Part 4 out of 9
"Is there any place I'd be certain to find you quickly, if a chance should
come?" she asked. "One never can tell. He might not be here in years, but
he might be called, and come, to-morrow."
"Why yes!" cried Mickey. "Why of course! Why the telephone! Call me where
"But I thought you were a 'newsy!'" said the nurse.
"Well I was," explained Mickey lifting his head, "but I've give up the
papers. I've graduated. I'm going to sell out tomorrow. I'm going to work
permanent for Mr. Douglas Bruce. He's the biggest lawyer in Multiopolis.
He's got an office in the Iriquois Building, and his call is 500-X. Write
that down too and put it where you can't lose it. He's just a grand man.
He asked about Lily to-day. He said any time he'd do things for her. Sure
he would! He'd stop saving the taxpayers of Multiopolis, and take his car,
and go like greased lightning for a little sick girl. He's the grandest
man and he's got a Joy Lady that puts in most of her time making folks
happy. Either of them would! Why it's too easy to talk about! You call me,
I take a car and bring her scooting! If I'd see Lily standing on her feet,
stepping right out like other folks, I'd be so happy I'd almost bust wide
open. Honest I would! If he _does_ come, you'd try _hard_ to get me a
chance, wouldn't you?"
"I'd try as hard for you as I would for myself Mickey; I couldn't promise
more," she said.
"Lily's as good as fixed," exulted Mickey. "Why there is that big easy car
standing down in the street waiting to take me home right now."
"Does Douglas Bruce send you home in his car?"
"Oh no, not regular! This is extra! Work is over for to-day so we went to
the golf links; then he lets his man take me while he bathes and dresses
to go to his Joy Lady. Gee, I got to hurry or I'll make the car late; but
I can talk with you all you will. I can send the car back and walk or hop
"Which is a street car?" queried the nurse.
"Sure!" said Mickey.
"Well go hop it!" she laughed. "I can't spare more time now, but I won't
forget, Mickey; and if he comes I'll keep him till you get here, if I have
to chain him."
"You go to it!" cried Mickey. "And I'll begin praying that he comes soon,
and I'll just pray and pray so long and so hard, the Lord will send him
quick to get rid of being asked so constant. No I won't either! Well
wouldn't that rattle your slats?"
"What, Mickey?" asked the nurse.
"Why don't you _see?_" cried Mickey.
"No, I don't see," admitted the girl.
"Well I do!" said Mickey. "What would be square about that? Why that would
be asking the Lord to make maybe some other little girl so sick, the
Carrel man would be sent for, so I'd get my chance for Lily. That ain't
business! I wouldn't have the cheek! What would the Lord _think_ of me? He
wouldn't come in a mile of _doing_ it. I wouldn't come in ten miles of
having the nerve to ask him. I do get up against it 'til my head swims.
And there is _winter_ coming, too!"
The nurse put her arm around Mickey again, and gently propelled him toward
"Mickey," she said softly, her lips nipping his fair hair, "God doesn't
give many of us your clear vision and your big heart. I'd have asked him
that, with never a thought of who would have to be ill to bring Dr. Carrel
here. But I'll tell you. You can pray _this_ with a clean conscience: you
can ask God if the doctor _does_ come, to put it into his heart to hear
you, and to examine Lily. That wouldn't be asking ill for anyone else so
that you might profit by it. And dear laddie, don't worry about _winter_.
This city is still taking care of its taxpayers. You do your best for Lily
all summer, and when winter comes, if you're not fixed for it, I will see
what your share is and you can have it in a stove that will burn warm a
whole day, and lots of coal, _plenty_ of it. I know I can arrange that."
"Gee, you're great!" he cried. "This is the biggest thing that ever
happened to me! I see now what I can ask Him on the square; so it's
_business_ and all right; and Mr. Bruce or Miss Leslie will loan me a car,
and if you see about the stove and the coal the city has for me"--in came
Mickey's royal flourish--"why dearest Nurse Lady, Lily is as good as
walking right now! Gee! In my place would you tell her?"
"I surely would," said the nurse. "It will do her good. It will give her
hope. Dr. Carrel isn't the only one who can perform miracles; if he
_doesn't_ come by the time Lily is strong enough to bear the strain of
being operated, we can try some other great man; and if she is shy, and
timid from having been alone so much, expecting it will make it easier for
her. By the way, wait until I bring some little gifts, I and three of my
friends have made for her in our spare time. I think your mother's night
dresses must be big and uncomfortable for her, even as you cut them off.
Try these. Give her a fresh one each day. It is going to be dreadfully hot
soon. When she has used two, bring them here and I'll have them washed for
"Now nix on that!" said Mickey. "You're a shining angel bright to sew them
for her, I'm crazy over them, but I wash them. Mother showed me. That will
be _my_ share. I can do it fine. And they _will_ be better! She's so lost
in mother's, I have to shake them to find her!"
They laughed together, then Mickey sped to the sidewalk and ordered the
"I've been too long," he said. "Nurse Lady had some things to tell me
about a little sick girl and I was glad to miss my ride for them. Mr.
Bruce will be ready by now. You go where he told you."
"I got twenty-seven minutes yet," said the driver. "I can take you at
least almost there. Hop in."
"Mither o' Mike!" cried Mickey. "Is _that_ all there is to it? Gee, how
I'd like to have a try at it."
"Are you going to be in Mr. Bruce's office from now on?" asked the driver.
"If I can sell my paper line," answered Mickey.
"Got a good route?" inquired the man.
"Best of any boy in my district," said Mickey. "I _like_ to sell papers. I
got it down fine!"
"I guess you have," said the driver. "I know your voice, and everybody on
your street knows that cry. Your route ought to be worth a fair price. I
got a kid that wants a paper start. What would you ask to take him over
your round and tell the men you are turning your business over to him, and
teach him your cries?"
"Hum-m-m-m!" said Mickey. "My cry is whatever has the biggest headlines on
the front page, mixed in with a lot of joyous fooling, and I'd have to see
your boy 'fore I'd say if I could teach him. Is he a clean kid with a
joyous face, and his anatomy decorated with a fine large hump? That's the
only kind that gets my job. I won't have my nice men made sore all day
'cause they start it by seeing a kid with a boiled-owl face."
"You think a happy face sells most papers?"
"Know it!" said Mickey, "'cause I wear it on the job, and I get away with
the rest of them three times and coming. Same everywhere as with the
papers. A happy face would work with your job, if you'd loosen up a link
or two, and tackle it. It may crack your complexion, if you start too
violent, but taking it by easy runs and greasing the ways 'fore you cut
your cable, I believe you'd survive it!"
Mickey flushed and grinned in embarrassment when people half a block away
turned to look at his driver, and the boy's mouth opened as a traffic
policeman smiled in sympathy when he waved his club, signalling them to
cross. Mickey straightened up reassured.
"_Did you get that?_" he inquired.
"I got it!" said the driver. "But it won't ever happen again. McFinley has
been on that crossing for five years and that's his first smile on the
"Then make it your business to see that it ain't his _last!_" advised
Mickey. "There's no use growing morgue lines on your mug; with all May
running wild just to please you and the man in the moon; loosen up, if you
have to tickle your liver with a torpedo to start you!"
"You brass monkey!" said the driver. "You climb down right here, before
I'm arrested for a plain drunk."
"Don't you think it," called Mickey. "If you like your job, man, cotton up
to it; chuckle it under the chin, and get real familiar. See? Try grin,
'stead of grouch just one day and watch if the whole world doesn't look
better before night."
"Thanks kid, I'll think it over!" promised the driver.
Mickey hurried home to Peaches. He hid the cake and the hospital box under
the things he bought for supper and went to her with empty hands. He could
see she was tired and hungry, so he gave her a drink of milk, and
proceeded to the sponge bath and oil rub. These rested and refreshed her
so that Mickey demanded closed eyes, while he slipped the dainty night-
robe over her head, and tied the pink ribbon on her curls. Then he piled
the pillows, leaned her against them and brought the mirror.
"Now open your peepers, Flowersy-girl, and tell me how Miss O'Halloran
strikes you!" he exulted.
Peaches took one long look. She opened her mouth. Then she turned to
Mickey and shut her mouth; shut it and clapped both hands over it; so that
he saw the very act of strangling a phrase he would have condemned.
"That's a nice lady!" he commented in joy. "Now let me tell you! You got
four of these gorgeous garments, each one made by a different nurse-lady,
while she was resting. Every day you get a clean one, and I wash the one
you wore last, careful and easy not to tear the lacy places. Ain't they
the gladdest rags you ever saw!"
Peaches gasped: "Mickey, I'll bust!"
"Go on and bust then!" conceded Mickey. "Bust if you must; but don't you
dare say no words that ain't for the ladiest of ladies, in that beautiful,
softy, white dress."
Peaches set her lips, stretching her arms widely. She sat straighter than
Mickey ever had seen her, lifting her head higher. Gradually a smile crept
over her face. She was seeing a very pinched, white little girl, with a
shower of yellow curls bound with a pink ribbon tied in a big bow; wearing
a dainty night dress with a fancy yoke run with pink ribbons tied under
her chin and at her elbows. She crooked an arm, primped her mouth, and
peered at the puffed sleeves, then hastily gulped down whatever she had
been tempted to say.
Again Mickey approved. Despite protests he removed the mirror, then put
the doll in her arms. "Now you line up," he said. "Now you look alike!
After you get your supper, comes the joy part for sure."
"More joyous than this?" Peaches surveyed herself.
"Yes, Miss! The joyousest thing of all the world that could happen to
you," he said.
"But Mickey-lovest!" she cried in protest. "You know--_you know_--what
_that_ would be!"
"Sure I know!" said Mickey.
"I don't believe it! It never could!" she cried.
"There you go!" said Mickey in exasperation. "You make me think of them
Texas bronchos kicking at everything on earth, in the Wild West shows
every spring. Honest you do!"
"Mickey, you forgot my po'try piece to-night!" she interposed hastily.
"What you want a poetry piece for with such a dress and ribbon as you
got?" he demanded.
"I like the po'try piece _better_ than the dress or the ribbon," she
"You'll be saying better than the baby, next!"
"Yes, an' better than the baby!"
"You look out Miss," marvelled Mickey. "You got to tell true or you can't
be my family."
"Sure and true!" said Peaches emphatically.
"Well if I ever!" cried Mickey. "I didn't think you was _that_ silly!"
"'Tain't silly!" said Peaches. "The po'try pieces is _you!_ 'Tain't silly
to like _you_ better than a dress, and a ribbon, or a Precious Child. I
want my piece now!"
"Well I've been so busy to-day, I forgot your piece, said Mickey. "'Nough
things have happened to make me forget my head, if 'twasn't fast. I forgot
your piece. I thought you'd like the dress and the joyous thing better."
"Then you _didn't_ forget it!" cried Peaches. "You thought something else,
and you thought what ain't! So there! I _want_ my po'try piece!"
"Well do you want it worse than your supper?" demanded Mickey.
"Yes I do!" said Peaches.
"Well use me for a mop!" cried Mickey. "Then you'll have to wait 'til I
"Go on and make it!" ordered the child.
"Well how do you like this?"
"_Once a stubborn little kicker,
Kicked until she made me snicker.
If she had wings, she couldn't fly,
'Cause she'd be too stubborn to try._"
A belligerent look slowly spread over Peaches' face.
"_That's_ no po'try piece," she scoffed, "an' I don't like it at all, an'
I won't write it on my slate; not if I never learn to write anything.
Mickey-lovest, please make a _nice_ one to save for my book. It's going to
have three on ev'ry page, an' a nice piece o' sky like right up there for
backs, and mebby--mebby a cow on it!"
"Sure a cow on it," agreed Mickey. "I saw a lot to-day! I'll tell you
after supper. Gimme a little time to think. I can't do nice ones right
"You did that one right off," said Peaches.
"Sure!" answered Mickey. "I was a little--a little--per_voked!_ And you
said that wasn't a _nice_ one."
"And so it wasn't!" asserted Peaches positively.
"If I have a nice one ready when I bring supper, will that do?" questioned
"Yes," said Peaches. "But I won't eat my supper 'til I have it."
"Now don't you get too bossy, Miss Chicken," warned Mickey. "There's a
surprise in this supper like you never had in all your life. I guess you'd
eat it, if you'd see it."
"I wouldn't 'til I had my po'try piece."
In consideration of the poetry piece Mickey desisted. The inference was
too flattering. Between narrowed lids he looked at Lily. "You fool sweet
little kid," he muttered. Then he prepared supper. When he set it on the
table he bent over and taking both hands he said gently:
"_Flowersy-girl of moonbeam white,
Golden head of sunshine bright,
Dancing eyes of sky's own blue,
No other flower in the world like you._"
"Get the slate!" cried Peaches. "Get the slate! Now _that's_ a po'try
piece. That's the best one yet. I'm going to put that right under the
"Sure!" said Mickey. "I think that's the best yet myself. You see, you
make them come better every time, 'cause you get so much sweeter every
"Then why did you make the bad one?" she pouted.
"Well every time you just yell 'I won't,' without ever giving me a chance
to tell you _what_ I'm going to do, or why," explained Mickey. "If only
you'd learn to wait a little, you'd do better. If I was to tell you that
Carrel man was at the door with a new back for you, if you turn over and
let him put it in, I s'pose you'd yell: 'I won't!'"
The first tinge of colour Mickey had seen, almost invisibly faint, crept
to the surface of Peaches' white cheek.
"Just you try it, Mickey-lovest!" she exclaimed.
"Finish your supper, and see what I try."
Peaches obeyed. She had stopped grabbing and cramming. She ate slowly,
masticating each morsel as the nurse told Mickey she should. To-night he
found her so dainty and charming, as she instinctively tried to be as nice
as her dress and supper demanded, that he forgot himself, until she
reminded him. Then he rallied and ate his share. He presented the cakes,
and while they enjoyed them he described every detail of the day he
thought would interest her, until she had finished. He told her of the
nurse and the dresses and when she wanted to see the others he said: "No
sir! You got to wait till you are bathed and dressed each evening, and
then you can see yourself, and that will be more fun than taking things
all at once. You needn't think I'm coming in here _every_ night with a
great big lift-the-roof surprise for you. Most nights there won't be
anything for you only me, and your supper."
"But Mickey, them's the nicest nights of all!" said Peaches. "I like
thinking about you better than nurse-ladies, or joy-ladies, or my back,
even; if it wasn't for having supper ready to _help_ you."
"There you go again!" exclaimed Mickey. "Cut that stuff out, kid! You'll
get me so broke up, I won't be fit for nothing but poetry, and that's
tough eating; there's a lot must come, 'fore I just make a business of it.
Now Miss, you brace up, and get this: the Carrel man has been in this very
burg. See! Our Nurse Lady at the 'Star of Hope' has watched him making
some one over. Every time anybody is brought there with a thing the matter
with them, that he knows best how to cure, the big head knifers slip it
over to him, so he comes and does it to get practice on the job. He _may_
not come for a long time; he _might_ come to-morrow. See?"
"Oh Mickey! Would he?" gasped Peaches.
"Why sure he would!" cried Mickey with his most elaborate flourish. "Sure
he would! That's what he lives for. He'd be tickled to pieces to make over
the back of a little girl that can't walk. Sure he would! What I ain't
sure of is that you wouldn't gig back and say, 'I won't!' if you had a
chance to be fixed."
Peaches spoke with deliberate conviction: "Mickey, I'm most _sure_ I've
_about_ quit that!"
"Well, it's time!" said Mickey. "What you got to do is to eat, and sleep,
and be bathed, and rubbed, and get so big and strong that when I come
chasing up the steps and say, 'He's here, Lily, clap your arms around my
neck and come to the china room and the glass table and be fixed,' you
just take a grip and never open your head. See! You can be a game little
kid, the gamest I ever saw, you will then, Lily, won't you?"
"Sure!" she promised. "I'll just grab you and I'll say, 'Go Mickey, go
"Wope! Wope there lady!" interposed Mickey. "Look out! There's a subm'rine
coming. Sink it! Sink it!"
"Mickey what's a subm'rine?" asked Peaches.
"Why it's like this," explained Mickey. "There's places where there's
water, like I bring to wash you, only miles and miles of it, such a lot,
it's called an ocean----"
"Sure! 'Crost it where the kings is makin' people kill theirselves," cried
"Yes," agreed Mickey. "And on the water, sailing along like a lady, is a
big, beautiful ship. Then there's a nasty little boat that can creep under
the water. It slips up when she doesn't know it's coming, and blows a hole
in the fine ship and sinks her all spoiled. But if the nice ship sees the
subm'rine coming and sinks it, why then she stays all nice, and isn't
spoiled at all. See?"
"Subm'rines spoil things?" ventured Peaches.
"They were just _invented_ for that, and nothing else."
"Mickey, I'll just say, 'Hurry! Run fast!' Mickey, can you carry me that
far?" she asked anxiously.
"No, I can't carry you that far," admitted Mickey. "But Mr. Douglas Bruce,
that we work for after this, will let me take his driver and his nice,
easy car, and it will beat streetcars a mile, and we'll just go sailing
for the 'Star of Hope' and get your back made over, and then comes school
and everything girls like. See?"
"Mickey, what if he never comes?" wavered Peaches.
"Yes, but he _will!_" said Mickey positively.
"Mickey, what if he should come, an' wouldn't even _look_ at my back?" she
"Why, he'd be _glad_ to!" cried Mickey. "Don't be silly. Give the man some
_James Jr. and Malcolm_
Nellie Minturn returned to her room too dazed to realize her suffering.
She had intended doing something; the fringed orchids reminded her. She
rang for water to put them in, while her maid with shaking fingers dressed
her, then ordered the car. The girl understood that some terrible thing
had happened and offered to go with the woman who moved so mechanically
she proved she scarcely knew what she was doing.
"No," said Mrs. Minturn. "No, the little soul has been out there a long
time alone, her mother had better go alone and see how it is."
She entered the car, gave her order and sank back against the seat. When
the car stopped, she descended and found the gates guarding the doors of
the onyx vault locked. She pushed her flowers between the bars, dropping
them before the doors, then wearily sank on the first step, leaning her
head against the gate, trying to think, but she could not. Near dawn her
driver spoke to her.
"It's almost morning," he said. "You've barely time to reach home before
the city will be stirring."
She paid no attention, so at last he touched her.
"You, Weston?" she asked.
"Yes, Madam," he said. "I'm afraid for you. I ventured to come closer than
you said. Excuse me."
"Thank you Weston," she answered.
"Let me drive you home now, Madam," he begged.
"Just where would you take me if you were taking me home, Weston?"
"Where we came from," he replied.
"Do you think that has ever been a home, Weston?"
"I have thought it the finest home in Multiopolis, Madam," said the driver
She laughed bitterly. "So have I, Weston. And to-day I have learned what
it really is. Help me, Weston! Take me back to the home of my making."
When he rang for her, she gave him an order: "Find Mr. John Haynes and
bring him here immediately."
"Bring him now, Madam?" he questioned.
"Immediately, I said," she repeated.
"I will try, Madam," said Weston.
"You will bring him at once if he is in Multiopolis," she said with
Weston knew that John Haynes was her lawyer; he had brought him from his
residence or office at her order many times; he brought him again. At once
John Haynes dismissed all the servants in the Minturn household, arranged
everything necessary, and saw Mrs. Minturn aboard a train in company with
a new maid of his selection; then he mailed a deed of gift of the Minturn
residence to the city of Multiopolis for an endowed Children's Hospital.
The morning papers briefly announced the departure and the gift. At his
breakfast table James Minturn read both items, then sat in deep thought.
"Not like her!" was his mental comment. "I can understand how that place
would become intolerable to her; but I never knew her to give a dollar to
the suffering. Now she makes a princely gift, not because she is generous,
but because the house has become unbearable; and as usual, with no thought
of any one save herself. If the city dares accept, how her millionaire
neighbours will rage at disease and sickness being brought into the finest
residence district! Probably the city will be compelled to sell it and
build somewhere else. But there is something fitting in the reparation of
turning a building that has been a place of torture to children, into one
of healing. It proves that she has a realizing sense."
He glanced around the bright, cheerful breakfast room, with its carefully
set, flower-decorated table, at his sister at its head, at a son on either
hand, at a pleasant-faced young tutor on one side, and his Little Brother
on the other; for so had James Minturn ordered his household.
Mrs. Winslow had left a home she loved to come at her brother's urgent
call for help to save his boys. The tutor had only a few hours of his
position, and thus far his salary seemed the attractive feature. James Jr.
and Malcolm were too dazed to be natural for a short time. They had been
picked up bodily, and carried kicking and screaming to this place, where
they had been dressed in plain durable clothing. Malcolm's bed stood
beside Little Brother's in a big sunny room; James' was near the tutor's
in a chamber the counterpart of the other, save for its bookcases lining
There was a schoolroom not yet furnished with more than tables and chairs,
its floors and walls bare, its windows having shades only. When worn out
with the struggle the amazed boys had succumbed to sleep on little, hard,
white beds with plain covers; had awakened to a cold bath at the hands of
a man, and when they rebelled and called for Lucette and their accustomed
clothing, were forcibly dressed in linen and khaki.
In a few minutes together before they were called to breakfast, James had
confided to Malcolm that he thought if they rushed into William's back
with all their strength, on the top step, they could roll him downstairs
and bang him up good. Malcolm had doubts, but he was willing to try.
William was alert, because as many another "newsy" he had known these boys
in the park; so when the rush came, a movement too quick for untrained
eyes to follow swung him around a newel post, while both boys bumping,
screaming, rolled to the first landing and rebounded from a wall harder
than they. When no one hastened at their screams to pick them up, they
arose fighting each other. The tutor passed and James tried to kick him,
merely because he could. He was not there either, but he stopped for this
advice to the astonished boy: "If I were you I wouldn't do that. This is a
free country, and if you have a right to kick me, I have the same right to
kick you. I wouldn't like to do it. I'd rather allow mules and vicious
horses to do the kicking; still if you're bound to kick, I can; but my
foot is so much bigger than yours, and if I forgot and took you for a
football, you'd probably have to go to the hospital and lie in a plaster
cast a week or so. If I were you, I wouldn't! Let's go watch the birds
till breakfast is called, instead."
The invitation was not accepted. The tutor descended alone. As he stepped
to the veranda he met Mr. Minturn.
"Well?" that gentleman asked tersely.
Mr. Tower shook his head. He was studying law. He needed money to complete
his course. He needed many things he could acquire from James Minturn.
"It's a problem," he said guardedly.
"You draw your salary for its solution," Mr. Minturn said tartly. "Work on
the theory I outlined; if it fails after a fair test, we'll try another.
Those boys have got to be saved. They are handsome little chaps with fine
bodies and good ancestry. What happened just now?"
"They tried to rush William on the top step. William evaporated, so they
took the fall themselves."
"Exactly right," commented Mr. Minturn. "Get the idea and work on it.
Every rough, heartless thing they attempt, if at all possible, make it a
boomerang to strike them their own blow; but you reserve blows as a last
resort. There is the bell." Mr. Minturn called: "Boys! The breakfast bell
is ringing. Come!"
There was not a sound. Mr. Minturn nodded to the tutor. Together they
ascended the stairs. They found the boys hidden in a wardrobe. Mr. Minturn
opened the door, gravely looking at them.
"Boys," he said, "you're going to live with me after this, so you're to
come when I call you. You're going to eat the food that makes _men_ of
boys, where I can see what you get. You are going to do what I believe
best for you, until you are so educated that you are capable of thinking
for yourselves. Now what you must do, is to come downstairs and take your
places at the table. If you don't feel hungry, you needn't eat; but I
would advise you to make a good meal. I intend to send you to the country
in the car. You'll soon want food. With me you will not be allowed to
lunch at any hour, in cafes and restaurants. If you don't eat your
breakfast you will get nothing until noon. It is up to you. Come on!"
Neither boy moved. Mr. Minturn smiled at them.
"The sooner you quit this, the sooner all of us will be comfortable," he
said casually. "Observe my size. See Mr. Tower, a college athlete, who
will teach you ball, football, tennis, swimming in lakes and riding, all
the things that make boys manly men; better stop sulking in a closet and
show your manhood. With one finger either of us can lift you out and carry
you down by force; and we will, but why not be gentlemen and walk down as
Both boys looked at him; then at each other, but remained where they were.
"Time is up!" said Mr. Minturn. "They've had their chance, Mr. Tower. If
they won't take it, they must suffer the consequences. Take Malcolm, I'll
Instantly both boys began to fight. No one bribed them to stop, struck
them, or did anything at all according to precedent. They raged until they
exposed a vulnerable point, then each man laid hold, lifted and carefully
carried down a boy, placing him on a chair. James instantly slid to the
"Take James' chair away!" ordered Mr. Minturn. "He prefers to be served on
"I don't either. I slipped," cried James.
"Then excuse yourself, resume your chair, and be mighty careful you don't
James looked at his father sullenly, but at last muttered, "Excuse me,"
and took the chair. With bright inflamed eyes they stared at their almost
unknown father, who now had them in his power; at a woman they scarcely
knew, whom they were told to call Aunt Margaret; at a strange man who was
to take Lucette's place, and who had a grip that made hers seem feeble,
and who was to teach them the things of which they knew nothing, and
therefore hated; and at a boy nearer their own size and years, whom their
father called William. Both boys refused fruit and cereal, rudely
demanding cake and ice cream. Margaret Winslow looked at her brother in
despair. He placidly ate his breakfast, remarking that the cook was a
treasure. As he left the table Mr. Minturn laid the papers before his
sister, indicating the paragraphs he had read, then calling for his car he
took the tutor and the boys and left for his office. He ordered them to
return for him at half-past eleven, and with minute instructions as to how
they were to proceed, Mr. Tower and William drove to the country to begin
the breaking in of the Minturn boys.
They disdained ball, did not care for football, improvised golf clubs and
a baseball were not interesting, further than the use of the clubs on each
other, which was not allowed. They did not care what the flowers were,
they jerked them up by the roots when they saw it annoyed Mr. Tower, while
every bird in range flew from a badly aimed stone. They tried chasing a
flock of sheep, which chased beautifully for a short distance, then a ram
declined to run farther and butted the breath from Malcolm's small body
until it had to be shaken in again. They ran amuck and on finding they
were not pursued, gave up, stopping on the bank of a creek. There they
espied tiny shining fish swimming through the water and plunged in to try
to capture them. When Mr. Tower and William came up, both boys were busy
chasing fish. From a bank where they sat watching came a proposal from
"I'll tell you fellows, I believe if we could build a dam we could catch
them. Gather stones and pile them up till I get my shoes off."
Instantly both boys obeyed. Mr. Tower and William stripped their feet, and
rolled their trousers. Into the creek they went setting stones, packing
with sod and muck, using sticks and leaves until in a short time they had
a dam before which the water began rising, then overflowing.
"Now we must wait until it clears," said William.
So they sat under a tree to watch until in the clean pool formed they
could see little fish gathering. Then the boys lay on the banks and tried
to catch them with their hands, and succeeded in getting a few. Mr. Tower
suggested they should make pools, one on each side of the creek, for their
fish, so they eagerly went to work. They pushed and slapped each other,
they fought over the same stone, but each constructed with his own hands a
stone and mud enclosed pool in which to pen his fish. They were really
interested in what they were doing, they really worked, also soon they
were really tired, they were really hungry. With imperative voice they
"You forget what your father told you at breakfast," said Mr. Tower. "He
knew you were coming to the country where you couldn't get food. William
and I are not hungry. We want to catch these little fish, and see who can
get the most. We think it's fun. We can't take the car back until your
father said to come."
"You take us back right now, and order meat, and cake, and salad and ice
cream, lots of it!" stormed James.
"I have to obey your father!" said Mr. Tower.
"I just hate fathers!" cried James.
"I'll wager you do!" conceded Mr. Tower.
James stared open mouthed.
"I can see how you feel," said Mr. Tower companionably. "When a fellow has
been coddled by nurses all his life, has no muscle, no appetite except for
the things he shouldn't have, and never has done anything but silly park-
playing, it must be a great change to be out with men, and doing as they
Both boys were listening, so he went on: "But don't feel badly, and don't
waste breath hating. Save it for the grand fun we are going to have, and
next time good food is before you, eat like men. We don't start back for
an hour yet; see which can catch the most fish in that time."
"Where is Lucette?" demanded James.
"Gone back to her home across the ocean; you'll never see her again," said
"Wish I could a-busted her head before she went!" said James regretfully.
"No doubt," laughed Mr. Tower. "But break your own and see how it feels
before you try it on any one else."
"I wish I could break yours!" cried James angrily.
"No doubt again," agreed the tutor, "but if you do, the man who takes my
place may not know how to make bows and arrows, or build dams, or anything
that's fun, while he may not be so patient as I am."
"Being hungry ain't fun," growled Malcolm.
"That's your own fault," Mr. Tower reminded him. "You wouldn't eat. That
was a good breakfast."
"Wasn't a thing Lucette gave us!" scoffed James.
"But you don't like Lucette very well," said Mr. Tower. "After you've been
a man six months, you won't eat cake for breakfast; or much of it at any
"Lucette is never coming back?" marvelled Malcolm.
"Never!" said Mr. Tower conclusively.
"How soon are we going home?" demanded James.
"Never!" replied Mr. Tower. "You are going to live where you were last
night, after this."
"Where is Mamma?" cried Malcolm.
"Gone for the summer," explained Mr. Tower.
"I know. She always goes," said James. "But she took us before. I just
hate it. I like this better. We make no difference to her anyway. Let her
"Ain't we rich boys any more?" inquired Malcolm.
"I don't know," said Mr. Tower. "That is your father's business. I think
you have as much money as ever, but from now on, you are going to live
"We won't live like men!" cried both boys.
"Now look here," said Mr. Tower kindly, "you may take my word for it that
a big boy almost ten years old, and another nearly his age, who can barely
read, who can't throw straight, who can't swim, or row, or walk a mile
without puffing like an engine, who begins to sweat over lifting a few
stones, is a mighty poor specimen. You think you are wonders because
you've heard yourself called big, fine boys; you are soft fatties. I can
take you to the park and pick out any number of boys half your size and
age who can make either of you yell for mercy in three seconds. You aren't
boys at all; if you had to get on your feet and hike back to town, before
a mile you'd be lying beside the road bellowing worse than I've heard you
yet. You aren't as tough and game as half the girls of your age I know."
"You shut your mouth!" cried James in rage. "Mother'll fire you!"
"It is you who are fired, young man," said the tutor. "Your mother is far
away by this time. She left you boys with your father, who pays me to make
_men_ of you, so I'm going to do it. You are big enough to know that
you'll never be men, motoring around with nurses, like small babies;
eating cake and ice cream when your bones and muscles are in need of
stiffening and toughening. William, peel off your shirt, and show these
chaps how a man's muscle should be."
William obeyed, swelling his muscles.
"Now you try that," suggested Mr. Tower to James, "and see how much muscle
you can raise."
"I'm no gutter snipe," he sneered. "I'm a gentleman! I don't need muscle.
I'm never going to work."
"But you've just been working!" cried the tutor. "Carrying those stones
was work, and you'll remember it took both of you to lift one that
William, who is only a little older than you, James, moved with one hand.
You can't _play_ without working. You've got to pull to row a boat, or
hold a horse. You must step out lively to play tennis, or golf, or to
skate, while if you try to swim without work, you'll drown."
"I ain't going to do those things!" retorted James.
"No, you are going to spend your life riding in an automobile with a
nurse, feeding you cake!" scoffed the tutor.
William shouted and turned a cart wheel so flashingly quick that both boys
jumped, James' face coloured a slow red, so the tutor took hope.
"I see that makes you blush," he said. "No wonder! You should be as tough
as leather, and spinning along this creek bank like William. Instead you
are a big, bloated softy. You carry too much fat for your size, while you
are mushy as pudding! If I were you, I'd show my father how much of a man
I could be, instead of how much of a baby."
"Father isn't a gentleman!" announced Malcolm. "Lucette said so!"
"Hush!" cried Mr. Tower. "Don't you ever say that again! Your father is
one of the big men of this great city: one of the men who think, plan, and
make things happen, that result in health, safety and comfort for all of
us. One of the men who is going to rule, not only his own home, but this
city, and this whole state, one of these days. You don't _know_ your
father. You don't know what men say and think of him. You do know that
Lucette was fit for nothing but to wash and dress you like babies, big
boys who should have been _ashamed_ to let a woman wait on them. You do
know that she is on her way back where she came from, because she could
not do her work right. And you have the nerve to tell me what she said
about a fine man like your father. I'm amazed at you!"
"Gentlemen don't work!" persisted Malcolm. "Mother said so!"
"I'm sorry to contradict your mother, but she forgot something," said Mr.
Tower. "If the world has any gentlemen it surely should be those born for
generations of royal and titled blood, and reared from their cradles in
every tradition of their rank. Europe is full of them, and many are superb
men. I know a few. Now will you tell me where they are to-day? They are
down in trenches six feet under ground, shivering in mud and water, half
dead for sleep, food, and rest, trying to save the land of their birth,
the homes they own, to protect the women and children they love. They are
marching miles, being shot down in cavalry rushes, and blown up in boats
they are manning, in their fight to save their countries. _Gentlemen don't
work!_ You are too much of an idiot to talk with, if you don't know how
gentlemen of birth, rank and by nature are working this very day."
The descent on him was precipitate and tumultuous.
"The war!" shouted both boys in chorus. "Tell us about the war! Oh I just
love the war!" cried Malcolm. "When I'm a man I'm going to have a big
shiny sword, and ride, and fight, and make the enemy fly! You ought to
seen Gretchen and Lucette fight! They ain't either one got much hair
The tutor could not help laughing; but he made room for a boy on either
side of him, and began on the war. It was a big subject, there were phases
of it that shocked and repulsed him; but it was his task to undo the wrong
work of ten years, he was forced to use the instrument that would
accomplish that end. With so much material he could tell of things
unavoidable, that men of strength and courage were doing, not forgetting
the boys and the _women_. William stretched at his feet and occasionally
made a suggestion, or asked a question, while James and Malcolm were
interested in something at last. When it was time to return, neither
wanted to go.
"Your father's orders were to come for him at half-past eleven," reminded
Mr. Tower. "I work for him, so I must obey!"
"Nobody pays any attention to father," cried James. "I order you to stay
here and tell of the fighting. Tell about the French boy who wouldn't show
where the troops were."
"Oh, I am to take orders from you, am I?" queried Mr. Tower. "All right!
Pay my salary and give me the money to buy our lunch!"
James stood thinking a second. "I have all the money I want," he said. "I
go to Mrs. Ranger for my money. Mother always makes her give me what I ask
"You have forgotten that you have moved, and brought only yourselves,"
said Mr. Tower. "Your mother and the money are gone. Your father pays the
bills now, and if you'll watch sharp, you'll see that things have changed
since this time yesterday. Every one pays all the attention there is to
_father_ now. What we have, and do, and want, must come from him, and as
it's a big contract, and he's needed to help manage this city, we'd better
begin thinking about father, and taking care of him as much as we can. Now
we are to obey him. Come on William. It's lunch time, and I'm hungry."
The boys climbed into the car without a word, and before it had gone a
mile Malcolm slipped against the tutor and shortly thereafter James slid
to the floor, tired to insensibility and sound asleep. So Mr. Minturn
found them when he came from his office. He looked them over carefully,
wet, mud-stained, grimy, bruised and sleeping in exhaustion.
"Poor little soldiers," he said. "Your battle has been a hard one I see. I
hope to God you gained a victory."
He entered the car, picked up James and taking him in his arms laid the
tired head on his breast, leaning his face against the boy's hair. When
the car stopped at the new house, the tutor waited for instructions.
"Wake them up, make them wash themselves, and come to lunch," said Mr.
Minturn. "Afterward, if they are sleepy, let them nap. They must establish
regular habits at the beginning. It's the only way."
Dashes of cold water helped, so William and the tutor telling each other
how hungry they were, brought two boys ready to eat anything, to the
table. Cake and cream were not mentioned. Bread and milk, cold meat,
salad, and a plain pudding were delicious. Between bites James studied his
father, then suddenly burst forth: "Are you a gentleman?"
"I try to be," answered Mr. Minturn.
"Are you running this city?" put in Malcolm.
"I am doing what I can to help," said his father.
"Make Johnston take me home to get my money."
"You have no home but this," said Mr. Minturn. "Your old home now belongs
to the city of Multiopolis. It is to be torn up and made over into a place
where sick children can be cured. If you are ever too ill for us to
manage, we'll take you there to be doctored."
"Will mother and Lucette be there?" asked James.
Malcolm nudged his brother.
"Can't you remember?" he said. "Lucette has gone across the ocean, and she
is never coming back, goody! goody! And you know about how much mother
cares when we are sick. She's _coming_ the other _way_, when anybody is
_sick_. She just hates sick people. Let _them_ go, and get your _money!_"
Thus reminded, James began again, "I want to get my money."
"Your money came from your mother, so it went with your home, your
clothes, and your playthings," explained Mr. Minturn. "You have none until
you _earn_ some. I can give you a home, education, and a fine position
when you are old enough to hold it; but I _can't give you money. No one
ever gave me any. I always had to work for mine. From now on you are going
to live with me, so if you have money you'll have to go to work and earn
Both boys looked aghast at him. "Ain't we rich any more?"
"No," said Mr. Minturn. "Merely comfortable!"
James leaned back in his chair, twisting his body in its smooth linen
covering. He looked intently at the room, table and people surrounding it.
He glanced from the window at the wide green lawn, the big trees, and for
an instant seemed to be listening to the birds singing there. He laid down
his fork, turning to his brother. Then he exploded the bomb that shattered
"Oh damn being rich!" he cried. "I like being _comfortable_ a _lot_
better! Malcolm, being rich has put us about ten miles behind where we
ought to be. We're baby-girl softies! We wouldn't a-faced the guns and
_not_ told where the soldiers were, _we'd_ a-bellered for cake. Brace up!
Let's get in the game! Father, have we got to go on the street and hunt
work, or can you give us a job?"
James Minturn tried to speak, then pushing back his chair left the table
precipitately. James Jr. looked after him doubtfully. He turned to Aunt
"Please excuse me," he said. "I guess he's choked. I'd better go pound him
on the back like Lucette does us."
Malcolm looked at Aunt Margaret. "Mother won't let us work," he announced.
"It's like this Malcolm," said Aunt Margaret gently. "Mother had charge of
you for ten years. The women she employed didn't train you as boys should
be, so mother has turned you over to father. For the next ten years you
will try _another_ plan; after that, you will be big enough to decide how
you want to live; but now I think you will just love father's way, if you
will behave yourself long enough to find out what fun it is."
"Mother won't like it," said Malcolm positively.
"I think she does dear, or she wouldn't have gone and left you to try it,"
said Aunt Margaret. "She knew what your father would think you should do;
if she hadn't thought he was _right_ she would have taken you with her, as
"I just hate being taken on trains and boats with her. So does James! We
like the dam, the fish, and we're going to have bows and arrows, to shoot
"And we are going to swim and row," added William.
"And we are going to be soldiers, and hurl back the enemy," boasted
Malcolm, "ain't we Mr. Tower?"
"Indian scouts are more fun," suggested the tutor.
"And there is the money we must earn, if we've _got_ to," said Malcolm. "I
guess father is telling James how. I'll go ask him too. Excuse me, Aunt
"Of all the surprises I ever did have, this is the biggest one!" said Aunt
Margaret. "I was afraid I never could like them. I thought this morning it
would take years."
"There is nothing like the receptivity and plasticity of children," said
Later James Minturn appeared on his veranda with a small boy clinging to
each hand. The trio came forth with red eyes, but firmly allied.
"Call the car, if you please, William," said Senior. "I am going to help
build that dam higher, and see how many fish I can catch for my pool."
Malcolm walked beside him, rubbing his head caressingly across an arm. "We
don't have to go on the streets and hunt," he announced. "Father is going
to find us work. While the war is so bad, we'll drink milk, and send what
we earn to boys who have no father. The war won't take our father, will
"To-night we will pray God not to let that happen," said Aunt Margaret.
"Is there room in the car for me too, James? I haven't seen one of those
little brook fish in years!"
James Jr. went to her and leaned against her chair. "I got three in my
pool. You may see mine! I'll give you one."
"I'd love to see them," said Aunt Margaret. "I'll go bring my hat. But I
think you shouldn't give the fish away, James. They belong to God. He made
their home in the water. If you take them out, you will kill them, and He
won't like that. Let's just look at them, and leave them in the water."
"Malcolm, the fish 'belong to God,'" said James, turning to his brother.
"We may play with them, but we mustn't take them out of the water and hurt
"Well, who's going to take them out of the water?" cried Malcolm. "I'm
just going to scoot one over into father's pool to start him. Will you
give him one too?" "Yes," said James Jr.
"The next money I earn, I shall send to the war; but the first time I rake
the lawn, and clean the rugs, I'll give what I earn to father, so he will
have more time to play with us. Father is the biggest man in this city!"
"It may take a few days to get a new regime started," said father, "I've
lived only for work so long; but as soon as it's possible, my day will be
so arranged that some part of it shall be yours, boys, to show me what you
are doing. I think one day can be given wholly to going to the country."
With an ecstatic whoop they rushed James Minturn, whose wide aching arms
opened to them.
_The Wheel of Life_
"What are your plans for this summer, Leslie?" asked Mr. Winton over his
paper at breakfast.
"The real question is, what are yours?"
"I have none," said Mr. Winton. "I can't see my way to making any for
myself. Between us, strictly, Swain has been hard hit. He gave me my
chance in life. It isn't in my skin to pack up and leave for the sea-shore
or the mountains on the results of what he helped me to, and allow him to
put up his fight _alone_. If you understood, you'd be ashamed of me if I
"But I do understand, Daddy!" cried the girl. "What makes you think I
don't? All my life you've been telling me how you love Mr. Swain and what
a splendid big thing he did for you when you were young. Is the war making
business awfully hard for you men?"
"Close my girl," said Mr. Winton. "Bed rock close!"
"That is what cramps Mr. Swain?" she continued.
"It is what cramps all of us," said Mr. Winton. "It hit him with peculiar
force because he had made bad investments. He was running light anyway in
an effort to recoup. All of us are on a tension brought about by the
result of political changes, to which we were struggling to adjust
ourselves, when the war began working greater hardships and entailing
millions of loss and expenses."
"I see, and that's why I said the real question was, 'what are your
plans?'" explained Leslie, "because when I find out, if perchance they
should involve staying on the job this summer, why I wanted to tell you
that I'm on the job too. I've thought out the grandest scheme."
"Yes, Leslie? Tell me!" said Mr. Winton.
"It's like this," said Leslie. "Everybody is economizing, shamelessly--and
that's a bully word, Daddy, for in most instances it is shameless. Open
faced 'Lord save me and my wife, and my son John and his wife.' In our
women's clubs and lectures, magazines and sermons, we've had a steady dose
all winter of hard times, and economy, and I've tried to make my friends
see that their efforts at economy are responsible for the very hardest
crux of the hard times."
"You mean, Leslie--?" suggested Mr. Winton eagerly.
"I mean all of us quit using eggs, dealers become frightened, eggs soar
higher. Economize on meat, packers buy less, meat goes up. All of us
discharge our help, army of unemployed swells by millions. It works two
ways and every friend I've got is economizing for herself, and with every
stroke for herself she is weakening her nation's financial position and
putting a bigger burden on the man she is trying to help."
"Well Leslie--" cried her father.
"The time has come for women to find out what it is all about, then put
their shoulders to the wheel of life and push. But before we gain enough
force to start with any momentum, women must get together and decide what
they want, what they are pushing for."
"Have you decided what you are pushing for?"
"Unalterably!" cried the girl.
"And what is it?" asked her father.
"My happiness! My joy in life!" she exclaimed.
"And exactly in what do you feel your happiness consists, Leslie?" he
"You and Douglas! My home and my men and what they imply!" she answered
instantly. "As I figure it, it's _homes_ that count, Daddy. If the nation
prospers, the birth rate of Americans has got to keep up, or soon the
immigrants will be in control everywhere, as they are in places, right
now. Births imply homes. Homes suggest men to support them, women to
control them. If the present unrest resolves itself into a personal
question, so far as the women are concerned at least, if you are going to
get to primal things, whether she realizes it or no, what each woman
really _wants_ she learns, as Nellie Minturn learned when she took her
naked soul into the swamp and showed it to her God--what each woman
_wants_ is her man, her cave, and her baby. If the world is to prosper,
_that_ is woman's work, why don't you men who are doing big things
_realize_ it, and do yourselves what women are going to be forced from
home to _do_, mighty soon now, if you don't!"
"Well Leslie!" cried Mr. Winton.
"You said that before Daddy!" exclaimed the girl. "Yet what you truly want
of a woman is a home and children. Children imply to all men what I am to
you. If some men have not reared their children so that they receive from
them what you get from me, it is time for the men to _realize_ this, and
change their methods of _rearing_ their daughters and sons. A home should
mean to every man what your home does to you. If all men do not get from
their homes what you do, in most cases it is _their own fault_. Of course
I know there are women so abominably obsessed with self, they refuse to
become mothers, and prefer a cafe, with tangoing between courses, to a
home; such women should have first the ducking stool, and if that isn't
efficacious, extermination; they are a disgrace to our civilization and
the weakest spot we have. They are at the bottom of the present boiling
discontent of women who really want to be home loving, home keeping. They
are directly responsible for the fathers, sons, brothers, and lovers with
two standards of morals. A man reared in the right kind of a home, by a
real mother, who goes into other homes of the same kind, ruled by similar
mothers, when he leaves his, and marries the right girl and establishes
for himself a real home, is not going to go _wrong_. It is the sons,
lovers, and husbands of the women who refuse home and children, and carry
their men into a perpetual round of what they deem pleasure in their
youth, who find life desolate when age begins to come, and who instantly
rebel strongest against the very conditions they have made. I've been
listening to you all my life, Daddy, and remembering mother, reading,
thinking, and watching for what really pays, and believe me, _I've found
out_. I gave Nellie Minturn the best in my heart the other day, but you
should see what I got back. Horrors, Daddy! Just plain horrors! I said to
Douglas that night when I read him the letter I afterward showed you, that
if, as she suggested, I was 'ever faintly tempted to neglect home life for
society,' in her I would have all the 'horrible example' I'd ever need,
and rest assured I shall."
"Poor woman!" exclaimed Mr. Winton.
"Exactly!" cried Leslie. "And the poorest thing about it is that _she_ is
not to _blame_ in the least. You and my mother could have made the same
kind of a woman of me. If you had fed me cake instead of bread; if you had
given me candy instead of fruit; if you had taken me to the show instead
of entertaining me at home; if you had sent me to summer resorts instead
of summering with me in the country, you'd have had another Nellie on your
hands. The world is full of Nellies, but where one woman flees too strict
and monotonous a home, to make a Nellie out of herself, ten are taken out
and deliberately moulded, drilled and fashioned into Nellies by their own
parents. I have lain awake at nights figuring this, Daddy; some woman is
urging me every day to join different movements, and I've been forced to
study this out. I know the cause of the present unrest among women."
"And it is--?" suggested Mr. Winton.
"It is the rebound from the pioneer lives of our grandmothers! They and
their mothers were at one extreme; we are at the widest sweep of the
other. They were forced to enter the forest and in most cases defend
themselves from savages and animals; to work without tools, to live with
few comforts. In their determination to save their children from
hardships, they lost sense, ballast and reason. They have saved them to
such an extent they have _lost_ them. By the very method of their rearing,
they have robbed their children of love for, and interest in, home life,
and with their own hands sent them to cafes and dance halls, when they
should be at their homes training their children for the fashioning of
future homes. I tell you, Daddy----"
"Leslie, tell me this," interposed Mr. Winton. "Did you get any small part
of what you have been saying to me, from me? Do you feel what I have tried
to teach you, and the manner in which I have tried to rear you, have put
your love for me into your heart and such ideas as you are propounding
into your head?"
"Of course, Daddy!" cried the girl. "Who else? Mother was dear and
wonderful, but I scarcely remember her. What you put into the growth of
me, that is what is bound to come out, when I begin to live
"This is the best moment of my life!" said Mr. Winton. "From your birth
you have been the better part of me, to me; and with all my heart I have
_tried_ to fashion you into such a woman for a future home, as your mother
began, and you have completed for me. Other things have failed me; I count
you my success, Leslie!"
"Oh Daddy!" cried the happy girl.
"Now go back to our start," said Mr. Winton. "You have plans for the
summer, of course! I realized that at the beginning. Are you ready to tell
"I am ready to ask you," she said.
"Thank you," said Mr. Winton. "I appreciate the difference. Surely a man
does enjoy counting for something with his women."
"Spoiled shamelessly, dearest, that's what you are," said Leslie. "A
spoiled, pampered father! But to conclude. Mr. Swain helped you. Pay back,
Daddy, no matter what the cost; pay _back_. You help _him_, I'll help
_you!_ My idea was this: for weeks I've foreseen that you wouldn't like to
leave business this summer. Douglas is delving into that investigation Mr.
Minturn started him on and he couldn't be dragged away. He's perfectly
possessed. Of course where my men are, like Ruth, 'there will be I also,'
so for days I've been working on a plan, and now it's all finished and
waiting your veto or approval."
"Thrilling, Leslie! Tell quickly. I'm all agog!"
"It's this: let's not go away and spend big sums on travel, dress, and
close the house, and throw our people out of work. Do you realize, Daddy,
how long you've had the same housekeeper, cook, maid and driver? Do you
know how badly I'd feel to let them go, and risk getting them back in the
fall? My scheme is to rent, for practically nothing, a log cabin I know, a
little over an hour's run from here--a log cabin with four rooms and a
lean-to and a log stable, beside a lake where there is grand fishing and
"But Leslie----" protested Mr. Winton.
"Now listen!" cried the girl. "The rent is nominal. We get the house,
stable, orchard, garden, a few acres and a rented cow. The cabin has two
tiny rooms above, one for you, the other for Douglas. Below, it has a room
for me, a dining-room and a kitchen. The big log barn close beside has
space in the hay-mow for the women, and in one side below for our driver,
the other for the cars. Over the cabin is a grapevine. Around it there are
fruit trees. There is a large, rich garden. If I had your permission I
could begin putting in vegetables tomorrow that would make our summer
"You are not going to tell me Rogers would touch a garden?" queried Mr.
"I am going to tell you that Rogers has been with me in every step of my
investigations," replied Leslie. "Yesterday I called in my household and
gave them a lecture on the present crisis; I found them a remarkably well-
informed audience. They had a very distinct idea that if I economized by
dismissing them for the summer, and leaving the house with a caretaker,
what it would mean to _them_. Then I took my helpers into the car and
drove out the Atwater road--you know it well Daddy, the road that runs
smooth over miles of country and then instead of jumping into a lake as it
seems to be going to, it swings into corduroy through a marsh, runs up on
a little bridge spanning the channel between two lakes, lifts to Atwater
lake shore, than which none is more lovely--you remember the white sand
floor and the clean water for swimming--climbs another hill, and opposite
beautiful wood, there stands the log cabin I told you of, there I took
them and explained. They could clean up in a day; Rogers could plant the
garden and take enough on one truck load, for a beginning. We may have
wood for the fireplace by gathering it from the forest floor. Rogers
"Are you quite _sure_ about Rogers?"
"Suppose you ride with him going down and ask him yourself," suggested
Leslie. "Rogers is anxious to hold his place. You see it's like this: all
of them get regular wages, have a chance at the swimming, rowing,
gardening and the country. The saving comes in on living expenses. Out
there we have the cow, flour, fish, and poultry from the neighbours, fresh
eggs, butter and the garden--I can cut expenses to one-fourth; lights
altogether. Moonshine and candles will serve; cooking fuel, gasoline.
Daddy will you go to-night and see?"
"No, I won't go to-night and see, I'll go swim and fish," said Mr. Winton.
"Great Heavens, Leslie, do you really mean to live all _summer_ beside a
lake, where a man can expand, absorb and exercise? I must get out my
fishing tackle. I wonder what Douglas has! I've tried that lake when bass
were slashing around wild thorn and crab trees shedding petals and bugs.
It is man's sport there! I like black bass fishing. I remember that water.
Fine for swimming! Not the exhilaration of salt, perhaps, but grand,
clean, old northern Indiana water, cooled by springs. I love it! Lord,
Leslie! Why don't we _own_ that place? Why haven't we homed there, and
been comfortable for years?"
"I shall go ahead then?" queried Leslie.
"You shall go a-hurry, Miss, hurry!" cried Mr. Winton. "I'll give you just
two days. One to clean, the other to move; to-morrow night send for me. I
want a swim; and cornbread, milk, and three rashers of bacon for my dinner
and nothing else; and can't the maids have my room and let me have a
blanket on the hay?"
"But father, the garden!" cautioned Leslie.
"Oh drat the garden!" cried Mr. Winton.
"But if you go dratting things, I can't economize," the girl reminded him.
"Rogers and I have that garden down on paper, and it's _late_ now."
"Leslie, don't the golf links lie half a mile from there?"
"Closer Daddy," said the girl, "right around the corner."
"I don't see why you didn't think of it before," he said. "Have you told
"Not a word!" exclaimed Leslie. "I'm going to invite him out when
everything is in fine order."
"Don't make things fine," said Mr. Winton. "Let's have them rough!"
"They will be rough enough to suit you, Daddy," laughed Leslie, "but a few
things have got to be done."
"Then hurry, but don't forget the snake question."
"People are and have been living there for generations; common care is all
that is required," said Leslie. "I'll be careful, but if you tell Bruce
until I am ready, I'll never forgive you."
Mr. Winton arose. "'Come to me arms,'" he laughed, spreading them wide. "I
wonder if Douglas Bruce knows what a treasure he is going to possess!"
"Certainly not!" said Leslie emphatically. "I wouldn't have him know for
the world! I am going to be his progressive housekeeping party, to which
he is invited every day, after we are married, and each day he has got a
new surprise coming, that I hope he will like. The woman who endures and
wears well in matrimony is the one who 'keeps something to herself.' It's
my opinion that modern marriage would be more satisfactory if the engaged
parties would not come so nearly being married, for so long before they
are. There is so little left for afterward, in most cases, that it soon
"Leslie, where did you get all of this?" he asked.
"I told you. From you, mostly," explained the girl, "and from watching my
friends. Go on Daddy! And send Rogers back soon! I want to begin buying
radish seed and onion sets."
So Leslie telephoned Douglas Bruce that she would be very busy with
housekeeping affairs the coming two days. She made a list of what would be
required for that day, left the maids to collect it, and went to buy seeds
and a few tools; then returning she divided her forces and leaving part to
pack the bedding, old dishes and things absolutely required for living,
she took the loaded car and drove to Atwater Lake.
The owner of the land, a cultured, refined gentleman, who spoke the same
brand of English used by the Wintons, and evinced a knowledge of the same
books, was genuinely interested in Leslie and her plans. It was a land
owner's busiest season, but he spared a man an hour with a plow to turn up
the garden, and came down himself and with practiced hand swung the
scythe, and made sure about the snakes. Soon the maids had the cabin walls
swept, the floors scrubbed, the windows washed, and that was all that
could be done. The seeds were earth enfolded in warm black beds, with
flower seeds tucked in for borders. The cut grass was raked back, and
spread to dry for the rented cow.
When nothing further was to be accomplished there, they returned to
Multiopolis to hasten preparations for the coming day. It was all so good
Leslie stopped at her father's office and poured a flood of cloverbloom,
bird notes and water shimmer into his willing ears.
She seldom went to Douglas Bruce's offices, but she ran up a few moments
to try in person to ease what she felt would be disappointment in not
spending the evening with her. The day would be full far into the night
with affairs at home, he would notice the closing of the house, and she
could not risk him spoiling her plans by finding out what they were,
before she was ready. She found him surrounded with huge ledgers, delving
and already fretting for Mickey. She stood laughing in his doorway, half
piqued to find him so absorbed in his work, and so full of the boy he was
missing, that he seemed to take her news that she was too busy to see him
that night with quite too bearable calmness; but his earnestness about
coming the following night worked his pardon, so Leslie left laughing to
herself over the surprise in store for him.
Bruce bent over his work, praying for Mickey. Everything went wrong
without him. He was enough irritated by the boy who was not Mickey, that
when the boy who was Mickey came to his door, he was delighted to see him.
He wanted to say: "Hello, little friend. Come get in the game, quickly!"
but two considerations withheld him: Mickey's manners were a trifle too
casual; at times they irritated Douglas, and if he took the boy into his
life as he hoped to, he would come into constant contact with Leslie and
her friends, who were cultured people of homing instincts. Mickey's
manners must be polished, and the way to do it was not to drop to his
level, but to improve Mickey. And again, the day before, he had told
Mickey to sit down and wait until an order was given him. To invite him to
"get in the game" now, was good alliteration; it pleased the formal Scotch
ear as did many another United States phrase of the street, so musical,
concise and packed with meaning as to become almost classic; but in his
heart he meant as Mickey had suspected, "to do him good"; so he must lay
his foundations with care. What he said was a cordial and cheerful, "Good
"Noon," corrected Mickey. "Right ye are! Good it is! What's my job? 'Scuse
me! I won't ask that again!"
"Plenty," Douglas admitted, "but first, any luck with the paper route?"
"All over but killing the boy I sold it to, if he doesn't do right. I
ain't perfectly crazy about him. He's a papa's boy and pretty soft; but
maybe he'll learn. It was a fine chance for me, so I soaked it."
"To whom did you sell, Mickey?" asked Douglas.
"To your driver, for his boy," answered Mickey. "We talked it over last
night. Say, was your driver 'the same continued,' or did you detect
glimmerings of beefsteak and blood in him this morning?"
"Why?" asked Douglas curiously.
"Oh he's such a stiff," explained Mickey. "He looks about as lively as a
"And did you make an effort to enliven him, Mickey?"
"Sure!" cried Mickey. "The operation was highly successful! The patient
made a fine recovery. Right on the job, right on the street, right at the
thickest traffic corner, right at 'dead man's crossing,' he let out a
whoop that split the features of a copper who hadn't smiled in years. It
was a double play and it worked fine. What I want to know is whether it
was fleeting or holds over."
"It must be 'over,' Mickey," said Douglas. "Since you mention it, he
opened the door with the information that it was a fine morning, while I
recall that there was colour on his face, and light in his usually dull
"Good!" cried Mickey. "Then there's some hope that his kid may go and do
"The boy who takes your route has to smile, Mickey?"
"Well you see most of my morning customers are regulars, so they are used
to it," said Mickey. "The minute one goes into his paper, he's lost 'til
knocking off time; but if he starts on a real-wide-a-wake-soulful smile,
he's a chance of reproducing it, before the day is over, leastwise he has
_more_ chance than if he never smiles."
"So it is a part of the contract that the boy smiles at his work?"
"_It is so!_" exclaimed Mickey. "I asked Mr. Chaffner at the _Herald_
office what was a fair price for my route. You see I've sold the _Herald_
from the word go, and we're pretty thick. So he told me what he thought.
It lifted my lid, but when I communicated it to Henry, casual like, he
never batted an eye, so I am going to try his boy 'til I'm satisfied. If
he can swing the job it's a go."
"Your customers should give you a vote of thanks!"
"And so they will!" cried Mickey. "You see the men who buy of me are the
top crust of Multiopolis, the big fine men who can smile, and open their
heads and say a pleasant word, and they like to. It does them good! I live
on it! I always get my papers close home as I can so I have time coming
down on the cars to take a peep myself, and nearly always there are at
least three things on the first page that hit you in the eye. Once long
ago I was in the _Herald_ office with a note to Chaffner the big chief,
and I gave him a little word jostle as I passed it over. He looked at me
and laughed good natured like, so I handed him this: 'Are you the big
stiff that bosses the make-up?' He says, 'Mostly! I can control it if I
want to.' 'All right for you,' I said. 'I live by selling your papers, but
I could sell a heap more if I had a better chance.' 'Chance in what way?'
said he. 'Building your first page,' said I. He said, 'Sure. What is it
that you want?' 'I'll show you,' said I. 'I'll give you the call I used
this morning.' Then I cut loose and just like on the street I cried it,
and he yelled some himself. 'What more do you want?' he asked me. 'A lot,'
I said. 'You see I only got a little time on the cars before my men begin
to get on, and my time is precious. I can't read second, third, and forty-
eleventh pages hunting up eye-openers. I must get them _first_ page,
'cause I'm short time, and got my pack to hang on to. Now makin'-up, if
you'd a-put that "Germans driven from the last foot of Belgian soil,"
first, it would a-been better, 'cause that's what every living soul wants.
Then the biggest thing about _ourselves_. Place it prominent in big black
letters, where I get it quick and easy, and then put me in a scream. Get
me a laugh in my call, and I'll sell you out all by myself. Folks are
spending millions per annum for the glad scream at night, they'll pay just
the same morning, give them a chance. I live on a laugh,' said I, to
Chaffner. He looked me over and he said: 'When you get too big for the
papers, you come to me and I'll make a top-notch reporter out of you.'
'Thanks Boss,' said I, 'you couldn't graft that job on to me, with
asphaltum and a buzz saw. I'm going to be on your front page 'fore you
know it, but it's going to be a poetry piece that will raise your hair; I
ain't going to frost my cake, poking into folks' private business, telling
shameful things on them that half kills them. Lots of times I see them
getting their dose on the cars, and they just shiver, and go white, and
shake. Nix on the printing about shame, and sin, and trouble in the papers
for me!' I said, and he just laughed and looked at me closer and he said,
'All right! Bring your poetry yourself, and if they don't let you in, give
them this,' and he wrote a line I got at home yet."
"Is that all about Chaffner?" asked Douglas.
"Oh no!" said Mickey. "He said, 'Well here is a batch of items being
written up for first page to-morrow. According to you, I should give
"Belgian citizens flocking back to search for devastated homes," the first
place?' 'That's got the first place in the heart of every man in God's
world. Giving it first place is putting it where it belongs.' 'Here's the
rest of it,' said he, 'what do you want next?' 'At the same glance I
always take, _this_,' said I, pointing to where it said, 'Movement on foot
to eliminate graft from city offices.' 'You think that comes next?' said
he. 'Sure!' said I. 'Hits the pocketbook! Sure! Heart first! Money next!'
'Are you so sure it isn't exactly the reverse?' asked he. 'Know it!' said
I. 'Watch the crowds any day, and every clip you'll see that loving a
man's country, and his home, and his kids, and getting fair play, comes
_before_ money.' 'Yes, I guess it does!' he said thoughtful like, 'least
it _should_. We'll make it the policy of this paper to put it that way
anyhow. What next?' 'Now your laugh,' said I. 'And while you are at it,
make it a scream!' 'All right,' he said, 'I haven't anything funny in yet,
but I'll get it. Now show me where you want these spaced.' So I showed
him, and every single time you look, you'll see Mr. _Herald_ is made up
that way, and you ought to hear me trolling out that Belgian line, soft
and easy, snapping in the graft quicklike, and then yelling out the
scream. You bet it catches them! If I can't get that kid on to his job,
'spect I'll have to take it back myself; least if he can't get on, he's
doomed to get off. I gave him a three days' try, and if he doesn't catch
by that time, he never will."
"But how are you going to know?" asked Douglas.
"I'm going down early and follow him and drill him like a Dutch recruit,
and he'll wake up my men, and interest them and fetch the laugh or he'll
"You think you got a fair price?" asked Douglas.
"Know it! All it's worth, and it looks like a margin to me," said Mickey.
"That's all right then, and thank you for telling me about the papers,"
said Douglas. "I enjoyed it immensely. I see you are a keen student of
"'Bout all the studying I get a chance at," said Mickey.
"You'll have opportunity at other things now," said Douglas. "Since you
mention it, I see your point about the papers, and if that works on
business men going to business, it should work on a _jury_. I think I've
had it in mind, that I was to be a compendium of information and impress
on a judge or jury what I know, and why what I say is _right_. You give me
the idea that a better way would be to impress on them what _they_ know.
Put it like this: first soften their hearts, next touch their pockets,
then make them laugh; is that the idea?"
"Duck again! You're doing fine! I ain't made my living selling men papers
for this long not to know the big boys _some_, and more. Each man is
different, but you can cod him, or bluff him, or scare him, or let down
the floodgates; some way you can put it over if you take each one
separate, and hit him where he lives. See? Finding his dwelling place is
"Mickey, I do see," cried Douglas. "What you tell me will be invaluable to
me. You know I am from another land so I have personal ways of thinking
and the men I'm accustomed to are different. What I have been centring on
is myself, and what I can do."
"Won't work here! What you got to get a bead on here is the _other
fellow_, and how to _do_ him. See?"
"Take these books and fly," said Douglas. "I've spent one of the most
profitable hours of my life, but concretely it is an hour, and we're going
to the Country Club to-night and may stay as long as we choose and we're
going to have a grand time. You like going to the country, don't you?"
"Ain't words for telling," said Mickey, gathering his armload of books and
racing down the hall.
When the day's work was finished, with a load of books to deliver before
an office closed, they started on the run to the club house. Bruce waited
in the car while Mickey sped in with the books, and returning, to save
opening the door and crossing before the man he was fast beginning to
idolize, Mickey took one of his swift cuts across the back end of the car.
While his hand was outstretched and his foot uplifted to enter, from a
high-piled passing truck toppled a box, not a big box, but large enough to
knock Mickey senseless and breathless when it struck him between the
shoulders. Douglas had Mickey in the car with orders for the nearest
hospital, toward which they were hurrying, when the boy opened his eyes
and sat up. He looked inquiringly at Douglas, across whose knees he had
"Wha--what happened?" he questioned with his first good indrawing of
"A box fell from a truck loaded past reason and almost knocked the life
out of you!" cried Douglas.
"'Knocked the life out of me?'" repeated Mickey.
"You've been senseless for three blocks, Mickey."
A slow horror spread over Mickey's face.
"Wha--what was you going to do?" he wavered.
"Running for a hospital," said Douglas.
"S'pose my head had been busted, and I'd been stretched on the glass table
and maybe laid up for days or knocked out altogether?" demanded Mickey.
"You'd have had the best surgeon in Multiopolis, and every care, Mickey,"
"Ugh!" Mickey collapsed utterly.
"Must be hurt worse than I thought," was Douglas' mental comment. "He
couldn't be a coward!"
But Mickey almost proved that very thing by regaining his senses again,
and immediately falling into spasms of long-drawn, shuddering sobbing.
Douglas held him carefully, every moment becoming firmer in his conviction
of one of two things: either he was hurt worse or he was----He would not
let himself think it; but never did boy appear to less advantage. Douglas
urged the driver to speed. Mickey heard and understood.
"Never mind," he sobbed. "I'm all right Mr. Bruce; I ain't hurt. Not much!
I'll be all right in a minute!"
"If you're not hurt, what _is_ the matter with you?"
"A minute!" gasped Mickey, as another spasm of sobbing caught him.
"I am amazed!" cried Douglas. "A little jolt like that! You are acting
like a coward, Mickey!"
The word straightened Mickey.
"Coward! Who? Me!" he cried. "Me that's made my way since I can remember?
Coward, did you say?"
"Of course not, Mickey!" cried Douglas. "Excuse me. I shouldn't have said
that. But it is unlike you. What the devil _is_ the matter with you?"
"I helped carry in a busted head and saw the glass table once," he cried.
"Inch more and it would a-been my head--and I might have been knocked out
for days. O Lord! What will I _do?_"
"Mickey you're not afraid?" asked Douglas.
"'Fraid? Me? 'Bout as good as coward!"
"What is the matter with you?" demanded Douglas.
Mickey stared at him amazedly.
"O Lord!" he panted. "You don't s'pose I was thinking about _myself_, do
"I don't know what to think!" exclaimed Douglas.
"Sure! How could you?" conceded Mickey.
He choked back another big dry sob.
"Gimme a minute to think!" he said. "O God! What have I been doing? I see
now what I'm up against!"
"Mickey," said Douglas Bruce, suddenly filled with compassion, "I am
beginning to understand. Won't you tell me?"
"I guess I got to," panted Mickey. "But I'm afraid! O Lord, I'm so
"Afraid of me, Mickey?" asked Douglas gently now.
"Yes, afraid of you," said Mickey, "and afraid of her. Afraid of her, more
"You mean Miss Winton?" pursued Douglas.
"Yes, I mean Miss Winton," replied Mickey. "I guess I don't risk her, or
you either. I guess I go to the Nurse Lady. She's used to folks in
trouble. She's trained to know what to do. Why sure! That's the thing!"
"Your back hurts, Mickey?" questioned Douglas.
"My back hurts? Aw forget my back!" cried Mickey roughly. "I ain't hurt,
honest I ain't."
Douglas took a long penetrating look at the small shaking figure, then he
said softly: "I wish you wanted to confide in me, Mickey! I can't tell you
how glad I'd be if you'd trust me; but if you have some one else you like
better, where is it you want to be driven?"
"_Course_ there ain't any one I _like_ better than you, 'cept----" he
caught a name on the tip of his tongue and paused. "You see it's like
this: I've been to this Nurse Lady before, and I know exactly what she'll
say and think. If you don't think like I do, and if you go and take----"
"Gracious Heaven Mickey, you don't think I'd try to take anything you
wanted, do you?" demanded Douglas.
"I don't know _what_ you'd do," said Mickey. "I only know what one Swell
Dame I struck wanted to do."
"Mickey," said Douglas, "when I don't know what you are thinking about, I
can't be of much help; but I'd give considerable if you felt that you had
come to trust me."
"Trust you? Sure I trust you, about myself. But this is----" cried Mickey.
"This is about some one else?" asked Douglas casually.
Mickey leaned forward, his elbows on his knees, his head bent with intense
"Much as you are doing for me," he muttered, "if you really care, if it
makes a difference to you--of course I can _trust_ you, if you _don't_
think as I do!"
"You surely can!" cried Douglas Bruce. "Now Mickey, both of us are too
shaken to care for the country; take me home with you and let's have
supper together and become acquainted. We can't know each other on my
ground alone. I must meet you on yours, and prove that I'm really your
friend. Let's go where you live and have supper."
"Go where I live? You?" cried Mickey.
"Yes! You come from where you live fresh and clean each day, so can I.
Take me home with you. I want to go dreadfully, Mickey. Please?"
"Well, I ain't such a cad I'm afraid for you to see how I live," he said.
"Though you wouldn't want to come more than once; that ain't what I was
"Think all you like, Mickey," said Douglas. "Henry, drive to the end of
the car line where you've gone before."
On the way he stopped at a grocery, then a cafe, and at each place piles
of tempting packages were placed in the car. Mickey's brain was working
fast. One big fact was beginning to lift above all the others. His
treasure was slipping from him, and for her safety it had to be so. If he
had been struck on the head, forced to undergo an operation, and had lain
insensible for hours--Mickey could go no further with that thought. He had
to stop and proceed with the other part of his problem. Of course she was
better off with him than where she had been; no sane person could dispute
that; she was happy and looking improved each day but--could she be made
happier and cared for still better by some one else, and cured without the
long wait for him to earn the money? If she could, what would be the right
name for him, if he kept her on what he could do? So they came at last as
near as the car could go to Mickey's home in Sunrise Alley. At the foot of
the last flight Mickey paused, package laden.
"Now I'll have to ask you to wait a minute," he said.
He ascended, unlocked the door and stepped inside. Peaches' eyes gleamed
with interest at the packages, but she waved him back. As Mickey closed
the door she cried: "My po'try piece! Say it, Mickey!"
"You'll have to wait again," said Mickey. "I got hit in the back with a
box and it knocked the poetry out of me. You'll have to wait 'til after
supper to-night, and then I'll fix the grandest one yet. Will that do?"
"Yes, if the box hit hard, Mickey," conceded Peaches.
"It hit so blame hard, Miss Chicken, that it knocked me down and knocked
me out, and Mr. Bruce picked me up and carried me three blocks in his car
before I got my wind or knew what ailed me."
Peaches' face was tragic; her hands stretched toward him. Mickey was
young, and his brain was whirling so it whirled off the thought that came
"And if it had hit me _hard_ enough to bust my head, and I'd been carried
to a hospital to be mended and wouldn't a-knowed what hurt me for days,
like sometimes, who'd a-fed and bathed you, Miss?"
Peaches gazed at him wordless.
"You close your mouth and tell me, Miss," demanded Mickey, brutal with
emotion. "If I hadn't come, what would you have done?"
Peaches shut her mouth and stared while it was closed. At last she
ventured a solution.
"You'd a-told our Nurse Lady," she said.
Mickey made an impatient gesture.
"Hospitals by the dozen, kid," he said, "and not a chance in a hundred I'd
been took to the 'Star of Hope,' and times when your head is busted, you
don't know a thing for 'most a _week_. What would you _do_ if I didn't
come for a week?"
"I'd have to slide off the bed if it killed me, and roll to the cupboard,
and make the things do," said Peaches.
"You couldn't get up to it to save your life," said Mickey, "and there's
never enough for a week, and you couldn't get to the water--what would you
"Mickey, what would I do?" wavered Peaches.
"Well, I know, if you don't," said Mickey, "and I ain't going to tell you;
but I'll tell you this much: you'd be scared and hurt worse than you ever
was yet; and it's soon going to be too hot for you here, so I got to move
you to a cooler place, and I don't risk being the only one knowing where
you are another day; or my think-tank will split. It's about split now. I
don't want to do it, Miss, but I got to, so you take your drink and lemme
straighten you, and wash your face, and put your pretties on; then Mr.
Douglas Bruce, that we work for now, is coming to see you and he's going
to stay for supper--Now cut it out! Shut right up! Here, lemme fix you,
and you see, Miss, that you act a _lady_ girl, and don't make me lose my
job with my boss, or we can't pay our rent. Hold still 'til I get your
ribbon right, and slip a fresh nightie on you. There!"
"Mickey----" began Peaches.
"Shut up!" said Mickey in desperation. "Now mind this, Miss! You belong to
_me!_ I'm taking care of you. You answer what he says to you pretty or
you'll not get any supper this night, and look at them bundles he got. Sit
up and be nice! This is a party!"
Mickey darted around arranging the room, then he flung the door wide and
Douglas Bruce climbed the stairs and entered the door. As Mickey expected,
his gaze centred and stopped. Mickey began taking packages from his hands;
still gazing Douglas yielded them. Then he stepped forward when Mickey
placed the chair, and said: "Mr. Douglas Bruce, this is Lily. This is Lily
Peaches O'Halloran. Will you have a chair?" He turned to Peaches, putting
his arm around her as he bent to kiss her.
"He's all right, Flowersy-girl," he said. "We _like_ to have him come.
He's our friend. Our big, nice friend who won't let a soul on earth get
us. He doesn't even want us himself, 'cause he's got _one_ girl. His girl
is the Moonshine Lady that sent you the doll. Maybe she will come some day
too, and maybe she'll make the Precious Child a new dress."
Peaches clung to Mickey and past him peered at her visitor, and the
visitor smiled his most winning smile. He recognized Leslie's ribbon, and
noted the wondrous beauty of the small white face, now slowly flushing the
faintest pink with excitement. Still clinging she smiled back. Wordless,
Douglas reached over to pick up the doll. Then the right thought came at
"Has the Precious Child been good to-day?" he asked.
Peaches released Mickey, dropping back against her pillows, her smile now
dazzling. "Jus' as _good!_" she said.
"Fine!" said Douglas, straightening the long dress.
"An' that's my slate and lesson," said Peaches.
"Fine!" he said again as if it were the only adjective he knew. Mickey
glanced at him, grinning sympathetically, "She does sort of knock you
out!" he said.
"'Sort' is rather poor. Completely, would be better," said Douglas. "She's
the loveliest little sister in all the world, but she doesn't resemble
you. Is she like your mother?"
"Lily isn't my sister, only as you wanted me for a brother," said Mickey.
"She was left and nobody was taking care of her. She's my find and you bet
your life I'm going to _keep_ her!"
"Oh! And how long have you had her, Mickey?"
"Now that's just what the Orphings' Home dame asked me," said Mickey with
finality, "and we are nix on those dames and their askings. Lily is
_mine_, I tell you. My family. Now you visit with her, while I get
Mickey pushed up the table, then began opening packages and setting forth
their contents. Watching him as he moved swiftly and with assurance, his
head high, his lips even, a slow deep respect for the big soul in the
little body began to dawn in the heart of Douglas Bruce. Understanding of
Mickey came in rivers swift and strong, so while he wondered and while he
watched entranced, over and over in his head went the line: "Fools rush in
where angels fear to tread." With every gentle act of Mickey for the child
Douglas' liking for him grew. When he went over the supper and with the
judgment of a nurse selected the most delicate and suitable food for her,
in the heart of the Scotsman swelled the marvel and the miracle that
_The Advent of Nancy and Peter_
When Leslie began the actual work of closing her home, and loading what
would be wanted for the country, she found the task too big for the time
allotted, so wisely telephoned Douglas that she would be compelled to
postpone seeing him until the following day.
"Leslie," laughed Douglas over the telephone, "did you ever hear of the
man who cut off his dog's tail an inch at a time, so it wouldn't hurt so
"I have heard of that particular dog."
"Well this process of cutting me out of seeing you a day at a time reminds
me of 'that particular dog,' and evokes my sympathy for the canine as
"It's a surprise I am getting ready for you Douglas!"
"It _is_ a surprise all right," answered Douglas, "and 'Bearer of
Morning,' I have got a surprise for you too."
"Oh goody!" cried Leslie. "I adore surprises."
"You'll adore this one!"
"You might give me a hint!" she suggested.
"Very well!" he laughed. "Since last I saw you I have seen the loveliest
girl of my experience."
"Delightful! Am I to see her also?"
"Undoubtedly!" explained Douglas. "And you'll succumb to her charms just
as I did."
"When may I meet her?" asked Leslie eagerly.
"I can't say; but soon now."
"All right!" agreed the girl. "Be ready at four tomorrow."
Leslie sat in frowning thought a moment, before the telephone; then her
ever-ready laugh bubbled. "Why didn't I think of it while I was talking?"
she wondered. "Of course Mickey has taken him to visit his Lily. I must
see about that wrong back before bone and muscle harden."
Then she began her task. By evening she had a gasoline stove set up, the
kitchen provisioned, her father's room ready and arrangements sufficiently
completed that she sent the car to bring him to his dinner of cornbread
and bacon under an apple tree scattering pink petals beside the kitchen
door, with every lake breeze. Then they went fishing and landed three
Douglas Bruce did not mind one day so much, but he resented two. When he
greeted Mickey that morning it was not with the usual salutation of his
friends, so the boy knew there was something not exactly right. He was not
feeling precisely jovial himself. He was under suspended judgment. He knew
that when Mr. Bruce had time to think, and talk over the situation with
Miss Winton, both of them might very probably agree with the woman who
said the law would take Lily from him and send her to a charity home for
Mickey, with his careful drilling on the subject, was in rebellion. _How_
could the law take Lily from him? Did the law know anything _about_ her?
Was she in the _care_ of the law when he found her? Wouldn't the law have
allowed her to _die_ grovelling in filth and rags, inside a few more
hours? He had not infringed on the law in any way; he had merely saved a
life the law had forgotten to save. Now when he had it in his possession
and in far better condition than he found it, how had the law _power_ to
step in and rob him?
Mickey did not understand, while there was nothing in his heart that could
teach him. He had found her: he would keep her. The Orphans' Home should
not have her. The law should not have her. Only one possibility had any
weight with Mickey: if some one like Mr. Bruce or Miss Winton wanted to
give her a home of luxury, could provide care at once, for which he would
be forced to wait years to earn the money; if they wanted her and the
Carrel man of many miracles would come for them; did he dare leave her
lying an hour, when there was even hope she might be on her feet? There
was only one answer to that with Mickey, but it pained his heart. So his
greeting lacked its customary spontaneity.
By noon Bruce was irritable, while Mickey was as nearly sullen as it was
in his nature to be. At two o'clock Bruce surrendered, summoned the car,
and started to the golf grounds. He had played three holes when he
overtook a man who said a word that arrested his attention, so both of
them stopped, and with notebooks and pencils, under the shade of a big
tree began discussing the question that meant more to Douglas than
anything save Leslie. He dismissed Mickey for the afternoon, promising him
that if he would be ready by six, he should be driven back to the city.
Mickey wanted to be alone to concentrate on his problem, but people were
everywhere and more coming by the carload. He could see no place that was
then, or would be, undisturbed. The long road with grassy sides gave big
promises of leading somewhere to the quiet retreat he sought. Telling the
driver that if he were not back by six, he would be waiting down the road,
Mickey started on foot, in thought so deep he scarcely appreciated the
grasses he trod, the perfume in his nostrils, the concert in his ears.
What did at last arouse him was the fact that he was very thirsty. That
made him realize that this was the warmest day of the season. Instantly
his mind flew to the mite of a girl, lying so patiently, watching the
clock for his coming, living for the sound of his feet.