Part 7 out of 9
"Natalie! Don't look like that! I don't believe it, of course.
It's stupid. I wasn't going to tell you. You don't think I believe
it, do you?"
She let him put an arm around her and hold her, as he would a scared
child. There was no love for her in it, but a great pity, and acute
remorse that he could hold her so and care for her so little.
"Oh, Clay!" she gasped. "I've been perfectly sick about it!"
His conviction of his own failure to her made him very tender. He
talked to her, as she stood with her face buried in the shoulder of
his coat, of the absurdity of her fear, of his own understanding,
and when she was calmer he made a futile effort to make his position
"I am not angry," he said. "And I'm not fudging you in any way.
But you know how things are between us. We have been drifting
apart for rather a long time. It's not your fault. Perhaps it is
mine. Probably it is. I know I don't make you happy. And
sometimes I think things have either got to be better or worse."
"If I'm willing to go along as we are, I think you should be."
"Then let's try to get a little happiness out of it all, Natalie."
"Oh, happiness! You are always raving about happiness. There isn't
any such thing."
"Peace, then. Let's have peace, Natalie."
She drew back, regarding him.
"What did you mean by things having to be better or worse?"
When he found no immediate answer, she was uneasy. The prospect of
any change in their relationship frightened her. Like all weak
women, she was afraid of change. Her life suited her. Even her
misery she loved and fed on. She had pitied herself always. Not
love, but fear of change, lay behind her shallow, anxious eyes. Yet
he could not hurt her. She had been foolish, but she had not been
wicked. In his new humility he found her infinitely better than
"I spoke without thinking."
"Then it must have been in your mind. Let me see the clipping, Clay.
I've tried to forget what it said."
She took it, still pinned to the prospectus, and bent over them both.
When she had examined them, she continued to stand with lowered
eyelids, turning and crumpling them. Then she looked up.
"So that is what you meant! It was a - well, a sort of a threat."
"I had no intention of threatening you, my dear. You ought to know
me better. That clipping was sent me attached to the slip. The
only reason I let you see it was because I think you ought to know
how the most innocent things are misconstrued."
"You couldn't divorce me if you wanted to." Then her defiance faded
in a weak terror. She began to cry, shameless frightened tears that
rolled down her cheeks. She reminded him that she was the mother of
his child, that she had sacrificed her life to both of them, and
that now they would both leave her and turn her adrift. She had
served her purpose, now let her go.
Utter hopelessness kept him dumb. He knew of old that she would
cry until she was ready to stop, or until she had gained her point.
And he knew, too, that she expected him to put his arms around her
again, in token of his complete surrender. The very fact hardened
him. He did not want to put his arms around her. He wanted,
indeed, to get out into the open air and walk off his exasperation.
The scent in the room stifled him.
When he made no move toward her she gradually stopped crying, and
gave way to the rage that was often behind her tears.
"Just try to divorce me, and see!"
"Good God, I haven't even mentioned divorce. I only said we must
try to get along better. To agree."
"Which means, I dare say, that I am to agree with you!" But she
had one weapon still. Suddenly she smiled a little wistfully, and
made the apparently complete surrender that always disarmed him.
"I'll be good from now on, Clay. I'll be very, very good. Only
- don't be always criticizing me."
She held up her lips, and after a second's hesitation he kissed her.
He knew he was precisely where he had been when he started, and he
had a hopeless sense of the futility of the effort he had made.
Natalie had got by with a bad half-hour, and would proceed to forget
it as quickly as she always forgot anything disagreeable. Still,
she was in a more receptive mood than usual, and he wondered if that
would not be as good a time as any to speak about his new plan as
to the mill. He took an uneasy turn or two about the room, feeling
her eyes on him.
"There is something else, Natalie."
She had relaxed like a kitten in her big chair, and was lighting one
of the small, gilt-tipped cigarets she affected.
"It affects Graham. It affects us all."
He hesitated. To talk to Natalie about business meant reducing it
to its most elemental form.
"Have you ever thought that this war of ours means more than merely
"I haven't thought about this war at all. It's too absurd. A lot
of politicians?" She shrugged her shoulders.
"It means a great deal of money."
"'Well, the country is rich, isn't it?"
"The country? That means the people."
"I knew we'd get to money sooner or later," she observed, resignedly.
"All right. We'll be taxed, so we'll cut down on the country house
- go on. I can say it before you do. But don't say we'll have to
do without the greenhouses, because we can't."
"We may have to go without more than greenhouses."
His tone made her sit bolt upright. Then she laughed a little.
"Poor old Clay," she said, with the caressing tone she used when
she meant to make no concession. "I do spend money, don't I? But
I do make you comfortable, you know. And what is what I spend,
compared with what you are making?"
"It's just that. I don't think I can consistently go on making a
profit on this war, now that we are in it."
He explained then what he meant, and watched her face set into the
hard lines he knew so well. But she listened to the end and when
he had finished she said nothing.
"Well?" he said.
"I don't think you have the remotest idea of doing it. You like
to play at the heroic. You can see yourself doing it, and every
one pointing to you as the man who threw away a fortune. But you
are humbugging yourself. You'll never do it. I give you credit
for too much sense."
He went rather white. She knew the weakness in his armor, his
hatred of anything theatrical, and with unfailing accuracy she
always pierced it.
"Suppose I tell you I have already offered the plant to the
government, at a nominal profit."
Suddenly she got up, and every vestige of softness was gone.
"I don't think you would be such a fool."
"I have done it."
"Then you are insane. There is no other possible explanation."
She passed him, moving swiftly, and went into her bedroom. He heard
her lock the door behind her.
Audrey had made a resolution, and with characteristic energy had
proceeded to carry it out. She was no longer needed at the
recruiting stations. After a month's debate the conscription law
was about to be passed, made certain by the frank statement of the
British Commission under Balfour as to the urgency of the need of
a vast new army in France.
For the first time the Allies laid their cards face up on the table,
and America realized to what she was committed. Almost overnight
a potential army of hundreds of thousands was changing to one of
millions. The situation was desperate. Germany had more men than
the Allies, and had vast eastern resources to draw on for still
more. To the Allies only the untapped resources of America remained.
In private conference with the President Mr. Balfour had urged haste,
and yet more haste.
Audrey, reading her newspapers faithfully, felt with her exaltation
a little stirring of regret. Her occupation, such as it was, was
gone. For the thin stream of men flowing toward the recruiting
stations there was now to be a vast movement of the young manhood
of the nation. And she could have no place in it.
Almost immediately she set to work to find herself a new place. At
first there seemed to be none. She went to a hospital, and offered
her strong body and her two willing hands for training.
"I could learn quickly," she pleaded, "and surely there will not be
enough nurses for such an army as we are to have."
"Our regular course is three years."
"But a special course. Surely I may have that. There are so many
things one won't need in France."
The head of the training school smiled rather wistfully. They came
to her so often now, these intelligent, untrained women, all
eagerness to help, to forget and unlive, if they could, their
"You want to go to France, of course?"
"If I can. My husband was killed over there."
But she did not intend to make capital of Chris's death. "Of course,
that has nothing to do with my going. I simply want to work."
"It's hard work. Not romantic."
"I am not looking for romance."
In the end, however, she had to give it up. In some hospitals they
were already training nurses helpers, but they were to relieve
trained women for France. She went home to think it over. She had
felt that by leaving the country she would solve Clayton's problem
and her own. To stay on, seeing him now and then, was torture for
But there was something else. She had begun, that afternoon, to
doubt whether she was fitted for nursing after all. The quiet of
the hospital, the all-pervading odor of drugs, the subdued voice
and quiet eyes of the head of the training school, as of one who
had looked on life and found it infinitely sad, depressed her. She
had walked home, impatient with herself, disappointed in her own
failure. She thought dismally:
"I am of no earthly use. I've played all my life, and now I'm
paying for it. I ought to." And she ran over her pitiful
accomplishments: "golf, bridge, ride, shoot, swim, sing (a little),
dance, tennis, some French - what a sickening list!"
She was glad that day to find Clare Gould waiting for her. As
usual, the girl had brought her tribute, this time some early
strawberries. Audrey found her in the pantry arranging their
leaves in a shallow dish.
"Clare!" she said. "Aren't you working?"
"I've gone on night-turn now."
The girl's admiration salved her wounded pride in herself. Then
she saw, on a table, an envelope with her name on it. Clare's eyes
"That's the rest of the money, Mrs. Valentine."
She colored, but Audrey only smiled at her.
"Fine!" she said. "Are you sure you can spare it?"
"I couldn't rest until it was all paid up. And I'm getting along
fine. I make a lot, really."
"Tell me about the night work."
"We've gone on double turn. I rather like it at night. It's
- well, it's like something on the stage. The sparks fly from the
lathes, and they look like fireworks. And when they hammer on hot
metal it's lovely."
She talked on, incoherent but glowing. She liked her big turret
lathe. It gave her a sense of power. She liked to see the rough
metal growing smooth and shining like silver under her hands. She
was naively pleased that she was doing a man's work, and doing it
Audrey leaned back in her chair and listened. All this that Clare
was talking about was Clayton's doing. He at least had dreamed
true. He was doing a man's part, too, in the war. Even this girl,
whose hand Natalie Spencer would not have touched, this girl was
Clare was still talking. The draft would be hard on the plant.
They were short-handed now. There was talk of taking in more girls
to replace the men who would be called.
"Do you think I could operate a lathe, Clare?"
"You! Why, Mrs. Valentine, it's not work for a lady! Look at my
But Audrey made an impatient gesture.
"I don't care about my hands. The question is, could I do it? I
don't seem able to do anything else."
"Why, yes." Clare was reluctant. "I can, and you're a lot cleverer
than I am. But it's hard. It's rough, and some of the talk - oh,
I hope you don't mean it, Mrs. Valentine."
Audrey, however, was meaning it. It seemed to her, all at once,
the way out. Here was work, needed work. Work that she could do.
For the first time in months she blessed the golf and riding that
had kept her fit.
"Mr. Spencer is a friend of yours. He'll never let you do it."
"He is not to know, Clare," Audrey said briskly. "You are quite
right. He would probably be very - mannish about it. So we won't
tell him. And now, how shall I go about getting in? Will they
teach me, or shall I have to lust learn? And whatever shall I wear?"
Clare explained while, for she was determined not to lose a minute,
Audrey changed into her plainest clothes. They would be in time,
if they hurried, before the employment department closed. There
were women in charge there. They card-indexed you, and then you
were investigated by the secret service and if you were all right,
well, that was all.
"Mercy! It's enough," said Audrey, impatiently. "Do you mean to
say they'll come here?"
She glanced around her rooms, littered with photographs of people
well known to the public through the society journals, with its
high bright silver vases, its odd gifts of porcelain, its grand
piano taking up more than its share of room.
"If they come here," she deliberated, "they won't take me, Clare.
They'll be thinking I'm living on German money!"
So, in the end, she did not go to the munition works. She went
room-hunting instead, with Clare beside her, very uncomfortable
on the street for fear Audrey would be compromised by walking with
her. And at six o'clock that evening a young woman with a softly
inflected voice and an air of almost humorous enjoyment of
something the landlady failed to grasp, was the tenant, for one
month's rent in advance, of a room on South Perry Street.
Clare was almost in tears.
"I can't bear to think of your sleeping in that bed, Mrs. Valentine,"
she protested. "It dips down so."
"I shan't have much time to sleep, anyhow. And when I do so I shall
be so tired! - What was the name I gave her, Clare?"
"Thompson. Mary Thompson."
"She surprised me, or I'd have thought of a prettier one." She was
absurdly high-spirited, although the next day's ordeal rather
worried her when she thought about it. She had, oddly enough, no
trepidation about the work itself. It was passing the detectives
in the employment department that worried her. As a matter of fact,
however, there was no ordeal. Her card was carried to the desk in
the corner, where the two men sat on whose decisions might so easily
rest the safety of the entire plant, and they surveyed her carefully.
Audrey looked ahead, and waited. They would come over and question
her, and the whole fabric she had built would be destroyed. But
nothing happened. She was told she would be notified in a day or
two if she would be taken on, and with that she was forced to be
She had a bad moment, however, for Graham came through the office
on his way out, and stopped for a moment directly in front of her.
Her heart almost stopped beating, and she dropped her glove and
stooped to pick it up. When she sat erect again he was moving on.
But even her brief glance had showed her that the boy looked tired
She went to her rented room at once, for she must be prepared for
inquiries about her. During the interval she arranged for the
closing of her apartment and the storing of her furniture. With
their going would depart the last reminders of the old life, and
she felt a curious sense of relief. They had little happiness to
remind her of, and much suffering. The world had changed since
she had gathered them together, and she had changed with it. She
was older and sadder. But she would not have gone back. Not for
anything would she have gone back.
She had one thing to do, however, before she disappeared. She had
promised to try to find something for Delight, and she did it with
her usual thoroughness and dispatch. She sent for her that last
day in the apartment, when in the morning she had found at the
Perry Street room a card telling her to report the following night.
When Delight came in she found the little apartment rather bare and
rather dreary, but Audrey was cheerful, almost gay.
"Going away for a little while," she explained. "I've stored a
lot of stuff. And now, my dear, do you really want to work?"
"I just must do something."
"All right. That's settled. I've got the thing I spoke about, in
one of the officers' training-camps. But remember, Delight, this
is not going to be a romantic adventure. It's to be work."
"I don't want a romantic adventure, Mrs. Valentine."
"Poor little thing," Audrey reflected to herself. And aloud: "Good!
Of course I know you're sincere about working. I - I understand,
Delight was pleased, but Audrey saw that she was not happy. Even
when the details had been arranged she still sat in her straight
chair and made no move to go. And Audrey felt that the next move
was up to her.
"What's the news about Graham Spencer?" she inquired. "He'll be
drafted, I suppose."
"Not if they claim exemption. He's making shells, you know."
She lifted rather heavy eyes to Audrey's.
"His mother is trying that now," she said. "Ever since his
engagement was broken?"
"Oh, it was broken, was it?"
"Yes. I don't know why. But it's off. Anyhow Mrs. Spencer is
telling everybody he can't be spared."
"And his father?"
"I don't know. He doesn't talk about it, I think."
"Perhaps he wants him to make his own decision."
Delight rose and drew down her veil with hands that Audrey saw were
trembling a little.
"How can he make his own decision?" she asked. "He may think it's
his own, but it's hers, Mrs. Spencer's. She's always talking,
always. And she's plausible. She can make him think black is
white, if she wants to."
"Why don't you talk to him?"
"I? He'd think I'd lost my mind! Besides, that isn't it. If you
- like a man, you want him to do the right thing because he wants
to, not because a girl asks him to."
"I wonder," Audrey said, slowly, "if he's worth it, Delight?"
"Worth what?" She was startled.
"Worth your - worth our worrying about him."
But she did not need Delight's hasty and flushed championship of
Graham to tell her what she already knew.
After she had gone, Audrey sat alone in her empty rooms and faced
a great temptation. She was taking herself out of Clayton's life.
She knew that she would be as lost to him among the thousands of
workers in the munition plant as she would have been in Russia.
According to Clare, he rarely went into the shops themselves, and
never at night.
Of course "out of his life" was a phrase. They would meet again.
But not now, not until they had had time to become resigned to what
they had already accepted. The war would not last forever. And
then she thought of their love, which had been born and had grown,
always with war at its background. They had gone along well enough
until this winter, and then everything had changed. Chris, Natalie,
Clayton, herself - none of them were quite what they had been. Was
that one of the gains of war, that sham fell away, and people
revealed either the best or the worst in them?
War destroyed, but it also revealed.
The temptation was to hear Clayton's voice again. She went to the
telephone, and stood with the instrument in her hands, thinking.
Would it comfort him? Or would it only bring her close for a moment,
to emphasize her coming silence?
She put it down, and turned away. When, some time later, the
taxicab came to take her to Perry Street, she was lying on her bed
in the dusk, face-down and arms outstretched, a lonely and pathetic
figure, all her courage dead for the moment, dead but for the
desire to hear Clayton's voice again before the silence closed down.
She got up and pinned on her hat for the last time, before the
mirror of the little inlaid dressing-table. And she smiled rather
forlornly at her reflection in the glass.
"Well, I've got the present, anyhow," she considered. "I'm not
going either to wallow in the past or peer into the future. I'm
going to work."
The prospect cheered her. After all, work was the great solution.
It was the great healer, too. That was why men bore their griefs
better than women. They could work.
She took a final glance around her stripped and cheerless rooms.
How really little things mattered! All her life she had been
burdened with things. Now at last she was free of them.
The shabby room on Perry Street called her. Work called, beckoned
to her with calloused, useful hands. She closed and locked the
door and went quietly down the stairs.
One day late in May, Clayton, walking up-town in lieu of the golf
he had been forced to abandon, met Doctor Haverford on the street,
and found his way barred by that rather worried-looking gentleman.
"I was just going to see you, Clayton," he said. "About two things.
I'll walk back a few blocks with you."
He was excited, rather exalted.
"I'm going in," he announced. "Regimental chaplain. I've got a
year's leave of absence. I'm rather vague about what a chaplain
does, but I rather fancy he can be useful."
"You'll get over, of course. You're lucky. And you'll find plenty
"I've been rather anxious," Doctor Haverford confided. "I've been
a clergyman so long that I don't know just how I'll measure up as
a man. You know what I mean. I am making no reflection on the
church. But I've been sheltered and - well, I've been looked after.
I don't think I am physically brave. It would be a fine thing,"
he said wryly, "if the chaplain were to turn and run under fire!"
"I shouldn't worry about that."
"My salary is to go on. But I don't like that, either. If I hadn't
a family I wouldn't accept it. Delight thinks I shouldn't, anyhow.
As a matter of fact, there ought to be no half-way measures about
our giving ourselves. If I had a son to give it would be different."
Clayton looked straight ahead. He knew that the rector had, for the
moment, forgotten that he had a son to give and that he had not yet
"Why don't you accept a small allowance?" he inquired quietly. "Or,
better still, why don't you let me know how much it will take and
let me do it? I'd like to feel that I was represented in France
- by you," he added.
And suddenly the rector remembered. He was most uncomfortable, and
"Thanks. I can't let you do that, of course."
"Because, hang it all, Clayton, I'm not a parasite. I took the car,
because it enabled me to do my parish work better. But I'm not
going to run off to war and let you keep my family."
Clayton glanced at him, at his fine erect old figure, his warmly
flushed face. War did strange things. There was a new light in the
rector's once worldly if kindly eyes. He had the strained look of a
man who sees great things, as yet far away, and who would hasten
toward them. Insensibly he quickened his pace.
"But I can't go myself, so why can't I send a proxy?"
Clayton asked, smiling. "I've an idea I'd be well represented."
"That's a fine way to look at it, but I can't do it. I've saved
something, not much, but it will do for a year or two. I'm glad
you made the offer, though. It was like you, and - it showed me
the way. I can't let any man, or any group of men, finance my
And he stuck to it. Clayton, having in mind those careful canvasses
of the congregation of Saint Luke's which had every few years
resulted in raising the rector's salary, was surprised and touched.
After all, war was like any other grief. It brought out the best
or the worst in us. It roused or it crushed us.
The rector had been thinking.
"I'm a very fortunate man," he said, suddenly. "They're standing
squarely behind me, at home. It's the women behind the army that
will make it count, Clayton."
Clayton said nothing.
"Which reminds me," went on the rector, "that I find Mrs. Valentine
has gone away. I called on her to-day, and she has given up her
apartment. Do you happen to know where she is? She has left no
"Gone away?" Clayton repeated. "Why, no. I hadn't heard of it."
There in the busy street he felt a strange sense of loneliness.
Always, although he did not see her, he felt her presence. She
walked the same streets. For the calling, if his extremity became
too great, he could hear her voice over the telephone. There was
always the hope, too, of meeting her. Not by design. She had
forbidden that. But some times perhaps God would be good to them
both, if they earned it, and they could touch hands for a moment.
But - gone!
"You are certain she left no address?"
"Quite certain. She has stored her furniture, I believe."
There was a sense of hurt, then, too. She had made this decision
without telling him. It seemed incredible. A dozen decisions a
day he made, and when they were vital there was always in his mind
the question as to whether she would approve or not. He could not
go to her with them, but mentally he was always consulting with
her, earning her approbation. And she had gone without a word.
"Do you think she has gone to France?" He knew his voice sounded
stiff and constrained.
"I hope not. She was being so useful here. Of course, the draft
law - amazing thing, the draft law! Never thought we'd come to it.
But it threw her out, in a way, of course."
"What has the draft law to do with Mrs. Valentine?"
"Why, you know what she was doing, don't you?"
"I haven't seen her recently."
The rector half-stopped.
"Well!" he said. "Let me tell you, Clayton, that that girl has
been recruiting men, night after night and day after day. She's
done wonders. Standing in a wagon, mind you, in the slums, or
anywhere; I heard her one night. By George, I went home and tore
up a sermon I had been working on for days."
Why hadn't he known? Why hadn't he realized that that was exactly
the sort of thing she would do? There was bitterness in his heart,
too. He might easily have stood unseen in the crowd, and have
watched and listened and been proud of her. Then, these last weeks,
when he had been working, or dining out, or sitting dreary and
bored in a theater, she had been out in the streets. Ah, she lived,
did Audrey. Others worked and played, but she lived. Audrey!
" - in the rain," the rector was saying. "But she didn't mind it.
I remember her saying to the crowd, 'It's raining over here, and
maybe it's raining on the fellows in the trenches. But I tell you,
I'd rather be over there, up to my waist in mud and water, than
scurrying for a doorway here.' They had started to run out of the
shower, but at that they grinned and stopped. She was wonderful,
In the rain! And after it was over she would go home, in some
crowded bus or car, to her lonely rooms, while he rolled about the
city in a limousine! It was cruel of her not to have told him, not
to have allowed him at least to see that she was warm and dry.
"I've been very busy. I hadn't heard," he said, slowly. "Is it
- was it generally known?"
Had Natalie known, and kept it from him?
"I think not. Delight saw her and spoke to her, I believe."
"And you have no idea where she is now."
He learned that night that Natalie had known, and he surprised a
little uneasiness in her face.
"I - heard about it," she said. "I can't imagine her making a
speech. She's not a bit oratorical."
"We might have sent out one of the cars for her, if I'd known."
"Oh, she was looked after well enough."
Natalie had made an error, and knew it.
"I heard that a young clergyman was taking her round," she said,
and changed the subject. But he knew that she was either lying or
keeping something from him. In those days of tension he found her
half-truths more irritating than her rather childish falsehoods.
In spite of himself, however, the thought of the young clergyman
That night, stretched in the low chair in his dressing-room, under
the reading light, he thought over things carefully. If he loved
her as he thought he did, he ought to want her to be happy. Things
between them were hopeless and wretched. If this clergyman, or
Sloane, or any other man loved her, and he groaned as he thought
how lovable she was, then why not want for her such happiness as
she could find?
He slept badly that night, and for some reason Audrey wove herself
into his dreams of the new plant. The roar of the machinery took
on the soft huskiness of her voice, the deeper note he watched for
Anna Klein stood in her small room and covered her mouth with her
hands, lest she shriek aloud. She knew quite well that the bomb
in the suit-case would not suffice to blow up the whole great
plant. But she knew what the result of its explosion would be.
The shells were not loaded at the Spencer plant. They were shipped
away for that. But the fuses were loaded there, and in the small
brick house at the end of the fuse building there were stored
masses of explosive, enough to destroy a town. It was there, of
course, that Herman was to place the bomb. She knew how he would
do it, carefully, methodically, and with what a lumbering awkward
gait he would make his escape.
Her whole mind was bent on giving the alarm. On escaping, first,
and then on arousing the plant. But when the voices below continued,
long after Herman had gone, she was entirely desperate. Herman had
not carried out the suit-case. He had looked, indeed, much as usual
as he walked out the garden path and closed the gate behind him. He
had walked rather slowly, but then he always walked slowly. She
seemed to see, however, a new caution in his gait, as of one who
dreaded to stumble.
She dressed herself, with shaking fingers, and pinned on her hat.
The voices still went on below, monotonous, endless; the rasping of
Rudolph's throat, irritated by cheap cigarets, the sound of glasses
on the table, once a laugh, guttural and mirthless. It was ten
o'clock when she knew, by the pushing back of their chairs, that
they were preparing to depart. Ten o'clock!
She was about to commence again the feverish unscrewing of the door
hinges, when she heard Rudolph's step on the stairs. She had only
time to get to the back of her room, beside the bed, when she heard
him try the knob.
She let him call her again.
"What is it?"
"You in bed?"
"Yes. Go away and let me alone. I've got a right to sleep, anyhow."
"I'm going out, but I'll be back in ten minutes. You try any tricks
and I'll get you. See?"
"You make me sick," she retorted.
She heard him turn and run lightly down the stairs. Only when she
heard the click of the gate did she dare to begin again at the door.
She got down-stairs easily, but she was still a prisoner. However,
she found the high little window into the coal-shed open, and crawled
through it, to stand listening. The street was quiet.
Once outside the yard she started to run. They would let her
telephone from the drug-store, even without money. She had no
money. But the drug-store was closed and dark, and the threat of
Rudolph's return terrified her. She must get off the hill, somehow.
There were still paths down the steep hill-side, dangerous things
that hugged the edge of small, rocky precipices, or sloped steeply
to sudden turns. But she had played over the hill all her young
life. She plunged down, slipping and falling a dozen times, and
muttering, some times an oath, some times a prayer,
"Oh, God, let me be in time. Oh, God, hold him up a while until
I - " then a slip. "If I fall now - "
Only when she was down in the mill district did she try to make any
plan. It was almost eleven then, and her ears were tense with
listening for the sound she dreaded. She faced her situation, then.
She could not telephone from a private house, either to the mill or
to the Spencer house, what she feared, and the pay-booths of the
telephone company demanded cash in advance. She was incapable of
clear thought, or she would have found some way out, undoubtedly.
What she did, in the end, was to board an up-town car and throw
herself on the mercy of the conductor.
"I've got to get up-town," she panted. "I'll not go in. See?
I'll stand here and you take me as far as you can. Look at me!
I don't look as though I'm just bumming a ride, do I?"
The conductor hesitated. He had very little faith in human nature,
but Anna's eyes were both truthful and desperate. He gave the
signal to go on.
"What's up?" he said. "Police after you?"
"Yes," Anna replied briefly.
There is, in certain ranks, a tacit conspiracy against the police.
The conductor hated them. They rode free on his car, and sometimes
kept an eye on him in the rush hours. They had a way, too, of
letting him settle his own disputes with inebriated gentlemen who
refused to pay their fares.
"Looks as though they'd come pretty close to grabbing you," he
opened, by way of conversation. "But ten of 'em aren't a match for
one smart girl. They can't run. All got flat feet."
Anna nodded. She was faint and dizzy, and the car seemed to creep
along. It was twenty minutes after eleven when she got out. The
conductor leaned down after her, hanging to the handrail.
"Good luck to you!" he said. "And you'd better get a better face
on you than that. It's enough to send you up, on suspicion!"
She hardly heard him. She began to run, and again she said over
and over her little inarticulate prayer. She knew the Spencer
house. More than once she had walked past it, on Sunday afternoons,
for the sheer pleasure of seeing Graham's home. Well, all that was
over now. Everything was over, unless -
The Spencer house was dark, save for a low light in the hall. A
new terror seized her. Suppose Graham saw her. He might not
believe her story. He might think it a ruse to see his father.
But, as it happened, Clayton had sent the butler to bed, and
himself answered the bell from the library.
He recognized her at once, and because he saw the distress on her
face he brought her in at once. In the brief moment that it
required to turn on the lights he had jumped to a sickening
conviction that Graham was at the bottom of her visit, and her
appearance in full light confirmed this.
"Come into the library," he said. "We can talk in there." He led
the way and drew up a chair for her. But she did not sit down. She
steadied herself by its back, instead.
"You think it's about Graham," she began. "It isn't, not directly,
that is. And my coming is terrible, because it's my own father.
They're going to blow up the munition plant, Mr. Spencer!"
"To-night, I think. I came as fast as I could. I was locked in.
"Locked in?" He was studying her face.
"Yes. Don't bother about that now. I'm not crazy or hysterical.
I tell you I heard them. I've been a prisoner or I'd have come
sooner. To-day they brought something - dynamite or a bomb - in a
suit-case - and it's gone to-night. He took it - my father."
He was already at the telephone as she spoke. He called the mill
first, and got the night superintendent. Then he called a number
Anna supposed was the police station, and at the same time he was
ringing the garage-signal steadily for his car. By the time he
had explained the situation to the police, his car was rolling
under the porte-cochere beside the house. He was starting out,
forgetful of the girl, when she caught him by the arm.
"You mustn't go!" she cried. "You'll be killed, too. It will all
go, all of it. You can't be spared, Mr. Spencer. You can build
another mill, but - "
He shook her off, gently.
"Of course I'm going," he said. "We'll get it in time. Don't you
worry. You sit down here and rest, and when it's all straightened
out I'll come back. I suppose you can't go home, after this?"
"No," she said, dully.
He ran out, hatless, and a moment later she heard the car rush out
into the night.
Five minutes passed. Ten. Anna Klein stood, staring ahead of her.
When nothing happened she moved around and sat down in the chair.
She was frightfully tired. She leaned her head back and tried to
think of something to calm her shaking nerves, - that this was
Graham's home, that he sometimes sat in that very chair. But she
found that Graham meant nothing to her. Nothing mattered, except
that her warning had been in time.
So intent was she on the thing that she was listening for that
smaller, near-by sounds escaped her. So she did not hear a door
open up-stairs and the soft rustle of a woman's negligee as it
swept from stair to stair. But as the foot-steps outside the door
she stood up quickly and looked back over her shoulder.
Natalie stood framed in the doorway, staring at her.
"Well?" she said. And on receiving no answer from the frightened
girl, "What are you doing here?"
The ugly suspicion in her voice left Anna speechless for a moment.
"Don't move, please," said Natalie's cold voice. "Stay just where
you are." She reached behind the curtain at the doorway, and Anna
heard the far-away ringing of a bell, insistent and prolonged. The
girl roused herself with an effort.
"I came to see Mr. Spencer."
"That is a likely story! Who let you in?"
"Mr. Spencer is not in."
"But he did. I'm telling you the truth. Indeed I am. I rang the
bell, and he came to the door. I had something to tell him."
"What could you possibly have to tell my husband at this hour."
But Anna Klein did not answer. From far away there came a dull
report followed almost immediately by a second one. The windows
rattled, and the house seemed to rock rather gently on its
foundation. Then silence.
Anna Klein picked up her empty pocket-book from the table and looked
"I was too late," she said dully, and the next moment she was lying
at Natalie's feet.
It was not until dawn that the full extent of the disaster was
revealed. All night, by the flames from the sheds in the yard,
which were of wood and still burning, rescue parties had worked
frantically. Two of the long buildings, nearest to the fuse
department, had collapsed entirely. Above the piles of fallen
masonry might be seen, here and there, the black mass of some
machine or lathe, and it was there the search parties were
laboring. Luckily the fuse department had not gone double turn,
and the night shift in the machine-shop was not a full one.
The fuse department was a roaring furnace, and repeated calls
had brought in most of the fire companies of the city. Running
back and forth in the light of the flames were the firemen and such
volunteer rescuers as had been allowed through the police cordon.
Outside that line of ropes and men were gathered a tragic crowd,
begging, imploring to be allowed through to search for some beloved
body. Now and then a fresh explosion made the mob recoil, only to
press close again, importuning, tragic, hopeless.
The casualty list ran high. All night long ambulances stood in a
row along the street, backed up to the curb and waiting, and ever
so often a silent group, in broken step, carried out some quiet
covered thing that would never move again.
With the dawn Graham found his father. He had thrown off his coat
and in his shirt-sleeves was, with other rescuers, digging in the
ruins. Graham himself had been working. He was nauseated, weary,
and unutterably wretched, for he had seen the night superintendent
and had heard of his father's message.
"Klein!" he said. "You don't mean Herman Klein?"
"That was what he said. I was to find him and hold him until he
got here. But I couldn't find him. He may have got out. There's
no way of telling now."
Waves of fresh nausea swept over Graham. He sat down on a pile of
bricks and wiped his forehead, clammy with sweat.
"I hope to God he was burned alive," muttered the other man,
surveying the scene. His eyes were reddened with smoke from the
fire, his clothing torn.
"I was knocked down myself," he said. "I was out in the yard
looking for Klein, and I guess I lay there quite a while. If I
hadn't gone out?" He shrugged his shoulders.
"How many women were on the night shift?"
"Not a lot. Twenty, perhaps. If I had my way I'd take every
German in the country and boil 'em in oil. I didn't want Klein
back, but he was a good workman. Well, he's done a good job now."
It was after that that Graham saw his father, a strange, wild-eyed
Clayton who drove his pick with a sort of mad strength, and at the
same time gave orders in an unfamiliar voice. Graham, himself a
disordered figure, watched him for a moment. He was divided between
fear and resolution. Some place in that debacle there lay his own
responsibility. He was still bewildered, but the fact that Anna's
father had done the thing was ominous.
The urge to confession was stronger than his fears. Somehow, during
the night, he had become a man. But now he only felt, that somehow,
during the night, he had become a murderer.
Clayton looked up, and he moved toward him."
"I've had some coffee made at a house down the street. Won't you
come and have it?"
Clayton straightened. He was very tired, and the yard was full of
volunteers now, each provided at the gate with a pick or shovel. A
look at the boy's face decided him.
"I'll come," he said, and turned his pick over to a man beside him.
He joined Graham, and for a moment he looked into the boy's eyes.
Then he put a hand on his shoulder, and together they walked out,
past the line of ambulances, into a street where the scattered
houses showed not a single unshattered window, and the pavements
were littered with glass.
His father's touch comforted the boy, but it made even harder the
thing he had to do. For he could not go through life with this
thing on his soul. There had been a moment, after he learned of
Herman's implication, when he felt the best thing would be to kill
himself, but he had put that aside. It was too easy. If Herman
Klein had done this thing because of Anna and himself, then he was
a murderer. If he had done it because he was a German, then he
- Graham - had no right to die. He would live to make as many
Germans as possible pay for this night's work.
"I've got something to tell you, father," he said, as they paused
before the house where the coffee was ready. Clayton nodded, and
together they went inside. Even this house was partially destroyed.
A piece of masonry had gone through the kitchen, and standing on
fallen bricks and plaster, a cheerful old woman was cooking over a
stove which had somehow escaped destruction.
"It's bad," she said to Graham, as she poured the coffee into cups,
"but it might have been worse, Mr. Spencer. We're all alive. And
I guess I'll understand what my boy's writing home about now.
They've sure brought the war here this night."
Graham carried the coffee into the little parlor, where Clayton sat
dropped on a low chair, his hands between his knees. He was a
strange, disheveled figure, gray of face and weary, and the hand
he held out for the cup was blistered and blackened. Graham did not
touch his coffee. He put it on the mantel, and stood waiting while
Clayton finished his.
"Shall I tell you now, sir?"
Clayton drew a long breath.
"It was Herman Klein who did it?"
"Probably. I had a warning last night, but it was too late. I
should have known, of course, but somehow I didn't. He'd been with
us a long time. I'd have sworn he was loyal."
For the first time in his life Graham saw his father weaken, the
pitiful, ashamed weakness of a strong man. His voice broke, his
face twitched. The boy drew himself up; they couldn't both go to
pieces. He could not know that Clayton had worked all that night
in that hell with the conviction that in some way his own son was
responsible; that he knew already what Graham was about to tell him.
"If Herman Klein did it, father, it was because he was the tool of
a gang. And the reason he was a tool was because he thought I was
- living with Anna. I wasn't. I don't know why I wasn't. There
was every chance. I suppose I meant to some time. Anyhow, he
thought I was."
If he had expected any outbreak from Clayton, he met none. Clayton
sat looking ahead, and listening. Inside of the broken windows the
curtains were stirring in the fresh breeze of early morning, and in
the kitchen the old woman was piling the fallen bricks noisily.
"I had been flirting with her a little - it wasn't much more than
that, and I gave her a watch at Christmas. He found it out, and he
beat her. Awfully. She ran away and sent for me, and I met her.
She had to hide for days. Her face was all bruised. Then she got
sick from it. She was sick for weeks."
"Did he know where she was?"
"I think not, or he'd have gone to get her. But Rudolph Klein knew
something. I took her out to dinner, to a roadhouse, a few days ago,
and she said she saw him there. I didn't. All that time, weeks,
I'd never - I'd never gone to her room. That night I did. I don't
know why. I - "
"Well, I went, but I didn't stay. I couldn't. I guess she thought
I was crazy. I went away, that's all. And the next day I felt that
she might be feeling as though I'd turned her down or something.
And I felt responsible. Maybe you won't understand. I don't quite
myself. Anyhow, I went back, to let her know I wasn't quite a brute,
even if - But she was gone. I'm not trying to excuse myself. It's
a rotten story, for I was engaged to Marion then."
Suddenly he sat down beside Clayton and buried his face in his hands.
For some reason or other Clayton found himself back in the hospital,
that night when Joey lay still and quiet, and Graham was sobbing like
a child, prostrate on the white covering of the bed. With the
incredible rapidity of thought in a mental crisis, he saw the last
months, the boy's desire to go to France thwarted, his attempt to
interest himself in the business, the tool Marion Hayden had made of
him, Anna's doglike devotion, all leading inevitably to catastrophe.
And through it all he saw Natalie, holding Graham back from war,
providing him with extra money, excusing him, using his confidences
for her own ends, insidiously sapping the boy's confidence in his
father and himself.
"We'll have to stand up to this together, Graham."
The boy looked up.
"Then - you're not going to throw me over altogether - "
"But - all this - !"
"If Herman Klein had not done it, there were others who would,
probably. It looks as though you had provided them with a tool,
but I suppose we were vulnerable in a dozen ways."
He rose, and they stood, eyes level, father and son, in the early
morning sunlight. And suddenly Graham's arms were around his
shoulders, and something tight around Clayton's heart relaxed.
Once again, and now for good, he had found his boy, the little boy
who had not so long ago stood on a chair for this very embrace.
Only now the boy was a man.
"I'm going to France, father," he said. "I'm going to pay them back
for this. And out of every two shots I fire one will be for you."
Perhaps he had found his boy only to lose him, but that would have
to be as God willed.
At ten o'clock he went up to the house, to change his wet and
draggled clothing. The ruins were being guarded by soldiers, and
the work of rescue was still going on, more slowly now, since there
was little or no hope of finding any still living thing in that
flame-swept wreckage. He found Natalie in bed, with Madeleine in
attendance, and he learned that her physician had just gone.
He felt that he could not talk to her just then. She had a morbid
interest in horrors, and with the sights of that night fresh in
his mind he could not discuss them. He stopped, however, in her
"I'm glad you are resting," he said, "Better stay in bed to-day.
It's been a shock."
"Resting! I've been frightfully ill."
"I'm sorry, my dear. I'll come in again on my way out."
He turned in the doorway.
"Is it all gone? Everything?"
"But you were insured?"
"I'll tell you about that later. I haven't given it much thought
yet. I don't know just how we stand."
"I shall never let Graham go back to it again. I warn you. I've
been lying here for hours, thinking that it might have happened as
easily as not while he was there."
He hardly listened. He had just remembered Anna.
"I left a girl here last night, Natalie," he said. "Do you happen
to know what became of her?"
Natalie stirred on her pillows.
"I should think I do. She fainted, or pretended to faint. The
servants looked after her."
"Has she gone?"
"I hope so. It is almost noon. Oh, by the way," she called, as
he moved off, "there is a message for you. A woman named Gould,
from the Central Hospital. She wants to see you at once. They
have kept the telephone ringing all the morning."
Clare Gould! That was odd. He had seen her taken out, a bruised
and moaning creature, her masses of fair hair over her shoulders,
her eyes shut. The surgeons had said she was not badly hurt. She
might be worse than they thought. The mention of her name brought
Audrey before him. He hoped, wherever she was, she would know that
he was all right.
As soon as he had changed he called the hospital. The message came
back promptly and clearly.
"We have a woman named Gould here. She is not badly hurt, but she
is hysterical. She wants to see you, but if you can't come at once
I am to give you a message. Wait a moment. She has written it,
but it's hardly legible."
"It's about somebody you know, who had gone on night turn recently
at your plant. I can't read the name. It looks like Ballantine."
"It isn't Valentine, is it?"
"Perhaps it is. It's just a scrawl. But the first name is clear
enough - Audrey."
Afterward he did not remember hanging up the receiver, or getting
out of the house. He seemed to come to himself somewhat at the
hospital, and at the door to Clare's ward his brain suddenly cleared.
He did not need Clare's story. It seemed that he knew it all, had
known it long ages before. Her very words sounded like infinite
repetitions of something he had heard, over and over.
"She was right beside me, and I was showing her about the lathe.
They'd told me I could teach her. She was picking it up fast, too.
And she liked it. She liked it - "
The fact that Audrey had liked it broke down his scanty reserve of
restraint. Clayton found himself looking down at her from a great
distance. She was very remote. Clare pulled herself together.
"When the first explosion came it didn't touch us. But I guess she
knew it meant more. She said something about the telephone and
getting help and there'd be more, and she started to run. I just
stood there, watching her run, and waiting. And then the second
one came, and - "
Suddenly Clare seemed to disappear altogether. He felt something
catch his arm, and the nurse's voice, very calm and quiet:
"Sit down. I'll get you something."
Then he was swallowing a fluid that burned his throat, and Clare
was crying with the sheet drawn to her mouth, and somewhere
He got up, and the nurse followed him out.
"You might look for the person here," she suggested. "We have had
several brought in."
He was still dazed, but he followed her docilely. Audrey was not
there. He seemed to have known that, too. That there would be a
long search, and hours of agony, and at the end - the one thing he
did not know was what was to be at the end.
All that afternoon he searched, going from hospital to hospital.
And at each one, as he stopped, that curious feeling of inner
knowledge told him she was not there. But the same instinct told
him she was not dead. He would have known it if she was dead.
There was no reasoning in it. He could not reason. But he knew,
Then, late in the afternoon, he found her. He knew that he had
found her. It was as though, at the entrance of the hospital, some
sixth sense had told him this was right at last. He was quite
steady, all at once. She was here, waiting for him to come. And
now he had come, and it would be all right.
Yet, for a time, it seemed all wrong. She was not conscious, had
not roused since she was brought it. There were white screens
around her bed, and behind them she lay alone. They had braided
her hair in two long dark braids, and there was a bandage on one
of her arms. She looked very young and very tired, but quite
His arrival had caused a small stir of excitement, his own
prominence, the disaster with which the country was ringing. But
for a few minutes, before the doctors arrived, he was alone with
her behind the screen. It was like being alone with his dead.
Bent over her, his face pressed to one of her quiet hands, he
whispered to her all the little tendernesses, the aching want of
her, that so long he had buried in his heart. Things he could not
have told her, waking, he told her then. It seemed, too, that she
must rouse to them, that she must feel him there beside her,
calling her back. But she did not move.
It was then, for the first time, that he wondered what he would do
if she should die.
The doctors, coming behind the screen, found him sitting erect and
still, staring ahead of him, with a strange expression on his face.
He had just decided that he could not, under any circumstances,
live if she died.
It was rather a good thing for Clayton's sanity that they gave him
hope. He was completely unnerved, tired and desperate. Indeed,
when they came in he had been picturing Audrey and himself,
wandering hand in hand, very quietly and contentedly, in some
strange world which was his rather hazy idea of the Beyond. It
seemed to him quite sane and extraordinarily happy.
The effort of meeting the staff roused him, and, with hope came a
return to normality. There was much to be done, special nurses,
a private room, and - rather reluctantly - friends and relatives
to be notified. Only for a few minutes, out of all of life, had
she been his. He must give her up now. Life had become one long
He did not go home at all that night. He divided his time between
the plant and the hospital, going back and forward. Each time he
found the report good. She was still strong; no internal injuries
had manifested themselves, and the concussion would probably wear
off before long. He wanted to be there when she first opened her
eyes. He was afraid she might be frightened, and there would be
a bad minute when she remembered - if she did remember.
At midnight, going into the room, he found Mrs. Haverford beside
Audrey's bed, knitting placidly. She seemed to accept his being
there as perfectly natural, and she had no sick-room affectations.
She did not whisper, for one thing.
"The nurse thinks she is coming round, Clayton," she said. "I
waited, because I thought she ought to see a familiar face when
Mrs. Haverford was eminently good for him. Her cheerful
matter-of-factness her competent sanity, restored his belief in a
world that had seemed only chaos and death. How much, he wondered
later, had Mrs. Haverford suspected? He had not been in any
condition to act a part. But whatever she suspected he knew was
locked in her kindly breast.
Audrey moved slightly, and he went over to her. When he glanced
up again Mrs. Haverford had gone out.
So it was that Audrey came back to him, and to him alone. She asked
no questions. She only lay quite still on her white pillows, and
looked at him. Even when he knelt beside her and drew her toward
him, she said nothing, but she lifted her uninjured hand and softly
caressed his bent head. Clayton never knew whether Mrs. Haverford
had come back and seen that or not. He did not care, for that
matter. It seemed to him just then that all the world must know
what was so vitally important, so transcendently wonderful.
Not until Audrey's eyes closed again, and he saw that she was
sleeping, did he loosen his arms from around her.
When at last he went out to the stiffly furnished hospital parlor,
he found Mrs. Haverford sitting there alone, still knitting. But
he rather thought she had been crying. There was an undeniably
moist handkerchief on her knee.
"She roused a little while ago," he said, trying to speak quietly,
and as though Audrey's rousing were not the wonder that it was.
"She seemed very comfortable. And now she's sleeping."
"The dear child!" said Mrs. Haverford. "If she had died, after
everything - " Her plump face quivered. "Things have never been
very happy for her, Clayton."
"I'm afraid not." He went to a window and stood looking out. The
city was not quiet, but its mighty roar of the day was lowered to a
monotonous, drowsy humming. From the east, reflected against
low-hanging clouds, was the dull red of his own steel mills, looking
like the reflection of a vast conflagration.
"Not very happy," he repeated.
"Some times," Mrs. Haverford was saying, "I wonder about things.
People go along missing the best things in life, and - I suppose
there is a reason for it, but some times I wonder if He ever meant
us to go on, crucifying our own souls."
So she did know!
"What would you have us do?"
"I don't know. I suppose there isn't any answer."
Afterward, Clayton found that that bit of conversation with Mrs.
Haverford took on the unreality of the rest of that twenty-four
hours. But one part of it stood out real and hopelessly true.
There wasn't any answer!
Anna Klein had gone home, at three o'clock that terrible morning,
a trembling, white-faced girl. She had done her best, and she
had failed. Unlike Graham, she had no feeling of personal
responsibility, but she felt she could never again face her father,
with the thing that she knew between them. There were other
reasons, too. Herman would be arrested, and she would be called
to testify. She had known. She had warned Mr. Spencer. The gang,
Rudolph's gang, would get her for that.
She knew where they were now. They would be at Gus's, in the back
room, drinking to the success of their scheme, and Gus, who was a
German too, would be with them, offering a round of drinks on the
house now and then as his share of the night's rejoicing. Gus,
who was already arranging to help draft-dodgers by sending them
over the Mexican border.
She would have to go back, to get in and out again if she could,
before Herman came back. She had no clothes, except what she stood
up in, and those in her haste that night were, only her print
house-dress with a long coat. She would have to find a new position,
and she would have to have her clothing to get about in. She
dragged along, singularly unmolested. Once or twice a man eyed her,
but her white face and vacant eyes were unattractive, almost sodden.
She was barely able to climb the hill, and as she neared the house
her trepidation increased. What if Herman had come back? If he
suspected her he would kill her. He must have been half mad to
have done the thing, anyhow. He would surely be half mad now. And
because she was young and strong, and life was still a mystery to
be solved, she did not want to die. Strangely enough, face to face
with danger there was still, in the back of her head, an exultant
thrill in her very determination to live. She would start over
again, and she would work hard and make good.
"You bet I'll make good," she resolved. "Just give me a chance and
I'll work my fool head off."
Which was by way of being a prayer.
It was the darkest hour before the dawn when she reached the cottage.
It was black and very still, and outside the gate she stooped and
slipped off her shoes. The window into the shed by which she had
escaped was still open, and she crouched outside, listening. When
the stillness remained unbroken she climbed in, tense for a movement
or a blow.
Once inside, however, she drew a long breath. The doors were still
locked, and the keys gone. So Herman had not returned. But as she
stood there, hurried stealthy footsteps came along the street and
turned in at the gate. In a panic she flew up the stairs and into
her room, where the door still hung crazily on its hinges. She
stood there, listening, her heart pounding in her ears, and below
she distinctly heard a key in the kitchen door. She did the only
thing she could think of. She lifted the door into place, and
stood against it, bracing it with her body.
Whoever it was was in the kitchen now, moving however more swiftly
than Herman. She heard matches striking. Then:
She knew that it was Rudolph, and she braced herself mentally.
Rudolph was keener than Herman. If he found her door in that
condition, and she herself dressed?! Working silently and still
holding the door in place, she flung off her coat. She even
unpinned her hair and unfastened her dress.
When his signal remained unanswered a second time he called her
by name, and she heard him coming up.
"Anna!" he repeated.
He was startled to hear her voice so close to the door. In the
dark she heard him fumbling for the knob. He happened on the
padlock instead, and he laughed a little. By that she knew that
he was not quite sober.
"Locked you in, has he?"
"What do you want?"
"Has Herman come home yet?"
"He doesn't get home until seven."
"Hasn't he been back at all, to-night?"
"How do I know? I've been asleep!"
"Some sleep!" he said, and suddenly lurched against the door.
In spite of her it yielded, and although she braced herself with
all her strength, his weight against it caused it to give way. It
was a suspicious, crafty Rudolph who picked himself up and made a
clutch at her in the dark.
"You little liar," he said thickly. And struck a match. She
cowered away from him.
"I was going to run away, Rudolph," she cried. "He hasn't any
business locking me in, I won't stand for it."
"You've been out."
"Out - after him!"
"Honest to God, Rudolph, no. I hate him. I don't ever want to
see him again."
He put a hand out into the darkness, and finding her, tried to draw
her to him. She struggled, and he released her. All at once she
knew that he was weak with fright. The bravado had died out of him.
The face she had touched was covered with a clammy sweat.
"I wish to God Herman would come."
"What d' you want with him?"
"Have you got any whisky?"
"You've had enough of that stuff."
Some one was walking along the street outside. She felt that he
was listening, crouched ready to run; but the steps went on.
"Look here, Anna," he said, when he had pulled himself together
again. "I'm going to get out of this. I'm going away."
"All right. You can go for all of me."
"D'you mean to say you've been asleep all night? You didn't hear
"You'll know soon enough." Then he told her, hurriedly, that he
was going away. He'd come back to get her to promise to follow
him. He wasn't going to stay here and -
"And be drafted," he finished, rather lamely.
"Gus has a friend in a town on the Mexican border," he said. "He's
got maps of the country to Mexico City, and the Germans there fix
you up all right. I'll get rich down there and some day I'll send
for you? What's that?"
He darted to the window, faintly outlined by a distant street-lamp.
Three men were standing quietly outside the gate, and a fourth was
already in the garden, silently moving toward the house. She felt
Rudolph brush by her, and the trembling hand he laid on her arm.
"Now lie!" he whispered fiercely. "You haven't seen me. I haven't
been here to-night."
Then he was gone. She ran to the window. The other three men were
coming in, moving watchfully and slowly, and Rudolph was at Katie's
window, cursing. If she was a prisoner, so was Rudolph. He
realized that instantly, and she heard him breaking out the sash
with a chair. At the sound the three figures broke into a run, and
she heard the sash give way. Almost instantly there was firing.
The first shot was close, and she knew it was Rudolph firing from
the window. Some wild design of braining him from behind with a
chair flashed into her desperate mind, but when she had felt her
way into Katie's room he had gone. The garden below was quiet,
but there was yelling and the crackling of underbrush from the
hill-side. Then a scattering of shots again, and silence. The
yard was empty.
The hill paid but moderate attention to shots. They were usually
merely pyrotechnic, and indicated rejoicing rather than death. But
here and there she heard a window raised, and then lowered again.
The hill had gone back to bed. Anna went into her room and dressed.
For the first time it had occurred to her that she might be held by
the police, and the thought was unbearable. It was when she was
making her escape that she found a prostrate figure in the yard,
and knew that one of Rudolph's shots had gone home. She could not
go away and leave that, not unless - A terrible hatred of Herman
and Rudolph and all their kind suddenly swept over her. She would
not run away. She would stay and tell all the terrible truth. It
was her big moment, and she rose to it. She would see it through.
What was her own safety to letting this band of murderers escape?
And all that in the few seconds it took to reach the fallen figure.
It was only when she was very close that she saw it was moving.
"Tell Dunbar he went to the left," a voice was saying. "The left!
They'll lose him yet."
"Hello," said Joey's voice. He considered that he was speaking
very loud, but it was hardly more than a whisper. "That wasn't
your father, was it? The old boy couldn't jump and run like that."
"Are you hurt?"
He coughed a little, a gurgling cough that rather startled himself.
But he was determined to be a man.
"No. I just lay down here for a nap. Who was it that jumped?"
"My cousin Rudolph. Do you think I can help you into the house?"
"I'll walk there myself in a minute. Unless your cousin Rudolph
- " His head dropped back on her arm. "I feel sort of all in."
His voice trailed off.
"Lemme alone," he muttered. "I'm the first casualty in the
American army! I - " He made a desperate effort to speak in a
man's voice, but the higher boyish notes of sixteen conquered.
"They certainly gave us hell to-night. But we're going to build
again; me and - Clayton Spen - "
All at once he was very still. Anna spoke to him and, that failing,
gave him a frantic little shake. But Joey had gone to another
partnership beyond the stars.
The immediate outstanding result of the holocaust at the munitions
works was the end of Natalie's dominion aver Graham. She never
quite forgave him the violence with which he threw off her shackles.
"If I'd been half a man I'd have been over there long ago," he
said, standing before her, tall and young and flushed. "I'd have
learned my job by now, and I'd be worth something, now I'm needed."
"And broken my heart."
"Hearts don't break that way, mother."
"Well, you say you are going now. I should think you'd be
satisfied. There's plenty of time for you to get the glory you
"Glory! I don't want any glory. And as for plenty of time - that's
exactly what there isn't."
During the next few days she preserved an obstinate silence on the
subject. She knew he had been admitted to one of the officers'
training-camps, and that he was making rather helpless and puzzled
purchases. Going into his room she would find a dressing-case of
khaki leather, perhaps, or flannel shirts of the same indeterminate
hue. She would shed futile tears over them, and order them put out
of sight. But she never offered to assist him.
Graham was older, in many ways. He no longer ran up and down the
stairs whistling, and he sought every opportunity to be with his
father. They spent long hours together in the library, when, after
a crowded day, filled with the thousand, problems of reconstructions,
Clayton smoked a great deal, talked a little, rather shame-facedly
after the manner of men, of personal responsibility in the war, and
quietly watched the man who was Graham.
Out of those quiet hours, with Natalie at the theater or reading
up-stairs in bed, Clayton got the greatest comfort of his life. He
would neither look back nor peer anxiously ahead.
The past, with its tragedy, was gone. The future might hold even
worse things. But just now he would live each day as it came,
working to the utmost, and giving his evenings to his boy. The
nights were the worst. He was not sleeping well, and in those
long hours of quiet he tried to rebuild his life along stronger,
sterner lines. Love could have no place in it, but there was
work left. He was strong and he was still young. The country
should have every ounce of energy in him. He would re-build the
plant, on bigger lines than before, and when that was done, he
would build again. The best he could do was not enough.
He scarcely noticed Natalie's withdrawal from Graham and himself.
When she was around he was his old punctilious self, gravely kind,
more than ever considerate. Beside his failure to her, her own
failure to him faded into insignificance. She was as she was, and
through no fault of hers. But he was what he had made himself.
Once or twice he had felt an overwhelming remorse toward her, and
on one such occasion he had made a useless effort to break down the
barrier of her long silence.
"Don't go up-stairs, Natalie," he had begged. "I am not very
amusing, I know, but - I'll try my best. I'll promise not to touch
on anything disagreeable." He had been standing in the hail,
looking up at her on the stair-case, and he smiled. There was
pleading behind the smile, an inarticulate feeling that between
them there might at least be friendship.
"You are never disagreeable," she had said, looking down with
hostile eyes. "You are quite perfect."
"Then won't you wait?"
"Perfection bores me to tears," she said, and went on up the stairs.
On the morning of Graham's departure, however, he found her prepared
to go to the railway-station. She was red-eyed and pale, and he was
very sorry for her.
"Do you think it is wise?" he asked.
"I shall see him off, of course. I may never see him again."
And his own tautened nerves almost gave way.
"Don't say that!" he cried. "Don't even think that. And for God's
sake, Natalie, send him off with a smile. That's the least we can
"I can't take it as casually as you do."
He gave up then in despair. He saw that Graham watched her uneasily
during the early breakfast, and he surmised that the boy's own grip
on his self-control was weakened by the tears that dropped into her
coffee-cup. He reflected bitterly that all over the country strong
women, good women, were sending their boys away to war, giving them
with prayer and exaltation. What was wrong with Natalie? What was
wrong with his whole life?
When Graham was up-stairs, he turned to her.
"Why do you persist in going, Natalie?"
"I intend to go. That's enough."
"Don't you think you've made him unhappy enough?"
"He has made me unhappy enough."
"You. It is always yourself, Natalie. Why don't you ever think of
him?" He went to the door. "Countermand the order for the
limousine," he said to the butler, "and order the small car for Mr.
Graham and myself."
"How dare you do that?"
"I am not going to let you ruin the biggest day in his life."
She saw that he meant it. She was incredulous, reckless, angry,
and thwarted for the first time in her self-indulgent life.
"I hate you," she said slowly. "I hate you!"
She turned and went slowly up the stairs. Graham, knocking at her
door a few minutes later, heard the sound of hysterical sobbing,
within, but received no reply.
"Good-by, mother," he called. "Good-by. Don't worry. I'll be all
When he saw she did not mean to open the door or to reply, he went
rather heavily down the stairs.
"I wish she wouldn't," he said. "It makes me darned unhappy."
But Clayton surmised a relief behind his regret, and in the train
the boy's eyes were happier than they had been for months.
"I don't know how I'll come out, dad," he said. "But if I don't
get through it won't be because I didn't try."
And he did try. The enormous interest of the thing gripped him from
the start; There was romance in it, too. He wore his first uniform,
too small for him as it was, with immense pride. He rolled out in
the morning at reveille, with the feeling that he had just gone to
bed, ate hugely at breakfast, learned to make his own cot-bed, and
lined up on a vast dusty parade ground for endless evolutions in a
It was rather amusing to find himself being ordered about, in a
stentorian voice, by Jackson. And when, in off moments, that
capable ex-chauffeur condescended to a few moments of talk and
relaxation, the boy was highly gratified.
"Do you think I've got anything in me?" he would inquire anxiously.
And Jackson always said heartily, "Sure you have."
There were times when Graham doubted himself, however. There was
one dreadful hour when Graham, in the late afternoon, and under
the eyes of his commanding officer and a group of ladies, conducting
the highly formal and complicated ceremony of changing the guard,
tied a lot of grinning men up in a knot which required the captain
of the company and two sergeants to untangle.
"I'm no earthly good," he confided to Jackson that night, sitting
on the steps of his barracks. "I know it like a-b-c, and then I
get up and try it and all at once I'm just a plain damned fool."
"Don't give up like that, son," Jackson said. "I've seen 'em march
a platoon right into the C.O's porch before now. And once I just
saved a baby-buggy and a pair of twins."
Clayton wrote him daily, and now and then there came a letter from
Natalie, cheerful on the surface, but its cheerfulness obviously
forced. And once, to his great surprise, Marion Hayden wrote him.
"I just want you to know," she said, "that I am still interested
in you, even if it isn't going to be anything else. And that I
am ridiculously proud of you. Isn't it queer to look back on last
Winter and think what a lot of careless idiots we were? I suppose
war doesn't really change us, but it does make us wonder what
we've got in us. I am surprised to find that I am a great deal
better than I ever thought I was!"
There was comfort in the letter, but no thrill. He was far away
from all that now, like one on the first stage of a long journey,
with his eyes ahead.
Then one day he saw a familiar but yet strange figure striding
along the country road. Graham was map-sketching that day, and
the strange but familiar figure was almost on him when he looked
up. It was extremely military, and looked like a general at least.
Also it was very red in the face, and was clutching doggedly in
its teeth an old briar pipe. But what had appeared from the front
to be an ultra military figure on closer inspection turned out to
be a procession. Pulling back hard on a rope behind was the company
The ultra-military figure paused by Graham's sketching-stool, and
said, "Young man, do you know where this creature belongs? I found
her trying to commit suicide on the rifle range - why, Graham!"
It was Doctor Haverford. He grew a trifle less military then, and
borrowed some pipe tobacco. He looked oddly younger, Graham thought,
and rather self-conscious of his uniform.
"Every inch a soldier, Graham," he chuckled. "Still have to use a
hook and eye at the bottom of the coat - blouse," he corrected
himself. "But I'm getting my waist-line again. How's the - whoa!"
he called, as Elinor wrapped the rope around his carefully putted
legs. "Infernal animal!" he grumbled. "I just paid a quarter to
have these puttees shined. How's the family?"
"Mother has gone to Linndale. The house is finished. Have you
been here long, sir?"
"Two weeks. Hang it all, Graham, I wish I'd let this creature
commit suicide. She's - do you know Delight is here?"
"Here? Why, no."
"At the hostess house," said the chaplain, proudly. "Doing her bit,
too. Mrs. Haverford wanted to come too, and sew buttons on, or
something. But I told her two out of three was a fair percentage.
I hear that Washington has sent for your father.
"I hadn't heard."
"He's a big man, Graham. We're going to hear from him. Only - I
thought he looked tired when I saw him last. Somebody ought to
look after him a bit." He was patiently untangling himself from
Elinor's rope. "You know there are two kinds of people in the
world: those who look after themselves and those who look after
others. That's your father - the last."
Graham's face clouded. How true that was! He knew now, as he had
not known before. He was thinking clearly those days. Hard work
and nothing to drink had clarified his mind, and he saw things at
home as they really were. Clayton's infinite patience, his strength
and his gentleness. But he only said:
"He has had a hard year." He raised his eyes and looked at the
chaplain. "I didn't help him any, you know, sir."
"Well, well, that's all over now. We've just one thing to think of,
and that's to beat those German devils back to Berlin. And then
burn Berlin," he added, militantly.
The last Graham saw of him, he was dragging Elinor down the road,
and a faint throaty humming came back, which sounded suspiciously
like "Where do we go from here, boys? Where do we go from here?"
Candidate Spencer took great pains with his toilet that afternoon.
He polished his shoes, and shaved, and he spent a half hour on
some ten sadly neglected finger-nails. At retreat he stood at
attention in the long line, and watched the flag moving slowly and
majestically to the stirring bugle notes. Something swelled almost
to bursting in his throat. That was his flag. He was going to
fight for it. And after that was done he was going to find some
girl, some nice girl - the sort, for instance, that would leave
her home to work in a hostess house. And having found her, he
would marry her, and love and cherish her all his life. Unless,
of course, she wouldn't have him. He was inclined to think she
He ate very little supper that night, little being a comparative
term, of course. And then he went to discover Delight. It appeared,
however, that she had been already discovered. She was entirely
surrounded by uniforms, and Graham furiously counted a colonel, two
majors, and a captain.
"Pulling rank, of course!" he muttered, and retired to a corner,
where he had at least the mild gratification of seeing that even
the colonel could not keep Delight from her work.
"Silly asses!" said Graham, again, and then she saw him. There was
no question about her being pleased. She was quite flushed with it,
but a little uncomfortable, too, at Graham's attitude. He was
oddly humble, and yet he had a look of determination that was almost
grim. She filled in a rather disquieting silence by trying to let
him know, without revealing that she had ever been anything else,
how proud she was of him. Then she realized that he was not
listening, and that he was looking at her with an almost painful
"When can you get away, Delight?" he asked abruptly.
"From here?" She cast an appraising glance over the room. "Right
away, I think. Why?"
"Because I want to talk to you, and I can't talk to you here."
She brought a bright colored sweater and he helped her into it,
still with his mouth set and his eyes a trifle sunken. All about
there were laughing groups of men in uniform. Outside, the parade
glowed faintly in the dusk, and from the low barrack windows there
came the glow of lights, the movement of young figures, voices,
the thin metallic notes of a mandolin.
"How strange it all is," Delight said. "Here we are, you and
father and myself - and even Jackson. I saw him to-day. All here,
living different lives, doing different things, even thinking
different thoughts. It's as though we had all moved into a
He walked on beside her, absorbed in his own thoughts, which were
yet only of her.
"I didn't know you were here," he brought out finally.
"That's because you've been burying yourself. I knew you were here."
"Why didn't you send me some word?"
She stiffened somewhat in the darkness.
"I didn't think you would be greatly interested, Graham."
And again, struggling with his new humility, he was silent. It was
not until they had crossed the parade ground and were beyond the
noises of the barracks that he spoke again.
"Do you mind if I talk to you, Delight? I mean, about myself? I
- since you're here, we're likely to see each other now and then,
if you are willing. And I'd like to start straight."
"Do you really want to tell me?"
"No. But I've got to. That's all."
He told her. He made no case for himself. Indeed, some of it
Delight understood far better than he did himself. He said
nothing against Marion; on the contrary, he blamed himself rather
severely. And behind his honest, halting sentences, Delight read
his own lack of understanding. She felt infinitely older than this
tall, honest-eyed boy in his stained uniform - older and more
sophisticated. But if she had understood the Marion Hayden
situation, she was totally at a loss as to Anna.
"But I don't understand!" she cried. "How could you make love to
her if you didn't love her?"
"I don't know. Fellows do those things. It's just mischief - some
sort of a devil in them, I suppose."
When he reached the beating and Anna's flight, however, she
understood a little better.
"Of course you had to stand by her," she agreed.
"You haven't heard it all," he said quietly. "When I'm through,
if you get up and leave me, I'll understand, Delight, and I won't
He told her the rest of the story in a voice strained with anxiety.
It was as though he had come to a tribunal for judgment. He spared
her nothing, the dinner at the road-house with Rudolph at the window,
his visit to Anna's room, and her subsequent disappearance.
"She told the Department of Justice people that Rudolph found her
that night, and, took her home. She was a prisoner then, poor
little kid. But she overheard her father and Rudolph plotting to
blow up the mill. That's where I came in, Delight. He was crazy
at me. He was a German, of course, and he might have done it
anyhow. But Rudolph told him a lot of lies about me, and - he did
it. When I think about it all, and about Joey, I'm crazy."
She slipped her hand over his.
"Of course they would have done it anyhow," she said softly.