Tish, The Chronicle of Her Escapades and Excursions
Mary Roberts Rinehart
Part 2 out of 6
without any baking-powder or flavoring, and the tops were
sprinkled thick with granulated sugar. Little circles of grease
melted out of them on to the plate, and Tufik, wide-eyed with
triumph, sweetly wistful over Tish's tooth, humble and joyous in
one minute, stood by the cake plate and fed them to us!
I caught Aggie's agonized eye, but there was nothing else to do.
Were we not his friends? And had he not made this delicacy for
us? On her third cake, however, Aggie luckily turned blue round
the mouth and had to go and lie down. This broke up the meal and
probably saved my life, though my stomach has never been the
same since. Tish says the cakes are probably all right in the
Orient, where it is hot and the grease does not get a chance to
solidify. She thinks that Tufik is probably a good cook in his
own country. But Aggie says that a good many things in the Bible
that she never understood are made plain to her if that is what
they ate in Biblical times--some of the things they saw in
visions, and all that. She dropped asleep on Tish's lounge and
distinctly saw Tufik murdering Hannah by forcing one of his
cakes down her throat.
The next month was one of real effort. We had planned to go to
Panama, and had our passage engaged; but when we broke the news
to Tufik he turned quite pale.
"You go--away?" he said wistfully.
"Only for a month," Tish hastened to apologize. "You see, we--we
are all very tired, and the Panama Canal--"
"Canal? I know not a canal."
"It is for ships--"
"You go there in a ship?"
"Yes. A canal is a--"
"You go far--in a ship--and I--I stay here?"
"Only for a month," Aggie broke in. "We will leave you enough
money to live on; and perhaps when we come back you will have
found something to do--"
"For a month," he said brokenly. "I have no friends, no Miss
Tish, no Miss Liz, no Miss Pilk. I die!"
He got up and walked to the window. It was Aggie who realized
the awful truth. The poor lonely boy was weeping--and Charlie
Sands may say what he likes! He was really crying--when he
turned, there were large tears on his cheeks. What made it worse
was that he was trying to smile.
"I wish you much happiness on the canal," he said. "I am wicked;
but my sad heart--it ache that my friends leave me. I am sad! If
only my seester--"
That was the first we had known of Tufik's sister, back in
Beirut, wearing a veil over her face and making lace for the
bazaars. We were to know move.
Well, between getting ready to go to Panama and trying to find
something Tufik could do, we were very busy for the next month.
Tufik grew reconciled to our going, but he was never cheerful
about it; and finding that it pained him we never spoke about it
in his presence.
He was with us a great deal. In the morning he would go to Tish,
who would give him a list of her friends to see. Then Tish would
telephone and make appointments for him, and he would start off
hopefully, with his pasteboard suitcase. But he never sold
anything--except a shirt-waist pattern to Mrs. Ostermaier, the
minister's wife. We took day about giving him his carfare, but
this was pauperizing and we knew it. Besides, he was very
sensitive and insisted on putting down everything we gave him in
a book, to be repaid later when he had made a success.
The allowance idea was mine and it worked well. We figured that,
allowing for his washing,--which was not much, as he seemed to
prefer the celluloid collar,--he could live in a sort of way on
nine dollars a week. We subscribed equally to this; and to save
his pride we mailed it to him weekly by check.
His failure to sell his things hurt him to the soul. More than
once we caught tears in his eyes. And he was not well--he could
not walk any distance at all and he coughed. At last Tish got
Charlie Sands to take him to a lung specialist, a stupid person,
who said it was a cigarette cough. This was absurd, as Tufik did
At last the time came for the Panama trip. Tish called me up the
day she packed and asked me to come over.
"I can't. I'm busy, Tish," I said.
She was quite disagreeable. "This is your burden as well as
mine," she snapped. "Come over and talk to that wretched boy
while I pack my trunk. He stands and watches everything I put in,
and I haven't been able to pack a lot of things I need."
I went over that afternoon and found Tufik huddled on the top
step of the stairs outside Tish's apartment, with his head in his
"She has put me out!" he said, looking up at me with tragic eyes.
"My mother has put me out! She does not love Tufik! No one loves
Tufik! I am no good. I am a dirty dago!"
I was really shocked. I rang the bell and Tish let me in. She had
had no maid since Hannah's departure and was taking her meals
out. She saw Tufik and stiffened.
"I thought I sent you away!" she said, glaring at him.
He looked at her pitifully.
"Where must I--go?" he asked, and coughed.
Tish sighed and flung the door wide open. "Bring him in," she
said with resignation, "but for Heaven's sake lock him in a
closet until I get my underwear packed. And if he weeps--slap
The poor boy was very repentant, and seeing that his cough
worried us he fought it back bravely. I mixed the white of an
egg with lemon juice and sugar, and gave it to him. He was
pathetically grateful and kissed my hand. At five o'clock we
sent him away firmly, having given him thirty-six dollars. He
presented each of us with a roll of crocheted lace to take with
us and turned in the doorway to wave a wistful final good-bye.
We met at Tish's that night so that we might all go together to
the train. Charlie Sands had agreed to see us off and to keep an
eye on Tufik during our absence. Aggie was in a palpitating
travel ecstasy, clutching a patent seasick remedy and a map of
the Canal Zone; Tish was seeing that the janitor shut off the
gas and water in the apartment; and Charlie Sands was jumping on
top of a steamer trunk to close it. The taxicab was at the door
and we had just time to make the night train. The steamer sailed
early the next morning.
"All ready!" cried Charlie Sands, getting the lid down finally.
"All off for the Big Ditch!"
We all heard a noise in the hall--a sort of scuffling, with an
occasional groan. Tish rushed over and threw open the door. On
the top step, huddled and shivering, with streams of water
running off his hair down over his celluloid collar, pouring out
of his sleeves and cascading down the stairs from his trousers
legs, was Tufik. The policeman on the beat was prodding at him
with his foot, trying to make him get up. When he saw us the
officer touched his hat.
"Evening, Miss Tish," he said, grinning. "This here boy of yours
has been committing suicide. Just fished him out of the lake in
"Get up!" snapped Charlie Sands. "You infernal young idiot! Get
up and stop sniveling!"
He stooped and took the poor boy by the collar. His brutality
roused us all out of our stupor. Tish and I rushed forward and
commanded him to stand back; and Aggie, with more presence of
mind than we had given her credit for, brought a glass
containing a tablespoonful of blackberry cordial into which she
had pored ten drops of seasickness remedy. Tufik was white and
groaning, but he revived enough to sit up and stare at us with
his sad brown eyes.
"I wish to die!" he said brokenly. "Why you do not let me die?
My friends go on the canal! I am alone! My heart is empty!"
Tish wished to roll him on a barrel, but we had no barrel; so,
with Charlie Sands standing by with his watch in his hand,
refusing to assist and making unkind remarks, we got him to
Tish's room and laid out on her mackintosh on the bed. He did
not want to live. We could hardly force him to drink the hot
coffee Tish made for him. He kept muttering things about his
loneliness and being only a dirty dago; and then he turned
bitter and said hard things about this great America, where he
could find no work and must be a burden on his three mothers,
and could not bring his dear sister to be company for him. Aggie
quite broke down and had to lie down on the sofa in the parlor
and have a cracker and a cup of tea.
When Tish and I had succeeded in making Tufik promise to live,
and had given him one of his own silk kimonos to put on until
his clothing could be dried--Charlie Sands having disagreeably
refused to lend his overcoat--and when we had given the officer
five dollars not to arrest the boy for attempting suicide, we
met in the parlor to talk things over.
Charlie Sands was sitting by the lamp in his overcoat. He had
put our railway and steamer tickets on the table, and was
holding his cigarette so that Aggie could inhale the fumes, she
having hay fever and her cubebs being on their way to Panama.
"I suppose you know," he said nastily, "that your train has gone
and that you cannot get the boat tomorrow?"
Tish was in an exalted mood--and she took off her things and
flung them on a chair.
"What is Panama," she demanded, "to saving a life? Charlie, we
must plan something for this boy. If you will take off your
"And see you put it on that little parasite? Not if I melt! Do
you know how deep the lake is? Three feet!"
"One can drown in three feet of water," said Aggie sadly, "if
one is very tired of life. People drown themselves in bathtubs."
Tish's furious retort to this was lost, Tufik choosing that
moment to appear in the doorway. He wore a purple-and-gold
kimono that had given Tish bronchitis early in the winter, and
he had twisted a bath towel round the waist. He looked very
young, very sad, very Oriental. He ignored Charlie Sands, but
made at once for Tish and dropped on one knee beside her.
"Miss Tish!" he begged. "Forgive, Miss Tish! Tufik is wicked. He
has the bad heart. He has spoil the going on the canal. No?"
"Get up!" said Tish. "Don't be a silly child. Go and take your
shoes out of the oven. We are not going to Panama. When you are
better, I am going to give you a good scolding."
Charlie Sands put the cigarette on a book under Aggie's nose and
"I guess I'll go," he said. "My nerves are not what they used to
be and my disposition feels the change."
Tufik had risen and the two looked at each other. I could not
quite make out Tufik's expression; had I not known his
gentleness I would have thought his expression a mixture of
triumph and disdain.
"'The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold, and his
cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold!'" said Charlie Sands,
and went out, slamming the door.
The next day was rainy and cold. Aggie sneezed all day and Tish
had neuralgia. Being unable to go out for anything to eat and
the exaltation of the night before having passed, she was in a
bad humor. When I got there she was sitting in her room holding
a hot-water bottle to her face, and staring bitterly at the
plate containing a piece of burned toast and Tufik's specialty--
a Syrian cake crusted with sugar.
"I wish he had drowned!" she said. "My stomach's gone, Lizzie! I
ate one of those cakes for breakfast. You've got to eat this
"I'll do nothing of the sort! This is your doing, Tish Carberry.
If it hadn't been for you and your habit of picking up stray
cats and dogs and Orientals and imposing them on your friends
we'd be on the ocean today, on our way to a decent climate. The
next time your duty to your brother man overwhelms you, you'd
better lock yourself in your room and throw the key out the
Tish was not listening, however. Her eye and her mind both were
on the cake.
"If you would eat it and then take some essence of pepsin--" she
hazarded. But I looked her full it the eye and she had the grace
to color. "He loves to make them," she said--"he positively
beamed when he brought it. He has another kind he is making
now--of pounded beans, or something like that. Listen!" I
>From back in the kitchen came a sound of hammering and Tufik's
voice lifted in a low, plaintive chant. "He says that song is
about the valleys of Lebanon," said Tish miserably. "Lizzie, if
you'll eat half of it, I'll eat the rest."
My answer was to pick up the plate and carry it into the
bathroom. Heroic measures were necessary: Tish was not her
resolute self; and, indeed, through all the episode of Tufik,
and the shocking denouement that followed, Tish was a spineless
individual who swayed to and fro with every breeze.
She divined my purpose and followed me to the bathroom door.
"Leave some crumbs on the plate!" she whispered. "It will look
more natural. Get rid of the toast too."
I turned and faced her, the empty plate in my hands.
"Tish," I said sternly, "this is hypocrisy, which is just next
door to lying. It's the first step downward. I have a feeling
that this boy is demoralizing us! We shall have to get rid of
"As for instance?" she sarcastically asked.
"Send him back home," I said with firmness. "He doesn't belong
here; he isn't accustomed to anything faster than a camel. He
doesn't know how to work--none of them do. He comes from a
country where they can eat food like this because digestion is
one of their occupations."
I was right and Tish knew it. Even Tufik was satisfied when we
put it up to him. He spread his hands in his Oriental way and
shrugged his shoulders.
"If my mothers think best," he said softly. "In my own land
Tufik is known--I sell in the bazaar the so fine lace my sister
make. I drink wine, not water. My stomach--I cannot eat in this
America. But--I have no money."
"We will furnish the money," Tish said gently. "But you must
promise one thing, Tufik. You must not become a Mohammedan."
"Before that I die!" he said proudly.
"And--there is something else, Tufik,--something rather
personal. But I want you to promise. You are only a boy; but
when you are a man--" Tish stopped and looked to me for help.
"Miss Tish means this," I put in, "you are to have only one
wife, Tufik. We are not sending you back to start a harem. We--
we disapprove strongly of--er--anything like that."
"Tufik takes but one wife," he said. "Our people--we have but
one wife. My first child--it is called Tish; my next, Lizzie;
and my next, Aggie Pilk. All for my so kind friends. And one I
call Charlie Sands; and one shall be Hannah. So that Tufik never
Aggie was rather put out when we told her what we had done; but
after eating one of the cakes made of pounded beans and sugar,
under Tufik's triumphant eyes, she admitted that it was probably
for the best. That evening, while Tufik took his shrunken and
wrinkled clothing to be pressed by a little tailor in the
neighborhood who did Tish's repairing, the three of us went back
to the kitchen and tried to put it in order. It was frightful--
flour and burned grease over everything, every pan dirty, dishes
all over the place and a half-burned cigarette in the sugar bin.
But--it touched us all deeply--he had found an old photograph of
the three of us and had made a sort of shrine of the
clock-shelf--the picture in front of the clock and in front of
the picture a bunch of red geraniums.
While we were looking at the picture and Aggie was at the sink
putting water in the glass that held the geraniums, Tufik having
forgotten to do so, Tish's neighbor from the apartment below, an
elderly bachelor, came up the service staircase and knocked at
the door. Tish opened it.
"Humph!" said the gentleman from below. "Gone is he?"
"Is who gone?"
"Your thieving Syrian, madam!"
"Perhaps," she said, "if you will explain--"
"Perhaps," snarled the visitor, "you will explain what you have
done with my geraniums! Why don't you raise your own flowers?"
Tish was quite stunned and so was I. After all, it was Aggie who
came to the rescue. She slammed the lid on to the teakettle and
set it on the stove with a bang.
"If you mean," she said indignantly, "that you think we have any
geraniums of yours--"
"Think! Didn't my cook see your thieving servant steal 'em off
the box on the fire-escape?"
"Then, perhaps," Aggie suggested, "you will look through the
apartment and see if they are here. You will please look
Tish and I gasped. It was not until the visitor had made the
rounds of the apartment, and had taken an apologetic departure,
that Tish and I understood. The teakettle was boiling and from
its spout coming a spicy and familiar odor. Aggie took it off
the stove and removed the lid. The geraniums, boiled to a pulp,
"Back to Syria that boy goes!" said Tish, viewing the floral
remains. "He did it out of love and we must not chide him. But
we have our own immortal souls to think of."
The next morning two things happened. We gave Tufik one hundred
and twenty dollars to buy a ticket back to Syria and to keep him
in funds on the way. and Tish got a note from Hannah:--
Dear Miss Tish: I here you still have the dago--or, as
my sister's husband says, he still has you. I am redy to
live up to my bargen if you are. HANNAH.
P.S. I have lerned a new salud--very rich, but
In spite of herself, Tish looked haunted. It was the salad, no
doubt. She said nothing, but she looked round the untidy rooms,
where everything that would hold it had a linen cover with a
Cluny-lace edge--all of them soiled and wrinkled. She watched
Tufik, chanting about the plains of Lebanon and shoving the
carpet-sweeper with a bang against her best furniture; and, with
Hannah's salad in mind, she sniffed a warning odor from the
kitchen that told of more Syrian experiments with her digestion.
Tish surrendered: that morning she wrote to Hannah that Tufik
was going back to Syria, and to come and brink the salad recipe
That was, I think, on a Monday. Tufik's steamer sailed on
Thursday. On Tuesday Aggie and I went shopping; and in a spirit
of repentance--for we felt we were not solving Tufik's question
but getting rid of him--we bought him a complete new outfit. He
almost disgraced us by kissing our hands in the store, and while
we were buying him some ties he disappeared--to come back later
with the rims of his eyes red from weeping. His gentle soul was
touched with gratitude. Aggie had to tell him firmly that if he
kissed any more hands he would get his ears boxed.
The clerks in the store were all interested, and two or three
cash- boys followed us round and stood, open-mouthed, staring at
us. Neither Aggie nor I knew anything about masculine attire,
and Tufik's idea was a suit, with nothing underneath, a shirt-
front and collar of celluloid, and a green necktie already tied
and hooking on to his collar-button. He was dazed when we bought
him a steamer trunk and a rug, and disappeared again, returning
in a few moments with a small paper bag full of gumdrops. We
were quite touched.
That, as I say, was on Tuesday. Tufik had been sleeping in
Tish's guest-room since his desperate attempt at suicide, and we
sent his things to Tish's apartment. That evening Tufik asked
permission to spend the night with a friend in the restaurant
business--a Damascan. Tish let him go against my advice.
"He'll eat a lot of that Syrian food," I objected, "and get sick
and miss his boat, and we'll have the whole thing over again!"
But Tish was adamant. "It's his last night," she said, "and he
has promised not to smoke any cigarettes and I've given him two
pepsin tablets. This is the land of the free, Lizzie."
We were to meet Tufik at the station next morning and we
arranged a lunch for him to eat on the train, Aggie bringing
fried chicken and I sandwiches and cake. Tish's domestic
arrangements being upset, she supplied fruit, figs and dates
mostly, to make him think of home.
The train left early, and none of us felt very cheerful at
having to be about. Aggie sat in the station and sneezed; Tish
had a pain above her eye and sat by a heater. We had the
luncheon in a large shoebox, wrapped in oiled paper to keep it
He never appeared! The train was called, filled up, and left.
People took to staring at us as we sat there. Aggie sneezed and
Tish held her eye. And no Tufik! In a sort of helpless,
breakfastless rage we called a taxicab and went to Tish's. No
one said much. We were all thinking.
We were hungry; so we spread out the shoebox lunch on one of the
Cluny-lace covers and ate it, mostly in silence. The steamer
trunk and the rug had gone. We let them go. They might go to
Jerusalem, as far as we were concerned! After we had eaten,--
about eleven o'clock, I think,--Tish got up and surveyed the
apartment. Then, with a savage gleam in her eye, she whisked off
all the fancy linens, the Cluny laces, the hemstitched
bedspreads, and piled them in a heap on the floor. Aggie and I
watched her in silence. She said nothing, but kicked the whole
lot into the bottom of a cupboard. When she had slammed the
door, she turned and faced us grimly.
"That roll of fiddle-de-dees has cost me about five hundred
dollars," she said. "It's been worth it if it teaches me that
I'm an old fool and that you are two others! If that boy shows
his face here again, I'll hand him over to the police."
However, as it happened, she did nothing of the sort. At four
o'clock that afternoon there was a timid ring at the doorbell
and I answered it. Outside was Tufik, forlorn and drooping, and
held up by main force by a tall, dark-skinned man with a heavy
"I bring your boy!" said the mustached person, smiling. "He has
great trouble--sorrow; he faint with grief."
I took a good look at Tufik then. He was pale and shaky, and his
new suit looked as if he had slept in it. His collar was bent
and wilted, and the green necktie had been taken off and
exchanged for a ragged black one.
"Miss Liz!" he said huskily. "I die; the heart is gone! My
He broke down again; and leaning against the door jamb he buried
his face in a handkerchief that I could not believe was one of
the lot we had bought only yesterday. I hardly knew what to do.
Tish had said she was through with the boy. I decided to close
them out in the hallway until we had held a council; but Tufik's
foot was on the sill, and the more I asked him to move it, the
harder he wept.
The mustached person said it was quite true. Tufik's father had
died of the plague; the letter had come early that morning.
Beirut was full of the plague. He waved the letter at me; but I
ordered him to burn it immediately--on account of germs. I
brought him a shovel to burn it on; and when that was over Tufik
had worked out his own salvation. He was at the door of Tish's
room, pouring out to Aggie and Tish his grief, and offering the
black necktie as proof.
We were just where we had started, but minus one hundred and
twenty dollars; for, the black-mustached gentleman having gone
after trying to sell Tish another silk kimono, I demanded
Tufik's ticket--to be redeemed--and was met with two empty
"Oh, my friends,--my Miss Tish, my Miss Liz, my Miss Ag,--what
must I say? I have not the ticket! I have been wikkid--but for
my sister--only for my sister! She must not die--she so young,
so little girl!"
"Tufik," said Tish sternly, "I want you to tell us everything
this minute, and get it over."
"She ees so little!" he said wistfully. "And the body of my
parent--could I let it lie and rot in the so hot sun? Ah, no;
Miss Tish, Miss Liz, Miss Ag,-- not so. To-day I take back my
ticket, get the money, and send it to my sister. She will bury
my parent, and then--she comes to this so great America, the
land of my good friends!"
There was a moment's silence. Then Aggie sneezed!
I shall pass over the next month, with its unpleasantnesses;
over Charlie Sands's coming one evening with a black tie and, on
the strength of having killed a dog with his machine, asking for
money to bury it, and bring another one from Syria! I shall not
more than mention Hannah, who kept Tish physically comfortable
and well fed and mentally wretched, having a teakettle of
boiling water always ready if Tufik came to the apartment; I
shall say nothing of our success in getting him employment in
the foreign department of a bank, and his ending up by washing
its windows; or of the position Tish got him as elevator boy in
her hospital, where he jammed the car in some way and held up
four surgeons and three nurses and a patient on his way to the
operating-room--until the patient changed his mind and refused
to be operated on.
Aggie had a brilliant idea about the census-- that he could make
the census reports in the Syrian district. To this end she
worked for some time, coaching Tufik for the examination, only
to have him fail--fail absolutely and without hope. He was
staying in the Syrian quarter at that time, on account of
Hannah; and he brought us various tempting offers now and then--
a fruit stand that could be bought for a hundred dollars; a
restaurant for fifty; a tailor's shop for twenty-five. But, as
he knew nothing of fruits or restaurants or tailoring, we
refused to invest. Tish said that we had been a good while
getting to it, but that we were being businesslike at last. We
gave the boy nine dollars a week and not a penny more; and we
refused to buy any more of his silly linens and crocheted laces.
We were quite firm with him.
And now I come to the arriving of Tufik's little sister--not
that she was really little. But that comes later.
Tufik had decided at last on what he would be in our so great
America. Once or twice, when he was tired or discouraged, Tish
had taken him out in her machine, and he had been thrilled--
really thrilled. He did not seem able to learn how to crank it--
Tish's car is hard to crank--but he learned how to light the
lamps and to spot a policeman two blocks away. Several times,
when we were going into the country, Tish took him because it
gave her a sense of security to have a man along.
Having come from a country where the general travel is by camel,
however, he had not the first idea of machinery. He thought Tish
made the engine go by pressing on the clutch with her foot, like
a sewing machine, and he regarded her strength with awe. And
once, when we were filling a tire from an air bottle and the
tube burst and struck him, he declared there was a demon in the
air bottle and said a prayer in the middle of the road. About
that time Tish learned of a school for chauffeurs, and the three
of us decided to divide the expense and send him.
"In three months," Tish explained, "we can get him a state
license and he can drive a taxicab. It will suit him, because he
can sit to do it."
So Tufik went to an automobile school and stood by while some
one drew pictures of parts of the engine on a blackboard, and
took home lists of words that he translated into Arabic at the
library, and learned everything but why and how the engine of an
automobile goes. He still thought--at the end of two months--
that the driver did it with his foot! But we were ignorant of
all that. He would drop round in the evenings, when Hannah was
out or in bed, and tell us what "magneto" was in Arabic, and how
he would soon be able to care for Tish's car and would not take
a cent for it, doing it at night when the taxi-cab was resting.
At the end of six weeks we bought him a chauffeur's outfit. The
next day the sister arrived and Tufik brought her to Aggie's,
where we were waiting. We had not told Hannah about the sister;
she would not have understood.
Charlie Sands telephoned while we were waiting and asked if he
might come over and help receive the girl. We were to greet her
and welcome her to America; then she was to go to the home of
the Syrian with the large mustache. Charlie Sands came in and
shook hands all round, surveying each of us carefully.
"Strange!" he muttered. "Curious is no name for it! What do we
know of the vagaries of the human mind? Three minds and one
obsession!" he said with the utmost gentleness. "Three maiden
ladies who have lived impeccable lives for far be it from me to
say how many years; and now--this! Oh, Aunt Tish! Dear Aunt
He got out his handkerchief and wiped his eyes. Tish was
speechless with rage, but I rose to our defense.
"We don't want to do it and you know it!" I said tartly. "But
when the Lord sends want and suffering to one's very door--"
"Want, with large brown eyes and a gentle voice!" he retorted.
"My dear ladies, it's your money; and I dare say it costs you
less than bridge at five cents a point, or the Gay White Way.
But, for Heaven's sake, my respected but foolish virgins, why
not an American that wants a real job? Why let a sticky Oriental
pull your legs--"
"Charlie Sands!" cried Tish, rising in her wrath. "I will not
endure such vulgarity. And when Tufik takes you out in a
"God forbid!" said Charlie Sands, and sat down to wait for
She did not look like Tufik and she was tired and dirty from the
journey; but she had big brown eyes and masses of dark hair and
she spoke not a single word of English. Tufik's joy was
boundless; his soft eyes were snapping with excitement; and
Aggie, who is sentimental, was obliged to go out and swallow
half a glass of water without breathing to keep from crying.
Charlie Sands said nothing, but sat back in a corner and watched
us all; and once he took out his notebook and made a memorandum
of something. He showed it to us later.
Tufik's sister was the calmest of us all, I believe. She sat on
a stiff chair near the door and turned her brown eyes from one
to the other. Tish said that proper clothing would make her
beautiful; and Aggie, disappearing for a few minutes, came back
with her last summer's foulard and a jet bonnet. When the poor
thing understood they were for her, she looked almost
frightened, the thing being unexpected; and Tufik, in a paroxysm
of delight, kissed all our hands and the girl on each cheek.
Tish says our vulgar lip-osculation is unknown in the Orient and
that they rub noses by way of greeting. I think, however, that
she is mistaken in this and that the Australians are the nose-
rubbers. I recall a returned missionary's telling this, but I
cannot remember just where he had been stationed.
Things were very quiet for a couple of weeks. Tufik came round
only once--to tell us that, having to pay car fare to get to the
automobile school, his nine dollars were not enough. We added a
dollar a week under protest; and Tish suggested with some
asperity that as he was only busy four hours a day he might find
some light employment for the balance of the day. He spread out
his hands and drew up his shoulders.
"My friends are angry," he said sadly. "It is not enough that I
study? I must also work? Ver' well, I labor. I sell the
newspaper. But, to buy newspapers, one must have money--a
dollar; two dollars. Ver' leetle; only--I have it not."
We gave him another dollar and he went out smiling and hopeful.
It seemed that at last we had solved his problem. Tish recalled
one of her Sunday-school scholars who sold papers and saved
enough to buy a second-hand automobile and rear a family. But
our and hopes were dashed to the ground when, the next morning,
Hannah, opening the door at Tish's to bring in the milk bottles,
found a huge stack of the night-before's newspapers and a note
on top addressed to Tish, which said:-
Deer Mother Tish : You see now that I am no good. I wish
to die! I hav one papier sold, and newsboys kell me on
sight. I hav but you and God--and God has forget!
We were discouraged and so, clearly, was Tufik. For ten days we
did not hear from him, except that a flirty little Syrian boy
called for the ten dollars on Saturday and brought a pair of
Tufik's shoes for us to have resoled. But one day Tish
telephoned in some excitement and said that Tufik was there and
wanted us to go to a wedding.
"His little sister's wedding!" she explained. "The dear child is
all excited. He says it has been going on for two days and this
is the day of the ceremony."
Aggie was spending the afternoon with me, and spoke up hastily.
"Ask her if I have time to go home and put on my broadcloth,"
she said. "I'm not fixed for a wedding."
Tish said there was no time. She would come round with the
machine and we were to be ready in fifteen minutes. Aggie
hesitated on account of intending to wash her hair that night
and so not having put up her crimps; but she finally agreed to
go and Tish came for us. Tufik was in the machine. He looked
very tidy and wore the shoes we had had repaired, a pink
carnation in his buttonhole, and an air of suppressed
"At last," he said joyously while Tish cranked the car--"at last
my friends see my three mothers! They think Tufik only talks--
now they see! And the priest will bless my mothers on this so
Tish having crawled panting from her exertion into the driver's
seat and taken the wheel, in sheer excess of boyish excitement
he leaned over and kissed the hand nearest him.
The janitor's small boy was on the curb watching, and at that he
set up a yell of joy. We left him calling awful things after us
and Tish's face was a study; but soon the care of the machine
made her forget everything else.
The Syrian quarter was not impressive. It was on a hillside
above the Russian Jewish colony, and consisted of a network of
cobble-paved alleys, indescribably dirty and incredibly steep.
In one or two of these alleys Tish was obliged to turn the car
and go up backward, her machine climbing much better on tire
reverse gear. Crowds of children followed us; dogs got under the
wheels and apparently died, judging by the yelps--only to follow
us with undiminished energy after they had picked themselves up.
We fought and won a battle with a barrel of ashes and came out
victorious but dusty; and at last, as Tufik made a lordly
gesture, we stopped at an angle of forty-five degrees and Tufik
bowed us out of the car. He stood by visibly glowing with
happiness, while Tish got a cobblestone and placed it under a
wheel, and Aggie and I took in our surroundings.
We were in an alley ten feet wide and paved indiscriminately
with stones and tin cans, babies and broken bottles. Before us
was a two-story brick house with broken windows and a high,
railed wooden stoop, minus two steps. Under the stoop was a door
leading into a cellar, and from this cellar was coming a curious
stamping noise and a sound as of an animal in its death throes.
Aggie caught my arm. "What's that?" she quavered.
I had no time to reply. Tufik had thrown open the door and stood
aside to let us pass.
"They dance," he said gravely. "There is always much dancing
before a wedding. The music one hears is of Damascus and he who
dances now is a sheik among his people."
Reassured as to the sounds, we stepped down into the basement.
That was at four o'clock in the afternoon.
I have never been fairly clear as to what followed and Aggie's
memory is a complete blank. I remember a long, boarded-in and
floored cellar, smelling very damp and lighted by flaring gas
jets. The center was empty save for a swarthy gentleman in a fez
and his shirt-sleeves, wearing a pair of green suspenders and
dancing alone--a curious stamping dance that kept time to a
drum. I remember the musicians too--three of them in a corner:
one playing on a sort of pipes-of-Pan affair of reeds, one on a
long- necked instrument that looked like a guitar with zither
ambitions, and a drummer who chanted with his eyes shut and kept
time to his chants by beating on a sheepskin tied over the mouth
of a brass bowl. Round three sides of the room were long, oil
cloth-covered tables; and in preparation for the ceremony a
little Syrian girl was sweeping up peanut shells, ashes, and
beer bottles, with absolute disregard of the guests.
All round the wall, behind rows of beer bottles, dishes of
bananas, and plates of raw liver, were men,--soft-eyed Syrians
with white teeth gleaming and black hair plastered close and
celluloid collars,--gentle-voiced, urbane-mannered Orientals,
who came up gravely one by one and shook hands with us; who
pressed on us beer and peanuts and raw liver.
Aggie, speaking between sneezes and over the chanting and the
drum, bent toward me. "It's a breath of the Orient!" she said
ecstatically. "Oh, Lizzie, do you think I could buy that drum
for my tabouret?"
"Orient!" observed Tish, coughing. "I'm going out and take the
switch-key out of that car. And I wish I'd brought Charlie
It was in vain we reminded her that the Syrians are a pastoral
people and that they come from the land of the Bible. She looked
round her grimly.
"They look like a lot of bandits to me," she sniffed. "And
there's always a murder at a wedding of this sort. There isn't a
woman here but ourselves!"
She was exceedingly disagreeable and Aggie and I began to get
uncomfortable. But when Tufik brought us little thimble-sized
glasses filled with a milky stuff and assured us that the women
had only gone to prepare the bride, we felt reassured. He said
that etiquette demanded that we drink the milky white stuff.
Tish was inclined to demur. "Has it any alcohol in it?" she
demanded. Tufik did not understand, but he said it was harmless
and given to all the Syrian babies; and while we were still
undecided Aggie sniffed it.
"It smells like paregoric, Tish," she said. "I'm sure it's
We took it then. It tasted sweet and rather spicy, and Aggie
said it stopped her sneezing at once. It was very mild and
pleasant, and rather medicinal in its flavor. We each had two
little glasses--and Tish said she would not bother about the
switch-key. The car was insured against theft.
A little later Aggie said she used to do a little jig step when
she was a girl, and if they would play slower she would like to
see if she had forgotten it. Tish did not hear this--she was
talking to Tufik, and a moment later she got up and went out.
Aggie had decided to ask the musicians to play a little slower
and I had my hands full with her; so it was with horror that,
shortly after, I heard the whirring of the engine and through
the cellar window caught a glimpse of Tish's machine starting
off up the hill. I rose excitedly, but Tufik was before me,
smiling and bowing.
"Miss Tish has gone for the bride," he said softly. "The taxicab
hav' not come. Soon the priest arrive, and so great shame--the
bride is not here! Miss Tish is my mother, my heart's delight!"
When Aggie realized that Tish had gone, she was rather upset--
she depends a great deal on Tish--and she took another of the
little glasses of milky stuff to revive her.
I was a little bit nervous with Tish gone and the sun setting
and another tub of beer bottles brought in--though the people
were orderly enough and Tufik stood and near. But Aggie began to
feel very strange, and declared that the man with the sheepskin
drum was winking at her and that her head was twitching round on
her shoulders. And when a dozen or so young Syrians formed a
circle, their hands on each other's shoulders, and sang a
melancholy chant, stamping to beat time, she wept with sheer
"Ha! Hoo! Ta, Ta, Ta!" they chanted in unison; and Tufik bent
over us, his soft eyes beaming.
"They are shepherds and the sons of shepherds from Palestine,"
he whispered. "That is the shepherd's call to his sheep. In my
country many are shepherds. Perhaps some day you go with me back
to my country, and we hear the shepherd call his sheep--'Ha!
Hoo! Ta, Ta, Ta!'--and we hear the sleepy sheep reply: 'Maaaa!'"
"It is too beautiful!" murmured Aggie. "It is the Holy Land all
over again! And we should never have known this but for you,
Just then some one near the door clapped his hands and all the
noise ceased. Those who were standing sat down. The little girl
with the broom swept the accumulations of the room under a chair
and put the broom in a corner. The music became loud and
Aggie swayed toward me. "I'm sick, Lizzie!" she gasped. "That
paregoric stuff has poisoned me. Air!"
I took one arm and Tufik the other, and we got her out and
seated on one of the wooden steps. She was a blue-green color
and the whites of her eyes were yellow. But I had little time
for Aggie. Tufik caught my hand and pointed.
Tish's machine was coming down the alley. Beside her sat Tufik's
sister, sobbing at the top of her voice and wearing Aggie's
foulard, a pair of cotton gloves, and a lace curtain over her
head. Behind in the tonneau were her maid of honor, a young
Syrian woman with a baby in her arms and four other black-eyed
children about her. But that was not all. In front of the
machine, marching slowly and with dignity, were three bearded
gentlemen, two in coats and one in a striped vest, blowing on
curious double flutes and making a shrill wailing noise. And all
round were crowds of women and children, carrying tin pans and
paper bags full of parched peas, which they were flinging with
all their might.
I caught Tish's eye as the procession stopped, and she looked
subdued--almost stunned. The pipers still piped. But the bride
refused to move. Instead, her wails rose higher; and Aggie, who
had paid no attention so far, but was sitting back with her eyes
shut, looked up.
"Lizzhie," she said thickly, "Tish looks about the way I feel."
And with that she fell to laughing awful laughter that mingled
with the bride's cries and the wail of the pipes.
The bride, after a struggle, was taken by force from the machine
and placed on a chair against the wall. Her veil was torn and
her wreath crooked, and she observed a sulky silence. To our
amazement, Tufik was still smiling, urbane and cheerful.
"It is the custom of my country, my mothers," he said. "The
bride leave with tears the home of her good parents or of her
friends; and she speak no word--only weep--until she is
marriaged. Ah--the priest!"
The rest of the story is short and somewhat blurred. Tish
having broken her glasses, Aggie being, as one may say, hors de
combat, and I having developed a frightful headache in the dust
and bad air, the real meaning of what was occurring did not
penetrate to any of us. The priest officiated from a table in
the center of the room, on which he placed two candles, an
Arabic Bible, and a sacred picture, all of which he took out of
a brown valise. He himself wore a long black robe and a beard,
and looked, as Tish observed, for all the world as if he had
stepped from an Egyptian painting. Before him stood Tufik's
sister, the maid of honor with her baby, the black-mustached
friend who had brought Tufik to us after his tragic attempt at
suicide, and Tufik himself.
Everybody held lighted candles, and the heat was frightful. The
music ceased, there was much exhorting in Arabic, much reading
from the book, many soft replies indiscriminately from the four
principals--and then suddenly Tish turned and gripped my arm.
"Lizzie," she said hoarsely, "that little thief and liar has
done us again! That isn't his sister at all. He's marrying her--
for us to keep!"
Luckily Aggie grew faint again at that moment, and we led her
out into the open air. Behind us the ceremony seemed to be over;
the drum was beating, the pipes screaming, the lute thrumming.
Tish let in the clutch with a vicious jerk, and the whir of the
engine drowned out the beating of the drum and the clapping of
the hands. Twilight hid the tin cans and ash-barrels, and the
dogs slept on the cool pavements. In the doorways soft-eyed
Syrian women rocked their babies to drowsy chants. The air
revived Aggie. She leaned forward and touched Tish on the
"After all," she said softly, "if he loves her very much, and
there was no other way--Do you remember that night she arrived--
how he looked at her?"
"Yes," Tish snapped. "And I remember the way he looked at us
every time he wanted money. We've been a lot of sheep and we've
been sheared good and proper! But we needn't bleat with joy
As we drew up at my door, Tish pulled out her watch.
"It's seven o'clock," she said brusquely. "I am going to New
York on the nine-forty train and I shall take the first steamer
outward bound--I need a rest! I'll go anywhere but to the Holy
We went to Panama.
Two months afterward, in the dusk of a late spring evening,
Charlie Sands met us at the station and took us to Tish's in a
taxicab. We were homesick, tired, and dirty; and Aggie, who had
been frightfully seasick, was clamoring for tea.
As the taxicab drew up at the curb, Tish clutched my arm and
Aggie uttered a muffled cry and promptly sneezed. Seated on the
doorstep, celluloid collar shining, the brown pasteboard
suitcase at his feet, was Tufik. He sat calmly smoking a
cigarette, his eyes upturned in placid and Oriental
contemplation of the heavens.
"Drive on!" said Tish desperately. "If he sees us we are lost!"
"Drive where?" demanded Charlie.
Tufik's gaze had dropped gradually--another moment and his brown
eyes would rest on us. But just then a diversion occurred. A
window overhead opened with a slam and a stream of hot water
descended. It had been carefully aimed--as if with long
practice. Tufik was apparently not surprised. He side-stepped it
with a boredom as of many repetitions, and, picking up his
suitcase, stood at a safe distance looking up. First, in his
gentle voice he addressed the window in Arabic; then from a
safer distance in English.
"You ugly old she-wolf!" he said softly. "When my three old
women come back I eat you, skin and bones,--and they shall say
nothing! They love me--Tufik! I am their child. Aye! And my
child--which comes--will be their grandchild!"
He kissed his fingers to the upper window which closed with a
slam. Tufik stooped, picked up his suitcase, and saw the taxi
for the first time. Even in the twilight we saw his face change,
his brown eyes brighten, his teeth show in his boyish smile. The
taxicab driver had stalled his engine and was cranking it.
"Sh!" I said desperately, and we all cowered back into the
Tufik approached, uncertainty changing to certainty. The engine
was started now. Oh, for a second of time! He was at the window
now, peering into the darkness.
"Miss Tish!" he said breathlessly. No one answered. We hardly
breathed. And then suddenly Aggie sneezed! "Miss Pilk!" he
shouted in delight. "My mothers! My so dear friends--"
The machine jerked, started, moved slowly off. He ran beside it,
a hand on the door. Tish bent forward to speak, but Charlie
Sands put his hand over her mouth.
And so we left him, standing in the street undecided, staring
after us wistfully, uncertainly--the suitcase, full of Cluny-
lace centerpieces, crocheted lace, silk kimonos, and embroidered
bedspreads, in his hand.
That night we hid in a hotel and the next day we started for
Europe. We heard nothing from Tufik; but on the anniversary of
Mr. Wiggins's death, while we were in Berlin, Aggie received a
small package forwarded from home. It was a small lace doily,
and pinned to it was a card. It read:--
For the sadness, Miss Pilk! TUFIK.
Aggie cried over it.
The Simple Lifers
I suppose there is something in all of us that harks back to the
soil. When you come to think of it, what are picnics but
outcroppings of instinct? No one really enjoys them or expects
to enjoy them, but with the first warm days some prehistoric
instinct takes us out into the woods, to fry potatoes over a
strangling wood fire and spend the next week getting grass
stains out of our clothes. It must be instinct; every atom of
intelligence warns us to stay at home near the refrigerator.
Tish is really a child of instinct. She is intelligent enough,
but in a contest between instinct and brains, she always follows
her instinct. Aggie under the same circumstances follows her
heart. As for me, I generally follow Tish and Aggie, and they've
led me into some curious places.
This is really a sort of apology, because, whereas usually Tish
leads off and we follow her, in the adventure of the Simple Life
we were all equally guilty. Tish made the suggestion, but we
needed no urging. As you know, this summer two years ago was a
fairly good one, as summers go,--plenty of fair weather, only
two or three really hot spells, and not a great deal of rain.
Charlie Sands, Tish's nephew, went over to England in June to
report the visit of the French President to London for his
newspaper, and Tish's automobile had been sent to the factory to
be gone over. She had been teaching Aggie to drive it, and owing
to Aggie's thinking she had her foot on the brake when it was
really on the gas, they had leaped a four-foot ditch and gone
down into a deep ravine, from which both Tish and Aggie had had
to be pulled up with ropes.
Well, with no machine and Charlie Sands away, we hardly knew how
to plan the summer. Tish thought at first she would stay at home
and learn to ride. She thought her liver needed stirring up. She
used to ride, she said, and it was like sitting in a rocking-
chair, only perhaps more so. Aggie and I went out to her first
lesson; but when I found she had bought a divided skirt and was
going to try a man's saddle, I could not restrain my indignation.
"I'm going, Tish," I said firmly, when she had come out of the
dressing-room and I realized the situation. "I shan't attempt to
restrain you, but I shall not remain to witness your shame."
Tish eyed me coldly. "When you wish to lecture me," she snapped,
"about revealing to the public that I have two legs, if I do
wear a skirt, don't stand in a sunny doorway in that linen dress
of yours. I am going to ride; every woman should ride. It's good
for the liver."
I think she rather wavered when they brought the horse, which
looked larger than usual and had a Roman nose. The instructor
handed Tish four lines and she grabbed them nervously in a
"Just a moment!" said the instructor, and slipped a line between
each two of her fingers.
Tish looked rather startled. "When I used to ride--" she began
But the instructor only smiled. "These two are for the curb," he
said--"if he bolts or anything like that, you know. Whoa, Viper!
Still, old man!"
"Viper!" Tish repeated, clutching at the lines. "Is--is he--er--
"Not a bit of it," said the instructor, while he prepared to
hoist her up. "He's as gentle as a woman to the people he likes.
His only fault is that he's apt to take a little nip out of the
stablemen now and then. He's very fond of ladies."
"Humph!" said Tish. "He's looking at me rather strangely, don't
you think? Has he been fed lately?"
"Perhaps he sees that divided skirt," I suggested.
Tish gave me one look and got on the horse. They walked round
the ring at first and Tish seemed to like it. Then a stableman
put a nickel into a player-piano and that seemed to be a signal
for the thing to trot. Tish said afterward that she never hit
the horse's back twice in the same place. Once, she says, she
came down on his neck, and several times she was back somewhere
about his tail. Every time she landed, wherever it might be, he
gave a heave and sent her up again. She tried to say "Whoa," but
it came out in pieces, so to speak, and the creature seemed to
be encouraged by it and took to going faster. By that time, she
said, she wasn't coming down at all, but was in the air all the
time, with the horse coming up at the rate of fifty revolutions
a second. She had presence of mind enough to keep her mouth shut
so she wouldn't bite her tongue off.
After four times round the music stopped and the horse did also.
They were just in front of us, and Tish looked rather dazed.
"You did splendidly!" said Aggie. "Honestly, Tish, I was
frightened at first, but you and that dear horse seemed one
piece. Didn't they, Lizzie?"
Tish straightened out the fingers of her left hand with her
right and extricated the lines. Then she turned her head slowly
from right to left to see if she could.
"Help me down, somebody," she said in a thin voice, "and call an
osteopath. There is something wrong with my spine!"
She was in bed three days, having massage and a vibrator and
being rubbed with chloroform liniment. At the end of that time
she offered me her divided skirt, but I refused.
"Riding would be good for your liver, Lizzie," she said, sitting
up in bed with pillows all about her.
"I don't intend to detach it to do it good," I retorted. "What
your liver and mine and most of the other livers need these days
isn't to be sent out in a divided skirt and beaten to a jelly:
they need rest--less food and simpler food. If instead of taking
your liver on a horse you'd put it in a tent and feed it nuts
and berries, you wouldn't be the color you are to-day, Tish
That really started the whole thing, although at the time Tish
said nothing. She has a way of getting an idea and letting it
simmer on the back of her brain, as you may say, when nobody
knows it's been cooking at all, and then suddenly bringing it
out cooked and seasoned and ready to serve.
On the day Tish sat up for the first time, Aggie and I went over
to see her. Hannah, the maid, had got her out of bed to a
window, and Tish was sitting there with books all about her. It
is in times of enforced physical idleness that most of Tish's
ideas come to her, and Aggie had reminded me of that fact on the
"You remember, Lizzie," she said, "how last winter when she was
getting over the grippe she took up that correspondence-school
course in swimming. She's reading, watch her books. It'll
probably be suffrage or airships."
Tish always believes anything she reads. She had been quite sure
she could swim after six correspondence lessons. She had all the
movements exactly, and had worried her trained nurse almost into
hysteria for a week by turning on her face in bed every now and
then and trying the overhand stroke. She got very expert, and
had decided she'd swim regularly, and even had Charlie Sands
show her the Australian crawl business so she could go over some
time and swim the Channel. It was a matter of breathing and of
changing positions, she said, and was up to intelligence rather
Then when she was quite strong, she had gone to the natatorium.
Aggie and I went along, not that we were any good in emergency,
but because Tish had convinced us there would be no emergency.
And Tish went in at the deep end of the pool, head first,
according to diagram, and did not come up.
Well, there seemed to be nothing threatening in what Tish was
reading this time. She had ordered some books for Maria Lee's
children and was looking them over before she sent them. The
"Young Woods-man" was one and "Camper Craft" was another. How I
shudder when I recall those names!
Aggie had baked an angel cake and I had brought over a jar of
cookies. But Tish only thanked us and asked Hannah to take them
out. Even then we were not suspicious. Tish sat back among her
pillows and said very little. The conversation was something
Aggie: Well, you're up again: I hope to goodness it will
be a lesson to you. If you don't mind, I'd like Hannah
to cut that cake. It fell in the middle.
Tish: Do you know that the Indians never sweetened their
food and that they developed absolutely perfect teeth?
Aggie: Well, they never had any automobiles either, but
they didn't develop wings.
Lizzie: Don't you want that window closed? I'm in a
Tish: Air in motion never gave any one a cold. We do not
catch cold; we catch heat. It's ridiculous the way we
shut ourselves up in houses and expect to remain well.
Aggie: Well, I'b catchig sobethig.
Lizzie (changing the subject): Would you like me to help
you dress? It might rest your back to have your corset
Tish (firmly): I shall never wear a corset again.
Aggie (sneezing): Why? Didn't the Iddiads wear theb?
Tish is very sensitive to lack of sympathy and she shut up like
a clam. She was coldly polite to us for the remainder of our
visit, but she did not again refer to the Indians, which in
itself was suspicious.
Fortunately for us, or unfortunately, Tish's new scheme was one
she could not very well carry out alone. I believe she tried to
induce Hannah to go with her, and only when Hannah failed her
did she turn to us. Hannah was frightened and came to warn us.
I remember the occasion very well. It was Mr. Wiggins's birthday
anniversary, and we usually dine at Aggie's and have a cake with
thirty candles on it. Tish was not yet able to be about, so
Aggie and I ate together. She always likes to sit until the last
candle is burned out, which is rather dispiriting and always
leaves me low in my mind.
Just as it flickered and went out, Hannah came in.
"Miss Tish sent over Mr. Charlie's letter from London," said
Hannah, and put it in front of Aggie. Then she sat down on a
chair and commenced to cry.
"Why, Hannah!" said Aggie. "What in the world has happened?"
She's off again!" sniveled Hannah; "and she's worse this time
than she's ever been. No sugar, no tea, only nuts and fruit, and
her windows open all night, with the curtains getting black. I
wisht I had Mr. Charlie by the neck."
I suppose it came over both of us at the same time- the "Young
Woodsman," and the "Camper Craft," and no stays, and all that. I
reached for Charlie Sands's letter, which was always sent to
Tish and meant for all of us. He wrote:--
Dear Three of a Kind: Well, the French President has
came and went, and London has taken down all the
brilliant flags which greeted him, such tactful bits as
bore Cressy and Agincourt, and the pretty little
smallpox and "plague here" banners, and has gone back to
such innocent diversions as baiting cabinet ministers,
blowing up public buildings, or going out into the woods
seeking the Simple Life.
The Simple Lifers travel in bands--and little else. They
go barefooted, barearmed, bareheaded and barenecked.
They wear one garment, I believe, let their hair hang
and their beards grow, eat only what Nature provides,
such as nuts and fruits, sleep under the stars, and
drink from Nature's pools. Rather bully, isn't it?
They're a handsome lot generally, brown as nuts. And I
saw a girl yesterday--well, if you do not hear from me
for a time it will be because I have discarded the
pockets in which I carry my fountain pen and my stamps
and am wandering bare- foot through the Elysian fields.
Yours for the Simple Life,
As I finished reading the letter aloud, I looked at Aggie in
dismay. "That settles it," I said hopelessly. "She had some such
idea before, and now this young idiot--" I stopped and stared
across the table at Aggie. She was sitting rapt, her eyes fixed
on the smouldering wicks of Mr. Wiggins's candles.
"Barefoot through the Elysian fields!" she said.
I am not trying to defend myself. I never had the enthusiasm of
the other two, but I rather liked the idea. And I did restrain
them. It was my suggestion, for instance, that we wear sandals
without stockings, instead of going in our bare feet, which was
a good thing, for the first day out Aggie stepped into a
hornet's nest. And I made out the lists.
The idea, of course, is not how much one can carry, but how
little. The "Young Woodsman" told exactly how to manage in the
woods if one were lost there and had nothing in the world but a
bootlace and a wire hairpin.
With the hairpin one could easily make a fair fish-hook--and
with a bootlace or a good hemp cord one could make a rabbit
"So you see," Tish explained, "there's fish and meat with no
trouble at all. And there will be berries and nuts. That's a
diet for a king."
I was making a list of the necessaries at the time and under
bootlaces and hairpins I put down "spade."
"What in Heaven's name is the spade for?" Tish demanded.
"You've got to dig bait, haven't you?"
Tish eyed me with disgust.
"Grasshoppers!" she said tersely.
There was really nothing Tish was not prepared for. I should
never have thought of grasshoppers.
"The idea is simply this," observed Tish: "We have surrounded
ourselves with a thousand and one things we do not need and
would be better without--houses, foolish clothing, electric
light, idiotic servants--Hannah, get away from that door!--rich
foods, furniture and crowds of people. We've developed and cared
for our bodies instead of our souls. What we want is to get out
into the woods and think; to forget those pampered bodies of
ours and to let our souls grow and assert themselves."
We decided finally to take a blanket apiece, rolled on our
shoulders, and Tish and I each took a strong knife. Aggie,
instead of the knife, took a pair of scissors. We took a small
bottle of blackberry cordial for emergencies, a cake of soap, a
salt-cellar for seasoning the fish and rabbits, two towels, a
package of court-plaster, Aggie's hay-fever remedy, a bottle of
oil of pennyroyal to use against mosquitoes, and a large piece
of canvas, light but strong, cut like the diagram.
Tish said it was the regulation Indian tepee, and that a squaw
could set one up in an hour and have dinner cooked inside it in
thirty minutes after. She said she guessed we could do it if an
Indian squaw could, and that after we'd cut the poles once, we
could carry them with us if we wished to move. She said the tent
ought to be ornamented, but she had had no time, and we could
paint designs on it with colored clay in the woods when we had
nothing more important to do!
It made a largish bundle, but we did not intend to travel much.
We thought we could find a good place by a lake somewhere and
put up the tent, and set a few snares, and locate the nearest
berry-bushes and mushroom-patches, and then, while the rabbits
were catching themselves, we should have time to get acquainted
with our souls again.
Tish put it in her terse manner most intelligently. "We intend
to prove," she stated to Mrs. Ostermaier, the minister's wife,
who came to call and found us all sitting on the floor trying to
get used to it, for of course there would be no chairs, "we
shall prove that the trappings of civilization are a delusion
and a snare. We shall bring back 'Mens sana in corpore sano'."
The minister's wife thought this was a disease, for she said, "I
hope not, I'm sure," very hastily.
"We shall make our own fire and our own shelter," said Tish from
the floor. "We shall wear one garment, loose enough to allow
entire freedom of movement. We shall bathe in Nature's pools and
come out cleansed. On the Sabbath we shall attend divine service
under the Gothic arches of the trees, read sermons in stones,
and instead of that whining tenor in the choir we shall listen
to the birds singing praise, overhead."
Mrs. Ostermaier looked rather bewildered. "I'm sure I hope so,"
she said vaguely. "I don't like camping myself. There are so
As Tish said, some ideas are so large that the average person
cannot see them at all.
We had fixed on Maine. It seemed to combine all the necessary
qualities: woods and lakes, rabbits, game and fish, and--
solitude. Besides, Aggie's hay fever is better the farther north
she gets. On the day we were leaving, Mr. Ostermaier came to see
"I--I really must protest, ladies," he said. "That sort of thing
may be all right for savages, but--"
"Are we not as intelligent as savages?" Tish demanded.
"Primitive people are inured to hardships, and besides, they
have methods of their own. They can make fire--" "So can I,"
retorted Tish. "Any fool can make a fire with a rubbing-stick.
It's been done in thirty-one seconds."
"If you would only take some matches," he wailed, "and a good
revolver, Miss Letitia. And--you must pardon this, but I have
your well--being at heart--if I could persuade you to take along
some--er--flannels and warm clothing!"
"Clothing," said Tish loftily, "is a matter of habit, Mr.
I think he got the idea from this that we intended to discard
clothing altogether, for he went away almost immediately,
looking rather upset, and he preached on the following Sunday
from "Consider the lilies of the field . . . . Even Solomon in
all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."
We left on Monday evening, and by Tuesday at noon we were at our
destination, as far as the railroad was concerned. Tish had a
map with the lake we'd picked out, and we had figured that we'd
drive out to within ten miles or so of it and then send the
driver back. The lake was in an uninhabited neighborhood, with
the nearest town twenty-five miles away. We had one suitcase
containing our blankets, sandals, short dresses, soap, hairpins,
salt-box, knives, scissors, and a compass, and the leather
thongs for rabbit snares that we had had cut at a harness shop.
In the other suitcase was the tepee.
We ate a substantial breakfast at Tish's suggestion, because we
expected to be fairly busy the first day, and there would be no
time for hunting. We had to walk ten miles, set up the tent,
make a fire and gather nuts and berries. It was about that time,
I think, that I happened to recall that it was early for nuts.
Still there would be berries, and Tish had added mushrooms to
We found a man with a spring wagon to drive us out and Tish
showed him the map.
"I guess I can get you out that way," he said, "but I ain't
heard of no camp up that direction."
"Who said anything about a camp?" snapped Tish. "How much to
drive us fifteen miles in that direction?"
"Fifteen miles! Well, about five dollars, but I think--"
"How much to drive us fifteen miles without thinking?"
"Ten dollars," said the man; and as he had the only wagon in the
town we had to pay it.
It was a lovely day, although very warm. The morning sun turned
the woods to fairylike glades. Tish sat on the front seat, erect
and staring ahead.
Aggie bent over and touched my arm lightly. "Isn't she
wonderful!" she whispered; "like some adventurer of old--Balboa
discovering the Pacific Ocean, or Joan of Arc leading the what-
But somehow my enthusiasm was dying. The sun was hot and there
were no berry-bushes to be seen. Aggie's fairy glades in the
woods were filled, not with dancing sprites, but with gnats. I
wanted a glass of iced tea, and some chicken salad, and talcum
powder down my neck. The road was bad, and the driver seemed to
have a joke to himself, for every now and then he chuckled, and
kept his eyes on the woods on each side, as if he expected to
see something. His manner puzzled us all.
"You can trust me not to say anything, ladies," he said at last,
"but don't you think you're playing it a bit low down? This
ain't quite up to contract, is it?"
"You've been drinking!" said Tish shortly.
After that he let her alone, but soon after he turned round to
me and made another venture.
"In case you need grub, lady," he said,"--and them two suitcases
don't hold a lot,--I'll bring out anything you say: eggs and
butter and garden truck at market prices. I'm no
phylanthropist," he said, glaring at Tish, "but I'd be glad to
help the girl, and that's the truth. I been married to this here
wife o' mine quite a spell, and to my first one for twenty
years, and I'm a believer in married life."
"What girl?" I asked.
He turned right round in the seat and winked at me.
"All right," he said. "I'll not butt in unless you need me. But
I'd like to know one thing: He hasn't got a mother, he says, so
I take it you're his aunts. Am I on, ladies?"
We didn't know what he was talking about, and we said so. But he
only smiled. A mile or so from our destination the horse scared
up a rabbit, and Tish could hardly be restrained from running
after it with a leather thong. Aggie, however, turned a little
"I'll never be able to eat one, never!" she confided to me. "Did
you see its eyes? Lizzie, do you remember Mr. Wiggins's eyes?
and the way he used to move his nose, just like that?"
At the end of fifteen miles the driver drew up his horses and
took a fresh chew of tobacco.
"I guess this is about right," he said. "That trail there'll
take you to the lake. How long do you reckon it'll be before
you'll need some fresh eggs?"
"We are quite able to look after ourselves," said Tish with
hauteur, and got out of the wagon. She paid him off at once and
sat down on her suitcase until he had driven out of sight. He
drove slowly, looking back every now and then, and his last view
of us must have been impressive--three middle-aged and
determined women ready to conquer the wilderness, as Tish put
it, and two suitcases.
It was as solitary a place as we could have wished. We had not
seen a house in ten miles, and when the last creak of the wagon
had died away there was a silence that made our city-broke ears
fairly ache. Tish waited until the wagon was out of sight; then
she stood up and threw out her arms.
"At last!" she said. "Free to have a lodge in some vast
wilderness--to think, to breathe, to expand! Lizzie, do you
suppose if we go back we can get that rabbit?"
I looked at my watch. It was one o'clock and there was not a
berry-bush in sight. The drive had made me hungry, and I'd have
eaten a rabbit that looked like Mr. Wiggins and called me by
name if I'd had it. But there was absolutely no use going back
for the one we'd seen on our drive.
Aggie was opening her suitcase and getting out her costume,
which was a blue calico with short sleeves and a shoe-top skirt.
"Where'll I put it on?" she asked, looking about her.
"Right here!" Tish replied. "For goodness sake, Aggie, try to
discard false modesty and false shame. We're here to get close
to the great beating heart of Nature. Take off your switch
before you do another thing."
None of us looked particularly well, I admit; but it was
wonderful how much more comfortable we were. Aggie, who is very
thin, discarded a part of her figure, and each of us parted with
some pet hypocrisy. But I don't know that I have ever felt
better. Only, of course we were hungry.
We packed our things in the suitcases and hid them in a hollow
tree, and Tish suggested looking for a spring. She said water
was always the first requisite and fire the second.
"Fire!" said Aggie. "What for? We've nothing to cook."
Well, that was true enough, so we sent Aggie to look for water
and Tish and I made a rabbit snare. We made a good many snares
and got to be rather quick at it. They were all made like this
First Tish, with her book open in front of her, made a running
noose out of one of the buckskin thongs. Next we bent down a
sapling and tied the noose to it, and last of all we bound the
free part of the thong round a snag and thus held the sapling
down. The idea is that a rabbit, bounding along, presumably with
his eyes shut, will stick his head through the noose, kick the
line clear of the snag and be drawn violently into the air. Tish
figured that by putting tip half a dozen snares we'd have three
or four rabbits at least each day.
It was about three when we finished, and we drew off to a safe
distance to watch the rabbit bound to his doom. But no rabbits
I was very empty and rather faint, but Tish said she had never
been able to think so clearly, and that we were all overfed and
stodgy and would be better for fasting.
Aggie came in at three-thirty with a hornet sting and no water.
She said there were no springs, but that she had found a place
where a spring had existed before the dry spell, and there was a
naked footprint in the mud, quite fresh! We all went to look at
it, and Tish was quite positive it was not a man's footprint at
all, but only a bear's.
"A bear!" said Aggie.
"What of it?" Tish demanded. "The 'Young Woodsman' says that no
bear attacks a human unless he is hungry, and at this time of
the year with the woods full of food--"
"Humph!"--I could not restrain myself--"I wish you would show me
a little of it. If no rabbit with acute melancholia comes along
to commit suicide by hanging on that gallows of yours, I think
we'll starve to death."
"There will be a rabbit," Tish said tersely; and we started back
to the snare.
I was never so astonished in my life. There was a rabbit! It
seems we had struck a runway without knowing it, although Tish
said afterward that she had recognized it at once from the
rabbit tracks. Anyhow, whether it died of design or curiosity,
our supper was kicking at the top of the sapling, and Tish
pretended to be calm and to have known all along that we'd get
one. But it was not dead.
We got it down somehow or other and I held it by the ears while
it kicked and scratched. I was hungry enough to have eaten it
alive, but Aggie began to cry.
"You'll be murderers, nothing else," she wailed. "Look at his
little white tail and pitiful baby eyes!"
"Good gracious, Aggie," Tish snapped, "get a knife and cut its
throat while I make a fire. If it's any help to you, we're not
going to eat either its little white tail or its pitiful baby
As a matter of fact Aggie wouldn't touch the rabbit and I did
not care much about it myself. I do not like to kill things. My
Aunt Sarah Mackintosh once killed a white hen that lived twenty
minutes without its head; two weeks later she dreamed that that
same hen, without a head, was sitting on the footboard of the
bed, and the next day she got word that her cousin's husband in
Sacramento had died of the hiccoughs.
It ended with Tish giving me the fire-making materials and
stalking off into the woods with the rabbit in one hand and the
knife in the other.
Tish is nothing if not thorough, but she seemed to me
inconsistent. She brought blankets and a canvas tepee and
sandals and an aluminum kettle, but she disdained matches. I
rubbed with that silly drill and a sort of bow arrangement until
my wrists ached, hut I did not get even a spark of fire. When
Tish came back with the rabbit there was no fire, and Aggie had
taken out her watch crystal and was holding it in the sun over a
pile of leaves.
Tish got out the "Young Woodsman" from the suitcase. It seems I
had followed cuts I and II, but had neglected cut III, which is:
Hold the left wrist against the left shin, and the left foot on
the fireblock. I had got my feet mixed and was trying to hold my
left wrist against my right shin, which is exceedingly difficult.
Tish got a fire in fourteen minutes and thirty-one seconds by
Aggie's watch, and had to wear a bandage on her hand for a week.
But we had a fire. We cooked the rabbit, which proved to be much
older than Aggie had thought, and ate what we could. Personally
I am not fond of rabbit, and our enjoyment was rather chastened
by the fear that some mushrooms Tish had collected and added to
the stew were toadstools incognito. To make things worse, Aggie
saw some goldenrod nearby and began to sneeze.
It was after five o'clock, but it seemed wisest to move on toward
"Even if we don't make it," said Tish, "we'll be on our way, and
while that bear is likely harmless we needn't thrust temptation
in his way."
We carried the fire with us in the kettle and we took turns with
the tepee, which was heavy. Our suitcases with our city clothes
in them we hid in a hollow tree, and one after the other, with
Aggie last, we started on.
The trail, which was a sort of wide wagon road at first, became
a footpath; as we went on even that disappeared at times under
fallen leaves. Once we lost it entirely, and Aggie, falling over
a hidden root, stilled the fire. She became exceedingly
disagreeable at about that time, said she was sure Tish's
mushrooms were toadstools because she felt very queer, and
suddenly gave a yell and said she had seen something moving in
We all looked, and the bushes were moving.
It was dusk by that time and the path was only a thread between
masses of undergrowth. Tish said if it was the bear he would be
afraid of the fire, so we put dry leaves in the kettle and made
quite a blaze. By its light Tish read that bears in the summer
are full fed and really frolicsome and that they are awful
cowards. We felt quite cheered and brave, and Tish said if he
came near to throw the fire kettle at him and he'd probably die
It was too late to put up the tepee, so we found a clearing near
the path and decided to spend the night there. Aggie still
watched the bushes and wanted to spend the night in a tree; but
Tish's calmness was a reproach to us both, and after we had
emptied the kettle and made quite a fire to keep off animals, we
unrolled our blankets and prepared for sleep. I could have slept
anywhere, although I was still rather hungry. My last view was
of Tish in the firelight grimly bending down a sapling and
fastening a rabbit snare to it.
During the night I was wakened by somebody clutching my arm. It
was Aggie who lay next to me. When I raised my head she pointed
off into the woods to our left. At a height of perhaps four feet
from the ground a ghastly red glow was moving rapidly away from
us. It was not a torch; it was more a radiance, and it moved not
evenly, but jerkily. I could feel the very hair rising on my
head and it was all I could do to call Tish. When we had roused
her, however, the glow had faded entirely and she said we had
had a nightmare.
The snare the next morning contained a skunk, and we moved on as
quickly as possible, without attempting to secure the thong, of
which we had several. We gathered some puffballs to soak for
breakfast and in a clearing I found some blackberry bushes. We
were very cheerful that morning, for if we could capture rabbits
and skunks, we were sure of other things, also, and soon we
would be able to add fish to our menu. True, we had not had much
time to commune with our souls, and Aggie's arms were so
sunburned that she could not bend them at the elbows. But, as
Tish said, we had already proved our contention that we could
get along without men or houses or things. Things, she said,
were the curse of modern life; we filled our lives with things
instead of thoughts.
It was when we were ready to cook the puffballs that we missed
the kettle! Tish was very angry; she said it was evident that
the bear was mischievous and that all bears were thieves. (See
the "Young Woodsman.") But I recalled the glow of the night
before, and more than once I caught Aggie's eyes on me, filled
with consternation. For we had seen that kettle leaving the camp
with some of our fire in it, and bears are afraid of fire!
We reached the lake at noon and it seemed as if we might soon
have time to sit down and rest. But there was a great deal to
do. Aggie was of no assistance on account of her arms, so Tish
and I put up the tent. The "Young Woodsman" said it was easy.
First you tied three long poles together near the top and stood
them up so they made a sort of triangle. Then you cut about a
dozen and filled in between the three. That looked easy, but it
took an afternoon, and our first three looked like this first
AS THE FIRST THREE LOOKED
AS THEY SHOULD HAVE LOOKED
We had caught a rabbit by noon, and Aggie being unfit for other
work, and the kettle being gone, Tish set her to roasting it. It
was not very good, but we ate some, being ravenous. The method
was simplicity itself--two forked sticks in the ground, one
across to hang the rabbit to and a fire beneath. It tasted rather
In the afternoon we finished putting up the tepee, and Tish made
a fishhook out of a hairpin and tied it to a strong creeper I
had found. But we caught no fish. We had more rabbit for supper,
with some puffballs smoked and a few huckleberries. But by that
time the very sight of a rabbit sickened me, and Aggie began to
talk about broiled beefsteak and fried spring chicken.
We had seen no sign of the bear, or whatever it was, all day, and
it seemed likely we were not to be again disturbed. But a most
mysterious thing occurred that very night.
As I have said, we had caught no fish. The lake was full of them.
We sat on a bank that evening and watched them playing leapfrog,
and talked about frying them on red-hot stones, but nothing came
near the hairpin. At last Tish made a suggestion.
"We need worms," she said. "A grasshopper loses all his spirit
after he's been immersed for an hour, but a worm will keep on
wriggling and attracting attention for half a day."
"I wanted to bring a spade," said I.
But Tish had read of a scheme for getting worms that she said the
game warden of some place or other had guaranteed officially.
"You stick a piece of wood about two feet into the ground in a
likely spot," she said, "and rub a rough piece of bark or plank
across the top. This man claims, and it sounds reasonable, that
the worms think it is raining and come up for water. All you have
to do is to gather them up."
Tish found a pole for the purpose on the beach and set to work,
while Aggie and I prepared several hooks and lines. The fish
were jumping busily, and it seemed likely we should have more
than we could do to haul them in.
The experiment, however, failed entirely, for not a single worm
appeared. Tish laid it to the fact that it was very late and
that the worms were probably settled down for the night. It may
have been that, or it may have been the wrong kind of wood.
The mysterious happening was this: We rose quite early because
the tepee did not seem to be well anchored and fell down on us at
daybreak. Tish went down to the beach to examine the lines that
had been out all night, and found nothing. She was returning
rather dispirited to tell us that it would be rabbit again for
breakfast, when she saw lying on a flat stone half a dozen
beautiful fish, one or two still gasping, in our lost kettle!
Tish said she stood there, opening and shutting her mouth like
the fish. Then she gave a whoop and we came running. At first we
thought they might have been jumping and leaped out on to the
beach by accident, but, as Tish said, they would hardly have
landed all together and into a kettle that had been lost for two
nights and a day. The queer thing was that they had not been
caught with a hook at all. They hadn't a mark on them.
We were so hungry that we ate every one of then for breakfast.
It was only when we had eaten, and were sitting gorged and not
caring whether the tent was set up again or not, that we fell to
wondering about the fish. Tish fancied it might have been the
driver of the spring wagon, but decided he'd have sold us the
fish at thirty cents a pound live weight.
All day long we watched for a sign of our benefactor, but we saw
nothing. Tish set up more rabbit snares; not that she wanted
rabbits, but it had become a mania with her, and there were so
many of them that as they grew accustomed to us they sat round
our camp in a ring and criticized our housekeeping. She thought
if she got a good many skins she could have a fur robe made for
her automobile. As a matter of fact she found another use for
It was that night, then, that we were sitting round the camp-
fire on stones that we had brought up from the beach. We had
seen nothing more of the bear, and if we had been asked we
should have said that the nearest human being was twenty-five
Suddenly a voice came out of the woods just behind us, a man's
"Please don't be alarmed," said the voice. "But may I have a
little of your fire? Mine has gone out again."
"G-g-g-good gracious!" said Aggie. "T-Tish, get your revolver!"
This was for effect. Tish had no revolver.
All of us had turned and were staring into the woods behind, but
we could see no one. After Aggie's speech about the revolver it
was some time before the voice spoke again.
"Never mind, Aggie," Tish observed, very loud. "The revolver is
here and loaded--as nice a little thirty-six as any one needs
here in the woods."
She said afterward that she knew all the time there was no
six caliber revolver, but in the excitement she got it mixed with
her bust measure. Having replied to Aggie, Tish then turned in
the direction of the voice.
"Don't skulk back there," she called. "Come out, where we can see
you. If you look reliable, we'll give you some fire, of course."
There was another pause, as if the stranger were hesitating.
"I think I'd better not," he said with reluctance in his voice.
"Can't you toss a brand this way?"
By that time we had grown accustomed to the darkness, and I
thought I could see in the shadow of a tree a lightish figure.
Aggie saw it at the same instant and clutched my arm.
"Lizzie!" she gasped.
It was at that moment that Tish tossed the brand. It fell far
short, but her movement caught the stranger unawares. He ducked
behind the tree, but the flare of light had caught him. With the
exception of what looked like a pair of bathing-trunks he was as
bare as my hand!
There was a sort of astonished silence. Then the voice called
out:--"Why in the world didn't you warn me?" it said, aggrieved.
"I didn't know you were going to throw the blamed thing."
We had all turned our backs at once and Tish's face was awful.
"Take it and go," she said, without turning. "Take it and go."
>From the crackling of leaves and twigs we judged that he had
come out and got the brand, and when he spoke again it was from
farther back in the woods.
"You know," he said, "I don't like this any more than you do.
I've got forty-two mosquito bites on my left arm."
He waited, as if for a reply; but getting none he evidently
retreated. The sound of rustling leaves and crackling twigs grew
fainter, fainter still, died away altogether. We turned then
with one accord and gazed through the dark arches of the forest.
A glowing star was retreating there--a smouldering fire, that
seemed to move slowly and with an appearance of dejection.
It was the second time Aggie and I had seen fire thus carried
through the wood; but whereas about the kettle there had been a
glow and radiance that was almost triumphant, the brand we now
watched seemed smouldering, dejected, ashamed. Even Tish felt
"The wretch!" she exclaimed. "Daring to come here like that! No
wonder he's ashamed."
But Aggie, who is very romantic, sat staring after the distant
"Mr. Wiggins suffered so from mosquitoes," she said softly.
The next morning we found more fish awaiting us, and on the
smooth sand of the beach was a message written with a stick:--
If you will leave a wire hairpin or two on this stone I
can get bigger fish. What do you mean to do with all
those rabbit skins? (Signed) P.
Tish was touched by the fish, I think. She smoothed off the sand
carefully and wrote a reply:--
Here are the hairpins. Thank you. Do you want the rabbit
skins? L. C.
All day we were in a state of expectancy. The mosquitoes were
very bad, and had it not been for the excitement of the P--
person I should have given up and gone home. I wanted mashed
potatoes and lima beans with butter dressing, and a cup of hot
tea, and muffins, and ice--in fact, I cannot think of anything I
did not want, except rabbits and fish and puffballs and such
blackberries as the birds did not fancy. Although we were well
enough--almost too well--the better I felt the hungrier I got.
Tish thought the time had now come to rest and invite our souls.
She set the example that day by going out on a flat rock in the
lake and preparing to think all the things she'd been waiting
most of her life to consider.
"I am ready to form my own opinions about some things," she said.
"I realize now that all my life the newspapers and stupid people
and books have formed my opinions. Now I'm going to think along
my own lines. Is there another life after this? Do I really
desire the suffrage? Why am I a Baptist?"
Aggie said she would like to invite her soul that day also, not
to form any opinions,--Tish always does that for her,--but she
had to get some clothes in September and she might as well think
So it happened that I was alone when I met the P-- person's
I had intended to wander only a short way along the trail, but
after I had gone a mile or two it occurred to me as likely that
the spring-wagon driver would come back that way before long out
of curiosity, and I thought I might leave a message for him to
bring out some fresh eggs and leave them there. I could tell
Tish I had found a nest, or perhaps, since that would be lying,
I could put them in a nest and let her find them. I'd have
ordered tea, too, if I could have thought of any way to account
"I'm going to do some meditating myself to-day," I remarked,
"but I think better when I'm moving. If I don't come back in an
hour or so don't imagine I've been kidnaped."
Tish turned on her stone and looked at me.
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