Part 3 out of 6
They were lifting the box into the baggage-car. The boy saw it. He
straightened himself in the manner of one who tries to endure a
"She's gone," he said. He looked at his mother once, as if measuring her
value to him. Then he turned away. There was no comfort for him there.
Often, since, Kate had wondered concerning the child. She had imagined
his grim home, his barren days; the plain food; the compulsory task; the
kind, yet heavy-handed, coarse-voiced mother. She was convinced that the
grandmother had been different. In the corner where she had sat, there
must have been warmth and welcome for the child. Perhaps there were
mellow old tales, sweet old songs, soft strokings of the head, smuggled
sweets--all the beautiful grandmotherly delights.
Since Kate had begun to write, a hundred--a thousand--half-forgotten
experiences had come back to her. As they returned to her memory, they
acquired significance. They related themselves with other incidents or
with opinions. They illustrated life, and however negligible in
themselves, they attained a value because of their relation to
It was seldom that she felt lonely now. Her newly acquired power of
self-expression seemed to extend and supplement her personality. August
von Shierbrand had said that he wished to marry her because she
completed him. It had occurred to her at the time--though she suppressed
her inclination to say so--that she was born for other purposes than
completing him, or indeed anybody. She wished to think of herself as an
individual, not as an addendum. But, after all, she had sympathized with
the man. She was beginning to understand that that "solitude of the
soul," which one of her acquaintances, a sculptor, had put into
passionate marble, was caused from that sense of incompletion. It was
not alone that others failed one--it was self-failure, secret shame, all
the inevitable reticences, which contributed most to that.
She fell into the way of examining the men and women about her and of
"Is he satisfied? Is she companioned? Has this one realized himself? Is
that one really living?"
She remembered one person--one only--who had given her the impression of
abounding physical, mental, and spiritual life. True, she had seen him
but a moment--one swift, absurd, curiously haunting moment. That was
Karl Wander, Honora's cousin, and the cousin of Mary Morrison. They were
the children of three sisters, and from what Kate knew of their
descendants' natures, she felt these sisters must have been palpitating
Yes, Karl Wander had seemed complete--a happy man, seething with plans,
a wise man who took life as it came; a man of local qualities yet of
cosmopolitan spirit--one who would not have fretted at his environment
or counted it of much consequence, whatever it might have been.
If she could have known him--
But Honora seldom spoke of him. Only sometimes she read a brief note
from him, and added:--
"He wishes to be remembered to you, Kate."
She did not hint: "He saw you only a second." Honora was not one of
those persons who take pleasure in pricking bubbles. She perceived the
beauty of iridescence. If her odd friend and her inexplicable cousin had
any satisfaction in remembering a passing encounter, they could have
their pleasure of it.
Kate, for her part, would not have confessed that she thought of him.
But, curiously, she sometimes dreamed of him.
At last Ray McCrea was coming home. His frequent letters, full of good
comment, announced the fact.
"I've been winning my spurs, commercially speaking," he wrote. "The old
department heads, whom my father taught me to respect, seem pleased with
what I have done. I believe that when I come back they will have ceased
to look on me as a cadet. And if they think I'm fit for
responsibilities, perhaps you will think so, too, Kate. At any rate, I
know you'll let me say that I am horribly homesick. This being in a
foreign land is all very well, but give me the good old American ways,
crude though they may be. I want a straightforward confab with some one
of my own sort; I want the feeling that I can move around without
treading on somebody's toes. I want, above all, to have a comfortable
entertaining evening with a nice American girl--a girl that takes
herself and me for granted, and isn't shying off all the time as if I
were a sort of bandit. What a relief to think that you'll not be
accompanied by a chaperon! I shall get back my self-respect once I'm
home again with you nice, self-confident young American women."
"It will be good to see him, I believe," mused Kate. "After all, he
always looked after me. I can't seem to remember just how much pleasure
I had in his society. At any rate, we'll have plenty of things to talk
about. He'll tell me about Europe, and I'll tell him about my work. That
ought to carry us along quite a while."
She set about making preparations for him. She induced Honora to let
her have an extra room, and she made her fine front chamber into a
sitting-room, with a knocker on the door, and some cheerful brasses and
old prints within. She came across oddities of this sort in her Russian
and Italian neighborhoods, but until now she had not taken very much
interest in what she was inclined to term "sublimated junk."
Mary Morrison took an almost vicious amusement in Kate's sudden efforts
at aesthetic domestication, and Marna Fitzgerald--who was
delighted--considered it as a frank confession of sentiment. Kate let
them think what they pleased. She presented to their inspection--even
Mary was invited up for the occasion--a cheerful room with a cream
paper, a tawny-colored rug, some comfortable wicker chairs, an
interesting plaster cast or two, and the previously mentioned "loot."
Mary, in a fit of friendliness, contributed a Japanese wall-basket
dripping with vines; Honora proffered a lamp with a soft shade; and
Marna took pride in bestowing some delicately embroidered cushions,
white, and beautiful with the beauty of Belfast linen.
It did not appear to occur to Kate, however, that personal adornment
would be desirable, and it took the united efforts of Marna and Mary to
persuade her that a new frock or two might be needed. Kate had a way of
avoiding shabbiness, but of late her interest in decoration had been
anything but keen. However, she ventured now on a rather beguiling
dress for evening--a Japanese crepe which a returned missionary sold her
for something more than a song. Dr. von Shierbrand said it was the color
of rust, but Marna affirmed that it had the hue of copper--copper that
was not too bright. It was embroidered gloriously with chrysanthemums,
and she had great pleasure in it. Mary Morrison drew from her rainbow
collection a scarf which accentuated the charm of the frock, and when
Kate had contrived a monk's cape of brown, she was ready for possible
entertainments--panoplied for sentiment. She would make no further
concessions. Her practical street clothes and her home-made frocks of
white linen, with which she made herself dainty for dinner at Mrs.
Dennison's, had to serve her.
"I'm so poor," she said to Marna, "that I feel like apologizing for my
inefficiency. I'm getting something now for my talks at the clubs, and
I'm paid for my writing, too. Now that it's begun to be published, I
ought to be opulent presently."
"You're no poorer than we," Marna said. "But of course there are two of
us to be poor together; and that makes it more interesting."
"Love doesn't seem to be flying out of your window," smiled Kate.
"We've bars on the windows," laughed Marna. "Some former occupant of the
flat put them on to keep the babies from dashing their brains out on the
pavement below, and we haven't taken them off." She blushed. "No,"
responded Kate with a _moue_; "what was the use?"
* * * * *
Unfortunately McCrea, the much-expected, had not made it quite plain
when he was to land in New York. To be sure, Kate might have consulted
the steamer arrivals, but she forgot to do that. So it happened that
when a wire came from Ray saying that he would be in Chicago on a
certain Saturday night in mid-May, Kate found herself under compulsion
to march in a suffrage procession.
David Fulham thought the circumstance uproariously funny, and he told
them about it at the Caravansary. They made rather an annoying jest of
it, but Kate held to her promise.
"It's an historic event to my mind," she said with all the dignity she
could summon. "I wouldn't excuse myself if I could. And I can't. I've
promised to march at the head of a division. We hope there'll be twenty
thousand of us."
Perhaps there were. Nobody knew. But all the city did know that down the
broad boulevard, in the mild, damp air of the May night, regiment upon
regiment of women marched to bear witness to their conviction and their
hope. Bands played, choruses sang, transparencies proclaimed watchwords,
and every woman in the seemingly endless procession swung a yellow
lantern. The onlookers crowded the sidewalks and hung from the towering
office buildings, to watch that string of glowing amber beads reaching
away to north and to south. College girls, working-girls, home-women,
fine ladies, efficient business women, vague, non-producing,
half-awakened women,--all sorts, all conditions, black, white, Latin,
Slav, Germanic, English, American, American, American,--they came
marching on. They were proud and they were diffident; they were sad and
they were merry; they were faltering and they were enthusiastic. Some
were there freely, splendidly, exultantly; more were there because some
force greater than themselves impelled them. Through bewilderment and
hesitancy and doubt, they saw the lights of the future shining, and they
fixed their eyes upon the amber lanterns as upon the visible symbols of
their faith; they marched and marched. They were the members of a new
revolution, and, as always, only a portion of the revolutionists knew
completely what they desired.
At the Caravansary there had been sharp disapproval of the whole thing.
The men had brought forth arguments to show Kate her folly. Mrs.
Dennison, Mrs. Goodrich, and Mrs. Applegate had spoken gentle words of
warning; Honora had vaguely suggested that the matter was immaterial;
Mary Morrison had smiled as one who avoided ugliness; and Kate had
laughingly defied them.
"I march!" she had declared. "And I'm not ashamed of my company."
It was, indeed, a company of which she was proud. It included the names
of the most distinguished, the most useful, the most talented, the most
exclusive, and the most triumphantly inclusive women in the city.
"Poor McCrea," put in Fulham. "Aren't you making him ridiculous? He'll
come dashing up here the moment he gets off the train. As a matter of
fact, he'll be half expecting you to meet him. You're making a mistake,
Miss Barrington, if you'll let a well-meaning fellow-being say so.
You're leaving the substance for the shadow."
"I've misled you about Ray, I'm afraid," Kate said with unexpected
patience. "He hasn't really any right to expect me to be waiting, and I
don't believe he will. Come to think of it, I don't know that I want to
be found waiting."
"Oh, well, of course--" said Fulham with a shrug, leaving his sentence
"Anyway," said Kate flushing, "I march!"
* * * * *
They told her afterward how McCrea had come toof-toofing up to the door
in a taxi, and how he had taken the steps two at a time.
"He wrung my hand," said Honora, "and got through the preliminary
amenities with a dispatch I never have seen excelled. Then he demanded
you. 'Is she upstairs?' he asked. 'May I go right up? She wrote me she
had a parlor of her own.' 'She has a parlor,' I said, 'but she isn't in
it.' He balanced on the end of a toe. 'Where is she?' I thought he was
going to fly. 'She's out with the suffragists,' I said. I didn't try to
excuse you. I thought you deserved something pretty bad. But I did tell
him you'd promised to go and that you hadn't known he was coming that
day. 'She's in that mess?' he cried. 'I saw the Amazon march as I came
along. You don't mean Kate's tramping the streets with those women!'
'Yes, she is,' I said, 'and she's proud to do it. But she was sorry not
to be here to welcome you.' 'Sorry!' he said; 'why, Mrs. Fulham, I've
been dreaming of this meeting for months.' Honestly, Kate, I was ashamed
for you. I asked him in. I told him you'd be home before long. But he
would not come in. 'Tell her I--I came,' he said. Then he went."
It was late at night, and Kate was both worn and exhilarated with her
marching. Honora's words let her down considerably. She sat with tears
in her eyes staring at her friend.
"But couldn't he see," she pleaded, "that I had to keep my word? Didn't
he understand how important it was? I can see him to-morrow just
"Then you'll have to send for him," said Honora decisively. "He'll not
come without urging."
She went up to bed with a stern aspect, and left Kate sitting staring
before her by the light of one of Mary's foolish candles.
"They seem to think I'm a very unnatural woman," said Kate to herself.
"But can't they see how much more important it was that the
demonstration should be a success than that two lovers should meet at a
The word "lovers" had slipped inadvertently into her mind; and no
sooner had she really recognized it, looked at it, so to speak, fairly
in the face, than she rejected it with scorn.
"We're just friends," she protested. "One has many friends."
But her little drawing-room, all gay and fresh, accused her of deceiving
herself; and a glimpse of the embroidered frock reminded her that she
was contemptibly shirking the truth. One did not make such preparations
for a mere "friend." She sat down and wrote a note, put stamps on it to
insure its immediate delivery, and ran out to the corner to mail it.
Then she fell asleep arguing with herself that she had been right, and
that he ought to understand what it meant to give one's word, and that
it could make no difference that they were to meet a few hours later
instead of at the impetuous moment of his arrival.
* * * * *
She spent the next day at the Juvenile Court, and came home with the
conviction that there ought to be no more children until all those now
wandering the hard ways of the world were cared for. She was in no mood
for sweethearting, yet she looked with some covert anxiety at the
mail-box. There was an envelope addressed to her, but the superscription
was not in Ray's handwriting. The Colorado stamp gave her a hint of whom
it might have come from, and ridiculously she felt her heart quickening.
Yet why should Karl Wander write to her? She made herself walk slowly
up the stairs, and insisted that her hat and gloves and jacket should be
put scrupulously in their places before she opened her letter. It proved
not to be a letter, after all, but only a number of photographs, taken
evidently by the sender, who gave no word of himself. He let the
snow-capped solitary peaks utter his meanings for him. The pictures were
beautiful and, in some indescribable way, sad--cold and isolate. Kate
ran her fingers into the envelope again and again, but she could
discover no note there. Neither was there any name, save her own on
"At least," said Kate testily, "I might have been told whom to thank."
But she knew whom to thank--and she knew with equal positiveness that
she would send no thanks. For the gift had been a challenge. It seemed
to say: "I dare you to open communication with me. I dare you to break
the conscious silence between us!"
Kate did not lift the glove that had been thrown down. She hid the
photographs in her clock and told no one about them.
At the close of the third day a note came from Ray. Her line, he said,
had followed him to Lake Forest and he had only then found time to
answer it. He was seeing old friends and was very much occupied with
business and with pleasure, but he hoped to see her before long. Kate
laughed aloud at the rebuff. It was, she thought, a sort of Silvertree
method of putting her in her place. But she was sorry, too,--sorry for
his hurt; sorry, indefinitely and indescribably, for something missed.
If it had been Karl Wander whom she had treated like that he would have
waited on her doorstep till she came, and if he had felt himself
entitled to a quarrel, he would have "had it out" before men and the
At least, so she imagined he would have done; but upon consideration
there were few persons in the world about whom she knew less than about
Karl Wander. It seemed as if Honora were actually perverse in the way
she avoided his name.
The spring was coming. Signs of it showed at the park edges, where the
high willow hedges began to give forth shoots of yellowish-green; at
times the lake was opalescent and the sky had moments of tenderness and
warmth. Even through the pavement one seemed to scent the earth; and the
flower shops set up their out-of-door booths and solicited the passer-by
When Kate could spare the money, she bought flowers for Marna--for it
was flower-time with Marna, and she had seen the Angel of the
Annunciation. All that was Celtic in her was coming uppermost. She
dreamed and brooded and heard voices. Kate liked to sit in the little
West-Side flat and be comforted of the happiness there. She was feeling
very absurd herself, and she was ashamed of her excursion into the
realms of feminine folly. That was the way she put her defection from
"common sense," and her little flare of sentiment for Ray, and all her
breathless, ridiculous preparation for him. She had never worn the
chrysanthemum dress, and she so loathed the sight of it that she boxed
it and put it in the bottom of her trunk.
No word came from Ray. "Sometime" had not materialized and he had failed
to call. His name was much in the papers as "best man" or cotillion
leader or host at club dinners. He moved in a world of which Kate saw
nothing--a rather competitive world, where money counted and where there
was a brisk exchange of social amenities. Kate's festivities consisted
of settlement dinners and tea here and there, at odd, interesting places
with fellow "welfare workers"; and now and then she went with Honora to
some University affair. A great many ladies sent her cards to their
"afternoons"--ladies whom she met at the home of the President of the
University, or with whom she came in contact at Hull House or some of
the other settlements. But such diversions she was obliged to deny
herself. They would have taken time from her too-busy hours; and she had
not the strength to do her work according to her conscience, and then to
drag herself halfway across town, merely for the amiability of making
her bow and eating an ice in a charming house. Not but that she enjoyed
the atmosphere of luxury--the elusive sense of opulence given her by the
flowers, the distant music, the smiling, luxurious, complimentary women,
the contrast between the glow within and the chill of twilight
without--twilight sparkling with the lights of the waiting motors, and
the glittering procession on the Drive. But, after all, while others
rode, she walked, and sometimes she was very weary. To be sure, she was
too gallant, too much at ease in her entertaining world, too expectant
of the future, to fret even for a moment about the fact that she was
walking while others rode. She hardly gave it a thought. But her
disadvantages made her unable to cope with other women socially. She
was, as she often said, fond of playing a game; but the social game
pushed the point of achievement a trifle too far.
Moreover, there was the mere bother of "dressing the part." Her handsome
heavy shoes, her strong, fashionable street gloves, her well-cared-for
street frock, and becoming, practical hat she could obtain and maintain
in freshness. She was "well-groomed" and made a sort of point of looking
competent, as if she felt mistress of herself and her circumstances; she
could even make herself dainty for a little dinner, but the silks and
furs, the prodigality of yard-long gloves, the fetching boots and
whimsical jewels of the ladies who made a fine art of feminine
entertainments, were quite beyond her. So, sensibly, she counted it
That Ray was at home in such surroundings, and that, had she been
willing to give him the welcome he expected, she might have had a
welcome at these as yet unopened doors through which he passed with
conscious suavity, sometimes occurred to her. She was but human--and but
woman--and she could not be completely oblivious to such things. But
they did not, after all, wear a very alluring aspect.
When she dreamed of being happy, as she often did, it was not amid such
scenes. Sometimes, when she was half-sleeping, and vague visions of joy
haunted the farther chambers of her brain, she saw herself walking
among mountains. The setting sun glittered on distant, splendid snows;
the torrent rushed by her, filling the world with its clamor; beneath
lay the valley, and through the gathering gloom she could see the light
of homes. Then, as sleep drew nearer and the actual world slipped
farther away, she seemed to be treading the path--homeward--with some
companion. Which of those lights spelled home for her she did not know,
and whenever she tried to see the face of her companion, the shadows
grew deeper,--as deep as oblivion,--and she slept.
She was lonely. She felt she had missed much in missing Ray. She knew
her friends disapproved of her; and she was profoundly ashamed that they
should have seen her in that light, expectant hour in which she awaited
this lover who appeared to be no lover, after all. But she deserved her
humiliation. She had conducted herself like the expectant bride, and she
had no right to any such attitude because her feelings were not those
of a bride.
The thing that she did desperately care about just now was the
fitting-up of a home for mothers and babes in the Wisconsin woods. It
was to be a place where the young Polish mothers of a part of her
district could go and forget the belching horror of the steel mills, and
the sultry nights in the crowded, vermin-haunted homes. She hoped for
much from it--much more than the physical recuperation, though that was
not to be belittled. There was some hitch, at the last, about the
endowment. A benevolent spinster had promised to remember the
prospective home in her will and neglected to do so and now there were
several thousands to be collected from some unknown source. Kate was
absorbed with that when she was not engaged with her regular work.
Moreover, she made a point of being absorbed. She could not endure the
thought that she might be going about with a love-lorn, he-cometh-not
* * * * *
Life has a way of ambling withal for a certain time, and then of
breaking into a headlong gallop--bolting free--plunging to catastrophe
or liberty. Kate went her busy ways for a fortnight, somewhat chastened
in spirit, secretly a little ashamed, and altogether very determined to
make such a useful person of herself that she could forget her apparent
lack of attractions (for she told herself mercilessly that if she had
been very much desired by Ray he would not have been able to leave her
upon so slight a provocation). Then, one day,--it was the last day of
May and the world had rejuvenated itself,--she came across him.
A more unlikely place hardly could have been chosen for their meeting
than an "isle of safety" in mid-street, with motors hissing and
toof-toofing round about, policemen gesticulating, and the crowd
ceaselessly surging. The two were marooned with twenty others, and met
face to face, squarely, like foes who set themselves to combat. At first
he tried not to see her, and she, noting his impulse, thought it would
be the part of propriety not to see him. Then that struck her as so
futile, so childish, so altogether a libel on the good-fellowship which
they had enjoyed in the old days, that she held out her hand.
He swept his hat from his head and grasped the extended hand in a
violent yet tremulous clutch.
"We seem to be going in opposite directions," she said. There was just a
hint of a rising inflection in the accent.
He laughed with nervous delight.
"We are going the same way," he declared. "That's a well-established
An irritable policeman broke in on them with:--
"Do you people want to get across the street or not?"
"Personally," said McCrea, smiling at him, "I'm not particular."
The policeman was Irish and he liked lovers. He thought he was looking
at a pair of them.
"Well, it's not the place I'd be choosing for conversation, sir," he
"Right you are," agreed Ray. "I suppose you'd prefer a lane in
"Yes, sir. Good luck to you, sir."
"Same to you," called back Ray.
He and Kate swung into the procession on the boulevard. Kate was smiling
"You haven't changed a bit!" she cried. "You keep right on enjoying
yourself, don't you?"
"Not a bit of it," retorted Ray indignantly. "I've been miserable! You
know I have. The only satisfaction I got at all was in hoping I was
making you miserable, too. Was I?"
"I wouldn't own to it if you had," said Kate. "Shall we forgive each
"Do you want it to be as easy as that--after all we've been through?
Wouldn't it be more satisfactory to quarrel?"
"You can if you want, of course," Kate laughed. "But hadn't it better be
with some other person? Really, I wanted to see you dreadfully--or, at
least, I wanted to see you pleasantly. I had made preparations. You
didn't let me know when to expect you, and I had an engagement when you
did come. Weren't you foolish to get in a rage?"
"But I was so frightfully disappointed. I expected so much and I had
expected it so long."
"Ray!" Her voice was almost stern, and he turned to look at her half
with amusement, half with apprehension. "Expect nothing. Enjoy
"But how can I enjoy myself to-day unless I am made to understand that
there is something I may expect from you? Circumstances have kept us
playing fast and loose long enough. Can't we come to an
Kate stopped to look in a florist's window and fixed her eyes upon a
vast bouquet of pale pink roses.
"Do say something," he said after a time. "Shall I speak from the
"Oh, yes, please." He drew his breath in sharply between his teeth.
"Well, then, I'm not ready to give up my free life, Ray. I can't seem to
see my way to relinquishing any part of my liberty. I think you know
why. I've told you everything in my letters. I feel too experimental to
"You don't love me!"
"Did I ever say I did?"
"You gave me to understand that you might."
"You wanted me to try."
"But you haven't succeeded? Then, for heaven's sake, let me go and make
out some other programme for myself. I've come back to you because I
couldn't be satisfied away from you. I've seen women, if it comes to
that,--cities of women. But there's no one like you, Kate, to my mind;
no one who so makes me enjoy the hour, or so plan for the future. Ever
since that day when you stood up by the C Bench and fought for the right
of women to sit on it,--that silly old C Bench,--I've liked your warring
spirit. And I come back, by Jove, to find you marching with the militant
women! Well, I didn't know whether to laugh or swear! Anyway, you do
beat the world."
"A pretty sweetheart I'd make," cried Kate, disgusted with herself. "I'm
only good to provide you with amusement, it seems."
"You provide me with the breath of life! Heavens, what a spring you
have when you walk! And you 're as straight as a grenadier. I'm so sick
of seeing slouching, die-away women! It's only you American women who
know how to carry yourselves. Oh, Kate, if you can't answer me, don't,
but let me see you once in a while. I'm a weak character, and I've got
to enjoy your society a little longer."
"You can enjoy as much of it as you please, only you mustn't be holding
me up to some tremendous responsibility, and blaming me by and by for
things I can't help."
"I give you my word I'll not. Oh, Kate, is this a busy day with you?
Can't you come out into the country somewhere? We could take the
electric and in an hour we'd be out where we could see orchards
"I _could_ go," mused Kate. "I've a half-holiday coming to me, and
really, if I were to take it to-day, no one would care."
"The ayes have it! Let us go to the station-I'll buy plenty of tickets
and we can get off at any place where the climate seems mild and the
* * * * *
It proved to be a day of encounters.
They had traveled well beyond the city, past the straggling suburbs and
the comfortable, friendly old villages, some of which antedated the city
of which they were now the fringe, and had reached the wider sweeps of
the prairie, with the fine country homes of those who sought privacy.
At length they came to a junction of the road.
"All out here for--"
They could not catch the name.
"Isn't that where we're going?" laughed Kate.
"Of course it is," Ray responded.
They hastened out and looked about them for the train they had supposed
would be in waiting. It was not yet in, however, but was showing its
dark nose a mile or two down the track.
"I must see about our tickets," said Ray. "Perhaps we'll have to buy
Kate had been standing with her back to the ticket station window, but
now she turned, and through the ticker-seller's window envisaged the
pale, bitterly sullen face of Lena Vroom. It looked sunken and curiously
alien, as if its possessor felt herself unfriended of all the world.
"Lena!" cried Kate, too startled to use tact or to wait for Lena to give
the first sign of recognition.
Lena nodded coolly.
"Oh, is this where you are?" cried Kate. "We've looked everywhere for
"If I'd wanted to be found, I could have been, you know." The tone was
muffled and pitifully insolent.
"You are living out here?"
"I live a few miles from here."
"And you like the work? Is it--is it well with you, Lena?"
"It will never be well with me, and you know it. I broke down, that's
all. I can't stand anything now that takes thought. This just suits
me--a little mechanical work like this. I'm not fit to talk, Kate.
You'll have to excuse me. It upsets me. I'm ordered to keep very quiet.
If I get upset, I'll not be fit even for this."
"I'll go," said Kate contritely. "And I'll tell no one." She battled to
keep the tears from her eyes. "Only tell me, need you work at all? I
thought you had enough to get along on, Lena. You often told me
so--forgive me, but we've _been_ close friends, you know, even if we
"My money's gone," said Lena in a dead voice. "I used up my principal.
It wasn't much. I'm in debt, too, and I've got to get that paid off. But
I've a comfortable place to live, Kate, with a good motherly German
woman. I tell you for your peace of mind, because I know you--you always
think you have to be affectionate and to care about what people are
doing. But you'll serve me best by leaving me alone. Understand?"
"Oh, Lena, yes! I'll not come near you, but I can't help thinking about
you. And I beg and pray you to write me if you need me at any time."
"I can't talk about anything any more. It tires me. There's your train."
Ray bought his tickets to nowhere in particular. The little train came
on like a shuttle through the blue loom of the air; they got on, and
were shot forward through bright green fields, past expectant groves
and flowering orchards, cheered by the elate singing of
Ray had recognized Lena, but Kate refused to discuss her.
"Life has hurt her," she said, "and she's in hiding like a wounded
animal. I couldn't talk about her. I--I love her. It's like that with
me. Once I've loved a person, I can't get it out of my system."
She was staring from the window, trying to get back her happiness. Ray
snatched her hand and held it in a crushing grip.
"For God's sake, Kate, try to love me, then!" he whispered.
It was spring all about them,--"the pretty ring-time,"--and she had just
seen what it was to be a defeated and unloved woman. She felt a thrill
go through her, and she turned an indiscreetly bright face upon her
"Don't expect too much," she whispered back, "but I _will_ try."
They went on, almost with the feeling that they were in Arcadia, and
drew up at a platform in the midst of woods, through which they could
see a crooked trail winding.
"Here's our place!" cried Ray. "Don't you recognize it? Not that you've
ever seen it before."
They dashed, laughing, from the train, and found themselves a minute
later in a bird-haunted solitude, among flowers, at the beginning of the
woodland walk. There seemed to be no need to comment upon the beauty of
things. It was quite enough that the bland, caressing air beat upon
their cheeks in playful gusts, that the robins gave no heed to them, and
that "the little gray leaves were kind" to them.
Never was there a more capricious trail than the one they set themselves
to follow. It skirted the edge of a little morass where the young flags
were coming up; it followed the windings of a brook where the wild
forget-me-not threw up its little azure buds; it crossed the stream a
dozen times by means of shaking bridges, or fallen trees; it had
magnificent gateways between twin oaks--gateways to yet pleasanter
reaches of leaving woodland.
"Whatever can it lead to?" wondered Kate.
"To some new kind of Paradise, perhaps," answered Ray. "And see, some
one has been before us! Hush--"
He drew her back into the bushes at the side, beneath a low-hanging
willow. A man and a woman were coming toward them. The woman was walking
first, treading proudly, her head thrown back, her body in splendid
motion, like that of an advancing Victory. The man, taller than she, was
resting one hand upon her shoulder. He, too, looked like one who had
mastered the elements and who felt the pangs of translation into some
more ethereal and liberating world. As they came on, proud as Adam and
Eve in the first days of their existence, Kate had a blinding
recognition of them. They were David Fulham and Mary Morrison.
She looked once, saw their faces shining with pagan joy, and, turning
her gaze from them, sank on the earth behind the screen of bushes. Ray
perceived her desire to remain unseen, and stepped behind the
wide-girthed oak. The two passed them, still treading that proud step.
When they were gone, Kate arose and led the way on along the path. She
wished to turn back, but she dared not, fearing to meet the others on
the station platform. Ray had recognized Fulham, but he did not know his
companion, and Kate would not tell him.
"What a fool!" he said. "I thought he loved his wife. She's a fine
"He loves his wife," affirmed Kate stalwartly. "But there's a hedonistic
fervor in him. He's--"
"He's a fool!" reaffirmed Ray. "Shall we talk of something else?"
"By all means," agreed Kate.
They tried, but the glory of the day was slain. They had seen the
serpent in their Eden--and where there is one reptile there may always
When they thought it discreet, they went back to the junction. Lena
Vroom was still there. She was nibbling at some dry-looking sandwiches.
Her glance forbade them to say anything personal to her, and Kate, with
a clutch at the heart, passed her by as if she had been any
She wondered if any one, seeing that gray-faced, heavy-eyed woman, would
dream of her so dearly won Ph.D. or of the Phi Beta Kappa key which she
had won but not claimed! She had not even dared to converse, lest Lena's
fragile self-possession should break. She evidently was in the clutches
of nervous fatigue and was fighting it with her last remnant of courage.
Even the veriest layman could guess as much.
Kate hastened home, and as she opened the door she heard the voice of
Honora mingled with the happy cries of the twins. They were down in the
drawing-room, and Honora had bought some colored balloons for them, and
was running to and fro with them in her hand, while Patience and
Patricia shrieked with delight.
"What a lovely day it's been, hasn't it?" Honora queried, pausing in her
play. "I've so longed to be in the country, but matters had reached such
a critical point at the laboratory that I couldn't get away. Do you
know, Kate, the great experiment that David and I are making is much
further along than he surmises! I'm going to have a glorious surprise
for him one of these days. Business took him over to the Academy of
Science to-day and I was so glad of it. It gave me the laboratory quite
to myself. But really, I've got to get out into the country. I'm going
to ask David if he won't take me next Sunday."
Kate felt herself growing giddy. She dared not venture to reply. She
kissed the babies and sped up to her room. But Honora's happy laughter
followed her even there. Then suddenly there was a scurrying. Kate
guessed that David was coming. The babies were being carried up to the
nursery lest they should annoy him.
Kate beat the wall with her fists.
"Fool! Fool!" she cried. "Why didn't she let him see her laughing and
dancing like that? Why didn't she? She'll come down all prim and staid
for him and he'll never dream what she really is like. Oh, how can she
be so blind? I don't know how to stand it! And I don't know what to do!
Why isn't there some one to tell me what I ought to do?"
Mary Morrison was late to dinner. She said she had run across an old
Californian friend and they had been having tea together and seeing the
shops. She had no appetite for dinner, which seemed to carry out her
story. Her eyes were as brilliant as stars, and a magnetic atmosphere
seemed to emanate from her. The men all talked to her. They seemed
disturbed--not themselves. There was something in her glowing lips, in
her swimming glance, in the slow beauty of her motions, that called to
them like the pipes o' Pan. She was as pagan and as beautiful as the
spring, and she brought to them thoughts of elemental joys. It was as
if, sailing a gray sea, they had come upon a palm-shaded isle, and
glimpsed Calypso lying on the sun-dappled grass.
That night Kate said she would warn Honora; but in the morning she found
herself doubtful of the wisdom of such a course. Or perhaps she really
lacked the courage for it. At any rate, she put it off. She contemplated
talking to Mary Morrison, and of appealing to her honor, or her
compassion, and of advising her to go away. But Mary was much from home
nowadays, and Kate, who had discouraged an intimacy, did not know how to
cultivate it at this late hour. Several days went by with Kate in a
tumult of indecision. Sometimes she decided that the romance between
Mary and David was a mere spring madness, which would wear itself out
and do little damage. At other moments she felt it was laid upon her to
speak and avert a catastrophe.
Then, in the midst of her indecision, she was commanded to go to
Washington to attend a national convention of social workers. She was to
represent the Children's Protective Agency, and to give an account of
the method of its support and of its system of operation. She was
surprised and gratified at this invitation, for she had had no idea that
her club and settlement-house addresses had attracted attention to that
extent. She made so little effort when she spoke that she could not feel
much respect for her achievement. It was as if she were talking to a
friend, and the size of her audience in no way affected her
She did not see that it was precisely this thing which was winning favor
for her. Her lack of self-consciousness, her way of telling people
precisely what they wished to know about the subject in hand, her sense
of values, which enabled her to see that a human fact is the most
interesting thing in the world, were what counted for her. If she had
been "better trained," and more skilled in the dreary and often
meaningless science of statistics, or had become addicted to the
benevolent jargon talked by many welfare workers, her array of facts
would have fallen on more or less indifferent ears. But she offered not
vital statistics, but vital documents. She talked in personalities--in
personalities so full of meaning that, concrete as they were, they took
on general significance--they had the effect of symbols. She furnished
watchwords for her listeners, and she did it unconsciously. She would
have been indignant if she had been told how large a part her education
in Silvertree played in her present aptitude. She had grown up in a town
which feasted on dramatic gossip, and which thrived upon the specific
personal episode. To the vast and terrific city, and to her portion of
the huge task of mitigating the woe of its unfit, Kate brought the
quality which, undeveloped, would have made of her no more than an
entertaining village gossip.
What stories there were to tell! What stories of bravery in defeat, of
faith in the midst of disaster, of family devotion in spite of squalor
and subterfuges and all imaginable shiftlessness and shiftiness.
Kate had got hold of the idea of the universality of life--the
universality of joy and pain and hope. She was finding it easy now to
forgive "the little brothers" for all possible perversity, all defects,
all ingratitude. Wayward children they might be,--children uninstructed
in the cult of goodness, happiness, serenity,--but outside the pale of
human consideration they could not be. The greater their fault the
greater their need. Kate was learning, in spite of her native impatience
and impulsiveness, to be very patient. She was becoming the defender of
those who stumbled, the explainer of those who themselves lacked
explanations or who were too defiant to give them.
So she was going to Washington. She was to talk on a proposed school for
the instruction of mothers. She often had heard her father say that a
good mother was an exception. She had not believed him--had taken it for
granted that this idea of his was a part of his habitual pessimism. But
since she had come up to the city and become an officer of the
Children's Protective Association, she had changed her mind, and a
number of times she had been on the point of writing to her father to
tell him that she was beginning to understand his point of view.
This idea of a school for mothers had been her own, originally, and a
development of the little summer home for Polish mothers which she had
helped to establish. She had proposed it, half in earnest, merely, at
Hull House on a certain occasion when there were a number of influential
persons present. It had appealed to them, however, as a practical means
of remedying certain difficulties daily encountered.
Just how large a part Jane Addams had played in the enlightenment of
Kate's mind and the dissolution of her inherent exclusiveness, Kate
could not say. Sometimes she gave the whole credit to her. For here was
a woman with a genius for inclusiveness. She was the sister of all men.
If a youth sinned, she asked herself if she could have played any part
in the prevention of that sin had she had more awareness, more
solicitude. It was she who had, more than others,--though there was a
great army of men and women of good will to sustain her,--promulgated
this idea of responsibility. A city, she maintained, was a great home.
She demanded, then, to know if the house was made attractive,
instructive, protective. Was it so conducted that the wayward sons and
daughters, as well as the obedient ones, could find safety and happiness
within it? Were the privileges only for the rich, the effective, and the
out-reaching? Or were they for those who lacked the courage to put out
their hands for joy and knowledge? Were they for those who had not yet
learned the tongue of the family into which they had newly entered? Were
they for those who fought the rules and shirked the cares and dug for
themselves a pit of sorrow? She believed they were for all. She could
not countenance disinheritance. Yes, always, in high places and low,
among friends and enemies, this sad, kind, patient, quiet woman, Jane
Addams, of Hull House, had preached the indissolubility of the civic
family. Kate had listened and learned. Nay, more, she had added her own
interpretations. She was young, strong, brave, untaught by rebuff, and
she had the happy and beautiful insolence of those who have not known
defeat. She said things Jane Addams would have hesitated to say. She
lacked the fine courtesy of the elder woman; but she made, for that very
reason, a more dramatic propaganda.
* * * * *
Kate had known what it was to tramp the streets in rain and wind; she
had known what it was to face infection and drunken rage; she had looked
on sights both piteous and obscene; but she had now begun--and much,
much sooner than was usual with workers in her field--to reap some of
the rewards of toil.
Soon or late things in this life resolve themselves into a question of
personality. History and art, success and splendor, plenitude and power,
righteousness and immortal martyrdom, are all, in the last resolve,
personality and nothing more. Kate was having her swift rewards because
of that same indescribable, incontestable thing. The friendship of
remarkable women and men--women, particularly--was coming to her. Fine
things were being expected of her. She had a vitality which indicated
genius--that is, if genius is intensity, as some hold. At any rate, she
was vividly alert, naturally eloquent, physically capable of impressing
her personality upon others.
She thought little of this, however. She merely enjoyed the rewards as
they came, and she was unfeignedly surprised when, on her way to
Washington, whither she traveled with many others, her society was
sought by those whom she had long regarded with something akin to awe.
She did not guess how her enthusiasm and fresh originality stimulated
persons of lower vitality and more timid imagination.
At Washington she had a signal triumph. The day of her speech found the
hall in which the convention was held crowded with a company including
many distinguished persons--among them, the President of the United
States. Kate had expected to suffer rather badly from stage fright, but
a sense of her opportunity gave her courage. She talked, in her direct
"Silvertree method," as Marna called it, of the ignorance of mothers,
the waste of children, the vast economic blunder which for one reason
and another even the most progressive of States had been so slow to
perceive. She said that if the commercial and agricultural interests of
the country were fostered and protected, why should not the most
valuable product of all interests, human creatures, be given at least an
equal amount of consideration. In her own way, which by a happy
instinct never included what was hackneyed, she drew a picture of the
potentialities of the child considered merely from an economic point of
view, and in impulsive words she made plain the need for a bureau, which
she suggested should be virtually a part of the governmental structure,
in which should be vested authority for the care of children,--the
Bureau of Children, she denominated it,--a scientific extension of
It seemed a part of the whole stirring experience that she should be
asked with several others to lunch at the White House with the President
and his wife. The President, it appeared, was profoundly interested. A
quiet man, with a judicial mind, he perceived the essential truth of
Kate's propaganda. He had, indeed, thought of something similar himself,
though he had not formulated it. He went so far as to express a desire
that this useful institution might attain realization while he was yet
in the presidential chair.
"I would like to ask you unofficially, Miss Barrington," he said at
parting, "if you are one to whom responsibility is agreeable?"
"Oh," cried Kate, taken aback, "how do I know? I am so young, Mr.
President, and so inexperienced!"
"We must all be that at some time or other," smiled the President. "But
it is in youth that the ideas come; and enthusiasm has a value which is
often as great as experience."
"Ideas are accidents, Mr. President," answered Kate. "It doesn't follow
that one can carry out a plan because she has seen a vision."
"No," admitted the President, shaking hands with her. "But you don't
look to me like a woman who would let a vision go to waste. You will
follow it up with all the power that is in you."
* * * * *
It happened that Kate's propaganda appealed to the popular imagination.
The papers took it up; they made much of the President's interest in it;
they wrote articles concerning the country girl who had come up to town,
and who, with a simple faith and courage, had worked among the
unfortunate and the delinquent, and whose native eloquence had made her
a favorite with critical audiences. They printed her picture and
idealized her in the interests of news.
A lonely, gruff old man in Silvertree read of it, and when the drawn
curtains had shut him away from the scrutiny of his neighbors, he walked
the floor, back and forth, following the worn track in the dingy
They talked of it at the Caravansary, and were proud; and many men and
women who had met her by chance, or had watched her with interest,
"They're coming on, the Addams breed of citizens," said they. "Here's a
new one with the trick--whatever it is--of making us think and care and
listen. She's getting at the roots of our disease, and it's partly
because she's a woman. She sees that it has to be right with the
children if it's to be right with the family. Long live the
Friends wired their congratulations, and their comments were none the
less acceptable because they were premature. Many wrote her; Ray McCrea,
alone, of her intimate associates, was silent. Kate guessed why, but she
lacked time to worry. She only knew that her great scheme was
afoot--that it went. But she would have been less than mortal if she had
not felt a thrill of commingled apprehension and satisfaction at the
fact that Kate Barrington, late of Silvertree and its gossiping,
hectoring, wistful circles, was in the foreground. She had had an Idea
which could be utilized in the high service of the world, and the most
utilitarian and idealistic public in the world had seized upon it.
So, naturally enough, the affairs of Honora Fulham became somewhat
blurred to Kate's perception. Besides, she was unable to decide what to
do. She had heard that one should never interfere between husband and
wife. Moreover, she was very young, and she believed in her friends.
Others might do wrong, but not one's chosen. People of her own sort had
temptations, doubtless, but they overcame them. That was their
business--that was their obligation. She might proclaim herself a
democrat, but she was a moral aristocrat, at any rate. She depended upon
those in her class to do right.
She was a trifle chilled when she returned to find how little time
Honora had to give to her unfolding of the great new scheme. Honora had
her own excitement. Her wonderful experiment was drawing to a
culmination. Honora could talk of nothing else. If Kate wanted to
promulgate a scheme for the caring for the Born, very well. Honora had a
tremendous business with the Unborn. So she talked Kate down.
Then came the day of Honora's victory!
It had been long expected, yet when it came it had the effect of a
miracle. It was, however, a miracle which she realized. She was
burningly aware that her great moment had come.
She left the lights flaring in the laboratory, and, merely stopping to
put the catch on the door, ran down the steps, fastening her linen coat
over her working dress as she went. David would be at home. He would be
resting, perhaps,--she hoped so. For days he had been feverish and
strange, and she had wondered if he were tormented by that sense of
world-stress which was forever driving him. Was there no achievement
that would satisfy him, she wondered. Yes, yes, he must be satisfied
now! Moreover, he should have all the credit. To have found the origin
of life, though only in a voiceless creature,--a reptile,--was not that
an unheard-of victory? She would claim no credit; for without him and
his daring to inspire her she would not have dreamed of such an
Of course, she might have telephoned to him, but it never so much as
occurred to her to do that. She wanted to cry the words into his ear:--
"We have it! The secret is ours! There _is_ a hidden door into the house
of life--and we've opened it!"
Oh, what treasured, ancient ideas fell with the development of this new
fact! She did not want to think of that, because of those who, in the
rearrangement of understanding, must suffer. But as for her, she would
be bold to face it, as the mate and helper of a great scientist should
be. She would set her face toward the sun and be unafraid of any glory.
Her thoughts spun in her head, her pulses throbbed. She did not know
that she was thinking it, but really she was feeling that in a moment
more she would be in David's arms. Only some such gesture would serve to
mark the climax of this great moment. Though they so seldom caressed,
though they had indulged so little in emotion, surely now, after their
long and heavy task, they could have the sweet human comforts. They
could be lovers because they were happy.
Perhaps, after all, she would only cry out to him:--"It will be yours,
David--the Norden prize!" That would tell the whole thing.
People looked after her as she sped down the street. At first they
thought she was in distress, but a glance at her shining face, its
nobility accentuated by her elation, made that idea untenable. She was
obviously the bearer of good tidings.
Dr. von Shierbrand, passing on the other side of the street, called
"Carrying the good news from Ghent to Aix?"
An old German woman, with a laden basket on her arm nodded cheerfully.
"It's a baby," she said aloud to whoever might care to corroborate.
But Honora carried happiness greater than any dreamed,--a secret of the
ages,--and the prize was her man's fame.
She reached her own door, and with sure, swift hands, fitted the key in
the lock. The house wore a welcoming aspect. The drawing-room was filled
with blossoming plants, and the diaphanous curtains which Blue-eyed Mary
had hung at the windows blew softly in the breeze. The piano, with its
suggestive litter of music, stood open, and across the bench trailed one
of Mary's flowered chiffon scarfs.
"David!" called Honora. "David!"
Two blithe baby voices answered her from the rear porch. The little ones
were there with Mrs. Hays, and they excitedly welcomed this variation in
their day's programme.
"In a minute, babies," called Honora. "Mamma will come in a minute."
Yes, she and David would go together to the babies, and they would "tell
them," the way people "told the bees."
"David!" she kept calling. "David!"
She looked in the doors of the rooms she passed, and presently reached
her own. As she entered, a large envelope addressed in David's writing,
conspicuously placed before the face of her desk-clock, caught her eye.
She imagined that it contained some bills or memoranda, and did not stop
for it, but ran on.
"Oh, he's gone to town," she cried with exasperation, "and I haven't an
idea where to reach him!"
Closing her ears to the calls of the little girls, she returned to her
own room and shut herself in. She was completely exasperated with the
need for patience. Never had she so wanted David, and he was not
there--he was not there to hear that the moment of triumph had come for
both of them and that they were justified before their world.
Petulantly she snatched the envelope from the desk and opened it. It was
neither bills nor memoranda which fell out, but a letter. Surprised, she
Her eyes swept it, not gathering its meaning. It might have been written
in some foreign language, so incomprehensible did it seem. But something
deep down in her being trembled as if at approaching dissolution and
sent up its wild messages of alarm. Vaguely, afar off, like the shouts
of a distant enemy on the hills, the import besieged her spirit.
"I must read it again," she said simply.
She went over it slowly, like one deciphering an ancient hieroglyph.
"My DEAR HONORA:--" (it ran.)
"I am off and away with Mary Morrison. Will this come to you
as a complete surprise? I hardly think so. You have been my
good comrade and assistant; but Mary Morrison is my woman. I
once thought you were, but there was a mistake somewhere.
Either I misjudged, or you changed. I hope you'll come across
happiness, too, sometime. I never knew the meaning of the
word till I met Mary. You and I haven't been able to make
each other out. You thought I was bound up heart and soul in
the laboratory. I may as well tell you that only a fractional
part of my nature was concerned with it. Mary is an unlearned
person compared with you, but she knew that, and it is the
great fact for both of us.
"It is too bad about the babies. We ought never to have had
them. See that they have a good education and count on me to
help you. You'll find an account at the bank in your name.
There'll be more there for you when that is gone.
The old German woman was returning, her basket emptied of its load, when
Honora came down the steps and crossed the Plaisance.
"My God," said the old woman in her own tongue, "the child did not
Honora walked as somnambulists walk, seeing nothing. But she found her
way to the door of the laboratory. The white glare of the chemical
lights was over everything--over all the significant, familiar litter of
the place. The workmanlike room was alive and palpitating with the
personality which had gone out from it--the flaming personality of
The woman who had sold her birthright of charm and seduction for his
sake sat down to eat her mess of pottage. Not that she thought even as
far as that. Thought appeared to be suspended. As a typhoon has its calm
center, so the mad tumult of her spirit held a false peace. She rested
there in it, torpid as to emotion, in a curious coma.
Yet she retained her powers of observation. She took her seat before the
tanks in which she had demonstrated the correctness of David's amazing
scientific assumption. Yet now the creatures that he had burgeoned by
his skill, usurping, as it might seem to a timid mind, the very function
of the Creator, looked absurd and futile--hateful even. For these
things, bearing, as it was possible, after all, no relation to actual
life, had she spent her days in desperate service. Then, suddenly, it
swept over her, like a blasting wave of ignited gas, that she never had
had the pure scientific flame! She had not worked for Truth, but that
David might reap great rewards. With her as with the cave woman, the
man's favor was the thing! If the cave woman won his approval with base
service, she, the aspiring creature of modern times, was no less the
slave of her own subservient instincts! And she had failed as the cave
woman failed--as all women seemed eventually to fail. The ever-repeated
tragedy of woman had merely been enacted once more, with herself for the
Yet none of these thoughts was distinct. They passed from her mind like
the spume puffed from the wave's crest. She knew nothing of time. Around
her blazed and sputtered the terrible white lights. The day waned; the
darkness fell; and when night had long passed its dark meridian and the
anticipatory cocks began to scent the dawn and to make their discovery
known, there came a sharp knocking at the door.
It shattered Honora's horrible reverie as if it had been an explosion.
The chambers of her ears quaked with the reverberations. She sprang to
her feet with a scream which rang through the silent building.
"Let me in! Let me in!" called a voice. "It's only Kate. Let me in,
Honora, or I'll call some one to break down the door."
* * * * *
Kate had mercy on that distorted face which confronted her. It was not
the part of loyalty or friendship to look at it. She turned out the
spluttering, glaring lights, and quiet and shadow stole over the room.
"Well, Honora, I found the note and I know the whole of your trouble.
Remember," she said quietly, "it's your great hour. You have a chance to
show what you're made of now."
"What I'm made of!" said Honora brokenly. "I'm like all the women. I'm
dying of jealousy, Kate,--dying of it."
"Jealousy--you?" cried Kate. "Why, Honora--"
"You thought I couldn't feel it, I suppose,--thought I was above it?
I'm not above anything--not anything--" Her voice straggled off into a
curious, shameless sob with a sound in it like the bleating of a lamb.
"Stop that!" said Kate, sharply. "Pull yourself together, woman. Don't
be a fool."
"Go away," sobbed Honora. "Don't stay here to watch me. My heart is
broken, that's all. Can't you let me alone?"
"No, I can't--I won't. Stand up and fight, woman. You can be
magnificent, if you want to. It can't be that you'd grovel, Honora."
"You know very little of what you're talking about," cried Honora,
whipped into wholesome anger at last. "I've been a fool from the
beginning. The whole thing's my fault."
"I don't see how."
Kate was getting her to talk; was pulling her up out of the pit of shame
and anguish into which she had fallen. She sat down in a deal chair
which stood by the window, and Honora, without realizing it, dropped
into a chair, too. The neutral morning sky was beginning to flush and
the rosiness reached across the lead-gray lake, illuminated the windows
of the sleeping houses, and tinted even the haggard monochrome of the
laboratory with a promise of day.
"Why, it's my fault because I wouldn't take what was coming to me. I
wouldn't even be what I was born to be!"
"I know," said Kate, "that you underwent some sort of a transformation.
What was it?"
She hardly expected an answer, but Honora developed a perfervid
"Oh, Kate, you've said yourself that I was a very different girl when
you knew me first. I was a student then, and an ambitious one, too; but
there wasn't a girl in this city more ready for a woman's role than I. I
longed to be loved--I lived in the idea of it. No matter how hard I
tried to devote myself to the notion of a career, I really was dreaming
of the happiness that was going to come to me when--when Life had done
its duty by me."
She spoke the words with a dramatic clearness. The terrific excitement
she had undergone, and which she now held in hand, sharpened her
faculties. The powers of memory and of expression were intensified. She
fairly burned upon Kate there in the beautiful, disguising light of the
morning. Her weary face was flushed; her eyes were luminous. Her
terrific sorrow put on the mask of joy.
"You see, I loved David almost from the first--I mean from the beginning
of my University work. The first time I saw him crossing the campus he
held my attention. There was no one else in the least like him, so
vivid, so exotic, so almost fierce. When I found out who he was, I
confess that I directed my studies so that I should work with him. Not
that I really expected to know him personally, but I wanted to be near
him and have him enlarge life for me. I felt that it would take on new
meanings if I could only hear his interpretations of it."
Kate shivered with sympathy at the woman's passion, and something like
envy stirred in her. Here was a world of delight and torment of which
she knew nothing, and beside it her own existence, restless and eager
though it had been, seemed a meager affair.
"Well, the idea burned in me for months and years. But I hid it. No one
guessed anything about it. Certainly David knew nothing of it. Then,
when I was beginning on my graduate work, I was with him daily. But he
never seemed to see me--he saw only my work, and he seldom praised that.
He expected it to be well done. As for me, I was satisfied. The mere
fact that we were comrades, forced to think of the same matters several
hours of each day, contented me. I couldn't imagine what life would be
away from him; and I was afraid to think of him in relation to myself."
"Afraid--I mean just that. I knew others thought him a genius in
relation to his work. But I knew he was a genius in regard to life. I
felt sure that, if he turned that intensity of his upon life instead of
upon science, he would be a destructive force--a high explosive. This
idea of mine was confirmed in time. It happened one evening when a
number of us were over in the Scammon Garden listening to the
out-of-door players. I grew tired of sitting and slipped from my seat
to wander about a little in the darkness. I had reached the very outer
edge of seats and was standing there enjoying the garden, when I
overheard two persons talking together. A man said: 'Fulham will go far
if he doesn't meet a woman.' 'Nonsense,' the woman said; 'he's an
anchorite.' 'An inflammatory one,' the man returned. 'Mind, I don't say
he knows it. Probably he thinks he's cast for the scientific role to the
end of his days, but I know the fellow better than he does himself. I
tell you, if a woman of power gets hold of him, he'll be as drunk as
Abelard with the madness of it. Over in Europe they allow for that sort
of thing. They let a man make an art of loving. Here they insist that it
shall be incidental. But Fulham won't care about conventionalities if
the idea ever grips him. He's born for love, and it's a lucky thing for
the University that he hasn't found it out.' 'We ought to plan a sane
and reasonable marriage for him,' said the woman. 'Wouldn't that be a
good compromise?' 'It would be his salvation,' the man said."
Honora poured the words out with such rapidity that Kate hardly could
"How you remember it all!" broke in Kate.
"If I remember anything, wouldn't it be that? As I say, it confirmed me
in what I already had guessed. I felt fierce to protect him. My jealousy
was awake in me. I watched him more closely than ever. His daring in the
laboratory grew daily. He talked openly about matters that other men
were hardly daring to dream of, and his brain seemed to expand every
day like some strange plant under calcium rays. I thought what a
frightful loss to science it would be if the wilder qualities of his
nature got the upper hand, and I wondered how I could endure it if--"
She drew herself up with a horror of realization. The thing that so long
ago she had thought she could not endure was at last upon her! Her teeth
began to chatter again, and her hands, which had been clasped, to twist
themselves with the writhing motion of the mentally distraught.
"Go on!" commanded Kate. "What happened next?"
"I let him love me!"
"I thought you said he hadn't noticed you."
"He hadn't; and I didn't talk with him more than usual or coquette with
him. But I let down the barriers in my mind. I never had been ashamed of
loving him, but now I willed my love to stream out toward him like--like
banners of light. If I had called him aloud, he couldn't have answered
more quickly. He turned toward me, and I saw all his being set my way.
Oh, it was like a transfiguration! Then, as soon as ever I saw that, I
began holding him steady. I let him feel that we were to keep on working
side by side, quietly using and increasing our knowledge. I made him
scourge his love back; I made him keep his mind uppermost; I saved him
"Oh, Honora! And then you were married?"
"And then we were married. You remember how sudden it was, and how
wonderful; but not wonderful in the way it might have been. I kept guard
over myself. I wouldn't wear becoming dresses; I wouldn't even let him
dream what I really was like--wouldn't let him see me with my hair down
because I knew it was beautiful. I combed it plainly and dressed like a
nurse or a nun, and every day I went to the laboratory with him and kept
him at his work. He had got hold of this dazzling idea of the extraneous
development of life, and he set himself to prove it. I worked early and
late to help him. I let him go out and meet people and reap honors, and
I stayed and did the drudgery. But don't imagine I was a martyr. I liked
it. I belonged to him. It was my honor and delight to work for him. I
wanted him to have all of the credit. The more important the result, the
more satisfaction I should have in proclaiming him the victor. I was
really at the old business of woman, subordinating myself to a man I
loved. But I was doing it in a new way, do you see? I was setting aside
the privilege of my womanhood for him, refraining from making any merely
feminine appeal. You remember hearing Dr. von Shierbrand say there was
but one way woman should serve man--the way in which Marguerite served
Faust? It made me laugh. I knew a harder road than that to walk--a road
of more complete abnegation."
"But the babies came."
"Yes, the babies came. I was afraid even to let him be as happy in them
as he wanted to be. I held him away. I wouldn't let him dwell on the
thought of me as the mother of those darlings. I dared not even be as
happy myself as I wished, but I had secret joys that I told him nothing
about, because I was saving him for himself and his work. But at what a
"Honora, it was sacrilegious!"
Honora leaped to her feet again.
"Yes, yes," she cried, "it was. And now all has happened according to
prophecy, and he's gone with this woman! He thinks she's his mate, but,
I--I was his mate. And I defrauded him. So now he's taken her because
she was kind, because she loved him, because--she was beautiful!"
"She looks like you."
"Don't I know it? It's my beauty that he's gone away with--the beauty I
wouldn't let him see. Of course, he doesn't realize it. He only knows
life cheated him, and now he's trying to make up to himself for what
"Oh, can you excuse him like that?"
The daylight was hardening, and it threw Honora's drawn face into
"I don't excuse him at all!" she said. "I condemn him! I condemn him!
With all his intellect, to be such a fool! And to be so cruel--so
But she checked herself sharply. She looked around her with eyes that
seemed to take in things visible and invisible--all that had been
enacted in that curious room, all the paraphernalia, all the
significance of those uncompleted, important experiments. Then suddenly
her face paled and yet burned with light.
"But I know a great revenge," she said. "I know a revenge that will
break his heart!"
"Don't say things like that," begged Kate. "I don't recognize you when
you're like that."
"When you hear what the revenge is, you will," said Honora proudly.
"We're going now," Kate told her with maternal decision. "Here's your
"Home?" She began trembling again and the haunted look crept back into
Kate paid no heed. She marched Honora swiftly along the awakened streets
and into the bereaved house, past the desecrated chamber where David's
bed stood beside his wife's, up to Kate's quiet chamber. Honora
stretched herself out with an almost moribund gesture. Then the weight
of her sorrow covered her like a blanket. She slept the strange deep
sleep of those who dare not face the waking truth.
Kate, who _was_ facing it, telegraphed to Karl Wander. It was all she
could think of to do.
"Can you come?" she asked. "David Fulham has gone away with Mary
Morrison. Honora needs you. You are the cousin of both women. Thought I
had better turn to you." She was brutally frank, but it never occurred
to her to mince matters there. However, where the public was concerned,
her policy was one of secrecy. She called, for example, on the President
of the University, who already knew the whole story.
"Can't we keep it from being blazoned abroad?" she appealed to him.
"Mrs. Fulham will suffer more if he has to undergo public shame than she
possibly could suffer from her own desertion. She's tragically angry,
but that wouldn't keep her from wanting to protect him. We must try to
prevent public exposure. It will save her the worst of torments." She
brooded sadly over the idea, her aspect broken and pathetic.
The President looked at her kindly.
"Did she say so?"
"Oh, she didn't need to say so!" cried Kate. "Any one would know that."
"You mean, any good woman would know that. Of course, I can give it out
that Fulham has been called abroad suddenly, but it places me in a bad
position. I don't feel very much like lying for him, and I shan't be
thought any too well of if I'm found out. I should like to place myself
on record as befriending Mrs. Fulham, not her husband."
"But don't you see that you are befriending her when you shield him?"
"Woman's logic," said the President. "It has too many turnings for my
feeble masculine intellect. But I've great confidence in you, Miss
Barrington. You seem to be rather a specialist in domestic relations. If
you say Mrs. Fulham will be happier for having me bathe neck-deep in
lies, I suppose I shall have to oblige you. Shall it be the lie
circumstantial? Do you wish to specify the laboratory to which he
Kate blushed with sudden contrition.
"Oh, I'll not ask you to do it!" she cried. "Truth is best, of course.
I'm not naturally a trimmer and a compromiser--but, poor Honora! I
pity her so!"
Her lips quivered like a child's and the tears stood in her eyes. She
had arisen to go and the President shook hands with her without making
any promise. However the next day a paragraph appeared in the University
Daily to the effect that Professor Fulham had been called to France upon
important laboratory matters.
At the Caravansary they had scented tragedy, and Kate faced them with
the paragraph. She laid a marked copy of the paper at each place, and
when all were assembled, she called attention to it. They looked at her
with questioning eyes.
"Of course," said Dr. von Shierbrand, flicking his mustache, "this isn't
true, Miss Barrington."
"No," said Kate, and faced them with her chin tilted high.
"But you wish us to pretend to believe it?"
"If you please, dear friends," Kate pleaded.
"We shall say that Fulham is in France! And what are we to say about
"Who will inquire? If any one should, say that a friend desired her as a
"Nothing," said Von Shierbrand, "is easier for me than truth."
"Please don't be witty," cried Kate testily, "and don't sneer. Remember
that nothing is so terrible as temptation. I'm sure I see proof of that
every day among my poor people. After all, doesn't the real surprise lie
in the number that resist it?"
"I beg your pardon," said the young German gently. "I shall not sneer. I
shall not even be witty. I'm on your side,--that is to say, on Mrs.
Fulham's side,--and I'll say anything you want me to say."
"I beg you all," replied Kate, sweeping the table with an imploring
glance, "to say as little as possible. Be matter-of-fact if any one
questions you. And, whatever you do, shield Honora."
They gave their affirmation solemnly, and the next day Honora appeared
among them, pallid and courageous. They were simple folk for all of
their learning. Sorrow was sorrow to them. Honora was widowed by an
accident more terrible than death. No mockery, no affected solicitude
detracted from the efficacy of their sympathy. If they saw torments of
jealousy in this betrayed woman's eyes, they averted their gaze; if they
saw shame, they gave it other interpretations. Moreover, Kate was
constantly beside her, eagle-keen for slight or neglect. Her fierce
fealty guarded the stricken woman on every side. She had the imposing
piano which Mary had rented carted back to the warehouse to lie in
deserved silence with Mary's seductive harmonies choked in its recording
fibre; she stripped from their poles the curtains Mary had hung at the
drawing-room windows and burned them in the furnace; the miniatures, the
plaster casts, all the artistic rubbish which Mary's exuberance had
impelled her to collect, were tossed out for the waste wagons to cart
away. The coquetry of the room gave way to its old-time austerity; once
more Honora's room possessed itself.
* * * * *
A wire came from Karl Wander addressed to Kate.
"Fractured leg. Can't go to you. Honora and the children must come here
at once. Have written."
That seemed to give Honora a certain repose--it was at least a spar to
which to cling. With Kate's help she got over to the laboratory and put
the finishing touches on things there. The President detailed two of
Fulham's most devoted disciples to make a record of their professor's
"Fulham shall have full credit," the President assured Honora, calling
on her and comforting her in the way in which he perceived she needed
comfort. "He shall have credit for everything."
"He should have the Norden prize," Honora cried, her hot eyes blazing
above her hectic cheeks. "I want him to have the prize, and I want to be
the means of getting it for him. I told Miss Barrington I meant to have
my revenge, and that's it. How can he stand it to know he ruined my life
and that I got the prize for him? A generous man would find that
torture! You understand, I'm willing to torture him--in that way. He's
subtle enough to feel the sting of it."
The President looked at her compassionately.
"It's a noble revenge--and a poignant one," he agreed.
"It's not noble," repudiated Honora. "It's terrible. For he'll remember
who did the work."
But shame overtook her and she sobbed deeply and rendingly. And the
President, who had thought of himself as a mild man, left the house
regretting that duels were out of fashion.
* * * * *
Then the letter came from the West. Kate carried it up to Honora, who
was in her room crouched before the window, peering out at the early
summer cityscape with eyes which tried in vain to observe the passing
motors, and the people hastening along the Plaisance, but which
"Your cousin's letter, woman, dear," announced Kate.
Honora looked up quickly, her vagueness momentarily dissipated. Kate
always had noticed that Wander's name had power to claim Honora's
interest. He could make folk listen, even though he spoke by letter. She
felt, herself, that whatever he said, she would listen to.
Honora tore open the envelope with untidy eagerness, and after she had
read the letter she handed it silently to Kate. It ran thus:--
"COUSIN HONORA, MY DEAR AND PRIZED:--
"Rather a knock-out blow, eh? I shan't waste my time in
telling you how I feel about it. If you want me to follow
David and kill him, I will--as soon as this damned leg gets
well. Not that the job appeals to me. I'm sensitive about
family honor, but killing D. won't mend things. As I spell
the matter out, there was a blunder somewhere. _Perhaps you
know where it was_.
"Of course you feel as if you'd gone into bankruptcy. Women
invest in happiness as men do in property, and to 'go broke'
the way you have is disconcerting. It would overwhelm some
women; but it won't you--not if you're the same Honora I
played with when I was a boy. You had pluck for two of us
trousered animals--were the best of the lot. I want you to
come here and stake out a new claim. You may get to be a
millionaire yet--in good luck and happiness, I mean.
"I'm taking it for granted that you and the babies will soon
be on your way to me, and I'm putting everything in
readiness. The fire is laid, the cupboard stored, the
latchstring is hanging where you'll see it as you cross the
"You understand I'm being selfish in this. I not only want,
but I need, you. You always seemed more like a sister than a
cousin to me, and to have you come here and make a home out
of my house seems too good to be true.
"There are a lot of things to be learned out here, but I'll
not give them a name. All I can say is, living with these
mountains makes you different. They're like men and women, I
take it. (The mountains, I mean.) The more they are ravaged
by internal fires and scoured by snow-slides, the more
interesting they become.
"Then it's so still it gives you a chance to think, and by
the time you've had a good bout of it, you find out what is
really important and what isn't. You'll understand after
you've been here awhile.
"I mean what I say, Honora. I want you and the babies. Come
ahead. Don't think. Work--pack--and get out here where Time
can have a chance at your wounds.
"Am I making you understand how I feel for you? I guess you
know your old playmate and coz,
"P.S. My dried-up old bach heart jumps at the thought of
having the kiddies in the house. I'll bet they're wonders."
There was an inclosure for Kate. It read:--
"MY DEAR MISS BARRINGTON:--
"I see that you're one of the folk who can be counted on. You
help Honora out of this and then tell me what I can do for
you. I'd get to her some way even with this miserable
plaster-of-Paris leg of mine if you weren't there. But I know
you'll play the cards right. Can't you come with her and stay
with her awhile till she's more used to the change? You'd be
as welcome as sunlight. But I don't even need to say that. I
saw you only a moment, yet I think you know that I'd count it
a rich day if I could see you again. You are one of those who
understand a thing without having it bellowed by megaphone.
"Don't mind my emphatic English. I'm upset. I feel like
murdering a man, and the sensation isn't pleasant. Using
language is too common out here to attract attention--even on
the part of the man who uses it. Oh, my poor Honora! Look
after her, Miss Barrington, and add all my pity and love to
your own. It will make quite a sum. Yours faithfully,
"He wrote to you, too?" inquired Honora when Kate had perused her note.
"Yes, begging me to hasten you on your way."
"Shall I go?"
"What else offers?"
"Nothing," said Honora in her dead voice. "If I kept a diary, I would be
like that sad king of France who recorded '_Rien_' each day."
Kate made a practical answer.
"We must pack," she said.
"But the house--"
"Let it stand empty if the owner can't find a tenant. Pay your rent till
he does, if that's in the contract. What difference does all that make?
Get out where you'll have a chance to recuperate."
"Oh, Kate, do you think I ever shall? How does a person recuperate from
"There isn't really any shame to you in what others do," Kate said.
"But you--you'll have to go somewhere."
"So I shall. Don't worry about me. I shall take good care of myself."
Honora looked about her with the face of a spent runner.
"I don't see how I'm going to go through with it all," she said,
So Kate found packers and movers and the breaking-up of the home was
begun. It was an ordeal--even a greater ordeal than they had thought it
would be. Every one who knew Honora had supposed that she cared more
for the laboratory than for her home, but when the packers came and tore
the pictures from the walls, it might have been her heart-strings that
Just before the last things were taken out, Kate found her in an agony
of weeping on David's bed, which stood with an appalling emptiness
beside Honora's. Honora always had wakened first in the morning, Kate
knew, and now she guessed at the memories that wrung that great,
self-obliterating creature, writhing there under her torment. How often
she must have raised herself on her arm and looked over at her man, so
handsome, so strong, so completely, as she supposed, her own, and called
to him, summoning him to another day's work at the great task they had
undertaken for themselves. She had planned to be a wife upon an heroic
model, and he had wanted mere blitheness, mere feminine allure. Then,
after all, as it turned out, here at hand were all the little qualities,
he had desired, like violets hidden beneath their foliage.
Kate thought she never had seen anything more feminine than Honora,
shivering over the breaking-tip of the linen-closet, where her
housewifely stores were kept.
"I don't suppose you can understand, dear," she moaned to Kate. "But
it's a sort of symbol--a linen-closet is. See, I hemmed all these things
with my own hands before I was married, and embroidered the initials!"
How could any one have imagined that the masculine traits in her were
getting the upper hand! She grew more feminine every hour. There was an
increasing rhythm in her movements--a certain rich solemnity like that
of Niobe or Hermione. Her red-brown hair tumbled about her face and
festooned her statuesque shoulders. The severity of her usual attire
gave place to a negligence which enhanced her picturesqueness, and the
heaving of her troubled bosom, the lifting of her wistful eyes gave her
a tenderer beauty than she ever had had before. She was passionate
enough now to have suited even that avid man who had proved himself so
"If only David could have seen her like this!" mused Kate. "His
'Blue-eyed One' would have seemed tepid in comparison. To think she
submerged her splendor to so little purpose!"
She wondered if Honora knew how right Karl Wander had been in saying
that some one had blundered, and if she had gained so much enlightenment
that she could see that it was herself who had done so. She had
renounced the mistress qualities which the successful wife requires to
supplement her wifely character, and she had learned too late that love
must have other elements than the rigidly sensible ones.
Honora was turning to the little girls now with a fierce sense of
maternal possession. She performed personal services for them. She held
them in her arms at twilight and breathed in their personality as if it
were the one anaesthetic that could make her oblivious to her pain.
Kate hardly could keep from crying out:--
"Too late! Too late!"
There was a bleak, attic-like room at the Caravansary, airy enough, and
glimpsing the lake from its eastern window, which Kate took temporarily
for her abiding-place. She had her things moved over there and camped
amid the chaos till Honora should be gone.
The day came when the two women, with the little girls, stood on the
porch of the house which had proved so ineffective a home. Kate
turned the key.
"I hope never to come back to Chicago, Kate," Honora said, lifting her
ravaged face toward the staring blankness of the windows. "I'm not
"Not foolish enough, you mean," corrected Kate. "Hold tight to the
girlies, Honora, and you'll come out all right."
Honora refrained from answering. Her woe was epic, and she let her
sunken eyes and haggard countenance speak for her.
Kate saw David Fulham's deserted family off on the train. Mrs. Hays, the
children's nurse, accompanied them. Honora moved with a slow hauteur in
her black gown, looking like a disenthroned queen, and as she walked
down the train aisle Kate thought of Marie Antoinette. There were plenty
of friends, as both women knew, who would have been glad to give any
encouragement their presence could have contributed, but it was
generally understood that the truth of the situation was not to be
When Kate got back on the platform, Honora became just Honora again,
thinking of and planning for others. She thrust her head from
"Oh, Kate," she said, "I do hope you'll get well settled somewhere and
feel at home. Don't stay in that attic, dear. It would make me feel as
if I had put you into it."
"Trust me!" Kate reassured her. She waved her hand with specious gayety.
"Give my love to Mr. Wander," she laughed.
Kate was alone at last. She had time to think. There were still three
days left of the vacation for which she had begged when she perceived
Honora's need of her, and these she spent in settling her room. It would
not accommodate all of the furniture she had accumulated during those
days of enthusiasm over Ray McCrea's return, so she sold the superfluous
things. Truth to tell, however, she kept the more decorative ones.
Honora's fate had taught her an indelible lesson. She saw clearly that
happiness for women did not lie along the road of austerity.
Was it humiliating to have to acknowledge that women were desired for
their beauty, their charm, for the air of opulence which they gave to an
otherwise barren world? Her mind cast back over the ages--over the
innumerable forms of seduction and subserviency which the instinct of
women had induced them to assume, and she reddened to flame sitting
alone in the twilight. Yet, an hour later, still thinking of the
subject, she realized that it was for men rather than for women that she
had to blush. Woman was what man had made her, she concluded.
Yet man was often better than woman--more generous, more just, more
high-minded, possessed of a deeper faith.
Well, well, it was at best a confusing world! She seemed to be like a
ship without a chart or a port of destination. But at least she could
accept things as they were--even the fact that she herself was not "in
commission," and was, philosophically speaking, a derelict.
"Other women seem to do things by instinct," she mused, "but I have,
apparently, to do them from conviction. It must be the masculine traits
in me. They say all women have masculine traits, that if they were
purely feminine, they would be monstrous; and that all civilized men
have much of the feminine in them or they would not be civilized. I
suppose there's rather more of the masculine in me than in the majority
Now Mary Morrison, she concluded, was almost pure feminine--she was the
triumphant exposition of the feminine principle.
Some lines of Arthur Symons came to her notice--lines which she tried in
vain not to memorize.
"'I am the torch,' she saith; 'and what to me
If the moth die of me? I am the flame
Of Beauty, and I burn that all may see
Beauty, and I have neither joy nor shame,
But live with that clear light of perfect fire
Which is to men the death of their desire.
'"I am Yseult and Helen, I have seen
Troy burn, and the most loving knight lies dead.
The world has been my mirror, time has been
My breath upon the glass; and men have said,
Age after age, in rapture and despair,
Love's few poor words before my mirror there.
"'I live and am immortal; in my eyes
The sorrow of the world, and on my lips
The joy of life, mingle to make me wise!'" ...
Was it wisdom, then, that Mary Morrison possessed--the immemorial wisdom
Oh, the shame of it! The shame of being a woman!
Kate denied herself to McCrea when he called. She plunged into the
development of her scheme for an extension of motherhood. State
motherhood it would be. Should the movement become national, as she
hoped, perhaps it had best be called the Bureau of Children.
It was midsummer by now and there was some surcease of activity even in
"welfare" circles. Many of the social workers, having grubbed in
unspeakable slums all winter, were now abroad among palaces and
cathedrals, drinking their fill of beauty. Many were in the country near
at hand. For the most part, neophytes were in charge at the settlement
houses. Kate was again urged to domesticate herself with Jane Addams's
corps of workers, but she had an aversion to being shut between walls.
She had been trapped once,--back at the place she called home,--and she
had not liked it. There was something free and adventurous in going from
house to house, authoritatively rearranging the affairs of the
disarranged. It suited her to be "a traveling bishop." Moreover, it left
her time for the development of her great Idea. In a neighborhood house
privacy and leisure were the two unattainable luxuries.
She was still writing at odd times'; and now her articles were
appearing. They were keen, simple, full of meat, and the public liked
them. As Kate read them over, she smiled to find them so emphatic. She
was far from _feeling_ emphatic, but she seemed to have a trick of
expressing herself in that way. She was still in need of great economy.
Her growing influence brought little to her in the way of monetary
rewards, and it was hard for her to live within her income because she
had a scattering hand. She liked to dispense good things and she liked
to have them. A liberal programme suited her best--whatever gave free
play to life. She was a wild creature in that she hated bars. Of all the
prison houses of life, poverty seemed one of the most hectoring.
But poverty, to be completely itself, must exclude opportunity. Kate had
the key to opportunity, and she realized it. In the letters she received
and wrote bringing her into association with men and women of force and
aspiration, she had a privilege to which, for all of her youth, she
could not be indifferent. She liked the way these purposeful persons put
things, and felt a distinct pleasure in matching their ideas with her
own. As the summer wore on, she was asked to country homes of charm and
taste--homes where wealth, though great, was subordinated to more
essential things. There she met those who could further her
purposes--who could lend their influence to aid her Idea, now shaping
itself excellently. At the suggestion of Miss Addams, she prepared an
article in which her plan unfolded itself in all its benevolent length
and breadth--an article which it was suggested might yet form a portion
of a speech made before a congressional committee. There was even talk
of having Kate deliver this address, but she had not yet reached the
point where she could contemplate such an adventure with calmness.
However, she was having training in her suffrage work, which was now
assuming greater importance in her eyes. She addressed women audiences
in various parts of the city, and had even gone on a few flying motor
excursions with leading suffragists, speaking to the people in villages
and at country schoolhouses.
There was an ever-increasing conviction in this department of her work.
She had learned to count the ballot as the best bulwark of liberty, and
she could find no logic to inform her why, if it was a protection for
man,--for the least and most insignificant of men,--it was not equally a
weapon which women, searching now as never before for defined and
enduring forms of liberty, should be permitted to use. She not only
desired it for other women,--women who were supposed to "need it"
more,--but she wished it for herself. She felt it to be merely
consistent that she, in whom service to her community was becoming a
necessity, should have this privilege. It never would be possible for
her to exercise murderous powers of destruction in behalf of her
country. She would not be allowed to shoot down innocent men whose
opinions were opposed to her own, or to make widows and orphans. She
would be forbidden to stand behind cannon or to sink submarine
torpedoes. But it was within her reach to add to the sum total of peace
and happiness. She would, if she could get her Bureau of Children
established, exercise a constructive influence completely in accord with
the spirit of the time. This being the case, she thought she ought to
have the ballot. It would make her stand up straighter, spiritually
speaking. It would give her the authority which would point her
arguments; put a cap on the sheaf of her endeavors. She wanted it
precisely as a writer wants a period to complete a sentence. It had a
structural value, to use the term of an architect. Without it her
sentence was foolish, her building insecure.
"Why is it," she demanded of the women of Lake Geneva when, in company
with a veteran suffragist, she addressed them there, "that you grow
weary in working for your town? It is because you cannot demonstrate
your meaning nor secure the continuation of your works by the ballot.
Your efforts are like pieces of metal which you cannot weld into useful
form. You toil for deserted children, indigent mothers, for hospitals
and asylums, starting movements which, when perfected, are absorbed by
the city. What happens then to these benevolent enterprises? They are
placed in the hands of politicians and perfunctorily administered. Your
disinterested services are lost sight of; the politicians smile at the
manner in which you have toiled and they have reaped. You see sink into
uselessness, institutions, which, in the compassionate hands of women,
would be the promoters of good through the generations. The people you
would benefit are treated with that insolent arrogance which only a
cheap man in office can assume. Causes you have labored to establish,
and which no one denies are benefits, are capriciously overthrown. And
there is one remedy and one only: for you to cast your vote--for you to
have your say as you sit in your city council, on your county board, or
in your state legislature and national congress.
"You may shrink from it; you may dread these new responsibilities; but
strength and courage will come with your need. You dare not turn aside
from the road which opens before you, for to tread it is now the test of
"Ought you to have said that?" inquired the older suffragist, afterward
looking at Kate with earnest and burning eyes from her white spiritual
face. "I dare say I care much more about suffrage than you. I have been
interested in it since I was a child, and I am now no longer a young
woman. Yet I feel that integrity is not allied to this or that opinion.
It is a question of sincerity--of steadfastness of purpose."
"There, there," said Kate, "don't expect me to be too moderate. How can
I care about anything just now if I have to be moderate? I love suffrage
because it gives me something to care about and to work for. The last
generation has destroyed pretty much all of the theology, hasn't it?
Service of man is all there is left--particularly that branch of it
known as the service of woman. Isn't that what all of the poets and
playwrights and novelists are writing about? Isn't that the most
interesting thing in the world at present? You've all urged me to go
into it, haven't you? Very well, I have. But I can't stay in it if I'm
to be tepid. You mustn't expect me to modify my utterance and cut down
my climaxes. I've got to make a hot propaganda of the thing. I want the
exhilaration of martyrdom--though I'm not keen for the discomforts of
it. In other words, dear lady, because you are judicious, don't expect
me to be. I don't want to be judicious--yet. I want to be fervid."
"You are a dear girl," said the elder woman, "but you are an egotist, as
of course you know."
"If I had been a modest violet by a mossy stone," laughed Kate, "should
I have taken up this work?"