Stewart Edward White
Part 3 out of 7
sand-hills than the rest the river ran out through the channel made
by two long piers to the lake--blue, restless, immeasurable. To
right and left stretched the long Michigan coast, with its low
yellow hills topped with the green of twisted pines, firs, and
beeches, with always its beach of sand, deep and dry to the very
edge of its tideless sea, strewn with sawlogs, bark, and the ancient
remains of ships.
After he had cooled he arose and made his way back to a pleasant
hardwood forest of maple and beech. Here the leaves were just
bursting from their buds. Underfoot the early spring flowers--the
hepaticas, the anemones, the trilium, the dog-tooth violets, the
quaint, early, bright-green undergrowths--were just reaching their
perfection. Migration was in full tide. Birds, little and big,
flashed into view and out again, busy in the mystery of their
northward pilgrimage, giving the appearance of secret and silent
furtiveness, yet each uttering his characteristic call from time to
time, as though for a signal to others of the host. The woods were
swarming as city streets, yet to Orde these little creatures were as
though invisible. He stood in the middle of a great multitude, he
felt himself under the observation of many bright eyes, he heard the
murmuring and twittering that proclaimed a throng, he sensed an
onward movement that flowed slowly but steadily toward the pole;
nevertheless, a flash of wings, a fluttering little body, the dip of
a hasty short flight, represented the visible tokens. Across the
pale silver sun of April their shadows flickered, and with them
flickered the tracery of new leaves and the delicacy of the lace-
like upper branches.
Orde walked slowly farther and farther into the forest, lost in an
enjoyment which he could not have defined accurately, but which was
so integral a portion of his nature that it had drawn him from the
banks and wholesale groceries to the woods. After a while he sat
down on a log and lit his pipe. Ahead the ground sloped upward.
Dimly through the half-fronds of the early season he could make out
the yellow of sands and the deep complementary blue of the sky above
them. He knew the Lake to lie just beyond. With the thought he
arose. A few moments later he stood on top the hill, gazing out
over the blue waters.
Very blue they were, with a contrasting snowy white fringe of waves
breaking gently as far up the coast as the eye could reach. The
beach, on these tideless waters, was hard and smooth only in the
narrow strip over which ran the wash of the low surf. All the rest
of the expanse of sand back to the cliff-like hills lay dry and
tumbled into hummocks and drifts, from which projected here a sawlog
cast inland from a raft by some long-past storm, there a slab, again
a ship's rib sticking gaunt and defiant from the shifting, restless
medium that would smother it. And just beyond the edge of the hard
sand, following the long curves of the wash, lay a dark, narrow line
of bark fragments.
The air was very clear and crystalline. The light-houses on the
ends of the twin piers, though some miles distant, seemed close at
hand. White herring gulls, cruising against the blue, flashed white
as the sails of a distant ship. A fresh breeze darkened the blue
velvet surface of the water, tumbled the white foam hissing up the
beach, blew forward over the dunes a fine hurrying mist of sand, and
bore to Orde at last the refreshment of the wide spaces. A woman,
walking slowly, bent her head against the force of this wind.
Orde watched her idly. She held to the better footing of the smooth
sand, which made it necessary that she retreat often before the
inrushing wash, sometimes rather hastily. Orde caught himself
admiring the grace of her deft and sudden movements, and the sway of
her willowy figure. Every few moments she turned and faced the
lake, her head thrown back, the wind whipping her garments about
As she drew nearer, Orde tried in vain to catch sight of her face.
She looked down, watching the waters advance and recede; she wore a
brimmed hat bent around her head by means of some sort of veil tied
over the top and beneath her chin. When she had arrived nearly
opposite Orde she turned abruptly inland, and a moment later began
laboriously to climb the steep sand.
The process seemed to amuse her. She turned her head sidewise to
watch with interest the hurrying, tumbling little cascades that slid
from her every step. From time to time she would raise her skirts
daintily with the tips of her fingers, and lean far over in order to
observe with interest how her feet sank to the ankles, and how the
sand rushed from either side to fill in the depressions. The wind
carried up to Orde low, joyous chuckles of delight, like those of a
As though directed by some unseen guide, her course veered more and
more until it led directly to the spot where Orde stood. When she
was within ten feet of him she at last raised her head so the young
man could see something besides the top of her hat. Orde looked
plump into her eyes.
"Hullo!" she said cheerfully and unsurprised, and sank down cross-
legged at his feet.
Orde stood quite motionless, overcome by astonishment. Her face,
its long oval framed in the bands of the gray veil and the down-
turned brim of the hat, looked up smiling into his. The fresh air
had deepened the colour beneath her skin and had blown loose stray
locks of the fine shadow-filled hair. Her red lips, with the
quaintly up-turned corners, smiled at him with a new frankness, and
the black eyes--the eyes so black as to resemble spots--had lost
their half-indolent reserve and brimmed over quite frankly with the
joy of life. She scooped up a handful of the dry, clean sand from
either side of her, raised it aloft, and let it trickle slowly
between her fingers. The wind snatched at the sand and sprayed it
away in a beautiful plume.
"Isn't this REAL fun?" she asked him.
"Why, Miss Bishop!" cried Orde, finding his voice. "What are you
A faint shade of annoyance crossed her brow.
"Oh, I could ask the same of you; and then we'd talk about how
surprised we are, world without end," said she. "The important
thing is that here is sand to play in, and there is the Lake, and
here are we, and the day is charmed, and it's good to be alive. Sit
down and dig a hole! We've all the common days to explain things
Orde laughed and seated himself to face her. Without further talk,
and quite gravely, they commenced to scoop out an excavation between
them, piling the sand over themselves and on either side as was most
convenient. As the hole grew deeper they had to lean over more and
more. Their heads sometimes brushed ever so lightly, their hands
perforce touched. Always the dry sand flowed from the edges
partially to fill in the result their efforts. Faster and faster
they scooped it out again. The excavation thus took on the shape of
a funnel. Her cheeks glowed pink, her eyes shone like stars.
Entirely was she absorbed in the task. At last a tiny commotion
manifested itself in the bottom of the funnel. Impulsively she laid
her hand on Orde's, to stop them. Fascinated, they watched. After
incredible though lilliputian upheavals, at length appeared a tiny
black insect, struggling against the rolling, overwhelming sands.
With great care the girl scooped this newcomer out and set him on
the level ground. She looked up happily at Orde, thrusting the
loose hair from in front of her eyes.
"I was convinced we ought to dig a hole," said she gravely. "Now,
let's go somewhere else."
She arose to her feet, shaking the sand free from her skirts.
"I think, through these woods," she decided. "Can we get back to
town this way?"
Receiving Orde's assurance, she turned at once down the slope
through the fringe of scrub spruces and junipers into the tall
woods. Here the air fell still. She remarked on how warm it
seemed, and began to untie from over her ears the narrow band of
veil that held close her hat.
"Yes," replied Orde. "The lumber-jacks say that the woods are the
poor man's overcoat."
She paused to savour this, her head on one side, her arms upraised
to the knot.
"Oh, I like that!" said she, continuing her task. In a moment or so
the veil hung free. She removed it and the hat, and swung them both
from one finger, and threw back her head.
"Hear all the birds!" she said.
Softly she began to utter a cheeping noise between her lips and
teeth, low and plaintive. At once the volume of bird-sounds about
increased; the half-seen flashes became more frequent. A second
later the twigs were alive with tiny warblers and creepers, flirting
from branch to branch, with larger, more circumspect chewinks,
catbirds, and finches hopping down from above, very silent, very
grave. In the depths of the thickets the shyer hermit and olive
thrushes and the oven birds revealed themselves ghost-like, or as
sea-growths lift into a half visibility through translucent shadows
the colour of themselves. All were very intent, very earnest, very
interested, each after his own manner, in the comradeship of the
featherhood he imagined to be uttering distressful cries. A few,
like the chickadees, quivered their wings, opened their little
mouths, fluttered down tiny but aggressive against the disaster.
Others hopped here and there restlessly, uttering plaintive, low-
toned cheeps. The shyest contented themselves by a discreet,
silent, and distant sympathy. Three or four freebooting Jays,
attracted not so much by the supposed calls for help as by
curiosity, fluttered among the tops of the trees, uttering their
Finally, the girl ended her performance in a musical laugh.
"Run away, Brighteyes," she called. "It's all right; nobody's
She waved her hand. As though at a signal, the host she had evoked
melted back into the shadows of the forest. Only the chickadee,
impudent as ever, retreated scolding rather ostentatiously, and the
jays, splendid in their ornate blue, screamed opinions at each other
from the tops of trees.
"How would you like to be a bird?" she inquired.
"Hadn't thought," replied Orde.
"Don't you ever indulge in vain and idle speculations?" she
inquired. "Never mind, don't answer. It's too much to expect of a
She set herself in idle motion down the slope, swinging the hat at
the end of its veil, pausing to look or listen, humming a little
melody between her closed lips, throwing her head back to breathe
deep the warm air, revelling in the woods sounds and woods odours
and woods life with entire self-abandonment. Orde followed her in
silence. She seemed to be quite without responsibility in regard to
him; and yet an occasional random remark thrown in his direction
proved that he was not forgotten. Finally they emerged from the
They faced an open rolling country. As far as the eye could reach
were the old stumps of pine trees. Sometimes they stood in place,
burned and scarred, but attesting mutely the abiding place of a
spirit long since passed away. Sometimes they had been uprooted and
dragged to mark the boundaries of fields, where they raised an
abatis of twisted roots to the sky.
The girl stopped short as she came face to face with this open
country. The inner uplift, that had lent to her aspect the wide-
eyed, careless joy of a child, faded. In its place came a new and
serious gravity. She turned on him troubled eyes.
"You do this," she accused him quite simply.
For answer he motioned to the left where below them lay a wide and
cultivated countryside--farmhouses surrounded by elms; compact wood
lots of hardwood; crops and orchards, all fair and pleasant across
the bosom of a fertile nature.
"And this," said he. "That valley was once nothing but a pine
forest--and so was all the southern part of the State, the peach
belt and the farms. And for that matter Indiana, too, and all the
other forest States right out to the prairies. Where would we be
now, if we HADN'T done that?" he pointed across at the stump-covered
Mischief had driven out the gravity from the girl's eyes. She had
lowered her head slightly sidewise as though to conceal their
expression from him.
"I was beginning to be afraid you'd say 'yes-indeed,'" said she.
Orde looked bewildered, then remembered the Incubus, and laughed.
"I haven't been very conversational," he acknowledged.
"Certainly NOT!" she said severely. "That would have been very
disappointing. There has been nothing to say." She turned and
waved her hat at the beech woods falling sombre against the lowering
"Good-bye," she said gravely, "and pleasant dreams to you. I hope
those very saucy little birds won't keep you awake." She looked up
at Orde. "He was rather nice to us this afternoon," she explained,
"and it's always well to be polite to them anyway." She gazed
steadily at Orde for signs of amusement. He resolutely held his
"Now I think we'll go home," said she.
They made their way between the stumps to the edge of the sand-hill
overlooking the village. With one accord they stopped. The low-
slanting sun cast across the vista a sleepy light of evening.
"How would you like to live in a place like that all your life?"
"I don't know." She weighed her words carefully. "It would depend.
The place isn't of so much importance, it seems to me. It's the
life one is called to. It's whether one finds her soul's realm or
not that a place is liveable or not. I can imagine entering my
kingdom at a railway water-tank," she said quaintly, "or missing it
entirely in a big city."
Orde looked out over the raw little village with a new interest.
"Of course I can see how a man's work can lie in a small place,"
said he; "but a woman is different."
"Why is a woman different?" she challenged. "What is her 'work,' as
you call it; and why shouldn't it, as well as a man's, lie in a
small place? What is work--outside of drudgery--unless it is
correspondence of one's abilities to one's task?"
"But the compensations--" began Orde vaguely.
"Compensations?" she cried. "What do you mean? Here are the woods
and fields, the river, the lake, the birds, and the breezes. We'll
check them off against the theatre and balls. Books can be had here
as well as anywhere. As to people: in a large city you meet a great
many, and they're all busy, and unless you make an especial and
particular effort--which you're not likely to--you'll see them only
casually and once in a great while. In a small place you know fewer
people; but you know them intimately." She broke off with a half-
laugh. "I'm from New York," she stated humorously, "and you've
magicked me into an eloquent defense of Podunk!" She laughed up at
Orde quite frankly. "Giant Strides!" she challenged suddenly. She
turned off the edge of the sand-hill, and began to plunge down its
slope, leaning far back, her arms extended, increasing as much as
possible the length of each step. Orde followed at full speed.
When the bottom was reached, he steadied her to a halt. She shook
herself, straightened her hat, and wound the veil around it. Her
whole aspect seemed to have changed with the descent into the
conventionality of the village street. The old, gentle though
capable and self-contained reserve had returned. She moved beside
Orde with dignity.
"I came down with Jane and Mrs. Hubbard to see Mr. Hubbard off on
the boat for Milwaukee last night," she told him. "Of course we had
to wait over Sunday. Mrs. Hubbard and Jane had to see some relative
or other; but I preferred to take a walk."
"Where are you staying?" asked Orde.
"At the Bennetts'. Do you know where it is?"
"Yes," replied Orde.
They said little more until the Bennetts' gate was reached. Orde
declined to come in.
"Good-night," she said. "I want to thank you. You did not once act
as though you thought I was silly or crazy. And you didn't try, as
all the rest of them would, to act silly too. You couldn't have
done it; and you didn't try. Oh, you may have felt it--I know!"
She smiled one of her quaint and quizzical smiles. "But men aren't
built for foolishness. They have to leave that to us. You've been
very nice this afternoon; and it's helped a lot. I'm good for quite
a long stretch now. Good-night."
She nodded to him and left him tongue-tied by the gate.
Orde, however, walked back to the hotel in a black rage with himself
over what he termed his imbecility. As he remembered it, he had
made just one consecutive speech that afternoon.
"Joe," said he to Newmark, at the hotel office, "what's the plural
form of Incubus? I dimly remember it isn't 'busses.'"
"Incubi," answered Newmark.
"Thanks," said Orde gloomily.
"I have Heinzman's contract all drawn," said Newmark the next
morning, "and I think I'll go around with you to the office."
At the appointed time they found the little German awaiting them, a
rotund smile of false good-nature illuminating his rosy face. Orde
introduced his partner. Newmark immediately took charge of the
"I have executed here the contract, and the bonds secured by Mr.
Orde's and my shares of stock in the new company," he explained.
"It is only necessary that you affix your signature and summon the
Heinzman reached his hands for the papers, beaming over his glasses
at the two young men.
As he read, however, his smile vanished, and he looked up sharply.
"Vat is this?" he inquired, a new crispness in his voice. "You tolt
me," he accused Orde, "dot you were not brepared to break out the
rollways. You tolt me you would egspect me to do that for myself."
"Certainly," agreed Orde.
"Vell, why do you put in this?" demanded Heinzman, reading from the
paper in his hand. "'In case said rollways belonging to said
parties of the second part are not broken out by the time the drive
has reached them, and in case on demand said parties of the second
part do refuse or do not exercise due diligence in breaking out said
rollways, the said parties of the first part shall themselves break
out said rollways, and the said parties of the second part do hereby
agree to reimburse said parties of the first part at the rate of a
dollar per thousand board feet.'"
"That is merely to protect ourselves," struck in Newmark.
"But," exploded Heinzman, his face purpling, "a dollar a tousand is
"Of course it is," agreed Newmark. "We expect it to be. But also
we expect you to break out your own rollways in time. It is
intended as a penalty in case you don't."
"I vill not stand for such foolishness," pounded Heinzman on the arm
of his chair.
"Very well," said Newmark crisply, reaching for the contract.
But Heinzman clung to it.
"It is absurd," he repeated in a milder tone. "See, I vill strike
it out." He did so with a few dashes of the pen.
"We have no intention," stated Newmark with decision, "of giving you
the chance to hang up our drive."
Heinzman caught his breath like a child about to cry out.
"So that is what you think!" he shouted at them. "That's the sort
of men you think we are! I'll show you you cannot come into honest
men's offices to insoolt them by such insinuations!" He tore the
contract in pieces and threw it in the waste basket. "Get oudt of
here!" he cried.
Newmark arose as dry and precise as ever. Orde was going red and
white by turns, and his hands twitched.
"Then I understand you to refuse our offer?" asked Newmark coolly.
"Refuse! Yes! You and your whole kapoodle!" yelled Heinzman.
He hopped down and followed them to the grill door, repeating over
and over that he had been insulted. The clerks stared in amazement.
Once at the foot of the dark stairs and in the open street, Orde
looked up at the sky with a deep breath of relief.
"Whew!" said he, "that was a terror! We've gone off the wrong foot
Newmark looked at him with some amusement.
"You don't mean to say that fooled you!" he marvelled.
"What?" asked Orde.
"All that talk about insults, and the rest of the rubbish. He saw
we had spotted his little scheme; and he had to retreat somehow. It
was as plain as the nose on your face."
"You think so?" doubted Orde.
"I know so. If he was mad at all, it was only at being found out."
"Maybe," said Orde.
"We've got an enemy on our hands in any case," concluded Newmark,
"and one we'll have to look out for, I don't know how he'll do it;
but he'll try to make trouble on the river. Perhaps he'll try to
block the stream by not breaking his rollways."
"One of the first things we'll do will be to boom through a channel
where Mr. Man's rollways will be," said Orde.
A faint gleam of approval lit Newmark's eyes.
"I guess you'll be equal to the occasion," said he drily.
Before the afternoon train, there remained four hours. The partners
at once hunted out the little one-story frame building near the
river in which Johnson conducted his business.
Johnson received them with an evident reserve of suspicion.
"I see no use in it," said he, passing his hand over his hair
"slicked" down in the lumber-jack fashion. "I can run me own widout
help from any man."
"Which seems to settle that!" said Newmark to Orde after they had
"Oh, well, his drive is small; and he's behind us," Orde pointed
"True," said Newmark thoughtfully.
"Now," said Newmark, as they trudged back to their hotel to get
lunch and their hand-bags. "I'll get to work at my part of it.
This proposition of Heinzman's has given me an idea. I'm not going
to try to sell this stock outside, but to the men who own timber
along the river. Then they won't be objecting to the tolls; for if
the company makes any profits, part will go to them."
"Good idea!" cried Orde.
"I'll take these contracts, to show we can do the business."
"And I'll see about incorporation. Also I'll look about and get a
proper office and equipments, and get hold of a book-keeper. Of
course we'll have to make this our headquarters."
"I suppose so," said Orde a little blankly. After an instant he
laughed. "Do you know, I hadn't thought of that? We'll have to
live here, won't we?"
"Also," went on Newmark calmly, "I'll buy the supplies to the best
advantage I can, and see that they get here in good shape. I have
our preliminary lists, and as fast as you think you need anything,
send a requisition in to me, and I'll see to it."
"And I?" inquired Orde.
"You'll get right at the construction. Get the booms built and
improve the river where it needs it. Begin to get your crew--I'm
not going to tell you how; you know better than I do. Only get
everything in shape for next spring's drive. You can start right
off. We have my money to begin on."
Orde laughed and stretched his arms over his head.
"My! She's a nice big job, isn't she?" he cried joyously.
Orde, in spite of his activities, managed to see Carroll Bishop
twice during the ensuing week.
On his return home late Monday afternoon, Grandma Orde informed him
with a shrewd twinkle that she wanted him surely at home the
"I've asked in three or four of the young people for a candy pull,"
"Who, mother?" asked Orde.
"Your crowd. The Smiths, Collinses, Jane Hubbard, and Her," said
Grandma Orde, which probably went to show that she had in the
meantime been making inquiries, and was satisfied with them.
"Do you suppose they'll care for candy pulling?" hazarded Orde a
"You mean, will she?" countered Grandma. "Well, I hope for both
your sakes she is not beyond a little old-fashioned fun."
So it proved. The young people straggled in at an early hour after
supper--every one had supper in those days. Carroll Bishop and Jane
arrived nearly the last. Orde stepped into the hall to help them
with their wraps. He was surprised as he approached Miss Bishop to
lift her cloak from her shoulders, to find that the top of her
daintily poised head, with its soft, fine hair, came well below the
level of his eyes. Somehow her poise, her slender grace of movement
and of attitude, had lent her the impression of a stature she did
not possess. To-night her eyes, while fathomless as ever, shone
quietly in anticipation.
"Do you know," she told Orde delightedly, "I have never been to a
real candy pull in my life. It was so good of your mother to ask
me. What a dear she looks to-night. And is that your father? I'm
going to speak to him."
She turned through the narrow door into the lighted, low-ceilinged
parlour where the company were chatting busily. Orde mechanically
followed her. He was arrested by the sound of Jane Hubbard's slow
good-humoured voice behind him.
"Now, Jack," she drawled, "I agree with you perfectly; but that is
NO reason why I should be neglected entirely. Come and hang up my
Full of remorse, Orde turned. Jane Hubbard stood accusingly in the
middle of the hall, her plain, shrewd, good-humoured face smiling
faintly. Orde met her frank wide eyes with some embarrassment.
"Here it is," said Jane, holding out the coat. "I don't much care
whether you hang it up or not. I just wanted to call you back to
wish you luck." Her slow smile widened, and her gray eyes met his
still more knowingly.
Orde seized the coat and her hand at the same time.
"Jane, you're a trump," said he. "No wonder you're the most popular
girl in town."
"Of course I am, Jack," she agreed indolently. She entered the
The candy pulling was a success. Of course everybody got burned a
little and spattered a good deal; but that was to be expected.
After the product had been broken and been piled on dishes, all
trooped to the informal "back sitting-room," where an open fire
invited to stories and games of the quieter sort. Some of the girls
sat in chairs, though most joined the men on the hearth.
Carroll Bishop, however, seemed possessed of a spirit of
restlessness. The place seemed to interest her. She wandered here
and there in the room, looking now at the walnut-framed photograph
of Uncle Jim Orde, now at the great pink conch shells either side
the door, now at the marble-topped table with its square paper-
weight of polished agate and its glass "bell," beneath which stood a
very life-like robin. This "back sitting-room" contained little in
the way of ornament. It was filled, on the contrary, with old
comfortable chairs, and worn calf-backed books. The girl peered at
the titles of these; but the gas-jets had been turned low in favour
of the firelight, and she had to give over the effort to identify
the volumes. Once she wandered close to Grandma Orde's cushioned
wooden rocker, and passed her hand lightly over the old lady's
"Do you mind if I look at things?" she asked. "It's so dear and
sweet and old and different from our New York homes."
"Look all you want to, dearie," said Grandma Orde.
After a moment she passed into the dining-room. Here Orde found
her, her hands linked in front of her.
"Oh, it is so quaint and delightful," she exhaled slowly. "This
dear, dear old house with its low ceilings and its queer haphazard
lines, and its deep windows, and its old pictures, and queer
unexpected things that take your breath away."
"It is one of the oldest houses in town," said Orde, "and I suppose
it is picturesque. But, you see, I was brought up here, so I'm used
"Wait until you leave it," said she prophetically, "and live away
from it. Then all these things will come back to you to make your
heart ache for them."
They rambled about together, Orde's enthusiasm gradually kindling at
the flame of her own. He showed her the marvellous and painstaking
pencil sketch of Napoleon looking out over a maltese-cross sunset
done by Aunt Martha at the age of ten. It hung framed in the upper
"It has always been there, ever since I can remember," said Orde,
"and it has seemed to belong there. I've never thought of it as
good or bad, just as belonging."
"I know," she nodded.
In this spirit also they viewed the plaster statue of Washington in
the lower hall, and the Roger's group in the parlour. The glass
cabinet of "curiosities" interested her greatly--the carved ivory
chessmen, the dried sea-weeds, the stone from Sugar Loaf Rock, the
bit from the wreck of the NORTH STAR, the gold and silver shells,
the glittering geodes and pyrites, the sandal-wood fan, and all the
hundred and one knick-knacks it was then the custom to collect under
glass. They even ventured part way up the creaky attic stairs, but
it was too dark to enter that mysterious region.
"I hear the drip of water," she whispered, her finger on her lips.
"It's the tank," said Orde.
"And has it a Dark Place behind it?" she begged.
"That's just what it has," said he.
"And--tell me--are there real hair trunks with brass knobs on 'em?"
"Yes, mother has two or three."
"O-o-h!" she breathed softly. "Don't tell me what's in them. I
want to believe in brocades and sashes. Do you know," she looked at
him soberly, "I never had any dark places behind the tank, nor
mysterious trunks, when I was a child."
"You might begin now," suggested Orde.
"Do you mean to insinuate I haven't grown up?" she mocked. "Thank
you! Look OUT!" she cried suddenly, "the Boojum will catch us," and
picking up her skirts she fairly flew down the narrow stairs. Orde
could hear the light swish of her draperies down the hall, and then
the pat of her feet on the stair carpet of the lower flight.
He followed rather dreamily. A glance into the sitting-room showed
the group gathered close around the fire listening to Lem Collin's
attempt at a ghost story. She was not there. He found her, then,
in the parlour. She was kneeling on the floor before the glass
cabinet of curiosities, and she had quite flattened her little nose
against the pane. At his exclamation she looked up with a laugh.
"This is the proper altitude from which to view a cabinet of
curiosities," said she, "and something tells me you ought to flatten
your nose, too." She held out both hands to be helped up. "Oh,
WHAT a house for a child!" she cried.
After the company had gone, Orde stood long by the front gate
looking up into the infinite spaces. Somehow, and vaguely, he felt
the night to be akin to her elusive spirit. Farther and farther his
soul penetrated into its depths; and yet other depths lay beyond,
other mysteries, other unguessed realms. And yet its beauty was the
simplicity of space and dark and the stars.
The next time he saw her was at her own house--or rather the house
of the friend she visited. Orde went to call on Friday evening and
was lucky enough to find the girls home and alone. After a decent
interval Jane made an excuse and went out. They talked on a great
variety of subjects, and with a considerable approach toward
intimacy. Not until nearly time to go did Orde stumble upon the
vital point of the evening. He had said something about a plan for
the week following.
"But you forget that by that time I shall be gone," said she.
"Gone!" he echoed blankly. "Where?"
"Home," said she. "Don't you remember I am to go Sunday morning?"
"I thought you were going to stay a month."
"I was, but I--certain things came up that made it necessary for me
to leave sooner."
"I--I'm sorry you're going," stammered Orde.
"So am I," said she. "I've had a very nice time here."
"Then I won't see you again," said Orde, still groping for
realisation. "I must go to Monrovia to-morrow. But I'll be down to
see you off."
"Do come," said she.
"It's not to be for good?" he expostulated. "You'll be coming
She threw her hands palm out, with a pretty gesture of ignorance.
"That is in the lap of the gods," said she.
"Will you write me occasionally?" he begged.
"As to that--" she began--"I'm a very poor correspondent."
"But won't you write?" he insisted.
"I do not make it a custom to write to young men."
"Oh!" he cried, believing himself enlightened. "Will you answer if
I write you?"
"On whether there is a reply to make."
"But may I write you?"
"I suppose I couldn't very well prevent you, if you were sure to put
on a three-cent stamp."
"Do you want me to?" persisted Orde.
She began gently to laugh, quite to herself, as though enjoying a
joke entirely within her own personal privilege.
"You are so direct and persistent and boy-like," said she presently.
"Now if you'll be very good, and not whisper to the other little
pupils, I'll tell you how they do such things usually." She sat up
straight from the depths of her chair, her white, delicately
tapering forearms resting lightly on her knees. "Young men desiring
to communicate with young ladies do not ask them bluntly. They make
some excuse, like sending a book, a magazine, a marked newspaper, or
even a bit of desired information. At the same time, they send
notes informing the girl of the fact. The girl is naturally
expected to acknowledge the politeness. If she wishes the
correspondence to continue, she asks a question, or in some other
way leaves an opening. Do you see?"
"Yes, I see," said Orde, slightly crestfallen. "But that's a long
time to wait. I like to feel settled about a thing. I wanted to
She dropped back against the cushioned slant of her easy chair, and
"And so you just up and asked!" she teased.
"I beg your pardon if I was rude," he said humbly.
The laughter died slowly from her eyes.
"Don't," she said. "It would be asking pardon for being yourself.
You wanted to know: so you asked. And I'm going to answer. I shall
be very glad to correspond with you and tell you about my sort of
things, if you happen to be interested in them. I warn you: they
are not very exciting."
"They are yours," said he.
She half rose to bow in mock graciousness, caught herself, and sank
"No, I won't," she said, more than half to herself. She sat
brooding for a moment; then suddenly her mood changed. She sprang
up, shook her skirts free, and seated herself at the piano. To
Orde, who had also arisen, she made a quaint grimace over her
"Admire your handiwork!" she told him. "You are rapidly bringing me
to 'tell the truth and shame the devil.' Oh, he must be dying of
mortification this evening!" She struck a great crashing chord,
holding the keys while the strings reverberated and echoed down
slowly into silence again. "It isn't fair," she went on, "for you
big simple men to disarm us. I don't care! I have my private
opinion of such brute strength. JE ME MOQUE!"
She wrinkled her nose and narrowed her eyes. Then ruthlessly she
drowned his reply in a torrent of music. Like mad she played,
rocking her slender body back and forth along the key-board; holding
rigid her fingers, her hands, and the muscles of her arms. The bass
notes roared like the rumbling of thunder; the treble flashed like
the dart of lightnings. Abruptly she muted the instrument. Silence
fell as something that had been pent and suddenly released. She
arose from the piano stool quite naturally, both hands at her hair.
"Aren't Mr. and Mrs. Hubbard dear old people?" said she.
"What is your address in New York?" demanded Orde. She sank into a
chair nearby with a pretty uplifted gesture of despair.
"I surrender!" she cried, and then she laughed until the tears
started from her eyes and she had to brush them away with what
seemed to Orde an absurd affair to call a handkerchief. "Oh, you
are delicious!" she said at last. "Well, listen. I live at 12 West
Ninth Street. Can you remember that?" Orde nodded. "And now any
other questions the prisoner can reply to without incriminating
herself, she is willing to answer." She folded her hands demurely
in her lap.
Two days later Orde saw the train carry her away. He watched the
rear car disappear between the downward slopes of two hills, and
then finally the last smoke from the locomotive dissipate in the
Declining Jane's kindly meant offer of a lift, he walked back to
The new firm plunged busily into its more pressing activities. Orde
especially had an infinitude of details on his hands. The fat note-
book in his side pocket filled rapidly with rough sketches, lists,
and estimates. Constantly he interviewed men of all kinds--
rivermen, mill men, contractors, boat builders, hardware dealers,
pile-driver captains, builders, wholesale grocery men, cooks, axe-
men, chore boys--all a little world in itself.
The signs of progress soon manifested themselves. Below Big Bend
the pile-drivers were at work, the square masses of their hammers
rising rapidly to the tops of the derricks, there to pause a moment
before dropping swiftly to a dull THUMP! They were placing a long,
compact row, which should be the outer bulwarks separating the
sorting-booms from the channel of the river. Ashore the carpenters
were knocking together a long, low structure for the cook-house and
a larger building, destined to serve as bunk-house for the regular
boom-crew. There would also be a blacksmith's forge, a storehouse,
a tool and supply-house, a barn, and small separate shanties for the
married men. Below more labourers with picks, shovels, axes, and
scrapers were cutting out and levelling a road which would, when
finished, meet the county road to town. The numerous bayous of
great marsh were crossed by "float-bridges," lying flat on the
surface of the water, which spurted up in rhythmical little jets
under the impact of hoofs. Down stream eight miles, below the
mills, and just beyond where the drawbridge crossed over to
Monrovia, Duncan McLeod's shipyards clipped and sawed, and steamed
and bent and bolted away at two tugboats, the machinery for which
was already being stowed in the hold of a vessel lying at wharf in
Chicago. In the storerooms of hardware firms porters carried and
clerks checked off chains, strap iron, bolts, spikes, staples, band
iron, bar iron, peavies, cant-hooks, pike-poles, sledge-hammers,
blocks, ropes, and cables.
These things took time and attention to details; also a careful
supervision. The spring increased, burst into leaf and bloom, and
settled into summer. Orde was constantly on the move. As soon as
low water came with midsummer, however, he arranged matters to run
themselves as far as possible, left with Newmark minute instructions
as to personal supervision, and himself departed to Redding. Here
he joined a crew which Tom North had already collected, and betook
himself to the head of the river.
He knew exactly what he intended to do. Far back on the head-waters
he built a dam. The construction of it was crude, consisting merely
of log cribs filled with stone and debris placed at intervals across
the bed of the stream, against which slanted logs made a face. The
gate operated simply, and could be raised to let loose an entire
flood. And indeed this was the whole purpose of the dam. It
created a reservoir from which could be freed new supplies of water
to eke out the dropping spring freshets.
Having accomplished this formidable labour--for the trees had to be
cut and hauled, the stone carted, and the earth shovelled--the crew
next moved down a good ten miles to where the river dropped over a
rapids rough and full of boulders. Here were built and placed a row
of stone-filled log cribs in a double row down stream to define the
channel and to hold the drive in it and away from the shallows near
either bank. The profile of these cribs was that of a right-angled
triangle, the slanting side up stream. Booms chained between them
helped deflect the drive from the shoals. Their more important
office, however, was to give footing to the drivers.
For twenty-five miles then nothing of importance was undertaken.
Two or three particularly bad boulders were split out by the
explosion of powder charges; a number of snags and old trees were
cut away and disposed of; the channel was carefully examined for
obstructions of any kind whatever. Then the party came to the
Here Orde purposed his most elaborate bit of rough engineering. The
falls were only about fifteen feet high, but they fell straight down
to a bed of sheer rock. This had been eaten by the eddies into pot-
holes and crannies until a jagged irregular scoop-hollow had formed
immediately underneath the fall. Naturally this implied a ledge
In flood time the water boiled and roared through this obstruction
in a torrent. The saw logs, caught in the rush, plunged end on into
the scoop-hollow, hit with a crash, and were spewed out below more
or less battered, barked, and stripped. Sometimes, however, when
the chance of the drive brought down a hundred logs together, they
failed to shoot over the barrier of the ledge. Then followed a jam,
a bad jam, difficult and dangerous to break. The falls had taken
her usurious share of the lives the river annually demands as her
This condition of affairs Orde had determined, if possible, to
obviate. From the thirty-five or forty miles of river that lay
above, and from its tributaries would come the bulk of the white and
Norway pine for years to follow. At least two thirds of each drive
Orde figured would come from above the fall.
"If," said he to North, "we could carry an apron on a slant from
just under the crest and over the pot-holes, it would shoot both the
water and the logs off a better angle."
"Sure," agreed North, "but you'll have fun placing your apron with
all that water running through. Why, it would drown us!"
"I've got a notion on that," said Orde. "First thing is to get the
A hardwood forest topped the slope. Into this went the axe-men.
The straightest trees they felled, trimmed, and dragged, down travoy
trails they constructed, on sleds they built for the purpose, to the
banks of the river. Here they bored the two holes through either
end to receive the bolts when later they should be locked together
side by side in their places. As fast as they were prepared, men
with cant-hooks rolled them down the slope to a flat below the
falls. They did these things swiftly and well, because they were
part of the practised day's work, but they shook their heads at the
After the trees had been cut in sufficient number--there were
seventy-five of them, each twenty-six feet long--Orde led the way
back up stream a half mile to a shallows, where he commanded the
construction of a number of exaggerated sawhorses with very
widespread slanting legs. In the meantime the cook-wagon and the
bed-wagon had evidently been making many trips to Sand Creek,
fifteen miles away, as was attested by a large pile of heavy planks.
When the sawhorses were completed, Orde directed the picks and
shovels to be brought up.
At this point the river, as has been hinted, widened over shoals.
The banks at either hand, too, were flat and comparatively low. As
is often the case in bends of rivers subject to annual floods, the
banks sloped back for some distance into a lower black-ash swamp
Orde set his men to digging a channel through this bank. It was no
slight job, from one point of view, as the slope down into the swamp
began only at a point forty or fifty feet inland; but on the other
hand the earth was soft and free from rocks. When completed the
channel gave passage to a rather feeble streamlet from the outer
fringe of the river. The men were puzzled, but Orde, by the strange
freak of his otherwise frank and open nature, as usual told nothing
of his plans, even to Tom North.
"He can't expect to turn that river," said Tim Nolan, who was once
more with the crew. "He'd have to dig a long ways below that level
to catch the main current--and then some."
"Let him alone," advised North, puffing at his short pipe. "He's
wiser than a tree full of owls."
Next Orde assigned two men to each of the queer-shaped sawhorses,
and instructed them to place the horses in a row across the
shallowest part of the river, and broadside to the stream. This was
done. The men, half-way to their knees in the swift water, bore
down heavily to keep their charges in place. Other men immediately
began to lay the heavy planks side by side, perpendicular to and on
the up-stream side of the horses. The weight of the water clamped
them in place; big rocks and gravel shovelled on in quantity
prevented the lower ends from rising; the wide slant of the legs
directed the pressure so far downward that the horses were prevented
from floating away. And slowly the bulk of the water, thus raised a
good three feet above its former level, turned aside into the new
channel and poured out to inundate the black-ash swamp beyond.
A good volume still poured over the top of the temporary dam and
down to the fall; but it was by this expedient so far reduced that
work became possible.
"Now, boys!" cried Orde. "Lively, while we've got the chance!"
By means of blocks and tackles and the team horses the twenty-six-
foot logs were placed side by side, slanting from a point two feet
below the rim of the fall to the ledge below. They were bolted
together top and bottom through the four holes bored for that
purpose. This was a confusing and wet business. Sufficient water
still flowed in the natural channel of the river to dash in spray
over the entire work. Men toiled, wet to the skin, their garments
clinging to them, their eyes full of water, barely able to breathe,
yet groping doggedly at it, and arriving at last. The weather was
warm with the midsummer. They made a joke of the difficulty, and
found inexhaustible humour in the fact that one of their number was
an Immersion Baptist. When the task was finished, they pried the
flash-boards from the improvised dam; piled them neatly beyond reach
of high water; rescued the sawhorses and piled them also for a
possible future use; blocked the temporary channel with a tree or
so--and earth. The river, restored to its immemorial channel by
these men who had so nonchalantly turned it aside, roared on,
singing again the song it had until now sung uninterruptedly for
centuries. Orde and his crew tramped back to the falls, and gazed
on their handiwork with satisfaction. Instead of plunging over an
edge into a turmoil of foam and eddies, now the water flowed
smoothly, almost without a break, over an incline of thirty degrees.
"Logs'll slip over that slick as a gun barrel," said Tom North.
"How long do you think she'll last?"
"Haven't an idea," replied Orde. "We may have to do it again next
summer, but I don't think it. There's nothing but the smooth of the
water to wear those logs until they begin to rot."
Quite cheerfully they took up their long, painstaking journey back
down the river.
Travel down the river was at times very pleasant, and at times very
disagreeable. The ground had now hardened so that a wanigan boat
was unnecessary. Instead, the camp outfit was transported in
waggons, which often had to journey far inland, to make
extraordinary detours, but which always arrived somehow at the
various camping places. Orde and his men, of course, took the river
The river trail ran almost unbroken for over a hundred miles of
meandering way. It climbed up the high banks at the points, it
crossed the bluffs along their sheer edges, it descended to the
thickets in the flats, it crossed the swamps on pole-trails, it
skirted the great, solemn woods. Sometimes, in the lower reaches,
its continuity was broken by a town, but always after it recovered
from its confusion it led on with purpose unvarying. Never did it
desert for long the river. The cool, green still reaches, or the
tumbling of the white-water, were always within its sight, sometimes
beneath its very tread. When occasionally it cut in across a very
long bend, it always sent from itself a little tributary trail which
traced all the curves, and returned at last to its parent,
undoubtedly with a full report of its task. And the trail was
beaten hard by the feet of countless men, who, like Orde and his
crew, had taken grave, interested charge of the river from her birth
to her final rest in the great expanses of the Lake. It is there
to-day, although the life that brought it into being has been gone
from it these many years.
In midsummer Orde found the river trail most unfamiliar in
appearance. Hardly did he recognise it in some places. It
possessed a wide, leisurely expansiveness, an indolent luxury, a
lazy invitation born of broad green leaves, deep and mysterious
shadows, the growth of ferns, docks, and the like cool in the shade
of the forest, the shimmer of aspens and poplars through the heat,
the green of tangling vines, the drone of insects, the low-voiced
call of birds, the opulent splashing of sun-gold through the woods,
quite lacking to the hard, tight season in which his river work was
usually performed. What, in the early year, had been merely a whip
of brush, now had become a screen through whose waving, shifting
interstices he caught glimpses of the river flowing green and cool.
What had been bare timber amongst whose twigs and branches the full
daylight had shone unobstructed, now had clothed itself in foliage
and leaned over to make black and mysterious the water that flowed
beneath. Countless insects hovered over the polished surface of
that water. Dragon-flies cruised about. Little birds swooped
silently down and fluttered back, intent on their tiny prey. Water-
bugs skated hither and thither in apparently purposeless diagonals.
Once in a great while the black depths were stirred. A bass rolled
lazily over, carrying with him his captured insect, leaving on the
surface of the water concentric rings which widened and died away.
The trail led the crew through many minor labours, all of which
consumed time. At Reed's Mill Orde entered into diplomatic
negotiations with Old Man Reed, whom he found singularly amenable.
The skirmish in the spring seemed to have taken all the fight out of
him; or perhaps, more simply, Orde's attitude toward him at that
time had won him over to the young man's side. At any rate, as soon
as he understood that Orde was now in business for himself, he
readily came to an agreement. Thereupon Orde's crew built a new
sluiceway and gate far enough down to assure a good head in the pond
above. Other dam owners farther down the stream also signed
agreements having to do with supplying water over and above what the
law required of them. Above one particularly shallow rapid Orde
built a dam of his own.
All this took time, and the summer months slipped away. Orde had
fallen into the wild life as into a habit. He lived on the river or
the trail. His face took on a ruddier hue than ever; his clothes
faded to a nondescript neutral colour of their own; his hair below
his narrow felt hat bleached three shades. He did his work, and
figured on his schemes, and smoked his pipe, and occasionally took
little trips to the nearest town, where he spent the day at the
hotel desks reading and answering his letters. The weather was
generally very warm. Thunder-storms were not infrequent. Until the
latter part of August, mosquitoes and black flies were bad.
About the middle of September the crew had worked down as far as
Redding, leaving behind them a river tamed, groomed, and harnessed
for their uses. Remained still the forty miles between Redding and
the Lake to be improved. As, however, navigation for light draught
vessels extended as far as that city, Orde here paid off his men. A
few days' work with a pile driver would fence the principal shoals
from the channel.
He stayed over night with his parents, and at once took the train
for Monrovia. There he made his way immediately to the little
office the new firm had rented. Newmark had just come down.
"Hullo, Joe," greeted Orde, his teeth flashing in contrast to the
tan of his face. "I'm done. Anything new since you wrote last?"
Newmark had acquired his articles of incorporation and sold his
stock. How many excursions, demonstrations, representations, and
arguments that implied, only one who has undertaken the floating of
a new and untried scheme can imagine. Perhaps his task had in it as
much of difficulty as Orde's taming of the river. Certainly he
carried it to as successful a conclusion. The bulk of the stock he
sold to the log-owners themselves; the rest he scattered here and
there and everywhere in small lots, as he was able. Some five
hundred and thousand dollar blocks even went to Chicago. His own
little fortune of twenty thousand he paid in for the shares that
represented his half of the majority retained by himself and Orde.
The latter gave a note at ten per cent for his proportion of the
stock. Newmark then borrowed fifteen thousand more, giving as
security a mortgage on the company's newly acquired property--the
tugs, booms, buildings, and real estate. Thus was the financing
determined. It left the company with obligations of fifteen hundred
dollars a year in interest, expenses which would run heavily into
the thousands, and an obligation to make good outside stock worth at
par exactly forty-nine thousand dollars. In addition, Orde had
charged against his account a burden of two thousand dollars a year
interest on his personal debt. To offset these liabilities--outside
the river improvements and equipments, which would hold little or no
value in case of failure--the firm held contracts to deliver about
one hundred million feet of logs. After some discussion the
partners decided to allow themselves twenty-five hundred dollars
apiece by way of salary.
"If we don't make any dividends at first," Orde pointed out, "I've
got to keep even on my interest."
"You can't live on five hundred," objected Newmark.
"I'll be on the river and at the booms six months of the year,"
replied Orde, "and I can't spend much there."
"I'm satisfied," said Newmark thoughtfully, "I'm getting a little
better than good interest on my own investment from the start. And
in a few years after we've paid up, there'll be mighty big money in
He removed his glasses and tapped his palm with their edge.
"The only point that is at all risky to me," said he, "is that we
have only one-season contracts. If for any reason we hang up the
drive, or fail to deliver promptly, we're going to get left the year
following. And then it's B-U-S-T, bust."
"Well, we'll just try not to hang her," replied Orde.
Orde's bank account, in spite of his laughing assertion to Newmark,
contained some eleven hundred dollars. After a brief but
comprehensive tour of inspection over all the works then forward, he
drew a hundred of this and announced to Newmark that business would
take him away for about two weeks.
"I have some private affairs to attend to before settling down to
business for keeps," he told Newmark vaguely.
At Redding, whither he went to pack his little sole-leather trunk,
he told Grandma Orde the same thing. She said nothing at the time,
but later, when Grandpa Orde's slender figure had departed, very
courteous, very erect, very dignified, with its old linen duster
flapping around it, she came and stood by the man leaning over the
"Speak to her, Jack," said she quietly. "She cares for you."
Orde looked up in astonishment, but he did not pretend to deny the
implied accusation as to his destination.
"Why, mother!" he cried. "She's only seen me three or four times!
"I know," nodded Grandma Orde, wisely. "I know. But you mark my
words; she cares for you."
She said nothing more, but stood looking while Orde folded and laid
away, his head bent low in thought. Then she placed her hand for an
instant on his shoulder and went away. The Ordes were not a
The journey to New York was at that time very long and disagreeable,
but Orde bore it with his accustomed stoicism. He had visited the
metropolis before, so it was not unfamiliar to him. He was very
glad, however, to get away from the dust and monotony of the
railroad train. The September twilight was just falling. Through
its dusk the street lamps were popping into illumination as the
lamp-lighter made his rapid way. Orde boarded a horse-car and
jingled away down Fourth Avenue. He was pleased at having arrived,
and stretched his legs and filled his lungs twice with so evident an
enjoyment that several people smiled.
His comfort was soon disturbed, however, by an influx of people
boarding the car at Twenty-third Street. The seats were immediately
filled, and late comers found themselves obliged to stand in the
aisle. Among these were several women. The men nearest buried
themselves in the papers after the almost universal metropolitan
custom. Two or three arose to offer their seats, among them Orde.
When, however, the latter had turned to indicate to one of the women
the vacated seat, he discovered it occupied by a chubby and flashily
dressed youth of the sort common enough in the vicinity of
Fourteenth Street; impudent of eye, cynical of demeanour, and
slightly contemptuous of everything unaccustomed. He had slipped in
back of Orde when that young man arose, whether under the impression
that Orde was about to get off the car or from sheer impudence, it
would be impossible to say.
Orde stared at him, a little astonished.
"I intended that seat for this lady," said Orde, touching him on the
The youth looked up coolly.
"You don't come that!" said he.
Orde wasted no time in discussion, which no doubt saved the
necessity of a more serious disturbance. He reached over suddenly,
seized the youth by the collar, braced his knee against the seat,
and heaved the interloper so rapidly to his feet that he all but
plunged forward among the passengers sitting opposite.
"Your seat, madam," said Orde.
The woman, frightened, unwilling to become the participant of a
scene of any sort, stood looking here and there. Orde,
comprehending her embarrassment, twisted his antagonist about, and,
before he could recover his equilibrium sufficiently to offer
resistance, propelled him rapidly to the open door, the passengers
hastily making way for them.
"Now, my friend," said Orde, releasing his hold on the other's
collar, "don't do such things any more. They aren't nice."
Trivial as the incident was, it served to draw Orde to the
particular notice of an elderly man leaning against the rear rail.
He was a very well-groomed man, dressed in garments whose fit was
evidently the product of the highest art, well buttoned up, well
brushed, well cared for in every way. In his buttonhole he wore a
pink carnation, and in his gloved hand he carried a straight, gold-
headed cane. A silk hat covered his head, from beneath which showed
a slightly empurpled countenance, with bushy white eyebrows, a white
moustache, and a pair of rather bloodshot, but kindly, blue eyes.
In spite of his somewhat pudgy rotundity, he carried himself quite
erect, in a manner that bespoke the retired military man.
"You have courage, sir," said this gentleman, inclining his bead
gravely to Orde.
The young man laughed in his good-humoured fashion.
"Not much courage required to root out that kind of a skunk," said
"I refer to the courage of your convictions. The young men of this
generation seem to prefer to avoid public disturbances. That breed
is quite capable of making a row, calling the police, raising the
deuce, and all that."
"What of it?" said Orde.
The elderly gentleman puffed out his cheeks.
"You are from the West, are you not?" he stated, rather than asked.
"We call it the East out there," said Orde. "It's Michigan."
"I should call that pretty far west," said the old gentleman.
Nothing more was said. After a block or two Orde descended on his
way to a small hotel just off Broadway. The old gentleman saluted.
Orde nodded good-humouredly. In his private soul he was a little
amused at the old boy. To his view a man and clothes carried to
their last refinement were contradictory terms.
Orde ate, dressed, and set out afoot in search of Miss Bishop's
address. He arrived in front of the house a little past eight
o'clock, and, after a moment's hesitation, mounted the steps and
rang the bell.
The door swung silently back to frame an impassive man-servant
dressed in livery. To Orde's inquiry he stated that Miss Bishop had
gone out to the theatre. The young man left his name and a message
of regret. At this the footman, with an irony so subtle as to be
quite lost on Orde, demanded a card. Orde scribbled a line in his
note-book, tore it out, folded it, and left it. In it he stated his
regret, his short residence in the city, and desired an early
opportunity to call. Then he departed down the brownstone steps,
totally unconscious of the contempt he had inspired in the heart of
the liveried man behind him.
He retired early and arose early, as had become his habit. When he
descended to the office the night clerk, who had not yet been
relieved, handed him a note delivered the night before. Orde ripped
it open eagerly.
"MY DEAR MR. ORDE:
"I was so sorry to miss you that evening because of a stupid play.
Come around as early as you can to-morrow morning. I shall expect
Orde glanced at the clock, which pointed to seven. He breakfasted,
read the morning paper, finally started leisurely in the direction
of West Ninth Street. He walked slowly, so as to consume more time,
then at University Place was seized with a panic, and hurried
rapidly to his destination. The door was answered by the same man
who had opened the night before, but now, in some indefinable way,
his calm, while flawless externally, seemed to have lifted to a mere
surface, as though he might hastily have assumed his coat. To
Orde's inquiry he stated with great brevity that Miss Bishop was not
yet visible, and prepared to close the door.
"You are mistaken," said Orde, with equal brevity, and stepped
inside. "I have an engagement with Miss Bishop. Tell her Mr. Orde
The man departed in some doubt, leaving Orde standing in the gloomy
hall. That young man, however, quite cheerfully parted the heavy
curtains leading into a parlour, and sat down in a spindle-legged
chair. At his entrance, a maid disappeared out another door,
carrying with her the implements of dusting and brushing.
Orde looked around the room with some curiosity. It was long,
narrow, and very high. Tall windows admitted light at one end. The
illumination was, however, modified greatly by hangings of lace
covering all the windows, supplemented by heavy draperies drawn back
to either side. The embrasure was occupied by a small table, over
which seemed to flutter a beautiful marble Psyche. A rubber plant,
then as now the mark of the city and suburban dweller, sent aloft
its spare, shiny leaves alongside a closed square piano. The lack
of ornaments atop the latter bespoke the musician. Through the
filtered gloom of the demi-light Orde surveyed with interest the
excellent reproductions of the Old World masterpieces framed on the
walls--"Madonnas" by Raphael, Murillo, and Perugino, the "Mona
Lisa," and Botticelli's "Spring"--the three oil portraits occupying
the large spaces; the spindle-legged chairs and tables, the tea
service in the corner, the tall bronze lamp by the piano, the neat
little grate-hearth, with its mantel of marble; the ormolu clock,
all the decorous and decorated gentility which marked the
irreproachable correctness of whoever had furnished the apartment.
Dark and heavy hangings depended in front of a double door leading
into another room beyond. Equally dark and heavy hangings had
closed behind Orde as he entered. An absolute and shrouded
stillness seemed to settle down upon him. The ormolu clock ticked
steadily. Muffled sounds came at long intervals from behind the
portieres. Orde began to feel oppressed and subdued.
For quite three quarters of an hour he waited without hearing any
other indications of life than the muffled sounds just remarked
upon. Occasionally he shifted his position, but cautiously, as
though he feared to awaken some one. The three oil portraits stared
at him with all the reserved aloofness of their painted eyes. He
began to doubt whether the man had announced him at all.
Then, breaking the stillness with almost startling abruptness, he
heard a clear, high voice saying something at the top of the stairs
outside. A rhythmical SWISH of skirts, punctuated by the light PAT-
PAT of a girl tripping downstairs, brought him to his feet. A
moment later the curtains parted and she entered, holding out her
"Oh, I did keep you waiting such a long time!" she cried.
He stood holding her hand, suddenly unable to say a word, looking at
her hungrily. A flood of emotion, of which he had had no prevision,
swelled up within him to fill his throat. An almost irresistible
impulse all but controlled him to crush her to him, to kiss her lips
and her throat, to lose his fingers in the soft, shadowy fineness of
her hair. The crest of the wave passed almost immediately, but it
left him shaken. A faint colour deepened under the transparence of
her skin; her fathomless black eyes widened ever so little; she
released her hand.
"It was good of you to come so promptly," said she. "I'm so anxious
to hear all about the dear people at Redding."
She settled gracefully in one of the little chairs. Orde sat down,
once more master of himself, but still inclined to devour her with
his gaze. She was dressed in a morning gown, all laces and ribbons
and long, flowing lines. Her hair was done low on the back of her
head and on the nape of her neck. The blood ebbed and flowed
beneath her clear skin. A faint fragrance of cleanliness diffused
itself about her--the cool, sweet fragrance of daintiness. They
entered busily into conversation. Her attitudes were no longer
relaxed and languidly graceful as in the easy chairs under the
lamplight. She sat forward, her hands crossed on her lap, a fire
smouldering deep beneath the cool surface lights of her eyes.
The sounds in the next room increased in volume, as though several
people must have entered that apartment. In a moment or so the
curtains to the hall parted to frame the servant.
"Mrs. Bishop wishes to know, miss," said that functionary, "if
you're not coming to breakfast."
Orde sprang to his feet.
"Haven't you had your breakfast yet?" he cried, conscience stricken.
"Didn't you gather the fact that I'm just up?" she mocked him. "I
assure you it doesn't matter. The family has just come down."
"But," cried Orde, "I wasn't here until nine o'clock. I thought, of
course, you'd be around. I'm mighty sorry--"
"Oh, la la!" she cried, cutting him short. "What a bother about
nothing. Don't you see--I'm ahead a whole hour of good talk."
"You see, you told me in your note to come early," said Orde.
"I forgot you were one of those dreadful outdoor men. You didn't
see any worms, did you? Next time I'll tell you to come the day
Orde was for taking his leave, but this she would not have.
"You must meet my family," she negatived. "For if you're here for
so short a time we want to see something of you. Come right out
Orde thereupon followed her down a narrow, dark hall, squeezed
between the stairs and the wall, to a door that opened slantwise
into a dining-room the exact counterpart in shape to the parlour at
the other side of the house. Only in this case the morning sun and
more diaphanous curtains lent an air of brightness, further enhanced
by a wire stand of flowers in the bow-windows.
The centre of the room was occupied by a round table, about which
were grouped several people of different ages. With her back to the
bow-window sat a woman well beyond middle age, but with evidently
some pretensions to youth. She was tall, desiccated, quick in
movement. Dark rings below her eyes attested either a nervous
disease, an hysterical temperament, or both. Immediately at her
left sat a boy of about fourteen years of age, his face a curious
contradiction between a naturally frank and open expression and a
growing sullenness. Next him stood a vacant chair, evidently for
Miss Bishop. Opposite lolled a young man, holding a newspaper in
one hand and a coffee cup in the other. He was very handsome, with
a drooping black moustache, dark eyes, under lashes almost too
luxuriant, and a long, oval face, dark in complexion, and a trifle
sardonic in expression. In the VIS-A-VIS to Mrs. Bishop, Orde was
surprised to find his ex-military friend of the street car. Miss
Bishop performed the necessary introductions, which each
acknowledged after his fashion, but with an apparent indifference
that dashed Orde, accustomed to a more Western cordiality. Mrs.
Bishop held out a languidly graceful hand, the boy mumbled a
greeting, the young man nodded lazily over his newspaper. Only
General Bishop, recognising him, arose and grasped his hand, with a
real, though rather fussy, warmth.
"My dear sir," he cried, "I am honoured to see you again. This, my
dear," he addressed his wife, "is the young man I was telling you
about--in the street car," he explained.
"How very interesting," said Mrs. Bishop, with evidently no
comprehension and less interest.
Gerald Bishop cast an ironically amused glance across at Orde. The
boy looked up at him quickly, the sullenness for a moment gone from
Carroll Bishop appeared quite unconscious of an atmosphere which
seemed to Orde strained, but sank into her place at the table and
unfolded her napkin. The silent butler drew forward a chair for
Orde, and stood looking impassively in Mrs. Bishop's direction.
"You will have some breakfast with us?" she inquired. "No? A cup
of coffee, at least?"
She began to manipulate the coffee pot, without paying the slightest
attention to Orde's disclaimer. The general puffed out his cheeks,
and coughed a bit in embarrassment.
"A good cup of coffee is never amiss to an old campaigner," he said
to Orde. "It's as good as a full meal in a pinch. I remember when
I was a major in the Eleventh, down near the City of Mexico, in '48,
the time Hardy's command was so nearly wiped out by that viaduct--"
He half turned toward Orde, his face lighting up, his fingers
reaching for the fork with which, after the custom of old soldiers,
to trace the chart of his reminiscences.
Mrs. Bishop rattled her cup and saucer with an uncontrollably
nervous jerk of her slender body. For some moments she had awaited
a chance to get the general's attention. "Spare us, father," she
said brusquely. "Will you have another cup of coffee?"
The old gentleman, arrested in mid-career, swallowed, looked a
trifle bewildered, but subsided meekly.
"No, thank you, my dear," said he, and went furiously at his
Orde, overwhelmed by embarrassment, discovered that none of the
others had paid the incident the slightest attention. Only on the
lips of Gerald Bishop he surprised a fine, detached smile.
At this moment the butler entered bearing the mail. Mrs. Bishop
tore hers open rapidly, dropping the mangled envelopes at her side.
The contents of one seemed to vex her.
"Oh!" she cried aloud. "That miserable Marie! She promised me to
have it done to-day, and now she puts it off until Monday. It's too
provoking!" She turned to Orde for sympathy. "Do you know ANYTHING
more aggravating than to work and slave to the limit of endurance,
and then have everything upset by the stupidity of some one else?"
Orde murmured an appropriate reply, to which Mrs. Bishop paid no
attention whatever. She started suddenly up from the table.
"I must see about it!" she cried. "I plainly see I shall have to do
it myself. I WILL do it myself. I promised it for Sunday."
"You mustn't do another stitch, mother," put in Carroll Bishop
decidedly. "You know what the doctor told you. You'll have
yourself down sick."
"Well, see for yourself!" cried Mrs. Bishop. "That's what comes of
leaving things to others! If I'd done it myself, it would have
saved me all this bother and fuss, and it would have been done. And
now I've got to do it anyway."
"My dear," put in the general, "perhaps Carroll can see Marie about
it. In any case, there's nothing to work yourself up into such an
"It's very easy for you to talk, isn't it?" cried Mrs. Bishop,
turning on him. "I like the way you all sit around like lumps and
do nothing, and then tell me how I ought to have done it. John,
have the carriage around at once." She turned tensely to Orde. "I
hope you'll excuse me," she said very briefly; "I have something
very important to attend to."
Carroll had also risen. Orde held out his hand.
"I must be going," said he.
"Well," she conceded, "I suppose I'd better see if I can't help
mother out. But you'll come in again. Come and dine with us this
evening. Mother will be delighted."
As Mrs. Bishop had departed from the room, Orde had to take for
granted the expression of this delight. He bowed to the other
occupants of the table. The general was eating nervously. Gerald's
eyes were fixed amusedly on Orde.
To Orde's surprise, he was almost immediately joined on the street
by young Mr. Bishop, most correctly appointed.
"Going anywhere in particular?" he inquired. "Let's go up the
avenue, then. Everybody will be out."
They turned up the great promenade, a tour of which was then, even
more than now, considered obligatory on the gracefully idle.
Neither said anything--Orde because he was too absorbed in the
emotions this sudden revelation of Carroll's environment had aroused
in him; Gerald, apparently, because he was too indifferent.
Nevertheless it was the young exquisite who finally broke the
"It was an altar cloth," said he suddenly.
"What?" asked Orde, rather bewildered.
"Mother is probably the most devout woman in New York," went on
Gerald's even voice. "She is one of the hardest workers in the
church. She keeps all the fast days, and attends all the services.
Although she has no strength to speak of, she has just completed an
elaborate embroidered altar cloth. The work she accomplished while
on her knees. Often she spent five or six hours a day in that
position. It was very devout, but against the doctor's orders, and
she is at present much pulled down. Finally she gave way to
persuasion to the extent of sending the embroidery out to be bound
and corded. As a result, the altar cloth will not be done for next
He delivered this statement in a voice absolutely colourless,
without the faintest trace discernible of either approval or
disapproval, without the slightest irony, yet Orde felt vaguely
"It must have been annoying to her," he said gravely, "and I hope
she will get it done in time. Perhaps Miss Bishop will be able to
"That," said Gerald, "is Madison Square--or perhaps you know New
York? My sister would, of course, be only too glad to finish the
work, but I fear that my mother's peculiarly ardent temperament will
now insist on her own accomplishment of the task. But perhaps you
do not understand temperaments?"
"Very little, I'm afraid," confessed Orde.
They walked on for some distance farther.
"Your father was in the Mexican War?" said Orde, to change the trend
of his own thoughts.
"He was a most distinguished officer. I believe he received the
Medal of Honour for a part in the affair of the Molina del Rey."
"What command had he in the Civil War?" asked Orde. "I fooled
around the outskirts of that a little myself."
"My father resigned from the army in '54," replied Gerald, with his
cool, impersonal courtesy.
"That was too bad; just before the chance for more service," said
"Army life was incompatible with my mother's temperament," stated
Orde said nothing more. It was Gerald's turn to end the pause.
"You are from Redding, of course," said he. "My sister is very
enthusiastic about the place. You are in business there?"
Orde replied briefly, but, forced by the direct, cold, and polite
cross-questioning of his companion, he gave the latter a succinct
idea of the sort of operations in which he was interested.
"And you," he said at last; "I suppose you're either a broker or
lawyer; most men are down here."
"I am neither one nor the other," stated Gerald. "I am possessed of
a sufficient income from a legacy to make business unnecessary."
"I don't believe I'd care to--be idle," said Orde vaguely.
"There is plenty to occupy one's time," replied Gerald. "I have my
clubs, my gymnasium, my horse, and my friends."
"Isn't there anything that particularly attracts you?" asked Orde.
The young man's languid eyes grew thoughtful, and he puffed more
strongly on his cigarette.
"I should like," said he slowly, at last, "to enter the navy."
"Why don't you?" asked Orde bluntly.
"Certain family reasons make it inexpedient at present," said
Gerald. "My mother is in a very nervous state; she depends on us,
and any hint of our leaving her is sufficient to render her
By this time the two young men were well uptown. On Gerald's
initiative, they turned down a side street, and shortly came to a
"That is my gymnasium," said Gerald, pointing to a building across
the way. "Won't you come in with me? I am due now for my
Orde's evening was a disappointment to him. Mrs. Bishop had, by
Carroll's report, worked feverishly at the altar cloth all the
afternoon. As a consequence, she had gone to bed with a bad
headache. This state of affairs seemed to throw the entire family
into a state of indecision. It was divided in mind as to what to
do, the absolute inutility of any effort balancing strongly against
a sense of what the invalid expected.
"I wonder if mother wouldn't like just a taste of this beef,"
speculated the general, moving fussily in his chair. "I believe
somebody ought to take some up. She MIGHT want it."
The man departed with the plate, but returned a few moments later,
impassive--but still with the plate.
"Has she got her hot-water bag?" asked the boy unexpectedly.
"Yes, Master Kendrick," replied the butler.
After a preoccupied silence the general again broke out:
"Seems to me somebody ought to be up there with her."
"You know, father, that she can't stand any one in the room," said
Toward the close of the meal, however, a distant bell tinkled
faintly. Every one jumped as though guilty. Carroll said a hasty
excuse and ran out. After ringing the bell, the invalid had
evidently anticipated its answer by emerging from her room to the
head of the stairs, for Orde caught the sharp tones of complaint,
and overheard something about "take all night to eat a simple meal,
when I'm lying here suffering."
At the end of an interval a maid appeared in the doorway to say that
Miss Carroll sent word she would not be down again for a time, and
did not care for any more dinner. This seemed to relieve the
general's mind of responsibility. He assumed his little fussy air
of cheerfulness, told several stories of the war, and finally, after
Kendrick had left, brought out some whisky and water. He winked
slyly at Orde.
"Can't do this before the youngsters, you know," he chirruped
Throughout the meal Gerald had sat back silent, a faint amusement in
his eye. After dinner he arose, yawned, consulted his watch, and
departed, pleading an engagement. Orde lingered some time,
listening to the general, in the hope that Carroll would reappear.
She did not, so finally he took his leave.
He trudged back to his hotel gloomily. The day had passed in a most
unsatisfactory manner, according to his way of looking at it. Yet
he had come more clearly to an understanding of the girl; her
cheerfulness, her unselfishness, and, above all, the sweet,
beautiful philosophy of life that must lie back, to render her so
uncomplainingly the slave of the self-willed woman, yet without the
indifferent cynicism of Gerald, the sullen, yet real, partisanship
of Kendrick, or the general's week-kneed acquiescence.
The next morning he succeeded in making an arrangement by letter for
an excursion to the newly projected Central Park. Promptly at two
o'clock he was at the Bishops' house. To his inquiry the butler
said that Mrs. Bishop had recovered from her indisposition, and that
Miss Bishop would be down immediately. Orde had not long to wait
for her. The SWISH, PAT-PAT of her joyous descent of the stairs
brought him to his feet. She swept aside the portieres, and stood
between their folds, bidding him welcome.
"I'm so sorry about last night," said she, "but poor mother does
depend on me so at such times. Isn't it a gorgeous day to walk? It
won't be much like OUR woods, will it? But it will be something.
OH, I'm so glad to get out!"
She was in one of her elfish moods, the languid grace of her sleepy-
eyed moments forgotten. With a little cry of rapture she ran to the
piano, and dashed into a gay, tinkling air with brilliancy and
abandon. Her head, surmounted by a perky, high-peaked, narrow-
brimmed hat, with a flaming red bird in front, glorified by the
braid and "waterfall" of that day, bent forward and turned to flash
an appeal for sympathy toward Orde.
"There, I feel more able to stay on earth!" she cried, springing to
her feet. "Now I'll get on my gloves and we'll start."
She turned slowly before the mirror, examining quite frankly the
hang of her skirt, the fit of her close-cut waist, the turn of the
adorable round, low-cut collars that were then the mode.
"It pays to be particular; we are in New York," she answered, or
parried, Orde's glance of admiration.
The gloves finally drawn on and buttoned, Orde held aside the
portieres, and she passed fairly under his uplifted hand. He wanted
to drop his arm about her, this slender girl with her quaint
dignity, her bird-like ways, her gentle, graceful, mysterious,
feminine soul. The flame-red bird lent its colour to her cheeks;
her eyes, black and fathomless, the pupils wide in this dim light,
shone with two stars of delight.
But, as they moved toward the massive front doors, Mrs. Bishop came
down the stairs behind them. She, too, was dressed for the street.
She received Orde's greeting and congratulation over her improved
health in rather an absent manner. Indeed, as soon as she could
hurry this preliminary over, she plunged into what evidently she
considered a more important matter.
"You aren't thinking of going out, are you?" she asked Carroll.
"I told you, mother; don't you remember? Mr. Orde and I are going
to get a little air in the park."
"I'm sorry," said Mrs. Bishop, with great brevity and decision, "but
I'm going to the rectory to help Mr. Merritt, and I shall want you
to go too, to see about the silver."
"But, mother," expostulated Carroll, "wouldn't Marie do just as
"You know very well she can't be trusted without direction."
"I DO so want to go to the park," said Carroll wistfully. Mrs.
Bishop's thin, nervous figure jerked spasmodically. "There is very
little asked of you from morning until night," she said, with some
asperity, "and I should think you'd have some slight consideration
for the fact that I'm just up from a sick bed to spare me all you
could. Besides which, you do very little for the church. I won't
insist. Do exactly as you think best."
Carroll threw a pathetic glance at Orde.
"How soon are you going?" she asked her mother.
"In about ten minutes," replied Mrs. Bishop; "as soon as I've seen
Honorine about the dinner." She seemed abruptly to realise that the
amenities demanded something of her. "I'm sorry we must go so
soon," she said briefly to Orde, "but of course church business--We
shall hope to see you often."
Once more Orde held aside the curtains. The flame-bird drooped from
the twilight of the hall into the dimness of the parlour. All the
brightness seemed to have drained from the day, and all the joy of
life seemed to have faded from the girl's soul. She sank into a
chair, and tried pathetically to smile across at Orde.
"I'm such a baby about disappointments," said she.
"I know," he replied, very gently.
"And it's such a blue and gold day."
"I know," he repeated.
She twisted her glove in her lap, a bright spot of colour burning in
"Mother is not well, and she has a great deal to try her. Poor
mother!" she said softly, her head cast down.
"I know," said Orde in his gentle tones.
After a moment he arose to go. She remained seated, her head down.
"I'm sorry about this afternoon," said he cheerfully, "but it
couldn't be helped, could it? Jane used to tell me about your harp
playing. I'm going to come in to hear you this evening. May I?"
"Yes," she said, in a stifled voice, and held out her hand. She sat
quite still until she heard the front door close after him; then she
ran to the curtains and looked after his sturdy, square figure, as
it swung up the street.
"Well done; oh, well done, gentle heart!" she breathed after him.
Then she went back to the piano.
But Orde's mouth, could she have seen it, was set in grim lines, and
his feet, could she have heard them, rang on the pavement with quite
superfluous vigour. He turned to the left, and, without pause,
walked some ten or twelve miles.
The evening turned out very well, fortunately; Orde could not have
stood much more. They had the parlour quite to themselves. Carroll
took the cover from the tall harp, and, leaning her cheek against
it, she played dreamily for a half hour. Her arms were bare, and as
her fingers reached out lingeringly and caressingly to draw the
pure, golden chords from the golden instrument, her soft bosom
pressed against the broad sounding board. There is about the tones
of a harp well played something luminous, like rich, warm sunlight.
When the girl muted the strings at last, it seemed to Orde as though
all at once the room had perceptibly darkened. He took his leave
finally, his spirit soothed and restored.
Tranquillity was not for long, however. Orde's visits were,
naturally, as frequent as possible. To them almost instantly Mrs.
Bishop opposed the strong and intuitive jealousy of egotism. She
had as yet no fears as to the young man's intentions, but
instinctively she felt an influence that opposed her own supreme
dominance. In consequence, Orde had much time to himself. Carroll
and the rest of the family, with the possible exception of Gerald,
shared the belief that the slightest real opposition to Mrs. Bishop
would suffice to throw her into one of her "spells," a condition of
alarming and possibly genuine collapse. "To drive mother into a
spell" was an expression of the worst possible domestic crime. It
accused the perpetrator--through Mrs. Bishop--of forgetting the
state of affairs, of ingratitude for care and affection, of common
inhumanity, and of impiety in rendering impossible of performance
the multifarious church duties Mrs. Bishop had invented and assumed
as so many particularly shining virtues. Orde soon discovered that
Carroll went out in society very little for the simple reason that
she could never give an unqualified acceptance to an invitation. At
the last moment, when she had donned her street wraps and the
carriage was at the door, she was liable to be called back, either
to assist at some religious function, which, by its sacred
character, was supposed to have precedence over everything, or to
attend a nervous crisis, brought on by some member of the household,
or by mere untoward circumstances. The girl always acquiesced most
sweetly in these recurrent disappointments. And the very fact that
she accepted few invitations gave Orde many more chances to see her,
in spite of Mrs. Bishop's increasing exactions. He did not realise
this fact, however, but ground his teeth and clung blind-eyed to his
temper whenever the mother cut short his visits or annulled his
engagements on some petty excuse of her own. He could almost
believe these interruptions malicious, were it not that he soon
discovered Mrs. Bishop well disposed toward him personally whenever
he showed himself ready to meet her even quarter way on the topics
that interested her--the church and her health.
In this manner the week passed. Orde saw as much as he could of
Miss Bishop. The remainder of the time he spent walking the streets
and reading in the club rooms to which Gerald's courtesy had given
him access. Gerald himself seemed to be much occupied. Precisely
at eleven every morning, however, he appeared at the gymnasium for
his practice; and in this Orde dropped into the habit of joining
him. When the young men first stripped in each other's presence,
they eyed each other with a secret surprise. Gerald's slender and
elegant body turned out to be smoothly and gracefully muscled on the
long lines of the Flying Mercury. His bones were small, but his
flesh was hard, and his skin healthy with the flow of blood beneath.
Orde, on the other hand, had earned from the river the torso of an
ancient athlete. The round, full arch of his chest was topped by a
mass of clean-cut muscle; across his back, beneath the smooth skin,
the muscles rippled and ridged and dimpled with every movement; the
beautiful curve of the deltoids, from the point of the shoulder to
the arm, met the other beautiful curve of the unflexed biceps and
that fulness of the back arm so often lacking in a one-sided
development; the surface of the abdomen showed the peculiar
corrugation of the very strong man; the round, columnar neck arose
"By Jove!" said Gerald, roused at last from his habitual apathy.
"What's the matter?" asked Orde, looking up from tying the rubber-
soled shoes that Gerald had lent him.
"Murphy," called Gerald, "come here."
A very hairy, thick-set, bullet-headed man, the type of semi-
professional "handlers," emerged from somewhere across the
"Do you think you could down this fellow?" asked Gerald.
Murphy looked Orde over critically.
"Who ye ringin' in on me?" he inquired.
"This is a friend of mine," said Gerald severely.
"Beg your pardon. The gentleman is well put up. How much
experience has he had?"
"Ever box much?" Gerald asked Orde.
"Box?" Orde laughed. "Never had time for that sort of thing. Had
the gloves on a few times."
"Where did you get your training, sir?" asked the handler.
"My training?" repeated Orde, puzzled. "Oh, I see! I was always
pretty heavy, and I suppose the work on the river keeps a man in
pretty good shape."
Gerald's languor had vanished, and a glint had appeared in his eye
that would have reminded Orde of Miss Bishop's most mischievous mood
could he have seen it.
"Put on the gloves with Murphy," he suggested, "will you? I'd like
to see you two at it."
"Surely," agreed Orde good-naturedly. "I'm not much good at it, but
I'd just as soon try." He was evidently not in the least afraid to
meet the handler, though as evidently without much confidence in his
"All right; I'll be with you in a second," said Gerald,
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