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THE CONQUEST OF CANAAN
BY BOOTH TARKINGTON
I. ENTER CHORUS
II. A RESCUE
III. OLD HOPES
IV. THE DISASTER
V. BEAVER BEACH
VI. "YE'LL TAK' THE HIGH ROAD AND I'LL TAK' THE LOW ROAD"
VII. GIVE A DOG A BAD NAME
VIII. A BAD PENNY TURNS UP
IX. OUTER DARKNESS
X. THE TRYST
XI. WHEN HALF-GODS GO
XII. TO REMAIN ON THE FIELD OF BATTLE IS NOT ALWAYS A VICTORY
XIII. THE WATCHER AND THE WARDEN
XIV. WHITE ROSES IN A LAW-OFFICE
XV. HAPPY FEAR GIVES HIMSELF UP
XVI. THE TWO CANAANS
XVII. MR. SHEEHAN'S HINTS
XVIII. IN THE HEAT OF THE DAY
XIX. ESKEW ARP
XX. THREE ARE ENLISTED
XXI. NORBERT WAITS FOR JOE
XXII. MR. SHEEHAN SPEAKS
XXIII. JOE WALKS ACROSS THE COURT-HOUSE YARD
XXIV. MARTIN PIKE KEEPS AN ENGAGEMENT
XXV. THE JURY COMES IN
XXVI. "ANCIENT OF DAYS"
THE CONQUEST OF CANAAN
A dry snow had fallen steadily
throughout the still night, so that
when a cold, upper wind cleared the
sky gloriously in the morning the
incongruous Indiana town shone in a
white harmony--roof, ledge, and earth as evenly
covered as by moonlight. There was no thaw;
only where the line of factories followed the big
bend of the frozen river, their distant chimneys like
exclamation points on a blank page, was there a
first threat against the supreme whiteness. The
wind passed quickly and on high; the shouting of
the school-children had ceased at nine o'clock with
pitiful suddenness; no sleigh-bells laughed out on
the air; and the muffling of the thoroughfares
wrought an unaccustomed peace like that of Sunday.
This was the phenomenon which afforded the
opening of the morning debate of the sages in the
wide windows of the "National House."
Only such unfortunates as have so far failed
to visit Canaan do not know that the "National
House" is on the Main Street side of the Courthouse
Square, and has the advantage of being
within two minutes' walk of the railroad station,
which is in plain sight of the windows--an
inestimable benefit to the conversation of the aged
men who occupied these windows on this white
morning, even as they were wont in summer to hold
against all comers the cane-seated chairs on the
pavement outside. Thence, as trains came and
went, they commanded the city gates, and, seeking
motives and adding to the stock of history, narrowly
observed and examined into all who entered or
departed. Their habit was not singular. He who
would foolishly tax the sages of Canaan with a
bucolic light-mindedness must first walk in Piccadilly
in early June, stroll down the Corso in Rome
before Ash Wednesday, or regard those windows of
Fifth Avenue whose curtains are withdrawn of a
winter Sunday; for in each of these great streets,
wherever the windows, not of trade, are widest, his
eyes must behold wise men, like to those of Canaan,
executing always their same purpose.
The difference is in favor of Canaan; the "National
House" was the club, but the perusal of
traveller or passer by was here only the spume
blown before a stately ship of thought; and you
might hear the sages comparing the Koran with the
speeches of Robert J. Ingersoll.
In the days of board sidewalks, "mail-time" had
meant a precise moment for Canaan, and even now,
many years after the first postman, it remained
somewhat definite to the aged men; for, out of
deference to a pleasant, olden custom, and perhaps
partly for an excuse to "get down to the hotel"
(which was not altogether in favor with the elderly
ladies), most of them retained their antique boxes
in the post-office, happily in the next building.
In this connection it may be written that a
subscription clerk in the office of the Chicago
Daily Standard, having noted a single subscriber
from Canaan, was, a fortnight later, pleased to
receive, by one mail, nine subscriptions from that
promising town. If one brought nine others in a
fortnight, thought he, what would nine bring in a
month? Amazingly, they brought nothing, and
the rest was silence. Here was a matter of intricate
diplomacy never to come within that youth his
ken. The morning voyage to the post-office,
long mocked as a fable and screen by the families
of the sages, had grown so difficult to accomplish
for one of them, Colonel Flitcroft (Colonel in the
war with Mexico), that he had been put to it,
indeed, to foot the firing-line against his wife (a lady
of celebrated determination and hale-voiced at
seventy), and to defend the rental of a box which
had sheltered but three missives in four years.
Desperation is often inspiration; the Colonel
brilliantly subscribed for the Standard, forgetting to
give his house address, and it took the others just
thirteen days to wring his secret from him. Then
the Standard served for all.
Mail-time had come to mean that bright hour
when they all got their feet on the brass rod which
protected the sills of the two big windows, with the
steam-radiators sizzling like kettles against the
side wall. Mr. Jonas Tabor, who had sold his
hardware business magnificently (not magnificently
for his nephew, the purchaser) some ten years
before, was usually, in spite of the fact that he
remained a bachelor at seventy-nine, the last to settle
down with the others, though often the first to reach
the hotel, which he always entered by a side door,
because he did not believe in the treating system.
And it was Mr. Eskew Arp, only seventy-five, but
already a thoroughly capable cynic, who, almost
invariably "opened the argument," and it was he
who discovered the sinister intention behind the
weather of this particular morning. Mr. Arp had
not begun life so sourly: as a youth he had been
proud of his given name, which had come to him
through his mother's family, who had made it
honorable, but many years of explanations that
Eskew did not indicate his initials had lowered his
opinion of the intelligence and morality of the race.
The malevolence of his voice and manner this
morning, therefore, when he shook his finger at
the town beyond the windows, and exclaimed,
with a bitter laugh, "Look at it!" was no surprise
to his companions. "Jest look at it! I tell you
the devil is mighty smart. Ha, ha! Mighty
Through custom it was the duty of Squire
Buckalew (Justice of the Peace in '59) to be the
first to take up Mr. Arp. The others looked to
him for it. Therefore, he asked, sharply:
"What's the devil got to do with snow?"
"Everything to do with it, sir," Mr. Arp
retorted. "It's plain as day to anybody with eyes
"Then I wish you'd p'int it out," said Buckalew,
"if you've got either."
"By the Almighty, Squire"--Mr. Arp turned in
his chair with sudden heat--"if I'd lived as long
"You have," interrupted the other, stung.
"Twelve years ago!"
"If I'd lived as long as you," Mr. Arp repeated,
unwincingly, in a louder voice, "and had follered
Satan's trail as long as you have, and yet couldn't
recognize it when I see it, I'd git converted and
"_I_ don't see it," interjected Uncle Joe Davey,
in his querulous voice. (He was the patriarch of
them all.) "_I_ can't find no cloven-hoof-prints in
"All over it, sir!" cried the cynic. "All over it!
Old Satan loves tricks like this. Here's a town
that's jest one squirmin' mass of lies and envy and
vice and wickedness and corruption--"
"Hold on!" exclaimed Colonel Flitcroft. "That's
a slander upon our hearths and our government.
Why, when I was in the Council--"
"It wasn't a bit worse then," Mr. Arp returned,
unreasonably. "Jest you look how the devil fools us.
He drops down this here virgin mantle on Canaan
and makes it look as good as you pretend you
think it is: as good as the Sunday-school room of a
country church--though THAT"--he went off on a
tangent, venomously--"is generally only another
whited sepulchre, and the superintendent's mighty
apt to have a bottle of whiskey hid behind the
"Look here, Eskew," said Jonas Tabor, "that's
got nothin' to do with--"
"Why ain't it? Answer me!" cried Mr. Arp,
continuing, without pause: "Why ain't it? Can't
you wait till I git through? You listen to me, and
when I'm ready I'll listen to--"
"See here," began the Colonel, making himself
heard over three others, "I want to ask you--"
"No, sir!" Mr. Arp pounded the floor irascibly
with his hickory stick. "Don't you ask me anything!
How can you tell that I'm not going to
answer your question without your asking it, till
I've got through? You listen first. I say, here's
a town of nearly thirty thousand inhabitants,
every last one of 'em--men, women, and children--
selfish and cowardly and sinful, if you could see
their innermost natures; a town of the ugliest and
worst built houses in the world, and governed by a
lot of saloon-keepers--though I hope it 'll never
git down to where the ministers can run it. And
the devil comes along, and in one night--why, all
you got to do is LOOK at it! You'd think we needn't
ever trouble to make it better. That's what the
devil wants us to do--wants us to rest easy about
it, and paints it up to look like a heaven of peace
and purity and sanctified spirits. Snowfall like
this would of made Lot turn the angel out-of-doors
and say that the old home was good enough for
him. Gomorrah would of looked like a Puritan
village--though I'll bet my last dollar that there
was a lot, and a WHOLE lot, that's never been told
about Puritan villages. A lot that--"
"WHAT never was?" interrupted Mr. Peter
Bradbury, whose granddaughter had lately announced
her discovery that the Bradburys were descended
from Miles Standish. "What wasn't told about
"Can't you wait?" Mr. Arp's accents were those
of pain. "Haven't I got ANY right to present my
side of the case? Ain't we restrained enough to
allow of free speech here? How can we ever git
anywhere in an argument like this, unless we let
one man talk at a time? How--"
"Go on with your statement," said Uncle Joe
Mr. Arp's grievance was increased. "Now listen
to YOU! How many more interruptions are comin'?
I'll listen to the other side, but I've got to state
mine first, haven't I? If I don't make my point
clear, what's the use of the argument?
Argumentation is only the comparison of two sides of a
question, and you have to see what the first side
IS before you can compare it with the other one,
don't you? Are you all agreed to that?"
"Yes, yes," said the Colonel. "Go ahead. We
won't interrupt until you're through."
"Very well," resumed Mr. Arp, with a fleeting
expression of satisfaction, "as I said before, I
wish to--as I said--" He paused, in some
confusion. "As I said, argumentation is--that is, I
say--" He stopped again, utterly at sea, having
talked himself so far out of his course that he was
unable to recall either his sailing port or his
destination. Finally he said, feebly, to save the
confession, "Well, go on with your side of it."
This generosity was for a moment disconcerting;
however, the quietest of the party took up the
opposition--Roger Tabor, a very thin, old man
with a clean-shaven face, almost as white as his
hair, and melancholy, gentle, gray eyes, very unlike
those of his brother Jonas, which were dark
and sharp and button-bright. (It was to Roger's
son that Jonas had so magnificently sold the hardware
business.) Roger was known in Canaan as
"the artist"; there had never been another of his
profession in the place, and the town knew not the
word "painter," except in application to the useful
artisan who is subject to lead-poisoning. There
was no indication of his profession in the attire of
Mr. Tabor, unless the too apparent age of his
black felt hat and a neat patch at the elbow of his
shiny, old brown overcoat might have been taken
as symbols of the sacrifice to his muse which his
life had been. He was not a constant attendant
of the conclave, and when he came it was usually
to listen; indeed, he spoke so seldom that at the
sound of his voice they all turned to him with
"I suppose," he began, "that Eskew means the
devil is behind all beautiful things."
"Ugly ones, too," said Mr. Arp, with a start of
recollection. "And I wish to state--"
"Not now!" Colonel Flitcroft turned upon him
violently. "You've already stated it."
"Then, if he is behind the ugly things, too," said
Roger, "we must take him either way, so let us be
glad of the beauty for its own sake. Eskew says
this is a wicked town. It may be--I don't know.
He says it's badly built; perhaps it is; but it doesn't
seem to me that it's ugly in itself. I don't know
what its real self is, because it wears so many
aspects. God keeps painting it all the time, and
never shows me twice the same picture; not even
two snowfalls are just alike, nor the days that
follow them; no more than two misty sunsets are
alike--for the color and even the form of the
town you call ugly are a matter of the season of
the year and of the time of day and of the light
and air. The ugly town is like an endless gallery
which you can walk through, from year-end to
year-end, never seeing the same canvas twice, no
matter how much you may want to--and there's
the pathos of it. Isn't it the same with people
with the characters of all of us, just as it is with
our faces? No face remains the same for two
"It don't?" Colonel Flitcroft interrupted, with
an explosive and rueful incredulity. "Well, I'd
like to--" Second thoughts came to him almost
immediately, and, as much out of gallantry as
through discretion, fearing that he might be taken
as thinking of one at home, he relapsed into
Not so with the others. It was as if a
firecracker had been dropped into a sleeping poultry-
yard. Least of all could Mr. Arp contain himself.
At the top of his voice, necessarily, he agreed
with Roger that faces changed, not only from day
to day, and not only because of light and air and
such things, but from hour to hour, and from
minute to minute, through the hideous stimulus
The "argument" grew heated; half a dozen tidy
quarrels arose; all the sages went at it fiercely,
except Roger Tabor, who stole quietly away.
The aged men were enjoying themselves thoroughly,
especially those who quarrelled. Naturally, the
frail bark of the topic which had been launched
was whirled about by too many side-currents to
remain long in sight, and soon became derelict,
while the intellectual dolphins dove and tumbled
in the depths. At the end of twenty minutes
Mr. Arp emerged upon the surface, and in his
mouth was this:
"Tell me, why ain't the Church--why ain't the
Church and the rest of the believers in a future life
lookin' for immortality at the other end of life,
too? If we're immortal, we always have been;
then why don't they ever speculate on what we
were before we were born? It's because they're
too blame selfish--don't care a flapdoodle about
what WAS, all they want is to go on livin' forever."
Mr. Arp's voice had risen to an acrid triumphancy,
when it suddenly faltered, relapsed to a
murmur, and then to a stricken silence, as a tall, fat
man of overpowering aspect threw open the outer
door near by and crossed the lobby to the clerk's
desk. An awe fell upon the sages with this advent.
They were hushed, and after a movement in their
chairs, with a strange effect of huddling, sat
disconcerted and attentive, like school-boys at the
entrance of the master.
The personage had a big, fat, pink face and a
heavily undershot jaw, what whitish beard he wore
following his double chin somewhat after the manner
displayed in the portraits of Henry the Eighth.
His eyes, very bright under puffed upper lids, were
intolerant and insultingly penetrating despite
their small size. Their irritability held a kind of
hotness, and yet the personage exuded frost, not
of the weather, all about him. You could not
imagine man or angel daring to greet this being
genially--sooner throw a kiss to Mount Pilatus!
"Mr. Brown," he said, with ponderous hostility,
in a bull bass, to the clerk--the kind of voice
which would have made an express train leave the
track and go round the other way--"do you hear
"Oh yes, Judge," the clerk replied, swiftly, in
tones as unlike those which he used for strange
transients as a collector's voice in his ladylove's
ear is unlike that which he propels at delinquents.
"Do you see that snow?" asked the personage,
"Yes, Judge." Mr. Brown essayed a placating
smile. "Yes, indeed, Judge Pike."
"Has your employer, the manager of this hotel,
seen that snow?" pursued the personage, with a
gesture of unspeakable solemn menace.
"Yes, sir. I think so. Yes, sir."
"Do you think he fully understands that I am
the proprietor of this building?"
"Certainly, Judge, cer--"
"You will inform him that I do not intend to
be discommoded by his negligence as I pass to
my offices. Tell him from me that unless he keeps
the sidewalks in front of this hotel clear of snow I
will cancel his lease. Their present condition is
outrageous. Do you understand me? Outrageous!
Do you hear?"
"Yes, Judge, I do so," answered the clerk,
hoarse with respect. "I'll see to it this minute,
"You had better." The personage turned
himself about and began a grim progress towards the
door by which he had entered, his eyes fixing
themselves angrily upon the conclave at the windows.
Colonel Flitcroft essayed a smile, a faltering one.
"Fine weather, Judge Pike," he said, hopefully.
There was no response of any kind; the undershot
jaw became more intolerant. The personage
made his opinion of the group disconcertingly
plain, and the old boys understood that he knew
them for a worthless lot of senile loafers, as great a
nuisance in his building as was the snow without;
and much too evident was his unspoken threat
to see that the manager cleared them out of there
He nodded curtly to the only man of substance
among them, Jonas Tabor, and shut the door
behind him with majestic insult. He was Canaan's
He was one of those dynamic creatures who
leave the haunting impression of their wills
behind them, like the tails of Bo-Peep's sheep, like
the evil dead men have done; he left his intolerant
image in the ether for a long time after he had
gone, to confront and confound the aged men and
hold them in deferential and humiliated silence.
Each of them was mysteriously lowered in his own
estimation, and knew that he had been made to
seem futile and foolish in the eyes of his fellows.
They were all conscious, too, that the clerk had
been acutely receptive of Judge Pike's reading of
them; that he was reviving from his own squelchedness
through the later snubbing of the colonel;
also that he might further seek to recover his
poise by an attack on them for cluttering up the
Naturally, Jonas Tabor was the first to speak.
"Judge Pike's lookin' mighty well," he said, admiringly.
"Yes, he is," ventured Squire Buckalew, with
deference; "mighty well."
"Yes, sir," echoed Peter Bradbury; "mighty
"He's a great man," wheezed Uncle Joe Davey;
"a great man, Judge Martin Pike; a great man!"
"I expect he has considerable on his mind,"
said the Colonel, who had grown very red. "I
noticed that he hardly seemed to see us."
"Yes, sir," Mr. Bradbury corroborated, with an
attempt at an amused laugh. "I noticed it, too.
Of course a man with all his cares and interests
must git absent-minded now and then."
"Of course he does," said the colonel. "A
man with all his responsibilities "
"Yes, that's so," came a chorus of the brethren,
finding comfort and reassurance as their voices and
spirits began to recover from the blight.
"There's a party at the Judge's to-night," said
Mr. Bradbury--" kind of a ball Mamie Pike's givin'
for the young folks. Quite a doin's, I hear."
"That's another thing that's ruining Canaan,"
Mr. Arp declared, morosely. "These entertainments
they have nowadays. Spend all the money
out of town--band from Indianapolis, chicken
salad and darkey waiters from Chicago! And
what I want to know is, What's this town goin' to
do about the nigger question?"
"What about it?" asked Mr. Davey, belligerently.
"What about it?" Mr. Arp mocked, fiercely.
"You better say, `What about it?' "
"Well, what?" maintained Mr. Davey, steadfastly.
"I'll bet there ain't any less than four thousand
niggers in Canaan to-day!" Mr. Arp hammered
the floor with his stick. "Every last one of 'em
criminals, and more comin' on every train."
"No such a thing," said Squire Buckalew, living
up to his bounden duty. "You look down the
street. There's the ten-forty-five comin' in now.
I'll bet you a straight five-cent Peek-a-Boo cigar
there ain't ary nigger on the whole train, except
the sleepin'-car porters."
"What kind of a way to argue is that?"
demanded Mr. Arp, hotly. "Bettin' ain't proof, is
it? Besides, that's the through express from the
East. I meant trains from the South."
"You didn't say so," retorted Buckalew,
triumphantly. "Stick to your bet, Eskew, stick to
"My bet!" cried the outraged Eskew. "Who
offered to bet?"
"You did," replied the Squire, with perfect
assurance and sincerity. The others supported
him in the heartiest spirit of on-with-the-dance,
and war and joy were unconfined.
A decrepit hack or two, a couple of old-fashioned
surreys, and a few "cut-unders" drove by, bearing
the newly arrived and their valises, the hotel
omnibus depositing several commercial travellers
at the door. A solitary figure came from the
station on foot, and when it appeared within fair
range of the window, Uncle Joe Davey, who had
but hovered on the flanks of the combat, first
removed his spectacles and wiped them, as though
distrusting the vision they offered him, then,
replacing them, scanned anew the approaching figure
and uttered a smothered cry.
"My Lord A'mighty!" he gasped. "What's
this? Look there!"
They looked. A truce came involuntarily, and
they sat in paralytic silence as the figure made its
stately and sensational progress along Main Street.
Not only the aged men were smitten. Men
shovelling snow from the pavements stopped suddenly
in their labors; two women, talking busily
on a doorstep, were stilled and remained in frozen
attitudes as it passed; a grocer's clerk, crossing
the pavement, carrying a heavily laden basket to
his delivery wagon, halted half-way as the figure
came near, and then, making a pivot of his heels
as it went by, behaved towards it as does the
magnetic needle to the pole.
It was that of a tall gentleman, cheerfully, though
somewhat with ennui, enduring his nineteenth
winter. His long and slender face he wore smiling,
beneath an accurately cut plaster of dark hair
cornicing his forehead, a fashion followed by many
youths of that year. This perfect bang was shown
under a round black hat whose rim was so small as
almost not to be there at all; and the head was
supported by a waxy-white sea-wall of collar,
rising three inches above the blue billows of a puffed
cravat, upon which floated a large, hollow pearl.
His ulster, sporting a big cape at the shoulders,
and a tasselled hood over the cape, was of a rough
Scotch cloth, patterned in faint, gray-and-white
squares the size of baggage-checks, and it was so
long that the skirts trailed in the snow. His legs
were lost in the accurately creased, voluminous
garments that were the tailors' canny reaction
from the tight trousers with which the 'Eighties had
begun: they were, in color, a palish russet, broadly
striped with gray, and, in size, surpassed the milder
spirit of fashion so far as they permitted a liberal
knee action to take place almost without superficial
effect. Upon his feet glistened long shoes,
shaped, save for the heels, like sharp racing-shells;
these were partially protected by tan-colored low
gaiters with flat, shiny, brown buttons. In one
hand the youth swung a bone-handled walking-
stick, perhaps an inch and a half in diameter, the
other carried a yellow leather banjo-case, upon the
outer side of which glittered the embossed-silver
initials, "E. B." He was smoking, but walked
with his head up, making use, however, of a gait at
that time new to Canaan, a seeming superbly
irresponsible lounge, engendering much motion
of the shoulders, producing an effect of carelessness
combined with independence--an effect which the
innocent have been known to hail as an unconscious one.
He looked about him as he came, smilingly, with
an expression of princely amusement--as an elderly
cabinet minister, say, strolling about a village
where he had spent some months in his youth, a
hamlet which he had then thought large and imposing,
but which, being revisited after years of
cosmopolitan glory, appeals to his whimsy and his
pity. The youth's glance at the court-house
unmistakably said: "Ah, I recall that odd little box.
I thought it quite large in the days before I
became what I am now, and I dare say the good
townsfolk still think it an imposing structure!"
With everything in sight he deigned to be amused,
especially with the old faces in the "National
House" windows. To these he waved his stick
with airy graciousness.
"My soul!" said Mr. Davey. "It seems to
know some of us!"
"Yes," agreed Mr. Arp, his voice recovered,
"and _I_ know IT."
"You do?" exclaimed the Colonel.
"I do, and so do you. It's Fanny Louden's boy,
'Gene, come home for his Christmas holidays."
"By George! you're right," cried Flitcroft; "I
recognize him now."
"But what's the matter with him?" asked Mr.
Bradbury, eagerly. "Has he joined some patent-
"Not a bit," replied Eskew. "He went East
to college last fall."
"Do they MAKE the boys wear them clothes?"
persisted Bradbury. "Is it some kind of uniform?"
"I don't care what it is," said Jonas Tabor. "If
I was Henry Louden I wouldn't let him wear 'em
"Oh, you wouldn't, wouldn't you, Jonas?" Mr.
Arp employed the accents of sarcasm. "I'd like to
see Henry Louden try to interfere with 'Gene
Bantry. Fanny'd lock the old fool up in the
The lofty vision lurched out of view.
"I reckon," said the Colonel, leaning forward to
see the last of it--" I reckon Henry Louden's about
the saddest case of abused step-father I ever saw."
"It's his own fault," said Mr. Arp--"twice not
havin' sense enough not to marry. Him with a
son of his own, too!"
"Yes," assented the Colonel, "marryin' a widow
with a son of her own, and that widow Fanny!"
"Wasn't it just the same with her first husband
--Bantry?" Mr. Davey asked, not for information,
as he immediately answered himself. "You bet
it was! Didn't she always rule the roost? Yes,
she did. She made a god of 'Gene from the day
he was born. Bantry's house was run for him, like
Louden's is now."
"And look," exclaimed Mr. Arp, with satisfaction,
"at the way he's turned out!"
"He ain't turned out at all yet; he's too young,"
said Buckalew. "Besides, clothes don't make the
"Wasn't he smokin' a cigareet!" cried Eskew,
triumphantly. This was final.
"It's a pity Henry Louden can't do something
for his own son," said Mr. Bradbury. "Why don't
he send him away to college?"
"Fanny won't let him," chuckled Mr. Arp,
malevolently. "Takes all their spare change to
keep 'Gene there in style. I don't blame her.
'Gene certainly acts the fool, but that Joe Louden
is the orneriest boy I ever saw in an ornery world-
"He always was kind of misCHEEvous," admitted
Buckalew. "I don't think he's mean, though, and
it does seem kind of not just right that Joe's father's
money--Bantry didn't leave anything to speak
of--has to go to keepin' 'Gene on the fat of the
land, with Joe gittin' up at half-past four to carry
papers, and him goin' on nineteen years old."
"It's all he's fit for!" exclaimed Eskew. "He's
low down, I tell ye. Ain't it only last week Judge
Pike caught him shootin' craps with Pike's nigger
driver and some other nigger hired-men in the
alley back of Pike's barn."
Mr. Schindlinger, the retired grocer, one of the
silent members, corroborated Eskew's information.
"I heert dot, too," he gave forth, in his fat voice.
"He blays dominoes pooty often in der room back
off Louie Farbach's tsaloon. I see him myself.
Pooty often. Blayin' fer a leedle money--mit
"Pretty outlook for the Loudens!" said Eskew
Arp, much pleased. "One boy a plum fool and
dressed like it, the other gone to the dogs already!"
"What could you expect Joe to be?" retorted
Squire Buckalew. "What chance has he ever
had? Long as I can remember Fanny's made
him fetch and carry for 'Gene. 'Gene's had everything
--all the fancy clothes, all the pocket-money,
and now college!"
"You ever hear that boy Joe talk politics?"
asked Uncle Joe Davey, crossing a cough with a
chuckle. "His head's so full of schemes fer running
this town, and state, too, it's a wonder it don't
bust. Henry Louden told me he's see Joe set
around and study by the hour how to save three
million dollars for the state in two years."
"And the best he can do for himself," added
Eskew, "is deliverin' the Daily Tocsin on a second-
hand Star bicycle and gamblin' with niggers and
riff-raff! None of the nice young folks invite him
to their doin's any more."
"That's because he's got so shabby he's quit
goin' with em," said Buckalew.
"No, it ain't," snapped Mr. Arp. "It's
because he's so low down. He's no more 'n a town
outcast. There ain't ary one of the girls 'll have
a thing to do with him, except that rip-rarin' tom-
boy next door to Louden's; and the others don't
have much to do with HER, neither, I can tell ye.
That Arie Tabor--"
Colonel Flitcroft caught him surreptitiously by
the arm. "SH, Eskew!" he whispered. "Look
out what you're sayin'!"
"You needn't mind me," Jonas Tabor spoke up,
crisply. "I washed my hands of all responsibility
for Roger's branch of the family long ago. Never
was one of 'em had the energy or brains to make
a decent livin', beginning with Roger; not one
worth his salt! I set Roger's son up in business,
and all the return he ever made me was to go into
bankruptcy and take to drink, till he died a sot,
like his wife did of shame. I done all I could
when I handed him over my store, and I never
expect to lift a finger for 'em again. Ariel Tabor's
my grandniece, but she didn't act like it, and you
can say anything you like about her, for what I
care. The last time I spoke to her was a year
and a half ago, and I don't reckon I'll ever trouble
"How was that, Jonas?" quickly inquired Mr.
Davey, who, being the eldest of the party, was the
most curious. "What happened?"
"She was out in the street, up on that high
bicycle of Joe Louden's. He was teachin' her to
ride, and she was sittin' on it like a man does. I
stopped and told her she wasn't respectable.
Sixteen years old, goin' on seventeen!"
"What did she say?"
"Laughed," said Jonas, his voice becoming
louder as the recital of his wrongs renewed their
sting in his soul. "Laughed!"
"What did you do?"
"I went up to her and told her she wasn't a
decent girl, and shook the wheel." Mr. Tabor
illustrated by seizing the lapels of Joe Davey and
shaking him. "I told her if her grandfather had
any spunk she'd git an old-fashioned hidin' for
behavin' that way. And I shook the wheel again."
Here Mr. Tabor, forgetting in the wrath incited
by the recollection that he had not to do with an
inanimate object, swung the gasping and helpless
Mr. Davey rapidly back and forth in his chair.
"I shook it good and hard!"
"What did she do then?" asked Peter Bradbury.
"Fell off on me," replied Jonas, violently. "On
"I wisht she'd killed ye," said Mr. Davey, in a
choking voice, as, released, he sank back in his
"On purpose!" repeated Jonas. "And smashed
a straw hat I hadn't had three months! All to
pieces! So it couldn't be fixed!"
"And what then?" pursued Bradbury.
"SHE ran, "replied Jonas, bitterly--" ran! And
Joe Louden--Joe Louden--" He paused and
"What did he do?" Peter leaned forward in
his chair eagerly.
The narrator of the outrage gulped again, and
opened and shut his mouth before responding.
"He said if I didn't pay for a broken spoke on
his wheel he'd have to sue me!"
No one inquired if Jonas had paid, and Jonas
said no more. The recollection of his wrongs,
together with the illustrative violence offered to
Mr. Davey, had been too much for him. He sank
back, panting, in his chair, his hands fluttering
nervously over his heart, and closed his eyes.
"I wonder why," ruminated Mr. Bradbury--"I
wonder why 'Gene Bantry walked up from the
deepo. Don't seem much like his style. Should
think he'd of rode up in a hack.
"Sho!" said Uncle Joe Davey, his breath
recovered. "He wanted to walk up past Judge
Pike's, to see if there wasn't a show of Mamie's
bein' at the window, and give her a chance to look
at that college uniform and banjo-box and new
walk of his."
Mr. Arp began to show signs of uneasiness.
"I'd like mighty well to know," he said,
shifting round in his chair, "if there's anybody here
that's been able to answer the question I PUT,
yesterday, just before we went home. You all
tried to, but I didn't hear anything I could
consider anyways near even a fair argument."
"Who tried to?" asked Buckalew, sharply,
sitting up straight. "What question?"
"What proof can you bring me," began Mr.
Arp, deliberately, "that we folks, modernly, ain't
more degenerate than the ancient Romans?"
Main Street, already muffled by
the snow, added to its quietude a
frozen hush where the wonder-bearing
youth pursued his course along
its white, straight way. None was
there in whom impertinence overmastered
astonishment, or who recovered from the sight in time
to jeer with effect; no "Trab's boy" gathered
courage to enact in the thoroughfare a scene of
mockery and of joy. Leaving business at a
temporary stand-still behind him, Mr. Bantry swept
his long coat steadily over the snow and soon
emerged upon that part of the street where the
mart gave way to the home. The comfortable
houses stood pleasantly back from the street, with
plenty of lawn and shrubbery about them; and
often, along the picket-fences, the laden branches
of small cedars, bending low with their burden,
showered the young man's swinging shoulders
glitteringly as he brushed by.
And now that expression he wore--the indulgent
amusement of a man of the world--began to
disintegrate and show signs of change. It became
finely grave, as of a high conventionality, lofty,
assured, and mannered, as he approached the Pike
mansion. (The remotest stranger must at once
perceive that the Canaan papers could not have
called it otherwise without pain.)
It was a big, smooth-stone-faced house,
product of the 'Seventies, frowning under an
outrageously insistent mansard, capped by a cupola,
and staring out of long windows overtopped with
"ornamental" slabs. Two cast-iron deer, painted
death-gray, twins of the same mould, stood on
opposite sides of the front walk, their backs towards
it and each other, their bodies in profile to the
street, their necks bent, however, so that they
gazed upon the passer-by--yet gazed without
emotion. Two large, calm dogs guarded the top
of the steps leading to the front-door; they also
were twins and of the same interesting metal,
though honored beyond the deer by coats of black
paint and shellac. It was to be remarked that
these dogs were of no distinguishable species or
breed, yet they were unmistakably dogs; the
dullest must have recognized them as such at a
glance, which was, perhaps, enough. It was a
hideous house, important-looking, cold, yet harshly
aggressive, a house whose exterior provoked a
shuddering guess of the brass lambrequins and
plush fringes within; a solid house, obviously--
nay, blatantly--the residence of the principal
citizen, whom it had grown to resemble, as is the
impish habit of houses; and it sat in the middle
of its flat acre of snowy lawn like a rich, fat man
enraged and sitting straight up in bed to swear.
And yet there was one charming thing about this
ugly house. Some workmen were enclosing a large
side porch with heavy canvas, evidently for festal
purposes. Looking out from between two strips
of the canvas was the rosy and delicate face of a
pretty girl, smiling upon Eugene Bantry as he
passed. It was an obviously pretty face, all the
youth and prettiness there for your very first
glance; elaborately pretty, like the splendid
profusion of hair about and above it--amber-colored
hair, upon which so much time had been spent that
a circle of large, round curls rose above the mass of
it like golden bubbles tipping a coronet.
The girl's fingers were pressed thoughtfully
against her chin as Eugene strode into view;
immediately her eyes widened and brightened. He
swung along the fence with the handsomest
appearance of unconsciousness, until he reached a
point nearly opposite her. Then he turned his
head, as if haphazardly, and met her eyes. At once
she threw out her hand towards him, waving him
a greeting--a gesture which, as her fingers had been
near her lips, was a little like throwing a kiss. He
crooked an elbow and with a one-two-three military
movement removed his small-brimmed hat, extended
it to full arm's-length at the shoulder-level,
returned it to his head with Life-Guard precision.
This was also new to Canaan. He was letting
Mamie Pike have it all at once.
The impression was as large as he could have
desired. She remained at the opening in the
canvas and watched him until he wagged his shoulders
round the next corner and disappeared into a cross
street. As for Eugene, he was calm with a great
calm, and very red.
He had not covered a great distance, however,
before his gravity was replaced by his former
smiling look of the landed gentleman amused by the
innocent pastimes of the peasants, though there
was no one in sight except a woman sweeping some
snow from the front steps of a cottage, and she,
not perceiving him, retired in-doors without knowing
her loss. He had come to a thinly built part
of the town, the perfect quiet of which made the
sound he heard as he opened the picket gate of
his own home all the more startling. It was a
scream--loud, frantic, and terror-stricken.
Eugene stopped, with the gate half open.
Out of the winter skeleton of a grape-arbor at
one side of the four-square brick house a brown-
faced girl of seventeen precipitated herself through
the air in the midst of a shower of torn card-board
which she threw before her as she leaped. She lit
upon her toes and headed for the gate at top speed,
pursued by a pale young man whose thin arms
strove spasmodically to reach her. Scattering
snow behind them, hair flying, the pair sped on
like two tattered branches before a high wind; for,
as they came nearer Eugene (of whom, in the
tensity of their flight, they took no note), it was
to be seen that both were so shabbily dressed as
to be almost ragged. There was a brown patch
upon the girl's faded skirt at the knee; the shortness
of the garment indicating its age to be something
over three years, as well as permitting the
knowledge to become more general than befitting
that her cotton stockings had been clumsily darned
in several places. Her pursuer was in as evil case;
his trousers displayed a tendency to fringedness at
pocket and heel; his coat, blowing open as he ran,
threw pennants of torn lining to the breeze, and
made it too plain that there were but three buttons
on his waistcoat.
The girl ran beautifully, but a fleeter foot was
behind her, and though she dodged and evaded
like a creature of the woods, the reaching hand
fell upon the loose sleeve of her red blouse, nor fell
lightly. She gave a wrench of frenzy; the antique
fabric refused the strain; parted at the shoulder
seam so thoroughly that the whole sleeve came
away--but not to its owner's release, for she had
been brought round by the jerk, so that, agile as
she had shown herself, the pursuer threw an arm
about her neck, before she could twist away, and
There was a sharp struggle, as short as it was
fierce. Neither of these extraordinary wrestlers
spoke. They fought. Victory hung in the balance
for perhaps four seconds; then the girl was
thrown heavily upon her back, in such a turmoil
of snow that she seemed to be the mere nucleus of a
white comet. She struggled to get up, plying knee
and elbow with a very anguish of determination;
but her opponent held her, pinioned both her
wrists with one hand, and with the other rubbed
great handfuls of snow into her face, sparing
neither mouth nor eyes.
"You will!" he cried. "You will tear up my
pictures! A dirty trick, and you get washed for
Half suffocated, choking, gasping, she still
fought on, squirming and kicking with such spirit
that the pair of them appeared to the beholder
like figures of mist writhing in a fountain of snow.
More violence was to mar the peace of morning.
Unexpectedly attacked from the rear, the
conqueror was seized by the nape of the neck and one
wrist, and jerked to his feet, simultaneously
receiving a succession of kicks from his assailant.
Prompted by an entirely natural curiosity, he
essayed to turn his head to see who this might be,
but a twist of his forearm and the pressure of strong
fingers under his ear constrained him to remain
as he was; therefore, abandoning resistance, and,
oddly enough, accepting without comment the
indication that his captor desired to remain for
the moment incognito, he resorted calmly to
"She tore up a picture of mine," he said,
receiving the punishment without apparent emotion.
"She seemed to think because she'd drawn it herself
she had a right to."
There was a slight whimsical droop at the corner
of his mouth as he spoke, which might have been
thought characteristic of him. He was an odd-
looking boy, not ill-made, though very thin and
not tall. His pallor was clear and even, as though
constitutional; the features were delicate, almost
childlike, but they were very slightly distorted,
through nervous habit, to an expression at once
wistful and humorous; one eyebrow was a shade
higher than the other, one side of the mouth slightly
drawn down; the eyelids twitched a little, habitually;
the fine, blue eyes themselves were almost
comically reproachful--the look of a puppy who
thinks you would not have beaten him if you had
known what was in his heart. All of this was in
the quality of his voice, too, as he said to his
invisible captor, with an air of detachment from any
"What peculiar shoes you wear! I don't think
I ever felt any so pointed before."
The rescuing knight took no thought of offering to
help the persecuted damsel to arise; instead, he
tightened his grip upon the prisoner's neck until,
perforce, water--not tears--started from the latter's eyes.
"You miserable little muff," said the conqueror,
"what the devil do you mean, making this scene
on our front lawn?"
"Why, it's Eugene!" exclaimed the helpless one.
"They didn't expect you till to-night. When did
you get in?"
"Just in time to give you a lesson, my buck,"
replied Bantry, grimly. "In GOOD time for that,
my playful step-brother."
He began to twist the other's wrist--a treatment
of bone and ligament in the application of which
school-boys and even freshmen are often adept.
Eugene made the torture acute, and was apparently
enjoying the work, when suddenly--without any
manner of warning--he received an astounding
blow upon the left ear, which half stunned him
for the moment, and sent his hat flying and himself
reeling, so great was the surprise and shock of it.
It was not a slap, not an open-handed push, nothing
like it, but a fierce, well-delivered blow from a
clinched fist with the shoulder behind it, and it
was the girl who had given it.
"Don't you dare to touch Joe!" she cried,
passionately. "Don't you lay a finger on him."
Furious and red, he staggered round to look at
"You wretched little wild-cat, what do you mean
by that?" he broke out.
"Don't you touch Joe!" she panted. "Don't
you--" Her breath caught and there was a break
in her voice as she faced him. She could not finish
the repetition of that cry, "Don't you touch Joe!"
But there was no break in the spirit, that passion
of protection which had dealt the blow. Both boys
looked at her, something aghast.
She stood before them, trembling with rage and
shivering with cold in the sudden wind which had
come up. Her hair had fallen and blew across
her streaming face in brown witch-wisps; one of
the ill-darned stockings had come down and hung
about her shoe in folds full of snow; the arm which
had lost its sleeve was bare and wet; thin as the
arm of a growing boy, it shook convulsively, and
was red from shoulder to clinched fist. She was
covered with snow. Mists of white drift blew
across her, mercifully half veiling her.
Eugene recovered himself. He swung round
upon his heel, restored his hat to his head with
precision, picked up his stick and touched his
banjo-case with it.
"Carry that into the house," he said, indifferently,
to his step-brother.
"Don't you do it!" said the girl, hotly, between
her chattering teeth.
Eugene turned towards her, wearing the sharp
edge of a smile. Not removing his eyes from her
face, he produced with deliberation a flat silver
box from a pocket, took therefrom a cigarette,
replaced the box, extracted a smaller silver box from
another pocket, shook out of it a fusee, slowly lit
the cigarette--this in a splendid silence, which he
finally broke to say, languidly, but with particular
"Ariel Tabor, go home!"
The girl's teeth stopped chattering, her lips
remaining parted; she shook the hair out of her eyes
and stared at him as if she did not understand, but
Joe Louden, who had picked up the banjo-case
obediently, burst into cheerful laughter.
"That's it, 'Gene," he cried, gayly. "That's the
way to talk to her!"
"Stow it, you young cub," replied Eugene, not
turning to him. "Do you think I'm trying to be
"I don't know what you mean by `stow it,' " Joe
began, "but if--"
"I mean," interrupted the other, not relaxing
his faintly smiling stare at the girl--" I mean that
Ariel Tabor is to go home. Really, we can't have
this kind of thing occurring upon our front lawn!"
The flush upon her wet cheeks deepened and
became dark; even her arm grew redder as she gazed
back at him. In his eyes was patent his complete
realization of the figure she cut, of this bare arm,
of the strewn hair, of the fallen stocking, of the
ragged shoulder of her blouse, of her patched short
skirt, of the whole dishevelled little figure. He
was the master of the house, and he was sending
her home as ill-behaved children are sent home by
The immobile, amused superiority of this
proprietor of silver boxes, this wearer of strange and
brilliant garments, became slightly intensified as
he pointed to the fallen sleeve, a rag of red and
snow, lying near her feet.
"You might take that with you?" he said,
Her gaze had not wavered in meeting his, but
at this her eyelashes began to wink uncontrollably,
her chin to tremble. She bent over the sleeve and
picked it up, before Joe Louden, who had started
towards her, could do it for her. Then turning,
her head still bent so that her face was hidden
from both of them, she ran out of the gate.
"DO go!" Joe called after her, vehemently. "Go!
Just to show what a fool you are to think 'Gene's
He would have followed, but his step-brother
caught him by the arm. "Don't stop her," said
Eugene. "Can't you tell when I AM in earnest,
you bally muff!"
"I know you are," returned the other, in a low
voice. "I didn't want her to think so for your
"Thousands of thanks," said Eugene, airily.
"You are a wise young judge. She couldn't stay--
in THAT state, could she? I sent her for her own
"She could have gone in the house and your
mother might have loaned her a jacket," returned
Joe, swallowing. "You had no business to make
her go out in the street like that."
Eugene laughed. "There isn't a soul in sight
--and there, she's all right now. She's home."
Ariel had run along the fence until she came to
the next gate, which opened upon a walk leading
to a shabby, meandering old house of one story,
with a very long, low porch, once painted white,
running the full length of the front. Ariel sprang
upon the porch and disappeared within the house.
Joe stood looking after her, his eyelashes winking
as had hers. "You oughtn't to have treated
her that way," he said, huskily.
Eugene laughed again. "How were YOU treating
her when I came up? You bully her all you
want to yourself, but nobody else must say even
a fatherly word to her!"
"That wasn't bullying," explained Joe. "We
fight all the time."
"Mais oui!" assented Eugene. "I fancy!"
"What?" said the other, blankly.
"Pick up that banjo-case again and come on,"
commanded Mr. Bantry, tartly. "Where's the
Joe stared at him. "Where's what?"
"The mater!" was the frowning reply.
"Oh yes, I know!" said Joe, looking at his step-
brother curiously. "I've seen it in stories. She's
up-stairs. You'll be a surprise. You're wearing
lots of clothes, 'Gene."
"I suppose it will seem so to Canaan," returned
the other, weariedly. "Governor feeling fit?"
"I never saw him," Joe replied; then caught
himself. "Oh, I see what you mean! Yes, he's
They had come into the hall, and Eugene was
removing the long coat, while his step-brother looked
at him thoughtfully.
"'Gene," asked the latter, in a softened voice,
"have you seen Mamie Pike yet?"
"You will find, my young friend," responded
Mr. Bantry, "if you ever go about much outside
of Canaan, that ladies' names are not supposed
to be mentioned indiscriminately."
"It's only," said Joe, "that I wanted to say that
there's a dance at their house to-night. I suppose
you'll be going?"
"Certainly. Are you?"
Both knew that the question was needless; but
Joe answered, gently:
"Oh no, of course not." He leaned over and
fumbled with one foot as if to fasten a loose shoe-
string. "She wouldn't be very likely to ask me."
"Well, what about it?"
"Only that--that Arie Tabor's going."
"Indeed!" Eugene paused on the stairs, which
he had begun to ascend. "Very interesting."
"I thought," continued Joe, hopefully, straightening
up to look at him, "that maybe you'd dance
with her. I don't believe many will ask her--I'm
afraid they won't--and if you would, even only
once, it would kind of make up for"--he faltered
--"for out there," he finished, nodding his head
in the direction of the gate.
If Eugene vouchsafed any reply, it was lost in
a loud, shrill cry from above, as a small, intensely
nervous-looking woman in blue silk ran half-way
down the stairs to meet him and caught him
tearfully in her arms.
"Dear old mater!" said Eugene.
Joe went out of the front-door quickly.
The door which Ariel had entered
opened upon a narrow hall, and
down this she ran to her own room,
passing, with face averted, the entrance
to the broad, low-ceilinged
chamber that had served Roger Tabor as a studio
for almost fifty years. He was sitting there now,
in a hopeless and disconsolate attitude, with his
back towards the double doors, which were open,
and had been open since their hinges had begun
to give way, when Ariel was a child. Hearing her
step, he called her name, but did not turn; and,
receiving no answer, sighed faintly as he heard her
own door close upon her.
Then, as his eyes wandered about the many
canvases which leaned against the dingy walls, he
sighed again. Usually they showed their brown
backs, but to-day he had turned them all to face
outward. Twilight, sunset, moonlight (the Courthouse
in moonlight), dawn, morning, noon (Main
Street at noon), high summer, first spring, red
autumn, midwinter, all were there--illimitably
detailed, worked to a smoothness like a glaze, and
all lovingly done with unthinkable labor.
And there were "Italian Flower-Sellers,"
damsels with careful hair, two figures together, one
blonde, the other as brunette as lampblack, the
blonde--in pink satin and blue slippers--leaning
against a pillar and smiling over the golden coins
for which she had exchanged her posies; the brunette
seated at her feet, weeping upon an unsold
bouquet. There were red-sashed "Fisher Lads "
wading with butterfly-nets on their shoulders;
there was a "Tying the Ribbon on Pussy's Neck";
there were portraits in oil and petrifactions in
crayon, as hard and tight as the purses of those
who had refused to accept them, leaving them
upon their maker's hands because the likeness had
After a time the old man got up, went to his
easel near a window, and, sighing again, began
patiently to work upon one of these failures--a
portrait, in oil, of a savage old lady, which he was
doing from a photograph. The expression of the
mouth and the shape of the nose had not pleased
her descendants and the beneficiaries under the
will, and it was upon the images of these features
that Roger labored. He leaned far forward, with
his face close to the canvas, holding his brushes
after the Spencerian fashion, working steadily
through the afternoon, and, when the light grew
dimmer, leaning closer to his canvas to see. When
it had become almost dark in the room, he lit a
student-lamp with a green-glass shade, and, placing
it upon a table beside him, continued to paint.
Ariel's voice interrupted him at last.
"It's quitting-time, grandfather," she called,
gently, from the doorway behind him.
He sank back in his chair, conscious, for the
first time, of how tired he had grown. "I suppose
so," he said, "though it seemed to me that
I was just getting my hand in." His eyes brightened
for a moment. "I declare, I believe I've
caught it a great deal better. Come and look,
Ariel. Doesn't it seem to you that I'm getting
it? Those pearly shadows in the flesh--"
"I'm sure of it. Those people ought to be very
proud to have it." She came to him quietly, took
the palette and brushes from his hands and began
to clean them, standing in the shadow behind him.
"It's too good for them."
"I wonder if it is," he said, slowly, leaning
forward and curving his hands about his eyes so as
to shut off everything from his view except the
canvas. "I wonder if it is!" he repeated. Then
his hands dropped sadly in his lap, and he sank
back again with a patient kind of revulsion. "No,
no, it isn't! I always think they're good when
I've just finished them. I've been fooled that
way all my life. They don't look the same afterwards."
"They're always beautiful," she said, softly.
"Ah, ah!" he sighed.
"Now, Roger!" she cried, with cheerful sharpness,
continuing her work.
"I know," he said, with a plaintive laugh,--"I
know. Sometimes I think that all my reward
has been in the few minutes I've had just after
finishing them. During those few minutes I seem
to see in them all that I wanted to put in them;
I see it because what I've been trying to express
is still so warm in my own eyes that I seem to have
got it on the canvas where I wanted it."
"But you do," she said. "You do get it there."
"No," he murmured, in return. "I never did.
I got out some of the old ones when I came in this
morning, some that I hadn't looked at for years, and
it's the same with them. You can do it much
better yourself--your sketches show it."
"No, no!" she protested, quickly.
"Yes, they do; and I wondered if it was only
because you were young. But those I did when
I was young are almost the same as the ones I
paint now. I haven't learned much. There hasn't
been any one to show me! And you can't learn
from print, never! Yet I've grown in what I SEE--
grown so that the world is full of beauty to me
that I never dreamed of seeing when I began.
But I can't paint it--I can't get it on the canvas.
Ah, I think I might have known how to, if I
hadn't had to teach myself, if I could only have
seen how some of the other fellows did their work.
If I'd ever saved money to get away from Canaan
--if I could have gone away from it and come
back knowing how to paint it--if I could have got
to Paris for just one month! PARIS--for just one
"Perhaps we will; you can't tell what MAY happen."
It was always her reply to this cry of his.
"PARIS--for just one month!" he repeated, with
infinite wistfulness, and then realizing what an
old, old cry it was with him, he shook his head,
impatiently sniffing out a laugh at himself, rose
and went pottering about among the canvases,
returning their faces to the wall, and railing at
"Whatever took me into it, I don't know. I
might have done something useful. But I couldn't
bring myself ever to consider doing anything else--
I couldn't bear even to think of it! Lord forgive
me, I even tried to encourage your father to paint.
Perhaps he might as well, poor boy, as to have put
all he'd made into buying Jonas out. Ah me!
There you go, `Flower-Girls'! Turn your silly
faces to the wall and smile and cry there till I'm
gone and somebody throws you on a bonfire. I'LL
never look at you again." He paused, with the
canvas half turned. "And yet," he went on,
reflectively, "a man promised me thirty-five dollars
for that picture once. I painted it to order,
but he went away before I finished it, and never
answered the letters I wrote him about it. I wish
I had the money now--perhaps we could have
more than two meals a day."
"We don't need more," said Ariel, scraping the
palette attentively. "It's healthier with only
breakfast and supper. I think I'd rather have a
new dress than dinner."
"I dare say you would," the old man mused.
"You're young--you're young. What were you
doing all this afternoon, child?"
"In my room, trying to make over mamma's
wedding-dress for to-night."
"Mamie Pike invited me to a dance at their
"Very well; I'm glad you're going to be gay,"
he said, not seeing the faintly bitter smile that
came to her face.
"I don't think I'll be very gay," she answered.
"I don't know why I go--nobody ever asks me to
"Why not?" he asked, with an old man's astonishment.
"I don't know. Perhaps it's because I don't
dress very well." Then, as he made a sorrowful
gesture, she cut him off before he could speak.
"Oh, it isn't altogether because we're poor; it's
more I don't know how to wear what I've got, the
way some girls do. I never cared much and--
well, I'M not worrying, Roger! And I think I've
done a good deal with mamma's dress. It's a very
grand dress. I wonder I never thought of wearing it
until to-day. I may be"--she laughed and blushed
--"I may be the belle of the ball--who knows!"
"You'll want me to walk over with you and
come for you afterwards, I expect."
"Only to take me. It may be late when I
come away--if a good many SHOULD ask me to
dance, for once! Of course I could come home
alone. But Joe Louden is going to sort of hang
around outside, and he'll meet me at the gate and
see me safe home."
"Oh!" he exclaimed, blankly.
"Isn't it all right?" she asked.
"I think I'd better come for you," he answered,
gently. "The truth is, I--I think you'd better not
be with Joe Louden a great deal."
"Well, he doesn't seem a vicious boy to me, but
I'm afraid he's getting rather a bad name, my
"He's not getting one," she said, gravely. "He's
already got one. He's had a bad name in Canaan
for a long while. It grew in the first place out of
shabbiness and mischief, but it did grow; and if
people keep on giving him a bad name the time
will come when he'll live up to it. He's not any
worse than I am, and I guess my own name isn't
too good--for a girl. And yet, so far, there's nothing
against him except his bad name."
"I'm afraid there is," said Roger. "It doesn't
look very well for a young man of his age to be
doing no better than delivering papers."
"It gives him time to study law," she answered,
quickly. "If he clerked all day in a store, he
"I didn't know he was studying now. I thought
I'd heard that he was in a lawyer's office for a few
weeks last year, and was turned out for setting fire
to it with a pipe--"
"It was an accident," she interposed.
"But some pretty important papers were burned,
and after that none of the other lawyers would
"He's not in an office," she admitted. "I didn't
mean that. But he studies a great deal. He
goes to the courts all the time they're in session,
and he's bought some books of his own."
"Well--perhaps," he assented; "but they say
he gambles and drinks, and that last week Judge
Pike threatened to have him arrested for throwing
dice with some negroes behind the Judge's stable."
"What of it? I'm about the only nice person in
town that will have anything to do with him--
and nobody except you thinks I'M very nice!"
"I know all about his gambling with darkies,"
she continued, excitedly, her voice rising, "and I
know that he goes to saloons, and that he's an
intimate friend of half the riffraff in town; and I know
the reason for it, too, because he's told me. He
wants to know them, to understand them; and he
says some day they'll make him a power, and then
he can help them!"
The old man laughed helplessly. "But I can't
let him bring you home, my dear."
She came to him slowly and laid her hands upon
his shoulders. Grandfather and granddaughter
were nearly of the same height, and she looked
squarely into his eyes. "Then you must say it is
because you want to come for me, not because I
mustn't come with Joe."
"But I think it is a little because you mustn't
come with Joe," he answered, "especially from
the Pikes'. Don't you see that it mightn't be
well for Joe himself, if the Judge should happen to
see him? I understand he warned the boy to keep
away from the neighborhood entirely or he would
have him locked up for dice-throwing. The Judge
is a very influential man, you know, and as
determined in matters like this as he is irritable."
"Oh, if you put it on that ground," the girl
replied, her eyes softening, "I think you'd better
come for me yourself."
"Very well, I put it on that ground," he
returned, smiling upon her
"Then I'll send Joe word and get supper," she
said, kissing him.
It was the supper-hour not only for them but
everywhere in Canaan, and the cold air of the
streets bore up and down and around corners the
smell of things frying. The dining-room windows
of all the houses threw bright patches on the snow
of the side-yards; the windows of other rooms,
except those of the kitchens, were dark, for the
rule of the place was Puritanical in thrift, as in all
things; and the good housekeepers disputed every
record of the meters with unhappy gas-collectors.
There was no better housekeeper in town than
Mrs. Louden, nor a thriftier, but hers was one of
the few houses in Canaan, that evening, which
showed bright lights in the front rooms while the
family were at supper. It was proof of the agitation
caused by the arrival of Eugene that she forgot
to turn out the gas in her parlor, and in the
chamber she called a library, on her way to the
That might not have been thought a cheerful
feast for Joe Louden. The fatted calf was upon the
board, but it had not been provided for the prodigal,
who, in this case, was the brother that stayed at
home: the fete rewarded the good brother, who had
been in strange lands, and the good one had found
much honor in his wanderings, as he carelessly let
it appear. Mrs. Louden brightened inexpressibly
whenever Eugene spoke of himself, and consequently
she glowed most of the time. Her husband--
a heavy, melancholy, silent man with a grizzled
beard and no mustache--lowered at Joe throughout
the meal, but appeared to take a strange comfort
in his step-son's elegance and polish. Eugene
wore new evening clothes and was lustrous to eye
Joe escaped as soon as he could, though not
before the count of his later sins had been set before
Eugene in detail, in mass, and in all of their depth,
breadth, and thickness. His father spoke but
once, after nodding heavily to confirm all points of
Mrs. Louden's recital.
"You better use any influence you've got with
your brother," he said to Eugene, "to make him
come to time. I can't do anything with him. If
he gets in trouble, he needn't come to me! I'll
never help him again. I'm TIRED of it!"
Eugene glanced twinklingly at the outcast. "I
didn't know he was such a roarer as all that!" he
said, lightly, not taking Joe as of enough consequence
to be treated as a sinner.
This encouraged Mrs. Louden to pathos upon
the subject of her shame before other women
when Joe happened to be mentioned, and the supper
was finished with the topic. Joe slipped away
through the kitchen, sneakingly, and climbed the
back fence. In the alley he lit a cheap cigarette,
and thrusting his hands into his pockets and shivering
violently--for he had no overcoat,--walked
away singing to himself, "A Spanish cavalier
stood in his retreat," his teeth affording an
appropriate though involuntary castanet accompaniment.
His movements throughout the earlier part of
that evening are of uncertain report. It is known
that he made a partial payment of forty-five cents
at a second-hand book-store for a number of volumes--
Grindstaff on Torts and some others--which
he had negotiated on the instalment system; it is
also believed that he won twenty-eight cents
playing seven-up in the little room behind Louie Farbach's
bar; but these things are of little import
compared to the established fact that at eleven
o'clock he was one of the ball guests at the Pike
Mansion. He took no active part in the festivities,
nor was he one of the dancers: his was, on the
contrary, the role of a quiet observer. He lay stretched
at full length upon the floor of the enclosed
porch (one of the strips of canvas was later found
to have been loosened), wedged between the outer
railing and a row of palms in green tubs. The
position he occupied was somewhat too draughty
to have been recommended by a physician, but he
commanded, between the leaves of the screening
palms, an excellent view of the room nearest the
porch. A long window, open, afforded communication
between this room, one of those used for
dancing, and the dim bower which had been made
of the veranda, whither flirtatious couples made
their way between the dances.
It was not to play eavesdropper upon any of
these that the uninvited Joe had come. He was
not there to listen, and it is possible that, had the
curtains of other windows afforded him the chance
to behold the dance, he might not have risked the
dangers of his present position. He had not the
slightest interest in the whispered coquetries that
he heard; he watched only to catch now and then,
over the shoulders of the dancers, a fitful glimpse
of a pretty head that flitted across the window--
the amber hair of Mamie Pike. He shivered in the
draughts; and the floor of the porch was cement,
painful to elbow and knee, the space where he lay
cramped and narrow; but the golden bubbles of
her hair, the shimmer of her dainty pink dress,
and the fluffy wave of her lace scarf as she crossed
and recrossed in a waltz, left him, apparently, in
no discontent. He watched with parted lips, his
pale cheeks reddening whenever those fair glimpses
were his. At last she came out to the veranda with
Eugene and sat upon a little divan, so close to Joe
that, daring wildly in the shadow, he reached out
a trembling hand and let his fingers rest upon the
end of her scarf, which had fallen from her shoulders
and touched the floor. She sat with her back
to him, as did Eugene.
"You have changed, I think, since last summer,"
he heard her say, reflectively.
"For the worse, ma cherie?" Joe's expression
might have been worth seeing when Eugene said
"ma cherie," for it was known in the Louden
household that Mr. Bantry had failed to pass his
examination in the French language.
"No," she answered. "But you have seen so
much and accomplished so much since then. You
have become so polished and so--" She paused,
and then continued, "But perhaps I'd better not
say it; you might be offended."
"No. I want you to say it," he returned,
confidently, and his confidence was fully justified, for
"Well, then, I mean that you have become so
thoroughly a man of the world. Now I've said it!
You ARE offended--aren't you?"
"Not at all, not at all," replied Mr. Bantry,
preventing by a masterful effort his pleasure from
showing in his face. "Though I suppose you mean
to imply that I'm rather wicked."
"Oh no," said Mamie, with profound admiration,
"not exactly wicked."
"University life IS fast nowadays," Eugene
admitted. "It's difficult not to be drawn into it!"
"And I suppose you look down on poor little
Canaan now, and everybody in it!"
"Oh no," he laughed, indulgently. "Not at all,
not at all! I find it very amusing."
"All of it?"
"Not you," he answered, becoming very grave.
"Honestly--DON'T you?" Her young voice trembled
"Honestly--indeed--truly--" Eugene leaned
very close to her and the words were barely audible.
"You KNOW I don't!"
"Then I'm--glad," she whispered, and Joe saw
his step-brother touch her hand, but she rose quickly.
"There's the music," she cried, happily. "It's
a waltz, and it's YOURS!"
Joe heard her little high heels tapping gayly
towards the window, followed by the heavier tread
of Eugene, but he did not watch them go.
He lay on his back, with the hand that had
touched Mamie's scarf pressed across his closed
The music of that waltz was of the old-fashioned
swingingly sorrowful sort, and it would be hard to
say how long it was after that before the boy could
hear the air played without a recurrence of the
bitterness of that moment. The rhythmical pathos
of the violins was in such accord with a faint sound
of weeping which he heard near him, presently,
that for a little while he believed this sound to be
part of the music and part of himself. Then it
became more distinct, and he raised himself on one
elbow to look about.
Very close to him, sitting upon the divan in the
shadow, was a girl wearing a dress of beautiful silk.
She was crying softly, her face in her hands.
Ariel had worked all the afternoon
over her mother's wedding-gown,
and two hours were required by her
toilet for the dance. She curled her
hair frizzily, burning it here and
there, with a slate-pencil heated over a lamp
chimney, and she placed above one ear three or
four large artificial roses, taken from an old hat
of her mother's, which she had found in a trunk
in the store-room. Possessing no slippers, she
carefully blacked and polished her shoes, which had
been clumsily resoled, and fastened into the strings
of each small rosettes of red ribbon; after which
she practised swinging the train of her skirt until
she was proud of her manipulation of it. She
had no powder, but found in her grandfather's
room a lump of magnesia, that he was in the habit
of taking for heart-burn, and passed it over and
over her brown face and hands. Then a lingering
gaze into her small mirror gave her joy at last: she
yearned so hard to see herself charming that she
did see herself so. Admiration came and she told
herself that she was more attractive to look at
than she had ever been in her life, and that,
perhaps, at last she might begin to be sought for like
other girls. The little glass showed a sort of
prettiness in her thin, unmatured young face; tripping
dance-tunes ran through her head, her feet keeping
the time,--ah, she did so hope to dance often
that night! Perhaps--perhaps she might be asked
for every number. And so, wrapping an old waterproof
cloak about her, she took her grandfather's
arm and sallied forth, high hopes in her beating
It was in the dressing-room that the change began
to come. Alone, at home in her own ugly little
room, she had thought herself almost beautiful,
but here in the brightly lighted chamber crowded
with the other girls it was different. There was
a big cheval-glass at one end of the room, and she
faced it, when her turn came--for the mirror was
popular--with a sinking spirit. There was the
contrast, like a picture painted and framed. The
other girls all wore their hair after the fashion
introduced to Canaan by Mamie Pike the week before,
on her return from a visit to Chicago. None
of them had "crimped" and none had bedecked
their tresses with artificial flowers. Her alterations
of the wedding-dress had not been successful; the
skirt was too short in front and higher on one
side than on the other, showing too plainly the
heavy-soled shoes, which had lost most of their
polish in the walk through the snow. The ribbon
rosettes were fully revealed, and as she glanced at
their reflection she heard the words, "LOOK AT THAT
TRAIN AND THOSE ROSETTES!" whispered behind her, and
saw in the mirror two pretty young women turn
away with their handkerchiefs over their mouths
and retreat hurriedly to an alcove. All the feet
in the room except Ariel's were in dainty kid or
satin slippers of the color of the dresses from which
they glimmered out, and only Ariel wore a train.
She went away from the mirror and pretended
to be busy with a hanging thread in her sleeve.
She was singularly an alien in the chattering
room, although she had been born and lived all
her life in the town. Perhaps her position among
the young ladies may be best defined by the remark,
generally current among them, that evening,
to the effect that it was "very sweet of Mamie
to invite her." Ariel was not like the others; she
was not of them, and never had been. Indeed, she
did not know them very well. Some of them
nodded to her and gave her a word of greeting
pleasantly; all of them whispered about her with
wonder and suppressed amusement; but none
talked to her. They were not unkindly, but they