Part 3 out of 4
"Ha! ha! Mais oui! leave the box! and let her dance while her mother
Yvonne gave a cry.
"Ah! Ah!" said her sister, suddenly speaking very slowly, nodding at
every word. "Ah! Ah! go back to your room and see what is there -- in
the room of your lover -- the little letter from Vernon. She wants
you. She wants you. That is because you are so good. She does not want
me. No, it is you who must come to see her die. I -- I dance at the
Then, suddenly turning on Gethryn with a devilish grin, "You! tell
your mistress her mother is dying!" She laughed hatefully, but
preserved her pretense of calm, walked to the door, and as she reached
it swung round and made an insulting gesture to Gethryn.
"You! I will remember you!"
The door slammed and a key rattled in the next box.
Clinging to Gethryn, Yvonne passed down the long corridor to the
vestibule, while Elliott and Rowden silently gathered up the masks and
opera glasses. Clifford stood holding her crushed and splintered fan.
He looked at Elliott, who looked gloomily back at him, as Braith
"What's the matter? I saw something was wrong from the floor. Rex
"Ill at ease," said Clifford, grimly. "There's a sister turned up.
A devil of a sister."
Braith spoke very low. "Yvonne's sister?"
"Yes, a she-devil."
"Did you hear her name?"
Braith went quietly out again. Passing blindly down the lobby, he ran
against Mr Bulfinch. Mr Bulfinch was in charge of a policeman.
"Hello, Braith!" he called, hilariously.
Braith was going on with a curt nod when the other man added:
"I've taken it out of Pick," and he stopped short. "I got my two
hundred francs worth," the artist of the London Mirror proceeded,
"and now I shall feel bound to return you yours -- the first time I
have it," he ended, vaguely.
Braith made an impatient gesture.
"Are you under arrest?"
"Yes, I am. He couldn't help it," smiling agreeably at the Sergeant
de Ville. "He saw me hit him."
The policeman looked stolid.
"But what excuse?" began Braith.
"Oh! none! Pick just passed me, and I felt as if I couldn't stand it
any longer, so I pitched in."
"Well, and now you're in for fine and imprisonment."
"I suppose so," said Bulfinch, beaming.
"Have you any money with you?"
"No, unless I have some in your pocket?" said the little man, with a
mixture of embarrassment and bravado that touched Braith, who saw what
the confession cost him.
"Lots!" said he, cordially. "But first let us try what we can do
with Bobby. Do you ever drink a petit verre, Monsieur le Sergeant de
Ville?" with a winning smile to the wooden policeman.
The latter looked at the floor.
"No," said he.
"Well, I was only thinking that over on the Corner of the Rue
Taitbout one finds excellent wine at twenty francs."
The officer now gazed dreamily at the ceiling.
"Mine costs forty," he said.
And a few minutes later the faithful fellow stood in front of the
Opera house quite alone.
The cab rolled slowly over the Pont au Change, and the wretched horse
fell into a walk as he painfully toiled up the hill of St Michel.
Yvonne lay back in the corner; covered with all her own wraps and
Gethryn's overcoat, she shivered.
"Poor little Yvonne!" was all he said as he leaned over now and then
to draw the cloak more closely around her. Not a sound but the rumble
of the wheels and the wheezing of the old horse broke the silence. The
streets were white and deserted. A few ragged flakes fell from the
black vault above, or were shaken down from the crusted branches.
The cab stopped with a jolt. Yvonne was trembling as Rex lifted her to
the ground, and he hurried her into the house, up the black stairway
and into their cold room.
When he had a fire blazing in the grate, he looked around. She was
kneeling on the floor beside a candle she had lighted, and her tears
were pouring down upon the page of an open letter. Rex stepped over
and touched her.
"Come to the fire." He raised her gently, but she could not stand,
and he carried her in his arms to the great soft chair before the
grate. Then he knelt down and warmed her icy hands in his own. After a
while he moved her chair back, and drawing off her dainty white
slippers, wrapped her feet in the fur that lay heaped on the hearth.
Then he unfastened the cloak and the domino, and rolling her gloves
from elbow to wrist, slipped them over the helpless little hands. The
firelight glanced and glowed on her throat and bosom, tingeing their
marble with opalescent lights, and searching the deep shadows under
her long lashes. It reached her hair, touching here and there a soft,
dark wave, and falling aslant the knots of ribbon on her bare
shoulders, tipped them with points of white fire.
"Is it so bad, dearest Yvonne?"
"Then you must go?"
Gethryn rose and went toward the door; he hesitated, came back and
kissed her once on the forehead. When the door closed on him she wept
as if her heart would break, hiding her head in her arms. He found her
lying so when he returned, and, throwing down her traveling bag and
rugs, he knelt and took her to his breast, kissing her again and again
on the forehead. At last he had to speak.
"I have packed the things you will need most and will send the rest.
It is getting light, dearest; you have to change your dress, you
She roused herself and sat up, looking desolately about her.
"Forever!" she whispered.
"No! No!" cried Gethryn.
"Ah! oui, mon ami!"
Gethryn went and stood by the window. The bedroom door was closed.
Day was breaking. He opened the window and looked into the white
street. Lamps burned down there with a sickly yellow; a faint light
showed behind the barred windows of the old gray barracks. One or two
stiff sparrows hopped silently about the gutters, flying up hurriedly
when the frost-covered sentinel stamped his boots before the barracks
gate. Now and then a half-starved workman limped past, his sabots
echoing on the frozen pavement. A hooded and caped policeman, a
red-faced cabman stamping beside his sleepy horse -- the street was
empty but for them.
It grew lighter. The top of St Sulpice burned crimson. Far off a bugle
fluttered, and then came the tramp of the morning guard mount. They
came stumbling across the stony court and leaned on their rifles while
one of them presented arms and received the word from the sentry.
Little by little people began to creep up and down the sidewalks, and
the noise of wooden shutters announced another day of toil begun. The
point of the Luxembourg Palace struck fire as the ghastly gas-lamps
faded and went out. Suddenly the great bell of St Sulpice clashed the
hour -- Eight o'clock!
Again a bugle blew sharply from the barracks, and a troop of cavalry
danced and pawed through the gate, clattering away down the Rue de
Gethryn shut the window and turned into the room. Yvonne stood before
the dying embers. He went to her, almost timidly. Neither spoke. At
last she took up her satchel and wrap.
"It is time," she whispered. "Let us go."
He clasped her once in his arms; she laid her cheek against his.
The train left Montparnasse station at nine. There was hardly anyone
in the waiting room. The Guard flung back the grating.
"Vernon, par Chartres?" asked Gethryn.
"Vernon -- Moulins -- Chartres -- direct!" shouted the Guard, and
stamped off down the platform.
Gethryn showed his ticket which admitted him to the platform, and they
walked slowly down the line of dismal-looking cars.
"This one?" and he opened a door.
She stood watching the hissing and panting engine, while Gethryn
climbed in and placed her bags and rugs in a window corner. The car
smelt damp and musty, and he stepped out with a choking sensation in
his chest. A train man came along, closing doors with a slam.
"All aboard -- ladies -- gentlemen -- voyageurs?" he growled, as if
to himself or some familiar spirit, and jerked a sullen clang from the
station bell. The engine panted impatiently.
Rex struggled against the constraint that seemed to be dividing them.
"Yvonne, you will write?"
"I don't know!"
"You don't know! Yvonne!"
"I know nothing except that I am wicked, and my mother is dying!"
She said it in low, even tones, looking away from him.
The gong struck again, with a startling clash.
The engine shrieked; a cloud of steam rose from under the wheels. Rex
hurried her into the carriage; there was no one else there. Suddenly
she threw herself into his arms.
"Oh! I love you! I love you! One kiss, no; no; on the lips. Good-bye,
my own Rex!"
"You will come again?" he said, crushing her to him.
Her eyes looked into his.
"I will come. I love you! Be true to me, Rex. I will come back."
Her lover could not speak. Doors slamming, and an impatient voice --
"Descendez donc, M'sieu!" -- roused him; he sprang from the
carriage, and the train rolled slowly out of the smoke-filled station.
How heavy the smoke was! Gethryn could hardly breathe -- hardly see.
He walked away and out into the street. The city was only half awake
even yet. After, as it seemed, a long time, he found himself looking
at a clock which said a quarter past ten. The winter sunshine slanted
now on roof and pane, flooding the western side of the shabby
boulevard, dappling the snow with yellow patches. He had stopped in
the chilly shadow of a gateway and was looking vacantly about. He saw
the sunshine across the street and shivered where he was, and yet he
did not leave the shadow. He stood and watched the sparrows taking
bold little baths in the puddles of melted snow water. They seemed to
enjoy the sunshine, but it was cold in the shade, cold and damp -- and
the air was hard to breathe. A policeman sauntered by and eyed him
curiously. Rex's face was haggard and pinched. Why had he stood there
in the cold for half an hour, without ever changing his weight from
one foot to the other?
The policeman spoke at last, civilly:
Gethryn turned his head.
"Is it that Monsieur seeks the train?" he asked, saluting.
Rex looked up. He had wandered back to the station. He lifted his hat
and answered with the politeness dear to French officials.
"Merci, Monsieur!" It made him cough to speak, and he moved on
Gethryn would not go home yet. He wanted to be where there was plenty
of cool air, and yet he shivered. He drew a deep breath which ended in
a pain. How cold the air must be -- to pain the chest like that! And
yet, there were women wheeling handcarts full of yellow crocus buds
about. He stopped and bought some for Yvonne.
"She will like them," he thought. "Ah!" -- he turned away, leaving
flowers and money. The old flower-woman crossed herself.
No -- he would not go home just yet. The sun shone brightly; men
passed, carrying their overcoats on their arms; a steam was rising
from the pavements in the Square.
There was a crowd on the Pont au Change. He did not see any face
distinctly, but there seemed to be a great many people, leaning over
the parapets, looking down the river. He stopped and looked over too.
The sun glared on the foul water eddying in and out among the piles
and barges. Some men were rowing in a boat, furiously. Another boat
followed close. A voice close by Gethryn cried, angrily:
"Dieu! who are you shoving?"
Rex moved aside; as he did so a gamin crowded quickly forward and
craned over the edge, shouting, "Vive le cadavre!"
"Chut!" said another voice.
"Vive la Mort! Vive la Morgue!" screamed the wretched little
A policeman boxed his ears and pulled him back. The crowd laughed. The
voice that had cried, "Chut!" said lower, "What a little devil,
Rex moved slowly on.
In the Court of the Louvre were people enough and to spare. Some of
them bowed to him; several called him to turn and join them. He lifted
his hat to them all, as if he knew them, but passed on without
recognizing a soul. The broad pavements were warm and wet, but the air
must have been sharp to hurt his chest so. The great pigeons of the
Louvre brushed by him. It seemed as if he felt the beat of their wings
on his brains. A shabby-looking fellow asked him for a sou -- and,
taking the coin Rex gave him, shuffled off in a hurry; a dog followed
him, he stooped and patted it; a horse fell, he went into the street
and helped to raise it. He said to a man standing by that the harness
was too heavy -- and the man, looking after him as he walked away,
told a friend that there was another crazy foreigner.
Soon after this he found himself on the Quai again, and the sun was
sinking behind the dome of the Invalides. He decided to go home. He
wanted to get warm, and yet it seemed as if the air of a room would
stifle him. However, once more he crossed the Seine, and as he turned
in at his own gate he met Clifford, who said something, but Rex pushed
past without trying to understand what it was.
He climbed the dreary old stairs and came to his silent studio. He sat
down by the fireless hearth and gazed at a long, slender glove among
the ashes. At his feet her little white satin slippers lay half hidden
in the long white fur of the rug.
He felt giddy and weak, and that hard pain in his chest left him no
peace. He rose and went into the bedroom. Her ball dress lay where she
had thrown it. He flung himself on the bed and buried his face in the
rustling silk. A faint odor of violets pervaded it. He thought of the
bouquet that had been placed for her at the dinner. Then the flowers
reminded him of last summer. He lived over again their gay life --
their excursions to Meudon, Sceaux, Versailles with its warm meadows,
and cool, dark forests; Fontainebleau, where they lunched under the
trees; St Cloud -- Oh! he remembered their little quarrel there, and
how they made it up on the boat at Suresnes afterward.
He rose excitedly and went back into the studio; his cheeks were
aflame and his breath came sharp and hard. In a corner, with its face
to the wall, stood an old, unfinished portrait of Yvonne, begun after
one of those idyllic summer days.
When Braith walked in, after three times knocking, he found Gethryn
painting feverishly by the last glimmer of daylight on this portrait.
The room was full of shadows, and while they spoke it grew quite dark.
That night Braith sat by his side and listened to his incoherent talk,
and Dr White came and said "Pleuro-pneumonia" was what ailed him.
Braith had his traps fetched from his own place and settled down to
C arnival was over. February had passed, like January, for most of the
fellows, in a bad dream of unpaid bills. March was going in much the
same way. This is the best account Clifford, Elliott and Rowden could
have given of it. Thaxton and Rhodes were working. Carleton was
engaged to a new pretty girl -- the sixth or seventh.
Satan found the time passing delightfully. There was no one at present
to restrain him when he worried Mrs Gummidge. The tabby daily grew
thinner and sadder-eyed. The parrot grew daily more blasé. He sneered
more and more bitterly, and his eyelid, when closed, struck a chill to
the soul of the raven.
At first the pups were unhappy. They missed their master. But they
were young, and flies were getting plentiful in the studio.
For Braith the nights and the days seemed to wind themselves in an
endless chain about Rex's sickbed. But when March had come and gone
Rex was out of danger, and Braith began to paint again on his belated
picture. It was too late, now, for the Salon; but he wanted to finish
it all the same.
One day, early in April, he came back to Gethryn after an unusually
long absence at his own studio.
Rex was up and trying to dress. He turned a peaked face toward his
friend. His eyes were two great hollows, and when he smiled and spoke,
in answer to Braith's angry exclamation, his jaws worked visibly.
"Keep cool, old chap!" he said, in the ghost of a voice.
"What are you getting up for, all alone?"
"Had to -- tired of the bed. Try it yourself -- six weeks!"
"You want to go back there and never quit it alive -- that's what you
want," said Braith, nervously.
"Don't, either. Come and button this collar and stop swearing."
"I suppose you're going back to Julien's the day after tomorrow,"
said Braith, sarcastically, after Rex was dressed and had been helped
to the lounge in the studio.
"No," said he, "I'm going to Arcachon tomorrow."
"Arca--- twenty thousand thunders!"
"Not at all," smiled Rex -- a feeble, willful smile.
Braith sat down and drew his chair beside Gethryn.
"Wait a while, Rex."
"I can't get well here, you know."
"But you can get a bit stronger before you start on such a journey."
"I thought the doctor told you the sooner I went south the better."
That was true; Braith was silent a while.
At last he said, "I have all the money you will want till your own
comes, you know, and I can get you ready by the end of this week, if
you will go."
Rex was no baby, but his voice shook when he answered.
"Dear old, kind, unselfish friend! I'd almost rather remain poor, and
let you keep on taking care of me, but -- see here -- " and he handed
him a letter. "That came this morning, after you left."
Braith read it eagerly, and looked up with a brighter face than he had
worn for many a day.
"By Jove!" he said. "By Jupiter!"
Rex smiled sadly at his enthusiasm.
"This means health, and a future, and -- everything to you, Rex!"
"Health and wealth, and happiness," said Gethryn bitterly.
"Yes, you ungrateful young reprobate -- that's exactly what it means.
Go to your Arcachon, by all means, since you've got a fortune to go on
-- I say -- you -- you didn't know your aunt very well, did you?
You're not cut up much?"
"I never saw her half a dozen times in my whole life. But she's been
generous to me, poor old lady!"
"I should think so. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars is a nice
sum for a young fellow to find in his pocket all on a sudden. And now
-- you want to go away and get well, and come back presently and begin
where you left off -- a year ago. Is that it?"
"That is it. I shall never get well here, and I mean to get well if I
can," -- he paused, and hesitated. "That was the only letter in my
box this morning."
Braith did not answer.
"It is nearly two months now," continued Rex, in a low voice.
"What are your plans?" interrupted Braith, brusquely.
"I'm going first" -- he answered rather drily, "to Arcachon. You
see by the letter my aunt died in Florence. Of course I've got to go
and measure out a lot of Italian red tape before I can get the money.
It seems to me the sooner I can get into the pine air and the sea
breezes at Arcachon, the better chance I have of being fit to push on
to Florence, via the Riviera, before the summer heat."
"I don't know."
"You will come back?"
"When I am cured."
There was a long silence. At last Gethryn put a thin hand on Braith's
shoulder and looked him lovingly in the face.
"You know, and I know, how little I have ever done to deserve your
goodness, to show my gratitude and -- and love for you. But if I ever
come back I will prove to you -- "
Braith could not answer, and did not try to. He sat and looked at the
floor, the sad lines about his mouth deeply marked, his throat moving
once or twice as he swallowed the lump of grief that kept rising.
After a while he muttered something about its being time for Rex's
supper and got up and fussed about with a spirit lamp and broths and
jellies, more like Rex's mother than a rough young bachelor. In the
midst of his work there came a shower of blows on the studio door and
Clifford, Rowden and Elliott trooped in without more ado.
They set up a chorus of delighted yells at seeing Rex dressed and on
the studio lounge. But Braith suppressed them promptly.
"Don't you know any better than that?" he growled. "What did you
come for, anyway? It's Rex's supper time."
"We came, Papa," said Clifford, "to tell Rex that I have reformed.
We wanted him to know it as soon as we did ourselves."
"Ah! he's a changed man! He's worked all day at Julien's for a week
past," cried Elliott and Rowden together.
"And my evenings?" prompted Clifford sweetly.
"Are devoted to writing letters home!" chanted the chorus.
"Get out!" was all Rex answered, but his face brightened at the
three bad boys standing in a row with their hats all held politely
against their stomachs. He had not meant to tell them, dreading the
fatigue of explanations, but by an impulse he held out his hand to
"I say, you fellows, shake hands! I'm going off tomorrow."
Their surprise having been more or less noisily and profusely
expressed, Braith stepped decidedly in between them and his patient,
satisfied their curiosity, and gently signified that it was time to
He only permitted one shake apiece, foiling all Clifford's rebellious
attempts to dodge around him and embrace Gethryn. But Rex was lying
back by this time, tired out, and he was glad when Braith closed the
studio door. It flew open the next minute and an envelope came
spinning across to Rex.
"Letter in your box, Reggy -- good-bye, old chap!" said Clifford's
The door did not quite close again and the voices and steps of his
departing friends came echoing back as Braith raised a black-edged
letter from the floor. It bore the postmark: Vernon.
R ound about the narrow valley which is cut by the rapid Trauerbach,
Bavarian mountains tower, their well timbered flanks scattered here
and there with rough slides, or opening out in long green alms, and
here at evening one may sometimes see a spot of yellow moving along
the bed of a half dry mountain torrent.
Miss Ruth Dene stood in front of the Forester's lodge at Trauerbach
one evening at sunset, and watched such a spot on the almost
perpendicular slope that rose opposite, high above her head. Some
Jaegers and the Forester were looking, too.
"My glass, Federl! Ja! 's ist'n gams!"
"Gems?" inquired Miss Dene, excited by her first view of a chamois.
"Ja! 'n Gams," said the Forester, sticking to his dialect.
The sun was setting behind the Red Peak, his last rays pouring into
the valley. They fell on rock and alm, on pine and beech, and turned
the silver Trauerbach to molten gold.
Mr Isidor Blumenthal, sitting at a table under one of the windows,
drinking beer, beheld this phenomenon, and putting down his quart
measure, he glared at the waste of precious metal. Then he lighted the
stump of a cigar; then he looked at his watch, and it being almost
supper time, he went in to secure the best place. He liked being early
at table; he liked the first cut of the meats, hot and fat; he loved
plenty of gravy. While waiting to be served he could count the antlers
on the walls and estimate "how much they would fetch by an
antiquar," as he said to himself. There was nothing else marketable
in the large bare room, full of deal tables and furnished with benches
built against the wall. But he could pick his teeth demonstratively --
toothpicks were not charged in the bill -- and he could lean back on
two legs of his chair, with his hands in his pockets, and stare
through the windows at Miss Dene.
The Herr Förster and the two Jaegers had gone away. Miss Dene stood
now with her slender hands clasped easily behind her, a Tam O'Shanter
shading her sweet face. She was tall, and so far as Mr Blumenthal had
ever seen, extremely grave for her years. But Mr Blumenthal's
opportunities of observing Miss Dene had been limited.
The "gams" had disappeared. Miss Dene was looking down the road that
leads to Schicksalsee. There was not much visible there except a whirl
of dust raised by the sudden evening wind.
Sometimes it was swept away for a moment; then she saw a
weather-beaten bridge and a bend in the road where it disappeared
among the noble firs of a Bavarian forest.
The sun sank and left the Trauerbach a stream of molten lead. The
shadows crept up to the Jaeger's hut and then to the little chapel
above that. Gusts of whistling martins swept by.
A silk-lined, Paris-made wool dress rustled close beside her, and she
put out one of the slender hands without turning her head.
"Mother, dear," said she, as a little silver-haired old lady took it
and came and leaned against her tall girl's shoulder, "haven't we had
enough of the `Först-haus zu Trauerbach?"'
"Not until a certain girl, who danced away her color at Cannes,
begins to bloom again."
Ruth shrugged, and then laughed. "At least it isn't so -- so
indigestible as Munich."
"Oh! Absurd! Speaking of digestion, come to your Schmarn und
Reh-braten. Supper is ready."
Mother and daughter walked into the dingy "Stube" and took their
seats at the Forester's table.
Mr Blumenthal's efforts had not secured him a place there after all;
Anna, the capable niece of the Frau Förster, having set down a large
foot, clad in a thick white stocking and a carpet slipper, to the
effect that there was only room for the Herr Förster's family and the
"I also am an American!" cried Mr Blumenthal in Hebrew-German.
Nevertheless, when Ruth and her mother came in he bowed affably to
them from the nearest end of the next table.
"Mamma," said Ruth, very low, "I hope I'm not going to begin being
difficult, but do you know, that is really an odious man?"
"Yes, I do know," laughed her easy-tempered mother, "but what is
that to us?"
Mr Blumenthal was reveling in hot fat. After he had bowed and smiled
greasily, he tucked his napkin tighter under his chin and fell once
more upon the gravy. He sopped his bread in it and scooped it up with
his knife. But after there was no more gravy he wished to converse. He
scrubbed his lips with one end of the napkin and called across to
Ruth, who shrank behind her mother: "Vell, Miss Dene, you have today
a shammy seen, not?"
Ruth kept out of sight, but Mrs Dene nodded, good-naturedly.
"Ja! soh! and haf you auch dose leetle deer mit der mamma seen? I haf
myself such leetle deer myself many times shoot, me and my neffe. But
not here. It is not permitted." No one answered. Ruth asked Anna for
"My neffe, he eats such lots of salt -- " began Mr Blumenthal.
"Herr Förster," interrupted Mrs Dene -- "Is the room ready for our
friend who is coming this evening?"
"Your vriendt, he is from New York?"
"Ja, ja, Gnädige Frau!" said the Forester, hastily.
"I haf a broader in New York. Blumenthal and Cohen, you know dem,
Mrs Dene and her daughter rose and went quietly out into the porch,
while the Frau Förster, with cold, round gray eyes and a tight mouth,
was whispering to her frowning spouse that it was none of his
business, and why get himself into trouble? Besides, Mrs Dene's Herr
Gemahl, meaning the absent colonel, would come back in a day or two;
let him attend to Mr Blumenthal.
Outside, under the windows, were long benches set against the house
with tables before them. One was crowded with students who had come
from everywhere on the foot-tours dear to Germans.
Their long sticks, great bundles, tin botanizing boxes, and sketching
tools lay in untidy heaps; their stone krugs were foaming with beer,
and their mouths were full of black bread and cheese.
Underneath the other window was the Jaeger's table. There they sat,
gossiping as usual with the Forester's helpers, a herdsman or two,
some woodcutters on their way into or out from the forest, and a pair
of smart revenue officers from the Tyrol border, close by.
Ruth said to the nearest Jaeger in passing:
"Herr Loisl, will you play for us?"
"But certainly, gracious Fraulein! Shall I bring my zither to the
table under the beech tree?"
Miss Dene was a great favorite with the big blond Jaegers.
"Ja freili! will I play for the gracious Fraulein!" said Loisl, and
cut slices with his hunting knife from a large white radish and ate
them with black bread, shining good-humor from the tip of the
black-cock feather on his old green felt hat to his bare, bronzed
knees and his hobnailed shoes.
At the table under the beech trees were two more great fellows in gray
and green. They rose promptly and were moving away; Mrs Dene begged
them to remain, and they sat down again, diffidently, but with
"Herr Sepp," said Ruth, smiling a little mischievously, "how is
this? Herr Federl shot a stag of eight this morning, and I hear that
yesterday you missed a Reh-bock!"
Sepp reddened, and laughed. "Only wait, gracious Fraulein, next week
it is my turn on the Red Peak."
"Ach, ja! Sepp knows the springs where the deer drink," said Federl.
"And you never took us there!" cried Ruth, reproachfully. "I would
give anything to see the deer come and drink at sundown."
Sepp felt his good breeding under challenge. "If the gracious Frau
permits," with a gentlemanly bow to Mrs Dene, "and the ladies care
to come -- but the way is hard -- "
"You couldn't go, dearest," murmured Ruth to her mother, "but when
papa comes back -- "
"Your father will be delighted to take you wherever there is a
probability of breaking both your necks, my dear," said Mrs Dene.
"Griffin!" said Ruth, giving her hand a loving little squeeze under
Loisl came up with his zither and they all made way before him. Anna
placed a small lantern on the table and the light fell on the handsome
bearded Jaeger's face as he leaned lovingly above his instrument.
The incurable "Sehnsucht" of humanity found not its only expression
in that great Symphony where "all the mightier strings assembling,
fell a trembling." Ruth heard it as she leaned back in the deep shade
and listened to those silvery melodies and chords of wonderful purity,
coaxed from the little zither by Loisl's strong, rough hand, with its
tender touch. To all the airs he played her memory supplied the words.
Sometimes a Sennerin was watching from the Alm for her lover's visit
in the evening. Sometimes the hunter said farewell as he sprang down
the mountainside. Once tears came into Ruth's eyes as the simple tune
recalled how a maiden who died and went to Heaven told her lover at
"When you come after me I shall know you by my ring which you will
wear, and me you will know by your rose that rests on my heart."
Loisl had stopped playing and was tuning a little, idly sounding
chords of penetrating sweetness. There came a noise of jolting and
jingling from the road below.
Mrs Dene spoke softly to Ruth. "That is the Mail; it is time he was
here." Ruth assented absently. She cared at that moment more for
hearing a new folk-song than for the coming of her old playmate.
Rapid wheels approaching from the same direction overtook and passed
the "Post" and stopped below. Mrs Dene rose, drawing Ruth with her.
The three tall Jaegers rose too, touching their hats. Thanking them
all, with a special compliment to Loisl, the ladies went and stood by
some stone steps which lead from the road to the Först-haus, just as a
young fellow, proceeding up them two at a time, arrived at the top,
and taking Mrs Dene's hand began to kiss it affectionately.
"At last!" she cried, "and the very same boy! after four years!
Ruth!" Ruth gave one hand and Reginald Gethryn took two, releasing
one the next moment to put his arm around the little old lady, and so
he led them both into the house, more at home already than they were.
"Shall we begin to talk about how we are not one bit changed, only a
little older, first, or about your supper?" said Mrs Dene.
"Oh! supper, please!" said Rex, of the sun-browned face and laughing
eyes. Smiling Anna, standing by, understood, aided by a hint from Ruth
of "Schmarn und Reh-braten" -- and clattered away to fetch the
never-changing venison and fried batter, with which, and Schicksalsee
beer, the Frau Förster sustained her guests the year round, from
"Georgi" to "Michaeli" and from "Michaeli" to "Georgi,"
reasoning that what she liked was good enough for them. The shapeless
cook was ladling out dumplings, which she called "Nudel," into some
soup for a Munich opera singer, who had just arrived by the stage.
Anna confided to her that this was a "feiner Herr," and must be
served accordingly. The kind Herr Förster came up to greet his guest.
Mrs Dene introduced him as Mr Gethryn, of New York. At this Mr
Blumenthal bounced forward from a corner where he had been spying and
shook hands hilariously. "Vell! and how it goes!" he cried. Rex saw
Ruth's face as she turned away, and stepping to her side, he
whispered, "Friend of yours?" The teasing tone woke a thousand
memories of their boy and girl days, and Ruth's young lady reserve had
changed to the frank camaraderie of former times when she shook her
head at him, laughing, as he looked back at them from the stairs, up
which he was following Grethi and his portmanteau to the room prepared
Half an hour later Mrs Dene and her daughter were looking with
approval at Rex and his hearty enjoyment of the Frau Förster's fare.
The cook, on learning that this was a "feiner Herr," had added trout
to the regulation dishes; and although she was convinced that the only
proper way to cook them was "blau gesotten" -- meaning boiled to a
livid bluish white -- she had learned American tastes from the Denes
and sent them in to Gethryn beautifully brown and crisp.
Rex turned one over critically. "Good little fish. Who is the
"Oh! angler! They were caught with bait," said Ruth, wrinkling her
Rex gave her a quick look. "I suppose you have forgotten how to cast
"No, I think not," she answered quietly.
Mrs Dene opened her mouth to speak, and then discreetly closed it
again in silence, reflecting that whatever there was to come on that
point would get itself said without any assistance from her.
"I had a look at the water as I came along," continued Rex. "It
seemed good casting."
"I never see it but I think how nice it would be to whip," said
"No! really? Not outgrown the rod and fly since you grew into ball
"Try me and see."
"Now, my dearest child! -- "
"Yes, my dearest mother! -- "
"Yes, dearest Mrs Dene! -- "
"Oh! nonsense! listen to me, you children. Ruth danced herself ill at
Cannes; and she lost her color, and she had a little cough, and she
has it still, and she is very easily tired -- "
"Only of not fishing and hunting, dearest, most perfect of mothers!
You won't put up papa to forbid my going with him and Rex!"
"Your mother is incapable of such an action. How little you know her
worth! She is only waiting to be assured that you are to have my
greenheart, with a reel that spins fifty yards of silk. She shall have
it, Mrs Dene."
"Is it as good as the hornbeam?" asked Ruth, smiling.
"The old hornbeam! do you remember that? I say, Ruth, you spoke of
shooting. Really, can you still shoot?"
"Could I ever forget after such teaching?"
"Well, now, I call that a girl!" cried Rex, enthusiastically.
"Let us hope some people won't call it a hoyden!" said Mrs Dene,
with the tender pride that made her faultfinding like a caress. "The
idea of a girl carrying an absurd little breech-loading rifle all over
"What! the one I had built for her?"
"I suppose so," said Mrs Dene, with a shade more of reserve.
"Miss Dene, you shall kill the first chamois that I see!"
"I fear, Mr Gethryn, the Duke Alfons Adalbert Maximilian in Baiern
will have something to say about that!"
"Yes, indeed, preserved!"
"But they told me I might shoot on the Sonnewendjoch."
"Ah! But that's in Tyrol, just across the line. You can see it from
here. Austrian game laws aren't Bavarian game laws, sir!"
"How much of this country does your duke own?"
"Just half a dozen mountains, and half a dozen lakes, and half a
hundred trout streams, with all the splendid forests belonging to
"Lucky duke! And is the game preserved in the whole region? Can't one
get a shot?"
"One cannot even carry a gun without a permit."
Rex groaned. "And the trout -- I suppose they are preserved, too?"
"Yes, but the Herr Förster has the right to fish and so have his
guests. There are, however, conditions. The fish you take are not
yours. You must buy as many of them as you want to keep, afterward.
And they must be brought home alive -- or as nearly alive as is
consistent with being shut up in a close, round, green tin box, full
of water which becomes tepid as it is carried along by a peasant boy
in the heat. They usually die of suffocation. But to the German mind
that is all right. It is only not right when one kills them instantly
and lays them in a cool creel, on fresh wet ferns and moss."
"Nevertheless, I think we will dispense with the boy and the green
box, in favor of the ferns and moss, assisted by a five franc piece or
"It isn't francs any more; you're not in France. It's marks here, you
"Well, I have the same faith in the corrupting power of marks as of
francs, or lire, or shillings, or dollars."
"And I think you will find your confidence justified," said Mrs
"Mamma trying to be cynical!" said Ruth, teasingly. "Isn't she
A thoughtful look stole over her mother's face. "I can be terrible,
too, sometimes -- " she said in her little, clear, high soprano
voice; and she gazed musingly at the edge of a letter, which just
appeared above the table, and then sank out of sight in her lap.
"A letter from papa! It came with the stage! What does he say?"
"He says -- several things; for one, he is coming back tomorrow
instead of the next day."
"Delightful! But there is more?"
Mrs Dene's face became a cheerful blank. "Yes, there is more," she
said. A pause.
"Mamma," began Ruth, "do you think Griffins desirable as mothers?"
"Very, for bad children!" Mrs Dene relapsed into a pleasant reverie.
Ruth looked at her mother as a kitten does in a game of tag when the
old cat has retired somewhere out of reach and sits up smiling through
"You find her sadly changed!" she said to Gethryn, in that silvery,
mocking tone which she had inherited from her mother.
"On the contrary, I find her the same adorable gossip she always was.
Whatever is in that letter, she is simply dying to tell us all about
"Suppose we try not speaking, and see how long she can stand that?"
Rex laid his repeater on the table. Two pairs of laughing eyes watched
the dear little old lady. At the end of three minutes she raised her
own; blue, sweet, running over with fun and kindness.
"The colonel has a polite invitation from the duke for himself, and
his party, to shoot on the Red Peak."
In July the sun is still an early riser, but long before he was up
next day a succession of raps on the door woke Gethryn, and a voice
outside inquired, "Are you going fishing with me today, you lazy
"Colonel!" cried Rex, and springing up and throwing open the door,
he threatened to mingle his pajamas with the natty tweeds waiting
there in a loving embrace. The colonel backed away, twisting his white
mustache. "How do, Reggy! Same boy, eh? Yes. I drove from
Schicksalsee this morning."
"This morning? Wasn't it last night?" said Rex, looking at the
shadows on the opposite mountain.
"And I am going to get some trout," continued the colonel, ignoring
the interruption. "So's Daisy. See my new waterproof rig?"
"Beautiful! but -- is it quite the thing to wear a flower in one's
"I'm not aware -- " began the other stiffly, but broke down, shook
his seal ring at Rex, and walking over to the glass, rearranged the
bit of wild hyacinth in his buttonhole with care.
"And now," he said, "Daisy and I will give you just three quarters
of an hour." Rex sent a shower from the water basin across the room.
"Look out for those new waterproof clothes, Colonel."
"I'll take them out of harm's way," said the colonel, and
Before the time had expired Rex stood under the beech tree with his
rod case and his creel. The colonel sat reading a novel. Mrs Dene was
pouring out coffee. Ruth was coming down a path which led from a low
shed, the door of which stood wide open, suffering the early sunshine
to fall on something that lay stretched along the floor. It was a
stag, whose noble head and branching antlers would never toss in the
"Only think!" cried Ruth breathlessly, "Federl shot a stag of ten
this morning at daybreak on the Red Peak, and he's frightened out of
his wits, for only the duke has a right to do that. Federl mistook it
for a stag of eight. And they're in the velvet, besides!" she added
rather incoherently. " What luck! Poor Federl! I asked him if that
meant strafen, and he said he guessed not, only zanken."
"What's `strafen' and what's `zanken,' Daisy?" asked the Colonel,
pronouncing the latter like "z" in buzz.
Ruth went up to her father and took his face between her hands,
dropping a light kiss on his eyebrow.
" Strafen is when one whips bad boys and t--s-- zanken is when one
only scolds them. Which shall we do to you, dear? Both?"
"We'll take coffee first, and then we'll see which there's time for
before we leave you hemming a pocket handkerchief while Rex and I go
"Such parents!" sighed Ruth, nestling down beside her father and
looking over her cup at Rex, who gravely nodded sympathy.
After breakfast, as Ruth stood waiting by the table where the fishing
tackle lay, perfectly composed in manner, but unable to keep the color
from her cheek and the sparkle of impatience from her eye, Gethryn
thought he had seldom seen anything more charming.
A soft gray Tam crowned her pretty hair. A caped coat, fastened to the
throat, hung over the short kilt skirt, and rough gaiters buttoned
down over a wonderful little pair of hobnailed boots.
"I say! Ruth! what a stunner you are!" cried he with enthusiasm. She
turned to the rod case and began lifting and arranging the rods.
"Rex," she said, looking up brightly, "I feel about sixteen
"Or less, judging from your costume," said her mother.
"Schicksalsee isn't Rangely, you know. I only hope the good people in
the little ducal court won't call you theatrical."
"A theatrical stunner!" mused Ruth, in her clearest tones. "It is
good to know how one strikes one's friends."
"The disciplining of this young person is to be left to me," said
the colonel. "Daisy, everything else about you is all wrong, but your
frock is all right."
"That is simple and comprehensive and reassuring," murmured Ruth
absently, as she bent over the fly-book with Gethryn.
After much consultation and many thoughtful glances at the bit of
water which glittered and dashed through the narrow meadow in front of
the house, they arranged the various colored lures and leaders, and
standing up, looked at Colonel Dene, reading his novel.
"What? Oh! Come along, then!" said he, on being made aware that he
was waited for, and standing up also, he dropped the volume into his
creel and lighted a cigar.
"Are you going to take that trash along, dear?" asked his daughter.
"What trash? The work of fiction? That's literature, as the gentleman
said about Dante."
"Rex," said Mrs Dene, buttoning the colonel's coat over his snowy
collar, "I put this expedition into your hands. Take care of these
She stood and watched them until they passed the turn beyond the
bridge. Mr Blumenthal watched them too, from behind the curtains in
his room. His leer went from one to the other, but always returned and
rested on Rex. Then, as there was a mountain chill in the morning air,
he crawled back into bed, hauling his night cap over his generous ears
and rolling himself in a cocoon of featherbeds, until he should emerge
about noon, like some sleek, fat moth.
The anglers walked briskly up the wooded road, chatting and laughing,
with now and then a sage and critical glance at the water, of which
they caught many glimpses through the trees. Gethryn and Ruth were
soon far ahead. The colonel sauntered along, switching leaves with his
rod and indulging in bursts of Parisian melody.
"Papa," called Ruth, looking back, "does your hip trouble you
today, or are you only lazy?"
"Trot along, little girl; I'll be there before you are," said the
colonel airily, and stopped to replace the wild hyacinth in his coat
by a prim little pink and white daisy. Then he lighted a fresh cigar
and started on, but their voices were already growing faint in the
distance. Observing this, he stopped and looked up and down the road.
No one was in sight. He sat down on the bank with his hand on his hip.
His face changed from a frown to an expression of sharp pain. In five
minutes he had grown from a fresh elderly man into an old man, his
face drawn and gray, but he only muttered "the devil!" and sat
still. A big bronze-winged beetle whizzed past him, z--z--ip! "like a
bullet," he thought, and pressed both hands now on his hip.
"Twenty-five years ago -- pshaw! I'm not so old as that!" But it was
twenty-five years ago when the blue-capped troopers, bursting in to
the rescue, found the dandy "---th," scorched and rent and
blackened, still reeling beneath a rag crowned with a gilt eagle. The
exquisite befeathered and gold laced "---th." But the shells have
rained for hours among the "Dandies" -- and some are dead, and some
are wishing for death, like that youngster lying there with the
Colonel Dene rose up presently and relighted his cigar; then he
flicked some dust from the new tweeds, picked a stem of wild hyacinth,
and began to whistle. "Pshaw! I'm not so old as all that!" he
murmured, sauntering along the pleasant wood-road. Before long he came
in sight of Ruth and Gethryn, who were waiting. But he only waved them
"Papa always says that old wound of his does not hurt him, but it
does. I know it does," said Ruth.
Rex noted what tones of tenderness there were in her cool, clear
voice. He did not answer, for he could only agree with her, and what
could be the use of that?
They strolled on in silence, up the fragrant forest road. Great
glittering dragonflies drifted along the river bank, or hung quivering
above pools. Clouds of lazy sulphur butterflies swarmed and floated,
eddying up from the road in front of them and settling down again in
their wake like golden dust. A fox stole across the path, but Gethryn
did not see him. The mesh of his landing net was caught just then in a
little gold clasp that he wore on his breast.
"How quaint!" cried Ruth; "let me help you; there! One would think
you were a French legitimist, with your fleur-de-lis."
"Thank you" -- was all he answered, and turned away, as he felt the
blood burn his face. But Ruth was walking lightly on and had not
noticed. The fleur-de-lis, however, reminded her of something she had
to say, and she began again, presently --
"You left Paris rather suddenly, did you not, Rex?"
This time he colored furiously, and Ruth, turning to him, saw it. She
flushed too, fearing to have made she knew not what blunder, but she
went on seriously, not pausing for his answer:
"The year before, that is three years ago now, we waited in Italy, as
we had promised to do, for you to join us. But you never even wrote to
say why you did not come. And you haven't explained it yet, Rex."
Gethryn grew pale. This was what he had been expecting. He knew it
would have to come; in fact he had wished for nothing more than an
opportunity for making all the amends that were possible under the
circumstances. But the possible amends were very, very inadequate at
best, and now that the opportunity was here, his courage failed, and
he would have shirked it if he could. Besides, for the last five
minutes, Ruth had been innocently stirring memories that made his
heart beat heavily.
And now she was waiting for her answer. He glanced at the clear
profile as she walked beside him. Her eyes were raised a little; they
seemed to be idly following the windings of a path that went up the
opposite mountainside; her lips rested one upon the other in quiet
curves. He thought he had never seen such a pure, proud looking girl.
All the chivalry of a generous and imaginative man brought him to her
"I cannot explain. But I ask your forgiveness. Will you grant it? I
won't forgive myself!"
She turned instantly and gave him her hand, not smiling, but her eyes
were very gentle. They walked on a while in silence, then Rex said:
"Ever since I came, I have been trying to find courage to ask pardon
for that unpardonable conduct, but when I looked in your dear mother's
face, I felt myself such a brute that I was only fit to hold my
tongue. And I believed," he added, after a pause, "that she would
forgive me too. She was always better to me than I deserved."
"Yes," said Ruth.
"And you also are too good to me," he continued, "in giving me this
chance to ask your pardon." His voice took on the old caressing tone
in which he used to make peace after their boy and girl tiffs. "I
knew very well that with you I should have a stricter account to
settle than with your mother," he said, smiling.
"Yes," said Ruth again. And then with a little effort and a slight
flush she added:
"I don't think it is good for men when too many excuses are made for
them. Do you?"
"No, I do not," answered Rex, and thought, if all women were like
this one, how much easier it would be for men to lead a good life! His
heart stopped its heavy beating. The memories which he had been
fighting for two years faded away once more; his spirits rose, and he
felt like a boy as he kept step with Ruth along the path which had now
turned and ran close beside the stream.
"Now tell me something of your travels," said Ruth. "You have been
in the East."
"Yes, in Japan. But first I stopped a while in India with some
British officers, nice fellows. There was some pheasant shooting."
"Pheasants! No tigers?"
"You shot him! Oh! tell me about it!"
"No, I only saw him."
"In a jungle."
"Did you fire?"
"No, for he was already dead, and the odor which pervaded his resting
place made me hurry away as fast as if he had been alive."
"You are a provoking boy!"
Rex laughed. "I did shoot a cheetah in China."
"A dead one?"
"No, he was snarling over a dead buck."
"Then you do deserve some respect."
"If you like. But it was very easy. One bullet settled him. I was
"Fined! for what?"
"For shooting the Emperor's trained cheetah. After that I always
looked to see if the game wore a silver collar before I fired."
Ruth would not look as if she heard.
Rex went on teasingly: "I assure you it was embarrassing, when the
pheasants were bursting cover, to be under the necessity of inquiring
at the nearest house if those were really pheasants or only Chinese
"Rex," exclaimed Ruth, indignantly, "I hope you don't think I
believe a word you are saying."
They had stopped to rest beside the stream, and now the colonel
sauntered into view, his hands full of wild flowers, his single
eyeglass gleaming beside his delicate straight nose.
"Do you know," he asked, strolling up to Ruth and tucking a cluster
of bluebells under her chin, "do you know what old Hugh Montgomery
would say if he were here?"
"He'd say," she replied promptly, "that `we couldn't take no traout
with the pesky sun a shinin' and a brilin' the hull crick."'
"Yes," said Rex. "Rise at four, east wind, cloudy morning, that was
Hugh. But he could cast a fly."
"Couldn't he!" said the colonel. "`I cal'late ter chuck a bug ez
fur ez enny o' them city fellers, 'n I kin,' says Hugh. Going to begin
"What does Ruth think?"
"She thinks she isn't in command of this party," Ruth replied.
"It will take us until late in the afternoon to whip the stream from
here to the lowest bridge." Rex smiled down at her and pushed back
his cap with a boyish gesture.
She had forgotten it until that moment. Now it brought a perfect flood
of pleasant associations. She had seen him look that way a hundred
times when, in their teens, they two had lingered by the Northern
Lakes. Her whole face changed and softened, but she turned away,
nodding assent, and went and stood by her father, looking down at him
with the bantering air which was a family trait. The lively colonel
had found a sunny log on the bank, where he was sitting, leisurely
joining his rod.
"Hello!" he cried, glancing up, "what are you two amateurs about?
As usual, I'm ready to begin before Rex is awake!" and stepping to
the edge he landed his flies with a flourish in a young birch tree.
Rex came and disengaged them, and he received the assistance with
"Now see the new waterproof rig wade!" said Ruth, saucily.
"Go and wade yourself and don't bully your old father!" cried the
"Old! this child old!"
"Oh! come along, Ruth!" called Rex, waiting on the shore and falling
unconsciously into the tone of sixteen speaking to twelve.
For answer she slipped the cover from her slender rod and dexterously
fitted the delicate tip to the second joint.
"Hasn't forgotten how to put a rod together! Wonderful girl!"
"Oh, I knew you were waiting to see me place the second joint in the
butt first!" She deftly ran the silk through the guides, and then
scientifically knotting the leader, slipped on a cast of three flies
and picked her way daintily to the river bank. As she waded in the
sudden cold made her gasp a little to herself, but she kept straight
on without turning her head, and presently stepped on a broad, flat
rock over which the water was slipping smoothly.
Gethryn waited near the bank and watched her as she sent the silk
hissing thirty feet across the stream. The line swished and whistled,
and the whole cast, hand fly, dropper and stretcher settled down
lightly on the water. He noticed the easy motion of the wrist, the
boyish pose of the slender figure, the serious sweet face, half shaded
by the soft woolen Tam.
Swish--h--h! Swish--h--h! She slowly spun out forty feet, glancing
back at Gethryn with a little laugh. Suddenly there was a tremendous
splash, just beyond the dropper, answered by a turn of the white
wrist, and then the reel fairly shrieked as the line melted away like
a thread of smoke. Gethryn's eyes glittered with excitement, and the
colonel took his cigar out of his mouth. But they didn't shout, "You
have him! Go easy on him! Want any help!" They kept quiet.
Cautiously, and by degrees, Ruth laced her little gloved fingers over
the flying line, and presently a quiver of the rod showed that the
fish was checked. She reeled in, slowly and steadily for a moment, and
then, whiz--z--z! off he dashed again. At seventy feet the rod
trembled and the trout was still. Again and again she urged him toward
the shore, meeting his furious dashes with perfect coolness and
leading him dexterously away from rocks and roots. When he sulked she
gave him the butt, and soon the full pressure sent him flying, only to
end in a furious full length leap out of water, and another sulk.
The colonel's cigar went out.
At last she spoke, very quietly, without looking back.
"Rex, there is no good place to beach him here; will you net him,
please?" Rex was only waiting for this; he had his landing net
already unslung and he waded to her side.
"Now!" she whispered. The fiery side of a fish glittered just
beneath the surface. With a skillful dip, a splash, and a spatter the
trout lay quivering on the bank.
Gethryn quickly ended his life and held him up to view.
"Beautiful!" cried the colonel. "Good girl, Daisy! but don't spoil
your frock!" And picking up his own rod he relighted his cigar and
essayed some conscientious casting on his own account. But he soon
wearied of the paths of virtue and presently went in search of a
grasshopper, with evil intent.
Meanwhile Ruth was blushing to the tips of her ears at Gethryn's
"I never saw a prettier sight!" he cried. "You're -- you're
splendid, Ruth! Nerve, judgment, skill -- my dear girl, you have
Ruth's eyes shone like stars as she watched him in her turn while he
sent his own flies spinning across a pool. And now there was nothing
to be heard but the sharp whistle of the silk and the rush of the
water. It seemed a long time that they had stood there, when suddenly
the colonel created a commotion by hooking and hauling forth a trout
of meagre proportions. Unheeding Rex's brutal remarks, he silently
inspected his prize dangling at the end of the line. It fell back into
the water and darted away gayly upstream, but the colonel was not in
the least disconcerted and strolled off after another grasshopper.
"Papa! are you a bait fisherman!" cried his daughter severely.
The colonel dropped his hat guiltily over a lively young cricket, and
standing up said "No!" very loud.
It was no use -- Ruth had to laugh, and shortly afterward he was
seated comfortably on the log again, his line floating with the
stream, in his hands a volume with yellow paper covers, the worse for
wear, bearing on its back the legend "Calman Levy, Editeur."
Rex soon struck a good trout and Ruth another, but the first one
remained the largest, and finally Gethryn called to the colonel, "If
you don't mind, we're going on."
"All right! take care of Daisy. We will meet and lunch at the first
bridge." Then, examining his line and finding the cricket still
there, he turned up his coat collar to keep off sunburn, opened his
book, and knocked the ashes from his cigar.
"Here," said Gethryn two hours later, "is the bridge, but no
colonel. Are you tired, Ruth? And hungry?"
"Yes, both, but happier than either!"
"Well, that was a big trout, the largest we shall take today, I
They reeled in their dripping lines, and sat down under a tree beside
the lunch basket, which a boy from the lodge was guarding.
"I wish papa would come," said Ruth, with an anxious look up the
road. "He ought to be hungry too, by this time."
Rex poured her a cup of red Tyroler wine and handed her a sandwich.
Then, calling the boy, he gave him such a generous "Viertel" for
himself as caused him to retire precipitately and consume it with
grins, modified by boiled sausage. Ruth looked after him and smiled in
sympathy. "I wonder how papa got rid of the other one with the green
"I know; I was present at the interview," laughed Rex. "Your father
handed him a ten mark piece and said, `Go away, you superfluous
"Yes, and he must have understood, for he grinned and went."
It was good to hear the ring of Ruth's laugh. She was so happy that
she found the smallest joke delightful, and her voice was very sweet.
Rex lighted a cigarette and leaned back against a tree, in great
comfort. Ruth, perched on a log, watched the smoke drift and curl.
Gethryn watched her. They each cared as much for the hours they had
spent in the brook, and for their wet clothing, as vigorous, happy,
and imprudent youth ever cares about such things.
"So you are happy, Ruth?"
"Perfectly. And you? -- But it takes more to make a spoiled young man
happy than -- "
"Than a spoiled young woman? I don't know about that. Yes, I -- am --
happy." Was the long puff of smoke ascending slowly responsible for
the pauses between his words? A slight shadow was in his eyes for one
moment. It passed, and he turned on her his most charming smile, as he
repeated, "Perfectly happy!"
"Still no colonel!" he went on; "when he comes he will be tired. We
don't want any more trout, do we? We have eighteen, all good ones.
Suppose we rest and go back all together by the road?" Ruth nodded,
smiling to see him fondle the creel full of shining fish, bedded on
Rex's cap lay beside him, his head leaned back against the tree, his
face was turned up to the bending branches. Presently he closed his
It might have been one minute, or ten. Ruth sat and watched him. He
had grown very handsome. He had that pleasant air of good breeding
which some men retain under any and all circumstances. It has nothing
to do with character, and yet it is difficult to think ill of a man
who possesses it. When she had seen him last, his nose was too near a
snub to inspire much respect, and his mustache was still in the state
of colorless scarcity. Now his hair and mustache were thick and tawny,
and his features were clear and firm. She noticed the pleasant line of
the cheek, the clean curve of the chin, the light on the crisp edges
of his close-cut hair -- the two freckles on his nose, and she decided
that that short, straight nose, with its generous and humorous
nostrils, was wholly fascinating. As girls always will, she began to
wonder about his life -- idly at first, but these speculations lead
one sometimes farther than one was prepared to go at the start. How
much of his delightful manner to them all was due to affection, and
how much to kindliness and good spirits? How much did he care for
those other friends, for that other life in Paris? Who were the
friends? What was the life? She looked at him, it seemed to her, a
long time. Had he ever loved a woman? Was he still in love, perhaps,
with someone? Ruth was no child. But she was a lady, and a proud one.
There were things she did not choose to think about, although she knew
of their existence well enough. She brought herself up at this point
with a sharp pull, and just then Gethryn, opening his eyes, smiled at
She turned quickly away; to her perfect consternation her cheeks grew
hot. Bewildered by her own confusion, she rose as she turned, and
saying how lovely the water looked, went and stood on the bridge,
leaning over. Rex was on his feet in an instant, so covered with
confusion too, that he never saw hers.
"I say, Ruth, I haven't been such a brute as to fall asleep! Indeed I
haven't! I was thinking of Braith."
"And if you had fallen asleep you wouldn't be a brute, you tired boy!
And who is Braith?"
Ruth turned smiling to meet him, restored to herself and thankful for
"Braith," said Rex earnestly. "Braith is the best man in this
wicked world, and my dearest friend. To whom," he added, "I have not
written one word since I left him two ears ago."
Ruth's face fell. "Is that the way you treat your dearest friends?"
-- and she thought: "No wonder one is neglected when one is only an
old playmate!" -- but she was instantly ashamed of the little
bitterness, and put it aside.
"Ah! you don't know of what we are capable," said Gethryn; and once
more a shadow fell on his face.
A familiar form came jauntily down the road. Ruth hastened to meet it.
"At last, Father! You want your luncheon, poor dear!"
"I do indeed, Daisy!"
The colonel came as gallantly up as if he had thirty pounds of trout
to show instead of a creel that contained nothing but a novel by the
newest and wickedest master of French fiction. He made a mild attempt
to perjure himself about a large fish that had somehow got away from
him, but desisted and merely added that a caning would be good for
Tired he certainly was, and when he was seated on the log and Ruth was
bringing him his wine, he looked sharply at her and said, "You too,
Daisy; you've done enough for the first day. We'll go home by the
"It is what I was just proposing to her," said Rex.
"Yes, you are both right," said Ruth. "I am tired."
"And happy?" laughed Rex. But perhaps Ruth did not hear, for she
spoke at the same time to her father.
"Dear, you haven't told Rex yet how you got the invitation to
"Oh, yes! It was at an officers' dinner in Munich. The duke was there
and I was introduced to him. He spoke of it as soon as they told him
we were stopping here."
"He's a brick," said Rex, rising. "Shall we start for home,
Colonel? Ruth must be tired."
When they turned in at the Forester's door, the colonel ordered Daisy
to her room, where Mrs Dene and their maid were waiting to make her
luxuriously comfortable with dry things, and rugs, and couches, and
cups of tea that were certainly not drawn from the Frau Förster's
stores. Tea in Germany being more awful than tobacco, or tobacco more
awful than tea, according as one cares most for tea or tobacco.
The colonel and Rex sat after supper under the big beech tree. Ruth,
from her window, could see their cigars alight, and, now and then,
hear their voices.
Rex was telling the colonel about Braith, of whom he had not ceased
thinking since the afternoon. He went to his room early and wrote a
long letter to him.
It began: "You did not expect to hear from me until I was cured.
Well, you are hearing from me now, are you not?"
And it ended: "Only a few more weeks, and then I shall return to you
and Paris, and the dear old life. This is the middle of July. In
September I shall come back."
After the colonel's return, Mr Blumenthal found many difficulties in
the way of that social ease which was his ideal. The ladies were never
to be met with unaccompanied by the colonel or Gethryn; usually both
were in attendance. If he spoke to Mrs Dene, or Ruth, it was always
the colonel who answered, and there was a gleam in that trim warrior's
single eyeglass which did not harmonize with the grave politeness of
his voice and manner.
Rex had never taken Mr Blumenthal so seriously. He called him "Our
Bowery brother," and "the Gentleman from West Brighton," and he
passed some delightful moments in observing his gruesome familiarity
with the maids, his patronage of the grave Jaegers, and his fraternal
attitude toward the head of the house. It was great to see him hook a
heavy arm in an arm of the tall, military Herr Förster, and to see the
latter drop it.
But there came an end to Rex's patience.
One morning, when they were sitting over their coffee out of doors, Mr
Blumenthal walked into their midst. He wore an old flannel shirt, and
trousers too tight for him, inadequately held up by a strap. He
displayed a tin bait box and a red and green float, and said he had
come to inquire of Rex "vere to dig a leetle vorms," and also to
borrow of him "dot feeshpole mitn seelbern ringes."
The request, and the grossness of his appearance before the ladies,
were too much for a gentleman and an angler.
Rex felt his gorge rise, and standing up brusquely, he walked away.
Ruth thoughtlessly slipped after him and murmured over his shoulder:
"Friend of yours?"
Gethryn's fists unclenched and came out of his pockets and he and Ruth
went away together, laughing under the trees.
Mr Blumenthal stood where Rex had left him, holding out the bait-box
and gazing after them. Then he turned and looked at the colonel and
his wife. Perspiration glistened on his pasty, pale face and the rolls
of fat that crowded over his flannel collar. His little, dead,
white-rimmed, pale gray eyes had the ferocity of a hog's which has
found something to rend and devour. He looked into their shocked faces
and made a bow.
"Goot ma--a--rnin, Mister and Missess Dene!" he said, and turned his
The elderly couple exchanged glances as he disappeared.
"We won't mention this to the children," said the gentle old lady.
That was the last they saw of him. Nobody knew where he kept himself
in the interval, but about a week later he came running down with a
valise in his hand and jumped into a carriage from the "Green Bear"
at Schicksalsee, which had just brought some people out and was
returning empty. He forgot to give the usual "Trinkgeld" to the
servants, and a lively search in his room discovered nothing but a
broken collar button and a crumpled telegram in French. But Grethi had
her compensation that evening, when she led the conversation in the
kitchen and Mr Blumenthal was discussed in several South German
By this time August was well advanced, but there had been as yet no
"Jagd-partie," as Sepp called the hunting excursion planned with
such enthusiasm weeks before. After that first day in the trout
stream, Ruth not only suffered more from fatigue than she had
expected, but the little cough came back, causing her parents to draw
the lines of discipline very tight indeed.
Ruth, whose character seemed made of equal parts of good taste and
reasonableness, sweet temper and humor, did not offer the least
opposition to discipline, and when her mother remarked that, after
all, there was a difference between a schoolgirl and a young lady, she
did not deny it. The colonel and Rex went off once or twice with the
Jaegers, but in a halfhearted way, bringing back more experience than
game. Then Rex went on a sketching tour. Then the colonel was suddenly
called again to Munich to meet some old army men just arrived from
home, and so it was not until about a week after Mr Blumenthal's
departure that, one evening when the Sennerins were calling the cows
on the upper Alm, a party of climbers came up the side of the Red Peak
and stopped at "Nani's Hütterl."
Sepp threw down the green sack from his shoulders to the bench before
the door and shouted:
"Nani! du! Nani!" No answer.
"Mari und Josef!" he muttered; then raising his voice, again he
called for Nani with all his lungs.
A muffled answer came from somewhere around the other side of the
house. "Ja! komm glei!" And then there was nothing to do but sit on
the bench and watch the sunset fade from peak to peak while they
Nani did not come "glei" -- but she came pretty soon, bringing with
her two brimming milk-pails as an excuse for the delay.
She and Sepp engaged at once in a conversation, to which the colonel
listened with feelings that finally had to seek expression.
"I believe," he said in a low voice, "that German is the language
of the devil."
"I fancy he's master of more than one. And besides, this isn't
German, any more than our mountain dialects are English. And really,"
Ruth went on, "if it comes to comparing dialects, it seems to me ours
can't stand the test. These are harsh enough. But where in the world
is human speech so ugly, so poverty-stricken, so barren of meaning and
feeling, and shade and color and suggestiveness, as the awful talk of
our rustics? A Bavarian, a Tyroler, often speaks a whole poem in a
single word, like -- "
"Do you think one of those poems is being spoken about our supper
"Sybarite!" cried Ruth, with that tinkle of fun in her voice which
was always sounding between her and her parents; "I won't tell you."
The truth was she did not dare to tell her hungry companions that, so
far as she had been able to understand Sepp and Nani, their
conversation had turned entirely on a platform dance -- which they
called a "Schuh-plattl" -- and which they proposed to attend
together on the following Sunday.
But Sepp, having had his gossip like a true South German hunter-man,
finally did ask the important question:
"Ach! supper! du lieber Himmel!" There was little enough of that for
the Herrschaften. There was black bread and milk, and there were some
Semmel, but those were very old and hard.
"Yes, but no sugar."
When Sepp delivered this news to his party they all laughed and said
black bread and milk would do. So Nani invited them into her only room
-- the rest of the "Hütterl" was kitchen and cow-shed -- and brought
A second Sennerin came with her this time, in a costume which might
have startled them, if they had not already seen others like it. It
consisted of a pair of high blue cotton trousers drawn over her
skirts, the latter bulging all round inside the jeans. She had no
teeth and there was a large goiter on her neck.
"Good Heavens!" muttered the colonel, setting down his bowl of milk
and twisting around to stare out of the window behind him.
"Poor thing! she can't help it!" murmured Ruth.
"No more she can, you dear, good girl!" said Rex, and his eyes shone
very kindly. Ruth caught her breath at the sudden beating of her
What was left of daylight came through the little window and fell upon
her face; it was as white as a flower, and very quiet.
Dusk was setting in when Sepp made his appearance. He stood about in
some hesitation, and finally addressed himself to Ruth as the one who
could best understand his dialect. She listened and then turned to her
"Sepp doesn't exactly know where to lodge me. He had thought I could
stay here with Nani -- "
"Not if I can help it!" cried the colonel.
"While," Ruth went on -- "while you and Rex went up to the Jaeger's
hut above there on the rocks. He says it's very rough at the
"Is anyone else there? What does Sepp mean by telling us now for the
first time? " demanded the colonel sharply.
"He says he was afraid I wouldn't come if I knew how rough it was --
and that -- " added Ruth, laughing -- "he says would have been such
a pity! Besides, he thought Nani was alone -- and I could have had her
room while she slept on the hay in the loft. I'm sure this is as neat
as a mountain shelter could be," said Ruth -- looking about her at
the high piled feather beds, covered in clean blue and white check,
and the spotless floor and the snow white pine table. "I'd like to
stay here, only the -- the other lady has just arrived too!"
"The lady in the blue overalls?"
"Yes -- and -- " Ruth stopped, unwilling to say how little relish
she felt for the society of the second Sennerin. But Rex and her
father were on their feet and speaking together.
"We will go and see about the Jagd-hütte. You don't mind being left
for five minutes?"
"The idea! go along, you silly boys!"
The colonel came back very soon, and in the best of spirits.
"It's all right, Daisy! It's a dream of luxury!" and carried her
off, hardly giving her time to thank Nani and to say a winningly kind
word to the hideous one, who gazed back at her, pitchfork in hand,
without reply. No one will ever know whether or not she felt any more
cheered by Ruth's pleasant ways than the cows did who were putting
their heads out from the stalls where she was working.
The dream of luxury was a low hut of two rooms. The outer one had a
pile of fresh hay in one corner and a few blankets. Some of the dogs
were already curled up there. The inner room contained two large bunks
with hay and rugs and blankets; a bench ran where the bunks were not,
around the sides; a shelf was above the bunks; there was a cupboard
and a chest and a table.
"Why, this is luxury!" cried Ruth.
"Well -- I think so, too. I'm immensely relieved. Sepp says artists
bring their wives up here to stay over for the sunrise. You'll do?
"I should think so!"
"Good! then Rex and I and Sepp and the Dachl" -- he always would say
"Dockles" -- "will keep guard outside against any wild cows that
may happen to break loose from Nani. Good night, little girl! Sure
you're not too tired?"
Rex stood hesitating in the open door. Ruth went and gave him her
hand. He kissed it, and she, meaning to please him with the language
she knew he liked best, said, smiling, "Bonne nuit, mon ami!" At the
same moment her father passed her, and the two men closed the door and
went away together. The last glimmer of dusk was in the room. Ruth had
not seen Gethryn's face.
"Bonne nuit, mon ami!" Those tender, half forgotten -- no! never,
never forgotten words! Rex threw himself on the hay and lay still, his
hands clenched over his breast.
The kindly colonel was sound asleep when Sepp came in with a tired but
wagging hound, from heaven knows what scramble among the higher cliffs
by starlight. The night air was chilly. Rex called the dog to his side
and took him in his arms. "We will keep each other warm," he said,
thinking of the pups. And Zimbach, assenting with sentimental whines,
was soon asleep. But Gethryn had not closed his eyes when the Jaeger
sprang up as the day broke. A faint gray light came in at the little
window. All the dogs were leaping about the room. Sepp gave himself a
shake, and his toilet was made.
"Colonel," said Rex, standing over a bundle of rugs and hay in which
no head was visible, "Colonel! Sepp says we must hurry if we want to
see a `gams."'
The colonel turned over. What he said was: "Damn the Gomps!" But he
thought better of that and stood up, looking cynical.
"Come and have a dip in the spring," laughed Rex.
When they took their dripping heads out of the wooden trough into
which a mountain spring was pouring and running out again, leaving it
always full, and gazed at life -- between rubs of the hard crash towel
-- it had assumed a kinder aspect.
Half an hour later, when they all were starting for the top, Ruth let
the others pass her, and pausing for a moment with her hand on the
lintel, she looked back into the little smoke-blackened hut. The door
of the inner room was open. She had dreamed the sweetest dream of her
Before the others could miss her she was beside them, and soon was
springing along in advance, swinging her alpenstock. It seemed as if
she had the wings as well as the voice of a bird.
Der Jaeger zieht in grünem Wald
Mit frölichem Halloh!
Sepp laughed from the tip of his feather to the tip of his beard.
"Wie's gnädige Fraulein hat G'müth!" he said to Rex.
"What's that?" asked the colonel.
"He says," translated Rex freely, "What a lot of every delightful
quality Ruth possesses!"
But Ruth heard, and turned about and was very severe with him. "Such
shirking! Translate me Gemüth at once, sir, if you please!"
"Old Wiseboy at Yarvard confessed he couldn't, short of a treatise,
and who am I to tackle what beats Wiseboy?"
"Can you, Daisy?" asked her father.
"Not in the least, but that's no reason for letting Rex off." Her
voice took on a little of the pretty bantering tone she used to her
parents. She was beginning to feel such a happy confidence in Rex's
They were in the forest now, moving lightly over the wet, springy
leaves, probing cautiously for dangerous, loose boulders and
treacherous slides. When they emerged, it was upon a narrow plateau;
the rugged limestone rocks rose on one side, the precipice plunged
down on the other. Against the rocks lay patches of snow, grimy with
dirt and pebbles; from a cleft the long greenish white threads of
"Peter's beard" waved at them; in a hollow bloomed a thicket of pink
They had just reached a clump of low firs, around the corner of a huge
rock, when a rush of loose stones and a dull sound of galloping made
them stop. Sepp dropped on his face; the others followed his example.
The hound whined and pulled at the leash.
On the opposite slope some twenty Hirsch-cows, with their fawns, were
galloping down into the valley, carrying with them a torrent of earth
and gravel. Presently they slackened and stopped, huddling all
together into a thicket. The Jaeger lifted his head and whispered
"Stück"; that being the complimentary name by which one designates
female deer in German.
"All?" said Rex, under his breath. At the same moment Ruth touched
On the crest of the second ridge, only a hundred yards distant, stood
a stag, towering in black outline, the sun just coming up behind him.
Then two other pairs of antlers rose from behind the ridge, two more
stags lifted their heads and shoulders and all three stood silhouetted
against the sky. They tossed and stamped and stared straight at the
spot where their enemies lay hidden.
A moment, and the old stag disappeared; the others followed him.
"If they come again, shoot," said Sepp.
Rex passed his rifle to Ruth. They waited a few minutes; then the
colonel jumped up.
"I thought we were after chamois!" he grumbled.
"So we are," said Rex, getting on his feet.
A shot rang out, followed by another. They turned, sharply. Ruth,
looking half frightened, was lowering the smoking rifle from her
shoulder. Across the ravine a large stag was swaying on the edge; then
he fell and rolled to the bottom. The hound, loosed, was off like an
arrow, scrambling and tumbling down the side. The four hunters
followed, somehow. Sepp got down first and sent back a wild Jodel. The
stag lay there, dead, and his splendid antlers bore eight prongs.
When Ruth came up she had her hand on her father's arm. She stood and
leaned on him, looking down at the stag. Pity mingled with a wild
intoxicating sense of achievement confused her. A rich color flushed
her cheek, but the curve of her lips was almost grave.
Sepp solemnly drew forth his flask of Schnapps and, taking off his hat
to her, drank "Waidmann's Heil!" -- a toast only drunk by hunters to
Gethryn shook hands with her twenty times and praised her until she
could bear no more.
She took her hand from her father's arm and drew herself up,
determined to preserve her composure. The wind blew the little bright
rings of hair across her crimson cheek and wrapped her kilts about her
slender figure as she stood, her rifle poised across her shoulder, one
hand on the stock and one clasped below the muzzle.
"Are you laughing at me, Rex?"
"You know I am not!"
Never had she been so happy in her whole life.
The game drawn and hung, to be fetched later, they resumed their climb
and hastened upward toward the peak.
Ruth led. She hardly felt the ground beneath her, but sprang from rock
to moss and from boulder to boulder, till a gasp from Gethryn made her
stop and turn about.
"Good Heavens, Ruth! what a climber you are!"
And now the colonel sat down on the nearest stone and flatly refused
"Oh! is it the hip, Father?" cried Ruth, hurrying back and kneeling
"No, of course it isn't! It's indignation!" said her father, calmly
regarding her anxious face. "If you can't go up mountains like a
human girl, you're not going up any more mountains with me."
"Oh! I'll go like a human snail if you want, dear! I've been too
selfish! It's a shame to tire you so!"
"Indeed, it is a perfect shame!" cried the colonel.
Ruth had to laugh. "As I remarked to Rex, early this morning," her
father continued, adjusting his eyeglass, "hang the Gomps!" Rex
discreetly offered no comment. "Moreover," the colonel went on,
bringing all the severity his eyeglass permitted to bear on them both,
"I decline to go walking any longer with a pair of lunatics. I shall
confide you both to Sepp and will wait for you at the upper Shelter."
"But it's only indignation; it isn't the hip, Father?" said Ruth,
still hanging about him, but trying to laugh, since he would have her
He saw her trouble, and changing his tone said seriously, "My little
girl, I'm only tired of this scramble, that's all."
She had to be contented with this, and they separated, her father
taking a path which led to the right, up a steep but well cleared
ascent to a plateau, from which they could see the gable of a roof
rising, and beyond that the tip-top rock with its white cross marking
the highest point. The others passed to the left, around and among
huge rocks, where all the hollows were full of grimy snow. The ground
was destitute of trees and all shrubs taller than the hardy
Alpen-rosen. Masses of rock lay piled about the limestone crags that
formed the summit. The sun had not yet tipped their peak with purple
and orange, but some of the others were lighting up. No insects darted
about them; there was not a living thing among the near rocks except
the bluish black salamanders, which lay here and there, cold and
They walked on in silence; the trail grew muddy, the ground was beaten
and hatched up with small, sharp hoof prints. Sepp kneeled down and