Part 4 out of 7
"Well, what did she do it for?" he demanded. "Come now, Captain, you
can't make out much of a case for her. Mrs. Leonard's word is just
right--trivial. She said she was tired of things. Tired--tired--tired of
things, she put it. Tired of walking down the same street. Tired of
hanging her hat on the same kind of a peg! Now, Captain--if you can put
up any defense for a girl who kills herself because she's tired of
hanging her hat on a certain kind of peg! Well," he laughed, "if you can,
all I've got to say is that you'd better leave the army and go in for
"Why didn't she walk down some other street," he resumed, as no one
broke the pause. "If it's a matter of life and death--a person might walk
down some other street!"
"And I've no doubt," said Captain Prescott, "that if it were known her
life, as well as her hat, hung upon it--she might have had a different
kind of peg."
"Oh, of course, the secret of it is," pronounced the Colonel, "she was a
For the first time Katie spoke. "I think it's such a fine thing we got
hold of that word. Since we've known about neurotics we can just throw
all the emotion and suffering and tragedy of the world in the one heap
and leave it to the scientists. It lets _us_ out so beautifully,
"Oh, but Katie!" admonished Mrs. Prescott. "Think of it! What is the
world coming to? Going forth to meet one's God because one doesn't like
the peg for one's hat!"
Katie had a feeling of every nerve in Ann's body leaping up in frenzy.
"_God_?" she laughed wildly. "Don't drag _Him_ into it! Do you think _He_
cares"--turning upon Mrs. Prescott as if she would spring at her--"do you
think for a minute _He_ cares--_what kind of pegs our hats are on_!"
Katie's memory of what followed was blurred. She remembered how relieved
she was when Ann's laugh--oh the memory of that laugh was clear
enough!--gave way to sobbing. Sobbing was easier to deal with. She said
something about her friend's being ill, and that they would have to
excuse them. She almost wanted to laugh--or was it cry?--herself at the
way Harry Prescott was looking from Ann to his mother. After she got Ann
in the house she went back and begged somebody's pardon--she wasn't sure
whose--and told Colonel Leonard that of course he could understand it on
the score of Ann's being a neurotic. She was afraid she might have said
that rather disagreeably. And she believed she told Mrs. Prescott--she
had to tell Mrs. Prescott something, she looked so frightened and hurt
and outraged--that Ann had a form of nervous trouble which made it
impossible for her to hear the name of God.
The hardest was Wayne. She came to him on the porch after the others had
gone--they were not long in dispersing. "Wayne," she said, "I'm sorry to
have embarrassed you."
His short, curt laugh did not reveal his mood. It was
scoffing--contemptuous--but she could not tell at what it scoffed. He had
not turned toward her.
"I'm sorry," she repeated. "Ann will be sorry. She's so--"
He turned upon her hotly. "Katie, quit lying to _me_. I know there's
something you're not telling. I've suspected it for some time. Now don't
get off any of that 'nervous trouble' talk to me!"
She stood there dumbly.
It seemed to enrage him. "Why don't you go and look after her! What do
you mean by leaving her all alone?"
So she went to look after her.
Ann looked like one who needed looking after. Her eyes were intolerably
bright. It seemed the heat behind them must put them out.
She was walking about the room, walking as if something were behind her
with a lash.
"You see, Katie," she began, not pausing in the walking--her voice,
too, as though a whip were behind it--"it was just as I told you. It
was just as I tried to tell you. There are two worlds. There's no use
trying to put me in yours. See what I bring you! See what you get for
it! See what--"
She stood still, rocking back and forth as she stood there. "It was too
much for me to hear her talking about _God!_ That was a little too much!
_My_ father was a minister!" And Ann laughed.
A minister was one thing Katie had not thought of. Even in that moment
she was conscious of relief. Certainly the ministry was respectable.
But why should it be "too much" for the daughter of a minister to hear
anything about God?
"Ann," she began quietly, "I don't want to force anything. If you want
to be alone I'll even take my things and sleep somewhere else. But, Ann,
dear, if you could tell me a little I wouldn't be so much in the dark; I
could do better for us both."
Ann did not seem to notice what she was saying. "She was tired of things!
She was tired of things! Tired of hanging her hat on the same kind of
peg! Why it's awful--it's awful, I tell you--to always be hanging your
hat on the same kind of peg!
"She was tired of not having any fun! Oh so tired of not having any fun!
Why you don't care what you do when you get tired of not having any fun!
"Then people laugh--the people who have all the fun. Oh they think it's
so funny!--the people who don't have to hang their hats on any kind of
peg. So trivial. So--what's that nervous word? Katie--you're not like the
rest of them! Why, you seem to _know_--just know without knowing."
"But it's hard for me," suggested Katie. "Trying to know--and not
Ann was still walking about the room. "I was brought up in a little town
in Indiana. You see I'm going to tell you. I've got to be doing
something--and it may as well be talking. Now how did I start? Oh yes--I
was brought up in a little town in Indiana. Until three years ago, that
was where I lived. Were you ever in a little town in Indiana?"
Katie replied in the negative.
"Maybe there are little towns in Indiana that are different. I don't
know. Maybe there are. But this one-in this one life was just one long
stretch of hanging your hat on exactly the same kind of peg!
"It was so square--so flat--so dingy--oh, so dreadful! It didn't have
anything around it--as some towns do--a hill, or a river, or woods.
Around it was something that was just nothing. It was just walled in by
the nothingness all around it.
"And the people in it were flat, and square, and dingy. And the things
around them were just nothing. They were walled in, too, by the
nothingness all around them."
Then the most unexpected of all things happened. Ann smiled. "Katie, I'd
like to have seen you in that town!"
"I'm afraid," said Katie, "that I would have invented a new kind of peg."
The smile seemed to have done Ann good. She sat down, grew more natural.
"When I try to tell about my life in that town I suppose it sounds as
though I were making a terrible fuss about things. When you think of
children that haven't any homes-that are beaten by drunken
fathers--starved--overworked-but it was the nothingness. If my father
only had got drunk!"
Katie smiled understandingly.
"Katie, you've a lot of imagination. Just try to think what it would mean
never to have what you could really call fun!"
Katie took a sweep back over her own life--full to the brim of fun. Her
imagination did not go far enough to get a real picture of life with the
fun left out.
"Oh, of course," said Ann, "there were pleasures! My father and the
people of his church were like Miss Osborne--they believed it was one of
the underlying principles of life--only they would call it 'God's
will'--that all must have pleasure. But such God-fearing pleasure! I
think I could have stood it if it hadn't been for the pleasures."
"Pleasures with the fun left out," suggested Kate.
"Yes, though fun isn't the word, for I don't mean just good times. I
"You mean the joy of living," said Katie. "You mean the loveliness of
"Yes; now your kind of religion--the kind of religion your kind of people
have, doesn't seem to hurt them any."
Katie laughed oddly. "True; it doesn't hurt us much."
"My father's kind is something so different. The love of God seems to
have dried him up. He's not a human being. He's a Christian."
Katie thought of her uncle--a bishop, and all too human a human being.
She was about to protest, then considered that she had never known the
kind of Christian--or human being--Ann was talking about.
"Everything at our church squeaked. The windows. The organ. The deacon's
shoes. My father's voice. The religion squeaked. Life squeaked.
"I'll tell you a story, Katie, that maybe will make you see how it was.
It's about a dog, and it's easy for you to understand things about dogs.
"Some one gave him to me. I suppose he was not a fine dog--not
full-blooded. But that didn't matter. _You_ know that we don't love dogs
for their blood. We love them for the way they look out of their eyes,
and the way they wag their tails. I can't tell you what this dog meant to
me--something to love--something that loved me--some one to play with--a
companion--a friend--something that didn't have anything to do with my
"He used to feel so sorry when I had to sit learning Bible verses.
Sometimes he would put his two paws up on my lap and try to push the
Bible away. I loved him for that. And when at last I could put it away he
would dance round me with little yelps of joy. He warmed something in me.
He kept something alive.
"And then one day when I came home from a missionary meeting where I had
read a paper telling how cruelly young girls were treated by their
parents in India, and how there was no joy and love and beauty in their
lives, I--" Ann hid her face and it was a drawn, grayish face she raised
after a minute--"Tono was not there. I called and called him. My father
was writing a sermon. He let me go on calling. I could not understand it.
Tono always came running down the walk, wagging his tail and giving his
little barks of joy when I came. It had made coming home seem different
from what it had ever seemed before. But that day he was not there
watching for me. My father let me go on calling for a long time. At last
he came to the door and said--'Please stop that unseemly noise. The dog
has been sent away.' 'Sent _away_?' I whispered. 'What do you mean?' 'I
mean that I have seen fit to dispose of him,' he answered. I was
trembling all over. 'What right had you to dispose of him?' I wanted to
know. 'He wasn't your dog--' The answer was that I was to go up to my
room and learn Bible verses until the Lord chastened my spirit. Then I
said things. I would _not_ learn Bible verses. I _would_ have my dog. It
ended"--Ann was trembling uncontrollably--"it ended with the rod being
unspared. God's forgiveness was invoked with each stroke."
She was digging her finger nails into her palms. Katie put her arms
around her. "I wouldn't, Ann dear--it isn't worth while. It's all over
now. Wouldn't it be better to forget?"
"No, I want to tell you. Some day I may try to tell you other things. I
want this to try to explain them. Loving dogs, you will understand
this--better than you could some other things.
"The dog had been given away to some one who lived in the country. It was
because I had played with him the Sunday morning before and had been late
Her voice was dry and hard; it was from Katie there came the exclamation
of protest and contempt.
"No one except one who loves dogs as you do would know what it meant.
Even you can't quite know. For Tono was all I had. He--"
Katie's arm about her tightened.
"I could have stood it for myself. I could have stood my own
lonesomeness. But what I couldn't stand was thinking about him. Nights I
would wake up and think of him--out in the cold--homesick--maybe
hungry--not understanding--watching and waiting--wondering why I didn't
come. I couldn't keep from thinking about things that tortured me. This
man was a deacon in my father's church. From the way he prayed, I knew he
was not one to be good to dogs.
"And then one afternoon I heard the little familiar scratch at the door.
I rushed to it, and there he was--shivering--but oh so, so glad! He
sprang right into my arms--we cried and cried together--sitting there on
the floor. His heart had been almost broken--he had grieved--_suffered_.
He wasn't willing to leave my arms; just whimpering the way one does when
a dreadful thing is over--licking my face--you know how they do--you know
how dear they are.
"Now I will tell you what I did. Holding him in my arms, my face buried
in his fur--I made up my mind. The family would be away for at least an
hour. I would give him the happiest hour I knew how to give him. One
hour--it was all I had the power to give him. Then--because I loved him
so much--I would end his life."
Katie's face whitened. "I carried out the plan," Ann went on. "I gave him
the meat we were to have had for supper. I had him do all his little
tricks. I loved him and loved him. I do not think any little dog ever
had a happier hour.
"And then--down at a house in the next block I saw my father--and the man
he had given Tono to. The man was coming to our house for supper. Our
time was up.
"I can never explain to any one the way I did it--the way I felt as I did
it. There was no crying. There was no faltering. It seemed that all at
once I understood--understood the hardness of life--that things _are_
hard--that things have _got_ to be done. Then was when it came to me that
you've got to harden yourself--that it's the only way.
"I filled a tub with water--I didn't know any other way to do it. Tono
stood there watching me. I took a bucket. I took up the dog. I hugged
him. I let him lick my face. Though I live to be very old, Katie, and
suffer very much, I can never forget the look in his eyes as I put him in
the water and held him to put down the bucket. There are things a person
goes through that make perfect happiness forever impossible. There are
hours that stay."
The face of the soldier's daughter was wet. "I love you for it, Ann," she
whispered. "I love you for it. It was strong, Ann. It was fine."
"I wasn't very strong and fine the minute it was over," sobbed Ann.
"I fainted. They found me there. And then I screamed and laughed and
said I was going to kill all the dogs in the world. I said--oh,
"They should have understood," murmured Kate.
"They didn't. They said I was wicked. They said the Evil One had entered
into me. They said I must pray God to forgive me for having killed one of
his creatures! Me--!
"Of course it ended in Bible verses. Is it so strange I _loathed_ the
Bible? And every morning I had to hear myself prayed for as a wicked girl
who would harm one of God's creatures. The Almighty was implored not to
send me to Hell. 'Send me there if you want to,' I'd say to myself on my
knees, 'Tono's not in Hell, anyway.'"
Ann laughed bitterly. "So that's why I'm a sacrilegious, blasphemous
person who doesn't care much about hearing about God. I associate Him
with thin lips that shut together tight-and people who make long
prayers and break little dogs' hearts--and with boots--and souls--that
squeak. I can't think of one single thing I ever heard about Him that
made me like Him."
"Oh, Ann dear!" protested Katie shudderingly.
"Try not to think such things. Try not to feel that way. You haven't
heard everything there is to hear about God. You haven't heard any of it
in the right way."
"Perhaps not. I only know what I have heard." And Ann's face was too
white and hard for Katie to say more.
"And your mother, dear? Where was she all this time? Didn't she love
"She died when I was twelve. She'd like to have loved me. She did some on
the sly--in a scared kind of way."
Katie sat there contemplating the picture of Ann's father and mother and
Ann--_Ann_, as child of that union.
"I think she died because life frightened her so. In a year my father
married again. _She_ isn't afraid of anything. She's a God-fearing,
exemplary woman. And she always looks to see if you have any mud on
After a moment Ann said quietly: "I hate her."
"So would I," said Katie, and it brought the ghost of a smile to Ann's
lips, perhaps thinking of just how cordially Katie would hate her.
"And then after a while you left this town?" Katie suggested as Ann
seemed held there by something.
"Yes, after a while I left." And that held her again.
"I was fifteen when I--freed Tono from life," she emerged from it. "It
was five years later that you--stopped me from freeing myself. Lots of
things were crowded into those five years, Katie--or rather into the last
three of them. I had to be treated worse than Tono was treated before it
came to me that I had better be as kind to myself as I had been to my
dog. Only I," Ann laughed, "didn't have anybody to give me a last hour!"
"But you see it wasn't a last hour, after all," soothed Katie. "Only the
last hour of the old hard things. Things that can never come back."
"Can't they come back, Katie? Can't they?"
Katie shook her head with decision. "Do you think I'd let them come
back? Why I'd shut the door in their face!"
"Sometimes," said Ann, "it seems to me they're lying in wait for me. That
they're going to spring out. That this is a dream. That there isn't any
Katie Jones. Some nights I've been afraid to go to sleep. Afraid of
waking to find it a dream. There's an awful dream I dream sometimes! The
dream is that this is a dream."
"Poor dear," murmured Katie. "It will be more real now that we've
"I used to dream a dream, Katie, and I think it was about you. Only you
weren't any one thing. You were all kinds of different things. Lovely
things. You were Something Somewhere. You were the something that was way
off beyond the nothingness of Centralia."
"The something that didn't squeak," suggested Katie tremulously.
"Something Somewhere. You were both a waking and a sleeping dream. I knew
you were there. Isn't it queer how we do--know without knowing? My father
used to talk about people being 'called.' Called to the ministry--called
to the missionary field--called to heaven. Well maybe you're called to
other things, too. Maybe," said Ann with a laugh which sobbed, "you're
even 'called' to Chicago."
The laugh died and the sob lingered. "Only when you get there--Chicago
doesn't seem to know that it had called you.
"My Something Somewhere was always something I never could catch up
with. Sometimes it was a beautiful country--where a river wound through a
woods. Sometimes it was beautiful people laughing and dancing. Sometimes
it was a star. Sometimes it was a field of flowers--all blowing back and
forth. Sometimes it was a voice--a wonderful far-away voice. Sometimes it
was a lovely dress--oh a wonderful gauzy dress--or a hat that was like
the blowing field of flowers. Sometimes--this was the loveliest of
all--it was somebody who loved me. But whatever it was, it was something
I couldn't overtake.
"And you mustn't laugh, Katie, when I tell you that the thing that made
me think I could catch up with it was a moving-picture show!
"It came to Centralia--the first one that had ever been there. I heard
the people next door talking about it. They said there were pictures of
things that really happened in the great cities--oh of kings and queens
and the president and millionaires and automobile races and grand
weddings; that the pictures went on just like the happenings went on;
that it was just as if the pictures were alive; that it was just like
"Oh, I was so excited about it! I was so excited I could hardly
"You see ever since Tono had died--two years before, I had kept that idea
that things were hard. That the thing to do was to be hard. I dreamed
about things that were lovely--the Something Somewhere things--but as far
as the real things went I never changed my mind about them. You mustn't
let them into your heart. They just wanted to get in there to hurt you.
"Now I forgot all about that. These pictures were dreams made real. They
had caught up with the Something Somewhere. And I was going to see them.
"But I didn't--not that day. I was so happy that my father suspected
something. And he got it out of me and said I couldn't go. He said that
the things that would be pictured would be the wickedness of the world.
That I was not to see it.
"But I made up my mind that I would see the wickedness of the world." Ann
paused, and then said in lower voice: "And I have--and not just in
She seemed to be meeting something, and she answered it. "But just the
same," she made answer defiantly, "I'd rather see the wickedness of the
world than stay in the nothingness of the world!
"The pictures were to be there a week. I thought of nothing else but how
I could see them. The last day there was a thimble-bee. I went to the
thimble-bee--said I couldn't stay--and went to the pictures.
"Katie, that moving-picture show was proof. Proof of the Something
Somewhere. And in my heart I made a vow--it was a _solemn_ vow--that I
would find the things that moved in the pictures.
"And there was music--such music as I had never heard before, even though
it came out of a box. They had the songs of the grand opera singers. And
as I listened--I tell you I was called!--I don't care how silly it
sounds--I was called by the voices that had sung into that box. For this
was real--if the life hadn't been there it couldn't have been caught into
the pictures and the box. It proved--I thought--that all the lovely
things I had dreamed were true. I had only to go and find them. People
were walking upon those streets. Then I could walk on those streets. And
those people were laughing--and talking to each other. Everybody seemed
to have friends. Everybody was happy! And all of that really _was_. The
pictures were alive. Alive with the things that there were out beyond the
nothingness of Centralia.
"The man played something from an opera and showed pictures of beautiful
people going into a beautiful place to listen to that very music. He said
that the very next night in Chicago those people would be going into that
place to listen to those very voices.
"Katie, I don't believe you'll laugh at me when I tell you that my teeth
fairly chattered when first it came to me that I must be one of those
people! It was something all different from the longing for fun--oh it
was something big--terrible--it _had_ to be. It was the same feeling of
its having to be that I had about Tono.
"Though probably that feeling would have passed away if it hadn't been
for my father. He came there and found me, and--humiliated me. And after
we got home--" Ann was holding herself tight, but after a moment she
relaxed to say with an attempted laugh: "It wasn't all being 'called.'
Part of it was being driven.
"Then there was another thing. The treasurer of the missionary society
came that night with some money--eighteen dollars--I was to send off the
next day. It was that money started me out to find my Something
"Oh _Ann_!" whispered Katie, drawing back. "But of course," she added,
"you paid it back just as soon as you could?"
"I _never_ paid it back! If I had eighteen _million_ dollars, I'd _never_
pay it back! I _like_ to think of not paying it back!"
Katie's face hardened. "I can't understand that."
"No," sobbed Ann, "you'd have to have lived a long time in nothingness to
understand that--and some other things, too." She looked at her
strangely. "There's more coming, Katie, that you won't be able to
Katie's face was averted, but something in Ann's voice made her turn to
her. "I think it was wrong, Ann. There's no use in my pretending I don't.
I _can't_ understand this. But maybe I can understand some of the other
things better than you think."
"I left at six o'clock the next morning," Ann went back to it when
she was calmer. "And at the last minute I don't think I would have
had the courage to go if my father hadn't been snoring so. How silly
it all sounds!
"And the only reason I got on the train was that it would have taken
more courage to go back than to go on.
"Katie, some time I'll tell you all about it. How I felt when I got to
Chicago. How it seemed to shriek and roar. How I seemed just buried
under the noise. How I walked around the streets that day--frightened
almost to death--and yet, inside the fright, just crazy about it. And
how green I was!
"Nothing seemed to matter except going to grand opera. I didn't even have
sense enough to find a place to stay. I thought about it, but didn't know
how, and anyhow the most important thing was finding the things that
moved in the pictures--and sang in the box.
"I saw a woman go up to a policeman and ask him where something was and
he told her, so I did that, too. Asked him where you went to hear grand
opera. And he pointed. I was right there by it.
"I heard some people talking about going in to get tickets. So I thought
I had better get a ticket.
"But they didn't have any. They were all gone.
"When I came out I was almost crying. Then a smiling man outside stepped
up to me and said he had tickets and he'd let me have one for ten
dollars. I was so glad he had them! Ten dollars seemed a good deal--but I
didn't think much about it.
"Then I had my ticket and just two dollars left.
"But that night at the opera I didn't know whether I had two dollars, or
no dollars, or a thousand dollars. At first I was frightened because
everybody but me had on such beautiful clothes. But soon I was too crazy
about their clothes to care--and then after the music began--
"Oh, Katie! Suppose you'd always dreamed of something and never been
able to catch up with it. Suppose you'd not even been able to really
dream it, but just dream that it was, and then suppose it all came--No,
I can't tell you. You'd have to have lived in Centralia--and been a
"My heart sang more beautifully than the singers sang. 'Now you have
found it! Now you have found it!' my heart kept singing.
"When all the other people left I left too--in a dream. For it had
passed into a dream--into a beautiful dream that was going to shelter it
for me forever.
"I stood around watching the beautiful people getting into their
carriages. And I couldn't make myself believe that it was in the same
world with Centralia.
"Then after a while it occurred to me that all those people were going
home. Everybody was going home.
"At first I wasn't frightened. Something inside me was singing over and
over the songs of the opera. I was too far in my dream to be much
"Then all at once I got--oh, so tired. And cold. And so frightened I did
not know what to do. My dream seemed to have taken wings and flown away.
All the beautiful laughing people had gone. It was just as if I woke up.
And I was on the strange streets all alone. Only some noisy men who
"I hid in a doorway till those men got by. And then I saw a woman
coming. She was all alone, too. She had on a dress that rustled and
lovely white furs, and did not seem at all frightened.
"I stepped out and asked her to please tell me where to go for the night.
"Some time I'll tell you about her, too. Now I'll just tell you that it
ended with her taking me home with her to stay all night. She made a lot
of fun of me--and said things to me I didn't understand--and swore at
me--and told me to 'cut it' and go back to the cornfields--but I was
crying then, and she took me with her.
"She kept up her queer kind of talk, but I was so tired that the minute I
was in bed I went to sleep.
"The next morning she told me I had got to go back to the woods. I said I
would if there were any woods. But there weren't. She laughed and said
more queer things. She asked me why I had come, and I told her. First she
laughed. Then she sat there staring at me--blinking. And what she said
was: 'Poor little fool. Poor little greenhorn.'
"She asked me what I was going to do, and I said work, so I could stay
there and go to the opera and see beautiful things. She asked me what
kind of a job I was figuring on and told me there was only one kind would
let me in for that. I asked her what it was and she said it was _her_
line. I asked her if she thought I was fitted for it, and she looked at
me--a look I didn't understand at all--and said she guessed the men she
worked for would think so. I asked her if she'd say a good word to them
for me, and then she turned on me like a tiger and swore and said--No,
she hadn't come to that!
"It was a case of knowing without knowing. I was so green that I didn't
know. And yet after a while I did. As I look back on it I appreciate
things I couldn't appreciate then, thank her for things I didn't know
enough to thank her for at the time.
"She was leaving that day for San Francisco. She gave me ten dollars, and
told me if I had any sense I'd take it and go back to prayer-meeting. She
said I might do worse. But if I didn't have any sense--and she said of
course I wouldn't--I was to be careful of it until I got a job. She told
me how to manage. And I was to read 'ads' in the newspaper. She told me
how to try and get in at the telephone office. She had been there once,
she said, but it 'got on her nerves.'
"She told me things about girls who worked in Chicago--awful things. But
I supposed she was prejudiced. The last things she said to me was--'The
opera! Oh you poor little green kid--I'm afraid I see your finish.'
"But I thought she was queer acting because she led that queer kind
of a life."
Ann had paused. And suddenly she hid her face in her hands, as if it was
more than she could face. Katie was smoothing her hair.
"Katie, as the days went on it was just as hard to believe that the world
of the opera was the same world I was working in--right there in the same
city--as it had been the first night to believe it was the same world as
Centralia. I learned two things. One was that the Something Somewhere was
there. The other that it was not there for me.
"The world was full of things I couldn't understand, but I could
understand--a little better--the woman who wore the white furs.
"Oh Katie, you get so tired--you get so dead--all day long putting
suspenders in a box--or making daisies--or addressing envelopes--or
trying to remember whether it was apple or custard pie--
"And you don't get tired just because your back aches--and your head
aches--and your hands ache--and your feet ache--you get tired--that kind
of tired--because the city doesn't care how tired you get!
"I often wondered why I went on, why any of them went on. I used to think
we must be crazy to be going on."
She was pondering it--somberly wistful. "Though perhaps we're not crazy.
Perhaps it's the--call. Katie, what is it? That call? That thing that
makes us keep on even when our Something Somewhere won't have anything to
do with us?"
Katie did not reply. She had no reply.
"At last I got in the telephone office. That's considered a fine place to
work. They're like Miss Osborne; they believe it is one of the
fundamental principles of life that all must have pleasures. But they
were like the pleasures of Centralia--not God-fearing, exactly, but so
dutiful. They didn't have anything to do with 'calls.'
"The real pleasures were going over the wire. It was my business to make
the connections that arrange those pleasures. A little red light would
flash--sometimes it would flash straight into my brain--and I'd say
'Number, please?'--always with the rising inflection. Then I'd get the
connection and Life would pass through the cords. That was the closest I
came to it--operating the cords that it went through. There was a whole
city full of it--beautiful, laughing, loving Life. But it was on the
wire--just as in Centralia it had been in the pictures--and in the box.
And oh I used to get so tired--so tight--operating the cords for Life.
Sometimes when I left my chair the whole world was one big red light. And
at night they danced dances for me--those little red lights."
She brushed her hand before her eyes as if they were there again and she
would push them away. "Katie," she suddenly burst forth, "if you ever do
pray--if you believe in praying--pray sometimes for the girl who goes to
Chicago to find what you call the 'joy of living.' Pray for the pilgrims
who go to the cities to find their Something Somewhere. And whatever you
do, Katie--whatever you do--don't ever laugh at the people who kill
themselves because they're tired of not having any fun!"
"But wasn't there _any_ fun, dear?" Katie asked after a moment.
Ann did not speak, but looked at Katie strangely. "Yes," she said.
They were silent. Something seemed to be outlining itself between them.
Something which was meaning to grow there between them.
"There came a time," said Ann, "when all of life was not going over
And still Katie did not speak, as if pushed back by that thing shaping
itself between them.
"Your Something Somewhere," said Ann, very low, "doesn't always come
in just the way you were looking for it. But, Katie, if you get _very_
tired waiting for it--don't you believe you might take it--most any
way it came?"
It was a worn and wistful face she turned to Katie. Suddenly Katie
brushed away the thing that would grow up between them and laid her cheek
upon Ann's hair. "Poor child," she murmured, and the tears were upon
Ann's soft brown hair. "Poor weary little pilgrim."
Ann remained in her room all of the next day. Katie encouraged her to do
so, wishing to foster the idea of illness.
It did not need much fostering. She had not gone back to those old days
without leaving with them most of her newly accumulated vitality. But it
was weakness rather than nervousness. Talking to Katie seemed to have
relieved a pressure.
It was Katie who was nervous. It was as if a battery within her had been
charged to its uttermost. She was in some kind of electric communication
with life. She was tingling with the things coming to her.
So charged was she with new big things that it was hard to manage the
affairs of her household as old things demanded they be managed that day.
She told Mrs. Prescott again how sorry she and Ann were that Ann had
given way. Mrs. Prescott received it with self-contained graciousness.
Her one comment was that she trusted when her son decided to marry he
would content himself with a wife who had not gone upon a quest.
Katie smiled and agreed that it might get him a more comfortable wife.
The son himself she tried to avoid. That thing which had tried to shape
itself between her and Ann still remained there, a thing without body
but vaguely outlined between Ann and all other things.
They had not drawn any nearer to it. They let the story rest at the place
where all of life had not been going over the wire.
And Katie told herself that she understood. That Ann was to be judged
by the Something Somewhere she had formed in her heart rather than by
whatever it was life had tardily and ungenerously and unwisely
That Ann might still cling to a Something Somewhere--a thing for which
even yet she would keep the heart right--was suggested that afternoon
when Katie told her of Captain Prescott.
She had not meant to tell her. She tried to think she was doing it in
order to know how to meet Harry, but had to admit finally that she did it
for no nobler reason than to see how Ann would take it.
She took it most unexpectedly. "I am sorry," she said simply, "but I do
not care at all for Captain Prescott. I--" She paused, coloring slightly
as she said with a little laugh: "We all like to be liked, don't we,
Katie? And with me--well it meant something just to know I could be
liked--in that nice kind of way. It helped. But that's all--so I hope he
doesn't care very much for me. Though if he does," concluded Ann sagely,
"he'll get over it. He's not the caring sort."
The words had a familiar sound; after a moment she remembered them as
what he had said that night of the "Don't You Care" girls.
While she would have been panic-stricken at finding Ann interested, she
was more discomfited than relieved at not finding her more impressed. "To
marry into the army, Ann," she said, "is considered very advantageous."
Ann was lying there with her face pillowed upon her hand. She turned her
large eyes, about which just then there were large circles, seriously, it
would even seem rebukingly, upon Katie. "If I ever should marry," she
said, "it will be for some other reason than because it is
Katie felt both rebuked and startled. Most of the girls she knew--girls
who had never worked in factories or restaurants or telephone offices, or
had never thought of taking their own lives, had not scorned to look upon
marriages as advantageous.
Nor, for that matter, had Katie herself.
Ann's superior attitude toward marriage turned Katie to religion. As the
niece of a bishop she was moved to set Ann right on things within a
bishop's domain. And underlying that was an impulse to set her right
"Ann," she said, "if somebody said to you, 'I starve you in the name of
Katie Jones,' wouldn't you say, 'Oh no you don't. Starve me if you want
to, but don't tell me you do it in the name of Katie Jones. She doesn't
want people starved!'"
"I could say that," said Ann, "because I know you, and know you don't
want people starved. But if I'd never heard anything about you except
that I was to be starved in your name--"
"I should think even so you might question. Didn't it ever occur to you
that God had more to do with your Something Somewhere than He did with
things done in His name in Centralia?"
"Why, Katie, how strange you should think of that. For I thought of
it--but I supposed it was the most wicked thought of all."
"How strange it would be," said Katie, "if He had more to do with the
'call' than with the God-fearing things you were called from."
For an instant Ann's face lighted up. But it hardened. "Well, if He had,"
she said, "it seems He might have stood by me a little better after I was
Katie had no reply for that, so she turned to her uncle, the Bishop.
"Well there's one place where you're wrong, Ann; and that is that
religion is incompatible with the love of dogs. You know my uncle--my
mother's brother--is a bishop. I don't know just how well uncle
understands God, but if he understands Him as well as he does dogs then
he must be well fitted for his office. I don't think in his heart uncle
would have any respect for any person--no matter how religious--or even
how much they subscribed--who wouldn't appreciate the tragedy of losing
one's dog. Uncle has a splendid dog--a Great Dane; they're real chums. He
often reads his sermons to Caesar. He says Caesar can stay awake under
them longer than some of the congregation. I once shocked, but I think
secretly delighted uncle, by saying that he rendered to Caesar the
things that were Caesar's and to God what Caesar left. Well, one dreadful
day someone stole Caesar. They took him out of town, but Caesar got away
and made a return that has gone down into dog history. Poor uncle had
been all broken up about it for three days. He was to preach that
morning. My heart ached for him as he stood there at his study window
looking down the street when it was time to go. I knew what he was hoping
for--the way you go on hoping against hope when your dog's lost. And then
after uncle had gone, and just as I was ready to start myself, I heard
the great deep bark of mighty Caesar! You may know I was wild about
it--and crazy to get the news to uncle. I hurried over to church, but
service had begun. But because I was bursting to tell it, and because I
appreciated something of what it would mean to talk about the goodness of
God when you weren't feeling that way, I wrote a little note and sent it
up. I suppose the people who saw it passed into the chancel in dignified
fashion thought it was something of ecclesiastical weight. What it said
was, 'Hallelujah--he's back--safe and sound. K--.'
"It was great fun to watch uncle--he's very dignified in his official
capacity. He frowned as it was handed him, as if not liking the
intrusion into holy routine. He did not open it at once but sat there
holding it rebukingly--me chuckling down in the family pew. Then he
adjusted his glasses and opened it--ponderously. I wish you could have
seen his face! One of our friends said he supposed it read, 'Will give
fifty thousand.' He quickly recalled his robes and suppressed his grin,
contenting himself with a beatific expression which must have been very
uplifting to the congregation. I think I never saw uncle look so
spiritual. And I know I never heard him preach as feelingly. When he
came to the place about when sorrow has been upon the heart, and seemed
more than the heart could bear, but when the weight is lifted, as the
loving Father so often does mercifully lift it--oh I tell you there were
tears in more eyes than uncle's. I had my suspicions, and that night I
asked, 'Uncle, did you preach the sermon you meant to preach this
morning?' And uncle--if he weren't a bishop I would say he winked at
me--replied, 'No, dear little shark. I had meant to preach the one about
man yearning for Heaven because earth is a vale of tears.' I'm just
telling you this yarn, Ann, to make you see that religion doesn't
necessarily rule out the love of dogs."
"It's a nice story, and I'm glad you told me," replied Ann. "Only my
father would say that your uncle had no religion."
Katie laughed. "A remark which has not gone unremarked. Certainly he
hasn't enough to let it harden his heart. As I am beginning to think
about things now it seems to me uncle might stand for more vital things
than he does, but for all that I believe he can love God the more for
loving Caesar so well."
They were quiet for a time, thinking of Ann's father and Katie's uncle;
the love of God and the love of dogs and the love of man. Many things.
Then Ann said: "Naturally you and I don't look at it the same way. I
see you were brought up on a pleasant kind of religion. The kind that
That phrase started the electric batteries within Katie and the batteries
got so active she had to go for a walk.
In the course of the walk she stopped at the shops to see Wayne. She
wanted to know if he would let Worth go into the country for a week with
Ann. An old servant of theirs--a woman who had been friend as well as
servant to Katie's mother--lived on a farm about ten miles up the river
and it had been planned that Worth--and Katie, too, if she would--go up
there for a week or more during the summer. It seemed just the thing for
Ann. It would get her away from Captain Prescott and his mother, and from
Major Darrett, who was coming in a few days. Katie believed Ann would
like to be away from them all for about a week, and get her bearings
anew. And Katie herself would like to be alone for a time and get her
bearings, too, and make some plans. In one way or other she was going to
help Ann find her real Something Somewhere. Perhaps she would take her to
Europe. But until things settled down, as Katie vaguely put it, she
thought it just the thing for Ann to have the little trip with Worth.
Wayne listened gravely, but did not object. He was quiet, and, Katie
thought, not well. She suggested that working so steadily during the hot
weather was not good for him.
He laughed shortly and pointed through the open door to the shops where
long rows of men were working at forges--perspiration streaming down
But instead of alluding to them he asked abruptly: "How is she today?"
"Tired," said Katie. "She didn't sleep well last night."
Something in the way he was looking at her brought to Katie acute
realization of how much she cared for Wayne. He was her big brother. She
had always been his little sister. They were not giving to thinking of it
that way--certainly not speaking of it--but the tenderness of the
relationship was there. Consciousness of it came now as she seemed to
read in Wayne's look that she hurt him in withholding her confidence, in
not having felt it possible to trust even him.
She broke under that look. "Wayne dear," she said unevenly, "I don't deny
there is something to tell. I'd like to tell you, if I could. If ever I
can, I will."
His reply was only to dismiss it with a curt little nod.
But Katie knew that did not necessarily mean that he was feeling curt.
She was drawn back to the open door from which she could see the long
double line of men working steadily at the forges.
"What are those men doing?" she asked.
"Forging one of the parts of a rifle," he replied.
It recalled what the man who mended the boats had said of the saddles:
that the first war those saddles would see would be the war over the
manufacture of them. Would he go so far as to say the first use for the
Surely not. He must have been speaking figuratively.
But something in the might of the thing--the long lines of men at work on
rifles to be used in a possible war--made the industrial side of it seem
more vital and more interesting than the military phase. This was here.
This was real. There was practically no military life at the Arsenal--not
military life in the sense one found it at the cavalry post. That had
made it seem, from a military standpoint, uninteresting. But here was the
real life--over in what the women of the quarter vaguely called "the
shops," and dismissed as disposed of by the term.
Suddenly she wondered what all those men thought about God. Whether
either the hard blighting religion of Ann's father, or the aesthetic
comfortable religion of her uncle "mattered" much to them?
Were the things which "mattered" forging a religion of their own?
But just what were those things that mattered?
A young man had entered and was speaking to Wayne. After a second's
hesitation Wayne introduced him to Katie as Mr. Ferguson, who was
He had an open, intelligent face--this young mechanic. He did not seem
overwhelmed at being presented to Captain Jones' sister, but merely
replied pleasantly to her greeting and was turning away.
But Katie was not going to let him get away. If she could help it, Katie
was not going to let any one get away who she thought could tell her
anything about the things which were perplexing her--all those things
pressing closer and closer upon her.
"Do many of these men go to church?" she asked.
He appeared startled. Katie's gown did not suggest a possible tract
concealed about it.
"Why yes, some of them," he laughed. "I don't think the majority
of them do."
Then she came right out with it. "What would you say they look upon as
the most important thing in life?"
He looked startled again, but in more interested way. "Higher wages and
shorter hours," he said.
"Are you a socialist?" she demanded.
It came so unexpectedly and so bluntly that it confused him. "Why,
Katie," laughed her brother, "what do you mean by coming over here and
interviewing men on their politics?"
"What made you think I was a socialist?" asked Ferguson.
"Because you had such a quick answer to such a big question, and seemed
so sure of yourself. I'm reading a book about socialists. They don't seem
to think there is a particle of doubt they could put the world to rights,
and things are so intricate--so confused--I don't see how they can be so
sure they're saying the final word."
"I don't know that they claim to be saying the final word, but they do
know they could take away much of the confusion."
Katie was thinking of the story she had heard the night before. "Do you
think socialism's going to remove all the suffering from the world? Reach
all the aches and fill all the empty places? Get right into the inner
things that are the matter and bring peace and good will and loving
She had spoken impetuously, and paused with an embarrassed laugh. The
young mechanic was looking at her gravely, but his look was less strange
"I don't think they'd go that far, Miss Jones. But they do know that
there's a lot of needless misery they could wipe out."
"They're out and out materialists, aren't they? Everything's
economic--the economic basis for everything in creation. They seem very
cocksure that getting that the way they want it would usher in the
millennium. You said the most important thing in life to these men was
higher wages and shorter hours. I don't blame them for wanting them--I
hope they get them--but I don't know that I see it as very promising that
they regard it as the most important thing in life. To do less and get
more is not what you'd call a spiritual aspiration, is it?" she laughed.
"This is what I mean--it's not the end, is it?"
"Socialists wouldn't call it the end. But it's got to be the end until it
can become the means."
"Yes, but if you get in the habit of looking at it as an end, will there
be anything left for it to be a means to?"
"Why yes, those spiritual aspirations you mention."
"Unless by that time the world's such an economic machine it doesn't want
"Well Heaven help the working man that's got them in the present economic
machine," said Ferguson a little impatiently.
She, too, moved impatiently. "Oh I don't know a thing about it. It's
absurd for me to be talking about it."
"Why I don't think it's at all absurd, only I don't think you see the
thing clear to the end, and I wish you could talk to somebody who sees
farther than I do. I'm new to it myself. Now there's a man doing a lot of
boat repairing up here above the Island. I wish you could talk to him.
He'd know just what you mean, and just how to meet you."
"Oh, would he?" said Katie. "What's his name?"
"Mann. Alan Mann."
"Why, Katie," laughed Wayne, "it must be that he's that same mythical
creature known as the man who mends the boats."
"Yes," said Katie, "I fancy he's the very same mythical creature."
"My little boy talks about him," Wayne explained.
"Yes, he's the same one. I've seen him talking to your little boy and one
of the soldiers. He's a queer genius."
"In what way is he a queer genius?" asked Katie.
"Why--I don't know. He's always got a way of looking at a thing that you
hadn't seen yourself." He looked up with a little smile from the tool he
was trying to adjust. "I'd like to have you tell him you were worrying
about socialism hurting spiritual aspirations."
"Would he annihilate me?"
"No, he wouldn't want to annihilate you, if he thought you were trying to
find out about things. He'd guide you."
"Oh--so he's a guide, is he? Is he a spiritual or an economic guide?"
"I think he might combine them," he replied, laughing too.
"He must be remarkable," said Kate.
"He is remarkable, Miss Jones," gravely replied the admirer of the man
who mended the boats. "I wish you could have heard him talking to a crowd
of men last Sunday."
"Dear me--is he a public speaker?"
"Yes--in a way. And he writes things."
Katie wanted to ask what things, but they were cut short by the entrance
of Captain Prescott. It was curious how his entrance did cut them short.
She smiled to herself, wondering what he would have thought of the
He followed her to the door and inquired for Miss Forrest. His manner was
constrained, but his eyes were begging for an explanation. He looked
unhappy, and Katie hurried away from him. It seemed she could not bear to
have any more unhappiness come pressing against her, even the
unhappiness she was confident would pass away.
In her mood of that day it seemed to Katie that the affairs of the world
were too involved for any one to have a solution for them. Life surged in
too fiercely--too uncontrollably--to be contained within a formula.
As she continued her walk, winding in and out of the wooded paths, awe
spread its great wings about her at thought of the complexity and the
fathomlessness of the relationships of life. She had but a little peep
into them, but that peep held the suggestion of limitlessness.
Because a lonely girl in a barren little town in Indiana had dreamed
dreams which life would not deliver to her, life now was beating in upon
Katie Jones. Because Ann had been foiled in her quest for happiness,
sobering shadows were falling across the sunny path along which Katie had
tripped. Did life thwarted in one place take it out in another? Because
Ann could not find joy was it to be that Katie could not have peace? Had
Ann's yearning for love been the breath blowing to flame Katie's yearning
for understanding? Because Ann could not dream her way to realities did
it mean that Katie must fight her way to them?
They were such big things--such resistless things--these wild new things
which were sweeping in upon her. With the emotion of the world surging in
and out like that how could any one claim to have a solution for the
whole question of living?
She seemed passing into a country too big and too dark for her of the
sunny paths. She needed a guide. She grew lonely at thought of how badly
she needed her guide.
She turned for comfort to thought of the things she would do for Ann. She
would pay it back in revealing to Ann the beauty of the world. She would
assume the responsibility of the Something Somewhere. Perhaps in
fulfilling a dream she would find a key to reality.
She found pleasure in the vision of Ann in the old world cathedrals. How
wisely they had builded--builders of those old cathedrals--in expressing
religion through beauty. At peace in the beauty of form, might Ann not
find an inner beauty? She believed Ann's nature to be an intensely
religious one. How might Ann's soul not flower when she at last saw God
as a God of beauty?
Thus she soothed herself in building a future for Ann. Sought to appease
those surgings of life with promise that Ann should at last find the
loveliness of life.
But in the end it led to a terrifying vision. A vision of thousands upon
thousands of other dreamers of dreams whose soul stuff might be slowly
ebbing away in long dreary days of putting suspenders in boxes. Of
thousands of other girls who might be growing faint in operating the
wires for life. Oh, she had power to fill Ann's life--but would that have
power to still for her the mocking whispers from the dreams which had
died slow deaths in all the other barren lives? Even though she took Ann
from the crowd to a far green hill of happiness, would not Katie herself
see from that far green hill all the other girls "called" to life, going
forth as pilgrims with the lovely love-longing in their hearts only to
find life waiting to seize them for the work of the woman who wore the
A sob shook Katie. The woe of the world seemed surging just beneath
her--rising so high that it threatened to suck her in.
But because she was a fighter she mastered the sob and vowed that rather
than be sucked in to the woe of the world she would find out about the
world. Certainly she would sit apart no longer. She would study. She
would see. She would live.
Life had become a sterner and a bigger thing. She would meet it in
a sterner and bigger way. To understand! That was the greatest
thing in life.
That passion to understand grew big within her. How could she hope to go
laughing through a world which sobbed? How turn from life when she saw
life suffering? Why she could not even turn from a little bird which she
There was a noble wistfulness in her longing to talk again with the man
who mended the boats.
In temporary relaxation from the stress of that mood she was glad to see
her friend Major Darrett.
He did not suggest the woe of the world. Because the big new things had
become--for the moment, at least--too much for her, there was rest in the
shelter of the small familiar things.
So much of the unknown had been beating against her that she was glad for
a little laughing respite in the known.
He stood for a world she knew how to deal with. In that he seemed to
offer shelter; not that he would be able to do it for long.
He always roused a particular imp in Katie which wanted to be
flirtatious. She found now, with a certain relief, that the grave things
of life had not exterminated that imp. She would scarcely have felt
acquainted with herself had it perished.
And because she was so pleased to find it alive she let it grow very
Ann and Worth had been gone for five days. Ann had seemed to like the
idea of going. She said she would be glad to be alone for a time and
"rest up," as she vaguely put it. Katie told her that when she came back
they would make some plans; and she told her she was not to worry about
things; that everything was going to be all right.
Ann received it with childlike trust. She seemed to think that it was
all in Katie's hands, to accept with a child's literalness that Katie
would not let the old things come back, that she would "shut the door in
Other things were in Katie's hands that day: preparations for a big
dinner they were giving that night.
It was for some cavalry people who were stopping there. And in addition
to the cavalry officers and their wives there was a staff officer from
Washington who was valuable to Wayne just then. Katie was anxious that
the dinner be a success. She was glad Major Darrett was there. He went a
long way toward assuring its success.
And Zelda Fraser was with the party. Katie had seen her for a moment that
morning, and would see her again at night. She was stopping with Caroline
Osborne, whom she had known at school.
Zelda did not suggest the woe of the world. Neither did she suggest the
dreams of the world.
It was early in the afternoon and the Major and Katie were having
a conference. He was acquainted with the palate of the visiting
staff officer, and was assuring Katie that she was on the way to
his good graces.
They had gone into the library, where Katie was arranging flowers. He
offered a suggestion there, too. He had an intuitive knowledge of such
things, seemed to be guided by inner promptings as to which bowl should
hold the lavender sweet peas and which the pink ones.
Though Katie disputed his judgment, glad to be on ground where she could
dispute with assurance. They argued it hotly, as if sweet peas were the
most vital things in the world. It was good to be venting all one's
feeling on things so tangible and knowable as sweet peas.
Her dinner safe in the hands of experts, Katie made herself comfortable
and told her friend the Major that she wished now to be put in a
brilliant mood. That a brilliant mood was the one thing the skilled
laborers in possession of her house could not furnish.
He gallantly defied any laborer in the world to be so skilled as to get
Katie out of a brilliant mood.
She told him that was silly, that she had grown very stupid.
He challenged her to prove it.
Katie felt very much at home with him; not merely at home with him the
individual, but comfortably at home with the things he represented. It
gave her a nice homelike feeling to be flirting with him.
And flirting with him herself, she grew interested in all those others
who had flirted with him--she knew they were legion. She seemed to see
them off there in the background--a lovely group of spoiled darlings. She
did not suppose many of them were much the worse for having flirted with
Major Darrett. Suddenly she laughed and told him she regarded him as one
of the great educators of the age. He wanted to know in what way he was
a great educator. Katie would not tell him. There ensued a gay discussion
from which she emerged feeling as if she had had a cocktail.
And looking that way; looking, at least so he seemed to think, from the
manner in which he leaned forward regarding her--most attractive, her
cheeks so pink, her eyes dancing a little dance of defiance at him, and
on her lips a mocking little smile, more sophisticated than any smile he
had ever seen before on Katie's lips. "Katie of the laughing eyes"--he
had once called her. She was leaning back lazily, a suggestion of
insolence in her assurance. As she leaned back that way he marked the
lines of her figure as he had never marked them before. He had previously
thought of Katie as a good build for golf. Now that did not seem to
express the whole of it--and Katie seemed to know it would not express
the whole of it. And in summarizing Katie as having a good build for golf
he had not properly appraised Katie's foot. It was thrust out now from
her very short skirt as if Katie were quite willing he should know it for
a lovely foot. And her arm, which was hanging down from the side of the
chair, seemed conscious of being something more than a good arm for golf.
She looked so like a child, and yet so lurkingly like a woman. It gave
him a new sense of Katie. It blew the warm breath of life over an idea he
had had when he came there.
He had just come from Zelda Fraser, having had luncheon at the
Osbornes'. He had once thought Zelda stimulating. Now she did not seem
at all stimulating in comparison with Katie. She was too obvious. That
lurking something in Katie's eyes, that mysterious smile she had, made
Katie seem subtle.
If this were to be added to all her other charms--
Katie had always seemed delightfully daring in an innocent sort of way.
It seemed now she might be capable of being subtle in a sophisticated
way. He had always thought of Katie as romping. A distinguished and quite
individual form of romping. She even had a romping imagination. He loved
her for her merriness, for her open sunniness. That had been an
impersonal love, not very different from the way he might have loved a
sister. In fact he had more than once wished Katie were his little sister
instead of Wayne's.
He did not wish that now.
She became too fascinating and too desirable in her mysterious new
complexity. There was zest in discovering Katie after he had known
her so long.
And her eyes and her smile seemed jeering at him for having been such a
long while in discovering her.
He wanted to kiss her. That mocking little smile seemed daring him to
kiss her. And yet he did not dare to. It seemed part of Katie's lovely
new complexity that she could invite and forbid at one and the same time.
Now Zelda could not have done more than the inviting--and so many
He rose and stood near her. "Katie, you don't mean to marry
Prescott, do you?"
She clapped her hands above her head and laughed like a child immensely
tickled about something.
He laughed, too, and then asked to be informed what he was laughing at.
"Oh, you're just laughing because I am," laughed Katie.
"Then may I ask, mysterious one, what you're laughing at?"
"Oh I'm laughing at a tumble I once took. 'Twas such a tumble."
"I'd like to tumble to the tumble."
"You would like it. You'd love it."
"I hadn't thought," said the Major, "that when I asked if you meant to
marry Prescott I was classifying with the great humorists of all time."
"And I hadn't thought," she returned, "that when I thought Prescott meant
to marry me I was classifying with the great tumblers of all time!"
Suddenly she stopped laughing. "No, I don't mean to marry Harry, and I
can further state with authority that Harry doesn't mean to marry me."
The laughter went from even her eyes--thinking, perhaps, of whom Harry
did mean to marry.
But she was not going to let herself become grave. If she grew quiet she
would know again about the woe of the world--surging right underneath.
The only way not to know it was underneath was to keep merrily dancing
away in one's place on top of it. She made a curious little gesture of
flicking something from her hand and whistled a romping little tune.
He stood there surveying her. "It wouldn't do at all for you to marry
Prescott, Katie. He's a likeable enough fellow, but with it all something
of a duffer."
"Just what kind of man," asked Katie demurely, "would you say I had
He sat down in a chair nearer her. "Just what kind of man would you like
"How do you know," she asked, still demurely, "that I would like to
"Oh you must have a guide, Katie. You must be guided through this
She bit her lip and turned away when he told her she must have a guide.
But she turned back, and seriously. "Is it a wicked world?"
With that he ventured to pat the hand now lying on the arm of the chair
so near him. "Well you'll never know it, if it is. We'll keep it all from
you, Katie. You're safe."
Katie pulled her hand away petulantly. "If there's anything I don't want
to be," she said, "it's safe."
That seemed to amuse him. "I only meant," he laughed, "safe from the
great outer world."
"Tell me," said Katie, "what's in the great outer world?"
He sat there smiling at her as one would smile at a dear
"Have you made many excursions into the great outer world?" she
"Oh yes," he replied lightly, "I've been something of an explorer. All
men, you know, Katie, are born explorers. Though for the most part I must
say I find our own little world the more attractive."
Then he surprised her. "Katie, would you think a man a brute to propose
to a girl on the day she was giving an important dinner?"
But right there she pulled herself in. "No more tumbles!" thought Katie.
"It would seem rather inconsiderate, wouldn't it? Such a man wouldn't
seem to have a true sense of values."
"Well, dinner or no dinner, the man I have in mind has a true sense of
values. He has a true sense of values because he knows Katherine
Wayneworth Jones for the most desirable thing in all the world."
It did surprise her, and the surprise grew. None of them had thought of
Major Darrett as what they called a marrying man.
And on the heels of the surprise came a certain sense of triumph. Katie
knew that any of the girls in what he called their little world would be
looking upon it as a moment of triumph, and there was triumph in gaining
what others would regard as triumph.
"How old are you, Katie?" he asked.
She told him.
"Twenty-five. And I'm forty-one. Is that prohibitive?"
She looked at him, thinking how lightly the years had touched him--how
lightly, in all probability, they would touch him. He had distinctly the
military bearing. He would have that same bearing at sixty. And that
same charm. He was one to whom experience gave the gift of charm more
insidiously than youth could give it.
Life would be more possible with him than with any man she knew within
the enclosure. If one were to go dancing and smiling and flirting through
the world Major Darrett would be the best possible man to go with.
As she looked at him, smiling at her half tenderly and half humorously,
life with Major Darrett presented itself as such an attractive thing that
there was almost pain in the thought of not being able to take it.
For deep within her she never questioned not being able to take it. But
for the moment--
"You see, Katie," he was saying, "I would be the best possible one for
you to be married to, because you could go right on having
flirtations. Of course I needn't tell you, Katie dear, that you're a
flirt. The trouble with your marrying most fellows would be that they
wouldn't like it."
"And of course," she replied, "I would be a good one for you to marry
because having my own flirtations I wouldn't be in a position to be
critical about yours."
He laughed quite frankly.
Katie leaned back and sat there smiling at him, that new baffling smile
he found so alluring.
"But do you know, Katie, I think, for a long time, anyway, we could keep
busy flirting with each other."
"And we would keep all the busier," she said, "knowing that the minute
we stopped flirting with each other one of us would get busy flirting
with somebody else."
He laughed delightedly. "Katie, where did you learn it was very fetching
to say outrageous things so demurely?"
"Tell me," said Katie, more seriously, "why do you want to marry?"
"Until about an hour ago I wanted to marry--oh for the most bromidic of
reasons. Just because, in the natural course of events, it seemed the
next thing for me to do. I'll even be quite frank and confess I had
thought of you in that bromidic version of it. Had thought of it as
'eminently suitable'--also, eminently desirable. We'd like to do the same
things. We'd get on--be good fellows together. But now I want to
marry--and I want to marry _you_--because I think you're quite the most
fascinating thing in all the world!"
Lightly and yet seriously he spoke of things--of his own prospects. She
knew how good they were. Of where and how they would probably live;--a
pleasant picture it was he could draw. It would mean life along the
sunny paths. And very sunny indeed it seemed they would be--if possible
at all. Certainly one would never have to explain any of one's jokes to
For just a moment she let herself drift into it. And knowing she was
drifting, and not knowing it was for just the moment, he rose and bent
over her chair.
"Katie," he whispered, and there was passion in his voice, "I think I
can make you fall in love with me."
The little imp in Katie took possession. And something deeper than the
little imp stirred vaguely at sound of that thing in his voice. She
raised her face so that it was turned up to him. "You think you could?
Now I wonder."
"Oh you wonder, do you--you exasperating little wretch! Well just give me
But suddenly he was standing at attention, his face colorless. Katie
jumped up guiltily, and there leaning against the door--all huddled down
and terrible looking--was Ann.
"Why, Katie," she whispered thickly--"_Katie_! But you told me--you
_promised_ me--that you would _shut the door in his face_."
It took her a number of seconds to get the fact that they must know
And even then she could get no grip on the situation. She was too shaken
by having jumped--as though she were some vulgar housemaid!
And why was Ann looking like that! She looked dreadful--huddled up that
way as if some one was going to beat her!
"Why you can't know each other," said Katie wildly. "How could you know
each other? Where would you know each other? And if you _do_ know each
other,"--turning upon him furiously--"need we all act like thieves?"
He tried to speak, but seemed unable to. He had lost command of himself,
save in so far as standing very straight was concerned.
She wished Ann would stand up! It gave her such an awful sense of shame
to see Ann huddled like that.
"Katie," Ann whispered, "you told me--"
"I never told you I'd shut the door in Major Darrett's face!" said Katie
harshly. "And what are you talking about? What does this all mean?"
He had recovered himself. "Why it merely means, Katie, that we--as you
surmised--at one time--knew each other. The--the acquaintance
terminated--not pleasantly. That's all. A slight surprise for the
moment. No harm done."
Then Ann did stand straight. "It means," she said shrilly, "that if I had
never known him"--pointing at him--"you would never have found me there."
She pointed down toward the river. "Oh no, no harm done, of course--No
"Please let us try and keep very quiet," said Katie coldly. "It is--it is
vulgar enough at best. Let us be as quiet--as decent as we can."
Ann crouched down again as though struck.
Then Katie laughed, bitterly. "Why really, it's quite as good as a play,
isn't it? It's quite a scene, I'm sure."
"It needn't be," said he soothingly, and relaxing a little. "I own I was
startled for the moment, and--discomfited. But you were quite
right--we'll go into no hysterics. What I can't understand"--looking from
one to the other--"is what she's doing _here_."
Katie's head went up. "She's here, I'll have you know, as my friend. Just
as you're here as my friend."
She thought Ann was going to fall, and her heart softened a little.
"Suppose you go up to my room, Ann. Lie down. Just--just lie down. Keep
quiet. Why did you come home? Is something wrong?"
Ann whispered that Worth had a sore throat. She had a chance to come down
in an automobile. She thought she had better. She was sorry she had.
"All right," said Katie. "It's all right. Just go lie down. I'll look
after Worth--and you--in a minute."
Ann left the room and Katie turned to the Major. "Well?"
"You're so sensible, Katie," he said hurriedly, "in feeling the thing to
do is make no fuss about things. Nothing is to be gained--But for God's
sake, Katie, what is she doing here? Where did _you_ know her?"
"Oh you tell first," said Katie, smiling a hard smile. "You tell where
you found her, then I'll tell where I found her."
"Really--really," he said stiffly, "I must refuse to discuss such a
matter with _you_. I can only repeat--she has no business here."
"Then pray why have you any business here?"
He flushed angrily. But restrained himself and said persuasively: "Why,
Katie, she's not one of us."
"She's one of _me_," said Katie. "She's my friend."
"I can only say again," he said shortly, "that she has no business to
"As I am to be kept so safe from the wicked world," said Katie
stingingly, "I presume it is not proper you discuss the matter with me. I
take it, however, that she was one of those 'excursions' into the great
"Well," he said defiantly, "and what if she was? She was willing to be, I
guess. She wasn't knocked down with a club."
"Oh, no! Oh, my no! That wouldn't be your method. And when one is tired
of exursions--I suppose one is at perfect liberty to abandon them--?"
"Nonsense! You can't trump up anything of that sort. She wasn't
'abandoned.' She left in the night."
He colored. "I beg your pardon. But as long as we're speaking
"Oh pray," said Katie, "let's not be overly delicate in this delicate
"Very well then. Her coming was her own choice. Her going away was her
own choice. I can see that I have no great responsibility in the matter."
"Why how clever you must be," said Katie, all the while smiling that hard
smile, "to be able to argue it like that."
He was standing there with folded arms. "I think I was very decent to
her. All things considered--in view of the nature of the affair--I
consider that I was very decent."
Katie laughed. "Maybe you were. I found her in the very act of
He paled, but quickly recovered himself. "That was not my affair. There
must have been--something afterward."
"Maybe. I'm sure I don't know. But you were the beginning, weren't you?"
Suddenly she buried her face in her hands. "Oh I didn't think--I didn't
think it could get in here! It's everywhere! It's everywhere! It's
"Katie--dear Katie," he murmured, "don't. We'll get you out of this. You
wanted to be kind. It was just a mistake of yours. We'll fix it up. Don't
cry." And he put an arm about her.
She stood before him with clenched hands, eyes blazing. "Don't touch me!
Don't you touch me!" And she left him.
In the hall Nora stopped her to say there were not enough champagne
glasses. She made no reply. Champagne glasses--!
She looked after Worth. Then she went to Ann.
"Well, Ann," she began, her voice high pitched and unsteady, "this is
about the limit, isn't it?"
"Oh Katie," moaned Ann, "you told me--you told me--you understood. Why,
Katie--you must have known there was some one."
"Oh I knew there was some one, all right," said Katie, her voice getting
higher and higher, her cheeks more and more red--"only I just hadn't
figured, you see, on its being some one I knew! Why how under the sun,"
she asked, laughing wildly, "did you ever meet Major Darrett?"
"I--I'll try to tell you," faltered Ann miserably. "I want to. I want to
make you understand. Katie!--I'll die if you don't understand!"
She looked so utterly wretched that Katie made heroic effort to get
herself under control--curb that fearful desire to laugh. "I will try,"
she said quietly as she could. "I _will_ try."
"Why, Katie," Ann began, "does it make so much difference--just because
you know him?"
"It makes all the difference! Can't you see--why it makes it so vulgar."
Ann threw back her head. "Just the same--it wasn't vulgar. What I felt
wasn't vulgar. Why, Katie," she cried appealingly, "it was my Something
Somewhere! You didn't think that vulgar!"
"Oh no," laughed Katie, "not before I knew it was Major Darrett! But tell
me--I've got to know now. What is it? Where did you meet him? Just how
bad is it, anyhow?"
It must have been desperation led Ann to spare neither Katie nor herself.
"I met him," she said baldly, "one night as I was standing on the corner
waiting for a car. He had an automobile. He asked me to get in it--and I
did. And that--began it."
Katie stepped back from her in horror, the outrage she felt stamped all
too plainly on her face. "And you call _that_ not vulgar? Why it was
_common_. It was _low_."
Then Ann turned. "Was it? Oh I don't know that you need talk. I wouldn't
say much--if I were you. I guess I saw the look on his face when I came
in. Don't think for a minute I don't know that look. _You got it there_.
And let me tell you another thing. Just let me tell you another thing!
Whatever I did--whatever I did--I know I never had the look you did when
I came in! I never had that look of fooling with things!"
Katie was white--powerless--with rage. "_You_ dare speak to _me_ like
that!" she choked. "You--!"
And all control gone she rushed blindly from the room.
She had no idea how long she had been walking. She was conscious of being
glad that there was so big a place for walking, that walking was not a
preposterous thing to be doing. She passed several groups of soldiers.
They were reassuring; they looked so much in the natural order of things
and gave no sign of her being out of that order.
Though she knew she was out of it. It was dizzying--that feeling of
having lost herself. She had never known it before.
After she had walked very fast for what seemed a long time she seemed
able to gather at least part of her forces back under control.
That blinding sense of everything being scattered, of her being
powerless, was passing.
And the first thing sanity brought was the suggestion that Ann, too,
might be like that. Once before Ann had been "scattered" that way--oh she
understood it now as she had not been able to do then. And perhaps Ann
would have less power to gather herself back--
She grew frightened. She turned toward home, walking fast as she
could--worried to find herself so far away.
Major Darrett stepped out from the library to speak to her, but she
hurried past him up the stairs.
Ann was not in the room where she had left her.
She looked through the other rooms. She called to her.
Then it must be--she told herself--all the while fear growing larger in
her heart--that Ann, too, had gone out for a walk.
"Worth," she asked, grotesquely overdoing unconcern, "where's Miss Ann?
Has she gone for a walk?"
"Why, Aunt Kate, she was called away."
"Called _away_?" whispered Katie. "Called where?"
"She said she was called away. She's gone."
"But she's coming back? When did she say, dear," she pleaded, "that she
would be back?"
"I don't know, Aunt Kate. She felt awful bad because she had to go. She
came and kissed me--she kissed me and kissed me--and said she hated to
leave me--but that she had to go. She kept saying she had to."
In the hall was Nora. "Nora," asked Katie, standing with her back to her,
"what is it about Miss Forrest?"
"She was called away, Miss Kate. A telegram. I didn't see no boy--"
"They must have 'phoned it," said Katie sharply.
"Yes'm. I didn't hear the 'phone. But I was busy. I'm so upset, Miss
Kate, about them champagne glasses. We've telephoned over the river--"
"Never mind the champagne glasses! What about Miss Forrest? How did she
go? When did she go?"
"She went in Mr. Osborne's automobile. Miss Osborne sent you some
beautiful flowers, Miss Kate. Oh they're just lovely!"
"Oh, I don't care anything about flowers! You say Ann went in the
"Yes'm. She told the chauffeur--he brought the flowers--that big colored
man, you know, Miss Kate--that she was called away, and would he take
her to the station. And he said sure he would--and so they went. But,
Miss Kate--it's most five o'clock--what will we do about those two
"Merciful heavens, Nora! Stop talking about them! I don't care what you
do about them!"
She went down to the library. "Look here," she said to the Major, "what
is this? What have you done? Where's Ann gone?"
"I don't know a thing about it. I went over to the office--an
appointment--and when I came back--hurried back because I was worried
about you--I saw her going away in the Osborne car."
"And never tried to stop her?"
"See here, Katie. Why should I stop her? Best thing you can do is
let her go."
"Do you know--do you know," choked Katie--"that she may kill herself?"
He laughed. "Oh I guess not. Calm down, Katie. She had her wits about
her, all right. I heard her tell the man to drive her to the station. She
had sense enough to take advantage of the car, you see. I guess she knows
the ropes. Don't think she has much notion of killing herself."
"Oh you don't. Much you know about it! You with your fine noble
understanding of life!" She turned away, sobbing. "What shall I do? What
_shall_ I do?"
But in a moment she stopped. "The thing for me to do," she said, "is
telephone the Osbornes' chauffeur."
Which she did. Yes, he had taken the young lady to the station. He didn't
know where she was going. He just pulled in to the station and then
pulled right out again--she told him there was nothing more to do. He
didn't believe she bought a ticket. He saw her walking out to get a
train. No, he didn't know what train. There were two or three trains
"What can I do?" Katie kept murmuring frantically.
Suddenly her face lighted. She sat there thinking for a moment, then
called her brother's office. Wayne, she was glad to find, was not there.
She asked if she might speak to Mr. Ferguson.
"Mr. Ferguson," she said, "this is--this is Captain Jones' sister. I want
for a very particular--a very imperative reason--to speak at once to
the--to your friend--that man--why the man that mends the boats, you
know. Could you get word for him to come here--here, to my house--right
away? Tell him it's very--oh _very_ important. Tell him Miss Jones says
Ferguson said it was just quitting time. He'd go up there on his wheel.
He thought he could find him. He would send him right down.
She admired the way he controlled what must have been his astonishment.
The man who mended the boats would come. He would know what to do. He
would help her. She would keep as calm as she could until he got there.
But surely--surely--Ann wouldn't go away and leave her without a word!
Ann couldn't be so cruel as to let her worry like that. Why of
course--Ann had left a note for her.
So she looked for the note--tossed everything in the room topsy-turvey.
Even looked in the closet.
Again she heard Nora in the hall. "Nora," she said, and Katie's face
was white and pleading, "didn't Miss Ann say anything about leaving
me a note?"
"Why yes, Miss Kate--yes--sure she did. I was so upset about them
"Well, where is it? Oh, hurry, Nora. Tell me."
"Why it's in the desk, Miss Kate. She said you was to look in the desk."
She ran to it with a sob. "Nora, how could you let me--"
Nora was saying again that she was so worried about the champagne
The desk, of course, would be the last place one would think of looking
for a note!
She found, and with trembling fingers smoothed out the note; it had been
crumpled rather than folded. It was brief, and so written she could
scarcely read it.
"You see, Katie, you _can't_--you simply _can't_. So I'm going. When you
come back, you won't want me to. That's why I've got to go now. I'd tell
you--only I don't know. I'll get a train--just any train. I can't write.
Because for one thing I haven't time--and for another if I began to say
things I'd begin to cry--and then I wouldn't go. I've got to keep just
this feeling--the one I told you about its _having_ to be--
"Katie, you're not like the rest of your world, but it is your world--and
see what you get when you try to be any different from it!
"Oh Katie--I didn't think I'd be leaving like _this_. I didn't think I'd
ever say to you--"
There it ended.
"Miss Kate," Nora said, "Major Darrett wants to know if he may speak to
you in the library."
She went down mechanically.
"Now, Katie," he began quietly and authoritatively, "there are several
orders you must give, several things you must attend to, in relation
to your dinner. Things seem a little disorganized, and it's getting
late, and it won't do, you know, to get these people upset. Now Nora
tells me that through some complication or other you're two champagne
Katie was staring at him. "And is _that_ all that matters? Two champagne
glasses short! And here a life--Why what kind of people are we?"
"Katie," he said, his voice well controlled, "we're just that kind of
people. No matter what's at stake--no matter what we're thinking about
things--or about each other--the thing we've got to do now--you know
it--and you're going to do it--is go ahead with this affair."
"I'm not going to have it! Why what do you think I'm made of? I won't.
Telephone them. Call it off. I tell you I can't."
"Katie, you think you can't, and yet you know you will. I know exactly
what you're made of. I know what your father was made of. I know what
your mother was made of. I know that no matter what it costs
_you_--you'll go on as if nothing had occurred. Now will you telephone
Prescott, or shall I? Ask him about the glasses. And if he can't do
anything for you you'll have to call up Zelda at Miss Osborne's and tell
the girls they can't come unless they each bring a glass. I'll do it if
you want me to. They'll think it a great lark, you know, having to bring
their own glasses or getting no champagne."
"Yes," whispered Katie, "they'll think it a great lark. For that
matter--everything's a great lark."
She sank to a chair. Her tears were falling as she said again that
everything was a great lark. He paid no attention to her but went to the
But the tears were interrupted. "Miss Kate," said Nora, "can you come and
look at the table a minute? They want to know--"
She dried her eyes as best she could and went and looked at the table.
She kept on looking at things--doing things--until she heard the bell.
"If that's some one for me, Nora," she said, "show him in here, and
don't interrupt me while he's here." She passed into a small room they
used as a den.
He came to her there. And when she saw that it was indeed he she
"Something is the matter?" he asked gently. "You wanted me? You
sent for me?"
She raised her head. "Yes. I sent for you. I need you."
It was evident she needed some one. He would scarcely have known her for
Katie--so white, so shaken. "I'm glad you sent for me," he said simply.
"Now won't you tell me what I can do?"
"She's gone," whispered Katie.
"I don't know--I don't know where. Away. On a train. Some train. Any
train. Somewhere. I don't know where. I thought--oh you'll find her for
me--won't you? You _will_ find her--won't you?"
She had stretched out her hands, and he took them, holding them strongly
in both of his. "Don't you want to tell me what you know? I can't help
you unless you tell me."
Briefly she told him--wrenched the heart out of it in a few words. "You
see, I failed," she concluded, looking up at him with swimming eyes. "The
very first thing--the very first test--I failed. I wanted to do so
much--thought I understood so well--oh I was so proud of the way I
understood! And then just the minute it came up against _my_ life--"
Her head went down to her hands, and because he was holding them it was
upon his hands rather than hers it rested, Katie's head with its gold
brown hair all disorderly.
"Don't," he whispered, as she seemed breaking her heart with it. "Why
don't you know all the world's like that? Don't you know we all can be
fine and free until it comes up against _our_ lives?"
"I was so _hard_!" she sobbed.
"Yes--I know. We are hard--when it's our lives are touched. Don't cry,
Katie." He spoke her name timidly and lingeringly. "Isn't that what life
is? Just one long thing of trying and failing? But going on trying again!
That's what you'll do."
"If you can find her for me! But I never can hold up my head again--never
believe in myself--never do anything--why I never can laugh again--not
really laugh--if you don't find her for me."
A curious look passed over his face with those last words. "Well if
that's the case," he said, with a strange little laugh of his own, "I've
got to find her."
They talked of things. He would go to the station. He would do what he
could. If he thought anything to be gained by it he would go on to
Chicago. He had to go in a few days anyhow, he explained, to see about
some work, and if it didn't seem a mere wild goose chase he would go
The change in Katie, the life which came back to her eyes, rewarded him.
"I'd go with you to the station," she said, "only we're giving a big
She thought his face darkened. "Oh yes, I know. But that's the kind of
person I am. We go on with the dinner--no matter what's happening.
He seemed to be considering it as a curious phenomenon. "Yes, I know it
is. And you can't help that either, can you? So you're going to be very