The Conquest of Canaan
Part 2 out of 7
were young and eager and excited over their own
interests,--which were then in the "gentlemen's
Each of the other girls had been escorted by a
youth of the place, and, one by one, joining these
escorts in the hall outside the door, they descended
the stairs, until only Ariel was left. She came
down alone after the first dance had begun, and
greeted her young hostess's mother timidly. Mrs.
Pike--a small, frightened-looking woman with a
prominent ruby necklace--answered her absently,
and hurried away to see that the imported waiters
did not steal anything.
Ariel sat in one of the chairs against the wall
and watched the dancers with a smile of eager and
benevolent interest. In Canaan no parents, no
guardians nor aunts, were haled forth o' nights to
duenna the junketings of youth; Mrs. Pike did not
reappear, and Ariel sat conspicuously alone; there
was nothing else for her to do. It was not an
When the first dance reached an end, Mamie
Pike came to her for a moment with a cheery welcome,
and was immediately surrounded by a circle
of young men and women, flushed with dancing,
shouting as was their wont, laughing inexplicably
over words and phrases and unintelligible mono-
syllables, as if they all belonged to a secret society
and these cries were symbols of things exquisitely
humorous, which only they understood. Ariel
laughed with them more heartily than any other,
so that she might seem to be of them and as merry
as they were, but almost immediately she found
herself outside of the circle, and presently they all
whirled away into another dance, and she was left
So she sat, no one coming near her, through
several dances, trying to maintain the smile of
delighted interest upon her face, though she felt
the muscles of her face beginning to ache with their
fixedness, her eyes growing hot and glazed. All the
other girls were provided with partners for every
dance, with several young men left over, these latter
lounging hilariously together in the doorways.
Ariel was careful not to glance towards them, but
she could not help hating them. Once or twice
between the dances she saw Miss Pike speak appealingly
to one of the superfluous, glancing, at the
same time, in her own direction, and Ariel could
see, too, that the appeal proved unsuccessful, until
at last Mamie approached her, leading Norbert
Flitcroft, partly by the hand, partly by will-power.
Norbert was an excessively fat boy, and at the
present moment looked as patient as the blind.
But he asked Ariel if she was "engaged for the next
dance," and, Mamie having flitted away, stood
disconsolately beside her, waiting for the music to
begin. Ariel was grateful for him
"I think you must be very good-natured, Mr.
Flitcroft," she said, with an air of raillery
"No, I'm not," he replied, plaintively. "Everybody
thinks I am because I'm fat, and they expect
me to do things they never dream of asking
anybody else to do. I'd like to see 'em even ASK
'Gene Bantry to go and do some of the things they
get me to do! A person isn't good-natured just
because he's fat," he concluded, morbidly, "but
he might as well be!"
"Oh, I meant good-natured," she returned, with
a sprightly laugh, "because you're willing to waltz
"Oh, well," he returned, sighing, "that's all
The orchestra flourished into "La Paloma"; he
put his arm mournfully about her, and taking her
right hand with his left, carried her arm out to a
rigid right angle, beginning to pump and balance
for time. They made three false starts and then
got away. Ariel danced badly; she hopped and
lost the step, but they persevered, bumping against
other couples continually. Circling breathlessly
into the next room, they passed close to a long
mirror, in which Ariel saw herself, although in a
flash, more bitterly contrasted to the others than
in the cheval-glass of the dressing-room. The
clump of roses was flopping about her neck, her
crimped hair looked frowzy, and there was something
terribly wrong about her dress. Suddenly
she felt her train to be ominously grotesque, as a
thing following her in a nightmare.
A moment later she caught her partner making a
burlesque face of suffering over her shoulder, and,
turning her head quickly, saw for whose benefit
he had constructed it. Eugene Bantry, flying
expertly by with Mamie, was bestowing upon Mr.
Flitcroft a condescendingly commiserative wink.
The next instant she tripped in her train and fell to
the floor at Eugene's feet, carrying her partner
There was a shout of laughter. The young
hostess stopped Eugene, who would have gone on,
and he had no choice but to stoop to Ariel's assistance.
"It seems to be a habit of mine," she said,
She did not appear to see the hand he offered,
but got to her feet without help and walked quickly
away with Norbert, who proceeded to live up to the
character he had given himself.
"Perhaps we had better not try it again," she
"Well, I should think not," he returned, with the
frankest gloom. With the air of conducting her
home he took her to the chair against the wall
whence he had brought her. There his responsibility
for her seemed to cease. "Will you excuse
me?" he asked, and there was no doubt that he
felt that he had been given more than his share
that evening, even though he was fat.
"Yes, indeed." Her laughter was continuous.
"I should think you WOULD be glad to get rid of me
after that. Ha, ha, ha! Poor Mr. Flitcroft, you
know you are!"
It was the deadly truth, and the fat one, saying,
"Well, if you'll just excuse me now," hurried
away with a step which grew lighter as the distance
from her increased. Arrived at the haven of a far
doorway, he mopped his brow and shook his head
grimly in response to frequent rallyings.
Ariel sat through more dances, interminable
dances and intermissions, in that same chair, in
which, it began to seem, she was to live out the rest
of her life. Now and then, if she thought people
were looking at her as they passed, she broke into a
laugh and nodded slightly, as if still amused over
After a long time she rose, and laughing cheerfully
to Mr. Flitcroft, who was standing in the
doorway and replied with a wan smile, stepped
out quickly into the hall, where she almost ran
into her great-uncle, Jonas Tabor. He was going
towards the big front doors with Judge Pike, having
just come out of the latter's library, down the
Jonas was breathing heavily and was shockingly
pale, though his eyes were very bright. He turned
his back upon his grandniece sharply and went out
of the door. Ariel turned from him quite as abruptly
and re-entered the room whence she had come.
She laughed again to her fat friend as she passed
him, and, still laughing, went towards the fatal
chair, when her eyes caught sight of Eugene Bantry
and Mamie coming in through the window from
the porch. Still laughing, she went to the window
and looked out; the porch seemed deserted and
was faintly illuminated by a few Japanese lanterns.
She sprang out, dropped upon the divan, and burying
her face in her hands, cried heart-brokenly.
Presently she felt something alive touch her foot,
and, her breath catching with alarm, she started
to rise. A thin hand, issuing from a shabby sleeve,
had stolen out between two of the green tubs and
was pressing upon one of her shoes.
"'SH!" said Joe. "Don't make a noise!"
His warning was not needed; she had recognized
the hand and sleeve instantly. She dropped back
with a low sound which would have been hysterical
if it had been louder, while he raised himself on
his arm until she could see his face dimly, as he
peered at her between the palms.
"What were you going on about?" he asked,
"Nothing," she answered. "I wasn't. You
must go away, and quick. It's too dangerous. If
the Judge found you--"
"Ah, you'd risk anything to see Mamie Pike--"
"What were you crying about?" he interrupted.
"Nothing, I tell you!" she repeated, the tears
not ceasing to gather in her eyes. "I wasn't."
"I want to know what it was," he insisted.
"Didn't the fools ask you to dance? Ah! You
needn't tell me. That's it. I've been here for
the last three dances and you weren't in sight till
you came to the window. Well, what do you care
about that for?"
"I don't!" she answered. "I don't!" Then
suddenly, without being able to prevent it, she
"No," he said, gently, "I see you don't. And
you let yourself be a fool because there are a lot
of fools in there."
She gave way, all at once, to a gust of sorrow
and bitterness; she bent far over and caught his
hand and laid it against her wet cheek. "Oh,
Joe," she whispered, brokenly, "I think we have
such hard lives, you and I! It doesn't seem right
--while we're so young! Why can't we be like
the others? Why can't we have some of the fun?"
He withdrew his hand, with the embarrassment
and shame he would have felt had she been a boy.
"Get out!" he said, feebly.
She did not seem to notice, but, still stooping,
rested her elbows on her knees and her face in her
hands. "I try so hard to have fun, to be like the
rest,--and it's always a mistake, always, always,
always!" She rocked herself, slightly, from side
to side. "I am a fool, it's the truth, or I wouldn't
have come to-night. I want to be attractive--I
want to be in things. I want to laugh like they
"To laugh just to laugh, and not because there's
"Yes, I do, I do! And to know how to dress
and to wear my hair--there must be some place
where you can learn those things. I've never had
any one to show me! Ah! Grandfather said
something like that this afternoon--poor man!
We're in the same case. If we only had some one
to show us! It all seems so BLIND, here in Canaan,
for him and me! I don't say it's not my own
fault as much as being poor. I've been a hoyden;
I don't feel as if I'd learned how to be a girl yet,
Joe. It's only lately I've cared, but I'm seventeen,
Joe, and--and to-day--to-day--I was sent
home--and to-night--" She faltered, came to a
stop, and her whole body was shaken with sobs.
"I hate myself so for crying--for everything!"
"I'll tell you something," he whispered,
chuckling desperately. "'Gene made me unpack his trunk,
and I don't believe he's as great a man at college as
he is here. I opened one of his books, and some
one had written in it, `Prigamaloo Bantry, the Class
Try-To-Be'! He'd never noticed, and you ought
to have heard him go on! You'd have just died,
Ariel--I almost bust wide open! It was a mean
trick in me, but I couldn't help showing it to him."
Joe's object was obtained. She stopped crying,
and, wiping her eyes, smiled faintly. Then she
became grave. "You're jealous of Eugene," she
He considered this for a moment. "Yes," he
answered, thoughtfully, "I am. But I wouldn't
think about him differently on that account. And
I wouldn't talk about him to any one but you."
"Not even to--" She left the question unfinished.
"No," he said, quietly. "Of course not."
"No? Because it wouldn't be any use?"
"I don't know. I never have a chance to talk
to her, anyway."
"Of course you don't!" Her voice had grown
steady. "You say I'm a fool. What are you?"
"You needn't worry about me," he began. "I
can take care--"
"'SH!" she whispered, warningly. The music
had stopped, a loud clatter of voices and laughter
"What need to be careful," Joe assured her,
"with all that noise going on?"
"You must go away," she said, anxiously. "Oh,
"Not yet; I want--"
She coughed loudly. Eugene and Mamie Pike
had come to the window, with the evident intention
of occupying the veranda, but perceiving Ariel
engaged with threads in her sleeve, they turned away
and disappeared. Other couples looked out from
time to time, and finding the solitary figure in
possession, retreated abruptly to seek stairways and
remote corners for the things they were impelled
And so Ariel held the porch for three dances and
three intermissions, occupying a great part of the
time with entreaties that her obdurate and reckless
companion should go. When, for the fourth
time, the music sounded, her agitation had so
increased that she was visibly trembling. "I
can't stand it, Joe," she said, bending over him.
"I don't know what would happen if they found
you. You've GOT to go!"
"No, I haven't," he chuckled. "They haven't
even distributed the supper yet!"
"And you take all the chances," she said, slowly,
"just to see her pass that window a few times."
"Of what the Judge will do if any one sees
"Nothing; because if any one saw me I'd leave."
A colored waiter, smiling graciously, came out
upon the porch bearing a tray of salad, hot oysters,
and coffee. Ariel shook her head.
"I don't want any," she murmured.
The waiter turned away in pity and was re-
entering the window, when a passionate whisper
fell upon his ear as well as upon Ariel's.
"Ma'am?" said the waiter.
"I've changed my mind," she replied, quickly.
The waiter, his elation restored, gave of his viands
with the superfluous bounty loved by his race when
distributing the product of the wealthy.
When he had gone, "Give me everything that's
hot," said Joe. "You can keep the salad."
"I couldn't eat it or anything else," she
answered, thrusting the plate between the palms.
For a time there was silence. From within the
house came the continuous babble of voices and
laughter, the clink of cutlery on china. The young
people spent a long time over their supper. By-
and-by the waiter returned to the veranda,
deposited a plate of colored ices upon Ariel's knees
with a noble gesture, and departed.
"No ice for me," said Joe.
"Won't you please go now?" she entreated!
"It wouldn't be good manners," he responded.
"They might think I only came for supper--"
"Hand me back the things. The waiter might
come for them any minute."
"Not yet. I haven't quite finished. I eat with
contemplation, Ariel, because there's more than
the mere food and the warmth of it to consider.
There's the pleasure of being entertained by the
great Martin Pike. Think what a real kindness
I'm doing him, too. I increase his good deeds and
his hospitality without his knowing it or being
able to help it. Don't you see how I boost his
standing with the Recording Angel? If Lazarus
had behaved the way I do, Dives needn't have
had those worries that came to him in the after-
"Give me the dish and coffee-cup," she
whispered, impatiently. "Suppose the waiter came
and had to look for them? Quick!"
"Take them, then. You'll see that jealousy
hasn't spoiled my appetite--"
A bottle-shaped figure appeared in the window
and she had no time to take the plate and cup
which were being pushed through the palm-leaves.
She whispered a syllable of warning, and the dishes
were hurriedly withdrawn as Norbert Flitcroft,
wearing a solemn expression of injury, came out
upon the veranda.
He halted suddenly. "What's that?" he asked,
"Nothing," answered Ariel, sharply. "Where?"
"Behind those palms."
"Probably your own shadow," she laughed; "or
it might have been a draught moving the leaves."
He did not seem satisfied, but stared hard at
the spot where the dishes had disappeared, meantime
edging back cautiously nearer the window.
"They want you," he said, after a pause. "Some
one's come for you."
"Oh, is grandfather waiting?" She rose, at
the same time letting her handkerchief fall. She
stooped to pick it up, with her face away from
Norbert and towards the palms, whispering
tremulously, but with passionate urgency, "Please GO!"
"It isn't your grandfather that has come for
you," said the fat one, slowly. "It is old Eskew
Arp. Something's happened."
She looked at him for a moment, beginning to
tremble violently, her eyes growing wide with
"Is my grandfather--is he sick?"
"You better go and see. Old Eskew's waiting
in the hall. He'll tell you."
She was by him and through the window instantly.
Norbert did not follow her; he remained
for several moments looking earnestly at the palms;
then he stepped through the window and beckoned
to a youth who was lounging in the doorway across
"There's somebody hiding behind those plants,"
he whispered, when his friend reached him. "Go
and tell Judge Pike to send some of the niggers
to watch outside the porch, so that he doesn't get
away. Then tell him to get his revolver and come
Meanwhile Ariel had found Mr. Arp waiting in
the hall, talking in a low voice to Mrs. Pike.
"Your grandfather's all right," he told the
frightened girl, quickly. "He sent me for you,
that's all. Just hurry and get your things."
She was with him again in a moment, and seizing
the old man's arm, hurried him down the steps and
toward the street almost at a run.
"You're not telling me the truth," she said.
"You're not telling me the truth!"
"Nothing has happened to Roger," panted Mr.
Arp. "Nothing to mind, I mean. Here! We're
going this way, not that." They had come to the
gate, and as she turned to the right he pulled her
round sharply to the left. "We're not going to
"Where are we going?"
"We're going to your uncle Jonas's."
"Why?" she cried, in supreme astonishment.
"What do you want to take me there for? Don't
you know that he's stopped speaking to me?"
"Yes," said the old man, grimly, with something
of the look he wore when delivering a clincher at
the "National House,"--"he's stopped speaking to
The Canaan Daily Tocsin of the following
morning "ventured the assertion"
upon its front page that
"the scene at the Pike Mansion was
one of unalloyed festivity, music,
and mirth; a fairy bower of airy figures wafting
here and there to the throb of waltz-strains; a
veritable Temple of Terpsichore, shining forth with
a myriad of lights, which, together with the generous
profusion of floral decorations and the mingled
delights afforded by Minds's orchestra of Indianapolis
and Caterer Jones of Chicago, was in all
likelihood never heretofore surpassed in elegance
in our city. . . . Only one incident," the Tocsin
remarked, "marred an otherwise perfect occasion,
and out of regard for the culprit's family connections,
which are prominent in our social world, we
withhold his name. Suffice it to say that through
the vigilance of Mr. Norbert Flitcroft, grandson of
Colonel A. A. Flitcroft, who proved himself a
thorough Lecoq (the celebrated French detective), the
rascal was seized and recognized. Mr. Flitcroft,
having discovered him in hiding, had a cordon of
waiters drawn up around his hiding-place, which
was the charmingly decorated side piazza of the
Pike Mansion, and sent for Judge Pike, who came
upon the intruder by surprise. He evaded the
Judge's indignant grasp, but received a well-
merited blow over the head from a poker which
the Judge had concealed about his person while
pretending to approach the hiding-place casually.
Attracted to the scene by the cries of Mr. Flitcroft,
who, standing behind Judge Pike, accidentally
received a blow from the same weapon, all the guests
of the evening sprang to view the scene, only to
behold the culprit leap through a crevice between
the strips of canvas which enclosed the piazza.
He was seized by the colored coachman of the
Mansion, Sam Warden, and immediately pounced upon
by the cordon of Caterer Jones's dusky assistants
from Chicago, who were in ambush outside.
Unfortunately, after a brief struggle he managed to
trip Warden, and, the others stumbling upon the
prostrate body of the latter, to make his escape
in the darkness.
"It is not believed by many that his intention
was burglary, though what his designs were can
only be left to conjecture, as he is far beyond the
age when boys perform such actions out of a sense
of mischief. He had evidently occupied his hiding-
place some time, and an idea of his coolness
may be obtained from his having procured and
eaten a full meal through an unknown source.
Judge Pike is justly incensed, and swears that he
will prosecute him on this and other charges as soon
as he can be found. Much sympathy is felt for
the culprit's family, who feel his shame most
keenly, but who, though sorrowing over the occurrence,
declare that they have put up with his
derelictions long enough, and will do nothing to
step between him and the Judge's righteous indignation."
The Pike Mansion, "scene of festivity, music,
and mirth" (not quite so unalloyed, after all, the
stricken Flitcroft keeping his room for a week under
medical supervision), had not been the only bower
of the dance in Canaan that evening: another
Temple of Terpsichore had shone forth with lights,
though of these there were not quite a myriad.
The festivities they illumined obtained no mention
in the paper, nor did they who trod the measures
in this second temple exhibit any sense of injury
because of the Tocsin's omission. Nay, they were
of that class, shy without being bashful, exclusive
yet not proud, which shuns publicity with a single-
heartedness almost unique in our republic, courting
observation neither in the prosecution of their
professions nor in the pursuit of happiness.
Not quite a mile above the northernmost of the
factories on the water-front, there projected into
the river, near the end of the crescent bend above
the town, a long pier, relic of steamboat days,
rotting now, and many years fallen from its maritime
uses. About midway of its length stood a
huge, crazy shed, long ago utilized as a freight
storeroom. This had been patched and propped, and
a dangerous-looking veranda attached to it, over-
hanging the water. Above the doorway was
placed a sign whereon might be read the words,
"Beaver Beach, Mike's Place." The shore end
of the pier was so ruinous that passage was offered
by a single row of planks, which presented an
appearance so temporary, as well as insecure, that
one might have guessed their office to be something
in the nature of a drawbridge. From these a
narrow path ran through a marsh, left by the
receding river, to a country road of desolate
appearance. Here there was a rough enclosure, or
corral, with some tumble-down sheds which afforded
shelter, on the night of Joseph Louden's disgrace,
for a number of shaggy teams attached to those
decrepit and musty vehicles known picturesquely
and accurately as Night-Hawks. The presence of
such questionable shapes in the corral indicated
that the dance was on at Beaver Beach, Mike's
Place, as surely as the short line of cabs and family
carriages on upper Main Street made it known
that gayety was the order of the night at the Pike
Mansion. But among other differences was this,
that at the hour when the guests of the latter were
leaving, those seeking the hospitalities of Beaver
Beach had just begun to arrive.
By three o'clock, however, joy at Mike's Place
had become beyond question unconfined, and the
tokens of it were audible for a long distance in all
directions. If, however, there is no sound where
no ear hears, silence rested upon the country-side
until an hour later. Then a lonely figure came
shivering from the direction of the town, not by
the road, but slinking through the snow upon the
frozen river. It came slowly, as though very
tired, and cautiously, too, often turning its head
to look behind. Finally it reached the pier, and
stopped as if to listen.
Within the house above, a piano of evil life was
being beaten to death for its sins and clamoring
its last cries horribly. The old shed rattled in every
part with the thud of many heavy feet, and trembled
with the shock of noise--an incessant roar of
men's voices, punctuated with women's screams.
Then the riot quieted somewhat; there was a
clapping of hands, and a violin began to squeak
measures intended to be Oriental. The next
moment the listener scrambled up one of the
rotting piles and stood upon the veranda. A shaft
of red light through a broken shutter struck across
the figure above the shoulders, revealing a bloody
handkerchief clumsily knotted about the head,
and, beneath it, the face of Joe Louden.
He went to the broken shutter and looked in.
Around the blackened walls of the room stood a
bleared mob, applausively watching, through a fog
of smoke, the contortions of an old woman in a
red calico wrapper, who was dancing in the centre
of the floor. The fiddler--a rubicund person
evidently not suffering from any great depression
of spirit through the circumstance of being "out
on bail," as he was, to Joe's intimate knowledge--
sat astride a barrel, resting his instrument upon the
foamy tap thereof, and playing somewhat after
the manner of a 'cellist; in no wise incommoded
by the fact that a tall man (known to a few friends
as an expert in the porch-climbing line) was sleeping
on his shoulder, while another gentleman (who
had prevented many cases of typhoid by removing
old plumbing from houses) lay on the floor at the
musician's feet and endeavored to assist him by
plucking the strings of the fiddle.
Joe opened the door and went in. All of the
merry company (who were able) turned sharply
toward the door as it opened; then, recognizing
the new-comer, turned again to watch the old
woman. One or two nearest the door asked the
boy, without great curiosity, what had happened
to his head. He merely shook it faintly in reply,
and crossed the room to an open hallway beyond.
At the end of this he came to a frowzy bedroom,
the door of which stood ajar. Seated at a deal
table, and working by a dim lamp with a broken
chimney, a close-cropped, red-bearded, red-haired
man in his shirt-sleeves was jabbing gloomily
at a column of figures scrawled in a dirty
ledger. He looked up as Joe appeared in the
doorway, and his eyes showed a slight surprise.
"I never thought ye had the temper to git
somebody to split yer head," said he. "Where'd ye
"Nowhere," Joe answered, dropping weakly on
the bed. "It doesn't amount to anything."
"Well, I'll take just a look fer myself," said the
red-bearded man, rising. "And I've no objection
to not knowin' how ye come by it. Ye've always
been the great one fer keepin' yer mysteries to
He unwound the handkerchief and removed it
from Joe's head gently. "WHEE!" he cried, as a
long gash was exposed over the forehead. "I
hope ye left a mark somewhere to pay a little on
the score o' this!"
Joe chuckled and dropped dizzily back upon the
pillow. "There was another who got something
like it," he gasped, feebly; "and, oh, Mike, I wish
you could have heard him going on! Perhaps
you did--it was only three miles from here."
"Nothing I'd liked better!" said the other,
bringing a basin of clear water from a stand in
the corner. "It's a beautiful thing to hear a man
holler when he gits a grand one like ye're wearing
He bathed the wound gently, and hurrying from
the room, returned immediately with a small jug
of vinegar. Wetting a rag with this tender fluid,
he applied it to Joe's head, speaking soothingly
"Nothing in the world like a bit o' good cider
vinegar to keep off the festerin'. It may seem a
trifle scratchy fer the moment, but it assassinates
the blood-p'ison. There ye go! It's the fine thing
fer ye, Joe--what are ye squirmin' about?"
"I'm only enjoying it," the boy answered, writhing
as the vinegar worked into the gash. "Don't
you mind my laughing to myself."
"Ye're a good one, Joe!" said the other, continuing
his ministrations. "I wisht, after all, ye
felt like makin' me known to what's the trouble.
There's some of us would be glad to take it up fer
"No, no; it's all right. I was somewhere I had
no business to be, and I got caught."
"Who caught ye?"
"First, some nice white people"--Joe smiled
his distorted smile--"and then a low-down black
man helped me to get away as soon as he saw who
it was. He's a friend of mine, and he fell down
and tripped up the pursuit."
"I always knew ye'd git into large trouble some
day." The red-bearded man tore a strip from
an old towel and began to bandage the boy's head
with an accustomed hand. "Yer taste fer excitement
has been growin' on ye every minute of the
four years I've known ye."
"Excitement!" echoed Joe, painfully blinking
at his friend. "Do you think I'm hunting excitement?"
"Be hanged to ye!" said the red-bearded man.
"Can't I say a teasing word without gittin' called
to order fer it? I know ye, my boy, as well as ye
know yerself. Ye're a queer one. Ye're one of
the few that must know all sides of the world--
and can't content themselves with bein' respectable!
Ye haven't sunk to `low life' because ye're
low yourself, but ye'll never git a damned one o'
the respectable to believe it. There's a few others
like ye in the wide world, and I've seen one or
two of 'em. I've been all over, steeple-chasin',
sailorman, soldier, pedler, and in the PO-lice; I've
pulled the Grand National in Paris, and I've been
handcuffed in Hong-Kong; I've seen all the few
kinds of women there is on earth and the many
kinds of men. Yer own kind is the one I've seen
the fewest of, but I knew ye belonged to it the
first time I laid eyes on ye!" He paused, then
continued with conviction: "Ye'll come to no
good, either, fer yerself, yet no one can say ye
haven't the talents. Ye've helped many of the
boys out of a bad hole with a word of advice
around the courts and the jail. Who knows but
ye'd be a great lawyer if ye kept on?"
Young people usually like to discuss themselves
under any conditions--hence the rewards of palmistry,--
but Joe's comment on this harangue was
not so responsive as might have been expected.
"I've got seven dollars," he said, "and I'll leave
the clothes I've got on. Can you fix me up with
"Aha!" cried the red-bearded man. "Then ye
ARE in trouble! I thought it 'd come to ye some
day! Have ye been dinnymitin' Martin Pike?"
"See what you can do," said Joe. "I want to
wait here until daybreak."
"Lie down, then," interrupted the other. "And
fergit the hullabaloo in the throne-room beyond."
"I can easily do that"--Joe stretched himself
upon the bed,--"I've got so many other things
"I'll have the things fer ye, and I'll let ye know
I have no use fer seven dollars," returned the red-
bearded man, crossly. "What are ye sniffin' fer?"
"I'm thinking of the poor fellow that got the
mate to this," said Joe, touching the bandage.
"I can't help crying when I think they may have
used vinegar on his head, too."
"Git to sleep if ye can!" exclaimed the Samaritan,
as a hideous burst of noise came from the dance-
room, where some one seemed to be breaking a
chair upon an acquaintance. "I'll go out and
regulate the boys a bit." He turned down the
lamp, fumbled in his hip-pocket, and went to the
"Don't forget," Joe called after him.
"Go to sleep," said the red-bearded man, his
hand on the door-knob. "That is, go to thinkin',
fer ye won't sleep; ye're not the kind. But think
easy; I'll have the things fer ye. It's a matter of
pride with me that I always knew ye'd come to
YE'LL TAK' THE HIGH ROAD AND I'LL TAK' THE
The day broke with a scream of wind
out of the prairies and such cloudbursts
of snow that Joe could see
neither bank of the river as he made
his way down the big bend of ice.
The wind struck so bitterly that now and then
he stopped and, panting and gasping, leaned his
weight against it. The snow on the ground was
caught up and flew like sea spume in a hurricane;
it swirled about him, joining the flakes in the air,
so that it seemed to be snowing from the ground
upward as much as from the sky downward.
Fierce as it was, hard as it was to fight through,
snow from the earth, snow from the sky, Joe was
grateful for it, feeling that it veiled him, making
him safer, though he trusted somewhat the change
of costume he had effected at Beaver Beach. A
rough, workman's cap was pulled down over his
ears and eyebrows; a knitted comforter was wound
about the lower part of his face; under a ragged
overcoat he wore blue overalls and rubber boots;
and in one of his red-mittened hands he swung a
When he reached the nearest of the factories he
heard the exhaust of its engines long before he
could see the building, so blinding was the drift.
Here he struck inland from the river, and, skirting
the edges of the town, made his way by unfrequented
streets and alleys, bearing in the general
direction of upper Main Street, to find himself at
last, almost exhausted, in the alley behind the
Pike Mansion. There he paused, leaning heavily
against a board fence and gazing at the vaguely
outlined gray plane which was all that could be
made of the house through the blizzard. He had
often, very often, stood in this same place at night,
and there was one window (Mrs. Pike's) which he
had guessed to be Mamie's.
The storm was so thick that he could not see
this window now, but he looked a long time through
the thickness at that part of the gray plane where
he knew it was. Then his lips parted.
"Good-bye, Mamie," he said, softly.
He bent his body against the wind and went on,
still keeping to the back ways, until he came to
the alley which passed behind his own home,
where, however, he paused only for a moment to
make a quick survey of the premises. A glance
satisfied him; he ran to the next fence, hoisted
himself wearily over it, and dropped into Roger
Tabor's back yard.
He took shelter from the wind for a moment or
two, leaning against the fence, breathing heavily;
then he stumbled on across the obliterated paths
of a vegetable-garden until he reached the house,
and beginning with the kitchen, began to make
the circuit of the windows, peering cautiously into
each as he went, ready to tap on the pane should
he catch a glimpse of Ariel, and prepared to run if
he stumbled upon her grandfather. But the place
seemed empty: he had made his reconnaisance
apparently in vain, and was on the point of going
away, when he heard the click of the front gate
and saw Ariel coming towards him, her old water-
proof cloak about her head and shoulders, the
patched, scant, faded skirt, which he knew so
well, blowing about her tumultuously. At the
sound of the gate he had crouched close against
the side of the house, but she saw him at once.
She stopped abruptly, and throwing the water-
proof back from her head, looked at him through
the driven fog of snow. One of her hands was
stretched towards him involuntarily, and it was
in that attitude that he long remembered her:
standing in the drift which had piled up against
the gate almost knee-deep, the shabby skirt and
the black water-proof flapping like torn sails, one
hand out-stretched like that of a figure in a
tableau, her brown face with its thin features mottled
with cold and unlovely, her startled eyes fixed
on him with a strange, wild tenderness that held
something of the laughter of whole companionship
in it mingling with a loyalty and championship
that was almost ferocious--she looked an Undine
of the snow.
Suddenly she ran to him, still keeping her hand
out-stretched until it touched his own.
"How did you know me?" he said.
"Know you!" was all the answer she made to
that question. "Come into the house. I've got
some coffee on the stove for you. I've been up
and down the street waiting for you ever since it
began to get light."
"Your grandfather won't--"
"He's at Uncle Jonas's; he won't be back till
noon. There's no one here."
She led him to the front-door, where he stamped
and shook himself; he was snow from head to foot.
"I'm running away from the good Gomorrah,"
he said, "but I've stopped to look back, and I'm a
pretty white pillar."
"I know where you stopped to look back," she
answered, brushing him heartily with her red
hands. "You came in the alley way. It was
He did not reply, and the only visible token
that he had any consciousness of this clairvoyance
of hers was a slight lift of his higher eyebrow.
She wasted no time in getting him to the kitchen,
where, when she had removed his overcoat, she
placed him in a chair, unwound the comforter, and,
as carefully as a nurse, lifted the cap from his
injured head. When the strip of towel was disclosed
she stood quite still for a moment with the cap in
her hand; then with a broken little cry she stooped
and kissed a lock of his hair, which escaped, discolored,
beneath the bandage.
"Stop that!" he commanded, horribly embarrassed.
"Oh, Joe," she cried, "I knew! I knew it was
there--but to SEE it! And it's my fault for leaving
you--I HAD to go or I wouldn't have--I--"
"Where'd you hear about it?" he asked, shortly.
"I haven't been to bed," she answered. "Grandfather
and I were up all night at Uncle Jonas's, and
Colonel Flitcroft came about two o'clock, and he
"Did he tell you about Norbert?"
"Yes--a great deal." She poured coffee into a
cup from a pot on the stove, brought it to him,
then placing some thin slices of bread upon a gridiron,
began to toast them over the hot coals. "The
Colonel said that Norbert thought he wouldn't get
well," she concluded; "and Mr. Arp said Norbert
was the kind that never die, and they had quite
"What were you doing at Jonas Tabor's?" asked
Joe, drinking his coffee with a brightening eye.
"We were sent for," she answered.
She toasted the bread attentively without
replying, and when she decided that it was brown
enough, piled it on a warm plate. This she brought
to him, and kneeling in front of him, her elbow on
his knee, offered for his consideration, looking
steadfastly up at his eyes. He began to eat ravenously.
"What for?" he repeated. "I didn't suppose
Jonas would let you come in his house. Was he
"Joe," she said, quietly, disregarding his
questions---"Joe, have you GOT to run away?"
"Yes, I've got to," he answered.
"Would you have to go to prison if you stayed?"
She asked this with a breathless tensity.
"I'm not going to beg father to help me out,"
he said, determinedly. "He said he wouldn't,
and he'll be spared the chance. He won't mind
that; nobody will care! Nobody! What does anybody
care what _I_ do!"
"Now you're thinking of Mamie!" she cried.
"I can always tell. Whenever you don't talk
naturally you're thinking of her!"
He poured down the last of the coffee, growing
red to the tips of his ears. "Ariel," he said, "if I
ever come back--"
"Wait," she interrupted. "Would you have to
go to prison right away if they caught you?"
"Oh, it isn't that," he laughed, sadly. "But
I'm going to clear out. I'm not going to take any
chances. I want to see other parts of the world,
other kinds of people. I might have gone, anyhow,
soon, even if it hadn't been for last night. Don't
you ever feel that way?"
"You know I do," she said. "I've told you--
how often! But, Joe, Joe,--you haven't any
MONEY! You've got to have money to LIVE!"
"You needn't worry about that," returned the
master of seven dollars, genially. "I've saved
enough to take care of me for a LONG time."
"Joe, PLEASE! I know it isn't so. If you could
wait just a little while--only a few weeks,--only a
"I could let you have all you want. It would
be such a beautiful thing for me, Joe. Oh, I know
how you'd feel; you wouldn't even let me give you
that dollar I found in the street last year; but this
would be only lending it to you, and you could pay
me back sometime--"
"Ariel!" he exclaimed, and, setting his empty
cup upon the floor, took her by the shoulders and
shook her till the empty plate which had held the
toast dropped from her hand and broke into
fragments. "You've been reading the Arabian Nights! "
"No, no," she cried, vehemently. "Grandfather
would give me anything. He'll give me all the
money I ask for!"
"Money!" said Joe. "Which of us is wandering?
MONEY? Roger Tabor give you MONEY?"
"Not for a while. A great many things have
to be settled first."
"Joe," she asked, earnestly, "do you think it's
bad of me not to feel things I OUGHT to feel?"
"Then I'm glad," she said, and something in
the way she spoke made him start with pain,
remembering the same words, spoken in the same
tone, by another voice, the night before on the
veranda. "I'm glad, Joe, because I seemed all
wrong to myself. Uncle Jonas died last night,
and I haven't been able to get sorry. Perhaps
it's because I've been so frightened about you,
but I think not, for I wasn't sorry even before
Colonel Flitcroft told me about you."
"Jonas Tabor dead!" said Joe. "Why, I saw
him on the street yesterday!"
"Yes, and I saw him just before I came out on
the porch where you were. He was there in the
hall; he and Judge Pike had been having a long
talk; they'd been in some speculations together,
and it had all turned out well. It's very strange,
but they say now that Uncle Jonas's heart was
weak--he was an old man, you know, almost
eighty,--and he'd been very anxious about his
money. The Judge had persuaded him to risk it;
and the shock of finding that he'd made a great
"I've heard he'd had that same shock before,"
said Joe, "when he sold out to your father."
"Yes, but this was different, grandfather says.
He told me it was in one of those big risky
businesses that Judge Pike likes to go into. And last
night it was all finished, the strain was over, and
Uncle Jonas started home. His house is only a
little way from the Pikes', you know; but he
dropped down in the snow at his own gate, and
some people who were going by saw him fall. He
was dead before grandfather got there."
"I can't be sorry," said Joe, slowly.
"Neither can I. That's the dreadful part of it!
They say he hadn't made a will, that though he
was sharper than anybody else in the whole world
about any other matter of business, that was the
one thing he put off. And we're all the kin he had
in the world, grandfather and I. And they say"--
her voice sank to a whisper of excitement--"they
say he was richer than anybody knew, and that
this last business with Judge Pike, the very thing
that killed him--something about grain--made
him five times richer than before!"
She put her hand on the boy's arm, and he let
it remain there. Her eyes still sought his with
a tremulous appeal.
"God bless you, Ariel!" he said. "It's going
to be a great thing for you."
"Yes. Yes, it is." The tears came suddenly
to her eyes. "I was foolish last night, but there
had been such a long time of WANTING things; and
now--and now grandfather and I can go--"
"You're going, too!" Joe chuckled.
"It's heartless, I suppose, but I've settled it!
"_I_ know," he cried. "You've told me a thousand
times what HE'S said ten times a thousand.
You're going to Paris!"
"Paris! Yes, that's it. To Paris, where he
can see at last how the great ones have painted,--
where the others can show him! To Paris, where
we can study together, where he can learn how to
put the pictures he sees upon canvas, and where
"Go on," Joe encouraged her. "I want to hear
you say it. You don't mean that you're going to
study painting; you mean that you're going to
learn how to make such fellows as Eugene ask you
to dance. Go ahead and SAY it!"
"Yes--to learn how to DRESS!" she said.
Joe was silent for a moment. Then he rose and
took the ragged overcoat from the back of his
chair. "Where's that muffler?" he asked.
She brought it from where she had placed it to
dry, behind the stove.
"Joe," she said, huskily, "can't you wait till--"
"Till the estate is settled and you can coax your
"No, no! But you could go with us."
"He would take you as his secretary."
"Aha!" Joe's voice rang out gayly as he rose,
refreshed by the coffee, toast, and warmth she had
given him. "You've been story-reading, Ariel,
like Eugene! `Secretary'!"
"Where's my tin dinner-pail?" He found it
himself upon the table where he had set it down.
"I'm going to earn a dishonest living," he went
on. "I have an engagement to take a freight at
a water-tank that's a friend of mine, half a mile
south of the yards. Thank God, I'm going to get
away from Canaan!"
"Wait, Joe!" She caught at his sleeve. "I
want you to--"
He had swung out of the room and was already
at the front-door. She followed him closely.
"No, no! WAIT, Joe!"
He took her right hand in his own, and gave it
a manly shake. "It's all right," he said.
He threw open the door and stepped out, but
she sought to detain him. "Oh, have you GOT to
go?" she cried.
"Don't you ever worry about me." He bent
his head to the storm as he sprang down the steps,
and snow-wreaths swirled between them.
He disappeared in a white whirlwind.
She stood for several minutes shivering in the
doorway. Then it came to her that she would not
know where to write to him. She ran down to
the gate and through it. Already the blizzard
had covered his footprints.
GIVE A DOG A BAD NAME
The passing of Joseph from Canaan
was complete. It was an evanishment
for which there was neither
sackcloth nor surprise; and though
there came no news of him it cannot
be said that Canaan did not hear of him, for
surely it could hear itself talk. The death of
Jonas Tabor and young Louden's crime and flight
incited high doings in the "National House"
windows; many days the sages lingered with the
broken meats of morals left over from the banquet
of gossip. But, after all, it is with the ladies of a
community that reputations finally rest, and the
matrons of Canaan had long ago made Joe's
exceedingly uncertain. Now they made it certain.
They did not fail of assistance. The most
powerful influence in the town was ponderously
corroborative: Martin Pike, who stood for all that
was respectable and financial, who passed the plate
o' Sundays, who held the fortunes of the town in
his left hand, who was trustee for the widow and
orphan,--Martin Pike, patron of all worthy charities,
courted by ministers, feared by the wicked
and idle, revered by the good,--Judge Martin Pike
never referred to the runaway save in the accents
of an august doomster. His testimony settled it.
In time the precise nature of the fugitive's sins
was distorted in report and grew vague; it was
recalled that he had done dread things; he became
a tradition, a legend, and a warning to the young;
a Richard in the bush to frighten colts. He was
preached at boys caught playing marbles "for
keeps": "Do you want to grow up like Joe Louden?"
The very name became a darkling threat,
and children of the town would have run had one
called suddenly, "HERE COMES JOE LOUDEN!" Thus
does the evil men do live after them, and the ill-
fame of the unrighteous increase when they are
Very little of Joseph's adventures and occupations
during the time of his wandering is revealed
to us; he always had an unwilling memory for pain
and was not afterwards wont to speak of those
years which cut the hard lines in his face. The
first account of him to reach Canaan came as
directly to the windows of the "National House"
as Mr. Arp, hastening thither from the station,
satchel in hand, could bring it.
This was on a September morning, two years
after the flight, and Eskew, it appears, had been
to the State Fair and had beheld many things
strangely affirming his constant testimony that
this unhappy world increaseth in sin; strangest of
all, his meeting with our vagrant scalawag of
Canaan. "Not a BLAMEBIT of doubt about it,"
declared Eskew to the incredulous conclave. "There
was that Joe, and nobody else, stuck up in a little
box outside a tent at the Fair Grounds, and sellin'
tickets to see the Spotted Wild Boy!" Yes, it was
Joe Louden! Think you, Mr. Arp could forget
that face, those crooked eyebrows? Had Eskew
tested the recognition? Had he spoken with the
outcast? Had he not! Ay, but with such
peculiar result that the battle of words among the
sages began with a true onset of the regulars; for,
according to Eskew's narrative, when he had
delivered grimly at the boy this charge, "I know you
--YOU'RE JOE LOUDEN!" the extraordinary reply had
been made promptly and without change of
countenance: "POSITIVELY NO FREE SEATS!"
On this, the house divided, one party
maintaining that Joe had thus endeavored to evade
recognition, the other (to the embitterment of Mr.
Arp) that the reply was a distinct admission of
identity and at the same time a refusal to grant
any favors on the score of past acquaintanceship.
Goaded by inquiries, Mr. Arp, who had little desire
to recall such waste of silver, admitted more than
he had intended: that he had purchased a ticket
and gone in to see the Spotted Wild Boy, halting
in his description of this marvel with the unsatisfactory
and acrid statement that the Wild Boy was
"simply SPOTTED,"--and the stung query, "I suppose
you know what a spot IS, Squire?" When he came
out of the tent he had narrowly examined the
ticket-seller,--who seemed unaware of his scrutiny,
and, when not engaged with his tickets, applied
himself to a dirty law-looking book. It was
Joseph Louden, reasserted Eskew, a little taller, a
little paler, incredibly shabby and miraculously
thin. If there were any doubt left, his forehead
was somewhat disfigured by the scar of an old
wound--such as might have been caused by a
blunt instrument in the nature of a poker.
"What's the matter with YOU?" Mr. Arp
whirled upon Uncle Joe Davey, who was enjoying
himself by repeating at intervals the unreasonable
words, "Couldn't of be'n Joe," without any
explanation. "Why couldn't it?" shouted Eskew.
"It was! Do you think my eyes are as fur gone
as yours? I saw him, I tell you! The same ornery
Joe Louden, run away and sellin' tickets for a side-
show. He wasn't even the boss of it; the manager
was about the meanest-lookin' human I ever saw
--and most humans look mighty mean, accordin'
to my way of thinkin'! Riffraff of the riffraff are
his friends now, same as they were here. Weeds!
and HE'S a weed, always was and always will be!
Him and his kind ain't any more than jimpsons;
overrun everything if you give 'em a chance.
Devil-flowers! They have to be hoed out and
scattered--even then, like as not, they'll come
back next year and ruin your plantin' once more.
That boy Joe 'll turn up here again some day;
you'll see if he don't. He's a seed of trouble and
iniquity, and anything of that kind is sure to come
back to Canaan!"
Mr. Arp stuck to his prediction for several
months; then he began to waver and evade. By
the end of the second year following its first utterance,
he had formed the habit of denying that he
had ever made it at all, and, finally having come
to believe with all his heart that the prophecy had
been deliberately foisted upon him and put in his
mouth by Squire Buckalew, became so sore upon
the subject that even the hardiest dared not refer
to it in his presence.
Eskew's story of the ticket-seller was the only
news of Joe Louden that came to Canaan during
seven years. Another citizen of the town encountered
the wanderer, however, but under circumstances
so susceptible to misconception that, in a
moment of illumination, he decided to let the matter
rest in a golden silence. This was Mr. Bantry.
Having elected an elaborate course in the Arts,
at the University which was of his possessions,
what more natural than that Eugene should seek
the Metropolis for the short Easter vacation of
his Senior year, in order that his perusal of the
Masters should be uninterrupted? But it was his
misfortune to find the Metropolitan Museum less
interesting than some intricate phases of the gayety
of New York--phases very difficult to understand
without elaborate study and a series of experiments
which the discreetly selfish permit others to make
for them. Briefly, Eugene found himself dancing,
one night, with a young person in a big hat, at the
"Straw-Cellar," a crowded hall, down very deep
in the town and not at all the place for Eugene.
Acute crises are to be expected at the "Straw-
Cellar," and Eugene was the only one present who
was thoroughly surprised when that of this night
arrived, though all of the merrymakers were
frightened when they perceived its extent. There
is no need to detail the catastrophe. It came
suddenly, and the knife did not flash. Sick and thinking
of himself, Eugene stood staring at the figure
lying before him upon the reddening floor. A rabble
fought with the quick policemen at the doors,
and then the lights went out, extinguished by the
proprietor, living up to his reputation for always
being thoughtful of his patrons. The place had
been a nightmare; it became a black impossibility.
Eugene staggered to one of the open windows, from
the sill of which a man had just leaped.
"Don't jump," said a voice close to his ear.
"That fellow broke his leg, I think, and they
caught him, anyway, as soon as he struck the
pavement. It's a big raid. Come this way."
A light hand fell upon his arm and he followed
its leading, blindly, to find himself pushed through
a narrow doorway and down a flight of tricky,
wooden steps, at the foot of which, silhouetted
against a street light, a tall policeman was on guard.
He laid masterful hands on Eugene.
"'SH, Mack!" whispered a cautious voice from
the stairway. "That's a friend of mine and not
one of those you need. He's only a student and
scared to death."
"Hurry," said the policeman, under his breath,
twisting Eugene sharply by him into the street;
after which he stormed vehemently: "On yer way,
both of ye! Move on up the street! Don't be
tryin' to poke yer heads in here! Ye'd be more
anxious to git out, once ye got in, I tell ye!"
A sob of relief came from Bantry as he gained
the next corner, the slight figure of his conductor
at his side. "You'd better not go to places like
the `Straw-Cellar,' " said the latter, gravely. "I'd
been watching you for an hour. You were dancing
with the girl who did the cutting."
Eugene leaned against a wall, faint, one arm
across his face. He was too ill to see, or care, who
it was that had saved him. "I never saw her
before," he babbled, incoherently, "never, never,
never! I thought she looked handsome, and
asked her if she'd dance with me. Then I saw
she seemed queer--and wild, and she kept guiding
and pushing as we danced until we were near that
man--and then she--then it was all done--before--"
"Yes," said the other; "she's been threatening
to do it for a long time. Jealous. Mighty good
sort of a girl, though, in lots of ways. Only yesterday
I talked with her and almost thought I'd
calmed her out of it. But you can't tell with some
women. They'll brighten up and talk straight
and seem sensible, one minute, and promise to behave,
and mean it too, and the next, there they go,
making a scene, cutting somebody or killing
themselves! You can't count on them. But that's
not to the point, exactly, I expect. You'd better
keep away from the `Straw-Cellar.' If you'd been
caught with the rest you'd have had a hard time,
and they'd have found out your real name, too,
because it's pretty serious on account of your
dancing with her when she did it, and the Canaan
papers would have got hold of it and you
wouldn't be invited to Judge Pike's any more,
Eugene dropped his arm from his eyes and stared
into the face of his step-brother.
"Joe Louden!" he gasped.
"I'll never tell," said Joe. "You'd better keep
out of all this sort. You don't understand it, and
you don't--you don't do it because you care."
He smiled wanly, his odd distorted smile of
friendliness. "When you go back you might tell father
I'm all right. I'm working through a law-school
here--and remember me to Norbert Flitcroft," he
finished, with a chuckle.
Eugene covered his eyes again and groaned.
"It's all right," Joe assured him. "You're as
safe as if it had never happened. And I expect"
--he went on, thoughtfully--"I expect, maybe,
you'd prefer NOT to say you'd seen me, when you go
back to Canaan. Well, that's all right. I don't
suppose father will be asking after me--exactly."
"No, he doesn't," said Eugene, still white and
shaking. "Don't stand talking. I'm sick."
"Of course," returned Joe. "But there's one
thing I would like to ask you--"
"Your father's health is perfect, I believe."
"It--it--it was something else," Joe stammered,
pitifully. "Are they all--are they all--all right at
--at Judge Pike's?"
"Quite!" Eugene replied, sharply. "Are you going
to get me away from here? I'm sick, I tell you!"
"This street," said Joe, and cheerfully led the way.
Five minutes later the two had parted, and Joe
leaned against a cheap restaurant sign-board,
drearily staring after the lamps of the gypsy night-
cab he had found for his step-brother. Eugene
had not offered to share the vehicle with him, had
not even replied to his good-night.
And Joe himself had neglected to do something
he might well have done: he had not asked Eugene
for news of Ariel Tabor. It will not justify him
entirely to suppose that he assumed that her
grandfather and she had left Canaan never to
return, and therefore Eugene knew nothing of her;
no such explanation serves Joe for his neglect, for
the fair truth is that he had not thought of her.
She had been a sort of playmate, before his flight,
a friend taken for granted, about whom he had
consciously thought little more than he thought
about himself--and easily forgotten. Not forgotten
in the sense that she had passed out of his
memory, but forgotten none the less; she had
never had a place in his imaginings, and so it
befell that when he no longer saw her from day to
day, she had gone from his thoughts altogether.
A BAD PENNY TURNS UP
Eugene did not inform Canaan, nor
any inhabitant, of his adventure of
"Straw-Cellar," nor did any hear
of his meeting with his step-brother;
and after Mr. Arp's adventure, five
years passed into the imperishable before the town
heard of the wanderer again, and then it heard at
first hand; Mr. Arp's prophecy fell true, and he
took it back to his bosom again, claimed it as his
own the morning of its fulfilment. Joe Louden
had come back to Canaan.
The elder Louden was the first to know of his
prodigal's return. He was alone in the office of
the wooden-butter-dish factory, of which he was
the superintendent, when the young man came in
unannounced. He was still pale and thin; his
eyebrows had the same crook, one corner of his
mouth the same droop; he was only an inch or so
taller, not enough to be thought a tall man; and
yet, for a few moments the father did not recognize
his son, but stared at him, inquiring his business.
During those few seconds of unrecognition, Mr.
Louden was somewhat favorably impressed with
the stranger's appearance.
"You don't know me," said Joe, smiling
cheerfully. "Perhaps I've changed in seven years."
And he held out his hand.
Then Mr. Louden knew; he tilted back in his
desk-chair, his mouth falling open. "Good God!"
he said, not noticing the out-stretched hand. "Have
YOU come back?"
Joe's hand fell.
"Yes, I've come back to Canaan."
Mr. Louden looked at him a long time without
replying; finally he remarked:
"I see you've still got a scar on your forehead."
"Oh, I've forgotten all about that," said the
other, twisting his hat in his hands. "Seven years
wipes out a good many grievances and wrongs."
"You think so?" Mr Louden grunted. "I suppose
it might wipe out a good deal with some people.
How'd you happen to stop off at Canaan?
On your way somewhere, I suppose."
"No, I've come back to stay."
Mr. Louden plainly received this as no pleasant
surprise. "What for?" he asked, slowly.
"To practise law, father."
"Yes," said the young man. "There ought to
be an opening here for me. I'm a graduate of as
good a law-school as there is in the country--"
"Certainly," said Joe, quietly. "I've put
myself through, working in the summer--"
"Working!" Mr. Louden snorted. "Side-shows?"
"Oh, worse than that, sometimes," returned his
son, laughing. "Anything I could get. But I've
always wanted to come back home and work here."
Mr. Louden leaned forward, a hand on each
knee, his brow deeply corrugated. "Do you think
you'll get much practice in Canaan?"
"Why not? I've had a year in a good office in
New York since I left the school, and I think I
ought to get along all right."
"Oh," said Mr. Louden, briefly. "You do?"
"Yes. Don't you?"
"Who do you think in Canaan would put a case
in your hands?"
"Oh, I don't expect to get anything important
at the start. But after a while "
"With your reputation?"
The smile which had faded from Joe's lips
returned to them. "Oh, I know they thought I
was a harum-scarum sort of boy," he answered
lightly, "and that it was a foolish thing to run
away for nothing; but you had said I mustn't come
to you for help--"
"I meant it," said Mr. Louden.
"But that's seven years ago, and I suppose the
town's forgotten all about it, and forgotten me,
too. So, you see, I can make a fresh start. That's
what I came back for."
"You've made up your mind to stay here, then?"
"I don't believe," said Mr. Louden, with marked
uneasiness, "that Mrs. Louden would be willing to
let you live with us."
"No," said Joe, gently. "I didn't expect it."
He turned to the window and looked out, averting
his face, yet scoring himself with the contempt
he had learned to feel for those who pity themselves.
His father had not even asked him to
sit down. There was a long silence, disturbed only
by Mr. Louden's breathing, which could be heard,
heavy and troubled.
At last Joe turned again, smiling as before.
"Well, I won't keep you from your work," he said.
"I suppose you're pretty busy--"
"Yes, I am," responded his father, promptly.
"But I'll see you again before you go. I want to
give you some advice."
"I'm not going," said Joe. "Not going to
leave Canaan, I mean. Where will I find Eugene?"
"At the Tocsin office; he's the assistant editor.
Judge Pike bought the Tocsin last year, and he
thinks a good deal of Eugene. Don't forget I said
to come to see me again before you go."
Joe came over to the older man and held out
his hand. "Shake hands, father," he said. Mr.
Louden looked at him out of small implacable
eyes, the steady hostility of which only his wife
or the imperious Martin Pike, his employer, could
quell. He shook his head.
"I don't see any use in it," he answered. "It
wouldn't mean anything. All my life I've been
a hard-working man and an abiding man. Before
you got in trouble you never did anything you
ought to; you ran with the lowest people in town,
and I and all your folks were ashamed of you. I
don't see that we've got a call to be any different
now." He swung round to his desk emphatically,
on the last word, and Joe turned away and went
But it was a bright morning to which he emerged
from the outer doors of the factory, and he made
his way towards Main Street at a lively gait. As he
turned the corner opposite the "National House,"
he walked into Mr. Eskew Arp. The old man
drew back angrily
"Lord 'a' mercy!" cried Joe, heartily. "It's
Mr. Arp! I almost ran you down!" Then, as
Mr. Arp made no response, but stood stock-still in
the way, staring at him fiercely, "Don't you know
me, Mr. Arp?" the young man asked. "I'm Joe
Eskew abruptly thrust his face close to the
other's. "NO FREE SEATS!" he hissed, savagely; and
swept across to the hotel to set his world afire.
Joe looked after the irate, receding figure, and
watched it disappear into the Main Street door of
the "National House." As the door closed, he
became aware of a mighty shadow upon the pavement,
and turning, beheld a fat young man, wearing
upon his forehead a scar similar to his own,
waddling by with eyes fixed upon him.
"How are you, Norbert?" Joe began. "Don't
you remember me? I--" He came to a full stop,
as the fat one, thrusting out an under lip as his
only token of recognition, passed balefully on.
Joe proceeded slowly until he came to the Tocsin
building. At the foot of the stairway leading up
to the offices he hesitated for a few moments; then
he turned away and walked towards the quieter
part of Main Street. Most of the people he met
took no notice of him, only two or three giving him
second glances of half-cognizance, as though he
reminded them of some one they could not place,
and it was not until he had come near the Pike
Mansion that he saw a full recognition in the eyes
of one of the many whom he knew, and who had
known him in his boyhood in the town. A lady,
turning a corner, looked up carelessly, and then
half-stopped within a few feet of him, as if startled.
Joe's cheeks went a sudden crimson; for it was the
lady of his old dreams.
Seven years had made Mamie Pike only prettier.
She had grown into her young womanhood with
an ampleness that had nothing of oversufficiency
in it, nor anywhere a threat that some day there
might be too much of her. Not quite seventeen
when he had last seen her, now, at twenty-four, her
amber hair elaborately becoming a plump and
regular face, all of her old charm came over him
once more, and it immediately seemed to him that
he saw clearly his real reason for coming back to
Canaan. She had been the Rich-Little-Girl of his
child days, the golden princess playing in the
Palace-Grounds, and in his early boyhood (until
he had grown wicked and shabby) he had been
sometimes invited to the Pike Mansion for the
games and ice-cream of the daughter of the house,
before her dancing days began. He had gone
timidly, not daring ever to "call" her in "Quaker
Meeting" or "Post-office," but watching her
reverently and surreptitiously and continually. She
had always seemed to him the one thing of all the
world most rare, most mysterious, most
unapproachable. She had not offered an apparition
less so in those days when he began to come under
the suspicion of Canaan, when the old people began
to look upon him hotly, the young people
coldly. His very exclusion wove for him a glamour
about her, and she was more than ever his moon,
far, lovely, unattainable, and brilliant, never to be
reached by his lifted arms, but only by his lifted
eyes. Nor had his long absence obliterated that
light; somewhere in his dreams it always had
place, shining, perhaps, with a fainter lustre as the
years grew to seven, but never gone altogether.
Now, at last, that he stood in her very presence
again, it sprang to the full flood of its old brilliance
As she came to her half-stop of surprise, startled,
he took his courage in two hands, and, lifting his
hat, stepped to her side.
"You--you remember me?" he stammered.
"Yes," she answered, a little breathlessly.
"Ah, that's kind of you!" he cried, and began
to walk on with her, unconsciously. "I feel like a
returned ghost wandering about--invisible and
unrecognized. So few people seem to remember me!"
"I think you are wrong. I think you'll find
everybody remembers you," she responded, uneasily.
"No, I'm afraid not," he began. "I--"
"I'm afraid they do!"
Joe laughed a little. "My father was saying
something like that to me a while ago. He meant
that they used to think me a great scapegrace here.
Do you mean that?"
"I'd scarcely like to say," she answered, her face
growing more troubled; for they were close on the
"But it's long ago--and I really didn't do anything
so outrageous, it seems to me." He laughed
again. "I know your father was angry with me
once or twice, especially the night I hid on your
porch to watch you--to watch you dance, I mean.
But, you see, I've come back to rehabilitate myself, to--"
She interrupted him. They were not far from
her gate, and she saw her father standing in the
yard, directing a painter who was at work on one
of the cast-iron deer. The Judge was apparently
in good spirits, laughing with the workman over
some jest between them, but that did not lessen
"Mr. Louden," she said, in as kindly a tone as
she could, "I shall have to ask you not to walk
with me. My father would not like it."
Joe stopped with a jerk.
"Why, I--I thought I'd go in and shake hands
with him,--and tell him I--"
Astonishment that partook of terror and of awe
spread itself instantly upon her face.
"Good gracious!" she cried. "NO!"
"Very well," said Joe, humbly. "Good-bye."
He was too late to get away with any good grace.
Judge Pike had seen them, and, even as Joe turned
to go, rushed down to the gate, flung it open, and
motioned his daughter to enter. This he did with
one wide sweep of his arm, and, with another
sweep, forbade Joe to look upon either moon OR
sun. It was a magnificent gesture: it excluded the
young man from the street, Judge Pike's street,
and from the town, Judge Pike's town. It swept
him from the earth, abolished him, denied him
the right to breathe the common air, to be seen of
men; and, at once a headsman's stroke and an
excommunication, destroyed him, soul and body,
thus rebuking the silly Providence that had created
him, and repairing Its mistake by annihilating
him. This hurling Olympian gesture smote the
street; the rails of the car-track sprang and
quivered with the shock; it thundered, and, amid the
dumfounding uproar of the wrath of a god, the
Will of the Canaanite Jove wrote the words in
fiery letters upon the ether:
"CEASE TO BE!"
Joe did not go in to shake hands with Judge
He turned the next corner a moment later, and
went down the quiet street which led to the house
which had been his home. He did not glance at
that somewhat grim edifice, but passed it, his eyes
averted, and stopped in front of the long,
ramshackle cottage next door. The windows were
boarded; the picket-fence dropped even to the
ground in some sections; the chimneys sagged
and curved; the roof of the long porch sprinkled
shingles over the unkempt yard with every wind,
and seemed about to fall. The place was desolate
with long emptiness and decay: it looked like a
Haunted House; and nailed to the padlocked gate
was a sign, half obliterated with the winters it
had fronted, "For Sale or Rent."
Joe gat him meditatively back to Main Street
and to the Tocsin building. This time he did not
hesitate, but mounted the stairs and knocked upon
the door of the assistant editor.
"Oh," said Eugene. "YOU'VE turned up,
Mr. Bantry of the Tocsin was not at all the
Eugene rescued from the "Straw-Cellar." The present
gentleman was more the electric Freshman than
the frightened adventurer whom Joe had encountered
in New York. It was to be seen immediately
that the assistant editor had nothing undaintily
business-like about him, nor was there the litter
on his desk which one might have expected. He
had the air of a gentleman dilettante who amused
himself slightly by spending an hour or two in the
room now and then. It was the evolution to the
perfect of his Freshman manner, and his lively
apparel, though somewhat chastened by an older
taste, might have been foretold from that which
had smitten Canaan seven years before. He sat
not at the orderly and handsome desk, but lay
stretched upon a divan of green leather, smoking a
cigar of purest ray and reading sleepily a small
verse-looking book in morocco. His occupation,
his general air, the furniture of the room, and his
title (doubtless equipped with a corresponding
salary) might have inspired in an observant cynic
the idea that here lay a pet of Fortune, whose
position had been the fruit of nepotism, or,
mayhap, a successful wooing of some daughter,
wife, or widow. Eugene looked competent for
"I've come back to stay, 'Gene," said Joe.
Bantry had dropped his book and raised himself
on an elbow. "Exceedingly interesting," he said.
"I suppose you'll try to find something to do. I
don't think you could get a place here; Judge Pike
owns the Tocsin, and I greatly fear he has a prejudice
"I expect he has," Joe chuckled, somewhat
sadly. "But I don't want newspaper work. I'm
going to practice law."
"By Jove! you have courage, my festive prodigal.
Joe cocked his head to one side with his old look
of the friendly puppy. "You always did like to
talk that noveletty way, 'Gene, didn't you?" he
Eugene's color rose. "Have you saved up anything
to starve on?" he asked, crisply.
"Oh, I'm not so badly off. I've had a salary in
an office for a year, and I had one pretty good day
at the races--"
"You'd better go back and have another," said
his step-brother. "You don't seem to comprehend
your standing in Canaan."
"I'm beginning to." Joe turned to the door.
"It's funny, too--in a way. Well--I won't keep
you any longer. I just stopped in to say good-
day--" He paused, faltering.
"All right, all right," Eugene said, briskly.
"And, by-the-way, I haven't mentioned that I saw
you in New York."
"Oh, I didn't suppose that you would."
"And you needn't say anything about it, I
"I don't think," said Joe,--"I don't think that
you need be afraid I'll do that. Good-bye."
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