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T. Tembarom by Frances Hodgson Burnett

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hitting things animate and inanimate with magnificent precision of

He stood still now and listened to the silence.

"There's not a sound within a thousand miles of the place. What do
fellows with money DO to keep themselves alive?" he said piteously.
"They've got to do SOMETHING. Shall I have to go out and take a walk,
as Palford called it? Take a walk, by gee!"

He couldn't conceive it, a man "taking a walk" as though it were
medicine--a walk nowhere, to reach nothing, just to go and turn back

"I'll begin and take in sewing," he said, "or I'll open a store in the
village--a department store. I could spend something on that. I'll ask
Pearson what he thinks of it-- or Burrill. I'd like to see Burrill if
I said that to him."

He decided at last that he would practise his "short" awhile; that
would be doing something, at any rate. He sat down at the big writing-
table and began to dash off mystic signs at furious speed. But the
speed did not keep up. The silence of the great room, of the immense
house, of all the scores of rooms and galleries and corridors, closed
in about him. He had practised his "short" in the night school, with
the "L" thundering past at intervals of five minutes; in the newspaper
office, with all the babel of New York about him and the bang of
steam-drills going on below in the next lot, where the foundation of a
new building was being excavated; he had practised it in his hall
bedroom at Mrs. Bowse's, to the tumultuous accompaniment of street
sounds and the whizz and TING-A-LING of street-cars dashing past, and
he had not been disturbed. He had never practised it in any place
which was silent, and it was the silence which became more than he
could stand. He actually jumped out of his chair when he heard
mysterious footsteps outside the door, and a footman appeared and
spoke in a low voice which startled him as though it had been a

"A young person with her father wants to see you, sir," he announced.
"I don't think they are villagers, but of the working-class, I should

"Where are they?"

"I didn't know exactly what to do, sir, so I left them in the hall.
The young person has a sort of quiet, determined way--"

"Little Ann, by gee!" exclaimed Tembarom with mad joy, and shot out of
the room.

The footman--he had not seen Little Ann when she had brought
Strangeways--looked after him and rubbed his chin.

"Wouldn't you call that a rummy sort for Temple Barholm?" he said to
one of his fellows who had appeared in the hall near him.

"It's not my sort," was the answer. "I'm going to give notice to old

Hutchinson and Little Ann were waiting in the hall. Hutchinson was
looking at the rich, shadowy spaces about him with a sort of proud
satisfaction. Fine, dark corners with armored figures lurking in them,
ancient portraits, carved oak settles, and massive chairs and
cabinets--these were English, and he was an Englishman, and somehow
felt them the outcome of certain sterling qualities of his own. He
looked robustly well, and wore a new rough tweed suit such as one of
the gentry might tramp about muddy roads and fields in. Little Ann was
dressed in something warm and rough also, a brown thing, with a little
close, cap-like, brown hat, from under which her red hair glowed. The
walk in the cold, white fog had made her bloom fresh, soft-red and
white-daisy color. She was smiling, and showing three distinct
dimples, which deepened when Tembarom dashed out of the library.

"Hully gee!" he cried out, "but I'm glad to see you!"

He shook hands with both of them furiously, and two footmen stood and
looked at the group with image-like calm of feature, but with
curiously interested eyes. Hutchinson was aware of them, and
endeavored to present to them a back which by its stolid composure
should reveal that he knew more about such things than this chap did
and wasn't a bit upset by grandeur.

"Hully gee!" cried Tembarom again, "how glad I am! Come on in and sit
down and let's talk it over."

Burrill made a stately step forward, properly intent on his duty, and
his master waved him back.

"Say," he said hastily, "don't bring in any tea. They don't want it.
They're Americans."

Hutchinson snorted. He could not stand being consigned to ignominy
before the footmen.

"Nowt o' th' sort," he broke forth. " We're noan American. Tha'rt
losing tha head, lad."

"He's forgetting because he met us first in New York," said Little
Ann, smiling still more.

"Shall I take your hat and cane, sir?" inquired Burrill, unmovedly, at
Hutchinson's side.

"He wasn't going to say anything about tea," explained Little Ann as
they went into the library. "They don't expect to serve tea in the
middle of the morning, Mr. Temple Barholm."

"Don't they?" said Tembarom, reckless with relieved delight. "I
thought they served it every time the clock struck. When we were in
London it seemed like Palford had it when he was hot and when he was
cold and when he was glad and when he was sorry and when he was going
out and when he was coming in. It's brought up to me, by jinks! as
soon as I wake, to brace me up to put on my clothes--and Pearson wants
to put those on."

He stopped short when they reached the middle of the room and looked
her over.

"O Little Ann!" he breathed tumultuously. "0 Little Ann!"

Mr. Hlutchinson was looking about the library as he had looked about
the hall.

"Well, I never thought I'd get inside Temple Barlholm in my day," he
exclaimed. "Eh, lad, tha must feel like bull in a china shop."

"I feel like a whole herd of 'em," answered Tembarom. Hutchinson
nodded. He understood.

"Well, perhaps tha'll get over it in time," he conceded, "but it'll
take thee a good bit." Then he gave him a warmly friendly look. "I'll
lay you know what Ann came with me for to-day." The way Little Ann
looked at him--the way she looked at him!

"I came to thank you, Mr. Temple Barholm," she said--"to thank you."
And there was an odd, tender sound in her voice.

"Don't you do it, Ann," Tembarom answered. "Don't you do it."

"I don't know much about business, but the way you must have worked,
the way you must have had to run after people, and find them, and make
then listen, and use all your New York cleverness--because you ARE
clever. The way you've forgotten all about yourself and thought of
nothing but father and the invention! I do know enough to understand
that, and it seems as if I can't think of enough to say. I just wish I
could tell you what it means to me." Two round pearls of tears brimmed
over and fell down her cheeks. "I promised mother FAITHFUL I'd take
care of him and see he never lost hope about it," she added, "and
sometimes I didn't know whatever I was going to do."

It was perilous when she looked at one like that, and she was so
little and light that one could have snatched her up in his arms and
carried her to the big arm-chair and sat down with her and rocked her
backward and forward and poured forth the whole thing that was making
him feel as though he might explode.

Hutchinson provided salvation.

"Tha pulled me out o' the water just when I was going under, lad. God
bless thee!" he broke out, and shook his hand with rough vigor. "I
signed with the North Electric yesterday."

"Good business!" said Tembarom. "Now I'm in on the ground floor with
what's going to be the biggest money-maker in sight."

"The way tha talked New York to them chaps took my fancy," chuckled
Hutchinson. "None o' them chaps wants to be the first to jump over the

"We've got 'em started now," exulted Tembarom.

"Tha started 'em," said Hutchinson, "and it's thee I've got to thank."

"Say, Little Ann," said Tembarom, with sudden thought, "who's come
into money now? You'll have it to burn."

"We've not got it yet, Mr. Temple Barholm," she replied, shaking her
head. "Even when inventions get started, they don't go off like sky-

"She knows everything, doesn't she?" Tembarom said to Hutchinson.
"Here, come and sit down. I've not seen you for 'steen years."

She took her seat in the big arm-chair and looked at him with softly
examining eyes, as though she wanted to understand him sufficiently to
be able to find out something she ought to do if he needed help.

He saw it and half laughed, not quite unwaveringly.

"You'll make me cry in a minute," he said. " You don't know what it's
like to have some one from home and mother come and be kind to you."

"How is Mr. Strangeways?" she inquired.

"He's well taken care of, at any rate. That's where he's got to thank
you. Those rooms you and the housekeeper chose were the very things
for him. They're big and comfortable, and 'way off in a place where no
one's likely to come near. The fellow that's been hired to valet me
valets him instead, and I believe he likes it. It seems to come quite
natural to him, any how. I go in and see him every now and then and
try to get him to talk. I sort of invent things to see if I can start
him thinking straight. He's quieted down some and he looks better.
After a while I'm going to look up some big doctors in London and find
out which of 'em's got the most plain horse sense. If a real big one
would just get interested and come and see him on the quiet and not
get him excited, he might do him good. I'm dead stuck on this stunt
I've set myself--getting him right. It's something to work on."

"You'll have plenty to work on soon," said Little Ann. "There's a lot
of everyday things you've got to think about. They may seem of no
consequence to you, but they ARE, Mr. Temple Barholm."

"If you say they are, I guess they are," he answered. "I'll do
anything you say, Ann."

"I came partly to tell you about some of them to-day," she went on,
keeping the yearningly thoughtful eyes on him. It was rather hard for
her, too, to be firm enough when there was so much she wanted to say
and do. And he did not look half as twinkling and light-heartedly
grinning as he had looked in New York.

He couldn't help dropping his voice a little coaxingly, though Mr.
Hutchinson was quite sufficiently absorbed in examination of his

"Didn't you come to save my life by letting me have a look at you,
Little Ann--didn't you?" he pleaded.

She shook her wonderful, red head.

"No, I didn't, Mr. Temple Barholm," she answered with Manchester
downrightness. " When I said what I did in New York, I meant it. I
didn't intend to hang about here and let you--say things to me. You
mustn't say them. Father and me are going back to Manchester in a few
days, and very soon we have to go to America again because of the

"America!" he said. "Oh, Lord!" he groaned. "Do you want me to drop
down dead here with a dull, sickening thud, Ann? "

"You're not going to drop down dead," she replied convincedly. "You're
going to stay here and do whatever it's your duty to do, now you've
come into Temple Barholm."

"Am I?" he answered. "Well, we'll see what I'm going to do when I've
had time to make up my mind. It may be something different from what
you'd think, and it mayn't. Just now I'm going to do what you tell me.
Go ahead, Little Ann."

She thought the matter over with her most destructive little air of
sensible intentness.

"Well, it may seem like meddling, but it isn't," she began rather
concernedly. "It's just that I'm used to looking after people. I
wanted to talk to you about your clothes."

"My clothes?" he replied, bewildered a moment; but the next he
understood and grinned. "I haven't got any. My valet--think of T. T.
with a valet!--told me so last night."

"That's what I thought," she said maternally." I got Mrs. Bowse to
write to me, and she told me you were so hurried and excited you
hadn't time for anything."

"I just rushed into Cohen's the last day and yanked a few things off
the ready-made counter."

She looked him over with impersonal criticism.

"I thought so. Those you've got on won't do at all."

Tembarom glanced at them.

"That's what Pearson says."

"They're not the right shape," she explained. "I know what a
gentleman's clothes mean in England, and--" her face flushed, and
sudden, warm spirit made her speak rather fast-- "I couldn't ABIDE to
think of you coming here and--being made fun of--just because you
hadn't the right clothes."

She said it, the little thing, as though he were hers--her very own,
and defend him against disrespect she WOULD. Tembarom, being but young
flesh and blood, made an impetuous dart toward her, and checked
himself, catching his breath.

"Ann," he said, "has your grandmother got a dog?"

"Y-e-s," she said, faltering because she was puzzled.

"How big is he?"

"He's a big one. He's a brindled bulldog. Why?"

"Well," he said, half pathetic, half defiant, "if you're going to come
and talk to me like that, and look like that, you've got to bring that
bull along and set him on me when I make a break; for there's nothing
but a dog can keep me where you want me to stay--and a big one at

He sat down on an ottoman near her and dropped his head on his hands.
It was not half such a joke as it sounded.

Little Ann saw it wasn't and she watched him tenderly, catching her
breath once quickly. Men had ways of taking some things hard and
feeling them a good bit more than one would think. It made trouble
many a time if one couldn't help them to think reasonable.

"Father," she said to Hutchinson.

"Aye," he answered, turning round.

"Will you tell Mr. Temple Barholm that you think I'm right about
giving him his chance?"

"Of course I think she's right," Hutchinson blustered, "and it isn't
the first time either. I'm not going to have my lass married into any
family where she'd be looked down upon."

But that was not what Little Ann wanted; it was not, in fact, her
argument. She was not thinking of that side of the situation.

"It's not me that matters so much, Father," she said; "it's him."

"Oh, is it?" disagreed Hutchinson, dictatorially. "That's not th' road
I look at it. I'm looking after you, not him. Let him take care of
himself. No chap shall put you where you won't be looked up to, even
if I AM grateful to him. So there you have it."

"He can't take care of himself when he feels like this," she answered.
"That's WHY I'm taking care of him. He'll think steadier when he's
himself again." She put out her hand and softly touched his shoulder.

"Don't do that," she said. "You make me want to be silly." There was a
quiver in her voice, but she tried to change it. "If you don't lift
your head," she added with a great effort at disciplinarian firmness,
"I shall have to go away without telling you the other things."

He lifted his head, but his attempt at a smile was not hilarious.

"Well, Ann," he submitted, " I've warned you. Bring along your dog."

She took a sheet of paper out of one of the neat pockets in her rough,
brown coat.

"I just wrote down some of the very best tailors' addresses --the very
best," she explained. "Don't you go to any but the very best, and be a
bit sharp with them if they're not attentive. They'll think all the
better of you. If your valet's a smart one, take him with you."

"Yes, Ann," he said rather weakly. "He's going to make a list of
things himself, anyhow."

"That sounds as if he'd got some sense." She handed him the list of
addresses. "You give him this, and tell him he must go to the very
best ones."

"What do I want to put on style for?" he asked desperately. "I don't
know a soul on this side of the Atlantic Ocean."

"You soon will," she replied, with calm perspicacity. "You've got too
much money not to."

A gruff chuckle made itself heard from Hutchinson's side of the room.

"Aye, seventy thousand a year'll bring th' vultures about thee, lad."

"We needn't call them vultures exactly," was Little Ann's tolerant
comment; "but a lot of people will come here to see you. That was one
of the things I thought I might tell you about."

"Say, you're a wonder!"

"I'm nothing of the sort. I'm just a girl with a bit of common sense--
and grandmother's one that's looked on a long time, and she sees
things. The country gentlemen will begin to call on you soon, and then
you'll be invited to their houses to meet their wives and daughters,
and then you'll be kept pretty busy."

Hutchinson's bluff chuckle broke out again.

"You will that, my lad, when th' match-making mothers get after you.
There's plenty on 'em."

"Father's joking," she said. Her tone was judicially unprejudiced.
"There are young ladies that--that'd be very suitable. Pretty ones and
clever ones. You'll see them all."

"I don't want to see them."

"You can't help it," she said, with mild decision. "When there are
daughters and a new gentleman comes into a big property in the
neighborhood, it's nothing but natural that the mothers should be a
bit anxious."

"Aye, they'll be anxious enough. Mak' sure o' that," laughed

"Is that what you want me to put on style for, Little Ann?" Tembarom
asked reproachfully.

"I want you to put it on for yourself. I don't want you to look
different from other men. Everybody's curious about you. They're ready
to LAUGH because you came from America and once sold newspapers."

"It's the men he'll have to look out for," Hutchinson put in, with an
experienced air. "There's them that'll want to borrow money, and them
that'll want to drink and play cards and bet high. A green American
lad'll be a fine pigeon for them to pluck. You may as well tell him,
Ann; you know you came here to do it."

"Yes, I did," she admitted. "I don't want you to seem not to know what
people are up to and what they expect."

That little note of involuntary defense was a dangerous thing for
Tembarom. He drew nearer.

"You don't want them to take me for a fool, Little Ann. You're
standing up for me; that's it."

"You can stand up for yourself, Mr. Temple Barholm, if you're not
taken by surprise," she said confidently. "If you understand things a
bit, you won't be."

His feelings almost overpowered him.

"God bless your dear little soul!" he broke out. "Say, if this goes
on, that dog of your grandmother's wouldn't have a show, Ann. I should
bite him before he could bite me."

"I won't go on if you can't be sensible, Mr. Temple Barholm. I shall
just go away and not come back again. That's what I shall do." Her
tone was that of a young mother.

He gave in incontinently.

"Good Lord! no!" he exclaimed. "I'll do anything if you'll stay. I'll
lie down on the mat and not open my mouth. Just sit here and tell me
things. I know you won't let me hold your hand, but just let me hold a
bit of your dress and look at you while you talk." He took a bit of
her brown frock between his fingers and held it, gazing at her with
all his crude young soul in his eyes. "Now tell me," he added.

"There's only one or two things about the people who'll come to Temple
Barholm. Grandmother's talked it over with me. She knew all about
those that came in the late Mr. Temple Barholm's time. He used to hate
most of them."

"Then why in thunder did he ask them to come?"

"He didn't. They've got clever, polite ways of asking themselves
sometimes. He couldn't bear the Countess of Mallowe. She'll come.
Grandmother says you may be sure of that."

"What'll she come for?"

Little Ann's pause and contemplation of him were fraught with

"She'll come for you," at last she said.

"She's got a daughter she thinks ought to have been married eight
years ago," announced Hutchinson.

Tembarom pulled at the bit of brown tweed he held as though it were a
drowning man's straw.

"Don't you drive me to drink, Ann," he said. "I'm frightened. Your
grandmother will have to lend ME the dog."

This was a flightiness which Little Ann did not encourage.

"Lady Joan--that's her daughter--is very grand and haughty. She's a
great beauty. You'll look at her, but perhaps she won't look at you.
But it's not her I'm troubled about. I'm thinking of Captain Palliser
and men like him."

"Who's he?"

"He's one of those smooth, clever ones that's always getting up some
company or other and selling the stock. He'll want you to know his
friends and he'll try to lead you his way."

As Tembarom held to his bit of her dress, his eyes were adoring ones,
which was really not to be wondered at. She WAS adorable as her soft,
kind, wonderfully maternal girl face tried to control itself so that
it should express only just enough to help and nothing to disturb.

"I don't want him to spoil you. I don't want anything to make you--
different. I couldn't bear it."

He pulled the bit of dress pleadingly.

"Why, Little Ann?" he implored quite low.

"Because," she said, feeling that perhaps she was rash-- "because if
you were different, you wouldn't be T. Tembarom; and it was T.
Tembarom that--that was T. Tembarom," she finished hastily.

He bent his head down to the bit of tweed and kissed it.

"You just keep looking after me like that," he said, "and there's not
one of them can get away with me."

She got up, and he rose with her. There was a touch of fire in the
forget-me-not blue of her eyes.

"Just you let them see--just you let them see that you're not one they
can hold light and make use of." But there she stopped short, looking
up at him. He was looking down at her with a kind of matureness in his
expression. "I needn't be afraid," she said. "You can take care of
yourself; I ought to have known that."

"You did," he said, smiling; "but you wanted to sort of help me. And
you've done it, by gee! just by saying that thing about T. Tembarom.
You set me right on my feet. That's YOU."

Before they went away they paid a visit to Strangeways in his remote,
undisturbed, and beautiful rooms. They were in a wing of the house
untouched by any ordinary passing to and fro, and the deep windows
looked out upon gardens which spring and summer would crowd with
loveliness from which clouds of perfume would float up to him on days
when the sun warmed and the soft airs stirred the flowers, shaking the
fragrance from their full incense-cups. But the white fog shut out to-
day even their winter bareness. There were light and warmth inside,
and every added charm of rich harmony of deep color and comfort made
beautiful. There were books and papers waiting to be looked over, but
they lay untouched on the writing-table, and Strangeways was sitting
close to the biggest window, staring into the fog. His eyes looked
hungry and hollow and dark. Ann knew he was "trying to remember"

When the sound of footsteps reached his ear, he turned to look at
them, and rose mechanically at sight of Ann. But his expression was
that of a man aroused from a dream of far-off places.

"I remember you," he said, but hesitated as though making an effort to
recall something.

"Of course you do," said Little Ann. "You know me quite well. I
brought you here. Think a bit. Little--Little--"

"Yes," he broke forth. "Of course, Little Ann! Thank God I've not
forgotten." He took her hand in both his and held it tenderly. "You
have a sweet little face. It's such a wise little face!" His voice
sounded dreamy.

Ann drew him to his chair with a coaxing laugh and sat down by him.

"You're flattering me. You make me feel quite shy," she said. "You
know HIM, too," nodding toward Tembarom.

"Oh, yes," he replied, and be looked up with a smile. "He is the one
who remembers. You said you did." He had turned to Tembarom.

"You bet your life I do," Tembarom answered. "And you will, too,
before long."

"If I did not try so hard," said Strangeways, thoughtfully. "It seems
as if I were shut up in a room, and so many things were knocking at
the doors--hundreds of them--knocking because they want to be let in.
I am damnably unhappy-- damnably." He hung his head and stared at the
floor. Tembarom put a hand on his shoulder and gave him a friendly

"Don't you worry a bit," he said. "You take my word for it. It'll all
come back. I'm working at it myself." Strangeways lifted his head.

"You are the one I know best. I trust you." But there was the
beginning of a slight drag in his voice. "I don't always --quite
recollect--your name. Not quite. Good heavens! I mustn't forget that."

Little Ann was quite ready.

"You won't," she said, "because it's different from other names. It
begins with a letter--just a letter, and then there is the name.

"Yes, yes," he said anxiously.

Little Ann bent forward and fixed her eyes on his with concentrated
suggestion. They had never risked confusing him by any mention of the
new name. She began to repeat letters of the alphabet slowly and
distinctly until she reached the letter T.

"T," she ended with much emphasis--"R. S. _T_."

His expression cleared itself.

"T," he repeated. "T--Tembarom. R, S, T. How clever you are!"

Little Ann's gaze concentrated itself still more intently.

"Now you'll never forget it again," she said, "because of the T.
You'll say the other letters until you come to it. R, S, T."

"T. Tembarom," he ended relievedly. "How you help me!" He took her
hand and kissed it very gently.

"We are all going to help you," Ann soothed him, "T. Tembarom most of

"Say," Tembarom broke out in an aside to her, "I'm going to come here
and try things on him every day. When it seems like he gets on to
something, however little a thing it is, I'm going to follow it up and
see if it won't get somewhere."

Ann nodded.

"There'll be something some day," she said. "Are you quite comfortable
here?" she asked aloud to Strangeways.

"Very comfortable, thank you," he answered courteously. "They are
beautiful rooms. They are furnished with such fine old things. This is
entirely Jacobean. It's quite perfect." He glanced about him. "And so
quiet. No one comes in here but my man, and he is a very nice chap. I
never had a man who knew his duties better."

Little Ann and Tembarom looked at each other.

"I shouldn't be a bit surprised," she said after they had left the
room, "if it wouldn't be a good thing to get Pearson to try to talk to
him now and then. He's been used to a man-servant."

"Yes," answered Tembarom. "Pearson didn't rattle HIM, you bet your


He could not persuade them to remain to take lunch with him. The
firmness of Hutchinson's declination was not unconnected with a
private feeling that "them footmen chaps 'u'd be on the lookout to see
the way you handled every bite you put in your mouth." He couldn't
have stood it, dang their impudence! Little Ann, on her part, frankly
and calmly said, "It wouldn't DO." That was all, and evidently covered

After they had gone, the fog lifted somewhat, but though it withdrew
from the windows, it remained floating about in masses, like huge
ghosts, among the trees of the park. When Tembarom sat down alone to
prolong his lunch with the aid of Burrill and the footmen, he was
confronted by these unearthly shapes every time he lifted his eyes to
the window he faced from his place at the table. It was an outlook
which did not inspire to cheerfulness, and the fact that Ann and her
father were going back to Manchester and later to America left him
without even the simple consolation of a healthy appetite. Things were
bound to get better after a while; they were BOUND to. A fellow would
be a fool if he couldn't fix it somehow so that he could enjoy
himself, with money to burn. If you made up your mind you couldn't
stand the way things were, you didn't have to lie down under them,
with a thousand or so "per" coming in. You could fix it so that it
would be different. By jinks! there wasn't any law against your giving
it all to the church but just enough to buy a flat in Harlem out-
right, if you wanted to. But you weren't going to run crazy and do a
lot of fool things in a minute, and be sorry the rest of your life.
Money was money. And first and foremost there was Ann, with her round
cheeks flushed and her voice all sweet and queer, saying, "You
wouldn't be T. Tembarom; and it was T. Tembarom that--that was T.

He couldn't help knowing what she had begun to say, and his own face
flushed as he thought of it. He was at that time of life when there
generally happens to be one center about which the world revolves. The
creature who passes through this period of existence without watching
it revolve about such a center has missed an extraordinary and
singularly developing experience. It is sometimes happy, often
disastrous, but always more or less developing. Speaking calmly,
detachedly, but not cynically, it is a phase. During its existence it
is the blood in the veins, the sight of the eyes, the beat of the
pulse, the throb of the heart. It is also the day and the night, the
sun, the moon, and the stars, heaven and hell, the entire universe.
And it doesn't matter in the least to any one but the creatures living
through it. T. Tembarom was in the midst of it. There was Ann. There
was this new crazy thing which had happened to him--"this fool thing,"
as he called it. There was this monstrous, magnificent house,--he knew
it was magnificent, though it wasn't his kind,--there was old Palford
and his solemn talk about ancestors and the name of Temple Barholm. It
always reminded him of how ashamed he had been in Brooklyn of the
"Temple Temple" and how he had told lies to prevent the fellows
finding out about it. And there was seventy thousand pounds a year,
and there was Ann, who looked as soft as a baby,--Good Lord! how soft
she'd feel if you got her in your arms and squeezed her!--and yet was
somehow strong enough to keep him just where she wanted him to stay
and believed he ought to stay until "he had found out." That was it.
She wasn't doing it for any fool little idea of making herself seem
more important: she just believed it. She was doing it because she
wanted to let him "have his chance," just as if she were his mother
instead of the girl he was clean crazy about. His chance! He laughed
outright--a short, confident laugh which startled Burrill exceedingly.

When he went back to the library and lighted his pipe he began to
stride up and down as he continued to think it over.

"I wish she was as sure as I am," he said. "I wish she was as sure of
me as I am of myself--and as I am of her." He laughed the short,
confident laugh again. "I wish she was as sure as I am of us both.
We're all right. I've got to get through this, and find out what it's
best to do, and I've got to show her. When I've had my chance good and
plenty, us two for little old New York! Gee! won't it be fine!" he
exclaimed imaginatively. "Her going over her bills, looking like a
peach of a baby that's trying to knit its brows, and adding up, and
thinking she ought to economize. She'd do it if we had ten million."
He laughed outright joyfully. "Good Lord! I should kiss her to death!"

The simplest process of ratiocination would lead to a realization of
the fact that though he was lonely and uncomfortable, he was not in
the least pathetic or sorry for himself. His normal mental and
physical structure kept him steady on his feet, and his practical and
unsentimental training, combining itself with a touch of iron which
centuries ago had expressed itself through some fighting Temple
Barholm and a medium of battle-axes, crossbows, and spears, did the

"It'd take more than this to get me where I'd be down and out. I'm
feeling fine," he said. "I believe I'll go and 'take a walk,' as
Palford says."

The fog-wreaths in the park were floating away, and he went out
grinning and whistling, giving Burrill and the footman a nod as he
passed them with a springing young stride. He got the door open so
quickly that he left them behind him frustrated and staring at each

"It wasn't our fault," said Burrill, gloomily. "He's never had a door
opened for him in his life. This won't do for me."

He was away for about an hour, and came back in the best of spirits.
He had found out that there was something in "taking a walk" if a
fellow had nothing else to do. The park was "fine," and he had never
seen anything like it. When there were leaves on the trees and the
grass and things were green, it would be better than Central Park
itself. You could have base-ball matches in it. What a cinch it would
be if you charged gate-money! But he supposed you couldn't if it
belonged to you and you had three hundred and fifty thousand a year.
You had to get used to that. But it did seem a fool business to have
all that land and not make a cent out of it. If it was just outside
New York and you cut it up into lots, you'd just pile it up. He was
quite innocent--calamitously innocent and commercial and awful in his
views. Thoughts such as these had been crammed into his brain by life
ever since he had gone down the staircase of the Brooklyn tenement
with his twenty-five cents in his ten-year-old hand.

The stillness of the house seemed to have accentuated itself when he
returned to it. His sense of it let him down a little as he entered.
The library was like a tomb--a comfortable luxurious tomb with a
bright fire in it. A new Punch and the morning papers had been laid
upon a table earlier in the day, and he sat down to look at them.

"I guess about fifty-seven or eight of the hundred and thirty- six
hours have gone by," he said. "But, gee! ain't it lonesome!"

He sat so still trying to interest himself in "London Day by Day" in
the morning paper that the combination of his exercise in the fresh
air and the warmth of the fire made him drowsy. He leaned back in his
chair and closed his eyes without being aware that he did so. He was
on the verge of a doze.

He remained upon the verge for a few minutes, and then a soft,
rustling sound made him open his eyes.

An elderly little lady had timidly entered the room. She was neatly
dressed in an old-fashioned and far-from-new black silk dress, with a
darned lace collar and miniature brooch at her neck. She had also
thin, gray side-ringlets dangling against her cheeks from beneath a
small, black lace cap with pale-purple ribbons on it. She had most
evidently not expected to find any one in the room, and, having seen
Tembarom, gave a half-frightened cough.

"I--I beg your pardon," she faltered. "I really did not mean to

Tembarom jumped up, awkward, but good-natured. Was she a kind of
servant who was a lady?

"Oh, that's all right," he said.

But she evidently did not feel that it was all right. She looked as
though she felt that she had been caught doing something wrong, and
must properly propitiate by apology.

"I'm so sorry. I thought you had gone out--Mr. Temple Barholm."

"I did go out--to take a walk; but I came in."

Having been discovered in her overt act, she evidently felt that duty
demanded some further ceremony from her. She approached him very
timidly, but with an exquisite, little elderly early-Victorian manner.
She was of the most astonishingly perfect type, though Tembarom was
not aware of the fact. The manner, a century earlier, would have
expressed itself in a curtsy.

"It is Mr. Temple Barholm, isn't it? " she inquired.

"Yes; it has been for the last few weeks," he answered, wondering why
she seemed so in awe of him and wishing she didn't.

"I ought to apologize for being here," she began.

"Say, don't, please!" he interrupted. "What I feel is, that it ought
to be up to me to apologize for being here."

She was really quite flurried and distressed.

"Oh, please, Mr. Temple Barholm!" she fluttered, proceeding to explain
hurriedly, as though he without doubt understood the situation. "I
should of course have gone away at once after the late Mr. Temple
Barholm died, but--but I really had nowhere to go--and was kindly
allowed to remain until about two months ago, when I went to make a
visit. I fully intended to remove my little belongings before you
arrived, but I was detained by illness and could not return until this
morning to pack up. I understood you were in the park, and I
remembered I had left my knitting-bag here." She glanced nervously
about the room, and seemed to catch sight of something on a remote
corner table. "Oh, there it is. May I take it?" she said, looking at
him appealingly. "It was a kind present from a dear lost friend, and--
and--" She paused, seeing his puzzled and totally non-comprehending
air. It was plainly the first moment it had dawned upon her that he
did not know what she was talking about. She took a small, alarmed
step toward him.

"Oh, I BEG your pardon," she exclaimed in delicate anguish. "I'm
afraid you don't know who I am. Perhaps Mr. Palford forgot to mention
me. Indeed, why should he mention me? There were so many more
important things. I am a sort of distant--VERY distant relation of
yours. My name is Alicia Temple Barholm."

Tembarom was relieved. But she actually hadn't made a move toward the
knitting-bag. She seemed afraid to do it until he gave her permission.
He walked over to the corner table and brought it to her, smiling

"Here it is," he said. "I'm glad you left it. I'm very happy to be
acquainted with you, Miss Alicia."

He was glad just to see her looking up at him with her timid, refined,
intensely feminine appeal. Why she vaguely brought back something that
reminded him of Ann he could not have told. He knew nothing whatever
of types early-Victorian or late.

He took her hand, evidently to her greatest possible amazement, and
shook it heartily. She knew nothing whatever of the New York street
type, and it made her gasp for breath, but naturally with an allayed

"Gee!" he exclaimed whole-heartedly, "I'm glad to find out I've got a
relation. I thought I hadn't one in the world. Won't you sit down?" He
was drawing her toward his own easy-chair. But he really didn't know,
she was agitatedly thinking. She really must tell him. He seemed so
good tempered and--and DIFFERENT. She herself was not aware of the
enormous significance which lay in that word "different." There must
be no risk of her seeming to presume upon his lack of knowledge.

"It is MOST kind of you," she said with grateful emphasis, "but I
mustn't sit down and detain you. I can explain in a few words--if I

He positively still held her hand in the oddest, natural, boyish way,
and before she knew what she was doing he had made her take the chair-
-quite MADE her.

"Well, just sit down and explain," he said. "I wish to thunder you
would detain me. Take all the time you like. I want to hear all about
it--honest Injun."

There was a cushion in the chair, and as he talked, he pulled it out
and began to arrange it behind her, still in the most natural and
matter-of-fact way--so natural and matter-of-fact, indeed, that its
very natural matter-of-factedness took her breath away.

"Is that fixed all right?" he asked.

Being a little lady, she could only accept his extraordinary
friendliness with grateful appreciation, though she could not help
fluttering a little in her bewilderment.

"Oh, thank you, thank you, Mr. Temple Barholm," she said.

He sat down on the square ottoman facing her, and leaned forward with
an air of making a frank confession.

"Guess what I was thinking to myself two minutes before you came in? I
was thinking, `Lord, I'm lonesome--just sick lonesome!' And then I
opened my eyes and looked-- and there was a relation! Hully gee! I
call that luck!"

"Dear me!" she said, shyly delighted. "DO you, Mr. Temple Barholm--

Her formal little way of saying his name was like Ann's.

"Do I? I'm tickled to death. My mother died when I was ten, and I've
never had any women kin-folks."

"Poor bo--" She had nearly said "Poor boy!" and only checked the
familiarity just in time--" Poor Mr. Temple Barholm!"

"Say, what are we two to each other, anyhow?" He put it to her with
great interest.

"It is a very distant relationship, if it is one at all," she
answered. "You see, I was only a second cousin to the late Mr. Temple
Barholm, and I had not really the SLIGHTEST claim upon him." She
placed pathetic emphasis on the fact. "It was most generous of him to
be so kind to me. When my poor father died and I was left quite
penniless, he gave me a--a sort of home here."

"A sort of home?" Tembarom repeated.

"My father was a clergyman in VERY straitened circumstances. We had
barely enough to live upon--barely. He could leave me nothing. It
actually seemed as if I should have to starve --it did, indeed." There
was a delicate quiver in her voice. "And though the late Mr. Temple
Barholm had a great antipathy to ladies, he was so--so noble as to
send word to me that there were a hundred and fifty rooms in his
house, and that if I would keep out of his way I might live in one of

"That was noble," commented her distant relative.

"Oh, yes, indeed, especially when one considers how he disliked the
opposite sex and what a recluse he was. He could not endure ladies. I
scarcely ever saw him. My room was in quite a remote wing of the
house, and I never went out if I knew he was in the park. I was most
careful. And when he died of course I knew I must go away."

Tembarom was watching her almost tenderly.

"Where did you go?"

"To a kind clergyman in Shropshire who thought he might help me."

"How was he going to do it?"

She answered with an effort to steady a somewhat lowered and
hesitating voice.

"There was near his parish a very nice--charity,"--her breath caught
itself pathetically,--"some most comfortable almshouses for decayed
gentlewomen. He thought he might be able to use his influence to get
me into one." She paused and smiled, but her small, wrinkled hands
held each other closely.

Tembarom looked away. He spoke as though to himself, and without
knowing that he was thinking aloud.

"Almshouses!" he said. "Wouldn't that jolt you!" He turned on her
again with a change to cheerful concern. "Say, that cushion of yours
ain't comfortable. I 'm going to get you another one." He jumped up
and, taking one from a sofa, began to arrange it behind her

"But I mustn't trouble you any longer. I must go, really," she said,
half rising nervously. He put a hand on her shoulder and made her sit

"Go where?" he said. "Just lean back on that cushion, Miss Alicia. For
the next few minutes this is going to be MY funeral."

She was at once startled and uncomprehending. What an extraordinary
expression! What COULD it mean?

"F--funeral?" she stammered.

Suddenly he seemed somehow to have changed. He looked as serious as
though he was beginning to think out something all at once. What was
he going to say?

"That's New York slang," he answered. "It means that I want to explain
myself to you and ask a few questions."

"Certainly, certainly, Mr. Temple Barholm."

He leaned his back against the mantel, and went into the matter

"First off, haven't you ANY folks?" Then, answering her puzzled look,
added, "I mean relations."

Miss Alicia gently shook her head.

"No sisters or brothers or uncles or aunts or cousins?"

She shook her head again.

He hesitated a moment, putting his hands in his pockets and taking
them out again awkwardly as he looked down at her.

"Now here's where I'm up against it," he went on. "I don't want to be
too fresh or to butt in, but--didn't old Temple Barholm leave you ANY

"Oh, no!" she exclaimed. "Dear me! no! I couldn't possibly EXPECT such
a thing."

He gazed at her as though considering the situation. "Couldn't you?"
he said.

There was an odd reflection in his eyes, and he seemed to consider her
and the situation again.

"Well," he began after his pause, "what I want to know is what you
expect ME to do."

There was no unkindness in his manner, in fact, quite the contrary,
even when he uttered what seemed to Miss Alicia these awful,
unwarranted words. As though she had forced herself into his presence
to make demands upon his charity! They made her tremble and turn pale
as she got up quickly, shocked and alarmed.

"Oh, nothing! nothing! nothing WHATEVER, Mr. Temple Barholm!" she
exclaimed, her agitation doing its best to hide itself behind a fine
little dignity. He saw in an instant that his style of putting it had
been "'way off," that his ignorance had betrayed him, that she had
misunderstood him altogether. He almost jumped at her.

"Oh, say, I didn't mean THAT!" he cried out. "For the Lord's sake!
don't think I'm such a Tenderloin tough as to make a break like that!
Not on your life!"

Never since her birth had a male creature looked at Miss Alicia with
the appeal which showed itself in his eyes as he actually put his arm
half around her shoulders, like a boy begging a favor from his mother
or his aunt.

"What I meant was--" He broke off and began again quite anxiously,
"say, just as a favor, will you sit down again and let me tell you
what I did mean?"

It was that natural, warm, boyish way which overcame her utterly. It
reminded her of the only boy she had ever really known, the one male
creature who had allowed her to be fond of him. There was moisture in
her eyes as she let him put her back into her chair. When he had done
it, he sat down on the ottoman again and poured himself forth.

"You know what kind of a chap I am. No, you don't, either. You mayn't
know a thing about me; and I want to tell you. I'm so different from
everything you've ever known that I scare you. And no wonder. It's the
way I've lived. If you knew, you'd understand what I was thinking of
when I spoke just now. I've been cold, I've been hungry, I've walked
the wet streets on my uppers. I know all about GOING WITHOUT. And do
you expect that I am going to let a--a little thing like you--go away
from here without friends and without money on the chance of getting
into an almshouse that isn't vacant? Do you expect that of me? Not on
your life! That was what I meant."

Miss Alicia quivered; the pale-purple ribbons on her little lace cap

"I haven't," she said, and the fine little dignity was piteous, "a
SHADOW of a claim upon you." It was necessary for her to produce a
pocket- handkerchief. He took it from her, and touched her eyes as
softly as though she were a baby.

"Claim nothing!" he said. "I've got a claim on YOU. I'm going to stake
one out right now." He got up and gesticulated, taking in the big room
and its big furniture. "Look at all this! It fell on me like a
thunderbolt. It's nearly knocked the life out of me. I'm like a lost
cat on Broadway. You can't go away and leave me, Miss Alicia; it's
your duty to stay. You've just GOT to stay to take care of me." He
came over to her with a wheedling smile. "I never was taken care of in
my life. Just be as noble to me as old Temple Barholm was to you: give
me a sort of home."

If a little gentlewoman could stare, it might be said that Miss Alicia
stared at him. She trembled with amazed emotion.

"Do you mean--" Despite all he had said, she scarcely dared to utter
the words lest, after all, she might be taking for granted more than
it was credible could be true. "Can you mean that if I stayed here
with you it would make Temple Barholm seem more like HOME? Is it
possible you--you mean THAT?"

"I mean just that very thing."

It was too much for her. Finely restrained little elderly gentlewoman
as she was, she openly broke down under it.

"It can't be true!" she ejaculated shakily. "It isn't possible. It is
too--too beautiful and kind. Do forgive me! I c-a-n't help it." She
burst into tears.

She knew it was most stupidly wrong. She knew gentlemen did not like
tears. Her father had told her that men never really forgave women who
cried at them. And here, when her fate hung in the balance, she was
not able to behave herself with feminine decorum.

Yet the new Mr. Temple Barholm took it in as matter-of- fact a manner
as he seemed to take everything. He stood by her chair and soothed her
in his dear New York voice.

"That's all right, Miss Alicia," he commented. "You cry as much as you
want to, just so that you don't say no. You've been worried and you're
tired. I'll tell you there's been two or three times lately when I
should like to have cried myself if I'd known how. Say," he added with
a sudden outburst of imagination, "I bet anything it's about time you
had tea."

The suggestion was so entirely within the normal order of things that
it made her feel steadier, and she was able to glance at the clock.

"A cup of tea would be refreshing," she said. "They will bring it in
very soon, but before the servants come I must try to express--"

But before she could express anything further the tea appeared.
Burrill and a footman brought it on splendid salvers, in massive urn
and tea-pot, with chaste, sacrificial flame flickering, and wonderful,
hot buttered and toasted things and wafers of bread and butter
attendant. As they crossed the threshold, the sight of Miss Alicia's
small form enthroned in their employer's chair was one so obviously
unanticipated that Burrill made a step backward and the footman almost
lost the firmness of his hold on the smaller tray. Each recovered
himself in time, however, and not until the tea was arranged upon the
table near the fire was any outward recognition of Miss Alicia's
presence made. Then Burrill, pausing, made an announcement entirely
without prejudice:

"I beg pardon, sir, but Higgins's cart has come for Miss Temple
Barholm's box; he is asking when she wants the trap."

"She doesn't want it at all," answered Tembarom. "Carry her trunk up-
stairs again. She's not going away."

The lack of proper knowledge contained in the suggestion that Burrill
should carry trunks upstairs caused Miss Alicia to quail in secret,
but she spoke with outward calm.

"No, Burrill," she said. "I am not going away."

"Very good, Miss," Burrill replied, and with impressive civility he
prepared to leave the room. Tembarom glanced at the tea-things.

"There's only one cup here," he said. "Bring one for me."

Burrill's expression might perhaps have been said to start slightly.

"Very good, sir," he said, and made his exit. Miss Alicia was
fluttering again.

"That cup was really for you, Mr. Temple Barholm," she ventured.

"Well, now it's for you, and I've let him know it," replied Tembarom.

"Oh, PLEASE," she said in an outburst of feeling--"PLEASE let me tell
you how GRATEFUL--how grateful I am!"

But he would not let her.

"If you do," he said, "I'll tell you how grateful _I_ am, and that'll
be worse. No, that's all fixed up between us. It goes. We won't say
any more about it."

He took the whole situation in that way, as though he was assuming no
responsibility which was not the simple, inevitable result of their
drifting across each other--as though it was only what any man would
have done, even as though she was a sort of delightful, unexpected
happening. He turned to the tray.

"Say, that looks all right, doesn't it?" he said. "Now you are here, I
like the way it looks. I didn't yesterday."

Burrill himself brought the extra cup and saucer and plate. He wished
to make sure that his senses had not deceived him. But there she sat
who through years had existed discreetly in the most unconsidered
rooms in an uninhabited wing, knowing better than to presume upon her
privileges--there she sat with an awed and rapt face gazing up at this
new outbreak into Temple Barholm's and "him joking and grinning as
though he was as pleased as Punch."


To employ the figure of Burrill, Tembarom was indeed "as pleased as
Punch." He was one of the large number of men who, apart from all
sentimental relations, are made particularly happy by the kindly
society of women; who expand with quite unconscious rejoicing when a
woman begins to take care of them in one way or another. The
unconsciousness is a touching part of the condition. The feminine
nearness supplies a primeval human need. The most complete of men, as
well as the weaklings, feel it. It is a survival of days when warm
arms held and protected, warm hands served, and affectionate voices
soothed. An accomplished male servant may perform every domestic
service perfectly, but the fact that he cannot be a woman leaves a
sense of lack. An accustomed feminine warmth in the surrounding daily
atmosphere has caused many a man to marry his housekeeper or even his
cook, as circumstances prompted.

Tembarom had known no woman well until he had met Little Ann. His
feeling for Mrs. Bowse herself had verged on affection, because he
would have been fond of any woman of decent temper and kindliness,
especially if she gave him opportunities to do friendly service.
Little Ann had seemed the apotheosis of the feminine, the warmly
helpful, the subtly supporting, the kind. She had been to him an
amazement and a revelation. She had continually surprised him by
revealing new characteristics which seemed to him nicer things than he
had ever known before, but which, if he had been aware of it, were not
really surprising at all. They were only the characteristics of a very
nice young feminine creature.

The presence of Miss Alicia, with the long-belated fashion of her
ringlets and her little cap, was delightful to him. He felt as though
he would like to take her in his arms and hug her. He thought perhaps
it was partly because she was a little like Ann, and kept repeating
his name in Ann's formal little way. Her delicate terror of presuming
or intruding he felt in its every shade. Mentally she touched him
enormously. He wanted to make her feel that she need not be afraid of
him in the least, that he liked her, that in his opinion she had more
right in the house than he had. He was a little frightened lest
through ignorance he should say things the wrong way, as he had said
that thing about wanting to know what she expected him to do. What he
ought to have said was, "You're not expecting me to let that sort of
thing go on." It had made him sick when he saw what a break he'd made
and that she thought he was sort of insulting her. The room seemed all
right now that she was in it. Small and unassuming as she was, she
seemed to make it less over-sized. He didn't so much mind the
loftiness of the ceiling, the depth and size of the windows, and the
walls covered with thousands of books he knew nothing whatever about.
The innumerable books had been an oppressing feature. If he had been
one of those "college guys" who never could get enough of books, what
a "cinch" the place would have been for him--good as the Astor
Library! He hadn't a word to say against books,--good Lord! no;--but
even if he'd had the education and the time to read, he didn't believe
he was naturally that kind, anyhow. You had to be "that kind" to know
about books. He didn't suppose she-- meaning Miss Alicia--was learned
enough to make you throw a fit. She didn't look that way, and he was
mighty glad of it, because perhaps she wouldn't like him much if she
was. It would worry her when she tried to talk to him and found out he
didn't know a darned thing he ought to.

They'd get on together easier if they could just chin about common
sort of every-day things. But though she didn't look like the Vassar
sort, he guessed that she was not like himself: she had lived in
libraries before, and books didn't frighten her. She'd been born among
people who read lots of them and maybe could talk about them. That was
why she somehow seemed to fit into the room. He was aware that, timid
as she was and shabby as her neat dress looked, she fitted into the
whole place, as he did not. She'd been a poor relative and had been
afraid to death of old Temple Barholm, but she'd not been afraid of
him because she wasn't his sort. She was a lady; that was what was the
matter with her. It was what made things harder for her, too. It was
what made her voice tremble when she'd tried to seem so contented and
polite when she'd talked about going into one of those "decayed alms-
houses." As if the old ladies were vegetables that had gone wrong, by
gee! he thought.

He liked her little, modest, delicate old face and her curls and her
little cap with the ribbons so much that he smiled with a twinkling
eye every time he looked at her. He wanted to suggest something he
thought would be mighty comfortable, but he was half afraid he might
be asking her to do something which wasn't "her job," and it might
hurt her feelings. But he ventured to hint at it.

"Has Burrill got to come back and pour that out?" he asked, with an
awkward gesture toward the tea-tray. "Has he just GOT to?"

"Oh, no, unless you wish it," she answered. "Shall--may I give it to

"Will you?" he exclaimed delightedly. "That would be fine. I shall
feel like a regular Clarence."

She was going to sit at the table in a straight-backed chair, but he
sprang at her.

"This big one is more comfortable," he said, and he dragged it forward
and made her sit in it. "You ought to have a footstool," he added, and
he got one and put it under her feet. "There, that's all right."

A footstool, as though she were a royal personage and he were a
gentleman in waiting, only probably gentlemen in waiting did not jump
about and look so pleased. The cheerful content of his boyish face
when he himself sat down near the table was delightful.

"Now," he said, "we can ring up for the first act."

She filled the tea-pot and held it for a moment, and then set it down
as though her feelings were too much for her.

"I feel as if I were in a dream," she quavered happily. "I do indeed."

"But it's a nice one, ain't it? " he answered. "I feel as if I was in
two. Sitting here in this big room with all these fine things about
me, and having afternoon tea with a relation! It just about suits me.
It didn't feel like this yesterday, you bet your life!"

"Does it seem--nicer than yesterday?" she ventured. "Really, Mr.
Temple Barholm?"

"Nicer!" he ejaculated. "It's got yesterday beaten to a frazzle."

It was beyond all belief. He was speaking as though the advantage, the
relief, the happiness, were all on his side. She longed to enlighten

"But you can't realize what it is to me," she said gratefully, "to sit
here, not terrified and homeless and--a beggar any more, with your
kind face before me. Do forgive me for saying it. You have such a kind
young face, Mr. Temple Barholm. And to have an easy-chair and
cushions, and actually a buffet brought for my feet! " She suddenly
recollected herself. "Oh, I mustn't let your tea get cold," she added,
taking up the tea-pot apologetically. "Do you take cream and sugar,
and is it to be one lump or two?"

"I take everything in sight," he replied joyously, "and two lumps,

She prepared the cup of tea with as delicate a care as though it had
been a sacramental chalice, and when she handed it to him she smiled

"No one but you ever thought of such a thing as bringing a buffet for
my feet--no one except poor little Jem," she said, and her voice was
wistful as well as her smile.

She was obviously unaware that she was introducing an entirely new
acquaintance to him. Poor little Jem was supposed to be some one whose
whole history he knew.

"Jem?" he repeated, carefully transferring a piece of hot buttered
crumpet to his plate.

"Jem Temple Barholm," she answered. "I say little Jem because I
remember him only as a child. I never saw him after he was eleven
years old."

"Who was he?" he asked. The tone of her voice, and her manner of
speaking made him feel that he wanted to hear something more.

She looked rather startled by his ignorance. "Have you-- have you
never heard of him?" she inquired.

"No. Is he another distant relation?"

Her hesitation caused him to neglect his crumpet, to look up at her.
He saw at once that she wore the air of a sensitive and beautifully
mannered elderly lady who was afraid she had made a mistake and said
something awkward.

"I am so sorry," she apologized. "Perhaps I ought not to have
mentioned him."

"Why shouldn't he be mentioned?"

She was embarrassed. She evidently wished she had not spoken, but
breeding demanded that she should ignore the awkwardness of the
situation, if awkwardness existed.

"Of course--I hope your tea is quite as you like it--of course there
is no real reason. But--shall I give you some more cream? No? You see,
if he hadn't died, he--he would have inherited Temple Barholm."

Now he was interested. This was the other chap.

"Instead of me?" he asked, to make sure. She endeavored not to show
embarrassment and told herself it didn't really matter--to a
thoroughly nice person. But--

"He was the next of kin--before you. I'm so sorry I didn't know you
hadn't heard of him. It seemed natural that Mr. Palford should have
mentioned him."

"He did say that there was a young fellow who had died, but he didn't
tell me about him. I guess I didn't ask. There were such a lot of
other things. I'd like to hear about him. You say you knew him?"

"Only when he was a little fellow. Never after he grew up. Something
happened which displeased my father. I'm afraid papa was very easily
displeased. Mr. Temple Barholm disliked him, too. He would not have
him at Temple Barholm."

"He hadn't much luck with his folks, had he?" remarked Tembarom.

"He had no luck with any one. I seemed to be the only person who was
fond of him, and of course I didn't count."

"I bet you counted with him," said Tembarom.

"I do think I did. Both his parents died quite soon after he was born,
and people who ought to have cared for him were rather jealous because
he stood so near to Temple Barholm. If Mr. Temple Barholm had not been
so eccentric and bitter, everything would have been done for him; but
as it was, he seemed to belong to no one. When he came to the vicarage
it used to make me so happy. He used to call me Aunt Alicia, and he
had such pretty ways." She hesitated and looked quite tenderly at the
tea-pot, a sort of shyness in her face. "I am sure," she burst forth,
"I feel quite sure that you will understand and won't think it
indelicate; but I had thought so often that I should like to have a
little boy--if I had married," she added in hasty tribute to

Tembarom's eyes rested on her in a thoughtfulness openly touched with
affection. He put out his hand and patted hers two or three times in
encouraging sympathy.

"Say," he said frankly, "I just believe every woman that's the real
thing'd like to have a little boy--or a little girl--or a little
something or other. That's why pet cats and dogs have such a cinch of
it. And there's men that's the same way. It's sort of nature."

"He had such a high spirit and such pretty ways," she said again. "One
of his pretty ways was remembering to do little things to make one
comfortable, like thinking of giving one a cushion or a buffet for
one's feet. I noticed it so much because I had never seen boys or men
wait upon women. My own dear papa was used to having women wait upon
him--bring his slippers, you know, and give him the best chair. He
didn't like Jem's ways. He said he liked a boy who was a boy and not
an affected nincompoop. He wasn't really quite just." She paused
regretfully and sighed as she looked back into a past doubtlessly
enriched with many similar memories of "dear papa." "Poor Jem! Poor
Jem!" she breathed softly.

Tembarom thought that she must have felt the boy's loss very much,
almost as much as though she had really been his mother; perhaps more
pathetically because she had not been his mother or anybody's mother.
He could see what a good little mother she would have made, looking
after her children and doing everything on earth to make them happy
and comfortable, just the kind of mother Ann would make, though she
had not Ann's steady wonder of a little head or her shrewd
farsightedness. Jem would have been in luck if he had been her son. It
was a darned pity he hadn't been. If he had, perhaps he would not have
died young.

"Yes," he answered sympathetically, "it's hard for a young fellow to
die. How old was he, anyhow? I don't know."

"Not much older than you are now. It was seven years ago. And if he
had only died, poor dear! There are things so much worse than death."


"Awful disgrace is worse," she faltered. She was plainly trying to
keep moisture out of her eyes.

"Did he get into some bad mix-up, poor fellow?" If there had been
anything like that, no wonder it broke her up to think of him.

It surely did break her up. She flushed emotionally.

"The cruel thing was that he didn't really do what he was accused of,"
she said.

"He didn't?"

"No; but he was a ruined man, and he went away to the Klondike because
he could not stay in England. And he was killed--killed, poor boy! And
afterward it was found out that he was innocent--too late."

"Gee!" Tembarom gasped, feeling hot and cold. "Could you beat that for
rotten luck! What was he accused of?"

Miss Alicia leaned forward and spoke in a whisper. It was too dreadful
to speak of aloud.

"Cheating at cards--a gentleman playing with gentlemen. You know what
that means."

Tembarom grew hotter and colder. No wonder she looked that way, poor
little thing!

"But,"--he hesitated before he spoke,--"but he wasn't that kind, was
he? Of course he wasn't."

"No, no. But, you see,"--she hesitated herself here,--"everything
looked so much against him. He had been rather wild." She dropped her
voice even lower in making the admission.

Tembarom wondered how much she meant by that.

"He was so much in debt. He knew he was to be rich in the future, and
he was poor just in those reckless young days when it seemed unfair.
And he had played a great deal and had been very lucky. He was so
lucky that sometimes his luck seemed uncanny. Men who had played with
him were horrible about it afterward."

"They would be," put in Tembarom. " They'd be sore about it, and bring
it up."

They both forgot their tea. Miss Alicia forgot everything as she
poured forth her story in the manner of a woman who had been forced to
keep silent and was glad to put her case into words. It was her case.
To tell the truth of this forgotten wrong was again to offer
justification of poor handsome Jem whom everybody seemed to have
dropped talk of, and even preferred not to hear mentioned.

"There were such piteously cruel things about it," she went on. "He
had fallen very much in love, and he meant to marry and settle down.
Though we had not seen each other for years, he actually wrote to me
and told me about it. His letter made me cry. He said I would
understand and care about the thing which seemed to have changed
everything and made him a new man. He was so sorry that he had not
been better and more careful. He was going to try all over again. He
was not going to play at all after this one evening when he was
obliged to keep an engagement he had made months before to give his
revenge to a man he had won a great deal of money from. The very night
the awful thing happened he had told Lady Joan, before he went into
the card-room, that this was to be his last game."

Tembarom had looked deeply interested from the first, but at her last
words a new alertness added itself.

"Did you say Lady Joan? " he asked. " Who was Lady Joan?"

"She was the girl he was so much in love with. Her name was Lady Joan

"Was she the daughter of the Countess of Mallowe?"

"Yes. Have you heard of her?"

He recalled Ann's reflective consideration of him before she had said,
"She'll come after you." He replied now: "Some one spoke of her to me
this morning. They say she's a beauty and as proud as Lucifer."

"She was, and she is yet, I believe. Poor Lady Joan--as well as poor

"She didn't believe it, did she?" he put in hastily. "She didn't throw
him down?"

"No one knew what happened between them afterward. She was in the
card-room, looking on, when the awful thing took place."

She stopped, as though to go on was almost unbearable. She had been so
overwhelmed by the past shame of it that even after the passing of
years the anguish was a living thing. Her small hands clung hard
together as they rested on the edge of the table. Tembarom waited in
thrilled suspense. She spoke in a whisper again:

"He won a great deal of money--a great deal. He had that uncanny luck
again, and of course people in the other rooms heard what was going
on, and a number drifted in to look on. The man he had promised to
give his revenge to almost showed signs of having to make an effort to
conceal his irritation and disappointment. Of course, as he was a
gentleman, he was as cool as possible; but just at the most exciting
moment, the height of the game, Jem made a quick movement, and--and
something fell out of his sleeve."

"Something," gasped Tembarom, "fell out of his sleeve!"

Miss Alicia's eyes overflowed as she nodded her beribboned little cap.

"It"--her voice was a sob of woe--"it was a marked card. The man he
was playing against snatched it and held it up. And he laughed out

"Holy cats! " burst from Tembarom; but the remarkable exclamation was
one of genuine horror, and he turned pale, got up from his seat, and
took two or three strides across the room, as though he could not sit

"Yes, he laughed--quite loudly," repeated Miss Alicia, "as if he had
guessed it all the time. Papa heard the whole story from some one who
was present."

Tembarom came back to her rather breathless.

"What in thunder did he do--Jem?" he asked.

She actually wrung her poor little hands.

"What could he do? There was a dead silence. People moved just a
little nearer to the table and stood and stared, merely waiting. They
say it was awful to see his face--awful. He sprang up and stood still,
and slowly became as white as if he were dying before their eyes. Some
one thought Lady Joan Fayre took a step toward him, but no one was
quite sure. He never uttered one word, but walked out of the room and
down the stairs and out of the house."

"But didn't he speak to the girl?"

"He didn't even look at her. He passed her by as if she were stone."

"What happened next?"

"He disappeared. No one knew where at first, and then there was a
rumor that he had gone to the Klondike and had been killed there. And
a year later--only a year! Oh, if he had only waited in England!--a
worthless villain of a valet he had discharged for stealing met with
an accident, and because he thought he was going to die, got horribly
frightened, and confessed to the clergyman that he had tucked the card
in poor Jem's sleeve himself just to pay him off. He said he did it on
the chance that it would drop out where some one would see it, and a
marked card dropping out of a man's sleeve anywhere would look black
enough, whether he was playing or not. But poor Jem was in his grave,
and no one seemed to care, though every one had been interested enough
in the scandal. People talked about that for weeks."

Tembarom pulled at his collar excitedly.

"It makes me sort of strangle," he said. "You've got to stand your own
bad luck, but to hear of a chap that's had to lie down and take the
worst that could come to him and know it wasn't his--just KNOW it! And
die before he's cleared! That knocks me out."

Almost every sentence he uttered had a mystical sound to Miss Alicia,
but she knew how he was taking it, with what hot, young human sympathy
and indignation. She loved the way he took it, and she loved the
feeling in his next words

"And the girl--good Lord!--the girl?"

"I never met her, and I know very little of her; but she has never

"I'm glad of that," he said. "I'm darned glad of it. How could she?"
Ann wouldn't, he knew. Ann would have gone to her grave unmarried. But
she would have done things first to clear her man's name. Somehow she
would have cleared him, if she'd had to fight tooth and nail till she
was eighty.

"They say she has grown very bitter and haughty in her manner. I'm
afraid Lady Mallowe is a very worldly woman. One hears they don't get
on together, and that she is bitterly disappointed because her
daughter has not made a good match. It appears that she might have
made several, but she is so hard and cynical that men are afraid of
her. I wish I had known her a little--if she really loved Jem."

Tembarom had thrust his hands into his pockets, and was standing deep
in thought, looking at the huge bank of red coals in the fire-grate.
Miss Alicia hastily wiped her eyes.

"Do excuse me," she said.

"I'll excuse you all right," he replied, still looking into the coals.
"I guess I shouldn't excuse you as much if you didn't" He let her cry
in her gentle way while he stared, lost in reflection.

"And if he hadn't fired that valet chap, he would be here with you
now--instead of me. Instead of me," he repeated.

And Miss Alicia did not know what to say in reply. There seemed to be
nothing which, with propriety and natural feeling, one could say.

"It makes me feel just fine to know I'm not going to have my dinner
all by myself," he said to her before she left the library.

She had a way of blushing about things he noticed, when she was shy or
moved or didn't know exactly what to say. Though she must have been
sixty, she did it as though she were sixteen. And she did it when he
said this, and looked as though suddenly she was in some sort of

"You are going to have dinner with me," he said, seeing that she
hesitated--"dinner and breakfast and lunch and tea and supper and
every old thing that goes. You can't turn me down after me staking out
that claim."

"I'm afraid--" she said. "You see, I have lived such a secluded life.
I scarcely ever left my rooms except to take a walk. I'm sure you
understand. It would not have been necessary even if I could have
afforded it, which I really couldn't--I'm afraid I have nothing--
quite suitable--for evening wear."

"You haven't!" he exclaimed gleefully. "I don't know what is suitable
for evening wear, but I haven't got it either. Pearson told me so with
tears in his eyes. It never was necessary for me either. I've got to
get some things to quiet Pearson down, but until I do I've got to eat
my dinner in a tweed cutaway; and what I've caught on to is that it's
unsuitable enough to throw a man into jail. That little black dress
you've got on and that little cap are just 'way out of sight, they're
so becoming. Come down just like you are."

She felt a little as Pearson had felt when confronting his new
employer's entire cheerfulness in face of a situation as exotically
hopeless as the tweed cutaway, and nothing else by way of resource.
But there was something so nice about him, something which was almost
as though he was actually a gentleman, something which absolutely, if
one could go so far, stood in the place of his being a gentleman. It
was impossible to help liking him more and more at every queer speech
he made. Still, there were of course things he did not realize, and
perhaps one ought in kindness to give him a delicate hint.

"I'm afraid," she began quite apologetically. "I'm afraid that the
servants, Burrill and the footmen, you know, will be--will think--"

"Say," he took her up, " let's give Burrill and the footmen the
Willies out and out. If they can't stand it, they can write home to
their mothers and tell 'em they've got to take 'em away. Burrill and
the footmen needn't worry. They're suitable enough, and it's none of
their funeral, anyhow."

He wasn't upset in the least. Miss Alicia, who, as a timid dependent
either upon "poor dear papa" or Mr. Temple Barholm, had been secretly,
in her sensitive, ladylike little way, afraid of superior servants all
her life, knowing that they realized her utterly insignificant
helplessness, and resented giving her attention because she was not
able to show her appreciation of their services in the proper manner--
Miss Alicia saw that it had not occurred to him to endeavor to
propitiate them in the least, because somehow it all seemed a joke to
him, and he didn't care. After the first moment of being startled, she
regarded him with a novel feeling, almost a kind of admiration.
Tentatively she dared to wonder if there was not something even
rather--rather ARISTOCRATIC in his utter indifference.

If be had been a duke, he would not have regarded the servants' point
of view; it wouldn't have mattered what they thought. Perhaps, she
hastily decided, he was like this because, though he was not a duke,
boot-blacking in New York notwithstanding he was a Temple Barholm.
There were few dukes as old of blood as a Temple Barholm. That must be
it. She was relieved.

Whatsoever lay at the root of his being what he was and as he was, he
somehow changed the aspect of things for her, and without doing
anything but be himself, cleared the atmosphere of her dread of the
surprise and mental reservations of the footmen and Burrill when she
came down to dinner in her high-necked, much-cleaned, and much-
repaired black silk, and with no more distinguishing change in her
toilet than a white lace cap instead of a black one, and with "poor
dear mamma's" hair bracelet with the gold clasp on her wrist, and a
weeping-willow made of "poor dear papa's" hair in a brooch at her

It was so curious, though still "nice," but he did not offer her his
arm when they were going into the dining-room, and he took hold of
hers with his hand and affectionately half led, half pushed, her along
with him as they went. And he himself drew back her chair for her at
the end of the table opposite his own. He did not let a footman do it,
and he stood behind it, talking in his cheerful way all the time, and
he moved it to exactly the right place, and then actually bent down
and looked under the table.

"Here," he said to the nearest man-servant, "where's there a
footstool? Get one, please," in that odd, simple, almost aristocratic
way. It was not a rude dictatorial way, but a casual way, as though he
knew the man was there to do things, and he didn't expect any time to
be wasted.

And it was he himself who arranged the footstool, making it
comfortable for her, and then he went to his own chair at the head of
the table and sat down, smiling at her joyfully across the glass and
silver and flowers.

"Push that thing in the middle on one side, Burrill," he said. "It's
too high. I can't see Miss Alicia."

Burrill found it difficult to believe the evidence of his hearing.

"The epergne, sir? " he inquired.

"Is that what it's called, an apern? That's a new one on me. Yes,
that's what I mean. Push the apern over."

"Shall I remove it from the table, sir?" Burrill steeled himself to
exact civility. Of what use to behave otherwise? There always remained
the liberty to give notice if the worst came to the worst, though what
the worst might eventually prove to be it required a lurid imagination
to depict. The epergne was a beautiful thing of crystal and gold, a
celebrated work of art, regarded as an exquisite possession. It was
almost remarkable that Mr. Temple Barholm had not said, "Shove it on
one side," but Burrill had been spared the poignant indignity of being
required to "shove."

"Yes, suppose you do. It's a fine enough thing when it isn't in the
way, but I've got to see you while I talk, Miss Alicia," said Mr.
Temple Barholm. The episode of the epergne-- Burrill's expression, and
the rigidly restrained mouths of Henry and James as the decoration was
removed, leaving a painfully blank space of table-cloth until Burrill
silently filled it with flowers in a low bowl--these things
temporarily flurried Miss Alicia somewhat, but the pleased smile at
the head of the table calmed even that trying moment.

Then what a delightful meal it was, to be sure! How entertaining and
cheerful and full of interesting conversation! Miss Alicia had always
admired what she reverently termed "conversation." She had read of the
houses of brilliant people where they had it at table, at dinner and
supper parties, and in drawing-rooms. The French, especially the
French ladies, were brilliant conversationalists. They held "salons"
in which the conversation was wonderful--Mme. de Stael and Mme.
Roland, for instance; and in England, Lady Mary Wortley Montague,
Sydney Smith, and Horace Walpole, and surely Miss Fanny Burney, and no
doubt L. E. L., whose real name was Miss Letitia Elizabeth Landon--
what conversation they must have delighted their friends with and how
instructive it must have been even to sit in the most obscure corner
and listen!

Such gifted persons seemed to have been chosen by Providence to
delight and inspire every one privileged to hear them. Such privileges
had been omitted from the scheme of Miss Alicia's existence. She did
not know, she would have felt it sacrilegious to admit it even if the
fact had dawned upon her, that "dear papa" had been a heartlessly
arrogant, utterly selfish, and tyrannical old blackguard of the most
pronounced type. He had been of an absolute morality as far as social
laws were concerned. He had written and delivered a denunciatory
sermon a week, and had made unbearable by his ministrations the
suffering hours and the last moments of his parishioners during the
long years of his pastorate. When Miss Alicia, in reading records of
the helpful relationship of the male progenitors of the Brontes, Jane
Austen, Fanny Burney, and Mrs. Browning, was frequently reminded of
him, she revealed a perception of which she was not aware. He had
combined the virile qualities of all of them. Consequently, brilliancy
of conversation at table had not been the attractive habit of the
household; "poor dear papa" had confined himself to scathing criticism
of the incompetence of females who could not teach their menials to
"cook a dinner which was not a disgrace to any decent household." When
not virulently aspersing the mutton, he was expressing his opinion of
muddle-headed weakness which would permit household bills to mount in
a manner which could only bring ruin and disaster upon a minister of
the gospel who throughout a protracted career of usefulness had sapped
his intellectual manhood in the useless effort to support in silly
idleness a family of brainless and maddening fools. Miss Alicia had
heard her character, her unsuccessful physical appearance, her mind,
and her pitiful efforts at table-talk, described in detail with a
choice of adjective and adverb which had broken into terrified
fragments every atom of courage and will with which she had been
sparsely dowered.

So, not having herself been gifted with conversational powers to begin
with, and never having enjoyed the exhibition of such powers in
others, her ideals had been high. She was not sure that Mr. Temple
Barholm's fluent and cheerful talk could be with exactness termed
"conversation." It was perhaps not sufficiently lofty and
intellectual, and did not confine itself rigorously to one exalted
subject. But how it did raise one's spirits and open up curious
vistas! And how good tempered and humorous it was, even though
sometimes the humor was a little bewildering! During the whole dinner
there never occurred even one of those dreadful pauses in which dead
silence fell, and one tried, like a frightened hen flying from side to
side of a coop, to think of something to say which would not sound
silly, but perhaps might divert attention from dangerous topics. She
had often thought it would be so interesting to hear a Spaniard or a
native Hindu talk about himself and his own country in English.
Tembarom talked about New York and its people and atmosphere, and he
did not know how foreign it all was. He described the streets--Fifth
Avenue and Broadway and Sixth Avenue--and the street-cars and the
elevated railroad, and the way "fellows" had to "hustle" "to put it
over." He spoke of a boarding-house kept by a certain Mrs. Bowse, and
a presidential campaign, and the election of a mayor, and a quick-
lunch counter, and when President Garfield had been assassinated, and
a department store; and the electric lights, and the way he had of
making a sort of picture of everything was really instructive and,
well, fascinating. She felt as though she had been taken about the
city in one of the vehicles the conductor of which described things
through a megaphone.

Not that Mr. Temple Barholm suggested a megaphone, whatsoever that
might be, but he merely made you feel as if you had seen things. Never
had she been so entertained and enlightened. If she had been a
beautiful girl, he could not have seemed more as though in amusing her
he was also really pleasing himself. He was so very funny sometimes
that she could not help laughing in a way which was almost unladylike,
because she could not stop, and was obliged to put her handkerchief up
to her face and wipe away actual tears of mirth.

Fancy laughing until you cried, and the servants looking on!

Once Burrill himself was obliged to turn hastily away, and twice she
heard him severely reprove an overpowered young footman in a rapid

Tembarom at least felt that the unlifting heaviness of atmosphere
which had surrounded him while enjoying the companionship of Mr.
Palford was a thing of the past.

The thrilled interest, the surprise and delight of Miss Alicia would
have stimulated a man in a comatose condition, it seemed to him. The
little thing just loved every bit of it--she just "eat it up." She
asked question after question, sometimes questions which would have
made him shout with laughter if he had not been afraid of hurting her
feelings. She knew as little of New York as he knew of Temple Barholm,
and was, it made him grin to see, allured by it as by some illicit
fascination. She did not know what to make of it, and sometimes she
was obliged hastily to conceal a fear that it was a sort of Sodom and
Gomorrah; but she wanted to hear more about it, and still more.

And she brightened up until she actually did not look frightened, and
ate her dinner with an excellent appetite.

"I really never enjoyed a dinner so much in my life," she said when
they went into the drawing-room to have their coffee. "It was the
conversation which made it so delightful. Conversation is such a
stimulating thing!"

She had almost decided that it was "conversation," or at least a
wonderful substitute.

When she said good night to him and went beaming to bed, looking
forward immensely to breakfast next morning, he watched her go up the
staircase, feeling wonderfully normal and happy.

"Some of these nights, when she's used to me," he said as he stuffed
tobacco into his last pipe in the library--"some of these nights I'm
darned if I sha'n't catch hold of the sweet, little old thing and hug
her in spite of myself. I sha'n't be able to help it." He lit his
pipe, and puffed it even excitedly. "Lord!" he said, "there's some
blame' fool going about the world right now that might have married
her. And he'll never know what a break he made when he didn't."


A fugitive fine day which had strayed into the month from the
approaching spring appeared the next morning, and Miss Alicia was
uplifted by the enrapturing suggestion that she should join her new
relative in taking a walk, in fact that it should be she who took him
to walk and showed him some of his possessions. This, it had revealed
itself to him, she could do in a special way of her own, because
during her life at Temple Barholm she had felt it her duty to "try to
do a little good" among the villagers. She and her long-dead mother
and sister had of course been working adjuncts of the vicarage, and
had numerous somewhat trying tasks to perform in the way of improving
upon "dear papa's" harrying them into attending church, chivying the
mothers into sending their children to Sunday-school, and being
unsparing in severity of any conduct which might be construed into
implying lack of appreciation of the vicar or respect for his

It had been necessary for them as members of the vicar's family--
always, of course, without adding a sixpence to the household bills--
to supply bowls of nourishing broth and arrowroot to invalids and to
bestow the aid and encouragement which result in a man of God's being
regarded with affection and gratitude by his parishioners. Many a
man's career in the church, "dear papa" had frequently observed, had
been ruined by lack of intelligence and effort on the part of the
female members of his family.

"No man could achieve proper results," he had said, "if he was
hampered by the selfish influence and foolishness of his womenkind.
Success in the church depends in one sense very much upon the conduct
of a man's female relatives."

After the deaths of her mother and sister, Miss Alicia had toiled on
patiently, fading day by day from a slim, plain, sweet-faced girl to a
slim, even plainer and sweeter-faced middle-aged and at last elderly
woman. She had by that time read aloud by bedsides a great many
chapters in the Bible, had given a good many tracts, and bestowed as
much arrowroot, barley-water, and beef-tea as she could possibly
encompass without domestic disaster. She had given a large amount of
conscientious, if not too intelligent, advice, and had never failed to
preside over her Sunday-school class or at mothers' meetings. But her
timid unimpressiveness had not aroused enthusiasm or awakened
comprehension. "Miss Alicia," the cottage women said, "she's well
meanin', but she's not one with a head." "She reminds me," one of them
had summed her up, "of a hen that lays a' egg every day, but it's too
small for a meal, and 'u'd never hatch into anythin'."

During her stay at Temple Barholm she had tentatively tried to do a
little "parish work," but she had had nothing to give, and she was
always afraid that if Mr. Temple Barholm found her out, he would be
angry, because he would think she was presuming. She was aware that
the villagers knew that she was an object of charity herself, and a
person who was "a lady" and yet an object of charity was, so to speak,
poaching upon their own legitimate preserves. The rector and his wife
were rather grand people, and condescended to her greatly on the few
occasions of their accidental meetings. She was neither smart nor
influential enough to be considered as an asset.

It was she who "conversed" during their walk, and while she trotted by
Tembarom's side looking more early-Victorian than ever in a neat,
fringed mantle and a small black bonnet of a fashion long decently
interred by a changing world, Tembarom had never seen anything
resembling it in New York; but he liked it and her increasingly at
every moment.

It was he who made her converse. He led her on by asking her questions
and being greatly interested in every response she made. In fact,
though he was quite unaware of the situation, she was creating for him
such an atmosphere as he might have found in a book, if he had had the
habit of books. Everything she told him was new and quaint and very
often rather touching. She related anecdotes about herself and her
poor little past without knowing she was doing it. Before they had
talked an hour he had an astonishing clear idea of "poor dear papa"
and "dearest Emily" and "poor darling mama" and existence at Rowcroft
Vicarage. He "caught on to" the fact that though she was very much
given to the word "dear,"--people were "dear," and so were things and
places,--she never even by chance slipped into saying "dear Rowcroft,"
which she would certainly have done if she had ever spent a happy
moment in it.

As she talked to him he realized that her simple accustomedness to
English village life and all its accompaniments of county surroundings
would teach him anything and everything he might want to know. Her
obscurity had been surrounded by stately magnificence, with which she
had become familiar without touching the merest outskirts of its
privileges. She knew names and customs and families and things to be
cultivated or avoided, and though she would be a little startled and
much mystified by his total ignorance of all she had breathed in since
her birth, he felt sure that she would not regard him either with
private contempt or with a lessened liking because he was a vandal
pure and simple.

And she had such a nice, little, old polite way of saying things.
When, in passing a group of children, he failed to understand that
their hasty bobbing up and down meant that they were doing obeisance
to him as lord of the manor, she spoke with the prettiest apologetic

"I'm sure you won't mind touching your hat when they make their little
curtsies, or when a villager touches his forehead," she said.

"Good Lord! no," he said, starting. "Ought I? I didn't know they were
doing it at me." And he turned round and made a handsome bow and

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