Part 3 out of 4
After a moment's thought, the mother replied.
"What do you think of it?"
"Well, it would be a task, though a wonderfully great one."
"The aim is high, the kind I would expect of you. Do you know, Dorian,
your father had some such ambition. That's one of the reasons we came
to the country in hopes that some day he would have more time for
"I never knew that, mother."
"And now, what if your father and Uncle Zed are talking about the matter
up there in the spirit world."
Dorian thought of that for a few moments. Then: "I'll have to go to the
University for four years, but that's only a beginning. Ill have to go
East to Yale or Harvard and get all they have. Then will come a lot of
individual research, and--Oh, mother, I don't know."
"And all the time you'll have to keep near to God and never lose your
faith in the gospel, for what doth it profit if you gain the whole world
of knowledge and lose your own soul." The mother came to him and ran her
fingers lovingly through his hair. "But you're equal to it, my son; I
believe you can do it."
This was a sample of many such discussions, and the conclusion was
reached that Dorian should work harder than ever, if that were possible,
for two or perhaps three years, by which time the farms could be rented
and the income derived from them be enough to provide for the mother's
simple needs and the son's expenses while at school.
Spring came early that year, and Dorian was glad of it, for he was eager
to be out in the growing world and turn that growth to productiveness.
When the warm weather came for good, books were laid aside, though not
forgotten. From daylight until dark, he was busy. The home farm was well
planted, the dry-farm wheat was growing beautifully. Between the two,
prospects were bright for the furthering of their plans.
"Mother, when and where in this great plan of ours, am I to get
Dorian and his mother were enjoying the dusk and the cool of the evening
within odorous reach of Mrs. Trent's flowers, many of which had come
from Uncle Zed's garden. They had been talking over some details of
their "plan." Mrs. Trent laughed at the abruptness of the question.
"Oh, do you want to get married?" she asked, wondering what there might
be to this query.
"Well--sometimes, of course, I'll have to have a wife, won't I?"
"Certainly, in good time; but you're in no hurry, are you?"
"Oh, no; I'm just talking on general principles. There's no one who
would have me now."
The mother did not dispute this. She knew somewhat of his feelings
toward Carlia. These lovers' misunderstandings were not serious, she
thought to herself. All would end properly and well, in good time.
But Carlia was in Dorian's thought very often, much to his bewilderment
of heart and mind. He often debated with himself if he should not
definitely give her up, cease thinking about her as being anything
to him either now or hereafter; but it seemed impossible to do that.
Carlia's image persisted even as Mildred's did. Mildred, away from the
entanglements of the world, was safe to him; but Carlia had her life to
live and the trials and difficulties of mortality to encounter and to
overcome; and that would not be easy, with her beauty and her impulsive
nature. She needed a man's clear head and steady hand to help her, and
who was more fitting to do that than he himself, Dorian thought without
If it were possible, Dorian always spent Sunday at home. If he was on
his dry farm in the hills, he drove down on Saturday evenings. One
Saturday in midsummer, he arrived home late and tired. He put up his
team, came in, washed, and was ready for the good supper which his
mother always had for him. The mother busied herself about the kitchen
and the table.
"Come and sit down, mother," urged Dorian.
"What's the fussing about! Everything I need is here on the table.
You're tired, I see. Come, sit down with me and tell me all the news."
"The news? what news!"
"Why, everything that's happened in Green street for the past week. I
haven't had a visitor up on the farm for ten days."
"Everything is growing splendidly down here. The water in the canal is
holding out fine and Brother Larsen is fast learning to be a farmer."
"Good," said Dorian. "Our dry wheat is in most places two feet high,
and it will go from forty to fifty bushels, with good luck. If now, the
price of wheat doesn't sag too much."
Dorian finished his supper, and was about to go to bed, being in need of
a good rest. His mother told him not to get up in the morning until she
"All right, mother," he laughed as he kissed her good night, "but don't
let me be late to Sunday School, as I have a topic to treat in the
Theological class. By heck, they really think I'm Uncle Zed's successor,
by the subjects they give me."
He was about to go to his room when his mother called him by name.
"Yes, mother, what is it?"
"You'll know tomorrow, so I might as well tell you now."
"Tell me what?"
"Some bad news."
"Bad news! What is it?"
The mother seemed lothe to go on. She hesitated.
"Carlia is gone."
"Gone? Gone where?"
"Nobody knows. She's been missing for a week. She left home last
Saturday to spend a few days with a friend in the city, so she said.
Yesterday her father called at the place to bring her home and learned
that she had never been there."
"My gracious, mother!"
"Yes; it's terrible. Her father has inquired for her and looked for her
everywhere he could think of, but not a trace of her can he find. She's
Mother and son sat in silence for some time. He continued to ask
questions, but she know no more than the simple facts which she had
told. He could do nothing to help, at least, not then, so he reluctantly
went to bed. He did not sleep until past midnight.
Dorian was not tardy to Sunday School, and, considering his mental
condition, he gave a good account of himself in the class. He heard
whispered comment on Carlia's disappearance.
After Sunday school Dorian went directly to Carlia's home. He found the
mother tear-stained and haggard with care. The tears flowed again freely
at the sight of Dorian, and she clung to him as if she had no other
means of comfort.
"Do you know where Carlia is?" she wailed.
"No, Sister Duke, I haven't the last idea. I haven't seen her for some
"But what shall we do, Dorian, what shall we do! She may be dead, lying
"I hardly think that," he tried to comfort her. "She'll turn up again.
Carlia's well able to take care of herself."
The father came in. He told what had been done to try to find the
missing girl. Not a word had they heard, not a clue or a trace had been
discovered. The father tried hard to control his emotions as he talked,
but he could not keep the tears from slowly creeping down his face.
"And I suppose I'm greatly to blame" he said. "I have been told as much
by some, who I suppose, are wiser than I am. The poor girl has been
confined too much to the work here."
"Work doesn't hurt anybody," commented Dorian.
"No; but all work and no play, I was plainly reminded just the
other day, doesn't always make Jack a dull boy: sometimes, it makes
dissatisfaction and rebellion--and it seems it has done that here.
Carlia, I'll admit had very little company, saw very little of society.
I realize that now when it may be too late."
"Oh, I hope not," said Dorian.
"Carlia, naturally, was full of life. She wanted to go and see and
learn. All these desires in her were suppressed so long that this is the
way it has broken loose. Yes, I suppose that's true."
Dorian let the father give vent to his feelings in his talk. He could
reply very little, for truth to say, he realized that the father was
stating Carlia's case quite accurately. He recalled the girl when he and
she had walked back and forth to and from the high school how she had
rapidly developed her sunny nature in the warm, somewhat care-free
environment of the school life, and how lately with the continual
drudgery of her work, she had changed to a pessimism unnatural to one
of her years. Yes, one continual round of work at the farm house is apt
either to crush to dullness or to arouse to rebellion. Carlia was of the
kind not easily crushed.... But what could they now do? What could
he do? For, it came to him with great force that he himself was not
altogether free from blame in this matter. He could have done more,
vastly more for Carlia Duke.
"Well, Brother Duke," said Dorian. "Is there anything that I can do?"
"I don't think of anything," said he.
"Not now," added the mother in a tone which indicated that she did not
wish the implied occasion to be too severe.
The father followed Dorian out in the yard. There Dorian asked:
"Brother Duke, has this Mr. Lamont been about lately?"
"He was here yesterday. He came, he said, as soon as he heard of
Carlia's disappearance. He seemed very much concerned about it."
"And he knew nothing about it until yesterday?"
"He said not--do you suspect--he--might--?"
"I'm not accusing anybody, but I never was favorably impressed with the
"He seemed so truly sorry, that I never thought he might have had
something to do with it."
"Well, I'm not so sure; but I'll go and see him myself. I suppose I can
find him in his office in the city?"
"I think so--Well, do what you can for us, my boy; and Dorian, don't
take to heart too much what her mother implied just now."
"Not any more than I ought," replied Dorian. "If there is any blame to
be placed on me--and I think there is--I want to bear it, and do what
I can to correct my mistakes. I think a lot of Carlia, I like her more
than any other girl I know, and I should have shown that to her both by
word and deed more than I have done. I'm going to help you find her, and
when I find her I'll not let her go so easily."
"Thank you. I'm glad to hear you say that."
Monday morning Dorian went to the city and readily found the man whom he
was seeking. He was in his office.
"Good morning. Glad to see you," greeted Mr. Lamont, as he swung around
on his chair. "Take a seat. What can I do for you?"
As the question was asked abruptly, the answer came in like manner.
"I want to know what you know about Carlia Duke."
Mr. Lamont reddened, but he soon regained his self-possession.
"What do you mean!" he asked.
"You have heard of her disappearance?"
"Yes; I was very sorry to hear of it."
"It seems her father has exhausted every known means of finding her, and
I thought you might, at least, give him a clew."
"I should be most happy to do so, if I could; but I assure you I haven't
the least idea where she has gone. I am indeed sorry, as I expressed to
her father the other day."
"You were with her a good deal."
"Well, not a good deal, Mr. Trent--just a little," he smilingly
corrected. "I will admit I'd liked to have seen more of her, but I soon
learned that I had not the ghost of a chance with you in the field."
"You are making fun, Mr. Lamont."
"Not at all, my good fellow. You are the lucky dog when it comes to Miss
Duke. A fine girl she is, a mighty fine girl--a diamond, just a little
in the rough. As I'm apparently out of the race, go to it, Mr. Trent and
win her. Good luck to you. I don't think you'll have much trouble."
Dorian was somewhat nonplused by this fulsome outburst. He could not for
a moment find anything to say. The two men looked at each other for a
moment as if each were measuring the other. Then Mr. Lamont said:
"If at any time I can help you, let me know--call on me. Now you'll have
to excuse me as I have some business matters to attend to."
Dorian was dismissed.
The disappearance of Carlia Duke continued to be a profound mystery. The
weeks went by, and then the months. The gossips found other and newer
themes. Those directly affected began to think that all hopes of finding
her were gone.
Dorian, however, did not give up. In the strenuous labors of closing
summer and fall he had difficulty in keeping his mind on his work. His
imagination ranged far and wide, and when it went into the evil places
of the world, he suffered so that he had to throw off the suggestion by
force. He talked freely with his mother and with Carlia's parents on all
possible phases of the matter, until, seemingly, there was nothing more
to be said. To others, he said nothing.
Ever since Dorian had been taught to lisp his simple prayers at his
mother's knee, he had found strength and comfort in going to the Lord.
With the growth of his knowledge of the gospel and his enlarged vision
of God's providences, his prayers became a source of power. Uncle
Zed had taught him that this trustful reliance on a higher power was
essential to his progress. The higher must come to the help of the
lower, but the lower must seek for that help and sincerely accept it
when offered. As a child, his prayers had been very largely a set form,
but as he had come in contact with life and its experiences, he had
learned to suit his prayers to his needs. Just now, Carlia and her
welfare was the burden of his petitions.
The University course must wait another year, so Dorian and his mother
decided. They could plainly see that one more year would be needed,
besides Dorian was not in a condition to concentrate his mind on study.
So, when the long evenings came on again, he found solace in his
books, and read again many of dear Uncle Zed's writings which had been
addressed so purposely to him.
One evening in early December Dorian and his mother were cosily "at
home" to any good visitors either of persons or ideas. Dorian was
looking over some of his papers.
"Mother, listen to this," he said. "Here is a gem from Uncle Zed which I
have not seen before." He read:
"'The acquisition of wealth brings with it the obligation of helping
the poor; the acquisition of knowledge brings with it the obligation of
teaching others; the acquisition of strength and power brings with it
the obligation of helping the weak. This is what God does when He says
that His work and His glory is to bring to pass the immortality and
eternal life of man'."
"How true that is," said the mother.
"Yes," added Dorian after a thoughtful pause, "I am just wondering how
and to what extent I am fulfilling any obligation which is resting on me
by reason of blessings I am enjoying. Let's see--we are not rich, but we
meet every call made on us by way of tithing and donations; we are not
very wise, but we impart of what we have by service; we are not very
strong--I fear, mother, that's where I lack. Am I giving of my strength
as fully as I can to help the weak. I don't know--I don't know."
"You mean Carlia?"
"Yes; what am I doing besides thinking and praying for her?"
"What more can we do?"
"Well, I can try doing something more."
"What, for instance!"
"Trying to find her."
"But her father has done that."
"Yes; but he has given up too soon. I should continue the search. I've
been thinking about that lately. I can't stay cosily and safely at home
any longer, mother, when Carlia may be in want of protection."
"And what would you be liable to find if you found her?"
That question was not new to his own mind, although his mother had not
asked it before. Perhaps, in this case, ignorance was more bliss than
knowledge. Whatever had happened to her, would it not be best to have
the pure image of her abide with him? But he know when he thought of it
further that such a conclusion was not worthy of a strong man. He should
not be afraid even of suffering if it came in the performance of duty.
That very night Dorian had a strange dream, one unusual to him because
he remembered it so distinctly the day after. He dreamed that he saw
Mildred in what might well be called the heavenly land. She seemed busy
in sketching a beautiful landscape and as he approached her, she looked
up to him and smiled. Then, as she still gazed at him, her countenance
changed and with concern in her voice, she asked, "Where's Carlia?"
The scene vanished, and that was all of the dream. In the dim
consciousness of waking he seemed to hear Carlia's voice calling to him
as it did that winter night when he had left her, not heeding. The call
thrilled his very heart again:
"Dorian, Dorian, come back--come back!"
The second week in December Dorian went into action in search of Carlia
Duke. He acknowledged to himself that it was like searching for the
proverbial needle in the haystack, but inaction was no longer possible.
Carlia very likely had no large amount of money with her, so she would
have to seek employment. She could have hidden herself in the city, but
Dorian reasoned that she would be fearful of being found, so would have
gone to some nearby town; but which one, he had no way of knowing.
He visited a number of adjacent towns and made diligent enquiries at
hotels, stores, and some private houses. Nothing came of this first
A number of mining towns could easily be reached by train from the city.
In these towns many people came and went without notice or comment.
Dorian spent nearly a week in one of them, but he found no clue. He went
to another. The girl would necessarily have to go to a hotel at first,
so the searcher examined a number of hotel registers. She had been gone
now about six months, so the search had to be in some books long since
discarded, much to the annoyance of the clerks.
Dorian left the second town for the third which was situated well up in
the mountains. The weather was cold, and the snow lay two feet deep over
the hills and valleys. He became disheartened at times, but always he
reasoned that he must try a little longer; and then one day in a hotel
register dated nearly five months back, he found this entry:
Dorian's heart gave a bound when he saw the name. Carlia was not a
common name, and the handwriting was familiar. But why Davis? He
examined the signature closely. The girl, unexperienced in the art of
subterfuge, had started to write her name, and had gotten to the D in
Duke, when the thought of disguise had come to her. Yes; there was an
unusual break between that first letter and the rest of the name. Carlia
had been here. He was on the right track, thank the Lord!
Dorian enquired of the hotel clerk if he remembered the lady. Did he
know anything about her? No; that was so long ago. His people came and
went. That was all. But Carlia had been here. That much was certain.
Here was at least a fixed point in the sea of nothingness from which he
could work. His wearied and confused mind could at least come back to
that name in the hotel register.
He began a systematic search of the town. First he visited the small
business section, but without results. Then he took up the residential
district, systematically, so that he would not miss any. One afternoon
he knocked on the door of what appeared to be one of the best
residences. After a short wait, the door was opened by a girl, highly
painted but lightly clad, who smiled at the handsome young fellow and
bade him come in. He stepped into the hall and was shown into what
seemed to be a parlor, though the parlors he had known had not smelled
so of stale tobacco smoke. He made his usual inquiry. No; no such girl
was here, she was sorry, but--the words which came from the carmine lips
of the girl so startled Dorian that he stood, hat in hand, staring at
her, and shocked beyond expression. He know, of course, that evil houses
existed especially in mining towns, inhabited by corrupt women, but this
was the first time he had ever been in such a place. When he realized
where he was, a real terror seized him, and with unceremonious haste he
got out and away, the girl's laughter of derision ringing in his ears.
Dorian was unnerved. He went back to his room, his thoughts in a whirl,
his apprehensions sinking to gloomy depths. What if Carlia should be in
such a place? A cold sweat of suffering broke over him before he could
drive away the thought. But at last he did get rid of it. His mind
cleared again, and he set out determined to continued the search.
However, he went no more into the houses by the invitation of inmates of
doubtful character, but made his inquiries at the open door.
Then it occurred to Dorian that Carlia, being a country bred girl
and accustomed to work about farm houses, might apply to some of the
adjacent farms down in the valley below the town for work. The whole
country lay under deep snow, but the roads were well broken. Dorian
walked out to a number of the farms and made enquiries. At the third
house he was met by a pleasant faced, elderly woman who listened
attentively to what he said, and then invited him in. When they were
both seated, she asked him his name. Dorian told her.
"And why are you interested in this girl?" she continued.
"Has she been here?" he asked eagerly.
"Never mind. You answer my question."
Dorian explained as much as he thought proper, but the woman still
"Are you her brother?"
"Her young man?"
"Not exactly; only a dear friend."
"Well, you look all right, but looks are deceivin'." The woman tried to
be very severe with him, but somehow she did not succeed very well. She
looked quite motherly as she sat with her folded hands in her ample lap
and a shrewd look in her face. Dorian gained courage to say:
"I believe you know something about the girl I am seeking. Tell me."
"You haven't told me the name of the girl you are looking for."
"Her name is Carlia Duke."
"That isn't what she called herself."
"Oh, then you do know."
"This girl was Carlia Davis."
"Yes--is she here!"
"Do you know where she is?"
"No, I don't."
Dorian's hopes fell. "But tell me what you know about her--you know
"It was the latter part of August when she came to us. She had walked
from town, an' she said she was wanting a place to work. As she was used
to farm life, she preferred to work at a country home, she said."
"Was she a dark-haired, rosy-cheeked girl?"
"Her hair was dark, but there was no roses in her cheeks. There might
have been once. I was glad to say yes to her for I needed help bad. Of
course, it was strange, this girl comin' from the city a' wanting to
work in the country. It's usually the other way."
"Yes; I suppose so."
"So I was a little suspicious."
"That she hadn't come to work at all; though I'll say that she did her
best. I tried to prevent her, but she worked right up to the last."
"To the last? I don't understand?"
"Don't you know that she was to be sick? That she came here to be sick?"
"To be sick?" Dorian was genuinely at loss to understand.
"At first I called her a cheat, and threatened to send her away; but the
poor child pleaded so to stay that I hadn't the heart to turn her out.
She had no where to go, she was a long way from home, an' so I let her
stay, an' we did the best for her."
Dorian, in the simplicity of his mind, did not yet realize what the
woman was talking about. He let her continue.
"We had one of the best doctors in the city 'tend her, an' I did the
nursing myself which I consider was as good as any of the new-fangled
trained nurses can do; but the poor girl had been under a strain so long
that the baby died soon after it was born."
"The baby?" gasped Dorian.
"Yes," went on the woman, all unconsciously that the listener had not
fully understood. "Yes, it didn't live long, which, I suppose, in such
cases, is a blessing."
Dorian stared at the woman, then in a dazed way, he looked about the
plain farm-house furnishings, some details of which strangely impressed
him. The woman went on talking, which seemed easy for her, now she had
fairly started; but Dorian did not hear all she said. One big fact was
forcing itself into his brain, to the exclusion of all minor realities.
"She left a month ago," Dorian heard the woman say when again he was in
a condition to listen. "We did our best to get her to stay, for we had
become fond of her. Somehow, she got the notion that the scoundrel who
had betrayed her had found her hiding place, an' she was afraid. So she
"Where did she go? Did she tell you?"
"No; she wouldn't say. The fact is, she didn't know herself. I'm sure
of that. She just seemed anxious to hide herself again. Poor girl." The
woman wiped a tear away with the corner of her apron.
Dorian arose, thanked her, and went out. He looked about the
snow-covered earth and the clouds which threatened storm. He walked on
up to the road back to the town. He was benumbed, but not with cold. He
went into his room, and, although it was mid-afternoon, he did not go
out any more that day. He sat supinely on his bed. He paced the floor.
He looked without seeing out of the window at the passing crowds. He
could not think at all clearly. His whole being was in an uproar of
confusion. The hours passed. Night came on with its blaze of lights in
the streets. What could he do now? What should he do now?
"Oh, God, help me," he prayed, "help me to order my thoughts, tell me
what to do."
If ever in his life Dorian had need of help from higher power, it was
Dorian had not found Carlia Duke; instead, he had found something which
appeared to him to be the end of all things. Had he found her dead, in
her virginal purity, he could have placed her, with Mildred, safely away
in his heart and his hopes; but this!... What more could he now do? That
he did not take the first train home was because he was benumbed into
The young man had never before experienced such suffering of spirit. The
leaden weight on his heart seemed to be crushing, not only his physical
being, but his spirit also into the depths of despair. As far back in
his boyhood as he could remember, he had been taught the enormity of
sexual sin, until it had become second nature for him to think of it as
something very improbable, if not impossible, as pertaining to himself.
And yet, here it was, right at the very door of his heart, casting its
evil shadow into the most sacred precincts of his being. He had never
imagined it coming to any of his near and dear ones, especially not
to Carlia--Carlia, his neighbor, his chummy companion in fields and
highways, his schoolmate. He pictured her in many of her wild adventures
as a child, and in her softer moods as a grown-up girl. He saw again her
dark eyes flash with anger, and then her pearly teeth gleam in laughter
at him. He remembered how she used to run from him, and then at other
times how she would cling to him as if she pleaded for a protection
which he had not given. The weak had reached out to the strong, and the
stronger one had failed. If 'remorse of conscience' is hell, Dorian
tasted of its bitter depths, for it came to him now that perhaps because
of his neglect, Carlia had been led to her fall.
But what could he now do? Find her. And then, what? Marry her? He
refused to consider that for a moment. He drove the thought fiercely
away. That would be impossible now. The horror of what had been would
always stand as a repellent specter between them.... Yes, he had loved
her--he knew that now more assuredly than ever; and he tried to place
that love away from him by a play upon words in the past tense; but deep
down in his heart he knew that he was merely trying to deceive himself.
He loved her still; and the fact that he loved her but could not marry
her added fuel to the flames of his torment.
That long night was mostly a hideous nightmare and even after he awoke
from a fitful sleep next morning, he was in a stupor. After a while,
he went out into the wintry air. It was Sunday, and the town was
comparatively quiet. He found something to eat at a lunch counter, then
he walked about briskly to try to get his blood into active circulation.
Again he went to his room.
Presently, he heard the ringing of church bells. The folks would be
going to Sunday school in Greenstreet. He saw in the vision of his mind
Uncle Zed sitting with the boys about him in his class. He saw the
teacher's lifted hand emphasize the warning against sin, and then he
seemed to hear a voice read:
"For the Son of man is come to save that which is lost.
"How think ye if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone
astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the
mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
"And if so be that he find it, verily, I say unto you, he rejoiceth more
of that sheep than of the ninety and nine which went not astray."
Dorian seemed to awaken with a start. Donning coat and hat, he went out
again, his steps being led down the country road toward the farmhouse.
He wanted to visit again the house where Carlia had been. Her presence
there and her suffering had hallowed it.
"Oh, how do you do?" greeted the woman, when she saw Dorian at the door.
Dorian entered, this time into the parlor which was warm, and where a
man sat comfortably with his Sunday paper.
"Father," said the woman, "this is the young man who was here
The man shook hands with Dorian and bade him draw up his chair to the
"I hope you'll excuse me for coming again," said Dorian; "but the fact
of the matter is I seemed unable to keep away. I left yesterday without
properly thanking you for what you did for my friend, Miss Carlia. I
also want to pay you a little for the expense you were put to. I haven't
much money with me, but I will send it to you after I get home, if you
will give me your name and address."
The farmer and his wife exchanged glances.
"Why, as to that," replied the man, "nothing is owing us. We liked the
girl. We think she was a good girl and had been sinned against."
"I'm sure you are right," said Dorian. "As I said, I went away rather
abruptly yesterday. I was so completely unprepared for that which I
learned about her. But I'm going to find her if I can, and take her home
to her parents."
"Where do you live!" asked the man.
Dorian told him.
"Are you a 'Mormon'?"
"And not ashamed of it!"
"No; proud of it--grateful, rather."
"Well, young man, you look like a clean, honest chap. Tell me why you
are proud to be a 'Mormon'."
Dorian did his best. He had had very little experience in presenting the
principles of the gospel to an unbeliever, but Uncle Zed's teachings,
together with his own studies, now stood him well in hand.
"Well," commented the farmer, "that's fine. You can't be a very bad man
if you believe in and practice all what you have been telling us."
"I hope I am not a bad man. I have some light on the truth, and woe is
me if I sin against that light."
The farmer turned to his wife. "Mother," he said, "I think you may
safely tell him."
Dorian looked enquiringly at the woman.
"It's this," she said. "My husband brought home a postcard from the
office last evening after you had left--a card from Miss Davis, asking
us to send her an article of dress which she had forgotten. Here is the
card. The address may help you to find her. I am sure you mean no harm
to the girl."
Dorian made note of the address, as also that of the farmer's with whom
he was visiting. Then he arose to go.
"Now, don't be in such a hurry," admonished the man. "We'll have dinner
Dorian was glad to remain, as he felt quite at home with these people,
Mr. and Mrs. Whitman. They had been good to Carlia. Perhaps he could
learn a little more about her. The dinner was enjoyed very much.
Afterward, Mrs. Whitman, encouraged by Dorian's attentiveness, poured
into his willing ear all she had learned of the girl he was seeking; and
before the woman ceased her freely-flowing talk, a most important item
had been added to his knowledge of the case. Carlia, it seems, had gone
literally helpless to her downfall. "Drugged" was the word Mrs. Whitman
used. The villainy of the foul deed moved the young man's spirit to a
fierce anger against the wretch who had planned it, and the same time
his pity increased for the unfortunate victim. As Dorian sat there and
listened to the story which the woman had with difficulty obtained from
the girl, he again suffered the remorse of conscience which comes from a
realization of neglected duty and disregarded opportunity. It was late
in the afternoon before he got back to the town.
The next day Dorian made inquiries as to how he could reach the place
indicated by the address, and he learned that it was a ranch house well
up in the mountains. There was a daily mail in that direction, except
when the roads and the weather hindered; and it seemed that these would
now be hinderances. The threatened storm came, and with it high wind
which piled the snow into deep, hard drifts, making the mountain road
nearly impassible. Dorian found the mail-carrier who told him that it
would be impossible to make a start until the storm had ceased. All day
the snow fell, and all day Dorian fretted impatiently, and was tempted
to once more go out to Mr. and Mrs. Whitman; but he did not. Christmas
was only three days off. He could reach home and spend the day with his
mother, but there would be considerable expense, and he felt as if he
must be on the ground so that at the soonest possible moment he could
continue on the trail which he had found. The pleasure of the home
Christmas must this time be sacrificed, for was not he in very deed
going into the mountains to seek that which was lost.
The storm ceased toward evening, but the postman would not make a start
until next morning. Dorian joined him then, and mounted beside him. The
sky was not clear, the clouds only breaking and drifting about as if in
doubt whether to go or to stay. The road was heavy, and it was all the
two horses could do to draw the light wagon with its small load. Dorian
wondered how Carlia had ever come that way. Of course, it had been
before the heavy snow, when traveling was not so bad.
"Who lives at this place?" asked Dorian of the driver, giving the box
number Carlia had sent.
"That? Oh, that's John Hickson's place."
"No; not exactly. He's out here mostly for his health."
"Does he live here in the mountains the year around?"
"Usually he moves into town for the winter. Last year the winter was so
mild that he decided to try to stick one through; but surely, he's got a
dose this time. Pretty bad for a sick man, I reckon."
"Anybody with him?"
"Wife and three children--three of the cutest kiddies you ever saw. Oh,
he's comfortable enough, for he's got a fine house. You know, it's great
out here among the pine hills in the summer; but just now, excuse me."
"Is it far?"
"No." The driver looked with concern at the storm which was coming again
down the mountain like a great white wave. "I think perhaps we'll have
to stop at the Hickson's tonight," he said.
The travelers were soon enwrapped in a swirling mantle of snow. Slowly
and carefully the dug-ways had to be traversed. The sky was dense and
black. The storm became a blizzard, and the cold became intense. The men
wrapped themselves in additional blankets. The horses went patiently on,
the driver peering anxiously ahead; but it must have been well after
noon before the outlines of a large building near at hand bulked out of
the leaden sky.
"I'm glad we're here," exclaimed the driver.
"Where?" asked Dorian.
They drove into the yard and under a shed where the horses were
unhitched and taken into a stable. A light as if from a wood fire in a
grate danced upon the white curtain of the unshaded windows. With his
mail-bag, the driver shuffled his way through the snow to the kitchen
door and knocked. The door opened immediately and Mrs. Hickson,
recognizing the mail-driver, bade him come in. Two children peered
curiously from the doorway of another room. Dorian a little nervously
awaited the possibility of Carlia's appearing.
It was pleasant to get shelter and a warm welcome in such weather. After
the travelers had warmed themselves by the kitchen stove, they were
invited into another room to meet Mr. Hickson, who was reclining in a
big arm chair before the grate. He welcomed them without rising, but
pointed them to chairs by the fire. They talked of the weather, of
course. Mr. Hickson reasoned that it was foolish to complain about
something which they could not possible control. Dorian was introduced
as a traveler, no explanation being asked or given as to his business.
He was welcome. In fact, it was a pleasure, said the host, to have
company even for an evening, as very few people ever stopped over night,
especially in the winter. Dorian soon discovered that this man was not
a rough mountaineer, but a man of culture, trying to prolong his
earth-life by the aid of mountain air, laden with the aroma of the
pines. The wife went freely in and out of the room, the children also;
but somewhat to Dorian's surprise, no Carlia appeared. If she were there
in the house, she surely would be helping with the meal which seemed to
be in the way of preparation.
The storm continued all afternoon. There could be no thought of moving
on that day. And indeed, it was pleasant sitting thus by the blazing log
in the fireplace and listening, for the most part, to the intelligent
talk of the host. The evening meal was served early, and the two guests
ate with the family in the dining room. Still no Carlia.
When the driver went out to feed his horses and to smoke his pipe, and
Mr. Hickson had retired, the children, having overcome some of their
timidity, turned their attention to Dorian. The girl, the oldest, with
dark hair and rosy cheeks, reminded him of another girl just then in his
thoughts. The two small boys were chubby and light haired, after the
mother. When Dorian managed to get the children close to him, they
reminded him that Christmas was only one day distant. Did he live near
by? Was he going home for Christmas? What was Santa Claus going to bring
Dorian warmed to their sociability and their clatter. He learned from
them that their Christmas this year would likely be somewhat of a
failure. Daddy was sick. There was no Christmas tree, and they doubted
Santa Claus' ability to find his way up in the mountains in the storm.
This was the first winter they had been here. Always they had been in
town during the holidays, where it was easy for Santa to reach them; but
now--the little girl plainly choked back the tears of disappointment.
"Why, if it's a Christmas tree you want," said Dorian, "that ought to be
easy. There are plenty up on the nearby hills."
"Yes; but neither papa nor mama nor we can get them."
"But I can."
"Oh, will you? Tomorrow?"
"Yes; tomorrow is Christmas Eve. We'll have to have it then."
The children were dancing with glee as the mother came in and learned
what had been going on. "You mustn't bother the gentleman," she
admonished, but Dorian pleaded for the pleasure of doing something for
them. The mother explained that because of unforeseen difficulties the
children were doomed to disappointment this holiday season, and they
would have to be satisfied with what scanty preparation could be made.
"I think I can help," suggested the young man, patting the littlest
confiding fellow on the head. "We cannot go on until tomorrow, I
understand, and I should very much like to be useful."
The big pleading eyes of the children won the day. They moved into the
kitchen. All the corners were ransacked for colored paper and cloth, and
with scissors and flour paste, many fantastic decorations were made to
hang on the tree. Corn was popped and strung into long white chains. But
what was to be done for candles? Could Dorian make candles? He could do
most everything, couldn't he? He would try. Had they some parafine, used
to seal preserve jars. Oh, yes, large pieces were found. And this with
some string was soon made into some very possible candles. The children
were intensely interested, and even the mail-driver wondered at the
young man's cleverness. They had never seen anything like this before.
The tree and its trimmings had always been bought ready for their use.
Now they learned, which their parents should have known long ago, that
there is greater joy in the making of a plaything than in the possession
The question of candy seemed to bother them all. Their last hopes went
when there was not a box of candy in the postman's bag. What should they
do for candy and nuts and oranges and--
"Can you make candy?" asked the girl of Dorian as if she was aware she
was asking the miraculous.
"Now children," warned the happy mother. "You have your hands full" she
said to Dorian. "There's no limit to their demands."
Dorian assured her that the greater pleasure was his.
"Tomorrow," he told the clammering children, "we'll see what we can do
about the candy."
"Chocolates?" asked one.
"Caramels," chose another.
"Fudge," suggested the third.
"All these?" laughed Dorian. "Well, we'll see-tomorrow," and with that
the children went to bed tremulously happy.
The next morning the sun arose on a most beautiful scene. The snow lay
deep on mountain and in valley. It ridged the fences and trees. Paths
and roads were obliterated.
The children were awake early. As Dorian dressed, he heard them
scampering down the stairs. Evidently, they were ready for him. He
looked out of the window. He would have to make good about that tree.
As yet, Dorian had found no traces of the object of his search. He had
not asked direct questions about her, but he would have to before he
left. There seemed some mystery always just before him. The mail-driver
would not be ready to go before noon, so Dorian would have time to get
the tree and help the children decorate it. Then he would have to find
out all there was to know about Carlia. Surely, she was somewhere in the
After breakfast, Dorian found the axe in the wood-shed, and began to
make his way through the deep snow up the hill toward a small grove of
pine. Behind the shoulder of a hill, he discovered another house, not so
large as Mr. Hickson's, but neat and comfortably looking. The blue
smoke of a wood fire was rising from the chimney. A girl was vigorously
shoveling a path from the house to the wood-pile. She was dressed in big
boots, a sweater, and a red hood. She did not see Dorian until he came
near the small clearing by the house. Straightening from her work,
she stood for a moment looking intently at him. Then with a low, yet
startled cry, she let the shovel fall, and sped swiftly back along the
newly-made path and into the house.
It was Carlia.
Dorian stood knee-deep in the snow and watched the girl run back into
the house. In his surprise, he forgot his immediate errand. He had found
Carlia, found her well and strong; but why had she run from him with a
cry of alarm? She surely had recognized him; she would not have acted
thus toward a stranger. Apparently, she was not glad to see him. He
stood looking at the closed door, and a feeling of resentment came
to him. Here he had been searching for her all this time, only to be
treated as if he were an unwelcome intruder. Well, he would not force
himself on her. If she did not want to see him, why annoy her? He could
go back, tell her father where she was, and let him come for her. He
The door opened again and a woman looked out inquiringly at the young
man standing in the snow with an axe on his shoulder. Dorian would have
to offer a word of explanation to the woman, at least, so he stepped
into the path toward the house.
"Good morning," he said, lifting his hat. "I'm out to get a Christmas
tree for the children over there, and it seems I have startled the young
lady who just ran in."
"Yes," said the woman.
"I'm sorry to have frightened her, but I'm glad to have found her. You
see, I've been searching for her."
The woman stood in the doorway, saying nothing, but looking with some
suspicion at the young man.
"I should like to see her again," continued Dorian. "Tell her it's
"I'll tell her," said the woman as she withdrew and closed the door.
The wait seemed long, but it was only a few minutes when the door opened
and Dorian was invited to come in. They passed through the kitchen into
the living room where a fire was burning in a grate. Dorian was given a
chair. He could not fail to see that he was closely observed. The woman
went into another room, but soon returned.
"She'll be in shortly," she announced.
The woman retired to the kitchen, and presently Carlia came in. She had
taken off her wraps and now appeared in a neat house dress. As she stood
hesitatingly by the door. Dorian came with outstretched hands to greet
her; but she was not eager to meet him, so he went back to his chair.
Both were silent. He saw it was the same Carlia, with something added,
something which must have taken much experience if not much time to
bring to her. The old-time roses, somewhat modified, were in her cheeks,
the old-time red tinted the full lips; but she was more mature, less of
a girl and more of a woman; and to Dorian she was more beautiful than
"Carlia," he again ventured, "I'm glad to see you; but you don't seem
very pleased with your neighbor. Why did you run from me out there?"
"You startled me."
"Yes; I suppose I did. It was rather strange, this coming so suddenly on
to you. I've been looking for you quite a while."
"I don't understand why you have been looking for me."
"You know why, Carlia."
"You're just talking to be talking--but here, this sounds like
quarreling, and we don't want to do that so soon, do we?"
"No, I guess not."
"Won't you sit down."
The girl reached for a chair, then seated herself.
"The folks are anxious about you. When can you go home?"
"I'm not going home."
"Not going home? Why not? Who are these people, and what are you doing
"These are good people, and they treat me fine. I'm going to
"But I don't see why. Of course, it's none of my business; but for the
sake of your father and mother, you ought to go home."
"How--how are they!"
"They are as well as can be expected. You've never written them, have
you, nor ever told where you were. They do not know whether you are dead
or alive. That isn't right."
The girl turned her bowed head slightly, but did not speak, so he
continued: "The whole town has been terribly aroused about you. You
disappeared so suddenly and completely. Your father has done everything
he could think of to find you. When he gave up, I took up the task, and
here you are in the hills not so far from Greenstreet."
Carlia's eyes swam with tears. The kitchen door opened, and the woman
looked at Carlia and then at Dorian.
"Breakfast is ready," she announced. "Come, Miss Davis, and have your
friend come too."
Dorian explained that he had already eaten.
"Please excuse me just now," pleaded Carlia, to the woman. "Go eat your
breakfast without me. Mrs. Carlston, this is Mr. Trent, a neighbor of
ours at my home. I was foolish to be so scared of him. He--he wouldn't
hurt anyone." She tried bravely to smile.
Alone again, the two were ill at ease. A flood of memories, a confusion
of thoughts and feelings swept over Dorian. The living Carlia in all
her attractive beauty was before him, yet back of her stood the grim
skeleton. Could he close his eyes to that? Could he let his love for her
overcome the repulsion which would arise like a black cloud into his
thoughts? Well, time alone would tell. Just now he must be kind to her,
he must be strong and wise. Of what use is strength and wisdom if it is
unfruitful at such times as these? Dorian arose to his feet and stood in
the strength of his young manhood. He seemed to take Carlia with him,
for she also stood looking at him with her shining eyes.
"Well, Carlia," he said, "go get your breakfast, and I'll finish my
errand. You see, the storm stopped the mail carrier and me and we had
to put up at your neighbour's last night. There I found three children
greatly disappointed in not having their usual Christmas tree. I
promised I would get them one this morning, and that's what I was out
for when I saw you. You know, Carlia, it's Christmas Eve this morning,
if you'll allow that contradiction."
"Yes, I know."
"I'll come back for you. And mind, you do not try to escape. I'll be
watching the house closely. Anyway," he laughed lightly, "the snow's too
deep for you to run very far."
He came toward her, but she with averted face, slipped toward the
"I can't go home, I can't go with you--really, I can't," she said. "You
go back home and tell the folks I'm all right now, won't you, please."
"We'll talk about that after a while. I must get that tree now, or those
kiddies will think I am a rank impostor." Dorian looked at his watch.
"Why, it's getting on toward noon. So long, for the present."
Dorian found and cut a fairly good tree. The children were at the window
when he appeared, and great was their joy when they saw him carry it to
the woodshed and make a stand for it, then bring it in to them. The mail
carrier was about ready to continue his journey, and he asked Dorian if
he was also ready. But Dorian had no reason for going on further; he had
many reasons for desiring to remain. And here was the Christmas tree,
not dressed, nor the candy made. How could he disappoint these children?
"I wonder," he said to the mother, "if it would be asking too much to
let me stay here until tomorrow. I'm in no hurry, and I would like to
help the children with the tree, as I promised. I've been hindered some
this morning, and--"
"Stay," shouted the children who had heard this. "Stay, do stay."
"You are more than welcome," replied Mrs. Hickson; "but I fear that the
children are imposing on you."
Dorian assured her that the pleasure was his, and after the mail carrier
had departed, he thought it wise to explain further.
"A very strange thing has happened," said Dorian. "As I was going after
the tree for the children, I met the young lady who is staying at Mrs.
"Yes; she's a neighbor of mine. We grew up together as boy and girl.
Through some trouble, she left home, and--in fact, I have been searching
for her. I am going to try to get her to go home to her parents.
She--she could help us with our tree dressing this evening."
"We'd like to have both our neighbors visit with us," said Mrs. Hickson;
"but the snow is rather deep for them."
By the middle of the afternoon Dorian cleared a path to the neighboring
house, and then went stamping on to the porch. Carlia opened the door
and gave him a smiling welcome. She had dressed up a bit, he could
see, and he was pleased with the thought that it was for him. Dorian
delivered the invitation to the two women. Carlia would go immediately
to help, and Mrs. Carlston would come later. Carlia was greeted by the
children as a real addition to their company.
"Did you bring an extra of stockings?" asked Mrs. Hickson of her. "An
up-to-date Santa Claus is going to visit us tonight, I am sure." She
glanced toward Dorian, who was busy with the children and the tree.
That was a Christmas Eve long to be remembered by all those present in
that house amid solitude of snow, of mountain, and of pine forests. The
tree, under the magic touches of Dorian and Carlia grew to be a thing
of beauty, in the eyes of the children. The home-made candles and
decorations were pronounced to be as good as the "boughten ones." And
the candy--what a miracle worker this sober-laughing, ruddy-haired young
Carlia could not resist the spirit of cheer. She smiled with the older
people and laughed with the children. How good it was to laugh again,
she thought. When the tree was fully ablaze, all, with the exception of
Mr. Hickson joined hands and danced around it. Then they had to taste
of the various and doubtful makings of candies, and ate a bread-pan of
snow-white popcorn sprinkled with melted butter. Then Mr. Hickson told
some stories, and his wife in a clear, sweet voice led the children
in some Christmas songs. Oh, it was a real Christmas Eve, made doubly
joyful by the simple helpfulness and kindness of all who took part.
At the close of the evening, Dorian escorted Mrs. Carlston and Carlia
back to their house, and the older woman graciously retired, leaving the
parlor and the glowing log to the young people.
They sat in the big armchairs facing the grate.
"We've had a real nice Christmas Eve, after all," said he.
"Our Christmas Eves at home are usually quiet. I'm the only kid there,
and I don't make much noise. Frequently, just mother and Uncle Zed and
I made up the company; and then when we could get Uncle Zed to talking
about Jesus, and explain who He was, and tell his story before He came
to this earth as the Babe of Bethlehem, there was a real Christmas
spirit present. Yes; I believe you were with us on one of these
"Yes, I was."
Dorian adjusted the log in the grate. "Carlia, when shall we go home?"
"How can I go home?"
"A very simple matter. We ride on the stage to the railroad, and then--"
"O! I do not mean that. How can I face my folks, and everybody?"
"Of course, people will be inquisitive, and there will be a lot of
speculation; but never mind that. Your father and mother will be mighty
glad to get you back home, and I am sure your father will see to it that
you--that you'll have no more cause to run away from home."
"Why, he'll see that you do not have so much work--man's work, to do.
Yes, regular downright drudgery it was. Why, I hardly blame you for
running away, that is, taking a brief vacation." He went on talking, she
looking silently into the fire. "But now," he said finally, "you have
had a good rest, and you are ready to go home."
She sat rigidly looking at the glow in the grate. He kept on talking
cheerfully, optimistically, as if he wished to prevent the gloom of
night to overwhelm them. Then, presently, the girl seemed to shake
herself free from some benumbing influence, as she turned to him and
"Dorian, why, really why have you gone to all this trouble to find me?"
"Why, we all wanted to know what had become of you. Your father is a
changed man because of your disappearance, and your mother is nearly
"Yes, I suppose so; but is that all?"
"Isn't that enough?"
"Dorian, you're neither dull nor stupid, except in this. Why did not
someone else do this hunting for a lost girl? Why should it be you?"
Dorian arose, walked to the window and looked out into the wintry night.
He saw the shine of the everlasting stars in the deep blue. He sensed
the girl's pleading eyes sinking into his soul as if to search him out.
He glimpsed the shadowy specter lurking in her background. And yet,
as he fixed his eyes on the heavens, his mind cleared, his purpose
strengthened. As he turned, there was a grim smile on his face. He
walked back to the fire-place and seated himself on the arm of Carlia's
"Carlia," he said, "I may be stupid--I am stupid--I've always been
stupid with you. I know it. I confess it to you. I have not always
acted toward you as one who loves you. I don't know why--lay it to my
stupidity. But, Carlia, I do love you. I have always loved you. Yes,
ever since we were children playing in the fields and by the creek and
the ditches. I know now what that feeling was. I loved you then, I love
The girl arose mechanically from her chair, reached out as if
for support to the mantle. "Why, Oh, why did you not tell me
before--before"--she cried, then swayed as if to a fall. Dorian caught
her and placed her back in the seat. He took her cold hands, but in a
moment, she pulled them away.
"Dorian, please sit down in this other chair, won't you?"
Dorian did as she wanted him to do, but he turned the chair to face her.
"I want you to believe me, Carlia."
"I am trying to believe you."
"Is it so hard as all that?"
"What I fear is that you are doing all this for me out of the goodness
of your heart. Listen, let me say what I want to say--I believe I can
now.... You're the best man I know. I have never met anyone as good as
you, no, not even my father--nobody. You're far above me. You always
have been willing to sacrifice yourself for others; and now--what I fear
is that you are just doing this, saying this, out of the goodness of
your heart and not because you really--really love me."
"I know you, Dorian. I've heard you and Uncle Zed talk, sometimes when
you thought I was not listening. I know your high ideals of service, how
you believe it is necessary for the higher to reach down to help and
save the lower. Oh, I know, Dorian; and it is this that I think of. You
cannot love poor me for my sake, but you are doing this for fear of not
doing your duty. Hush--Listen! Not that I don't honor you for your high
ideals--they are noble, and belong to just such as I believe you are.
Yes, I have always, even as a child, looked up to you as someone big and
strong and good--Yes, I have always worshiped you, loved you! There, you
know it, but what's the use!"
Dorian moved his chair close to her, then said:
"You are mistaken, of course, in placing my goodness so high, though
I've always tried to do the right by everybody. That I have failed with
you is evidence that I am not so perfect as you say. But now, let's
forget everything else but the fact that we love each other. Can't we be
happy in that?"
The roses faded from Carlia's cheeks, though coaxed to stay by the
"My dear," he continued, "we'll go home, and I'll try to make up to you
my failings. I think I can do that, Carlia, when you become my wife."
"I can't, Dorian, Oh, I can't be that."
"Why not Carlia?"
"I can't marry you. I'm not--No, Dorian."
"In time, Carlia. We will have to wait, of course; but some day"--he
took her hands, and she did not seem to have power to resist--"some day"
he said fervently, "you are going to be mine for time and for eternity."
They looked into each others faces without fear. Then: "Go now, Dorian"
she said. "I can't stand any more tonight. Please go."
"Yes; I'll go. Tomorrow, the stage comes again this way, and we'll go
with it. That's settled. Goodnight."
They both arose. He still held her hands.
"Goodnight," he repeated, and kissed her gently on the cheek.
The sudden return of Carlia Duke to her home created as much talk as
her disappearance had done. Dorian was besieged with enquirers whom he
smilingly told that he had just come across her taking a little vacation
up in the hills. What, in the hills in the depths of winter? Why, yes;
none but those who have tried it know the comfort and the real rest one
may obtain shut out by the snow from the world, in the solitude of the
hills. He told as little as possible of the details of his search, even
to Carlia's parents. Any unpleasant disclosures would have to come from
her to them, he reasoned. Not being able to get Dorian talking about the
case, the good people of Greenstreet soon exhausted their own knowledge
of the matter, so in a short time, the gossip resumed its every-day
Hardly a day passed without Dorian spending some time with Carlia. She
would not go to Sunday School or to Mutual, and it was some time before
he could convince her that it was a matter of wisdom as well as of right
that she should attend some of the public ward meetings. Frequently,
he took his book to the Duke home and read aloud to Carlia. This she
enjoyed very much. Sometimes the book was a first class novel, but
oftener it was a scientific text or a religions treatise. Carlia
listened attentively to his discussion of deep problems, and he was
agreeably surprised to learn that she could readily follow him in the
discussion of these themes; so that the long winter evenings spent
with her either at her home or at his own became a source of great
inspiration to the young man who had not lost sight or the mission
assigned to him by the beloved Uncle Zed. Dorian talked freely to Carlia
on how he might best fulfill the high destiny which seemed to lay before
him; and Carlia entered enthusiastically into his plans.
"Fine, fine," she would say. "Carry it out. You can do it."
"With your help, Carlia."
"I'll gladly help you all I can; but that is so little; what can I do?"
"Trust me, have faith in me; and when the time comes, marry me."
This was usually the end of the conversation for Carlia; she became
silent unless he changed the subject.
Dorian, naturally undemonstrative, was now more careful than ever in
his love making. The intimacy between them never quite returned to the
earlier state. Complete forgetfulness of what had been, was, of course,
impossible, either for Carlia or for Dorian; but he tried manfully not
to let the "specter" come too often between him and the girl he loved.
He frequently told her that he loved her, but it was done by simple word
or act. Dorian's greater knowledge gave him the advantage over her. He
was bound by this greater knowledge to be the stronger, the wiser, the
one who could keep all situations well in hand.
One evening, when Carlia was unusually sweet and tempting, he asked if
he might kiss her goodnight. She set her face as if it were hard to deny
him, but she finally said:
"No; you must not."
"Why not, Carlia?"
"We're not engaged yet."
"We are not. I have never promised to marry you, have I?" She smiled.
"No; I guess not; but that's understood."
"Don't be so sure."
"There are some things definitely fixed without the spoken word."
"Good night, Dorian." She was smiling still.
"Good night, Carlia." Their hands met and clasped, atoning the best they
could for the forbidden kiss.
One evening when the feeling of spring was in the air, Dorian was going
to call on Carlia, when he heard the approach of an automobile. As it
turned into the bystreet, leading to the Duke home, Dorian saw the
driver to be Mr. Jack Lamont. Dorian kept in the road, and set his face
hard. As the machine had to stop to prevent running over him, Dorian
turned, walked deliberately to the side of the car, and looking steadily
into Mr. Lamont's face, said:
"I'm going to Mr. Duke's also. If I find you there, I'll thrash you
within an inch of your life. Drive on."
For a moment, the two glared at each other, then the automobile went
on--on past the Duke house toward town. When Dorian arrived at his
destination, Carlia greeted him with:
"Dorian, what's the matter?"
"Nothing," he laughed.
"You're as pale as a ghost."
"Am I? Well, I haven't seen any ghosts--Say, mother wants you to come to
supper. She has something you specially like. Can you?"
"Sure, she can," answered her mother, for she was glad to have Carlia
out away from the work which she was determined to stick to closer than
ever. Carlia was pleased to go, and kept up a merry chatter until she
saw that Dorian was exceptionally sober-minded. She asked him what was
the matter with him, but he evaded. His thoughts were on the man whom
he had prevented from calling at her home that evening. What was his
errand? What was in the scoundrel's mind? Dorian struggled to put away
from him the dark thoughts which had arisen because of his recent
encounter with Mr. Lamont. All the evening at home and during their walk
back he was unusually silent, and Carlia could only look at him with
Spring, once started, came on with a rush. The melting snow filled the
river with a muddy flood; the grass greened the slopes; the bursting
willows perfumed the air; the swamp awakened to the warm touch of the
sun. Dorian's busy season also began.
As soon as the roads were passible, Dorian drove up to his dry-farm. On
one of these first trips he fell in with a company of his neighboring
dry-farmers, and they traveled together. While they were stopping for
noon at a small hotel in the canyon, a rain storm came up, which delayed
them. They were not impatient, however, as the moisture was welcome; so
the farmers rested easily, letting their horses eat a little longer than
The conversation was such which should be expected of Bishop's
counselors, president of Elders' quorums, and class leaders in
the Mutual, which these men were. On this occasion some of the
always-present moral problems were discussed. Dorian was so quiet that
eventually some one called on him for an opinion.
"I don't think I can add anything to the discussion," replied Dorian.
"Only this, however: One day in Sunday school Uncle Zed painted the
terrors of sin to us boys in such colours that I shall never forget it.
The result in my case is that I have a dreadful fear of moral wrong
doing. I am literally scared, I--"
Dorian turned his eyes to the darkened doorway. Mr. Jack Lamont stood
there with a cynical expression on his face. His hat was tilted back on
his head, and a half-smoked cigarette sagged from his lips. The genial
warmth of the room seemed chilled by the newcomer's presence.
"G'day, gentlemen," said Mr. Lamont. "Mr. Trent, here, is afraid, I
The men arose. Outside the clouds were breaking. Dorian stepped forward,
quite close to Jack Lamont.
"Yes, I am afraid," said Dorian, his face white with passion, "but not
of what you think, not of what you would be afraid, you dirty, low,
Lamont raised a riding whip he had in his hand, but the men interfered,
and they all moved outside into the yard. Dorian, still tense with
anger, permitted himself to be taken to the teams where they began
hitching up. Dorian soon had himself under control, yet he was not
satisfied with the matter ending thus. Quietly slipping back to where
Mr. Lamont stood looking at the men preparing to drive on, he said, "I
want a word with you."
The other tried to evade.
"Don't try to get away until I'm through with you. I want to tell you
again what a contemptible cur you are. No one but a damned scoundrel
would take advantage of a girl as you did, and then leave her to bear
her shame alone."
"Do you mean Carlia--"
"Don't utter her name from your foul lips."
"For if you do, I might say, what have I got to do with that? You were
her lover, were you not? you were out with her in the fields many times
until midnight, you--"
The accusing mouth closed there, closed by the mighty impact of Dorian's
fist. The blood spurted from a gashed lip, and Mr. Lamont tried to
defend himself. Again Dorian's stinging blow fell upon the other's face.
Lamont was lighter than Dorian, but he had some skill as a boxer which
he tried to bring into service; but Dorian, mad in his desire to
punish, with unskilled strength fought off all attacks. They grappled,
struggled, and fell, to arise again and give blow for blow. It was all
done so suddenly, and the fighting was so fierce, that Dorian's fellow
travelers did not get to the scene before Jack Lamont lay prone on the
ground from Dorian's finishing knockout blow.
"Damn him!" said Dorian, as he shook himself back into a somewhat normal
condition and spat red on the ground. "He's got just a little of what's
been coming to him for a long time. Let him alone. He's not seriously
hurt. Let's go."
On a Saturday afternoon in early July Dorian and a neighbor were coming
home from a week's absence up in the hills. They were on horseback,
and therefore they cut across by way of the new road in course of
construction between Greenstreet and the city.
The river was high. The new bridge was not yet open for traffic, but
horses could safely cross. As the two riders passed to the Greenstreet
side, they saw near the bridge down on the rocks by the rushing river,
an automobile, overturned and pretty well demolished. Evidently, someone
had been trying to reach the bridge, had missed the road, and had gone
over the bank, which at this point was quite steep.
The two men stopped, dismounted, and surveyed the wreck. Someone was
under the car, dead or alive, they could not tell. Dorian unslung his
rope from his saddle, and took off his coat. "I'll go down and see," he
"Be careful," admonished the other, "if you slip into the river, you'll
be swept away."
Dorian climbed down to where the broken machine lay. Pinned under it
with his body half covered by the water was Mr. Jack Lamont. He was
talking deliriously, calling in broken sentences for help. Dorian's
hesitancy for an instant was only to determine what was the best thing
"Hold on a bit longer, Mr. Lamont," said Dorian; but it was doubtful
whether the injured man understood. He glared at his rescuer with
unseeing eyes. Part of the automobile was already being moved by the
force of the stream, and there was danger that the whole car, together
with the injured man, would be swept down the stream. Dorian, while
clinging to the slippery rocks, tried to pull the man away, but he was
so firmly pinned under the wreck that he could not be moved. Dorian then
shouted to his companion on the bank to bring the rope and come to his
assistance; but even while it was being done, a great rush of water
lifted the broken car out into the stream. Lamont was released, but he
was helpless to prevent the current from sweeping him along.
Dorian reached for the man, but missed him and stepped into a deep
place. He went in to his arms, but he soon scrambled on to a shallower
point where he regained his balance. The unconscious Lamont was
beginning to drift into the current and Dorian knew that if he was to
be saved he must be prevented from getting into the grasp of the
mid-stream. Dorian took desperate chances himself, but his mind was
clear and his nerves were steady as he waded out into the water. His
companion shouted a warning to him from the bank, but he heeded it not.
Lamont's body was moving more rapidly, so Dorian plunged after it, and
by so doing got beyond wading depths. He did not mind that as he was a
good swimmer, and apparently, Mr. Lamont was too far gone to give any
dangerous death grip. Dorian got a good hold of the man's long hair and
with the free arm he managed to direct them both to a stiller pool lower
down where by the aid of his companion, he pulled Lamont out of the
water and laid him on the bank. He appeared to be dead, but the two
worked over him for some time. No other help appeared, so once more they
tried all the means at their command to resuscitate the drowned.
"I think he's gone," said Dorian's companion.
"It seems so. He's received some internal injury. He was not drowned."
"Who is he, I wonder."
"His name is Jack Lamont."
"Do you know him?"
"I know him. Yes; let's carry him up the bank. We'll have to notify
The man was dead when he was laid on the soft warm grass. Dorian covered
the lifeless form with his own coat.
"I'll stay here," suggested Dorian's companion, "while you go and
telephone the police station in the city. Then you go right on home and
get into some dry clothes."
Dorian did as he was told. After reaching the nearest telephone, and
delivering his message, he went on home and explained to his mother what
had happened. Then he changed his clothes.
"What a terrible thing!" exclaimed his mother. "And you also might have
"Oh, no; I was all right. I knew just what I could do. But the poor
fellow. I--I wish I could have saved him. It might have been a double
salvation for him."
The mother did not press him for further explanations, for she also had
news to tell. As soon as Dorian came from his room in his dry clothes,
she asked him if he had seen Brother Duke on the way.
"No, mother; why?"
"Well, he was here not long ago, asking for you. Carlia, it seems, has
had a nervous break down, and the father thinks you can help."
"I'll go immediately."
"You'll have some supper first. It will take me only a moment to place
it on the table."
"No, mother, thank you; after I come back; or perhaps I'll eat over
there. Don't wait for me." He was out of the house, and nearly running
along the road.
Dorian found Carlia's father and mother under great mental strain.
"We're so glad you came," they said; "we're sure you can help her."
"What is the matter!"
"We hardly know. We don't understand. This afternoon--that Mr. Jack
Lamont--you remember him--he used to come here. Well, he hasn't been
around for over a year, for which we were very thankful, until this
afternoon when he came in his automobile. Carlia was in the garden, and
she saw him drive up to the gate. When he alighted and came toward her,
she seemed frightened out of her wits, for she ran terror stricken into
the house. She went up to her bedroom and would not come down."
"He did not see her, then, to talk to her?"
"No; he waited a few moments only, then drove off again."
"Where is Carlia now?"
"Still up in her room."
"May I go up to her?"
"Yes; but won't you have her come down?"
"No, I'd rather go up there, if you don't mind."
"Not at all. Dorian, you seem the only help we have."
He went through the living room to the stairway. He noticed that the
bare boards of the stairs had been covered with a carpet, which made his
ascending steps quite noiseless. Everything was still in Carlia's room.
The door was slightly ajar, so he softly pushed it open. Carlia was
lying on her bed asleep.
Dorian tiptoed in and stood looking about. The once bare, ugly room had
been transformed into quite a pretty chamber, with carpet and curtains
and wall-paper and some pretty furniture. The father had at last done a
sensible thing for his daughter.
Carlia slept on peacefully. She had not even washed away the tear-stains
from her cheeks, and her nut-brown hair lay in confusion about her head.
Poor, dear girl! If there ever was a suffering penitent, here was one.
In a few moments, the girl stirred, then sensing that someone was in the
room, she awoke with a start, and sprang to her feet.
"It's only Dorian," said he.
"Oh!" she put her hand to her head, brushing back her hair.
"Dorian, is it you?"
"Sure, in real flesh and blood and rusty-red hair." He tried to force
cheerfulness into his words.
"I'm so glad, so glad it's you."
"And I'm glad that you're glad to see me."
"Has he gone? I'm afraid of him."
"Afraid of whom, Carlia?"
"Don't you know? Of course you don't know. I--"
"Sit down here, Carlia." He brought a chair; but she took it nearer the
open window, and he pushed up the blind that the cool air might the more
freely enter. The sun was nearing the western hills, and the evening
sounds from the yard came to them. He drew a chair close to hers, and
sat down by her, looking silently into the troubled face.
"I'm a sight," she said, coming back to the common, everyday cares as
she tried to get her hair into order.
"No, you're not. Never mind a few stray locks of hair. Never mind that
tear-stained face. I have something to tell you."
"You said you were afraid, afraid of Mr. Jack Lamont."
"Yes," she whispered.
"Well, you never need be afraid of him again."
"I--I don't understand."
"Jack Lamont is dead."
She gave a startled cry.
"No; I have not killed him. He was and is in the hands of the Lord."
Then he told her what had happened that afternoon.
Carlia listened with staring eyes and bated breath. And Dorian had
actually risked his life in an attempt to save Jack Lamont! If Dorian
only had known! But he would never know, never now. She had heard of the
fight between Dorian and Lamont, as that had been common gossip for a
time; but Carlia had no way of connecting that event with herself or her
secret, as no one had heard what words passed between them that day, and
Dorian had said nothing. And now he had tried to save the life of the
man whom he had so thoroughly trounced. "What a puzzle he was! And yet
what a kind, open face was his, as he sat there in the reddening evening
light telling her in his simple way what he had done. What did he know,
anyway? For it would be just like him to do good to those who would
harm him; and had she not proved in her own case that he had been more
patient and kind to her after her return than before. What did he know?
"Shall I close the window?" he asked. "Is there too much draught?"
"No; I must have air or I shall stifle. Dorian, tell me, what do you
know about this Mr. Lamont?"
"Why, not much, Carlia; not much good, at any rate. You know I met him
only a few times." He tried to answer her questions and at the same time
give her as little information as possible.
"But Dorian, why did you fight with him?"
"He insulted me. I've explained that to you before."
"That's not all the reason. Jack Lamont could not insult you. I mean,
you would pay no attention to him if only yourself were involved."
"Now, Carlia, don't you begin to philosophize on my reasons for giving
Jack Lamont a licking. He's dead, and let's let him rest in as much
peace as the Lord will allow."
"Now, my dear, you feel able to go down and have some supper. Your
father and mother should be told the news, and perhaps I can do that
better than anybody else. I'll go with you, and, if your mother has
something good for supper, I'll stay."
But the girl did not respond to his light speech. She sat very still
by the window. For a long, long time--ages it seemed to her, she had
suffered in silent agony for her sin, feeling as if she were being
smothered by her guilty secret. She could not bring herself to tell it
even to her mother. How could she tell it to anyone eke, certainly not
Dorian. And yet, as she sat there with him she felt as if she might
confide in him. He would listen without anger or reproach. He would
forgive. He--her heart soared, but her brain came back with a jolt to
her daily thinking again. No, no, he must not know, he must never know;
for if he knew, then all would surely be over between them, and then,
she might as well die and be done with it!
She did not even hear him.
But Dorian must know, he must know the truth before he asked her again
to marry him. But if he knew, he would never urge that again. That
perhaps would be for the best, anyway. And yet she could not bear the
thought of sending him away for good. If he deserted her, who else would
she have? No; she must have him near her, at least. Clear thinking was
not easy for her just then, but in time she managed to say:
"Dorian, sit down.... Do you remember that evening, not so long ago,
when you let me 'browse', as you called it, among Uncle Zed's books and
"Yes; you have done that a number of times."
"But there is one time which I shall remember. It was the time when I
read what Uncle Zed had written about sin and death."
"O, I had not intended you to see that."
"But I did, and I read carefully every word of it. I understood most of
it, too. 'The wages of sin is death'--That applies to me. I am a sinner.
I shall die. I have already died, according to Uncle Zed."
"No, Carlia, you misapply that. We are all sinners, and we all die in
proportion to our sinning. That's true enough; but there is also
the blessed privilege of repentance to consider. Let me finish the
quotation: 'The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal
life through Jesus Christ our Lord'; also let me add what the Lord said
about those who truly repent; 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they
shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be
as wool'. That is a great comfort to all of us, Carlia."
"Yes; thank you, Dorian.... but--but now I must tell you. The Lord may
forgive me, but you cannot."
"Carlia, I have long since forgiven you."
"Oh, of my little foolish ways, of course; but, Dorian, you don't
"But, Carlia, I do know. And I tell you that I have forgiven you."
"The terrible thing about me?"
"The unfortunate thing and the great sorrow which has come to you, and
the suffering--yes, Carlia, I know."
"I can't understand your saying that."
"But I understand."
"Who told you?"
"Have you been there?"
"Dorian!" She stared past him through the open window into the western
sky. The upper disk of the sun sank slowly behind the purple mountain.
The flaming underlining of a cloud reflected on the open water of the
marshland and faintly into the room and on to the pale face of the
girl. Presently, she arose, swayed and held out her arms as if she was
falling. Dorian caught her. Tears, long pent up, save in her own lonely
hours, now broke as a torrent from her eyes, and her body shook in sobs.
Gone was her reserve now, her holding him away, her power of resistance.
She lay supinely in his arms, and he held her close. O, how good it was
to cry thus! O, what a haven of rest! Would the tears and sobs never
cease?... The sun was down, the color faded from the sky, a big shadow
enveloped the earth.
Then when she became quieter, she freed her arms, reached up and clasped
her hands behind his neck, clinging to him as if she never wanted to
leave him. Neither could speak. He stroked her hair, kissed her cheeks,
her eyes, wiped away her tears, unaware of those which ran unhindered
down his own face....
"Carlia, my darling, Carlia," he breathed.
"Dorian, Oh, Dorian, _how_--_good_--_you_--_are_!"
CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.
It was a day in June--nearly a year from the time of the
"understanding"--a day made more beautiful because of its being in the
mountains and on a Sunday afternoon. Dorian and Carlia lived in the
midst of its rarity, seated as they were on the grassy hill-side
overlooking the dry-land farms near at hand and the valley below,
through which tumbled the brook. The wild odor of hill plants mingled
with the pungent fragrance of choke-cherry blossoms. The air was as
clear as crystal. The mountains stood about them in silent, solemn
watchfulness, strong and sure as the ages. The red glowed in Carlia's
lips again, and the roses in her cheeks. The careworn look was gone from
her face. Peace had come into her heart, peace with herself, with the
man she loved, and with God.
Dorian pointed out to her where the wild strawberries grew down in the
valley, and where the best service berries could be found on the hills.
He told her how the singing creek had, when he was alone in the hills,
echoed all his varied moods.
Then they were silent for a time, letting the contentment of their love
suffice. For now all barriers between these two were down. There was no
thought they could not share, no joy neither trouble they could not meet
together. However, they were very careful of each other; their present
peace and content had not easily been reached. They had come "up through
great tribulation," even thus far in their young lives. The period of
their purification seemed now to be drawing to a close, and they were
entering upon a season of rest for the soul.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." This promise is
surely not limited to that hoped-for future time when we shall have laid
aside mortality, but the pure in heart see much of God here and now--see
Him in the beauty of hill and dale, in cloud and blue sky, in placid
pool and running water, in flowers and insect, and in the wonderful
workings of the human heart! And so Dorian Trent and Carlia Duke, being
of the pure in heart, saw much of God and His glory that afternoon.
Then they talked again of the home folks, of Mildred Brown, and of Uncle
Zed; and at length came to their own immediate affairs.
That fall Dorian was to enter the University. The farm at Greenstreet
would have to be let to others, but he thought he could manage the
dry-farm, as most of the work came in vacation season. Mrs. Trent did
not want to leave her home in the country; but she would likely become
lonesome living all by herself; so there would always be a room for her
with Dorian and Carlia in the little house they would rent near the
school. Then, after the University, there would be some Eastern College
for a period of years, and after that, other work. The task Dorian had
set before him was a big one, but it was a very important one, and no
one seemed to be doing it as yet. He might fail in accomplishing what
he and Uncle Zed and perhaps the Lord had in mind regarding him, but he
would do his very best, anyway.
"You'll not fail," the girl at his side assured him.
"I hope not. But I know some men who have gone in for all the learning
they could obtain, and in the process of getting the learning, they have
lost their faith. With me, the very object of getting knowledge is to
strengthen my faith. What would it profit if one gains the whole world
of learning and loses his soul in the process. Knowledge is power, both
for good and for ill. I have been thinking lately of the nature of
faith, the forerunner of knowledge. I can realize somewhat the meaning
of the scripture which says that the worlds were framed and all things
in them made by the power of faith. As Uncle Zed used to say--"
"You always put it that way. Don't you know anything of your own?"
"No; no one does. There is no such thing as knowledge of one's own
making. Knowledge has always existed from the time when there has been a
mind to conceive it. The sum of truth is eternal. We can only discover
truth, or be told it by someone who has already found it. God has done
that. He comprehends all truth, and therefore all power and all glory is
found in Him. It is the most natural thing in the world, then, that we
should seek the truth from the fountain head or source to us, and that
Although it was after the usual time of the Sunday sermon, Dorian felt
free to go on.
"'When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?' I hope
to help a little to make the answer, Yes. I know of nothing which the
world needs more than faith. Not many are specializing in that field.
Edison is bringing forth some of the wonders of electricity; Burbank
is doing marvelous things in the plant world; we have warriors and
statesmen and philosophers and philanthropists and great financiers
a-plenty; we have scientists too, and some of them are helping. Have you
ever heard of Sir Oliver Lodge and Lord Kelvin?"
No; she never had.
"Well"--and Dorian laughed softly to himself at the apparent egotism of
the proposition--"I must be greater than either of them. I must know
all they know, and more; and that is possible, for I have the 'Key
of Knowledge' which even the most learned scholar cannot get without
obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel."
Carlia silently worshiped.
"Now," he continued in a somewhat lighter vein, "do you realize what
you are doing when you say you will be my wife and put up with all the
eccentricities of such a man as I am planning to be? Are you willing to
be a poor man's wife, for I cannot get money and this knowledge I am
after at the same time? Are you willing to go without the latest in
dresses and shoes and hats--if necessary?"
"Haven't I heard you say that the larger part of love is in giving and
not in getting?" replied she.
"Yes, I believe that's true."
"Well, then, that's my answer. Don't deny me the joy I can get by the
little I can give."