Part 2 out of 19
on Susan with his affection in his eyes. "Well, Brownie, it
looks like chess with your old uncle, doesn't it?"
Susan's bosom was swelling, her lip trembling. "I--I----" she
began. She choked back the sobs, faltered out: "I don't think I
could, Uncle," and rushed from the room.
There was an uncomfortable pause. Then Warham said, "I must say,
Fan, I think--if you had to do it--you might have spared the
Mrs. Warham felt miserable about it also. "Susie took me by
surprise," she apologized. Then, defiantly, "And what else can
I do? You know he doesn't come for any good."
Warham stared in amazement. "Now, what does _that_ mean?" he demanded.
"You know very well what it means," retorted his wife.
Her tone made him understand. He reddened, and with too
blustering anger brought his fist down on the table.
"Susan's our daughter. She's Ruth's sister."
Ruth pushed back her chair and stood up. Her expression made her
look much older than she was. "I wish you could induce the rest
of the town to think that, papa," said she. "It'd make my
position less painful." And she, too, left the room.
"What's she talking about?" asked Warham.
"It's true, George," replied Fanny with trembling lip. "It's all
my fault--insisting on keeping her. I might have known!"
"I think you and Ruth must be crazy. I've seen no sign."
"Have you seen any of the boys calling on Susan since she shot
up from a child to a girl? Haven't you noticed she isn't invited
any more except when it can't be avoided?"
Warham's face was fiery with rage. He looked helplessly,
furiously about. But he said nothing. To fight public sentiment
would be like trying to thrust back with one's fists an oncreeping
fog. Finally he cried, "It's too outrageous to talk about."
"If I only knew what to do!" moaned Fanny.
A long silence, while Warham was grasping the fullness of the
meaning, the frightful meaning, in these revelations so
astounding to him. At last he said:
"Does _she_ realize?"
"I guess so . . . I don't know . . . I don't believe she does.
She's the most innocent child that ever grew up."
"If I had a chance, I'd sell out and move away."
"Where?" said his wife. "Where would people accept--her?"
Warham became suddenly angry again. "I don't believe it!" he
cried, his look and tone contradicting his words. "You've been
making a mountain out of a molehill."
And he strode from the room, flung on his hat and went for a
walk. As Mrs. Warham came from the dining-room a few minutes
later, Ruth appeared in the side veranda doorway. "I think I'll
telephone Arthur to come tomorrow evening instead," said she.
"He'd not like it, with Sam here too."
"That would be better," assented her mother. "Yes, I'd telephone
him if I were you."
Thus it came about that Susan, descending the stairs to the
library to get a book, heard Ruth say into the telephone in her
sweetest voice, "Yes--tomorrow evening, Arthur. Some others are
coming--the Wrights. You'd have to talk to Lottie . . . I don't
blame you. . . . Tomorrow evening, then. So sorry. Good-by."
The girl on the stairway stopped short, shrank against the wall.
A moment, and she hastily reascended, entered her room, closed
the door. Love had awakened the woman; and the woman was not so
unsuspecting, so easily deceived as the child had been. She
understood what her cousin and her aunt were about; they were
trying to take her lover from her! She understood her aunt's
looks and tones, her cousin's temper and hysteria. She sat down
upon the floor and cried with a breaking heart. The injustice of
it! The meanness of it! The wickedness of a world where even her
sweet cousin, even her loving aunt were wicked! She sat there on
the floor a long time, abandoned to the misery of a first
shattered illusion, a misery the more cruel because never before
had either cousin or aunt said or done anything to cause her
real pain. The sound of voices coming through the open window
from below made her start up and go out on the balcony. She
leaned over the rail. She could not see the veranda for the
masses of creeper, but the voices were now quite plain in the
stillness. Ruth's voice gay and incessant. Presently a man's
voice _his_--and laughing! Then his voice speaking--then the two
voices mingled--both talking at once, so eager were they! Her
lover--and Ruth was stealing him from her! Oh, the baseness, the
treachery! And her aunt was helping!. . . Sore of heart,
utterly forlorn, she sat in the balcony hammock, aching with
love and jealousy. Every now and then she ran in and looked at
the clock. He was staying on and on, though he must have learned
she was not coming down. She heard her uncle and aunt come up to
bed. Now the piano in the parlor was going. First it was Ruth
singing one of her pretty love songs in that clear small voice
of hers. Then Sam played and sang--how his voice thrilled her!
Again it was Ruthie singing--"Sweet Dream Faces"--Susan began to
sob afresh. She could see Ruth at the piano, how beautiful she
looked--and that song--it would be impossible for him not to be
impressed. She felt the jealousy of despair. . . . Ten
o'clock--half-past--eleven o'clock! She heard them at the edge of
the veranda--so, at last he was going. She was able to hear
their words now:
"You'll be up for the tennis in the morning?" he was saying.
"At ten," replied Ruth.
"Of course Susie's asked, too," he said--and his voice sounded
careless, not at all earnest.
"Certainly," was her cousin's reply. "But I'm not sure she can come."
It was all the girl at the balcony rail could do to refrain from
crying out a protest. But Sam was saying to Ruth:
"Well--good night. Haven't had so much fun in a long time. May
I come again?"
"If you don't, I'll think you were bored."
"Bored!" He laughed. "That's too ridiculous. See you in the
morning. Good night. . . . Give my love to Susie, and tell her
I was sorry not to see her."
Susan was all in a glow as her cousin answered, "I'll tell her."
doubtless Sam didn't note it, but Susan heard the constraint,
the hypocrisy in that sweet voice.
She watched him stroll down to the gate under the arch of boughs
dimly lit by the moon. She stretched her arms passionately
toward him. Then she went in to go to bed. But at the sound of
Ruth humming gayly in the next room, she realized that she could
not sleep with her heart full of evil thoughts. She must have it
out with her cousin. She knocked on the still bolted door.
"What is it?" asked Ruth coldly.
"Let me in," answered Susan. "I've got to see you."
"Go to bed, Susie. It's late."
"You must let me in."
The bolt shot back. "All right. And please unhook my
dress--there's a dear."
Susan opened the door, stood on the threshold, all her dark
passion in her face. "Ruth!" she cried.
Ruth had turned her back, in readiness for the service the need
of which had alone caused her to unbolt the door. At that swift,
fierce ejaculation she started, wheeled round. At sight of that
wild anger she paled. "Why, Susie!" she gasped.
"I've found you out!" raged Susan. "You're trying to steal him
from me--you and Aunt Fanny. It isn't fair! I'll not stand it!"
"What _are_ you talking about?" cried Ruth. "You must have lost
"I'll not stand it," Susan repeated, advancing threateningly "He
loves me and I love him."
Ruth laughed. "You foolish girl! Why, he cares nothing about you.
The idea of your having your head turned by a little politeness!"
"He loves me he told me so. And I love him. I told him so. He's
mine! You shan't take him from me!"
"He told you he loved you?"
Ruth's eyes were gleaming and her voice was shrill with hate.
"He told you _that_?"
"I don't believe you."
"We love each other," cried the dark girl. "He came to see _me_.
You've got Arthur Sinclair. You shan't take him away!"
The two girls, shaking with fury, were facing each other, were
looking into each other's eyes. "If Sam Wright told you he loved
you," said Ruth, with the icy deliberateness of a cold-hearted
anger, "he was trying to--to make a fool of you. You ought to be
ashamed of yourself. _We_'re trying to save you."
"He and I are engaged!" declared Susan. "You shan't take
him--and you can't! He _loves_ me!"
"Engaged!" jeered Ruth. "Engaged!" she laughed, pretending not
to believe, yet believing. She was beside herself with jealous
anger. "Yes--we'll save you from yourself. You're like your
mother. You'd disgrace us--as she did."
"Don't you dare talk that way, Ruth Warham. It's false--_false_!
My mother is dead--and you're a wicked girl."
"It's time you knew the truth," said Ruth softly. Her eyes were
half shut now and sparkling devilishly. "You haven't got any
name. You haven't got any father. And no man of any position
would marry you. As for Sam----" She laughed contemptuously. "Do
you suppose Sam Wright would marry a girl without a name?"
Susan had shrunk against the door jamb. She understood only
dimly, but things understood dimly are worse than things that are
clear. "Me?" she muttered. "Me? Oh, Ruth, you don't mean that."
"It's true," said Ruth, calmly. "And the sooner you realize it
the less likely you are to go the way your mother did."
Susan stood as if petrified.
"If Sam Wright comes hanging round you any more, you'll know how
to treat him," Ruth went on. "You'll appreciate that he hasn't
any respect for you--that he thinks you're someone to be trifled
with. And if he talked engagement, it was only a pretense. Do
The girl leaning in the doorway gazed into vacancy. After a
while she answered dully, "I guess so."
Ruth began to fuss with the things on her bureau. Susan went
into her room, sat on the edge of the bed. A few minutes, and
Ruth, somewhat cooled down and not a little frightened, entered.
She looked uneasily at the motionless figure. Finally she said,
More sharply, "Susie!"
"Yes," said Susan, without moving.
"You understand that I told you for your own good? And you'll
not say anything to mother or father? They feel terribly about it,
and don't want it ever mentioned. You won't let on that you know?"
"I'll not tell," said Susan.
"You know we're fond of you--and want to do everything for you?"
"It wasn't true--what you said about Sam's making love to you?"
"That's all over. I don't want to talk about it."
"You're not angry with me, Susie? I admit I was angry, but it
was best for you to know--wasn't it?"
"Yes," said Susan.
"You're not angry with me?"
Ruth, still more uneasy, turned back into her own room because
there was nothing else to do. She did not shut the door between.
When she was in her nightgown she glanced in at her cousin. The
girl was sitting on the edge of the bed in the same position.
"It's after midnight," said Ruth. "You'd better get undressed."
Susan moved a little. "I will," she said.
Ruth went to bed and soon fell asleep. After an hour or so she
awakened. Light was streaming through the open connecting door.
She ran to it, looked in. Susan's clothes were in a heap beside
the bed. Susan herself, with the pillows propping her, was
staring wide-eyed at the ceiling. It was impossible for Ruth to
realize any part of the effect upon her cousin of a thing she
herself had known for years and had taken always as a matter of
course; she simply felt mildly sorry for unfortunate Susan.
"Susie, dear," she said gently, "do you want me to turn out the light?"
"Yes," said Susan.
Ruth switched off the light and went back to bed, better
content. She felt that now Susan would stop her staring and
would go to sleep. Sam's call had been very satisfactory. Ruth
felt she had shown off to the best advantage, felt that he
admired her, would come to see _her_ next time. And now that she
had so arranged it that Susan would avoid him, everything would
turn out as she wished. "I'll use Arthur to make him jealous
after a while--and then--I'll have things my own way." As she fell
asleep she was selecting the rooms Sam and she would occupy in
the big Wright mansion--"when we're not in the East or in Europe."
RUTH had forgotten to close her shutters, so toward seven
o'clock the light which had been beating against her eyelids for
three hours succeeded in lifting them. She stretched herself and
yawned noisily. Susan appeared in the connecting doorway.
"Are you awake?" she said softly.
"What time is it?" asked Ruth, too lazy to turn over and look at
"Ten to seven."
"Do close my shutters for me. I'll sleep an hour or two." She
hazily made out the figure in the doorway. "You're dressed,
aren't you?" she inquired sleepily.
"Yes," replied Susan. "I've been waiting for you to wake."
Something in the tone made Ruth forget about sleep and rub her
fingers over her eyes to clear them for a view of her cousin.
Susan seemed about as usual--perhaps a little serious, but then
she had the habit of strange moods of seriousness. "What did you
want?" said Ruth.
Susan came into the room, sat at the foot of the bed--there was
room, as the bed was long and Ruth short. "I want you to tell me
what my mother did."
"Did?" echoed Ruth feebly.
"Did, to disgrace you and--me."
"Oh, I couldn't explain--not in a few words. I'm so sleepy.
Don't bother about it, Susan." And she thrust her head deeper
into the pillow. "Close the shutters."
"Then I'll have to ask Aunt Fanny--or Uncle George or
everybody--till I find out."
"But you mustn't do that," protested Ruth, flinging herself from
left to right impatiently. "What is it you want to know?"
"About my mother--and what she did. And why I have no
father--why I'm not like you--and the other girls."
"Oh--it's nothing. I can't explain. Don't bother about it. It's
no use. It can't be helped. And it doesn't really matter."
"I've been thinking," said Susan. "I understand a great many
things I didn't know I'd noticed--ever since I was a baby. But
what I don't understand----" She drew a long breath, a cautious
breath, as if there were danger of awakening a pain. "What I don't
understand is--why. And--you must tell me all about it. . . . Was
my mother bad?"
"Not exactly bad," Ruth answered uncertainly. "But she did one
thing that was wicked--at least that a woman never can be
forgiven for, if it's found out."
"Did she--did she take something that didn't belong to her?"
"No--nothing like that. No, she was, they say, as nice and sweet
as she could be--except----She wasn't married to your father."
Susan sat in a brown study. "I can't understand," she said at
last. "Why--she _must_ have been married, or--or--there wouldn't
have been me."
Ruth smiled uneasily. "Not at all. Don't you really understand?"
Susan shook her head.
"He--he betrayed her--and left her--and then everybody knew
because you came."
Susan's violet-gray eyes rested a grave, inquiring glance upon
her cousin's face. "But if he betrayed her----What does `betray'
mean? Doesn't it mean he promised to marry her and didn't?"
"Something like that," said Ruth. "Yes--something like that."
"Then _he_ was the disgrace," said the dark cousin, after reflecting.
"No--you're not telling me, Ruth. _What_ did my mother do?"
"She had you without being married."
Again Susan sat in silence, trying to puzzle it out. Ruth lifted
herself, put the pillows behind her back. "You don't
understand--anything--do you? Well, I'll try to explain--though
I don't know much about it."
And hesitatingly, choosing words she thought fitted to those
innocent ears, hunting about for expressions she thought
comprehensible to that innocent mind, Ruth explained the
relations of the sexes--an inaccurate, often absurd,
explanation, for she herself knew only what she had picked up
from other girls--the fantastic hodgepodge of pruriency,
physiology and sheer nonsense which under our system of
education distorts and either alarms or inflames the imaginations
of girls and boys where the clean, simple truth would at least
enlighten them. Susan listened with increasing amazement.
"Well, do you understand?" Ruth ended. "How we come into the
world--and what marriage means?"
"I don't believe it," declared Susan. "It's--awful!" And she
shivered with disgust.
"I tell you it's true," insisted Ruth. "I thought it was awful
when I first heard--when Lottie Wright took me out in their
orchard, where nobody could listen, and told me what their cook
had told her. But I've got kind of used to it."
"But it--it's so, then; my mother did marry my father," said Susan.
"No. She let him betray her. And when a woman lets a man betray
her without being married by the preacher or somebody, why,
she's ruined forever."
"But doesn't marriage mean where two people promise to love each
other and then betray each other?"
"If they're married, it isn't betraying," explained Ruth. "If
they're not, it is betraying." Susan reflected, nodded slowly.
"I guess I understand. But don't you see it was my father who was
the disgrace? He was the one that promised to marry and didn't."
"How foolish you are!" cried Ruth. "I never knew you to be stupid."
"But isn't it so?" persisted Susan.
"Yes--in a way," her cousin admitted. "Only--the woman must keep
herself pure until the ceremony has been performed."
"But if he said so to her, wasn't that saying so to God just as
much as if the preacher had been there?"
"No, it wasn't," said Ruth with irritation. "And it's wicked to
think such things. All I know is, God says a woman must be
married before she--before she has any children. And your mother
wasn't." Susan shook her head. "I guess you don't understand any
better than I do--really."
"No, I don't," confessed Ruth. "But I'd like to see any man more
than kiss me or put his arm round me without our having been married."
"But," urged Susan, "if he kissed you, wouldn't that be like marriage?"
"Some say so," admitted Ruth. "But I'm not so strict. A little
kissing and that often leads a man to propose." Susan reflected
again. "It all sounds low and sneaking to me," was her final
verdict. "I don't want to have anything to do with it. But I'm
sure my mother was a good woman. It wasn't her fault if she was
lied to, when she loved and believed. And anybody who blames her
is low and bad. I'm glad I haven't got any father, if fathers
have to be made to promise before everybody or else they'll not
keep their word."
"Well, I'll not argue about it," said Ruth. "I'm telling you the
way things are. The woman has to take _all_ the blame." Susan
lifted her head haughtily. "I'd be glad to be blamed by anybody
who was wicked enough to be that unjust. I'd not have anything
to do with such people."
"Then you'd live alone."
"No, I shouldn't. There are lots of people who are good and----"
"That's wicked, Susan," interrupted Ruth. "All good people think
as I tell you they do."
"Do Aunt Fanny and Uncle George blame my mother?"
"Of course. How could they help it, when she----" Ruth was checked
by the gathering lightnings in those violet-gray eyes.
"But," pursued Susan, after a pause, "even if they were wicked
enough to blame my mother, they couldn't blame me."
"Of course not," declared Ruth warmly. "Hasn't everybody always
been sweet and kind to you?"
"But last night you said----"
Ruth hid her face. "I'm ashamed of what I said last night," she
murmured. "I've got, Oh, such a _nasty_ disposition, Susie."
"But what you said--wasn't it so?" Ruth turned away her head.
Susan drew a long sigh, so quietly that Ruth could not have heard.
"You understand," Ruth said gently, "everybody feels sorry for
Susan frowned stormily, "They'd better feel sorry for themselves."
"Oh, Susie, dear," cried Ruth, impulsively catching her hand,
"we all love you, and mother and father and I--we'll stand up
for you through everything----"
"Don't you _dare_ feel sorry for me!" Susan cried, wrenching her
Ruth's eyes filled with tears.
"You can't blame us because everybody----You know, God says,
`The sins of the fathers shall be visited on the children----'"
"I'm done with everybody," cried Susan, rising and lifting her
proud head, "I'm done with God."
Ruth gave a low scream and shuddered. Susan looked round
defiantly, as if she expected a bolt from the blue to come
hurtling through the open window. But the sky remained serene,
and the quiet, scented breeze continued to play with the lace
curtains, and the birds on the balcony did not suspend their
chattering courtship. This lack of immediate effect from her
declaration of war upon man and God was encouraging. The last of
the crushed, cowed feeling Ruth had inspired the night before
disappeared. With a soul haughtily plumed and looking defiance
from the violet-gray eyes, Susan left her cousin and betook
herself down to breakfast.
In common with most children, she had always dreamed of a
mysterious fate for herself, different from the commonplace
routine around her. Ruth's revelations, far from daunting her,
far from making her feel like cringing before the world in
gratitude for its tolerance of her bar sinister, seemed a
fascinatingly tragic confirmation of her romantic longings and
beliefs. No doubt it was the difference from the common lot that
had attracted Sam to her; and this difference would make their
love wholly unlike the commonplace Sutherland wooing and
wedding. Yes, hers had been a mysterious fate, and would
continue to be. Nora, an old woman now, had often related in her
presence how Doctor Stevens had brought her to life when she lay
apparently, indeed really, dead upon the upstairs sitting-room
table--Doctor Stevens and Nora's own prayers. An extraordinary
birth, in defiance of the laws of God and man; an extraordinary
resurrection, in defiance of the laws of nature--yes, hers would
be a life superbly different from the common. And when she and
Sam married, how gracious and forgiving she would be to all
those bad-hearted people; how she would shame them for their
evil thoughts against her mother and herself!
The Susan Lenox who sat alone at the little table in the
dining-room window, eating bread and butter and honey in the
comb, was apparently the same Susan Lenox who had taken three
meals a day in that room all those years--was, indeed, actually
the same, for character is not an overnight creation. Yet it was
an amazingly different Susan Lenox, too. The first crisis had
come; she had been put to the test; and she had not collapsed in
weakness but had stood erect in strength.
After breakfast she went down Main Street and at Crooked Creek
Avenue took the turning for the cemetery. She sought the Warham
plot, on the western slope near the quiet brook. There was a
clump of cedars at each corner of the plot; near the largest of
them were three little graves--the three dead children of George
and Fanny. In the shadow of the clump and nearest the brook was
a fourth grave apart and, to the girl, now thrillingly mysterious:
BORN MAY 9, 1859
DIED JULY 17, 1879
Twenty years old! Susan's tears scalded her eyes. Only a little
older than her cousin Ruth was now--Ruth who often seemed to her,
and to everybody, younger than herself. "And she was good--I
know she was good!" thought Susan. "_He_ was bad, and the people
who took his part against her were bad. But _she_ was good!"
She started as Sam's voice, gay and light, sounded directly
behind her. "What are you doing in a graveyard?" cried he.
"How did you find me?" she asked, paling and flushing and paling again.
"I've been following you ever since you left home."
He might have added that he did not try to overtake her until
they were where people would be least likely to see.
"Whose graves are those?" he went on, cutting across a plot and
stepping on several graves to join her.
She was gazing at her mothers simple headstone. His glance
followed hers, he read.
"Oh--beg pardon," he said confusedly. "I didn't see."
She turned her serious gaze from the headstone to his face,
which her young imagination transfigured. "You know--about her?"
"I--I--I've heard," he confessed. "But--Susie, it doesn't amount
to anything. It happened a long time ago--and everybody's
forgotten--and----" His stammering falsehoods died away before
her steady look. "How did you find out?"
"Someone just told me," replied she. "And they said you'd never
respect or marry a girl who had no father. No--don't
deny--please! I didn't believe it--not after what we had said
to each other."
Sam, red and shifting uneasily, could not even keep his downcast
eyes upon the same spot of ground.
"You see," she went on, sweet and grave, "they don't understand
what love means--do they?"
"I guess not," muttered he, completely unnerved.
Why, how seriously the girl had taken him and his words--such a
few words and not at all definite! No, he decided, it was the
kiss. He had heard of girls so innocent that they thought a kiss
meant the same as being married. He got himself together as well
as he could and looked at her.
"But, Susie," he said, "you're too young for anything
definite--and I'm not halfway through college."
"I understand," said she. "But you need not be afraid I'll change."
She was so sweet, so magnetic, so compelling that in spite of
the frowns of prudence he seized her hand. At her touch he flung
prudence to the winds. "I love you," he cried; and putting his
arm around her, he tried to kiss her. She gently but strongly
repulsed him. "Why not, dear?" he pleaded. "You love me--don't you?"
"Yes," she replied, her honest eyes shining upon his. "But we
must wait until we're married. I don't care so much for the
others, but I'd not want Uncle George to feel I had disgraced him."
"Why, there's no harm in a kiss," pleaded he.
"Kissing you is--different," she replied. "It's--it's--marriage."
He understood her innocence that frankly assumed marriage where
a sophisticated girl would, in the guilt of designing thoughts,
have shrunk in shame from however vaguely suggesting such a
thing. He realized to the full his peril. "I'm a damn fool," he
said to himself, "to hang about her. But somehow I can't help
it--I can't!" And the truth was, he loved her as much as a boy
of his age is capable of loving, and he would have gone on and
married her but for the snobbishness smeared on him by the
provincialism of the small town and burned in by the toadyism of
his fashionable college set. As he looked at her he saw beauty
beyond any he had ever seen elsewhere and a sweetness and
honesty that made him ashamed before her. "No, I couldn't harm
her," he told himself. "I'm not such a dog as that. But there's
no harm in loving her and kissing her and making her as happy as
it's right to be."
"Don't be mean, Susan," he begged, tears in his eyes. "If you
love me, you'll let me kiss you."
And she yielded, and the shock of the kiss set both to
trembling. It appealed to his vanity, it heightened his own
agitations to see how pale she had grown and how her rounded
bosom rose and fell in the wild tumult of her emotions. "Oh, I
can't do without seeing you," she cried. "And Aunt Fanny has
"I thought so!" exclaimed he. "I did what I could last night to
throw them off the track. If Ruth had only known what I was
thinking about all the time. Where were you?"
"Upstairs--on the balcony."
"I felt it," he declared. "And when she sang love songs I could
hardly keep from rushing up to you. Susie, we _must_ see each other."
"I can come here, almost any day."
"But people'd soon find out--and they'd say all sorts of things.
And your uncle and aunt would hear."
There was no disputing anything so obvious.
"Couldn't you come down tonight, after the others are in bed and
the house is quiet?" he suggested.
She hesitated before the deception, though she felt that her family
had forfeited the right to control her. But love, being the supreme
necessity, conquered. "For a few minutes," she conceded.
She had been absorbed; but his eyes, kept alert by his
conventional soul, had seen several people at a distance
observing without seeming to do so. "We must separate," he now
said. "You see, Susie, we mustn't be gossiped about. You know
how determined they are to keep us apart."
"Yes--yes," she eagerly agreed. "Will you go first, or shall I?"
"You go--the way you came. I'll jump the brook down where it's
narrow and cut across and into our place by the back way. What
"Arthur's coming," reflected Susie aloud. "Ruth'll not let him
stay late. She'll be sleepy and will go straight to bed. About
half past ten. If I'm not on the front veranda--no, the side
veranda--by eleven, you'll know something has prevented."
"But you'll surely come?"
"I'll come." And it both thrilled and alarmed him to see how
much in earnest she was. But he looked love into her loving eyes
and went away, too intoxicated to care whither this adventure
was leading him.
At dinner she felt she was no longer a part of this family. Were
they not all pitying and looking down on her in their hearts?
She was like a deformed person who has always imagined the
consideration he has had was natural and equal, and suddenly
discovers that it is pity for his deformity. She now acutely
felt her aunt's, her cousin's, dislike; and her uncle's
gentleness was not less galling. In her softly rounded youthful
face there was revealed definitely for the first time an
underlying expression of strength, of what is often confused
with its feeble counterfeit, obstinacy--that power to resist
circumstances which makes the unusual and the firm character.
The young mobility of her features suggested the easy swaying of
the baby sapling in the gentlest breeze. Singularly at variance
with it was this expression of tenacity. Such an expression in
the face of the young infallibly forecasts an agitated and
agitating life. It seemed amazingly out of place in Susan
because theretofore she had never been put to the test in any
but unnoted trifles and so had given the impression that she was
as docile as she was fearful of giving annoyance or pain and
indifferent to having her own way. Those who have this
temperament of strength encased in gentleness are invariably
misunderstood. When they assert themselves, though they are in
the particular instance wholly right, they are regarded as
wholly and outrageously wrong. Life deals hardly with them,
punishes them for the mistaken notion of themselves they have
through forbearance and gentleness of heart permitted an
unobservant world to form.
Susan spent the afternoon on the balcony before her window,
reading and sewing--or, rather, dreaming over first a book, then
a dress. When she entered the dining-room at supper time the
others were already seated. She saw instantly that something had
occurred--something ominous for her. Mrs. Warham gave her a
penetrating, severe look and lowered her eyes; Ruth was gazing
sullenly at her plate. Warham's glance was stern and
reproachful. She took her place opposite Ruth, and the meal was
eaten in silence. Ruth left the table first. Next Mrs. Warham
rose and saying, "Susan, when you've finished, I wish to see you
in the sitting-room upstairs," swept in solemn dignity from the
room. Susan rose at once to follow. As she was passing her uncle
he put out his hand and detained her.
"I hope it was only a foolish girl's piece of nonsense," said he
with an attempt at his wonted kindliness. "And I know it won't
occur again. But when your aunt says things you won't like to
hear, remember that you brought this on yourself and that she
loves you as we all do and is thinking only of your good."
"What is it, Uncle George?" cried Susan, amazed. "What have I done?"
Warham looked sternly grieved. "Brownie," he reproached, "you
mustn't deceive. Go to your aunt."
She found her aunt seated stiffly in the living-room, her hands
folded upon her stomach. So gradual had been the crucial
middle-life change in Fanny that no one had noted it. This
evening Susan, become morbidly acute, suddenly realized the
contrast between the severe, uncertain-tempered aunt of today
and the amiable, altogether and always gentle aunt of two years
"What is it, aunt?" she said, feeling as if she were before a
stranger and an enemy.
"The whole town is talking about your disgraceful doings this
morning," Ruth's mother replied in a hard voice.
The color leaped in Susan's cheeks.
"Yesterday I forbade you to see Sam Wright again. And already
"I did not say I would not see him again," replied Susan.
"I thought you were an honest, obedient girl," cried Fanny, the
high shrill notes in her voice rasping upon the sensitive, the
now morbidly sensitive, Susan. "Instead--you slip away from the
house and meet a young man--and permit him to take _liberties_
Susan braced herself. "I did not go to the cemetery to meet
him," she replied; and that new or, rather, newly revived
tenacity was strong in her eyes, in the set of her sweet mouth.
"He saw me on the way and followed. I did let him kiss me--once.
But I had the right to."
"You have disgraced yourself--and us all."
"We are going to be married."
"I don't want to hear such foolish talk!" cried Mrs. Warham
violently. "If you had any sense, you'd know better."
"He and I do not feel as you do about my mother," said the girl
with quiet dignity.
Mrs. Warham shivered before this fling. "Who told you?" she demanded.
"It doesn't matter; I know."
"Well, miss, since you know, then I can tell you that your uncle
and I realize you're going the way your mother went. And the
whole town thinks you've gone already. They're all saying, `I
told you so! I told you so! Like her mother!'" Mrs. Warham was
weeping hysterical tears of fury. "The whole town! And it'll
reflect on my Ruth. Oh, you miserable girl! Whatever possessed
me to take pity on you!"
Susan's hands clutched until the nails sunk into the palms. She
shut her teeth together, turned to fly.
"Wait!" commanded Mrs. Warham. "Wait, I tell you!"
Susan halted in the doorway, but did not turn.
"Your uncle and I have talked it over."
"Oh!" cried Susan.
Mrs. Warham's eyes glistened. "Yes, he has wakened up at last.
There's one thing he isn't soft about----"
"You've turned him against me!" cried the girl despairingly.
"You mean _you_ have turned him against you," retorted her aunt.
"Anyhow, you can't wheedle him this time. He's as bent as I am.
And you must promise us that you won't see Sam again."
A pause. Then Susan said, "I can't."
"Then we'll send you away to your Uncle Zeke's. It's quiet out
there and you'll have a chance to think things over. And I
reckon he'll watch you. He's never forgiven your mother. Now,
will you promise?"
"No," said Susan calmly. "You have wicked thoughts about my
mother, and you are being wicked to me--you and Ruth. Oh, I
"Don't you dare stand there and lie that way!" raved Mrs.
Warham. "I'll give you tonight to think about it. If you don't
promise, you leave this house. Your uncle has been weak where
you were concerned, but this caper of yours has brought him to
his senses. We'll not have you a loose character--and your
cousin's life spoiled by it. First thing we know, no respectable
man'll marry her, either."
From between the girl's shut teeth issued a cry. She darted
across the hall, locked herself in her room.
SAM did not wait until Arthur Sinclair left, but, all ardor and
impatience, stole in at the Warhams' front gate at ten o'clock.
He dropped to the grass behind a clump of lilacs, and to calm
his nerves and to make the time pass more quickly, smoked a
cigarette, keeping its lighted end carefully hidden in the
hollow of his hand. He was not twenty feet away, was seeing and
hearing, when Arthur kissed Ruth good night. He laughed to
himself. "How disappointed she looked last night when she saw I
wasn't going to do that!" What a charmer Susie must be when the
thought of her made the idea of kissing as pretty a girl as Ruth
uninteresting, almost distasteful!
Sinclair departed; the lights in parlor and hall went out;
presently light appeared through the chinks in some of the
second-story shutters. Then followed three-quarters of an hour
of increasing tension. The tension would have been even greater
had he seen the young lady going leisurely about her
preparations for bed. For Ruth was of the orderly, precise women
who are created to foster the virtue of patience in those about
them. It took her nearly as long to dress for bed as for a
party. She did her hair up in curl papers with the utmost care;
she washed and rinsed and greased her face and neck and gave
them a thorough massage. She shook out and carefully hung or
folded or put to air each separate garment. She examined her
silk stockings for holes, found one, darned it with a neatness
rivaling that of a _stoppeur_. She removed from her dressing
table and put away in drawers everything that was out of place.
She closed each drawer tightly, closed and locked the closets,
looked under the bed, turned off the lights over the dressing
table. She completed her toilet with a slow washing of her
teeth, a long spraying of her throat, and a deliberate,
thoroughgoing dripping of boracic acid into each eye to keep and
improve its clearness and brilliancy. She sat on the bed,
reflected on what she had done, to assure herself that nothing
had been omitted. After a slow look around she drew off her
bedroom slippers, set them carefully side by side near the head
of the bed. She folded her nightgown neatly about her legs,
thrust them down into the bed. Again she looked slowly,
searchingly, about the room to make absolutely sure she had
forgotten nothing, had put everything in perfect order. Once in
bed, she hated to get out; yet if she should recall any
omission, however slight, she would be unable to sleep until she
had corrected it. Finally, sure as fallible humanity can be, she
turned out the last light, lay down--went instantly to sleep.
It was hardly a quarter of an hour after the vanishing of that
last ray when Sam, standing now with heart beating fast and a
lump of expectancy, perhaps of trepidation, too, in his throat,
saw a figure issue from the front door and move round to the
side veranda. He made a detour on the lawn, so as to keep out of
view both from house and street, came up to the veranda, called
to her softly.
"Can you get over the rail?" asked she in the same low tone.
"Let's go back to the summer house," urged he.
"No. Come up here," she insisted. "Be careful. The windows above
He climbed the rail noiselessly and made an impetuous move for
her hand. She drew back. "No, Sam dear," she said. "I know it's
foolish. But I've an instinct against it--and we mustn't."
She spoke so gently that he persisted and pleaded. It was some
time before he realized how much firmness there was under her
gentleness. She was so afraid of making him cross; yet he also
saw that she would withstand at any cost. He placed himself
beside her on the wicker lounge, sitting close, his cheek almost
against hers, that they might hear each other without speaking
above a whisper. After one of those silences which are the
peculiar delight of lovers, she drew a long breath and said:
"I've got to go away, Sam. I shan't see you again for a long time."
"They heard about this morning? They're sending you away?"
"No--I'm going. They feel that I'm a disgrace and a drag. So I
"But--you've _got_ to stay!" protested Sam. In wild alarm he
suspected she was preparing to make him elope with her--and he
did not know to what length of folly his infatuation might whirl
him. "You've no place to go," he urged.
"I'll find a place," said she.
"You mustn't--you mustn't, Susie! Why, you're only
seventeen--and have no experience."
"I'll _get_ experience," said she. "Nothing could be so bad as
staying here. Can't you see that?"
He could not. Like so many of the children of the rich, he had
no trace of overnice sense of self-respect, having been lying
and toadying all his life to a father who used the power of his
wealth at home no less, rather more, than abroad. But he vaguely
realized what delicacy of feeling lay behind her statement of
her position; and he did not dare express his real opinion. He
returned to the main point. "You've simply got to put up with it
for the present, Susie," he insisted. "But, then, of course,
you're not serious."
"Yes. I am going."
"You'll think it over, and see I'm right, dear."
"I'm going tonight."
"Tonight!" he cried.
Sam looked apprehensively around. Both breathed softly and
listened with straining ears. His exclamation had not been loud,
but the silence was profound. "I guess nobody heard," he finally
whispered. "You mustn't go, Susie." He caught her hand and held
it. "I love you, and I forbid it."
"I _must_ go, dear," answered she. "I've decided to take the
midnight boat for Cincinnati."
In the half darkness he gazed in stupefaction at her--this girl
of only seventeen calmly resolving upon and planning an
adventure so daring, so impossible. As he had been born and bred
in that western country where the very children have more
independence than the carefully tamed grown people of the East,
he ought to have been prepared for almost anything. But his
father had undermined his courage and independence; also his
year in the East had given him somewhat different ideas of
women. Susan's announcement seemed incredible. He was gathering
himself for pouring out a fresh protest when it flashed through
his mind--Why not? She would go to Cincinnati. He could follow
in a few days or a week--and then--
Well, at least they would be free and could have many happy days
"Why, how could you get to Cincinnati?" he said. "You haven't
"I've a twenty-dollar gold piece Uncle gave me as a keepsake.
And I've got seventeen dollars in other money, and several
dollars in change," explained she. "I've got two hundred and
forty-three dollars and fifty cents in the bank, but I can't get
that--not now. They'll send it to me when I find a place and am
settled and let them know."
"You can't do it, Susie! You can't and you mustn't."
"If you knew what they said to me! Oh, I _couldn't_ stay, Sam.
I've got some of my clothes--a little bundle behind the front
door. As soon as I'm settled I'll let you know."
A silence, then he, hesitatingly, "Don't you--do you--hadn't I
better go with you?"
She thrilled at this generosity, this new proof of love. But she
said: "No, I wouldn't let you do that. They'd blame you. And I
want them to know it's all my own doing."
"You're right, Susie," said the young man, relieved and
emphatic. "If I went with you, it'd only get both of us into
deeper trouble." Again silence, with Sam feeling a kind of awe
as he studied the resolute, mysterious profile of the girl,
which he could now see clearly. At last he said: "And after you
get there, Susie--what will you do?"
"Find a boarding house, and then look for a place."
"What kind of a place?"
"In a store--or making dresses--or any kind of sewing. Or I
could do housework."
The sex impulse is prolific of generous impulses. He, sitting so
close to her and breathing in through his skin the emanations of
her young magnetism, was moved to the depths by the picture her
words conjured. This beautiful girl, a mere child, born and bred
in the lady class, wandering away penniless and alone, to be a
prey to the world's buffetings which, severe enough in reality,
seem savage beyond endurance to the children of wealth.
As he pictured it his heart impulsively expanded. It was at his
lips to offer to marry her. But his real self--and one's real
self is vastly different from one's impulses--his real self
forbade the words passage. Not even the sex impulse,
intoxicating him as it then was, could dethrone snobbish
calculation. He was young; so while he did not speak, he felt
ashamed of himself for not speaking. He felt that she must be
expecting him to speak, that she had the right to expect it. He
drew a little away from her, and kept silent.
"The time will soon pass," said she absently.
"The time? Then you intend to come back?"
"I mean the time until you're through college and we can be together."
She spoke as one speaks of a dream as to which one has never a
doubt but that it will come true. It was so preposterous, this
idea that he would marry her, especially after she had been a
servant or God knows what for several years--it was so absurd
that he burst into a sweat of nervous terror. And he hastily
drew further away.
She felt the change, for she was of those who are born
sensitive. But she was far too young and inexperienced to have
learned to interpret aright the subtle warning of the nerves.
"You are displeased with me?" she asked timidly.
"No--Oh, no, Susie," he stammered. "I--I was thinking. Do put
off going for a day or two. There's no need of hurrying."
But she felt that by disobeying her aunt and coming down to see
him she had forfeited the right to shelter under that roof. "I
can't go back," said she. "There's a reason." She would not tell
him the reason; it would make him feel as if he were to blame.
"When I get a place in Cincinnati," she went on, "I'll write to you."
"Not here," he objected. "That wouldn't do at all. No, send me a
line to the Gibson House in Cincinnati, giving me your address."
"The Gibson House," she repeated. "I'll not forget that name.
"Send it as soon as you get a place. I may be in Cincinnati
soon. But this is all nonsense. You're not going. You'd be afraid."
She laughed softly. "You don't know me. Now that I've got to go,
And he realized that she was not talking to give herself
courage, that her words were literally true. This made him
admire her, and fear her, too. There must be something wild and
unwomanly in her nature. "I guess she inherits it from her
mother--and perhaps her father, whoever he was." Probably she
was simply doing a little early what she'd have been sure to do
sooner or later, no matter what had happened. On the whole, it
was just as well that she was going. "I can take her on East in
the fall. As soon as she has a little knowledge of the world
she'll not expect me to marry her. She can get something to do.
I'll help her." And now he felt in conceit with himself again--
felt that he was going to be a good, generous friend to her.
"Perhaps you'll be better off--once you get started," said he.
"I don't see how I could be worse off. What is there here for _me_?"
He wondered at the good sense of this from a mere child. It was
most unlikely that any man of the class she had been brought up
in would marry her; and how could she endure marriage with a man
of the class in which she might possibly find a husband? As for
She, an illegitimate child, never could have a reputation, at
least not so long as she had her looks. After supper, to kill
time, he had dropped in at Willett's drug store, where the young
fellows loafed and gossiped in the evenings; all the time he was
there the conversation had been made up of sly digs and hints
about graveyard trysts, each thrust causing the kind of laughter
that is the wake of the prurient and the obscene. Yes, she was
right. There could be "nothing in it" for her in Sutherland. He
was filled with pity for her. "Poor child! What a shame!" There
must be something wrong with a world that permitted such iniquities.
The clock struck twelve. "You must go," she said. "Sometimes
the boat comes as early as half-past." And she stood up.
As he faced her the generous impulse surged again. He caught her
in his arms, she not resisting. He kissed her again and again,
murmuring disconnected words of endearment and fighting back the
offer to marry her. "I mustn't! I mustn't!" he said to himself.
"What'd become of us?" If his passions had been as virgin, as
inexperienced, as hers, no power could have held him from going
with her and marrying her. But experience had taught him the
abysmal difference between before and after; and he found
strength to be sensible, even in the height of his passionate
longing for her.
She clasped her arms about his neck. "Oh, my dear love!" she
murmured. "I'd do anything for you. I feel that you love me as
I love you."
"Yes--yes." And he pressed his lips to hers. An instant and she
drew away, shaking and panting. He tried to clasp her again, but
she would not have it. "I can't stand it!" he murmured. "I must
go with you--I must!"
"No!" she replied. "It wouldn't do unless we were really
married." Wistfully, "And we can't be that yet--can we? There
isn't any way?"
His passion cooled instantly.
"There isn't any way," he said regretfully. "I'd not dare tell
"Yes, we must wait till you're of age, and have your education,
and are free. Then----" She drew a long breath, looked at him
with a brave smile. The large moon was shining upon them. "We'll
think of that, and not let ourselves be unhappy--won't we?"
"Yes," he said. "But I must go."
"I forgot for the minute. Good-by, dearest." She put up her
lips. He kissed her, but without passion now.
"You might go with me as far as the wharf," she suggested.
"No--someone might see--and that would ruin everything. I'd like
"It wouldn't do," she interrupted. "I wouldn't let you come."
With sudden agitation she kissed him--he felt that her lips were
cold. He pressed her hands--they, too, were cold. "Good-by, my
darling," he murmured, vaulted lightly over the rail and
disappeared in the deep shadows of the shrubbery. When he was
clear of the grounds he paused to light a cigarette. His hand
was shaking so that the match almost dropped from his fingers.
"I've been making a damn fool of myself," he said half aloud. "A
double damn fool! I've got to stop that talk about marrying,
somehow--or keep away from her. But I can't keep away. I _must_
have her! Why in the devil can't she realize that a man in my
position couldn't marry her? If it wasn't for this marrying
talk, I'd make her happy. I've simply got to stop this marrying
talk. It gets worse and worse."
Her calmness deceived her into thinking herself perfectly sane
and sober, perfectly aware of what she was about. She had left
her hat and her bundle behind the door. She put on the hat in
the darkness of the hall with steady fingers, took up the
well-filled shawl strap and went forth, closing the door behind
her. In the morning they would find the door unlocked but that
would not cause much talk, as Sutherland people were all rather
careless about locking up. They would not knock at the door of
her room until noon, perhaps. Then they would find on the
pincushion the letter she had written to her uncle, saying
good-by and explaining that she had decided to remove forever
the taint of her mother and herself from their house and their
lives--a somewhat theatrical letter, modeled upon Ouida, whom
she thought the greatest writer that had ever lived, Victor Hugo
and two or three poets perhaps excepted.
Her bundle was not light, but she hardly felt it as she moved
swiftly through the deserted, moonlit streets toward the river.
The wharf boat for the Cincinnati and Louisville mail steamers
was anchored at the foot of Pine Street. On the levee before it
were piled the boxes, bags, cases, crates, barrels to be loaded
upon the "up boat." She was descending the gentle slope toward
this mass of freight when her blood tingled at a deep, hoarse,
mournful whistle from far away; she knew it was the up boat,
rounding the bend and sighting the town. The sound echoed
musically back and forth between the Kentucky and the Indiana
bluffs, died lingeringly away. Again the whistle boomed, again
the dark forest-clad steeps sent the echoes to and fro across the
broad silver river. And now she could see the steamer, at the
bend--a dark mass picked out with brilliant dots of light; the
big funnels, the two thick pennants of black smoke. And she
could hear the faint pleasant stroke of the paddles of the big
side wheels upon the water.
At the wharf boat there had not been a sign of life. But with
the dying away of the second whistle lights--the lights of
lanterns--appeared on the levee close to the water's edge and on
the wharf boat itself. And, behind her, the doors of the
Sutherland Hotel opened and its office lit up, in preparation
for any chance arrivals. She turned abruptly out of the beaten
path down the gravel levee, made for the lower and darker end of
the wharf boat. There would be Sutherland people going up the
river. But they would be more than prompt; everyone came early
to boats and trains to begin the sweet draught of the excitement
of journeying. So she would wait in the darkness and go aboard
when the steamer was about to draw in its planks. At the upper
end of the wharf boat there was the broad gangway to the levee
for passengers and freight; at the lower and dark and deserted
end a narrow beam extended from boat to shore, to hold the boat
steady. Susan, balancing herself with her bundle, went up to the
beam, sat down upon a low stanchion in the darkness where she
could see the river.
Louder and louder grew the regular musical beat of engine and
paddle. The searchlight on the forward deck of the _General
Lytle_, after peering uncertainly, suspiciously, at the entire
levee, and at the river, and at the Kentucky shore, abruptly
focused upon the wharf boat. The _General Lytle_ now seemed a
blaze of lights--from lower deck, from saloon deck, from pilot
house deck, and forward and astern. A hundred interesting sounds
came from her--tinkling of bells, calls from deck to deck,
whistling, creaking of pulleys, lowing of cattle, grunting of
swine, plaint of agitated sheep, the resigned cluckings of many
chickens. Along the rail of the middle or saloon deck were
seated a few passengers who had not yet gone to bed. On the
lower deck was a swarm of black roustabouts, their sooty animal
faces, their uncannily contrasting white teeth and eyeballs,
their strange and varied rags lit up by the torches blazing
where a gangplank lay ready for running out. And high and clear
in the lovely June night sailed the moon, spreading a faint
benign light upon hills and shores and glistening river, upon
the graceful, stately mail steamer, now advancing majestically
upon the wharf boat. Susan watched all, saw all, with quick
beating heart and quivering interest. It was the first time that
her life had been visited by the fascinating sense of event,
real event. The tall, proud, impetuous child-woman, standing in
the semi-darkness beside her bundle, was about to cast her stake
upon the table in a bold game with Destiny. Her eyes shone with
the wonderful expression that is seen only when courage gazes
into the bright face of danger.
The steamer touched the edge of the wharf-boat with gentle care;
the wharf-boat swayed and groaned. Even as the gangplanks were
pushing out, the ragged, fantastic roustabouts, with wild,
savage, hilarious cries, ran and jumped and scrambled to the
wharf-boat like a band of escaping lunatics and darted down its
shore planks to pounce upon the piles of freight. The mate, at
the steamer edge to superintend the loading, and the wharf
master on the levee beside the freight released each a hoarse
torrent of profanity to spur on the yelling, laughing
roustabouts, more brute than man. Torches flared; cow and sheep,
pig and chicken, uttered each its own cry of dissatisfaction or
dismay; the mate and wharf master cursed because it was the
custom to curse; the roustabouts rushed ashore empty-handed,
came filing back, stooping under their burdens. It was a scene
of animation, of excitement, savage, grotesque, fascinating.
Susan, trembling a little, so tense were her nerves, waited
until the last struggling roustabouts were staggering on the
boat, until the deep whistle sounded, warning of approaching
departure. Then she took up her bundle and put herself in the
line of roustabouts, between a half-naked negro, black as coal
and bearing a small barrel of beer, and a half-naked mulatto
bearing a bundle of loud-smelling untanned skins. "Get out of
the way, lady!" yelled the mate, eagerly seizing upon a new text
for his denunciations. "Get out of the way, you black hellions!
Let the lady pass! Look out, lady! You damned sons of hell,
what're you about! I'll rip out your bowels----"
Susan fled across the deck and darted up the stairs to the
saloon. The steamer was all white without except the black metal
work. Within--that is, in the long saloon out of which the
cabins opened to right and left and in which the meals were
served at extension tables--there was the palatial splendor of
white and gilt. At the forward end near the main entrance was
the office. Susan, peering in from the darkness of the deck, saw
that the way was clear. The Sutherland passengers had been
accommodated. She entered, put her bundle down, faced the clerk
behind the desk.
"Why, howdy, Miss Lenox," said he genially, beginning to twist
his narrow, carefully attended blond mustache. "Any of the folks
She remembered his face but not his name. She remembered him as
one of the "river characters" regarded as outcast by the
Christian respectability of Sutherland. But she who could not
but be polite to everybody smiled pleasantly, though she did not
like his expression as he looked at her. "No, I'm alone," said she.
"Oh--your friends are going to meet you at the wharf in the
morning," said he, content with his own explanation. "Just sign
here, please." And, as she wrote, he went on: "I've got one room
left. Ain't that lucky? It's a nice one, too. You'll be very
comfortable. Everybody at home well? I ain't been in Sutherland
for nigh ten years. Every week or so I think I will, and then
somehow I don't. Here's your key--number 34 right-hand side,
well down toward the far end, yonder. Two dollars, please. Thank
you--exactly right. Hope you sleep well."
"Thank you," said Susan.
She turned away with the key which was thrust through one end of
a stick about a foot long, to make it too bulky for
absent-minded passengers to pocket. She took up her bundle,
walked down the long saloon with its gilt decorations, its
crystal chandeliers, its double array of small doors, each
numbered. The clerk looked after her, admiration of the fine
curve of her shoulders, back, and hips written plain upon his
insignificant features. And it was a free admiration he would
not have dared show had she not been a daughter of
illegitimacy--a girl whose mother's "looseness" raised pleasing
if scandalous suggestions and even possibilities in the mind of
every man with a carnal eye. And not unnaturally. To think of
her was to think of the circumstances surrounding her coming
into the world; and to think of those circumstances was to think
Susan, all unconscious of that polluted and impudent gaze, was
soon standing before the narrow door numbered 34, as she barely
made out, for the lamps in the saloon chandeliers were turned
low. She unlocked it, entered the small clean stateroom and
deposited her bundle on the floor. With just a glance at her
quarters she hurried to the opposite door--the one giving upon
the promenade. She opened it, stepped out, crossed the deserted
deck and stood at the rail.
The _General Lytle_ was drawing slowly away from the wharf-boat.
As that part of the promenade happened to be sheltered from the
steamer's lights, she was seeing the panorama of Sutherland--its
long stretch of shaded waterfront, its cupolas and steeples, the
wide leafy streets leading straight from the river by a gentle
slope to the base of the dark towering bluffs behind the
town--all sleeping in peace and beauty in the soft light of the
moon. That farthest cupola to the left--it was the Number Two
engine house, and the third place from it was her uncle's house.
Slowly the steamer, now in mid-stream, drew away from the town.
One by one the familiar landmarks--the packing house, the soap
factory, the Geiss brewery, the tall chimney of the pumping
station, the shorn top of Reservoir Hill--slipped ghostlily away
to the southwest. The sobs choked up into her throat and the
tears rained from her eyes. They all pitied and looked down on
her there; still, it had been home the only home she ever had
known or ever would know. And until these last few frightful
days, how happy she had been there! For the first time she felt
desolate, weak, afraid. But not daunted. It is strange to see in
strong human character the strength and the weakness, two flat
contradictions, existing side by side and making weak what seems
so strong and making strong what seems so weak. However, human
character is a tangle of inconsistencies, as disorderly and
inchoate as the tangible and visible parts of nature. Susan felt
weak, but not the kind of weakness that skulks. And there lay
the difference, the abysmal difference, between courage and
cowardice. Courage has full as much fear as cowardice, often
more; but it has a something else that cowardice has not. It
trembles and shivers but goes forward.
Wiping her eyes she went back to her own cabin. She had
neglected closing its other door, the one from the saloon. The
clerk was standing smirking in the doorway.
"You must be going away for quite some time," said he. And he
fixed upon her as greedy and impudent eyes as ever looked from
a common face. It was his battle glance. Guileful women, bent on
trimming him for anything from a piece of plated jewelry to a
saucer of ice cream, had led him to believe that before it walls
of virtue tottered and fell like Jericho's before the trumpets
"It makes me a little homesick to see the old town disappear,"
hastily explained Susan, recovering herself. The instant anyone
was watching, her emotions always hid.
"Wouldn't you like to sit out on deck a while?" pursued the
clerk, bringing up a winning smile to reinforce the fetching stare.
The idea was attractive, for she did not feel like sleep. It
would be fine to sit out in the open, watch the moon and the
stars, the mysterious banks gliding swiftly by, and new vistas
always widening out ahead. But not with this puny, sandy little
"river character," not with anybody that night. "No," replied
she. "I think I'll go to bed."
She had hesitated--and that was enough to give him
encouragement. "Now, do come," he urged. "You don't know how
nice it is. And they say I'm mighty good company."
"No, thanks." Susan nodded a pleasant dismissal.
The clerk lingered. "Can't I help you in some way? Wouldn't you
like me to get you something?"
"Going to visit in Cincinnati? I know the town from A to Izzard.
It's a lot of fun over the Rhine. I've had mighty good times
there--the kind a pretty, lively girl like you would take to."
"When do we get to Cincinnati?"
"About eight--maybe half-past seven. Depends on the landings we
have to make, and the freight."
"Then I'll not have much time for sleep," said Susan. "Good
night." And no more realizing the coldness of her manner than
the reason for his hanging about, she faced him, hand on the
door to close it.
"You ain't a bit friendly," wheedled he.
"I'm sorry you think so. Good night--and thank you." And he
could not but withdraw his form from the door. She closed it and
forgot him. And she did not dream she had passed through one of
those perilous adventures incident to a female traveling
alone--adventures that even in the telling frighten ladies whose
nervousness for their safety seems to increase in direct
proportion to the degree of tranquillity their charms create in
the male bosom. She decided it would be unwise regularly to
undress; the boat might catch fire or blow up or something. She
took off skirt, hat and ties, loosened her waist, and lay upon
the lower of the two plain, hard little berths. The throb of the
engines, the beat of the huge paddles, made the whole boat
tremble and shiver. Faintly up from below came the sound of
quarrels over crap-shooting, of banjos and singing--from the
roustabouts amusing themselves between landings. She thought she
would not be able to sleep in these novel and exciting
surroundings. She had hardly composed herself before she lost
consciousness, to sleep on and on dreamlessly, without motion.
SHE was awakened by a crash so uproarious that she sat bolt
upright before she had her eyes open. Her head struck stunningly
against the bottom of the upper berth. This further confused her
thoughts. She leaped from the bed, caught up her slippers,
reached for her opened-up bundle. The crash was still billowing
through the boat; she now recognized it as a great gong sounding
for breakfast. She sat down on the bed and rubbed her head and
laughed merrily. "I _am_ a greenhorn!" she said. "Another minute
and I'd have had the whole boat laughing at me."
She felt rested and hungry--ravenously hungry. She tucked in her
blouse, washed as well as she could in the tiny bowl on the
little washstand. Then before the cloudy watermarked mirror she
arranged her scarcely mussed hair. A charming vision of fresh
young loveliness, strong, erect, healthy, bright of eye and of
cheek, she made as, after a furtive look up and down the saloon,
she stepped from her door a very few minutes after the crash of
that gong. With much scuffling and bustling the passengers, most
of them country people, were hurrying into places at the tables
which now had their extension leaves and were covered with
coarse white tablecloths and with dishes of nicked stoneware,
white, indeed, but shabbily so. But Susan's young eyes were not
critical. To her it all seemed fine, with the rich flavor of
adventure. A more experienced traveler might have been filled
with gloomy foreboding by the quality of the odor from the
cooking. She found it delightful and sympathized with the
unrestrained eagerness of the homely country faces about her,
with the children beating their spoons on their empty plates.
The colored waiters presently began to stream in, each wearing
a soiled white jacket, each bearing aloft a huge tray on which
were stacked filled dishes and steaming cups.
Colored people have a keen instinct for class. One of the
waiters happened to note her, advanced bowing and smiling with
that good-humored, unservile courtesy which is the peculiar
possession of the Americanized colored race. He flourished her
into a chair with a "Good morning, miss. It's going to be a fine
day." And as soon as she was seated he began to form round her
plate a large inclosing arc of side dishes--fried fish, fried
steak, fried egg, fried potatoes, wheat cakes, canned peaches,
a cup of coffee. He drew toward her a can of syrup, a pitcher of
cream, and a bowl of granulated sugar.
"Anything else?" said he, with a show of teeth white and sound.
"No--nothing. Thank you so much."
Her smile stimulated him to further courtesies. "Some likes the
yeggs biled. Shall I change 'em?"
"No. I like them this way." She was so hungry that the idea of
taking away a certainty on the chance of getting something out
of sight and not yet cooked did not attract her.
"Perhaps--a little better piece of steak?"
"No--this looks fine." Her enthusiasm was not mere politeness.
"I clean forgot your hot biscuits." And away he darted.
When he came back with a heaping plate of hot biscuits, Sally
Lunn and cornbread, she was eating as heartily as any of her
neighbors. It seemed to her that never had she tasted such grand
food as this served in the white and gold saloon with
strangeness and interest all about her and the delightful sense
of motion--motion into the fascinating golden unknown. The men
at the table were eating with their knives; each had one
protecting forearm and hand cast round his arc of small dishes
as if to ward off probable attempt at seizure. And they
swallowed as if the boat were afire. The women ate more
daintily, as became members of the finer sex on public
exhibition. They were wearing fingerless net gloves, and their
little fingers stood straight out in that gesture which every
truly elegant woman deems necessary if the food is to be
daintily and artistically conveyed to her lips. The children
mussed and gormed themselves, their dishes, the tablecloth.
Susan loved it all. Her eyes sparkled. She ate everything, and
regretted that lack of capacity made it impossible for her to
yield to the entreaties of her waiter that she "have a little more."
She rose, went into the nearest passageway between saloon and
promenade, stealthily took a ten-cent piece from her pocketbook.
She called her waiter and gave it to him. She was blushing
deeply, frightened lest this the first tip she had ever given or
seen given be misunderstood and refused. "I'm so much obliged,"
she said. "You were very nice."
The waiter bowed like a prince, always with his simple, friendly
smile; the tip disappeared under his apron. "Nobody could help
being nice to you, lady."
She thanked him again and went to the promenade. It seemed to
her that they had almost arrived. Along shore stretched a
continuous line of houses--pretty houses with gardens. There
were electric cars. Nearer the river lay several parallel lines
of railway track along which train after train was speeding,
some of them short trains of ordinary day coaches, others long
trains made up in part of coaches grander and more beautiful
than any she had ever seen. She knew they must be the parlor and
dining and sleeping cars she had read about. And now they were
in the midst of a fleet of steamers and barges, and far ahead
loomed the first of Cincinnati's big suspension bridges,
pictures of which she had many a time gazed at in wonder. There
was a mingling of strange loud noises--whistles, engines, on the
water, on shore; there was a multitude of what seemed to her
feverish activities--she who had not been out of quiet
Sutherland since she was a baby too young to note things.
The river, the shores, grew more and more crowded. Susan's eyes
darted from one new object to another; and eagerly though she
looked she felt she was missing more than she saw.
"Why, Susan Lenox!" exclaimed a voice almost in her ear.
She closed her teeth upon a cry; suddenly she was back from
wonderland to herself. She turned to face dumpy, dressy Mrs.
Waterbury and her husband with the glossy kinky ringlets and the
long wavy mustache. "How do you do?" she stammered.
"We didn't know you were aboard," said Mrs. Waterbury, a silly,
duck-legged woman looking proudly uncomfortable in her
bead-trimmed black silk.
"Yes--I'm--I'm here," confessed Susan.
"Going to the city to visit?"
"Yes," said Susan. She hesitated, then repeated, "Yes."
"What elegant breakfasts they do serve on these boats! I suppose
your friends'll meet you. But Mort and I'll look after you till
"Oh, it isn't necessary," protested Susan. The steamer was
passing under the bridge. There were cities on both shores--huge
masses of dingy brick, streets filled with motion of every
kind--always motion, incessant motion, and change. "We're about
there, aren't we?" she asked.
"The wharf's up beyond the second bridge--the Covington Bridge,"
explained Waterbury with the air of the old experienced
globe-trotter. "There's a third one, further up, but you can't
see it for the smoke." And he went on and on, volubly airing his
intimate knowledge of the great city which he visited once a
year for two or three days to buy goods. He ended with a
scornful, "My, but Cincinnati's a dirty place!"
Dirty it might be, but Susan loved it, dirt and all. The smoke,
the grime somehow seemed part of it, one of its charms, one of
the things that made it different from, and superior to,
monotonous country and country town. She edged away from the
Waterburys, hid in her stateroom watching the panorama through
the curtained glass of her promenade deck door. She was
completely carried away. The city! So, this was the city! And
her dreams of travel, of new sights, new faces, were beginning
to come true. She forgot herself, forgot what she had left
behind, forgot what she was to face. All her power of thought
and feeling was used up in absorbing these unfolding wonders.
And when the June sun suddenly pierced the heavy clouds of fog and
smoke, she clasped her hands and gasped, "Lovely! Oh, how lovely!"
And now the steamer was at the huge wharf-boat, in shape like
the one at Sutherland, but in comparative size like the real
Noah's Ark beside a toy ark. And from the whole tremendous scene
rose an enormous clamor, the stentorian voice of the city. That
voice is discordant and terrifying to many. To Susan, on that
day, it was the most splendid burst of music. "Awake--awake!" it
cried. "Awake, and _live!_" She opened her door that she might
hear it better--rattle and rumble and roar, shriek of whistle,
clang of bell. And the people!--Thousands on thousands hurrying
hither and yon, like bees in a hive. "Awake awake, and live!"
The noises from the saloon reminded her that the journey was
ended, that she must leave the boat. And she did not know where
to go--she and her bundle. She waited until she saw the
Waterburys, along with the other passengers, moving up the
levee. Then she issued forth--by the promenade deck door so that
she would not pass the office. But at the head of the
companionway, in the forward part of the deck, there the clerk
stood, looking even pettier and more offensive by daylight. She
thought to slip by him. But he stopped stroking his mustache and
called out to her, "Haven't your friends come?"
She frowned, angry in her nervousness. "I shall get on very
well," she said curtly. Then she repented, smiled politely,
added, "Thank you."
"I'll put you in a carriage," he offered, hastening down the
stairs to join her.
She did not know what to say or do. She walked silently beside
him, he carrying her bundle. They crossed the wharf-boat. A line
of dilapidated looking carriages was drawn up near the end of
the gangplank. The sight of them, the remembrance of what she
had heard of the expensiveness of city carriages, nerved her to
desperation. "Give me my things, please," she said. "I think I'll
"Where do you want to go?"
The question took her breath away. With a quickness that amazed
her, her lips uttered, "The Gibson House."
"Oh! That's a right smart piece. But you can take a car. I'll walk
with you to the car. There's a line a couple of squares up that
goes almost by the door. You know it isn't far from Fourth Street."
She was now in a flutter of terror. She went stumbling along
beside him, not hearing a word of his voluble and flirtatious
talk. They were in the midst of the mad rush and confusion. The
noises, no longer mingled but individual, smote savagely upon
her ears, startling her, making her look dazedly round as if
expecting death to swoop upon her. At the corner of Fourth Street
the clerk halted. He was clear out of humor with her, so dumb,
so unappreciative. "There'll be a car along soon," said he sourly.
"You needn't wait," said she timidly. "Thank you again."
"You can't miss it. Good-by." And he lifted his hat--"tipped"
it, rather--for he would not have wasted a full lift upon such
a female. She gave a gasp of relief when he departed; then a
gasp of terror--for upon the opposite corner stood the
Waterburys. The globe-trotter and his wife were so dazed by the
city that they did not see her, though in their helpless
glancing round they looked straight at her. She hastily ran into
a drug store on the corner. A young man in shirt sleeves held up
by pink garters, and with oily black hair carefully parted and
plastered, put down a pestle and mortar and came forward. He had
kind brown eyes, but there was something wrong with the lower
part of his face. Susan did not dare look to see what it was,
lest he should think her unfeeling. He was behind the counter.
Susan saw the soda fountain. As if by inspiration, she said,
"Some chocolate soda, please."
"Ice cream?" asked the young man in a peculiar voice, like that
of one who has a harelip.
"Please," said Susan. And then she saw the sign, "Ice Cream, ten
cents," and wished she hadn't.
The young man mixed the soda, put in a liberal helping of ice
cream, set it before her with a spoon in it, rested the knuckles
of his brown hairy hands on the counter and said:
"It _is_ hot."
"Yes, indeed," assented Susan. "I wonder where I could leave my
bundle for a while. I'm a stranger and I want to look for a
"You might leave it here with me," said the young man. "That's
about our biggest line of trade--that and postage stamps and
telephone--_and_ the directory. " He laughed heartily. Susan did
not see why; she did not like the sound, either, for the young
man's deformity of lower jaw deformed his laughter as well as
his speech. However, she smiled politely and ate and drank her
"I'll be glad to take care of your bundle," the young man said
presently. "Ever been here before?"
"No," said Susan. "That is, not since I was about four years old."
"I was four," said the young man, "when a horse stepped on my
mouth in the street."
"My, how dreadful!" exclaimed Susan.
"You can see some of the scar yet," the young man assured her,
and he pointed to his curiously sunken mouth. "The doctors said
it was the most remarkable case of the kind on record,"
continued he proudly. "That was what led me into the medical
line. You don't seem to have your boarding house picked."
"I was going to look in the papers."
"That's dangerous--especially for a young lady. Some of them
boarding houses--well, they're no better'n they ought to be."
"I don't suppose you know of any?"
"My aunt keeps one. And she's got a vacancy, it being summer."
"I'm afraid it'd be too expensive for me," said Susan, to feel her way.
The young man was much flattered. But he said, "Oh, it ain't so
toppy. I think you could make a deal with her for five per."
Susan looked inquiring.
"Five a week--room and board."
"I might stand that," said Susan reflectively. Then, deciding
for complete confidence, "I'm looking for work, too."
"Oh, I never tried anything. I thought maybe dressmaking or millinery."
"Mighty poor season for jobs. The times are bad, anyhow." He was
looking at her with kindly curiosity. "If I was you, I'd go back
Susan shrank within herself. "I can't do that," she said.
The young man thought awhile, then said: "If you should go to my
aunt's, you can say Mr. Ellison sent you. No, that ain't me.
It's the boss. You see, a respectable boarding house asks for
Susan colored deeply and her gaze slowly sank. "I didn't know
that," she murmured.
"Don't be afraid. Aunt Kate ain't so particular--leastways, not
in summer when things is slow. And I know you're quiet."
By the time the soda was finished, the young man--who said his
name was Robert Wylie--had written on the back of Ellison's
business card in a Spencerian hand: "Mrs. Kate Wylie, 347 West
Sixth Street." He explained that Susan was to walk up two
squares and take the car going west; the conductor would let her
off at the right place. "You'd better leave your things here,"
said Mr. Wylie, holding up the card so that they could admire
his penmanship together. "You may not hit it off with Aunt Kate.
Don't think you've got to stay there just because of me."
"I'm sure I'll like it," Susan declared confidently. Her spirits
were high; she felt that she was in a strong run of luck.
Wylie lifted her package over the counter and went to the door
with her to point out the direction. "This is Fourth. The next
up is Fifth. The next wide one is Sixth--and you can read it on
the lamp-post, too."
"Isn't that convenient!" exclaimed Susan. "What a lovely city this is!"
"There's worse," said Mr. Wylie, not to seem vain of his native town.
They shook hands most friendly and she set out in the direction
he had indicated. She was much upset by the many vehicles and
the confusion, but she did her best to seem at ease and at home.
She watched a girl walking ahead of her--a shopgirl who seemed
well-dressed and stylish, especially about the hat and hair.
Susan tried to walk like her. "I suppose I look and act greener
than I really am," thought she. "But I'll keep my eyes open and
catch on." And in this, as in all her thoughts and actions since
leaving, she showed confidence not because she was conceited,
but because she had not the remotest notion what she was
actually attempting. How many of us get credit for courage as we
walk unconcerned through perils, or essay and conquer great
obstacles, when in truth we are not courageous but simply
unaware! As a rule knowledge is power or, rather, a source of
power, but there are times when ignorance is a power and
knowledge a weakness. If Susan had known, she might perhaps have
stayed at home and submitted and, with crushed spirit, might
have sunk under the sense of shame and degradation. But she did
not know; so Columbus before his sailors or Caesar at the
Rubicon among his soldiers did not seem more tranquil than she
really was. Wylie, who suspected in the direction of the truth,
wondered at her. "She's game, she is," he muttered again and
again that morning. "What a nerve for a kid--and a lady, too!"
She found the right corner and the right car without further
adventure; and the conductor assured her that he would set her
down before the very door of the address on the card. It was an
open car with few passengers. She took the middle of the long
seat nearest the rear platform and looked about her like one in
a happy dream. On and on and yet on they went. With every square
they passed more people, so it seemed to her, than there were in
all Sutherland. And what huge stores! And what wonderful
displays of things to wear! Where would the people be found to
buy such quantities, and where would they get the money to pay?
How many restaurants and saloons! Why, everybody must be eating
and drinking all the time. And at each corner she looked up and
down the cross streets, and there were more and ever more
magnificent buildings, throngs upon throngs of people. Was there
no end to it? This was Sixth Street, still Sixth Street, as she
saw at the corner lamp-posts. Then there must be five more such
streets between this and the river; and she could see, up the
cross streets, that the city was even vaster in the direction of
the hills. And there were all these cross streets! It was
She began to be nervous, they were going so far. She glanced
anxiously at the conductor. He was watching her interestedly,
understood her glance, answered it with a reassuring nod. He
"I'm looking out for you, miss. I've got you on my mind. Don't
She gave him a bright smile of relief. They were passing through
a double row of what seemed to her stately residences, and there
were few people on the sidewalks. The air, too, was clearer,
though the walls were grimy and also the grass in the occasional
tiny front yards. But the curtains at the windows looked clean
and fresh, and so did the better class of people among those on
the sidewalk. It delighted her to see so many well-dressed
women, wearing their clothes with an air which she told herself
she must acquire. She was startled by the conductor's calling out:
She rose as he rang the bell and was ready to get off when the
car stopped, for she was eager to cause him as little trouble as
"The house is right straight before you," said the conductor.
"The number's in the transom."
She thanked him, descended, was on the sidewalk before Mrs.
Wylie's. She looked at the house and her heart sank. She thought
of the small sum in her purse; it was most unlikely that such a
house as this would harbor her. For here was a grand stone
stairway ascending to a deep stone portico, and within it great
doors, bigger than those of the Wright mansion, the palace of
Sutherland. However, she recalled the humble appearance and mode
of speech of her friend the drug clerk and plucked up the
courage to ascend and to ring.
A slattern, colored maid opened the door. At the first glance
within, at the first whiff of the interior air, Susan felt more
at ease. For she was seeing what even her bedazzled eyes
recognized as cheap dowdiness, and the smell that assailed her
nostrils was that of a house badly and poorly kept--the smell of
cheap food and bad butter cooking, of cats, of undusted rooms,
of various unrecognizable kinds of staleness. She stood in the
center of the big dingy parlor, gazing round at the grimed
chromos until Mrs. Wylie entered--a thin middle-aged woman with
small brown eyes set wide apart, a perpetual frown, and a chin
so long and so projected that she was almost jimber-jawed. While
Susan explained stammeringly what she had come for, Mrs. Wylie
eyed her with increasing disfavor. When Susan had finished, she
unlocked her lips for the first time to say:
"The room's took."
"Oh!" cried Susan in dismay.
The telephone rang in the back parlor. Mrs. Wylie excused
herself to answer. After a few words she closed the doors
between. She was gone fully five minutes; to Susan it seemed an
hour. She came back, saying:
"I've been talking to my nephew. He called up. Well, I reckon
you can have the room. It ain't my custom to take in ladies as
young as you. But you seem to be all right. Your parents allowed
you to come?"
"I haven't any," replied Susan. "I'm here to find a place and
Mrs. Wylie continued to eye her dubiously. "Well, I have no wish
to pry into your affairs. `Mind your own business,' that's my
rule." She spoke with defiance, as if the contrary were being
asserted by some invisible person who might appear and gain
hearing and belief. She went on: "If Mr. Ellison wants it, why I
suppose it's all right. But you can't stay out later'n ten o'clock."
"I shan't go out at all of nights," said Susan eagerly.
"You _look_ quiet," said Mrs. Wylie, with the air of adding that
appearances were rarely other than deceptive.
"Oh, I _am_ quiet," declared Susan. It puzzled her, this
recurrence of the suggestion of noisiness.
"I can't allow much company--none in your room."
"There won't be any company." She blushed deeply. "That is, a--a
young man from our town--he may call once. But he'll be off for
the East right away."
Mrs. Wylie reflected on this, Susan the while standing uneasily,
dreading lest decision would be against her. Finally Mrs. Wylie said:
"Robert says you want the five-dollar room. I'll show it to you."
They ascended two flights through increasing shabbiness. On the
third floor at the rear was a room--a mere continuation of the
narrow hall, partitioned off. It contained a small folding bed,
a small table, a tiny bureau, a washstand hardly as large as
that in the cabin on the boat, a row of hooks with a curtain of
flowered chintz before them, a kitchen chair, a chromo of "Awake
and Asleep," a torn and dirty rag carpet. The odor of the room,
stale, damp, verging on moldy, seemed the fitting exhalation
from such an assemblage of forbidding objects.
"It's a nice, comfortable room," said Mrs. Wylie aggressively.
"I couldn't afford to give it and two meals for five dollars
except till the first of September. After that it's eight."
"I'll be glad to stay, if you'll let me," said Susan. Mrs.
Wylie's suspicion, so plain in those repellent eyes, took all
the courage out of her. The great adventure seemed rapidly to be
losing its charms. She could not think of herself as content or
anything but sad and depressed in such surroundings as these.
How much better it would be if she could live out in the open,
out where it was attractive!
"I suppose you've got some baggage," said Mrs. Wylie, as if she
rather expected to hear that she had not.
"I left it at the drug store," explained Susan.
Susan started nervously at that explosive exclamation. "I--I
haven't got a trunk--only a few things in a shawl strap."
"Well, I never!"
Mrs. Wylie tossed her head, clucked her tongue disgustedly
against the roof of her mouth. "But I suppose if Mr. Ellison
says so, why you can stay."
"Thank you," said Susan humbly. Even if it would not have been
basest ingratitude to betray her friend, Mr. Wylie, still she
would not have had the courage to confess the truth about Mr.
Ellison and so get herself ordered into the street. "I--I think
I'll go for my things."
"The custom is to pay in advance," said Mrs. Wylie sharply.