Part 3 out of 4
beard, and he carried himself with an indescribable air of being somebody
at whom it was worth while to look twice.
"Did you see the new man on the beach, this morning?" Allyn asked, at
dinner, that noon.
"The new man, when there are new men here, every day in the week!"
Theodora's tone was one of amusement.
"Evidently you didn't see him, or you'd speak with more respect. He was a
duke in disguise, at the very least."
"Do you mean the man with the Frenchy beard, and his nose in the air?"
Cicely asked, with scant respect for the stranger's ducal appearance.
"Yes. Who was he?"
"I don't know. He acted as if he did the beach a favor in even
looking at it."
"He didn't look that way at Babe," Allyn remarked, with a chuckle. "I
thought sure he was going to applaud her, when she came stalking down
"Babe does take the beach a good deal after the manner of Lady Macbeth,"
Lilly observed. "Where was your man, Allyn? I didn't see any titled
strangers of my acquaintance."
"He was just back of the Whitmans' awning for a long time. After that, he
came down to Mr. Drayton and talked to him. I didn't see him speak to
anybody else, though."
"Oh," Hubert said suddenly; "I know the man you mean, Allyn. There is a
good deal of him, too. Sam Asquith told me he had just come to the hotel.
He is a composer and hails from New York."
"What is his name?" Theodora asked rather indifferently.
"Oh!" There was a clatter, as Cicely dropped her knife and fork and
clasped her hands in ecstasy. "Really?"
"Is it so painful as all that, Cis?" Allyn inquired.
"Pain! It's utter rapture. I've always felt that, if I could just once
look at Gifford Barrett, I could die happy. Do you know who he is, you
The others owned up to their mental darkness; but Theodora said
"Seems to me I met him once. The name is half-way familiar."
"Half-way familiar! I should rather say it was."
"Who is he, anyway?" Allyn demanded.
"Who? Why, he wrote the _Alan Breck Overture_."
"Allyn! When I have played it on an average of twice a day, ever since I
came here! Haven't you any ears?"
"Not for your kind of music," Allyn returned bluntly. "I want a little
tune in mine."
"Who is the man?" Billy asked. "Is he really of any account, Cis?"
"I should think he was. Mr. Paulson, my teacher in New York, said he is
the greatest American composer," she returned triumphantly.
"A genuine lion, not a duke," Hubert observed. "But I thought composers
always wore their hair in flowing ringlets, Cicely. This man is too well
groomed to be really inspired."
Theodora laughed suddenly.
"Hu, you remind me of Mrs. Benson. The day after I came, she asked me
whether Miss Greenway didn't write books; she thought all people who
wrote books were generally a little untidy."
"Did you enlighten her?"
"I couldn't, for I had just ripped my jacket sleeve open for more than
two inches. 'Twas made with one of those insidious one-thread machines,
and I tried to pull out a loose stitch. Since then, she has avoided the
subject of Miss Greenway, and I have spent a good share of my energy in
mending the more visible portions of my attire. I didn't know before that
the eyes of the world were upon us, as upon a peculiar people."
But Cicely had returned to the charge.
"Cousin Hubert, how long is he going to be here?"
"I'm sure I don't know."
"Who is he here to see?"
"Nobody, apparently, unless his own fair face," Billy answered
"Cousin Ted, did you say you knew him?"
"I'm not sure; but it seems to me I met him once."
"Oh, I do hope so. I want just once to meet him and hear him talk."
"Even if his voice has a falsetto crack in it?" Billy inquired.
"Even if he's--dumb!" Cicely's climax was lost in a burst of laughter, in
the midst of which she fled from the table.
"Never you mind!" she proclaimed from the doorway. "I'll find a way to
meet him yet. You needn't laugh at me, either, for you're every one of
you hero-worshippers, if you'd only own it." Then she crossed over to the
piazza of Valhalla, where Phebe was drying her hair in the sunshine.
Phebe received the great news disdainfully.
"Oh, that man!" she said, with something that came dangerously near to
being a sniff. "I saw him. After most of the people were gone, he came
down and went into the water."
"Really?" Cicely's tone was rapt. "I wish I'd seen him. How did he look?"
"Atrocious. He is bow-legged, and he wore a rose-colored suit. Against
the green of the waves, he looked like a huge pink wishbone."
"Did he swim beautifully?"
Phebe shook her hair back from her shoulders.
"Like a merman," she said; "a forsaken merman with the gout."
"Well, if you must know the truth, the abject, literal truth, he hung his
clothes on a hickory limb, as far as going near the water was concerned.
He waded in up to his ankles and stood there, shivering, shivering a day
like this! Then he trotted back and forth a few times and went back to
the bathhouse again without letting a wave touch him. Booby! If he played
golf, he would probably get his caddie to take him around the links in a
wheelbarrow. I do hope I shall have the pleasure of seeing the creature
get boiled." And, with a final flirt of her hair, she marched away into
For the next week, Cicely stalked her lion patiently, warily and in vain.
Gifford Barrett had come down to Quantuck, firmly resolved that on no
conditions would he consent to be lionized. His six weeks in Maine had
been all that he could endure. He had at last come to the wise conclusion
that his talent, if he had any, belonged to himself and his work, and was
not to be spread out thin on biscuits and served up at afternoon teas. He
had fled from Maine and from his admiring friends in a mood dangerously
near to disgust. His nostrils were tired of incense. He wished ozone,
unflavored with anything whatsoever. The symptom was a healthy one and
portended good things for the future. Meanwhile, it led him to choose a
resort where he knew no one, where he himself was unknown, and where he
could be as independent as he liked.
During the first week of his stay, he accomplished his ends. He went his
own way at his own times; he ignored the many inviting glances cast in
his direction; he talked only to the bathing master, the native
fishermen and the waiter at his table. With observant eyes, he took in
the least details of his surroundings; but he did it in an unseeing
fashion that completely misled the members of the summer colony who
discussed him largely under their awnings and wrangled solemnly over the
important question as to whether he was surly, or only shy.
On his side, Gifford Barrett was gaining considerable amusement from the
morning conventions on the beach. As a general thing, he only watched the
people in groups, and entertained himself with making shrewd guesses as
to the probable relationships existing in those groups. Only two
individuals made distinct impressions upon him. One of these was the
tall, lithe girl in the black suit, who walked as well as she swam; the
other was also a girl, but younger and less good-looking, and Gifford
Barrett found himself wondering how she could possibly be in so many
places at once. He appeared to be always falling over her, always coming
upon her path, on the cliff, on the moors, at the tiny post office where
it seemed to him that he spent half of his time waiting for the leisurely
distribution of the mails to be completed. She usually wore a grey
bicycle suit, and she was invariably attended by a small grey dog who
took unwarrantable liberties, in the post office, with people's trouser
legs and even had been known to whet his teeth on the softer portions of
umbrellas. To tell the truth, he paid more attention to the dog than he
did to the girl; and he was utterly unconscious of the expression of glee
that crossed Cicely's face, one day, when he exclaimed,--
"Get out, you small brute!" and accompanied the words with a pettish
little kick which reduced the dog to a yelping frenzy.
On one other occasion Cicely had been conscious of penetrating to the
nerve centres of her hero; although, fortunately for her peace of mind,
she did not know the exact way in which she had accomplished the feat.
Early one morning, Mr. Barrett had been strolling along the road nearest
the edge of the cliff when as if by chance, there had floated down upon
his astonished ears, a high girlish voice singing the second theme of his
_Alan Breck Overture_. For a moment, his lips had curled into a
complacent little smile; the next minute, he had sucked in his breath
sharply between his clenched teeth. In her excitement, Cicely had
mistaken her distance; she had flatted by a full half-tone the final
upper note, reducing the tonal climax of the overture to the level of a
A few days later, however, Cicely was destined to make an impression
upon something besides the nerve centres of her hero. As a rule, Mr.
Barrett took his baths at odd hours, either going to the beach in the
early morning, or else delaying until the rest of the world was at the
noon dinner which it sought ravenously, the moment it left the beach.
On this particular day, however, his watch apparently had played him
false, and he came down upon the sand just as the throng of bathers was
at its height. In the eyes of Dragons' Row, he immediately became an
object of derision, for it was as Phebe had said, there was certainly
no doubt whatever of his being extremely bow-legged, and, strong and
powerful as he looked, he kept himself well away from the shock of the
After his wonted fashion, he paddled about in the edge of the water for a
few moments, then turned to walk back to the shore. The next moment
proved to be his undoing. Unconscious for the once of his appearing,
Cicely had been swimming back and forth just outside the line of surf;
then borne on the crest of a wave higher by far than any of its fellows
had been, she came floating towards the beach. She landed on her feet as
usual; but the wave, heavier than she expected, swept her off her balance
and sent her sliding up the sand, straight against the retreating heels
of her hero. There were two hurried exclamations, there was a splash;
then the backward flow caught them, pulled them down and they reached the
line of breakers again just in time to be boiled sociably together in the
next in coming wave.
Gifford Barrett shook the water from his eyes and rubbed his right arm a
little anxiously, as he staggered to his feet again. Cicely had fled to
Allyn's side, and the young man nodded curtly to her as he stalked back
to the shore. At the water's edge, he was greeted with a voice which
sounded strangely familiar to his ears.
"How do you do? Vat was ve time you got boiled; wasn't it?"
No childish voice ever fell unheeded on Gifford Barrett's ears. The
stoutest spot in his mental armor yielded to the touch of small fingers,
and some of his best comradeships had been with tiny boys and girls. Now,
in an instant, all his sense of injured dignity fell away from him, and
the watchers under the awnings wondered at the sudden kindliness in his
face, as he grasped Mac's pudgy fist.
"Why, Mac, who ever dreamed of seeing you here, old man!"
"I live here now," Mac said gravely; "me and my mamma and everybody,
"I thought you lived in Helena."
"Not now. We like it better here; it's so funny to sit in ve sand and
build pies. Can you build pies?"
"Yes, and forts."
Mac fell to prancing delightedly, quite regardless of the havoc his small
shoes were creating among the bare toes of his companion.
"Oh, can you? Truly, no joking? Make me one now."
"Mac!" The call came from the nearest awning.
"Vat's mamma," Mac said. "She wants us. Come." And he tugged at Gifford
"Not just now, old man."
"Come. Aunt Teddy's vere, and all ve rest. Come."
"Mac!" This time, the voice was more decided.
"Yes, mamma; but he won't come."
"Mac, come here at once."
There was a brief skirmish; then as usual, Mac conquered, and Gifford
Barrett was led, an unwilling victim, to the awning where sat Mac's
mother, beyond her a serried rank of Mac's relatives and, beyond them
all, a tall girl in a black suit who watched him with dancing eyes.
The situation was not an easy one. It was Theodora who relieved it.
"Isn't this Mr. Gifford Barrett?" she asked, rising to meet him with the
easy dignity which she assumed at times and which made her husband feel
so proud of her. "You may not remember me, Mrs. Farrington; but I think I
met you in New York, two years ago, at a dinner that Mrs. Goodyear gave."
And, as she spoke, Theodora was distinctly grateful for the accident
which had left a dozen old letters in the tray of her trunk.
With a grave courtesy all his own, Gifford Barrett went through the
trying ordeal of an introduction in his bathing suit. Even Phebe was
forced to admit that he was well-bred, while, in the distance, Cicely
capered about madly, half in rapture that the desired meeting had taken
place, half in rage that she could not with dignity annex herself to the
group. For one short, ecstatic moment, she held her breath; then she
vented her feelings by plunging headlong into the next wave and swimming
off as fast as she could. Instead of making his bow and then beating the
decorous retreat of an eccentric recluse, Mr. Gifford Barrett, the
composer of the _Alan Breck Overture_, had deposited his tall form in his
rose-colored bathing suit on the sand at Theodora's feet.
"No; I thought I wouldn't go in to-day," she said. "I don't care very
much about it, when the surf is running so high."
"Your sister doesn't seem to mind any amount of surf," Mr. Barrett said,
glancing at Phebe.
Coming nearer him, one saw that his brown eyes were frank and kindly,
that his face was attractive when he smiled. Theodora liked him
unreservedly; she even began to remember him a little, in a vague sort
of way, and she hoped that Phebe would be in one of her more lenient
moods. In vain.
"Yes, I like to swim," Phebe said briefly.
"Evidently, for no one could swim as you do, without enjoying it," Mr.
Barrett observed, with an enthusiasm which was almost boyish.
"Mr. Drayton swims magnificently, and he hates it."
"Is this your first season here at Quantuck?"
Under cover of her gown Theodora gave Phebe a furtive poke. Phebe turned
abruptly and stared at her.
"Well?" she asked.
"Well what?" Theodora said, with a smile.
"What did you want? You poked me; didn't you?"
"I beg your pardon. Did I hit you? I get stiff with so long sitting
still. Is Quantuck an old ground of yours, Mr. Barrett?"
"No; I am a stranger here. Your little nephew is the first friendly face
I have seen."
"I hope you will be neighborly at the Lodge, then. It is just on the edge
of the bluff, and the latch-string is always out. So are we, for that
matter. We spend most of our time down here, all of us but Phebe. She
infests the golf links."
"You are a golf enthusiast, then Miss McAlister?"
"Yes. Aren't you?"
"No; not just now, at least. Have they good links here?"
"Very." Phebe rose as she spoke.
"Where are you going, Babe?" Hope asked.
"Down to take one more plunge, then back to the house. I'm going out
early this afternoon, and I must be ready."
Theodora's next remark fell upon empty ears. Gifford Barrett was watching
Phebe as she went away, admiring her tall, lithe figure, her well-set
head, and wondering why in the name of all that was musical this girl
should snub him so roundly. He searched his mind in vain for some just
cause of personal offence; he could not realize that, in Phebe's present
state of mind, there was no interest at all for her in a man who could
neither swim nor play golf, and that it was characteristic of Phebe
McAlister never to hide her feelings. Meanwhile, it was the first time in
his life that he had been snubbed by any girl, and he found the
experience novel, interesting and by no means satisfactory. As he left
the awning and strolled away up the beach, he was resolving that incense
and solitude should give way to snubbing. He would see more, much more of
this taciturn young woman, force her to talk and, if possible, undermine
her antipathy to himself.
Unhappily for Gifford Barrett, however, his conceit was playing him
false. Phebe felt no antipathy to him, none whatever; she was only
completely indifferent to the very fact of his existence, and she went
round the links, that afternoon with a healthy forgetfulness of the
fact that she had ever set eyes upon the tall person of the greatest
"Papa," Allyn said bravely; "I'd like to have a talk with you, before the
day is over."
Dr. McAlister looked up in surprise, for the boy's tone was weighted with
meaning. During the two or three weeks that they had spent at the shore,
Dr. McAlister had been congratulating himself upon the change in his
young son. Allyn had seemed brighter, happier, more like the normal boy
of his age, and his father had been hoping that some mental crisis was
past, that the old moodiness had vanished. For the last day or two,
however, Allyn's face had been overcast, and the doctor's anxiety had
returned to him once more. Nevertheless, there was no trace of this in
his voice, as he answered,--
"I wanted to go for a drive on the moors, this afternoon, and I had
wondered whether I could get somebody to go with me. Will you be ready,
right after dinner?"
Down on the beach, that morning, there was a general question about Allyn
and Cicely; but neither of them put in an appearance. Cicely, indeed,
had been ready to start for the awning; but she saw Allyn going towards
the road, and she ran after him to ask whither he was bound.
"Just for a walk, out to Kidd's Treasure or somewhere."
"Who with?" she demanded, regardless of grammar.
She looked into his face inquiringly.
"Anything wrong, Allyn?"
He shook his head.
"Why don't you come down to the beach?"
"Don't want to. Cis, I'm going to have it out with my father, this
She nodded slowly.
"Yes, you may as well. It's about time."
He turned away and started down the narrow road through the town. She
stood looking after him for a moment; then she called,--
"Mayn't I go, too, Allyn?"
"If you want to. I sha'n't be back in time for the bathing hour, though,"
he answered; but his eyes belied the scant cordiality of his words.
For more than an hour, they sat on the high bluff that juts seaward at
the south of the town. On the one hand, the sea stretched away, its deep
sapphire blue only broken by the diagonal white line that marked the
rips; on the other were the treeless moors looking in the changing lights
like a vast expanse of pinkish brown plush. Directly at their feet, the
little bowl of Kidd's Pond lay among its rushes like a turquoise ringed
about with malachite; beyond it was the grey village, and beyond again,
the lighthouse whose tall white tower by day and whose flashing light at
night are the beacons which seem to welcome the wanderers of the summer
colony, whenever their steps are turned back to Quantuck.
At length, Cicely rose to her feet.
"We must go, Allyn. Here is the noon train now, and we shall be late
But the boy did not stir. He sat with his elbows on his knees, his chin
resting on the back of his clasped fingers, while his eyes followed the
slow approach of the primitive little Quantuck train. Cicely waited for a
moment. Then she came back to his side once more and dropped down on the
coarse moorland grass.
"Allyn," she said gravely; "it isn't always easy to know what to do; at
least, I don't think it is. The future seems so far off, when we try to
plan about it. But papa used to tell me that, as long as I did the next
thing in order and did it hard and carefully, without trying to save
myself any work or to sneak, the rest of things would take care of
themselves. It sounds pretty prosy; but I rather think after all it may
be true. It is a good deal more romantic to plan what great things we'll
do when we are grown up; but I never noticed that planning helped on
much. When I began on my music, I used to dream lots of dreams about the
concerts I'd give; but all the good it did was to make me lose count in
my exercises, so I gave up dreaming and took to scales instead, and then
I began to get on a little better." She paused for a minute; then she
went on gayly, "And the moral of that is, stop worrying and come home to
dinner, for I am as hungry as a bluefish."
"Mr. Barrett spent half the morning with us, Cicely," Hubert said,
as she came to the table. "Where were you, to miss your chances?"
"Gallivanting with another young man," she said. "But was he really and
truly there? What did he talk about?"
"How unromantic! What else?"
"Welsh rarebit, if you must know."
"Was that all? Didn't he talk any music?"
"No; only the music of his own speech. It's not manners to talk
"Oh, but I do wish I could meet him!" she sighed. "Is he ever coming here
to the Lodge?"
"Perhaps, if we hang Babe out for bait. He appears to have her on the
brain. He asked, to-day, apropos of nothing in particular, whether Miss
McAlister were not very intellectual."
"I hope you assured him that she was," Billy remarked.
"I did. Trust me for upholding the family reputation. I told him that she
had a receptive mind and would be an ornament to any profession."
"Hubert!" his sister remonstrated.
"Well, why not? Babe is able to hold her own, whether she turns her
attention to the ministry or to coaching athletic teams, and it is only
fair to give her the honest meed of praise."
"Cousin Ted," Cicely said earnestly, after a pause; "I wish you would ask
Mr. Barrett here to supper, some night. I want so much to meet him."
"Why, Cicely, I never supposed you were such a lion-hunter." Theodora's
tone, though gentle, conveyed a distinct rebuke.
"It isn't just silly wanting to meet him," she said, as her color came.
"I do want to know him, to hear him play and talk, because there isn't
anybody else whose work I love as I do his. I used to feel that way about
yours, Cousin Ted, and want to know you on account of your books; but now
I forget all about them. It's different with Mr. Barrett. He doesn't seem
especially interesting. He looks conceited and he toes in; but his work
is wonderful. Besides, I want to have him hear me play. He looks as if he
wouldn't mind telling disagreeable truths, and I want somebody to tell me
whether I am wasting all my time, trying to do something that is
impossible. I don't care whether he eats crabs or clams; he may eat with
his knife, if he wants to. All I'm after is his music."
Theodora laughed at her outburst.
"I will do what I can for you, Cis; but I am afraid it is a forlorn
hope. I don't believe he is a man who can be coaxed into talking shop,
and I fear he hasn't the least idea of accepting any invitations, while
he is down here. I will try to get him; but you may be driven into
taking a piano down on the beach and discoursing sweet music to him,
while he bathes."
"Bathes!" Cicely's tone was a faint echo of Phebe's. "He doesn't bathe;
he paddles. No matter! Some day, I'll get what I want." But happily she
had no foreknowledge of the circumstances under which she would talk of
music with Gifford Barrett.
An hour later, Allyn and his father were driving away across the moors.
It takes good seamanship to bear the motion of a Quantuck box cart; it
requires still better seamanship to navigate one of them along the rutted
roads. For some time, it took all of Dr. McAlister's energy to keep from
landing himself and Allyn head foremost in the thickets of sweet fern and
beach plum. By degrees, however, he became more expert in avoiding
pitfalls and in keeping both wheels in the ruts, and he turned to Allyn
"Well, Allyn, what was it?"
For two days, Allyn had been preparing himself on various circuitous
routes by which he might approach his subject and slowly prepare his
father's mind for the plea he wished to make. Now, however, his father
had taken him by surprise, and accordingly he blurted out the whole
"Papa, I don't want to go to college. I want to be an engineer."
Back in the depths of Dr. McAlister's eyes, there came an expression
which, under other conditions, might have developed into a smile. The
boy's tone was anxious and pleading, out of all proportion to the gravity
of his subject; but Dr. McAlister wisely forbore to smile. All his life,
he had made it his rule never to laugh at the earnestness of his
children, but to treat it with the fullest respect.
"A civil engineer?" he asked, thinking that Allyn was attracted by the
profession of his brother-in-law.
"No; just a plain, everyday engineer that runs machinery. I wish you'd
let me. There's no use in my going through college; I'm too stupid about
lots of things, and I never could make a decent doctor."
"What makes you think you could make a decent engineer?" the doctor
"Because I love it. I like wheels and beams and valves so much better
than I like syntax and subjunctives," he urged. "I'd be willing to work
for it, papa; it's interesting and it really counts for something, when
you get it done."
"Perhaps. Is it a new idea, Allyn?"
The boy shook his head.
"It's nearly as old as I am, I believe. Ever since I remember, I have
liked such things. I've watched them, whenever I had a chance, and when I
couldn't do that, I've looked at pictures of them. I don't suppose I
ought to have said anything about it, for I know you want to have me go
through college; but I hate my school, and I don't seem to get on any."
"But your marks were higher, last month, than they had been for a year."
"That was Cicely."
"Yes, she helped me. I was warned, and would have been conditioned; but
she found it out and went at me till she pulled me through. That was how
she found out about it."
"Then Cicely knows?"
"Yes; but nobody else. I let it out to her, one day, and she made me show
her my drawings. Then she told me that, if I wanted you to listen to me,
I'd have to do a good deal better work in school than I had been doing."
The doctor nodded approvingly.
"Cicely has a level head of her own," he said; "but how do I know you
aren't trying to shirk school, Allyn?"
Allyn faced him proudly.
"I never lie, and I promise you I'll do my best."
"Well, that's all right." The doctor was coming down to the practical
side of the question, and all of a sudden he found that it was not going
to be an easy thing for him to relinquish the hope of having one of his
sons follow him in his profession. "Do you know what it means, though,
Allyn, to be an engineer?"
"I think so." The boy spoke with a quiet dignity which was new to him.
"To work eight or ten hours a day in a factory; to begin at the bottom
and work up; maybe, at last, to invent a machine of my own."
"Yes." In spite of himself, the doctor's voice was encouraging, for he
could not help realizing that the boy had weighed the situation
carefully. "But do you know that your work would be in heat and dirt and
noise, among men who are not your equals in family and training?"
"Is Jamie Lyman my equal in family?" Allyn demanded. "Or Frank
Gavigan, or Peter Hubbard? You don't seem to mind putting me into
school with them."
"That is only for a short time. The other would be for life."
"Not if I work up."
"Perhaps not; but there is no upper class in a shop. But you said
something about some drawings. Have you made some?"
"What are they?"
"These." And Allyn offered a half-dozen sheets of paper to his father.
Dr. McAlister glanced at them; then he put the reins into Allyn's hand.
"Here," he said; "you can drive. I want to look at these."
For some moments, there was a silence, while the doctor turned over the
papers and Allyn's heart thumped until it seemed to him as if it could be
heard distinctly. Then deliberately the doctor took off his glasses, shut
them into their case and put the case into his pocket.
"Allyn," he said slowly; "I don't know much about such things; but I
rather think that you have found your work. Some of these drawings are
well done. Where did you get your machines?"
"I made them up."
"Oh." The doctor's tone was more dry than he realized; but he was
unwilling, for the boy's own good, to show the pride he felt in his son.
"Suppose we talk this over, then, and see what plans we would better
make. I did want you to be a doctor, Allyn; it would have made me very
happy, but I think it isn't best for you. It doesn't seem to be just in
your line, and I don't believe in forcing you into the wrong profession.
Even if an engineer's life meant hard work and disagreeable people and
things around you, would you like to try it?"
"You would be happy in it?"
"You think you would stick to it through thick and thin?"
There was no gush, no enthusiasm; yet something in the quiet affirmative
carried conviction to the father's mind.
"My boy," he said, as he rested his hand on Allyn's knee for a moment;
"you are my youngest child, and very dear to me, dearer because for years
your life has had to make up for the one that ended as yours began. It
has been my constant hope to make you into a broad and happy man, and a
good one. The rest doesn't count for much in the long run. If you really
are sure that you care for machines, then let it be machines; only make
up your mind to put your very best self into them, whether you oil up old
ones or invent new ones. It doesn't make much difference what the work
is; it makes a great deal of difference how you do it. Now listen to me,
for I am going to make a bargain with you."
He paused and looked down into the brown eyes, and they looked back at
"If I give up my pet dream for you--you will never know how often I have
dreamed it, Allyn--and let you throw over the idea of being a doctor, I
shall expect you to keep on for two more years in your school and to take
a good stand there. A mechanic should be as well-balanced mentally as a
doctor. I want you to know some classics, some history. Then, after that,
if you still feel the same way about this, you may fit for any of the
good technological schools you may choose, and I will do all I can to
help you carry out your plans for your work. Is it a bargain?"
Allyn's hand met his father's for a moment, and he nodded briefly. That
was all; but his father, as he watched him, was content without further
"Then we'll call it all settled," he said briskly, as he took the reins
once more. "I'll speak to the others about it, if you want. Sometimes
discussions of such things are a trial. Next time, though,--Has this been
worrying you, Allyn?"
"A little. I was afraid you wouldn't like it."
"I'm sorry. Next time, come to me in the first of it, and we'll talk it
over together. That's what we fathers are for; and all we want for our
sons is to see them strong and honest and content, determined to get the
very best out of life as they go along. The only question is, where the
best lies, and that we must each one of us decide for himself. That's
enough moral for one afternoon," he added, laughing.
"N--no," Allyn answered meditatively; "I hate morals, as a general thing;
but I don't seem to mind this. It's too sensible."
Mac was at his evening devotions.
"And not squeal at Aunt Phebe, A-ah-nen!" he concluded in a gusty
_sforzando._ Then he reached up and took his mother's face between his
two pink palms. "I hit Aunt Phebe, to-day, mamma. Vat was very naughty;
but I 'scused her, so it don't make any matter."
The fact was that Mac and his Aunt Phebe were not on intimate terms.
Never fond of children and none too fond of being disturbed in the
pursuit of her varying hobbies, Phebe had scant patience with the
vagaries of her small nephew. His ingratiating ways annoyed her; his
shrill babble distracted her; her sense of order revolted at the
omnipresent pails of sand which marked his pathway. Mac was revelling,
that summer, in the possession of unlimited supplies of sand, and, not
content with having it on the beach, he surreptitiously lugged it up to
Valhalla and constructed little amateur beaches wherever he could escape
from Phebe's searching eyes.
Phebe protested loudly over the beaches. They were in the way; they
rendered it unsafe to cross the floors, since they had a trick of
appearing in new and unsuspected localities. Moreover, they afforded a
source of constant interest to Melchisedek, who appeared to be secreting
an anatomical collection beneath them, and spent long hours on guard
above his latest addition to his hoard. It offended Phebe to be growled
at, just at the moment when her foot struck a heap of sand and bones
which should have had no place in a well-ordered home; it offended her
still more to listen to Mac's shrill unbraidings, when he found her
ruthlessly sweeping the whole deposit out of doors. Hence Mac's blow.
Hence his forgiveness.
"I wish you were my brother, and I would see if this couldn't be
stopped," Phebe had said, in the fulness of her wrath.
Mac surveyed her blandly.
"But I don't want you for a brovver. You're nofing but a girl, and if I
had a little brovver, I'd ravver have a he-brovver," he returned
"All the same, I'd make you mind me," she said vengefully, as she gave
the broom a final flirt.
"But you doesn't own me, Aunt Babe; every one else doesn't own me,
What remote memory of past Sunday stories had asserted itself, the next
day, it would be impossible to tell; but Mac suddenly projected himself
into the long-ago, and out from the long-ago he addressed Phebe.
"You are Pharaoh, you know, and you kills babies."
"Don't be silly, Mac." Phebe was writing a letter and was in no mood for
Sitting on the floor at her feet, Mac clasped his shabby brownie to
"Yes, you are Pharaoh, you know; naughty old Pharaoh! But you wouldn't
kill vis little baby; would you, Pharaoh?"
"I'd like to, if it would clean him up a little," Phebe returned, for
she had an antipathy to the brownie which usually took its meals in
company with Mac.
"Do peoples be clean, all ve time, in heaven?"
"Ven I don't want to go vere, Pharaoh."
"Mac, you must stop calling me Pharaoh. Aunt Phebe is my name."
The next instant, the baby came flying straight into Pharaoh's face, and
Mac fled, weeping, to his mother.
"I'd be glad if I was dead."
"Why, dear?" Hope looked startled.
"'Cause peoples are happy when vey are up in ve sky."
"But you can be happy here, Mac, if you are good," Hope said gently.
"Yes; but I aren't happy; I are cross."
Hope sighed and laid away the letter she was writing to her husband.
There were days when she regretted that she had brought this restless,
tempestuous child into so large a family circle, days when Mac's cherubic
qualities appeared to be entirely in abeyance. Gentle as she was, her own
influence over him was of the strongest; but here she felt that she had
less chance to exert this influence. In spite of her efforts, Mac was
running wild, this summer. The smallest child on the beach, he was petted
and spoiled by every one, and Hope disliked the inevitable pertness which
followed so much attention. Most of all, she disliked the constant
friction with his Aunt Phebe, and she felt that the blame was by no
means entirely upon the one side. Mac was no heavenly child, and it was
only by dint of much tact that he could be managed at all; but tact in
dealing with children was not Phebe's strong point.
The summer, then, was not proving altogether restful to Hope. To one
person, however, she felt an overwhelming gratitude. Of all the people on
Quantuck beach, Gifford Barrett had been the only one who appeared to
have either conscience or common sense in dealing with Mac's
idiosyncrasies. The child never seemed to bore him, or to come into
collision with him, yet there was never any question who was the master.
Again and again, Hope had wondered at the dexterity with which the young
musician had led Mac away from his small iniquities, had coaxed him into
giggling forgetfulness of his bad temper. She wondered yet more at the
obedience which Mac readily accorded to his new friend, an obedience
which she was accustomed to win only after long and persistent siege.
"My papa couldn't come here, vis summer," he had said gravely to Mr.
Barrett, one day. "Will you please be my papa while we stay here?"
And Gifford Barrett's smile was not altogether of amusement, as he
accepted the adoption. Hope saw it and understood; and hereafter she
ranged herself on Cicely's side when Mr. Barrett was being discussed in
the family circle.
That same afternoon Gifford Barrett strolled down to the beach. The wind
had been on shore for the past two days, and the breakers, too heavy now
to allow any bathing, crashed on the sand with a dull booming that
sounded far inland, while close at the water-side was heard the crash of
the grinding pebbles. Under the McAlister awning, Mrs. McAlister, Hope
and the Farringtons sat in a cozy group, and Mac, close by, was devoting
his small energies to burying his grandfather. The young man stopped to
speak to them for a minute; then he moved away towards the spot where
Phebe sat alone under her umbrella.
"Isn't the surf superb, Miss McAlister?"
She looked up from her book rather ungraciously.
"Yes, it's very fine."
"How does it happen you are not at the golf links?"
"There's a tournament, to-day."
"And you didn't enter?"
"No; they didn't play well enough to make it worth my while."
Deliberately he settled himself at her side.
"Am I interrupting?" he asked. "That book looked rather indigestible for
an August day."
"I prefer it. I can't spend my time over novels," Phebe said.
The strong wind had ruffled her bright hair and deepened the pink in her
cheeks. The young man looked at her admiringly. Up to this time, he had
only seen her in her short blue suit, and he told himself that this
fluffy pink muslin gown was vastly more becoming to her.
"Don't you ever do frivolous things?" he asked in some amusement.
"No. What's the use?"
"There's going to be a dance, next week."
"Is there?" Phebe's tone betrayed no interest in the tidings.
"Yes. I came down to see if I could induce you to go with me."
"I hate dancing in August," she said flatly.
"I'm sorry. Besides, one must do something down here."
"One can, if one wants to. I don't. There's no sense in coming to this
kind of a place, just to put on one's best clothes and dance all night in
a stuffy room."
"You might take Lear's method," he suggested;
"'And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon.'"
For one instant, Phebe relaxed her severity.
"Do you like Lear, too?" she asked.
"Of course. What sensible person doesn't?" He stretched himself out at
full length, resting his head on his hand, and, for the moment, Phebe, as
she looked at him, felt that he was almost handsome enough to atone for
his lack of energy. "But you haven't accepted my invitation," he added
"I know it."
"What for? I told you I don't like hops in August."
"But I can't hop alone."
"Ask somebody else, then."
"Don't want to. Well, I'll consider it an engagement."
"Why don't you play golf?" Phebe demanded.
"Too energetic for me. I want something more restful."
His languid tone annoyed Phebe, and she dropped her indifferent manner.
"Mr. Barrett, did it ever occur to you that you were lazy?"
"No; it hadn't occurred to me in that light before. Am I?"
He sat up.
"I am sorry. Miss McAlister, had it ever occurred to you that you are
"I don't care if I am."
For an instant, he looked at her angrily. It was a new experience to
him to have any one take that tone in addressing him. Then he rose
to his feet.
"I am afraid I have been intruding upon your time, Miss McAlister," he
"You needn't get mad," Phebe observed. "People don't all think alike, you
know; and I only told you my opinion."
He bowed in silence; then he walked away his hands in his pockets
and his cap tilted backwards aggressively. Half-way to the row of
awnings, he spoke.
"Little vixen!" he said forcibly. Then he dropped down on the sand at
Hope's feet, with his back turned flatly towards the figure under the
"Then you are coming to supper with us, to-morrow night," Theodora said,
as at length he rose to his feet. "I suppose music is a forbidden
subject, Mr. Barrett; you probably get very tired of the things people
say to you. Still, I have a little cousin staying with me, who is anxious
to meet you, and--"
Her sentence was never finished, and Cicely's anxiety was left hanging in
mid air, for there came a cry from Phebe,--
"Oh, Hope! Mac! Help!"
Mr. Barrett whirled about to face the surf just in time to see Mac
swept off his feet by an incoming wave, drawn back under the next
one and hidden from sight beneath the awful weight of water. With a
quick exclamation, he ran forward into the edge of the water. Then he
"Save him," Phebe commanded. "Go in! I can't do anything in this horrid
gown." As she spoke, she tugged fiercely at her fluffy skirt which, wet
to her knees, clung closely about her feet. "Go in and get him!" she
Then for the hour, Gifford Barrett wished that the sand would
close over him.
"I can't," he said through his shut teeth. "It would be of no use."
"Coward!" she said fiercely. "And you would let the boy drown!"
The words had been low and hurried, and no one was near to hear them, or
to check Phebe. For a moment, Mr. Barrett turned white. He started to
reply; then he controlled himself and was silent. This was not the time
to seek to justify himself. The little scene was ended before Billy
Farrington, stripped to his waist, rushed past them and plunged into the
To the watchers on the shore, it seemed hours since he had disappeared,
days since chubby little Mac had been swept out of sight. The beach
chanced to be deserted, that afternoon; Dr. McAlister could not swim a
stroke, Phebe was powerless to do anything in such clothing as she wore,
and Billy was not an expert swimmer. Hope's anguish was almost
unbearable; yet, for the moment, Theodora's suffering was greater than
that of her sister. She spoke no word; she only stood, tall and stately
and dry-eyed, staring into the great green, curving waves that had
swallowed up her husband and, with him, all the best that had made life
for her since her girlhood. There was small chance for an inexperienced
swimmer in such a sea as that, least of all for one burdened with the
weight of a four-year-old child.
One. Two. Three. Four. Slowly the pitiless waves came crashing down on
the sand. They were so mighty, so unrelenting in their grim beauty. If
one must be drowned, it would have been better to die in a sunless sea,
not in the gorgeousness of a day like this. Five. Six. Then Theodora
sprang forward with a little, low, choking moan. The seventh wave washed
up at her very feet the form of her husband, still breathing and with
Mac's body dangling from his unconscious grasp.
Under such circumstances, some men would have thanked Providence. Dr.
McAlister was of other stuff.
"Phebe, come here!" he commanded. "You know what to do. You go to work
on Mac, while I try to see if anything can be done for Billy. Work for
your life, for there's a life hanging on yours now."
"Yes dear, Uncle Billy was almost drowned, in trying to get you out of
"Drowned dead, mamma?"
For a minute, Mac silently contemplated the possibility of his uncle's
dying. Then his face dimpled into a smile once more, as he said,--
"If he was dead, mamma, I should get a little warm 'pirit and put in his
stomach, and ven he would be all well again."
It seemed strange to Hope to be laughing once more. All the night
through, a heavy cloud of anxiety had rested upon Valhalla where one
hero at least was lying. It had been no easy feat which Billy Farrington
had attempted, and no one was more keenly aware of the fact than he,
himself. Well and strong enough for all practical purposes, his physique
in reality was no match for men whose boyhood had been sound, and no
match at all for the fury of Quantuck surf in a gale. He had realized
all that, yet he had not hesitated for an instant as to what was the
one thing for him to do. Billy's code of honor was a simple one and a
straight-forward. It even included the possibility of laying down one's
life for a little child.
All that night, the doctor worked over him. For a long time, it seemed to
him a losing fight; but he prolonged it to the end, and in the end he was
victorious. Phebe had succeeded in bringing Mac to consciousness, and she
was superintending Hope's putting him to bed; the doctor had ordered the
others out of the room, and he and Theodora were alone with Billy when at
last the blue eyes opened.
"Billy! My dear old William!"
That was all the doctor heard. Then he brushed his hand across his eyes
and stole away out of the room. Alone in the kitchen, he wiped his eyes
again and blew his nose violently.
"That tells the story," he muttered to himself. "I wish there were more
such marriages. But I thought for one while that there wasn't much chance
for him." Then he shrugged his shoulders and put on his most professional
manner, as he went back to his patient.
"Stop your lovering, Ted, and give him another drink of this. Lie where
you are, for half an hour, Billy; then let Teddy tuck you up warm in bed
and sleep it off. You did a fine thing, a mighty fine thing, and Hope
will have something to say to you in the morning."
"All right, thank you, only rather stiff in the joints, so the doctor
advised me to keep still, to-day," Billy said to Gifford Barrett, the
The young man had met Hubert on the beach, that morning; but apparently
he could be satisfied by no second-hand report from the Lodge. In the
late twilight, he came strolling up to the seaward porch where he found
Billy stretched out at his ease on a bamboo couch, and the others grouped
around him, in full tide of family gossip.
"Then you are really none the worse for your ducking?" Mr. Barrett asked,
as he took the chair that Theodora offered him.
"Rather stiff, and a bruise or two, nothing to count at all."
"And the boy?"
"Lively as a sand flea."
"How did he happen to get into the water, in the first place?" Mr.
"Chiefly because his Aunt Phebe advised him to be careful, or he would
get his feet wet," Hope answered. "There is no use in my trying to
excuse my naughty boy, Mr. Barrett. Mac was so eager to assure my sister
that she didn't own him that, in his defiance, he backed straight into
"Oh, Hope, what is the use of telling, now it is all over?" Phebe's
remonstrant tones came from inside the house.
Gifford Barrett rose and went towards the door.
"Are you there, Miss McAlister? I hoped I should see you."
"I'll be out in a minute."
The minute was a long one. Then Phebe stepped through the open doorway
into the stronger light outside. Her face flushed a little, as she
reluctantly touched the young man's outstretched hand; but that was all
there was to show that she recalled the last words they had exchanged,
the day before.
"I wanted to see you," he went on, as he seated himself once more. "I am
going away, to-morrow night, and before I went, I had something I wished
to tell--to explain, that is, to you all."
A sudden tension seemed to make itself felt throughout the group. No one
of them had the remotest idea of what he was about to say, yet even Dr.
McAlister drew his chair a few inches nearer, while Cicely, in her
corner, fairly bounced in her excitement.
"Well, let her go," Billy remarked, after a moment when the guest seemed
to find it hard to open the subject.
"Why, you see, I may seem very silly and egotistic to speak of it;
but--The fact is, didn't any of you think it was strange that I didn't
try to go into the surf for Mac, yesterday?"
Three of the women before him made a polite murmur of dissent. The fourth
was silent; but Dr. McAlister said frankly,--
"Yes. It wasn't at all like my idea of you, Mr. Barrett."
The young man looked pleased.
"Thank you, doctor," he said heartily. "I value that sort of compliment.
But I didn't want to go away from here and leave you to think me an
arrant coward. The truth is, I shouldn't have been of much use to Mac or
to myself. I'm not swimming, this summer, for I was unlucky enough to
break my arm, last June, and it's not at all strong yet."
Quickly Billy put out his hand.
"I'm glad to know this, Barrett," he said. "I haven't been quite
fair to you."
"I wish you had told us before," Theodora added laughingly. "We
haven't had time to compare notes yet; but there is no telling what
some of us may have thought about it. But isn't it very bad for your
music, Mr. Barrett?"
"It came at an inconvenient time," he admitted; "for I was in the middle
of some work, and I have had to let it all go."
"How did it happen?" Hope asked sympathetically. "I hope it wasn't a
"A compound fracture of the right arm," he replied. "It wasn't a pleasing
break; but it was a good deal more pleasing than the way it happened."
"How was that?" Billy looked up expectantly, for the young man's tone was
suggestive of a story yet untold.
Gifford Barrett laughed.
"It was very absurd, very ignominious; but the fact is, I was run into
by a woman, one day in a pelting shower, and knocked heels over head off
Sitting in the doorway, Phebe had been holding a book in her hands. Now
it fell to the floor with a crash.
"Drop something, Babe?" Hubert asked amicably.
"Yes, my book," she answered shortly.
"I shall never forget my emotions at the time," Gifford Barrett was
saying to Billy. "I had been off for a long ride, one day, and was
caught, on the way home, in this heavy shower. The road was all up and
down hill, and just as I came down one hill, the damsel came down the
other. She had lost both her pedals, and you've no idea how she looked,
bouncing and bumping along, with her soaked skirt flopping in the wind.
She hadn't even the grace to be pretty, so there wasn't an atom of
romance in the affair from first to last. She was a great, overgrown
country girl, and tied on the front of her wheel she had a bundle that I
took for some sort of marketing stuff; but, just as she met me, it popped
open and out tumbled a whole assortment of bones, human bones, legs and
arms and a skull. What do you suppose she could have been doing with
them? She was too young and fair to have been an undertaker."
"They might have belonged to her ancestors, and she have been taking
them home for burial," Hubert suggested.
Mr. Barrett chuckled in a manner which suggested the composer in him had
not entirely ousted the boy.
"Anyway, she is short a skull. I sent out, the next day, and had it
brought to me. I have it yet."
"Did she hit you?" Theodora asked.
"Hit me! I should think she did. She was large, and she came at me with a
good deal of force. The last I remember, I felt the crash, and I knew I
had had the worst of it." He rubbed his arm sympathetically at the
"What became of you?" Mrs. McAlister inquired. "Did she pick you up and
carry you home?"
"Not she. She was an Amazon, not a Valkyrie within hailing distance of
"Who was she?" Theodora asked. "The story ought to have a sequel."
"It hasn't. It ended in mystery. The girl vanished into thin air, and a
man, driving by, found me lying in the mud, with a skull on one side of
me and a white sailor hat on the other, neither of them my property."
"Just rode away and left you with a compound fracture?" The doctor's
tone was incredulous.
"Apparently, for she was never heard of again; at least, I never found
out who she was. It was very funny and very unromantic; but it laid me up
for a few weeks, and my arm doesn't grow strong as fast as it should, so
I have to be careful of it. No swimming or golf for me, this year.
Meanwhile, I am waiting to hear of a buxom damsel who lacks one skull
and one white straw Knox hat, size six and one-eighth. Then, when I meet
her, I shall take my vengeance."
"I hope you will find her," the doctor said vindictively. "If one of my
daughters had done such a thing, I would disown her. Babe, it is growing
chilly. I wish you'd bring out some rugs."
But Phebe had vanished from her seat in the doorway.
The full moon was laying a silvery path across the restless waves, when
Gifford Barrett finally rose to go. There was a cordial exchange of
farewells, of good wishes for the coming winter, of hopes of another
meeting, yet Mr. Barrett was not quite content, as he slowly walked away
to his hotel Mrs. Farrington's cordiality and Cicely's evident woe at his
departure could not quite atone for the lack of a word and a glance of
friendly good-bye from Phebe. One's liking is not altogether a matter of
free will. In spite of himself, Gifford Barrett liked the blunt,
outspoken, pugnacious Phebe far better than the girls whose honeyed words
and ways he had found so cloying.
Farewell parties are all the fashion at Qantuck station and few people
are allowed to depart, unattended. However, Mr. Barrett's fame, and his
manifest wish to hold himself aloof from the people about him had had
their effect, and he went trudging down to the station the next afternoon
quite by himself. On the platform, to his surprise, he found Mrs. Holden
and Mac waiting for him.
"Mac insisted upon saying good-bye," Hope said half apologetically; "and
I really hadn't the heart to refuse him. Besides, I wanted to thank you
again for your many kindnesses to my small boy. Mothers appreciate such
things, I assure you, Mr. Barrett."
The young man's face lighted. He liked Hope, and, from the first, he had
dropped his professional manner and met her with the simplicity of an
"We've had great times together; haven't we, Mac?" he inquired.
"Yes, lots; but now I'm going to see my truly papa," Mac observed.
"Are you going soon?" Mr. Barrett asked Hope.
"Next week, I think. Mr. Holden has written so appealingly that I dare
not keep him waiting any longer. The others will stay down for September;
but Hubert will go off island with me, next week, and start Mac and me on
our way to Helena."
"And may I ask my sister to call on you?"
"Please do. Mac's mother doesn't have time to make many calls; but I
should like to know your sister, and then I shall be sure to hear when
you are in Helena again."
"Perhaps you'll let me write to you, now and then," he suggested, with a
shyness that was new to him. In his past life, he had never met a woman
quite like Mrs. Holden and he was anxious to win her liking and to hold
it, once won.
"I wish you would," she said cordially. "But your train is waiting.
Ought you to get on board?"
He took a hurried leave of her. Then he turned to Mac.
"Good-bye," Mac answered cheerily. "Aren't you glad you ever knew me?"
"Yes, Mac," he replied sincerely, for he felt that his meeting with Mac
had been foreordained, that, child as he was, Mac had served his turn in
knotting together some of the broken strands of his life.
As the train slowly jogged away across the moorland he felt a sharp
regret while he watched the disappearing of the little grey village and
the tall white lighthouse beyond. He had enjoyed his solitary month
there; he had enjoyed Hope, and the sweet, womanly frankness with which
she had taken him quite on his own personal merits. Incense was good; it
was far better to be liked as Gifford Barrett than as the composer of the
_Alan Breck Overture_, however, and he had a vague consciousness that he
had never been more of a man than when he was walking and talking with
quiet Hope Holden.
The train rounded the curve at Kidd's Treasure, and Mr. Barrett looked
backward to catch one last glimpse of the sea. As he did so, he forgot
Hope, and went back to the memory of his last hour on the beach.
Strolling along the sand, that noon, with his eyes fixed on the ground,
he had caught sight of an approaching shadow and he looked up to see
Phebe standing before him.
"Mr. Barrett," she said abruptly; "I'm sorry I called you a coward."
He rallied from his surprise and raised his cap.
"Oh, that's all right," he said lightly.
"No; it wasn't right. I don't want to abuse people to their faces and
behind their backs, when they don't deserve it. That isn't my way."
"But you couldn't be expected to know."
"I ought to have known."
Phebe's cheeks grew scarlet. In her contrition, she had walked straight
into the trap which she had meant to avoid. She was silent.
"How could you know?" he urged. "I don't think I look in the least like
There was another silence, a long one, while he stood looking down at
her curiously. Then she raised her eyes with an effort.
"I was the girl that ran into you," she said bluntly.
The young man's face suddenly became somewhat less expressive than the
skull which he had kept as a souvenir of the experience they were
discussing. That at least expressed a cheery unconcern; his face
"Oh, I-I-I'm sorry," he remarked blankly.
"So am I. I didn't mean to."
"Have you known it, all the time? Was that what made you so down on me?"
"I wasn't down on you. I didn't think much about you, either way," Phebe
said, with unflattering directness.
"But did you know it?"
"Not till last night, when you told the story. Your beard changes you a
good deal." She paused. Then she went on, "I didn't mean to let you know
it; but I think it is better that I have, for now I can set you right on
one point. I didn't go off to leave you. I did what I could, and then
went for help. When I came back, you were gone."
"How came you there, anyway?"
"I live there."
"Oh! And the skull?"
"I don't want it."
"No; but where did you get it?"
"I bought it."
"Miss McAlister! Might I ask what for?"
"To study. I'm going to be a doctor."
"Oh, I wouldn't," he urged dispassionately. "You'll find it very messy."
"But I like it. I worked with my father, all the spring, and now I am
going to Philadelphia to study there. Didn't you know I set your arm?"
"No." He looked at her, with frank admiration shining in his eyes. "Did
you, honestly? Dr. Starr said it was a wonder that it hadn't slipped out
of place any more."
"I'm glad if I did any good," she said with sudden humility. "I must go
now, for it is past dinner time." She turned to go away. Then she came
back again and held out her strong, ringless hand. "I'm so sorry," she
said hurriedly; "sorry for all I have made you ache, and sorry for all
the hateful things I have said to you."
"Don't think about that any more," he said heartily, as he took her
hand. "Have you told your father, Miss McAlister?"
"Please don't. There's no use in saying anything more about it, And now
promise me that you will forget it,--as a favor to me, please." As he
spoke, he looked steadily into Phebe's eyes, and her eyes drooped. For
the first time in her life, Phebe McAlister had become self-conscious
in the presence of a young man. He dropped her hand and raised his cap
"Good-by, doctor," he said; and, turning, he walked away and left
As who should say "What, ma'am?" Melchisedek lifted his snubby little
nose and gazed inquiringly at Theodora. Then he went back to his assaults
on the corner of the rug. Melchisedek's mother had been a thrifty soul;
in her young son's puppyhood, she had impressed upon him the fact that
well-trained dogs should bury superfluous food supplies, to be held in
reserve for the hour of need. Cicely had been too lavish, that morning,
in her allowance. Melchisedek had eaten until his small legs stuck out
stiffly from his distended little body, and now he was endeavoring to
bury the remainder of his meal in the folds of the rug. The room was a
large one, and it took a perceptible time for Theodora to reach the scene
of action. Melchisedek's efforts increased in vigor as she came nearer,
and, just as she stooped to catch him, he succeeded in folding the end
of her ancient Persian rug above an overturned Chelsea saucer and a
widening pool of oatmeal and cream. Then he retired under the table and
smiled suavely up at her, while she removed the debris.
It was now two weeks since they had returned from Quantuck, and the year
was at the fall of the leaf. The Savins was covered with a thick carpet
of golden brown, and the birches and hickories were blazing with gold,
while the corner house was set in a nest of crimson and yellow and
scarlet maples. For the hour, earth was almost as radiant as the sun; but
the quiet drop, drop, drop of the yellow leaves through the golden, hazy
air told that the end was not far distant, that too soon the gold would
give place to the grey and the brown.
This autumn season had brought a new break into the McAlister family
circle. Phebe had gone away to Philadelphia, almost immediately after
their return from the seashore. If her interest in medical science were
on the wane, at least she was too proud to confess the fact, and the
doctor, with some misgivings, had consented to her departure.
"There's no especial reason Babe shouldn't make a good doctor," he said
to his wife, the night after the matter was finally decided; "the
trouble is, there seems to be no especial reason that she should. I can't
discover that she's any more in love with that profession than with a
dozen others. She simply took it up because it was the most obvious one,
and because she was restless for some sort of an occupation."
"Wait and see," his wife counselled him. "For the present, she is
contented with this choice, and she may as well try it for a year. By
that time, she will be able to decide whether she wants to go on. One
year of it, at her age, can't do any harm, and it may do her some good,
if only to steady her down a little."
"Then you don't think she will carry it through?"
"No," she said honestly; "I don't. Babe hasn't the make-up for a
professional woman in any line. She is too self-centred, too impetuous.
She needs something to humanize her womanhood, not make an abstract thing
of her. I'd rather see Babe a gentle, loving woman than the greatest
light of her profession."
"What a little bigot it is!" the doctor said teasingly.
"No, not a bigot," she returned quickly. "I believe in a girl's taking a
profession, when it is the one absorbing interest of her life. It
wouldn't be so with Babe. She would take it from restlessness, not love,
from sheer unused vitality that must have an outlet. It was different
with Ted; it will be different with Allyn. They are ready to give up
other things for their work. Phebe isn't."
"After all, Babe is developing," the doctor said thoughtfully. "She is
steadier than she used to be, and a good deal more true and sincere. If
she would only grow a little more affectionate, I should be content."
"Wait," his wife repeated. "She develops slowly, and she hasn't found out
yet just which way it is worth her while to grow. When she does, you will
find that she grows fast enough. Look at Allyn. He seems like a new
creature in this new plan of his."
The doctor smiled a little sadly.
"Perhaps I am impatient, Bess; but I am getting to be an old man, and I
want to see all my children on their own straight roads, before I die."
But if Phebe's choice of career filled her family with doubtful
questionings, their doubts were at an end in respect to Allyn. The boy
had not only come back from the seashore to settle down into the harness
of school life again; he was even tugging hard at the traces. Mindful of
his bargain with his father, anxious to prove that his wish was both
fixed and earnest, he had gone to work with a dogged determination to
show his father that, once interested, he was capable of doing honest,
solid work. He did work with a will and with a healthy appetite that left
him scant time and energy for outside things; and between his books and
his drawings he was far too busy to heed the ways and the warts of Jamie
Lyman and his kin. Directly after their return to The Savins, the doctor
had sent a package of Allyn's drawings to one of his old-time classmates,
now the head of a famous school of technology. The answer which came back
to him was prompt and full of enthusiasm, and Dr. McAlister, as he read
it, felt his last regret leaving him that his son was to abandon his own
Cicely, meanwhile, was mounting guard over Allyn's languages, advising,
admonishing and often helping him along the devious paths of syntax and
subjunctives. She had a good deal of time at her disposal. She gave it to
him freely, and unconsciously she gained as much as she gave, in her work
with the boy. Their comradeship was as perfect as was their unlikeness.
Each complemented the other, each modified the other, and both were far
the better and the happier for the intimacy. To be sure, their paths were
not all of pleasantness and peace. Both Cicely and Allyn were outspoken
and hot-tempered; but their feuds now were measured by moments, not by
days, and the overtures of peace were mutual.
Although Gifford Barrett had never been known to speak more than a dozen
words to Cicely, and those were chiefly concerning the weather, the girl
appeared to have gained great inspiration from her meeting with the young
composer, and she plodded away more diligently than ever at her long
hours of practice. Day after day, she ended with her beloved overture,
playing it over, not so much to perfect herself in it, as to remind
herself that music was a living, vital means of expression quite within
the reach of one not so much older than herself. It was not that Cicely
ever hoped to compose. That was as far beyond her ambition as it was
beyond her powers. She only gained courage from the thought that success
in one's chosen line was not always deferred until the end of life.
Moreover, she felt a certain human and girlish satisfaction in being able
to state that, once at least, she had swept the gifted composer of the
_Alan Breck Overture_ completely off his feet. The fact was enough; no
need to enter into details.
Theodora and Billy never stopped to analyze how large a hold upon their
hearts this healthy, happy girl had taken. If she dined at The Savins,
they devoured their own meal in silence. If she spent an evening away
from home Billy read his paper with one eye on the clock, and Theodora
reduced Melchisedek to whimpering frenzy by asking once in ten minutes
where his missy was. They wanted her chatter, wanted her more gentle
moments, wanted above all else her pranks which served as a sort of
vicarious outlet for their own animal spirits. For nine days out of ten,
Cicely and Melchisedek frisked through life together. On the tenth,
Cicely passed into a thoughtful mood; Melchisedek never.
"What's the matter, Cousin Ted?" Cicely asked, one day, as she met
Theodora stalking up the stairs after dismissing a caller.
"Another reporter. I wish they would let law-abiding citizens alone,
and use up their energy on tramps," Theodora said viciously. "Such a
morning as I have had! My marketing took twice as long as usual; my
typewriter has broken a spring, and now this man has wasted a good
half-hour of my time. Cis, the next man that comes to interview me, I
shall hand over to you."
"All right. What shall I tell him?"
"Anything you choose, as long as you keep him away from me. It's no use
to refuse to see them. I tried that, and they straight-way went off and
published three columns of my utterances on South African politics, when
I don't know a Boer from a Pathan. Farewell, I am going to work." And,
the next moment, Cicely heard the click of her typewriter.
It was more than three weeks later that Cicely sat alone, one afternoon,
reading lazily before the fire, when the maid brought her a card.
"It's for Mrs. Farrington," she said.
"Let me see." Cicely took it and glanced at the name, Mr. William Smith.
Down in the corner was the legend "Boston _Intermountain_." "It is all
right, Mary," she added. "I will see the man."
There was a short delay while she sped upstairs, ransacked Theodora's
closet for a long skirt, and swiftly coiled her hair on the top of her
head. Then demurely enough she presented herself to the waiting guest.
"Mrs. Farrington?" he said interrogatively, as he rose.
"Good-afternoon," she answered, extending her hand graciously. "Won't you
He looked surprised. As a rule, the reception accorded to him was not
"I came here on behalf of the Boston _Intermountain_," he said a little
uneasily. "They are making up a Thanksgiving number, and are anxious for
a special feature or two. Among other things, they want a little sketch
of your work and your ways of doing it."
"Certainly." Cicely seated herself on the sofa and smiled encouragement
at the young man, while she vaguely wondered whether he had discovered
that her cousin's waist measure was three inches smaller than her own.
"Might I ask," he inquired, as he pulled out a notebook; "whether you
are busy just now on a new book?"
"Yes, I am writing four at present," she answered unexpectedly.
"Four, all at once?"
"But--pardon me--but is there not danger of confusing them?"
"Oh, no; I keep them in different pigeon-holes," Cicely replied blandly.
"Ah, yes. Do you? Very good!" He laughed a little vaguely. "Are they to
come out soon?"
"This winter, all but one. That will not appear for seven years."
"Indeed. And are you willing, Mrs. Farrington to tell me when you do
"Certainly. I do it all at night."
"But isn't that very wearing?"
"Of course. I am often a total wreck for months after finishing a book."
"Where do you do your writing?"
For a moment, Cicely hesitated between the rival charms of the front
steps and the attic. Then she replied,--
"In the kitchen."
"The--kitchen!" For an instant, the man was thrown from his
"Yes. I put my little kettle of tea to draw on the hob--"
"The hob," Cicely said severely; "and when I am tired of writing, I
refresh myself with a cup of Flowery Pekoe and a biscuit, and then I
return to my pen once more."
"How much do you usually accomplish in a night?"
"Four thousand, five hundred words is my usual limit."
"And do your never write during the day?"
"Never. My thoughts only arise by candle-light."
At this poetic outburst, the interviewer glanced up and privately
registered the belief that Mrs. Farrington was slightly cracked.
"I always sleep till noon," Cicely reassured him. "Is there anything else
I can do for you?"
"No, thank you. I think not. This will make a very interesting and
acceptable article, I am sure. But, before I go, would you mind telling
me what you think of Browning?"
"The greatest poet of the century," Cicely replied glibly, mindful of
"And your favorite poem?" he asked insinuatingly.
Then at last Cicely floundered, for she was quite beyond her depth.
"I think the _Rubaiyat_ is by far the best," she said gravely, and her
querist received the announcement in perfect good faith.
It was some weeks afterwards that Theodora, turning over her mail, came
upon a marked copy of the _Intermountain_.
"What in the world is this?" she said in astonishment. "I never heard of
She opened it, and then she gasped. Upon the first page appeared a
woodcut, evidently culled from the advertising department, and beneath it
"Interview with Mrs. Theodora Farrington.
Alone with Her Tea-Kettle.
The Famous Young Author Works by Night.
The Inspiration of Genius by the Hob."
Theodora read it through, carefully, deliberately, down to the final
statements in regard to Browning. She wondered at first. Then the light
dawned upon her, as she came upon a carefully-turned phrase descriptive
of "the little grey dog, the constant companion of his gifted mistress,"
and she looked up.
"Cis, you wretch!" she said.
But Cicely had been watching her face and, as she watched, her own
dimples had grown deeper.
"Didn't you tell me I might?" she asked meekly.
"Yes," Theodora acknowledged; "yes, I did, and I don't know but it was
justifiable. He must have been an innocent youth, Cis; but it's not so
much worse than some of the tales told by men who have really seen me;
only--don't do it again, dear. It might make me serious trouble."
"But, after all," she said to her husband, that night; "I am not so very
sorry. They needn't make public property of us and our work. It is none
of their affair, anyway; and Cicely has only done what I have wanted to
do, and didn't quite dare. If more people had a deputy to be interviewed
for them, it might put a stop to the literary columns in a good many
And her husband agreed with her.
Down in Philadelphia, that fall, Phebe was having her first experience of
bitter homesickness. She had always supposed herself immune from that
dire disease, and, for some time, she had no idea what was the matter
with her. In vain she tried to trace the cause of her complaint to
malaria and to every known form of indigestion. She studied her symptoms
carefully and tried to match them up, one by one, to the symptoms
recorded in her text-books. At last, she was forced to the ignoble
conclusion that she was suffering from homesickness pure and simple,
homesickness in one of its acutest forms. Her appetite for her work
declined in proportion to her appetite for her food. She was listless,
dull, and, it must be confessed, most deplorably cross. The fact of the
matter was that the girl was pining for the broad lawns of The Savins,
for the shabby red house, for her father and Hubert, even for Cicely and
Cicely's dog Melchisedek.
Her work interested her. To her mind, there was a great charm in seeing
the neat economy with which her body was constructed. She enjoyed the
lectures keenly; but the clinics had proved to be her undoing. At the
first one she had attended, she had ignominiously fainted away. There was
a certain satisfaction in feeling that she had drawn upon herself at
least one-half as much attention as the more legitimate object of the
gathering; however, she was sternly resolved never to repeat the
experience, and she accordingly became a walking arsenal of restoratives,
whenever a clinic was on hand. In a nutshell, Phebe found theory far more
attractive than practice. Surgery was a grand and helpful profession;
but, under some circumstances, it was not neat, and Phebe must have
neatness at any cost.
With her fellow-students she was quite unable to fraternize. For the most
part, they were older than herself, a body of enthusiastic, earnest women
who were ready to lay down their lives for their profession. Grave-eyed
and intent, they went through the day's routine with a cheery patience
under drudgery which showed the noble stuff of which they were made. They
looked askance at Phebe's grumblings, her fluctuating enthusiasm, her
hours of girlish frivolity and of pettish complaint. Among themselves,
they analyzed her; but they were unable to classify her. She was foreign
to their ways of life and thought; in a word, they set her down as
worldly and lacking in conviction.
On her side, Phebe detested them heartily. Golf was a sealed book to
them; their skirts were prone to hang in dejected folds; their talk, even
in their hours of relaxation, was of the shop shoppy. Down in her heart
of hearts, she respected them; but in her naughty little head, she railed
at them, not loudly, but long and unceasingly.
There were days when, utterly discouraged and out of conceit with herself
and the world, she meditated writing to her father, telling him the whole
truth and then taking the next train for home. Then she shut her teeth
and went back to her work in a grim silence that warned her neighbors
that she wished to be let alone. So far in her life, she had never given
up anything she had undertaken, and she hated the idea of doing it now.
She would fight it out a little longer. Perhaps in time it would be a
little less intolerable. Perhaps people always found it hard at first to
adapt themselves fully to their professions. It was even within the
limits of human possibility that, if she kept on long enough, she might
come to the point of delighting in clinics, like Miss Caldwell who was
fat and wore spectacles with tin bows and a cameo breastpin. Then she
hunted up a dry spot in her pillow, and dreamed of The Savins, and Mac,
and Quantuck, and waked up, and went to sleep again, and dreamed of
hearing her father saying in the next room,--
"Poor Babe! I don't think she was ever meant to be a good doctor; but I
don't see what on earth she really is good for, anyway."
The next afternoon, there were neither lectures nor clinics, and Phebe
determined to go for a long walk. It was early November, and the hush and
the haze of Indian summer lay over the park, as she halted on the bridge
and stood looking down into the river beneath. Not a soul was in sight.
The noises of the city were hushed in the distance, and before her the
broad reaches of the park stretched out and out under their mighty forest
trees. In a way, the rolling slopes, the broad lawns and the trees
reminded her of The Savins. She could imagine just how it looked at home,
the green lawn heaped here and there with brown oak leaves, the golden
glory of the hickories, the masses of late chrysanthemums, red and white
and pink and yellow, filling every sheltered nook and corner, above it
all, the soft November haze which is neither rosy nor purple nor gold,
but blended from them all, yet quieter far than any one of them.
All of a sudden Phebe's head went down upon her arms folded on the
rail of the bridge and, secure in her solitude, she gave herself up
to her woe.
She started and pulled herself together abruptly.
"Are you in trouble?"
The voice was unknown, yet familiar, and she spun around to find herself
face to face with Gifford Barrett.
"Where did you come from?" she asked, too much astonished at his
appearing, too glad to look into a friendly pair of eyes to resent the
sympathy written on his face.
"I came over here, for a few days, and I took the liberty of calling on
you. The people at the house told me you had spoken of coming out here,
so I came on the chance of finding you. But was something--?" He
Phebe rubbed away her tears.
"Yes, something was," she answered, with an attempt at her usual
briskness. "You caught me off my guard, Mr. Barrett. The fact is, I am
"Then why don't you go home?" he asked prosaically, for he had learned,
even in his slight experience at Quantuck, that it was not wise to take a
sentimental tone in addressing Phebe.
"I can't. I came down here for a year, and I must stick it out."
"What's the use?"
"Because I never do give in. It would be babyish. Besides, I am going to
be a doctor."
"I don't see why. It isn't in your line."
"I begin to think nothing is in my line," Phebe said forlornly.
"What else have you tried?"
"Nothing; but--I don't care about many things. I should like this, if it
weren't for the clinics and the students and such things, and if I could
be a little nearer home."
"When do you go home?"
"Christmas, if I live till then," Phebe laughed; but her mirth sounded
rather lugubrious. Then she added half-involuntarily, "I wonder what
you must think of me, Mr. Barrett. I'm not generally given to this
kind of a scene."
"No matter," he said soothingly, much as he might have spoken to a child;
"I am an old acquaintance, you know; and I never tell tales."
Suddenly Phebe laughed out blithely.
"What about the last night you were at Quantuck, Mr. Barrett?"
"Oh--well, that was different. How could I know that my muddy, murderous
Amazon was Miss Phebe McAlister in disguise?"
This time, they both laughed, and Phebe felt better.
"Let's walk on," she suggested. "This bridge is getting monotonous. Is
your arm quite strong again?"
"Perfectly. I think, if you'll let me, I can match your record in golf,
before I go back to New York."
"I didn't even know there were any links here," she said.
"There are, fine ones. One of my errands, to-day, was to make some kind
of an engagement with you. I've my reputation for laziness to redeem,
"I wish you wouldn't remind me of all the horrid things I said to you,"
she said contritely.
He looked at her in surprise. It was not like the Phebe McAlister he had
known, to speak like this. At Quantuck she had been cocksure, aggressive;
now she was gentler, more womanly. He missed something of the piquancy;
yet after all he rather liked the change.
"Really, aren't you enjoying it down here?" he asked.
"No; I am not. I'm all out of my element. I don't mind the work so much
as I do the people. They despise me as a worldling, and I don't like
being despised." For the moment, it was the old Phebe who was speaking.
"Don't tell," she begged. "I'd rather die than have them know it at home.
How long are you going to stay here?"
"About a week, I only came over last night."
"I don't see why I am glad to see you," Phebe said, with characteristic
frankness. "I didn't know you much at Quantuck; it probably is because I
associate you with the home people. You used to be around with Hope a
"What's the use of analyzing it?" he answered. "I'm here, and you are
homesick and glad to see me. That's enough for any practical purposes.
When are you going to play golf with me?"
"Can you really play?"
"I shouldn't dare ask you, if I couldn't. One thing that has brought me
over here is a thirsting to beat you."
"I haven't touched a club since I came."
"Did it ever occur to you, Miss McAlister, that you were very lazy?"
"Did it ever occur to you, Mr. Barrett, that you were outspoken?"
Like a pair of children, they laughed together, and Phebe suddenly
discovered that his eyes were singularly clear and frank. She also
discovered that the day was much finer than she had supposed, the
sunlight clearer, the air more bracing.
"We may as well cry quits," she said. "I fought you rather violently; you
retaliated by telling my family the one sealed chapter of my life."
"But if they don't know it--"
"They do know it; but not my share in it."
For a little distance they strolled along in silence. Then Phebe asked
"You said, that night at Quantuck, that you were in the middle of some
work, when I ran into you. Did I break it up entirely; or have you ever
"Then you haven't seen the papers?" he asked, with boyish egotism.
"Yes, I always read them. What then?"
"My symphonic poem is to come out soon."
"Oh, I don't ever read the music notes. I don't know much about
"And care less?" he asked a little shortly.
"Oh, I don't mind it much. I don't often go to concerts; but I like it
behind palms at receptions."
For a moment, he looked at her, in doubt whether or not she was jesting.
Then as her face suggested no humorous intent, his color came.
"What about it?" she inquired. "How is it coming out?"
"I didn't know as you would be interested."
"Of course. I am interested in you, even if I don't care a fig for your
music," Phebe answered, with a bluntness that should have been death to
"It is going to be given in New York, on the twelfth of December," he
said, and Phebe wondered at the slight catch in his breath. "I'm to