Bertram Cope's Year
Henry Blake Fuller
Part 4 out of 5
Mrs. Phillips was most lively from the start. She praised the house, which
she was seeing for the first time. She extolled Sing-Lo's department, and
Sing-Lo, who delighted in entertainments, was one broad smile. She had a
word of encouragement for his less smiling helper, whom she informally
christened Sing-Hi; and she chatted endlessly with Mrs. Brackett--perhaps
even helped tire her out. Yes, George Pearson was to be urged forward for
the rescue of Bertram Cope.
Pearson spoke up loud and clear among the males. He was a business-man
among business-men, and during the very few moments formally allowed for
the cigars he made himself, as he felt, tell. And after the Bracketts left
--at nine twenty-five--he was easily content to stay on for three-quarters
of an hour longer.
At nine-forty Pearson was saying, amidst the cigarette-smoke of the den:
"Does she expect to teach the violin all her life?"
He was both ironical and impatient. Clearly a charming, delicate creature
like Amy Leffingwell might better decorate the domestic scene of some
gentleman who enjoyed position and prosperity.
"I hope not, indeed," said Hortense, in a deep contralto.
Pearson cast on Hortense a look which rewarded such discernment.
"Of course he has nothing, now," said Randolph, with deliberation. "And he
may be nothing but a poor, underpaid professor all his life."
"No ring--yet," said Hortense, further. Her "yet" meant "not even yet." Her
deep tone was plausibly indignant.
"I'm rather glad of that," remarked Mrs. Phillips, with an eye pretendedly
fixed on the Mexican dolls. "I can't feel that they are altogether suited
to each other."
"He doesn't care for her," pursued Hortense.
"Does she really care for him?" asked Pearson.
No answer. One pair of eyes sought the floor; another searched the ceiling;
a third became altogether subordinate to questioning, high-held brows.
Pearson glanced from one face to another. The doubt as to her "caring"
seemed universal. The doubt that she cared deeply, essentially, was one
that he had brought away from the ball-room. And he went home, at ten
twenty-three, pretty well determined that he would very soon try to change
doubt to certainty.
"Thank you so much," said Mrs. Phillips to Randolph, as he went out with
her and Hortense to put them in the car. "I'm sure we don't want him to be
burdened and miserable; and I'm sure we all do want her to be happy. George
is a lovely, capable chap,--and, really, he has quite a way."
_COPE REGAINS HIS FREEDOM_
On Friday evening Randolph, at home, was glancing now and then at the clock
(as on a previous occasion), while waiting for Cope. At eight-fifteen the
telephone rang; it was Cope, with excuses, as before. He was afraid he
should be unable to come; some unexpected work... It was that autumn
excursion all over again.
Randolph hung up the receiver, with some impatience. Still, never mind; if
Cope would make no effort to save himself, others were making the effort
for him. He had considerable confidence in George Pearson's state of mind,
as well as in George's egoism and drive.
Foster heard of Cope's new delinquency, through Randolph's own reluctant
admission. "He is an ingrate, after all," said Foster savagely, and gave
his wheels an exceptionally violent jerk. And Randolph made little effort,
this time, toward Cope's defense.
"You've done so much for him," Foster went on; "and you're willing to do so
"I _could_ do a great deal, of course. There may be a good reason this
time, too," said Randolph soberly.
"Humph!" returned Foster.
Cope had hung up the receiver to turn toward Lemoyne and to say: "I really
ought to have gone."
"Wait until I can go with you," Lemoyne insisted, as he had been insisting
just before. The still unseen man of Indian Rock was again the subject of
"You've been asked," Cope submitted. "He has been very friendly to me, and
I am sure he would be the same to you."
"I think that, personally, I can get along without him," the other muttered
ungraciously to himself.
Aloud he said: "As I've told you, I've got the president of the dramatic
club to see tonight, and it's high time that I was leaving." He looked with
intention at the desk which had superseded that old table, with ink-stained
cover, at which Cope had once worked. "You can use a little time to
advantage over those themes. I'll be back within an hour."
Lemoyne had entered for Psychology, and was hoping that he now enjoyed the
status necessary for participation in the college theatricals. But he was
relying still more on a sudden defection or lapse which had left the
dramatic club without a necessary actor at a critical time. "It's me, or
postponement," he said; "and I think it's me." The new opportunity--or bare
chance--loomed before him with immensity. Cope's affair might wait. He
would even risk Cope's running over to Randolph's place alone.
Cope seated himself at his desk with loyalty, or at least with docility;
and Lemoyne, putting on his hat and coat, started out for the fraternity
house where the president of the club was in residence.
Five minutes after Lemoyne's departure Cope heard the telephone ringing
downstairs, and presently a patient, middle-aged man knocked at the door
and told him the call was for him.
Cope sighed apprehensively and went down. Of course it was Amy. Would he
not come over for an hour? Everybody was away, and they could have a quiet
Cope, conscious of others in the house, replied cautiously. Lemoyne, he
said, had gone out and left him with a deskful of themes: tiresome routine
work, but necessary, and immensely absorptive of time. He was afraid that
he could scarcely come this evening....
Amy's voice took on a new tone. Why, she seemed to be feeling, must Arthur
Lemoyne be mentioned, and mentioned so early? Yet Bertram had put him--
instinctively, unconsciously--at the head of the little verbal procession
Cope's response was dry and meagre; free speech was impossible over a
lodging-house telephone set in the public hall. Amy, who knew little of
Cope's immediate surroundings at the moment, went on in accents of protest
and of grievance, and Cope went on replying in a half-hushed voice as non-
committally as he was able. He dwelt more and more on the trying details of
his work in words which conveyed no additional information to any fellow-
dwellers who might overhear.
"You haven't been to see me for a week," came Amy's voice petulantly,
"I'm very sorry, I'm sure," returned Cope in a carefully generalized tone
of suavity. It was successful with the spinster in the side room above, but
it was no tone to use with a protesting _fiancee_.
"Why do you neglect me so?" Amy's voice proceeded, with no shade of
"There is no intention of that," replied Cope; "--so far as I know," he
added, for ears about or above.
Again Amy's tone changed. It took on a tang of anger, and also a curious
ring of finality--as if, suddenly, a last resolution had been reached.
"Good night," she said abruptly, and the interview was over.
Cope forgot Randolph, and Lemoyne, and his themes. Lemoyne, returning
within the hour, found him seated at his desk in self-absorbed depression,
his work untouched.
"Well, they've taken me," he began; "and I shall have a fairly good part."
Cope made no effort to respond to the other's glowing self-satisfaction,
but sat with thoughtful, downcast eyes at his desk before the untouched
themes. "What's the matter?" asked Lemoyne. "Has she been calling up
Cope raised his head and gave him a look. Lemoyne saw that his very first
guess had been correct.
"This is a gay life!" he broke out; "just the life I have come down here to
lead. You're making yourself miserable, and you're making me miserable.
It's got to end."
Cope gave him a second woeful glance.
"Write to her, breaking it off," prompted Lemoyne. "Draft a letter
His mind was full of _cliches_ from his reading and his "scripts." He
had heard all the necessary things said: in fact, had said them himself--
now in evening dress, now in hunting costume, now in the loose habiliments
of Pierrot--time and time again. The dissatisfied _fiance_ need but
say that he could not feel, after all, that they were as well suited to
each other as they ought to be, that he could not bring himself to believe
that his feeling for her was what love really should be, and that----
Thus, with a multiplicity of "that's," they accomplished a rough draft
which might be restudied and used on the morrow. "There!" said Lemoyne to
the weary Cope at eleven o'clock; "it ought to have been written a month
Cope languidly slipped the oft-amended sheet under his pile of themes and
in a spent voice suggested bed.
Over night and through the following forenoon the draft lay on his desk.
When he returned to his room at three o'clock a note, which had been
delivered by hand, awaited him. It was from Amy Leffingwell.
Cope read it, folded his arms on his desk, bowed his head on his arms, and,
being alone, gave a half-sob. Then he lifted his head, with face illumined
and soul refreshed. Amy had asked for an end to their engagement.
"What does she say?" asked Lemoyne, an hour later.
"She says what you say!" exclaimed Cope with shining eyes and a trace of
half-hysteric bravado. "She does not feel that we are quite so well suited
to each other as we ought to be, nor that her feeling toward me is what
love really... Can she have been in dramatics too!"
"Your letter," returned Lemoyne, with dignity, "would have been
"Quite so," Cope acknowledged, in a kind of exultant excitation. He caught
the rough draft from his desk--it was all seared with new emendations--tore
it up, and threw the fragments into the waste-basket. "Thank Heaven, I
haven't had to send it!" In a moment, "What am I to write now?" he asked
"The next will be easier," returned Lemoyne, still with dignity.
"It will," replied Cope.
It was,--so much easier that it became but an elegant literary exercise. A
few touches of nobility, a few more of elegiac regret, and it was ready at
nine that night for the letter-box. Cope dropped it in with an iron clang
and walked back to his quarters a free man.
A few days later Lemoyne, working for his new play, met Amy Leffingwell in
the music-alcove of the University library. She had removed her gloves with
their furry wristlets, and he saw that she had a ring on the third finger
of her left hand. Its scintillations made a stirring address to his eye.
Cope heard about the ring that evening, and about Amy Leffingwell's
engagement to George Pearson the next day.
He had no desire to dramatize the scene of Pearson's advance, assault and
victory, nor to visualize the setting up of the monument by which that
victory was commemorated. Lemoyne did it for him.
Pearson had probably indulged in some disparagement of Cope--a phase on
which Lemoyne, as a faithful friend, did not dwell. But he clearly saw
George taking Amy's hand, on which there was still no ring, and declaring
that she should be wearing one before tomorrow night. He figured both
George and Amy as rather glad that Cope had not given one, and as more and
more inclining, with the passage of the days, to the comfortable feeling
that there had never been any real engagement at all.
Lemoyne attempted to put some of his visualizings before Cope, but Cope cut
him short. "Now I will settle down to work on my thesis," he said, "and get
my degree at the June convocation."
"Good," said Lemoyne; "and now I can get my mind on the club." He went to
the window and looked out on the night. The stars were a-glitter. "Let's
take a turn round the block before we turn in."
They spent ten minutes in the clear winter air. As Cope, on their return,
stooped to put his latch-key to use, Lemoyne impulsively threw an arm
across his shoulder. "Everything is all right, now," he said, in a tone of
high gratification; and Urania, through the whole width of her starry
firmament, looked down kindly upon a happier household.
_COPE IN DANGER ANEW_
A similar satisfaction came to prevail in University circles, and in the
lesser circle which Cope had formed outside. His own classroom, after a
week, became a different place. There had been some disposition to take a
facetious view of Cope's adventure. His class had felt him as cool and
rather stiff, and comment would not be stayed. One bright girl thought he
had spoiled a good suit of clothes for nothing. The boys, who knew how much
clothes cost, and how much every suit counted, put their comment on a
different basis. The more serious among them went no further, indeed, than
to say that if a man had found himself making a mistake, the sooner he got
out of it the better. For weeks this affair of Cope's had hung over the
blackboard like a dim tapestry. Now it was gone; and when he tabulated in
chalk the Elizabethan dramatists or the Victorian novelists there was
nothing to prevent his students from seeing them.
Medora Phillips became sympathetic and tender. She let him understand that
she thought he had been unfairly treated. This did not prevent her from
being much kinder to Amy Leffingwell. Amy, earlier, had been so affected by
the general change of tone that, more than once, she had felt prompted to
take herself and her belongings out of the house. But she still lingered
on, as she was likely to do, during a short engagement; and Mrs. Phillips
was now amiability itself to George and Amy both.
Her method of soothing Cope was to take him to the theatre and the opera in
town: he could scarcely come to the house. It was now late in January and
the opera season was near its end. People were tiring of their boxes, or
had started South: it had become almost a work of merit to fill a friend's
box for her. During the last week of the season, Mrs. Phillips was put in
position to do this. She invited Cope, and took along Hortense, and found
in the city itself a married pair who could get to the place and home again
without her help. Lemoyne would have made six, and the third man; but he
was not bidden. Why pack the box? A better effect was made by presenting,
negligently, one empty seat. Lemoyne dressed Cope, however. He had brought
to Churchton the outgrown evening clothes; and Cope, in his exuberance,
bought a new pair of light shoes and white gloves. He looked well as he sat
on the back seat of the limousine with Medora Phillips, during the long
drive in; and he looked well--strikingly, handsomely well--in the box
itself. Indeed, thought Medora, he made other young men in nearby boxes--
young men of "means" and "position"--look almost plebian. "He is charming,"
she said to herself, over and over again.
What about him "took" her? Was it his slenderness, his grace? Was it his
youthfulness, intact to this moment and promising an extension of agreeable
possibilities into an entertaining future? Or was it more largely his
fundamental coolness of tone? Again he was an icicle on the temple--this
time the temple of song. "He is glittering." said Medora, intent on his
blazing blue eyes, his beautiful teeth ever ready for a public smile, and
the luminous backward sweep of his hair; "and he is not soft." She thought
suddenly of Arthur Lemoyne; he, by comparison, seemed like a dark, yielding
On the way into town Medora had had Hortense sit in front with Peter. This
arrangement had enabled her to lay her hand more than once on Cope's, and
to tell him again that he had been rather badly treated, and that Amy, when
you came to it, was a poor slight child who scarcely knew her own mind. "I
hope she had not made a mistake, after all," breathed Medora.
All this soothed Cope. The easy motion of the luxurious car half-hypnotized
him; a scene of unaccustomed splendor and brilliancy lay just ahead... What
wonder that Medora found him scenically gratifying in her box (the dear
creature's titillation made it seem "hers" indeed), and gave his name with
great gusto to the young woman of the notebook and pencil? And the box was
not at the back, but well along to one side, where people could better see
him. Its number, too, was lower; so that, next morning, he was well up in
the list, instead of at the extreme bottom, where two or three of the young
men of means and position found themselves. Some of the girls in his class
read his name, and had no more to say about wet clothes.
Hortense, on the front seat of the car, had had the good sense to say
little and the acumen to listen much. She knew that Cope must "call" soon,
and she knew it would be on some evening when he had been advised that Amy
was not at home. There came, before long, an evening when Amy and George
Pearson went into town for a musical comedy, and Cope walked across once
more to the familiar house.
Hortense was in the drawing-room. She was brilliantly dressed, and her dark
aggressive face wore a look of bravado. In her rich contralto she welcomed
Cope with an initiative which all but crowded her aunt into second place.
Under the very nose of Medora Phillips, whom she breezily seemed to regard
as a chaperon, she brought forward the sketch of Cope in oils, which she
had done partly from observation and partly from memory. She may have had,
too, some slight aid from a photograph,--one which her aunt had wheedled
out of Cope and had missed, on one occasion at least, from her desk in the
library. Hortense now boldly asked his cooperation for finishing her small
Though the "wood-nymphs" of last autumn's legend might indeed be, as he had
broadly said, "a nice enough lot of girls," they really were not all alike
and indistinguishable: one of them at least, as he should learn, had
Hortense wheeled into action.
"The composition is good," she observed, looking at the canvas as it stood
propped against the back of a Chippendale chair; "and, in general, the
values are all right. But----" She glanced from the sketch back to the
subject of it.
Cope started. He recognized himself readily enough. However, he had had no
idea that self-recognition was to be one of the pleasures of his evening.
"----but I shall need you yourself for the final touches--the ones that
will make all the difference."
"It's pretty good as it is," declared Mrs. Phillips, who, privately, was
almost as much surprised as Cope. "When did you get to do it?"
This inquiry, simple as it was, put the canvas in a new light--that of an
icon long cherished as the object of private devotion. Hortense stepped
forward to the chair and made an adjustment of the picture's position: she
had a flush and a frown to conceal. "But never mind," she thought, as she
turned the canvas toward a slightly different light; "if Aunt Medora wants
to help, let her."
She did not reply to her aunt's question. "Retouched from life, and then
framed--who knows?" she asked. Of course it would look immensely better;
would look, in fact, as it was meant to look, as she could make it look.
She told Cope that she had set up a studio near the town square, not far
from the fountain-basin and the elms----
"Which won't count for much at this time of year," interjected her aunt.
"Well, the light is good," returned Hortense, "and the place is quiet; and
if Mr. Cope will drop in two or three times, I think he will end by feeling
that I have done him justice."
"This is a most kind attention," said Cope, slightly at sea. "I ought to be
able to find time some afternoon...."
"Not too late in the afternoon," Hortense cautioned. "The light in February
When Lemoyne heard of this new project he gave Cope a _look_. He had
no concern as to Mrs. Phillips, who was, for him, but a rather dumpy, over-
brisk, little woman of forty-five. If she must run off with Bert every so
often in a motor-car, he could manage to stand it. Besides, he had no
desire to shut Cope--and himself--out of a good house. But the niece,
scarcely twenty-three, was a more serious matter.
"Lookout!" he said to Cope. "Lookout!"
"I can take care of myself," the other replied, rather tartly.
"I wish you could!" retorted Lemoyne, with poignant brevity. "I'll go with
"I'd rather save you near the start, than have to try at the very end."
Cope flung himself out; and he looked in at Hortense's studio--which she
had taken (or borrowed) for a month--before the week was half over.
Hortense had stepped into the shoes of a young gentlewoman who had been
trying photography, and who had rather tired of it. At any rate, she had
had a chance to go to Florida for a month and had seized it. Hortense had
succeeded to her little north skylight, and had rearranged the rest to her
own taste; it was a mingling of order and disorder, of calculation and of
careless chance. She had a Victory of Samothrace and a green-and-gold
dalmatic from some Tuscan town----But why go on?
Cope had not been in this new milieu fifteen minutes before Randolph
Randolph, as a friend of the family, could scarcely be other than persona
grata. Hortense, however, gave him no great welcome. She stopped in the
work that had but been begun. The winter day was none too bright, and the
best of the light would soon be past, she said. The engagement could stand
over. In any event, he was there ("he," of course, meaning Cope), and a
present delay would only add to the total number of his calls. Hortense
began to wipe her brushes and to talk of tea.
"I'll go, I'll go," said Randolph obligingly. "I heard about the new shop
only yesterday, and I wanted to see it. I don't exact that I shall witness
the mysteries in active operation."
Cope's glance asked Randolph to remain.
"There are no mysteries," returned Hortense. "It's just putting on a few
dabs of paint in the right places."
She continued to take a few dabs from her brushes and to talk tea. "Stay
for a sip," she said.
"Very well; thank you," replied Randolph, and wondered how long "a sip"
In the end it meant no longer for him than for Cope; they came away
together. Hortense held Cope for a moment to make a second engagement at an
Randolph had not met Cope for several days, except at the opera, where he
had left his regular Monday evening seat in the parquet to spend a few
moments in Mrs. Phillips' friend's box. He had never seen Cope in evening
dress before; but he found him handsome and distinguished, and some of the
glamour of that high occasion still lingered about the young man as he now
walked through High Street, in his rather shabby tweeds, at Randolph's
Randolph looked back upon his dinner as a complete success: Pearson was
engaged, and Cope was free. He now said to Cope:
"Of course you must know I feel you were none too handsomely treated.
George is a pleasant, enterprising fellow, but somewhat sudden and
rapacious. If he is happy, I hope you are no less happy yourself...." Thus
he resumed the subject which had been dropped at the Library door.
Cope shrank a little, and Randolph felt him shrinking. He fell silent; he
understood. Pain sometimes took its own time to travel, and reached its
goal by a slow, circuitous route. He thought suddenly of his bullfight in
Seville, twenty-five years before. He had sat out his six bulls with entire
composure; yet, back in America, some time later, he had encountered a
bullfight in an early film and had not been able to follow it through.
Cope, perhaps, was beginning to feel the edge of the sword and the drag at
his vitals. The thing was over, and his, the elder man's, own part in it
successfully accomplished; so why had he, conventional commentator, felt
the need of further words?
He let the unhappy matter drop. When he spoke again he reminded Cope that
the invitation for himself and Lemoyne still held good. Amy had been swept
from the stage; but Lemoyne, a figure of doubt, was yet in its background.
"I must have a 'close-up'," Randolph declared to himself, "and find out
what he comes to." Cope had shown some reluctance to meet his advances--a
reluctance which, he felt, was not altogether Cope's own.
"I know we shall be glad to come sometime," replied Cope, with seeming
heartiness. This heartiness may have had its element of the genuine; at any
rate, here was another "good house," from which no one need shut himself
out without good cause. If Lemoyne developed too extreme a reluctance, he
would be reminded that he was cherishing the hope of a position in the
registrar's office, for at least half of the day; also, that Randolph
enjoyed some standing in University circles, and that his brother-in-law
was one of the trustees.
"Yes, indeed," continued Cope, in a further corroboration which might
better have been dispensed with.
"You will be welcome," replied Randolph quietly. He would have preferred a
single assurance to a double one.
_COPE IN DOUBLE DANGER_
Meanwhile Cope and Lemoyne refined daily on the details of their new menage
and applied themselves with new single-mindedness to their respective
interests. Cope had found a subject for his thesis in the great field of
English literature,--or, rather, in a narrow bypath which traversed one of
its corners. The important thing, as he frequently reminded Lemoyne, was
not the thesis itself, but the aid which it might give his future. "It will
make a difference, in salary, of three or four hundred dollars," he
Lemoyne himself gave a few hours a week to Psychology in its humbler
ranges. There were ways to hold the attention of children, and there were
forms of advertising calculated to affect favorably the man who had money
to spend. In addition, the University had found out that he could sing as
well as act, and something had been said about a place for him in a musical
Between-times they brought their quarters into better order; and this
despite numerous minor disputes. The last new picture did not always find
at once its proper place on the wall; and sometimes there were discussions
as to whether it should be toast or rolls, and whether there should be eggs
or not. Occasionally sharp tones and quivering nostrils, but commonly amity
They were seen, or heard of, as going about a great deal together: to
lectures, to restaurants, to entertainments in the city. But they went no
longer, for the present, to Ashburn Avenue; they took their time to
remember Randolph's repeated invitation; and there was, as yet, no further
attendance at the studio in the Square,--for any reference to the
unfinished portrait was likely to produce sharp tones and quivering
Other invitations began to come to Cope,--some of them from people he knew
but slightly. He wondered whether his swoon and his shipwreck really could
have done so much to make him known. Sometimes when these cards seemed to
imply but a simple form of entertainment, at a convenient hour of the late
afternoon, he would attend. It did not occur to him to note that commonly
Medora Phillips was present: she was always in "active circulation," as he
put it; and there he let things lie.
One of these entertainments was an afternoon reception of ordinary type,
and the woman giving it had thrown a smallish library into closer
communication with her drawing-room without troubling to reduce the library
to order: books, pamphlets, magazines lay about in profuse carelessness.
And it was in this library that Cope and Medora Phillips met.
"You've been neglecting me," she said.
"But how can I----?" he began.
"Yes, I know," she returned generously. "But after the first of May--Well,
he is a young man of decisiveness and believes in quick action." She made a
whiff, accompanied by an outward and forward motion of the hands. She was
wafting Amy Leffingwell out of her own house into the new home which George
Pearson was preparing for her. "After that----"
"Yes, after that, of course."
Mrs. Phillips was handling unconsciously a small pamphlet which lay on the
library table. It was a magazine of verse--a monthly which did not scorn
poets because they happened to live in the county in which it was
published. The table of contents was printed on the cover, and the names of
contributors were arranged in order down the right-hand side. Mrs.
Phillips, carelessly running her eye over it while thinking of other
things, was suddenly aware of the name of Carolyn Thorpe.
"What's this?" she asked. She ran her eye across to the other edge of the
cover, and read, "Two Sonnets."
"Well, well," she observed, and turned to the indicated page. And, "When in
the world----?" she asked, and turned back to the cover. It was the latest
issue of the magazine, and but a day or two old.
"Carolyn in print, at last!" she exclaimed. "Why, isn't this splendid!"
Then she returned to the text of the two sonnets and read the first of
them--part of it aloud.
"Well," she gasped; "this is ardent, this is outspoken!"
"That's the fashion among woman poets today," returned Cope, in a matter-
of-fact tone. "They've gone farther and farther, until they hardly realize
how far they _have_ gone. Don't let them disturb you."
Mrs. Phillips reread the closing lines of the first sonnet, and then ran
over the second. "Good heavens!" she exclaimed; "when _I_ was a
"I should say so." She looked from the magazine to Cope. "I wonder who 'the
only begetter' may be."
"Is that quite fair? So many writers think it unjust--and even obtuse and
offensive--if the thing is put on too personal a basis. It's all just an
imagined situation, manipulated artistically...."
Mrs. Phillips looked straight at him. "Bertram Cope, it's _you_!" She
spoke with elation. These sonnets constituted a tribute. Cope, she knew,
had never looked three times, all told, at Carolyn Thorpe; yet here was
Carolyn saying that she...
Cope dropped his eyes and slightly flushed.
"I wonder if she knows it's out?" Mrs. Phillips went on swiftly. "Did you?"
"I?" cried Cope, in dismay.
"You were taking it all so calmly."
"'Calmly'? I don't take it at all! Why should I? And why should you think
there is any ref----?"
"Because I'm so 'obtuse' and 'offensive,' I suppose. Oh, if _I_ could
only write, or paint, or play, or something!"
Cope put his hand wearily to his forehead. The arts were a curse. So were
gifted girls. So were over-appreciative women. He wished he were back home,
smoking a quiet cigarette with Arthur Lemoyne.
Mrs. Ryder came bustling up--Mrs. Ryder, the mathematical lady who had
given the first tea of all.
"I have just heard about Carolyn's poems. What it must be to live in the
midst of talents! And I hear that Hortense has finally taken a studio for
"Yes," replied Mrs. Phillips. "And she"--with a slight emphasis--"is doing
Mr. Cope's picture,"--with another slight emphasis at the end.
Cope felt a half-angry tremor run through him. He was none the less
perturbed because Medora Phillips meant obviously no offense. Hortense and
Carolyn were viewed as but her delegates; they were doing for her what she
would have been glad to be able to do for herself. Clearly, in her mind,
there was not to be another Amy.
Well, that was something, he thought. He laughed uneasily, and gave the
enthusiastic Mrs. Ryder a few details of the art-world (as she called it),
--details which she would not be denied.
"I must call on dear Hortense, some afternoon," she said.
"Do," returned Hortense's aunt. "And mention the place. Let's keep the dear
girl as busy as possible."
"If it were only photographs...." submitted Mrs. Ryder.
"That's a career too," Mrs. Phillips acknowledged.
They all drifted out into the larger room. Mrs. Ryder left them,--perhaps
to distribute her small change of art and literature through the crowd.
"You're not forgetting Hortense?" Mrs. Phillips herself said, before
"By no means," Cope replied.
"I hear you didn't make much of a start."
"We had tea," returned Cope, with satirical intention.
This left Medora Phillips unscathed. "Tea puts on no paint," she observed,
and was lost in the press.
It need not be assumed that knowledge of Carolyn Thorpe's verse gained wide
currency through University circles, but there was a copy of the magazine
in the University library. Lemoyne saw it there. He scarcely knew whether
to be pleased or vexed. Finally he decided that there was safety in
numbers. If Cope really intended to go to that studio, it was just as well
that there should be an impassioned poetess in the background. And it was
just as well that Cope should know she was there. Lemoyne took a line not
unlike Mrs. Phillips' own.
"I only wish there were more of them," he declared, looking up from his
desk. "I'd like a lady barber for your head, a lady shoemaker for your
feet, a lady psychologist for your soul----"
"Stop it!" cried Cope. "I've had about all I can stand. If you want to live
in peace, as you sometimes say, do your share to keep the peace."
"You _are_ going to have another sitting?"
"I am. How can I get out of it?"
"You don't want to get out of it."
"Well, after all the attentions they've shown us----"
"Me, then. Shall I be so uncivil as to hold back?"
"It might not displease her if you did."
"Your Mrs. Phillips. If I may risk a guess------"
"You may not. Your precious 'psychology' can wait. Don't be in such a
damned hurry to use it."
"It had better be used in time."
"It had better not be used at all. Drop it. Think about your new play, or
"Oh, the devil!" sighed Lemoyne. "Winnebago seems mighty far off. We got on
there, at least." He bent again over his desk.
Cope put down his book and came across. There were tears, perhaps, in his
eyes--the moisture of vexation, or of contrition, or of both. "We can get
along here, too," he said, with an arm around Lemoyne's shoulder.
"Let's hope so," returned Lemoyne, softening, with his hand pressed on
_COPE AS A GO-BETWEEN_
This brief exchange might have passed for a quarrel and a reconciliation;
and the reconciliation seemed to call for a seal. That was soon set by
another of Randolph's patient invitations to dinner.
"Let's go," said Cope; "I've got to go again--sometime."
"I don't care about it, very much," replied Lemoyne.
"If you want any help of his toward a position.... Time's passing. And a
man can't be expected to bestir himself much for another man he's never
"All right. I'll go with you."
Randolph was glad to see Cope again, whom he had not met since the half
hour in Hortense Dunton's studio. He was also glad to secure, finally, a
close and leisurely look at Lemoyne. Lemoyne took the same occasion for a
close and leisurely look at Randolph. Each viewed the other with dislike
and distrust. Each spoke, so far as might be, to Cope--or through him.
Sing-Lo, who was prepared to smile, saw few smiles elsewhere, and became
sedate, even glum.
Randolph felt a physical distaste for Lemoyne. His dark eyes were too
liquid; his person was too plump; the bit of black bristle beneath his nose
was an offense; his aura----Yet who can say anything definite about so
indefinite a thing as an aura, save that one feels it and is attracted or
repelled by it? Lemoyne, on his side, developed an equal distaste (or
repugnance) for the "little gray man"--as he called Randolph to himself
and, later, even to Cope; though Randolph, speaking justly, was exactly
neither gray nor little. Lemoyne noted, too, the early banishment of
Randolph's eyeglasses, which disappeared as they had disappeared once or
twice before. He felt that Randolph was trying to stay young rather late,
and was showing himself inclined to "go" with younger men longer than they
would welcome him. Why didn't he consort with people of his own age and
kind? He was old; so why couldn't he _be_ old?
The talk led--through Cope--to reminiscences of life in Winnebago. Randolph
presently began to feel Lemoyne as a variously yet equivocally gifted young
fellow--one so curiously endowed as to be of no use to his own people, and
of no avail for any career they were able to offer him. A bundle of minor
talents; a possible delight to casual acquaintances, but an exasperation to
his own household; an ornamental skimmer over life's surfaces, when not a
false fire for other young voyagers along life's coasts. Yet Bertram Cope
admired him and had become absorbed in him. Their life in that northern
town, with its fringe of interests--educational, ecclesiastical, artistic
and aquatic--had been intimate, fused to a degree. Randolph began to
realize, for the first time, the difficulties in the way of "cultivating"
Cope. Cope was a field already occupied, a niche already filled.
While Randolph was gathering (through Cope) details of the life in
Winnebago, Lemoyne was gathering (through Cope) details of the life in
Churchton during the past autumn. He began to reconstruct that season: the
long range of social entertainments, the proposed fall excursions, the
sudden shifting of domicile. Randolph, it was clear, had tried to
appropriate Cope and to supplant (knowingly or unknowingly) Cope's closest
friend. Lemoyne became impatient over the fact that he was now sitting at
Randolph's table. However, if Randolph could help him to a place and a
salary, that would make some amends.
Presently Cope, having served as an intermediary, became the open centre of
interest. His thesis was brought forward as a suitable subject of inquiry
and comment. It was a relief to have come to a final decision; but no
relief was in sight for a long time from the slavery of close reading.
Every moment that could be spared from his classroom was given up to books
--authors in whom he might be interested or not interested, but who must be
"A sort of academic convention," said Cope, rather wanly; "but a necessary
His eyes had begun to show excessive application; at least they looked
tired and dim. His color, too, was paler. He had come to suggest again the
young man who had been picked up from Medora Phillips' dining-room floor
and laid out on the couch in her library, and who had shown a good deal of
pallor during the few days that followed. "Take a little more air and
exercise," Randolph counselled.
"A good rule always, for everybody," said Lemoyne, with a withholding of
all tone and expression.
"I believe," Randolph continued, "that you are losing in both weight and
color. That would be no advantage to yourself--and it might complicate Miss
Dunton's problem. It's perplexing to an artist when one's subject changes
under one's very eye."
"There won't be much time for sitting, from now on," observed Lemoyne
"I might try to go round once more," said Cope, "--in fairness. If there
are to be higher lights on my cheekbones and lower lights for my eyes, an
hour or so should serve to settle it."
"I wouldn't introduce many changes into my eyes and cheekbones, if I were
you," said Randolph. Lemoyne was displeased; he thought that Randolph was
taking advantage of his position as host to make an observation of
unwarranted saliency, and he frowned at his plate.
Cope flushed, and looked at his.
The talk drifted toward dramatics, with Winnebago once more the background;
but the foreground was occupied by a new musical comedy which one of the
clubs might try in another month, and the tone became more cheery. Sing-Lo,
who had come in with a maple mousse of his own making, smiled at last; and
he smiled still more widely when, at the end of the course, his chief
occidental masterpiece was praised. Sing-Lo also provided coffee and cigars
in the den; and it was here that Cope felt the atmosphere right for
venturing a word in behalf of Lemoyne. There had been few signs of
relenting in Winnebago; and some modest source of income would be welcome--
in fact, was almost necessary.
"Of course work _is_ increasing in the offices," said Randolph,
looking from one young man to the other; "and of course I have, directly or
indirectly, some slight 'influence.'"
He felt no promptings to lend Lemoyne a hand; yet Cope himself, even if out
of reach, might at least remain an object of continuing kindness.
"But if you are to interest yourself in some new undertaking by 'The
Grayfriars,'" he said to Lemoyne, "will you have much time and attention to
give to office-work?"
"Oh, I have time," replied Lemoyne jauntily, "and not many studies. Half a
day of routine work, I thought.... Of course I'm not a manager, or
director, or anything like that. I should just have a part of moderate
importance, and should have only to give good heed to rehearsals...."
"Well," said Randolph thoughtfully.
"I hope you can do something," put in Cope, with fervor.
"Well," said Randolph again.
This uncomfortable and unsatisfactory dinner of three presently drew to its
end. "I'd have made it four," said Randolph to Foster, a day or two later,
"if I'd only thought of it in time."
"_I_ don't want to meet them again," returned Foster quickly.
"Well," said Randolph, "I've no fondness for the new fellow, myself;
"And I don't care about the other, either."
Randolph sighed. This was plainly one of Foster's off days. The only wonder
was he had not more of them. He sat in darkness, with few diversions,
occupations, ameliorations. His mind churned mightily on the scanty
materials that came his way. He founded big guesses on nothings; he raised
vast speculative edifices on the slightest of premises. To dislike a man he
could not even see! Well, the blind--and the half-blind--had their own
intuitions and followed their own procedures.
"Then you wouldn't advise me to speak a word for him?--for them?"
"Certainly not!" rejoined Foster, with all promptness. "They've treated you
badly. They've put you off; and they came, finally, only because they
counted on getting something out of you.
"Oh, I wouldn't say that of Cope."
"I would. And I do. They're completely wrapped up in their own interests,
and in each other; and they're coupled to get anything they can out of
Number Three. Or out of Number Four. Or Five. Or out of X,--the world, that
is to say."
Randolph shrugged. This was one of Foster's bad days indeed.
"And what's this I hear about Hortense?" asked Foster, with bitterness.
"That won't amount to much."
"It won't? She's out in the open, finally. She took that place for a month
with one express object--to get him there, paint or no paint. She's fretful
and cantankerous over every day of delay, and soon she'll be in an
"What does her aunt say to it?"
"She's beginning to be vexed. She's losing patience. She thinks it's a
mistake--and an immodest one. She wants to send her away for a visit. To
think of it!--as soon as one girl lets go another takes hold,--and a third
person holds on through all!"
But Foster was not to be stayed.
"And that poetry of Carolyn's! Medora herself came up and read it to me. It
was a 'tribute,' she thought!"
"That won't amount to anything at all."
"It won't? With Hortense scornfully ridiculing it, and Carolyn bursting
into tears before she can make her bolt from the room, and Amy wondering
whether, after all...! If things are as bad as they are for me up here, how
much worse must they be for the rest of them below! And that confounded
engagement has made it still worse all round!"
Randolph ran his palms over his perplexed temples. "Whose?"
"Whose? No wonder you ask! Engagements, then."
"When are they going to be married?"
"The first week in May, I hear. But Pearson is trying for the middle of
April. His flat is taken." Foster writhed in his chair.
"Why do they care for him?" he burst out. "He's nothing in himself. And he
cares nothing for them. And he cares nothing for you," Foster added boldly.
"All he has thought for is that fellow from up north."
"Don't ask me why they care," replied Randolph, with studied sobriety. "Why
does anybody care? And for what? For the thing that is just out of reach.
He's cool; he's selfish; he's indifferent. Yet, somehow, frost and fire
join end to end and make the circle complete." He fell into reflection.
"It's all like children straining upward for an icicle, and presently
slipping, with cracked pates, on the ice below."
"Well, _my_ pate isn't cracked."
"Unless it's the worst cracked of all."
Foster tore off his shade and threw it on the floor. "Mine?" he cried.
"Look to your own!"
"Joe!" said Randolph, rising. "That won't quite do!"
"Be a fool along with the others, if you will!" retorted Foster. "Oh!" he
went on, "Haven't I seen it all? Haven't I felt it all? You, Basil
Randolph, mind your own ways too!"
Randolph thought of words, but held his tongue. Words led to other words,
and he might soon find himself involved in what would seem like a defense--
an attitude which he did not relish, a course of which he did not
acknowledge the need. "Poor Joe!" he thought; "sitting too much by himself
and following over-closely the art of putting things together--anyhow!" Joe
Foster must have more company and different things to consider. What large
standard work--what history, biography, or bulky mass of memoirs in from
four to eight volumes--would be the best to begin on before the winter
should be too far spent?
Four or five days later, Randolph wrote to Cope that there was a good
prospect for a small position in the administration offices of the
University, and a week later Lemoyne was in that position. Cope, who
recognized Randolph's handling of the matter as a personal favor, replied
in a tone of some warmth. "He's really a very decent fellow, after all,--of
course he is," pronounced Randolph. Lemoyne himself wrote more tardily and
more coolly. He was taking time from his Psychology and from "The Antics of
Annabella," it appeared, to acquaint himself with the routine of his new
position. Randolph shrugged: he must wait to see which of the three
interests would be held the most important.
_COPE ESCAPES A SNARE_
Lemoyne's first week in his new berth held him rather close, and Cope was
able to move about with less need of accounting for his every hour. One of
his first concerns was to get over his sitting with Hortense Dunton. His
"sitting," he said: it was to be the first, the only and the last.
He came into her place with a show of confidence, a kind of blustery
bonhomie. "I give you an hour from my treadmill," he declared brightly. "So
many books, and such dry ones!"
Hortense, who had been moping, brightened too. "I thought you had forgotten
me," she said chidingly. Yet her tone had less acerbity than that which she
had employed, but a few moments before, to address him in his absence. For
she often had in mind, at intervals longer or shorter, Cope's improvisation
about the Sassafras--too truly that dense-minded shrub had failed to
understand the "young ladies" and their "needs."
"My thesis," he said. "From now on, it must take a lot of my thought and
every moment of my spare time." He looked at the waiting canvas. "Clinch it
to-day. Hurry it through."
He spoke with a factitious vivacity which almost gave a sense of chill. She
looked at him with a shade of dissatisfaction and discomfort.
"What! must it all be done in a drive?" she asked.
"By no means. Watch me relax. Is that my chair? See me drop into complete
physical and mental passivity--the _kef_ of the Arabs."
He mounted the model-throne, sank into the wide chair, and placed his hands
luxuriously on its arms. His general pose mattered little: she had not gone
beyond his head and shoulders.
Hortense stared. Would he push her on the moment into the right mood? Would
he have her call into instant readiness her colors and brushes? Why, even a
modest amateur must be allowed her minutes of preparation and approach.
"Passivity?" she repeated, beginning to get under way. "Shall I find you
very entertaining in that condition?"
"Entertaining? Me, the sitter? Why, I've always heard it was an important
part of a portrait-painter's work to keep the subject interested and
He smiled in his cold, distant way. The north light cut across the
forehead, nose and chin which made his priceless profile. The canvas
itself, done on theory in a lesser light, looked dull and lifeless.
Hortense felt this herself. She did not see how she was going to key it up
in a single hour. As she considered among her brushes and tubes, she began
to feel nervous, and her temper stirred.
"You have a great capacity for being interested and amused," she said.
"Most men are like you. Especially young ones. They are amused, diverted,
entertained--and there it ends."
Cope felt the prick. "Well, we are bidden," he said; "and we come. Too many
of us have little to offer in return, except appreciation and goodwill. How
better appreciate such kindness as Mrs. Phillips' than by gratefully
accepting more of it?" (Stilted copy-book talk; and he knew it.)
"You haven't been accepting much of it lately," she returned, feeling the
point of a new brush. She spoke with the consciousness of empty evenings
that might have been full.
"Hardly," he replied. And he felt that this one word sufficed.
"Well, the coast will be clear after the twentieth of April."
"That is the date, then, is it?" The more he thought of the impending
ceremony, the more grateful he was for his escape. Thankfulness had salved
the earlier wound; no pain now came from his touching it.
"Yes; on that day the house will see the last of them."
"The wedding, then, will----?"
"Yes. Aunt Medora says, 'Why go to Iowa?--you're at home here.' Why,
indeed, drag George away out to Fort Lodge? Let her own people, who are not
many, come to us. Aunt will do everything, and do it handsomely."
She slanted her palette and looked toward the skylight. Cope's own glance
swept non-committally the green burlap walls. Both of them were seeing
pictures of the wedding preparations. Hortense saw delivery-boys at the
front door, with things that must be held to the light or draped over
chairs. She saw George haling Amy to the furniture-shops and to the dealers
in wall-paper. She saw them in cosy shaded confab evening after evening, in
her aunt's library. It was a period of joy, of self-absorption, of
unsettlement, of longing, of irritation, of exasperation--oh, would it
never end! Cope saw a long string of gifts and entertainments, a diamond
engagement-ring, a lavishly-furnished apartment ... How in the world could
he himself have compassed all this? And how blessed was he among men that
he had not been obliged to try!
Hortense went through some motions with her brush, yet seemed to be looking
beyond him rather than at him.
"There will be a bridal-trip of a week or so," she concluded; "and they
will be in their new home on the first of May."
"Very good," said Cope. He thought he was thinking to himself, but he spoke
aloud. "And that ends it." This last he really did say to himself.
He sank more comfortably into his chair, kept his face properly immobile,
and spoke no further word. Hortense brought back her gaze to focus and
worked on for a little time in silence. The light was good, her palette was
full, her brushes were well-chosen, her eyes were intent on his face. It
was a handsome face, displayed to the best advantage. She might look as
long as she liked, and a long look preceded every stroke.
Presently she paused, opening her eyes wider and holding aloft her brush.
"There will be a bride's-maid," she said.
"The deuce!" he thought. "That didn't end it!" But he said no thing aloud.
"Why, how should _I_----?"
"Guess!" she cried peremptorily, in a tone of bitter derision. "You won't?
Well, it's Carolyn--our poor, silly Carolyn! And what do you suppose she
has started in to do? She is writing an epitha--an epithal----"
"----amium," contributed Cope. "An epithala-mium."
"Yes, an epithala-mium!" repeated Hortense, with an outburst of jarring
laughter. "Isn't she absurd! Isn't she ridiculous!"
"Is she? Why, it seems to me a delicate attention, a very sweet thought."
If Carolyn could make anything out of Amy--and of George--why, let her do
"You _like_ her poetry!" cried Hortense in a high, strained voice.
"You enjoy her epithalamiums, and her--sonnets...."
Cope flushed and began to grow impatient. "She is a sweet girl," he said;
"and if she wishes to write verse she is quite within her rights."
"'Sweet'! There you go again! 'Sweet'--twice. She ought to know!"
"Perhaps she does know. Everybody else knows."
"And perhaps she doesn't!" cried Hortense. "Tell her! Tell her!"
Cope stared. "She is a sweet girl," he repeated; "and she has been filling
very discreetly a somewhat difficult position----"
He knew something of the suppressed bitterness which, in subordinate
places, was often the lot of the pen. He found himself preferring, just
here, "pen" to "typewriter": he would give Carolyn a touch of idealization
--though she had afflicted him with a heavy stroke of embarrassment.
"'Difficult position'?" shrilled Hortense. "With Aunt Medora the very soul
of kindness? I like that! Well, if you want to rescue her from her
difficult position, do it. If you admire her--and love her--tell her so!
_She'll_ be grateful--just read those sonnets over again!"
Hortense dropped her palette and brushes and burst into outrageous tears.
Cope sat bolt upright in that spacious chair. "Tell her? I have nothing to
tell her. I have nothing to tell anyone!"
His resonant words cut the air. They uttered decision. He did not mean to
make the same mistake twice.
Hortense drew across her eyes an apron redolent of turpentine and stepped
toward the throne.
"Nothing? Why this sudden refuge in silence?" she asked, almost
truculently, even if tremulously. "You usually find enough words--even
though they mean little."
"I'm afraid I do," he admitted cautiously.
"You have nothing to tell anyone? Nothing to tell--me?"
Cope rose. "Nothing to tell anyone," he repeated. "Noth-ing."
"Then let me tell you something." There was an angry thrill in her voice.
"For I am not so selfish and cold-hearted as you are. I have seen nobody
but you all these months. I have never tried harder to please anybody. You
have scarcely noticed me--you have never given me a glance or a thought.
You could interest yourself in that silly Amy and in our foolish Carolyn;
but for me--me--Nothing!"
Cope came down from the throne. If she had lavished her maiden thoughts on
him, by day or evening or at night, he had not known and could hardly be
supposed to know. Indeed, she had begun by treating him with a cursory
roughness; nor had he noticed any great softening later on.
"Listen," he said. Under the stress of embarrassment and alarm his cold
blue eyes grew colder and his delicate nostrils quivered with an effect a
little too like disdain. "I like you as well as another; no more, no less.
I am in no position to think of love and marriage, and I have no
inclination that way. I am willing to be friends with everybody, and
nothing more with anybody." The sentences came with the cruel detachment of
bullets; but, "Not again, not twice," was his uppermost thought. Any
bluntness, any ruggedness, rather than another month like that of the past
He took a step away and looked to one side, toward the couch where his hat
and coat were lying.
"Go, if you will," she said. "And go as soon as you like. You are a
contemptible, cold-hearted ingrate. You have grudged me every minute of
your company, everywhere--and every second you have given me here. If I
have been foolish it is over now, and there shall be nothing to record my
folly." She stepped to the easel and hurled the canvas to the floor, where
it lay with palette and brushes.
Cope stood with his hat in his hand and his coat over his arm. He seemed to
see the open volume of some "printed play." After all, there was a type
which, even under emotional stress, gave a measure of instinctive heed to
structure and cadence. Well, if there was relief for her in words, he could
stand to hear her speak for a moment or two more, not longer.
"One word yet," she said in a panting voice. "Your Arthur Lemoyne. That
preposterous friendship cannot go on for long. You will tire of him; or
more likely he will tire of you. Something different, something better will
be needed,--and you will live to learn so. I should be glad if I never saw
either one of you again!"
She turned her stormy face away, and Cope slipped out with a blended sense
of mortification, pain and relief.
_COPE ABSENT FROM A WEDDING_
Cope went out on the square with his being a-tingle. If Hortense, on
another occasion, had thrown a dash of brine, on this occasion she had
rubbed in the salt itself. And he had struck a harsh blow in turn; the flat
of his mind was still stinging, as if half the shock of the blow had
remained behind. "But it was no time for half-measures," he muttered to
himself. "Not again; not twice!" he repeated.
Hortense remained for several days in a condition of sullen anger--she was
a cloud lit up by occasional unaccountable flashes of temper. "Whatever in
the world is the matter with her?" asked her aunt in more directions than
one. And Amy Leffingwell, blissfully busy over her little trousseau and her
selection of china-patterns, protested and opened wide, inquiring blue eyes
against the intrusion of such a spirit at such a joyous time.
But Hortense, though better days intervened now and then, did not improve
essentially; and she contrived at the climacteric moment of Amy's career to
make herself felt--unduly felt--after all.
The wedding took place during the latter half of April, as demanded by the
enterprising wooer. Then there would be a rapid ten-day wedding-journey,
followed by a prompt, business-like occupancy of the new apartment on the
first of May exactly.
Pearson's parents prepared to welcome Amy handsomely; and her own people--
some of them--came on from Iowa to attend the ceremony. There was her
mother, who had been rather disconcerted by the sudden shift, but who was
satisfied with George Pearson the moment she saw him, and who found him
even more vivid and agreeable than Amy's photograph of him had led her to
expect. There was the aunt, who had lived a bare, starved life, and who
luxuriated, along with her sister, in the splendor of the Louis Quinze
chamber. And there was a friendly, wide-awake brother of fourteen who was
tucked away in the chintz room up stairs, whence he issued to fraternize in
the ball-room with Joe Foster, whose exacerbated spirit he did much to
This young brother was alert, cheery, chatty. He was not at all put out by
Foster's wheeled chair and eyeshade, nor by the strange contortions which
Foster went through when, on occasion, he left the chair for a couch or for
some chair of ordinary type. He got behind the wheels, and together they
made the tour of the landscapes, marines, and genre-pieces which covered
the walls. The boy was sympathetic, without being obtrusively so, and his
comments on the paintings were confident and unconventional. "So different
from _ce cher_ Pelouse," said Foster, with a grimace. He enjoyed
immensely the fragmental half-hours given him through those two days. His
young companion was lavish in his reports on life's vast vicissitudes at
Fort Lodge, and was always ready with comparisons between things as
observed in his home town and in Churchton itself. He came as a tonic
breeze; and the evening after he departed, Foster, left moping alone in the
let-down which followed the festivities, said to himself more than once,
"If I had had a boy, I should have wanted him just like Dick."
Dick's mother and aunt stood up as well as they could against the bustling,
emphatic geniality of Medora Phillips; and they were able, after a little,
to adjust themselves to the prosperity of the Pearsons. These, they came to
feel, were essentially of the same origin and traditions as themselves:
just plain people who, however, had settled on the edge of the Big Town to
make money and had made it. Pearson the elder was hardly more prepotent
than Mr. Lusk, the banker at home. George himself was a dashing go-ahead:
if he turned into a tired business-man his wife would know how to divert
Medora Phillips provided rice. Also she satisfied herself as to where, if
the newer taste were not too delicate, she could put her hand on an old
shoe. She was happy to have married off Amy; she would be still happier
once Amy got away. More room would be left for other young people. By
"other young people" she meant, of course, certain young men. By "certain
young men" she thought she meant Cope and Lemoyne. Of course she meant Cope
"If Carolyn keeps amiable and if Hortense contrives to regain her good-
nature, we may have some pleasant days yet," she mused.
But Hortense did not regain her good-nature; she did not even maintain her
self-control. In the end, the ceremony was too much for her. George and Amy
had plighted their troth in a floral bower, which ordinarily was a bay
window, before a minister of a denomination which did not countenance robes
nor a ritual lifted beyond the chances of wayward improvisation; and after
a brief reception the new couple prepared for the motor-car dash which was
to take them to a late train. In the big wide hallway, after Amy had kissed
Carolyn and thanked her for her poem and was preparing for the shower of
rice which she had every reason to think she must face, there was a burst
of hysterical laughter from somewhere behind, and Hortense Dunton, to the
sufficing words, "O Bertram, Bertram!" emitted with sufficing clearness,
Her words, if not heard by all the company, were heard by a few to whom
they mattered; and while Hortense, immediately after the departure of the
happy pair, was being revived and led away, they left occasion for thought.
Carolyn Thorpe cast a startled glance. The aunt from Iowa, who knew that
Bertrams did not grow on every bush, and whose senses the function had
preternaturally sharpened for any address from Romance, seized and shook
her sister's arm; and, later on, in a Louis Quinze _causeuse_, up
stairs, they agreed that if young Cope really had had another claimant on
his attention, it was all the better that their Amy had ended by taking
George. And Medora Phillips, in the front hall itself----
Well, to Medora Phillips, in the front hall, much was revealed as in a
lightning-flash, and the revelation was far from agreeable. What advantage
in Amy's departure if Hortense continued to cumber the ground? Hortense
must go off somewhere, for a sojourn of a month or more, to recover her
health and spirits and to let the house recover its accustomed tone of
Medora forced these considerations to the back of her mind and saw most of
her guests out of the house. Toward the end of it all she found herself
relaxing in the library, with Basil Randolph in the opposite chair.
Randolph himself had figured in the ceremony. This had been a crude
imitation of a time-hallowed form and had allowed for an extemporaneous
prayer and for a brief address to the young couple; but it had retained the
familiar inquiry, "Who giveth--?" "Who _can_ give?" asked Medora of
Amy. Poor Joe was rather out of the question, and Brother Dick was four or
five years too young. Was there, then, anyone really available except that
kind Mr. Randolph? So Basil Randolph, after remembering Amy with a rich and
handsome present, had taken on a paternal air, had stepped forward at the
right moment, and was now recovering from his novel experience.
The two, as they sat there, said little, though they looked at each other
with half-veiled, questioning glances. Medora, indeed, improvised a little
stretch of silent dialogue, and it made him take his share. She felt
dislocated, almost defeated. Hortense's performance had set her to thinking
of Bertram Cope, and she figured the same topic as uppermost in the mind of
"Well, you have about beaten me," she said.
"How so?" she made him ask, with an affectation of simplicity.
"You know well enough," she returned. "You have played off the whole
University against my poor house, and you have won. Your influence with the
president, your brother on the board of trustees ... If Bertram Cope has
any gratitude in his composition...."
"Oh, well," she let him say, "I don't feel that I did much; and I'm not
sure I'm glad for what I did do."
"You may regret it, of course. That other man is an uncertain quantity."
"Oh, come," he said; "you've had the inside track from the very start: this
house and everything in it...."
"You have a house of your own, now."
"Your dinners and entertainments...."
"You have your own dinner-table."
"Your limousine, your chauffeur,--running to the opera and heaven knows
"Taxis can always be had. Yes," she went on, "you have held the advantage
over a poor woman cooped up in her own house. While I have had to stick
here, attending to my housekeeping, you have been careering about
everywhere,--you with a lot of partners and clerks in your office, and no
compulsion to look in more than two or three times a week. Of _course_
you can run to theatres and clubs. I wonder they don't dispense with you
"There's the advantage of a business arranged to run itself--so far as
_I_ am concerned."
"Yes, you have had the world to range through: shows and restaurants; the
whole big city; strolls and excursions, and who knows what beside...."
Thus Medora Phillips continued silently, and with no exact sense of
justice, to work up her grievance. Presently she surprised Randolph with a
positive frown. She had made a quick, darting return to Hortense.
"I shall send her away," she said aloud. The girl might join her studio
friend, who had stopped at Asheville on her way North, and stay with her
for a few weeks. Yes, Hortense might go and meet the spring--or even the
summer, if that must be. The spring here in town she herself would take as
it came. "I shall welcome a few free, easy breaths after this past
fortnight," she finished audibly.
Randolph squared himself with her mood as best he could. "You are tired and
nervous," he said with banality. "Get the last of us out and go to bed.
I'll lead the way, and will give these loiterers as marked an example as
Medora Phillips hushed down her house finally and went thoughtfully up
stairs to her room. Amy had gone off, and Hortense was sentenced to go.
There remained only Carolyn. Was there any threat in her and her sonnets?
_COPE AGAIN IN THE COUNTRY_
Medora treated Hortense to a few cautious soundings, decided
that another locale was the thing to do her good, and sent
her South forthwith.
"It's a low latitude," she said to herself; "but it's a high altitude.
The season is late, but she won't suffer."
Hortense, who had been sullen and fractious, met her aunt
half-way, and agreed passively when Medora said:
"It will benefit you to see the spring come on in a new scene
and in a new fashion. You will find the mountains more interesting
than the dunes." So Hortense packed her things and joined
her friend for a brief sojourn in sight of the Great Smokies.
Thus, when Medora herself went forth to meet the spring
among the sand-hills, she had only Carolyn and the other members
of her domestic staff. Yet no simplest week-end without a
guest or so, and she asked Cope to accompany them.
"You need it," she told him bluntly; "--you need a change,
however slight and brief. You are positively thin. You make me
wish that thesises----"
"Theses," Cope corrected her, rather spiritlessly.
"----that theses, then, had never been invented. To speak
familiarly, you are almost 'peaked.'"
Cope, with the first warm days, had gone back to the blue
serge suit of the past autumn, and he filled it even less well than
before. And his face was thin to correspond.
"Besides," she went on, "we need you. It will be a kind of
camping-out for a day or two--merely that. We must have your
help to pitch the tent, so to speak, and to pick up firewood, and
to fry the bacon.... And this time," she added, "you shall not
have that long tiresome trip by train. There will be room in the
She did not attempt to make room for Lemoyne. She was glad
to have no need to do so; Lemoyne was deeply engrossed
otherwise--"Annabella" and her "antics" were almost ready for the
public eye. The first of May would see the performance, and the
numerous rehearsals were exacting, whether as regarded the
effort demanded or the time. Every spare hour was going into
them, as well as many an hour that could hardly be spared. Lemoyne,
who had been cast originally for a minor female part,
now found himself transferred, through the failure of a principal,
to a more important one. For him, then, rehearsals were
more exigent than ever. He cut his Psychology once or twice,
nor could he succeed, during office hours, in keeping his mind
on office-routine. His superiors became impatient and then
protestant. The annual spring dislocation of ordered student life
was indeed a regular feature of the year's last term; yet to push
indulgence as far as Arthur Lemoyne was pushing it----!
Cope was concerned; then worried. "Arthur," he said, "be
reasonable about this. You've got real work to do, remember."
But Lemoyne's real work was in the musical comedy. "This is
the biggest chance I've ever had in my life," he declared, "and I
don't want to lose out on it."
So Cope rolled away to the dunes and left Lemoyne behind
for one Saturday night rehearsal the more.
Duneland gave him a tonic welcome. Under a breezy sky the
far edge of the lake stood out clear. Along its nearer edge the
vivacious waves tumbled noisily. The steady pines were welcoming
the fresh early foliage of such companions as dressed and undressed
in accord with the calendar; the wrecked trunks which
had given up life and its leafy pomps seemed somehow less sombre
and stark; and in the threatened woodlands behind the hills
a multiplicity of small new greeneries stirred the autumn's dead
leaves and brightened up the thickets of shrubbery. The arbutus
had companioned the hepatica, and the squads of the lupines
were busily preparing their panoply of lavender-blue racemes.
Nature was breaking bounds. On the inland horizon rose the
vast bulk of the prison. As on other excursions, nobody tried too
hard to see it.
"It's all too lovely," exclaimed Medora Phillips. "And what is
quite as good," she was able to declare, "the house itself is all
right." Winter had not weakened its roof nor wrenched away
its storm-windows; no irresponsible wayfarer had used it for a
lodging, nor had any casual marauder entered to despoil. Medora
directed the disposition of the hamper of food with a relieved
air and sent Cope down with Peter for an armful or two of
driftwood from the assertive shore.
"And you, Carolyn," she said, "see if the oil-stove will really
Down on the beach itself, where the past winter's waste was
still profusely spread, Cope rose to the greening hills, to the
fresh sweep of the wind, and to the sun-shot green and purple
streakings over the water. The wind, in particular, took its own
way: dry light sand, blown from higher shelvings, striped the
dark wet edges of the shore; and every bending blade of sandgrass
drew a circle about itself with its own revolving tip.
Cope let the robust and willing Peter pick up most of the
firewood and himself luxuriated in the spacious world round
about him. Yes, a winter had flown--or, at any rate, had passed--and
here he was again. There had been annoyances, but now
he felt a wide and liberal relief. Here, for example, was the special
stretch of shore on which Amy Leffingwell had praised his
singing and had hinted her desire to accompany him,--but
never mind that. Farther on was the particular tract where Hortense
Dunton had pottered with her water-colors and had harried
him with the heroines of eighteenth century fiction,--but
never mind that, either. All those things were past, and he was
free. Nobody remained save Carolyn Thorpe, an unaggressive
girl with whom one could really trust oneself and with whom
one could walk, if required, in comfort and content. Cope
threw up his head to the hills and threw out his chest to the
winds, and laid quick hands on a short length of weather-beaten
hemlock plank. "Afraid I'm not holding up my end," he said to
At the house again, he found that Carolyn had brought the oil-stove
back into service, and, with Helga, had cast the cloth over
the table and had set some necessary dishes on it. He fetched a
pail or two of water from the pump, and each time placed a fresh
young half-grown sassafras leaf on the surface. "The trade-mark
of our bottling-works," he said facetiously; "to show that our
products are pure." And Carolyn, despite his facetiousness, felt
more than ever that he might easily become a poet. Medora
viewed the floating leaves with indulgent appreciation. "But
don't let's cumber ourselves with many cares," she suggested;
"we are here to make the best of the afternoon. Let's out and
away,--the sooner the better."
The three soon set forth for a stroll through spring's reviving
domain. Cope walked between Medora and Carolyn, or
ahead of them, impartially sweeping away twigs and flowering
branches from before their faces. The young junipers were putting
forth tender new tips; the bright leaves of the sassafras
shone forth against the pines. Above the newly-rounded tops of
the oaks and maples in the valley below them the Three Witches
rose gauntly; and off on their far hill the two companion pines--(how
had he named them? Romeo and Juliet? Pelleas and Melisande?)--still
lay their dark heads together in mysterious confidences
under the heightening glow of the late afternoon sun.
Carolyn looked from them back to Cope and gave him a shy
He did not quite smile back. Carolyn was well enough, however.
She was suitably dressed for a walk. Her shoes were sensible,
and so was her hair. Amy had run to fluffiness. Hortense had
often favored heavy waves and emphatic bandeaux. But Carolyn's
hair was drawn back plainly from her forehead, and was
gathered in a small, low-set knot. "Still, it's no concern of
mine," he reminded himself, and walked on ahead.
Carolyn's sensible shoes brought her back, with the others, at
twilight. The three took up rather ornamentally (with aid from
Peter and Helga) the lighter details of housekeeping. Toward the
end of the stroll, Cope and Carolyn,--perhaps upon the mere
unconscious basis of youth,--had rather fallen in together, and
Medora Phillips, once or twice, had had to safeguard for herself
her face and eyesight from the young trees that bordered their
path. But that evening, as they sat on a settle before the driftwood
fire, Medora took pains to place herself in the middle.
Carolyn was a sweet young flower, doubtless--humbler, possibly,
than Amy or Hortense; yet she too perhaps must be extirpated,
gently but firmly, from the garden of desire.
"You look better already," Medora said to Cope. "You'll go
back to-morrow a new man."
Her elbow was on the back of the settle and close to his shoulder.
His face caught the glow from the fire.
"Oh, I'm all right, I assure you," he said.
"You _do_ look better," observed Carolyn on her own account.
"This air is everything. Only a few hours of it----"
"Another bit of wood on the fire, if you please, Carolyn," said
"Let me do it," said Cope. He rose quickly and laid on a stick
or two. He remained standing on the edge of the glow. He hoped
nobody would say again that he was looking rather thin and
"And what is Mr. Lemoyne doing this evening?" presently
asked Mrs. Phillips in a dreamy undertone. Her manner was casual
and negligent; her voice was low and leisurely. She seemed
to place Lemoyne at a distance of many, many leagues. "Rehearsing,
"Yes," replied Cope. "This new play has absorbed him completely."
"He will do well?"
"He always does. He always has."
"Men in girls' parts are so amusing," said Carolyn. "Their
walk is so heavy and clumsy, even if their dancing isn't. And
when they speak up in those big deep bass and baritone
"Arthur will speak in a light tenor."
"Will his walk be heavy and clumsy?" asked Mrs. Phillips.
"He is an artist," replied Cope.
"Not too much of one, I trust," she returned. "I confess I like
boys best in such parts when they frankly and honestly seem to
be boys. That's half the fun--and nine-tenths of the taste."
"Yes, taste. Short for good taste. There's a great deal of room
for bad. A thing may be done too thoroughly. Once or twice I've
seen it done that way, by--artists."
Cope, in the half-light, seemed rather unhappy.
"He finds time for--for all this--this technique?" Mrs. Phillips
"He's very clever," replied Cope, rather unhappy still. "It
does take time, of course. I'm concerned," he added.
"About his other work?"
"Yes." He stepped aside a little into the shadow.
"Come back to your place," said Medora Phillips. "You look
Cope, with a light sigh, returned to his post on the settle and
to his share in the firelight. Silence fell. From far below were
heard the active waves, moaning themselves to rest. And a featureless
evening moved on slowly.
_COPE AS A HERO_
At ten o'clock Cope found himself tucked away in a small room on the ground
floor. It had been left quite as planned and constructed by the original
builder of the house. It was cramped and narrow, with low ceiling and one
small window. It gave on a short side-porch which was almost too narrow to
sit on and which was apropos of no special prospect. Doubtless more than
one stalwart youth had slept there before him,--a succession of farmers'
sons who fed all day on the airs and spaces of the great out-of-doors, and
who needed little of either through a short night's rest. It was more
comfortable at the end of April than other guests had found it in mid-
A little before eleven he awoke the house with a loud, ringing cry. Some
one outside had passed his narrow window; feet were heard on the back porch
and hands at the kitchen door. Peter was out as quickly as Cope himself;
and the women, in differing stages of dress and half-dress, followed at
While Mrs. Phillips and Carolyn were clinging to Cope, who had rushed out
in undershirt and trousers, Peter had a short tussle on the porch with the
intruder. He came in showing a scratch or two on his face, and he reported
the pantry window broken open.
"Some tramp along the beach saw our lights," suggested Carolyn.
"What was he like, Peter?" asked Mrs. Phillips.
"I couldn't make out in the dark," Peter replied. "But he fought hard for
what he took, and he got away with it." He felt the marks on his face.
"Must have been a pretty hungry man."
"It was some refugee hiding in my woods," said Medora Phillips. She made
her real thought no plainer. She never liked to see, in her walks, that
distant prison, and she never spoke of it to her guests; but the fancy of
some escaped convict lurking below among her thickets was often present in
Her fancy was now busy with some burglar, or even some murderer, who had
made his bolt for liberty; and she clung informally to the clarion-voiced
Cope as to a savior. She saw, with displeasure, that Carolyn was disposed
to cling too. She asked Carolyn to control herself and told her the danger
was over; she even requested her to return to her room. But Carolyn
Medora herself stood with Cope in the light of the dying fire. She was
dressed almost as inadequately as he, but she felt that she must cling
tremblingly to him and thank him for something or other.
"I don't know what you've saved us from," she panted. "We may owe our very
lives to you!"
Peter, in the background, again thoughtfully felt his face and became
conscious of a growing ache in the muscles of his arms. He retired, with a
smile, to a still more distant plane. The regular did the work and the
volunteer got the praise.
Mrs. Phillips presently gave up her drooping hold on the reluctant Cope and
called Peter forward. "Is anything missing?" she asked.
"Only part of the breakfast, I expect," said Peter, with a grin. "And maybe
some of the lunch. He surely was a hungry man!"
"Well, we sha'n't starve. See to all the doors and windows before you go
back to bed."
But going back to bed was the one thing that she herself felt unable to do.
She asked Carolyn to bring her a wrap of some kind or other, and sat down
on the settle to talk it over. Cope had modestly slipped on a coat. The
fire was dying--that was the only difference between twelve o'clock and
"If I had known what was going to happen," declared Medora volubly, "I
never could have gone to bed at all! And to think"--here she left Carolyn's
end of the settle and drew nearer to Cope's--"that I should ever have even
thought of coming out here without a man!"
She now rated her midnight intruder as a murderer, and believed more
devoutly than ever that Cope had saved all their lives. Cope, who knew that
he had contributed nothing but a loud pair of lungs, began to feel rather
Nor did the anomalous situation commend itself in any degree to his taste.
But it hit Medora Phillips' taste precisely, and she continued to sit
there, pressing an emotional enjoyment from it. An hour passed before her
excitement--an excitement kept up, perhaps, rather factitiously--was
calmed, and she trusted herself back in her own room.
Breakfast was a scanty affair,--it must be that if anything was to be left
over for lunch. While they were busy with toast and coffee voices were
heard in the woods--loud cries in call and answer.
"There!" said Medora, setting down her cup; "I knew it!"
Presently two men came climbing up to the house, while the voices of others
were still audible in the humpy thickets below.
The men were part of a search-party, of course,--a posse; and they wanted
to know whether....
"He tried to break in," said Medora Phillips eagerly; "but this
She turned appreciatively to Cope. Carolyn, really impressed by her well-
sustained seriousness and ardor, almost began to believe that they owed
their lives to Bertram Cope alone.
"Was he a--murderer?" asked Medora.
The men looked serious, but made no categorical reply. They glanced at the
wrecked pantry window, and they looked with more intentness at the long
sliding footprints which led away, down the half-bare sand-slope. Then they
slid down themselves.
Medora asked Carolyn to do what she could toward constructing a lunch and
then walked down to the shore with Cope to compose her nerves. No stroll
today along the ridged amphitheatre of the hills, whence the long, low
range of buildings, under that tall chimney, was so plainly in view. Still
less relishing the idea of a tramp through the woods themselves, the
certain haunt--somewhere--of some skulking desperado. No, they would take
the shore itself--open to the wide firmament, clear of all snares, and free
from every disconcerting sight.
"Poor Carolyn!" said Medora presently. "How fluttered and inefficient she
was! A good secretary--in a routine way--but so lacking in initiative and
Cope's look tended to become a stare. He thought that Carolyn had been in
pretty fair control of herself,--had been less fluttery and excited,
indeed, than her employer.
But Medora had been piqued, the night before, by Carolyn's tendency to
linger on the scene and to help skim the emotional cream from the
"And in such dishabille, too! I hope you don't think she seemed immodest?"
But Cope had given small heed to their dress, or to their lack of it. In
fact, he had noticed little if any difference between them. He only knew
that he had felt a degree more comfortable after getting his own coat on.
"Carolyn understands her place pretty well," mused Medora. "Yet..."
"Anybody might be excused for looking anyhow, at such a time," observed
Cope, fending off the intrusion of a new set of considerations; "and in
such a sudden stir. I hope nobody noticed how I looked!"
"Well, you were noticeable," declared Medora, with some archness. She had
been conscious enough of his spare waist, his sinewy arms, his swelling
chest. "It was easy enough to see where the noise came from," she said,
looking him over.
"Yes, I supplied the noise--and that only. It was Peter, please remember,
who supplied the muscle."
She declined to let her mind dwell on Peter. Peter possessed no charm.
Besides, he was prosaically on the payroll.
They continued to saunter along the sand. Yesterday's sparse clouds had
vanished, along with much of yesterday's wind. The waters that had tumbled
and vociferated now merely murmured. The lake stood calmly blue, and the
new green was thickening on the hills. Confident birds flitted busily among
the trees and shrubs. Spring was disclosed in its most alluring mood.
Suddenly three or four figures appeared on the beach, a quarter of a mile
away. They had descended through one of the sandy and ravaged channelings
which broke at intervals the regulated rim of the hills, and they came on
toward our two strollers. Medora closed her eyes to peer at them. "Are they
marching a prisoner?" she asked.
"They all appear to be walking free."
"Are they carrying knapsacks?"
"Khaki, puttees,--and knapsacks, I think."
"Some university men said they might happen along to-day. If they really
have knapsacks, and anything to eat in them, they're welcome. Otherwise, we
had better hide quick--and hope they'll lose the place and pass us by."
One of the advancing figures lifted a semaphoric arm. "Too late," said
Cope; "They recognize you."
"Then we'll walk on and meet them," declared Medora.
The new-comers were young professors and graduate students. They were soon
in possession of the thrilling facts of the past night, and one of them
offered to be a prisoner, if a prisoner was desired. When they heard how
Bertram Cope had saved the lives of defenseless women in a lonely land,
they inclined to smile. Two of them had been present on another shore when
Cope had "saved" Amy Leffingwell from a watery death, and they knew how far
heroics might be pushed by women who were willing to idealize. Cope saw
their smiles and felt that he had fumbled an opportunity: when he might
have been a truncheon, he had been only a megaphone.
The new arrivals, after climbing the sandy rise to the house, were shown
the devastated kitchen and were asked to declare what provisions they
carried. They had enough food for their own needs and a trifle to spare.
Lunch might be managed, but any thought of a later meal was out of the
question. "We'll start back at four-thirty," said Medora to Peter.
"Meanwhile"--to the college men--"the world is ours."
After lunch the enlarged party walked forth again. Mrs. Phillips had old
things to show to fresh eyes: she formed the new visitors into a compact
little group and let them see how good a guide she could be. Cope and
Carolyn strolled negligently--even unsystematically--behind. Once or twice
the personally conducted looked back.
"I hope she won't tell them again how I came to the rescue," said Cope. "It
makes a man feel too flat for words. Anybody might think, to hear her go
on, that I had saved you all from robbery and murder...."
"Why, but didn't you?" inquired Carolyn seriously.
_COPE GETS NEW LIGHT ON HIS CHUM_
Cope had the luck to get back to Churchton with little further in the way
of homage. He was careful with Carolyn; she had perhaps addressed him in a
sonnet, and she might go on and address him in an ode. He thought he had
done nothing to deserve the one, and he would do almost anything to escape
the other. She was a nice pleasant quiet girl; but nice pleasant quiet
girls were beginning to do such equivocal things in poetical print!
Having returned to town by a method that put the minimum tax on his powers,
Cope was in shape, next day, for an hour on the faculty tennis-courts. He
played with no special skill or vigor, but he made a pleasing picture in
his flannels; and Carolyn, who happened to pass--who passed by at about
five in the afternoon, lingered for the spectacle and thought of two or
three lines to start a poem with.
Cope, unconscious of this, presently turned his attention to Lemoyne, who
was on the eve of his first dress rehearsal and who was a good deal
occupied with wigs and lingerie. Here one detail leads to another, and
anyone who goes in wholeheartedly may go in dreadfully deep. Their room
came to be strown with all the disconcerting items of a theatrical
wardrobe. Cope soon reached the point where he was not quite sure that he
liked it all, and he began to develop a distaste for Lemoyne's
preoccupation with it. He came home one afternoon to find on the corner of
his desk a long pair of silk stockings and a too dainty pair of ladies'
shoes. "Oh, Art!" he protested. And then,--not speaking his essential
thought,--"Aren't these pretty expensive?"
"The thing has got to be done right," returned Lemoyne. "Feet are about the
first thing they notice."
At the actual performance Lemoyne's feet were noticed, certainly; though
perhaps not more than his head. His wig, as is usually the case with dark
people, was of a sunny blond hue. Its curls, as palpably artificial as they
were voluminous, made his eyes look darker and somehow more liquid than
ever. The contrast was piquant, almost sensational. Of course he had
sacrificed, for the time, his small moustache. Lemoyne was not "Annabella"
herself, but only her chief chum; yet shorter skirts and shorter sleeves
and a deliberately assumed feminine air helped distinguish him from the
hearty young lads who manoeuvred in the chorus.
Just who are those who enjoy the epicene on the stage? Not many women, one
prefers to think; and surely it arouses the impatience, if not worse, of
many men. Most amateur drama is based, perhaps, on the attempted "escape":
one likes to bolt from his own day, his own usual costume, his own range of
ideas, and even from his own sex. Endeavors toward this last are most
enjoyable--or least offensive--when they show frank and patent inadequacy.
It was Arthur Lemoyne's fortune--or misfortune--to do his work all too
Mrs. Phillips found his performance as little to her taste as she had
anticipated. Carolyn Thorpe got as much enjoyment out of the gauche
carriage and rough voices of the "chorus girls" as she had expected, but
was not observed to warm toward "Annabella's" closest friend. The Pearsons,
back from their wedding trip, had seats near the big crimson velvet
curtain. Pearson himself openly luxuriated in the amusing ineptitude of two
or three beskirted acquaintances among the upper classmen, but frowned at
Lemoyne's light tenor tones and mincing ways. Of course the right sort of
fellow, even if he had to sing his solo in the lightest of light tenors,
would still, on lapsing into dialogue, reinstate himself apologetically by
using as rough and gruff a voice as he could summon. Not so Lemoyne: he was
doing a consistent piece of "characterization," and he was feminine, even
"I never liked him, anyway," said George to Amy.
Amy gave a nod of agreement. Yet why this critical zeal? There was but one
man to like, after all.
"That make-up! That low-cut gown!" said George, in further condemnation.
"There's such a thing as going too far."
Basil Randolph met Cope in the back lobby at the close of the performance.
The dramatic season in the city itself had begun to languish; besides that,
Randolph, in order to maintain his place on the edge of the life
academical, always made it a point to remember the Grayfriars each spring.
"A very thorough, consistent piece of work--your friend's," said Randolph.
He spoke in a firm, net, withholding tone, looking Cope full in the face,
meanwhile. What he said was little, perhaps, of what was in his mind; yet
Cope caught a note of criticism and of condemnation.
"Yes," he almost felt constrained to say in reply, "yes, I know what you
did for him--for me, rather; and possibly this is not the outcome foreseen.
I hope you won't regret your aid."
Randolph went past him placidly. He seemed to have little to regret. On the
contrary, he almost appeared to be pleased. He may have felt that Lemoyne
had shown himself in a tolerably clear light, and that it was for Cope,
should he choose, to take heed.
Two days later, Randolph gave his impression of the performance to Foster.
"It's just what I should have expected," declared the cripple
acrimoniously. "I'm glad you never had any taste for the fellow; and I
should have been quite as well pleased if I hadn't found you caring for the
Randolph took refuge in a bland inexpressiveness. There was no need to
school his face: he had only to discipline his voice.
"Oh, well," he said smoothly, "it's only a passing _amitie_--something
soon to be over, perhaps." He used an alien word because he could not
select, on the instant, from his stock of English, the word he needed, and
because he was not quite sure what idea he wanted to express. "I only
wish," he went on, in the same even tone, "that this chap had been doing
better by his work. At one early stage of the rehearsals there was a lot of
registration and fee-paying for the new term. Well, if he hasn't been
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