Part 4 out of 4
Rent, kitchen, office, etc. $500
Rent of motor. $300
Rent of cases. $250
Gasolene and repairs. $630
Per year $1,680
"How do you make the gasolene and repairs as much as that?" asked Mrs.
"It's margin, mother--makes it even money. It won't be so much,
The income was simple and sufficient. They charged $5.00 a week per
capita for three meals, table d'hote, delivered thrice daily. Frequent
orders for extra meals really gave them more than they set down, but the
hundred-person estimate amounted to $26,000 a year.
"Now, see," said Diantha triumphantly; "subtract all that expense list
(and it is a liberal one), and we have $7,000 left. I can buy the car
and the cases this year and have $1,600 over! More; because if I do buy
them I can leave off some of the interest, and the rent of kitchen and
office comes to Union House! Then there's all of the extra orders.
It's going to pay splendidly, mother! It clears $70 a year per person.
Next year it will clear a lot more."
It did not take long to make Mrs. Bell admit that if the business went
on as it had been going Diantha would be able to pay her a salary of a
thousand dollars, and have five hundred left--from the food business
There remained the hotel, with large possibilities. The present simple
furnishings were to be moved over to New Union House, and paid for by
the girls in due time. With new paint, paper, and furniture, the old
house would make a very comfortable place.
"Of course, it's the restaurant mainly--these big kitchens and the
central location are the main thing. The guests will be mostly
tourists, I suppose."
Diantha dwelt upon the prospect at some length; and even her cautious
mother had to admit that unless there was some setback the year had a
prospect of large success.
"How about all this new furnishing?" Mrs. Bell said suddenly. "How do
you cover that? Take what you've got ahead now?"
"Yes; there's plenty," said Diantha. "You see, there is all Union House
has made, and this summer's profit on the cooked food--it's plenty."
"Then you can't pay for the motor and cases as you planned," her mother
"No, not unless the hotel and restaurant pays enough to make good. But
I don't _have_ to buy them the first year. If I don't, there is $5,500
"Yes, you are safe enough; there's over $4,000 in the bank now," Mrs.
Bell admitted. "But, child," she said suddenly, "your father!"
"Yes, I've thought of father," said the girl, "and I mean to ask him to
come and live at the hotel. I think he'd like it. He could meet people
and talk about his ideas, and I'm sure I'd like to have him."
"They talked much and long about this, till the evening settled about
them, till they had their quiet supper, and the girls came home to their
noisy one; and late that evening, when all was still again, Diantha came
to the dim piazza corner once more and sat there quite alone.
Full of hope, full of courage, sure of her progress--and aching with
She sat with her head in her hands, and to her ears came suddenly the
sound of a familiar step--a well-known voice--the hands and the lips of
"Diantha!" He held her close.
"Oh, Ross! Ross! Darling! Is it true? When did you come? Oh, I'm so
glad! So _glad_ to see you!"
She was so glad that she had to cry a little on his shoulder, which he
seemed to thoroughly enjoy.
"I've good news for you, little girl," he said. "Good news at last!
Listen, dear; don't cry. There's an end in sight. A man has bought out
my shop. The incubus is off--I can _live_ now!"
He held his head up in a fine triumph, and she watched him adoringly.
"Did you--was it profitable?" she asked.
"It's all exchange, and some cash to boot. Just think! You know what
I've wanted so long--a ranch. A big one that would keep us all, and let
me go on with my work. And, dear--I've got it! It's a big fruit ranch,
with its own water--think of that! And a vegetable garden, too, and
small fruit, and everything. And, what's better, it's all in good
running order, with a competent ranchman, and two Chinese who rent the
vegetable part. And there are two houses on it--_two_. One for mother
and the girls, and one for us!"
Diantha's heart stirred suddenly.
"Where is it, dear?" she whispered.
He laughed joyfully. "It's _here!"_ he said. "About eight miles or so
out, up by the mountains; has a little canyon of its own--its own little
stream and reservoir. Oh, my darling! My darling!"
They sat in happy silence in the perfumed night. The strong arms were
around her, the big shoulder to lean on, the dear voice to call her
The year of separation vanished from their thoughts, and the long years
of companionship opened bright and glorious before them.
"I came this afternoon," he said at length, "but I saw another man
coming. He got here first. I thought--"
"Ross! You didn't! And you've left me to go without you all these
"He looked so confident when he went away that I was jealous," Ross
admitted, "furiously jealous. And then your mother was here, and then
those cackling girls. I wanted you--alone."
And then he had her, alone, for other quiet, happy moments. She was so
glad of him. Her hold upon his hand, upon his coat, was tight.
"I don't know how I've lived without you," she said softly.
"Nor I," said he. "I haven't lived. It isn't life--without you. Well,
dearest, it needn't be much longer. We closed the deal this afternoon.
I came down here to see the place, and--incidentally--to see you!"
"I shall turn over the store at once. It won't take long to move and
settle; there's enough money over to do that. And the ranch pays,
Diantha! It really _pays,_ and will carry us all. How long will it
take you to get out of this?"
"Get out of--what?" she faltered.
"Why, the whole abominable business you're so deep in here. Thank God,
there's no shadow of need for it any more!"
The girl's face went white, but he could not see it. She would not
"Why, dear," she said, "if your ranch is as near as that it would be
perfectly easy for me to come in to the business--with a car. I can
afford a car soon."
"But I tell you there's no need any more," said he. "Don't you
understand? This is a paying fruit ranch, with land rented to
advantage, and a competent manager right there running it. It's simply
changed owners. I'm the owner now! There's two or three thousand a
year to be made on it--has been made on it! There is a home for my
people--a home for us! Oh, my beloved girl! My darling! My own
sweetheart! Surely you won't refuse me now!"
Diantha's head swam dizzily.
"Ross," she urged, "you don't understand! I've built up a good business
here--a real successful business. Mother is in it; father's to come
down; there is a big patronage; it grows. I can't give it up!"
"Not for me? Not when I can offer you a home at last? Not when I show
you that there is no longer any need of your earning money?" he said
"But, dear--dear!" she protested. "It isn't for the money; it is the
work I want to do--it is my work! You are so happy now that you can do
your work--at last! This is mine!"
When he spoke again his voice was low and stern.
"Do you mean that you love--your work--better than you love me?"
"No! It isn't that! That's not fair!" cried the girl. "Do you love
your work better than you love me? Of course not! You love both. So
do I. Can't you see? Why should I have to give up anything?"
"You do not have to," he said patiently. "I cannot compel you to marry
me. But now, when at last--after these awful years--I can really offer
you a home--you refuse!"
"I have not refused," she said slowly.
His voice lightened again.
"Ah, dearest! And you will not! You will marry me?"
"I will marry you, Ross!"
"And when? When, dearest?"
"As soon as you are ready."
"But--can you drop this at once?"
"I shall not drop it."
Her voice was low, very low, but clear and steady.
He rose to his feet with a muffled exclamation, and walked the length of
the piazza and back.
"Do you realize that you are saying no to me, Diantha?"
"You are mistaken, dear. I have said that I will marry you whenever you
choose. But it is you who are saying, 'I will not marry a woman with a
"This is foolishness!" he said sharply. "No man--that is a man--would
marry a woman and let her run a business."
"You are mistaken," she answered. "One of the finest men I ever knew
has asked me to marry him--and keep on with my work!"
"Why didn't you take him up?"
"Because I didn't love him." She stopped, a sob in her voice, and he
caught her in his arms again.
It was late indeed when he went away, walking swiftly, with a black
rebellion in his heart; and Diantha dragged herself to bed.
She was stunned, deadened, exhausted; torn with a desire to run after
him and give up--give up anything to hold his love. But something,
partly reason and partly pride, kept saying within her: "I have not
refused him; he has refused me!"
WHAT DIANTHA DID
They laid before her conquering feet
The spoils of many lands;
Their crowns shone red upon her head
Their scepters in her hands.
She heard two murmuring at night,
Where rose-sweet shadows rest;
And coveted the blossom red
He laid upon her breast.
When Madam Weatherstone shook the plentiful dust of Orchardina from her
expensive shoes, and returned to adorn the more classic groves of
Philadelphia, Mrs. Thaddler assumed to hold undisputed sway as a social
The Social Leader she meant to be; and marshalled her forces to that
end. She Patronized here, and Donated there; revised her visiting list
with rigid exclusiveness; secured an Eminent Professor and a Noted
Writer as visitors, and gave entertainments of almost Roman
Her husband grew more and more restive under the rising tide of social
exactions in dress and deportment; and spent more and more time behind
his fast horses, or on the stock-ranch where he raised them. As a
neighbor and fellow ranchman, he scraped acquaintance with Ross Warden,
and was able to render him many small services in the process of
Mrs. Warden remembered his visit to Jopalez, and it took her some time
to rearrange him in her mind as a person of wealth and standing. Having
so rearranged him, on sufficient evidence, she and her daughters became
most friendly, and had hopes of establishing valuable acquaintance in
the town. "It's not for myself I care," she would explain to Ross,
every day in the week and more on Sundays, "but for the girls. In that
dreadful Jopalez there was absolutely _no_ opportunity for them; but
here, with horses, there is no reason we should not have friends. You
must consider your sisters, Ross! Do be more cordial to Mr. Thaddler."
But Ross could not at present be cordial to anybody. His unexpected
good fortune, the freedom from hated cares, and chance to work out his
mighty theories on the faithful guinea-pig, ought to have filled his
soul with joy; but Diantha's cruel obstinacy had embittered his cup of
joy. He could not break with her; she had not refused him, and it was
difficult in cold blood to refuse her.
He had stayed away for two whole weeks, in which time the guinea-pigs
nibbled at ease and Diantha's work would have suffered except for her
mother's extra efforts. Then he went to see her again, miserable but
stubborn, finding her also miserable and also stubborn. They argued
till there was grave danger of an absolute break between them; then
dropped the subject by mutual agreement, and spent evenings of
unsatisfying effort to talk about other things.
Diantha and her mother called on Mrs. Warden, of course, admiring the
glorious view, the sweet high air, and the embowered loveliness of the
two ranch houses. Ross drew Diantha aside and showed her "theirs"--a
lovely little wide-porched concrete cottage, with a red-tiled roof, and
heavy masses of Gold of Ophir and Banksia roses.
He held her hand and drew her close to him.
He kissed her when they were safe inside, and murmured: "Come,
darling--won't you come and be my wife?"
"I will, Ross--whenever you say--but--!" She would not agree to give up
her work, and he flung away from her in reckless despair. Mrs. Warden
and the girls returned the call as a matter of duty, but came no more;
the mother saying that she could not take her daughters to a Servant
And though the Servant Girls' Club was soon removed to its new quarters
and Union House became a quiet, well-conducted hotel, still the two
families saw but little of each other.
Mrs. Warden naturally took her son's side, and considered Diantha an
unnatural monster of hard-heartedness.
The matter sifted through to the ears of Mrs. Thaddler, who rejoiced in
it, and called upon Mrs. Warden in her largest automobile. As a mother
with four marriageable daughters, Mrs. Warden was delighted to accept
and improve the acquaintance, but her aristocratic Southern soul was
inwardly rebellious at the ancestorlessness and uncultured moneyed pride
of her new friend.
"If only Madam Weatherstone had stayed!" she would complain to her
daughters. "She had Family as well as Wealth."
"There's young Mrs. Weatherstone, mother--" suggested Dora.
"A nobody!" her mother replied. "She has the Weatherstone money, of
course, but no Position; and what little she has she is losing by her
low tastes. She goes about freely with Diantha Bell--her own
"She's not her housekeeper now, mother--"
"Well, it's all the same! She _was!_ And a mere general servant before
that! And now to think that when Ross is willing to overlook it all and
marry her, she won't give it up!"
They were all agreed on this point, unless perhaps that the youngest had
her inward reservations. Dora had always liked Diantha better than had
Young Mrs. Weatherstone stayed in her big empty house for a while, and
as Mrs. Warden said, went about frequently with Diantha Bell. She liked
Mrs. Bell, too--took her for long stimulating rides in her comfortable
car, and insisted that first one and then the other of them should have
a bit of vacation at her seashore home before the winter's work grew too
With Mrs. Bell she talked much of how Diantha had helped the town.
"She has no idea of the psychic effects, Mrs. Bell," said she. "She
sees the business, and she has a great view of all it is going to do for
women to come; but I don't think she realizes how much she is doing
right now for women here--and men, too. There were my friends the
Pornes; they were 'drifting apart,' as the novels have it--and no
wonder. Isabel was absolutely no good as a housekeeper; he naturally
didn't like it--and the baby made it all the worse; she pined for her
work, you see, and couldn't get any time for it. Now they are as happy
as can be--and it's just Diantha Bell's doings. The housework is off
"Then there are the Wagrams, and the Sheldons, and the Brinks--and ever
so many more--who have told me themselves that they are far happier than
they ever were before--and can live more cheaply. She ought to be the
happiest girl alive!"
Mrs. Bell would agree to this, and quite swelled with happiness and
pride; but Mrs. Weatherstone, watching narrowly, was not satisfied.
When she had Diantha with her she opened fire direct. "You ought to be
the happiest, proudest, most triumphant woman in the world!" she said.
"You're making oodles of money, your whole thing's going well, and look
at your mother--she's made over!"
Diantha smiled and said she was happy; but her eyes would stray off to
the very rim of the ocean; her mouth set in patient lines that were not
in the least triumphant.
"Tell me about it, my friend," said her hostess. "Is it that he won't
let you keep on with the business?"
"And you won't give it up to marry him?"
"No," said Diantha. "No. Why should I? I'd marry him--to-morrow!"
She held one hand with the other, tight, but they both shook a little.
"I'd be glad to. But I will not give up my work!"
"You look thin," said Mrs. Weatherstone.
"Do you sleep well?"
"And I can see that you don't eat as you ought to. Hm! Are you going
to break down?"
"No," said Diantha, "I am not going to break down. I am doing what is
right, and I shall go on. It's a little hard at first--having him so
near. But I am young and strong and have a great deal to do--I shall do
And then Mrs. Weatherstone would tell her all she knew of the intense
satisfaction of the people she served, and pleasant stories about the
girls. She bought her books to read and such gleanings as she found in
foreign magazines on the subject of organized house-service.
Not only so, but she supplied the Orchardina library with a special
bibliography on the subject, and induced the new Woman's Club to take up
a course of reading in it, so that there gradually filtered into the
Orchardina mind a faint perception that this was not the freak of an
eccentric individual, but part of an inevitable business development,
going on in various ways in many nations.
As the winter drew on, Mrs. Weatherstone whisked away again, but kept a
warm current of interest in Diantha's life by many letters.
Mr. Bell came down from Jopalez with outer reluctance but inner
satisfaction. He had rented his place, and Susie had three babies now.
Henderson, Jr., had no place for him, and to do housework for himself
was no part of Mr. Bell's plan.
In Diantha's hotel he had a comfortable room next his wife's, and a
capacious chair in the firelit hall in wet weather, or on the shaded
piazza in dry. The excellent library was a resource to him; he found
some congenial souls to talk with; and under the new stimulus succeeded
at last in patenting a small device that really worked. With this, and
his rent, he felt inclined to establish a "home of his own," and the
soul of Mrs. Bell sank within her. Without allowing it to come to an
issue between them, she kept the question open for endless discussion;
and Mr. Bell lived on in great contentment under the impression that he
was about to move at almost any time. To his friends and cronies he
dilated with pride on his daughter's wonderful achievements.
"She's as good as a boy!" he would declare. "Women nowadays seem to do
anything they want to!" And he rigidly paid his board bill with a
Meanwhile the impressive gatherings at Mrs. Thaddler's, and the humbler
tea and card parties of Diantha's friends, had a new topic as a
A New York company had bought one of the largest and finest blocks in
town--the old Para place--and was developing it in a manner hitherto
unseen. The big, shabby, neglected estate began to turn into such a
fairyland as only southern lands can know. The old live-oaks were
untouched; the towering eucalyptus trees remained in ragged majesty; but
an army of workmen was busy under guidance of a master of beauty.
One large and lovely building rose, promptly dubbed a hotel by the
unwilling neighbors; others, smaller, showed here and there among the
trees; and then a rose-gray wall of concrete ran around the whole, high,
tantalizing, with green boughs and sweet odors coming over it. Those
who went in reported many buildings, and much activity. But, when the
wall was done, and each gate said "No admittance except on business,"
then the work of genii was imagined, and there was none to contradict.
It was a School of Theosophy; it was a Christian Science College; it was
a Free-Love Colony; it was a Secret Society; it was a thousand wonders.
"Lot of little houses and one big one," the employees said when
"Hotel and cottages," the employers said when questioned.
They made no secret of it, they were too busy; but the town was
unsatisfied. Why a wall? What did any honest person want of a wall?
Yet the wall cast a pleasant shadow; there were seats here and there
between buttresses, and, as the swift California season advanced, roses
and oleanders nodded over the top, and gave hints of beauty and richness
more subtly stimulating than all the open glory of the low-hedged
Diantha's soul was stirred with secret envy. Some big concern was about
to carry out her dream, or part of it--perhaps to be a huge and
overflowing rival. Her own work grew meantime, and flourished as well
as she could wish.
The food-delivery service was running to its full capacity; the girls
got on very well under Mrs. Jessup, and were delighted to have a house
of their own with the parlors and piazzas all to themselves, and a
garden to sit in as well. If this depleted their ranks by marriage, it
did not matter now, for there was a waiting list in training all the
Union House kept on evenly and profitably, and Diantha was beginning to
feel safe and successful; but the years looked long before her.
She was always cheered by Mrs. Weatherstone's letters; and Mrs. Porne
came to see her, and to compare notes over their friend's success. For
Mrs. Weatherstone had been presented at Court--at more than one court,
in fact; and Mrs. Weatherstone had been proposed to by a Duke--and had
refused him! Orchardina well-nigh swooned when this was known.
She had been studying, investigating, had become known in scientific as
well as social circles, and on her way back the strenuous upper layer of
New York Society had also made much of her. Rumors grew of her
exquisite costumes, of her unusual jewels, of her unique entertainments,
of her popularity everywhere she went.
Other proposals, of a magnificent nature, were reported, with more
magnificent refusals; and Orchardina began to be very proud of young
Mrs. Weatherstone and to wish she would come back.
She did at last, bringing an Italian Prince with her, and a Hoch
Geborene German Count also, who alleged they were travelling to study
the country, but who were reputed to have had a duel already on the
beautiful widow's account.
All this was long-drawn gossip but bore some faint resemblance to the
facts. Viva Weatherstone at thirty was a very different woman front the
pale, sad-eyed girl of four years earlier. And when the great house on
the avenue was arrayed in new magnificence, and all Orchardina--that
dared--had paid its respects to her, she opened the season, as it were,
with a brilliant dinner, followed by a reception and ball.
All Orchardina came--so far as it had been invited. There was the
Prince, sure enough--a pleasant, blue-eyed young man. And there was the
Count, bearing visible evidence of duels a-plenty in earlier days. And
there was Diantha Bell--receiving, with Mrs. Porne and Mrs.
Weatherstone. All Orchardina stared. Diantha had been at the
dinner--that was clear. And now she stood there in her soft, dark
evening dress, the knot of golden acacias nestling against the black
lace at her bosom, looking as fair and sweet as if she had never had a
care in her life.
Her mother thought her the most beautiful thing she had ever seen; and
her father, though somewhat critical, secretly thought so, too.
Mrs. Weatherstone cast many a loving look at the tall girl beside her in
the intervals of "Delighted to see you's," and saw that her double
burden had had no worse effect than to soften the lines of the mouth and
give a hint of pathos to the clear depths of her eyes.
The foreign visitors were much interested in the young Amazon of
Industry, as the Prince insisted on calling her; and even the German
Count for a moment forgot his ancestors in her pleasant practical talk.
Mrs. Weatherstone had taken pains to call upon the Wardens--claiming a
connection, if not a relationship, and to invite them all. And as the
crowd grew bigger and bigger, Diantha saw Mrs. Warden at last
approaching with her four daughters--and no one else. She greeted them
politely and warmly; but Mrs. Weatherstone did more.
Holding them all in a little group beside her, she introduced her noble
visitors to them; imparted the further information that their brother
was _fiance_ to Miss Bell. "I don't see him," she said, looking about.
"He will come later, of course. Ah, Miss Madeline! How proud you all
must feel of your sister-in-law to be!"
Madeline blushed and tried to say she was.
"Such a remarkable young lady!" said the Count to Adeline. "You will
admire, envy, and imitate! Is it not so?"
"Your ladies of America have all things in your hands," said the Prince
to Miss Cora. "To think that she has done so much, and is yet so
young--and so beautiful!"
"I know you're all as proud as you can be," Mrs. Weatherstone continued
to Dora. "You see, Diantha has been heard of abroad."
They all passed on presently, as others came; but Mrs. Warden's head was
reeling. She wished she could by any means get at Ross, and _make_ him
come, which he had refused to do.
"I can't, mother," he had said. "You go--all of you. Take the girls.
I'll call for you at twelve--but I won't go in."
Mr. and Mrs. Thaddler were there--but not happy. She was not, at least,
and showed it; he was not until an idea struck him. He dodged softly
out, and was soon flying off, at dangerous speed over the moon-white
He found Ross, dressed and ready, sulking blackly on his shadowy porch.
"Come and take a spin while you wait," said Mr. Thaddler.
"Thanks, I have to go in town later."
"I'll take you in town."
"Thank you, but I have to take the horses in and bring out my mother and
"I'll bring you all out in the car. Come on--it's a great night."
So Ross rather reluctantly came.
He sat back on the luxurious cushions, his arms folded sternly, his
brows knit, and the stout gentleman at his side watched him shrewdly.
"How does the ranch go?" he asked.
"Very well, thank you, Mr. Thaddler."
"Them Chinks pay up promptly?"
"As prompt as the month comes round. Their rent is a very valuable part
of the estate."
"Yes," Mr. Thaddler pursued. "They have a good steady market for their
stuff. And the chicken man, too. Do you know who buys 'em?"
Ross did not. Did not greatly care, he intimated.
"I should think you'd be interested--you ought to--it's Diantha Bell."
Ross started, but said nothing.
"You see, I've taken a great interest in her proposition ever since she
sprung it on us," Mr. Thaddler confided. "She's got the goods all
right. But there was plenty against her here--you know what women are!
And I made up my mind the supplies should be good and steady, anyhow.
She had no trouble with her grocery orders; that was easy. Meat I
couldn't handle--except indirectly--a little pressure, maybe, here and
there." And he chuckled softly. "But this ranch I bought on purpose."
Ross turned as if he had been stung.
"You!" he said.
"Yes, me. Why not? It's a good property. I got it all fixed right,
and then I bought your little upstate shop--lock, stock and barrel--and
gave you this for it. A fair exchange is no robbery. Though it would
be nice to have it all in the family, eh?"
Ross was silent for a few turbulent moments, revolving this far from
"What'd I do it for?" continued the unasked benefactor. "What do you
_think_ I did it for? So that brave, sweet little girl down here could
have her heart's desire. She's established her business--she's proved
her point--she's won the town--most of it; and there's nothing on earth
to make her unhappy now but your pigheadedness! Young man, I tell you
you're a plumb fool!"
One cannot throw one's host out of his own swift-flying car; nor is it
wise to jump out one's self.
"Nothing on earth between you but your cussed pride!" Mr. Thaddler
remorselessly went on. "This ranch is honestly yours--by a square deal.
Your Jopalez business was worth the money--you ran it honestly and
extended the trade. You'd have made a heap by it if you could have
unbent a little. Gosh! I limbered up that store some in twelve
months!" And the stout man smiled reminiscently.
Ross was still silent.
"And now you've got what you wanted--thanks to her, mind you, thanks to
her!--and you ain't willing to let her have what she wants!"
The young man moistened his lips to speak.
"You ain't dependent on her in any sense--I don't mean that. You earned
the place all right, and I don't doubt you'll make good, both in a
business way and a scientific way, young man. But why in Hades you
can't let her be happy, too, is more'n I can figure! Guess you get your
notions from two generations back--and some!"
Ross began, stumblingly. "I did not know I was indebted to you, Mr.
"You're not, young man, you're not! I ran that shop of yours a
year--built up the business and sold it for more than I paid for this.
So you've no room for heroics--none at all. What I want you to realize
is that you're breaking the heart of the finest woman I ever saw. You
can't bend that girl--she'll never give up. A woman like that has got
more things to do than just marry! But she's pining for you all the
"Here she is to-night, receiving with Mrs. Weatherstone--with those
Bannerets, Dukes and Earls around her--standing up there like a Princess
herself--and her eyes on the door all the time--and tears in 'em, I
could swear--because you don't come!"
They drew up with a fine curve before the carriage gate.
"I'll take 'em all home--they won't be ready for some time yet," said
Mr. Thaddler. "And if you two would like this car I'll send for the
Ross shook hands with him. "You are very kind, Mr. Thaddler," he said.
"I am obliged to you. But I think we will walk."
Tall and impressive, looking more distinguished in a six-year-old
evening suit than even the Hoch Geborene in his uniform, he came at
last, and Diantha saw him the moment he entered; saw, too, a new light
in his eyes.
He went straight to her. And Mrs. Weatherstone did not lay it up
against him that he had but the briefest of words for his hostess.
"Will you come?" he said. "May I take you home--now?"
She went with him, without a word, and they walked slowly home, by far
outlying paths, and long waits on rose-bowered seats they knew.
The moon filled all the world with tender light and the orange blossoms
flooded the still air with sweetness.
"Dear," said he, "I have been a proud fool--I am yet--but I have come to
see a little clearer. I do not approve of your work--I cannot approve
of it--but will you forgive me for that and marry me? I cannot live any
longer without you?"
"Of course I will," said Diantha.
WHAT DIANTHA DID
AND HEAVEN BESIDE.
They were married while the flowers were knee-deep over the sunny slopes
and mesas, and the canyons gulfs of color and fragrance, and went for
their first moon together to a far high mountain valley hidden among
wooded peaks, with a clear lake for its central jewel.
A month of heaven; while wave on wave of perfect rest and
world-forgetting oblivion rolled over both their hearts.
They swam together in the dawn-flushed lake, seeing the morning mists
float up from the silver surface, breaking the still reflection of thick
trees and rosy clouds, rejoicing in the level shafts of forest filtered
sunlight. They played and ran like children, rejoiced over their picnic
meals; lay flat among the crowding flowers and slept under the tender
"I don't see," said her lover, "but that my strenuous Amazon is just as
much a woman as--as any woman!"
"Who ever said I wasn't?" quoth Diantha demurely.
A month of perfect happiness. It was so short it seemed but a moment;
so long in its rich perfection that they both agreed if life brought no
further joy this was Enough.
Then they came down from the mountains and began living.
Day service is not so easily arranged on a ranch some miles from town.
They tried it for a while, the new runabout car bringing out a girl in
the morning early, and taking Diantha in to her office.
But motor cars are not infallible; and if it met with any accident there
was delay at both ends, and more or less friction.
Then Diantha engaged a first-class Oriental gentleman, well recommended
by the "vegetable Chinaman," on their own place. This was extremely
satisfactory; he did the work well, and was in all ways reliable; but
there arose in the town a current of malicious criticism and
protest--that she "did not live up to her principles."
To this she paid no attention; her work was now too well planted, too
increasingly prosperous to be weakened by small sneers.
Her mother, growing plumper now, thriving continuously in her new lines
of work, kept the hotel under her immediate management, and did
bookkeeping for the whole concern. New Union Home ran itself, and
articles were written about it in magazines; so that here and there in
other cities similar clubs were started, with varying success. The
restaurant was increasingly popular; Diantha's cooks were highly skilled
and handsomely paid, and from the cheap lunch to the expensive banquet
they gave satisfaction.
But the "c. f. d." was the darling of her heart, and it prospered
exceedingly. "There is no advertisement like a pleased customer," and
her pleased customers grew in numbers and in enthusiasm. Family after
family learned to prize the cleanliness and quiet, the odorlessness and
flylessness of a home without a kitchen, and their questioning guests
were converted by the excellent of the meals.
Critical women learned at last that a competent cook can really produce
better food than an incompetent one; albeit without the sanctity of the
"Sanctity of your bootstraps!" protested one irascible gentleman. "Such
talk is all nonsense! I don't want _sacred_ meals--I want good
ones--and I'm getting them, at last!"
"We don't brag about 'home brewing' any more," said another, "or 'home
tailoring,' or 'home shoemaking.' Why all this talk about 'home
What pleased the men most was not only the good food, but its clock-work
regularity; and not only the reduced bills but the increased health and
happiness of their wives. Domestic bliss increased in Orchardina, and
the doctors were more rigidly confined to the patronage of tourists.
Ross Warden did his best. Under the merciless friendliness of Mr.
Thaddler he had been brought to see that Diantha had a right to do this
if she would, and that he had no right to prevent her; but he did not
like it any the better.
When she rolled away in her little car in the bright, sweet mornings, a
light went out of the day for him. He wanted her there, in the
home--his home--his wife--even when he was not in it himself. And in
this particular case it was harder than for most men, because he was in
the house a good deal, in his study, with no better company than a
polite Chinaman some distance off.
It was by no means easy for Diantha, either. To leave him tugged at her
heart-strings, as it did at his; and if he had to struggle with
inherited feelings and acquired traditions, still more was she beset
with an unexpected uprising of sentiments and desires she had never
dreamed of feeling.
With marriage, love, happiness came an overwhelming instinct of
service--personal service. She wanted to wait on him, loved to do it;
regarded Wang Fu with positive jealousy when he brought in the coffee
and Ross praised it. She had a sense of treason, of neglected duty, as
she left the flower-crowned cottage, day by day.
But she left it, she plunged into her work, she schooled herself
"Shame on you!" she berated herself. "Now--_now_ that you've got
everything on earth--to weaken! You could stand unhappiness; can't you
stand happiness?" And she strove with herself; and kept on with her
After all, the happiness was presently diluted by the pressure of this
blank wall between them. She came home, eager, loving, delighted to be
with him again. He received her with no complaint or criticism, but
always an unspoken, perhaps imagined, sense of protest. She was full of
loving enthusiasm about his work, and he would dilate upon his harassed
guinea-pigs and their development with high satisfaction.
But he never could bring himself to ask about her labors with any
genuine approval; she was keenly sensitive to his dislike for the
subject, and so it was ignored between them, or treated by him in a vein
of humor with which he strove to cover his real feeling.
When, before many months were over, the crowning triumph of her effort
revealed itself, her joy and pride held this bitter drop--he did not
sympathize--did not approve. Still, it was a great glory.
The New York Company announced the completion of their work and the
_Hotel del las Casas_ was opened to public inspection. "House of the
Houses! That's a fine name!" said some disparagingly; but, at any rate,
it seemed appropriate. The big estate was one rich garden, more
picturesque, more dreamily beautiful, than the American commercial mind
was usually able to compass, even when possessed of millions. The hotel
of itself was a pleasure palace--wholly unostentatious, full of gaiety
and charm, offering lovely chambers for guests and residents, and every
opportunity for healthful amusement. There was the rare luxury of a big
swimming-pool; there were billiard rooms, card rooms, reading rooms,
lounging rooms and dancing rooms of satisfying extent.
Outside there were tennis-courts, badminton, roque, even croquet; and
the wide roof was a garden of Babylon, a Court of the Stars, with views
of purple mountains, fair, wide valley and far-flashing rim of sea.
Around it, each in its own hedged garden, nestled "Las Casas"--the
Houses--twenty in number, with winding shaded paths, groups of rare
trees, a wilderness of flowers, between and about them. In one corner
was a playground for children--a wall around this, that they might shout
in freedom; and the nursery thereby gave every provision for the
happiness and safety of the little ones.
The people poured along the winding walls, entered the pretty cottages,
were much impressed by a little flock of well-floored tents in another
corner, but came back with Ohs! and Ahs! of delight to the large
building in the Avenue.
Diantha went all over the place, inch by inch, her eyes widening with
admiration; Mr. and Mrs. Porne and Mrs. Weatherstone with her. She
enjoyed the serene, well-planned beauty of the whole; approved heartily
of the cottages, each one a little different, each charming in its quiet
privacy, admired the plentiful arrangements for pleasure and gay
association; but her professional soul blazed with enthusiasm over the
great kitchens, clean as a hospital, glittering in glass and copper and
cool tiling, with the swift, sure electric stove.
The fuel all went into a small, solidly built power house, and came out
in light and heat and force for the whole square.
Diantha sighed in absolute appreciation.
"Fine, isn't it?" said Mr. Porne.
"How do you like the architecture?" asked Mrs. Porne.
"What do you think of my investment?" said Mrs. Weatherstone. Diantha
stopped in her tracks and looked from one to the other of them.
"Fact. I control the stock--I'm president of the Hotel del las Casas
Company. Our friends here have stock in it, too, and more that you
don't know. We think it's going to be a paying concern. But if you can
make it go, my dear, as I think you will, you can buy us all out and own
the whole outfit!"
It took some time to explain all this, but the facts were visible
"Nothing remarkable at all," said Mrs. Weatherstone. "Here's Astor with
three big hotels on his hands--why shouldn't I have one to play with?
And I've got to employ _somebody_ to manage it!"
Within a year of her marriage Diantha was at the head of this pleasing
Centre of Housekeeping. She kept the hotel itself so that it was a joy
to all its patrons; she kept the little houses homes of pure delight for
those who were so fortunate as to hold them; and she kept up her "c. f.
d." business till it grew so large she had to have quite a fleet of
Orchardina basked and prospered; its citizens found their homes happier
and less expensive than ever before, and its citizenesses began to wake
up and to do things worth while.
Two years, and there was a small Ross Warden born.
She loved it, nursed it, and ran her business at long range for some six
months. But then she brought nurse and child to the hotel with her,
placed them in the cool, airy nursery in the garden, and varied her busy
day with still hours by herself--the baby in her arms.
Back they came together before supper, and found unbroken joy and peace
in the quiet of home; but always in the background was the current of
Ross' unspoken disapproval.
Three years, four years.
There were three babies now; Diantha was a splendid woman of thirty,
handsome and strong, pre-eminently successful--and yet, there were times
when she found it in her heart to envy the most ordinary people who
loved and quarreled and made up in the little outlying ranch houses
along the road; they had nothing between them, at least.
Meantime in the friendly opportunities of Orchardina society, added to
by the unexampled possibilities of Las Casas (and they did not scorn
this hotel nor Diantha's position in it), the three older Miss Wardens
had married. Two of them preferred "the good old way," but one tried
the "d. s." and the "c. f. d." and liked them well.
Dora amazed and displeased her family, as soon as she was of age, by
frankly going over to Diantha's side and learning bookkeeping. She
became an excellent accountant and bade fair to become an expert manager
Ross had prospered in his work. It may be that the element of
dissatisfaction in his married life spurred him on, while the unusual
opportunities of his ranch allowed free effort. He had always held that
the "non-transmissability of acquired traits" was not established by any
number of curtailed mice or crop-eared rats. "A mutilation is not an
acquired trait," he protested. "An acquired trait is one gained by
exercise; it modifies the whole organism. It must have an effect on the
race. We expect the sons of a line of soldiers to inherit their
fathers' courage--perhaps his habit of obedience--but not his wooden
To establish his views he selected from a fine family of guinea-pigs two
pair; set the one, Pair A, in conditions of ordinary guinea-pig bliss,
and subjected the other, Pair B, to a course of discipline. They were
trained to run. They, and their descendants after them, pair following
on pair; first with slow-turning wheels as in squirrel cages, the wheel
inexorably going, machine-driven, and the luckless little gluttons
having to move on, for gradually increasing periods of time, at
gradually increasing speeds. Pair A and their progeny were sheltered
and fed, but the rod was spared; Pair B were as the guests at
"Muldoon's"--they had to exercise. With scientific patience and
ingenuity, he devised mechanical surroundings which made them jump
increasing spaces, which made them run always a little faster and a
little farther; and he kept a record as carefully as if these little
sheds were racing stables for a king.
Several centuries of guinea-pig time went by; generation after
generation of healthy guinea-pigs passed under his modifying hands; and
after some five years he had in one small yard a fine group of the
descendants of his gall-fed pair, and in another the offspring of the
trained ones; nimble, swift, as different from the first as the
razor-backed pig of the forest from the fatted porkers in the sty. He
set them to race--the young untrained specimens of these distant
cousins--and the hare ran away from the tortoise completely.
Great zoologists and biologists came to see him, studied, fingered,
poked, and examined the records; argued and disbelieved--and saw them
"It is natural selection," they said. "It profited them to run."
"Not at all," said he. "They were fed and cared for alike, with no gain
"It was artificial selection," they said. "You picked out the speediest
for your training."
"Not at all," said he. "I took always any healthy pair from the trained
parents and from the untrained ones--quite late in life, you understand,
as guinea-pigs go."
Anyhow, there were the pigs; and he took little specialized piglets
scarce weaned, and pitted them against piglets of the untrained lot--and
they outran them in a race for "Mama." Wherefore Mr. Ross Warden found
himself famous of a sudden; and all over the scientific world the
Wiesmanian controversy raged anew. He was invited to deliver a lecture
before some most learned societies abroad, and in several important
centers at home, and went, rejoicing.
Diantha was glad for him from the bottom of her heart, and proud of him
through and through. She thoroughly appreciated his sturdy opposition
to such a weight of authority; his long patience, his careful, steady
work. She was left in full swing with her big business, busy and
successful, honored and liked by all the town--practically--and quite
independent of the small fraction which still disapproved. Some people
always will. She was happy, too, in her babies--very happy.
The Hotel del las Casas was a triumph.
Diantha owned it now, and Mrs. Weatherstone built others, in other
places, at a large profit.
Mrs. Warden went to live with Cora in the town. Cora had more time to
entertain her--as she was the one who profited by her sister-in-law's
Diantha sat in friendly talk with Mrs. Weatherstone one quiet day, and
admitted that she had no cause for complaint.
"And yet--?" said her friend.
Young Mrs. Warden smiled. "There's no keeping anything from you, is
there? Yes--you're right. I'm not quite satisfied. I suppose I ought
not to care--but you see, I love him so! I want him to _approve_ of
me!--not just put up with it, and bear it! I want him to _feel_ with
me--to care. It is awful to know that all this big life of mine is just
a mistake to him--that he condemns it in his heart."
"But you knew this from the beginning, my dear, didn't you?"
"Yes--I knew it--but it is different now. You know when you are
Mrs. Weatherstone looked far away through the wide window. "I do know,"
Diantha reached a strong hand to clasp her friend's. "I wish I could
give it to you," she said. "You have done so much for me! So much!
You have poured out your money like water!"
"My money! Well I like that!" said Mrs. Weatherstone. "I have taken my
money out of five and seven per cent investments, and put it into ten
per cent ones, that's all. Shall I never make you realize that I am a
richer woman because of you, Diantha Bell Warden! So don't try to be
grateful--I won't have it! Your work has _paid_ remember--paid me as
well as you; and lots of other folks beside. You know there are
eighteen good imitations of Union House running now, in different
cities, and three 'Las Casas!' all succeeding--and the papers are
talking about the dangers of a Cooked Food Trust!"
They were friends old and tried, and happy in mutual affection. Diantha
had many now, though none quite so dear. Her parents were
contented--her brother and sister doing well--her children throve and
grew and found Mama a joy they never had enough of.
Yet still in her heart of hearts she was not wholly happy.
Then one night came by the last mail, a thick letter from Ross--thicker
than usual. She opened it in her room alone, their room--to which they
had come so joyously five years ago.
He told her of his journeying, his lectures, his controversies and
triumphs; rather briefly--and then:
"My darling, I have learned something at last, on my travels, which will
interest you, I fancy, more than the potential speed of all the
guinea-pigs in the world, and its transmissability.
"From what I hear about you in foreign lands; from what I read about you
wherever I go; and, even more, from what I see, as a visitor, in many
families; I have at last begun to grasp the nature and importance of
"As a man of science I must accept any truth when it is once clearly
seen; and, though I've been a long time about it, I do see at last what
brave, strong, valuable work you have been doing for the world. Doing
it scientifically, too. Your figures are quoted, your records studied,
your example followed. You have established certain truths in the
business of living which are of importance to the race. As a student I
recognize and appreciate your work. As man to man I'm proud of
you--tremendously proud of you. As your husband! Ah! my love! I am
coming back to you--coming soon, coming with my Whole Heart, Yours!
Just wait, My Darling, till I get back to you!
"Your Lover and Husband."
Diantha held the letter close, with hands that shook a little. She
kissed it--kissed it hard, over and over--not improving its appearance
as a piece of polite correspondence.
Then she gave way to an overmastering burst of feeling, and knelt down
by the wide bed, burying her face there, the letter still held fast. It
was a funny prayer, if any human ear had heard it.
"Thank you!" was all she said, with long, deep sobbing sighs between.
"Thank you!--O--thank you!"