Part 5 out of 5
"You are wrong," she retorted, "I loathe myself." And she walked
to the window. He took a step or two after her.
"Why do it at all?" he asked in a low tone. "You don't love
him--you can't. And if it isn't love--" He remembered me
suddenly and stopped.
"Please go on," she said sweetly from the window. "Do not mind
Minnie. She is my conscience, anyhow. She is always scolding
me; you might both scold in chorus."
"I wouldn't presume to scold."
"Then give me a little advice and look superior and righteous.
I'm accustomed to that also."
"As long as you are in this mood, I can't give you anything but a
very good day," he said angrily, and went toward the door.
But when he had almost reached it he turned.
"I will say this," he said, "you have known for three days that
Mr. Thoburn was going to have a supper to-night, and you didn't
let us know. You must have known his purpose."
I guess I was as surprised as she was. I'd never suspected she
She looked at him over her shoulder.
"Why shouldn't he have a supper?" she demanded angrily. "I'm
starving--we're all starving for decent food. I'm kept here
against my will. Why shouldn't I have one respectable meal? You
with your wretched stewed fruits and whole-wheat breads! Ugh!"
"I'm sorry. Thoburn's idea, of course, is to make the guests
discontented, so they will leave."
"Oh!" she said. She hadn't thought of that, and she flushed.
"At least," she said, "you must give me credit for not trying to
spoil Dick and Dolly's chance here."
"We are going to allow the party to go on," he said, still stiff
and uncompromising. It would have been better if he'd accepted
her bit of apology.
"How kind of you! I dare say he would have it, anyhow." She was
"Probably. And you--will go?"
"Even when the result--"
"Oh, don't preach!" she said, putting her hands to her ears. "If
you and Minnie want to preach, why don't you preach at each
other? Minnie talks `love, love, love.' And you preach health
and morality. You drive me crazy between you."
"Suppose," he said with a gleam in his eyes, "suppose I preach
`love, love, love!'"
She put her fingers in her ears again. "Say it to Minnie," she
cried, and turned her back to him.
"Very well," he said. "Minnie, Miss Jennings refuses to listen,
and there are some things I must say. Once again I am going to
register a protest against her throwing herself away in a
loveless marriage. I--I feel strongly on the subject, Minnie."
She half turned, as if to interrupt. Then she thought better of
it and kept her fingers in her ears, her face flushed. But he
had learned what he hoped--that she could hear him.
"You ask me why I feel so strongly, Minnie, and you are
right to ask. Under ordinary circumstances, Minnie, any remark
of mine on the subject would be ridiculous impertinence."
He stopped and eyed her back, but she did not move.
"It is impertinence under any circumstances, but consider the
provocation. I see a young, beautiful and sensitive girl,
marrying, frankly without love, a man whom I know to be unworthy,
and you ask me to stand aside and allow it to happen!"
"Are you still preaching?" she asked coldly over her shoulder.
"It must be a long sermon."
And then, knowing he had only a moment more, his voice changed
and became deep and earnest. His hands, that were clutching a
chair-back, took a stronger hold, so that the ends of the nails
"You see, Minnie," he said, turning a little pale, "I--I love
Miss Jennings myself. You have known it a long time, for you
love her, too. It has come to the point that I measure the day
by the hours when I can see her. She doesn't care for me;
sometimes I think she hates me." He paused here, but Miss Patty
didn't move. "I haven't anything to offer a woman except a
clean life and the kind of love that a woman could be proud of.
I have no title--"
Miss Patty suddenly took her fingers out of her ears and turned
around. She was flushed and shaken, but she looked past him
without blinking an eyelash to me.
"Dear me," she said, "the sermon must have been exciting, Minnie!
You are quite trembly!"
And with that she picked up her muff and went out, with not a
glance at him.
He looked at me.
"Well," he said, "THAT'S over. She's angry, Minnie, and
she'll never forgive me."
"Stuff!" I snapped, "I notice she waited to hear it all, and no
real woman ever hated a man for saying he loved her,"
A BIG NIGHT TO-NIGHT
I carried out the supper to the shelter-house as usual that
night, but I might have saved myself the trouble. Mrs. Dicky was
sitting on a box, with her hair in puffs and the folding card-
table before her, and Mr. Dick was uncorking a bottle of
champagne with a nail. There were two or three queer-smelling
cans open on the table.
Mrs. Dick looked at my basket and turned up her nose.
"Put it anywhere, Minnie," she said loftily, "I dare say it
doesn't contain anything reckless."
"Cold ham and egg salad," I said, setting it down with a slam.
"Stewed prunes and boiled rice for dessert. If those cans taste
as they smell, you'd better keep the basket to fall back on.
Where'd you get THAT?" Mr. Dick looked at me over
the bottle and winked. "In the next room," he said, "iced to the
proper temperature, paid for by somebody else, and coming after a
two-weeks' drought! Minnie, there isn't a shadow on my joy!"
"He'll miss it," I said. But Mr. Dick was pouring out three
large tumblersful of the stuff, and he held one out to me.
"Miss it!" he exclaimed. "Hasn't he been out three times to-day,
tapping his little CACHE? And didn't he bring out Moody and
the senator and von Inwald this afternoon, and didn't they sit in
the next room there from two to four, roaring songs and cracking
bottles and jokes."
"Beasts!" Mrs. Dicky said savagely. "Two hours, and we daren't
"Drink, pretty creature!" Mr. Dick said, motioning to my glass.
"Don't be afraid of it, Minnie; it's food and drink."
"I don't like it," I said, sipping at it. "I'd rather have the
"You'll have to cultivate a taste for it," he explained. "You'll
like the second half better."
I got it down somehow and started for the door. Mr. Dick
came after me with something that smelled fishy on the end of a
"Better eat something," he suggested. "That was considerable
"Stuff and nonsense," I said. "I was tired and it has rested me.
That's all, Mr. Dick."
"Certainly," I said with dignity, "I'm really rested, Mr. Dick.
And happy--I'm very happy, Mr. Dick."
"Perhaps I'd better close the door," he said. "The light may be
"You needn't close it until I've finished talking," I said.
"I've done my best for you and yours, Mr. Dick. I hope you
appreciate it. Night after night I've tramped out here through
the snow, and lost sleep, and lied myself black in the face--
you've no idea how I've had to lie, Mr. Dick."
"Come in and shut the door, Dick," Mrs. Dick called, "I'm
That made me mad.
"Exactly," I said, glaring at her through the doorway.
"Exactly--I can wade through the snow, bringing you meals that
you scorn--oh, yes, you scorn them. What did you do to the
basket tonight? Look at it, lying there, neglected in a corner,
with p--perfectly good ham and stewed fruit in it."
All of a sudden I felt terrible about the way they had treated
the basket, and I sat down on the steps and began to cry. I
remember that, and Mr. Dick sitting down beside me and putting
his arm around me and calling me "good old Minnie," and for
heaven's sake not to cry so loud. But I was past caring. I had
a sort of recollection of his getting me to stand up, and our
walking through about twenty-one miles of snow to the spring-
house. When we got there he stood off in the twilight and looked
"I'm sorry, Minnie," he said, "I never dreamed it would do that."
"Nothing. You're sure you won't forget?"
"I never forget," I said. I had got up the steps by this time
and was trying to figure why the spring-house door had two knobs.
I hadn't any idea what he meant.
"Remember," he said, very slowly, "Thoburn is going to have his
party to-night instead of to-morrow. Tell Pierce that. To-
night, not to-morrow." I was pretty well ashamed when I got in
the spring-house and sat down in the dark. I kept saying over
and over to myself, so I'd not forget, "tonight, not to-morrow,"
but I couldn't remember WHAT was to be to-night. I was
sleepy, too, and my legs were cold and numb. I remember going
into the pantry for a steamer rug, and sitting down there for a
minute, with the rug around my knees before I started to the
house. And that is all I DO remember.
I was wakened by a terrible hammering in the top of my head. I
reached out for the glass of water that I always put beside my
bed at night and I touched a door-knob instead. Then I realized
that the knocking wasn't all in my head. There was a sort of
steady movement of feet on the other side of the door, with
people talking and laughing. And above it all rose the steady
knock--knock of somebody beating on tin.
"Can't do it." It was the bishop's voice. "I am convinced that
nothing but dynamite will open this tin of lobster."
"Just a moment, Bishop," Mr. Thoburn's voice and the clink of
bottles, "I have a can opener somewhere. You'll find the sauce a
"Here, somebody, a glass, quick! A bottle's broken!"
"Did anybody remember to bring salt and pepper?"
"DEAR Mr. Thoburn!" It sounded like Miss Cobb. "Think of
thinking of all this!"
"The credit is not mine, dear lady," Mr. Thoburn said. "Where
the deuce is that corkscrew? No, dear lady, man makes his own
destiny, but his birth date remains beyond his control."
"Ladies and gentlemen," somebody said, "to Mr. Thoburn's birthday
being beyond his control!"
There was the clink of glasses, but I had remembered what it had
been that I was to remember. And now it was too late. I was
trapped in the pantry of my spring-house and Mr. Pierce was
probably asleep. I clutched my aching head and tried to think.
I was roused by hearing somebody say that Miss Jennings had no
glass, and by steps nearing the pantry. I had just time to slip
"Pantry's locked !" said a voice.
"Drat that Minnie!" somebody else said. "The girl's a nuisance."
"Hush!" Miss Summers said. "She's probably in there now--taking
down what we say and what we eat. Convicting us out of our own
I held my breath and the knob rattled. Then they found a glass
for Miss Patty and forgot the pantry.
Under cover of the next burst of noises I tried the pantry
window, but it was frozen shut. Nothing but a hammer would have
loosened it. I began to dig at it with a wire hairpin, but I
hadn't much hope.
The fun in the spring-house was getting fast and furious. Miss
Summers was leaning against the pantry door and I judged that
most of the men in the room were around her, as usual. I put my
ear to the panel of the door, and I could pretty nearly see what
was going on. They were toasting Mr. Thoburn, and getting
hungrier every minute as the supper was put out on the card-
"To the bottle!" somebody said. "In infancy, the milk bottle; in
our prime, the wine bottle; in our dotage, the pill bottle."
Mr. von Inwald came over and stood beside Miss Summers, and I
could hear every whisper.
"I have good news for you," she said in an undertone.
"Oh! And what?"
"Sh! You may recall," she said, "the series of notes, letters,
epistles, with which you have been honoring me lately?"
"How could I forget? They were written in my heart's blood!"
"Indeed!" Her voice lifted its eyebrows, so to speak. "Well,
somebody got in my room last night and stole I dare say a pint of
your heart's blood. They're gone."
He was pretty well upset, as he might be, and she stood by and
listened to the things he said, which, if they were as bad in
English as they sounded in German, I wouldn't like to write down.
And when he cooled down and condensed, as you may say, into
English, he said Miss Jennings must have seen the letters, for
she would hardly speak to him. And Miss Summers said she hoped
Miss Jennings had--she was too nice a girl to treat shamefully.
And after he had left her there alone, I heard a sort of
scratching on the door behind Miss Summers' back, and then
something being shoved under the door. I stooped down and picked
it up. It was a key!
I struck a match, and I saw by the tag that it was the one to the
old doctor's rooms. I knew right off what it meant. Mr. Pierce
had gone to bed, or pretended to throw them off the track and
Thoburn had locked him in! Thoburn hadn't taken any chances. He
knew the influence Mr. Pierce had over them all, and he and his
champagne and tin cans had to get in their work before Mr. Pierce
had another chance at them.
I had no time to wonder how Miss Summers knew I was in the
pantry. I tried the window again, but it wouldn't work.
Somebody in the spring-house was shouting, "`Hot butter blue
beans, please come to supper!'" and I could hear them crowding
around the tables. I worked frantically with the hairpin, and
just then two shadowy figures outside slipped around the corner
of the building. It was Mr. Pierce and Doctor Barnes!
I darted back and put my ear to the door, but they did not come
in at once. Mr, Thoburn made a speech, saying how happy he
was that they were all well and able to go back to civilization
again, where the broiled lobster flourished like a green bay tree
and the prune and the cabbage were unknown.
There was loud applause, and then Senator Biggs cleared his
"Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished fellow guests," he began, "I
suggest a toast to the autocrat of Hope Springs. It is the only
blot on the evening, that, owing to the exigencies of the
occasion, he can not be with us. Securely fastened in his room,
he is now sleeping the sleep that follows a stomach attuned to
prunes, a mind attuned to rule."
"Eat, drink and be merry!" somebody said, "for to-morrow you
There was a swish and rustle, as if a woman got up in a hurry.
"Do you mean," said Miss Patty's clear voice, "that you have
dared to lock Mr. Pier--Mr. Carter in his room?"
"My dear young lady," several of them began, but she didn't give
"It is outrageous, infamous!" she stormed. I didn't need to see
her to know how she looked.
"How DARE you! Suppose the building should catch fire!"
"Fire!" somebody said in a bewildered voice. "My dear young
"Don't `my dear young lady' me," she said angrily. "Father,
Bishop, will you stand for this? Why, he may jump out the window
and hurt himself! Give me the key!"
Miss Julia's fingers were beating a tatoo behind her, as if she
was afraid I might miss it.
"If he jumps out he probably will hurt himself. It is impossible
to release him now, Miss Jennings, but if you insist we can have
a mattress placed under the window."
"Thanks, Thoburn. It won't be necessary." The voice came from
the door, and a hush fell on the party. I slipped my bolt and
peeped out. Framed in the doorway was Mr. Pierce, with Doctor
Barnes looking over his shoulder.
The people in the spring-house were abject. That's the only word
for it. Craven, somebody suggested later, and they were that,
too. They smiled sickly grins and tried to be defiant, and most
of them tried to put down whatever they held in their hands
and to look innocent. If you ever saw a boy when his school-
teacher asks him what he has in his mouth, and multiply the boy
thirty times in number and four times in size, you'll know how
Mr. Pierce never smiled. He wouldn't let them speak a word in
defense or explanation. He simply lined them up as he did at
gym, and sent them, one by one, to the corner with whatever they
had in their hands. He made Mr. Jennings give up a bottle of
anchovies that he'd stuffed in his pocket, and the bishop had to
come over with a cheese.
And when it was all over, he held the door open and they went
back to the house. They fairly ducked past him in the doorway,
although he hadn't said a dozen words. It was a rout. The
backbone of the rebellion was broken. I knew that never again
would the military discipline of Hope Springs be threatened.
Thoburn might as well pack and go. It was Mr. Pierce's day.
Mr. von Inwald was almost the last. He stood by, sneering, with
an open bottle of olives in his hand, watching the others go out.
Mr. Pierce held the door open and eyed him.
"I'll trouble you to put that bottle with the others, in the
corner," Mr. Pierce said sternly.
They stood glaring at each other angrily.
"And if I refuse?"
"You know the rules here. If you refuse, there is a hotel at
Mr. von Inwald glanced past Mr. Pierce to where Doctor Barnes
stood behind him, with his cauliflower ear and his pugilist's
shoulders. Then he looked at the bottle in his hand, and from it
to Miss Patty, standing haughtily by.
"I have borne much for you, Patricia," he said, "but I refuse to
be bullied any longer. I shall go to the hotel at Finleyville,
and I shall take the little olives with me." He smiled
unpleasantly at Mr. Pierce, whose face did not relax.
He walked jauntily to the door and turned, flourishing the
bottle. "The land of the free and the home of the brave!" he
sneered, raising the bottle in the air. Standing jeering in the
doorway, he bowed to Miss Patty and Mr. Pierce, and put an olive
into his mouth.
But instantly he made a terrible face, and clapped a hand
just in front of his left ear. He stood there a moment, his face
distorted--then he darted into
the night, and I never saw him again.
"Mumps!" Doctor Barnes ejaculated, and stood staring after him
from the steps.
LET GOOD DIGESTION
There was no one left but Miss Patty. As she started out past
him with a crimson spot in each cheek Mr. Pierce put his hand on
her arm. She hesitated, and he closed the door on Doctor Barnes
and put his back against it. I had just time to slip back into
the pantry and shut myself in.
For a minute there wasn't a sound. Then--
"I told you I should come," Miss Patty said, in her haughtiest
manner. "You need not trouble to be disagreeable."
"Disagreeable!" he repeated. "I am abject!"
"I don't understand," she said. "But you needn't explain. It
really does not matter."
"It matters to me. I had to do this to-night. I promised you I
would make good, and if I had let this pass--Don't you see, I
couldn't let it go."
"You can let me go, now."
"Not until I have justified myself to you."
"I am not interested."
I heard him take a step or two toward her.
"I don't quite believe that," he said in a low tone. "You were
interested in what I said here this afternoon."
"I didn't hear it."
"None of it?"
"I spoke, you remember, about your sister, and about Dick--" he
paused. I could imagine her staring at him in her wide-eyed way.
"You never mentioned them!" she said scornfully and stopped. He
laughed, a low laugh, boyish and full of triumph.
"Ah!" he said. "So you DID hear! I'm going to say it again,
anyhow. I love you, Patty. I'm--I'm mad for you. I've loved
you hopelessly for so long that to-night, when there's a ray of
hope, I'm--I'm hardly sane. I--"
"Please!" she said.
"I love you so much that I waken at night just to say your
name, over and over, and when dawn comes through the windows--"
"You don't know what you are saying!" she said wildly. "I am--
"I welcome the daylight," he went on, talking very fast, "because
it means another day when I can see you. If it sounds foolish,
it's--it's really lots worse than it sounds, Patty."
The door opened just then, and Doctor Barnes' voice spoke from
"I say," he complained, "you needn't--"
"Get out!" Mr. Pierce said angrily, and the door slammed. The
second's interruption gave him time, I think, to see how far he'd
gone, and his voice, when he spoke again, was not so hopeful.
"I'm not pleading my cause," he said humbly, "I know I haven't
any cause. I have nothing to offer you."
"You said this afternoon," Miss Patty said softly, "that you
could offer me the--the kind of love that a woman could be proud
She finished off with a sort of gasp, as if she was shocked at
herself. I was so excited that my heart beat a tatoo against my
ribs, and without my being conscious of it, as you may say,
the pantry door opened about an inch and I found myself with an
eye to the crack.
They were standing facing each other, he all flushed and eager
and my dear Miss Patty pale and trembly. But she wasn't shy.
She was looking straight into his eyes and her blessed lips were
"How can you care?" she asked, when he only stood and looked at
her. "I've been such a--such a selfish beast!"
"Hush!" He leaned toward her, and I held my breath. "You are
everything that is best in the world, and I--what can I offer
you? I have nothing, not even this sanatorium! No money, no
"Oh, THAT!" she interrupted, and stood waiting. "Well, you--
you could at least offer yourself!"
She went right over to him and put her hands on his shoulders.
"And if you won't," she said, "I'll offer myself instead!"
His arms went around her like a flash at that, and he kissed
her. I've seen a good many kisses in my day, the spring-house
walk being a sort of lover's lane, but they were generally of the
quick-get-away variety. This was different. He just gathered
her up to him and held her close, and if she was one-tenth as
much thrilled as I was in the pantry she'd be ready to die
Then, without releasing her, he raised his head, with such a look
of victory in his face that I still see it sometimes in my sleep,
and his eye caught mine through the crack.
But if I'd looked to see him drop her I was mistaken. He drew
her up and kissed her again, but this time on the forehead. And
when he'd let her go and she had dropped into a chair and hid her
shining face against the back, as if she was ashamed, which she
might well be, he stood laughing over her bent head at me.
"Come out, Minnie!" he called. "Come out and hear the good
"Hear!" I said, "I've seen all the news I want."
"Gracious!" Miss Patty said, and buried her head again. But he
had reached the shameless stage; a man who is really in love
always seems to get to that point sooner or later. He stooped
kissed the back of her neck, and if his hand shook when he pushed
in one of her shell hairpins it was excitement and not fright.
"I hardly realize it, Minnie," he said. "I don't deserve her for
"Certainly not," I said.
"He does." Miss Patty's voice smothered. Then she got up and
came over to me.
"There is going to be an awful fuss, Minnie," she said. "Think
of Aunt Honoria--and Oskar!"
"Let them fuss!" I said grandly. "If the worst comes, you can
spend your honeymoon in the shelter-house. I'm so used to
carrying meals there now that it's second nature."
And at that they both made for me, and as Mr. Pierce kissed me
Doctor Barnes opened the door. He stood for a moment, looking
queer and wild, and then he slammed the door and we heard him
stamping down the steps.
Mr. Pierce had to bring him back.
Well, that's all there is to it. The place filled up and stayed
filled, but not under Mr. Pierce. Mr. Jennings said ability
of his kind was wasted there, once the place was running, and set
him to building a railroad somewhere or other, with him and Miss
Patty living in a private car, and he carrying a portable
telephone with him so he can talk to her every hour or so. Mr.
Dick and his wife are running the sanatorium, or think they are.
Doctor Barnes is the whole place, really. Mr. Jennings was so
glad to have Miss Patty give up the prince and send him back
home, after he'd been a week in the hotel at Finleyville looking
as if his face would collapse if you stuck a pin in it--Mr.
Jennings was so happy, not to mention having worked off his gout
at the wood-pile, that he forgave the Dickys without any trouble,
and even went out and had a meal with them in the shelter-house
before they moved in, with Mr. Dick making the coffee.
I miss the spring, as I said at the beginning. It is hard to
teach an old dog new tricks, but with Miss Patty happy, and with
Doctor Barnes around--
Thoburn came out the afternoon before he left, just after the
rest hour, and showed me how much too loose his waistcoat had
"I've lost, Minnie," he confessed. "Lost fifteen pounds and
the dream of my life. But I've found something, too."
"My waist line!" he said, and threw his chest out.
"You look fifteen years younger," I said, and at that he came
over to me and took my hand.
"Minnie," he said, "maybe you and I haven't always agreed, but
I've always liked you, Minnie--always."
"Thanks," I said, taking my hand away.
"You've got all kinds of spirit," he said. "You've saved the
place, all right. And if you--if you tire of this, and want
another home, I've got one, twelve rooms, center hall, tiled
baths, cabinet mantels--I'd be good to you, Minnie. The right
woman could do anything with me."
When I grasped what he meant, I was staggered.
"I'm sorry," I explained, as gently as I could. "I'm--I'm going
to marry Doctor Barnes one of these days."
He stared at me. Then he laughed a little and went toward the
"Barnes!" he said, turning. "Another redhead, by gad! Well,
I'll tell you this, young woman, you're red, but he's
redder. Your days for running things to suit yourself are over."
"I'm glad of it," I retorted. "I want to be managed myself for a
change. Somebody," I said, "who won't be always thinking how he
feels, unless it's how he feels toward me."
"Bah! He'll bully you."
"`It's human nature to like to be bullied,'" I quoted. "And I
guess I'm not afraid. He's healthy and a healthy man's never a
"A case of yours for health, eh?" he said, and held out his hand.