Part 2 out of 5
looked at this one I knew that nobody but a blind man would
mistake one for the other, and Mr. Thoburn wasn't blind. I tell
you I stood out in that snow-bank and perspired!
When I looked again Mr. Dick was on his knees by the row of
chairs, and Miss Dorothy--Mrs. Dicky, of course--was running her
fingers through his hair.
"Minnie used to keep apples and things in the pantry," he said,
"but she must be growing stingy in her old age; there's not a
"I'm not so very hungry when I have you!" cooed Mrs. Dicky.
"But you can't eat me." He brought her hand down from his hair--
I may be stingy in my old age, but I've learned a few things, and
one is that a man feels like a fool with his hair rumpled, and I
can tell the degree of a woman's experience by the way she
lets his top hair alone--and pretended to bite it, her hand, of
course. "Although I could eat you," he said. "I'd like to take
a bite out of your throat right there."
Well, it was no place for me unless they knew I was around. I
waded around to the door and walked in, and there was a grand
upsetting of the sealskin coat and my shepherd's plaid shawl.
Mr. Dick jumped to his feet and Mrs. Dick sat bolt upright and
stared at me over the backs of the chairs.
"Minnie!" cried Mr. Dick. "As I'm a married man, it's Minnie
herself; Minnie, the guardian angel! The spirit of the place!
Dorothy, don't you remember Minnie?"
She came toward me with her hand out. She was a pretty little
thing, not so beautiful as Miss Patty, but with a nice way about
"I'm awfully glad to see you again," she said. "Of course I
remember--why you are hardly dressed at all! You must be
I went over to the fire and emptied my bedroom slippers of snow.
Then I sat down and looked at them both.
"Frozen!" repeated I; "I'm in a hot sweat. If you two
children meant to come, why in creation didn't you come in time?"
"We did," replied Mr. Dick, promptly. "We crawled under the wire
fence into the deer park at five minutes to twelve. The will
said `Be on the ground,' and I was--flat on the ground!"
"We've had the police," I said, drearily enough. "I wouldn't
live through another day like yesterday for a hundred dollars."
"We were held up by the snow," he explained. "We got a sleigh to
come over in, but we walked up the hill and came here. I don't
mind saying that my wife's people don't know about this yet, and
we're going to lay low until we've cooked up some sort of a
scheme to tell them." Then he came over and put his hand on my
"Poor old Minnie!" he said; "honest, I'm sorry. I've been a hard
child to raise, haven't I? But that's all over, Minnie. I've
got an incentive now, and it's `steady, old boy,' for me from
now. You and I will run the place and run it right."
"I don't want to!" I retorted, holding my bedroom slippers to
steam before the fire. "I'm going to buy out Timmon's candy
store and live a quiet life, Mr. Dick. This place is making me
"Nonsense! We're going to work together, and we'll make this the
busiest spot in seven counties. Dorothy and I have got it all
planned out and we've got some corking good ideas." He put his
hands in his pockets and strutted up and down. "It's the day of
advertising, you know, Minnie," he said. "You've got to have the
goods, and then you've got to let people know you've got the
goods. What would you say to a shooting-gallery in the basement,
under the reading-room?"
"Fine!" I said, with sarcasm, turning my slippers. "If things
got too quiet that would wake them up a bit, and we could have a
balloon ascension on Saturdays!"
"Not an ascension," said he, with my bitterness going right over
his head. "Nothing sensational, Minnie. That's the way with
women; they're always theatrical. But what's the matter with a
captive balloon, and letting fresh-air cranks sleep in a big
basket bed--say, at five hundred feet? Or a thousand--a thousand
would be better. The air's purer."
"With a net below," says I, "in case they should turn over and
fall out of bed! It's funny nobody ever thought of it before!"
"Isn't it?" exclaimed Mrs. Dick. "And we've all sorts of ideas.
Dick--Mr. Carter has learned of a brand new cocktail for the
"A lulu!" he broke in.
"And I'm going around to read to the old ladies and hold their
"You'll have to chloroform them first," I put in. "Perhaps it
would be better to give the women the cocktail and hold the men's
"Oh, if you're going to be funny!" Mr. Dick said savagely, "we'll
not tell you any more. I've been counting on you, Minnie.
You've been here so long. You know," he said to his wife, "when
I was a little shaver I thought Minnie had webbed-feet--she was
always on the bank, like a duck. You ARE a duck, Minnie," he
says to me; "a nice red-headed duck! Now don't be quirky and
I couldn't be light-hearted to save my life.
"Your sister's been wild all day," I told Mrs. Dick. "She got
your letter to-day--yesterday--but I don't think she's told your
"What!" she screeched, and caught at the mantelpiece to hold
herself. "Not Pat!" she said, horrified, "and father! Here!"
Well, I listened while they told me. They hadn't had the
faintest idea that Mr. Jennings and Miss Patty were there at the
sanatorium. The girl had been making a round of visits in the
Christmas holidays, and instead of going back to school she'd
sent a forged excuse and got a month off--she hadn't had any
letters, of course. The plan had been not to tell anybody but
her sister until Mr. Dick had made good at the sanatorium.
"The idea was this, Minnie," said Mr. Dick. "Old--I mean Mr.
Jennings is--is not well; he has a chronic indisposition--"
"Disposition, I call it," put in Mr. Jennings' daughter.
"And he's apt to regard my running away with Dorothy when I
haven't a penny as more of an embezzlement than an elopement."
"Fiddle!" exclaimed Mrs. Dick. "I asked you to marry me, and now
they're here and have to spoil it all."
The thought of her father and his disposition suddenly
overpowered her and she put her yellow head on the back of a
chair and began to cry.
"I--I can't tell him!" she sobbed. "I wrote to Pat,--why doesn't
Pat tell him? I'm going back to school."
"You'll do nothing of the sort. You're a married woman now, and
where I go you go. My country is your country, and my sanatorium
is your sanatorium." He was in a great rage.
But she got up and began trying to pull on her fur coat, and her
jaw was set. She looked like her father for a minute.
"Where are you going?" he asked, looking scared.
"Anywhere. I'll go down to the station and take the first train,
it doesn't matter where to." She picked up her muff, but he went
over and stood against the door.
"Not a step without me!" he declared. "I'll go with you, of
course; you know that. I'm not afraid of your father: I'd as
soon as not go in and wake him now and tell him the whole thing--
that you've married a chap who isn't worth the butter on his
bread, who can't buy you kid gloves--"
"But you will, as soon as the sanatorium succeeds!" she put
in bravely. She put down her muff. "Don't tell him to-night,
anyhow. Maybe Pat will think of some way to break it to him.
She can do a lot with father."
"I hope she can think of some way to break another Richard Carter
to the people in the house," I said tartly.
"Another Richard Carter!" they said together, and then I told
them about how we had waited and got desperate, and how we'd
brought in Mr. Pierce at the last minute and that he was asleep
now at the house. They roared. To save my life I couldn't see
that it was funny. But when I came to the part about Thoburn
being there, and his having had a good look at Mr. Pierce, and
that he was waiting around with his jaws open to snap up the
place when it fell under the hammer, Mr. Dick stopped laughing
and looked serious.
"Lord deliver us from our friends!" he said. "Between you and
Sam, you've got things in a lovely mess, Minnie. What are you
going to do about it now?"
"It's possible we can get by Thoburn," I said. "You can slip in
to-night, we can get Mr. Pierce out--Lord knows he'll be glad
to go--and Miss Dorothy can go back to school. Then, later, when
you've got things running and are making good--"
"I'm not going back to school," she declared, "but I'll go away;
I'll not stand in your way, Dicky." She took two steps toward
the door and waited for him to stop her.
"Nonsense, Minnie," he exclaimed angrily and put his arm around
her, "I won't be separated from my wife. You got me into this
"I didn't marry you!" I retorted. "And I'm not responsible for
your father-in-law's disposition."
"You'll have to help us out," he finished.
"What shall I do? Murder Mr. Jennings?" I asked bitterly. "If
you expect me to suggest that you both go to the house, and your
wife can hide in your rooms--"
"Why not?" asked Mr. Dick.
Well, I sat down again and explained patiently that it would get
out among the servants and cause a scandal, and that even if it
didn't I wasn't going to have any more deception: I had enough
already. And after a while they saw it as I did, and agreed to
wait and see Miss Patty before they decided. They wanted to
have her wakened at once, but I refused, although I agreed to
bring her out first thing in the morning.
"But you can't stay here," I said. "There'll be Miss Cobb at
nine o'clock, and the man comes to light the fire at eight."
"We could go to the old shelter-house on the golf links,"
suggested Mr. Dick, looking me square in the eye. (I took the
hint, and Mrs. Dicky never knew he had been hidden there before.)
"Nobody ever goes near it in winter." So I put on my slippers
again and we started through the snow across the golf links, Mr.
Dick carrying a bundle of firewood, and I leading the way with my
lantern. Twice I went into a drift to my waist, and once a
rabbit bunted into me head on, and would have scared me into a
chill if I hadn't been shaking already. The two behind me were
cheerful enough. Mr. Dick pointed out the general direction of
the deer park which hides the shelter-house from the sanatorium,
and if you'll believe it, with snow so thick I had to scrape it
off the lantern every minute or so, those children planned to
give something called A Midsummer Night's Dream in the deer
park among the trees in the spring, to entertain the
"I wish to heaven I'd wake up and find all THIS a dream," I
called back over my shoulder. But they were busy with costumes
and getting some folks they knew from town to take the different
parts and they never even heard me. The last few yards they
snowballed each other and me. I tell you I felt a hundred years
We got into the shelter-house by my crawling through a window,
and when we had lighted the fire and hung up the lantern, it
didn't seem so bad. The place had been closed since summer, and
it seemed colder than outside, but those two did the barn dance
then and there. There were two rooms, and Mr. Dick had always
used the back one to hide in. It's a good thing Mrs. Dick was
not a suspicious person. Many a woman would have wondered when
she saw him lift a board in the floor and take out a rusty tin
basin, a cake of soap, a moldy towel, a can of sardines, a tooth-
brush and a rubber carriage robe to lay over the rafters under
the hole in the roof. But it's been my experience that the first
few days of married life women are blind because they want to
be and after that because they have to be.
It was about four when I left them, sitting on a soap box in
front of the fire toasting sardines on the end of Mr. Dick's
walking-stick. Mrs. Dick made me put on her sealskin coat, and I
took the lantern, leaving them in the firelight. They'd gone
back to the captive balloon idea and were wondering if they
couldn't get it copyrighted!
I took a short cut home, crawling through the barbed-wire fence
and going through the deer park. I was too tired and cold to
think. I stumbled down the hill to the house, and just before I
got to the corner I heard voices, and the shuffling of feet
through the snow. The next instant a lantern came around the
corner of the house. Mr. Thoburn was carrying it, and behind him
were the bishop, Mike the bath man, and Mr. Pierce.
"It's like that man Moody," the bishop was saying angrily, "to
send the girl--"
"Piffle !" snarled Mr. Thoburn. "If ever a woman was able to
take care of herself--" And then they saw me, and they all
stopped and stared.
"Good gracious, girl!" said the bishop, with his dressing-
gown blowing out straight behind him in the wind. "We thought
you'd been buried in a drift!"
"I don't see why!" I retorted defiantly. "Can't I go out to my
own spring-house without having a posse after me to bring me
"Ordinarily," said Mr. Thoburn, with his snaky eyes on me, "I
think I may say that you might go almost anywhere without my
turning out to recover you. But Mrs. Moody is having hysterics."
Mrs. Moody! I'd forgotten the Moodys!
"She is convinced that you have drowned yourself, head down, in
the spring," Mr. Pierce said in his pleasant way. "You've been
gone two hours, you know."
He took my arm and turned me toward the house. I was dazed.
"In answer to your urgent inquiry," Mr. Thoburn called after me,
disagreeably, "Mr. Moody has not died. He is asleep. But, by
the way, where's the spring water?"
I didn't answer him; I couldn't. We went into the house; Mrs.
Moody and Miss Cobb were sitting on the stairs. Mrs. Moody had
been crying, and Miss Cobb was feeding her the whisky I had
left, with a teaspoon. She had had a half tumblerful already and
was quite maudlin. She ran to me and put her arms around me.
"I thought I was a murderess!" she cried. "Oh, the thought!
Blood on my soul! Why, Minnie Waters, wherever did you get that
DOLLY, HOW COULD YOU?
I lay down across my bed at six o'clock that morning, but I was
too tired and worried to sleep, so at seven I got up and dressed.
I was frightened when I saw myself in the glass. My eyes looked
like burnt holes in a blanket. I put on two pairs of stockings
and heavy shoes, for I knew I was going to do the Eskimo act
again that day and goodness knows how many days more, and then I
went down and knocked at the door of Miss Patty's room. She
hadn't been sleeping either. She called to me in an undertone to
come in, and she was lying propped up with pillows, with
something pink around her shoulders and the night lamp burning
beside the bed. She had a book in her hand, but all over the
covers and on the table at her elbow were letters in the blue
foreign envelopes with the red and black and gold seal.
I walked over to the foot of the bed.
"They're here," I said.
She sat up, and some letters slid to the floor.
"THEY'RE here!" she repeated. "Do you mean Dorothy?"
"She and her husband. They came last night at five minutes to
twelve. Their train was held up by the blizzard and they won't
come in until they see you. They're hiding in the shelter-house
on the golf links."
I think she thought I was crazy: I looked it. She hopped out of
bed and closed the door into her sitting-room--Mrs. Hutchins'
room opened off it--and then she came over and put her hand on my
"Will you sit down and try to tell me just what you mean?" she
said. "How can my sister and her--her wretch of a husband have
come last night at midnight when I saw Mr. Carter myself not
later than ten o'clock?"
Well, I had to tell her then about who Mr. Pierce was and why I
had to get him, and she understood almost at once. She was the
most understanding girl I ever met. She saw at once what Mr. Sam
wouldn't have known in a thousand years--that I wanted to
save the old place not to keep my position--but because I'd been
there so long, and my father before me, and had helped to make it
what it was and all that. And she stood there in her nightgown--
she who was almost a princess--and listened to me, and patted me
on the shoulder when I broke down, telling her about Thoburn and
the summer hotel.
"But here I am," I finished, "telling you about my troubles and
forgetting what I came for. You'll have to go out to the
shelter-house, Miss Patty. And I guess you're expected to fix it
up with your father."
She stopped unfastening her long braids of hair.
"Certainly I'll go to the shelter-house," she said, "and I'll
shake a little sense into Dorothy Jennings--the abominable little
idiot! But they needn't think I'm going to help them with
father; I wouldn't if I could, and I can't. He won't speak to
me. I'm in disgrace, Minnie." She gave her hair a shake,
twisted it into a rope and then a knot, and stuck a pin in it.
It was lovely: I wish Miss Cobb could have seen her. "You've
known father for years, Minnie: have you ever known him to be
"Devilish" was the word she meant, but I finished for her.
"Unreasonable?" I said. "Well, once before when you were a
little girl, he put his cane through a window in the spring-
house, because he thought it needed air. The spring-house, of
course, not the cane."
"Exactly," she said, looking around the room, "and now he's
putting a cane through every plan I have made. Do you see my
"It's like this," I remarked, bringing the boots from outside the
door, "if he's swallowed the prince and is choking on the
settlement question he might as well get over it. All those
foreigners expect pay for taking a wife. Didn't the chef here
want to marry Tillie, the diet cook, and didn't he want her to
turn over the three hundred dollars she had in the bank, and her
real estate, which was a sixth interest in a cemetery lot? But
Tillie stuck it out and he wouldn't take her without."
"It isn't quite the same, Minnie," she said, sitting down on the
floor to put on her stockings.
"The principle's the same," I retorted, "and if you ask me--"
"I haven't," she said disagreeably, "and when you begin to argue,
Minnie, you make my head ache."
"I have had a heartache for a week," I snapped, "let alone
heartburn, and I'll be glad when the Jennings family is safely
married and I can sleep at night."
I was hurt. I went out and shut the door behind me, but I
stopped in the hall and went back.
"I forgot to say," I began, and stopped. She was still sitting
on the floor, trying to put her heavy boots on, and crying all
"Stop that instantly," I said, and jerked her shoes from her.
"Get into a chair and let me put them on. And if you will wait a
jiffy I'll bring you a cup of coffee. I'm not even a Christian
in the morning until I've had my coffee."
"You haven't had it yet, have you?" she asked, and we laughed
together, rather shaky. But as I buttoned her shoes I saw her
eyes going toward the blue letters on the bed.
"Oh, Minnie," she said, "if you only knew how peculiar they are
in Europe! They'll never allow a sanatorium in the family!"
"I guess a good many would be the better for having one close," I
Well, I left her to get dressed and went to the kitchens. Tillie
was there getting the beef tea ready for the day, but none of the
rest was around. They knew the housekeeper was gone, but I guess
they'd forgotten that I was still on hand. I put a kettle
against the electric bell that rings in the chef's room so it
would keep on ringing and went on into the diet kitchen.
"Tillie," I said, "can you trust me?"
She looked up from her beef.
"Whether I can or not, I always have," she answered.
"Well, can I trust you? That's more to the point."
She put down her knife and came over to me, with her hands on her
"I don't know what you're up to, Minnie," she said, "and I don't
know that I care. But if you've forgotten the time I went to the
city and brought you sulphur and the Lord only knows what for
your old spring when you'd run short and were laid up with
"Hush!" I exclaimed. "You needn't shout it. Tillie, I
don't want you to ask me any questions, but I want four raw eggs
in a basket, a pot of coffee and cream, some fruit if you can get
it when the chef unlocks the refrigerator room, and bread and
butter. They can make their own toast."
"They?" she said, with her mouth open.
But I didn't explain any more. I had found Tillie about a year
before, frying sausages at the railroad station, and made her
diet cook at the sanatorium. Mrs. Wiggins hadn't wanted her,
but, as I told the old doctor at the time, we needed somebody in
the kitchen to keep an eye on things for us. It was through
Tillie that we discovered that the help were having egg-nog twice
a day, with eggs as scarce as hens' teeth, and the pharmacy clerk
putting in a requisition for more whisky every week.
Well, I scribbled a note to Mr. Van Alstyne, telling what had
happened, and put it under his door, and then I met Miss Patty in
the hall by the billiard room and I gave her some coffee from the
basket, in the sun parlor. It was still dark, although it was
nearly eight o'clock, and nobody saw us go out together. Just as
we left I heard the chef in the kitchen bawling out that he'd
murder whoever put the kettle against the bell, and Tillie
saying it must have dropped off the hook and landed there.
We went to the spring-house first, to avoid suspicion, and then
across back of the deer park to the shelter-house. It was still
snowing, but not so much, and the tracks we had made early in the
morning were still there, mine off to one side alone, and the
others close together and side by side. There was a whole
history in those snow tracks, mine alone and kind of offish, and
the others cuddling together. It made me lonely to look at them.
I remember wishing I'd taught school, as I was educated to; woman
wasn't made to live alone, and most school-teachers get married.
Miss Patty did not say much. She was holding her chin high and
looking rather angry and determined. At the spring-house I gave
her the basket and took an armful of fire-wood myself. I knew
Mr. Dick would never think of it until the fire was out.
They were both asleep in the shelter-house. He was propped up
against the wall on a box, with the rubber carriage robe around
him, and she was lying by the fire, with Mrs. Moody's shawl over
her and her muff under her head. Miss Patty stood in the
doorway for an instant. Then she walked over and, leaning down,
shook her sister by the arm.
"Dorothy!" she said. "Wake up, you wretched child!" And shook
Mrs. Dicky groaned and yawned, and opened her eyes one at a time.
But when she saw it was Miss Patty she sat up at once, looking
dazed and frightened.
"You needn't pinch me, Pat!" she said, and at that Mr. Dick
wakened and jumped up, with the carriage robe still around him.
"Oh, Dolly, Dolly!" said Miss Patty suddenly, dropping on her
knees beside Mrs. Dicky, "what a bad little girl you are! What a
thing for you to do! Think of father and Aunt Honoria!"
"I shan't," retorted Mrs. Dicky decidedly. "I'm not going to
spoil my honeymoon like that. For heaven's sake, Pat, don't cry.
I'm not dead. Dick, this is my sister, Patricia."
Miss Pat looked at him, but she didn't bow. She gave him one
look, from his head to his heels.
"Dolly, how COULD you!" she said, and got up.
It wasn't very comfortable for Mr. Dick, but he took it much
better than I expected. He went over and gave his wife a hand to
help her up, and still holding hers, he turned to Miss Patty.
"You are perfectly right," he said, "I don't see how she could
myself. The more you know of me the more you'll wonder. But she
did; we're up against that."
He grinned at Miss Patty, and after a minute Miss Patty smiled
back. But it wasn't much of a smile. I was unpacking the
breakfast, putting the coffee-pot on the fire and getting ready
to cook the eggs and make toast. But I was watching, too.
Suddenly Mrs. Dick made a dive for Miss Patty and threw her arms
"You darling!" she cried. "I'm so glad to see you again--Pat,
you'll tell father, won't you? He'll take it from you. If I
tell him he'll have apoplexy or something."
But Miss Patty set her pretty mouth--both those girls have their
father's mouth--and held her sister out at arm's length and
looked at her.
"Listen," she said. "Do you know what you have done to me? Do
you know that when father knows this he's going to annul the
marriage or have Mr. Carter arrested for kidnaping or
abduction?--whatever it is." Mrs. Dick puckered her face to cry,
and Mr. Dick took a step forward, but Miss Patty waved him off.
"You know father as well as I do, Dolly. You know what he is,
and lately he's been awful. He's not well--it's his liver
again--and he won't listen to anything. Why, the Austrian
ambassador came up here, all this distance, to talk about the
etiquette of the--of my wedding, something about precedence, and
he wouldn't even see him."
"He can't annul it," said Mr. Dick angrily. "I'm of age. And I
can support my wife, too, or will be able--soon."
"Dolly's not of age," said Miss Patty wearily. "I've sat up all
night figuring it out. He's going to annul the marriage, or
he'll make a scandal anyhow, and that's just as bad. Dolly,"--
she turned to her sister imploringly--"Dolly, I can't have a
scandal now. You know how Oskar's people have taken this,
anyhow; they've given in, because he insisted, but they don't
want me, and if there's a lot of notoriety now the emperor will
send him to Africa or some place, and--"
"I wish they would!" Mrs. Carter burst out suddenly. "I hate the
whole thing. They only tolerate you--us--for our money. You
needn't look at me like that; Oskar may be all right, but his
mother and sisters are hateful--simply hateful!"
"I'll not be with them."
"No, but they'll be with you." Mrs. Dicky walked over to the
window and looked out, dabbing her eyes. "You've been everything
to me, Pat, and I'm so happy now--I'd rather be here on a soap
box with Dick than on a throne or a dais or whatever you'll have
to sit on over there, with Oskar. I want to be happy--and you
won't. Look at Alice Thorne and her duke!"
"If you really want me to be happy," Miss Patty said, going over
to her, "you'll go back to school until the wedding is over."
"I won't leave Dicky." She swung around and gave Mr. Dick an
adoring glance, and Miss Patty looked discouraged.
"Take him with you," she said. "Isn't there some place near
where he could stay, and telephone you now and then?"
"Telephone!" said Mrs. Dick scornfully.
"Can't leave," Mr. Dick objected. "Got to be on the property."
Miss Patty shrugged her shoulders and turned to go. "You're both
perfectly hopeless," she said. "I'll go and tell father,
Dorothy, but you know what will happen. You'll be back in school
at Greenwich by to-night, and your--husband will probably be
under arrest." She opened the door, but I dropped the toast I
was making and ran after her.
"If he is arrested," I said, "they'll have to keep him on the
place. He can't leave."
She didn't say anything; she lifted her hand and looked at the
ruby ring, and then she glanced back into the room where Mr. Dick
and his wife were whispering together, and turned up her coat
"I'm going," she said, and stepped into the snow. But they
called her back in a hurry.
"Look here, Miss--Miss Patricia," Mr. Dick said, "why can't we
stay here, where we are? It's very comfortable--that is, it's
livable. There's plenty of fresh air, anyhow, and everybody's
shouting for fresh air nowadays. They've got somebody to take my
place in the house."
"And father needn't know a thing--you can fix that," broke
in Mrs. Dick. "And after your wedding he will be in a better
humor; he'll know it's over and not up to him any more."
Miss Patty came back to the shelter-house again and sat down on
the soap box.
"We MIGHT carry it off," she said. "If I could only go back
to town! But father is in one of his tantrums, and he won't go,
or let me go. The idea!--with Aunt Honoria on the long-distance
wire every day, having hysterics, and my clothes waiting to be
tried on and everything. I'm desperate."
"And all sorts of things being arranged for you!" put in Mrs.
Dick enviously. "And the family jewels being reset in Vienna for
you and all that! It would be great--if you only didn't have to
take Oskar with the jewels!"
Miss Patty frowned.
"You are not going to marry him," she said, with a glance at Mr.
Dick, who, with his coat off, was lying flat on the floor, one
arm down in the hole where the things had been hidden, trying to
hook up a can of baked beans. "If it doesn't turn out well, you
and father have certainly done your part in the way of warning.
It's just as Aunt Honoria said; the family will make a
tremendous row beforehand, but afterward, when it all turns out
well, they'll take the credit."
Mr. Dick was busy with the beans and I was turning the eggs.
Mrs. Dick went over to her sister and put her arm around her.
"That's right, Patty," she said, "you're more like mother than I
am. I'm a Jennings all over--except that, heavens be praised,
I've got the Sherwood liver. I guess I'm common plebeian, like
dad, too. I'm plebeian enough, anyhow, to think there's been a
lot too much about marriage settlements and the consent of the
emperor in all this, and not enough about love."
I could have patted Mrs. Dicky on the back for that, and I almost
upset the eggs into the fire. I'm an advocate of marrying for
love every time, although a title and a bunch of family jewels
thrown in wouldn't worry me.
"Do you want me to protest that the man who has asked me to marry
him cares about me?" Miss Patty replied in an angry undertone.
"Couldn't he have married a thousand other girls! Hadn't a
marriage been arranged between him and the cousin--"
"I know all that," Mrs. Dicky said, and her voice sounded older
than Miss Patty's, and motherly. "But--are you in love with him,
"Certainly," Miss Patty said indignantly. "Don't be silly,
At that instant Mr. Dick found the beans, and got up shouting
that we'd have a meal fit for a prince--if princes ate anything
so every day as baked beans. I put the eggs on a platter and
poured the coffee, and we all sat around the soap box and ate. I
wished that Miss Cobb could have seen me there--how they insisted
on my having a second egg, and was my coffee cold, and wasn't I
too close to the fire? It was Minnie here and Minnie there, and
me next to Miss Patty on the floor, and she, as you may say,
right next to royalty. I wished it could have been in the
spring-house, with father's crayon enlargement looking down on
Everybody felt better for the meal, and we were sitting there
laughing and talking and very cheerful when Mr. Van Alstyne
opened the door and looked in. His face was stern, but when
he saw us, with Miss Patty on her knees toasting a piece of bread
and Mr. Dicky passing the tin basin as a finger-bowl, he stopped
scowling and looked amused.
"They're here, Sallie," he called to his wife, and they both came
in, covered with snow, and we had coffee and eggs all over again.
Well, they stayed for an hour, and Mr. Sam talked himself black
in the face and couldn't get anywhere. For the Dickys refused to
be separated, and Mrs. Dick wouldn't tell her father, and Miss
Patty wouldn't do it for her, and the minute Mr. Sam made a
suggestion that sounded rational Mrs. Dick would cry and say she
didn't care to live, anyhow, and she wished she had died of
ptomaine poisoning the time she ate the bad oysters at school.
So finally Mr. Sam gave up and said he washed his hands of the
whole affair, and that he was going to make another start on his
wedding journey, and if they wanted to be a pair of fools it
wasn't up to him--only for heaven's sake not to cry about it.
And then he wiped Mrs. Dicky's eyes and kissed her, she being, as
he explained, his sister-in-law now and much too pretty for him
And when the Dickys found they were not going to be separated we
had more coffee all around and everybody grew more cheerful.
Oh, we were very cheerful! I look back now and think how
cheerful we were, and I shudder. It was strange that we hadn't
been warned by Mr. Pierce's square jaw, but we were not. We sat
around the fire and ate and laughed, and Mr. Dick arranged that
Mr. Pierce should come out to him every evening for orders about
the place if he accepted, and everybody felt he would--and I was
to come at the same time and bring a basket of provisions for the
next day. Of course, the instant Mr. Jennings left the young
couple could go into the sanatorium as guests under another name
and be comfortable. And as soon as the time limit was up, and
the place was still running smoothly, they could declare the
truth, claim the sanatorium, having fulfilled the conditions of
the will, and confess to Mr. Jennings--over the long-distance
Well, it promised well, I must say. Mr. Stitt left on the ten
train that morning, looking lemon-colored and mottled. He
insisted that he wasn't able to go, but Mr. Sam gave him a
headache powder and put him on the train, anyhow.
Yes, as I say, it promised well. But we made two mistakes: we
didn't count on Mr. Thoburn, and we didn't know Mr. Pierce. And
who could have imagined that Mike the bath man would do as he
After luncheon, when everybody at Hope Springs takes a nap, we
had another meeting at the shelter-house, this time with Mr.
Pierce. He had spent the morning tramping over the hills with a
gun and keeping out of the way of people, and what with three
square meals, a good night's sleep and the exercise, he was
looking a lot better. Seen in daylight, he had very dark hair
and blue-gray eyes and a very square chin, although it had a sort
of dimple in it. I used to wonder which won out, the dimple or
the chin, but I wasn't long in finding out.
Well, he looked dazed when I took him to the shelter-house and he
saw Mr. Dick and Mrs. Dick and the Mr. Sams and Miss Patty. They
gave him a lawn-mower to sit on, and Mr. Sam explained the
"I know it's asking a good bit, Mr. Pierce," he said,
"and personally I can see only one way out of all this. Carter
ought to go in and take charge, and his--er--wife ought to go
back to school. But they won't have it, and--er--there are other
reasons." He glanced at Miss Patty.
Mr. Pierce also glanced at Miss Patty. He'd been glancing at her
at intervals of two seconds ever since she came in, and being a
woman and having a point to gain, Miss Patty seemed to have
forgotten the night before, and was very nice to him. Once she
smiled directly at him, and whatever he was saying died in his
throat of the shock. When she turned her head away he stared at
the back of her neck, and when she looked at the fire he gazed at
her profile, and always with that puzzled look, as if he hadn't
yet come to believe that she was the newspaper Miss Jennings.
After everything had been explained to him, including Mr.
Jennings' liver and disposition, she turned to him and said:
"We are in your hands, you see, Mr. Pierce. Are you going to
help us?" And when she asked him that, it was plain to me that
he was only sorry he couldn't die helping.
"If everybody agrees to it," he said, looking at her, "and you
all think it's feasible and I can carry it off, I'm perfectly
willing to try."
"Oh, it's feasible," Mr. Dick said in a relieved voice, getting
up and beginning to strut up and down the room. "It isn't as
though I'm beyond call. You can come out here and consult me if
you get stuck. And then there's Minnie; she knows a good bit
about the old place."
Mr. Sam looked at me and winked.
"Of course," said Mr. Dick, "I expect to retain control, you
understand that, I suppose, Pierce? You can come out every day
for instructions. I dare say sanatoriums are hardly your line."
Mr. Pierce was looking at Miss Patty and she knew it. When a
woman looks as unconscious as she did it isn't natural.
"Eh--oh, well no, hardly," he said, coming to himself; "I've
tried everything else, I believe. It can't be worse than
carrying a bunch of sweet peas from garden to garden."
Mr. Dick stopped walking and turned suddenly to stare at Mr.
"Sweet--what?" he said.
Everybody else was talking, and I was the only one who saw him
"Sweet peas," said Mr. Pierce. "And that reminds me--I'd like to
make one condition, Mr. Carter. I feel in a measure responsible
for the company; most of them have gone back to New York, but the
leading woman is sick at the hotel in Finleyville. I'd like to
bring her here for two weeks to recuperate. I assure you, I have
no interest in her, but I'm sorry for her; she's had the mumps."
"Mumps!" everybody said together, and Mr. Sam looked at his
"Kid in the play got 'em, and they spread around," Mr. Pierce
explained. "Nasty disease."
"Why, you've just had them, too, Dicky!" said his wife. They all
turned to look at him, and I must say his expression was curious.
Luckily, I had the wit to knock over the breakfast basket, which
was still there, and when we'd gathered up the broken china, Mr.
Dick had got himself in hand.
"I'm sorry, old man," he said to Mr. Pierce, "but I'm not in
favor of bringing Miss--the person you speak of--up to the
sanatorium just now. Mumps, you know--very contagious, and all
"She's over that part," Mr. Pierce said; "she only needs to
"Certainly--let her come," said Mrs. Dicky. "If they're as
contagious as all that, you haven't been afraid of MY getting
"I--I'm not in favor of it," Mr. Dick insisted, looking
obstinate. "The minute you bring an actress here you've got the
whole place by the ears."
"Fiddlesticks!" said his sister. "Because any actress could set
YOU by the ears--"
Mrs. Dick sat up suddenly.
"Certainly, if she isn't well bring her up," said Miss Patty.
"Only--won't she know your name is not Carter?"
"She's discretion itself," Mr. Pierce said. "Her salary hasn't
been paid for a month, and as I'm responsible, I'd be glad to see
her looked after."
"I don't want her here. I'll--I'll pay her board at the hotel,"
Mr. Dick began, "only for heaven's sake, don't--"
He stopped, for every one was staring.
"Why in the world would you do that?" Miss Patty asked. "Don't
be ridiculous. That's the only condition Mr. Pierce has made."
Mr. Dick stalked to the window and looked out, his hands in his
pockets. I couldn't help being reminded of the time he had run
away from school, when his grandfather found him in the shelter-
house and gave him his choice of going back at once or reading
medicine with him.
"Oh, bring her up! Bring her up!" he said without looking
around. "If Pierce won't stay unless he can play the friend in
need, all right. But don't come after me if the whole blamed
sanatorium swells up with mumps and faints at the sight of a
That was Wednesday.
Things at the sanatorium were about the same on the surface. The
women crocheted and wondered what the next house doctor would be
like, and the men gambled at the slot-machines and played
billiards and grumbled at the food and the management, and when
they weren't drinking spring water they were in the bar washing
away the taste of it. They took twenty minutes on the verandas
every day for exercise and kept the house temperature at eighty.
Senator Biggs was still fasting and Mrs. Biggs took to spending
all day in the spring-house and turning pale every time she heard
his voice. It was that day, I think, that I found the
magazine with Upton Sinclair's article on fasting stuck fast in a
snow-drift, as if it had been thrown violently.
Wednesday afternoon Miss Julia Summers came with three lap robes,
a white lace veil and a French poodle in a sleigh and went to bed
in one of the best rooms, and that night we started to move out
furniture to the shelter-house.
By working almost all night we got the shelter-house fairly
furnished, although we made a trail through the snow that looked
like a fever chart. Toward daylight Mr. Sam dropped a wash-bowl
on my toe and I went to bed with an arnica compress.
I limped out in time to be on hand before Miss Cobb got there,
but what with a chilblain on my heel and hardly any sleep for two
nights--not to mention my toe--I wasn't any too pleasant.
"It's my opinion you're overeating, Minnie," Miss Cobb said.
"You're skin's a sight!"
"You needn't look at it," I retorted.
She burned the back of her neck just then and it was three
minutes before she could speak. When she could she was
"Just give it a twist or two, Minnie, won't you?" she said,
holding out the curler. "I haven't been able to sleep on the
back of my head for three weeks."
Well, I curled her hair for her and she told me about Miss
Summers being still shut in her room, and how she'd offered Mike
an extra dollar to give the white poodle a Turkish bath--it being
under the weather as to health--and how Mike had soaked the
little beast for an hour in a tub of water, forgetting the
sulphur, and it had come out a sort of mustard color, and how
Miss Summers had had hysterics when she saw it.
"Mike dipped him in bluing to bleach him again, or rather `her'--
it's name is Arabella--" Miss Cobb said, "but all it did was to
make it mottled like an Easter egg. Everybody is charmed. There
were no dogs allowed while the old doctor lived. Things were
"Yes, things were different," I assented, limping over to heat
the curler. "How--how does Mr. Carter get along?"
Miss Cobb put down her hand-mirror and sniffed.
"Well," she said, "goodness knows I'm no trouble maker, but
somebody ought to tell that young man a few things. He's
forever looking at the thermometer and opening windows. I
declare, if I hadn't brought my woolen tights along I'd have
frozen to death at breakfast. Everybody's complaining."
I put that away in my mind to speak about. It was only by
nailing the windows shut and putting strips of cotton batting
around the cracks that we'd ever been able to keep people there
in the winter. I had my first misgiving then. Heaven knows I
didn't realize what it was going to be.
Well, by the evening of that day things were going fairly well.
Tillie brought out a basket every morning to me at the spring-
house, fairly bursting with curiosity, and Mr. Sam got some
canned stuff in Finleyville and took it after dark to the
shelter-house. But after the second day Mrs. Dicky got tired
holding a frying-pan over the fire and I had to carry out at
least one hot meal a day.
They got their own breakfast in a chafing-dish, or rather he got
it and carried it to her. And she'd sit on the edge of her cot,
with her feet on the soap box--the floor was drafty--wrapped in a
pink satin negligee with bands of brown fur on it, looking
sweet and perfectly happy, and let him feed her boiled egg with a
spoon. I took them some books--my Gray's Anatomy, and Jane
Eyre and Molly Bawn, by The Duchess, and the newspapers, of
course. They were full of talk about the wedding, and the suite
the prince was bringing over with him, and every now and then a
notice would say that Miss Dorothy Jennings, the bride's young
sister, who was still in school and was not coming out until next
year, would be her sister's maid of honor. And when they came to
that, they would hug each other--or me, if I happened to be
close--and act like a pair of children, which they were.
Generally it would end up by his asking her if she wasn't sorry
she wasn't back at Greenwich studying French conjugations and
having a dance without any men on Friday nights, and she would
say "Wretch!" and kiss him, and I'd go out and slam the door.
But there was something on Mr. Dick's mind. I hadn't known him
for fourteen years for nothing. And the night Mr. Sam and I
carried out the canned salmon and corn and tomatoes he walked
back with me to the edge of the deer park, Mr. Sam having gone
"Now," I said, when we were out of ear-shot, "spit it out. I've
been expecting it."
"Listen, Minnie," he answered, "is Ju--is Miss Summers still
confined to her room?"
"No," I replied coldly. "Ju--Miss Summers was down to-night to
"Then she's seen Pierce," he said, "and he's told her the whole
story and by to-morrow--"
"What?" I demanded, clutching his arm. "You wretched boy, don't
tell me after all I've done"
"Oh, confound it, Minnie," he exclaimed, "it's as much your fault
as mine. Couldn't you have found somebody else, instead of
getting, of all things on earth, somebody from the Sweet Peas
"I see," I said slowly. "Then it WASN'T coincidence about the
"Confounded kid had them," he said with bitterness. "Minnie,
something's got to be done, and done soon. If you want the plain
truth, Miss--er--Summers and I used to be friends--and--well,
she's suing me for breach of promise. Now for heaven's sake,
Minnie, don't make a fuss--"
But my knees wouldn't hold me. I dropped down in a snow-drift
and covered my face.
MISS PATTY'S PRINCE
I dragged myself back to the spring-house and dropped in front of
the fire. What with worry and no sleep and now this new
complication I was dead as yesterday's newspaper. I sat there on
the floor with my hands around my knees, thinking what to do
next, and as I sat there, the crayon enlargement of father on the
spring-house wall began to shake its head from side to side, and
then I saw it hold out its hand and point a finger at me.
"Cut and run, Minnie," it said. "Get out from under! Go and buy
Timmon's candy store before the smash--the smash--!"
When I opened my eyes Mr. Pierce was sitting on the other side of
the chimney and staring at the fire. He had a pipe between his
teeth, but he wasn't smoking, and he had something of the same
look about his mouth he'd had the first day I saw him.
"Well?" he said, when he saw I was awake.
"I guess I was sleeping." I sat up and pushed in my hairpins and
yawned. I was tireder than ever. "I'm clean worn out."
"Of course you're tired," he declared angrily. "You're not a
horse, and you haven't been to bed for two nights."
"Care killed the cat," I said. "I don't mind losing sleep, but
it's like walking in a swamp, Mr. Pierce. First I put a toe in--
that was when I asked you to stay over night. Then I went a step
farther, lured on, as you may say, by Miss Patty waving a crown
or whatever it is she wants, just beyond my nose. And to-night
I've got a--well, to-night I'm in to the neck and yelling for a
He leaned over to where I sat before the fire and twisted my head
"To-night--what?" he demanded.
But that minute I made up my mind not to tell him. He might
think the situation was too much for him and leave, or he might
decide he ought to tell Miss Summers where Dick was. There was
no love lost between him and Mr. Carter.
"To-night--I'm just tired and cranky," I said, "so--is Miss
Summers settled yet?"
He nodded, as if he wasn't thinking of Miss Summers.
"What did you tell her?"
"Haven't seen her," he said. "Sent her a note that I was
understudying a man named Carter and to mind to pick up her
"It's a common enough name," I said, but he had lighted his pipe
again and had dropped forward, one elbow on his knee, his hand
holding the bowl of his pipe, and staring into the fire. He
looked up when I closed and locked the pantry door.
"I've just been thinking," he remarked, "here we are--a group of
people--all struggling like mad for one thing, but with different
motives. Mine are plain enough and mercenary enough, although a
certain red-haired girl with a fine loyalty to an old doctor and
a sanatorium is carrying me along with her enthusiasm. And Van
Alstyne's motives are clear enough--and selfish. Carter is
merely trying to save his own skin--but a girl like Miss Pat--
"There's nothing uncertain about what she wants, or wrong
either," I retorted. "She's right enough. The family can't
stand a scandal just now with her wedding so close."
He smiled and got up, emptying his pipe.
"Nevertheless, oh, Minnie, of the glowing hair and heart," he
said, "Miss Jennings has disappointed me. You see, I believe in
marrying for love."
"Love!" I was disgusted. "Don't talk to me about love! Love is
the sort of thing that makes two silly idiots run away and get
married and live in a shelter-house, upsetting everybody's plans,
while their betters have to worry themselves sick and carry them
He got up and began to walk up and down the spring-house,
scowling at the floor.
"Of course," he agreed, "he may be a decent sort, and she may
really want him."
"Of course she does!" I said. He stopped short. "I've been
wanting a set of red puffs for three years, and I can hardly walk
past Mrs. Yost's window down in the village. They've got some
that match my hair and I fairly yearn for them. But if I got 'em
I dare say I'd put them in a box and go after wanting something
else. It's the same way with Miss Patty. She'll get her
prince, and because it isn't real love, but only the same as me
with the puffs, she'll go after wanting something else. Only she
can't put him away in a box. She'll have to put him on and wear
him for better, for worse."
"Lord help her!" he said solemnly, and went over to the window
and stood there looking out.
I went over beside him. From the window we could see the three
rows of yellow lights that marked the house, and somebody with a
lantern was going down the path toward the stables. Mr. Pierce
leaned forward, his hands at the top of the window-sash, and put
his forehead against the glass.
"Why is it that a lighted window in a snow-storm always makes a
fellow homesick?" he said in his half-mocking way. "If he hasn't
got a home it makes him want one."
"Well, why don't you get one?" I asked.
"On nothing a year?" he said. "Not even prospects! And set up
housekeeping in the shelter-house with my good friend Minnie
carrying us food and wearing herself to a shadow, not to mention
bringing trashy books to my bride"
"She isn't that kind," I broke in, and got red. I'd been
thinking of Miss Patty. But he went over to the table and picked
up his glass of spring water, only to set it down untasted.
"No, she's not that kind!" he agreed, and never noticed the slip.
"You know, Minnie, women aren't all alike, but they're not all
different. An English writer has them classified to a T--there's
the mother woman--that's you. You're always mothering somebody
with that maternal spirit of yours. It's a pity it's vicarious."
I didn't say anything, not knowing just what he meant. But I've
looked it up since and I guess he was about right.
"And there's the mistress woman--Mrs. Dicky, for example, or--"
he saw Miss Cobb's curler on the mantel and picked it up--"or
even Miss Cobb," he said. "Coquetry and selfishness without
maternal instinct. How much of Miss Cobb's virtue is training
and environment, Minnie, not to mention lack of temptation, and
how much was born in her?"
"She's a preacher's daughter," I remarked. I could understand
about Mrs. Dicky, but I thought he was wrong about Miss Cobb.
"Exactly," he said. "And the third kind of woman is the
mistress-mother kind, and they're the salt of the earth, Minnie."
He began to walk up and down by the spring with his hands in his
pockets and a far-away look in his eyes. "The man who marries
that kind of woman is headed straight for paradise."
"That's the way!" I snapped. "You men have women divided into
classes and catalogued like horses on sale."
"Aren't they on sale?" he demanded, stopping. "Isn't it money,
or liberty, or--or a title, usually?" I knew he was thinking of
Miss Patty again.
"As for the men," I continued, "I guess you can class the married
ones in two classes, providers and non-providers. They're all
selfish and they haven't enough virtue to make a fuss about."
"I'd be a shining light in the non-provider class," he said, and
picking up his old cap he opened the door. Miss Patty herself
was coming up the path.
She was flushed from the cold air and from hurrying, and I don't
know that I ever saw her look prettier. When she came into the
light we could both see that she was dressed for dinner. Her fur
coat was open at the neck, and she had only a lace <133>scarf
over her head. (She was a disbeliever in colds, anyhow, and all
winter long she slept with the windows open and the steam-heat
"I'm so glad you're still here, Minnie!" she exclaimed, breathing
fast. "You haven't taken the dinner out to the shelter-house
yet, have you?"
"Not yet," I replied. "Tillie hasn't brought the basket. The
chef's been fussing about the stuff we're using in the diet
kitchen the last few days, and I wouldn't be surprised if he's
shut off all extras."
But I guess her sister and Mr. Dick could have starved to death
just then without her noticing. She was all excitement, for all
she's mostly so cool.
"I have a note here for my sister," she said, getting it out of
her pocket. "I know we all impose on you, Minnie, but--will you
take it for me? I'd go, but I'm in slippers, and, anyhow, I'd
need a lantern, and that would be reckless, wouldn't it?"
"In slippers!" Mr. Pierce interrupted. "It's only five degrees
above zero! Of all the foolhardy--!"
Miss Patty did not seem to hear him. She gave the letter to me
and followed me out on the step.
"You're a saint, Minnie," she said, leaning over and
squeezing my arm, "and because you're going back and forth in the
cold so much, I want you to have this--to keep."
She stooped and picked up from the snow beside the steps
something soft and furry and threw it around my neck, and the
next instant I knew she was giving me her chinchilla set, muff
and all. I was so pleased I cried, and all the way over to the
shelter-house I sniveled and danced with joy at the same time.
There's nothing like chinchilla to tone down red hair.
Well, I took the note out to the shelter-house, and rapped. Mr.
Dick let me in, and it struck me he wasn't as cheerful as usual.
He reached out and took the muff.
"Oh," he said, "I thought that was the supper."
"It's coming," I said, looking past him for Mrs. Dicky. Usually
when I went there she was drawing Mr. Dick's profile on a bit of
paper or teaching him how to manicure his nails, but that night
she was lying on the cot and she didn't look up.
"Sleeping?" I asked in a whisper.
"Grumping!" Mr. Dick answered. He went over and stood looking
down at her with his hands in his pockets and his hair
ruffled as if he'd been running his fingers through it. She
never moved a shoulder.
"Dorothy," he said. "Here's Minnie."
She pretended not to hear.
"Dorothy!" he repeated. "I wish you wouldn't be such a g--
Confound it, Dolly, be reasonable. Do you want to make me look
like a fool?"
She turned her face enough to uncover one eye.
"It wouldn't be difficult," she answered, staring at him with the
one eye. It was red from crying.
"Now listen, Dolly." He got down on one knee beside the cot and
tried to take her hand, but she jerked it away. "I've tried
wearing my hair that way, and it--it isn't becoming, to say the
least. I don't mind having it wet and brushed back in a
pompadour, if you insist, but I certainly do balk at the ribbon."
"You've only got to wear the ribbon an hour or so, until it
dries." She brought her hand forward an inch or so and he took
it and kissed it. It should have been slapped.
"I'll tell you what I'll do," he said. "You can fix it any way
you please, when it's too late for old Sam or Pierce to drop
in, and I'll wear the confounded ribbon all night. Won't that
But she had seen the note and sat up and held out her hand for
it. She was wearing one of Miss Patty's dresses and it hung on
her--not that Miss Patty was large, but she had a beautiful
figure, and Mrs. Dicky, of course, was still growing and not
properly filled out.
"Dick!" she said suddenly, "what do you think? Oskar is here!
Pat's in the wildest excitement. He's in town, and Aunt Honoria
has telephoned to know what to do! Listen: he is incog., of
course, and registered as Oskar von Inwald. He did an awfully
clever thing--came in through Canada while the papers thought he
was in St. Moritz."
"For heaven's sake," replied Mr. Dick, "tell her not to ask him
here. I shouldn't know how to talk to him."
"He speaks lovely English," declared Mrs. Dick, still reading.
"I know all that," he said, walking around nervously, "but if
he's going to be my brother-in-law, I suppose I don't get down on
my knees and knock my head on the floor. What do I say to him?
Four Highness? Oh, I've known a lord or two, but that's
different. You call them anything you like and lend them money."
"I dare say you can with Oskar, too." Mrs. Dicky put the note
down and sighed. "Well, he's coming. Pat says dad won't go back
to town until he's had twenty-one baths, and he's only had eleven
and she's got to stay with him. And you needn't worry about what
to call Oskar. He's not to know we're here."
I was worried on my way back to the spring-house--not that the
prince would make much difference, as far as I could see things
being about as bad as they could be. But some of the people were
talking of leaving, and since we had to have a prince it seemed a
pity he wasn't coming with all his retinue and titles. It would
have been a good ten thousand dollars' worth of advertising for
the place, and goodness knows we needed it.
When I got back to the spring-house Miss Patty and Mr. Pierce
were still there. He was in front of the fire, with his back to
it, and she was near the door.
"Of course it isn't my affair," he was saying. "You are
perfectly--" Then I opened the door and he stopped. I went
on into the pantry to take off my overshoes, and as I closed the
door he continued. "I didn't mean to say what I have. I meant
to explain about the other night--I had a right to do that. But
you forced the issue."
"I was compelled to tell you he was coming," she said angrily.
"I felt I should. You have been good enough to take Mr. Carter's
place here and save me from an embarrassing situation--"
"I had no philanthropic motives," he insisted stubbornly. "I did
it, as you must know, for three meals a day and a roof over my
head. If you wish me to be entirely frank, I disapprove of the
I heard the swish of her dress as she left the door and went
"What would you have had me do?" she asked.
"Take those two children to your father. What if there was a
row? Why should there be such a lot made of it, anyhow? They're
young, but they'll get older. It isn't a crime for two people
to--er--love each other, is it? And if you think a scandal or
two in your family--granting your father would make a
scandal--is going to put another patch on the ragged reputations
of the royal family of--"
"How dare you!" she cried furiously. "How DARE you!"
I heard her cross the room and fling the door open and a second
later it slammed. When I came out of the pantry Mr. Pierce was
sitting in his old position, elbow on knee, holding his pipe and
staring at the bowl.
WE GET A DOCTOR
I had my hands full the next day. We'd had another snow-storm
during the night and the trains were blocked again. About ten
o'clock we got a telegram from the new doctor we'd been
expecting, that he'd fallen on the ice on his way to the train
and broken his arm, and at eleven a delegation from the guests
waited on Mr. Pierce and told him they'd have to have a house
physician at once.
Senator Biggs was the spokesman. He said that, personally, he
couldn't remain another day without one; that he should be under
a physician's care every moment of his fast, and that if no
doctor came that day he'd be in favor of all the guests showing
their displeasure by leaving together.
"Either that," Thoburn said from the edge of the crowd, "or call
it a hotel at once and be done with it. A sanatorium
without a doctor is like an omelet without eggs!"
"Hamlet without ham," somebody said.
"We're doing the best we can," Mr. Pierce explained. "We--we
expect a doctor to-day."
"When?" from Mr. Jennings, who had come on a cane and was
watching Mr. Pierce like a hawk.
"This afternoon, probably. As there is no one here very ill--"
But at that they almost fell on him and tore him to pieces. I
had to step in front of him myself and say we'd have somebody
there by two o'clock if we had to rob a hospital to get him. And
Mr. Sam cried, "Three cheers for Minnie, the beautiful spring-
house girl!" and led off.
There's no doubt about it--a man ought to be born to the
sanatorium business. A real strong and healthy man has no
business trying to run a health resort, and I saw Mr. Pierce
wasn't making the hit that I'd expected him to.
He was too healthy. You only needed to look at him to know that
he took a cold plunge every morning, and liked to walk ten miles
a day, and could digest anything and go to sleep the minute his
head touched the pillow. And he had no tact. When Mrs.
Biggs went to him and explained that the vacuum cleaner must not
be used in her room--that it exhausted the air or something, and
she could hardly breathe after it--he only looked bewildered and
then drew a diagram to show her it was impossible that it could
exhaust the air. The old doctor knew how: he'd have ordered an
oxygen tank opened in the room after the cleaner was used and
she'd have gone away happy.
Of course Mr. Pierce was most polite. He'd listen to their
complaints--and they were always complaining, that's part of the
regime--with a puzzled face, trying to understand, but he
couldn't. He hadn't a nerve in his body. Once, when one of the
dining-room girls dropped a tray of dishes and half the women
went to bed with headache from the nervous shock, he never even
looked up, but went on with his dinner, and the only comment he
made afterward was to tell the head waitress to see that Annie
didn't have to pay breakage--that the trays were too heavy for a
woman, anyhow. As Miss Cobb said, he was impossible.
Well, as if I didn't have my hands full with getting meals
to the shelter-house, and trying to find a house doctor, and
wondering how long it would be before "Julia" came face to face
with Dick Carter somewhere or other, and trying to keep one eye
on Thoburn while I kept Mr. Pierce straight with the other--that
day, during luncheon, Mike the bath man came out to the spring-
house and made a howl about his wages. He'd been looking surly
for two days.
"What about your wages?" I snapped. "Aren't you getting what
you've always had?"
"No tips!" he said sulkily. "Only a few taking baths--only one
daily, and that's that man Jennings. There's no use talking,
Miss Minnie, I've got to have a double percentage on that man or
you'll have to muzzle him. He--he's dangerous."
"If I give you the double percentage, will you stay?"
"I don't know but that I'd rather have the muzzle, Miss Minnie,"
he answered slowly, "but--I'll stay. It won't be for long."
Which left me thinking. I'd seen Thoburn talking to Mike more
than once lately, and he'd been going around with an air of
assurance that didn't make me any too cheerful. Evenings,
when I'd relieved Amanda King at the news stand, I'd seen Thoburn
examining the woodwork of the windows, and only the night before,
happening on the veranda unexpectedly, I found Mike and him
measuring it with a tape line. As I say, Mike's visit left me
The usual crowd came out that afternoon and drank water and sat
around the fire and complained--all except Senator Biggs, who
happened in just as I was pouring melted butter over a dish of
hot salted pop-corn. He stood just inside the door, sniffling,
with his eyes fixed on the butter, and then groaned and went out.
He looked terrible--his clothes hung on him like bags; as the
bishop said, it was ghastly to see a convexity change to such a
concavity in three days.
Mr. Moody won three dollars that day from the slot-machine and
was almost civil to his wife, but old Jennings sat with his foot
on a stool and yelled if anybody slammed the door. Mrs. Hutchins
brought him out with her eyes red and asked me if she could leave
"I'm sorry if I was rude to you the other night, Minnie,"
she said, "but I was upset. I'm so worn-out that I'll have to
lie down for an hour, and if he doesn't get better soon, I--I
shall have to have help. My nerves are gone."
At four o'clock Mr. Sam came in, and he had Mr. Thoburn tight by
"My dear old chap," he was saying, "it would be as much as your
life's worth. That ground is full of holes and just now covered
He caught my eye, and wiped his forehead.
"Heaven help us!" he said, coming over to the spring, "I found
him making for the shelter-house, armed with a foot rule!
Somebody's got to take him in hand--I tell you, the man's a
"What about the doctor?" I asked, reaching up his glass.
"Be here to-night," he answered, "on the--"
But at that minute a boy brought a telegram down and handed it to
him. The new doctor was laid up with influenza!
We sat there after the others had gone, and Mr. Sam said he was
for giving up the fight, only to come out now with the truth
would mean such a lot of explaining and a good many people would
likely find it funny. Mr. Pierce came in later and we gave
him the telegram to read.
"I don't see why on earth they need a doctor, anyhow," he said,
"they're not sick. If they'd take a little exercise and get some
air in their lungs--"
"My dear fellow," Mr. Sam cried in despair, "some people are born
in sanatoriums, some acquire them, and others have them thrust
upon them--I've had this place thrust upon me. I don't know why
they want a doctor, but they do. They balked at Rodgers from the
village. They want somebody here at night. Mr. Jennings has the
gout and there's the deuce to pay. Some of them talk of
"Let 'em leave," said Mr. Pierce. "If they'd go home and drink
three gallons of any kind of pure water a day--"
"Sh! That's heresy here! My dear fellow, we've got to keep
Mr. Pierce glanced at the telegram and handed it back.
"Lot's of starving M. D.'s would jump at the chance," he said,
"but if it's as urgent as all this we can't wait to hunt. I'll
tell you, Van Alstyne, there's a chap down in the village he was
the character man with the Sweet Peas Company--and he's
stranded there. I saw him this morning. He's washing dishes in
the depot restaurant for his meals. We used to call him Doc, and
I've a hazy idea that he's a graduate M. D.--name's Barnes."
"Great!" cried Mr. Van Alstyne. "Let's have Barnes. You get
him, will you, Pierce?"
Mr. Pierce promised and they started out together. At the door
Mr. Sam turned.
"Oh, by the way, Minnie," he called, "better gild one of your
chairs and put a red cushion on it. The prince has arrived."
Well, I thought it all out that afternoon as I washed the
glasses, and it was terrible. I had two people in the shelter-
house to feed and look after like babies, with Tillie getting
more curious every day about the basket she brought, and not to
be held much longer; and I had a man running the sanatorium and
running it to the devil as fast as it could go. Not that he
wasn't a nice young man, big, strong-jawed and all that, but you
can't make a diplomat out of an ordinary man in three days, and
it takes more diplomacy to run a sanatorium a week than it does
to be secretary of state for four years. Then I had a
prince incognito, and Thoburn stirring up mischief, and the
servants threatening to strike, and no house doctor--
Just as I got to that somebody opened the door behind me and
looked in. I glanced around, and it was a man with the reddest
hair I ever saw. Mine was pale by comparison. He was rather
short and heavy-set, and he had a pleasant face, although not
handsome, his nose being slightly bent to the left. But at first
all I could see was his hair.
"Good evening," he said, edging himself in. "Are you Miss
"Yes," I said, rising and getting a glass ready, "although I'm
not called that often, except by people who want to pun on my
name and my business." I looked at him sharply, but he hadn't
intended any pun.
He took off his hat and came over to the spring where I was
filling his glass.
"If that's for me, you needn't bother," he said. "If it tastes
as it smells, I'm not thirsty. My name's Barnes, and I was to
wait here for Mr. Van Alstyne."
"Barnes!" I repeated. "Then you're the doctor."
He grinned, and stood turning his hat around in his hands.
"Not exactly," he said. "I graduated in medicine a good many
years ago, but after a year of it, wearing out more seats of
trousers waiting for patients than I earned enough to pay for,
and having to have new trousers, I took to other things."
"Oh, yes," I said. "You're an actor now."
He looked thoughtful.
"Some people think I'm not," he answered, "but I'm on the stage.
Graduated there from prize-fighting. Prize-fighting, the stage,
and then writing for magazines--that's the usual progression.
Sometimes, as a sort of denouement before the final curtain, we
have dinner at the White House."
I took a liking to the man at once. It was a relief to have
somebody who was willing to tell all about himself and wasn't
incognito, or in hiding, or under somebody else's name. I put a
fresh log on the fire, and as it blazed up I saw him looking at
"Ye gods and little fishes!" he said. "Another redhead! Why,
we're as alike as two carrots off the same bunch!"
In five minutes I knew how old he was, and where he was
raised, and that what he wanted more than anything on earth was a
little farmhouse with chickens and a cow.
"Where you can have air, you know," he said, waving his hands,
which were covered with reddish hair. "Lord, in the city I
starve for air! And where, when you're getting soft you can go
out and tackle the wood-pile. That's living!"
And then he wanted to know what he was to do at the sanatorium
and I told him as well as I could. I didn't tell him everything,
but I explained why Mr. Pierce was calling himself Carter, and
about the two in the shelter-house. I had to. He knew as well
as I did that three days before Mr. Pierce had had nothing to his
name but a folding automobile road map or whatever it was.
"Good for old Pierce!" he said when I finished. "He's a prince,
Miss Waters. If you'd seen him sending those girls back to
town--well, I'll do all I can to help him. But I'm not much of a
doctor. It's safe to acknowledge it; you'll find it out soon
Mr. and Mrs. Van Alstyne came in just then, and Mr. Sam told him
what he was expected to do. It wasn't much: he was to tell
them at what temperatures to take their baths, "and Minnie will
help you out with that," he added, and what they were to eat and
were not to eat. "Minnie will tell you that, too," he finished,
and Mr. Barnes, DOCTOR Barnes, came over and shook my hand.
"I'm perfectly willing to be first assistant," he declared.
"We'll put our heads together and the result will be--"
"Combustion!" said Mr. Sam, and we all laughed.
"Remember," Mr. Sam instructed him, as Doctor Barnes started out,
"when you don't know what to prescribe, order a Turkish bath.
The baths are to a sanatorium what the bar is to a club--they pay
Well, we got it all fixed and Doctor Barnes started out, but at
the door he stopped.
"I say," he asked in an undertone, "the stork doesn't light
around here, does he?"
"Not if they see him first!" I replied grimly, and he went out.
It was all well enough for me to say--as I had to to Tillie many
a time--that it was ridiculous to make a fuss over a person for
what, after all, was an accident of birth. It was well enough
for me to say that it was only by chance that I wasn't strutting
about with a crown on my head and a man blowing a trumpet to let
folks know I was coming, and by the same token and the same
chance Prince Oskar might have been a red-haired spring-house
girl, breaking the steels in her figure stooping over to ladle
mineral water out of a hole in the earth.
Nevertheless, at five o'clock, after every one had gone, when I
saw Miss Patty, muffled in furs, tripping out through the snow,
with a tall thin man beside her, walking very straight and taking
one step to her four, I felt as though somebody had hit me at the
end of my breast-bone.
They stopped a minute outside before they came in, and I had to
take myself in hand.
"Now look here, Minnie, you idiot," I said to myself, "this is
America; you're as good as he is; not a bend of the knee or a
stoop of the neck. And if he calls you `my good girl' hit him."
They came in together, laughing and talking, and, to be honest,
if I hadn't caught the back of a chair, I'd have had one foot
back of the other and been making a courtesy in spite of myself.
"We're late, Minnie!" Miss Patty said. "Oskar, this is one of my
best friends, and you are to be very nice to her."
He had one of those single glass things in his eye and he gave me
a good stare through it. Seen close he was handsomer than Mr.
Pierce, but he looked older than his picture.
"Ask her if she won't be nice to me," he said in as good English
as mine, and held out his hand.
"Any of Miss Patty's friends--" I began, with a lump in my
throat, and gave his hand a good squeeze. I thought he looked
startled, and suddenly I had a sort of chill.
"Good gracious!" I exclaimed, "should I have kissed it?"
They roared at that, and Miss Patty had to sit down in a chair.
"You see, she knows, Oskar," she said. "The rest are thinking
and perhaps guessing, but Minnie is the only one that knows, and
she never talks. Everybody who comes here tells Minnie his
"But--am I a trouble?" he asked in a low tone. I was down in the
spring, but I heard it.
"So far you have hardly been an unalloyed joy," she replied, and
from the spring I echoed "Amen."
"Yes--I'm so hung with family skeletons that I clatter when I
walk," I explained, pretending I hadn't heard, and brought them
both glasses of water. "It's got to be a habit with some people
to save their sciatica and their husband's dispositions and their
torpid livers and their unpaid bills and bring 'em here to me."
He sniffed at the glass and put it down.
"Herr Gott!" he said, "what a water! It is--the whole thing is
extraordinary! I can understand the reason for Carlsbad or
Wiesbaden--it is gay. One sees one's friends; it is--social.
He got up and, lifting a window curtain, peered out into the
"Here," he repeated, "shut in by forests and hills, a thousand
miles from life--" He shrugged his shoulders and came back to
the table. "It is well enough for the father," he went on to
Miss Patty, "but for you! Why--it is depressing, gray. The only
bit of color in it all is--here, in what you call the spring-
house." I thought he meant Miss Patty's cheeks or her lovely
violet eyes, but he was looking at my hair. I had caught his eye
on it before, but this time he made no secret about it, and he
sighed, for all the world as if it reminded him of something. He
went over to the slot-machine and stood in front of it, humming
and trying the different combinations. I must say he had a nice
Miss Patty came over and slipped her hand in mine.
"Well?" she whispered, looking at me with her pretty eyebrows
"He looks all right," I had to confess. "Perhaps you can coax
him to shave."
"Oskar!" she called, "you have passed, but you are conditioned.
Minnie objects to the mustache."
He turned and looked at me gravely.
"It is my--greatest attraction," he declared, "but it is also a
great care. If Miss Minnie demands it, I shall give it to her in
a--in a little box." He sauntered over and looked at me in his
audacious way. "But you must promise to care for it. Many women
have loved it."
"I believe that!" I answered, and stared back at him without
blinking. "I guess I wouldn't want the responsibility."
But I had an idea that he meant what he said about the many
women, and that Miss Patty knew it as well as I did. She flushed
a little, and they went very soon after that. I stood and
watched them until they disappeared in the snow, and I felt
lonelier than ever, and sad, although certainly he was better
than I had expected to find him. He was a man, and not a little
cub with a body hardly big enough to carry his forefathers'
weaknesses. But he had a cold eye and a warm mouth, and that
sort of man is generally a social success and a matrimonial
It wasn't until toward night that I remembered I'd been talking
to a real prince and I hadn't once said "your Highness" or "your
Excellency" or whatever I should have said. I had said "You!"
I had hardly closed the door after them when it opened again and
Mr. Pierce came in. He shut the door and, going over to one of
the tables, put a package down on it.
"Here's the stuff you wanted for the spring, Minnie," he
announced. "I suppose I can't do anything more than register a
protest against it?"
"You needn't bother doing that," I answered, "unless it makes you
feel better. Your authority ends at that door. Inside the
spring-house I'm in control."
(It's hard to believe, with things as they are, that I once
really believed that. But I did. It was three full days later
that I learned that I'd been mistaken!)
Well, he sat there and looked at nothing while I heated water in
my brass kettle over the fire and dissolved the things
against Thoburn's quick eye the next day, and he didn't say
anything. He had a gift for keeping quiet, Mr. Pierce had. It
got on my nerves after a while.
"Things are doing better," I remarked, stirring up my mixture.
"Yes," he said, without moving.
"I suppose they're happier now they have a doctor?"
"Yes--no--I don't know. He's not much of a doctor, you know--and
there don't seem to be any medical books around."
"There's one on the care and feeding of infants in the
circulating library," I said, "and he can have my Anatomy."
"You're generous!" he remarked, with one of his quick smiles.
"It's a book," I snapped, and fell to stirring again. But he was
moping once more, with his feet out and his hands behind his
head, staring at the ceiling.
"I say, Minnie--"
"Miss--Miss Jennings and the von Inwald were here just now,
weren't they? I passed them on the bridge."
"What--how do you like him?"
"Better than I expected and not so well as I might," I said. "If
you are going to the house soon you might take Miss Patty her
handkerchief. It's there under that table."
I took my mixture into the pantry and left it to cool. But as I
started back I stopped. He had got the handkerchief and was
standing in front of the fire, holding it in the palm of his hand
and looking at it. And all in a minute he crushed it to his face
with both hands and against the firelight I could see him
I stepped back into the pantry and came out again noisily. He
was standing very calm and quiet where he had been before, and no
handkerchief in sight.
"Well," I said, "did you get it?"
"Miss Patty's handkerchief?"
"Oh--that! Yes. Here it is." He pulled it out of his pocket
and held it up by the corner.
"Ridiculous size, isn't it, and--" he held it up to his nose--"I
dare say one could almost tell it was hers by the scent. It's--
it's like her."
"Humph!" I said, suddenly suspicious, and looked at it. "Well,"
I said, "it may remind you of Miss Patty, and the scent may be
like Miss Patty, but she doesn't use perfume on her handkerchief.
This has an E. C. on it, which means Eliza Cobb."
He left soon after, rather crestfallen, but to save my life I
couldn't forget what I'd seen--him with that scrap of linen that
he thought was hers crushed to his face, and his shoulders
heaving. I had an idea that he hadn't cared much for women
before, and that, this being a first attack, he hadn't
established what the old doctor used to call an immunity.
Mrs. Hutchins came out to the spring-house the next morning. She
was dressed in a black silk with real lace collar and cuffs, and
she was so puffed up with pride that she forgot to be nasty to
"I thought I'd better come to you, Minnie," she said. "There
seems to be nobody in authority here any more. Mr. Carter has
put the--has put Mr. von Inwald in the north wing. I can not
imagine why he should have given him the coldest and most
disagreeable part of the house."
I said I'd speak to Mr. Carter and try to have him moved, and she
rustled over to where I was brushing the hearth and stooped down.
"Mr. von Inwald is incognito, of course," she said, "but he
belongs to a very old family in his own country--a
noble family. He ought to have the best there is in the house."
I promised that, too, and she went away, but I made up my mind to
talk to Mr. Pierce. The sanatorium business isn't one where you
can put your own likes and dislikes against the comfort of the
Miss Cobb came out a few minutes after; she had on her new green
silk with the white lace trimming. She saw me staring as she
threw off her cape and put her curler on the log.
"It's a little dressy for so early, of course, Minnie," she said,
"but I wish you'd see some of the other women! Breakfast looked
like an afternoon reception. What would you think of pinning
this black velvet ribbon around my head?"
"It might have done twenty years ago, Miss Cobb," I answered,
"but I wouldn't advise it now." I was working at the slot-
machine, and I heard her sniff behind me as she hung up her
mirror on the window-frame.
She tried the curler on the curtain, which she knows I object to,
but she was too full of her subject to be sulky for long.
"I wish you could see Blanche Moody!" she began again, standing
holding the curler, with a thin wreath of smoke making a halo
over her head. "Drawn in--my dear, I don't see how she can
breathe! I guess there's no doubt about Mr. von Inwald."
"I'd like to know who put this beer check in the slot-machine
yesterday," I said as indifferently as I could. "What about Mr.
She tiptoed over to me, the halo trailing after her.
"About his being a messenger from the prince to Miss Jennings!"
she answered in a whisper. "He spent last night closeted with
papa, and the chambermaid on that floor told Lily Biggs that
there was almost a quarrel."
"That doesn't mean anything," I objected. "If the Angel Gabriel
was shut in with Mr. Jennings for ten minutes he'd be blowing his
trumpet for help."
Miss Cobb shrugged her shoulders and took hold of a fresh wisp of
hair with the curler.
"I dare say," she assented, "but the Angel Gabriel wouldn't have
waited to breakfast with Miss Jennings, and have kissed her hand
before everybody at the foot of the stairs!"
"Is he handsome?" I asked, curious to know how he would impress
other women. But Miss Cobb had never seen a man she would call
"Handsome!" she said. "My dear, he's beautiful! He has a duel
scar on his left cheek--all the nobility have them over there.
I've a cousin living in Berlin--she's the wittiest person--and
she says the German child of the future will be born with a
scarred left cheek!"
Well, I was sick enough of hearing of Mr. von Inwald before the
day was over. All morning in the spring-house they talked Mr.
von Inwald. They pretended to play cards, but they were really
playing European royalty. Every time somebody laid down a queen,
he'd say, "Is the queen still living, or didn't she die a few
years ago?" And when they played the knave, they'd start off
about the prince again. They'd all decided that Mr. von Inwald
was noble--somebody said that the "von" was a sort of title. The