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The Conquest of Canaan by Booth Tarkington

Part 4 out of 7

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preparations concluded, Eugene sprawled
comfortably upon the rug, and Mamie seated herself
near him, while Ariel wandered with apparent
aimlessness about the lawn, followed by the gaze
of Mr. Bantry, until Miss Pike begged her, a little
petulantly, to join them.

She came, looking about her dreamily, and
touching to her lips, now and then, with an absent
air, a clover blossom she had found in the longer
grass against the fence. She stopped to pat the
neck of one of the cast-iron deer, and with grave
eyes proffered the clover-top first for inspection,
then as food. There were those in the world
who, seeing her, might have wondered that the
deer did not play Galatea and come to life.

"No?" she said, aloud, to the steadfast head.
"You won't? What a mistake to be made of cast-
iron!" She smiled and nodded to a clump of lilac-
bushes near a cedar-tree, and to nothing else--so
far as Eugene and Mamie could see,--then walked
thoughtfully to the steps.

"Who in the world were you speaking to?" asked
Mamie, curiously.

"That deer."

"But you bowed to some one."

"Oh, that," Ariel lifted her eyebrows,--"that
was your father. Didn't you see him?"


"I believe you can't from here, after all," said
Ariel, slowly. "He is sitting upon a rustic bench
between the bushes and the cedar-tree, quite near
the gate. No, you couldn't see him from here;
you'd have to go as far as the deer, at least, and
even then you might not notice him, unless you
looked for him. He has a book--a Bible, I think--
but I don't think he is reading."

"He usually takes a nap on Sunday afternoons,"
said Mamie.

"I don't think he will, to-day." Ariel looked at
Eugene, who avoided her clear gaze. "He has the
air of having settled himself to stay for a long time,
perhaps until evening."

She had put on her hat after dinner, and Mamie
now inquired if she would not prefer to remove it,
offering to carry it in-doors for her, to Ariel's
room, to insure its safety. "You look so sort of
temporary, wearing it," she urged, "as if you were
only here for a little while. It's the loveliest hat I
ever saw, and so fragile, too, but I'll take care--"

Ariel laughed, leaned over, and touched the
other's hand lightly. "It isn't that, dear."

"What is it, then?" Mamie beamed out into a
joyful smile. She had felt sure that she could not
understand Ariel; was, indeed, afraid of her; and
she found herself astonishingly pleased to be called
"dear," and delighted with the little familiarity
of the hand-tap. Her feeling toward the visitor
(who was, so her father had announced, to become
a permanent member of the household) had been,
until now, undefined. She had been on her guard,
watching for some sign of conscious "superiority"
in this lady who had been so long over-seas, not
knowing what to make of her; though thrown,
by the contents of her trunks, into a wistfulness
which would have had something of rapture in it
had she been sure that she was going to like Ariel.
She had gone to the latter's room before church,
and had perceived uneasily that it had become,
even by the process of unpacking, the prettiest
room she had ever seen. Mrs. Warden, wife of
Sam, and handmaiden of the mansion, was assisting,
alternately faint and vociferous with marvelling.
Mamie feared that Ariel might be a little

With the word "dear" (that is, of course, with the
way it was spoken), and with the touch upon the
hand, it was all suddenly settled; she would not
understand Ariel always--that was clear--but they
would like each other.

"I am wearing my hat," answered Ariel,
"because at any moment I may decide to go for a long

"Oh, I hope not," said Mamie. "There are sure
to be people: a few still come, even though I'm an
engaged girl. I expect that's just to console me,
though," she added, smiling over this worn quip
of the betrothed, and shaking her head at Eugene,
who grew red and coughed. "There'll be plenty
to-day, but they won't be here to see me. It's you,
Ariel, and they'd be terribly disappointed if you
weren't here. I shouldn't wonder if the whole
town came; it's curious enough about you!"

Canaan (at least that part of it which Mamie
meant when she said "the whole town") already
offered testimony to her truthfulness. Two gentlemen,
aged nine and eleven, and clad in white
"sailor suits," were at that moment grooving their
cheeks between the round pickets of the gate.
They had come from the house across the street,
evidently stimulated by the conversation at their
own recent dinner-table (they wore a few deposits
such as are left by chocolate-cake), and the motive
of their conduct became obvious when, upon being
joined by a person from next door (a starched and
frilled person of the opposite sex but sympathetic
age), one of them waggled a forefinger through the
gate at Ariel, and a voice was heard in explanation:


There was a rustle in the lilac-bushes near the
cedar-tree; the three small heads turned simultaneously
in that direction; something terrific was
evidently seen, and with a horrified "OOOH!" the
trio skedaddled headlong.

They were but the gay vanguard of the life
which the street, quite dead through the Sunday
dinner-hour, presently took on. Young couples
with their progeny began to appear, returning
from the weekly reunion Sunday dinner with
relatives; young people meditative (until they reached
the Pike Mansion), the wives fanning themselves
or shooing the tots-able-to-walk ahead of them,
while the husbands, wearing long coats, satin ties,
and showing dust upon their blazing shoes,
invariably pushed the perambulators. Most of these
passers-by exchanged greetings with Mamie and
Eugene, and all of them looked hard at Ariel as
long as it was possible.

And now the young men of the town, laboriously
arranged as to apparel, began to appear on the
street in small squads, making their Sunday rounds;
the youngest working in phalanxes of threes and
fours, those somewhat older inclining to move in
pairs; the eldest, such as were now beginning to
be considered middle-aged beaux, or (by the
extremely youthful) "old bachelors," evidently
considered it advantageous to travel alone. Of all
these, there were few who did not, before evening
fell, turn in at the gate of the Pike Mansion.
Consciously, shyly or confidently, according to the
condition of their souls, they made their way
between the cast-iron deer to be presented to the

Ariel sat at the top of the steps, and, looking
amiably over their heads, talked with such as
could get near her. There were many who could
not, and Mamie, occupying the bench below, was
surrounded by the overflow. The difficulty of
reaching and maintaining a position near Miss
Tabor was increased by the attitude and behavior
of Mr. Flitcroft, who that day cooled the feeling
of friendship which several of his fellow-townsmen
had hitherto entertained for him. He had been
the first to arrive, coming alone, though that was
not his custom, and he established himself at
Ariel's right, upon the step just below her, so
disposing the great body and the ponderous arms and
legs the gods had given him, that no one could
mount above him to sit beside her, or approach
her from that direction within conversational
distance. Once established, he was not to be
dislodged, and the only satisfaction for those in
this manner debarred from the society of the
beautiful stranger was obtained when they were
presented to her and when they took their departure.
On these occasions it was necessary by custom for
them to shake her hand, a ceremony they accomplished
by leaning across Mr. Flitcroft, which was a
long way to lean, and the fat back and shoulders
were sore that night because of what had been
surreptitiously done to them by revengeful elbows
and knees.

Norbert, not ordinarily talkative, had nothing
to say; he seemed to find sufficient occupation in
keeping the place he had gained; and from this
close vantage he fastened his small eyes immovably
upon Ariel's profile. Eugene, also apparently
determined not to move, sat throughout the
afternoon at her left, but as he was thin, others,
who came and went, were able to approach upon
that side and hold speech with her.

She was a stranger to these young people, most
of whom had grown up together in a nickname
intimacy. Few of them had more than a very
imperfect recollection of her as she was before Roger
Tabor and she had departed out of Canaan. She
had lived her girlhood only upon their borderland,
with no intimates save her grandfather and
Joe; and she returned to her native town "a
revelation and a dream," as young Mr. Bradbury told
his incredulous grandmother that night.

The conversation of the gallants consisted, for
the greater part, of witticisms at one another's
expense, which, though evoked for Ariel's benefit (all
eyes furtively reverting to her as each shaft was
loosed), she found more or less enigmatical. The
young men, however, laughed at each other loudly,
and seemed content if now and then she smiled.
"You must be frightfully ennuied with all this,"
Eugene said to her. "You see how provincial we
still are."

She did not answer; she had not heard him. The
shadows were stretching themselves over the grass,
long and attenuated; the sunlight upon the trees
and houses was like a thin, rosy pigment; black
birds were calling each other home to beech and
elm; and Ariel's eyes were fixed upon the western
distance of the street where gold-dust was beginning
to quiver in the air. She did not hear Eugene,
but she started, a moment later, when the name
"Joe Louden" was pronounced by a young man,
the poetic Bradbury, on the step below Eugene.
Some one immediately said "'SH!" But she leaned
over and addressed Mr. Bradbury, who, shut out,
not only from the group about her, but from the
other centring upon Miss Pike, as well, was holding
a private conversation with a friend in like misfortune.

"What were you saying of Mr. Louden?" she
asked, smiling down upon the young man. (It
was this smile which inspired his description of her
as "a revelation and a dream.")

"Oh, nothing particular," was his embarrassed
reply. "I only mentioned I'd heard there was
some talk among the--" He paused awkwardly,
remembering that Ariel had walked with Joseph
Louden in the face of Canaan that very day.
"That is, I mean to say, there's some talk of his
running for Mayor."


There was a general exclamation, followed by
an uncomfortable moment or two of silence. No
one present was unaware of that noon walk, though
there was prevalent a pleasing notion that it would
not happen again, founded on the idea that Ariel,
having only arrived the previous evening, had
probably met Joe on the street by accident, and,
remembering him as a playmate of her childhood
and uninformed as to his reputation, had, naturally
enough, permitted him to walk home with her.

Mr. Flitcroft broke the silence, rushing into words
with a derisive laugh: "Yes, he's `talked of' for
Mayor--by the saloon people and the niggers! I
expect the Beaver Beach crowd would be for him,
and if tramps could vote he might--"

"What is Beaver Beach?" asked Ariel, not turning.

"What is Beaver Beach?" he repeated, and cast
his eyes to the sky, shaking his head awesomely.
"It's a Place," he said, with abysmal solemnity,
--"a Place I shouldn't have mentioned in your
presence, Miss Tabor."

"What has it to do with Mr. Louden?"

The predestined Norbert conceived the present
to be a heaven-sent opportunity to enlighten her
concerning Joe's character, since the Pikes
appeared to have been derelict in the performance of
this kindness.

"He goes there!" he proceeded heavily. "He
lived there for a while when he first came back
from running away, and he's a friend of Mike
Sheehan's that runs it; he's a friend of all the riff-
raff that hang around there."

"How do you know he goes there?"

"Why, it was in the paper the day after he came
back!" He appealed for corroboration. "Wasn't
it, Eugene?"

"No, no!" she persisted. "Newspapers are
sometimes mistaken, aren't they?" Laughing a
little, she swept across the bulbous face beside her
a swift regard that was like a search-light. "How
do you KNOW, Mr. Flitcroft," she went on very
rapidly, raising her voice,--"how do you KNOW
that Mr. Louden is familiar with this place? The
newspapers may have been falsely informed; you
must admit that? Then how do you KNOW?
Have you ever MET any one who has seen him there?"

"I've seen him there myself!" The words
skipped out of Norbert's mouth like so many little
devils, the instant he opened it. She had spoken
so quickly and with such vehemence, looking him
full in the eye, that he had forgotten everything in
the world except making the point to which her
insistence had led him.

Mamie looked horrified; there was a sound of
smothered laughter, and Norbert, overwhelmed by
the treachery of his own mouth, sat gasping.

"It can't be such a terrific place, then, after all,"
said Ariel, gently, and turning to Eugene, "Have
you ever been there, Mr. Bantry?" she asked.

He changed color, but answered with enough
glibness: "No."

Several of the young men rose; the wretched
Flitcroft, however, evading Mamie's eye--in which
there was a distinct hint,--sat where he was until
all of them, except Eugene, had taken a reluctant
departure, one group after another, leaving in the
order of their arrival.

The rosy pigment which had colored the trees
faded; the gold-dust of the western distance danced
itself pale and departed; dusk stalked into the
town from the east; and still the watcher upon the
steps and the warden of the gate (he of the lilac-
bushes and the Bible) held their places and waited
--waited, alas! in vain. . . . Ah! Joe, is THIS the
mettle of your daring? Did you not say you would
"try"? Was your courage so frail a vessel that
it could not carry you even to the gate yonder?
Surely you knew that if you had striven so far,
there you would have been met! Perhaps you
foresaw that not one, but two, would meet you at
the gate, both the warden and the watcher. What
of that? What of that, O faint heart? What
was there to fear? Listen! The gate clicks. Ah,
have you come at last?

Ariel started to her feet, but the bent figure,
coming up the walk in the darkness, was that of
Eskew Arp. He bowed gloomily to Mamie, and
in response to her inquiry if he wished to see her
father, answered no; he had come to talk with the
granddaughter of his old friend Roger Tabor.

"Mr. Arp!" called Ariel. "I am so very glad!"
She ran down to him and gave him her hand.
"We'll sit here on the bench, sha'n't we?"

Mamie had risen, and skirting Norbert frostily,
touched Eugene upon the shoulder as she went
up the steps. He understood that he was to follow
her in-doors, and, after a deep look at the
bench where Ariel had seated herself beside Mr.
Arp, he obeyed. Norbert was left a lonely ruin
between the cold, twin dogs. He had wrought
desolation this afternoon, and that sweet verdure,
his good name, so long in the planting, so carefully
tended, was now a dreary waste; yet he contemplated
this not so much as his present aspect of
splendid isolation. Frozen by the daughter of the
house, forgotten by the visitor, whose conversation
with Mr. Arp was carried on in tones so low that he
could not understand it, the fat one, though heart-
breakingly loath to take himself away, began to
comprehend that his hour had struck. He rose,
descended the steps to the bench, and seated himself
unexpectedly upon the cement walk at Ariel's feet.
"Leg's gone to sleep," he explained, in response
to her startled exclamation; but, like a great soul,
ignoring the accident of his position as well as the
presence of Mr. Arp, he immediately proceeded:
"Will you go riding with me to-morrow afternoon?"

"Aren't you very good-natured, Mr. Flitcroft?"
she asked, with an odd intonation.

"I'm imposed on, often enough," he replied,
rubbing his leg, "by people who think I am! Why?"

"It is only that your sitting so abruptly upon
the ground reminded me of something that happened
long ago, before I left Canaan, the last time
I met you."

"I don't think I knew you before you went
away. You haven't said if you'll go riding with
me to-morrow. Please--"

"Get up," interrupted Mr. Arp, acidly. "Somebody
'll fall over you if you stay there."

Such a catastrophe in truth loomed imminent.
Judge Pike was rapidly approaching on his way to
the house, Bible in hand--far better in hand than
was his temper, for it is an enraging thing to
wait five hours in ambush for a man who does not
come. In the darkness a desecration occurred,
and Norbert perfected to the last detail whatever
had been left incomplete of his own destruction.
He began lumberingly to rise, talking at the same
time, urging upon Ariel the charms of the roadside;
wild flowers were in blossom, he said,
recounting the benefits she might derive through
acceptance of his invitation; and having, thus
busily, risen to his knees, became aware that some
one was passing near him. This some one Mr.
Flitcroft, absorbed in artful persuasions, may have
been betrayed by the darkness to mistake for
Eugene. Reaching out for assistance, he mechanically
seized upon the skirts of a coat, which he put
to the uses of a rope, coming up hand-over-hand
with such noble weight and energy that he brought
himself to his feet and the owner of the coat to the
ground simultaneously. The latter, hideously
astonished, went down with an objurgation so
outrageous in venom that Mr. Arp jumped with the
shock. Judge Pike got to his feet quickly, but not
so quickly as the piteous Flitcroft betook himself
into the deep shadows of the street. Only a word,
hoarse and horror-stricken, was left quivering on the
night breeze by this accursed, whom the gods, intent
upon his ruin, had early in the day, at his first sight
of Ariel, in good truth, made mad: "MURDER!"

"Can I help you brush off, Judge?" asked Eskew,
rising painfully.

Either Martin Pike was beyond words, or the
courtesy proposed by the feeble old fellow (for
Eskew was now very far along in years, and looked
his age) emphasized too bitterly the indignity
which had been put upon him: whatever the case,
he went his way in-doors, leaving the cynic's offer
unacknowledged. Eskew sank back upon the
bench, with the little rusty sounds, suggestions of
creaks and sighs, which accompany the movement
of antiques. "I've always thought," he said, "that
the Judge had spells when he was hard of hearing."

Oblongs of light abruptly dropped from the
windows confronting them, one, falling across the
bench, appropriately touching with lemon the
acrid, withered face and trembling hands of the
veteran. "You are younger than you were nine
years ago, Mr. Arp," said Ariel, gayly. "I caught
a glimpse of you upon the street, to-day, and I
thought so then. Now I see that I was right."

"Me--YOUNGER!" he groaned. "No, ma'am! I'm
mighty near through with this fool world--and I'd
be glad of it, if I didn't expect that if there IS
another one afterwards, it would be jest as ornery!"

She laughed, leaning forward, resting her elbows
on her knee, and her chin in her hand, so that the
shadow of her hat shielded her eyes from the light.
"I thought you looked surprised when you saw
me to day."

"I reckon I did!" he exclaimed. "Who wouldn't
of been?"


"Why?" he repeated, confounded by her
simplicity. "Why?"

"Yes," she laughed. "That's what I'm anxious
to know."

"Wasn't the whole town the same way?" he
demanded. "Did you meet anybody that didn't
look surprised?"

"But why should they?"

"Good Lord Admighty!" he broke out. "Ain't
you got any lookin'-glasses?"

"I think almost all I have are still in the customs

"Then use Mamie Pike's," responded the old
man. "The town never dreamed you were goin'
to turn out pretty at all, let alone the WAY you've
turned out pretty! The Tocsin had a good deal
about your looks and so forth in it once, in a letter
from Paris, but the folks that remembered you
kind of set that down to the way papers talk about
anybody with money, and nobody was prepared
for it when they saw you. You don't need to drop
no curtseys to ME." He set his mouth grimly, in
response to the bow she made him. "_I_ think
female beauty is like all other human furbelows,
and as holler as heaven will be if only the good
people are let in! But yet I did stop to look at
you when you went past me to-day, and I kept
on lookin', long as you were in sight. I reckon I
always will, when I git the chance, too--only
shows what human nature IS! But that wasn't
all that folks were starin' at to-day. It was your
walkin' with Joe Louden that really finished 'em,
and I can say it upset me more than anything I've
seen for a good many years."

"Upset you, Mr. Arp?" she cried. "I don't
quite see."

The old man shook his head deploringly. "After
what I'd written you about that boy--"

"Ah," she said, softly, touching his sleeve with
her fingers, "I haven't thanked you for that."

"You needn't," he returned, sharply. "It was
a pleasure. Do you remember how easy and
quick I promised you?"

"I remember that you were very kind."

"Kind!" He gave forth an acid and chilling
laugh. "It was about two months after Louden
ran away, and before you and Roger left Canaan,
and you asked me to promise to write to you whenever
word of that outcast came--"

"I didn't put it so, Mr. Arp."

"No, but you'd ought of! You asked me to
write you whatever news of him should come, and
if he came back to tell you how and when and all
about it. And I did it, and kept you sharp on his
record ever since he landed here again. Do you
know why I've done it? Do you know why I
promised so quick and easy I WOULD do it?"

"Out of the kindness of your heart, I think."

The acid laugh was repeated. "NO, ma 'am!
You couldn't of guessed colder. I promised, and
I kept my promise, because I knew there would
never be anything good to tell! AND THERE NEVER

"Nothing at all?" she insisted, gravely.

"Never! I leave it to you if I've written one
good word of him."

"You've written of the treatment he has
received here," she began, "and I've been able to
see what he has borne--and bears!"

"But have I written one word to show that he
didn't deserve it all? Haven't I told you everything,
of his associates, his--"

"Indeed you have!"

"Then do you wonder that I was more surprised
than most when I saw you walking with him to-
day? Because I knew you did it in cold blood
and knowledge aforethought! Other folks thought
it was because you hadn't been here long enough
to hear his reputation, but I KNEW!"

"Tell me," she said, "if you were disappointed
when you saw me with him."

"Yes," he snapped. "I was!"

"I thought so. I saw the consternation in your
face! You APPROVED, didn't you?"

"I don't know what you're talking about!"

"Yes, you do! I know it bothers you to have
me read you between the lines, but for this once
you must let me. You are so consistent that you
are never disappointed when things turn out badly,
or people are wicked or foolish, are you?"

"No, certainly not. I expect it."

"And you were disappointed in me to-day.
Therefore, it must be that I was doing something
you knew was right and good. You see?" She
leaned a little closer to him, smiling angelically.
"Ah, Mr. Arp," she cried, "I know your secret:
you ADMIRE me!"

He rose, confused and incoherent, as full of
denial as a detected pickpocket. "I DON'T! Me ADMIRE?
WHAT? It's an ornery world," he protested.
"I don't admire any human that ever lived!"

"Yes, you do," she persisted. "I've just proved
it! But that is the least of your secret; the great
thing is this: YOU ADMIRE MR. LOUDEN!"

"I never heard such nonsense," he continued to
protest, at the same time moving down the walk
toward the gate, leaning heavily on his stick.
"Nothin' of the kind. There ain't any LOGIC to
that kind of an argument, nor no REASON!"

"You see, I understand you," she called after
him. "I'm sorry you go away in the bitterness
of being found out."

"Found out!" His stick ceased for a moment
to tap the cement. "Pooh!" he ejaculated,
uneasily. There was a pause, followed by a malevolent
chuckle. "At any rate," he said, with joy
in the afterthought, "you'll never go walkin' with
him AGAIN!"

He waited for the answer, which came, after a
time, sadly. "Perhaps you are right. Perhaps
I shall not."

"Ha, I thought so! Good-night."

"Good-night, Mr. Arp."

She turned toward the lighted house. Through
the windows nearest her she could see Mamie,
seated in the familiar chair, following with happy
and tender eyes the figure of Eugene, who was
pacing up and down the room. The town was
deadly quiet: Ariel could hear the sound of footsteps
perhaps a block away. She went to the gate
and gazed a long time into the empty street,
watching the yellow grains of light, sieved through
the maples from the arc lights on the corner,
moving to and fro in the deep shadow as the lamp
swung slightly in the night air. Somewhere, not
far away, the peace was broken by the screams of
a "parlor organ," which honked and wailed in
pious agonies (the intention was hymnal),
interminably protracting each spasm. Presently a
woman's voice outdid the organ, a voice which
made vivid the picture of the woman who owned
it, and the ploughed forehead of her, above the
nose-glasses, when the "grace-notes" were proudly
given birth. "Rescue the Perishing" was the
startlingly appropriate selection, rendered with
inconceivable lingering upon each syllable: "Roos-
cyoo the Poor-oosh-oong!" At unexpected intervals
two male voices, evidently belonging to
men who had contracted the habit of holding tin in
their mouths, joined the lady in a thorough search
for the Lost Chord.

That was the last of silence in Canaan for an
hour or so. The organ was merely inaugural:
across the street a piano sounded; firm, emphatic,
determined, vocal competition with the instrument
here also; "Rock of Ages" the incentive. Another
piano presently followed suit, in a neighboring
house: "Precious Jewels." More distant, a second
organ was heard; other pianos, other organs, took
up other themes; and as a wakeful puppy's barking
will go over a village at night, stirring first the
nearer dogs to give voice, these in turn stimulating
those farther away to join, one passing the
excitement on to another, until hounds in farm-
yards far beyond the town contribute to the long-
distance conversation, even so did "Rescue the
Perishing" enliven the greater part of Canaan.

It was this that made Ariel realize a thing of
which hitherto she had not been able to convince
herself: that she was actually once more in the
town where she had spent her long-ago girlhood;
now grown to seem the girlhood of some other
person. It was true: her foot was on her native
heath and her name was Ariel Tabor--the very
name of the girl who had shared the town's
disapproval with Joe Louden! "Rescue the Perishing"
brought it all back to her; and she listened to
these sharply familiar rites of the Canaanite
Sabbath evening with a shiver of pain.

She turned from the gate to go into the house,
heard Eugene's voice at the door, and paused. He
was saying good-night to Mamie.

"And please say `au revoir' to Miss Tabor for
me," he added, peering out under his hand. "I
don't know where she can have gone."

"Probably she came in and went to her room,"
said Mamie.

"Don't forget to tell her `au revoir.' "

"I won't, dear. Good-night. "

"Good-night." She lifted her face and he kissed
her perfunctorily. Then he came down the steps
and went slowly toward the gate, looking about
him into the darkness as if searching for something;
but Ariel had fled away from the path of light that
led from the open door.

She skimmed noiselessly across the lawn and
paused at the side of the house, leaning against
the veranda, where, on a night long past, a boy
had hid and a girl had wept. A small creaking
sound fell upon her ear, and she made out an
ungainly figure approaching, wheeling something of
curious shape.

"Is that you, Sam?" she said.

Mr. Warden stopped, close by. "Yes'm," he
replied. "I'm a-gittin' out de hose to lay de dus'
yonnah." He stretched an arm along the cross-
bar of the reel, relaxing himself, apparently, for
conversation. "Y'all done change consid'able,
Miss Airil," he continued, with the directness of one
sure of privilege.

"You think so, Sam?"

"Yes'm. Ev'ybody think so, _I_ reckon. Be'n
a tai'ble lot o' talkum 'bout you to-day. Dun'no'
how all dem oth' young ladies goin' take it!" He
laughed with immoderate delight, yet, as to the
volume of mere sound, discreetly, with an eye to
open windows. "You got 'em all beat, Miss Airil!
Dey ain' be'n no one 'roun' dis town evah got in a
thousum mile o' you! Fer looks, an' de way you
walk an' ca'y yo'self; an' as fer de clo'es--name o'
de good lan', honey, dey ain' nevah SEE style befo'!
My ole woman say you got mo' fixin's in a minute
dan de whole res' of 'em got in a yeah. She say
when she helpin' you onpack she must 'a' see mo'n
a hunerd paihs o' slippahs alone! An' de good
Man knows I 'membuh w'en you runnin' roun'
back-yods an' up de alley rompin' 'ith Joe Louden,
same you's a boy!"

"Do you ever see Mr. Louden, nowadays?" she

His laugh was repeated with the same discreet
violence. "Ain' I seen him dis ve'y day, fur up
de street at de gate yonnah, stan'in' 'ith you, w'en
I drivin' de Judge?"

"You--you didn't happen to see him anywhere
this--this afternoon?"

"No'm, I ain' SEE him." Sam's laughter
vanished and his lowered voice became serious. "I
ain' SEE him, but I hearn about him."

"What did you hear?"

"Dey be 'n consid'able stir on de aidge o ' town,
I reckon," he answered, gravely, "an' dey be'n
havin' some trouble out at de Beach--"

"Beaver Beach, do you mean?"

"Yes'm. Dey be'n some shootin' goin' on out
dat way."

She sprang forward and caught at his arm without

"Joe Louden all right," he said, reassuringly.
"Ain' nuffum happen to him! Nigh as I kin mek
out f'm de TALK, dat Happy Fear gone on de ramPAGE
ag'in, an' dey hatta sent fer Mist' Louden to
come in a hurry."



As upon a world canopied with storm,
hung with mourning purple and habited
in black, did Mr. Flitcroft turn
his morning face at eight o'clock
antemeridian Monday, as he hied
himself to his daily duty at the Washington
National Bank. Yet more than the merely funereal
gloomed out from the hillocky area of his
countenance. Was there not, i'faith, a glow, a Vesuvian
shimmer, beneath the murk of that darkling eye?
Was here one, think you, to turn the other cheek?
Little has he learned of Norbert Flitcroft who
conceives that this fiery spirit was easily to be
quenched! Look upon the jowl of him, and let him who
dares maintain that people--even the very Pikes
themselves--were to grind beneath their brougham
wheels a prostrate Norbert and ride on scatheless!
In this his own metaphor is nearly touched "I
guess not! They don't run over ME! Martin Pike
better look out how he tries it!"

So Mother Nature at her kindly tasks, good
Norbert, uses for her unguent our own perfect
inconsistency: and often when we are stabbed deep
in the breast she distracts us by thin scratches in
other parts, that in the itch of these we may forget
the greater hurt till it be healed. Thus, the
remembrance of last night, when you undisguisedly
ran from the wrath of a Pike, with a pretty girl
looking on (to say nothing of the acrid Arp, who
will fling the legend on a thousand winds), might
well agonize you now, as, in less hasty moments
and at a safe distance, you brood upon the piteous
figure you cut. On the contrary, behold: you see
no blood crimsoning the edges of the horrid gash
in your panoply of self-esteem: you but smart and
scratch the scratches, forgetting your wound in
the hot itch for vengeance. It is an itch which
will last (for in such matters your temper shall be
steadfast), and let the great Goliath in the mean
time beware of you! You ran, last night. You
ran--of course you ran. Why not? You ran to
fight another day!

A bank clerk sometimes has opportunities.

The stricken fat one could not understand how
it came about that he had blurted out the damning
confession that he had visited Beaver Beach.
When he tried to solve the puzzle, his mind refused
the strain, became foggy and the terrors of his
position acute. Was he, like Joe Louden, to endure
the ban of Canaan, and like him stand excommunicate
beyond the pale because of Martin Pike's
displeasure? For Norbert saw with perfect
clearness to-day what the Judge had done for Joe.
Now that he stood in danger of a fate identical,
this came home to him. How many others, he
wondered, would do as Mamie had done and write
notes such as he had received by the hand of Sam
Warden, late last night?

"DEAR SIR." (This from Mamie, who, in the Canaanitish
way, had been wont to address him as "Norb"!)--
"My father wishes me to state that after your remark
yesterday afternoon on the steps which was overheard by
my mother who happened to be standing in the hall behind
you and your BEHAVIOR to himself later on--he considers
it impossible to allow you to call any more or to speak to
any member of his household.
"Yours respectfully,

Erasures and restorations bore witness to a
considerable doubt in Mamie's mind concerning "Yours
respectfully," but she had finally let it stand,
evidently convinced that the plain signature, without
preface, savored of an intimacy denied by the context.

"`DEAR SIR'!" repeated Norbert, between set
teeth. "`IMPOSSIBLE TO ALLOW YOU TO CALL any more'!"
These and other terms of his dismissal recurred to
him during the morning, and ever and anon he
looked up from his desk, his lips moving to the tune
of those horrid phrases, and stared out at the street.
Basilisk glaring this, with no Christian softness in it,
not even when it fell upon his own grandfather,
sitting among the sages within easy eye-shot from
the big window at Norbert's elbow. However,
Colonel Flitcroft was not disturbed by the gaze
of his descendant, being, in fact, quite unaware
of it. The aged men were having a busy morning.

The conclave was not what it had been. [See Arp
and all his works.] There had come, as the years
went by, a few recruits; but faces were missing:
the two Tabors had gone, and Uncle Joe Davey
could no longer lay claim to the patriarchship; he
had laid it down with a half-sigh and gone his way.
Eskew himself was now the oldest of the conscript
fathers, the Colonel and Squire Buckalew pressing
him closely, with Peter Bradbury no great time

To-day they did not plant their feet upon the
brass rail inside the hotel windows, but courted
the genial weather out-doors, and, as their summer
custom was, tilted back their chairs in the shade of
the western wall of the building.

"And who could of dreamed," Mr. Bradbury was
saying, with a side-glance of expectancy at Eskew,
"that Jonas Tabor would ever turn out to have a
niece like that!"

Mr. Arp ceased to fan himself with his wide straw
hat and said grimly:

"I don't see as Jonas HAS `turned out'--not in
particular! If he's turned at all, lately, I reckon
it's in his grave, and I'll bet he HAS if he had any
way of hearin' how much she must of spent for

"I believe," Squire Buckalew began, "that young
folks' memories are short."

"They're lucky!" interjected Eskew. "The shorter
your memory the less meanness you know."

"I meant young folks don't remember as well as
older people do," continued the Squire. "I don't
see what's so remarkable in her comin' back and
walkin' up-street with Joe Louden. She used to go
kitin' round with him all the time, before she left
here. And yet everybody talks as if they never
HEARD of sech a thing!"

"It seems to me," said Colonel Flitcroft, hesitatingly,
"that she did right. I know it sounds kind
of a queer thing to say, and I stirred up a good deal
of opposition at home, yesterday evening, by sort
of mentioning something of the kind. Nobody
seemed to agree with me, except Norbert, and he
didn't SAY much, but--"

He was interrupted by an uncontrollable cackle
which issued from the mouth of Mr. Arp. The
Colonel turned upon him with a frown, inquiring the
cause of his mirth.

"It put me in mind," Mr. Arp began promptly,
"of something that happened last night."

"What was it?"

Eskew's mouth was open to tell, but he remembered,
just in time, that the grandfather of Norbert
was not the audience properly to be selected for this
recital, choked a half-born word, coughed loudly,
realizing that he must withhold the story of the
felling of Martin Pike until the Colonel had taken
his departure, and replied:

"Nothin' to speak of. Go on with your argument."

"I've finished," said the Colonel. "I only
wanted to say that it seems to me a good action for a
young lady like that to come back here and stick
to her old friend and playmate."

"STICK to him!" echoed Mr. Arp. "She walked
up Main Street with him yesterday. Do you call
that stickin' to him? She's been away a good
while; she's forgotten what Canaan IS. You wait
till she sees for herself jest what his standing in this

"I agree with Eskew for once," interrupted Peter
Bradbury. "I agree because--"

"Then you better wait," cried Eskew, allowing
him to proceed no farther, "till you hear what you're
agreein' to! I say: you take a young lady like that,
pretty and rich and all cultured up, and it stands
to reason that she won't--"

"No, it don't," exclaimed Buckalew, impatiently.
"Nothing of the sort! I tell you--"

Eskew rose to his feet and pounded the pavement
with his stick. "It stands to reason that she won't
stick to a man no other decent woman will speak to,
a feller that's been the mark for every stone throwed
in the town, ever since he was a boy, an outcast
with a reputation as black as a preacher's shoes on
Sunday! I don't care if he's her oldest friend on
EARTH, she won't stick to him! She walked with him
yesterday, but you can mark my words: his goose
is cooked!" The old man's voice rose, shrill and
high. "It ain't in human nature fer her to do it!
You hear what I say: you'll never see her with Joe
Louden again in this livin' world, and she as good
as told me so, herself, last night. You can take
your oath she's quit him already! Don't--"

Eskew paused abruptly, his eyes widening
behind his spectacles; his jaw fell; his stick, raised to
hammer the pavement, remained suspended in the
air. A sudden color rushed over his face, and he
dropped speechless in his chair. The others, after
staring at him in momentary alarm, followed the
direction of his gaze.

Just across Main Street, and in plain view, was the
entrance to the stairway which led to Joe's office.
Ariel Tabor, all in cool gray, carrying a big bunch of
white roses in her white-gloved hands, had just
crossed the sidewalk from a carriage and was
ascending the dark stairway. A moment later she
came down again, empty-handed, got into the carriage,
and drove away.

"She missed him," said Squire Buckalew. "I
saw him go out half an hour ago. BUT," he
added, and, exercising a self-restraint close upon
the saintly, did not even glance toward the
heap which was Mr. Arp, "I notice she left her

Ariel was not the only one who climbed the dingy
stairs that day and read the pencilled script upon
Joe's door: "Will not return until evening. J.
Louden." Many others came, all exceedingly unlike
the first visitor: some were quick and watchful,
dodging into the narrow entrance furtively; some
smiled contemptuously as long as they were in view
of the street, drooping wanly as they reached the
stairs: some were brazen and amused; and some
were thin and troubled. Not all of them read the
message, for not all could read, but all looked
curiously through the half-opened door at the many
roses which lifted their heads delicately from a
water-pitcher on Joe's desk to scent that dusty
place with their cool breath.

Most of these clients, after a grunt of
disappointment, turned and went away; though there
were a few, either unable to read the message or
so pressed by anxiety that they disregarded it,
who entered the room and sat down to wait for
the absentee. [There were plenty of chairs in the
office now, bookcases also, and a big steel safe.]
But when evening came and the final gray of twilight
had vanished from the window-panes, all
had gone except one, a woman who sat patiently,
her eyes upon the floor, and her hands folded in
her lap, until the footsteps of the last of the others
to depart had ceased to sound upon the pavement
below. Then, with a wordless exclamation, she
sprang to her feet, pulled the window-shade carefully
down to the sill, and, when she had done
that, struck a match on the heel of her shoe--a
soiled white canvas shoe, not a small one--and
applied the flame to a gas jet. The yellow light
flared up; and she began to pace the room haggardly.

The court-house bell rang nine, and as the
tremors following the last stroke pulsed themselves
into silence, she heard a footfall on the
stairs and immediately relapsed into a chair,
folding her hands again in her lap, her expression
composing itself to passivity, for the step was very
much lighter than Joe's.

A lady beautifully dressed in white dimity
appeared in the doorway. She hesitated at the threshold,
not, apparently, because of any timidity (her
expression being too thoughtfully assured for that),
but almost immediately she came in and seated
herself near the desk, acknowledging the other's
presence by a slight inclination of the head.

This grave courtesy caused a strong, deep flush
to spread itself under the rouge which unevenly
covered the woman's cheeks, as she bowed elaborately
in return. Then, furtively, during a protracted
silence, she took stock of the new-comer,
from the tip of her white suede shoes to the filmy
lace and pink roses upon her wide white hat; and
the sidelong gaze lingered marvellingly upon the
quiet, delicate hands, slender and finely expressive,
in their white gloves.

Her own hands, unlike the lady's, began to
fidget confusedly, and, the silence continuing, she
coughed several times, to effect the preface required
by her sense of fitness, before she felt it proper to
observe, with a polite titter:

"Mr. Louden seems to be a good while comin'."

"Have you been waiting very long?" asked the

"Ever since six o'clock!"

"Yes," said the other. "That is very long."

"Yes, ma'am, it cert'nly is." The ice thus
broken, she felt free to use her eyes more directly,
and, after a long, frank stare, exclaimed:

"Why, you must be Miss Ariel Tabor, ain't you?"

"Yes." Ariel touched one of the roses upon
Joe's desk with her finger-tips. "I am Miss

"Well, excuse me fer asking; I'm sure it ain't
any business of mine," said the other, remembering
the manners due one lady from another. "But
I thought it must be. I expect," she added, with
loud, inconsequent laughter, "there's not many
in Canaan ain't heard you've come back." She
paused, laughed again, nervously, and again, less
loudly, to take off the edge of her abruptness:
gradually tittering herself down to a pause, to
fill which she put forth: "Right nice weather we
be'n havin'."

"Yes," said Ariel.

"It was rainy, first of last week, though. _I_ don't
mind rain so much"--this with more laughter,--
"I stay in the house when it rains. Some people
don't know enough to, they say! You've heard
that saying, ain't you, Miss Tabor?"


"Well, I tell YOU," she exclaimed, noisily,
"there's plenty ladies and gen'lemen in this town
that's like that!"

Her laughter did not cease; it became louder and
shriller. It had been, until now, a mere lubrication
of the conversation, helping to make her easier
in Miss Tabor's presence, but as it increased in
shrillness, she seemed to be losing control of herself,
as if her laughter were getting away with her;
she was not far from hysteria, when it stopped with
a gasp, and she sat up straight in her chair, white
and rigid.

"THERE!" she said, listening intently. "Ain't
that him?" Steps sounded upon the pavement
below; paused for a second at the foot of the stairs;
there was the snap of a match; then the steps
sounded again, retreating. She sank back in her
chair limply. "It was only some one stoppin' to
light his cigar in the entry. It wasn't Joe Louden's
step, anyway."

"You know his step?" Ariel's eyes were bent
upon the woman wonderingly.

"I'd know it to-night," was the answer, delivered
with a sharp and painful giggle. "I got plenty
reason to!"

Ariel did not respond. She leaned a little closer
to the roses upon the desk, letting them touch her
face, and breathing deeply of their fragrance to
neutralize a perfume which pervaded the room;
an odor as heavy and cheap-sweet as the face of
the woman who had saturated her handkerchief
with it, a scent which went with her perfectly and
made her unhappily definite; suited to her clumsily
dyed hair, to her soiled white shoes, to the hot red
hat smothered in plumage, to the restless stub-
fingered hands, to the fat, plated rings, of which
she wore a great quantity, though, surprisingly
enough, the large diamonds in her ears were pure,
and of a very clear water.

It was she who broke the silence once more.
"Well," she drawled, coughing genteelly at the
same time, "better late than never, as the saying
is. I wonder who it is gits up all them comical
sayings?" Apparently she had no genuine desire
for light upon this mystery, as she continued,
immediately: "I have a gen'leman friend that's
always gittin' 'em off. `Well,' he says, `the best of
friends must part,' and, `Thou strikest me to the
heart'--all kinds of cracks like that. He's real
comical. And yet, "she went on in an altered
voice, "I don't like him much. I'd be glad if I'd
never seen him."

The change of tone was so marked that Ariel
looked at her keenly, to find herself surprised into
pitying this strange client of Joe's; for tears had
sprung to the woman's eyes and slid along the lids,
where she tried vainly to restrain them. Her face
had altered too, like her voice, haggard lines
suddenly appearing about the eyes and mouth as if
they had just been pencilled there: the truth
issuing from beneath her pinchbeck simulations, like
a tragic mask revealed by the displacement of a
tawdry covering.

"I expect you think I'm real foolish," she said,
"but I be'n waitin' so awful long--and I got a good
deal of worry on my mind till I see Mr. Louden."

"I am sorry," Ariel turned from the roses, and
faced her and the heavy perfume. "I hope he
will come soon."

"I hope so," said the other. "It's something to
do with me that keeps him away, and the longer he
is the more it scares me." She shivered and set her
teeth together. "It's kind of hard, waitin'. I
cert'nly got my share of troubles."

"Don't you think that Mr. Louden will be able
to take care of them for you?"

"Oh, I HOPE so, Miss Tabor! If he can't,
nobody can." She was crying openly now, wiping
her eyes with her musk-soaked handkerchief. "We
had to send fer him yesterday afternoon--"

"To come to Beaver Beach, do you mean?"
asked Ariel, leaning forward.

"Yes, ma'am. It all begun out there,--least-
ways it begun before that with me. It was all
my fault. I deserve all that's comin' to me, I
guess. I done wrong--I done wrong! I'd oughtn't
never to of went out there yesterday."

She checked herself sharply, but, after a
moment's pause, continued, encouraged by the grave
kindliness of the delicate face in the shadow of the
wide white hat. "I'd oughtn't to of went," she
repeated. "Oh, I reckon I'll never, never learn
enough to keep out o' trouble, even when I see it
comin'! But that gentleman friend of mine--Mr.
Nashville Cory's his name--he kind o' coaxed me
into it, and he's right comical when he's with ladies,
and he's good company--and he says, `Claudine,
we'll dance the light fantastic,' he says, and I kind
o' wanted something cheerful--I'd be'n workin'
steady quite a spell, and it looked like he wanted
to show me a good time, so I went, and that's what
started it." Now that she had begun, she babbled
on with her story, at times incoherently; full of
excuses, made to herself more than to Ariel, pitifully
endeavoring to convince herself that the responsibility
for the muddle she had made was not hers.

"Mr. Cory told me my husband was drinkin' and
wouldn't know about it, and, `Besides,' he says,
`what's the odds?' Of course I knowed there was
trouble between him and Mr. Fear--that's my husband
--a good while ago, when Mr. Fear up and
laid him out. That was before me and Mr. Fear
got married; I hadn't even be'n to Canaan then;
I was on the stage. I was on the stage quite a
while in Chicago before I got acquainted with my

"You were on the stage?" Ariel exclaimed,

"Yes, ma'am. Livin' pitchers at Goldberg's
Rat'skeller, and amunchoor nights I nearly always
done a sketch with a gen'leman friend. That's the
way I met Mr. Fear; he seemed to be real struck
with me right away, and soon as I got through my
turn he ast me to order whatever I wanted. He's
always gen'lemanlike when he ain't had too much,
and even then he vurry, vurry seldom acks rough
unless he's jealous. That was the trouble yesterday.
I never would of gone to the Beach if I'd
dreamed what was comin'! When we got there I
saw Mike--that's the gen'leman that runs the
Beach--lookin' at my company and me kind of
anxious, and pretty soon he got me away from Mr.
Cory and told me what's what. Seems this Cory
only wanted me to go with him to make my husband
mad, and he'd took good care that Mr. Fear
heard I'd be there with him! And he'd be'n hangin'
around me, every time he struck town, jest to
make Mr. Fear mad--the fresh thing! You see he
wanted to make my husband start something again,
this Mr. Cory did, and he was fixed for it."

"I don't understand," said Ariel.

"It's this way: if Mr. Fear attacted Mr. Cory,
why, Mr. Cory could shoot him down and claim self-
defence. You see, it would be easy for Mr. Cory,
because Mr Fear nearly killed him when they had
their first trouble, and that would give Mr. Cory a
good excuse to shoot if Mr. Fear jest only pushed
him. That's the way it is with the law. Mr. Cory
could wipe out their old score and git off scot-free."

"Surely not!"

"Yes, ma'am, that's the way it would be. And
when Mike told me that Mr. Cory had got me out
there jest to provoke my husband I went straight
up to him and begun to give him a piece of my mind.
I didn't talk loud, because I never was one to make
a disturbance and start trouble the way SOME do;
and right while I was talkin' we both see my husband
pass the window. Mr. Cory give a kind of
yelling laugh and put his arm round me jest as Mr.
Fear come in the door. And then it all happened
so quick that you could hardly tell what WAS goin'
on. Mr. Fear, we found afterwards, had promised
Mr. Louden that he wouldn't come out there, but he
took too much--you could see that by the look of
him--and fergot his promise; fergot everything but
me and Cory, I guess.

"He come right up to us, where I was tryin' to
git away from Cory's arm--it was the left one he
had around me, and the other behind his back--and
neither of 'em said a word. Cory kept on laughin'
loud as he could, and Mr. Fear struck him in the
mouth. He's little, but he can hit awful hard, and
Mr. Cory let out a screech, and I see his gun go off--
right in Mr. Fear's face, I thought, but it wasn't; it
only scorched him. Most of the other gen'lemen
had run, but Mike made a dive and managed to
knock the gun to one side, jest barely in time.
Then Mike and three or four others that come out
from behind things separated 'em--both of 'em
fightin' to git at each other. They locked Mr. Cory
up in Mike's room, and took Mr. Fear over to where
they hitch the horses. Then Mike sent fer Mr.
Louden to come out to talk to my husband and take
care of him--he's the only one can do anything with
him when he's like that--but before Mr. Louden
could git there, Mr. Fear broke loose and run
through a corn-field and got away; at least they
couldn't find him. And Mr. Cory jumped through
a window and slid down into one of Mike's boats,
so they'd both gone. When Mr. Louden come, he
only stayed long enough to hear what had happened
and started out to find Happy--that's my husband.
He's bound to keep them apart, but he hasn't found
Mr. Fear yet or he'd be here."

Ariel had sunk back in her chair. "Why should
your husband hide?" she asked, in a low voice.

"Waitin' fer his chance at Cory," the woman
answered, huskily. "I expect he's afraid the cops
are after him, too, on account of the trouble, and he
doesn't want to git locked up till he's met Cory
again. They ain't after him, but he may not know
it. They haven't heard of the trouble, I reckon, or
they'd of run Cory in. HE'S around town to-day,
drinkin' heavy, and I guess he's lookin' fer Mr. Fear
about as hard as Mr. Louden is." She rose to her
feet, lifted her coarse hands, and dropped them
despairingly. "Oh, I'm scared!" she said. "Mr.
Fear's be'n mighty good to me."

A slow and tired footstep was heard upon the
stairs, and Joe's dog ran into the room droopingly,
wagged his tail with no energy, and crept under
the desk. Mrs. Fear wheeled toward the door and
stood, rigid, her hands clenched tight, her whole
body still, except her breast, which rose and
fell with her tumultuous breathing. She could
not wait till the laggard step reached the landing.

"MR. LOUDEN!" she called, suddenly.

Joe's voice came from the stairway. "It's all
right, Claudine. It's all fixed up. Don't worry."

Mrs. Fear gave a thick cry of relief and sank back
in her chair as Joe entered the room. He came in
shamblingly, with his hand over his eyes as if they
were very tired and the light hurt them, so that,
for a moment or two, he did not perceive the second
visitor. Then he let his hand fall, revealing a face
very white and worn.

"It's all right, Claudine," he repeated. "It's all

He was moving to lay his hat on the desk when
his eye caught first the roses, then fell upon Ariel,
and he stopped stock-still with one arm outstretched,
remaining for perhaps ten seconds in that attitude,
while she, her lips parted, her eyes lustrous,
returned his gaze with a look that was as
inscrutable as it was kind.

"Yes," she said, as if in answer to a question, "I
have come here twice to-day." She nodded slightly
toward Mrs. Fear. "I can wait. I am very
glad you bring good news."

Joe turned dazedly toward the other. "Claudine,"
he said, "you've been telling Miss Tabor."

"I cert'nly have!" Mrs. Fear's expression had
cleared and her tone was cheerful. "I don't see no
harm in that! I'm sure she's a good friend of YOURS,
Mr. Louden."

Joe glanced at Ariel with a faint, troubled smile,
and turned again to Mrs. Fear. "I've had a long
talk with Happy."

"I'm awful glad. Is he ready to listen to reason?
she asked, with a titter.

"He's waiting for you."

"Where?" She rose quickly.

"Stop," said Joe, sharply. "You must be very
careful with him--"

"Don't you s'pose I'm goin' to be?" she
interrupted, with a catch in her voice. "Don't you
s'pose I've had trouble enough?"

"No," said Joe, deliberately and impersonally,
"I don't. Unless you keep remembering to be
careful all the time, you'll follow the first impulse
you have, as you did yesterday, and your excuse
will be that you never thought any harm would
come of it. He's in a queer mood; but he will forgive
you if you ask him--"

"Well, ain't that what I WANT to do!" she exclaimed.

"I know, I know," he said, dropping into the
desk-chair and passing his hand over his eyes with
a gesture of infinite weariness. "But you must be
very careful. I hunted for him most of the night
and all day. He was trying to keep out of my way
because he didn't want me to find him until he had
met this fellow Nashville. Happy is a hard man
to come at when he doesn't care to be found, and
he kept shifting from place to place until I ran him
down. Then I got him in a corner and told him
that you hadn't meant any harm--which is always
true of you, poor woman!--and I didn't leave him
till he had promised me to forgive you if you would
come and ask him. And you must keep him out of
Cory's way until I can arrange to have him--Cory,
I mean--sent out of town. Will you?"

"Why, cert'nly," she answered, smiling. "That
Nashville's the vurry last person I ever want to
see again--the fresh thing!" Mrs. Fear's burden
had fallen; her relief was perfect and she beamed
vapidly; but Joe marked her renewed irresponsibility
with an anxious eye.

"You mustn't make any mistakes," he said,
rising stiffly with fatigue.

"Not ME! _I_ don't take no more chances," she
responded, tittering happily. "Not after yesterday.
MY! but it's a load off my shoulders! I do
hate it to have gen'lemen quarrelling over me,
especially Mr. Fear. I never DID like to START
anything; I like to see people laugh and be friendly, and
I'm mighty glad it's all blown over. I kind o'
thought it would, all along. PSHO!" She burst
into genuine, noisy laughter. "I don't expect
either of 'em meant no real harm to each other,
after they got cooled off a little! If they'd met
to-day, they'd probably both run! Now, Mr.
Louden, where's Happy?"

Joe went to the door with her. He waited a
moment, perplexed, then his brow cleared and he
said in a low voice: "You know the alley beyond
Vent Miller's pool-room? Go down the alley till
you come to the second gate. Go in, and you'll see
a basement door opening into a little room under
Miller's bar. The door won't be locked, and Happy's
in there waiting for you. But remember--"

"Oh, don't you worry," she cut him off, loudly.
"I know HIM! Inside of an hour I'll have him
LAUGHIN' over all this. You'll see!"

When she had gone, he stood upon the landing
looking thoughtfully after her. "Perhaps, after
all, that is the best mood to let her meet him in,"
he murmured.

Then, with a deep breath, he turned. The
heavy perfume had gone; the air was clear and
sweet, and Ariel was pressing her face into the
roses again. As he saw how like them she was,
he was shaken with a profound and mysterious
sigh, like that which moves in the breast of one
who listens in the dark to his dearest music.



"I know how tired you are," said Ariel,
as he came back into the room. "I
shall not keep you long."

"Ah, please do!" he returned,
quickly, beginning to fumble with
the shade of a student-lamp at one end of the

"Let me do that," she said. "Sit down." He
obeyed at once, and watched her as she lit the lamp,
and, stretching upon tiptoe, turned out the gas.
"No," she continued, seated again and looking
across the desk at him, "I wanted to see you at the
first possible opportunity, but what I have to say--"

"Wait," he interrupted. "Let me tell you why
I did not come yesterday."

"You need not tell me. I know." She glanced
at the chair which had been occupied by Mrs. Fear.
"I knew last night that they had sent for you."

"You did?" he exclaimed. "Ah, I understand.
Sam Warden must have told you."

"Yes," she said. "It was he; and I have been
wondering ever since how he heard of it. He
knew last night, but there was nothing in the
papers this morning; and until I came here I
heard no one else speak of it; yet Canaan is not

Joe laughed. "It wouldn't seem strange if
you lived with the Canaan that I do. Sam had
been down-town during the afternoon and had met
friends; the colored people are a good deal like a
freemasonry, you know. A great many knew last
night all about what had happened, and had their
theories about what might happen to-day in case
the two men met. Still, you see, those who knew,
also knew just what people not to tell. The Tocsin
is the only newspaper worth the name here; but
even if the Tocsin had known of the trouble, it
wouldn't have been likely to mention it. That's
a thing I don't understand." He frowned and
rubbed the back of his head. "There's something
underneath it. For more than a year the Tocsin
hasn't spoken of Beaver Beach. I'd like to know

"Joe," she said, slowly, "tell me something
truly. A man said to me yesterday that he found
life here insufferable. Do you find it so?"

"Why, no!" he answered, surprised.

"Do you hate Canaan?"

"Certainly not."

"You don't find it dull, provincial, unsympathetic?"

He laughed cheerily. "Well, there's this," he
explained: "I have an advantage over your friend.
I see a more interesting side of things probably.
The people I live among are pretty thorough
cosmopolites in a way, and the life I lead--"

"I think I begin to understand a little about the
life you lead," she interrupted. "Then you don't
complain of Canaan?"

"Of course not."

She threw him a quick, bright, happy look, then
glanced again at the chair in which Mrs. Fear had
sat. "Joe," she said, "last night I heard the people
singing in the houses, the old Sunday-evening
way. It `took me back so'!"

"Yes, it would. And something else: there's
one hymn they sing more than any other; it's Canaan's
favorite. Do you know what it is?"

"Is it `Rescue the Perishing'?"

"That's it. `Rescue the Perishing'!" he cried,
and repeating the words again, gave forth a peal
of laughter so hearty that it brought tears to his

At first she did not understand his laughter,
but, after a moment, she did, and joined her own
to it, though with a certain tremulousness.

"It IS funny, isn't it?" said Joe, wiping the
moisture from his eyes. Then all trace of mirth
left him. "Is it really YOU, sitting here and laughing
with me, Ariel?"

"It seems to be," she answered, in a low voice.
"I'm not at all sure."

"You didn't think, yesterday afternoon," he
began, almost in a whisper,--" you didn't think that
I had failed to come because I--" He grew very
red, and shifted the sentence awkwardly: "I was
afraid you might think that I was--that I didn't
come because I might have been the same way
again that I was when--when I met you at the

"Oh no!" she answered, gently. "No. I knew

"And do you know," he faltered, "that that is
all over? That it can never happen again?"

"Yes, I know it," she returned, quickly.

"Then you know a little of what I owe you."

"No, no," she protested.

"Yes," he said. "You've made that change in
me already. It wasn't hard--it won't be--though
it might have been if--if you hadn't come soon."

"Tell me something," she demanded. "If these
people had not sent for you yesterday, would you
have come to Judge Pike's house to see me? You
said you would try." She laughed a little, and
looked away from him. "I want to know if you
would have come."

There was a silence, and in spite of her averted
glance she knew that he was looking at her steadily.
Finally, "Don't you know?" he said.

She shook her head and blushed faintly.

"Don't you know?" he repeated.

She looked up and met his eyes, and thereupon
both became very grave. "Yes, I do," she
answered. "You would have come. When you left
me at the gate and went away, you were afraid.
But you would have come."

"Yes,--I'd have come. You are right. I was
afraid at first; but I knew," he went on, rapidly,
"that you would have come to the gate to meet me."

"You understood that?" she cried, her eyes
sparkling and her face flushing happily.

"Yes. I knew that you wouldn't have asked
me to come," he said, with a catch in his voice
which was half chuckle, half groan, "if you hadn't
meant to take care of me! And it came to me that
you would know how to do it."

She leaned back in her chair, and again they
laughed together, but only for a moment, becoming
serious and very quiet almost instantly.

"I haven't thanked you for the roses," he said.

"Oh yes, you did. When you first looked at them!"

"So I did," he whispered. "I'm glad you saw.
To find them here took my breath away--and to
find you with them--"

"I brought them this morning, you know."

"Would you have come if you had not understood
why I failed yesterday?"

"Oh yes, I think so," she returned, the fine edge
of a smile upon her lips. "For a time last evening,
before I heard what had happened, I thought
you were too frightened a friend to bother about."

He made a little ejaculation, partly joyful, partly sad.

"And yet," she went on, "I think that I should
have come this morning, after all, even if you had
a poorer excuse for your absence, because, you
see, I came on business."

"You did?"

"That's why I've come again. That makes it
respectable for me to be here now, doesn't it?--for
me to have come out alone after dark without their
knowing it? I'm here as your client, Joe."

"Why?" he asked.

She did not answer at once, but picked up a pen
from beneath her hand on the desk, and turning it,
meditatively felt its point with her forefinger
before she said slowly, "Are most men careful of
other people's--well, of other people's money?"

"You mean Martin Pike?" he asked.

"Yes. I want you to take charge of everything
I have for me."

He bent a frowning regard upon the lamp-
shade. "You ought to look after your own
property," he said. "You surely have plenty of

"You mean--you mean you won't help me?"
she returned, with intentional pathos.

"Ariel!" he laughed, shortly, in answer; then
asked, "What makes you think Judge Pike isn't

"Nothing very definite perhaps, unless it was
his look when I told him that I meant to ask you
to take charge of things for me."

"He's been rather hard pressed this year, I
think," said Joe. "You might be right--if he
could have found a way. I hope he hasn't."

"I'm afraid," she began, gayly, "that I know
very little of my own affairs. He sent me a draft
every three months, with receipts and other things
to sign and return to him. I haven't the faintest
notion of what I own--except the old house and
some money from the income that I hadn't used
and brought with me. Judge Pike has all the

Joe looked troubled. "And Roger Tabor, did

"The dear man!" She shook her head. "He
was just the same. To him poor Uncle Jonas's
money seemed to come from heaven through the
hands of Judge Pike--"

"And there's a handsome roundabout way!"
said Joe.

"Wasn't it!" she agreed, cheerfully. "And he
trusted the Judge absolutely. I don't, you see."

He gave her a thoughtful look and nodded.
"No, he isn't a good man," he said, "not even
according to his lights; but I doubt if he could have
managed to get away with anything of consequence
after he became the administrator. He
wouldn't have tried it, probably, unless he was
more desperately pushed than I think he has been.
It would have been too dangerous. Suppose you
wait a week or so and think it over."

"But there's something I want you to do for me
immediately, Joe."

"What's that?"

"I want the old house put in order. I'm going
to live there."


"I'm almost twenty-seven, and that's being
enough of an old maid for me to risk Canaan's
thinking me eccentric, isn't it?"

"It will think anything you do is all right."

"And once," she cried, "it thought everything
I did all wrong!"

"Yes. That's the difference."

"You mean it will commend me because I'm
thought rich?"

"No, no," he said, meditatively, "it isn't that.
It's because everybody will be in love with you."

"Quite everybody!" she asked.

"Certainly," he replied. "Anybody who didn't
would be absurd."

"Ah, Joe!" she laughed. "You always were the
nicest boy in the world, my dear!"

At that he turned toward her with a sudden
movement and his lips parted, but not to speak.
She had rested one arm upon the desk, and her
cheek upon her hand; the pen she had picked up,
still absently held in her fingers, touching her lips;
and it was given to him to know that he would
always keep that pen, though he would never
write with it again. The soft lamplight fell across
the lower part of her face, leaving her eyes, which
were lowered thoughtfully, in the shadow of her
hat. The room was blotted out in darkness behind
her. Like the background of an antique portrait,
the office, with its dusty corners and shelves and
hideous safe, had vanished, leaving the charming
and thoughtful face revealed against an even,
spacious brownness. Only Ariel and the roses and
the lamp were clear; and a strange, small pain
moved from Joe's heart to his throat, as he thought
that this ugly office, always before so harsh and
grim and lonely--loneliest for him when it had
been most crowded,--was now transfigured into
something very, very different from an office; that
this place where he sat, with a lamp and flowers
on a desk between him and a woman who called
him "my dear," must be like--like something that
people called "home."

And then he leaned across the desk toward her,
as he said again what he had said a little while
before,--and his voice trembled:

"Ariel, it IS you?"

She looked at him and smiled.

"You'll be here always, won't you? You're not
going away from Canaan again?"

For a moment it seemed that she had not heard
him. Then her bright glance at him wavered and
fell. She rose, turning slightly away from him,
but not so far that he could not see the sudden
agitation in her face.

"Ah!" he cried, rising too, "I don't want you to
think I don't understand, or that I meant _I_ should
ever ask you to stay here! I couldn't mean that;
you know I couldn't, don't you? You know I
understand that it's all just your beautiful friendliness,
don't you?"

"It isn't beautiful; it's just ME, Joe," she said.
"It couldn't be any other way."

"It's enough that you should be here now," he
went on, bravely, his voice steady, though his hand
shook. "Nothing so wonderful as your staying
could ever actually happen. It's just a light
coming into a dark room and out again. One day,
long ago--I never forgot it--some apple-blossoms
blew by me as I passed an orchard; and it's
like that, too. But, oh, my dear, when you go
you'll leave a fragrance in my heart that will

She turned toward him, her face suffused with
a rosy light. "You'd rather have died than have
said that to me once," she cried. "I'm glad you're
weak enough now to confess it!"

He sank down again into his chair and his arms
fell heavily on the desk. "Confess it!" he cried,
despairingly. "And you don't deny that you're
going away again--so it's true! I wish I hadn't
realized it so soon. I think I'd rather have tried
to fool myself about it a little longer!"

"Joe," she cried, in a voice of great pain, "you
mustn't feel like that! How do you know I'm
going away again? Why should I want the old
house put in order unless I mean to stay? And if
I went, you know that I could never change; you
know how I've always cared for you--"

"Yes," he said, "I do know how. It was always
the same and it always will be, won't it?"

"I've shown that," she returned, quickly.

"Yes. You say I know how you've cared for
me--and I do. I know HOW. It's just in one certain
way--Jonathan and David--"

"Isn't that a pretty good way, Joe?"

"Never fear that I don't understand!" He got
to his feet again and looked at her steadily.

"Thank you, Joe." She wiped sudden tears
from her eyes.

"Don't you be sorry for me," he said. "Do
you think that `passing the love of women' isn't
enough for me?"

"No," she answered, humbly.

"I'll have people at work on the old house to-
morrow," he began. "And for the--"

"I've kept you so long!" she interrupted, helped
to a meek sort of gayety by his matter-of-fact tone.
"Good-night, Joe." She gave him her hand. "I
don't want you to come with me. It isn't very
late and this is Canaan."

"I want to come with you, however," he said,
picking up his hat. "You can't go alone."

"But you are so tired, you--"

She was interrupted. There were muffled,
flying footsteps on the stairs, and a shabby little man
ran furtively into the room, shut the door behind
him, and set his back against it. His face was
mottled like a colored map, thick lines of
perspiration shining across the splotches.

"Joe," he panted, "I've got Nashville good, and
he's got me good, too;--I got to clear out. He's
fixed me good, damn him! but he won't trouble

Joe was across the room like a flying shadow.

"QUIET!" His voice rang like a shot, and on the
instant his hand fell sharply across the speaker's
mouth. "In THERE, Happy!"

He threw an arm across the little man's shoulders
and swung him toward the door of the other room.

Happy Fear looked up from beneath the down-
bent brim of his black slouch hat; his eyes followed
an imperious gesture toward Ariel, gave her a
brief, ghastly stare, and stumbled into the inner

"Wait!" Joe said, cavalierly, to Ariel. He went
in quickly after Mr. Fear and closed the door.

This was Joseph Louden, Attorney-at-Law; and
to Ariel it was like a new face seen in a flash-light
--not at all the face of Joe. The sense of his
strangeness, his unfamiliarity in this electrical
aspect, overcame her. She was possessed by
astonishment: Did she know him so well, after
all? The strange client had burst in, shaken
beyond belief with some passion unknown to her,
but Joe, alert, and masterful beyond denial, had
controlled him instantly; had swept him into the
other room as with a broom. Could it be that
Joe sometimes did other things in the same sweeping

She heard a match struck in the next room, and
the voices of the two men: Joe's, then the other's,
the latter at first broken and protestive, but soon

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