Part 4 out of 7
"Ripping!" Dicky agreed enthusiastically. Then, reflectively,
"Funniest thing about it is the way I cotton to this domestic stunt.
If anyone had told me before I met you that I should ever stand for
this husband-reading-to-knitting-wife sort of thing I should have
bought him a ticket to Matteawan, pronto."
He stopped and frowned heavily at me, in mimic disapproval.
"Picture all spoiled," he declared, sighing. "You are not knitting.
Why, oh, why are you not knitting?"
"Because I never shall knit," I returned, laughing, "at least not in
the evening while you are reading. That sort of thing never did appeal
to me. Either the wife who has to knit or sew or darn in the evening
is too inefficient to get all her work done in daylight, or she has
too much work to do. In the first case, her husband ought to teach her
efficiency; in the second place, he ought to help do the sewing or the
darning. Then they could both read."
"Listen to the feminist?" carolled Dicky; then with mock severity:
"Of course, I am to infer, madam, that my stockings are all properly
"Your inference is eminently correct," demurely. "Your mother darned
What I had told him was true. His mother had seen me looking over the
stockings after they were washed, and had insisted on darning Dicky's.
I saw that she longed to do some little personal service for her boy,
and willingly handed them over.
Dicky threw back his head and laughed heartily. Then his face sobered,
and he came round to my side of the table and sat down on the arm of
"Speaking of mother," he said, rumpling my hair caressingly, "I want
to tell you, sweetheart, that you've made an awful hit with me the way
you've taken care of her. Nobody knows better than I how trying she
can be, and you've been just as sweet and kind to her as if she were
the most tractable person on earth."
He put his arms around me and bent his face to mine.
"Pretty nice and comfy this being married to each other, isn't it?"
"Very nice, indeed," I agreed, nestling closer to him.
My heart echoed the words. In fact, it seemed almost too good to
be true, this quiet domestic cove into which our marital bark had
drifted. The storms we had weathered seemed far past. Dicky's jealousy
of my brother-cousin, Jack Bickett; my unhappiness over Lillian
Underwood--those tempestuous days surely were years ago instead of
Now Jack was "somewhere in France," and I had a queer little
premonition that somewhere, somehow, his path would cross that of
Miss Sonnot, the little nurse, who had gone with Dr. Braithwaite's,
expedition, and who for years had cherished a romantic ideal of my
brother-cousin, although she had never met him.
Lillian Underwood was my sworn friend. With characteristic directness
she had cut the Gordian knot of our misunderstanding by telling me,
against Dicky's protests, all about the old secret which her past and
that of my husband shared. After her story, with all that it revealed
of her sacrifice and her fidelity to her own high ideals, there
never again would be a doubt of her in my mind. I was proud of her
friendship, although, because of my mother-in-law's prejudice against
them, Dicky and I could not have the Underwoods at our home.
Our meetings, therefore, were few. But I had an odd little feeling of
safety and security whenever I thought of her. I knew if any terrible
trouble ever came to me I should fly to her as if she were my sister.
My work at the Lotus Study Club was going along smoothly. At home
Katie was so much more satisfactory than the maids I had seen in other
establishments that I shut my eyes to many little things about which I
knew my mother-in-law would have been most captious.
But my mother-in-law's acerbity was softened by her weakness. We grew
quite companionable in the winter days when Dicky's absence at the
studio left us together. Altogether I felt that life had been very
good to me.
So the winter rolled away, and almost before we knew it the spring
days came stealing in from the South, bringing to me their urgent call
of brown earth and sprouting things.
I was not the only one who listened to the message of spring. Mother
Graham grew restless and used all of her meagre strength in drives to
the parks and walks to a nearby square where the crocuses were just
beginning to wave their brave greeting to the city.
The warmer days affected Dicky adversely. He seemed a bit distrait,
displayed a trifle of his earlier irritability, and complained a great
deal about the warmth of the apartment.
"I tell you I can't stand this any longer," he said one particularly
warm evening in April, as he sank into a chair, flinging his collar in
one direction and his necktie in another. "I'd rather be in the city
in August than in these first warm days of spring. What do you say
to moving into the country for the summer? Our month is up here the
first, anyway, and I am perfectly willing to lose any part of the
month's rent if we only can get away."
"But, Dicky," I protested, "unless we board, which I don't think
any of us would like to do, how are we going to find a house, to say
nothing of getting settled in so short a time?"
To my surprise, Dicky hesitated a moment before answering. Then,
flushing, he uttered the words which brought my little castle of
contentment grumbling about me and warned me that my marital problems
were not yet all solved.
"Why, you see, there won't be any bother about a house. Miss Draper
has found a perfectly bully place not far from her sister's home."
"Miss Draper has found a house for us!"
I echoed Dicky's words in blank astonishment. His bit of news was
so unexpected, amazement was the only feeling that came to me for a
moment or two.
"Well, what's the reason for the awful astonishment?" demanded Dicky,
truculently. "You look as if a bomb had exploded in your vicinity."
He expressed my feeling exactly. I knew that Miss Draper had become a
fixture in his studio, acting as his secretary as well as his model,
and pursuing her art studies under his direction. But his references
to her were always so casual and indifferent that for months I had not
thought of her at all. And now I found that Dicky had progressed to
such a degree of intimacy with her that he not only wished to move to
the village which she called home, but had allowed her to select the
house in which we were to live.
I might be foolish, overwrought, but all at once I recognized in
Dicky's beautiful protege a distinct menace to my marital happiness.
I knew I ought to be most guarded in my reply to my husband, but I am
afraid the words of my answer were tipped with the venom of my feeling
toward the girl.
"I admit I am astonished," I replied coldly. "You see, I did not know
it was the custom in your circle for an artist's model to select a
house for his wife and mother. You must give me time to adjust myself
to such a bizarre state of things."
I was so furious myself that I did not realize how much my answer
would irritate Dicky. He sprang to his feet with an oath and turned on
me the old, black angry look that I had not seen for months.
"That's about the meanest slur I ever heard," he shouted. "Just
because a girl works as a model every other woman thinks she has
the right to cast a stone at her, and put on a
how-dare-you-brush-your-skirt-against-mine sort of thing. You worked
for a living yourself not so very long ago. I should think you would
have a little Christian charity in your heart for any other girl who
"It strikes me that there is a slight difference between the work of
a high school instructor in history, a specialist in her subject, and
the work of an artist's model," I returned icily. "But, laying all
that aside, I should have considered myself guilty of a very grave
breach of good taste if I had ventured to select a house for the wife
of my principal, unasked and unknown to her."
"Cut out the heroics, and come down to brass tacks," Dicky snarled
vulgarly. "Why don't you be honest and say you're jealous of the poor
girl? I'll bet, if the truth were known, it isn't only the house she
selected you'd balk at. I'll bet you wouldn't want to go to Marvin at
all for the summer, regardless that I've spent many a comfortable
week in that section, and like it better than any other summer place I
Through all my anger at Dicky, my disgust at his coarseness, came
the conviction that he had spoken the truth. I was jealous of
Grace Draper, there was no use denying the fact to myself, however
strenuously I might try to hide the thing from Dicky. I told myself
that I hated Marvin because it held this girl, that instead of
spending the summer there I wished I might never see the place again.
I was angrier than ever when the knowledge of my own emotion forced
itself upon me, angry with myself for being so silly, angry with Dicky
for having brought such provocation upon me! I let my speech lash out
blindly, not caring what I said:
"You are wrong in one thing--right in another. I am not jealous of
Miss Draper. To tell you the truth, I do not care enough about what
you do to be jealous of you. But I would not like to live in Marvin
for this season--I never counted in my list of friends a woman who
possesses neither good breeding nor common sense, and I do not propose
to begin with Miss Draper."
Dicky stared at me for a moment, his face dark and distorted with
passion. Then, springing to his feet, he picked up his collar and tie
and went into his room. Returning with fresh ones, he snatched his hat
and stick and rushed to the door. As he slammed it after him I heard
another oath, one this time coupled with a reference to me. I sank
back in the big chair weak and trembling.
"Well, you have made a mess of it!" My mother-in-law's voice, cool and
cynical, sounded behind me. I felt like saying something caustic to
her, but there was something in her tones that stopped me. It was not
criticism of me she was expressing, rather sympathy. Accustomed as I
was to every inflection of her voice, I realized this, and accordingly
held my tongue until she had spoken further.
"I'll admit you've had enough to make any woman lose her control of
herself," went on Dicky's mother, with the fairness which I had found
her invariably to possess in anything big, no matter how petty and
fussy she was over trifles. "But you ought to know Richard better than
to take that way with him. Give Richard his head and he soon tires of
any of the thousand things he proposes doing from time to time. Oppose
him, ridicule him, make him angry, and he'll stick to his notion as a
dog to a bone."
She turned and walked into her own room again. I sat miserably huddled
in the big chair, by turn angry at my husband and remorseful over my
"Vot I do about dinner, Missis Graham?" Katie's voice was subdued,
sympathetic and respectful. I realized that she had heard every word
of our controversy. The knowledge made my reply curt.
"Keep it warm as long as you can. I will tell you when to serve it."
Katie stalked out, muttering something about the dinner being spoiled,
but I paid no heed to her. My thoughts were too busy with conjectures
and forebodings of the future to pay any attention to trifles.
The twilight deepened into darkness. I was just nerving myself to
summon Katie and tell her to serve dinner when the door opened and
Dicky's rapid step crossed the room. He switched on the light, and
then coming over to me, lifted me bodily out of my chair.
"Was the poor little girl jealous?" he drawled, with his face pressed
close to mine. "Well, she shall never have to be jealous again. We
won't live in Marvin, naughty old town, full of beautiful models.
We'll just go over to Hackensack or some nice respectable place like
At first my heart had leaped with victory. Dicky had come back, and he
was not angry. Then as his lips sought mine, and I caught his breath,
my victory turned to ashes. The regret or repentance which had driven
my husband back to my arms had not come from his heart but from the
depths of a whiskey glass.
AN AMAZING DISCOVERY
It was two days after our quarrel over Grace Draper and her selection
of a summer home for us before Dicky again broached the subject of
leaving the city for the summer.
"By the way," he said, as carelessly as if the subject had never been
a bone of contention between us, "that house I was speaking of the
other night; the one Miss Draper thought we would like, has been
rented, so we will have to look for something else."
I had no idea how he had managed to get rid of taking the house after
his protege had gone to the trouble of hunting one up, nor did I care.
I told myself that as the girl's insolent assurance in selecting a
house for me had been put down I could afford to be magnanimous. So I
smiled at Dicky and said with an ease which I was far from feeling:
"But there must be other places in Marvin that are desirable. That day
we were out there I caught glimpses of streets that must be beautiful
Into Dicky's eyes flashed a look of tender pleasure that warmed me.
Taking advantage of his mother's absorption in her fish he threw me a
kiss. I knew that I had pleased him wonderfully by tacitly agreeing to
go to Marvin, and that our quarrel was to him as if it had never been.
I wish I had his mercurial temperament. Long after I have forgiven a
wrong done to me, or an unpleasant experience, the bitter memory of it
comes back to torment me.
"That's my bully girl!" was all Dicky said in reply, but when the
baked fish had been discussed and we were eating our salad he looked
up, his eyes twinkling.
"This green stuff reminds me that if I'm going to get my garden sass
planted this year or you want any flower beds, we'll have to get busy.
Can you run out to Marvin with me tomorrow morning and look around? We
ought to be able to find something we want. Real estate agents are as
thick as fleas around that section."
We made an early start the next morning, Mother Graham, with
characteristic energy, spurring up Katie with the breakfast, and
successfully routing Dicky from the second nap he was bound to take. I
had been up since daylight, for it was a perfect spring morning, and I
was anxious to be afield.
As we neared the entrance of the Long Island station I thought of the
first trip we had taken to Marvin, and the unpleasantness which had
marred the day, and I plucked Dicky's sleeve timidly.
"Dicky!" I swallowed hard and stopped short.
He adroitly swung me across the street into the safety of the runway
leading down into the station before he spoke.
"Well, what's on your conscience?" He smiled down at me roguishly.
"You look as if you were going to confess to a murder at least."
"Not that bad," I smiled faintly. "But oh, Dicky, if I promise to
try not to say anything irritating today, will you promise not to,
"Sure as you're born," Dicky returned cheerfully. "Don't want to spoil
the day, eh?"
"It's such a heavenly day," I sighed. "I feel as if I couldn't stand
it to have anything mar it."
As we sat in the train that bore us to Marvin Dicky outlined some of
his plans for the summer.
"There are two or three of the fellows who come down here summers who
I know will be glad to go Dutch on a motor boat," he said. "We can
take the bulliest trips, way out to deserted sand islands, where the
surf is the best ever. We'll take along a tent and spend the night
there sometime, or we can stretch out in the boat. Then we must see if
we can get hold of some horses. Do you ride? Think of it! We've been
married months, and I don't know yet whether you ride or not!"
"No, I don't ride, but oh, how I've always wanted to!" I returned with
enthusiasm. Then, with a sudden qualm, "But all that will be terribly
expensive, won't it?"
"Not so awful," Dicky said, smiling down at me. "But even if it is,
I guess we can stand it. I've had some cracking good orders lately.
We'll have one whale of a summer."
My heart beat high with happiness. Surely, with all these plans
for me, my husband's thoughts could not be much occupied with his
beautiful model. As he lifted me down to the station platform at
Marvin I looked with friendliness at the dingy, battered old railroad
station which I remembered, at the defiant sign near it which
trumpeted in large type, "Don't judge the town by the station," and
the winding main street of the village, which, when I had visited
Marvin before, Dicky had wished to show me.
Upon that other visit our first sight of Grace Draper and Dicky's
interest in her had spoiled the trip for me. I had insisted upon going
back without seeing some of the things Dicky had planned to show
me, and I had disliked the thought of the town ever since. But with
Dicky's loving plans for my happiness dazzling me, I felt a touch of
the glamour with which he invested the place in my eyes. I caught at
his hand in an unwonted burst of tenderness.
"Let's walk down that old winding street which you told me about last
winter," I said. "I've wanted to see it ever since you spoke about
"We'll probably motor down it instead," he grinned. "There's a real
estate office just opposite here, and I see the agent's flivver in
front of the door, where he stands just inside his office. The spider
and the fly, eh, Madge? Well, Mr. Spider, here are two dear little
flies for you!"
"Oh, Dicky!" I dragged at his arm in protest. "Don't spoil our first
view of that street by whirling through it in a car. Let's saunter
down it first and then come back to the real estate man."
"You have a gleam of human intelligence, sometimes, don't you?" Dicky
inquired banteringly. Then he took my arm to help me across the rough
places in the country road.
We had almost reached the door of the office when Dicky caught sight
of a plainly dressed woman coming toward us. I heard him catch his
breath, his grasp on my arm tightened, and with an indescribable agile
movement he fairly bolted into the real estate office, dragging me
"I'll explain later," he said in my ear. "Just follow my lead now."
As he turned to the rotund little real estate agent, who came forward
to greet us, a look of surprise on his round face, I looked through
the window at the woman from whose sight he had dodged.
Then I felt that I needed an explanation, indeed.
For the woman whose eyes my husband so evidently wished to avoid was
Mrs. Gorman, Grace Draper's sister.
* * * * *
So I was to live in a house of Grace Draper's choosing, after all!
This was the thought that came most forcibly to me when Mr. Brennan,
the owner of the house Dicky had impetuously decided to rent, told us
that Miss Draper had looked over the place for an artist friend, and
that she would have taken it only for finding another house nearer her
I was so absorbed in my own thoughts that I did not at first notice
Dicky's embarrassment when Mr. Brennan asked him if he knew Grace
Draper. It was only when the man, who had all the earmarks of a
gossiping countryman, repeated the question, that I realized Dicky's
"Did you say you knew her?"
"Yes, I know her; she works in my studio," remarked Dicky, shortly.
"Oh!" The exclamation had the effect of a long-drawn whistle. "Then
you probably were the artist friend she spoke of."
"I probably was." Dicky's tone was grim. I knew how near his temper
was to exploding, and the look which I beheld on the face of Mr.
Birdsall, the little real estate agent, galvanized me into action.
"Dear, what do you suppose led Grace to think we would like that other
place better than this?" I flashed a tender little smile at Dicky. "Of
course we would like to be nearer her, but this is not very far from
her home, and it is so much better, isn't it?"
Dicky took the cue without a tremor.
"Why, I suppose she thought you would find this house too big for you
to look after," he replied in a matter-of-fact way.
"That was awful dear and thoughtful of her," I murmured, careful
to keep my voice at just the right pitch of friendliness toward the
absent Grace, "but I don't think this will be too much, for we can
shut up the rooms we don't need."
I had the satisfaction of seeing the puzzled looks of Mr. Brennan
and Mr. Birdsall change into an evident readjustment of their ideas
concerning my husband and Grace Draper. But I did not relax my iron
hold upon myself. I knew if I dared let myself down for an instant
angry tears would rush to my eyes.
"When did you say we could move in?" I turned to Mr. Brennan,
determined to get away from the subject of Grace Draper as quickly as
"Today, if you want it."
"No," returned Dicky, "but we will want it soon. When do you think we
can move?" He turned to me.
* * * * *
I spent three busy days at the Brennan place. There was much to be
done both inside and outside the house. After the first day, Katie did
not return with me, as my mother-in-law needed her in the apartment.
But I engaged another woman with the one I had for the work in the
house and put the grinning William in charge of an old man I had
secured to clean up the grounds and make the garden.
I soon found that I had a treasure in Mr. Jones, who was a typical old
Yankee farmer, a wizened little man with chin whiskers. He could only
give me a day or two occasionally, as he was old and confided to me
that he was subject to "the rheumatics." But while I was there he
ploughed and harrowed and planted the garden, cleared the rubbish
away, and made me innumerable flower beds, keeping an iron hand over
the irresponsible William, whose grin gradually faded as he was forced
to do some real work for his day's wages.
A riotous and extravagant hour in a seed and bulb store resulted in my
getting all the flower favorites I had loved in my childhood. I also
bought the seeds of all vegetables which Dicky and I liked, and a few
more, and put them in Mr. Jones's capable hands.
If there was a variety of vegetables or flower seeds which looked
attractive in the seedman's catalogue, and which remained unbought, it
was the fault of the salesman, for I conscientiously tried to select
every one. I planned the location of a few of the beds, and then
confided to Mr. Jones the rest of the outdoor work, knowing that he
could finish it after my return to the city.
Mr. Birdsall, the agent, was very tractable about the kitchen, sending
men the second day to paint it. So at the end of the third day, when I
turned the key in the lock of the front door, I was conscious that the
house was as clean as soap and water and hard work could make it, that
the grounds were in order, and the growing things I loved on their way
to greet me.
I fancy it was high time things were accomplished, for in some way
I had caught a severe cold. At least that was the way I diagnosed my
complaint. My throat seemed swollen, my head ached severely, and each
bone and muscle in my body appeared to have its separate pain. When I
reached the apartment I felt so ill that I undressed and went to bed
"You must spray your throat immediately," my mother-in-law said in a
businesslike way, "and I suppose we ought to send for that jackanapes
of a doctor."
Even through my suffering I could not help but smile at my
mother-in-law's reference to Dr. Pettit, who had attended her in her
illness. She had summarily dismissed him because he had forbidden
her to see to the unpacking of her trunks when she was barely
convalescent, and we had not seen him since.
"I'm sure I will not need a physician," I said, trying to speak
distinctly, although it was an effort for me to articulate. "Wait
until Dicky comes, anyway."
For distinct in my mind was a mental picture of the look I had
detected in Dr. Pettit's eyes upon the day of his last visit to my
mother-in-law. I remembered the way he had clasped my hand in parting.
The feeling was indefinable. I scored myself as fanciful and conceited
for imagining that there had been anything special in his farewell
to me or in the little courtesies he had tendered me during my
mother-in-law's illness. But I told myself again, as I had after
closing the door upon his last visit, that it were better all around
if he did not come again.
"If you wait for Richard, you'll wait a long time," his mother
observed grimly. "He called up a while ago, and said he had been
invited to an impromptu studio party that he couldn't get away from,
and that he would be home in two or three hours. But I know Richard.
If he gets interested in anything like that he won't be home until
I do not pretend either to analyze or excuse the feeling of reckless
defiance that seized me upon hearing of Dicky's absence. I reflected
bitterly that I had taken all the burden of seeing to the new home,
and was suffering from illness contracted because of that work, while
Dicky was frolicking at a studio party, with never a thought of me.
I know without being told that Grace Draper was a member of the
frolic. And here I was suffering, yet refusing the services of a
skilled physician because I fancied there was something in his manner
the tolerance of which would savor of disloyalty to Dicky!
I turned to my mother-in-law to tell her she could summon the
physician, but found that I could hardly speak. My throat felt as if I
"The spray!" I gasped.
Thoroughly alarmed, Mother Graham assisted me in spraying my throat
with a strong antiseptic solution. Then I gave her the number of Dr.
Pettit's office, and she called him up. I heard her tell him to make
haste, and then she came back to me. I saw that she was frightened
about the condition of my throat, but the choking feeling gave me no
time to be frightened. I kept the spray going almost constantly until
the physician came. It was the only way I could breathe.
Dr. Pettit must have made a record journey, for the door bell
signalled his arrival only a few moments after Mother Graham's
He gave my throat one swift, shrewd glance, then turned to his small
valise and drew from it a stick, some absorbent cotton and a bottle of
dark liquid. With swift, sure movements he prepared a swab, and turned
"Open your mouth again," he said gently, but peremptorily.
I obeyed him, and the antiseptic bathed the swollen tonsils surely and
As I swayed, almost staggered, in the spasm of coughing and choking
which followed, I felt the strong, sure support of his arm touching my
shoulders, of his hand grasping mine.
"Now lie down," he commanded gently, when the paroxysm was over. He
drew the covers over me himself, lifted my head and shoulders gently
with one hand, while with the other he raised the pillows to the angle
he wished. Then he turned to my mother-in-law.
"She has a bad case of tonsilitis, but there is no danger," he said
quietly, utterly ignoring her rudeness at the time of his last visit.
"I will stay until I have swabbed her throat again. She is to have
these pellets," he handed her a bottle of pink tablets, "once every
fifteen minutes until she has taken four, then every hour until
midnight. Let her sleep all she can and keep her warm. I would like
two hot water bags filled, if you please, and a glass of water. She
must begin taking these tablets as soon as possible."
As my mother-in-law left the room to get the things he wished, Dr.
Pettit came back to the bedside and stood looking down at me.
"Where is your husband?" he asked, a note of sternness in his voice.
I shook my head. I was just nervous and sick enough to feel the
question keenly. I could not restrain the foolish tears which rolled
slowly down my cheeks.
Dr. Pettit took his handkerchief and wiped them away. Then he said in
almost a whisper:
"Poor little girl! How I wish I could bear the pain for you!"
My recovery from the attack of tonsilitis, thanks to Dr. Pettit's
remedies, was almost as rapid as the seizure had been sudden.
My mother-in-law, forgetting her own invalidism, carried out the
physician's directions faithfully. The choking sensation in my throat
gradually lessened, until by midnight I was able to go to sleep.
I have no idea when Dicky came home from his "impromptu studio party."
His mother, whose deftness, efficiency and unexpected tenderness
surprised me, arranged a bed for him on the couch in the living room,
and I did not hear him come in at all.
"My poor little sweetheart!" This was his greeting the next morning.
"If I had only known you were ill the old blow-out could have gone
plump. It was a stupid affair, anyway. Had a rotten time."
"It doesn't matter, Dicky," I said wearily, and closed my eyes,
pretending to sleep. I knew Dicky was puzzled by my manner, for
I could feel him silently watching me for several minutes. Then
evidently satisfied that I was really sleeping he tiptoed out of the
room, and a little later I heard him depart for his studio, first
cautioning his mother to call him if I needed him.
I spent a most miserable day after Dicky had left, in spite of my
mother-in-law's tender care and Katie's assiduous attentions. The
studio party, of which I was sure Grace Draper was a member, rankled
as did anything connected with this student model of Dicky's. The
memory of the village gossip concerning her friendship for my husband
which I had heard in Marvin troubled me, while even Dicky's solicitude
for my illness seemed to my overwrought imagination to be forced,
His exclamation, "My poor little sweetheart!" did not ring true to
me. I felt bitterly that there was more sincerity in Dr. Pettit's low
words of the day before: "Poor little girl, I wish I could bear this
pain for you!" than in Dicky's protestations.
How genuinely troubled the tall young physician had been! How
resentful of Dicky's absence from my bedside! How tender and strong
in my paroxysms of choking! I felt a sudden added bitterness toward my
husband that the memory of my suffering should have blended with it no
recollection of his care, only the tender sympathy of a stranger.
But in two days I was my usual self again, ready for the arduous tasks
of moving and settling.
Mother Graham and I spent a hectic day in the furniture and drapery
shops, buying things to supplement her furniture and mine, which we
had arranged to have sent to the Brennan house in Marvin. I found that
her judgment as to values and fabrics was unerring. But her taste as
to colors and designs frequently clashed with mine. Save for the fact
that she became fatigued before we had finished our shopping, there
would have been no individual touch of mine in our home. As it was, I
was not sorry that she found herself too indisposed to go with me
the second day, so that I had a chance to put something of my own
individuality into the new furnishings.
Another two days in Marvin with the aid of a workman unpacking and
arranging the crated furniture and our purchases, and the new home was
ready to step into.
We were a gay little party as we went together through the house
inspecting all the rooms. When we came to Dicky's, he barred us out.
"Now, remember, no stealing of keys and peering into Bluebeard's
closet," said Dicky gayly, as he closed and locked the door of his
"You flatter yourself, sir." I swept him a low bow. "I really haven't
the slightest curiosity about your old room."
"Sour grapes," he mocked, and then impressively, "And no matter what
packages or furniture come here for me they are not to be unwrapped.
Just leave them on the porch, or in the library until I come home."
"I wouldn't touch one of them with a pair of tongs," I assured him.
"See that you don't," he returned, hanging the key up, and hastily
kissing me. "Now I've got to run for it."
He hurried down the stairs and out of the front door. I stood looking
after him with a smile of tender amusement.
The day after Dicky's purchases arrived he rose early.
"No studio for me today," he announced. "Can you get hold of that man
who helped you clean up here? I want an able-bodied man for several
"I think so," I returned quietly, and going to the telephone, soon
returned with the assurance that William-of-the-wide-grin would
shortly be at the house.
"That's fine," commented Dicky. "And now I want you and mother to get
out of the way after breakfast. Go for a walk or a drive or anything
go you are not around. I want to surprise you this afternoon. I'll bet
that room will make your eyes stick out when you see it."
I had a wonderful tramp through the woods, enjoying it so much that it
was after four o'clock when I finally returned home. Dicky greeted me
"Come along now," he commanded, rushing me upstairs. "Come, mother!"
The elder Mrs. Graham appeared at the door of her room, curiosity
and disapproval struggling with each other in her face. But curiosity
triumphed. With a protesting snort she followed us to the door of the
locked room. Dicky unlocked the door with a flourish and stood aside
for us to enter.
I gasped as I caught my first sight of the transformed room. Dicky had
not exaggerated--it was wonderful.
The paper had been taken from the walls, and they and the ceiling had
been painted a soft gray with just a touch of blue in its tint. The
woodwork was ivory-tinted throughout, while the floor was painted a
deeper shade of the gray that covered the walls.
Almost covering the floor was a gorgeous Chinese rug with wonderful
splashes of blue through it. I knew it must be an imitation of one
costing a fortune, but I realized that Dicky must have paid a pretty
penny even for the counterfeit, for the coloring and design were
The blue of the rug was reproduced in every detail of the room. The,
window, draperies, of thin, Oriental fabric, had bands of Chinese
embroidered silk cunningly sewed on them. These bands carried out in
the azure groundwork and the golden threads the motif of the rug. The
cushions, which were everywhere in evidence, were made of the same
embroidered silk which banded the window draperies, while blue strips
of the same material were thrown carelessly over a teakwood table and,
a chest of drawers.
A chaise lounge of bamboo piled with cushions stood underneath the
windows, which commanded a view of the rolling woodland and meadows
I had found so beautiful. Three chairs of the same material completed
the furnishings of the room, save for a wonderful Chinese screen
reaching almost from the ceiling to the floor, which hid a single iron
bed, painted white, of the type used in hospitals, a small bureau,
also painted white, and a shaving mirror.
"Don't want any junk about my sleeping quarters," Dicky explained, as
I looked behind the screen.
"Well, what do you think of it?" he demanded at last, in a hurt tone,
as I finished my inspection of the walls, which were almost covered
with the originals of Dicky's best magazine illustrations, framed in
narrow, black strips of wood.
"It is truly wonderful, Dicky," I returned, trying to make my voice
I could have raved over the room, for I did think it exquisitely
beautiful, had not my woman's intuition detected that another hand
than Dicky's had helped in its preparation.
Only a woman's cunning fingers could have fashioned the curtains and
the cushions I saw in profusion about the room. I knew her identity
before Dicky, after pointing out in detail every article of which he
was so proud, said hesitatingly:
"I wish, Madge, you would telephone Miss Draper and ask her to run
over tomorrow and see the room. You see, I was so anxious to surprise
you that I did not want to have you do any of the work, and she kindly
did all of this needlework for me. I know she is very curious to see
how her work looks."
"Of course, I will telephone Miss Draper if you wish it, Dicky, but
don't you think you ought to do it yourself? She is your employee, not
mine, and I never have seen her but twice in my life."
I flatter myself that my voice was as calm as if I had not the
slightest emotional interest in the topic I was discussing. But in
reality I was furiously angry. And I felt that I had reason to be.
"Now, that's a nice, catty thing to say!" Dicky exploded wrathfully.
"Hope you feel better, now you've got it off your chest. And you can
just trot right along and telephone her yourself. Gee! you haven't
been a martyr for months, have you?"
When Dicky takes that cutting, ironical tone, it fairly maddens me. I
could not trust myself to speak, so I turned quickly and went out of
the room which had become suddenly hateful to me, and found refuge in
My exit was not so swift, however, but that I overheard words of my
mother-in-law's, which were to remain in my mind.
"Richard," she exclaimed angrily, "you ought to be ashamed of
yourself. You act like a silly fool over this model of yours. What
business did you have asking her to do this needlework for you in the
first place? You ought to have known Margaret would not like it."
I did not hear Dicky's reply, for I had reached my own room, and,
closing and locking the door, I sat down by the window until I should
be able to control my words and actions.
For one thing I had determined. I would not have a repetition of
the scenes which Dicky's temper and my own sensitiveness had made of
almost daily occurrence in the earlier months of our marriage. I could
not bring myself to treat Grace Draper with the friendliness which
Dicky appeared to wish from me, but at least I could keep from
unseemly squabbling about her.
But my heart was heavy with misgiving concerning this friendship of
Dicky's for his beautiful model, as I opened my door and went down the
hall to Dicky's room. My mother-in-law's voice interrupted me.
"Come in here a minute," she said abruptly, as she trailed her flowing
negligee past me into the living room.
As I followed her in, wondering, she closed the door behind her. I
saw with amazement that her face was pale, her lips quivering with
"Child," she said, laying her hand with unwonted gentleness on my
shoulder. "I want you to know that I entirely disapprove of this
invitation which Richard has asked you to extend. Of course, you must
use your own judgment in the matter, and it may be wise for you to
do as he asks. But I want to be sure that you are not influenced by
anything I may have said in the past about not opposing Richard in his
"He is going too far in this thing," she went on. "I cannot counsel
you. Each woman has to solve these problems for herself. But it may
help you to know that I went through all this before you were born."
She turned swiftly and went up to her room again.
Dicky's father! She must mean her life with him! In a sudden, swift,
pitying gleam of comprehension, I saw why my mother-in-law was
so crabbed and disagreeable. Life had embittered her. I wondered
miserably if my life with her son would leave similar marks upon my
A SUMMER OF HAPPINESS THAT ENDS IN FEAR
I do not believe I shall ever know greater happiness than was mine
in the weeks following Grace Draper's first visit to our Marvin home.
Many times I looked back to that night when I had lain sobbing on my
bed, fighting the demon of jealousy and gasped in amazement at my own
That evening had ended in Dicky's arms on our moonlight veranda, and
ever since he had been the royal lover of the honeymoon days, which
had preceded our first quarrel. I wondered vaguely sometimes if he
had guessed the wild grief and jealousy which had consumed me on that
night, but if he had any inkling of it he made no sign.
Grace Draper had gone out of our lives temporarily.
If I had needed reassurance as to Dicky's real feeling for her, the
manner in which he told me the news of her going would have given it
"Blast the luck," he growled one evening, after reading a manuscript
which he had been commissioned to illustrate. "Here's something I'll
need Draper for, and she's 200 miles away. I ought to have known
better than to let her go."
The tone and words were exactly what he would have used if the girl
had been a man or boy in his employ. Even in my surprise at his news,
I recognized this, and my heart leaped exultantly. I was careful,
however, to keep my voice nonchalant.
"Why, has Miss Draper gone away?" I asked.
"Oh, that's so, I didn't tell you," he returned carelessly, looking
up from the manuscript. "Yes, she went away two days ago. She has a
grandmother, or aunt, or old party of some kind, down in Pennsylvania,
who is sick and has sent for her. Guess the old girl has scads of coin
tucked away somewhere, and Draper thinks she'd better be around when
the aged relative passes in her checks. Bet a cooky she won't die at
that, but if she's going to, I wish she'd hurry up about it. I need
Draper badly, and she won't be back until the old girl either croaks
or gets better."
Under other circumstances, the callousness of this speech, the
coarseness of some of the expressions, the calling of Miss Draper by
her surname, would have grated upon me. But I was too rejoiced both at
the girl's departure and the matter of fact way in which Dicky took it
to be captious about the language in which he couched the news of her
"Grace Draper is gone, is gone." The words set themselves to a little
tune, which lilted in my brain. I felt as if the only obstacle to my
enjoyment of our summer in the country had been removed.
How I did revel in the long, beautiful summer days! Dicky appeared
to have a great deal of leisure, in contrast to the days crowded with
work, which had been his earlier in the spring.
"Each year I work like the devil in the spring so as to have the
summer, June especially, comparatively free," he exclaimed one day
when I commented on the fact that he had been to his studio but twice
during the week.
I had dreamed in my girlhood of vacations like the one I was enjoying,
but the dream had never been fulfilled before. Dicky had fixed up a
tennis court on the, grassy stretch of lawn at the left of the house,
and we played every day. Two horses from the livery were brought
around two mornings each week, and, after a few trials, I was able to
take comparatively long rides with Dicky through the exquisite country
Our motor boat trips were frequent also, although Dicky found that it
was more convenient to rent one when he wished it than to enter into
any ownership arrangement with any one else.
Automobile trips, in which his mother joined us, long rambles through
the woods and meadows which we took alone, little dinners at the
numberless shore resorts, all these made a whirl of enjoyment for me
unlike anything I had ever known.
I was careful to cater to my mother-in-law's wishes in every way I
could. Either because of my attentions or of the beautiful summer
days, she was much softened in manner, so that there was no
"This is the bulliest vacation I ever spent," Dicky said one evening,
after a long tramp through the woods. It was one of the frequent
chilly evenings of a Long Island summer, when a fire is most
acceptable. Katie had built a glorious fire of dry wood in the living
room fireplace, and after dinner we stretched out lazily before
it, Mother Graham and I in arm chairs, Dicky on a rug with cushions
bestowed comfortably around him.
"I am naturally very glad to hear that," I said, demurely, and Dicky
"That's right, take all the credit to yourself," he said, teasingly.
Then as he saw a shadow on my face, for I never have learned to take
his banter lightly, he added in a tone meant for my ear alone:
"But you are the real reason why it's so bully, old top."
The very next day, Dicky and I went for a long walk.
We had nearly reached the harbor, when I saw Dicky start suddenly,
gaze fixedly at some one across the road, and then lift his hat in a
formal, unsmiling greeting. My eyes followed his, and met the cool,
half-quizzical ones of Grace Draper. She was accompanied by a tall,
very good-looking youth, who was bending toward her so assiduously
that he did not see us at all.
"Why! I didn't know Miss Draper had returned," I said, wondering why
Dicky had kept the knowledge from me.
"I didn't know it myself," Dicky answered, frowning. "Queer, she
wouldn't call me up. Wonder who that jackanapes with her is, anyway."
Dicky was moody all the rest of the trip. I know that he has the most
easily wounded feelings of any one in the world, and naturally he
resented the fact that the beautiful model, whom he had befriended and
who was his secretary and studio assistant, had returned from her trip
without letting him know she was at home.
If I only could be sure that pique at an employee's failure to report
to him was at the bottom of his sulkiness! But the memory of the
good-looking youth who hung over the girl so assiduously was before my
eyes. I feared that the reason for Dicky's moody displeasure was the
presence of the unknown admirer of his beautiful model.
Of course, all pleasure in the day's outing was gone for me also,
and we were a silent pair as we wandered in and out through the sandy
beaches. Dicky conscientiously, but perfunctorily, pointed out to
me all the things which he thought I would find interesting, and in
which, under any other circumstances, I should have revelled.
In my resolution to be as chummy with Dicky as possible, I determined
to put down my own feelings toward Grace Draper. But it was an effort
for me to say what I wished to Dicky. We had chatted about many
things, and were nearly home, when I said timidly:
"Dicky, now that Miss Draper is back, don't you think you and I ought
to call on her and her sister, and have them over to dinner?"
Dicky frowned impatiently:
"For heaven's sake, don't monkey with that old cat, Mrs. Gorman. She
is making trouble enough as it is."
He bit his lip the next instant, as if he wished the words unsaid,
and, for a wonder, I was wise enough not to question him as to
the meaning of the little speech. But into my heart crept my own
particular little suspicious devil--always too ready to come, is this
small familiar demon of mine--and once there he stayed, continually
whispering ugly doubts and queries concerning the "trouble" that Mrs.
Gorman was making over her sister's intimate studio association with
My constant brooding affected my spirits. I found myself growing
irritable. The next day after Dicky and I had seen Miss Draper and her
attendant cavalier on the road to Marvin harbor, Dicky made a casual
reference at the table to the fact that she had returned to the studio
and her work as his secretary and model.
"She said she called up the studio when she got in, and again
yesterday morning, but I was not in," he said. I realized that the
girl had cleverly soothed his resentment at her failure to notify him
that she had returned from her trip.
Whether it was the result of my own irritability or not I do not know,
but Dicky seemed to grow more indifferent and absent-minded each day.
He was not irritable with me, he simply had the air of a man absorbed
in some pursuit and indifferent to everything else.
Grace Draper's attitude toward me puzzled me also. She preserved
always the cool but courteous manner one would use to the most casual
acquaintance, yet she did not hesitate to avail herself of every
possible opportunity to come to the house. Then, two or three times
during the latter part of the summer, I found that she had managed to
join outings of ours. Whether this state of affairs was due to Dicky's
wishes or her own subtle planning I could not determine.
I struggled hard with myself to treat the girl with friendliness, but
found it impossible. My manner toward her held as much reserve as was
compatible with formal courtesy. Of course, this did not please Dicky.
Dicky was also developing an unusual sense of punctuality. I always
had thought him quite irresponsible concerning the keeping of his
appointments, and he never had any set time for arriving at his
studio. But he suddenly announced one morning that he must catch the
8:21 train every morning without fail.
"The next one gets in too late," he said, "and I have a tremendous
amount of work on hand."
The explanation was plausible enough, but there was something about it
that did not ring true. However, the solution of his sudden solicitude
for punctuality did not come to me until Mrs. Hoch, one of my
neighbors, called with her daughter, Celie, and enlightened me.
"We just heard something we thought you ought to know," Celie began
primly, "so Ma and I hurried right over, so as to put you on your
"Yes," sighed Mrs. Hoch, rocking vigorously as she spoke, "everybody
knows I'm no gossip. I believe if you can't say nothing good about
nobody, you should keep your mouth shut, but I says to Celie as soon
as I heard this, 'Celie,' says I, 'it's our duty to tell that poor
thing what we know.'"
I started to speak, to stop whatever revelation she wished to make,
but I might as well have attempted to stem a torrent with a leaf
"We've heard things for a long time," Mrs. Hoch went on, "but we
didn't want to say nothin', 'specially as you seemed such friends, her
runnin' here and all. But we noticed she hain't been comin' lately,
and then our Willie, he hears things a lot over at the station, and
he says it's common talk over there that your husband and that Draper
girl are planning to elope. They take the same train every morning
together, come home on the same one at night, and they are as friendly
"Mrs. Hoch," I snapped out, "if I had known what you were going to
say, I would not have allowed you to speak. Your words are an insult
to my husband and myself. You will please to remember never to say
anything like this to me again."
Mrs. Hoch rose to her feet, her face an unbecoming brick red. Her
daughter's black eyes snapped with anger.
"Come, Celie," the elder woman said, "I don't stay nowhere to be
insulted, when all I've tried to do is give a little friendly warning
to a neighbor."
Mother and daughter hurried down the path, chattering to each other,
like two angry squirrels.
"Horrid, stuck-up thing," I heard Celie say spitefully, as they went
through the fence. "I hope Grace Draper does take him away from
her. She's got a nerve, I must say, talkin' to us like that. I don't
believe she cares anything about her husband, anyway."
She might have changed her mind had she seen me fly to my room as soon
as she was safely out of sight, lock the door, and bury my face in the
pillows, that neither my mother-in-law nor Katie should hear the sobs
I could not repress.
"Dicky! Dicky! Dicky!" I moaned. "Have I really lost you?"
Of course I knew better than to believe the statement of the
elopement. I had seen and heard enough of village life to realize how
the slightest circumstance was magnified by the community loafers.
That Dicky and the girl took the same train, going and coming from
the city, was a fact borne out by my own observations. I had remarked
Dicky's regularity in catching the 8:21 in the mornings, something so
opposed to his usual unpunctual habits, and wondered why. Now I had
I told myself, dully, that I was not surprised; that I had really
known all along something like this was coming. My thoughts went
back to the night, a few weeks before, when I had suffered a similar
paroxysm of grief over Dicky's evident interest in the girl. Then all
my doubts and fears had been swept away in Dicky's arms on the
moonlit veranda. I caught my breath as I realized in all its miserable
certainty the impossibility of any such tender scene now. Dicky and I
seemed as far apart emotionally as the poles.
But the determination I had reached that other night, before Dicky's
voice and caresses dispelled my doubts, I made my own again. There was
nothing for me to do but to wait quietly, with dignity, until I was
absolutely certain that Dicky no longer loved me. Then I would go
out of his life without scenes or recriminations. I would not lift a
finger to hold him.
By the time I had gained control of myself once more, Dicky came home.
"Letter for you," he said, "from the office of your old principal."
He tossed it into my lap, eyeing it and me curiously. I knew that his
desire to know what was in it had made him remember to give it to me.
His mother, who had opened her door at his step, came forward eagerly.
I opened the letter, to find an offer of my old school position. My
principal wrote that the woman who was appointed to the position had
been suddenly taken ill and could not possibly fill it. He asked me
to write him my decision at once, as it was within a few days of the
opening of the school.
Mechanically, I read it aloud. My brain was whirling. I wondered if,
perhaps, this was the way out for me. If Dicky really did not love me
any longer, I ought to accept this position, even if by taking it I
broke my agreement with the Lotus Study Club.
I did not like the thought of leaving the women who had thus honored
me, but, on the other hand, if Dicky and I were to come to the parting
of the ways, I could not refuse this rare chance to get back into the
work I had left for his sake.
I decided to be guided by his attitude. If he were opposed to my
course, I would know that my actions had ceased to be resentful to
him, and I would accept the position. But if he showed willingness at
I did not have long to wait. As I lifted my eyes to his face, when I
had finished reading the letter I saw the old familiar black frown on
his face. I never had thought that my heart would leap with joy at
the sight of Dicky's frown, but it did. Before either of us could say
anything, his mother spoke:
"Isn't it splendid? You are a most fortunate woman, Margaret, to be
able to step back into a position like that. If it had come earlier,
when my health was so poor, you could not have taken it. Now you can
accept it, for I am perfectly able to run the house. You, of course,
will write your acceptance at once."
She paused. I knew she expected me to reply. But I closed my lips
firmly. Dicky should be the one to decide this. He did it with
"I thought we settled all this rot last spring," he said. "Mother, I
don't want to be disrespectful, but this is my business and Madge's,
not yours. You will refuse, of course, Madge."
He turned to me in the old imperious manner. Months before I should
have resented it. Now I revelled in it. Dicky cared enough about me,
whether from pride or love, to resent my going back to my work.
"If you wish it, Dicky," I said quietly. He turned a grateful look at
me. Then his mother's voice sounded imperiously in our ears.
"I think you have said quite enough, Richard," she said, with icy
dignity. "Will you kindly telegraph Elizabeth that I shall start
for home tomorrow? I certainly shall not stay in a house where I am
flouted as I have been this morning."
PLAYING THE GAME
The big house seemed very lonely to me after my mother-in-law's abrupt
departure. I had not dreamed that I could possibly miss the older
woman's companionship, especially after her hateful behavior
concerning my refusal of the school position.
But when she had left, in dignified dudgeon, for a visit with her
daughter, Elizabeth, I realized that I had come to like her, to
depend upon her companionship more than I had thought possible. If the
country had not been so beautiful I would have proposed going back to
the city. But the tall hedges inclosing the old place were so fresh
and green, the rolling woodland view from my chamber window so
restful, my beds of dahlias, cosmos, marigolds and nasturtiums so
brilliant that I could not bring myself to leave it.
If I had not had the vague uneasiness concerning Dicky I could have
been perfectly happy in spite of the loneliness. But my uneasiness
concerning Dicky's friendship with Grace Draper was deepening to real
alarm and anger. I had nothing more tangible than the neighborhood
gossip, which I had so thoroughly repulsed when it was offered me
by Mrs. Hoch and her daughter. But Dicky was becoming more and more
distrait, and when he would allow nothing to keep him from taking
the morning train on which Miss Draper traveled to the studio, I
remembered that when we had first come to Marvin he had taken any
forenoon train he happened to choose.
The second morning after his mother's departure, Dicky almost missed
kissing me good-by in his mad haste to catch his train. He rushed out
of the door after a most perfunctory peck at my cheek, and I saw him
almost running down the little lane bordered with wild flowers that
led "across lots" to the railroad station.
"I cannot bear this any longer," I muttered to myself, clenching my
hands, as I saw the Hochs, mother and daughter, watching him from
their screened porch, and imagined their satirical comments on his
eagerness to make the train.
I sat listlessly on the veranda for an hour. Then the ringing of the
telephone roused me. As I took down the receiver I heard the droning
of the long distance operator: "Is this Marvin, 971?" and at my
affirmative answer the husky voice of Lillian Underwood.
"Hello, my dear." Her voice had the comforting warmth which it had
held for me ever since the memorable day when by her library fire we
had resurrected the secret which her past life and Dicky's shared.
We had buried it again, smoothed out all our misunderstandings in the
process and been sworn friends ever since.
"Oh, Mrs. Underwood!" My voice was almost a peal of joy. "I am so glad
to hear your voice."
"Are you very busy? Is there anything you cannot leave for the day?"
She was direct as usual.
"Only the dog and cat and Katie," I answered.
"Good. Then what train can you get into town, and where can I meet
you? I want you to lunch with me. I have something important to talk
over with you."
I hastily consulted my watch. "If I hurry I can catch the 10:21. Where
can I see you? The train reaches the Pennsylvania at 11 o'clock."
"I'll be in the woman's waiting room at the Pennsylvania, not the Long
Island; the main waiting room. Look for me there. Good-by."
As soon as I caught sight of Lillian I knew that something was the
matter, or she would not look at me in that way. Impulsively I laid my
hand on hers.
"Tell me, Mrs. Underwood, is anything the matter?"
She imprisoned my hand in both of hers and patted it.
"Nothing that cannot be helped, my dear," she said determinedly. "Now
I am going to forbid asking another question until we have had our
luncheon. I decline to discuss the affairs of the nation or my own on
an empty stomach, and my breakfast this morning consisted of the juice
of two lemons and a small cup of coffee."
"Why?" I asked mechanically, although I knew the answer.
"The awful penalty of trying to keep one's figure," she returned
lightly. "But I certainly am going to break training this noon. I am
Her tone and words were reassuring, although I still felt there was
something behind her light manner which intimately concerned me. But I
had learned to count on her downright honesty, and her words, "Nothing
that cannot be helped, my dear," steadied me, gave me hope that no
matter what trouble she had to tell me, she had also a panacea for it.
We discussed our luncheon leisurely. Under the influence of the
bracing air, the beautiful view, the delicious viands, I gradually
forgot my worries, or at least pushed them back into a corner of my
As we lingered over the ices, Lillian leaned over the table to me.
"Will you do me a favor?" she asked abruptly.
"Try me," I smiled back at her.
"Ask me to your home for a week's stay. I have an idea you need my
fine Italian hand at work about now."
I looked at her wonderingly, then I began to tremble.
"Don't look like that," she commanded sharply. "Nothing dreadful is
the matter, but that Dicky bird of yours needs his wings clipped a
bit, and I think I am the person to apply the shears."
So there was something wrong with Dicky after all!
"Of course, it's that Draper cat," said Lillian Underwood, and the
indignation in her voice was a salve to my wounded pride.
"Then you know," I faltered.
"Of course, I know, you poor child; know, too, how distressed you
have been, although Dicky doesn't dream that I gathered that from his
ingenuous plea for the lady."
My brain whirled. Dicky making an ingenuous plea to Lillian Underwood
for his protege, Grace Draper! I could not understand it.
"If Dicky has spoken of my feeling toward Miss Draper, even to you," I
began stormily, feeling every instinct outraged.
"Don't, dear child." Mrs. Underwood reached her firm, cool hand across
the table, and put it over my hot, trembling fingers. "You can't fight
this thing by getting angry, or by jumping at conclusions. Now, listen
There was a peremptory note in her voice that I was glad to obey. I
resolved not to interrupt her again.
"Don't misunderstand me," she went on, "and please don't be angry when
I say you are about as able to cope with the situation as a new born
baby would be. That's the reason why I want you to let me come down
and be a big sister to you. Will you?"
"Of course. You know I will," I returned. "But won't Dicky resent--"
"Dicky won't dream what I'm doing," she retorted tartly, "and when he
does wake up I'll take care of him."
Always the note of domination of Dicky! Always the calm assumption,
which I knew was justified, that no matter what she did he would not,
remain angry at her! It spoke much for the real liking I felt for
Lillian Underwood that the old resentment I felt for this condition of
things was gone forever. I knew that she was my friend even more than
Dicky's, and her history had revealed to me to what lengths she would
go in loyalty to a friend.
"You see," she went on, "If the Draper woman were the ordinary type of
model there would be no problem at all. Dicky has always been a sort
of Sir Galahad of the studios and he had been too proud to engage
in even a slight flirtation with any girl in his employ. He is very
sincerely in love with you, too, and that safeguards him from any
influence that is not quite out of the ordinary.
"But I tell you this Draper girl is a person to be reckoned with.
She is hard as nails, beautiful as the devil, and I believe her to be
perfectly unscrupulous. She is as interested in Dicky as she can be
in any one outside herself, and I think she would like to smash things
generally just to gratify her own egotism."
"You mean--" I forced the words through stiff lips.
"I mean she is trying her best to make Dicky fall in love with her,
but she isn't going to succeed."
"But I am afraid she has succeeded!" The wail broke from me almost
without my own volition.
"Why?" The monosyllable was sharp with anxiety.
I knew better than to keep my part of the story from her. I told her
of Dicky's growing coldness to me, his anxiety to get the train upon
which Miss Draper traveled, the neighborhood gossip, his determination
not to have me meet her sister. I also laid bare the coldness with
which I had treated the girl, and my determination never to say a word
which would lead Dicky to believe I was jealous of her.
When I had finished Lillian leaned back in her chair and laughed
"Is that all?" she demanded. "I thought you had something really
serious to tell me. If you'll do exactly as I tell you we'll beat this
game hands down."
"I'll do just as you say," I responded, although it humiliated me to
be put in the position of trying to beat any game, the stake of which
was my husband's affections.
"Well, then, that is settled," she said, rising. "Now, for the first
gun of the campaign. Call Dicky up, tell him you just lunched with me,
and you are ready to go home any time he is."
"Oh, I can't do that," I said. "I couldn't bear to feel that he might
prefer to take the train with her."
Lillian came to my side, gripped my shoulder hard, and looked into my
"See here," she said, "are you going to be a baby or a woman in this
I swallowed hard. I knew she was right.
"I'll do whatever you wish," I responded meekly.
So I called Dicky on the telephone, and after explaining my unexpected
presence in town, arranged to meet him at the station and go home with
"Sounds as if we were going to dine with Friend Husband," said
Lillian, as I hung up the receiver.
"Yes, we are going home by trolley from Jamaica. It ought to be a
beautiful trip. Dicky must have been thinking of such a trip before,
for he told me there was a train to Jamaica at five minutes of four
which connects with the trolley, and he usually gets mixed on the
schedule of the trains from Marvin."
"What's that?" Lillian stopped short, then turned the subject. "How
would you like to go down to the station on top of a bus?" she asked,
"or would you prefer a taxi?"
"The bus by all means," I returned.
"I see we are kindred souls," she said. "I dote on a bus ride myself."
We were within a few blocks of the railroad station when she said:
"I hope I am mistaken, but I think Miss Draper will be a member of
your trolley trip home, and I want you to be prepared to act as if it
were the thing you most desired."
"If you are right, I will not go," I said, a cold fury at my heart. "I
will take the next train home."
"You will do no such thing." Lillian's voice was imperative. "You
promised you would let me be your big sister in this thing, and you've
got to let me run it my way!"
"See here, my dear," her tones were caressing now. "You must use the
weapons of a woman of the world in this situation, not those of an
unsophisticated girl. The primitive woman from the East Side would
waltz in and destroy the beauty of any lady she found philandering,
however innocently, with her spouse. The proud, sensitive,
inexperienced woman would have done just what you have contemplated,
go home alone and ignore the wanderers. But, my dear, you must do
neither of those things. You cannot afford to play in Draper's hand
"Tell me what I must do," I said wearily.
"In a minute. First let me put you right on one question. Dicky is not
in love with this girl yet. If he were, he would not wish any meeting
between you and her. He is interested and attracted, of course, as
any impressionable man with an eye for beauty would be if thrown in
constant companionship with her. And, forgive me, but I am sure you
have taken the wrong tack about it.
"You must dissemble, act a part, meet her feminine wiles with sharper
weapons. Now you have been cold to her, avoided seeing her when
possible, and while not quarreling with Dicky about her, yet
evidencing your disapproval of her in many little ways."
"It is quite true," I answered miserably.
"Then turn over a new leaf right now. You may be sure at this minute
that Dicky is worrying more over your attitude toward this trip than
he is over Miss Draper's dimples. He expects you to have a grouch.
Give him a surprise. Greet the lady smilingly, express your pleasure
at having her companionship on your trip, but manage to register
delicately your surprise at her being one of the party. No, better
leave that part to me. You do the pleasant greeting, I'll put over the
catty stuff. But on your honor, until I see you again, will you put
down your feelings and cultivate Grace Draper, letting your attitude
change slowly, so Dicky will suspect nothing?"
"I'll try," I said faintly.
"You'll do it," she returned bluntly. "I want her to be almost a
member of the family by the time I get there."
* * * * *
The trip by trolley with my husband and Grace Draper through the
beautiful country lying between Jamaica and Hempstead will always
remain in my memory as a turning point in my ideas of matrimony and
Lillian Underwood's talk with me had destroyed all my previous
conceptions of dignified wifely behavior in the face of a problem like
So all during the journey home through the fragrant September air, I
paid as much attention to my role of calm friendliness as any actress
would to a first night appearance. Remembering Lillian's advice to
make the transition gradual from the frigid courtesy of my former
meetings with Grace Draper to the friendly warmth we had planned
for our campaign, I adopted the manner one would use to a casual but
I kept the conversational ball rolling on almost every topic under the
sun. But I found that the burden of the talk fell on my shoulders. The
girl was plainly uneasy and puzzled at my manner. Dicky's thoughts
I could not fathom, I caught his eyes fixed on me once or twice with
admiration and a touch of bewilderment in them, but he said very
It was a wonderful night; warm, with the languor of September,
fragrant with the heavy odors of ripening fruit and the late autumn
blossoms. There was no moon, but the long summer twilight had not
yielded entirely to the darkness and the stars were especially bright.
A night for lovers, for vows given and returned, it was this, if ever
a night was. What a wonderful journey this would have been for me if
only this other woman was not on the other side of my husband! Then
with savage resentment I realized that she might also be thinking what
possibilities the evening would have held for her if I had not been a
third on the little journey.
Whatever Dicky was thinking I dared not guess. Whatever it was, I was
sure that his thoughts were not dangerously charged with emotion
as were mine and Grace Draper's. I was fiercely glad of his
irresponsibility for the first time.
"Come on, girls. Here's Crest Haven. I've got a brilliant idea. We'll
get one of these open flivvers they have at the station and motor to
Marvin luxuriously. Beats waiting for the train all hollow."
I opened my lips to protest against the extravagance, then closed them
without speaking, flushing hotly at the danger I had escaped. Nothing
would have so embarrassed Dicky and delighted Miss Draper as any
display of financial prudence on my part.
"Oh, Mr. Graham, how wonderful!" Miss Draper gave the impression of
finding her voice mislaid somewhere about her, and deciding suddenly
to use it. "This is just the night for a motor ride."
Her voice matched the night, cooing, languorous, seductive. I knew
if she had voiced her real thoughts she would have willed that I
be dropped anywhere by the roadside, so that she might have the
enchanting solitude of the ride with Dicky.
A daring thought flashed into my brain as we stepped into the taxi.
Why not pretend to play into her hand? It would prove to both Dicky
and her that I was indifferent to their close friendship. And I was
secretly anxious to see what way Dicky would reply to my proposition.
"Dear," I said with emotion, I fancy just the right note of conjugal
tenderness in my voice. "Won't you drop me at the house first before
you take Miss Draper home? I'm afraid I am getting a headache. I've
had a rather strenuous day with Lillian, you know, and I really am
very tired. You will excuse me, I am sure, Miss Draper. I'll try never
to quit like this again. But my headaches are not to be trifled with."
"I am so sorry." Her voice was conventional, but I caught the under
note of joy. "Of course I will excuse you."
"Are you sure the ride over there wouldn't do your head good, Madge?"
"Oh, no, Dicky, I feel that I must get home quickly. But that does not
need to affect your plans. Katie is at home. I do not need you in the
least. Go right along and enjoy your ride. I only wish I felt like
doing it, too."
I fairly held my breath the rest of the ride. Dicky had not replied to
my suggestion. What would he do when we reached the house?
The taxi sped along over the smooth roads, turned up the driveway
at the side of the house and halted before the steps of the veranda.
Dicky sprang out, gave his hand to me, and then turned to the driver.
"Take this lady to Marvin," he said. "She will tell you the street.
How much do I owe you?"
"One dollar and a half."
I knew the charge was excessive, but I also knew enough to hold my
tongue about it. Dicky paid the man and spoke to the girl inside.
"Good night, Miss Draper. You see you will have to enjoy the ride for
both of us."
"Oh, Dicky!" I protested, but with a fierce little thrill of triumph
at my heart. "This is a shame. Honestly, I do not need you. Go on over
with Miss Draper."
"Of course he will do no such thing." The girl spoke with finality. I
could imagine the storm of jealous rage that was swaying her. "There
is nothing else for Mr. Graham to do but to stay with you." Her tone
added, "You have compelled him to do so against his will."
She leaned from the cab. Her face looked ethereally beautiful in the
faint light. I knew she meant to make Dicky regret that he could not
"Good night," she said sweetly. "I am so sorry you do not feel well. I
sincerely hope you will be better in the morning."
But as the taxi rolled away, my heart beating a triumphant
accompaniment to the roll of its wheels, I knew she was wishing me
every malevolent thing possible.
I was glad she could not guess the bitter taste in my cup of victory.
Long after Dicky was asleep, I lay on my porch bed looking out at the
stars and debating over and over the question:
"Did Dicky refuse to accompany Grace Draper to her home because of
consideration for me, or because he was afraid to trust himself alone
A VOICE THAT CARRIED FAR
"Ah! Mrs. Graham, this is an unexpected pleasure."
Dr. Pettit's eyes looked down into my own with an expression that
emphasized the words he had just uttered. His outstretched hand
clasped mine warmly, his impressive greeting embarrassed me a bit, and
I turned instinctively toward Dicky to see if he had noticed the young
physician's extraordinarily cordial greeting.
But this I had no opportunity to discover, for as I turned, a taxi
drew up to the curb where the Underwoods--who had come down to spend
the promised week with us--Dicky and I were waiting for the little
Crest Haven Beach trolley and Dicky sprang to meet Grace Draper and
the Durkees--Alfred Durkee and his mother, who completed our party for
the motor boat trip.
"I am very glad to see you, Dr. Pettit," I murmured conventionally,
then hurriedly: "Pardon me a moment, I must greet these guests. I will
When I turned again to him after welcoming Grace Draper with forced
friendliness, and the Durkees with the real warmth of liking I felt
for them, I found him talking to Lillian.
Dr. Pettit, it appeared, was waiting for the same car we wished to
take, and no one looking at our friendly chatting group would have
known that he did not belong to the party.
It was when we were all seated comfortably in the trolley, bowling
merrily along over the grass-strewn track, that Lillian voiced a
suggestion which had sprung into my own mind, but to which I did not
quite know how to give utterance.
"Look here," she said brusquely, "I'm not the hostess of this party,
but I'm practically one of the family, so I feel free to issue an
invitation if I wish. Dr. Pettit, what's the matter with you joining
our party for the day? Dicky here has been howling for another man to
help lug the grub all morning. Unless you are set on a solitary day
that man 'might as well be you'"--she punctuated the parody with a
mocking little moue.
I had a sneaking little notion that Dicky would have been glad of the
opportunity to box Lillian's ears for her suggestion. I do not think
he enjoyed the idea of adding Dr. Pettit to the party, but, of course,
in view of what she had said there was nothing for him to do but to
pretend a cordial acquiescence in her suggestion.
"That's the very thing," he said, with a heartiness which only I, and
possibly Lillian, could dream was assumed. "Lil, you do occasionally
have a gleam of human intelligence, don't you?
"I do hope that you have no plan that will interfere with coming with
us," he said to the physician. "We have a big boat chartered down here
at the beach, and we're going to loaf along out to one of the 'desert
islands' and camp for the day."
"That sounds like a most interesting program," said the young
physician. His voice held a note of hesitation, and he looked swiftly,
inquiringly, at me and back again. It was so carelessly done that I do
not think any one noticed it, but I realized that he was waiting for
me to join my voice to the invitation.
"Well, Dr. Pettit," Dicky came up at this juncture, "out for the day?"
His tone was cordial enough, but I, who knew every inflection of
Dicky's voice, realized that he did not relish the appearance of Dr.
Pettit upon the scene.
"Yes, I'm going down to the shore for a dip," the young physician
returned. And then without the stiff dignity which I had seen in his
professional manner, he acknowledged the introductions which I gave
him to Grace Draper and the Durkees.
"I trust you will think it interesting enough to make it worth
your while to join us," I said demurely, lifting my eyes to his and
catching a swift flash of something which might be either relief or
triumph in his steely gray ones.
"Indeed, I shall be very glad to accompany you," he said, smiling.
Our boat, a large, comfortable one, built on lines of usefulness,
rather than beauty, slipped over the dancing blue waters of the bay
like an enchanted thing. A neat striped awning was stretched over the
rear of the boat beneath which we lounged at ease.
The boat sped on as lazily as our idle conversation, and finally we
came in sight of a gleaming beach of sand, with seaweed so luxuriantly
tangled that it looked like small clumps of bushes, with the calm,
still water of the bay on one side, and the lazily rolling surf on the
"Behold our desert island!" Dicky exclaimed dramatically, springing to
Jim ran the boat skilfully up on the beach and grounded her. Harry
Underwood stepped forward to assist me ashore, but Dr. Pettit, with
unobtrusive quickness, was before him.
As I laid my hand in that of the young physician, Harry Underwood gave
a hoarse stage laugh. "I told you so," he croaked maliciously; "I knew
I had a rival on my hands."
As Harry Underwood uttered his jibing little speech, Dicky raised his
head and looked fixedly at me. It was an amazed, questioning look, one
that had in it something of the bewilderment of a child. In another
instant he had turned away to answer a question of Grace Draper's.
I felt my heart beating madly. Was Dicky really taking notice of the
attentions which Harry Underwood and Dr. Pettit were bestowing upon
me? I had not time to ponder long, however, for Lillian Underwood
seized my arm almost as soon as we stepped on shore and walked me away
until we were out of earshot of the others.
"Did you see Dicky's face," she demanded breathlessly, "when Harry and
that lovely doctor of yours were doing the rival gallant act? It was
perfectly lovely to see his lordship so puzzled. That doctor friend of
yours was certainly sent by Providence just at this time. Just keep up
a judicious little flirtation with him and I'll wager that before
the week's out Dicky will have forgotten such a girl as Grace Draper
If it had not been for the memory of Lillian's advice ringing in
my ears, I think I should have much astonished Dr. Pettit and Harry
Underwood when they started into the surf with me.
The whole situation was most annoying to me. And, besides, it was
so unutterably silly! I might have been any foolish school girl of
seventeen, with a couple of immature youths vying for my smiles, for
any reserve or dignity there was in the situation.
My fingers itched to astonish each of the smirking men with a sound
box on the ear. But my fiercest anger was against Dicky. If he had
been properly attentive to me, Mr. Underwood and Dr. Pettit would have
had no opportunity, indeed would not have dared, to pay me the idiotic
compliments, or to offer the silly attentions they had given me.
But Dicky and Grace Draper were romping in the surf, like two
children, splashing water over each other, and running hand in hand
toward the place far out on the sand--for it was low tide--where they
They might have been alone on the beach for anything their appearance
showed to the contrary. And yet as I gazed I saw Dicky look past the
girl in my direction, with a quick, furtive, watching glance.
As they went farther into the surf, he sent another glance over his
shoulder toward me.
As I caught it, guessing that in all his apparent interest in Grace
Draper he was yet watching me and my behavior, something seemed to
snap in my brain.
I would give him something to watch!
With a swift movement I slipped a little bit away from the two men by
my side, and, filling my hands with water, splashed it full into the
face of Harry Underwood.
"Dare you to play blind man's buff," I said gayly, sending another
handful into Dr. Pettit's face, and then slipping adroitly to one side
I laughed with, I fancy, as much mischief as any hoyden of sixteen
could have put into her voice, at the picture the men made trying to
get the salt water out of their eyes.
I had no compunctions on the score of their discomfort, for I felt
that I had a score to settle with each of them. The way in which each
took my rudeness, however, was characteristic of the men.
Harry Underwood's face grew black for a minute, then it cleared and he
"You little devil," he said, "I'll pay you for that. Ever get kissed
under water? Well, that's what will happen to you before this day is
Dr. Pettit's face did not change, but into his gray eyes came a
little steely glint. He said nothing, only smiled at me. But there was
something about both smile and eyes that made me more uncomfortable
than Harry Underwood's bizarre threat.
I was so unskilled in this game of banter and flirtation that I was at
a loss what to say. Recklessly I grasped at the first thing which came
into my mind.
"You'll have to catch me first," I said, daringly, and turning, ran
swiftly out toward the open sea. I am only a fair swimmer, but the sea
was unusually calm, so that I went much farther than I otherwise would
When I found the water getting too deep for walking I started
swimming. As I swam I looked over my shoulder. The two men were
following me, both swimming easily. Dr. Pettit was in the lead, but
Harry Underwood, with powerful strokes, was not far behind him. I
concluded that Dr. Pettit had been the swifter runner, but that the
other man was the better swimmer.
As I saw them coming toward me, I realized that I had given them a
challenge which each in his own way would probably take up. I was
dismayed. I felt that I could not bear the touch of either man's hand.
In another moment my punishment had come.
Dr. Pettit overtook me, stretched out his hand, just touched me with
a caressing, protecting little gesture, and said in a low tone, "Don't
be afraid, little girl: If you will accord me the privilege, I will
see that your friend does not get a chance of fulfilling his threat."
I knew that he intended his words for my ear alone, but he had not
counted on Harry Underwood's quick ear. That gentleman swam lazily
toward us, saying as he passed us, with a malicious little grin:
"Better go slow upon that protecting-heroine-from-villain stunt. I see
Friend Husband is getting a bit restless."
He forged on into the surf, with long, powerful strokes that yet had
the curious appearance of indolence which invests every action of his.
Startled at his words, I looked toward the place where I had last seen
Dicky romping in the waves with Grace Draper.
The girl was swimming by herself. Dicky, with rapid strokes, was
coming toward us.
"For the love of heaven, Madge!" he said, angrily, as he came up to
us. "Haven't you any more sense than to come away out here? This sea
is calm, but it is treacherous, and you are farther out than you have
ever gone before. Come back with me this minute."
The sight of Grace Draper swimming by herself gave me an inspiration.
The game which Lillian had advised me to play was certainly
succeeding. I would keep it up.
"Have you taken leave of your senses?" I demanded, assuming an
indignation I did not feel. "Dr. Pettit was saying nothing to me that
could possibly interest you." I felt a little twinge of conscience at
the fib, but I had too much at stake to hesitate over a quibble. "As
for casting sheep's eyes, as you so elegantly express it, you've been
doing so much of it yourself that I suppose it is natural for you to
accuse other people of it."
"Now what do you mean by that?" Dicky demanded, staring at me with
such an innocent air that I could have laughed if I had not been
thoroughly angry at his silly attempt to misunderstand me.
"Don't be silly, Dicky," I said, pettishly; "I can swim perfectly
well out here and even if anything should happen, Dr. Pettit and Mr.
Underwood are surely good swimmers enough to take care of me." I could
not resist putting that last little barbed arrow into my quiver, for
Dicky, while a good swimmer, even I could see, was not as skillful as
either Mr. Underwood or Dr. Pettit.
Dicky waited a long moment before answering, then he spoke tensely,
"Madge, answer me, are you coming back with me now, or are you not?"
The tone in which he put the question was one which I could not brook,
even at the risk of seriously offending Dicky. An angry refusal was
upon my lips when Harry Underwood's voice saved me the necessity of a
"There, there, Dicky-bird, keep your bathing suit on," he admonished,
roughly; "of course, she'll go back, we'll all go back, a regular
triumphal procession with beautiful heroine escorted by watchful
husband, treacherous villain and faithful friend." He grinned at Dr.
Pettit, and we all swam back to shallower water, Dr. Pettit and Mr.
Underwood gradually edging off some distance away from Dicky and me.
I could not help smiling at the ludicrous aspect we must have
presented. Dicky must have been watching me narrowly, for he suddenly
"To the devil with Grace Draper!" Dicky cried, and his voice was
louder, carried farther than he realized. "I'm not bothering about
her. She's getting on my nerves anyway; but you happen to be my wife,
and what you do is my concern, don't you forget that, my lady."
"HOW NEARLY I LOST YOU!"
Dicky and I had been so engrossed in our quarrel that we had not
noticed our proximity to Grace Draper. Whether she had purposely
approached us or not, I could not tell. At any rate, when, after
Dicky's outburst of jealous anger against Dr. Pettit and my retort
concerning his model, he had cried out loudly, "To the devil with
Grace Draper! I'm not bothering about her. She's getting on my nerves
anyway," I heard a choking little gasp from behind me, and, turning
swiftly, saw the girl standing quite near to us.
Except when excited, Grace Draper never has any color, but the usual
clear pallor of her face had changed to a grayish whiteness. I had
reason enough to hate the girl, I had schemed with Lillian to save
Dicky from her influence, but in that moment, as I gazed at her, I
felt nothing but deep pity for her.
For all the poise and pretence of the girl was stripped from her. She
was a ghastly, pitiable sight, as she stood there, her big eyes fixed
on Dicky, her breath coming unevenly in shuddering gasps.
Then she glanced at me and her eyes held mine for a moment,
fascinated; then, with a little shrug of her shoulders, she turned
away, and I knew that the danger of Dicky's realizing her agitation
"What are you looking at so earnestly?" Dicky demanded.
Without waiting for an answer, he turned swiftly, following my gaze,
and catching sight of the retreating back of Grace Draper.
"Good Lord!" he gasped in consternation. "Do you suppose she heard
what I said?"
"Oh, I'm sure she didn't," I replied mendaciously.
Dicky looked at me curiously. Whether he believed me or not I do not
know. At any rate, he did not press the question.
Neither did he again refer to Dr. Pettit, to my sincere relief.
We made a merry picnic of our impromptu luncheon, and after it,
when we were dried by the sun, we spent a comfortable lazy two hours
lounging on the beach.
If I had not seen Grace Draper's blanched face and the terrible look
in her eyes when she had heard Dicky's exclamation of indifference
toward her, I would not have dreamed that her heart held any other
emotion except that of happy enjoyment of the day. She laughed and
chatted as if she had not a care in the world, directing much of her
conversation to me. It crossed my mind that for some reason of her
own she was trying to make it appear to every one that we were on
especially friendly terms.
It was after one of Dicky's periodical trips to Jim's fire, which
Harry Underwood did not allow him to forget, and his report that the
dinner would be shortly forthcoming, that Grace Draper rose and said
carelessly: "Suppose we all have another dip before dinner; there
won't be time before we leave for a swim afterward, and the water is
too fine to miss going in once more. What do you say, Mrs. Graham?
Will you race me?"
I saw Lillian's quick little gesture of dissuasion, and through me
there crept an indefinable shrinking from going with the girl, but the
men were already chasing each other through the shallow water, and I
did not wish to humiliate my guest by refusing to go with her.
"It can hardly be called a race," I answered quietly, "for you swim so
much better than I, but I will do my best."
I followed her into the water with every appearance of enjoyment, and
exerted every ounce of my strength to try to keep up with her rush
through the waves.
I knew she was not exerting her full strength, for she is a
magnificent swimmer, but I found that I had all I could do to keep
pace with her. She seemed to be bent on showing off her skill to me,
or else she was, trying to test my nerves by teasing me.
I knew that she was able to swim under the water when she chose, but
that did not accustom me to the frequent sudden disappearances which
she made, or to her equally sudden reappearances above the surface of
She would dash on ahead of me a few yards, then her head would
disappear beneath the waves. The next thing I knew she would bob up
almost at my side. There was a fascination about this skill of hers
which gripped me. I was so engrossed in watching her that I did not
realize how far out we had gone until at one of her quick turns, I,
following her, caught a glimpse of the beach.
To my overwrought imagination it seemed miles away. I suddenly felt an
overwhelming terror of the cloudless sky, the rolling waves, even of
the girl who had brought me out so far.
I looked wildly around for her, but could not see her anywhere.
Evidently she was indulging in one of her underwater tricks. I turned
blindly toward the shore. As I did so I felt a sudden jerk, a quick
clutch at my foot, a clutch that dragged me down relentlessly.
I remembered gasping, struggling, fighting for life, with an awful
sensation of being sunk in a gulf of blackness. I fancied I heard
Lillian Underwood's voice in a piercing scream. Then I knew nothing
The next thing I remember was a voice. "There, she's coming out of it.
Let me have that brandy," and then I felt a spoon inserted between my
teeth and something fiery trickled gently drop by drop in my throat.
The voice was that of Dr. Pettit.
With a gasp as the pungent liquid almost strangled me, I opened my