Part 2 out of 4
She continued to gaze upon him thoughtfully, while he tried to look into
her eyes, but was baffled because the radiant beams from the lady's orbs
(as the elder Chenoweth might have said) rested somewhere dangerously near
his chin, which worried him, for, though his chin made no retreat and was
far from ill-looking, it was, nevertheless, that feature which he most
distrusted. "Won't you tell me why not?" he repeated, uneasily.
"Because," she answered at last, speaking hesitatingly, "because it isn't
so easy a matter for me as you seem to think. You have not been introduced
to me, and I know you never will be, and that what you told me was true."
"Which part of what I told you?" The question escaped from him instantly.
"That the others might come when they liked, but that you could not."
"Oh yes, yes." His expression altered to a sincere dejection; his
shoulders drooped, and his voice indicated supreme annoyance. "I might
have known someone would tell you! Who was it? Did they say why I--"
"On account of your quarrel with my father."
"My quarrel with your father!" he exclaimed; and his face lit with an
elated surprise; his shoulders straightened. He took a step nearer her,
and asked, eagerly: "Who told you that?"
"My father himself. He spoke of a Mr. Vanrevel whom he--disliked, and whom
I must not meet; and, remembering what you had said, of course I knew that
you were he."
"Oh!" Crailey's lips began to form a smile of such appealing and
inimitable sweetness that Voltaire would have trusted him; a smile alto-
gether rose-leaves. "Then I lose you," he said, "for my only chance to
know you was in keeping it hidden from you. And now you understand!"
"No," she answered, gravely, "I don't understand; that is what troubles
me. If I did, and believed you had the right of the difference, I could
believe it no sin that you should speak to me, should take me home now. I
think it is wrong not to act from your own understanding of things."
The young man set his expression as one indomitably fixed upon the course
of honor, cost what it might; and, in the very action, his lurking
pleasure in doing it hopped out in the flicker of a twinkle in his eyes,
and as instantly sought cover again--the flea in the rose-jar.
"Then you must ask some other," he said, firmly. "A disinterested person
should tell you. The difference was political in the beginning, but
became personal afterward; and it is now a quarrel which can never be
patched up, though, for my part, I wish that it could be. I can say no
more, because a party to it should not speak."
She met his level look squarely at last; and no man ever had a more
truthful pair of eyes than Crailey Gray, for it was his great
accomplishment that he could adjust his emotion, his reason, and something
that might be called his faith, to fit any situation in any character.
"You may take me home," she answered. "I may be wrong, and even disloyal;
but I do not feel it so, now. You did a very brave thing tonight to save
him from loss, and I think that what you have said was just what you
should have said."
So they went down the street, the hubbub and confusion of the fire growing
more and more indistinct behind them. They walked slowly, and, for a time,
neither spoke; yet the silence was of a kind which the adept rejoiced to
have produced thus soon--their second meeting. For he believed there were
more strange things in heaven and earth than Horatio wot; and one of the
strangest was that whenever he was near an attractive woman during a
silence such as this, something not to be defined, but as effective as it
was indefinite, always went out from him to her. It was like a word of
tenderness, a word too gentle, too compelling, too sweet, to be part of
any tongue, spoken or written. And more: this ineffable word had an echo,
and came back to him from the woman.
As his partner had in dress, so Crailey had with women, some color of the
Beau; but it was not in what experience had given him to recognize as a
fact: that they were apt to fall in love with him. (That they were apt to
remain in love with him-- he understood perfectly--was another matter.)
And he knew when they were doing it; could have told them accurately, at
each step, what they were feeling, thinking, dreaming, during the process,
because he was usually exhibiting the same symptoms to himself at the same
Thus, his own breast occupied with that dizzy elation which followed its
reception of the insane young god's arrows, and his heart warm with the
rise of the old emotion that he knew so well, he was nevertheless able to
walk with his finger on the pulse of the exquisite moment, counting her
heartbeats and his own.
So, to his fancy, as they walked, the little space between them was hung
with brilliant strands, like gossamer chains of gold, already linking them
together; every second fixing another slender, precious fetter, binding
them closer, drawing her nearer. He waited until they passed into the
shadows of the deserted Carewe Street before he spoke. There be stopped
abruptly; at which she turned, astonished.
"Now that you have saved my life," he said, in a low, tremulous tone,
"what are you going to do with it?"
Her eyes opened almost as widely as they had at her first sight of him in
her garden. There was a long pause before she replied, and when she did,
it was to his considerable surprise.
"I have never seen a play, except the funny little ones we acted at the
convent," she said, "but isn't that the way they speak on the stage?"
Crailey realized that his judgment of the silence bad been mistaken, and
yet it was with a thrill of delight that he recognized her clear reading
of him. He had been too florid again.
"Let us go." His voice was soft with restrained forgiveness. "You mocked
me once before.
"Mocked you?" she repeated, as they went on.
"Mocked me," he said, firmly. "Mocked me for seeming theatrical, and yet
you have learned that what I said was true; as you will again."
She mused upon this; then, as in whimsical indulgence to an importunate
"Well, tell me what you mean when you say I saved your life."
"You came alone," be began, hastily, "to stand upon that burning roof--"
"Whence all but him had fled!" Her laughter rang out, interrupting him.
"My room was on the fourth floor at St. Mary's, and I didn't mind climbing
three flights this evening."
Crailey's good-nature was always perfect. "You mock me and you mock me!"
he cried, and made her laughter but part of a gay duet. "I know I have
gone too fast, have said things I should have waited to say; but, ah!
remember the small chance I have against the others who can see you when
they like. Don't flout me because I try to make the most of a rare, stolen
moment with you."
"Do!" she exclaimed, grave upon the instant. "Do make the most of it! I
have nothing but inexperience. Make the most by treating me seriously.
Won't you? I know you can, and I--I--" She faltered to a full stop. She
was earnest and quiet, and there had been something in her tone, too--as
very often there was--that showed how young she was. "Oh!" she began
again, turning to him impulsively, "I have thought about you since that
evening in the garden, and I have wished I could know you. I can't be
quite clear how it happened, but even those few minutes left a number of
strong impressions about you. And the strongest was that you were one
with whom I could talk of a great many things, if you would only be real
with me. I believe--though I'm not sure why I do--that it is very
difficult for you to be real; perhaps because you are so different at
different times that you aren't sure, yourself, which the real you is.
But the person that you are beginning to be for my benefit must be the
most trifling of all your selves, lighter and easier to put on than the
little mask you carried the other night. If there were nothing better
underneath the mask, I might play, too."
"Did you learn this at the convent?" gasped Crailey.
"There was a world there in miniature," she answered, speaking very
quickly. "I think all people are made of the same materials, only in such
different proportions. I think a little world might hold as much as the
largest, if you thought it all out hard enough, and your experience might
be just as broad and deep in a small corner of the earth as anywhere else.
But I don't know! I want to understand--I want to understand everything!
I read books, and there are people--but no one who tells me what I want--
"Stop." He lifted his hand. "I won't act; I shall never `play' for you
again." He was breathless; the witching silence was nothing to what
stirred him now. A singular exaltation rose in him, together with the
reckless impulse to speak from the mood her vehement confidence had in-
spired. He gave way to it.
"I know, I know," he said huskily. "I understand all you mean, all you
feel, all you wish. It is all echoing here, and here, and here!" He
touched his breast, his eyes, and his forehead with the fingers of his
long and slender hand. "We sigh and strain our eyes and stretch out our
arms in the dark, groping always for the strange blessing that is just
beyond our grasp, seeking for the precious unknown that lies just over the
horizon! It's what they meant by the pot of gold where the rainbow ends--
only, it may be there, after all!"
They stopped unconsciously, and remained standing at the lower end of the
Carewe hedge. The western glow had faded, and she was gazing at him
through the darkness, leaning forward, never dreaming that her tight grasp
had broken the sticks of the little pink fan.
"Yes," she whispered, eagerly. "You are right: you understand!"
He went on, the words coming faster and faster: "We are haunted--you and
I--by the wish to know all things, and by the question that lies under
every thought we have: the agonizing Whither? Isn't it like that? It is
really death that makes us think. You are a good Catholic: you go to
mass; but you wish to know. Does God reign, or did it all happen?
Sometimes it seems so deadly probable that the universe just was, no God
to plan it, nothing but things; that we die as sparrows die, and the brain
is all the soul we have, a thing that becomes clogged and stops some day.
And is that all?"
She shivered slightly, but her steadfast eyes did not shift from him. He
threw back his head, and his face, uplifted to the jewelled sky of the
moonless night, was beatific in its peacefulness, as he continued in an
altered tone, gentle and low:
"I think all questions are answered there. The stars tell it all. When
you look at them you know! They have put them on our flag. There are
times when this seems but a poor nation: boastful, corrupt, violent, and
preparing, as it is now, to steal another country by fraud and war; yet
the stars on the flag always make me happy and confident. Do you see the
constellations swinging above us, such unimaginable vastnesses, not roving
or crashing through the illimitable at haphazard, but moving in more
excellent measure, and to a finer rhythm, than the most delicate clockwork
man ever made? The great ocean-lines mark our seas with their paths
through the water; the fine brains of the earth are behind the ships that
sail from port to port, yet how awry the system goes! When does a ship
come to her harbor at an hour determined when she sailed? What is a ship
beside the smallest moon of the smallest world? But, there above us,
moons, worlds, suns, all the infinite cluster of colossi, move into place
to the exactness of a hair at the precise instant. That instant has been
planned, you see; it is part of a system--and can a system exist that no
mind made? Think of the Mind that made this one! Do you believe so
inconceivably majestic an Intelligence as that could be anything but good?
Ah, when you wonder, look above you; look above you in the night, I say,"
he cried, his hand upraised like his transfigured face. "Look above you
and you will never fear that a sparrow's fall could go unmarked!"
It was not to the stars that she looked, but to the orator, as long as he
held that pose, which lasted until a hard-ridden horse came galloping down
the street. As it dashed by, though the rider looked neither to right nor
left, Miss Betty unconsciously made a feverish clutch at her companion's
sleeve, drawing him closer to the hedge.
"It is my father," she said hurriedly in a low voice. "He must not see
you. You must never come here. Perhaps--" She paused, then quickly
whispered: "You have been very kind to me. Good-night."
He looked at her keenly, and through the dimness saw that her face was
shining with excitement. He did not speak again, but, taking a step back-
ward, smiled faintly, bent his head in humble acquiescence, and made a
slight gesture of his hand for her to leave him. She set her eyes upon
his once more, then turned swiftly and almost ran along the hedge to the
gate; but there she stopped and looked back. He was standing where she
had left him, his face again uplifted to the sky.
She waved him an uncertain farewell, and ran into the garden, both palms
against her burning cheeks.
Night is the great necromancer, and strange are the fabrics he weaves; he
lays queer spells; breathes so eerie an intoxication through the dusk; he
can cast such glamours about a voice! He is the very king of fairyland.
Miss Betty began to walk rapidly up and down the garden paths, her head
bent and her bands still pressed to her cheeks; now and then an
unconscious exclamation burst from her, incoherent, more like a gasp than
a word. A long time she paced the vigil with her stirring heart, her
skirts sweeping the dew from the leaning flowers. Her lips moved often,
but only the confused, vehement" Oh, oh!" came from them, until at last
she paused in the middle of the garden, away from the trees, where all was
open to the sparkling firmament, and extended her arms over her head.
"O, strange teacher," she said aloud, "I take your beautiful stars! I
shall know how to learn from them!"
She gazed steadily upward, enrapt, her eyes resplendent with their own
"Oh, stars, stars, stars!" she whispered.
In the teeth of all wizardry, Night's spells do pass at sunrise;
marvellous poems sink to doggerel, mighty dreams to blown ashes and solids
regain weight. Miss Betty, waking at daybreak, saw the motes dancing in
the sun at her window, and watched them with a placid, unremembering eye.
She began to stare at them in a puzzled way, while a look of wonder slowly
spread over her face. Suddenly she sat upright, as though something had
startled her. Her fingers clenched tightly.
"Ah, if that was playing!"
A Tale of a Political Difference
Mr. Carewe was already at the breakfast-table, but the light of his
countenance, hidden behind the Rouen Journal, was not vouchsafed to his
daughter when she took her place opposite him, nor did he see fit to
return her morning greeting, from which she generously concluded that the
burning of the two warehouses had meant a severe loss to him.
"I am so sorry, father," she said gently. (She had not called him "papa"
since the morning after her ball.) "I hope it isn't to be a great trouble
to you." There was no response, and, after waiting for some time, she
spoke again, rather tremulously, yet not timidly: "Father?"
He rose, and upon his brow were marked the blackest lines of anger she had
ever seen, so that she leaned back from him, startled; but he threw down
the open paper before her on the table, and struck it with his clenched
"Read that!" he said. And he stood over her while she read.
There were some grandiloquent headlines: "Miss Elizabeth Carewe an Angel
of Mercy! Charming Belle Saves the Lives of Five Prominent Citizens! Her
Presence of Mind Prevents Conflagration from Wiping Out the City!" It may
be noted that Will Cummings, editor and proprietor of the Journal, had
written these tributes, as well as the whole account of the evening's
transactions, and Miss Betty loomed as large in Will's narrative as in his
good and lovelorn heart. There was very little concerning the fire in the
Journal; it was nearly all about Betty. That is one of the misfortunes
which pursue a lady who allows an editor to fall in love with her.
However, there was a scant mention of the arrival of the Volunteers "upon
the scene" (though none at all at the cause of their delay) and an elo-
quent paragraph was devoted to their handsome appearance, Mr. Cummings
having been one of those who insisted that the new uniforms should be
worn. "Soon," said the Journal, "through the daring of the Chief of the
Department, and the Captain of the Hook-and-Ladder Company, one of whom
placed and mounted the grappling-ladder, over which he was immediately
followed by the other carrying the hose, a stream was sent to play upon
the devouring element, a feat of derring-do personally witnessed by a
majority of our readers. Mr. Vanrevel and Mr. Gray were joined by Eugene
Madrillon, Tappingham Marsh, and the editor of this paper, after which
occurred the unfortunate accident to the long ladder, leaving the five
named gentlemen in their terrible predicament, face to face with death in
its most awful form. At this frightful moment "--and all the rest was
about Miss Carewe.
As Will himself admitted, he had "laid himself out on that description."
One paragraph was composed of short sentences, each beginning with the
word "alone." "Alone she entered the shattered door! Alone she set foot
upon the first flight of stairs! Alone she ascended the second! Alone
she mounted the third. Alone she lifted her hand to the trap! Alone she
opened it!" She was declared to have made her appearance to the
unfortunate prisoners on the roof, even as "the palm-laden dove to the
despairing Noah," and Will also asserted repeatedly that she was the
"Heroine of the Hour."
Miss Betty blushed to see her name so blazoned forth in print; but she
lacked one kind of vanity, and failed to find good reason for more than a
somewhat troubled laughter, the writer's purpose was so manifestly kind in
spite of the bizarre result.
"Oh, I wish Mr. Cummings hadn't!" she exclaimed. "It would have been
better not to speak of me at all, of course; but I can't see that there is
anything to resent--it is so funny!"
"Funny!" Mr. Carewe repeated the word in a cracked falsetto, with the
evident intention of mocking her, and at the same time hideously contorted
his face into a grotesque idiocy of expression, pursing his lips so
extremely, and setting his brows so awry, that his other features were
cartooned out of all familiar likeness, effecting an alteration as
shocking to behold, in a man of his severe cast of countenance, as was his
falsetto mimicry to hear. She rose in a kind of terror, perceiving that
this contortion was produced in burlesque of her own expression, and, as
he pressed nearer her, stepped back, overturning her chair. She had
little recollection of her father during her childhood; and as long as she
could remember, no one had spoken to her angrily, or even roughly.
As she retreated from him, he leaned forward, thrusting the hideous mask
closer to her white and horror-stricken face.
"You can't see anything to resent in that!" he gibbered. "It's so funny,
is it? Funny! Funny! Funny! I'll show you whether it's funny or not, I'll
show you!" His voice rose almost to a shriek. "You hang around fires, do
you, on the public streets at night? You're a nice one for me to leave in
charge of my house while I'm away, you trollop! What did you mean by
going up on that roof? You knew that damned Vanrevel was there! You did,
I say, you knew it!"
She ran toward the door with a frightened cry; but he got between it and
her, menacing her with his upraised open hands, shaking them over her.
"You're a lovely daughter, aren't you!" he shouted hoarsely. "You knew
perfectly well who was on that roof, and you went! Didn't you go? Answer
me that! If I'd had arms about me when I got there, I'd have shot that
man dead! He was on my property, giving orders, the black hound! And
when I ordered him out, he told me if I interfered with his work before it
was finished, he'd have me thrown out--me that owned the whole place; and
there wasn't a man that would lend me a pistol! `Rescue!' You'd better
rescue him from me, you palm-laden dove, for I'll shoot him, I will! I'll
kill that dog; and he knows it. He can bluster in a crowd, but he'll hide
now! He's a coward and--"
"He came home with me; he brought me home last night!" Her voice rang out
in the room like that of some other person, and she hardly knew that it
was herself who spoke.
"You lie!" he screamed, and fell back from her, his face working as though
under the dominance of some physical disorder, the flesh of it plastic
beyond conception, so that she cried out and covered her face with her
arm. "You lie! I saw you at the hedge with Crailey Gray, though you
thought I didn't. What do you want to lie like that for? Vanrevel didn't
even speak to you. I asked Madrillon. You lie!"
He choked upon the words; a racking cough shook him from head to foot; he
staggered back and dropped upon her overturned chair, his arms beating the
table in front of him, his head jerking spasmodically backward and forward
as he gasped for breath.
"Ring the bell," be panted thickly, with an incoherent gesture. "Nelson
Nelson evidently knew. He brought brandy and water from the sideboard with
no stinting hand, and within ten minutes Mr. Carewe was in his accustomed
seat, competent to finish his breakfast. In solitude, however, he sat,
and no one guessed his thoughts.
For Miss Betty had fled to her own room, and had bolted the door. She lay
upon the bed, shuddering and shivering with nausea and cold, though the
day was warm. Then, like a hot pain in her breast, came a homesickness
for St. Mary's, and the flood-tide of tears, as she thought of the quiet
convent in the sunshine over to the west, the peace of it, and the
goodness of everybody there.
"Sister Cecilia!" Her shoulders shook with the great sob that followed
this name, dearest to her in the world, convulsively whispered to the pil-
low "Dear Sister Cecilia!" She patted the white pillow with her hand,
as though it were the cool cheek against which she yearned to lay her own.
"Ah, you would know--you would know!" With the thought of the serene face
of the good Sister, and of the kind arms that would have gone round her in
her trouble, her sobbing grew loud and uncontrollable. But she would not
have her father hear it, and buried her face deep in the pillow. After a
time, she began to grow quieter, turned, and lay with wet eyes staring
unseeingly at the wall, her underlip quivering with the deep intake of
each broken sigh.
"Oh, stars, stars, stars!" she whispered.
"Missy?" There came a soft knock upon the door and the clink of silver
upon china. " Missy?
" What is it?"
So quick was Miss Betty that, although she answered almost at once, the
tears were washed away, and she was passing a cool, wet towel over her
eyes at the moment she spoke.
"Jass me. I brung yo' breakfas', honey."
Old Nelson's voice was always low and gentle, with a quaver and hesitancy
in the utterance; now it was tender and comforting with the comprehension
of one in suffering, the extraordinary tact, which the old of his race
nearly all come to possess. "Li'l chicken-wing on piece brown toast,
When she opened the door he came in, bending attentively over his tray,
and, without a glance toward his young mistress, made some show of fuss
and bustle, as he placed it upon a table near the window and drew up a
chair for her so that she could sit with her back to the light.
"Dah now!" he exclaimed softly, removing the white napkin and displaying
other dainties besides the chicken wing. "Dass de way! Dat ole Mamie in
de kitchen, she got her failin's an' her grievin' sins; but de way she do
han'le chicken an' biscuit sutney ain't none on `em! She plead fo' me to
ax you how you like dem biscuit."
He kept his head bent low over the table, setting a fork closer to Betty's
hand; arranging the plates, then rearranging them, but never turning his
eyes in her direction.
"Dat ole Mamie mighty vain, yessuh!" He suffered a very quiet chuckle to
escape him. "She did most sutney `sist dat I ax you ain't you like dem
biscuit. She de ve'y vaines' woman in dis State, dat ole Mamie, yessuh!"
And now he cast one quick glance out of the corner of his eye at Miss
Betty, before venturing a louder chuckle. "She reckon dem biscuit goin'
git her by Sain' Petuh when she `proach de hevumly gates! Uhuh! I tell
her she got git redemption fo' de aigs she done ruin dese many yeahs;
`cause she as useless wid an ommelick as a two-day calf on de slick ice!"
Here he laughed loud and long. "You jass go and talk wid dat Mamie, some
day, Missy; you'll see how vain dat woman is."
"Has father gone out, Nelson?" asked Betty in a low voice.
"Yes'm; he up town." The old man's tone sank at once to the level of her
own; became confidential, as one speaks to another in a room where
somebody is ill. "He mekkin' perpetration to go down de rivuh dis
aft'noon. He say he done broke de news to you dat he goin' `way. Dey
goin' buil' dem wa'house right up, an' yo' pa he necistate go `way `count
de contrack. He be gone two week', honey," Nelson finished, without too
much the air of imparting cheery tidings, but with just enough.
"I am to stay here alone?"
"Law no, Missy! Dat big Miz Tanberry, dass de bes' frien' we all got, she
home ag'in, an' yo' pa goin' invite her visit at de house, whiles he gone,
an' to stay a mont' aftuh he git back, too, soze she kin go to all de
doin's an' junketin's wid you, and talk wid de young mens dat you don'
like whiles you talks wid dem you does like."
"What time will father come home?"
"Home? He be gone two week', honey!"
No; I mean to-day."
"Law! He ain' comin' back. Bid me pack de trunk an' ca'y um down to de
boat at noon. Den he bid me say far'-ye-well an' a kine good-bye fo' him,
honey. `Say he think you ain't feelin' too well, soze he won't `sturb ye,
hisself, an' dat he unestly do hope you goin' have splen'id time whiles he
trabblin'." (Nelson's imagination covered many deficits in his master's
courtesy.) "Say he reckon you an' ole Miz Tanberry goin' git `long mighty
nice wid one'nurr. An' dass what me an' Mamie reckon `spechually boun' to
take place, `cause dat a mighty gay lady, dat big Miz Tanberry, an' ole
frien' `er owah fambly. She `uz a frien' er yo' momma's, honey."
Miss Betty had begun by making a pretence to eat, only to please the old
man, but the vain woman's cookery had been not unduly extolled, and Nelson
laughed with pleasure to see the fluffy hiscuits and the chicken wing not
nibbled at but actually eaten. This was a healthy young lady, he thought,
one who would do the household credit and justify the extravagant pride
which kitchen and stable already had in her. He was an old house-servant,
therefore he had seen many young ladies go through unhappy hours, and he
admired Miss Betty the more because she was the first who had indulged in
strong weeping and did not snuffle at intervals afterward. He understood
perfectly everything that had passed between father and daughter that
When her breakfast was finished, she turned slowly to the window, and,
while her eyes did not refill, a slight twitching of the upper lids made
him believe that she was going over the whole scene again in her mind;
whereupon he began to move briskly about the room with a busy air, picking
up her napkin, dusting a chair with his hand, exchanging the position of
the andirons in the fireplace; and, apparently discovering that the por-
trait of Georges Meilhac was out of line, he set it awry, then straight
again, the while be hummed an old "spiritual" of which only the words
"Chain de Lion Down" were allowed to be quite audible. They were repeated
often, and at each repetition of them he seemed profoundly, though
decorously, amused, in a way which might have led to a conjecture that the
refrain bore some distant reference to his master's eccentricity of
temper. At first be chuckled softly, but at the final iteration of "Chain
de Lion Down" burst into outright laughter.
"Honey, my Law!" he exclaimed, "But yo' pa de `ceivin'dest man! He mighty
proud er you!"
"Proud of me!" She turned to him in astonishment.
Nelson's laughter increased. "Hain't be jass de `ceivin'dest man! Yessuh,
he de sot-uppest man in dis town `count what you done last night. What he
say dis mawn', dat jass his way!"
"Ah, no!" said Miss Betty, sadly.
"Yes'm! He proud er you, but he teahbul mad at dat man. He hain't mad at
you, but he gotter cuss somebody! Jass reach out fo' de nighes' he kin
lay han's on, an' dis mawn' it happen soze it were you, honey. Uhuh! You
oughter hearn him ins' night when he come home. Den it were me. Bless
God, I ain't keerin'. He weren't mad at me, no mo'n' he were at you. He
Miss Betty looked at the old fellow keenly. He remained, however,
apparently unconscious of her scrutiny, and occupied himself with
preparations for removing the tray.
"Nelson, what is the quarrel between my father and Mr. Vanrevel?"
He had lifted the tray, but set it down precipitately, bending upon her a
surprised and sobered countenance.
"Missy," he said, gravely, "Dey big trouble `twix' dem two."
"I know," she returned quietly. "What is it?"
"Wha' fo' you ax me, Missy?"
"Because you're the only one I can ask. I don't know anyone here well
enough, except you."
Nelson's lips puckered solemnly. "Mist' Vanrevel vote Whig; but he ag'in
"Well, what if he is?"
"Yo' pa mighty strong fo' Texas."
"No'm, dat ain't hardly de beginnin'. Mist' lanrevel he a Ab'litionist."
"Well? Won't you tell me?"
"Honey, folks roun' heah mos' on `em like Mist' Vanrevel so well dey ain't
hole it up ag'in' him-- but, Missy, ef dey one thing topper God's worl'
yo' pa do desp'itly and contestably despise, hate, cuss, an' outrageously
`bominate wuss'n' a yaller August spiduh it are a Ab'litionist! He want
stomple `em eve'y las' one under he boot-heel, `cep'n dat one Mist'
Crailey Gray. Dey's a considabul sprinklin' er dem Ab'litionists `bout de
kentry, honey; dey's mo' dat don' know w'ich dey is; an' dey's mo' still
dat don' keer. Soze dat why dey go git up a quo'l twix' yo' pa an' dat
man; an' `range to have `er on a platfawm, de yeah `fo' de las' campaign;
an', suh, dey call de quo'l a de-bate; an' all de folks come in f'um de
kentry, an' all de folks in town come, too. De whole possetucky on `em
sit an' listen.
"Fus' yo' pa talk; den Mist' Vanrevel, bofe on `em mighty cole an'
civilized. Den yo' pa git wo'm up, Missy, like he do, `case he so useter
have his own way; `tain't his fault, he jass cain't help hollerin' an'
cussin' if anybody `pose him; but Mist' Vanrevel he jass as suvvige, but
he stay cole, w'ich make yo' pa all de hotter. He holler mighty strong,
Missy, an' some de back ranks `gun snickerin' at him. Uhuh! He fa'r
jump, he did; an' den bimeby Mist' Vanrevel he say dat no man oughter be
given de pilverige to sell another, ner to wollop him wid a blacksnake,
whether he `buse dat pilverige er not. `My honabul `ponent,' s's he,
`Mist' Carewe, rep'sent in hisseif de `ristocratic slave-ownin' class er
de Souf, do' he live in de Nawf an' `ploy free labor; yit it sca'sely to
be b'lieve dat any er you would willin'ly trus' him wid de powah er life
an' death ovah yo' own chillun, w'ich is virchously what de slave-ownah
"Missy, you jass oughter see yo' pa den! He blue in de face an' dance de
quadrille on de boa'ds. He leave his cha'h, git up, an' run `cross to de
odder side de platfawm, an' shake be fis' ovah dat man's head, an' screech
out how it all lies dat de slaves evah `ceive sich a treatments. `Dat all
lies, you pu'juh!' he holler. `All lies, you misabul thief,' he holler.
`All lies, an' you know it, you low-bawn slandah' an' scoun'le!'
"An' wid dat Mist' Vanrevel, be laff in yo' pa face, an' tuhn to de crowd,
he did, an' say: `You reckon dat if dish yuh man a slave-ownah, an' a
slave had anguhed him as I have anguhed him tonight, does any er you
b'lieve dat dat slave wouldn' be tied up an' whipped tell de blood run,
an' den sole down de rivuh to-morrer?'
"Well, suh, `co'se mos' on `em b'lieve same as yo' pa; but dat sutney
fotch `em, an' win de de-bate, `case dey jass natchully lay back an' roah,
dey did, Missy; dey laff an' stomp an' holler tell you could a hearn `em a
mild away. An' honey, yo' pa'd a millyum times druther Mist' Vanrevel'd a
kilt him dan tuhn de laff on him. He'd shoot a man, honey, ef he jass
s'picion him to grin out de cornder his eye at him; an' to stan' up dah
wid de whole county fa'r roahin' at him--it's de God's mussy be did'n have
no ahms wid him, dat night! Ole Mist' Chen'eth done brung him home, an'
yo' pa reach out an' kick me squah' out'n' de liberry winder soon's he
ketch sight er me!" The old man's gravity gave way to his enjoyment of
the recollection, and he threw back his head to laugh. "He sho' did,
honey! Uhuh! Ho, ho, ho! He sho' did, honey, he sho' did!"
Nevertheless, as he lifted the tray again and crossed the room to go, his
solemnity returned. "Missy," he said earnestly," ef dat young gelmun fall
in love wid you, w'ich I knows he will ef he ketch sight er you, lemme say
dis, an' please fo' to ba'h in mine: better have nuttin' do wid him fo' he
own sake; an' `bove all, keep him fur sway f'um dese p'emises. Don' let
him come in a mild er dis house."
"Nelson, was that all the quarrel between them?"
"Blessed Mussy! ain' dat `nough? Ef dey's any mo' I ain' hearn what dat
part were," he answered quickly, but with a dogged tightening of the lips
which convinced Miss Betty that he knew very well.
"Nelson, what was the rest of it?"
"Please, Missy, I got pack yo' pa trunk; an' it time, long ago, fer me to
be at my wu'k." He was half out of the door.
"What was the rest of it? " she repeated quietly.
"Now, honey," he returned with a deprecatory shake of his head, "I got my
own wu'k `tend to; an' I ain't nevah ax nobody what `twas, an' I ain't
goin' ax `em. An' lemme jass beg you f oiler de ole man's advice: you do
de same, `case nobody ain't goin' tell you. All I know is dat it come
later and were somep'n `bout dat riprarin Crailey Gray. Yo' pa he sent a
channelge to Mist' Vanrevel, an' Mist' Vanrevel `fuse to fight him `cause
he say he don' b'lieve shootin' yo' pa goin' do yo' pa any good, an' he
still got hope mekkin' good citizen outer him. Dat brung de laff on yo'
pa ag'in; an' he `clare to God ef he ketch Vanrevel on any groun' er hisn
he shoot him like a mad dog. `Pon my livin' soul he mean dem wuds, Missy!
Dey had hard `nough time las' night keepin' him fum teahin' dat man to
pieces at de fiah. You mus' keep dat young gelmun `way fum heah!"
"He came home with me last night, Nelson; I told father so."
"Yes'm. Yo' pa tole me you say dat, but he reckon you done it to mek him
madder, `cause you mad, too. He say he done see dat Crailey Gray comin'
`long de hedge wid you."
"He was mistaken, it was Mr. Vanrevel."
Nelson rolled his eyes fervently to heaven. "Den dat young man run
pintedly on he death! Ef you want keep us all dis side er de Jawdan
Rivuh, don' let him set foot in dis neighbo'hood when yo' pa come back!
An', honey--" his voice sank to a penetrating whisper--" `fo' I do a lick
er wu'k I goin' out in de stable an' git down on my knees an' retu'n
thanksgiving to de good God `case he hole Carewe Street in de dahkness
This was the speech he chose for his exit, but, after closing the door
behind him, he opened it again, and said, cheerfully:
"Soon's I git de trunk fix f' yo' pa, I bring `roun' dat bay colt wid de
side saddle. You better set `bout gittin' on yo' ridin'-habit, Missy. De
roads is mighty good dis sunshiny wedduh."
" Nelson? "
"Do you think such an attack as father had this morning--is--dangerous?"
He had hoped for another chance to laugh violently before he left her, and
this completely fitted his desire. "Ho, ho, he!" he shouted. "No'm, no,
no, honey! He jass git so mad it mek him sick. You couldn' kill dat man
wid a broad-ax, Missy!"
And he went down the hail leaving the reverberations of his hilarity
behind him. The purpose of his visit had been effected, for, when Miss
Betty appeared upon the horse-block in her green habit and gauntlets, she
was smiling; so that only a woman--or a wise old man--could have guessed
that she had wept bitterly that morning.
She cantered out to the flat, open country to the east, where she found
soft dirt-roads that were good for the bay colt's feet, and she reached a
cross-road several miles from town before she was overcome by the
conviction that she was a wicked and ungrateful girl. She could not place
the exact spot of her guilt, but she knew it was there, somewhere, since
she felt herself a guilty thing.
For the picture which Nelson had drawn rose before her: the one man
standing alone in his rage on the platform, overwhelmed by his calm young
adversary, beaten and made the butt of laughter for a thousand. Her
father had been in the wrong in that quarrel, and somehow she was sure,
too, he must have been wrong in the "personal" one, as well: the
mysterious difficulty over Fanchon's Mr. Gray, who had looked so ashamed
last night. What feud could they make over him, of all people in the
world? He looked strong enough to take care of his own quarrels, even if
he was so rigorously bound by Fanchon's apron-string when it came to a
word with another girl!
But the conclusion that her father had been in error did not lessen the
pathetic appeal of the solitary figure facing the ridicule of the crowd.
She felt that he always honestly believed himself in the right; she knew
that he was vain; that he had an almost monstrous conception of his
dignity; and, realizing the bitterness of that public humiliation which he
had undergone, she understood the wrath, the unspeakable pain and sense of
outrage, which must have possessed him.
And now she was letting him go forth upon a journey--his way beset with
the chances of illness and accident--whence he might never return; she was
letting him go without seeing him again; letting him go with no word of
farewell from his daughter. In brief: she was a wicked girl. She turned
the colt's head abruptly to the west and touched his flanks with her whip.
So it fell out that as the packet foamed its passage backward from
Carewe's wharf into the current, the owner of the boat, standing upon the
hurricane deck, heard a cry from the shore, and turned to behold his
daughter dash down to the very end of the wharf on the well-lathered colt.
Miss Betty's hair was blown about her face; her cheeks were rosy, her
eager eyes sparkling from more than the hard riding.
"Papa!" she cried, "I'm sorry!"
She leaned forward out of the saddle, extending her arms to him
appealingly in a charming gesture, and, absolutely ignoring the idlers on
the wharf and the passengers on the steamer, was singly intent upon the
tall figure on the hurricane-deck. "Papa--good-by. Please forgive me!"
"By the Almighty, but that's a fine woman!" said the captain of the boat
to a passenger from Rouen. "Is she his daughter?"
"Please forgive me!" the clear voice came again, with its quaver of
entreaty, across the widening water; and then, as Mr. Carewe made no sign,
by word or movement, of hearing her, and stood without the slightest
alteration of his attitude, she cried to him once more:
The paddle-wheels reversed; the boat swung down the river, Mr. Carewe
still standing immovable on the hurricane-deck, while, to the gaze of
those on the steamer, the figure on the bay colt at the end of the wharf
began to grow smaller and smaller. She was waving her handkerchief in
farewell, and they could see the little white speck in the distance,
dimmer and dimmer, yet fluttering still as they passed out of sight round
the bend nearly three-quarters of a mile below.
The Rule of the Regent
Betty never forgot her first sight of the old friend of her family.
Returning with a sad heart, she was walking the colt slowly through the
carriage-gates, when an extravagantly stout lady, in green muslin
illustrated with huge red flowers, came out upon the porch and waved a fat
arm to the girl. The visitor wore a dark-green turban and a Cashmere
shawl, while the expanse of her skirts was nothing short of magnificent:
some cathedral-dome seemed to have been misplaced and the lady dropped
into it. Her outstretched hand terrified Betty: how was she to approach
near enough to take it?
Mrs. Tanberry was about sixty, looked forty, and at first you might have
guessed she weighed nearly three hundred, but the lightness of her smile
and the actual buoyancy which she somehow imparted to her whole dominion
lessened that by at least a hundred-weight. She ballooned out to the
horse-block with a billowy rush somewhere between bounding and soaring;
and Miss Betty slid down from the colt, who shied violently, to find
herself enveloped, in spite of the dome, in a vast surf of green and red
"My charming girl!" exclaimed the lady vehemently, in a voice of such
husky richness, of such merriment and unction of delight, that it fell
upon Miss Betty's ear with more of the quality of sheer gayety than any
she had ever heard. "Beautiful child! What a beautiful child you are!"
She kissed the girl resoundingly on both cheeks; stepped back from her and
laughed, and clapped her fat hands, which were covered with flashing
rings. "Oh, but you are a true blue Beauty! You're a Princess! I am Mrs.
Tanberry, Jane Tanberry, young Janie Tanberry. I haven't seen you since
you were a baby and your pretty mother was a girl like us!"
"You are so kind to come," said Betty hesitatingly. "I shall try to be
"Obedient!" Mrs. Tanberry uttered the word with a shriek. "You'll be
nothing of the kind. I am the light-mindedest woman in the universe, and
anyone who obeyed me would be embroiled in everlasting trouble every
second in the day. You'll find that I am the one that needs looking
after, my charmer!"
She tapped Miss Betty's cheek with her jeweled fingers as the two mounted
the veranda steps. "It will be worry enough for you to obey yourself; a
body sees that at the first blush. You have conscience in your forehead
and rebellion in your chin. Ha, ha, ha!" Here Mrs. Tanberry sat upon,
and obliterated, a large chair, Miss Carewe taking a stool at her knee.
"People of our age oughtn't to be bothered with obeying; there'll be time
enough for that when we get old and can't enjoy anything. Ha, ha!"
Mrs. Tanberry punctuated her observations with short volleys of husky
laughter, so abrupt in both discharge and cessation that, until Miss Betty
became accustomed to the habit, she was apt to start slightly at each
salvo. "I had a husband--once," the lady resumed, "but only once, my
friend! He had ideas like your father's-- your father is such an
imbecile!--and he thought that wives, sisters, daughters, and such like
ought to be obedient: that is, the rest of the world was wrong unless it
was right; and right was just his own little, teeny-squeeny prejudices and
emotions dressed up for a crazy masquerade as Facts. Poor man! He only
lasted about a year!" And Mrs. Tanberry laughed heartily.
"They've been at me time and again to take another." She lowered her
voice and leaned toward Betty confidentially. "Not I! I'd be willing to
engage myself to Crailey Gray (though Crailey hasn't got round to me yet)
for I don't mind just being engaged, my dear; but they'll have to invent
something better than a man before I marry any one of `em again! But I
love `em, I do, the Charming Billies! And you'll see how they follow me!"
She patted the girl's shoulder, her small eyes beaming quizzically.
"We'll have the gayest house in Rouen, ladybird! The young men all go to
the Bareauds', but they'll come here now, and we'll have the Bareauds
along with `em. I've been away a long time, just finished unpacking
yesterday night when your father came in after the fire--Whoo! what a
state he was in with that devilish temper of his! Didn't I snap him up
when he asked me to come and stay with you? Ha, ha! I'd have come, even
if you hadn't been beautiful; but I was wild to be your playmate, for I'd
heard nothing but `Miss Betty Carewe, Miss Betty Carewe' from everybody I
saw, since the minute my stage came in. You set `em all mad at your ball,
and I knew we'd make a glorious house-full, you and I! Some of the
vagabonds will turn up this very evening, you'll see if they don't. Ha,
ha! The way they follow me!"
Mrs. Tanberry was irresistible: she filled the whole place otherwise than
by the mere material voluminousness of her; bubbling over with froth of
nonsense which flew through the house, driven by her energy, like sea-foam
on a spring gale; and the day, so discordantly begun for Miss Betty, grew
musical with her own laughter, answering the husky staccato of the
vivacious newcomer. Nelson waited upon them at table, radiant, his smile
like the keyboard of an ebony piano, and his disappearances into the
kitchen were accomplished by means of a surreptitious double-shuffle, and
followed by the cachinnating echoes of the vain Mamie's reception of the
visitor's sallies, which Nelson hastily retailed in passing.
Nor was Mrs. Tanberry's prediction allowed to go unfulfilled regarding the
advent of those persons whom she had designated as vagabonds. It may have
been out of deference to Mr. Carewe's sense of decorum (or from a cautious
regard of what he was liable to do when he considered that sense outraged)
that the gallants of Rouen had placed themselves under the severe
restraint of allowing three days to elapse after their introduction to
Miss Carewe before they "paid their respects at the house ;" but, be that
as it may, the dictator was now safely under way down the Rouen River, and
Mrs. Tanberry reigned in his stead. Thus, at about eight o'clock that
evening, the two ladies sat in the library engaged in conversation--
though, for the sake of accuracy, it should be said that Mrs. Tanberry was
engaged in conversation, Miss Betty in giving ear--when their attention
was arrested by sounds of a somewhat musical nature from the lawn, which
sounds were immediately identified as emanating from a flute and violin.
Mrs. Tanberry bounded across the room like a public building caught by a
cyclone, and, dashing at the candles, "Blow `em out, blow `em out!" she
exclaimed, suiting the action to the word in a fluster of excitement.
"Why?" asked Miss Carewe, startled, as she rose to her feet. The candles
were out before the question.
"`Why!" repeated the merry, husky voice in the darkness. "My goodness,
child precious, those vagabonds are here! To think of your never having
been serenaded before!"
She drew the girl to the window and pointed to a group of dim figures near
the iliac bushes. "The dear, delightful vagabonds!" she chuckled. "I
knew they'd come! It's the beautiful Tappingham Marsh with his fiddle,
and young Jeff Bareaud with his flute, and `Gene Madrillon and little
Frank Chenowith and thin Will Cummings to sing. Hark to the rascals!"
It is perfectly truthful to say that the violin and flute executed the
prelude, and then the trio sounded full on the evening air, the more
effective chords obligingly drawn out as long as the breath in the singers
could hold them, in order to allow the two fair auditors complete benefit
of the harmony. They sang "The Harp that Once Thro' Tara's Halls," and
followed it with "Long, Long Ago."
"That," Mrs. Tanberry whispered, between stifled gusts of almost
uncontrollable laughter, "is meant for just me!"
"Tell me the tales that to me were so dear," entreated the trio.
"I told `em plenty!" gurgled the enlivening widow. "And I expect between
us we can get up some more." "Now you are come my grief is removed,"
"They mean your father is on his way to St. Louis," remarked Mrs.
"Let me forget that so long you have roved,
Let me believe that you love as you loved,
Long, long ago, long ago."
"Applaud, applaud!" whispered Mrs. Tanberry, encouraging the minstrels by
a hearty clapping of hands.
Hereupon dissension arose among the quintet, evidently a dispute in regard
to their next selection; one of the gentlemen appearing more than merely
to suggest a solo by himself, while the others too frankly expressed
adverse opinions upon the value of the offering. The argument became
heated, and in spite of many a "Sh!" and "Not so loud!" the ill-suppressed
voice of the intending soloist, Mr. Chenoweth, could be heard vehemently
to exclaim: "I will! I learned it especially for this occasion. I will
His determination, patently, was not to be balked without physical
encounter, consequently he was permitted to advance some paces from the
lilac bushes, where he delivered himself, in an earnest and plaintive
tenor, of the following morbid instructions, to which the violin played an
obligato in tremulo, so execrable, and so excruciatingly discordant, that
Mr. Chenoweth's subsequent charge that it was done with a deliberately
evil intention could never be successfully opposed:
"Go! Forget me! Why should Sorrow
O'er that brow a shadow fling?
Go! Forget me, and, to-morrow,
Brightly smile and sweetly sing!
Smile! tho' I may not be near thee;
Smile! tho' I may never see thee;
May thy soul with pleasure shine
Lasting as this gloom of mine!"
Miss Carewe complied at once with the request; while her companion, unable
to stop with the slight expression of pleasure demanded by the songster,
threw herself upon a sofa and gave way to the mirth that consumed her.
Then the candles were relit, the serenaders invited within; Nelson came
bearing cake and wine, and the house was made merry. Presently, the romp,
Virginia Bareaud, making her appearance on the arm of General Trumble,
Mrs. Tanberry led them all in a hearty game of Blind-man's Buff, followed
by as hearty a dancing of Dan Tucker. After that, a quadrille being
proposed, Mrs. Tanberry suggested that Jefferson should run home and bring
Fanchon for the fourth lady. However, Virginia explained that she had
endeavored to persuade both her sister and Mr. Gray to accompany the
General and herself, but that Mr. Gray had complained of indisposition,
having suffered greatly from headache, on account of inhaling so much
smoke at the warehouse fire; and, of course, Fanchon would not leave him.
(Miss Carewe permitted herself the slightest shrug of the shoulders.)
So they danced the quadrille with Jefferson at the piano and Mr. Marsh
performing in the character of a lady, a proceeding most unacceptable to
the General, whom Mrs. Tanberry forced to be his partner. And thus the
evening passed gayly away, and but too quickly, to join the ghosts of all
the other evenings since time began; and each of the little company had
added a cheerful sprite to the long rows of those varied shades that the
after years bring to revisit us, so many with pathetic reproach, so many
bearing a tragic burden of faces that we cannot make even to weep again,
and so few with simple merriment and lightheartedness. Tappingham Marsh
spoke the truth, indeed, when he exclaimed in parting, "O rare Mrs.
But the house had not done with serenades that night. The guests had long
since departed; the windows were still and dark under the wan old moon,
which had risen lamely, looking unfamiliar and not half itself; the air
bore an odor of lateness, and nothing moved; when a delicate harmony stole
out of the shadows beyond the misty garden. Low but resonant chords
sounded on the heavier strings of a guitar, while above them, upon the
lighter wires, rippled a slender, tinkling melody that wooed the slumberer
to a delicious half-wakefulness, as dreamily, as tenderly, as the croon of
rain on the roof soothes a child to sleep. Under the artist's cunning
touch the instrument was both the accompaniment and the song; and Miss
Betty, at first taking the music to be a wandering thread in the fabric of
her own bright dreams, drifted gradually to consciousness to find herself
smiling. Her eyes opened wide, but half closed again with the ineffable
sweetness of the sound.
Then a voice was heard, eerily low, yet gallant and clear, a vibrant
baritone, singing to the guitar.
"My lady's hair,
That dark delight,
Is both as fair
And dusk as night.
I know some lovelorn hearts that beat
In time to moonbeam twinklings fleet,
That dance and glance like jewels there,
Emblazoning the raven hair!
"Ah, raven hair!
So dark and bright,
What loves lie there
I know some sighing lads that say
Their hearts were snared and torn away;
And now as pearls one fate they share,
Entangled in the raven hair.
"Ah, raven hair,
>From such a plight
Could you not spare
I know a broken heart that went
To serve you but as ornament.
Alas! a ruby now you wear,
Ensanguining the raven hair!"
The song had grown fainter and fainter, the singer moving away as he sang,
and the last lines were almost inaudible in the distance The guitar could
be heard for a moment or two more, then silence came again. It was broken
by a rustling in the room next to Miss Betty's, and Mrs. Tanberry called
softly through the open door:
"Princess, are you awake? Did you hear that serenade? "
After a pause the answer came hesitatingly in a small, faltering voice:
"Yes--if it was one. I thought perhaps he was only singing as he passed
along the street."
"Aha!" ejaculated Mrs. Tanberry, abruptly, as though she had made an
unexpected discovery. "You knew better; and this was a serenade that you
did not laugh at. Beautiful, I wouldn't let it go any farther, even while
your father is gone. Something might occur that would bring him home
without warning--such things have happened. Tom Vanrevel ought to be kept
far away from this house."
"Oh, it was not he," returned Miss Betty, quickly. "It was Mr. Gray.
"My dear," interrupted the other, "Crailey Gray's specialty is talking.
Most of the vagabonds can sing and play a bit, and so can Crailey,
particularly when he's had a few bowls of punch; but when Tom Vanrevel
touches the guitar and lifts up his voice to sing, there isn't an angel in
heaven that wouldn't quit the place and come to hear him! Crailey wrote
those words to Virginia Bareaud. (Her hair is even darker than yours, you
know.) That was when he was being engaged to her; and Tom must have set
the music to `em lately, and now comes here to sing `em to you; and well
enough they fit you! But you must keep him away, Princess."
Nevertheless, Betty knew the voice was not that which had bid her look to
the stars, and she remained convinced that it belonged to Mr. Crailey
Gray, who had been too ill, a few hours earlier, to leave the Bareaud
house, and now, with Fanchon's kisses on his lips, came stealing into her
garden and sang to her a song he had made for another girl!
And the angels would leave heaven to listen when he sang, would they?
Poor Fanchon! No wonder she held him so tightly in leading strings! He
might risk his life all he wished at the end of a grappling-ladder,
dangling in a fiery cloud above nothing; but when it came to--ah, well,
poor Fanchon! Did she invent the headaches for him, or did she make him
invent them for himself?
If there was one person in the world whom Miss Betty held in bitter
contempt and scorn, it was the owner of that voice and that guitar.
Echoes of a Serenade
More than three gentlemen of Rouen wore their hearts in their eyes for any
fool to gaze upon; but three was the number of those who told their love
before the end of the first week of Mr. Carewe's absence, and told it in
spite of Mrs. Tanberry's utmost effort to preserve, at all times, a
conjunction between herself and Miss Betty. For the good lady, foreseeing
these declarations much more surely than did the subject of them, wished
to spare her lovely charge the pain of listening to them.
Miss Carewe honored each of the lorn three with few minutes of gravity;
but the gentle refusal prevented never a swain from being as truly her
follower as before; not that she resorted to the poor device of half-
dismissal, the every-day method of the school-girl flirt, who thus keeps
the lads in dalliance, but because, even for the rejected, it was a
delight to be near her. For that matter, it is said that no one ever had
enough of the mere looking at her. Also, her talk was enlivening even to
the lively, being spiced with surprising turns and amiably seasoned with
the art of badinage. To use the phrase of the time, she possessed the
accomplishments, an antiquated charm now on the point of disappearing, so
carefully has it been snubbed under whenever exhibited. The pursuing
wraith of the young, it comes to sit, a ghost at every banquet, driving
the flower of our youth to unheard-of exertions in search of escape, to
dubious diplomacy, to dismal inaction, or to wine; yet time was when they
set their hearts on "the accomplishments."
Miss Betty Carewe at her harp, ah! it was a dainty picture: the clear
profile, with the dark hair low across the temple, silhouetted duskily, in
the cool, shadowy room, against the open window; the slender figure, one
arm curving between you and the strings, the other gleaming behind them;
the delicate little sandal stealing from the white froth of silk and lace
to caress the pedal; the nimble hands fluttering across the long strands,
"Like white blossoms borne on slanting lines of rain ;" and the great gold
harp rising to catch a javelin of sunshine that pierced the vines at the
window where the honeysuckles swung their skirts to the refrain--it was a
picture to return many a long year afterward, and thrill the reveries of
old men who were then young. And, following the light cascading ripples
of the harp, when her low contralto lifted in one of the "old songs," she
often turned inquiringly to see if the listener liked the music, and her
brilliant, dark eyes would rest on his with an appeal that blinded his
entranced soul. She meant it for the mere indication of a friendly wish
to suit his tastes, but it looked like the divine humility of love.
Nobody wondered that General Trumble should fall to verse-making in his
She sketched magnificently. This is the very strongest support for the
assertion: Frank Chenoweth and Tappingham Marsh agreed, with tears of
enthusiasm, that "magnificently" was the only word. They came to this
conclusion as they sat together at the end of a long dinner (at which very
little had been eaten) after a day's picnic by the river. Miss Carewe had
been of their company, and Tappingham and Chenoweth found each his
opportunity in the afternoon. The party was small, and no one had been
able to effect a total unconsciousness of the maneuvers of the two gentle-
men. Even Fanchon Bareaud comprehended languidly, though she was more
blurred than ever, and her far-away eyes belied the mechanical vivacity of
her manner, for Crailey was thirty miles down the river, with a fishing-
rod neatly packed in a leather case.
Mr. Vanrevel, of course, was not invited; no one would have thought of
asking him to join a small party of which Robert Carewe's daughter was to
be a member. But it was happiness enough for Tom, that night, to lie
hidden in the shrubbery, looking up at the stars between the leaves, while
he listened to her harp, and borne through the open window on enchanted
airs, the voice of Elizabeth Carewe singing "Robin Adair."
It was now that the town indulged its liveliest spirit; never an evening
lacked its junketing, while the happy folk of Rouen set the early summer
to music. Serenade, dance, and song for them, the light-hearts, young and
old making gay together! It was all laughter, either in sunshine or by
candlelight, undisturbed by the far thunder below the southern horizon,
where Zachary Taylor had pitched his tent, upon the Rio Grande.
One fair evening, soon after that excursion which had proved fatal to the
hopes of the handsome Tappingham and of the youthful Chenoweth, it was the
privilege of Mr. Thomas Vanrevel to assist Miss Carewe and her chaperon
from their carriage, as they drove up to a dance at the Bareauds'. This
good fortune fell only to great deserving, for he had spent an hour
lurking outside the house in the hope of performing such offices for them.
Heaven was in his soul and the breath departed out of his body, when,
after a moment of hesitation, Miss Betty's little lace-gauntleted glove
was placed in his hand, and her white slipper shimmered out from the lilac
flounces of her dress to fall like a benediction, he thought, on each of
It was the age of garlands; they wreathed the Muses, the Seasons, and
their speech, so the women wore wreaths in their hair, and Miss Betty's
that night was of marguerites. "Read your fortune in them all," whispered
Tom's heart, "and of whomsoever you wish to learn, every petal will say
`He loves you; none declare, He loves you not!'"
She bowed slightly, but did not speak to him, which was perhaps a better
reception than that accorded the young man by her companion. "Oh, it's
you, is it!" was Mrs. Tanberry's courteous observation as she canted the
vehicle in her descent. She looked sharply at Miss Betty, and even the
small glow of the carriage-lamps showed that the girl's cheeks had flushed
very red. Mr. Vanrevel, on the contrary, was pale.
They stood for a moment in awkward silence, while, from the lighted house
where the flying figures circled, came the waltz: " I dreamt that I dwe-
helt in ma-har-ble halls." Tom's own dreams were much wilder than the
gypsy girl's; he knew that; yet he spoke out bravely:
"Will you dance the two first with me?"
Miss Betty bit her lip, frowned, turned away, and, vouchsafing no reply,
walked toward the house with her eyes fixed on the ground; but just as
they reached the door she flashed over him a look that scorched him from
head to foot, and sent his spirits down through the soles of his boots to
excavate a grotto in the depths of the earth, so charged it was with
wrathful pity and contempt.
"Yes!" she said abruptly, and followed Mrs. Tanberry to the dressing-room.
The elder lady shook her head solemnly as she emerged from the enormous
folds of a yellow silk cloak. "Ah, Princess," she said, touching the
girl's shoulder with her jeweled hand, "I told you I was a very foolish
woman, and I am, but not so foolish as to offer advice often. Yet,
believe me, it won't do. I think that is one of the greatest young men I
ever knew, and it's a pity--but it won't do."
Miss Betty kept her face away from her guardian for a moment. No
inconsiderable amount of information had drifted to her, from here and
there, regarding the career of Crailey Gray, and she thought how intensely
she would have hated any person in the world except Mrs. Tanberry for pre-
suming to think she needed to be warned against the charms of this
serenading lady-killer, who was the property of another girl.
"You must keep him away, I think," ventured Mrs. Tanberry, gently.
At that Betty turned to her and said, sharply:
"I will. After this, please let us never speak of him again."
A slow nod of the other's turbaned head indicated the gravest
acquiescence. She saw that her companion's cheeks were still crimson. "I
understand," said she.
A buzz of whispering, like a July beetle, followed Miss Carewe and her
partner about the room during the next dance. How had Tom managed it?
Had her father never told her? Who had dared to introduce them? Fanchon
was the only one who knew, and as she whirled by with Will Cummings, she
raised her absent glance long enough to give Tom an affectionate and
warning shake of the head.
Tom did not see this; Miss Carewe did. Alas! She smiled upon him
instantly and looked deep into his eyes. It was the third time.
She was not afraid of this man-flirt; he was to be settled with once and
forever. She intended to avenge both Fanchon and herself; yet it is a
hazardous game, this piercing of eye with eye, because the point which
seeks to penetrate may soften and melt, leaving one defenseless. For
perhaps ten seconds that straight look lasted, while it seemed to her that
she read clear into the soul of him, and to behold it, through some
befooling magic, as strong, tender, wise, and true, as his outward ap-
pearance would have made an innocent stranger believe him; for he looked
all these things; she admitted that much; and he had an air of distinction
and resource beyond any she had ever known, even in the wild scramble for
her kitten he had not lost it. So, for ten seconds, which may be a long
time, she saw a man such as she had dreamed, and she did not believe her
sight, because she had no desire to be as credulous as the others, to be
as easily cheated as that poor Fanchon!
The luckless Tom found his own feet beautiful on the mountains, and,
treading the heights with airy steps, appeared to himself wonderful and
glorified--he was waltzing with Miss Betty He breathed the entrancing
words to himself, over and over: it was true, he was waltzing with Miss
Betty Carewe! Her glove lay warm and light within his own; his fingers
clasped that ineffable lilac and white brocade waist. Sometimes her hair
came within an inch of his cheek, and then he rose outright from the
hilltops and floated in a golden mist. The glamour of which the
Incroyable had planned to tell her some day, surrounded Tom, and it seemed
to him that the whole world was covered with a beautiful light like a
carpet, which was but the radiance of this adorable girl whom his gloves
and coat-sleeve were permitted to touch. When the music stopped, they
followed in the train of other couples seeking the coolness of out-of-
doors for the interval, and Tom, in his soul, laughed at all other men
with illimitable condescension.
"Stop here," she said, as they reached the open gate. He was walking out
of it, his head in the air, and Miss Betty on his arm. Apparently, he
would have walked straight across the State. It was the happiest moment
he had ever known.
He wanted to say something wonderful to her; his speech should be like the
music and glory and lire that was in him; therefore he was shocked to hear
himself remarking, with an inanity of utterance that sickened him:
"Oh, here's the gate, isn't it?"
Her answer was a short laugh. "You mean you wish to persuade me that you
had forgotten it was there?"
"I did not see it," he protested, lamentably.
"I wasn't thinking of it."
"Indeed! You were `lost in thoughts of `--"
"Of you!" he said, before he could check himself.
"Yes?" Her tone was as quietly contemptuous as she could make it. "How
very frank of you! May I ask: Are you convinced that speeches of that
sort are always to a lady's liking?"
"No," he answered humbly, and hung his head. Then she threw the question
at him abruptly:
"Was it you who came to sing in our garden?"
There was a long pause before a profound sigh came tremulously from the
darkness, like a sad and tender confession. "Yes."
"I thought so!" she exclaimed. "Mrs. Tanberry thought it was someone else;
but I knew that it was you."
"Yes, you are right," he said, quietly. "It was I. It was my only way to
tell you what you know now."
"Of course!" She set it all aside with those two words and the slightest
gesture of her hand. " It was a song made for another girl, I believe?"
she asked lightly, and with an icy smile, inquired farther: "For the one--
the one before the last, I understand?"
He lifted his head, surprised. "What has that to do with it? The music
was made for you-- but then, I think all music was made for you."
"Leave the music out of it, if you please," she said, impatiently. "Your
talents make you modest! No doubt you consider it unmaidenly in me to
have referred to the serenade before you spoke of it; but I am not one to
cast down my eyes and let it pass. No, nor one too sweet to face the
truth, either!" she cried with sudden passion. "To sing that song in the
way you did, meant-oh, you thought I would flirt with you! What right had
you to come with such a song to me?
Tom intended only to disclaim the presumption, so far from his thoughts,
that his song had moved her, for he could see that her attack was prompted
by her inexplicable impression that he had assumed the attitude of a
conqueror, but his explanation began unfortunately.
"Forgive me. I think you have completely misunderstood; you thought it
meant something I did not intend, at all, and--"
"What!" she said, and her eyes blazed, for now she beheld him as the
arrant sneak of the world. He, the lady-killer, with his hypocritical air
of strength and melancholy sweetness, the leader of drunken revels, and,
by reputation, the town Lothario and Light-o'-Love, under promise of
marriage to Fanchon Bareaud, had tried to make love to another girl, and
now his cowardice in trying to disclaim what he had done lent him the
insolence to say to this other: "My child, you are betrayed by your youth
and conceit; you exaggerate my meaning. I had no intention to distinguish
you by coquetting with you!" This was her interpretation of him; and her
indignation was not lessened by the inevitable conclusion that he, who had
been through so many scenes with women, secretly found her simplicity
diverting. Miss Betty had a little of her father in her; while it was
part of her youth, too, that, of all things she could least endure the
shadow of a smile at her own expense.
"Oh, oh!" she cried, her voice shaking with anger. "I suppose your bad
heart is half-choked with your laughter at me."
She turned from him swiftly, and left him.
Almost running, she entered the house, and hurried to a seat by Mrs.
Tanberry, nestling to her like a young sapling on a hillside.
Instantaneously, several gentlemen, who had hastily acquitted themselves
of various obligations in order to seek her, sprang forward with eager
greetings, so that when the stricken Tom, dazed and confounded by his evil
luck, followed her at about five paces, he found himself confronted by an
impenetrable abbatis formed by the spiked tails of the coats of General
Trumble, Madrillon, Tappingham Marsh, Cummings and Jefferson Bareaud.
Within this fortification rang out laughter and sally from Miss Carewe;
her color was high and her eyes sparkled never more brightly.
Flourish and alarums sounded for a quadrille. Each of the semi-circle,
firmly elbowing his neighbor, begged the dance of Miss Betty; but Tom was
himself again, and laid a long, strong hand on Madrillon's shoulder,
pressed him gently aside, and said:
"Forgive me; Miss Carewe has honored me by the promise of this quadrille."
He bowed, offering his arm, and none of them was too vain to envy that bow
For a moment he remained waiting. Miss Carewe rose slowly, and, directly
facing him, said in composed and even voice: "You force me to beg you
never to address me again."
She placed her hand on the General's arm, turning her back squarely upon
In addition to those who heard, many persons in that part of the room saw
the affront and paused in arrested attitudes; others, observing these,
turned inquiringly, so that sudden silence fell, broken only by the voice
of Miss Betty as she moved away, talking cheerily to the General. Tom was
left standing alone in the broken semicircle.
All the eyes swept from her to him and back; then everyone began to talk
hastily about nothing. The young man's humiliation was public.
He went to the door under cover of the movement of the various couples to
find places in the quadrille, yet every sidelong glance in the room still
rested upon him, and he knew it. He remained in the ball, alone, through
that dance, and at its conclusion, walked slowly through the rooms,
speaking to people, here and there, as though nothing had happened, but
when the music sounded again, he went to the dressing-room, found his hat
and cloak, and left the house. For a while he stood on the opposite side
of the street, watching the lighted windows, and twice he caught sight of
the lilac and white brocade, the dark hair, and the wreath of marguerites.
Then, with a hot pain in his breast, and the step of a Grenadier, he
marched down the street.
In the carriage Mrs. Tanberry took Betty's hand in hers. "I'll do as you
wish, child," she said, "and never speak to you of him again as long as I
live, except this once. I think it was best for his own sake as well as
"He needed a lesson," interrupted Miss Betty, wearily. She had danced
long and hard, and she was very tired.
Mrs. Tanberry's staccato laugh came out irrepressibly. "All the vagabonds
do, Princess!" she cried. "And I think they are getting it."
"No, no, I don't mean--"
"We've turned their heads, my dear, between us, you and I; and we'll have
to turn `em again, or they'll break their necks looking over their shoul-
ders at us, the owls!" She pressed the girl's hand affectionately. "But
you'll let me say something just once, and forgive me because we're the
same foolish age, you know. It's only this: The next young man you
suppress, take him off in a corner! Lead him away from the crowd where he
won't have to stand and let them look at him afterward. That's all, my
dear, and you mustn't mind."
"I'm not sorry!" said Miss Betty hotly. "I'm not sorry!"
"No, no," said Mrs. Tanberry, soothingly. "It was better this time to do
just what you did. I'd have done it myself, to make quite sure he would
keep away--because I like him."
"I'm not sorry!" said Miss Betty again.
"I'm not sorry!" she repeated and reiterated to herself after Mrs.
Tanberry had gone to bed. She had sunk into a chair in the library with a
book, and "I'm not sorry!" she whispered as the open unread page blurred
before her, "I'm not sorry!" He had needed his lesson; but she had to
bear the recollection of how white his face went when he received it. Her
affront had put about him a strange loneliness: the one figure with the
stilled crowd staring; it had made a picture from which her mind's eye had
been unable to escape, danced she never so hard and late. Unconsciously,
Robert Carewe's daughter had avenged the other figure which had stood in
lonely humiliation before the staring eyes.
"I'm not sorry!" Ah, did they think it was in her to hurt any living
thing in the world? The book dropped from her lap, and she bowed her head
upon her hands. "I'm not sorry! "--and tears upon the small lace
She saw them, and with an incoherent exclamation, half self-pitying, half
impatient, ran out to the stars above her garden.
She was there for perhaps half an hour, and just before she returned to
the house she did a singular thing.
Standing where all was clear to the sky, where she had stood after her
talk with the Incroyable, when he had bid her look to the stars, she
raised her arms to them again, her face, pale with a great tenderness,
"You, you, you! "she whispered. "I love you!"
And yet it was to nothing definite, to no man, nor outline of a man, to no
phantom nor dream-lover, that she spoke; neither to him she had affronted,
nor to him who had bidden her look to the stars. Nor was it to the stars
She returned slowly and thoughtfully to the house, wondering what she had
A Voice in a Garden
Crailey came home the next day with a new poem, but no fish. He lounged up
the stairs, late in the afternoon, humming cheerfully to himself, and,
dropping his rod in a corner of Tom's office, laid the poem on the desk
before his partner, produced a large, newly-replenished flask, opened it,
stretched himself comfortably upon a capacious horse-hair sofa, drank a
deep draught, chuckled softly, and requested Mr. Vanrevel to set the
rhymes to music immediately.
"Try it on your instrument," he said. "It's a simple verse about nothing
but stars, and you can work it out in twenty minutes with the guitar."
"It is broken," said Tom, not looking up from his work.
"Who broke it?"
"It fell from the table in my room."
"How? Easily mended, isn't it?"
"I think I shall not play it soon again."
Crailey swung his long legs off the sofa and abruptly sat upright.
"What's this?" he asked gravely.
Tom pushed his papers away from him, rose and went to the dusty window
that looked to the west, where, at the end of the long street, the sun was
setting behind the ruin of charred timbers on the bank of the shining
"It seems that I played once too often," he said.
Crailey was thoroughly astonished. He took a long, affectionate pull at
the flask and offered it to his partner.
"No," said Tom, turning to him with a troubled face, "and if I were you, I
wouldn't either. These fishing trips of yours--"
"Fishing!" Crailey laughed. "Trips of a poetaster! It's then I write
best, and write I will! There's a poem, and a damned good one, too, old
preacher, in every gill of whiskey, and I'm the lad that can extract it!
Lord! what's better than to be out in the open, all by yourself in the
woods, or on the river? Think of the long nights alone with the glory of
heaven and a good demijohn. Why, a man's thoughts are like actors
performing in the air and all the crowding stars for audience! You know
in your soul you'd rather have me out there, going it all by myself, than
raising thunder over town. And you know, too, it doesn't tell on me; it
doesn't show! You couldn't guess, to save your life, how much I've had
to-day, now, could you?"
"Yes," returned the other, "I could."
"Well, well," said Crailey, good-naturedly, "we weren't talking of me."
He set down the flask, went to his friend and dropped a hand lightly on
his shoulder. "What made you break the guitar? Tell me."
"What makes you think I broke it?" asked his partner sharply.
"Tell me why you did it," said Crailey.
And Tom, pacing the room, told him, while Crailey stood in silence,
looking him eagerly in the eye whenever Tom turned his way. The listener
interrupted seldom; once it was to exclaim: "But you haven't said why you
broke the guitar?"
If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out!' I ought to have cut off the
hands that played to her." "And cut your throat for singing to her?"
"She was right!" the other answered, striding up and down the room.
"Right--a thousand times! in everything she did. That I should even ap-
proach her, was an unspeakable insolence. I had forgotten, and so,
possibly, had she, but I had not even been properly introduced to her."
"No, you hadn't, that's true," observed Crailey, reflectively. "You don't
seem to have much to reproach her with, Tom."
"Reproach her!" cried the other. "That I should dream she would speak to
me or have anything to do with me, was to cast a doubt upon her loyalty as
a daughter. She was right, I say! And she did the only thing she could
do: rebuked me before them all. No one ever merited what he got more
roundly than I deserved that. Who was I, in her eyes, that I should
besiege her with my importunities, who but her father's worst enemy?"
Deep anxiety knitted Crailey's brow. "I understood she knew of the
quarrel," he said, thoughtfully. "I saw that, the other evening when I
helped her out of the crowd. She spoke of it on the way home, I remember;
but how did she know that you were Vanrevel? No one in town would be apt
to mention you to her."
"No, but she did know, you see."
"Yes," returned Mr. Gray slowly. "So it seems! Probably her father told
her to avoid you, and described you so that she recognized you as the man
who caught the kitten."
He paused, picked up the flask, and again applied himself to its contents,
his eyes peering over the up-tilted vessel at Tom, who continued to pace
up and down the length of the office. After a time, Crailey, fumbling in
his coat, found a long cheroot, and, as he lit it, inquired casually:
"Do you remember if she addressed you by name?"
"I think not," Tom answered, halting. "What does it matter?"
Crailey drew a deep breath.
"It doesn't," he returned.
"She knew me well enough," said Tom, sadly, as he resumed his sentry-go.
"Yes," repeated Crailey, deliberately. "So it seems; so it seems!" He
blew a long stream of smoke out into the air before him, and softly mur-
mured again: " So it seems, so it seems."
Silence fell, broken only by the sound of Tom's footsteps, until,
presently, some one informally shouted his name from the street below. It
was only Will Cummings, passing the time of day, but when Tom turned from
the window after answering him, Crailey, his poem, and his flask were
That evening Vanrevel sat in the dusty office, driving himself to his work
with a sharp goad, for there was a face that came between him and all else
in the world, and a voice that sounded always in his ears. But the work
was done before he rose from his chair, though he showed a haggard visage
as he bent above his candles to blow them out.
It was eleven o'clock; Crailey had not come back, and Tom knew that his
light-hearted friend would not return for many hours; and so, having no
mind to read, and no belief that he could if he tried, he went out to walk
the streets. He went down to the river first, and stood for a little
while gazing at the ruins of the two warehouses, and that was like a man
with a headache beating his skull against a wall. As he stood on the
blackened wharf, he saw how the charred beams rose above him against the
sky like a gallows, and it seemed to him that nothing could have been a
better symbol, for here he had hanged his self-respect. "Reproach her!"
He, who had so displayed his imbecility before her! Had he been her
father's best friend, he should have had too great a sense of shame to
dare to speak to her after that night when her quiet intelligence had
exhibited him to himself, and to all the world, as nought else than a
fool--and a noisy one at that!
Suddenly a shudder convulsed him; he struck his open palm across his
forehead and spoke aloud, while, from horizon to horizon, the night air
grew thick with the whispered laughter of observing hobgoblins:
"And even if there had been no stairway, we could have slid down the hose-
He retraced his steps, a tall, gray figure moving slowly through the blue
darkness, and his lips formed the heart-sick shadow of a smile when he
found that he had unconsciously turned into Carewe Street. Presently he
came to a gap in a hedge, through which he had sometimes stolen to hear
the sound of a harp and a girl's voice singing; but he did not enter there
tonight, though he paused a moment, his head bowed on his breast.
There came a sound of voices; they seemed to be moving toward the hedge,
toward the gap where he stood; one a man's eager, quick, but very musical;
the other, a girl's, a rich and clear contralto that passed into Tom's
soul like a psalm of rejoicing and like a scimitar of flame. He shivered,
and moved away quickly, but not before the man's voice, somewhat louder
for the moment, came distinctly from the other side of the hedge:
"After all," said the voice, with a ripple of laughter, "after all,
weren't you a little hard on that poor Mr. Gray?"
Tom did not understand, but he knew the voice. It was that of Crailey
He heard the same voice again that night, and again stood unseen. Long
after midnight he was still tramping the streets on his lonely rounds,
when he chanced to pass the Rouen House, which hostelry bore, to the
uninitiated eye, the appearance of having closed its doors upon all
hospitalities for the night, in strict compliance with the law of the city
fathers, yet a slender wand of bright light might be discovered underneath
the street door of the bar-room.
>From within the merry retreat issued an uproar of shouting, raucous
laughter and the pounding of glasses on tables, heralding all too plainly
the hypocrisy of the landlord, and possibly that of the city fathers also.
Tom knew what company was gathered there: gamblers, truckmen, drunken
farmers, men from the river steamers making riot while their boats lay at
the wharf, with a motley gathering of good-for-nothings of the back-
alleys, and tippling clerks from the Main Street stores. There came loud
cries for a song, and, in answer, the voice of Crailey rose over the
general din, somewhat hoarse, and never so musical when he sang as when he
spoke, yet so touching in its dramatic tenderness that soon the noise fell
away, and the roisterers sat quietly to listen. It was not the first time
Ben Jonson's song had stilled a disreputable company.
"I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much honoring thee,
As giving it the hope that there
It might not withered be."
Perhaps, just then, Vanrevel would have wished to hear him sing anything
in the world rather than that, for on Crailey's lips it carried too much
meaning tonight, after the voice in the garden. And Tom lingered no more
near the betraying sliver of light beneath the door than he had by the gap
in the hedge, but went steadily on his way.
Not far from the hotel he passed a small building brightly lighted and
echoing with unusual clamors of industry: the office of the Rouen Journal.
The press was going, and Mr. Cummings's thin figure crossed and recrossed
the windows, while his voice could be heard energetically bidding his as-
sistants to "Look alive!" so that Tom imagined that something might have
happened between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande; but he did not stop
to ask the journalist, for he desired to behold the face of none of his
friends until he had fought out some things within himself. So he strode
on toward nowhere.
Day was breaking when Mr. Gray climbed the stairs to his room. There were
two flights, the ascent of the first of which occupied about half an hour
of Crailey's invaluable time; and the second might have taken more of it,
or possibly consumed the greater part of the morning, had he received no
assistance. But, as he reclined to meditate upon the first landing,
another man entered the hallway from without, ascended quickly, and
Crailey became pleasantly conscious that two strong hands had lifted him
to his feet; and, presently, that he was being borne aloft upon the new-
comer's back. It seemed quite a journey, yet the motion was soothing, so
he made no effort to open his eyes, until he found himself gently
deposited upon the couch in his own chamber, when he smiled amiably, and,
looking up, discovered his partner standing over him.
Tom was very pale and there were deep, violet scrawls beneath his eyes.
For once in his life he bad come home later than Crailey.
"First time, you know," said Crailey, with difficulty. "You'll admit
first time completely incapable? Often needed guiding hand, but never--
"Yes," said Tom, quietly, "it is the first time I ever saw you quite
"Think I must be growing old and constitution refuses bear it.
Disgraceful to be seen in condition, yet celebration justified. H'rah for
the news!" He waved his hand wildly. "Old red, white, and blue!
American eagle now kindly proceed to scream! Starspangled banner intends
streaming to all the trade winds! Sea to sea! Glorious victories on
political thieving exhibition--no, expedition! Everybody not responsible
for the trouble to go and get himself patriotically killed!"
"What do you mean?"
"Water!" said the other, feebly. Tom brought the pitcher, and Crailey,
setting his hot lips to it, drank long and deeply; then, with his friend's
assistance, he tied a heavily moistened towel round his head. "All right
very soon and sober again," he muttered, and lay back upon the pillow with
eyes tightly closed in an intense effort to concentrate his will. When he
opened them again, four or five minutes later, they had marvellously
cleared and his look was self-contained and sane.
"Haven't you heard the news?" He spoke much more easily now. "It came at
midnight to the Journal."
"No; I've been walking in the country."
"The Mexicans crossed the Rio Grande on the twenty-sixth of last month,
captured Captain Thornton and murdered Colonel Crook. That means war is
"It has been certain for a long time," said Tom. "Polk has forced it
from the first."
"Then it's a devil of a pity he can't be the only man to die!"
"Have they called for volunteers?" asked Tom, going toward the door.
"No; but if the news is true, they will."
"Yes," said Tom; and as he reached the hallway he paused. "Can I help you
"Certainly not!" Crailey sat up, indignantly. "Can't you see that I'm
perfectly sober? It was the merest temporary fit, and I've shaken it off.
Don't you see?" He got upon his feet, staggered, but shook himself like a
dog coming out of the water, and came to the door with infirm steps.
"You're going to bed, aren't you?" asked Tom. "You'd much better."
"No," answered Crailey. "Are you?
"No. I'm going to work."
"You've been all up night, too, haven't you?" Crailey put his hand on the
other's shoulder. "Were you hunting for me?"
"No; not last night."
Crailey lurched suddenly, and Tom caught him about the waist to steady
"Sweethearting, tippling, vingt-et-un, or poker, eh, Tom?" he shouted,
thickly, with a wild laugh. "Ha, ha, old smug-face, up to my bad tricks
at last!" But, recovering himself immediately, he pushed the other off at
arm's length, and slapped himself smartly on the brow. "Never mind; all
right, all right--only a bad wave, now and then. A walk will make me more
a man than ever."
"You'd much better go to bed, Crailey."
"I can't. I'm going to change my clothes and go out."
Crailey did not answer, but at that moment the Catholic church-bell,
summoning the faithful to mass, pealed loudly on the morning air; and the
steady glance of Tom Vanrevel rested upon the reckless eyes of the man
beside him as they listened together to its insistent call. Tom said,
gently, almost timidly:
"You have an--engagement?"
This time the answer came briskly. "Yes; I promised to take Fanchon to
the cemetery before breakfast, to place some flowers on the grave of the
little brother who died. This happens to be his birthday."
It was Tom who averted his eyes, not Crailey.
"Then you'd best hurry," he said, hesitatingly; "I mustn't keep you," and
went downstairs to his office with flushed cheeks, a hanging head, and an
expression which would have led a stranger to believe that he had just
been caught in a lie.
He went to the Main Street window, and seated himself upon the ledge, the
only one in the room not too dusty for occupation; for here, at this hour,
Tom had taken his place every morning since Elizabeth Carewe had come from
the convent. The window was a coign of vantage, commanding the corner of
Carewe and Main streets. Some distance west of the corner, the Catholic
church cast its long shadow across Main Street, and, in order to enter the
church, a person who lived upon Carewe Street must pass the corner, or
else make a half-mile detour and approach from the other direction--which
the person never did. Tom had thought it out the first night that the
image of Miss Betty had kept him awake--and that was the first night Miss
Carewe spent in Rouen--the St. Mary's girl would be sure to go to mass
every day, which was why the window-ledge was dusted the next morning.
The glass doors of the little corner drug-store caught the early sun of
the hot May morning and became like sheets 0f polished brass; a farmer's
wagon rattled down the dusty street; a group of Irish waitresses from the
hotel made the boardwalk rattle under their hurried steps as they went
toward the church, talking busily to one another; and a blinking youth in
his shirt-sleeves, who wore the air of one newly, but not gladly, risen,
began to struggle mournfully with the shutters of Madrillon's bank. A
moment later, Tom heard Crailey come down the stairs, sure of foot and
humming lightly to himself. The door of the office was closed; Crailey
did not look in, but presently appeared, smiling, trim, immaculate, all in
white linen, on the opposite side of the street, and offered badinage to
the boy who toiled at the shutters.
The bell had almost ceased to ring when a lady, dressed plainly in black,
but graceful and tall, came rapidly out of Carewe Street, turned at the
corner by the little drug-store, and went toward the church. The boy was
left staring, for Crailey's banter broke off in the middle of a word.
He overtook her on the church steps, and they went in together.
That afternoon Fanchon Bareaud told Tom how beautiful her betrothed had
been to her; he had brought her a great bouquet of violets and lilies-of-
the-valley, and had taken her to the cemetery to place them on the grave
of her baby brother, whose birthday it was. Tears came to Fanchon's eyes
as she spoke of her lover's goodness, and of how wonderfully he had talked
as they stood beside the little grave.
"He was the only one who remembered that this was poor tiny Jean's
birthday!" she said, and sobbed. "He came just after breakfast and asked
me to go out there with him."
The Room in the Cupola
Mr. Carewe returned, one warm May afternoon, by the six o'clock boat,
which was sometimes a day late and sometimes a few hours early; the latter
contingency arising, as in the present instance, when the owner was
aboard. Nelson drove him from the wharf to the bank, where he conferred
briefly, in an undertone, with Eugene Madrillon; after which Eugene sent a
note containing three words to Tappingham Marsh. Marsh tore up the note,
and sauntered over to the club, where he found General Trumble and
Jefferson Bareaud amicably discussing a pitcher of cherry bounce.
"He has come," said Tappingham, pleased to find the pair the only
occupants of the place. "He saw Madrillon, and there's a session to-
"Praise the Lord!" exclaimed the stout General, rising to his feet. "I'll
see old Chenoweth at once. My fingers have the itch."
"And mine, too," said Bareaud. "I'd begun to think we'd never have a go
with him again."
"You must see that Crailey comes. We want a full table. Drag him, if you
can't get him any other way."
"He won't need urging," said Jefferson.
"But he cut us last time."
"He won't cut tonight. What hour?"
"Nine," answered Tappingham. "It's to be a full sitting, remember."
"Don't fear for us," laughed Trumble.
"Nor for Crailey," Jefferson added. "After so long a vacation you
couldn't keep him away if you chained him to the court-house pillars; he'd
tear `em in two!"
"Here's to our better fortunes, then! said the old soldier, filling a
glass for Tappingham; and, "Here's to our better fortunes!" echoed the
young men, pouring off the gentle liquor heartily. Having thus made
libation to their particular god, the trio separated. But Jefferson did
not encounter the alacrity of acceptance he expected from Crailey, when he
found him, half an hour later, at the hotel bar. Indeed, at first, Mr.
Gray not oniy refused outright to go, but seriously urged the same course
upon Jefferson; moreover, his remonstrance was offered in such evident
good faith that Bareaud, in the act of swallowing one of his large doses
of quinine, paused with only half the powder down his throat, gazing,
nonplussed, at his prospective brother-in-law.
"My immortal soul!" he gasped. "Is this Crailey Gray? What's the
"Nothing," replied Crailey, quietly. "Only don't go, you've lost enough."
"Well, you're a beautiful one!" Jefferson exclaimed, with an incredulous
laugh. "You're a master hand; you, to talk about losing enough!"
"I know, I know," Crailey began, shaking his head, "but--"
"You've promised Fanchon never to go again, and you're afraid Miss Betty
will see or hear us, and tell her you were there."
"I don't know Miss Carewe."
"Then you needn't fear; besides, she'll be out when we come, and asleep
when we go. She will never know we've been in the house."
"That has nothing to do with it," said Crailey, impatiently; and he was
the more earnest because he remembered the dangerous geography of the
Carewe house, which made it impossible for anyone to leave the cupola-room
except by the long hall which passed certain doors. "I will not go, and
what's more, I promised Fanchon I'd try to keep you out of it hereafter."
"Lord, but we're virtuous!" laughed the incredulous Jefferson. "I'll come
for you at a quarter to nine."
"I will not go, I tell you."
Jefferson roared. "Yes, you will. You couldn't keep from it if you
tried!" And he took himself off, laughing violently, again promising to
call for Crailey on his way to the tryst, and leaving him still warmly
protesting that it would be a great folly for either of them to go.
Crailey looked after the lad's long, thin figure with an expression as
near anger as he ever wore. "He'll go," he said to himself.
"And--ah, well--I'll have to risk it! I'll go with him, but only to try
and bring him away early-- that is, as early as it's safe to be sure that
they are asleep downstairs. And I won't play. No, I'll not play; I'll
He paid his score and went out of the hotel by a side door. Some distance
up the street, Bareaud was still to be seen, lounging homeward in the
pleasant afternoon sunshine, he stopped on a corner and serenely poured
another quinine powder into himself and threw the paper to a couple of
pigs who looked up from the gutter maliciously.
"Confound him!" said Crailey, laughing ruefully. "He makes me a
missionary--for I'll keep my word to Fanchon in that, at least! I'll look
after Jefferson tonight. Ah, I might as well be old Tom Vanrevel, indeed!"
Meanwhile, Mr. Carewe had taken possession of his own again. His daughter
ran to the door to meet him; she was trembling a little, and, blushing and
smiling, held out both her hands to him, so that Mrs. Tanberry vowed this
was the loveliest creature in the world, and the kindest.
Mr. Carewe bowed slightly, as to an acquaintance, and disregarded the
At that, the blush faded from Miss Betty's cheeks; she trembled no more,
and a salutation as icy as her father's was returned to him. He bent his
heavy brows upon her, and shot a black glance her way, being, of course,
immediately enraged by her reflection of his own manner, but he did not
speak to her.
Nor did he once address her during the evening meal, preferring to honor
Mrs. Tanberry with his conversation, to that diplomatic lady's secret
anger, but outward amusement. She cheerfully neglected to answer him at
times, having not the slightest awe of him, and turned to the girl
instead; indeed, she was only prevented from rating him soundly at his own
table by the fear that she might make the situation more difficult for her
young charge. As soon as it was possible, she made her escape with Miss
Betty, and they drove away in the twilight to pay visits of duty, leaving
Mr. Carewe frowning at his coffee on the veranda.
When they came home, three hours later, Miss Betty noticed that a fringe
of illumination bordered each of the heavily curtained windows in the
cupola, and she uttered an exclamation, for she had never known that room
to be lighted.
"Look!" she cried, touching Mrs. Tanberry's arm, as the horses trotted
through the gates under a drizzle of rain, "I thought the room in the
cupola was empty. It's always locked, and when I came from St. Mary's he
told me that old furniture was stored there."
Mrs. Tanberry was grateful for the darkness. "He may have gone there to
read," she answered, in a queer voice. "Let us go quietly to bed, child,
so as not to disturb him."
Betty had as little desire to disturb her father as she had to see him;
therefore she obeyed her friend's injunction, and went to her room on tip-
toe. The house was very silent as she lit the candles on her bureau.
Outside, the gentle drizzle and the soothing tinkle from the eaves were
the only sounds; within, there was but the faint rustle of garments from
Mrs. Tanberry's room. Presently the latter ceased to be heard, and a
wooden moan of protest from the four-poster upon which the good lady
reposed, announced that she had drawn the curtains and wooed the rulers of
Although it was one of those nights of which they say, "It is a good night
to sleep," Miss Betty was not drowsy. She had half-unfastened one small
sandal, but she tied the ribbons again, and seated herself by the open
window. The ledge and casement framed a dim oblong of thin light from the
candles behind her, a lonely lustre, which crossed the veranda to melt
shapelessly into darkness on the soggy lawn. She felt a melancholy in the
softly falling rain and wet, black foliage that chimed with the sadness of
her own spirit. The night suited her very well, for her father's coming
had brought a weight of depression with it. Why could he not have spoken
one word to her, even a cross one? She knew that he did not love her,
yet, merely as a fellow-being, she was entitled to a measure of courtesy;
and the fact that she was his daughter could not excuse his failure to
render it. Was she to continue to live with him on their present terms?
She had no intention to make another effort to alter them; but to remain
as they were would be intolerable, and Mrs. Tanberry could not stay
forever, to act as a buffer between her and her father. Peering out into