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Miss Billy Married by Eleanor H. Porter

Part 5 out of 7

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comradeship of Alice Greggory that he wanted or
needed, but the love.

He knew it now. No longer was there any use
in beating about the bush. He did love Alice
Greggory; but so curiously and unbelievably
stupid had he been that he had not found it out
until now. And now it was too late. Had not
even Billy called his attention to the fact of
Calderwell's devotion? Besides, had not he himself,
at the very first, told Calderwell that he
might have a clear field?

Fool that he had been to let another thus lightly
step in and win from under his very nose what
might have been his if he had but known his own
mind before it was too late!

But was it, after all, quite too late? He and
Alice were old friends. Away back in their young
days in their native town they had been, indeed,
almost sweethearts, in a boy-and-girl fashion.
It would not have taken much in those days, he
believed, to have made the relationship more
interesting. But changes had come. Alice had
left town, and for years they had drifted apart.
Then had come Billy, and Billy had found Alice,
thus bringing about the odd circumstance of their
renewing of acquaintanceship. Perhaps, at that
time, if he had not already thought he cared for
Billy, there would have been something more
than acquaintanceship.

But he _had_ thought he cared for Billy all these
years; and now, at this late day, to wake up and
find that he cared for Alice! A pretty mess he
had made of things! Was he so inconstant then,
so fickle? Did he not know his own mind five
minutes at a time? What would Alice Greggory
think, even if he found the courage to tell her?
What could she think? What could anybody

Arkwright fairly ground his teeth in impotent
wrath--and he did not know whether he were
the most angry that he did not love Billy, or that
he had loved Billy, or that he loved somebody else

It was while he was in this unenviable frame of
mind that he went to see Alice. Not that he had
planned definitely to speak to her of his discovery,
nor yet that he had planned not to. He had,
indeed, planned nothing. For a man usually so
decided as to purpose and energetic as to action,
he was in a most unhappy state of uncertainty
and changeableness. One thing only was unmistakably
clear to him, and that was that he must
see Alice.

For months, now, he had taken to Alice all his
hopes and griefs, perplexities and problems; and
never had he failed to find comfort in the shape
of sympathetic understanding and wise counsel.
To Alice, therefore, now he turned as a matter of
course, telling himself vaguely that, perhaps,
after he had seen Alice, he would feel better.

Just how intimately this particular problem of
his concerned Alice herself, he did not stop to
realize. He did not, indeed, think of it at all from
Alice's standpoint--until he came face to face
with the girl in the living-room at the Annex.
Then, suddenly, he did. His manner became at
once, consequently, full of embarrassment and
quite devoid of its usual frank friendliness.

As it happened, this was perhaps the most
unfortunate thing that could have occurred, so far
as it concerned the attitude of Alice Greggory,
for thereby innumerable tiny sparks of suspicion
that had been tormenting the girl for days were
instantly fanned into consuming flames of conviction.

Alice had not been slow to note Arkwright's
prolonged absence from the Annex. Coming as
it did so soon after her most disconcerting talk
with Billy in regard to her own relations with
him, it had filled her with frightened questionings.

If Billy had seen things to make her think of
linking their names together, perhaps Arkwright
himself had heard some such idea put forth
somewhere, and that was why he was staying
away--to show the world that there was no
foundation for such rumors. Perhaps he was
even doing it to show _her_ that--

Even in her thoughts Alice could scarcely
bring herself to finish the sentence. That Arkwright
should ever suspect for a moment that
she cared for him was intolerable. Painfully
conscious as she was that she did care for him,
it was easy to fear that others must be conscious
of it, too. Had she not already proof that Billy
suspected it? Why, then, might not it be quite
possible, even probable, that Arkwright suspected
it, also; and, because he did suspect it, had
decided that it would be just as well, perhaps, if
he did not call so often.

In spite of Alice's angry insistence to herself
that, after all, this could not be the case--
that the man _knew_ she understood he still loved
Billy--she could not help fearing, in the face
of Arkwright's unusual absence, that it might
yet be true. When, therefore, he finally did
appear, only to become at once obviously embarrassed
in her presence, her fears instantly became
convictions. It was true, then. The man
did believe she cared for him, and he had been
trying to teach her--to save her.

To teach her! To save her, indeed! Very
well, he should see! And forthwith, from that
moment, Alice Greggory's chief reason for living
became to prove to Mr. M. J. Arkwright that
he needed not to teach her, to save her, nor yet
to sympathize with her.

``How do you do?'' she greeted him, with a
particularly bright smile. ``I'm sure I _hope_ you
are well, such a beautiful day as this.''

``Oh, yes, I'm well, I suppose. Still, I have
felt better in my life,'' smiled Arkwright, with
some constraint.

``Oh, I'm sorry,'' murmured the girl, striving
so hard to speak with impersonal unconcern that
she did not notice the inaptness of her reply.

``Eh? Sorry I've felt better, are you?''
retorted Arkwright, with nervous humor. Then,
because he was embarrassed, he said the one
thing he had meant not to say: ``Don't you think
I'm quite a stranger? It's been some time since
I've been here.''

Alice, smarting under the sting of what she
judged to be the only possible cause for his
embarrassment, leaped to this new opportunity to
show her lack of interest.

``Oh, has it?'' she murmured carelessly.
``Well, I don't know but it has, now that I come
to think of it.''

Arkwright frowned gloomily. A week ago he
would have tossed back a laughingly aggrieved
remark as to her unflattering indifference to his
presence. Now he was in no mood for such
joking. It was too serious a matter with him.

``You've been busy, no doubt, with--other
matters,'' he presumed forlornly, thinking of

``Yes, I have been busy,'' assented the girl.
``One is always happier, I think, to be busy.
Not that I meant that I needed the work to _be_
happy,'' she added hastily, in a panic lest he
think she had a consuming sorrow to kill.

``No, of course not,'' he murmured abstractedly,
rising to his feet and crossing the room to
the piano. Then, with an elaborate air of trying
to appear very natural, he asked jovially:
``Anything new to play to me?''

Alice arose at once.

``Yes. I have a little nocturne that I was
playing to Mr. Calderwell last night.''

``Oh, to Calderwell!'' Arkwright had stiffened

``Yes. _He_ didn't like it. I'll play it to you
and see what you say,'' she smiled, seating herself
at the piano.

``Well, if he had liked it, it's safe to say I
shouldn't,'' shrugged Arkwright.

``Nonsense!'' laughed the girl, beginning to
appear more like her natural self. ``I should
think you were Mr. Cyril Henshaw! Mr. Calderwell
_is_ partial to ragtime, I'll admit. But there
are some good things he likes.''

``There are, indeed, _some_ good things he likes,''
returned Arkwright, with grim emphasis, his
somber eyes fixed on what he believed to be the
one especial object of Calderwell's affections at
the moment.

Alice, unaware both of the melancholy gaze
bent upon herself and of the cause thereof,
laughed again merrily.

``Poor Mr. Calderwell,'' she cried, as she let her
fingers slide into soft, introductory chords. ``He
isn't to blame for not liking what he calls our lost
spirits that wail. It's just the way he's made.''

Arkwright vouchsafed no reply. With an
abrupt gesture he turned and began to pace the
room moodily. At the piano Alice slipped from
the chords into the nocturne. She played it
straight through, then, with a charm and skill
that brought Arkwright's feet to a pause before
it was half finished.

``By George, that's great!'' he breathed, when
the last tone had quivered into silence.

``Yes, isn't it--beautiful?'' she murmured.

The room was very quiet, and in semi-darkness.
The last rays of a late June sunset had been filling
the room with golden light, but it was gone now.
Even at the piano by the window, Alice had barely
been able to see clearly enough to read the notes
of her nocturne.

To Arkwright the air still trembled with the
exquisite melody that had but just left her fingers.
A quick fire came to his eyes. He forgot everything
but that it was Alice there in the half-light
by the window--Alice, whom he loved. With a
low cry he took a swift step toward her.


Instantly the girl was on her feet. But it was
not toward him that she turned. It was away--
resolutely, and with a haste that was strangely
like terror.

Alice, too, had forgotten, for just a moment.
She had let herself drift into a dream world where
there was nothing but the music she was playing
and the man she loved. Then the music had
stopped, and the man had spoken her name.

Alice remembered then. She remembered Billy,
whom this man loved. She remembered the long
days just passed when this man had stayed away,
presumably to teach _her_--to save _her_. And
now, at the sound of his voice speaking her name,
she had almost bared her heart to him.

No wonder that Alice, with a haste that looked
like terror, crossed the floor and flooded the room
with light.

``Dear me!'' she shivered, carefully avoiding
Arkwright's eyes. ``If Mr. Calderwell were here
now he'd have some excuse to talk about our lost
spirits that wail. That _is_ a creepy piece of music
when you play it in the dark!'' And, for fear
that he should suspect how her heart was aching,
she gave a particularly brilliant and joyous smile.

Once again at the mention of Calderwell's name
Arkwright stiffened perceptibly. The fire left
his eyes. For a moment he did not speak; then,
gravely, he said:

``Calderwell? Yes, perhaps he would; and--
you ought to be a judge, I should think. You see
him quite frequently, don't you?''

``Why, yes, of course. He often comes out
here, you know.''

``Yes; I had heard that he did--since _you_

His meaning was unmistakable. Alice looked
up quickly. A prompt denial of his implication
was on her lips when the thought came to her
that perhaps just here lay a sure way to prove to
this man before her that there was, indeed, no
need for him to teach her, to save her, or yet to
sympathize with her. She could not affirm, of
course; but she need not deny--yet.

``Nonsense!'' she laughed lightly, pleased that
she could feel what she hoped would pass for a
telltale color burning her cheeks. ``Come, let
us try some duets,'' she proposed, leading the
way to the piano. And Arkwright, interpreting
the apparently embarrassed change of subject
exactly as she had hoped that he would interpret
it, followed her, sick at heart.

`` `O wert thou in the cauld blast,' '' sang
Arkwright's lips a few moments later.

``I can't tell her now--when I _know_ she cares
for Calderwell,'' gloomily ran his thoughts, the
while. ``It would do no possible good, and would
only make her unhappy to grieve me.''

`` `O wert thou in the cauld blast,' '' chimed
in Alice's alto, low and sweet.

``I reckon now he won't be staying away from
here any more just to _save_ me!'' ran Alice's
thoughts, palpitatingly triumphant.



Arkwright did not call to see Alice Greggory
for some days. He did not want to see Alice now.
He told himself wearily that she could not help
him fight this tiger skin that lay across his path,
The very fact of her presence by his side would,
indeed, incapacitate himself for fighting. So he
deliberately stayed away from the Annex until
the day before he sailed for Germany. Then he
went out to say good-by.

Chagrined as he was at what he termed his
imbecile stupidity in not knowing his own heart all
these past months, and convinced, as he also was,
that Alice and Calderwell cared for each other,
he could see no way for him but to play the part
of a man of kindliness and honor, leaving a clear
field for his preferred rival, and bringing no
shadow of regret to mar the happiness of the girl
he loved.

As for being his old easy, frank self on this last
call, however, that was impossible; so Alice found
plenty of fuel for her still burning fires of
suspicion--fires which had, indeed, blazed up anew
at this second long period of absence on the part
of Arkwright. Naturally, therefore, the call was
anything but a joy and comfort to either one.
Arkwright was nervous, gloomy, and abnormally
gay by turns. Alice was nervous and abnormally
gay all the time. Then they said good-by and
Arkwright went away. He sailed the next day,
and Alice settled down to the summer of study
and hard work she had laid out for herself.

On the tenth of September Billy came home.
She was brown, plump-cheeked, and smiling. She
declared that she had had a perfectly beautiful
time, and that there couldn't be anything in the
world nicer than the trip she and Bertram had
taken--just they two together. In answer to
Aunt Hannah's solicitous inquiries, she asserted
that she was all well and rested now. But there
was a vaguely troubled questioning in her eyes
that Aunt Hannah did not quite like. Aunt
Hannah, however, said nothing even to Billy
herself about this.

One of the first friends Billy saw after her return
was Hugh Calderwell. As it happened Bertram
was out when he came, so Billy had the first half-
hour of the call to herself. She was not sorry for
this, as it gave her a chance to question Calderwell
a little concerning Alice Greggory--something
she had long ago determined to do at the
first opportunity.

``Now tell me everything--everything about
everybody,'' she began diplomatically, settling
herself comfortably for a good visit.

``Thank you, I'm well, and have had a
passably agreeable summer, barring the heat, sundry
persistent mosquitoes, several grievous disappointments,
and a felon on my thumb,'' he began, with
shameless imperturbability. ``I have been to
Revere once, to the circus once, to Nantasket
three times, and to Keith's and the `movies' ten
times, perhaps--to be accurate. I have also--
But perhaps there was some one else you desired
to inquire for,'' he broke off, turning upon
his hostess a bland but unsmiling countenance.

``Oh, no, how could there be?'' twinkled Billy.
``Really, Hugh, I always knew you had a pretty
good opinion of yourself, but I didn't credit you
with thinking you were _everybody_. Go on. I'm
so interested!''

Hugh chuckled softly; but there was a plaintive
tone in his voice as he answered.

``Thanks, no. I've rather lost my interest
now. Lack of appreciation always did discourage
me. We'll talk of something else, please. You
enjoyed your trip?''

``Very much. It just couldn't have been

``You were lucky. The heat here has been
something fierce!''

``What made you stay?''

``Reasons too numerous, and one too heart-
breaking, to mention. Besides, you forget,'' with
dignity. ``There is my profession. I have joined
the workers of the world now, you know.''

``Oh, fudge, Hugh!'' laughed Billy. ``You
know very well you're as likely as not to start
for the ends of the earth to-morrow morning!''

Hugh drew himself up.

``I don't seem to succeed in making people
understand that I'm serious,'' he began aggrievedly.
``I--'' With an expressive flourish
of his hands he relaxed suddenly, and fell back
in his chair. A slow smile came to his lips.
``Well, Billy, I'll give up. You've hit it,'' he
confessed. ``I _have_ thought seriously of starting to-
morrow morning for _half-way_ to the ends of the


``Well, I have. Even this call was to be a
good-by--if I went.''

``Oh, Hugh! But I really thought--in spite
of my teasing--that you had settled down, this

``Yes, so did I,'' sighed the man, a little soberly.
``But I guess it's no use, Billy. Oh, I'm coming
back, of course, and link arms again with their
worthy Highnesses, John Doe and Richard Roe;
but just now I've got a restless fit on me. I want
to see the wheels go 'round. Of course, if I had
my bread and butter and cigars to earn, 'twould
be different. But I haven't, and I know I haven't;
and I suspect that's where the trouble lies. If it
wasn't for those natal silver spoons of mine that
Bertram is always talking about, things might be
different. But the spoons are there, and always
have been; and I know they're all ready to dish
out mountains to climb and lakes to paddle in,
any time I've a mind to say the word. So--I
just say the word. That's all.''

``And you've said it now?''

``Yes, I think so; for a while.''

``And--those reasons that _have_ kept you here
all summer,'' ventured Billy, ``they aren't in--
er--commission any longer?''


Billy hesitated, regarding her companion
meditatively. Then, with the feeling that she had
followed a blind alley to its termination, she
retreated and made a fresh start.

``Well, you haven't yet told me everything
about everybody, you know,'' she hinted
smilingly. ``You might begin that--I mean the
less important everybodies, of course, now that
I've heard about you.''


``Oh, Aunt Hannah, and the Greggorys, and
Cyril and Marie, and the twins, and Mr. Arkwright,
and all the rest.''

``But you've had letters, surely.''

``Yes, I've had letters from some of them, and
I've seen most of them since I came back. It's
just that I wanted to know _your_ viewpoint of
what's happened through the summer.''

``Very well. Aunt Hannah is as dear as ever,
wears just as many shawls, and still keeps her
clock striking twelve when it's half-past eleven.
Mrs. Greggory is just as sweet as ever--and a
little more frail, I fear,--bless her heart! Mr.
Arkwright is still abroad, as I presume you know.
I hear he is doing great stunts over there, and
will sing in Berlin and Paris this winter. I'm
thinking of going across from Panama later. If
I do I shall look him up. Mr. and Mrs. Cyril
are as well as could be expected when you realize
that they haven't yet settled on a pair of names
for the twins.''

``I know it--and the poor little things three
months old, too! I think it's a shame. You've
heard the reason, I suppose. Cyril declares that
naming babies is one of the most serious and
delicate operations in the world, and that, for his
part, he thinks people ought to select their own
names when they've arrived at years of discretion.
He wants to wait till the twins are eighteen,
and then make each of them a birthday present
of the name of their own choosing.''

``Well, if that isn't the limit!'' laughed
Calderwell. ``I'd heard some such thing before, but
I hadn't supposed it was really so.''

``Well, it is. He says he knows more tomboys
and enormous fat women named `Grace' and
`Lily,' and sweet little mouse-like ladies staggering
along under a sonorous `Jerusha Theodosia'
or `Zenobia Jane'; and that if he should name
the boys `Franz' and `Felix' after Schubert
and Mendelssohn as Marie wants to, they'd as
likely as not turn out to be men who hated the
sound of music and doted on stocks and dry

``Humph!'' grunted Calderwell. ``I saw Cyril
last week, and he said he hadn't named the twins
yet, but he didn't tell me why. I offered him
two perfectly good names myself, but he didn't
seem interested.''

``What were they?''

``Eldad and Bildad.''

``Hugh!'' protested Billy.

``Well, why not?'' bridled the man. ``I'm
sure those are new and unique, and really musical,
too--'way ahead of your Franz and Felix.''

``But those aren't really names!''

``Indeed they are.''

``Where did you get them?''

``Off our family tree, though they're Bible
names, Belle says. Perhaps you didn't know, but
Sister Belle has been making the dirt fly quite
lively of late around that family tree of ours, and
she wrote me some of her discoveries. It seems
two of the roots, or branches--say, are ancestors
roots, or branches?--were called Eldad and
Bildad. Now I thought those names were good
enough to pass along, but, as I said before, Cyril
wasn't interested.''

``I should say not,'' laughed Billy. ``But,
honestly, Hugh, it's really serious. Marie wants
them named _something_, but she doesn't say much
to Cyril. Marie wouldn't really breathe, you
know, if she thought Cyril disapproved of breathing.
And in this case Cyril does not hesitate to
declare that the boys shall name themselves.''

``What a situation!'' laughed Calderwell.

``Isn't it? But, do you know, I can
sympathize with it, in a way, for I've always mourned
so over _my_ name. `Billy' was always such a
trial to me! Poor Uncle William wasn't the only
one that prepared guns and fishing rods to entertain
the expected boy. I don't know, though,
I'm afraid if I'd been allowed to select my name
I should have been a `Helen Clarabella' all my
days, for that was the name I gave all my dolls,
with `first,' `second,' `third,' and so on, added
to them for distinction. Evidently I thought that
`Helen Clarabella' was the most feminine
appellation possible, and the most foreign to the
despised `Billy.' So you see I can sympathize
with Cyril to a certain extent.''

``But they must call the little chaps _something_,
now,'' argued Hugh.

Billy gave a sudden merry laugh.

``They do,'' she gurgled, ``and that's the funniest
part of it. Oh, Cyril doesn't. He always calls
them impersonally `they' or `it.' He doesn't
see much of them anyway, now, I understand.
Marie was horrified when she realized how the
nurses had been using his den as a nursery annex
and she changed all that instanter, when she took
charge of things again. The twins stay in the
nursery now, I'm told. But about the names--
the nurses, it seems, have got into the way of
calling them `Dot' and `Dimple.' One has a
dimple in his cheek, and the other is a little smaller
of the two. Marie is no end distressed, particularly
as she finds that she herself calls them that;
and she says the idea of boys being `Dot' and

``I should say so,'' laughed Calderwell. ``Not
I regard that as worse than my `Eldad' and
`Bildad.' ''

``I know it, and Alice says-- By the way,
you haven't mentioned Alice, but I suppose you
see her occasionally.''

Billy paused in evident expectation of a reply.
Billy was, in fact, quite pluming herself on the
adroit casualness with which she had introduced
the subject nearest her heart.

Calderwell raised his eyebrows.

``Oh, yes, I see her.''

``But you hadn't mentioned her.''

There was the briefest of pauses; then with a
half-quizzical dejection, there came the remark:

``You seem to forget. I told you that I stayed
here this summer for reasons too numerous, and
one too heart-breaking, to mention. She was
the _one_.''

``You mean--''

``Yes. The usual thing. She turned me down.
Oh, I haven't asked her yet as many times as I
did you, but--''


Hugh tossed her a grim smile and went on

``I'm older now, of course, and know more,
perhaps. Besides, the finality of her remarks was
not to be mistaken.''

Billy, in spite of her sympathy for Calderwell,
was conscious of a throb of relief that at least one
stumbling-block was removed from Arkwright's
possible pathway to Alice's heart.

``Did she give any special reason?'' hazarded
Billy, a shade too anxiously.

``Oh, yes. She said she wasn't going to marry
anybody--only her music.''

``Nonsense!'' ejaculated Billy, falling back in
her chair a little.

``Yes, I said that, too,'' gloomed the man;
``but it didn't do any good. You see, I had
known another girl who'd said the same thing
once.'' (He did not look up, but a vivid red
flamed suddenly into Billy's cheeks.) ``And she
--when the right one came--forgot all about
the music, and married the man. So I naturally
suspected that Alice would do the same thing.
In fact, I said so to her. I was bold enough to
even call the man by name--I hadn't been
jealous of Arkwright for nothing, you see--but
she denied it, and flew into such an indignant
allegation that there wasn't a word of truth in it,
that I had to sue for pardon before I got
anything like peace.''

``Oh-h!'' said Billy, in a disappointed voice,
falling quite back in her chair this time.

``And so that's why I'm wanting especially
just now to see the wheels go 'round,'' smiled
Calderwell, a little wistfully. ``Oh, I shall get
over it, I suppose. It isn't the first time, I'll
own--but some day I take it there will be a last
time. Enough of this, however! You haven't
told me a thing about yourself. How about it?
When I come back, are you going to give me a
dinner cooked by your own fair hands? Going
to still play Bridget?''

Billy laughed and shook her head.

``No; far from it. Eliza has come back, and
her cousin from Vermont is coming as second girl
to help her. But I _could_ cook a dinner for you if
I had to now, sir, and it wouldn't be potato-mush
and cold lamb,'' she bragged shamelessly, as there
sounded Bertram's peculiar ring, and the click of
his key in the lock.

It was the next afternoon that Billy called on
Marie. From Marie's, Billy went to the Annex,
which was very near Cyril's new house; and there,
in Aunt Hannah's room, she had what she told
Bertram afterwards was a perfectly lovely visit.

Aunt Hannah, too, enjoyed the visit very much,
though yet there was one thing that disturbed
her--the vaguely troubled look in Billy's eyes,
which to-day was more apparent than ever. Not
until just before Billy went home did something
occur to give Aunt Hannah a possible clue as to
what was the meaning of it. That something
was a question from Billy.

``Aunt Hannah, why don't I feel like Marie
did? why don't I feel like everybody does in
books and stories? Marie went around with such
a detached, heavenly, absorbed look in her eyes,
before the twins came to her home. But I don't.
I don't find anything like that in my face, when I
look in the glass. And I don't feel detached and
absorbed and heavenly. I'm happy, of course;
but I can't help thinking of the dear, dear times
Bertram and I have together, just we two, and I
can't seem to imagine it at all with a third person

``Billy! _Third person_, indeed!''

``There! I knew 'twould shock you,'' mourned
Billy. It shocks me. I _want_ to feel detached
and heavenly and absorbed.''

``But Billy, dear, think of it--calling your
own baby a third person!''

Billy sighed despairingly.

``Yes, I know. And I suppose I might as well
own up to the rest of it too. I--I'm actually afraid
of babies, Aunt Hannah! Well, I am,'' she
reiterated, in answer to Aunt Hannah's gasp of
disapproval. ``I'm not used to them at all. I never
had any little brothers and sisters, and I don't
know how to treat babies. I--I'm always afraid
they'll break, or something. I'm just as afraid
of the twins as I can be. How Marie can handle
them, and toss them about as she does, I don't

``Toss them about, indeed!''

``Well, it looks that way to me,'' sighed Billy.
``Anyhow, I know I can never get to handle them
like that--and that's no way to feel! And I'm
ashamed of myself because I _can't_ be detached
and heavenly and absorbed,'' she added, rising
to go. ``Everybody always is, it seems, but just

``Fiddlededee, my dear!'' scoffed Aunt Hannah,
patting Billy's downcast face. ``Wait till a
year from now, and we'll see about that third-
person bugaboo you're worrying about. _I'm_
not worrying now; so you'd better not!''



On the day Cyril Henshaw's twins were six
months old, a momentous occurrence marked the
date with a flaming red letter of remembrance;
and it all began with a baby's smile.

Cyril, in quest of his wife at about ten o'clock
that morning, and not finding her, pursued his
search even to the nursery--a room he very
seldom entered. Cyril did not like to go into the
nursery. He felt ill at ease, and as if he were
away from home--and Cyril was known to abhor
being away from home since he was married.
Now that Marie had taken over the reins of
government again, he had been obliged to see very
little of those strange women and babies. Not
but that he liked the babies, of course. They were
his sons, and he was proud of them. They should
have every advantage that college, special training,
and travel could give them. He quite
anticipated what they would be to him--when
they really knew anything. But, of course, _now_,
when they could do nothing but cry and wave
their absurd little fists, and wobble their heads
in so fearsome a manner, as if they simply did
not know the meaning of the word backbone--
and, for that matter, of course they didn't--
why, he could not be expected to be anything
but relieved when he had his den to himself again,
with a reasonable chance of finding his manuscript
as he had left it, and not cut up into a ridiculous
string of paper dolls holding hands, as he had
once found it, after a visit from a woman with a
small girl.

Since Marie had been at the helm, however,
he had not been troubled in such a way. He had,
indeed, known almost his old customary peace
and freedom from interruption, with only an
occasional flitting across his path of the strange
women and babies--though he had realized, of
course, that they were in the house, especially in
the nursery. For that reason, therefore, he always
avoided the nursery when possible. But to-day
he wanted his wife, and his wife was not to be
found anywhere else in the house. So, reluctantly,
he turned his steps toward the nursery, and, with
a frown, knocked and pushed open the door.

``Is Mrs. Henshaw here?'' he demanded, not
over gently.

Absolute silence greeted his question. The man
saw then that there was no one in the room save
a baby sitting on a mat in the middle of the floor,
barricaded on all sides with pillows.

With a deeper frown the man turned to go, when
a gleeful ``Ah--goo!'' halted his steps midway.
He wheeled sharply.

``Er--eh?'' he queried, uncertainly eyeing
his small son on the floor.

``Ah--goo!'' observed the infant (who had
been very lonesome), with greater emphasis; and
this time he sent into his father's eyes the most
bewitching of smiles.

``Well, by George!'' murmured the man,
weakly, a dawning amazement driving the frown
from his face.

``Spgggh--oo--wah!'' gurgled the boy, holding
out two tiny fists.

A slow smile came to the man's face.

``Well, I'll--be--darned,'' he muttered half-
shamefacedly, wholly delightedly. ``If the rascal
doesn't act as if he--knew me!''

``Ah--goo--spggghh!'' grinned the infant,
toothlessly, but entrancingly.

With almost a stealthy touch Cyril closed the
door back of him, and advanced a little dubiously
toward his son. His countenance carried a mixture
of guilt, curiosity, and dogged determination
so ludicrous that it was a pity none but baby eyes
could see it. As if to meet more nearly on a level
this baffling new acquaintance, Cyril got to his
knees--somewhat stiffly, it must be confessed
--and faced his son.

``Goo--eee--ooo--yah!'' crowed the baby
now, thrashing legs and arms about in a transport
of joy at the acquisition of this new playmate.

``Well, well, young man, you--you don't say
so!'' stammered the growingly-proud father,
thrusting a plainly timid and unaccustomed finger
toward his offspring. ``So you do know me,
eh? Well, who am I?''

``Da--da!'' gurgled the boy, triumphantly
clutching the outstretched finger, and holding on
with a tenacity that brought a gleeful chuckle to
the lips of the man.

``Jove! but aren't you the strong little beggar,
though! Needn't tell me you don't know a good
thing when you see it! So I'm `da-da,' am I?''
he went on, unhesitatingly accepting as the pure
gold of knowledge the shameless imitation vocabulary
his son was foisting upon him. ``Well, I
expect I am, and--''

``Oh, Cyril!'' The door had opened, and
Marie was in the room. If she gave a start of
surprise at her husband's unaccustomed attitude,
she quickly controlled herself. ``Julia said you
wanted me. I must have been going down the
back stairs when you came up the front, and--''

``Please, Mrs. Henshaw, is it Dot you have in
here, or Dimple?'' asked a new voice, as the second
nurse entered by another door.

Before Mrs. Henshaw could answer, Cyril, who
had got to his feet, turned sharply.

``Is it--_who_?'' he demanded.

``Oh! Oh, Mr. Henshaw,'' stammered the girl.
``I beg your pardon. I didn't know you were here.
It was only that I wanted to know which baby it
was. We thought we had Dot with us, until--''

``Dot! Dimple!'' exploded the man. ``Do
you mean to say you have given my _sons_ the
ridiculous names of `_Dot_' and `_Dimple_'?''

``Why, no--yes--well, that is--we had to
call them something,'' faltered the nurse, as with
a despairing glance at her mistress, she plunged
through the doorway.

Cyril turned to his wife.

``Marie, what is the meaning of this?'' he demanded.

``Why, Cyril, dear, don't--don't get so
wrought up,'' she begged. It's only as Mary said,
we _had_ to call them something, and--''

``Wrought up, indeed!'' interrupted Cyril,
savagely. ``Who wouldn't be? `Dot' and `Dimple'!
Great Scott! One would think those boys
were a couple of kittens or puppies; that they
didn't know anything--didn't have any brains!
But they have--if the other is anything like this
one, at least,'' he declared, pointing to his son on
the floor, who, at this opportune moment joined
in the conversation to the extent of an appropriate

``There, hear that, will you?'' triumphed the
father. ``What did I tell you? That's the way
he's been going on ever since I came into the
room; The little rascal knows me--so soon!''

Marie clapped her fingers to her lips and turned
her back suddenly, with a spasmodic little cough;
but her husband, if he noticed the interruption,
paid no heed.

``Dot and Dimple, indeed!'' he went on
wrathfully. ``That settles it. We'll name those boys
to-day, Marie, _to-day!_ Not once again will I let
the sun go down on a Dot and a Dimple under
my roof.''

Marie turned with a quick little cry of happiness.

``Oh, Cyril, I'm so glad! I've so wanted to
have them named, you know! And shall we call
them Franz and Felix, as we'd talked?''

``Franz, Felix, John, James, Paul, Charles--
anything, so it's sane and sensible! I'd even
adopt Calderwell's absurd Bildad and--er--
Tomdad, or whatever it was, rather than have
those poor little chaps insulted a day longer with
a `Dot' and a `Dimple.' Great Scott!'' And,
entirely forgetting what he had come to the
nursery for, Cyril strode from the room.

``Ah--goo--spggggh!'' commented baby
from the middle of the floor.

It was on a very windy March day that Bertram
Henshaw's son, Bertram, Jr., arrived at
the Strata. Billy went so far into the Valley of
the Shadow of Death for her baby that it was
some days before she realized in all its importance
the presence of the new member of her
family. Even when the days had become weeks,
and Bertram, Jr., was a month and a half old,
the extreme lassitude and weariness of his young
mother was a source of ever-growing anxiety to
her family and friends. Billy was so unlike herself,
they all said.

``If something could only rouse her,''
suggested the Henshaw's old family physician one
day. ``A certain sort of mental shock--if not
too severe--would do the deed, I think, and
with no injury--only benefit. Her physical
condition is in just the state that needs a stimulus
to stir it into new life and vigor.''

As it happened, this was said on a certain
Monday. Two days later Bertram's sister Kate, on
her way with her husband to Mr. Hartwell's old
home in Vermont, stopped over in Boston for a
two days' visit. She made her headquarters at
Cyril's home, but very naturally she went, without
much delay, to pay her respects to Bertram, Jr.

``Mr. Hartwell's brother isn't well,'' she
explained to Billy, after the greetings were over.
``You know he's the only one left there, since
Mother and Father Hartwell came West. We
shall go right on up to Vermont in a couple of
days, but we just had to stay over long enough
to see the baby; and we hadn't ever seen the
twins, either, you know. By the way, how perfectly
ridiculous Cyril is over those boys!''

``Is he?'' smiled Billy, faintly.

``Yes. One would think there were never any
babies born before, to hear him talk. He thinks
they're the most wonderful things in the world--
and they are cunning little fellows, I'll admit.
But Cyril thinks they _know_ so much,'' went on
Kate, laughingly. ``He's always bragging of
something one or the other of them has done.
Think of it--_Cyril!_ Marie says it all started
from the time last January when he discovered
the nurses had been calling them Dot and Dimple.''

``Yes, I know,'' smiled Billy again, faintly,
lifting a thin, white, very un-Billy-like hand to
her head.

Kate frowned, and regarded her sister-in-law

``Mercy! how you look, Billy!'' she exclaimed,
with cheerful tactlessness. ``They said you did,
but, I declare, you look worse than I thought.''

Billy's pale face reddened perceptibly.

``Nonsense! It's just that I'm so--so tired,''
she insisted. ``I shall be all right soon. How
did you leave the children?''

``Well, and happy--'specially little Kate,
because mother was going away. Kate is mistress,
you know, when I'm gone, and she takes
herself very seriously.''

``Mistress! A little thing like her! Why, she
can't be more than ten or eleven,'' murmured

``She isn't. She was ten last month. But
you'd think she was forty, the airs she gives
herself, sometimes. Oh, of course there's Nora, and
the cook, and Miss Winton, the governess, there
to really manage things, and Mother Hartwell
is just around the corner; but little Kate _thinks_
she's managing, so she's happy.''

Billy suppressed a smile. Billy was thinking
that little Kate came naturally by at least one
of her traits.

``Really, that child is impossible, sometimes,''
resumed Mrs. Hartwell, with a sigh. ``You
know the absurd things she was always saying
two or three years ago, when we came on to
Cyril's wedding.''

``Yes, I remember.''

``Well, I thought she would get over it. But
she doesn't. She's worse, if anything; and sometimes
her insight, or intuition, or whatever you
may call it, is positively uncanny. I never know
what she's going to remark next, when I take her
anywhere; but it's safe to say, whatever it is, it'll
be unexpected and _usually_ embarrassing to somebody.
And--is that the baby?'' broke off Mrs.
Hartwell, as a cooing laugh and a woman's voice
came from the next room.

``Yes. The nurse has just brought him in, I
think,'' said Billy.

``Then I'll go right now and see him,''
rejoined Kate, rising to her feet and hurrying into
the next room.

Left alone, Billy lay back wearily in her
reclining-chair. She wondered why Kate always
tired her so. She wished she had had on her blue
kimono, then perhaps Kate would not have
thought she looked so badly. Blue was always
more becoming to her than--

Billy turned her head suddenly. From the
next room had come Kate's clear-cut, decisive

``Oh, no, I don't think he looks a bit like his
father. That little snubby nose was never the
Henshaw nose.''

Billy drew in her breath sharply, and pulled
herself half erect in her chair. From the next
room came Kate's voice again, after a low murmur
from the nurse.

``Oh, but he isn't, I tell you. He isn't one bit
of a Henshaw baby! The Henshaw babies are
always _pretty_ ones. They have more hair, and
they look--well, different.''

Billy gave a low cry, and struggled to her feet.

``Oh, no,'' spoke up Kate, in answer to
another indistinct something from the nurse. ``I
don't think he's near as pretty as the twins. Of
course the twins are a good deal older, but they
have such a _bright_ look,--and they did have,
from the very first. I saw it in their tiniest baby
pictures. But this baby--''

``_This_ baby is _mine_, please,'' cut in a
tremulous, but resolute voice; and Mrs. Hartwell
turned to confront Bertram, Jr.'s mother,
manifestly weak and trembling, but no less
manifestly blazing-eyed and determined.

``Why, Billy!'' expostulated Mrs. Hartwell,
as Billy stumbled forward and snatched the child
into her arms.

``Perhaps he doesn't look like the Henshaw
babies. Perhaps he isn't as pretty as the twins.
Perhaps he hasn't much hair, and does have a
snub nose. He's my baby just the same, and I
shall not stay calmly by and see him abused!
Besides, _I_ think he's prettier than the twins ever
thought of being; and he's got all the hair I want
him to have, and his nose is just exactly what a
baby's nose ought to be!'' And, with a superb
gesture, Billy turned and bore the baby away.



When the doctor heard from the nurse of Mrs.
Hartwell's visit and what had come of it, he only
gave a discreet smile, as befitted himself and the
occasion; but to his wife privately, that night,
the doctor said, when he had finished telling the

``And I couldn't have prescribed a better pill
if I'd tried!''

``_Pill_--Mrs. Hartwell! Oh, Harold,'' reproved
the doctor's wife, mildly.

But the doctor only chuckled the more, and

``You wait and see.''

If Billy's friends were worried before because
of her lassitude and lack of ambition, they were
almost as worried now over her amazing alertness
and insistent activity. Day by day, almost hour
by hour, she seemed to gain in strength; and every
bit she acquired she promptly tested almost to
the breaking point, so plainly eager was she to
be well and strong. And always, from morning
until night, and again from night until morning,
the pivot of her existence, around which swung
all thoughts, words, actions, and plans, was the
sturdy little plump-cheeked, firm-fleshed atom
of humanity known as Bertram, Jr. Even Aunt
Hannah remonstrated with her at last.

``But, Billy, dear,'' she exclaimed, ``one would
almost get the idea that you thought there wasn't
a thing in the world but that baby!''

Billy laughed.

``Well, do you know, sometimes I 'most think
there isn't,'' she retorted unblushingly.

``Billy!'' protested Aunt Hannah; then, a
little severely, she demanded: ``And who was it
that just last September was calling this same
only-object-in-the-world a third person in your

``Third person, indeed! Aunt Hannah, did I?
Did I really say such a dreadful thing as that?
But I didn't know, then, of course. I couldn't
know how perfectly wonderful a baby is, especially
such a baby as Bertram, Jr., is. Why, Aunt Hannah,
that little thing knows a whole lot already.
He's known me for weeks; I know he has. And
ages and ages ago he began to give me little smiles
when he saw me. They were smiles--real smiles!
Oh, yes, I know nurse said they weren't smiles at
the first,'' admitted Billy, in answer to Aunt
Hannah's doubting expression. ``I know nurse said
it was only wind on his stomach. Think of it--
wind on his stomach! Just as if I didn't know the
difference between my own baby's smile and wind
on his stomach! And you don't know how soon
he began to follow my moving finger with his

``Yes, I tried that one day, I remember,''
observed Aunt Hannah demurely. ``I moved my
finger. He looked at the ceiling--_fixedly_.''

``Well, probably he _wanted_ to look at the
ceiling, then,'' defended the young mother, promptly.
``I'm sure I wouldn't give a snap for a baby if he
didn't sometimes have a mind of his own, and
exercise it!''

``Oh, Billy, Billy,'' laughed Aunt Hannah,
with a shake of her head as Billy turned away,
chin uptilted.

By the time Bertram, Jr., was three months
old, Billy was unmistakably her old happy, merry
self, strong and well. Affairs at the Strata once
more were moving as by clockwork--only this
time it was a baby's hand that set the clock, and
that wound it, too.

Billy told her husband very earnestly that now
they had entered upon a period of Enormous
Responsibility. The Life, Character, and Destiny
of a Human Soul was intrusted to their care, and
they must be Wise, Faithful, and Efficient. They
must be at once Proud and Humble at this
their Great Opportunity. They must Observe,
Learn, and Practice. First and foremost in their
eyes must always be this wonderful Important

Bertram laughed at first very heartily at Billy's
instructions, which, he declared, were so bristling
with capitals that he could fairly see them drop
from her lips. Then, when he found how really
very much in earnest she was, and how hurt she
was at his levity, he managed to pull his face into
something like sobriety while she talked to him,
though he did persist in dropping kisses on her
cheeks, her chin, her finger-tips, her hair, and the
little pink lobes of her ears--``just by way of
punctuation'' to her sentences, he said. And he
told her that he wasn't really slighting her lips,
only that they moved so fast he could not catch
them. Whereat Billy pouted, and told him severely
that he was a bad, naughty boy, and that
he did not deserve to be the father of the dearest,
most wonderful baby in the world.

``No, I know I don't,'' beamed Bertram, with
cheerful unrepentance; ``but I am, just the same,''
he finished triumphantly. And this time he contrived
to find his wife's lips.

``Oh, Bertram,'' sighed Billy, despairingly.

``You're an old dear, of course, and one just
can't be cross with you; but you don't, you just
_don't_ realize your Immense Responsibility.''

``Oh, yes, I do,'' maintained Bertram so
seriously that even Billy herself almost believed

In spite of his assertions, however, it must be
confessed that Bertram was much more inclined
to regard the new member of his family as just
his son rather than as an Important Trust; and
there is little doubt that he liked to toss him in
the air and hear his gleeful crows of delight,
without any bother of Observing him at all. As
to the Life and Character and Destiny intrusted
to his care, it is to be feared that Bertram just
plain gloried in his son, poked him in the ribs,
and chuckled him under the chin whenever he
pleased, and gave never so much as a thought to
Character and Destiny. It is to be feared, too,
that he was Proud without being Humble, and
that the only Opportunity he really appreciated
was the chance to show off his wife and baby to
some less fortunate fellow-man.

But not so Billy. Billy joined a Mothers' Club
and entered a class in Child Training with an
elaborate system of Charts, Rules, and Tests.
She subscribed to each new ``Mothers' Helper,''
and the like, that she came across, devouring each
and every one with an eagerness that was
tempered only by a vague uneasiness at finding so
many differences of opinion among Those Who

Undeniably Billy, if not Bertram, was indeed
realizing the Enormous Responsibility, and was
keeping ever before her the Important Trust.

In June Bertram took a cottage at the South
Shore, and by the time the really hot weather arrived
the family were well settled. It was only
an hour away from Boston, and easy of access,
but William said he guessed he would not go; he
would stay in Boston, sleeping at the house, and
getting his meals at the club, until the middle of
July, when he was going down in Maine for his
usual fishing trip, which he had planned to take
a little earlier than usual this year.

``But you'll be so lonesome, Uncle William,''
Billy demurred, ``in this great house all alone!''

``Oh, no, I sha'n't,'' rejoined Uncle William.
``I shall only be sleeping here, you know,'' he
finished. with a slightly peculiar smile.

It was well, perhaps, that Billy did not exactly
realize the significance of that smile, nor the
unconscious emphasis on the word ``sleeping,'' for
it would have troubled her not a little.

William, to tell the truth, was quite anticipating
that sleeping. William's nights had not been
exactly restful since the baby came. His evenings,
too, had not been the peaceful things they
were wont to be.

Some of Billy's Rules and Tests were strenuously
objected to on the part of her small son,
and the young man did not hesitate to show it.
Billy said that it was good for the baby to cry,
that it developed his lungs; but William was very
sure that it was not good for _him_. Certainly,
when the baby did cry, William never could help
hovering near the center of disturbance, and he
always _had_ to remind Billy that it might be a pin,
you know, or some cruel thing that was hurting.
As if he, William, a great strong man, could sit
calmly by and smoke a pipe, or lie in his comfortable
bed and sleep, while that blessed little baby
was crying his heart out like that! Of course, if
one did not _know_ he was crying-- Hence William's
anticipation of those quiet, restful nights
when he could not know it.

Very soon after Billy's arrival at the cottage,
Aunt Hannah and Alice Greggory came down for
a day's visit. Aunt Hannah had been away from
Boston for several weeks, so it was some time
since she had seen the baby.

``My, but hasn't he grown!'' she exclaimed,
picking the baby up and stooping to give him a
snuggling kiss. The next instant she almost
dropped the little fellow, so startling had been
Billy's cry.

``No, no, wait, Aunt Hannah, please,'' Billy
was entreating, hurrying to the little corner
cupboard. In a moment she was back with a small
bottle and a bit of antiseptic cotton. ``We
always sterilize our lips now before we kiss him--
it's so much safer, you know.''

Aunt Hannah sat down limply, the baby still
in her arms.

``Fiddlededee, Billy! What an absurd idea!
What have you got in that bottle?''

``Why, Aunt Hannah, it's just a little simple
listerine,'' bridled Billy, ``and it isn't absurd at
all. It's very sensible. My `Hygienic Guide for
Mothers' says--''

``Well, I suppose I may kiss his hand,'' interposed
Aunt Hannah, just a little curtly, ``without
subjecting myself to a City Hospital treatment!''

Billy laughed shamefacedly, but she still held
her ground.

``No, you can't--nor even his foot. He might
get them in his mouth. Aunt Hannah, why does
a baby think that everything, from his own toes
to his father's watch fob and the plush balls on a
caller's wrist-bag, is made to eat? As if I could
sterilize everything, and keep him from getting
hold of germs somewhere!''

``You'll have to have a germ-proof room for
him,'' laughed Alice Greggory, playfully snapping
her fingers at the baby in Aunt Hannah's

Billy turned eagerly.

``Oh, did you read about that, too?'' she
cried. ``I thought it was _so_ interesting, and I
wondered if I could do it.''

Alice stared frankly.

``You don't mean to say they actually _have_
such things,'' she challenged.

``Well, I read about them in a magazine,''
asserted Billy, ``--how you could have a germ-
proof room. They said it was very simple, too.
Just pasteurize the air, you know, by heating it
to one hundred and ten and one-half degrees
Fahrenheit for seventeen and one-half minutes. I
remember just the figures.''

``Simple, indeed! It sounds so,'' scoffed Aunt
Hannah, with uplifted eyebrows.

``Oh, well, I couldn't do it, of course,'' admitted
Billy, regretfully. ``Bertram never'd stand for
that in the world. He's always rushing in to show
the baby off to every Tom, Dick and Harry and
his wife that comes; and of course if you opened
the nursery door, that would let in those germ
things, and you _couldn't_ very well pasteurize your
callers by heating them to one hundred and ten
and one-half degrees for seventeen and one-half
minutes! I don't see how you could manage such
a room, anyway, unless you had a system of--
of rooms like locks, same as they do for water in

``Oh, my grief and conscience--locks,
indeed!'' almost groaned Aunt Hannah. ``Here,
Alice, will you please take this child--that is, if
you have a germ-proof certificate about you to
show to his mother. I want to take off my bonnet
and gloves.''

``Take him? Of course I'll take him,'' laughed
Alice; ``and right under his mother's nose, too,''
she added, with a playful grimace at Billy. ``And
we'll make pat-a-cakes, and send the little pigs
to market, and have such a beautiful time that
we'll forget there ever was such a thing in the
world as an old germ. Eh, babykins?''

``Babykins'' cooed his unqualified approval
of this plan; but his mother looked troubled.

``That's all right, Alice. You may play with
him,'' she frowned doubtfully; ``but you mustn't
do it long, you know--not over five minutes.''

``Five minutes! Well, I like that, when I've
come all the way from Boston purposely to see
him,'' pouted Alice. ``What's the matter now?
Time for his nap?''

``Oh, no, not for--thirteen minutes,'' replied
Billy, consulting the watch at her belt. ``But
we never play with Baby more than five minutes
at a time. My `Scientific Care of Infants' says
it isn't wise; that with some babies it's positively
dangerous, until after they're six months old. It
makes them nervous, and forces their mind, you
know,'' she explained anxiously. ``So of course
we'd want to be careful. Bertram, Jr., isn't quite
four, yet.''

``Why, yes, of course,'' murmured Alice,
politely, stopping a pat-a-cake before it was half

The infant, as if suspecting that he was being
deprived of his lawful baby rights, began to fret
and whimper.

``Poor itty sing,'' crooned Aunt Hannah, who,
having divested herself of bonnet and gloves,
came hurriedly forward with outstretched hands.
``Do they just 'buse 'em? Come here to your old
auntie, sweetems, and we'll go walkee. I saw a
bow-wow--such a tunnin' ickey wickey bow-
wow on the steps when I came in. Come, we go
see ickey wickey bow-wow?''

``Aunt Hannah, _please!_'' protested Billy, both
hands upraised in horror. ``_Won't_ you say `dog,'
and leave out that dreadful `ickey wickey'?
Of course he can't understand things now, really,
but we never know when he'll begin to, and we
aren't ever going to let him hear baby-talk at all,
if we can help it. And truly, when you come to
think of it, it is absurd to expect a child to talk
sensibly and rationally on the mental diet of
`moo-moos' and `choo-choos' served out to
them. Our Professor of Metaphysics and Ideology
in our Child Study Course says that nothing
is so receptive and plastic as the Mind of a Little
Child, and that it is perfectly appalling how we
fill it with trivial absurdities that haven't even
the virtue of being accurate. So that's why we're
trying to be so careful with Baby. You didn't
mind my speaking, I know, Aunt Hannah.''

``Oh, no, of course not, Billy,'' retorted Aunt
Hannah, a little tartly, and with a touch of sarcasm
most unlike her gentle self. ``I'm sure I
shouldn't wish to fill this infant's plastic mind
with anything so appalling as trivial inaccuracies.
May I be pardoned for suggesting, however,''
she went on as the baby's whimper threatened to
become a lusty wail, ``that this young gentleman
cries as if he were sleepy and hungry?''

``Yes, he is,'' admitted Billy.

``Well, doesn't your system of scientific training
allow him to be given such trivial absurdities
as food and naps?'' inquired the lady, mildly.

``Of course it does, Aunt Hannah,'' retorted
Billy, laughing in spite of herself. ``And it's
almost time now. There are only a few more
minutes to wait.''

``Few more minutes to wait, indeed!'' scorned
Aunt Hannah. ``I suppose the poor little fellow
might cry and cry, and you wouldn't set that
clock ahead by a teeny weeny minute!''

``Certainly not,'' said the young mother,
decisively. ``My `Daily Guide for Mothers' says
that a time for everything and everything in its
time, is the very A B C and whole alphabet of
Right Training. He does everything by the clock,
and to the minute,'' declared Billy, proudly.

Aunt Hannah sniffed, obviously skeptical and
rebellious. Alice Greggory laughed.

``Aunt Hannah looks as if she'd like to bring
down her clock that strikes half an hour ahead,''
she said mischievously; but Aunt Hannah did not
deign to answer this.

``How long do you rock him?'' she demanded
of Billy. ``I suppose I may do that, mayn't I?''

``Mercy, I don't rock him at all, Aunt
Hannah,'' exclaimed Billy.

``Nor sing to him?''

``Certainly not.''

``But you did--before I went away. I
remember that you did.''

``Yes, I know I did,'' admitted Billy, ``and I
had an awful time, too. Some evenings, every
single one of us, even to Uncle William, had to
try before we could get him off to sleep. But that
was before I got my `Efficiency of Mother and
Child,' or my `Scientific Training,' and, oh, lots
of others. You see, I didn't know a thing then,
and I loved to rock him, so I did it--though the
nurse said it wasn't good for him; but I didn't
believe _her_. I've had an awful time changing; but
I've done it. I just put him in his little crib, or
his carriage, and after a while he goes to sleep.
Sometimes, now, he doesn't cry hardly any. I'm
afraid, to-day, though, he will,'' she worried.

``Yes, I'm afraid he will,'' almost screamed
Aunt Hannah, in order to make herself heard
above Bertram, Jr., who, by this time, was voicing
his opinion of matters and things in no uncertain

It was not, after all, so very long before peace
and order reigned; and, in due course, Bertram,
Jr., in his carriage, lay fast asleep. Then, while
Aunt Hannah went to Billy's room for a short
rest, Billy and Alice went out on to the wide
veranda which faced the wonderful expanse of sky
and sea.

``Now tell me of yourself,'' commanded Billy,
almost at once. ``It's been ages since I've heard
or seen a thing of you.''

``There's nothing to tell.''

``Nonsense! But there must be,'' insisted
Billy. ``You know it's months since I've seen
anything of you, hardly.''

``I know. We feel quite neglected at the
Annex,'' said Alice.

``But I don't go anywhere,'' defended Billy.
``I can't. There isn't time.''

``Even to bring us the extra happiness?''
smiled Alice.

A quick change came to Billy's face. Her eyes
glowed deeply.

``No; though I've had so much that ought to
have gone--such loads and loads of extra happiness,
which I couldn't possibly use myself!
Sometimes I'm so happy, Alice, that--that I'm
just frightened. It doesn't seem as if anybody
ought to be so happy.''

``Oh, Billy, dear,'' demurred Alice, her eyes
filling suddenly with tears.

``Well, I've got the Annex. I'm glad I've got
that for the overflow, anyway,'' resumed Billy,
trying to steady her voice. ``I've sent a whole
lot of happiness up there mentally, if I haven't
actually carried it; so I'm sure you must have
got it. Now tell me of yourself.''

``There's nothing to tell,'' insisted Alice, as

``You're working as hard as ever?''


``New pupils?''

``Yes, and some concert engagements--good
ones, for next season. Accompaniments, you

Billy nodded.

``Yes; I've heard of you already twice, lately,
in that line, and very flatteringly, too.''

``Have you? Well, that's good.''

``Hm-m.'' There was a moment's silence,
then, abruptly, Billy changed the subject. ``I
had a letter from Belle Calderwell, yesterday.''
She paused expectantly, but there was no comment.

``You don't seem interested,'' she frowned,
after a minute.

Alice laughed.

``Pardon me, but--I don't know the Lady,
you see. Was it a good letter?''

``You know her brother.''

``Very true.'' Alice's cheeks showed a deeper
color. ``Did she say anything of him?''

``Yes. She said he was coming back to Boston
next winter.''


``Yes. She says that this time he declares he
really _is_ going to settle down to work,'' murmured
Billy, demurely, with a sidelong glance at her
companion. ``She says he's engaged to be married
--one of her friends over there.''

There was no reply. Alice appeared to be
absorbed in watching a tiny white sail far out at sea.

Again Billy was silent. Then, with studied
carelessness, she said:

``Yes, and you know Mr. Arkwright, too. She
told of him.''

``Yes? Well, what of him?'' Alice's voice
was studiedly indifferent.

``Oh, there was quite a lot of him. Belle had
just been to hear him sing, and then her brother
had introduced him to her. She thinks he's perfectly
wonderful, in every way, I should judge.
In fact, she simply raved over him. It seems that
while we've been hearing nothing from him all
winter, he's been winning no end of laurels for
himself in Paris and Berlin. He's been studying,
too, of course, as well as singing; and now he's
got a chance to sing somewhere--create a rle, or
something--Belle said she wasn't quite clear on
the matter herself, but it was a perfectly splendid
chance, and one that was a fine feather in his cap.''

``Then he won't be coming home--that is,
to Boston--at all this winter, probably,'' said
Alice, with a cheerfulness that sounded just a
little forced.

``Not until February. But he is coming then.
He's been engaged for six performances with the
Boston Opera Company--as a star tenor, mind
you! Isn't that splendid?''

``Indeed it is,'' murmured Alice.

``Belle writes that Hugh says he's improved
wonderfully, and that even he can see that his
singing is marvelous. He says Paris is wild over
him; but--for my part, I wish he'd come home
and stay here where he belongs,'' finished Billy,
a bit petulantly.

``Why, why, Billy!'' murmured her friend, a
curiously startled look coming into her eyes.

``Well, I do,'' maintained Billy; then,
recklessly, she added: ``I had such beautiful plans
for him, once, Alice. Oh, if you only could have
cared for him, you'd have made such a splendid

A vivid scarlet flew to Alice's face.

``Nonsense!'' she cried, getting quickly to
her feet and bending over one of the flower boxes
along the veranda railing. ``Mr. Arkwright
never thought of marrying me--and I'm not
going to marry anybody but my music.''

Billy sighed despairingly.

``I know that's what you say now; but if--''
She stopped abruptly. Around the turn of the
veranda had appeared Aunt Hannah, wheeling
Bertram, Jr., still asleep in his carriage.

``I came out the other door,'' she explained
softly. ``And it was so lovely I just had to go
in and get the baby. I thought it would be so
nice for him to finish his nap out here.''

Billy arose with a troubled frown.

``But, Aunt Hannah, he mustn't--he can't
stay out here. I'm sorry, but we'll have to take
him back.''

Aunt Hannah's eyes grew mutinous.

``But I thought the outdoor air was just the
thing for him. I'm sure your scientific hygienic
nonsense says _that!_''

``They do--they did--that is, some of them
do,'' acknowledged Billy, worriedly; ``but they
differ, so! And the one I'm going by now says
that Baby should always sleep in an _even_
temperature--seventy degrees, if possible; and that's
exactly what the room in there was, when I left
him. It's not the same out here, I'm sure. In
fact I looked at the thermometer to see, just
before I came out myself. So, Aunt Hannah, I'm
afraid I'll have to take him back.''

``But you used to have him sleep out of doors
all the time, on that little balcony out of your
room,'' argued Aunt Hannah, still plainly unconvinced.

``Yes, I know I did. I was following the other
man's rules, then. As I said, if only they wouldn't
differ so! Of course I want the best; but it's so
hard to always know the best, and--''

At this very inopportune moment Master Bertram
took occasion to wake up, which brought
even a deeper wrinkle of worry to his fond mother's
forehead; for she said that, according to the
clock, he should have been sleeping exactly ten
and one-half more minutes, and that of course he
couldn't commence the next thing until those ten
and one-half minutes were up, or else his entire
schedule for the day would be shattered. So what
she should do with him for those should-have-
been-sleeping ten minutes and a half, she did not
know. All of which drew from Aunt Hannah
the astounding exclamation of:

``Oh, my grief and conscience, Billy, if you
aren't the--the limit!'' Which, indeed, she
must have been, to have brought circumspect
Aunt Hannah to the point of actually using slang.



The Henshaw family did not return to the
Strata until late in September. Billy said that
the sea air seemed to agree so well with the baby
it would be a pity to change until the weather
became really too cool at the shore to be comfortable.

William came back from his fishing trip in
August, and resumed his old habit of sleeping at the
house and taking his meals at the club. To be
sure, for a week he went back and forth between
the city and the beach house; but it happened
to be a time when Bertram, Jr., was cutting a
tooth, and this so wore upon William's sympathy--
William still could not help insisting
it _might_ be a pin--that he concluded peace lay
only in flight. So he went back to the Strata.

Bertram had stayed at the cottage all summer,
painting industriously. Heretofore he had taken
more of a vacation through the summer months,
but this year there seemed to be nothing for him
to do but to paint. He did not like to go away
on a trip and leave Billy, and she declared she
could not take the baby nor leave him, and that
she did not need any trip, anyway.

``All right, then, we'll just stay at the beach,
and have a fine vacation together,'' he had answered her.

As Bertram saw it, however, he could detect
very little ``vacation'' to it. Billy had no time
for anything but the baby. When she was not
actually engaged in caring for it, she was studying
how to care for it. Never had she been
sweeter or dearer, and never had Bertram loved
her half so well. He was proud, too, of her
devotion, and of her triumphant success as a mother;
but he did wish that sometimes, just once in a
while, she would remember she was a wife, and
pay a little attention to him, her husband.

Bertram was ashamed to own it, even to
himself, but he was feeling just a little abused that
summer; and he knew that, in his heart, he was
actually getting jealous of his own son, in spite
of his adoration of the little fellow. He told
himself defensively that it was not to be expected
that he should not want the love of his wife, the
attentions of his wife, and the companionship
of his wife--a part of the time. It was nothing
more than natural that occasionally he should like
to see her show some interest in subjects not
mentioned in Mothers' Guides and Scientific
Trainings of Infants; and he did not believe he
could be blamed for wanting his residence to be
a home for himself as well as a nursery for his

Even while he thus discontentedly argued with
himself, however, Bertram called himself a selfish
brute just to think such things when he had
so dear and loving a wife as Billy, and so fine and
splendid a baby as Bertram, Jr. He told himself,
too, that very likely when they were back in
their own house again, and when motherhood
was not so new to her, Billy would not be so
absorbed in the baby. She would return to her old
interest in her husband, her music, her friends,
and her own personal appearance. Meanwhile
there was always, of course, for him, his
painting. So he would paint, accepting gladly what
crumbs of attention fell from the baby's table,
and trust to the future to make Billy none the
less a mother, perhaps, but a little more the

Just how confidently he was counting on this
coming change, Bertram hardly realized himself;
but certainly the family was scarcely settled at
the Strata before the husband gayly proposed
one evening that he and Billy should go to the
theater to see ``Romeo and Juliet.''

Billy was clearly both surprised and shocked.

``Why, Bertram, I can't--you know I can't!''
she exclaimed reprovingly.

Bertram's heart sank; but he kept a brave

``Why not?''

``What a question! As if I'd leave Baby!''

``But, Billy, dear, you'd be gone less than three
hours, and you say Delia's the most careful of

Billy's forehead puckered into an anxious

``I can't help it. Something might happen
to him, Bertram. I couldn't be happy a minute.''

``But, dearest, aren't you _ever_ going to leave
him?'' demanded the young husband, forlornly.

``Why, yes, of course, when it's reasonable
and necessary. I went out to the Annex yesterday
afternoon. I was gone almost two whole

``Well, did anything happen?''

``N-no; but then I telephoned, you see,
several times, so I _knew_ everything was all right.''

``Oh, well, if that's all you want, I could
telephone, you know, between every act,'' suggested
Bertram, with a sarcasm that was quite lost on
the earnest young mother.

``Y-yes, you could do that, couldn't you?''
conceded Billy; ``and, of course, I _haven't_ been
anywhere much, lately.''

``Indeed I could,'' agreed Bertram, with a
promptness that carefully hid his surprise at her
literal acceptance of what he had proposed as a
huge joke. ``Come, is it a go? Shall I telephone
to see if I can get seats?''

``You think Baby'll surely be all right?''

``I certainly do.''

``And you'll telephone home between every

``I will.'' Bertram's voice sounded almost as
if he were repeating the marriage service.

``And we'll come straight home afterwards as
fast as John and Peggy can bring us?''


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