Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Miss Billy Married by Eleanor H. Porter

Part 3 out of 7

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

difficulty; but it took fully ten of her precious
minutes to unearth from its obscure hiding-place
the blue-and-gold ``Bride's Helper'' cookbook,
one of Aunt Hannah's wedding gifts.

On the way to the kitchen, Billy planned her
dinner. As was natural, perhaps, she chose the
things she herself would like to eat.

``I won't attempt anything very elaborate,''
she said to herself. ``It would be wiser to have
something simple, like chicken pie, perhaps. I
love chicken pie! And I'll have oyster stew first
--that is, after the grapefruit. Just oysters
boiled in milk must be easier than soup to make.
I'll begin with grapefruit with a cherry in it, like
Pete fixes it. Those don't have to be cooked,
anyhow. I'll have fish--Bertram loves the fish
course. Let me see, halibut, I guess, with egg
sauce. I won't have any roast; nothing but the
chicken pie. And I'll have squash and onions.
I can have a salad, easy--just lettuce and stuff.
That doesn't have to be cooked. Oh, and the
peach fritters, if I get time to make them. For
dessert--well, maybe I can find a new pie or
pudding in the cookbook. I want to use that
cookbook for something, after hunting all this
time for it!''

In the kitchen Billy found exquisite neatness,
and silence. The first brought an approving light
to her eyes; but the second, for some unapparent
reason, filled her heart with vague misgiving.
This feeling, however, Billy resolutely cast from
her as she crossed the room, dropped her book
on to the table, and turned toward the shining
black stove.

There was an excellent fire. Glowing points
of light showed that only a good draft was needed
to make the whole mass of coal red-hot. Billy,
however, did not know this. Her experience of
fires was confined to burning wood in open grates
--and wood in open grates had to be poked to
make it red and glowing. With confident alacrity
now, therefore, Billy caught up the poker, thrust
it into the mass of coals and gave them a fine
stirring up. Then she set back the lid of the
stove and went to hunt up the ingredients for
her dinner.

By the time Billy had searched five minutes
and found no chicken, no oysters, and no halibut,
it occurred to her that her larder was not,
after all, an open market, and that one's provisions
must be especially ordered to fit one's needs.
As to ordering them now--Billy glanced at the
clock and shook her head.

``It's almost five, already, and they'd never
get here in time,'' she sighed regretfully. ``I'll
have to have something else.''

Billy looked now, not for what she wanted, but
for what she could find. And she found: some
cold roast lamb, at which she turned up her nose;
an uncooked beefsteak, which she appropriated
doubtfully; a raw turnip and a head of lettuce,
which she hailed with glee; and some beets,
potatoes, onions, and grapefruit, from all of which
she took a generous supply. Thus laden she
went back to the kitchen.

Spread upon the table they made a brave

``Oh, well, I'll have quite a dinner, after all,''
she triumphed, cocking her head happily. ``And
now for the dessert,'' she finished, pouncing on
the cookbook.

It was while she was turning the leaves to find
the pies and puddings that she ran across the
vegetables and found the word ``beets'' staring
her in the face. Mechanically she read the line

``Winter beets will require three hours to cook.
Use hot water.''

Billy's startled eyes sought the clock.

Three hours--and it was five, now!

Frenziedly, then, she ran her finger down the

``Onions, one and one-half hours. Use hot
water. Turnips require a long time, but if cut
thin they will cook in an hour and a quarter.''

``An hour and a quarter, indeed!'' she moaned.

``Isn't there anything anywhere that doesn't
take forever to cook?''

``Early peas-- . . . green corn-- . . . summer
squash-- . . .'' mumbled Billy's dry lips.
``But what do folks eat in January--_January_?''

It was the apparently inoffensive sentence,
``New potatoes will boil in thirty minutes,''
that brought fresh terror to Billy's soul, and set
her to fluttering the cookbook leaves with renewed
haste. If it took _new_ potatoes thirty minutes
to cook, how long did it take old ones? In
vain she searched for the answer. There were
plenty of potatoes. They were mashed, whipped,
scalloped, creamed, fried, and broiled; they were
made into puffs, croquettes, potato border, and
potato snow. For many of these they were boiled
first--``until tender,'' one rule said.

``But that doesn't tell me how long it takes to
get 'em tender,'' fumed Billy, despairingly. ``I
suppose they think anybody ought to know that
--but I don't!'' Suddenly her eyes fell once more
on the instructions for boiling turnips, and her
face cleared. ``If it helps to cut turnips thin,
why not potatoes?'' she cried. ``I _can_ do that,
anyhow; and I will,'' she finished, with a sigh of
relief, as she caught up half a dozen potatoes and
hurried into the pantry for a knife. A few minutes
later, the potatoes, peeled, and cut almost to
wafer thinness, were dumped into a basin of cold

``There! now I guess you'll cook,'' nodded
Billy to the dish in her hand as she hurried to the

Chilled by an ominous unresponsiveness, Billy
lifted the stove lid and peered inside. Only a mass
of black and graying coals greeted her. The fire
was out.

``To think that even you had to go back on me
like this!'' upbraided Billy, eyeing the dismal
mass with reproachful gaze.

This disaster, however, as Billy knew, was not
so great as it seemed, for there was still the gas
stove. In the old days, under Dong Ling's rule,
there had been no gas stove. Dong Ling disapproved
of ``devil stoves'' that had ``no coalee,
no woodee, but burned like hellee.'' Eliza,
however, did approve of them; and not long after her
arrival, a fine one had been put in for her use. So
now Billy soon had her potatoes with a brisk
blaze under them.

In frantic earnest, then, Billy went to work.
Brushing the discarded onions, turnip, and beets
into a pail under the table, she was still confronted
with the beefsteak, lettuce, and grapefruit.
All but the beefsteak she pushed to one side
with gentle pats.

``You're all right,'' she nodded to them. ``I
can use you. You don't have to be cooked,
bless your hearts! But _you_--!'' Billy scowled
at the beefsteak and ran her finger down the index
of the ``Bride's Helper''--Billy knew how to
handle that book now.

``No, you don't--not for me!'' she muttered,
after a minute, shaking her finger at the
tenderloin on the table. ``I haven't got any `hot
coals,' and I thought a `gridiron' was where they
played football; though it seems it's some sort
of a dish to cook you in, here--but I shouldn't
know it from a teaspoon, probably, if I should
see it. No, sir! It's back to the refrigerator for
you, and a nice cold sensible roast leg of lamb for
me, that doesn't have to be cooked. Understand?
_Cooked_,'' she finished, as she carried the
beefsteak away and took possession of the hitherto
despised cold lamb.

Once more Billy made a mad search through
cupboards and shelves. This time she bore back
in triumph a can of corn, another of tomatoes, and
a glass jar of preserved peaches. In the kitchen
a cheery bubbling from the potatoes on the stove
greeted her. Billy's spirits rose with the steam.

``There, Spunkie,'' she said gayly to the cat,
who had just uncurled from a nap behind the
stove. ``Tell me I can't get up a dinner! And
maybe we'll have the peach fritters, too, ``she
chirped. ``I've got the peach-part, anyway.''

But Billy did not have the peach fritters, after
all. She got out the sugar and the flour, to be
sure, and she made a great ado looking up the
rule; but a hurried glance at the clock sent her
into the dining-room to set the table, and all
thought of the peach fritters was given up.



At five minutes of six Bertram and Calderwell
came. Bertram gave his peculiar ring and let
himself in with his latchkey; but Billy did not
meet him in the hall, nor in the drawing-room.
Excusing himself, Bertram hurried up-stairs.
Billy was not in her room, nor anywhere on that
floor. She was not in William's room. Coming
down-stairs to the hall again, Bertram confronted
William, who had just come in.

``Where's Billy?'' demanded the young husband,
with just a touch of irritation, as if he
suspected William of having Billy in his pocket.

William stared slightly.

``Why, I don't know. Isn't she here?''

``I'll ask Pete,'' frowned Bertram.

In the dining-room Bertram found no one,
though the table was prettily set, and showed
half a grapefruit at each place. In the kitchen
--in the kitchen Bertram found a din of rattling
tin, an odor of burned food--, a confusion of
scattered pots and pans, a frightened cat who peered
at him from under a littered stove, and a flushed,
disheveled young woman in a blue dust-cap and
ruffled apron, whom he finally recognized as his

``Why, Billy!'' he gasped.

Billy, who was struggling with something at
the sink, turned sharply.

``Bertram Henshaw,'' she panted, ``I used to
think you were wonderful because you could
paint a picture. I even used to think I was a
little wonderful because I could write a song.
Well, I don't any more! But I'll tell you who _is_
wonderful. It's Eliza and Rosa, and all the rest
of those women who can get a meal on to the
table all at once, so it's fit to eat!''

``Why, Billy!'' gasped Bertram again, falling
back to the door he had closed behind him.
``What in the world does this mean?''

``Mean? It means I'm getting dinner,'' choked
Billy. ``Can't you see?''

``But--Pete! Eliza!''

``They're sick--I mean he's sick; and I said
I'd do it. I'd be an oak. But how did I know
there wasn't anything in the house except stuff
that took hours to cook--only potatoes? And
how did I know that _they_ cooked in no time, and
then got all smushy and wet staying in the water?
And how did I know that everything else would
stick on and burn on till you'd used every dish
there was in the house to cook 'em in?''

``Why, Billy!'' gasped Bertram, for the third
time. And then, because he had been married
only six months instead of six years, he made the
mistake of trying to argue with a woman whose
nerves were already at the snapping point.
``But, dear, it was so foolish of you to do all this!
Why didn't you telephone? Why didn't you get

Like an irate little tigress, Billy turned at bay.

``Bertram Henshaw,'' she flamed angrily, ``if
you don't go up-stairs and tend to that man up
there, I shall _scream_. Now go! I'll be up when I

And Bertram went.

It was not so very long, after all, before Billy
came in to greet her guest. She was not stately
and imposing in royally sumptuous blue velvet
and ermine; nor yet was she cozy and homy in
bronze-gold crpe de Chine and swan's-down.
She was just herself in a pretty little morning
house gown of blue gingham. She was minus the
dust-cap and the ruffled apron, but she had a dab
of flour on the left cheek, and a smutch of crock
on her forehead. She had, too, a cut finger on her
right hand, and a burned thumb on her left. But
she was Billy--and being Billy, she advanced
with a bright smile and held out a cordial hand--
not even wincing when the cut finger came under
Calderwell's hearty clasp.

``I'm glad to see you,'' she welcomed him.
``You'll excuse my not appearing sooner, I'm
sure, for--didn't Bertram tell you?--I'm playing
Bridget to-night. But dinner is ready now,
and we'll go down, please,'' she smiled, as she
laid a light hand on her guest's arm.

Behind her, Bertram, remembering the scene
in the kitchen, stared in sheer amazement. Bertram,
it might be mentioned again, had been
married six months, not six years.

What Billy had intended to serve for a ``simple
dinner'' that night was: grapefruit with cherries,
oyster stew, boiled halibut with egg sauce, chicken
pie, squash, onions, and potatoes, peach fritters,
a ``lettuce and stuff'' salad, and some new pie
or pudding. What she did serve was: grapefruit
(without the cherries), cold roast lamb, potatoes
(a mush of sogginess), tomatoes (canned, and
slightly burned), corn (canned, and very much
burned), lettuce (plain); and for dessert, preserved
peaches and cake (the latter rather dry and
stale). Such was Billy's dinner.

The grapefruit everybody ate. The cold lamb
too, met with a hearty reception, especially after
the potatoes, corn, and tomatoes were served--
and tasted. Outwardly, through it all, Billy was
gayety itself. Inwardly she was burning up with
anger and mortification. And because she was
all this, there was, apparently, no limit to her
laughter and sparkling repartee as she talked
with Calderwell, her guest--the guest who,
according to her original plans, was to be shown how
happy she and Bertram were, what a good wife
she made, and how devoted and _satisfied_ Bertram
was in his home.

William, picking at his dinner--as only a
hungry man can pick at a dinner that is uneatable--
watched Billy with a puzzled, uneasy
frown. Bertram, choking over the few mouthfuls
he ate, marked his wife's animated face and
Calderwell's absorbed attention, and settled into
gloomy silence.

But it could not continue forever. The preserved
peaches were eaten at last, and the stale
cake left. (Billy had forgotten the coffee--
which was just as well, perhaps.) Then the four
trailed up-stairs to the drawing-room.

At nine o'clock an anxious Eliza and a remorseful,
apologetic Pete came home and descended
to the horror the once orderly kitchen and dining-
room had become. At ten, Calderwell, with very
evident reluctance, tore himself away from Billy's
gay badinage, and said good night. At two
minutes past ten, an exhausted, nerve-racked Billy
was trying to cry on the shoulders of both Uncle
William and Bertram at once.

``There, there, child, don't! It went off all
right,'' patted Uncle William.

``Billy, darling,'' pleaded Bertram, ``please
don't cry so! As if I'd ever let you step foot in
that kitchen again!''

At this Billy raised a tear-wet face, aflame with
indignant determination.

``As if I'd ever let you keep me _from_ it, Bertram
Henshaw, after this!'' she contested. ``I'm
not going to do another thing in all my life but
_cook!_ When I think of the stuff we had to eat,
after all the time I took to get it, I'm simply crazy!
Do you think I'd run the risk of such a thing as
this ever happening again?''



On the day after his dinner with Mr. and Mrs.
Bertram Henshaw, Hugh Calderwell left Boston
and did not return until more than a month had
passed. One of his first acts, when he did come,
was to look up Mr. M. J. Arkwright at the address
which Billy had given him.

Calderwell had not seen Arkwright since they
parted in Paris some two years before, after a six-
months tramp through Europe together. Calderwell
liked Arkwright then, greatly, and he lost
no time now in renewing the acquaintance.

The address, as given by Billy, proved to be an
attractive but modest apartment hotel near the
Conservatory of Music; and Calderwell was
delighted to find Arkwright at home in his
comfortable little bachelor suite.

Arkwright greeted him most cordially.

``Well, well,'' he cried, ``if it isn't Calderwell!
And how's Mont Blanc? Or is it the Killarney
Lakes this time, or maybe the Sphinx that I
should inquire for, eh?''

``Guess again,'' laughed Calderwell, throwing
off his heavy coat and settling himself comfortably
in the inviting-looking morris chair his
friend pulled forward.

``Sha'n't do it,'' retorted Arkwright, with a
smile. ``I never gamble on palpable uncertainties,
except for a chance throw or two, as I gave
a minute ago. Your movements are altogether
too erratic, and too far-reaching, for ordinary
mortals to keep track of.''

``Well, maybe you're right,'' grinned Calderwell,
appreciatively. ``Anyhow, you would have
lost this time, sure thing, for I've been working.''

``Seen the doctor yet?'' queried Arkwright,
coolly, pushing the cigars across the table.

``Thanks--for both,'' sniffed Calderwell, with
a reproachful glance, helping himself. ``Your
good judgment in some matters is still unimpaired,
I see,'' he observed, tapping the little gilded band
which had told him the cigar was an old favorite.
``As to other matters, however,--you're wrong
again, my friend, in your surmise. I am not sick,
and I have been working.''

``So? Well, I'm told they have very good
specialists here. Some one of them ought to
hit your case. Still--how long has it been
running?'' Arkwright's face showed only grave

``Oh, come, let up, Arkwright,'' snapped
Calderwell, striking his match alight with a vigorous
jerk. ``I'll admit I haven't ever given any _special_
indication of an absorbing passion for work. But
what can you expect of a fellow born with a
whole dozen silver spoons in his mouth? And
that's what I was, according to Bertram Henshaw.
According to him again, it's a wonder I
ever tried to feed myself; and perhaps he's right
--with my mouth already so full.''

``I should say so,'' laughed Arkwright.

``Well, be that as it may. I'm going to feed
myself, and I'm going to earn my feed, too. I
haven't climbed a mountain or paddled a canoe,
for a year. I've been in Chicago cultivating the
acquaintance of John Doe and Richard Roe.''

``You mean--law?''

``Sure. I studied it here for a while, before
that bout of ours a couple of years ago. Billy
drove me away, then.''

``Billy!--er--Mrs. Henshaw?''

``Yes. I thought I told you. She turned down
my tenth-dozen proposal so emphatically that I
lost all interest in Boston and took to the tall
timber again. But I've come back. A friend of
my father's wrote me to come on and consider a
good opening there was in his law office. I came
on a month ago, and considered. Then I went
back to pack up. Now I've come for good, and
here I am. You have my history to date. Now
tell me of yourself. You're looking as fit as a
penny from the mint, even though you have
discarded that `lovely' brown beard. Was that
a concession to--er--_Mary Jane_?''

Arkwright lifted a quick hand of protest.

`` `Michael Jeremiah,' please. There is no
`Mary Jane,' now,'' he said a bit stiffly.

The other stared a little. Then he gave a low

`` `Michael Jeremiah,' '' he repeated musingly,
eyeing the glowing tip of his cigar. ``And to
think how that mysterious `M. J.' used to
tantalize me! Do you mean,'' he added, turning
slowly, ``that no one calls you `Mary Jane'

``Not if they know what is best for them.''

``Oh!'' Calderwell noted the smouldering fire
in the other's eyes a little curiously. ``Very
well. I'll take the hint--Michael Jeremiah.''

``Thanks.'' Arkwright relaxed a little. ``To
tell the truth, I've had quite enough now--of
Mary Jane.''

``Very good. So be it,'' nodded the other, still
regarding his friend thoughtfully. ``But tell me
--what of yourself?''

Arkwright shrugged his shoulders.

``There's nothing to tell. You've seen. I'm

``Humph! Very pretty,'' scoffed Calderwell.
``Then if _you_ won't tell, I _will_. I saw Billy a
month ago, you see. It seems you've hit the trail
for Grand Opera, as you threatened to that night
in Paris; but you _haven't_ brought up in vaudeville,
as you prophesied you would do--though, for
that matter, judging from the plums some of the
stars are picking on the vaudeville stage, nowadays,
that isn't to be sneezed at. But Billy says
you've made two or three appearances already on
the sacred boards themselves--one of them a
subscription performance--and that you created
no end of a sensation.''

``Nonsense! I'm merely a student at the Opera
School here,'' scowled Arkwright.

``Oh, yes, Billy said you were that, but she also
said you wouldn't be, long. That you'd already
had one good offer--I'm not speaking of marriage--
and that you were going abroad next
summer, and that they were all insufferably
proud of you.''

``Nonsense!'' scowled Arkwright, again, coloring
like a girl. ``That is only some of--of Mrs.
Henshaw's kind flattery.''

Calderwell jerked the cigar from between his
lips, and sat suddenly forward in his chair.

``Arkwright, tell me about them. How are
they making it go?''

Arkwright frowned.

``Who? Make what go?'' he asked.

``The Henshaws. Is she happy? Is he--on
the square?''

Arkwright's face darkened.

``Well, really,'' he began; but Calderwell interrupted.

``Oh, come; don't be squeamish. You think
I'm butting into what doesn't concern me; but
I'm not. What concerns Billy does concern me.
And if he doesn't make her happy, I'll--I'll kill

In spite of himself Arkwright laughed. The
vehemence of the other's words, and the fierceness
with which he puffed at his cigar as he fell
back in his chair were most expressive

``Well, I don't think you need to load revolvers
nor sharpen daggers, just yet,'' he observed grimly.

Calderwell laughed this time, though without
much mirth.

``Oh, I'm not in love with Billy, now,'' he
explained. ``Please don't think I am. I shouldn't
see her if I was, of course.''

Arkwright changed his position suddenly, bringing
his face into the shadow. Calderwell talked
on without pausing.

``No, I'm not in love with Billy. But Billy's
a trump. You know that.''

``I do.'' The words were low, but steadily

``Of course you do! We all do. And we want
her happy. But as for her marrying Bertram--
you could have bowled me over with a soap bubble
when I heard she'd done it. Now understand:
Bertram is a good fellow, and I like him. I've
known him all his life, and he's all right. Oh, six
or eight years ago, to be sure, he got in with a set
of fellows--Bob Seaver and his clique--that
were no good. Went in for Bohemianism, and
all that rot. It wasn't good for Bertram. He's
got the confounded temperament that goes with
his talent, I suppose--though why a man can't
paint a picture, or sing a song, and keep his temper
and a level head I don't see!''

``He can,'' cut in Arkwright, with curt emphasis.

``Humph! Well, that's what I think. But,
about this marriage business. Bertram admires
a pretty face wherever he sees it--_to paint_, and
always has. Not but that he's straight as
a string with women--I don't mean that;
but girls are always just so many pictures to be
picked up on his brushes and transferred to his
canvases. And as for his settling down and
marrying anybody for keeps, right along--Great
Scott! imagine Bertram Henshaw as a _domestic_

Arkwright stirred restlessly as he spoke up in
quick defense:

``Oh, but he is, I assure you. I--I've seen
them in their home together--many times. I
think they are--very happy.'' Arkwright spoke
with decision, though still a little diffidently.

Calderwell was silent. He had picked up the
little gilt band he had torn from his cigar and was
fingering it musingly.

``Yes; I've seen them--once,'' he said, after
a minute. ``I took dinner with them when I was
on, a month ago.''

``I heard you did.''

At something in Arkwright's voice, Calderwell
turned quickly.

``What do you mean? Why do you say it like

Arkwright laughed. The constraint fled from
his manner.

``Well, I may as well tell you. You'll hear of
it. It's no secret. Mrs. Henshaw herself tells of
it everywhere. It was her friend, Alice Greggory,
who told me of it first, however. It seems
the cook was gone, and the mistress had to get
the dinner herself.''

``Yes, I know that.''

``But you should hear Mrs. Henshaw tell the
story now, or Bertram. It seems she knew nothing
whatever about cooking, and her trials and
tribulations in getting that dinner on to the
table were only one degree worse than the dinner
itself, according to her story. Didn't you--er
--notice anything?''

``Notice anything!'' exploded Calderwell. ``I
noticed that Billy was so brilliant she fairly
radiated sparks; and I noticed that Bertram was
so glum he--he almost radiated thunderclaps.
Then I saw that Billy's high spirits were all
assumed to cover a threatened burst of tears,
and I laid it all to him. I thought he'd said
something to hurt her; and I could have punched
him. Great Scott! Was _that_ what ailed them?''

``I reckon it was. Alice says that since then
Mrs. Henshaw has fairly haunted the kitchen,
begging Eliza to teach her everything, _every single
thing_ she knows!''

Calderwell chuckled.

``If that isn't just like Billy! She never does
anything by halves. By George, but she was
game over that dinner! I can see it all now.''

``Alice says she's really learning to cook, in
spite of old Pete's horror, and Eliza's pleadings
not to spoil her pretty hands.''

``Then Pete is back all right? What a faithful
old soul he is!''

Arkwright frowned slightly.

``Yes, he's faithful, but he isn't all right, by
any means. I think he's a sick man, myself.''

``What makes Billy let him work, then?''

``Let him!'' sniffed Arkwright. ``I'd like to
see you try to stop him! Mrs. Henshaw begs and
pleads with him to stop, but he scouts the idea.
Pete is thoroughly and unalterably convinced
that the family would starve to death if it weren't
for him; and Mrs. Henshaw says that she'll
admit he has some grounds for his opinion when
one remembers the condition of the kitchen and
dining-room the night she presided over them.''

``Poor Billy!'' chuckled Calderwell. ``I'd
have gone down into the kitchen myself if I'd
suspected what was going on.''

Arkwright raised his eyebrows.

``Perhaps it's well you didn't--if Bertram's
picture of what he found there when he went
down is a true one. Mrs. Henshaw acknowledges
that even the cat sought refuge under the stove.''

``As if the veriest worm that crawls ever needed
to seek refuge from Billy!'' scoffed Calderwell.
``By the way, what's this Annex I hear of? Bertram
mentioned it, but I couldn't get either of
them to tell what it was. Billy wouldn't, and
Bertram said he couldn't--not with Billy shaking
her head at him like that. So I had my suspicions.
One of Billy's pet charities?''

``She doesn't call it that.'' Arkwright's face
and voice softened. ``It is Hillside. She still
keeps it open. She calls it the Annex to her
home. She's filled it with a crippled woman, a
poor little music teacher, a lame boy, and Aunt

``But how--extraordinary!''

``She doesn't think so. She says it's just an
overflow house for the extra happiness she can't

There was a moment's silence. Calderwell laid
down his cigar, pulled out his handkerchief, and
blew his nose furiously. Then he got to his feet
and walked to the fireplace. After a minute he

``Well, if she isn't the beat 'em!'' he spluttered.
``And I had the gall to ask you if Henshaw made
her--happy! Overflow house, indeed!''

``The best of it is, the way she does it,'' smiled
Arkwright. ``They're all the sort of people
ordinary charity could never reach; and the only
way she got them there at all was to make each
one think that he or she was absolutely necessary
to the rest of them. Even as it is, they all pay
a little something toward the running expenses
of the house. They insisted on that, and Mrs.
Henshaw had to let them. I believe her chief
difficulty now is that she has not less than six
people whom she wishes to put into the two extra
rooms still unoccupied, and she can't make up
her mind which to take. Her husband says he
expects to hear any day of an Annexette to the

``Humph!'' grunted Calderwell, as he turned
and began to walk up and down the room. ``Bertram
is still painting, I suppose.''

``Oh, yes.''

``What's he doing now?''

``Several things. He's up to his eyes in work.
As you probably have heard, he met with a
severe accident last summer, and lost the use of
his right arm for many months. I believe they
thought at one time he had lost it forever. But
it's all right now, and he has several commissions
for portraits. Alice says he's doing ideal heads
again, too.''

``Same old `Face of a Girl'?''

``I suppose so, though Alice didn't say. Of
course his special work just now is painting the
portrait of Miss Marguerite Winthrop. You
may have heard that he tried it last year and
--and didn't make quite a success of it.''

``Yes. My sister Belle told me. She hears
from Billy once in a while. Will it be a go, this

``We'll hope so--for everybody's sake. I
imagine no one has seen it yet--it's not finished;
but Alice says--''

Calderwell turned abruptly, a quizzical smile
on his face.

``See here, my son,'' he interposed, ``it strikes
me that this Alice is saying a good deal--to you!
Who is she?''

Arkwright gave a light laugh.

``Why, I told you. She is Miss Alice Greggory,
Mrs. Henshaw's friend--and mine. I
have known her for years.''

``Hm-m; what is she like?''

``Like? Why, she's like--like herself, of
course. You'll have to know Alice. She's the
salt of the earth--Alice is,'' smiled Arkwright,
rising to his feet with a remonstrative gesture,
as he saw Calderwell pick up his coat. ``What's
your hurry?''

``Hm-m,'' commented Calderwell again,
ignoring the question. ``And when, may I ask,
do you intend to appropriate this--er--salt
--to--er--ah--season your own life with,
as I might say--eh?''

Arkwright laughed. There was not the slightest
trace of embarrassment in his face.

``Never. _You're_ on the wrong track, this time.
Alice and I are good friends--always have been,
and always will be, I hope.''

``Nothing more?''

``Nothing more. I see her frequently. She is
musical, and the Henshaws are good enough to
ask us there often together. You will meet her,
doubtless, now, yourself. She is frequently at
the Henshaw home.''

``Hm-m.'' Calderwell still eyed his host
shrewdly. ``Then you'll give me a clear field,

``Certainly.'' Arkwright's eyes met his friend's
gaze without swerving.

``All right. However, I suppose you'll tell me,
as I did you, once, that a right of way in such a
case doesn't mean a thoroughfare for the party
interested. If my memory serves me, I gave
you right of way in Paris to win the affections
of a certain elusive Miss Billy here in
Boston, if you could. But I see you didn't
seem to improve your opportunities,'' he finished

Arkwright stooped, of a sudden, to pick up a
bit of paper from the floor.

``No,'' he said quietly. ``I didn't seem to
improve my opportunities.'' This time he did
not meet Calderwell's eyes.

The good-byes had been said when Calderwell
turned abruptly at the door.

``Oh, I say, I suppose you're going to that
devil's carnival at Jordan Hall to-morrow night.''

``Devil's carnival! You don't mean--Cyril
Henshaw's piano recital!''

``Sure I do,'' grinned Calderwell, unabashed.
``And I'll warrant it'll be a devil's carnival, too.
Isn't Mr. Cyril Henshaw going to play his own
music? Oh, I know I'm hopeless, from your
standpoint, but I can't help it. I like mine with
some go in it, and a tune that you can find without
hunting for it. And I don't like lost spirits
gone mad that wail and shriek through ten perfectly
good minutes, and then die with a gasping
moan whose home is the tombs. However, you're
going, I take it.''

``Of course I am,'' laughed the other. ``You
couldn't hire Alice to miss one shriek of those
spirits. Besides, I rather like them myself, you

``Yes, I suppose you do. You're brought up
on it--in your business. But me for the `Merry
Widow' and even the hoary `Jingle Bells' every
time! However, I'm going to be there--out of
respect to the poor fellow's family. And, by the
way, that's another thing that bowled me over
--Cyril's marriage. Why, Cyril hates women!''

``Not all women--we'll hope,'' smiled Arkwright.
``Do you know his wife?''

``Not much. I used to see her a little at Billy's.
Music teacher, wasn't she? Then she's the same
sort, I suppose.''

``But she isn't,'' laughed Arkwright. Oh,
she taught music, but that was only because of
necessity, I take it. She's domestic through and
through, with an overwhelming passion for
making puddings and darning socks, I hear. Alice
says she believes Mrs. Cyril knows every dish
and spoon by its Christian name, and that there's
never so much as a spool of thread out of order
in the house.''

``But how does Cyril stand it--the trials and
tribulations of domestic life? Bertram used to
declare that the whole Strata was aquiver with
fear when Cyril was composing, and I remember
him as a perfect bear if anybody so much as
whispered when he was in one of his moods. I
never forgot the night Bertram and I were up in
William's room trying to sing `When Johnnie
comes marching home,' to the accompaniment
of a banjo in Bertram's hands, and a guitar in
mine. Gorry! it was Hugh that went marching
home that night.''

``Oh, well, from reports I reckon Mrs. Cyril
doesn't play either a banjo or a guitar,'' smiled
Arkwright. ``Alice says she wears rubber heels
on her shoes, and has put hushers on all the chair-
legs, and felt-mats between all the plates and
saucers. Anyhow, Cyril is building a new house,
and he looks as if he were in a pretty healthy
condition, as you'll see to-morrow night.''

``Humph! I wish he'd make his music healthy,
then,'' grumbled Calderwell, as he opened the



February brought busy days. The public
opening of the Bohemian Ten Club Exhibition
was to take place the sixth of March, with a
private view for invited guests the night before;
and it was at this exhibition that Bertram planned
to show his portrait of Marguerite Winthrop.
He also, if possible, wished to enter two or three
other canvases, upon which he was spending all
the time he could get.

Bertram felt that he was doing very good work
now. The portrait of Marguerite Winthrop was
coming on finely. The spoiled idol of society had
at last found a pose and a costume that suited her,
and she was graciously pleased to give the artist
almost as many sittings as he wanted. The
``elusive something'' in her face, which had
previously been so baffling, was now already caught
and held bewitchingly on his canvas. He was
confident that the portrait would be a success.
He was also much interested in another piece of
work which he intended to show called ``The
Rose.'' The model for this was a beautiful young
girl he had found selling flowers with her father
in a street booth at the North End.

On the whole, Bertram was very happy these
days. He could not, to be sure, spend quite so
much time with Billy as he wished; but she
understood, of course, as did he, that his work must
come first. He knew that she tried to show him
that she understood it. At the same time, he
could not help thinking, occasionally, that Billy
did sometimes mind his necessary absorption in
his painting.

To himself Bertram owned that Billy was, in
some ways, a puzzle to him. Her conduct was
still erratic at times. One day he would seem to
be everything to her; the next--almost nothing,
judging by the ease with which she relinquished
his society and substituted that of some one else:
Arkwright, or Calderwell, for instance.

And that was another thing. Bertram was
ashamed to hint even to himself that he was
jealous of either of those men. Surely, after what
had happened, after Billy's emphatic assertion
that she had never loved any one but himself,
it would seem not only absurd, but disloyal, that
he should doubt for an instant Billy's entire
devotion to him, and yet--there were times when
he wished he _could_ come home and not always
find Alice Greggory, Calderwell, Arkwright, or
all three of them strumming the piano in the
drawing-room! At such times, always, though,
if he did feel impatient, he immediately demanded
of himself: ``Are you, then, the kind of husband
that begrudges your wife young companions of
her own age and tastes to help her while away the
hours that you cannot possibly spend with her

This question, and the answer that his better
self always gave to it, were usually sufficient to
send him into some florists for a bunch of violets
for Billy, or into a candy shop on a like atoning

As to Billy--Billy, too, was busy these days
chief of her concerns being, perhaps, attention
to that honeymoon of hers, to see that it did
not wane. At least, the most of her thoughts,
and many of her actions, centered about that

Billy had the book, now--the ``Talk to Young
Wives.'' For a time she had worked with only
the newspaper criticism to guide her; but, coming
at last to the conclusion that if a little was good,
more must be better, she had shyly gone into a
bookstore one day and, with a pink blush, had
asked for the book. Since bringing it home she
had studied assiduously (though never if Bertram
was near), keeping it well-hidden, when not in
use, in a remote corner of her desk.

There was a good deal in the book that Billy
did not like, and there were some statements that
worried her; but yet there was much that she
tried earnestly to follow. She was still striving
to be the oak, and she was still eagerly endeavoring
to brush up against those necessary outside
interests. She was so thankful, in this connection,
for Alice Greggory, and for Arkwright and Hugh
Calderwell. It was such a help that she had
them! They were not only very pleasant and
entertaining outside interests, but one or another
of them was almost always conveniently within

Then, too, it pleased her to think that she was
furthering the pretty love story between Alice
and Mr. Arkwright. And she _was_ furthering it.
She was sure of that. Already she could see how
dependent the man was on Alice, how he looked
to her for approbation, and appealed to her on
all occasions, exactly as if there was not a move
that he wanted to make without her presence
near him. Billy was very sure, now, of Arkwright.
She only wished she were as much so of Alice.
But Alice troubled her. Not but that Alice was
kindness itself to the man, either. It was only a
peculiar something almost like fear, or constraint,
that Billy thought she saw in Alice's eyes, sometimes,
when Arkwright made a particularly intimate
appeal. There was Calderwell, too. He,
also, worried Billy. She feared he was going to
complicate matters still more by falling in love
with Alice, himself; and this, certainly, Billy did
not want at all. As this phase of the matter
presented itself, indeed, Billy determined to
appropriate Calderwell a little more exclusively to
herself, when the four were together, thus leaving
Alice for Arkwright. After all, it was rather
entertaining--this playing at Cupid's assistant.
If she _could_ not have Bertram all the time, it was
fortunate that these outside interests were so

Most of the mornings Billy spent in the kitchen,
despite the remonstrances of both Pete and Eliza.
Almost every meal, now, was graced with a palatable
cake, pudding, or muffin that Billy would
proudly claim as her handiwork. Pete still served
at table, and made strenuous efforts to keep up
all his old duties; but he was obviously growing
weaker, and really serious blunders were beginning
to be noticeable. Bertram even hinted once
or twice that perhaps it would be just as well to
insist on his going; but to this Billy would not
give her consent. Even when one night his poor
old trembling hands spilled half the contents of
a soup plate over a new and costly evening gown
of Billy's own, she still refused to have him dismissed.

``Why, Bertram, I wouldn't do it,'' she declared
hotly; ``and you wouldn't, either. He's been
here more than fifty years. It would break his
heart. He's really too ill to work, and I wish he
would go of his own accord, of course; but I
sha'n't ever tell him to go--not if he spills soup
on every dress I've got. I'll buy more--and more,
if it's necessary. Bless his dear old heart! He
thinks he's really serving us--and he is, too.''

``Oh, yes, you're right, he _is!_'' sighed Bertram,
with meaning emphasis, as he abandoned the

In addition to her ``Talk to Young Wives,''
Billy found herself encountering advice and comment
on the marriage question from still other
quarters--from her acquaintances (mostly the
feminine ones) right and left. Continually she
was hearing such words as these:

``Oh, well, what can you expect, Billy? You're
an old married woman, now.''

``Never mind, you'll find he's like all the rest
of the husbands. You just wait and see!''

``Better begin with a high hand, Billy. Don't
let him fool you!''

``Mercy! If I had a husband whose business
it was to look at women's beautiful eyes, peachy
cheeks, and luxurious tresses, I should go crazy!
It's hard enough to keep a man's eyes on yourself
when his daily interests are supposed to be
just lumps of coal and chunks of ice, without
flinging him into the very jaws of temptation
like asking him to paint a pretty girl's picture!''

In response to all this, of course, Billy could
but laugh, and blush, and toss back some gay reply,
with a careless unconcern. But in her heart
she did not like it. Sometimes she told herself
that if there were not any advice or comment from
anybody--either book or woman--if there
were not anybody but just Bertram and herself,
life would be just one long honeymoon forever
and forever.

Once or twice Billy was tempted to go to Marie
with this honeymoon question; but Marie was
very busy these days, and very preoccupied. The
new house that Cyril was building on Corey Hill,
not far from the Annex, was almost finished, and
Marie was immersed in the subject of house-
furnishings and interior decoration. She was,
too, still more deeply engrossed in the fashioning
of tiny garments of the softest linen, lace, and
woolen; and there was on her face such a look of
beatific wonder and joy that Billy did not like to
so much as hint that there was in the world such
a book as ``When the Honeymoon Wanes: A
Talk to Young Wives.''

Billy tried valiantly these days not to mind
that Bertram's work was so absorbing. She tried
not to mind that his business dealt, not with
lumps of coal and chunks of ice, but with beautiful
women like Marguerite Winthrop who asked
him to luncheon, and lovely girls like his model
for ``The Rose'' who came freely to his studio
and spent hours in the beloved presence, being
studied for what Bertram declared was absolutely
the most wonderful poise of head and
shoulders that he had ever seen.

Billy tried, also, these days, to so conduct
herself that not by any chance could Calderwell
suspect that sometimes she was jealous of Bertram's
art. Not for worlds would she have had
Calderwell begin to get the notion into his head
that his old-time prophecy concerning Bertram's
caring only for the turn of a girl's head or the
tilt of her chin--to paint, was being fulfilled.
Hence, particularly gay and cheerful was Billy
when Calderwell was near. Nor could it be said
that Billy was really unhappy at any time. It
was only that, on occasion, the very depth of her
happiness in Bertram's love frightened her, lest
it bring disaster to herself or Bertram.

Billy still went frequently to the Annex. There
were yet two unfilled rooms in the house. Billy
was hesitating which two of six new friends of
hers to choose as occupants; and it was one day
early in March, after she had been talking the
matter over with Aunt Hannah, that Aunt
Hannah said:

``Dear me, Billy, if you had your way I believe
you'd open another whole house!''

``Do you know?--that's just what I'm thinking
of,'' retorted Billy, gravely. Then she laughed
at Aunt Hannah's shocked gesture of protest.
``Oh, well, I don't expect to,'' she added. ``I
haven't lived very long, but I've lived long enough
to know that you can't always do what you
want to.''

``Just as if there were anything _you_ wanted to
do that you don't do, my dear,'' reproved Aunt
Hannah, mildly.

``Yes, I know.'' Billy drew in her breath with
a little catch. ``I have so much that is lovely;
and that's why I need this house, you know, for
the overflow,'' she nodded brightly. Then, with
a characteristic change of subject, she added:
``My, but you should have tasted of the popovers
I made for breakfast this morning!''

``I should like to,'' smiled Aunt Hannah.
``William says you're getting to be quite a cook.''

``Well, maybe,'' conceded Billy, doubtfully.
``Oh, I can do some things all right; but just
wait till Pete and Eliza go away again, and Bertram
brings home a friend to dinner. That'll
tell the tale. I think now I could have something
besides potato-mush and burned corn--but
maybe I wouldn't, when the time came. If only
I could buy everything I needed to cook with,
I'd be all right. But I can't, I find.''

``Can't buy what you need! What do you

Billy laughed ruefully.

``Well, every other question I ask Eliza, she
says: `Why, I don't know; you have to use
your judgment.' Just as if I had any judgment
about how much salt to use, or what dish to take!
Dear me, Aunt Hannah, the man that will grow
judgment and can it as you would a mess of peas,
has got his fortune made!''

``What an absurd child you are, Billy,'' laughed
Aunt Hannah. ``I used to tell Marie-- By the
way, how is Marie? Have you seen her lately?''

``Oh, yes, I saw her yesterday,'' twinkled Billy.
``She had a book of wall-paper samples spread
over the back of a chair, two bunches of samples
of different colored damasks on the table before
her, a `Young Mother's Guide' propped open
in another chair, and a pair of baby's socks in
her lap with a roll each of pink, and white, and
blue ribbon. She spent most of the time, after
I had helped her choose the ribbon, in asking me
if I thought she ought to let the baby cry and
bother Cyril, or stop its crying and hurt the
baby, because her `Mother's Guide' says a certain
amount of crying is needed to develop a baby's

Aunt Hannah laughed, but she frowned, too.

``The idea! I guess Cyril can stand proper
crying--and laughing, too--from his own
child!'' she said then, crisply.

``Oh, but Marie is afraid he can't,'' smiled
Billy. ``And that's the trouble. She says that's
the only thing that worries her--Cyril.''

``Nonsense!'' ejaculated Aunt Hannah.

``Oh, but it isn't nonsense to Marie,'' retorted
Billy. ``You should see the preparations she's
made and the precautions she's taken. Actually,
when I saw those baby's socks in her lap, I didn't
know but she was going to put rubber heels on
them! They've built the new house with deadening
felt in all the walls, and Marie's planned
the nursery and Cyril's den at opposite ends of
the house; and she says she shall keep the baby
there _all_ the time--the nursery, I mean, not the
den. She says she's going to teach it to be a quiet
baby and hate noise. She says she thinks she
can do it, too.''

``Humph!'' sniffed Aunt Hannah, scornfully.

``You should have seen Marie's disgust the
other day,'' went on Billy, a bit mischievously.
``Her Cousin Jane sent on a rattle she'd made
herself, all soft worsted, with bells inside. It
was a dear; but Marie was horror-stricken.
`My baby have a rattle?' she cried. `Why,
what would Cyril say? As if he could stand a
rattle in the house!' And if she didn't give that
rattle to the janitor's wife that very day, while
I was there!''

``Humph!'' sniffed Aunt Hannah again, as
Billy rose to go. ``Well, I'm thinking Marie has
still some things to learn in this world--and
Cyril, too, for that matter.''

``I wouldn't wonder,'' laughed Billy, giving
Aunt Hannah a good-by kiss.



Bertram Henshaw had no disquieting forebodings
this time concerning his portrait of Marguerite
Winthrop when the doors of the Bohemian
Ten Club Exhibition were thrown open to members
and invited guests. Just how great a popular
success it was destined to be, he could not know,
of course, though he might have suspected it
when he began to receive the admiring and hearty
congratulations of his friends and fellow-artists
on that first evening.

Nor was the Winthrop portrait the only jewel
in his crown on that occasion. His marvelously
exquisite ``The Rose,'' and his smaller ideal
picture, ``Expectation,'' came in for scarcely less
commendation. There was no doubt now. The
originator of the famous ``Face of a Girl'' had
come into his own again. On all sides this was
the verdict, one long-haired critic of international
fame even claiming openly that Henshaw had not
only equaled his former best work, but had gone
beyond it, in both artistry and technique.

It was a brilliant gathering. Society, as usual,
in costly evening gowns and correct swallow-tails
rubbed elbows with names famous in the world of
Art and Letters. Everywhere were gay laughter
and sparkling repartee. Even the austere-faced
J. G. Winthrop unbent to the extent of grim smiles
in response to the laudatory comments bestowed
upon the pictured image of his idol, his beautiful

As to the great financier's own opinion of the
work, no one heard him express it except, perhaps,
the artist; and all that he got was a grip of the
hand and a ``Good! I knew you'd fetch it this
time, my boy!'' But that was enough. And,
indeed, no one who knew the stern old man needed
to more than look into his face that evening to
know of his entire satisfaction in this portrait
soon to be the most recent, and the most cherished
addition to his far-famed art collection.

As to Bertram--Bertram was pleased and
happy and gratified, of course, as was natural;
but he was not one whit more so than was Bertram's
wife. Billy fairly radiated happiness and
proud joy. She told Bertram, indeed, that if he
did anything to make her any prouder, it would
take an Annex the size of the Boston Opera House
to hold her extra happiness.

``Sh-h, Billy! Some one will hear you,''
protested Bertram, tragically; but, in spite of his
horrified voice, he did not look displeased.

For the first time Billy met Marguerite
Winthrop that evening. At the outset there was just
a bit of shyness and constraint in the young wife's
manner. Billy could not forget her old insane
jealousy of this beautiful girl with the envied
name of Marguerite. But it was for only a moment,
and soon she was her natural, charming self.

Miss Winthrop was fascinated, and she made
no pretense of hiding it. She even turned to
Bertram at last, and cried:

``Surely, now, Mr. Henshaw, you need never
go far for a model! Why don't you paint your

Billy colored. Bertram smiled.

``I have,'' he said. ``I have painted her many
times. In fact, I have painted her so often that
she once declared it was only the tilt of her chin
and the turn of her head that I loved--to
paint,'' he said merrily, enjoying Billy's pretty
confusion, and not realizing that his words really
distressed her. ``I have a whole studio full of
`Billys' at home.''

``Oh, have you, really?'' questioned Miss
Winthrop, eagerly. ``Then mayn't I see them?
Mayn't I, please, Mrs. Henshaw? I'd so love

``Why, of course you may,'' murmured both
the artist and his wife.

``Thank you. Then I'm coming right away.
May I? I'm going to Washington next week,
you see. Will you let me come to-morrow at--
at half-past three, then? Will it be quite
convenient for you, Mrs. Henshaw?''

``Quite convenient. I shall be glad to see
you,'' smiled Billy. And Bertram echoed his
wife's cordial permission.

``Thank you. Then I'll be there at half-past
three,'' nodded Miss Winthrop, with a smile, as
she turned to give place to an admiring group,
who were waiting to pay their respects to the
artist and his wife.

There was, after all, that evening, one fly in
Billy's ointment.

It fluttered in at the behest of an old
acquaintance--one of the ``advice women,'' as
Billy termed some of her too interested

``Well, they're lovely, perfectly lovely, of
course, Mrs. Henshaw,'' said this lady, coming up
to say good-night. ``But, all the samee{sic}, I'm
glad my husband is just a plain lawyer. Look
out, my dear, that while Mr. Henshaw is stealing
all those pretty faces for his canvases--just look
out that the fair ladies don't turn around and steal
his heart before you know it. Dear me, but you
must be so proud of him!''

``I am,'' smiled Billy, serenely; and only the
jagged split that rent the glove on her hand, at
that moment, told of the fierce anger behind that

``As if I couldn't trust Bertram!'' raged Billy
passionately to herself, stealing a surreptitious
glance at her ruined glove. ``And as if there
weren't ever any perfectly happy marriages--
even if you don't ever hear of them, or read of

Bertram was not home to luncheon on the day
following the opening night of the Bohemian Ten
Club. A matter of business called him away
from the house early in the morning; but he
told his wife that he surely would be on hand for
Miss Winthrop's call at half-past three o'clock
that afternoon.

``Yes, do,'' Billy had urged. ``I think she's
lovely, but you know her so much better than I
do that I want you here. Besides, you needn't
think _I'm_ going to show her all those Billys of
yours. I may be vain, but I'm not quite vain
enough for that, sir!''

``Don't worry,'' her husband had laughed.
``I'll be here.''

As it chanced, however, something occurred
an hour before half-past three o'clock that drove
every thought of Miss Winthrop's call from
Billy's head.

For three days, now, Pete had been at the home
of his niece in South Boston. He had been forced,
finally, to give up and go away. News from him
the day before had been anything but reassuring,
and to-day, Bertram being gone, Billy had suggested
that Eliza serve a simple luncheon and go
immediately afterward to South Boston to see
how her uncle was. This suggestion Eliza had
followed, leaving the house at one o'clock.

Shortly after two Calderwell had dropped in
to bring Bertram, as he expressed it, a bunch of
bouquets he had gathered at the picture show
the night before. He was still in the drawing-
room, chatting with Billy, when the telephone
bell rang.

``If that's Bertram, tell him to come home;
he's got company,'' laughed Calderwell, as Billy
passed into the hall.

A moment later he heard Billy give a startled
cry, followed by a few broken words at short
intervals. Then, before he could surmise what had
happened, she was back in the drawing-room
again, her eyes full of tears.

``It's Pete,'' she choked. ``Eliza says he can't
live but a few minutes. He wants to see me once
more. What shall I do? John's got Peggy out
with Aunt Hannah and Mrs. Greggory. It was so
nice to-day I made them go. But I must get
there some way--Pete is calling for me. Uncle
William is going, and I told Eliza where she might
reach Bertram; but what shall _I_ do? How shall
I go?''

Calderwell was on his feet at once.

``I'll get a taxi. Don't worry--we'll get
there. Poor old soul--of course he wants to see
you! Get on your things. I'll have it here in no
time,'' he finished, hurrying to the telephone.

``Oh, Hugh, I'm so glad I've got _you_ here,''
sobbed Billy, stumbling blindly toward the
stairway. ``I'll be ready in two minutes.''

And she was; but neither then, nor a little later
when she and Calderwell drove hurriedly away
from the house, did Billy once remember that
Miss Marguerite Winthrop was coming to call
that afternoon to see Mrs. Bertram Henshaw and
a roomful of Billy pictures.

Pete was still alive when Calderwell left Billy
at the door of the modest little home where
Eliza's mother lived.

``Yes, you're in time, ma'am,'' sobbed Eliza;
``and, oh, I'm so glad you've come. He's been
askin' and askin' for ye.''

From Eliza Billy learned then that Mr. William
was there, but not Mr. Bertram. They had not
been able to reach Mr. Bertram, or Mr. Cyril.

Billy never forgot the look of reverent adoration
that came into Pete's eyes as she entered the
room where he lay.

``Miss Billy--my Miss Billy! You were so
good-to come,'' he whispered faintly.

Billy choked back a sob.

``Of course I'd come, Pete,'' she said gently,
taking one of the thin, worn hands into both her
soft ones.

It was more than a few minutes that Pete lived.
Four o'clock came, and five, and he was still with
them. Often he opened his eyes and smiled.
Sometimes he spoke a low word to William or
Billy, or to one of the weeping women at the foot
of the bed. That the presence of his beloved
master and mistress meant much to him was
plain to be seen.

``I'm so sorry,'' he faltered once, ``about that
pretty dress--I spoiled, Miss Billy. But you
know--my hands--''

``I know, I know,'' soothed Billy; ``but don't
worry. It wasn't spoiled, Pete. It's all fixed

``Oh, I'm so glad,'' sighed the sick man. After
another long interval of silence he turned to

``Them socks--the medium thin ones--you'd
oughter be puttin' 'em on soon, sir, now. They're
in the right-hand corner of the bottom drawer--
you know.''

``Yes, Pete; I'll attend to it,'' William managed
to stammer, after he had cleared his throat.

Eliza's turn came next.

``Remember about the coffee,'' Pete said to
her, ``--the way Mr. William likes it. And always
eggs, you know, for--for--'' His voice
trailed into an indistinct murmur, and his eyelids
drooped wearily.

One by one the minutes passed. The doctor
came and went: there was nothing he could do.
At half-past five the thin old face became again
alight with consciousness. There was a good-by
message for Bertram, and one for Cyril. Aunt
Hannah was remembered, and even little Tommy
Dunn. Then, gradually, a gray shadow crept
over the wasted features. The words came more
brokenly. The mind, plainly, was wandering,
for old Pete was young again, and around him
were the lads he loved, William, Cyril, and
Bertram. And then, very quietly, soon after the
clock struck six, Pete fell into the beginning of
his long sleep.



It was a little after half-past three o'clock that
afternoon when Bertram Henshaw hurried up
Beacon Street toward his home. He had been
delayed, and he feared that Miss Winthrop would
already have reached the house. Mindful of
what Billy had said that morning, he knew how
his wife would fret if he were not there when the
guest arrived. The sight of what he surmised to
be Miss Winthrop's limousine before his door
hastened his steps still more. But as he reached
the house, he was surprised to find Miss Winthrop
herself turning away from the door.

``Why, Miss Winthrop,'' he cried, ``you're not
going _now!_ You can't have been here any--yet!''

``Well, no, I--I haven't,'' retorted the lady,
with heightened color and a somewhat peculiar
emphasis. ``My ring wasn't answered.''

``Wasn't answered!'' Bertram reddened
angrily. ``Why, what can that mean? Where's
the maid? Where's my wife? Mrs. Henshaw
must be here! She was expecting you.''

Bertram, in his annoyed amazement, spoke
loudly, vehemently. Hence he was quite plainly
heard by the group of small boys and girls who
had been improving the mild weather for a frolic
on the sidewalk, and who had been attracted to
his door a moment before by the shining magnet
of the Winthrop limousine with its resplendently
liveried chauffeur. As Bertram spoke, one of
the small girls, Bessie Bailey, stepped forward and
piped up a shrill reply.

``She ain't, Mr. Henshaw! She ain't here.
I saw her go away just a little while ago.''

Bertram turned sharply.

``You saw her go away! What do you mean?''

Small Bessie swelled with importance. Bessie
was thirteen, in spite of her diminutive height.
Bessie's mother was dead, and Bessie's caretakers
were gossiping nurses and servants, who
frequently left in her way books that were much
too old for Bessie to read--but she read them.

``I mean she ain't here--your wife, Mr. Henshaw.
She went away. I saw her. I guess likely
she's eloped, sir.''


Bessie swelled still more importantly. To her
experienced eyes the situation contained all the
necessary elements for the customary flight of
the heroine in her story-books, as here, now,
was the irate, deserted husband.

``Sure! And 'twas just before you came--
quite a while before. A big shiny black automobile
like this drove up--only it wasn't quite
such a nice one--an' Mrs. Henshaw an' a man
came out of your house an' got in, an' drove
right away _quick!_ They just ran to get into it,
too--didn't they?'' She appealed to her young
mates grouped about her.

A chorus of shrill exclamations brought Mr.
Bertram Henshaw suddenly to his senses. By a
desperate effort he hid his angry annoyance as
he turned to the manifestly embarrassed young
woman who was already descending the steps.

``My dear Miss Winthrop,'' he apologized
contritely, ``I'm sure you'll forgive this seeming
great rudeness on the part of my wife. Notwithstanding
the lurid tales of our young friends here,
I suspect nothing more serious has happened
than that my wife has been hastily summoned to
Aunt Hannah, perhaps. Or, of course, she may
not have understood that you were coming to-day
at half-past three--though I thought she did.
But I'm so sorry--when you were so kind as to
come--'' Miss Winthrop interrupted with a
quick gesture.

``Say no more, I beg of you,'' she entreated.
``Mrs. Henshaw is quite excusable, I'm sure.
Please don't give it another thought,'' she
finished, as with a hurried direction to the man who
was holding open the door of her car, she stepped
inside and bowed her good-byes.

Bertram, with stern self-control, forced
himself to walk nonchalantly up his steps, leisurely
take out his key, and open his door, under the
interested eyes of Bessie Bailey and her friends;
but once beyond their hateful stare, his demeanor
underwent a complete change. Throwing aside
his hat and coat, he strode to the telephone.

``Oh, is that you, Aunt Hannah?'' he called
crisply, a moment later. ``Well, if Billy's there
will you tell her I want to speak to her,

``Billy?'' answered Aunt Hannah's slow, gentle
tones. ``Why, my dear boy, Billy isn't here!''

``She isn't? Well, when did she leave? She's
been there, hasn't she?''

``Why, I don't think so, but I'll see, if you
like. Mrs. Greggory and I have just this minute
come in from an automobile ride. We would
have stayed longer, but it began to get chilly, and
I forgot to take one of the shawls that I'd laid

``Yes; well, if you will see, please, if Billy has
been there, and when she left,'' said Bertram,
with grim self-control.

``All right. I'll see,'' murmured Aunt Hannah.
In a few moments her voice again sounded across
the wires. ``Why, no, Bertram, Rosa says she
hasn't been here since yesterday. Isn't she there
somewhere about the house? Didn't you know
where she was going?''

``Well, no, I didn't--else I shouldn't have
been asking you,'' snapped the irate Bertram
and hung up the receiver with most rude haste,
thereby cutting off an astounded ``Oh, my grief
and conscience!'' in the middle of it.

The next ten minutes Bertram spent in going
through the whole house, from garret to basement.
Needless to say, he found nothing to
enlighten him, or to soothe his temper. Four
o'clock came, then half-past, and five. At five
Bertram began to look for Eliza, but in vain.
At half-past five he watched for William; but
William, too, did not come.

Bertram was pacing the floor now, nervously.
He was a little frightened, but more mortified
and angry. That Billy should have allowed Miss
Winthrop to call by appointment only to find
no hostess, no message, no maid, even, to answer
her ring--it was inexcusable! Impulsiveness,
unconventionality, and girlish irresponsibility were
all very delightful, of course--at times; but
not now, certainly. Billy was not a girl any
longer. She was a married woman. _Something_
was due to him, her husband! A pretty picture
he must have made on those steps, trying to
apologize for a truant wife, and to laugh off that
absurd Bessie Bailey's preposterous assertion at
the same time! What would Miss Winthrop
think? What could she think? Bertram fairly
ground his teeth with chagrin, at the situation
in which he found himself.

Nor were matters helped any by the fact that
Bertram was hungry. Bertram's luncheon had
been meager and unsatisfying. That the kitchen
down-stairs still remained in silent, spotless order
instead of being astir with the sounds and smells
of a good dinner (as it should have been) did not
improve his temper. Where Billy was he could
not imagine. He thought, once or twice, of
calling up some of her friends; but something
held him back from that--though he did try to
get Marie, knowing very well that she was probably
over to the new house and would not answer.
He was not surprised, therefore, when he received
no reply to his ring.

That there was the slightest truth in Bessie
Bailey's absurd ``elopement'' idea, Bertram did
not, of course, for an instant believe. The only
thing that rankled about that was the fact that
she had suggested such a thing, and that Miss
Winthrop and those silly children had heard
her. He recognized half of Bessie's friends as
neighborhood youngsters, and he knew very well
that there would be many a quiet laugh at his
expense around various Beacon Street dinner-
tables that night. At the thought of those
dinner-tables, he scowled again. _He_ had no
dinner-table--at least, he had no dinner on it!

Who the man might be Bertram thought he
could easily guess. It was either Arkwright or
Calderwell, of course; and probably that tiresome
Alice Greggory was mixed up in it somehow.
He did wish Billy--

Six o'clock came, then half-past. Bertram was
indeed frightened now, but he was more angry,
and still more hungry. He had, in fact, reached
that state of blind unreasonableness said to be
peculiar to hungry males from time immemorial.

At ten minutes of seven a key clicked in the
lock of the outer door, and William and Billy
entered the hall.

It was almost dark. Bertram could not see
their faces. He had not lighted the hall at all.

``Well,'' he began sharply, ``is this the way
you receive your callers, Billy? I came home
and found Miss Winthrop just leaving--no one
here to receive her! Where've you been? Where's
Eliza? Where's my dinner? Of course I don't
mean to scold, Billy, but there is a limit to even
my patience--and it's reached now. I can't
help suggesting that if you would tend to your
husband and your home a little more, and go
gallivanting off with Calderwell and Arkwright
and Alice Greggory a little less, that-- Where is
Eliza, anyway?'' he finished irritably, switching
on the lights with a snap.

There was a moment of dead silence. At
Bertram's first words Billy and William had
stopped short. Neither had moved since. Now
William turned and began to speak, but Billy
interrupted. She met her husband's gaze steadily.

``I will be down at once to get your dinner,''
she said quietly. ``Eliza will not come to-night.
Pete is dead.''

Bertram started forward with a quick cry.

``Dead! Oh, Billy! Then you were--_there!_

But his wife did not apparently hear him. She
passed him without turning her head, and went
on up the stairs, leaving him to meet the sorrowful,
accusing eyes of William.



The young husband's apologies were profuse
and abject. Bertram was heartily ashamed of
himself, and was man enough to acknowledge it.
Almost on his knees he begged Billy to forgive
him; and in a frenzy of self-denunciation he
followed her down into the kitchen that night,
piteously beseeching her to speak to him, to just
_look_ at him, even, so that he might know he was
not utterly despised--though he did, indeed,
deserve to be more than despised, he moaned.

At first Billy did not speak, or even vouchsafe
a glance in his direction. Very quietly she went
about her preparations for a simple meal, paying
apparently no more attention to Bertram than as
if he were not there. But that her ears were only
seemingly, and not really deaf, was shown very
clearly a little later, when, at a particularly abject
wail on the part of the babbling shadow at her
heels, Billy choked into a little gasp, half laughter,
half sob. It was all over then. Bertram had
her in his arms in a twinkling, while to the floor
clattered and rolled a knife and a half-peeled
baked potato.

Naturally, after that, there could be no more
dignified silences on the part of the injured wife.
There were, instead, half-smiles, tears, sobs, a
tremulous telling of Pete's going and his messages,
followed by a tearful listening to Bertram's story
of the torture he had endured at the hands of
Miss Winthrop, Bessie Bailey, and an empty,
dinnerless house. And thus, in one corner of the
kitchen, some time later, a hungry, desperate
William found them, the half-peeled, cold baked
potato still at their feet.

Torn between his craving for food and his
desire not to interfere with any possible peace-
making, William was obviously hesitating what
to do, when Billy glanced up and saw him. She
saw, too, at the same time, the empty, blazing
gas-stove burner, and the pile of half-prepared
potatoes, to warm which the burner had long
since been lighted. With a little cry she broke
away from her husband's arms.

``Mercy! and here's poor Uncle William,
bless his heart, with not a thing to eat yet!''

They all got dinner then, together, with many
a sigh and quick-coming tear as everywhere they
met some sad reminder of the gentle old hands
that would never again minister to their comfort.

It was a silent meal, and little, after all, was
eaten, though brave attempts at cheerfulness
and naturalness were made by all three. Bertram,
especially, talked, and tried to make sure
that the shadow on Billy's face was at least not
the one his own conduct had brought there.

``For you do--you surely do forgive me, don't
you?'' he begged, as he followed her into the
kitchen after the sorry meal was over.

``Why, yes, dear, yes,'' sighed Billy, trying to

``And you'll forget?''

There was no answer.

``Billy! And you'll forget?'' Bertram's voice
was insistent, reproachful.

Billy changed color and bit her lip. She looked
plainly distressed.

``Billy!'' cried the man, still more reproachfully.

``But, Bertram, I can't forget--quite yet,''
faltered Billy.

Bertram frowned. For a minute he looked as
if he were about to take up the matter seriously
and argue it with her; but the next moment he
smiled and tossed his head with jaunty playfulness--
Bertram, to tell the truth, had now had
quite enough of what he privately termed
``scenes'' and ``heroics''; and, manlike, he was
very ardently longing for the old easy-going
friendliness, with all unpleasantness banished to

``Oh, but you'll have to forget,'' he claimed,
with cheery insistence, ``for you've promised to
forgive me--and one can't forgive without forgetting.
So, there!'' he finished, with a smilingly
determined ``now-everything-is-just-as-it-was-before'' air.

Billy made no response. She turned hurriedly

Book of the day: