Part 7 out of 8
just come in to show him a new book, and Peter supposed some one
from the shop below had sent upstairs for him.
"Oh! it's you, my boy!" Peter cried in his hearty way, his arms
around Jack's shoulders as he drew him inside the room. Then
something in the boy's face checked him, bringing to mind the
tragedy. "Yes, I read it all in the papers," he exclaimed in a
sympathetic voice. "Terrible, isn't it! Poor Minott. How are his
wife and the poor little baby--and dear Ruth. The funeral is to-
morrow I see by the papers. Yes, of course I'm going." As he spoke
he turned his head and scanned Jack closely.
"Are you ill, my boy?" he asked in an anxious tone, leading him to
a seat on the sofa. "You look terribly worn."
"We all have our troubles, Uncle Peter," Jack replied with a
glance at Cohen, who had risen from his chair to shake his hand.
"Yes--but not you. Out with it! Isaac doesn't count. Anything you
can tell me you can tell him. What's the matter?--is it Ruth?"
Jack's face cleared. "No, she is lovely, and sent you her dearest
"Then it's your work up in the valley?"
"No--we begin in a month. Everything's ready--or will be."
"Oh! I see, it's the loss of Minott. Oh, yes, I understand it all
now. Forgive me, Jack. I did not remember how intimate you and he
were once. Yes, it is a dreadful thing to lose a friend. Poor
"No--it's not that altogether, Uncle Peter."
He could not tell him. The dear old gentleman was ignorant of
everything regarding Garry and his affairs, except that he was a
brilliant young architect, with a dashing way about him, of whom
Morris was proud. This image he could not and would not destroy.
And yet something must be done to switch Peter from the main
subject--at least until Cohen should leave.
"The fact is I have just had an interview with Uncle Arthur, and
he has rather hurt my feelings," Jack continued in explanation, a
forced smile on his face. "I wanted to borrow a little money. All
I had to offer as security was my word."
Peter immediately became interested. Nothing delighted him so much
as to talk over Jack's affairs. Was he not a silent partner in the
"You wanted it, of course, to help out on the new work," he
rejoined. "Yes, it always takes money in the beginning. And what
did the old fox say?"
Jack smiled meaningly. "He said that what I called 'my word'
wasn't a collateral. Wanted something better. So I've got to hunt
for it somewhere else."
"And he wouldn't give it to you?" cried Peter indignantly. "No, of
course not! A man's word doesn't count with these pickers and
stealers. Half--three-quarters--of the business of the globe is
done on a man's word. He writes it on the bottom or on the back of
a slip of paper small enough to light a cigar with--but it's only
his word that counts. In these mouse-traps, however, these cracks
in the wall, they want something they can get rid of the moment
somebody else says it is not worth what they loaned on it; or they
want a bond with the Government behind it. Oh, I know them!"
Cohen laughed--a dry laugh--in compliment to Peter's way of
putting it--but there was no ring of humor in it. He had been
reading Jack's mind. There was something behind the forced smile
that Peter had missed--something deeper than the lines of anxiety
and the haunted look in the eyes. This was a different lad from
the one with whom he had spent so pleasant an evening some weeks
before. What had caused the change?
"Don't you abuse them, Mr. Grayson--these pawn-brokers," he said
in his slow, measured way. "If every man was a Turk we could take
his word, but when they are Jews and Christians and such other
unreliable people, of course they want something for their ducats.
It's the same old pound of flesh. Very respectable firm this, Mr.
Arthur Breen & Co.--VERY respectable people. I used to press off
the elder gentleman's coat--he had only two--one of them I made
myself when he first came to New York--but he has forgotten all
about it now," and the little tailor purred softly.
"If you had pressed out his morals, Isaac, it would have helped
"They didn't need it. He was a very quiet young man and very
polite; not so fat, or so red or so rich, as he is now. I saw him
the other day in our bank. You see," and he winked slyly at Jack,
"these grand people must borrow sometimes, like the rest of us;
but he never remembers me any more." Isaac paused for a moment as
if the reminiscence had recalled some amusing incident. When he
continued his face had a broad smile--"and I must say, too, that
he always paid his bills. Once, when he was afraid he could not
pay, he wanted to bring the coat back, but I wouldn't let him. Oh,
yes, a very nice young man, Mr. Arthur Breen," and the tailor's
plump body shook with suppressed laughter.
"You know, of course, that he is this young man's uncle," said
Peter, laying his hand affectionately on Jack's shoulder.
"Oh, yes, I know about it. I saw the likeness that first day you
came in," he continued, nodding to Jack. "It was one of the times
when your sister, the magnificent Miss Grayson was here, Mr.
Grayson." Isaac always called her so, a merry twinkle in his eye
when he said it, but with a face and voice showing nothing but the
deepest respect; at which Peter would laugh a gentle laugh in
apology for his sister's peculiarities, a dislike of little
tailors being one of them--this little tailor especially.
"And now, Mr. Breen, I hope you will have better luck," Isaac
said, rising from his chair and holding out his hand.
"But you are not going, Isaac," protested Peter.
"Yes, this young gentleman, I see, is in a good deal of trouble
and I cannot help him much, so I will go away," and with a wave of
his pudgy hand he shut the door behind him and trotted downstairs
to his shop.
Jack waited until the sound of his retreating footsteps assured
the Jew's permanent departure, then he turned to Peter.
"I did not want to say too much before Mr. Cohen, but Uncle
Arthur's refusal has upset me completely. I could not have
believed it of him. You must help me somehow, Uncle Peter. I don't
mean with your own money; you have not got it to spare--but so I
can get it somewhere. I must have it, and I can't rest until I do
"Why, my dear boy! Is it so bad as that? I thought you were
"I tried to joke about it while Mr. Cohen was here, but he saw
through it, I know, from the way he spoke: but this really is a
very serious matter; more serious than anything that ever happened
Peter walked to the sofa and sat down. Jack's manner and the tone
of his voice showed that a grave calamity had overtaken the boy.
He sat looking into Jack's eyes.
"Go on," he said, his heart in his mouth.
"I must have ten thousand dollars. How and where can I borrow it?"
Peter started. "Ten thousand dollars!" he repeated in undisguised
surprise. "Whew! Why, Jack, that's a very large sum of money for
you to want. Why, my dear boy, this is--well--well!"
"It is not for me, Uncle Peter--or I would not come to you for
"For whom is it, then?" Peter asked, in a tone that showed how
great was his relief now that Jack was not involved.
"Don't ask me, please."
Peter was about to speak, but he checked himself. He saw it all
now. The money was for MacFarlane, and the boy did not like to say
so. He had heard something of Henry's financial difficulties
caused by the damage to the "fill." He thought that this had been
made good; he saw now that he was misinformed.
"When do you want it, Jack?" he resumed. He was willing to help,
no matter who it was for.
"Before Monday night."
Peter drew out his watch as if to find some relief from its dial,
and slipped it into his pocket again. It was not yet three o'clock
and his bank was still open, but it did not contain ten thousand
dollars or any other sum that he could draw upon. Besides, neither
Jack, nor MacFarlane, nor anybody connected with Jack, had an
account at the Exeter. The discounting of their notes was,
therefore, out of the question.
"To-day is a short business day, Jack, being Saturday," he said
with a sigh. "If I had known of this before I might have--and yet
to tell you the simple truth, my boy, I don't know a human being
in the world who would lend me that much money, or whom I could
ask for it."
"I thought maybe Mr. Morris might, if you went to him, but I
understand he is out of town," returned Jack.
"Yes," answered Peter in a perplexed tone--"yes--Holker has gone
to Chicago and won't be back for a week." He, too, had thought of
Morris and the instantaneous way in which he would have reached
for his check-book.
"And you must have it by Monday night?" Peter continued, his
thoughts bringing into review one after the other all the moneyed
men he knew. "Well--well--that IS a very short notice. It means
Monday to hunt in, really--to-morrow being Sunday."
He leaned back and sat in deep thought, Jack watching every
expression that crossed his face. Perhaps Ruth was mixed up in it
in some way. Perhaps their marriage depended upon it--not
directly, but indirectly--making a long postponement inevitable.
Perhaps MacFarlane had some old score to settle. This contracting
was precarious business. Once before he had known Henry to be in
just such straits. Again he consulted his watch.
Then a new and cheering thought struck him. He rose quickly from
his seat on the sofa and crossed the room to get his hat.
"It is a forlorn hope, Jack, but I'll try it. Come back here in an
hour--or stay here and wait."
"No, I'll keep moving," replied Jack. "I have thought of some
supply men who know me; our account is considerable; they would
lend it to Mr. MacFarlane, but that's not the way I want it. I'll
see them and get back as soon as I can--perhaps in a couple of
"Then make it eight o'clock, so as to be sure. I have thought of
something else. Ten thousand dollars," he kept muttering to
himself--"ten thousand dollars"--as he put on his hat and moved to
the door. There he stopped and faced about--his bushy brows
tightening as a new difficulty confronted him. "Well, but for how
long?" That part of the transaction Jack had forgotten to mention.
"I can't tell; maybe a year--maybe more."
Peter advanced a step as if to return to the room and give up the
"But Jack, my boy, don't you see how impossible a loan of that
Jack stood irresolute. In his mad desire to save Garry he had not
considered that phase of the matter.
"Yes--but I've GOT TO HAVE IT," he cried in a positive tone. "You
would feel just as I do, if you knew the circumstances."
Peter turned without a word and opened the door leading into the
hall. "Be back here at eight," was all he said as he shut the door
behind him and clattered down the uncarpeted stairs.
Shortly before the appointed hour Jack again mounted the three
flights of steps to Peter's rooms. He had had a queer experience--
queer for him. The senior member of one supply firm had looked at
him sharply, and had then said with a contemptuous smile, "Well,
we are looking for ten thousand dollars ourselves, and will pay a
commission to get it." Another had replied that they were short,
or would be glad to oblige him, and as soon as Jack left the
office had called to their bookkeeper to "send MacFarlane his
account, and say we have some heavy payments to meet, and will he
oblige us with a check"--adding to his partner--"Something rotten
in Denmark, or that young fellow wouldn't be looking around for a
wad as big as that." A third merchant heard him out, and with some
feeling in his voice said: "I'm sorry for you, Breen"--Jack's need
of money was excuse enough for the familiarity--"for Mr.
MacFarlane thinks everything of you, he's told me so a dozen
times--and there isn't any finer man living than Henry MacFarlane.
But, just as your friend, let me tell you to stay out of the
Street; it's no place for a young man like you. No--I don't mean
any offence. If I didn't believe in you myself, I wouldn't say it.
Take my advice and stay out."
And so footsore and heart-sore, his face haggard from hunger, for
he had eaten nothing since breakfast, his purpose misunderstood,
his own character assailed, his pride humiliated, and with courage
almost gone, he strode into Peter's room and threw himself into a
Peter heard his step and entered from his bedroom, where he had
finished dressing for dinner. The old fellow seemed greatly
troubled. One glance at Jack's face told the story of the
"You have done nothing, Jack?" he asked in a despondent tone.
"Nothing. Portman has gone to his place on Long Island, the others
were out. Whom did you see?"
"Some people we do business with; some of them laughed at me; some
gave me advice; none of them had any money."
"I expected it. I don't think you are quite aware of what you ask,
my dear boy."
"Perhaps I am not, but I am beginning to see. It is a new
experience for me. If my father had wanted the money for the same
purpose for which I want this, he would not have had to drive a
mile from his house before he would have had it."
"Your father lived in a different atmosphere, my boy; in another
age, really. In his environment money meant the education of
children, the comfort of women, and the hospitalities that make up
"Well, is not that true now, among decent people?" protested Jack,
his mind going back to some homes he remembered.
"No--not generally--not here in New York. Money here means the
right to exist on the planet; we fight for it as we do for our
lives. Your own need of this ten thousand dollars proves it. The
men I tried to find this afternoon have more than they need or
ever will need; that's why I called on them. If I lost it, it
wouldn't matter to them, but I would never hear the last of it all
the same," and a shudder ran through him.
Peter did not tell Jack that had Portman been at home and, out of
friendship for him, had agreed to his request, he would have
required the old fellow's name on a demand note for the amount of
the loan; and that he would willingly have signed it, to relieve
the boy's mind and ward off the calamity that threatened those he
loved and those who loved him--not one cent of which, the Scribe
adds in all positiveness, would the boy have taken had he known
that the dear fellow had in any way pledged himself for its
For some minutes Jack sat stretched out in his chair, his body
aslant; Peter still beside him. All the events of the day and
night passed in review before him; Garry's face and heavy
breathing; McGowan's visit and defiance; Corinne's agonized
shriek--even the remembrance made him creep--then Ruth's voice and
her pleading look: "The poor little boy. Jack. He has done no
wrong--all his life he must be pointed at."
He dragged himself to his feet.
"I will go back to Ruth now, Uncle Peter. Thank you for trying. I
know it is a wild goose chase, but I must keep moving. You will be
out to-morrow; we bury poor Garry at one o'clock. I still have all
day Monday. Good-night."
"Come out and dine with me, my boy--we will go to--"
"No, Ruth is worrying. I will get something to eat when I get
Jack descended Peter's stairs one step at a time, Each seemed to
plunge him the deeper into some pit of despair. Before he reached
the bottom he began to realize the futility of his efforts. He
began to realize, too, that both he and Ruth had been swept off
their feet by their emotions. MacFarlane, the elder Breen, and now
Peter, had all either openly condemned his course or had given it
scant encouragement. There was nothing to go new but go home and
tell Ruth. Then, after the funeral was over, he would have another
talk with MacFarlane.
He had reached the cool air of the street, and stood hesitating
whether to cross the Square on his way to the ferry, or to turn
down the avenue, when the door of Isaac Cohen's shop opened, and
the little tailor put out his head.
"I have been waiting for you." he said in a measured voice. "Come
Jack was about to tell him that he must catch a train, when
something in the tailor's manner and the earnestness with which he
spoke, made the young fellow alter his mind and follow him.
The little man led the way through the now darkened and empty
shop, lighted by one gas jet--past the long cutting counter
flanked by shelves bearing rolls of cloth and paper patterns,
around the octagon stove where the irons were still warm, and
through the small door which led into his private room. There he
turned up a reading lamp, its light softened by a green shade. and
motioning Jack to a seat, said abruptly, but politely--more as a
request than a demand:
"I have a question to ask you, and you will please tell me the
truth. How much money do you want, and what do you want it for?"
Jack bit his lip. He wanted money, and he wanted it badly, but the
tailor had no right to pry into his private affairs--certainly not
in this way.
"Well, that was something I was talking to Uncle Peter about," he
rejoined stiffly. "I suppose you must have overheard."
"Yes, I did. Go on--how much money do you want, and what do you
want it for?"
"But, Mr. Cohen, I don't think I ought to bother you with my
troubles. They wouldn't interest you."
"Now, my dear young man, you will please not misunderstand me. You
are very intelligent, and you are very honest, and you always say
what is in your heart; I have heard you do it many times. Now say
it to me."
There was no mistaking the tailor's earnestness. It evidently was
not mere curiosity which prompted him. It was something else. Jack
wondered vaguely if the Jew wanted to turn money-lender at a big
"Why do you want to know?" he asked; more to gain time to fathom
his purpose than with any intention of giving him the facts.
Isaac went to his desk, opened with great deliberation an ebony
box, took out two cigars, offered one to Jack, leaned over the
lamp until his own was alight, and took the chair opposite Jack's.
All this time Jack sat watching him as a child does a necromancer,
wondering what he meant to do next.
"Why do I want to know, Mr. Breen? Well, I will tell you. I have
loved Mr. Grayson for a great many years. When he goes out in the
morning he always looks through the glass window and waves his
hand. If I am not in sight, he opens the door and calls inside,
'Ah, good-morning, Isaac.' At night, when he comes home, he waves
his hand again. I know every line in his face, and it is always a
happy face. Once or twice a week he comes in here, and we talk.
That is his chair--the one you are sitting in. Once or twice a
week I go up and sit in his chair and talk. In all the years I
have known him I have only seen him troubled once or twice. Then I
asked him the reason, and he told me. To-day I heard you speak
about some money you wanted, and then I saw that something had
gone wrong. After I left he came downstairs and passed my window
and did not look in. I watched him go up the street, he walked
very slow, and his head was down on his chest. I did not like it.
A little while ago he came back; I went out to meet him. I said,
'Mr. Grayson, what troubles you?' And he said--'Nothing, Isaac,
thank you,' and went upstairs. That is the first time in all the
years I know him that he answered me like that. So now I ask you
once more--how much money do you want, and what do you want it
for? When I know this, then I will know what troubles Mr. Grayson.
There is always a woman or a sum of money at the bottom of every
complication. Mr. Grayson never worries over either. I do not
believe you do, but I have had many surprises in my life."
Jack had heard him through without interruption. Most of it--
especially Cohen's affection for Peter--he had known before. It
was the last statement that roused him.
"Well, if you must know, Mr. Cohen--it is not for myself, but for
The Jew smiled. He saw that the young man had told the truth.
Peter's confidence in the boy, then, need not be shaken.
"And how much money do you need for your friend?" His eyes were
still reading Jack.
"Well, a very large sum." Jack did not like the cross-examination,
but somehow he could not resent it.
"But, my dear young man, will you not tell me? If you buy a coat,
do you not want to know the price? If you pay for an indiscretion,
is not the sum named in the settlement?"
"Ten thousand dollars."
There was no change in the Jew's face. The smile did not alter.
"And this is the money that Mr. Grayson tried to borrow for you,
and failed? Is it not so?"
"And you have tried everywhere to get it yourself? All the
afternoon you have been at it?" Still the same queer smile--one of
confirmation, as if he had known it all the time.
Again Jack nodded. Isaac was either a mind reader or he must have
been listening at the keyhole when he poured out his heart to
"Yes, that is what I thought when I saw you come in a little while
ago, dragging your feet as if they were lead, and your eyes on the
ground. The step and the eye, Mr. Breen, if you did but know it,
make a very good commercial agency. When the eye is bright and the
walk is quick, your customer has the money to pay either in his
pocket or in his bank; when the step is dull and sluggish, you
take a risk; when the eye looks about with an anxious glance and
the step is stealthy, and then when you take the measure for the
coat, both go out dancing, you may never get a penny. But that is
only to tell you how I know," the tailor chuckled softly. "And now
one thing more"--he was serious now--"when must you have this ten
"Before Monday night."
"In cash or something I can get cash on."
The tailor rose from his seat with a satisfied air--he had
evidently reached the point he had been striving for--laid the
stump of his cigar on the edge of the mantel, crossed the room,
fumbled in the side pocket of a coat which hung on a nail in an
open closet; drew out a small key; sauntered leisurely to his
desk, all the while crooning a tune to himself--Jack following his
every movement, wondering what it all meant, and half regretting
that he had not kept on to the ferry instead of wasting his time.
Here he unlocked a drawer, took out a still smaller key--a flat
one this time--removed some books and a small Barye bronze tiger
from what appeared to be a high square table, rolled back the
cloth, bringing into view an old-fashioned safe, applied the key
and swung back a heavy steel door. Here, still crooning his song
in a low key, dropping it and picking it up again as he moved--
quite as does the grave-digger in "Hamlet"--he drew forth a long,
flat bundle and handed it to Jack.
"Take them, Mr. Breen, and put them in your inside pocket. There
are ten United States Government bonds. If these Breen people will
not lend you the amount of money you want, take them to Mr.
Grayson's bank. Only do not tell him I gave them to you. I bought
them yesterday and was going to lock them up in my safe deposit
vault, only I could not leave my shop. Oh, you needn't look so
scared. They are good," and he loosened the wrapper.
Jack sprang from his seat. For a moment he could not speak.
"But, Mr. Cohen! Do you know I haven't any security to offer you,
and that I have only my salary and--"
"Have I asked you for any?" Isaac replied with a slight shrug, a
quizzical smile crossing his face.
"Ah, then, we will not talk about it. You are young--you are
hard-working; you left a very rich home on Fifth Avenue to go and
live in a dirty hotel in a country village--all because you were
honest; you risked your life to save your employer; and now you
want to go into debt to save a friend. Ah--you see, I know all
about you, my dear Mr. John Breen. Mr. Grayson has told me, and if
he had not, I could read your face. No--no--no--we will not talk
about such things as cent per cent and security. No--no--I am very
glad I had the bonds where I could get at them quick. There now--
do you run home as fast as you can and tell your friend. He is
more unhappy than anybody."
Jack had his breath now and he had also made up his mind. Every
drop of blood in his body was in revolt. Take money from a Jew
tailor whom he had not seen half a dozen times; with whom he had
no business relations or dealings, or even social acquaintance?
He laid the bonds back on the desk.
"I cannot take them, Mr. Cohen. I thank you most sincerely, but--
no--you must not give them to me. I--"
Isaac wheeled suddenly and drew himself up. His little mouse eyes
were snapping, and his face fiery red.
"You will not take them! Why?"
"I don't know--I can't!"
"I know!" he cried angrily, but with a certain dignity. "It is
because I am a Jew. Not because I am a tailor--you have too much
sense for that--but because I am a Jew!"
"Oh, Mr. Cohen!"
"Yes--I know--I see inside of you. I read you just as if you were
a page in a book. Who taught you to think that? Not your Uncle
Peter; he loves me--I love him. Who taught you such nonsense?" His
voice had risen with every sentence. In his indignation he looked
twice his size. "Is not my money as good as that man Breen's--who
insults you when you go to him?--and who laughed at you? Have I
laughed at you? Does Mr. Grayson laugh?"
Jack tried to interrupt, but the tailor's words poured on.
"And now let me tell you one thing more, Mr. John Breen. I do not
give you the bonds. I give them to Mr. Grayson. Never once has he
insulted me as you do now. All these years--fifteen years this
winter--he has been my friend. And now when the boy whom he loves
wants some money for a friend, and Mr. Grayson has none to give
him, and I, who am Mr. Grayson's friend, come to help that boy out
of his trouble, you--you--remember, you who have nothing to do
with it--you turn up your nose and stop it all. Are you not
ashamed of yourself?"
Jack's eyes blazed. He was not accustomed to be spoken to in that
way by anybody; certainly not by a tailor.
"Then give them to Uncle Peter," Jack flung back. "See what he
"No, I will not give them to your Uncle Peter. It will spoil
everything with me if he knows about it. He always does things for
me behind my back. He never lets me know. Now I shall do something
for him behind his back and not let him know."
"There are no buts! Listen to me, young man. I have no son; I have
no grandchild; I live here alone--you see how small it is? Do you
know why?--because I am happiest here. I know what it is to
suffer, and I know what it is for other people to suffer. I have
seen more misery in London in a year than you will see in your
whole life. Those ten bonds there are of no more use to me than an
extra coat of paint on that door. I have many more like them shut
up in a box. Almost every day people come to me for money--
sometimes they get it--oftener they do not. I have no money for
beggars, or for idlers, or for liars. I have worked all my life,
and shall to the end--and so must they. Now and then something
happens like this. Now do you understand?"
Again Jack tried to speak. His anger was gone; the pathos in the
Jew's voice had robbed him of all antagonism, but Cohen would
allow no interruptions.
"And now one thing more before I let you speak, And then I am
through. In all the years I have known Mr. Grayson, this is the
first time I have ever been able to help him with the only thing I
have that can help him--my money. If it was five times what you
want, he should have it. Do you hear? Five times!"
Isaac threw himself into his chair and sat with his chin in his
hand. The last few words had come in a dry, choking whisper--as if
they had been pumped from the depths of his heart.
Jack instinctively put out his hand and touched the Jew's knee.
"Will you please forgive me, Mr. Cohen--and will you please listen
to me. I won't tell you a lie. I did feel that way at first--I do
not now. I will take the bonds, and I thank you from the bottom of
my heart for them. You will never know how much good they will do;
I have hardly slept since I knew I had to get this money. I am,
perhaps, too tired to think straight, but you must do something
for me--you must make it right with my own conscience. I want to
sign something--give you something as security. I have only one
thing in the world and that is some ore property my father left me
in Maryland. At present it is worthless and may always be, but
still it is all I have. Let me give you this. If it turns out to
be of value you can take out your loan with interest and give me
the rest; if it does not, I will pay it back as I can; it may be
ten years or it may be less, but I will pay it if I live."
Isaac raised his head. "Well, that is fair." His voice was again
under control. "Not for me--but for you. Yes, that is quite right
for you to feel that way. Next week you can bring in the papers."
He picked up the bonds. "Now put these in your inside pocket and
look out for them as you cross the ferry. Good-by."
Jack strode out into the night, his mind in a whirl. No sense of
elation over the money had possession of him. All his thoughts
were on Isaac. What manner of man was this Jew? he kept asking
himself in a sort of stunned surprise, who could handle his shears
like a journeyman, talk like a savant, spend money like a prince,
and still keep the heart of a child? Whoever heard of such an act
of kindness; and so spontaneous and direct; reading his heart,
sympathizing with him in his troubles--as his friend would have
done--as his own father might have done.
And with the thought of Cohen's supreme instantaneous response
there followed with a rush of shame and self-humiliation that of
his own narrow-mindedness, his mean prejudices, his hatred of the
race, his questionings of Peter's intimacy, and his frequent
comments on their acquaintance--the one thing he could never
understand in his beloved mentor. Again Isaac's words rang in his
ears. "Is it because I am a Jew? Who taught you such nonsense? Not
your Uncle Peter--he loves me. I love him." And with them arose
the vision of the man stretched to his full height, the light of
the lamp glinting on his moist forehead, his bead-like eyes
flashing in the rush of his anger.
As to the sacrifice both he and Ruth had just made, and it was now
final, this no longer troubled him. He had already weighed for her
every side of the question, taking especial pains to discuss each
phase of the subject, even going so far as to disagree with
MacFarlane's opinion as to the worthlessness of the ore lands. But
the dear child had never wavered.
"No!--I don't care," she had answered with a toss of her head.
"Let the land go if there is no other way. We can get on without
it, my darling, and these poor people cannot." She had not, of
course, if the truth must be told, weighed any of the consequences
of what their double sacrifice might entail, nor had she realized
the long years of work which might ensue, or the self-denial and
constant anxiety attending its repayment. Practical questions on
so large a scale had been outside the range of her experience.
Hers was the spirit of Joan of old, who reckoned nothing of value
but her ideal.
Nor can we blame her. When your cheeks are twin roses; your hair
black as a crow's wing and fine as silk; and your teeth--not one
missing--so many seed pearls peeping from pomegranate lips; when
your blood goes skipping and bubbling through your veins; when at
night you sleep like a baby, and at morn you spring from your bed
in the joy of another day; when there are two strong brown hands
and two strong arms, and a great, loving, honest heart every bit
your own; and when, too, there are crisp autumn afternoons to
come, with gold and brown for a carpet, and long winter evenings,
the fire-light dancing on the overhead rafters; and 'way--'way--
beyond this--somewhere in the far future there rises a slender
spire holding a chime of bells, and beneath it a deep-toned organ
--when this, I say, is, or will be, your own--the gold of the
Indies is but so much tinkling brass, and Cleopatra's diadem a
mere bauble with which to quiet a child.
It was not until he was nearing Corklesville that the sense of the
money really came to him. He knew what it would mean to Ruth and
what her eyes would hold of gladness and relief. Suddenly there
sprang to his lips an unbidden laugh, a spontaneous overflow from
the joy of his heart; the first he had uttered for days. Ruth
should know first. He would take her in his arms and tell her to
hunt in all his pockets, and then he would kiss her and place the
package in her hands. And then the two would go to Corinne. It
would be late, and she would be in bed, perhaps, but that made no
difference. Ruth would steal noiselessly upstairs; past where
Garry lay, the flowers heaped upon his coffin, and Corinne would
learn the glad tidings before to-morrow's sun. At last the ghost
which had haunted them all these days was banished; her child
would be safe, and Corinne would no longer have to hide her head.
Once more the precious package became the dominant thought. Ten
bonds! More than enough! What would McGowan say now? What would
his Uncle Arthur say? He slipped his hand under his coat fondling
the wrapper, caressing it as a lover does a long-delayed letter,
as a prisoner does a key which is to turn darkness into light, as
a hunted man a weapon which may save his life.
It did not take Jack many minutes we may be sure to hurry from the
station to Ruth's home. There it all happened just as he had
planned and schemed it should--even to the kiss and the hunting
for the package of bonds, and Ruth's cry of joy, and the walk
through the starlight night to Corinne's, and the finding her
upstairs; except that the poor woman was not yet in bed.
"Who gave it to you, Jack?" Corinne asked in a tired voice.
"A friend of Uncle Peter's."
"You mean Mr. Grayson?"
There was no outburst, no cry of gratitude, no flood of long-pent-
up tears. The storm had so crushed and bruised this plant that
many days must elapse before it would again lift its leaves from
"It was very good of Mr. Grayson, Jack," was all she said in
answer, and then relapsed into the apathy which had been hers
since the hour when the details of her husband's dishonesty had
dropped from his lips.
Poor girl! she had no delusions to sustain her. She knew right
from wrong. Emotions never misled her. In her earlier years she
and her mother had been accustomed to look things squarely in the
face, and to work out their own careers; a game of chance, it is
true, until her mother's marriage with the elder Breen; but they
had both been honest careers, and they had owed no man a penny.
Garry had fought the battle for her within the last few years, and
in return she had loved him as much as she was able to love
anybody but she had loved him as a man of honor, not as a thief.
Now he had lied to her, had refused to listen to her pleadings,
and the end had come. What was there left, and to whom should she
now turn--she without a penny to her name--except to her
stepfather, who had insulted and despised her. She had even been
compelled to seek help from Ruth and Jack; and now at last to
accept it from Mr. Grayson--he almost a stranger. These were the
thoughts which, like strange nightmares, swept across her tired
brain, taking grewsome shapes, each one more horrible than its
At the funeral, next day, she presented the same impassive front.
Breen and her mother rode with her in the carriage to the church,
and Jack and Ruth helped her alight, but she might have been made
of stone so far as she evinced either sorrow or interest in what
was taking place about her. And yet nothing had been omitted by
friend or foe expressive of the grief and heart-felt sorrow the
occasion demanded. Holker Morris sent a wreath of roses with a
special letter to her, expressing his confidence in and respect
for the man he had brought up from a boy. A committee was present
from the Society of Architects to which Garry belonged; half a
dozen of his old friends from the Magnolia were present, Biffy
among them; the village Council and the Board of Church Trustees
came in a body, and even McGowan felt it incumbent upon him to
stand up during the service and assume the air of one who had been
especially bereft. Nor were the notices in the country and city
papers wanting in respect. "One of our most distinguished
citizens--a man who has reached the topmost round of the ladder,"
etc., etc., one editorial began.
It was only when the funeral was over, and she was once more at
home, that she expressed the slightest concern. Then she laid her
hand in Peter's and threw back her heavy crepe veil: "You have
saved me from disgrace, Mr. Grayson," she said, in a low,
monotonous voice, "and my little boy as well. I try to think that
Garry must have been out of his mind when he took the money. He
would not listen to me, and he would not tell me the truth. Jack
is going to pay it back to-morrow, and nobody will ever know that
my husband did wrong; but I couldn't let you go away without
thanking you for having saved us. My stepfather wouldn't help--
nobody would help but you. I don't know why you did it. It seems
so strange. I had given up all hope when Jack came back last
Peter sat perfectly still, his hand on her wrist, where he had
placed it to show by a kindly touch his sympathy for her. Not
knowing what her lips would tell, he had begun to pat the back of
her black glove when she started to speak, as one would quiet a
child who pours out its troubles, but he stopped in amazement as
she proceeded. He had not loaned her a dollar, nor had Jack, as he
knew, succeeded in getting a penny, unless by a miracle he had met
some one on the train who had come to his rescue.
What did the poor woman mean? Disgrace! Trouble! Garry taking
money, and Jack paying it back on Monday! The horror of her
husband's sudden death had undoubtedly turned her mind, distorting
some simple business transaction into a crime, or she would not be
thanking him for something that he had never done. This talk of
Jack's could only have been a ruse to keep up her spirits and give
her false strength until she had passed through the agonizing
ordeal of the funeral--he accepting all her delusions as true--as
one does when an insane person is to be coaxed back into a cell.
These thoughts went whirling through his mind, as Peter watched
her face closely, wondering what would be his course. He had not
met her often, yet he could see that she was terribly changed. He
noticed, too, that all through the interview she had not shed a
tear. Yes--there was no question that her mind was unbalanced. The
best plan would be to bring the interview to an end as quickly as
possible, so she should not dwell too long on her sorrow.
"If I have done anything to help you, my dear lady," he said with
gentle courtesy, rising from his chair and taking her hand again,
"or can do anything for you in the future, I shall be most happy,
and you must certainly let me know. And now, may I not ask you to
go upstairs and lie down. You are greatly fatigued--I assure you
I feel for you most deeply."
But his mind was still disturbed. Ruth and Jack wondered at his
quiet as he sat beside them on the way back to MacFarlane's--
gazing out of the carriage window, his clean-shaven, placid face
at rest, his straight thin lips close shut. He hardly spoke until
they reached the house, and then it was when he helped Ruth
alight. Once inside, however, he beckoned Jack, and without a word
led him alone into MacFarlane's study--now almost dismantled for
the move to Morfordsburg--and closed the door.
"Mrs. Minott has just told me the most extraordinary thing, Jack--
an unbelievable story. Is she quite sane?"
Jack scanned Peter's face and read the truth. Corinne had
evidently told him everything. This was the severest blow of all.
"She supposed you knew, sir;" answered Jack quietly, further
concealment now being useless.
"Knew what?" Peter was staring at him with wide-open eyes.
"What she told you, sir," faltered Jack.
The old man threw up his hands in horror.
"What! You really mean to tell me, Jack, that Minott has been
Jack bent his head and his eyes sought the floor. He could hardly
have been more ashamed had he himself been the culprit.
"God bless my soul! From whom?"
"The church funds--he was trustee. The meeting is to-morrow, and
it would all have come out."
A great light broke over Peter--as when a window is opened in a
darkened room in which one has bees stumbling.
"And you have walked the streets trying to beggar yourself, not to
help MacFarlane but to keep Minott out of jail!" Amazement had
taken the place of horror.
"He was my friend, sir--and there are Corinne and the little boy.
It is all over now. I have the money--that is, I have got
something to raise it on."
"Who gave it to you?" He was still groping, blinded by the
revelations, his gray eyes staring at Jack, his voice trembling,
beads of perspiration moistening his forehead.
"Isaac Cohen. He has given me ten Government bonds. They are in
that drawer behind you. He overheard what I said to you yesterday
about wanting some money, and was waiting for me when I went
downstairs. He gave them to me because he loved you, he said. I am
to give him my ore property as security, although I told him it
was of no value."
Peter made a step forward, stretching out a hand as if to steady
himself. His face grew white then suddenly flushed. His breath
seemed to have left him.
"And Cohen did this!" he gasped--"and you for Minott! Why--why--"
Jack caught him in his arms, thinking he was about to fall.
"No! No! I'm all right," he cried, patting Jack's shoulder. "It's
you!--you--YOU, my splendid boy! Oh!--how I love you!"
The following morning Jack walked into Arthur Breen's private
office while his uncle was reading his mail, and laid the package
containing the ten bonds on his desk. So far as their borrowing
capacity was concerned, he could have walked up the marble steps
of any broker's office or bank on either side of the street--that
is, wherever he was known, and he was still remembered by many of
them--thrust the package through the cashier's window, and walked
down again with a certified check for their face value in his
But the boy had other ends in view. Being human, and still
smarting under his uncle's ridicule and contempt, he wanted to
clear his own name and character; being loyal to his friend's
memory and feeling that Garry's reputation must be at least
patched up--and here in Breen's place and before the man who had
so bitterly denounced it; and being above all tender-hearted and
gallant where a woman, and a sorrowing one, was concerned, he must
give Corinne and the child a fair and square start in the house of
Breen, with no overdue accounts to vex her except such petty ones
as a small life insurance and a few uncollected commissions could
These much-to-be-desired results could only be attained when the
senior member of the firm was made acquainted with the fact that,
after all, Garry's debts could be paid and his reputation saved.
The money must, therefore, be borrowed of Arthur Breen & Co. His
uncle would know then beyond doubt; his axiom being that the only
thing that talked loud enough ever to make him listen was "money."
It was therefore with a sense of supreme satisfaction, interwoven
with certain suppressed exuberance born of freedom and self-
reliance, that Jack, in answer to Breen's "What's this?" when his
eyes rested on the bundle of bonds, replied in an off-hand but
entirely respectful manner:
"Ten United States Government bonds, sir; and will you please give
me a check drawn to my order for this amount?" and he handed the
astounded broker the slip of paper McGowan had given him, on which
was scrawled the total of the overdue vouchers.
Breen slipped off the rubber band, spread out the securities as a
lady opens a fan, noted the title, date, and issue, and having
assured himself of their genuineness, asked in a confused, almost
apologetic way, as he touched a bell to summon the cashier:
"Where did you get these? Did MacFarlane give them to you?"
"No--a friend," answered Jack casually, and without betraying a
trace of either excitement or impatience.
"On what?" snapped Breen, something of his old dictatorial manner
"On my word," replied Jack, with a note of triumph, which he could
not wholly conceal.
The door opened and the cashier entered. Breen handed him the
bonds, gave instructions about the drawing of the check, and
turned to Jack again. He was still suffering from amazement, the
boy's imperturbable manner being responsible for most of it.
"And does this pay Minott's debts?" he asked in a more
"Every dollar," replied Jack.
Breen looked up. Where had the boy got this poise and confidence,
he asked himself, as a flush of pride swept through him; after
all, Jack was of his own blood, his brother's son.
"And I suppose now that it's you who will be doing the walking
instead of Minott's creditors?" Breen inquired with a frown that
softened into a smile as he gazed the longer into Jack's calm
"Yes, for a time," rejoined Jack in the same even, unhurried
The clerk brought in the slip of paper, passed it to his employer,
who examined it closely, and who then affixed his signature.
"If you get any more of that kind of stuff and want help in the
new work, let me know."
"Thank you, sir," said Jack, folding up the precious scrap and
slipping it into his pocket.
Breen waited until Jack had closed the door, pulled from a pigeon-
hole a bundle of papers labelled Maryland Mining Company, touched
another button summoning his stenographer, and said in a low voice
"Yes, I have it! Something is going on in that ore property. I'll
write and find out."
The Board of Church Trustees met, as customary, on Monday night,
but there was no business transacted except the passing of a
resolution expressing its deep regret over the loss of "our
distinguished fellow-townsman, whose genius has added so much to
the beautifying of our village, and whose uprightness of character
will always be," etc., etc.
Neither Jack nor McGowan, nor any one representing their
interests, was present. A hurried glance over Garry's check and
bank-books showed that the money to pay McGowan's vouchers--the
exact sum--had been drawn from the fund and deposited to Garry's
personal credit in his own bank in New York. Former payments to
McGowan had been made in this way. There was therefore no proof
that this sum had been diverted into illegitimate channels.
McGowan was paid that same Monday afternoon, Jack bringing the
papers to the contractor's office, where they were signed in the
presence of Murphy and his clerk.
And so the matter was closed, each and every one concerned being
rejoiced over the outcome.
"Mr. Minott (it was 'Mr.' now) had a big stack of money over at
his stepfather's bank," was Murphy's statement to a group around a
table in one of the bar-rooms of the village. "He was in a big
deal, so Mac thinks, and didn't want to haul any of it out. So
when he died Mr. Breen never squawked--just went over and told the
old man that Mac wanted the money and to fork out; and he did,
like a good one. I seen the check, I tell ye. Oh! they're all in
together. Mr. Breen's kin to them New York folks, and so is Mrs.
Minott. He's her father, I hear. I think Mac shot off his mouth
too quick, and I told him so, but he was so het up he couldn't
keep still. Why, them fellers has got more money than they can
throw away. Mac sees his mistake now. Heard him tell Mr. Breen
that Mr. Minott was the whitest man he ever knowed; and you bet
yer life he's right."
Nor was Murphy's eulogium the only one heard in the village.
Within a week after the funeral a committee was appointed to
gather funds for the placing of a stained-glass window in the new
church in memory of the young architect who had designed and
erected it; with the result that Holker Morris headed the
subscription list, an example which was followed by many of the
townspeople, including McGowan and Murphy and several others of
their class, as well as various members of the Village Council,
together with many of Garry's friends in New York, all of which
was duly set forth in the county and New York papers; a fact which
so impressed the head of the great banking firm of Arthur Breen &
Co. that he immediately sent his personal check for a considerable
amount, desiring, as he stated at a club dinner that same night,
to pay some slight tribute to that brilliant young fellow, Minott,
who, you know, married Mrs. Breen's daughter--a lovely girl,
brought up in my own house, and who has now come home again to
live with us.
Peter listened attentively while Jack imparted these details, a
peculiar smile playing about the corners of his eyes and mouth,
his only comment at the strangeness of such posthumous honors to
such a man, but he became positively hilarious when Jack reached
that part in the narrative in which the head of the house of Breen
figured as chief contributor.
"And you mean to tell me, Jack," he roared, "that Breen has pushed
himself into poor Minott's stained-glass window, with the saints
and the gold crowns, and--oh, Jack, you can't be serious!"
"That's what the Rector tells me, sir."
"But, Jack--forgive me, my boy, but I have never in all my life
heard anything so delicious. Don't you think if Holker spoke to
the artist that Mr. Iscariot, or perhaps the estimable Mr.
Ananias, or Mr. Pecksniff, or Uriah Heep might also be tucked away
in the background?" And with this the old fellow, in spite of his
sympathy for Jack and the solemnity of the occasion, threw back
his head and laughed so long and so heartily that Mrs. McGuffey
made excuse to enter the room to find out what it was all about.
With the subletting of Garry's house and the shipping of his
furniture--that which was not sold--to her step-father's house,
Jack's efforts on behalf of his dead friend and his family came to
a close. Ruth helped Corinne pack her personal belongings, and
Jack found a tenant who moved in the following week. Willing hands
are oftenest called upon, and so it happened that the two lovers
bore all the brunt of the domestic upheaval.
Their own packing had long since been completed; not a difficult
matter in a furnished house; easy always to Ruth and her father,
whose nomadic life was marked by constant changes. Indeed, the
various boxes, cases, crates, and barrels containing much of the
linen, china, and glass, to say nothing of the portieres, rugs and
small tables, and the whole of Ruth's bedroom furniture, had
already been loaded aboard a box car and sent on its way to
Morfordsburg, there to await the arrival of the joyous young girl,
whose clear brain and competent hands would bring order out of
chaos, no matter how desolate the interior and the environment.
For these dainty white hands with their pink nails and soft palms,
so wonderfully graceful over teapot or fan, could wield a broom or
even a dust-pan did necessity require. Ruth in a ball gown, all
frills and ruffles and lace, was a sight to charm the eye of any
man, but Ruth in calico and white apron, her beautiful hair piled
on top of her still more beautiful head; her skirts pinned up and
her dear little feet pattering about, was a sight not only for men
but for gods as well. Jack loved her in this costume, and so would
you had you known her. I myself, old and wrinkled as I am, have
never forgotten how I rapped at the wrong door one morning--the
kitchen door--and found her in that same costume, with her arms
bare to the elbows and covered with flour, where she had been
making a "sally lunn" for daddy. Nor can I forget her ringing
laugh as she saw the look of astonishment on my face, or my
delight when she ordered me inside and made me open the oven door
so that she could slide in the finished product without burning
The packing up of their own household impedimenta complete, there
came a few days of leisure--the first breathing spell that either
MacFarlane or Jack, or Ruth, too, for that matter, had had for
weeks. MacFarlane, in view of the coming winter--a long and
arduous one, took advantage of the interim and went south, to his
club, for a few days' shooting--a rare luxury for him of late
years. Jack made up his mind to devote every one of his spare
hours to getting better acquainted with Ruth, and that young
woman, not wishing to be considered either neglectful or selfish,
determined to sacrifice every hour of the day and as much of the
night as was proper and possible to getting better acquainted with
Jack; and the two had a royal time in the doing.
Jack, too, had another feeling about it all. It seemed to him that
he had a debt of gratitude--the rasping word had long since lost
its edge--to discharge; and that he owed her every leisure hour he
could steal from his work. He had spent days and nights in the
service of his friends, and had, besides, laid the burden of their
anxieties upon her. He would pay her in return twice as many days
of gladness to make up for the pain she had so cheerfully borne.
What could he do to thank her?--how discharge the obligation?
Every hour he would tell her, and in different ways--by his
tenderness, by his obedience to her slightest wish, anticipating
her every want--how much he appreciated her unselfishness, and how
much better, if that were possible, he loved her for her
sacrifice. Nor was there, when the day came, any limit to his
devotion or to her enjoyment. There were rides over the hills in
the soft September mornings--Indian summer in its most dreamy and
summery state; there were theatre parties of two and no more; when
they sat in the third row in the balcony, where it was cheaper,
and where, too, they wouldn't have to speak to anybody else. There
were teas in Washington Square, where nobody but themselves and
their hostess were present, as well as other unexpected outings,
in which all the rest of the world was forgotten.
The house, too, was all their own. Nobody upstairs; nobody
downstairs but the servants; even the emptiness of daddy's room,
so grewsome in the old days, brought a certain feeling of delight.
"Just you and me," as they said a dozen times a day to each other.
And then the long talks on that blessed old sofa with its
cushions--(what a wonderful old sofa it was, and how much it had
heard); talks about when she was a girl--as if she had ever passed
the age; and when he was a boy; and of what they both thought and
did in that blissful state of innocence and inexperience. Talks
about the bungalow they would build some day--that bungalow which
Garry had toppled over--and how it would be furnished; and whether
they could not persuade the landlord to sell them the dear sofa
and move it out there bodily; talks about their life during the
coming winter, and whether she should visit Aunt Felicia's--and if
so, whether Jack would come too; and if she didn't, wouldn't it be
just as well for Jack to have some place in Morfordsburg where he
could find a bed in case he got storm-bound and couldn't get back
to the cabin that same night. All kinds and conditions and sorts
of talks that only two lovers enjoy, and for which only two lovers
can find the material.
Sometimes she thought he might be too lonely and neglected at the
log-cabin. Then she would make believe she was going to ask daddy
to let them be married right away, insisting that two rooms were
enough for them, and that she herself would do the washing and
ironing and the cooking, at which Jack would laugh over the joy of
it all, conjuring up in his mind the pattern of apron she would
wear and how pretty her bare arms would be bending over the tub,
knowing all the time that he would no more have allowed her to do
any one of these things than he would have permitted her to chop
the winter's wood.
Most of these day dreams, plots, and imaginings were duly reported
by letter to Miss Felicia to see what she thought of them all. For
the dear lady's opposition had long since broken down. In these
letters Ruth poured out her heart as she did to no one except
Jack; each missive interspersed with asides as to how dear Jack
was, and how considerate, and how it would not be a very long time
before she would soon get the other half of the dear lady's laces,
now that daddy and Jack (the boy had been given an interest in the
business) were going to make lots of money on the new work--to
all of which Miss Felicia replied that love in a garret was what
might be expected of fools, but that love in a log-cabin could
only be practised by lunatics.
It was toward the close of this pre-honey-moon--it lasted only ten
days, but it was full moon every hour and no clouds--when, early
one morning--before nine o'clock, really--a night message was
handed to Jack. It had been sent to the brick office, but the
telegraph boy, finding that building closed and abandoned, had
delivered it to Mrs. Hicks, who, discovering it to be sealed,
forwarded it at once, and by the same hand, to the MacFarlane
house, known now to everybody as the temporary headquarters,
especially in the day time, of the young superintendent who was
going to marry the daughter--"and there ain't a nicer, nor a
better, nor a prettier."
On this morning, then, the two had planned a day in the woods back
of the hills; Ruth's mare was to be hooked up to a hired buggy,
and such comforts as a bucket of ice, lettuce sandwiches thin as
wafers, a cold chicken, a spirit lamp, teapot, and cups and
saucers, not to mention a big shawl for my sweetheart to sit on,
and another smaller one for her lovely shoulders when the cool of
the evening came on, were to be stowed away under the seat.
"That telegram is from Aunt Felicia, I know," said Ruth. "She has
set her heart on my coming up to Geneseo, but I cannot go, Jack. I
don't want to be a minute away from you."
Jack had now broken the seal and was scanning the contents.
Instantly his face grew grave.
"No--it's not from Aunt Felicia," he said in a thoughtful tone,
his eyes studying the despatch. "I don't know whom it's from; it
is signed T. Ballantree; I never heard of him before. He wants me
to meet him at the Astor House to-day at eleven o'clock. Some
business of your father's, I expect--see, it's dated Morfordsburg.
Too bad, isn't it, blessed--but I must go. Here, boy"--this to the
messenger, who was moving out of the door--"stop at the livery
stable as you go by and tell them I won't want the horse and
wagon, that I'm going to New York. All in a life-time, my
blessed--but I'm dreadfully sorry."
"And you MUST go? Isn't it mean, Jack--and it's such a lovely
"Yes--but it can't be helped. What are you going to do with the
sandwiches and chicken and things? And you had so much trouble
making them. And you will be lonely, too."
"Why, I shall keep them till you come back, and we'll have a
lovely feast at home," she said with a light laugh in her effort
to hide her feelings. "Oh, no, I shan't be lonely. You won't be
gone long, Jack, will you, dear?"
"I hope not." His mind must no longer rest on the outing. There
was work to do for Ruth as well as himself. His play time had come
to a sudden end; the bell had rung and recess was over. He looked
at his watch; there was just time to catch the train.
She followed him to the door and kissed her hand as he swung down
the path and through the gate, and watched him until he had
disappeared behind the long wall of the factory; then she went in,
put away the sandwiches and chicken, and the teapot and the cups
and saucers, and emptied the ice.
Yes, the day was spoiled, she said to herself--part of it anyway;
but the night would come, and with it Jack would burst in with
news of all he had seen and done, and they would each have an end
of the table; their last dinner in the old home, where everything
on which her eyes rested revived some memory of their happiness.
But then there would be other outings at Morfordsburg, and so what
mattered one day when there were so many left? And with this
thought her tears dried up and she began to sing again as she
busied herself about the house--bursting into a refrain from one
of the operas she loved, or crooning some of the old-time
melodies which her black mammy had taught her when a child.
But now for Jack and what the day held for him of wonders and
Some pessimistic wiseacre has said that all the dire and dreadful
things in life drop out of a clear sky; that it is the unexpected
which is to be feared, and that the unknown bridges are the ones
in which dangers lurk and where calamity is to be feared.
The optimistic Scribe bites his derisive thumb at such ominous
prophecies. Once in a while some rain does fall, and now and then
a roar of thunder, or sharp slash of sleet will split the air
during our journey through life, but the blue is always above, and
the clouds but drilting ships that pass and are gone. In and
through them all the warm, cheery sun fights on for joyous light
and happy endings, and almost always wins.
This time the unexpected took shape in the person of T.
Ballantree, from Morfordsburg--a plain, direct, straight-to-the-
point kind of a man, whom Jack found in the corridor of the Astor
House with his eyes on the clock.
"You are very prompt, Mr. Breen," he said in clear-cut tones, "so
am I. What I wanted to see you about is just this: You own some
ore property three miles east of the Maryland Mining Company's
lay-out. Am I right?"
"Yes, you are right," answered Jack with a comprehensive glance
which began at the speaker's black derby hat, traversed his suit
of store clothes, and ended in a pair of boots which still showed
some traces of yellow clay, as if their wearer had been
prospecting the day before.
"Are there any encumbrances on the property--any mortgages or
liens not yet recorded? I don't mean taxes; I find they have been
paid," continued Ballantree.
Jack shifted his seat so he could get a better view of the
speaker's face, and said in answer:
"Why do you ask?"
"Because," said the man with entire frankness, "we understand that
the Maryland Mining Company have an option on it. If that is so,
I'll stop where I am. We don't care to buck up against Breen &
"No," answered Jack, now convinced of the man's sincerity; "no--
it's free and clear except for a loan of ten thousand dollars held
by a friend, which can be paid off at any time."
Ballantree ducked his head in token of his satisfaction over the
statement and asked another question--this time with his eyes
straight on Jack.
"Is it for sale--now--for money?"
It was Jack's turn to focus his gaze. This was the first time any
one had asked that question in the memory of the oldest
"Well, that depends on what it is wanted for, Mr. Ballantree,"
laughed Jack. He had already begun to like the man. "And perhaps,
too, on who wants it. Is it for speculation?"
Ballantree laughed in return. "No--not a square foot of it. I am
the general manager of the Guthrie Steel Company with head-
quarters here in New York. We have been looking for mineral up in
that section of the State, and struck yours. I might as well tell
you that I made the borings myself."
"Are you an expert?" asked Jack. The way people searched his
title, examined his tax receipts and rammed hypodermics into his
property without permission was, to say the least, amusing.
"Been at it thirty years," replied Ballantree in a tone that
settled all doubt on the subject.
"It is a low-grade ore, you know," explained Jack, feeling bound
to express his own doubts of its value.
"No, it's a high-grade ore," returned Ballantree with some
positiveness; "that is, it was when we got down into it. But I'm
not here to talk about percentage--that may come in later. I came
to save Mr. Guthrie's time. I was to bring you down to see him if
you were the man and everything was clean, and if you'll go--and
I wouldn't advise you to stay away--I'll meet you at his office at
twelve o'clock sharp; there's his card. It isn't more than four
blocks from here."
Jack took the card, looked on both sides of it, tucked it in his
inside pocket, and said he would come, with pleasure. Ballantree
nodded contentedly, pulled a cigar from his upper breast pocket,
bit off one end, slid a match along his trousers until it burst
into flame, held it to the unbitten end until it was a-light, blew
out the blaze, adjusted his derby and with another nod to Jack--
and the magic words--"Twelve sharp"--passed out into Broadway.
Ten minutes later--perhaps five, for Jack arrived on the run--Jack
bounded into Peter's bank, and slipping ahead of the line of
depositors, thrust his overheated face into the opening. There he
gasped out a bit of information that came near cracking the
ostrich egg in two, so wide was the smile that overspread Peter's
"What--really! You don't say so! Telegraphed you? Who?"
"A Mr. Ballantree," panted Jack. "I have just left him at the
"I never heard of him. Look out, my boy--don't sign anything until
"Oh, he is only the general manager. It's a Mr. Guthrie--Robert A.
Guthrie--who wants it. He sent Mr. Ballantree."
"Robert Guthrie! The banker! That's our director; that's the man I
told you of. I gave him your address. Go and see him by all means
and tell him everything. Talk just as you would to me. One of the
best men in the Street. Not a crooked hair on his head, Jack.
Well--well--this does look like business."
"Pardon me, sir, one minute, if you please--" interpolated Peter
to an insistent depositor whom Jack in his impatience had crowded
out. "Now your book--thank you--And Jack"--this over the hat of
the depositor, his face a marvel of delight--"come to my rooms at
four--wait for me--I'll be there."
Out again and around the block; anything to kill time until the
precious hour should arrive. Lord!--how the minutes dragged. The
hands of the old clock of Trinity spire must be stuck together.
Any other day it would take him at least half an hour to walk up
Wall Street, down Broadway to the Battery and back again--now ten
minutes was enough. Would the minute hand never climb up the face
to the hour hand and the two get together at twelve, and so end
his impatience. He wished now he had telegraphed to Ruth not to
expect him until the late afternoon train. He thought he would do
it now. Then he changed his mind. No; it would be better to await
the result of his interview. Yet still the clock dragged on, and
still he waited for the magic hour. Ten minutes to twelve--five--
then twelve precisely--but by this time he was closeted inside Mr.
Guthrie's private office.
Peter also found the hours dragging. What could it all mean? he
kept asking himself as he handed back the books through his
window, his eyes wandering up to the old-fashioned clock. Robert
Guthrie the banker--a REAL banker--had sent for the boy--Guthrie,
who never made a too hurried move. Could it be possible that good
fortune was coming to Jack?--that he and Ruth--that--Ah! old
fellow, you nearly made a mistake with the amount of that check!
No--there was no use in supposing. He would just wait for Jack's
When he reached home he was still in the same overwrought, anxious
state--hoping against hope. When would the boy come? he asked
himself a hundred times as he fussed about his room, nipping off
the dead leaves from his geraniums, drawing the red curtains back;
opening and shutting the books, only to throw himself into his
chair at last. Should he smoke until four?--should he read? What a
fool he was making of himself! It was astonishing that one of his
age should be so excited over a mere business proposition--really
not a proposition at all, when he came to think of it--just an
ordinary question asked. He must compose himself. It was quite
absurd for him to go on this way. But would the boy NEVER come? It
was four o'clock now--or would be in ten minutes, and--and--
He sprang toward the door and caught the young fellow in his arms.
"Oh! such good news! Mr. Guthrie's bought the property!" roared
He had made one long spring from the sidewalk up three flights of
steps to the old-fashioned door, but he still had breath to gasp
the glad tidings.
"Yes--I am to sign the papers to-morrow. Oh!--Uncle Peter, I am
half crazy with delight!"
"Hurrah," shouted Peter. "HURRAH, I say! This IS good news! Well!
--Well!" He was still bending over him, his eyes blinking in his
joy, scurries of irradiating smiles chasing each other over his
face. Never had the old gentleman been in such a state.
"And how much, Jack?"
"Will there be enough to pay Isaac's ten thousand?"
"More!" Jack was nearly bursting, but he still held in.
"Twenty thousand?" This came timidly, fearing that it was too
much, and yet hoping that it might be true.
"More!" The strain on Jack was getting dangerous.
"Twenty-five thousand?" Peter's voice now showed that he was
convinced that this sum was too small.
"More! Go on, Uncle Peter! Go on!"
"Thirty-five thousand, Jack?" It was getting hot; certainly this
was the limit. Was there ever such luck?
"Yes!--and five thousand more! Forty thousand dollars and one-
fifth interest in the output! Just think what Ruth will say. I've
just sent her a telegram. Oh!--what a home-coming!"
And then, with Peter drawn up beside him, his face radiant and his
eyes sparkling with joy, he poured out the story of the morning.
How he had begun by telling Mr. Guthrie of his own and Mr.
MacFarlane's opinion of the property, as he did not want to sell
anything he himself considered worthless. How he had told him
frankly what Peter had said of his--Mr. Guthrie's--fairness and
honesty; how he was at work for his prospective father-in-law, the
distinguished engineer of whom Mr. Guthrie had no doubt heard--at
which the gentleman nodded. How this property had been given him
by his father, and was all he had in the world except what he
could earn; how he already owed ten thousand dollars and had
pledged the property as part payment, and how, in view of these
facts, he would take any sum over ten thousand dollars that Mr.
Guthrie would give him, provided Mr. Guthrie thought it was worth
"But I am buying, not selling, your land, young man," the banker
had said. "I know it, sir, and I am willing to take your own
figures," Jack replied--at which Mr. Guthrie had laughed in a
kindly way, and had then called in Mr. Ballantree and another man
how the three had then talked in a corner, and how he had heard
Mr. Guthrie say, "No, that is not fair--add another five thousand
and increase the interest to one-fifth"; whereupon the two men
went out and came back later with a letter in duplicate, one of
which Mr. Guthrie had signed, and the other which he, Jack,
signed--and here was Mr., Guthrie's letter to prove it. With this
Jack took out the document and laid it before Peter's delighted
eyes; adding that the deeds and Isaac's release were to be signed
in the morning, and that Mr. Guthrie had sent a special message by
him to the effect that he very much wished Mr. Grayson would also
be present when the final transfers would be signed and the money
Whereupon the Scribe again maintains--and he is rubbing his hands
with the joy of it all as he does it--that there was more
sunshine than clouds in this particular Unexpected, and that if
all the boys in the world were as frank and sincere as young Jack
Breen, and all the grown-ups as honest as old Robert Guthrie, the
REAL banker, the jails would be empty and the millennium knocking
at our doors.
Peter had drunk in every word of the story, bowing his head,
fanning out his fingers, or interrupting with his customary "Well,
well!" whenever some particular detail seemed to tend toward the
And then, the story over, there came the part that Peter never
forgot; that he has told me a dozen times, and always with the
same trembling tear under the eyelids, and the same quivering of
his lower lip.
Jack had drawn his chair nearer the old gentleman, and had thrown
one arm over the shoulder of his dearest friend in the world.
There was a moment's silence as they sat there, and then Jack
began. "There is something I want you to do for me, Uncle Peter,"
he said, drawing his arm closer till his own fresh cheek almost
touched the head of the older man. "Please, don't refuse."
"Refuse, my dear boy! I am too happy to-day to refuse anything.
Come, out with it."
"I am going to give you half of this money. I love you better than
any one in this world except Ruth, and I want you to have it."
Peter threw up his hands and sprang to his feet.
"What!--You want to--Why, Jack! Are you crazy! Me! My dear boy,
it's very lovely of you to wish to do it, but just think. Oh, you
dear Jack! No!--no, no!" He was beating the air now deprecatingly
with his outspread fingers as he strode around the room, laughing
short laughs in his effort to keep back the tears.
Jack followed him in his circuit, talking all the while, until he
had penned the old gentleman in a corner between the open desk and
"But, Uncle Peter--think what you have done for me! Do you suppose
for one moment that I don't know that it was you and not I who
sold the property? Do you think Mr. Guthrie would have added that
five thousand dollars to the price if he hadn't wanted to help you
as well as me?"
"Five thousand dollars, my dear Jack, is no more to Robert Guthrie
than a ferry ticket is to you or me. He gave you the full price
because you trusted to his honesty and told him the truth, and he
saw your inexperience."
"No--it was YOU he was thinking of, I tell you," protested Jack,
with eager emphasis. "He would never have sent Ballantree for me
had you not talked to him--and it has been so with everything
since I knew you. You have been father, friend, everybody to me.
You gave me Ruth and my work. Everything I am I owe to you. You
must--you SHALL have half of this money! Ruth and I can be
married, and that is all we want, and what is left I can put into
our new work to help Mr. MacFarlane. Please, Uncle Peter!--we will
both be so much happier if we know you share it with us." Here his
voice rose and a strain of determination rang through it. "And, by
George!--Uncle Peter, the more I think of it, the more I am
convinced that it is fair. It's yours--not mine. I WILL have it
that way--you are getting old, and you need it."
Peter broke into a laugh. It was the only way he could keep down
"What a dear boy you are, Jack," he said, backing toward the sofa
and regaining his seat. "You've got a heart as big as a house, and
I'm proud of you, but no--not a penny of your money. Think a
moment! Your father didn't leave the property to me--not any part
of it--he left it to you, you spendthrift! When I get too old to
work I am going up to Felicia's and pick out an easy-chair and sit
in a corner and dry up gradually and be laid away in lavender. No,
my lad, not a penny! Gift money should go to cripples and
hypochondriacs, not to spry old gentlemen. I would not take it
from my own father's estate when I was your age, and I certainly
won't take it now from you. I made Felicia take it all." Jack
opened his eyes. He had often wondered why Peter had so little and
she so much. "Oh, yes, nearly forty years ago! But I have never
regretted it since! And you must see how just it was, for there
wasn't enough for two, and Felicia was a woman. No--be very
careful of gift money, my boy, and be very careful, also, of too
much of anybody's money--even your own. What makes me most glad in
this whole affair is that Guthrie didn't give you a million--that
might have spoilt you. This is just enough. You and Ruth can start
square. You can help Henry--and you ought to, he has been mighty
good to you. And, best of all, you can keep at work. Yes--that's
the best part of it--that you can keep at work. Go right on as you
are; work every single day of your life, and earn your bread as
you have done ever since you left New York, and, one thing more,
and don't you ever forget it: Be sure you take your proper share
of fun and rest as you go. Eight hours' work, eight hours' play,
eight hours' sleep--that's the golden rule and the only one to
live by. Money will never get its grip on you if you keep this up.
This fortune hasn't yet tightened its fingers around your throat,
or you would never have come up here to give me half of it--and
never let it! Money is your servant, my boy, not your master. And
now go home and kiss Ruth for me, and tell her that I love her
dearly. Wait a moment. I will go with you as far as Isaac's. I am
going to tell him the good news. Then I'll have him measure me for
a coat to dance at your wedding."
And the Unexpecteds are not yet over. There was still another, of
quite a different character, about to fall--and out of another
clear sky, too--a sort of April-shower sky, where you get wet on
one side of the street and keep dry on the other. Jack had the dry
side this time, and went on his way rejoicing, but the head of the
house of Breen caught the downpour, and a very wet downpour it
It all occurred when Jack was hurrying to the ferry and when he
ran into the senior member of the firm, who was hurrying in the
"Ah, Jack!--the very man I wanted to see," cried Breen. "I was
going to write you. There's something doing up in that ore
country. Better drop in to-morrow, I may be able to handle it for
you, after all."
"I am sorry, sir, but it's not for sale," said Jack, trying to
smother his glee.
"Why?" demanded Breen bluntly.
"I have sold it to Mr. Robert Guthrie."
"Guthrie! The devil you say!--When?"
"To-day. The final papers are signed to-morrow. Excuse me, I must
catch my boat--" and away he went, his cup now brimming over,
leaving Breen biting his lips and muttering to himself as he gazed
"Guthrie!--My customer! Damn that boy--I might have known he would
land on his feet."
But Jack kept on home to his sweetheart, most of the way in the
Down in the little room all this time in the rear of the tailor's
shop the two old men sat talking. Peter kept nothing back; his
lips quivering again and another unbidden tear peeping over the
edge of his eyelid when he told of Jack's offer.
"A dear boy, Isaac--yes, a dear boy. He never thinks with his
head--only with his heart. Never has since I knew him. Impulsive,
emotional, unpractical, no doubt--and yet somehow he always wins.
Queer--very queer! He comes upstairs to me and I start out on a
fool's errand. He goes down to you, and you hand him out your
money. He gives it all away the next day, and then we have Guthrie
doubling the price. Queer, I tell you, Isaac--extraordinary,
that's what it is--almost uncanny."
The Jew threw away his cigar, rested his short elbows on the arms
of his chair, and made a basket of his hands, the tips of all his
"No, you are wrong, my good friend. It is not extraordinary and it
is not uncanny. It is very simple--exceedingly simple. Nobody
runs over a child if he can help it. Even a thief will bring you
back your pocket-book if you trust him to take care of it. It is
the trusting that does it. Few men, no matter how crooked, can
resist the temptation of reaching, if only for a moment, an honest
Peter's coat was finished in time for the wedding--trust Isaac
for that--and so was his double-breasted white waistcoat--he had
not changed the cut in twenty years; and so were his pepper-and-
salt trousers and all his several appointments, little and big,
even to his polka-dot scarf of blue silk, patent-leather shoes and
white gaiters. Quite the best-dressed man in the room, everybody
said, and they of all the people in the world should have known.
And the wedding!
And all that went before it, and all that took place on that
joyous day; and all that came after that happiest of events!
Ruth and Jack, with Peter's covert endorsement, had wanted to slip
into the village church some afternoon at dusk, with daddy and
Peter and Miss Felicia, and one or two more, and then to slip out
again and disappear. MacFarlane had been in favor of the old
Maryland home, with Ruth's grandmother in charge, and the
neighbors driving up in mud-encrusted buggies and lumbering
coaches, their inmates warmed by roaring fires and roaring
welcomes--fat turkeys, hot waffles, egg-nogg, apple-toddy, and the
rest of it. The head of the house of Breen expressed the opinion
(this on the day Jack gave his check for the bonds prior to
returning them to Isaac, who wouldn't take a cent of interest)
that the ceremony should by all means take place in Grace Church,
after which everybody would adjourn to his house on the Avenue,
where the wedding-breakfast would be served, he being nearest of
kin to the groom, and the bride being temporarily without a home
of her own--a proposition which, it is needless to say, Jack
declined on the spot, but in terms so courteous and with so grand
and distinguished an air that the head of the house of Breen found
his wonder increasing at the change that had come over the boy
since he shook the dust of the Breen home and office from his
The Grande Dame of Geneseo did not agree with any of these
makeshifts. There would be no Corklesville wedding if she could
help it, with gaping loungers at the church door; nor would there
be any Maryland wedding with a ten-mile ride over rough roads to a
draughty country-house, where your back would freeze while your
cheeks burned up; nor yet again any city wedding, with an awning
over the sidewalk, a red carpet and squad of police, with Tom,
Dick, and Harry inside the church, and Harry, Dick and Tom
squeezed into an oak-panelled dining-room at high noon with every
And she did not waste many seconds coming to this conclusion. Off
went a telegram, after hearing the various propositions, followed
by a letter, that might have melted the wires and set fire to the
mail-sack, so fervid were the contents.
"Nonsense! My dear Ruth, you will be married in my house and the
breakfast will be in the garden. If Peter and your father haven't
got any common sense, that's no reason why you and Jack should
lose your wits."
This, of course, ended the matter. No one living or dead had ever
been found with nerve enough to withstand Felicia Grayson when she
had once made up her mind.
And then, again, there was no time to lose in unnecessary
discussions. Were not Ruth and her father picnicking in a hired
villa, with half their household goods in a box-car at
Morfordsburg?--and was not Jack still living in his two rooms at
Mrs. Hicks's? The only change suggested by the lovers was in the
date of the wedding, Miss Felicia having insisted that it should
not take place until November, "FOUR WHOLE WEEKS AWAY." But the
old lady would not budge. Four weeks at least, she insisted, would
be required for the purchase and making of the wedding clothes,
which, with four more for the honeymoon (at this both Jack and
Ruth shouted with laughter, they having determined on a honeymoon
the like of which had never been seen since Adam and Eve went to
housekeeping in the Garden). These eight weeks, continued the
practical old lady, would be required to provide a suitable home
for them both; now an absolute necessity, seeing that Mr. Guthrie
had made extensive contracts with MacFarlane, which, with Jack's
one-fifth interest in the ore banks was sure to keep Jack and
MacFarlane at Morfordsburg for some years to come.
So whizz went another telegram--this time from Jack--there was no
time for letters these days--stopping all work on the nearly
completed log cabin which the poor young superintendent had
ordered, and which was all he could afford, before the sale of the
ore lands. But then THAT seemed ages and ages ago.
"Don't tell me what I want, sir," roared Mr. Golightly at the
waiter, in "Lend Me Five Shillings," when he brought a crust of
bread and cheese and a pickle with which to entertain Mrs. Phobbs;
Golightly in the meantime having discovered a purse full of
sovereigns in the coat the waiter had handed him by mistake.
"Don't tell me what I said, sir. I know what I said, sir! I said
champagne, sir, and plenty of it, sir!--turkeys, and plenty of
them! Burgundy--partridges--lobsters--pineapple punch--pickled
salmon--everything! Look sharp, Be off!" (Can't you hear dear Joe
Jefferson's voice, gentle reader, through it all?)
And now listen to our proud Jack, with the clink of his own gold
in his own pocket.
"What did you say? A six by nine log hut, with a sheet-iron stove
in one corner and a cast-iron bedstead in another, and a board
closet, and a table and two chairs--and this, too, for a princess
of quality and station? Zounds, sirrah!--" (Holker Morris was the
"Sirrah")--"I didn't order anything of the kind. I ordered a
bungalow all on one floor--that's what I ordered--with a boudoir
and two bedrooms, and an extra one for my honored father-in-law,
and still another for my thrice-honored uncle, Mr. Peter Grayson,
when he shall come to stay o' nights; and porches front and back
where my lady's hammock may be slung: and a fireplace big enough
to roll logs into as thick around as your body and wide enough to
warm every one all over; and a stable for my lady's mare, with a
stall for my saddle-horse. Out upon you, you Dago!"
Presto, what a change! Away went the completed roof of the modest
cabin and down tumbled the sides. More post-holes were dug; more
trenches excavated; more great oaks toppled over to be sliced into
rafters, joists and uprights; more shingles--two carloads; more
brick; more plaster; more everything, including nails, locks,
hinges, sash; bath-tubs--two; lead pipe, basins, kitchen range--
and so the new bungalow was begun.
Neither was there any time to be lost over the invitations. Miss
Felicia, we may be sure, prepared the list. It never bothered her
head whether the trip to Geneseo--and that, too, in the fall of
the year, when early snows were to be expected--might prevent any
of the invited guests from witnessing the glad ceremony. Those who
loved Ruth she knew would come even if they had to be accompanied
by St. Bernard dogs with kegs of brandy tied to their necks to get
them across the glaciers, including Uncle Peter, of course; as
would also Ruth's dear grandmother, who was just Miss Felicia's
age, and MacFarlane's saintly sister Kate, who had never taken off
her widow's weeds since the war, and two of her girl friends, with
whom Ruth went to school, and who were to be her bridesmaids.
Then there were those who might or might not struggle through the
drifts, if there happened to be any--the head of the house of
Breen, for instance, and Mrs. B., and lots and lots of people of
whom Jack had never heard, aunts and uncles and cousins by the
dozens; and lots and lots of people of whom Ruth had never heard,
of the same blood relationship; and lots more of people from
Washington Square and Murray Hill, who loved the young people, and
Peter, and his outspoken sister, all of whom must be invited to
the ceremony; including the Rector and his wife from Corklesville,
and--(no--that was all from Corklesville) together with such
selected inhabitants of Geneseo as dame Felicia permitted inside
of her doors. As for the several ambassadors, generals, judges,
dignitaries, attaches, secretaries, and other high and mighty
folks forming the circle of Miss Felicia's acquaintance, both here
and abroad, they were only to receive "announcement" cards, just
as a reminder that Miss Grayson of Geneseo was still in and of the
The hardest nut of all to crack was given to Jack. They had all
talked it over, the dear girl saying "of course he shall come,
Jack, if you would like to have him." Jack adding that he should
"never forget his generosity," and MacFarlane closing the
discussion by saying:
"Go slow, Jack. I'd say yes in a minute. I am past all those
foolish prejudices, but it isn't your house, remember. Better ask
Peter--he'll tell you."
Peter pursed his mouth when Jack laid the matter before him in
Peter's room the next day, tipped his head so far on one side that
it looked as if it might roll off any minute and go smash, and
with an arching of his eyebrows said:
"Well, but why NOT invite Isaac? Has anybody ever been as good to
"Never any one, Uncle Peter--and I think as you do, and so does
Ruth and Mr. MacFarlane, but--" The boy hesitated and looked away.
"But what?" queried Peter.
"Well--there's Aunt Felicia. You know how particular she is; and
she doesn't know how splendid Mr. Cohen has been, and if he came
to the wedding she might not like it."
"But Felicia is not going to be married, my boy," remarked Peter,
with a dry smile wrinkling the corners of his eyes.
Jack laughed. "Yes--but it's her house."
"Yes--and your wedding. Now go down and ask Mr. Cohen yourself.
You'll send him a card, of course, but do more than that. Call on
him personally and tell you want him to come, and why--and that I
want him, too. That will please him still more. The poor fellow
lives a great deal alone. Whether he will come or not, I don't
know--but ask him. You owe it to yourself as much as you do to
"And you don't think Aunt Felicia will--"
"Hang Felicia! You do what you think is right; it does not matter
what Felicia or anybody else thinks."
Jack wheeled about and strode downstairs and into the back room
where the little man sat at his desk looking over some papers.
Isaac's hand was out and he was on his feet before Jack had
reached his side.
"Ah!--Mr. Millionaire. And so you have come to tell me some more
good news. Have you sold another mine? I should have looked out to
see whether your carriage did not stop at my door; and now sit
down and tell me what I can do for you. How well you look, and how
happy. Ah, it is very good to be young!"
"What you can do for me is this, Mr. Cohen. I want you to come to
our wedding--will you? I have come myself to ask you," said Jack
in all sincerity.
"So! And you have come yourself." He was greatly pleased; his face
showed it. "Well, that is very kind of you, but let me first
congratulate you. Yes--Mr. Grayson told me all about it, and how
lovely the young lady is. And now tell me, when is your wedding?"
"And where will it be?"
"At Uncle Peter's old home up at Geneseo."
"Oh, at that grand lady's place--the magnificent Miss Grayson."
"Yes, but it is only one night away. I will see that you are taken
The little man paused and toyed with the papers on his desk. His
black, diamond-pointed eyes sparkled and an irrepressible smile
hung around his lips.
"Thank you very much, Mr. Breen--and thank your young lady too.
You are very kind and you are very polite. Yes--I mean it--very
polite. And you are sincere in what you say; that is the best of
all. But I cannot go. It is not the travelling at night--that is
nothing. You and your lady would be glad to see me and that would
be worth it all, but the magnificent Miss Grayson, she would not
be glad to see me. You see, my dear young man"--here the smile got
loose and scampered up to his eyelids--"I am a most unfortunate
combination--oh, most unfortunate--for the magnificent Miss
Grayson. If I was only a tailor I might be forgiven; if I was just
a Jew I might be forgiven; but when I am both a tailor and a Jew--
"here the irrepressible went to pieces in a merry laugh--"don't
you see how impossible it is? And you--you, Mr. Breen! She would
never forgive you. 'My friend, Mr. Cohen,' you would have to say,
and she could do nothing. She must answer that she is most glad to
see me--or she might NOT answer, which would be worse. And it is
not her fault. You can't break down the barriers of centuries in a
day. No--no--I will not compromise you in that way. Let me come to
see you some time when it is all over, when your good uncle can
come too. He will bring me; perhaps. And now give my best respects
to the lady--I forget her name, and say to her for me, that if she
is as thoughtful of other people as you are, you deserve to be a
very happy couple."
Jack shook the little man's hand and went his way. He was sorry
and he was glad. He was also somewhat ashamed in his heart. It was
not altogether himself who had been thoughtful of other people.
But for Peter, perhaps, he might never have paid the visit.
As the blissful day approached Geneseo was shaken to its centre,
the vibrations reaching to the extreme limits of the town. Not
only was Moggins who drove the village 'bus and tucked small
packages under the seat on the sly, overworked, but all the
regular and irregular express companies had to put on extra teams.
Big box, little box, band box, bundle, began to pour in, to say
nothing of precious packages that nobody but "Miss Grayson" could
sign for. And then such a litter of cut paper and such mounds of
pasteboard boxes poked under Miss Felicia's bed, so she could
defend them in the dead of night, and with her life if necessary,
each one containing presents, big and little; the very biggest
being a flamboyant service of silver from the head of the house of
Breen and his wife, and the smallest a velvet-bound prayer-book
from Aunt Kate with inter-remembrances from MacFarlane (all the
linen, glass, and china); from Peter (two old decanters with
silver coasters); from Miss Felicia (the rest of her laces,
besides innumerable fans and some bits of rare jewelry); besides
no end of things from the Holker Morrises and the Fosters and
dozens of others, who loved either Ruth or Jack, or somebody whom
each one or both of them loved, or perhaps their fathers and
mothers before them. The Scribe has forgotten the list and the
donors, and really it is of no value, except as confirmation of