Part 4 out of 7
and began to busy herself with the dishes at the
sink. In her heart she was wondering: could
she ever forget what Bertram had said? Would
anything ever blot out those awful words: ``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--''? It seemed now that always, for evermore,
they would ring in her ears; always, for
evermore, they would burn deeper and deeper
into her soul. And not once, in all Bertram's
apologies, had he referred to them--those words
he had uttered. He had not said he did not mean
them. He had not said he was sorry he spoke
them. He had ignored them; and he expected
that now she, too, would ignore them. As if
she could!'' 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--'' Oh, if only she could,
When Billy went up-stairs that night she ran
across her ``Talk to Young Wives'' in her desk.
With a half-stifled cry she thrust it far back out
``I hate you, I hate you--with all your old
talk about `brushing up against outside interests'!''
she whispered fiercely. ``Well, I've
`brushed'--and now see what I've got for it!''
Later, however, after Bertram was asleep, Billy
crept out of bed and got the book. Under the
carefully shaded lamp in the adjoining room she
turned the pages softly till she came to the sentence:
``Perhaps it would be hard to find a more
utterly unreasonable, irritable, irresponsible creature
than a hungry man.'' With a long sigh she
began to read; and not until some minutes later
did she close the book, turn off the light, and steal
back to bed.
During the next three days, until after the
funeral at the shabby little South Boston house,
Eliza spent only about half of each day at the
Strata. This, much to her distress, left many of
the household tasks for her young mistress to
perform. Billy, however, attacked each new duty
with a feverish eagerness that seemed to make the
performance of it very like some glad penance
done for past misdeeds. And when--on the day
after they had laid the old servant in his last
resting place--a despairing message came from
Eliza to the effect that now her mother was very
ill, and would need her care, Billy promptly told
Eliza to stay as long as was necessary; that they
could get along all right without her.
``But, Billy, what _are_ we going to do?''
Bertram demanded, when he heard the news. ``We
must have somebody!''
``_I'm_ going to do it.''
``Nonsense! As if you could!'' scoffed Bertram.
Billy lifted her chin.
``Couldn't I, indeed,'' she retorted. ``Do you
realize, young man, how much I've done the last
three days? How about those muffins you had
this morning for breakfast, and that cake last
night? And didn't you yourself say that you
never ate a better pudding than that date puff
Bertram laughed and shrugged his shoulders.
``My dear love, I'm not questioning your
_ability_ to do it,'' he soothed quickly. ``Still,'' he
added, with a whimsical smile, ``I must remind
you that Eliza has been here half the time, and
that muffins and date puffs, however delicious,
aren't all there is to running a big house like this.
Besides, just be sensible, Billy,'' he went on more
seriously, as he noted the rebellious gleam coming
into his young wife's eyes; ``you'd know you
couldn't do it, if you'd just stop to think. There's
the Carletons coming to dinner Monday, and my
studio Tea to-morrow, to say nothing of the
Symphony and the opera, and the concerts you'd
lose because you were too dead tired to go to them.
You know how it was with that concert yesterday
afternoon which Alice Greggory wanted you
to go to with her.''
``I didn't--want--to go,'' choked Billy,
under her breath.
``And there's your music. You haven't done
a thing with that for days, yet only last week
you told me the publishers were hurrying you for
that last song to complete the group.''
``I haven't felt like--writing,'' stammered
Billy, still half under her breath.
``Of course you haven't,'' triumphed Bertram.
``You've been too dead tired. And that's just
what I say. Billy, you _can't_ do it all yourself!''
``But I want to. I want to--to tend to
things,'' faltered Billy, with a half-fearful glance
into her husband's face.
Billy was hearing very loudly now that accusing
``If you'd tend to your husband and your home
a little more--'' Bertram, however, was not
hearing it, evidently. Indeed, he seemed never
to have heard it--much less to have spoken it.
`` `Tend to things,' '' he laughed lightly.
``Well, you'll have enough to do to tend to the
maid, I fancy. Anyhow, we're going to have one.
I'll just step into one of those--what do you call
'em?--intelligence offices on my way down and
send one up,'' he finished, as he gave his wife a
An hour later Billy, struggling with the broom
and the drawing-room carpet, was called to the
telephone. It was her husband's voice that came
``Billy, for heaven's sake, take pity on me.
Won't you put on your duds and come and engage
your maid yourself?''
``Why, Bertram, what's the matter?''
``Matter? Holy smoke! Well, I've been to
three of those intelligence offices--though why
they call them that I can't imagine. If ever there
was a place utterly devoid of intelligence-but
never mind! I've interviewed four fat ladies,
two thin ones, and one medium with a wart. I've
cheerfully divulged all our family secrets, promised
every other half-hour out, and taken oath
that our household numbers three adult members,
and no more; but I simply _can't_ remember
how many handkerchiefs we have in the wash
each week. Billy, will you come? Maybe you
can do something with them. I'm sure you
``Why, of course I'll come,'' chirped Billy.
``Where shall I meet you?''
Bertram gave the street and number.
``Good! I'll be there,'' promised Billy, as she
hung up the receiver.
Quite forgetting the broom in the middle of the
drawing-room floor, Billy tripped up-stairs to
change her dress. On her lips was a gay little
song. In her heart was joy.
``I rather guess _now_ I'm tending to my husband
and my home!'' she was crowing to herself.
Just as Billy was about to leave the house the
telephone bell jangled again.
It was Alice Greggory.
``Billy, dear,'' she called, ``can't you come
out? Mr. Arkwright and Mr. Calderwell are
here, and they've brought some new music. We
want you. Will you come?''
``I can't, dear. Bertram wants me. He's sent
for me. I've got some _housewifely_ duties to perform
to-day,'' returned Billy, in a voice so curiously
triumphant that Alice, at her end of the
wires, frowned in puzzled wonder as she turned
away from the telephone.
INTO TRAINING FOR MARY ELLEN
Bertram told a friend afterwards that he never
knew the meaning of the word ``chaos'' until he
had seen the Strata during the weeks immediately
following the laying away of his old servant.
``Every stratum was aquiver with apprehension,''
he declared; ``and there was never any
telling when the next grand upheaval would rock
the whole structure to its foundations.''
Nor was Bertram so far from being right. It
was, indeed, a chaos, as none knew better than
did Bertram's wife.
Poor Billy! Sorry indeed were these days for
Billy; and, as if to make her cup of woe full to
overflowing, there were Sister Kate's epistolary
``I told you so,'' and Aunt Hannah's ever
recurring lament: ``If only, Billy, you were a
practical housekeeper yourself, they wouldn't
impose on you so!''
Aunt Hannah, to be sure, offered Rosa, and
Kate, by letter, offered advice--plenty of it.
But Billy, stung beyond all endurance, and fairly
radiating hurt pride and dogged determination,
disdained all assistance, and, with head held high,
declared she was getting along very well, very
And this was the way she ``got along.''
First came Nora. Nora was a blue-eyed, black-
haired Irish girl, the sixth that the despairing
Billy had interviewed on that fateful morning
when Bertram had summoned her to his aid.
Nora stayed two days. During her reign the
entire Strata echoed to banged doors, dropped
china, and slammed furniture. At her departure
the Henshaws' possessions were less by four cups,
two saucers, one plate, one salad bowl, two cut
glass tumblers, and a teapot--the latter William's
choicest bit of Lowestoft.
Olga came next. Olga was a Treasure. She
was low-voiced, gentle-eyed, and a good cook.
She stayed a week. By that time the growing
frequency of the disappearance of sundry small
articles of value and convenience led to Billy's
making a reluctant search of Olga's room--and
to Olga's departure; for the room was, indeed, a
treasure house, the Treasure having gathered
unto itself other treasures.
Following Olga came a period of what Bertram
called ``one night stands,'' so frequently were the
drank. Christine knew only four words of English:
salt, good-by, no, and yes; and Billy found
need occasionally of using other words. Mary
was impertinent and lazy. Jennie could not even
boil a potato properly, much less cook a dinner.
Sarah (colored) was willing and pleasant, but
insufferably untidy. Bridget was neatness itself,
but she had no conception of the value of time.
Her meals were always from thirty to sixty
minutes late, and half-cooked at that. Vera
sang--when she wasn't whistling--and as she
was generally off the key, and always off the
tune, her almost frantic mistress dismissed her
before twenty-four hours had passed. Then came
Mary Ellen began well. She was neat, capable,
and obliging; but it did not take her long to
discover just how much--and how little--her
mistress really knew of practical housekeeping.
Matters and things were very different then.
Mary Ellen became argumentative, impertinent,
and domineering. She openly shirked her work,
when it pleased her so to do, and demanded
perquisites and privileges so insolently that even
William asked Billy one day whether Mary Ellen
or Billy herself were the mistress of the Strata:
and Bertram, with mock humility, inquired how
_soon_ Mary Ellen would be wanting the house.
Billy, in weary despair, submitted to this bullying
for almost a week; then, in a sudden accession
of outraged dignity that left Mary Ellen gasping
with surprise, she told the girl to go.
And thus the days passed. The maids came
and the maids went, and, to Billy, each one seemed
a little worse than the one before. Nowhere was
there comfort, rest, or peacefulness. The nights
were a torture of apprehension, and the days an
even greater torture of fulfilment. Noise, confusion,
meals poorly cooked and worse served, dust,
disorder, and uncertainty. And this was _home_,
Billy told herself bitterly. No wonder that Bertram
telephoned more and more frequently that
he had met a friend, and was dining in town. No
wonder that William pushed back his plate almost
every meal with his food scarcely touched, and
then wandered about the house with that hungry,
homesick, homeless look that nearly broke her
heart. No wonder, indeed!
And so it had come. It was true. Aunt Hannah
and Kate and the ``Talk to Young Wives''
were right. She had not been fit to marry Bertram.
She had not been fit to marry anybody.
Her honeymoon was not only waning, but going
into a total eclipse. Had not Bertram already
declared that if she would tend to her husband
and her home a little more--
Billy clenched her small hands and set her
round chin squarely.
Very well, she would show them. She would
tend to her husband and her home. She fancied
she could _learn_ to run that house, and run it well!
And forthwith she descended to the kitchen and
told the then reigning tormentor that her wages
would be paid until the end of the week, but
that her services would be immediately dispensed
Billy was well aware now that housekeeping
was a matter of more than muffins and date puffs.
She could gauge, in a measure, the magnitude of
the task to which she had set herself. But she
did not falter; and very systematically she set
about making her plans.
With a good stout woman to come in twice a
week for the heavier work, she believed she could
manage by herself very well until Eliza could come
back. At least she could serve more palatable
meals than the most of those that had appeared
lately; and at least she could try to make a home
that would not drive Bertram to club dinners,
and Uncle William to hungry wanderings from
room to room. Meanwhile, all the time, she could
be learning, and in due course she would reach
that shining goal of Housekeeping Efficiency,
short of which--according to Aunt Hannah and
the ``Talk to Young Wives''--no woman need
hope for a waneless honeymoon.
So chaotic and erratic had been the household
service, and so quietly did Billy slip into her new
role, that it was not until the second meal after
the maid's departure that the master of the house
discovered what had happened. Then, as his
wife rose to get some forgotten article, he questioned,
with uplifted eyebrows:
``Too good to wait upon us, is my lady now,
``My lady is waiting on you,'' smiled Billy.
``Yes, I see _this_ lady is,'' retorted Bertram,
grimly; ``but I mean our real lady in the kitchen.
Great Scott, Billy, how long are you going to
Billy tossed her head airily, though she shook
in her shoes. Billy had been dreading this moment.
``I'm not standing it. She's gone,'' responded
Billy, cheerfully, resuming her seat. ``Uncle
William, sha'n't I give you some more pudding?''
``Gone, so soon?'' groaned Bertram, as William
passed his plate, with a smiling nod. ``Oh,
well,'' went on Bertram, resignedly, ``she stayed
longer than the last one. When is the next one
``She's already here.''
``Here? But--you served the dessert, and--''
At something in Billy's face, a quick suspicion
came into his own. ``Billy, you don't mean that
``Yes,'' she nodded brightly, ``that's just what
I mean. I'm the next one.''
``Nonsense!'' exploded Bertram, wrathfully.
``Oh, come, Billy, we've been all over this
before. You know I can't have it.''
``Yes, you can. You've got to have it,''
retorted Billy, still with that disarming, airy
cheerfulness. ``Besides, 'twon't be half so bad as you
think. Wasn't that a good pudding to-night?
Didn't you both come back for more? Well, I
``Puddings!'' ejaculated Bertram, with an
impatient gesture. ``Billy, as I've said before, it takes
something besides puddings to run this house.''
``Yes, I know it does,'' dimpled Billy, ``and
I've got Mrs. Durgin for that part. She's coming
twice a week, and more, if I need her. Why,
dearie, you don't know anything about how
comfortable you're going to be! I'll leave it to
Uncle William if--''
But Uncle William had gone. Silently he had
slipped from his chair and disappeared. Uncle
William, it might be mentioned in passing, had
never quite forgotten Aunt Hannah's fateful call
with its dire revelations concerning a certain
unwanted, superfluous, third-party husband's
brother. Remembering this, there were times
when he thought absence was both safest and
best. This was one of the times.
``But, Billy, dear,'' still argued Bertram,
irritably, ``how can you? You don't know how.
You've had no experience.''
Billy threw back her shoulders. An ominous
light came to her eyes. She was no longer airily
``That's exactly it, Bertram. I don't know
how--but I'm going to learn. I haven't had
experience--but I'm going to get it. I _can't_
make a worse mess of it than we've had ever
since Eliza went, anyway!''
``But if you'd get a maid--a good maid,''
persisted Bertram, feebly.
``I had _one_--Mary Ellen. She was a good
maid--until she found out how little her mistress
knew; then--well, you know what it was
then. Do you think I'd let that thing happen to
me again? No, sir! I'm going into training for
--my next Mary Ellen!'' And with a very
majestic air Billy rose from the table and began
to clear away the dishes.
THE EFFICIENCY STAR--AND BILLY
Billy was not a young woman that did things
by halves. Long ago, in the days of her childhood,
her Aunt Ella had once said of her: ``If
only Billy didn't go into things all over, so; but
whether it's measles or mud pies, I always know
that she'll be the measliest or the muddiest of any
child in town!'' It could not be expected, therefore,
that Billy would begin to play her new r
now with any lack of enthusiasm. But even had
she needed any incentive, there was still ever
ringing in her ears Bertram's accusing: ``If you'd
tend to your husband and your home a little
more--'' Billy still declared very emphatically
that she had forgiven Bertram; but she knew, in
her heart, that she had not forgotten.
Certainly, as the days passed, it could not be
said that Billy was not tending to her husband
and her home. From morning till night, now,
she tended to nothing else. She seldom touched
her piano--save to dust it--and she never
touched her half-finished song-manuscript, long
since banished to the oblivion of the music
cabinet. She made no calls except occasional flying
visits to the Annex, or to the pretty new home
where Marie and Cyril were now delightfully
settled. The opera and the Symphony were over
for the season, but even had they not been, Billy
could not have attended them. She had no time.
Surely she was not doing any ``gallivanting''
now, she told herself sometimes, a little aggrievedly.
There was, indeed, no time. From morning
until night Billy was busy, flying from one task
to another. Her ambition to have everything
just right was equalled only by her dogged
determination to ``just show them'' that she could do
this thing. At first, of course, hampered as she
was by ignorance and inexperience, each task
consumed about twice as much time as was necessary.
Yet afterwards, when accustomedness had
brought its reward of speed, there was still for
Billy no time; for increased knowledge had only
opened the way to other paths, untrodden and
alluring. Study of cookbooks had led to the
study of food values. Billy discovered suddenly
that potatoes, beef, onions, oranges, and
puddings were something besides vegetables, meat,
fruit, and dessert. They possessed attributes
known as proteids, fats, and carbohydrates.
Faint memories of long forgotten school days
hinted that these terms had been heard before;
but never, Billy was sure, had she fully realized
what they meant.
It was at this juncture that Billy ran across a
book entitled ``Correct Eating for Efficiency.''
She bought it at once, and carried it home in
triumph. It proved to be a marvelous book.
Billy had not read two chapters before she began
to wonder how the family had managed to live
thus far with any sort of success, in the face of
their dense ignorance and her own criminal carelessness
concerning their daily bill of fare.
At dinner that night Billy told Bertram and
William of her discovery, and, with growing
excitement, dilated on the wonderful good that it
was to bring to them.
``Why, you don't know, you can't imagine
what a treasure it is!'' she exclaimed. ``It gives
a complete table for the exact balancing of food.''
``For what?'' demanded Bertram, glancing up.
``The exact balancing of food; and this book
says that's the biggest problem that modern scientists
have to solve.''
``Humph!'' shrugged Bertram. ``Well, you
just balance my food to my hunger, and I'll agree
not to complain.''
``Oh, but, Bertram, it's serious, really,'' urged
Billy, looking genuinely distressed. ``Why, it
says that what you eat goes to make up what you
are. It makes your vital energies. Your brain
power and your body power come from what you
eat. Don't you see? If you're going to paint a
picture you need something different from what
you would if you were going to--to saw wood;
and what this book tells is--is what I ought to
give you to make you do each one, I should think,
from what I've read so far. Now don't you see
how important it is? What if I should give you
the saw-wood kind of a breakfast when you were
just going up-stairs to paint all day? And what
if I should give Uncle William a--a soldier's
breakfast when all he is going to do is to go down
on State Street and sit still all day?''
``But--but, my dear,'' began Uncle William,
looking slightly worried, ``there's my eggs that
I _always_ have, you know.''
``For heaven's sake, Billy, what _have_ you got
hold of now?'' demanded Bertram, with just a
touch of irritation.
Billy laughed merrily.
``Well, I suppose I didn't sound very logical,''
she admitted. ``But the book--you just wait.
It's in the kitchen. I'm going to get it.'' And
with laughing eagerness she ran from the room.
In a moment she had returned, book in hand.
``Now listen. _This_ is the real thing--not
my garbled inaccuracies. `The food which we
eat serves three purposes: it builds the body
substance, bone, muscle, etc., it produces heat in
the body, and it generates vital energy. Nitrogen
in different chemical combinations contributes
largely to the manufacture of body substances;
the fats produce heat; and the starches and
sugars go to make the vital energy. The nitrogenous
food elements we call proteins; the fats
and oils, fats; and the starches and sugars
(because of the predominance of carbon), we call
carbohydrates. Now in selecting the diet for the
day you should take care to choose those foods
which give the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates
in just the right proportion.' ''
``Oh, Billy!'' groaned Bertram.
``But it's so, Bertram,'' maintained Billy,
anxiously. ``And it's every bit here. I don't
have to guess at it at all. They even give the
quantities of calories of energy required for
different sized men. I'm going to measure you
both to-morrow; and you must be weighed, too,''
she continued, ignoring the sniffs of remonstrance
from her two listeners. ``Then I'll know just
how many calories to give each of you. They say
a man of average size and weight, and sedentary
occupation, should have at least 2,000 calories--
and some authorities say 3,000--in this proportion:
proteins, 300 calories, fats, 350 calories,
carbohydrates, 1,350 calories. But you both are
taller than five feet five inches, and I should think
you weighed more than 145 pounds; so I can't
tell just yet how many calories you will need.''
``How many we will need, indeed!'' ejaculated
``But, my dear, you know I have to have my
eggs,'' began Uncle William again, in a worried
``Of course you do, dear; and you shall have
them,'' soothed Billy, brightly. ``It's only that
I'll have to be careful and balance up the other
things for the day accordingly. Don't you see?
Now listen. We'll see what eggs are.'' She
turned the leaves rapidly. ``Here's the food
table. It's lovely. It tells everything. I never
saw anything so wonderful. A--b--c--d--e
--here we are. `Eggs, scrambled or boiled, fats
and proteins, one egg, 100.' If it's poached it's
only 50; but you like yours boiled, so we'll have
to reckon on the 100. And you always have
two, so that means 200 calories in fats and
proteins. Now, don't you see? If you can't have
but 300 proteins and 350 fats all day, and you've
already eaten 200 in your two eggs, that'll leave
just--er--450 for all the rest of the day,--of
fats and proteins, you understand. And you've
no idea how fast that'll count up. Why, just one
serving of butter is 100 of fats, and eight almonds
is another, while a serving of lentils is 100 of
proteins. So you see how it'll go.''
``Yes, I see,'' murmured Uncle William, casting
a mournful glance about the generously laden
table, much as if he were bidding farewell to a
departing friend. ``But if I should want more
to eat--'' He stopped helplessly, and Bertram's
aggrieved voice filled the pause.
``Look here, Billy, if you think I'm going to
be measured for an egg and weighed for an almond,
you're much mistaken; because I'm not.
I want to eat what I like, and as much as I like,
whether it's six calories or six thousand!''
Billy chuckled, but she raised her hands in
pretended shocked protest.
``Six thousand! Mercy! Bertram, I don't
know what would happen if you ate that quantity;
but I'm sure you couldn't paint. You'd
just have to saw wood and dig ditches to use up
all that vital energy.''
``Humph!'' scoffed Bertram.
``Besides, this is for _efficiency_,'' went on Billy,
with an earnest air. ``This man owns up that
some may think a 2,000 calory ration is altogether
too small, and he advises such to begin with
3,000 or even 3,500--graded, of course, according
to a man's size, weight, and occupation. But
he says one famous man does splendid work on
only 1,800 calories, and another on even 1,600.
But that is just a matter of chewing. Why,
Bertram, you have no idea what perfectly wonderful
things chewing does.''
``Yes, I've heard of that,'' grunted Bertram;
``ten chews to a cherry, and sixty to a spoonful
of soup. There's an old metronome up-stairs
that Cyril left. You might bring it down and
set it going on the table--so many ticks to a
mouthful, I suppose. I reckon, with an incentive
like that to eat, just about two calories would
do me. Eh, William?''
``Bertram! Now you're only making fun,''
chided Billy; ``and when it's really serious, too.
Now listen,'' she admonished, picking up the
book again. `` `If a man consumes a large
amount of meat, and very few vegetables, his
diet will be too rich in protein, and too lacking in
carbohydrates. On the other hand, if he consumes
great quantities of pastry, bread, butter,
and tea, his meals will furnish too much energy,
and not enough building material.' There, Bertram,
don't you see?''
``Oh, yes, I see,'' teased Bertram. ``William,
better eat what you can to-night. I foresee it's
the last meal of just _food_ we'll get for some time.
Hereafter we'll have proteins, fats, and
carbohydrates made into calory croquettes, and--''
``Bertram!'' scolded Billy.
But Bertram would not be silenced.
``Here, just let me take that book,'' he insisted,
dragging the volume from Billy's reluctant fingers.
``Now, William, listen. Here's your breakfast
to-morrow morning: strawberries, 100 calories;
whole-wheat bread, 75 calories; butter, 100
calories (no second helping, mind you, or you'd
ruin the balance and something would topple);
boiled eggs, 200 calories; cocoa, 100 calories--
which all comes to 570 calories. Sounds like an
English bill of fare with a new kind of foreign
money, but 'tisn't, really, you know. Now for
luncheon you can have tomato soup, 50 calories;
potato salad--that's cheap, only 30 calories,
and--'' But Billy pulled the book away then,
and in righteous indignation carried it to the
``You don't deserve anything to eat,'' she
declared with dignity, as she returned to the dining-
``No?'' queried Bertram, his eyebrows
uplifted. ``Well, as near as I can make out we
aren't going to get--much.''
But Billy did not deign to answer this.
In spite of Bertram's tormenting gibes, Billy
did, for some days, arrange her meals in accordance
with the wonderful table of food given in
``Correct Eating for Efficiency.'' To be sure,
Bertram, whatever he found before him during
those days, anxiously asked whether he were
eating fats, proteins, or carbohydrates; and he
worried openly as to the possibility of his meal's
producing one calory too much or too little, thus
endangering his ``balance.''
Billy alternately laughed and scolded, to the
unvarying good nature of her husband. As it
happened, however, even this was not for long,
for Billy ran across a magazine article on food
adulteration; and this so filled her with terror
lest, in the food served, she were killing her
family by slow poison, that she forgot all about
the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Her talk
these days was of formaldehyde, benzoate of
soda, and salicylic acid.
Very soon, too, Billy discovered an exclusive
Back Bay school for instruction in household
economics and domestic hygiene. Billy investigated
it at once, and was immediately aflame with
enthusiasm. She told Bertram that it taught
everything, _everything_ she wanted to know; and
forthwith she enrolled herself as one of its most
devoted pupils, in spite of her husband's protests
that she knew enough, more than enough, already.
This school attendance, to her consternation,
Billy discovered took added time; but in some
way she contrived to find it to take.
And so the days passed. Eliza's mother, though
better, was still too ill for her daughter to leave
her. Billy, as the warm weather approached,
began to look pale and thin. Billy, to tell the
truth, was working altogether too hard; but she
would not admit it, even to herself. At first the
novelty of the work, and her determination to
conquer at all costs, had given a fictitious strength
to her endurance. Now that the novelty had
become accustomedness, and the conquering a
surety, Billy discovered that she had a back that
could ache, and limbs that, at times, could almost
refuse to move from weariness. There was still,
however, one spur that never failed to urge her
to fresh endeavor, and to make her, at least
temporarily, forget both ache and weariness; and
that was the comforting thought that now,
certainly, even Bertram himself must admit that
she was tending to her home and her husband.
As to Bertram--Bertram, it is true, had at
first uttered frequent and vehement protests
against his wife's absorption of both mind and
body in ``that plaguy housework,'' as he termed
it. But as the days passed, and blessed order
superseded chaos, peace followed discord, and
delicious, well-served meals took the place of the
horrors that had been called meals in the past, he
gradually accepted the change with tranquil
satisfaction, and forgot to question how it was
brought about; though he did still, sometimes,
rebel because Billy was always too tired, or too
busy, to go out with him. Of late, however, he
had not done even this so frequently, for a new
``Face of a Girl'' had possessed his soul; and all
his thoughts and most of his time had gone to
putting on canvas the vision of loveliness that his
mind's eye saw.
By June fifteenth the picture was finished.
Bertram awoke then to his surroundings. He
found summer was upon him with no plans made
for its enjoyment. He found William had started
West for a two weeks' business trip. But what he
did not find one day--at least at first--was his
wife, when he came home unexpectedly at four
o'clock. And Bertram especially wanted to find
his wife that day, for he had met three people
whose words had disquieted him not a little.
First, Aunt Hannah. She had said:
``Bertram, where is Billy? She hasn't been
out to the Annex for a week; and the last time she
was there she looked sick. I was real worried
Cyril had been next.
``Where's Billy?'' he had asked abruptly.
``Marie says she hasn't seen her for two weeks.
Marie's afraid she's sick. She says Billy didn't
look well a bit, when she did see her.''
Calderwell had capped the climax. He had
``Great Scott, Henshaw, where have you been
keeping yourself? And where's your wife? Not
one of us has caught more than a glimpse of her
for weeks. She hasn't sung with us, nor played
for us, nor let us take her anywhere for a month
of Sundays. Even Miss Greggory says _she_ hasn't
seen much of her, and that Billy always says
she's too busy to go anywhere. But Miss Greggory
says she looks pale and thin, and that _she_
thinks she's worrying too much over running the
house. I hope she isn't sick!''
``Why, no, Billy isn't sick. Billy's all right,''
Bertram had answered. He had spoken lightly,
nonchalantly, with an elaborate air of carelessness;
but after he had left Calderwell, he had
turned his steps abruptly and a little hastily
And he had not found Billy--at least, not at
once. He had gone first down into the kitchen
and dining-room. He remembered then, uneasily,
that he had always looked for Billy in the kitchen
and dining-room, of late. To-day, however, she
was not there.
On the kitchen table Bertram did see a book
wide open, and, mechanically, he picked it up.
It was a much-thumbed cookbook, and it was
open where two once-blank pages bore his wife's
handwriting. On the first page, under the printed
heading ``Things to Remember,'' he read these
``That rice swells till every dish in the house
is full, and that spinach shrinks till you can't
``That beets boil dry if you look out the window.
``That biscuits which look as if they'd been
mixed up with a rusty stove poker haven't really
been so, but have only got too much undissolved
soda in them.''
There were other sentences, but Bertram's eyes
chanced to fall on the opposite page where the
``Things to Remember'' had been changed to
``Things to Forget''; and here Billy had written
just four words: ``Burns,'' ``cuts,'' and
Bertram dropped the book then with a spasmodic
clearing of his throat, and hurriedly resumed
his search. When he did find his wife, at
last, he gave a cry of dismay--she was on her
own bed, huddled in a little heap, and shaking
``Billy! Why, Billy!'' he gasped, striding to
Billy sat up at once, and hastily wiped her eyes.
``Oh, is it you, B-Bertram? I didn't hear you
come in. You--you s-said you weren't coming
till six o'clock!'' she choked.
``Billy, what is the meaning of this?''
``N-nothing. I--I guess I'm just tired.''
``What have you been doing?'' Bertram spoke
sternly, almost sharply. He was wondering why
he had not noticed before the little hollows in
his wife's cheeks. ``Billy, what have you been
``Why, n-nothing extra, only some sweeping,
and cleaning out the refrigerator.''
``Sweeping! Cleaning! _You!_ I thought Mrs.
Durgin did that.''
``She does. I mean she did. But she couldn't
come. She broke her leg--fell off the stepladder
where she was three days ago. So I _had_ to do it.
And to-day, someway, everything went wrong.
I burned me, and I cut me, and I used two sodas
with not any cream of tartar, and I should think
I didn't know anything, not anything!'' And
down went Billy's head into the pillows again in
another burst of sobs.
With gentle yet uncompromising determination,
Bertram gathered his wife into his arms and carried
her to the big chair. There, for a few minutes,
he soothed and petted her as if she were a
tired child--which, indeed, she was.
``Billy, this thing has got to stop,'' he said then.
There was a very inexorable ring of decision in his
``This housework business.''
Billy sat up with a jerk.
``But, Bertram, it isn't fair. You can't--you
mustn't--just because of to-day! I _can_ do it.
I have done it. I've done it days and days, and
it's gone beautifully--even if they did say I
``Be an e-efficient housekeeper.''
``Who said you couldn't?''
``Aunt Hannah and K-Kate.''
Bertram said a savage word under his breath.
``Holy smoke, Billy! I didn't marry you for a
cook or a scrub-lady. If you _had_ to do it, that
would be another matter, of course; and if we did
have to do it, we wouldn't have a big house like
this for you to do it in. But I didn't marry for a
cook, and I knew I wasn't getting one when I
Billy bridled into instant wrath.
``Well, I like that, Bertram Henshaw! Can't
I cook? Haven't I proved that I can cook?''
Bertram laughed, and kissed the indignant lips
till they quivered into an unwilling smile.
``Bless your spunky little heart, of course you
have! But that doesn't mean that I want you
to do it. You see, it so happens that you can do
other things, too; and I'd rather you did those.
Billy, you haven't played to me for a week, nor
sung to me for a month. You're too tired every
night to talk, or read together, or go anywhere
with me. I married for companionship--not
cooking and sweeping!''
Billy shook her head stubbornly. Her mouth
settled into determined lines.
``That's all very well to say. You aren't
hungry now, Bertram. But it's different when
you are, and they said 'twould be.''
``Humph! `They' are Aunt Hannah and
Kate, I suppose.''
``Yes--and the `Talk to Young Wives.' ''
Billy choked a little. She had forgotten that
Bertram did not know about the ``Talk to Young
Wives.'' She wished that she had not mentioned
the book, but now that she had, she would make
the best of it. She drew herself up with dignity.
``It's a book; a very nice book. It says lots
of things--that have come true.''
``Where is that book? Let me see it, please.''
With visible reluctance Billy got down from her
perch on Bertram's knee, went to her desk and
brought back the book.
Bertram regarded it frowningly, so frowningly
that Billy hastened to its defense.
``And it's true--what it says in there, and
what Aunt Hannah and Kate said. It _is_ different
when they're hungry! You said yourself if I'd
tend to my husband and my home a little more,
Bertram looked up with unfeigned amazement.
``I said what?'' he demanded.
In a voice shaken with emotion, Billy repeated
the fateful words.
``I never--when did I say that?''
``The night Uncle William and I came home
For a moment Bertram stared dumbly; then a
shamed red swept to his forehead.
``Billy, _did_ I say that? I ought to be shot if
I did. But, Billy, you said you'd forgiven
``I did, dear--truly I did; but, don't you see?
--it was true. I _hadn't_ tended to things. So I've
been doing it since.''
A sudden comprehension illuminated Bertram's
``Heavens, Billy! And is that why you haven't
been anywhere, or done anything? Is that why
Calderwell said to-day that you hadn't been with
them anywhere, and that-- Great Scott, Billy!
Did you think I was such a selfish brute as
``Oh, but when I was going with them I _was_
following the book--I thought,'' quavered Billy;
and hurriedly she turned the leaves to a carefully
marked passage. ``It's there--about the outside
interests. See? I _was_ trying to brush up
against them, so that I wouldn't interfere with
your Art. Then, when you accused me of
gallivanting off with--'' But Bertram swept her
back into his arms, and not for some minutes
could Billy make a coherent speech again.
Then Bertram spoke.
``See here, Billy,'' he exploded, a little shakily,
``if I could get you off somewhere on a desert
island, where there weren't any Aunt Hannahs or
Kates, or Talks to Young Wives, I think there'd
be a chance to make you happy; but--''
``Oh, but there was truth in it,'' interrupted
Billy, sitting erect again. ``I _didn't_ know how to
run a house, and it was perfectly awful while we
were having all those dreadful maids, one after
the other; and no woman should be a wife who
``All right, all right, dear,'' interrupted
Bertram, in his turn. ``We'll concede that point, if
you like. But you _do_ know now. You've got
the efficient housewife racket down pat even to the
last calory your husband should be fed; and I'll
warrant there isn't a Mary Ellen in Christendom
who can find a spot of ignorance on you as big as
a pinhead! So we'll call that settled. What you
need now is a good rest; and you're going to have
it, too. I'm going to have six Mary Ellens here
to-morrow morning. Six! Do you hear? And
all you've got to do is to get your gladdest rags
together for a trip to Europe with me next month.
Because we're going. I shall get the tickets to-
morrow, _after_ I send the six Mary Ellens packing
up here. Now come, put on your bonnet. We're
going down town to dinner.''
BILLY TRIES HER HAND AT ``MANAGING''
Bertram did not engage six Mary Ellens the
next morning, nor even one, as it happened; for
that evening, Eliza--who had not been unaware
of conditions at the Strata--telephoned to say
that her mother was so much better now she
believed she could be spared to come to the Strata
for several hours each day, if Mrs. Henshaw
would like to have her begin in that way.
Billy agreed promptly, and declared herself
as more than willing to put up with such an
arrangement. Bertram, it is true, when he heard
of the plan, rebelled, and asserted that what Billy
needed was a rest, an entire rest from care and
labor. In fact, what he wanted her to do, he said,
was to gallivant--to gallivant all day long.
``Nonsense!'' Billy had laughed, coloring to
the tips of her ears. ``Besides, as for the work,
Bertram, with just you and me here, and with all
my vast experience now, and Eliza here for several
hours every day, it'll be nothing but play for this
little time before we go away. You'll see!''
``All right, I'll _see_, then,'' Bertram had nodded
meaningly. ``But just make sure that it _is_ play
``I will,'' laughed Billy; and there the matter
Eliza began work the next day, and Billy did
indeed soon find herself ``playing'' under
Bertram's watchful insistence. She resumed her
music, and brought out of exile the unfinished
song. With Bertram she took drives and walks;
and every two or three days she went to see
Aunt Hannah and Marie. She was pleasantly
busy, too, with plans for her coming trip; and
it was not long before even the remorseful
Bertram had to admit that Billy was looking and
appearing quite like her old self.
At the Annex Billy found Calderwell and
Arkwright, one day. They greeted her as if she had
just returned from a far country.
``Well, if you aren't the stranger lady,'' began
Calderwell, looking frankly pleased to see her.
``We'd thought of advertising in the daily press
somewhat after this fashion: `Lost, strayed, or
stolen, one Billy; comrade, good friend, and kind
cheerer-up of lonely hearts. Any information
thankfully received by her bereft, sorrowing
Billy joined in the laugh that greeted this sally,
but Arkwright noticed that she tried to change
the subject from her own affairs to a discussion
of the new song on Alice Greggory's piano.
Calderwell, however, was not to be silenced.
``The last I heard of this elusive Billy,'' he
resumed, with teasing cheerfulness, ``she was running
down a certain lost calory that had slipped
away from her husband's breakfast, and--''
Billy wheeled sharply.
``Where did you get hold of that?'' she demanded.
``Oh, I didn't,'' returned the man, defensively.
``I never got hold of it at all. I never even saw
the calory--though, for that matter, I don't
think I should know one if I did see it! What we
feared was, that, in hunting the lost calory, you
had lost yourself, and--'' But Billy would hear
no more. With her disdainful nose in the air she
walked to the piano.
``Come, Mr. Arkwright,'' she said with dignity.
``Let's try this song.''
Arkwright rose at once and accompanied her
to the piano.
They had sung the song through twice when
Billy became uneasily aware that, on the other
side of the room, Calderwell and Alice Greggory
were softly chuckling over something they had
found in a magazine. Billy frowned, and twitched
the corners of a pile of music, with restless fingers.
``I wonder if Alice hasn't got some quartets
here somewhere,'' she murmured, her disapproving
eyes still bent on the absorbed couple across
Arkwright was silent. Billy, throwing a
hurried glance into his face, thought she detected
a somber shadow in his eyes. She thought, too,
she knew why it was there. So possessed had
Billy been, during the early winter, of the idea
that her special mission in life was to inaugurate
and foster a love affair between disappointed Mr.
Arkwright and lonely Alice Greggory, that now
she forgot, for a moment, that Arkwright himself
was quite unaware of her efforts. She thought
only that the present shadow on his face must
be caused by the same thing that brought worry
to her own heart--the manifest devotion of
Calderwell to Alice Greggory just now across the
room. Instinctively, therefore, as to a coworker
in a common cause, she turned a disturbed face
to the man at her side.
``It is, indeed, high time that I looked after
something besides lost calories,'' she said
significantly. Then, at the evident uncomprehension
in Arkwright's face, she added: ``Has it
been going on like this--very long?''
Arkwright still, apparently, did not understand.
``Has--what been going on?'' he questioned.
``That--over there,'' answered Billy,
impatiently, scarcely knowing whether to be more
irritated at the threatened miscarriage of her
cherished plans, or at Arkwright's (to her)
wilfully blind insistence on her making her meaning
more plain. ``Has it been going on long--such
As she asked the question Billy turned and
looked squarely into Arkwright's face. She saw,
therefore, the great change that came to it, as
her meaning became clear to him. Her first
feeling was one of shocked realization that
Arkwright had, indeed, been really blind. Her
second--she turned away her eyes hurriedly from
what she thought she saw in the man's countenance.
With an assumedly gay little cry she sprang to
``Come, come, what are you two children
chuckling over?'' she demanded, crossing the
room abruptly. ``Didn't you hear me say I
wanted you to come and sing a quartet?''
Billy blamed herself very much for what she
called her stupidity in so baldly summoning
Arkwright's attention to Calderwell's devotion to
Alice Greggory. She declared that she ought to
have known better, and she asked herself if this
were the way she was ``furthering matters''
between Alice Greggory and Arkwright.
Billy was really seriously disturbed. She had
never quite forgiven herself for being so blind to
Arkwright's feeling for herself during those days
when he had not known of her engagement to
Bertram. She had never forgotten, either, the
painful scene when he had hopefully told of his
love, only to be met with her own shocked
repudiation. For long weeks after that, his face had
haunted her. She had wished, oh, so ardently,
that she could do something in some way to bring
him happiness. When, therefore, it had come to
her knowledge afterward that he was frequently
with his old friend, Alice Greggory, she had been
so glad. It was very easy then to fan hope into
conviction that here, in this old friend, he had
found sweet balm for his wounded heart; and she
determined at once to do all that she could do to
help. So very glowing, indeed, was her eagerness
in the matter, that it looked suspiciously as if she
thought, could she but bring this thing about,
that old scores against herself would be erased.
Billy told herself, virtuously, however, that
not only for Arkwright did she desire this marriage
to take place, but for Alice Greggory. In
the very nature of things Alice would one day be
left alone. She was poor, and not very strong.
She sorely needed the shielding love and care of a
good husband. What more natural than that her
old-time friend and almost-sweetheart, M. J.
Arkwright, should be that good husband?
That really it was more Arkwright and less
Alice that was being considered, however, was
proved when the devotion of Calderwell began to
be first suspected, then known for a fact. Billy's
distress at this turn of affairs indicated very
plainly that it was not just a husband, but a
certain one particular husband that she desired
for Alice Greggory. All the more disturbed was
she, therefore, when to-day, seeing her three
friends together again for the first time for some
weeks, she discovered increased evidence that her
worst fears were to be realized. It was to be
Alice and Calderwell, not Alice and Arkwright.
Arkwright was again to be disappointed in his
Telling herself indignantly that it could not
be, it _should_ not be, Billy determined to remain
after the men had gone, and speak to Alice. Just
what she would say she did not know. Even
what she could say, she was not sure. But
certainly there must be something, some little thing
that she could say, which would open Alice's eyes
to what she was doing, and what she ought to
It was in this frame of mind, therefore, that
Billy, after Arkwright and Calderwell had gone,
spoke to Alice. She began warily, with assumed
``I believe Mr. Arkwright sings better every
time I hear him.''
There was no answer. Alice was sorting music
at the piano.
``Don't you think so?'' Billy raised her voice
Alice turned almost with a start.
``What's that? Oh, yes. Well, I don't know;
maybe I do.''
``You would--if you didn't hear him any
oftener than I do,'' laughed Billy. ``But then,
of course you do hear him oftener.''
``I? Oh, no, indeed. Not so very much
oftener.'' Alice had turned back to her music.
There was a slight embarrassment in her manner.
``I wonder--where--that new song--is,'' she
Billy, who knew very well where the song lay,
was not to be diverted.
``Nonsense! As if Mr. Arkwright wasn't
always telling how Alice liked this song, and didn't
like that one, and thought the other the best yet!
I don't believe he sings a thing that he doesn't
first sing to you. For that matter, I fancy he
asks your opinion of everything, anyway.''
``Why, Billy, he doesn't!'' exclaimed Alice, a
deep red flaming into her cheeks. ``You know he
Billy laughed gleefully. She had not been slow
to note the color in her friend's face, or to ascribe
to it the one meaning she wished to ascribe to it.
So sure, indeed, was she now that her fears had
been groundless, that she flung caution to the
``Ho! My dear Alice, you can't expect us all
to be blind,'' she teased. ``Besides, we all think
it's such a lovely arrangement that we're just
glad to see it. He's such a fine fellow, and we like
him so much! We couldn't ask for a better husband
for you than Mr. Arkwright, and--'' From
sheer amazement at the sudden white horror
in Alice Greggory's face, Billy stopped short.
``Why, Alice!'' she faltered then.
With a visible effort Alice forced her trembling
lips to speak.
``My husband--_Mr. Arkwright!_ Why, Billy,
you couldn't have seen--you haven't seen--
there's nothing you _could_ see! He isn't--he
wasn't--he can't be! We--we're nothing but
friends, Billy, just good friends!''
Billy, though dismayed, was still not quite
``Friends! Nonsense! When--''
But Alice interrupted feverishly. Alice, in an
agony of fear lest the true state of affairs should
be suspected, was hiding behind a bulwark of
``Now, Billy, please! Say no more. You're
quite wrong, entirely. You'll never, never hear of
my marrying Mr. Arkwright. As I said before,
we're friends--the best of friends; that is all.
We couldn't be anything else, possibly!''
Billy, plainly discomfited, fell back; but she
threw a sharp glance into her friend's flushed
``You mean--because of--Hugh Calderwell?''
she demanded. Then, for the second time
that afternoon throwing discretion to the winds,
she went on plaintively: ``You won't listen, of
course. Girls in love never do. Hugh is all right,
and I like him; but there's more real solid worth
in Mr. Arkwright's little finger than there is in
Hugh's whole self. And--'' But a merry peal
of laughter from Alice Greggory interrupted.
``And, pray, do you think I'm in love with
Hugh Calderwell?'' she demanded. There was
a curious note of something very like relief in her
``Well, I didn't know,'' began Billy, uncertainly.
``Then I'll tell you now,'' smiled Alice. ``I'm
not. Furthermore, perhaps it's just as well that
you should know right now that I don't intend
``No.'' There was determination, and there
was still that curious note of relief in the girl's
voice. It was as if, somewhere, a great danger
had been avoided. ``I have my music. That is
enough. I'm not intending to marry.''
``Oh, but Alice, while I will own up I'm glad it
isn't Hugh Calderwell, there _is_ Mr. Arkwright,
and I did hope--'' But Alice shook her head
and turned resolutely away. At that moment,
too, Aunt Hannah came in from the street, so
Billy could say no more.
Aunt Hannah dropped herself a little wearily
into a chair.
``I've just come from Marie's,'' she said.
``How is she?'' asked Billy.
Aunt Hannah smiled, and raised her eyebrows.
``Well, just now she's quite exercised over
another rattle--from her cousin out West, this
time. There were four little silver bells on it,
and she hasn't got any janitor's wife now to give
Billy laughed softly, but Aunt Hannah had
more to say.
``You know she isn't going to allow any toys
but Teddy bears and woolly lambs, of which, I
believe, she has already bought quite an assortment.
She says they don't rattle or squeak. I
declare, when I see the woolen pads and rubber
hushers that that child has put everywhere all
over the house, I don't know whether to laugh
or cry. And she's so worried! It seems Cyril
must needs take just this time to start composing
a new opera or symphony, or something; and
never before has she allowed him to be interrupted
by anything on such an occasion. But what he'll
do when the baby comes she says she doesn't
know, for she says she can't--she just can't keep
it from bothering him some, she's afraid. As if
any opera or symphony that ever lived was of
more consequence than a man's own child!''
finished Aunt Hannah, with an indignant sniff, as
she reached for her shawl.
A TOUGH NUT TO CRACK FOR CYRIL
It was early in the forenoon of the first day of
July that Eliza told her mistress that Mrs.
Stetson was asking for her at the telephone. Eliza's
face was not a little troubled.
``I'm afraid, maybe, it isn't good news,'' she
stammered, as her mistress hurriedly arose.
``She's at Mr. Cyril Henshaw's--Mrs. Stetson
is--and she seemed so terribly upset about something
that there was no making real sense out of
what she said. But she asked for you, and said
to have you come quick.''
Billy, her own face paling, was already at the
``Yes, Aunt Hannah. What is it?''
``Oh, my grief and conscience, Billy, if you
_can_, come up here, please. You must come!
_Can't_ you come?''
``Why, yes, of course. But--but--_Marie!_
A faint groan came across the wires.
``Oh, my grief and conscience, Billy! It isn't
_the_ baby. It's _babies!_ It's twins--boys. Cyril
has them now--the nurse hasn't got here yet.''
``Twins! _Cyril_ has them!'' broke in Billy,
``Yes, and they're crying something terrible.
We've sent for a second nurse to come, too, of
course, but she hasn't got here yet, either. And
those babies--if you could hear them! That's
what we want you for, to--''
But Billy was almost laughing now.
``All right, I'll come out--and hear them,''
she called a bit wildly, as she hung up the receiver.
Some little time later, a palpably nervous maid
admitted Billy to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Cyril
Henshaw. Even as the door was opened, Billy
heard faintly, but unmistakably, the moaning
wails of two infants.
``Mrs. Stetson says if you will please to help
Mr. Henshaw with the babies,'' stammered the
maid, after the preliminary questions and
answers. ``I've been in when I could, and they're
all right, only they're crying. They're in his den.
We had to put them as far away as possible--
their crying worried Mrs. Henshaw so.''
``Yes, I see,'' murmured Billy. ``I'll go to
them at once. No, don't trouble to come. I
know the way. Just tell Mrs. Stetson I'm here,
please,'' she finished, as she tossed her hat and
gloves on to the hall table, and turned to go upstairs.
Billy's feet made no sound on the soft rugs.
The crying, however, grew louder and louder as
she approached the den. Softly she turned the
knob and pushed open the door. She stopped
short, then, at what she saw.
Cyril had not heard her, nor seen her. His
back was partly toward the door. His coat was
off, and his hair stood fiercely on end as if a
nervous hand had ruffled it. His usually pale face
was very red, and his forehead showed great drops
of perspiration. He was on his feet, hovering
over the couch, at each end of which lay a rumpled
roll of linen, lace, and flannel, from which emerged
a prodigiously puckered little face, two uncertainly
waving rose-leaf fists, and a wail of protesting
rage that was not uncertain in the least.
In one hand Cyril held a Teddy bear, in the
other his watch, dangling from its fob chain.
Both of these he shook feebly, one after the other,
above the tiny faces.
``Oh, come, come, pretty baby, good baby,
hush, hush,'' he begged agitatedly.
In the doorway Billy clapped her hands to her
lips and stifled a laugh. Billy knew, of course,
that what she should do was to go forward at
once, and help this poor, distracted man; but
Billy, just then, was not doing what she knew
she ought to do.
With a muttered ejaculation (which Billy, to
her sorrow, could not catch) Cyril laid down the
watch and flung the Teddy bear aside. Then, in
very evident despair, he gingerly picked up one
of the rumpled rolls of flannel, lace, and linen,
and held it straight out before him. After a
moment's indecision he began awkwardly to jounce
it, teeter it, rock it back and forth, and to pat it
``Oh, come, come, pretty baby, good baby,
hush, hush,'' he begged again, frantically.
Perhaps it was the change of position; perhaps
it was the novelty of the motion, perhaps it was
only utter weariness, or lack of breath. Whatever
the cause, the wailing sobs from the bundle
in his arms dwindled suddenly to a gentle whisper,
then ceased altogether.
With a ray of hope illuminating his drawn
countenance, Cyril carefully laid the baby down and
picked up the other. Almost confidently now he
began the jouncing and teetering and rocking
``There, there! Oh, come, come, pretty baby,
good baby, hush, hush,'' he chanted again.
This time he was not so successful. Perhaps
he had lost his skill. Perhaps it was merely the
world-old difference in babies. At all events, this
infant did not care for jerks and jounces, and
showed it plainly by emitting loud and yet louder
wails of rage--wails in which his brother on the
couch speedily joined.
``Oh, come, come, pretty baby, good baby,
hush, hush--_confound it_, HUSH, I say!'' exploded
the frightened, weary, baffled, distracted man,
picking up the other baby, and trying to hold
both his sons at once.
Billy hurried forward then, tearfully, remorsefully,
her face all sympathy, her arms all tenderness.
``Here, Cyril, let me help you,'' she cried.
Cyril turned abruptly.
``Thank God, _some_ one's come,'' he groaned,
holding out both the babies, with an exuberance
of generosity. ``Billy, you've saved my life!''
Billy laughed tremulously.
``Yes, I've come, Cyril, and I'll help every bit
I can; but I don't know a thing--not a single
thing about them myself. Dear me, aren't they
cunning? But, Cyril, do they always cry so?''
The father-of-an-hour drew himself stiffly erect.
``Cry? What do you mean? Why shouldn't
they cry?'' he demanded indignantly. ``I want
you to understand that Doctor Brown said those
were A number I fine boys! Anyhow, I guess
there's no doubt they've got lungs all right,'' he
added, with a grim smile, as he pulled out his
handkerchief and drew it across his perspiring
Billy did not have an opportunity to show Cyril
how much or how little she knew about babies,
for in another minute the maid had appeared
with the extra nurse; and that young woman,
with trained celerity and easy confidence,
assumed instant command, and speedily had peace
and order restored.
Cyril, freed from responsibility, cast longing
eyes, for a moment, upon his work; but the next
minute, with a despairing glance about him, he
turned and fled precipitately.
Billy, following the direction of his eyes,
suppressed a smile. On the top of Cyril's manuscript
music on the table lay a hot-water bottle. Draped
over the back of his favorite chair was a pink-
bordered baby blanket. On the piano-stool rested
a beribboned and beruffled baby's toilet basket.
From behind the sofa pillow leered ridiculously
the Teddy bear, just as it had left Cyril's
No wonder, indeed, that Billy smiled. Billy
was thinking of what Marie had said not a week
``I shall keep the baby, of course, in the nursery.
I've been in homes where they've had baby
things strewn from one end of the house to the
other; but it won't be that way here. In the first
place, I don't believe in it; but, even if I did, I'd
have to be careful on account of Cyril. Imagine
Cyril's trying to write his music with a baby in
the room! No! I shall keep the baby in the
nursery, if possible; but wherever it is, it won't
be anywhere near Cyril's den, anyway.''
Billy suppressed many a smile during the days
that immediately followed the coming of the
twins. Some of the smiles, however, refused to
be suppressed. They became, indeed, shamelessly
Billy was to sail the tenth, and, naturally,
during those early July days, her time was pretty
much occupied with her preparations for departure;
but nothing could keep her from frequent,
though short, visits to the home of her brother-
The twins were proving themselves to be fine,
healthy boys. Two trained maids, and two
trained nurses ruled the household with a rod of
iron. As to Cyril--Billy declared that Cyril
was learning something every day of his life now.
``Oh, yes, he's learning things,'' she said to
Aunt Hannah, one morning; ``lots of things.
For instance: he has his breakfast now, not when
he wants it, but when the maid wants to give it
to him--which is precisely at eight o'clock every
morning. So he's learning punctuality. And for
the first time in his life he has discovered the
astounding fact that there are several things
more important in the world than is the special
piece of music he happens to be composing--
chiefly the twins' bath, the twins' nap, the twins'
airing, and the twins' colic.''
Aunt Hannah laughed, though she frowned,
``But, surely, Billy, with two nurses and the
maids, Cyril doesn't have to--to--'' She
came to a helpless pause.
``Oh, no,'' laughed Billy; ``Cyril doesn't have
to really attend to any of those things--though
I have seen each of the nurses, at different times,
unhesitatingly thrust a twin into his arms and
bid him hold the child till she comes back. But
it's this way. You see, Marie must be kept quiet,
and the nursery is very near her room. It worries
her terribly when either of the children cries.
Besides, the little rascals have apparently fixed up
some sort of labor-union compact with each other,
so that if one cries for something or nothing, the
other promptly joins in and helps. So the nurses
have got into the habit of picking up the first
disturber of the peace, and hurrying him to
quarters remote; and Cyril's den being the most
remote of all, they usually fetch up there.''
``You mean--they take those babies into
Cyril's den--_now_?'' Even Aunt Hannah was
``Yes,'' twinkled Billy. ``I fancy their
Hygienic Immaculacies approved of Cyril's bare
floors, undraped windows, and generally knick-
knackless condition. Anyhow, they've made his
den a sort of--of annex to the nursery.''
``But--but Cyril! What does he say?''
stammered the dumfounded Aunt Hannah. ``Think
of Cyril's standing a thing like that! Doesn't he
do anything--or say anything?''
Billy smiled, and lifted her brows quizzically.
``My dear Aunt Hannah, did you ever know
_many_ people to have the courage to `say things'
to one of those becapped, beaproned, bespotless
creatures of loftily superb superiority known as
trained nurses? Besides, you wouldn't recognize
Cyril now. Nobody would. He's as meek as
Moses, and has been ever since his two young sons
were laid in his reluctant, trembling arms. He
breaks into a cold sweat at nothing, and moves
about his own home as if he were a stranger and
an interloper, endured merely on sufferance in
this abode of strange women and strange babies.''
``Nonsense!'' scoffed Aunt Hannah.
``But it's so,'' maintained Billy, merrily.
``Now, for instance. You know Cyril always
has been in the habit of venting his moods on the
piano (just as I do, only more so) by playing
exactly as he feels. Well, as near as I can gather,
he was at his usual trick the next day after the
twins arrived; and you can imagine about what
sort of music it would be, after what he had been
through the preceding forty-eight hours.
``Of course I don't know exactly what
happened, but Julia--Marie's second maid, you
know--tells the story. She's been with them
long enough to know something of the way the
whole household always turns on the pivot of
the master's whims; so she fully appreciated the
situation. She says she heard him begin to play,
and that she never heard such queer, creepy,
shivery music in her life; but that he hadn't been
playing five minutes before one of the nurses
came into the living-room where Julia was dusting,
and told her to tell whoever was playing to
stop that dreadful noise, as they wanted to take
the twins in there for their nap.
`` `But I didn't do it, ma'am,' Julia says. `I
wa'n't lookin' for losin' my place, an' I let the
young woman do the job herself. An' she done
it, pert as you please. An' jest as I was seekin'
a hidin'-place for the explosion, if Mr. Henshaw
didn't come out lookin' a little wild, but as meek
as a lamb; an' when he sees me he asked wouldn't
I please get him a cup of coffee, good an' strong.
An' I got it.'
``So you see,'' finished Billy, ``Cyril is
learning things--lots of things.''
``Oh, my grief and conscience! I should say
he was,'' half-shivered Aunt Hannah. ``_Cyril_
looking meek as a lamb, indeed!''
Billy laughed merrily.
``Well, it must be a new experience--for
Cyril. For a man whose daily existence for years
has been rubber-heeled and woolen-padded, and
whose family from boyhood has stood at attention
and saluted if he so much as looked at them,
it must be quite a change, as things are now.
However, it'll be different, of course, when Marie
is on her feet again.''
``Does she know at all how things are going?''
``Not very much, as yet, though I believe she
has begun to worry some. She confided to me
one day that she was glad, of course, that she
had two darling babies, instead of one; but
that she was afraid it might be hard, just at first,
to teach them both at once to be quiet; for
she was afraid that while she was teaching one,
the other would be sure to cry, or do something
``Do something noisy, indeed!'' ejaculated
``As for the real state of affairs, Marie doesn't
dream that Cyril's sacred den is given over to
Teddy bears and baby blankets. All is, I hope
she'll be measurably strong before she does find
it out,'' laughed Billy, as she rose to go.
ARKWRIGHT'S EYES ARE OPENED
William came back from his business trip the
eighth of July, and on the ninth Billy and Bertram
went to New York. Eliza's mother was so
well now that Eliza had taken up her old quarters
in the Strata, and the household affairs were
once more running like clockwork. Later in the
season William would go away for a month's
fishing trip, and the house would be closed.
Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Henshaw were not
expected to return until the first of October; but
with Eliza to look after the comfort of William,
the mistress of the house did no worrying. Ever
since Pete's going, Eliza had said that she
preferred to be the only maid, with a charwoman to
come in for the heavier work; and to this arrangement
her mistress had willingly consented, for the
Marie and the babies were doing finely, and
Aunt Hannah's health, and affairs at the Annex,
were all that could be desired. As Billy, indeed,
saw it, there was only one flaw to mar her perfect
content on this holiday trip with Bertram, and
that was her disappointment over the very evident
disaster that had come to her cherished
matrimonial plans for Arkwright and Alice
Greggory. She could not forget Arkwright's face that
day at the Annex, when she had so foolishly called
his attention to Calderwell's devotion; and she
could not forget, either, Alice Greggory's very
obvious perturbation a little later, and her
suspiciously emphatic assertion that she had no
intention of marrying any one, certainly not
Arkwright. As Billy thought of all this now, she
could not but admit that it did look dark for
Arkwright--poor Arkwright, whom she, more
than any one else in the world, perhaps, had a
special reason for wishing to see happily married.
There was, then, this one cloud on Billy's
horizon as the big boat that was to bear her across
the water steamed down the harbor that beautiful
As it chanced, naturally, perhaps, not only was
Billy thinking of Arkwright that morning, but
Arkwright was thinking of Billy.
Arkwright had thought frequently of Billy
during the last few days, particularly since that
afternoon meeting at the Annex when the four
had renewed their old good times together. Up
to that day Arkwright had been trying not to
think of Billy. He had been ``fighting his tiger
skin.'' Sternly he had been forcing himself to
meet her, to see her, to talk with her, to sing with
her, or to pass her by--all with the indifference
properly expected to be shown in association with
Mrs. Bertram Henshaw, another man's wife. He
had known, of course, that deep down in his heart
he loved her, always had loved her, and always
would love her. Hopelessly and drearily he
accepted this as a fact even while with all his might
fighting that tiger skin. So sure was he, indeed,
of this, so implicitly had he accepted it as an
unalterable certainty, that in time even his efforts
to fight it became almost mechanical and unconscious
in their stern round of forced indifference.
Then came that day at the Annex--and the
discovery: the discovery which he had made
when Billy called his attention to Calderwell and
Alice Greggory across the room in the corner;
the discovery which had come with so blinding a
force, and which even now he was tempted to
question as to its reality; the discovery that not
Billy Neilson, nor Mrs. Bertram Henshaw, nor
even the tender ghost of a lost love held the
center of his heart--but Alice Greggory.
The first intimation of all this had come with
his curious feeling of unreasoning hatred and
blind indignation toward Calderwell as, through
Billy's eyes, he had seen the two together. Then
had come the overwhelming longing to pick up
Alice Greggory and run off with her--somewhere,
anywhere, so that Calderwell could not follow.
At once, however, he had pulled himself up
short with the mental cry of ``Absurd!'' What
was it to him if Calderwell did care for Alice
Greggory? Surely he himself was not in love
with the girl. He was in love with Billy; that
It was all confusion then, in his mind, and he
was glad indeed when he could leave the house.
He wanted to be alone. He wanted to think.
He must, in some way, thrash out this astounding
thing that had come to him.
Arkwright did not visit the Annex again for
some days. Until he was more nearly sure of
himself and of his feelings, he did not wish to see
Alice Greggory. It was then that he began to
think of Billy, deliberately, purposefully, for it
must be, of course, that he had made a mistake,
he told himself. It must be that he did, really,
still care for Billy--though of course he ought
Arkwright made another discovery then. He
learned that, however deliberately he started in
to think of Billy, he ended every time in thinking
of Alice. He thought of how good she had been
to him, and of how faithful she had been in helping
him to fight his love for Billy. Just here he
decided, for a moment, that probably, after all,
his feeling of anger against Calderwell was merely
the fear of losing this helpful comradeship that
he so needed. Even with himself, however, Arkwright
could not keep up this farce long, and very
soon he admitted miserably that it was not the