and saving
car fare. Also that I felt that I should have some pleasure, even
if SUB ROSA, as the expression is. But I told him also that I
disliked decieving my dear parents, who had raised me from infancy
and through meazles, whooping cough and shingles.
"Do you mean to say," he said in an astounded voice, "that you have
BOUGHT that car?"
"I have. And paid for it."
Being surprized he put a moth ball into his mouth, instead of a gum drop.
"Well," he said, "you'll have to tell them. You can't hide it in a
closet, you know, or under the bed."
"And let them take it away? Never."
My tone was firm, and he saw that I meant it, especialy when I
explained that there would be nothing to do in the country, as
mother and Sis would play golf all day, and I was not allowed at
the Club, and that the Devil finds work for idle hands.
"But where in the name of good sense are you going to keep it?" he
inquired, in a wild tone.
"I have been thinking about that," I said. "I may have to buy a
portible Garage and have it set up somwhere."
"Look here," he said, "you give me a little time on this, will you?
I'm not naturaly a quick thinker, and somhow my brain won't take it
all in just yet. I suppose there's no use telling you not to worry,
because you are not the worrying kind."
How little he knew of me, after years of calls and conversation!
Just before he left he said: "Bab, just a word of advise for you.
Pick your Husband, when the time comes, with care. He ought to have
the solidaty of an elephant and the mental agilaty of a flee. But
no imagination, or he'll die a lunatic."
The next day he telephoned and said that he had found a place for
the car in the country, a shed on the Adams' place, which was emty,
as the Adams's were at Lakewood. So that was fixed.
Now my plan about the car was this: Not to go on indefanitely
decieving my parents, but to learn to drive the car as an expert.
Then, when they were about to say that I could not have one as I
would kill myself in the first few hours, to say:
"You wrong me. I have bought a car, and driven it for----days, and
have killed no one, or injured any one beyond bruizes and one
I would then disapear down the drive, returning shortly in the
Arab, which, having been used----days, could not be returned.
All would have gone as aranged had it not been for the fatal
question of Money.
Owing to having run over some broken milk bottles on the ocasion I
have spoken of, I was obliged to buy a new tire at thirty-five
dollars. I also had a bill of eleven dollars for gasoline, and a
fine of ten dollars for speeding, which I paid at once for fear of
a Notice being sent home.
This took fifty-six dollars more, and left me but $183.45 for the
rest of the year, $15.28 a month to dress on and pay all expences.
To add to my troubles mother suddenly became very fussy about my
clothing and insisted that I purchace a new suit, hat and so on,
which cost one hundred dollars and left me on the verge of penury.
Is it surprizing that, becoming desparate, I seized at any straw,
I paid a man five dollars to take the Arab to the country and put
it in the aforsaid shed, afterwards hiding the key under a stone
outside. But, although needing relaxation and pleasure during those
sad days, I did not at first take it out, as I felt that another
tire would ruin me.
Besides, they had the Pony Cart brought every day, and I had to
take it out, pretending enjoyment I could not feel, since acustomed
to forty miles an hour and even more at times.
I at first invited Tom to drive with me in the Cart, thinking that
merely to be together would be pleasure enough. But at last I was
compeled to face the truth. Although protesting devotion until
death, Tom did not care for the Cart, considering it juvenile for
a college man, and also to small for his legs.
But at last he aranged a plan, which was to take the Cart as far as
the shed, leave it there, and take out the car. This we did
frequently, and I taught Tom how to drive it.
I am not one to cry over spilt milk. But I am one to confess when
I have made a mistake. I do not beleive in laying the blame on
Providence when it belongs to the Other Sex, either.
It was on going down to the shed one morning and finding a lamp
gone and another tire hanging in tatters that I learned the Truth.
He who should have guarded my interests with his very Life,
including finances, had been taking the Arab out in the evenings
when I was confined to the bosom of my Familey, and using up
gasoline et cetera besides riding with whom I knew not.
Eighty-three dollars and 45 cents less thirty-five dollars for a
tire and a bill for gasoline in the village of eight dollars left
me, for the balance of the year, but $40.45 or $3.37 a month! And
still a lamp missing.
It was terrable.
I sat on the running board and would have shed tears had I not been
It was while sitting thus, and deciding to return the Frat pin as
costing to much in gasoline and patients, that I percieved Tom
coming down the road. His hand was tied up in a bandige, and his
whole apearance was of one who wishes to be forgiven.
Why, oh, why, must women of my Sex do all the forgiving?
He stood in the doorway so I could see the bandige and would be
sorry for him. But I apeared not to notice him.
"Well?" he said.
I was silent.
"Now look here," he went on, "I'm darned lucky to be here and not
dead, young lady. And if you are going to make a fuss, I'm going
away and join the Ambulance in France."
"They'd better not let you drive a car if they care anything about
it," I said, coldly.
"That's it! Go to it! Give me the Devil, of course. Why should you
care that I have a broken arm, or almost?"
"Well," I said, in a cutting manner, "broken bones mend themselves
and do not have to be taken to a Garage, where they charge by the
hour and loaf most of the time. May I ask, if not to much trouble
to inform me, whom you took out in my car last night? Because I'd like
to send her your pin. I'd go on wearing it, but it's to expencive."
"Oh, very well," he said. He then brought out my key ring, although
unable to take the keys off because of having but one hand. "If
you're as touchy as all that, and don't care for the real story,
I'm through. That's all."
I then began to feel remorceful. I am of a forgiving Nature
naturaly and could not forget that but yesterday he had been tender
and loving, and had let me drive almost half the time. I therfore said:
"If you can explain I will listen. But be breif. I am in no mood
Well, the long and short of it was that I was wrong, and should not
have jumped to conclusions. Because the Gray's house had been
robbed the night before, taking all the silver and Mr. Gray's dress
suit, as well as shirts and so on, and as their CHAUFFEUR had taken
one of the maids out INCOGNITO and gone over a bank, returning at
seven A. M. in a hired hack, there was no way to follow the theif.
So Tom had taken my car and would have caught him, having found Mr.
Gray's trowsers on a fense, although torn, but that he ran into a
tree because of going very fast and skiding.
He would have gone through the wind-shield, but that it was down.
I was by that time mollafied and sorry I had been so angry,
especialy as Tom said:
"Father ofered a hundred dollars reward for his capture, and as you
have been adviseing me to save money, I went after the hundred."
At this thought, that my FIANCEE had endangered his hand and the
rest of his person in order to acquire money for our ultamate
marriage, my anger died.
I therfore submitted to an embrase, and washed the car, which was
covered with mud. as Tom had but one hand and that holding a cigarette.
Now and then, Dear Reader, when not to much worried with finances,
I look back and recall those halycon days when Love had its place
in my life, filling it to the exclusion of even suficient food, and
rendering me immune to the questions of my Familey, who wanted to
know how I spent my time.
Oh, magic eyes of afection, which see the beloved object as
containing all the virtues, including strong features and
intellagence! Oh, dear dead Dreams, when I saw myself going down
the church isle in white satin and Dutchess lace! O Tempora O
What would have happened, I wonder, if father had not discharged
Smith that night for carrying passengers to the Club from the
railway station in our car, charging them fifty cents each and
scraching the varnish with golf clubs?
I know not.
But it gave me the idea that ultamately ruined my dearest hopes.
This was it. If Smith could get fifty cents each for carrying
passengers, why not I? I was unknown to most, having been
expatriated at School for several years. But also there were to
stations, one which the summer people used, and one which was used
by the so-called locals.
I was desparate. Money I must have, whether honestly or not, for
mother had bought me some more things and sent me the bill.
"Because you will not do it yourself," she said. "And I cannot have
it said that we neglect you, Barbara."
The bill was ninety dollars! Ye gods, were they determined to ruin me?
With me to think is to act. I am always like that. I always, alas,
feel that the thing I have thought of is right, and there is no use
arguing about it. This is well known in my Institution of Learning,
where I am called impetuus and even rash.
That night, my Familey being sunk in sweet slumber and untroubled
by finances, I made a large card which said: "For Hire." I had at
first made it "For Higher," but saw that this was wrong and
corected it. Although a natural speller, the best of us make mistakes.
I did not, the next day, confide in my betrothed, knowing that he
would object to my earning Money in any way, unless perhaps in
large amounts, such as the stock market, or, as at present, in
Literature. But being one to do as I make up my mind to, I took the
car to the station, and in three hours made one dollar and a
fifteen cent tip from the Gray's butler, who did not know me as I
wore large gogles.
I was now embarked on a Commercial Enterprize, and happier than for
days. Although having one or to narrow escapes, such as father
getting off the train at my station instead of the other, but
luckily getting a cinder in his eye and unable to see until I drove
away quickly. And one day Carter Brooks got off and found me
changing a tire and very dusty and worried, because a new tube cost
five dollars and so far I had made but six-fifteen.
I did not know he was there until he said:
"Step back and let me do that, Bab."
He was all dressed, but very firm. So I let him and he looked
terrible when finished.
"Now" he said at last, "jump in and take me somewhere near the
Club. And tell me how this happened."
"I am a bankrupt, Carter," I responded in a broken tone. "I have
sold my birthright for a mess of porridge."
"Good heavens!" he said. "You don't mean you've spent the whole business?"
I then got my Check Book from the tool chest, and held it out to
him. Also the unpaid bills. I had but $40.45 in the Bank and owed
$90.00 for the things mother had bought.
"Everything has gone wrong," I admitted. "I love this car, but it
is as much expence as a large familey and does not get better with
age, as a familey does, which grows up and works or gets married.
And Leila is getting to be a Man-hater and acts very strange most
of the time."
Here I almost wept, and probably would have, had he not said:
"Here! Stop that, Or I----" He stopped and then said: "How about
the engagement, Bab? Is it a failure to?"
"We are still plited," I said. "Of course we do not agree about
some things, but the time to fuss is now, I darsay, and not when to
late, with perhaps a large familey and unable to seperate."
"What sort of things?"
"Well," I said, "he thinks that he ought to play around with other
girls so no one will suspect, but he does not like it when I so
much as sit in a hammick with a member of the Other Sex."
"Bab," he said in an ernest tone, "that, in twenty words, is the
whole story of all the troubles between what you call the Sexes.
The only diference between Tommy Gray and me is that I would not
want to play around with any one else if--well, if engaged to
anyone like you. And I feel a lot like looking him up and giving
him a good thrashing."
He paid me fifty cents and a quarter tip, and offered, although
poor, to lend me some Money. But I refused.
"I have made my bed," I said, "and I shall occupy it, Carter. I can
have no companion in misfortune."
It was that night that another house near the Club was robed, and
everything taken, including groceries and a case of champane. The
Summer People got together the next day at the Club and offered a
reward of two hundred dollars, and engaged a night watchman with a
motor-cycle, which I considered silly, as one could hear him coming
when to miles off, and any how he spent most of the time taking the
maids for rides, and broke an arm for one of them.
Jane spent the night with me, and being unable to sleep, owing to
dieting again and having an emty stomache, wakened me at 2 A. M.
and we went to the pantrey together. When going back upstairs with
some cake and canned pairs, we heard a door close below. We both
shreiked, and the Familey got up, but found no one except Leila,
who could not sleep and was out getting some air. They were very
unpleasant, but as Jane observed, families have little or no gratitude.
I come now to the Stranger again.
On the next afternoon, while engaged in a few words with the
station hackman, who said I was taking his trade although not
needing the Money--which was a thing he could not possably
know--while he had a familey and a horse to feed, I saw the Stranger
of the milk wagon, et cetera, emerge from the one-thirty five.
He then looked at a piece of MAUVE NOTE PAPER, and said:
"How much to take me up the Greenfield Road?"
"Where to?" I asked in a pre-emptory manner.
He then looked at a piece of MAUVE NOTE PAPER, and said:
"To a big pine tree at the foot of Oak Hill. Do you know the Place?"
Did I know the Place? Had I not, as a child, rolled and even turned
summersalts down that hill? Was it not on my very ancestrial acres?
It was, indeed.
Although suspicous at once, because of no address but a pine tree,
I said nothing, except merely:
"Suppose we fix it like this," he suggested. "Fifty cents for the
trip and another fifty for going away at once and not hanging
around, and fifty more for forgetting me the moment you leave?"
I had until then worn my gogles, but removing them to wipe my face,
he stared, and then said:
"And another fifty for not running into anything, including milk wagons."
I hesatated. To dollars was to dollars, but I have always been
honest, and above reproach. But what if he was the Theif, and now
about to survey my own Home with a view to entering it
clandestinely? Was I one to assist him under those circumstanses?
However, at that moment I remembered the Reward. With that amount
I could pay everything and start life over again, and even purchace
a few things I needed. For I was allready wearing my TROUSEAU,
having been unable to get any plain every-day garments, and thus
frequently obliged to change a tire in a CREPE DE CHINE petticoat,
I yeilded to the temptation. How could I know that I was sewing my
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