Part 3 out of 7
then, and upon her cheeks. "You see--I can't--But, Katie--I want
_you_ to be safe. I want you to be _safe_. You don't know what it
means--to be safe."
With that she passed swiftly from her room.
Katie sat brooding over it for some time. "If you've been in danger," she
concluded, "you think it beautiful to be 'safe.' But if you've never been
anything but 'safe'--" Her smile finished that.
But Katie was more in earnest than her manner of treating herself might
indicate. To be safe seemed to mean being shielded from life. She had
always been shielded from life. And now she was beginning to feel that
that same shielding had kept her from knowledge of life, understanding of
it. Katie was disturbingly conscious of a great deal going on around her
that she knew nothing about. Ann wished her to be 'safe'; yet it was Ann
who had brought a dissatisfaction with that very safety. It was Ann had
stirred the vague feeling that perhaps the greatest danger of all was in
being too safe.
Katie felt an acute humiliation in the idea that she might be living in a
dangerous age and knowing nothing of the danger. She would rather brave
it than be ignorant of it. Indeed braving it was just what she was keen
for. But she could not brave it until she found it.
She would find it.
But the next afternoon she went over to the city with Ann and found
nothing more dangerous than a forlorn little stray dog.
It was evident that he had never belonged to anybody. It was written all
over his thin, squirming little yellow body that he was Nobody's
dog--written just as plainly as the name of Somebody's dog would be
written on a name-plate on a collar.
And it was written in his wistful little watery eyes, told by his
unconquerable tail, that with all his dog's heart he yearned to be
So he thought he would try Miss Katherine Wayneworth Jones.
She had a number of errands to do, and he followed her from place to
She saw him first when she came out from the hair-dresser's. He seemed
to have been waiting for her. His heart was too experienced in being
broken for him to dance around her with barks of joy, but he stood a
little way off and wigglingly tried to ingratiate himself, his eyes
looking love, and the longing for love.
Impulsively Katie stooped down to him. "Poor little doggie, does he
want a pat?"
He fairly crouched to the sidewalk in his thankfulness for the pat, his
tail and eyes saying all they could.
Then she saw that he was following her. "Don't come with me, doggie," she
said; "please don't. You must go home. You'll get lost."
But in her heart Katie knew he would not get lost, for to be so
unfortunate as to be lost presupposed being so fortunate as to have a
home. And she knew that he was of the homeless. But because that was so
terrible a thing to face, between him and her she kept up that pretense
of a home.
When she came out from the confectioner's he was waiting for her again, a
little braver this time, until Katie mildly stamped her foot and told him
to "Go back!"
At the third place she expostulated with him. "Please, doggie, you're
making me feel so badly. Won't you run along and play?"
The hypocrisy of that left a lump in her throat as she turned from him.
When she found him waiting again she said nothing at all, but began
talking to Ann about some flowers in a window across the street.
Ann had seemed to dislike the dog. She would step away when Katie stopped
to speak to him and be looking intently at something else, as if trying
not to know that there were such things as homeless dogs.
Watts was waiting for them with the station wagon when they had finished
their shopping. After they had gone a little way Katie, in the manner of
one doing what she was forced to do, turned around.
He was coming after them. He had not yet fallen to the ranks of those
human and other living creatures too drugged in wretchedness to make a
fight for happiness. Nor was he finding it a sympathetic world in which
to fight for happiness. At that very moment a man crossing the street was
giving him a kick. He yelped and crouched away for an instant, but his
eyes told that the real hurt was in the thought of losing sight of the
carriage that held Katie Jones. As he dodged in and out, crouching always
before the possible kick, she could read all too clearly how harassed he
was with that fear.
They were approaching the bridge. The guard on the bridge would foil that
quest. He would not permit a forlorn little yellow dog to seek happiness
by following members of an officer's family across the Government bridge.
Probably in the name of law and order he would kick him, as the other man
had done; the dog's bleared little eyes, eyes through which the love
longing must look, would cast one last look after the unattainable, and
then, another hope gone, another promise unrealized, he would return
miserably back to his loveless world, but always--
"Watts," said Katie sharply, "stop a moment, please. I want to get
Ann was sitting very straight, looking with great absorption up the river
when Katie got back in the carriage with her dog. Her face was pale, and,
it seemed to Katie, hard. She moved as far away from the dog as she
could--her mouth set.
He sat just where Katie put him on the floor, trembling, and looking up
at her with those asking eyes.
When they were almost home Ann spoke. "You can't take in all the homeless
dogs of the world, Katie."
"I don't know that that's any reason for not taking in this one," replied
"I hate to have you make yourself feel badly," Ann said tremulously.
"Why shouldn't I let myself feel badly?" demanded Katie roughly. "In a
world of homeless dogs, why shouldn't I feel badly?"
They made a great deal of fun of Katie's dog. They named him "Pet."
Captain Prescott wanted to know if she meant to exhibit him at a bench
show and mention various points he was sure would excite attention.
"What I hate, Katie," said Wayne, "is the way he cringes. None of that
cringing about Queen."
"And why not?" she demanded hotly. "Because Queen was never kicked.
Because Queen was never chased down alleys by boys with rocks and tin
cans. Because Queen never asked for a pat and got a cuff. Nor did Queen's
mother. Queen hasn't a drop of kicked blood in her. This sorry little dog
comes from a long line of the kicked and the cuffed. And then you blame
_him_ for cringing. I'm ashamed of you, Wayne!"
He was about to make laughing retort, but Katie's cheeks were so red, her
eyes so bright, that he refrained and turned to Ann with: "Katie was
always great for taking in all kinds of superfluous things."
"Yes," said Ann, "I know."
"And she always takes her outcasts so very seriously."
"Yes," agreed Ann.
"The trouble is, she can't hope to make them over."
"No," admitted Ann, "she can't do that."
"And then she breaks her heart over their forlorn condition."
"Yes," said Ann.
"These wretched things exist in the world, but Katie only makes her own
life wretched in trying to do anything about them. She can't reach far
enough to count, so why make herself unhappy?"
"Katie doesn't look at it that way," replied Ann, and turned away.
After the others had gone Katie committed her new dog to Worth. "Honey,
will you play with him sometimes? I know he's not as nice to play with as
the puppies, but maybe that's because nobody ever did play with him. The
things that aren't nice about him aren't his fault, Worthie, so we
mustn't be hard on him for them, must we? The reason he's so queer acting
is just because he never had anybody to love him."
Worth was so impressed that he not only accepted the dog himself but
volunteered to say a good word for him to Watts.
But a little later he brought back word that Watts said the newcomer was
an ornery cur--that he was born an ornery cur--that he was meant to be an
ornery cur, and never would be anything but an ornery cur.
"Watts is what you might call a conservative," said Katie.
And not being sure how a conservative member of the United States Army
would treat a canine child of the alley, Katie went herself to the stable
that night to see that the newcomer was fed and made to feel at home.
He did not appear to be feeling at all at home. He was crouching in his
comfortable corner just as dejectedly as he would crouch in the most
miserable alley his native city afforded.
He came, thankfully but cringingly, out to see Katie. "Doggie," said she,
"don't be so apologetic. I don't like the apologetic temperament. You
were born into this world. You have a right to live in it. Why don't you
assert your right?"
His answer was to look around for the possible tin can.
Watts had approached. "Begging your pardon, Miss Jones, but he's the
ungrateful kind. There's no use trying to do anything for that kind. He's
deservin' no better than he gets. He snapped at one of our own pups
"I suppose so," said Kate. "I suppose when you spend your life asking for
pats and getting kicks you do get suspicious and learn to snap. It seems
too bad that little dogs that want to be loved should have to learn to
snarl. You see, Watts, he's had a hard life. He's wandered up and down a
world where nobody wanted him. He's spent his days trying now this one,
now that. 'Maybe they'll take me,' he thinks; his poor little heart warms
at the thought that maybe they will. He opens it up anew every day--opens
it for a new wound. And now that he's found somebody to say the kind word
he's still expecting the surly one. His life's shut him out from
life--even though he wants it. It seems to me rather sad, Watts."
Watts was surveying him dubiously. "That kind is deserving what they get.
They couldn't have been no other way. And beggin' your pardon, Miss
Jones, but it's not us that's responsible for his life."
"Isn't it?" said Katie. "I wonder."
Watts not responding to the suggestion of the complexity of
responsibility, she sought the personal. "As a favor to me, Watts, will
you be good to the little dog?"
"As a favor to _you_, Miss Jones," said Watts, making it clear that for
"Watts," she asked, "how long have you been in the service?"
"'Twill be five years in December, Miss Jones."
"Re-enlistment must mean that you like it."
"I've no complaint to offer, Miss Jones. Of course there are sometimes a
few little things--"
"Why did you enter the army, Watts?"
"A man has to make a living some way, Miss Jones."
Katie was thinking that she had not asked for an apology.
"And yet I presume you could make more in some other way. Working in
these shops, for instance."
"There's nothin' sure about them," said Watts.
"The army's certain. And I like things to move on decent and orderly
like. For one that's willing to recognize his betters, the service is a
good place, Miss Jones."
"But I suppose there are some not willing to recognize their betters,"
"There's all too many such," said Watts. "All too many nowadays thinks
they're just as good as them that's above them."
"But you never feel that way, so you are contented and like the
"Yes, Miss. It suits me well enough, Miss Jones. I'm not one to think I
can make over the world. There's a fellow workin' up here at the point I
sometimes have some conversation with. I was up there to-night at
sundown--me and the little boy. Now there's a man, Miss, that don't know
his place. He's a trouble-maker. He said to me tonight--"
But as Watts was there joined by a fellow-soldier Katie said: "Thank you
for looking out for the poor little dog, Watts," and turned reluctantly
to the house.
She would like to have remained; she would like to have talked with the
other soldier and found out why he entered the service and what he
thought of it. She was possessed of a great desire to ask people
questions, find out why they had done what they did and what they thought
about things other people were doing. Her mind was sending out little
shoots in all directions and those little shoots were begging for food
She wished she might have a long talk with the "trouble-maker." She
would like to talk about dogs who had lived in alleys and dogs that had
been reared in kennels, about soldiers who were willing to recognize
their betters and soldiers who thought they were as good as some above
them. She would like to talk about Watts. Watts was the son of an old
English servant. It was in Watts' blood to "recognize his betters." Was
that why he could be moved to no sense of responsibility about stray
dogs? Was that why he was a good man for the service and had no
ambitions as civilian?
And Ann--she would like to talk to the boat-mending trouble-maker about
Ann: Why Ann, whom one would expect to find sympathetic with the
homeless, should be so hard and so queer about forlorn little stray
dogs. Oh the world was just full of things that Katie Jones wanted to
talk about that night!
When she reached the house she found that she had just received a
package by special messenger. She tore off the outer wrapper and on the
inner was written in red ink: "Danger." Murmuring some inane thing about
its being her shoes, she ran with the package to her room. For a young
woman who had all her life received packages of all kinds she was
It held three books. One of them was about women who worked. There
were pictures of girls working in factories and in different places.
One was something about evolution, and one was on socialism. And there
was a pamphlet about the United States Army, and another pamphlet
She looked for a name in the books, but found none. The fly-leaves had
been torn out.
She was not sorry; she was just as glad to go on thinking of her
trouble-maker as the man who mended the boats. There was something
freeing about keeping him impersonal.
But in the book about women she found an envelope addressed: "To one
looking for trouble."
This was what was type-written on the single sheet it contained:
"Here are a couple of books warranted to disturb one's peace of mind.
They are marked danger as both warning and commendation. It is absolutely
guaranteed that one will not be so pleased with the world--and with one's
self--after reading them. There is more--both books and danger--where
they came from."
It was signed: "One who loves to lead adventurous souls into
It was two o'clock when Katie turned off her light that night.
Perhaps after all it was neither the dog nor the literature, but the
heat. For the heat of that next day was the kind to prey through
countries of make-believe. It oppressed every one, but Ann it seemed
to excite, as if it stirred memories in their sleep. "Don't fight
heat, Ann," Katie finally admonished, puzzled and disturbed by the way
Ann kept moving about. "The only way to get ahead of the heat is to
give up to it."
"Can you always do what you want to do?" Ann demanded with a touch of
petulance. "Isn't there ever something makes you do things you know
aren't the things to do?"
"Oh, dear me, yes," laughed Kate. "But you're simply your own worst enemy
when you try to get ahead of the heat."
"I don't know how you're going to help being your own worst enemy,"
She picked some leaves from the vines and threw them away, purposelessly;
she made the cat get out of a chair and sat down in it herself, only to
get up again and pile all the magazines in a different way, not
facilitating anything by the change. Then, after walking the length of
the veranda, she stood there looking at Katie: Katie in the coolest and
coolest-looking of summer dresses, leaning back in a cool-looking
chair--adjusting herself to things as they were, poised, victorious in
Then Ann said a strange thing. "A hot day's just nothing but a hot day to
you, is it?"
The words themselves said less than the laugh which followed them--a
laugh which carried both envy and resentment, which at once admired and
accused, a laugh straight from the girl they were trying to ignore.
And pray what was a hot day to her, Katie wondered. What _was_ a hot
day--save a hot day? But as she watched Ann in the next few moments she
seemed to be surveying a figure oppressed less by heat than by that to
which the heat laid her open. It seemed that the hot day might stand for
the friction and the fretting of the world, for things which closed in
upon one as heat closed in, bore down as heat bore down. As Ann pushed
back the hair from her forehead it seemed she would push back the weight
of the years.
It was at that moment that Caroline Osborne, richest and most prominent
girl of the vicinity, stepped from her motor car.
Katie had met her a few nights before at the dance. And Wayne knew her
father--a man of many interests. It was his quarrel with the forest
service that had brought her cousin Fred Wayneworth there. Fred was not
one of his admirers.
"Isn't this heat distressing?" was her greeting, though she had succeeded
in keeping herself very fresh and sweet looking under the distress.
As Katie turned to introduce the two girls she saw that Ann was pulling
at her handkerchief nervously. Was it irritating to have people for whom
hot days were but hot days call heat distressing?
"Though one always has a breeze motoring," she took it up. "There are so
many ways in which automobiles make life more bearable, don't you find it
so, Miss Jones?"
Katie replied, inanely--Ann was still pulling at her handkerchief--that
they were indispensable, of course, though personally she was so fond of
Yes, Miss Osborne loved horses too. Indeed it was army people had taught
her to ride; once when she visited at Fort Riley--she had spent a month
there with Mrs. Baxter. Katie knew her?
Oh, yes, Katie knew her, and almost all the rest of the army people whom
Miss Osborne told of adoring. Of a common world, they were not long
strangers. They came together through a whole network of associations.
Finally they reached South Carolina and concluded they must be
related--something about Katie's grandmother and Miss Osborne's
Katie, in the midst of her interest turning instinctively to include
Ann, was curiously arrested. Ann was sitting a little apart. And there
seemed so poignant a significance in her sitting apart. It was an order
of things from which she sat apart. The network went too far back, too
deep down; it was too intricate for either sympathy or ingenuity to
shape it at will.
Though Katie tried. For Katie, enough that she was sitting apart, and
consciously. Leaving grandmothers and great-aunts in a sadly unfinished
state she was lightly off into a story of something which had once
happened to her and Ann in Rome.
But Ann was as an actor refusing to play her part. Perhaps she was too
resentfully conscious of its being but a part--of her having no approach
save through a part. For the first time she failed in that adaptability
which had always made the stories plausible. In the midst of her tale
Katie met Ann's eyes, and faltered. They were mocking eyes.
As best she could she turned the conversation to local affairs, for Miss
Osborne was looking curiously at Miss Jones' unresponsive friend.
And as Ann for the first time seemed deliberately--yes, maliciously to
fail--Katie for the first time felt out of patience, and injured. Perhaps
the heat was enervating, but was that sufficient reason for embarrassing
one's hostess? Perhaps it did make her think of hard things, but was that
any reason for failing in the things that made all this possible? It was
not appreciative, it was not kind, it did not show the right spirit,
Katie told herself as she listened, with what she was pleased to consider
both atoning and rebuking graciousness, to the plans for Miss Osborne's
"It is for the working girls, especially the lower class of working
girls, who are in the factories. For instance, the candy factory girls. I
am especially interested in that as father owns the candy factory--it is
a pet side issue of his. You can see it from here, across the river
there on the little neck of land. You see? The girls are just beginning
to come from work now."
The three girls looked across the river, where groups of other girls were
quitting a large building. They could be seen but dimly, but even at that
distance something in the prevalent droop suggested that they, too, had
found the day "distressingly warm."
"I hadn't realized," said Katie, "that making candy was such serious
"It couldn't have been very pleasant today," their guest granted, "but I
believe it is regarded a very good place to work."
The book Katie had been reading the night before had shown her the value
of facts when it came to judging places where women worked, and she was
moved to the blunt inquiry: "How much do those girls make?"
"About six dollars a week, I believe," Miss Osborne replied.
Katie watched them: the long dim line of girls engaged in preparation of
the sweets of life. She was wondering what she would have thought it
worth to go over there and work all day. "Then each of those girls made a
dollar today?" she asked, and her inflection was curious.
"Well--no," Miss Osborne confessed. "The experienced and the skillful
made a dollar."
"And how much," pressed Katie, "did the least experienced and
"Fifty cents, I believe," replied Miss Osborne, seeming to have less
enthusiasm when the scientific method was employed.
There was a jarring sound. The girl "sitting apart" had pushed her chair
still farther back. "You call that a good place to work?" She addressed
it to Miss Osborne in voice that scraped as the chair had scraped.
"Why yes, as places go, I believe so. Though that is why I am giving the
garden party. They do need more pleasure in their lives. It is one of the
under-lying principles of life--is it not?--that all must have their
Ann laughed recklessly. Miss Osborne looked puzzled; Katie worried.
"And we are organizing this working girl's club. We think we can do a
great deal through that."
"Oh yes, help them get higher wages, I suppose?" Katie asked innocently.
"N--o; that would scarcely be possible. But help them to get on better
with what they have. Help them learn to manage better."
Again Ann laughed, not only recklessly but rudely. "That is surely a
splendid thing," she said, and the voice which said it was high-pitched
and unsteady, "helping a girl to 'manage better' on fifty cents a day!"
"You do not approve of these things?" Miss Osborne asked coldly.
And with all the heat Katie felt herself growing suddenly cold as she
heard Ann replying: "Oh, if they help you--pass the time, I don't
suppose they do any harm."
"You see," Katie hastened, "Miss Forrest and I were once associated with
one of those things which wasn't very well conducted. I fear
"Evidently," was Miss Osborne's reply.
"Though to be sure," Kate further propitiated, resentment at having to do
so growing with the propitiation, "that is very narrow of us. I am sure
your club will be quite different. We may come to the garden party?"
Katie followed her guest to her car. "I am hoping it will be cooler
soon," she said. "My friend is here to grow stronger, and this heat is
quite unnerving her."
Miss Osborne accepted it with polite, "I trust she will soon be much
better. Yes, the heat is trying."
Katie did not return to Ann, but sat at the head of the steps, looking
across the river.
She was genuinely offended. She knew nothing more unpardonable than to
embarrass one's hostess. She grew hard in contemplation of it. Nothing
A few girls were still coming from the candy factory. Miss Osborne's car
had crossed the bridge and was speeding toward her beautiful home up the
river--just the home for a garden party. The last group of girls, going
along very slowly, had to step back for the machine to rush by.
Katie forgot her own grievance in wondering about those girls who had
waited for the Osborne car to pass.
She knew where Miss Osborne was going, where and how she lived; she was
wondering where the girls not enjoying the breeze always to be found in
motoring were going, what they would do when they got there, and what
they thought of the efforts to help them "manage better" on their dollar
or less a day.
It made her rise and return to Ann.
Ann, too, was looking across the river at the girls who had given Miss
Osborne right of way. Two very red spots burned in Ann's cheeks and her
eyes, also, were feverish.
"I suppose I shouldn't have spoken that way to your friend," she began,
but less contritely than defiantly.
Katie flushed. She had been prepared to understand and be kind. But
she was not equal to being scoffed at, she who had been so
"It was certainly not very good form," she said coolly.
"And of course that's all that matters," said Ann shrilly. "It's just
good form that matters--not the truth."
"Oh I don't see that you achieved any great thing for the truth, Ann.
Anyhow, rudeness is no less rude when called truth."
"Garden parties!" choked Ann.
"I am not giving the garden party, Ann," said Katie long-sufferingly. "I
was doing nothing more than being civil to a guest--against rather
"You were pretending to think it was lovely. But of course that's
Her perilously bright eyes had so much the look of an animal pushed into
a corner that Katie changed. "Come, Ann dear, let's not quarrel with each
other just because it has been a disagreeable day, or because Caroline
Osborne may have a mistaken idea of doing good--and I a mistaken idea of
being pleasant. I promised Worth a little spin on the river before
dinner. You'll come? It will be cooling."
"My head aches," said Ann, but the tension of her voice broke on a sob.
"If you don't mind--I'll stay here." She looked up at her in a way which
remotely suggested the look of that little dog the day before, "Katie, I
don't mean you. When I say things like that--I don't mean _you_. I
mean--I suppose I mean--the things back of you. All those things--"
She stopped, but Katie did not speak. "You see," said Ann, "there are two
worlds, and you and I are in different ones."
"I don't believe in two worlds," said Katie promptly. "It's not a
democratic view of things. It's all one world."
"Your Miss Osborne and the fifty cents a day girls--all one world? I am
afraid," laughed Ann tremulously, "that even the 'underlying principles
of life' would have a hard time making _them_ one."
Even on the river it was not yet cool. Day had burned itself too deeply
upon the earth for approaching night to hold messages for even its
favorite messenger. Katie was herself at the steering wheel, and alone
with Worth and Queen. She had learned to manage the boat, and much to the
disappointment of Watts and the disapproval of Wayne sometimes went about
on the river unattended. Katie contended that as a good swimmer and not a
bad mechanic she was entitled to freedom in the matter. She held that to
be taken about in a boat had no relation to taking a boat and going about
in it; that when Watts went her soul stayed home.
Tonight, especially, she would have the boat for what it meant to self;
for to Katie, too, the sultry day had become more than sultry day. The
thing which pressed upon her seemed less humidity than the consciousness
of a world she did not know. It was not the heat which was fretting her
so much as that growing sense of limitations in her thought and
She wondered what the man who mended the boats would say about Ann's
She suspected that he would agree with Ann, and then proceeded to work
herself into a fine passion at his agreeing with Ann against her. "That
silly thing of two worlds is fixed up by people who can't get along in
the one world," said she. "And that childish idea of one world is clung
to by people who don't know the real world," retorted the trouble-maker.
To either side of the river were factories. Katie had never given much
thought to factories beyond the thought that they disfigured the
landscape. Now she wondered what the people who had spent that hot day in
the unsightly buildings thought about the world in general--be it one
world or two.
Worth had come up to the front of the boat. The day had weighed upon him
too, for he seemed a wistful little boy just then.
She smiled at him lovingly. "What thinking about, Worthie dear?"
"Oh, I wasn't thinking, Aunt Kate," he replied soberly. "I was just
"You too?" she laughed.
"And what would you say, Worthie," she asked after they had gone a little
way in silence, "was the difference between thinking and wondering?"
Worth maturely crossed his knees as a sign of the maturity of the
subject. "Well, I don't know, 'cept when you think you know what you're
thinking about, and when you wonder you just don't know anything."
"Maybe you wonder when you don't know what to think," Katie suggested.
"Yes, maybe so. There's more to wonder about than there is to think
about, don't you think so, Aunt Kate?"
"I wonder," she laughed.
"You do wonder, don't you, Aunt Kate? You wonder more than you think."
She flashed him a keen, queer look.
"Worth," she asked, after another pause in which the mind of twenty-five
and the mind of six were wondering in their respective fashions, "do you
know anything about the underlying principles of life?"
"The what, Aunt Kate?"
"Underlying principles of life," she repeated grimly.
"Why no," he acknowledged, "I guess I never heard of them."
"I never did either, till just lately. I want to find out something about
them. Do you know, Worthie dear, I'd go a long way to find out something
"Where would you have to go, Aunt Kate? Could you go in a boat?"
"No, I fear you couldn't go in a boat. Trouble is," she murmured, more to
herself than to him, "I don't know where you _would_ go."
"Don't Papa know 'bout them?"
"I sometimes think he would like to learn."
"Papa knows all there is to know 'bout guns and powders," defended
"Yes, I know; but I don't believe guns and powders have any power to get
you to these underlying principles of life."
"Well, what _does_ get you there?" demanded her companion of the
She laughed. "I don't know, dear. I honestly don't know. And I'd like to
know. Perhaps some time I will meet some one who is very wise, and then
I'll ask whether it is experience, or wisdom, or sympathy. Whether some
people are born to get there and other people not, or just how it is."
"Watts says you have more sympathy than wisdom, Aunt Kate."
"You mustn't talk about me to Watts," she admonished spiritedly. Then in
the distance she heard a mocking voice insinuatingly inquiring: "But why
not, if it's all one world?"
"But he said," Worth added, "that it shouldn't be held against you,
'cause of course you never had half a chance. No, it wasn't Watts said
that, either. It was the man that mends the boats. It was Watts said you
was a yard wide."
Katie's head had gone up; she was looking straight ahead, cheeks red.
"Indeed! So it's the man that mends the boats says these hateful things
about me, is it?"
"Why no, Aunt Kate; not hateful things. He says he's sorry for you. Why,
he says he don't know anybody more to be pitied than you are."
"Well--_really!_ I must say that of all the insolent
"He says you would have amounted to something if you'd had half a chance.
But he's afraid you never will, Aunt Kate."
"I do not wish to hear anything more about him," said Aunt Kate
haughtily. "Now, or at any future time."
But it was not five minutes later she asked, with studied indifference:
"Pray what does this absurd being look like?"
"What being, Aunt Kate?" innocently inquired the being who was
"Why this sympathetic gentleman!"
"Oh, I don't know. He's just a man. Sometimes he wears boots. He's real
nice, Aunt Kate."
"Oh I'm sure he must be charming!"
She turned toward home, more erect, attending to her duties with a
dignified sense of responsibility.
The glare of day had gone, but without bringing the cool of night. It
made the world seem very worn. Little by little resentment slipped away
and she had joined the man who mended the boats in pitying herself. She
was disposed to agree with him that she might have amounted to something
had she had half a chance. No one else had ever thought of her amounting
to anything--amounting, or not amounting. They had merely thought of her
as Katie Jones. And certainly no one else had ever pitied her. It made
the man who mended the boats seem a wise and tender being. As against the
whole world she felt drawn to his large and kindly understanding.
Excitement had suddenly seized Worth. "Aunt Kate--Aunt Kate!" he cried
peremptorily, pointing to a cove in one of the islands they were passing,
"please land there!"
"Why no, Worth, we can't land. It's too hard. And why should we?"
"Oh Aunt Kate--please! Oh please!"
She was puzzled. "But why, Worthie?"
"Cause I want you to. Don't you love me 't all any more, Aunt Kate?"
That was too much. He was suddenly just a baby who had been made to
suffer for her grown-up disturbances. "But, dearie, what will you do
when we land?"
"I want to look for something. I've got to get something. I want to show
you something. 'Twon't take but a minute."
"What do you want to show me, dear?"
"Why I can't tell you, Aunt Kate. It's a surprise. It's a
beautifulest surprise. Something I want to show you just because I
love you, Aunt Kate."
Katie's eyes brooded over him. "Dear little chappie, and Aunt Kate's a
cross mean old thing, isn't she?"
"Not if she'll stop the boat," said crafty Worth.
She laughed and surveyed the shore. It looked feasible. "I'm very
'easy,' Worth. Just don't get it into your head all the world is as
easy as I am."
The little boy and the dog were out before she had made her landing. They
were running through the brush. "Worth," she called, "don't go far. Don't
go out of sound."
"No," he called back excitedly, "'tain't far."
She was anxious, reproaching herself as absurd and rash, and was just
attempting to ground the boat and follow when Queen came bounding back.
Then came Worth's voice: "Here 'tis! Here's Aunt Kate--waiting for you!"
Next there emerged from the brush a flushed and triumphant little boy,
and after him came a somewhat less flushed and less obviously
Her first emotion was fury at herself. She must be losing her mind not to
Then the fury overflowed on Worth and his companion. It reached
high-water mark with the stranger's smile.
And there dissolved; or rather, flowed into a savage interest, for the
smile enticed her to mark what manner of man he was. And as she looked,
the interest shed the savagery.
His sleeves were rolled up; he had no hat, no coat. He had been working
with something muddy. A young man, a large man, and strong. The first
thing which she saw as distinctive was the way his smile lived on in
his eyes after it had died on his lips, as if his thought was smiling
at the smile.
Even in that first outraged, panic-stricken moment Katie Jones knew she
had never known a man like that.
"Here he is, Aunt Kate!" cried her young nephew, dancing up and down.
"This is him!"
It was not a presentation calculated to set Katie at ease. She sought
refuge in a frigid: "I beg pardon?"
But that was quite lost on Worth. "Why, Aunt Kate, don't you know him?
You said you'd rather see him than anybody now living! Don't you know,
Aunt Kate--the man that mends the boats?"
It seemed that in proclaiming their name for him Worth was shamelessly
proclaiming it all: her conversations, the intimacy to which she had
admitted him, her delight in him--yes, _need_ of him. "But I thought,"
she murmured, as if in justification, "that you had a long white beard!"
And so she had--at times; then there had been other times when he had no
beard at all--but just such a chin.
"I am sorry to be disappointing," the stranger replied--with his
voice. With his eyes--it became clear even in that early moment that
his eyes were insurgents--he said: "I don't take any stock in that
long white beard!" Then, as if fearing his eyes had overstepped:
"Perhaps you have visions of the future. A long white beard is a gift
the years may bring me."
"You can just ask him anything you want to, Aunt Kate," Worth was
brightly assuring her. "I told him you wanted to know about the under
life--the under what it is of life. You needn't be 'fraid of him, Aunt
Kate; you know he's the man's so sorry for you. He knows all about
everything, and will tell you just everything he knows."
"Quite a sweeping commendation," Katie found herself murmuring
foolishly--and in the imaginary conversations she had talked so
brilliantly! But when one could not be brilliant one could always find
cover under dignity. "If you will get in the boat now, Worth," she said,
"we will go home."
But Worth, serene in the consciousness of having accomplished his
mission, was sending Queen out after sticks and did not appear to
And suddenly, perhaps because the hot day had come to mean so much more
than mere hot day, the feeling of being in a ridiculous position,
together with that bristling sense of the need of a protective dignity,
fell away. It became one of those rare moments when real things matter
more than things which supposedly should matter. She looked at him to
find him looking intently at her. He was not at all slipshod as
inspector. "Why are you sorry for me?" she asked. "What is there about
me to pity?"
He smiled as he surveyed her, considering it. Even people for whom
smiling was difficult must have smiled at the idea of pitying Katie
Jones--Katie, who looked so much as if the world existed that she might
have the world.
But he looked with a different premise and saw a deeper thing. The world
might exist for her enjoyment, but it eluded her understanding. And that
was beginning to encroach upon the enjoyment.
She seemed to follow, and her divination stirred a singular emotion,
possibly a more turbulent emotion than Katie Jones had ever known.
"It's all very well to pity me, but it's not a genuine pity--it's a
jeering one. If you're going to pity me, why don't you do it sincerely
instead of scoffingly? Is it my fault that I don't know anything about
life? What chance did I ever have to know anything real? I wasn't
educated. I was 'accomplished.' Oh, of course, if I had been a big
person, a person with a real mind--if I had had anything exceptional
about me--I would have stepped out. But I'm nothing but the most ordinary
sort of girl. I haven't any talents. Nobody--myself included--can see any
reason for my being any different from the people I'm associated with. I
was brought up in the army. Army life isn't real life. It's army life. To
an army man a girl is a girl, and what they mean by a girl has nothing to
do with being a thinking being. Then what business has a man like you--I
don't know who you are or what you're doing, but I believe you have some
ideas about the real things of life--tell me, please--what business have
you jeering at me?"
"I have no business jeering at you," he said quickly, simply and
But Katie had changed. He had a fancy that she would always be changing;
that she was not one to rest in outlived emotions, that one mood was
always but the making and enriching of another mood, moment ever flowing
into moment, taking with it the heart of the moment that had gone. "You
are quite right to pity me," she said, and tears surged beneath both eyes
and voice. "Whether scoffingly or genuinely--you were quite right.
Feeling just enough to feel there _is_ something--but not a big enough
feeling to go to that something, knowing just enough to know I'm being
cheated, but without either the courage or the knowledge to do anything
about it--I'm surely a pitiable and laughable object. Come, Worth," she
said sharply, "we're going home."
But Worth had begun upon the construction of a raft, and was not in a
home-going mood. Thus encouraged by his young friend the man who mended
the boats sat down on a log.
"When did you begin to want to know about the 'underlying principles of
life'?" His smile quoted it, though less mockingly than tenderly.
Katie was silent.
"Was it the day _she_ came?" he asked quietly.
She gasped. Was he--a wizard? But looking at him and seeing he looked
very much more like a man than like anything else, she met him as man
should be met. "The day who came? I don't know what you mean."
"The girl. Was it the day you took her in? Saved her by making her
She was too startled by that for pretense. She could only stare at him.
"I saw her before you did," he said.
She looked around apprehensively. The man who mended the boats knowing
about Ann? Was the whole world losing its mind just because it had been
such a hot day?
But the world looking natural enough, she turned back to him. "I don't
understand. Tell me, please."
As he summoned it, he changed. She had an impression of all but the
central thing falling away, leaving his spirit exposed. And a thought or
a vision gripped that spirit, and he tightened under it as a muscle
When he turned to her, taking her in, self-consciousness fell away. There
was no place for it.
"You want to hear about it?" he asked.
"As a matter of fact, it's nothing, as facts go. Only an impression. Yet
an impression that swore to facts. Perhaps you know that she came on the
Island from the south bridge?"
Katie shook her head. "I know nothing, save that suddenly she was there."
That held him. "And knowing nothing, you took her in?"
She kept silence, and he looked at her, dwelling upon it. "And you," he
said softly, "don't know anything about the 'underlying principles of
life'? Perhaps you don't. But if we had more you we'd have no her."
She disclaimed it. "It wasn't that way--an understanding way. I didn't do
it because I thought it should be done; because I wanted to--do good.
I--oh, I don't know. I did it because I wanted to do it. I did it because
I couldn't help doing it."
That called to him. He seemed one for whom ideas were as doors, ever
opening into new places. And he did not shut those doors, or turn from
them, until he had looked as far as he could see.
"Perhaps," he saw now, "that is the way it must come. Doing it because
you can't help doing it. It seems wonderful enough to work the wonder."
"Work what wonder?" Katie asked timidly.
"The wonder of saving the world."
He spoke it quietly, but passion, the passion of the visioner, leaped to
his eyes at sound of what he had said.
Katie looked about at so much of the world as her vision afforded:
Prosperous factories--beautiful homes--hundreds of other homes less
beautiful, but comfortable looking--some other very humble homes which
yet looked habitable, the beautifully kept Government island in between
the two cities, seeming to stand for something stable and unifying--far
away hills and a distant sky line--a steamboat going through the splendid
Government bridge, automobiles and carriages and farm wagons passing over
that bridge--this man who mended the boats, this young man so live that
thoughts of life could change him as a sculptor can change his clay--dear
little Worth who was happily building a raft, the beautiful dog lying
there drawing restoration from the breath of the water--"But it doesn't
look as though it needed 'saving,'" said Katie.
He shook his head. "You're looking at the framework. Her eyes that day
brought word from the inside. To one knowing--"
He broke off, looking at her as though seeing her from a new angle.
He thought it aloud. "You've walked sunny paths, haven't you? You never
had your soul twisted. Life never tried to wring you out of shape. And
yet--oh there's quite a yet," he finished more lightly.
"But you were telling me of Ann," Katie felt she must say.
"Yes, and when I've finished telling you, you'll go back to your sunny
paths, won't you? Please don't hurry me. I can tell it better if I think
I'm not being hurried."
She smiled openly. "I am in no hurry." There was a sunny rim trying all
the while to pierce the somber thing which drew them together. Little
rays from the sunny paths would dart daringly in to the dark place from
which Ann rose.
It made him wonder how far she of the sunny paths could penetrate an
unlighted country. He looked at her--peered at her, fairly--trying to
decide. But he could not decide. Katie baffled him on that.
"I wonder," he voiced it, "where it's going to lead you? I wonder if
you're prepared to go where it may lead you? Have you thought of that?
Perhaps it's going to take you into a country too dark for you of the
sunny paths. She may be called back. You know we are called back to
countries where we have--established a residence. You might have to go
with her to settle a claim, or break a tie, or pull some one else out
that she might not be pulled back in. Then what? Perhaps you might feel
you needed a guide. If so,"--he went boldly to the edge of it, then
halted, and concluded with a boyishly bashful humor--"will you keep my
application on file?"
Katie was not going to miss her chance of finding out something. "I
should want a guide who knew the territory," she said.
"I qualify," he replied shortly, with a short, unmirthful laugh. "That is
one advantage of not having spent one's days on sunny paths." His voice
on that was neither bashful nor boyish.
"But you must have spent some of them on sunny paths," she urged, with
more feeling than she would have been able to account for. "You don't
look," Katie added almost shyly, "as if you had grown in the dark."
He did not reply. He looked so much older when sternness set his face,
leaving no hint of that teasing gleam in his eyes, that pleasing little
humorous twist of his mouth.
Gently her voice went into the dark country claiming him then. "But you
were telling me of my friend."
It brought him out, wondering anew. "Your friend! There you go again! How
can you expect me to stick to a subject when paths open out on all sides
of you like that? But I'll try to quit straying. It happened that on that
day, just at that time, I was going under the south bridge. I chanced to
look up. A face was bending down. Her face. Our eyes met--square. I _got_
it--flung to me in that one look. What the world had done to her--what
she thought of it for doing it--what she meant to do about it.
"I wish," he went on, with a slow, heavy calm, "that the 'good' men and
women of the world--those 'good' men and women who eat good dinners and
sleep in good beds--some of the 'God's in heaven all's well with the
world' people--could have that look wake them up in the middle of the
night. I'd like to think of them turning to the wall and trying to shut
it out--and the harder they tried the nearer and clearer it grew. I'd
like to think of them sitting up in bed praying God--the God of 'good'
folks--to please make it stop. I'd like to have it haunt them--dog
them--finally pierce their brains or souls or whatever it is they have,
and begin to burrow. I'd like to have it right there on the job every
time they mentioned the goodness of God or the justice of man, till
finally they threw up their hands in crazed despair with, 'For God's
sake, what do you want _me_ to do about it!'"
He had scarcely raised his voice. He was smiling at her. It was the smile
led her to gasp: "Why I believe you hate us!"
"Why I really believe I do," he replied quietly, still smiling.
Suddenly she flared. "That's not the thing! You're not going to set the
world right by hating the world. You're not going to make it right for
some people by hating other people. What good thing can come of hate?"
"The greatest things have come of hate. Of a divine hate that
"Why no they haven't! The greatest things have come of love. What the
world needs is more love. You can't bring love by hating."
He seemed about to make heated reply, but smiled, or rather his smile
became really a smile as he said: "What a lot of things you and I would
find to talk about."
"We must--" Katie began impetuously, but halted and flushed. "We must go
on with our story," was what it came to.
"I haven't any story, except just the story of that look. Though it holds
the story of love and hate and a hundred other things you and I would
disagree about. And I don't know that I can convey to you--you of the
sunny paths--what the look conveyed to me. But imagine a crowd, a crazed
crowd, all pushing to the center, and then in the center a face thrown
back so you can see it for just an instant before it sinks to
suffocation. If you can fancy that look--the last gasp for breath of one
caught--squeezed--just going down--a hatred of the crowd that got her
there, just to suffocate her--and perhaps one last wild look at the hills
out beyond the crowd. If you can get _that_--that fear, suffocation,
terror--and don't forget the hate--yet like the dog you've kicked that
grieved--'How could you--when it was a pat I wanted!'--"
"I know it in the dog language," said Katie quiveringly.
"Then imagine the dog crazed with thirst tied just out of reach of a
leaping, dancing brook--"
"Oh--please. That's too plain."
"It hurts when applied to dogs, does it?" he asked roughly.
"But they're so helpless--and they love us so!"
"And _they're_ so helpless--and they hate because they weren't let love."
"But surely there aren't many--such looks. Not many who feel
they're--going down. Why such things couldn't _be_--in this
"Such," he said smilingly, "has ever been the philosophy of sunny paths."
"You needn't talk to me like that!" she retorted angrily. "I guess I saw
the look as well as you did--and did a little more to banish it than you
"True. I was just coming to that thing of my not having done anything.
Perhaps it was a case of fools rushing in where angels feared to
tread. You mustn't mind being called a fool in any sentence so
preposterous as to call me an angel. You see one who had never been in
the crowd would say--'Why don't you get out?' It would be droll,
wouldn't it, to have some one on a far hill call--'But why don't you
come over here?' Don't you see how that must appeal to the sense of
humor of the one about to go down?"
She made no reply. The thing that hurt her was that he seemed to enjoy
"You see I've been in the crowd," he said more simply and less bitterly.
"I don't suppose men who have been most burned to death ever say--'The
fire can't hurt you.'"
"And do they never try to rescue others from fires?" asked Katie
scornfully. "Do they let them burn--just because they know fire for a
"Rescue them for what? More fires? It's a question whether it's very
sane, or so very humane, either, to rescue a man from one fire just to
have him on hand for another."
"I don't think I ever in my life heard anything more farfetched,"
pronounced Katie. "How do you know there'll be another?"
"Because there are people for whom there's nothing else. If you can't
offer a safe place, why rescue at all? Though it's true," he laughed,
"that I hadn't the courage of my convictions in the matter. After that
look--oh I haven't been able to make it live--burn--as it did--she passed
on the Island, the guard evidently thinking she was with some people who
had just got out of an automobile and gone on for a walk. And suddenly I
was corrupted, driven by that impulse for saving life, that beautiful
passion for keeping things alive to suffer which is so humorously
grounded in the human race."
He stopped with a little laugh. Watching him, Katie was thinking one need
have small fear of his not always being "corrupted." There was a light in
his eyes spoke for "corruption."
"I saw her making straight across the Island," he went back to his story.
"I _knew_. And I knew that on the other side she might find things very
conveniently arranged for her purpose. I turned the boat and went at its
best speed around the head of the Island. Hugged the shore on your side.
Pulled into a little cove. Waited."
He looked at Katie, comparing her with an _a priori_ idea of her. "I saw
you sitting up there in the sun--on the bunker. Just having received the
last will and testament, as it were, of this other human soul, can't you
fancy how I hated you--sitting there so serenely in the sun?"
"But why hate me?" she demanded passionately. "That's where you're small
and unjust! I don't make the crazed crowds, do I?"
"Yes; that's just what you do. There'd be no crowds if it weren't for
you. You take up too much room."
"I don't see why you want to--hurt me like that," she said unevenly.
"Don't you want me to enjoy my place any more? Will it do any good for me
to get in the crowd? What can I do about it?"
Looking into her passionately earnest face it was perhaps the gulf
between the girl and his _a priori_ idea of her brought the smile--a
smile no kin to that hard smile of his. And looking with a different
slant across the gulf there was a sort of affectionate roguery in his
eyes as he asked: "Do you want to know what I honestly think about you?"
"I think you're in for it!"
"In for what?"
"I don't think you've the ghost of a chance to escape!" he gloated.
"Seeing. And when you do--!" He laughed--that laugh one thinks of as the
exclusive possession of an affectionate understanding. And when it died
to a smile, something tenderly teasing flickered in that smile.
She flushed under it. "You were telling me--we keep stopping."
"Yes, don't we? I wonder if we always would."
"We keep stopping to quarrel."
"Yes--to quarrel. I wonder if we always would."
"I haven't a doubt of it in the world," said Katie feelingly, and they
laughed together as friends laugh together.
"Well, where did I leave myself? Oh yes--waiting. Sitting there busily
engaged in hating you. Then she came across the grass--making straight
for the river--running. I saw that you saw, and the thing that mattered
to me then was what you would do about it. Saved or not saved, she was
gone--I thought. The crowd had squeezed it all out of her. The live thing
to me was what you--the You of the world that you became to me--would do
He paused, smiling at that absurd and noble vision of Katie tumbling down
the bunker. "And when you did what you did do--it was so treacherously
disarming, the quick-witted humanity, the clever tenderness of it--I
loved you so for it that I just couldn't go on hating. There's where
you're a dangerous person. How dare you--standing for the You of the
world--dampen the splendid ardor of my hate?"
Katie did not let pass her chance. "Perhaps if the Me of the world were
known a little more intimately it would be less hated."
He shook his head. "They just happened to have you. They can't keep you."
There was another one of those pauses which drew them so much closer
than the words. She knew what he was wondering, and he knew that she
knew. At length she colored a little and called him back to the greater
reserve of words.
"I saw how royally you put it through. I could see you standing there on
the porch, looking back to the river. I've wanted several things rather
badly in my life, but I doubt if I've ever wanted anything much worse
than to know what you were saying. And then with my own two eyes I saw
the miracle: Saw her--the girl who had just had all the concentrated
passion of the Her of the world--turn and follow you into the house. It
was a blow to me! Oh 'twas an awful blow."
"Why a blow?"
"In the first place that you should want to, and then that you should
be able to. My philosophy gives you of the sunny paths no such desire
"Showing," she deduced quickly and firmly, "that your philosophy is
"Oh no; showing that the much toasted Miss Katherine Jones is too big for
mere sunny paths. Showing that she has a latent ambition to climb a
mountain in a storm."
Fleetingly she wondered how he should know her for the much toasted Miss
Katherine Jones, but in the center of her consciousness rose that
alluring picture of climbing a mountain in a storm.
"Tell me how you did it."
"Why--I don't know. I had no method. I told her I needed her."
"And afterwards, in a different way, I told her that again. And I
did. I do."
"Why do you need her? How do you need her?" he urged gently.
She hesitated. Her mouth--her splendid mouth shaped by stern or tender
thinking to lines of exquisite fineness or firmness--trembled slightly,
and the eyes which turned seriously upon him were wistful. "Perhaps,"
said Katie, "that even on sunny paths one guesses that there are such
things as storms in the mountains."
It was only his eyes which answered, but the fullness of the response
ushered them into a silence in which they rested together
"I sat there watching the house," he went back to it after the moment. "I
was sure the girl would come out again. 'She'll bungle it,' I said to
myself. 'She'll never be able to put it through.' But time passed--and
she did not come out!"--inconsistently enough that came with a ring of
triumph. "And then the next day--after the wonder had grown and grown--I
saw her driving with you. I was just off the head of the Island. She was
turned toward me, looking up the river. Again I saw her eyes, and in them
that time I read _you_. And I don't believe," he concluded with a little
laugh, "that my stock of hate can ever be quite so secure again."
They talked on, not conscious that it was growing late. Time and place,
and the conventions of time and place, seemed outside. She let him in
quite freely: to that edge of fun and excitement as well as to the
strange and somber places. It was fun sharing fun with him; and something
in his way of receiving it suggested that he had been in need of sharing
some one's fun. He had a way of looking at her when she laughed that had
vague suggestion of something not far from gratitude.
But the fun light, and that other light which seemed wanting to thank
her for something, went from his eyes, leaving a glimmer of something
deeper as he asked: "But you've never asked for her story? You've
"Why no," said Katie; "only that I should be proud if she ever felt I
He turned his face a little away. One looking into it then would not have
given much for his stock of hate.
Worth had approached. "Ain't you getting awful hungry, Aunt Kate?"
It recalled her, and to embarrassment. "We must go at once," she
"Did you find out all you wanted to know from him, Aunt Kate?" he asked,
getting in the boat.
She transcended her embarrassment. "No, Worth. Only that there is a very
great deal I would like to know."
He was standing ready to push her boat away. She did not give the word.
As she looked at him she had a fancy that she was leaving him in a lonely
place--she who was going back to what he called the sunny paths. And not
only did she feel that he was lonely, but she felt curiously lonely
herself, sitting there waiting to tell him to push her away. She wanted
to say, "Come and see me," but she was too bound by the things to which
she was returning to put it in the language of those things. And so she
said, and the new shyness brought its own sweetness:
"You tell me to come to you if I need a guide. Thank you for that. I
shall remember. And perhaps sunshine is a thing that soaks in and can be
stored up, and given out again. If it ever seems I can be of any use--in
any way--will you come where you know you can find me?"
Her eyes fell before the things which had leaped to his.
Two hours later she found herself alone on the porch with Captain
A good deal had happened in the meantime.
Mrs. Prescott had arrived during Katie's absence, a stop-over of two
weeks having been shortened to two hours because of the illness of her
friend. Her room at her son's quarters being uninhabitable because of
fresh paint, Wayne had insisted she come to them, and she was even then
resting up in Ann's room, or rather the room which had been put at her
disposal, a bed having been arranged for Ann in Katie's room. Had Katie
been at home she would have planned it some other way, for above all
things she did not want it to occur to Ann that she was in the way. But
Katie had been very busy talking to the man who mended the boats, and
naturally it would not occur to Wayne that Ann would be at all sensitive
about giving up her room for a few days to accommodate a dear old friend
of theirs. And perhaps she was not sensitive about it, only this was no
time, Katie felt, to make Ann feel she was crowding any one.
And in Katie's absence "Pet" had been shot. Pet had not seemed to realize
that alley methods of defense were not in good repute in the army. He
could not believe that Pourquoi and N'est-ce-pas had no guile in their
hearts when they pawed at him. Furthermore, he seemed to have a
prejudice against enlisted men and showed his teeth at several of them.
Katie began to explain that that was because--but Wayne had curtly cut
her short with saying that he didn't care why it was, the fact that it
was had made it impossible to have the dog around. If one of the men had
been bitten by the contemptible cur Katie couldn't cauterize the wound
with the story of the dog's hard life.
The only bright spot she could find in it was that probably Watts had
taken a great deal of pleasure in executing Wayne's orders--and Caroline
Osborne said that all needed pleasure.
She saw that Ann's hands were clenched, and so had not pursued the
Katie was not in high favor with her brother that night. He said it was
outrageous she should not have been there to receive Mrs. Prescott. When
Katie demurred that she would have been less outrageous had she had the
slightest notion Mrs. Prescott would be there to be received, it
developed that Wayne was further irritated because he had come to take
Ann out for a boat ride--and Katie had gone in the boat--heaven only knew
where! Then when Katie sought to demolish that irritation with the
suggestion that just then was the most beautiful time of day for the
river--and she knew it would do Ann good to go--Wayne clung manfully to
his grievance, this time labeling it worry. He forbade Katie's going any
more by herself. It was preposterous she should have stayed so long. He
would have been out looking for her had it not been that Watts had been
able to get a glimpse of the boat pulled in on the upper island.
Katie wondered what else Watts had been able to get a glimpse of.
Wayne was so bent on being abused (hot days affected people differently)
that the only way she could get him to relinquish a grievance for a
pleasure was to put it in the form of a duty. Ann needed a ride on the
river, Katie affirmed, and so they had gone, Wayne doing his best to
cover his pleasure.
"Men never really grow up," she mused to Wayne's back. "Every so often
they have to act just like little boys. Only little boys aren't half so
apt to do it."
Though perhaps Wayne had been downright disappointed at not having the
boat for Ann when he came home. Was he meaning to deliver that lecture on
the army? She hoped that whatever he talked about it would bring Ann home
without that strained, harassed look.
And now Katie was talking to Captain Prescott and thinking of the man who
mended the boats. Captain Prescott was a good one to be talking to when
one wished to be thinking of some one else. He called one to no dim,
She was thinking that in everything save the things which counted most
he was not unlike this other man--name unknown. Both were well-built,
young, vigorous, attractive. But life had dealt differently with them,
and they were dealing differently with life. That made a difference big
as life itself.
From the far country in which she was dreaming she heard Captain
Prescott talking about girls. He was talking sentimentally, but even his
sentiment opened no vistas.
And suddenly she remembered how she had at one time thought it possible
she would marry him. The remembrance appalled her; less in the idea of
marrying him than in the consciousness of how far she had gone from the
place where marrying him suggested itself to her at all.
Life had become different. This showed her how vastly different.
But as he talked on she began to feel that it had not become as different
to him as to her. He had not been making little excursions up and down
unknown paths. He had remained right in his place. That place seemed to
him the place for Katie Jones.
As he talked on--about what he called Life--sublimely unconscious of the
fences all around him shutting out all view of what was really life--it
became unmistakable that Captain Prescott was getting ready to propose
to her. She had had too much experience with the symptoms not to
Katie did not want to be proposed to. She was in no mood for dealing
with a proposal. She had too many other things to be thinking of,
But she reprimanded herself for selfishness. It meant something to him,
whether it did to her or not. She must be kind--as kind as she could.
The kindest thing she could think of was to keep him from proposing. To
that end she answered every sentimental remark with a flippant one.
It grieved, but did not restrain him. "I had thought you would understand
better, Katie," he said.
Something in his voice made her question the kindness of her method.
Better decline a love than laugh at it.
He talked on of how he had, at various times, cared--in a way, he
said--for various girls, but had never found the thing he knew was fated
to mean the real thing to him; Katie had heard it all before, and always
told with that same freedom from suspicion of its ever having been said
before. But perhaps it was the very fact that it was familiar made her
listen with a certain tenderness. For she seemed to be listening, less to
him than to the voice of by-gone days--all those merry, unthinking days
which in truth had dealt very kindly and generously with her.
She had a sense of leaving them behind. That alone was enough to make her
feel tenderly toward them. Even a place within a high-board fence,
intolerable if one thought one were to remain in it, became a kindly and
a pleasant spot from the top of the fence. Once free to turn one's face
to the wide sweep without, one was quite ready to cast loving looks back
at the enclosure.
And so she softened, prepared to deal tenderly with Captain Prescott,
as he seemed then, less the individual than the incarnation of
It was into that mellowed, sweetly melancholy mood he sent the
"And so, Katie, I wanted to talk to you about it. You're such a good
pal--such a bully sort--I wanted to tell you that I care for Ann--and
want to marry her."
She dropped from the high-board fence with a jolt that well-nigh knocked
"I suppose," he said, "that you must have suspected."
"Well, not exactly suspected," said Katie, feeling her bumps, as it were.
Her first emotion was that it was pretty shabby treatment to accord one
who was at such pains to be kind. It gave one a distinctly injured
feeling--getting all sweet and mellow only to be dashed to the ground and
let lie there in that foolish looking--certainly foolish feeling heap!
But as soon as she had picked herself up--and Katie was too gamey to be
long in picking herself up--she wondered what under heaven she was going
to do about things! What had she let herself in for now! The pains of an
injured dignity--throb of a pricked self love--were forgotten in this
real problem, confronting her. She even grew too grave to think about how
funny it was.
For Katie saw this as genuinely serious.
"Harry," she asked, "have you said anything to your mother?"
"Well, not _said_ anything," he laughed.
"But she knows?"
"Mother's keen," he replied.
"I once thought I was," was Katie's unspoken comment.
"And have you--you are so good as to confide in me, so I presume to ask
questions--have you said anything to Ann?"
"No, not _said_ anything," he laughed again.
"But _she_ knows?"
"I don't know. I wondered if you did."
"No," said Katie, "I don't. Truth is I've been so wrapped up in my own
affairs--some things I've had on my mind--that I haven't been thinking
about people around me falling in love."
"People are always falling in love," he remarked sentimentally. "One
should always be prepared for that."
"So it seems," replied Katie. "And yet one is not always--entirely
She had picked herself up from her fall, but she was not yet able to walk
very well. Fortunately he was too absorbed in his own happy striding to
mark her hobbling.
A young man talking of his love does not need a brilliant
conversationalist for companion.
And he was a young man in love--that grew plain. Had Katie ever seen such
eyes? And as for the mouth--though perhaps most remarkable of all was the
voice. Just what did it make Katie think of? He enumerated various things
it made him think of, only to express his dissatisfaction with them all
as inadequate. Had Katie ever seen any one so beautiful? And with such
an adorable shy little way? Had Katie ever heard her say anything about
him? Did she think he had any chance? Was there any other fellow? Of
course there must have been lots of other fellows in love with her--a
girl like that--but had she cared for any of them? Would Katie tell him
something about her? She had been reserved about herself--the kind of
reserve a fellow wouldn't try to break through. Would Katie tell him of
her life and her people? Not that it made any difference with him--oh, he
wanted just her. But his mother would want to know--Katie knew how
mothers were about things like that. And he did want his mother to like
her. Surely she would. How could she help it?
She wondered if Ann knew him for a young man in love. Katie's heart
hardened against Ann at the possibility. That would not be playing a fair
game. Ann was not in position to let Katie's friends fall in love with
her. Katie had not counted on that.
"Have you any reason," she asked, "to think Ann cares for you?"
He laughed happily. "N--o; only I don't think it displeases her to have
me say nice things to her." And again he laughed.
Then Ann had encouraged him. A girl had no business to encourage a man to
say nice things to her when she knew nothing could come of it.
But Katie's memory there nudged Katie's primness; memory of all the
men who had been encouraged to say nice things to Katie Jones, even
when it was not desirable--or perhaps even possible--that anything
could "come of it."
But of course that was different. Ann was in no position to permit nice
things being said to her.
"Katie," he was asking, "where did you first meet her? How did you come
to know her? Can't you tell me all about it?"
There came a mad impulse to do so. To say: "I first met her right down
there at the edge of the water. She was about to commit suicide. I don't
know why. I think she was one of those 'Don't You Care' girls you admired
in 'Daisey-Maisey.' But I'm not sure of even that. I didn't want her to
kill herself, so I took her in and pretended she was a friend of mine. I
made the whole thing up. I even made up her name. She said her name was
Verna Woods, but I think that's a made-up name, too. I haven't the
glimmering of an idea what her real name is, who her people are, where
she came from, or why she wanted to kill herself."
First, bitter reproaches for Katie. She would be painted as having
violated all the canons.
For the first time, watching her friend's face softened by his dreams,
seeing him as his mother's son, she questioned her right to violate them.
She did not know why she had not thought more about it before. It had
seemed such a _joke_ on the people in the enclosure. But it was not going
to be a joke to hurt them. Was that what came of violating the canons?
Was the hurt to one's friends the punishment one got for it?
"You can't cauterize the wounds with the story of the dog's hard life,"
Wayne had said of poor little unpetted--and because unpetted,
Was Watts the real philosopher when he said "things was as they was"?
She was bewildered. She was in a country where she could not find her
way. She needed a guide. Her throat grew tight, her eyes hot, at thought
of how badly she needed her guide.
Then, perhaps in self-defense, she saw her friend Captain Prescott, not
as a victim of the violation of canons, but as a violator of them
himself. She turned from Ann's past to his.
"Harry," she asked, in rather metallic voice, "how about that affair of
yours down in Cuba?"
He flushed with surprise and resentment. "I must say, Katie," he said
stiffly, "I don't see what it has to do with this."
"Why, I should think it might have something to do with it. Isn't there a
popular notion that our pasts have something to do with our futures?"
"It's all over," he said shortly.
"Then you would say, Harry, that when things are over they're over. That
they needn't tie up the future."
"Certainly not," said he, making it clear that he wanted that phase of
the conversation "over."
"It's my own theory," said Katie. "But I didn't know whether or not it
was yours. Now if I had had a past, and it was, as you say yours is,
all over, I shouldn't think it was any man's business to go poking
around in it."
"That," he said, "is a different matter."
"What's a different matter?" she asked aggressively.
"A woman's past. That would be a man's business."
"Though a man's past is not a woman's business?"
"Oh, we certainly needn't argue that old nonsense. You're too much the
girl of the world to take any such absurd position, Katie."
"Of course, being what you call a 'girl of the world' it's absurd I
should question the man's point of view, but I can't quite get the logic
of it. You wouldn't marry a woman with a past, and yet the woman who
marries you is marrying a man with one."
"I've lived a man's life," he said. And he said it with a certain pride.
"And perhaps she's lived a woman's life," Katie was thinking. Only the
woman was not entitled to the pride. For her it led toward
self-destruction rather than self-approval.
"It's this way, Katie," he explained to her. "This is the difference. A
woman's past doesn't stay in the past. It marks her. Why I can tell a
woman with a past every time," he concluded confidently.
Katie sat there smiling at him. The smile puzzled him.
"Now look here, Katie, surely you--a girl of the world--the good
sort--aren't going to be so melodramatic as to dig up a 'past' for
me, are you?"
"No," said Katie, "I don't want to be melodramatic. I'll try to dig up
His talk ran on, and her thoughts. It seemed so cruel a thing that Ann's
past--whatever it might be, and surely nothing short of a "past" could
make a girl want to kill herself--should rise up and damn her now. To him
she was a dear lovely girl--the sort of a girl a man would want to marry.
Very well then, intrinsically, she _was_ that. Why not let people _be_
what they were? Why not let them be themselves, instead of what one
thought they would be from what one knew of their lives? It was so easy
to see marks when one knew of things which one's philosophy held would
leave marks. It seemed a fairer and a saner thing to let human beings be
what their experiences had actually made them rather than what one
thought those experiences would make them.
Captain Prescott had blighted a Cuban woman's life--for his own pleasure
and vanity. With Ann it may have been the press of necessity, or it may
have been--the call of life. Either one, being driven by life, or drawn
to it, seemed less ignominious than trifling with life.
Why would it be so much worse for Captain Prescott to marry Ann than it
would be for Ann to marry Captain Prescott?
The man who mended the boats would back her up in that!
Through her somber perplexity there suddenly darted the sportive idea of
getting Ann in the army! The audacious little imp of an idea peeped
around corners in Katie's consciousness and tried to coquet with her.
Banished, it came scampering back to whisper that Ann would not bring the
army its first "past"--either masculine or feminine. Only in the army
they managed things in such wise that there was no need of committing
suicide. Ann had been a bad manager.
But at that moment they were joined by Captain Prescott's mother and he
retired for a solitary smoke.
Mrs. Prescott made vivid and compelling those days, those things, which
Katie had a little while before had the fancy of so easily slipping away
from. She made them things which wove themselves around one, or rather,
things of which one seemed an organic part, from which one could no more
pull away than the tree's branch could pull away from the tree's trunk.
In her presence Katie was claimed by those things out of which she had
grown, claimed so subtly that it seemed a thing outside volition. Mrs.
Prescott did not, in any form, say things were as they were; it was only
that she breathed it.
How could one combat with words, or in action, that rooted so much deeper
than mere words or action?
She was a slight and simple looking lady to be doing anything so large as
stemming the tide of a revolutionary impulse. She had never lost the
girlishness of her figure--or of her hands. So much had youth left her.
Her face was thin and pale, and of the contour vaguely called
aristocratic. It was perhaps the iron gray hair rolling back from the
pale face held the suggestion of austerity. But that which best expressed
her was the poise of her head. She carried it as if she had a right to
carry it that way.
It was of small things she talked: the people she had met, people they
knew whom Katie knew. It was that net-work of small things she wove
around Katie. One might meet a large thing in a large way. But that
subtle tissue of the little things!
They talked of Katie's mother, and as they talked it came to Katie that
perhaps the most live things of all might be the dead things. Katie's
mother had not been unlike Mrs. Prescott, save that to Katie, at least,
she seemed softer and sweeter. They had been girls together in
Charleston. They had lived on the same street, gone to the same school,
come out at the same party, and Katie's mother had met Katie's father
when he came to be best man at Mrs. Prescott's wedding. Then they had
been stationed together at a frontier post in a time of danger. Wayne had
been born at that post. They had been together in times of birth and
times of death.
Mrs. Prescott spoke of Worth, and of how happy she knew Katie was to have
him with her. She talked of the responsibility it brought Katie, and as
they talked it did seem responsibility, and responsibility was another
thing which stole subtly up around her, chaining her with intangible--and
because intangible, unbreakable--chains.
Mrs. Prescott wanted to know about Wayne. Was he happy, or had the
unhappiness of his marriage gone too deep? "Your dear mother grieved so
about it, Katie," she said. "She saw how it was going. It hurt her."
"Yes," said Katie, "I know. It made mother very sad."
"I am glad that her death came before the separation."
"Oh, I don't know," said Katie; "I think mother would have been glad."
"She did not believe in divorce; your mother and I, Katie, were the
old-fashioned kind of churchwomen."
"Neither did mother believe in unhappiness," said Katie, and drew a
longer breath for saying it, for it was as if the things claiming her had
crowded up around her throat.
Mrs. Prescott sighed. "We cannot understand those things. It is a strange
age in which we are living, Katie. I sometimes think that our only hope
is to trust God a little more."
"Or help man a little more," said Katie.
"Perhaps," said Mrs. Prescott gently, "that giving more trust to God
would be giving more help to man."
"I'm not sure I get the connecting link," said Katie, more sure of
herself now that it had become articulate.
Mrs. Prescott put one of her fine hands over upon Katie's. "Why, child,
you can't mean that. That would have hurt your mother."
For the moment Katie did not speak. "If mother had understood just what I
meant--understood all about it--I don't believe it would." A second time
she was silent, as it struggled. "And if it had"--she spoke it as a thing
not to be lightly spoken--"I should be very deeply sorry, but I would
not be able to help it."
"Why, child!" murmured her mother's friend. "You're talking strangely.
You--the devoted daughter you always were--not able to 'help' hurting
Katie's eyes filled. It had become so real: the things stealing around
her, the thing in her which must push them back, that it was as if she
were hurting her mother, and suffering in the consciousness of bringing
suffering. Memory, the tenderest of memories, was another thing weaving
itself around her, clinging to her heart, claiming her.
But suddenly she leaned forward. "Would I be able to _help_ being
myself?" she asked passionately.
Mrs. Prescott seemed startled. "I fear," she said, perplexed by the tears
in Katie's eyes and the stern line of her mouth, "that we are speaking of
things I do not understand."
Katie was silent, agreeing with her.
Mrs. Prescott broke the silence. "The world is changing."
And again agreeing, Katie saw that in those changes friends bound
together by dear ties might be driven far apart.
"Katie," she asked after a moment, "tell me of my boy and your friend."
There was a wistful, almost tremulous note in her voice. "You have
sympathy and intelligence, Katie. You must know what a time like this
means to a mother."
Katie could not speak. It seemed she could bear little more that night.
And she longed for time to think it out, know where she stood, come to
some terms with herself.
But forced to face it, she tried to do so lightly. She thought it just
a fancy of Harry's. Wasn't he quite given to falling in love with
His mother shook her head. "He cares for her. I know. And do you not see,
Katie, that that makes her about the biggest thing in life to me?"
Katie's heart almost stood still. She was staggered. Through her
wretchedness surged a momentary yearning to be one of those people--oh,
one of those _safe_ people--who never found the peep-holes in their
"Tell me of her, Katie," urged her mother's friend. "Harry seems to think
she means much to you. Just what is it she means to you?"
For the moment she was desperate in her wondering how to tell it. And
then it happened that from her frenzied wondering what to say of it she
sank into the deeper wondering what it _was_. What it was--what in truth
it had been all the time--Ann meant to her.
Why had she done it? What was that thing less fleeting than fancy, more
imperative than sympathy, made Ann mean more than things which had all
her life meant most?
Watching Katie, Mrs. Prescott wavered between gratification and
apprehension: pleased that that light in Katie's eyes, a finer light than
she had ever known there before, should come through thought of this
girl for whom Harry cared; troubled by the strangeness and the sternness
of Katie's face.
It was Katie herself Mrs. Prescott wanted--had always wanted. She had
always hoped it would be that way, not only because she loved Katie, but
because it seemed so as it should be. She believed that summer would have
brought it about had it not been for this other girl--this stranger.
Katie's embarrassment had fallen from her, pushed away by feeling. She
was scarcely conscious of Mrs. Prescott.
She was thinking of those paths of wondering, every path leading into
other paths--intricate, limitless. She had been asleep. Now she was
awake. It was through Ann it had come. Perhaps more had come through Ann
than was in Ann, but beneath all else, deeper even than that warm
tenderness flowering from Ann's need of her, was that tenderness of the
awakened spirit--a grateful song coming through an opening door.
It had so claimed her that she was startled at sound of Mrs. Prescott's
voice as she said, with a nervous little laugh: "Why, Katie, you alarm
me. You make me feel she must be strange."
"She is strange," said Katie.
"Would you say, Katie," she asked anxiously, "that she is the sort of
girl to make my boy a good wife?"
Suddenly the idea of Ann's making Harry Prescott any kind of wife
came upon Katie as preposterous. Not because she would be bringing
him a "past," but because she would bring gifts he would not know
what to do with.
"I don't think of Ann as the making some man a good wife type. I think of
Ann," she tried to formulate it, "as having gone upon a quest, as being
ever upon a quest."
"A--quest?" faltered Mrs. Prescott. "For what?"
"Life," said Katie, peering off into the darkness.
Mrs. Prescott was manifestly disturbed at the prospect of a
daughter-in-law upon a quest. "She sounds--temperamental," she said
"Yes," said Katie, laughing a little grimly, "she's temperamental
They could not say more, as Ann and Wayne were coming toward them across
And almost immediately afterward the Osborne car again stopped before the
house. It was Mr. Osborne himself this time, bringing the Leonards, who
had been dining with him. They had stopped to see Mrs. Prescott.
Katie was not sorry, for it turned Mrs. Prescott from Ann. Like the
football player who has lost his wind, she wanted a little time
But she soon found that she was not playing anything so kindly as a game
of hard and fast rules.
It seemed at first that Ann's ride had done her good. She seemed to have
relaxed and did not give Katie that sense of something smoldering within
her. Katie sat beside her, an arm thrown lightly about Ann's
shoulders--lightly but guardingly.
Neither of them talked much. Mrs. Prescott and Mrs. Leonard were
"visiting"; the men talking of some affairs of Mr. Osborne's. He was
commending the army for minding its own business--not "butting in" and
trying to ruin business the way some other departments of the Government
did. The army seemed in high favor with Mr. Osborne.
Suddenly Mrs. Leonard turned to Katie. She was a large woman, poised by
the shallow serenity of self-approval.
"I do feel so sorry for Miss Osborne," she said. "Such a shocking thing
has occurred. One of the girls at the candy factory--you know she's
trying so hard to help them--has committed suicide!"
Mrs. Prescott uttered an exclamation of horror. Katie patted the shoulder
beside her soothingly, understandingly, and as if begging for calm. Even
under her light touch she seemed to feel the nerves leap up.
Mr. Osborne turned to them. "Poor Cal, she'd better let things alone.
What's the use? She can't do anything with people like that."
"It's the cause of the suicide that's the disgusting thing," said
"Or rather," amended his wife, "the lack of cause."
"But surely," protested Mrs. Prescott, "no girl would take her life
without--what she thought was cause. Surely all human beings hold life
and death too sacred for that."
"Oh, do they?" scoffed Mrs. Leonard. "Not that class. I scarcely expect
you to believe me--I had a hard time believing it myself--but she says
she committed suicide--she left a note for her room-mate--because she
was 'tired of not having any fun!'"
The hand upon Ann's shoulder grew fairly eloquent. And Ann seemed trying.
Her hands were tightly clasped in her lap.
"Why, I don't know," said Wayne, "I think that's about one of the best
reasons I can think of."
"This is not a jesting matter, Captain Jones," said Mrs. Leonard
"Far from it," said Wayne.
"Think what it means to a girl like Caroline Osborne! A girl who is
trying to do something for humanity--to find the people she wants to
uplift so trivial--so without souls!"
"It is hard on Cal," agreed Cal's father.
"Though perhaps just a trifle harder," ventured Wayne, "on the
girl who did."