Part 3 out of 5
women were planning to make the evenings more cheerful, too.
They couldn't have a dance with the men using canes or forbidden
to exercise, but Miss Cobb had a lot of what she called "parlor
games" that she wanted to try out. "Introducing the Jones
family" was one of them.
In the afternoon Mr. von Inwald came out to the spring-house and
sat around, very affable and friendly, drinking the water. He
and the bishop grew quite chummy. Miss Patty was not there, but
about four o'clock Mr. Pierce came out. He did not sit down, but
wandered around the room, not talking to anybody, but staring,
whenever he could, at the prince. Once I caught Mr. von Inwald's
eyes fixed on him, as if he might have seen him before. After a
while Mr. Pierce sat down in a corner like a sulky child and
filled his pipe, and as nobody noticed him except to complain
about the pipe, which he didn't even hear, he sat there for a
half-hour, bent forward, with his pipe clenched in his teeth, and
never took his eyes off Mr. von Inwald's face.
Senator Biggs was the one who really caused the trouble. He
spent a good deal of time in the spring-house trying to fool his
stomach by keeping it filled up all the time with water. He had
got past the cranky stage, being too weak for it; his face was
folded up in wrinkles like an accordion and his double chin
was so flabby you could have tucked it away inside his collar.
"What do you think of American women, Mr. von Inwald?" he asked,
and everybody stopped playing cards and listened for the answer.
As Mr. von Inwald represented the prince, wouldn't he be likely
to voice the prince's opinion of American women?
It's my belief Mr. von Inwald was going to say something nice.
He smiled as if he meant to, but just then he saw Mr. Pierce in
his corner sneering behind his pipe. They looked at each other
steadily, and nobody could mistake the hate in Mr. Pierce's face
or his sneer. After a minute the prince looked away and shrugged
his shoulders, but he didn't make his pretty speech.
"American women!" he said, turning his glass of spring water
around on the table before him, "they are very lovely, of
course." He looked around and there were Mrs. Moody and Mrs.
Biggs and Miss Cobb, and he even glanced at me in the spring.
Then he looked again at Mr. Pierce and kept his eyes there. "But
they are spoiled, fearfully spoiled. They rule their parents and
they expect to rule their husbands. In Europe we do things
better; we are not--what is the English?--hag-ridden?"
There was a sort of murmur among the men, but the women all
nodded as if they thought Europe was entirely right. They'd have
agreed with him if he'd advocated sixteen wives sitting cross-
legged on a mat, like the Turks. Mr. Pierce was still staring at
"What I don't quite understand, Mr. von Inwald," the bishop put
in in his nice way, "is your custom of expecting a girl to bring
her husband a certain definite sum of money and to place it under
the husband's control. Our wealthy American girls control their
own money," He was thinking of Miss Patty, and everybody knew it.
The prince turned red and glared at the bishop. Then I think he
remembered that they didn't know who he was, and he smiled and
started to turning the glass again.
"Pardon!" he said. "Is it not better? What do women know of
money? They throw it away on trifles, dress, jewels--American
women are extravagant. It is one result of their--of their
Mr. Pierce got up and emptied his pipe into the fire. Then he
"I'm afraid you have not known the best type of American women,"
he said, looking hard at the prince. "Our representative women
are our middle-class women. They do not contract European
alliances, not having sufficient money to attract the attention
of the nobility, or enough to buy titles, as they do pearls, for
the purpose of adornment."
Mr. von Inwald got up, and his face was red. Mr. Pierce was
white and sneering.
"Also," he went on, "when they marry they wish to control their
own money, and not see it spent in--ways with which you are
We were all paralyzed. Nobody moved. Mr. Pierce put his pipe in
his pocket and stalked out, slamming the door. Then Mr. von
Inwald shrugged his shoulders and laughed.
"I see I shall have to talk to our young friend," he said and
picked up his glass. "I'm afraid I've given a wrong impression.
I like the American women very much; too well," he went on with a
flash of his teeth, looking around the room, and brought the
glass to the spring for me to fill. But as I've said
before, I can tell a good bit about a man from the way he gives
me his glass, and he was in a perfect frenzy of rage. When I
reached it back to him he gripped it until his nails were white.
My joint ached all the rest of the afternoon. About five o'clock
Mr. Thoburn stopped in long enough to say: "What's this I hear
about Carter making an ass of himself to-day?"
"I haven't heard it," I answered. "What is it?"
But he only laughed and turned up his collar to go.
"Jove, Minnie," he said, "why do women of your spirit always
champion the losing side? Be a good girl; give me a hand now and
then with this thing, and I'll see you don't lose by it."
"We're not going to lose," I retorted angrily. "Nobody has left
yet. We are still ahead on the books."
He came over and shook a finger in my face.
"Nobody has left--and why? Because they're all taking a series
of baths. Wait until they've had their fifteen, or twenty-one,
or whatever the cure is, and then see them run!"
It was true enough; I knew it.
THE PRINCE, WITH APOLOGIES
Tillie brought the supper basket for the shelter-house about six
o'clock and sat down for a minute by the fire. She said Mr.
Pierce (Carter to her) had started out with a gun about five
o'clock. It was foolish, but it made me uneasy.
"They've gone plumb crazy over that Mr. von Inwald," she
declared. "It makes me tired. How do they know he's anything
but what he says he is? He may be a messenger from the emperor
of Austria, and he may be selling flannel chest protectors. Miss
Cobb's all set up; she's talking about getting up an
entertainment and asking that Miss Summers to recite."
She got up, leaving the basket on the hearth.
"And say," she said, "you ought to see that dog now. It's been
soakin' in peroxide all day!"
She went out with the peroxide, but a moment later she
opened the door and stuck her head in, nodding toward the basket.
"Say," she said, "the chef's getting fussy about the stuff I'm
using in the diet kitchen. You've got to cut it out soon,
Minnie. If I was you I'd let him starve."
"What!" I screeched, and grasped the rail of the spring.
"Let him starve!" she repeated.
"Wha--what are you talking about?" I demanded when I got my
She winked at me from the doorway.
"Oh, I'm on all right, Minnie!" she assured me, "although heaven
only knows where he puts it all! He's sagged in like a chair
with broken springs."
I saw then that she thought I was feeding Senator Biggs on the
sly, and I breathed again. But my nerves were nearly gone, and
when just then I heard a shot from the direction of the deer
park, even Tillie noticed how pale I got.
"I don't know what's come over you, Minnie," she said. "That's
only Mr. Carter shooting rabbits. I saw him go out as I started
down the path."
I was still nervous when I put on my shawl and picked up the
basket. But there was a puddle on the floor and the soup
had spilled. There was nothing for it but to go back for more
soup, and I got it from the kitchen without the chef seeing me.
When I opened the spring-house door again Mr. Pierce was by the
fire, and in front of him, where I'd left the basket, lay a dead
rabbit. He was sitting there with his chin in his hands looking
at the poor thing, and there was no basket in sight.
"Well," I asked, "did you change my basket into a dead rabbit?"
"Basket!" he said, looking up. "What basket?"
I looked everywhere, but the basket was gone, and after a while I
decided that Mr. Dick had had an attack of thoughtfulness (or
hunger) and had carried it out himself.
And all the time I looked for the basket Mr. Pierce sat with the
gun across his knees and stared at the rabbit.
"I'd thank you to take that messy thing out of here," I told him.
"Poor little chap!" he exclaimed. "He was playing in the snow,
and I killed him--not because I wanted food or sport, Minnie,
but--well, because I had to kill something."
"I hope you don't have those attacks often," I said. He looked
at the rabbit and sighed.
"Never in my life!" he answered. "For food or sport, that's
different, but--blood-lust!" He got up and put the gun in the
corner, and I saw he looked white and miserable.
"I don't like myself to-night, Minnie," he said, trying to smile,
"and nobody likes me. I'm going into the garden to eat worms!"
I didn't like to scold him when he was feeling bad anyhow, but
business is business. So I asked him how long he thought people
would stay if he acted as he had that day. I said that a
sanatorium was a place where the man who runs it can't afford to
have likes and dislikes; that for my part I'd a good deal rather
he'd get rid of his excitement by shooting off a gun, provided he
pointed it away from the house, than to sit around and let his
mind explode and kill all our prospects. I told him, too, to
remember that he wasn't responsible for the morals or actions of
his guests, only for their health.
"Health!" he echoed, and kicked a chair. "Health! Why, if I
wanted to keep a good dog in condition, Minnie, I wouldn't bring
"No," I retorted, "you'd shut him in an old out oven, and give
him a shoe to chew, and he'd come out in three days frisking and
happy. But you can't do that with people."
"Why not?" he asked. "Although, of course, the supply of out
ovens and old shoes is limited here."
"As far as Mr. von Inwald goes," I went on, "that's not your
affair or mine. If Miss Patty's own father can't prevent it, why
should you worry about it?"
"Precisely," he agreed. "Why should I? But I do, Minnie--that's
the devil of it."
"There are plenty of nice girls," I suggested, feeling rather
sorry for him.
"Are there? Oh, I dare say." He stooped and picked up his
rabbit. "Straight through the head; not so bad for twilight.
Poor little chap!"
He said good night and went out, taking the gun and the rabbit
with him, and I went into the pantry to finish straightening
things for the night. In a few minutes I heard voices in the
other room, one Mr. Pierce's, and one with a strong German
"When was that?" Mr. von Inwald's voice.
"A year ago, in Vienna."
"At the Bal Tabarin. You were in a loge. The man I was with
told me who the woman was. It was she, I think, who suggested
that you lean over the rail--"
"Ah, so!" said Mr. von Inwald as if he just remembered. "Ah,
yes, I recall--I was with--the lady was red-haired, is it not?
And it was she who desired me--"
"You leaned over the rail and poured a glass of wine on my head.
It was very funny. The lady was charmed."
"I recall it perfectly. I remember that I did it under protest--
it was a very fine wine, and expensive."
"Then you also recall," said Mr. Pierce, very quietly, "that
because you were with a--well, because you were with a woman, I
could not return your compliment. But I demanded the privilege
at some future date when you were alone."
"It is a pity," replied Mr. von Inwald, "that now, when I am
alone, there is no wine!"
"No, there is no wine," Mr. Pierce agreed slowly, "but there is--
I opened the door at that, and both of them started. Mr. von
Inwald was standing with his arms folded, and Mr. Pierce had one
arm raised holding up a glass of spring water. In another second
it would have been in the other man's face.
I walked over to Mr. Pierce and took the glass out of his hand,
and his expression was funny to see.
"I've been looking everywhere for that glass," I said. "It's got
to be washed."
Mr. von Inwald laughed and picked up his soft hat from the table.
He turned around at the door and looked back at Mr. Pierce, still
"Accept my apologies!" he said. "It was such a fine wine, and so
Then he went out.
I was pretty nervous when I took charge of the news stand that
evening. Amanda King had an appointment with the dentist and had
left everything topsyturvey. I was still straightening up when
people began to come down to dinner.
Miss Cobb walked over to the news stand, and she'd cut the white
yoke out of her purple silk. She looked very dressy, although
"Everybody has dressed for dinner to-night, Minnie," she informed
me. "We didn't want Mr. von Inwald to have a wrong idea of
American society, especially after Mr. Carter's ridiculous
conduct this afternoon, and I wonder if you'll be sweet enough to
start the phonograph in the orchestra gallery as we go in--
something with dignity, you know--the wedding march, or the
overture from Aida."
"Aida's cracked," I said shortly, "and as far as I'm
concerned, Mr. von Inwald can walk in to his meals without music,
or starve to death waiting for the band."
But she got the phonograph, anyhow, and put the elevator boy in
the gallery with it. She picked out some things by Caruso and
Tetrazzini and piled them on a chair, but James had things to
himself up there, and played The Spring Chicken through three
times during dinner, with Miss Cobb glaring at the gallery until
the back of her neck ached, and the dining-room girls waltzing in
with the dishes and polka-ing out.
Mr. Moody came out when dinner was over in a fearful rage and
made for the news stand.
"One of your ideas, I suppose," he asserted. "What sort of a
night am I going to have after chewing my food to rag-time, with
my jaws doing a skirt-dance? Why in heaven's name couldn't you
have had something slow, like Handel's Largo, if you've got to
But dinner was over fifteen minutes sooner than usual. James
cake-walked everybody out to My Ann Elizer, and Miss Cobb was
mortified to death.
Two or three things happened that night. For one, I got a
good look at Miss Julia Summers. She was light-haired and well-
fleshed, with an ugly face but a pleasant smile. She wore a low-
necked dress that made Miss Cobb's with the yoke out look like a
storm collar, and if she had a broken heart she didn't show it.
"Hello," she cried, looking at my hair, "are you selling tobacco
here or are you the cigar-lighter?"
"Neither," I answered, looking over her head. "I am employed as
the extinguisher of gay guests."
"Good," she said, smiling. "I'm something fine at that myself.
Suppose I stay here and help. If I watch that line of knitting
women I'll be crotcheting Arabella's wool in my sleep to-night."
Well, she was too cheerful to be angry with. So she stayed
around for a while, and it was amazing how much tobacco I sold
that evening. Men who usually bought tobies bought the best
cigars, and when Mr. Jennings came up, scowling, and I handed him
the brand he'd smoked for years, she took one, clipped the end of
it as neat as a finger nail and gave it to him, holding up the
"I'm not going to smoke yet, young woman," he said, glaring at
her. But she only smiled.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I've been waiting hungrily until some
discriminating smoker would buy one of those and light it. I
love the aroma."
And he stood there for thirty minutes, standing mostly on one
foot on account of the gouty one, puffing like a locomotive, with
her sniffing at the aroma and telling him how lonely she felt
with no friends around and just recovering from a severe illness.
At eight o'clock he had Mrs. Hutchins bring him his fur-lined
coat and he and Miss Julia took Arabella, the dog, for a walk on
The rest of the evening was quiet, and I needed it. Miss Patty
and Mr. von Inwald talked by the fire and I think he told her
something--not all--of the scene in the spring-house. For she
passed Mr. Pierce at the foot of the stairs on her way up for the
night and she pretended not to see him. He stood there looking
up after her with his mouth set, and at the turn she glanced down
and caught his eye. I thought she flushed, but I wasn't sure,
and at that minute Senator Biggs bought three twenty-five-cent
cigars and told me to keep the change from a dollar. I was so
surprised at the alteration in him that I forgot Miss Patty
About twelve o'clock, just after I went to my room, somebody
knocked at the door. When I opened, the new doctor was standing
in the hall.
"I'm sorry to disturb you," he said, "but nobody seems to know
where the pharmacy clerk is and I'll have to get some medicine."
"If I'd had my way, we'd have had a bell on that pharmacy clerk
long ago," I snapped, getting my keys. "Who's sick?"
"The big man," he replied. "Biggs is his name, I think, a
senator or something."
I was leading the way to the stairs, but I stopped. "I might
have known it," I said. "He hasn't been natural all evening.
What's the matter with him? Too much fast?"
"Fast!" He laughed. "Too much feast! He's got as pretty a case
of indigestion as I've seen for some time. He's giving a
demonstration that's almost theatrical."
Well, he insisted it was indigestion, although I argued that it
wasn't possible, and he wanted ipecac.
"I haven't seen a pharmacopoeia for so long that I wouldn't know
one if I met it," he declared, "but I've got a system of
mnemonics that never fails. Ipecac and colic both end with
`c'--I'll never forget that conjunction. It was pounded in and
poured in in my early youth."
Well, the pharmacy was locked, and we couldn't find a key to fit
it. And when I suggested mustard and warm water he jumped at the
"Fine!" he said. "Better let me dish out the spring-water and
you take my job! Lead on, MacDuff, to the kitchen."
Although it was only midnight there was not a soul about. A hall
leads back of the office to the kitchen and pantries, and there
was a low light there, but the rest was dark. We bumped through
the diet kitchen and into the scullery, when we found we had no
matches. I went back for some, and when I got as far as the diet
kitchen again Doctor Barnes was there, just inside the door.
"Sh!" he whispered. "Come into the scullery. The kitchen is
dark, but there is somebody in there, fumbling around, striking
matches. I suppose you don't have such things as burglars in
this neck of the woods?"
Well, somebody had broken into Timmons' candy store a week before
and stolen a box of chewing-gum and a hundred post-cards,
and I told him so in a whisper.
"Anyhow, it isn't the chef," I said. "He's had a row with the
bath man and is in bed with a cut hand and a black eye, and
nobody else has any business here."
We tiptoed into the scullery in the dark: just then somebody
knocked a kettle down in the kitchen and it hit the stove below
with a crash. Whoever was there swore, and it was not Francois,
who expresses his feelings mostly in French. This was English.
There's a little window from the kitchen into the scullery as
well as a door. The window had a wooden slide and it was open an
inch or so. We couldn't see anything, but we could hear a man
moving around. Once he struck a match, but it went out and he
said "Damn!" again, and began to feel his way toward the
Doctor Barnes happened to touch my hand and he patted it as if to
tell me not to be frightened. Then he crept toward the scullery
door and waited there.
It swung open slowly, but he waited until it closed again
and the man was in the room. Then he yelled and jumped and there
was the sound of a fall. I could hardly strike the match--I was
trembling so--but when I did there was Mr. Dick lying flat on the
floor and the doctor sitting on him.
"Mister Dick!" I gasped, and dropped the match.
"Something hit me!" Mr. Dick said feebly, and when I had got a
candle lighted and had explained to Doctor Barnes that it was a
mistake, he got off him and let him up. He was as bewildered as
Mr. Dick and pretty nearly as mad.
We put him--Mr. Dick--in a chair and gave him a glass of water,
and after he had got his breath--the doctor being a heavy man--he
said he was trying to find something to eat.
"Confound it, Minnie," he exclaimed, "we're starving! It seems
to me there are enough of you here at least to see that we are
fed. Not a bite since lunch!"
"But I thought you had the basket," I explained. "I left it at
the spring-house, and when I went back it was gone."
"So that was it!" he answered. And then he explained that just
about the time they expected their supper they saw a man
carry a basket stealthily through the snow to the deer park. It
was twilight, but they watched him from the window, and he put
the basket through the barbed-wire fence and then crawled after
it. Just inside he sat down on a log and, opening the basket,
began to eat. He was still there when it got too dark to see
"If that was our dinner," he finished savagely, "I hope he choked
to death over it."
Doctor Barnes chuckled. "He didn't," he said, "but he's got the
worst case of indigestion in seven counties."
Well, I got the mustard and water ready with Mr. Dick standing by
hoping Mr. Biggs would die before he got it, and then I filled a
basket for the shelter-house. I put out the light and he took
the basket and started out, but he came back in a hurry.
"There's somebody outside talking," he said. I went to the door
with him and listened.
"The sooner the better," Mike was saying. "I'm no good while
I've got it on my mind."
And Mr. Thoburn: "To-morrow is too soon: they're not in the mood
yet. Perhaps the day after. I'll let you know."
I didn't get to sleep until almost morning, and then it was to
dream that Mr. Pierce was shouting "Hypocrites" to all the people
in the sanatorium and threatening to throw glasses of mustard and
warm water at them.
A BUNCH OF LETTERS
When people went down to breakfast the next morning they found a
card hanging on the office door with a half dozen new rules on
it, and when I went out to the spring-house the guests were
having an indignation meeting in the sun parlor, with the bishop
in the chair, and Senator Biggs, so wobbly he could hardly stand,
making a speech.
I tried to see Mr. Pierce, but early as it was he had gone for a
walk, taking Arabella with him. So I called a conference at the
shelter-house--Miss Patty, Mr. and Mrs. Van Alstyne, Mr. and Mrs.
Dick, and myself. Mrs. Dick wasn't dressed, but she sat up on
the edge of her cot in her dressing-gown, with her feet on the
soap box, and yawned. As we didn't have enough chairs, Miss
Patty jerked the soap box away and made me sit down. Mr. Dick
was getting breakfast.
We were in a tight place and we knew it.
"He is making it as hard for us as he can," Mrs. Sam declared.
"The idea of having the card-room lights put out at midnight, and
the breakfast room closed at ten! Nobody gets up at that hour."
"He was to come here every evening for orders," said Mr. Dick,
measuring ground coffee with a tablespoon, as I had showed him.
"He came just once, and as for orders--well, he gave 'em to me!"
But Miss Patty was always fair.
"I loathe him," she asserted. "I want to quarrel with him the
minute I see him. He--he is presumptuous to the point of
impertinence--but he's honest: he thinks we're all hypocrites--
those that are well and those that are sick or think they are--
and he hates hypocrisy."
Everybody talked at once, then, and she listened.
"Very well," she said. "I'll amend it. We're not all
hypocrites. My motives in all this are perfectly clear--and
"You and old Pierce would make a fine team, Pat," Mrs. Dick
remarked with a yawn. "I like hypocrites myself. They're so
comfy. But if you're not above advice, Pat, you'll have Aunt
Honoria break her neck or something--anything to get father
back to town. Something is going to explode, and Oskar doesn't
like to be agitated."
She curled up on the cot with that and went sound asleep. The
rest of us had coffee and talked, but there wasn't anything to
do. As Mr. Sam said, Mr. Pierce didn't want to stay, anyhow, and
as likely as not if we went to him in a body and told him he must
come to the shelter-house for instructions, and be suave and
gentle when he was called down by the guests about the steam-
pipes making a racket, he'd probably prefer to go down to the
village and take Doctor Barnes' place washing dishes at the
station. That wouldn't call for any particular mildness.
But he settled it by appearing himself. He came across the snow
from the direction of Mount Hope, and he had a pair of skees over
his shoulder. (At that time I didn't even know the name of the
things, but I learned enough about them later.) I must say he
looked very well beside Mr. Dick, who wasn't very large, anyhow,
and who hadn't had time to put on his collar, and Mr. Sam, who's
always thin and sallow and never takes a step he doesn't have to.
I let him in, and when he saw us all there he started and
"Come in, Pierce," Mr. Sam said. "We've just been talking about
He came in, but he didn't look very comfortable.
"What have you decided to do with me?" he asked. "Put me under
He was unbuttoning his sweater, and now he took out two of the
smallest rabbits I ever saw and held them up by the ears. Miss
Patty gave a little cry and took them, cuddling them in her lap.
"They're starving and almost frozen, poor little devils," he
said. "I found them near where I shot the mother last night,
Minnie, and by way of atonement I'm going to adopt them."
Well, although the minute before they'd all been wishing they'd
never seen him, they pretty nearly ate him up. Miss Patty held
the rabbits, so we all had turns at feeding them warm milk with a
teaspoon and patting their pink noses. When it came Mr. Pierce's
turn they were about full up, so he curled his big body on the
floor at Miss Patty's feet and talked to the rabbits and looked
at her. He had one of those faces that's got every emotion
marked on it as clear as a barometer--when he was mad his face
was mad all over, and when he was pleased he glowed to the
tips of his ears. And he was pleased that morning.
But, of course, he had to be set right about the sanatorium, and
Mr. Sam began it. Mr. Pierce listened, sitting on the floor and
looking puzzled and more and more unhappy. Finally he got up and
drew a long breath.
"Exactly," he agreed. "I know you are all right and I'm wrong--
according to your way of thinking. But if these people want to
be well, why should I encourage them to do the wrong thing? They
eat too much, they don't exercise"--he turned to Mr. Van Alstyne.
"Why, do you know, I asked a half dozen of the men--one after the
other--to go skeeing with me this morning and not one of them
"Really!" Mr. Sam exclaimed mockingly.
"What can you do with people like that?" Mr. Pierce went on.
"They don't want to be well; they're all hypocrites. Look at
that man Biggs! I'll lay you ten to one that after fasting five
days and then stealing a whole chicken, a dozen oysters and Lord
knows what else, now that he's sick, he'll hold it against me."
"He's not holding anything," I objected.
"Because HE is a hypocrite--" Mr. Sam began.
"That's not the point, Pierce," Mr. Dick broke in importantly.
"You were to come here for orders and you haven't done it.
You're running this place for me, not for yourself."
Mr. Pierce looked at Mr. Dick and from there to Mr. Sam and
"I did come," he explained. "I came twice, and each time we
played roulette. I lost all the money I'd had in advance.
Honestly," he confessed, "I felt I couldn't afford to come every
Miss Patty got up and put the baby rabbits into her sister's big
"We are all talking around the question," she said. "Mr. Pierce
undertook to manage the sanatorium, and to try to manage it
successfully. He can not do that without making some attempt at
conciliating the people. It's--it's absurd to antagonize them."
"Exactly," he said coldly. "I was to manage it, and to try to do
it successfully. I'm sorry my methods don't meet with the
approval of this--er--executive committee. But it might as
well be clear that I intend to use my own methods--or none."
Well, what could we do? Miss Patty went out with her head up,
and the rest of us stayed and ate humble pie, and after a while
he agreed to stay if he wasn't interfered with. He said he and
Doctor Barnes had a plan that he thought was a winner--that it
would either make or break the place, and he thought it would
make it. And by that time we were so meek that we didn't even
ask what it was.
Doctor Barnes and Miss Summers were the first to come to the
mineral spring that morning. She stopped just inside the door
"Something's dead under the floor," she said.
"If there's anything dead," Doctor Barnes replied, "it's in the
center of the earth. That's the sulphur water."
She came in at that, but unwillingly, and sat down with her
handkerchief to her nose. Then she saw me
"Good gracious!" she exclaimed. "What have you done that they
put you here?"
"If you mean the bouquet from the spring, you get to like it
after a while," I said grimly. "Ordinary air hasn't got any snap
for me now."
"Humph!" She looked at me suspiciously, but I was busy wiping
off the tables. "Well," she said, holding up the glass Doctor
Barnes had brought her, "it doesn't cost me anything, so here
goes. But think of paying money for it!"
She drank it down in a gulp and settled herself in her chair.
"What'll it do to me?" she asked. "Mixed drinks always play the
deuce with me, Barnes, and you know it."
"If you'll cut down your diet and take some exercise it will make
you thin," I began. "`The process is painless and certain:
kindly nature in her benevolent plan--'"
"Give me another!" she interrupted, and Doctor Barnes filled her
glass again. "Some women spell fate f-a-t-e," she said, looking
at the water, "but I spell it without the e."
She took half of it and then put down the glass. "Honestly," she
declared, "I'd rather be fat."
Mr. Pierce met them there a few minutes later and they had a
three-cornered chat. But Miss Summers evidently didn't know
just how much I knew and was careful of what she said. Once,
however, when I was in the pantry she thought I was beyond ear-
"Good heavens, Pierce," she said, "if they could put THAT in a
"Cut it out, Julia," Doctor Barnes snapped, and it wasn't until
they had gone that I knew she'd meant me. I looked through the
crack of the door and she was leaning over taking a puff at
Doctor Barnes' cigarette.
"Curious old world, isn't it?" she said between puffs. "Here we
are the three of us--snug and nice, having seven kinds of hell-
fire water and not having to pay for it; three meals a day and
afternoon tea ditto, good beds and steam-heat ditto--and four
days ago where were we? Pierce, you were hocking your clothes!
"Washing dishes!" he said. "I never knew before how extravagant
it is to have a saucer under a cup!"
"And I!" she went on, "I, Julia Summers, was staring at a ceiling
in the Finleyville hotel, with a face that looked like a toy
"And now," said Doctor Barnes, "you are more beautiful than ever.
I am a successful physician--oh, lord, Julia, if you'd hear me
faking lines in my part! And my young friend here--Pierce--
Julia, Pierce has now become a young reprobate named Dicky
Carter, and may the Lord have mercy on his soul!"
I tried to get out in time, but I was too late. I saw her rise,
saw the glass of water at her elbow roll over and smash on the
floor, and saw her clutch wildly at Mr. Pierce's shoulder.
"Not--not DICKY Carter!" she cried.
"Richard--they call him Dick," Mr. Pierce said uneasily, and
loosened her fingers from his coat.
Oh, well, everybody knows it now--how she called Mr. Dick
everything in the calendar, and then began to cry and said nobody
would ever know what she'd been through with, and the very dress
she had on was a part of the trousseau she'd had made, and what
with the dressmaker's bills-- Suddenly she stopped crying.
"Where is he, anyhow?" she demanded.
"All we are sure of," Mr. Pierce replied quietly, "is that he is
not in the sanatorium."
She looked at us all closely, but she got nothing from my face.
"Oh, very well," she said, shrugging her shoulders, "I'll wait
until he shows up. It doesn't cost anything."
Then, with one of her easy changes, she laughed and picked up her
muff to go.
"Minnie and I," she said, "will tend bar here, and in our leisure
moments we will pour sulphur water on a bunch of Dicky's letters
that I have, to cool 'em." She walked to the door and turned
"Carry fire insurance on 'em all the time," she finished and went
out, leaving us staring at one another!
MISS COBB'S BURGLAR
I went to bed early that night. What with worrying and being
alternately chilled by tramping through the snow and roasted as
if I was sitting on a volcano with an eruption due, I was about
all in. We'd been obliged to tell Mrs. Sam about the Summers
woman, and I had to put hot flannels on her from nine to ten.
She was quieter when I left her, but, as I told Mr. Sam, it was
the stillness of despair, not resignation.
I guess it was about four o'clock in the morning when a hand slid
over my face, and I sat up and yelled. The hand covered my mouth
at that, and something long and white and very thin beside the
bed said: "Sh! For heaven's sake, Minnie!"
It was Miss Cobb! It was lucky I came to my senses when I did,
for her knees gave way under her just then and she doubled
up on the floor beside the bed with her face in my comfort.
I lighted a candle and set it on a chair beside the bed and took
a good look at her. She was shaking all over, which wasn't
strange, for I sleep with my window open, and she had a key in
"Here," she gasped, holding out the key, "here, Minnie, wake the
house and get him, but, oh, Minnie, for heaven's sake, save my
"Get who?" I demanded, for I saw it was her room key.
"I have been coming here for ten years," she groaned, out of the
comfort, "and now, to be bandied about by the cold breath of
I shook her by the shoulder
"The cold breath you are raving about is four degrees below zero.
If you can't tell me what's the matter I'm going back to bed and
cover my feet."
She got up at that and stood swaying, with her nightgown flapping
around her like a tent.
"I have locked a man in my room !" she declared in a terrible
voice, and collapsed into the middle of the bed.
Well, I leaned over and tried to tell her she'd made a
mistake. The more I looked at her, with her hair standing
straight out over her head, and her cambric nightgown with a high
collar and long sleeves, and the hump on her nose where her
brother Willie had hit her in childhood with a baseball bat, the
surer I was that somebody had made a mistake--likely the man.
Now there's two ways to handle a situation like that: one of them
is to rouse the house--and many a good sanatorium has been hurt
by a scandal and killed by a divorce; the other way is to take
one strong man who can hold his tongue, find the guilty person,
and send him a fake telegram the next morning that his mother is
sick. I've done that more than once.
I sat down on the side of the bed and put on my slippers.
"What did he look like?" I asked. "Could you see him?"
She uncovered one eye.
"Not--not distinctly," she said. "I--think he was large, and--
and rather handsome. That beast of a dog must have got in my
room and was asleep under the bed, for it wakened me by
There was nothing in that to make me nervous, but it did. As I
put on my kimono I was thinking pretty hard.
I could not waken Mr. Pierce by knocking, so I went in and shook
him. He was sound asleep, with his arms over his head, and when
I caught his shoulder he just took my hand and, turning over,
tucked it under his cheek and went asleep again.
"Mr. Pierce! Mr. Pierce !" He wakened a little at that, but not
enough to open his eyes. He seemed to know that the hand wasn't
his, however, for he kissed it. And with that I slapped him and
he wakened. He lay there blinking at my candle and then he
"Musht have been ashleep!" he said, and turned over on his other
side and shut his eyes.
It was two or three minutes at least before I had him sitting on
the side of the bed, with a blanket spread over his knees, and
was telling him about Miss Cobb.
"Miss Cobb!" he said. "Oh, heavens, Minnie, tell her to go back
to bed!" He yawned. "If there's anybody there it's a miskake.
I'm sleepy. What time is it?"
"I'm not going out of this room until you get up!" I declared
"Oh, very well!" he said, and put his feet back into bed. "If
you think I'm going to get up while you're here--"
After he seemed pretty well wakened I went out. I waited in the
sitting-room and I heard him growling as he put on his clothes.
When he came out, however, he was more cheerful, and he stopped
in the hall to fish a case out of Mr. Sam's dressing-gown pocket
and light a cigarette.
"Now!" he said, taking my arm. "Forward, the light-ly clad
brigade! But--" he stopped--"Minnie, we are unarmed! Shall I
get the patent folding corkscrew?"
He had to be quiet when we got to the bedroom floors, however,
and when we stopped outside Miss Cobb's door he was as sober as
any one could wish him.
"You needn't come in," he whispered. "Ten to one she dreamed it,
but if she didn't you're better outside. And whatever you hear,
I gave him the key and he fitted it quietly in the lock.
Arabella, just inside, must have heard, for she snarled.
But the snarl turned into a yelp, as if she'd been suddenly
Mr. Pierce, with his hand on the knob, turned and looked at me in
the candle-light. Then he opened the door.
Arabella gave another yelp and rushed out; she went between my
feet like a shot and almost overthrew me, and when I'd got my
balance again I looked into the room. Mr. Pierce was at the
window, staring out, and the room was empty.
"The idiot!" Mr. Pierce said. "If it hadn't been for that snow-
bank! Here, give me that candle!"
He stood there waving it in circles, but there was neither sight
nor sound from below. After a minute Mr. Pierce put the window
down and we stared at the room. All the bureau drawers were out
on the floor, and the lid of poor Miss Cobb's trunk was open and
the tray upset. But her silver-backed brush was still on the
bureau and the ring the insurance agent had given her lay beside
We brought her back to her room, and she didn't know whether to
be happy that she was vindicated or mad at the state her things
were in. I tucked her up in bed after she'd gone over her
belongings and Mr. Pierce had double-locked the window and
gone out. She drew my head down to her and her eyes were fairly
popping out of her head.
"I feel as though I'm going crazy, Minnie!" she whispered, "but
the only things that are gone are my letters from Mr. Jones,
and--my black woolen tights!"
NO MARRIAGE IN HEAVEN
I slept late the next morning, and when I'd had breakfast and
waded to the spring-house it was nearly nine. It was still
snowing, and no papers or mail had got through, although the
wires were still in fair working order.
As I floundered out I thought I saw somebody slink around the
corner of the spring-house, but when I got there nobody was in
sight. I was on my knees in front of the fireplace, raking out
the fire, when I heard the door close behind me, and when I
turned, there stood Mr. Dick, muffled to the neck, with his hat
almost over his face.
"What the deuce kept you so late this morning?" he demanded, in a
sulky voice, and limping over to a table he drew a package out of
his pocket and slammed it on the table.
"I was up half the night, as usual," I said, rising. "You
oughtn't to be here, Mr. Dick!"
He caught hold of the rail around the spring, and hobbling about,
dropped into a chair with a groan.
"For two cents," he declared, "I'd chop a hole in the ice pond
and drown myself. There's no marriage in Heaven."
"That's no argument for the other place," I answered, and
stopped, staring. He was pulling something out of his overcoat
pocket, an inch at a time.
"For God's sake, Minnie," he exclaimed, "return this--this
garment to--whomever it belongs to!"
He handed it to me, and it was Miss Cobb's black tights! I stood
"And then," he went on, reaching for the package on the table,
"when you've done that, return to `Binkie' these letters from her
He took the newspaper off the bundle then, and I saw it was
wrapped with a lavender ribbon. I sat down and gazed at him,
fascinated. He was the saddest-eyed piece of remorse I'd seen
for a long time.
"And when you've got your breath back, Minnie," he said feebly,
"and your strength, would you mind taking the floor mop and
hitting me a few cracks? Only not on the right leg, Minnie--not
on the right leg. I landed on it last night; it's twisted
like a pretzel."
"Don't stand and stare," he continued irritably, when I didn't
make a move, "at least get that--that infernal black garment out
of sight. Cover it with the newspaper. And if you don't believe
that a sweet-faced young girl like my wife has a positive talent
for wickedness and suspicion, go out to the shelter-house this
"So it was you!" I gasped, putting the newspaper over the tights.
"Why in the name of peace did you jump out the window, and what
did you want with--with these things?"
He twisted around in his chair to stare at me, and then stooped
and clutched frantically at his leg, as if for inspiration.
"Want with those things!" he snarled. "I suppose you can't
understand that a man might wake up in the middle of the night
with a mad craving for a pair of black woolen tights, and--"
"You needn't be sarcastic with me," I broke in. "You can save
that for your wife. I suppose you also had a wild longing for
the love-letters of an insurance agent--"
And then it dawned on me, and I sat down and laughed until I
"And you thought you were stealing your own letters!" I cried.
"The ones she carries fire insurance on! Oh, Mr. Dick, Mr.
"How was I to know it wasn't Ju--Miss Summers' room?" he demanded
angrily. "Didn't I follow the dratted dog? And wouldn't you
have thought the wretched beast would have known me instead of
sitting on its tail under the bed and yelling for mother? I gave
her the dog myself. Oh, I tell you, Minnie, if I ever get away
from this place--"
"You've got to get away this minute," I broke in, remembering.
"They'll be coming any instant now."
He got up and looked around him helplessly.
"Where'll I go?" he asked. "I can't go back to the shelter-
I looked at him and he tried to grin.
"Fact," he said, "hard to believe, but--fact, Minnie. She's got
the door locked. Didn't I tell you she is of a suspicious
nature? She was asleep when I left, and mostly she sleeps all
night. And just because she wakes when I'm out, and lets me come
in thinking she's asleep, when she has one eye open all the
time, and she sees what I'd never even seen myself--that the
string of that damned garment, whatever it is, is fastened to the
hook of my shoe, me thinking all the time that the weight was
because I'd broken my leg jumping--doesn't she suddenly sit up
and ask me where I've been? And I--I'm unsuspicious, Minnie, by
nature, and I said I'd been asleep. Then she jumped up and
showed me that--that thing--those things, hanging to my shoe, and
she hasn't spoken to me since. I wish I was dead."
And just then a dog barked outside and somebody on the step
stamped the snow off his feet. We were both paralyzed for a
"Julia!" Mr. Dick cried, and went white.
I made a leap for the door, just as the handle turned, and put my
back against it.
"Just a minute," I called. "The carpet is caught under it!"
Mr. Dick had lost his head and was making for the spring, as if
he thought hiding his feet would conceal him. I made frantic
gestures to him to go into my pantry, and he went at last,
leaving his hat on the table, I left the door and flung it after
him--the hat, of course, not the door--and when Miss Summers
sauntered in just after, I was on my knees brushing the hearth,
with my heart going three-four time and skipping every sixth
"Hello!" she said. "Lovely weather--for polar bears. If the
natives wade through this all winter it's no wonder they walk as
if they are ham-strung. Don't bother getting me a glass. I'll
get my own."
She was making for the pantry when I caught her, and I guess I
looked pretty wild.
"I'll get it," I said. "I--that's one of the rules."
She put her hands in the pockets of her white sweater and smiled
"Do you know," she declared, "the old ladies' knitting society
isn't so far wrong about you! About your making rules--
whatever you want, WHENEVER you want 'em."
She put her head on one side.
"Now," she went on, "suppose I break that rule and get my own
glass? What happens to me? I don't think I'll be put out!"
I threw up my hands in despair, for I was about at the end of my
"Get it then!" I exclaimed, and sat down, waiting for the
volcano to erupt. But she only laughed and sat down on a table,
swinging her feet.
"When you know me better, Minnie," she said, "you'll know I don't
spoil sport. I happen to know you have somebody in the pantry--
moreover, I know it's a man. There are tracks on the little
porch, my dear girl, not made by your galoshes. Also, my dearest
girl, there's a gentleman's glove by your chair there!" I put my
foot on it. "And just to show you what a good fellow I am--"
She got off the table, still smiling, and sauntered to the pantry
door, watching me over her shoulder.
"Don't be alarmed!" she called through the door, "I'm not coming
in! I shall take my little drink of nature's benevolent remedy
out of the tin ladle, and then--I shall take my departure!"
My heart was skipping every second beat by that time, and Miss
Julia stood by the pantry door, her head back and her eyes almost
closed, enjoying every minute of it. If Arabella hadn't made a
diversion just then I think I'd have fainted.
She'd pulled the newspaper and the tights off the table and was
running around the room with them, one leg in her mouth.
"Stop it, Arabella!" said Miss Julia, and took the tights from
her. "Yours?" she asked, with her eyebrows raised.
"No--yes," I answered.
"I'd never have suspected you of them!" she remarked. "Hardly
sheer enough to pull through a finger ring, are they?" She held
them up and gazed at them meditatively. "That's one thing I draw
the line at. On the boards, you know--never have worn 'em and
never will. They're not modest, to my mind,--and, anyhow, I'm
Mr. Sam and his wife came in at that moment, Mr. Sam carrying a
bottle of wine for the shelter-house, wrapped in a paper, and two
cans of something or other. He was too busy trying to make the
bottle look like something else--which a good many people have
tried and failed at--to notice what Miss Summers was doing, and
she had Miss Cobb's protectors stuffed in her muff and was
standing very dignified in front of the fire by the time they'd
shaken off the snow.
"Good morning!" she said.
"Morning!" said Mr. Sam, hanging up his overcoat with one hand,
and trying to put the bottle in one of the pockets with the
other. Mrs. Sam didn't look at her.
"Good morning, Mrs. Van Alstyne!" Miss Summers almost threw it
at her. "I spoke to you before; I guess you didn't hear me."
"Oh, yes, I heard you," answered Mrs. Sam, and turned her back on
her. Give me a little light-haired woman for sheer devilishness!
I'd expected to see Miss Summers fly to pieces with rage, but she
stared at Mrs. Sam's back, and after a minute she laughed.
"I see!" she remarked slowly. "You're the sister, aren't you?"
Mr. Sam had given up trying to hide the bottle and now he set it
on the floor with a thump and came over to the fire.
"It's--you see, the situation is embarrassing," he began. "If we
had had any idea--"
"I might have been still in the Finleyville hotel!" she finished
for him. "Awful thought, isn't it?"
"Under the circumstances," went on Mr. Sam, nervously, "don't you
think it would be--er--better form if er--under the
"I'm thinking of my circumstances," she put in, good-
naturedly. "If you imagine that six weeks of one-night stands
has left me anything but a rural wardrobe and a box of dog
biscuit for Arabella, you're pretty well mistaken. I haven't
even a decent costume. All we had left after the sheriff got
through was some grass mats, a checked sunbonnet and a pump."
"Minnie," Mrs. Sam said coldly, "that little beast of a dog is
trying to drink out of the spring!"
I caught her in time and gave her a good slapping. When I looked
up Miss Summers was glaring down at me over the rail.
"Just what do you mean by hitting my dog?" she demanded. It was
the first time I'd seen her angry.
"Just what I appeared to mean," I answered. "If you want to take
it as a love pat, you may." And I stalked to the door and threw
the creature out into the snow. It was the first false step that
day; if I'd known what putting that dog out meant--! "I don't
allow dogs here," I said, and shut the door.
Miss Summers was furious; she turned and stared at Mrs. Sam, who
was smiling at the fire.
"Let Arabella in," she said to me in an undertone, "or I'll open
the pantry door!"
"Open the door!" I retorted. I was half hysterical, but it was
no time to weaken. She looked me straight in the eye for fully
ten seconds; then, to my surprise, she winked at me. But when
she turned on Mr. Sam she was cold rage again and nothing else.
"I am not going to leave, if that is what you are about to
suggest," she said. "I've been trying to see Dicky Carter the
last ten days, and I'll stay here until I see him."
"It's a delicate situation--"
"Delicate!" she snapped. "It's indelicate it's indecent, that's
what it is. Didn't I get my clothes, and weren't we to have been
married by the Reverend Dwight Johnstone, out in Salem, Ohio?
And didn't he go out there and have old Johnstone marry him to
somebody else? The wretch! If I ever see him--"
A glass dropped in the pantry and smashed, but nobody paid any
"Oh, I'm not going until he comes!" she continued. "I'll stay
right here, and I'll have what's coming to me or I'll know the
reason why. Don't forget for a minute that I know why Mr. Pierce
is here, and that I can spoil the little game by calling the
extra ace, if I want to."
"You're forgetting one thing," Mrs. Sam said, facing her for the
first time, "if you call the game, my brother is worth exactly
what clothes he happens to be wearing at the moment and nothing
else. He hasn't a penny of his own."
"I don't believe it," she sniffed. "Look at the things he gave
"Yes. I've already had the bills," said Mr. Sam.
She whirled and looked at him, and then she threw back her head
"You!" she said. "Why, bless my soul! All the expense of a
double life and none of its advantages!"
She went out on that, still laughing, leaving Mrs. Sam scarlet
with rage, and when she was safely gone I brought Mr. Dick out to
the fire. He was so limp he could hardly walk, and it took three
glasses of the wine and all Mr. Sam could do to start him back to
the shelter-house. His sister would not speak to him.
Mike went to Mr. Pierce that day and asked for a raise of salary.
He did not get it. Perhaps, as things have turned out, it
was for the best, but it is strange to think how different things
would have been if he'd been given it. He was sent up later, of
course, for six months for malicious mischief, but by that time
the damage was done.
EVERY DOG HAS HIS DAY
That was on a Saturday morning. During the golf season Saturday
is always a busy day with us, with the husbands coming up for
over Sunday, and trying to get in all the golf, baths and spring
water they can in forty-eight hours. But in the winter Saturday
is the same as any, other day.
It had stopped snowing and the sun was shining, although it was
so cold that the snow blew like powder. By eleven o'clock every
one who could walk had come to the spring-house. Even Mr.
Jennings came down in a wheeled chair, and Senator Biggs, still
looking a sort of grass-green and keeping his eyes off me, came
and sat in a corner, with a book called Fast versus Feast held
so that every one could see.
There were bridge tables going, and five hundred, and a group
around the slot-machine, while the crocheters formed a
crowd by themselves, exchanging gossip and new stitches.
About twelve o'clock Mr. Thoburn came in, and as he opened the
door, in leaped Arabella. The women made a fuss over the
creature and cuddled her, and when I tried to put her out
everybody objected. So she stayed, and Miss Summers put her
through a lot of tricks, while the men crowded around. As I said
before, Miss Summers was a first favorite with the men.
Mr. von Inwald and Miss Patty came in just then and stood
"And now," said Mr. von Inwald, "I propose, as a reward to Miss
Arabella, a glass of this wonderful water. Minnie, a glass of
water for Arabella!"
"She doesn't drink out of one of my glasses," I declared angrily.
"It's one of my rules that dogs--"
"Tut!" said Mr. Thoburn. "What's good for man is good for beast.
Besides, the little beggar's thirsty."
Well, they made a great fuss about the creature's being thirsty,
and so finally I got a panful of spring water and it drank until
I thought it would burst. I'm not vicious, as I say, but I wish
Well, the dog finished and lay down by the fire, and everything
seemed to go on as before. Mr. Thoburn was in a good humor, and
he came over to the spring and brought a trayful of glasses.
"To save you steps, Minnie!" he explained. "You have no idea how
it pains me to see you working. Gentlemen, name your poison!"
"A frappe with blotting-paper on the side," Mr. Moody snarled
from the slot-machine. "If I drink much more, I'll have to be
hooped up like a barrel."
"Just what is the record here?" the bishop asked. "I'm ordered
eight glasses, but I find it more than a sufficiency."
"We had one man here once who could drink twenty-five at a time,"
I said, "but he was a German."
"He was a tank," Mr. Sam corrected grumpily. He was watching
something on the floor--I couldn't see what. "All I need is to
swallow a few goldfish and I'd be a first-class aquarium."
"What I think we should do," Miss Cobb said, "is to try to find
out just what suits us, and stick to that. I'm always trying."
"Damned trying!" Mr. Jennings snarled, and limped over for
more water. "I'd like to know where to go for rheumatism."
"I got mine here," said Mr. Thoburn cheerfully. "It's my opinion
this place is rheumatic as well as malarious. And as for this
water, with all due respect to the spirit in the spring"--he
bowed to me--"I think it's an insult to ask people to drink it.
It isn't half so strong as it was two years ago. Taste it; smell
it! I ask the old friends of the sanatorium, is that water what
it used to be?"
"Don't tell me it was ever any worse than this!" Miss Summers
exclaimed. But Thoburn went on. The card-players stopped to
listen, but Mr. Sam was still staring at something on the floor.
"I tell you, the spring is losing its virtue, and, like a woman,
without virtue, it is worthless."
"But interesting!" Mr. Sam said, and stooped down.
"Consider," went on Mr. Thoburn, standing and holding his glass
to the light, "how we are at the mercy of this little spring! A
convulsion in the bowels of the earth, and its health-giving
properties may be changed to the direst poison. How do we know,
you and I, some such change has not occurred overnight?
Unlikely as it is, it's a possibility that, sitting here calmly,
we may be sipping our death potion."
Some of the people actually put down their glasses and everybody
began to look uneasy except Mr. Sam, who was still watching
something I could not see.
Mr. Thoburn looked around and saw he'd made an impression. "We
may," he continued, "although my personal opinion of this water
is that it's growing too weak to be wicked. I prove my faith in
Mother Nature; if it is poisoned, I am gone. I drink!"
Mr. Sam suddenly straightened up and glanced at Miss Summers.
"Perhaps I'm mistaken," he said, "but I think there is something
the matter with Arabella."
Everybody looked: Arabella was lying on her back, jerking and
twitching and foaming at the mouth.
"She's been poisoned!" Miss Summers screeched, and fell on her
knees beside her. "It's that wretched water!"
There was pretty nearly a riot in a minute. Everybody
jumped up and stared at the dog, and everybody remembered the
water he or she had just had, and coming on top of Mr. Thoburn's
speech, it made them babbling lunatics. As I look back, I have a
sort of picture of Miss Summers on the floor with Arabella in her
lap, and the rest telling how much of the water they had had and
crowding around Mr. Thoburn.
"It seems hardly likely it was the water," he said, "although
from what I recall of my chemistry it is distinctly possible.
Springs have been known to change their character, and the
coincidence--the dog and the water--is certainly startling.
Still, as nobody feels ill--"
But they weren't sure they didn't. The bishop said he felt
perfectly well, but he had a strange inclination to yawn all the
time, and Mrs. Biggs' left arm had gone to sleep. And then, with
the excitement and all, Miss Cobb took a violent pain in the back
of her neck and didn't know whether to cry or to laugh.
Well, I did what I could. The worst of it was, I wasn't sure it
wasn't the water. I thought possibly Mr. Pierce had made a
mistake in what he had bought at the drug store, and
although I don't as a rule drink it myself, I began to feel queer
in the pit of my stomach.
Mr. Thoburn came over to the spring, and filling a glass, took it
to the light, with every one watching anxiously. When he brought
it back he stooped over the railing and whispered to me.
"When did you fix it?" he asked sternly.
"Last night," I answered. It was no time to beat about the bush.
"It's yellower than usual," he said. "I'm inclined to think
something has gone wrong at the drug store, Minnie."
I could hardly breathe. I had the most terrible vision of all
the guests lying around like Arabella, twitching and foaming, and
me going to prison as a wholesale murderess. Any hair but mine
would have turned gray in that minute.
Mr. von Inwald was watching like the others, and now he came over
and caught Mr. Thoburn by the arm.
"What do you think--" he asked nervously. "I--I have had three
glasses of it!"
"Three!" shouted Senator Biggs, coming forward. "I've had
eleven! I tell you, I've been feeling queer for twenty-four
hours! I'm poisoned! That's what I am."
He staggered out, with Mrs. Biggs just behind him, and from that
moment they were all demoralized. I stood by the spring and
sipped at the water to show I wasn't afraid of it, with my knees
shaking under me and Arabella lying stock-still, as if she had
died, under my very nose. One by one they left to look for
Doctor Barnes, or to get the white of egg, which somebody had
suggested as an antidote.
Miss Cobb was one of the last to go. She turned in the doorway
and looked back at me, with tears in her eyes.
"It isn't your fault, Minnie," she said, "and forgive me if I
have ever said anything unkind to you." Then she went, and I was
alone, looking down at Arabella.
Or rather, I thought I was alone, for there was a movement by one
of the windows and Miss Patty came forward and knelt by the dog.
"Of all the absurdities!" she said. "Poor little thing! Minnie,
I believe she's breathing!"
She put the dog's head in her lap, and the little beast opened
its eyes and tried to wag its blue tail.
"Oh, Miss Patty, Miss Patty!" I exclaimed, and I got down beside
her and cried on her shoulder, with her stroking my hand and
calling me dearest! Me!
I was wiping my eyes when the door was thrown open and Mr. Pierce
ran in. He had no hat on and his hair was powdered with snow.
He stopped just inside the door and looked at Miss Patty.
"You--" he said "you are all right? You are not--" he came
forward and stood over her, with his heart in his eyes. She
MUST have known from that minute.
"My God!" he exclaimed, "I thought you were poisoned!"
She looked up, without smiling, and then I thought she half shut
her eyes, as if what she saw in his face hurt her.
"I am all right," she assured him, "and little Arabella will be
all right, too. She's had a convulsion, that's all--probably
from overeating. As for the others--!"
"Where is the--where is von Inwald?"
"He has gone to take the white of an egg," she replied rather
haughtily. She was too honest to evade anything, but she
flushed. Of course, I knew what he didn't--that the prince had
been among the first to scurry to the house, and that he hadn't
even waited for her.
He walked to the window, as if he didn't want her to see what he
thought of that, and I saw him looking hard at something outside
in the snow. When he walked back to the fire he was smiling, and
he stooped over and poked Arabella with his finger.
"So that was it!" he said. "Full to the scuppers, poor little
wretch! Minnie, I am hoist with my own petard, which in this
case was a boomerang."
"Which is in English--" I asked.
"With the instinct of her sex, Arabella has unearthed what was
meant to be buried forever. She had gorged herself into a
convulsion on that rabbit I shot last night!"
They went to the house together, he carrying Arabella like a sick
baby and Miss Patty beside him. As far as I could see they
didn't speak a word to each other, but once or twice I saw her
turn and look up at him as if she was puzzled.
I closed the door and stood just inside, looking at father's
picture over the mantel. As sure as I stood there, the eyes were
fixed on the spring, and I sensed, as you may say, what they
meant. I went over and looked down into the spring, and it
seemed to me it was darker than usual. It may have smelled
stronger, but the edge had been taken off my nose, so to speak,
by being there so long.
From the spring I looked again at father, and his eyes were on me
mournful and sad. I felt as though, if he'd been there, father
would have turned the whole affair to the advantage of the
house, and it was almost more than I could bear. I was only
glad the old doctor's enlargement had not come yet. I couldn't
have endured having it see what had occurred.
The only thing I could think of was to empty the spring and let
the water come in plain. I could put a little sulphur in to give
it color and flavor, and if it turned out that Mr. Pierce was
right and that Arabella was only a glutton, I could put in the
other things later.
I was carrying out my first pailful when Doctor Barnes came down
the path and took the pail out of my hand.
"What are you doing?" he asked. "Making a slide?"
"No," I said bitterly, "I am watering the flowers."
"Good!" He was not a bit put out. "Let me help you." He took
the pail across the path and poured a little into the snow at the
base of a half-dozen fence posts. "There!" he said, coming back
triumphant. "The roses are done. Now let's have a go at the
pansies and the lady's-slippers and the--the begonias. I say"--
he stopped suddenly on his way in--"sulphur water on a
begonia--what would it make? Skunk cabbage?"
Inside, however, he put down the pail, and pulling me in, closed
"Now forget it!" he commanded. "Just because a lot of damn fools
see a dog in a fit and have one, too, is that any reason for your
being scared wall-eyed and knock-kneed?"
"I'm not!" I snapped.
"Well, you're wall-eyed with fright," he insisted. "Of course,
you're the best judge of your own knees, but after last night--
Had any lunch?"
I shook my head.
"Exactly," he said. "You make me think of the little boy who dug
post-holes in the daytime and took in washings at night to
support the family. Sit down."
"Inhale and exhale slowly four times, and then swallow the lump
in your throat. . . . Gone?"
"Good." He was fumbling in his pocket and he brought out a
napkin. When he opened it there was a sandwich, a piece of
cheese and a banana.
"What do you think of that?" he asked, watching me anxiously.
"Looks pretty good?"
"Fine," I said, hating to disappoint him, although I never eat
sardines, and bananas give me indigestion, "I'm hungry enough to
eat a raw Italian."
"Then fall to," he directed, and with a flourish he drew a bottle
of ginger ale from his pocket.
"How's this?" he demanded, holding it up. "Cheers but doesn't
inebriate; not a headache in a barrel; ginger ale to the gingery!
`A quart of ale is a dish for a king,'" he said, holding up a
glass. "That's Shakespeare, Miss Minnie."
I was a good bit more cheerful when I'd choked down the sandwich,
especially when he assured me the water was all right--"a little
high, as you might say, but not poisonous. Lord, I wish you
could have seen them staggering into my office!"
"I saw enough," I said with a shiver.
"That German, von Inwald," he went on, "he's the limit. He
accused us of poisoning him for reasons of state!"
"Where are they now?"
"My dear girl," he answered, putting down his glass, "what
has been pounded into me ever since I struck the place? The
baths! I prescribe 'em all day and dream 'em all night. Where
are the poisonees now? They are steaming, stewing, exuding in
the hot rooms of the bath department--all of them, every one of
them! In the hold and the hatches down!"
He picked up the pail and went down the steps to the spring.
"After all," he said, "it won't hurt to take out a little of this
and pour it on the ground. It ought to be good fertilizer." He
stooped. "`Come, gentle spring, ethereal mildness, come,'" he
quoted, and dipped in the pail.
Just then somebody fell against the door and stumbled into the
room. It was Tillie, as white as milk, and breathing in gasps.
"Quick!" she screeched, "Minnie, quick!"
"What is it?" I asked, jumping up. She'd fallen back against the
door-frame and stood with her hand clutching her heart.
"That dev--devil--Mike!" she panted. "He has turned on the steam
in the men's baths and gone--gone away!"
"With people in the bath?" Doctor Barnes asked, slamming down the
"Then why in creation don't they get out of the baths until we
can shut off the steam?" I demanded, grabbing up my shawl. But
Tillie shook her head in despair.
"They can't," she answered, "he's hid their clothes!"
The next thing I recall is running like mad up the walk with
Doctor Barnes beside me, steadying me by the arm. I only spoke
once that I remember and that was just as we got to the house,
"This settles it!" I panted, desperately. "It's all over."
"Not a bit of it!" he said, shoving me up the steps and into the
hall. "The old teakettle is just getting `het up' a bit. By the
gods and little fishes, just listen to it singing down there!"
The help was gathered in a crowd at the head of the bath-house
staircase, where a cloud of steam was coming up, and down below
we could hear furious talking, and somebody shouting, "Mike!
Mike!" in a voice that was choked with rage and steam.
Doctor Barnes elbowed his way through the crowd to the top of the
stairs and I followed.
"There's Minnie!" Amanda King yelled. "She knows all about the
place. Minnie, you can shut it off, can't you?"
"I'll try," I said, and was starting down, when Doctor Barnes
jerked me back.
"You stay here," he said. "Where's Mr. Pier--where's Carter?"
"Down with the engineer," somebody replied out of the steam
"Hello there!" he called down the staircase. "How's the air?"
"Clothes! Send us some clothes!"
It was Mr. Sam calling. The rest was swallowed up in a fresh
roaring, as if a steam-pipe had given away. That settled the
people below. With a burst of fury they swarmed up the stairs in
their bath sheets, the bishop leading, and just behind him,
talking as no gentleman should talk under any circumstances,
Senator Biggs. The rest followed, their red faces shining
through the steam--all of them murderous, holding their sheets
around them with one hand, and waving the other in a frenzy. It
The help scattered and ran, but I stood my ground. The sight of
a man in a sheet didn't scare me and it was no time for weakness.
The steam was thicker than ever, and the hall was misty. A
moment later the engineer came up and after him Mr. Pierce, with
a towel over his mouth and a screw-driver in his hand. He was
white with rage. He brushed past the sheets without paying the
slightest attention to them, and tore the towel off his mouth.
"Who saw Mike last?" he shouted across to where the pharmacy
clerk, the elevator boy and some of the bell-boys had retreated
to the office and were peeping out through the door.
Here Mr. Moody, who's small at any time, and who without the
padding on his shoulders and wrapped in a sheet with his red face
above, looked like a lighted cigarette, darted out of the crowd
and caught him by the sleeve.
"Here!" he cried, "we've got a few things to say to you, you
"Take your hand off my arm!" thundered Mr. Pierce.
The storm broke with that. They crowded around Mr. Pierce,
yelling like maniacs, and he stood there, white-faced, and let
them wear themselves out. The courage of a man in a den of lions
was nothing to it. Doctor Barnes forced his way through the
crowd and stood there beside him.
It wasn't only the steam and their clothes being hidden; it had
started with the scare at the spring in the morning, and when
they had told him what they thought about that, they went back
still further and bellowed about the mismanagement of the place
ever since he had taken charge, and the food, and the steam-heat,
and the new rules--oh, they hated him all right, and they told
him so, purple-faced with rage and heat, dancing around him and
shaking one fist in his face, as I say, while they held their
sheets fast with the other.
And I stood there and watched, my mind awhirl, expecting every
minute to hear that they were all leaving, or to have some one
forget and shake both fists at once.
And that's how it ended finally--I mean, of course, that
they said they would all leave immediately, and that he ought to
be glad to have them go quietly, and not have him jailed for
malicious mischief or compounding a felony. The whole thing was
an outrage, and the three train would leave the house as empty as
a squeezed lemon.
I wanted to go forward and drop on my knees and implore them to
remember the old doctor, and the baths they'd had when nothing
went wrong, and the days when they'd sworn that the spring kept
them young and well, but there was something in Mr. Pierce's face
that kept me back.
"At three o'clock, then," he said. "Very well."
"Don't be a fool!" I heard Mr. Sam from the crowd.
"Is that all you have to say?" roared Mr. von Inwald. I hadn't
noticed him before. He had his sheet on in Grecian style and it
looked quite ornamental although a little short. "Haven't you
any apology to make, sir?"
"Neither apology nor explanation to you," Mr. Pierce retorted.
And to the other: "It is an unfortunate accident--incident, if
you prefer." He looked at Thoburn, who was the only one in a
bath robe, and who was the only cheerful one in the lot. "I
had refused a request of the bath man's and he has taken this
form of revenge. If this gives me the responsibility I am
willing to take it. If you expect me to ask you to stay I'll not
do it. I don't mind saying that I am as tired of all this as you
"As tired of what?" demanded Mr. Moody, pushing forward out of
the crowd. Mr. Sam was making frantic gestures to catch Mr.
Pierce's eye, but he would not look at him.
"Of all this," he said. "Of charging people sanatorium prices
under a pretense of making them well. Does anybody here imagine
he's going to find health by sitting around in an overstuffed
leather chair, with the temperature at eighty, eating five meals
a day, and walking as far as the mineral spring for exercise?"
There was a sort of angry snarl in the air, and Mr. Sam threw up
his one free hand in despair.
"In fact," Mr. Pierce went on, "I'd about decided on a new order
of things for this place anyhow. It's going to be a real health
resort, run for people who want to get well or keep well.
People who wish to be overfed, overheated and coddled need not
The bishop spoke over the heads of the others, who looked dazed.
"Does that mean," he inquired mildly, "that--guests must either
obey this new order of things or go away?"
Mr. Pierce looked at the bishop and smiled.
"I'm sorry, sir," he said, "but as every one is leaving, anyhow--
They fairly jumped at him then. They surrounded him in a howling
mob and demanded how he dared to turn them out, and what did he
mean by saying they were overfed, and they would leave when they
were good and ready and not before, and he could go to blazes.
It was the most scandalous thing I've ever known of at Hope
Springs, and in the midst of it Mr. Pierce stood cool and quiet,
waiting for a chance to speak. And when the time came he jumped
in and told them the truth about themselves, and most of it hurt.
He was good and mad, and he stood there and picked out the
flabby ones and the fat ones, the whisky livers and the
tobacco hearts and the banquet stomachs, and called them out by
When he got through they were standing in front of him, ashamed
to look at one another, and not knowing whether to fall on him
and tear him to pieces, or go and weep in a corner because they'd
played such havoc with the bodies the Lord gave them. If he'd
weakened for a minute they'd have jumped on him. But he didn't.
He got through and stood looking at them in their sheets, and
then he said coolly:
"The bus will be ready at two-thirty, gentlemen," and turning on
his heels, went into the office and closed the door.
They scattered to their rooms in every stage of rage and
excitement, and at last only Mr. Sam and I were left staring at
each other. "Damned young idiot!" he said. "I wish to heavens
you'd never suggested bringing him here, Minnie!"
And leaving me speechless with indignation, he trailed himself
and his sheet up the stairs.
HOME TO ROOST
I couldn't stand any more. It was all over! I rushed to my room
and threw myself on the bed. At two-thirty I heard the bus come
to the porte-cochere under my window and then drive away; that
was the last straw. I put a pillow over my head so nobody could
hear me, and then and there I had hysterics. I knew I was having
them, and I wasn't ashamed. I'd have exploded if I hadn't.
And then somebody jerked the pillow away and I looked up,
with my eyes swollen almost shut, and it was Doctor Barnes. He
had a glass of water in his hand and he held it right above me.
"One more yell," he said, "and it goes over you!"
I lay there staring up at him, and then I knew what a fright I
looked, and although I couldn't speak yet, I reached up and felt
for my hairpins.
"That's better," he said, putting down the glass. "Another ten
minutes of that and you'd have burst a blood vessel. Don't
worry. I know I have no business here, but I anticipated
something of this kind, and it may interest you to know that I've
been outside in the hall since the first whoop. It's been a good
I sat up and stared at him. I could hardly see out of my eyes.
He had his back to the light, but I could tell that he had a
cross of adhesive plaster on his cheek and that one eye was
almost shut. He smiled when he saw my expression.
"It's the temperament," he said. "It goes with the hair. I've
got it too, only I'm apt to go out and pick a fight at such
times, and a woman hasn't got that outlet. As you see, I found
Mike, and my disfigurement is to Mike's as starlight to the
noonday glare. Come and take a walk."
I shook my head, but he took my arm and pulled me off the bed.
"You come for a walk!" he said. "I'll wait in the hall until you
powder your nose. You look like a fire that's been put out by a
I didn't want to go, but anything was better than sitting in
the room moping. I put on my jacket and Miss Patty's
chinchillas, which cheered me a little, but as we went down-
stairs the quiet of the place sat on my chest like a weight.
The lower hall was empty. A new card headed "Rules" hung on the
door into the private office, but I did not read it. What was
the use of rules without people to disobey them? Mrs. Moody had
forgotten her crocheting bag and it hung on the back of a chair.
I had to bite my lip to keep it from trembling again.
"The Jenningses are still here," said the doctor. "The old man
is madder than any hornet ever dared be, and they go in the
morning. But the situation was too much for our German friend.
He left with the others."
Well, we went out and I took the path I knew best, which was out
toward the spring-house. There wasn't a soul in sight. The
place looked lonely, with the trees hung with snow, and arching
over the board walk. At the little bridge over the creek Doctor
Barnes stopped, and leaning over the rail, took a good look at
"When you self-contained women go to pieces," he said, "you
pretty near smash, don't you? You look as if you'd had a death
in your family."
"This WAS my family," I half sniveled.
"But," he said, "you'll be getting married and having a home of
your own and forgetting all about this."
He looked at me with his sharp eyes. "There's probably some nice
chap in the village, eh?"
I shook my head. I had just caught sight of the broken pieces of
the Moody water-pitcher on the ice below
"No nice young man!" he remarked. "Not the telegraph operator,
or the fellow who runs the livery-stable--I've forgotten his
"Look here," I turned on him, "if you're talking all this
nonsense to keep my mind off things, you needn't."
"I'm not," he said. "I'm asking for the sake of my own mind, but
we'll not bother about that now. We'd better start back."
It was still snowing, although not so hard. The air had done me
some good, but the lump in my throat seemed to have gone to my
chest. The doctor helped me along, for the snow was drifting,
and when he saw I was past the crying stage he went back to
what we were both thinking about.
"Old Pierce is right," he said. "Remember, Miss Minnie, I've
nothing against you or your mineral spring; in fact, I'm strong
for you both. But while I'm out of the ring now for good--I
don't mind saying to you what I said to Pierce, that the only
thing that gets into training here, as far as I can see, is a
We went back to the house and I straightened the news stand,
Amanda King having taken a violent toothache as a result of the
excitement. The Jenningses were packing to go, and Miss Summers
had got a bottle of peroxide and shut herself in her room. At
six o'clock Tillie beckoned to me from the door of the officers'
dining-room and said she'd put the basket in the snow by the
grape arbor. I got ready, with a heavy heart, to take it out. I
had forgotten all about their dinner, for one thing, and I had to
carry bad news.
But Mr. Pierce had been there before me. I saw tracks in the
fresh snow, for, praise heaven! it had snowed all that week and
our prints were filled up almost as fast as we made them. When I
got to the shelter-house it was in a wild state of
excitement. Mrs. Dick, with her cheeks flushed, had gathered all
her things on the cot and was rolling them up in sheets and
newspapers. But Mr. Dick was sitting on the box in front of the
fire with his curly hair standing every way. He had been
roasting potatoes, and as I opened the door, he picked one up and
poked at it to see if it was done.
"Damn!" he said, and dropped it.
Mrs. Dick sat on the cot rolling up a pink ribbon and looked at