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Uncle William by Jennette Lee

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"Eight more," said Uncle William, rapping the cork into place. "That
'lows for one more fever for me afore I die--I don't cal'ate to have
but one more." He looked about for his hat. "I'm goin' out a little
while," he said, settling it on his head.

"Wait a minute, Uncle William." The young man stretched out his hand.
"How did you come to know I needed you?"

Uncle William took the hand in his, patting it slowly. "Why, that was
nateral enough," he said. "When Sergia wrote me, sayin' you was

"Sergia wrote you?" the young man had turned away his eyes. "She
should not have done it. She had no right--"

"Why not?" said Uncle William. He seated himself by the bed. There was
something keen in the glance of his blue eyes. "You're goin' to be
married, ain't you?"

The head on the pillow turned uneasily. "No--not now."

"Why not?"

"I shall never be able to take care of her."

"Shucks!" said Uncle William. "Let her take care of you, then."

The tears of weakness came into the young man's eyes.

Uncle William's gaze was fixed on space. "You've been foolish," he
said--"turrible foolish. I don't doubt she wants to marry you this

"She shall not do it." He spoke almost fiercely.

"There, there," said Uncle William, soothingly, "I wouldn't make such
a fuss about it. Nobody's goin' to marry you 'thout you want 'em to.
You jest quiet down and go to sleep. We'll talk it over when I come


When he returned the artist was awake. His eyes had a clearer look.

Uncle William surveyed them over the top of his parcels. "Feelin'
better?" he said.


He carried the parcels into the next room, and the artist heard him
pottering around and humming. He came out presently in his shirt-
sleeves. His spectacles were mounted on the gray tufts. "I've got a
chowder going'," he said. "You take another pill and then you'll be
about ready to eat some of it, when it's done."

"Can I eat chowder?" The tone was dubious, but meek.

"You've got all your teeth, hain't you?"


"Well, then, I guess you can eat it."

"I haven't been eating much."

"I shouldn't think you had." Uncle William spoke dryly. "You needn't
be a mite afraid o' one o' my chowders. A baby could eat 'em, if it
had got its teeth."

The artist ate the chowder, when it came, and called for more, but
Uncle William refused him sternly. "You jest wait awhile," he said,
bearing away the empty plate. "There ain't more'n enough for a
comfortable dish for me. You don't want to eat it all, do you?"

"No," said the artist, flushing.

"I thought not." It took Uncle William a long time to eat his portion,
and the artist fell asleep again, watching the rhythmic motion of the
great jaw as it went slowly back and forth.

When he wakened again it was almost dark in the room. Uncle William
sat by the window, looking down into the street. He came across to the
bed as the artist stirred. "You've had a good long sleep." He laid a
hand on the moist forehead. "That's good. Fever's gone."

"It will come back. It always does." There was anxious dread in the

"It won't this time." Uncle William sat nodding at him mildly. "I know
how you feel--kind o' scared to believe anything--anything that's

The artist smiled. "/You/ never felt that way!"

"Jest that way," said Uncle William. "I didn't /want/ to believe I
wa'n't al'ays goin' to be sick. I kep' kind o' thinkin' I'd rather be
sick'n not--jest as if the devil had me."

"Yes"--the young man spoke almost eagerly--"it's the way I've been!
Only I didn't know it till you said so."

"The' 's a good many things we don't know--not jest exactly know--till
somebody says 'em."

They sat quiet, listening to the hum from the street.

"I've done some queer things," said the artist.

"Like enough." Uncle William did not ask what they were.

"They begin to look foolish." He turned his head a little.

"Do you good--best thing in the world."

"I don't see how I /could/." The tone was uneasy. "I must have been
beastly to her."

Uncle William said nothing.

"She didn't tell you?" The artist was looking at him.

"She? Lord, no! women don't tell anything you've done to 'em--not if
it's anything bad."

"I might have known. . . . I fairly turned her out. But she kept
coming back. She wanted me to marry her, so she could stay and take
care of me." He was not looking at Uncle William.

"And you wouldn't let her?"

"I couldn't-- There was no money," he said at last.

Uncle William glanced about him in the clear dusk. "Comf'tabul place,"
he said.

The artist flushed. "She pays the rent, I suppose. They would have
turned me out long since. I haven't asked, but I know she pays it.
There is no one else."

"She is rich, probably," said Uncle William.

"Rich?" The young man smiled bitterly. "She has what she earns. She
works day and night. If she should stop, there would be nothing for
either of us."

"Not unless suthin' come in," said Uncle William. "Suthin' might come
in. You'd kind o' like to see her, wouldn't you?"

The artist held out a hand as if to stop him. "Not till I can pay her
back, every cent!"

"Guess you need another pill, likely," said Uncle William. He got up
in the dark and groped about for the bottle. His great form loomed
large above the bed as he handed it to the young man. "That's four,"
he said soothingly. "Jest about one more'll fix ye."

The young man swallowed it almost grudgingly. He lay back upon the
pillow. "I can pay her the money sometime." His gaunt eyes were
staring into the dark. "But I can never make up to her for the way I
treated her."

"Mebbe she didn't mind," said Uncle William, non-committally.
"Sometimes they don't."

"Mind? She couldn't help minding. I was a fiend to her. I did
everything but strike her."

A smile grew, out of the dark, in Uncle William's face. "I was
thinkin' about that ol' chief," he said slowly--"the one that give me
the pills. I treated him--why, I treated him wuss 'n anything.
'Course, he wa'n't like white folks; but I was fightin' crazy with the
fever, not sick enough to go to bed, but jest sittin' around and
jawin' at things. I dunno /how/ he come to take such a likin' to me.
Might 'a' been on account o' my size--we was about the same build. I'd
set and jaw at him, callin' him names. Don't s'pose he understood half
of 'em, but he could see plain enough I was spittin' mad. He'd kind o'
edge up to me, grinnin' like and noddin', and fust thing I knew, one
day, he'd fetched a pill and made me take it. I was mad enough to 'a'
killed him easy, but 'fore I could get up to do it, I fell asleep
somehow. And when I woke up I felt different. /You/ feel different,
don't you?"

The artist smiled through the soft dark. "I would like to get down on
my knees."

Uncle William smoothed the spread in place. "They'd feel kind o'
sharp, I guess. I wouldn't try it--not yet. You wait till Sergia

"/Will/ she come?"

"She'd come to-night if she knew you wanted her. You go to sleep, and
in the mornin' you'll take that other pill." He lifted the pillow and
turned it over, patting it in place. "Why, that ol' chief he was so
glad when he see me feelin' better he acted kind o' crazy-like. I held
out my hand to him when I woke up; but he didn't know anything about
shakin' hands. He jest got down and took my feet and hugged 'em. It
made me feel queer," said Uncle William. "You do feel queer when you
hain't acted jest right."


"Can I see her to-day?" It was the first question in the morning.

"You better?"


"You feelin' well enough to sit up?"


"Well, then, you can stay where you be another day." Uncle William
smiled cheerfully.

"Can I see her?"

"We'll see about that. I've got a good many things to tend to." Uncle
William bustled away.

After a time his head was thrust in the door. "I'll go see her,
myself, byme-by," he said kindly. "Mebbe she'll come back with me."

"It's too late now." The artist spoke a little bitterly.

"Too late!" Uncle William came out, reproachful and surprised. "What
d'you mean?"

"It's quarter to nine. She goes to work at nine. She has pupils--she
teaches all day."

Uncle William's face dropped a little. "That's too bad now, ain't it!
But don't you mind. I wa'n't just certain I'd let you see her to-day,

"When can I?"

Uncle William pondered. "You're in a good deal of a hurry, ain't you?"

"I want to tell her--"

"Yes, yes, I know. Well, 'bout to-morrow. How'd that do?"

"You could send her a note," said the artist.

"I'm goin' to see her," said Uncle William. "She'll be to home this
evenin', won't she?"


"I'll go see her."

The artist looked doubtful.

"Can't I got see her?" said Uncle William.

"I was wondering whether you could find the way."

"H'm-m. Where'd you say it was?"

"Eighteenth Street, near Broadway."

"Eighteenth? That's somewheres between Seventeenth and Nineteenth,
ain't it?" said Uncle William, dryly.

"Yes." The artist smiled faintly.

Uncle William nodded. "I thought so. And I don't s'pose they've
changed the lay of Broadway a gre' deal?"

"No--not much."

"Well, I reckon I can find it. I gen'ally do; and I can't get far out
o' the way with this." He touched the compass that hung from the fob
of the great watch. "I've been putty much all over the world with
that. I reckon it'll p'int about the same in New York as it does in
Arichat. Now, I've got your breakfast 'most ready, but I can't seem to
remember about your coffee.-- You take sugar and milk in it, don't

"Yes." The tone was almost sulky.

Uncle William looked at him shrewdly over his spectacles. "I don't
believe you feel well enough to see anybody for a good while, do you?"

The artist's face changed subtly--like a child's. It was almost

Uncle William laughed out. "That's better--a little mite better. I
guess 'bout day after to-morrow you'll do to see company."

The young man stretched out a hand. "I /must/ see her. I shall get

"There, there. I wouldn't try to get up if I was you," said Uncle
William, genially. "I've put away your clothes, different places. I
don't jest know where they be, myself. It'll be quite a chore to get
'em all together. You jest lie still, and let me manage."

The young man ate his breakfast with relish. A subtle resolve to get
up and do things was in his eye.

Uncle William watched it, chuckling. "Sha'n't be able to keep him
there more'n a day longer," he said. "Better feed him well whilst I
can." He prepared clam-broth and toast, and wondered about an omelet,
rolling in and out of the room with comfortable gait.

The artist ate everything that was set before him, eagerly. The
resolve in his eye yielded to appreciation. "You ought to have been a
chef, Uncle William. I never tasted anything better than that." He was
eating a last bit of toast, searching with his fork for stray crumbs.

Uncle William nodded. "The' 's a good many things I'd o't to 'a' been
if I'd had time. That's the trouble with livin'. You don't hev time.
You jest practise a day or two on suthin'--get kind o' ust to it--and
then you up and hev to do suthin' else. I like cookin' fust rate while
I'm doin' it. . . . I dunno as I /should/ like it reg'lar, though.
It'd be kind o' fiddlin' work, gettin' up and makin' omelets every

"You're an artist," said the young man.

"Mebbe. Don't you think you've licked that plat about clean?" Uncle
William looked at it approvingly. "It ain't much work to wash dishes
for you."

At intervals during the day the artist demanded his clothes, each time
a little more vigorously. Uncle William put him off. "I don't see that
picter of my house anywheres 'round," he said when pressed too close.


"You sent it off?"

"Yes." The young man was silent a minute. "Sergia took them--all of
them--when I fell sick. They were not ready--not even framed. She was
to send them to the committee. I have not heard."

"I'll go see 'em in the mornin'," said Uncle William.

"I don't know that you can--"

"Can't anybody go in--if it's an exhibit--by payin' suthin'?"

"I mean, I don't know that they're hung."

"Well, I wouldn't bother about that. I'd like to see 'em jest as well
if they ain't hung. I'm putty tall, but I can scooch down as well as
anybody. It'll seem kind o' good to see the ol' place. I was thinkin'
this mornin' I wish't there was two-three rocks round somewheres. I
guess that's what picters are for. Some folks /hev/ to live in New
York--can't /get/ away. I sha'n't mind if they ain't hung up. I can
see 'em all right, scoochin' a little."

The young man smiled. "I don't know that they're accepted."

"Why not--if she sent 'em?"

"Oh, she sent them all right. They may have been refused."

"At an exhibit?"


"Well, up our way we don't do like that. We take everything that comes
in--pies and pickles and bedquilts and pumpkins and everything; putty
triflin' stuff, some of it, but they take it. This is different, I

"A little. Yes. They only take the best--or what they call the best."
The tone was bitter.

Uncle William looked at him mildly. "Then they took yourn--every one
on 'em. They was as good picters as I ever see."

The artist's face lightened a little. "They /were/ good." His thought
dwelt on them lovingly.

Uncle William slipped quietly away to his room. The artist heard him
moving about, opening and shutting bureau drawers, humming gently and
fussing and talking in broken bits. Time passed. It was growing dark
in the room.

The artist turned a little impatiently. "Hallo there!"

Uncle William stuck out his head. "Want suthin'?"

"What are you doing?" said the artist. It was almost querulous.

Uncle William came out, smoothing his neckerchief. It was a new one,
blue like the sky. "I was fixin' up a little to go see her. Do I look
to suit you?" He moved nearer in the dusk with a kind of high pride.
The tufts of hair stood erect on his round head, the neckerchief had a
breezy knot with fluttering ends, and the coat hung from his great
shoulders like a sail afloat.

The artist looked him over admiringly. "You're great!" he said. "How
did you come to know enough not to change?"

"I've changed everything!" declared Uncle William. His air of pride
drooped a little.

The artist laughed out. "I mean you kept your same kind of clothes. A
good many people, when they come down here to New York, try to dress
like other folks--get new things."

Uncle William's face cleared. He looked down his great bulk with a
smile. "I like my own things," he said. "I feel to home in 'em."


Uncle William found the door of the studio, and bent to examine the
card tacked on the panel. "Sergia Lvova, Teacher of Piano and Violin."

He knocked gently.

"Come in." The call came clear and straight.

Uncle William opened the door.

A girl sat at a table across the room, her eyes protected by a green
shade from the lamp that burned near and threw its light on the page
she was copying. She glanced up as the door opened and pushed up the
green shade, looking out from under it inquiringly. She peered a
moment and then sprang up, thrusting aside the shade with a quick
turn. "I am so glad you've come." She crossed the room, holding out
her hands. There was something clear and fresh in the motion--like a
free creature, out of doors.

Uncle William stood smiling at her. "How do you know it's me?" he

The girl laughed quietly. "There couldn't be two." Her voice had a
running, musical quality, with deep notes in it and a little accent
that caught at the words, tripping them lightly. She had taken his
hands with a swift movement and was holding them, looking at him
earnestly. "You are just as he said," she nodded.

Uncle William returned the look. The upturned face flushed a little,
but it did not fall. He put out his hand and touched it. "Some like a
flower," he said, "as near as I can make out--in the dark." He looked
about the huge, bare room, with its single flame shining on the page.

She moved away and lighted a gas-jet on the wall, and then another.
She faced about, smiling. "Will that do?"

Uncle William nodded. "I like a considabul light," he said.

"Yes." She drew forward a chair. "Sit down."

She folded her hands lightly, still scanning him. Uncle William
settled his frame in the big chair. His glance traveled about the
room. The two gas-jets flared at dark corners. A piano emerged
mistily. Music-racks sketched themselves on the blackness. The girl's
face was the only bit of color. It glowed like a red flower, out of
the gloom. Uncle William's glance came back to it. "I got your letter
all right," he said.

"I knew you would come."

"Yes." He was searching absently in his pocket. He drew out the bluish
slip of paper with rough edge. He handed it to her gravely. "I
couldn't take that, my dear, you know."

She put it aside on the table. "I thought you might not have money
enough to come at once, and he needed you."

"Yes, he needed me. He's better."

Her face lightened. The rays of color awoke and played in it. "You
have cured him."

"Well,"--Uncle William was judicious,--"I give him a pill."

She laughed out. "He needed /you/," she said.

"Did he?" Uncle William leaned forward. "I never had anybody need me--
not really need me." His tone confided it to her.

She looked back at him. "I should think every one would."

He looked a little puzzled. "I dunno. But I see, from the way you
wrote, that /he/ did, so I come right along."

"He will get well now."

"He was middlin' discouraged," said Uncle William.

"He couldn't see anything the way it is." Her face had flushed a
little, but the light in her eyes was clear.

Uncle William met it. "You showed a good deal of sense," he said.

The face, as she pushed back the hair from it, looked tired. "I had to
think for two."

Uncle William nodded. "He wants to see you."

She mused over it. "Do you think I'd better?"

"No," said Uncle William, promptly.

Her lips remained parted. "Not to-morrow?" she said. Her lips closed
on the word gently.

"Not for a considabul spell." Uncle William shook his head. "He ain't
acted right."

"He was ill."

"He was sick," admitted Uncle William, "--some. But it was some
cussedness, too. That ain't the main thing though." Uncle William
leaned nearer. "He'll get well faster if he has suthin' to kind o'
pester him."

She looked at him with open eyes.

"It's the way men be," said Uncle William. "The Lord knew how 't was,
I reckon, when he made 'em. He hadn't more'n got 'em done, 'fore he
made wimmen." He beamed on her genially. "He'll get well a good deal
faster if the' 's suthin' he thinks he wants and can't have."

"Yes. How will you keep him away?" A little twinkle sounded in her

"I'll take him home with me," said Uncle William, "up to Arichat."


"Well, in a day or two--soon's it's safe. It'd do anybody good." His
face grew wistful. "If you jest see it once, the way it is, you'd know
what I mean: kind o' big sweeps,"--he waved his arm over acres of
moor,--"an' a good deal o' sky--room enough for clouds, sizable ones,
and wind. You'd o't to hear our wind." He paused, helpless, before the
wind. He could not convey it.

"I /have/ heard it."

He stared at her. "You been there?"

"I've seen it, I mean--in Alan's pictures."

"Oh, them!" His tone reduced them to mere art. But a thought hung on
it. "Where be they?" he asked.

"At the 'Exhibition of American Artists.'" It was the tone of sheer

"They took 'em, did they?" said William.

"They couldn't help it. They sent back one for lack of room, but he
will have four hung."

"That's good. You haven't told him?"

"I only heard an hour ago, and I had copying to finish. I have a
little recital, of my pupils, this evening. I was planning to write
the letter and mail it on the way out."

Uncle William started up. "I'm hinderin' ye."

"No--please." She had forced him back gently. "I shall not have to
write the letter now. Tell me about him." Her face was alight.

Uncle William considered. "The' ain't much to tell, I guess. He's
gettin' better. He's actin' the way men gen'ally do."

"Yes--?" Her voice sang a little. "And he wants to see me?"

"Wust way," said Uncle William; "but he ain't goin' to. What was you
copyin' when I come in?"

"Some music--for one of the big houses. It helps out."

Uncle William was looking at her thoughtfully. "He'd better give up
his place when we go," he said. "He'll, like enough, stay with me all

"His rooms, you mean?" She mused a little. "Yes, perhaps--"

"They must cost a good deal," said Uncle William.

"They do." She paused a minute. "He is almost sure to take a prize,"
she said. "It's the best work he has done."

"That'll be good," said Uncle William. "But we won't count too much on
it. He won't need money in Arichat. A little goes a long ways up
there. Good night." He was holding out his hand.

She placed hers in it slowly. Uncle William lifted the slim fingers.
He patted them benignly. "They don't look good for much, but they're
pretty," he said.

She laughed out quietly. "They have to be," she said. "They're my
tools. I /have/ to be careful of them. That is one of the things we
quarreled about--Alan and I. He knew I ought not to use them and he
wouldn't let me do things for him, and he wouldn't have a nurse, nor
go to the hospital." She sighed a little. "He was very obstinate."

"Just like a mule," assented Uncle William. He was stroking the
fingers gently. "But he's got a new driver this time." He chuckled a

She looked up quickly. "Has he consented to go?"

"Well, we're goin'.--It comes to the same thing I reckon," said Uncle
William. He was looking at the dark face with the darker lines beneath
the eyes. "You'll hev an easier time," he said. "It's been putty hard
on you."

"Oh, I don't mind," quickly, "--only the misunderstandings--and the

"That was the fever," said Uncle William.

"But /I/ didn't have the fever," said the girl. "I might have been

"Well, I reckon the Angil Gabriel himself'd quarrel with a man that
had one of them intermittent fevers," said the old man thoughtfully.
"They're powerful trying'. You feel better--a little--and you perk up
and think you're goin' to get well, and then, fust thing you know,
there you are--all to do over again. If I had my ch'ice of all the
diseases in the calendar, that's the one I /wouldn't/ take. Some on
'em you hev the comfort of knowin' you'll die of 'em--if ye live long
enough." He chuckled a little. "But this one, ye can't die and ye
can't get well."

"But /he/ is going to get well?" The girl's eyes held him.

"Yes, he'll be all right if he can set out in the wind a spell--and
the sun. The fever's broke. What he wants now is plenty to eat and
good company. You'll be comin' up to see us byme-by, mebbe?" He looked
at her hopefully.

"Do you think I could?"

"Well, I dunno why not. He'll be gettin' restless in a month or so.
You might as well be married up there as anywhere. We've got a good
minister--a fust-rate one."

She smiled a little wistfully. "He won't have me," she said.

"Shucks!" said Uncle William. "You come up, and if he don't marry you,
I will."

A bell sounded somewhere. She started. "I must go." A thought crossed
her face. "I wonder if you would like it--the recital?" She was
looking at him, an amused question in her eyes."

"Is it speaking pieces?" said Uncle William, cautiously.

"Playing them, and singing--one or two. It's a musicale, you know. You
might like it--" She was still thinking, her forehead a little
wrinkled. "They are nice girls and-- Oh--?" the forehead suddenly
lifted, "you /would/ like it. There are sea-pieces--MacDowell's.
They're just the thing.--" She held him hospitably.--"Do come. You
would be sure to enjoy it."

"Like enough," said Uncle William. "It takes all kinds of singing to
make a world. I might like 'em fust-rate. And it won't take long?"

"No--only an hour or two. You can leave /him/, can't you?" The pretty
forehead had wrinkled again.

"Easy as not," said Uncle William. "Best thing for him. He'll have a
chance to miss me a little."

She smiled at him reproachfully. "We'll have to hurry, I'm afraid.
It's only a step. But we ought to go at once."

Uncle William followed in her wake, admiring the quick, lithe
movements of the tall figure. Now that the flower-like face was turned
away, she seemed larger, more vigorous. "A reg'lar clipper, and built
for all kinds of weather," said Uncle William as he followed fast. "I
wouldn't be afraid to trust her anywheres. She'd reef down quick in a
blow." He chuckled to himself.

She looked around. "Here we are."


They had paused at the foot of a flight of stairs. Down the narrow
hall-way floated a mingled sound of voices, high and low, with
drifting strains of violin-bows laid across strings and quickly

The old man looked at her inquiringly. "They hain't begun?"

She shook her head. "They're tuning up."

His face lifted a little. "I reckoned that couldn't be the beginnin'.
But ye can't al'ays tell. They make queer noises sometimes."

"Yes.--I must leave you now." She had ushered him into a small hall.
"I'm going to have you sit here, quite near the platform, where I can
see you." She looked at him a little anxiously. "You don't need to
stay if you don't like it, you know."

"Oh, I shall like it fust-rate," he responded. "It looks like a real
comf'tabul chair to set in."

He seated himself in it and beamed upon the room. The place she had
selected for him was near the platform and facing a little toward the
audience. It had occurred to her, in a last moment of indecision, that
Uncle William might enjoy the audience if the music proved too classic
for him. She left him with a little murmur of apology.

A young girl in pink chiffon, with a bunch of huge pink roses,
fluttered forward with a program.

Uncle William took it in pleased fingers. He searched for his
spectacles and mounted them on his nose, staring at the printed lines.
The audience had settled down to attention. Amused glances traveled
toward the big figure absorbed in its program. Sergia had whispered a
word here and there as she left the room. It made its way back through
the crowd--"A friend of Mademoiselle Lvova's--a sea-captain. She has
brought him to hear the MacDowell pieces." The audience smiled and
relaxed. The music was beginning. Two young girls played a concerto
from Rubenstein, with scared, flying fingers. They were relieved when
it was done, and the audience clapped long and loud. Some one brought
them bunches of flowers--twin lilies, tied exactly alike, with long
white ribbons. Uncle William, his spectacles pushed up on the tufts of
hair, watched with admiring glance as they escaped from the stage. He
turned to his right-hand neighbor, an old gentleman with white hair
and big, smooth, soft hands, who had watched the performance with
gentle care.

"Putty girls," said Uncle William, cordially.

The man looked at him, smiling. "One of them is my granddaughter,
sir," he responded affably.

She came from the door by the platform and sat down near her
grandfather, the lilies and the long white ribbons trailing from
nervous fingers. Uncle William leaned forward and smiled at her,
nodding encouragement.

She replied with a quick, shy smile and fixed her eyes on the

More pupils followed--young girls and old ones, and a youth with a
violin that fluttered and wailed and grew harmonious at last as the
youth forgot himself. Uncle William's big, round face beamed upon him.
Sergia, watching him from behind the scenes, could see that he
regarded them all as nice children. He would have looked the same had
they played on jews'-harps and tin horns. But he was enjoying it. She
was glad of that.

She came out during the intermission to speak with him. "They're all
through now," she said encouragingly.

He looked down at his program bewildered, and a little disappointed,
she thought. "They got 'em all done?--I didn't hear that 'Wanderin'
Iceberg' one," he said regretfully. "I cal'ated to listen to that. But
I was so interested in the children that I clean forgot.--They're nice
children." He looked about the room where they were laughing and
talking in groups. "Time to go, is it?"

"Not yet. That was only the first half--the pupils' half. The rest is
what I wanted you to hear--the sea-pieces and the others. They are
played by real musicians."

"You goin' to do one?" asked Uncle William.

"Yes, one." She smiled at him.

"I'll stay." He settled back comfortably.

"That's right. I must go now and speak to some of the mothers. They
only come for the first half. They will be going home." She moved

Uncle William's eyes followed her admiringly. He turned to the old
gentleman beside him. "Nice girl," he said.

"She is a fine teacher," responded the old gentleman. "She had not
been here long, but she had a good following. She has temperament."

"Has she?" Uncle William looked after her a little quizzically. "Makes
'em stand around does she? You can't ever tell about temper. Sometimes
it's the quietest ones has the wust. But she makes 'em work good. You
can see that."

"Yes, she makes them work." The old gentleman smiled upon him kindly
and patronizingly. He had been born and brought up in New York. He was
receptive to new ideas and people. There was something about Uncle
William--a subtle tang--that he liked. It was a new flavor.

Uncle William studied his program. "Sounds more sensible'n some of
it." He had laid a big finger on a section near the end. "I can
understand that, now, 'To an Old White Pine.' That's interestin'. Now
that one there." He spelled out the strange sounds slowly, "'Opus 6,
No. 2, A minor, All-e-gro.' Now mebbe /you/ know what that means--/I/
don't. But an ol' white-pine tree--anybody can see that. We don't hev
'em up my way--pine-trees. But I like 'em--al'ays did--al'ays set
under 'em when they're handy. You don't hev many round here?"

The old gentleman smiled. "No; there are not many old white pines in
New York. I can remember a few, as a boy."

"Can ye?--Right in the center here?" Uncle William was interested.

"Well, not just here--a little out. But they're gone." The old
gentleman sighed. "MacDowell has caught the spirit. You can hear the
wind soughing through them and the branches creaking a little and
rubbing, and a still kind of light all around. It's very nice."

"Good poetry, I s'pose," assented Uncle William. "I don't care so much
for poetry myself. Some on it's good," he added thoughtfully. "'The
Boy Stood on the Burning Deck,' that swings off kind o' nice, and
'Horatius at the Bridge.' But most on it has a kind o' travelin' round
way with it--has to go round by Robin Hood's barn to get anywheres.
I'm gen'ally sort o' drowsy whilst it's bein' read."

The old gentleman had laughed out genially. "MacDowell doesn't write
poetry, except short things--lines for headings. He makes it on the

"Makes an old white-pine tree?" demanded Uncle William.

"Well--something like that."

Uncle William returned to his program. "There'll be a 'water-lily,'
then, will the'? and an 'eagle,' and a 'medder brook,' and a
'wanderin' iceberg,' and a 'pair o' bars'?" He looked up with a soft
twinkle. "And like enough a rooster or two, and a knock-kneed horse. I
keep a-wonderin' what that wanderin' iceberg'll be like. I've /seen/ a
wanderin' iceberg,--leastways I've come mighty near one,--but I ain't
ever /heard/ it. You ever met a wanderin' iceberg?" His tone was
friendly and solicitous.

The New York man shook his head. "Only the human kind."

Uncle William chuckled. "I've met that kind myself--and the other
kind, too." He paused suddenly. The audience had hushed itself. Sergia
was seated at the piano.

It was a Beethoven number, a sonata. Uncle William apparently went to
sleep. Sergia, watching him, smiled gently. He must be very tired,
poor dear. The next number will keep him awake all right. It did. It
was sung by a famous baritone--"Fifteen men on a dead man's chest! Yo
ho! Yo ho!" Uncle William sat up. Joy radiated from him. He clutched
his chair with both hands and beamed. The audience laughed with
delight and clapped an encore.

"Goin' to do it again, is he?" said Uncle William. "Now that's good of
him, ain't it? But I should think he'd kind o' like to. I'd like to do
it myself if I could."

"Fifteen men on a dead man's chest!" rolled out the voice.

"He gets the spirit of it," said the old gentleman when the song had
ended and the applause had subsided.

"Jest so. I've been there myself--come within an ace o' havin' /my/
chest set on once. They was all fightin' drunk, too--jest like that.
Gives ye the same kind o' feelin's--creepy and shivery-like. What's
/he/ goin' to do?" A long-haired youth had appeared on the platform.
He approached the piano and stood looking at it thoughtfully, his head
a little to one side.

"It's Flanders. He plays the MacDowell--the 'Wandering Iceberg,' you

"H'm-m." Uncle William took down his spectacles to look at the youth
through them. "You think he can do it all right? He ain't very hefty."

The youth had seated himself. He struck a heavy, thundering chord on
the keys and subsided. His hands hung relaxed at his sides and his
eyes were fixed dreamily on the wall before him.

"Has he got her started?" It was a loud whisper from Uncle William.

The old gentleman shook his head.

Uncle William waited patiently. There was a gentle trickle on the keys
--and another. Then a pause and more trickles--then some galloping
notes, with heavy work in the bass.

Uncle William looked interested. "She's gettin' under way, like

"Sh-h!" The old gentleman held up a hand.

There were some long, flowing lines and a swirling sound that might
have been water, and low growls in the bass, and a general rumbling
and gritting and sliding and tumbling among the notes. The sounds
stopped altogether. The youth sat staring before him. Applause broke
from the audience. The youth got up and left the platform.

Uncle William stared after him with open mouth. "Has he got her done?"
He turned to the man at his side.

"All done. How did you like it?"

"Well"--Uncle William squinted thoughtfully at his program--"I thought
I was goin' to like it fust-rate--if he'd got to it."

"He didn't get there, then?" The man laughed.

"Not to the iceberg." Uncle William shook his head. A kindly look grew
in his face. "I dunno's he's so much to blame, though. An iceberg must
be kind o' hard to do, I should think likely."

"/I/ should think it might be. Music isn't cold enough."

"'T ain't the cold," said Uncle William, hastily. "I run acrost an
iceberg once. We was skirmishin' round up North, in a kind o' white
fog, frosty-like, and cold--cold as blazes; and all of a sudden we was
on her--close by her, somewheres, behind the frost. We wa'n't cold any
more. It was about the hottest time I ever knew," he said

"What happened?"

Uncle William roused himself. "Well, after a spell we knew she wa'n't
there any more, and we cooled down some. But we wa'n't real cold--not
for much as a day or so."

The youth had returned to the piano. The audience met him with wild
applause, half-way, and he bowed solemnly from his hips. There was a
weary look in his face.

Uncle William looked him over critically. "He don't more'n half like
it, does he?"

The other man coughed a little. Then he laughed out.

Uncle William smiled genially. "I've seen his kind--a good many times.
Looks as if they was goin' to cry when you was feedin' 'em sugar. They
gen'ally like it real well, too." He consulted his program. "Goin' to
do a hammock, is he?"

The hammock began to sway, and Uncle William's big head rocked softly
in time to it. "Some like it," he said when it was done; "not enough
to make you sea-sick--jest easy swingin'."

The youth had not left the piano. He played "The Bars at Sunset," and
"A Water Lily," and "The Eagle," and then the two sea pieces. Uncle
William listened with mild attention.

When it was over and the audience had begun to disperse, Sergia came
out. She approached Uncle William, scanning his face. "How did you
like it?"

"They all done?" he demanded.

"Yes. Did you like the sea pieces?"

"I liked 'em. Yes--I liked 'em." Uncle William's tone was moderate.

Sergia was smiling at him a little. "The 'Depths of the Ocean'--you
liked that best, didn't you?"

Uncle William looked guilty. "I knew you was goin' to ask me about
that one," he said, "and I'd meant to listen hard--real hard--to it. I
hain't ever been quite so far down as that, but I thought mebbe I
could gauge it. But you see,"--his tone grew confidential and a little
apologetic,--"when they got that far along, I couldn't really tell
which was which. I wa'n't /plumb/ sure whether it was the eagle he was
doin' or the dep'hs, and it mixed me up some. I didn't jest know
whether to soar up aloft or dive considabul deep. It kep' me kind o'
teeterin' betwixt and between--" He looked at her appealingly, yet
with a little twinkle somewhere below.

"I see." Sergia's face was dancing. "The names /do/ help."

"That's it," said Uncle William, gallantly. "If he'd 'a' read off the
names, or stopped quite a spell between the pieces, I'd 'a' done fust-
rate. He was playin' 'em nice. I could see the folks liked 'em." He
smiled at her kindly.

Sergia smiled back. "Yes, they like MacDowell. They think they
understand him--when they know which it is." Her smile had grown
frank, like a boy's. "But which did you like best of all?"

"Of the hull thing?" he demanded. He looked down at the program. "They
was all nice," he said slowly--"real nice. I dunno when I've heard
nicer singin' 'n playin'. But I reckon that one was about the nicest
of the lot." He laid his big thumb on a number.

Sergia and the old gentleman bent to look. It was the Beethoven

Sergia glanced at the old gentleman. He met the glance, smiling. "A
tribute to our hostess," he said.

"A tribute to Beethoven," returned Sergia. Then, after a moment, she
laughed softly. Sergia was not addicted to MacDowell.


Uncle William crept into the rooms like a thief, but the artist was
sleeping soundly. He did not stir as the latch gave a little click in
the lock. "That's good," said Uncle William. He had slipped off his
shoes and was in his stocking feet. He stole over to the bed and stood
looking down at the thin face. It was a little drawn, with hollow
eyes. "He'll perk considabul when he hears about them picters," said
Uncle William.

But in the morning when, after breakfast, Uncle William announced his
great news, the artist ignored it. "Is she coming--Sergia?"

Uncle William scowled his forehead in recollection. "Now, I can't seem
to remember 't she said so."

"What /did/ she say?" The tone was imperative.

"Well, she asked how you was gettin' along. I told her that--as well
as I could."

"Didn't you tell her I wanted to see her?"

"Yes, I told her that." Uncle William's voice was impartial.


"She didn't seem to think much of it. I guess if I was you I'd hurry
up and get well so 's to go see /her/."

The artist's face had grown hard. "I shall not go until I can carry
her the money in my hand--all that I owe her."

"Is 't a good deal?" asked Uncle William.

But the artist had turned his face to the wall.

Uncle William looked down at him with a kind of compassionate justice.
"If I was you--"

A whistle sounded and an arm, holding a letter, was thrust in at the

"What is it?" The artist had turned. He half raised himself, reaching
out a hand. "What is it? Give it to me."

Uncle William examined the lines slowly. "Why, it seems to be for me,"
he said kindly. "I dunno anybody that'd be writin' to me."

He found his glasses and opened it, studying the address once or twice
and shaking his head.

The artist had sunk back, indifferent.

"Why!" The paper rustled in Uncle William's hand. He looked up. "She's
gone!" he said.

The artist started up, glaring at him.

Uncle William shook his head, looking at him pityingly. "Like as not
we sha'n't see her again, ever."

The artist's hand groped. "What is it?" he whispered.

"She's gone--left in the night."

"She will come back." The gaunt eyes were fixed on his face

Uncle William shook his head again, returning the gaze with a kind of
sternness. "I dunno," he says. "When a man treats her like Andy has,
she must kind o' hate him--like pizen."

The artist sat up, a look of hope faint and perplexed, dawning beneath
his stare. He leaned forward, speaking slowly. "What are you talking

"I'm talkin' about that." Uncle William held out the letter. "It's
from Andy, and Juno's left him. Took to the woods. She couldn't stan'
havin' him round, I guess." Uncle William chuckled a little.

The young man lay back. He moistened his lips a little with his
tongue. "You were talking about /her/?" The words were a whisper.

Uncle William looked at him over his glasses. "Didn't you hear me say

There was a long silence. "I thought you meant--Sergia."

"Sergia!--What!" Uncle William looked down at the letter. A light
dawned slowly in his eye. He fixed it on the young man. A chuckle
sounded somewhere and grew in little rolls, tumbling up from the
depths. "You thought I meant--her!" Uncle William's sides shook
gently. "Lord, no! Sergia didn't run away. She'll stan' by till the
last man's hung. She's that kind."

"I know." The tone was jealous. "I ought to know."

"Yes, you ought to know." Uncle William left the moral to take care of
itself. He did up the work, singing hopefully as he rolled about the
room, giving things what he called "a lick and a promise."

"You were late last night," said the artist, watching him.

"Yes, considabul late," said Uncle William. He had come upon another
pile of cigar-ashes behind a picture on the shelf, and was brushing it
up, whistling softly. "You must 'a' smoked a good deal," he said,
rapping out the ashes. "I've been sweepin' 'em up ever since I come."

"I did. It helped me forget."

"It didn't help you get well, I reckon," said Uncle William. "What you
need," he added, "is fresh air and wind--and rocks."

The artist mused. "It would seem good."

The old man had paused in his work. "Will you go--to-morrow?"

The artist looked about him, hesitating. "I couldn't get ready--"

"/I'll/ get ye ready."

"We might--in a week?"

"I can't wait," said Uncle William, decisively. "I've got to look up
Juno. She'll like enough get desperate--drown herself the first thing
I know. /I'm/ goin' to start to-morrow. If you want to go along, I'll
pack ye up."

The young man looked at him helplessly. "I can't get along without
you. You know I need you."

"Yes, I know you need me," said Uncle William. "I kind o' counted on
that." He began to pack vigorously, emerging now and then out of the
dust and clatter to beam on the young man. "Now, don't you worry a
mite. You're goin' to get well and earn money and come back and pay
her, and everything's comin' out all right."

In the afternoon tickets arrived from Sergia. There was a line with
them, asking Uncle William to call for her, at eight, that evening.
The artist looked at the tickets a little enviously. "I should like to
go, myself," he said. "It's the first view." He glanced at Uncle
William appealingly.

The old man ignored it. "You couldn't go, noways," he said; "not if
we're goin' to start to-morrow."

The artist sighed. He was sitting in an arm-chair, wrapped in a
blanket, a pillow behind his head. "I don't suppose I could." He
sighed again.

Uncle William looked at him keenly. "The' 's a good deal of leg-work
to an exhibit, ain't they?"

"Yes." The artist smiled faintly.

Uncle William nodded. "I thought so. Well, it's all /you/ can do to
set in a chair with a piller behind you. I wouldn't say no more about
picters if I was you." He took down the mirror and laid it between two
cushions, holding it in place while he reached for the knot. "I don't
suppose you have the least idee how you look," he said. "I cal'ate to
have you look a sight better'n that 'fore Sergia sees you."

The artist's face flushed. "Give me the glass."

Uncle William shook his head. "I've got to hustle to get these things
done." He drew the sailor's knot firmly in place. "I cal'ate to have
everything ready so 's to get an early start."

"She wouldn't mind how I looked," said the young man, defensively.

"Mebbe not." Uncle William was gathering together the trifles from the
shelf and table, and knotting them in a table-spread. "You want to
save this out?" he asked indifferently. It was a picture of the girl
in an oval frame.

The young man seized it. He was looking at it with warm eyes.

Uncle William glanced down on them from his height. "Mebbe not," he
said gently, "but I reckon she'd hate to see ye lookin' like that.
It's about all I can stan' to see ye, myself."


The girl looked up from her copying. Uncle William stood in the
doorway, beaming on her. She got up quickly. "You are early."

Uncle William held out a hand detainingly. "You set right down and go
to work. I come early a-purpose. I thought I'd like to set a spell and
watch ye."

The girl resumed her copying. The lamp beside her shed its dull glow
on the page, and on her face and neck, as she bent to it. The dark
room rose mysteriously behind her. Uncle William settled himself in
his chair with a breath of relief.

When she had finished the copying she came across to him. "It is done
now." She smiled to him through the dim light.

"Keeps you workin' pretty steady, don't it?" said Uncle William.

"Yes." There was no complaint in the word.

Uncle William nodded. "I reckoned I'd find you doin' it. That's why I
come early. I kind o' wanted a chance to set--where 't was quiet and
things wa'n't worryin'."

She leaned forward. "Is he worse?"

"Well, not worse, so to speak, but kind o' triflin'--wanting his own
way a good deal. If I was home, I wouldn't mind it a mite. I'd go
outdoor and take two-three good whiffs, look at the water and see how
things was comin' on. I'd be all right in no time. But here--" He drew
a kind of caged breath. "It's worse /out/door 'n 't is /in/."

"You mind the noise, don't you?" She was looking at him

"Well, 't ain't the noise so much,--I've heard the ocean roar,--it's
folks. Pesters me havin' 'em round--so many on 'em."

Her look changed to a little wonder. "I should think you would like to
be with them. You help them." She spoke the words softly, almost
shyly. The clear glow of her eyes rested on his face.

The face showed no pride. "Yes, I reckon I help 'em--some. There's
gen'ally suthin' to do, if you're where folks be; but I have to get
away from 'em. Can't breathe if I don't. And there ain't any place to
go to. I was feelin' a good deal cooped up to-night, and then I
thought o' your place here." He moved his hand toward the dark
recesses. "It's kind o' clean and high."

They sat in silence, the girl's head resting on her hand.

Uncle William watched her face in the half-light. "You're gettin'
tired and kind o' peaked."

She looked up. "I am resting."

"Yes--yes, I know how it is. You stan' all you can and byme-by you
come to a place you can rest in, and you jest rest--hard."


"You ought to 'a' asked somebody to help ye," said Uncle William,

"There wasn't any one."

"There was me."

"Yes. I /did/ ask you when I couldn't go on."

"That wa'n't the way. Somebody would 'a' helped--your folks, like
enough--" He stopped, remembering.

"They are dead."

He nodded. "I know. He told me. But I'd forgot--for a minute. They
been dead long?"

"Two years. It was before I came away--at home, in Russia. We were all
coming--father and mother and I, and my brother. Then they died; but I
wanted to be free." She had flung out her arms with a light movement.

"It's a dretful good place to get away from," said Uncle William.
"Nice folks come from there, too. I never saw one that wa'n't glad to
come," he added.

She smiled. "I was glad; and I am glad I came here. It has been hard--
a little--but I found Alan." Her voice sang.

"Some folks would say that was the wust of it," said Uncle William.
"You found him and he fell sick, and you had him to take care on--
cross as two sticks some of the time." He regarded her mildly.

"/You/ don't think so," she said.

"Well, mebbe not, mebbe not," responded Uncle William. "I'm sort o'
queer, perhaps."

She had turned to him half wistfully. "Don't you think I might see him
--just a little while?"

Uncle William shook his head. "You've been too good to him. That's the
wust of wimmen folks. What he needs now is a tonic--suthin' kind o'
bitter." He chuckled. "He's got me."

She smiled. "When are you going to take him away?"


She started. "It is very soon," she said softly.

"Sooner the better," said Uncle William. "It'll do us both good to
smell the sea." He pulled out the great watch. "Must be 'most time to
be startin'." He peered at it uncertainly.

"Yes, we must go." She rose and brought her hat, a fragile thing of
lace and mist, and a little lace mantle with long floating ends. She
put them on before the mirror that hung above the table where the
copying lay, giving little turns and touches of feminine pleasure.

Uncle William's eyes followed her good-humoredly.

She turned to him, her face glowing, starlike, out of the lace and
mist. "You're laughing at me," she said, reproachfully.

"No, I wa'n't laughing, so to speak," returned Uncle William. "I was
thinkin' what a sight o' comfort there is in a bunnit. If men folks
wore 'em I reckon they'd take life easier." He placed his hat firmly
on the gray tufts. "That's one o' the cur'us things--about 'em." They
were going down the long flight of stairs and he had placed his hand
protectingly beneath her arm. "That's one o' the cur'us things--how
different they be, men and women. I've thought about it a good many
times, how it must 'a' tickled the Lord a good deal when he found how
different they turned out--made o' the same kind o' stuff, so."

"Don't you suppose he meant it?" She was smiling under the frilling

"Well, like enough," returned Uncle William, thoughtfully. "It's like
the rest o' the world--kind o' comical and big. Like enough he did
plan it that way."


The room was filled with the hum of light--faces and flowers and color
everywhere. Uncle William walked among them erect, overtopping the
crowd, his gaze, for the most part, on the sky-line. Sergia, beside
him, seemed a slight figure. Glances followed them as they went,
amused or curious or a little admiring. Uncle William, oblivious to
the glances and to the crowd that opened before him, and closed
silently behind the great figure, beamed upon it all. He was used to
making his way through a crowd unhindered. To Sergia the experience
was more novel, and she watched the crowd and the pictures and the old
man moving serene among them, with amused eyes. Once she called his
attention to a celebrated painter in the crowd. Uncle William's eye
rested impartially upon him for a moment and returned to its sky-line.
"He looks to me kind o' pindlin'. One o' the best, is he?"

"He's not strong, you mean?"

"Well, not strong, and not much /to/ him--as if the Lord was kind o'
skimped for material. Is that one o' /his/ picters?"

Her eyes followed his hand. "Alan's! Come." They moved quickly to it
across the larger room. "They are all here." Her glance had swept the
walls. "In the best light, too." She moved eagerly from one to the
other. "See how well they are hung."

Uncle William's eye surveyed them. "Middlin' plumb," he assented.
"That fu'ther one looks to me a leetle mite off the level. It's the
one o' my house, too." He moved toward it and straightened the frame
with careful hand, then he stepped back, gazing at it with pride.
"Putty good, ain't it?" he said.

She smiled, quietly. "Perfect. He has never done anything so good."

"It /is/ a putty nice house," said Uncle William. His eye dwelt on it
fondly. "I'd a'most forgot how nice it was. You see that little cloud
there--that one jest over the edge? That means suthin' 'fore mornin'."
He lifted his hand to it. "I wouldn't trust a sky like that--not
without reefin' down good." He drew a breath. "Cur'us how it makes you
feel right there!" he said. "I'd a'most forgot." He glanced at the
moving crowd a little hostilely and drew another deep breath.

"The atmosphere /is/ fine," said the girl. She was studying it with
half-shut eyes, her head thrown a little back. "It is clear and deep.
You can almost breathe it."

"It is a good climate," assented Uncle William. "You couldn't get sick
there if you tried. Can't hardly die." He chuckled a little. "Sam'l
Gruchy's been tryin' for six year now. He was ninety-seven last month.
We don't think nuthin' o' roundin' out a hunderd up there--not the
cheerful ones. 'Course if you fret, you can die 'most anywhere."

"Yes, if you fret." The girl was looking at him with pleased eyes. "I
don't suppose you've ever known what it was to fret?"

"Me? Lord, yes! I ust to fret about everything--fretted for fear it
would blow and for fear it wouldn't blow." His eyes were on the
shifting green waves. "I never put down a net nor a lobster-pot that I
didn't see 'em bein' chewed up or knocked to pieces. I'd see a shark
a-swimmin' right through a big hole--rip-p--tear. I could see it as
plain as if I was down there under the water--all kind o' green and
cool, and things swimmin' through it. I can see it jest the same now
if I shut my eyes, only it's fishes I see swimmin' into my net now--
shoals of 'em. The' ain't a shark in sight." He was looking down at
her, smiling.

She nodded. "You're an optimist now."

He stared a little. "No, I don't reckon I'm anything that sounds like
that, but I /do/ take life comf'tabul. The' ain't a place anywheres
'round to set and rest, is the'? You look to me kind o' used up."

"I am tired--a little. Come. There won't be any one here." She led the
way into a small room beyond. A bench facing the large room was
vacant, and they sat down on it. Through the vista of the open door
they could see two of Alan's pictures. They sat in silence for a few
minutes, watching the crowd come and go in front of the pictures. She
turned to him at last with a little smile. "They are making a hit,"
she said.

"Be they?" He peered at them intently. His face softened. "They'd o't
to. They're nice picters."

"Yes." She had started forward a little, her breath coming swiftly.
"Do you see that man--the tall one with the gray hair and pointed

Uncle William adjusted his spectacles. "That kind o' peaked one, you
mean, that dips along some like a government lighter?"

She laughed out, her hands moving with little gestures of pleasure.
"That's the one. I know him."

"Do you?" Uncle William looked at him again politely. "He has a good
deal o' trimmin' on, but he looks like a nice sort o' man."

"He is--he is--if he's the one I think--"

The man, who wore on his coat the decoration of several orders, had
turned a little and was looking back over the crowd.

The girl clasped her hands tightly. "Oh, it /is/," she said under her
breath. "It is."

Uncle William looked down almost jealously. "You set a good deal o'
store by seein' him," he said.

"It isn't that. I like him, yes, but he knows good work. If he really
takes them in, he'll not let them go."

Uncle William adjusted his spectacles again. "You mean--"

"He will buy them, yes. Hush!" She held out her hand.

The man had turned back to the pictures. He lifted a pair of
eyeglasses that swung at the end of a long chain and placed them on
his nose. He looked again at the picture before him. The glasses
dropped from his nose, and he dipped to the catalogue he held in his

Uncle William's glance followed him a little uneasily. "You mean he'll
buy my house?" he asked.

She nodded, her face overflowing with happiness.

Uncle William surveyed it. "I was cal'atin' to have that one myself."
He said it almost grudgingly.

"You were? Could you?" she faced him.

"Couldn't I have it as well as him?" He nodded toward the man in the
distance intent on his catalogue.

The girl's brow wrinkled a little. "He is rich," she said. "I didn't

"Well, I ain't rich," said Uncle William, "but I reckon I could scrape
together enough to pay for a picter."

The girl's face lighted. "Of course, Alan would rather you had it. And
he may buy one of the others."

The man had moved on a little, out of sight. The picture remained
facing them. For a minute the crowd had parted in front of it and they
saw it at the end of a long pathway. Uncle William drew a proud
breath. "How much will it cost?" he said.

She took up the catalogue from her lap and opened it, glancing down
the page. "It must be here--somewhere. Yes, this is it--'The House on
the Rocks,' $2000."

Uncle William's jaw clicked a little as it came together. He held out
a hand. "Will you jest let me look at that a minute?" he said.

He ran his great finger down the page. When it came to the $2000, he
pressed it a little with his thumb, as if expecting it to rub off.
Then he looked at her, shaking his head. "It's a leetle higher'n I can
go," he said slowly. "I wa'n't expectin' it would cost so much. You
see, the house itself didn't cost more'n three hunderd, all told, and
I thought a picter of it wouldn't cost more'n five or six."

"Five or six hundred?" Her eyes laughed.

Uncle William shook his head guiltily. "Not more'n five or six
dollars," he said. "I reckon mebbe I /did/ put it a leetle low." A
smile had bloomed again in his face. "If he can pay the price, he'll
have to have it, I reckon--for all o' me."

"Yes, he can pay it. He is very rich, and he cares for pictures. He
has hundreds. He buys them everywhere--in Paris, London, St.
Petersburg, Italy-- It only depends on whether he likes--"

The man had come into view again and was studying the picture, dipping
toward it in little sidewise flights. Uncle William watched the
pantomime jealously. "How'd you come to know him?" he asked.

"He knew my mother. He had known her from a girl. I think he loved
her," she said quietly, her eyes on the man. "He was on the legation
at St. Petersburg-- See! He /does/ like them!" She had leaned forward.

Uncle William glanced up.

The man was standing a little removed from the painting, his arms
folded, his head thrown back, oblivious to the crowd.

She rose quickly. "I am going to speak to him," she said. "Wait here
for me." She passed into the changing throng that filled the room

Uncle William waited patiently, his eyes studying the swift
kaleidoscope of the doorway. When she reappeared in it, her face was
alight with color. "Come." She held out her hand. "I want you to meet
him. He likes them--oh, very much!" She pressed her hands together
lightly. "I think he will buy them--two, at least."

Uncle William got to his feet. "I s'pose ye told him about Alan and
about my place."

She stopped short, looking at him reproachfully. "Not a word," she
said--"not a single word!"

Uncle William's countenance fell. "Wa'n't that what you went out for?"

"No; and you must not mention it. I only told him that you liked

"Can't I even say that's my house out there?" He waved his hand.

"Never!" It was energetic. "You would spoil it all."

"Will it hurt it any to be my house?" he asked, a little sore.

"You know it is not that." She laid her hand on his arm
affectionately. "We shall tell him all about it some day; but now,
just now, while he is making up his mind, it would distract him. He
wants to look at them as art."

Uncle William sighed gently. "Well, I'll do my best, but it's goin'
agen' nature not to bust right out with it." They passed into the
larger room. On the opposite side the man was standing, his eyeglasses
on his nose, looking expectantly toward the door.

When he saw them, he smiled and moved forward with suave grace.


They met midway in the room. The two tall men stood facing each other,
overtopping the crowd. The Frenchman held out his hand. "I am glad to
meet you," he said.

Uncle William took the thin hand in his hearty one. "I am glad to meet
/you/," he responded. "Sergia's been tellin' me about you. She said
you liked the picter over yonder." Uncle William's thumb described the
arc of a circle.

The Frenchman's eye followed it. "I do," he said, cordially. "Don't

"Well, it's middlin' good." Uncle William spoke craftily. They were
moving toward it.

"It's great!" said the Frenchman. He swung his eyeglasses to his nose
and gazed at it. They came to a standstill a little distance away.

"The house ain't much to boast on," said Uncle William, modestly.

"The house?" The Frenchman stared at him politely.

Uncle William motioned with his hand. "It's a kind o' ramshackle ol'
thing--no chimbley to speak of--"

The man's face cleared. "Oh, the house--a mere hut!" He dismissed it
with a wave.

Uncle William's face wore a subdued look. "It might be comf'tabul
inside," he hazarded after a silence.

The Frenchman stared again. "Comfortable? Oh, without doubt." He
granted the point in passing. "But the color in the rocks--do you see?
--and the clear light and the sky--you see how it lifts itself!" His
long finger made swift stabs here and there at the canvas. A little
crowd had gathered near.

Uncle William pushed his spectacles farther up on the tufts. His face
glowed. "The sky is all right," he said, "if ye know how to take it;
but ye wouldn't trust a sky like that, would ye?"

The Frenchman turned to him, blinking a little. His glasses had
slipped from his nose. They hung dangling from the end of the long
chain. "Trust it?" he said vaguely. "It's the real thing!"

Uncle William's face assumed an air of explanation. "It's good as far
as it goes. The' ain't anything the matter with it--not anything you
can lay your finger on--not till you get over there, a little east by
sou'east. Don't you see anything the matter over there?" He asked the
question with cordial interest.

The Frenchman held the eyeglass chain in his fingers. He swung the
glasses to his nose and stared at the spot indicated.

Uncle William regarded him hopefully.

The glasses dropped. He faced about, shaking his head. "I'm afraid I
don't see it." He spoke in polite deprecation. "It seems to me very
nearly perfect." He faced it again. "I can breathe that air."

"So can I," said Uncle William. "So can I."

They stood looking at it in silence. "It'll be fo'-five hours before
it strikes," said Uncle William, thoughtfully.

"Before it--" The Frenchman had half turned. The rapt look in his face
wrinkled a little.

"Before it strikes," repeated Uncle William. "That cloud I p'inted out
to you means business."

The Frenchman looked again. The wrinkles crept to the corners of his
eyes. He turned them on Uncle William. "I see. You were speaking of
the weather?"

"Wa'n't you?" demanded Uncle William.

"Well--partly. Yes, partly. But I'm afraid I was thinking how well it
is done." His face grew dreamy. "To think that paint and canvas and a
few careless strokes--"

"He worked putty hard," broke in Uncle William. Sergia's hand on his
arm stayed him. He remained open-mouthed, staring at his blunder.

But the Frenchman had not perceived it. He accepted the correction
with a cordial nod. "Of course--infinite patience. And then a thing
like that!" he lifted his hand toward it slowly. It was a kind of
courteous salute--the obeisance due to royalty.

Uncle William watched it a little grudgingly. "They're putty good
rocks," he said--"without paint."

The Frenchman faced him. "Don't I know?" He checked himself. "I've not
mentioned it to you, but I was born and brought up on those rocks."

"You was!" Uncle William confronted him.

The stranger nodded, smiling affably. His long nose was reminiscent.
"I've played there many a time."

Sergia's face watched him hopefully.

Uncle William's had grown a little stern. He bent toward the stranger.
"I don't think I jest caught your name," he said slowly.

"My name is Curie," said the man, politely--"Benjamin F. Curie." He
extracted a card from his pocket and handed it to Uncle William with a
deep bow.

Uncle William pinched it between his thumb and forefinger. He drew
down the spectacles from his tufts and examined it carefully. Then he
bent and snapped it in his fingers. "I don't know no such--"

A hand was laid lightly on his arm. "Come, we must look at the other
pictures. It is almost time to go."

The crowd had thinned a little and they walked through it easily,
three abreast. But Uncle William had moved to the other side of the
girl, as far away from the Frenchman as he could get. Now and then he
cast a glance of disapproval at the tall, dipping figure as it bent to
the girl or lifted itself to gaze at some picture. There was distrust
in Uncle William's glance, mingled with vague disturbance. When they
paused again, he moved around in front of the man. "The' 's suthin'
kind o' familiar about your face--" he began.

Sergia's hand was again on his arm.

He patted it lightly. "Don't you worry a mite, Sergia. I ain't goin'
to say anything rash. But it does seem to me as if I've seen Mr.
Curie's face somewheres or other. 'T ain't a face you're liable to

The Frenchman acknowledged the compliment. "It is possible we have
met. You have traveled?"

"A leetle," admitted Uncle William.

Sergia's face relaxed. She moved away for a minute.

The Frenchman nodded. "We have doubtless met; but one forgets--" He
lifted his eyeglasses and surveyed Uncle William's round, good face.
"It doesn't seem as if I could have forgotten yours," he said
thoughtfully. "And yet I don't place it."

Sergia had returned. "He has been to St. Petersburg," she suggested.

The Frenchman's look cleared. "Ah--! It must have been there. It is a
privilege to have met you again, sir." He held out his long, slim
hand. "I wish you would come and see me. You have my address." He
motioned to the card.

Uncle William looked down at it. "I'm startin' for home to-morrow," he
said dryly.

"Indeed! And your home is--"

Sergia interposed a graceful hand. "Good-night, M. Curie. /You/ will
come and see /me/. Mama would be glad I have found you again."

He looked down at her mistily. His gaze lingered on her face. "I shall
come, my child," he said gallantly, almost tenderly. "I shall come
many times."

"Yes, I shall look for you. Be sure." She took Uncle William's arm and
moved away to the staircase.

Uncle William's mouth opened and closed once or twice with a little
puff. When they reached the foot of the stairs he broke out. "He says
he's a Curie." He flipped the card in his hand. "I've known Arichat,
man and boy, for sixty year. The' wa'n't never any Curies there."

She looked up at him a little perplexed. "Couldn't you have

Uncle William shook his head. "I wish 't I had. You set a good deal o'
store by him, I can see. But I ain't likely to forget anybody that's
been brought up there. The' /was/ suthin' kind o' familiar about him,
too." He said it almost irascibly.

The girl sighed softly. "Well, he may have been romancing. Frenchmen
do--at times--"

"I call it lying," snorted Uncle William.

"Yes, yes." She patted his arm. "But can't you understand how you
would feel if you saw something beautiful--some place that made you
feel the way you used to feel when you were a child? You might think
for a moment that you had really been there, and say it--without
meaning to tell a lie. That's what I meant."

Uncle William looked down at her admiringly. "You do put that mighty
nice, don't you? You 'most make me believe I could do it, and I guess
mebbe I could. But Andy couldn't," he added, with conviction.

The girl followed her thought. "And what does it matter--if he buys
the pictures."

"Well, it matters some," said Uncle William, slowly. "I dunno 's I
want a liar, not a real liar, ownin' a picter o' my house. But if he
jest romances, mebbe I could stand it. It does seem different

When they parted, she looked at him a little wistfully. "I should like
to see him again," she said, waiting.

"Like enough," said Uncle William, gently--"like enough. But I reckon
he don't need you just now." He held her hand, looking down at her

"/I/ could see /him/," she suggested.

"How's that?"

"I could come down to the boat. I would be careful not to let him see

Uncle William considered it. "Well, I dunno 's that would do any harm
--if you're sure you could keep out o' the way."

"Yes," eagerly.

"We're goin' by the Halifax boat," said Uncle William. "I can make
better 'rangements that way. I know the captain."

"Yes?" It was a question.

"Well, I guess 't you can come. Good night, my dear." He bent and
kissed her gravely.

Her eyes followed the tall figure till it loomed away in the dark.


The boat eased away from the wharf. The invalid on deck gazed back at
the city. A little spot of red lay in the hollow of either cheek.
Uncle William hovered about, adjusting pillows and rugs. Now and then
his eye dropped to the wharf and picked out, casually, a figure that
moved in the crowd. "There--that's a leetle mite easier, ain't it?"

The young man nodded almost fretfully. "I'm all right, Uncle William.
Don't you fuss any more." He leaned forward, looking toward the wharf.
"Who is that?"

Uncle William pushed up his spectacles and peered. "I don't seem to
see anybody," he said truthfully. He was gazing with some painstaking
in the opposite direction.

"Not there. Look!--She's gone!" He sank back with a sigh.

"Somebody you knew, like enough?" The question was indifferent.

"I thought it was--her."

"She, now! She wouldn't be likely to be down here this time o' day."

"No, I suppose not. It was just a fancy."

"That's all. You comf'tabul?"

"Yes--" a little impatiently.

"That's good. Now we're off." Uncle William beamed on the water that
billowed before and behind. He went off to find the captain.

When he came back, the young man had ceased to look toward the shore.
"I made a mistake," he said regretfully.

"That's nateral," said Uncle William. "I s'pose you've been thinkin'
of her, off and on, and you jest thought you saw her. I wouldn't think

"It wasn't that," the young man broke in. "I /did/ see her. I know
now. I saw her face for a minute as plain as I see yours. She was
looking straight at me and I saw all of a sudden what a fool I was."

"You're getting better," said Uncle William.

"Do you think so? I was afraid--" he hesitated.

"You thought mebbe you was a-goin' to die?"

"Well--I have heard that people see clearly-- It came over me in a
flash so--"

"Lord, no!" Uncle William chuckled. "You're jest gettin' your wits
back, that's all. I shouldn't wonder if you'd be real pert by the time
we get there. I cal'ate you'll be considabul help to me--dish-washin'
an' so on."

The towers and chimneys behind them dwindled. The smoke of the city
faded to a blur and grew to clear azure. The wind blew against their
faces. After a little the young man got to his feet. "I'm going to
walk awhile." He spoke defiantly.

"Walk right along," said Uncle William, cheerfully.

He tottered a few steps, and held out his hand.

Uncle William chuckled. "I reckoned you'd want a lift." He placed a
strong hand under the young man's arm. They paced back and forth the
length of the deck. "Feel good?" asked Uncle William.

The young man nodded. "I shall go alone to-morrow."

"Yes, I reckon you will," soothingly. "And the further north we get,
the better you'll feel. It's cur'us about the North. The' 's suthin'
up there keeps drawin' you like a needle. I've known a man to be cured
jut by turnin' and sailin' that way when he was sick. Seem 's if he
stopped pullin' against things and just let go. You look to me a
little mite tired. I'd go below for a spell if I was you."

The young man went below and slept. When he woke he felt better, as
Uncle William had predicted. At Halifax he insisted on sending a
telegram to Sergia. After that he watched the water with gleaming
face, and when they boarded the /John L. Cann/ and the shores of
Arichat shaped themselves out of space, he was like a boy.

Uncle William leaned forward, scanning the wharf. "There's Andy!" he


"Right there. Don't you see him--dangling his legs over the edge?"

"Hallo, Andy!" The young man's voice had a joyous note.

Andy grunted.

When they landed, he held out a limp hand. "Got any duds?" he asked

"There's my box and hisn and some traps down below. He's gone down to
look after 'em," said Uncle William. "Juno come back?"


The young man appeared on deck with his hand-bag. "How are you, Andy?"

Andy nodded.

"He says she ain't come back," said Uncle William.


"Juno. She must 'a' been gone as much as a week, ain't she, Andy?"

"Two weeks last night," said Andy.

"Tuh-tuh!" Uncle William's tongue expressed concern. "We'll hev to go
look for her. You goin' to row us up?"

"Guess so," said Andy.

"I thought ye'd want to. Set right there, Mr. Woodworth. Don't you
mind bein' in the way. Andy's used to it."

They rowed up through the clear light. The harbor stretched away,
gleaming, to darkness. The cliffs rose on the right, somber and
waiting. Uncle William lifted his face. The little house on the cliff
caught a gleam and twinkled. The boat grated on the beach. There was a
stiff climb up the path, with long pauses for breath. Uncle William
opened the door. He moved back swiftly. A gray avalanche had descended
upon him. She clawed at his shoulder and perched there, looking down
at him.

A smile overspread Uncle William's face. He put up a hand to the gray
fur, stroking it. "Now, don't that beat all!" he said. "She's been
here all along, like enough, Andy."

"Durned if I know," said Andy. He looked at her aggressively. "I
hain't seen hide nor hair of her for two weeks."

Juno returned the look, purring indifferently. She leaped from Uncle
William's shoulder, leading the way into the house, her back arched
and her tail erect; her toes scarcely touched the boards she trod

She disappeared under the red lounge. In a moment her head reappeared
--with something dangling from the mouth. She laid it proudly at Uncle
William's feet.

He peered at it. "Ketched a mouse, hev ye? I reckoned she wouldn't
starve, Andy!" He beamed on him.

"That ain't a mouse," said Andy.

"Why, so 't ain't. Juno!" Uncle William's voice was stern. "You come

Juno came--with another. She laid it at his feet and departed for a
third. By the time the fifth was deposited before him, Uncle William
said feebly: "That's enough for this time, Juno. Don't you do no

She added one more to the wriggling row, and seated herself calmly
beside it, looking up for approval.

Uncle William glared at her for a minute. Then a sunny smile broke his
face. "That's all right, Juno." He bent and stroked the impassive
head. "I was prepared to mourn for ye, if need be, but not to rejoice
--not to this extent. But it's all right." Juno purred in proud


It was fortunate that the artist was better, for Uncle William became
lost in the kittens and their welfare. The weakest thing at hand
claimed his interest. He carried them in a clam-basket from point to
point, seeing the best spots for their comfort and development. Juno
marched at his side, proud and happy. She purred approval of the
universe and the ways of man. Wherever Uncle William deposited the
basket, she took up her abode, serenely pleased; and when, a few hours
later, he shifted it on account of wind or rain or sun, she followed
without demur. For her the sun rose and set in Uncle William's round
face and the depths of the clam-basket.

The artist watched the comedy with amused disapproval. He suspected
Uncle William of trifling away the time. The spring was fairly upon
them, and the /Andrew Halloran/ still swung at anchor alone at the
foot of the cliff. Whenever the artist broached the subject of a new
boat, Uncle William turned it aside with a jest and trotted off to his
clam-basket. The artist brooded in silence over his indebtedness and
the scant chance of making it good. He got out canvas and brushes and
began to paint, urged by a vague sense that it might bring in
something, some time. When he saw that Uncle William was pleased, he
kept on. The work took his mind off himself, and he grew strong and
vigorous. Andy, coming upon him one day on the beach, looked at his
brown face almost in disapproval. "You're a-feelin' putty well, ain't
you?" he said grudgingly.

"I am," responded the artist. He mixed the color slowly on his
palette. A new idea had come into his head. He turned it over once and
then looked at Andy. The look was not altogether encouraging. But he
brought it out quickly. "You're a rich man, aren't you, Andy?"

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