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Where There's A Will by Mary Roberts Rinehart

Part 4 out of 5

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"If you want to know exactly my reason for insisting on moving
to-night, I'll tell you," she said, paying no attention to me.
"It is your disposition."

He didn't say anything, but he put his foot on the potato and
smashed it.

"If I had to be shut in here with you one more day," she went on,
"I'd hate you."

"Why the one more day?" he asked, without looking up.

But she didn't answer him. She was in the worst kind of a
temper; she threw the ribbon down, and coming over, lifted the
lid of my basket and looked in.

"Ham again!" she exclaimed ungratefully. "Thanks so much for
remembering us, Minnie. I dare say our dinner to-day slipped
your mind!"

"I wonder if it strikes you, Minnie," Mr. Dick said, noticing me
for the first time, "that if you and Sam hadn't been so
confounded meddling, that fellow Pierce would be washing buggies
in the village livery-stable where he belongs, and I'd be in one
piece of property that's as good as gone this minute."

"Egg salad and cheese!" said Mrs. Dick. "I'm sick of cheese. If
that's the kind of supper you've been serving--"

But I was in a bad humor, anyhow, and I'd had enough. I stood
just inside the door and I told them I'd done the best I could,
not for them, but because I'd promised the old doctor, and if I'd
made mistakes I'd answer for them to him if I ever met him in the
next world. And in the meantime I washed my hands of the whole
thing, and they might make out as best they could. I was

Mrs. Dick heard me through. Then she came over and put her hand
on mine where it lay on the table.

"You're perfectly right," she said. "I know how you have tried,
and that the fault is all that wretched Pierce's. You mustn't
mind Mr. Carter, Minnie. He's been in that sort of humor all

He looked at her with the most miserable face I ever saw, but he
didn't say anything. She sighed, the little wretch.

"We've all made mistakes," she said, "and not the least was my
thinking that I--well, never mind. I dare say we will manage

He got up then, his face twisted with misery.

"Say it," he said. "You hate me; you shiver if I touch your
hand--oh, I'm not very keen, but I saw that."

"The remedy for that is very, simple," she replied coolly. "You
needn't touch my hand."

"Stop!" I snapped. "Just stop before you say something you'll be
sorry for. Of course, you hate each other. It beats me, anyhow,
why two people who get married always want to get away by
themselves until they're so sick of each other that they don't
get over it the rest of their lives. The only sensible honeymoon
I ever heard of was when one of the chambermaids here married a
farmer in the neighborhood. It was harvest and he couldn't
leave, so she went ALONE to see her folks and she said it beat
having him along all hollow."

She was setting out the supper, putting things down with a bang.
He didn't move, although he must have been starving.

"Another thing I'd advise," I said. "Eat first and talk after.
You'll see things different after you've got something in your

"I wish you wouldn't meddle, Minnie!" she snapped, and having put
down her own plate and knife and fork, not laying a place for
him, she went over and tried to get one of the potatoes from the

Well, she burnt her finger, or pretended to, and I guess her
solution was as good as mine, for she began to cry, and when I
left he was tying it up with a bit of his handkerchief; if she
shivered when he kissed it I didn't notice it. They were to come
up to the house after her father left in the morning, and I was
to dismiss all the old help and get new ones so he could take
charge and let Mr. Pierce go.

I plodded back with my empty basket. I had only one clear
thought,--that I wouldn't have any more tramping across the golf
links in the snow. I was too tired really to care that with the
regular winter boarders gone and eight weeks still until Lent,
we'd hardly be able to keep going another fortnight. I wanted to
get back to my room and go to bed and forget.

But as I came near the house I saw Mr. Pierce come out on the
front piazza and switch on the lights. He stood there looking
out into the snow, and the next minute I saw why. Coming up the
hill and across the lawn was a shadowy line of people, black
against the white. They were not speaking, and they moved
without noise over the snow. I thought for a minute that my
brain had gone wrong; then the first figure came into the light,
and it was the bishop. He stood at the front of the steps and
looked up at Mr. Pierce.

"I dare say," he said, trying to look easy, "that this is sooner
than you expected us!"

Mr. Pierce looked down at the crowd. Then he smiled, a growing
smile that ended in a grin.

"On the contrary," he said, "I've been expecting you for an hour
or more."

The procession began to move gloomily up the steps. All of them
carried hand luggage, and they looked tired and sheepish Miss
Cobb stopped in front of Mr. Pierce.

"Do you mean to say," she demanded furiously, "that you knew the
railroad was blocked with snow, and yet you let us go!"

"On the contrary, Miss Cobb," he said politely, "I remember
distinctly regretting that you insisted on going. Besides, there
was the Sherman House."

Senator Briggs{sic} stopped in front of him. "Probably you also
knew that THAT was full, including the stables, with people
from the stalled trains," he asserted furiously.

Two by two they went in and through the hall, stamping the snow
off, and up to their old rooms again, leaving Slocum, the clerk,
staring at them as if he couldn't believe his eyes.

Mr. Pierce and I watched from the piazza, through the glass.

We saw Doctor Barnes stop and look, and then go and hang over the
news stand and laugh himself almost purple, and we saw Mr.
Thoburn bringing up the tail of the procession and trying to look
unconcerned. I am not a revengeful woman, but that was one
of the happiest moments of my life.

Doctor Barnes turned suddenly, and catching me by the arm,
whirled me around and around, singing wildly something about Noah
and "the animals went in two by, two, the elephant and the

He stopped as suddenly as he began and walked me to the door

"We've got 'em in the ark," he said, "but I'm thinking this forty
days of snow is nearly over, Minnie. I don't think much of the
dove and the olive-branch, but WE'VE GOT TO KEEP THEM."

"It's against the law," I quavered.

"Nonsense!" he said. "We've got to make 'em WANT to stay!"



We gave them a good supper and Mr. Pierce ordered claret served
without extra charge. By eight o'clock they were all in better
humor, and when they'd gathered in the lobby Miss Summers gave an
imitation of Marie Dressler doing the Salome dance. Every now
and then somebody would look out and say it was still snowing,
and with the memory of the drifts and the cold stove in the
railroad station behind them, they'd gather closer around the
fire and insist that they would go as soon as the road was

But with the exception of Mr. von Inwald, not one of them really
wanted to go. As Doctor Barnes said over the news stand, each
side was bluffing and wouldn't call the other, and the fellow
with the most nerve would win.

"And, oh, my aunt!" he said, "what a sweet disposition
the von Inwald has! Watch him going up and banging his head
against the wall!"

Everybody was charmed with the Salome dance, especially when Miss
Summers drew the cover off a meat platter she'd been dancing
around, and there was Arabella sitting on her hind legs, with a
card tied to her neck, and the card said that at eleven there
would be a clambake in the kitchen for all the guests.

(The clambake was my idea, but the dog, of course, was Miss
Julia's. I never saw a woman so full of ideas, although it seems
that what should have been on the platter was the head of
somebody or other.)

Just after the dance I saw Mr. von Inwald talking to Miss Patty.
He had been ugly all evening, and now he looked like a devil.
She stood facing him with her head thrown back and her fingers
twisting her ruby ring. I guessed that she was about as much
surprised as anything else, people having a habit of being
pleasant to her most of the time. He left her in a rage, and as
he went he collided with Arabella and kicked her. Miss Patty
went white but Miss Summers was not a bit put out. She
simply picked up the howling dog and confronted Mr. von Inwald.

"Perhaps you didn't notice," she said sweetly, "but you kicked my

"Why don't you keep her out of the way?" he snarled, and they
stood glaring at each other.

"Under the circumstances, Arabella," Miss Julia said--and
everybody was listening--"we can only withdraw Mr. von Inwald's
invitation to the kitchen."

"Thank you, I had not intended to go," he said furiously, and
went out into the veranda, slamming the door behind him. Mr.
Jennings looked up from where he was playing chess by the fire
and nodded at Miss Summers.

"Serves him right for his temper!" he said.

"Checkmate!" said the bishop.

Mr. Jennings turned and glared at the board. Then with one sweep
he threw all the chessmen on the floor. As Tillie said later, it
would be a pity to spoil two houses with Mr. von Inwald and Mr.
Jennings If they were in the same family, they could work it off
on each other.

Miss Patty came down to the news stand and pretended to hunt
for a magazine. I reached over and stroked her hand. "Don't
take it too hard, dearie," I said. "He's put out to-night, and
maybe he isn't well. Men are like babies. If their stomachs are
all right and have plenty in them, they're pleasant enough. It's
been my experience that your cranky man's a sick man."

"I don't think he is sick, Minnie," she said, with a catch in her
voice. "I--I think he is just dev--devilish!"

Well, I thought that too, so I just stroked her hand, and after a
minute she got her color again. "It is hard for him," she said.
"He thinks this is all vulgar and American, and--oh, Minnie, I
want to get away, and yet what shall I do without you to keep me

"You'll be a long ways off soon," I said, touching the ring under
my hand.

"I wish you could come with me," she said, but I shook my head.

"Here is one dog that isn't going to sit under any rich man's
table and howl for crumbs," I answered. "If he kicked ME, I'd
bite him."

At eleven o'clock we had the clambake with beer in the
kitchen, and Mr. von Inwald came, after all. They were really
very cheerful, all of them. Doctor Barnes insisted that Senator
Biggs must not fast any longer, and he ate by my count three
dozen clams. At the end, when everybody was happy and everything
forgiven, Mr. Pierce got up and made a speech.

He said he was sorry for what had happened that day, but that
much he had said he still maintained: that to pretend to make
people well in the way most sanatoriums did it was sheer folly,
and he felt his responsibility too keenly to countenance a system
that was clearly wrong and that the best modern thought
considered obsolete.

Miss Cobb sat up at that; she is always talking about the best
modern thought.

He said that perfect health, clear skins, bright eyes--he looked
at the women, and except for Miss Patty, there wasn't an honest
complexion or a bright eye in the lot--keen appetites and joy of
living all depended on rational and simple living.

"Hear, hear!" said the men.

"The nearer we live to nature, the better," said Senator Biggs

"Back to nature," shouted Mr. Moody through a clam.

"Exactly," Mr. Pierce said, smiling.

Mrs. Moody looked alarmed. "You don't mean doing without
clothes--and all that!" she protested.

"Surely!" Miss Summers said, holding up her beer glass. "A
toast, everybody! Back to nature, sans rats, sans rouge, sans
stays, sans everything. I'll need to wear a tag with my name on
it. Nobody will recognize me!"

Mr. Pierce got up again at the head of the long kitchen table and
said he merely meant rational living--more air, more exercise,
simpler food and better hours. It was being done now in a
thousand fresh-air farms, and succeeding. Men went back to their
business clearer-headed and women grew more beautiful.

At that, what with the reaction from sitting in the cold station,
and the beer and everything, they all grew enthusiastic. Doctor
Barnes made a speech, telling that he used to be puny and weak,
and how he went into training and became a pugilist, and how he'd
fought the Tennessee something or other--the men nodded as if
they knew--and licked him in forty seconds or forty rounds,
I'm not sure which. The men were standing on their chairs
cheering for him, and even Mr. Jennings, who'd been sitting and
not saying much, said he thought probably there was something in

They ended by agreeing to try it out for a week, beginning with
the morning, when everybody was to be down for breakfast by
seven-thirty. Mr. Thoburn got up and made a speech, protesting
that they didn't know what they were letting themselves in for,
and ended up by demanding to know if he was expected to breakfast
at seven-thirty.

"Yes, or earlier," Mr. Pierce said pleasantly. "I suppose you
could have something at seven."

"And suppose I refuse?" he retorted disagreeably.

But everybody turned on him, and said if they could do it, he
could, and he sat down again. Then somebody suggested that if
they were to get up they'd have to go to bed, and the party broke

Doctor Barnes helped me gather up the clam shells and the plates.

"It's a risky business," he said. "To-night doesn't mean
anything; they're carried away by the reaction and the
desire for something new. The next week will tell the tale."

"If we could only get rid of Mr. Thoburn!" I exclaimed.
Doctor Barnes chuckled.

"We may not get rid of him," he said, "but I can promise him the
most interesting week of his life. He'll be too busy for
mischief. I'm going to take six inches off his waist line."

Well, in a half-hour or so I had cleared away, and I went out to
the lobby to lock up the news stand. Just as I opened the door
from the back hall, however, I heard two people talking.

It was Miss Pat and Mr. Pierce. She was on the stairs and he in
the hall below, looking up.

"I don't WANT to stay!" she was saying.

"But don't you see?" he argued. "If you go, the others will.
Can't you try it for a week?"

"I quite understand your motive," she said, looking down at him
more pleasantly than she'd ever done, "and it's very good of you
and all that. But if you'd only left things as they were, and
let us all go, and other people come--"

"That's just it," he said. "I'm told it's the bad season
and nobody else would come until Lent. And, anyhow, it's not
business to let a lot of people go away mad. It gives the place
a black eye."

"Dear me," she said, "how businesslike you are growing!"

He went over close to the stairs and dropped his voice.

"If you want the bitter truth," he went on, trying to smile,
"I've put myself on trial and been convicted of being a fool and
a failure. I've failed regularly and with precision at
everything I have tried. I've been going around so long trying
to find a place that I fit into, that I'm scarred as with many
battles. And now I'm on probation--for the last time. If this
doesn't go, I--I--"

"What?" she asked, leaning down to him. "You'll not--"

"Oh, no," he said, "nothing dramatic, of course. I could go
around the country in a buggy selling lightning-rods--"

She drew herself back as if she resented his refusal of her

"Or open a saloon in the Philippines!" he finished mockingly.
"There's a living in that."

"You are impossible," she said, and turned away.

Oh, I haven't any excuse to make for him! I think he was just
hungry for her sympathy and her respect, knowing nothing else was
coming to him. But the minute they grew a bit friendly he seemed
to remember the prince, and that, according to his idea of it,
she was selling herself, and he would draw off and look at her in
a mocking unhappy way that made me want to slap him.

He watched her up the stairs and then turned and walked to the
fire, with his hands in his pockets and his head down.

I closed the news stand and he came over just as I was hanging up
the cigar-case key for Amanda King in the morning. He reached up
and took the key off its nail.

"I'll keep that," he said. "It's no tobacco after this, Minnie."

"You can't keep them here, then," I retorted. "They've got to
smoke; it's the only work they do."

"We'll see," he said quietly. "And--oh, yes, Minnie, now that we
shall not be using the mineral spring--"

"Not use the mineral spring!" I repeated, stupefied.

"Certainly NOT!" he said. "This is a drugless sanatorium,
Minnie, from now on. That's part of the theory--no drugs."

"Well, I'll tell you one thing," I snapped, "theory or no theory,
you've got to have drugs. No theory that I ever heard of is
going to cure Mr. Moody's indigestion and Miss Cobb's neuralgia."

"They won't have indigestion and neuralgia."

"Or Amanda King's toothache."

"We won't have Amanda King."

He put his elbow on the stand and smiled at me.

"Listen, Minnie," he said. "If you hadn't been wasting your
abilities in the mineral spring, I'd be sorry to close it. But
there will be plenty for you to do. Don't you know that the day
of the medicine-closet in the bath-room and the department-store
patent-remedy counter is over? We've got sanatoriums now instead
of family doctors. In other words, we put in good sanitation
systems and don't need the plumber and his repair kit."

"The pharmacy?" I said between my teeth.

"Closed also. No medicine, Minnie. That's our slogan. This is
the day of prophylaxis. The doctors have taken a step in the
right direction and are giving fewer drugs. Christian Science
has abolished drugs and established the healer. We simply
abolish the healer."

"If we're not going to use the spring-house, we might have saved
the expense of the new roof in the fall," I said bitterly.

"Not at all. For two hours or so a day the spring-house will be
a rest-house--windows wide open and God's good air penetrating to
fastnesses it never knew before."

"The spring will freeze!"

"Exactly. My only regret is that it is too small to skate on.
But they'll have the ice pond."

"When I see Mr. Moody skating on the ice pond," I said
sarcastically, "I'll see Mrs. Moody dead with the shock on the

"Not at all," he replied calmly. "You'll see her skating, too."
And with that he went to bed.



They took to it like ducks take to water. Not, of course, that
they didn't kick about making their own beds and having military
discipline generally. They complained a lot, but when after
three days went by with the railroad running as much on schedule
as it ever does, they were all still there, and Mr. Jennings had
limped out and spent a half-hour at the wood-pile with his gouty
foot on a cushion, I saw it was a success.

I ought to have been glad. I was, although when Mrs. Dicky found
they were all staying, and that she might have to live in the
shelter-house the rest of the winter, there was an awful scene.
I was glad, too, every time I could see Mr. Thoburn's gloomy
face, or hear the things he said when his name went up for the
military walk.

(Oh yes, we had a blackboard in the hall, and every morning each
guest looked to see if it was wood-pile day or
military-walk day. At first, instead of wood-pile, it was walk-
clearing day, but they soon had the snow off all the paths.)

As I say, I was glad. It looked as if the new idea was a
success, although as Doctor Barnes said, nobody could really tell
until new people began to come. That was the real test. They
had turned the baths into a gymnasium and they had beginners'
classes and advanced classes, and a prize offered on the
blackboard of a cigar for the man who made the most muscular
improvement in a week. The bishop won it the first week, being
the only one who could lie on his back and raise himself to a
sitting position without helping himself with his hands. As Mrs.
Moody said, it would be easy enough if somebody only sat on one's
feet to hold them down.

But I must say I never got over the shock of seeing the spring-
house drifted with snow, all the windows wide open, the spring
frozen hard, and people sitting there during the rest hour, in
furs and steamer rugs, trying to play cards with mittens on--
their hands, not the cards, of course--and not wrangling. I was
lonesome for it!

I hadn't much to do, except from two to four to be at the
spring-house, and to count for the deep-breathing exercise. Oh,
yes, we had that, too! I rang a bell every half-hour and
everybody got up, and I counted slowly "one" and they breathed in
through their noses, and "two" and they exhaled quickly through
their mouths. I guess most of them used more of their lungs than
they ever knew they had.

Well, everybody looked better and felt better, although they
wouldn't all acknowledge it. Miss Cobb suffered most, not having
the fire log to curl her hair with. But as she said herself,
between gymnasium and military walks, and the silence hour, and
eating, which took a long time, everybody being hungry--and going
to bed at nine, she didn't see how she could have worried with
it, anyhow. The fat ones, of course, objected to an apple and a
cup of hot water for breakfast, but except Mr. Thoburn, they all
realized it was for the best. He wasn't there for his health, he
said, having never had a sick day in his life, but when he saw it
was apple and hot water or leave, he did like Adam--he took the

The strange thing of all was the way they began to look up
to Mr. Pierce. He was very strict; if he made a rule, it was
obey or leave. (As they knew after Mr. Moody refused to take the
military walk, and was presented with his bill and a railroad
schedule within an hour. He had to take the military walk with
Doctor Barnes that afternoon alone.) They had to respect a man
who could do all the things in the gymnasium that they couldn't,
and come in from a ten or fifteen-mile tramp through the snow and
take a cold plunge and a swim to rest himself.

It was on Monday that we really got things started, and on Monday
afternoon Miss Summers came out to the shelter-house in a
towering rage.

"Where's Mr. Pierce?" she demanded.

"I guess you can see he isn't here," I said.

"Just wait until I see him!" she announced. "Do you know that I
am down on the blackboard for the military walk to-day?

"Why not?"

She turned and glared at me. "Why not?" she repeated. "Why, the
audacity of the wretch! He brings me out into the country in
winter to play in his atrocious play, strands me, and then tells
me to walk twenty miles a day and smile over it!" She came
over to me and shook my arm. "Not only that," she said, "but he
has cut out my cigarettes and put Arabella on dog biscuit--
Arabella, who can hardly eat a chicken wing."

"Well, there's something to be thankful for," I said. "He didn't
put you on dog biscuit."

She laughed then, with one of her quick changes of humor.

"The worst of it is," she said, in a confidential whisper, "I'll
do it. I feel it. I guess if the truth were known I'm some
older than he is, but--I'm afraid of him, Minnie. Little Judy is
ready to crawl around and speak for a cracker or a kind word.
Oh, I'm not in love with him, but he's got the courage to say
what he means and do what he says."

She went to the door and looked back smiling.

"I'm off for the wood-pile," she called back. "And I've promised
to chop two inches off my heels."

As I say, they took to it like ducks to water--except two of
them, von Inwald and Thoburn. Mr. von Inwald stayed on, I hardly
know why, but I guess it was because Mr. Jennings still
hadn't done anything final about settlements, and with the
newspapers marrying him every day it wasn't very comfortable.
Next to him, Mr. Thoburn was the unhappiest mortal I have ever
seen. He wouldn't leave, and with Doctor Barnes carrying out his
threat to take six inches off his waist, he stopped measuring
window-frames with a tape line and took to measuring himself.

I came across him on Wednesday--the third day--straggling home
from the military walk. He and Mr. von Inwald limped across the
tennis-court and collapsed on the steps of the spring-house while
the others went on to the sanatorium. I had been brushing the
porch, and I leaned on my broom and looked at them.

"You're both looking a lot better," I said. "Not so--well, not
so beer-y. How do you like it by this time?"

"Fine!" answered Mr. Thoburn. "Wouldn't stay if I didn't like

"Wouldn't you?"

"But I'll tell you this, Minnie," he said, changing his position
with a groan to look up at me, "somebody ought to warn that
young man. Human nature can stand a lot but it can't stand
everything. He's overdoing it!"

"They like it," I said.

"They think they do," he retorted. "Mark my words, Minnie, if he
adds another mile to the walk to-morrow there will be a mutiny.
Kingdoms may be lost by an extra blister on a heel."

Mr. von Inwald had been sitting with his feet straight out,
scowling, but now he turned and looked at me coolly.

"All that keeps me here," he said, "is Minnie's lovely hair. It
takes me mentally back home, Minnie, to a lovely lady--may I have
a bit of it to keep by me?"

"You may not," I retorted angrily.

"Oh! The lovely lady--but never mind that. For the sake of my
love for you, Minnie, find me a cigarette, like a good girl! I
am desolate."

"There's no tobacco on the place," I said firmly, and went on
with my sweeping.

"When I was a boy," Mr. Thoburn remarked, looking out
thoughtfully over the snow, "we made a sort of cigarette out of
corn-silk. You don't happen to have any corn-silk about, do
you, Minnie?"

"No," I said shortly. "If you take my advice, Mr. Thoburn,
you'll go back to town. You can get all the tobacco you want
there--and you're wasting your time here." I leaned on my broom
and looked down at him, but he was stretching out his foot and
painfully working his ankle up and down.

"Am I?" he asked, looking at his foot. "Well, don't count on it
too much, Minnie. You always inspire me, and sitting here I've
just thought of something."

He got up and hobbled off the porch, followed by Mr. von Inwald.
I saw him say something to Mr. von Inwald, who threw back his
head and laughed. Then I saw them stop and shake hands and go on
again in deep conversation. I felt uneasy.

Doctor Barnes came out that afternoon and watched me while I
closed the windows. He had a package in his hand. He sat on the
railing of the spring and looked at me.

"You're not warmly enough dressed for this kind of thing,"
he remarked. "Where's that gray rabbits' fur, or whatever it

"If you mean my chinchillas," I said, "they're in their box.
Chinchillas are as delicate as babies and not near so plentiful.
I'm warm enough."

"You look it." He reached over and caught one of my hands. "Look
at that! Blue nails! It's about four degrees above zero here,
and while the rest are wrapped in furs and steamer rugs, with
hotwater bottles at their feet, you've got on a shawl. I'll bet
you two dollars you haven't got on any--er--winter flannels."

"I never bet," I retorted, and went on folding up the steamer

"I'd like to help," he said, "but you're so darned capable, Miss

"You might see if you can get the slot-machine empty," I said.
"It's full of water. It wouldn't work and Mr. Moody thought it
was frozen. He's been carrying out boiling water all afternoon.
If it stays in there and freezes the thing will explode."

He wasn't listening. He'd been fussing with his package and now
he opened it and handed it to me, in the paper.

"It's a sweater," he said, not looking at me. "I bought it for
myself and it was too small-- Confound it, Minnie, I wish I
could lie! I bought them for you! There's the whole business--
sweater, cap, leggings and mittens. Go on! Throw them at me!"

But I didn't. I looked at them, all white and soft, and it came
over me suddenly how kind people had been lately, and how much
I'd been getting--the old doctor's waistcoat buttons and Miss
Pat's furs, and now this! I just buried my face in them and

Doctor Barnes stood by and said nothing. Some men wouldn't have
understood, but he did. After a minute or so he came over and
pulled the sweater out from the bundle.

"I'm glad you like 'em," he said, "but as I bought them at
Hubbard's, in Finleyville, and as the old liar guaranteed they
wouldn't shrink, we'd better not cry on 'em."

Well, I put them on and I was warmer and happier than I had been
for some time. But that night when I went out to the shelter-
house with the supper basket I found both the honeymooners in a
wild state of excitement. They said that about five o'clock
Thoburn had gone out to the shelter-house and walked all around
it. Finally he had stopped at one of the windows of the other
room, had worked at it with his penknife and got it open, and
crawled through. They sat paralyzed with fright, and heard him
moving around the other room, and he even tried their door. But
it had been locked. They hadn't the slightest idea what he was
doing, but after perhaps ten minutes he went away, going out the
door this time and taking the key with him.

Mr. Dick had gone in when he was safely gone, but he could see
nothing unusual, except that the door of the cupboard in the
corner was standing open and there was a brand-new, folding, foot
rule in it.

That day the bar was closed for good, and there was a good bit of
fussing. To add to the trouble, that evening at dinner the
pastries were cut off, and at eight o'clock a delegation headed
by Senator Biggs visited Mr. Pierce in the office and demanded
pastry put back on the menu and the stewed fruit taken off. But
Mr. Pierce was firm and they came out pretty well subdued.
It was that night, I think, that candles were put in the
bedrooms, and all the electric lights were turned off at nine-

At ten o'clock I took my candle and went to Mr. Pierce's sitting-
room door. I didn't think they'd stand much more and I wanted to
tell him so. Nobody answered and I opened the door. He was
asleep, face down on the hearth-rug in front of the fire. His
candle was lighted on the floor beside him and near it lay a
newspaper cutting crumpled in a ball. I picked it up. It was a
list of the bridal party for Miss Patty's wedding.

I dropped it where I found it and went out and knocked again
loudly. He wakened after a minute and came to the door with the
candle in his hand.

"Oh, it's you, Minnie. Come in!"

I went in and put my candle on the table.

"I've got to talk to you," I said. "I don't mind admitting
things have been going pretty well, but--they won't stand for the
candles. You mark my words."

"If they'll stand for the bar being closed, why not the candles?"
he demanded.

"Well," I said, "they can't have electric light sent up in
boxes and labeled `books,' but they can get liquor that way."

He whistled, and then he laughed.

"Then we'll not have any books," he said. "I guess they can
manage. `My only books were woman's looks--'" and then he saw
the ball of paper on the floor and his expression changed. He
walked over and picked it up, smoothing it out on the palm of his

After a minute he looked up at me.

"I haven't been to the shelter-house to-day. They are all

"They're nervous. With everybody walking these days they daren't
venture a nose out of doors."

He was still holding the clipping.

"And--Miss Jennings!" he said. "She--I think she looks better."

"Her father's in a better humor for one thing--says Abraham
Lincoln split logs, and that it beats massage."

I had been standing in the doorway, but he took me by the arm and
drew me into the room.

"I wish you'd sit down for about ten minutes, Minnie," he
said. "I guess every fellow has a time when he's got to tell his
troubles to some good woman--not but that you know mine already.
You're as shrewd as you are kind."

I sat down on the edge of a chair. For all I had had so much to
do with the sanatorium, I never forgot that I was only the
spring-house girl. He threw himself back in his easy chair, with
the candle behind him on the table and his arms above his head.

"It's like this, Minnie," he said. "Mr. Jennings likes the new
order of things and--he's going to stay."

I nodded.

"And I like it here. I want to stay. It's the one thing I've
found that I think I can do. It isn't what I've dreamed of, but
it's worth while. To anchor the derelicts of humanity in a sort
of repair dock here, and scrape the barnacles off their
dispositions, and send them out shipshape again, surely that's
something. And I can do it."

I nodded again.

"But if the Jenningses stay--" he looked at me. "Minnie, in
heaven's name, what am I going to do if SHE stays?"

"I don't know, Mr. Pierce," I said. "I couldn't sleep last night
for thinking about it."

He smoothed out the paper and looked at it again, but I think he
scarcely saw it.

"The situation is humorous," he said, "only my sense of humor
seems to have died. She doesn't know I exist, except to invent
new and troublesome regulations for her annoyance. She is very
sweet when she meets me, but only because I am helping her to
have her own way. And I--my God, Minnie, I sit in the office and
listen for her step outside!"

He moved a little and held out the paper in the candle-light.

"`It will please Americans to know,'" he read, "`that with the
exception of the Venetian lace robe sent by the bridegroom's
mother, all of Miss Patricia Jennings' elaborate trousseau is
being made in America.

"`Prince Oskar and his suite, according to present arrangements,
will sail from Naples early in March, and the wedding date,
although not yet definitely fixed, will probably be the first
week in April. The wedding party will include--'"

He stopped there, and looked at me, trying to smile.

"I knew it all before," he said, "but there's something
inevitable about print. I guess I hadn't realized it."

He had the same look of wretchedness he'd had the first night I
saw him--a hungry look--and I couldn't help it; I went over to
him and patted him on the head like a little boy. I was only the
spring-house girl, but I was older than he was, and he needed
somebody to comfort him.

"I can't think of anything to say that will help any," I said,
"unless it's what you wrote yourself on the blackboard down in
the hall, `Keep busy and you'll keep happy.'"

He reached up for my hand, and rough and red as it was--having
been in the spring for so many years--he kissed it.

"Good for you, Minnie!" he said. "You're rational, and for a day
or so I haven't been. That's right, KEEP BUSY. I'll do it."
He got up and put his hands on my shoulders. "Good old pal, when
you see me going around as if all the devils of hell were
tormenting me, just come up and say that to me, will you?"

I promised, and he opened the door, candle in hand, and smiling.

"I'm a thousand per cent. better already," he said. "I just
needed to tell somebody, I think. I dare say I've made a lot
more fuss than it really deserves."

At the far end of the hall, a girl came out of one room, and
carrying a candle, went across to another. It was Miss Patty,
going to bid her father good night. When I left, he was still
staring down the hall after her, his candle dripping wax on the
floor, and his face white. I guess he hadn't overstated his



By Friday of that week you would hardly have known any of them.
The fat ones were thinner and the thin ones fatter, and Miss
Julia Summers could put her whole hand inside her belt.

And they were pleasant. They'd sit down to a supper of ham and
eggs and apple sauce, and yell for more apple sauce, and every
evening in the billiard room they got up two weighing pools, one
for the ones who wanted to reduce, and one for the people who
wanted to gain. Everybody put in a dollar, and at gymnasium hour
the next morning the ones who'd gained or lost the most won the
pool. Mr. Thoburn won the losing pool on Thursday and Friday--he
didn't want to lose weight, but he was compelled to under the
circumstances. And I think worry helped him to it.

They fussed some still about sleeping with the windows
open, especially the bald-headed men. However, the bishop, who
had been bald for thirty years, was getting a fine down all over
the top of his head, and this encouraged the rest. The bishop
says it is nature's instinct to protect itself from cold--all
animals have fur, and heavier fur in winter--and he believed that
it was the ultimate cure for baldness. Men lose their hair on
top, he said, because they wear hats, and so don't need it. But
let the top of the head need protection, and lo, hair comes
there. Although, as Mr. Thoburn said, his nose was always cold
in winter, and nature never did anything for IT.

Mr. von Inwald was still there, and not troubling himself to be
agreeable to any but the Jennings family. He and Mr. Pierce
carefully avoided each other, but I knew well enough that only
policy kept them apart. Both of them, you see, were working for

Miss Cobb came to the spring-house early Friday morning, and from
the way she came in and shut the door I knew she had something on
her mind. She walked over to where I was polishing the brass
railing around the spring--it had been the habit of years,
and not easy to break--and stood looking at me and breathing

"Minnie," she exclaimed, "I have found the thief!"

"Lord have mercy!" I said, and dropped the brass polish.

"I have found the thief!" she repeated firmly. "Minnie, our sins
always find us out."

"I guess they do," I said shakily, and sat down on the steps to
the spring. "Oh, Miss Cobb, if only he would use a little bit of

"He?" she said. "HE nothing! It's that Summers woman I'm
talking about, Minnie. I knew that woman wasn't what she ought
to be the minute I set eyes on her."

"The Summers woman!" I repeated.

Miss Cobb leaned over the railing and shook a finger in my face.

"The Summers woman," she said. "One of the chambermaids found
my--my PROTECTORS hanging in the creature's closet!"

I couldn't speak. There had been so much happening that I'd
clean forgotten Miss Cobb and her woolen tights. And now to have
them come back like this and hang themselves around my neck,
so to speak--it was too much.

"Per--perhaps they're hers," I said weakly after a minute.

"Stuff and nonsense!" declared Miss Cobb. "Don't you think I
know my own, with L. C. in white cotton on the band, and my own
darning in the knee where I slipped on the ice? And more than
that, Minnie, where those tights are, my letters are!"

I glanced at the pantry, where her letters were hidden on the
upper shelf. The door was closed.

"But--but what would she want with the letters?" I asked, with my
teeth fairly hitting together. Miss Cobb pushed her forefinger
into my shoulder.

"To blackmail me," she said, in a tragic voice, "or perhaps to
publish. I've often thought of that myself--they're so
beautiful. Letters from a life insurance agent to his lady-
love--interesting, you know, and alliterative. As for that

"What woman!" said Miss Summers' voice from behind us. We jumped
and turned. "I always save myself trouble, so if by any chance
you are discussing me--"

"As it happens," Miss Cobb said, glaring at her, "I WAS
discussing you."

"Fine!" said Miss Julia. "I love to talk about myself."

"I doubt if it's an edifying subject," Miss Cobb snapped.

Miss Julia looked at her and smiled.

"Perhaps not," she said, "but interesting. Don't put yourself
out to be friendly to me, Miss Cobb, if you don't feel like it."

"Are you going to return my letters?" Miss Cobb demanded.

"Your letters?"

"My letters--that you took out of my room!"

"Look here," Miss Julia said, still in a good humor, "don't you
suppose I've got letters of my own, without bothering with
another woman's?"

"Perhaps," Miss Cobb replied in triumph, "perhaps you will say
that you don't know anything of my--of my black woolen

"Never heard of them!" said Miss Summers. "What are they?" And
then she caught my eye, and I guess I looked stricken. "Oh!" she

"Miss Cobb was robbed the other night," I explained, as quietly
as I could. "Somebody went into her room and took a bundle of

"Letters!" Miss Summers straightened and looked at me.

"And my woolen tights," said Miss Cobb indignantly, "with all
this cold weather and military walks, and having to sit two hours
a day by an open window! And I'll tell you this, Miss Summers,
your dog got in my room that night, and while I have no
suspicions, the chambermaid found my--er--missing garment this
morning in your closet!"

"I don't believe," Miss Julia said, looking hard at me, "that
Arabella would steal anything so--er--grotesque! Do you mean to
say," she added slowly, "that nothing was taken from that room
but the--lingerie and a bundle of letters?"

"Exactly," said Miss Cobb, "and I'd thank you for the letters."

"The letters!" Miss Julia retorted. "I've never been in your
room. I haven't got the letters. I've never seen them." Then a
light dawned in her face. "I--oh, it's the funniest ever!"

And with that she threw her head back and laughed until the tears
rolled down her cheeks and she held her side.

"Screaming!" she gasped. "It's screaming! But, oh, Minnie, to
have seen your face!"

Miss Cobb swept to the door and turned in a fury.

"I do not think it is funny," she stormed, "and I shall report to
Mr. Carter at once what I have discovered."

She banged out, and Miss Julia put her head on a card-table and
writhed with joy. "To have seen your face, Minnie!" she panted,
wiping her eyes. "To have thought you had Dick Carter's letters,
that I keep rolled in asbestos, and then to have opened them and
found they were to Miss Cobb!"

"Be as happy as you like," I snapped, "but you are barking up the
wrong tree. I don't know anything about any letters and as far
as that goes, do you think I've lived here fourteen years to get
into the wrong room at night? If I'd wanted to get into your
room, I'd have found your room, not Miss Cobb's."

She sat up and pulled her hat straight, looking me right in the

"If you'll recall," she said, "I came into the spring-house, and
Arabella pulled that--garment of Miss Cobb's off a table. It was
early--nobody was out yet. You were alone, Minnie, or no," she
said suddenly, "you were not alone. Minnie, WHO was in the

"What has that to do with it?" I managed, with my feet as cold as

She got up and buttoned her sweater.

"Don't trouble to lie," she said. "I can see through a stone
wall as well as most people. Whoever got those letters thought
they were stealing mine, and there are only two people who would
try to steal my letters; one is Dick Carter, and the other is his
brother-in-law. It wasn't Sam in the pantry--he came in just
after with his little snip of a wife."

"Well?" I managed.

But she was smiling again, not so pleasantly.

"I might have known it!" she said. "What a fool I've been,
Minnie, and how clever you are under that red thatch of yours!
Dicky can not appear as long as I am here, and Pierce takes his
place, and I help to keep the secret and to play the game! Well,
I can appreciate a joke on myself as well as most people,
but--Minnie, Minnie, think of that guilty wretch of a Dicky
Carter shaking in the pantry!"

"I don't know what you are talking about," I said, but she only
winked and went to the door.

"Don't take it too much to heart," she advised. "Too much
loyalty is a vice, not a virtue. And another piece of advice,
Minnie--when I find Dicky Carter, stand from under; something
will fall."

They had charades during the rest hour that afternoon, the
overweights headed by the bishop, against the underweights headed
by Mr. Moody. They selected their words from one of Horace
Fletcher's books, and as Mr. Pierce wasn't either over or
underweight, they asked him to be referee.

Oh, they were crazy about him by that time. It was "Mr. Carter"
here and "dear Mr. Carter" there, with the women knitting him
neckties and the men coming up to be bullied and asking for more.

And he kept the upper hand, too, once he got it. It was that
day, I think, that he sent Senator Biggs up to make his bed
again, and nobody in the place will ever forget how he made old
Mr. Jennings hang his gymnasium suit up three times before it was
done properly. The old man was mad enough at the time, but
inside of twenty minutes he was offering Mr. Pierce the cigar
he'd won in the wood-chopping contest.

But if Mr. Pierce was making a hit with the guests, he wasn't so
popular with the Van Alstynes or the Carters. The night the
cigar stand was closed Mr. Sam came to me and leaned over the

"Put the key in a drawer," he said. "I can slip down here after
the lights are out and get a smoke."

"Can't do it, Mr. Van Alstyne," I said. "Got positive orders."

"That doesn't include me." He was still perfectly good-humored.

"Sorry," I said. "Have to have a written order from Mr. Pierce."

He put a silver dollar on the desk between us and looked at me
over it.

"Will that open the case?" he asked. But I shook my head.

"Well, I'll be hanged! What the devil sort of order did he give

"He said," I repeated, "that I'd be coaxed and probably bribed to
open the cigar case, and that you'd probably be the first
one to do it, but I was to stick firm; you've been smoking too
much, and your nerves are going."

"Insolent young puppy!" he exclaimed angrily, and stamped away.

So that I was not surprised when on that night, Friday, I was
told to be at the shelter-house at ten o'clock for a protest
meeting. Mrs. Sam told me.

"Something has to be done," she said. "I don't intend to stand
much more. Nobody has the right to say when I shall eat or what.

If I want to eat fried shoe leather, that's my affair."

We met at ten o'clock at the shelter-house, everybody having gone
to bed--Miss Patty, the Van Alstynes and myself. The Dickys were
on good terms again, for a wonder, and when we went in they were
in front of the fire, she on a box and he at her feet, with his
head buried in her lap. He didn't even look up when we entered.

"They're here, Dicky," she said.

"All right!" he answered in a smothered voice. "How many of

"Four," she said, and kissed the tip of his ear.

"For goodness sake, Dick!" Mrs. Sam snapped in a disgusted
tone, "stop that spooning and get us something to sit on."

"Help yourself," he replied, still from his wife's lap, "and
don't be jealous, sis. If the sight of married happiness upsets
you, go away. Go away, anyhow."

Mr. Sam came over and jerked him into a sitting position.
"Either you'll sit up and take part in this discussion," he said
angrily, "or you'll go out in the snow until it's over."

Mr. Dick leaned over and kissed his wife's hand.

"A cruel fate is separating us," he explained, "but try to endure
it until I return. I'll be on the other side of the fireplace."

Miss Patty came to the fire and stood warming her hands. I saw
her sister watching her.

"What's wrong with you, Pat?" she asked. "Oskar not behaving?"

"Don't be silly," Miss Patty said. "I'm all right."

"She's worked to death," Mrs. Sam put in. "Look at all of us.
I'll tell you I'm so tired these nights that by nine o'clock I'm
asleep on my feet."

"I'm tired to death, but I don't sleep," Miss Patty said. "I--I
don't know why."

"I do," her sister said. "If you weren't so haughty, Pat, and
would just own up that you're sick of your bargain--"

"Dolly!" Miss Patty got red and then white.

"Oh, all right," Mrs. Dicky said, and shrugged her shoulders.
"Only, I hate to see you make an idiot of yourself, when I'm so

Mr. Dick made a move at that to go across the fireplace to her,
but Mr. Sam pushed him back where he was.

"You stay right there," he said. "Here's Pierce now."

He came in smiling, and as he stood inside the door, brushing the
snow off, it was queer to see how his eyes went around the circle
until he'd found Miss Patty and stopped at her.

Nobody answered his smile, and he came over to the fire beside
Miss Patty.

"Great night!" he said, looking down at her. "There's something
invigorating in just breathing that wind."

"Do you think so?" Mrs. Sam said disagreeably. "Of course, we
haven't all got your shoulders."

"That's so," he answered, turning to her. "I said you women
should not come so far. We could have met in my sitting-room."

"You forget one thing," Mr. Dick put in disagreeably, "and that
is that this meeting concerns me, and I can not very well go to
YOUR sitting-room."

"Fact," said Mr. Pierce, "I'd forgotten about you for the

"You generally do," Mr. Dick retorted. "If you want the truth,
Pierce, I'm about tired of your high-handed methods."

Mr. Pierce set his jaw and looked down at him.

"Why? I've saved the place, haven't I? Why, look here," he
said, and pulled out a couple of letters, "these are the first
fruits of those that weep--in other words, per aspera ad astra!

Two new guests coming the last of the week--want to be put in

Well, that was an argument nobody could find fault with, but
their grievance was about themselves and they couldn't forgive
him. They turned on him in the most heartless way--even Miss
Patty--and demanded that he give them special privileges--
breakfast when they wanted it, and Mr. Sam the key to the
bar. And he stood firm, as he had that day in the lobby, and let
the storm beat around him, looking mostly at Miss Patty. It was
more than I could bear.

"Shame on all of you!" I said. "He's done what he promised he'd
do, and more. If he did what he ought, he'd leave this minute,
and let you find out for yourself what it is to drive thirty-odd
different stomachs and the same number of bad dispositions in one

"You are perfectly right, Minnie," Miss Patty said. "We're
beastly, all of us, and I'm sorry." She went over and held out
her hand to him. "You've done the impossible," she told him. He

"Your approval means more than anything," he said, holding her
hand. Mrs. Dick sat up and opened her eyes wide.

"Speaking of Oskar," she began, and then stopped, staring past
her sister, toward the door.

We all turned, and there, blinking in the light, was Miss



"WELL!" she said, and stood staring. Then she smiled--I guess
our faces were funny.

"May I come in?" she asked, and without waiting she came in and
closed the door. "You DO look cozy!" she said, and shook
herself free of snow.

Mr. Dick had turned white. He got up with his eyes on her, and
twice he opened his mouth and couldn't speak. He backed, still
watching her, to his wife, and stood in front of her, as if to
protect her.

Mr. Sam got his voice first.

"B--bad night for a walk," he said.

"Frightful!" she said. "I've been buried to my knees. May I sit
down?" To those of us who knew, her easy manner had something
horrible in it.

"Sorry there are no chairs, Julia," Mr. Pierce said. "Sit on the
cot, won't you?"

"Who IS it?" Mrs. Dick asked from, as you may say, her
eclipse. She and Miss Summers were the only calm ones in the

"I--I don't know," Mr. Dick stammered, but the next moment Miss
Julia, from the cot, looked across at him and grinned.

"Well, Dicky!" she said. "Who'd have thought it!"

"You said you didn't know her!" his wife said from behind him.

"Who'd have thought wha--what?" he asked with bravado.

"All this!" Miss Julia waved her hand around the room, with its
bare walls, and blankets over the windows to keep the light in
and the cold out, and the circle of us sitting around on sand
boxes from the links and lawn rollers. "To find you here, all
snug in your own home, with your household gods and a wife."
Nobody could think of anything to say. "That is," she went on,
"I believe there is a wife. Good heavens, Dicky, it isn't

He stepped aside at that, disclosing Mrs. Dick on her box, with
her childish eyes wide open.

"There--there IS a wife, Julia," he said. "This is her--she."

Well, she'd come out to make mischief--it was written all over
her when she came in the door, but when Mr. Dick presented his
wife, frightened as he was and still proud of her, and Mrs. Dick
smiled in her pretty way, Miss Summers just walked across and
looked down at her with a queer look on her face. I shut my eyes
and waited for the crash, but nothing came, and when I opened
them again there were the two women holding hands and Miss
Summers smiling a sort of crooked grin at Mr. Dick.

"I ought to be very angry with your husband," she said. "I--
well, I never expected him to marry without my being among those
present. But since he has done it--! Dick, you wretched boy,
you took advantage of my being laid up with the mumps!"

"Mumps!" Mrs. Dick said. "Why, he has just had them himself!"
She looked around the circle suspiciously, and every one of us
looked as guilty as if he had been caught with the mumps
concealed around him somewhere.

"I didn't have real mumps," Mr. Dick explained. "It was only--
er--a swelling."

"You SAID it was mumps, and even now you hate pickles!"

Mr. Pierce had edged over to Miss Summers and patted her

"Be a good sport, Julia," he whispered.

She threw off his hand.

"I'm being an idiot!" she said angrily. "Dick's an ass, and he's
treated me like a villain, but look at that baby! It will be
twenty years before she has to worry about her weight."

"I never cared for pickles," Mr. Dick was saying with dignity.
"The doctor said--"

"I think we'd better be going." Miss Patty got up and gathered
up her cloak. But if she meant to break up the party Miss
Summers was not ready.

"If you don't mind," she said, "I'll stay. I'm frozen, and I've
got to go home and sleep with my window up. You're lucky," she
went on to the Dickys. "I dare say the air in here would scare
us under a microscope, but at least it is warm."

The Van Alstynes made a move to go, but Mr. Dicky
frantically gestured to them not to leave him alone, and Mrs. Sam
sat down again sulkily. Mr. Pierce picked up his cap.

"I'll take you back," he said to Miss Patty, and his face was
fairly glowing. But Miss Patty slipped her arm through mine.

"Come, Minnie, Mr. Pierce is going to take us," she said.

"I'd--I'd rather go alone," I said.


"I'm not ready. I've got to gather up these dishes," I objected.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see the glow dying out of Mr.
Pierce's face. But Miss Patty took my arm and led me to the

"Let them gather up their own dishes," she said. "Dolly, you
ought to be ashamed to let Minnie slave for you the way she does.

Good night, everybody."

I did my best to leave them alone on the way back, but Miss Patty
stuck close to my heels. It was snowing, and the going was slow.

For the first five minutes she only spoke once.

"And so Miss Summers and Dicky Carter are old friends!"

"It appears so," Mr. Pierce said.

"She's rather magnanimous, under the circumstances," Miss Patty
remarked demurely.

"Under what circumstances?"

I heard her laugh a little, behind me.

"Never mind," she said. "You needn't tell me anything you don't
care to. But what a stew you must all have been in!"

There was a minute's silence behind me, and then Mr. Pierce
laughed too.

"Stew!" he said. "For the last few days I've been either
paralyzed with fright or electrified into wild bursts of
mendacity. And I'm not naturally a liar."

"Really!" she retorted. "What an actor you are!"

They laughed together at that, and I gained a little on them. At
the corner where the path skirted the deer park and turned toward
the house I lost them altogether and I floundered on alone. But
I had not gone twenty feet when I stopped suddenly. About fifty
yards ahead a lantern was coming toward me through the snow, and
I could hear a man's voice, breathless and gasping.

"Set it down," it said. "The damned thing must be filled with
lead." It sounded like Thoburn.

"It's the snow," another voice replied, Mr. von Inwald's. "I
told you it would take two trips."

"Yes," Thoburn retorted, breathing in groans. "Stay up all night
to get the blamed stuff here, and then get up at dawn for a cold
bath and a twenty-mile walk and an apple for breakfast. Ugh, my
shoulder is dislocated."

I turned and flew back to Miss Patty and Pierce. They had
stopped in the shelter of the fence corner and Mr. Pierce was on
his knees in front of her! I was so astounded that I forgot for
the moment what had brought me.

"Just a second," he was saying. "It's ice on the heel."

"Please get up off your knees, you'll take cold."

"Never had a cold. I'll scrape it off with my knife. Why don't
you wear overshoes?"

"I never have a cold!" she retorted. "Why, Minnie, is that you?"

"Quick," I panted. "Thoburn and Mr. von Inwald coming--basket--
lantern--warn the shelter-house!"

"Great Scott I" Mr. Pierce said. "Here, you girls crawl over the
fence: you'll be hidden there. I'll run back and warn them."

The lantern was swinging again. Mr. Thoburn's grumbling came to
us through the snow, monotonous and steady.

"I can't climb the fence!" Miss Patty said pitifully. But Mr.
Pierce had gone.

I reached my basket through the bars and climbed the fence in a
hurry. Miss Patty had got almost to the top and was standing
there on one snow-covered rail, staring across at me through the

"I can't, Minnie," she whispered hopelessly. "I never could
climb a fence, and in this skirt--!"

"Quick!" I said in a low tone. The lantern was very close. "Put
your leg over."

She did, and sat there looking down at me like a scared baby.

"Now the other."

"I--I can't!" she whispered. "If I put them both over I'll


With a little grunt she put the other foot over, sat a minute
with agony in her face and her arms out, then she slid off
with a squeal and brought up in a sitting position inside the
fence corner. I dropped beside her.

"What was that noise?" said Mr. Thoburn, almost upon us.
"Something's moving inside that fence corner."

"It's them deers," Mike's voice this time. We could make out the
three figures. "Darned nuisance, them deers is. They'd have
been shot long ago if the spring-house girl hadn't objected. She
thinks she's the whole cheese around here."

"Set it down again," Mr. von Inwald panted. We heard the rattle
of bottles as they put down the basket, and the next instant
Thoburn's fat hand was resting on the rail of the fence over our
heads. I could feel Miss Patty trembling beside me.

But he didn't look over. He stood there resting, breathing hard,
and swearing at the weather, while Mike waited, in surly silence,
and the von Inwald cursed in German.

After my heart had been beating in my ears for about three years
the fat hand moved, and I heard the rattle of glass again and
Thoburn's groan as he bent over his half of the load.

"`Come on, my partners in distress,
My comrades through this wilderness,'"

he said, and the others grunted and started on.

When they had disappeared in the snow we got out of our cramped
position and prepared to scurry home. I climbed the fence and
looked after them. "Humph!" I said, "I guess that basket isn't
for the hungry poor. I'd give a good bit to know--" Then I
turned and looked for Miss Patty. She was flat on the snow,
crawling between the two lower rails of the fence.

"Have you no shame?" I demanded.

She looked up at me with her head and half her long sealskin coat
through the fence.

"None," she said pitifully. "Minnie, I'm stuck perfectly tight!"

"You ought to be left as you are," I said, jerking at her, "for
people to come"--jerk--"to-morrow to look at"--jerk. She came
through at that, and we lay together in the snow and like to
burst a rib laughing.

"You'll never be a princess, Miss Patty," I declared. "You're
too lowly minded."

She sat up suddenly and straightened her sealskin cap on her

"I wish," she said unpleasantly, "I wish you wouldn't always drag
in disagreeable things, Minnie!"

And she was sulky all the way to the house.

Miss Summers came to my room that night as I was putting my hot-
water bottle to bed, in a baby-blue silk wrapper with a band of
fur around the low neck--Miss Summers, of course, not the hot-
water bottle.

"Well!" she said, sitting down on the foot of the bed and staring
at me. "Well, young woman, for a person who has never been
farther away than Finleyville you do pretty well!"

"Do what?" I asked, with the covers up to my chin.

"Do what, Miss Innocence!" she said mockingly. "You're the only
red-haired woman I ever saw who didn't look as sophisticated as
the devil. I'll tell you one thing, though." She reached down
into the pocket of her dressing-gown and brought up a cigarette
and a match. "You never had me fooled for a minute!" She looked
at me over the match.

I lay and stared back.

"And another thing," she said. "I never had any real intention
of marrying Dicky Carter and raising a baby sanatorium. I
wouldn't have the face to ask Arabella to live here."

"I'm glad you feel that way, Miss Summers," I said. "I've gone
through a lot; I'm an old woman in the last two weeks. My hair's
falling from its having to stand up on end half the time."

She leaned over and put her cigarette on the back of my celluloid
mirror, and then suddenly she threw back her head and laughed.

"Minnie!" she said, between fits, "Minnie! As long as I live
I'll never forget that wretched boy's face! And the sand boxes!
And the blankets over the windows! And the tarpaulin over the
rafters! And Mr. Van Alstyne sitting on the lawnmower! I'd
rather have had my minute in that doorway than fifty thousand

"If you had had to carry out all those things--" I began, but she
checked me.

"Listen!" she said. "Somebody with brains has got to take you
young people in hand. You're not able to look after yourselves.
I'm fond of Alan Pierce, for one thing, and I don't care to
see a sanatorium that might have been the child of my solicitude
kidnaped and reared as a summer hotel by Papa Thoburn. A good
fat man is very, very good, Minnie, but when he is bad he is

"It's too late," I objected feebly. "He can't get it now."

"Can't he!" She got up and yawned, stretching. "Well, I'll lay
you ten to one that if we don't get busy he'll have the house
empty in thirty-six hours, and a bill of sale on it in as many

The celluloid mirror blazed up at that minute, and she poured the
contents of my water-pitcher over the dresser. For the next
hour, while I was emptying water out of the bureau drawers and
hanging up my clothes to dry, she told me what she knew of
Thoburn's scheme, and it turned me cold.

But I went to bed finally. Just as I was dozing off, somebody
opened my door, and I heard a curious scraping along the floor.
I turned on the light, and there was Arabella, half-dragging and
half-carrying a solid silver hand-mirror with a card on it: "To
Minnie, to replace the one that blew up. J. S."



Doctor Barnes came to me at the news stand the next morning
before gymnasium.

"Well," he said, "you look as busy as a dog with fleas. Have you
heard the glad tidings?"

"What?" I asked without much spirit. "I've heard considerable
tidings lately, and not much of it has cheered me up any."

He leaned over and ran his fingers up through his hair.

"You know, Miss Minnie," he said, "somebody ought kindly to kill
our friend Thoburn, or he'll come to a bad end."

"Shall I do it, or will you?" I said, filling up the chewing-gum
jar. (Mr. Pierce had taken away the candy case.)

Doctor Barnes glanced around to see if there was any one near,
and leaned farther over.

"The cupboard isn't empty now!" he said. "Not for nothing did I
spend part of the night in the Dicky-bird's nest! By the way,
did you ever hear that touching story about little Sally walking
up and laying an egg?--I see you have. What do you think is in
the cupboard?"

"I know about it," I said shortly. "Liquor--in a case labeled

"`Sing a song of sixpence, a cupboard full of rye!'" he said.
"Almost a goal! But not ONLY liquors, my little friend.
Champagne--cases of it--caviar, canned grouse with truffles,
lobster, cheeses, fine cigars, everything you could think of,
erotic, exotic and narcotic. An orgy in cans and bottles, a
bacchanalian revel: a cupboard full of indigestion, joy,
forgetfulness and katzenjammer. Oh, my suffering palate, to
have to leave it all without one sniff, one sip, one nibble!"

"He's wasting his money," I said. "They're all crazy about the
simple life."

He looked around and, seeing no one in the lobby, reached over
and took one of my hands.

"Strange," he said, looking at it. "No webs, and yet it's been
an amphibious little creature most of its life. My dear
girl, our friend Thoburn is a rascal, but he is also a student of
mankind and a philosopher. Gee," he said, "think of a woman
fighting her way alone through the world with a bit of a fist
like that!"

I jerked my hand away.

"It's like this, my dear," he said. "Human nature's a curious
thing. It's human nature, for instance, for me to be crazy about
you, when you're as hands-offish as a curly porcupine. And it is
human nature, by the same token, to like to be bullied,
especially about health, and to respect and admire the fellow who
does the bullying. That's why we were crazy about Roosevelt, and
that's why Pierce is trailing his kingly robes over them while
they lie on their faces and eat dirt--and stewed fruit."

He reached for my hand again, but I put it behind me.

"But alas," he said, "there is another side to human nature, and
our friend Thoburn has not kept a summer hotel for nothing. It
is notoriously weak, especially as to stomach. You may feed 'em
prunes and whole-wheat bread and apple sauce, and after a while
they'll forget the fat days, and remember only the lean and
hungry ones. But let some student of human nature at the proper
moment introduce just one fat day, one feast, one revel--"

"Talk English," I said sharply.

"Don't break in on my flights of fancy," he objected. "If you
want the truth, Thoburn is going to have a party--a forbidden
feast. He's going to rouse again the sleeping dogs of appetite,
and send them ravening back to the Plaza, to Sherry's and Del's
and the little Italian restaurants on Sixth Avenue. He's going
to take them up on a high mountain and show them the wines and
delicatessen of the earth, and then ask them if they're going to
be bullied into eating boiled beef and cabbage."

"Then I don't care how soon he does it," I said despondently.
"I'd rather die quickly than by inches."

"Die!" he said. "Not a bit of it. Remember, our friend Pierce
is also a student of human nature. He's thinking it out now in
the cold plunge, and I miss my guess if Thoburn's sky-rocket
hasn't got a stick that'll come back and hit him on the head."

He had been playing with one of the chewing-gum jars, and when he
had gone I shoved it back into its place. It was by the
merest chance that I glanced at it, and I saw that he had slipped
a small white box inside. I knew I was being a silly old fool,
but my heart beat fast when I took it out and looked at it. On
the lid was written "For a good girl," and inside lay the red
puffs from Mrs. Yost's window down in Finleyville. Just under
them was an envelope. I could scarcely see to open it.

"Dearest Minnie," the note inside said, "I had them matched to my
own thatch, and I think they'll match yours. And since, in the
words of the great Herbert Spencer, things that match the same
thing match each other--! What do you say?--Barnes."

"P. S.--I love you. I feel like a damn fool saying it, but
heaven knows it's true."

"P. P. S.--Still love you. It's easier the second time."

"N. B.--I love you--got the habit now and can't stop writing

Well, I had to keep calm and attend to business, but I was
seething inside like a Seidlitz powder. Every few minutes I'd
reread the letter under the edge of the stand, and the more I
read it the more excited I got. When a woman's gone past thirty
before she gets her first love-letter, she isn't sure
whether to thank providence or the man, but she's pretty
sure to make a fool of herself.

Thoburn came to the news stand on his way out with the ice-
cutting gang to the pond.

"Last call to the dining-car, Minnie," he said. "`Will you--
won't you--will you--won't you--will you join the dance?'"

"I haven't any reason for changing my plans," I retorted. "I
promised the old doctor to stick by the place, and I'm sticking."

"As the man said when he sat down on the flypaper. You're going
by your heart, Minnie, and not by your head, and in this toss,
heads win."

But with my new puffs on the back of my head, and my letter in my
pocket, I wasn't easy to discourage. Thoburn shouldered his pick
and, headed by Doctor Barnes, the ice-cutters started out in
single file. As they passed the news stand Doctor Barnes glanced
at me, and my heart almost stopped.

"Do they--is it a match?" he asked, with his eyes on mine.

I couldn't speak, but I nodded "yes," and all that afternoon I
could see the wonderful smile that lit up his face as he
went out. It made him almost good-looking. Oh, there's nothing
like love, especially if you've waited long enough to be hungry
for it, and not spoiled your taste for it by a bite here and a
piece of a heart there, beforehand, so to speak.

Miss Cobb stopped at the news stand on her way to the gymnasium.
She was a homely woman at any time, and in her bloomers she
looked like a soup-bone. Under ordinary circumstances she'd have
seen the puffs from the staircase and have asked what they cost
and told me they didn't match, in one breath. But she had
something else on her mind. She padded over to the counter in
her gym shoes, and for once she'd forgotten her legs.

"May I speak to you, Minnie?" she asked.

"You mostly do," I said. "There isn't a new rule about speaking,
is there?"

"This is important, Minnie," she said, rolling her eyes around as
she always did when she was excited. "I'm in such a state of
ex--I see you bought the puffs! Perhaps you will lend them to me
if we arrange for a country dance."

"They don't match," I objected. "They--they wouldn't look
natural, Miss Cobb."

"They don't look natural on you, either. Do you suppose anybody
believes that the Lord sent you hair in seventeen rows of pipes,
so that, red as it is, it looks like an instantaneous water-

"I'm not lending them," I said firmly. It would have been like
lending an engagement ring, to my mind. Miss Cobb was not
offended. She went at once to what had brought her, and bent
over the counter.

"Where's the Summers woman?" she asked.

"In the gym. She's made herself a new gym suit out of her polka
dotted silk, and she looks lovely."

"Humph!" retorted Miss Cobb. "Minnie, you love Miss Jennings
almost like a daughter, don't you?"

"Like a sister, Miss Cobb," I said. "I'm not feeble yet."

"Well, you wouldn't want to see her deceived."

"I wouldn't have it," I answered.

"Then what do you call this?" She put a small package on the
counter, and stared at me over it. "There's treachery here,
black treachery." She pointed one long thin forefinger at the

"What is it? A bomb?" I asked, stepping back. More than
once it had occurred to me that having royalty around sometimes
meant dynamite. Miss Cobb showed her teeth.

"Yes, a bomb," she said. "Minnie, since that creature took my
letters and my er--protectors, I have suspected her. Now listen.

Yesterday I went over the letters and I missed one that beautiful
one in verse, beginning, `Oh, creature of the slender form and
face!' Minnie, it had disappeared--melted away."

"I'm not surprised," I said.

"And so, last night, when the Summers woman was out, goodness
knows where, Blanche Moody and I went through her room. We did
not find my precious missive from Mr. Jones, but we did find
these, Minnie, tied around with a pink silk stocking."

"Heavens!" I said, mockingly. "Not a pink silk!"

"Pink," she repeated solemnly. "Minnie, I have felt it all
along. Mr. Oskar von Inwald is the prince himself."


"Yes. And more than that, he is making desperate love to
Miss Summers. Three of those letters were written in one day!
Why, even Mr. Jones--"

"The wretch!" I cried. I was suddenly savage. I wanted to take
Mr. von Inwald by the throat and choke him until his lying tongue
was black, to put the letters where Miss Patty could never see
them. I wanted--I had to stop to sell Senator Biggs some
chewing-gum, and when he had gone, Miss Cobb was reaching out for
the bundle. I snatched it from her.

"Give me those letters instantly," she cried shrilly. But I
marched from behind the counter and over to the fireplace.

"Never," I said, and put the package on the log. When they were
safely blazing, I turned and looked at Miss Cobb.

"I'd put my hand right beside those letters to save Miss Patty a
heartache," I said, "and you know it."

"You're a fool." She was raging. "You'll let her marry him and
have the heartaches afterward."

"She won't marry him," I snapped, and walked away with my chin
up, leaving her staring.

But I wasn't so sure as I pretended to be. Mr. von Inwald and
Mr. Jennings had been closeted together most of the morning, and
Mr. von Inwald was whistling as he started out for the military
walk. It seemed as if the very thing that had given Mr. Pierce
his chance to make good had improved Mr. Jennings' disposition
enough to remove the last barrier to Miss Jennings' wedding with
somebody else.

Well, what's one man's meat is another man's poison.



Even if we hadn't known, we'd have guessed there was something in
the air. There was an air of subdued excitement during the rest
hour in the spring-house, and a good bit of whispering and
laughing, in groups which would break up with faces as long as
the moral law the moment they saw my eye on them.

They were planning a mutiny, as you may say, and I guess no
sailors on a pirate ship were more afraid of the captain's fist
than they were of Mr. Pierce's disapproval. He'd been smart
enough to see that most of them, having bullied other people all
their lives, liked the novelty of being bullied themselves. And
now they were getting a new thrill by having a revolt. They were
terribly worked up.

Miss Patty stayed after the others had gone, sitting in front of
the empty fireplace in the same chair Mr. Pierce
usually took, and keeping her back to me. When I'd finished
folding the steamer rugs and putting them away, I went around and
stood in front of her.

"Your eyes are red," I remarked.

"I've got a cold." She was very haughty.

"Your nose isn't red," I insisted. "And, anyhow, you say you
never have a cold."

"I wish you would let me alone, Minnie." She turned her back to
me. "I dare say I may have a cold if I wish."

"Do you know what they are saying here?" I demanded. "Do you
know that Miss Cobb has found out in some way or other who Mr.
von Inwald is? And that the four o'clock gossip edition says
your father has given his consent and that you can go and buy a
diadem or whatever you are going to wear, right off?"

"Well," she said, in a choked voice, with her back to me, "what
of it? Didn't you and Mr. Pierce both do your best to bring it

"Our what?" I couldn't believe my ears.

"You made father well. He's so p--pleasant he'll do anything
except leave this awful place!"

"Well, of all the ungrateful people--" I began, and then Mr.
Pierce came in. He had a curious way of stopping when he saw
her, as if she just took the wind out of his sails, so to speak,
and then of whipping off his hat, if anything with sails can wear
a hat, and going up to her with his heart in his eyes. He always
went straight to her and stopped suddenly about two feet away,
trying to think of something ordinary to say. Because the
extraordinary thing he wanted to say was always on the end of his

But this day he didn't light up when he saw her. He went through
all the other motions, but his mouth was set in a straight line,
and when he came close to her and looked down his eyes were hard.

It's been my experience of men that the younger they are the
harder they take things and the more uncompromising they are. It
takes a good many years and some pretty hard knocks to make
people tolerant.

"I was looking for you," he said to her. "The bishop has just
told me. There are no obstacles now."

"None," she said, looking up at him with wretchedness in her
eyes, if he had only seen. "I am very happy."

"She was just saying," I said bitterly, "how grateful she was to
both of us."

"I don't understand."

"It is not hard to understand," she said, smiling. I wanted to
slap her. "Father was unreasonable because he was ill. You have
made him well. I can never thank you enough."

But she rather overdid the joy part of it, and he leaned over and
looked in her face.

"I think I'm stupid," he said. "I know I'm unhappy. But isn't
that what I was to do--to make them well if I could?"

"How could anybody know--" she began angrily, and then stopped.
"You have done even more," she said sweetly. "You've turned them
into cherubims and seraphims. Butter wouldn't melt in their
mouths. Ugh! How I hate amiability raised to the NTH power!"

He smiled. I think it was getting through his thick man's skull
that she wasn't so happy as she should have been, and he was
thrilled through and through.

"My amiability must be the reason you dislike me!" he suggested.
They had both forgotten me.

"Do I dislike you?" she asked, raising her eyebrows. "I never
really thought about it, but I'm sure I don't." She didn't look
at him, she looked at me. She knew I knew she lied.

His smile faded.

"Well," he said, "speaking of disliking amiability, you don't
hate yourself, I'm sure."

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