Part 2 out of 5
Sally Carol smiled and dried her eyes on the tip of a
handkerchief protruding from his breast pocket.
"You don't feel depressed, do you, lover? Even when I cry I'm
happy here, and I get a sort of strength from it."
Hand in hand they turned and walked slowly away. Finding soft
grass she drew him down to a seat beside her with their backs
against the remnants of a low broken wall.
"Wish those three old women would clear out," he complained. "I
want to kiss you, Sally Carrol."
They waited impatiently for the three bent figures to move off,
and then she kissed him until the sky seemed to fade out and all
her smiles and tears to vanish in an ecstasy of eternal seconds.
Afterward they walked slowly back together, while on the corners
twilight played at somnolent black-and-white checkers with the
end of day.
"You'll be up about mid-January," he said, "and you've got to
stay a month at least. It'll be slick. There's a winter carnival
on, and if you've never really seen snow it'll be like fairy-land
to you. There'll be skating and skiing and tobogganing and
sleigh-riding, and all sorts of torchlight parades on snow-shoes.
They haven't had one for years, so they're gong to make it a
"Will I be cold, Harry?" she asked suddenly.
"You certainly won't. You may freeze your nose, but you won't be
shivery cold. It's hard and dry, you know."
"I guess I'm a summer child. I don't like any cold I've ever
She broke off and they were both silent for a minute.
"Sally Carol," he said very slowly, "what do you say to--March?"
"I say I love you."
All night in the Pullman it was very cold. She rang for the
porter to ask for another blanket, and when he couldn't give her
one she tried vainly, by squeezing down into the bottom of her
berth and doubling back the bedclothes, to snatch a few hours'
sleep. She wanted to look her best in the morning.
She rose at six and sliding uncomfortably into her clothes
stumbled up to the diner for a cup of coffee. The snow had
filtered into the vestibules and covered the door with a slippery
coating. It was intriguing this cold, it crept in everywhere.
Her breath was quite visible and she blew into the air with a
naïve enjoyment. Seated in the diner she stared out the window at
white hills and valleys and scattered pines whose every branch
was a green platter for a cold feast of snow. Sometimes a
solitary farmhouse would fly by, ugly and bleak and lone on the
white waste; and with each one she had an instant of chill
compassion for the souls shut in there waiting for spring.
As she left the diner and swayed back into the Pullman she
experienced a surging rush of energy and wondered if she was
feeling the bracing air of which Harry had spoken. This was the
North, the North--her land now!
"Then blow, ye winds, heighho!
A-roving I will go,"
she chanted exultantly to herself.
"What's 'at?" inquired the porter politely.
"I said: 'Brush me off.'"
The long wires of the telegraph poles doubled, two tracks ran up
beside the train--three--four; came a succession of white-roofed
houses, a glimpse of a trolley-car with frosted windows,
streets--more streets--the city.
She stood for a dazed moment in the frosty station before she saw
three fur-bundled figures descending upon her.
"There she is!"
"Oh, Sally Carrol!"
Sally Carrol dropped her bag.
A faintly familiar icy-cold face kissed her, and then she was in
a group of faces all apparently emitting great clouds of heavy
smoke; she was shaking hands. There were Gordon, a short, eager
man of thirty who looked like an amateur knocked-about model for
Harry, and his wife, Myra, a listless lady with flaxen hair under
a fur automobile cap. Almost immediately Sally Carrol thought of
her as vaguely Scandinavian. A cheerful chauffeur adopted her
bag, and amid ricochets of half-phrases, exclamations and
perfunctory listless "my dears" from Myra, they swept each other
from the station.
Then they were in a sedan bound through a crooked succession of
snowy streets where dozens of little boys were hitching sleds
behind grocery wagons and automobiles.
"Oh," cried Sally Carrol, "I want to do that! Can we Harry?"
"That's for kids. But we might---"
"It looks like such a circus!" she said regretfully.
Home was a rambling frame house set on a white lap of snow, and
there she met a big, gray-haired man of whom she approved, and a
lady who was like an egg, and who kissed her--these were Harry's
parents. There was a breathless indescribable hour crammed full
of self-sentences, hot water, bacon and eggs and confusion; and
after that she was alone with Harry in the library, asking him if
she dared smoke.
It was a large room with a Madonna over the fireplace and rows
upon rows of books in covers of light gold and dark gold and
shiny red. All the chairs had little lace squares where one's head
should rest, the couch was just comfortable, the books looked as
if they had been read--some--and Sally Carrol had an
instantaneous vision of the battered old library at home, with
her father's huge medical books, and the oil-paintings of her
three great-uncles, and the old couch that had been mended up for
forty-five years and was still luxurious to dream in. This room
struck her as being neither attractive nor particularly
otherwise. It was simply a room with a lot of fairly expensive
things in it that all looked about fifteen years old.
"What do you think of it up here?" demanded Harry eagerly. "Does
it surprise you? Is it what you expected I mean?"
"You are, Harry," she said quietly, and reached out her arms to
But after a brief kiss he seemed to extort enthusiasm from her.
"The town, I mean. Do you like it? Can you feel the pep in the
"Oh, Harry," she laughed, "you'll have to give me time. You can't
just fling questions at me."
She puffed at her cigarette with a sigh of contentment.
"One thing I want to ask you," he began rather apologetically;
"you Southerners put quite an emphasis on family, and all
that--not that it isn't quite all right, but you'll find it a
little different here. I mean--you'll notice a lot of things
that'll seem to you sort of vulgar display at first, Sally
Carrol; but just remember that this is a three-generation town.
Everybody has a father, and about half of us have grandfathers.
Back of that we don't go."
"Of course," she murmured.
"Our grandfathers, you see, founded the place, and a lot of them
had to take some pretty queer jobs while they were doing the
founding. For instance there's one woman who at present is about
the social model for the town; well, her father was the first
public ash man--things like that."
"Why," said Sally Carol, puzzled, "did you s'pose I was goin' to
make remarks about people?"
"Not at all," interrupted Harry, "and I'm not apologizing for any
one either. It's just that--well, a Southern girl came up here
last summer and said some unfortunate things, and--oh, I just
thought I'd tell you."
Sally Carrol felt suddenly indignant--as though she had been
unjustly spanked--but Harry evidently considered the subject
closed, for he went on with a great surge of enthusiasm.
"It's carnival time, you know. First in ten years. And there's an
ice palace they're building new that's the first they've had
since eighty-five. Built out of blocks of the clearest ice they
could find--on a tremendous scale."
She rose and walking to the window pushed aside the heavy Turkish
portières and looked out.
"Oh!" she cried suddenly. "There's two little boys makin' a snow
man! Harry, do you reckon I can go out an' help 'em?"
"You dream! Come here and kiss me."
She left the window rather reluctantly.
"I don't guess this is a very kissable climate, is it? I mean, it
makes you so you don't want to sit round, doesn't it?"
"We're not going to. I've got a vacation for the first week
you're here, and there's a dinner-dance to-night."
"Oh, Harry," she confessed, subsiding in a heap, half in his lap,
half in the pillows, "I sure do feel confused. I haven't got an
idea whether I'll like it or not, an' I don't know what people
expect, or anythin'. You'll have to tell me, honey."
"I'll tell you," he said softly, "if you'll just tell me you're
glad to be here."
"Glad--just awful glad!" she whispered, insinuating herself into
his arms in her own peculiar way. "Where you are is home for me,
And as she said this she had the feeling for almost the first
time in her life that she was acting a part.
That night, amid the gleaming candles of a dinner-party, where
the men seemed to do most of the talking while the girls sat in a
haughty and expensive aloofness, even Harry's presence on her
left failed to make her feel at home.
"They're a good-looking crowd, don't you think?" he demanded.
"Just look round. There's Spud Hubbard, tackle at Princeton last
year, and Junie Morton--he and the red-haired fellow next to him
were both Yale hockey captains; Junie was in my class. Why, the
best athletes in the world come from these States round here.
This is a man's country, I tell you. Look at John J. Fishburn!"
"Who's he?" asked Sally Carrol innocently.
"Don't you know?"
"I've heard the name."
"Greatest wheat man in the Northwest, and one of the greatest
financiers in the country."
She turned suddenly to a voice on her right.
"I guess they forget to introduce us. My name's Roger Patton."
"My name is Sally Carrol Happer," she said graciously.
"Yes, I know. Harry told me you were coming."
"You a relative?"
"No, I'm a professor."
"Oh," she laughed.
"At the university. You're from the South, aren't you?"
"Yes; Tarleton, Georgia."
She liked him immediately--a reddish-brown mustache under watery
blue eyes that had something in them that these other eyes
lacked, some quality of appreciation. They exchanged stray
sentences through dinner, and she made up her mind to see him
After coffee she was introduced to numerous good-looking young
men who danced with conscious precision and seemed to take it for
granted that she wanted to talk about nothing except Harry.
"Heavens," she thought, "They talk as if my being engaged made me
older than they are--as if I'd tell their mothers on them!"
In the South an engaged girl, even a young married woman,
expected the same amount of half-affectionate badinage and
flattery that would be accorded a débutante, but here all that
seemed banned. One young man after getting well started on the
subject of Sally Carrol's eyes and, how they had allured him ever
since she entered the room, went into a violent convulsion when
he found she was visiting the Bellamys--was Harry's fiancée. He
seemed to feel as though he had made some risqué and inexcusable
blunder, became immediately formal and left her at the first
She was rather glad when Roger Patton cut in on her and suggested
that they sit out a while.
"Well," he inquired, blinking cheerily, "how's Carmen from the
"Mighty fine. How's--how's Dangerous Dan McGrew? Sorry, but he's
the only Northerner I know much about."
He seemed to enjoy that.
"Of course," he confessed, "as a professor of literature I'm not
supposed to have read Dangerous Dan McGrew."
"Are you a native?"
"No, I'm a Philadelphian. Imported from Harvard to teach French.
But I've been here ten years."
"Nine years, three hundred an' sixty-four days longer than me."
"Like it here?"
"Uh-huh. Sure do!"
"Well, why not? Don't I look as if I were havin' a good time?"
"I saw you look out the window a minute ago--and shiver."
"Just my imagination," laughed Sally Carroll "I'm used to havin'
everythin' quiet outside an' sometimes I look out an' see a
flurry of snow an' it's just as if somethin' dead was movin'"
He nodded appreciatively.
"Ever been North before?"
"Spent two Julys in Asheville, North Carolina."
"Nice-looking crowd aren't they?" suggested Patton, indicating
the swirling floor.
Sally Carrol started. This had been Harry's remark.
"Sure are! They're--canine."
"I'm sorry; that sounded worse than I meant it. You see I always
think of people as feline or canine, irrespective of sex."
"Which are you?"
"I'm feline. So are you. So are most Southern men an' most of
these girls here."
"Harry's canine distinctly. All the men I've to-night seem to be
"What does canine imply? A certain conscious masculinity as
opposed to subtlety?"
"Reckon so. I never analyzed it--only I just look at people an'
say 'canine' or 'feline' right off. It's right absurd I guess."
"Not at all. I'm interested. I used to have a theory about these
people. I think they're freezing up."
"Well, they're growing' like Swedes--Ibsenesque, you know. Very
gradually getting gloomy and melancholy. It's these long winters.
Ever read Ibsen?"
She shook her head.
"Well, you find in his characters a certain brooding rigidity.
They're righteous, narrow, and cheerless, without infinite
possibilities for great sorrow or joy."
"Without smiles or tears?"
"Exactly. That's my theory. You see there are thousands of
Swedes up here. They come, I imagine, because the climate is very
much like their own, and there's been a gradual mingling.
There're probably not half a dozen here to-night, but--we've had
four Swedish governors. Am I boring you?"
"I'm mighty interested."
"Your future sister-in-law is half Swedish. Personally I like
her, but my theory is that Swedes react rather badly on us as a
whole. Scandinavians, you know, have the largest suicide rate in
"Why do you live here if it's so depressing?"
"Oh, it doesn't get me. I'm pretty well cloistered, and I suppose
books mean more than people to me anyway."
"But writers all speak about the South being tragic. You
know--Spanish señoritas, black hair and daggers an' haunting
He shook his head.
"No, the Northern races are the tragic races--they don't indulge
in the cheering luxury of tears."
Sally Carrol thought of her graveyard. She supposed that that was
vaguely what she had meant when she said it didn't depress her.
"The Italians are about the gayest people in the world--but it's
a dull subject," he broke off. "Anyway, I want to tell you
you're marrying a pretty fine man."
Sally Carrol was moved by an impulse of confidence.
"I know. I'm the sort of person who wants to be taken care of
after a certain point, and I feel sure I will be."
"Shall we dance? You know," he continued as they rose, "it's
encouraging to find a girl who knows what she's marrying for.
Nine-tenths of them think of it as a sort of walking into a
She laughed and liked him immensely.
Two hours later on the way home she nestled near Harry in the
"Oh, Harry," she whispered "it's so co-old!"
"But it's warm in here, daring girl."
"But outside it's cold; and oh, that howling wind!"
She buried her face deep in his fur coat and trembled
involuntarily as his cold lips kissed the tip of her ear.
The first week of her visit passed in a whirl. She had her
promised toboggan-ride at the back of an automobile through a
chill January twilight. Swathed in furs she put in a morning
tobogganing on the country-club hill; even tried skiing, to sail
through the air for a glorious moment and then land in a tangled
laughing bundle on a soft snow-drift. She liked all the winter
sports, except an afternoon spent snow-shoeing over a glaring
plain under pale yellow sunshine, but she soon realized that
these things were for children--that she was being humored and
that the enjoyment round her was only a reflection of her own.
At first the Bellamy family puzzled her. The men were reliable
and she liked them; to Mr. Bellamy especially, with his iron-gray
hair and energetic dignity, she took an immediate fancy, once
she found that he was born in Kentucky; this made of him a link
between the old life and the new. But toward the women she felt a
definite hostility. Myra, her future sister-in-law, seemed the
essence of spiritless conversationality. Her conversation was so
utterly devoid of personality that Sally Carrol, who came from a
country where a certain amount of charm and assurance could be
taken for granted in the women, was inclined to despise her.
"If those women aren't beautiful," she thought, "they're nothing.
They just fade out when you look at them. They're glorified
domestics. Men are the centre of every mixed group."
Lastly there was Mrs. Bellamy, whom Sally Carrol detested. The
first day's impression of an egg had been confirmed--an egg with
a cracked, veiny voice and such an ungracious dumpiness of
carriage that Sally Carrol felt that if she once fell she would
surely scramble. In addition, Mrs. Bellamy seemed to typify the
town in being innately hostile to strangers. She called Sally
Carrol "Sally," and could not be persuaded that the double name
was anything more than a tedious ridiculous nickname. To Sally
Carrol this shortening of her name was presenting her to the
public half clothed. She loved "Sally Carrol"; she loathed
"Sally." She knew also that Harry's mother disapproved of her
bobbed hair; and she had never dared smoke down-stairs after that
first day when Mrs. Bellamy had come into the library sniffing
Of all the men she met she preferred Roger Patton, who was a
frequent visitor at the house. He never again alluded to the
Ibsenesque tendency of the populace, but when he came in one day
and found her curled upon the sofa bent over "Peer Gynt" he
laughed and told her to forget what he'd said--that it was all
They had been walking homeward between mounds of high-piled snow
and under a sun which Sally Carrol scarcely recognized. They
passed a little girl done up in gray wool until she resembled a
small Teddy bear, and Sally Carrol could not resist a gasp of
"That little girl--did you see her face?"
"It was red as a little strawberry. Oh, she was cute!"
"Why, your own face is almost as red as that already! Everybody's
healthy here. We're out in the cold as soon as we're old enough
to walk. Wonderful climate!"
She looked at him and had to agree. He was mighty
healthy-looking; so was his brother. And she had noticed the new
red in her own cheeks that very morning.
Suddenly their glances were caught and held, and they stared for
a moment at the street-corner ahead of them. A man was standing
there, his knees bent, his eyes gazing upward with a tense
expression as though he were about to make a leap toward the
chilly sky. And then they both exploded into a shout of
laughter, for coming closer they discovered it had been a
ludicrous momentary illusion produced by the extreme bagginess of
the man's trousers.
"Reckon that's one on us," she laughed.
"He must be Southerner, judging by those trousers," suggested
Her surprised look must have irritated him.
"Those damn Southerners!"
Sally Carrol's eyes flashed.
"Don't call 'em that."
"I'm sorry, dear," said Harry, malignantly apologetic, "but you
know what I think of them. They're sort of--sort of
degenerates--not at all like the old Southerners. They've lived
so long down there with all the colored people that they've
gotten lazy and shiftless."
"Hush your mouth, Harry!" she cried angrily. "They're not! They
may be lazy--anybody would be in that climate--but they're my
best friends, an' I don't want to hear 'em criticised in any such
sweepin' way. Some of 'em are the finest men in the world."
"Oh, I know. They're all right when they come North to college,
but of all the hangdog, ill-dressed, slovenly lot I ever saw, a
bunch of small-town Southerners are the worst!"
Sally Carrol was clinching her gloved hands and biting her lip
"Why," continued Harry, if there was one in my class at New
Haven, and we all thought that at last we'd found the true type
of Southern aristocrat, but it turned out that he wasn't an
aristocrat at all--just the son of a Northern carpetbagger, who
owned about all the cotton round Mobile."
"A Southerner wouldn't talk the way you're talking now," she said
"They haven't the energy!"
"Or the somethin' else."
"I'm sorry Sally Carrol, but I've heard you say yourself that
you'd never marry---"
"That's quite different. I told you I wouldn't want to tie my
life to any of the boys that are round Tarleton now, but I never
made any sweepin' generalities."
They walked along in silence.
"I probably spread it on a bit thick Sally Carrol. I'm sorry."
She nodded but made no answer. Five minutes later as they stood
in the hallway she suddenly threw her arms round him.
"Oh, Harry," she cried, her eyes brimming with tears; "let's get
married next week. I'm afraid of having fusses like that. I'm
afraid, Harry. It wouldn't be that way if we were married."
But Harry, being in the wrong, was still irritated.
"That'd be idiotic. We decided on March."
The tears in Sally Carrol's eyes faded; her expression hardened
"Very well--I suppose I shouldn't have said that."
"Dear little nut!" he cried. "Come and kiss me and let's forget."
That very night at the end of a vaudeville performance the
orchestra played "Dixie" and Sally Carrol felt something stronger
and more enduring than her tears and smiles of the day brim up
inside her. She leaned forward gripping the arms of her chair
until her face grew crimson.
"Sort of get you dear?" whispered Harry.
But she did not hear him. To the limited throb of the violins and
the inspiring beat of the kettle-drums her own old ghosts were
marching by and on into the darkness, and as fifes whistled and
sighed in the low encore they seemed so nearly out of sight that
she could have waved good-by.
Away down South in Dixie!
Away down South in Dixie!"
It was a particularly cold night. A sudden thaw had nearly
cleared the streets the day before, but now they were traversed
again with a powdery wraith of loose snow that travelled in wavy
lines before the feet of the wind, and filled the lower air with
a fine-particled mist. There was no sky-- only a dark, ominous
tent that draped in the tops of the streets and was in reality a
vast approaching army of snowflakes--while over it all, chilling
away the comfort from the brown-and-green glow of lighted
windows and muffling the steady trot of the horse pulling their
sleigh, interminably washed the north wind. It was a dismal town
after all, she though, dismal.
Sometimes at night it had seemed to her as though no one lived
here--they had all gone long ago--leaving lighted houses to be
covered in time by tombing heaps of sleet. Oh, if there should be
snow on her grave! To be beneath great piles of it all winter
long, where even her headstone would be a light shadow against
light shadows. Her grave--a grave that should be flower-strewn
and washed with sun and rain.
She thought again of those isolated country houses that her train
had passed, and of the life there the long winter through--the
ceaseless glare through the windows, the crust forming on the
soft drifts of snow, finally the slow cheerless melting and the
harsh spring of which Roger Patton had told her. Her spring--to
lose it forever--with its lilacs and the lazy sweetness it
stirred in her heart. She was laying away that spring--afterward
she would lay away that sweetness.
With a gradual insistence the storm broke. Sally Carrol felt a
film of flakes melt quickly on her eyelashes, and Harry reached
over a furry arm and drew down her complicated flannel cap. Then
the small flakes came in skirmish-line, and the horse bent his
neck patiently as a transparency of white appeared momentarily on
"Oh, he's cold, Harry," she said quickly.
"Who? The horse? Oh, no, he isn't. He likes it!"
After another ten minutes they turned a corner and came in sight
of their destination. On a tall hill outlined in vivid glaring
green against the wintry sky stood the ice palace. It was three
stories in the air, with battlements and embrasures and narrow
icicled windows, and the innumerable electric lights inside made
a gorgeous transparency of the great central hall. Sally Carrol
clutched Harry's hand under the fur robe.
"It's beautiful!" he cried excitedly. "My golly, it's beautiful,
isn't it! They haven't had one here since eighty-five!"
Somehow the notion of there not having been one since eighty-five
oppressed her. Ice was a ghost, and this mansion of it was
surely peopled by those shades of the eighties, with pale faces
and blurred snow-filled hair.
"Come on, dear," said Harry.
She followed him out of the sleigh and waited while he hitched
the horse. A party of four--Gordon, Myra, Roger Patton, and
another girl-- drew up beside them with a mighty jingle of bells.
There were quite a crowd already, bundled in fur or sheepskin,
shouting and calling to each other as they moved through the
snow, which was now so thick that people could scarcely be
distinguished a few yards away.
"It's a hundred and seventy feet tall," Harry was saying to a
muffled figure beside him as they trudged toward the entrance;
"covers six thousand square yards."
"She caught snatches of conversation: "One main hall"--"walls
twenty to forty inches thick"--"and the ice cave has almost a
mile of--"--"this Canuck who built it---"
They found their way inside, and dazed by the magic of the great
crystal walls Sally Carrol found herself repeating over and over
two lines from "Kubla Khan":
"It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!"
In the great glittering cavern with the dark shut out she took a
seat on a wooded bench and the evening's oppression lifted. Harry
was right--it was beautiful; and her gaze travelled the smooth
surface of the walls, the blocks for which had been selected for
their purity and dearness to obtain this opalescent, translucent
"Look! Here we go--oh, boy! " cried Harry.
A band in a far corner struck up "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All
Here!" which echoed over to them in wild muddled acoustics, and
then the lights suddenly went out; silence seemed to flow down
the icy sides and sweep over them. Sally Carrol could still see
her white breath in the darkness, and a dim row of pale faces
over on the other side.
The music eased to a sighing complaint, and from outside drifted
in the full-throated remnant chant of the marching clubs. It grew
louder like some pæan of a viking tribe traversing an ancient
wild; it swelled--they were coming nearer; then a row of torches
appeared, and another and another, and keeping time with their
moccasined feet a long column of gray-mackinawed figures swept
in, snow-shoes slung at their shoulders, torches soaring and
flickering as their voice rose along the great walls.
The gray column ended and another followed, the light streaming
luridly this time over red toboggan caps and flaming crimson
mackinaws, and as they entered they took up the refrain; then
came a long platoon of blue and white, of green, of white, of
brown and yellow.
"Those white ones are the Wacouta Club," whispered Harry eagerly.
"Those are the men you've met round at dances."
The volume of the voices grew; the great cavern was a
phantasmagoria of torches waving in great banks of fire, of
colors and the rhythm of soft-leather steps. The leading column
turned and halted, platoon deploys in front of platoon until the
whole procession made a solid flag of flame, and then from
thousands of voices burst a mighty shout that filled the air like
a crash of thunder, and sent the torches wavering. It was
magnificent, it was tremendous! To Sally Carol it was the North
offering sacrifice on some mighty altar to the gray pagan God of
Snow. As the shout died the band struck up again and there came
more singing, and then long reverberating cheers by each club.
She sat very quiet listening while the staccato cries rent the
stillness; and then she started, for there was a volley of
explosion, and great clouds of smoke went up here and there
through the cavern--the flash-light photographers at work--and
the council was over. With the band at their head the clubs
formed in column once more, took up their chant, and began to
"Come on!" shouted Harry. "We want to see the labyrinths
down-stairs before they turn the lights off!"
They all rose and started toward the chute--Harry and Sally
Carrol in the lead, her little mitten buried in his big fur
gantlet. At the bottom of the chute was a long empty room of ice,
with the ceiling so low that they had to stoop--and their hands
were parted. Before she realized what he intended Harry Harry had
darted down one of the half-dozen glittering passages that
opened into the room and was only a vague receding blot against
the green shimmer.
"Harry!" she called.
"Come on!" he cried back.
She looked round the empty chamber; the rest of the party had
evidently decided to go home, were already outside somewhere in
the blundering snow. She hesitated and then darted in after
"Harry!" she shouted.
She had reached a turning-point thirty feet down; she heard a
faint muffled answer far to the left, and with a touch of panic
fled toward it. She passed another turning, two more yawning
No answer. She started to run straight forward, and then turned
like lightning and sped back the way she had come, enveloped in a
sudden icy terror.
She reached a turn--was it here?--took the left and came to what
should have been the outlet into the long, low room, but it was
only another glittering passage with darkness at the end. She
called again, but the walls gave back a flat, lifeless echo with
no reverberations. Retracing her steps she turned another corner,
this time following a wide passage. It was like the green lane
between the parted water of the Red Sea, like a damp vault
connecting empty tombs.
She slipped a little now as she walked, for ice had formed on the
bottom of her overshoes; she had to run her gloves along the
half-slippery, half-sticky walls to keep her balance.
Still no answer. The sound she made bounced mockingly down to the
end of the passage.
Then on an instant the lights went out, and she was in complete
darkness. She gave a small, frightened cry, and sank down into a
cold little heap on the ice. She felt her left knee do something
as she fell, but she scarcely noticed it as some deep terror far
greater than any fear of being lost settled upon her. She was
alone with this presence that came out of the North, the dreary
loneliness that rose from ice-bound whalers in the Arctic seas,
from smokeless, trackless wastes where were strewn the whitened
bones of adventure. It was an icy breath of death; it was rolling
down low across the land to clutch at her.
With a furious, despairing energy she rose again and started
blindly down the darkness. She must get out. She might be lost in
here for days, freeze to death and lie embedded in the ice like
corpses she had read of, kept perfectly preserved until the
melting of a glacier. Harry probably thought she had left with
the others--he had gone by now; no one would know until next day.
She reached pitifully for the wall. Forty inches thick, they had
said--forty inches thick!
On both sides of her along the walls she felt things creeping,
damp souls that haunted this palace, this town, this North.
"Oh, send somebody--send somebody!" she cried aloud.
Clark Darrow--he would understand; or Joe Ewing; she couldn't be
left here to wander forever--to be frozen, heart, body, and soul.
This her-- this Sally Carrol! Why, she was a happy thing. She
was a happy little girl. She liked warmth and summer and Dixie.
These things were foreign--foreign.
"You're not crying," something said aloud. "You'll never cry any
more. Your tears would just freeze; all tears freeze up here!"
She sprawled full length on the ice.
"Oh, God!" she faltered.
A long single file of minutes went by, and with a great weariness
she felt her eyes dosing. Then some one seemed to sit down near
her and take her face in warm, soft hands. She looked up
"Why it's Margery Lee" she crooned softly to herself. "I knew
you'd come." It really was Margery Lee, and she was just as Sally
Carrol had known she would be, with a young, white brow, and
wide welcoming eyes, and a hoop-skirt of some soft material that
was quite comforting to rest on.
It was getting darker now and darker--all those tombstones ought
to be repainted sure enough, only that would spoil 'em, of
course. Still, you ought to be able to see 'em.
Then after a succession of moments that went fast and then slow,
but seemed to be ultimately resolving themselves into a multitude
of blurred rays converging toward a pale-yellow sun, she heard a
great cracking noise break her new-found stillness.
It was the sun, it was a light; a torch, and a torch beyond that,
and another one, and voices; a face took flesh below the torch,
heavy arms raised her and she felt something on her cheek--it
felt wet. Some one had seized her and was rubbing her face with
snow. How ridiculous--with snow!
"Sally Carrol! Sally Carrol!"
It was Dangerous Dan McGrew; and two other faces she didn't know.
"Child, child! We've been looking for you two hours! Harry's
Things came rushing back into place--the singing, the torches,
the great shout of the marching clubs. She squirmed in Patton's
arms and gave a long low cry.
"Oh, I want to get out of here! I'm going back home. Take me
home"---her voice rose to a scream that sent a chill to Harry's
heart as he came racing down the next passage--"to-morrow!" she
cried with delirious, unstrained passion--"To-morrow! To-morrow!
The wealth of golden sunlight poured a quite enervating yet oddly
comforting heat over the house where day long it faced the dusty
stretch of road. Two birds were making a great to-do in a cool
spot found among the branches of a tree next door, and down the
street a colored woman was announcing herself melodiously as a
purveyor of strawberries. It was April afternoon.
Sally Carrol Happer, resting her chin on her arm, and her arm on
an old window-seat, gazed sleepily down over the spangled dust
whence the heat waves were rising for the first time this spring.
She was watching a very ancient Ford turn a perilous corner and
rattle and groan to a jolting stop at the end of the walk. See
made no sound and in a minute a strident familiar whistle rent
the air. Sally Carrol smiled and blinked.
A head appeared tortuously from under the car-top below.
"Tain't mawnin', Sally Carrol."
"Sure enough!" she said in affected surprise. "I guess maybe
"What you doin'?"
"Eatin' a green peach. 'Spect to die any minute."
Clark twisted himself a last impossible notch to get a view of
"Water's warm as a kettla steam, Sally Carol. Wanta go swimmin'?"
"Hate to move," sighed Sally Carol lazily, "but I reckon so."
Head and Shoulders
In 1915 Horace Tarbox was thirteen years old. In that year he
took the examinations for entrance to Princeton University and
received the Grade A--excellent--in Cæsar, Cicero, Vergil,
Xenophon, Homer, Algebra, Plane Geometry, Solid Geometry, and
Two years later while George M. Cohan was composing "Over There,"
Horace was leading the sophomore class by several lengths and
digging out theses on "The Syllogism as an Obsolete Scholastic
Form," and during the battle of Château-Thierry he was sitting at
his desk deciding whether or not to wait until his seventeenth
birthday before beginning his series of essays on "The Pragmatic
Bias of the New Realists."
After a while some newsboy told him that the war was over, and he
was glad, because it meant that Peat Brothers, publishers, would
get out their new edition of "Spinoza's Improvement of the
Understanding." Wars were all very well in their way, made young
men self-reliant or something but Horace felt that he could never
forgive the President for allowing a brass band to play under
his window the night of the false armistice, causing him to leave
three important sentences out of his thesis on "German
The next year he went up to Yale to take his degree as Master of
He was seventeen then, tall and slender, with near-sighted gray
eyes and an air of keeping himself utterly detached from the mere
words he let drop.
"I never feel as though I'm talking to him," expostulated
Professor Dillinger to a sympathetic colleague. "He makes me feel
as though I were talking to his representative. I always expect
him to say: 'Well, I'll ask myself and find out.'"
And then, just as nonchalantly as though Horace Tarbox had been
Mr. Beef the butcher or Mr. Hat the haberdasher, life reached in,
seized him, handled him, stretched him, and unrolled him like a
piece of Irish lace on a Saturday-afternoon bargain-counter.
To move in the literary fashion I should say that this was all
because when way back in colonial days the hardy pioneers had
come to a bald place in Connecticut and asked of each other,
"Now, what shall we build here?" the hardiest one among 'em had
answered: "Let's build a town where theatrical managers can try
out musical comedies!" How afterward they founded Yale College
there, to try the musical comedies on, is a story every one
knows. At any rate one December, "Home James" opened at the
Shubert, and all the students encored Marcia Meadow, who sang a
song about the Blundering Blimp in the first act and did a shaky,
shivery, celebrated dance in the last.
Marcia was nineteen. She didn't have wings, but audiences agreed
generally that she didn't need them. She was a blonde by natural
pigment, and she wore no paint on the streets at high noon.
Outside of that she was no better than most women.
It was Charlie Moon who promised her five thousand Pall Malls if
she would pay a call on Horace Tarbox, prodigy extraordinary.
Charlie was a senior in Sheffield, and he and Horace were first
cousins. They liked and pitied each other.
Horace had been particularly busy that night. The failure of the
Frenchman Laurier to appreciate the significance of the new
realists was preying on his mind. In fact, his only reaction to a
low, clear-cut rap at his study was to make him speculate as to
whether any rap would have actual existence without an ear there
to hear it. He fancied he was verging more and more toward
pragmatism. But at that moment, though he did not know it, he was
verging with astounding rapidity toward something quite
The rap sounded--three seconds leaked by--the rap sounded.
"Come in," muttered Horace automatically.
He heard the door open and then close, but, bent over his book in
the big armchair before the fire, he did not look up.
"Leave it on the bed in the other room," he said absently.
"Leave what on the bed in the other room?"
Marcia Meadow had to talk her songs, but her speaking voice was
like byplay on a harp.
Horace stirred impatiently in his chair.
"Why can't you?"
"Why, because I haven't got it."
"Hm!" he replied testily. "Suppose you go back and get it."
Across the fire from Horace was another easychair. He was
accustomed to change to it in the course of an evening by way of
exercise and variety. One chair he called Berkeley, the other he
called Hume. He suddenly heard a sound as of a rustling,
diaphanous form sinking into Hume. He glanced up.
"Well," said Marcia with the sweet smile she used in Act Two
("Oh, so the Duke liked my dancing!") "Well, Omar Khayyam, here I
am beside you singing in the wilderness."
Horace stared at her dazedly. The momentary suspicion came to him
that she existed there only as a phantom of his imagination.
Women didn't come into men's rooms and sink into men's Humes.
Women brought laundry and took your seat in the street-car and
married you later on when you were old enough to know fetters.
This woman had clearly materialized out of Hume. The very froth
of her brown gauzy dress was art emanation from Hume's leather
arm there! If he looked long enough he would see Hume right
through her and then be would be alone again in the room. He
passed his fist across his eyes. He really must take up those
trapeze exercises again.
"For Pete's sake, don't look so critical!" objected the emanation
pleasantly. "I feel as if you were going to wish me away with
that patent dome of yours. And then there wouldn't be anything
left of me except my shadow in your eyes."
Horace coughed. Coughing was one of his two gestures. When he
talked you forgot he had a body at all. It was like hearing a
phonograph record by a singer who had been dead a long time.
"What do you want?" he asked.
"I want them letters," whined Marcia melodramatically--"them
letters of mine you bought from my grandsire in 1881."
"I haven't got your letters," he said evenly. "I am only
seventeen years old. My father was not born until March 3, 1879.
You evidently have me confused with some one else."
"You're only seventeen?" repeated March suspiciously.
"I knew a girl," said Marcia reminiscently, "who went on the
ten-twenty-thirty when she was sixteen. She was so stuck on
herself that she could never say 'sixteen' without putting the
'only' before it. We got to calling her 'Only Jessie.' And she's
just where she was when she started--only worse. 'Only' is a bad
habit, Omar--it sounds like an alibi."
"My name is not Omar."
"I know," agreed Marcia, nodding--"your name's Horace. I just
call you Omar because you remind me of a smoked cigarette."
"And I haven't your letters. I doubt if I've ever met your
grandfather. In fact, I think it very improbable that you
yourself were alive in 1881."
Marcia stared at him in wonder.
"Me--1881? Why sure! I was second-line stuff when the Florodora
Sextette was still in the convent. I was the original nurse to
Mrs. Sol Smith's Juliette. Why, Omar, I was a canteen singer
during the War of 1812."
Horace's mind made a sudden successful leap, and he grinned.
"Did Charlie Moon put you up to this?"
Marcia regarded him inscrutably.
"Who's Charlie Moon? "
"Small--wide nostrils--big ears."
She grew several inches and sniffed.
"I'm not in the habit of noticing my friends' nostrils.
"Then it was Charlie?"
Marcia bit her lip--and then yawned. "Oh, let's change the
subject, Omar. I'll pull a snore in this chair in a minute."
"Yes," replied Horace gravely, "Hume has often been considered
"Who's your friend--and will he die?"
Then of a sudden Horace Tarbox rose slenderly and began to pace
the room with his hands in his pockets. This was his other
"I don't care for this," he said as if he were talking to
himself--"at all. Not that I mind your being here--I don't.
You're quite a pretty little thing, but I don't like Charlie
Moon's sending you up here. Am I a laboratory experiment on which
the janitors as well as the chemists can make experiments? Is my
intellectual development humorous in any way? Do I look like the
pictures of the little Boston boy in the comic magazines? Has
that callow ass, Moon, with his eternal tales about his week in
Paris, any right to---"
"No," interrupted Marcia emphatically. "And you're a sweet boy.
Come here and kiss me."
Horace stopped quickly in front of her.
"Why do you want me to kiss you?" he asked intently, "Do you just
go round kissing people?"
"Why, yes," admitted Marcia, unruffled. "'At's all life is. Just
going round kissing people."
"Well," replied Horace emphatically, "I must say your ideas are
horribly garbled! In the first place life isn't just that, and in
the second place. I won't kiss you. It might get to be a habit
and I can't get rid of habits. This year I've got in the habit of
lolling in bed until seven-thirty---"
Marcia nodded understandingly.
"Do you ever have any fun?" she asked.
"What do you mean by fun?"
"See here," said Marcia sternly, "I like you, Omar, but I wish
you'd talk as if you had a line on what you were saying. You
sound as if you were gargling a lot of words in your mouth and
lost a bet every time you spilled a few. I asked you if you ever
had any fun."
Horace shook his head.
"Later, perhaps," he answered. "You see I'm a plan. I'm an
experiment. I don't say that I don't get tired of it sometimes--I
do. Yet--oh, I can't explain! But what you and Charlie Moon call
fun wouldn't be fun to me."
Horace stared at her, started to speak and then, changing his
mind, resumed his walk. After an unsuccessful attempt to
determine whether or not he was looking at her Marcia smiled at
"If I do, will you promise to tell Charlie Moon that I wasn't
"Very well, then. Here's my history: I was a 'why' child. I
wanted to see the wheels go round. My father was a young
economics professor at Princeton. He brought me up on the system
of answering every question I asked him to the best of his
ability. My response to that gave him the idea of making an
experiment in precocity. To aid in the massacre I had ear
trouble--seven operations between the age of nine and twelve. Of
course this kept me apart from other boys and made me ripe for
forcing. Anyway, while my generation was laboring through Uncle
Remus I was honestly enjoying Catullus in the original.
"I passed off my college examinations when I was thirteen because
I couldn't help it. My chief associates were professors, and I
took a tremendous pride in knowing that I had a fine
intelligence, for though I was unusually gifted I was not
abnormal in other ways. When I was sixteen I got tired of being a
freak; I decided that some one had made a bad mistake. Still as
I'd gone that far I concluded to finish it up by taking my degree
of Master of Arts. My chief interest in life is the study of
modern philosophy. I am a realist of the School of Anton
Laurier--with Bergsonian trimmings--and I'll be eighteen years
old in two months. That's all."
"Whew!" exclaimed Marcia. "That's enough! You do a neat job with
the parts of speech."
"No, you haven't kissed me."
"It's not in my programme," demurred Horace. "Understand that I
don't pretend to be above physical things. They have their place,
"Oh, don't be so darned reasonable!"
"I can't help it."
"I hate these slot-machine people."
"I assure you I---" began Horace.
"Oh shut up!"
"My own rationality---"
"I didn't say anything about your nationality. You're Amuricun,
"Well, that's O.K. with me. I got a notion I want to see you do
something that isn't in your highbrow programme. I want to see if
a what-ch-call-em with Brazilian trimmings--that thing you said
you were--can be a little human."
Horace shook his head again.
"I won't kiss you."
"My life is blighted," muttered Marcia tragically. "I'm a beaten
woman. I'll go through life without ever having a kiss with
Brazilian trimmings." She sighed. "Anyways, Omar, will you come
and see my show?"
"I'm a wicked actress from 'Home James'!"
"Yes--at a stretch. One of the characters is a Brazilian
rice-planter. That might interest you."
"I saw 'The Bohemian Girl' once," reflected Horace aloud. "I
enjoyed it--to some extent---"
"Then you'll come?"
"Oh, I know--you've got to run down to Brazil for the week-end."
"Not at all. I'd be delighted to come---"
Marcia clapped her hands.
"Goodyforyou! I'll mail you a ticket--Thursday night?"
"Good! Thursday night it is."
She stood up and walking close to him laid both hands on his
"I like you, Omar. I'm sorry I tried to kid you. I thought you'd
be sort of frozen, but you're a nice boy."
He eyed her sardonically.
"I'm several thousand generations older than you are."
"You carry your age well."
They shook hands gravely.
"My name's Marcia Meadow," she said emphatically. "'Member it--
Marcia Meadow. And I won't tell Charlie Moon you were in."
An instant later as she was skimming down the last flight of
stairs three at a time she heard a voice call over the upper
banister: "Oh, say---"
She stopped and looked up--made out a vague form leaning over.
"Oh, say!" called the prodigy again. "Can you hear me?"
"Here's your connection Omar."
"I hope I haven't given you the impression that I consider
kissing intrinsically irrational."
"Impression? Why, you didn't even give me the kiss! Never
Two doors near her opened curiously at the sound of a feminine
voice. A tentative cough sounded from above. Gathering her
skirts, Marcia dived wildly down the last flight, and was
swallowed up in the murky Connecticut air outside.
Up-stairs Horace paced the floor of his study. From time to time
he glanced toward Berkeley waiting there in suave dark-red
reputability, an open book lying suggestively on his cushions.
And then he found that his circuit of the floor was bringing him
each time nearer to Hume. There was something about Hume that was
strangely and inexpressibly different. The diaphanous form still
seemed hovering near, and had Horace sat there he would have
felt as if he were sitting on a lady's lap. And though Horace
couldn't have named the quality of difference, there was such a
quality--quite intangible to the speculative mind, but real,
nevertheless. Hume was radiating something that in all the two
hundred years of his influence he had never radiated before.
Hume was radiating attar of roses.
On Thursday night Horace Tarbox sat in an aisle seat in the fifth
row and witnessed "Home James." Oddly enough he found that he
was enjoying himself. The cynical students near him were annoyed
at his audible appreciation of time-honored jokes in the
Hammerstein tradition. But Horace was waiting with anxiety for
Marcia Meadow singing her song about a Jazz-bound Blundering
Blimp. When she did appear, radiant under a floppity flower-faced
hat, a warm glow settled over him, and when the song was over he
did not join in the storm of applause. He felt somewhat numb.
In the intermission after the second act an usher materialized
beside him, demanded to know if he were Mr. Tarbox, and then
handed him a note written in a round adolescent band. Horace read
it in some confusion, while the usher lingered with withering
patience in the aisle.
"Dear 0mar: After the show I always grow an awful hunger. If you
want to satisfy it for me in the Taft Grill just communicate your
answer to the big-timber guide that brought this and oblige.
"Tell her,"--he coughed--"tell her that it will be quite all
right. I'll meet her in front of the theatre."
The big-timber guide smiled arrogantly.
"I giss she meant for you to come roun' t' the stage door."
"Where--where is it?"
"Ou'side. Tunayulef. Down ee alley."
"Ou'side. Turn to y' left! Down ee alley!"
The arrogant person withdrew. A freshman behind Horace snickered.
Then half an hour later, sitting in the Taft Grill opposite the
hair that was yellow by natural pigment, the prodigy was saying
an odd thing.
"Do you have to do that dance in the last act?" he was asking
earnestly--"I mean, would they dismiss you if you refused to do it?"
"It's fun to do it. I like to do it."
And then Horace came out with a FAUX PAS.
"I should think you'd detest it," he remarked succinctly. "The
people behind me were making remarks about your bosom."
Marcia blushed fiery red.
"I can't help that," she said quickly. "The dance to me is only
a sort of acrobatic stunt. Lord, it's hard enough to do! I rub
liniment into my shoulders for an hour every night."
"Do you have--fun while you're on the stage?"
"Uh-huh--sure! I got in the habit of having people look at me,
Omar, and I like it."
"Hm!" Horace sank into a brownish study.
"How's the Brazilian trimmings?"
"Hm!" repeated Horace, and then after a pause: "Where does the
play go from here?"
"For how long?"
"All depends. Winter--maybe."
"Coming up to lay eyes on me, Omar, or aren't you int'rested?
Not as nice here, is it, as it was up in your room? I wish we
was there now."
"I feel idiotic in this place," confessed Horace, looking round
"Too bad! We got along pretty well."
At this he looked suddenly so melancholy that she changed her
tone, and reaching over patted his hand.
"Ever take an actress out to supper before?"
"No," said Horace miserably, "and I never will again. I don't
know why I came to-night. Here under all these lights and with
all these people laughing and chattering I feel completely out
of my sphere. I don't know what to talk to you about."
"We'll talk about me. We talked about you last time."
"Well, my name really is Meadow, but my first name isn't Marcia--
it's Veronica. I'm nineteen. Question--how did the girl make
her leap to the footlights? Answer--she was born in Passaic, New
Jersey, and up to a year ago she got the right to breathe by
pushing Nabiscoes in Marcel's tea-room in Trenton. She started
going with a guy named Robbins, a singer in the Trent House
cabaret, and he got her to try a song and dance with him one
evening. In a month we were filling the supper-room every night.
Then we went to New York with meet-my-friend letters thick as a
pile of napkins.
"In two days we landed a job at Divinerries', and I learned to
shimmy from a kid at the Palais Royal. We stayed at Divinerries'
six months until one night Peter Boyce Wendell, the columnist,
ate his milk-toast there. Next morning a poem about Marvellous
Marcia came out in his newspaper, and within two days I had
three vaudeville offers and a chance at the Midnight Frolic. I
wrote Wendell a thank-you letter, and he printed it in his
column--said that the style was like Carlyle's, only more
rugged and that I ought to quit dancing and do North American
literature. This got me a coupla more vaudeville offers and a
chance as an ingénue in a regular show. I took it--and here I
When she finished they sat for a moment in silence she draping
the last skeins of a Welsh rabbit on her fork and waiting for
him to speak.
"Let's get out of here," he said suddenly.
Marcia's eyes hardened.
"What's the idea? Am I making you sick?"
"No, but I don't like it here. I don't like to be sitting here
Without another word Marcia signalled for the waiter.
"What's the check?" she demanded briskly "My part--the rabbit
and the ginger ale."
Horace watched blankly as the waiter figured it.
"See here," he began, "I intended to pay for yours too. You're
With a half-sigh Marcia rose from the table and walked from the
room. Horace, his face a document in bewilderment, laid a bill
down and followed her out, up the stairs and into the lobby. He
overtook her in front of the elevator and they faced each other.
"See here," he repeated "You're my guest. Have I said something to
After an instant of wonder Marcia's eyes softened.
"You're a rude fella!" she said slowly. "Don't you know you're
"I can't help it," said Horace with a directness she found quite
disarming. "You know I like you."
"You said you didn't like being with me."
"I didn't like it."
"Why not?" Fire blazed suddenly from the gray forests of his
"Because I didn't. I've formed the habit of liking you. I've
been thinking of nothing much else for two days."
"Well, if you---"
"Wait a minute," he interrupted. "I've got something to say. It's
this: in six weeks I'll be eighteen years old. When I'm
eighteen years old I'm coming up to New York to see you. Is
there some place in New York where we can go and not have a lot
of people in the room?"
"Sure!" smiled Marcia. "You can come up to my 'partment. Sleep
on the couch if you want to."
"I can't sleep on couches," he said shortly. "But I want to talk
"Why, sure," repeated Marcia. "in my 'partment."
In his excitement Horace put his hands in his pockets.
"All right--just so I can see you alone. I want to talk to you
as we talked up in my room."
"Honey boy," cried Marcia, laughing, "is it that you want to kiss
"Yes," Horace almost shouted. "I'll kiss you if you want me to."
The elevator man was looking at them reproachfully. Marcia edged
toward the grated door.
"I'll drop you a post-card," she said.
Horace's eyes were quite wild.
"Send me a post-card! I'll come up any time after January first.
I'll be eighteen then."
And as she stepped into the elevator he coughed enigmatically,
yet with a vague challenge, at the calling, and walked quickly
He was there again. She saw him when she took her first glance
at the restless Manhattan audience--down in the front row with
his head bent a bit forward and his gray eyes fixed on her. And
she knew that to him they were alone together in a world where
the high-rouged row of ballet faces and the massed whines of the
violins were as imperceivable as powder on a marble Venus. An
instinctive defiance rose within her.
"Silly boy!" she said to herself hurriedly, and she didn't take
"What do they expect for a hundred a week--perpetual motion?"
she grumbled to herself in the wings.
"What's the trouble? Marcia?"
"Guy I don't like down in front."
During the last act as she waited for her specialty she had an
odd attack of stage fright. She had never sent Horace the
promised post-card. Last night she had pretended not to see him--
had hurried from the theatre immediately after her dance to
pass a sleepless night in her apartment, thinking--as she had
so often in the last month--of his pale, rather intent face, his
slim, boyish fore, the merciless, unworldly abstraction that
made him charming to her.
And now that he had come she felt vaguely sorry--as though an
unwonted responsibility was being forced on her.
"Infant prodigy!" she said aloud.
"What?" demanded the negro comedian standing beside her.
"Nothing--just talking about myself."
On the stage she felt better. This was her dance--and she
always felt that the way she did it wasn't suggestive any more
than to some men every pretty girl is suggestive. She made it
"Uptown, downtown, jelly on a spoon,
After sundown shiver by the moon."
He was not watching her now. She saw that clearly. He was looking
very deliberately at a castle on the back drop, wearing that
expression he had worn in the Taft Grill. A wave of exasperation
swept over her--he was criticising her.
"That's the vibration that thrills me,
Funny how affection fi-lls me
Unconquerable revulsion seized her. She was suddenly and horribly
conscious of her audience as she had never been since her first
appearance. Was that a leer on a pallid face in the front row, a
droop of disgust on one young girl's mouth? These shoulders of
hers--these shoulders shaking--were they hers? Were they real?
Surely shoulders weren't made for this!
"Then--you'll see at a glance
"I'll need some funeral ushers with St. Vitus dance
At the end of the world I'll---"
The bassoon and two cellos crashed into a final chord. She paused
and poised a moment on her toes with every muscle tense, her
young face looking out dully at the audience in what one young
girl afterward called "such a curious, puzzled look," and then
without bowing rushed from the stage. Into the dressing-room she
sped, kicked out of one dress and into another, and caught a taxi
Her apartment was very warm--small, it was, with a row of
professional pictures and sets of Kipling and O. Henry which she
had bought once from a blue-eyed agent and read occasionally. And
there were several chairs which matched, but were none of them
comfortable, and a pink-shaded lamp with blackbirds painted on it
and an atmosphere of other stifled pink throughout. There were
nice things in it--nice things unrelentingly hostile to each
other, offspring of a vicarious, impatient taste acting in stray
moments. The worst was typified by a great picture framed in oak
bark of Passaic as seen from the Erie Railroad--altogether a
frantic, oddly extravagant, oddly penurious attempt to make a
cheerful room. Marcia knew it was a failure.
Into this room came the prodigy and took her two hands awkwardly.
"I followed you this time," he said.
"I want you to marry me," he said.
Her arms went out to him. She kissed his mouth with a sort of
"I love you," he said.
She kissed him again and then with a little sigh flung herself
into an armchair and half lay there, shaken with absurd laughter.
"Why, you infant prodigy!" she cried.
"Very well, call me that if you want to. I once told you that I
was ten thousand years older than you--I am."
She laughed again.
"I don't like to be disapproved of."
"No one's ever going to disapprove of you again."
"Omar," she asked, "why do you want to marry me?"
The prodigy rose and put his hands in his pockets.
"Because I love you, Marcia Meadow."
And then she stopped calling him Omar.
"Dear boy," she said, "you know I sort of love you. There's
something about you--I can't tell what--that just puts my heart
through the wringer every time I'm round you. But honey--" She
"But lots of things. But you're only just eighteen, and I'm
"Nonsense!" he interrupted. "Put it this way--that I'm in my
nineteenth year and you're nineteen. That makes us pretty
close--without counting that other ten thousand years I
"But there are some more 'buts.' Your people---
"My people!" exclaimed the prodigy ferociously. "My people tried
to make a monstrosity out of me." His face grew quite crimson at
the enormity of what he was going to say. "My people can go way
back and sit down!"
"My heavens!" cried Marcia in alarm. "All that? On tacks, I
"Tacks--yes," he agreed wildly--"on anything. The more I think of
how they allowed me to become a little dried-up mummy---"
"What makes you thank you're that?" asked Marcia quietly--"me?"
"Yes. Every person I've met on the streets since I met you has
made me jealous because they knew what love was before I did. I
used to call it the 'sex impulse.' Heavens!"
"There's more 'buts,'" said Marcia
"What are they?"
"How could we live?"
"I'll make a living."
"You're in college."
"Do you think I care anything about taking a Master of Arts
"You want to be Master of Me, hey?"
"Yes! What? I mean, no!"
Marcia laughed, and crossing swiftly over sat in his lap. He put
his arm round her wildly and implanted the vestige of a kiss
somewhere near her neck.
"There's something white about you," mused Marcia "but it doesn't
sound very logical."
"Oh, don't be so darned reasonable!"
"I can't help it," said Marcia.
"I hate these slot-machine people!"
"Oh, shut up!"
And as Marcia couldn't talk through her ears she had to.
Horace and Marcia were married early in February. The sensation
in academic circles both at Yale and Princeton was tremendous.
Horace Tarbox, who at fourteen had been played up in the Sunday
magazines sections of metropolitan newspapers, was throwing over
his career, his chance of being a world authority on American
philosophy, by marrying a chorus girl--they made Marcia a chorus
girl. But like all modern stories it was a four-and-a-half-day
They took a flat in Harlem. After two weeks' search, during which
his idea of the value of academic knowledge faded unmercifully,
Horace took a position as clerk with a South American export
company--some one had told him that exporting was the coming
thing. Marcia was to stay in her show for a few months--anyway
until he got on his feet. He was getting a hundred and
twenty-five to start with, and though of course they told him it
was only a question of months until he would be earning double
that, Marcia refused even to consider giving up the hundred and
fifty a week that she was getting at the time.
"We'll call ourselves Head and Shoulders, dear," she said softly,
"and the shoulders'll have to keep shaking a little longer until
the old head gets started."
"I hate it," he objected gloomily.
"Well," she replied emphatically, "Your salary wouldn't keep us
in a tenement. Don't think I want to be public--I don't. I want
to be yours. But I'd be a half-wit to sit in one room and count
the sunflowers on the wall-paper while I waited for you. When you
pull down three hundred a month I'll quit."
And much as it hurt his pride, Horace had to admit that hers was
the wiser course.
March mellowed into April. May read a gorgeous riot act to the
parks and waters of Manhatten, and they were very happy. Horace,
who had no habits whatsoever--he had never had time to form
any--proved the most adaptable of husbands, and as Marcia
entirely lacked opinions on the subjects that engrossed him there
were very few jottings and bumping. Their minds moved in
different spheres. Marcia acted as practical factotum, and Horace
lived either in his old world of abstract ideas or in a sort of
triumphantly earthy worship and adoration of his wife. She was a
continual source of astonishment to him--the freshness and
originality of her mind, her dynamic, clear-headed energy, and
her unfailing good humor.
And Marcia's co-workers in the nine-o'clock show, whither she had
transferred her talents, were impressed with her tremendous
pride in her husband's mental powers. Horace they knew only as a
very slim, tight-lipped, and immature-looking young man, who
waited every night to take her home.
"Horace," said Marcia one evening when she met him as usual at
eleven, "you looked like a ghost standing there against the
street lights. You losing weight?"
He shook his head vaguely.
"I don't know. They raised me to a hundred and thirty-five
dollars to-day, and---"
"I don't care," said Marcia severely. "You're killing yourself
working at night. You read those big books on economy---"
"Economics," corrected Horace.
"Well, you read 'em every night long after I'm asleep. And you're
getting all stooped over like you were before we were married."
"But, Marcia, I've got to---"
"No, you haven't dear. I guess I'm running this shop for the
present, and I won't let my fella ruin his health and eyes. You
got to get some exercise."
"I do. Every morning I---"
"Oh, I know! But those dumb-bells of yours wouldn't give a
consumptive two degrees of fever. I mean real exercise. You've
got to join a gymnasium. 'Member you told me you were such a
trick gymnast once that they tried to get you out for the team in
college and they couldn't because you had a standing date with
"I used to enjoy it," mused Horace, "but it would take up too
much time now."
"All right," said Marcia. "I'll make a bargain with you. You join
a gym and I'll read one of those books from the brown row of
"'Pepys' Diary'? Why, that ought to be enjoyable. He's very
"Not for me--he isn't. It'll be like digesting plate glass. But
you been telling me how much it'd broaden my lookout. Well, you
go to a gym three nights a week and I'll take one big dose of
"Come on, now! You do some giant swings for me and I'll chase
some culture for you."
So Horace finally consented, and all through a baking summer he
spent three and sometimes four evenings a week experimenting on
the trapeze in Skipper's Gymnasium. And in August he admitted to
Marcia that it made him capable of more mental work during the
"MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO," he said.
"Don't believe in it," replied Marcia. "I tried one of those
patent medicines once and they're all bunk. You stick to
One night in early September while he was going through one of
his contortions on the rings in the nearly deserted room he was
addressed by a meditative fat man whom he had noticed watching
him for several nights.
"Say, lad, do that stunt you were doin' last night."
Horace grinned at him from his perch.
"I invented it," he said. "I got the idea from the fourth
proposition of Euclid."
"What circus he with?"
"Well, he must of broke his neck doin' that stunt. I set here
last night thinkin' sure you was goin' to break yours."
"Like this!" said Horace, and swinging onto the trapeze he did
"Don't it kill your neck an' shoulder muscles?"
"It did at first, but inside of a week I wrote the QUOD ERAT
DEMONSTRANDUM on it."
Horace swung idly on the trapeze.
"Ever think of takin' it up professionally?" asked the fat man.
"Good money in it if you're willin' to do stunts like 'at an' can
get away with it."
"Here's another," chirped Horace eagerly, and the fat man's mouth
dropped suddenly agape as he watched this pink-jerseyed
Prometheus again defy the gods and Isaac Newton.
The night following this encounter Horace got home from work to
find a rather pale Marcia stretched out on the sofa waiting for
"I fainted twice to-day," she began without preliminaries.
"Yep. You see baby's due in four months now. Doctor says I ought
to have quit dancing two weeks ago."
Horace sat down and thought it over.
"I'm glad of course," he said pensively--"I mean glad that we're
going to have a baby. But this means a lot of expense."
"I've got two hundred and fifty in the bank," said Marcia
hopefully, "and two weeks' pay coming."
Horace computed quickly.
"Inducing my salary, that'll give us nearly fourteen hundred for
the next six months."
Marcia looked blue.
"That all? Course I can get a job singing somewhere this month.
And I can go to work again in March."
"Of course nothing!" said Horace gruffly. "You'll stay right
here. Let's see now--there'll be doctor's bills and a nurse,
besides the maid: We've got to have some more money."
"Well," said Marcia wearily, "I don't know where it's coming
from. It's up to the old head now. Shoulders is out of business."
Horace rose and pulled on his coat.
"Where are you going?"
"I've got an idea," he answered. "I'll be right back."
Ten minutes later as he headed down the street toward Skipper's
Gymnasium he felt a placid wonder, quite unmixed with humor, at
what he was going to do. How he would have gaped at himself a
year before! How every one would have gaped! But when you opened
your door at the rap of life you let in many things.
The gymnasium was brightly lit, and when his eyes became
accustomed to the glare he found the meditative fat man seated on
a pile of canvas mats smoking a big cigar.
"Say," began Horace directly, "were you in earnest last night
when you said I could make money on my trapeze stunts?"
"Why, yes," said the fat man in surprise.
"Well, I've been thinking it over, and I believe I'd like to try
it. I could work at night and on Saturday afternoons--and
regularly if the pay is high enough."
The fat men looked at his watch.
"Well," he said, "Charlie Paulson's the man to see. He'll book
you inside of four days, once he sees you work out. He won't be
in now, but I'll get hold of him for to-morrow night."
The fat man was as good as his word. Charlie Paulson arrived next
night and put in a wondrous hour watching the prodigy swap
through the air in amazing parabolas, and on the night following