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Susan Lenox: Her Rise and Fall

Part 3 out of 19

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"Oh, yes--of course," stammered Susan.

She seated herself on the wooden chair and opened out her purse.
She found the five among her few bills, extended it with
trembling fingers toward Mrs. Wylie. At the same time she lifted
her eyes. The woman's expression as she bored into the
pocketbook terrified her. Never before had she seen the savage
greediness that is bred in the city among the people who fight
against fearful odds to maintain their respectability and to
save themselves from the ever threatened drop to the despised
working class.

"Thank you, " said Mrs. Wylie, taking the bill as if she were
conferring a favor upon Susan. "I make everybody pay promptly.
The first of the week or out they go! I used to be easy and I
came near going down."

"Oh, I shouldn't stay a minute if I couldn't pay," said the
girl. "I'm going to look for something right away."

"Well, I don't want to discourage you, but there's a great many
out of work. Still, I suppose you'll be able to wheedle some man
into giving you a job. But I warn you I'm very particular about
morals. If I see any signs----" Mrs. Wylie did not finish her
sentence. Any words would have been weaker than her look.

Susan colored and trembled. Not at the poisonous hint as to how
money could be got to keep on paying for that room, for the hint
passed wide of Susan. She was agitated by the thought: if Mrs.
Wylie should learn that she was not respectable! If Mrs. Wylie
should learn that she was nameless--was born in disgrace so deep
that, no matter how good she might be, she would yet be classed
with the wicked.

"I'm down like a thousand of brick on any woman that is at all
loose with the men," continued the landlady. "I never could
understand how any woman could so far forget herself." And the
woman whom the men had all her life been helping to their
uttermost not to "forget herself" looked sharp suspicion and
envy at Susan, the lovely. Why are women of the Mrs. Wylie sort
so swift to suspect? Can it be that in some secret chamber of
their never assailed hearts there lurks a longing--a feeling as
to what they would do if they had the chance? Mrs. Wylie
continued, "I hope you have strict Christian principles?"

"I was brought up Presbyterian," said Susan anxiously. She was
far from sure that in Cincinnati and by its Mrs. Wylies
Presbyterian would be regarded as Christian.

"There's your kind of a church a few squares from here," was all
Mrs. Wylie deigned to reply. Susan suspected a sneer at
Presbyterianism in her accent.

"That'll be nice," she murmured. She was eager to escape. "I'll
go for my things."

"You can walk down and take the Fourth Street car," suggested
her landlady. "Then you can watch out and not miss the store.
The conductors are very impudent and forgetful."

Susan escaped from the house as speedily as her flying feet
would take her down the two flights. In the street once more,
her spirits rose. She went south to Fourth Street, decided to
walk instead of taking a car. She now found herself in much more
impressive surroundings than before, and realized that Sixth
Street was really one of the minor streets. The further uptown
she went, the more excited she became. After the district of
stately mansions with wonderful carriages driving up and away
and women dressed like those in the illustrated story papers,
came splendid shops and hotels, finer than Susan had believed
there were anywhere in the world. And most of the people--the
crowds on crowds of people!--looked prosperous and cheerful and
so delightfully citified! She wondered why so many of the men
stared at her. She assumed it must be something rural in her
appearance though that ought to have set the women to staring,
too. But she thought little about this, so absorbed was she in
seeing all the new things. She walked slowly, pausing to inspect
the shop windows--the gorgeous dresses and hats and jewelry, the
thousand costly things scattered in careless profusion. And the
crowds! How secure she felt among these multitudes of strangers,
not one of them knowing or suspecting her secret of shame! She
no longer had the sense of being outcast, branded.

When she had gone so far that it seemed to her she certainly
must have missed the drug store, carefully though she had
inspected each corner as she went, she decided that she must
stop someone of this hurrying throng and inquire the way. While
she was still screwing her courage to this boldness, she espied
the sign and hastened joyfully across the street. She and Wylie
welcomed each other like old friends. He was delighted when he
learned that she had taken the room.

"You won't mind Aunt Kate after a while," said he. "She's sour
and nosey, but she's honest and respectable--and that's the main
thing just now with you. And I think you'll get a job all right.
Aunt Kate's got a lady friend that's head saleslady at
Shillito's. She'll know of something."

Wylie was so kind and so hopeful that Susan felt already
settled. As soon as customers came in, she took her parcel and
went, Wylie saying, "I'll drop round after supper and see how
things are getting on." She took the Sixth Street car back, and
felt like an old resident. She was critical of Sixth Street now,
and of the women she had been admiring there less than two hours
before--critical of their manners and of their dress. The
exterior of the boarding house no longer awed her. She was
getting a point of view--as she proudly realized. By the time
Sam came--and surely that wouldn't be many days--she would be
quite transformed.

She mounted the steps and was about to ring when Mrs. Wylie
herself, with stormy brow and snapping eyes, opened the door.
"Go into the parlor," she jerked out from between her
unpleasant-looking receding teeth.

Susan gave her a glance of frightened wonder and obeyed.


AT the threshold her bundles dropped to the floor and all color
fled from her face. Before her stood her Uncle George and Sam
Wright and his father. The two elderly men were glowering at
her; Sam, white as his shirt and limp, was hanging his head.

"So, miss!--You've got back, eh?" cried her uncle in a tone she
would not have believed could come from him.

As quickly as fear had seized her she now shook it off. "Yes,
Uncle," she said calmly, meeting his angry eyes without
flinching. And back came that expression of resolution--of
stubbornness we call it when it is the flag of opposition to
_our_ will.

"What'd have become of you," demanded her uncle, "if I hadn't
found out early this morning, and got after Sam here and choked
the truth out of him?"

Susan gazed at Sam; but he was such a pitiful figure, so mean and
frightened, that she glanced quickly back to her uncle. She said:

"But he didn't know where I was."

"Don't lie to me," cried Warham. "It won't do you any good, any
more than his lying kept us from finding you. We came on the
train and saw the Waterburys in the street and they'd seen you
go into the drug store. We'd have caught you there if we'd been
a few minutes sooner, but we drove, and got here in time. Now,
tell me, Susan"--and his voice was cruelly harsh--"all about
what's been going on between you and Sam."

She gazed fearlessly and was silent.

"Speak up!" commanded Sam's father.

"Yes--and no lies," said her uncle.

"I don't know what you mean," Susan at last answered--truthfully
enough, yet to gain time, too.

"You can't play that game any longer," cried Warham. "You did make
a fool of me, but my eyes are open. Your aunt's right about you."

"Oh, Uncle George!" said the girl, a sob in her voice.

But he gazed pitilessly--gazed at the woman he was now abhorring
as the treacherous, fallen, unsexed daughter of fallen Lorella.
"Speak out. Crying won't help you. What have you and this fellow
been up to? You disgrace!"

Susan shrank and shivered, but answered steadfastly, "That's
between him and me, Uncle."

Warham gave a snort of fury, turned to the elder Wright. "You
see, Wright," cried he. "It's as my wife and I told you. Your
boy's lying. We'll send the landlady out for a preacher and
marry them."

"Hold on, George," objected Wright soothingly. "I agreed to that
only if there'd been something wrong. I'm not satisfied yet." He
turned to Susan, said in his gruff, blunt way:

"Susan, have you been loose with my boy here?"

"Loose?" said Susan wonderingly.

Sam roused himself. "Tell them it isn't so, Susan," he pleaded,
and his voice was little better than a whine of terror. "Your
uncle's going to kill me and my father'll kick me out."

Susan's heart grew sick as she looked at him--looked furtively,
for she was ashamed to see him so abject. "If you mean did I let
him kiss me," she said to Mr. Wright, "why, I did. We kissed
several times. But we had the right to. We were engaged."

Sam turned on his father in an agony of terror. "That isn't
true!" he cried. "I swear it isn't, father. We aren't engaged. I
only made love to her a little, as a fellow does to lots of girls."

Susan looked at him with wide, horrified eyes. "Sam!" she
exclaimed breathlessly. "Sam!"

Sam's eyes dropped, but he managed to turn his face in her
direction. The situation was too serious for him; he did not
dare to indulge in such vanities as manhood or manly appearance.
"That's the truth, Susan," he said sullenly. "_You_ talked a lot
about marrying but _I_ never thought of such a thing."

"But--you said--you loved me."

"I didn't mean anything by it."

There fell a silence that was interrupted by Mr. Wright. "You
see there's nothing in it, Warham. I'll take my boy and go."

"Not by a damn sight!" cried Warham. "He's got to marry her.
Susan, did Sam promise to marry you?"

"When he got through college," replied Susan.

"I thought so! And he persuaded you to run away."

"No," said Susan. "He----"

"I say yes," stormed her uncle. "Don't lie!"

"Warham! Warham!" remonstrated Mr. Wright. "Don't browbeat the girl."

"He begged me not to go," said Susan.

"You lying fool!" shouted her uncle. Then to Wright, "If he did
ask her to stay it was because he was afraid it would all come
out--just as it has."

"I never promised to marry her!" whined Sam. "Honest to God,
father, I never did. Honest to God, Mr. Warham! You know that's
so, Susan. It was you that did all the marrying talk."

"Yes," she said slowly. "Yes, I believe it was." She looked
dazedly at the three men. "I supposed he meant marriage
because--" her voice faltered, but she steadied it and went
on--"because we loved each other."

"I knew it!" cried her uncle. "You hear, Wright? She admits he
betrayed her."

Susan remembered the horrible part of her cousin's sex
revelations. "Oh, no!" she cried. "I wouldn't have let him do
that--even if he had wanted to. No--not even if we'd been married."

"You see, Warham!" cried Mr. Wright, in triumph.

"I see a liar!" was Warham's furious answer. "She's trying to
defend him and make out a case for herself."

"I am telling the truth," said Susan.

Warham gazed unbelievingly at her, speechless with fury. Mr.
Wright took his silk hat from the corer of the piano. "I'm
satisfied they're innocent," said he. "So I'll take my boy and go."

"Not if I know it!" retorted Warham. "He's got to marry her."

"But the girl says she's pure, says he never spoke of marriage,
says he begged her not to run away. Be reasonable, Warham."

"For a good Christian," sneered he at Wright, "you're mighty
easily convinced by a flimsy lie. In your heart you know the boy
has wronged her and that she's shielding him, just as----" There
Warham checked himself; it would be anything but timely to
remind Wright of the character of the girl's mother.

"I'll admit," said Mr. Wright smoothly, "that I
wasn't overanxious for my boy's marriage with a girl whose
mother was--unfortunate. But if your charge had been true,
Warham, I'd have made the boy do her justice, she being only
seventeen. Come, Sam."

Sam slunk toward the door. Warham stared fiercely at the elder
Wright. "And you call yourself a Christian!" he sneered.

At the door--Sam had already disappeared--Mr. Wright paused to
say, "I'm going to give Sam a discipline he'll remember. The
girl's only been foolish. Don't be harsh with her."

"You damned hypocrite!" shouted Warham. "I might have known what
to expect from a man who cut the wages of his hands to pay his
church subscription."

But Wright was far too crafty to be drawn. He went on pushing
Sam before him.

As the outer door closed behind them Mrs. Wylie appeared. "I
want you both to get out of my house as quick as you can," she
snapped. "My boarders'll be coming to dinner in a few minutes."

Warham took his straw hat from the floor beside the chair behind
him. "I've nothing to do with this girl here. Good day, madam."
And he strode out of the house, slamming the door behind him.

Mrs. Wylie looked at Susan with storming face and bosom. Susan
did not see. She was gazing into space, her face blanched.
"Clear out!" cried Mrs. Wylie. And she ran to the outer door and
opened it. "How dare you come into a respectable house!" She
wished to be so wildly angry that she would forget the five
dollars which she, as a professing Christian in full church
standing, would have to pay back if she remembered. "Clear out
this minute!" she cried shrilly. "If you don't, I'll throw your
bundle into the street and you after it."

Susan took up the bundle mechanically, slowly went out on the
stoop. The door closed with a slam behind her. She descended
the steps, walked a few yards up the street, paused at the edge
of the curb and looked dazedly about. Her uncle stood beside
her. "Now where are you going?" he said roughly.

Susan shook her head.

"I suppose," he went on, "I've got to look after you. You shan't
disgrace my daughter any further."

Susan simply looked at him, her eyes unseeing, her brain swept
clean of thought by the cyclone that had destroyed all her
dreams and hopes. She was not horrified by his accusations; such
things had little meaning for one practically in complete
ignorance of sex relations. Besides, the miserable fiasco of her
romantic love left her with a feeling of abasement, of
degradation little different from that which overwhelms a woman
who believes her virtue is her all and finds herself betrayed
and abandoned. She now felt indeed the outcast, looked down upon
by all the world.

"If you hadn't lied," he fumed on, "you'd have been his wife and
a respectable woman."

The girl shivered.

"Instead, you're a disgrace. Everybody in Sutherland'll know
you've gone the way your mother went."

"Go away," said the girl piteously. "Let me alone."

"Alone? What will become of you?" He addressed the question to
himself, not to her.

"It doesn't matter," was her reply in a dreary tone. "I've been
betrayed, as my mother was. It doesn't matter what----"

"I knew it!" cried Warham, with no notion of what the girl meant
by the word "betrayed." "Why didn't you confess the truth while
he was here and his father was ready to marry him to you? I knew
you'd been loose with him, as your Aunt Fanny said."

"But I wasn't," said Susan. "I wouldn't do such a thing."

"There you go, lying again!"

"It doesn't matter," said she. "All I want is for you to go away."

"You do?" sneered he. "And then what? I've got to think of
Ruthie." He snatched the bundle from her hand. "Come on! I must
do all I can to keep the disgrace to my family down. As for you,
you don't deserve anything but the gutter, where you'd sink if
I left you. Your aunt's right. You're rotten. You were born
rotten. You're your mother's own brat."

"Yes, I am," she cried. "And I'm proud of it!" She turned from
him, was walking rapidly away.

"Come with me!" ordered Warham, following and seizing her by the arm.

"No," said Susan, wrenching herself free.

"Then I'll call a policeman and have you locked up."

Uncle and niece stood regarding each other, hatred and contempt
in his gaze, hatred and fear in hers.

"You're a child in law--though, God knows, you're anything but
a child in fact. Come along with me. You've got to. I'm going to
see that you're put out of harm's way."

"You wouldn't take me back to Sutherland!" she cried.

He laughed savagely. "I guess not! You'll not show your face
there again--though I've no doubt you'd be brazen enough to
brass it out. No--you can't pollute my home again."

"I can't go back to Sutherland!"

"You shan't, I say. You ran off because you had disgraced yourself."

"No!" cried Susan. "No!"

"Don't lie to me! Don't speak to me. I'll see what I can do to
hide this mess. Come along!"

Susan looked helplessly round the street, saw nothing, not even
eager, curious faces pressed against many a window pane, saw
only a desolate waste. Then she walked along beside her uncle,
both of them silent, he carrying her bundle, she tightly
clutching her little purse.

Perhaps the most amazing, the most stunning, of all the blows
fate had thus suddenly showered upon her was this transformation
of her uncle from gentleness to ferocity. But many a far older
and far wiser woman than seventeen-year-old Susan has failed to
understand how it is with the man who does not regard woman as
a fellow human being. To such she is either an object of
adoration, a quintessence of purity and innocence, or less than
the dust, sheer filth. Warham's anger was no gust. He was simply
the average man of small intelligence, great vanity, and abject
snobbishness or terror of public opinion. There could be but one
reason for the flight of Lorella's daughter--rottenness. The
only point to consider now was how to save the imperiled family
standing, how to protect his own daughter, whom his good nature
and his wife's weakness had thus endangered. The one thing that
could have appeased his hatred of Susan would have been her
marriage to Sam Wright. Then he would have--not, indeed,
forgiven or reinstated her--but tolerated her. It is the
dominance of such ideas as his that makes for woman the slavery
she discovers beneath her queenly sway if she happens to do
something deeply displeasing to her masculine subject and adorer.

They went to the Central Station. The O. and M. express which
connected with the train on the branch line to Sutherland would
not leave until a quarter past two. It was only a few minutes
past one. Warham led the way into the station restaurant; with
a curt nod he indicated a seat at one of the small tables, and
dropped into the opposite seat. He ordered beefsteak and fried
potatoes, coffee and apple pie.

"Sit still!" he said to her roughly and rose to go out to buy a paper.

The girl sat with her hands in her lap and her eyes upon them.
She looked utterly, pitifully tired. A moment and he came back
to resume his seat and read the paper. When the waiter flopped
down the steak and the dish of greasily fried potatoes before
his plate, he stuffed the paper in his pocket, cut a slice of
the steak and put it on the plate. The waiter noisily exchanged
it for the empty plate before Susan. Warham cut two slices of
the steak for himself, took a liberal helping of the potatoes,
pushed the dish toward her.

"Do you want the coffee now, or with the pie?" asked the waiter.

"Now," said Warham.

"Coffee for the young lady, too?"

Warham scowled at her. "Coffee?" he demanded.

She did not answer; she did not hear.

"Yes, she wants coffee," said Warham. "Hustle it!"

"Yes, sir." And the waiter bustled away with a great deal of
motion that created a deceptive impression of speed. Warham was
helping himself to steak again when the coffee came a
suspicious-looking liquid diffusing an odor of staleness
reheated again and again, an under odor of metal pot not too
frequently scoured.

Warham glanced at Susan's plate. She had not disturbed the knife
and fork on either side of it. "Eat!" he commanded. And when she
gave no sign of having heard, he repeatedly sharply, "Eat, I
tell you."

She started, nervously took up the knife and fork, cut a morsel
off the slice of steak. When she lifted it to her lips, she
suddenly put it back in the plate. "I can't," she said.

"You've got to," ordered he. "I won't have you acting this way."

"I can't," she repeated monotonously. "I feel sick." Nature had
luckily so made her that it was impossible for her to swallow
when her nerves were upset or when she was tired; thus, she
would not have the physical woes that aggravate and prolong
mental disturbance if food is taken at times when it instantly
turns to poison.

He repeated his order in a still more savage tone. She put her
elbows on the table, rested her head wearily upon her hands,
shook her head. He desisted.

When he had eaten all of the steak, except the fat and the
gristly tail, and nearly all the potatoes, the waiter took the
used dishes away and brought two generous slices of apple pie
and set down one before each. With the pie went a cube of
American cream or "rat-trap" cheese. Warham ate his own pie and
cheese; then, as she had not touched hers, he reached for it and
ate it also. Now he was watching the clock and, between liftings
of laden fork to his mouth, verifying the clock's opinion of the
hour by his own watch. He called for the bill, paid it, gave the
waiter five cents--a concession to the tipping custom of the
effete city which, judging by the waiter's expression, might as
well not have been made. Still, Warham had not made it with an
idea of promoting good feeling between himself and the waiter,
but simply to show that he knew the city and its ways. He took
up the shawl strap, said, "Come on" in the voice which he deemed
worthy of the fallen creature he must, through Christian duty
and worldly prudence, for the time associate with. She rose and
followed him to the ticket office. He had the return half of his
own ticket. When she heard him ask for a ticket to North
Sutherland she shivered. She knew that her destination was his
brother Zeke's farm.

From Cincinnati to North Vernon, where they were to change cars,
he sat beside her without speech. At North Vernon, where they
had to occupy a bench outside the squat and squalid station for
nearly two hours, he sat beside her without speech. And without
a single word on either side they journeyed in the poking,
no-sooner-well-started-than-stopping accommodation train
southbound. Several Sutherland people were aboard. He nodded
surlily to those who spoke to him. He read an Indianapolis paper
which he had bought at North Vernon. All the way she gazed
unseeingly out over the fair June landscape of rolling or hilly
fields ripening in the sun.

At North Sutherland he bade her follow him to a dilapidated barn
a few yards from the railway tracks, where was displayed a
homemade sign--"V. Goslin. Livery and Sale Stable." There was
dickering and a final compromise on four dollars where the
proprieter had demanded five and Warham had declared two fifty
liberal. A surrey was hitched with two horses. Warham opened the
awkward door to the rear seat and ordered Susan to jump in. She
obeyed; he put the bundle on the floor beside her. He sat with
the driver--the proprietor himself. The horses set off at a
round pace over the smooth turnpike. It was evening, and a
beautiful coolness issued from the woods on either side. They
skimmed over the long level stretches; they climbed hills, they
raced down into valleys. Warham and the ragged, rawboned old
proprietor kept up a kind of conversation--about crops and
politics, about the ownership, value, and fertility of the farms
they were passing. Susan sat quiet, motionless most of the time.

The last daylight faded; the stars came out; the road wound in
and out, up and down, amid cool dark silence and mysterious
fascinating shadows. The moon appeared above the tree tops
straight ahead--a big moon, with a lower arc of the rim clipped
off. The turnpike ended; they were making equally rapid progress
over the dirt road which was in perfect condition as there had
been no rain for several days. The beat of the flying hoofs was
soft now; the two men's voices, fell into a lower key; the moon
marked out the line of the road clearly, made strange spectral
minglings of light and darkness in the woods, glorified the open
fields and gave the occasional groups of farm buildings an
ancient beauty and dignity. The girl slept.

At nine o'clock the twenty-mile drive ended in a long, slow
climb up a road so washed out, so full of holes and bowlders,
that it was no road at all but simply a weather-beaten hillside.
A mile of this, with the liveryman's curses--"dod rot it" and
"gosh dang it" and similar modifications of profanity for
Christian use and for the presence of "the sex"--ringing out at
every step. Susan soon awakened, rather because the surrey was
pitching so wildly than because of Goslin's denunciations. A
brief level stretch and they stopped for Warham to open the
outer gate into his brother Zeke's big farm. A quarter of a mile
through wheat to the tops of the wheels and they reached the
second gate. A descent into a valley, a crossing of a creek, an
ascent of a steep hill, and they were at the third gate--between
pasture and barnyard. Now they came into view of the house, set
upon a slope where a spring bubbled out. The house was white and
a white picket fence cut off its lawn from the barnyard. A dog
with a deep voice began to bark. They drove up to the front gate
and stopped. The dog barked in a frenzy of rage, and they heard
his straining and jerking at his chain. A clump of cedars
brooded to the right of the house; their trunks were whitewashed
up to the lowest branches. The house had a high stoop with
wooden steps.

As Warham descended and hallooed, there came a fierce tugging at
the front door from the inside. But the front door was not in
the habit of being opened, and stoutly resisted. The assault
grew more strenuous; the door gave way and a tall thin farmer

"Hello, Zeke," called George. He opened the surrey door. "Get
down," he said to the girl, at the same time taking her bundle.
He set it on the horse block beside the gate, took out his
pocketbook and paid over the four dollars. "Good-by, Vic," said
he pleasantly. "That's a good team you've got."

"Not so coarse," said Vic. "Good-by, Mr. Warham." And off he drove.

Zeke Warham had now descended the steps and was opening the
front gate, which was evidently as unaccustomed to use as the
front door. "Howdy, George," said he. "Ain't that Susie you've
got with you?" Like George, Zeke had had an elementary
education. But he had married an ignorant woman, and had lived
so long among his farm hands and tenants that he used their mode
of speech.

"Yes, it's Susie," said George, shaking hands with his brother.

"Howdy, Susie," said Zeke, shaking hands with her. "I see you've
got your things with you. Come to stay awhile?"

George interrupted. "Susan, go up on the porch and take your bundle."

The girl took up the shawl strap and went to the front door. She
leaned upon the railing of the stoop and watched the two men
standing at the gate. George was talking to his brother in a low
tone. Occasionally the brother uttered an ejaculation. She could
not hear; their heads were so turned that she could not see
their faces. The moon made it almost as bright as day. From the
pasture woods came a low, sweet chorus of night life--frogs and
insects and occasionally a night bird. From the orchard to the
left and the clover fields beyond came a wonderful scented
breeze. She heard a step in the hall; her Aunt Sallie
appeared--a comfortable, voluble woman, a hard worker and a
harder eater and showing it in thin hair and wrinkled face.

"Why, Susie Lenox, ain't that you?" she exclaimed.

"Yes, Aunt," said Susan.

Her aunt kissed her, diffusing that earthy odor which is the
basis of the smell of country persons. At various hours of the
day this odor would be modified with the smell of cow stables,
of chickens, of cooking, according to immediate occupation. But
whatever other smell there was, the earthy smell persisted. And
it was the smell of the house, too.

"Who's at the gate with your Uncle Zeke?" inquired Sallie.
"Ain't it George?"

"Yes," said Susan.

"Why don't he come in?" She raised her voice. "George, ain't you
coming in?"

"Howdy, Sallie," called George. "You take the girl in. Zeke and
I'll be along."

"Some business, I reckon," said her aunt to Susan. "Come on.
Have you had supper?"

"No," said Susan. She was hungry now. The splendid health of the
girl that had calmed her torment of soul into a dull ache was
clamoring for food--food to enable her body to carry her strong
and enduring through whatever might befall.

"I'll set something out for you," said Sallie. "Come right in.
You might leave your bundle here by the parlor door. We'll put
you in the upstairs room."

They passed the front stairway, went back through the hall,
through the big low-ceilinged living-room with its vast
fireplace now covered for the warm season by a screen of
flowered wallpaper. They were in the plain old dining-room with
its smaller fireplace and its big old-fashioned cupboards built
into the wall on either side of the projecting chimney-piece.
"There ain't much," resumed Sallie. "But I reckon you kin make out."

On the gayly patterned table cover she set an array of
substantial plates and glasses. From various cupboards in
dining-room and adjoining kitchen she assembled a glass pitcher
of sweet milk, a glass pitcher of buttermilk, a plate of cold
cornbread, a platter of cold fried chicken, a dish of golden
butter, a pan of cold fried potatoes, a jar of preserved crab
apples and another of peach butter. Susan watched with hungry
eyes. She was thinking of nothing but food now. Her aunt looked
at her and smiled.

"My, but you're shootin' up!" she exclaimed, admiring the girl's
tall, straight figure. "And you don't seem to get stringy and
bony like so many, but keep nice and round. Do set down."

"I--I think I'll wait until Uncle George comes."

"Nothing of the kind!" She pushed a wooden chair before one of
the two plates she had laid. "I see you've still got that lovely
skin. And how tasty you dress! Now, do set!"

Susan seated herself.

"Pitch right in, child," urged Sallie. "How's yer aunt and her Ruth?"

"They're--they're well, thank you."

"Do eat!"

"No," said Susan. "I'll wait for Uncle."

"Never mind your manners. I know you're starved." Then seeing
that the girl would not eat, she said, "Well, I'll go fetch him."

But Susan stopped her. "Please please don't," she entreated.

Sallie stared to oppose; then, arrested by the intense,
appealing expression in those violet-gray eyes, so beautifully
shaded by dark lashes and brows, she kept silent, bustled
aimlessly about, boiling with suddenly aroused curiosity. It was
nearly half an hour by the big square wooden clock on the
chimney-piece when Susan heard the steps of her two uncles. Her
hunger fled; the deathly sickness surged up again. She trembled,
grew ghastly in the yellow lamplight. Her hands clutched each
other in her lap.

"Why, Susie!" cried her aunt. "Whatever is the matter of you!"

The girl lifted her eyes to her aunt's face the eyes of a
wounded, suffering, horribly suffering animal. She rose,
rushed out of the door into the yard, flung herself down on the
grass. But still she could not get the relief of tears. After a
while she sat up and listened. She heard faintly the voices of
her uncle and his relatives. Presently her aunt came out to her.
She hid her face in her arm and waited for the new harshness to

"Get up and come in, Susie." The voice was kind, was
pitying--not with the pity that galls, but with the pity of one
who understands and feels and is also human, the pity that
soothes. At least to this woman she was not outcast.

The girl flung herself down again and sobbed--poured out upon the
bosom of our mother earth all the torrents of tears that had been
damming up within her. And Sallie knelt beside her and patted
her now and then, with a "That's right. Cry it out, sweetie."

When tears and sobs subsided Sallie lifted her up, walked to the
house with her arm round her. "Do you feel better?"

"Some," admitted Susan.

"The men folks have went. So we kin be comfortable. After you've
et, you'll feel still better."

Gorge Warham had made a notable inroad upon the food and drink.
But there was an abundance left. Susan began with a hesitating
sipping at a glass of milk and nibbling at one of the generous
cubes of old-fashioned cornbread. Soon she was busy. It
delighted Sallie to see her eat. She pressed the preserves, the
chicken, the cornbread upon her. "I haven't eaten since early
this morning," apologized the girl.

"That means a big hole to fill," observed Sallie. "Try this buttermilk."

But Susan could hold no more.

"I reckon you're pretty well tired out," observed Sallie.

"I'll help you straighten up," said Susan, rising.

"No. Let me take you up to bed--while the men's still outside."

Susan did not insist. They returned through the empty
sitting-room and along the hall. Aunt Sallie took the bundle,
and they ascended to the spare bedroom. Sallie showed her into
the front room--a damp, earthy odor; a wallpaper with countless
reproductions of two little brown girls in a brown swing under
a brown tree; a lofty bed, white and tomb-like; some
preposterous artificial flowers under glass on chimney-piece and
table; three bright chromos on the walls; "God Bless Our Home"
in pink, blue and yellow worsted over the door.

"I'll run down and put the things away," said her aunt. "Then
I'll come back."

Susan put her bundle on the sofa, opened it, found nightgown and
toilet articles on top. She looked uncertainly about, rapidly
undressed, got into the nightgown. "I'll turn down the bed and
lie on it until Auntie comes," she said to herself. The bed was
delightfully cool; the shuck mattress made soft crackling sounds
under her and gave out a soothing odor of the fields. Hardly had
her head touched the pillow when she fell sound asleep. In a few
minutes her aunt came hurrying in, stopped short at sight of
that lovely childlike face with the lamplight full upon it. One
of Susan's tapering arms was flung round her dark wavy hair.
Sallie Warham smiled gently. "Bless the baby" she said half
aloud. Then her smile faded and a look of sadness and pity came.
"Poor child!" she murmured. "The Warham men's hard. But then all
the men's hard. Poor child." And gently she kissed the girl's
flushed cheek. "And she never had no mother, nor nothing." She
sighed, gradually lowered the flame of the little old glass
lamp, blew it out, and went noiselessly from the room, closing
the door behind her.


SUSAN sat up in bed suddenly, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
It was broad day, and the birds were making a mighty clamor. She
gazed round, astonished that it was not her own room. Then she
remembered. But it was as a child remembers; for when we have
the sense of perfect physical well-being we cannot but see our
misfortunes with the child's sense of unreality--and Susan had
not only health but youth, was still in the child stage of the
period between childhood and womanhood. She lay down again, with
the feeling that so long as she could stay in that comfortable
bed, with the world shut out, just so long would all be well
with her. Soon, however, the restlessness of all nature under
the stimulus and heat of that brilliant day communicated itself
to her vigorous young body. For repose and inaction are as
foreign to healthy life as death itself, of which they are the
symptoms; and if ever there was an intense and vivid life, Susan
had it. She got up and dressed, and leaned from the window,
watching the two-horse reaper in the wheat fields across the
hollow of the pasture, and listening to its faint musical whirr.
The cows which had just been milked were moving sedately through
the gate into the pasture, where the bull, under a tree, was
placidly awaiting them. A boy, in huge straw hat and a blue
cotton shirt and linsey woolsey trousers rolled high upon his
brown bare legs, was escorting the herd.

Her aunt in fresh, blue, checked calico came in. "Wouldn't you
like some breakfast?" said she. And Susan read in her manner
that the men were out of the way.

"No, I don't feel hungry," Susan replied.

She thought this was true; but when she was at the table she ate
almost as heartily as she had the night before. As Susan ate she
gazed out into the back yard of the house, where chickens of all
sizes, colors and ages were peering and picking about. Through
the fence of the kitchen garden she saw Lew, the farm hand,
digging potatoes. There were ripening beans on tall poles, and
in the farther part the forming heads of cabbages, the sprouting
melon vines, the beautiful fresh green of the just springing
garden corn. The window through which she was looking was framed
in morning glories and hollyhocks, and over by the garden gate
were on the one side a clump of elders, on the other the hardy
graceful stalks of gaudily spreading sunflowers. Bees flew in
and out, and one lighted upon the dish of honey in the comb that
went so well with the hot biscuit.

She rose and wandered out among the chickens, to pick up little
fluffy youngsters one after another, and caress them, to look in
the henhouse itself, where several hens were sitting with the
pensive expression that accompanies the laying of eggs. She
thought of those other hens, less conventional, who ran away to
lay in secret places in the weeds, to accumulate a store against
the time when the setting instinct should possess them.

She thought of those cannier, less docile hens and laughed. She
opened a gate into the barnyard, intending to go to the barn for
a look at the horses, taking in the duck pond and perhaps the
pigs on the way. Her Uncle Gorge's voice arrested her.

"Susan," he cried. "Come here."

She turned and looked wistfully at him. The same harsh,
unforgiving countenance--mean with anger and petty thoughts. As
she moved hesitatingly toward him he said, "You are not to go
out of the yard." And he reentered the house. What a mysterious
cruel world! Could it be the same world she had lived in so
happily all the years until a few days ago--the same she had always
found "God's beautiful world," full of gentleness and kindness?

And why had it changed? What was this sin that after a long
sleep in her mother's grave had risen to poison everyone against
her? And why had it risen? It was all beyond her.

She strolled wretchedly within bounds, with a foreboding of
impending evil. She watched Lew in the garden; she got her aunt
to let her help with the churning--drive the dasher monotonously
up and down until the butter came; then she helped work the
butter, helped gather the vegetables for dinner, did everything
and anything to keep herself from thinking. Toward eleven
o'clock her Uncle Zeke appeared in the dining-room, called his
wife from the kitchen. Susan felt that at last something was to
happen. After a long time her aunt returned; there were all the
evidences of weeping in her face.

"You'd better go to your room and straighten it up," she said
without looking at the girl. "The thing has aired long enough,
I reckon. . . . And you'd better stay up there till I call you."

Susan had finished the room, was about to unpack the heavy-laden
shawl strap and shake the wrinkles out of the skirts, folded
away for two days now. She heard the sound of a horse's hoofs,
went to the window. A young man whom she recognized as one of
her Uncle Zeke's tenants was hitching to the horse block a
well-set-up young mare drawing a species of broad-seated
breaking sulky. He had a handsome common face, a wavy black
mustache. She remembered that his name was Ferguson--Jeb
Ferguson, and that he was working on shares what was known as
"the creek-bottom farm," which began about a mile and a half
away, straight down the pasture hollow. He glanced up at the
window, raised his black slouch hat, and nodded with the
self-conscious, self-assured grin of the desired of women. She
tried to return this salute with a pleasant smile. He entered
the gate and she heard his boots upon the front steps.

Now away across the hollow another figure appeared--a man on
horseback coming through the wheat fields. He was riding toward
the farther gate of the pasture at a leisurely dignified pace.
She had only made out that he had abundant whiskers when the
sound of a step upon the stairs caused her to turn. As that step
came nearer her heart beat more and more wildly. Her wide eyes
fixed upon the open door of the room. It was her Uncle George.

"Sit down," he said as he reached the threshhold{sic}. "I want
to talk to you."

She seated herself, with hands folded in her lap. Her head was
aching from the beat of the blood in her temples.

"Zeke and I have talked it over," said Warham. "And we've
decided that the only thing to do with you is to get you
settled. So in a few minutes now you're going to be married."

Her lack of expression showed that she did not understand. In
fact, she could only feel--feel the cruel, contemptuous anger of
that voice which all her days before had caressed her.

"We've picked out a good husband for you," Warham continued.
"It's Jeb Ferguson."

Susan quivered. "I--I don't want to," she said.

"It ain't a question of what you want," retorted Warham roughly.
He was twenty-four hours and a night's sleep away from his first
fierce outblazing of fury--away from the influence of his wife
and his daughter. If it had not been for his brother Zeke,
narrow and cold, the event might have been different. But Zeke
was there to keep his "sense of duty" strong. And that he might
nerve himself and hide and put down any tendency to be a
"soft-hearted fool"--a tendency that threatened to grow as he
looked at the girl--the child--he assumed the roughest manner he
could muster.

"It ain't a question of what you want," he repeated. "It's a
question of what's got to be done, to save my family and you,
too--from disgrace. We ain't going to have any more bastards in
this family."

The word meant nothing to the girl. But the sound of it, as her
uncle pronounced it, made her feel as though the blood were
drying up in her veins.

"We ain't going to take any chances," pursued Warham, less
roughly; for now that he had looked the situation full and
frankly in the face, he had no nerve to brace himself. The
necessity of what he was prepared to do and to make her do was
too obvious. "Ferguson's here, and Zeke saw the preacher we sent
for riding in from the main road. So I've come to tell you. If
you'd like to fix up a little, why your Aunt Sallie'll be here
in a minute. You want to pray God to make you a good wife. And
you ought to be thankful you have sensible relations to step in
and save you from yourself."

Susan tried to speak; her voice died in her throat. She made
another effort. "I don't want to," she said.

"Then what do you want to do--tell me that!" exclaimed her
uncle, rough again. For her manner was very moving, the more so
because there was none of the usual appeal to pity and to mercy.

She was silent.

"There isn't anything else for you to do."

"I want to--to stay here."

"Do you think Zeke'd harbor you--when you're about certain to up
and disgrace us as your mother did?"

"I haven't done anything wrong," said the girl dully.

"Don't you dare lie about that!"

"I've seen Ruth do the same with Artie Sinclair--and all the
girls with different boys."

"You miserable girl!" cried her uncle.

"I never heard it was so dreadful to let a boy kiss you."

"Don't pretend to be innocent. You know the difference between
that and what you did!"

Susan realized that when she had kissed Sam she had really loved
him. Perhaps that was the fatal difference. And her mother--the
sin there had been that she really loved while the man hadn't.
Yes, it must be so. Ruth's explanation of these mysteries had
been different; but then Ruth had also admitted that she knew
little about the matter--and Susan most doubted the part that
Ruth had assured her was certainly true.

"I didn't know," said Susan to her uncle. "Nobody ever told me.
I thought we were engaged."

"A good woman don't need to be told," retorted Warham. "But I'm
not going to argue with you. You've got to marry."

"I couldn't do that," said the girl. "No, I couldn't."

"You'll either take him or you go back to Sutherland and I'll
have you locked up in the jail till you can be sent to the House
of Correction. You can take your choice."

Susan sat looking at her slim brown hands and interlacing her
long fingers. The jail! The House of Correction was dreadful
enough, for though she had never seen it she had heard what it
was for, what kind of boys and girls lived there. But the
jail--she had seen the jail, back behind the courthouse, with
its air of mystery and of horror. Not Hell itself seemed such a
frightful thing as that jail.

"Well--which do you choose?" said her uncle in a sharp voice.

The girl shivered. "I don't care what happens to me," she said,
and her voice was dull and sullen and hard.

"And it doesn't much matter," sneered Warham. Every time he
looked at her his anger flamed again at the outrage to his love,
his trust, his honor, and the impending danger of more
illegitimacy. "Marrying Jeb will give you a chance to reform and
be a good woman. He understands--so you needn't be afraid of
what he'll find out."

"I don't care what happens to me," the girl repeated in the same
monotonous voice.

Warham rose. "I'll send your Aunt Sallie," said he. "And when I
call, she'll bring you down."

The girl's silence, her non-resistance the awful expression of
her still features--made him uneasy. He went to the window
instead of to the door. He glanced furtively at her; but he
might have glanced openly as there wasn't the least danger of
meeting her eyes. "You're marrying about as well as you could
have hoped to, anyhow--better, probably," he observed, in an
argumentative, defensive tone. "Zeke says Jeb's about the
likeliest young fellow he knows--a likelier fellow than either
Zeke or I was at his age. I've given him two thousand dollars in
cash. That ought to start you off well." And he went out without
venturing another look at her. Her youth and helplessness, her
stony misery, were again making it harder for him to hold
himself to what he and the fanatic Zeke had decided to be his
duty as a Christian, as a father, as a guardian. Besides, he did
not dare face his wife and his daughter until the whole business
was settled respectably and finally.
His sister-in-law was waiting in the next room. As soon as his
descent cleared the way she hurried in. From the threshold she
glanced at the girl; what she saw sent her hurrying out to
recompose herself. But the instant she again saw that expression
of mute and dazed despair the tears fought for release. The
effort to suppress outward signs of pity made her plain fat face
grotesque. She could not speak. With a corner of her apron she
wiped imaginary dust from the glass bells that protected the
artificial flowers. The poor child! And all for no fault of
hers--and because she had been born out of wedlock. But then,
the old woman reflected, was it not one of the most familiar of
God's mysterious ways that people were punished most severely of
all for the things that weren't their fault--for being born in
shame, or in bad or low families, or sickly, or for being stupid
or ugly or ignorant? She envied Zeke--his unwavering belief in
religion. She believed, but her tender heart was always leading
her into doubts.

She at last got some sort of control over her voice. "It'll turn
out for the best," she said, with her back to Susan. "It don't
make much difference nohow who a woman marries, so long as he's
steady and a good provider. Jeb seems to be a nice feller. He's
better looking than your Uncle George was before he went to town
and married a Lenox and got sleeked up. And Jeb ain't near so
close as some. That's a lot in a husband." And in a kind of
hysteria, bred of fear of silence just then, she rattled on,
telling how this man lay awake o' nights thinking how to skin a
flea for its hide and tallow, how that one had said only a fool
would pay over a quarter for a new hat for his wife----

"Will it be long?" asked the girl.

"I'll go down and see," said Mrs. Warham, glad of a real excuse
for leaving the room. She began to cry as soon as she was in the
hall. Two sparrows lit upon the window sill near Susan and
screamed and pecked at each other in a mock fight. She watched
them; but her shiver at the faint sound of her aunt's returning
step far away down the stairs showed where her attention was.
When Zeke's wife entered she was standing and said:

"Is it time?"

"Come on, honey. Now don't be afraid."

Susan advanced with a firm step, preceded her aunt down the
stairs. The black slouch hat and the straw of dignified cut were
side by side on the shiny hall table. The parlor door was open;
the rarely used showroom gave forth an earthy, moldy odor like
that of a disturbed grave. Its shutters, for the first time in
perhaps a year, were open; the mud daubers that had built in the
crevices between shutters and sills, fancying they would never
be disturbed, were buzzing crossly about their ruined homes. The
four men were seated, each with his legs crossed, and each
wearing the funereal expression befitting a solemn occasion.
Susan did not lift her eyes. The profusely whiskered man seated
on the haircloth sofa smoothed his black alpaca coat, reset the
black tie deep hid by his beard, rose and advanced with a
clerical smile whose real kindliness took somewhat from its
offensive unction. "This is the young lady, is it?" said he,
reaching for Susan's rising but listless hand. "She is indeed a
_young_ lady!"

The two Warham men stood, shifting uneasily from leg to leg and
rubbing their faces from time to time. Sallie Warham was
standing also, her big unhealthy face twitching fantastically.
Jeb alone was seated--chair tilted back, hands in trousers
pockets, a bucolic grin of embarrassment giving an expression of
pain to his common features. A strained silence, then Zeke
Warham said:

"I reckon we might as well go ahead."

The preacher took a small black-bound book from the inside
pocket of his limp and dusty coat, cleared his throat, turned
over the pages. That rustling, the creaking of his collar on his
overstarched shirt band, and the buzzing of the mud daubers
round the windows were the only sounds. The preacher found the
place, cleared his throat again.

"Mr. Ferguson----"

Jeb, tall, spare, sallow, rose awkwardly.

"--You and Miss Lenox will take your places here----" and he
indicated a position before him.

Susan was already in place; Jeb shuffled up to stand at her
left. Sallie Warham hid her face in her apron. The preacher
cleared his throat vigorously, began--"Dearly beloved"--and so on
and on. When he put the questions to Susan and Jeb he told them
what answer was expected, and they obeyed him, Jeb muttering,
Susan with a mere, movement of the lips. When he had finished--a
matter of less than three minutes--he shook hands warmly first
with Susan, then with Jeb. "Live in the fear of the Lord," he
said. "That's all that's necessary."

Sallie put down her apron. Her face was haggard and gray. She
kissed Susan tenderly, then led her from the room. They went
upstairs to the bedroom. "Do you want to stay to dinner?" she
asked in the hoarse undertone of funeral occasions. "Or would
you rather go right away?"

"I'd rather go," said the girl.

"You set down and make yourself comfortable. I'll hook up your
shawl strap."

Susan sat by the window, her hands in her lap. The hand with the
new circlet of gold on it was uppermost. Sallie busied herself
with the bundle; abruptly she threw her apron over her face,
knelt by the bed and sobbed and uttered inarticulate moans. The
girl made no sound, did not move, looked unseeingly at her inert
hands. A few moments and Sallie set to work again. She soon had
the bundle ready, brought Susan's hat, put it on.

"It's so hot, I reckon you'll carry your jacket. I ain't seen as
pretty a blue dress as this--yet it's plainlike, too." She went
to the top of the stairs. "She wants to go, Jeb," she called
loudly. "You'd better get the sulky ready."

The answer from below was the heavy thump of Jeb's boots on the
oilcloth covering of the hall floor. Susan, from the window,
dully watched the young farmer unhitch the mare and lead her up
in front of the gate.

"Come on, honey," said Aunt Sallie, taking up the bundle.

The girl--she seemed a child now--followed her. On the front
stoop were George and his brother and the preacher. The men made
room for them to pass. Sallie opened the gate; Susan went out.
"You'll have to hold the bundle," said Sallie. Susan mounted to
the seat, took the bundle on her knees. Jeb, who had the lines,
left the mare's head and got up beside his bride.

"Good day, all," he said, nodding at the men on the stoop. "Good
day, Mrs. Warham."

"Come and see us real soon," said Sallie. Her fat chin was
quivering; her tired-looking, washed-out eyes gazed mournfully
at the girl who was acting and looking as if she were walking in
her sleep.

"Good day, all," repeated Jeb, and again he made the clucking sound.

"Good-by and God bless you," said the preacher. His nostrils were
luxuriously sniffing the air which bore to them odors of cookery.

The mare set out. Susan's gaze rested immovably upon the heavy
bundle in her lap. As the road was in wretched repair, Jeb's
whole attention was upon his driving. At the gate between
barnyard and pasture he said, "You hold the lines while I get down."

Susan's fingers closed mechanically upon the strips of leather.
Jeb led the mare through the gate, closed it, resumed his seat.
This time the mare went on without exacting the clucking sound.
They were following the rocky road along the wester hillside of
the pasture hollow. As they slowly made their way among the deep
ruts and bowlders, from frequent moistenings of the lips and
throats, noises, and twitchings of body and hands, it was
evident that the young farmer was getting ready for
conversation. The struggle at last broke surface with, "Zeke
Warham don't waste no time road patchin'--does he?"

Susan did not answer.

Jeb studied her out of the corner of his eye, the first time a
fairly good bit of roadway permitted. He could make nothing of
her face except that it was about the prettiest he had ever
seen. Plainly she was not eager to get acquainted; still,
acquainted they must get. So he tried again:

"My sister Keziah--she keeps house for me--she'll be mighty
surprised when I turn up with a wife. I didn't let on to her
what I was about, nary a word."

He laughed and looked expectantly at the girl. Her expression
was unchanged. Jeb again devoted himself to his driving.

"No, I didn't let on," he presently resumed. "Fact is, I wan't
sure myself till I seed you at the winder." He smiled
flirtatiously at her. "Then I decided to go ahead. I dunno, but
I somehow kinder allow you and me'll hit it off purty
well--don't you?"

Susan tried to speak. She found that she could not--that she had
nothing to say.

"You're the kind of a girl I always had my mind set on," pursued
Jeb, who was an expert love-maker. "I like a smooth skin and
pouty lips that looks as if they wanted to be kissed." He took
the reins in one hand, put his arm round her, clumsily found her
lips with his. She shrank slightly, then submitted. But Jeb
somehow felt no inclination to kiss her again. After a moment he
let his arm drop away from her waist and took the reins in both
hands with an elaborate pretense that the bad road compelled it.

A long silence, then he tried again: "It's cool and nice under
these here trees, ain't it?"

"Yes," she said.

"I ain't saw you out here for several years now. How long has it been?"

"Three summers ago."

"You must 'a' growed some. I don't seem to recollect you. You
like the country?"


"Sho! You're just sayin' that. You want to live in town. Well,
so do I. And as soon as I get things settled a little I'm goin'
to take what I've got and the two thousand from your Uncle
George and open up a livery stable in town."

Susan's strange eyes turned upon him. "In Sutherland?" she asked

"Right in Sutherland," replied he complacently. "I think I'll
buy Jake Antle's place in Jefferson Street."

Susan was blanched and trembling. "Oh, no," she cried. "You
mustn't do that!"

Jeb laughed. "You see if I don't. And we'll live in style, and
you can keep a gal and stay dolled up all the time. Oh, I know
how to treat you."

"I want to stay in the country," cried Susan. "I hate Sutherland."

"Now, don't you be afraid," soothed Jeb. "When people see you've
got a husband and money they'll not be down on you no more.
They'll forget all about your maw--and they won't know nothin'
about the other thing. You treat me right and I'll treat you
right. I'm not one to rake up the past. There ain't arry bit of
meanness about me!"

"But you'll let me stay here in the country?" pleaded Susan. Her
imagination was torturing her with pictures of herself in
Sutherland and the people craning and whispering and mocking.

"You go where I go," replied Jeb. "A woman's place is with her
man. And I'll knock anybody down that looks cockeyed at you."

"Oh!" murmured Susan, sinking back against the support.

"Don't you fret, Susie," ordered Jeb, confident and patronizing.
"You do what I say and everything'll be all right. That's the
way to get along with me and get nice clothes--do what I say.
With them that crosses me I'm mighty ugly. But you ain't a-goin'
to cross me. . . . Now, about the house. I reckon I'd better
send Keziah off right away. You kin cook?"

"A--a little," said Susan.

Jeb looked relieved. "Then she'd be in the way. Two women about
always fights--and Keziah's got the Ferguson temper. She's
afraid of me, but now and then she fergits and has a tantrum."
Jeb looked at her with a smile and a frown. "Perk up a little,"
he more than half ordered. "I don't want Keziah jeerin' at me."

Susan made a pitiful effort to smile. He eyed it sourly,
grunted, gave the mare a cut with the whip that caused her to
leap forward in a gallop. "Whoa!" he yelled. "Whoa--damn you!"
And he sawed cruelly at her mouth until she quieted down. A
turning and they were before a shallow story-and-a-half frame
house which squatted like an old roadside beggar behind a
weather-beaten picket fence. The sagging shingle roof sloped
abruptly; there were four little windows downstairs and two
smaller upstairs. The door was in the center of the house; a
weedy path led from its crooked step, between two patches of
weedy grass, to the gate in the fence.

"Whoa!" shouted Jeb, with the double purpose of stopping the
mare and informing the house of his arrival. Then to Susan: "You
git down and I'll drive round to the barn yonder." He nodded
toward a dilapidated clapboard structure, small and mean, set
between a dirty lopsided straw heap and a manure heap. "Go right
in and make yourself at home. Tell Keziah who you air. I'll be
along, soon as I unhitch and feed the mare."

Susan was staring stupidly at the house--at her new home.

"Git down," he said sharply. "You don't act as if your hearin'
or your manners was much to brag on."

He felt awkward and embarrassed with this delicately bred,
lovely child-woman in the, to him, wonderfully fine and
fashionable dress. To hide his nervousness and to brave it out,
he took the only way he knew, the only way shy people usually
know--the way of gruffness. It was not a ferocious gruffness for
a man of his kind; but it seemed so to her who had been used to
gentleness only, until these last few days. His grammar, his
untrained voice, his rough clothes, the odor of stale sweat and
farm labor he exhaled, made him horrible to her--though she only
vaguely knew why she felt so wretched and why her body shrank
from him.

She stepped down from the sulky, almost falling in her dizziness
and blindness. Jeb touched the mare with the whip and she was
alone before the house--a sweet forlorn figure, childish,
utterly out of place in those surroundings. On the threshold, in
faded and patched calico, stood a tall gaunt woman with a family
likeness to Jeb. She had thin shiny black hair, a hard brown
skin, high cheekbones and snapping black eyes. When her thin
lips parted she showed on the left side of the mouth three large
and glittering gold teeth that in the contrast made their gray,
not too clean neighbors seem white.

"Howdy!" she called in a tone of hostility.

Susan tried in vain to respond. She stood gazing.

"What d'ye want?"

"He he told me to go in," faltered Susan. She had no sense of
reality. It was a dream--only a dream--and she would awaken in
her own clean pretty pale-gray bedroom with Ruth gayly calling
her to come down to breakfast.

"Who are you?" demanded Keziah--for at a glance it was the sister.

"I'm--I'm Susan Lenox."

"Oh--Zeke Warham's niece. Come right in." And Keziah looked as
if she were about to bite and claw.

Susan pushed open the latchless gate, went up the short path to
the doorstep. "I think I'll wait till he comes," she said.

"No. Come in and sit down, Miss Lenox." And Keziah drew a
rush-bottomed rocking chair toward the doorway. Susan was
looking at the interior. The lower floor of the house was
divided into three small rooms. This central room was obviously
the parlor--the calico-covered sofa, the center table, the two
dingy chromos, and a battered cottage organ made that certain.
On the floor was a rag carpet; on the walls, torn and dirty
paper, with huge weather stains marking where water had leaked
from the roof down the supporting beams. Keziah scowled at
Susan's frank expression of repulsion for the surroundings.
Susan seated herself on the edge of the chair, put her bundle
beside her.

"I allow you'll stay to dinner," said Keziah.

"Yes," replied Susan.

"Then I'll go put on some more to cook."

"Oh, no--please don't--I couldn't eat anything--really, I
couldn't." The girl spoke hysterically.

Just then Jeb came round the house and appeared in the doorway.
He grinned and winked at Susan, looked at his sister. "Well,
Keziah," said he, "what d'ye think of her?"

"She says she's going to stay to dinner, " observed Keziah, trying
to maintain the veneer of manners she had put on for company.

The young man laughed loudly. "That's a good one--that is!" he
cried, nodding and winking at Susan. "So you ain't tole her? Well,
Keziah, I've been and gone and got married. And there _she_ is."

"Shut up--you fool!" said Keziah. And she looked apologetically
at their guest. But the expression of Susan's face made her
catch her breath. "For the Lord's sake!" she ejaculated. "She
ain't married _you!_"

"Why not?" demanded Jeb. "Ain't this a free country? Ain't I as
good as anybody?"

Keziah blew out her breath in a great gust and seated herself on
the tattered calico cover of the sofa. Susan grew deathly white.
Her hands trembled. Then she sat quiet upon the edge of the old
rush-bottomed chair. There was a terrible silence, broken by
Jeb's saying loudly and fiercely, "Keziah, you go get the
dinner. Then you pack your duds and clear out for Uncle Bob's."

Keziah stared at the bride, rose and went to the rear door. "I'm
goin' now," she answered. "The dinner's ready except for putting
on the table."

Through the flimsy partitions they heard her mounting the
uncarpeted stairs, hustling about upon an uncarpeted floor above,
and presently descending. "I'll hoof it," she said, reappearing
in the doorway. "I'll send for my things this afternoon."

Jeb, not caring to provoke the "Ferguson temper," said nothing.

"As for this here marryin'," continued Keziah, "I never allowed
you'd fall so low as to take a baby, and a bastard at that."

She whirled away. Jeb flung his hat on the table, flung himself
on the sofa. "Well--that's settled," said he. "You kin get the
dinner. It's all in there." And he jerked his head toward the
door in the partition to the left. Susan got up, moved toward
the indicated door. Jeb laughed. "Don't you think you might take
off your hat and stay awhile?" said he.

She removed her hat, put it on top of the bundle which she left
on the floor beside the rocking chair. She went into the kitchen
dining-room. It was a squalid room, its ceiling and walls
smoke-stained from the cracked and never polished stove in the
corner. The air was foul with the strong old onions stewing on
the stove. In a skillet slices of pork were frying. On the back
of the stove stood a pan of mashed potatoes and a tin coffeepot.
On the stained flowered cloth which covered the table in the
middle of the room had been laid coarse, cracked dishes and
discolored steel knives and forks with black wooden handles.
Susan, half fainting, dropped into a chair by one of the open
windows. A multitude of fat flies from the stable were running
and crawling everywhere, were buzzing about her head. She was
aroused by Jeb's voice: "Why, what the--the damnation! You've
fell asleep!"

She started up. "In a minute!" she muttered, nervously.

And somehow, with Jeb's eyes on her from the doorway, she got
the evil-smelling messes from the stove into table dishes from
the shelves and then on the table, where the flies descended
upon them in troops of scores and hundreds. Jeb, in his shirt
sleeves now, sat down and fell to. She sat opposite him, her
hands in her lap. He used his knife in preference to his fork,
leaping the blade high, packing the food firmly upon it with
fork or fingers, then thrusting it into his mouth. He ate
voraciously, smacking his lips, breathing hard, now and then
eructing with frank energy and satisfaction.

"My stummick's gassy right smart this year," he observed after
a huge gulp of coffee. "Some says the heavy rains last spring
put gas into everything, but I dunno. Maybe it's Keziah's
cooking. I hope you'll do better. Why, you ain't eatin' nothin'!"

"I'm not hungry," said Susan. Then, as he frowned suspiciously,
"I had a late breakfast."

He laughed. "And the marrying, too," he suggested with a flirtatious
nod and wink. "Women's always upset by them kind of things."

When he had filled himself he pushed his chair back. "I'll set
with you while you wash up," said he. "But you'd better take off
them Sunday duds. You'll find some calikers that belonged to maw
in a box under the bed in our room." He laughed and winked at her.

"That's the one on t'other side of the settin'-room. Yes--that's
our'n!" And he winked again.

The girl, ghastly white, her great eyes staring like a
sleepwalker's, rose and stood resting one hand on the back of
the chair to steady her.

Jeb drew a cigar from his waistcoat pocket and lighted it.
"Usually," said he, "I take a pipe or a chaw. But this bein' a
weddin' day----"

He laughed and winked again, rose, took her in his arms and
kissed her. She made a feeble gesture of thrusting him away. Her
head reeled, her stomach turned.

She got away as soon as he would release her, crossed the
sitting-room and entered the tiny dingy bedroom. The windows
were down and the bed had not yet been made. The odor was
nauseating--the staleness left by a not too clean sleeper who
abhors fresh air. Susan saw the box under the bed, knelt to draw
it out. But instead she buried her face in her hands, burst into
wild sobs. "Oh, God," she prayed, "stop punishing me. I didn't
mean to do wrong--and I'm sure my mother didn't, either. Stop,
for Thy Son's sake, amen." Now surely she would wake. God must
answer that prayer. She dared not take her palms from her eyes.
Suddenly she felt herself caught from behind. She gave a wild
scream and sprang up.

Jeb was looking at her with eyes that filled her with a fear
more awful than the fear of death. "Don't!" she cried. "Don't!"

"Never mind, hon," said he in a voice that was terrible just
because it was soft. "It's only your husband. My, but you're
purty!" And he seized her. She fought. He crushed her. He kissed
her with great slobbering smacks and gnawed at the flesh of her
neck with teeth that craved to bite.

"Oh, Mr. Ferguson, for pity's sake!" she wailed. Then she opened
her mouth wide as one gasping for breath where there is no air;
and pushing at him with all her strength she vented a series of
maniac shrieks.


LATE that afternoon Jeb returned to the house after several
hours of uneasy, aimless pottering about at barn and woodshed.
He stumped and stamped around the kitchen, then in the
sitting-room, finally he mustered the courage to look into the
bedroom, from which he had slunk like a criminal three hours
before. There she lay, apparently in the same position. Her
waxen color and her absolute stillness added fear to his sense
of guilt--a guilt against which he protested, because he felt he
had simply done what God and man expected of him. He stood in
the low doorway for some time, stood there peering and craning
until his fear grew so great that he could no longer put off
ending or confirming it.

"Sleepin'?" said he in a hoarse undertone.

She did not reply; she did not move. He could not see that she
was breathing.

"It'll soon be time to git supper," he went on--not because he
was thinking of supper but because he was desperately clutching
for something that must draw a reply from her--if she could reply.
"Want me to clean up the dinner and put the supper things on?"

She made a feeble effort to rise, sank back again. He drew an
audible sigh of relief; at least she was not what her color
had suggested.

In fact, she was morbidly conscious. The instant she had heard
him at the outer door she had begun to shiver and shake, and not
until he moved toward the bedroom door did she become quiet.
Then a calm had come into her nerves and her flesh--the calm
that descends upon the brave when the peril actually faces. As
he stood there her eyes were closed, but the smell of
him--beneath the earthy odor of his clothing the odor of the
bodies of those who eat strong, coarse food--stole into her
nostrils, into her nerves. Her whole body sickened and
shrank--for to her now that odor meant marriage--and she would
not have believed Hell contained or Heaven permitted such a
thing as was marriage. She understood now why the Bible always
talked of man as a vile creature born in sin.

Jeb was stealthily watching her ghastly face, her limp body.
"Feelin' sickish?" he asked.

A slight movement of the head in assent.

"I kin ride over to Beecamp and fetch Doc Christie."

Another and negative shake of the head, more determined. The
pale lips murmured, "No--no, thank you." She was not hating him.
He existed for her only as a symbol, in this hideous dream
called life, that was coiled like a snake about her and was
befouling her and stinging her to death.

"Don't you bother 'bout supper," said he with gruff, shamefaced
generosity. "I'll look out for myself, this onct."

He withdrew to the kitchen, where she heard him clattering
dishes and pans. Daylight waned to twilight, twilight to dusk,
to darkness. She did not think; she did not feel, except an
occasional dull pang from some bodily bruise. Her soul, her
mind, were absolutely numb. Suddenly a radiance beat upon her
eyes. All in an instant, before the lifting of her eyelids, soul
and body became exquisitely acute; for she thought it was he
come again, with a lamp. She looked; it was the moon whose beams
struck full in at the uncurtained window and bathed her face in
their mild brighteness. She closed her eyes again and presently
fell asleep--the utter relaxed sleep of a child that is worn out
with pain, when nature turns gentle nurse and sets about healing
and soothing as only nature can. When she awoke it was with a
scream. No, she was not dreaming; there was an odor in the
room--his odor, with that of a saloon added to it.

After cooking and eating supper he had taken the jug from its
concealment behind the woodbox and had proceeded to cheer his
drooped spirits. The more he drank the better content he was
with himself, with his conduct, and the clearer became his
conviction that the girl was simply playing woman's familiar
game of dainty modesty. A proper game it was too; only a man
must not pay attention to it unless he wished his woman to
despise him. When this conviction reached the point of action he
put away the jug, washed the glass, ate a liberal mouthful of
the left-over stewed onions, as he would not for worlds have his
bride catch him tippling. He put out the lamp and went to the
bedroom, chuckling to himself like a man about to play a
particularly clever and extremely good-humored practical joke.
His preparations for the night were, as always, extremely simple
merely a flinging off of his outer clothes and, in summer, his
socks. From time to time he cast an admiring amorous glance at
the lovely childlike face in the full moonlight. As he was about
to stretch himself on the bed beside her he happened to note
that she was dressed as when she came. That stylish, Sundayish
dress was already too much mussed and wrinkled. He leaned over to
wake her with a kiss. It was then that she started up with a scream.

"Oh--oh--my God!" she exclaimed, passing her hand over her brow
and staring at him with crazed, anguished eyes.

"It's jest me," said he. "Thought you'd want to git ready fur
bed, like as not."

"No, thank you, no," she stammered, drawing away toward the
inner side of the bed. "Please I want to be as I am."

"Now, don't put on, sweetness," he wheedled. "You know you're
married and 'ave got to git used to it."

He laid his hand on her arm. She had intended to obey, since
that was the law of God and man and since in all the world there
was no other place for her, nameless and outcast. But at his
touch she clenched her teeth, cried:

"No--Mr. Ferguson--please--_please_ let me be."

"Now, hon," he pleaded, seizing her with strong gentleness.
"There ain't no call to be skittish. We're married, you know."

She wrenched herself free. He seized her again. "What's the use
of puttin' on? I know all about you. You little no-name," he
cursed, when her teeth sank into his hand. For an instant, at
that reminder of her degradation, her indelible shame that made
her of the low and the vile, she collapsed in weakness. Then
with new and fierce strength she fought again. When she had
exhausted herself utterly she relaxed, fell to sobbing and
moaning, feebly trying to shelter her face from his gluttonous
and odorous kisses. And upon the scene the moon shone in all
that beauty which from time immemorial has filled the hearts of
lovers with ecstasy and of devotees with prayer.

They lay quietly side by side; he fell into a profound sleep. He
was full upon his back, his broad chest heaving in the gray
cotton undershirt, his mouth wide open with its upper fringe of
hair in disarray and agitated by his breath. Soon he began to
snore, a deafening clamor that set some loose object in the dark
part of the room to vibrating with a tapping sound. Susan
stealthily raised herself upon her elbow, looked at him. There
was neither horror nor fear in her haggard face but only
eagerness to be sure he would not awaken. She, inch by inch,
more softly than a cat, climbed over the low footboard, was
standing on the floor. One silent step at a time, with eyes
never from his face so clear in the moonlight, she made her way
toward the door. The snoring stopped--and her heart stopped with
it. He gasped, gurgled, gave a snort, and sat up.

"What--which----" he ejaculated. Then he saw her near the door.
"Hello--whar ye goin'?"

"I thought I'd undress," she lied, calmly and smoothly.

"Oh--that's right." And he lay down.

She stood in the darkness, making now and then a faint sound
suggestive of undressing. The snoring began again--soft, then
deep, then the steady, uproarious intake with the fierce
whistling exhalation. She went into the sitting-room, felt round
in the darkness, swift and noiseless. On the sofa she found her
bundle, tore it open. By feeling alone she snatched her sailor
hat, a few handkerchiefs, two stockings, a collar her fingers
chanced upon and a toothbrush. She darted to the front door, was
outside, was gliding down the path, out through the gate into
the road.

To the left would be the way she had come. She ran to the right,
with never a backward glance--ran with all the speed in her
lithe young body, ran with all the energy of her fear and horror
and resolve to die rather than be taken. For a few hundred yards
the road lay between open fields. But after that it entered a
wood. And in that dimness she felt the first beginnings of a
sense of freedom. Half a mile and open fields again, with a
small house on the right, a road southeastward on the left. That
would be away from her Uncle Zeke's and also away from
Sutherland, which lay twenty miles to the southwest. When she
would be followed Jeb would not think of this direction until he
had exhausted the other two.

She walked, she ran, she rested; she walked and ran and walked
again. The moon ascended to the zenith, crossed the levels of
the upper sky, went down in the west; a long bar of dusky gray
outlined a cloud low upon the horizon in the northeast. She was
on the verge of collapse. Her skin, the inside of her mouth,
were hot and dry. She had to walk along at snail's pace or her
heart would begin to beat as if it were about to burst and the
blood would choke up into the veins of her throat to suffocate
her. A terrible pain came in her side--came and went--came and
stayed. She had passed turning after turning, to the right, to
the left--crossroads leading away in all directions. She had
kept to the main road because she did not wish to lose time,
perhaps return upon her path, in the confusion of the darkness.
Now she began to look about her at the country. It was still the
hills as round Zeke Warham's--the hills of southeastern Indiana.
But they were steeper and higher, for she was moving toward the
river. There was less open ground, more and denser undergrowth
and forest. She felt that she was in a wilderness, was safe.
Night still lay too thick upon the landscape for her to
distinguish anything but outlines. She sat down on the ruined
and crumbling panel of a zigzag fence to rest and to wait for
light. She listened; a profound hush. She was alone, all alone.
How far had she come? She could not guess; but she knew that she
had done well. She would have been amazed if she had known how
well. All the years of her life, thanks to Mrs. Warham's good
sense about health, she had been steadily adding to the vitality
and strength that were hers by inheritance. Thus, the response
to this first demand upon them had been almost inevitable. It
augured well for the future, if the future should draw her into
hardships. She knew she had gone far and in what was left of the
night and with what was left of her strength she would put such
a distance between her and them that they would never believe
she had got so far, even should they seek in this direction. She
was supporting her head upon her hands, her elbows upon her
knees. Her eyes closed, her head nodded; she fought against the
impulse, but she slept.

When she straightened up with a start it was broad day. The
birds must have finished their morning song, for there was only
happy, comfortable chirping in the branches above her. She rose
stiffly. Her legs, her whole body, ached; and her feet were
burning and blistered. But she struck out resolutely.

After she had gone halfway down a long steep hill, she had to
turn back because she had left her only possessions. It was a
weary climb, and her heart quaked with terror. But no one
appeared, and at last she was once more at the ruins of the
fence panel. There lay her sailor hat, the handkerchiefs,
wrapped round the toothbrush, the collar--and two stockings, one
black, the other brown. And where was her purse? Not there,
certainly. She glanced round in swift alarm. No one. Yet she had
been absolutely sure she had taken her purse from the
sitting-room table when she came upon it, feeling about in the
dark. She had forgotten it; she was without a cent!

But she had no time to waste in self-reproaches or forebodings.
Though the stockings would be of no use to her, she took them
along because to leave them was to leave a trail. She hastened
down the hill. At the bottom ran a deep creek--without a bridge.
The road was now a mere cowpath which only the stoutest vehicles
or a horseman would adventure. To her left ran an even wilder
trail, following the downward course of the creek. She turned
out of the road, entered the trail. She came to a place where
the bowlders over which the creek foamed and splashed as it
hurried southeastward were big and numerous enough to make a
crossing. She took it, went slowly on down the other bank.

There was no sign of human intrusion. Steeply on either side
rose a hill, strewn with huge bowlders, many of them large as
large houses. The sun filtered through the foliage to make a
bright pattern upon the carpet of last year's leaves. The birds
twittered and chirped; the creek hummed its drowsy, soothing
melody. She was wretchedly weary, and Oh, so hungry! A little
further, and two of the great bowlders, tumbled down from the
steeps, had cut off part of the creek, had formed a pool which
their seamed and pitted and fernadorned walls hid from all
observation except that of the birds and the squirrels in the boughs.

At once she thought how refreshed she would be if she could
bathe in those cool waters. She looked round, stepped in between
the bowlders. She peered out; she listened. She was safe; she
drew back into her little inclosure. There was a small dry shelf
of rock. She hurried off her clothes, stood a moment in the
delicious warmth of the sunshine, stepped into the pool. She
would have liked to splash about; but she dared make no sound
that could be heard above the noise of the water. Luckily the
creek was just there rather loud, as it was expressing its
extreme annoyance over the stolid impudence of the interrupting
bowlders. While she was waiting for the sun to dry her she
looked at her underclothes. She simply could not put them on as
they were. She knelt at the edge of the shelf and rinsed them
out as well as she could. Then she spread them on the thick
tufts of overhanging fern where the hot sun would get full swing
at them. The brown stocking of the two mismates she had brought
along almost matched the pair she was wearing. As there was a
hole in the toe of one of them, she discarded it, and so had one
fresh stocking. She dried her feet thoroughly with the stocking
she was discarding. Then she put her corsets and her dress
directly upon her body. She could not afford to wait until the
underclothes dried; she would carry them until she found for
herself a more remote and better hiding place where she could
await nightfall. She stuffed the stocking with the hole deep
into a cleft in the rock and laid a small stone upon it so that
it was concealed. Here where there were no traces, no reminders
of the human race which had cast her out and pursued her with
torture of body and soul, here in the wilderness her spirits
were going up, and her young eyes were looking hopefully round
and forward. The up-piling horrors of those two days and their
hideous climax seemed a dream which the sun had scattered.
Hopefully! That blessed inexperience and sheer imagination of
youth enabling it to hope in a large, vague way when to hope for
any definite and real thing would be impossible.

She cleaned her tan low shoes with branches of fern and grass,
put them on. It is impossible to account for the peculiarities
of physical vanity. Probably no one was ever born who had not
physical vanity of some kind; Susan's was her feet and ankles.
Not her eyes, nor her hair, nor her contour, nor her skin, nor
her figure, though any or all of these might well have been her
pleasure. Of them she never thought in the way of pride or
vanity. But of her feet and ankles she was both proud and
vain--in a reserved, wholly unobtrusive way, be it said, so
quietly that she had passed unsuspected. There was reason for
this shy, secret self-satisfaction, so amusing in one otherwise
self-unconscious. Her feet were beautifully formed and the
curves of her instep and ankle were beautiful. She gave more
attention now to the look of her shoes and of her stockings than
to all the rest of this difficult woodland toilet. She then put
on the sailor hat, fastened the collar to her garter, slipped
the handkerchiefs into the legs of her stockings. Carrying her
underclothes, ready to roll them into a ball should she meet
anyone, she resumed her journey into that rocky wilderness. She
was sore, she had pains that were the memories of the worst
horrors of her hideous dream, but up in her strong, healthy
body, up through her strong young soul, surged joy of freedom
and joy of hope. Compared with what her lot had been until such
a few brief days before, this lot of friendless wanderer in the
wilderness was dark indeed. But she was comparing it with the
monstrous dream from which it was the awakening. She was almost
happy--and madly hungry.

An enormous bowlder, high above her and firmly fixed in the
spine of the hill, invited as a place where she could see
without being seen, could hide securely until darkness came
again. She climbed to the base of it, found that she might reach
the top by stepping from ledge to ledge with the aid of the
trees growing so close around it that some of their boughs
seemed rooted in its weather-dented cliffs. She dragged herself
upward the fifty or sixty feet, glad of the difficulties because
they would make any pursuer feel certain she had not gone that
way. After perhaps an hour she came upon a flat surface where
soil had formed, where grass and wild flowers and several little
trees gave shade and a place to sleep. And from her eyrie she
commanded a vast sweep of country--hills and valleys, fields,
creeks, here and there lonely farmhouses, and far away to the
east the glint of the river!

To the river! That was her destination. And somehow it would be
kind, would take her where she would never, never dream those
frightful dreams again!

She went to the side of the bowlder opposite that which she had
climbed. She drew back hastily, ready to cry with vexation. It
was not nearly so high or so steep; and on the slope of the hill
a short distance away was set a little farmhouse, with smoke
curling up from its rough stone chimney. She dropped to all
fours in the tall grass and moved cautiously toward the edge.
Flat upon her breast, she worked her way to the edge and looked
down. A faintly lined path led from the house through a gate in
a zigzag fence and up to the base of her fortress. The rock had
so crumbled on that side that a sort of path extended clear up
to the top. But her alarm quieted somewhat when she noted how
the path was grass-grown.

As nearly as she could judge it was about five o'clock. So that
smoke meant breakfast! Her eyes fixed hungrily upon the thin
column of violet vapor mounting straight into the still morning
air. When smoke rose in that fashion, she remembered, it was
sure sign of clear weather. And then the thought came, "What if
it had been raining!" She simply could not have got away.

As she interestedly watched the little house and its yard she
saw hurrying through the burdock and dog fennel toward the base
of her rock a determined looking hen. Susan laughed silently, it
was so obvious that the hen was on a pressing and secret
business errand. But almost immediately her attention was
distracted to observing the movements of a human being she could
obscurely make out through one of the windows just back of the
chimney. Soon she saw that it was a woman, cleaning up a kitchen
after breakfast--the early breakfast of the farmhouse in summer.

What had they had for breakfast? She sniffed the air. "I think
I can smell ham and cornbread," she said aloud, and laughed,
partly at the absurdity of her fancy, chiefly at the idea of
such attractive food. She aggravated her hunger by letting her
imagination loose upon the glorious possibilities. A stealthy
fluttering brought her glance back to the point where the hen
had disappeared. The hen reappeared, hastened down the path and
through the weeds, and rejoined the flock in the yard with an
air which seemed to say, "No, indeed, I've been right here all
the time."

"Now, what was she up to?" wondered Susan, and the answer came to
her. Eggs! A nest hidden somewhere near or in the base of the rock!

Could she get down to that nest without being seen from the
house or from any other part of the region below? She drew back
from the edge, crawled through the grass to the place where the
path, if path it could be called, reached the top. She was
delighted to find that it made the ascent through a wide cleft
and not along the outside. She let herself down cautiously as
the footway was crumbling and rotten and slippery with grass. At
the lower end of the cleft she peered out. Trees and
bushes--plenty of them, a thick shield between her and the
valleys. She moved slowly downward; a misstep might send her
through the boughs to the hillside forty feet below. She had
gone up and down several times before her hunger-sharpened eyes
caught the gleam of white through the ferns growing thickly out
of the moist mossy cracks which everywhere seamed the wall. She
pushed the ferns aside. There was the nest, the length of her
forearm into the dim seclusion of a deep hole. She felt round,
found the egg that was warm. And as she drew it out she laughed
softly and said half aloud: "Breakfast is ready!"

No, not quite ready. Hooking one arm round the bough of a tree
that shot up from the hillside to the height of the rock and
beyond, she pressed her foot firmly against the protecting root
of an ancient vine of poison ivy. Thus ensconced, she had free
hands; and she proceeded to remove the thin shell of the egg
piece by piece. She had difficulty in restraining herself until
the end. At last she put the whole egg into her mouth. And never
had she tasted anything so good.

But one egg was only an appetizer. She reached in again. She did
not wish to despoil the meritorious hen unnecessarily, so she
held the egg up in her inclosing fingers and looked through it,
as she had often seen the cook do at home. She was not sure, but
the inside seemed muddy. She laid it to one side, tried another.
It was clear and she ate it as she had eaten the first. She laid
aside the third, the fourth, and the fifth. The sixth seemed all
right--but was not. Fortunately she had not been certain enough
to feel justified in putting the whole egg into her mouth before
tasting it. The taste, however, was enough to make her reflect
that perhaps on the whole two eggs were sufficient for
breakfast, especially as there would be at least dinner and
supper before she could go further. As she did not wish to risk
another descent, she continued to sort out the eggs. She found
four that were, or seemed to be, all right. The thirteen that
looked doubtful or worse when tested by the light she restored
with the greatest care. It was an interesting illustration of
the rare quality of consideration which at that period of her
life dominated her character.

She put the four eggs in the bosom of her blouse and climbed up
to her eyrie. All at once she felt the delicious languor of body
and mind which is Nature's forewarning that she is about to put
us to sleep, whether we will or no. She lost all anxiety about
safety, looked hastily around for a bed. She found just the
place in a corner of the little tableland where the grass grew
tall and thick. She took from her bosom the four eggs--her
dinner and supper--and put them between the roots of a tree with
a cover of broad leaves over them to keep them cool. She pulled
grass to make a pillow, took off her collar and laid herself
down to sleep. And that day's sun did not shine upon a prettier
sight than this soundly and sweetly sleeping girl, with her oval
face suffused by a gentle flush, with her rounded young
shoulders just moving the bosom of her gray silk blouse, with
her slim, graceful legs curled up to the edge of her carefully
smoothed blue serge skirt. You would have said never a care,
much less a sorrow, had shadowed her dawning life. And that is
what it means to be young--and free from the curse of self-pity,
and ignorant of life's saddest truth, that future and past are
not two contrasts; one is surely bright and the other is sober,
but they are parts of a continuous fabric woven of the same
threads and into the same patterns from beginning to end.

When she awoke, beautifully rested, her eyes clear and soft, the
shadows which had been long toward the southwest were long,
though not so long, toward the southeast. She sat up and smiled;
it was so fine to be free! And her woes had not in the least
shaken that serene optimism which is youth's most delightful if
most dangerous possession. She crawled through the grass to the
edge of the rock and looked out through the screening leaves of
the dense undergrowth. There was no smoke from the chimney of
the house. The woman, in a blue calico, was sitting on the back
doorstep knitting. Farther away, in fields here and there, a few
men--not a dozen in all--were at work. From a barnyard at the
far edge of the western horizon came the faint sound of a steam
thresher, and she thought she could see the men at work around
it, but this might have been illusion. It was a serene and
lovely panorama of summer and country. Last of all her eyes

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