Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Strawberry Acres by Grace S. Richmond

Part 1 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Produced by Charles Aldarondo, Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team.

Strawberry Acres







I. Five Miles Out

II. Everybody Explores

III. The Apartment Overflows

IV. Arguments and Answers

V. Telephones and Tents

VI. In the Pine Grove

VII. Everybody is Satisfied

VIII. Problems and Hearts

IX. Max Compromises

X. Jack-O'-Lantern


I. What's in a Name

II. In the Old Garden

III. Afternoon Tea

IV. Two and Two

V. On an August Evening

VI. Time-Tables

VII. The Southbound Limited

VIII. From April North

IX. Round the Corner

X. Green Leaves

Strawberry Acres




The four Lanes--Max, Sally, Alec and Robert--climbed the five flights of
stairs to their small flat with the agility of youth and the impetus of
high but subdued excitement. Uncle Timothy Rudd, following more slowly,
reached the outer door of the little suite of rooms in time to hear what
seemed to be the first outburst.

"Well, what do you think now?"

"Forty-two acres _and_ the house! Open the windows and give us air!"

"Acres run to seed, and the house tumbling down about its own ears! A
magnificent inheritance that!" Max cast his hat upon a chair as if he
flung it away with the inheritance.

"But who ever thought Uncle Maxwell Lane would ever leave his poor
relations anything?" This was Sally.

"Five miles out by road--a bit less by trolley. Let's go and see it
to-morrow afternoon. Thank goodness a half holiday is so near."

"Anybody been by the place lately?"

"I was, just the other day, on my wheel. I didn't think it looked so
awfully bad." This was Robert, the sixteen-year-old.

As Uncle Timothy entered the tiny sitting-room Sally was speaking. She
had thrown her black veil back over her hat, revealing masses of flaxen
hair, and deep blue eyes glowing with interest. Her delicate cheeks were
warmly flushed, partly with excitement, and partly because for two hours
now--during the journey from the flat to the lawyer's office, the period
spent therein listening to the reading of Uncle Maxwell Lane's will and
the business appertaining thereto, and the return trip home--she had
worn the veil closely drawn. Her simple mourning was to her a screen
behind which to shield herself from curious eyes, always attracted by
those masses of singularly fair hair and the unusual contours of the
young face beneath.

"I think it's a godsend, if ever anything was," she was saying. "Here's
Max, killing himself in the bank, and Alec growing pale and grouchy in
the office, and even Bob--" She was interrupted by a chorus of protests
against her terms of description.

"I'm not killing myself!"

"Pale and grouchy! I'm not a patch on--"

"What's the matter with Bob, Sally Lunn?"

"And Uncle Timmy," continued Sally, undisturbed by interpolations to
which she was quite accustomed, "pining for fresh air--."

"I walk in the park every day, my dear," Uncle Timothy felt obliged to
remind her.

"Yes, I know. But you've lived in a little city flat just as long as it's
good for you, and you need to be turned outdoors. So do we all. Oh, boys,
and Uncle Timmy!--I just sat there, crying and smiling under my veil in
that dreadful office--crying to think that I _couldn't_ cry for Uncle
Maxwell, because he was so cold and queer to us always, and yet he had
given us this property, after all--."

"And a mighty small fraction of the estate it is, I hope you understand!"
growled Max.

But Sally went on without minding. Everybody was used to Max's growls.
"And smiling because I couldn't help it just to think we had a chance at
last to get out of the city. We can do it. Five miles by trolley is
nothing for you boys, or for me, when I need to come in."

"You're not talking about our going to live out there!" Max's tone
was derisive.

"Why not?"

"Have you seen the place lately?"

"Not since I was a little girl, but I remember I thought it was
lovely then."

"It isn't lovely now, if it ever was--which I doubt. In the first place
it belongs to that little suburb of Wybury--as commonplace a village as
ever existed within five miles of as big a city as this. In the second
place it's as much an abandoned farm as neglect can make a place that was
once, I suppose, an aristocratic sort of country home. The old mansion is
as big as a barn, and as hopeless. You couldn't any more make a home out
of it!--Why, you could put this whole apartment into the room at the left
of the hall!"

"How do you know so much about it?" demanded Sally. "None of us has been
there since Aunt Alicia died--that was when we were children, and Uncle
Maxwell used to spend his summers there."

"He hasn't spent them there since she died," Max asserted. "How do I know
so much about it? I was down there last summer with Frank Sustis. His
father sent him out to look the place over, with a view to buying it
himself for a summer home. You should have heard Prank jeer at the idea
while we were going about."

"It makes no difference," persisted Sally, removing her hat and
folding the veil with care. "I want to see it. We'll go out
to-morrow, won't we?"

She appealed to her second brother, Alec, a young fellow of twenty, who
had thrown himself listlessly into a chair but who was listening
attentively to the discussion. He nodded. "Of course. You couldn't keep
one of us away, even Max. He wouldn't be done out of the pleasure of
showing us over the place and pointing out the defects, if, by keeping
still, he could own the whole ranch himself."

"It'll be jolly fun to go!" cried Bob, quickly. He could not bear sounds
of disagreement between the members of his family, because he knew Sally
did not like it.

"What do you think about the old place, Uncle Timmy?" questioned Sally
presently. She had taken off her one carefully-used street suit, and had
put on a fresh little black-and-white print, in which she was setting the
table for dinner. All the others except Uncle Timothy had gone out on
various errands.

"Well, Sally," said Mr. Timothy Rudd, thoughtfully, "I don't know that
I'm a competent judge. Your Uncle Maxwell's place was considered a fine
one in its day. Before he made so much money and took to living in town,
he used to like it there, I think, though he didn't say much about it.
I'm sorry it's been allowed to run down. There was a pine grove on it,
and a splendid young apple orchard, and a timber tract at the back that
ought to be worth considerable money by this time, if it hasn't been cut.
Probably it has, with timber bringing the prices it does now."

"About the house," inquired Sally, after Uncle Timothy had gone into
more or less detail concerning the place itself. "I'm especially
interested in the house. Do you think it would be out of the question
for us to live there?"

"I don't know. It would be something of a change from this," he admitted,
looking about the little dining-room. "You've managed to make us all
pretty comfortable here, with what there was left of the furniture after
the sale. I don't know how far it would go in Maxwell's big house. It's
pretty large, that's a fact. According to Max, it's in need of a good
deal of repair. Of course, as far as I'm concerned, I should like to live
out in the country among the green things, as I used to do, up in New
Hampshire. It would be good for us all. But you can tell better after
you've seen the place again."

There was no denying this. Sally's head was so full of plans it was
difficult to wait until the afternoon of the next day, when everybody
should be at liberty to make the trip to Wybury. The moment luncheon was
over they started, and by two o'clock the trolley-car, whizzing out
through the suburbs to the open country, then following the curve along
the river edge to pass through the small settlement called Wybury, had
deposited them in the centre of that village.

The Maxwell place lay a quarter of a mile down the river road, and the
party set off promptly to cover the short distance. It was early April,
sunny and mild, but still rather damp under foot. After leaving the board
sidewalks of Wybury there was no accommodation for foot passengers except
the path at the side of the road.

"Imagine tramping through this mud every night and morning," was Max's
first contribution to the effort he meant to make to disillusionize his
romantic sister, whose dreams of life in the country he considered worse
than folly. He turned up his trousers widely at the bottom as he spoke.

"It's such a little way, we could soon have a better path," Sally
replied. "Look, there are the chimneys, I'm sure, just beyond that grove
of pines. It's hardly more than five minutes' walk from the car."

"Five minutes through a February blizzard is five minutes too much."

"But five minutes through a midsummer evening is an hour too little,"
Sally gave him back.

"That pine grove belongs to the place," called back Bob, who was
considerably in advance of the others. Sally, in spite of her eagerness,
was adapting her pace to the limitations of Uncle Timothy, who at sixty
could hardly be expected to walk in competition with nineteen.

"Pine groves are worth something these days," said Max, eyeing the thick
tops critically.

Sally had charmed eyes for the pine grove; but she did not look at it
long, for beyond showed the great chimney-tops she remembered from her
childhood, when it had been the happiest treat she knew to be invited by
Aunt Alicia to spend the day at Uncle Maxwell's country place.

The young Lanes had all been born and brought up in the city. Their home
had been one of moderate luxury until, three years before, their father
had died suddenly, leaving the mere remnant of an estate which had been
supposed to be a large one. The shock, and the change from a life of ease
to one of close economy, had weakened the always delicate constitution of
the wife and mother until, a year after her husband's death, she had
followed him.

Max had left college at the end of his third year and gone into the bank
of which his Uncle Maxwell was vice-president. Alec, just ready for
college, had reluctantly resigned his purpose and taken a position in the
drafting-office of a firm of contractors, friends of his father. Even
Robert, the youngest, had found something to do. The family had sold the
old home to obtain money with which to meet expenses until the salaries
of the workers should begin to count, and had moved into the little flat
where the nineteen-year-old sister had, for a year now, done her girlish
best to make a home for her "four men," as she called them, while she
kept many violent attacks of heartache bravely hidden--for the most
part--under a bright exterior. Nobody knew how Sally disliked the
flat--unless it was Bob, who was her closest confidant.

"There's your fine family mansion!" called Max, pointing from the curve
of the road, which he had reached close after Bob.

Sally stood still in astonished surprise. Could that really be the
aristocratic old place of her memory? Max could hardly be blamed for his
derisive comments.

A noble house gone to decay is a sight infinitely more depressing than
that of an humble one. This once had been an imposing structure; it
looked now like a relic of war times.

"Look at the tumbling chimneys!" crowed Alec. "Look at the broken
shutters, swinging by one hinge. See those porch pillars--were they ever
white? Behold that side entrance--looks as if a cyclone had struck it!"

Sally was silent. Even her buoyant hopes fell before the indisputable
evidence given by her eyes. It was so big--the old place! A small house
one might hope to repair, but a large building like this--it would cost
more than they would have to spare in years. If the outside were any
indication of the inside, the situation was hopeless.

She followed Alec in through the gateway, at the dilapidated stone
side-posts of which Max gave a significant wave of the hand as he passed.
An overgrown hedge ran along the entire front of the place, its untrimmed
wildness adding to the general unkempt look, as did the sodden, tangled
surface of what had once been a lawn, the rank bunches of shrubbery which
half hid the front windows from sight, and the broken bricks in the old
walk which led, beside a grass-grown driveway, from gate-post to porch.

"How did Maxwell ever come to let this place go to seed like this?"
lamented Uncle Timothy. "He must have cared nothing at all for it. One
would think it was forty years instead of only ten that it had been left
to wind and weather."

"It's a wonder that some passing tramp hasn't set fire to it," commented
Max, searching in his pocket for the key which had been delivered to him
by Mr. Sidway, his uncle's executor. "Take a long breath before I let you
in. It'll be musty and fusty enough to stifle you, probably."

With considerable difficulty he turned the key in the rusty lock and
opened the door, which turned creakingly upon its long unused hinges. But
with the first step inside Sally's drooping spirits leaped up again.

"Oh Max," she cried, "what a beautiful old hall!"

"Beautiful, is it?" inquired Max, laughing contemptuously. "Well, I can't
say I see it."

"Looks just like a barracks to me!" sniffed Alec. "Phew-w--what air--or
lack of it!"

"But it _is_ beautiful," persisted Sally, in genuine enthusiasm. "See how
wide and high, sweeping straight through to that door at the back. And
see the wide, low staircase with the spindle railing and the curved posts
at the bottom. See the carving over the doors--and the fanlight over the
outside ones. And look at that fireplace!"

She dragged Max by one arm and Uncle Timothy by the other, to stand in
front of it. Halfway down the hall, sharing one of the great chimneys
with another fireplace on the other side of the wall, was a chimney-piece
of fine old colonial design. The proportions were colossal.

"It would take a cord of wood to keep the thing going an evening,"
asserted Max.

"And then nobody'd be warm unless he was sitting with his head inside the
hood," supplemented Alec.

But Sally was already off upon explorations. She rushed into the room
upon the left of the hall; it was a drawing-room thirty feet long by
twenty wide. She darted into the room on the right--it was twenty feet
square, and back of it lay another of similar size. She could no longer
wait for her party, with their slow and indifferent following of her,
but ran from room to room, calling back injunctions to note special
points of interest.

Bob kept close behind her. If he cared little for old houses, he cared
much for Sally, and he liked to see her eyes sparkle and her lips laugh.
Sally had times of being very sad and discouraged, as no one knew so well
as he, and if she could find interest in this old barracks--he thought
Alec had struck the right word--he was not the boy to dampen it.

"Let's skip up this back staircase, Bobby," proposed Sally, as they
turned about from exploring the kitchen and store-rooms. "I'm crazy to
find if there aren't some smaller rooms--nice, cozy ones, you know. It
can't be all so big everywhere."

"Don't you suppose the upstairs rooms are just the shape of the lower
ones?" suggested Bob, as they ran up.

"In front, perhaps, but not back here. There ought to be some lovely
rambling passageways, and steps up and steps down, and rooms where you
don't expect them, and a splendid attic--and perhaps a secret staircase.
Bob--what if there should actually be a secret staircase!"

Bob laughed. "You've been reading spooky stories. I suppose--"

"Robert Rudd Lane! Will you behold that little flight of five steps,
leading up to that door!"

Sally was down the hall and up the five steps in a flash. She would have
burst into the unknown region beyond, but a locked door barred her way.
Bob stood below and laughed at her baffled expression. "You'd rather see
through that door than into any other spot in the house that isn't locked
up, wouldn't you, Sally Lunn?" he commented, knowingly.

"Run down to Max for the keys, will you, dear?" she begged, and Bob ran.

The others came up. Max and Bob, Alec, and even Uncle Timothy, tried
every key in the bunch in vain. Sally attempted to peer through the
key-hole. Bob ran outside, and returning reported that there were no
shutters in the region opposite the probable position of the door.

"It's undoubtedly a dark store-room, with a row of empty shelves," said
Max. "Give it up, Sally. There are places enough to explore. A regiment
of infantry could be bivouacked in this second story. See the rooms, and
rooms inside of rooms."

"Oh, come away home!" cried Alec, impatiently, before Sally was half

"I'm going over to the timber tract. You'd better come along, Al. Let
Sally stay here and plan her hotel. Maxwell Inn--eh, Sally? A number on
each door, and a fire-escape at each end of the hall. A bell-boy and two
chambermaids for this floor; in time, an elevator and a manicure shop!"
And Max clattered laughing away down the front staircase, the shallow
steps of which he took two at a time.

"It isn't a very cozy nest, is it, Sis?" said Bob, sympathetically, as
Sally, after one look into the great square rooms over the front, closed
the doors with a bang.

At mention of the timber tract Uncle Timothy had gone downstairs after
the others. They heard him shut the front door, and from an upper window
saw him walking briskly away.

"No, it isn't--now," she admitted, soberly, "but--what a home it
could be made!"

"It's pretty near twice as big as our old one, and that was a fairly good
size. We could camp out in a corner of it, but that would be lonesome,
don't you think so? We might keep summer boarders."

Sally shook her head. She began to walk back through the upper halls. Bob
followed her, and they climbed the attic stairs, finding a great space
above, lighted by low windows shut in by patterns of ironwork.

"Jolly, what a place for rainy days!" ejaculated the boy, moved to
greater enthusiasm than he had felt anywhere below stairs. "You could
have a workshop and a gymnasium and all sorts of things. You could make
it really festive with a few rugs and pillows and hammocks and things.
How the fellows I know would like to get up here!"

He lingered behind his sister, who, after one comprehensive look round
the big, bare, dusty place, had slipped away downstairs again, guarding
her skirts carefully. When Bob, after planning in detail a possible
and desirable arrangement of the attic, reluctantly descended, he found
her at the top of the little flight of steps which led to the one
locked door.

"Look out! The family skeleton may be hidden behind that door!" he
called, racing down the hall. "Or worse. Come away, Fatima!"

"Bob," said Sally, regarding him from the top of the steps, her cheeks
brightly flushed, her eyes alight with interest, "I simply have to know
what's beyond this door."

"What are you expecting to find there, Sis? Trunks full of gold?
Family papers, leaving all the Maxwell Lane estate to the Lanes of
Henley Street?"

She shook her head with a laughing challenge. "Wait till I get a
locksmith here!" she said.

"I'll wait," and Bob sat composedly down on the bottom step, grinning up
at his excited sister. "Going to get him out by wireless?"



Alighting from her mother's carriage in front of the Winona apartments in
Henley Street, Josephine Burnside dismissed her coachman and hurried
eagerly into the florid vestibule.

"I don't see how Sally endures this sort of thing," she thought, for the
hundredth time since the Lane house, near her own in Grosvenor Place, had
been sold. The door-latch clicked promptly in answer to her ring, and at
the top of the third flight she met Sally.

"I was sure it was you! I'm so glad! I'm all alone," was Sally's joyful
welcome; and the next minute Josephine found herself inside the small
passage, her outer garments being forcibly removed, and herself borne
into the little living-room and established in Uncle Timothy's reading
chair, which was the most comfortable one in the place.

"Sewing--as usual? What are you making now? Something lovely out of
nothing at all, I suppose?"

"Of course. It's a convenient accomplishment. You didn't know that four
and a half yards of Swiss muslin would make a whole frock, did you? Well,
it will--under some conditions." And Sally proudly held up the work of
her hands, a nearly finished product at which her friend, attired at the
moment in some fifteen yards of silk, stared in amazement.

"Sally Lunn! You didn't--you couldn't! It's not skimpy in the least. You
must have pieced out with something else. But where?"

"The remains of my old one, re-enforced underneath, and used where the
least wear will come on it. It's not an exact match, but I don't think it
will show."

"Show! Not a bit. But I thought putting old and new wash goods together
wouldn't do."

"I've shrunk the new, and, as I told you, re-enforced the old with some
very thin, cheap lawn. I shall wash it myself--with the ends of my
fingers, and my eyes looking the other way. Find the old parts!"

Thus challenged, Josephine brought a pair of very bright black eyes to
bear upon the pretty frock, turning it over critically, and after some
search discovered the resourceful trick which had made the whole lower
half of the skirt and part of the sleeves out of the old muslin.

"You genius!" she cried. "I wish I were half as clever as you." She
regarded her friend with the genuine admiration and affection which had
carried the comradeship of the two girls safely through the test of the
Lanes' altered fortunes.

"How good it is to have you back!" said Sally, returning the look. "You
haven't half told me about your winter."

"Yes--but never mind that just now," said Josephine. "I've come to hear
about you. Jarvis met Max this morning, heard the news, and told it at
luncheon. I simply flew down to show you how glad I am, and to hear more.
Tell me, is it a beautiful old place, and shall you go there to live? I
suppose I've seen it, but I've forgotten."

"It's a forlorn old place, dreadfully run down, but I want to live in
it. The boys won't hear of it--as yet. We've only been there once.
We're going again Saturday--you know that's the only time they can all
get away."

"What fun. Can't I go, too? There must be something nice about it, or you
wouldn't want to live there."

"There's a locked door in it," said Sally, smiling, as her thoughts
turned to the mystery. She described the finding of the door to
Josephine, who exclaimed:

"I must be there to see it opened! What do you suppose you'll find?"

"Dust and empty shelves, Max says. Blue-beard's murdered wives, says Bob.
Alec guesses a lot of broken-backed chairs and a desk with the hinges
off. Uncle Timothy thinks it merely leads to the roof. But the steps from
the attic do that."

"What do _you_ think?"

"I think everything," admitted Sally, "from antique mirrors and old
clothes to empty flower pots and battered and rons. I'm prepared for
anything--except the empty shelves. Why should the door be locked so
securely if there's nothing behind it?"

"Why, indeed? I don't know why, but my imagination shudders deliciously
at the thought of seeing it opened. May I go on Saturday? May Jarvis go?
He wanted me to ask. He's having a bad time with his eyes again, can't
read, and pines for something to do. A locked closet will interest him."

"Of course you may both go, if you'll get Jarvis to promise not to throw
any cold water on my schemes."

"He's not likely to discourage any of your schemes, you know well enough.
Hasn't he always taken your part, even against me, since we used to
quarrel over which should have the shady side of the sand pile? 'Sun
won't hurt your gipsy face, Joey,' he'd say. 'Give Sally the shade, like
a gentleman.'"

Both girls laughed. Then Sally grew sober. "Seems to me it's only a
little while since Jarvis had his last siege with his eyes," she
observed. "Are they quite as bad again?"

"He's not shut up in the dark this time, but has to wear blue goggles in
the daytime, is forbidden reading and writing absolutely for weeks, and
goes to Doctor Meyer every other day for treatment. He's getting as
rampageous as a caged lion, and vows he'll go off to the South Seas, or
Labrador, or some other place where books and libraries and literary work
won't tantalize him. He'd go to-morrow, I believe, if it weren't for
mother. She can't bear the idea."

"It was that last awful year's work at college," said Sally regretfully.
"Why did he ever conceive the idea of doing two years' work in one--and
why did his friends let him do it?"

"I know--that's what we all say now. So does he."

"Of course he must go Saturday; tell him I particularly want him."

"That will please him. Now do tell me about the whole place," and
Josephine settled herself to listen.

Long before Sally had finished, her friend was as eager as herself to
see the old house, and was planning with all the help of a vivid
imagination what it would be like when it should be "restored." When she
went away, just before Sally set about getting dinner for her family, it
was with assurances that she and her brother would help Sally, to the
best of their ability, to realize her hopes.

This assurance was renewed when, on Saturday afternoon, the Lanes met the
Burnsides at the appointed hour to take the trolley-car. With the
exception of Uncle Timothy, they were all there, even Max, who had
declared his only interest in the place was to sell it. But, hearing that
Jarvis Burnside was to inspect it, he had decided to point out to Jarvis
the impracticability of making a home out of the property--unless for
some rich man who might be induced to buy it at a figure worth while. He
sat beside Jarvis in the car, talking to him, as Sally could see, in a
way intended to prejudice him against the place.

But as the party left the car, Jarvis joined Sally, smiled at her from
behind the ugly goggles which half disguised a face by no means ugly, and
said in an undertone:

"I believe I'm in possession of all the facts. From now on I intend to
let the fancies have full play."

"Good for you! I knew you'd never desert me, no matter how much in the
wrong I might be," answered Sally, gratefully.

Jarvis had been a fourth brother to her for so long that it seemed a
matter of course for her to depend upon his support, but she appreciated
it when occasionally the real brothers failed to remember how lonely the
young sister was, with no mother at hand to love or advise her. All but
Bob. He, the youngest of the family, was like a faithful dog, always
beside her when the others jeered or reproached, and always her
strongest, most faithful, ally.

"The walking is better today," Sally called out, as they started. Max,
true to his cause, promptly denied the truth of this statement. Josephine
came to the rescue.

"Who cares what the walking is like, on an April day like this?" she
challenged Max. "Isn't the air glorious? And won't it be lovely, across
the bridge and along the river, as soon as the leaves are out?"

Max was escorting Josephine, and as they turned the bend in the road he
pointed out to her the boundary lines of the estate. She asked him about
the values of land in this neighbourhood and the possibilities of making
such a place profitable.

"You sound like a business woman," was his comment. "Thinking of
investing out here? You ought to get Sally to talk the place up to
you. She estimates that by raising violets on the whole forty-two
acres and selling them to the florists in town we can be millionaires
the first year."

"Why not, at a dollar a bunch?" laughed Josephine. "And think how
picturesque your property will look, all a soft purple in the sunshine!"

"Won't it!" agreed Max. "There, that's the house. I suppose you're
prepared to fall into ecstasies with Sally on the door-step, and dance a
reel with her down the hall."

"Of course I am. But what I really came for is the locked door."

"The door! I believe Sally's forgotten the subject of her dreams. We
haven't a tool, any more than we had a week ago."

"Haven't we though?" shouted Bob, from the rear. He began to extract
various implements from his pockets on the spot. Sally herself waved her
shopping-bag. Jarvis Burnside pulled off his glove and began to search
his own pockets.

"I think we'll effect an entrance," he declared, and produced a
curious-looking skeleton key. "This will open any ordinary lock."

Josephine said everything Sally could have hoped for about the exterior
of the house, and a few things more. It did seem a little less forlorn
than before, the effect, perhaps, of the April sunshine, which lighted
its red brick walls into warm and cheerful hues. Jarvis, within the door,
removed his goggles and blinked approvingly at the fine colonial features
of the wood-work, the lines of the stairway, and the proportions of the

"Anybody can see those two are loaded," complained Alec in Max's ear, as
they brought up the rear of the procession. "Trust Jarve Burnside to back
up Sally every time, and Josephine to join 'em. It's all right enough for
him to talk about restoration. He could do it by putting his hand into
his pocket. Between 'em they'll get Sally completely off her head."

"There's no harm in looking the thing over," Max replied, absently, but
Alec continued to rail. Bob turned and frowned at him as meaningly as
Bob's round and sunny face could frown. Why must Alec follow Max's lead?
he thought. One could gain one's point quite as readily and much more
agreeably by being amiable. At least, this was Bob's philosophy.

"The door, Sally, the door!" urged Josephine, as the party finished the
survey of the lower floor. "I can't take an interest in any more open
rooms while I know there's a closed one waiting. Do lead the way up that
impressive staircase and take us straight to the place of mystery!"

"Sally's still young enough to want to save the plums in the cake till
the last," said Jarvis, as they went up. "Well, well, this stairway is
certainly a quaint one--risers about five inches, aren't they, Max?
Treads fourteen, at least. Fine for infants and invalids. And comfortable
for sitting out dances, Sally!"

"But not so interesting as the five steep steps we are coming to," and
Sally led the way down the hall to the side passage, from the end of
which rose the little flight which approached the locked door. "Here we
are. Now who'll let us in?"

It took the combined efforts of Jarvis and Max, working with one tool
after another, to effect an entrance. Clearly this was not an ordinary
closet lock which barred the way. But at last, with a vigorous wrench,
Jarvis held the yielding door under his hand. From the top step he waved
his free arm at the company, standing below.

"One last guess apiece," he demanded of them, "before you look."

"Old seed catalogues and empty hair-oil bottles," said Alec.

"A skeleton in armour!" cried Bob.

"All your Aunt Alicia's ball-dresses and your Uncle Maxwell's wedding
clothes," guessed Josephine.

"A mahogany sideboard, dining-table and chairs," murmured Sally, at which
there was a general shout.

"Dead beetles, fallen plaster, and a musty copy of 'Plutarch's Lives,'"
was Max's cynical contribution.

"Open the door!" cried Bob.

But Jarvis still held it. "I think I'll let in one at a time," he
declared. "Who'll venture first?"

Sally walked up the steps.

"Oh, don't send her in all alone!" begged Josephine. "Think, what if
there _should_ be--"

"The skeleton in armour," urged Bob.

"Go on, Sally, you're game," and Max grinned at Josephine and Bob. "It
doesn't take much to rouse some people's imaginations. Go ahead, and
confront the seed catalogues and the beetles with a bold front."

Jarvis, smiling at Sally and taking note of her pink cheeks, detained her
with an injunction. "Whatever you find," he stipulated, "make no outcry.
Retain your composure. Remember your friends are close at hand. Three
raps on the inside of this door will summon four stout retainers to your
side. Are you ready?"


"Remember that defunct beetles are harmless, old clothes retain no
characteristics of their former owners, no matter how blood-thirsty, and
empty bottles probably never contained fatal potions. If the place is
dark, press your finger on this"--he thrust a small electric search-light
into her hand--"and the mystery will be illumined. Brave lady, enter!"

He opened the door just wide enough to admit the slim figure in black,
which slipped through and promptly closed the door upon itself.

Josephine interfered.

"Jarvis, don't let her shut that door! Something might happen! There
might be a--hole in the floor."

"She has blue eyes and you black!" retorted Jarvis. "She has golden
locks, you raven. Don't let the outward attributes belie themselves
like that."

"_Sh!--Sh-h!_" Josephine held up a beseeching finger.

Everybody listened. A silence ensued, unbroken by raps or sounds of any
sort. When this had continued for some five minutes, Josephine spoke
urgently: "Jarvis Burnside, open that door! It's all right to joke, but
things do happen, and it's not right to fool this way!"

"What's the matter with you, Jo Burnside?" demanded Max, while Jarvis,
looking quizzical, still held the door. "Don't you know Sally well enough
to know she's not afraid of her shadow? She's playing the game through.
She'll come back in her own good time, when she's thoroughly explored
whatever's behind that door. A mouse won't give her hysterics, or a
flapping window-shade make her scream."

Josephine held her peace, but she looked at Bob. Bob was genuinely
uneasy, though determined not to show it. There is undeniably a peculiar
atmosphere about old and unused houses, and queer fancies are prone to
take possession of those who explore them. It was ten years since this
house had been lived in. There was something odd about its having been so
completely deserted, with not even a tenant left to occupy its kitchen
regions and look after it. And the lock on this door had been strangely

Josephine suddenly opened her lips to say: "I shall not stand here
waiting another minute!" when three raps on the door brought back her

Jarvis, himself looking a trifle relieved, promptly turned the knob. But
he could not open the door.

"It must be a spring-lock," he grunted disgustedly. "Idiot that I was!
All right, Sally!" he called. "Got to work the tools over again."

"Sally, O Sally, are you all right?" called Josephine.

There was no reply. Jarvis worked rapidly, repeating his former processes
with an impatient hand. When the lock yielded once more, he threw the
door open, and the others crowded up the steps.

"A staircase!" was the common ejaculation.

Bob pushed by the rest and ran up it, closely followed by all except
Jarvis. "I'll stay on the outside of this fool lock!" he called. But a
moment later, investigating, he found that it could be rendered
inoperative by a catch on the inside, which, being set, allowed the door
to open and close freely. So, after the others, he hurried up the stairs.

These ascended straight between the walls until a sharp curve at the top
brought them to a door now wide open. Within the room beyond stood the
party, exclaiming at the tops of their voices.

They might well exclaim. Of all the guesses, none had come within
distant range of the real thing.

The room was that of a collector of old books, and it had been closed and
left precisely as its former owner had arranged it, so far as could be
judged by its present appearance. A faded Turkey carpet covered the
floor; sun-rotted and dusty draperies hung at the windows, which were of
the same sort as those in the attic, close under the eaves, and shut in
by a pattern of ironwork. All around the walls stood bookcases, filled
with a large collection of books, the greater proportion of them of an
age suggestive, to the inexperienced eye, of worthlessness, to the more
discerning, of value. An antique desk and a few straight-backed chairs
were all the other furnishings of the room, but of these it needed none.
Even in its dust-covered condition it was a room to command respectful

As Jarvis came in, Max was studying the rows of books. He turned about
with a small calf-bound volume in his hand, and his eye fell on
Jarvis, entering.

"Jarve," he exclaimed, "I believe this is treasure-trove, sure enough! If
this isn't a 'first edition,' I'll eat the book, covers and all!"

Jarvis hurried to his side. He took the book, examined the fly-leaf, and
turned its pages. His eyes lighted with interest. "Of course it is!" he
declared. "And by the looks of them, there are plenty more. How on earth
do they come to be here? This is a gold mine that beats the mahogany
sideboard out of sight."

"It's more than I know. Uncle Maxwell was no book-lover, as far as I've
ever heard. Perhaps Uncle Tim can tell, though he's on mother's side, and
never was here much."

Bob's eyes were round with delight. He did not know much about books, but
the flush on Sally's cheeks and the excitement in Max's voice were enough
for him. He could not resist giving his elder brother a rap on the back.

"How about the dead beetles now, Max?" he exulted.

Alec was poking in the pigeon-holes of the desk. There were no papers to
be found except one bundle of letters, yellow with age. In one of the
drawers, there were a few old daguerreo-types in velvet cases and a
yellowed meer-schaum pipe.

"'Eliphalet Lane, Esquire,'" read Sally, from the addresses on the
letters, which were written on the folded outer sheet of the letters
themselves. "Why, I know who he was. He was Uncle Maxwell's elder
brother. He lived with them all his life. He died before we were born,
but I've heard father tell about him. He was a queer old man when father
was a boy. This must be his collection."

"And Uncle Maxwell didn't think enough of it to take it to town with
him--just locked it up and left it." This was Max's theory. "Uncle
Maxwell knew nothing about books and cared less; he was all for

"Luckily for you. This must be worth a good deal, if you care to sell
it," said Jarvis, who, close by one of the odd windows, was studying the
fine text of a set of English dramatists.

Sally walked over and gently took the books out of his hand. "Jarvis
Burnside," said she, decidedly, "the value of this collection is nothing
beside the value of your eyes. Put on your goggles, and don't look at
another line of type!"



The telephone bell in the Lanes' apartment rang sharply. It had rung
once before, but Sally, half-asleep on the couch in the middle of a warm
April morning, had not roused enough to notice. She moved reluctantly
toward it. Max's voice speaking urgently brought her back to her senses
with a jump.

"Sally, where on earth are you? I've just had a wire from the Chases that
they're coming through, and will stop off to see us. We'll have to put
them up somehow. Of course they don't know how we're fixed, but they'll
find out."

"Oh, Max!" Sally's tones were dismayed. "Why, we _can't_!"

"We'll have to. What would you have me do--wire them not to stop?
Besides, I couldn't get them. They've left the place they wired
from--reach here to-night at nine. You'll have to have some kind of
supper for them."

"But, Max--where--"

"Oh, figure it out somehow--you can, you know. I haven't a minute more
to talk--inspector's here--everybody busy--" and the click of the
receiver in Sally's ear ended the interview.

The Chases! They were young married people, who had been neighbours and
schoolmates of the Lanes. Dorothy Eustis, as an older girl, had been much
admired by Sally and Josephine until she married Neil Chase; that event
had made a great difference in their warmth of feeling. Sally did not
like Neil, never had liked him, and never would like him. A certain
pomposity of manner, which had been a characteristic of his, ever since
the days when he wore dresses and lorded it over the other infants in the
park, had made him unpopular. He had, however, become a successful young
attorney in his father's law firm, and had within the last year gone to a
larger city several hundred miles away to start practice for himself.

The thought of entertaining Neil and Dorothy Chase in the little
apartment was almost too much for Sally Lane. The Chases had gone away
just before the Lanes had sold the old house, and knew nothing of the new
quarters--evidently realized nothing of their small dimensions. It had
been characteristic of them to telegraph that they were coming, without
waiting for a reply. That was precisely like Neil.

Something must be done, and at once. It was now eleven o'clock. There was
none too much time in which to make ready. Sally began reluctantly to
plan. The Chases must have her room, of course; it was the best in the
flat, measuring eight feet by ten. Bob would have to go in with Uncle
Timothy and let Sally have his usual quarters, the couch in the
living-room. Sally's room must be hastily put in guest-room order--no
easy task, in a space where every inch counts because it must be made the
most of. She was thankful, for once, that she need expect none of her
family home to luncheon.

At noon, however, quite unexpectedly Bob ran in upon her, an errand from
the office where he worked having brought him within a stone's throw of
home. He liked to surprise Sally with two-minute visits, when he could do
so by making time over the rest of his course.

"Hello, what's up?" was his greeting, as he surveyed his sister standing
in the centre of an extraordinary confusion of furnishings which seemed
to him to extend over the entire flat.

Sally flung down her dust-cloth and sank into a chair, showing a flushed
face and disturbed eyes.

"Max telephoned that the Chases are coming to-night--Neil and Dorothy,
on their way somewhere. Isn't it horrible? What do you suppose they'll
think of things here?"

"Well, well--old Neil's coming to show us his chest expansion, is he? And
my Lady Dolly! Hum--well--I guess it will do'em good to see how some
people live. Mrs. Chase will bring four trunks and a lot of hand stuff,
will she? If she does, we'll move out and leave them the place."

"Mercy! They're only going to stay overnight--at least, I _think_ that's
all. The only thing that keeps me up is the thought that at this time
to-morrow they'll be gone! A hospitable hostess I am, Bob. But--Oh,
Bobby, my head aches so this morning I just can't rise to the occasion!"

"Your head aches? What's the reason for that?" Bob asked, in some dismay.
"You're not a headache sort of girl."

"No, and that's why it seems to take the pluck out of me so. It ached
yesterday, too. And I feel just heavy and stupid."

As she spoke, she turned and laid her head down on her arms on the back
of her chair. Bob darted across from the doorway and laid an awkwardly
sympathetic young hand on the flaxen masses of his sister's hair.

"It's a shame!" he said, warmly. "I wish I could stay and help you. But
I tell you what I'll do. I'll be up the minute I get out of the office.
Leave the heavy things for me to do. And don't try to house-clean the
whole flat just because of Mrs. Dorothy Chase. She isn't worth it."

He was as good as his word. Five o'clock in the afternoon saw him at home
again, helping Sally in every way he could think of. Bob was good help,
and she had seldom needed him more than to-day. She went about with
flushed cheeks, moving languidly, yet keeping steadily at work with the
determination of the young hostess who sees nothing else to do.

She had spent the afternoon in the kitchen; she spent the evening in all
those little final tasks which seem so small and yet in the aggregate do
weigh heavily, upon the eve of entertaining.

Work at the bank kept Max until he had barely time to go to the station
for his guests. Alec, coming home to dinner, and finding himself put off
with what he hungrily characterized as a mere "bite," on account of the
necessities of the occasion, went off again somewhere, declaring that he
did not see the occasion for starving the family just on account of
entertaining two already overfed visitors. Uncle Timothy, as was to be
expected, as soon as he heard of the emergency, joined Bob in coming to
Sally's aid, and at half past seven in the evening might have been
discovered by the curious, sitting in the small kitchen, a blue-checked
apron tied about his neck, busily polishing silver.

"It seemed to me pretty bright before, Sally," was his only comment as he
worked. "But I suppose no man could really comprehend the difference
between the degree of brightness suitable for one's family and that
demanded by company."

"If you had seen Dorothy Chase's wedding silver--" responded Sally, and
stopped there, as if words could no further go.

"Yes, yes, I suppose so." Uncle Timothy was rubbing away at a set of thin
old teaspoons which had belonged to Sally's grandmother. "Still, my dear,
it seems as if things taste better out of these old spoons than out of
those handsome new ones the boys gave you Christmas."

"Oh, I love the old things." Sally held a china sugar bowl with a gold
band round it up to the light as she wiped it. She had taken all the best
old china out of its hiding place under the couch, and was giving it a
hot-water bath, drying each article herself, not daring to trust the
frail pieces to Bob's hands. "But Dorothy hates old stuff, and wants
everything modern."

"I remember," said Uncle Timothy, mildly. "I was always too antique for
her to notice. I sha'n't be surprised if she stumbles over me to-night,
not noticing that I'm here."

"If she does," called Bob, from the depths of a closet which he was
sweeping out under Sally's direction, "she'll settle with me! She'll find
I've grown a few inches since she used to call me Sally's 'everlasting
little brother.'"

It was all done at last. Sally went to dress, wearily exhorting herself
to remember that her room was not her room to-night, and that she must
not forget and leave so much as a stray hair-pin on the freshly washed
and ironed linen of the little toilet-table.

She stowed away, under the couch on which she was to sleep, the clean
cambric house-dress she meant to put on the next morning, feeling that it
would not be at all surprising if she were unable to rise from that couch
to get breakfast, and wondering what Dorothy Chase could do about
breakfast if thrown upon her own resources. It was so unusual for Sally's
vigorous young frame to experience such exhaustion after even more severe
effort than that of the past day that she could only wonder what it
meant, and finally decided, after some speculation, that it was the
effect of these first warm days of spring, combined with the stress of
entertaining under difficulties.

"Well, here we are!" Max's voice could be heard in the hall outside,
ushering in his guests. "Go single file down this passage--you can't get
through side by side!"

Sally went hurriedly forward and met Dorothy Chase's smartly tailored
figure in the middle of the tiny passage.

"Goodness gracious!" Bob and Alec and Mr. Timothy Rudd heard a familiar
high-pitched voice exclaim. "You don't mean to tell us you live in this
mouse-hole! Actually, my hat hits on both sides!"

Then came Neil Chase's barytone drawl--how well Bob remembered hating the
sound of it with a profound hatred when it had been addressed
contemptuously to him! "Really, Dorothy--you know--I told you that brim
of yours was an inch and a half beyond the limit, and this proves it!"

But Sally's pretty head was held high. If she had a headache, its effect
was visible only in her brilliant cheeks.

"You always ran to extremes, Dorothy, dear. Why didn't you take that
absurd creation off in the vestibule? Neil, how are you? Have you your
best Chesterfieldian manner with you? Because you'd better leave it
outside; the apartment's not large enough for you and it, too!"

"The same impertinent child," declared Mrs. Chase, surveying her hostess
in the light of the living-room. "And here's smart Alec," as that youth
came forward, his smile of welcome undergoing a wry twist at this
somewhat unusual greeting. "And Bob--heavens, child, how you've grown!
And this is--oh, yes--Mr. Rudd!"

Her careless hand, in its travelling glove, met Uncle Timothy's grasp,
and left it as casually as her bright hazel eyes left the glance of his
faded blue ones. Bob, watching, grinned at Uncle Timothy meaningly, and
received in return the mild sparkle of amusement with which the "antique"
was accustomed to show himself invulnerable to neglect from young persons
of Dorothy Chase's stamp.

Neil's greetings of the family were also highly characteristic. One who
had never before seen him might have argued many things from the style of
his opening address:

"This is Alec, eh? Well, Alec, I see you're still the flower of the
family. Bob--how do you like sweeping out offices? Better than going to
school? And here's Uncle Thomas--beg pardon--Uncle Joshua. Not got it
right yet, Sally? Confound my memory--yes, yes--Uncle Timothy. How are
you, my dear sir?"

"I see," responded Mr. Rudd, suddenly grown quietly dignified, as he
surveyed this jocular young man whom he remembered as a youth whom he had
frequently longed to thrash, "that in spite of the pressure of years and
responsibility you happily retain your boyish characteristics."

Young Mr. Chase regarded Uncle Timothy for an instant without speaking.
Then he turned to Sally with a quite audible comment: "The old gentleman
hasn't changed much, has he? Keep him with you all the time?"

"We couldn't live without him," was Sally's quick reply. Uncle Timothy,
catching the answer, smiled to himself. It would take more than the
advent of these gay comets in his sky to disturb his content in the stars
which revolved loyally about him.

The two hours which followed were occupied in instructing the guests how
to bestow themselves in the unaccustomed limitations of the Lane
apartment without doing themselves physical injury. The Chases evidently
felt that the surest way to show their appreciation of the hospitality
offered them was to be uninterruptedly mirthful at its character.

"For goodness' sake, Sally," cried Mrs. Chase, with a little shriek,
"you're not going to put us both in here! Neil, don't you dare to come in
until I get out--there isn't room. Where shall I hang my coat? Oh, is
there a closet behind that curtain? Six hooks! Neil, you can't have but
one of them--I want the rest. Sally, how did you ever come to it, after
that great roomy old house of yours? I should suffocate in a week! It's
lucky we're going on to-morrow. I couldn't change my gowns in here."

"I thought you were an experienced traveller," retorted Sally, lightly
enough. She had known quite what to expect from Dorothy; it did not
disturb her seriously. "Good travellers can tuck themselves away
anywhere. Besides, this room is palatial in comparison with Uncle
Timothy's. There's not room for a dressing-table in his. You should be
thankful that you have one, and a mirror. The mirror's the one real
essential for Dorothy Eustis Chase. I made sure you had that."

"It's just like you not to own up that you're cramped." Dorothy was
taking full advantage of the mirror pointed out. Her elaborately waved
chestnut locks received her full attention for a space, and Sally slipped
away to the kitchen.

They sat down presently to something which was not a dinner, and proved
decidedly more than a lunch. The guests ate ravenously, but did not
forget to take note of their surroundings. Neil's back was too close to
the wall for Sally to squeeze by him when she rose to change the plates,
and this amused him very much. "Two more guests, and the room would
burst, wouldn't it?" he suggested, as he handed a plate at her request.
"I didn't know they ever made a flat as small as this"

"They make them much smaller," declared Max, with a sparkle of the eye.
"I assure you we have never felt crowded--until to-night."

"Oh, don't mind us!" Dorothy cried. "You see, we've just come from
visiting the Grandons, and their house is so enormous it makes everything
seem small. It was a day's journey across our room, and Neil's
dressing-room was as big as this whole flat. It's a lovely place to
visit, they do everything for you. They have so many servants, and such
well trained ones, you absolutely forget how to wait on yourself."

"How long were you there?" Alec inquired.

"Why, from Wednesday to--when did we leave there, Neil? Oh, yes, it must
have been yesterday morning."

"Three days? No wonder you became too used to such luxury to be able to
come down to waiting on yourselves." And Alec applied himself to his
plate with a sense of having evened things up with Mrs. Chase in return
for her "smart Alec."

It was Sally who kept matters running smoothly, her head throbbing all
the while. When the Chases had been finally tucked away--still
ironic--in their quarters, and the rest of the family had bestowed
themselves in the space belonging to them, she sat down by the open
window, too weary to undress. Here Bob, emerging from Uncle Timothy's
room in search of belongings necessary to his comfort, found her.

"Why don't you go to bed?" he asked.

"I'm going. But I'd like to sit here all night."

"You'll catch cold by that window. Head still ache?"

"I suppose so. I'm too tired to feel anything any more."

"Cheer up. I'll be around bright and early and do everything I know."

"Of course you will, Bobby," and she held out her hand. He grasped it.

"Your hand's hot," he observed. "Aren't sick, are you?"

"Of course not. I'm never sick. Go to bed, dear. I'll be all right in
the morning."

Optimistically, Bob thought she would. The next morning, however, the
Sally who confronted him looked so far from herself, as she went slowly
about the little kitchen, that he was worried, and said so.

"Never mind. Don't say anything. After breakfast I can rest."

"Can you brace up to get through breakfast?" demanded Bob, anxiously.
Sally assured him that she could, and proved it. Somehow, after the
manner of women, she came to the table with a smile so bright that nobody
noticed that she ate almost nothing, that her hand shook as she poured
the coffee, and that her long-lashed blue eyes were very heavy.

Immediately after breakfast the Chases were off--in a cab engaged by Max,
in deference to Sally's wishes. Neil and Dorothy took a jocose farewell,
the one declaring that their presence had stretched the apartment till it
could be seen to gape at the seams, the other vowing that Sally must come
to see her soon, in order to be able to take a full breath again. Then
the cab bore them away.

"Well, of all the--" Alec left the sentence unfinished.

Max completed it for him. "Nerve! If that's a sample of legal brilliancy
of wit, I'm sorry for the defendant who employs him," he grunted.

The Chases had arrived on Saturday night, and were continuing their
journey without reference to the fact that it was Sunday. Sally turned
back into the passage, remembering that on Sundays her family were to be
provided for in the matter of luncheon, and that they were in the habit
of looking forward to the extra good things she was accustomed to serve
them upon that day. She sank into a chair and stared at the
breakfast-table standing just as they had all left it.

"Don't you stir, Sis!" cried Bob, returning with the others. "Al and I'll
do the dishes." Then, as he saw an expression of disfavour cross his
brother's face at this unwelcome proposal, he added quickly, "She's sick,
Sally is, with all this, and it's time somebody noticed it."

They all looked at her. She tried to smile up at them, but the
unwilling tears came instead. "I'll be all right, if I can just lie
down a while," she said.

Then they rallied, in alarm. Not one of them but loved Sally as the
dearest thing in the world, however careless of her comfort one or
another of them might now and then seem to be.

Max put a brotherly arm round her. "Tired out, little girl?" he asked,
gently, and led her toward the couch in the living-room.

"All for those ungrateful duffers!" As he followed to put a pillow under
his sister's head Alec looked as if he would like to knock at least one
of the "duffers" down.

"She's had all she could do to keep up, for twenty-four hours!" cried
Bob, pulling a small knit rug over Sally's feet.

She managed to smile at them, choking back quite unwonted tears--Sally
was no baby, to cry at a touch of fatigue. She had known they would be
very good to her, once they understood.

It was Uncle Timothy who at once became practical. He drew up a chair
beside the couch and took Sally's wrist in his, counting carefully. Then
he laid his hand on her forehead, against her flushed cheeks. He bade her
put out her tongue, and surveying that tell-tale member through his
spectacles, came to his conclusions. These he did not inflict upon Sally,
who had closed her eyes, and lay like a tired child. Instead, he beckoned
Max into another room, and said, "She's sick, sure enough. Pulse jumping,
skin hot and dry--and too tired to move. Suppose you telephone Doctor
Wood to look in this morning."

Max lost no time. He went down stairs to telephone, that Sally-might not
hear, and in his suddenly roused anxiety made his message so urgent that
the doctor arrived within the hour. He was the family physician long
employed by the Lanes, and he had known Sally from her babyhood. It took
him but the space of a brief, yet thorough, examination to form his
opinion. He communicated it, under his breath, to Sally's "four men," who
had tiptoed anxiously out into the hall where he had beckoned them.

"It looks mighty like typhoid," he said--and they winced at the word.
"It's too soon to be certain, but there's more or less of it about. You
can't take care of her here, and she'll be far better off at the
hospital. I'll send a carriage and a nurse by twelve o'clock."

So do hours change outlooks. The last thing any one of the Lanes had
expected to be doing at noon on that peaceful spring Sunday was to be
standing in the vestibule of the Winona flats, watching the little sister
being conveyed away, in the care of a nurse. But so it was.

"Don't look so blue, dears," Sally had murmured, as she left them. "I'll
soon be back, you know."

"Heaven grant it!" ejaculated Uncle Timothy, in his heart. As for the
others, they filed silently up stairs again, and into the empty room. It
was full of all the things that had seemed to make it home--with Sally
there. But somehow it looked empty now.

Nobody said much of anything unless it became necessary, but before
bedtime four pregnant sentences had been uttered.

"That nurse looked as if she knew something," said Max, suddenly.

"There's not a man in the city equal to Wood," declared Alec.

"Seems as if she couldn't smile quite like that if she was going to be
awfully sick," was Bob's contribution to the sum total of hopefulness.

But it was Uncle Timothy, as usual, who hit the nail on the head. "Boys,"
said he, "we can do our part--on our knees."

And, to a man, they nodded. Suddenly, they could not speak.



"I'm sure that's as good a report as we could hope for," urged Josephine
Burnside. But the anxiety in her eyes somewhat qualified her

Maxwell Lane shook his head doubtfully.

"'Holding her own'--that's all they've said the last three days," he

"Yes, but that's a good deal at this stage. It's the end of the
second week."

"She's out of her head."

"They usually are, I think."

The pair emerged from the door of the hospital.

"Well, I'm glad I met you here," said Max. "It's kind of you to come
so often."

"It's not kind at all. I couldn't stay away. And if I could, Jarvis
wouldn't let me. No telephone messages will satisfy him."

"Good old fellow. How are his eyes?"

"Worse than ever. Mother and I take turns reading to him, while he tramps
the floor. We should try to get him off somewhere into the country, but
he won't leave until Sally is out of the hospital. And I've no idea he
will leave then, he'll be so anxious to do things for her."

"Good old chap," murmured Max again, absently. He was looking at
Josephine as if an idea had struck him. "Are you going to do anything in
particular the rest of the afternoon?"

"I don't know that I am. Why?"

"Don't you want to invite me to drive out into the country in your trap?
The roads are pretty good now, and I ought to go out and take a look at
the farm. Besides, I'm too restless to keep still. Saturday afternoons
and Sundays are tough to get through with, just now."

"I shall be delighted. Come home with me, and we'll start right away. I
should like to see the place again, too."

Fifteen minutes by trolley-car, and ten to allow for the ordering of the
trap, and the two young people were driving away. Josephine held the
reins over the back of a fine gray mare that seemed glad to get out of
the stable on this sunny May afternoon. The roads were even better than
Max had predicted, and the seven-mile drive was soon over.

"There are the pines." Josephine pointed with her whip. "How far away
they show, against the lighter foliage. I'm fond of pines--they make me
think of the mountains. You're lucky to have that grove. If you ever live
here, it will be a lovely spot for hot summer afternoons."

"We'll never live here, if I can help it," answered Max. "As for the pine
grove, the best thing to do with that is to cut it down and get the money
out of it."

"Max!" exclaimed Josephine. "Don't do that without the permission of
every member of your family and most of your friends. What's the money?"

"The money's a good deal to me. This illness of Sally's--"

"Sell the books, if you must, but not the trees. Of course you ought to
keep both, but don't--_don't_ cut down those trees!"

"You're as bad as Sally about this old place. Hello, there's some one in
the grove now! What's he doing? Standing on his head?"

For a leg could be descried waving in the air, while its owner apparently
lay partly on his back, his shoulders against a tree trunk. As the trap
came nearer, the man could be seen distinctly; he was reading, with one
leg balancing across the knee of the other.

"Seems to have taken possession of my grounds. I suppose he also would
object if I offered to cut down the grove. Is he going to see us? No--too
absorbed in his yellow novel."

"He sees us. But we're nothing to him. He's turned back to his page.
Shall we drive in? Are you going to get out?"

"Yes, of course, if only to show that chap I'm the owner of his
lounging place."

Josephine turned in, and the trap swung through the gateway and on past
the pine grove. Max saw the reader get to his feet.

"Coming to apologize," murmured Max. "Well, if he asks permission, he can
stay--till I cut down the grove."

Before the horse had been tied, the stranger was at hand. "Since I'm
caught in the act, I'll come and ask if I may," he said, genially. "This
is Mr. Lane, I believe. I'm Donald Ferry, a neighbour of yours. Your fine
grove is a sort of 'call of the wild' to me."

Max shook hands, attracted at once by both voice and face. Donald Ferry
was a sturdy young man, with broad shoulders and a thick thatch of
reddish-brown hair; he possessed a pair of searching but friendly hazel
eyes. He was dressed in a rough suit of blue serge, and a gray flannel
shirt with a rolling collar and flowing blue tie gave him an out-door
air confirmed by the tan and freckles on his face and the sinewy grip of
his brown hand. He had closed his book and tucked it under his arm, so
that its title could not be observed, but it had not exactly the look of
a "yellow novel."

"You're entirely welcome to make use of the grove as much as you like,"
Max answered, with the cordiality he could not help feeling toward the
possessor of so frank and genial a look as that with which the strange
young man continued to regard him.

"I live with my mother in the little house on the other side of the
grove," explained Mr. Ferry. "We've been living there for a fortnight,
but this is the first time I've caught sight of anybody about the place.
It seemed so completely deserted I've been proposing to my mother that we
appropriate the house. But she seems a trifle appalled by the size of it.
On the whole, for us, ours is rather the better fit."

"This house is too big to fit anything but an orphan asylum," said Max,
with a wave toward the brick walls now heavily vine-clad with the tender
green leafage of May. "It's in bad shape, from chimneys to cellar. Just
the same, I've a sister who is wild to live here."

"Yet you are the one who comes out to look over the place? Perhaps you
have a sort of sneaking fondness for it, after all!"

"My sister would come if she could. She's in the hospital with typhoid,"
explained Max, wondering, as he did so, how he came to be giving details
like these in his first conversation with a stranger. He really liked the
look of the fellow extraordinarily well.

"This will be a great place for her to grow strong in, by and by,"
suggested the other, his tone indicating his sympathy with the situation.
"The pine grove, in June, will be better than a sanatorium."

Max shook his head. "It's not practical for us to think of living here.
Of course we can bring her out for a day at a time."

"You might put up a tent in the grove. Nothing like out-doors for
convalescents--and for well people. Well, Mr. Lane, thank you immensely
for letting me feel free of the grove--until you come to live. I am
fairly sure you will come to live here some day. It's an irresistible
old place."

He took his leave with a pleasant grace of manner which, in spite of the
rough old suit and flannel shirt, spoke of training in other places than
pine groves.

When he had gone off among the pines toward the hedge, which lay between
the grove and the little white cottage on the side toward Wybury, Max
rejoined Josephine. "He looked a pretty good sort, didn't he? If anybody
did live here, he'd be an interesting neighbour. I hardly knew there was
a house there, did you?"

"Oh, yes, I saw it as we came by. It had been freshly painted white, and
I noticed how pleasant it looked. It's a tiny house. Unless his mother is
smaller than he is, it certainly must be a tight fit."

"She's probably about the size of a pint pot. Mothers of strapping
fellows like that usually are."

"He wasn't any taller than you."

"Wasn't he? I thought he was a giant. He'd outweigh me by fifty pounds."

Josephine glanced at him. It struck her that Max, never of stalwart
build, looked paler and thinner than usual. There was a slight stoop in
his shoulders. She recalled the straight set of those belonging to the
strange young man.

"Max," she asked, quite suddenly, "how much light do you have in
your office?"

"Floods of it," replied Max, promptly. "I have to wear a shade


"Bless your soul, no! What do you think a ground-floor banking house
gets, between a lot of ten-story buildings? Electrics, of course, are the
only things possible."

"Then you don't have the daylight at all?"

"I have plenty of light to work by."

"I think it's dreadful!" cried Josephine. She had never thought of it
before, or considered Max's pale skin as the direct result of spending
his days under such conditions. "If you could see the difference between
your face and Mr. Ferry's--"

Max stared at her. "That red-headed, freckle-faced chap seems to have
made a great impression on you," he complained. "He probably has an
out-door job of some sort--his clothes showed it. Engineering, more than
likely. That was undoubtedly a book on dynamics or hydraulics, or
something of that sort. You can't expect a bank clerk to have a skin like
an Indian's--under electric light. Come on, shall we walk back to the
timber tract? That's what I want to look at. I suppose you won't object
to my cutting there? There must be a lot of stuff fit to sell, and, as I
told you, I need the money. When Sally gets out of the hospital, it will
be a long time before she's fit to work. Uncle Tim says typhoid
convalescents are pretty slow at getting back to the working stage. We'll
have to keep on hiring that Mary Ann Flinders. She polishes the stove
with the napkins, I think--they look it."

"Goodness! How poor Sally would feel if she knew!"

"She does know. I told her the last time I saw her--before she got these
funny notions in her head. To-day she thought I was an Episcopal bishop
come to marry her to the doctor--they got me out right away."

"Max! You must not tell Sally disturbing things about home. She will be
anxious enough when she's herself, without hearing about napkins and
things from you."

"I suppose so. But I've been so blue ever since she went I couldn't
keep in."

"Then keep out."

Max looked at her. Josephine's dark cheeks were pink, partly with
indignation, partly with the brisk progress over the slightly rising
grade of the cartpath through the fields toward the timber tract.

"Well, you _are_ sort of down on your friends to-day, aren't you? I'm an
idiot to think of cutting down the pine grove. I'm a milksop compared
with a red-headed Indian you never saw before. Now I'm a blunderbuss for
answering a simple question asked me by my sister. What do you think I
am, anyhow? Fit to cumber the earth?"

Josephine returned his gaze. She seemed not in the least awed by this
burst of wrath. She replied with spirit, not unmixed with good humour:

"I think you're peppery--as usual. Hasn't an old friend like me a right
to try to keep things straight? You ought to know better than to say one
word to Sally that will give her a minute's anxiety. Goodness knows
she's had enough of it, keeping house for you four people for three
whole years."

"Haven't we been taking care of her all that time?" demanded Max, with
rising colour of his own. "Haven't we all been working our heads off to
pay expenses, and giving her every cent we could get to run things with?"

"Of course you have. It's what you ought to do, but I certainly give you
credit for doing it. Only I don't think you've fully appreciated Sally's
part. She's worked harder than any of you."

"Has she told you so?" Max was looking straight in front of him, and his
eyes were angry.

"Never! You know she hasn't. She's not that kind of girl. But I'm another
girl, and I can see for myself. Sally's worked hard to make that
apartment seem like home. No matter how blue she felt herself, she's
never acted blue before you--now has she?"

"I can't say that she has. She's a light-hearted girl--always was, and--"

"Don't you think it. Sally's been putting on a brave face and letting
everybody suppose she's cheerful. She's kept you all up when she was
bluer than you are now."

Max stopped short, stood still in the cart-path and looked Josephine in
the eye. She stopped also, and faced him coolly.

"Will you tell me how you know all this?" he inquired, fiercely.

"I've put two and two together, and found they make four," replied
Josephine. "See here, Max "--she spoke more gently, but quite as
decidedly as before--"you mustn't think I'm trying to be disagreeable,
now, of all times. Of course I know you boys all love Sally as devotedly
as brothers can, and do a great deal to show it. But when it comes to
sparing her anxiety and letting her have her way about things she has set
her heart on, I don't think you're always quite as considerate as you
might be. I didn't dream of saying all this to-day. But when you began to
talk about cutting down that pine grove, though you knew what a fancy
Sally took to it, it came over me that you would be just as likely as
anything to do it right now, while Sally is sick--and I just couldn't
help speaking out."

The two walked on in silence for some distance. Then Max spoke, gloomily:

"It's all right enough to consider sentiment, and I know you well enough
to understand what you mean by pitching into me this way. But the craze
Sally's been in over this old place seems to me a thing out of all
reason. What are we, a family of bank clerks and office boys, to shoulder
a proposition like this? We can't think of moving out here and living in
that barracks, and trying to make a living off the soil. Neither can we
put a tenant on here, and fit him out with farm tools, and take the
responsibility and the risk of his running the place. He'd undoubtedly
run us into the ground the first year. I've thought it over and thought
it over, and the only course seems to me to be to find a buyer for the
place. Money isn't easy just now, and I've no doubt we'd have a hard time
to get a decent price. Meanwhile it seems to me only common sense to get
what income we can out of it. If I could sell that big pine grove, and
cut off what timber is ready for the axe up here, it would bring us
something quite substantial."

Now this certainly was a presentation of the case which called for a
considerate listening. But, quite as if she had not heard a word of his
argument, Josephine cried out:

"Max, why not do what Mr. Ferry proposed, if you think the house can't be
lived in? Put up a tent in the grove and bring Sally there as soon as
she's fit for it. She'd get strong twice as fast as in that stuffy flat!"

Max gazed at her. "That's just what you get," he ejaculated, "when you
try to talk business with a girl. Show her a good and sufficient reason
why you can't do a thing, and she instantly asks why you can't do
something ten times harder. Will you tell me how, with Sally out here in
a tent, we fellows are going to get along in the flat? And what would she
do out here, all by herself?"

It was now Josephine's turn to gaze with scorn at her companion. "Do you
think I'm proposing for Sally to camp by herself out here, while Mary Ann
Flinders keeps house for you in town? No; bring Mary Ann out here to cook
for Sally, and you boys come out for the nights. If you had a bit of camp
spirit, you'd jump at the chance to get a real outing right along with
your work."

"Camp," exclaimed Max, "in your own front yard!"

"The pine grove isn't your front yard, and the farther end of it is so
far away from the road, nobody could tell who was who, back there.
Besides, what difference, if Sally gets strong again as fast as out-door
life can make her?"

"It's not practical," Max continued to object, and Josephine realized
afresh that the Lane temperament was not one easily swayed by argument or
appeal. There was a stubborn streak in Max which was as hard to deal with
now as it had been in the days when Josephine had fought it out with him
in playground affairs. Yet she did not lose hope. She had known Max to
come round, if left to himself, convinced in the end by logic derived
from his own consideration of the case. If he could once see a course as
fair and right he would accept it. Clearly, he did not yet see this thing
in any such light, and it was of no use to persist in heated argument
which would only result in prejudicing him yet further against the plan
which seemed to Josephine so wise a one.

The two walked through the timber tract, Max pointing out trees which he
thought could be sacrificed with a real gain to the timber to be left
standing. Josephine listened and agreed, finding genuine interest in the
long vistas of oak and chestnut pillars stretching away to what seemed an
infinite distance, for dense undergrowth at the back of the wood
prevented the appearance of an outlet anywhere.

As they drove away, they noted with new interest the small white cottage
on the farther side of the dividing hedge.

"There's your friend Ferry," observed Max, as they flew by at the gray
mare's smartest pace, "working away in a strawberry patch as if his life
depended on it. That's where he gets his beautiful Indian complexion you
admire so much, when he isn't doing engineering stunts. Probably he's
home just now between jobs, fixing up his mother in her new place. Well,
we can't all grow strawberries and lie round on our backs reading
hydraulics. Some of us have to do the in-door jobs. Of course those are
useless--mere folly. All the really sensible chaps are looking after the
colour of their skins!"



"Hello, Jarve! This you?"

Over the telephone Jarvis Burnside recognized Max Lane's voice, eager and
cheerful. The last time he had heard it, it had been so despondent that
his own anxiety had been heavily increased. He answered eagerly:

"Yes. What is it?"

"There's a break in her temperature."

"A break! You mean--"

"A drop--a landslide--during the last twelve hours. She's sleeping
quietly. She's--"

But something suddenly interfered with the speaker's articulation.
Although Jarvis continued to listen with strained attention, a silence
succeeded. His imagination filled the gap. He essayed to offer
congratulations, but found something the matter with his own powers of
speech. After a moment's struggle, however, he was able to say, "I'll be
round as quick as I can get there."

Mrs. Burnside, passing the telephone closet at the back of the hall,
heard a rush therefrom, and found herself suddenly embraced by a pair of
long arms. Although blue goggles concealed her son's eyes from her look
of sympathetic inquiry, the smile which transformed his face was not to
be mistaken.

"Jarvis, dear--you've had good news!"

"Max couldn't say much, but his voice told. The fever's down--she's

"Oh, I am glad--so glad! The dear child! I couldn't sleep last night,
after the discouraging news."

Her son did not say that he had not slept, but he looked it. His finely
cut features showed plainly that for more than one night he had been
suffering severe and increasing strain.

"We must tell Josephine," said his mother happily, proceeding on her way
with Jarvis's arm about her shoulders.

"You look her up, please. I'm going to bolt down to see Max and the
rest. Uncle Timothy was about all in last night when I met him. These
last five days--"

Jarvis released his mother, seized his hat from a tree they were passing,
and escaped out of a side door. Mrs. Burnside hurried away upstairs to
find her daughter. If the Burnside family had been bound to the Lanes by
ties of blood, each member of it could hardly have been more intimately
concerned with the issue of Sally's illness.

Away down town, at the Winona flats, Jarvis's ring brought an instant
response, and a minute later Bob was shaking his hand off at the half-way
landing. Then Alec was rushing to the top of the stairs, and Max was
shouting from the bath-room, where he was shaving. Uncle Timothy alone
remained quiet in his chair, but his worn face was bright.

"It's great news, Mr. Rudd, great news!" cried Jarvis, wringing Uncle
Timothy's out-stretched hand of welcome.

"Yes, Jarvis--yes. But--I must warn you all to make haste slowly in the
matter of assurance. It looks favourable, certainly, but the child has
been through a hard fight, and she is not out of danger yet. You know I
don't want to dampen your happiness, boys--" and Uncle Timothy looked
tenderly from one face to another, out of the wisdom of his greater

Their faces had sobered. "I understand, sir, of course," Jarvis
agreed. "But the drop in the fever and the quiet sleep surely mean a
promising change?"

"Very promising--no doubt of it. And we are thankful--thankful. It is a
wonderful relief after the reports we have been getting." He took off
his spectacles and wiped them. Then he wiped his eyes. "With care, now--"
he began again, cheerfully.

But Bob could not help interrupting. "She's getting splendid care," he
cried. He could not endure the thought that it was still necessary to
exercise caution lest they rejoice prematurely. He had taken the leap
from boyish despair to boyish confidence at a bound, and he had no mind
to drop back to a half-way point of doubt and depression.

"I suppose we ought to wait a few days before we run up any flags," Max
admitted, and the others reluctantly agreed.

During the following week they learned the reasons for respecting Mr.
Rudd's advice. Though Sally's bark had certainly rounded the most
threatening danger point, there yet remained seas by no means smooth to
be traversed, and more than once wind and waves rose again sufficiently
to cause a return of anxiety to those who watched but could not go to the
rescue. But, in due time, recovery became assured, convalescence was
established, and finally the great day was at hand, when she should come
home from the hospital. She looked still very pale and weak, as they saw
her lying in her high white bed in the long ward--how they had mourned
that they could not afford to give her a private room!--But she was Sally
herself once more, and looking so eagerly forward to being at home again
that it was a joy to see her smile at the thought of it.

"I wish it were not so excessively hot," said Uncle Timothy, regretfully.

He stood in the doorway of Sally's room. It had been put in order by Mary
Ann Flinders--or, to be more exact, Mary Ann Flinders had attempted to
put it in order for Sally's reception the next day.

Max looked in over his uncle's shoulder. "I don't know that it's any
hotter in here than anywhere else!" he demurred, irritably. He was in his
shirt-sleeves, and he had that moment removed his collar and neck-tie.
Uncle Timothy had got as far as taking off his waistcoat and donning an
old alpaca coat, in which he had been striving to imagine himself

"I think it must be several degrees warmer in this small room than in the
dining-room," asserted Uncle Timothy. "And it is ninety-two there. It is
unfortunate that the poor child should have to come back to such an oven
as this. At the hospital a breeze circulates through the wards. Here
there seems to be none."

"She could sleep on the couch in the living-room." suggested Max.
"_Whew!_ It _is_ hot! What possesses the weather to start in like this,
before June's half over? I believe it was one hundred and twelve in the
office to-day."

He threw himself on the couch. After a moment of reclining upon it,
during which he mopped his brow and drew his handkerchief about his neck,
he rose and jerked the couch toward one of the two open windows. When he
had lain in this new situation for the space of two minutes more, he got
up again and sought the tiny kitchen, where he could be heard drawing
water from the tap. "Ugh--warm as dish water!" Uncle Timothy could hear
his distant splutter.

Bob and Alec were out somewhere--presumably cooling off in one of the
city parks or on the river front. Also, they were getting impatiently
through the hours before Sally's return. The entire Lane household had
reached the point where her coming home seemed a thing never to be
attained. To a man, they felt that one week more without her would be

But the next day--it was Sunday again--she came home. Josephine and Max,
with the Burnside carriage and horses, brought her to the door. Max and
Alec, making a "chair" of hands and wrists, carried the pitifully light
figure up the four flights of stairs, and Josephine hovered over the
convalescent as she was established upon the couch, among many pillows.
The rest of them stood about in a smiling circle.

"Oh, but it's good to be home!" sighed Sally, happily, looking from one
to another with eyes which seemed to them all as big as saucers, so deep
were the hollows about them and so thin her cheeks. "But how pale and
tired you all look! What in the world is the matter with you?"

"The truth is, I think, dear," explained Josephine, glancing from Max to
Uncle Timothy, "your family have been having typhoid." Then, at Sally's
startled expression, she added, gently, "It's almost as wearing, you
know, to have a fever of anxiety over somebody you love as to have the
real thing in the hospital."

"Oh!" exclaimed Sally, softly, and her eyes fell. Then she drooped
limply against her pillows. "It's--just a little hot to-day, isn't it?"
she murmured.

Alec consulted the thermometer. "It's ninety here now," he announced. "At
ten o'clock in the morning! About three this afternoon, Sally, you'll
see what we can do here. And no let-up promised by the weather man."

Bob brought a palm-leaf fan, and perching himself at the head of Sally's
couch, began to fan her. "I'll produce 'breezes from the north and
east,'" he promised. "Al, why don't you get her some ice-water? We began
to take ice yesterday."

"Only yesterday?" questioned Sally, with her eyes closed. But she forbore
to ask why they had delayed so long. Well she knew that illnesses are
expensive affairs.

"If you only had let us take you to our house!" cried Josephine, for the
tenth time since she had first proposed that plan. "We could have made
you so much more comfortable."

Sally opened her eyes again. "No, you couldn't, Joey," she said,
"unless you had taken all the rest of them. I couldn't spare my family
another day!"

"May we come in?"

It was Jarvis Burnside, bringing his mother to see Sally. Neither of them
had yet set eyes upon her since her illness. Sally had been at home for
two days now, two intemperately hot days. During this entire period she
had lain on the couch, which was drawn as close to the window as it
could be placed. Uncle Timothy had remained at hand with fans and iced
lemonade and every other expedient he could think of for mitigating the
perfervid temperature of the flat. Just now, at five o'clock in the
afternoon, with no breeze whatever entering at the window, the small
living-room was at its worst.

"Oh, I'm so glad to see you!" Sally held out a languid hand, but her face
lighted up with pleasure.

While his mother bent over Sally, Jarvis pushed up his goggles, then
pulled them off. The room was shaded, but even so, the daylight made him
blink painfully for a minute. But by the time he got his chance at
greeting the invalid, he was able to see clearly for himself just how
Sally was looking. He stared hard at her, noting with a contraction of
the heart all the evidences of the fight for life she had been through.
There was no doubt about it, it was as Josephine had said: she looked as
if a breath might blow her away.

"I look like a little boy now, don't I?" suggested Sally, smiling up at
him as his hand closed over hers. She put up her other hand to her head,
where the heavy masses of fair hair had given way to a short, curly crop
most childish in its clustering framing of her now delicate face. "It's
a blow to my vanity, but it's growing fast, and by the time I can hold my
head up good and strong, like a six-months-old baby, it will be long
enough to tie with a bow at my neck."

"You can't hold your head up yet?" questioned Jarvis anxiously.

"Oh, yes, I can," declared Sally, cheerfully. "I just don't seem to want
to--not when there's a convenient pillow to lay it on. But I shall get
strong pretty soon now. When the weather changes--why, even to-day, if I
were lying down on the bank of a brook somewhere, or in the woods--or
almost anywhere out-doors--I believe I'd feel quite a lot stiffer in my

"And still you won't come to us and let us make you comfortable?" Mrs.
Burnside looked as if she would enjoy doing it.

But Sally looked over at Uncle Timothy, and her shake of the head was
as decided as ever. "Not while Uncle Timmy and the boys stay here. Have
you seen Max and Alec lately, Mrs. Burnside? I don't believe I'm a bit
paler than they are, working in those hot offices in the artificial
light. I shall grow strong fast enough--the nurse told me people always
feel like this after typhoid. And when I do get strong I shall be a
Trojan--just wait."

"We don't like to wait," said Jarvis, still watching Sally, although his
eyes were feeling the adverse influences of the white daylight which beat
into the room underneath the shades. He put up his hand for an instant to
shield them, and Sally was quick to notice.

"I thought you were wearing goggles, Jarvis," she said. Mrs. Burnside
turned with a reproachful expression, and with a laugh Jarvis drew the
goggles out of his pocket and replaced them.

"A fellow gets tired of viewing life through these things," he explained.
"And I've been seeing you in imagination through blue spectacles, so to
speak, for five weeks now. I thought I'd like a glimpse of your true

Sally put up two thin hands and pinched her cheeks fiercely. "I believe I
must resemble a tallow candle," she complained. "What can you people
expect of a patient just out of the hospital?"

"We'd like to get you where nature would attend to putting on the
rouge--eh, mother?" and Jarvis thought of his friend Max with a strong
desire to take that refractory young man by the collar and argue with him
with his fists. If it had not been for Max's stubbornness, Sally would
not now be suffering the discomfort of this unspeakable apartment.

When he and his mother had reached the outer air again and were driving
away, Jarvis burst out: "Something must be done! If Sally won't let you
and Jo have her--and that wouldn't be getting her out of the city, only
into a more bearable in-door atmosphere--she must be taken into the
country. Jo's plan is perfectly feasible. A tent in that pine grove would
do the business. Mother, I'm going to put one there. If Max doesn't like
it, he can stay away."

"Jarvis, dear, how can you do that? Max would resent that high-handed way
of managing his affairs."

"I dare say he would. What of that? If ever a frail child needed to get
out-doors, Sally does. Aren't we old friends enough to take things into
our own hands?"

"Max won't accept a tent from you--or Sally, either."

"Won't they? They won't have to. It'll be my tent; I'll lend it to them."
Jarvis grinned, his white teeth making a striking contrast to the sombre
effect of his big goggles.

"Hold on, Cheney," he said to the coachman. "Let me out at the corner of
Seventeenth. I will look up the tent business right here and now."

His mother looked after his tall figure as he hurried away through the
down town crowds, his straw hat a little pushed back, as it was wont
to be in moments of excitement. She herself felt like heartily aiding
and abetting his friendly schemes, for Sally was very dear to her
motherly heart, and it had seemed to her impossible that the girl
should recover her strength while shut up in the little flat. If the
heat lasted--and there were no indications of any near break in the
high temperature--it would certainly be a severe test on the young
convalescent, and might seriously retard her in the important business
of getting back her old vigour.

Within an hour Jarvis was at home again, in time for dinner. He came to
the table with a catalogue in his hand. Determination was written large
upon his face. Josephine had heard from her mother of his expressed
intention, and she eyed the catalogue eagerly.

"Are you really going to do it, Jarve?" she cried.

"Of course I'm going to do it--with your help."

"Help! I'll do any thing. Have you told Max?"

"I'll tell him nothing till the tent's up--and furnished. Here, look at
this list, and advise me as to size. Would an eighteen by twenty-four
wall-tent--of the heaviest duck--be about right?"

"Eighteen by twenty-four! Why, that's--how big would that be?"

"About the size of this dining-room. I could get an eighteen by

Josephine interrupted him with a burst of delighted laughter.

Book of the day: