Part 2 out of 7
and lace at her wrists as she came. Her handsome kindly face and her
big shapely hands were still moist and glowing from soap and warm
water, and the shining rings of black hair at her temples were
"This is all my doin', Dad," said she, comfortably, as she and her
flock entered the dining-room. "Put the soup on, Alma. I'm the one
that was goin' to be prompt at dinner, too!" she added, with a
superintending glance for all the children, as she tied on little
F.X. Costello, Senior, undertaker by profession, and mayor by an
immense majority, was already at the head of the table.
"Late, eh, Mommie?" said he, good-naturedly. He threw his newspaper
on the floor, cast a householder's critical glance at the lights and
the fire, and pushed his neatly placed knives and forks to right and
left carelessly with both his fat hands.
The room was brilliantly lighted and warm. A great fire roared in
the old-fashioned black marble grate, and electric lights blazed
everywhere. Everything in the room, and in the house, was costly,
comfortable, incongruous, and hideous. The Costellos were very rich,
and had been very poor; and certain people were fond of telling of
the queer, ridiculous things they did, in trying to spend their
money. But they were very happy, and thought their immense, ugly
house was the finest in the city, or in the world.
"Well, an' what's the news on the Rialter?" said the head of the
house now, busy with his soup.
"You'll have the laugh on me, Dad," his wife assured him, placidly.
"After all my sayin' that nothing'd take me to Father Crowley's
"Oh, that was it?" said the mayor. "What's he goin' to have,--a
"--AND a fair too!" supplemented Mrs. Costello. There was an
interval devoted on her part to various bibs and trays, and a low
aside to the waitress. Then she went on: "As you know, I went,
meanin' to beg off. On account of baby bein' so little, and Leo's
cough, and the paperers bein' upstairs,--and all! I thought I'd just
make a donation, and let it go at that. But the ladies all kind of
hung back--there was very few there--and I got talkin'--"
"Well,'tis but our dooty, after all," said the mayor, nodding
"That's all, Frank. Well! So finally Mrs. Kiljohn took the coffee,
and the Lemmon girls took the grab-bag. The Guild will look out for
the concert, and I took one fancy-work booth, and of course the
Children of Mary'll have the other, just like they always do."
"Oh, was Grace there?" Teresa was eager to know.
"Grace was, darlin'."
"And we're to have the fancy-work! You'll help us, won't you,
mother? Goody--I'm in that!" exulted Teresa.
"I'm in that, too!" echoed Alanna, quickly.
"A lot you are, you baby!" said Leo, unkindly.
"You're not a Child of Mary, Alanna," Teresa said promptly and
"Well--WELL--I can help!" protested Alanna, putting up her lip.
Can't I, mother? "CAN'T _I_, mother?"
"You can help ME, dovey," said her mother, absently. "I'm not goin'
to work as I did for Saint Patrick's Bazaar, Dad, and I said so!
Mrs. O'Connell and Mrs. King said they'd do all the work, if I'd
just be the nominal head. Mary Murray will do us some pillers--
leather--with Gibsons and Indians on them. And I'll have Lizzie
Bayne up here for a month, makin' me aprons and little Jappy
wrappers, and so on."
She paused over the cutlets and the chicken pie, which she had been
helping with an amazing attention to personal preference. The young
Costellos chafed at the delay, but their mother's fine eyes saw them
"Kelley & Moffat ought to let me have materials at half price," she
reflected aloud. "My bill's two or three hundred a month!"
"You always say that you're not going to do a thing, and then get in
and make more than any other booth!" said Dan, proudly.
"Oh, not this year, I won't," his mother assured him. But in her
heart she knew she would.
"Aren't you glad it's fancy-work?" said Teresa. "It doesn't get all
sloppy and mussy like ice-cream, does it, mother?"
"Gee, don't you love fairs!" burst out Leo, rapturously.
"Sliding up and down the floor before the dance begins, Dan, to work
in the wax?" suggested Jimmy, in pleasant anticipation. "We go every
day and every night, don't we, mother?"
"Ask your father," said Mrs. Costello, discreetly.
But the Mayor's attention just then was taken by Alanna, who had
left her chair to go and whisper in his ear.
"Why, here's Alanna's heart broken!" said he, cheerfully, encircling
her little figure with a big arm.
Alanna shrank back suddenly against him, and put her wet cheek on
"Now, whatever is it, darlin'?" wondered her mother,
sympathetically, but without concern. "You've not got a pain, have
"She wants to help the Children of Mary!" said her father, tenderly.
"She wants to do as much as Tessie does!"
"Oh, but, Dad, she CAN'T!" fretted Teresa. "She's not a Child of
Mary! She oughtn't to want to tag that way. Now all the other girls'
sisters will tag!"
"They haven't got sisters!" said Alanna, red-cheeked of a sudden.
"Why, Mary Alanna Costello, they have too! Jean has, and Stella has,
and Grace has her little cousins!" protested Teresa, triumphantly.
"Never mind, baby," said Mrs. Costello, hurriedly. "Mother'll find
you something to do. There now! How'd you like to have a raffle book
on something,--a chair or a piller? And you could get all the names
yourself, and keep the money in a little bag--"
"Oh, my! I wish I could!" said Jim, artfully. "Think of the last
night, when the drawing comes! You'll have the fun of looking up the
winning number in your book, and calling it out, in the hall."
"Would I, Dad?" said Alanna, softly, but with dawning interest.
"And then, from the pulpit, when the returns are all in,"
contributed Dan, warmly, "Father Crowley will read out your name,--
With Mrs. Frank Costello's booth--raffle of sofa cushion, by Miss
Alanna Costello, twenty-six dollars and thirty-five cents!"
"Oo--would he, Dad?" said Alanna, won to smiles and dimples by this
"Of course he would!" said her father. "Now go back to your seat,
Machree, and eat your dinner. When Mommer takes you and Tess to the
matinee to-morrow, ask her to bring you in to me first, and you and
I'll step over to Paul's, and pick out a table or a couch, or
something. Eh, Mommie?"
"And what do you say?" said that lady to Alanna, as the radiant
little girl went back to her chair.
Whereupon Alanna breathed a bashful "Thank you, Dad," into the
ruffled yoke of her frock, and the matter was settled.
The next day she trotted beside her father to Paul's big furniture
store, and after long hesitation selected a little desk of shining
brass and dull oak.
"Now," said her father, when they were back in his office, and
Teresa and Mrs. Costello were eager for the matinee, "here's your
book of numbers, Alanna. And here, I'll tie a pencil and a string to
it. Don't lose it. I've given you two hundred numbers at a quarter
each, and mind the minute any one pays for one, you put their name
down on the same line!"
"Oo,--oo!" said Alanna in pride. "Two hundred! That's lots of money,
isn't it, Dad? That's eleven or fourteen dollars, isn't it, Dad?"
"That's fifty dollars, goose!" said her father making a dot with the
pencil on the tip of her upturned little nose.
"Oo!" said Teresa, awed. Hatted, furred, and muffed, she leaned on
her father's shoulder.
"Oo--Dad!" whispered Alanna, with scarlet cheeks.
"So NOW!" said her mother, with a little nod of encouragement and
warning. "Put it right in your muff, lovey. Don't lose it. Dan or
Jim will help you count your money, and keep things straight."
"And to begin with, we'll all take a chance!" said the mayor,
bringing his fat palm, full of silver, up from his pocket. "How old
are you, Mommie?"
"I'm thirty-seven,--all but, as well you know, Frank!" said his
"Thirty-six AND thirty-seven for you, then!" He wrote her name
opposite both numbers. "And here's the mayor on the same page,--
forty-four! And twelve for Tessie, and eight for this highbinder on
my knee, here! And now we'll have one for little Gertie!"
Gertrude Costello was not yet three months old, her mother said.
"Well, she can have number one, anyway!" said the mayor. "You make a
rejooced rate for one family, I understand, Miss Costello?"
"I DON'T!" chuckled Alanna, locking her thin little arms about his
neck, and digging her chin into his eye. So he gave her full price,
and she went off with her mother in a state of great content,
between rows and rows of coffins, and cases of plumes, and handles
and rosettes, and designs for monuments.
"Mrs. Church will want some chances, won't she, mother?" she said
"Let Mrs. Church alone, darlin'," advised Mrs. Costello. "She's not
a Catholic, and there's plenty to take chances without her!"
Alanna reluctantly assented; but she need not have worried. Mrs.
Church voluntarily took many chances, and became very enthusiastic
about the desk.
She was a pretty, clever young woman, of whom all the Costellos were
very fond. She lived with a very young husband, and a very new baby,
in a tiny cottage near the big Irish family, and pleased Mrs.
Costello by asking her advice on all domestic matters and taking it.
She made the Costello children welcome at all hours in her tiny,
shining kitchen, or sunny little dining-room. She made them candy
and told them stories. She was a minister's daughter, and wise in
many delightful, girlish, friendly ways.
And in return Mrs. Costello did her many a kindly act, and sent her
almost daily presents in the most natural manner imaginable.
But Mrs. Church made Alanna very unhappy about the raffled desk. It
so chanced that it matched exactly the other furniture in Mrs.
Church's rather bare little drawing-room, and this made her eager to
win it. Alanna, at eight, long familiar with raffles and their ways,
realized what a very small chance Mrs. Church stood of getting the
desk. It distressed her very much to notice that lady's growing
certainty of success.
She took chance after chance. And with every chance she warned
Alanna of the dreadful results of her not winning, and Alanna, with
a worried line between her eyes, protested her helplessness afresh.
"She WILL do it, Dad!" the little girl confided to him one evening,
when she and her book and her pencil were on his knee. "And it
WORRIES me so."
"Oh, I hope she wins it," said Teresa, ardently. "She's not a
Catholic, but we're praying for her. And you know people who aren't
Catholics, Dad, are apt to think that our fairs are pretty--pretty
MONEY-MAKING, you know!"
"And if only she could point to that desk," said Alanna, "and say
that she won it at a Catholic fair."
"But she won't," said Teresa, suddenly cold.
"I'm PRAYING she will," said Alanna, suddenly.
"Oh, I don't think you ought, do you, Dad?" said Teresa, gravely.
"Do you think she ought, Mommie? That's just like her pouring her
holy water over the kitten. You oughtn't to do those things."
"I ought to," said Alanna, in a whisper that reached only her
"You suit me, whatever you do," said Mayor Costello; "and Mrs.
Church can take her chances with the rest of us."
Mrs. Church seemed to be quite willing to do so. When at last the
great day of the fair came, she was one of the first to reach the
hall, in the morning, to ask Mrs. Costello how she might be of use.
"Now wait a minute, then!" said Mrs. Costello, cordially. She
straightened up, as she spoke, from an inspection of a box of fancy-
work. "We could only get into the hall this hour gone, my dear, and
'twas a sight, after the Native Sons' Banquet last night. It'll be a
miracle if we get things in order for to-night. Father Crowley said
he'd have three carpenters here this morning at nine, without fail;
but not one's come yet. That's the way!"
"Oh, we'll fix things," said Mrs. Church, shaking out a dainty
Alanna came briskly up, and beamed at her. The little girl was
driving about on all sorts of errands for her mother, and had come
in to report.
"Mother, I went home," she said, in a breathless rush, "and told
Alma four extra were coming to lunch, and here are your big
scissors, and I told the boys you wanted them to go out to Uncle
Dan's for greens, they took the buckboard, and I went to Keyser's
for the cheese-cloth, and he had only eighteen yards of pink, but he
thinks Kelley's have more, and there are the tacks, and they don't
keep spool-wire, and the electrician will be here in ten minutes."
"Alanna, you're the pride of me life," said her mother, kissing her.
"That's all now, dearie. Sit down and rest."
"Oh, but I'd rather go round and see things," said Alanna, and off
The immense hall was filled with the noise of voices, hammers, and
laughter. Groups of distracted women were forming and dissolving
everywhere around chaotic masses of boards and bunting. Whenever a
carpenter started for the door, or entered it, he was waylaid,
bribed, and bullied by the frantic superintendents of the various
booths. Messengers came and went, staggering under masses of
evergreen, carrying screens, rope, suit-cases, baskets, boxes,
Japanese lanterns, freezers, rugs, ladders, and tables.
Alanna found the stage fascinating. Lunch and dinner were to be
served there, for the five days of the fair, and it had been set
with many chairs and tables, fenced with ferns and bamboo. Alanna
was charmed to arrange knives and forks, to unpack oily hams and
sticky cakes, and great bowls of salad, and to store them neatly
away in a green room.
The grand piano had been moved down to the floor. Now and then an
audacious boy or two banged on it for the few moments that it took
his mother's voice or hands to reach him. Little girls gently played
The Carnival of Venice or Echoes of the Ball, with their scared eyes
alert for reproof. And once two of the "big" Sodality girls came up,
assured and laughing and dusty, and boldly performed one of their
convent duets. Some of the tired women in the booths straightened up
and clapped, and called "encore!"
Teresa was not one of these girls. Her instrument was the violin;
moreover, she was busy and absorbed at the Children of Mary's booth,
which by four o'clock began to blossom all over its white-draped
pillars and tables with ribbons and embroidery and tissue paper, and
cushions and aprons and collars, and all sorts of perfumed
The two priests were constantly in evidence, their cassocks and
hands showing unaccustomed dust.
And over all the confusion, Mrs. Costello shone supreme. Her brisk,
big figure, with skirts turned back, and a blue apron still further
protecting them, was everywhere at once; laughter and encouragement
marked her path. She wore a paper of pins on the breast of her silk
dress, she had a tack hammer thrust in her belt. In her apron
pockets were string, and wire, and tacks. A big pair of scissors
hung at her side, and a pencil was thrust through her smooth black
hair. She advised and consulted and directed; even with the priests
it was to be observed that her mild, "Well, Father, it seems to me,"
always won the day. She led the electricians a life of it; she
became the terror of the carpenters' lives.
Where was the young lady that played the violin going to stay? Send
her up to Mrs. Costello's.--Heavens! We were short a tablecloth! Oh,
but Mrs. Costello had just sent Dan home for one.--How on earth
could the Male Quartette from Tower Town find its way to the hall?
Mrs. Costello had promised to tell Mr. C. to send a carriage for
She came up to the Children of Mary's booth about five o'clock.
"Well, if you girls ain't the wonders!" she said to the tired little
Sodalists, in a tone of unbounded admiration and surprise. "You make
me ashamed of me own booth. This is beautiful."
"Oh, do you think so, mother?" said Teresa, wistfully, clinging to
her mother's arm.
"I think it's grand!" said Mrs. Costello, with conviction. There was
a delighted laugh. "I'm going to bring all the ladies up to see it."
"Oh, I'm so glad!" said all the girls together, reviving visibly.
"An' the pretty things you got!" went on the cheering matron.
"You'll clear eight hundred if you'll clear a cent. And now put me
down for a chance or two; don't be scared, Mary Riordan; four or
five! I'm goin' to bring Mr. Costeller over here to-night, and don't
you let him off too easy."
Every one laughed joyously.
"Did you hear of Alanna's luck?" said Mrs. Costello. "When the
Bishop got here he took her all around the hall with him, and
between this one and that, every last one of her chances is gone.
She couldn't keep her feet on the floor for joy. The lucky girl!
They're waitin' for you, Tess, darlin', with the buckboard. Go home
and lay down awhile before dinner."
"Aren't you lucky!" said Teresa, as she climbed a few minutes later
into the back seat with Jim, and Dan pulled out the whip.
Alanna, swinging her legs, gave a joyful assent. She was too happy
to talk, but the other three had much to say.
"Mother thinks we'll make eight hundred dollars," said Teresa.
"GEE!" said the twins together, and Dan added, "If only Mrs. Church
wins that desk now."
"Who's going to do the drawing of numbers?" Jimmy wondered.
"Bishop," said Dan, "and he'll call down from the platform, 'Number
twenty-six wins the desk.' And then Alanna'll look in her book, and
pipe up and say, 'Daniel Ignatius Costello, the handsomest fellow in
the parish, wins the desk.'"
"Twenty-six is Harry Plummer," said Alanna, seriously, looking up
from her chance book, at which they all laughed.
"But take care of that book," warned Teresa, as she climbed down.
"Oh, I will!" responded Alanna, fervently.
And through the next four happy days she did, and took the
precaution of tying it by a stout cord to her arm.
Then on Saturday, the last afternoon, quite late, when her mother
had suggested that she go home with Leo and Jack and Frank and
Gertrude and the nurses, Alanna felt the cord hanging loose against
her hand, and looking down, saw that the book was gone.
She was holding out her arms for her coat when this took place, and
she went cold all over. But she did not move, and Minnie buttoned
her in snugly, and tied the ribbons of her hat with cold, hard
knuckles, without suspecting anything.
Then Alanna disappeared and Mrs. Costello sent the maids and babies
on without her. It was getting dark and cold for the small
But the hour was darker and colder for Alanna. She searched and she
hoped and she prayed in vain. She stood up, after a long hands-and-
knees expedition under the tables where she had been earlier, and
pressed her right hand over her eyes, and said aloud in her misery,
"Oh, I CAN'T have lost it! I CAN'T have. Oh, don't let me have lost
She went here and there as if propelled by some mechanical force, a
wretched, restless little figure. And when the dreadful moment came
when she must give up searching, she crept in beside her mother in
the carriage, and longed only for some honorable death.
When they all went back at eight o'clock, she recommenced her search
feverishly, with that cruel alternation of hope and despair and
weariness that every one knows. The crowds, the lights, the music,
the laughter, and the noise, and the pervading odor of pop-corn were
not real, when a shabby, brown little book was her whole world, and
she could not find it.
"The drawing will begin," said Alanna, "and the Bishop will call out
the number! And what'll I say? Every one will look at me; and HOW
can I say I've lost it! Oh, what a baby they'll call me!"
"Father'll pay the money back," she said, in sudden relief. But the
impossibility of that swiftly occurred to her, and she began hunting
again with fresh terror.
"But he can't! How can he? Two hundred names; and I don't know them,
or half of them."
Then she felt the tears coming, and she crept in under some benches,
She lay there a long time, listening to the curious hum and buzz
above her. And at last it occurred to her to go to the Bishop, and
tell this old, kind friend the truth.
But she was too late. As she got to her feet, she heard her own name
called from the platform, in the Bishop's voice.
"Where's Alanna Costello? Ask her who has number eighty-three on the
desk. Eighty-three wins the desk! Find little Alanna Costello!"
Alanna had no time for thought. Only one course of action occurred
to her. She cleared her throat.
"Mrs. Will Church has that number, Bishop," she said.
The crowd about her gave way, and the Bishop saw her, rosy,
embarrassed, and breathless.
"Ah, there you are!" said the Bishop. "Who has it?"
"Mrs. Church, your Grace," said Alanna, calmly this time.
"Well, did you EVER," said Mrs. Costello to the Bishop. She had gone
up to claim a mirror she had won, a mirror with a gold frame, and
lilacs and roses painted lavishly on its surface.
"Gee, I bet Alanna was pleased about the desk!" said Dan in the
"Mrs. Church nearly cried," Teresa said. "But where'd Alanna go to?
I couldn't find her until just a few minutes ago, and then she was
"It's my opinion she was dead tired," said her mother. "Look how
sound she's asleep! Carry her up, Frank. I'll keep her in bed in the
They kept Alanna in bed for many mornings, for her secret weighed on
her soul, and she failed suddenly in color, strength, and appetite.
She grew weak and nervous, and one afternoon, when the Bishop came
to see her, worked herself into such a frenzy that Mrs. Costello
wonderingly consented to her entreaty that he should not come up.
She would not see Mrs. Church, nor go to see the desk in its new
house, nor speak of the fair in any way. But she did ask her mother
who swept out the hall after the fair.
"I did a good deal meself," said Mrs. Costello, dashing one hope to
the ground. Alanna leaned back in her chair, sick with
One afternoon, about a week after the fair, she was brooding over
the fire. The other children were at the matinee, Mrs. Costello was
out, and a violent storm was whirling about the nursery windows.
Presently, Annie, the laundress, put her frowsy head in at the door.
She was a queer, warm-hearted Irish girl; her big arms were still
streaming from the tub, and her apron was wet.
"Ahl alone?" said Annie, with a broad smile.
"Yes; come in, won't you, Annie?" said little Alanna.
"I cahn't. I'm at the toobs," said Annie, coming in, nevertheless.
"I was doin' all the tableclot's and napkins, an' out drops your
"My--what did you say?" said Alanna, very white.
"Your little buke," said Annie. She laid the chance book on the
table, and proceeded to mend the fire.
Alanna sank back in her chair. She twisted her fingers together, and
tried to think of an appropriate prayer.
"Thank you, Annie," she said weakly, when the laundress went out.
Then she sprang for the book. It slipped twice from her cold little
fingers before she could open it.
"Eighty-three!" she said hoarsely. "Sixty--seventy--eighty-three!"
She looked and looked and looked. She shut the book and opened it
again, and looked. She laid it on the table, and walked away from
it, and then came back suddenly, and looked. She laughed over it,
and cried over it, and thought how natural it was, and how wonderful
it was, all in the space of ten blissful minutes.
And then, with returning appetite and color and peace of mind, her
eyes filled with pity for the wretched little girl who had watched
this same sparkling, delightful fire so drearily a few minutes ago.
Her small soul was steeped in gratitude. She crooked her arm and put
her face down on it, and sank to her knees.
"NEW white dress, is it?" said Mrs. Costello in bland surprise.
"Well, my, my, my! You'll have Dad and me in the poorhouse!"
She had been knitting a pink and white jacket for somebody's baby,
but now she put it into the silk bag on her knee, dropped it on the
floor, and with one generous sweep of her big arms gathered Alanna
into her lap instead. Alanna was delighted to have at last attracted
her mother's whole attention, after some ten minutes of unregarded
whispering in her ear. She settled her thin little person with the
conscious pleasure of a petted cat.
"What do you know about that, Dad?" said Mrs. Costello, absently, as
she stiffened the big bow over Alanna's temple into a more erect
position. "You and Tess could wear your Christmas procession
dresses," she suggested to the little girl.
Teresa, apparently absorbed until this instant in what the young
Costellos never called anything but the "library book," although
that volume changed character and title week after week, now shut it
abruptly, came around the reading-table to her mother's side, and
said in a voice full of pained reminder:
"Mother! EVERY ONE will have new white dresses and blue sashes for
"I bet you Superior won't!" said Jim, frivolously, from the picture-
puzzle he and Dan were reconstructing. Alanna laughed joyously, but
Teresa looked shocked.
"Mother, ought he say that about Superior?" she asked.
"Jimmy, don't you be pert about the Sisters," said his mother,
mildly. And suddenly the Mayor's paper was lowered, and he was
looking keenly at his son over his glasses.
"What did you say, Jim?" said he. Jim was instantly smitten scarlet
and dumb, but Mrs. Costello hastily explained that it was but a bit
of boy's nonsense, and dismissed it by introducing the subject of
the new white dresses.
"Well, well, well! There's nothing like having two girls in
society!" said the Mayor, genially, winding one of Teresa's curls
about his fat finger. "What's this for, now? Somebody graduating?"
"It's Mother Superior's Golden Jubilee," explained Teresa, "and
there will be a reunion of 'lumnae, and plays by the girls, you
know, and duets by the big girls, and needlework by the Spanish
girls. And our room and Sister Claudia's is giving a new chapel
window, a dollar a girl, and Sister Ligouri's room is giving the
"And our room is giving a spear," said Alanna, uncertainly.
"A spear, darlin'?" wondered her mother. "What would you give that
to Superior for?" Jim and Dan looked up expectantly, the Mayor's
mouth twitched. Alanna buried her face in her mother's neck, where
she whispered an explanation.
"Well, of course!" said Mrs. Costello, presently, to the company at
large. Her eye held a warning that her oldest sons did not miss. "As
she says, 'tis a ball all covered with islands and maps, Dad. A
globe, that's the other name for it!"
"Ah, yes, a spear, to be sure!" assented the Mayor, mildly, and
Alanna returned to view.
"But the best of the whole programme is the grandchildren's part,"
volunteered Teresa. "You know, Mother, the girls whose mothers went
to Notre Dame are called the 'grandchildren.' Alanna and I are,
there are twenty-two of us in all. And we are going to have a
special march and a special song, and present Superior with a
"And maybe Teresa's going to present it and say the salutation!"
"No, Marg'ret Hammond will," Teresa corrected her quickly.
"Marg'ret's three months older than me. First they were going to
have me, but Marg'ret's the oldest. And she does it awfully nicely,
doesn't she, Alanna? Sister Celia says it's really the most
important thing of the day. And we all stand round Marg'ret while
she does it. And the best of it all is, it's a surprise for
"Not a surprise like Christmas surprises," amended Alanna,
conscientiously. "Superior sort of knows we are doing something,
because she hears the girls practising, and she sees us going
upstairs to rehearse. But she will p'tend to be surprised."
"And it's new dresses all 'round, eh?" said her father.
"Oh, yes, we must!" said Teresa, anxiously.
"Well, I'll see about it," promised Mrs. Costello.
"Don't you want to afford the expense, mother?" Alanna whispered in
her ear. Mrs. Costello was much touched.
"Don't you worry about that, lovey!" said she. The Mayor had
presumably returned to his paper, but his absent eyes were fixed far
beyond the printed sheet he still held tilted carefully to the
"Marg'ret Hammond--whose girl is that, then?" he asked presently.
"She's a girl whose mother died," supplied Alanna, cheerfully.
"She's awfully smart. Sister Helen teaches her piano for nothing,--
she's a great friend of mine. She likes me, doesn't she, Tess?"
"She's three years older'n you are, Alanna," said Teresa, briskly,
"and she's in our room! I don't see how you can say she's a friend
of YOURS! Do you, mother?"
"Well," said Alanna, getting red, "she is. She gave me a rag when I
cut me knee, and one day she lifted the cup down for me when Mary
Deane stuck it up on a high nail, so that none of us could get
drinks, and when Sister Rose said, 'Who is talking?' she said Alanna
Costello wasn't 'cause she's sitting here as quiet as a mouse!'"
"All that sounds very kind and friendly to me," said Mrs. Costello,
"I expect that's Doctor Hammond's girl?" said the Mayor.
"No, sir," said Dan. "These are the Hammonds who live over by the
bridge. There's just two kids, Marg'ret and Joe, and their father.
Joe served the eight o'clock Mass with me one week,--you know, Jim,
the week you were sick."
"Sure," said Jim. "Hammond's a nice feller."
Their father scraped his chin with a fat hand.
"I know them," he said ruminatively. Mrs. Costello looked up.
"That's not the Hammond you had trouble with at the shop, Frank?"
"Well, I'm thinking maybe it is," her husband admitted. "He's had a
good deal of bad luck one way or another, since he lost his wife."
He turned to Teresa. "You be as nice as you can to little Marg'ret
Hammond, Tess," said he.
"I wonder who the wife was?" said Mrs. Costello. "If this little
girl is a 'grandchild,' I ought to know the mother. Ask her, Tess."
"I don't play with her much, mother. And she's sort of shy," she
"I'll ask her," said Alanna, boldly. "I don't care if she IS going
on twelve. She goes up to the chapel every day, and I'll stop her
to-morrow, and ask her! She's always friendly to me."
Mayor Costello had returned to his paper. But a few hours later,
when all the children except Gertrude were settled for the night,
and Gertrude, in a state of milky beatitude, was looking straight
into her mother's face above her with blue eyes heavy with sleep, he
enlightened his wife further concerning the Hammonds.
"He was with me at the shop," said the Mayor, "and I never was
sorrier to let any man go. But it seemed like his wife's death drove
him quite wild. First it was fighting with the other boys, and then
drink, and then complaints here and there and everywhere, and Kelly
wouldn't stand for it. I wish I'd kept him on a bit longer, myself,
what with his having the two children and all. He's got a fine head
on him, and a very good way with people in trouble. Kelly himself
was always sending him to arrange about flowers and carriages and
all. Poor lad! And then came the night he was tipsy, and got locked
in the warehouse--"
"I know," said Mrs. Costello, with a pitying shake of the head, as
she gently adjusted the sleeping Gertrude. "Has he had a job since,
"He was with a piano house," said her husband, uneasily, as he went
slowly on with his preparations for the night. "Two children, has
he? And a boy on the altar. 'Tis hard that the children have to pay
"Alanna'll find out who the wife was. She never fails me," said Mrs.
Costello, turning from Gertrude's crib with sudden decision in her
voice. "And I'll do something, never fear!"
Alanna did not fail. She came home the next day brimming with the
importance of her fulfilled mission.
"Her mother's name was Harmonica Moore!" announced Alanna, who could
be depended upon for unfailing inaccuracy in the matter of names.
Teresa and the boys burst into joyous laughter, but the information
was close enough for Mrs. Costello.
"Monica Moore!" she exclaimed. "Well, for pity's sake! Of course I
knew her, and a sweet, dear girl she was, too. Stop laughing at
Alanna, all of you, or I'll send you upstairs until Dad gets after
you. Very quiet and shy she was, but the lovely singing voice! There
wasn't a tune in the world she wouldn't lilt to you if you asked
her. Well, the poor child, I wish I'd never lost sight of her." She
pondered a moment." Is the boy still serving Mass at St. Mary's,
Dan?" she said then.
"Sure," said Jim. For Dan was absorbed in the task of restoring
Alanna's ruffled feelings by inserting a lighted match into his
"Well, that's good," pursued their mother. "You bring him home to
breakfast after Mass any day this week, Jim. And, Tess, you must
bring the little girl in after school. Tell her I knew her dear
mother." Mrs. Costello's eyes, as she returned placidly to the task
of labelling jars upon shining jars of marmalade, shone with their
most radiant expression.
Marg'ret and Joe Hammond were constant visitors in the big Costello
house after that. Their father was away, looking for work, Mrs.
Costello imagined and feared, and they were living with some vague
"lady across the hall." So the Mayor's wife had free rein, and she
used it. When Marg'ret got one of her shapeless, leaky shoes cut in
the Costello barn, she was promptly presented with shining new ones,
"the way I couldn't let you get a cold and die on your father,
Marg'ret, dear!" said Mrs. Costello. The twins' outgrown suits were
found to fit Joe Hammond to perfection, "and a lucky thing I thought
of it, Joe, before I sent them off to my sister's children in
Chicago!" observed the Mayor's wife. The Mayor himself heaped his
little guests' plates with the choicest of everything on the table,
when the Hammonds stayed to dinner. Marg'ret frequently came home
between Teresa and Alanna to lunch, and when Joe breakfasted after
Mass with Danny and Jim, Mrs. Costello packed his lunch with theirs,
exulting in the chance. The children became fast friends, and indeed
it would have been hard to find better playfellows for the young
Costellos, their mother often thought, than the clever, appreciative
Meantime, the rehearsals for Mother Superior's Golden Jubilee
proceeded steadily, and Marg'ret, Teresa, and Alanna could talk of
nothing else. The delightful irregularity of lessons, the enchanting
confusion of rehearsals, the costumes, programme, and decorations
were food for endless chatter. Alanna, because Marg'ret was so
genuinely fond of her, lived in the seventh heaven of bliss,
trotting about with the bigger girls, joining in their plans, and
running their errands. The "grandchildren" were to have a play,
entitled "By Nero's Command," in which both Teresa and Marg'ret
sustained prominent parts, and even Alanna was allotted one line to
speak. It became an ordinary thing, in the Costello house, to hear
the little girl earnestly repeating this line to herself at quiet
moments, "The lions,--oh, the lions!" Teresa and Marg'ret, in their
turn, frequently rehearsed a heroic dialogue which began with the
stately line, uttered by Marg'ret in the person of a Roman princess:
"My slave, why art thou always so happy at thy menial work?"
One day Mrs. Costello called the three girls to her sewing-room,
where a brisk young woman was smoothing lengths of snowy lawn on the
"These are your dresses, girls," said the matron. "Let Miss Curry
get the len'ths and neck measures. And look, here's the embroidery I
got. Won't that make up pretty? The waists will be all insertion,
"Me, too?" said Marg'ret Hammond, catching a rapturous breath.
"You, too," answered Mrs. Costello in her most matter-of-fact tone.
"You see, you three will be the very centre of the group, and it'll
look very nice, your all being dressed the same--why, Marg'ret,
dear!" she broke off suddenly. For Marg'ret, standing beside her
chair, had dropped her head on Mrs. Costello's shoulder and was
"I worried so about my dress," said she, shakily, wiping her eyes on
the soft sleeve of Mrs. Costello's shirt-waist; when a great deal of
patting, and much smothering from the arms of Teresa and Alanna had
almost restored her equilibrium, "and Joe worried too! I couldn't
write and bother my father. And only this morning I was thinking
that I might have to write and tell Sister Rose that I couldn't be
in the exhibition, after all!"
"Well, there, now, you silly girl! You see how much good worrying
does," said Mrs. Costello, but her own eyes were wet.
"The worst of it was," said Marg'ret, red-cheeked, but brave, "that
I didn't want any one to think my father wouldn't give it to me. For
you know"--the generous little explanation tugged at Mrs. Costello's
heart--"you know he would if he COULD!"
"Well, of course he would!" assented that lady, giving the loyal
little daughter a kiss before the delightful business of fitting and
measuring began. The new dresses promised to be the prettiest of
their kind, and harmony and happiness reigned in the sewing-room.
But it was only a day later that Teresa and Alanna returned from
school with faces filled with expressions of utter woe. Indignant,
protesting, tearful, they burst forth the instant they reached their
mother's sympathetic presence with the bitter tale of the day's
happenings. Marg'ret Hammond's father had come home again, it
appeared, and he was awfully, awfully cross with Marg'ret and Joe.
They weren't to come to the Costellos' any more, or he'd whip them.
And Marg'ret had been crying, and THEY had been crying, and Sister
didn't know what was the matter, and they couldn't tell her, and the
rehearsal was no FUN!
While their feeling was still at its height, Dan and Jimmy came in,
equally roused by their enforced estrangement from Joe Hammond. Mrs.
Costello was almost as much distressed as the children, and excited
and mutinous argument held the Costello dinner-table that night. The
Mayor, his wife noticed, paid very close attention to the
conversation, but he did not allude to it until they were alone.
"So Hammond'll take no favors from me, Mollie?"
"I suppose that's it, Frank. Perhaps he's been nursing a grudge all
these weeks. But it's cruel hard on the children. From his comin'
back this way, I don't doubt he's out of work, and where Marg'ret'll
get her white dress from now, I don't know!"
"Well, if he don't provide it, Tess'll recite the salutation," said
the Mayor, with a great air of philosophy. But a second later he
added, "You couldn't have it finished up, now, and send it to the
child on the chance?"
His wife shook her head despondently, and for several days went
about with a little worried look in her bright eyes, and a constant
dread of the news that Marg'ret Hammond had dropped out of the
exhibition. Marg'ret was sad, the little girls said, and evidently
missing them as they missed her, but up to the very night of the
dress rehearsal she gave no sign of worry on the subject of a white
Mrs. Costello had offered her immense parlors for the last rehearsal
of the chief performers in the plays and tableaux, realizing that
even the most obligingly blind of Mother Superiors could not appear
to ignore the gathering of some fifty girls in their gala dresses in
the convent hall, for this purpose. Alanna and Teresa were
gloriously excited over the prospect, and flitted about the empty
rooms on the evening appointed, buzzing like eager bees.
Presently a few of the nuns arrived, escorting a score of little
girls, and briskly ready for an evening of serious work. Then some
of the older girls, carrying their musical instruments, came in
laughing. Laughter and talk began to make the big house hum, the
nuns ruling the confusion, gathering girls into groups, suppressing
the hilarity that would break out over and over again, and anxious
to clear a corner and begin the actual work. A tall girl, leaning on
the piano, scribbled a crude programme, murmuring to the alert-faced
nun beside her as she wrote:
"Yes, Sister, and then the mandolins and guitars; yes, Sister, and
then Mary Cudahy's recitation; yes, Sister. Is that too near
Loretta's song? All right, Sister, the French play can go in
between, and then Loretta. Yes, Sister."
"Of course Marg'ret'll come, Tess,--or has she come?" said Mrs.
Costello, who was hastily clearing a table in the family sitting-
room upstairs, because it was needed for the stage setting. Teresa,
who had just joined her mother, was breathless.
"Mother! Something awful has happened!"
Mrs. Costello carefully transferred to the book-case the lamp she
had just lifted, dusted her hands together, and turned eyes full of
sympathetic interest upon her oldest daughter,--Teresa's tragedies
were very apt to be of the spirit, and had not the sensational
urgency that alarms from the boys or Alanna commanded.
"What is it then, darlin'?" said she.
"Oh, it's Marg'ret, mother!" Teresa clasped her hands in an ecstasy
of apprehension. "Oh, mother, can't you MAKE her take that white
Mrs. Costello sat down heavily, her kind eyes full of regret.
"What more can I do, Tess?" Then, with a grave headshake, "She's
told Sister Rose she has to drop out?"
"Oh, no, mother!" Teresa said distressfully. "It's worse than that!
She's here, and she's rehearsing, and what DO you think she's
wearing for an exhibition dress?"
"Well, how would I know, Tess, with you doing nothing but bemoaning
and bewildering me?" asked her mother, with a sort of resigned
despair. "Don't go round and round it, dovey; what is it at all?"
"It's a white dress," said Teresa, desperately, "and of course it's
pretty, and at first I couldn't think where I'd seen it before, and
I don't believe any of the other girls did. But they will! And I
don't know what Sister will say! She's wearing Joe Hammond's
surplice, yes, but she IS, mother!--it's as long as a dress, you
know, and with a blue sash, and all! It's one of the lace ones, that
Mrs. Deane gave all the altar-boys a year ago, don't you remember?
Don't you remember she made almost all of them too small?"
Mrs. Costello sat in stunned silence.
"I never heard the like!" said she, presently. Teresa's fears
"Oh, will Sister let her wear it, do you think, mother?"
"Well, I don't know, Tess." Mrs. Costello was plainly at a loss.
"Whatever could have made her think of it,--the poor child! I'm
afraid it'll make talk," she added after a moment's troubled
silence, "and I don't know what to do! I wish," finished she, half
to herself, "that I could get hold of her father for about one
"What would you do?" demanded Teresa, eagerly, in utter faith.
"Well, I couldn't do anything!" said her mother, with her wholesome
laugh. "Come, Tess," she added briskly, "we'll go down. Don't worry,
dear; we'll find some way out of it for Marg'ret."
She entered the parlors with her usual genial smile a few minutes
later, and the flow of conversation that never failed her.
"Mary, you'd ought always to wear that Greek-lookin' dress," said
Mrs. Costello, en passant. "Sister, if you don't want me in any of
the dances, I'll take meself out of your way! No, indeed, the Mayor
won't be annoyed by anything, girls, so go ahead with your duets,
for he's taken the boys off to the Orpheum an hour ago, the way they
couldn't be at their tricks upsettin' everything!" And presently she
laid her hand on Marg'ret Hammond's shoulder. "Are they workin' you
too hard, Marg'ret?"
Marg'ret's answer was smiling and ready, but Mrs. Costello read more
truthfully the color on the little face, and the distress in the
bright eyes raised to hers, and sighed as she found a big chair and
settled herself contentedly to watch and listen.
Marg'ret was wearing Joe's surplice, there was no doubt of that.
But, Mrs. Costello wondered, how many of the nuns and girls had
noticed it? She looked shrewdly from one group to another, studying
the different faces, and worried herself with the fancy that certain
undertones and quick glances WERE commenting upon the dress. It was
a relief when Marg'ret slipped out of it, and, with the other girls,
assumed the Greek costume she was to wear in the play. The Mayor's
wife, automatically replacing the drawing string in a cream-colored
toga lavishly trimmed with gold paper-braid, welcomed the little
respite from her close watching.
"By Nero's Command" was presently in full swing, and the room echoed
to stately phrases and glorious sentiments, in the high-pitched
clear voices of the small performers. Several minutes of these made
all the more startling a normal tone, Marg'ret Hammond's everyday
voice, saying sharply in a silence:
"Well, then, why don't you SAY it?"
There was an instant hush. And then another voice, that of a girl
named Beatrice Garvey, answered sullenly and loudly:
"I WILL say it, if you want me to!"
The words were followed by a shocked silence. Every one turned to
see the two small girls in the centre of the improvised stage, the
other performers drawing back instinctively. Mrs. Costello caught
her breath, and half rose from her chair. She had heard, as all the
girls knew, that Beatrice did not like Marg'ret, and resented the
prominence that Marg'ret had been given in the play. She guessed,
with a quickening pulse, what Beatrice had said.
"What is the trouble, girls?" said Sister Rose's clear voice
Marg'ret, crimson-cheeked, breathing hard, faced the room defiantly.
She was a gallant and pathetic little figure in her blue draperies.
The other child was plainly frightened at the result of the quarrel.
"Beatrice--?" said the nun, unyieldingly.
"She said I was a thief!" said Marg'ret, chokingly, as Beatrice did
There was a general horrified gasp, the nun's own voice when she
spoke again was angry and quick.
"Beatrice, did you say that to Marg'ret?"
"I said--I said--" Beatrice was frightened, but aggrieved too. "I
said I thought it was wrong to wear a surplice, that was made to
wear on the altar, as an exhibition dress, and Marg'ret said, 'Why?'
and I said because I thought it was--something I wouldn't say, and
Marg'ret said, did I mean stealing, and I said, well, yes, I did,
and then Marg'ret said right out, 'Well, if you think I'm a thief,
why don't you say so?'"
Nobody stirred. The case had reached the open court, and no little
girl present could have given a verdict to save her little soul.
"But--but--" the nun was bewildered, "but whoever did wear a
surplice for an exhibition dress? I never heard of such a thing!"
Something in the silence was suddenly significant. She turned her
gaze from the room, where it had been seeking intelligence from the
other nuns and the older girls, and looked back at the stage.
Marg'ret Hammond had dropped her proud little head, and her eyes
were hidden by the tangle of soft dark hair. Had Sister Rose needed
further evidence, the shocked faces all about would have supplied
"Marg'ret," she said, "were you going to wear Joe's surplice?"
Marg'ret did not answer.
"I'm sure, Sister, I didn't mean--" stammered Beatrice. Her voice
died out uncomfortably.
"Why were you going to do that, Marg'ret?" pursued the nun, quite at
Again Marg'ret did not answer.
But Alanna Costello, who had worked her way from a scandalized crowd
of little girls to Marg'ret's side, and who stood now with her small
face one blaze of indignation, and her small person fairly vibrating
with the violence of her breathing, spoke out suddenly. Her brave
little voice rang through the room.
"Well--well--" stammered Alanna, eagerly, "that's not a bad thing to
do! Me and Marg'ret were both going to do it, weren't we, Marg'ret?
We didn't think it would be bad to wear our own brothers' surplices,
did we, Marg'ret? I was going to ask my mother if we couldn't. Joe's
is too little for him, and Leo's would be just right for me, and
they're white and pretty--" She hesitated a second, her loyal little
hand clasping Marg'ret's tight, her eyes ranging the room bravely.
She met her mother's look, and gained fresh impetus from what she
saw there. "And MOTHER wouldn't have minded, would you, mother?" she
Every one wheeled to face Mrs. Costello, whose look, as she rose,
was all indulgent.
"Well, Sister, I don't see why they shouldn't," began her
comfortable voice. The tension over the room snapped at the sound of
it like a cut string. "After all," she pursued, now joining the
heart of the group, "a surplice is a thing you make in the house
like any other dress, and you know how girls feel about the things
their brothers wear, especially if they love them! Why," said Mrs.
Costello, with a delightful smile that embraced the room, "there
never were sisters more devoted than Marg'ret and my Alanna!
However"--and now a business-like tone crept in--"however, Sister,
dear, if you or Mother Superior has the slightest objection in the
world, why, that's enough for us all, isn't it, girls? We'll leave
it to you, Sister. You're the one to judge." In the look the two
women exchanged, they reached a perfect understanding.
"I think it's very lovely," said Sister Rose, calmly, "to think of a
little girl so devoted to her brother as Margaret is. I could ask
Superior, of course, Mary," she added to Mrs. Costello, "but I know
she would feel that whatever you decide is quite right. So that's
settled, isn't it, girls?"
"Yes, Sister," said a dozen relieved voices, the speakers glad to
chorus assent whether the situation in the least concerned them or
not. Teresa and some of the other girls had gathered about Marg'ret,
and a soothing pur of conversation surrounded them. Mrs. Costello
lingered for a few satisfied moments, and then returned to her
"Come now, girls, hurry!" said Sister Rose. "Take your places, and
let this be a lesson to us not to judge too hastily and
uncharitably. Where were we? Oh, yes, we'll go back to where Grace
comes in and says to Teresa, 'Here, even in the Emperor's very
palace, dost dare....' Come, Grace!"
"I knew, if we all prayed about it, your father'd let you!" exulted
Teresa, the following afternoon, when Marg'ret Hammond was about to
run down the wide steps of the Costello house, in the gathering
dusk. The Mayor came into the entrance hall, his coat pocket bulging
with papers, and his silk hat on the back of his head, to find his
wife and daughters bidding the guest good-by. He was
enthusiastically imformed of the happy change of event.
"Father," said Teresa, before fairly freed from his arms and his
kiss, "Marg'ret's father said she could have her white dress, and
Marg'ret came home with us after rehearsal, and we've been having
"And Marg'ret's father sent you a nice message, Frank," said his
"Well, that's fine. Your father and I had a good talk to-day,
Marg'ret," said the Mayor, cordially. "I had to be down by the
bridge, and I hunted him up. He'll tell you about it. He's going to
lend me a hand at the shop, the way I won't be so busy. 'Tis an
awful thing when a man loses his wife," he added soberly a moment
later, as they watched the little figure run down the darkening
"But now we're all good friends again, aren't we, mother?" said
Alanna's buoyant little voice. Her mother tipped her face up and
"You're a good friend,--that I know, Alanna!" said she.
"S IS FOR SHIFTLESS SUSANNA"
"You look glorious. What's the special programme you've laid out for
this morning, Sue?" said Susanna's husband, coming upon her in her
rose garden early on a certain perfect October morning.
"I FEEL glorious too" young Mrs. Fairfax said, returning his kiss
and dropping basket and scissors to bestow all her attention upon
his buttonhole rose. "There is no special occasion for all this
extravagance," she added, giving a complacent downward glance at the
filmy embroideries of her gown, and her small whiteshod feet. "In
fact, to-day breaks before me a long and delicious blank. I don't
know when I have had such a Saturday. I shall write letters this
morning--or perhaps wash my hair--I don't know. And then I'll take
Mrs. Elliot for a drive this afternoon, or take some fruit to the
Burkes, maybe, and stop for tea at the club. And if you decide to
dine in town, I'll have Emma set my dinner out on the porch and
commence my new Locke. And if you can beat that programme for sheer
idle bliss," said Susanna, "let me hear you do it!"
She finished fastening his rose, stepped back to survey it, and
raised to his eyes her own joyous, honest blue eyes, which still
were as candid as a nice child's. Jim Fairfax, keenly alive to the
delight of it, even after six months of marriage, kissed her again.
"You know, Jim," said Susanna, when they were presently sauntering
with their load of roses toward the house and breakfast, "apropos of
this new dress, I believe I put it on just BECAUSE there was no real
reason for it. It is so delightful sometimes to get into dainty
petties, and silk stockings, and a darling new gown, just as a
matter of course! All my life, you know, I've had just one good
outfit at a time, and sometimes less than that, and all the things I
wore every day were so awfully plain--!"
"I know, my darling," Jim said, a little gravely. For he was always
sorry to remember that there had been long years of poverty and
struggle in Susanna's life before the day when he had found her, an
underpaid librarian in a dark old law library, in a dark old street.
Susanna, buoyant, ambitious, and overworked, had never stopped in
her hard daily round long enough to consider herself pitiful, but
she could look back from her rose garden now to the days before she
knew Jim, and join him in a little shudder of reminiscence.
"I don't believe a long, idle day will ever seem anything but a
joyous holiday to me," she said now. "It seems so curious still, not
to be expected anywhere every morning!"
"Well, you may as well get used to it," Jim told her smilingly. But
a few minutes later, when Susanna was busy with the coffee-pot, he
looked up from a letter to say: "Here's a job for you, after all,
to-day, Sue! This--" and he flattened the crackling sheets beside
his plate, "this is from old Thayer."
"Thayer himself?" Susanna echoed appreciatively. For old Whitman
Thayer, in whose hands lay the giving of contracts far larger than
any that had as yet been handled by Jim or his senior partners in
the young firm of Reid, Polk & Fairfax, Architects, was naturally an
enormously important figure in his and Susanna's world. They spoke
of Thayer nearly every night, Jim reporting to his interested wife
that Thayer had "come in," or "hadn't come in," that Thayer had
"seemed pleased," that Thayer had "jumped" on this, or had "been
tickled to death" with that; and the Fairfax domestic barometer
"Go ON, Jim," said Susanna, in suspense.
"Why, it seems that his wife--she's awfully sweet and nice," Jim
proceeded, "is coming into town this afternoon, and she wonders if
it would be too much trouble for Mrs. Fairfax to come in and lunch
with her and help her with some shopping."
"Jim, it doesn't say that!" But Susanna's eyes were kindling with
joy at the thought. "Oh, Jim, what a chance! Doesn't that look as if
he really liked you!"
"Liked YOU, you mean," Jim said, giving her the letter. "Now I call
that a very friendly, decent thing for them to do," young Mr.
Fairfax went on musingly. "If you and she like each other, Sue--"
"Oh, don't worry, we will!" Mrs. Fairfax was always sure of her
touch upon a feminine heart.
"Wonder why he didn't think of Mrs. Reid or Mrs. Polk?" said Jim.
"Oh, Jim, they are sort of--stiff, don't you know?" Susanna returned
to her coffee, seasoning Jim's cup carefully before she added, with
a look of naive pleasure that Jim thought very charming: "You know I
rather THOUGHT that Mr. Thayer liked me just that one day I saw
"Well, you'll like her," Jim prophesied. "She's very sweet and
gentle, not very strong. They live right up the line there
somewhere. She rarely comes into town. Old Thayer is devoted to her,
and he always seems--" Jim hesitated. "I don't know," he went on, "I
may be all wrong about this, Sue, but Thayer always seems to be
protecting her, don't you know? I don't imagine he'd want to run her
up against society women like Jane Reid and Mrs. Polk. You're
younger and less affected; you're approachable. I don't know, but it
seems to me that way. Anyway," he finished with supreme
satisfaction, "I wouldn't take anything in the world for this
chance! It shows the old man is really in earnest."
"He says she'll be at the office at eleven," said Susanna. "That
means I must get the ten twenty-two."
"Sure. And take a taxi when you get to town. Got money? Got the
"Hydrangea hat," Susanna decided aloud. "New pongee, and pongee coat
hung in careless elegance over my arm. As the last chime of eleven
rings I will step into your office--"
"I hope to goodness you will!" said Jim, with an anxious look.
"You'll really get there, won't you, Sue? No slips?"
This might have seemed overemphatic to an unprejudiced outsider. But
no one who really knew Susanna would have blamed her young husband
for an utter disbelief in the likelihood of her getting anywhere at
any given time. Susanna's one glaring fault was a cheerful
indifference to the fixed plans of others. Engagements she forgot,
ignored, or cancelled at the last minute; dinner guests, arriving at
her lovely home, never dreamed how often the consternation of utter
surprise was hidden under the hilarious greetings of hostess and
host. Dressmakers and dentists charged Susanna mercilessly for
forgotten appointments; but an adoring circle of friends had formed
a sort of silent conspiracy to save her from herself, and socially
she suffered much less than she deserved.
"But some day you'll get an awful jolt; you'll get the lesson of
your life, Sue," Jim used to say, and Susanna always answered
"Oh, Jim, I know it!"
"My mother used to have a nursery rhyme about me," she told Jim on
one occasion. "It was one of those 'A is for Amiable Annie' things,
you know; 'K is for Kind little Katie, whose weight is one hundred
and eighty'--you've heard them, of course? Well, 'S was for
Shiftless Susanna.' I know the next line was, 'But such was the
charm of her manner'--but I've forgotten the rest. Whether mother
made that up for my especial benefit or not, I don't know."
"Well, you have the charm all right," Jim was obliged to confess,
for Susanna had an undeniable genius for adjustment and placation.
Nobody was angry long at Susanna, perhaps because so many other
people were always ready to step in gladly and fill any gaps in her
programme. She was too popular to be snubbed. And her excuses were
always so reasonable!
"You know I simply lose my mind at the telephone," she would plead.
"I accept anything then--it never occurs to me that we may have
engagements!" Or, "Well, the Jacksons said Thursday," she would
brilliantly elucidate, "and Mrs. Oliver said the twentieth, and it
never OCCURRED to me that it was the same day!"
And she was always willing--this was the maddening part of Susanna!-
-to own herself entirely in the wrong, and always ended any
conversation on the subject with a cheerful: "But anyway, I'm
improving, you admit that, don't you, Jim? I'm not nearly as bad as
I used to be!"
She said now very seriously: "Jim, darling, you may depend upon me.
I realize what this means, and I am perfectly delighted to have the
chance. At eleven to-day, 'one if by land, and two if by sea,' I'll
be at your office. Trust me!"
"I do, dearest," Jim said. And he went down the drive a little
later, under the blazing glory of the maples with great content in
his heart. Susanna, going about her pretty house briskly, felt so
sure of herself that the day's good work seemed half accomplished
She had adjusted the skirt of the pongee suit, and pinned the
hydrangea hat at a fascinating angle when the telephone rang.
Susanna slipped her bare arms into the stiff sleeves of a Mandarin
coat and crossed the hall to the instrument.
"Hello, Susanna!" said the cheerful voice of young Mrs. Harrington,
a neighbor and friend, at the other end of the telephone. "I just
rang up to know if I could come over early and help you out with
anything and whether--"
"Help me out with anything?" Mrs. Fairfax's voice ranged through
delicate shades of surprise to dawning consternation. "Help me out
"Why, you told me yourself that this was the day of the bridge-club
lunch at your house!" Mrs. Harrington said, almost indignantly. But
immediately she became mirthful. "Oh, Susanna, Susanna! You haven't
forgotten--oh, you HAVE! Oh, you poor girl, what will you do!
Listen, I could bring a--"
"Oh, my goodness, Ethel--and I've got to go to town!" Susanna's tone
was hushed with a sort of horror. "And those seven women will be
here at half-past twelve! And not ONE thing in the house--"
"Oh, you could get Ludovici as far as the lunch goes, Sue. But the
girls will think it's odd, perhaps. Couldn't you wait and take the
"Yes, I'll get Ludovici," Susanna decided hastily. "No, I couldn't
do that. But I'll tell you what I COULD do. If you'll be an angel,
Ethel, and do the honors until I get here, I could lunch early, get
through my business in town, and get the one-fifty train for home--"
"Well, that'll be all right. I'll explain," said the amiable Mrs.
A few minutes later Mrs. Fairfax left the telephone and went down to
the kitchen to explain to Emma and Veronica, the maids, that there
would be a luncheon for eight ladies served by a caterer, in her
home, that day, and that they must simply assist him. She herself
must be in town unfortunately, but Mrs. Harrington had very kindly
offered to come over and be hostess and play the eighth hand of
bridge afterward. Emma and Veronica, perhaps more hardened to these
emergencies than are ordinary maids, rose to the occasion, and
Susanna hurried off to her train satisfied that as far as the actual
luncheon was concerned, all would go well. But what the seven women
would think was another story!
"I don't suppose Mrs. Thayer wants to do so very much shopping,"
said Susanna to herself, hurrying along. "If I meet her at eleven
and we lunch at one, say, I don't see why I shouldn't get the one-
fifty train home. I'd get here before the girls had fairly started
playing bridge, and explain--somehow one can always explain things
so much better in person--"
"Or suppose we lunched at half-past twelve," her uneasy thoughts ran
on. "That gives us an hour and a half to shop--that ought to be
plenty. But we mustn't lose a minute getting started! Mrs. Thayer
will come up in her motor--that will save us time. We can start
right off the instant I get to Jim's office."
She stopped at the caterer's for a brief but satisfactory interview.
The caterer was an artist, but his enthusiasms this morning were
wasted upon Susanna.
"Yes, yes--cucumber sandwiches by all means," she assented hastily,
"and the ices--just as you like! Plain, I think--or did you say in
cases? I don't care. Only don't fail me, Mr. Ludovici."
Fail her? Mr. Ludovici's lexicon did not know the word. Susanna
breathed more freely as she crossed the sunny village street to the
The station platform was deserted and bare. Susanna, accustomed to a
breathless late arrival, could saunter with delightful leisure to
the ticket-seller's window.
"You've not forgotten the new time-table?" said the agent,
pleasantly, when they had exchanged greetings.
"Oh, does the change begin to-day?" Susanna looked blank.
"October sixteenth, winter schedule," he reminded her buoyantly.
"Going to be lots of engagements missed to-day!"
"But mine is very important and I cannot miss it," said Susanna,
displeased at his levity. "I MUST be in Mr. Fairfax's office at
"You won't be more than ten or twelve minutes late," said young Mr.
Green, consolingly. "You tell Mr. Fairfax it's up to the N.Y. and
Susanna smiled perfunctorily, but took her place in the train with a
sinking heart. She would be late, of course, and Jim would be angry,
of course. Late to-day, when every minute counted and the programme
allowed for not an instant's delay! Her eyes on the flying
countryside, she rehearsed her part, found herself eloquently
explaining to a pacified Jim, capturing a gracious Mrs. Thayer,
successfully reaching home again, and explaining to an entirely
amiable bridge club.
It could be done, of course, but it meant a pretty full day!
Susanna's mind reverted uneasily to the consideration that she had
already bungled matters. Oh, well, if she was late, she was late,
that was all; and if Jim was furious, why, Jim would simply have to
be furious! And she began her explanations again--
After all, it was but fifteen minutes past eleven when she walked
into her husband's office. But neither Jim nor Mrs. Thayer was
"Mr. Fairfax went out not three minutes ago," said the pretty
stenographer in the outer office. Susanna, brought to a full stop,
stared at her blankly.
"Yes, with Mrs. Thayer to the dentist. He said to say he was afraid
you had missed your train. There's a note."
The note was forthwith produced. Susanna read it frowningly. It was
rather conspicuously headed "Eleven-twelve!"
DEAREST GIRL: Can't wait any longer. Mrs. T. must see her dentist
(Archibald). I'm taking her up. Thayers and we lunch at the Palace
at one-thirty. Wait for me in my office. J. F.
"Oh, what is the matter with everything to-day!" Susanna burst out
in exasperation. "He's wild, of course. When does he ever sign
himself 'J. F.' to me! When did they go?" she asked Miss Perry,
briefly, with an unreasonable wish that she might somehow hold that
irreproachable young woman responsible.
"Just about three minutes ago," said Miss Perry. "He said that if
you had missed your train, you wouldn't be here for more than an
hour, and it was no use waiting."
"You see, it was a changed time-table, and he forgot it just as I
did," explained Susanna, pleased to find him fallible, even to that
"But HE was on time," fenced Miss Perry, innocently.
"They don't change the business trains," Susanna said coldly. And
she decided that she disliked this girl. She opened a magazine and
sat down by the open window.
The minutes ticked slowly by. The telephone rang, doors opened and
shut, and men came and went through the office. Susanna, opposed in
every fibre of her being to passive waiting, suddenly rose.
"Dr. Archibald is in the First National Bank Building, isn't he?"
she inquired. "I think I'll join Mrs. Thayer up there. There's no
use in my waiting here."
Miss Perry silently verified Dr. Archibald's address in the
telephone book, and to the First National Bank Building Susanna
immediately made her way. It was growing warmer now and the streets
seemed noisy and crowded, but no matter--"If I can only get to them
and SEE Jim!" thought Susanna.
In the pleasant shadiness of Dr. Archibald's office, rising from a
delightful mahogany arm-chair, Susanna presently asked if Mrs.
Thayer could be told that Mrs. Fairfax was there.
"I think Mrs. Thayer is gone," said the attendant pleasantly. "I'm
not sure, but I'll see."
In a few minutes she returned to inform Mrs. Fairfax that Mrs.
Thayer had just come in to have a bridge replaced, and was gone.
"You don't know where?" Susanna's voice was a trifle husky with
repressed emotion. She realized that she was getting a headache.
No, the attendant didn't know where.
So there was nothing for it but to go back to Jim's office, and back
Susanna accordingly went. She walked as fast as she could, conscious
of every separate hot step, and was nervous and headachy when she
entered Miss Perry's presence again.
Mr. Fairfax and Mrs. Thayer had not come in; no, but Miss Perry
reported that Mr. Fairfax had telephoned not ten minutes ago, and
seemed very anxious to get hold of his wife.
"Oh, dear, dear!" lamented Susanna. "And where is he now?"
Miss Perry couldn't say. "I wrote his message down," she said, with
sympathetic amusement at Susanna's crushed dismay. And, referring to
her notes, she repeated it:
"Mr. Fairfax said that Mrs. Thayer had had an appointment to see a
sick friend in a hospital this afternoon. But she has gone right out
there now instead, so that you and she can go shopping after lunch.
You are, please, to meet Mr. Fairfax and the Thayers at the Palace
for luncheon at half-past one; there'll be a table reserved. Mr.
Fairfax has a little business to attend to just now, but if you
don't mind waiting in the office, he thinks it's the coolest place
you could be. He wanted to know if you had the whole afternoon free-
"Oh, absolutely!" Susanna assented eagerly. This was not the time to
speak or think of the bridge club.
"And that was all," finished Miss Perry, "except he said perhaps you
would like to look at the plans of the orphanage. Mr. Fairfax got
them out to show to Mr. Thayer this afternoon. I can get them for
"Oh, thank you! I do want to see them!" said Susanna, gratefully.
And she established herself comfortably by the open window, the
orphanage plans, a stiff roll of blue paper, in her lap, her idle
eyes following the noonday traffic in the street below.
What a shame to have to sit here doing nothing, to-day of all days,
for nearly two hours! Susanna thought. Why, she could have met her
luncheon guests, seen that the meal was at least under way,
apologized in person, and then started for town. As it was, they
might be angry, and no wonder! And these were her neighbors and very
good friends, after all, the women upon whose good feeling half the
joy of her country home and garden depended. It was too bad!
She glanced at the blue-prints, but one of her sudden inspirations
turned the page blank. What time was it? Ten minutes of twelve. She
referred to her new timetable. Ten minutes of--why, she could just
catch the noon train, rush home, meet her guests, explain, and come
back easily on the one o'clock. But would it be wise? Why not?
Her thoughts in a jumble, Susanna hastily gathered her small
possessions together, moved to a decision by the always imperative
argument that in a few minutes it would be too late to decide.
"Heavens! I'm glad I thought of that!" she ejaculated, seating
herself in the train as the noon whistles shrilled all over the
city. A moment later she was a trifle disconcerted to find the
orphanage plans still in her hand.
"Well, this is surely one of my crazy days!" Susanna strapped the
stiff sheets firmly to her handbag. "I must not forget to take those
back," she told herself. "Jim will ask for them the very first
Her house; when she reached it, seemed quiet, seemed empty. Susanna
crossed the porch, wondering, and encountered the maid.
"Emma! Nobody come?"
"Sure you had the wrong day of it," said Emma, beaming. "Mrs.
Harrington fomed about an hour ago, and she says 'tis NEXT Saturday
"What do you mean?" said Susanna, sharply.
"'Tis not to-day they're comin', Mrs. Fairfax--"
"Nonsense!" Susanna said under her breath. She flew to her desk and
snatched up the scribbled card of engagements. "Why, it's no such
thing!" she said indignantly. "Of course it's to-day! October
sixteenth, as plain as print." And with her eyes still on the card
she reached for her desk telephone.
"Ethel," said Susanna, a moment later. "Listen, Ethel, this is
Susanna. Ethel, what made you say the club luncheon wasn't to-day?
This is my day to have the girls.... Certainly.... Why, I don't care
what she said, I have it written down!... Why, I think that's very
funny.... I have it written.... No, you can laugh all you want to,
but I know I'm right.... No, that's nothing. Jim will eat it all up
to-morrow; he says he never gets enough to eat on Sundays.... But I
can't understand, and I don't believe YET that I... Yes, it's
written right here; I've got my eyes on it now! It's the most
A little vexed at Mrs. Harrington's unbounded amusement, Susanna
terminated the conversation as soon as was decently possible, and
went kitchenward. In her anxiety not to miss her train back to the
city, she refused Teresa's offer of dainty sandwiches, pastries, and
tea, and merely stopped long enough to brush up her hair and to
ascertain by carefully enumerating them out loud that she had her
purse, her gloves, the orphanage plans, and the new time-table.
"This will seem very funny," said poor Susanna, gallantly to
herself, as she took her seat in the train and tried to ignore a
really sharp headache, "when once I see them! If I can only get hold
of Jim, and if the afternoon goes smoothly, I shan't mind anything!"
Only ten minutes late for her luncheon engagement, Susanna entered
the cool depths of the restaurant and, piloted by an impressed head
waiter, looked confidently for her own party. It was very pleasant
here, and the trays of salads and iced things that were borne
continually past her were very inviting.
But still there was no Mrs. Thayer and no Jim. Susanna waited a few
nervous minutes, sat down, got up again, and finally, at two
o'clock, went out into the blazing, unfriendly streets, and walked
the five short squares that lay between the restaurant and her
husband's office. A hot, dusty wind blew steadily against her; the
streets were full of happy girls and men with suit-cases, bound for
the country and a day or two of fresh air and idleness. Miss Perry
was putting the cover on her typewriter as Susanna entered the
office, her own suit-case waiting in a corner. She looked astonished
as Susanna came in.
"My goodness, Mrs. Fairfax!" she ejaculated. "We've been trying and
trying to get you by telephone! Mr. Fairfax was so anxious to get
hold of those orphanage plans. Mr. Thayer wanted--"
"I've been following him about all day," said Susanna, with an
undignified, but uncontrollable gulp. She sat down limply. "WHAT
happened to the luncheon plan?" she asked forlornly. "Where is Mr.
Miss Perry, perhaps softened by the sight of Susanna's filling eyes
and tired face, became very sympathetic. "Isn't it TOO bad--I know
you have! But you see Mrs. Thayer couldn't see her friend in the
hospital this morning, so she came right down here and got here not
ten minutes after you left. She said she couldn't wait for you, as
she had to be back at the hospital at two, so she would do a little
shopping herself and let the rest wait."
"Well," said Susanna, after a pause in which her very soul rebelled,
"it can't be helped, I suppose! Did Mr. Fairfax go out with her?"
"He was to take her somewhere for a cup of tea and then he was going
"Going home! But I've just come from there!"
"He thought he'd probably catch you there, I think. He was anxious
to get hold of those plans."
"Oh, I could CRY--" Susanna began despairingly. But indeed Miss
Perry needed no assurance of that. "I could cry!" said Susanna
again. "To-day," she expanded, "has been simply one miserable
accident after another! I hope it'll be a lesson to me! Well--" She
broke off short, for Miss Perry, while kind, was human, and was
visibly conscious that she had promised her brother and sister-in-
law to be at their house in East Auburndale, a populous suburb, long
before it was time to put the baby to bed. "I suppose there's
nothing for me to do but go home," finished Susanna, discontentedly.
"Accidents will happen!" trilled Miss Perry, blithely, hurrying for
Susanna went thoughtfully home, reflecting soberly upon the events
of the day. If she could but live this episode down, she told
herself; but meet and win Mrs. Thayer somehow in the near future;
but bring Jim to the point of entirely forgetting and forgiving the
whole disgraceful day, she would really reform. She would "keep
lists," she would "make notes," and she would "think twice." In
short, she would do all the things that those who had her good at
heart had been advising for the past ten years.
Of course, if the Thayers were resentful--refused to be placated--
Susanna made a little wry mouth. But they wouldn't be!
Still deep in stimulating thoughts of a complete reformation,
Susanna reached home again, crossed the deep-tiled porch with its
potted olives and gay awnings, entered the big hall now dim with
afternoon shadows. Now for Jim--!
But where was Jim?
"Mr. Fairfax is home, Emma?"
"Oh, there you are, Mrs. Fairfax! And us trying and trying to
telefome you! No ma'am, he's not home. He left on the three-twenty.
He'd only come out in a rush for some papers, and he had to get back
to town to see some one at once. There's a note--"
Susanna sat down. Her head was splitting, she was hungry and
exhausted, and, at the effort she made to keep the tears out of her
eyes, a wave of acute pain swept across her forehead. She opened the
If you can find a reliable messenger [said the note, without
preamble], I wish you would get those orphanage plans to me at
Thornton's office before six. I have to meet him there at four. The
matter is really important, or I would not trouble you. I'll dine
with Thayer at the club. J.F. The pretty hallway and the glaring
strip of light beyond the open garden door swam suddenly before
Susanna's eyes. The hand that held the note trembled.
"I could not be so mean to him!" said Susanna to herself. "But
perhaps he was tired and hot--poor Jim!" And aloud she said with
dignity: "I shall have to take this paper--these plans--in to Mr.
Fairfax, Emma. I'll catch the four-twenty."
"You'll be dead!" said Emma, sympathetically.
"My head aches," Mrs. Fairfax admitted briefly. But when she was
upstairs and alone she found herself suddenly giving way to the long
deferred burst of tears.
After a while she bathed her eyes, brushed her hair, and substituted
a more substantial gown for the pongee. Then she started out once
more, refreshed and more cheerful in spite of herself, and soothed
unconsciously by the quiet close of the lovely autumn afternoon.
Her own gateway was separated by a flight of shallow stone steps
from the road, and Susanna paused there on her way to the train to
gather her skirts safely for the dusty walk. And while she was
standing there she found her gaze suddenly riveted upon a motor-car
that, still a quarter of a mile away, was rapidly descend the slope
of the hill, its two occupants fairly shaken by its violent and
rapid approach. The road here was not wide, and curved on a sharp
grade, and Susanna always found the descent of a large car, like
this one, a matter of half-terrified fascination. But surely with
this car there was more than the ordinary danger, she thought, with
a sudden sick thumping at her heart. Surely here was something all
wrong! Surely no sane driver--
"That man is drunk," she said, quite aloud. "He cannot make it! He
Her voice broke on a gasp, and she pressed one hand tight over her
eyes. For with swift and terrible precision the accident had indeed
come to pass. The car skidded, turned, hung for a sickening second
on one wheel, struck the stone of the roadside fence with a horrible
grinding jar and toppled heavily over against the bank.
When Susanna uncovered her eyes again, and before she could move or
cry out in the dumb horror that had taken possession of her, she saw
a man in golfing wear run from the Porters' gate opposite; and
another motor, in which Susanna recognized the figure of a friend
and neighbor, Dr. Whitney, swept up beside the overturned one. When
she ran, as she presently found herself running, to the spot, other
men and women had gathered there, drawn from lawns and porches by
this sudden projection of tragedy into the gayety of their Saturday
"Hurt?" gasped Susanna, joining the group.
"The man is--dead, Billy says," said young Mrs. Porter, in lowered
tones, with an agitated clutch of Susanna's arm. "And, poor thing!
she doesn't realize it, and she keeps asking where her chauffeur is
and why he doesn't come to her!"
"Wouldn't you think people would have better sense than to keep a
man like that!" added another neighbor, Dexter Ellis, with a
bitterness born entirely of nervousness. "He was drunk as a lord!
Young and I were just coming out of my side gate--"
Every one talked at once--there was a confusion of excited comment.
Somebody had flung a carriage robe over the silent form of the man
as it lay tumbled in the dust and weeds; Susanna glanced toward it
with a shudder. Somehow she found herself supporting the car's other
occupant, the woman, who was half sitting and half lying on the bank
where she had fallen. The woman had opened her eyes and was looking
slowly about the group; she had pushed away the whiskey the doctor
held to her lips, but she looked sick and seemed in pain.
"I had just put the baby down when I heard Dex shout--" Susanna
could hear Mrs. Ellis saying behind her in low tones. "Oh, it is,
it's an outrage--they should have regarded it years ago," said
another voice. "Merest chance in the world that we took the side
gate," Dexter Ellis was saying, and some man's voice Susanna did not
know reiterated over and over: "Well, I guess he's run his last car,
poor fellow; I guess he's run his last car--"
"You feel better, don't you?" the doctor asked his patient,
encouragingly. "Just open your mouth and swallow this." And Susanna
said gently: "Just try it; you'll feel so much stronger!"
The woman turned upon her a pair of eyes as heavy as a sick
animal's, and moistened her lips. "Arm," she said with difficulty.
"Her arm's broken," said the doctor, in a low tone, "and I think her
leg, too. Kane has gone to wire for the ambulance. We'll get her
right into town."
"You can't take her to town!" Susanna ejaculated, turning so that
she might not be heard by the sufferer. "Take her in to my house."
"The hospital is really the most comfortable place for her, Mrs.
Fairfax," the doctor said guardedly. "I am afraid there is internal
injury. Her mind seems somewhat confused. You can't undertake the
"Ah, but you can't jolt the poor thing all the way into town--"
Susanna began again. Mrs. Porter, at her shoulder, interrupted her
in an earnest whisper:
"Sue, dear, it's always done. It won't take very long, and nobody
"I know just how Susanna feels," interrupted Mrs. Ellis, "but after
all, you never can tell--we don't know one thing about her--"
"She'll be taken good care of," finished the doctor, soothingly.
"Please--don't let them frighten--my husband--" said the woman
herself, slowly, her distressed eyes moving from one face to
another. "If I could--be moved somewhere before he hears--"
"We won't frighten him," Susanna assured her tenderly. "But will you
tell us your name so we may let him know?"
The injured woman frowned. "I did tell you--didn't I?" she asked
"No"--Susanna would use this tone in her nursery some day--"No,
dear, not yet."
"Tell us again," said the doctor, with too obvious an intention to
The woman gave him a look full of dignified reproach.
"If I could rest on your porch a little while," she said to Susanna,
ignoring the others rather purposely, "I should be quite myself
again. That will be best. Then I can think--I can't think now. These
people--and my head--"
And she tried to rise, supporting herself with a hand on Susanna's
arm. But with the effort the last vestige of color left her face,
and she slipped, unconscious, back to the grass.
"Dead?" asked Susanna, very white.
"No--no! Only fainted," Dr. Whitney said. "But I don't like it," he
added, his finger at the limp wrist.
"Bring her in, won't you?" Susanna urged with sudden decision. "I
simply can't let her be taken 'way up to town! This way--"
And, relieved to have it settled, she led them swiftly across the
garden and into the house, flung down the snowy covers of the guest-
room bed, and with Emma's sympathetic help established the stranger
"Trouble," whispered the injured woman apologetically, when she
opened her eyes upon walls and curtains rioting with pink roses, and
felt the delicious softness and freshness of the linen and pillows
"Oh, don't think of that--I love to do it!" Susanna said honestly,
patting her head. "A nurse is coming up from the village to look out
for you, and she and the doctor are going to make you more
The woman, fixing her with a dazed yet curiously intent look, formed
with her lips the words, "God bless you," and wearily shut her eyes.
Susanna, slipping out of the room a few minutes later, said over and
over again to herself, "I don't care--I'm glad I did it!"
Still, it was not very reassuring to hear the big hall clock strike
six, and suddenly to notice the orphanage plans lying where they had
been flung on the hall table.
"I wish it was the middle of next year," said Susanna, thoughtfully,
going out to sink wearily into a porch chair, "or even next week!
I'd pretend to be asleep when Jim came home to-night," she went on
gloomily, "if it wasn't my duty to sit up and explain that there are
a perfect stranger and a trained nurse in the house. Of course,
being there as I was, any humane person would have to do what I did,
but it does seem strange, this day of all days, that I had to be
there! And I wish I had thought to send those plans in by messenger-
-that would have been one thing the less to worry about, at least!--
What is it, Emma?"
For Emma, mildly repeating some question, had come out to the porch.
"Would you like tea, Mrs. Fairfax? I could bring it out here like
you had it last week with your book."
Susanna brightened. After all, she had not eaten for a long while;
tea would be very welcome. And the porch was delightful, and there
was the new Locke.
"Well, that was my original idea, Emma," said she, "and although the
day has not gone quite as I had planned, still there's no reason why
the idea should be changed. Bring a supper-tea, Emma, lots of
sandwiches--I'm combining three meals in one, Miss Smith," she broke
off to explain smilingly, as the nurse, trimly clad in white, came
to the doorway. "I've not eaten since breakfast. You must have some
tea with me. And how is she? Is her mind clearer?"
"Oh, dear me, yes! She's quite comfortable," Miss Smith said
cheerfully. "Doctor thinks there's no question of internal trouble.
Her arm is broken and her ankle badly wrenched, but that's all. And
she's so grateful to you, Mrs. Fairfax. It seems she has a perfect
horror of hospitals, and she feels that you've done such a
remarkably kind thing--taking her in. She asked to see you, and then
we're going to try to make her sleep. Oh, and may I telephone her
"Oh, she could give you his name then!" cried Susanna, in relief.
"Oh, I am glad! Indeed, you may telephone. Who is she?"
Miss Smith repeated the name and address.
Susanna, stared at her blankly. Then the most radiant of all her
ready smiles lighted her face.
"Well, this is really the most extraordinary day!" she said softly,
after a pause. "I'll come right up, Miss Smith, but perhaps you
might let me telephone for you first. I can get her husband easily.
I know just where he is. He and my own husband are dining together
this evening, as it happens--"
THE LAST CAROLAN
A blazing afternoon of mid-July lay warmly over the old Carolan
house, and over the dusty, neglected gardens that enclosed it. The
heavy wooden railing of the porch, half smothered in dry vines, was
hot to the touch, as were the brick walks that wound between parched
lawns and the ruins of old flowerbeds. The house, despite the charm
of its simple, unpretentious lines, looked shabby and desolate. Only
the great surrounding trees kept, after long years of neglect, their
beauty and dignity.
At the end of one of the winding paths was an old fountain. Its wide
stone basin was chipped, and the marble figure above it was
discolored by storm and sun. Weeds--such weeds as could catch a
foothold in the shallow layer of earth--had grown rank and high
where once water had brimmed clear and cool, and great lazy bees
boomed among them. Cut in the granite brim, had any one cared to
push back the dry leaves and sifted earth that obscured them, might
have been found the words:
Over land and water blown,
Come back to find your own.
A stone bench, sunk unevenly in the loose soil, stood near the
fountain in the shade of the great elms, and here two women were
sitting. One of them was Mary Moore, the doctor's wife, from the
village, a charming little figure in her gingham gown and wide hat.
The other was Jean Carolan, wife of the estate's owner, and mother
of Peter, the last Carolan.
Jean was a beautiful woman, glowing with the bloom of her early
thirties. Her eyes were moving contentedly over house and garden.
She gave Mrs. Moore's hand a sudden impulsive pressure. "Well, here
we are, Mary!" she said, smiling, "just as we always used to plan at
St. Mary's--keeping house in the country near each other, and
bringing up our children together!"
"I never forgot those plans of ours," said the doctor's wife, her
eyes full of pleasant reminiscence. "But here I've been, nearly
eleven years, duly keeping house and raising four small babies in a
row. And what about YOU? You've been gadding all over Europe--never
a word about coming home to Carolan Hall until this year!"
"I know," said Mrs. Carolan, with a charming air of apology. "Oh, I
know! But Sid had to hunt up his references abroad, you know, and
then there was that hideous legal delay. I really have been frantic
to settle down somewhere, for years. And as for poor Peter! The
unfortunate baby has been farmed out in Italy, and boarded in Rome,
and flung into English sanitariums, just as need arose! The marvel
is he's not utterly ruined. But Peter's unique--you'll love him!"
"Who's he like, Jean?"
"Oh, Sidney! He's Carolan all through." With the careless words a
thin veil of shadow fell across her bright face, and there came a
Carolan Hall! Jean had never seen it before to-day. Looking at the
garden, and the trees, and the roof that showed beyond, she felt as
if she had not truly seen it until this minute. All its gloomy
history, half forgotten, lightly brushed aside, came back to her
slowly now. This was the home of her husband's shadowed childhood;
it was here that those terrible events had taken place of which he
had so seriously told her before their wedding day.
Here old Peter Carolan, her little Peter's great-grandfather, had
come with his two dark boys and his silent wife, eighty years
before. A cruel, passionate man he must have been, for stories
presently crept about the county of the whippings that kept his boys
obedient to him. Rumor presently had an explanation of the wife's