Part 2 out of 3
"You did. I wish you hadn't, but I know you did. I wonder what you
thought of me!"
"I--there wasn't much chance to think anything," answered Wade
evasively. "You didn't stay long enough."
"I was going by and saw the windows open and couldn't think what to make
of it, you see," she explained. "The cottage has been closed up so long
that it was quite breath-taking to see it open. My only idea was that it
was being aired out. So I thought I'd take a peep. I wanted to see
inside, for once I spent a whole day there with Aunt Mary, when I was
just a little bit of a girl, and I wondered whether it would look the
same. If you think you were surprised this morning when you came in and
found me confronting you, what do you suppose I was when I looked in
that window and right into your face? Don't you think we're quits now?"
"I reckon we are. Only you didn't make such an ass of yourself as I did.
You had presence of mind to get away. In fact you got away so quick I
wasn't sure whether I'd seen you or just imagined you. If I hadn't found
a lilac bloom on the ground out there I reckon I'd have been sort of
worried about myself."
"Did I drop it?"
"You must have. You're fond of it, aren't you?" He nodded at the tiny
spray tucked in the front of her white gown.
"Very. And I'm always sorry when it goes. This, I fear, is the very
last. It was later this year than usual; last summer it was almost all
gone when we got here."
"It's awfully sweet," said Wade. "Driving into the village the other day
the fragrance was almost the first thing that struck me. I reckon when I
go back West my memory of Eden Village will be perfumed with lilac.
"That's very pretty," said Eve. "Coup-ling lilacs with the West reminds
me of something that happened once when I was out there with papa."
Wade's glance wavered and shifted to the couple at the card table. She
knew, after all, or suspected!
"It was quite a few years ago. Papa was interested in some mines in
Nevada, and he took me out with him one spring on a business trip.
Coming back we stopped one morning at a little town. I don't remember
whether it was in Nevada or Colorado, and I've forgotten the funny,
outlandish name it had. There were just a few houses and stores there.
Papa and I got out of the Pullman and walked up and down the station
platform. Just across the road was a little frame house and in front of
it was a lilac bush just full of blooms. It seemed so strange to find
such a thing out there, and the blossoms were so lovely that I called
papa's attention to it. 'I do wish I could have some!' I said. There
were some men standing about the station, great big rough-looking men,
miners or ranchers, I suppose. One of them heard me and whipped off his
hat. 'Do the flowers please you, ma'am?' he asked. He looked so kind of
wild and ferocious that I was too startled to answer him at first,
'Cause if they do,' he went on, 'I'll get all you want.' 'Indeed they
do,' I said, 'but they're not yours, are they?' 'No, ma'am, they're
yourn,' he said. He pulled out a big knife, strode across to the bush
and began cutting the poor thing all to pieces. 'Oh, please don't!' I
cried. 'That's more than enough!' 'Just as you say, ma'am,' and he came
back with a dozen great branches of them. I took them and thanked him. I
told him it was dear of him to give them to me and I did hope he hadn't
spoiled his bush. He--he--well, he emptied his mouth of a great deal of
tobacco juice, wiped his big hand across it and said: 'It ain't my bush,
ma'am, but you're just as welcome to them lilocks as if it was. There
ain't nothin' in this town a pretty girl can't have for the askin'!'
Thank goodness, the conductor cried 'All aboard' just then and I ran up
the steps. There wasn't any reply I could have made to that, was there?
As the train went off we could see the other men on the platform
laughing and hitting my friend on the back, and enjoying it all greatly.
But wasn't it dear of him?"
"Yes," answered Wade, warmly. "They're like that out there, though rough
and uncultured, maybe, but kind and big-hearted underneath. I dare say
that incident made him feel so good that he went out and shot a
"Oh, I hope not!" laughed Eve. "But he looked as though he might have
shot dozens of them, one every morning for breakfast! The flowers lasted
me all the way to Chicago. The porter put them in the ice-water tank and
I picked fresh lilacs every day."
Wade wondered whether she had forgotten another incident, which must
have happened on the evening of that same day. He hoped she had, and
then he hoped she hadn't. If she recalled it she made no mention of it,
nor did the smiling unconsciousness of her face suggest that she
connected him with her trip in the remotest degree. He felt a little
bit aggrieved. It wasn't flattering to be forgotten so completely.
"You said your father was interested in some mines in Nevada. Do you
mind telling me the name?"
"The New Century Consolidated, they were called."
"Oh, that was too bad," exclaimed Wade, regretfully. "That property
never was any good. The whole thing was a swindle from first to last.
Was your father very badly hit?"
"Ruined," answered Eve, simply. "He had to sell everything he had. They
had made him a director, you see, and when the exposure came he paid up
his share. The lawyer said he didn't have to, but he insisted. He was
right, don't you think, Mr. Herrick?"
"No--well, perhaps. I don't know. It depends how you look at it, I
"There was only one way to look at it, wasn't there? Either it was right
or it was wrong. Father believed it was right."
"So it was! But plenty of men would have hidden behind the law. I wish
your father might have bought into our property instead of the New
Century. I wanted Ed to write to him; we needed money badly at first,
and I'd heard Ed speak of him once; but he wouldn't do it; said his
uncle wouldn't have anything to do with any schemes of his."
"I'm afraid he was right," said Eve, sadly. "When I was a little girl my
father and Ed's father had some sort of a misunderstanding and would
never have anything to do with each other afterwards. It made it very
hard for mamma, for she and Aunt Mary were very fond of each other.
Please tell me about Cousin Edward, Mr. Herrick. I think I only saw him
once or twice in my life, but he was my cousin just the same, and now
that he's dead I suddenly realize that all the time I was unconsciously
taking a sort of comfort out of the knowledge that somewhere I had some
one that belonged to me, even if I never saw him and hardly knew him.
What was he like?"
"A big, silent, good-hearted fellow. I think there was a resemblance to
you, Miss Walton. He was dark complexioned, with almost black eyes,
but--there's something in your expression at times--that reminds me of
Ed." Wade frowned and studied the girl's face. "But I have a photograph
of him at the Camp. I'll send for it. Shall I?"
"It wouldn't be too much trouble?"
"No trouble at all. I'll just send a wire to Whitehead, the
superintendent. I met Ed in a queer way. It was at Cripple Creek. I'd
been there almost a year. After my mother died there wasn't anything to
keep me at home in Virginia, and there wasn't much money. So I hiked out
to Colorado, thinking about all I'd have to do was to cinch up my belt
and start to pick up gold nuggets in the streets. The best I could find
was work with a shovel in one of the mines over Victor way. Then I got
work in another mine handling explosives. I got in front of a missed
hole one fine day and was blown down a slope with about a hundred tons
of rock on top of me. As luck had it, however, the big ones wedged over
me and I wasn't hurt much, just scratched up a bit."
"But that was wonderful!" breathed Eve.
"Yes, it was sort of funny. I was covered up from one in the afternoon
until five, quite conscious all the time and pretty well scared. You
see, I couldn't help wondering just what would happen if the rocks
should settle. My eyes got the worst of it and I had to stay in the
hospital about a month. But I'm afraid I'm boring you. I was just
leading up to my meeting with Ed."
"Boring me! Don't be absurd! Then what happened?"
"Well, after I got out of the hospital I bought a burro and a tent and
hiked out for the Sangre--for the southern part of the State. I still
had some money coming to me for work when the trouble happened, and
after I got out I cashed an accident policy I'd luckily taken out a
month before. I stayed in the mountains pretty much all summer
prospecting. I found the biggest bunch of rock I'd ever seen, but no
yellow iron--I mean gold. Came sort of near starving before I got out. I
sold my outfit and went back to Cripple and struck another job with the
shovel and pick, digging prospect ditches. It was pretty tiresome work
and pretty cold, too. So when I'd got a month's wages I told the boss
he'd either have to put me underground or I'd quit. I said I was a miner
and not a Dago. You see, I felt independently rich with a month's wages
in my jeans--pockets, that is. The boss said I could quit. I've been
wondering ever since," laughed Wade, "whether I quit or was fired."
"That was lovely," said Eve. "Oh, dear, I've often wished I'd been a
"H'm; well, every one to his taste. But look here, Miss Walton, you're
certain I'm not boring you to death?"
"Quite. What did you do with all that money? And how much did a month's
wages amount to?"
"About ninety dollars. You get three a day and work seven days a week.
But, of course, I owed a good deal of that ninety by the time I got it.
Well, I paid my bills and then did a fool thing. I got my laundry out of
the Chinaman's, put on a stiff shirt and went over to Colorado Springs.
It just seemed that I had to have a glimpse of--well, you know;
respectability--dress clothes--music--flowers. I remember how stiff and
uncomfortable that shirt felt and how my collar scratched my neck. When
I got over to the Springs I ran across some folks I'd known back home in
Virginia. Richmond folks, they were. I dined with them and had a fine
time. I forgot to tell them I'd been pushing a shovel with the
Pinheads--that is, Swedes. They asked me to be sure and visit them when
I went back to Virginia for Christmas, for of course I would go! I told
'em I'd do that very thing. Rather a joke, wasn't it? If railroads had
been selling at forty dollars a pair I couldn't have bought a headlight!
I went back to Cripple the next day, having spent most of my money,
feeling sort of grouchy and down on my luck. That night I thought I'd
have a go at the wheel--roulette, you know. I'd steered pretty clear of
that sort of thing up to then, but I didn't much care that night what
happened. I only had about fifteen dollars and I played it dollar by
dollar and couldn't win once. Finally I was down to my last. I remember
I took that out of my pocket and looked at it quite awhile. Then I put
it back and started to go. But before I'd reached the door I concluded
that a dollar wasn't much better than none in Cripple, and so I went
back to the table. It was pretty crowded and I had to work my way in
until I could reach it. Just when I got my dollar out again and was
going to toss it on, blind, some one took hold of my arm and pulled me
around. I'd never seen the fellow before and I started to get peeved.
But he--may I use his words? They weren't polite, but they were
persuasive. Said he: 'Put that back in your pocket, you damned fool, and
come out of here."
Wade looked anxiously at his audience to see if she was shocked. She
didn't look so; only eager and sympathetic. He went on.
"Well, I went. He lugged me over to his room across the street and--and
was hospitable. He made me talk and I told him how I was fixed. He told
me who he was and said he thought he could find a job for me. And he
did. He was partner with a man named Hogan in an assay office and knew a
good many mine managers and superintendents. The next day I went to work
running an air-drill at four dollars a day. That's how I met Ed. We got
to be pretty good friends after that. Later I went over and roomed with
him. He was only two years older than I, but he always seemed about ten.
I told him about the Sangre--about the country I'd prospected in the
summer and we agreed to go over it together. In the spring, when the
snow was off, we started out. We bought a good outfit, two burros, a
good tent, and everything we could need. We expected to be away all
summer, but we struck gold about five weeks after we reached the
mountains. Struck it rich, too. All that summer we slaved like Dagoes
and by fall we had a prospect good enough to show any one. But we needed
money for development, and it was then I suggested to Ed that he write
to Mr. Walton. You see, I'd heard a good deal about his folks and about
Eden Village by that time. Evenings, after you've had supper and while
you're smoking your pipe, there isn't much to talk about except your
people and things back in God's country. And we'd told each other about
everything we knew by autumn. But Ed wouldn't consider his uncle; said
we'd have to find some one else to put in the money. So we had a
clean-up and I started East with a trunk full of samples and a pocket
full of papers. Ed gave me the names of some men to see. As luck had it,
I didn't have to go further than Omaha. The first man I tackled bit and
three months later we started development. Ed and I kept a controlling
interest. Now the--" Wade pulled himself up, gulped and hesitated--"the
mine is the richest in that district and is getting better all the
"It's like a fairy tale, almost," said Eve.
"What is the name of the mine, Mr. Herrick?"
"Well--er--we usually just called it 'The Mine.' It isn't listed on the
exchange, you see. There aren't any shares on the market."
"Really? But I wasn't thinking of investing, Mr. Herrick," responded
Eve, dryly. "If there's any reason why I shouldn't know the name, that's
Wade observed her troubledly.
"I--I beg your pardon, Miss Walton. I didn't mean to be rude. The mine
has a name, of course, and--and sometime I'll tell it to you. But just
now--there's a reason--"
"It sounds," laughed Eve, "as though you were talking of a cereal
coffee. Indeed, though, I don't want to know if you don't want me to."
"But I do! That is--sometime--"
"I understand; it's a guilty secret. But you were telling me about my
cousin. When did he die, Mr. Herrick?"
"Last August. We'd both been working pretty hard and Ed was sort of run
down, I reckon. He got typhoid and went quick. I got him to Pueblo as
soon as I learned what the trouble was, but the doctor there said he
never had a chance. We buried him in Pueblo."
Wade was looking down at his roughened hands and spoke so low that Eve
had to bend forward a little to hear him.
"It--it was a pretty decent funeral," he added simply. "There were seven
"Really?" she murmured.
"Yes." He raised his head and looked at her a trifle wistfully. "You
can't understand just what Ed's death meant to me, Miss Walton. You see,
he was about the only real friend I ever had, the only fellow I ever got
real close to. And he was such a thoroughbred, and--and was so darn--so
mighty good to me! I tell you, it sort of knocked me out for awhile."
"I'm sorry I didn't know him," said Eve, softly. "I'm sure I'd have
liked him as well as you did. And perhaps he'd have liked me."
"I'm sure of that," said Wade with conviction.
"I suppose he never spoke of me?"
"Only once, I think. Before he died he told me he had made a will and
left me his share of the mine and everything else he had. I--oh, well, I
didn't like it and said so. 'You'll have to take it,' he answered.
'There's no one else to leave it to; I've got no relatives left except
an uncle and a cousin, and they have all the money they need. You see,
he didn't know about--"
"I understand. And even had papa been alive he would have accepted
nothing from Edward, I'm certain."
"I'm sorry to hear you say that," said Wade, frowningly. "I've been
thinking that perhaps--something might be done. There's so much money,
Miss Walton, and it doesn't belong to me. Don't you think--"
"No." Eve shook her head gently, but decisively. "It's nice of you to
want it, Mr. Herrick, but you mustn't think any more about it. Papa
would never have allowed me to accept any of Cousin Edward's property if
he had been alive, and I shan't do it now that he is dead. We won't
speak about that any more, please. Tell me how you came to visit Eden
Village. To see the house you'd inherited?"
"Yes. Ed wanted me to. He was very fond of this place and fond of the
house. 'I'd rather you always kept it,' he told me. 'If the time ever
comes when you have to sell it, all right; but until then see that it's
looked after and kept up.' So this summer, when I found I was going to
have a vacation--the first real one for six years, Miss Walton--I
decided that the first thing I'd do would be to come here and look after
"Then yours is only a flying visit? I'm sorry."
"No, I think I shall stay some time," replied Wade. "I like it
immensely. It's so different from where I've been. And, besides, the
house needs looking after. I think I'll have it painted."
"Then you'll be sure to make mistakes," laughed Eve. "Or perhaps you'll
paint it a different color from this?"
"No, I shan't; white it must be. Then, you see, I'll have every excuse
for mistaking this house for my own."
"I hope you won't feel that you need an excuse to come here, Mr.
Herrick. We're not a ceremonious people here. We can't afford to be;
neighbors are too scarce."
Wade thanked her and there was a moment's silence. Then Eve, who had
been smilingly watching the players, turned with lowered voice.
"And sometimes when you come to see us, Mr. Herrick, won't you come
through the gate in the hedge, please?"
"Certainly," he answered, looking a little puzzled.
"Does that sound queer?" she asked with a soft laugh. "I suppose it
does. There was a time when the dwellers in your house and in mine used
that gate in the hedge as my poor old grandfather meant they should.
Perhaps I have a fancy to see it used so again. Or perhaps that isn't
the reason at all. You have your secret; we'll call this mine. Maybe
some day we'll tell our secrets."
"Is that a promise?" he asked, eagerly.
She hesitated a moment. Then, "If you like," she answered, smiling
across at him.
"Good! Then let us have it all shipshape, in contract form."
"Oh, you business men!"
"I hereby agree to tell you before I leave Eden Village the name of my
mine, and you agree to tell me why--why--"
"Why you are to come to see us by way of the gate in the hedge. Agreed,
signed, sealed, and delivered in the presence of Miss Caroline Mullett
and Doctor Joseph Crimmins."
"Eh?" asked the Doctor. "What's that? I heard my name spoken, didn't I?"
"You did, Doctor, but quite respectfully," answered Eve.
"Respectfully!" grumbled the Doctor. "That's all age gets, just respect!
Thirty years ago, madam, you wouldn't have dared to respect me! I beg
your pardon, Miss Mullett; you are right, it is my first count.
Fifteen-two, fifteen-four, fifteen-six, and a pair's eight and one's
nine. And that puts me out!"
"Brute!" said Miss Mullett.
"Who won?" asked Eve.
"I, Miss Eve, but an empty victory since I have incurred this dear
lady's displeasure," replied the Doctor, arising. "I had the misfortune
to run out when she needed but one to win, an unpardonable crime in the
game of cribbage, Mr. Herrick."
"I'm not sure we wouldn't hang you for that out our way, Doctor," said
Wade, with a smile.
"Well, something ought to be done to him," grumbled Miss Mullett,
closing the cribbage box with a snap.
"Madam, leave me to the reproaches of my conscience," advised the
"Your conscience!" jeered Miss Mullett. "You haven't any. You're a
[Illustration: "STERN IN HER ANGER, MR. HERRICK, BUT OF AN AMIABLE AND
"Mr. Herrick, let us be going, I pray.
"'From pole to pole the thunder roars aloud,
And broken lightnings flash from ev'ry cloud.'
"Besides which, sir, it is close upon ten o'clock, I see, the bed-hour
of our virtuous village. Miss Mullett, I shall pray for your
forgiveness. Miss Eve, I trust you to say a good word for me. If the
storm clears, do you hang a white handkerchief from the window there and
I, going by, will see it and be comforted." The Doctor laid a hand on
Wade's shoulder and, with a mischievous glance at Miss Mullett,
whispered hoarsely: "Stern in her anger, Mr. Herrick, but of an amiable
and forgiving disposition."
"I'll forgive you when I've had my revenge," answered Miss Mullett,
"Ah, the clouds break! Let us be gone, Mr. Herrick, while the sun shines
on our pathway!"
When the front door had closed Miss Mullett turned eagerly to Eve.
"Sit down, dear, and tell me! Was he nice? What did he say?"
"'When He cometh, when He cometh
To make up His jewels,
All His jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.
Like the stars of the morning,
His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine--'"
"Mr. Herring, sir, breakfast's most ready."
"So am I," answered Wade, throwing open the door. "It certainly smells
good, Zephania. Got lots of coffee?"
"Oh, yes, Mr. Herring."
"Yes, sir; excuse me; Herrick."
After breakfast Zene, as his father and Zephania called him, or Zenas
Third, as he was known to the Village, appeared with Wade's trunk on a
wheelbarrow. Zenas Third was a big, broad-shouldered youth of twenty
with a round, freckled, smiling face and eager yellow-brown eyes. He
always reminded Wade of an amiable animated pumpkin. Wade got his
fishing tackle out of the trunk and he and Zenas Third started off for a
They took the road past The Cedars, Wade viewing the house on the chance
of seeing the ladies. But although he failed and was a little
disappointed he did not escape observation himself.
"There goes Mr. Herrick with Zenas Third," announced Miss Mullett,
hurrying cautiously to the sitting-room window. As she had been in the
act of readjusting her embroidery hoops when she arose, her efforts to
secure all the articles in her lap failed and the hoops went circling
off in different directions. "They're going fishing, Eve."
"Are they?" asked Eve from the old mahogany desk by the side window,
with only a glance from her writing.
"Yes, and--_Did_ you see where those hoops rolled to?"
"No, I didn't notice. But your handkerchief is over by the couch and
you're stepping on a skein of linen."
"So I am." Miss Mullett rescued and reassembled her things and sat down
again. "Are you very busy, dear?"
"No." Eve sighed impatiently and laid her pen down. "I'm not at all
busy. I wish I were. I can't seem to write this morning."
"I'm so glad. Not that you can't write, of course, but that you're not
busy. I want to talk."
"Talk on." Eve placed her hands behind her head and eyed the few lines
of writing distastefully.
"But I want you to talk, too," said Miss Mullett, snipping a thread with
her tiny scissors.
"I haven't anything to say."
"Nonsense, dear! There's always plenty to say. Why, I'm sure if I lived
to be a thousand, I'd not be talked out. There's always so many
interesting things to talk about."
"And what is it this morning?" asked Eve, smiling across at the sleek
head bent above the embroidery frame.
"Mr. Herrick. Tell me what you think of him, Eve."
"I haven't thought--much."
"But you ought to. I'm positive he is very much impressed, dear."
"Really? With what?"
"With you." Eve laughed, softly.
"Carrie, you're incorrigible! You won't be satisfied until you've got me
married to some one."
"Of course I shan't. I don't intend that you shall make the mistake I
"You didn't make a mistake, you dear thing. Your mistake would have been
to marry. You'd never have been contented with just one man, Carrie; you
know you think every one you meet is perfectly beautiful."'
"Because I haven't one of my very own," replied Miss Mullett,
tranquilly. "I made a great mistake in not marrying. I would have been
happier married, I'm sure. Every woman ought to have a man to look
after; it keeps her from worrying over trifles."
"Do you think I worry over trifles?" asked Eve.
"You're worrying over that story this minute."
"If I am, it's unkind of you to call my stories trifles. Please
remember that if it wasn't for the stories, such as they are, I couldn't
afford marmalade with my tea."
"And you probably couldn't afford me," said Miss Mullett, "and I guess
I'm a good deal like marmalade myself--half sweet and half bitter." Miss
Mullett laughed at the conceit.
"Anyway, dear, you don't cloy," said Eve. "But you're not like marmalade
the least bit; you're--you're like a nice currant jelly, just tart
enough to be pleasant. How's that?"
"Just so long as you don't call me a pickle I don't mind," replied the
other. Presently: "You must acknowledge that he's very attractive,
"Who?" asked Eve, coming suddenly out of her thoughts.
"Mr. Herrick. And I think he has the most wonderful voice, too; don't
you? It's so deep and--and manly."
"Carrie, if his Satanic Majesty called on us, you'd be telling me after
he'd gone how manly he looked!"
"Well, I'm not one to deny the resemblance between man and the Devil,"
responded Miss Mullett, with a chuckle. "I dare say that's why we like
them so--the men, I mean."
"Does Mr. Herrick strike you as being somewhat devilish?" inquired Eve,
"N-no, I suppose not. Not too much so, at least. I think he must be very
kind; he has such nice eyes. He's the sort of man that makes a lovely
Eve clapped her hands to her ears, laughing.
"Carrie, stop it! I refuse to listen to any more laudations of Mr.
Herrick! Think how the poor man's ears must burn!"
"Let them. He has very nice ears, Eve. Did you notice how small and
close they were?"
"I did not!" declared Eve despairingly. "Nor did I specially observe his
teeth or his hair or his feet, or--"
"But you noticed the scar on his face, didn't you?"
"Yes, I couldn't very well help doing that," owned Eve. "Any more than
I could help noticing his hands."
"So strong looking, aren't they?" asked Miss Mullett, eagerly.
"Are they? I thought them rather ugly."
"Oh, how can you say so? Just think of all the wonderful things those
hands must have done! And as for the scar, I thought it gave him quite a
distinguished air, didn't you?"
"Carrie Mullett, I am not interested in Mr. Herrick. If you say another
word about him before luncheon--"
"You can say that if you like," interrupted Miss Mullett placidly, "but
you are interested in him, my dear."
"Then why can't you write your story? Oh, you can't fool me, my dear!"
Eve turned a disdainful back and picked up her pen, resentful of the
warmth that she felt creeping into her cheeks.
Miss Mullett smiled and drew a new thread from the skein.
"You observe," said Wade the next morning, "I come through the gate in
The intermittent showers of yesterday afternoon and night had cleaned
the June world, and the four ancient cedars from which the Walton place
had received its name, and in the broken shade of which Eve was reading,
exhaled a spicy odor under the influence of moisture and warmth. Eve, a
slim white figure against the dark-green of the foliage, the sun
flecking her waving hair, looked up, smiled and laid her book down.
"Good morning," she said. "Have you come to help me be lazy?"
"If you need help," he replied. "I brought these. They're not much, but
I think they're the last in the village." He handed her a half-dozen
sprays of purple lilac, small and in some places already touched with
"Oh," she said, "they're lovely!" She buried her face in them and
crooned over them delightedly. Witnessing her pleasure, Wade had no
regrets for his hour's search over the length and breadth of Eden
Village. She laid them in her lap and looked up curiously. "Where did
you get them? Not from your hedge?"
"Oh, I just stopped at the florist's as I came along," he laughed. "He
apologized for them and wanted me to take orchids, but I told him they
were for the Lilac Girl."
"Is that me?" smiled Eve. "Thank you very much." She made a little bow.
"I feel dreadfully impolite and inhospitable, Mr. Herrick, at not asking
you to sit down, but--you see!" She waved a hand before her. "There's
nothing but the ground, and that's damp, I'm afraid. So let us go
indoors. Besides, I must put these in water."
"Please don't," he begged. "The ground isn't damp where the sun shines,
and I wouldn't mind if it were. If I'm not keeping you from your book
I'll sit down here. May I?"
"You'll catch rheumatism or ague or something else dreadful," she
"Not I," he laughed. "I've never been sick a day in my life, unless it
was after I'd got mixed up with dynamite that time. Don't you think you
might wear those lilacs?"
"Surely not all of them. One, perhaps." She tucked a spray in at the
bosom of her white waist. "You haven't told me yet where you got them.
Have you been stealing?"
"Some I stole, some I begged, and some I--just took. I think I can
truthfully declare, though, that there is not another bit of lilac at
this moment in the whole village. I went on a foraging expedition after
breakfast and there is the result. I've examined every bush and hedge
with a microscope."
"And all that trouble for me!" she exclaimed. "I'm sure I'm flattered."
A little flush of rose-pink crept into her clear cheeks. "Do you know,
Mr. Herrick, you're a perfectly delightful neighbor? Last night fish,
to-day flowers! And I haven't thanked you for the fish, have I? They
were delicious, and it was good of you to send them. Especially as
Zenas Third said you didn't have very good luck."
"No, we didn't catch many," answered Wade, "but we had a good time. I
was sorry I couldn't send more, though."
"More! Pray how many trout do you think two ladies of delicate appetites
can eat, Mr. Herrick? You sent six, and we didn't begin to eat all of
"Really? They were little chaps, too. I'm glad you liked them. Next time
I hope I'll have some better ones to offer. Zenas and I are going to try
again the first cloudy day."
"I hope you have good luck." There was a moment's silence. Eve raised
the lilacs to her face again and over the tips of the sprays shot a
glance at Wade. He had crossed his legs under him and was feeling for
his pipe. He looked up and their eyes met.
"I'm afraid I can't offer you any tobacco," she said.
"I've got plenty," he laughed, "if you don't mind my smoking."
"Not a bit. Perhaps I should call Carrie. I think she likes the smell
of tobacco better than any perfume she knows."
"Is she well?" asked Wade, contritely. "I should have asked before,
but--you--something put it out of my head."
"Quite well, thanks. She's making something for luncheon and has
forbidden me the kitchen. It's a surprise. Do you like surprises, Mr.
"Some. It depends on the nature of them."
"I suppose it does. An earthquake, for instance, would be a rather
disagreeable surprise, wouldn't it?"
"Decidedly. I can imagine a surprise that would be distinctly pleasant,
though," said Wade, giving a great deal of attention to the selection of
a match from his silver case. "For instance, if you were to give me a
small piece of that lilac for my buttonhole."
"That would surprise you?" laughed Eve. "Then I'm to understand that you
think me ungenerous?"
"No, indeed, I was--was considering my unworthiness."
"Such humility is charming," answered Eve, breaking off a tiny spray and
tossing it to him. "There; aren't you awfully surprised? Please look
Wade struck an attitude and made a grimace which to a third person would
have indicated wild alarm.
"Oh, dear," laughed Eve, "if that's your idea of looking pleasant I'd
hate to see you in an earthquake!"
Wade placed the spray in his buttonhole. "Thank you," he said, "I shall
have quite a collection--"
"You were going to say?" asked Eve politely as he paused.
"I was going to say"--he paused again. "You know I already have a spray
of this that belongs to you." He shot a quick, curious glance at her.
"You have? And where did you get it?"
Wade lighted his pipe very deliberately.
"You dropped it outside my window the other day."
"Oh!" said Eve, with a careless laugh.
"I'm afraid that must be withered by this time."
"It is," said Wade. There was no reply to this, and he looked up to find
her gazing idly at the pages of her book, which she was ruffling with
her fingers. "I'm keeping you from reading," he said.
"No, I don't want to read. It's not interesting."
"May I see what it is?" She held the cover up for his inspection.
"Have you read it?" she asked. He shook his head slowly.
"I don't read many novels, and those I do read I forget all about the
next minute. Of course I try to keep up with the important ones, the
ones folks always ask you about, like Mrs. Humphrey Ward's and Miss
"Yes? And do you like them?"
"I suppose so," he replied, dubiously. "I think the last one I read was
'The Fruit of Mirth.' I didn't care very much for that, did you? If I'd
had my way I'd have passed around the morphine to the whole bunch early
in the book."
Eve smiled. "I'm afraid you wouldn't care for this one either," she
said, indicating the book in her lap. "I heard this described as 'forty
chapters of agony and two words of relief.'"
"'The End,' eh? That was clever. You write stories yourself, don't you?"
"Of a sort, stories for little children about fairies, usually. They
don't amount to much."
"I'll bet they're darn--mighty good," said Wade, stoutly.
"I wish they were 'darned good,'" she laughed. "If they were they'd sell
better. I used to write little things for our college paper, and then,
when papa died, and there wasn't very much left after the executors had
got through, writing seemed about the only thing I could do. I took some
stories to the magazine that papa was editor of, and they were splendid
to me. They couldn't use them, but they told me where to take them and I
sold several. That was the beginning. Now I'm fast becoming a specialist
in 'Once-Upon-a-Time' stories."
"I'd like to read some of them," said Wade. "I'm awfully fond of fairy
stories." "Oh, but these are very young fairy stories, like--like this
one." Eve pulled a pencilled sheet of paper from the pages of her book,
smiled, hesitated, and read: "'Once upon a time there was a Fairy
Princess whose name was Dewdrop. She lived in a beautiful Blue Palace
deep in the heart of a Canterbury Bell that swayed to and fro, to and
fro, at the top of the garden wall. And when the sun shone against the
walls of her palace it was filled with a lovely lavender light, and when
the moon shone it was all asparkle with silver. It was quite the most
desirable palace in the whole garden, for it was the only one that had a
view over the great high wall, and many fairies envied her because she
lived in it. One of those who wanted the Blue Palace for himself was a
very wicked fairy who lived under a toadstool nearby. He was so terribly
wicked that I don't like to even tell you about him. He never got up to
breakfast when he was called, he never did as he was told, and he used
to sit for hours on top of his toadstool, putting out his tongue at all
the other fairies who flew by. And he did lots and lots of other
things, too, that only a thoroughly depraved fairy could ever think of,
like putting cockleburs in the nests where the baby birds lived, and
making them very uncomfortable, and chasing the moles about underground,
and making a squeaking noise like a hungry weasel, and scaring the poor
little moles almost to death. Oh, I could tell you lots of dreadful
things about the wicked fairy if I wanted to. His name was Nettlesting,
and his father and mother were both dead, and he lived all alone with
his grandmother, who simply spoiled him! And--'and that's all there is.
How do you like it?"
"Bully," said Wade. "What's the rest of it?"
"I don't know. That's as far as I've got. I suppose, though, that the
wicked fairy tried to oust the Princess from the Blue Palace, and there
were perfectly scandalous doings in Fairyland."
"I hope you'll finish it," said Wade. "I rather like Nettlesting."
"Oh, but you mustn't! The moral is that fairies who don't get up to
breakfast when they're called always come to some bad end. You must
like the Princess and think the wicked fairy quite detestable."
"Can't help it," Wade replied, apologetically. "The wicked fairy had a
sense of humor and I like him. That chasing the moles around and
squeaking like a weasel appeals to me. I'll bet that's just what I'd do
if I were a fairy!"
"I know," said Eve, nodding her head sympathetically. "I'm ashamed to
say it, but I always like the wicked fairies, too. It's dreadfully hard
sometimes for me to give them their deserts. I'm afraid I don't make
them mean enough. What is your idea of a thoroughly depraved fairy, Mr.
Wade frowned a moment, thinking deeply.
"Well," he said finally, "you might have him go around and upset the
bird-nests and spill the little birds out. How would that do?"
"Beautifully! Oh, he _would_ be wicked; even I couldn't like a fairy who
did that. Thank you ever so much, Mr. Herrick; I would never have
thought of that myself. What a beautifully wicked imagination you must
have! I'll make Nettlesting do that very thing."
"No, don't change him, please; I like him the way he is. When will that
story he published?"
"Oh, I may never finish it, and, if I do, it may never be accepted."
Wade pondered a minute. Then--"Of course, you know it's perfect
nonsense," he charged.
"My story? Isn't that a little cruel, Mr. Herrick?"
"I don't mean your story. I mean the idea of you having to write things
to make a living when--when there's all that money that really belongs
to you. I wish, Miss Walton, you'd look at it sensibly."
"Mr. Herrick, you're not flattering any more."
"Can't help it," answered Wade, doggedly. "You ought to consider the
matter from--from a practical point of view. Now you can't deny--"
"A woman can deny anything," laughed Eve, "especially if it's logic."
"This isn't logic; it's incontrovertible fact."
"Good gracious! No, I don't believe I'd have the courage to deny such a
thing as that. I'm sure it would be quite unlawful, wouldn't it, Mr.
"Won't you please be serious?" he begged.
"No, not to-day, thank you."
"Then we'll talk about it some other day."
"No, but we won't, please. I'd like you to understand, Mr. Herrick, that
I appreciate your--your kindness, your generosity, but all the argument
in the world won't shake my resolution to take none of Cousin Edward's
money. Now we understand each other, don't we?"
"I suppose so," answered Wade, regretfully. "But you're making a
mistake, Miss Walton. Won't you just think about it?' Won't you take
advice from--from your friends?"
"The last thing I'd do," Eve replied, smilingly. "One's friends are the
very ones to avoid when you want unbiased advice. For instance, there's
Carrie Mullett. I told her what you said the other night, and what do
you suppose her advice was?"
"I'm sure it was sensible," said Wade. "She's a very sensible, as well
as a very charming, lady."
"H'm; well, she said: 'Accept enough to live on, my dear. Your father
would never have wanted you to be dependent on yourself for your
"Well?" asked Wade, hopefully.
"She never knew papa," replied Eve. "Besides, I am not dependent on
myself for my living. I have enough to live on even if I never sold a
thing. I'm not so poverty-stricken as you imagine."
"If you'd talk it over with a lawyer--"
"But it isn't a question of law, Mr. Herrick. It's something between me
and my conscience, you see. And surely," she ended with a smile, "you
wouldn't consult a lawyer about an affair of conscience? Why, I might
have to explain what a conscience was!"
"Well," said Wade, grimly. "I've made no promises, and I haven't given
up yet. And you'll find, Miss Walton, that I'm a tiresome chap when it
comes to having my own way."
"And you'll find, Mr. Herrick, that I'm a stubborn woman when it comes
to having mine. There, the battle is on!"
"And I shall win," said Wade, looking up at her with a sudden gleam in
his eyes. For an instant she met his gaze and found herself a little
dismayed at some expression she found there. But--
"We'll see," she answered, calmly. "Is it to be war to the knife, Mr.
"I hope it won't come to that," he answered. "But there's another thing
I want you to do, and as it's something you can do without wounding your
conscience, I hope you will."
"It sounds formidable. What is it, please?"
"Come over this afternoon and have tea, you and Miss Mullett. Will you?"
"Gladly. I haven't had afternoon tea since I left New York."
"Then shall we say four o'clock? Don't fail me, please, Miss Walton,
for Zephania and I will be terribly disappointed if you do. It's our
first tea, you know."
"Indeed we won't fail you!" answered Eve. "And, please, I like lemon
All was ready for the guests long before the time appointed, and Wade,
attired in his best blue serge, whitest vest, and bluest silk tie, and
clean-shaven to a painful degree, paced impatiently between the kitchen,
fragrant with the odor of newly-baked cake, and the parlor, less chill
and formal than usual under the humanizing influence of several bowls
and vases of flowers.
The ladies were quite on time, Miss Mullett looking sweet and cheerful
in pink and white, and Eve absolutely lovely and adorable in pale-blue
linen that matched her eyes to the fraction of a tone. They settled
themselves in the cool parlor and talked while the shades rustled and
whispered in the little scented breeze that stole through the open
windows. Zephania, starched and ribboned, bore proudly in the best
silver tea service, Wade watching the progress of the heavily laden tray
across the room with grave anxiety.
"I'd like you to know," he announced when it was safely deposited on the
little table at Eve's side, "that this is Zephania's spread. She made
the cake herself--and the bread too."
"The dear child!" said Miss Mullett.
"Why, Zephania!" exclaimed Eve.
And Zephania, very proud and rosy, and trying hard to look unconcerned,
made her escape just as Doctor Crimmins, happening by, heard the voices
and demanded admittance with the head of his cane on the window-sill.
That was a very jolly tea-party. The Doctor ate six pieces of cake and
drank three cups of tea, praising each impartially between mouthfuls.
Wade, eating and drinking spasmodically, told of his adventures in
search of lemons.
"Prout's emporium was quite out of them," he explained. "Prout said he
had had some a few weeks ago, but they were sold. So I walked over to
The Centre and got them there."
Miss Mullett eluded him anxiously and insisted that the Doctor should
examine his pulse.
"You ought never to have taken such a walk on such a hot day, Mr.
Herrick. The idea! Why, you might have died! Why don't you scold him,
Eve's eyebrows went up.
"Why should I scold him, Carrie? Mr. Herrick knew that I liked lemon in
my tea and, being a very gallant gentleman, he obtained lemon. You all
know that I am quite heartless where my wants are concerned."
"Well, I think it was extremely wrong, Mr. Herrick, and I shan't touch
another slice of lemon."
"Which," laughed Eve, "considering that you already have four pieces
floating about in your cup, is truly heroic!"
After the ladies had gone the Doctor lingered, and presently, in some
strange way, he found himself in the dining-room with the doors
carefully closed, saying "Ha! H'm!" and wiping his lips gratefully. He
made Wade promise to come and see him, quoted a couplet anent
hospitality--neglecting to give the author's name--and took his
departure. After supper Wade lighted his pipe and started in the
direction of the Doctor's house, but he never got there that evening.
For an hour or more he wandered along the quiet, almost deserted street,
and smoked and thought and watched the effect of the moonlight amidst
the high branches of the elms, finally finding himself back at his own
gate, tapping his pipe against the post and watching the red sparks
"It isn't going to be very hard, after all," he murmured.
June mellowed into July and July moved by in a procession of hot,
languorous days and still, warm nights. Sometimes it rained, and then
the leaves and flowers, adroop under the sun's ardor, quivered and
swayed with delight and scented the moist air with the sweet, faint
fragrance of their gratitude. Often the showers came at night, and Wade,
lying in bed with doors and windows open, could hear it pattering upon
the leaves and drumming musically upon the shingles. And he fancied,
too, that he could hear the thankful earth drinking it in with its
millions of little thirsty mouths. After such a night he awoke to find
the room filled with dewy, perfumed freshness and radiant with sunshine,
while out of doors amidst the sparkling leaves the birds trilled paeans
to the kindly heavens.
By the middle of July Wade had settled down comfortably into the quiet
life of Eden Village. Quiet it was, but far from hum-drum. On the
still, mirrored surface of a pool even the dip of an insect's wing will
cause commotion. So it was in Eden Village. On the placid surface of
existence there the faintest zephyr became a gale that raised waves of
excitement; the tiniest happening was an event. It is all a matter of
proportion. Wade experienced as much agitation when a corner of the
woodshed caught on fire, and he put it out with a broom, as when with
forty men behind him, he had fought for hours to save the buildings at
the mine two years before. Something of interest was always happening.
There was the day when the serpent appeared in Eden. Appropriately
enough, it was Eve who discovered it, curled up in the sun right by the
gate. Her appeals for assistance brought Wade in a hurry, and the
serpent, after an exciting chase through the hedges and flower beds, was
finally dispatched. It proved to be an adder of blameless character, but
neither Eve nor Miss Mullett had any regrets. Eve declared that a snake
was a snake, no matter what any one--meaning Wade--said, and Wade was
forced to acknowledge the fact. Armed with a shovel, they marched to the
back garden, Wade holding the snake by its unquiet tail, and interred it
there, so that Alexander the Great, the tortoise-shell cat, wouldn't eat
it and be poisoned. Subsequently the affair had to be discussed in all
its aspects by Eve and Wade in the shade of the cedars.
And then there was the anxious week when Zephania had a bad sore throat
that looked for awhile like diphtheria, and Wade prepared his own
breakfasts and lunches and dined alternately at The Cedars and with
Doctor Crimmins. And, of course, there was the stirring occasion of
Zephania's return to duty, Zephania being patently proud of the
disturbance she had created, and full of quaint comments on life, death,
and immortality, those subjects seemingly having engaged her mind
largely during her illness. For several days her voice was noticeably
lacking in quality and volume, and "There is a Happy Land," which was
her favorite hymn during that period, was rendered so subduedly that
Wade was worried, and had to have the Doctor's assurance that Zephania
was not going into a decline.
These are only a few of the exciting things that transpired during
Wade's first month in Eden Village. There were many others, but as I
tell them they seem much less important than they really were, and I
shall mention only one more. That was something other than a mere event;
it savored of the stupendous; it might almost be called a phenomenon.
Its fame spread abroad until folks discussed it over the tea-table or in
front of the village stores in places as far distant as Stepping and
Tottingham and Bursley. In Eden Village it caused such a commotion as
had not disturbed the tranquillity since the weather-vane on the church
steeple was regilded. As you are by this time, kind reader, in a fever
of excitement and curiosity, I'll relieve your suspense.
Wade had his cottage painted, inside and out!
Not content with that, he had a new roof put on, built a porch on the
south side of the house, cut a door from the sitting-room, and had the
fence mended and the gate rehung! It was the consensus of Eden Village
opinion that you can't beat a Westerner for extravagance and sheer
But I haven't told you all even yet. I've saved something for a final
thrill. Wade had dormer windows built into the sleeping-rooms, a thing
which so altered the appearance of the house that the neighbors stood
aghast. Some of the older ones shook their heads and wondered what old
Colonel Selden Phelps would say if he could say anything. And the spirit
of progress and improvement reached even to the grounds. Zenas Third
toiled with spade and pruning-knife and bundles of shrubs and plants
came from Boston and were set out with lavish prodigality. In the matter
of alterations to the house Eve was consulted on every possible
occasion, while garden improvements were placed entirely in Miss
Mullett's capable hands. That lady was in her element, and for a week or
more one could not pass the cottage without spying Miss Mullett and
Zenas Third hard at work somewhere about. Miss Mullett wore a
wide-brimmed straw hat to keep the sun from her pink cheeks and a pair
of Wade's discarded gloves to save her hands. The gloves were very, very
much too large for her, and, when not actually engaged in using her
trowel, Miss Mullett stood with arms held out in scarecrow style so as
not to contaminate her gown with garden mold, and presented a strange
and unusual appearance. Every afternoon, as regular as clockwork, the
Doctor came down the street and through the gate to lavish advice,
commendation, and appropriate quotations from his beloved poets. At five
Zephania appeared with the tea things and the _partie carree_ gathered
in the parlor and brought their several little histories up to date, and
laughed and poked fun at each other, and drew more and more together as
Perhaps you've been thinking that Wade's advent in Eden Village was the
signal for calls and invitations to dinners, receptions, and bridge. If
you have you don't know New England, or, at least, you don't know Eden
Village. One can't dive into society in Eden Village; one has to wade
in, and very cautiously. In the course of events the newcomer became
thoroughly immersed, and the waters of Eden Village society enclosed him
beneficently, but that was not yet. He was still undergoing his
novitiate, and to raise his hat to Miss Cousins, when he encountered
that austere lady on the street, was as yet the height of social
triumph. Wade, however, was experiencing no yearnings for a wider social
sphere. Eve and Miss Mullett and the Doctor, Zephania, and the two
Zenases were sufficient for him. In fact he would have been quite
satisfied with one of that number could he have chosen the one.
For Wade's deliberate effort to fall in love with Eve had proved
brilliantly successful. In fact he had not been conscious of the effort
at all, so simple and easy had the process proved. Of course he ought to
have been delighted, but, strange to tell, after the first brief moment
of self-gratulation, he began to entertain doubts as to the wisdom of
his plan. Regrets succeeded doubts. Being in love with a girl who didn't
care a rap whether you stayed or went wasn't the unalloyed bliss he had
pictured. He would know better another time.
That was in the earlier stage. Later it dawned upon him that there never
could be another time, and he didn't want that there should. This
knowledge left him rather dazed. He felt a good deal like a man who,
walking across a pleasant beach and enjoying the view, suddenly finds
himself up to his neck in quicksand. And, like a person in such a
quandary, Wade's first instinctive thought was to struggle.
The struggle lasted three days, three days during which he sedulously
avoided The Cedars and tramped dozens of miles with Zenas Third in
search of fish--and very frequently lost his bait because his thoughts
were busy elsewhere. At the end of the three days he found himself, to
return to our comparison, deeper than ever.
Then it was that he looked facts in the face. He reduced the problem to
simple quantities and studied it all one evening, with the aid of an
eighth of a pound of tobacco and a pile of lumber which the carpenters
had left near the woodshed. The problem, as Wade viewed it, was this:
A man, with little to recommend him save money, is head over heels in
love with the loveliest, dearest girl the Lord ever made, a girl a
thousand times too good for the man, and who doesn't care any more for
him than she does for the family cat or the family doctor. What's the
Wade gave it up--the problem, not the girl. He wasn't good at problems.
Out West it had been Ed Craig who had figured out the problems on paper,
and Wade who had reached the same conclusions with pick and shovel and
dynamite. Their methods differed, but the results attained were similar.
So, as I have said, Wade abandoned the problem on paper and set to work,
metaphorically, with steel and explosives.
There was a bench outside the kitchen door at The Cedars, a
slant-legged, unpainted bench which at one time had been used to hold
milk-cans. Wade settled himself on this in company with several dozen
glasses of currant jelly. From his position he could look in at the
kitchen door upon Eve and Miss Mullett, who, draped from chin to toes in
blue-checked aprons, were busy over the summer preserving. A sweet,
spicy fragrance was wafted out to him from the bubbling kettles, and now
and then Eve, bearing a long agate-ware spoon and adorned on one cheek
with a brilliant streak of currant juice, came to the threshold and
smiled down upon him in a preoccupied manner, glancing at the jelly
"If you spill them," she said, "Carrie will never forgive you, Mr.
"Nonsense," declared Miss Mullett from the kitchen. "I'd just send you
for more, Mr. Herrick, and make you help me put them up."
"I think I'd like that," answered Wade.
"It must be rather good fun messing about with sugar and currants and
"Messing about!" exclaimed Eve, indignantly. "It's quite evident that
you've never done any of it!"
"Well, I stewed some dried apricots once," said Wade, "and they weren't
half bad. I suppose you're going to be busy all the morning, aren't
you?" he asked, forlornly.
"I'm afraid so."
"Indeed you're not," said Miss Mullett, decisively. "You're going to
stop as soon as we get this kettleful off. I can do the rest much better
without you, dear."
"Did you ever hear such ingratitude?" laughed Eve. "Here I've been hard
at work since goodness only knows what hour of the morning, and now I'm
informed that my services are valueless! I shall stay and help just to
spite you, Carrie."
"I wanted you to take a walk," said Wade, boldly. "It's a great
morning, too fine to be spent indoors."
"Is it?" Eve looked up at the fleecy sky critically. "Don't you think it
looks like rain?"
"Not a bit," he answered, stoutly. "We're in for a long drought.
Zephania told me so not half an hour ago."
"Is Zephania a weather prophet?"
"She's everything. She knows so much that she makes me ashamed of
myself. And she never makes a mistake about the weather."
Wade waited anxiously.
"We-ll," said Eve, finally, "if you're sure it isn't going to rain, and
Carrie really doesn't want me--"
"I do not," said Miss Mullett, crisply. "A walk will do you good. She
stayed up until all hours last night, Mr. Herrick, writing. I wish you'd
say something to her; she pays no attention to me."
Wade flushed. Eve turned and shot an indignant glance at Miss Mullett,
but that lady was busy over the kettle with her back toward them.
"I'm afraid she would pay less heed to me than to you," answered Wade
with a short laugh. "But if you'll persuade her to walk, I'll lecture
her as much as you wish."
"If I'm to be lectured," replied Eve, "I shan't go."
"Well, of course, if you put it that way," hedged Wade.
"Go along, dear," said Miss Mullett. "You need fresh air. But do keep
out of the sun if it gets hot."
"I wonder," observed Wade, with a smile, "what you folks up here would
do down in New Mexico, where the temperature gets up to a hundred and
twenty in the shade."
"I'd do as the Irishman suggested," answered Eve, pertly, "and keep out
of the shade. If you'll wait right where you are and not move for ten
minutes I'll go and get ready."
"I won't ruffle a feather," Wade assured her. "But you'd better come
before dinner time or I may get hungry and eat all the jelly."
Twenty minutes later she was back, a cool vision of white linen and
lace. She wore no hat, but had brought a sunshade. Pursued by Miss
Mullett's admonitions to keep out of the sun as much as possible, they
went down the garden and through the gate, and turned countryward under
the green gloom of the elms. Alexander the Great, laboring perhaps under
the delusion that he was a dog instead of a cat, followed them
decorously for some distance, and then, being prevailed on to desist,
climbed a fence-post and blinked gravely after them.
"It really is nice to-day," said Eve. "When the breeze comes from the
direction of the coast it cools things off deliciously. I suppose it's
only imagination, but sometimes I think I can smell the salt--or taste
it. That's scarcely possible, though, for we're a good twenty miles
"I'm not so sure," he answered. "Lots of times I've thought I could
smell the ocean here. Does it take very long to get to Portsmouth or the
beach? Couldn't we go some day, you and Miss Mullett and the Doctor and
"That would be jolly," said Eve. "We must talk it over with them. I'm
afraid, though, the Doctor couldn't go. There's always some one sick
"Oh, he could leave enough of his nasty medicine one day to last through
the next. He's one of the nicest old chaps I ever met, Miss Walton. He's
awfully fond of you, isn't he?"
"I think he is," she answered, "and I'm awfully fond of him, I don't
know whether I ought to tell this, but I have a suspicion that he used
to be very fond of my mother before she was married. He's told me so
many little things about her, and he always speaks of her in such a
quiet, dear sort of way. I wonder--I wonder if he ever asked her to
"Somehow I don't believe he ever did," said Wade, thoughtfully. "I could
imagine him being sort of shy if he were in love. Perhaps, while he was
working his courage up to the sticking point, your father stepped in and
carried off the prize. That happens sometimes, you know."
"I suppose it does," laughed Eve. "Or perhaps he was so busy quoting
bits of poetry to her that he never had time!"
"That's so." Wade smiled. "There's one thing certain, and that is, if
she did refuse him, he had a quotation quite ready for the occasion."
"''Tis better to have loved and lost' and so on?"
"Something of the sort," answered Wade. "I wonder, though, if that is
true, Miss Walton?"
"What?" asked Eve.
"That it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at
"I'm sure I don't know. Probably not. Perhaps, like a great many of the
Doctor's quotations, it's more poetical than truthful."
"I think it must be," mused Wade. "It doesn't sound logical to me. To
say that, when you've seen a thing you want and can't have it, you're
better off than before you wanted it, doesn't sound like sense."
"Have you ever wanted much you didn't get?" asked Eve.
Wade thought a minute.
"Come to think of it, Miss Walton, I don't believe I have. I can't think
of anything just now. Perhaps that's why I'd hate all the more to be
deprived of what I want now," he said, seriously. She shot a glance at
him from under the edge of the sunshade.
"You talk as though some one was trying to cheat you out of something
you'd set your heart on," she said lightly.
"That isn't far wrong," he answered. "I have set my heart on something
and it doesn't look now as though I'd ever get it."
"Oh, I hope you will," said Eve, sincerely.
"Your saying that makes it look farther off than ever," responded Wade,
with a wry smile.
"My saying that? But why?" she asked in surprise.
"Because," he answered, after a moment's silence, "if you knew what it
is I want, I don't think you'd want me to have it, and that you don't
know proves that I'm a long way off from it."
"It sounds like a riddle," said Eve, perplexedly. "Please, Mr. Herrick,
what is the answer?"
Wade clenched his hands in his pockets and looked very straight ahead up
"You," he said.
"_Me?_" The sunshade was raised for an instant. "_Oh!_" The sunshade
dropped. They walked on in silence for a few paces. Then said Wade, with
a stolen glance at the white silken barrier:
"I hope I haven't offended you, Miss Walton. I had no more intention of
saying anything like that when we started out than--than the man in the
moon. But it's true, and you might as well know it now as any other
time. You're what I want, more than I've ever wanted anything before or
ever shall again, and you're what I'm very much afraid I won't get. I'm
not quite an idiot, after all. I know mighty well that--that I'm not the
sort of fellow you'd fall in love with, barring a miracle. But maybe I'm
trusting to the miracle. Anyhow, I'm cheeky enough to hope that--that
you may get to like me enough to marry me some day. Do you think you
"But--oh, I don't know what to say," cried Eve, softly. "I haven't
"Of course not," interrupted Wade, cheerfully. "Why should you? All I
ask is that you think about it now--or some time when you--when you're
not busy, you know. I guess I could say a whole lot about how much I
love you, but you're not ready to hear that yet and I won't. If you'll
just understand that you're the one girl in the whole darn--in the whole
world for me, Miss Walton, we'll let it go at that for the present. You
think about it. I'm not much on style and looks, and I don't know much
outside of mining, but I pick up things pretty quickly and I could
learn. I don't say anything about money, except that if you cared for me
I'd be thankful I had plenty of it, so that I could give you most
anything you wanted. You--you don't mind thinking it over, do you?"
"No," said Eve, a little unsteadily, "but--oh, I do wish you wouldn't
talk as you do! You make me feel so little and worthless, and I don't
like to feel that way."
"But how?" cried Wade, in distress. "I don't mean to!"
"I know you don't. That's just it. But you do. When you talk so meanly
of yourself, I mean. Just as though any girl wouldn't feel proud at
having--at hearing--oh, you must know what I mean!" And Eve turned a
flushed, beseeching face toward him.
"Not quite, I'm afraid," Wade answered. "Anyhow, I don't want you to
feel proud, Miss Walton. If any one should feel proud, it's I, to think
you've let me say this to you and haven't sent me off about my
"Oh, please!" begged Eve, with a little vexed laugh.
"What?" he asked, perplexedly.
"Don't talk of yourself as though you were--were just nothing, and of me
as though I were a princess. It's absurd! I'm only a very ordinary sort
of person with ordinary faults--perhaps more than my share of them."
"You're the finest woman I ever saw, and the loveliest," replied Wade
stoutly. "And if you're not for me no other woman is."
The sunshade intervened again and they walked on for some little
distance in silence. Then Wade began slowly, choosing his words: "Maybe
I've talked in a way to give you a wrong impression. You mustn't think
that there's any--false modesty about me. I reckon I have rather too
good an opinion of myself, if anything. I wouldn't want you to be
disappointed in me--afterwards, you know. I reckon I've got an average
amount of sense and ability. I've been pretty successful for a man of
twenty-eight, and it hasn't been all luck, not by a whole lot! Maybe
most folks would say I was conceited, had a swelled head. It's only when
it comes to--to asking you to marry me that I get kind of down on
myself. I know I'm not good enough, Miss Walton, and I own up to it. The
only comforting thought is that there aren't many men who are. I'm
saying this because I don't want to fool you into thinking me any more
modest and humble than I am. You understand?"
"Yes, I understand," replied Eve, from under the sunshade.
"And you won't forget your promise?"
"To think it over."
"No, I won't forget. But please don't hope too much, Mr. Herrick, for I
can't promise anything, really! It isn't that I don't like you, for I
do, but"--her voice trailed off into silence.
"I hardly dared hope for that much," said Wade, gratefully. "Of course
it isn't enough, but it's something to start on."
"But liking isn't love," objected Eve, gravely.
"I know. And there was never love without liking. You don't mind if I
get what comfort I can out of that, do you?"
"N-no, I suppose not," answered Eve, slowly.
"It doesn't bind you to anything, you see. Shall we turn back now? The
breeze seems to have left us."
Presently he said: "There's something I want very much to ask you, but
I don't know whether I have any right to."
"If there's anything I can answer, I will," said Eve.
"Then I'll ask it, and you can do as you please about answering. It's
just this. Is there anyone who has--a prior claim? I mean is there any
one you must consider in this, Miss Walton. Please don't say a word
unless you want to."
Eve made no reply for a moment. Then, "I think I'm glad you did ask
that, Mr. Herrick," she said, "for it gives me a chance to explain why I
haven't answered you this morning, instead of putting it off. I am not
bound in any way by any promise of mine, and yet--there is some one
who--I hardly know how to put it, Mr. Herrick."
"Don't try if it is too hard. I think I understand."
"I don't believe you do, though. I'm not quite sure--it's only this;
that I want to feel quite free before--I answer you. I may have to keep
you waiting for awhile, perhaps a few days. May I? You won't mind?"
"I can wait for a year as long as waiting means hope," replied Wade,
"But maybe--it doesn't."
"But it does. If there was no hope, absolutely none, you'd have told me
so ten minutes ago, wouldn't you?"
"I suppose so. I don't know. I mean"--she stopped and faced him, half
laughing, half serious. "Oh, I don't know what I mean; you've got me all
mixed up! Please, let's not talk any more about it now. Let's--let's go
"Very well," said Wade, cheerfully. "I hope I haven't walked you too
After supper that night Wade called on Doctor Crimmins. The Doctor
occupied a small house which had many years before been used as a
school. At one side the Doctor had built a little office, with an
entrance from a short brick walk leading to the street. The ground-glass
door held the inscription, "Josiah L. Crimmins, M.D. Office." Wade's
ring brought the Doctor's housekeeper, a bent, near-sighted, mumbling
old woman, who informed Wade that the Doctor was out on a call, but
would be back presently. She led the way into the study, turned up the
lamp and left him. The study was office and library and living-room in
one, a large, untidy room with books lining two sides of it, and a third
devoted to shelf on shelf of bottles and jars and boxes. Near the bottle
end of the apartment the Doctor had his desk and his few appliances. At
the other end was a big oak table covered with a debris of books,
magazines, newspapers, tobacco cans, pipes, and general litter. There
was a mingled odor, not unpleasant, of drugs and disinfectants, tobacco
and leather. Wade made himself comfortable in a big padded armchair, one
of those genuinely comfortable chairs which modern furnishers have
thrust into oblivion, picked up a magazine at random, slapped the dust
off it and filled his pipe. He was disturbed by the sound of brisk
footsteps on the bricks outside. Then a key was inserted in the lock and
the Doctor entered from the little lobby, bag in hand.
"Ha! Who have we here? Welcome, my dear Herrick, welcome! I hope you
come as a friend and not as a patient. Quite right, sir. Keep out of the
doctor's clutches as long as possible. Well, well, a warm night this."
The Doctor wiped his face with his handkerchief, wafting a strong odor
of ether about the room. Then he took off his black frock-coat, hung it
on a hook behind the door, and slipped into a rusty old brown velvet
house-coat. After that he filled his pipe, talking the while, and, when
it was lighted, said "Ha" again very loudly and contentedly, and took
down a half-gallon bottle from the medicine shelves. This he placed on
the table by the simple expedient of sweeping a pile of newspapers to
"Now where are those glasses, I wonder?" He looked about the room
searchingly over the tops of his spectacles. "There we are." He
discovered one on his desk and another on the shelf over the little
sink. The latter held some liquid which he first smelled, then tasted
and finally threw away. "Wonder what that was," he muttered. "Well, a
little rinsing will fix it. Here we are now, Mr. Herrick. Pour your
drink, sir, and I'll put the water in. Don't be afraid of it. It's as
mild as milk."
"You're quite sure it isn't laudanum?" asked Wade, with a suspicious
look at the big bottle.
"Bless you, no." The Doctor lowered himself into a chair with a sigh of
relief and contentment. "Now tell me the news, Mr. Herrick. I haven't
seen our good friends at The Cedars since yesterday."
Wade sipped from his glass, set it down, hesitated.
"The only piece of news I have, Doctor," he said, finally, "is that I
asked Miss Walton to marry me this morning."
"Bless my soul!" The Doctor started to rise. "I do most heartily
congratulate you, Mr. Herrick!"
"Hold on, though," said Wade. "Don't jump to conclusions. She hasn't
accepted me, Doctor."
"What! But she's going to?"
"I wish I was certain," replied Wade, with a smile.
"But--why, I'd have said she was fond of you, Mr. Herrick. Miss Mullett
and I were talking it over just the other day. Old busy-bodies, I
suppose you'd call us. But what did she say--if that isn't an
impertinent question, sir."
"Well, it seems that there's some one else."
"Yes. I don't know why there shouldn't be."
"Miss Mullett told me that Miss Eve had never shown the slightest favor
to any one since she'd known her."
"Maybe this was before that. It isn't very clear just how the other chap
stands with her. But she asked time to think it over."
The Doctor chuckled. "Who hesitates is lost, Mr. Herrick. Take my word
for it,--she'll come around before long. I'm very glad. She's a fine
woman, a fine woman. I knew her mother."
"Well, I hope you're right, Doctor. Maybe you'd better not say anything
about it just yet."
"Not a word, sir. I presume, though, if you do marry her, you'll take
her out West with you."
"I don't dare make plans yet. I'm sure, though, we'd come to Eden
Village in the summer."
"I hope so. I wouldn't want to think I wasn't to see her again. I'm very
fond of her in an old man's way. How is the house getting along? Workmen
almost through, I guess."
"They've promised to get out to-morrow. And that reminds me, Doctor. I
want the ladies and you to take dinner with me Saturday night. It's to
be a sort of house-warming, you know. Mrs. Prout is coming over to cook
for me and Zephania is to serve. I may depend on you?"
"To be sure, sir. I'll just make a note of it. Saturday, you said? H'm,
yes, Saturday. About half-past six, I presume?" The Doctor pulled
himself from his chair and rummaged about his desk. "Well, I can't ...
seem to ... find my ... memorandum, but I'll remember without it.
You--ah--you might mention it to me again in a day or two. I hope by
that time we'll be able to drink a toast, sir, to you and Miss Eve."
"You don't hope so any more than I do," said Wade gravely. "I only
wish--" He stopped, frowned at his pipe and went on. "The devil of it
is, Doctor, I feel so confoundedly cheeky."
"I mean about asking her to marry a fellow like me."
"What's the matter with you? You're of sound body and mind, aren't
"Yes, I reckon so. But I'm such a useless sort, in a way. I've never
done anything except make some money."
"Some women would think you'd done quite enough," replied the Doctor,
"But she's not that sort. I don't believe she cares anything about
money. I've been trying to get her to let me do the square thing with
Ed's property, but she won't listen."
"Wanted to parcel some of it out to her, eh? Well, I guess Eve wouldn't
"No, she wouldn't. She ought to, too. It should have been hers, by
rights. If it wasn't for that silly quarrel between her father and
"I know, I know. But she's right, according to her lights, Mr. Herrick.
Irv Walton wouldn't have touched any of that money with a pair of
pincers. Still, I don't see as you need to have such a poor opinion of
yourself. We can't all be great generals or statesmen or financiers.
Some of us have to wear the drab. And, after all, it doesn't matter
tuppence what you are, Mr. Herrick, if you've got the qualities that
appeal to Eve. Lord love us! Where would civilization be if it was only
the famous men who found wives? I don't think any the worse of myself,
Mr. Herrick, because I've never made the world sit up and take notice.
I've had my battles and victories, and I don't despise them because
there was no waving of flags or sounding of trumpets. I've lived
clean--as clean as human flesh may, I guess,--I've been true to my
friends and honest to my enemies, and here I am, as good as the next
man, to my own thinking."
"I dare say you're right," answered Wade, "but when you love a woman,
you sort of want to have a few trophies handy to throw down at her feet,
if you see what I mean. You'd like to say, 'Look, I've done this and
that! I've conquered here and there! I am Somebody!'"
"And if she didn't love you she'd turn up her nose at your trophies, and
like as not walk off with the village fool."
"Well, but it seems to me that a woman isn't likely to love a man
unless he has something to show besides a pocketbook."
"Mr. Herrick, there's just one reason why a woman loves a man, and
that's because she loves him. You can invent all the theories you want,
and you can write tons of poetry about it, and when you get through
you'll be just where you started. You can find a reason for pretty near
everything a woman does, though you may have to rack your brains like
the devil to do it, but you can't explain why she falls in love with
this man and not with that. Perhaps you recall Longfellows's lines: 'The
men that women marry, and why they marry them, will always be a marvel
and a mystery to the world.' Personally, I'm a bit of a fatalist
regarding love. I think hearts are mated when they're fashioned, and
when they get together you can no more keep them apart than you keep two
drops of quicksilver from running into each other when they touch. It's
as good a theory as any, for it can't be disproved."
"Then how account for unhappy marriages?" asked Wade.
"I said hearts were mated, not bodies and brains, nor livers, either.
Half the unhappy marriages are due, I dare say, to bad livers."
"Well," laughed Wade, rising and finding his hat, "your theory sounds
reasonable. As for me, I have no theory--nor data. So I'll go home and
go to sleep. Don't forget Saturday night, Doctor."
"Saturday night? Oh, to be sure, to be sure. I'll not forget, you may
depend. Good night, Mr. Herrick, and thank you for looking in on me.
"Ah--I wouldn't be too meek, if I were you. Even Fate may relish a
little assistance. Good night. I wouldn't be surprised if we had a
thunder storm before morning."
Wade was relieved to find that Eve's manner toward him had undergone no
change by reason of his impromptu declaration. They met quite as before,
and if there was any embarrassment on the part of either of them it was
not on hers. During the next few days it happened that he seldom found
himself alone with her for more than a few moments, but it did not occur
to him that Chance alone was not responsible. As Wade understood it, it
was a period of truce, and he was careful not to give word or look that
might be construed into a violation of terms. Perhaps he overdid it a
little, for there were times, usually when he was not looking, when Eve
shot speculating, slightly puzzled glances at him. Perhaps she was
thinking that such subjects as last night's thunder storm, dormer
windows, and the apple crop outlook were not just what a declared lover
might be supposed to choose for conversation. Once or twice, notably
toward the end of the week, and when she had been presumably making up
her mind for three days, she exhibited signs of irritability and
impatience. These Wade construed as evidences of boredom and acted upon
as such, cheerfully taking himself off.
The house-warming, as Wade chose to call his dinner-party, came off on
Saturday night. Wade had moved his bed back to the guest-room upstairs
and the sitting-room had regained its former character. In this room and
in the parlor and dining-room bowls and vases of pink roses--which had
come from Boston on ice in great wooden boxes, and about which the
village at large was already excitedly speculating--stood in every
available spot. But if Eden Village found subject for comment in the
extravagant shipment of roses, imagine its wonderment when it beheld,
shortly after six o'clock, Doctor Crimmins parading magnificently up the
street in swallow-tailed coat and white vest, a costume which Miss
Cousins was certain he had not worn in twenty years!
Wade and his guests sat on the new side porch while awaiting dinner and
Wade came in for a lot of praise for the improvements he had worked in
his garden, praise which he promptly disclaimed in favor of Miss
"Goodness only knows what I'd have done if it hadn't been for her," he
laughed. "I wanted to plant American Beauty roses and maiden-hair fern
all over the place. I even think I had some notion of growing
four-dollar orchids on the pear trees. The idea of putting in things
that would really grow was entirely hers."
"I like the idea of planting the old-fashioned, hardy things," said the
Doctor. "They're the best, after all. Asters and foxgloves and deutzia
and snowballs and all the rest of them."
"And phlox," said Wade. "They told us we were planting too late, but the
phlox has buds on it already. Come and see it."
So they trooped down the new gray steps and strolled around the garden,
Wade exhibiting proudly and miscalling everything, and Miss Mullett
gently correcting him.
Their travels took them around the house and finally to the gate in the
hedge, over the arch of which Miss Mullett was coaxing climbing roses.
When they turned back Eve and the Doctor walked ahead.
"Eve told me once such a quaint thing about that gate," said Miss
Mullett. "It seems that when she was a little girl and used to play in
the garden over there, she imagined all sorts of queer things, as
children will. And one of them was that some day a beautiful prince
would come through the gate in the hedge and fall on his knee and ask
her to marry him. Such a quaint idea for a child to have, wasn't it?"
"Yes," answered Wade thoughtfully. There was silence for a moment, and
then he glanced down and met Miss Mullett's gaze. He laughed ruefully.
"Do you think I look much like a prince?" he asked.
"Do looks matter," she said, gently, "if you _are_ the prince?"
"Perhaps not, but--I'm afraid I'm not."
Thereupon Miss Mullett did a most unmaidenly thing. She found Wade's
hand and pressed it with her cool, slim fingers.
"If I were a prince," she replied, "I'd be afraid of nothing."
There was just time to return the pressure of her hand and give a
grateful look into the kindly face, and then they were back with the
others on the porch.
That dinner was an immense success from every standpoint, Mrs. Prout
cooked like _cordon bleu_, Zephania, all starch and frills and
excitement, served like a--but no, she didn't; she served in a manner
quite her own, bringing on the oysters with a whispered aside to Wade
that she had "most forgot the ice," introducing the chicken with a
triumphant laugh, and standing off to observe the effect it made before
returning to the kitchen for the new potatoes, late asparagus, and
string-beans, so tiny that Mrs. Prout declared it was a sin and a shame
to pick them. There was a salad of lettuce and tomatoes, and the Doctor,
with grave mien, prepared the dressing, tasting it at every stage and
uttering congratulatory "Ha's!" And there were plenty of strawberries
and much cake--Zephania's very best maple-layer--and ice-cream from
Manchester, a trifle soft, but, as Eve maintained, all the better when
you put it over the berries. And--breathe it softly lest Eden Village
hear--there was champagne! Eve and Miss Mullett treated it with vast
respect, but the Doctor met it metaphorically with open arms, as one
welcomes an old friend, and, under its gentle influence, tossed aside
twenty years and made decorous, but desperate, love to Miss Mullett. And
then, to continue the pleasant formality of the occasion, the ladies
withdrew to the parlor, and Wade and the Doctor smoked two very stout
and very black cigars and sipped two tiny glasses of brandy.
In the parlor Miss Mullett turned to Eve in excited trepidation. "My
dear," she asked, in a thrilling whisper, "_do_ you think I took too
much champagne? My cheeks are positively burning!"
"I don't know," laughed Eve, "but the color is very becoming, dear."
"But I shouldn't want Mr. Herrick to think--"
"He won't," replied Eve, soothingly. "No matter how intoxicated you got,
I'm sure he is too much of a gentleman to think any such thing."
"Any such thing as what?"
"Why, what you said."
"But I hadn't said!" declared Miss Mullett, sinking tragically onto the
couch. Whereupon Eve laughed, and Miss Mullett declared that rather than
have the gentleman think her the least bit--well--the very least bit,
you understand!--she would go right home. And Eve was forced to assure
her with serious face that she wasn't the least bit, and wasn't in any
danger of becoming so. Miss Mullett was comforted and Eve, who had been
standing by the marble-topped table, idly opened a book lying there. It
wasn't a very interesting volume, from her point of view, being a work
on metallurgy. She turned to the front and found Wade's name written on
the fly-leaf, and was about to lay it down when she caught sight of a
piece of paper marking a place. With no thought of prying, she opened
the book again. The paper proved to be an empty envelope addressed to
Wade in typewritten characters. In the upper left-hand corner was an
inscription that interested her: "After five days return to The Evelyn
Mining Co., Craig's Camp, Colo."
She studied the words for a long minute. Then she smiled and closed the
book again. Oddly enough, both she and Wade had discovered each other's
secrets that evening.
When the men joined them the Doctor suggested whist. Wade protested his
stupidity, but was overruled and assigned to Miss Mullett as partner.
"If you played like John Hobb," declared the Doctor, "you'd win with
Miss Mullett for partner."
Eve and Wade desired to know who John Hobb was, and the Doctor was
forced to acknowledge him a quite mythical character, whose name in that
part of the world stood proverbially for incompetence. After that when
any of the four made a mistake he or she was promptly dubbed John Hobb.
For once the unwritten law was unobserved, and it was long past ten when
the party broke up, Eve and the Doctor having captured the best of a
series of rubbers. After they had gone Wade put out the downstair lights
and returned to the side porch, where, with his pipe flaring fitfully in
the moonlit darkness, he lived over in thought the entire evening and
conjured up all sorts of pictures of Eve. When he finally went to bed
his last waking sensation was one of gratitude toward Miss Mullett for
the words she had spoken in the garden.
The next morning Eve was out under the cedars when the Doctor came
marching down the street, carrying his bag and swinging his cane, his
lips moving a little with the thoughts that came to him. Opposite Eve's
retreat he stood on tiptoes and smiled across the hedge, unseen. She
made a pretty picture there over her book, her brown hair holding
golden-bronze glints where the sun kissed it, and her smooth cheek
warmly pallid in the shade.
"'Old as I am, for ladies' love unfit,
The power of beauty I remember yet,'"
quoted the Doctor. "Good morning, fair Eve of Eden. And how do you find
yourself to-day? For my part I am haunted by a gentle, yet insistent,
regret." The Doctor placed a hand over his heavy gold watch-chain. "It
"Better there than here," laughed Eve, touching her forehead.
The Doctor pretended affront. "Do you mean to insinuate, young lady,
that I drank too much of the wine last night? Ha! I deny it;
emphatically I deny it. Besides, one couldn't drink too much of such
wine as that! To prove how steady my hand and brain are, I'll come in a
moment and talk with you."
The Doctor entered through the gate and advanced toward Eve, who with
anxious solicitude cautioned him against colliding with the trees or
walking over the flower-beds. Things had changed in the cedars' shade,
and now there were three rustic chairs and an ancient iron table there.
The Doctor sat himself straightly in one of the chairs and glared at
"Now what have you to say?" he demanded.
"That you conceal it beautifully," she replied, earnestly.
"Madam, I have nothing to conceal."
"Oh, well, if you persist! Where are you off to this morning?"
"Is she ill?"
"Probably not. I think myself she's too old to ever be really ill any
more. At ninety-eight the body is too well seasoned to admit disease.
She will just run peacefully down like a clock some day."
"Does she still smoke her pipe, Doctor?"
[Illustration: "NOW WHAT HAVE YOU TO SAY?" HE DEMANDED]
"All day long, I think. I remonstrated with her once ten or fifteen
years ago when she had a touch of pleurisy. 'Mrs. Turner,' I said, 'if
you persist in smoking, you'll injure your health and die young.' She
was then eighty-something. 'Doctor,' said she, with a twinkle in those
bright little eyes of hers, 'I'll live to be a hundred, and that's
more than you'll do.' And, bless me, I think she will! To-day she
sent word for me to 'look in.' That means that she needs gossip and not
medicine. Well, I'm glad to go. It always does me good to talk with
Mother Turner. She's the best lesson in contentment I know. She's buried
two husbands, seven children, and the dear Lord only knows how many
grandchildren, she lives on charity and hasn't a soul near her she can
claim relationship to, and she's as cheerful as that oriole up there,
and almost as bright. The pathetic part of it is that she can't read any
more, although she puts on her spectacles and pretends that she can.
Three years ago she confided to me that her eye-sight was 'failing a
bit.' She's not blind yet, by any means, but print's beyond her. And so
when I see her she always gets me to read to her a little, explaining
that her eyes 'be a bit watery this morning.' Sometimes it's the Bible,
but more often it's a newspaper that some one has left. Just now her
hobby is airships. She can't hear enough about airships." The Doctor
chuckled. "She's been on a train but once in her life, she tells me,
and that was thirty years ago."
"I don't want to live that long," said Eve thoughtfully. "I don't want
to live after every one I've cared for has gone."
"So you think now," replied the Doctor, with a faint shrug of his
shoulders, "but wait till you are old. I've seen many snuffed out, my
dear, but there's only one or two I recall who went willingly. The love
of life is a strong passion. Bless my soul, what's that?"
The Doctor turned toward the lilac hedge and the neighboring cottage,
listening. Eve laughed, merrily.
"Why, that's Zephania," she said.
"'We shall sleep, but not forever,
There will be a glorious dawn!
We shall meet to part, no, never,
On the resurrection morn!'"
sang Zephania, in her piping voice. The Doctor smiled. Then he nodded
sideways in the direction of the voice.
"Have you seen our host this morning?" he asked.
"No," said Eve.
"I wonder," he chuckled, "if I hadn't better go over and administer a
bromide. These fashionable dinner-parties--" He shook his head
"I don't believe he's that bad," responded Eve. "I wish you'd tell me
what you think of him, Doctor."
"Mr. Herrick? Well, aside from his intemperance--"
"No, I'm in earnest, please. Afterwards I'll tell you why I
"I think him a very nice young man, Miss Eve, don't you?"
"I wouldn't call him strictly handsome; he doesn't remind me of the
copper-engraved pictures of Lord Byron, who, when I was a lad, was
considered the standard of masculine beauty, but he looks like a man,
which is something that Byron didn't, to my thinking."
"But do you--do you think he's sincere?"
"Lord, bless me, yes! I'd stake my word on his being that if nothing
"Even if he is a mining man?" asked Eve, with a smile.
"H'm, well, I guess there are honest mining men as well as honest