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A Romance of Billy-Goat Hill by Alice Hegan Rice

Part 4 out of 6

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"She's in the library, mam."

Margery, pale and listless, turned from the window as her mother
entered.

"I was just watching for Miss Lady," she said; "it will be rather
amusing to see her and Connie at their first big party."

"I hope she won't wear that childish dress she was married in. It is
all right for Connie to affect white muslin and blue ribbons, but
Cousin John's wife ought to wear something that makes her look older.
Why, with that short gown, and the way she wears her hair, she looks
like a schoolgirl!"

"She looks very beautiful."

"Of course she does, but what good does it do her? Here at the end of
four months she has made practically no headway. Not that she didn't
have every opportunity! People were quite ready to take her up, but
she simply wouldn't let them. What can you expect of a person who says
that bridge and boned gowns make her back ache? She hasn't an idea in
her head beyond the Doctor, the children and a lot of paupers. I must
say I am terribly disappointed in her. But then I ought to be used to
disappointments by this time. What will she be when she's middle-
aged?"

"She'll never be middle-aged," Margery smiled; "she'll go on being
young and making people around her feel young. Father says she is the
only person he knows who makes him forget his age. By the way, where
is Father?"

"Delayed in town as usual. He'll probably motor out when the evening
is half over and be too tired to be polite. I've never seen him so
upset. Of course it's your broken engagement. He says we may have to
close the house, now that we've gotten into it, and go abroad to
reduce expenses, but of course that's ridiculous! That reminds me, did
the Hortons send regrets?"

"She did," said Margery absently.

"Oh, dear, that means he'll be here! He's so horribly fastidious, he's
sure to make remarks about my putting an Italian loggia on a Louis XVI
drawing-room. It does seem that with all the time and money we've
spent on this place--Isn't that the carriage?"

"Yes, I hear Miss Lady laughing."

As the front door swung open two bundled-up figures hurried into the
hall, bringing a gust of youth and merriment along with the keen night
air.

"I hope we are the first guests," cried Miss Lady, shaking a scarf
from her head, "because we have had an accident. We both fell down.
Connie slipped on the step and I sat down on top of her. There was an
awful rip and we don't know whose it is! I'm afraid to take my coat
off!"

"But where is the Doctor?" cried Mrs. Sequin in dismay.

"Father would love to have come," began Connie glibly, but Miss Lady
broke in: "I don't think he really wanted to come, Mrs. Sequin. He
said he would be ever so much happier up in his study, playing
pinocle, than sitting out here in a straight-back gilt chair eating
ice cream. Perhaps you think I oughtn't to have come without him?"

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Mrs. Sequin. "I get perfectly exasperated when
Cousin John does this way. There were at least a half dozen people I'd
promised to introduce to him. If he had no consideration for me he
ought to have for you. He has been keeping you at home entirely too
much. He forgets that you are twenty years his junior; he expects you
to act as if you were forty."

"No, he doesn't," protested Miss Lady loyally; "the Doctor never
expects anything of anybody that isn't right. He urged me to come,
didn't he, Connie?"

But Connie was absorbed in a trailing flounce that hung limply about
her feet.

"Look!" she cried tragically; "it's torn clear across the front. What
shall I do?"

"Margery's gowns would all be too long for you," said Mrs. Sequin,
viewing the rent through her lorgnette, "perhaps Marie can do
something with this."

"I won't wear it all tacked up!" cried Connie on the verge of tears;
"I'll go home first--"

"No, you won't," said Miss Lady; "this is your first grown-up party
and you've been counting on it for weeks. You are going to change
dresses with me. I don't mind a bit being hiked up a little, and,
besides, nobody's going to notice me."

"That's perfectly absurd!" exclaimed Mrs. Sequin indignantly; "you
_must_ remember who you are, and that everybody is noticing you. Why
can't _you_ wear one of Margery's dresses, and let Connie have yours?"

"All right, I'll wear anything you say. Don't you dare cry, Connie!
I'll never forgive you if you make your nose red. Listen! The
musicians are tuning up! May I have the first waltz, madam?" and
seizing Mrs. Sequin by her plump gloved hands, she danced that august
person down the long hall.

"Let me go, you ridiculous child," laughed Mrs. Sequin, hurrying her
up the steps; "the motors are coming up the hill now. Make her look as
pretty as you can, Marie, and hurry!"

At a distance the brilliant, moving lights of automobiles and the
dimmer ones of carriages could be seen approaching, and very soon
under the blaze of the porch lights, hurrying figures in furs,
rustling satin, and soft velvets were being ushered formally into the
big reception hall.

Mrs. Sequin, mounted on her highest social stilts, stood with Margery
in the alcove, so carefully planned for another occasion. A ball to be
sure was a poor substitute for a wedding, but Mrs. Sequin was not one
to waste her energies on vain regret. The ball was going to be a
success; already the rooms were filling rapidly with the people Mrs.
Sequin most desired to see. Old Mrs. Marchmont had risen from a sick
bed to drive out from town and bare her ancient bones in honor of the
occasion. Mrs. Bartrum had taken possession of the most becoming
corner in the library and was holding gay court there; the young
people were thronging from one room to another; everybody was laughing
and chatting and exclaiming over the charms of the new house. In fact
the complacency of the hostess over her achievement was only surpassed
by the curiosity of the guests who were confirming with their own eyes
the wild rumors which had been current of the Sequins' extravagance.

Mr. Horton, the local architect who had not been considered of
sufficient renown to make the plans for the house, wandered from room
to room on a quiet tour of inspection. Mrs. Sequin's fears of his
judgment were not without cause, for Mr. Horton was one of those
critics whose advice one always ignores but whose approval one
ardently desires. He was a trim, immaculate person with short, pointed
beard, and narrow, critical eyes that always seemed to be taking
measurements. Passing from the Dutch dining-room, with its blue tile,
and old pewter, he paused in the doorway of the drawing-room where the
dancing had already begun. His glance, taking in everything from the
gilded fluting of the panels to the bronze heads on the upright lines
of the marble mantels, rested at last upon an object which evidently
gave his critical taste complete satisfaction.

A young girl had paused near him and was eagerly watching the dancers.
She presented a harmony in green and gold, from her shining hair
caught in a loose coil low on her neck, to her small gold slippers
that tapped time to the music. The clinging gown of pale green that
fell in loose lines from her shoulders was veiled in deep-toned lace,
revealing her round white throat and long shapely arms, bare from
shoulder to finger tips. Horton smiled unconsciously as he watched her
eager, responsive face, and felt the suppressed vitality in every
movement of her slender body.

"Who is she?" he asked of Cropsie Decker, who stood near.

"Who's who?"

"That radiant young thing in green. She doesn't belong in a ballroom,
she belongs in a forest with ivy leaves in her hair. By Jove, look at
the lines of her, and the freedom of her movements. I haven't seen
such arms in years!"

Cropsie followed his glance: "Oh, that's the new Mrs. Queerington,--
the wife of John Jay, you know."

"But I mean the young girl going through the door there, with the
wonderful hair, and the profile?"

"That's Mrs. Queerington. Isn't she a stunner? Everybody's talking
about her to-night. I'll introduce you if you like."

Horton followed him around the outer edge of the dancers, still
confident that Cropsie had made a mistake. But when he was duly
presented there was no longer room for doubt.

"I hope I'm not too late to claim a dance," he said. "I always make it
a point to dance but once during an evening, and that with the most
beautiful woman on the floor. I hope you aren't going to let these
young sharks cut me out of my dance?"

Miss Lady lifted a pair of sparkling, excited eyes to his. From the
moment when she had appeared, half timidly in her borrowed feathers
and taken refuge under Mrs. Sequin's experienced wing, she had been
the sensation of the evening. Adroitly conveyed from one group to
another she had left enthusiasm in her wake. She was evidently
enjoying to the utmost the novelty of receiving homage from one black-
coated courtier after another, and of hearing delightful things about
herself. The only apparent drawback to her pleasure was when she was
compelled to say as she did now:

"Thank you ever so much, but I'm not dancing."

"Not dancing?" repeated Mr. Horton, not unmindful of the whiteness of
her shoulders against the dark marble of a neighboring pedestal,--
'"Why not?"

"The Doctor and I have given up dancing."

"Oh, so he doesn't allow you to dance?"

"Allow me?" she lifted her level brows, smiling. "He simply doesn't
care for it."

"And you don't care for it either?"

"Oh, yes, I do, I care for it too much. That's why I'm not dancing."

"But you _are_ dancing. You've been dancing ever since you came in.
I've watched you. Mightn't you just as well be dancing with me, as
dancing by yourself?"

She laughed and shook her head, but her foot continued to pat the
time, and her eyes followed the swaying couples that swung past.

"What's the Doctor's objection?" Mr. Horton urged.

"He thinks it's undignified for married women to dance, and I guess I
do, too, only--" Miss Lady sighed,--"you see, I keep forgetting that I
_am_ a married woman!"

"You certainly make other people want to forget it," then his eyes
dropped before the childlike candor of her gaze. "Come now, Mrs.
Queerington, aren't you taking matrimony a little seriously?"

"Perhaps I am, but I'm new, you know, and I've an awful lot to
learn."

"Hasn't it ever occurred to you that the Doctor might have something
to learn?"

"No," she said brightly, "he knows everything. I sometimes wish he
didn't. I'd be proud if I could teach him even _that_ much!" and she
measured off the amount on the tip of her little finger.

"Perhaps he isn't as good a pupil as you are. You should take him to
see 'Harnessing a Husband,' at the Ardmore this week."

"A play? I'd love to go to the theater just once."

"You've never been? How extraordinary! Come with Mrs. Horton and me on
Friday night and let us share your first thrill."

"May I?" Miss Lady began eagerly, then checking herself, "I'm afraid
the Doctor doesn't care much about the modern stage. He used to enjoy
seeing the great actors, but he says the plays they put on now bore
him fearfully. Mayn't we come to call sometime instead?"

"As you like," said Mr. Horton, shrugging, "but I hope you realize
that you are spoiling that learned husband of yours. Instead of
adapting yourself to him, make him adapt himself to you. Come now,
isn't it about time for you to reform? Why not begin by finishing this
dance with me?"

Still she laughed and shook her head. "It isn't that I don't want to!
I'd rather dance than do anything in the world--except ride
horseback."

"I might have known you were a horsewoman. Do you ride much?"

"Not now."

"The Doctor doesn't care for it, I suppose?"

She flashed a questioning glance at him, then she looked away:

"No," she said, "he doesn't care for it."

Cropsie Decker, who had been hovering in her vicinity, now came up and
claimed the next number.

"There's a bully little corner in the conservatory where we can sit
out this waltz. You won't mind if I carry her off, Mr. Horton?"

"Not if she takes to heart some of the wise things I've been telling
her," said Horton, looking at her through his narrow eyes and pulling
at his small, fair mustache. "Au revoir, Madame Beaux Yeux!"

Miss Lady did not move from the spot where he left her. Out under the
palms in the hall, the orchestra was beginning one of Strauss' most
distracting waltzes; her fingers tapped the time. Suddenly she held
out her hand to Cropsie.

"I can't stand it another minute! I've got to dance once if I never
dance again!"

Every eye in the ballroom followed the slender figure, as it circled
in and out among the throng. Miss Lady danced with the grace and
abandonment of a child. She had given herself utterly to the joy of
the moment. She was letting herself go for the first time since her
marriage, following the glad impulse of her heart, and dancing as a
Bacchante might have danced alone on a moonlight night in some forest
glade.

When at last the music stopped Cropsie drew her into the conservatory.

"Here, come around this palm, quick! They'll all be after you for the
next dance. Gerald Ivy is charging around now looking for you, and so
is Mr. Horton. Sit there in the window and cool off!"

She sank laughing and breathless on the window sill. All the
exhilaration of the dance was in her eyes, her lips were parted, her
cheeks flushed, and a strand of loosened hair fell across her
shoulder.

It was at this moment that wheels sounded on the driveway below,
caused her to lean idly out to see who was coming. A wagon stopped at
the side entrance, and a man alighted. Uncle Jimpson's voice was heard
asking a question, then came the other man's voice, in quick, incisive
answer.

Miss Lady, sitting motionless, looking down, turned suddenly from the
window. The color had left her face and her hand trembled visibly
against the curtain.

"What's the matter?" cried Cropsie; "are you ill? Did you dance too
long?"

"It's nothing, I'm all right. That is I will be--"

"Can't I get you some water, or an ice, or call Mrs. Sequin?"

"No, no, please! It's nothing. I'll slip off to the dressing-room
until I feel better. I can go through here up the side stairs."

"Wait, I'll go with you. You are as white as if you'd seen a ghost!"

But before he could join her she had disappeared into mysterious
regions where he dared not follow.

CHAPTER XVII

During the course of that Christmas night, there was one member of the
Sequin household who failed to thrill with the holiday spirit, and
whose depression steadily increased as the evening wore on. The great
occasion of which Uncle Jimpson had dreamed all his life, had at last
arisen, and instead of being allowed to rise with it, and prove his
indisputable right to butlerhood, he had been detailed to drive back
and forth to the station over that same humdrum Cane Run Road that he
and Old John had helped to wear away for the past quarter of a
century!

To be sure, a neat depot wagon and a spirited young sorrel had
replaced the ancient buggy and the apostolic nag, but these fell far
short of Uncle Jimpson's dreams. A coach and four at that moment would
not have compensated him for the fact that a complaisant, red-headed
furnaceman, a "po' white trash" arrived but yesterday, was being
allowed to pass the tray that by all rights of precedence belonged to
him.

Waiting impatiently at the station for the train that was to bring the
elusive ices which he had been pursuing all evening, he at last had
the satisfaction of seeing the small engine crawl out of the darkness,
and come to a wheezing halt.

So engrossed were the conductor and brakeman and Uncle Jimpson in
safely depositing the freezers on the platform, that no one noticed a
passenger who had alighted. In fact, it was not until Uncle Jimpson
heard Mrs. Sequin's name that he paused from his labor and looked up.

The stranger was a young, well-built man, wearing a long, shaggy
overcoat, and a cap of a foreign cut that excited the immediate envy
of the brake-man. The bag and the suit case which he carried were
covered with foreign labels, and he had the air of a person who is
suddenly dropped down in a strange place and doesn't quite know what
to do with himself.

"You say you want to git up to Mrs. Sequin's to-night?" Uncle Jimpson
eyed the bags suspiciously. "'Scuse me, sir, but you ain't sellin'
nothin', is you?"

The laugh that greeted this was so spontaneous, that Uncle Jimpson
hastened to apologize: "I nebber thought you wuz, only we wasn't
lookin' fer no railroad company, an' I 'lowed you didn't look lak you
wuz comin' to de party."

"What party?" asked the man, his look of amusement giving place to one
of dismay.

"Our-alls party. We's havin' a ball an' a house-warmin'. You must be
comin' fum a long ways off not to be hearin' 'bout hit!"

"You mean the Sequins are having a party, tonight?"

"Yas, sir."

"But aren't they expecting me? Didn't they get my telegram?"

"I dunno, sir. Dey nebber said nothin' to me."

The stranger stood with feet apart, watch in hand, and a grim
expression on the only part of his face visible between his cap and
his upturned collar.

"What time is the next train back to town?"

"Dey ain't none, 'ceptin' de special, what's hired to take de party
back to town. Dat goes 'bout two o'clock."

"I'll wait for it," said the stranger, flinging his bag against the
waiting-room door and beginning to pace restlessly up and down the
snow-covered platform.

But this did not meet with Uncle Jimpson's ideas of hospitality.

"Dey nebber knowed you wuz comin'," he argued. "I jes know dey didn't.
But dat won't hinder 'em fum bein' powerful glad to see you. Better
git in, Boss, an' lemme dribe you up dere."

"No, there is evidently more room for me in town!"

"Room! Why, Mister, we could take keer of all de Presidents of de
Nunited States at one time! 'Sides, hit don't look right to leave you
a stompin' round here in de cold fer three or four hours by yourself.
You'd git powerful lonesome."

"I'm used to being lonesome. Haven't been anything else for a year."

"But dis heah is different," urged the old darkey, scratching his
head; "dis heah is Christmas night. Tain't natchul fer folks not to
git together an' laugh an' be happy an' fergit dere quarrels an' dere
troubles an' jollify deyselves. You know you ain't gwine be happy
stompin' round here in de dark by your loneself; you know dat ain't no
way to spend Christmas, Boss!"

The stranger continued to stare into the darkness for a moment, then
he laughed, that same sudden, infectious, boyish laugh that had
greeted Uncle Jimpson's suggestion that he was an agent.

"You're right!" he exclaimed; "this is no time to nurse a grouch.
Perhaps they didn't get the telegram. I'll risk it. Is there a side
door you could slip me in?"

"Yas, sir! We got four side doors, 'sides de back one. Ain't nuffin we
ain't got. You git right in de wagon, an' I'll hist de bags in.
'Tain't de way I'd like to kerry you up to de mansion, straddlin' a
ice-cream freezer wid de snow in yer face, but I'll git you dere!"

Uncle Jimpson, sure of an audience for at least twenty minutes, forgot
his wrongs and laid himself out to make the most of his opportunity.

It was very cold and the horse's hoofs beat hard on the frozen ground.
Beyond the wavering circle of light from the swaying lantern all was
dark and mysterious.

"I certainly is glad dem freezers come," said Uncle Jimpson, tucking
in the lap robe; "I shore would hate to go back widout 'em. De Cunnel
used to say dat was what niggers was born fer, to git what you sent
'em after."

"Who is the Colonel?" asked the stranger with a quick glance of
recognition at the old negro.

"Cunnel Bob Carsey. My old marster. He's dead now, an' Mrs. Sequin
she's done borrowed me fer a while."

"When did he die?"

"A year ago las' May."

The man in the foreign cap pulled it further over his eyes and resumed
his scrutiny of the road.

"Al dis heah hill used to b'long to us," Uncle Jimpson continued;
"long before de Sequinses ever wuz born. I spec' you've heard tell of
Thornwood?"

"Yes. Who lives there now?"

"Nobody. When de Cunnel died, my young Miss didn't hab nobody to take
keer ob her, nor no money to run de place, no nothin' 'ceptin' jus' me
an' Carline. Dey wasn't nothin' left fer her to do but git married."

A long pause followed during which the traveler watched the distorted
shadow of the trotting horse as it shambled along the road.

"'Course," the old darkey broke out presently, "Doctor Queerington is
a powerful smart gemman, an' he teks keer ob her jes' lak she wuz one
ob his own chillun. An' she's gittin' broke into de shafts, but hit's
gwine hard wid her. 'Tain't natchul to hitch a young filly up to a old
kerriage horse an' spec' her to keep step. She sorter holdin' back all
de time, kinder 'fraid to let loose an' carry on same as she use to."

They were going through the covered bridge now and the rattle of the
wheels on the loose boards made conversation difficult.

"Wuz you eber homesick, Boss?" asked Uncle Jimpson inconsequently.

"Rather," said the stranger emphatically. "I was born homesick."

"Well, dat's what ails my young Miss an' dat's whut's de matter wid me
an' Carline an' Mike. Ain't none ob us used to libin' in other folks'
houses an' mixin' up wid other folkses families. 'Course hit's mighty
fine to be rich an' put on airs, but hit's lonesome. 'Fore hit got so
cold, me an' Carline'd go down home most ebery night an' set round de
quarters, listenin' to de frogs an' de crickets, an' I'd say,'
Carline, don't you mind de time dat Miss Lady fell head fust into de
barrel ob sorghum? An' de time she made de chickens drunk often egg-
nog?' Nebber wus nobody in de world lak dat chile, up to ever
mischievousness dat ever wuz concocted, but jus' so sweet an' coaxin'
dat de Cunnel nebber knowed how to punish her."

The stranger took out a meerschaum pipe, started to light a match,
evidently forgot his intention, and looked absently ahead into the
darkness.

"Dis is Thornwood!" said Uncle Jimpson eagerly, pointing with his whip
up a long avenue of trees; "you can't see de house 'cause dey ain't no
lights in de winders. De Cunnel's paw set dem trees out de same year
he bought Carline. Lord, I certainly wuz gone on dat yaller gal! But I
didn't know nothin' 'bout courtin'. Carline she wuz better qualified
though, an' she made me ast Old Miss ef I couldn't hab her fer my
wife. We didn't need no Bible nor preacher, nor sech foolishness in
dem days. But when Old Miss wuz willin' we jus' dress up an' walk ober
de place an' tell all de niggers we wuz married. Umph, umph! But I wuz
proud dat day! I had on a bran' new pair ob pants dat cost two-hundred
an' sixty-fo' dollars in Confederate money! When Mr. Abe Lincum set us
niggers free, dey made us git married all ober agin wid a preacher an'
a Bible, but I never seed no diffunce."

"Does Mrs.--Mrs. Queerington ever come back to Thornwood?" asked the
stranger, stumbling over the name as if it were very hard for him to
say.

"Yas, sir, she comes jes' lak me an' Carline, an' wanders roun' de
house an' de garden, an' sets in de ole barrel hammock, studyin' to
herself."

"And Mike,--what became of him?"

Uncle Jimpson looked at him in surprise, "How'd you know about Mike,
Mister?"

"Didn't you speak of him a while ago; wasn't he the dog?"

"Yas, sir. He's our dog. He's stayin' wif Miss Ferney Foster what
libes down beyond de blacksmith's on de other side de pike. He don't
lak it no better'n we do; he's homesick, too."

They had reached a pretentious white gateway, and Uncle Jimpson,
recalled to a sense of his duties, drew himself up from his slouching
posture, crooked his elbow and rounded the curve as if he had been
driving a tally-ho. Through the bare trees above them blazed the
magnificent proportions of Angora Heights, with its pretentious
assembly of stables, garage and servants' quarters in the rear.

"Ye gods!" exclaimed the stranger under his breath; "is this all of
it?"

"Naw, _sir_!" Uncle Jimpson denied emphatically; "if hit wuz daytime
you could see de Ramparts an' de Estanade. Over dere is de Lygoon.
'Tain't nothin' shore 'nuff but our ole pond where we uster ketch
bullfrogs, but Mrs. Sequin she tole me to call hit de Lygoon. You see
dem carvins ober de door? Dat figger goin' up dat Egyptions stairway
is John Dark. Didn't you nebber heah 'bout John Dark? He wuz a woman
what fit a battle onct."

"Cut around to the side there, out of the way of the motors," directed
the stranger, who seemed much more concerned in making a quiet
entrance into the mansion than in studying its architectural features.
"Here's something to put in the toe of your Christmas stocking, and
another for Caroline. Hurry up!"

He vaulted lightly over the wheel and turned to take his bag. As he
did so the light from the conservatory window above fell full upon his
upturned face.

"Fore de Lawd!" cried Uncle Jimpson, a broad grin splitting his face
almost in two. "I might 'a' knowed dat de only gemman in de world what
tipped lak dat wuz Mr. Don Morley!"

CHAPTER XVIII

It is really a very difficult thing to snub Christmas. You may
relegate it to the class of nuisances, and turn your back on Santa
Claus, and vote the whole institution a gigantic bore, but before the
day is over it usually gets the better of you, as it did of Donald
Morley, arriving unannounced and unwelcomed at the side door of the
Sequin mansion.

It had gotten the better of him the year before when he had risen in
the gray dawn of an Indian day and stoically made his way to the banks
of the Ganges. It had proclaimed itself above the Vedic hymns of the
twice-born Brahmins, standing knee-deep in the sacred river; it had
dogged his footsteps among the ash-smeared fakirs, and jewel-hung
cows; it had even haunted the burning-ghat where he had stood and
watched human bodies burning on their pyres.

Eighteen months of wandering had made him sick of the casual; of the
steamer acquaintances formed at one port and dropped at the next; of
the unfamiliar sights and incomprehensible languages and the horde of
alien yellow faces. He was weary unto death of the freedom of the high
seas, and longed fervently for a strong anchor, and a quiet harbor.

When Cropsie Decker's explosive epistle had arrived telling him of his
indictment, of Margery's broken engagement, of Lee Dillingham's
treachery, his first thought was not of his wrongs, but of the fact
that they would necessitate his going home.

He did not stop to realize that going home meant but one thing to him.
He even tried to persuade himself that seeing Miss Lady in the role of
a happy, complaisant wife would cure him of his insatiable longing for
her. From the time he heard of her marriage he had striven desperately
to put her out of his mind, using every means but one to accomplish
his purpose. Through all his resentment and bitterness of heart, he
had never returned to his old life. Those promises made to her in the
full ardor of his boyish passion, he had kept with the hopeless
loyalty that one keeps the garments of the dead.

Now that he had been indicted for a crime of which he was wholly
innocent, his first desire was to know if she still believed in him.
To be sure, there were strong reasons why she should not: his own
confession of his shortcomings; the unfortunate complication in the
Dillingham affair; his subsequent disappearance. It was but natural
that she should have been brought to see the folly of pinning her
faith to such an unstable proposition as himself. His first agonized
protest against her marriage had given place to a stoical acceptance
of the fact. He was paying the price many a man has paid for the
follies of his youth, and he was ready to pay without a protest, if
only she could be made to understand the truth.

All that was best in him demanded justice from her, the justice he had
pleaded for in that long letter sent from San Francisco. Going home
for him meant not only a trial by jury and a verdict of guilty or
innocent. It meant far more. He would know from her own lips whether
she had ever received his letter, and whether or not she believed in
him. On her decision rested his faith in human nature and in God.

The sudden decision to return to America had been reached one night in
Port Said, where he had just joined an exploring expedition bound for
the Valley of the Kings. He cancelled his engagement, took passage on
a little Russian steamer that was bound for Alexandria, and too
impatient to wait for a liner from that port shipped on a freight boat
for Naples. The passage across the Atlantic had been a tempestuous
one, and he had landed in New York two days overdue, with no time to
notify the family of his arrival.

And now after eighteen months of exile in foreign lands he was
actually home again! That is if this resplendent, unfamiliar abode,
full of music and lights and strange servants, could be called home.
However, it was the nearest approach to one he could claim, and the
fact that the fatted calf had not been killed for him, and that the
law waited for him around the corner, did not prevent his pulse
quickening and his lips smiling as he took the side steps two at a
time, and entered the rear hall.

An officious, red-headed man stood in the pantry door with a napkin
over his arm, issuing peremptory orders and regulating the outcoming
and ingoing waiters. "Are you the butler?" asked Donald.

"Not yet," said the man, dropping one eyelid and assuming a
confidential air; "I can see she's after me, though. She got on to my
style the minute she seen me handle a tray of glasses. 'Flathers,' she
sez, 'you keep things movin' back there in the pantry, and do keep a
eye on John.' John's the butler. He's a drinkin' man, God be praised,
and I'm layin' fer his job. Are you a chauffeur?"

"No," said Donald good humoredly. "I'm a prodigal brother. Where have
I seen you before?"

"Can't say. If a person sees me once they never fergit me. It's me
golden glow. Come, boys! Hurry up! Hurry up with them cakes there. Git
them extry freezers unpacked. Git a move on yer."

"Take this card in to Mrs. Sequin," said Donald, "and ask her if she
can spare a moment to see a caller in the rear entry."

Phineas glanced suspiciously from the card to the stranger, then he
decided that he would not question the matter.

A moment later, Mrs. Sequin with her glittering draperies gathered
about her, and an expression of great perturbation on her features,
made her high-heeled way through the pantry.

"Donald! My dear boy!" she exclaimed effusively, presenting her cheek
with the caution of one who hopes the kiss will be light. "What on
earth are you doing here? We had no idea you were in America. How thin
you are! I've been in a perfect agony about you. Not those champagne
glasses, John; the larger ones. That tiresome butler! He has been
tipsy all day. Now, what about yourself, Donald? It is dreadfully
unwise for you to be here; you know of course of--of the indictment?"

"That's why I'm here. But how is everybody? How are Brother Basil and
little old Margery? Where's my saddle mare?"

"I'll tell you everything to-morrow, Don. You must want to go to your
room now. Flathers take this gentleman's bags up to the East guest-
room,--no, that's occupied. You won't mind going up another flight,
just for to-night, dear?"

"Oh, tuck me in anywhere, just so there's a bath handy."

"All the bedrooms have baths," said Mrs. Sequin absently, with her eye
on the befuddled butler who was trying to uncork a bottle with a
screwdriver, "Let Flathers--I mean Benson--do that, John, and you take
these bags. So sorry I can't go up with you myself, Don, but the
cotillion is just beginning, and I have to see to the favors."

"That's right, don't bother about me, I'll get into some decent togs
and be down again in a little while."

Mrs. Sequin paused with her hand on the banister, then she leaned
forward solicitously:

"I wouldn't take the trouble to dress and come down again, Don. It's
late and you must be dead tired. You go to bed. I'll understand."

Donald, standing a few steps above her, shot a questioning glance at
her, then he, too, understood.

"Oh, all right," he said, biting his lip; "I believe I won't come
down. You might send Marge up, after the people leave, just to say
'Hello.'"

"Of course, we'll both be up. Nothing could hold her if she knew you
were here. But it is better that nobody should know. I was careful not
to mention your name before the servants. You can have a nice little
visit with us, and get away again without any one being the wiser. It
is so lovely you got here in time for Christmas! _Good_ night."
She came up two steps and presented her other cheek for a kiss.

[Illustration: Mrs. Sequin paused with her hand on the bannister.]

The delinquent John, meanwhile, was performing acrobatic feats with
the bags, getting them so mixed up with his own legs and the stair
steps that Donald snatched them from him, and, eliciting a vague
direction concerning the room he was to occupy, went up to find it
alone.

He felt something of the hot rebellion and resentment that he had
experienced on another Christmas night in the long ago, when the
cross-eyed French nurse had put him to bed at five o'clock and left
him alone in the big hotel in Paris. Then he had cried himself to
sleep because there wasn't any Santa Claus and because he didn't have
a sweetheart. But the consolations of six are denied to twenty-five.

On the second floor he followed directions and turned to the right.
The dressing-rooms were deserted, the maids having taken their seats
on the steps to peep at the dancers below. He, too, paused, and looked
down at the gaily whirling throng. There was his old familiar world,
the fellows he had been through college with, the girls he had flirted
with, the very music he had danced to, times without numbers. And he
was as much out of it all as if he had died of the fever in that gray
old hospital in Singapore? Ah, if he only had!

He turned abruptly and started up the second flight of stairs, and as
he did so something rose precipitately from the steps, and fluttered
ahead of him.

He looked up and as he did so chaos broke loose within him. There at
the top, in the subdued light from the upper hall, startled,
uncertain, off her guard stood Miss Lady, not the pretty, harum-scarum
girl of his dreams, but a beautiful, wistful woman with trembling lips
and startled eyes, who held out her hands to him in involuntary
welcome.

He lost his head completely. All the blood in his body rushed to his
throat. Something sang through every fiber of him.

"Miss Lady!" he cried, catching the hands she extended in both of his,
then as she drew back from his too ardent look, he remembered. "I beg
your pardon of course it's Mrs. Queerington, now."

"Not to you, Don. When did you come? Are you well again? Didn't any
one know you were coming? Have the others seen you?"

She poured forth her questions eagerly, as if she feared another
pause. She was making a desperate effort to appear easy, but her
eagerness betrayed her. She repeated that she had no idea he was in
America, and took refuge in a general assurance that everybody would
be so glad to have him home again.

Donald, lean and tanned, stood silent, watching her searchingly. His
deep-set eyes were clearer and steadier than of old, but they were no
longer the eyes of a boy. He was like a mariner whose ship has been
wrecked. He had nothing worse to dread and nothing to hope for. He
simply desired to see the rock on which his life craft had smashed.

Miss Lady continued to ask questions, but she evidently did not always
heed the answers as she asked some of them twice over. It was not
until Donald's trouble was touched upon that her mood steadied and she
lost her self-consciousness.

"Of course you must stand the trial," she said, and her voice rang
with the old assurance; "you must fight the whole matter out once for
all, and prove your innocence."

"Oh, the Court will prove that all right, but what does it matter? If
people were willing to damn me without hearing, to believe that I had
shot a man's eye out, then run away to escape the punishment--Bah!
it's sickening."

"But everybody doesn't believe it. The Doctor doesn't, nor Margery,
nor Cropsie Decker, nor I. Hundreds of your friends are ready to stand
by you. Don't listen to what anybody else says, but stay and fight it
out."

He looked up suddenly. "Did you ever get that letter I wrote you
before I sailed from 'Frisco?"

He hadn't meant to blurt it out like that, the question that had
tortured him so long, but her sympathy and friendliness had unnerved
him.

Leaning forward with all his soul in his eyes, he watched the color
mount steadily from her throat to her cheeks, then to her brow. He
heard her draw a sharp, quivering breath as one who walks on a
precipice, then she faced him steadily.

"Yes, Donald," she said, meeting his gaze unflinchingly, "I got it."

He dropped his head on his hand where it rested on the banister, and
they stood for a moment in silence save for the strains of music that
came up from below. Then he straightened his shoulders.

"That's all. I had to make sure, you know. And you didn't believe in
me?"

Across her face quivered the desire for speech, and the necessity for
silence.

"I do believe in you, Don," she said earnestly. "I believe in you with
all my heart and soul. And we are going to be your friends; you'll let
us, the Doctor and me?"

He took the hand she offered, but he said nothing, and after she was
gone he went into his room, and flinging himself across the bed,
buried his face in the pillows.

CHAPTER XIX

The new year began inauspiciously at the Queerington's. In the first
place Bertie woke up with the chickenpox and was banished to the
nursery. Then the Doctor followed his annual custom of going over his
business affairs, with the usual result that he found his accounts
greatly overdrawn. This fact was solemnly communicated to each member
of the family in turn together with admonitions in regard to the
future. By lunch time Hattie had been sent to her room for
impertinently suggesting that her father spent more on his books than
she did on her clothes, and Connie was sulking over a reduced
allowance.

"Of course," the Doctor explained to Miss Lady as he sank exhausted
into his invalid chair which had been pressed into service again
during the past few weeks, "I have no doubt but that Basil Sequin can
arrange things for me. He always has in the past, but he seems very
pressed of late, very harassed. I hardly like to approach him so soon
again for a loan."

"Couldn't we rent a smaller house, and have less company?" suggested
Miss Lady.

The Doctor shook his head. "It would be very difficult for me to
adjust myself to new surroundings. The conditions here for my work are
fairly satisfactory. The Ivy's piano, to be sure, is a constant
annoyance, but by using cotton in my ears I obviate that nuisance. It
is particularly unfortunate that this complication about money should
come just at the most critical point of my work. Unless Basil Sequin
can make some arrangement, I shall be seriously embarrassed."

"I'll tell you what we can do," cried Miss Lady brightly, just as if
she had not been trying to get herself up to the point of making the
offer for a week. "We can sell off another bit of Thornwood. Since the
Sequins built out there ever so many people have asked about ground."

"No," said the Doctor, the lines of care deepening in his fine, grave
face. "There is little left now but the house and farm. Your sentiment
regarding the place is such that I cannot permit the sacrifice. The
matter will doubtless adjust itself. I shall take some private pupils
at the university and perhaps arrange an extra course of lectures. The
exigencies of the past two years have been exceptional."

"But you are already working yourself to death," protested Miss Lady.
"Doctor Wyeth said last week that you could not stand the strain. The
rest of us ought to do something; we must do something!"

"You are doing something, my dear. You are relieving me of innumerable
burdens in regard to the house and the children. You are proving of
great assistance to me in my work, not only by your reading aloud, but
by the unfailing sympathy and understanding you give me. Whatever
success shall crown my life work will be in a measure due to you."

She was sitting on a hassock at his feet, and she looked up at him
with strange, dumb eyes. His frail body and towering ambition, his
loveless life that knew not what it missed, roused in her a pity
almost maternal. A fierce resentment rose within her against herself,
for not loving him as she knew a husband should be loved. If he had
only won her with his heart instead of his head!

The door bell rang and Miss Lady glanced up apprehensively.

"It was the pickle woman," announced Myrtella, coming in a moment
later from the hall. "I sent her about her business."

"Not Miss Ferney!" cried Miss Lady, springing up and rushing out to
call her.

Miss Ferney Foster with much difficulty was persuaded to return and
sit on the edge of a hall chair. On New Year's in the past she had
always made a formal call at Thornwood and presented the Colonel with
a sample of her best wares. The Colonel in turn had invariably sent
down cellar for one of the cobwebbiest bottles on the swinging shelf
and bestowed it upon her with great gallantry. The indignity of having
been refused admittance at the house of the Colonel's daughter was
almost more than she could bear.

"Now, tell me about everybody out home," demanded Miss Lady eagerly.
"Begin at the bottom of the hill and go right straight up."

"I don't know much news," Miss Ferney said, plucking at the fingers of
her cotton gloves. "I been sewing up to the Sequins' all week."

"Mercy! How grand we are getting!"

"Just hemming table clothes and napkins. I can't say I think much of
their new place. It's kind of skimpy."

"Why, Miss Ferney! It is the biggest house I was even in!"

"I ain't talking 'bout the size. I'm talking 'bout the fixings. There
ain't a single carpet that fits the floor by two feet, and the
wallpaper's patched in every room but one. As for the dining-room!
Well, I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own
eyes! They haven't got a picture, or a tidy, or a curtain, or a
lamberkin, of any kind. 'Spose I oughtn't to tell it on 'em, but the
day I was there they didn't even have a tablecloth!"

Miss Lady laughed in spite of herself, and Bertie heard her and got
out of bed to call over the banisters that if they were telling jokes
to please come up there.

"You know that young man that used to be out to the Wickers'?" asked
Miss Ferney on the way up. "Well, he's Mrs. Sequin's brother. He's
giving 'em considerable trouble."

"How do you mean?"

"They want him to go 'way somewheres, and he won't do it. The servant
girl told me that him and his sister had been having it up and down,
and that Miss Margery took his side."

"Is he going to stay?" Miss Lady paused and her fingers gripped the
banister.

"I dunno. I guess if he gits mad enough he'll run off to China like he
did before. Ain't that somebody calling you?"

It was Connie who had run up to say that a young man was at the front
door who looked like a tombstone with a blond pompadour.

"Noah Wicker!" exclaimed Miss Lady. "I forgot that I told him I would
try to get him into Mr. Gooch's law office the first of the year.
Wasn't it like him to arrive the first day? You go down, Connie,
that's a darling, and entertain him 'til I come. I'll be there
directly."

But "directly" proved an elastic term, for after Miss Ferney had left,
and four different persons had been assured over the telephone that
all invitations were being declined on account of the Doctor's
indisposition, Miss Lady found Hattie still sulking in her room, and
spent a half hour in restoring peace to that troubled bosom.

Meanwhile Myrtella came up to announce with elation that a waterpipe
had burst in the cellar. Few things roused such joy in Myrtella as the
bursting of a waterpipe. It was an act of insubordination on the part
of the pipe, with which she deeply sympathized.

"And it's Mr. Gooch's night for supper, and if that man in the parlor
stays, too, the ice cream won't go 'round," she declared, with evident
satisfaction in the cumulative tragedy.

By the time the knots were untied, Miss Lady had forgotten all about
Noah Wicker, and it was only when Connie came in declaring indignantly
that she wouldn't talk to the stupid fellow another minute, that she
remembered.

"You poor dear child!" she cried, giving her a repentant squeeze. "I
am sorry. Hattie, would you mind going down and entertaining him a
second, 'til I change my dress?"

"I would," said Hattie firmly.

Of course Noah stayed to dinner, and Miss Lady regarded it as an act
of Providence that he and Mr. Gooch should have thus immediately been
thrown together.

But when Mr. Gooch arrived he was concerned with much more important
affairs. He brought the astounding news that Donald Morley had
returned home and, against the advice of his family and his lawyers,
decided to stand his trial for the shooting of Dick Sheeley!

"It is perfectly preposterous!" Mr. Gooch exploded, "to voluntarily
put himself in the clutches of the law in a complicated case like
this! He could have lived elsewhere for a few years. Even if he is
innocent, the evidence is all against him. I have argued with him for
two days. His sister tells me that she has worked on him for a week.
He will listen to nobody."

"Quite right," said the Doctor emphatically. "The establishment of his
good name should be his primary consideration. 'The purest treasure
mortal times afford is spotless reputation.' I am more gratified than
I can say that Donald is taking this course. He is justifying my
persistent belief in his integrity. Once cleared by a jury the ghost
of that unfortunate affair will, I trust, be laid forever."

"It is not so certain that he will be cleared," Mr. Gooch said, taking
his accustomed seat at the table, with a solicitous eye on the door
where Myrtella would appear with the soup. "I shall do my best for
him, but I have my doubts."

"You say he has been here a week?" the Doctor asked. "Strange he has
not been in to see us. He was always fond of the children, and
professed a certain regard, I believe, for me. I want him to meet Mrs.
Queerington."

There was a pause, during which Noah Wicker turned a surprised glance
upon the hostess.

"I know Mr. Morley," she said steadily, while the color mounted to her
cheeks. "I knew him when he was with Noah at the farm."

"Indeed," said the Doctor. "I must have forgotten your mentioning it.
I am afraid, Mr. Wicker, we've been neglecting you to-night in our
concern over Donald's problems. But it is a subject in which you are
doubtless equally interested?"

Noah started to reply, but realizing that the company was looking at
him, forgot what he was going to say and bowed instead.

At this juncture the thing of all others that Miss Lady dreaded,
occurred. Donald Morley was announced by Myrtella in tones whose
accents implied that nothing could now prevent the ice cream from
giving out.

"Well, well!" cried the Doctor, rising and greeting him with
outstretched hand, "a hearty welcome home. You know everybody here, I
believe? Even Mrs. Queerington tells me she has met you. And this is
Hattie. I am quite sure you were not prepared to see her so tall."

Donald, retaining Hattie's hand, made the round of greetings.

"Where are Connie and Bert?"

"Connie is dressing for a party, and poor old Bert is struggling with
the chickenpox," Miss Lady managed to say as she busied herself with
the coffee cups.

"And now tell us about yourself," said the Doctor, drawing a chair for
Donald beside his own. "You will pardon my cushions, but I am still
something of an invalid, and the little lady at the end of the table
insists upon spoiling me. You knew, of course, of my accident, some
two years ago?"

"Not until I got home," Donald said without looking up. "I hope you've
gotten well again?"

"Oh, no, I shall never be well. The physicians assured me of that from
the first, but they also said that with care and proper conservation
of my energies I would probably live to a ripe old age. I do not
suppose you have ever had to resist the temptation to overwork,
Donald?"

Donald smiled and puckered his brow.

"He has plenty of work cut out for him now!" growled Mr. Gooch, whose
mind having been temporarily diverted by the salad now rushed back to
the trial.

"Work for an admirable cause," said the Doctor. "Mr. Gooch has just
been telling us of your decision, Donald, and I cannot express my
gratification at your course of action."

"Thank you, Doctor! That's the first encouragement I've had. My family
seem to think I am a lunatic, and even my lawyer, here, is taking the
case under protest."

"The value of a good name," began the Doctor, then remembering that he
had delivered himself at length on that subject earlier in the
evening, he broke off by inquiring if Donald had been doing any
writing during his absence.

"Oh! yes, I am always scribbling. It doesn't amount to anything
though."

"Yes, it does, too!" declared Hattie, to whom Cousin Don had always
been a hero. "Mr. Decker told Gerald Ivy that you did all the best
things in the articles he sent home for the syndicate."

"I suspected it!" said the Doctor. "I thought I recognized your
humorous view-point in that first article on China. I remarked to my
wife at the time that you had visualized the scene, for the reader,
exactly as you had seen it."

"But I didn't!" said Donald. "I wrote that story a month before we
reached China. Decker hit on the idea of getting all the articles
written while we were crossing the Pacific, so we wouldn't have to
bother about them after we landed. We used to get up on the boat-deck
and turn them off like hot cakes. That's all foolishness about my
doing the best parts. Why, Decker is a wonder! He 's reducing the
thing to a science; he doesn't even need a pen or a pencil; just
plenty of guide books, a paper of pins, and a pair of scissors.
Lapboard literature, he calls it. He spent most of his time trimming
my effusions down to measurements."

"That is because you indulged your imagination. It is a drug in the
journalistic market, but it is invaluable elsewhere. Why not try
something for the magazines? Choose a congenial theme and give your
fancy full rein. It will be interesting to see what comes of it."

Connie's entrance here interrupted further conversation. She had
neglected no detail of her toilet, and the result was a pink and white
confection ready for conquest.

"We thought you were never coming to see us, Cousin Don," she said,
half pouting, and giving a side glance at Noah Wicker. "You 've been
home a whole week!"

"Heavens, Connie! I didn't expect to find you so grown up. How long
have you been out?"

"I 've never been in," she said, releasing her hand and smiling
consciously. "Aren't you coming to the Bartrums' party to-night?"

"No, I'm not in a mood for parties these days."

"But I 've never had a chance to dance with you since you taught me to
waltz."

"Horrible deprivation! Can you still do the cake walk I taught you?"

"Yes, and so can Miss Lady! Isn't it funny? She says it 's the one the
darkeys dance at the picnics up at Thornwood! Come on, Miss Lady; let
's show them!"

"Constance, Constance!" remonstrated the Doctor gently, as the girl
seized Miss Lady's hands and tried to draw her to her feet. "You see,
Donald, the children forget that Mrs. Queerington is anything but a
play-fellow, and sometimes--" he rose and laid a hand on her shoulder,
"sometimes she forgets, too."

Donald pushed back his chair abruptly.

"I think I'll come to the party, Connie, after all. I'll run up to
Decker's room at the hotel and change my togs. You will save me a
waltz or two?"

"All of them, if you like! It's going to be the jolliest dance of the
season, everybody says so. Change your mind, Miss Lady, and come! I
don't see how you can hesitate when you remember the time you had at
the Sequins'! Gerald is coming for me; we can all go down together."

Miss Lady needed only the spark of Connie's enthusiasm to start all
the forbidden fires in her. Her eyes flew to the Doctor's face.

He smiled as he caught her eager look. "Go with them, my dear, if you
like. It is quite a natural instinct, I believe, to celebrate the
first night of the New Year."

"But you, will you take me? Just this once, Doctor?"

"No, no. My party days are over. Donald here will take my place, will
you not, Donald?"

But Miss Lady gave him no chance to answer. That mad insistent clamor
within her for joy, for life, for love, could not be trusted for a
moment. She was afraid of herself!

"I'll stay home," she said, with a brave attempt at gaiety, conscious
of Donald's critical eyes upon her. "We will have a pinochle
tournament, and Noah and I will beat the home team on its own ground.
Won't we, Noah?"

But Noah did not hear her; he was absorbed in watching Connie who
stood on tiptoe, pinning a flower in Don Morley's buttonhole.

CHAPTER XX

For the next month little else was talked about but Donald Morley's
trial. The truth of the matter sustained a compound fracture every
time the subject was discussed. In some quarters it was confidently
asserted that the fugitive from justice had been captured the moment
he landed in America, and was allowed his liberty only under a heavy
bond. Others contended that a guilty conscience had driven him to
confession.

Meanwhile his friends were either exasperated at his folly in reviving
the old scandal, or quixotically enthusiastic over his demand for
justice. Mrs. Sequin bitterly opposed his action until she found that
the Bartrums, Dr. Queerington, and other influential friends upheld
him, then she decided to suspend her judgment until the trial was
over. Of course if he was going to be a hero, she wanted to be his
loving sister, but if he was going to be convicted, she would have
nothing more to do with him. He had gone directly against her advice
in coming home, and she observed with ominous certainty that "he would
see."

Donald threw himself into the work before him with grim determination.
He spent hours daily in Mr. Gooch's stuffy office going over
transcript of testimony in the Dillingham trial; he made a number of
visits to Billy-goat Hill, recalling every detail of the shooting. On
the first visit he had sought out Sheeley, confident of being able to
jog his memory, concerning his part in the affray, but to his dismay
he found that Sheeley had already been summoned to the office of the
prosecuting attorney. In every direction he turned he encountered the
octopus of the law.

Mr. Gooch gave him little encouragement. He wheezed, and whined, and
contested every suggestion. His client appeared to him a foolhardy boy
who had gotten well out of an ugly scrape, and did not have sense
enough to stay out. So strongly did he feel this that he felt called
upon to express it at great length, on every possible occasion.

Donald would sit before him with arms folded, and jaws set, waiting
impatiently for these harangues to cease. He had employed him because
he was the family lawyer, and because he was a friend of Doctor
Queerington's. At the end of the first week he realized that he had
made a mistake, and confided the fact to Noah Wicker.

Noah, having successfully worked through the law course at the
university, was now, by the persistent efforts of Miss Lady, occupying
a dark corner of Mr. Gooch's outer office. Here, with feet hooked
under a rung of a stool, and fingers grasping his pompadour, he
doggedly wrestled with the cases he heard in court, laboriously
puzzling out obscure points by the aid of the Statute and the Code.

Donald soon fell into the habit of discussing his approaching trial
with him, at such times as Mr. Gooch was absent. He found Noah's calm,
impersonal point of view a relief after the skeptical, disapproving
attitude of the older attorney.

During these days Donald spent as little time as possible at Angora
Heights. The family skeletons that had always lurked in the Sequin
closets, seemed to revel in their commodious new quarters. It is a
melancholy fact that the more closets one acquires, the more skeletons
there are to occupy them!

Mrs. Sequin's existence, if restless in town, was trebly so in the
country. Between catching trains and receiving and speeding guests,
engaging and dismissing servants, and agonizing over the non-
essentials, she dwelt in the vortex of a whirlwind that disturbed
everything in its wake.

Between her and Margery the gulf was widening. Having declared her
independence, the girl went further, and entered a training class in
the kindergarten, an act which caused a rupture that threatened to be
serious, until the head of the family for once asserted his authority,
and unexpectedly sided with his daughter.

Basil Sequin during these days had little time to bestow upon family
matters. He rose at six o'clock, drank three cups of black coffee,
devoured the newspapers, and was on the way to the office before his
gardener was out of bed. Before and after banking hours he had
committee meetings, and special appointments, snatching a few minutes
for luncheon at the nearest restaurant.

Donald had had but one chance to talk with him since his return, and
that was one evening when he was summoned to his den. He found him
pacing restlessly up and down the room, his hands thrust deep in his
pockets.

"You've decided to stand the trial, I hear?" Mr. Sequin asked
abruptly.

"Yes, I had to get the matter cleared up. It is all so idiotic, my
being indicted! I don't anticipate any trouble."

"You can't tell," said Mr. Sequin, "but I didn't send for you to
discuss the trial. It's business I want to talk about. Do you know how
much stock you own in the People's Bank?"

"No, I can't say that I do exactly."

"Well, it's time you were finding out. How would you like to take
charge of your own affairs from now on?"

Donald looked at him in undisguised surprise. Heretofore the only time
that money matters had been discussed between them was when he had
been guilty of some extra extravagance. This sudden change of tactics
on the part of his brother-in-law was disconcerting.

"Why, I shouldn't like it at all, unless it would relieve you," he
said.

"It isn't that. One bother more or less doesn't matter. The point is,
I want you to act for yourself. The result of this trial is by no
means certain; you may need considerable ready money before you get
through with it. Why don't you sell your bank stock, and make some
better paying investments on your own hook?"

"Why, I thought the bank stock--" began Donald, but Mr. Sequin wheeled
upon him impatiently.

"Do you want my advice or not?"

"Of course I want it."

"Very well. Listen to me. Almost every dollar you have is tied up in
the People's Bank. Go down to-morrow morning to a broker, Gilson's the
best man, tell him that you must have a big sum of money at once. In
order to get it you are willing to sacrifice every share of your
People's stock. Tell him not to put it on the market, but to sell it
in small blocks to different people, and not to stick at the price.
Make him understand that it has to do with your trial, and caution him
particularly not to let me know of the transaction."

"But I don't understand," said Donald, watching with troubled eyes the
stooped figure that continued to pace up and down the room like an
animal in a cage.

"I didn't offer to explain. I offered to advise," Mr. Sequin snarled.
"There are complications that couldn't be made clear to you in a
month! I'll ask you not to refer to this matter again to me or to any
one else. I have a lot of papers to look over now, so I'll say good
night."

Donald rose from where he had been sitting at the table.

"Of course you know what is best," he said irresolutely. "And I know
I've got no business shifting my responsibilities on you. By the way,
can't I help you with some of this stuff? You look about done for to-
night."

"Done for?" Mr. Sequin smiled ironically, and ran his fingers through
his scant gray hair. "Why, Don, I'd change places with any old corpse
to-night, just for a chance to lie down in a quiet corner and stop
thinking! No, there's nothing you can do. There's nothing anybody can
do. Good night; close the door as you go out, and leave word
downstairs if I am called over the 'phone to say I am not here."

All things considered it is small wonder that Donald passed as little
time as possible at Angora Heights. The time he was not occupied with
his trial hung heavy on his hands. Distrustful of his friends,
sensitive to criticism, and dreading the humiliating ordeal to come,
he spent one of the most wretched months of his life. He tried to
write, but fancy fled before the glare of the actual. The only place
where he found temporary peace was under the roof of the grim-looking
house in College Street.

From the first Doctor Queerington had championed his cause, and urged
upon him his hospitality. To be sure the Doctor's hospitality usually
began and ended with his welcome, after which he would take himself
off to the study, and leave his guest to the care of the family.

At such times Miss Lady invariably went with him. In fact, Donald had
never seen her alone since the night of his arrival, and the very fact
that she seldom remained down-stairs in the evenings, made his
conscience lighter about lingering in her vicinity.

Mrs. Ivy was the first to comment on his frequent visits. She confided
to Mrs. Sequin that she was afraid he was getting interested in Connie
Queerington, and that somebody ought to tell him that Connie had been
in love with dear Gerald for years and years. An impartial observer
might have expressed a less confident opinion concerning the object of
Miss Connie's affections.

Noah Wicker, for instance, while not exactly an impartial observer,
had arrived at quite a different conclusion.

"You watch the way she looks at Don," he said darkly to Miss Lady on
one occasion.

Miss Lady laughed, "Oh! Connie's like the Last Duchess, she likes
whate'er she looks on, and her looks go everywhere."

"Yes, but this is different. Has she ever said anything to you about
him?"

"Mercy, yes, Connie talks to be about all the boys."

"Does she talk about me?" Noah's eyes were as wistful as a dog's.

For a second Miss Lady hesitated, then she compromised with truth and
said, "yes." She did not add that Connie was particularly voluble on
the subject of his hair, and the creak of his boots and his apparent
genius for ubiquity.

"Do you know what I'd do if I were you, Noah?" she said. "I'd have me
a new suit of clothes made."

"Why, these are new!"

"Yes, I know, but they don't fit. And get some shoes that don't creak,
and--and you won't mind my telling you, Noah? Pompadours went out of
style six years ago."

Noah gloomily shook his head. "It's not my clothes. It's not clothes
that make Don Morley. By the way, aren't you two friends, any more?"

Miss Lady faced the question unflinchingly. "Yes, we are friends. Is
he going to win out?"

"With Miss Connie?"

"No, you foolish boy. In his trial."

"I don't know."

"What will happen if he loses?"

"The case will be appealed."

"And if he loses in the Court of Appeals?"

"It's up to Gooch to see that he doesn't lose. I only wish I was as
certain of a few other things as I am of Donald Morley's innocence!"

One afternoon, a few days before the trial, Donald after oscillating
between the hotel and his club and finding each equally intolerable,
jumped on the car and went out to the Queeringtons. It was a cold, raw
day, with a fine mist filling the air, and even the dull formality of
the drab parlor seemed a relief from the gloom without.

Miss Lady started up from the piano as he entered, but Connie pulled
her back:

"You shan't run off and leave us, shall she, Cousin Don? She was just
going to play for Mr. Wicker to sing. Did you know he could sing?"

"Oh, yes. Wick's the Original Warbler. Do you remember our serenades
on the Cane Run Road, Wick?"

"Yes," said Noah glumly.

"I forgot that you and Mr. Wicker used to know each other," Connie
said curiously. "Why the Cane Run Road runs by Thornwood, doesn't it?"

"Yes," said Don calmly, seizing the conversation and shoving it out of
shoal water. "Go ahead, Wick, and sing something; we'll join in the
chorus."

But when the time for the chorus came Donald had forgotten his
promise. He was leaning back in a corner of the sofa, his hand shading
his eyes, watching Miss Lady, and wondering what trick of fate had
driven her to marry John Jay Queerington. There was no man in the
world whose moral worth he admired more, but Miss Lady seemed as out
of place in his life as a darting, quivering humming-bird in a museum
of natural history. He noticed the faint shadows about her eyes, and
the wistful droop of her lips. If he could only set her free! A mad
desire seized him to see her once more joyously on the wing with all
her old buoyancy and daring. And yet she had walked open eyed into her
cage, and he had yet to see the tiniest flutter of her wings against
the bars.

On that first night of his home-coming surely he had read a welcome in
her eyes! But never since by word or gesture had he reason to think
that she remembered. She was gracious and elusive, and she talked to
him as she talked to Decker and Gerald Ivy, only she looked at them
when she talked, and she never even looked at him.

Yet she _had_ cared! He had only to recall the flashing revelation of
her eyes that night in the garden to know for one transcendent moment,
at least, she was his. It was the look that had sustained his faith in
her through all those weary months of silence, making him cling to the
belief, until he heard the truth from her own lips, that she had
failed to get his letter. It was the remembrance of that look and what
it had promised that rushed upon him now as he watched her.

All the reckless impulse of his boyhood, the long years of
unrestraint, surged over him, urging him on to wake in her some answer
to his fierce, insistent demand. She should remember the way he had
loved her, she should know the way he loved her now. If there was any
heart left in her she must respond in some way to his imperative need.

But her eyes kept steadily on the key-board, and her fingers
unfalteringly followed the notes. Could he have known how the tears
burned under her lashes, and how cold her fingers were on the keys;
could he have guessed how she sat there under his steady gaze, with
tense muscles and quivering nerves, calculating the minutes that must
elapse before Noah's interminable verses would end, and she could
escape, he might have had compassion on her.

"Sing, Cousin Don!" demanded Connie; "you are leaving it all to Mr.
Wicker and me, while you sit there looking exactly as if you had lost
your last friend."

"No, only my illusions, Connie."

"Where did you lose them?"

"In Singapore. All but one. I hung on to it clear around the world,
only to lose it on Christmas night when I got home. Don't you feel
sorry for me?"

"Not a bit," said Connie saucily. "I couldn't feel sorry for anybody
as good looking as you are,--could you, Mr. Wicker? Where did Miss
Lady go?"

"She said she was going to lie down, that her head ached," said Noah.

"I know what's the matter," said Connie; "she tries to keep us from
seeing it, but she's all broken up over selling Thornwood."

"Thornwood!" cried Donald; "she hasn't sold it?"

"No, but it's been put up for sale. She'd die at the stake for Father.
He doesn't even know about it."

"But surely there is some other way." Connie shrugged her shoulders.
"I am sure I don't know. Hattie's given up music and French, and we've
put Bertie in the public school, and I haven't had but one party dress
this winter. But a girl doesn't have to depend on clothes to have a
good time, does she, Mr. Wicker?"

That night Donald sat up late, turning things over in his mind. Once
the trial was over he must go away, where he could not see Miss Lady
or hear of her. He must plunge into some business that would absorb
his time and attention. But before he went he must make an investment
and make it at once. In order to do so, he would follow Basil Sequin's
advice, and offer his bank stock for sale in the morning.

CHAPTER XXI

There was anxiety in the drab house in College Street. The second day
of Donald Morley's trial had come and no decision had been reached.
Every ring of the telephone, every opening of the front door brought a
hurrying of feet through the hall, and an eager demand to know if
there was any news.

"I'll never get my lessons!" exclaimed Hattie petulantly, collecting
her scattered belongings after one of these rushes to the door. "I
wish to Heaven one of my fingers was a lead pencil!"

"Why don't you wish your tongue was one, Hat, then you wouldn't have
to sharpen it," suggested Connie.

"I bet Miss Lady had my pencil," went on Hattie, ignoring Connie's
comment. "She's never owned a pair of scissors, or a pencil, or a
shoe-buttoner since she's been here. And look at those letters on the
mantel! She'll never think about mailing them."

"What are they doing with black borders?"

"She bought a job lot of paper the other day, all colors and sizes,
trying to be economical. She uses the mourning ones to pay the bills."

"Yes, and I'll have to be putting little pink love letters in big blue
envelopes all winter. Say, Hat, do you suppose it would be all right
if I called up Mr. Wicker to ask him how the trial is going?"

"Of course not. We'll hear as soon as there is anything to hear. I
wish you'd hush talking and let me study."

Connie heroically refrained from speech for five minutes, then she
announced:

"Do you know, I don't believe Miss Lady likes him!"

"Who? Mr. Wicker?"

"No, you silly,--Don."

"When did you stop saying Cousin Don, pray?"

"Oh, ages ago. She's always so quiet when he comes, and she goes up-
stairs the first chance she gets. I think she's changed a lot since
she first came, don't you?"

"Well, I guess you'd change, too, if you had married a sick man with
three children, as poor as poverty, and a cook as cross as Myrtella."

"But she has Myrtella eating out of her hand. Imagine my marrying a
man as old as Father!"

"If I had to marry, I'd rather marry Father than anybody else. But
I've never seen the man yet that I'd be willing to marry."

"Oh, I have! I know ten right now that I'd marry in a minute."

"Connie Queerington! Who are the others beside Gerald and Cousin Don?"

"Guess."

"Noah Wicker?"

Connie laughed. "Mr. Wicker is not as bad as he was. He must have
taken chloroform and had his pompadour cut. Don says he is awfully
clever."

"Anybody could be clever who took a whole day to compose each speech.
I'll tell you what's the matter with Miss Lady; she is worrying
herself sick over Father. Did she tell you what Doctor Wyeth told
her?"

"That Father would have to give up his classes, and get away some
where? But of course he can't do it."

"But he can! Miss Lady has rented Thornwood from the man who bought
it, and we are all to go out there this spring."

"Heavens! That means frogs and crickets and whippoorwills, and a
lonesome time for me."

"But think of Father!" said Hattie with her most virtuous air. "If
it's perfectly quiet, perhaps he can finish his book."

"No, he won't," said Connie petulantly. "He may finish himself, but
he'll never finish that book; he keeps on thinking of more to say,
just like Mr. Melcher does when he prays. If it weren't for that
stupid old book he might get well. Was that the telephone?"

It proved to be the side-door bell, which was rung by an old woman who
had lost her husband and her front teeth, and was engaged in the
precarious occupation of selling shoe-strings. She was one of the
numerous proteges, who began to call on Miss Lady soon after
breakfast, and kept up their visits through the day, to the
exasperation of Myrtella Flathers, who spent her time devising means
to rid the back hall of these incumbrances.

In this instance strategy was not required, for she was bidden to send
the woman away. Such an unusual proceeding aroused her curiosity and
she returned to the dining-room to peep through the door at her young
mistress, who had been sitting motionless since breakfast with her
elbows on the table, and her hands locked under her chin. It was
evident that something was wrong, and Myrtella became so concerned
that she at last decided to take action. The panacea she applied to
all ailments, moral or physical, was a counter-irritant.

"Mis' Squeerington!" she ventured finally. "I hope you ain't fergot
that it's Saturday mornin' an' you'd orter row the grocery man. He's a
cortion, that's what he is, a-sendin' us Mis' Ivy's ribs, an' Mis'
Logan's liver. It ain't a decent way to treat a old customer, an' he
orter be told so. There never was a grocery man that was born into the
world that didn't have to be rowed! They expect it, they look fer it,
an' when they don't get it they feel it."

"I can't 'row' people, Myrtella; I don't know how," said Miss Lady
listlessly.

"I'll learn you. You've picked up a lot more already than anybody
would 'a' supposed you would when you first come. But one thing you
ain't learned. When a lady goes to smilin' over the telephone, an'
tellin' the butcher that she don't know one cut from another but
she'll trust him to send her a nice piece, you kin count on it she's
goin' to git a gristle. Compliments an' smiles may git some things,
but it takes rowin' an' back-talk to git a good beefsteak!"

"I think I'll send you to the grocery to-day, Myrtella,--it--it may
rain."

"It ain't goin' to rain before noon," Myrtella said authoritatively,
in a tone that indicated her intention of stopping it immediately if
it showed any intention of doing so. "It'll do you good to git out and
walk a spell."

Miss Lady shook her head.

"Well, then you better let me send Bertie down here, he's makin' a
awful racket in the nursery an' his pa'll be after him soon."

Bertie was induced to abandon a life of adventure on the footboard of
his bed, by the suggestion that Miss Lady had something to tell him in
the dining-room. He came tearing through the hall shouting, "Extras,"
at the top of his voice.

"Bertie, darling! Please don't," cried Miss Lady roused from her
apathy. "Remember it's Saturday and Father's home."

"I wish he wasn't," said Bertie. "I hate a tiptoe house! When can I
call extras?"

"When we get up to Thornwood. You and I will play all over the hills,
and I'll teach you to be a real country boy."

"And can Chick be there, too?"

"Yes, and perhaps by that time Chick will have been to the hospital
and can talk like other boys."

Bertie was standing on the back of her chair by this time, apparently
trying to strangle her.

"And can we slide down the ice-house like you used to do? And will
Uncle Jimpson call up the doodle-bugs out of the ground like he did
when you was a little girl?"

"Listen!" cried Miss Lady suddenly starting up. "What is that?"

From the far end of the street came the sound, "Wuxtry! Here's your
Wuxtry! All about--"

"It's just the newsboy I was being like," said Bertie. "What's the
matter? What makes you shake so, Miss Lady?"

Myrtella thrust her head in the door. "Here comes that there Mrs. Ivy
running 'cross the yard. She's good fer a hour."

But Mrs. Ivy did not seem to be good for anything by the time Miss
Lady reached her. She was half reclining on a haircloth sofa in the
front hall with a bottle of smelling salts to her nose and a newspaper
in her hand.

"Oh, my _dear_!" she managed to gasp. "Such a frightful shock! So
utterly unexpected!"

"Do you mean Don?" Miss Lady's lips scarcely moved as she asked the
question.

"No, the bank! I was all alone in the house when I heard the boys
calling the extras--Ah! my poor weak heart!"

"Brandy?" suggested Miss Lady anxiously.

Mrs. Ivy raised feeble but protesting eyes: "Never! The Angel of Death
shall never find me with the odor of liquor on my lips. Could you send
for some nitroglycerin?"

By the time Mrs. Ivy was revived, Connie and Hattie had joined the
group in the hall, and the latter was reading aloud in awe-struck
tones the account of the People's Bank failure. The age and reputation
of the institution and the prominence of Basil Sequin as a local
financier gave the subject grave significance.

"And to think that I should be involved!" wailed Mrs. Ivy. "I've only
been treasurer of the W. A. Board for six weeks and this was my first
investment! They told me to use my judgment, and I did the best I
could! Only last Thursday I went to see Mr. Gilson the broker, you
know, about investing the money we're collecting for building the
Parish House. He said I had come at the right moment as he had just
gotten hold of some of the People's Bank stock, 'gilt edged,' he
called it, and I remember just what I said to him, I said, 'Mr.
Gilson, I simply let Providence lead me, and it led me to your door!'
and I bought it!" sobbed Mrs. Ivy; "forty shares!"

"I suppose Father's lost awfully," said Hattie, sitting round eyed and
anxious on the steps.

"And all the Sequins, and Don," added Connie.

"It says that all the stockholders and most of the depositors stand to
lose heavily," said Miss Lady, scanning the paper; "I must tell the
Doctor at once."

She sped up the steps and knocked breathlessly at his study door. It
was only at the second knock that she was bidden to enter.

The Doctor sat at his desk in a long, gray dressing-gown, with a rug
across his knees: around him were ranged several straight-backed
chairs on which were spread hundreds of pages of closely written
manuscript. At his elbow on a stand was an immense dictionary, from
which he lifted a pair of absorbed and preoccupied eyes.

"Doctor!" Miss Lady burst out impetuously, "the Bank has failed--the
paper says--"

"If you please!" the Doctor raised an imploring hand; "don't tell me
now. The news will keep and I am in a most critical stage of my
summary. Today's work is important, very important. Kindly close the
door."

Miss Lady stood in the hall without and stared at the drab-colored
wallpaper. A fierce anger rose in her, not against the Doctor, but
against that vampire work which was sucking all the vitality and
sympathy and understanding out of him. She was eager to bear his
burdens; she was willing to fight his battles; but it was hard to take
his side single-handed against herself. She wanted love, and affection
and sympathy, and she wanted a manly shoulder to weep on when the way
became too hard. But the Doctor's slanting, scholarly shoulder
afforded no resting-place for a world-weary head.

"Mis' Squeerington!" called Myrtella from the lower floor. "The
grocery man didn't have no beets, and his new potatoes is hard as
rocks, an' if I was you I'd go over to Smithers jes' to spite him out
fer a spell. And I fergot to tell you that that there Mr. Wicker
called you up a hour ago, an' sez the case was lost. I don't know what
he meant. I hope he ain't lost it 'round here. Next thing I hear
they'll be sayin' I took it!"

CHAPTER XXII

It is a depressing law of life that worries invariably hunt in packs.
If it were just a matter of one yelping little annoyance that barked
at your heels, you could frighten it away with a laugh; but when a
ravenous horde gets on your trail with the grim determination of
running you to earth, it is quite a different matter.

Donald Morley, pacing the terrace at Angora Heights on a certain dark
night in March, felt the breath of the pursuing pack close upon him.
The failure to win his case had been a serious blow not only to his
pride, but to his faith in his fellow man. He had gone into the trial
with the assured confidence of an innocent man who is still young
enough to rely absolutely upon the justice of the law. In spite of the
array of damaging evidence presented by the prosecuting attorney, and
the opinionated egotism of Mr. Gooch which rendered him unpopular with
judge and jury, Donald's victory was almost assured, when the rumor of
the People's Bank failure swept the court room. In the instant wave of
suspicion that rose against Basil Sequin, Donald's cause was lost.
Half the men on the jury were directly, or indirectly, involved. The
case was summarily disposed of and the smaller matter swallowed up in
the larger.

Humiliated and chagrined as Donald was over his own position, he was
equally concerned about the bank. The papers were full of disturbing
innuendoes; people avoided speaking of it in his presence; distrust
and suspicion lurked around the corners.

Donald paused at the end of the terrace and looked up at the dark
massive pile of masonry above him. In every leering gargoyle and
carved coping, he read the ruin of some humble home.

At the first hint of impending trouble, Mrs. Sequin had taken Margery
and fled to Europe, leaving Mr. Sequin fighting with his back to the
wall to meet the difficulties into which her extravagance had plunged
him. "I have no fear for Basil," she assured her friends on leaving.
"He'll straighten things out. Of course he'll be talked about, clever
people always are, and the directors have been rather nasty. But he'll
control the situation yet, you'll see."

And Mrs. Sequin's confidence was being justified. Basil Sequin was
controlling the situation. He had emerged from the ruin with his
finances less affected than his reputation.

Each time that Donald turned at the end of the long terrace, his eyes
involuntarily sought a light that gleamed far below through the bare
trunks of the trees. It was the light from Thornwood that once more
threw its familiar beams across the Cane Run Road and up the gentle
slope of Billy-goat Hill. He rested his arms on the balustrade and
stood looking out into the night. There was a softness in the air, a
smell of upturned earth, a faint whispering among the newly budded
treetops that hinted of things about to be revealed.

Suddenly there was a strange fluttering in the air above him, a
tremulous, expectant thrill. Looking up he saw a flock of birds,
wheeling and circling above him, making ready to light. Night after
night they had traveled, over forests and across dark rivers,
valiantly beating their frail wings against the gale, one purpose
urging them on, straight as an arrow through the silent air,--the
longing to find their old haunts under the friendly shelter of the
Hill, and there to keep their love trysts in the place called home.

Donald's throat contracted sharply. Never in those tumultuous days in
Japan, nor in those desperate ones in Singapore had he wanted Miss
Lady as he wanted her now. It was not her youth or her beauty that he
was thinking of; it was the firm confident clasp of her hand, the
unfaltering courage of her eyes, her words, "I do believe in you, Don,
with all my heart and soul." He was like a starving man who must have
bread even if it belongs to another. Before he knew it he was plunging
down the footpath to the road.

Connie would be his excuse, although he had been rather conscience-
stricken about Connie of late. She had developed a taste for exploring
that beguiling land of Flirtation where the boundary lines have never
been defined, and dangers are known to lurk beyond the borders. As an
old and experienced adventurer he felt that he had already accompanied
her too far.

As he reached Thornwood's big colonial gateway, he found some one
alighting from a buggy.

"Hello, Wick!" he said. "Wait, I'll open it for you. I thought you
were staying in town!" Noah removed a pair of unmistakably new tan
gloves and opened the gate for himself.

"I am staying in town," he said distantly "Are you coming in here?"

"Yes, I think I will drop in for a little while, unless you have an
engagement?"

Noah's pause was even longer than usual. "No," he drawled presently.
"I can't say I have. Will you get in?"

Donald could not suppress a smile as he got in beside him, and noticed
the grandeur of his toilet.

"You are getting awfully dressy these days, old chap. Who's the girl?"

"You know who it is."

"You surely don't mean Connie Queerington! Now, Wick, you want to go
slow and not trifle with that girl. The first thing you know she will
be falling in love with you.",

Noah's lip stiffened. "If you would leave her alone perhaps she
might."

"What am I doing?"

"The same thing you've always done. Going with a girl just long enough
to spoil her for every other fellow, then going off and forgetting all
about her."

Donald looked in amazement at the angry face beside him.

"What in thunder do you mean by that, Wick?"

"What I say. I guess it hasn't been so long ago that we've both
forgotten another instance." "See here, Wick," said Donald, his anger
rising, "you'd better drop this. You don't know what you are talking
about."

"I know you spoiled my chances once and you are not going to spoil
them again. You've got to leave Miss Connie alone. You've got to
promise me--"

"I promise you nothing."

They had reached the hitching block and Donald got out of the buggy
and, not waiting for his companion, went up the walk to the house. The
peace of the old place wrapped him round like the folds of a warm
garment He forgot Noah, and the pursuing troubles; he forgot
everything except that Thornwood, with all its memories and
traditions, was for the present his, held in sacred trust until that
time when he could give it back to the one who loved it best.

"Why, it's Cousin Don!" cried Connie who had heard the wheels and come
to investigate. "I never was so glad to see anybody in my life. I
thought it was Mr. Wicker!"

"Cheer up! He's hitching his horse at the block now."

"How tiresome! I thought we left him in town yesterday. I don't
believe you are a bit glad to have us for a neighbor. Why didn't you
come over last night? I haven't seen you for four days!"

"You haven't missed anything, Connie. I've been down and out."

"Everybody has! It's too stupid for words. Since the trial and the
bank failure I haven't been able to get a smile out of anybody! I hope
the Turtle won't be grumpy."

"Who is the Turtle?"

"Mr. Wicker. Hat calls him that, because he never lets go 'til it
thunders. Aren't you coming in the parlor?"

"No, I'll give Wick the field to-night. I want to see your Father on
business."

"That sounds interesting!" said Connie audaciously. "You might have
spoken to me first!"

The Doctor was preparing to go up to bed when Donald entered the
sitting-room, but he put down his candle and greeted him warmly.

"A phenix rising from his ashes!" he said. "I am glad to see that you
have survived the trials of the past ten days. It is very kind of you
to come over in the midst of your trouble to welcome us to our new
quarters. You are not going to leave us, my dear?" this to Miss Lady
who had risen at Donald's entrance.

"I was going to get your beef-tea."

"Oh, to be sure. I can't begin to tell you, Donald, how much I regret
the decision in your case. How did it happen?"

Donald, whose hungry eyes were devouring every familiar detail of the
homely fire-lit room, shrugged his shoulders. "Eleven jury-men were
for acquittal, I am told, and the twelfth, a fellow named Jock Hibben
talked them over."

"Jock Hibben? I know the man. A radical Socialist who has been giving
us some trouble at the university. Quite an orator, I believe, but a
fanatic. You have made a motion for a new trial?"

"It has been refused."

"Indeed! And you appeal it, of course?"

"Yes."

"The decision is bound to be reversed," the Doctor assured him, "and
the second trial will go in your favor. I have never doubted the
ultimate outcome. What is that scratching noise?"

Miss Lady, who was just entering, paused to listen, then she suddenly
set the cup she carried on the table, and flung open the door.

A long, shaggy, disheveled dog, with small, sad eyes, and a stub of a
tail, hurled himself upon her, and began rapturously to lick her
hands.

"It's Mike," she cried joyously, sitting on the floor and gathering
her muddy visitor into her arms. "I knew he'd find out we were home.
Oh! you blessed, blessed dog!"

Mike, unable to restrain his transports, made a mad tour of the room,
upsetting the stack of manuscript that the Doctor had neatly arranged

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