Part 5 out of 19
came saying, "If you want to bathe, I'll bring you a bucket of
water and you can put up your berth and do it behind your curtains."
Susan thanked her and got a most refreshing bath. When she
looked out the men were on deck, Violet was getting breakfast,
and Connemora was combing her short, thinning, yellow hair
before a mirror hung up near one of the forward doors. In the
mirror Connemora saw her, smiled and nodded.
"You can fix your hair here," said she. "I'm about done. You can
use my brush."
And when Susan was busy at the mirror, Mabel lounged on a seat
near by smoking a before-breakfast cigarette. "I wish to God
I had your hair," said she. "I never did have such a wonderful
crop of grass on the knoll, and the way it up and drops out in
bunches every now and then sets me crazy. It won't be long
before I'll be down to Vi's three hairs and a half. You haven't
seen her without her wigs? Well, don't, if you happen to be
feeling a bit off. How Burlingham can--" There she stopped, blew
out a volume of smoke, grinned half amusedly, half in sympathy
with the innocence she was protecting--or, rather, was
initiating by cautious degrees. "Who was it raised the row last
night?" she inquired.
"I don't know," said Susan, her face hid by the mass of wavy
hair she was brushing forward from roots to ends.
"You don't? I guess you've got a kind of idea, though."
No answer from the girl.
"Well, it doesn't matter. It isn't your fault." Mabel smoked
reflectively. "I'm not jealous of _him_--a woman never is. It's
the idea of another woman's getting away with her property,
whether she wants it or not--_that's_ what sets her mad-spot to
humming. No, I don't give a--a cigarette butt--for that greasy
bum actor. But I've always got to have somebody." She laughed.
"The idea of his thinking _you'd_ have _him_! What peacocks men are!"
Susan understood. The fact of this sort of thing was no longer
a mystery to her. But the why of the fact--that seemed more
amazing than ever. Now that she had discovered that her notion
of love being incorporeal was as fanciful as Santa Claus, she
could not conceive why it should be at all. As she was bringing
round the braids for the new coiffure she had adopted she said
"I?" Mabel laughed immoderately. "You can have him, if you want him."
Susan shuddered. "Oh, no," she said. "I suppose he's very
nice--and really he's quite a wonderful actor. But I--I don't
care for men."
Mabel laughed again--curt, bitter. "Wait," she said.
Susan shook her head, with youth's positiveness.
"What's caring got to do with it?" pursued Mabel, ignoring the
headshake. "I've been about quite a bit, and I've yet to see
anybody that really cared for anybody else. We care for
ourselves. But a man needs a woman, and a woman needs a man. They
call it loving. They might as well call eating loving. Ask Burly."
AT breakfast Tempest was precisely as usual, and so were the
others. Nor was there effort or any sort of pretense in this. We
understand only that to which we are accustomed; the man of
peace is amazed by the veteran's nonchalance in presence of
danger and horror, of wound and death. To these river wanderers,
veterans in the unconventional life, where the unusual is the
usual, the unexpected the expected, whatever might happen was
the matter of course, to be dealt with and dismissed. Susan
naturally took her cue from them. When Tempest said something to
her in the course of the careless conversation round the
breakfast table, she answered--and had no sense of constraint.
Thus, an incident that in other surroundings would have been in
some way harmful through receiving the exaggeration of undue
emphasis, caused less stir than the five huge and fiery mosquito
bites Eshwell had got in the night. And Susan unconsciously
absorbed one of those lessons in the science and art of living
that have decisive weight in shaping our destinies. For
intelligent living is in large part learning to ignore the
unprofitable that one may concentrate upon the profitable.
Burlingham announced that they would cast off and float down to
Bethlehem. There was a chorus of protests. "Why, we ought to
stay here a week!" cried Miss Anstruther. "We certainly caught
on last night."
"Didn't we take in seventeen dollars?" demanded Eshwell. "We
can't do better than that anywhere."
"Who's managing this show?" asked Burlingham in his suave but
effective way. "I think I know what I'm about."
He met their grumblings with the utmost good-humor and remained
inflexible. Susan listened with eyes down and burning cheeks.
She knew Burlingham was "leaving the best cow unmilked," as
Connemora put it, because he wished to protect her. She told him
so when they were alone on the forward deck a little later, as
the boat was floating round the bend below Sutherland.
"Yes," he admitted. "I've great hopes from your ballads. I want
to get you on." He looked round casually, saw that no one was
looking, drew a peculiarly folded copy of the _Sutherland
Courier_ from his pocket. "Besides"--said he, holding out the
George Warham, Esq., requests us to announce that he has
increased the reward for information as to the whereabouts of
Mrs. Susan Ferguson, his young niece, nee Susan Lenox, to one
thousand dollars. There are grave fears that the estimable and
lovely young lady, who disappeared from her husband's farm the
night of her marriage, has, doubtless in a moment of insanity,
ended her life. We hope not.
Susan lifted her gaze from this paragraph, after she had read it
until the words ran together in a blur. She found Burlingham
looking at her. Said he: "As I told you before, I don't want to
know anything. But when I read that, it occurred to me, if some
of the others saw it they might think it was you--and might do
a dirty trick." He sighed, with a cynical little smile. "I was
tempted, myself. A thousand is quite a bunch. You don't
know--not yet--how a chance to make some money--any old
way--compels a man--or a woman--when money's as scarce and as
useful as it is in this world. As you get along, you'll notice,
my dear, that the people who get moral goose flesh at the shady
doings of others are always people who haven't ever really been
up against it. I don't know why I didn't----" He shrugged his
shoulders. "Now, my dear, you're in on the secret of why I
haven't got up in the world." He smiled cheerfully. "But I may
yet. The game's far from over."
She realized that he had indeed made an enormous sacrifice for
her; for, though very ignorant about money, a thousand dollars
seemed a fortune. She had no words; she looked away toward the
emerald shore, and her eyes filled and her lip quivered. How
much goodness there was in the world--how much generosity and
"I'm not sure," he went on, "that you oughtn't to go back. But
it's your own business. I've a kind of feeling you know what
"No matter what happens to me," said she, "I'll never regret
what I've done. I'd kill myself before I'd spend another day
with the man they made me marry."
"Well--I'm not fond of dying," observed Burlingham, in the
light, jovial tone that would most quickly soothe her agitation,
"but I think I'd take my chances with the worms rather than with
the dry rot of a backwoods farm. You may not get your meals so
regular out in the world, but you certainly do live. Yes--that
backwoods life, for anybody with a spark of spunk, is simply
being dead and knowing it." He tore the _Courier_ into six
pieces, flung them over the side. "None of the others saw the
paper," said he. "So--Miss Lorna Sackville is perfectly safe."
He patted her on the shoulder. "And she owes me a thousand and
"I'll pay--if you'll be patient," said the girl, taking his jest gravely.
"It's a good gamble," said he. Then he laughed. "I guess that
had something to do with my virtue. There's always a practical
But the girl was not hearing his philosophies. Once more she was
overwhelmed and stupefied by the events that had dashed in,
upon, and over her like swift succeeding billows that give the
swimmer no pause for breath or for clearing the eyes.
"No--you're not dreaming," said Burlingham, laughing at her
expression. "At least, no more than we all are. Sometimes I
suspect the whole damn shooting-match is nothing but a dream.
Well, it's a pretty good one eh?"
And she agreed with him, as she thought how smoothly and
agreeably they were drifting into the unknown, full of the most
fascinating possibilities. How attractive this life was, how
much at home she felt among these people, and if anyone should
tell him about her birth or about how she had been degraded by
Ferguson, it wouldn't in the least affect their feeling toward
her, she was sure. "When do--do you--try me?" she asked.
"Tomorrow night, at Bethlehem--a bum little town for us. We'll
stay there a couple of days. I want you to get used to
appearing." He nodded at her encouragingly. "You've got stuff in
you, real stuff. Don't you doubt it. Get self-confidence--conceit,
if you please. Nobody arrives anywhere without it. You want to
feel that you can do what you want to do. A fool's conceit is
that he's it already. A sensible man's conceit is that he can be
it, if he'll only work hard and in the right way. See?"
"I--I think I do," said the girl. "I'm not sure."
Burlingham smoked his cigar in silence. When he spoke, it was
with eyes carefully averted. "There's another subject the spirit
moves me to talk to you about. That's the one Miss Connemora
opened up with you yesterday." As Susan moved uneasily, "Now,
don't get scared. I'm not letting the woman business bother me
much nowadays. All I think of is how to get on my feet again. I
want to have a theater on Broadway before the old black-flagger
overtakes my craft and makes me walk the plank and jump out into
the Big Guess. So you needn't think I'm going to worry you. I'm not."
"Oh, I didn't think----"
"You ought to have, though," interrupted he. "A man like me is
a rare exception. I'm a rare exception to my ordinary self, to
be quite honest. It'll be best for you always to assume that every
man you run across is looking for just one thing. You know what?"
Susan, the flush gone from her cheeks, nodded.
"I suppose Connemora has put you wise. But there are some things
even she don't know about that subject. Now, I want you to
listen to your grandfather. Remember what he says. And think it
over until you understand it."
"I will," said Susan.
"In the life you've come out of, virtue in a woman's everything.
She's got to be virtuous, or at least to have the reputation of
it--or she's nothing. You understand that?"
"Yes," said Susan. "I understand that--now."
"Very well. Now in the life you're going into, virtue in a woman
is nothing--no more than it is in a man anywhere. The woman who
makes a career becomes like the man who makes a career. How is
it with a man? Some are virtuous, others are not. But no man
lets virtue bother him and nobody bothers about his virtue.
That's the way it is with a woman who cuts loose from the
conventional life of society and home and all that. She is
virtuous or not, as she happens to incline. Her real interest in
herself, her real value, lies in another direction. If it
doesn't, if she continues to be agitated about her virtue as if
it were all there is to her--then the sooner she hikes back to
respectability, to the conventional routine, why the better for
her. She'll never make a career, any more than she could drive
an automobile through a crowded street and at the same time keep
a big picture hat on straight. Do you follow me?"
"I'm not sure," said the girl. "I'll have to think about it."
"That's right. Don't misunderstand. I'm not talking for or
against virtue. I'm simply talking practical life, and all I
mean is that you won't get on there by your virtue, and you
won't get on by your lack of virtue. Now for my advice."
Susan's look of unconscious admiration and attention was the
subtlest flattery. Its frank, ingenuous showing of her implicit
trust in him so impressed him with his responsibility that he
hesitated before he said:
"Never forget this, and don't stop thinking about it until you
understand it: Make men _as_ men incidental in your life, precisely
as men who amount to anything make women _as_ women incidental."
Her first sensation was obviously disappointing. She had
expected something far more impressive. Said she:
"I don't care anything about men."
"Be sensible! How are you to know now what you care about and
what you don't?" was Burlingham's laughing rebuke. "And in the
line you've taken--the stage--with your emotions always being
stirred up, with your thoughts always hovering round the
relations of men and women--for that's the only subject of plays
and music, and with opportunity thrusting at you as it never
thrusts at conventional people you'll probably soon find you
care a great deal about men. But don't ever let your emotions
hinder or hurt or destroy you. Use them to help you. I guess I'm
shooting pretty far over that young head of yours, ain't I?"
"Not so very far," said the girl. "Anyhow, I'll remember."
"If you live big enough and long enough, you'll go through three
stages. The first is the one you're in now. They've always
taught you without realizing it, and so you think that only the
strong can afford to do right. You think doing right makes the
ordinary person, like yourself, easy prey for those who do
wrong. You think that good people--if they're really good--have
to wait until they get to Heaven before they get a chance."
"Isn't that so?"
"No. But you'll not realize it until you pass into the second
stage. There, you'll think you see that only the strong can
afford to do wrong. You'll think that everyone, except the
strong, gets it in the neck if he or she does anything out of
the way. You'll think you're being punished for your sins, and
that, if you had behaved yourself, you'd have got on much
better. That's the stage that's coming; and what you go through
with there--how you come out of the fight--will decide your
fate--show whether or not you've got the real stuff in you. Do
Susan shook her head.
"I thought not. You haven't lived long enough yet. Well, I'll
"I'll remember," said Susan. "I'll think about it until I do understand."
"I hope so. The weather and the scenery make me feel like
philosophizing. Finally, if you come through the second stage
all right, you'll enter the third stage. There, you'll see that
you were right at first when you thought only the strong could
afford to do right. And you'll see that you were right in the
second stage when you thought only the strong could afford to do
wrong. For you'll have learned that only the strong can afford
to act at all, and that they can do right or wrong as they
please _because they are strong_."
"Then you don't believe in right, at all!" exclaimed the girl,
much depressed, but whether for the right or for her friend she
could not have told.
"Now, who said that?" Demanded he, amused. "What _did_ I say?
Why--if you want to do right, be strong or you'll be crushed;
and if you want to do wrong, take care again to be strong--or
you'll be crushed. My moral is, be strong! In this world the
good weaklings and the bad weaklings had better lie low, hide in
the tall grass. The strong inherit the earth."
They were silent a long time, she thinking, he observing her
with sad tenderness. At last he said:
"You are a nice sweet girl--well brought up. But that means
badly brought up for the life you've got to lead--the life
you've got to learn to lead."
"I'm beginning to see that," said the girl. Her gravity made him
feel like laughing, and brought the tears to his eyes. The
laughter he suppressed.
"You're going to fight your way up to what's called the
triumphant class--the people on top--they have all the success,
all the money, all the good times. Well, the things you've been
taught--at church--in the Sunday School--in the nice storybooks
you've read--those things are all for the triumphant class, or
for people working meekly along in `the station to which God has
appointed them' and handing over their earnings to their
betters. But those nice moral things you believe in--they don't
apply to people like you--fighting their way up from the meek
working class to the triumphant class. You won't believe me
now--won't understand thoroughly. But soon you'll see. Once
you've climbed up among the successful people you can afford to
indulge--in moderation--in practicing the good old moralities.
Any dirty work you may need done you can hire done and pretend
not to know about it. But while you're climbing, no Golden Rule
and no turning of the cheek. Tooth and claw then--not sheathed
but naked--not by proxy but in your own person."
"But you're not like that," said the girl.
"The more fool I," repeated he.
She was surprised that she understood so much of what he had
said--childlike wonder at her wise old heart, made wise almost
in a night--a wedding night. When Burlingham lapsed into
silence, laughing at himself for having talked so far over the
"kiddie's" head, she sat puzzling out what he had said. The
world seemed horribly vast and forbidding, and the sky, so blue
and bright, seemed far, far away. She sighed profoundly. "I am
so weak," she murmured. "I am so ignorant."
Burlingham nodded and winked. "Yes, but you'll grow," said be.
"I back you to win."
The color poured into her cheeks, and she burst into tears.
Burlingham thought he understood; for once his shrewdness went
far astray. Excusably, since he could not know that he had used
the same phrase that had closed Spenser's letter to her.
Late in the afternoon, when the heat had abated somewhat and
they were floating pleasantly along with the washing gently
a-flutter from lines on the roof of the auditorium, Burlingham
put Eshwell at the rudder and with Pat and the violin rehearsed
her. "The main thing, the only thing to worry about," explained
he, "is beginning right." She was standing in the center of the
stage, he on the floor of the auditorium beside the seated
orchestra. "That means," he went on, "you've simply got to learn
to come in right. We'll practice that for a while."
She went to the wings--where there was barely space for her to
conceal herself by squeezing tightly against the wall. At the
signal from him she walked out. As she had the utmost confidence
in his kindness, and as she was always too deeply interested in
what she and others were doing to be uncomfortably
self-conscious, she was not embarrassed, and thought she made
the crossing and took her stand very well. He nodded approvingly.
"But," said he, "there's a difference between a stage walk and
walking anywhere else--or standing. Nothing is natural on the stage.
If it were it would look unnatural, because the stage itself is
artificial and whatever is there must be in harmony with it. So
everything must be done unnaturally in such a way that it _seems_
natural. Just as a picture boat looks natural though it's painted
on a flat surface. Now I'll illustrate."
He gave her his hand to help her jump down; then he climbed to
the stage. He went to the wings and walked out. As he came he
called her attention to how he poised his body, how he advanced
so that there would be from the auditorium no unsightly view of
crossing legs, how he arranged hands, arms, shoulders, legs,
head, feet for an attitude of complete rest. He repeated his
illustration again and again, Susan watching and listening with
open-eyed wonder and admiration. She had never dreamed that so
simple a matter could be so complex. When he got her up beside
him and went through it with her, she soon became as used to the
new motions as a beginner at the piano to stretching an octave.
But it was only after more than an hour's practice that she
moved him to say:
"That'll do for a beginning. Now, we'll sing."
She tried "Suwanee River" first and went through it fairly well,
singing to him as he stood back at the rear door. He was
enthusiastic--cunning Burlingham, who knew so well how to get
the best out of everyone! "Mighty good--eh, Pat? Yes, mighty
good. You've got something better than a great voice, my dear.
You've got magnetism. The same thing that made me engage you the
minute you asked me is going to make you--well, go a long
ways--a _long_ ways. Now, we'll try `The Last Rose of Summer.'"
She sang even better. And this improvement continued through the
other four songs of her repertoire. His confidence in her was
contagious; it was so evident that he really did believe in her.
And Pat, too, wagged his head in a way that made her feel good
about herself. Then Burlingham called in the others whom he had
sent to the forward deck. Before them the girl went all to
pieces. She made her entrance badly, she sang worse. And the
worse she sang, the worse she felt and the worse her next
attempt was. At last, with nerves unstrung, she broke down and
sobbed. Burlingham climbed up to pat her on the shoulder.
"That's the best sign yet," said he. "It shows you've got
temperament. Yes--you've got the stuff in you."
He quieted her, interested her in the purely mechanical part of
what she was doing. "Don't think of who you're doing it before,
or of how you're doing it, but only of getting through each step
and each note. If your head's full of that, you'll have no room
for fright." And she was ready to try again. When she finished
the last notes of "Suwanee River," there was an outburst of
hearty applause. And the sound that pleased her most was
Tempest's rich rhetorical "Bravo!" As a man she abhorred him;
but she respected the artist. And in unconsciously drawing this
distinction she gave proof of yet another quality that was to
count heavily in the coming days. Artist he was not. But she
thought him an artist. A girl or boy without the intelligence
that can develop into flower and fruit would have seen and felt
only Tempest, the odious personality.
Burlingham did not let her off until she was ready to drop with
exhaustion. And after supper, when they were floating slowly on,
well out of the channel where they might be run down by some
passing steamer with a flint-hearted captain or pilot, she had
to go at it again. She went to bed early, and she slept without
a motion or a break until the odor of the cooking breakfast
awakened her. When she came out, her face was bright for the
first time. She was smiling, laughing, chatting, was delighted
with everything and everybody. Even the thought of Roderick
Spenser laid up with a broken leg recurred less often and less
vividly. It seemed to her that the leg must be about well. The
imagination of healthy youth is reluctant to admit ideas of
gloom in any circumstances. In circumstances of excitement and
adventure, such as Susan's at that time, it flatly refuses to
They were at anchor before a little town sprawled upon the
fields between hills and river edge. A few loafers were chewing
tobacco and inspecting the show boat from the shady side of a
pile of lumber. Pat had already gone forth with the bundle of
handbills; he was not only waking up the town, but touring the
country in horse and buggy, was agitating the farmers--for the
show boat was to stay at least two nights at Bethlehem. "And we
ought to do pretty well," said Burlingham. "The wheat's about
all threshed, and there's a kind of lull. The hayseeds aren't so
dead tired at night. A couple of weeks ago we couldn't have got
half a house by paying for it."
As the afternoon wore away and the sun disappeared behind the
hills to the southwest, Susan's spirits oozed. Burlingham and
the others--deliberately--paid no attention to her, acted as if
no great, universe-stirring event were impending. Immediately
after supper Burlingham said:
"Now, Vi, get busy and put her into her harness. Make her
a work of art."
Never was there a finer display of unselfishness than in their
eagerness to help her succeed, in their intense nervous anxiety
lest she should not make a hit. The bad in human nature, as
Mabel Connemora had said, is indeed almost entirely if not
entirely the result of the compulsion of circumstances; the good
is the natural outcropping of normal instincts, and resumes
control whenever circumstances permit. These wandering players
had suffered too much not to have the keenest and gentlest
sympathy. Susan looked on Tempest as a wicked man; yet she could
not but be touched by his almost hysterical excitement over her
debut, when the near approach of the hour made it impossible for
his emotional temperament longer to hide its agitation. Every
one of them gave or loaned her a talisman--Tempest, a bit of
rabbit's foot; Anstruther, a ring that had twice saved her from
drowning (at least, it had been on her finger each time);
Connemora, a hunchback's tooth on a faded velvet string; Pat, a
penny which happened to be of the date of her birth year (the
presence of the penny was regarded by all as a most encouraging
sign); Eshwell loaned her a miniature silver bug he wore on his
watch chain; Burlingham's contribution was a large
buckeye----"Ever since I've had that, I've never been without at
least the price of a meal in my pocket."
They had got together for her a kind of evening dress, a pale
blue chiffon-like drapery that left her lovely arms and
shoulders bare and clung softly to the lines of her figure. They
did her hair up in a graceful sweep from the brow and a simple
coil behind. She looked like a woman, yet like a child dressed
as a woman, too, for there was as always that exuberant vitality
which made each of the hairs of her head seem individual,
electric. The rouge gave her color, enhanced into splendor the
brilliance of her violet-gray eyes--eyes so intensely colored
and so admirably framed that they were noted by the least
observant. When Anstruther had put the last touches to her
toilet and paraded her to the others, there was a chorus of
enthusiasm. The men no less than the women viewed her with the
"Didn't I tell you all?" cried Burlingham, as they looked her up
and down like a group of connoisseurs inspecting a statue.
"Wasn't I right?"
"`It is the dawn, and Juliet is the east,'" orated Tempest in
rich, romantic tones.
"A damn shame to waste her on these yaps," said Eshwell.
Connemora embraced her with tearful eyes. "And as sweet as you
are lovely, you dear!" she cried. "You simply can't help winning."
The two women thought her greatest charms were her form and her
feet and ankles. The men insisted that her charm of charms was
her eyes. And certainly, much could be said for that view.
Susan's violet-gray eyes, growing grayer when she was
thoughtful, growing deeper and clearer and softer shining
violet when her emotions were touched--Susan's eyes were
undoubtedly unusual even in a race in which homely eyes are the
When it was her turn and she emerged into the glare of the
footlights, she came to a full stop and an awful wave of
weakness leaped up through legs and body to blind her eyes and
crash upon her brain. She shook her head, lifted it high like a
swimmer shaking off a wave. Her gaze leaped in terror across the
blackness of the auditorium with its thick-strewn round white
disks of human faces, sought the eyes of Burlingham standing in
full view in the center of the rear doorway--where he had told
her to look for him. She heard Pat playing the last of the
opening chords; Burlingham lifted his hand like a leader's
baton. And naturally and sweetly the notes, the words of the old
darkey song of longing for home began to float out through the
She did not take her gaze from Burlingham. She sang her best,
sang to please him, to show him how she appreciated what he had
done for her. And when she finished and bowed, the outburst of
applause unnerved her, sent her dizzy and almost staggering into
the wings. "Splendid! Splendid!" cried Mabel, and Anstruther
embraced her, and Tempest and Eshwell kissed her hands. They all
joined in pushing her out again for the encore--"Blue Alsatian
Mountains." She did not sing quite so steadily, but got through
in good form, the tremolo of nervousness in her voice adding to
the wailing pathos of the song's refrain:
Ade, ade, ade, such dreams must pass away,
But the Blue Alsatian Mountains seem to watch and wait alway.
The crowd clapped, stamped, whistled, shouted; but Burlingham
defied it. "The lady will sing again later," he cried. "The next
number on the regular program is," etc., etc. The crowd yelled;
Burlingham stood firm, and up went the curtain on Eshwell and
Connemora's sketch. It got no applause. Nor did any other
numbers on the program. The contrast between the others and the
beauty of the girl, her delicate sweetness, her vital youth, her
freshness of the early morning flower, was inevitable.
The crowd could think only of her. The quality of magnetism
aside, she had sung neither very well nor very badly. But had
she sung badly, still her beauty would have won her the same
triumph. When she came on for her second number with a
cloud-like azure chiffon flung carelessly over her dark hair as
a scarf, Spanish fashion, she received a stirring welcome. It
frightened her, so that Pat had to begin four times before her
voice faintly took up the tune. Again Burlingham's encouraging,
confident gaze, flung across the gap between them like a strong
rescuing hand, strengthened her to her task. This time he let
the crowd have two encores--and the show was over; for the
astute manager, seeing how the girl had caught on, had moved her
second number to the end.
Burlingham lingered in the entrance to the auditorium to feast
himself on the comments of the crowd as it passed out. When he
went back he had to search for the girl, found her all in a heap
in a chair at the outer edge of the forward deck. She was
sobbing piteously. "Well, for God's sake!" cried he. "Is _this_
the way you take it!"
She lifted her head. "Did I do very badly?" she asked.
"You swept 'em off their big hulking feet," replied he.
"When you didn't come, I thought I'd disappointed you."
"I'll bet my hand there never was such a hit made in a river
show boat--and they've graduated some of the swells of the
profession. We'll play here a week to crowded houses--matinees
every day, too. And this is a two-night stand usually. I must
find some more songs." He slapped his thigh. "The very thing!"
he cried. "We'll ring in some hymns. `Rock of Ages,' say--and
`Jesus, Lover of my Soul'--and you can get 'em off in a churchy
kind of costume something like a surplice. That'll knock 'em
stiff. And Anstruther can dope out the accompaniments on that
wheezer. What d'you think?"
"Whatever you want," said the girl. "Oh, I am so glad!"
"I don't see how you got through so well," said he.
"I didn't dare fail," replied Susan. "If I had, I couldn't have
faced you." And by the light of the waning moon he saw the
passionate gratitude of her sensitive young face.
"Oh--I've done nothing," said he, wiping the tears from his
eyes--for he had his full share of the impulsive, sentimental
temperament of his profession. "Pure selfishness."
Susan gazed at him with eyes of the pure deep violet of
strongest feeling. "__I_ _know what you did," she said in a low
voice. "And--I'd die for you."
Burlingham had to use his handkerchief in dealing with his eyes
now. "This business has given me hysterics," said he with a
queer attempt at a laugh. Then, after a moment, "God bless you,
little girl. You wait here a moment. I'll see how supper's
He wished to go ahead of her, for he had a shrewd suspicion as
to the state of mind of the rest of the company. And he was
right. There they sat in the litter of peanut hulls, popcorn,
and fruit skins which the audience had left. On every
countenance was jealous gloom.
"What's wrong?" inquired Burlingham in his cheerful derisive
way. "You are a nice bunch, you are!"
They shifted uneasily. Mabel snapped out, "Where's the infant
prodigy? Is she so stuck on herself already that she won't
associate with us?"
"You grown-up babies," mocked Burlingham. "I found her out there
crying in darkness because she thought she'd failed. Now you go
bring her in, Conny. As for the rest of you, I'm disgusted. Here
we've hit on something that'll land us in Easy Street, and
you're all filled up with poison."
They were ashamed of themselves. Burlingham had brought back to
them vividly the girl's simplicity and sweetness that had won
their hearts, even the hearts of the women in whom jealousy of
her young beauty would have been more than excusable. Anstruther
began to get out the supper dishes and Mabel slipped away toward
the forward deck. "When the child comes in," pursued Burlingham,
"I want to see you people looking and acting human."
"We are a lot of damn fools," admitted Eshwell. "That's why we're
bum actors instead of doing well at some respectable business."
And his jealousy went the way of Violet's and Mabel's. Pat began
to remember that he had shared in the triumph--where would she
have been without his violin work? But Tempest remained somber.
In his case better nature was having a particularly hard time of
it. His vanity had got savage wounds from the hoots and the "Oh,
bite it off, hamfat," which had greeted his impressive lecture on
the magic lantern pictures. He eyed Burlingham glumly. He
exonerated the girl, but not Burlingham. He was convinced that
the manager, in a spirit of mean revenge, had put up a job on
him. It simply could not be in the ordinary course that any
audience, without some sly trickery of prompting from an old
expert of theatrical "double-crossing," would be impatient for
a mere chit of an amateur when it might listen to his rich,
Susan came shyly--and at the first glance into her face her
associates despised themselves for their pettiness. It is
impossible for envy and jealousy and hatred to stand before the
light of such a nature as Susan's. Away from her these very
human friends of hers might hate her--but in her presence they
could not resist the charm of her sincerity.
Everyone's spirits went up with the supper. It was Pat who said
to Burlingham, "Bob, we're going to let the pullet in on the
profits equally, aren't we?"
"Sure," replied Burlingham. "Anybody kicking?"
The others protested enthusiastically except Tempest, who shot
a glance of fiery scorn at Burlingham over a fork laden with
potato salad. "Then--you're elected, Miss Sackville," said
Susan's puzzled eyes demanded an explanation. "Just this," said
he. "We divide equally at the end of the trip all we've raked
in, after the rent of the boat and expenses are taken off. You
get your equal share exactly as if you started with us."
"But that wouldn't be fair," protested the girl. "I must pay
what I owe you first."
"She means two dollars she borrowed of me at Carrollton,"
explained Burlingham. And they all laughed uproariously.
"I'll only take what's fair," said the girl.
"I vote we give it all to her," rolled out Tempest in tragedy's
tone for classic satire.
Before Mabel could hurl at him the probably coarse retort she
instantly got her lips ready to make, Burlingham's cool,
peace-compelling tones broke in:
"Miss Sackville's right. She must get only what's fair. She
shares equally from tonight on--less two dollars."
Susan nodded delightedly. She did not know--and the others did
not at the excited moment recall--that the company was to date
eleven dollars less well off than when it started from the
headwaters of the Ohio in early June. But Burlingham knew, and
that was the cause of the quiet grin to which he treated himself.
BURLINGHAM had lived too long, too actively, and too
intelligently to have left any of his large, original stock of
the optimism that had so often shipwrecked his career in spite
of his talents and his energy. Out of the bitterness of
experience he used to say, "A young optimist is a young fool. An
old optimist is an old ass. A fool may learn, an ass can't." And
again, "An optimist steams through the fog, taking it for
granted everything's all right. A pessimist steams ahead too,
but he gets ready for trouble." However, he was wise enough to
keep his private misgivings and reservations from his
associates; the leaders of the human race always talk optimism
and think pessimism. He had told the company that Susan was sure
to make a go; and after she had made a go, he announced the
beginning of a season of triumph. But he was surprised when his
prediction came true and they had to turn people away from the
next afternoon's performance. He began to believe they really
could stay a week, and hired a man to fill the streets of New
Washington and other inland villages and towns of the county
with a handbill headlining Susan.
The news of the lovely young ballad singer in the show boat at
Bethlehem spread, as interesting news ever does, and down came
the people to see and hear, and to go away exclaiming.
Bethlehem, the sleepy, showed that it could wake when there was
anything worth waking for. Burlingham put on the hymns in the
middle of the week, and even the clergy sent their families.
Every morning Susan, either with Mabel or with Burlingham, or
with both, took a long walk into the country. It was Burlingham,
by the way, who taught her the necessity of regular and
methodical long walks for the preservation of her health. When
she returned there was always a crowd lounging about the landing
waiting to gape at her and whisper. It was intoxicating to her,
this delicious draught of the heady wine of fame; and Burlingham
was not unprepared for the evidences that she thought pretty
well of herself, felt that she had arrived. He laughed to
himself indulgently. "Let the kiddie enjoy herself," thought he.
"She needs the self-confidence now to give her a good foundation
to stand on. Then when she finds out what a false alarm this jay
excitement was, she'll not be swept clean away into despair."
The chief element in her happiness, he of course knew nothing
about. Until this success--which she, having no basis for
comparison, could not but exaggerate--she had been crushed and
abused more deeply than she had dared admit to herself by her
birth which made all the world scorn her and by the series of
calamities climaxing in that afternoon and night of horror at
Ferguson's. This success--it seemed to her to give her the right
to have been born, the right to live on and hold up her head
without effort after Ferguson. "I'll show them all, before I get
through," she said to herself over and over again. "They'll be
proud of me. Ruth will be boasting to everyone that I'm her
cousin. And Sam Wright--he'll wonder that he ever dared touch
such a famous, great woman." She only half believed this
herself, for she had much common sense and small
self-confidence. But pretending that she believed it all gave
her the most delicious pleasure.
Burlingham took such frank joy in her innocent vanity--so far as
he understood it and so far as she exhibited it--that the others
were good-humored about it too--all the others except Tempest,
whom conceit and defeat had long since soured through and
through. A tithe of Susan's success would have made him
unbearable, for like most human beings he had a vanity that was
Atlantosaurian on starvation rations and would have filled the
whole earth if it had been fed a few crumbs. Small wonder that
we are ever eagerly on the alert for signs of vanity in others;
we are seeking the curious comfort there is in the feeling that
others have our own weakness to a more ridiculous degree.
Tempest twitched to jeer openly at Susan, whose exhibition was
really timid and modest and not merely excusable but
justifiable. But he dared go no further than holding haughtily
aloof and casting vaguely into the air ever and anon a tragic
sneer. Susan would not have understood if she had seen, and did
not see. She was treading the heights, her eyes upon the sky.
She held grave consultation with Burlingham, with Violet, with
Mabel, about improving her part. She took it all very, very
seriously--and Burlingham was glad of that. "Yes, she does take
herself seriously," he admitted to Anstruther. "But that won't
do any harm as she's so young, and as she takes her work
seriously, too. The trouble about taking oneself seriously is it
stops growth. She hasn't got that form of it."
"Not yet," said Violet.
"She'll wake from her little dream, poor child, long before the
fatal stage." And he heaved a sigh for his own lost
illusions--those illusions that had cost him so dear.
Burlingham had intended to make at least one stop before
Jeffersonville, the first large town on the way down. But
Susan's capacities as a house-filler decided him for pushing
straight for it. "We'll go where there's a big population to be
drawn on," said he. But he did not say that in the back of his
head there was forming a plan to take a small theater at
Jeffersonville if the girl made a hit there.
Eshwell, to whom he was talking, looked glum. "She's going
pretty good with these greenies," observed he. "But I've my
doubts whether city people'll care for anything so milk-like."
Burlingham had his doubts, too; but he retorted warmly: "Don't
you believe it, Eshie. City's an outside. Underneath, there's
still the simple, honest, grassy-green heart of the country."
Eshwell laughed. "So you've stopped jeering at jays. You've
forgotten what a lot of tightwads and petty swindlers they are.
Well, I don't blame you. Now that they're giving down to us so
freely, I feel better about them myself. It's a pity we can't
lower the rest of the program to the level of their intellectuals."
Burlingham was not tactless enough to disturb Eshwell's
consoling notion that while Susan was appreciated by these
ignorant country-jakes, the rest of the company were too subtle
and refined in their art. "That's a good idea," replied he.
"I'll try to get together some simple slop. Perhaps a melodrama,
a good hot one, would go--eh?"
After ten days the receipts began to drop. On the fifteenth day
there was only a handful at the matinee, and in the evening half
the benches were empty. "About milked dry," said Burlingham at
the late supper. "We'll move on in the morning."
This pleased everyone. Susan saw visions of bigger triumphs; the
others felt that they were going where dramatic talent, not to
say genius, would be at least not entirely unappreciated. So the
company was at its liveliest next morning as the
mosquito-infested willows of the Bethlehem shore slowly dropped
away. They had made an unusually early start, for the river
would be more and more crowded as they neared the three
close-set cities--Louisville, Jeffersonville, and New Albany,
and the helpless little show boat must give the steamers no
excuse for not seeing her. All day--a long, dreamy, summer
day--they drifted lazily downstream, and, except Tempest, all
grew gayer and more gay. Burlingham had announced that there
were three hundred and seventy-eight dollars in the japanned tin
box he kept shut up in his bag.
At dusk a tug, for three dollars, nosed them into a wharf which
adjoined the thickly populated labor quarter of Jeffersonville.
Susan was awakened by a scream. Even as she opened her eyes a
dark cloud, a dull suffocating terrifying pain, descended upon
her. When she again became conscious, she was lying upon a mass
of canvas on the levee with three strange men bending over her.
She sat up, instinctively caught together the front of the
nightdress she had bought in Bethlehem the second day there.
Then she looked wildly from face to face.
"You're all right, ma'am," said one of the men. "Not a
"What was it?" said the girl. "Where are they?"
As she spoke, she saw Burlingham in his nightshirt propped
against a big blue oil barrel. He was staring stupidly at the
ground. And now she noted the others scattered about the levee,
each with a group around him or her. "What was it?" she repeated.
"A tug butted its tow of barges into you," said someone.
"Crushed your boat like an eggshell."
Burlingham staggered to his feet, stared round, saw her. "Thank
God!" he cried. "Anyone drowned? Anyone hurt?"
"All saved--no bones broken," someone responded.
"And the boat?"
"Gone down. Nothing left of her but splinters. The barges were
full of coal and building stone."
"The box!" suddenly shouted Burlingham. "The box!"
"What kind of a box?" asked a boy with lean, dirty, and much
scratched bare legs. "A little black tin box like they keep
"That's it. Where is it?"
"It's all right," said the boy. "One of your people, a black
"Tempest," interjected Burlingham. "Go on."
"He dressed on the wharf and he had the box."
"Where is he?"
"He said he was going for a doctor. Last I seed of him he was up
to the corner yonder. He was movin' fast."
Burlingham gave a kind of groan. Susan read in his face his
fear, his suspicion--the suspicion he was ashamed of himself for
having. She noted vaguely that he talked with the policeman
aside for a few minutes, after which the policeman went up the
levee. Burlingham rejoined his companions and took command. The
first thing was to get dressed as well as might be from such of
the trunks as had been knocked out of the cabin by the barge and
had been picked up. They were all dazed. Even Burlingham could
not realize just what had occurred. They called to one another
more or less humorous remarks while they were dressing behind
piles of boxes, crates, barrels and sacks in the wharf-boat. And
they laughed gayly when they assembled. Susan made the best
appearance, for her blue serge suit had been taken out dry when
she herself was lifted from the sinking wreck; the nightgown
served as a blouse. Mabel's trunk had been saved. Violet could
wear none of her things, as they were many sizes too small, so
she appeared in a property skirt of black paper muslin, a black
velvet property basque, a pair of shoes belonging to Tempest.
Burlingham and Eshwell made a fairly respectable showing in
clothing from Tempest's trunk. Their own trunks had gone down.
"Why, where's Tempest?" asked Eshwell.
"He'll be back in a few minutes," replied Burlingham. "In fact,
he ought to be back now." His glance happened to meet Susan's;
he hastily shifted his eyes.
"Where's the box?" asked Violet.
"Tempest's taking care of it," was the manager's answer.
"Tempest!" exclaimed Mabel. Her shrewd, dissipated eyes
contracted with suspicion.
"Anybody got any money?" inquired Eshwell, as he fished in his pockets.
No one had a cent. Eshwell searched Tempest's trunk, found a
two-dollar bill and a one wrapped round a silver dollar and
wadded in among some ragged underclothes. Susan heard Burlingham
mutter "Wonder how he happened to overlook that!" But no one
"Well, we might have breakfast," suggested Mabel.
They went out on the water deck of the wharf-boat, looked down
at the splinters of the wreck lying in the deep yellow river.
"Come on," said Burlingham, and he led the way up the levee.
There was no attempt at jauntiness; they all realized now.
"How about Tempest?" said Eshwell, stopping short halfway up.
"Tempest--hell!" retorted Mabel. "Come on."
"What do you mean?" cried Violet, whose left eye was almost
closed by a bruise.
"We'll not see him again. Come on."
"Bob!" shrieked Violet at Burlingham. "Do you hear that?"
"Yes," said he. "Keep calm, and come on. "
"Aren't you going to _do_ anything?" she screamed, seizing him by
the coat tail. "You must, damn it--you must!"
"I got the policeman to telephone headquarters," said
Burlingham. "What else can be done? Come on."
And a moment later the bedraggled and dejected company filed
into a cheap levee restaurant. "Bring some coffee," Burlingham
said to the waiter. Then to the others, "Does anybody want
anything else?" No one spoke. "Coffee's all," he said to the waiter.
It came, and they drank it in silence, each one's brain busy
with the disaster from the standpoint of his own resulting ruin.
Susan glanced furtively at each face in turn. She could not
think of her own fate, there was such despair in the faces of
these others. Mabel looked like an old woman. As for Violet,
every feature of her homeliness, her coarseness, her dissipated
premature old age stood forth in all its horror. Susan's heart
contracted and her flesh crept as she glanced quickly away. But
she still saw, and it was many a week before she ceased to see
whenever Violet's name came into her mind. Burlingham, too,
looked old and broken. Eshwell and Pat, neither of whom had ever
had the smallest taste of success, were stolid, like cornered
curs taking their beating and waiting in silence for the blows
"Here, Eshie," said the manager, "take care of the three
dollars." And he handed him the bills. "I'll pay for the coffee
and keep the change. I'm going down to the owners of that tug
and see what I can do."
When he had paid they followed him out. At the curbstone he
said, "Keep together somewhere round the wharf-boat. So long."
He lifted the battered hat he was wearing, smiled at Susan.
"Cheer up, Miss Sackville. We'll down 'em yet!" And away he
went--a strange figure, his burly frame squeezed into a dingy
old frock suit from among Tempest's costumes.
A dreary two hours, the last half-hour in a drizzling rain from
which the narrow eaves of the now closed and locked wharf-boat
sheltered them only a little. "There he comes!" cried Susan; and
sure enough, Burlingham separated from the crowd streaming along
the street at the top of the levee, and began to descend the
slope toward them. They concentrated on his face, hoping to get
some indication of what to expect; but he never permitted his
face to betray his mind. He strode up the plank and joined them.
"Tempest come?" he asked.
"Tempest!" cried Mabel. "Haven't I told you he's jumped? Don't
you suppose __I_ _know him?"
"And you brought him into the company," raged Violet.
"Burlingham didn't want to take him. He looked the fool and
jackass he is. Why didn't you warn us he was a rotten thief, too?"
"Wasn't it for shoplifting you served six months in Joliet?"
"You lie--you streetwalker!" screamed Violet.
"Ladies! Ladies!" said Eshwell.
"That's what __I__ say," observed Pat.
"I'm no lady," replied Mabel. "I'm an actress."
"An actress--he-he!" jeered Violet. "An actress!"
"Shut up, all of you," commanded Burlingham. "I've got some
money. I settled for cash."
"How much?" cried Mabel and Violet in the same breath, their
quarrel not merely finished but forgotten.
"Three hundred dollars."
"For the boat and all?" demanded Eshwell. "Why, Bob----"
"They think it was for boat and all," interrupted Burlingham
with his cynical smile. "They set out to bully and cheat me.
They knew I couldn't get justice. So I let 'em believe I owned
the boat--and I've got fifty apiece for us."
"Sixty," said Violet.
"Fifty. There are six of us."
"You don't count in this little Jonah here, do you?" cried
Violet, scowling evilly at Susan.
"No--no--don't count me in," begged Susan. "I didn't lose anything."
Mabel pinched her arm. "You're right, Mr. Burlingham," said
she. "Miss Sackville ought to share. We're all in the same box."
"Miss Sackville will share," said Burlingham. "There's going to
be no skunking about this, as long as I'm in charge."
Eshwell and Pat sided with Violet. While the rain streamed, the
five, with Susan a horrified onlooker, fought on and on about
the division of the money. Their voices grew louder. They hurled
the most frightful epithets at one another. Violet seized Mabel
by the hair, and the men interfered, all but coming to blows
themselves in the melee. The wharfmaster rushed from his office,
drove them off to the levee. They continued to yell and curse,
even Burlingham losing control of himself and releasing all
there was of the tough and the blackguard in his nature. Two
policemen came, calmed them with threat of arrest. At last
Burlingham took from his pocket one at a time three small rolls
of bills. He flung one at each of the three who were opposing
his division. "Take that, you dirty curs," he said. "And be glad
I'm giving you anything at all. Most managers wouldn't have come
back. Come on, Miss Sackville. Come on, Mabel." And the two
followed him up the levee, leaving the others counting their shares.
At the street corner they went into a general store where
Burlingham bought two ninety-eight-cent umbrellas. He gave Mabel
one, held the other over Susan and himself as they walked along.
"Well, ladies," said he, "we begin life again. A clean slate, a
fresh start--as if nothing had ever happened."
Susan looked at him to try to give him a grateful and
sympathetic smile. She was surprised to see that, so far as she
could judge, he had really meant the words he had spoken.
"Yes, I mean it," said he. "Always look at life as it is--as a
game. With every deal, whether you win or lose, your stake
grows--for your stake's your wits, and you add to 'em by
learning something with each deal. What are you going to do, Mabel?"
"Get some clothes. The water wrecked mine and this rain has
finished my hat."
"We'll go together," said Burlingham.
They took a car for Louisville, descended before a department
store. Burlingham had to fit himself from the skin out; Mabel
had underclothes, needed a hat, a dress, summer shoes. Susan
needed underclothes, shoes, a hat, for she was bareheaded. They
arranged to meet at the first entrance down the side street;
Burlingham gave Susan and Mabel each their fifty dollars and
went his way. When they met again in an hour and a half, they
burst into smiles of delight. Burlingham had transformed himself
into a jaunty, fashionable young middle-aged man, with an air of
success achieved and prosperity assured. He had put the fine
finishing touch to his transformation by getting a haircut and
a shave. Mabel looked like a showy chorus girl, in a striped
blue and white linen suit, a big beflowered hat, and a fluffy
blouse of white chiffon. Susan had resisted Mabel's entreaties,
had got a plain, sensible linen blouse of a kind that on a pinch
might be washed out and worn without ironing. Her new hat was a
simple blue sailor with a dark blue band that matched her dress.
"I spent thirty-six dollars," said Burlingham.
"I only spent twenty-two," declared Mabel. "And this child here
only parted with seven of her dollars.
I had no idea she was so thrifty. "
"And now--what?" said Burlingham.
"I'm going round to see a friend of mine," replied Mabel. "She's
on the stage, too. There's sure to be something doing at the
summer places. Maybe I can ring Miss Sackville in. There ought
to be a good living in those eyes of hers and those feet and
ankles. I'm sure I can put her next to something."
"Then you can give her your address," said Burlingham.
"Why, she's going with me," cried Mabel. "You don't suppose I'd
leave the child adrift?"
"No, she's going with me to a boarding house I'll find for her,"
Into Mabel's face flashed the expression of the suspicion such
a statement would at once arouse in a mind trained as hers had
been. Burlingham's look drove the expression out of her face,
and suspicion at least into the background. "She's not going
with your friend," said Burlingham, a hint of sternness in his
voice. "That's best--isn't it?"
Miss Connemora's eyes dropped. "Yes, I guess it is," replied
she. "Well--I turn down this way."
"We'll keep on and go out Chestnut Street," said Burlingham.
"You can write to her--or to me--care of the General Delivery."
"That's best. You may hear from Tempest. You can write me there,
too." Mabel was constrained and embarrassed. "Good-by, Miss
Susan embraced and kissed her. Mabel began to weep. "Oh, it's
all so sudden--and frightful," she said. "Do try to be good,
Lorna. You can trust Bob." She looked earnestly, appealingly, at
him. "Yes, I'm sure you can. And--he's right about me. Good-by."
She hurried away, not before Susan had seen the tears falling
from her kind, fast-fading eyes.
Susan stood looking after her. And for the first time the truth
about the catastrophe came to her. She turned to Burlingham.
"How brave you are!" she cried.
"Oh, what'd be the use in dropping down and howling like a dog?"
replied he. "That wouldn't bring the boat back. It wouldn't get
me a job."
"And you shared equally, when you lost the most of all."
They were walking on. "The boat was mine, too," said he in a dry
reflective tone. "I told 'em it wasn't when we started out
because I wanted to get a good share for rent and so on, without
any kicking from anybody."
The loss did not appeal to her; it was the lie he had told. She
felt her confidence shaking. "You didn't mean to--to----" she
"To cheat them?" suggested he. "Yes, I did. So--to sort of
balance things up I divided equally all I got from the tug
people. What're you looking so unhappy about?"
"I wish you hadn't told me," she said miserably. "I don't see
why you did."
"Because I don't want you making me into a saint. I'm like the
rest you see about in pants, cheating and lying, with or without
pretending to themselves that they're honest. Don't trust
anybody, my dear. The sooner you get over the habit, the sooner
you'll cease to tempt people to be hypocrites. All the serious
trouble I've ever got into has come through trusting or being
He looked gravely at her, burst out laughing at her perplexed,
alarmed expression. "Oh, Lord, it isn't as bad as all that,"
said he. "The rain's stopped. Let's have breakfast. Then--a new
deal--with everything to gain and nothing to lose. It's a great
advantage to be in a position where you've got nothing to lose!"
BURLINGHAM found for her a comfortable room in a flat in West
Chestnut Street--a respectable middle-class neighborhood with
three churches in full view and the spires of two others visible
over the housetops. Her landlady was Mrs. Redding, a
simple-hearted, deaf old widow with bright kind eyes beaming
guilelessness through steel-framed spectacles. Mrs. Redding had
only recently been reduced to the necessity of letting a room.
She stated her moderate price--seven dollars a week for room and
board--as if she expected to be arrested for attempted
extortion. "I give good meals," she hastened to add. "I do the
cooking myself--and buy the best. I'm no hand for canned stuff.
As for that there cold storage, it's no better'n slow poison,
and not so terrible slow at that. Anything your daughter wants
I'll give her."
"She's not my daughter," said Burlingham, and it was his turn to
be red and flustered. "I'm simply looking after her, as she's
alone in the world. I'm going to live somewhere else. But I'll
come here for meals, if you're willing, ma'am."
"I--I'd have to make that extry, I'm afraid," pleaded Mrs. Redding.
"Rather!" exclaimed Burlingham. "I eat like a pair of Percherons."
"How much did you calculate to pay?" inquired the widow. Her one
effort at price fixing, though entirely successful, had
exhausted her courage.
Burlingham was clear out of his class in those idyllic days of
protector of innocence. He proceeded to be more than honest.
"Oh, say five a week."
"Gracious! That's too much," protested she. "I hate to charge a
body for food, somehow. It don't seem to be accordin' to what
God tells us. But I don't see no way out."
"I'll come for five not a cent less," insisted Burlingham. "I
want to feel free to eat as much as I like." And it was so
arranged. Away he went to look up his acquaintances, while Susan
sat listening to the widow and trying to convince her that she
and Mr. Burlingham didn't want and couldn't possibly eat all
the things she suggested as suitable for a nice supper. Susan
had been learning rapidly since she joined the theatrical
profession. She saw why this fine old woman was getting poorer
steadily, was arranging to spend her last years in an almshouse.
What a queer world it was! What a strange way for a good God to
order things! The better you were, the worse off you were. No
doubt it was Burlingham's lifelong goodness of heart as shown in
his generosity to her, that had kept him down. It was the same
way with her dead mother--she had been loving and trusting, had
given generously without thought of self, with generous
confidence in the man she loved--and had paid with reputation
She compelled Burlingham to take what was left of her fifty
dollars. "You wouldn't like to make me feel mean," was the
argument she used. "I must put in what I've got--the same as you
do. Now, isn't that fair?" And as he was dead broke and had been
unable to borrow, he did not oppose vigorously.
She assumed that after a day or two spent in getting his
bearings he would take her with him as he went looking. When she
suggested it, he promptly vetoed it. "That isn't the way
business is done in the profession," said he. "The star--you're
the star--keeps in the background, and her manager--that's me
does the hustling."
She had every reason for believing this; but as the days passed
with no results, sitting about waiting began to get upon her
nerves. Mrs. Redding had the remnant of her dead husband's
library, and he had been a man of broad taste in literature. But
Susan, ardent reader though she was, could not often lose
herself in books now. She was too impatient for realities, too
anxious about them.
Burlingham remained equable, neither hopeful nor gloomy; he made
her feel that he was strong, and it gave her strength. Thus she
was not depressed when on the last day of their week he said: "I
think we'd better push on to Cincinnati tomorrow. There's
nothing here, and we've got to get placed before our cash gives
out. In Cincinnati there are a dozen places to one in this snide town."
The idea of going to Cincinnati gave her a qualm of fear; but
it passed away when she considered how she had dropped out of
the world. "They think I'm dead," she reflected. "Anyhow, I'd
never be looked for among the kind of people I'm in with now."
The past with which she had broken seemed so far away and so dim
to her that she could not but feel it must seem so to those who
knew her in her former life. She had such a sense of her own
insignificance, now that she knew something of the vastness and
business of the world, that she was without a suspicion of the
huge scandal and excitement her disappearance had caused in
To Cincinnati they went next day by the L. and N. and took two
tiny rooms in the dingy old Walnut Street House, at a special
rate--five dollars a week for the two, as a concession to the
profession. "We'll eat in cheap restaurants and spread our
capital out," said Burlingham. "I want you to get placed _right_,
not just placed." He bought a box of blacking and a brush,
instructed her in the subtle art of making a front--an art
whereof he was past master, as Susan had long since learned.
"Never let yourself look poor or act poor, until you simply have
to throw up the sponge," said he. "The world judges by
appearances. Put your first money and your last into clothes.
And never--never--tell a hard-luck story. Always seem to be
doing well and comfortably looking out for a chance to do
better. The whole world runs from seedy people and whimperers."
"Am I--that way?" she asked nervously.
"Not a bit," declared he. "The day you came up to me in
Carrollton I knew you were playing in the hardest kind of hard
luck because of what I had happened to see and hear--and guess.
But you weren't looking for pity--and that was what I liked. And
it made me feel you had the stuff in you. I'd not waste breath
teaching a whiner or a cheap skate. You couldn't be cheap if you
tried. The reason I talk to you about these things is so you'll
learn to put the artistic touches by instinct into what you do."
"You've taken too much trouble for me," said the girl.
"Don't you believe it, my dear," laughed he. "If I can do with
you what I hope--I've an instinct that if I win out for you, I'll
come into my own at last."
"You've taught me a lot," said she.
"I wonder," replied he. "That is, I wonder how much you've
learned. Perhaps enough to keep you--not to keep from being
knocked down by fate, but to get on your feet afterward. I hope
so--I hope so."
They dropped coffee, bought milk by the bottle, he smuggling it
to their rooms disguised as a roll of newspapers. They carried
in rolls also, and cut down their restaurant meals to supper
which they got for twenty-five cents apiece at a bakery
restaurant in Seventh Street. There is a way of resorting to
these little economies--a snobbish, self-despairing way--that
makes them sordid and makes the person indulging in them sink
lower and lower. But Burlingham could not have taken that way.
He was the adventurer born, was a hardy seasoned campaigner who
had never looked on life in the snob's way, had never felt the
impulse to apologize for his defeats or to grow haughty over his
successes. Susan was an apt pupil; and for the career that lay
before her his instructions were invaluable. He was teaching her
how to keep the craft afloat and shipshape through the worst
weather that can sweep the sea of life.
"How do you make yourself look always neat and clean?" he asked.
She confessed: "I wash out my things at night and hang them on
the inside of the shutters to dry. They're ready to wear again
in the morning."
"Getting on!" cried he, full of admiration. "They simply can't
down us, and they might as well give up trying."
"But I don't look neat," sighed she. "I can't iron."
"No--that's the devil of it," laughed he. He pulled aside his
waistcoat and she saw he was wearing a dickey. "And my cuffs are
pinned in," he said. "I have to be careful about raising and
lowering my arms."
"Can't I wash out some things for you?" she said, then hurried
on to put it more strongly. "Yes, give them to me when we get
back to the hotel."
"It does help a man to feel he's clean underneath. And we've got
nothing to waste on laundries."
"I wish I hadn't spent that fifteen cents to have my heels
straightened and new steels put in them." She had sat in a
cobbler's while this repair to the part of her person she was
most insistent upon had been effected.
He laughed. "A good investment, that," said he. "I've been
noticing how you always look nice about the feet. Keep it up.
The surest sign of a sloven and a failure, of a moral, mental,
and physical no-good is down-at-the-heel. Always keep your heels
And never had he given her a piece of advice more to her liking.
She thought she knew now why she had always been so particular
about her boots and shoes, her slippers and her stockings. He
had given her a new confidence in herself--in a strength within her
somewhere beneath the weakness she was always seeing and feeling.
Not until she thought it out afterward did she realize what they
were passing through, what frightful days of failure he was
enduring. He acted like the steady-nerved gambler at life that
he was. He was not one of those more or less weak losers who
have to make desperate efforts to conceal a fainting heart. His
heart was not fainting. He simply played calmly on, feeling that
the next throw was as likely to be for as against him. She kept
close to her room, walking about there--she had never been much
of a sitter--thinking, practicing the new songs he had got for
her--character songs in which he trained her as well as he could
without music or costume or any of the accessories. He also had
an idea for a church scene, with her in a choir boy's costume,
singing the most moving of the simple religious songs to organ
music. She from time to time urged him to take her on the rounds
with him. But he stood firm, giving always the same reason of
the custom in the profession. Gradually, perhaps by some form of
that curious process of infiltration that goes on between two
minds long in intimate contact, the conviction came to her that
the reason he alleged was not his real reason; but as she had
absolute confidence in him she felt that there was some good
reason or he would not keep her in the background--and that his
silence about it must be respected. So she tried to hide from
him how weary and heartsick inaction was making her, how hard it
was for her to stay alone so many hours each day.
As he watched her closely, it soon dawned on him that something
was wrong, and after a day or so he worked out the explanation.
He found a remedy--the reading room of the public library where
she could make herself almost content the whole day long.
He began to have a haggard look, and she saw he was sick, was
keeping up his strength with whisky. "It's only this infernal
summer cold I caught in the smashup," he explained. "I can't
shake it, but neither can it get me down. I'd not dare fall
sick. What'd become of _us_?"
She knew that "us" meant only herself. Her mind had been aging
rapidly in those long periods of unbroken reflection. To develop
a human being, leave him or her alone most of the time; it is
too much company, too little time to digest and assimilate, that
keep us thoughtless and unformed until life is half over. She
astonished him by suddenly announcing one evening:
"I am a drag on you. I'm going to take a place in a store."
He affected an indignation so artistic that it ought to have
been convincing. "I'm ashamed of you!" he cried. "I see you're
losing your nerve."
This was ingenious, but it did not succeed. "You can't deceive
me any longer," was her steady answer. "Tell me honest--couldn't
you have got something to do long ago, if it hadn't been for
trying to do something for me?"
"Sure," replied he, too canny to deny the obvious. "But what has
that to do with it? If I'd had a living offer, I'd have taken
it. But at my age a man doesn't dare take certain kinds of
places. It'd settle him for life. And I'm playing for a really big
stake and I'll win. When I get what I want for you, we'll make as
much money a month as I could make a year. Trust me, my dear."
It was plausible; and her "loss of nerve" was visibly
aggravating his condition--the twitching of hands and face, the
terrifying brightness of his eyes, of the color in the deep
hollows under his cheek bones. But she felt that she must
persist. "How much money have we got?" she asked.
"Oh--a great deal enough."
"You must play square with me," said she. "I'm not a baby, but
a woman--and your partner."
"Don't worry me, child. We'll talk about it tomorrow."
"How much? You've no right to hide things from me. You--hurt me."
"Eleven dollars and eighty cents--when this bill for supper's
paid and the waitress tipped."
"I'll try for a place in a store," said she.
"Don't talk that way or think that way," cried he angrily.
"There's where so many people fail in life. They don't stick to
their game. I wish to God I'd had sense enough to break straight
for Chicago or New York. But it's too late now. What I lack is
nerve--nerve to do the big, bold things my brains show me I ought."
His distress was so obvious that she let the subject drop. That
night she lay awake as she had fallen into the habit of doing.
But instead of purposeless, rambling thoughts, she was trying
definitely to plan a search for work. Toward three in the
morning she heard him tossing and muttering--for the wall
between their rooms was merely plastered laths covered with
paper. She tried his door; it was locked. She knocked, got no
answer but incoherent ravings. She roused the office, and the
night porter forced the door. Burlingham's gas was lighted; he
was sitting up in bed--a haggard, disheveled, insane man, raving
on and on--names of men and women she had never heard--oaths,
"Brain fever, I reckon," said the porter. "I'll call a doctor."
In a few minutes Susan was gladdened by the sight of a young man
wearing the familiar pointed beard and bearing the familiar
black bag. He made a careful examination, asked her many
questions, finally said:
"Your father has typhoid, I fear. He must be taken to a hospital."
"But we have very little money," said Susan.
"I understand," replied the doctor, marveling at the calmness of one
so young. "The hospital I mean is free. I'll send for an ambulance."
While they were waiting beside Burlingham, whom the doctor had
drugged into unconsciousness with a hypodermic, Susan said: "Can
I go to the hospital and take care of him?"
"No," replied the doctor. "You can only call and inquire how he
is, until he's well enough to see you."
"And how long will that be?"
"I can't say." He hadn't the courage to tell her it would be
three weeks at least, perhaps six or seven.
He got leave of the ambulance surgeon for Susan to ride to the
hospital, and he went along himself. As the ambulance sped
through the dimly lighted streets with clanging bell and heavy
pounding of the horse's hoofs on the granite pavement, Susan
knelt beside Burlingham, holding one of his hot hands. She was
remembering how she had said that she would die for him--and here
it was he that was dying for her. And her heart was heavy with
a load of guilt, the heaviest she was ever to feel in her life.
She could not know how misfortune is really the lot of human
beings; it seemed to her that a special curse attended her,
striking down all who befriended her.
They dashed up to great open doors of the hospital. Burlingham
was lifted, was carried swiftly into the receiving room. Susan
with tearless eyes bent over, embraced him lingeringly, kissed
his fiery brow, his wasted cheeks. One of the surgeons in white
duck touched her on the arm.
"We can't delay," he said.
"No indeed," she replied, instantly drawing back.
She watched the stretcher on wheels go noiselessly down the
corridor toward the elevator and when it was gone she still
continued to look. "You can come at any hour to inquire," said
the young doctor who had accompanied her. "Now we'll go into the
office and have the slip made out."
They entered a small room, divided unequally by a barrier desk;
behind it stood a lean, coffee-sallowed young man with a scrawny
neck displayed to the uttermost by a standing collar scarcely
taller than the band of a shirt. He directed at Susan one of
those obtrusively shrewd glances which shallow people practice
and affect to create the impression that they have a genius for
character reading. He drew a pad of blank forms toward him,
wiped a pen on the mat into which his mouse-colored hair was
roached above his right temple. "Well, miss, what's the
"I don't know."
"I--I don't know. I guess he isn't very young. But I don't know."
"Put down forty, Sim," said the doctor.
"Very well, Doctor Hamilton." Then to Susan: "Color white, I
Susan recalled that she had heard him speak of Liverpool as his
birthplace. "English," said she.
"He hasn't any. It was sunk at Jeffersonville. We stop at the
Walnut Street House."
"Walnut Street House. Was he married or single?"
"Single." Then she recalled some of the disconnected ravings.
"Single," said the clerk. "No, I guess I'll put it widower. Next
friend or relative?"
"I am. "
"Daughter. First name?"
"I am not his daughter. "
"Oh, niece. Full name, please."
"I am no relation--just his--his friend."
Sim the clerk looked up sharply. Hamilton reddened, glowered at
him. "I understand," said Sim, leering at her. And in a tone
that reeked insinuation which quite escaped her, he went on,
"We'll put your name down. What is it?"
"You don't look English--not at all the English style of beauty,
"That's all, Miss Sackville," said Hamilton, with a scowl at the
clerk. Susan and he went out into Twelfth Street. Hamilton from
time to time stole a glance of sympathy and inquiry into the sad
young face, as he and she walked eastward together. "He's a
strong man and sure to pull through," said the doctor. "Are you
alone at the hotel?"
"I've nobody but him in the world," replied she.
"I was about to venture to advise that you go to a boarding
house," pursued the young man.
"Thank you. I'll see."
"There's one opposite the hospital--a reasonable place."
"I've got to go to work," said the girl, to herself rather than to him.
"Oh, you have a position."
Susan did not reply, and he assumed that she had.
"If you don't mind, I'd like to call and see--Mr. Burlingham.
The physicians at the hospital are perfectly competent, as good
as there are in the city. But I'm not very busy, and I'd be
glad to go."
"We haven't any money," said the girl. "And I don't know when we
shall have. I don't want to deceive you."
"I understand perfectly," said the young man, looking at her
with interested but respectful eyes. "I'm poor, myself, and have
"Will they treat him well, when he's got no money?"
"As well as if he paid."
"And you will go and see that everything's all right?"
"It'll be a pleasure."
Under a gas lamp he took out a card and gave it to her. She
thanked him and put it in the bosom of her blouse where lay all
the money they had--the eleven dollars and eighty cents. They
walked to the hotel, as cars were few at that hour. He did all
the talking--assurances that her "father" could not fail to get
well, that typhoid wasn't anything like the serious disease it
used to be, and that he probably had a light form of it. The
girl listened, but her heart could not grow less heavy. As he
was leaving her at the hotel door, he hesitated, then asked if
she wouldn't let him call and take her to the hospital the next
morning, or, rather, later that same morning. She accepted, she
hoped that, if he were with her, she gratefully; would be
admitted to see Burlingham and could assure herself that he was
well taken care of.
The night porter tried to detain her for a little chat. "Well,"
said he, "it's a good hospital--for you folks with money. Of
course, for us poor people it's different. You couldn't hire _me_
to go there."
Susan turned upon him. "Why not?" she asked.
"Oh, if a man's poor, or can't pay for nice quarters, they treat
him any old way. Yes, they're good doctors and all that. But
they're like everybody else. They don't give a darn for poor
people. But your uncle'll be all right there."
For the first time in her life Susan did not close her eyes in sleep.
The young doctor was so moved by her worn appearance that he
impulsively said: "Have you some troubles you've said nothing
about? Please don't hesitate to tell me."
"Oh, you needn't worry about me," replied she. "I simply didn't
sleep--that's all. Do they treat charity patients badly at the
"Certainly not," declared he earnestly. "Of course, a charity
patient can't have a room to himself. But that's no disadvantage."
"How much is a room?"
"The cheapest are ten dollars a week. That includes private
attendance--a little better nursing than the public patients
get--perhaps. But, really--Miss Sackville----"
"He must have a room," said Susan.
"You are sure you can afford it? The difference isn't----"
"He must have a room." She held out a ten-dollar bill--ten
dollars of the eleven dollars and eighty cents. "This'll pay for
the first week. You fix it, won't you?"
Young Doctor Hamilton hesitatingly took the money. "You are
quite, quite sure, Miss Sackville?--Quite sure you can afford
this extravagance--for it is an extravagance."
"He must have the best we can afford," evaded she.
She waited in the office while Hamilton went up. When he came
down after perhaps half an hour, he had an air of cheerfulness.
"Everything going nicely," said he.
Susan's violet-gray eyes gazed straight into his brown eyes; and
the brown eyes dropped. "You are not telling me the truth," said she.
"I'm not denying he's a very sick man," protested Hamilton.
She could not pronounce the word.
"Nothing like that--believe me, nothing. He has the chances all with him."
And Susan tried to believe. "He will have a room?"
"He has a room. That's why I was so long. And I'm glad he
has--for, to be perfectly honest, the attendance--not the
treatment, but the attendance--is much hetter for private
Susan was looking at the floor. Presently she drew a long
breath, rose. "Well, I must be going," said she. And she went to
the street, he accompanying her.
"If you're going back to the hotel," said he, "I'm walking that way."
"No, I've got to go this way," replied she, looking up Elm Street.
He saw she wished to be alone, and left her with the promise to
see Burlingham again that afternoon and let her know at the
hotel how he was getting on. He went east, she north. At the
first corner she stopped, glanced back to make sure he was not
following. From her bosom she drew four business cards. She had
taken the papers from the pockets of Burlingham's clothes and
from the drawer of the table in his room, to put them all
together for safety; she had found these cards, the addresses
of theatrical agents. As she looked at them, she remembered
Burlingham's having said that Blynn--Maurice Blynn, at Vine and
Ninth Streets--might give them something at one of the "over the
Rhine" music halls, as a last resort. She noted the address, put
away the cards and walked on, looking about for a policeman.
Soon she came to a bridge over a muddy stream--a little river,
she thought at first, then remembered that it must be the
canal--the Rhine, as it was called, because the city's huge
German population lived beyond it, keeping up the customs and
even the language of the fatherland. She stood on the bridge,
watching the repulsive waters from which arose the stench of
sewage; watching canal boats dragged drearily by mules with
harness-worn hides; followed with her melancholy eyes the course
of the canal under bridge after bridge, through a lane of dirty,
noisy factories pouring out from lofty chimneys immense clouds
of black smoke. It ought to have been a bright summer day, but
the sun shone palely through the dense clouds; a sticky, sooty
moisture saturated the air, formed a skin of oily black ooze
over everything exposed to it. A policeman, a big German, with
stupid honest face, brutal yet kindly, came lounging along.
"I beg your pardon," said Susan, "but would you mind telling me
where--" she had forgotten the address, fumbled in her bosom for
the cards, showed him Blynn's card--"how I can get to this?"
The policeman nodded as he read the address. "Keep on this way,
lady"--he pointed his baton south--"until you've passed four
streets. At the fifth street turn east. Go one--two--three--
four--five streets east. Understand?"
"Yes, thank you," said the girl with the politeness of deep gratitude.
"You'll be at Vine. You'll see the name on the street lamp.
Blynn's on the southwest corner. Think you can find it?"
"I'm sure I can."
"I'm going that way," continued the policeman.
"But you'd better walk ahead. If you walked with me, they'd
think you was pinched--and we'd have a crowd after us." And he
laughed with much shaking of his fat, tightly belted body.
Susan contrived to force a smile, though the suggestion of such
a disgraceful scene made her shudder. "Thank you so much. I'm
sure I'll find it." And she hastened on, eager to put distance
between herself and that awkward company.
"Don't mention it, lady," the policeman called after her, tapping
his baton on the rim of his helmet, as a mark of elegant courtesy.
She was not at ease until, looking back, she no longer saw the
bluecoat for the intervening crowds. After several slight
mistakes in the way, she descried ahead of her a large sign
painted on the wall of a three-story brick building:
MAURICE BLYNN, THEATRICAL AGENT
ALL KINDS OF TALENT PLACED AND SUPPLIED
After some investigation she discovered back of the saloon which
occupied the street floor a grimy and uneven wooden staircase
leading to the upper stories. At the first floor she came face
to face with a door on the glass of which was painted the same
announcement she had read from the wall. She knocked timidly,
then louder. A shrill voice came from the interior:
"The door's open. Come in."
She turned the knob and entered a small, low-ceilinged room
whose general grime was streaked here and there with smears of
soot. It contained a small wooden table at which sprawled a
freckled and undernourished office boy, and a wooden bench where
fretted a woman obviously of "the profession." She was dressed
in masses of dirty white furbelows. On her head reared a big
hat, above an incredible quantity of yellow hair; on the hat
were badly put together plumes of badly curled ostrich feathers.
Beneath her skirt was visible one of her feet; it was large and
fat, was thrust into a tiny slipper with high heel ending under
the arch of the foot. The face of the actress was young and
pertly pretty, but worn, overpainted, overpowdered and
underwashed. She eyed Susan insolently.
"Want to see the boss?" said the boy.
"If you please," murmured Susan.
"I'm looking for a--for a place."
The boy examined her carefully. "Appointment?"
"No, sir," replied the girl.
"Well--he'll see you, anyhow," said the boy, rising.
The mass of plumes and yellow bangs and furbelows on the bench
became violently agitated. "I'm first," cried the actress.
"Oh, you sit tight, Mame," jeered the boy. He opened a solid
door behind him. Through the crack Susan saw busily writing at
a table desk a bald, fat man with a pasty skin and a veined and
"Lady to see you," said the boy in a tone loud enough for both
Susan and the actress to hear.
"Who? What name?" snapped the man, not ceasing or looking up.
"She's young, and a queen," said the boy. "Shall I show her in?"
The actress started up. "Mr. Blynn----" she began in a loud,
threatening, elocutionary voice.
"'Lo, Mame," said Blynn, still busy. "No time to see you.
Nothing doing. So long."
"But, Mr. Blynn----"
"Bite it off, Mame," ordered the boy. "Walk in, miss."
Susan, deeply colored from sympathy with the humiliated actress
and from nervousness in those forbidding and ominous
surroundings, entered the private office. The boy closed the
door behind her. The pen scratched on. Presently the man said:
"Well, my dear, what's your name?"
With the last word, the face lifted and Susan saw a seamed and
pitted skin, small pale blue eyes showing the white, or rather
the bloodshot yellow all round the iris, a heavy mouth and jaw,
thick lips; the lower lip protruded and was decorated with a
blue-black spot like a blood boil, as if to indicate where the
incessant cigar usually rested. At first glance into Susan's
sweet, young face the small eyes sparkled and danced, traveled
on to the curves of her form.
"Do sit down, my dear," said he in a grotesquely wheedling
voice. She took the chair close to him as it was the only one in
the little room.
"What can I do for you? My, how fresh and pretty you are!"
"Mr. Burlingham----" began Susan.
"Oh--you're the girl Bob was talking about." He smiled and
nodded at her. "No wonder he kept you out of sight." He
inventoried her charms again with his sensual, confident glance.
"Bob certainly has got good taste."
"He's in the hospital," said Susan desperately. "So I've come to
get a place if you can find me one."
"Hospital? I'm sorry to hear that." And Mr. Blynn's tones had
that accent of deep sympathy which get a man or woman without
further evidence credit for being "kind-hearted whatever else he is."
"Yes, he's very ill--with typhoid," said the girl. "I must do
something right away to help him."
"That's fine--fine," said Mr. Blynn in the same effective tone.
"I see you're as sweet as you are pretty. Yes--that's
fine--fine!" And the moisture was in the little eyes. "Well, I
think I can do something for you. I _must_ do something for you.
Had much experience?--Professional, I mean."
Mr. Blynn laughed at his, to Susan, mysterious joke. Susan
smiled faintly in polite response. He rubbed his hands and
smacked his lips, the small eyes dancing. The moisture had vanished.
"Oh, yes, I can place you, if you can do anything at all," he
went on. "I'd 'a' done it long ago, if Bob had let me see you.
But he was too foxy. He ought to be ashamed of himself, standing
in the way of your getting on, just out of jealousy. Sing or
"I can sing a little, I think," said Susan.
"Now, that's modest. Ever worn tights?"
Susan shook her head, a piteous look in her violet-gray eyes.
"Oh, you'll soon get used to that. And mighty well you'll look
in 'em, I'll bet, eh? Where did Bob get you? And when?" Before
she could answer, he went on, "Let's see, I've got a date for
this evening, but I'll put it off. And she's a peach, too. So