The Conquest of Canaan
Part 3 out of 7
"Be sure to shut the door, please; it's rather
noisy with it open. Good-bye." Eugene waved
his hand and sank back upon the divan.
Joe went across the street to the "National
House." The sages fell as silent as if he had been
Martin Pike. They had just had the pleasure of
hearing a telephone monologue by Mr. Brown, the
clerk, to which they listened intently: "Yes. This
is Brown. Oh--oh, it's Judge Pike? Yes indeed,
Judge, yes indeed, I hear you--ha, ha! Of course,
I understand. Yes, Judge, I heard he was in
town. No, he hasn't been here. Not yet, that
is, Judge. Yes, I hear. No, I won't, of course.
Certainly not. I will, I will. I hear perfectly, I
understand. Yes, sir. Good-bye, Judge."
Joe had begun to write his name in the register.
"My trunk is still at the station," he said. "I'll
give you my check to send down for it."
"Excuse me," said the clerk. "We have no rooms."
"What!" cried Joe, innocently. "Why, I never
knew more than eight people to stay here at the
same time in my life."
"We have no rooms," repeated the clerk, curtly.
"Is there a convention here?"
"We have no rooms, I say!"
Joe looked up into the condensed eyes of Mr.
Brown. "Oh," he said, "I see."
Deathly silence followed him to the door, but,
as it closed behind him, he heard the outbreak of
the sages like a tidal wave striking a dump-heap
of tin cans.
Two hours later he descended from an evil ark
of a cab at the corral attached to Beaver Beach,
and followed the path through the marsh to the
crumbling pier. A red-bearded man was seated
on a plank by the water edge, fishing.
"Mike," said Joe, "have you got room for me?
Can you take me in for a few days until I find a
place in town where they'll let me stay?"
The red-bearded man rose slowly, pushed back
his hat, and stared hard at the wanderer; then he
uttered a howl of joy and seized the other's hands
in his and shook them wildly.
"Glory be on high!" he shouted. "It's Joe
Louden come back! We never knew how we
missed ye till ye'd gone! Place fer ye! Can I
find it? There ain't a imp o' perdition in town,
includin' myself, that wouldn't kill me if I couldn't!
Ye'll have old Maggie's room, my own aunt's; ye
remember how she used to dance! Ha, ha! She's
been burnin' below these four years! And we'll
have the celebration of yer return this night.
There'll be many of 'em will come when they hear
ye're back in Canaan! Praise God, we'll all hope
ye're goin' to stay a while!"
If any echo of doubt concerning his
undesirable conspicuousness sounded
faintly in Joe's mind, it was silenced
eftsoons. Canaan had not forgotten
him--far from it!--so far that it began
pointing him out to strangers on the street
the very day of his return. His course of action,
likewise that of his friends, permitted him little
obscurity, and when the rumors of his finally
obtaining lodging at Beaver Beach, and of the
celebration of his installation there, were presently
confirmed, he stood in the lime-light indeed, as a
Mephistopheles upsprung through the trap-door.
The welcoming festivities had not been so
discreetly conducted as to accord with the general
policy of Beaver Beach. An unfortunate incident
caused the arrest of one of the celebrators and the
ambulancing to the hospital of another on the
homeward way, the ensuing proceedings in court
bringing to the whole affair a publicity devoutly
unsought for. Mr. Happy Fear (such was the
habitual name of the imprisoned gentleman) had
to bear a great amount of harsh criticism for
injuring a companion within the city limits after
daylight, and for failing to observe that three
policemen were not too distant from the scene of
operations to engage therein.
"Happy, if ye had it in mind to harm him,"
said the red-bearded man to Mr. Fear, upon the
latter's return to society, "why didn't ye do it
out here at the Beach?"
"Because," returned the indiscreet, "he didn't
say what he was goin' to say till we got in town."
Extraordinary probing on the part of the
prosecutor had developed at the trial that the obnoxious
speech had referred to the guest of the evening.
The assaulted party, one "Nashville" Cory, was
not of Canaan, but a bit of drift-wood haply touching
shore for the moment at Beaver Beach; and--
strange is this world--he had been introduced to
the coterie of Mike's Place by Happy Fear himself,
who had enjoyed a brief acquaintance with him on
a day when both had chanced to travel incognito
by the same freight. Naturally, Happy had felt
responsible for the proper behavior of his protege
--was, in fact, bound to enforce it; additionally,
Happy had once been saved from a term of
imprisonment (at a time when it would have been
more than ordinarily inconvenient) by help and
advice from Joe, and he was not one to forget.
Therefore he was grieved to observe that his
own guest seemed to be somewhat jealous of the
hero of the occasion and disposed to look coldly
upon him. The stranger, however, contented
himself with innuendo (mere expressions of the
face and other manner of things for which one
could not squarely lay hands upon him) until
such time as he and his sponsor had come to Main
Street in the clear dawn on their way to Happy's
apartment--a variable abode. It may be that
the stranger perceived what Happy did not; the
three bluecoats in the perspective; at all events,
he now put into words of simple strength the
unfavorable conception he had formed of Joe. The
result was mediaevally immediate, and the period
of Mr. Cory's convalescence in the hospital was
almost half that of his sponsor's detention in the
It needed nothing to finish Joe with the good
people of Canaan; had it needed anything, the
trial of Happy Fear would have overspilled the
necessity. An item of the testimony was that
Joseph Louden had helped to carry one of the
ladies present--a Miss Le Roy, who had fainted--
to the open air, and had jostled the stranger in
passing. After this, the oldest woman in Canaan
would not have dared to speak to Joe on the street
(even if she wanted to), unless she happened to
be very poor or very wicked. The Tocsin printed
an adequate account (for there was "a large public
interest"), recording in conclusion that Mr.
Louden paid the culprit's fine which was the
largest in the power of the presiding judge in his
mercy to bestow. Editorially, the Tocsin leaned to
the facetious: "Mr. Louden has but recently
`returned to our midst.' We fervently hope that
the distinguished Happy Fear will appreciate his
patron's superb generosity. We say `his patron,'
but perhaps we err in this. Were it not better to
figure Mr. Louden as the lady in distress, Mr. Fear
as the champion in the lists? In the present case,
however, contrary to the rules of romance, the
champion falls in duress and passes to the dungeon.
We merely suggest, en passant, that some of our
best citizens might deem it a wonderful and beauteous
thing if, in addition to paying the fine, Mr.
Louden could serve for the loyal Happy his six
months in the Bastile!"
"En passant," if nothing else, would have
revealed to Joe, in this imitation of a better trick, the
hand of Eugene. And, little doubt, he would have
agreed with Squire Buckalew in the Squire's answer
to the easily expected comment of Mr. Arp.
"Sometimes," said Eskew, "I think that 'Gene
Bantry is jest a leetle bit spiderier than he is lazy.
That's the first thing he's written in the Tocsin this
month--one of the boys over there told me. He
wrote it out of spite against Joe; but he'd ought
to of done better. If his spite hadn't run away
with what mind he's got, he'd of said that both
Joe Louden and that tramp Fear ought to of had
"'Gene Bantry didn't write that out of spite,"
answered Buckalew. "He only thought he saw
a chance to be kind of funny and please Judge Pike.
The Judge has always thought Joe was a no-account--"
"Ain't he right?" cried Mr. Arp.
"_I_ don't say he ain't." Squire Buckalew cast a
glance at Mr. Brown, the clerk, and, perceiving that
he was listening, added, "The Judge always IS
"Yes, sir!" said Colonel Flitcroft.
"I can't stand up for Joe Louden to any extent,
but I don't think he done wrong," Buckalew went
on, recovering, "when he paid this man Fear's
"You don't!" exclaimed Mr. Arp. "Why,
haven't you got gumption enough to see--"
"Look here, Eskew," interposed his antagonist.
"How many friends have you got that hate to hear
folks talk bad about you?"
"Not a one!" For once Eskew's guard was
down, and his consistency led him to destruction.
"Not a one! It ain't in human nature. They're
bound to enjoy it!"
"Got any friends that would FIGHT for you?"
Eskew walked straight into this hideous trap.
"No! There ain't a dozen men ever LIVED that
had! Caesar was a popular man, but he didn't
have a soul to help him when the crowd lit on him,
and I'll bet old Mark Antony was mighty glad
they got him out in the yard before it happened,--
HE wouldn't have lifted a finger without a gang
behind him! Why, all Peter himself could do was
to cut off an ear that wasn't no use to anybody.
What are you tryin' to get AT?"
The Squire had him; and paused, and stroked his
chin, to make the ruin complete. "Then I reckon
you'll have to admit," he murmured, "that, while
I ain't defendin' Joe Louden's character, it was
kind of proper for him to stand by a feller that
wouldn't hear nothin' against him, and fought for
him as soon as he DID hear it!"
Eskew Arp rose from his chair and left the hotel.
It was the only morning in all the days of the
conclave when he was the first to leave.
Squire Buckalew looked after the retreating
figure, total triumph shining brazenly from his
spectacles. "I expect," he explained, modestly,
to the others,--"I expect I don't think any more
of Joe Louden than he does, and I'll be glad when
Canaan sees the last of him for good; but sometimes
the temptation to argue with Eskew does
lead me on to kind of git the better of him."
When Happy Fear had suffered--with a give-
and-take simplicity of patience--his allotment of
months in durance, and was released and sent into
the streets and sunshine once more, he knew that
his first duty lay in the direction of a general
apology to Joe. But the young man was no longer at
Beaver Beach; the red-bearded proprietor dwelt
alone there, and, receiving Happy with scorn and
pity, directed him to retrace his footsteps to the
"Ye must have been in the black hole of
incarceration indeed, if ye haven't heard that Mr.
Louden has his law-office on the Square, and his
livin'-room behind the office. It's in that little
brick buildin' straight acrost from the sheriff's
door o' the jail--ye've been neighbors this long
time! A hard time the boy had, persuadin' any
one to rent to him, but by payin' double the price
he got a place at last. He's a practisin' lawyer
now, praise the Lord! And all the boys and girls
of our acquaintance go to him with their troubles.
Ye'll see him with a murder case to try before
long, as sure as ye're not worth yer salt! But I
expect ye can still call him by his name of Joe, all
It was a bleak and meagre little office into
which Mr. Fear ushered himself to offer his amends.
The cracked plaster of the walls was bare (save
for dust); there were no shelves; the fat brown
volumes, most of them fairly new, were piled in
regular columns upon a cheap pine table; there
was but one window, small-paned and shadeless; an
inner door of this sad chamber stood half ajar,
permitting the visitor unreserved acquaintance with
the domestic economy of the tenant; for it disclosed
a second room, smaller than the office, and
dependent upon the window of the latter for air and
light. Behind a canvas camp-cot, dimly visible
in the obscurity of the inner apartment, stood a
small gas-stove, surmounted by a stew-pan, from
which projected the handle of a big tin spoon, so
that it needed no ghost from the dead to whisper
that Joseph Louden, attorney-at-law, did his own
cooking. Indeed, he looked it!
Upon the threshold of the second room reposed a
small, worn, light-brown scrub-brush of a dog, so
cosmopolitan in ancestry that his species was
almost as undeterminable as the cast-iron dogs of
the Pike Mansion. He greeted Mr. Fear hospitably,
having been so lately an offcast of the streets
himself that his adoption had taught him to lose
only his old tremors, not his hopefulness. At
the same time Joe rose quickly from the deal
table, where he had been working with one hand
in his hair, the other splattering ink from a bad
"Good for you, Happy!" he cried, cheerfully.
"I hoped you'd come to see me to-day. I've been
thinking about a job for you."
"What kind of a job?" asked the visitor, as they
shook hands. "I need one bad enough, but you
know there ain't nobody in Canaan would gimme
Joe pushed him into one of the two chairs which
completed the furniture of his office. "Yes, there
is. I've got an idea--"
"First," broke in Mr. Fear, fingering his shapeless
hat and fixing his eyes upon it with embarrassment,--"
first lemme say what I come here to say.
I--well--" His embarrassment increased and he
paused, rubbing the hat between his hands.
"About this job," Joe began. "We can fix it
"No," said Happy. "You lemme go on. I
didn't mean fer to cause you no trouble when I lit
on that loud-mouth, `Nashville'; I never thought
they'd git me, or you'd be dragged in. But I jest
couldn't stand him no longer. He had me all wore
out--all evening long a-hintin' and sniffin' and
wearin' that kind of a high-smile 'cause they made
so much fuss over you. And then when we got
clear in town he come out with it! Said you was
too quiet to suit HIM--said he couldn't see nothin'
TO you! `Well,' I says to myself, `jest let him go
on, jest one more,' I says, `then he gits it.' And
he did. Said you tromped on his foot on purpose,
said he knowed it,--when the Lord-a'mightiest fool
on earth knows you never tromped on no one!
Said you was one of the po'rest young sports he
ever see around a place like the Beach. You see,
he thought you was jest one of them fool `Bloods'
that come around raisin' a rumpus, and didn't know
you was our friend and belonged out there, the same
as me or Mike hisself. `Go on,' I says to myself,
`jest one more!' `HE better go home to his mamma,'
he says; `he'll git in trouble if he don't. Somebody
'll soak him if he hangs around in MY company.
_I_ don't like his WAYS.' Then I HAD to do
it. There jest wasn't nothin' LEFT--but I wouldn't
of done you no harm by it--"
"You didn't do me any harm, Happy."
"I mean your repitation."
"I didn't have one--so nothing in the world could
harm it. About your getting some work, now--"
"I'll listen," said Happy, rather suspiciously.
"You see," Joe went on, growing red, "I need
a sort of janitor here--"
"What fer?" Mr. Fear interrupted, with some
"To look after the place."
"You mean these two rooms?"
"There's a stairway, too," Joe put forth, quickly.
"It wouldn't be any sinecure, Happy. You'd
earn your money; don't be afraid of that!"
Mr. Fear straightened up, his burden of
embarrassment gone from him, transferred to the
"There always was a yellow streak in you, Joe,"
he said, firmly. "You're no good as a liar except
when you're jokin'. A lot you need a janitor!
You had no business to pay my fine; you'd ort of
let me worked it out. Do you think my eyes ain't
good enough to see how much you needed the
money, most of all right now when you're tryin' to
git started? If I ever take a cent from you, I hope
the hand I hold out fer it 'll rot off."
"Now don't say that, Happy."
"I don't want a job, nohow!" said Mr. Fear,
going to the door; "I don't want to work. There's
plenty ways fer me to git along without that. But
I've said what I come here to say, and I'll say one
thing more. Don't you worry about gittin' law
practice. Mike says you're goin' to git all you
want--and if there ain't no other way, why, a few
of us 'll go out and MAKE some fer ye!"
These prophecies and promises, over which Joe
chuckled at first, with his head cocked to one
side, grew very soon, to his amazement, to wear a
supernatural similarity to actual fulfilment. His
friends brought him their own friends, such as
had sinned against the laws of Canaan, those under
the ban of the sheriff, those who had struck in
anger, those who had stolen at night, those who
owed and could not pay, those who lived by the
dice, and to his other titles to notoriety was added
that of defender of the poor and wicked. He found
his hands full, especially after winning his first
important case--on which occasion Canaan thought
the jury mad, and was indignant with the puzzled
Judge, who could not see just how it had happened.
Joe did not stop at that. He kept on winning
cases, clearing the innocent and lightening the
burdens of the guilty; he became the most dangerous
attorney for the defence in Canaan; his honorable
brethren, accepting the popular view of him, held
him in personal contempt but feared him
professionally; for he proved that he knew more law
than they thought existed; nor could any trick him
--failing which, many tempers were lost, but never
Joe's. His practice was not all criminal, as shown
by the peevish outburst of the eminent Buckalew
(the Squire's nephew, esteemed the foremost lawyer
in Canaan), "Before long, there won't be any
use trying to foreclose a mortgage or collect a note
--unless this shyster gets himself in jail!"
The wrath of Judge Martin Pike was august--
there was a kind of sublimity in its immenseness--
on a day when it befell that the shyster stood
betwixt him and money.
That was a monstrous task--to stand between
these two and separate them, to hold back the
hand of Martin Pike from what it had reached out
to grasp. It was in the matter of some tax-titles
which the magnate had acquired, and, in court,
Joe treated the case with such horrifying
simplicity that it seemed almost credible that the
great man had counted upon the ignorance and
besottedness of Joe's client--a hard-drinking,
disreputable old farmer--to get his land away from
him without paying for it. Now, as every one
knew such a thing to be ludicrously impossible,
it was at once noised abroad in Canaan that Joe
had helped to swindle Judge Pike out of a large
sum of money--it was notorious that the shyster
could bamboozle court and jury with his tricks;
and it was felt that Joe Louden was getting into
very deep waters indeed. THIS was serious: if
the young man did not LOOK OUT, he might find
himself in the penitentiary.
The Tocsin paragraphed him with a fine regularity
after this, usually opening with a Walrus-and-the-Carpenter
gravity: "The time has come when
we must speak of a certain matter frankly," or, "At
last the time has arrived when the demoralization
of the bar caused by a certain criminal lawyer must
be dealt with as it is and without gloves." Once
when Joe had saved a half-witted negro from "the
extreme penalty" for murder, the Tocsin had
declared, with great originality: "This is just the
kind of thing that causes mobs and justifies them.
If we are to continue to permit the worst class
of malefactors to escape the consequences of their
crimes through the unwholesome dexterities and the
shifty manipulations and technicalities of a
certain criminal lawyer, the time will come when an
outraged citizenry may take the enforcement of
the law in its own hands. Let us call a spade a
spade. If Canaan's streets ever echo with the
tread of a mob, the fault lies upon the head of
Joseph Louden, who has once more brought about
a miscarriage of justice. . . ."
Joe did not move into a larger office; he remained
in the little room with its one window and its fine
view of the jail; his clients were nearly all poor, and
many of his fees quite literally nominal. Tatters
and rags came up the narrow stairway to his door
--tatters and rags and pitiful fineries: the bleared,
the sodden, the flaunting and rouged, the furtive
and wary, some in rags, some in tags, and some--
the sorriest--in velvet gowns. With these, the
distressed, the wrong-doers, the drunken, the
dirty, and the very poor, his work lay and his days
and nights were spent.
Ariel had told Roger Tabor that in time Joe
might come to be what the town thought him, if
it gave him no other chance. Only its dinginess
and evil surrounded him; no respectable house was
open to him; the barrooms--except that of the
"National House"--welcomed him gratefully and
admiringly. Once he went to church, on a pleasant
morning when nice girls wear pretty spring
dresses; it gave him a thrill of delight to see them,
to be near clean, good people once more.
Inadvertently, he took a seat by his step-mother, who
rose with a slight rustle of silk and moved to
another pew; and it happened, additionally, that
this was the morning that the minister, fired by
the Tocsin's warnings, had chosen to preach on
the subject of Joe himself.
The outcast returned to his own kind. No lady
spoke to him upon the street. Mamie Pike had
passed him with averted eyes since her first meeting
with him, but the shunning and snubbing of a
young man by a pretty girl have never yet, if
done in a certain way, prevented him from
continuing to be in love with her. Mamie did it in
the certain way. Joe did not wince, therefore it
hurt all the more, for blows from which one cringes
lose much of their force.
The town dog had been given a bad name,
painted solid black from head to heel. He was a
storm centre of scandal; the entrance to his dingy
stairway was in square view of the "National
House," and the result is imaginable. How many
of Joe's clients, especially those sorriest of the velvet
gowns, were conjectured to ascend his stairs for
reasons more convivial than legal! Yes, he lived with
his own kind, and, so far as the rest of Canaan was
concerned, might as well have worn the scarlet
letter on his breast or branded on his forehead.
When he went about the streets he was made to
feel his condition by the elaborate avoidance, yet
furtive attention, of every respectable person he
met; and when he came home to his small rooms
and shut the door behind him, he was as one who
has been hissed and shamed in public and runs
to bury his hot face in his pillow. He petted
his mongrel extravagantly (well he might!), and
would sit with him in his rooms at night, holding
long converse with him, the two alone together.
The dog was not his only confidant. There came
to be another, a more and more frequent partner
to their conversations, at last a familiar spirit.
This third came from a brown jug which Joe kept
on a shelf in his bedroom, a vessel too frequently
replenished. When the day's work was done he
shut himself up, drank alone and drank hard.
Sometimes when the jug ran low and the night was
late he would go out for a walk with his dog, and
would awake in his room the next morning not
remembering where he had gone or how he had
come home. Once, after such a lapse of memory,
he woke amazed to find himself at Beaver Beach,
whither, he learned from the red-bearded man,
Happy Fear had brought him, having found him
wandering dazedly in a field near by. These lapses
grew more frequent, until there occurred that which
was one of the strange things of his life.
It was a June night, a little more than two years
after his return to Canaan, and the Tocsin had that
day announced the approaching marriage of Eugene
Bantry and his employer's daughter. Joe ate
nothing during the day, and went through his work
clumsily, visiting the bedroom shelf at intervals.
At ten in the evening he went out to have the jug
refilled, but from the moment he left his door and
the fresh air struck his face, he had no clear knowledge
of what he did or of what went on about him
until he woke in his bed the next morning.
And yet, whatever little part of the soul of him
remained, that night, still undulled, not numbed,
but alive, was in some strange manner lifted out of
its pain towards a strange delight. His body was
an automaton, his mind in bondage, yet there was
a still, small consciousness in him which knew that
in his wandering something incredible and unexpected
was happening. What this was he did not
know, could not see, though his eyes were open,
could not have told himself any more than a baby
could tell why it laughs, but it seemed something
so beautiful and wonderful that the night became
a night of perfume, its breezes bearing the music
of harps and violins, while nightingales sang from
the maples that bordered the streets of Canaan.
He woke to the light of morning amazed
and full of a strange wonder because
he did not know what had amazed
him. For a little while after his eyes
opened, he lay quite motionless; then
he lifted his head slightly and shook it with some
caution. This had come to be custom. The
operation assured him of the worst; the room swam
round him, and, with a faint groan, he let his head
fall back upon the pillow. But he could not sleep
again; pain stung its way through his heart as
memory began to come back to him, not of the
preceding night--that was all blank,--but realization
that the girl of whom he had dreamed so long
was to be married. That his dreams had been quite
hopeless was no balm to his hurt.
A chime of bells sounded from a church steeple
across the Square, ringing out in assured righteousness,
summoning the good people who maintained
them to come and sit beneath them or be taken to
task; and they fell so dismally upon Joe's ear that
he bestirred himself and rose, to the delight of his
mongrel, who leaped upon him joyfully. An hour
later, or thereabout, the pair emerged from the narrow
stairway and stood for a moment, blinking in
the fair sunshine, apparently undecided which way
to go. The church bells were silent; there was no
breeze; the air trembled a little with the deep
pipings of the organ across the Square, and, save for
that, the town was very quiet. The paths which
crossed the Court-house yard were flecked with
steady shadow, the strong young foliage of the
maples not moving, having the air of observing the
Sabbath with propriety. There were benches here
and there along the walks, and to one of these Joe
crossed, and sat down. The mongrel, at his master's
feet, rolled on his back in morning ecstasy, ceased
abruptly to roll and began to scratch his ear with
a hind foot intently. A tiny hand stretched to pat
his head, and the dog licked it appreciatively. It
belonged to a hard-washed young lady of six (in
starchy, white frills and new, pink ribbons), who
had run ahead of her mother, a belated church-goer;
and the mongrel charmed her.
"Will you give me this dog?" she asked, without
any tedious formalities.
Involuntarily, she departed before receiving a
reply. The mother, a red-faced matron whom Joe
recognized as a sister of Mrs. Louden's, consequently
his step-aunt, swooped at the child with a rush
and rustle of silk, and bore her on violently to her
duty. When they had gone a little way the
matron's voice was heard in sharp reproof; the child,
held by one wrist and hurried along on tiptoe,
staring back over one shoulder at Joe, her eyes
wide, and her mouth the shape of the "O" she was
The dog looked up with wistful inquiry at his
master, who cocked an eyebrow at him in return,
wearing much the same expression. The mother
and child disappeared within the church doors and
left the Square to the two. Even the hotel showed
no signs of life, for the wise men were not allowed to
foregather on Sundays. The organ had ceased to
stir the air and all was in quiet, yet a quiet which,
for Louden, was not peace. He looked at his watch
and, without intending it, spoke the hour aloud:
"A quarter past eleven." The sound of his own
voice gave him a little shock; he rose without knowing
why, and, as he did so, it seemed to him that he
heard close to his ear another voice, a woman's,
troubled and insistent, but clear and sweet, saying:
"REMEMBER! ACROSS MAIN STREET BRIDGE AT NOON!"
It was so distinct that he started and looked
round. Then he laughed. "I'll be seeing circus
parades next!" His laughter fled, for, louder than
the ringing in his ears, unmistakably came the
strains of a far-away brass band which had no
existence on land or sea or in the waters under the
"Here!" he said to the mongrel. "We need a
walk, I think. Let's you and me move on before
the camels turn the corner!"
The music followed him to the street, where he
turned westward toward the river, and presently,
as he walked on, fanning himself with his straw hat,
it faded and was gone. But the voice he had heard
"REMEMBER! ACROSS MAIN STREET BRIDGE AT NOON!"
it said again, close to his ear.
This time he did not start. "All right," he
answered, wiping his forehead; "if you'll let me alone,
I'll be there."
At a dingy saloon corner, near the river, a shabby
little man greeted him heartily and petted the
mongrel. "I'm mighty glad you didn't go, after
all, Joe," he added, with a brightening face.
"Go where, Happy?"
Mr. Fear looked grave. "Don't you rec'lect
meetin' me last night?"
Louden shook his head. "No. Did I?"
The other's jaw fell and his brow corrugated with
self-reproach. "Well, if that don't show what a
thick-head I am! I thought ye was all right er I'd
gone on with ye. Nobody c'd 'a' walked straighter
ner talked straighter. Said ye was goin' to leave
Canaan fer good and didn't want nobody to know it.
Said ye was goin' to take the 'leven-o'clock through
train fer the West, and told me I couldn't come
to the deepo with ye. Said ye'd had enough o'
Canaan, and of everything! I follered ye part way
to the deepo, but ye turned and made a motion fer
me to go back, and I done it, because ye seemed to
be kind of in trouble, and I thought ye'd ruther be
by yerself. Well, sir, it's one on me!"
"Not at all," said Joe. "I was all right."
"Was ye?" returned the other. "DO remember,
"Almost," Joe smiled, faintly.
"ALMOST," echoed Happy, shaking his head seriously.
"I tell ye, Joe, ef I was YOU--" he began
slowly, then paused and shook his head again. He
seemed on the point of delivering some advice,
but evidently perceiving the snobbishness of such
a proceeding, or else convinced by his own experience
of the futility of it, he swerved to cheerfulness:
"I hear the boys is all goin' to work hard fer the
primaries. Mike says ye got some chances ye
don't know about; HE swears ye'll be the next
Mayor of Canaan."
"Nonsense! Folly and nonsense, Happy! That's
the kind of thing I used to think when I was a boy.
But now--pshaw!" Joe broke off with a tired
laugh. "Tell them not to waste their time. Are
you going out to the Beach this afternoon?"
The little man lowered his eyes moodily. "I'll
be near there," he said, scraping his patched shoe
up and down the curbstone. "That feller's in
"`Nashville' they call him; Ed's the name he
give the hospital: Cory--him that I soaked the
night you come back to Canaan. He's after
Claudine to git his evens with me. He's made a
raise somewheres, and plays the spender. And
her--well, I reckon she's tired waitin' table at the
National House; tired o' me, too. I got a hint
that they're goin' out to the Beach together this
Joe passed his hand wearily over his aching forehead.
"I understand," he said, "and you'd better
try to. Cory's laying for you, of course. You say
he's after your wife? He must have set about it
pretty openly if they're going to the Beach to-day,
for there is always a crowd there on Sundays. Is
it hard for you to see why he's doing it? It's
because he wants to make you jealous. What for?
So that you'll tackle him again. And why does he
want that? Because he's ready for you!"
The other's eyes suddenly became bloodshot, his
nostrils expanding incredibly. "READY, is he? He
BETTER be ready. I--"
"That's enough!" Joe interrupted, swiftly.
"We'll have no talk like that. I'll settle this for
you, myself. You send word to Claudine that I
want to see her at my office to-morrow morning,
and you--you stay away from the Beach to-day.
Give me your word."
Mr. Fear's expression softened. "All right, Joe,"
he said. "I'll do whatever you tell me to. Any
of us 'll do that; we sure know who's our friend."
"Keep out of trouble, Happy." Joe turned to
go and they shook hands. "Good day, and--keep
out of trouble!"
When he had gone, Mr. Fear's countenance
again gloomed ominously, and, shaking his head,
he ruminatively entered an adjacent bar through
the alley door.
The Main Street bridge was an old-fashioned,
wooden, covered one, dust-colored and very narrow,
squarely framing the fair, open country beyond;
for the town had never crossed the river.
Joe found the cool shadow in the bridge gracious
to his hot brow, and through the slender chinks of
the worn flooring he caught bright glimpses of
running water. When he came out of the other
end he felt enough refreshed to light a cigar.
"Well, here I am," he said. "Across Main
Street bridge--and it must be getting on toward
noon!" He spoke almost with the aspect of daring,
and immediately stood still, listening.
"`REMEMBER,"' he ventured to repeat, again daring,
"`REMEMBER! ACROSS MAIN STREET BRIDGE AT NOON!' "
And again he listened. Then he chuckled faintly
with relief, for the voice did not return. "Thank
God, I've got rid of that!" he whispered. "And
of the circus band too!"
A dust road turned to the right, following the
river and shaded by big sycamores on the bank;
the mongrel, intensely preoccupied with this road,
scampered away, his nose to the ground. "Good
enough," said the master. "Lead on and I'll
come after you."
But he had not far to follow. The chase led
him to a half-hollow log which lay on a low, grass-
grown levee above the stream, where the dog's
interest in the pursuit became vivid; temporarily,
however, for after a few minutes of agitated
investigation, he was seized with indifference to the
whole world; panted briefly; slept. Joe sat upon
the log, which was in the shade, and smoked.
"`REMEMBER!' " He tried it once more. "`ACROSS
MAIN STREET BRIDGE AT NOON!' " Safety still; the
voice came not. But the sound of his own repetition
of the words brought him an eerie tremor;
for the mist of a memory came with it; nothing
tangible, nothing definite, but something very far
away and shadowy, yet just poignant enough to
give him a queer feeling that he was really keeping
an appointment here. Was it with some water-
sprite that would rise from the river? Was it
with a dryad of the sycamores? He knew too well
that he might expect strange fancies to get hold of
him this morning, and, as this one grew uncannily
stronger, he moved his head briskly as if to shake
it off. The result surprised him; the fancy
remained, but his headache and dizziness had left
A breeze wandered up the river and touched the
leaves and grass to life. Sparrows hopped and
chirped in the branches, absurdly surprised; without
doubt having concluded in the Sunday stillness
that the world would drowse forever; and the
mongrel lifted his head, blinked at them, hopelessly
wishing they would alight near him, scratched
his ear with the manner of one who has neglected
such matters overlong; reversed his position; slept
again. The young corn, deep green in the bottomland,
moved with a staccato flurry, and the dust
ghost of a mad whirling dervish sped up the main
road to vanish at the bridge in a climax of lunacy.
The stirring air brought a smell of blossoms; the
distance took on faint lavender hazes which blended
the outlines of the fields, lying like square
coverlets upon the long slope of rising ground
beyond the bottom-land, and empurpled the blue
woodland shadows of the groves.
For the first time, it struck Joe that it was a
beautiful day, and it came to him that a beautiful
day was a thing which nothing except death, sickness,
or imprisonment could take from him--not
even the ban of Canaan! Unforewarned, music
sounded in his ears again; but he did not shrink
from it now; this was not the circus band he had
heard as he left the Square, but a melody like a
far-away serenade at night, as of "the horns of
elf-land faintly blowing"; and he closed his eyes
with the sweetness of it.
"Go ahead!" he whispered. "Do that all you
want to. If you'll keep it up like this awhile, I'll
follow with `Little Brown Jug, How I Love Thee!'
It seems to pay, after all!"
The welcome strains, however, were but the
prelude to a harsher sound which interrupted and
annihilated them: the Court-house bell clanging
out twelve. "All right," said Joe. "It 's noon
and I'm `across Main Street bridge.' "
He opened his eyes and looked about him
whimsically. Then he shook his head again.
A lady had just emerged from the bridge and
was coming toward him.
It would be hard to get at Joe's first impressions
of her. We can find conveyance for only the
broadest and heaviest. Ancient and modern
instances multiply the case of the sleeper who dreams
out a long story in accurate color and fine detail,
a tale of years, in the opening and shutting of a
door. So with Joseph, in the brief space of the
lady's approach. And with him, as with the sleeper,
it must have been--in fact it was, in his recollections,
later--a blur of emotion.
At first sight of her, perhaps it was pre-eminently
the shock of seeing anything so exquisite where
he had expected to see nothing at all. For she
was exquisite--horrid as have been the uses of the
word, its best and truest belong to her; she was
that and much more, from the ivory ferrule of the
parasol she carried, to the light and slender footprint
she left in the dust of the road. Joe knew at
once that nothing like her had ever before been
seen in Canaan.
He had little knowledge of the millinery arts,
and he needed none to see the harmony--harmony
like that of the day he had discovered a little
while ago. Her dress and hat and gloves and
parasol showed a pale lavender overtint like that
which he had seen overspreading the western
slope. (Afterward, he discovered that the gloves
she wore that day were gray, and that her hat was
for the most part white.) The charm of fabric
and tint belonging to what she wore was no shame
to her, not being of primal importance beyond
herself; it was but the expression of her daintiness and
the adjunct of it. She was tall, but if Joe could
have spoken or thought of her as "slender," he
would have been capable of calling her lips "red,"
in which case he would not have been Joe, and
would have been as far from the truth as her lips
were from red, or as her supreme delicateness was
from mere slenderness.
Under the summer hat her very dark hair swept
back over her temples with something near trimness
in the extent to which it was withheld from
being fluffy. It may be that this approach to
trimness, which was, after all, only a sort of
coquetry with trimness, is the true key to the
mystery of the vision of the lady who appeared to Joe.
Let us say that she suppressed everything that
went beyond grace; that the hint of floridity was
abhorrent to her. "Trim" is as clumsy as
"slender"; she had escaped from the trimness of
girlhood as wholly as she had gone through its
coltishness. "Exquisite." Let us go back to Joe's
own blurred first thought of her and be content
She was to pass him--so he thought--and as
she drew nearer, his breath came faster.
"REMEMBER! ACROSS MAIN STREET BRIDGE AT NOON!"
Was THIS the fay of whom the voice had warned
him? With that, there befell him the mystery
of last night. He did not remember, but it was
as if he lived again, dimly, the highest hour of
happiness in a life a thousand years ago; perfume
and music, roses, nightingales and plucked harp-
strings. Yes; something wonderful was happening
She had stopped directly in front of him;
stopped and stood looking at him with her clear eyes.
He did not lift his own to hers; he had long
experience of the averted gaze of women; but it was
not only that; a great shyness beset him. He
had risen and removed his hat, trying (ineffectually)
not to clear his throat; his every-day sense urging
upon him that she was a stranger in Canaan
who had lost her way--the preposterousness of any
one's losing the way in Canaan not just now
appealing to his every--day sense.
"Can I--can I--" he stammered, blushing
miserably, meaning to finish with "direct you," or
"show you the way."
Then he looked at her again and saw what
seemed to him the strangest sight of his life. The
lady's eyes had filled with tears-filled and
overfilled. "I'll sit here on the log with
you," she said. And her voice was the voice which
he had heard saying,
"REMEMBER! ACROSS MAIN STREET BRIDGE AT NOON!"
"WHAT!" he gasped.
"You don't need to dust it!" she went on,
tremulously. And even then he did not know who
WHEN HALF-GODS GO
There was a silence, for if the dazzled
young man could have spoken at all,
The could have found nothing to say;
and, perhaps, the lady would not
trust her own voice just then. His
eyes had fallen again; he was too dazed, and, in
truth, too panic-stricken, now, to look at her,
though if he had been quite sure that she was part
of a wonderful dream he might have dared. She
was seated beside him, and had handed him her
parasol in a little way which seemed to imply that
of course he had reached for it, so that it was to
be seen how used she was to have all tiny things
done for her, though this was not then of his
tremulous observing. He did perceive, however, that
he was to furl the dainty thing; he pressed the
catch, and let down the top timidly, as if fearing to
break or tear it; and, as it closed, held near his face,
he caught a very faint, sweet, spicy emanation
from it like wild roses and cinnamon.
He did not know her; but his timidity and a
strange little choke in his throat, the sudden fright
which had seized upon him, were not caused by
embarrassment. He had no thought that she
was one he had known but could not, for the
moment, recall; there was nothing of the awkwardness
of that; no, he was overpowered by the miracle of
this meeting. And yet, white with marvelling,
he felt it to be so much more touchingly a great
happiness than he had ever known that at first it
was inexpressibly sad.
At last he heard her voice again, shaking a little,
as she said:
"I am glad you remembered."
"Remembered what?" he faltered.
"Then you don't?" she cried. "And yet you came."
"Came here, do you mean?"
"Yes--now, at noon."
"Ah!" he half whispered, unable to speak aloud.
"Was it you who said--who said, `Remember!
"`Across Main Street bridge at noon!' " she
finished for him, gently. "Yes."
He took a deep breath in the wonder of it.
"Where was it you said that?" he asked, slowly.
"Was it last night?"
"Don't you even know that you came to meet me?"
"_I_--came to--to meet--you!"
She gave a little pitying cry, very near a sob,
seeing his utter bewilderment.
"It was like the strangest dream in the world,"
she said. "You were at the station when I came,
last night. You don't remember at all?"
His eyes downcast, his face burning hotly, he
could only shake his head.
"Yes," she continued. "I thought no one
would be there, for I had not written to say what
train I should take, but when I stepped down
from the platform, you were standing there;
though you didn't see me at first, not until I had
called your name and ran to you. You said, `I've
come to meet you,' but you said it queerly, I
thought. And then you called a carriage for me;
but you seemed so strange you couldn't tell how
you knew that I was coming, and--and then I--I
understood you weren't yourself. You were very
quiet, but I knew, I knew! So I made you get
into the carriage--and--and--"
She faltered to a stop, and with that, shame
itself brought him courage; he turned and faced
her. She had lifted her handkerchief to her eyes,
but at his movement she dropped it, and it was not
so much the delicate loveliness of her face that he
saw then as the tears upon her cheeks.
"Ah, poor boy!" she cried. "I knew! I knew!"
"You--you took me home?"
"You told me where you lived," she answered.
"Yes, I took you home."
"I don't understand," he stammered, huskily.
"I don't understand!"
She leaned toward him slightly, looking at him
with great intentness.
"You didn't know me last night," she said. "Do
you know me now?"
For answer he could only stare at her,
dumfounded. He lifted an unsteady hand toward
her appealingly. But the manner of the lady, as
she saw the truth, underwent an April change.
She drew back lightly; he was favored with the
most delicious, low laugh he had ever heard, and,
by some magic whisk which she accomplished,
there was no sign of tears about her.
"Ah! I'm glad you're the same, Joe!" she said.
"You never would or could pretend very well.
I'm glad you're the same, and I'm glad I've
changed, though that isn't why you have forgotten
me. You've forgotten me because you
never thought of me. Perhaps I should not have
known you if you had changed a great deal--as I
He started, leaning back from her.
"Ah!" she laughed. "That's it! That funny
little twist of the head you always had, like a--
like a--well, you know I must have told you a
thousand times that it was like a nice friendly
puppy; so why shouldn't I say so now? And your
eyebrows! When you look like that, nobody could
ever forget you, Joe!"
He rose from the log, and the mongrel leaped
upon him uproariously, thinking they were to go
home, belike to food.
The lady laughed again. "Don't let him spoil
my parasol. And I must warn you now: Never,
never TREAD ON MY SKIRT! I'm very irritable about
He had taken three or four uncertain backward
steps from her. She sat before him, radiant with
laughter, the loveliest creature he had ever seen;
but between him and this charming vision there
swept, through the warm, scented June air, a veil
of snow like a driven fog, and, half obscured in the
heart of it, a young girl stood, knee-deep in a drift
piled against an old picket gate, her black water-
proof and shabby skirt flapping in the blizzard
like torn sails, one of her hands out-stretched
toward him, her startled eyes fixed on his.
"And, oh, how like you," said the lady; "how
like you and nobody else in the world, Joe, to have
a yellow dog!"
His lips formed the words without sound.
"Isn't it about time?" she said. "Are strange
ladies in the HABIT of descending from trains to
take you home?"
Once, upon a white morning long ago, the
sensational progress of a certain youth up Main Street
had stirred Canaan. But that day was as nothing
to this. Mr. Bantry had left temporary paralysis
in his wake; but in the case of the two young people
who passed slowly along the street to-day it
was petrifaction, which seemingly threatened in
several instances (most notably that of Mr. Arp)
to become permanent.
The lower portion of the street, lined with three
and four story buildings of brick and stone, rather
grim and hot facades under the mid-day sun,
afforded little shade to the church-comers, who
were working homeward in processional little
groups and clumps, none walking fast, though
none with the appearance of great leisure, since
neither rate of progress would have been esteemed
befitting the day. The growth of Canaan, steady,
though never startling, had left almost all of the
churches down-town, and Main Street the principal
avenue of communication between them and the
"residence section." So, to-day, the intermittent
procession stretched along the new cement side-
walks from a little below the Square to Upper
Main Street, where maples lined the thoroughfare
and the mansions of the affluent stood among
pleasant lawns and shrubberies. It was late; for
this had been a communion Sunday, and those
far in advance, who had already reached the pretty
and shady part of the street, were members of the
churches where services had been shortest; though
few in the long parade looked as if they had been
attending anything very short, and many heads of
families were crisp in their replies to the theological
inquiries of their offspring. The men imparted
largely a gloom to the itinerant concourse, most
of them wearing hot, long black coats and having
wilted their collars; the ladies relieving this gloom
somewhat by the lighter tints of their garments;
the spick-and-span little girls relieving it greatly
by their white dresses and their faces, the latter
bright with the hope of Sunday ice-cream; while
the boys, experiencing some solace in that they
were finally out where a person could at least
scratch himself if he had to, yet oppressed by the
decorous necessities of the day, marched along,
furtively planning, behind imperturbably secretive
countenances, various means for the later dispersal
of an odious monotony.
Usually the conversation of this long string of the
homeward-bound was not too frivolous or worldly;
nay, it properly inclined to discussion of the sermon;
that is, praise of the sermon, with here and there a
mild "I-didn't-like-his-saying" or so; and its lighter
aspects were apt to concern the next "Social," or
various pleasurable schemes for the raising of funds
to help the heathen, the quite worthy poor, or the
This was the serious and seemly parade, the
propriety of whose behavior was to-day almost
disintegrated when the lady of the bridge walked
up the street in the shadow of a lacy, lavender
parasol carried by Joseph Louden. The congregation
of the church across the Square, that to which
Joe's step-aunt had been late, was just debouching,
almost in mass, upon Main Street, when these two
went by. It is not quite the truth to say that all
except the children came to a dead halt, but it is not
very far from it. The air was thick with subdued
exclamations and whisperings.
Here is no mystery. Joe was probably the only
person of respectable derivation in Canaan who had
not known for weeks that Ariel Tabor was on her
way home. And the news that she had arrived the
night before had been widely disseminated on the
way to church, entering church, IN church (even so!),
and coming out of church. An account of her house
in the Avenue Henri Martin, and of her portrait in
the Salon--a mysterious business to many, and not
lacking in grandeur for that!--had occupied two
columns in the Tocsin, on a day, some months
before, when Joe had found himself inimically head-
lined on the first page, and had dropped the paper
without reading further. Ariel's name had been
in the mouth of Canaan for a long time; unfortunately
for Joe, however, not in the mouth of that
Canaan which held converse with him.
Joe had not known her. The women recognized
her, infallibly, at first glance; even those who had
quite forgotten her. And the women told their
men. Hence the un-Sunday-like demeanor of the
procession, for few towns hold it more unseemly to
stand and stare at passers-by, especially on the
Sabbath.--BUT Ariel Tabor returned--and walking
with--WITH JOE LOUDEN! . . .
A low but increasing murmur followed the two
as they proceeded. It ran up the street ahead of
them; people turned to look back and paused, so
that they had to walk round one or two groups.
They had, also, to walk round Norbert Flitcroft,
which was very like walking round a group. He
was one of the few (he was waddling home alone)
who did not identify Miss Tabor, and her effect upon
him was extraordinary. His mouth opened and he
gazed stodgily, his widening eyes like sun-dogs
coming out of a fog. He did not recognize her
escort; did not see him at all until they had passed,
after which Mr. Flitcroft experienced a few
moments of trance; came out of it stricken through and
through; felt nervously of his tie; resolutely fell in
behind the heeling mongrel and followed, at a
distance of some forty paces, determined to learn
what household this heavenly visitor honored, and
thrilling with the intention to please that same
household with his own presence as soon and as
often as possible.
Ariel flushed a little when she perceived the
extent of their conspicuousness; but it was not the
blush that Joe remembered had reddened the
tanned skin of old; for her brownness had gone
long ago, though it had not left her merely pink and
white. This was a delicate rosiness rising from her
cheeks to her temples as the earliest dawn rises. If
there had been many words left in Joe, he would
have called it a divine blush; it fascinated him, and
if anything could have deepened the glamour about
her, it would have been this blush. He did not
understand it, but when he saw it he stumbled.
Those who gaped and stared were for him only
blurs in the background; truly, he saw "men as
trees walking"; and when it became necessary to
step out to the curb in passing some clump of
people, it was to him as if Ariel and he, enchantedly
alone, were working their way through underbrush
in the woods.
He kept trying to realize that this lady of wonder
was Ariel Tabor, but he could not; he could not
connect the shabby Ariel, whom he had treated as
one boy treats another, with this young woman of
the world. He had always been embarrassed, himself,
and ashamed of her, when anything she did
made him remember that, after all, she was a girl;
as, on the day he ran away, when she kissed a lock
of his hair escaping from the bandage. With that
recollection, even his ears grew red: it did not seem
probable that it would ever happen again! The
next instant he heard himself calling her "Miss
At this she seemed amused. "You ought to have
called me that, years ago," she said, "for all you
"I did know her--YOU, I mean!" he answered.
"I used to know nearly everything you were going
to say before you said it. It seems strange now--"
"Yes," she interrupted. "It does seem strange
"Somehow," he went on, "I doubt if now I'd
"Somehow," she echoed, with fine gravity, "I
doubt it, too."
Although he had so dim a perception of the staring
and whispering which greeted and followed them,
Ariel, of course, was thoroughly aware of it, though
the only sign she gave was the slight blush, which
very soon disappeared. That people turned to
look at her may have been not altogether a novelty:
a girl who had learned to appear unconscious of the
Continental stare, the following gaze of the boulevards,
the frank glasses of the Costanza in Rome,
was not ill equipped to face Main Street, Canaan,
even as it was to-day.
Under the sycamores, before they started, they
had not talked a great deal; there had been long
silences: almost all her questions concerning the
period of his runaway absence; she appeared to
know and to understand everything which had happened
since his return to the town. He had not,
in his turn, reached the point where he would begin
to question her; he was too breathless in his
consciousness of the marvellous present hour. She
had told him of the death of Roger Tabor, the year
before. "Poor man," she said, gently, "he lived to
see `how the other fellows did it' at last, and
everybody liked him. He was very happy over there."
After a little while she had said that it was
growing close upon lunch-time; she must be going back.
"Then--then--good-bye," he replied, ruefully.
"I'm afraid you don't understand. It wouldn't
do for you to be seen with me. Perhaps, though,
you do understand. Wasn't that why you asked me
to meet you out here beyond the bridge?"
In answer she looked at him full and straight for
three seconds, then threw back her head and closed
her eyes tight with laughter. Without a word she
took the parasol from him, opened it herself, placed
the smooth white coral handle of it in his hand, and
lightly took his arm. There was no further demur
on the part of the young man. He did not know
where she was going; he did not ask.
Soon after Norbert turned to follow them, they
came to the shady part of the street, where the town
in summer was like a grove. Detachments from
the procession had already, here and there, turned
in at the various gates. Nobody, however,
appeared to have gone in-doors, except for fans, armed
with which immediately to return to rockers upon
the shaded verandas. As Miss Tabor and Joe
went by, the rocking-chairs stopped; the fans
poised, motionless; and perspiring old gentlemen,
wiping their necks, paused in arrested attitudes.
Once Ariel smiled politely, not at Mr. Louden,
and inclined her head twice, with the result that the
latter, after thinking for a time of how gracefully
she did it and how pretty the top of her hat was,
became gradually conscious of a meaning in her
action: that she had bowed to some one across the
street. He lifted his hat, about four minutes late,
and discovered Mamie Pike and Eugene, upon the
opposite pavement, walking home from church
together. Joe changed color.
There, just over the way, was she who had been,
in his first youth, the fairy child, the little princess
playing in the palace yard, and always afterward
his lady of dreams, his fair unreachable moon! And
Joe, seeing her to-day, changed color; that was all!
He had passed Mamie in the street only a week
before, and she had seemed all that she had always
seemed; to-day an incomprehensible and subtle
change had befallen her--a change so mystifying to
him that for a moment he almost doubted that she
was Mamie Pike. It came to him with a breath-
taking shock that her face lacked a certain vivacity
of meaning; that its sweetness was perhaps too
placid; that there would have been a deeper goodness
in it had there been any hint of daring.
Astonishing questions assailed him, startled him:
could it be true that, after all, there might be some
day too much of her? Was her amber hair a little
too--FLUFFY? Was something the matter with her
dress? Everything she wore had always seemed so
beautiful. Where had the exquisiteness of it gone?
For there was surely no exquisiteness about it now!
It was incredible that any one could so greatly alter
in the few days elapsed since he had seen her.
Strange matters! Mamie had never looked
At the sound of Ariel's voice he emerged from
the profundities of his psychic enigma with a leap.
"She is lovelier than ever, isn't she?"
"Yes, indeed," he answered, blankly.
"Would you still risk--" she began, smiling,
but, apparently thinking better of it, changed her
question: "What is the name of your dog, Mr.
Louden? You haven't told me."
"Oh, he's just a yellow dog," he evaded, unskilfully.
"YOUNG MAN!" she said, sharply.
"Well," he admitted, reluctantly, "I call him
Speck for short."
"And what for long? I want to know his real
"It's mighty inappropriate, because we're fond
of each other," said Joe, "but when I picked him
up he was so yellow, and so thin, and so creeping,
and so scared that I christened him `Respectability.' "
She broke into light laughter, stopped short in
the midst of it, and became grave. "Ah, you've
grown bitter," she said, gently.
"No, no," he protested. "I told you I liked
She did not answer.
They were now opposite the Pike Mansion, and
to his surprise she turned, indicating the way by
a touch upon his sleeve, and crossed the street
toward the gate, which Mamie and Eugene had entered.
Mamie, after exchanging a word with Eugene
upon the steps, was already hurrying into the
Ariel paused at the gate, as if waiting for Joe
to open it.
He cocked his head, his higher eyebrow rose,
and the distorted smile appeared. "I don't
believe we'd better stop here," he said. "The last
time I tried it I was expunged from the face of
"Don't you know?" she cried. "I'm staying
here. Judge Pike has charge of all my property;
he was the administrator, or something." Then
seeing him chopfallen and aghast, she went on:
"Of course you don't know! You don't know
anything about me. You haven't even asked!"
"You're going to live HERE?" he gasped.
"Will you come to see me?" she laughed. "Will
you come this afternoon?"
He grew white. "You know I can't," he said.
"You came here once. You risked a good deal
then, just to see Mamie dance by a window. Don't
you dare a little for an old friend?"
"All right," he gulped. "I'll try."
Mr. Bantry had come down to the gate and was
holding it open, his eyes fixed upon Ariel, within
them a rising glow. An impression came to Joe
afterward that his step-brother had looked very
"Possibly you remember me, Miss Tabor?" said
Eugene, in a deep and impressive voice, lifting his
hat. "We were neighbors, I believe, in the old
She gave him her hand in a fashion somewhat
mannerly, favoring him with a bright, negligent
smile. "Oh, quite," she answered, turning again
to Joe as she entered the gate. "Then I shall
"I'll try," said Joe. "I'll try."
He stumbled away; Respectability and he, together,
interfering alarmingly with the comfort of
Mr. Flitcroft, who had stopped in the middle of the
pavement to stare glassily at Ariel. Eugene
accompanied the latter into the house, and Joe,
looking back, understood: Mamie had sent his step-
brother to bring Ariel in--and to keep him from
"This afternoon!" The thought took away his
breath, and he became paler.
The Pike brougham rolled by him, and Sam
Warden, from the box, favored his old friend upon
the pavement with a liberal display of the whites
of his eyes. The Judge, evidently, had been
detained after services--without doubt a meeting of
the church officials. Mrs. Pike, blinking and
frightened, sat at her husband's side, agreeing
feebly with the bull-bass which rumbled out of
the open window of the brougham: "I want
orthodox preaching in MY church, and, by God,
madam, I'll have it! That fellow has got to go!"
Joe took off his hat and wiped his brow.
TO REMAIN ON THE FIELD OF BATTLE IS NOT ALWAYS A VICTORY
Mamie, waiting just inside the door as Ariel and
Eugene entered, gave the visitor a pale greeting,
and, a moment later, hearing the wheels of the brougham
crunch the gravel of the carriage-drive, hurried away,
down the broad hall, and disappeared. Ariel dropped her
parasol upon a marble-topped table near the door, and,
removing her gloves, drifted into a room at the
left, where a grand piano found shelter beneath
crimson plush. After a moment of contemplation,
she pushed back the coverlet, and, seating herself
upon the plush-covered piano-stool (to match),
let her fingers run up and down the key-board once
and fall listlessly in her lap, as she gazed with deep
interest at three life-sized colored photographs (in
carved gilt frames) upon the wall she was facing:
Judge Pike, Mamie, and Mrs. Pike with her rubies.
"Please don't stop playing, Miss Tabor," said a
voice behind her. She had not observed that
Eugene had followed her into the room.
"Very well, if you like," she answered, looking
up to smile absently at him. And she began to
play a rakish little air which, composed by some
rattle-brain at a cafe table, had lately skipped out
of the Moulin Rouge to disport itself over Paris.
She played it slowly, in the minor, with elfish
pathos; while he leaned upon the piano, his eyes
fixed upon her fingers, which bore few rings, none,
he observed with an unreasonable pleasure, upon
the third finger of the left hand.
"It's one of those simpler Grieg things, isn't
it?" he said, sighing gently. "I care for Grieg."
"Would you mind its being Chaminade?" she
returned, dropping her eyes to cloak the sin.
"Ah no; I recognize it now," replied Eugene.
"He appeals to me even more than Grieg."
At this she glanced quickly up at him, but more
quickly down again, and hastened the time
emphatically, swinging the little air into the major.
"Do you play the `Pilgrim's Chorus'?"
She shook her head.
"Vous name pas Wagner?" inquired Eugene,
leaning toward her.
"Oh yes," she answered, bending her head far
over, so that her face was concealed from him,
except the chin, which, he saw with a thrill of in
explicable emotion, was trembling slightly. There
were some small white flowers upon her hat, and
these shook too.
She stopped playing abruptly, rose from the
stool and crossed the room to a large mahogany
chair, upholstered in red velvet and of hybrid
construction, possessing both rockers and legs. She
had moved in a way which prevented him from
seeing her face, but he was certain of her agitation,
and strangely glad, while curious, tremulous half-
thoughts, edged with prophecy, bubbled to the
surface of his consciousness.
When she turned to him, he was surprised to
see that she looked astonishingly happy, almost
as if she had been struggling with joy, instead of
"This chair," she said, sinking into it, "makes
me feel at home."
Naturally he could not understand.
"Because," she explained, "I once thought I
was going to live in it. It has been reupholstered,
but I should know it if I met in anywhere in the
"How very odd!" exclaimed Eugene, staring.
"I settled here in pioneer days," she went on,
tapping the arms lightly with her finger-tips. "It
was the last dance I went to in Canaan."
"I fear the town was very provincial at that
time," he returned, having completely forgotten
the occasion she mentioned, therefore wishing to
shift the subject. "I fear you may still find it
so. There is not much here that one is in sympathy
with, intellectually--few people really of
"Few people, I suppose you mean," she said,
softly, with a look that went deep enough into his
eyes, "few people who really understand one?"
Eugene had seated himself on the sill of an open
window close by. "There has been," he answered,
with the ghost of a sigh, "no one."
She turned her head slightly away from him,
apparently occupied with a loose thread in her sleeve.
There were no loose threads; it was an old habit of
hers which she retained. "I suppose," she
murmured, in a voice as low as his had been, "that a
man of your sort might find Canaan rather lonely
"It HAS been!" Whereupon she made him a
laughing little bow.
"You are sure you complain of Canaan?"
"Yes!" he exclaimed. "You don't know what
it is to live here--"
"I think I do. I lived here seventeen years."
"Oh yes," he began to object, "as a child, but--"
"Have you any recollection," she interrupted,
"of the day before your brother ran away? Of
coming home for vacation--I think it was your first
year in college--and intervening between your
brother and me in a snow-fight?"
For a moment he was genuinely perplexed; then
his face cleared. "Certainly," he said: "I found
him bullying you and gave him a good punishing
"Is that all you remember?"
"Yes," he replied, honestly. "Wasn't that all?"
"Quite!" she smiled, her eyes half closed.
"Except that I went home immediately afterward."
"Naturally," said Eugene. "My step-brother
wasn't very much chevalier sans peur et sans reproche!
Ah, I should like to polish up my French a
little. Would you mind my asking you to read a
bit with me, some little thing of Daudet's if you
care for him, in the original? An hour, now and
Mamie appeared in the doorway and Eugene rose
swiftly. "I have been trying to persuade Miss
Tabor," he explained, with something too much of
laughter, "to play again. You heard that little
thing of Chaminade's--"
Mamie did not appear to hear him; she entered
breathlessly, and there was no color in her cheeks.
"Ariel," she exclaimed, "I don't want you to think
I'm a tale-bearer--"
"Oh, my dear!" Ariel said, with a gesture of
"No," Miss Pike went on, all in one breath, "but
I'm afraid you will think it, because papa knows and
he wants to see you."
"What is it that he knows?"
"That you were walking with Joseph Louden!"
(This was as if she had said, "That you poisoned
your mother.") "I DIDN'T tell him, but when we
saw you with him I was troubled, and asked
Eugene what I'd better do, because Eugene always
knows what is best." (Mr. Bantry's expression,
despite this tribute, was not happy.) "And he
advised me to tell mamma about it and leave it
in her hands. But she always tells papa everything--"
"Certainly; that is understood," said Ariel,
slowly, turning to smile at Eugene.
"And she told him this right away," Mamie
"Why shouldn't she, if it is of the slightest
interest to him?"
The daughter of the house exhibited signs of
consternation. "He wants to see you," she repeated,
falteringly. "He's in the library."
Having thus discharged her errand, she hastened
to the front-door, which had been left open, and out
to the steps, evidently with the intention of
removing herself as soon and as far as possible from
the vicinity of the library.
Eugene, visibly perturbed, followed her to the
doorway of the room, and paused.
"Do you know the way?" he inquired, with a
note of solemnity.
"Where?" Ariel had not risen.
"To the library."
"Of course," she said, beaming upon him. "I
was about to ask you if you wouldn't speak to
the Judge for me. This is such a comfortable old
friend, this chair."
"Speak to him for you?" repeated the non-
She nodded cheerfully. "If I may trouble you.
Tell him, certainly, I shall be glad to see him."
He threw a piteous glance after Mamie, who was
now, as he saw, through the open door, out upon the
lawn and beyond easy hailing distance. When he
turned again to look at Ariel he discovered that she
had shifted the position of her chair slightly, and
was gazing out of the window with every appearance
of cheerful meditation. She assumed so unmistakably
that he had of course gone on her mission
that, dismayed and his soul quaking, he could find
neither an alternative nor words to explain to this
dazzling lady that not he nor any other could bear
such a message to Martin Pike.
Eugene went. There was nothing else to do; and
he wished with every step that the distance to the
portals of the library might have been greater.
In whatever guise he delivered the summons, it
was perfectly efficacious. A door slammed, a heavy
and rapid tread was heard in the hall, and Ariel,
without otherwise moving, turned her head and
offered a brilliant smile of greeting.
"It was good of you," she said, as the doorway
filled with red, imperial wrath, "to wish to have a
little chat with me. I'm anxious, of course, to go
over my affairs with you, and last night, after my
journey, I was too tired. But now we might begin;
not in detail, of course, just yet. That will do for
later, when I've learned more about business."
The great one had stopped on the threshold.
"Madam," he began, coldly, "when I say my
library, I mean my--"
"Oh yes," she interrupted, with amiable weariness.
"I know. You mean you keep all the
papers and books of the estate in there, but I think
we'd better put them off for a few days--"
"I'm not talking about the estate!" he exclaimed.
"What I want to talk to you about is being seen
with Joseph Louden!"
"Yes," she nodded, brightly. "That's along the
line we must take up first."
"Yes, it is!" He hurled his bull-bass at her.
"You knew everything about him and his standing
in this community! I know you did, because Mrs.
Pike told me you asked all about him from Mamie
after you came last night, and, see here, don't
"Oh, but I knew before that," she laughed. "I
had a correspondent in Canaan, one who has always
taken a great interest in Mr. Louden. I asked Miss
Pike only to get her own point of view."
"I want to tell you, madam," he shouted,
coming toward her, "that no member of my household--"
"That's another point we must take up to-day.
I'm glad you remind me of it," she said, thoughtfully,
yet with so magically compelling an intonation
that he stopped his shouting in the middle of
a word; stopped with an apoplectic splutter. "We
must arrange to put the old house in order at once."
"We'll arrange nothing of the sort," he responded,
after a moment of angry silence. "You're
going to stay right here."
"Ah, I know your hospitality," she bowed,
graciously. "But of course I must not tax it too
far. And about Mr. Louden? As I said, I want
to speak to you about him."
"Yes," he intervened, harshly. "So do I, and
I'm going to do it quick! You'll find--"
Again she mysteriously baffled him. "He's a
dear old friend of mine, you know, and I have made
up my mind that we both need his help, you and I."
"Yes," she continued, calmly, "in a business way
I mean. I know you have great interests in a hundred
directions, all more important than mine; it
isn't fair that you should bear the whole burden of
my affairs, and I think it will be best to retain Mr.
Louden as my man of business. He could take all
the cares of the estate off your shoulders."
Martin Pike spoke no word, but he looked at her
strangely; and she watched him with sudden keenness,
leaning forward in her chair, her gaze alert but
quiet, fixed on the dilating pupils of his eyes. He
seemed to become dizzy, and the choleric scarlet
which had overspread his broad face and big neck
Still keeping her eyes upon him, she went on:
"I haven't asked him yet, and so I don't know
whether or not he'll consent, but I think it possible
that he may come to see me this afternoon, and if
he does we can propose it to him together and go
over things a little."
Judge Pike recovered his voice. "He'll get a
warm welcome," he promised, huskily, "if he sets
foot on my premises!"
"You mean you prefer I shouldn't receive him
here?" She nodded pleasantly. "Then certainly
I shall not. Such things are much better for offices;
you are quite right."
"You'll not see him at all!"
"Ah, Judge Pike," she lifted her hand with
gentle deprecation, "don't you understand that we
can't quite arrange that? You see, Mr. Louden is
even an older friend of mine than you are, and so I
must trust his advice about such things more than
yours. Of course, if he too should think it better
for me not to see him--"
The Judge advanced toward her. "I'm tired of
this," he began, in a loud voice. "I'm--"
She moved as if to rise, but he had come very
close, leaning above her, one arm out-stretched and
at the end of it a heavy forefinger which he was
shaking at her, so that it was difficult to get out of
her chair without pushing him away--a feat
apparently impossible. Ariel Tabor, in rising, placed
her hand upon his out-stretched arm, quite as if
he had offered it to assist her; he fell back a step in
complete astonishment; she rose quickly, and
released his arm.
"Thank you," she said, beamingly. "It's quite
all my fault that you're tired. I've been thoughtless
to keep you so long, and you have been standing,
too!" She swept lightly and quickly to the
door, where she paused, gathering her skirts. "I
shall not detain you another instant! And if Mr.
Louden comes, this afternoon, I'll remember. I'll
not let him come in, of course. It will be perhaps
pleasanter to talk over my proposition as we walk!"
There was a very faint, spicy odor like wild roses
and cinnamon left in the room where Martin Pike
stood alone, staring whitely at the open doorway,
THE WATCHER AND THE WARDEN
There was a custom of Canaan,
time-worn and seldom honored in
the breach, which put Ariel, that
afternoon, in easy possession of a
coign of vantage commanding the
front gate. The heavy Sunday dinner was finished
in silence (on the part of Judge Pike, deafening)
about three o'clock, and, soon after, Mamie tossed
a number of cushions out upon the stoop between
the cast-iron dogs,--Sam Warden having previously
covered the steps with a rug and placed several
garden chairs near by on the grass. These simple
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