Part 1 out of 7
Produced by Suzanne Shell, Beginners Projects, Mary Meehan and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
A NOVEL BY SUSAN GLASPELL
Miss Katherine Wayneworth Jones was bunkered. Having been bunkered many
times in the past, and knowing that she would be bunkered upon many
occasions in the future, Miss Jones was not disposed to take a tragic
view of the situation. The little white ball was all too secure down
there in the sand; as she had played her first nine, and at least paid
her respects to the game, she could now scale the hazard and curl herself
into a comfortable position. It was a seductively lazy spring day, the
very day for making arm-chairs of one's hazards. And let it be set down
in the beginning that Miss Jones was more given to a comfortable place
than to a tragic view.
Katherine Wayneworth Jones, affectionately known to many friends in many
lands as Katie Jones, was an "army girl." And that not only for the
obvious reasons: not because her people had been of the army, even unto
the second and third generations, not because she had known the joys and
jealousies of many posts, not even because bachelor officers were
committed to the habit of proposing to her--those were but the trappings.
She was an army girl because "Well, when you know her, you don't have to
be told, and if you don't know her you can't be," a floundering friend
had once concluded her exposition of why Katie was so "army." For her to
marry outside the army would be regarded as little short of treason.
To-day she was giving a little undisturbing consideration to that thing
of her marrying. For it was her twenty-fifth birthday, and twenty-fifth
birthdays are prone to knock at the door of matrimonial possibilities.
Just then the knock seemed answered by Captain Prescott. Unblushingly
Miss Jones considered that doubtless before the summer was over she would
be engaged to him. And quite likely she would follow up the engagement
with a wedding. It seemed time for her to be following up some of her
She did not believe that she would at all mind marrying Harry Prescott.
All his people liked all hers, which would facilitate things at the
wedding; she would not be rudely plunged into a new set of friends, which
would be trying at her time of life. Everything about him was quite all
right: he played a good game of golf, not a maddening one of bridge,
danced and rode in a sort of joy of living fashion. And she liked the way
he showed his teeth when he laughed. She always thought when he laughed
most unreservedly that he was going to show more of them; but he never
did; it interested her.
And it interested her the way people said: "Prescott? Oh yes--he was in
Cuba, wasn't he?" and then smiled a little, perhaps shrugged a trifle,
"Great fellow--Prescott. Never made a mess of things, anyhow."
To have vague association with the mysterious things of life, and yet not
to have "made a mess of things"--what more could one ask?
Of course, pounding irritably with her club, the only reason for not
marrying him was that there were too many reasons for doing so. She could
not think of a single person who would furnish the stimulus of an
objection. Stupid to have every one so pleased! But there must always be
something wrong, so let that be appeased in having everything just right.
And then there was Cuba for one's adventurous sense.
She looked about her with satisfaction. It frequently happened that the
place where one was inspired keen sense of the attractions of some other
place. But this time there was no place she would rather be than just
where she found herself. For she was a little tired, after a long round
of visits at gay places, and this quiet, beautiful island out in the
Mississippi--large, apart, serene--seemed a great lap into which to sink.
She liked the quarters: big old-fashioned houses in front of which the
long stretch of green sloped down to the river. There was something
peculiarly restful in the spaciousness and stability, a place which the
disagreeable or distressing things of life could not invade. Most of the
women were away, which was the real godsend, for the dreariness and
desolation of pleasure would be eliminated. A quiet post was charming
until it tried to be gay--so mused Miss Katherine Wayneworth Jones.
And of various other things, mused she. Her brother, Captain Wayneworth
Jones, was divorced from his wife and wedded to something he was hoping
would in turn be wedded to a rifle; all the scientific cells of the
family having been used for Wayne's brain, it was hard for Katie to get
the nature of the attachment, but she trusted the ordnance department
would in time solemnly legalize the affair--Wayne giving in
marriage--destruction profiting happily by the union. Meanwhile Wayne was
so consecrated to the work of making warfare more deadly that he scarcely
knew his sister had arrived. But on the morrow, or at least the day
after, would come young Wayneworth, called Worth, save when his Aunt Kate
called him Wayne the Worthy. Wayne the Worthy was also engaged in
perfecting a death-dealing instrument, the same being the interrogation
point. Doubtless he would open fire on Aunt Kate with--Why didn't his
mother and father live in the same place any more, and--Why did he have
to live half the time with mama if he'd rather stay all the time with
father? Poor Worth, he had only spent six years in a world of law and
order, and had yet to learn about courts and incompatibilities and
annoying things like that. It did not seem fair that the hardest part of
the whole thing should fall to poor little Wayne the Worthy. He couldn't
help it, certainly.
But how Worthie would love those collie pups! They would evolve all sorts
of games to play with them. Picturing herself romping with the boy and
dogs, prowling about on the river in Wayne's new launch, lounging under
those great oak trees reading good lazying books, doing everything
because she wanted to and nothing because she had to, flirting just
enough with Captain Prescott to keep a sense of the reality of life, she
lay there gloating over the happy prospect.
And then in that most irresponsible and unsuspecting of moments
something whizzed into her consciousness like a bullet--something
shot by her vision pierced the lazy, hazy, carelessly woven web of
imagery--bullet-swift, bullet-true, bullet-terrible--striking the center
clean and strong. The suddenness and completeness with which she sat up
almost sent her from her place. For from the very instant that her eye
rested upon the figure of the girl in pink organdie dress and big hat she
knew something was wrong.
And when, within a few feet of the river the girl stopped running, shrank
back, covered her face with her hands, then staggered on, she knew that
that girl was going to the river to kill herself.
There was one frozen instant of powerlessness. Then--what to do? Call to
her? She would only hurry on. Run after her? She could not get there. It
was intuition--instinct--took the short cut a benumbed reason could not
make; rolling headlong down the bunker, twisting her neck and mercilessly
bumping her elbow, Katherine Wayneworth Jones emitted a shriek to raise
the very dead themselves. And then three times a quick, wild
"Help--Help--Help!" and a less audible prayer that no one else was near.
It reached; the girl stopped, turned, saw the rumpled, lifeless-looking
heap of blue linen, turned back toward the river, then once more to the
motionless Miss Jones, lying face downward in the sand. And then the girl
who thought life not worth living, delaying her own preference, with
rather reluctant feet--feet clad in pink satin slippers--turned back to
the girl who wanted to live badly enough to call for help.
Through one-half of one eye Katie could see her; she was thinking that
there was something fine about a girl who wanted to kill herself putting
it off long enough to turn back and help some one who wanted to live.
Miss Jones raised her head just a trifle, showed her face long enough to
roll her eyes in a grewsome way she had learned at school, and with a
"Help me!" buried her face in the sand and lay there quivering.
The girl knelt down. "You sick?" she asked, and Katie had the fancy of
her voice sounding as though she had not expected to use it any more.
"So ill!" panted Kate, rolling over on her back and holding her heart.
"Here! My heart!"
The girl looked around uncertainly. It must be a jar, Katie conceded,
being called back to life, expected to fight for the very thing one was
running away from. Her rescuer was evidently considering going to the
river for water--saving water (Katie missed none of those fine
points)--but instead she pulled the patient to a sitting position,
"You can breathe better this way, can't you?" she asked solicitously.
"Have you had them before? Will it go away? Shall I call some one?"
Katie rolled her head about as she had seen people do who were dying on
the stage. "Often--before. Go away--soon. But don't leave me!" she
implored, clutching at the girl wildly.
"I will not leave you," the stranger assured her. "I have plenty of
Miss Jones made what the doctors would call a splendid recovery. Her
breath began coming more naturally; her spine seemed to regain control of
her head; her eyes rolled less wildly. "It's going," she panted; "but
you'll have to help me to the house."
"Why of course," replied the girl who was being delayed. "Do you think
I'd leave a sick girl sitting out here all alone?"
Kate felt like apologizing. It seemed rather small--that interrupting a
death to save a life.
"Where do you live?" her companion was asking. She pointed to the
quarters. "In one of those?"
"The second one," Katie told her. "And thank Heaven," she told herself,
"the first one is closed!"
"Lean on me," directed the girl in pink, with a touch of the gentle
authority of strong to weak. "Don't be afraid to lean on me."
Kate felt the quick warm tears against her eyelids. "You're very kind,"
she said, and the quiver in her voice was real.
They walked slowly on, silently. Katie was trembling now, and in
earnest. "My name is Katherine Jones," she said at last, looking timidly
at the girl who was helping her.
It wrought a change. The girl's mouth closed in a hard line. A hard,
defending glitter seemed to seal her eyes. She did not respond.
"May I ask to whom I am indebted for this kindness?" It was asked with
But for the moment it brought no response. "My name is Verna Woods," came
at last with an unsteady defiance.
They had reached the steps of the big, hospitable porch. With deep relief
Katie saw that there was no one about. Nora had gone out with one of her
adorers from the barracks.
They turned, and were looking back to the river. It was May at May's
loveliest: the grass and trees so tender a green, the river so gently
buoyant, and a softly sympathetic sky over all. A soldier had appeared
and was picking twigs from the putting green in front of them; another
soldier was coming down the road with some eggs which he was evidently
taking to Captain Prescott's quarters. He was whistling. Everything
seemed to be going very smoothly. And a launch was coming down the river;
a girl's laugh came musically across the water and the green; it inspired
the joyful throat of a nearby robin. And into this had been shot--!
Katie turned to the intruder. "It's lovely, isn't it?" she asked in a
queer, hushed way.
The girl looked at her, and at the fierce rush of things Kate took a
frightened step backward. But quickly the other had turned away her face.
Only her clenched hand and slightly moving shoulder told anything.
There was another call to make, and instinct alone could not reach this
time. For the moment thought of it left her mute.
"You have been so kind to me," she began, her timidity serving well as
helplessness, "so very kind. I wonder if I may ask one thing more? Am--am
I keeping you from anything you should be doing?"
There was no response at first, just a little convulsive clenching of the
hand, an accentuated movement of the shoulder. Then, "I have time
enough," was the low, curt answer, face still averted.
"I am alone here, as you see. I am just a little afraid of a--a return
attack. I wonder--would you be willing to come up to my room with
me--help make a cup of tea for us and--stay with me a little while?"
Again for the minute, no reply. Then the girl turned hotly upon her,
suspicion, resentment--was it hatred, too?--in her eyes. But what she saw
was as a child's face--wide eyes, beseeching mouth. Women who wondered
"what in the world men saw in Katie Jones" might have wondered less had
they seen her then.
The girl did not seem to know what to say. Suddenly she was trembling
from head to foot.
Kate laid a hand upon the quivering arm. "I've frightened you," she said
regretfully and tenderly. "You need the tea, too. You'll come?"
The girl's eyes roved all around like the furtive eyes of a frightened
animal. But they came back to Katie's steadying gaze. "Why yes--I'll
come--if you want me to," she said in voice she was clearly making
supreme effort to steady.
"I do indeed," said Kate simply and led the way into the house.
And now that they were face to face across a tea-table Miss Jones was
bunkered again. How get out of the sand? She did not know. She did not
even know what club to use.
For never had she drunk tea under similar circumstances. Life had brought
her varied experiences, but sitting across the teacups from one whom she
had interrupted on the brink of suicide did not chance to be among them.
She was wholly without precedent, and it was trying for an army girl to
be stripped of precedent.
They were sitting at a window which overlooked the river; the river which
was flowing on so serenely, which was so blue and lazy and lovely that
May afternoon. She looked to the place where--then back to the girl
across from her--the girl who but for her--
"Is it coming back?" the girl asked.
"N--o; I think not; but I hope you will not go." Then, desperately
resolved to break through, she asked boldly: "Am I keeping you from
A strange gleam, compounded of things she did not understand, shot out at
her. To be followed with: "Important? Oh I don't know. That depends on
how you look at it. The only thing I have left to do is to kill myself.
I guess it won't take long."
Kate met it with a sharp, involuntary cry. For the sullen steadiness,
dispassionateness, detachment with which it was said made it more real
than it had been at the water's edge.
"But--but you see it's such a lovely day. You know--you know it's such a
beautiful place," was what the resourceful Miss Jones found herself
"Yes," agreed her companion, "pleasant weather, isn't it?" She looked at
Katie contemptuously. "You think _weather_ makes any difference? That's
like a girl like you!"
Katie laughed. Laughing seemed the only sand club she had just then. "I
_am_ a fool," she agreed. "I've often thought so myself. But like most
other fools I mean well, and this just didn't seem to me the sort of day
when it would occur to one to kill one's self. Now if it were terribly
hot, the kind of hot that takes your brains away, or so cold you were
freezing, or even if it were raining, not a decent rain, but that
insulting drizzle that makes you hate everything--why then, yes, I might
understand. But to kill one's self in the sunshine!"
As she was finishing she had a strange sensation. She saw that the girl
was looking at her compassionately. Katherine Wayneworth Jones was not
accustomed to being viewed with compassion.
"It would be foolish to try to make you understand," said the girl
simply, finality in her weariness. "It would be foolish to try to make a
girl like you understand that nothing can be so bad as sunshine."
Katie leaned across the table. This interested her. "Why I suppose that
might be true. I suppose--"
But the girl was not listening. She was leaning back in the great wicker
chair. She seemed actually to be relaxing, resting. That seemed strange
to Kate. How could she be resting in an hour which had just been tacked
on to her life? And then it came to her that perhaps it was a long time
since the girl had sat in a chair like that. If she had had a chance,
when things were going badly, to sit in such a chair and rest, might the
river have seemed a less desirable place? She had always supposed it was
_big_ things--queer, abstract, unknowable things like forces and traits
that made life and death. Did _chairs_ count?
As the girl's eyes closed, surrenderingly, Katie was glad that no matter
what she might decide to do about things she had had that hour in the
big, tenderly cushioned wicker chair. It might be a kinder memory to take
with her from life than anything she had known for a long time.
Katherine had grown very still, still both outwardly and inwardly. People
spoke of her enviously as having experienced so much; living in all parts
of the world, knowing people of all nations and kinds. But it seemed all
of that had been mere splashing around on the beach. She was out in the
big waves now.
She looked at the girl; looked with the eyes of one who would understand.
And what she saw was that some one, something, had, as it were, struck a
blow at the center, and the girl, the something that really _was_ her,
had gone to pieces. Everything was scattered. Even her features scarcely
seemed to belong to each other, so how must it not be with those other
things, inner things, oh, things one did not know what to call? Was it
because she could not get things together it seemed to her she must make
them all stop? Was that it? Did people lose the power to hold themselves
in the one that made you _you_?
What could do that? Something that reached the center; not many things
could; something, perhaps, that kept battering at it for a long time, and
just shook it at first, and then--
It was too dreadful to think of it that way. She tried to make
The girl's face was turned to the out-of-doors; to a great tree in
front of the window, a tree in which some robins had built their nests.
Such a tired face! So many tear marks, and so much less reachable than
A beautiful face, too. If all were back which the blow at the center had
struck away, if she had all of her--if lighted--it would be a rarely
The girl was like a flower; a flower, it seemed to Kate, which had not
been planted in the right place. The gardener had been unwise in his
selection of a place for this flower; perhaps he had not used the right
kind of soil, perhaps he had put it in the full heat of the sun when it
was a flower to have more shade; perhaps too much wind or too much
rain--Katie wondered just what the mistake had been. For the flower would
have been so lovely had the gardener not made those mistakes.
Even now, it was lovely: lovely with a saddening loveliness, for one saw
at a glance how easily a breeze too rough could beat it down. And one
knew there had been those breezes. Every petal drooped.
A strange desire entered the heart of Katherine: a desire to see whether
those petals could take their curves again, whether a color which
blunders had faded could come back to its own. She was like the new
gardener eager to see whether he can redeem the mistakes of the old. And
the new gardener's zeal is not all for the flower; some of it is to show
what he can do, and much of it the true gardener's passion for
experiment. Katie Jones would have made a good gardener.
And yet it was something less cold than the experimenting instinct
tightened her throat as she looked at the frail figure of the girl for
whom life had been too much.
"I must go now," she was saying, with what seemed mighty effort to summon
all of herself over which she could get command. "You are all right now.
I must go."
But she sank back in the chair, as if that one thing left at the center
pulled her back, crying out that if it could but have a little more
The girl in blue linen was sitting at the feet of the girl in pink
organdie. She had hold of her hand, so slim a hand. Everything about the
girl was slim, built for favoring breezes.
"I have one thing more to ask." It was Kate's voice was not well
controlled this time.
"You may call it a whim, a notion, foolish notion; call it what you like,
but I want you to stay here to-night."
The girl was looking down at her, down into the upturned face, all light
and strength and purpose as one standing apart and disinterested might
view a spectacle. Slowly, comprehendingly, dispassionately she shook her
head. "It would be--no use."
"Perhaps," Katie acquiesced. "Some of the very nicest things in life
are--no use. But I have something planned. May I tell you what it is I
want to do?"
Still she did not take her eyes from Katie's kindling face, looking at it
as at something a long way off and foreign.
"I am not a philanthropist, have no fears of that. But I have an idea, a
theory, that what seem small things are perhaps the only things in life
to help the big things. For instance, a hot bath. I can't think of any
sorrow in the world that a hot bath wouldn't help, just a little bit."
"Now we have such a beautiful bathroom. I loathe hot baths in tiny
bathrooms, where the air gets all steamy and you can't get your breath.
Perhaps one thing the matter with you is that all the bathrooms you've
been in lately were too small. Of course, you didn't _know_ that was one
thing the matter; like once at a dance I thought I was very sad about a
man's dancing so much with another girl, a new girl--don't you loathe
'new girls'?--but when I got home I found that one of my dress stays was
digging into me and when I got my dress off I didn't feel half so broken
up about the man."
An odd thing happened; one thing struck away came back. There was a light
in the eyes telling that something human and understanding, something to
link her to other things human, would like to come back. She looked and
listened as to something nearer.
Seeing it, Katie chattered on, against time, about nothing; foolish talk,
heartless talk, it might even seem, to be pouring out to a girl who felt
there was no place for her in life. But it was nonsense carried by
tenderness. Nonsense which made for kinship. It reached. Several times
the girl who thought she must kill herself was not far from a smile and
at last there was a tear on the long lashes.
"So I'm going to undress you," Katie unfolded her plan, encouraged by the
tear, "and then let's just see what hot water can do about it. And maybe
a little rub. I used to rub my mother's spine. She said life always
seemed worth living after I had done that." She patted the hand she held
ever so lightly as she said: "How happy I would be if I could make you
feel that way about it, too. Then I've a dear room to take you into, all
soft grays and greens, and oh, such a good bed! Why you know you're
tired! That's what's the matter with you, and you're just too tired to
know what's the matter."
The girl nodded, tears upon her cheeks, looking like a child that has
had a cruel time and needs to be comforted.
Katie's voice was lower, different, as she went on: "Then after I've
brushed your hair and done all those 'comfy' things I'm going to put you
in a certain, a very special gown I have. It was made by the nuns in a
convent in Southern France. As they worked upon it they sat in a garden
on a hillside. They thought serene thoughts, those nuns. You see I know
them, lived with them. I don't know, one has odd fancies sometimes, and
it always seemed to me that something of the peace of things there was
absorbed in that wonderful bit of linen. It seems far away from things
that hurt and harm. Almost as if it might draw back things that had
gone. I was going to keep it--" Katie's eyes deepened, there was a
little catch in her voice. "Well, I was just keeping it. But because you
are so tired--oh just because you need it so.--I want you to let me give
it to you."
And with a tender strength holding the sobbing girl Katie unfastened her
collar and began taking off her dress.
"Kate," demanded Captain Jones, "what's that noise?"
"How should I know?" airily queried Kate.
"I heard a noise in the room above. This chimney carries every sound."
"Nonsense," jeered his sister. "Wayne, you've lived alone so long that
you're getting spooky."
He turned to the other man. "Prescott, didn't you hear something?"
"Believe I did. It sounded like a cough."
"Well, what of it?" railed Kate. "Isn't poor Nora permitted to cough, if
she is disposed to cough? She's in there doing the room for me. I'm going
to try sleeping in there--isn't insomnia a fearful thing? But the
fussiness of men!"
They were in the library over their coffee. Kate was peculiarly charming
that night in one of the thin white gowns she wore so much, and which it
seemed so fitting she should wear. She had been her gayest. Prescott was
thinking he had never known any one who seemed to sparkle and bubble that
way; and so easily and naturally, as though it came from an inner fount
of perpetual action, and could more easily rise than be held down. And he
was wondering why a girl who had so many of the attributes of a boy
should be so much more fascinating than any mere girl. "There are two
kinds of girl," he had heard an older officer once say. "There are girls,
and then there is Katie Jones." He had condemned that as distinctly
maudlin at the time, but recalled it to-night with less condemnation.
"Katie," exclaimed Wayne, after his sister had read aloud some one's
engagement from the Army and Navy Register, and wondered vehemently how
those two people ever expected to live together, "Nora's out on the side
porch with Watts!"
"Do you disapprove of this affair between Nora and Watts?" Katie wanted
to know, critically inspecting the design on her coffee spoon.
"I distinctly disapprove of having some one coughing in the room upstairs
and not being satisfied who the some one is!"
She leaned forward, pointing her spoon at him earnestly. "Wayne, they say
there are some excellent nerve specialists in Chicago. I'd advise you to
take the night train. Take the rifle along, Wayne, and find out just what
it's done to you."
"That's all very well! But if you'd been reading the papers lately you'd
know that ideas of house-breaking are not necessarily neurasthenic."
"Dear Wayne, lover of maps and charts, let me take this pencil and make a
little sketch for you. _A_ is the chamber above. In that chamber is Nora.
Nora coughs in parting. Then she parts. _B_ is the back hall through
which Nora walks. _C_ is the back stairs which she treads. Watts being
waiting, she treads--or is it kinder to say trips?--with good blithe
speed. _D_ is the side door and _E_ the side porch. Now I ask you, oh
master of engineering and weird mechanical and mathematical mysteries,
what is to prevent Nora from getting from _A_ to _E_ in the interval of
time between the coughing and the viewing?"
Prescott laughed, but Wayne only grunted and ominously eyed the
"There!" he cried, triumphantly on his feet before his sister, as again
came the faint but unmistakable little cough. "A little harder to make a
map this time, isn't it? Talk about nerve specialists--!"
He started for the door, but Katie slipped in in front of him, and
"Don't go, Wayne," she said quietly; queerly, Prescott thought.
"Don't _go?_ Kate, what's the matter with you? Now don't be foolish,
Katie," he admonished with the maddening patronage of the older brother.
"Open the door."
"I wish you wouldn't go," she sighed plaintively, arms outstretched
against the door. "I do hope you won't insist on going. You'll
"Ann," she repeated demurely.
"Ann _who!_ Ann _what!_ That's a nice way to speak of my friends! It's
all very well to blow up the world, Wayne, but I think one should retain
some of the civilities of life!"
"But I don't understand," murmured poor Wayne.
"No, of course not. Do you understand anything except things that nobody
else wants to understand? Ann is not smokeless powder, so I presume you
are not interested in her, but it seems to me you might tax your brain
sufficiently to bear in mind that I told you she was coming!"
"I'm sorry," said Wayne humbly. "I don't seem able to recall a word
"I scarcely expected you would," was the withering response.
"Tell me about her," Captain Prescott asked sympathetically. "I like
girls better than guns. Has Ann another name? Do I know her?"
Katie was bending down inspecting a tear she had discovered at the bottom
of her dress. "Oh yes, why yes, certainly, Ann has another name. Her name
is Forrest. No, I think you do not know her. I don't know that Ann knows
many army people. I knew her in Europe." Then, as they seemed waiting for
more: "I am very fond of Ann."
She had resumed her seat and the critical examination of her coffee
spoon. The men were silent, respecting the moment of tender contemplation
of her fondness for Ann. "Ann is a dear girl," she volunteered at last.
"Having had it impressed upon me that I am such a duffer," Captain Jones
began, a little haughtily, "I naturally hesitate to make many inquiries,
but I cannot quite get it through my stupid and impossible head just why
'Ann' is hidden away in this mysterious manner."
"There's nothing mysterious about it," said Kate sharply. "Ann was
"And why, if I may venture still another blundering question, was poor
Nora held responsible for a cough she never coughed?"
Once more Miss Jones surveyed the torn ruffle at the bottom of her skirt.
She seemed to be giving it serious consideration.
"I am glad that I do not live in the Mississippi Valley," was the remark
she finally raised herself to make.
"One of Kate's greatest charms," Wayne informed Prescott, "is the
emphasis and assurance with which she unfailingly produces the
irrelevant. Now when you ask her if she likes Benedictine, don't be at
all surprised to have her dreamily murmur: 'But why should oranges always
"I am glad that I do not live in the Mississippi Valley," Kate went on,
superiorly ignoring the observation, "because the joy of living seems to
be at a very low ebb out here."
"Honestly now, do you get that?" he demanded of his friend.
"Ann and I had planned a beautiful surprise for you, Wayne."
"Thanks," said Wayne drily.
"To-night Ann was tired. She did not wish to come down to dinner. Of
course, I might have told you: 'Ann is here.' To the orderly,
West-Pointed mind, the well oiled, gun-constructing mind, I presume that
would present itself as the thing to do. But Ann and I have a sense of
the joy of living, a delight in the festive, in the--the bubbling wine of
youth, you know. So we said, 'How beautiful to surprise dear Wayne.' In
the morning Ann, refreshed by the long night's sleep, was to go out and
gather roses. Wayne--"
"The roses don't bloom until next month," brutally interrupted Wayne.
"Of course, you would think of that! As we had planned it, Wayne, looking
from his window was to see the beautiful girl--she is a beautiful
girl--gathering dew-laden roses in the garden. Perhaps Captain Prescott,
chancing at that very moment to look from his window, would see her too.
It was to be a beautiful, a never-to-be-forgotten moment for you both."
"We humbly apologize," laughed Prescott.
"Hum!" grunted dear Wayne.
She stepped out on the porch for a moment as Captain Prescott was saying
good-night. The moonlight was falling weirdly through the big trees,
stretching itself over the grass in shapes that seemed to spell unearthly
things. And there were mystical lights on the water down there, flitting
about with the movement of the stream as ghosts might flit. Because it
looked so other-world-like she wondered if it knew what it had just
missed. She had never thought anything about water save as something to
look beautiful and have a good time on. It seemed now that perhaps it
knew a great deal about things of which she knew nothing at all.
"Oh, I say, jolly night, isn't it?" he exclaimed as they stood at the
head of the steps.
"Yes," said Kate grimly, "pleasant weather, isn't it?" and laughed oddly.
"It's great about your friend coming; Miss--?"
"Forrest." She spoke it decisively.
"She arrived this afternoon?"
"Yes, unexpectedly. I was never more surprised in my life than when I
looked up and saw Ann standing there." Katie was not too impressed to
resist toying a little with the situation.
"Oh, is that so? I thought--" But he was too well-bred to press it.
"Of course," she hastened to patch together her thread, "of course, as I
told Wayne, I knew that Ann was coming. But I didn't really expect her
until day after to-morrow. You see, there have been complications."
"Oh, I see. Well, at any rate it's great that she's here. She will be
with you for the summer?"
"Ann's plans are a little uncertain," Kate informed him.
"I hope she'll not find it dull. Does she care for golf?"
"U--m, I--Ann has never played much, I believe. You see she has lived so
much in Europe--on the Continent--places where they don't play golf! And
then Ann is not very strong."
"Then this is just the place for her. Great place for loafing, you know.
I hope she is fond of the water?"
Kate was leaning against one of the pillars, still looking down toward
the river. It might have been the moonlight made her look so strange as
she said, with a smile of the same quality as those shadows on the grass:
"Why yes; in fact, Ann's fondness for the water was the first thing I
ever noticed about her. I think I might even say it was the water drew us
"Oh, well then, that is great. We can take the boat and do all sorts of
jolly things. Now I wonder--about a horse for her. She rides?"
"Perhaps you had better make no plans for Ann," she suddenly advised. "It
really would not surprise me at all if she went away to-morrow. There is
a great deal of uncertainty about the whole thing. In fact, Ann has had a
great deal of trouble."
"I'm sorry," he said with a simplicity she liked in him.
"Yes, a great deal of trouble. Last year both her father and mother died,
which was a great blow to her."
"And now there are all sorts of business things to straighten out. It's
really very hard for Ann."
"Perhaps we can help her," he suggested.
"Perhaps we can," agreed Kate. Her eyes left him to wander across the
shadows down to the river again. But she came back to him to say, and
this with the oddest smile of all, "Wouldn't it be a queer sensation for
us? That thing of really 'helping' some one?"
She could not go to sleep that night. For a long time she sat in her room
in the same big chair in which Ann had sat that afternoon. Poor Ann, who
had sat there before she knew she was Ann, who was sleeping now without
knowing she was Ann. For Ann was indeed sleeping. From her door as Kate
carefully opened it had come the deep breathing as of an exhausted child.
Who was Ann? Where had she come from? How did she get there? What had
happened? Why had she wanted to kill herself?
She wanted to know. In truth, she was madly curious to know. And
probably she never would know.
And what would happen now? It suddenly occurred to her that Wayne might
be rather annoyed at having Ann commit suicide. But there was a little
catch in her laugh at the thought of Wayne's consternation.
A long time she sat there wondering. Where _had_ Ann come from? She had
just seemed whirled out of the nowhere into the there, as an unannounced
comet in well-ordered heavens Ann had come. From what other world?--and
why? Did she belong to anybody? Another pleasant prospect for poor
Wayne! Was some one looking for Ann? Would there be things in the paper
Surely a girl could not step out of her life and leave no trail behind.
Things could not close up like that, even about Ann. Every one had a
place. Then how could one step from that place without leaving a
conspicuous looking vacancy?
Why had Ann been dressed that way? It seemed a strange costume in which
to kill one's self. It seemed to Katie that one would prefer to meet the
unknown in a smaller hat.
She went to the closet and took out the organdie dress and satin
slippers. From whence? and why thither? They opened long paths of
wondering. The dress was bedraggled about the bottom, as though trailed
through fields and over roads. And so strangely crumpled, and so strange
the scent--a scent hauntingly familiar, yet baffling in its relation to
gowns. A poorly made gown, Katie noted, but effective. She tried to read
the story, but could not read beyond the fact that there was a story. The
pink satin slippers had broken heels and were stained and soaked. They
had traveled ground never meant for them. Something about Ann made one
feel she was not the girl to be walking about in satin slippers.
Something had happened. She had been dressed for one thing and then had
done another thing. Could it be that ever since the night before she had
been out of her place in the scheme of things?--loosened from the great
human unit?--seeking destruction, perhaps, because she could not regain
her place therein? "Where have you been?" Katie murmured to the ruined
slippers. "What did it? What do you know? What did you want?"
Many a pair of just such slippers she had danced to the verge of
shabbiness. To her they were associated with hops, the gayest of music
and lightest of laughter, brilliant crowds in flower-scented rooms,
dancing and flirtation--the froth and bubble of life. But something
sterner than waxed floors had wrought the havoc here. How much of life's
ground all unknown to her had these poor little slippers trodden? Was it
often like that?--that the things created for the fun and the joy found
the paths of tragedy?
She had put them away and was at last going to bed when she idly picked
up the evening paper. What she saw was that the Daisey-Maisey Opera
Company was playing at the city across the river. Something made her
stand there very still. Could it be--? Might it not be--?
She did not know. Would she ever know?
It drew her back to the girl's room. She was sleeping serenely. With
shaded candle Katie stood at the door watching her. Surely the hour was
past! Sleep such as that must draw one back to life.
Lying there in the sweet dignity of her braided hair, in that simple
lovely gown, she might have been Ann indeed.
There was tenderness just then in the heart of Katherine Wayneworth
Jones. She was glad that this girl who was sleeping as though sleep had
been a treasure long withheld, was knowing to-night the balm of a good
bed, glad that she could sink so unquestioningly into the lap of
protection. Protection!--it was that which one had in a place like this.
Why was it given the Anns--and not the Vernas? The sleeping girl seemed
to feel that all was well in the house which sheltered her that night.
Suddenly Katie knew what it was had gone. Fear. It was terror had slipped
back, leaving the weariness which can give itself over to sleep. Katie
was thinking, striking deeper things than were wont to invade Katie's
meditations. The protection of a Wayne, the chivalrous comradeship of a
Captain Prescott--how different the life of an Ann from the life this
girl might have had! She stood at the door for a long moment, looking at
her with a searching tenderness. What had she been through? What was
there left for her?
Once, as a child, she had taken a turtle from its native mud and brought
it home. Soon after that they moved into an apartment and her father
said that she must give the turtle up. "But, father," she had cried, "you
don't understand! I took it! Now how can I throw it away?"
"You are right, Katherine," he had replied gravely--her dear, honorable,
understanding father; "it is rather inconvenient to have a turtle in an
apartment, but, as you say, responsibilities are greater than
She was thinking of that story as she finally went to bed.
"Nora," said Katie next morning, "Miss Forrest has had a great
Nora paused in her dusting, all ready with the emotion which Katie's
"She has lost all of her luggage!"
"The poor young lady!" cried good Nora.
"Yes, it is really terrible, isn't it? Everything lost; through the
carelessness of the railroads, you know. And such beautiful gowns as they
were. So--so unusual. Poor Miss Ann was forced to arrive in a dress most
unsuited to traveling, and is now quite--oh quite--destitute."
Nora held her head with both hands, speechless.
"Didn't you tell me, Nora, that your cousin's wife was very clever at
sewing--at fixing things over?"
"Yes, yes, Miss Kate--yes'm."
"I wonder, Nora, would she come and help us?"
"She would be that glad, Miss Kate. She--"
"You see, Miss Ann is not very well. She--poor Miss Ann, I hope you will
be very kind to her. She is an orphan, like you, Nora."
Nora wiped both eyes.
"And just now it would be too dreadful for her to have to see about a lot
of things. So I think, temporarily, we could arrange some of my things;
let them down a little, and perhaps take them in--Miss Ann is a little
taller and a little slimmer than I. Could you send for your cousin's wife
to help us, Nora?"
Profusely, o'erflowingly, Nora affirmed that this would be possible.
When Captain Jones came in from the shops for luncheon it was to find
his sister installed in the hall, one of those roomy halls adapted to
all purposes of living, some white and pink and blue things strewn
around her, doing something with a scissors. Just what she was doing
seemed to concern him very little, for he sat down at a table near her,
pulled out some blue prints, and began studying them. "Thank heaven for
the saving qualities of firearms," mused Katherine, industriously
letting out a tuck.
But luncheon seemed to suggest the social side of life, for after they
were seated he asked: "Oh yes, by the way, where's Miss--"
"Ann is still sleeping," replied Kate easily.
"She must be a good sleeper," ventured Wayne.
"Ann is tired, Wayne," she said with reproving dignity, "and as I have
already told you several times without seeming to reach through the
bullets on your brain, not well. She is here for a rest. She may not come
down for several days."
"Not what one would call a hilarious guest," he commented.
"No, less hilarious than Zelda Fraser." Katie spitefully mentioned a
former guest whom Wayne had particularly detested.
He laughed. "Well, who is she? What did you say her name was?"
"Oh Wayne," she sighed long-sufferingly, "again--once again--let me tell
you that her name is Forrest."
"'Um, I don't believe you know Ann's people."
"Not the Major Forrest family?"
"No, not that family; not army people at all."
"Well, what people? I can't seem to place her."
"Ann is of--artistic people. Her father was a great artist. That is, he
would have been a great artist had he not died when he was very young."
"Rather an assumption, isn't it, that a man would have--"
"Why not at all, if he has done enough during his brief lifetime to
warrant the assumption."
"Is her mother living?"
"Oh no," said Katie irritably, "certainly not. Her mother has been
dead--five years." Then, looking into the dreamy distance and drawing it
out as though she loved it: "Her mother was a great musician."
"I shan't like her," announced Wayne decisively; "she is probably exotic
and self-conscious and supercilious, and not at all a comfortable person
to have about. It's bad enough for her father to have been a great
artist--without her mother needs having been a great musician."
"She is simple and sweet and very shy," reproved Kate. "So shy that she
will doubtless be painfully embarrassed at meeting you, and seem--well,
really ill at ease."
"That will be an odd spectacle--a young woman of to-day 'painfully
embarrassed' at meeting a man. I never saw any of them very ill at ease,
save when there were no men about."
"Ann's experiences have not all been happy ones, Wayne," said Katie in
the manner of the deeply understanding to one of lesser comprehension.
"I hope she'll go on sleeping. A young woman of artistic
people--painfully embarrassed--unhappy experiences--it doesn't sound at
all comfortable to me."
But a little later he said: "Prescott seems to think that
Daisey-Maisey company not bad. If you girls would like to go we'll
telephone for seats."
Katie paused in the eating of a peach. "Thank you, Wayne, but I have
an idea--just a vague sort of idea--that Ann would not care especially
"She's probably right," said Wayne, returning with relief to the
Katie's sporting blood was up. Ann was to be Ann. Never in her life had
she been so fascinated with anything as with this creation of an Ann.
"I have prepared a place for her," she mused, over the untucking of
the softest of rose pink muslins. "I have prepared for her a family
and a temperament and a sorrow and all that a young woman could most
desire. From out the nothing a conscious something I have evoked. It
would be most ungracious--ungrateful--of Ann to refuse to be what I
made her. I invented her. By all laws of decency, she must be Ann.
Indeed, she _is_ Ann."
And Katie was truly beginning to think so. Katie's imagination coquetted
successfully with conviction.
Ann, or more accurately the idea of Ann, fascinated her. Never before
had she known any one all unencumbered, unbound, by facts. Most people
were rendered commonplace by the commonplace things one knew about them.
But Ann was as interesting as one's brain could make her. Anything one
choose to think--or say--about Ann could just as well as not be true. It
swept one all unchained out into a virgin land of fancy.
There was but one question. Could Ann keep within hailing distance of
one's imagination? Did Ann have it in her to live up to the things one
wished to believe about her? Was she capable of taking unto herself the
past and temperament with which one would graciously endow her? Katie's
sense of justice forced from her the admission that it was expecting a
good deal of Ann. She could see that nothing would be more bootless than
thrusting traditions upon people who would not know what to do with them.
But something about Ann encouraged one to believe she could fit into a
background prepared for her. And if she could--would--! The prospect
lured--excited. It was as inexplicably intoxicating as a grimace at the
preacher--a wink at the professor. It seemed to be saucily tweaking the
ear of that insufferably solemn Things-as-They-Are goddess.
There was in her eyes the light of battle when Nora finally came to tell
her that Miss Forrest was awake.
But it changed to another light at sight of the girl sitting up in bed so
bewilderedly, turning upon her eyes which seemed to say--"And what are
you going to do with me now?"
Fighting down the lump in her throat Katie seized briskly upon that
look of inquiry. "What she needs now," she decided, "is not tears, but
a high hand."
"Next thing on the program," she began, buoyantly raising the shades and
throwing the windows wide, "is air. You're a good patient, for you do as
you're told. It's been a fine sleep, hasn't it? And now I mean to get you
into some clothes and take you out for a drive."
The girl shrank down in the pillows, pulling the covers clear to her
chin, as if to shut herself in. She did not speak, but shook her head.
But Katie rode right over that look of pain and fear in her eyes,
refusing to emphasize it by recognition.
She left the room and returned after a moment with a white flannel suit
which she spread out on the bed. "This is not a bad looking suit, is it?
Your dress is scarcely warm enough for driving, so I want you to wear
this. I told Nora that your luggage was lost. It may be just as well for
you to know, from time to time, what I'm telling about you. I have an
idea this suit will be very becoming to you. It came from Paris. I
presume I'm rather foolish about things from Paris, but they always seem
to me to have brought a little life and gayety along. There's a dear
little white hat and stunning automobile veil goes with this suit. I can
scarcely wait to see how pretty you're going to look in it all."
For answer the girl turned to the wall, hid her face in the pillows,
Kate laid a hand upon her hair--soft, fine brown hair with tempting
little waves and gleams in it. There came to her a hideous vision of
how that hair might have looked by this time had she not--by the
It gave her a feeling of proprietary tenderness for the girl. It seemed
indeed that this life was in her hands--for was it not her hands had kept
it a life?
"Please," she murmured gently, persuasively, as the sobs grew wilder.
Suddenly the girl raised her head and turned upon Katie passionately.
"What do you mean? What is this all about? I know well enough that people
are not like this! This is not the way the world is!"
"Not like what?" Kate asked quietly.
"Doing things for people they don't have to do things for! Taking people
into their houses and giving them things--their best things!--treating
them as if there was some reason for treating them like that! I never
heard of such a thing. What are you doing it for?"
Katie sat there smiling at her calmly. "Do you want to know the
The girl nodded, looking at her with anticipatory defiance, but that
defiance which could so easily crumble to despair.
"Very well then," she began lightly, "here goes. I don't know
that it will sound very well, but it has the doubtful virtue of
being true. The first reason is that it interests me; perhaps I
should even say--amuses me. I always did like new things--queer
things--surprises--things different. And the other reason is that
I've taken a sure enough liking to you."
She had drawn back at the first reason; but the bluntness of the first
must have conveyed a sense of honesty in the second, for like the child
who has been told something nice, a smile was faintly suggested beneath
"Would you like to hear my favorite quotation from Scripture?" Kate
wanted to know.
At thought of Katie's having a favorite quotation the smile grew a little
"My favorite quotation is this: 'Take no thought for the morrow.' Perhaps
it ends in a way that spoils it; I would never read the rest of it,
fearing it would ruin itself, but taking just so much and no more--and it
certainly is your privilege to do that if you wish--if all of a thing is
good for you, part of it must be somewhat good--it does make the most
comfortable philosophy of life I know of. It's a great solace to me. Now
when I am seventy, I don't doubt I will have lost my teeth. Losing one's
teeth is such a distressing thing that I could sit here and weep bitterly
for mine were it not for the sustaining power of my favorite quotation.
Why don't you adopt it for your favorite, too? And, taking no thought for
the morrow, is there any reason in the world why you shouldn't go out now
and have a beautiful drive? Going for a drive doesn't commit one to any
philosophy of life, or line of action, does it? And whatever you do,
don't ever refuse nice things because you can't see the reason for
people's doing them. I shudder to think how much--or better, how little
fun I would have had in life had I first been compelled to satisfy myself
I was entitled to it. We're entitled to nothing--most of us; that's all
the more reason for taking all we can get. But come now! Here are some
fresh things--yours seem a bit dusty."
In such wise she rambled on as a bewildered but unresisting girl
surrendered herself to her wiles and hands.
When Katie returned from a call to the telephone it was to find Ann
rubbing her hand over a pretty ankle adorned with the most silky of
silken hose. "Likes them," Katie made of it, at sight of the down-turned
face; "always wanted them--maybe never had them. Moral--If you want
people to believe in you, give them something they don't need, but would
like to have."
She did her hair for her, chatting all the while about ways of doing
hair, exclaiming about the beauty of Ann's and planning things she was
going to do with it. "Were I as proud of all my works as I am of this, I
might be a more self-respecting person," she said, finally passing Ann
the hand mirror as if the girl's one concern in life was to see whether
she approved of the plaiting of those soft glossy braids.
And unmistakably she did approve. "It does look nice this way, doesn't
it?" she agreed, looking up at Katie with a shy eagerness.
When at last Ann had been made ready, when Katie had slipped on the long
loosely fitted white coat, had adjusted the big veil with just the right
touch of sophisticated carelessness, as she surveyed the work of her
hands her excitement could with difficulty contain itself. "She _is_
Ann," she gloated. "Her father _was_ a great artist. Her mother simply
couldn't _be_ anything but a great musician. And she's lived all her life
in--Italy, I think it is. Oh--I know! She's from Florence. Why she
couldn't be any place but from Florence--and she doesn't know anything
about bridge and scandal and pay and promotion--but she knows all
about dreaming dreams and seeing visions. She's lived a life
apart--aloof--looking at great pictures and hearing great music. Of
course, she's a little shy with us--she doesn't understand our roistering
ways--that's part of her being Ann."
But when she came back after getting her own things, Ann had gone. The
girl in white was still sitting there in the chair, but she was not at
all Ann. Things not from Florence, other things than dreams and
visions and great pictures and music had taken hold of her. Frightened
and disorganized again, she was huddled in the chair, and as Katie
stood in the doorway she said not a word, but shook her head, and the
eyes told all.
Katie bent over the chair. "It's all 'up to me,'" she said quietly.
"Don't you see that it is? You haven't a thing in the world to do but
follow my lead. Won't you trust me enough to know that you will not be
asked to do anything that would be too hard? Believe in me enough to feel
I will put through anything I begin? Isn't it rather--oh, unthrifty, to
let pasts and futures spoil presents? Some time soon we may want to talk
of the future, but just now there's only the present. And not a very
terrifying present. Nothing more fearful than winding in and out of the
wooded roads of this beautiful place--listening to birds and--but
come--" changing briskly to the practical and helping her rise as though
dismissing the question--"I hear our horse."
"I see Miss Jones has got some of her swell friends visitin' her," a
soldier who was cutting grass remarked to a comrade newer to the service.
"Great swell--they tell me Miss Jones is. They say she's it in Washington
all right--way ahead of some that outranks her. Got outside money--their
own money. Handy, ain't it?" he laughed. "Though it ain't just the money,
either. Her mother was--well, somebody big--don't just recollect the
name. Friendly, Miss Jones is. Not like some, afraid you're going to
forget your place the minute she has a civil word with you. That one with
her is some swell from Washington or New York. You can tell that by the
looks of her, all right. Lord, don't they have it easy though?"
It would indeed seem so. Men looking from the windows of the big
shops--those great shops where army supplies were manufactured--noticed
them with much the same thought, some of them admiringly, some
resentfully, as they chanced to feel about things. They drove past
building after building, buildings in which hundreds of men toiled on
preparations for a possible war. The throb of those engines, sight of the
perspiring faces, might suggest that rather large, a trifle extravagant,
a bit cumbersome, was the price for peace. But these girls did not seem
to be thinking of the possible war, or of the men who earned their bread
thwarting it by preparation. One would suppose them to be just two
beautifully cared for, careless-of-life girls, thinking of what some man
had said at the dance the night before, or of the texture of the plume on
some one's hat, or, to get down to the really serious issues of life,
whether or not they could afford that love of a dinner gown.
They left the main avenue and were winding in and out of the by-roads,
roads which had all the care of a great park and all the charm of the
deep woods. Here and there were soldiers doing nothing more warlike than
raking grass or repairing roads. It seemed far removed from the stress
and the struggle, place where the sense of protection but contributed to
the sense of freedom. There would come occasional glimpses of the river,
the beautiful homes and great factories of the busy, prosperous,
middle-western city opposite. To the other side was a town, too, a little
city of large enterprises; to either side seethed the questions of steel,
and all those attendant questions of mind and heart whose pressure grew
ever bigger and whose safety valves seemed tested to their uttermost. To
either side the savage battles of peace, and there in between--an
island--the peaceful preparations for war.
And in such places, sheltered, detached, yet offered all she would have
from without, had always lived Katie Jones, a favorite child of the
favored men whom precautions against war offered so serene a life;
surrounded by friends who were likewise removed from the battles of peace
to the peace of possible war, knowing the social struggle only as it
touched their own detached questions of pay and rank, pleasant and stupid
posts, hospitable and inhospitable commandants.
And into this had rushed a victim of the battles of peace! From the stony
paths of peace there to the well-kept roads of war!
The irony of it struck Katie anew: the incongruity of choosing so
well-regulated a place for the performance of so disorderly an act as the
taking of one's life. Choosing army headquarters as the place in which to
desert from the army of life! Such an infringement of discipline as
seeking self-destruction in that well-ordered spot where the machinery
of destruction was so peacefully accumulated!
She looked covertly at Ann; she could do it, for the girl seemed for the
most part unconscious of her. She was leaning back in the comfortably
rounded corner of the stanhope, her hands lax in her lap, her eyes often
closed--a tired child of peace drinking in the peace furnished by the
military, was Ann. It was plain that Ann was one who could drink things
in, could draw beauty to her as something which was of her, something,
too, it seemed, of which she had been long in need. Could it be that in
the big outside world into which these new wonderings were sent, world
which they seemed to penetrate but such a little way, there were many who
did not find their own? Might it not be that some of the most genuine
Florentines had never been to Florence?
And because all this was _of_ Ann, it was banishing the things it could
not assimilate. Those hurt looks, fretted looks, that hard look, already
Kate had come to know them, would come, but always to go as Ann would
swiftly raise her head to get the song of a bird, or yield her face to
the caress of a soft spring breeze. Katie was grateful to the benign
breezes, rich with the messages of opening buds, full, tender, restoring,
which could blow away hard memories and bitter visions. Yet those same
breezes had blown yesterday. Why could they not reach then? What was it
had closed the door and shut in those things that were killing Ann? What
were those things that had filled up and choked Ann's poor soul?
From a hundred different paths she kept approaching it, could not keep
away from it. One read of those things in the papers; they had always
seemed to concern a people apart, to be pitied, but not understood, much
less reached. Overwhelming that one who had wished to kill one's self
should be enjoying anything! That a door so tragically shut should open
to so simple a knock! Mere human voice reach that incomprehensible
outermost brink! Were they not people different, but just people like
one's self, who had simply fallen down in the struggle, and only needed
some one to help them up, give them a cool drink and chance for a
moment's rest? _Were_ the big and the little things so close? One's own
kind and the other kind just one kind, after all?
"I love winding roads," Katie was saying, after a long silence. "I
suppose the thing so alluring about them is that one can never be sure
just what is around the bend. When I was a little girl I used to pretend
it was fairies waiting around the next curve, and I have never--"
But she drew in her horse sharply, for the moment at a loss; for it was
not fairies, but Captain Prescott, riding smilingly toward them, very
handsome on his fine mount.
"It's--one of our officers," she said sharply. "I--I'll have to
"Oh please--_please_!" was the girl's panic-stricken whisper. "Let me get
out! I must! I can't!"
"You _can_. You must!" commanded Katie. And then she had just time for
just an imploring little: "For my sake."
He had halted beside them and Katie was saying, with her usual cool
gaiety: "You care for this day, too, do you? We're fairly steeped in it.
Ann,"--not with the courage to look squarely at her--"at this moment I
present your next-door neighbor. And a very good neighbor he is. We use
his telephone when our telephone is discouraged. We borrow his books and
bridles; we eat his bread and salt, drink his water and wine--especially
his wine--we impose on him in every way known to good neighboring. Yes,
to be sure, this is Miss Forrest of whom I told you last night."
As the Captain was looking at Ann and not seeming overpowered with
amazement, looking, on the other hand, as though seeing something rarely
good to look at, Katie had the courage to look too. And at what she saw
her heart swelled quite as the heart of the mother swells when the child
speaks his piece unstutteringly. Ann was _doing_ it!--rising to the
occasion--meeting the situation. Then she had other qualities no less
valuable than looking Florentine. That thing of _doing_ it was a thing
that had always commanded the affectionate admiration of Katie Jones.
It was not what Ann did so much as her effective manner of doing nothing.
One would not say she lacked assurance; one would put it the other
way--that she seemed shy. It seemed to Katie she looked for all the world
like a startled bird, and it also seemed that Captain Prescott
particularly admired startled birds.
He turned and rode a little way beside them, he and Katie assuming
conversational responsibilities. But Ann's smile warmed her aloofness,
and her very shyness seemed well adjusted to her fragility. "And just
fits in with what I told him!" gloated Kate. And though she said so
little, for some reason, perhaps because she looked so different, one got
the impression of her having said something unusual. She had a way of
listening which conveyed the impression she could say things worth
listening to--if she chose. One took her on faith.
He said to her at the last, with that direct boyish smile it seemed could
not frighten even a startled bird: "You think you are going to like it
here?" And Ann replied, slowly, a tremor in her voice, and a child's
earnestness and sweetness in it too: "I think it the most beautiful place
I ever saw in all my life."
At the simple enough words his face softened strangely. It was with
an odd gentleness he said he hoped they could all have some good
But, the moment conquered, things which it had called up swept in. The
whole of it seemed to rush in upon her.
She turned harshly upon Katie. "This is--ridiculous! I'm going away
"We will talk it over this evening," replied Kate quietly. "You will wait
for that, won't you? I have something to suggest. And in the end you will
be at liberty to do exactly as you think best. Certainly there can be no
question as to that."
On their way home they encountered the throng of men from the
shops--dirty, greasy, alien. It was not pleasant--meeting the men when
one was driving. And yet, though certainly distasteful, they interested
Katie, perhaps just because they were so different. She wondered how they
lived and what they talked about.
Chancing to look at Ann, she saw that stranger than the men was the look
with which Ann regarded them. She could not make it out. But one thing
she did see--the soft spring breezes had much yet to do.
Wayne had gone over to Colonel Leonard's for bridge. Kate was to have
gone too, but had pleaded fatigue. The plea was not wholly hollow. The
last thirty hours had not been restful ones.
And now she was to go upstairs and do something which she did not know
how to do, or why she was doing. Sitting there alone in the library she
grew serious in the thought that a game was something more than a game
when played with human beings.
Not that seriousness robbed her of the charm that was her own. The
distinctive thing about Katie was that there always seemed a certain
light about her, upon her, coming from her. Usually it was as iridescent
lights dancing upon the water; but to-night it was more as one light, a
more steady, deeper light. It made her gray eyes almost black; made her
clear-cut nose and chin seem more finely chiseled than they actually
were, and brought out both the strength and the tenderness of her not
very small mouth. Katie's friends, when pinned down to it, always
admitted with some little surprise that she was not pretty; they made
amends for that, however, in saying that she just missed being beautiful.
"But that's not what you think of when you see her," they would tell you.
"You think, 'What a good sort! She must be great fun!'" And there were
some few who would add: "Katie is the kind you would expect to find doing
splendid service in that last ditch."
Yet even those few were not familiar with the Katie Jones of that moment,
for it was a new Katie, less new when leaning forward, tense, puzzled,
hand clenched, brow knitted, her whole well-knit, athletic body at
attention than when leaning back--lax, open to new and awesome things.
And as though she must come back where she felt acquainted with herself,
she suddenly began to whistle. Katie found whistling a convenient and
pleasant recepticle for excess emotion. She had enjoyed it when a little
girl because she had been told it was unladylike; kept it up to find out
if it were really true that it would spoil her mouth, and now liked doing
it because she could do it so successfully.
She was still whistling herself back to familiar things as she ran
lightly up the stairs; had warmed to a long final trill as she stood in
the doorway. The girl looked up in amazement. She had been sitting there,
elbows on her knees, face in her hands. It was hard to see what might
have been seen in her face because at that moment the chief thing seen
was astonishment. Katie slipped down among the pillows of the couch, an
arm curled about her head. "Didn't know I could do that, did you?" she
laughed. "Oh yes, I have several accomplishments. Whistling is perhaps
the chiefest thereof. Then next I think would come golf. My game's not
bad. Then there are a few wizardy things I do with a chafing dish, and
lastly, and after all lastly should be firstly, is my genius for getting
everything and everybody into a most hopeless mess."
The girl moved impatiently at first, as if determined not to be evaded by
that light mood, but sight of Katie, lying there so much as a child would
lie, seemed to suggest how truly Katie might have spoken and she was
betrayed into the shadow of a smile.
"I suppose there has never been a human being as gifted in balling things
up as I am," meditatively boasted Kate.
"Now here you are," she continued plaintively. "You want to go away.
Well, of course, that's your affair. Why should you have to stay here--if
you don't want to? But in the twenty-four hours you've been here I
presume I've told twenty-four unnecessary lies to my brother. And if you
do go away--as I admit you have a perfect right to do--it will put me in
such a compromising position, because of those deathless lies that will
trail me round through life that--oh, well," she concluded petulantly,
"I suppose I'll just have to go away too."
But the girl put it resolutely from her. A wave of sternness swept her
face as she said, with a certain dignity that made Katie draw herself to
a position more adapted to the contemplation of serious things: "That's
all very well. Your pretending--trying to pretend--that I would be doing
you a favor in staying. It is so--so clever. I mean so cleverly kind. But
I can't help seeing through it, and I'm not going to accept hospitality
I've no right to--stay here under false pretenses--pretend to be what I'm
not--why what I couldn't even pretend to be!" she concluded with
Katie was leaning forward, all keen interest. "But do you know, I think
you could. I honestly believe we could put it through! And don't you see
that it would be the most fascinating--altogether jolliest sort of thing
for us to try? It would be a game--a lark--the very best kind of sport!"
She saw in an instant that she had wounded her. "I'm sorry; I would like
very much to do something for you after all this. But I am afraid this is
sport I cannot furnish you. I am not--I'm not feeling just like--a lark."
"Now do you _see_?" Kate demanded with turbulent gesture. "Talk about
balling things _up_! I like you; I want you to stay; and when I come in
here and try and induce you to stay what do I do but muddle things so
that you'll probably walk right out of the house! Why was I born like
that?" she demanded in righteous resentment.
"'Katherine,' a worldly-wise aunt of mine said to me once, 'you have two
grave faults. One is telling the truth. The other is telling lies. I have
never known you to fail in telling the one when it was a time to tell the
other.' Can't you see what a curse it is to mix times that way?"
As one too tired to resist the tide, not accepting, but going with it for
the minute because the tide was kindly and the force to withstand it
small, the girl, her arm upon the table, her head leaning wearily upon
her hand, sat there looking at Katie, that combination of the
non-accepting and the unresisting which weariness can breed.
Kate seemed in profound thought. "Of course, you would naturally be
suspicious of me," she broke in as if merely continuing the thinking
aloud; Katie's fashion of doing that often made commonplace things seem
very intimate--a statement to which considerable masculine testimony
could be affixed. "I don't blame you in the least. I'd be suspicious,
too, in your place. It's not unnatural that, not knowing me well, you
should think I had some designs about 'doing good,' or helping you, and
of course nothing makes self-respecting persons so furious as the thought
that some one may be trying to do them good. Now if I could only prove to
you, as could be proved, that I never did any good in my life, then
perhaps you'd have more belief in me, or less suspicion of me. I wonder
if you would do this? Could you bring yourself to stay just long enough
to see that I am not trying to do you good? Fancy how I should feel to
have you go away looking upon me as an officious philanthropist! Isn't it
only square to give me a chance to demonstrate the honor of my
Still the girl just drifted, her eyes now revealing a certain
half-amused, half-affectionate tenderness for the tide which would bear
her so craftily.
"And speaking of honor, moves me to my usual truth-telling blunder, and I
can't resist telling you that in one respect I really have designs on
you. But be at peace--it has nothing to do with your soul. Never having
so much as discovered my own soul, I should scarcely presume to undertake
the management of yours, but what I do want to do is to feed you eggs!
"No--now don't take it that way. You're thinking of eggs one orders at a
hotel, or--or a boarding-house, maybe. But did you ever eat the eggs
that were triumphantly announced by the darlingest bantam--?"
She paused--beaten back by the things gathering in the girl's face.
"Tell me the truth!" it broke. "What are you doing this for? What have
you to _gain_ by it?"
"I hadn't thought just what I had to--gain by it," Katie stammered, at a
loss before so fierce an intensity. "Does--must one always 'gain'
"If you knew the world," the girl threw out at her, "you'd know well
enough one always expects to gain something! But you don't know the
Katie was humbly silent. She had thought she knew the world. She had
lived in the Philippines and Japan and all over Europe and America. She
would have said that the difference between her and this other girl was
in just that thing of her knowing the world--being of it. But there
seemed nothing to say when Ann told her so emphatically that she did not
know the world.
The girl seemed on fire. "No, of course not; you don't know the
world--you don't know life--that's why you don't know what an unheard-of
thing you're doing! What do you know about _me_?" she thrust at her
fiercely. "What do you _think_ about me?"
"I think you have had a hard time," Katie murmured, thinking to herself
that one must have had hard time--
"And what's that to you? Why's that your affair?"
"It's not exactly my affair, to be sure," Katie admitted; "except that we
seem to have been--thrown together, and, as I said, there's something
about you that I've--taken a fancy to."
It drew her, but she beat it back. Resistance made her face the more
stern as she went on: "Do you think I'm going to impose on you--just
because you know so little? Why with all your cleverness, you're just a
baby--when it comes to life! Shall I tell you what life is like?" Her
gaze narrowed and grew hard. "Life is everybody fighting for
something--and knocking down everybody in their way. Life is people who
are strong kicking people who are weak out of their road--then going on
with a laugh--a laugh loud enough to drown the groans. Life is lying and
scheming to get what you want. Life is not caring--giving up--getting
hardened--I know it. I _loathe_ it."
Katie sat there quite still. She was frightened.
"And you! Here in a place like this--what do you know about it? Why
you're nothing but an--outsider!"
An outsider, was she?--and she had thought that Ann--
The girl's passion seemed suddenly to flow into one long, cunning look.
"What are you doing it for?" she asked quietly with a sort of insolently
"I don't know," Katie replied simply. "At least until a minute ago I
didn't know, and now I wonder if perhaps, without knowing it, I was not
trying to make up for some of those people--for I fear some of them were
friends of mine--who have gone ahead by kicking other people out of their
way. Perhaps their kicks provided my laughs. Perhaps, unconsciously,
Passion had burned to helplessness, the appealing helplessness of the
weary child. She sat there, hands loosely clasped in her lap, looking at
Katie with great solemn eyes, tired wistful mouth. And it seemed to Kate
that she was looking, not at her, but at life, that life which had cast
her out, looking, not with rage now, but with a hurt reproachfulness in
which there was a heartbreaking longing.
It drew Katie over to the table. She stretched her hand out across it, as
if seeking to bridge something, and spoke with an earnest dignity. "You
say I'm an outsider. Then won't you take me in? I don't want to be an
outsider. You mustn't think too badly of me for it because you see I have
just stayed where I was put. But I want to know life. I love it now, and
yet, easy and pleasant though it is, I can't say that I find it very
satisfying. I have more than once felt it was cheating me. I'm not
getting enough--just because I don't know. Loving a thing because you
don't know it isn't a very high way of loving it, is it? I believe I
could know it and still love it--love it, indeed, the more truly. No, you
don't think so; but I want to try." She paused, thinking; then saw it and
spoke it strongly. "I've never done anything real. I've never done
anything that counted. That's why I'm an outsider. If making a place for
you here is going to make one for me there--on the inside, I mean--you're
not going to refuse to take me in, are you?"
Something seemed to leap up in the girl's eyes, but to crouch back,
afraid. "What do you know about me?" she whispered.
"Not much. Only that you've met things I never had to meet, met them much
better, doubtless, than I should have met them. Only that you've fought
in the real, while I've flitted around here on the playground." Katie's
eyes contracted to keenness. "And I wonder if there isn't more dignity in
fighting--yes, and losing--in the real, than just sitting around where
you get nothing more unpleasant than the faint roar of the guns. To lose
fighting--or not to fight! Why certainly there can be no question about
it. What do I know about you?" she came back to it.
"Only that you seemed just shot into my life, strangely disturbing it,
ruffling it so queerly. It's too ruffled now to settle down without--more
ruffling. So you're not going away leaving it in any such distressing
state, are you?" she concluded with a smile which lighted her face with a
She made a last stand. "But you don't know. You don't understand."
"No, I don't know. And don't think I ever need know, as a matter of
obligation. But should there ever come a time when you feel I would
understand, understand enough to help, then I should be glad and proud to
know, for it would make me feel I was no longer an outsider. And let me
tell you something. In whatever school you learned about life, there's
one thing they taught you wrong. They've developed you too much in
suspicion. They didn't give you a big enough course in trust. All the
people in this world aren't designing and cruel. Why the old globe is
just covered with beautiful people who are made happy in doing things for
the people about them."
"I haven't met them," were the words which came from the sob.
"I see you haven't; that's why I want you to. Your education has been
one-sided. So has mine. Perhaps we can strike a balance. What would you
think of our trying to do that?"
The wonder of it seemed stealing up upon the girl, growing upon her. "You
mean," she asked, in slow, hushed voice, "that I should stay
here--here?--as a friend of yours?"
"Stay here as a friend--and become a friend," came the answer,
quick and true.
So true that it went straight to the girl's heart. Tears came, different
tears, tears which were melting something. And yet, once again she
whispered: "But I don't understand."
"Try to understand. Stay here with me and learn to laugh and be foolish,
that'll help you understand. And if you're ever in the least oppressed
with a sense of obligation--horrid thing, isn't it?--just put it down
with, 'But she likes it. It's fun for her.' For really now, Ann, I hope
this is not going to hurt you, but I simply can't help getting fun out of
things. I get fun out of everything. It's my great failing. Not a
particularly unkind sort of fun, though. I don't believe you'll mind it
as you get used to it. My friends all seem to accept the fact that
I--enjoy them. And then my curiosity. Well, like the eggs. It's not
entirely to make you stronger. It's to see whether the things I've always
heard about milk and eggs are really so. See how it works--not altogether
for the good of the works, you see? Oh, I don't know. Motives are
slippery things, don't you think so? Mine seem particularly athletic.
They hop from their pigeon holes and turn hand-springs and do all sorts
of stunts the minute I turn my back. So I never know for sure why I want
to do a thing. For that matter, I don't know why I named you Ann. I had
to give you a name--I thought you might prefer my not using yours--so all
in a flash I had to make one up--and Ann was what came. I love that name.
It never would have come if something in you hadn't called it. The Ann in
you has had a hard time." She was speaking uncertainly, timidly, as if on
ground where words had broken no paths. "Oh, I'm not so much the outsider
I can't see that. But the Ann in you has never died. That I see, too.
Maybe it was to save Ann you were going to--give up Verna. And because I
see Ann--like her--because I called her back, won't you let her stay
here and--" Katie's voice broke, so to offset that she cocked her head
and made a wry little face as she concluded, not succeeding in concealing
the deep tenderness in her eyes, "just try--the eggs?"
Katie was writing to her uncle the Bishop. At least that was what she
would have said she was doing. To be literal, she was nibbling at the end
of her pen.
Writing to her uncle had never been a solemn affair with Kate. She
gossiped and jested with him quite as she would with a playfellow; it was
playfellow, rather than spiritual adviser, he had always been to her,
Kate's need seeming rather more for playfellows than for spiritual
advisers. But the trouble that morning was that the things of which she
was wont to gossip and jest seemed remote and uninteresting things.
Finally she wrote: "My friend Ann Forrest is with us now. I am hoping to
be able to keep her for some time. Poor dear, she has not been well and
has had much sorrow--such a story!--and I think the peace of things
here--peace you know, uncle, being poetic rendition of stupidity--is just
what Ann needs."
A robin on a lilac bush entered passionate protest against the word
stupidity. "What will you have? What will you _have_?" trilled the robin
in joyous frenzy.
Wise robin! After all, what would one have? And when within the world
of May that robins love one was finding a whole undiscovered country
"No, I don't mean that about stupidity," she wrote after a wide look and
a deep breath. "It does seem peace. Peace that makes some other things
seem stupidity. I must be tired, for you will be saying, dear uncle, that
a yearning for peace has never been one of the most conspicuous of my
There she fell to nibbling again, looking over at the girl in the deep
garden chair in the choice corner of the big porch. "My friend Ann
Forrest!" Katie murmured, smiling strangely.
Her friend Ann Forrest was turning the leaves of a book, "Days in
Florence," which Kate had left carelessly upon the arm of the chair she
commended to Ann. It was after watching her covertly for sometime that
Katie set down, a little elf dancing in her eye, yet something of the
seer in that very eye in which the elf danced:
"Of course you have heard me tell of Ann, the girl to whom I was so
devoted in Italy. I should think, uncle, that you of the cloth would find
Ann a most interesting subject. Not that she's of your flock. Her mother
was a passionate Catholic. Her father a relentless atheist. He wrote a
famous attack on the church which Ann tells me hastened her mother's
death. The conflict shows curiously in Ann. When we were together in
Florence a restlessness would many times come upon her. She would say,
'You go on home, Katie, without me. I have things to attend to.' I came
to know what it meant. Once I followed her and saw her go to the church
and literally fling herself into its arms in a passion of surrender. And
that night she sat up until daybreak reading her father's books. You see
what I mean? A wealth of feeling--but always pulled two ways. It has left
its mark upon her."
She read it over, gloated over it, and destroyed it. "Uncle would be
coming on the next train," she saw. "He'd hold Ann up for a copy of the
attack! And why this mad passion of mine for destruction? Should a man
walking on a tight-rope yield to every playful little desire to chase
But as she looked again--Ann was deep in the illustrations of "Days in
Florence" and could be surveyed with impunity--she wondered if she might
not have written better than she knew. Her choice of facts doubtless was
preposterous enough; what had been the conflicting elements--her fancy
might wander far afield in finding that. But she was sure she saw truly
in seeing marks of conflict. Life had pulled her now this way, now that,
as if playing some sort of cruel game with her. And that game had left
her very tired. Tired as some lovely creature of the woods is tired after
pursuit, and fearful with that fear of the hunted from which safety
cannot rescue. It was in Ann's eyes--that looking out from shadowy
retreat, that pain of pain remembered, that fear which fear has left.
Katie had seen it once in the eyes of an exhausted fawn, who, fleeing
from the searchers for the stag, had come full upon the waiting hunt--in
face of the frantic hounds in leash. The terror in those eyes that
should have been so soft and gentle, the sick certitude of doom where
there should have been the glad joy of life struck the death blow to
Katie's ambitions to become the mighty huntress. She had never joined
another hunt or wished to hear another story of the hunt, saying she
flattered herself she could be resourceful enough to gain her pleasures
in some other way than crazing gentle creatures with terror. Ann made her
think of that quivering fawn, suggesting, as the fawn had suggested, what
life might have been in a woods uninvaded. She had a vision of Ann as the
creature of pure delight she had been fashioned to be, loving life and
not knowing fear.
From which musings she broke off with a hearty: "Good drive!" and Ann
looked up inquiringly.
She pointed to the teeing ground some men were just leaving--caddies
straggling on behind, two girls driving in a runabout along the river
road calling gaily over to the men. It all seemed sunny and unfettered as
"I'll wager he feels good," she laughed. "I know no more exhilarating
feeling than that thing of having just made a good drive. It makes life
seem at your feet. You must play, Ann. I'm going to teach you."
"Do all those people belong here?" Ann asked, still looking at the girls
who were calling laughingly back and forth to the men.
"On the Island? Oh, no; they belong over there." She nodded to the city
which rose upon the hills across the river. "But they use these links."
"Don't they--don't they have to--work?" Ann asked timidly.
"Oh, yes," laughed Katie; "I fancy most of them work some. Though what's
the good working a morning like this? I think they're very wise. But look
now at the Hope of the Future! He's certainly working."
The Hope of the Future was ascending the steps, heavily burdened. So
heavily was he burdened that for the moment ascent looked impossible.
Each arm was filled with a shapeless bundle of white and yellow fur which
closer inspection revealed as the collie pups.
With each step the hind legs of a wriggling puppy slipped a little
farther through Worth's arms. When finally he stood before them only a
big puppy head was visible underneath each shoulder. Approaching Ann,
then backing around, he let one squirming pair of legs rest on her lap,
freed his arm, and Ann had the puppy. "You can play with him a little
while," he remarked graciously.
"Worth," said Katie, "it is unto my friend Miss Forrest, known in the
intimacies of the household as Miss Ann, that you have just made this
Worth took firm hold on his remaining puppy and stood there surveying
Ann. "I came last night," he volunteered, after what seemed satisfactory
Ann just smiled at him, rumpling the puppy's soft woolly coat.
"How long you been here?" he asked cordially.
"Just two days," she told him.
"I'm going to stay all summer," he announced, hoisting his puppy a
"That's nice," said Ann; her puppy was climbing too.
"How long you goin' to stay?" he wanted to know.
"Miss Ann is going to stay just as long as we are real nice to her,
Worthie," said Katie, looking up from the magazine she was cutting.
"She can play with the puppies every morning, Aunt Kate," he cried in a
fervent burst of hospitality.
"You got a dog at home?" he asked of Ann.
At the silence, Katie looked up. The puppy was now cuddled upon Ann's
breast, her two arms about it. As she shook her head her chin brushed the
soft puppy fur--then buried itself in it. Her eyes deepened.
"It must be just the dreadfulest thing there is not to have a dog,"
There was no response. The puppy's head was on Ann's shoulder. He was
ambitious to mount to her face.
"Didn't you _never_ have a dog?" Worth asked, drawling it out tragically.
The head nodded yes, but the eyes did not grow any more glad at thought
of once having had a dog.
Worth took a step nearer and lay an awed hand upon her arm. "Did
She nodded. Her face had grown less sorrowful than hard. It was the look
of that first day.
Worth shook his head slowly to express deep melancholy. "It's awful--to
have 'em die. Mine died once. I cried and cried and cried. Then papa got
me a bigger one."
He waited for confidences which did not come. Ann was holding the
"Didn't your papa get you 'nother one?" he asked, as one searching
for the best.
"Worth dear," called Katie, "let's talk about the live puppies. There
are so many live puppies in the world. And just see how the puppy loves
"And Miss Ann loves the puppy. Mustn't squeeze him too tight," he
admonished. "Watts says it's bad for 'em to squeeze 'em. Watts knows just
everything 'bout puppies. He knows when they have got to eat and when
they have got to sleep, and when they ought to have a bath. Do you
suppose, Aunt Kate, we'll ever know as much as Watts?"
"Probably not. Don't hitch your wagon to too far a star, Worthie. No use
smashing the wagon."
Suddenly Ann had squeezed her puppy very tight. "O--h," cried Worth,
"_you mustn't_! I like to do it, too, but Watts says it squeezes the
grows out of 'em. It's hard not to squeeze 'em though, ain't it?" he
concluded with tolerance.
Again Katie looked up. The girl, holding the puppy close, was looking at
the little boy. Something long beaten back seemed rushing on; and in her
eyes was the consciousness of its having been long beaten back.
Something of which did not escape the astute Wayne the Worthy. "Aunt
Kate," he called excitedly, "Aunt Kate--Miss Ann's eyes go such a long
"Worth, I'm not at all sure that it is the best of form for a grown-up
young gentleman of six summers to be audibly estimating the fathomless
depths of a young woman's eyes. Note well the word audibly, Worthie."
"They go farther down than yours, Aunt Kate."
"'Um--yes; another remark better left with the inaudible."
"It looks--it looks as if there was such a lot of cries in them!
o--h--one's coming now!"
"Worth," she called sharply, "come here. You mustn't talk to Miss Ann
about cries, dear. When you talk about cries it brings the cries, and
when you talk about laughs the laughs come, and Miss Ann is so pretty
when she laughs."
"Miss Ann is pretty all the time," announced gallant Worth. "She has a
mouth like--a mouth like--She has a mouth like--"
"Yes dear, I understand. When they say 'She has a mouth like--a mouth
like--' I know just what kind of mouth they mean."
"But how do you know, Aunt Kate? I didn't say what kind, did I?"
"No; but as years and wisdom and guile descend upon you, you will learn
that sometimes the surest way of making one's self clear is not to say
what one means."
"But I don't see--"
"No, one doesn't--at six. Wait till you've added twenty thereto."
"How old is Miss Ann?"
"Worth, when this twenty I'm talking about has been added on, you will
know that never, never, _never_ must one speak or think or dream of a
"Oh, because it brings the cries--lots of times."
He had seated himself on the floor. The puppy was in spasms of excitement
over the discovery of a considerable expanse of bare legs.
"Are they sorry they're not as old as somebody else?" he asked, trying to
get his legs out of the puppy's lurching reach.
"No, they're usually able to endure the grief brought them by that
"Oh--_yes_?" It was a good story.
"Would Miss Ann be sorry she's not as old as you?"
"Hateful, ungrateful little wretch!"
"I am all attention, Wayneworth," she said, with inflection which should
not have been wasted on ears too young.
"Do you know, Aunt Kate, sometimes I don't know just what you're
"No? Really? And this from your sex to mine!"
"Do you always say what you mean, Aunt Kate?"
"Somebody might find out what I thought."
"Don't you want them to know what you think, Aunt Kate?" he pursued,
making a complete revolution and for the instant evading the
"But why not, Aunt Kate?"--squirming as the puppy placed a long warm lick
right below the knee.
"Oh, I don't know." The story was getting better. Then, looking up with
Kate's queer smile: "It might hurt their feelings."
"Why would it--?"
"Oh, Wayneworth Jones! Why were you born with your brain cells screwed
into question marks?--and _why_ do I have to go through life getting them
She actually read a paragraph; and as there she had to turn a page she
looked over at Ann. Ann's puppy had joined Worth's on the floor and
together they were indulging in bites of puppyish delight at the little
boy's legs, at each other's tails, at so much of the earth's atmosphere
as came within range of their newly created jaws craving the exercise of
their function. Mad with the joy of living were those two collie pups on
that essentially live and joyous morning.
And Ann, if not mad with the joy of living, seemed sensible of the wonder
of it. "Days in Florence" open on her lap, hands loose upon it, she was
looking off at the river. From hard thoughts of other days Kate could
see her drawn to that day--its softness and sunshine, its breath of the
river and breath of the trees. Folded in the arms of that day was Ann
just then. The breeze stirred a little wisp of hair on her temple--gently
swayed the knot of ribbon at her throat. The spring was wooing Ann; her
face softened as she listened. Was it something of that same force which
bounded boisterously up in boy and dogs which was stealing over
Ann--softening, healing, claiming?
The next paragraph of the story on the printed page was less interesting.
"Aunt Kate," said Worth, gathering both puppies into his arms as they
were succeeding all too well in demonstrating that they were going to
grow up and be real dogs, "Watts says it is the ungodliest thing he knows
of that these puppies haven't got any names."
"I am glad to learn," murmured Kate, "that Watts is a true son of the
church. He yearns for a christening?"
"He says that being as nobody else has thought up names for them, he
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