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Miss Billy Married by Eleanor H. Porter

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for--anything. I heard some time ago of your
engagement to Calderwell. I've tried many
times to say the proper, expected pretty speeches,
but--I couldn't. I will now, though. I do.
You have all my tenderest best wishes for your
happiness--dear. If long ago I hadn't been
such a blind fool as not to know my own

``But--but there's some mistake,'' interposed
Alice, palpitatingly, with hanging head.
``I--I'm not engaged to Mr. Calderwell.''

Arkwright turned and sent a keen glance into
her face.



``But I heard that Calderwell--'' He stopped

``You heard that Mr. Calderwell was engaged,
very likely. But--it so happens he isn't engaged--
to me,'' murmured Alice, faintly.

``But, long ago you said--'' Arkwright
paused, his eyes still keenly searching her face.

``Never mind what I said--long ago,'' laughed
Alice, trying unsuccessfully to meet his gaze.
``One says lots of things, at times, you know.''

Into Arkwright's eyes came a new light, a
light that plainly needed but a breath to fan it
into quick fire.

``Alice,'' he said softly, ``do you mean that
maybe now--I needn't try to fight--that other
tiger skin?''

There was no answer.

Arkwright reached out a pleading hand.

``Alice, dear, I've loved you so long,'' he begged
unsteadily. ``Don't you think that sometime,
if I was very, very patient, you could just _begin_
--to care a little for me?''

Still there was no answer. Then, slowly, Alice
shook her head. Her face was turned quite away
--which was a pity, for if Arkwright could have
seen the sudden tender mischief in her eyes, his
own would not have become so somber.

``Not even a little bit?''

``I couldn't ever--begin,'' answered a half-
smothered voice.

``Alice!'' cried the man, heart-brokenly.

Alice turned now, and for a fleeting instant
let him see her eyes, glowing with the love so
long kept in relentless exile.

``I couldn't, because, you see-I began--
long ago,'' she whispered.

``Alice!'' It was the same single word, but
spoken with a world of difference, for into it now
was crowded all the glory and the wonder of a
great love. ``Alice!'' breathed the man again;
and this time the word was, oh, so tenderly whispered
into the little pink and white ear of the girl
in his arms.

``I got delayed,'' began Billy, in the doorway.

``Oh-h!'' she broke off, beating a hushed, but
precipitate, retreat.

Fully thirty minutes later, Billy came to the
door again. This time her approach was heralded
by a snatch of song.

``I hope you'll excuse my being gone so long,''
she smiled, as she entered the room where her
two guests sat decorously face to face at the chess-

``Well, you know you said you'd be gone ten
minutes,'' Arkwright reminded her, politely.

``Yes, I know I did.'' And Billy, to her credit,
did not even smile at the man who did not know
ten minutes from fifty.



After all, it was the baby's hand that did it,
as was proper, and perhaps to be expected; for
surely, was it not Bertram, Jr.'s place to show
his parents that he was, indeed, no Wedge, but
a dear and precious Tie binding two loving, loyal
hearts more and more closely together? It
would seem, indeed, that Bertram, Jr., thought
so, perhaps, and very bravely he set about it;
though, to carry out his purpose, he had to turn
his steps into an unfamiliar way--a way of pain,
and weariness, and danger.

It was Arkwright who told Bertram that the
baby was very sick, and that Billy wanted him.
Bertram went home at once to find a distracted,
white-faced Billy, and a twisted, pain-racked
little creature, who it was almost impossible to
believe was the happy, laughing baby boy he
had left that morning.

For the next two weeks nothing was thought
of in the silent old Beacon Street house but the
tiny little life hovering so near Death's door that
twice it appeared to have slipped quite across
the threshold. All through those terrible weeks
it seemed as if Billy neither ate nor slept; and
always at her side, comforting, cheering, and
helping wherever possible was Bertram, tender,
loving, and marvelously thoughtful.

Then came the turning point when the universe
itself appeared to hang upon a baby's
breath. Gradually, almost imperceptibly, came
the fluttering back of the tiny spirit into the
longing arms stretched so far, far out to meet and
hold it. And the father and the mother, looking
into each other's sleepless, dark-ringed eyes,
knew that their son was once more theirs to love
and cherish.

When two have gone together with a dear one
down into the Valley of the Shadow of Death,
and have come back, either mourning or rejoicing,
they find a different world from the one they
had left. Things that were great before seem
small, and some things that were small seem
great. At least Bertram and Billy found their
world thus changed when together they came
back bringing their son with them.

In the long weeks of convalescence, when the
healthy rosiness stole bit by bit into the baby's
waxen face, and the light of recognition and
understanding crept day by day into the baby's
eyes, there was many a quiet hour for heart-to-
heart talks between the two who so anxiously
and joyously hailed every rosy tint and fleeting
sparkle. And there was so much to tell, so much
to hear, so much to talk about! And always,
running through everything, was that golden
thread of joy, beside which all else paled--that
they had Baby and each other. As if anything
else mattered!

To be sure, there was Bertram's arm. Very
early in their talks Billy found out about that.
But Billy, with Baby getting well, was not to be
daunted, even by this.

``Nonsense, darling--not paint again,
indeed! Why, Bertram, of course you will,'' she
cried confidently.

``But, Billy, the doctor said,'' began Bertram;
but Billy would not even listen.

``Very well, what if he did, dear?'' she
interrupted. ``What if he did say you couldn't use
your right arm much again?'' Billy's voice broke
a little, then quickly steadied into something very
much like triumph. ``You've got your left one!''

Bertram shook his head.

``I can't paint with that.''

``Yes, you can,'' insisted Billy, firmly. ``Why,
Bertram, what do you suppose you were given
two arms for if not to fight with both of them?
And I'm going to be ever so much prouder of
what you paint now, because I'll know how splendidly
you worked to do it. Besides, there's Baby.
As if you weren't ever going to paint for Baby!
Why, Bertram, I'm going to have you paint Baby,
one of these days. Think how pleased he'll be
to see it when he grows up! He's nicer, anyhow,
than any old `Face of a Girl' you ever did.
Paint? Why, Bertram, darling, of course you're
going to paint, and better than you ever did before!''

Bertram shook his head again; but this time
he smiled, and patted Billy's cheek with the tip
of his forefinger.

``As if I could!'' he disclaimed. But that
afternoon he went into his long-deserted studio and
hunted up his last unfinished picture. For some
time he stood motionless before it; then, with a
quick gesture of determination, he got out his
palette, paints, and brushes. This time not until
he had painted ten, a dozen, a score of strokes,
did he drop his brush with a sigh and carefully
erase the fresh paint on the canvas. The next
day he worked longer, and this time he allowed
a little, a very little, of what he had done to

The third day Billy herself found him at his

``I wonder--do you suppose I could?'' he
asked fearfully.

``Why, dearest, of course you can! Haven't
you noticed? Can't you see how much more you
can do with your left hand now? You've _had_ to
use it, you see. _I've_ seen you do a lot of things
with it, lately, that you never used to do at all.
And, of course, the more you do with it, the more
you can!''

``I know; but that doesn't mean that I can
paint with it,'' sighed Bertram, ruefully eyeing
the tiny bit of fresh color his canvas showed for
his long afternoon's work.

``You wait and see,'' nodded Billy, with so
overwhelming a cheery confidence that Bertram,
looking into her glowing face, was conscious of a
curious throb of exultation, almost as if already
the victory were his.

But it was not always of Bertram's broken
arm, nor even of his work that they talked. Bertram,
hanging over the baby's crib to assure himself
that the rosiness and the sparkle were really
growing more apparent every day, used to wonder
sometimes how ever in the world he could
have been jealous of his son. He said as much
one day to Billy.

To Billy it was a most astounding idea.

``You mean you were actually jealous of your
own baby?'' she gasped. ``Why, Bertram, how
could-- And was that why you--you sought
distraction and-- Oh, but, Bertram, that was
all my f-fault,'' she quavered remorsefully. ``I
wouldn't play, nor sing, nor go to walk, nor
anything; and I wore horrid frowzy wrappers all the
time, and--''

``Oh, come, come, Billy,'' expostulated the
man. ``I'm not going to have you talk like that
about _my wife!_''

``But I did--the book said I did,'' wailed

``The book? Good heavens! Are there any
books in this, too?'' demanded Bertram.

``Yes, the same one; the--the `Talks to
Young Wives,' '' nodded Billy. And then,
because some things had grown small to them, and
some others great, they both laughed happily.

But even this was not quite all; for one
evening, very shyly, Billy brought out the chessboard.

``Of course I can't play well,'' she faltered;
``and maybe you don't want to play with me at

But Bertram, when he found out why she had
learned, was very sure he did want very much
to play with her.

Billy did not beat, of course. But she did
several times experience--for a few blissful minutes
--the pleasure of seeing Bertram sit motionless,
studying the board, because of a move she had
made. And though, in the end, her king was
ignominiously trapped with not an unguarded
square upon which to set his poor distracted
foot, the memory of those blissful minutes when
she had made Bertram ``stare'' more than paid
for the final checkmate.

By the middle of June the baby was well
enough to be taken to the beach, and Bertram
was so fortunate as to secure the same house
they had occupied before. Once again William
went down in Maine for his fishing trip, and the
Strata was closed. In the beach house Bertram
was painting industriously--with his left hand.
Almost he was beginning to feel Billy's enthusiasm.
Almost he was believing that he _was_ doing
good work. It was not the ``Face of a Girl,'' now.
It was the face of a baby: smiling, laughing, even
crying, sometimes; at other times just gazing
straight into your eyes with adorable soberness.
Bertram still went into Boston twice a week for
treatment, though the treatment itself had
changed. The great surgeon had sent him to
still another specialist.

``There's a chance--though perhaps a small
one,'' he had said. ``I'd like you to try it, anyway.''

As the summer advanced, Bertram thought
sometimes that he could see a slight improvement
in his injured arm; but he tried not to
think too much about this. He had thought
the same thing before, only to be disappointed
in the end. Besides, he was undeniably interested
just now in seeing if he _could_ paint with
his left hand. Billy was so sure, and she had
said that she would be prouder than ever of him,
if he could--and he would like to make Billy
proud! Then, too, there was the baby--he had
no idea a baby could be so interesting to paint.
He was not sure but that he was going to like to
paint babies even better than he had liked to
paint his ``Face of a Girl'' that had brought
him his first fame.

In September the family returned to the Strata.
The move was made a little earlier this year on
account of Alice Greggory's wedding.

Alice was to be married in the pretty living-
room at the Annex, just where Billy herself had
been married a few short years before; and
Billy had great plans for the wedding--not
all of which she was able to carry out, for
Alice, like Marie before her, had very strong
objections to being placed under too great

``And you see, really, anyway,'' she told Billy,

``I owe the whole thing to you, to begin with--
even my husband.''

``Nonsense! Of course you don't,'' disputed

``But I do. If it hadn't been for you I should
never have found him again, and of _course_ I
shouldn't have had this dear little home to be
married in. And I never could have left mother
if she hadn't had Aunt Hannah and the Annex
which means you. And if I hadn't found Mr.
Arkwright, I might never have known how--
how I could go back to my old home (as I am
going on my honeymoon trip), and just know that
every one of my old friends who shakes hands
with me isn't pitying me now, because I'm my
father's daughter. And that means you; for you
see I never would have known that my father's
name was cleared if it hadn't been for you.

``Oh, Alice, please, please,'' begged Billy,
laughingly raising two protesting hands. ``Why
don't you say that it's to me you owe just breathing,
and be done with it?''

``Well, I will, then,'' avowed Alice, doggedly.
``And it's true, too, for, honestly, my dear, I
don't believe I would have been breathing to-day,
nor mother, either, if you hadn't found us that
morning, and taken us out of those awful rooms.''

``I? Never! You wouldn't let me take you
out,'' laughed Billy. ``You proud little thing!
Maybe _you've_ forgotten how you turned poor
Uncle William and me out into the cold, cold
world that morning, just because we dared to
aspire to your Lowestoft teapot; but I haven't!''

``Oh, Billy, please, _don't_,'' begged Alice, the
painful color staining her face. ``If you knew
how I've hated myself since for the way I acted
that day--and, really, you did take us away
from there, you know.''

``No, I didn't. I merely found two good
tenants for Mr. and Mrs. Delano,'' corrected Billy,
with a sober face.

``Oh, yes, I know all about that,'' smiled Alice,
affectionately; ``and you got mother and me
here to keep Aunt Hannah company and teach
Tommy Dunn; and you got Aunt Hannah here
to keep us company and take care of Tommy
Dunn; and you got Tommy Dunn here so Aunt
Hannah and we could have somebody to teach
and take care of; and, as for the others,--''
But Billy put her hands to her ears and fled.

The wedding was to be on the fifteenth. From
the West Kate wrote that of course it was none
of her affairs, particularly as neither of the
interested parties was a relation, but still she should
think that for a man in Mr. Arkwright's position,
nothing but a church wedding would do at all,
as, of course, he did, in a way, belong to the
public. Alice, however, declared that perhaps he
did belong to the public, when he was Don Somebody-
or-other in doublet and hose; but when he
was just plain Michael Jeremiah Arkwright in
a frock coat he was hers, and she did not propose
to make a Grand Opera show of her wedding.
And as Arkwright, too, very much disapproved
of the church-wedding idea, the two were married
in the Annex living-room at noon on the fifteenth
as originally planned, in spite of Mrs. Kate
Hartwell's letter.

It was soon after the wedding that Bertram
told Billy he wished she would sit for him with
Bertram, Jr.

``I want to try my hand at you both together,''
he coaxed.

``Why, of course, if you like, dear,'' agreed
Billy, promptly, ``though I think Baby is just
as nice, and even nicer, alone.''

Once again all over Bertram's studio began
to appear sketches of Billy, this time a glorified,
tender Billy, with the wonderful mother-love in
her eyes. Then, after several sketches of trial
poses, Bertram began his picture of Billy and
the baby together.

Even now Bertram was not sure of his work.
He knew that he could not yet paint with his old
freedom and ease; he knew that his stroke was
not so sure, so untrammeled. But he knew, too,
that he had gained wonderfully, during the summer,
and that he was gaining now, every day.
To Billy he said nothing of all this. Even to
himself he scarcely put his hope into words; but in
his heart he knew that what he was really painting
his ``Mother and Child'' picture for was the
Bohemian Ten Club Exhibition in March--if
he could but put upon canvas the vision that was
spurring him on.

And so Bertram worked all through those
short winter days, not always upon the one picture,
of course, but upon some picture or sketch
that would help to give his still uncertain left
hand the skill that had belonged to its mate.
And always, cheering, encouraging, insisting on
victory, was Billy, so that even had Bertram
been tempted, sometimes, to give up, he could
not have done so--and faced Billy's grieved,
disappointed eyes. And when at last his work
was completed, and the pictured mother and
child in all their marvelous life and beauty seemed
ready to step from the canvas, Billy drew a long
ecstatic breath.

``Oh, Bertram, it _is_, it is the best work you
have ever done.'' Billy was looking at the baby.
Always she had ignored herself as part of the
picture. ``And won't it be fine for the Exhibition!''

Bertram's hand tightened on the chair-back
in front of him. For a moment he could not
speak. Then, a bit huskily, he asked:

``Would you dare--risk it?''

``Risk it! Why, Bertram Henshaw, I've
meant that picture for the Exhibition from the
very first--only I never dreamed you could get
it so perfectly lovely. _Now_ what do you say
about Baby being nicer than any old `Face of a
Girl' that you ever did?'' she triumphed.

And Bertram, who, even to himself, had not
dared whisper the word exhibition, gave a tremulous
laugh that was almost a sob, so overwhelming
was his sudden realization of what faith and
confidence had meant to Billy, his wife.

If there was still a lingering doubt in Bertram's
mind, it must have been dispelled in less than
an hour after the Bohemian Ten Club Exhibition
flung open its doors on its opening night. Once
again Bertram found his picture the cynosure
of all admiring eyes, and himself the center of an
enthusiastic group of friends and fellow-artists
who vied with each other in hearty words of
congratulation. And when, later, the feared critics,
whose names and opinions counted for so much
in his world, had their say in the daily press and
weekly reviews, Bertram knew how surely indeed
he had won. And when he read that ``Henshaw's
work shows now a peculiar strength, a sort of
reserve power, as it were, which, beautiful as was
his former work, it never showed before,'' he
smiled grimly, and said to Billy:

``I suppose, now, that was the fighting I did
with my good left hand, eh, dear?''

But there was yet one more drop that was to
make Bertram's cup of joy brim to overflowing.
It came just one month after the Exhibition in the
shape of a terse dozen words from the doctor.
Bertram fairly flew home that day. He had no
consciousness of any means of locomotion. He
thought he was going to tell his wife at once his
great good news; but when he saw her, speech
suddenly fled, and all that he could do was to
draw her closely to him with his left arm and hide
his face.

``Why, Bertram, dearest, what--what is it?''
stammered the thoroughly frightened Billy.
``Has anything-happened?''

``No, no--yes--yes, everything has happened.
I mean, it's going to happen,'' choked
the man. ``Billy, that old chap says that I'm
going to have my arm again. Think of it--my
good right arm that I've lost so long!''

``_Oh, Bertram!_'' breathed Billy. And she, too,
fell to sobbing.

Later, when speech was more coherent, she

``Well, anyway, it doesn't make any difference
_how_ many beautiful pictures you p-paint, after
this, Bertram, I _can't_ be prouder of any than I
am of the one your l--left hand did.''

``Oh, but I have you to thank for all that,

``No, you haven't,'' disputed Billy, blinking
teary eyes; ``but--'' she paused, then went on
spiritedly, ``but, anyhow, I--I don't believe
any one--not even Kate--can say _now_ that--
that I've been a hindrance to you in your c-career!''

``Hindrance!'' scoffed Bertram, in a tone that
left no room for doubt, and with a kiss that left
even less, if possible.

Billy, for still another minute, was silent; then,
with a wistfulness that was half playful, half
serious, she sighed:

``Bertram, I believe being married is something
like clocks, you know, 'specially at the

``Clocks, dear?''

``Yes. I was out to Aunt Hannah's to-day.
She was fussing with her clock--the one that
strikes half an hour ahead--and I saw all those
quantities of wheels, little and big, that have to
go just so, with all the little cogs fitting into all
the other little cogs just exactly right. Well,
that's like marriage. See? There's such a lot
of little cogs in everyday life that have to be
fitted so they'll run smoothly--that have to be
adjusted, 'specially at the first.''

``Oh, Billy, what an idea!''

``But it's so, really, Bertram. Anyhow, I
know my cogs were always getting out of place
at the first,'' laughed Billy. ``And I was like
Aunt Hannah's clock, too, always going off half
an hour ahead of time. And maybe I shall be so
again, sometimes. But, Bertram,''--her voice
shook a little--``if you'll just look at my face
you'll see that I tell the right time there, just as
Aunt Hannah's clock does. I'm sure, always,
I'll tell the right time there, even if I do go off
half an hour ahead!''

``As if I didn't know that,'' answered
Bertram, very low and tenderly. ``Besides, I reckon
I have some cogs of my own that need adjusting!''

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