Part 54 out of 78
"No, indeed! You couldn't have done differently under the circumstances.
You may be sure he felt that--he is so unselfish and generous--" Agatha
began to weep into her handkerchief again; Mrs. March caressed her hand.
"And it will certainly come right if you feel as you do."
"No," the girl protested. "He can never forgive me; it's all over,
everything is over. It would make very little difference to me, what
happened now--if the steamer broke her shaft, or anything. But if I can
only believe I wasn't unjust--"
Mrs. March assured her once more that she had behaved with absolute
impartiality; and she proved to her by a process of reasoning quite
irrefragable that it was only a question of time, with which place had
nothing to do, when she and Burnamy should come together again, and all
should be made right between them. The fact that she did not know where
he was, any more than Mrs. March herself, had nothing to do with the
result; that was a mere detail, which would settle itself. She clinched
her argument by confessing that her own engagement had been broken off,
and that it had simply renewed itself. All you had to do was to keep
willing it, and waiting. There was something very mysterious in it.
"And how long was it till--" Agatha faltered.
"Well, in our ease it was two years."
"Oh!" said the girl, but Mrs. March hastened to reassure her.
"But our case was very peculiar. I could see afterwards that it needn't
have been two months, if I had been willing to acknowledge at once that I
was in the wrong. I waited till we met."
"If I felt that I was in the wrong, I should write," said Agatha.
"I shouldn't care what he thought of my doing it."
"Yes, the great thing is to make sure that you were wrong."
They remained talking so long, that March and the general had exhausted
all the topics of common interest, and had even gone through those they
did not care for. At last the general said, "I'm afraid my daughter will
tire Mrs. March."
"Oh, I don't think she'll tire my wife. But do you want her?"
"Well, when you're going down."
"I think I'll take a turn about the deck, and start my circulation," said
March, and he did so before he went below.
He found his wife up and dressed, and waiting provisionally on the sofa.
"I thought I might as well go to lunch," she said, and then she told him
about Agatha and Burnamy, and the means she had employed to comfort and
encourage the girl. "And now, dearest, I want you to find out where
Burnamy is, and give him a hint. You will, won't you! If you could have
seen how unhappy she was!"
"I don't think I should have cared, and I'm certainly not going to
meddle. I think Burnamy has got no more than he deserved, and that he's
well rid of her. I can't imagine a broken engagement that would more
completely meet my approval. As the case stands, they have my blessing."
"Don't say that, dearest! You know you don't mean it."
"I do; and I advise you to keep your hands off. You've done all and more
than you ought to propitiate Miss Triscoe. You've offered yourself up,
and you've offered me up--"
"No, no, Basil! I merely used you as an illustration of what men were--
the best of them."
"And I can't observe," he continued, "that any one else has been
considered in the matter. Is Miss Triscoe the sole sufferer by Burnamy's
flirtation? What is the matter with a little compassion for the pivotal
"Now, you know you're not serious," said his wife; and though he would
not admit this, he could not be seriously sorry for the new interest
which she took in the affair. There was no longer any question of
changing their state-room. Under the tonic influence of the excitement
she did not go back to her berth after lunch, and she was up later after
dinner than he could have advised. She was absorbed in Agatha, but in
her liberation from her hypochondria, she began also to make a
comparative study of the American swells, in the light of her late
experience with the German highhotes. It is true that none of the swells
gave her the opportunity of examining them at close range, as the
highhotes had done. They kept to their, state-rooms mostly, where, after
he thought she could bear it, March told her how near he had come to
making her their equal by an outlay of six hundred dollars. She now
shuddered at the thought; but she contended that in their magnificent
exclusiveness they could give points to European princes; and that this
showed again how when Americans did try to do a thing, they beat the
world. Agatha Triscoe knew who they were, but she did not know them;
they belonged to another kind of set; she spoke of them as "rich people,"
and she seemed content to keep away from them with Mrs. March and with
the shy, silent old wife of Major Eltwin, to whom March sometimes found
He never found her father talking with Major Eltwin. General Triscoe had
his own friends in the smoking-room, where he held forth in a certain
corner on the chances of the approaching election in New York, and mocked
their incredulity when he prophesied the success of Tammany and the
return of the King. March himself much preferred Major Eltwin to the
general and his friends; he lived back in the talk of the Ohioan into his
own younger years in Indiana, and he was amused and touched to find how
much the mid-Western life seemed still the same as he had known. The
conditions had changed, but not so much as they had changed in the East
and the farther West. The picture that the major drew of them in his own
region was alluring; it made March homesick; though he knew that he
should never go back to his native section. There was the comfort of
kind in the major; and he had a vein of philosophy, spare but sweet,
which March liked; he liked also the meekness which had come through
sorrow upon a spirit which had once been proud.
They had both the elderly man's habit of early rising, and they usually
found themselves together waiting impatiently for the cup of coffee,
ingenuously bad, which they served on the Cupania not earlier than half
past six, in strict observance of a rule of the line discouraging to
people of their habits. March admired the vileness of the decoction,
which he said could not be got anywhere out of the British Empire, and he
asked Eltwin the first morning if he had noticed how instantly on the
Channel boat they had dropped to it and to the sour, heavy, sodden
British bread, from the spirited and airy Continental tradition of coffee
The major confessed that he was no great hand to notice such things, and
he said he supposed that if the line had never lost a passenger, and got
you to New York in six days it had a right to feed you as it pleased; he
surmised that if they could get their airing outside before they took
their coffee, it would give the coffee a chance to taste better; and this
was what they afterwards did. They met, well buttoned and well mined up,
on the promenade when it was yet so early that they were not at once sure
of each other in the twilight, and watched the morning planets pale east
and west before the sun rose. Sometimes there were no paling planets and
no rising sun, and a black sea, ridged with white, tossed under a low
dark sky with dim rifts.
One morning, they saw the sun rise with a serenity and majesty which it
rarely has outside of the theatre. The dawn began over that sea which
was like the rumpled canvas imitations of the sea on the stage, under
long mauve clouds bathed in solemn light. Above these, in the pale
tender sky, two silver stars hung, and the steamer's smoke drifted across
them like a thin dusky veil. To the right a bank of dun cloud began to
burn crimson, and to burn brighter till it was like a low hill-side full
of gorgeous rugosities fleeced with a dense dwarfish growth of autumnal
shrubs. The whole eastern heaven softened and flushed through diaphanous
mists; the west remained a livid mystery. The eastern masses and flakes
of cloud began to kindle keenly; but the stars shone clearly, and then
one star, till the tawny pink hid it. All the zenith reddened, but still
the sun did not show except in the color of the brilliant clouds. At
last the lurid horizon began to burn like a flame-shot smoke, and a
fiercely bright disc edge pierced its level, and swiftly defined itself
as the sun's orb.
Many thoughts went through March's mind; some of them were sad, but in
some there was a touch of hopefulness. It might have been that beauty
which consoled him for his years; somehow he felt himself, if no longer
young, a part of the young immortal frame of things. His state was
indefinable, but he longed to hint at it to his companion.
"Yes," said Eltwin, with a long deep sigh. "I feel as if I could walk
out through that brightness and find her. I reckon that such hopes
wouldn't be allowed to lie to us; that so many ages of men couldn't have
fooled themselves so. I'm glad I've seen this." He was silent and they
both remained watching the rising sun till they could not bear its
splendor. "Now," said the major, "it must be time for that mud, as you
call it." Over their coffee and crackers at the end of the table which
they had to themselves, he resumed. "I was thinking all the time--
we seem to think half a dozen things at once, and this was one of them--
about a piece of business I've got to settle when I reach home; and
perhaps you can advise me about it; you're an editor. I've got a
newspaper on my hands; I reckon it would be a pretty good thing, if it
had a chance; but I don't know what to do with it: I got it in trade with
a fellow who has to go West for his lungs, but he's staying till I get
back. What's become of that young chap--what's his name?--that went out
"Burnamy?" prompted March, rather breathlessly.
"Yes. Couldn't he take hold of it? I rather liked him. He's smart,
"Very," said March. "But I don't know where he is. I don't know that he
would go into the country--. But he might, if--"
They entered provisionally into the case, and for argument's sake
supposed that Burnamy would take hold of the major's paper if he could be
got at. It really looked to March like a good chance for him, on
Eltwin's showing; but he was not confident of Burnamy's turning up very
soon, and he gave the major a pretty clear notion why, by entering into
the young fellow's history for the last three months.
"Isn't it the very irony of fate?" he said to his wife when he found her
in their room with a cup of the same mud he had been drinking, and
reported the facts to her.
"Irony?" she said, with all the excitement he could have imagined or
desired. "Nothing of the kind. It's a leading, if ever there was one.
It will be the easiest thing in the world to find Burnamy. And out there
she can sit on her steps!"
He slowly groped his way to her meaning, through the hypothesis of
Burnamy's reconciliation and marriage with Agatha Triscoe, and their
settlement in Major Eltwin's town under social conditions that implied a
habit of spending the summer evenings on their front porch. While he was
doing this she showered him with questions and conjectures and
requisitions in which nothing but the impossibility of going ashore saved
him from the instant devotion of all his energies to a world-wide,
inquiry into Burnamy's whereabouts.
The next morning he was up before Major Eltwin got out, and found the
second-cabin passengers free of the first-cabin promenade at an hour when
their superiors were not using it. As he watched these inferiors,
decent-looking, well-clad men and women, enjoying their privilege with a
furtive air, and with stolen glances at him, he asked himself in what
sort he was their superior, till the inquiry grew painful. Then he rose
from his chair, and made his way to the place where the material barrier
between them was lifted, and interested himself in a few of them who
seemed too proud to avail themselves of his society on the terms made.
A figure seized his attention with a sudden fascination of conjecture and
rejection: the figure of a tall young man who came out on the promenade
and without looking round, walked swiftly away to the bow of the ship,
and stood there, looking down at the water in an attitude which was
bewilderingly familiar. His movement, his posture, his dress, even, was
that of Burnamy, and March, after a first flush of pleasure, felt a
sickening repulsion in the notion of his presence. It would have been
such a cheap performance on the part of life, which has all sorts of
chances at command, and need not descend to the poor tricks of second-
rate fiction; and he accused Burnamy of a complicity in the bad taste of
the affair, though he realized, when he reflected, that if it were really
Burnamy he must have sailed in as much unconsciousness of the Triscoes as
he himself had done. He had probably got out of money and had hurried
home while he had still enough to pay the second-cabin fare on the first
boat back. Clearly he was not to blame, but life was to blame for such a
shabby device; and March felt this so keenly that he wished to turn from
the situation, and have nothing to do with it. He kept moving toward
him, drawn by the fatal attraction, and at a few paces' distance the
young man whirled about and showed him the face of a stranger.
March made some witless remark on the rapid course of the ship as it cut
its way through the water of the bow; the stranger answered with a strong
Lancashire accent; and in the talk which followed, he said he was going
out to see the cotton-mills at Fall River and New Bedford, and he seemed
hopeful of some advice or information from March; then he said he must go
and try to get his Missus out; March understood him to mean his wife, and
he hurried down to his own, to whom he related his hair-breadth escape
"I don't call it an escape at all!" she declared. "I call it the
greatest possible misfortune. If it had been Burnamy we could have
brought them together at once, just when she has seen so clearly that she
was in the wrong, and is feeling all broken up. There wouldn't have been
any difficulty about his being in the second-cabin. We could have
contrived to have them meet somehow. If the worst came to the worst you
could have lent him money to pay the difference, and got him into the
"I could have taken that six-hundred-dollar room for him," said March,
"and then he could have eaten with the swells."
She answered that now he was teasing; that he was fundamentally incapable
of taking anything seriously; and in the end he retired before the
stewardess bringing her first coffee, with a well-merited feeling that if
it had not been for his triviality the young Lancashireman would really
have been Burnamy.
Except for the first day and night out from Queenstown, when the ship
rolled and pitched with straining and squeaking noises, and a thumping of
the lifted screws, there was no rough weather, and at last the ocean was
livid and oily, with a long swell, on which she swayed with no
perceptible motion save from her machinery.
Most of the seamanship seemed to be done after dark, or in those early
hours when March found the stewards cleaning the stairs, and the sailors
scouring the promenades. He made little acquaintance with his fellow-
passengers. One morning he almost spoke with an old Quaker lady whom he
joined in looking at the Niagara flood which poured from the churning
screws; but he did not quite get the words out. On the contrary he
talked freely with an American who, bred horses on a farm near Boulogne,
and was going home to the Horse Show; he had been thirty-five years out
of the country, but he had preserved his Yankee accent in all its purity,
and was the most typical-looking American on board. Now and then March
walked up and down with a blond Mexican whom he found of the usual well-
ordered Latin intelligence, but rather flavorless; at times he sat beside
a nice Jew, who talked agreeably, but only about business; and he
philosophized the race as so tiresome often because it seemed so often
without philosophy. He made desperate attempts at times to interest
himself in the pool-selling in the smoking-room where the betting on the
ship's wonderful run was continual.
He thought that people talked less and less as they drew nearer home; but
on the last day out there was a sudden expansion, and some whom he had
not spoken with voluntarily addressed him. The sweet, soft air was like
midsummer the water rippled gently, without a swell, blue under the clear
sky, and the ship left a wide track that was silver in the sun. There
were more sail; the first and second class baggage was got up and piled
along the steerage deck.
Some people dressed a little more than usual for the last dinner which
was earlier than usual, so as to be out of the way against the arrival
which had been variously predicted at from five to seven-thirty. An
indescribable nervousness culminated with the appearance of the customs
officers on board, who spread their papers on cleared spaces of the
dining-tables, and summoned the passengers to declare that they had
nothing to declare, as a preliminary to being searched like thieves at
This ceremony proceeded while the Cupania made her way up the Narrows,
and into the North River, where the flare of lights from the crazy steeps
and cliffs of architecture on the New York shore seemed a persistence of
the last Fourth of July pyrotechnics. March blushed for the grotesque
splendor of the spectacle, and was confounded to find some Englishmen
admiring it, till he remembered that aesthetics were not the strong point
of our race. His wife sat hand in hand with Miss Triscoe, and from time
to time made him count the pieces of small baggage in the keeping of
their steward; while General Triscoe held aloof in a sarcastic calm.
The steamer groped into her dock; the gangways were lifted to her side;
the passengers fumbled and stumbled down their incline, and at the bottom
the Marches found themselves respectively in the arms of their son and
daughter. They all began talking at once, and ignoring and trying to
remember the Triscoes to whom the young Marches were presented. Bella
did her best to be polite to Agatha, and Tom offered to get an inspector
for the general at the same time as for his father. Then March,
remorsefully remembered the Eltwins, and looked about for them, so that
his son might get them an inspector too. He found the major already in
the hands of an inspector, who was passing all his pieces after
carelessly looking into one: the official who received the declarations
on board had noted a Grand Army button like his own in the major's lapel,
and had marked his fellow-veteran's paper with the mystic sign which
procures for the bearer the honor of being promptly treated as a
smuggler, while the less favored have to wait longer for this indignity
at the hands of their government. When March's own inspector came he was
as civil and lenient as our hateful law allows; when he had finished
March tried to put a bank-note in his hand, and was brought to a just
shame by his refusal of it. The bed-room steward keeping guard over the
baggage helped put-it together after the search, and protested that March
had feed him so handsomely that he would stay there with it as long as
they wished. This partly restored March's self-respect, and he could
share in General Triscoe's indignation with the Treasury ruling which
obliged him to pay duty on his own purchases in excess of the hundred-
dollar limit, though his daughter had brought nothing, and they jointly
came far within the limit for two.
He found that the Triscoes were going to a quiet old hotel on the way to
Stuyvesant Square, quite in his own neighborhood, and he quickly arranged
for all the ladies and the general to drive together while he was to
follow with his son on foot and by car. They got away from the scene of
the customs' havoc while the steamer shed, with its vast darkness dimly
lit by its many lamps, still showed like a battle-field where the
inspectors groped among the scattered baggage like details from the
victorious army searching for the wounded. His son clapped him on the
shoulder when he suggested this notion, and said he was the same old
father; and they got home as gayly together as the dispiriting influences
of the New York ugliness would permit. It was still in those good and
decent times, now so remote, when the city got something for the money
paid out to keep its streets clean, and those they passed through were
not foul but merely mean.
The ignoble effect culminated when they came into Broadway, and found its
sidewalks, at an hour when those of any European metropolis would have
been brilliant with life, as unpeopled as those of a minor country town,
while long processions of cable-cars carted heaps of men and women up and
down the thoroughfare amidst the deformities of the architecture.
The next morning the March family breakfasted late after an evening
prolonged beyond midnight in spite of half-hourly agreements that now
they must really all go to bed. The children had both to recognize again
and again how well their parents were looking; Tom had to tell his father
about the condition of 'Every Other Week'; Bella had to explain to her
mother how sorry her husband was that he could not come on to meet them
with her, but was coming a week later to take her home, and then she
would know the reason why they could not all, go back to Chicago with
him: it was just the place for her father to live, for everybody to live.
At breakfast she renewed the reasoning with which she had maintained her
position the night before; the travellers entered into a full expression
of their joy at being home again; March asked what had become of that
stray parrot which they had left in the tree-top the morning they
started; and Mrs. March declared that this was the last Silver Wedding
Journey she ever wished to take, and tried to convince them all that she
had been on the verge of nervous collapse when she reached the ship.
They sat at table till she discovered that it was very nearly eleven
o'clock, and said it was disgraceful.
Before they rose, there was a ring at the door, and a card was brought in
to Tom. He glanced at it, and said to his father, "Oh, yes! This man
has been haunting the office for the last three days. He's got to leave
to-day, and as it seemed to be rather a case of life and death with him,
I said he'd probably find you here this morning. But if you don't want
to see him, I can put him off till afternoon, I suppose."
He tossed the card to his father, who looked at it quietly, and then gave
it to his wife. "Perhaps I'd as well see him?"
"See him!" she returned in accents in which all the intensity of her soul
was centred. By an effort of self-control which no words can convey a
just sense of she remained with her children, while her husband with a
laugh more teasing than can be imagined went into the drawing-room to
The poor fellow was in an effect of belated summer as to clothes, and he
looked not merely haggard but shabby. He made an effort for dignity as
well as gayety, however, in stating himself to March, with many apologies
for his persistency. But, he said, he was on his way West, and he was
anxious to know whether there was any chance of his 'Kasper Hauler' paper
being taken if he finished it up. March would have been a far harder-
hearted editor than he was, if he could have discouraged the suppliant
before him. He said he would take the Kasper Hauler paper and add a band
of music to the usual rate of ten dollars a thousand words. Then
Burnamy's dignity gave way, if not his gayety; he began to laugh, and
suddenly he broke down and confessed that he had come home in the
steerage; and was at his last cent, beyond his fare to Chicago. His
straw hat looked like a withered leaf in the light of his sad facts; his
thin overcoat affected March's imagination as something like the
diaphanous cast shell of a locust, hopelessly resumed for comfort at the
approach of autumn. He made Burnamy sit down, after he had once risen,
and he told him of Major Eltwin's wish to see him; and he promised to go
round with him to the major's hotel before the Eltwins left town that
While he prolonged the interview in this way, Mrs. March was kept from
breaking in upon them only by the psychical experiment which she was
making with the help and sympathy of her daughter at the window of the
dining-room which looked up Sixteenth Street. At the first hint she gave
of the emotional situation which Burnamy was a main part of, her son;
with the brutal contempt of young men for other young men's love affairs,
said he must go to the office; he bade his mother tell his father there
was no need of his coming down that day, and he left the two women
together. This gave the mother a chance to develop the whole fact to the
daughter with telegrammic rapidity and brevity, and then to enrich the
first-outline with innumerable details, while they both remained at the
window, and Mrs. March said at two-minutely intervals, with no sense of
iteration for either of them, "I told her to come in the morning, if she
felt like it, and I know she will. But if she doesn't, I shall say there
is nothing in fate, or Providence either. At any rate I'm going to stay
here and keep longing for her, and we'll see whether there's anything in
that silly theory of your father's. I don't believe there is," she said,
to be on the safe side.
Even when she saw Agatha Triscoe enter the park gate on Rutherford Place,
she saved herself from disappointment by declaring that she was not
coming across to their house. As the girl persisted in coming and
coming, and at last came so near that she caught sight of Mrs. March at
the window and nodded, the mother turned ungratefully upon her daughter,
and drove her away to her own room, so that no society detail should
hinder the divine chance. She went to the door herself when Agatha rang,
and then she was going to open the way into the parlor where March was
still closeted with Burnamy, and pretend that she had not known they were
there. But a soberer second thought than this prevailed, and she told
the girl who it was that was within and explained the accident of his
presence. "I think," she said nobly, "that you ought to have the chance
of going away if you don't wish to meet him."
The girl, with that heroic precipitation which Mrs. March had noted in
her from the first with regard to what she wanted to do, when Burnamy was
in question, answered, "But I do wish to meet him, Mrs. March."
While they stood looking at each other, March came out to ask his wife if
she would see Burnamy, and she permitted herself so much stratagem as to
substitute Agatha, after catching her husband aside and subduing his
proposed greeting of the girl to a hasty handshake.
Half an hour later she thought it time to join the young people, urged
largely by the frantic interest of her daughter. But she returned from
the half-open door without entering. "I couldn't bring myself to break
in on the poor things. They are standing at the window together looking
over at St. George's."
Bella silently clasped her hands. March gave cynical laugh, and said,
"Well we are in for it, my dear." Then he added, "I hope they'll take us
with them on their Silver Wedding Journey."
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Declare that they had nothing to declare
Despair which any perfection inspires
Disingenuous, hypocritical passion of love
Fundamentally incapable of taking anything seriously
Held aloof in a sarcastic calm
Illusions: no marriage can be perfect without them
Married life: we expect too much of each other
Not do to be perfectly frank with one's own country
Offence which any difference of taste was apt to give him
Passionate desire for excess in a bad thing
Puddles of the paths were drying up with the haste
Race seemed so often without philosophy
Self-sacrifice which could be had, as it were, at a bargain
She always came to his defence when he accused himself
ETEXT EDITORS BOOKMARKS FOR THE ENTIRE TRILOGY:
Affected absence of mind
All the loveliness that exists outside of you, dearest is little
All luckiest or the unluckiest, the healthiest or the sickest
Americans are hungrier for royalty than anybody else
Amusing world, if you do not refuse to be amused
Any sort of stuff was good enough to make a preacher out of
Appearance made him doubt their ability to pay so much
Artists never do anything like other people
As much of his story as he meant to tell without prompting
At heart every man is a smuggler
Bad wars, or what are comically called good wars
Ballast of her instinctive despondency
Be good, sweet man, and let who will be clever
Beautiful with the radiance of loving and being loved
Bewildering labyrinth of error
Biggest place is always the kindest as well as the cruelest
Brag of his wife, as a good husband always does
But when we make that money here, no one loses it
Buttoned about him as if it concealed a bad conscience
Calm of those who have logic on their side
Civilly protested and consented
Clinging persistence of such natures
Coldly and inaccessibly vigilant
Collective silence which passes for sociality
Comfort of the critical attitude
Conscience weakens to the need that isn't
Considerable comfort in holding him accountable
Courage hadn't been put to the test
Deadly summer day
Death is peace and pardon
Death is an exile that no remorse and no love can reach
Decided not to let the facts betray themselves by chance
Declare that they had nothing to declare
Despair which any perfection inspires
Did not idealize him, but in the highest effect she realized him
Dinner unites the idea of pleasure and duty
Disingenuous, hypocritical passion of love
Dividend: It's a chicken before it's hatched
Does any one deserve happiness
Does anything from without change us?
Dog that had plainly made up his mind to go mad
Effort to get on common ground with an inferior
Europe, where society has them, as it were, in a translation
Evil which will not let a man forgive his victim
Explained perhaps too fully
Extract what consolation lurks in the irreparable
Family buryin' grounds
Favorite stock of his go up and go down under the betting
Feeblest-minded are sure to lead the talk
Feeling rather ashamed,--for he had laughed too
Feeling of contempt for his unambitious destination
Flavors not very sharply distinguished from one another
Fundamentally incapable of taking anything seriously
Futility of travel
Gayety, which lasted beyond any apparent reason for it
Glad; which considering, they ceased to be
Got their laugh out of too many things in life
Guilty rapture of a deliberate dereliction
Had learned not to censure the irretrievable
Had no opinions that he was not ready to hold in abeyance
Happiness is so unreasonable
Happiness built upon and hedged about with misery
He expected to do the wrong thing when left to his own devices
He buys my poverty and not my will
Headache darkens the universe while it lasts
Heart that forgives but does not forget
Held aloof in a sarcastic calm
Helplessness begets a sense of irresponsibility
Helplessness accounts for many heroic facts in the world
Hemmed round with this eternal darkness of death
Homage which those who have not pay to those who have
How much can a man honestly earn without wronging or oppressing
Humanity may at last prevail over nationality
Hurry up and git well--or something
I cannot endure this--this hopefulness of yours
I want to be sorry upon the easiest possible terms
I supposed I had the pleasure of my wife's acquaintance
I'm not afraid--I'm awfully demoralized
If you dread harm enough it is less likely to happen
Ignorant of her ignorance
Illusions: no marriage can be perfect without them
Impertinent prophecies of their enjoying it so much
Indulge safely in the pleasures of autobiography
Intrepid fancy that they had confronted fate
It had come as all such calamities come, from nothing
It must be your despair that helps you to bear up
It don't do any good to look at its drawbacks all the time
It 's the same as a promise, your not saying you wouldn't
Jesting mood in the face of all embarrassments
Justice must be paid for at every step in fees and costs
Less intrusive than if he had not been there
Less certain of everything that I used to be sure of
Life was like the life at a sea-side hotel, but more monotonous
Life of the ship, like the life of the sea: a sodden monotony
Life has taught him to truckle and trick
Long life of holidays which is happy marriage
Love of justice hurry them into sympathy with violence
Made money and do not yet know that money has made them
Madness of sight-seeing, which spoils travel
Man's willingness to abide in the present
Married life: we expect too much of each other
Married the whole mystifying world of womankind
Married for no other purpose than to avoid being an old maid
Marry for love two or three times
Monologue to which the wives of absent-minded men resign
Muddy draught which impudently affected to be coffee
Nervous woes of comfortable people
Never could have an emotion without desiring to analyze it
Night so bad that it was worse than no night at all
No man deserves to sufer at the hands of another
No longer the gross appetite for novelty
No right to burden our friends with our decisions
Not do to be perfectly frank with one's own country
Nothing so apt to end in mutual dislike,--except gratitude
Nothing so sad to her as a bride, unless it's a young mother
Novelists, who really have the charge of people's thinking
Oblivion of sleep
Offence which any difference of taste was apt to give him
Only so much clothing as the law compelled
Only one of them was to be desperate at a time
Our age caricatures our youth
Passionate desire for excess in a bad thing
Patience with mediocrity putting on the style of genius
Patronizing spirit of travellers in a foreign country
People that have convictions are difficult
Person talks about taking lessons, as if they could learn it
Poverty as hopeless as any in the world
Prices fixed by his remorse
Puddles of the paths were drying up with the haste
Race seemed so often without philosophy
Recipes for dishes and diseases
Reckless and culpable optimism
Reconciliation with death which nature brings to life at last
Rejoice in everything that I haven't done
Rejoice as much at a non-marriage as a marriage
Repeated the nothings they had said already
Respect for your mind, but she don't think you've got any sense
Say when he is gone that the woman gets along better without him
Seemed the last phase of a world presently to be destroyed
Seeming interested in points necessarily indifferent to him
Self-sufficiency, without its vulgarity
Self-sacrifice which could be had, as it were, at a bargain
Servant of those he loved
She always came to his defence when he accused himself
She cares for him: that she was so cold shows that
She could bear his sympathy, but not its expression
Shouldn't ca' fo' the disgrace of bein' poo'--its inconvenience
Sigh with which ladies recognize one another's martyrdom
So hard to give up doing anything we have meant to do
So old a world and groping still
Society: All its favors are really bargains
Sorry he hadn't asked more; that's human nature
Suffering under the drip-drip of his innocent egotism
Superstition that having and shining is the chief good
Superstition of the romances that love is once for all
That isn't very old--or not so old as it used to be
The knowledge of your helplessness in any circumstances
There is little proportion about either pain or pleasure
They were so near in age, though they were ten years apart
They can only do harm by an expression of sympathy
Timidity of the elder in the presence of the younger man
To do whatever one likes is finally to do nothing that one likes
Took the world as she found it, and made the best of it
Tragical character of heat
Travel, with all its annoyances and fatigues
Tried to be homesick for them, but failed
Turn to their children's opinion with deference
Typical anything else, is pretty difficult to find
Unfounded hope that sooner or later the weather would be fine
Used to having his decisions reached without his knowledge
Vexed by a sense of his own pitifulness
Voice of the common imbecility and incoherence
Voting-cattle whom they bought and sold
Wages are the measure of necessity and not of merit
We get too much into the hands of other people
We don't seem so much our own property
Weariness of buying
What we can be if we must
When you look it--live it
Willingness to find poetry in things around them
Wish we didn't always recognize the facts as we do
Without realizing his cruelty, treated as a child
Woman harnessed with a dog to a cart
Wooded with the precise, severely disciplined German forests
Work he was so fond of and so weary of
Would sacrifice his best friend to a phrase
DR. BREEN'S PRACTICE.
By William Dean Howells
Near the verge of a bold promontory stands the hotel, and looks
southeastward over a sweep of sea unbroken to the horizon. Behind it
stretches the vast forest, which after two hundred years has resumed the
sterile coast wrested from it by the first Pilgrims, and has begun to
efface the evidences of the inroad made in recent years by the bold
speculator for whom Jocelyn's is named. The young birches and spruces
are breast high in the drives and avenues at Jocelyn's; the low
blackberry vines and the sweet fern cover the carefully-graded sidewalks,
and obscure the divisions of the lots; the children of the boarders have
found squawberries in the public square on the spot where the band-stand
was to have been. The notion of a sea-side resort at this point was
courageously conceived, and to a certain extent it was generously
realized. Except for its remoteness from the railroad, a drawback which
future enterprise might be expected to remedy in some way, the place has
many natural advantages. The broad plateau is cooled by a breeze from
the vast forests behind it, which comes laden with health and freshness
from the young pines; the sea at its feet is warmed by the Gulf Stream to
a temperature delicious for bathing. There are certainly mosquitoes from
the woods; but there are mosquitoes everywhere, and the report that
people have been driven away by them is manifestly untrue, for whoever
comes to Jocelyn's remains. The beach at the foot of the bluff is almost
a mile at its curve, and it is so smooth and hard that it glistens like
polished marble when newly washed by the tide. It is true that you reach
it from the top by a flight of eighty steps, but it was intended to have
an elevator, like those near the Whirlpool at Niagara. In the mean time
it is easy enough to go down, and the ladies go down every day, taking
their novels or their needle-work with them. They have various notions
of a bath: some conceive that it is bathing to sit in the edge of the
water, and emit shrieks as the surge sweeps against them; others run
boldly in, and after a moment of poignant hesitation jump up and down
half-a-dozen times, and run out; yet others imagine it better to remain
immersed to the chin for a given space, looking toward the shore with
lips tightly shut and the breath held. But after the bath they are all
of one mind; they lay their shawls on the warm sand, and, spreading out
their hair to dry, they doze in the sun, in such coils and masses as the
unconscious figure lends itself to. When they rise from their beds, they
sit in the shelter of the cliff and knit or sew, while one of them reads
aloud, and another stands watch to announce the coming of the seals,
which frequent a reef near the shore in great numbers. It has been said
at rival points on the coast that the ladies linger there in despair of
ever being able to remount to the hotel. A young man who clambered along
the shore from one of those points reported finding day after day the
same young lady stretched out on the same shawl, drying the same yellow
hair, who had apparently never gone upstairs since the season began. But
the recurrence of this phenomenon in this spot at the very moment when
the young man came by might have been accounted for upon other theories.
Jocelyn's was so secluded that she could not have expected any one to
find her there twice, and if she had expected this she would not have
permitted it. Probably he saw a different young lady each time.
Many of the same boarders come year after year, and these tremble at the
suggestion of a change for the better in Jocelyn's. The landlord has
always believed that Jocelyn's would come up, some day, when times got
better. He believes that the narrow-gauge railroad from New Leyden--
arrested on paper at the disastrous moment when the fortunes of Jocelyn's
felt the general crash--will be pushed through yet; and every summer he
promises that next summer they are going to have a steam-launch running
twice a day from Leyden Harbor. But at present his house is visited once
a day by a barge, as the New England coast-folks call the vehicle in
which they convey city boarders to and from the station, and the old
frequenters of the place hope that the station will never be nearer
Jocelyn's than at present. Some of them are rich enough to afford a
sojourn at more fashionable resorts; but most of them are not, though
they are often people of polite tastes and of aesthetic employments.
They talk with slight of the large watering-places, and probably they
would not like them, though it is really economy that inspires their
passion for Jocelyn's with most of them, and they know of the splendid.
weariness of Newport mostly by hearsay. New arrivals are not favored,
but there are not often new arrivals at Jocelyn's. The chief business of
the barge is to bring fresh meat for the table and the gaunt bag which
contains the mail; for in the first flush of the enterprise the place was
made a post-office, and the landlord is postmaster; he has the help of
the lady-boarders in his official duties.
Scattered about among the young birches there are several of those pine
frames known as shells, within easy walk of the hotel, where their
inmates board. They are picturesque interiors, and are on informal terms
with the public as to many domestic details. The lady of the house,
doing her back hair at her dressing-room glass, is divided from her
husband, smoking at the parlor fire-place, only by a partition of
unlathed studding. The arrest of development in these shells is
characteristic of everything about the place. None of the improvements
invented since the hard times began have been added to Jocelyn's;
lawntennis is still unknown there; but there is a croquet-ground before
the hotel, where the short, tough grass is kept in tolerable order. The
wickets are pretty rusty, and it is usually the children who play; but
toward the close of a certain, afternoon a young lady was pushing the
balls about there. She seemed to be going over a game just played, and
trying to trace the cause of her failure. She made bad shots, and
laughed at her blunders. Another young lady drooped languidly on a bench
at the side of the croquet-ground, and followed her movements with
"I don't see how you did it, Louise," panted the player; "it's
astonishing how you beat me."
The lady on the bench made as if to answer, but ended by coughing
"Oh, dear child!" cried the first, dropping her mallet, and running to
her. "You ought to have put on your shawl!" She lifted the knit shawl
lying beside her on the bench, and laid it across the other's shoulders,
and drew it close about her neck.
"Oh, don't!" said the other. "It chokes me to be bundled up so tight."
She shrugged the shawl down to her shoulders with a pretty petulance.
"If my chest's protected, that's all that's necessary." But she made no
motion to drape the outline which her neatly-fitted dress displayed, and
she did not move from her place, or look up at her anxious friend.
"Oh, but don't sit here, Louise," the latter pleaded, lingering near her.
"I was wrong to let you sit down at all after you had got heated."
"Well, Grace, I had to," said she who was called Louise. "I was so tired
out. I'm not going to take more cold. I can always tell when I am.
I'll put on the shawl in half a minute; or else I'll go in."
"I'm sure there's nothing to keep me out. That's the worst of these
lonely places: my mind preys upon itself. That's what Dr. Nixon always
said: he said it was no use in air so long as my mind preyed upon itself.
He said that I ought to divert my mind all I could, and keep it from
preying upon itself; that it was worth all the medicine in the world."
"That's perfectly true."
"Then you ought n't to keep reminding me all the time that I'm sick.
That's what starts my mind to preying upon itself; and when it gets going
once I can't stop it. I ought to treat myself just like a well person;
that's what the doctor said."
The other stood looking at the speaker in frowning perplexity. She was a
serious-faced girl, and now when she frowned her black brows met sternly
above her gray eyes. But she controlled any impulse she had to severity,
and asked gently, "Shall I send Bella to you?"
"Oh, no! I can't make society out of a child the whole time. I'll just
sit here till the barge comes in. I suppose it will be as empty as a
gourd, as usual." She added, with a sick and weary negligence, "I don't
even know where Bella is. She's run off, somewhere."
"It's quite time she should be looked up, for tea. I'll wander out that
way and look for her." She indicated the wilderness generally.
"Thanks," said Louise. She now gratefully drew her shawl up over her
shoulders, and faced about on the bench so as to command an easy view of
the arriving barge. The other met it on her way to the place in the
woods where the children usually played, and found it as empty as her
friend had foreboded. But the driver stopped his horses, and leaned out
of the side of the wagon with a little package in his hand. He read the
superscription, and then glanced consciously at the girl. "You're Miss
Breen, ain't you?"
"Yes," she said, with lady-like sweetness and a sort of business-like
"Well," suggested the driver, "this is for Miss Grace Breen, M. D."
"For me, thank you," said the young lady. "I'm Dr. Breen." She put out
her hand for the little package from the homoeopathic pharmacy in Boston;
and the driver yielded it with a blush that reddened him to his hair.
"Well," he said slowly, staring at the handsome girl, who did not visibly
share his embarrassment, "they told me you was the one; but I could n't
seem to get it through me. I thought it must be the old lady."
"My mother is Mrs. Breen," the young lady briefly explained, and walked
rapidly away, leaving the driver stuck in the heavy sand of Sea-Glimpse
"Why, get up!" he shouted to his horses. "Goin' to stay here all day?"
He craned his neck round the side of the wagon for a sight of her.
"Well, dumm 'f I don't wish I was sick! Steps along," he mused, watching
the swirl and ripple of her skirt, "like--I dunno what."
With her face turned from him Dr. Breen blushed, too; she was not yet so
used to her quality of physician that she could coldly bear the confusion
to which her being a doctor put men. She laughed a little to herself at
the helplessness of the driver, confronted probably for the first time
with a graduate of the New York homoeopathic school; but she believed
that she had reasons for taking herself seriously in every way, and she
had not entered upon this career without definite purposes. When she was
not yet out of her teens, she had an unhappy love affair, which was
always darkly referred to as a disappointment by people who knew of it at
the time. Though the particulars of the case do not directly concern
this story, it may be stated that the recreant lover afterwards married
her dearest girl-friend, whom he had first met in her company. It was
cruel enough, and the hurt went deep; but it neither crushed nor hardened
her. It benumbed her for a time; she sank out of sight; but when she
returned to the knowledge of the world she showed no mark of the blow
except what was thought a strange eccentricity in a girl such as she had
been. The world which had known her--it was that of an inland New
England city--heard of her definitely after several years as a student of
medicine in New York. Those who had more of her intimacy understood that
she had chosen this work with the intention of giving her life to it, in
the spirit in which other women enter convents, or go out to heathen
lands; but probably this conception had its exaggerations. What was
certain was that she was rich enough to have no need of her profession as
a means of support, and that its study had cost her more than the usual
suffering that it brings to persons of sensitive nerves. Some details
were almost insuperably repugnant; but in schooling herself to them she
believed that she was preparing to encounter anything in the application
of her science.
Her first intention had been to go back to her own town after her
graduation, and begin the practice of her profession among those who had
always known her, and whose scrutiny and criticism would be hardest to
bear, and therefore, as she fancied, the most useful to her in the
formation of character. But afterwards she relinquished her purpose in
favor of a design which she thought would be more useful to others: she
planned going to one of the great factory towns, and beginning practice
there, in company with an older physician, among the children of the
operatives. Pending the completion of this arrangement, which was
waiting upon the decision of the other lady, she had come to Jocelyn's
with her mother, and with Mrs. Maynard, who had arrived from the West,
aimlessly sick and unfriended, just as they were about leaving home.
There was no resource but to invite her with them, and Dr. Breen was
finding her first patient in this unexpected guest. She did not wholly
regret the accident; this, too, was useful work, though not that she
would have chosen; but her mother, after a fortnight, openly repined, and
could not mention Mrs. Maynard without some rebellious murmur. She was
an old lady, who had once kept a very vigilant conscience for herself;
but after making her life unhappy with it for some threescore years, she
now applied it entirely to the exasperation and condemnation of others.
She especially devoted it to fretting a New England girl's naturally
morbid sense of duty in her daughter, and keeping it in the irritation of
perpetual self-question. She had never actively opposed her studying
medicine; that ambition had harmonized very well with certain radical
tendencies of her own, and it was at least not marriage, which she had
found tolerable only in its modified form of widowhood; but at every step
after the decisive step was taken she was beset with misgivings lest
Grace was not fully alive to the grave responsibilities of her office,
which she accumulated upon the girl in proportion as she flung off all
responsibilities of her own. She was doubtless deceived by that show of
calm which sometimes deceived Grace herself, who, in tutoring her soul to
bear what it had to bear, mistook her tense effort for spiritual repose,
and scarcely realized through her tingling nerves the strain she was
undergoing. In spite of the bitter experience of her life, she was still
very ardent in her hopes of usefulness, very scornful of distress or
discomfort to herself, and a little inclined to exact the heroism she was
ready to show. She had a child's severe morality, and she had hardly
learned to understand that there is much evil in the world that does not
characterize the perpetrators: she held herself as strictly to account
for every word and deed as she held others, and she had an almost
passionate desire to meet the consequence of her errors; till that was
felt, an intolerable doom hung over her. She tried not to be impulsive;
that was criminal in one of her calling; and she struggled for patience
with an endeavor that was largely successful.
As to the effect of her career outside of herself, and of those whom her
skill was to benefit, she tried to think neither arrogantly nor meanly.
She would not entertain the vanity that she was serving what is called
the cause of woman, and she would not assume any duties or
responsibilities toward it. She thought men were as good as women;
at least one man had been no worse than one woman; and it was in no
representative or exemplary character that she had chosen her course.
At the same time that she held these sane opinions, she believed that she
had put away the hopes with the pleasures that might once have taken her
as a young girl. In regard to what had changed the current of her life,
she mentally asserted her mere nullity, her absolute non-existence. The
thought of it no longer rankled, and that interest could never be hers
again. If it had not been so much like affectation, and so counter to
her strong aesthetic instinct, she might have made her dress somehow
significant of her complete abeyance in such matters; but as it was she
only studied simplicity, and as we have seen from the impression of the
barge-driver she did not finally escape distinction in dress and manner.
In fact, she could not have escaped that effect if she would; and it was
one of the indomitable contradictions of her nature that she would not.
When she came back to the croquet-ground, leading the little girl by the
hand, she found Mrs. Maynard no longer alone and no longer sad. She was
chatting and laughing with a slim young fellow, whose gay blue eyes
looked out of a sunburnt face, and whose straw hat, carried in his hand,
exposed a closely shaven head. He wore a suit of gray flannel, and Mrs.
Maynard explained that he was camping on the beach at Birkman's Cove, and
had come over in the steamer with her when she returned from Europe. She
introduced him as Mr. Libby, and said, "Oh, Bella, you dirty little
Mr. Libby bowed anxiously to Grace, and turned for refuge to the little
girl. "Hello, Bella!" "Hello!" said the child. "Remember me?" The
child put her left hand on that of Grace holding her right, and prettily
pressed her head against the girl's arm in bashful silence. Grace said
some coldly civil words to the young man: without looking at Mrs.
Maynard, and passed on into the house.
"You don't mean that's your doctor?" he scarcely more than whispered.
"Yes, I do," answered Mrs. Maynard. "Is n't she too lovely? And she's
just as good! She used to stand up at school for me, when all the girls
were down on me because I was Western. And when I came East, this time,
I just went right straight to her house. I knew she could tell me
exactly what to do. And that's the reason I'm here. I shall always
recommend this air to anybody with lung difficulties. It's the greatest
thing ! I'm almost another person. Oh, you need n't look after her,
Mr. Libby! There's nothing flirtatious about Grace," said Mrs. Maynard.
The young man recovered himself from his absentminded stare in the
direction Grace had taken, with a frank laugh. "So much the better for a
fellow, I should say!"
Grace handed the little girl over to her nurse, and went to her own room,
where she found her mother waiting to go down to tea.
"Where is Mrs. Maynard?" asked Mrs. Breen.
"Out on the croquet-ground," answered the daughter.
"I should think it would be damp," suggested Mrs. Green.
"She will come in when the tea-bell rings. She wouldn't come in now, if
I told her."
"Well," said the elder lady, "for a person who lets her doctor pay her
board, I think 'she's very independent."
"I wish you would n't speak of that, mother," said the girl.
"I can't help it, Grace. It's ridiculous,--that's what it is; it's
"I don't see anything ridiculous in it. A physician need not charge
anything unless he chooses, or she; and if I choose to make Louise my
guest here it's quite the same as if she were my guest at home."
"I don't like you to have such a guest," said Mrs. Green. "I don't see
what claim she has upon your hospitality."
"She has a double claim upon it," Grace answered, with a flush. "She is
in sickness and in trouble. I don't see how she could have a better
claim. Even if she were quite well I should consider the way she had
been treated by her husband sufficient, and I should want to do
everything I could for her."
"I should want her to behave herself," said Mrs. Breen dryly.
"How behave herself? What do you mean?" demanded Grace, with guilty
"You know what I mean, Grace. A woman in her position ought to be more
circumspect than any other woman, if she wants people to believe that her
husband treated her badly."
"We ought n't to blame her for trying to forget her troubles. It's
essential to her recovery for her to be as cheerful as she can be. I
know that she's impulsive, and she's free in her manners with strangers;
but I suppose that's her Westernism. She's almost distracted. She was
crying half the night, with her troubles, and kept Bella and me both
"Is Bella with her now?"
"No," Grace admitted. "Jane's getting her ready to go down with us.
Louise is talking with a gentleman who came over on the steamer with her;
he's camping on the beach near here. I didn't wait to hear particulars."
When the nurse brought the little girl to their door, Mrs. Green took one
hand and Grace the other, and they led her down to tea. Mrs. Maynard was
already at table, and told them all about meeting Mr. Libby abroad.
Until the present time she and Grace had not seen each other since they
were at school together in Southington, where the girl used to hear so
much to the disadvantage of her native section that she would hardly have
owned to it if her accent had not found her out. It would have been
pleasanter to befriend another person, but the little Westerner suffered
a veritable persecution, and that was enough to make Grace her friend.
Shortly after she returned home from school she married, in that casual
and tentative fashion in which so many marriages seem made. Grace had
heard of her as travelling in Europe with her husband, from whom she was
now separated. She reported that he had known Mr. Libby in his bachelor
days, and that Mr. Libby had travelled with them. Mr. Maynard appeared
to have left to Mr. Libby the arrangement of his wife's pleasures, the
supervision of her shopping, and the direction of their common journeys
and sojourns; and it seemed to have been indifferent to him whether his
friend was smoking and telling stories with him, or going with his wife
to the opera, or upon such excursions as he had no taste for. She gave
the details of the triangular intimacy with a frank unconsciousness; and
after nine o'clock she returned from a moonlight walk on the beach with
Grace sat waiting for her at the little one's bedside, for Bella had been
afraid to go to sleep alone.
"How good you are!" cried Louise, in a grateful under-tone, as she came
in. She kissed Grace, and choked down a cough with her hand over her
"Louise," said Grace sternly, "this is shameful! You forget that you are
married, and ill, too."
"Oh, I'm ever so much better, to-night. The air's just as dry! And you
needn't mind Mr. Libby. He's such an old friend! Besides, I'm sure to
gain the case."
"No matter. Even as a divorced woman, you oughtn't to go on in this
"Well, I would n't, with every one. But it's quite different with Mr.
Libby. And, besides, I have to keep my mind from preying on itself
Mrs. Maynard sat in the sun on the seaward-looking piazza of the hotel,
and coughed in the warm air. She told the ladies, as they came out from
breakfast, that she was ever so much better generally, but that she
seemed to have more of that tickling in her throat. Each of them advised
her for good, and suggested this specific and that; and they all asked
her what Miss Breen was doing for her cough. Mrs. Maynard replied,
between the paroxysms, that she did not know: it was some kind of
powders. Then they said they would think she would want to try something
active; even those among them who were homoeopathists insinuated a fine
distrust of a physician of their own sex. "Oh, it's nothing serious,"
Mrs. Maynard explained. "It's just bronchial. The air will do me more
good than anything. I'm keeping out in it all I can."
After they were gone, a queer, gaunt man came and glanced from the
doorway at her. He had one eye in unnatural fixity, and the other set at
that abnormal slant which is said to qualify the owner for looking round
a corner before he gets to it. A droll twist of his mouth seemed partly
physical, but: there is no doubt that he had often a humorous intention.
It was Barlow, the man-of-all-work, who killed and plucked the poultry,
peeled the potatoes and picked the peas, pulled the sweet-corn and the
tomatoes, kindled the kitchen fire, harnessed the old splayfooted mare,
--safe for ladies and children, and intolerable for all others, which
formed the entire stud of the Jocelyn House stables,--dug the clams,
rowed and sailed the boat, looked after the bath-houses, and came in
contact with the guests at so many points that he was on easy terms with
them all. This ease tended to an intimacy which he was himself powerless
to repress, and which, from time to time, required their intervention.
He now wore a simple costume of shirt and trousers, the latter terminated
by a pair of broken shoes, and sustained by what he called a single
gallows; his broad-brimmed straw hat scooped down upon his shoulders
behind, and in front added to his congenital difficulty of getting people
in focus. "How do you do, this morning, Mrs. Maynard?" he said.
"Oh, I'm first-rate, Mr. Barlow. What sort of day do you think it's
going to be for a sail?"
Barlow came out to the edge of the piazza, and looked at the sea and sky.
"First-rate. Fog's most burnt away now. You don't often see a fog at
Jocelyn's after ten o'clock in the mornin'."
He looked for approval to Mrs. Maynard, who said, "That's so. The air's
just splendid. It 's doing everything for me."
"It's these pine woods, back o' here. Every breath on 'em does ye good.
It's the balsam in it. D' you ever try," he asked, stretching his hand
as far up the piazza-post as be could, and swinging into a conversational
posture,--"d' you ever try whiskey--good odd Bourbon whiskey--with white-
pine chips in it?"
Mrs. Maynard looked up with interest, but, shaking her head, coughed for
"Well, I should like to have you try that."
"What does it do?" she gasped, when she could get her breath.
"Well, it's soothin' t' the cough, and it builds ye up, every ways. Why,
my brother," continued the factotum, "he died of consumption when I was a
boy,--reg'lar old New England consumption. Don't hardly ever hear of it
any more, round here. Well, I don't suppose there's been a case of
reg'lar old New England consumption--well, not the old New England kind
--since these woods growed up. He used to take whiskey with white-pine
chips in it; and I can remember hearin 'em say that it done him more good
than all the doctor's stuff. He'd been out to Demarary, and everywheres,
and he come home in the last stages, and took up with this whiskey with
whitepine chips in it. Well, it's just like this, I presume it's the
balsam in the chips. It don't make any difference how you git the balsam
into your system, so 's 't you git it there. I should like to have you
try whiskey with white-pine chips in it."
He looked convincingly at Mrs. Maynard, who said she should like to try
it. "It's just bronchial with me, you know. But I should like to try
it. I know it would be soothing; and I've always heard that whiskey was
the very thing to build you up. But," she added, lapsing from this
vision of recovery, "I couldn't take it unless Grace said so. She'd be
sure to find it out."
"Why, look here," said Barlow. "As far forth as that goes, you could
keep the bottle in my room. Not but what I believe in going by your
doctor's directions, it don't matter who your doctor is. I ain't sayin'
nothin' against Miss Breen, you understand?"
"Oh, no!" cried Mrs. Maynard.
"I never see much nicer ladies than her and her mother in the house.
But you just tell her about the whiskey with the white-pine chips in it.
Maybe she never heard of it. Well, she hain't had a great deal of
"No," said Mrs. Maynard. "And I think she'll be glad to hear of it.
You may be sure I'll tell her, Mr. Barlow. Grace is everything for the
balsamic properties of the air, down here. That's what she said; and as
you say, it doesn't matter how you get the balsam into your system, so
you get it there."
"No," said the factotum, in a tone of misgiving, as if the repetition of
the words presented the theory in a new light to him.
"What I think is, and what I'm always telling Grace," pursued Mrs.
Maynard, in that confidential spirit in which she helplessly spoke of her
friends by their first names to every one, "that if I could once get my
digestion all right, then the cough would stop of itself. The doctor
said--Dr. Nixon, that is--that it was more than half the digestion any
way. But just as soon as I eat anything--or if I over-eat a little--then
that tickling in my throat begins, and then I commence coughing; and I'm
back just where I was. It's the digestion. I oughtn't to have eaten
that mince pie, yesterday."
"No," admitted Barlow. Then he said, in indirect defence of the kitchen,
"I think you had n't ought to be out in the night air,--well, not a great
"Well, I don't suppose it does do me much good," Mrs. Maynard said,
turning her eyes seaward.
Barlow let his hand drop from the piazza post, and slouched in-doors; but
he came out again as if pricked by conscience to return.
"After all, you know, it did n't cure him."
"What cure him?" asked Mrs. Maynard.
"The whiskey with the white-pine chips in it."
"Oh! Oh, yes! But mine's only bronchial. I think it might do me good.
I shall tell Grace about it."
Barlow looked troubled, as if his success in the suggestion of this
remedy were not finally a pleasure; but as Mrs. Maynard kept her eyes
persistently turned from him, and was evidently tired, he had nothing for
it but to go in-doors again. He met Grace, and made way for her on the
threshold to pass out.
As she joined Mrs. Maynard, "Well, Grace," said the latter, "I do believe
you are right. I have taken some more cold. But that shows that it does
n't get worse of itself, and I think we ought to be encouraged by that.
I'm going to be more careful of the night air after this."
"I don't think the night air was the worst thing about it, Louise," said
"You mean the damp from the sand? I put on my rubbers."
"I don't mean the damp sand," said Grace, beginning to pull over some
sewing which she had in her lap, and looking down at it.
Mrs. Maynard watched her a while in expectation that she would say more,
but she did not speak. "Oh--well!" she was forced to continue herself,
"if you're going to go on with that!"
"The question is," said Grace, getting the thread she wanted, "whether
you are going on with it."
"Why, I can't see any possible harm in it," protested Mrs. Maynard.
"I suppose you don't exactly like my going with Mr. Libby, and I know
that under some circumstances it would n't be quite the thing. But
did n't I tell you last night how he lived with us in Europe? And when
we were all coming over on the steamer together Mr. Libby and Mr. Maynard
were together the whole time, smoking and telling stories. They were the
greatest friends! Why, it isn't as if he was a stranger, or an enemy of
Grace dropped her sewing into her lap. "Really, Louise, you're
incredible!" She looked sternly at the invalid; but broke into a laugh,
on which Mrs. Maynard waited with a puzzled face. As Grace said nothing
more, she helplessly resumed:--
"We did n't expect to go down the cliff when he first called in the
evening. But he said he would help me up again, and--he did, nicely.
I was n't exhausted a bit; and how I took more cold I can't understand;
I was wrapped up warmly. I think I took the cold when I was sitting
there after our game of croquet, with my shawl off. Don't you think so?"
"Perhaps," said Grace.
"He did nothing but talk about you, Grace," said Mrs. Maynard, with a sly
look at the other. "He's awfully afraid of you, and he kept asking about
"Louise," said the other, gravely ignoring these facts, "I never
undertook the care of you socially, and I object very much to lecturing
you. You are nearly as old as I am, and you have had a great deal more
experience of life than I have." Mrs. Maynard sighed deeply in assent.
"But it does n't seem to have taught you that if you will provoke people
to talk of you, you must expect criticism. One after another you've told
nearly every woman in the house your affairs, and they have all
sympathized with you and pitied you. I shall have to be plain, and tell
you that I can't have them sneering and laughing at any one who is my
guest. I can't let you defy public opinion here."
"Why, Grace," said Mrs. Maynard, buoyed above offence at her friend's
words by her consciousness of the point she was about to make, "you defy
public opinion yourself a good deal more than I do, every minute."
"I? How do I defy it?" demanded Grace indignantly.
"By being a doctor."
Grace opened her lips to speak, but she was not a ready person, and she
felt the thrust. Before she could say anything Mrs. Maynard went on:
"There isn't one of them that does n't think you're much more scandalous
than if you were the greatest flirt alive. But, I don't mind them, and
why should you?"
The serious girl whom she addressed was in that helpless subjection to
the truth in which so many New England women pass their lives. She could
not deny the truth which lurked in the exaggeration of these words, and
it unnerved her, as the fact that she was doing what the vast majority of
women considered unwomanly always unnerved her when she suffered herself
to think of it. "You are right, Louise," she said meekly and sadly.
"They think as well of you as they do of me."
"Yes, that's just what I said!" cried Mrs. Maynard, glad of her
But however disabled, her friend resumed: "The only safe way for you is
to take the ground that so long as you wear your husband's name you must
honor it, no matter how cruel and indifferent to you he has been."
"Yes," assented Mrs. Maynard ruefully, "of course."
"I mean that you must n't even have the appearance of liking admiration,
or what you call attentions. It's wicked."
"I suppose so," murmured the culprit.
"You have been brought up to have such different ideas of divorce from
what I have," continued Grace, "that I don't feel as if I had any right
to advise you about what you are to do after you gain your suit."
"I shall not want to get married again for one while; I know that much,"
Mrs. Maynard interpolated self-righteously.
"But till you do gain it, you ought not to regard it as emancipating you
in the slightest degree."
"No," came in sad assent from the victim of the law's delays.
"And I want you to promise me that you won't go walking with Mr. Libby
any more; and that you won't even see him alone, after this."
"Why, but Grace!" cried Mrs. Maynard, as much in amazement as in
annoyance. "You don't seem to understand! Have n't I told you he was a
friend of the family? He's quite as much Mr. Maynard's friend as he is
mine. I'm sure," she added, "if I asked Mr. Libby, I should never think
of getting divorced. He's all for George; and it's as much as I can do
to put up with him."
"No matter. That does n't alter the appearance to people here. I don't
wish you to go with him alone any more."
"Well, Grace, I won't," said Mrs. Maynard earnestly. "I won't, indeed.
And that makes me think: he wanted you to go along this morning."
"To go along? Wanted me--What are you talking about?"
"Why, I suppose that's his boat, out there, now." Mrs. Maynard pointed
to a little craft just coming to anchor inside the reef. "He said he
wanted me to take a sail with him, this morning; and he said he would
come up and ask you, too. I do hope you'll go, Grace. It's just as
calm; and he always has a man with him to help sail the boat, so there
is n't the least danger." Grace looked at her in silent sorrow, and Mrs.
Maynard went on with sympathetic seriousness: "Oh! there's one thing I
want to ask you about, Grace: I don't like to have any concealments from
you." Grace did not speak, but she permitted Mrs. Maynard to proceed:
"Barlow recommended it, and he's lived here a great while. His brother
took it, and he had the regular old New England consumption. I thought I
shouldn't like to try it without your knowing it."
"Try it? What are you talking about, Louise?"
"Why, whiskey with white-pine chips in it."
Grace rose, and moved towards the door, with the things dropping from her
lap. One of these was a spool, that rolled down the steps and out upon
the sandy road. She turned to pursue it, and recovered it at the cost of
dropping her scissors and thimble out of opposite sides of her skirt,
which she had gathered up apronwise to hold her work. When she rose from
the complicated difficulty, in which Mrs. Maynard had amiably lent her
aid, she confronted Mr. Libby, who was coming towards them from the
cliff. She gave him a stiff nod, and attempted to move away; but in
turning round and about she had spun herself into the folds of a stout
linen thread escaping from its spool. These gyves not only bound her
skirts but involved her feet in an extraordinary mesh, which tightened at
the first step and brought her to a standstill.
Mrs. Maynard began to laugh and cough, as Mr. Libby came to her friend's
help. He got the spool in his hand, and walked around her in the
endeavor to free her; but in vain. She extended him the scissors with
the stern passivity of a fate. "Cut it," she commanded, and Mr. Libby
knelt before her and obeyed. "Thanks," she said, taking back the
scissors; and now she sat down again, and began deliberately to put up
her work in her handkerchief.
"I 'll go out and get my things. I won't be gone half a minute, Mr.
Libby," said Mrs. Maynard, with her first breath, as she vanished
Mr. Libby leaned against the post lately occupied by the factotum in his
talk with Mrs. Maynard, and looked down at Grace as she bent over her
work. If he wished to speak to her, and was wavering as to the
appropriate style of address for a handsome girl, who was at once a young
lady and a physician, she spared him the agony of a decision by looking
up at him suddenly.
"I hope," he faltered, "that you feel like a sail, this morning?
Did Mrs. Maynard--"
"I shall have to excuse myself," answered Grace, with a conscience
against saying she was sorry. "I am a very bad sailor."
"Well, so am I, for that matter," said Mr. Libby. "But it's smooth as a
Grace made no direct response, and he grew visibly uncomfortable under
the cold abstraction of the gaze with which she seemed to look through
him. "Mrs. Maynard tells me you came over with her from Europe."
'Oh yes!" cried the young man, the light of pleasant recollection
kindling in his gay eyes. "We had a good time. Maynard was along: he's
a first-rate fellow. I wish he were here."
"Yes," said Grace, "I wish so, too." She did not know what to make of
this frankness of the young man's, and she did not know whether to
consider him very depraved or very innocent. In her question she
continued to stare at him, without being aware of the embarrassment to
which she was putting him.
"I heard of Mrs. Maynard's being here, and I thought I should find him,
too. I came over yesterday to get him to go into the woods with us."
Grace decided that this was mere effrontery. "It is a pity that he is
not here," she said; and though it ought to have been possible for her to
go on and rebuke the young fellow for bestowing upon Mrs. Maynard the
comradeship intended for her husband, it was not so. She could only look
severely at him, and trust that he might conceive the intention which she
could not express. She rebelled against the convention and against her
own weakness, which would not let her boldly interfere in what she
believed a wrong; she had defied society, in the mass, but here, with
this man, whom as an atom of the mass she would have despised, she was
"Have you ever seen him?" Libby asked, perhaps clinging to Maynard
because he was a topic of conversation in default of which there might be
nothing to say.
"No," answered Grace.
"He 's funny. He's got lots of that Western humor, and he tells a story
better than any man I ever saw. There was one story of his"--
"I have no sense of humor," interrupted Grace impatiently. "Mr. Libby,"
she broke out, "I 'm sorry that you've asked Mrs. Maynard to take a sail
with you. The sea air"--she reddened with the shame of not being able to
proceed without this wretched subterfuge--"won't do her any good."
"Then," said the young man, "you must n't let her go."
"I don't choose to forbid her," Grace began.
"I beg your pardon," he broke in. "I'll be back in a moment."
He turned, and ran to the edge of the cliff, over which he vanished, and
he did not reappear till Mrs. Maynard had rejoined Grace on the piazza.
"I hope you won't mind its being a little rough, Mrs. Maynard," he said,
breathing quickly. "Adams thinks we're going to have it pretty fresh
before we get back."
"Indeed, I don't want to go, then!" cried Mrs. Maynard, in petulant
disappointment, letting her wraps fall upon a chair.
Mr. Libby looked at Grace, who haughtily rejected a part in the
conspiracy. "I wish you to go, Louise," she declared indignantly.
"I will take the risk of all the harm that comes to you from the bad
weather." She picked up the shawls, and handed them to Mr. Libby, on
whom her eyes blazed their contempt and wonder. It cost a great deal of
persuasion and insistence now to make Mrs. Maynard go, and he left all
this to Grace, not uttering a word till he gave Mrs. Maynard his hand to
help her down the steps. Then he said, "Well, I wonder what Miss Breen
"I 'm sure I don't know," said the other. "At first she did n't want me
to go, this morning, and now she makes me. I do hope it is n't going to
be a storm."
"I don't believe it is. A little fresh, perhaps. I thought you might be
"Don't you remember? I'm never seasick! That's one of the worst signs."
"If I could be thoroughly seasick once, it would be the best thing I
"Is she capricious?" asked Mr. Libby.
"Grace?" cried Mrs. Maynard, releasing her hand half-way down the steps,
in order to enjoy her astonishment without limitation of any sort.
"Yes," said Mr. Libby, "that's what I thought. Better take my hand
again," and he secured that of Mrs. Maynard, who continued her descent.
"I suppose I don't understand her exactly. Perhaps she did n't like my
not calling her Doctor. I did n't call her anything. I suppose she
thought I was dodging it. I was. I should have had to call her Miss
Breen, if I called her anything."
"She wouldn't have cared. She is n't a doctor for the name of it."
"I suppose you think it's a pity?" he asked.
"Her being a doctor."
"I'll tell her you say so."
"No, don't. But don't you?"
"Well, I would n't want to be one," said Mrs. Mayward candidly.
"I suppose it's all right, if she does it from a sense of duty, as you
say," he suggested.
"Oh, yes, she's all right. And she's just as much of a girl as anybody;
though she don't know it," Mrs. Maynard added astutely. "Why would n't
she come with us? Were you afraid to ask her?"
"She said she was n't a good sailor. Perhaps she thought we were too
young. She must be older than you."
"Yes, and you, too!" cried Mrs. Maynard, with good-natured derision.
"She doesn't look old," returned Mr. Libby.
"She's twenty-eight. How old are you?"
"I promised the census-taker not to tell till his report came out."
"What is the color of her hair?"
"And her eyes?"
"I don't know!"
"You had better look out, Mr. Libby!" said Mrs. Maynard, putting her foot
on the ground at last.
They walked across the beach to where his dory lay, and Grace saw him
pulling out to the sail boat before she went in from the piazza. Then
she went to her mother's room. The elderly lady was keeping indoors,
upon a theory that the dew was on, and that it was not wholesome to go
out till it was off. She asked, according to her habit when she met her
daughter alone, "Where is Mrs. Maynard?"
"Why do you always ask that, mother?" retorted Grace, with her growing
irritation in regard to her patient intensified by the recent interview.
"I can't be with her the whole time."
"I wish you could," said Mrs. Breen, with noncommittal suggestion.
Grace could not keep herself from demanding, "Why?" as her mother
expected, though she knew why too well.
"Because she wouldn't be in mischief then," returned Mrs. Breen.
"She's in mischief now!" cried the girl vehemently; "and it's my fault!
I did it. I sent her off to sail with that ridiculous Mr. Libby!"
"Why?" asked Mrs. Breen, in her turn, with unbroken tranquillity.
"Because I am a, fool, and I couldn't help him lie out of his engagement
"Did n't he want to go?"
"I don't know. Yes. They both wanted me to go with them. Simpletons!
And while she had gone up-stairs for her wraps I managed to make him
understand that I did n't wish her to go, either; and he ran down to his
boat, and came back with a story about its going to be rough, and looked
at me perfectly delighted, as if I should be pleased. Of course, then, I
made him take her."
"And is n't it going to be rough?" asked Mrs. Green.
"Why, mother, the sea's like glass."
Mrs. Breen turned the subject. "You would have done better, Grace, to
begin as you had planned. Your going to Fall River, and beginning
practice there among those factory children, was the only thing that I
ever entirely liked in your taking up medicine. There was sense in that.
You had studied specially for it. You could have done good there."
"Oh, yes," sighed the girl, "I know. But what was I to do, when she came
to us, sick and poor? I couldn't turn my back on her, especially after
always befriending her, as I used to, at school, and getting her to
depend on me."
"I don't see how you ever liked her," said Mrs. Breen.
"I never did like her. I pitied her. I always thought her a poor,
flimsy little thing. But that ought n't to make any difference, if she
was in trouble."
"No," Mrs. Breen conceded, and in compensation Grace admitted something
more on her side: "She's worse than she used to be,--sillier. I don't
suppose she has a wrong thought; but she's as light as foam."
"Oh, it is n't the wicked people who, do the harm," said Mrs. Green.
"I was sure that this air would be everything for her; and so it would,
with any ordinary case. But a child would take better care of itself.
I have to watch her every minute, like a child; and I never know what she
will do next."
"Yes; it's a burden," said Mrs. Breen, with a sympathy which she had not
expressed before. "And you're a good girl, Grace," she added in very
The grateful tears stole into the daughter's eyes, but she kept a firm
face, even after they began to follow one another down her cheeks. "And
if Louise had n't come, you know, mother, that I was anxious to have some
older person with me when I went to Fall River. I was glad to have this
respite; it gives me a chance to think. I felt a little timid about
"A man would n't," Mrs. Breen remarked.
"No. I am not a man. I have accepted that; with all the rest. I don't
rebel against being a woman. If I had been a man, I should n't have
studied medicine. You know that. I wished to be a physician because I
was a woman, and because--because--I had failed where--other women's
hopes are." She said it out firmly, and her mother softened to her in
proportion to the girl's own strength. "I might have been just a nurse.
You know I should have been willing to be that, but I thought I could be
something more. But it's no use talking." She added, after an interval,
in which her mother rocked to and fro with a gentle motion that searched
the joints of her chair, and brought out its most plaintive squeak in
pathetic iteration, and watched Grace, as she sat looking seaward through
the open window, "I think it's rather hard, mother, that you should be
always talking as if I wished to take my calling mannishly. All that I
intend is not to take it womanishly; but as for not being a woman about
it, or about anything, that's simply impossible. A woman is reminded of
her insufficiency to herself every hour of the day. And it's always a
man that comes to her help. I dropped some things out of my lap down
there, and by the time I had gathered them up I was wound round and round
with linen thread so that I could n't move a step, and Mr. Libby cut me
loose. I could have done it myself, but it seemed right and natural that
he should do it. I dare say he plumed himself upon his service to me,
--that would be natural, too. I have things enough to keep me meek,
She did not look round at Mrs. Breen, who said, "I think you are morbid
"Yes. And I have the satisfaction of knowing that whatever people think
of Louise's giddiness, I'm, a great deal more scandalous to them than she
is simply because I wish to do some good in the world, in a way that
women have n't done it, usually."
"Now you are morbid."
"Oh, yes! Talk about men being obstacles! It's other women! There
isn't a woman in the house that would n't sooner trust herself in the
hands of the stupidest boy that got his diploma with me than she would in
mine. Louise knows it, and she feels that she has a claim upon me in
being my patient. And I 've no influence with her about her conduct
because she understands perfectly well that they all consider me much
worse. She prides herself on doing me justice. She patronizes me. She
tells me that I'm just as nice as, if I hadn't 'been through all that.'"
Grace rose, and a laugh, which was half a sob, broke from her.
Mrs. Breen could not feel the humor of the predicament. "She puts you in
a false position."
"I must go and see where that poor little wretch of a child is," said
Grace, going out of the room. She returned in an hour, and asked her
mother for the arnica. "Bella has had a bump," she explained.
"Why, have you been all this time looking for her?
"No, I couldn't find her, and I've been reading. Barlow has just brought
her in. HE could find her. She fell out of a tree, and she's
She was making search on a closet shelf as she talked. When she
reappeared with the bottle in her hand, her mother asked, "Is n't it very
hot and close?"
"Very," said Grace.
"I should certainly think they would perish," said Mrs. Breen, hazarding
the pronoun, with a woman's confidence that her interlocutor would apply
When Grace had seen Bella properly bathed and brown-papered, and in the
way to forgetfulness of her wounds in sleep, she came down to the piazza,
and stood looking out to sea. The ladies appeared one by one over the
edge of the cliff, and came up, languidly stringing their shawls after
them, or clasping their novels to their bosoms.
"There isn't a breath down there," they said, one after another. The
last one added, "Barlow says it's the hottest day he's ever seen here."
In a minute Barlow himself appeared at the head of the steps with the
ladies' remaining wraps, and confirmed their report in person. "I tell
you," he said, wiping his forehead, "it's a ripper."
"It must be an awful day in town," said one of the ladies, fanning
herself with a newspaper.
"Is that to-day's Advertiser, Mrs. Alger?" asked another.
"Oh, dear, no! yesterday's. We sha'n't have today's till this afternoon.
It shows what a new arrival you are, Mrs. Scott--your asking."
"To be sure. But it's such a comfort being where you can see the
Advertiser the same morning. I always look at the Weather Report the
first thing. I like to know what the weather is going to be."
"You can't at Jocelyn's. You can only know what it's been."
"Well," Barlow interposed, jealous for Jocelyn's, "you can most al'ays
tell by the look o' things."
"Yes," said one of the ladies; "but I'd rather trust the Weather Report.
It's wonderful how it comes true. I don't think there 's anything that
you miss more in Europe than our American Weather Report."
"I'm sure you miss the oysters," said another.
"Yes," the first admitted, "you do miss the oysters. It was the last of
the R months when we landed in New York; and do you know what we did the
first thing--? We drove to Fulton Market, and had one of those Fulton
Market broils! My husband said we should have had it if it had been
July. He used to dream of the American oysters when we were in Europe.
Gentlemen are so fond of them."
Barlow, from scanning the heavens, turned round and faced the company,
which had drooped in several attitudes of exhaustion on the benching of
the piazza. "Well, I can most al'ays tell about Jocelyn's as good as the
Weather Report. I told Mrs. Maynard here this mornin' that the fog was
goin' to burn off."
"Burn off?" cried Mrs. Alger. "I should think it had!" The other ladies
"And you'll see," added Barlow, "that the wind 'll change at noon, and
we'll have it cooler."
"If it's as hot on the water as it is here," said Mrs. Scott, "I should
think those people would get a sunstroke."
"Well, so should I, Mrs. Scott," cordially exclaimed a little fat lady,
as if here at last were an opinion in which all might rejoice to
"It's never so hot on the water, Mrs. Merritt," said Mrs. Alger, with the
instructiveness of an old habitude.
"Well, not at Jocelyn's," suggested Barlow. Mrs. Alger stopped fanning
herself with her newspaper, and looked at him. Upon her motion, the
other ladies looked at Barlow. Doubtless he felt that his social
acceptability had ceased with his immediate usefulness. But he appeared
resolved to carry it off easily. "Well," he said, "I suppose I must go
and pick my peas."
No one said anything to this. When the factotum had disappeared round
the corner of the house, Mrs. Alger turned her head' aside, and glanced
downward with an air of fatigue. In this manner Barlow was dismissed
from the ladies' minds.
"I presume," said young Mrs. Scott, with a deferential glance at Grace,
"that the sun is good for a person with lung-difficulty."
Grace silently refused to consider herself appealed to, and Mrs. Merritt
said, "Better than the moon, I should think."
Some of the others tittered, but Grace looked up at Mrs. Merritt and
said, "I don't think Mrs. Maynard's case is so bad that she need be
afraid of either."
"Oh, I am so glad to hear it!" replied the other. She looked round, but
was unable to form a party. By twos or threes they might have liked to
take Mrs. Maynard to pieces; but no one cares to make unkind remarks
before a whole company of people. Some of the ladies even began to say
pleasant things about Mr. Libby, as if he were Grace's friend.
"I always like to see these fair men when they get tanned," said Mrs.
Alger. "Their blue eyes look so very blue. And the backs of their
necks--just like my boys!"
"Do you admire such a VERY fighting-clip as Mr. Libby has on?"
asked Mrs. Scott.
"It must be nice for summer," returned the elder lady.
"Yes, it certainly must," admitted the younger.
"Really," said another, "I wish I could go in the fighting-clip. One
does n't know what to do with one's hair at the sea-side; it's always in
"Your hair would be a public loss, Mrs. Frost," said Mrs. Alger. The
others looked at her hair, as if they had seen it now for the first time.
"Oh, I don't think so," said Mrs. Frost, in a sort of flattered coo.
"Oh, don't have it cut off!" pleaded a young girl, coming up and taking
the beautiful mane, hanging loose after the bath, into her hand. Mrs.
Frost put her arm round the girl's waist, and pulled her down against her
shoulder. Upon reflection she also kissed her.
Through a superstition, handed down from mother to daughter, that it is
uncivil and even unkind not to keep saying something, they went on
talking vapidities, where the same number of men, equally vacuous, would
have remained silent; and some of them complained that the nervous strain
of conversation took away all the good their bath had done them. Miss
Gleason, who did not bathe, was also not a talker. She kept a bright-
eyed reticence, but was apt to break out in rather enigmatical flashes,
which resolved the matter in hand into an abstraction, and left the
others with the feeling that she was a person of advanced ideas, but
that, while rejecting historical Christianity, she believed in a God of
Love. This Deity was said, upon closer analysis, to have proved to be a
God of Sentiment, and Miss Gleason was herself a hero-worshiper, or, more
strictly speaking, a heroine-worshiper. At present Dr. Breen was her
cult, and she was apt to lie in wait for her idol, to beam upon it with
her suggestive eyes, and evidently to expect it to say or do something
remarkable, but not to suffer anything like disillusion or disappointment
in any event. She would sometimes offer it suddenly a muddled depth of
sympathy in such phrases as, "Too bad!" or, "I don't see how you keep-
up?" and darkly insinuate that she appreciated all that Grace was doing.
She seemed to rejoice in keeping herself at a respectful distance, to
which she breathlessly retired, as she did now, after waylaying her at
the top of the stairs, and confidentially darting at her the words, "I'm
so glad you don't like scandal!"
After dinner the ladies tried to get a nap, but such of them as re-
appeared on the piazza later agreed that it was perfectly useless. They
tested every corner for a breeze, but the wind had fallen dead, and the
vast sweep of sea seemed to smoulder under the sun. "This is what Mr.
Barlow calls having it cooler," said Mrs. Alger.
"There are some clouds that look like thunderheads in the west," said
Mrs. Frost, returning from an excursion to the part of the piazza
commanding that quarter.
"Oh, it won't rain to-day," Mrs. Alger decided.
"I thought there was always a breeze at Jocelyn's," Mrs. Scott observed,
in the critical spirit of a recent arrival.
"There always is," the other explained, "except the first week you're
A little breath, scarcely more than a sentiment of breeze, made itself
felt. "I do believe the wind has changed," said Mrs. Frost. "It's
east." The others owned one by one that it was so, and she enjoyed the
merit of a discoverer; but her discovery was rapidly superseded. The
clouds mounted in the west, and there came a time when the ladies
disputed whether they had heard thunder or not: a faction contended for
the bowling alley, and another faction held for a wagon passing over the
bridge just before you reached Jocelyn's. But those who were faithful to
the theory of thunder carried the day by a sudden crash that broke over
the forest, and, dying slowly away among the low hills, left them deeply
"Some one," said Mrs. Alger, "ought to go for those children." On this
it appeared that there were two minds as to where the children were,--
whether on the beach or in the woods.
"Was n't that thunder, Grace?" asked Mrs. Breen, with the accent by which
she implicated her daughter in whatever happened.
"Yes," said Grace, from where she sat at her window, looking seaward, and
waiting tremulously for her mother's next question.
"Where is Mrs. Maynard?"
"She is n't back, yet."
"Then," said Mrs. Breen, "he really did expect rough weather."
"He must," returned Grace, in a guilty whisper.
"It's a pity," remarked her mother, "that you made them go."
"Yes." She rose, and, stretching herself far out of the window, searched
the inexorable expanse of sea. It had already darkened at the verge, and
the sails of some fishing-craft flecked a livid wall with their white,
but there was no small boat in sight.
"If anything happened to them," her mother continued, "I should feel
terribly for you."
"I should feel terribly for myself," Grace responded, with her eyes still
"Where do you think they went?"
"I did n't ask," said the girl. "I wouldn't," she added, in devotion to
the whole truth.
"Well, it is all of the same piece," said Mrs. Breen. Grace did not ask
what the piece was. She remained staring at the dark wall across the
sea, and spiritually confronting her own responsibility, no atom of which
she rejected. She held herself in every way responsible,--for doubting
that poor young fellow's word, and then for forcing that reluctant
creature to go with him, and forbidding by her fierce insistence any
attempt of his at explanation; she condemned herself to perpetual remorse
with even greater zeal than her mother would have sentenced her, and she
would not permit herself any respite when a little sail, which she knew
for theirs, blew round the point. It seemed to fly along just on the
hither side of that mural darkness, skilfully tacking to reach the end of
the-reef before the wall pushed it on the rocks. Suddenly, the long low
stretch of the reef broke into white foam, and then passed from sight
under the black wall, against which the little sail still flickered. The
girl fetched a long, silent breath. They were inside the reef, in
comparatively smooth water, and to her ignorance they were safe. But the
rain would be coming in another moment, and Mrs. Maynard would be
drenched; and Grace would be to blame for her death. She ran to the
closet, and pulled down her mother's India-rubber cloak and her own, and
fled out-of-doors, to be ready on the beach with the wrap, against their
landing. She met the other ladies on the stairs and in the hall, and
they clamored at her; but she glided through them like something in a
dream, and then she heard a shouting in her ear, and felt herself caught
and held up against the wind.
"Where in land be you goin', Miss Breen?"
Barlow, in a long, yellow oil-skin coat and sou'wester hat, kept pushing
her forward to the edge of the cliff, as he asked.
"I'm going down to meet them!" she screamed.
"Well, I hope you WILL meet 'em. But I guess you better go back to the
house. Hey? WUNT? Well; come along, then, if they ain't past doctorin'
by the time they git ashore! Pretty well wrapped up, any way!" he
roared; and she perceived that she had put on her waterproof and drawn
the hood over her head.
Those steps to the beach had made her giddy when she descended with
leisure for such dismay; but now, with the tempest flattening her against
the stair-case, and her gossamer clutching and clinging to everysurface,
and again twisting itself about her limbs, she clambered down as swiftly
and recklessly as Barlow himself, and followed over the beach beside the
men who were pulling a boat down the sand at a run.
"Let me get in!" she screamed. "I wish to go with you!"
"Take hold of the girl, Barlow!" shouted one of the men. "She's crazy."
He tumbled himself with four others into the boat, and they all struck
out together through the froth and swirl of the waves. She tried to free
herself from Barlow, so as to fling the waterproof into the boat. "Take
this, then. She'll be soaked through!"