Part 6 out of 7
been as if they were merely leaving them behind for things larger and
deeper, as if their background was the real world rather than world of
perfunctory things. From him she had a consideration, not perfunctory,
but in the mood of the things they were sharing. That sense of sharing
big things, things real and rude, had swept them out of the world of
artificial things. Now did he perhaps hold back in timidity from that
world of the trivial things?
She put it from her, disliking herself as of the trivial things in
letting it suggest itself at all. Expecting him to be just like the
men she had known would be expecting the sea to behave like that lake
in the park.
That night she put on her most attractive gown, a dress sometimes gray
and sometimes cloudy blues and greens, itself like the sea, and finding
in Katie a more mysterious quality than her openness would usually
suggest. Feeling called upon to make some account to herself for dressing
more than occasion would seem to demand, she told herself that she must
get the poor old thing worn out and get something new.
But it was not a poor old thing, and the last thing Katie really wanted
was to succeed in getting it worn out.
As she dressed she was thinking of Ann's pleasure in clothes. There were
times when it had seemed a not altogether likeable vanity. It was
understandable--lovable--after having been to Centralia, after knowing.
So many things were understandable and lovable after knowing.
She wished she might call across the hall and ask Ann to come in and
fasten her dress. She would like to chat with her about the way she had
done her hair--all those intimate little things they had countless times
talked about so gayly.
She walked over into Ann's room--room in which Ann had taken such pride
and pleasure. Ann had loved the things on the dressing-table, she had
more than once seen her fairly caressing those pretty ivory things. She
wondered if Ann had anything resembling a dressing-table--what she
wore--how she managed.
Those were the little worries about Ann forever haunting her, as they
would a mother who had a child away from home. New vision of the
immensity of life could save her from giving destroying place to that
sense of the woe of the world, but a conception of the wonders of the
centuries could not keep out the gnawing fear that Ann might not be
getting enough to eat.
There was a complexity in her mood of that night--happiness and sadness
so close as at times to be indistinguishable--the whole of it making for
a sense of the depth of life.
But their evening was constrained. Katie blamed the dress for part of it,
vexed with herself for having put it on. She had wanted to be
attractive--not suggest the unattainable.
And that was what something seemed suggesting. He appeared less ill at
ease than morose. Katie herself, after having been so happy in his
coming, was, now that he was there, uncontrollably depressed. They talked
of a variety of things--in the main, the things she had been reading--but
something had happened to that wonderful thing which had grown warm in
their hearts as they walked those last two blocks.
Even the things of which they talked had lost their radiance. What did it
matter whether the universe was wonderful or not if the wonderful thing
in one's own heart was to be denied life?
From the first, it had been as if the things of which they talked were
things sweeping them together, they were in the grip of the power and the
wonder of those things, wrung by the tragedy of them, exalted by the
hope--in it all, by it all, united. It was as if the whole sea of
experience and emotion, suffering and aspiration, was driving, holding,
So it had been all along.
But not tonight. It was now--or at least so it seemed to Katie--as if
those forces had let them go. What had been as a great sea surging around
their hearts was now just things to talk about.
It left her desolate. And as she grew unhappy, she forced her gaiety and
that seemed to put him the farther away.
The two different worlds had sent Ann away; was it, in a way she was
unable to cope with, likewise to send him away?
Watts passed through the hall. She saw him glance out at the soldier
loweringly and after that he grew more morose, almost sullenly so.
It seemed foolish to talk of one's being free when held by things one
could not even see.
It was just when she was feeling so lonely and miserable she wished he
would go that the telephone rang and central told her that Chicago was
trying to get her.
It was in the manner of the old days that she turned to him and asked
what he thought it could be.
The suggestion--possibility--swept them back to the old basis, the old
relationship. Katie grew excited, unnerved, and he talked to her
soothingly while she waited for central to call again.
They spoke of what it probably was; her brother was in Chicago, Katie
told him, and of course it was he, and something about his own affairs.
Perhaps he had news of when he would be ordered away. Yes, without doubt
that was it.
But there was a consciousness of dissembling. They were drawn together by
the possibility they did not mention, drawn together in the very thing of
not mentioning it.
As in those tense moments they tried to talk of other things, they were
keyed high in the consciousness of not talking of the real thing. And in
that there was suggestion of the other thing of which they were not
talking. It was all inexplicably related: the excitement, the tenseness,
the waiting, the dissembling.
Katie had never been more lovely than as she sat there with her hand
on the telephone: flushed, stirred, expectant--something stealing back
to her eyes, something both pleading and triumphant in Katie's eyes
The man sitting close beside her at the telephone desk scarcely took his
eyes from her face.
When the bell rang again and her hand shook as it took down the receiver
he lay a steadying hand upon her arm.
At first there was nothing more than a controversy as to who had the
line. In her impatience, she rose; he rose, too, standing beside her.
"Here's your party," said central at last.
Her "party" was Wayne.
But something was still the matter on the line; she could not get what
Wayne was trying to tell her.
As her excitement became more difficult to control the man at her side
kept speaking to her--touching her--soothingly.
At last she could hear Wayne. "You hear me, Katie?"
"Oh yes--_yes_--what is it?"
"I want to tell you--"
It was swallowed up in a buzzing on the line.
Then central's voice came clear and crisp. "Your party is trying to tell
you that _Ann_ is found."
"Oh--" gasped Katie, and lost all color--"Oh--"
"Katie--?" That was Wayne again.
"Oh _yes_, Wayne?"
"I have found her. She is well--that is, will be well. She is all
right--going to be all right. I'll write it all to-morrow. It's all over,
Katie. You don't have to worry any more."
The next instant the telephone was upside down on the table and Katie,
sobbing, was in his arms. He was holding her close; and as her sobs grew
more violent he kissed her hair, murmured loving things. Suddenly she
raised her head--lifting her face to his. He kissed her; and all the
splendor of those eons of life was Katie's then.
Captain Jones had come down from Fort Sheridan late that afternoon. He
had been in Chicago for several days, as a member of a board assembled up
at Fort Sheridan. The work was over and he would return to the Arsenal
But he was not to go until midnight. He would have dinner and go to
the theater with some of the friends with whom he had been in those
last few days.
He wished it were otherwise. He was in no mood for them. He would far
rather have been alone.
He had a little time alone in his room before dinner and sat there
smoking, thinking, looking at the specks of men and women moving about in
the streets way down there below.
He was in no humor that night to keep to the everlasting talk about army
affairs, army grievances and schemes, all those things of a world within
a world treated as if larger than the whole of the world. The last few
days had shown him anew how their hold on him was loosening.
There seemed such a thing as the army habit of mind. Within their own
domain was orderliness, discipline, efficiency, subservience to the
collectivity, pride in it, devotion to it--many things of mind and
character sadly needed in the chaotic world without. But army men lacked
perspective; in isolation they had lost their sense of proportion, of
relationships. They had not a true vision of themselves as part of a
whole. They had, on the other hand, unconsciously fallen into the way of
assuming the whole existed for the part, that they were larger than the
thing they were meant to serve. Their whole scale was so proportioned;
their whole sense of adjustment so perverted.
They lacked flexibility--openness--all-sides-aroundness.
Life in the army disciplined one in many things valuable in life. It
failed in giving a true sense of the values of life.
He could not have said why it was those inflated proportions irritated
him so. They lent an unreality to everything. They made for false
standards. And more and more the thing which mattered to him was reality.
He tried to pull away from the things that thought would lure him into.
He had not the courage to let himself think of her tonight.
He feared he had not increased his popularity in the last few days. At a
dinner the night before a colonel had put an end to a discussion on war,
in which several of the younger officers showed dangerous symptoms of
hospitality to the civilian point of view, with the pious pronouncement:
"War was ordained by God."
"But man pays the war tax," he had not been able to resist adding, and
the Colonel had not joined in the laugh.
He found it wearisome the way the army remained so smug in its assumption
that God stood right behind it. When worsted on economic grounds--and
perhaps driven also from "survival of the fittest" shelter--a pompous
retreat could always be effected to divinity.
It was that same colonel who, earlier in the evening, had thus ended a
discussion on the unemployed. "The poor ye have always with you," said
the Colonel, delicately smacking his lips over his champagne and gently
turning the conversation to the safer topic of high explosives.
He turned impatiently from thought of it to the men and women far down
below. He was always looking now at crowds of men and women, always
hoping for a familiar figure in those crowds.
With all the baffling unreality there had been around her, she seemed to
express reality. She made him want it. She made him want life. Made him
feel what he was missing--realize what he had never had.
It seemed that if he did not find her he would not find life.
She, too, had wanted life. Her quest had been for life--that he knew. And
he wanted to find her that he might tell her he understood, tell
her--what he had never told any one--that all his life he, too, had
dreamed of a something somewhere.
And he was growing the farther apart from his army friends because he
had come to think of them as standing between.
During the summer he had seen. In the mornings when they were going to
work, in the evenings when they were going home, he had many times been
upon the streets with the people who worked. He could not any longer
regard the enlargement of the army, its organization and problems as the
most vital thing in the world. It did not seem to him that what the world
wanted was a more deadly rifle. His lip curled a little as he looked down
at the men and women below and considered how little difference it made
to them whether rifles were improved or not. And so many things did make
difference with them--they needed improvements on so many things--that to
be giving one's life to perfecting instruments of destruction struck him
as a sorry vocation.
It made him feel very distinctly apart.
He knew of no class of men more isolated from the real war of the world
than were the men of the army. They were tied up in their own war of
competition--competition in preparedness for war. They were frantically
occupied in the creation of a Frankenstein. They would so perfect
destruction as to destroy themselves. Meanwhile their blood had grown so
hot in their war of competition that they were in prime condition for
persuading themselves a real war awaited them. This hot blood found its
way into much talk of hardihood and strenuousness, vigor, martial
virtues, "the steeps of life," "the romance of history"--all calculated
to raise the temperature of tax-paying blood. So successful was the
self-delusion of the militarist that sanity appeared mollycoddelism.
Their greatest fear was fear of the loss of fear.
And now they were threatened by colorless economists who were
mollycoddelistically making clear that the "stern reality" was the giant
It seemed rather close to farce.
That night he was going back. Katie, too, had gone. For the first time
that summer neither of them would be there. It seemed giving up.
Loneliness reached out into places vast and barren in the thought that
both in the things of the heart and the affairs of men he seemed destined
to remain apart.
He looked far more the dreamer than the man of warfare as he sat there,
his face, which was so finely sensitive as sometimes to be called cold,
saddened with the light of dreams which know themselves for dreams alone.
That very first night, night when she had been so shy, he had felt in
her that which he called the real thing, which he knew for the great
thing, which had been, for him, the thing unattainable. And with all
her timidity, aloofness, elusiveness, he had felt an inexplicable
nearness to her.
He had found out something about the conditions girls had to meet. His
face hardened, then tightened with pain in the thought of those being the
conditions Ann was meeting. He did not believe those conditions would go
on many days longer if every man had to see them in relation to some one
he cared for. "The poor ye have always with you" might then prove less
authoritative--less satisfying--as the final word.
And the other conditions--things his sort stood for--Darrett--the whole
story--He had come to loathe the words chivalry and honor and all the
rest of the empty terms that resounded so glibly against false standards.
Something was wrong with the world and he could not see that improving a
rifle was going to go very far toward setting it right.
And there was springing up within him, even in his loneliness and gloom,
a passion to be doing something that would help set it right.
An older officer with whom he had been talking that day had spoken
lovingly of his father, under whom he had served; spoken of his hardihood
and integrity, his manliness and soldierliness. As he thought of it now
it seemed to him that just because he _was_ his father's son--had in him
the blood of the soldier--he should help fight the real battles of the
day--the long stern battles of peace.
His father had served, faithfully and well. He, too, would like to serve.
But yesterday's needs were not to-day's needs, nor were the methods of
yesterday desirable, even possible, for to-day. What could be farther
from serving one's own day than rendering to it the dead forms of what
had been the real service to a day gone by?
There came a curious thought that to give up the things of war might be
the only way to save the things that war had left him. That perhaps he
could only transmit his heritage by recasting the form of giving.
Looking out across the miles of the city's roofs, hearing the rumble of
the city as it came faintly up to him, watching the people hurrying to
and fro, there was something puerile in the argument that men any longer
needed war to fill their lives, must have the war fear to keep them from
softness and degeneration. Thinking of the problems of that very city, it
seemed men need not worry greatly about having nothing to fight for, no
stimulus to manhood.
Men and women! Those men and women passing back and forth and all the
millions of their kind, they were what counted. The things that
mattered to them were the things that mattered. Their needs the things
to fight for.
So he reflected and drifted, brushing now this, now that, in thought
Weary--lonely--he dreamed a dream, dream such as the weary and the lonely
have dreamed before, will dream again. Too utterly alone, he dreamed he
was not alone. Heart-hungry, he dreamed of love. He dreamed of Ann. He
had dreamed of her before, would dream of her again. Dream of her, if for
nothing else, because he knew she had dreamed of love; because she made
him know that it was there, because, unreasoningly, she made him hope.
Her face that night at the dance--that night in the boat, when they had
talked almost not at all, had seemed to feel no need for talking--things
remembered blended with things desired until it seemed he could feel her
hair brush his face, feel her breath upon his cheek, her arms about his
neck--vivid as if given by memories instead of wooed from dreams.
But the benign dream became torturing vision--vision of Ann with hands
held out to him--going down--her wonderful eyes fearful with terror.
It was that which dreaming held for him.
And it seemed that he--he and his kind--all of those who stood for the
things not real were the thing beating Ann down.
Dreams gone and vision mercifully falling away there came a yearning,
just a simple human yearning, to know where she was. He felt he could
bear anything if only he knew that she was safe.
The telephone rang. He supposed it was some of his friends--something
about the hour for dining.
He would not answer. Could not. Too sick of it all--too sore.
But it kept ringing, and, habit in the ascendency, he took down
It was not a man's voice. It was a woman's. A faint voice--he could
scarcely catch it.
And could with difficulty reply. He did not know the voice, it was too
faint, too far-away, but a suggestion in it made his own voice and hand
unsteady as he said: "Yes? What is it?"
"Is this--Captain Jones?"
The voice was stronger, clearer. His hand grew more unsteady.
"Yes," he replied in the best voice he could muster. "Yes--this is
Captain Jones. Who is it, please?"
There was a silence.
"Tell me, please," he managed to say. "Is it--?"
The voice came faintly back, "Why it's--Ann."
The keenest joy he had ever known swept through him. To be followed by
the most piercing fear. The voice was so faint--so unreal--what if it
were to die away and he would have no way to get it back!
It seemed he could not hold it. For an instant he was crazed with the
sense of powerlessness. He felt it must even then be slipping back into
the abyss from which it had emerged.
Then he fought. Got himself under command; sent his own voice full and
strong over the wire as if to give life to the voice it seemed must
"Ann," he said firmly, authoritatively, "listen to me. No matter what
happens--no matter what's the matter--I've got something you must hear.
If we're cut off, call up again. Will you do that? Are you listening?"
"Yes," came Ann's voice, more sure.
"I've got to see you. You hear what I say? It's about Katie. You care a
little something for Katie, don't you, Ann?"
It was a sob rather than a voice came back to him.
"Then tell me where I can find you."
"Tell me where you're living--or where I can find you. Now tell me the
truth, Ann. If you knew the condition Katie was in--"
She gave him an address on a street he did not know.
"Would you rather I came there? Or rather I meet you down town? Just as
you say. Only I _must_ see you tonight."
"I--I can't come down town. I'm sick."
His hand on the receiver tightened. His voice, which had been almost
harsh in its dominance, was different as he said: "Then I'll come
There was no reply, but he felt she was still there. "And, Ann," he said,
very low, and far from harshly, "I want to see you, too."
There was a little sob in which he faintly got "Good-bye."
He sank to a chair. His face was buried in his hands. It was several
minutes before he moved.
Children seemed to spring up from the sidewalk and descend from the roofs
as his cab, after a long trip through crowded streets with which three
months before he would have been totally unfamiliar, stopped at the
number Ann had given. All the way over he had been seeing children: dirty
children, pale-faced children, children munching at things and children
looking as though they had never had anything to munch at--children
playing and children crying--it seemed the children's part of town. The
men and women of tomorrow were growing up in a part of the city too
loathsome for the civilized man and woman of today to set foot in. He was
too filled with thought of Ann--the horror of its being where she
lived--to let the bigger thought of it brush him more than fleetingly,
but it did occur to him that there was still a frontier--and that the men
who could bring about smokeless cities--and odorless ones--would be
greater public servants than the men who had achieved smokeless powder.
Riding through that part of town it would scarcely suggest itself to any
one that what the country needed was more battleships.
The children still waited as he rang an inhospitable doorbell, as
interested in life as if life had been treating them well.
He had to ring again before a woman came to the door with a cup in her
hand which she was wiping on a greasy towel.
She looked very much as the bell had sounded.
She let him in to a place which it seemed might not be a bad field for
some of the army's boasted experts on sanitation. It was a place to make
one define civilization as a thing that reduces smell.
Several heads were stuck out of opening doors and with each opening
door a wave stole out from an unlovely life. Captain Wayneworth Jones,
U. S. Army, dressed for dining at a place where lives are better
protected against lives, was a strange center for those waves from
lives of struggle.
"She the girl that's sick?" the woman demanded in response to his inquiry
for Miss Forrest.
He replied that he feared she was ill and was told to go to the third
floor and turn to the right. It was the second door.
He hesitated, coloring.
"Would you be so kind as to tell her I am here? I think perhaps she may
prefer to see me--down here."
The woman stared, then laughed. She looked like an evil woman as she
laughed, but perhaps a laughing saint would look evil with two front
"Well we ain't got no _parlor_ for the young ladies to see their
young men in," she said mockingly. "And if you climbed as many stairs
as I did--"
"I beg your pardon," said he, and started up the stairway.
On the second floor were more waves from lives of struggle. The matter
would be solemnly taken up in Congress if it were soldiers who were
housed in the ill-smelling place. Evidently Congress did not take women
and children and disabled civilians under the protecting wing of its
Wet clothes were hanging down from the third floor. They fanned back and
forth the fumes of cabbage and grease. He grew sick, not at the thing
itself, but at thought of its being where he was to find Ann.
Though the fact that he was to find her made all the rest of it--the fact
that people lived that way--even the fact of her living that way--things
that mattered but dimly.
As he looked at the woman in greasy wrapper who was shaking out the wet
clothes he had a sudden mocking picture of Ann as she had been that night
at the dance.
The woman's manner in staring at him as he knocked at Ann's door
But when the door was opened--by Ann--he instantly forgot all outside.
He closed the door and stood leaning against it, looking at her. For the
moment that was all that mattered. And in that moment he knew how much it
mattered--had mattered all along. Even how Ann looked was for the moment
of small consequence in comparison with the fact that Ann was there.
But he saw that she was indeed ill--worn--feverish.
"You are not well," were his first words, gently spoken.
She shook her head, her eyes brimming over.
He looked about the room. It was evident she had been lying on the bed.
"I want you to lie down," he said, his voice gentle as a woman's to a
child. "You know you don't mind me. I come as one of the family."
He helped her back to the bed; smoothed her pillow; covered her with the
Ann hid her face in the pillow, sobbing.
He pulled up the one chair the room afforded, laid his hand upon her
hair, and waited. His face was white, his lips trembling.
"It's all over now," he murmured at last. "It's all over now."
She shook her head and sobbed afresh.
His heart grew cold. What did she mean? A fear more awful than any which
had ever presented itself shot through him. But she raised her head and
as she looked at him he knew that whatever she meant it was not that.
"What is it about Katie?" she whispered.
"Why, Ann, can't you guess what it is about Katie? Didn't you know what
Katie must suffer in your leaving like that?"
"I left so she wouldn't have to suffer."
"Well you were all wrong, Ann. You have caused us--" But as, looking into
her face, he saw what she had suffered, he was silenced.
She was feverish; her eyes were large and deep and perilously bright,
her temples and cheeks cruelly thin. But what hurt him most were not the
marks of illness and weakness. It was the harassed look. Fear.
_Fear_--that thing so invaluable in building character.
Thought of the needlessness of it wrung from him: "Ann--how could you!"
"Why I thought I was doing right," she murmured. "I thought I was
He smiled faintly, sadly, at the irony and the bitter pity of that.
"But how could you think that?" he pressed. "Not that it matters now--but
I don't see how you could."
She looked at him strangely. "Do you--know?"
"Then don't you see? I left to make it easy for Katie."
He thought of Katie's summer. "Well your success in that direction was
not brilliant," he said with his old dryness.
Her eyes looked so hurt that he stroked her hand reassuringly, as he
would have stroked Worth's had he hurt him. And as he touched her--it
was a hot hand he touched--it struck him as absurd to be quibbling
about why she had gone. She was there. He had found her. That was all
He became more and more conscious of how much it mattered. He wanted to
draw her to him and tell her how much it mattered. But he did
"And how did you happen to be so unkind as to call me up, Ann?" he asked
with a faint smile.
"I wanted--I wanted to hear about Katie. And I wanted"--her eyes had
filled, her chin was trembling--"I was lonesome. I wanted to hear
His heart leaped. For the moment he was not able to keep the tenderness
from his look.
"And I knew you were there because I saw it in the paper. A woman brought
back some false hair to be exchanged--I sell false hair," said Ann, with
a wan little smile and unconsciously touching her own hair--"and what she
wanted exchanged--though we don't exchange it--was wrapped up in a
newspaper, and as I looked down at it I happened to see your name. Wasn't
"Very humorous," he replied, almost curtly.
"I had been sick all day--oh, for lots of days. But I was trying to keep
on. I had lost two other places by staying away for being sick--and I
didn't dare--just didn't dare--lose this one. You don't know how
_afraid_ you get--how frightened you are--when you're afraid you're
going to be sick."
The fear--sick fear that fear of sickness can bring--that was in her eyes
as she talked of it suddenly infuriated him. He did not know what or whom
he I was furious at--but it was on Ann it broke.
He rose, overturning his unsteady chair as he did so, and, seeking
command, looked from the window which looked down into a squalid court.
The wretchedness of the court whipped his rage. "Well for God's sake," he
burst forth, "what did you _do_ it for! Of all the unheard
of--outrageous--unpardonable--What did you _mean_"--turning savagely
upon her--"by selling false hair?"
"Why I sold false hair," said Ann, a little sullenly, "so I could live."
"Well, didn't you know," he demanded passionately, "that you could _live_
She shook her head. "I didn't think I had any right to--after--what
He came back to her. "Ann," he asked gently, "haven't you a 'right
to'--if we want you to?"
She looked at him again in that strange way. "Are you sure--you know?"
"Very sure," he answered briefly.
"And do you mean to say you would want me--anyhow?" she whispered.
He turned away that she might not see how badly and in what sense he
wanted her. His whole sense of fitness--his training--was against her
seeing it then.
The pause, the way she was looking at him when he turned back to her,
made restraint more and more difficult. But suddenly she changed, her
face darkening as she said, smolderingly: "No--I'm not _that_ weak. If I
can't live--I'll _die_. Other people make a living! Other girls get
along! Katie would. Katie could do it."
She sat up; he could see the blood throbbing in her neck and at her
temples. She was gripping her hands. She looked so frail--so helpless.
"But Katie is strong, Ann," he said soothingly.
"Yes--in every way. And I'm not." She turned away, her face
twitching. "Why I seem to be just the kind of a person that has to be
taken care of!"
He did not deny it, filled with the longing to do it.
He would at one time have supposed that it would be, should be; would
have held to the idea that every man and woman ought be able to make a
living, that there was something wrong with them if they couldn't. But
not after the things he had seen that summer. The something wrong was
"And yet you don't know," Ann was saying brokenly, "how hard it is. You
don't know--how many things there are."
She turned to him impetuously. "I want to tell you! Then maybe it will
go. I couldn't tell Katie. But I don't know--I don't know why--but I
could tell you anything."
He nodded, not clear-eyed, and took one of her hands and stroked it.
Her cheeks grew more red; her eyes glitteringly bright. "You see--it's
_men_--things like--that's what makes it hard for girls."
He pressed her hand more firmly, though his own was shaking.
"Katie told you--Katie must have told you about--the first of it--" She
faltered. He drew in his breath sharply and held it for an instant. "And
after that--" She turned upon him passionately. "_Do_ they know? _Does_
it make a difference?"
He did not get her meaning for an instant and when he did it brought the
color to his face; he had always been a man of great reserve. But Ann
seemed unconscious. This was the reality that realities make.
He shook his head. "No. You only imagine."
"No, I don't imagine. They pretend. Pretend they know."
He gritted his teeth. So those were the things she had had to meet!
"They lie," he said briefly. "Bluff." And for an instant he covered his
eyes with her hand.
"You see after--after that," she went on, "I couldn't go back to the
telephone office. I don't know that I can explain why--but it seemed the
one thing I couldn't do, so--oh I did several things--was in a store--and
then a girl got me on the stage--in the chorus of 'Daisey-Maisey.' I
thought perhaps I could be an actress, and that being in the chorus would
give me a chance."
She laughed bitterly. "There are lots of silly people in the world,
aren't there?" was her one comment on her mistake.
"That night--the last night--" she told it in convulsive little
jerks--"the manager said something to me. _He_ pretended. And when he saw
how frightened I was--and how I loathed him--it made him furious--and he
said things--vowed things--and he kissed me--and oh he was so
_terrible_--his face--his lips--"
She hid her face, rocking back and forth. He sat on the bed beside her,
put his arm around her as he would around Katie or Worth, holding her
tenderly, protectingly, soothingly, his own face white, biting his lips.
"He vowed things--he claimed--I knew I couldn't stay with the company. I
was even afraid to stay until it was over that night. I had a chance to
run away--Oh I was so _frightened_." She kept repeating--"I was so
"I can't explain it--you'd have to see him--his _lips_--his thick, loose
"Ann," he whispered. "Please, dear--don't talk about it--don't think
"But I want it to go away! I don't want to be alone with it. I want
somebody to know. I want _you_ to know."
"All right," he murmured. "All right. I want to hear." His whole body was
set for pain he knew must come.
Ann's eyes were full of terror, that terror that lives after terror,
the anguish of terror remembered. "It's awful to be alone with awful
thoughts," she whispered. "To be shut in with something you're
"I know--I know," he soothed her. "But you're going to tell me. Tell
_me_. And then you'll never be alone with it again."
"I've been afraid so much," she went on sobbingly. "Alone so much--with
things that frightened me. That night I was alone. All alone. And afraid.
You see I went and went and went. Just to be getting _away_. And at last
I was out in the country. And then I was afraid of _that_. I went in
something that seemed to be a barn. Hid in some hay--"
He gripped her arm as if it were more than he could stand. His face was
"I almost went crazy. Why I think I _did_ go crazy--with fear. Being
alone. Being afraid."
He looked away from her. It seemed unfair to her to let himself see her
like that--her face distorted--unlovely--in the memory of it.
"When it came daylight I went to sleep. And when I woke up--when I woke
up--" She was laughing and sobbing together and it was some time before
he could quiet her. "When I woke up another man was bending over me--an
old man--so _old_--so--
"Oh, I suppose it was just that he was surprised at finding me there. But
I thought--I hadn't got over the night before--
"So again I went. Just went. Just to get away. And that was when I saw it
was life I'd have to get away from. That there wasn't any place in it for
me. That it meant being alone. Afraid. That it was just _that_--those
thick awful lips--that old man's eyes--Oh no--no--not that!"
She was fighting it with her hands--trying to push it away. It took both
tenderness and sternness to quiet her.
"So I hurried on,"--she told it in hurried, desperate way, as if fearful
she would not get it all told and would be left alone with it. "To find
a way. A place. I just wanted to find the way--the place--before
anything else could happen. I thought all the people who looked at me
_knew_. I thought there was nothing else for me--I thought there was
something wrong with me--and when I remembered what I had wanted--I
"I saw water--a bridge. On the bridge I looked down. I was going to--but
I couldn't, because a man was looking up at me. I hated him, too." She
paused. "Though I've thought of it since. It was a queer look. I believe
that man _knew_. And wanted to help me.
"But I didn't want to be helped. Nothing could help. I just wanted to get
away--have it over. So I hurried on--across your Island--though I didn't
know--just looking for a place--a way. Just to have it all over."
She changed on that, relaxed. Her eyes closed. "To have it all over," she
repeated in a whisper. She opened her eyes and looked up at him. "Doesn't
that ever seem to you a beautiful thing?"
His eyes were wet. "Not any more," he whispered. "Not now."
"Then again I saw water--the other side of the Island." She went back to
it with an effort, exhausted. "I ran. I wanted to get there. Have it all
over--before anything else could happen. I couldn't _look_--but I kept
saying to myself it would only be a minute--only a minute--then it would
be all over--not so bad as having things happen--being alone--afraid--"
She shuddered--drew back--living it--realizing it. Her
visioning--realizing--had gone on beyond her words, beyond the events.
She was shuddering as if the water were actually closing over her. But
again she was called back by Katie's voice and that look he felt he
should not be seeing went as a faint smile formed on her lips. "Then
Katie. Katie calling to me. Dear Katie--pretending.
"I didn't want to go. I thought it was just something else. And oh how I
wanted to get it all over!" She sobbed. "But I saw it was a girl. Sick. I
wasn't able to help going--and then--Well, you know. Katie. How she
fooled me. And saved me."
She looked up at him, again the suggestion of a smile on her
colorless lips. "Was there ever anybody in the world so wonderful--so
"But at first I couldn't believe in her. I thought it must be just
something else." She stopped, looking at him. "Why I think it wasn't till
after I met _you_ I felt sure it couldn't be--"
His arm about her tightened. He drew her closer to him. He was shaken by
a deep sob.
And so she rested, lax, murmuring about things that had happened,
sometimes smiling faintly as she recalled them. The terror had gone, as
if, as she had known, telling it to him had freed her. That twisted,
unlovely look which he had tried not to see, loving her too well to wish
to see it, had gone. She was worn, but lovely. She was resting. At peace.
And so many minutes passed when she would not speak--resting, rescued.
And then she would whisper of little things that had happened and smile a
little and seem to drift the farther into the harbor of security into
which she had come.
He saw that--exhausted, protected, comforted--she was going to fall
asleep. His heart was all tenderness for her as he held her, adoring her,
sorrowing over her, guarding her. "I haven't really slept all summer,"
she murmured at last, and after a few minutes her breathing told that
sleep had come.
But when, in trying to unfasten her collar--he longed to be doing some
little thing for her comfort--he took his hand from hers, she started up
in alarm and he had to put it back, reassuring her, telling her that she
was not alone, that nothing could ever harm her again.
An hour passed. And in that hour things which he would have believed
fixed loosened and fell. It was all shaken--the whole of his thinking. It
could never be the same again. Old things must go. New things come.
Watching Ann, yearning over her, sorrowing, adoring, he saw life as what
life had done to her. Saw it as the thing she had found.
He watched the curve of her mouth. Her beautiful bosom rising and falling
as she slept. The lovely line of her throat, the blood throbbing in her
throat, her long lashes upon her cheek, that loveliness--beauty--that
sweetness and tenderness--and _what it had met_. She, so exquisitely
fashioned for love--needful of it--so perfect--so infinitely to be
desired and cherished--and _what she had found_. He writhed under a
picture of that old man bending over her--of that other man--bully,
brute--thick awful lips snatching at her as a dog at meat. And then still
another man. That first man. Darrett. _His_ friend. _His_ sort. The man
who could so skillfully use the lure of love to rob life--
As he thought of him--his charm, cleverness--how that, too, had been
pitted against her--starved, then offered what she would have no way of
judging--close to her loveliness, conscious of her warmth, her breath,
the superb curves of her lovely body--thinking of what Darrett had
found--taken--what he had left her _to_--there were several minutes when
his brain was unpiloted, a creaking ship churning a screaming sea.
And now? Had it killed it in her? Taken it? If he were to kiss her in the
way he hungered to kiss her would it wake nothing more than that sick
terror in her wonderful eyes? That thought became as a band of hot steel
round his throat. Was it _gone_? How could she be sleeping that way with
her hand in his--his face so close to her--if there remained any of that
life-longing that had been there for Darrett to find?
Life grew too cold, too gray and misshapen in that thought to see it as
life. It could not be. It was only that she was exhausted. And her
trust in him.
At least there was that. Then he would make her care for him by caring
for her--caring for her protectingly, tenderly, surrounding her with that
sea of tenderness that was in his heart for her. Life would come back. He
would woo it back. And no matter how the flame in his own heart might
rage he would wait upon the day when he could bring the love light to
her eyes without even the shadow of remembering of fear.
So he yearned over her--sorrowing, hoping. And life was to him two
things. What life had done to Ann. What life would be with Ann. He wanted
to let himself touch his lips lightly to her temple--so close to him. But
he would not--fearing to wake the fear in her, vowing to wait till love
could come through a trust that must cast fear forever from the heart.
Passion melted to tenderness; the tenderness flooding him in thought of
the love he would give her.
That same night he had her taken to a hospital. It was the only way he
could think of for caring for her, and she was far enough from well to
permit it. He left her there, again asleep, and cared for. Then returned
to his hotel and telephoned Katie. It was past daylight before sleep
came to him.
Once again Katie was donning the dress which had the colors of the sea.
She was wearing it this time, not because she must get the poor old thing
worn out, but because she had been asked to wear it. "By Request" she was
saying to herself, with a warm smile, as she shook out its folds.
As Nora was fastening it for her she saw her own face in the mirror and
tried to twist it about in some way. It seemed she would have to make
some explanation to Nora for looking like that.
It had been a day of golden October sunshine without, and within Katie's
heart a day of such sunshine as all her years of sunshine had never
brought. She had not felt like playing golf, or like reading about
evolution; body and mind were filled with a gladness all their own and
she had taken a long walk in and out among the wooded paths of her
beautiful Island and had been filled with thoughts of many beautiful and
wonderful things. Of the past she had thought, and of the future, and
most of all of the living present: the night before, and that evening,
when he was coming to see her again and would have things to tell her.
He had wanted to tell them then--some of the things about himself which
he said she must know and which he gave fair warning would hurt her,
"Then not to-night," she had said.
And now the happiness was too great, filled her too completely and
radiantly for her to fear the pain of which she had been warned. She was
fortified against all pain.
Wayne's finding Ann seemed to throw the gate to happiness wide open to
her, giving her, not only happiness, but the right to it. She smiled in
thinking how, again, it was Ann who opened a door.
If Ann had never come she would not--in this way which had made it all
possible--have known her man who mended the boats. The experience with
Ann was as a bridge upon which they met. It was because of Ann they could
walk so far along that bridge.
The adventure, and what had come to seem the tragedy of the adventure,
was over. It turned her back to those first days of play--the pretending
which had led to realizing, the fancies which had been paths to
They would not go on in just that way; some other way would shape itself;
she and Wayne would talk of it, make some plan for Ann. She could plan it
better after the letter she would have from Wayne the next day telling of
It was a new adventure now. The great adventure. But it was because she
had ventured at all that the great adventure was offered her.
Her venturing had led her to the crowds. She was not forgetting the
crowds. She would go back to them. It could not be otherwise. There was
much she wanted to do, and so much she wanted to know. But she would go
back to them happy, and because happy, wiser and stronger.
In myriad ways life had beckoned to her, promised her, as with buoyant
step and singing heart she walked sunny paths that golden October
Later she had stopped to see Mrs. Prescott, and she, as she so often did,
talked of Katie's mother. Katie was glad to be talking of her mother,
and, as they also did, of her father. It brought them very near, so close
it was as if they could know of the beautiful happiness in their child's
heart. They talked of things which had happened when Katie was a little
girl, making herself as the little girl so real, visualizing her whole
life, making real and dear those things in which her life had been lived.
As she thought of it again that night, after she was dressed and was
waiting, hurt did come in the thought of his feeling for the army. She
must talk to him again about the army, make him see that thing in it
which was dear to her.
Though could she? She did not seem able to tell even herself just what
there was in her feeling for the army.
Instead of arguments, came pictures--pictures and sounds known from
babyhood: Men in uniform--her father in uniform, upon his horse--dress
parade--the flag--the band--from reveille to taps things familiar and
dear swept before her.
It would seem to be the picturesque in it which wove the spell; but would
her throat have tightened, those tears be springing to her eyes at a
thing no deeper than the picturesque? No, in what seemed that fantastic
setting were things genuine and fine: simplicity, hospitality,
friendship, comradeship, loyalty, courage in danger and good humor in
Those things--oh yes, together with things less admirable--she knew
to be there.
She got out her pictures of her father and mother; her father in
uniform--that gentle little smile on her mother's face. She thought of
what her mother had endured, of what hosts of army women had endured,
going to outlandish spots of the earth, braving danger and doing without
cooks! She was proud of them, proud to be of them.
She lingered over her father's picture. A soldier. Perhaps he was of a
vanishing order, but she hoped it would be long--very long--before the
things to be read in his face vanished from the earth.
Through memories of her father there many times sounded the notes of the
bugle--now this call, now that, piercing, compelling, sounding as _motif_
of his life, thing before which all other things must fall away. She
seemed to hear now the notes of retreat--to see the motionless
regiment--then the evening gun and the band playing the Star Spangled
Banner and the flag--never touching the ground--coming down for the
night. She answered it in the things it woke in her heart: those ideals
of service, courage, fidelity which it had left her.
She would talk to him--to Alan (absurd she should think it so
timidly--so close in the big things--so strange in some of the little
ones)--about her father and mother. To make them real to him would make
him see the army differently. It hurt her to think of his seeing it as he
did, hurt her because she knew how it would have hurt them. To them, it
had been the whole of their lives. They had not questioned; they had
served. They had given it all they had.
And that other thing there was to tell her--? Was that, too, something
that would have hurt them? She hoped not. It seemed she could bear the
actual hurt to herself better than thought of the hurt it would have
been to them.
But when the bell rang and she heard his voice asking for her a tumult of
happiness crowded all else out.
She was shyly radiant as she came to him. As he looked at her, it seemed
to pass belief.
But when he dared, and was newly convinced, as, his arms about her he
looked down into her kindling face, his own grew purposeful as well as
happy, more resolute than radiant. "We will make a life together," he
said, as if answering something that had been in his thoughts. "We will
beat it all down."
An hour went by and he had not told the story of his life, life itself
too mysterious, too luring, too beautiful. Whenever they came near to
it they seemed to hold back, as if they would remain as they were
then. Instead, they told each other little things about themselves,
absurd little things, drawing near to each other by all those tender
little paths of suddenly remembered things. And they lingered so, as
if loving it so.
It was when Katie spoke of her brother that he was swept again into the
larger seriousness. Looking into her tender face, his own grew grave.
"You know, Katie--what I told you--what I must tell you--"
"Oh yes," said Katie, "there was something, wasn't there?" But she put
out her hand as if to show there was nothing that could matter. He took
the hand and held it; but he did not grow less grave.
"Katie," he asked, "how much do you really care for the army?"
It startled her, stirring a vague fear in her happy heart.
"Why--I don't know; more than I realize, I presume." She was silent, then
He did not reply; his face had become sober.
"You are thinking," she ventured, "that your feeling for it is going to
be--hard for me?"
He nodded; he was still holding her hand tightly, as if to make sure of
"You see, Katie," he went on, with difficulty, "I have reason for
"What do you mean?" she asked sharply.
"I have tried not to show you that I knew anything--in a personal
way--about the army."
Her breath was coming quickly; her face was strained. But after a moment
she exclaimed: "Why--to be sure--you were in the Spanish War!"
"No," said he with a hard laugh, "I am nothing so glorious as a
He felt the hand in his grow cold. She drew it away and rose; turned away
and was picking the leaves from a plant.
But she found another thing to reach out to. "Well I suppose"--this she
ventured tremulously, imploringly--"you went to West Point--and were--
"No, Katie," he said, "I never went to West Point."
"Well then what did you do?" she demanded sharply.
He laughed harshly. "Oh I was just one of those fools roped in by a
recruiting officer in a gallant-looking white suit!"
"You were--?" she faltered.
"In the ranks. One of the men." The fact that she should be looking like
that drove him to add bitterly: "Like Watts, you know."
She stood there in silence, held. The radiance had all fallen from her.
She was looking at him with something of the woe and reproach of a child
for a cherished thing hurt.
"Why, Katie," he cried, "_does_ it matter so? I thought it was only when
we were _in_ that we were so--impossible."
But she did not take the hands he stretched out. She was held.
It drove him desperate. "Well if _that's_ so--if to have been in the army
at all is a thing to make you look like _that_--Heaven knows," he threw
in, "I don't blame you for despising us for fools!--But I don't know what
you'll say when I tell you--"
"When you tell me--what?" she whispered.
"That I have no honorable discharge to lay at your feet. That I left your
precious army through the noble gates of a military prison!"
She took a step backward, swaying. The anguish which mingled with
the horror in her face made him cry: "Katie, let me tell you! Let me
But Katie, white-faced, was standing erect, braced for facing it. "What
for? What did you do?"
Her voice was quick, sharp; tenseness made her seem arrogant. It roused
something ugly in him. "I knocked down a cur of a lieutenant," he said,
and laughed defiantly.
"You _struck_--an officer?"
"I knocked down a man who ought to have been knocked down!"
"_Struck_--your superior officer?"
"Katie," he cried, "that's your way of looking at it! But let me tell
you--let me show you--"
But she had turned from him, covered her face; and before Katie there
swept again those pictures, sounds: her father's voice ringing out over
parade ground--silent, motionless regiment; the notes of retreat--those
bugle notes, piercing, compelling, thing before which all other things
must fall away--evening gun and lowered flag--
She lifted colorless face, shaking her head.
"_Katie_!" he cried. "Our life--_our_ love--_our_ life--"
She raised her hand for silence, still shaking her head.
"Won't you--_fight_ for it?" he whispered. "_Try_?"
She kept shaking her head. "Anything else," she managed to articulate.
"Anything else. Not this. You don't understand. Can't. Never would."
Suddenly she cried: "Oh--_go away!_"
For a moment he stood there. But her face was locked against appeal.
Colorless, unsteady, he turned and left her.
Katie put out her hand. Her father--her father in uniform, it had been so
real, it seemed he must be there. But he was not there. Nothing was
there. Nothing at all. As the front door closed she started forward, but
there sounded for her again the notes of the bugle--piercing, compelling,
thing before which all other things must fall away. "Taps," this time, as
blown over her father's grave, soldiers' heads bowed and tears falling
for a fine soldier who would respond to bugle calls no more.
Paris was in one of her gray moods that January afternoon. Everything was
gray except the humanity. Emotion never seemed to grow gray in Paris.
From her place by the window in Clara's apartment Katie was looking down
into the narrow street, the people passing to and fro. Two men were
shaking hands. They would stop, then begin again. They had been doing
that for the last five minutes. They seemed to find life a very live
thing. So did the _femme de menage_ and her soldier, who also had been
standing over there for the last five minutes. Katie did not want to look
longer at the _femme de menage_ and her soldier, so she turned her chair
a little about and looked more directly at Clara.
Clara was in gray mood, too. Only Clara differed from the streets in that
it was the emotion was gray; the _robe de chambre_ was red.
So were Clara's eyes. "It's not pleasant, Katie," she was saying, "having
to remain here in Paris for these foggy months--with all one's friends
down on the Riviera."
"No," said Katie grimly, "life's hard."
Clara's tears flowed afresh. "I've often thought _you_ were hard, Katie.
It's because you've never--_cared._ You've never--suffered."
Katie smiled slightly, again looking out the window at the _femme_ and
her soldier, who were as contented with the seclusion offered by a
lamp-post as though it were seclusion indeed. As she watched them, "hard"
did not seem the precise word for something in Katie's eyes.
"You see, Katie," Clara had resumed, as if her woe gave her the right to
rebuke Katie for the lack of woe, "you've always had everything just the
way you wanted it."
"Just exactly," said Katie, still looking at the _femme de menage._
"Your grandfather left you all that money, and when you want to do a
thing all you have to do is do it. What can you know of the real sorrows
and hardships of life?"
"What indeed?" responded Katie briskly.
"And your heart has never been touched--and I don't believe it ever will
be," Clara continued spitefully--Katie seemed so complacent. "You have no
real feeling. You're just like Wayne."
Katie laughed at that and looked at Clara; then laughed again, and
"Speaking of Wayne," said Katie in off-hand fashion, "he's been
made a major."
She watched Clara as she said it. There were things Katie could be rather
"I'm sure that's very nice," said the woman who had divorced Wayne.
"Yes, isn't it? And other things are going swimmingly. One of those
things he used to be always puttering over--you may remember, Clara,
mentioning, from time to time, those things he used to be puttering
around with--has been adopted with a whoop. A great fuss is being made
over it. It looks as though Wayne was confronted with something that
might be called a future."
"I'm sure I'm very glad," said Clara, "that somebody is to have something
that might be called a future. Certainly a woman with barely enough to
live on isn't in much danger of being confronted with one."
Katie made no apology to herself for the pleasure she took in "rubbing it
in." She remembered too many things too vividly.
"It's pretty hard," said Clara, "when one has a--duty to society, and
nothing to go on."
Katie was thinking that society must be a very vigorous thing, persisting
through all the "duties" people had to it.
She smiled now in seeing that the thing which had brought her to Clara
that day was in the nature of a "duty to society" and that in her case,
too, a duty to society and a personal inclination moved happily together.
Katie was there that afternoon to buy Worth.
So she put it to herself in what Clara would have called her
characteristically brutal fashion.
She was sure Worth could be had for a price. She had that price and she
believed the psychological moment was at hand for offering it.
The reason for its being the psychological moment was that Clara wanted
to join a party at Nice and did not have money enough to buy the
clothes which would make her going worth while. For there was a man
there--an American, a rich westerner--whom Clara's duty to society moved
her to marry.
That was Katie's indelicate deduction from Clara's delicate hints.
And Katie wanted Worth. It wasn't wholly a matter of either affection or
convenience. It had to do, and in almost passionate sense, with something
which was at least in the category with such things as duties to society.
Worth seemed to her too fine, too real, to be reared by a "truly feminine
woman," as Clara had been known to call herself. Clara's great idea for
Worth was that he be well brought up. That was Clara's idea of her duty
to society. And it was Katie's notion of her duty to society to save him
from being too well brought up.
The things she had been seeing, and suffering, in the past year made her
feel almost savagely on the subject.
Katie had been there since October. Clara had magnanimously permitted
Worth to remain with his Aunt Kate most of the time, with the provision
that Katie bring him to her as often as she wanted him. This was
unselfish of Clara, and cheaper.
Clara's alimony was not small, but neither were her tastes. Indeed the
latter rose to the proportions of duties to society.
Katie knew it was as such she must treat them in the next half hour. She
must save the "maternal instinct" Clara was always talking about--usually
adding that it was a thing which Katie, of course, could not
understand--by taking it under the sheltering wing of the "child's good."
Katie knew just how to reach the emotions which Clara had, without
outraging too much the emotions she persuaded herself she had.
So she began speaking in a large way of life, how hard it was, how
complicated. How they all loved Worth and wished to do the best thing for
him, how she feared it must hurt the child's personality, living in that
unsettled fashion, now under one influence, now under another. She spoke
of Clara's own future, how she had _that_ to think of and how it was hard
she be so--restricted. She drew a vivid picture of what life might be if
Clara didn't "provide for the future"--she was careful to use no phrase
so raw to truly feminine ears as "make a good marriage." And then, rather
curtly when it came to it, tired of the ingratiating preamble, she asked
Clara what she would think of relinquishing all claim on Worth and taking
twenty thousand dollars.
Clara tried to look more insulted by the proposition than invited by the
sum. But Katie got a glimmer of that look of greed known to her of old.
She went on talking. She was sure every one would think it beautiful of
Clara to let Worth go to them just because they had a better way of
caring for him, just because it was for the child's good. Every one would
know how it must hurt her and admire her for the sacrifice. And then
Katie mentioned the fact that the matter could be closed immediately and
Clara start at once for Nice and perhaps that itself would "mean
something to the future."
From behind Clara's handkerchief--Clara's tears were in close relation to
Clara's sense of the fitness of things--Katie made out that life seemed
driving her to this, but that it hurt her to think so tragic a thing
should be associated with so paltry a sum.
"It's my limit," said Katie shortly. "Take it or leave it."
Amid more sobs Katie got that all the Jones family were heartless, that
life was cruel, but that she was willing to make any sacrifice for her
"Then I'll go down and get him," said Katie, rising.
Clara's sobs ceased instantly. "Get who?"
"My lawyer. I left him down there talking to the _concierge_."
"Katie Jones--how _could_ you!"
"Oh she looks like a decent enough woman," said Katie. "I don't think it
will hurt him any."
"Katie, you have grown absolutely--_vulgar_. And so _hard_. You have no
fineness--no intuition--nothing feminine about you. And how dared you
bring your lawyer here to me? What right had you to assume I'd do this?"
"Why I knew you well enough, Clara, to believe you would be willing to do
it--for your child's good."
Clara looked at her suspiciously and Katie hastened to add that she
brought him because she wanted to pay ten thousand francs on account and
she thought Clara might want to get the disagreeable business all
settled up at once so she could hurry on to Nice before those friends of
hers got over to Algiers, or some place where Clara might not be able to
go after them.
Clara again looked suspicious, but only said it was inconsiderate of
Katie to expect her to receive a lawyer with her poor eyes in that
But when Katie returned with him Clara's eyes were a softer red and she
managed to extract from the interview the pleasure of showing him that
she was suffering.
As she watched the transaction, Katie felt a little ashamed of herself.
Not because she was doing it, but because she had known so well how to do
it. But with a grimace she banished her compunctions in the thought of
its being for the child's good, and hence a duty to society.
Less easy to banish was the hideous thought that she might have been able
to get him for less!
By the time the attorney had gone Clara seemed to be looking upon herself
as one hallowed by grief; she was in the high mood of one set apart by
suffering. In her eyes was something which she evidently felt to be a
look of resignation. In her hand something which she certainly felt to be
an order for ten thousand francs.
The combination first amused and then irritated Katie. It was
exasperating to have Clara giving herself airs about the grief which was
to make such a sorry cut in Katie's income.
Clara, in her mellowed mood, spoke of the past, why it had all been as
it had. She was even so purged by suffering as to speak gently of Wayne.
"I hope, Katie--yes, actually hope--that Wayne will some time find it
possible to care, and be happy."
And when Katie thought of how much Wayne had cared, why he had not been
happy, it grew more and more difficult to treat Clara as one sanctified
It gave her a fierce new longing for the real, the real at all costs, a
contempt for all that artifice and self-delusion which made for the
things at war with the real.
She had enough malice to entertain an impulse to strip Clara of her
complacency, take away from her her pleasant cup of sorrow, make her take
one good look at herself for the woman she was rather than the woman she
was flaunting. But she had no zest for it. What would be the use? And,
after all, self-deception seemed a thing one was entitled to practice, if
What Katie wanted most was to get out into the air.
To get out into the air was the thing she was always wanting in those
days, or at least for the last two months it had been so. At first she
had been too wretched to be conscious of needing anything.
But Katie was not built for wretchedness; everything in her was fighting
now for air, what air meant to spirit and body.
It was in the sense of the spirit that she most of all wanted to get out
into the air, out into a more spacious country than the world Clara
suggested, out where the air was clear and keen and where there were
distances more vast than those which would shut her in.
For she had looked into a larger country. Allegiance to the smaller one
could not be whole-hearted.
She wondered if it were true she was getting hard. Something in her did
seem hardening. At any rate, something in her was wanting to fight, fight
for air, fight, no matter who must be hurt in the struggle, for that
bigger country into which she had looked, those greater distances, more
spacious sweeps. Sometimes she had a sense of being in a close room, and
nothing in the world was so dreadful to Katie as a close room, and felt
that she had but to open a door and find herself out where the wind would
blow upon her face. And the door was not bolted. It was hers to open, if
she would. There were no real chains. There were only dead hands, hands
which live hands had power to brush away. And the room was made close by
all those things which they of the dead hands had loved, things which
they had served, things which, for them, had been out in the open, not
making the air unbearable in a close room. And when she wanted to tell
them that she must get out of the room because it was too close for her,
that she could no longer stay with things which shut out the air, it
seemed they could not understand--for they were dead, but they could look
at her with love and trust, those hands, which could have been so easily
brushed away, as bolts on the door of the room holding the things they
had left for her to guard.
And they were proud, and their trusting eyes seemed to say they knew she
would not make all their world sorry for them.
She walked slowly across Pont du Carrousel, watching the people, the
people going their many ways, meeting their many problems, wondering if
many of them had well loved hands, either of life or death, as bolts upon
the doors which held them from more spacious countries, holding them so
securely because they could be so easily brushed away. It was people,
people of the crowds, who saved her from a sense of isolation her own
friends brought: for she was always certain that in the crowds was some
one else who was wondering, longing, perhaps a courageous some one who
Paris itself had fought, was fighting all the time. She loved it anew in
the new sense of its hurts and its hopes. And always it had laughed. She
felt kinship to it in that. Seeming so little caring, yet so deeply
understanding. The laughter-loving city had paid stern price that its
children might laugh. It seemed to her sometimes that one could love and
hate Paris for every known reason, but in the end always love for the
full measure it gave. She stood for a moment looking at the spire of
Sainte Chapelle, slender as a fancy, yet standing out like a conviction;
watching the people on the busses, the gesticulating crowds--blockades of
emotion, the men on the Quai rummaging among the book-stalls for possible
treasures left by men who had loved it long before, looking at the thanks
in stone for yesterday's vision of to-morrow, and everywhere cabs--as
words carrying ideas--breathlessly bearing eager people from one vivid
point to another in the hurrying, highly-pitched, articulate city.
It interested her for a time, as things that were live always interested
Katie. The city's streets had always been for her as waves which bore her
joyously along. But after a time, perhaps just because she was so live,
it made her unbearably lonely.
The things they might do together in Paris! The things to see--to
And still filled with her revolt against Clara's self-delusions, she
asked of herself how much the demand of her spirit to soar was prompted
by the hunger of her heart to love.
She could not say. She wondered how many of the world's people would be
able to say. How many of the spacious countries would have been gained
had men been fighting only for their philosophies, pushed only by the
beating of wings that would soar. But did that make the distances less
vast? Less to be desired? Though visioning be child of desiring--was the
vision less splendid, and was not the desire ennobled?
Her speculations were of such nature as to make her hurry home to see
whether there was American mail.
A certain letter which sometimes came to her was called "American mail."
All the rest of the American mail which reached Paris was privileged to
be classed with that letter.
Katie had come over in October with her Aunt Elizabeth, who felt the need
of recuperation from the bitter blow of her son's marriage. Katie, too,
felt the need of recuperation--she did not say from what, but from
something that made her intolerant of her aunt's form of distress. Her
aunt said that Katie was changing: growing unsympathetic, hard,
unfeminine. She thought it was because she did not marry. It would soften
her to care for some one, was the theory of her Aunt Elizabeth.
She had remained in order to be with Worth; and, too, because there
seemed nothing to go back to. Mrs. Prescott had come over to be for a
time with a niece who was studying music, and she and Katie were
together. Now the older woman was beginning to talk of wanting to go
back; she was getting letters from Harry which made her want to see him.
The letters sounded as though he were in love again.
And Katie was getting letters herself, letters to make her want to see
the writer thereof. They, too, sounded as if written by one in love. With
things as regards Worth adjusted, Katie would be free to go with her
friend, and she was homesick. At least that was the non-committal name
she gave to something that was tugging at her heart.
But--go home to what? For what?
Her vision had not grown any clearer. It was only that the "homesickness"
was growing more acute.
And that night's mail did not fill her with a yearning to become an
In addition to the "American mail" there was a letter from Ann. That
evening after Worth was asleep and Mrs. Prescott had gone to her room,
Katie reread both letters, and a number of others, and thought about a
number of things.
Wayne had undertaken the supervision of Ann. In his first letter, that
unsatisfactory letter in which he gave so few details about finding Ann,
he had said quite high-handedly that he was going to look after things
himself. "I think, Katie," he wrote, "that with the best of intentions,
your method was at fault. I can see how it all came about, but it is not
the way to go on. It was too unreal. The time of make-believe is over.
Ann is a real person and should work out her life in a real way, her own
way, not following your fancyings. She must be helped until she gets
stronger and more prepared. You've had the thing come too tragically to
you to see it just right, so I'm going to step in and I want you to leave
things to me."
So Wayne had "stepped in" and was lending Ann the money to study
stenography. Katie had made a wry face over stenography, which did not
have a dream-like or an Ann-like sound--but a very Wayne-like one!--but
had entered no protest; at that time she had been too dumbly miserable to
enter protest about anything.
Wayne seemed to her curt and rather unfeeling about the whole thing,
insisting, somewhat indelicately, she thought, on the point that Ann be
prepared to earn her own living and that there be no more nonsense about
her. She hoped he was kinder with Ann than he sounded in his letters
Ann was in New York. Wayne had said, and Katie agreed with him, that
Chicago was not the place for her to start in anew. She had gone through
too many hard things there. And Katie was glad for other reasons. With
Wayne in Washington, she would have no more occasion to be in the
middle-west and Ann would be too far away in Chicago.
But Katie was looking desperately homesick at that thought of having no
more occasion to be in the middle-west.
The man who mended the boats was still out there, mending boats and
finishing his play, which she knew now was to be about the army. One
reason he had wanted to mend boats there was that he might know some of
the men who worked in the shops at the Arsenal, interested in that
relation of labor to militarism.
For two months Katie had heard nothing from him. In those first months
he, too, seemed helpless before it, seemed to understand that Katie's
feeling was a thing he could not hope to understand--much less, change.
Then there rose in him the impulse to fight, for her, against it all,
stir her to fight.
"Katie," he wrote in that first letter, letter she was re-reading that
night, "we have seen two sides of the same thing. Our two visions,
experiences, have roused in us two very different emotions. Does that
mean it must kill for us what we have said is the biggest
emotion--experience--the greatest joy and brightest hope life has
"We're both bound by it. I by the hurt it's brought me, you by the
happiness; I by the hate it roused, you by the love that lingers round
it. Are we going to make no efforts to set ourselves free? Are we so much
of the past that the institutions of the past and the experiences and
prejudices of those institutions can shut us out from the future and from
"Katie, you have the rich gift of the open mind. I don't believe that,
lastingly, there's anything you'll shut out as impossible to consider.
Your eyes say it, Katie--say they'll look at everything, and just as
fairly as they can. Oh they're such honest, fearless, just eyes--so wise
and so tender. And it was I--I who love them so--brought that awful look
of hurt to those wonderful eyes. Katie--I want to spend all of my life
keeping that hurt look from those dear eyes!
"You're asked to do a hard thing, dear Katie. It's cruel it should be
_you_ so hard a thing is asked of. Asked to look at a thing you see
through the feeling of a lifetime as though seeing it for the first time.
To look at all you've got to push aside things you regarded as fixed. I
suppose every one has something that to him seems the things unshakable,
something he finds it terrifying to think of moving. All your traditions,
all your love and loyalty cling round this thing which it seems to you
you can't have touched. But Katie, as you read these pages won't you try
to think of things, not as you've been told they were, but just as they
seem to you from what you read? Think of them, not in the old grooves,
but just as it comes in to you as the story of a life?
"You'll try to do that for me, won't you, dear fair-minded,
"I was a country boy; lived on a farm, got lonesome, thought about things
I had nobody to talk to about, read things and wanted more things to
read, part the dreamer and part the great husky fellow wanting life,
adventure, wanting to see things and know things--most of all, experience
things. I want to tell you a lot about it sometime. I can't let go the
idea that there is going to be a sometime. Just because there's so much
to tell, if nothing else. And, Katie, _isn't_ there something else?
"No way to begin the story of one's life!
"Then I went away from home. To see the world. Try my fortune.
Experience. Adventure. That was the call.
"And the very first thing I fell in with that recruiting officer in the
white suit. I can see just how that fellow looked. Get every intonation
as he drew the glowing picture of life in the army.
"The army sounded good. The army was experience, adventure, with a
vengeance. A life among men. A chance. He told me that an intelligent
fellow like me would soon be an officer. Of course I agreed perfectly I
was an intelligent fellow, impressed with army intelligence in picking me
for one. Why I could see myself as commander-in-chief in no time!
"There's the cruelty of it, Katie. The expectation they rouse to get
you--the contemptuous treatment after they've got you. The difference
between the army of the 'Men Wanted For the Army' posters and the army
those men find after those posters have done their work.
"Remember your telling me about visiting at Fort Riley when you were
quite a youngster? The good time you had?--how gay it was? How charming
your host was? As nearly as I can figure it out, I was there at the same
time, filling the noble office of garbage man. Now, far be it from me,
believing in the dignity of all labor, to despise the office of garbage
man. I can think of conditions under which I would be quite happy to
serve my country in that capacity. But having enlisted because of the
noble figure of a soldier carrying a flag, I grew pretty sore at the
'Damn you, we've got you' manner in which I was ordered to carry
things--well, not to be too indelicate let us merely say things less
attractive than the flag.
"It's not having to peel potatoes and wash dishes; it's seeming to be
despised for doing it that stirs in men's hearts the awful soreness that
makes them deserters.
"In our regiment men were leaving right along. Our company had a
particularly bad record on desertions. Our captain, a decent fellow, was
away most of the time and the lieutenant in command was a cur. I'd find a
more gentle word for him if I could, but I know none such. Army men talk
a great deal about discipline. But there's a difference between
discipline and bullying. This fellow couldn't issue an order without
making you feel that difference.
"He had a laugh that was a sneer. It wasn't a laugh, just a smile; a
smile that sneered. He couldn't pass a crowd of men cutting grass without
making their hearts sore.
"I don't say he's the typical army man. I don't doubt that there are men
high in the army who, if all were known, would despise him as much as the
men in his company did. But I do say that if there were not a good many a
good deal like him more than fifty thousand young men of America would
not have deserted from the United States army in the past twelve years.
"There was a fellow in our company I had been particularly sorry for. He
wasn't a bad sort at all; he was more dazed than anything else; didn't
understand the army manner; the army snobbishness. This lieutenant
couldn't look at him without making him sullen.
"One day he told him to do a loathsome thing, then stood there with that
sneering smile watching him do it. Well, he did it, all right; that's
what _gets_ you, that powerlessness under what you know for injustice.
But that night he left.
"I knew he was going. He wanted me to go with him. I don't know why I
didn't. I don't blame men for deserting. But for my own part, it would
only be two years more; I used to say to myself, 'You got into this.
You'll see it through.'
"They caught him, brought him back the next day. I happened to be there
at the time. So did our spick and span lieutenant. The man who had been
caught--or boy, rather, for he was but that--was anything but spick and
span. His clothes were torn and muddy, his face dirty and bloody--it had
been scratched by something. He knew what he was in for. Court martial
and imprisonment for desertion. We knew what _that_ meant.
"He was a sorry, unsoldierly sight. Gone to pieces. Unnerved. All in. His
chin was quivering. And then the little lieutenant came along, starting
out for golf. He stood in front of him and looked him up and down--this
boy who had been caught. Boy who would be imprisoned. And as he looked at
him he laughed; or smiled rather, that smile that was a sneer.
"He stood there continuing to smile--torturing him with that smile he
couldn't do a thing about--this boy who was down; this fellow who was all
in. That was when I struck him in the face and knocked him down.
"The penalty for that, as I presume I need not tell an army girl, is
death. 'Or such other punishment as a court martial may direct.'
"The thing directed in my case was imprisonment at Fort Leavenworth for
five years. Most of the men in that prison would say, 'Give me death.'
"I'd better not say much about it. Something gets hot in my head when I
begin to talk about it. If you were with me--your cooling hand, your
steadying eyes--I could tell you about it. 'If you were with me'! I find
that a very arresting phrase, Katie.
"Those were black years. Cruel years. Years to twist a man's soul. They
took something from me that will not be mine again. I remember your
telling how Ann said there were things to make perfect happiness forever
impossible. She was right. There _are_ hours that stay.
"I went into the army just an adventurous boy. I came from it an
embittered man. My experience with it made me suspect all of life. I
was more than unhappy. I was sullen. I _hated_--and I wanted to get
even. Oh it was a lovely spirit in which I went forth a second time to
meet the world.
"I don't know what might not have happened, I think I was right in line
to become a criminal, like so many of the rest of them who have served
time at Leavenworth--I don't suppose the United States has any finer
school anywhere than its academy for criminals at Fort Leavenworth--had
it not been for a man I met.
"I got a job in a garage. I had always been pretty good at mechanical
things and knew a little about it. And there I met this man--and through
him came salvation.
"I don't know, Katie, maybe socialism will not save the world. I don't
see how it can miss it--but be that as it may, I know it has saved many a
man's soul. I know it saved mine.
"This fellow--an older man with whom I worked--talked to me. He saw the
state I was in, won my confidence and got my story. And then he began
talking to me and gave me books. He got me to come to his house instead
of the places I was going to, saying nothing against the other places,
but just making his things so much more attractive. We used to talk and
argue and gradually other things fell away just because there was no
room for them.
"You know I had loved books--read all I could get--but didn't seem to get
the right ones. Well, after I had served time breaking clay I didn't care
anything about books--too sore, too dogged, too full of hate. But the
love for the books came back, and through the books, and through this
friend, came the splendid saving vision.
"Vision of what the world might be--world with the army left out, with
all that the army represented to me vanished from the earth. With men
not ruling and cursing other men; but working together--the world for
all and all for the world. And the thing that saved me was that I saw
there was something to work for--something to believe in--look
at--think about--when old memories of the guard knocking me down with
the butt of his gun would tear into my soul and bring me low with the
hate they roused.
"And so I began again, Katie dear, that sense of things as they might
be--that vision--taking some of the sting from what I had suffered from
things as they were. I stopped hating and cursing; I began thinking and
dreaming. There came the desire to _know_. I tore into books like a
madman. I couldn't go on hating my fellow-men because I was too busy
trying to find out about them. And so it happened that there were things
more interesting to think about than the things I had suffered in the
army; I was carried out of myself--and saved.
"I wish I could talk to some of those other fellows! Some of those boys
who ran away from the army, not because they were criminals and cowards,
but just because they didn't know what to make of things. I wish I could
talk to some of those men who dug clay with me at Fort Leavenworth--men
who went away cursing the government, loathing the flag, hating all men,
and who have nothing to take them out of it. I wish I could take them up
with me to the hill-top and say--'There! Don't look at the little pit
down below! Look out! Look wide!'
"Katie--you aren't going to save men by putting them at back-breaking
work under brutalized guards. You aren't going to redeem men by
belittling them. You're going to save them by making them _see_. And the
crime of our whole system of punishments is that it does all in its
power, not to make them see, but to shut them out from seeing...."
In the letters which followed he told her other things, things he had
done, the work he hoped to do, what he wanted to do with his life. Told
it with the simplicity of sincerity, the fine seriousness untainted with
the self-consciousness called modesty.
He believed he could work with men; things he had already done made him
believe he could do more, bigger things. He wanted to help fight the
battles of the people who worked; not with any soldier of fortune notion,
but because he was one of those people, because he had suffered as one of
those people, and believed he saw their way more clearly than the mass of
them were seeing it.
And he wanted to write about men; had some reason for believing he could.
He was hoping that his play would open the way to many other things; it
looked as though it were going to be put on.
He told of his feeling for it. "More than a showing up and a getting
even, though there _is_ that. It will be no prancing steed and clanking
saber picture of the army. More digging of clay than waving of the flag.
I see significant things arising from that survival of autocracy in a
democracy, an interesting study in the bitter things coming out of the
relation of the forms and habits of a vanishing order to the aspirations
and tendencies of a forming one. And in that bending of spirit to form,
the army codes and standards making for the army habit of mind, the army
snobbishness and narrowness. The things that shape men, until a given
body of men have particular characteristics, particular limitations. You
said that if you loved them for nothing else you would love army people
for their hospitality. But in the higher sense of that beautiful word
they are the least hospitable of people. Their latch string of the spirit
is not out. Their minds are tight--fixed. They have not that openness of
spirit and flexibility of mind that make for wider visioning.
"And it's not that they haven't, but why they haven't, brings one
to the vein.
"Yes, I got the article you sent me, written by your army friend,
eloquent over the splendid things war has done for the human race, the
great things it has bred in us. Well if the 'war virtues' aren't killed
by an armed peace, then I don't think we need worry much about ever
losing them. It's the people at war for peace who are going to conserve
and utilize for the future the strong and shining things which days of
war have left us. Men who must base their great claim on what has been
done in the past are not the men to shape the future--or even carry the
heritage across the bridge. War is now a faithful servant of capitalism.
Its glorious days are over. It's even a question whether it's longer
valuable as a servant. It may lose its job before its master loses his.
In any case, it goes with capitalism; and if the good old war virtues are
to be saved out of the wreck it's the wreckers will save them!
"Which is not what I started out to say. This play into which I'm
seeking to get the heart of what I've lived and thought and dreamed is
not the impersonal thing this harangue might make it sound. I trust it's
nothing so bloodless as a study of economic forces or picture of the
relationship of old things to new. It's that only as that touches a man's
life, means something to that life. It's about the army because this man
happens, for a time, to be in the army--it's what the army does to him
that's the thing.
"Though it seems to me a pretty dead thing in these days. Life itself is
a dead thing with you gone from it."
In the letter she received that night he wrote: "Katie, is it going to
spoil it for us? Can it? _Need_ it? We who have come so close? Have so
much? Are outlived things to push us apart? That seems _too_ bitter!
"Oh don't think that I don't _see_. The things it would mean giving up.
The wrench. And, for what?--your friends would say. At times I wonder how
I _can_--ask it, hope for it. Then there lives for me again your
wonderful face as it was when you lifted it to me that first time.
_You_--and I grow bold again.
"I don't say you wouldn't suffer. I don't say there wouldn't be hurts,
big hurts brought by the little things arising from lives differently
lived. I know there would be times of longing for things gone. For the
sunny paths. For it couldn't be all sunny paths with me, Katie. Those
years in the dark will always throw their shadow.
"Then, how dare I? Loving you--laughing, splendid you--how can I?
"Because I believe that you love me. Remembering that light in your eyes,
knowing _you_, I dare believe that the hurts would be less than the hurt
of being spared those hurts.
"I can hear your friends denouncing me. Hear their withering arguments,
and I'll own that at times they do wither. But, Katie, I just can't seem
to _stay_ withered!
"You're such an upsetting person, dear Katie. To both heart and
philosophy. It's not possible to hate a world that Katie's in. World that
didn't spoil Katie. And if there are many of the _you_--oh no other real
you!--but many who, awakened, can fight as you can fight and love as you
can love--wouldn't it be a joke on us revolutionists if we were cheated
out of our revolution just by the love in the hearts of the Katies?
"Well, nobody would be so happy in that joke as would the defrauded
"You make me wonder, Katie, if perhaps it isn't less the vision than the
visioning. Less the thing seen than that thing of striving to see. Make
me feel the narrowness in scorning the trying to see just because not
agreeing with the thing seen. Sometimes I have a new vision of the world.
Vision of a world visioning. Of the vision counting less than the
"Those moments of glow bear me to you. Persuade me that our visions must
be visioned together.
"Life's all empty without you. The radiance is not there. In these days
light comes only through dreams, and so I dream dreams and see visions.
"Dreams of _us_--visions of the years we'd meet together. And you are
not bowed and broken in those visions, Katie. You're very strong and
buoyant--and always eager for life--and always tender. No, not
_always_ tender. Sometimes fighting! Telling me I don't know what I'm
talking about. It's a splendid picture of Katie fighting--eyes
shining, cheeks red.
"And then at the very height of her scorn, Katie happens to think of
something funny. And she says the something funny in her inimitable
way. Then she laughs, and after her laugh she's tender again, and says
she loves me, though still maintaining I didn't know what I was
"And in the visions there are times when Katie is very quiet. So still.
Hushed by the wonder of love. Then Katie's laughing eyes are deep with
mystery, Katie's face seems melted to pure love, and from it shines the
light that makes life noble.
"In these days of a fathomless loneliness I dare not look long upon
"Do you ever hear a call, dear heart? A call to a freer country than
any country you have known? Call to a country where the things which
bind you could bind no more? And if in fancy you sometimes let
yourself drift into that other country, am I with you there? Do you
ever have a picture of our venturing together into the unknown
ways--daring--suffering--rejoicing--_growing_? Sometimes sunshine and
sometimes storm--but always open country and everwidening sky-line. Oh
Katie--how splendid it might be!"
She read and re-read it, dreaming and picturing. And at length there
settled upon her that stillness, that pause before life's wonder and
mystery. Her eyes were deep. The light that makes life noble glorified
her tender face.
She broke from it at last to look for a card they had there giving dates
They would get in late that afternoon. Off on the horizon was a hazy mass
which held the United States of America, as sometimes the haze of a dream
may hold a mighty truth.
Katie and Mrs. Prescott were having a brisk walk on deck. They paused and
peered off at that mist out of which New York must soon shape itself.
"Just off yonder's your country, Katie," the older woman was saying.
"Soon you'll see the flag flying over Governor's Island. Will it make