Part 2 out of 4
is a prejudice against women physicians, and I couldn't especially blame
him for sharing it. I have thought it all over. If he refuses, I shall
know what to do." She had ceased to address Libby, who respected her
soliloquy. He drove on rapidly over the soft road, where the wheels made
no sound, and the track wandered with apparent aimlessness through the
interminable woods of young oak and pine. The low trees were full of the
sunshine, and dappled them with shadow as they dashed along; the fresh,
green ferns springing from the brown carpet of the pineneedles were as if
painted against it. The breath of the pines was heavier for the recent
rain; and the woody smell of the oaks was pungent where the balsam
failed. They met no one, but the solitude did not make itself felt
through her preoccupation. From time to time she dropped a word or two;
but for the most she was silent, and he did not attempt to lead. By and
by they came to an opener place, where there were many red fieldlilies
tilting in the wind.
"Would you like some of those?" he asked, pulling up.
"I should, very much," she answered, glad of the sight of the gay things.
But when he had gathered her a bunch of the flowers she looked down at
them in her lap, and said, "It's silly in me to be caring for lilies at
such a time, and I should make an unfavorable impression on Dr. Mulbridge
if he saw me with them. But I shall risk their effect on him. He may
think I have been botanizing."
"Unless you tell him you have n't," the young man suggested.
"I need n't do that."
"I don't think any one else would do it."
She colored a little at the tribute to her candor, and it pleased her,
though it had just pleased her as much to forget that she was not like
any other young girl who might be simply and irresponsibly happy in
flowers gathered for her by a young man. "I won't tell him, either!" she
cried, willing to grasp the fleeting emotion again; but it was gone, and
only a little residue of sad consciousness remained.
The woods gave way on either side of the road, which began to be a
village street, sloping and shelving down toward the curve of a quiet
bay. The neat weather-gray dwellings, shingled to the ground and
brightened with door-yard flowers and creepers, straggled off into the
boat-houses and fishing-huts on the shore, and the village seemed to get
afloat at last in the sloops and schooners riding in the harbor, whose
smooth plane rose higher to the eye than the town itself. The salt and
the sand were everywhere, but though there had been no positive
prosperity in Corbitant for a generation, the place had an impregnable
neatness, which defied decay; if there had been a dog in the street,
there would not have been a stick to throw at him.
One of the better, but not the best, of the village houses, which did not
differ from the others in any essential particular, and which stood flush
upon the street, bore a door-plate with the name Dr. Rufus Mulbridge, and
Libby drew up in front of it without having had to alarm the village with
inquiries. Grace forbade his help in dismounting, and ran to the door,
where she rang one of those bells which sharply respond at the back of
the panel to the turn of a crank in front; she observed, in a difference
of paint, that this modern improvement had displaced an oldfashioned
knocker. The door was opened by a tall and strikingly handsome old
woman, whose black eyes still kept their keen light under her white hair,
and whose dress showed none of the incongruity which was offensive in the
door-bell: it was in the perfection of an antiquated taste, which,
however, came just short of characterizing it with gentlewomanliness.
"Is Dr. Mulbridge at home?" asked Grace.
"Yes," said the other, with a certain hesitation, and holding the door
"I should like to see him," said Grace, mounting to the threshold.
"Is it important?" asked the elder woman.
"Quite," replied Grace, with an accent at once of surprise and decision.
"You may come in," said the other reluctantly, and she opened a door into
a room at the side of the hall.
"You may give Dr. Mulbridge my card, if you please," said Grace, before
she turned to go into this room; and the other took it, and left her to
find a chair for herself. It was a country doctor's office, with the
usual country doctor's supply of drugs on a shelf, but very much more
than the country doctor's usual library: the standard works were there,
and there were also the principal periodicals and the latest treatises of
note in the medical world. In a long, upright case, like that of an old
hall-clock, was the anatomy of one who had long done with time; a
laryngoscope and some other professional apparatus of constant utility
lay upon the leaf of the doctor's desk. There was nothing in the room
which did not suggest his profession, except the sword and the spurs
which hung upon the wall opposite where Grace sat beside one of the front
windows. She spent her time in study of the room and its appointments,
and in now and then glancing out at Mr. Libby, who sat statuesquely
patient in the buggy. His profile cut against the sky was blameless; and
a humorous shrewdness which showed in the wrinkle at his eye and in the
droop of his yellow mustache gave its regularity life and charm. It
occurred to her that if Dr. Mulbridge caught sight of Mr. Libby before he
saw her, or before she could explain that she had got one of the
gentlemen at the hotel--she resolved upon this prevarication--to drive
her to Corbitant in default of another conveyance, he would have his
impressions and conjectures, which doubtless the bunch of lilies in her
hand would do their part to stimulate. She submitted to this
possibility, and waited for his coming, which began to seem unreasonably
delayed. The door opened at last, and a tall, powerfully framed man of
thirty-five or forty, dressed in an ill-fitting suit of gray Canada
homespun appeared. He moved with a slow, pondering step, and carried his
shaggy head bent downwards from shoulders slightly rounded. His dark
beard was already grizzled, and she saw that his mustache was burnt and
turned tawny at points by smoking, of which habit his presence gave stale
evidence to another sense. He held Grace's card in his hand, and he
looked at her, as he advanced, out of gray eyes that, if not sympathetic,
were perfectly intelligent, and that at once sought to divine and class
her. She perceived that he took in the lilies and her coming color; she
felt that he noted her figure and her dress.
She half rose in response to his questioning bow, and he motioned her to
her seat again. "I had to keep you waiting," he said. "I was up all
night with a patient, and I was asleep when my mother called me." He
stopped here, and definitively waited for her to begin.
She did not find this easy, as he took a chair in front of her, and sat
looking steadily in her face. "I'm sorry to have disturbed you"
"Oh, not at all," he interrupted. "The rule is to disturb a doctor."
"I mean," she began again, "that I am not sure that I am justified in
He waited a little while for her to go on, and then he said, "Well, let
"I wish to consult with you," she broke out, and again she came to a
sudden pause; and as she looked into his vigilant face, in which she was
not sure there was not a hovering derision, she could not continue. She
felt that she ought to gather courage from the fact that he had not
started, or done anything positively disagreeable when she had asked for
a consultation; but she could not, and it did not avail her to reflect
that she was rendering herself liable to all conceivable misconstruction,
--that she was behaving childishly, with every appearance of behaving
He came to her aid again, in a blunt fashion, neither kind nor unkind,
but simply common sense. "What is the matter?"
"What is the matter?" she repeated.
"Yes. What are the symptoms? Where and how are, you sick?"
"I am not sick," she cried. They stared at each other in reciprocal
amazement and mystification.
"Then excuse me if I ask you what you wish me to do?"
"Oh!" said Grace, realizing his natural error, with a flush. "It is n't
in regard to myself that I wish to consult with you. It's another
"Well," said Dr. Mulbridge, laughing, with the impatience of a physician
used to making short cuts through the elaborate and reluctant statements
of ladies seeking advice, "what is the matter with your friend?"
"She has been an invalid for some time," replied Grace. The laugh, which
had its edge of patronage and conceit, stung her into self-possession
again, and she briefly gave the points of Mrs. Maynard's case, with the
recent accident and the symptoms developed during the night. He listened
attentively, nodding his head at times, and now and then glancing sharply
at her, as one might at a surprisingly intelligent child.
"I must see her," he said decidedly, when she came to an end. "I will
see her as soon as possible. I will come over to Jocelyn's this
afternoon,--as soon as I can get my dinner, in fact."
There was such a tone of dismissal in his words that she rose, and he
promptly followed her example. She stood hesitating a moment. Then,
"I don't know whether you understood that I wish merely to consult with
you," she said; "that I don't wish to relinquish the case to you"--
"Relinquish the case--consult"--Dr. Mulbridge stared at her. "No, I
don't understand. What do you mean by not relinquishing the case?
If there is some one else in attendance"
"I am in attendance," said the girl firmly. "I am Mrs. Maynard's
"If you have looked at my card"--she began with indignant severity.
He gave a sort of roar of amusement and apology, and then he stared at
her again with much of the interest of a naturalist in an extraordinary
"I beg your pardon," he exclaimed. "I did n't look at it"; but he now
did so, where he held it crumpled in the palm of his left hand. "My
mother said it was a young lady, and I did n't look. Will you will you
sit down, Dr. Breen?" He bustled in getting her several chairs.
"I live off here in a corner, and I have never happened to meet any
ladies ofour profession before. Excuse me, if I spoke under a,--mistaken
impression. I--I--I should not have--ah--taken you for a physician.
You"--He checked himself, as if he might have been going to say that she
was too young and too pretty. "Of course, I shall have pleasure in
consulting with you in regard to your friend's case, though I've no doubt
you are doing all that can be done." With a great show of deference, he
still betrayed something of the air of one who humors a joke; and she
felt this, but felt that she could not openly resent it.
"Thank you," she returned with dignity, indicating with a gesture of her
hand that she would not sit down again. "I am sorry to ask you to come
"Oh, not at all. I shall be driving over in that direction at any rate.
I've a patient near there." He smiled upon her with frank curiosity, and
seemed willing to detain her, but at a loss how to do so. "If I had n't
been stupid from my nap I should have inferred a scientific training from
your statement of your friend's case." She still believed that he was
laughing at her, and that this was a mock but she was still helpless to
resent it, except by an assumption of yet colder state. This had
apparently no effect upon Dr. Mulbridge. He continued to look at her
with hardly concealed amusement, and visibly to grow more and more
conscious of her elegance and style, now that she stood before him.
There had been a time when, in planning her career, she had imagined
herself studying a masculine simplicity and directness of address; but
the over-success of some young women, her fellows at the school, in this
direction had disgusted her with it, and she had perceived that after all
there is nothing better for a girl, even a girl who is a doctor of
medicine, than a ladylike manner. Now, however, she wished that she
could do or say something aggressively mannish, for she felt herself
dwindling away to the merest femininity, under a scrutiny which had its
fascination, whether agreeable or disagreeable. "You must," he said,
with really unwarrantable patronage, "have found that the study of
medicine has its difficulties,--you must have been very strongly drawn
"Oh no, not at all; I had rather an aversion at first," she replied, with
the instant superiority of a woman where the man suffers any topic to
become personal. "Why did you think I was drawn to it?"
"I don't know--I don't know that I thought so," he stammered. "I believe
I intended to ask," he added bluntly; but she had the satisfaction of
seeing him redden, and she did not volunteer anything in his relief.
She divined that it would leave him with an awkward sense of defeat if he
quitted the subject there; and in fact he had determined that he would
not. "Some of our ladies take up the study abroad," he said; and he went
on to speak, with a real deference, of the eminent woman who did the
American name honor by the distinction she achieved in the schools of
"I have never been abroad," said Grace.
"No?" he exclaimed. "I thought all American ladies had been abroad"; and
now he said, with easy recognition of her resolution not to help him out,
"I suppose you have your diploma from the Philadelphia school."
"No," she returned, "from the New York school,--the homoeopathic school
of New York."
Dr. Mulbridge instantly sobered, and even turned a little pale, but he
did not say anything. He remained looking at her as if she had suddenly
changed from a piquant mystery to a terrible dilemma.
She moved toward the door. "Then I may expect you," she said, "about
the middle of the afternoon."
He did not reply; he stumbled upon the chairs in following her a pace or
two, with a face of acute distress. Then he broke out with "I can't
come! I can't consult with you!"
She turned and looked at him with astonishment, which he did his best to
meet. Her astonishment congealed into hauteur, and then dissolved into
the helplessness of a lady who has been offered a rudeness; but still she
did not speak. She merely looked at him, while he halted and stammered
"Personally, I--I--should be--obliged--I should feel honored--I--I--It
has nothing to do with your--your--being a--a--a--woman lady. I should
not care for that. No. But surely you must know the reasons--the
obstacles--which deter me?"
"No, I don't," she said, calm with the advantage of his perturbation.
"But if you refuse, that is sufficient. I will not inquire your reasons.
I will simply withdraw my request."
"Thank you. But I beg you to understand that they have no reference
whatever to you in--your own--capacity--character--individual quality.
They are purely professional--that is, technical--I should say
disciplinary,--entirely disciplinary. Yes, disciplinary." The word
seemed to afford Dr. Mulbridge the degree of relief which can come only
from an exactly significant and luminously exegetic word.
"I don't at all know what you mean," said Grace. "But it is not
necessary that I should know. Will you allow me?" she asked, for Dr.
Mulbridge had got between her and the door, and stood with his hand on
His face flushed, and drops stood on his forehead. "Surely, Miss--I
mean Doctor--Breen, you must know why I can't consult with you! We
belong to two diametrically opposite schools--theories--of medicine. It
would be impracticable--impossible for us to consult. We could find no
common ground. Have you never heard that the--ah regular practice cannot
meet homoeopathists in this way? If you had told me--if I had known--you
were a homoeopathist, I could n't have considered the matter at all. I
can't now express any opinion as to your management of the case, but I
have no doubt that you will know what to do--from your point of view--and
that you will prefer to call in some one of your own--persuasion. I hope
that you don't hold me personally responsible for this result!"
"Oh, no!" replied the girl, with a certain dreamy abstraction. "I had
heard that you made some such distinction--I remember, now. But I could
n't realize anything so ridiculous."
Dr. Mulbridge colored. "Excuse me," he said, "if, even under the
circumstances, I can't agree with you that the position taken by the
regular practice is ridiculous."
She did not make any direct reply. "But I supposed that you only made
this distinction, as you call it, in cases where there is no immediate
danger; that in a matter of life and death you would waive it. Mrs.
Maynard is really--"
"There are no conditions under which I could not conscientiously refuse
to waive it."
"Then," cried Grace, "I withdraw the word! It is not ridiculous. It is
monstrous, atrocious, inhuman!"
A light of humorous irony glimmered in Dr. Mulbridge's eye. "I must
submit to your condemnation."
"Oh, it isn't a personal condemnation!" she retorted. "I have no doubt
that personally you are not responsible. We can lay aside our
distinctions as allopathist and homoeopathist, and you can advise with
"It's quite impossible," said Dr. Mulbridge. "If I advised with you,
I might be--A little while ago one of our school in Connecticut was
expelled from the State Medical Association for consulting with"--he
began to hesitate, as if he had not hit upon a fortunate or appropriate
illustration, but he pushed on--"with his own wife, who was a physician
of your school."
She haughtily ignored his embarrassment. "I can appreciate your
difficulty, and pity any liberal-minded person who is placed as you are,
and disapproves of such wretched bigotry."
"I am obliged to tell you," said Dr. Mulbridge, "that I don't disapprove
"I am detaining you," said Grace. "I beg your pardon. I was curious to
know how far superstition and persecution can go in our day." If the
epithets were not very accurate, she used them with a woman's
effectiveness, and her intention made them descriptive. "Good-day," she
added, and she made a movement toward the door, from which Dr. Mulbridge
retired. But she did not open the door. Instead, she sank into the
chair which stood in the corner, and passed her hand over her forehead,
as if she were giddy.
Dr. Mulbridge's finger was instantly on her wrist. "Are you faint?"
"No, no!" she gasped, pulling her hand away. "I am perfectly well."
Then she was silent for a time before she added by a supreme effort, "I
have no right to endanger another's life, through any miserable pride,
and I never will. Mrs. Maynard needs greater experience than mine, and
she must have it. I can't justify myself in the delay and uncertainty of
sending to Boston. I relinquish the case. I give it to you. And I will
nurse her under your direction, obediently, conscientiously. Oh!" she
cried, at his failure to make any immediate response, "surely you won't
refuse to take the case!"
"I won't refuse," he said, with an effect of difficult concession.
"I will come. I will drive over at once, after dinner."
She rose now, and put her hand on the door-latch. "Do you object to my
nursing your patient? She is an old school friend. But I could yield
that point too, if"--
"Oh, no, no! I shall be only too glad of your help, and your"--he was
going to say advice, but he stopped himself, and repeated--"help."
They stood inconclusively a moment, as if they would both be glad of
something more to say. Then she said tentatively, "Good-morning," and be
responded experimentally, "Good-morning"; and with that they
involuntarily parted, and she went out of the door, which he stood
holding open even after she had got out of the gate.
His mother came down the stairs. "What in the world were you quarrelling
with that girl about, Rufus?"
"We were not quarrelling, mother."
"Well, it sounded like it. Who was she?
"Who?" repeated her son absently. "Dr. Breen."
"Doctor Breen? That girl a doctor?"
"I thought she was some saucy thing. Well, upon my word!" exclaimed Mrs.
Mulbridge. "So that is a female doctor, is it? Was she sick?"
"No," said her son, with what she knew to be professional finality."
Mother, if you can hurry dinner a little, I shall be glad. I have to
drive over to Jocelyn's, and I should like to start as soon as possible."
"Who was the young man with her? Her beau, I guess."
"Was there a young man with her?" asked Dr. Mulbridge.
His mother went out without'speaking. She could be unsatisfactory, too.
No one but Mrs. Breen knew of her daughter's errand, and when Grace came
back she alighted from Mr. Libby's buggy with an expression of thanks
that gave no clew as to the direction or purpose of it. He touched his
hat to her with equal succinctness, and drove away, including all the
ladies on the piazza in a cursory obeisance.
"We must ask you, Miss Gleason," said Mrs. Alger. "Your admiration of
Dr. Breen clothes you with authority and responsibility."
"I can't understand it at all," Miss Gleason confessed. "But I'm sure
there's nothing in it. He isn't her equal. She would feel that it
wasn't right--under the circumstances."
"But if Mrs. Maynard was well it would be a fair game, you mean," said
"No," returned Miss Gleason, with the greatest air of candor, "I can't
admit that I meant that."
"Well," said the elder lady, "the presumption is against them. Every
young couple seen together must be considered in love till they prove the
"I like it in her," said Mrs. Frost. "It shows that she is human, after
all. It shows that she is like other girls. It's a relief."
"She is n't like other girls," contended Miss Gleason darkly.
"I would rather have Mr. Libby's opinion," said Mrs. Merritt.
Grace went to Mrs. Maynard's room, and told her that Dr. Mulbridge was
coming directly after dinner.
"I knew you would do it!" cried Mrs. Maynard, throwing her right arm
round Grace's neck, while the latter bent over to feel the pulse in her
left. "I knew where you had gone as soon as your mother told me you had
driven off with Walter Libby. I'm so glad that you've got somebody to
consult! Your theories are perfectly right and I'm sure that Dr.
Mulbridge will just tell you to keep on as you've been doing."
Grace withdrew from her caress. "Dr. Mulbridge is not coming for a
consultation. He refused to consult with me."
"Refused to consult? Why, how perfectly ungentlemanly! Why did he
"Because he is an allopathist and I am a homoeopathist."
"Then, what is he coming for, I should like to know!"
"I have given up the case to him," said Grace wearily.
"Very well, then!" cried Mrs. Maynard, "I won't be given up. I will
simply die! Not a pill, not a powder, of his will I touch! If he thinks
himself too good to consult with another doctor, and a lady at that,
merely because she doesn't happen to be allopathist, he can go along!
I never heard of anything so conceited, so disgustingly mean, in my life.
No, Grace! Why, it's horrid!" She was silent, and then, "Why, of
course," she added, "if he comes, I shall have to see him. I look like a
fright, I suppose."
"I will do your hair," said Grace, with indifference to these vows and
protests; and without deigning further explanation or argument she made
the invalid's toilet for her. If given time, Mrs. Maynard would talk
herself into any necessary frame of mind, and Grace merely supplied the
monosyllabic promptings requisite for her transition from mood to mood.
It was her final resolution that when Dr. Mulbridge did come she should
give him a piece of her mind; and she received him with anxious
submissiveness, and hung upon all his looks and words with quaking and
with an inclination to attribute her unfavorable symptoms to the
treatment of her former physician. She did not spare him certain
apologies for the disorderly appearance of her person and her room.
Grace sat by and watched him with perfectly quiescent observance. The
large, somewhat uncouth man gave evidence to her intelligence that he was
all physician--that he had not chosen his profession from any theory or
motive, however good, but had been as much chosen by it as if he had been
born a Physician. He was incredibly gentle and soft in all his
movements, and perfectly kind, without being at any moment unprofitably
sympathetic. He knew when to listen and when not to listen,--to learn
everything from the quivering bundle of nerves before him without seeming
to have learnt anything alarming; he smiled when it would do her good to
be laughed at, and treated her with such grave respect that she could not
feel herself trifled with, nor remember afterwards any point of neglect.
When he rose and left some medicines, with directions to Grace for giving
them and instructions for contingencies, she followed him from the room.
"Well?" she said anxiously.
"Mrs. Maynard is threatened with pneumonia. Or, I don't know why I
should say threatened," he added; "she has pneumonia."
"I supposed--I was afraid so," faltered the girl.
"Yes." He looked into her eyes with even more seriousness than he spoke.
"Has she friends here?" he asked.
"No; her husband is in Cheyenne, out on the plains."
"He ought to know," said Dr. Mulbridge. "A great deal will depend upon
her nursing--Miss--ah--Dr. Breen."
"You need n't call me Dr. Breen," said Grace. "At present, I am Mrs.
He ignored this as he had ignored every point connected with the
interview of the morning. He repeated the directions he had already
given with still greater distinctness, and, saying that he should come in
the morning, drove away. She went back to Louise: inquisition for
inquisition, it was easier to meet that of her late patient than that of
her mother, and for once the girl spared herself.
"I know he thought I was very bad," whimpered Mrs. Maynard, for a
beginning. "What is the matter with me?"
"Your cold has taken an acute form; you will have to go to bed."
"Then I 'm going to be down sick! I knew I was! I knew it! And what am
I going to do, off in such a place as this? No one to nurse me, or look
after Bella! I should think you would be satisfied now, Grace, with the
result of your conscientiousness: you were so very sure that Mr. Libby
was wanting to flirt with me that you drove us to our death, because you
thought he felt guilty and was trying to fib out of it."
"Will you let me help to undress you?" asked Grace gently. "Bella shall
be well taken care of, and I am going to nurse you myself, under Dr.
Mulbridge's direction. And once for all, Louise, I wish to say that I
hold myself to blame for all"--
"Oh, yes! Much good that does now!" Being got into bed, with the sheet
smoothed under her chin, she said, with the effect of drawing a strictly
logical conclusion from the premises, "Well, I should think George
Maynard would want to be with his family!"
Spent with this ordeal, Grace left her at last, and went out on the
piazza, where she found Libby returned. In fact, he had, upon second
thoughts, driven back, and put up his horse at Jocelyn's, that he might
be of service there in case he were needed. The ladies, with whom he had
been making friends, discreetly left him to Grace, when she appeared, and
she frankly walked apart with him, and asked him if he could go over to
New Leyden, and telegraph to Mr. Maynard.
"Has she asked for him?" he inquired, laughing. "I knew it would come to
"She has not asked; she has said that she thought he ought to be with his
family," repeated Grace faithfully.
"Oh, I know how she said it: as if he had gone away wilfully, and kept
away against her wishes and all the claims of honor and duty. It
wouldn't take her long to get round to that if she thought she was very
sick. Is she so bad?" he inquired, with light scepticism.
"She's threatened with pneumonia. We can't tell how bad she may be."
"Why, of course I'll telegraph. But I don't think anything serious can
be the matter with Mrs. Maynard."
"Dr. Mulbridge said that Mr. Maynard ought to know."
"Is that so?" asked Libby, in quite a different tone. If she recognized
the difference, she was meekly far from resenting it; he, however, must
have wished to repair his blunder. "I think you need n't have given up
the case to him. I think you're too conscientious about it."
"Please don't speak of that now," she interposed.
"Well, I won't," he consented. "Can I be of any use here to-night?"
"No, we shall need nothing more. The doctor will be here again in the
"Libby did not come in the morning till after the doctor had gone, and
then he explained that he had waited to hear in reply to his telegram,
so that they might tell Mrs. Maynard her husband had started; and he had
only just now heard.
"And has he started?" Grace asked.
"I heard from his partner. Maynard was at the ranch. His partner had
gone for him."
"Then he will soon be here," she said.
"He will, if telegraphing can bring him. I sat up half the night with
the operator. She was very obliging when she understood the case."
"She?" reputed Grace, with a slight frown.
"The operators are nearly all women in the country."
"Oh!" She looked grave. "Can they trust young girls with such important
"They did n't in this instance," relied Libby. "She was a pretty old
girl. What made you think she was young?"
"I don't know. I thought you said she was young." She blushed, and
seemed about to say more, but she did not.
He waited, and then he said, "You can tell Mrs. Maynard that I
telegraphed on my own responsibility, if you think it's going to alarm
"Well," said Grace, with a helpless sigh.
"You don't like to tell her that," he suggested, after a moment, in which
he had watched her.
"How do you know?"
"Oh, I know. And some day I will tell you how--if you will let me."
It seemed a question; and she did not know what it was that kept her--
silent and breathless and hot in the throat. "I don't like to do it,"
she said at last. "I hate myself whenever I have to feign anything. I
knew perfectly well that you did n't say she was young," she broke out
"Say Mrs. Maynard was young?" he asked stupidly.
"No!" she cried. She rose hastily from the bench where she had been
sitting with him. "I must go back to her now."
He mounted to his buggy, and drove thoughtfully away at a walk.
The ladies, whose excited sympathies for Mrs. Maynard had kept them from
the beach till now, watched him quite out of sight before they began to
talk of Grace.
"I hope Dr. Breen's new patient will be more tractable," said Mrs.
Merritt. "It would be a pity if she had to give him up, too, to Dr.
Mrs. Scott failed of the point. "Why, is Mr. Libby sick?"
"Not very," answered Mrs. Merritt, with a titter of self-applause.
"I should be sorry," interposed Mrs. Alger authoritatively, "if we had
said anything to influence the poor thing in what she has done."
"Oh, I don't think we need distress ourselves about undue influence!"
Mrs. Merritt exclaimed.
Mrs. Alger chose to ignore the suggestion. "She had a very difficult
part; and I think she has acted courageously. I always feel sorry for
girls who attempt anything of that kind. It's a fearful ordeal."
"But they say Miss Breen was n't obliged to do it for a living," Mrs.
"So much the worse," said Mrs. Merritt.
"No, so much the better," returned Mrs. Alger.
Mrs. Merritt, sitting on the edge of the piazza, stooped over with
difficulty and plucked a glass-straw, which she bit as she looked
Mrs. Frost had installed herself as favorite since Mrs. Alger had praised
her hair. She now came forward, and, dropping fondly at her knee, looked
up to her for instruction. "Don't you think that she showed her sense in
giving up at the very beginning, if she found she was n't equal to it?"
She gave her head a little movement from side to side, and put the mass
of her back hair more on show.
"Perhaps," said Mrs. Alger, looking at the favorite not very favorably.
"Oh, I don't think she's given up," Miss Gleason interposed, in her
breathless manner. She waited to be asked why, and then she added,
"I think she's acting in consultation with Dr. Mulbridge. He may have a
certain influence over her,--I think he has; but I know they are acting
Mrs. Merritt flung her grass-straw away. "Perhaps it is to be Dr.
Mulbridge, after all, and not Mr. Libby."
"I have thought of that," Miss Gleason assented candidly. "Yes, I have
thought of that. I have thought of their being constantly thrown
together, in this way. It would not discourage me. She could be quite
as true to her vocation as if she remained single. Truer."
"Talking of true," said Mrs. Scott, "always does make me think of blue.
They say that yellow will be worn on everything this winter."
"Old gold?" asked Mrs. Frost. Yes, more than ever."
"Dear!" cried the other lady. "I don't know what I shall do. It
perfectly kills my hair."
"Oh, Miss Gleason!" exclaimed the young girl.
"Do you believe in character coming out in color?"
"Yes, certainly. I have always believed that."
"Well, I've got a friend, and she wouldn't have anything to do with a
girl that wore magenta more than she would fly."
"I should suppose," explained Miss Gleason, "that all those aniline dyes
implied something coarse in people."
"Is n't it curious," asked Mrs. Frost, "how red-haired people have come
in fashion? I can recollect, when I was a little girl, that everybody
laughed at red hair. There was one girl at the first school I ever went
to,--the boys used to pretend to burn their fingers at her hair."
"I think Dr. Breen's hair is a very pretty shade of brown," said the
Mrs. Merritt rose from the edge of the piazza. "I think that if she
hasn't given up to him entirely she's the most submissive consulting
physician I ever saw," she said, and walked out over the grass towards
The ladies looked after her. "Is Mrs. Merritt more pudgy when she's
sitting down or when she's standing up?" asked Mrs. Scott.
Miss Gleason seized her first chance of speaking with Grace alone.
"Oh, do you know how much you are doing for us all?"
"Doing for you, all? How doing?" faltered Grace, whom she had
whisperingly halted in a corner of the hall leading from the dining-room.
"By acting in unison,--by solving the most perplexing problem in women's
practising your profession. She passed the edge of her fan over her lips
before letting it fall furled upon her left hand, and looked luminously
into Grace's eyes.
"I don't at all know what you mean, Miss Gleason," said the other.
Miss Gleason kicked out the skirt of her dress, so as to leave herself
perfectly free for the explanation. "Practising in harmony with a
physician of the other sex. I have always felt that there was the great
difficulty,--how to bring that about. I have always felt that the TRUE
physician must be DUAL,--have both the woman's nature and the man's; the
woman's tender touch, the man's firm grasp. You have shown how the
medical education of women can meet this want. The physician can
actually be dual,--be two, in fact. Hereafter, I have no doubt we shall
always call a physician of each sex. But it's wonderful how you could
ever bring it about, though you can do anything! Has n't it worn upon
you?" Miss Gleason darted out her sentences in quick, short breaths,
fixing Grace with her eyes, and at each clause nervously tapping her
chest with her reopened fan.
"If you suppose," said Grace, "that Dr. Mulbridge and I are acting
professionally in unison, as you call it, you are mistaken. He has
entire charge of the case; I gave it up to him, and I am merely nursing
Mrs. Maynard under his direction."
"How splendid!" Miss Gleason exclaimed. "Do you know that I admire you
for giving up,--for knowing when to give up? So few women do that!
Is n't he magnificent?"
"I mean psychically. He is what I should call a strong soul You must
have felt his masterfulness; you must have enjoyed it! Don't you like to
"No," said Grace, "I should n't at all like it."
"Oh, I do! I like to meet one of those forceful masculine natures that
simply bid you obey. It's delicious. Such a sense of self-surrender,"
Miss Gleason explained. "It is n't because they are men," she added.
"I have felt the same influence from some women. I felt it, in a certain
degree, on first meeting you."
"I am very sorry," said Grace coldly. "I should dislike being controlled
myself, and I should dislike still more to control others."
"You're doing it now!" cried Miss Gleason, with delight. "I could not do
a thing to resist your putting me down! Of course you don't know that
you're doing it; it's purely involuntary. And you wouldn't know that he
was dominating you. And he would n't."
Very probably Dr. Mulbridge would not have recognized himself in the
character of all-compelling lady's-novel hero, which Miss Gleason
imagined for him. Life presented itself rather simply to him, as it does
to most men, and he easily dismissed its subtler problems from a mind
preoccupied with active cares. As far as Grace was concerned, she had
certainly roused in him an unusual curiosity; nothing less than her
homoeopathy would have made him withdraw his consent to a consultation
with her, and his fear had been that in his refusal she should escape
from his desire to know more about her, her motives, her purposes. He
had accepted without scruple the sacrifice of pride she had made to him;
but he had known how to appreciate her scientific training, which he
found as respectable as that of any clever, young man of their
profession. He praised, in his way, the perfection with which she
interpreted his actions and intentions in regard to the patient.
"If there were such nurses as you, Miss Breen, there would be very little
need of doctors," he said, with a sort of interogative fashion of
laughing peculiar to him.
"I thought of being a nurse once;" she answered. "Perhaps I may still be
one. The scientific training won't be lost."
"Oh, no? It's a pity that more of them have n't it. But I suppose they
think nursing is rather too humble an ambition."
"I don't think it so," said Grace briefly.
"Then you did n't care for medical distinction."
He looked at her quizzically, as if this were much droller than if she
had cared. "I don't understand why you should have gone into it.
You told me, I think, that it was repugnant to you; and it's hard work
for a woman, and very uncertain work for anyone. You must have had a
tremendous desire to benefit your race."
His characterization of her motive was so distasteful that she made no
reply, and left him to his conjectures, in which he did not appear
unhappy. "How do you find Mrs. Maynard to-day?" she asked.
He looked at her with an instant coldness, as if he did not like her
asking, and were hesitating whether to answer. But he said at last,
"She is no better. She will be worse before she is better. You see," he
added, "that I haven't been able to arrest the disorder in its first
stage. We must hope for what can be done now, in the second."
She had gathered from the half jocose ease with which he had listened to
Mrs. Maynard's account of herself, and to her own report, an
encouragement which now fell to the ground "Yes," she assented, in her
despair, "that is the only hope."
He sat beside the table in the hotel parlor, where they found themselves
alone for the moment, and drubbed upon it with an absent look. "Have you
sent for her husband?" he inquired, returning to himself.
"Yes; Mr. Libby telegraphed the evening we saw you."
"That's good," said Dr. Mulbridge, with comfortable approval; and he rose
to go away.
Grace impulsively detained him. "I--won't--ask you whether you consider
Mrs. Maynard's case a serious one, if you object to my doing so."
"I don't know that I object," he said slowly, with a teasing smile, such
as one might use with a persistent child whom one chose to baffle in that
She disdained to avail herself of the implied permission. "What I mean--
what I wish to tell you is--that I feel myself responsible for her
sickness, and that if she dies, I shall be guilty of her death."
"Ah?" said Dr. Mulbridge, with more interest, but the same smile.
"What do you mean?"
"She didn't wish to go that day when she was caught in the storm. But I
insisted; I forced her to go." She stood panting with the intensity of
the feeling which had impelled her utterance.
"What do you mean by forcing her to go?"
"I don't know. I--I--persuaded her."
Dr. Mulbridge smiled, as if he perceived her intention not to tell him
something she wished to tell him. He looked down into his hat, which he
carried in his hand.
"Did you believe the storm was coming?"
"And you did n't make it come?"
"Of course not!"
He looked at her and laughed.
"Oh, you don't at all understand!" she cried.
"I'm not a doctor of divinity," he said. "Good morning."
"Wait, wait!" she implored, "I'm afraid--I don't know--Perhaps my being
near her is injurious to her; perhaps I ought to let some one else nurse
her. I wished to ask you this"--She stopped breathlessly.
"I don't think you have done her any harm as yet," he answered lightly.
"However," he said, after a moment's consideration, "why don't you take a
holiday? Some of the other ladies might look after her a while."
"Do you really think," she palpitated, "that I might? Do you think I
ought? I'm afraid I ought n't"--
"Not if your devotion is hurtful to her?" he asked. "Send some one else
to her for a while. Any one can take care of her for a few hours."
"I couldn't leave her--feeling as I do about her."
"I don't know how you feel about her," said Dr. Mulbridge. "But you
can't go on at this rate. I shall want your help by and by, and Mrs.
Maynard doesn't need you now. Don't go back to her."
"But if she should get worse while I am away"--
"You think your staying and feeling bad would make her better? Don't go
back," he repeated; and he went out to his ugly rawboned horse, and,
mounting his shabby wagon, rattled away. She lingered, indescribably put
to shame by the brutal common sense which she could not impeach, but
which she still felt was no measure of the case. It was true that she
had not told him everything, and she could not complain that he had
mocked her appeal for sympathy if she had trifled with him by a partial
confession. But she indignantly denied to herself that she had wished to
appeal to him for sympathy.
She wandered out on the piazza, which she found empty, and stood gazing
at the sea in a revery of passionate humiliation. She was in that mood,
familiar to us all, when we long to be consoled and even flattered for
having been silly. In a woman this mood is near to tears; at a touch of
kindness the tears come, and momentous questions are decided. What was
perhaps uppermost in the girl's heart was a detestation of the man to
whom she had seemed a simpleton; her thoughts pursued him, and divined
the contempt with which he must be thinking of her and her pretensions.
She heard steps on the sand, and Libby came round the corner of the house
from the stable.
Libby's friends had broken up their camp on the beach, and had gone to a
lake in the heart of the woods for the fishing. He had taken a room at
the Long Beach House, but he spent most of his time at Jocelyn's, where
he kept his mare for use in going upon errands for Mrs. Maynard. Grace
saw him constantly, and he was always doing little things for her with a
divination of her unexpressed desires which women find too rarely in men.
He brought her flowers, which, after refusing them for Mrs. Maynard the
first time, she accepted for herself. He sometimes brought her books,
the light sort which form the sentimental currency of young people, and
she lent them round among the other ladies, who were insatiable of them.
She took a pleasure in these attentions, as if they had been for some one
else. In this alien sense she liked to be followed up with a chair to
the point where she wished to sit; to have her hat fetched, or her shawl;
to drop her work or her handkerchief, secure that it would be picked up
It all interested her, and it was a relief from the circumstances that
would have forbidden her to recognize it as gallantry, even if her own
mind had not been so far from all thought of that. His kindness followed
often upon some application of hers for his advice or help, for she had
fallen into the habit of going to him with difficulties. He had a prompt
common sense that made him very useful in emergencies, and a sympathy or
an insight that was quick in suggestions and expedients. Perhaps she
overrated other qualities of his in her admiration of the practical
readiness which kept his amiability from seeming weak. But the practical
had so often been the unattainable with her that it was not strange she
should overrate it, and that she should rest upon it in him with a trust
that included all he chose to do in her behalf.
"What is the matter, Mr. Libby?" she asked, as he came toward her.
"Is anything the matter?" he demanded in turn.
"Yes; you are looking downcast," she cried reproachfully.
"I didn't know that I mustn't look downcast. I did n't suppose it would
be very polite, under the circumstances, to go round looking as bobbish
as I feel."
"It's the best thing you could possibly do. But you're not feeling very
bobbish now." A woman respects the word a man uses, not because she
would have chosen it, but because she thinks that he has an exact
intention in it, which could not be reconveyed in a more feminine phrase.
In this way slang arises. "Is n't it time for Mr. Maynard to be here?"
"Yes," he answered. Then, "How did you know I was thinking of that?"
"I did n't. I only happened to think it was time. What are you keeping
back, Mr. Libby?" she pursued tremulously.
"Nothing, upon my honor. I almost wish there were something to keep
back. But there is n't anything. There have n't been any accidents
reported. And I should n't keep anything back from you."
"Because you would be equal to it, whatever it was."
"I don't see why you say that." She weakly found comfort in the praise
which she might once have resented as patronage.
"I don't see why I should n't," he retorted:
"Because I am not fit to be trusted at all."
"Do you mean"--
"Oh, I haven't the strength, to mean anything," she said. "But I thank
you, thank you very much," she added. She turned her head away.
"Confound Maynard!" cried the young man. "I don't see why he does n't
come. He must have started four days ago. He ought to have' had sense
enough to telegraph when he did start. I did n't tell his partner to ask
him. You can't think of everything. I've been trying to find out
something. I'm going over to Leyden, now, to try to wake up somebody in
Cheyenne who knows Maynard." He looked ruefully at Grace, who listened
with anxious unintelligence. "You're getting worn out, Miss Breen," he
said. "I wish I could ask you to go with me to Leyden. It would do you
good. But my mare's fallen lame; I've just been to see her. Is there
anything I can do for you over there?"
"Why, how are you going?" she asked.
"In my boat," he answered consciously.
"The same boat?"
"Yes. I've had her put to rights. She was n't much damaged."
She was silent a moment, while he stood looking down at her in the chair
into which she had sunk. "Does it take you long?"
"Oh, no. It's shorter than it is by land. I shall have the tide with me
both ways. I can make the run there and back in a couple of hours."
A sudden impulse, unreasoned and unreasonable, in which there seemed hope
of some such atonement, or expiation, as the same ascetic nature would
once have found in fasting or the scourge, prevailed with her. She rose.
"Mr. Libby," she panted, "if you will let me, I should like to go with
you in your boat. Do you think it will be rough?"
"No, it's a light breeze; just right. You need n't be afraid."
"I'm not afraid. I should not care if it were rough! I should not care
if it stormed! I hope it--I will ask mother to stay with Mrs. Maynard."
Mrs. Breen had not been pleased to have her daughter in charge of Mrs.
Maynard's case, but she had not liked her giving it up. She had said
more than once that she had no faith in Dr. Mulbridge. She willingly
consented to Grace's prayer, and went down into Mrs. Maynard's room, and
insinuated misgivings in which the sick woman found so much reason that
they began for the first time to recognize each other's good qualities.
They decided that the treatment was not sufficiently active, and that she
should either have something that would be more loosening to the cough,
or some application--like mustard plasters--to her feet, so as to take
away that stuffed feeling about the head.
At that hour of the afternoon, when most of the ladies were lying down in
their rooms, Grace met no one on the beach but Miss Gleason and Mrs.
Alger, who rose from their beds of sand under the cliff at her passage
with Mr. Libby to his dory.
"Don't you want to go to Leyden?" he asked jocosely over his shoulder.
"You don't mean to say you're going?" Miss Gleason demanded of Grace.
"Yes, certainly. Why not?"
"Well, you are brave!"
She shut her novel upon her thumb, that she might have nothing to do but
admire Grace's courage, as the girl walked away.
"It will do her good, poor thing," said the elder woman. "She looks
"I can understand just why she does it," murmured Miss Gleason in adoring
"I hope she does it for pleasure," said Mrs. Alger.
"It is n't that," returned Miss Gleason mysteriously.
"At any rate, Mr. Libby seemed pleased."
"Oh, she would never marry HIM!" said Miss Gleason.
The other laughed, and at that moment Grace also laughed. The
strong current of her purpose, the sense of escape from the bitter
servitude of the past week, and the wild hope of final expiation through
the chances she was tempting gave her a buoyancy long unfelt. She
laughed in gayety of heart as she helped the young man draw his dory down
the sand, and then took her place at one end while he gave it the last
push and then leaped in at the other. He pulled out to where the boat
lay tilting at anchor, and held the dory alongside by the gunwale that
she might step aboard. But after rising she faltered, looking intently
at the boat as if she missed something there.
"I thought you had a man to sail your boat"
"I had. But I let him go last week. Perhaps I ought to have told you,"
he said, looking up at her aslant. "Are you afraid to trust my
seamanship? Adams was a mere form. He behaved like a fool that day."
"Oh, I'm not afraid," said Grace. She stepped from the dory into the
boat, and he flung out the dory's anchor and followed. The sail went up
with a pleasant clucking of the tackle, and the light wind filled it.
Libby made the sheet fast, and, sitting down in the stern on the other
side, took the tiller and headed the boat toward the town that shimmered
in the distance. The water hissed at the bow, and seethed and sparkled
from the stern; the land breeze that bent their sail blew cool upon her
cheek and freshened it with a tinge of color.
"This will do you good," he said, looking into hers with his kind, gay
The color in her cheeks deepened a little. "Oh, I am better than I look.
I did n't come for"--
"For medicinal purposes. Well, I am glad of it. We've a good hour
between us and news or no news from Maynard, and I should like to think
we were out for pleasure. You don't object?"
"No. You can even smoke, if that will heighten the illusion."
"It will make it reality. But you don't mean it?"
"Yes; why not?"
"I don't know. But I could n't have dreamt of smoking in your presence.
And we take the liberty to dream very strange things."
"Yes," she said, "it's shocking what things we do dream of people. But
am I so forbidding?" she asked, a little sadly.
"Not now," said Libby. He got out a pouch of tobacco and some cigarette
papers, and putting the tiller under his arm, he made himself a
"You seem interested," he said, as he lifted his eyes from his work, on
which he found her intent, and struck his fusee.
"I was admiring your skill," she answered.
"Do you think it was worth a voyage to South America?"
"I shouldn't have thought the voyage was necessary."
"Oh, perhaps you think you can do it," he said, handing her the tobacco
and papers. She took them and made a cigarette. "It took me a whole day
to learn to make bad ones, and this, is beautiful. But I will never
smoke it. I will keep this always."
"You had better smoke it, if you want more," she said.
"Will you make some more? I can't smoke the first one!"
"Then smoke the last," she said, offering him the things back.
"No, go on. I'll smoke it."
She lent herself to the idle humor of the time, and went on making
cigarettes till there were no more papers. From time to time she looked
up from this labor, and scanned the beautiful bay, which they had almost
wholly to themselves. They passed a collier lagging in the deep channel,
and signalling for a pilot to take her up to the town. A yacht, trim and
swift, cut across their course; the ladies on board waved a salutation
with their handkerchiefs, and Libby responded.
"Do you know them?" asked Grace.
"No!" he laughed. "But ladies like to take these liberties at a safe
"Yes, that's a specimen of woman's daring," she said, with a self-
scornful curl of the lip, which presently softened into a wistful smile.
"How lovely it all is!" she sighed.
"Yes, there's nothing better in all the world than a sail. It is all the
world while it lasts. A boat's like your own fireside for snugness."
A dreamier light came into her eye, which wandered, with a turn of the
head giving him the tender curve of her cheek, over the levels of the
bay, roughened everywhere by the breeze, but yellowish green in the
channels and dark with the thick growth of eel-grass in the shallows;
then she lifted her face to the pale blue heavens in an effort that
slanted towards him the soft round of her chin, and showed her full
"This is the kind of afternoon," she said, still looking at the sky,
"that you think will never end."
"I wish it would n't," he answered.
She lowered her eyes to his, and asked: "Do you have times when you are
sorry that you ever tried to do anything--when it seems foolish to have
"I have the other kind of times,--when I wish that I had tried to do
"Oh yes, I have those, too. It's wholesome to be ashamed of not having
tried to do anything; but to be ashamed of having tried--it's like death.
There seems no recovery from that."
He did not take advantage of her confession, or try to tempt her to
further confidence; and women like men who have this wisdom, or this
instinctive generosity, and trust them further.
"And the worst of it is that you can't go back and be like those that
have never tried at all. If you could, that would be some consolation
for having failed. There is nothing left of you but your mistake."
"Well," he said, "some people are not even mistakes. I suppose that
almost any sort of success looks a good deal like failure from the
inside. It must be a poor creature that comes up to his own mark. The
best way is not to have any mark, and then you're in no danger of not
coming up to it." He laughed, but she smiled sadly.
"You don't believe in thinking about yourself," she said.
"Oh, I try a little introspection, now and then. But I soon get through:
there isn't much of me to think about."
"No, don't talk in that way," she pleaded, and she was very charming in
her earnestness: it was there that her charm lay. "I want you to be
serious with me, and tell me--tell me how men feel when."--
A sudden splashing startled her, and looking round she saw a multitude of
curious, great-eyed, black heads, something like the heads of boys, and
something like the heads of dogs, thrusting from the water, and flashing
under it again at sight of them with a swish that sent the spray into the
air. She sprang to her feet. "Oh, look at those things! Look at them!
Look at them!" She laid vehement hands upon the young man, and pushed
him in the direction in which she wished him to look, at some risk of
pushing him overboard, while he laughed at her ecstasy.
"They're seals. The bay's full of them. Did you never see them on the
reef at Jocelyn's?"
"I never saw them before!" she cried. "How wonderful they are! Oh!" she
shouted; as one of them glanced sadly at her over its shoulder, and then
vanished with a whirl of the head. "The Beatrice Cenci attitude!"
"They 're always trying that," said Libby. "Look yonder." He pointed to
a bank of mud which the tide had not yet covered, and where a herd of
seals lay basking in the sun. They started at his voice, and wriggling
and twisting and bumping themselves over the earth to the water's edge,
they plunged in. "Their walk isn't so graceful as their swim. Would you
like one for a pet, Miss Breen? That's all they 're good for since
kerosene came in. They can't compete with that, and they're not the kind
that wear the cloaks."
She was standing with her hand pressed hard upon his shoulder.
"Did they ever kill them?"
"They used to take that precaution."
"With those eyes? It was murder! "She withdrew her hand and sat down.
"Well, they only catch them, now. I tried it myself once. I set out at
low tide, about ten o'clock, one night, and got between the water and the
biggest seal on the bank. We fought it out on that line till daylight."
"And did you get it?" she demanded, absurdly interested.
"No, it got me. The tide came in, and the seal beat."
"I am glad of that."
"What did you want with it?"
"I don't think I wanted it at all. At any rate, that's what I always
said. I shall have to ask you to sit on this side," he added, loosening
the sheet and preparing to shift the sail. "The wind has backed round a
little more to the south, and it's getting lighter."
"If it's going down we shall be late," she said, with an intimation of
"We shall be at Leyden on time. If the wind falls then, I can get a
horse at the stable and have you driven back."
He kept scanning the sky. Then, "Did you ever hear them whistle for a
wind?" he asked.
"No. What is it like?"
"When Adams does it, it's like this." He put on a furtive look, and
glanced once or twice at her askance. "Well!" he said with the
reproduction of a strong nasal, "of course I don't believe there's
anything in it. Of course it's all foolishness. Now you must urge me a
little," he added, in his own manner.
"Oh, by all means go on, Mr. Adams," she cried, with a laugh.
He rolled his head again to one side sheepishly.
"Well, I don't presume it DOES have anything to do with the wind--well, I
don't PRESUME it does." He was silent long enough to whet an imagined
expectation; then he set his face towards the sky, and began a soft, low,
coaxing sibilation between his teeth. "S-s-s-s; s-s-s-s-s-s! Well, it
don't stand to reason it can bring the wind--S-s-s-s-s-s-s; s-s-s-s.
Why, of course it 's all foolishness. S-s-s-s." He continued to emit
these sibilants, interspersing them with Adams's protests. Suddenly the
sail pulled the loose sheet taut and the boat leaped forward over the
"Wonderful!" cried the girl.
"That's what I said to Adams, or words to that effect. But I thought we
should get it from the look of the sky before I proposed to whistle for
it. Now, then," he continued, "I will be serious, if you like."
"Yes. Didn't you ask me to be serious just before those seals
"Oh!" she exclaimed, coloring a little. "I don't think we can go back to
that, now." He did not insist, and she said presently, "I thought the
sailors had a superstition about ships that are lucky and unlucky. But
you've kept your boat"
"I kept her for luck: the lightning never strikes twice in the same
place. And I never saw a boat that behaved so well."
"Do you call it behaving well to tip over?"
"She behaved well before that. She didn't tip over outside the reef"
"It certainly goes very smoothly," said the girl. She had in vain
recurred to the tragic motive of her coming; she could not revive it;
there had been nothing like expiation in this eventless voyage; it had
been a pleasure and no penance. She abandoned herself with a weak luxury
to the respite from suffering and anxiety; she made herself the good
comrade of the young man whom perhaps she even tempted to flatter her
farther and farther out of the dreariness in which she had dwelt; and if
any woful current of feeling swept beneath, she would not fathom it, but
resolutely floated, as one may at such times, on the surface. They
laughed together and jested; they talked in the gay idleness of such rare
They passed a yacht at anchor, and a young fellow in a white duck cap,
leaning over the rail, saluted Libby with the significant gravity which
one young man uses towards another whom he sees in a sail-boat with a
She laughed at this. "Do you know your friend?" she asked.
"Yes. This time I do?"
"He fancies you are taking some young lady a sail. What would he say if
you were to stop and introduce me to him as Dr. Breen?"
"Oh, he knows who you are. It's Johnson."
"The one whose clothes you came over in, that morning?"
"Yes. I suppose you laughed at me."
"I liked your having the courage to do it. But how does he know me?"
"I--I described you. He's rather an old friend." This also amused her.
"I should like to hear how you described me."
"I will tell you sometime. It was an elaborate description. I could n't
get through with it now before we landed."
The old town had come out of the haze of the distance,--a straggling
village of weather-beaten wood and weather-beaten white paint,
picturesque, but no longer a vision of gray stone and pale marble. A
coal-yard, and a brick locomotive house, and rambling railroad sheds
stretched along the water-front. They found their way easily enough
through the sparse shipping to the steps at the end of the wooden pier,
where Libby dropped the sail and made his boat fast.
A little pleasant giddiness, as if the lightness of her heart had mounted
to her head, made her glad of his arm up these steps and up the wharf;
and she kept it as they climbed the sloping elm-shaded village street to
the main thoroughfare, with its brick sidewalks, its shops and awnings,
and its cheerful stir and traffic.
The telegraph office fronted the head of the street which they had
ascended. "You can sit here in the apothecary's till I come down," he
"Do you think that will be professionally appropriate? I am only a nurse
"No, I wasn't thinking of that. But I saw a chair in there. And we can
make a pretense of wanting some soda. It is the proper thing to treat
young ladies to soda when one brings them in from the country."
"It does have that appearance," she assented, with a smile. She kept him
waiting with what would have looked like coquettish hesitation in
another, while she glanced at the windows overhead, pierced by a skein of
converging wires. "Suppose I go up with you?"
"I should like that better," he said; and she followed him lightly up the
stairs that led to the telegraph office. A young man stood at the
machine with a cigar in his mouth, and his eyes intent upon the ribbon of
paper unreeling itself before him.
"Just hold on," he said to Libby, without turning his head. "I've got
something here for you." He read: "Despatch received yesterday. Coming
right through. George Maynard."
"Good!" cried Libby.
"Dated Council Bluffs. Want it written out?"
"No. What 's to pay?" `
"Paid," said the operator.
The laconically transacted business ended with this, the wire began to
cluck again like the anxious hen whose manner the most awful and
mysterious of the elements assumes in becoming articulate, and nothing
remained for them but to come away.
"That was what I was afraid of," said Libby. "Maynard was at his ranch,
and it must have been a good way out. They're fifty or sixty miles out,
sometimes. That would account for the delay. Well, Mrs. Maynard doesn't
know how long it takes to come from Cheyenne, and we can tell her he's on
the way, and has telegraphed." They were walking rapidly down the street
to the wharf where his boat lay. "Oh!" he exclaimed, halting abruptly.
"I promised to send you back by land, if you preferred."
"Has the wind fallen?"
"Oh, no. We shall have a good breeze:"
"I won't put you to the trouble of getting a horse. I can go back
perfectly well in the boat."
"Well, that's what I think," he said cheerily.
She did not respond, and he could not be aware that any change had come
over her mood. But when they were once more seated in the boat, and the
sail was pulling in the fresh breeze, she turned to him with a scarcely
concealed indignation. "Have you a fancy for experimenting upon people,
"Experimenting? I? I don't know in the least what you mean!"
"Why did you tell me that the operator was a woman?"
"Because the other operator is," he answered.
"Oh!" she said, and fell blankly silent.
"There is a good deal of business there. They have to have two
operators," he explained, after a pause.
"Why, of course," she murmured in deep humiliation. If he had suffered
her to be silent as long as she would, she might have offered him some
reparation; but he spoke.
"Why did you think I had been experimenting on you?" he asked.
"Why?" she repeated. The sense of having put herself in the wrong
exasperated her with him. "Oh, I dare say you were curious. Don't you
suppose I have noticed that men are puzzled at me? What did you mean by
saying that you thought I would be equal to anything?"
"I meant--I thought you would like to be treated frankly."
"And you would n't treat everybody so?"
"I wouldn't treat Mrs. Maynard so."
"Oh!" she said. "You treat me upon a theory."
"Don't you like that? We treat everybody upon a theory"--
"Yes, I know"
"And I should tell you the worst of anything at once, because I think you
are one of the kind that don't like to have their conclusions made for
"And you would really let women make their own conclusions," she said.
"You are very peculiar!" She waited a while, and then she asked, "And
what is your theory of me?"
"That you are very peculiar."
"You are proud."
"And is pride so very peculiar?"
"Yes; in women."
"Indeed! You set up for a connoisseur of female character. That's very
common, nowadays. Why don't you tell me something more about Yourself?
We're always talking about me."
He might well have been doubtful of her humor. He seemed to decide that
she was jesting, for he answered lightly, "Why, you began it."
"I know I did, this time. But now I wish to stop it, too."
He looked down at the tiller in his hands. "Well," he said, "I should
like to tell you about myself. I should like to know what you think of
the kind of man I am. Will you be honest if I will?"
"That's a very strange condition," she answered, meeting and then
avoiding the gaze he lifted to her face.
"What? Being honest?"
"Well, no--Or, yes!"
"It is n't for you."
"Thank you. But I'm not under discussion now."
"Well, in the first place," he began, "I was afraid of you when we met."
"Afraid of me?"
"That is n't the word, perhaps. We'll say ashamed of myself. Mrs.
Maynard told me about you, and I thought you would despise me for not
doing or being anything in particular. I thought you must."
He hesitated, as if still uncertain of her mood from this intonation, and
then he went on: "But I had some little hope you would tolerate me, after
all. You looked like a friend I used to have.--Do you mind my telling
"Oh, no. Though I can't say that it's ever very comfortable to be told
that you look like some one else."
"I don't suppose any one else would have been struck by the resemblance,"
said Libby, with a laugh of reminiscence. "He was huge. But he had eyes
like a girl,--I beg your pardon,--like yours."
"You mean that I have eyes like a man."
He laughed, and said, "No," and then turned grave. "As long as he
"Oh, is he dead?" she asked more gently than she had yet spoken.
"Yes, he died just before I went abroad. I went out on business for my
father,--he's an importer and jobber,--and bought goods for him. Do you
"I don't know anything about it."
"I did it to please my father, and he said I was a very good buyer. He
thinks there's nothing like buying--except selling. He used to sell
things himself, over the counter, and not so long ago, either.
"I fancied it made a difference for me when I was in college, and that the
yardstick came between me and society. I was an ass for thinking
anything about it. Though I did n't really care, much. I never liked
society, and I did like boats and horses. I thought of a profession,
once. But it would n't work. I've been round the world twice, and I've
done nothing but enjoy myself since I left college,--or try to. When I
first saw you I was hesitating about letting my father make me of use.
He wants me to become one of the most respectable members of society, he
wants me to be a cotton-spinner. You know there 's nothing so
irreproachable as cotton, for a business?"
"No. I don't know about those things."
"Well, there is n't. When I was abroad, buying and selling, I made a
little discovery: I found that there were goods we could make and sell in
the European market cheaper than the English, and that gave my father the
notion of buying a mill to make them. I'm boring you!"
"Well, he bought it; and he wants me to take charge of it."
"And shall you?"
"Do you think I'm fit for it?"
"I? How should I know?"
"You don't know cotton; but you know me a little. Do I strike you as fit
for anything?" She made no reply to this, and he laughed. "I assure you
I felt small enough when I heard what you had done, and thought--what I
had done. It gave me a start; and I wrote my father that night that I
would go in for it."
"I once thought of going to a factory town," she answered, without wilful
evasion, "to begin my practice there among the operatives' children. I
should have done it if it had not been for coming here with Mrs. Maynard.
It would have been better."
"Come to my factory town, Miss Breen! There ought to be fevers there in
the autumn, with all the low lands that I'm allowed to flood Mrs. Maynard
told me about your plan."
"Pray, what else did Mrs. Maynard tell you about me?"
"About your taking up a profession, in the way you did, when you needn't,
and when you did n't particularly like it."
"Oh!" she said. Then she added, "And because I was n't obliged to it,
and did n't like it, you tolerated me?"
"Tolerated?" he echoed.
This vexed her. "Yes, tolerate! Everybody, interested or not, has to
make up his mind whether to tolerate me as soon as he hears what I am.
What excuse did you make for me?"
"I did n't make any," said Libby.
"But you had your misgiving, your surprise."
"I thought if you could stand it, other people might. I thought it was
"Just as if I had been a young man?"
"No! That wasn't possible."
She was silent. Then, "The conversation has got back into the old
quarter," she said. "You are talking about me again. Have you heard
from your friends since they went away?"
"Those you were camping with."
"What did they say when they heard that you had found a young doctress at
Jocelyn's? How did you break the fact to them? What jokes did they
make? You need n't be afraid to tell me!" she cried. "Give me Mr.
He looked at her in surprise that incensed her still more, and rendered
her incapable of regarding the pain with which he answered her. "I 'm
afraid," he said, "that I have done something to offend you."
"Oh no! What could you have done?"
"Then you really mean to ask me whether I would let any one make a joke
of you in my presence?"
"Yes; why not?"
"Because it was impossible," he answered.
"Why was it impossible?" she pursued.
"Because--I love you."
She had been looking him defiantly in the eyes, and she could not
withdraw her gaze. For the endless moment that ensued, her breath was
taken away. Then she asked in a low, steady voice, "Did you mean to say
"I believe you, and I forgive you. No, no!" she cried, at a
demonstration of protest from him, "don't speak again!"
He obeyed, instantly, implicitly. With the tiller in his hand he looked
past her and guided the boat's course. It became intolerable.
"Have I ever done anything that gave you the right to--to--say that?" she
asked, without the self-command which she might have wished to show.
"No," he said, "you were only the most beautiful"--
"I am not beautiful! And if I were"--
"It wasn't to be helped! I saw from the first how good and noble you
"This is absurd!" she exclaimed. "I am neither good nor noble; and if I
"It wouldn't make any difference. Whatever you are, you are the one
woman in the world to me; and you always will be."
"Oh, I must speak now! You were always thinking, because you had studied
a man's profession, that no one would think of you as a woman, as if that
could make any difference to a man that had the soul of a man in him!"
"No, no!" she protested. "I did n't think that. I always expected to be
considered as a woman."
"But not as a woman to fall in love with. I understood. And that
somehow made you all the dearer to me. If you had been a girl like other
girls, I should n't have cared for you."
"I did n't mean to speak to you to-day. But sometime I did mean to
speak; because, whatever I was, I loved you; and I thought you did n't
"I did like you," she murmured, "very much. And I respected you. But
you can't say that I ever gave you any hope in this--this--way." She
almost asked him if she had.
"No,--not purposely. And if you did, it 's over now. You have rejected
me. I understand that. There's no reason why you shouldn't. And I can
hold my tongue." He did not turn, but looked steadily past her at the
An emotion stirred in her breast which took the form of a reproach.
"Was it fair, then, to say this when neither of us could escape
"I did n't mean to speak," he said, without looking up, "and I never
meant to place you where you could n't escape."
It was true that she had proposed to go with him in the boat, and that
she had chosen to come back with him, when he had offered to have her
driven home from Leyden. "No, you are not to blame," she said, at last.
"I asked to some with you. Shall I tell you why ?" Her voice began to
break. In her pity for him and her shame for herself the tears started
to her eyes. She did not press her question, but, "Thank you for
reminding me that I invited myself to go with you," she said, with feeble
He looked up at her in silent wonder, and she broke into a sob. He said
gently, "I don't suppose you expect me to deny that. You don't think me
such a poor dog as that."
"Why, of course not," she answered, with quivering lips, while she
pressed her handkerchief to her eyes.
"I was only too glad to have you come. I always meant to tell you--what
I have told; but not when I should seem to trap you into listening."
"No," she murmured, "I can believe that of you. I do believe it. I take
back what I said. Don't let us speak of it any more now," she continued,
struggling for her lost composure, with what success appeared in the
fresh outburst with which she recognized his forbearance to hint at any
painfulness to himself in the situation.
"I don't mind it so much on my account, but oh! how could you for your
own sake? Do let us get home as fast as we can!"
"I am doing everything I can to release you," he said. "If you will sit
here," he added, indicating the place beside him in the stern, "you won't
have to change so much when I want to tack."
She took the other seat, and for the first time she noticed that the wind
had grown very light. She watched him with a piteous impatience while he
shifted the sail from side to side, keeping the sheet in his hand for
convenience in the frequent changes. He scanned the sky, and turned
every current of the ebbing tide to account. It was useless; the boat
crept, and presently it scarcely moved.
"The wind is down," he said, making the sheet fast, and relaxing his hold
on the tiller.
"And--And the tide is going out!" she exclaimed.
"The tide is going out," he admitted.
"If we should get caught on these flats," she began, with rising
"We should have to stay till the tide turned."
She looked wildly about for aid. If there were a row-boat anywhere
within hail, she could be taken to Jocelyn's in that. But they were
quite alone on those lifeless waters.
Libby got out a pair of heavy oars from the bottom of the boat, and,
setting the rowlocks on either side, tugged silently at them.
The futile effort suggested an idea to her which doubtless she would not
have expressed if she had not been lacking, as she once said, in a sense
"Why don't you whistle for a wind?"
He stared at her in sad astonishment to make sure that she was in
earnest, and then, "Whistle!" he echoed forlornly, and broke into a
"You knew the chances of delay that I took in asking to come with you,"
she cried, "and you should have warned me. It was ungenerous--it was
"It was whatever you like. I must be to blame. I suppose I was too glad
to have you come. If I thought anything, I thought you must have some
particular errand at Leyden. You seemed anxious to go, even if it
"If it had stormed," she retorted, "I should not have cared! I hoped it
would storm. Then at least I should have run the same danger,--I hoped
it would be dangerous."
"I don't understand what you mean," he said.
"I forced that wretched creature to go with you that day when you said it
was going to be rough; and I shall have her blood upon my hands if she
"Is it possible," cried Libby, pulling in his useless oars, and leaning
forward upon them, "that she has gone on letting you think I believed
there was going to be a storm? She knew perfectly well that I didn't
mind what Adams said; he was always croaking." She sat looking at him in
a daze, but she could not speak, and he continued. "I see: it happened
by one chance in a million to turn out as he said; and she has been
making you pay for it. Why, I suppose," he added, with a melancholy
smile of intelligence, "she's had so much satisfaction in holding you
responsible for what's happened, that she's almost glad of it!"
"She has tortured me!" cried the girl. "But you--you, when you saw that
I did n't believe there was going to be any storm, why did you--why
"I did n't believe it either! It was Mrs. Maynard that proposed the
sail, but when I saw that you did n't like it I was glad of any excuse
for putting it off. I could n't help wanting to please you, and I
couldn't see why you urged us afterwards; but I supposed you had some
She passed her hand over her forehead, as if to clear away the confusion
in which all this involved her. "But why--why did you let me go on
thinking myself to blame"--
"How could I know what you were thinking? Heaven knows I didn't dream of
such a thing! Though I remember, now, your saying"--
"Oh, I see!" she cried. "You are a man! But I can't forgive it,--no, I
can't forgive it! You wished to deceive her if you did n't wish to
deceive me. How can you excuse yourself for repeating what you did n't
"I was willing she should think Adams was right."
"And that was deceit. What can you say to it?"
"There is only one thing I could say," he murmured, looking hopelessly
into her eyes, "and that's of no use."
She turned her head away. Her tragedy had fallen to nothing; or rather
it had never been. All her remorse, all her suffering, was mere farce
now; but his guilt in the matter was the greater. A fierce resentment
burned in her heart; she longed to make him feel something of the anguish
she had needlessly undergone.
He sat watching her averted face. "Miss Breen," he said huskily, "will
you let me speak to you?"
"Oh, you have me in your power," she answered cruelly. "Say what you
He did not speak, nor make any motion to do so.
A foolish, idle curiosity to know what, after all that had happened, he
could possibly have to say, stirred within her, but she disdainfully
stifled it. They were both so still that a company of seals found it
safe to put their heads above water, and approach near enough to examine
her with their round soft eyes. She turned from the silly things in
contempt that they should even have interested her. She felt that from
time to time her companion lifted an anxious glance to the dull heavens.
At last the limp sail faintly stirred; it flapped; it filled shallowly;
the boat moved. The sail seemed to have had a prescience of the wind
before it passed over the smooth water like a shadow.
When a woman says she never will forgive a man, she always has a
condition of forgiveness in her heart. Now that the wind had risen
again, "I have no right to forbid you to speak," she said, as if no
silence had elapsed, and she turned round and quietly confronted him; she
no longer felt so impatient to escape.
He did not meet her eye at once, and he seemed in no haste to avail
himself of the leave granted him. A heavy sadness blotted the gayety of
a face whose sunny sympathy had been her only cheer for many days. She
fancied a bewilderment in its hopelessness which smote her with still
sharper pathos. "Of course," she said, "I appreciate your wish to do
what I wanted, about Mrs. Maynard. I remember my telling you that she
ought n't to go out, that day. But that was not the way to do it"--
"There was no other," he said.
"No," she assented, upon reflection. "Then it ought n't to have been
He showed no sign of intending to continue, and after a moment of
restlessness, she began again.
"If I have been rude or hasty in refusing to hear you, Mr. Libby, I am
very wrong. I must hear anything you have to say."
"Oh, not unless you wish."
"I wish whatever you wish."
"I'm not sure that I wish that now. I have thought it over; I should
only distress you for nothing. You are letting me say why sentence
shouldn't be passed upon me. Sentence is going to be passed any way.
I should only repeat what I have said. You would pity me, but you
couldn't help me. And that would give you pain for nothing. No, it
would be useless."
"It would be useless to talk to me about--loving." She took the word on
her lips with a certain effect of adopting it for convenience' sake in
her vocabulary. "All that was ended for me long ago,--ten years ago.
And my whole life since then has been shaped to do without it. I will
tell you my story if you like. Perhaps it's your due. I wish to be
just. You may have a right to know."
"No, I haven't. But.--perhaps I ought to say that Mrs. Maynard told me
"Well, I am glad of that, though she had no right to do it. Then you can
"Oh, yes, I can understand. I don't pretend that I had any reason in it."
He forbore again to urge any plea for himself, and once more she was
obliged to interfere in his behalf. "Mr. Libby, I have never confessed
that I once wronged you in a way that I'm very sorry for."
"About Mrs. Maynard? Yes, I know. I won't try to whitewash myself; but
it didn't occur to me how it would look. I wanted to talk with her about
"You ought to have considered her, though," she said gently.
"She ought to have considered herself," he retorted, with his unfailing
bitterness for Mrs. Maynard. "But it doesn't matter whose fault it was.
I'm sufficiently punished; for I know that it injured me with you."
"It did at first. But now I can see that I was wrong. I wished to tell
you that. It isn't creditable to me that I thought you intended to flirt
with her. If I had been better myself"--
"You!" He could not say more.
That utter faith in her was very charming. It softened her more and
more; it made her wish to reason with him, and try gently to show him how
impossible his hope was. "And you know," she said, recurring to
something that had gone before, "that even if I had cared for you in the
way you wish, it could n't be. You would n't want to have people
laughing and saying I had been a doctress."
"I shouldn't have minded. I know how much people's talk is worth."
"Yes," she said, "I know you would be generous and brave about that--
about anything. But what--what if I could n't give up my career--my
hopes of being useful in the way I have planned? You would n't have
liked me to go on practising medicine?"
"I thought of that," he answered simply. "I didn't see how it could be
done. But if you saw any way, I was willing--No, that was my great
trouble! I knew that it was selfish in me, and very conceited, to
suppose you would give up your whole life for me; and whenever I thought
of that, I determined not to ask you. But I tried not to think of that."
"Well, don't you see? But if I could have answered you as you wish, it
wouldn't have been anything to give up everything for you. A woman isn't
something else first, and a woman afterwards. I understand how
unselfishly you meant, and indeed, indeed, I thank you. But don't let's
talk of it any more. It couldn't have been, and there is nothing but
misery in thinking of it. "Come," she said, with a struggle for
cheerfulness, "let us forget it. Let it be just as if you hadn't spoken
to me; I know you did n't intend to do it; and let us go on as if nothing
"Oh, we can't go on," he answered. "I shall get away, as soon as Maynard
comes, and rid you of the sight of me."
"Are you going away?" she softly asked. "Why need you? I know that
people always seem to think they can't be friends after--such a thing as
this. But why shouldn't we? I respect you, and I like you very much.
You have shown me more regard and more kindness than any other friend"--
"But I wasn't your friend," he interrupted. "I loved you."
"Well," she sighed, in gentle perplexity, "then you can't be my friend?"
Never. But I shall always love you. If it would do any good, I would
stay, as you ask it. I should n't mind myself. But I should be a
nuisance to you."
"No, no!" she exclaimed. "I will take the risk of that. I need your