Part 5 out of 7
on the Hill waiting? What were young men made of nowadays? Didn't Philip
Lambert know that you could lose a woman forever if you didn't jump
lively? Hanged if he wouldn't call the boy this minute and tell him he
just had to change his mind and go to Crest House that very morning
without a moment's delay. Delay might be fatal. Harrison Cressy sat up in
bed, fumbled for his slippers, shook his head gloomily and returned to
his place under the covers.
It wasn't any use. He might as well give up. He couldn't make Philip
Lambert do anything he did not want to do. He had tried it twice and
failed ignominiously both times. He wouldn't tackle it again. The boy was
stronger than he was. He had to lie back and let things take their course
as best they might.
"Cheer up! Cheer up!" counseled the robins outside, but millionaire
Cressy heeded not their injunctions. The balloon of his hopes lay pricked
and flat in the dust.
He rose, dressed, breakfasted and discovered there was an eleven o'clock
train for Boston. He discovered also that he hadn't the slightest wish to
take it. He did not want to go to Boston. He did not want to go to Crest
House. And very particularly and definitely he did not want to see his
daughter Carlotta. Carlotta might ferret out his errand to Dunbury and be
bitterly angry at his interference with her affairs. Even if she were not
angry how could he meet her without telling her everything, including
things that were the boy's right to tell? It was safer to stay away from
Crest House entirely. That was it. He would telegraph Carlotta his gout
was worse, that he had gone to the country to take a cure. He would be
Immensely heartened he dispatched the wire. By this time it was
ten-thirty and the dew on the grass was all dry, the morning glories shut
tight and the robins vanished. The church bells were ringing again
however and Harrison Cressy decided to go to church, the white Methodist
church on the common. He wouldn't meet any of the Hill people there. The
Holidays were Episcopal, the Lamberts Unitarian--a loose, heterodox kind
of creed that. He wished Phil were Methodist. It would have given him
something to go by. Then he grinned a bit sheepishly at his own expense
and shook his head. He had had the Methodist creed to go by himself and
much good had it done him. Maybe it did not make so much difference what
you believed. It was how you acted that mattered. Why that was
Unitarianism itself, wasn't it? Queer. Maybe there was something in it
Seated in the little church Harrison Cressy hardly listened to the
preacher's droning voice. He followed his own trend of thought instead,
recalling long-forgotten scriptural passages. "What shall it profit a man
though he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" was one of the
recurring phrases. He applied it to Philip Lambert, applied it sadly to
himself and with a shake of his head to his daughter, Carlotta. He
remembered too the story of the rich young man. Had he made Carlotta as
the rich young man, cumbered her with so many worldly possessions and
standards that by his own hand he was keeping her out of the heaven of
happiness she might have otherwise inherited? He feared so.
He bowed his head with the others but he did not pray. He could not. He
was too unhappy. And yet who knows? Perhaps his unwonted clarity of
vision and humility of soul were acceptable that morning in lieu of
prayer to Sandalphou.
As he ate his solitary dinner his despondency grew upon him. He felt
almost positive Philip would fail in his mission, that Carlotta would go
her willful way to regret and disillusionment, and all these things gone
irretrievably wrong would be at bottom his own fault.
Later he endeavored to distract himself from his dreary thoughts by
discoursing with his neighbor on the veranda, a tall, grizzled, soldierly
looking gentleman with shrewd but kind eyes and the brow of a scholar.
As they talked desultorily a group of khaki clad youngsters filed past,
Philip Lambert among them, looking only an older and taller boy in their
midst. The lads looked happy, alert, vigorous, were of clean, upstanding
type, the pick of the town it seemed probable to Harrison Cressy who said
as much to his companion.
The other smiled and shook his head.
"You are mistaken, sir," he said. "Three months ago most of those fellows
were riffraff--the kind that hang around street corners smoking and
indulging in loose talk and profanity. Young Lambert, the chap with them,
their Scout-master, picked that kind from choice, turned down a
respectable church-mothered bunch for this one, left the other for a man
who wanted an easier row to hoe. It was some stunt, as the boys say. It
took a man like Phil Lambert to put it through. He has the crowd where he
wants them now though. They would go through fire and water if he led
them and he is a born leader."
Harrison Cressy's eyes followed the departing group. Here was a new light
on his hoped-for son-in-law. So he picked "publicans-and sinners" to eat
with. Mr. Cressy rather liked that. He hated snobs and pharisees,
couldn't stomach either brand.
"It means a good deal to a town like this when its college-bred boys come
back and lend a hand like that," the other man went on. "So many of them
rush off to the cities thinking there isn't scope enough for their
ineffable wisdom and surpassing talents in their own home town. A number
of people prophesied that young Lambert would do the same instead of
settling down with his father as we all wanted him to do. I wasn't much
afraid of that myself. Phil has sense enough to see rather straight
usually. He did about that. And then the kickers put up a howl that he
had a swelled head, felt above the rest of Dunbury because he had a
college education and his father was getting to be one of the most
prosperous men in town. They complained he wouldn't go in for things the
rest of the town was interested in, kept to himself when he was out of
the store. There were some grounds for the kick I will admit. But it
wasn't a month before he got his bearings, had his head out of the clouds
and was in the thick of everything. They swear by him now almost as much
as they do by his father which is saying a good deal for Dunbury has
revolved about Stuart Lambert for years. It is beginning to revolve about
Stuart Lambert and Son now. But I am boring you with all this. Phil
happens to be rather a favorite of mine."
"You know him well?" questioned Mr. Cressy.
"I ought to. I am Robert Caldwell, principal of the High School here.
I've known Phil since he was in knickerbockers and had him under my
direct eye for four years. He kept my eye sufficiently busy at that," he
added with a smile. "There wasn't much mischief that youngster and a
neighbor of his, young Ted Holiday, didn't get into. Maybe that is why he
is such a success with the black sheep," he added with a nod in the
direction in which the khaki-clad lads had gone.
"H-mm," observed Mr. Cressy. "I am rather glad to hear all this. You see
it happens that I came to Dunbury to offer Philip Lambert a position. My
name's Cressy--Harrison Cressy," he explained.
His companion lifted his eye-brows a little dubiously.
"I see. I didn't know I was discussing a young man you knew well enough
to offer a position to. May I ask if he accepted it?" "He did not,"
admitted Harrison Cressy grimly.
"Turned it down, eh?" The school man looked interested.
"Turned it down, man? He made the proposition look flatter than a last
year's pan-cake and it was a mighty good proposition. At least I thought
it was," the magnate added with a faint grin remembering all that went
with that proposition.
Robert Caldwell smiled. He rather liked the idea of one of his boys
making a proposition of millionaire Cressy's look like a last year's
pan-cake. It was what he would have expected of Phil Lambert.
"I am sorry for you, Mr. Cressy," he said. "But I am glad for Dunbury.
Philip is the kind we need right here."
"He is the kind we need right everywhere," grunted Mr. Cressy. "Only we
can't get 'em. They aren't for sale."
"No," agreed Robert Caldwell. "They are not for sale. Ah, the Boston
train must be in. There is the stage."
Mr. Cressy allowed his eyes to stray idly to the arriving bus and the
Suddenly he stiffened.
"Good Lord!" he ejaculated, an exclamation called forth by the fact that
the last person to alight from the bus was a slim young person in a trim,
tailored, navy blue suit and a tiny black velvet toque whose air bespoke
Paris, a person with eyes which were precisely the color of violets which
grow in the deepest woods.
A little later Harrison Cressy sat in a deep leather upholstered chair in
his bedroom with his daughter Carlotta in his lap.
"Don't try to deceive me, Daddy darling," Carlotta was saying. "You were
worried--dreadfully worried because your little Carlotta wept salt tears
all over your shirt bosom. You thought that Carlotta must not be allowed
to be unhappy. Wars, earthquakes, ship sinkings, wrecks--anything might
be allowed to go on as usual but not Carlotta unhappy. You thought that,
didn't you, Daddy darling?"
Daddy darling pleaded guilty.
"Of course you did, you old dear. The moment I knew you were in Dunbury I
knew what you were up to. I understand perfectly how your mind works. I
ought to. Mine works very much the same way. It is a simple three stage
operation. First we decide we want a thing. Next we decide the surest,
quickest way to get it and third--we get it. At least we usually do. We
must do ourselves that much justice, must we not, Daddy darling?"
Daddy darling merely grunted.
"You came to Dunbury to tell Phil he had to marry me because I was in
love with him and wanted to marry him. He couldn't very well marry me and
keep on living in Dunbury because I wouldn't care to live in Dunbury.
Therefore he would have to emigrate to a place I would care to live in
and he couldn't very well do that unless he had a very considerable
income because spending money was one of my favorite sports both indoor
and outdoor and I wouldn't be happy if I didn't keep right on playing it
to the limit. Therefore, again, the very simple solution of the whole
thing was for you to offer Phil a suitable salary so that we could marry
at once and live in the suitable place and say, 'Go to it. Bless you my
children. Bring on your wedding bells--I mean bills. I'll foot 'em.' Put
in the rough, that was the plan wasn't it, my dear parent?"
"Practically," admitted the dear parent with a wry grin. "How did you
work it out so accurately?"
Carlotta made a face at him.
"I worked it out so accurately because it was all old stuff. The plan
wasn't at all original with you. I drew the first draft of it myself last
June up on the top of Mount Tom, took Phil up there on purpose indeed to
exhibit it to him."
"Humph!" muttered Harrison Cressy.
"Unfortunately Phil didn't at all care for the exhibit because it
happened that I had fallen in love with a man instead of a puppet. I
could have told you coming to Dunbury was no earthly use if you had
consulted me. Phil did not take to your plan, did he?"
"He did not."
"And he told you--he didn't care for me any more?" Carlotta's voice was
suddenly a little low.
"He did not. In fact I gathered he was fair-to-middling fond of you
still, in spite of your abominable behavior."
"Phil, didn't say I had behaved abominably Daddy. You know he didn't. He
might think it but he wouldn't ever say it--not to you anyway."
"He didn't. That is my contribution and opinion. Carlotta, I wish to the
Lord Harry you would marry Philip Lambert!"
Carlotta's lovely eyes flashed surprise and delight before she
"But, Daddy," she said. "He hasn't got very much money. And it takes a
great deal of money for me."
"You had better learn to get along with less then," snapped Harrison
Cressy. "I tell you, Carlotta, money is nothing--the stupidest, most
useless, rottenest stuff in the world."
Carlotta opened her eyes very wide.
"Is that what you thought when you came to Dunbury?" she asked gravely.
"No. It is what I have learned to think since I have been in Dunbury."
"But you--you wouldn't want me to live here?" probed Carlotta.
"My child, I would rather you would live here than any place in the whole
world. I've traveled a million miles since I saw you last, been back in
the past with your mother. Things look different to me now. I don't want
what I did for you. At least what I want hasn't changed. That is the same
always--your happiness. But I have changed my mind as to what makes for
"I am awfully glad, Daddy darling," sighed Carlotta snuggling closer in
his arms. "Because I came up here on purpose to tell you that I've
changed my mind too. If Dunbury is good for gout maybe--maybe it will be
good for what ails me. Do you think it might, Daddy?" For answer he held
her very tight.
"Do you mean it, child? Are you here to tell that lad of yours you are
ready to come up his Hill to him?"
"If--if he still wants me," faltered Carlotta. "I'll have to find that
out for myself. I'll know as soon as I see Phil. There won't anything
have to be said. I am afraid there has been too much talking already. You
shouldn't have told him I cried," reproachfully.
"How could I help it? That is, how the deuce did you know I did?"
floundered the trapped parent.
"Daddy! You know you played on Phil's sympathy every way you could. It
was awful. At least it would have been awful if you had bought him
with my silly tears after you failed to buy him with your silly money.
But he didn't give in even for a moment--even when you told him I
cried, did he?"
"Not even then. But that doesn't mean he doesn't care. He--"
But Carlotta's hand was over his mouth at that. How much Phil cared she
wanted to hear from nobody but from Phil himself.
Philip Lambert found a queer message waiting for him when he came in from
his hike. Some mysterious person who would give no name had telephoned
requesting him to be at the top of Sunset Hill at precisely seven o'clock
to hear some important information which vitally concerned the firm of
Stuart Lambert and Son.
"Sounds like a hoax of some sort," remarked Phil. "But Lizzie has been
chafing at the bit all day in the garage and I don't mind a ride. Come
on, Dad, let's see what this bunk means."
Stuart Lambert smiled assent. And at precisely seven o'clock when dusk
was settling gently over the valley and the glory in the western sky was
beginning to fade into pale heliotrope and rose tints Lizzie brought the
two Lamberts to the crest of Sunset Hill where another car waited, a
hired car from the Eagle garage.
From the tonneau of the other car Harrison Cressy stepped out, somewhat
ponderously, followed by some one else, some one all in white with hair
that shone pure gold even in the gathering twilight.
Phil made one leap and in another moment, before the eyes of his father
and Carlotta's, not to mention the interested stare of the Eagle garage
chauffeur, he swept his far-away princess into his arms. There was no
need of anybody's trying to make Carlotta see. Love had opened her
eyes. The two fathers smiled at each other, both a little glad and a
"Brother Lambert," said Mr. Cressy. "Suppose you and I ride down the
hill. I rather think this spot belongs to the children."
"So it seems," agreed Stuart Lambert. "We will leave Lizzie for
chaperone. I think there will be a moon later."
"Exactly. There always was a moon, I believe. It is quite customary."
As Stuart Lambert got out of the small car Philip and Carlotta came to
him hand-in-hand like happy children.
Carlotta slipped away from Phil, put out both hands to his father. He
took them with a happy smile.
"I have a good many daughters, my dear," he said. "But I have always
wanted to welcome one more. Do you think you could take in another Dad?"
"I know I could," said Carlotta lifting her flower face to him for a
"Come, come! Where do I come in on this deal? Where is my son, I'd like
to know?" demanded Mr. Cressy.
"Right here at your service--darnfoolness and all," said Phil holding
out his hand.
"Don't rub it in," snapped Harrison Cressy, though he gripped the
proffered hand hard. "Come on, Lambert. This is no place for us."
And the two fathers went down the hill in the hired car leaving Lizzie
and the lovers in possession of the summit with the world which the moon
was just turning to silver at their feet.
When September came Carlotta, who had been ostensibly visiting Tony
though spending a good deal of her time "in the moon with Phil" as she
put it, departed for Crest House, carrying Philip with her "for
inspection," as he dubbed it somewhat ruefully. He wasn't particularly
enamored of the prospect of being passed upon by Carlotta's friends and
relatives. It was rather incongruous when you came to think of it that
the lovely Carlotta, who might have married any one in the world, should
elect an obscure village store keeper for a husband. But Carlotta herself
had no qualms. She was shrewd enough to know that with her father on her
side no one would do much disapproving. And in any case she had no fear
that any one even just looking at Phil would question her choice.
Carlotta was not the woman to choose a man she would have to apologize
for. Phil would hold his own with the best of them and she knew it. He
was a man every inch of him, and what more could any woman ask?
Ted went up for his examinations and came back so soberly that the family
held its composite breath and wondered in secret whether he could
possibly have failed after all his really heroic effort. But presently
the word came that he had not only not failed but had rather covered
himself with glory. The Dean himself, an old friend of Doctor Holiday's,
wrote expressing his congratulations and the hope that this performance
of his nephew's was a pledge of better things in the future and that this
fourth Holiday to pass through the college might yet reflect credit upon
it and the Holiday name.
Ted himself emphatically disclaimed all praise whatsoever in the matter
and cut short his uncle's attempt at expressing his appreciation not only
of the successful finish of the examinations but the whole summer's hard
work and steadiness.
"I am glad if you are satisfied, Uncle Phil," he said. "But there isn't
any credit coming to me. It was the least I could do after making such a
confounded mess of things. Let's forget it."
But Ted Holiday was not quite the same unthinking young barbarian in
September that he had been in June. Nobody could work as he had worked
that summer without gaining something in character and self-respect.
Moreover, being constantly as he was with his brother and uncle, he
would have been duller than he was not to get a "hunch," as he would
have called it, of what it meant to be a Holiday of the authentic sort.
Larry's example was particularly salutary. The younger Holiday could
not help comparing his own weak-willed irresponsibility of conduct with
the older one's quiet self-control and firmness of principle. Larry's
love for Ruth was the real thing. Ted could see that, and it made his
own random, ill-judged attraction to Madeline Taylor look crude and
cheap if nothing worse. He hated to remember that affair in Cousin
Emma's garden. He made up his mind there would be no more things like
that to have to remember.
"You can tell old Bob Caldwell," he wrote from college to his uncle,
"that he'll sport no more caddies and golf balls at my expense. Flunking
is too damned expensive every way, saving your presence, Uncle Phil. No
more of it for this child. But don't get it into your head I am a
violently reformed character. I am nothing of the kind and don't want to
be. If I see any signs of angel pin-feathers cropping out I'll shave 'em.
I'd hate to be conspicuously virtuous. All the same if I have a few
grains more sense than I had last year they are mostly to your credit.
Fact is, Uncle Phil, you are a peach and I am just beginning to realize
it, more fool I."
Tony also flitted from the Hill that September for her new work and life
in the big city. Rather against her will she had ensconced herself in a
Student Hostelry where Jean Lambert, Phil's older sister, had been living
several years very happily, first as a student and later as a successful
illustrator. Tony had objected that she did not want anything so
"schooly," and that the very fact that Jean liked the Hostelry would be
proof positive that she, Tony, would not like it. What she really wanted
to do was either to have a studio of her own or accept Felice Norman's
invitation to make her home with her. Mrs. Norman was a cousin of Tony's
mother, a charming widow of wealth and wide social connections whom Tony
had always adored and admired extravagantly. Just visiting her had always
been like taking a trip to fairy land and to live with her--well, it
would be just too wonderful, Tony thought. But Doctor Holiday had vetoed
decidedly both these pleasant and impractical propositions. Tony was far
too young and pretty to live alone. That was out of the question. And he
was scarcely more willing that she should go to Mrs. Norman, though he
liked the latter very well and was glad that his niece would have her to
go to in any emergency. He knew Tony, and knew that in such an
environment as Mrs. Norman's home offered the girl would all but
inevitably drift into being a gay little social butterfly and forget she
ever came to the city to do serious work. Life with Mrs. Norman would be
"too wonderful" indeed.
So Tony went to the Hostelry with the understanding that if after a few
months' trial she really did dislike it as much as she declared she knew
she would they would make other arrangements. But rather to her chagrin
she found herself liking the place very much and enjoying the society of
the other girls who were all in the city as she and Jean were, pursuing
some art or other.
The dramatic school work was all she had hoped and more, stimulating,
engrossing, altogether delightful. She made friends easily as always,
among teachers and pupils, slipped naturally here as in college into a
position of leadership. Tony Holiday was a born queen.
She had plenty of outside diversion too. Cousin Felice was kind and
delighted to pet and exhibit her pretty little kinswoman. There were
fascinating glimpses into high society, delightful private dancing
parties in gorgeous ball rooms, motor trips, gay theater parties in
resplendent boxes, followed by suppers in brilliant restaurants--all the
pomp and glitter of life that youth loves.
There were other no less genuinely happy occasions spent with Dick
Carson, way up near the roof in the theaters and opera house or in queer,
fascinating out-of-the-way foreign restaurants. The two had the jolliest
kind of time together, always like two children at a picnic. Tony was
very nice to Dick these days. He kept her from being too homesick for the
Hill and anyway she felt a wee bit sorry for him because he did not know
about Alan and those long letters which came so frequently from the
retreat in the mountains where the latter was sketching. She knew she
ought to tell Dick how far things had gone but somehow she couldn't quite
drive herself to do it. She didn't want to hurt him. And she did not want
to banish him from her life. She wanted him, needed him just where he
was, at her feet, and never bothering her with any inconvenient demands
or love-making. It was selfish but it was true. And in any case it would
be soon enough to worry Dick when Alan came back to town.
And then without warning he was back, very much back. And with his return
the pleasant nicely balanced, casual scheme of things which she had been
following so contentedly was knocked sky high. She had to adjust herself
to a new heaven and a new earth with Alan Massey the center of both. In
her delight and intoxication at having her lover near her again, more
fascinating and lover-like than ever, Tony lost her head a little,
neglected her work, snubbed her friends, refused invitations from Dick
and Cousin Felice, and indeed from everybody except Alan. She went
everywhere with him, almost nowhere without him, spent her days and more
of her nights than was at all prudent or proper in his absorbing society,
had, in short, what she afterward described to Carlotta as a "perfect
orgy of Alan."
At the end of ten days she called a halt, sat down and took honest
account of herself and her proceedings and found that this sort of thing
would not do. Alan was too expensive every way. She could not afford so
much of him. Accordingly with her usual decision and frankness she
explained the situation to him as she saw it and announced that
henceforth she would see him only twice a week and not as often if she
were especially busy.
To this ultimatum she kept rigidly in spite of her lover's protests and
pleas and threats. She was inexorable. If Alan wanted to see her at all
he must do it on her terms. He yielded perforce and was madder over her
than ever, feted and worshiped and adored her inordinately when he was
with her, deluged her with flowers and poetry and letters between times,
called her up daily and nightly by telephone just to hear her voice, if
he might not see her face.
So superficially Tony conquered. But she was not over-proud of her
victory. She knew that whether she saw Alan or not he was always in the
under-current of her thoughts and feelings. In the midst of other
occupations she caught herself wondering whether he had written her,
whether she would find his flowers when she got home, where he was,
what he was doing, if he was thinking of her as she of him. She wanted
him most irrationally when she forbade his coming to her. She looked
forward to those few hours spent with him as the only time when she was
fully alive, dreamed them over afterward, knew they meant a hundredfold
more to her than those she spent with any other man or woman. She wore
his flowers, pored over his long, beautiful, impassioned letters,
devoured the books of poetry he sent her, danced with him as often and
as long as she dared, gave her soul more and more into his keeping, the
more so perhaps in that he was so tenderly reverential of her body,
never even touching her lips with his, though his eyes often told a
less moderate story.
The orgy over she was again doing well with her work at the school. She
knew that. Her teachers praised her gifts and her progress. Without any
vanity she could not help seeing that she was forging ahead of others who
had started even with her, had more real talent perhaps than most of
those with whom she worked and played. But she took no pride in these
things. For equally clearly she saw that she was not doing half what she
might have done, would have done, had there been no Alan Massey in the
city and in her heart. She had a divided allegiance and a divided
allegiance is a hard thing to live with as a daily companion.
But she would not have had it otherwise. Not for a moment did she ever
wish to go back to those free days when love was but a name and the flame
had not blown so dangerously near.
As for Alan Massey himself, he alternated between moods which were starry
pinnacles of ecstasy and others which were bottomless pits of despair. He
lived for two things only--his hours with Tony and his work. For he had
begun to paint again, magnificently, furiously, with all his old power
and a new almost godlike one added to it. As an artist it was his supreme
hour. He painted as he had never painted before.
His love for Tony ran the whole gamut. He loved her passionately, found
it exquisite torture to have her in his arms when they danced and to
have still to bank the fires which consumed him and of which she only
dimly guessed. He loved her humbly, worshipfully as a moth might look to
a star. He loved her tenderly, protectingly, longed to shield her by his
own might from all griefs, troubles and petty annoyances, to guard her
day and night, lest any rough, unlovely or unseemly thing press near her
shining sphere. He desired to wrap her about with a magic mantle of
beauty and luxury and the quintessence of life, to keep her in a place
apart as he kept his priceless collection of rubies and emeralds. He
loved her jealously, was sick at the thought that some other man might
be near her when he might not, might dance with her, covet her, kiss
her. He hated all men because of her and particularly he hated with
black hate the man whom he was wronging daily by his silence, his
cousin, John Massey.
Beneath all this strange, sad welter of emotion deeper still in Alan
Massey's heart lay the tragic conviction that he would never win Tony,
that his own sins would somehow rise to strike at him like a snake out of
the grass. He had lost faith in his luck, had lost it strangely enough
when luck had laid at his feet that most desirable of all gifts, Jim
Roberts' timely death.
In the House on the Hill, things were very quiet, missing the gay
presence of the two younger Holidays and with those at home cumbered with
cares and perplexity and grief.
Things were easier for Ruth than for Larry. It was less difficult for her
to play the part of quiet friendship than for him, partly because her
love was a much less tempestuous affair and partly because a woman nearly
always plays a part of any kind with more facility than a man does. And
Larry Holiday was temperamentally unfit to play any part whatsoever. He
was a Yea-Yea and Nay-Nay person.
The simplicity of the girl's role was also very largely created by her
lover's rigid self control. She took her cue from his quietness and felt
that things could not be so bad after all. At least they were together.
Neither had driven the other away from the Hill by any unconsidered act
or word. Ruth had no idea that being with her under the tormenting
circumstances was scarcely undivided happiness for poor Larry or that her
peace of mind was more or less purchased at cost of his.
Larry kept the promise he had made to his uncle more literally than the
latter had had any idea he would or could. He never sought out Ruth's
society, was never alone with her if he could help it, never so much as
touched her hand. Ruth being a very human and feminine little person
sometimes wished he were not quite so consistently, "Holidayish" in his
conduct. She missed the ardent gaze of those wonderful gray eyes which he
now kept studiously averted from hers. Privately she thought it would not
have mattered so fearfully if just once in a while he had forgotten the
ring. Life was very, very drab when you never forgot and let yourself go
the tiniest little bit. Child like little Ruth never guessed that a man
like Larry Holiday does not dare let himself go the tiniest little bit,
lest he go farther, far enough to regret.
Doctor Holiday watching in silence out of the tail of his eye understood
better what was going on behind his nephew's quiet exterior demeanor,
and wondered sometimes if it had not been a mistake to keep the boy
bound to the wheel like that, if he should not rather have packed him
off to the uttermost parts of the earth, far away from the little lady
with the wedding ring who was so little married. And yet there was
Granny, growing perceptibly weaker day by day, clinging pathetically to
Larry's young strength. Poor Granny! And poor Larry! How little one
could do for either!
Ruth's memory did not return. She remembered, or at least found familiar,
books she had read, songs she must have sung, drifted into doing a
hundred little simple everyday things she must have done before, since
they came to her with no effort. She could sew and knit and play the
piano exquisitely. But all this seemed rather a trick of the fingers than
of the mind. The people, the places, the life that lay behind that crash
on the Overland never returned to her consciousness for all her anxious
struggle to get them back.
It began to look as if her husband, if she had one, were not going to
claim her. No one claimed her. Not a single response came from all the
extensive advertising which Larry still kept up in vain hope of success.
Apparently no one had missed the little Goldilocks. Precious as she was
none sought her.
In the meanwhile she was an undisguised angel visitant to the House on
the Hill. If in his kindly hospitality Doctor Holiday had stretched a
point or two in the first place to make the little stranger feel at home
the case was different now. She was needed, badly needed and she played
the part of house daughter so sweetly and unselfishly that her presence
among them was a double blessing to them all, except perhaps to poor
Larry who loved her best of all.
A PAST WHICH DID NOT STAY BURIED
Coming in from a lively game of tennis with Elsie Hathaway, his newest
sweetheart, the Ancient History Prof's pretty daughter, Ted Holiday found
awaiting him a letter from Madeline Taylor. He turned it over in his
hands with a keen distaste for opening it, had indeed almost a mind to
chuck it in the waste paper basket unread. Hang it all! Why had she
written? He didn't want to hear from her, didn't want to be reminded of
her existence. He wanted instead distinctly to forget there was a
Madeline Taylor and that he had been fool enough to make love to her
once. Nevertheless he opened the letter and pulled his forelock in
perturbation as he read it.
She had quarrelled with her grandfather and he would not let her come
back home. She was with Emma just now but she couldn't stay. Fred was
behaving very nastily and he might tell Emma any day that she, Madeline,
had to go. They were all against her. Everything was against a girl
anyway. They never had a chance as a man did. She wished she had been
killed when she had been thrown out of the car that night. It would have
been much better for her than being as miserable as she was now. She
often wished she was dead. But what she had written to Ted Holiday for
was because she thought perhaps he could help her to find a job in the
college town. She had to earn some money right away. She would do
anything. She didn't care what and would be very grateful to Ted if he
would or could help her to find work.
That was all. There was not a single personal note in the whole thing, no
reference to their flirtation of the early summer except the one allusion
to the accident, no attempt to revive such frail ties as had existed
between them, no reproaches to Ted for having broken these off so
summarily. It was simply and exclusively a plea for help from one human
being to another.
Ted thrust the letter soberly in his pocket and went off for a shower.
But the thing went with him. He wished Madeline hadn't written, wished
she hadn't besought his aid, wished most of all she hadn't been such a
devilish good sport in it all. If she had whined, cast things up against
him as she might have done, thrown herself in any way upon him, he could
perhaps have ignored her and her plea. But she had done nothing of the
sort. She was deucedly game now just as she had been the night of the
smash. And by a queer trick of his mind her very gameness made Ted
Holiday feel more quiet and responsible, a frame of mind he heartily
resented. Hanged if he could see why it was his funeral! If that old
Hottentot of a grandfather of hers chose to turn her out without a cent
it wasn't his fault. For that matter he wasn't to blame for what Madeline
herself had done. He didn't suppose the old man would have cut so rough
without plenty of cause. Why did she have to bob up now and make him feel
so darned rotten?
Unfortunately, even the briefest of episodes have a way of not erasing
themselves as conveniently as most of us would like to have them. The
thing was there and Ted Holiday had to look at it whether it made him
feel "darned rotten" or not. He did not want to help the girl, did not
even want to renew their acquaintance by even so much as a letter. The
whole thing was an infernal nuisance. But infernal nuisance or not, he
had to deal with it, could not funk it. He was a Holiday and no Holiday
ever shirked obligations he himself had incurred. He was a Holiday and no
Holiday ever let a woman ask for help, and not give It. By the time he
was back from the shower Ted knew precisely where he stood. Perhaps he
had known all along.
The next day he bestirred himself, went to Berry the florist who he
happened to know was in need of a clerk, got the burly Irishman's consent
to give the girl a job at excellent wages, right away, the sooner the
better. Ted opened his mouth to ask for an advance of salary but thought
better of it before the words came out. Madeline might not like to have
anybody know she was up against it like that. He would have to see to
that part of it himself somehow.
"You're a good customer, Mr. Holiday," the genial florist was saying.
"I'm tickled to be obligin' ye and mesilf at the same time. Anything in
the flower line, to-day, Mr. Holiday? Some roses now or violets? Got some
Jim dandies just in. Beauties, I'm tellin' you. Want to see 'em?"
Ted hesitated. His exchecquer was low, very low. The first of the month
was also far away--too far, considering all things. His bill at Berry's
already passed the bounds of wisdom and the possibility of being paid in
full out of the next month's allowance without horribly crippling the
debtor. It was exceedingly annoying to have to forfeit that ten dollars
to Uncle Phil every month for that darned automobile business which it
seemed as if he never would get free of one way or another. He certainly
ought not to buy any more flowers this month.
Still, there was the hop to-night. Elsie was going with him. He had run
a race with three other applicants for the privilege of escorting her and
being victor it behooved him to prove he appreciated his gains. He didn't
want Elsie to think he was a tight-wad, or worse still suspect him of
being broke. He fell, let Berry open the show case, debated seriously the
respective merits of roses and violets, having reluctantly relinquished
orchids as a little too ruinous even for a ruined young man.
"If they are for Miss Hathaway," murmured a pretty, sympathetic clerk in
his ear, "Mr. Delany sent roses this morning and she likes violets best.
I've heard her say so."
That settled it. Ted Holiday wasn't going to be beaten by a poor fish
like Ned Delany. The violets were bought and duly charged along with
those other too numerous items on Ted Holiday's account. Going home Ted
wrote a cheerful, friendly letter to Madeline Taylor reporting his
success in getting her a job and enclosing a check for twenty live
dollars, "just to tide you over," he had put in lightly, forbearing to
mention that the gift made his bank balance even lighter, so light in
fact that it approached complete invisibility. He added that he was sorry
things were in a mess for her but they would clear up soon, bound to, you
know. And nix on the wish-I-were-dead-stuff! It was really a jolly old
world as she would say herself when her luck turned. He remained hers
sincerely and so forth.
This business off his mind, young Mr. Holiday felt highly relieved and
pleased with himself and the world which was such a jolly old affair as
he had just assured Madeline. Later he went to the hop and had a corking
time, stayed till the last violin swooned off into silence, then
sauntered with deliberate leisureliness toward Prof. Hathaway's house
with Elsie on his arm. On the Prof's porch he had lingered as long as was
prudent, perhaps a little longer, spooning discreetly the while as one
may, even with an Ancient History Prof's daughter. There was nothing
suggestive of Ancient History about Elsie. She was slim and young as the
little new moon they had both nearly broken their necks to see over their
right shoulders a few minutes before. Moreover she was exceedingly pretty
and as provocative as the dickens. In the end Ted stole a saucy kiss and
left her pretending to be as indignant as if a dozen other impudent
youths had not done precisely the same thing since the opening of the
college year. It was the lady's privilege to protest. Ted granted that,
but neither was he much taken in by injured innocence airs. Elsie was
quite as sophisticated as he was himself as he knew very well. No first
kiss business for either of them, he reflected as he went whistling back
to the frat house. It was all in the game and both knew it was nothing
but a game which made it perfectly pleasant and harmless.
At the frat house he found a quiet little game of another sort in
progress, slid in, took a hand, got interested, played until three A.M.
and on quitting found himself in possession of some thirty odd dollars he
had not had when he sat in. Considering his recent financial depression
the thirty dollars was all to the good, covered Madeline's check and
Elsie's violets. It was indeed a jolly old world if you treated it right
and did not take it or yourself too seriously.
Inasmuch as playing cards for money was strictly against college rules
and gambling had been the one vice of all vices the late Major Holiday
had hated with unrelenting hate, it might be a satisfaction to record
that the late Major's son took an uneasy conscience to bed that night, or
rather that morning, but truth is truth and we are compelled to state
that Ted Holiday did not suffer the faintest twinge of remorse and went
to sleep the moment his head touched the pillow as peacefully as a
guileless new born babe might have done.
Moreover when he woke the next morning at an unconscionably late hour he
turned over, looked at the clock, grunted and grinned sleepily and lapsed
off again into blissful oblivion, thereby cutting all his morning classes
and generally submerging himself in the unregenerate ways of his
graceless sophomoric year. He had never contracted to be conspicuously
virtuous it will be recalled.
The next day he secured a suitable lodging place for Madeline in an
inexpensive but respectable neighborhood and the day after that betook
himself to the station to meet the girl herself. Ted never did things by
halves. Having made up his mind to stand by he did it thoroughly, perhaps
the more punctiliously because in his heart he loathed the whole business
and wished he were well out of it.
For a moment as Madeline came toward him he hardly recognized her. She
looked years older. The brilliancy of her beauty was curiously dimmed as
an electric light might be dimmed inside a dusty globe. There were hard
lines about her full lips and a sharp, driven look in her black eyes. The
two had met in June on equal terms of blithe youth. Now, only a few
months later, Ted was still a careless boy but Madeline Taylor had been
forced into premature womanhood and wore on her haggard young face, the
stamp of a woman's hard won wisdom.
To the girl Ted Holiday appeared more the bonny Prince Charming than
ever only infinitely farther removed from her than he had seemed in
those happy summer days which were a million years ago to all intents
and purposes now. How good looking he was--how tall and clean and
manly looking! Her heart gave a quick jump seeing him again after all
these dreary months. But oh, she must be very careful--must never
forget for a moment that things were very, very different now from what
they were in June!
There was a moment's slightly embarrassed silence as they shook hands.
Both were remembering all too vividly the scene in Cousin Emma's garden
upon the occasion of their last meeting. It was Ted who first found
tongue and announced casually that he was going to take her straight to
the house of Mrs. Bascom, her landlady to be.
"She's a good sort," he added. "Mothery like you know. You'll like her."
Madeline did not answer. She couldn't. Something choked in her throat.
The phrase, "mothery like" was almost too much for the girl who had
never had a mother to remember and wanted one now as she never had
wanted one in her life. Ted's kindness--the first she had received from
any one these many days--touched her deeply. For the first time in
months the tears brimmed up into her eyes as she followed her companion
to the cab and let him help her in. As the door closed upon them Ted
turned and faced the girl and seeing the tears put out his hand and
touched hers gently.
"Don't worry, Madeline," he said. "Things are going to look up. And
please don't cry," he pleaded earnestly.
She wiped away the tears and summoned a wan little smile to meet his.
"I won't," she said. "Crying is silly and won't help anything. It is just
that I was awfully tired and your being so good to me upset me. You've
always been good even--when I thought you weren't. I understand better
now. And oh, Ted, you don't know how ashamed I am of the way I behaved
that night! It was awful--my striking you like that. It made me sick to
think of it afterward."
"It needn't have. If anybody has any call to be ashamed of that night
it's yours truly. See here, Madeline, I've worried a lot about you though
maybe you won't believe it because I didn't write or act as if I were
sorry about things. I kept still because it seemed the straightest thing
to do all round, but I did think a great deal about you, honest I did,
and I've wondered millions of times if my darn-foolness set things going
wrong for you. Did it, Madeline?" he demanded.
"No," she answered her gaze away from his out the cab window.
"You mustn't worry, Ted, or blame yourself. It--it's all my
"It's good of you to let me out but I am not so sure I ought to be let
out. I'd give a good deal this minute if I could go back and not take
Uncle Phil's car that night." Ted leaned forward suddenly and for a
startled instant Madeline thought he meant to kiss her. But nothing was
farther from his wish or thought. It was the scar he was looking for. He
had almost forgotten it, just as he had almost forgotten the episode it
represented. But there it was on her forehead. Even in the gathering
darkness it showed with perfect distinctness. "I hoped it had gone," he
added. "But it is still there, isn't it?"
"The scar? Yes, it is still there." For a moment the ghost of a
smile played about the girl's lips. "I've always liked it. I'd miss
it if it went."
"Well, I don't like it. I hate it," groaned the boy. "Why, Madeline I
might have killed you!"
"I know. Sometimes I wish it had come out so. It--it would have
"Don't Madeline. That is an awful thing to say. Things can't be as bad as
all that, you know they can't. By the way, can you tell me the whole
business or would you rather not?"
The girl shivered.
"No. Don't ask me, Ted. It--it's too awful. Don't bother about me.
You have done quite enough as it is. I am very grateful but truly I
would rather you wouldn't have anything more to do with me. Just
forget I am here."
And because this injunction was precisely in line with his own
inclination Ted suspected its propriety and swung counterwise in true
"I'll do just exactly as I please about that. I won't pester you but you
needn't think I'm going to leave you all soul alone in a strange place
when you are feeling rotten anyway. I'm pretty doggoned selfish but not
quite that bad."
ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE
Although Max Hempel had not openly sought out Tony Holiday he was
entirely aware of her presence in the city and in the dramatic school.
Whenever she played a role in the course of the latter's program he had
his trusted aides on the spot to watch her, gauge her progress, report
their finding to himself. Once or twice he had come himself, sat in a
dark corner and kept his eye unblinking from first to last upon the girl.
In November it had seemed good to the school to revive The Killarney
Rose, a play which ten years ago had had a phenomenal run and ended as it
began with packed houses. It was past history now. Even the road
companies had lapsed, and its name was all but forgotten by the fickle
public which must and will have ever new sensations.
Hempel was glad the school had made this particular selection, doubly
glad it had given Antoinette Holiday the title role. The play would show
whether the girl was ready for his purposes as he had about decided she
was. He would send Carol Clay to see her do the thing. Carol would know.
Who better? It was she who created the original Rose.
Tony Holiday behind the scene on that momentous evening, on being
informed that Carol Clay--the famous Carol Clay herself--the real
Rose--was out there in a box, was paralyzed with fear, for the first
time in her life, victim of genuine stage fright. She was cold. She was
hot. She was one tremendous shake and shiver. She was a very lump of
stone. The orchestra was already playing. In a moment her call would
come and she was going to fail, fail miserably. And with Carol Clay
there to see.
Some flowers and a card were brought in. The flowers were from Alan of
course, great crimson roses. It was dear of him to send them. Later she
would appreciate it. But just now not even Alan mattered. She glanced at
the card which had come separately, was not with the flowers. It was
Dick's. Hastily she read the pencil-written scrawl. "Am covering the
Rose. Will be close up. See you after the show. Best o' luck and love."
Tony could almost have cried for joy over the message. Somehow the
knowledge of Dick's nearness gave her back her self-possession. She had
refused to let Alan come. His presence in the audience always distracted
her, made her nervous. But Dick was different. It was almost like having
Uncle Phil himself there. She wouldn't fail now. She couldn't. It was for
the honor of the Hill.
A moment later, still clutching Dick's comforting card, she ran in on the
stage, swinging her sun-bonnet from its green ribbons with hoydenish
grace, chanting a gay little lilt of an Irish melody. Her fear had gone
even as the dew might have disappeared at the kiss of the sun upon the
Almost at once she discovered Dick and sang a part of her song straight
down at him. A little later she dared to let her eyes stray to the box
where Carol Clay sat. The actress smiled and Tony smiled back and then
forgot she was Tony, was henceforth only Rose of Killarney.
It was a winsome, old-timey sort of play, with an almost Barriesque
charm and whimsicality to it. The witching little Rose laughed and danced
and sang and flirted and wept and loved her way through it and in the end
threw herself in the right lover's arms, presumably there to dwell happy
After the last curtain went down and she had smiled and bowed and kissed
her hand to the kindly audience over and over Tony fled to the dressing
room where she could still hear the intoxicating, delightful thunder of
applause. It had come. She could act. She could. Oh! She couldn't live
and be any happier.
But, after all she could stand a little more joy without coming to an
untimely end, for there suddenly smiling at her from the threshold was
Carol Clay congratulating her and telling her what a pleasure to-night's
Rose had been to the Rose of yesterday. And before Tony could get her
breath to do more than utter a rather shy and gasping word of gratitude,
the actress had invited her to take tea with her on the next day and she
had accepted and Carol Clay was gone.
It was in a wonderful world of dreams that Tony Holiday dwelt as she
removed a little of her makeup, gave orders to have all her flowers sent
to a near-by hospital, except Alan's, which she gathered up in her arms
and drawing her velvet cloak around her, stepped out into the
But it was a world of rather alarming realities that she went into. There
was Dick Carson waiting as she had bidden him to wait in the message she
had sent him. And there was Alan Massey, unbidden and unexpected. And
both these males with whom she had flirted unconscionably for weeks past
were ominously belligerent of manner and countenance. She would have
given anything to have had a wand to wave the two away, keep them from
spoiling her perfect evening. But it was too late. The hour of reckoning
which comes even to queens was here.
"Hello, you two," she greeted, putting on a brave front for all her
sinking heart. She laid down the roses and gave a hand impartially to
each. "Awfully glad to see you, Dicky. Alan, I thought I told you not to
come. Were you here all the same?"
"I was. I told you so in my note. Didn't you get it? I sent it in with
the roses." He nodded at the flowers she had just surrendered.
Dick's eyes shadowed. Massey had scored there. He had not thought of
flowers. Indeed there had been no time to get any he had gotten the
assignment so late. There had been quantities of other flowers, he knew.
The usher had carried up tons of them it seemed to the popular Rose, but
she carried only Alan Massey's home with her.
"I am sorry, Alan. I didn't see it. Maybe it was there; I didn't half
look at the flowers. Your message did me so much good, Dicky. I was
scared to death because they had just said Miss Clay was outside. And
somehow when I knew you were there I felt all right again. I carried your
card all through the first act and I know it was your wishing me the best
o' luck that brought it."
She smiled at Dick and it was Alan's turn to glower. She had not looked
at his roses, had not cared to look for his message; but she carried the
other man's card, used it as a talisman. And she was glad. The other was
there, but she had forbidden himself--Alan Massey--to come, had even
reproached him for coming.
A group of actors passed through the reception room, calling gay
goodnights and congratulations to Tony as they went and shooting glances
of friendly curiosity at the two, tall frowning men between whom the
vivacious Rose stood.
"Tony Holiday doesn't keep all her lovers on the stage," laughed the
near-heroine as she was out of hearing. "Did you ever see two gentlemen
that hated each other more cordially?"
"She is an arrant little flirt, isn't she, Micky?" The speaker challenged
the Irish lover of the play who had had the luck to win the sweet, thorny
little Killarney Rose in the end and to get a real, albeit a play kiss
from the pretty little heroine, who as Tony Holiday as well as Rose was
prone to make mischief in susceptible male hearts.
"She can have me any minute, on the stage or off," answered Micky
promptly. "She's a winner. Got me going all right. Most forgot my lines
she was so darned pretty."
Dick took advantage of the confusion of the interruption to get in his
"Will you come out with me for a bite somewhere, Tony. I won't keep you
late, but there are some things I want to talk over with you."
Tony hesitated. She had caught the ominous flash of Alan's eyes. She was
desperately afraid there would be a scene if she said yes to Dick now in
Alan's hearing. The latter strode over to her instantly, and laid his
hand with a proprietorial air on her arm. From this point of vantage he
faced Dick insolently.
"Miss Holiday is going out with me," he asserted. "You--clear out."
The tone and manner even more than the words were deliberate insult.
Dick's face went white. His mouth set tight. There was almost as ugly a
look in his eyes as there was in Alan's. Tony had never seen him look
like that and was frightened.
"I'll clear out when Miss Holiday asks me to and not before," he said in
a significantly quiet voice. "Don't go too far, Mr. Massey. I have taken
a good deal from you. There's a limit. Tony, I repeat my question. Will
you go out with me to-night?"
Before Tony could speak Alan Massey's long right arm shot out in Dick's
direction. Dick dodged the blow coolly.
"Hold on, Massey," he said. "I'm perfectly willing to smash your head any
time it is convenient. Nothing would afford me greater pleasure in fact.
But you will kindly keep from making trouble here. You can't get a
woman's name mixed up with a cheap brawl such as you are trying to start.
You know, it won't do."
Alan Massey's white face turned a shade whiter. His arm fell. He turned
back to Tony, real anguish in his fire-shot eyes.
"I beg your pardon, Tony dearest," he bent over to say. "Carson is right.
We'll fight it out elsewhere when you are not present. May I take you to
the taxi? I have one waiting outside."
Another group of people passed through the vestibule, said goodnight and
went on out to the street exit. It made Tony sick to think of what they
would have seen if Dick had lost his self control as Alan had. She
thought she had never liked Dick as she did that moment, never despised
Alan Massey so utterly. Dick was a man. Alan was a spoiled child, a
weakling, the slave of his passions. It was no thanks to him that her
name was not already bandied about on people's lips, the name of a girl,
about whom men came to fist blows like a Bowery movie scene. She was
humiliated all over, enraged with Alan, enraged with herself for
stooping to care for a man like that. She waited until they were
absolutely alone again and then said what she had to say. She turned to
face Alan directly.
"You may take me nowhere," she said. "I don't want to see you again as
long as I live."
For an instant Alan stared at her, dazed, unable to grasp the force of
what she was saying, the significance of her tone. As a matter of fact
the artist in him had leaped to the surface, banished all other
considerations. He had never seen Tony Holiday really angry before. She
was magnificent with those flashing eyes and scarlet cheeks--a glorious
little Fury--a Valkyrie. He would paint her like that. She was
stupendous, the most vividly alive thing he had ever seen, like flame
itself, in her flaming anger. Then it came over him what she had said.
"But, Tony," he pleaded, "my belovedest--"
He put out both hands in supplication, but Tony whirled away from them.
She snatched the great bunch of red roses from the table, ran to the
window, flung up the sash, hurled them out into the night. Then she
turned back to Alan.
"Now go," she commanded, pointing with a small, inexorable hand to the
Alan Massey went.
Tony dropped in a chair, spent and trembling, all but in tears. The
disagreeable scene, the piled up complex of emotions coming on top of the
stress and strain of the play were almost too much for her. She was a
quivering bundle of nerves and misery at the moment.
Dick came to her.
"Forgive me, Tony. I shouldn't have forced the issue maybe. But I
couldn't stand any more from that cad."
"I am glad you did exactly what you did do, Dick, and I am more grateful
than I can ever tell you for not letting Alan get you into a fight here
in this place with all these people coming and going. I would never have
gotten over it if anything like that had happened. It would have been
terrible. I couldn't ever have looked any of them in the face again."
She shivered and put her two hands over her eyes ashamed to the quick at
Dick sat down on the arm of her chair, one hand resting gently on the
"Don't cry, Tony," he begged. "I can't stand it. You needn't have
worried. There wasn't any danger of anything like that happening. I care
too much to let you in for anything of that sort. So does he for that
matter. He saw it in a minute. He really wouldn't want to do you any harm
anyway, Tony. Even I know that, and you must know it better than I."
Tony put down her hands, looked at Dick. "I suppose that is true," she
sighed. "He does love me, Dick."
"He does, Tony. I wish he didn't. And I wish with all my heart I were
sure you didn't love him."
Tony sighed again and her eyes fell.
"I wish--I were sure, too," she faltered.
Dick winced at that. He had no answer. What was there to say?
"I don't see why I should care. I don't see how I can care after
to-night. He is horrid in lots of ways--a cad--just as you called him. I
know Larry would feel just as you do and hate to have him come near me.
Larry and I have almost quarreled about it now. He thinks Uncle Phil is
all wrong not to forbid my seeing Alan at all. But Uncle Phil is too
wise. He doesn't want to have me marry Alan any more than the rest of you
do but he knows if he fights it it would put me on the other side in a
minute and I'd do it, maybe, in spite of everybody."
"Tony, you aren't engaged to him?"
She shook her head.
"Not exactly. I am afraid I might as well be though. I said I didn't
ever want to see him again, but I didn't mean it. I shall want to see him
again by to-morrow. I always do no matter what he does. I always shall I
am afraid. It is like that with me. I'm sorry, Dicky. I ought to have
told you that before. I've been horrid not to, I know. Take me home now,
please. I'm tired--awfully tired."
Going home in the cab neither spoke until just as they were within a few
blocks of the Hostelry when Dick broke the silence.
"I am sorry all this had to happen to-night," he said. "Because, well, I
am going away tomorrow."
"Going away! Dick! Where?" It was horribly selfish of her, Tony knew;
but it didn't seem as if she could bear to have Dick go. It seemed as if
the only thing that was stable in her reeling life would be gone if he
went. If he went she would belong to Alan more and more. There would be
nothing to hold her back. She was afraid. She clung to Dick. He alone of
the whole city full of human beings was a symbol of Holiday Hill. With
him gone it seemed to her as if she would be hopelessly adrift on
"To Mexico--Vera Cruz, I believe," he answered her question.
"Vera Cruz! Dick, you mustn't! It is awful down there now. Everybody says
so." He smiled a little at that.
"It is because it is more or less awful that they are sending me," he
said. "Journalism isn't much interested in placidity. A newspaper man has
to be where things are happening fast and plenty. If things are hot down
there so much the better. They will sizzle more in the copy."
"Dick! I can't have you go. I can't bear it." Tony's hand crept into
his. "Something dreadful might happen to you," she wailed.
He pressed her hand, grateful for her real trouble about him and for
"Oh no, dear. Nothing dreadful will happen to me. You mustn't worry,"
"But I do. I shall. How can I help it? It is just as if Larry or Ted were
going. It scares me."
Dick drew away his hand suddenly.
"For heaven's sake, Tony, please don't tell me again that I'm just like
Larry and Ted to you. It is bad enough to know it without your rubbing it
in all the time. I can't stand it--not to-night."
"Dick!" Tony was startled, taken aback by his tone. Dick rarely let
himself go like that.
In a moment he was all contrition.
"Forgive me, Tony. I'm sorry I said that. I ought to be thankful you care
that much, and I am. It is dear of you and I do appreciate it."
"Oh me!" sighed Tony. "Everything I do or say is wrong. I wish I did care
the other way for you, Dicky dear. Truly I do. It would be so much nicer
and simpler than caring for Alan," she added naively.
"Life isn't fixed nice and simple, Tony. At least it never has
been for me."
"Oh, Dick! Everything has been horribly hard for you always, and I'm
making it harder. I don't want to, Dicky dear. You know I don't. It is
just that I can't help it."
"I know, Tony. You mustn't bother about me. I'm all right. Will you tell
me just one thing though? If you hadn't cared for Massey--no I won't put
it like that. If you had cared for me would my not having any name have
made any difference?"
"Of course it wouldn't have made any difference, Dicky. What does a name
matter? You are you and that is what I would care for--do care for. The
rest doesn't matter. Besides, you are making a name for yourself."
"I am doing it under your name--the one you gave me."
"I am proud to have it used that way. Why wouldn't I be? It is honored.
You have not only lived up to it as you promised Uncle Phil. You have
made it stand for something fine. Your stories are splendid. You are
going to be famous and I--Why, Dicky, just think, it will be my name you
will take on up to the stars. Oh, we're here," as the cab jolted to a
halt in front of the Hostelry.
The cabby flung open the door. Tony and Dick stepped out, went up the
steps. In a moment they were alone in the dimly lit hall.
"Tony, would you mind letting me kiss you just once as you would Larry or
Ted if one of them were going off on a long journey away from you?"
Dick's voice was humble, pleading. It touched Tony deeply, and sent the
quick tears welling up into her eyes as she raised her face to his.
For a moment he held her close, kissed her on the cheek and then
"Good-by, Tony. Thank you and God bless you," he said a little huskily as
he let her go.
"Good-by, Dick." And then impulsively Tony put up her lips and kissed
him, the first time he ever remembered a woman's lips touching his.
A second later the door closed upon him, shutting him out in the night.
He dismissed the cab driver and walked blindly off, not knowing or caring
in what direction he went. It was hours before he let himself into his
lodging house. It seemed as if he could have girdled the earth on the
strength of Tony Holiday's kiss. The next morning he was off for Mexico.
THE KALEIDOSCOPE REVOLVES
Tony slept late next morning and when she did open her eyes they fell
upon a huge florist box by the door and a special delivery letter on top
of it. The maid had set the two in an hour ago and tiptoed away lest she
waken the weary little sleeper.
Tony got up and opened the box. Roses--dozens of them, worth the price of
a month's wages to many a worker in the city! Frail, exquisite,
shell-pink beauties, with gold at their hearts! Tony adored roses but she
almost hated these because it seemed to her Alan was bribing her
forgiveness by playing upon her worship of their beauty and fragrance.
Still kneeling by the flowers she glanced at the clock. Ten-thirty! Dick
was already miles away on his hateful journey, had gone sad and hopeless
because she loved Alan Massey. Why did it have to be so? Why was love so
perverse and unreasonable a thing? Alan was not worthy to touch Dick's
hand, though in his arrogance he affected to despise the other. But it
was Alan she loved, not Dick. There must be something wrong with her,
dreadfully wrong that it should be so. After last night there could be no
doubt of that.
She sat down on the floor, opened Alan's letter, despised herself for
letting its author's spell creep over her anew with every word. It was an
abject plea for mercy, for forgiveness, for restoration to favor. It had
been a devil of jealousy that had possessed him, he had not known what
he was doing. Surely she must know that he would not willingly harm or
hurt or anger her in any way. He loved her too much. Carson had behaved
like a man. Alan would apologize to him if the other man would accept the
apology. It was Tony really who had driven him mad by being so much
kinder to the other than to himself. She must realize what he was, not
drive him too far.
"I am sending you roses," he ended. "Please don't throw them away as you
did the others. Keep them and let them plead for me. And don't ah Tony,
don't ever, ever say again what you said last night, that you never
wanted to see me again! You don't mean it, I know. But don't say it. It
kills me to hear you. If you throw me over I'll blow my brains out as
sure as I am a living man this moment. But you won't, you cannot, Tony
dearest. You will forgive me, stand by me, rotten as I am. You are mine.
You love me. You won't push me down to Hell."
It was a cowardly letter Tony thought, a letter calculated to frighten
her, bring her to subjection again as well as to gratify the writer's own
Byronic instinct for pose. He had behaved badly. He acknowledged it but
claimed forgiveness on the grounds of love, his love for her which had
been goaded to mad jealousy by her thoughtless unkindness, her love for
him which would not desert him no matter what he did.
But pose or not, Tony was obliged to admit there was some truth in it
all. Perhaps it was all true-too true. Even if he did not resort to the
pistol as he threatened he would find other means of slaying his soul if
not his body if she forsook him now. She could not do it. As he said she
loved him too well. She had gone too far in the path to turn back now.
Ah why, why had she let it go so far? Why had she not listened to Dick,
to Uncle Phil, to Carlotta, even to Miss Lottie? They had all told her
there was no happiness for her in loving Alan Massey. She knew it herself
better than any of them could possibly know it. And yet she had to go on,
for his sake, for her own because she loved him.
By this time she was no longer angry or resentful. She was just
sorry--sorry for Alan--sorry for herself. She knew just as she had known
all along that last night's incident would not really make any
difference. It would be put away in time with all the other things she
had to forgive. She had eaten her pomegranate seeds. She could not escape
the dark kingdom. She did not wish to.
Later came violets from Dick which she put in a vase on her desk beside
Uncle Phil's picture. But it was the fragrance and color of Alan's roses
that filled the room, and presently she sat down and wrote her
ill-behaved lover a sweet, forgiving little note. She was sorry if she
had been unkind. She had not meant to be. As for what happened it was too
late to worry about it now. They had best forget it, if they could. He
couldn't very well apologize to Dick in person because he was already on
his way to Mexico. There was no need of any penance. Of course she
forgave him, knew he had not meant to hurt her, though he had horribly.
If he cared to do so he might take her to dinner tomorrow
night--somewhere where they could dance. And in conclusion she was always
his, Tony Holiday.
Both Dick and Alan were driven out of her mind later that day by the
delightful and exciting interview over the tea table with Carol Clay.
Miss Clay was a charming hostess, drew the girl out without appearing to
do so, got her to talk naturally about many things, her life with her
father at army barracks, and with her uncle on her beloved Hill, of her
friends and brothers, her college life, of books and plays. Plays took
them to the Killarney Rose and once more Miss Clay expressed her pleasure
in the girl's rendering of one of her own favorite roles.
"You acted as if you had been playing Rose all your life," she added
with a smile.
"Maybe I have," said Tony. "Rose is--a good deal like me. Maybe that is
why I loved playing her so."
"I shouldn't wonder. You are a real little actress, my dear. I wonder if
you are ready to pay the price of it. It is bitterly hard work and it
means giving up half the things women care for."
The speaker's lovely eyes shadowed a little. Tony wondered what
Carol Clay had given up, was giving up for her art to bring that
look into them.
"I am not afraid. I am willing to work. I love it. And I--I am willing to
give up a good deal."
"Lovers?" smiled Miss Clay.
"Must I? I thought actresses always had lovers, at least worshipers.
Can't I keep the lovers, Miss Clay?" There was a flash of mischief in
Tony's eyes as she asked the important question.
"Better stick to worshipers. Lovers are risky. Husbands--fatal."
Tony laughed outright at that.
"I am willing to postpone the fatality," she murmured.
"I am glad to hear it for I lured you here to take you into a deep-laid
plot. I suppose you did not suspect that it was Max Hempel who sent me to
see you play Rose?"
"Mr. Hempel? I thought he had forgotten me."
"He never forgets any one in whom he is interested. He has had his eye
on you ever since he saw you play Rosalind. He told me when he came back
from that trip that I had a rival coming on."
"Oh, no!" Tony objected even in jest to such desecration.
"Oh, yes," smiled her hostess. "Max Hempel is a brutally frank person. He
never spares one the truth, even the disagreeable truth. He has had his
eye out for a new ingenue for a long time. Ingenues do get old--at least
older you know."
"Not you," denied Tony.
"Even I, in time. I grant you not yet. It takes a degree of age and
sophistication to play youth and innocence. We do it better as a rule at
thirty than at twenty. We are far enough away from it to stand off and
observe how it behaves and can imitate it better than if we still had it.
That is one reason I was interested in your Rose last night. You played
like a little girl as Rose should. You looked like a little girl. But you
couldn't have given it that delightfully sure touch if you hadn't been a
little bit grown up. Do you understand?"
"I think so. You see I am--a little bit grown up."
"Don't grow up any more. You are adorable as you are. But to business.
Have you seen my Madge?"
"In the 'End of the Rainbow?' Yes, indeed. I love it. You like the part
too, don't you? You play it as if you did."
"I do. I like it better than any I have had since Rose. Did it occur to
you that you would like to play Madge yourself?"
Tony blushed ingenuously.
"Well, yes, it did," she admitted half shyly. "Of course, I knew I
couldn't play it as you did. It takes years of experience and a real art
like yours to do it like that, but I did think I'd like to try it and see
what I could do."
Miss Clay nodded, well pleased.
"Of course you did. Why not? It is your kind of a role, just as Rose is.
You and I are the same types. Mr. Hempel has said that all along, ever
since he saw your Rosalind. But I won't keep you in suspense. The long
and short of all this preliminary is--how would you like to be my
understudy for Madge?"
"Oh, Miss Clay!" Tony gasped. "Do you think I could?"
"I know you could, my dear. I knew it all the time while I was
watching you play Rose. Mr. Hempel has known it even longer. I went to
see Rose to find out if there was a Madge in you. There is. I told Mr.
Hempel so this morning. He is brewing his contracts now so be
prepared. Will you try it?"
"I'd love to if you and Mr. Hempel think I can. I promised Uncle Phil I
would take a year of the school work though. Will I have to drop that?"
"I think so--most of it at least. You would have to be at the rehearsals
usually which are in the morning. You might have to play Madge quite
often then. There are reasons why I have to be away a great deal just
now." Again the shadow, darkened the star's eyes and a droop came to her
mouth. "It isn't even so impossible that you would be called upon to
play before the real Broadway audience in fact. Understudies sometimes
do you know."
Miss Clay was smiling now, but the shadow in her eyes had not
lifted Tony saw.
"I am particularly anxious to get a good understudy started in
immediately," the actress continued. "The one I had was impossible, did
not get the spirit of the thing at all. It is absolutely essential to
have some one ready and at once. My little daughter is in a sanitarium
dying with an incurable heart leakage. There will be a time--probably
within the next two months--when I shall have to be away."
Tony put out her hand and let it rest upon the other woman's. There was
compassion in her young eyes.
"I am so sorry," she said simply. "I didn't know you had a daughter. Of
course, I did know you weren't really Miss Clay, that you were Mrs.
Somebody, but I didn't think of your having children. Somehow we don't
remember actresses may be mothers too."
"The actresses remember it--sometimes," said Miss Clay with a tremulous
little smile. "It isn't easy to laugh when your heart is heavy, Miss
Antoinette. It is all I can do to go on with 'Madge' sometimes. I just
have to forget--make myself forget I am a mother and a wife. Captain
Carey, my husband, is in the British Army. He is in Flanders now, or was
when I last heard."
"Oh, I don't see how you can do it--play, I mean," sighed Tony aghast at
this new picture the actress's words brought up.
"One learns, my dear. One has to. An actress is two distinct persons.
One of her belongs to the public. The other is just a plain woman.
Sometimes I feel as if I were far more the first than I am the second.
There wouldn't be any more contracts if I were not. But never mind that.
To come back to you. Mr. Hempel will send you a contract to-morrow. Will
you sign it?"
"Yes, if Uncle Phil is willing. I'll wire him to-night. I am almost
positive he will say yes. He is very reasonable and he will see what a
wonderful, wonderful chance this is for me. I can't thank you enough,
Miss Clay. It all takes my breath away. But I am grateful and so happy;
you can't imagine it."
Miss Clay smiled and drew on her gloves. The interview was over.
"There is really nothing to thank me, for," she said. "The favor is on
the other side. It is I who am lucky. The perfect understudy like a
becoming hat is hard to find, but when found is absolutely beyond price.
May I send you a pass for to-morrow night to the 'End of the Rainbow'?
Perhaps you would like to see it again and play 'Madge' with me from a
box. The pass will admit two. Bring one of the lovers if you like."
Tony wired her uncle that night. In the morning mail arrived Max Hempel's
contract as Miss Clay had promised. Tony regarded it with superstitious
awe. It was the first contract she had ever seen in her life, much less
had offered for her signature. The terms were, generous--appallingly so
it seemed to the girl who knew little of such things and was not inclined
to over-rate her powers financially speaking. She wisely took the
contract over to the school and got the manager's advice to "Go ahead."
"We've nothing comparable to offer you, Miss Tony. With Hempel and Miss
Clay both behind you you are practically made. You are a lucky little
lady. I know a dozen experienced actresses in this city who would give
their best cigarette cases to be in your shoes."
Arrived home at the Hostelry, armed with this approval, Tony found her
Uncle's answering wire bidding her do as she thought best and sending
heartiest love and congratulations. Dear Uncle Phil!
And then she sat down and signed the impressive document that made her
Carol Clay's understudy and a real wage-earning person.
All the afternoon she spent in long, delicious, dreamless slumber. At
five she was wakened by the maid bringing a letter from Alan, a
wonderful, extravagant lover-note such as only he could pen. Later she
bathed and dressed, donning the white and silver gown she had worn the
night when she had first admitted to Alan in Carlotta's garden that she
loved him, first took his kisses. It was rather a sacred little gown to
Tony, sacred to Alan and her own surrender to love. He called it her
starlight dress and loved it especially because it brought out the
springlike, virginal quality of her youth and loveliness as her other
more sophisticated gowns did not. Tony wore it for Alan to-night,
wanted him to think her lovely, to love her immensely. She wanted to
taste all life's joy at once, have a perfect deluge of happiness. Youth
must be served.
Alan, graceful for being forgiven so easily, fell in with her mood and
was at his best, courtly, considerate, adoring. He exerted all the
magic of his not inconsiderable charm to make Tony forget that other
unfortunate night when he had appeared in other, less attractive
colors. And Tony was ready enough to forget beneath his worshiping
green eyes and under the spell of his wonderful voice. She meant to
shut out the unwelcome guests of fear and doubt from her heart, let
love alone have sway.
They dined at a gorgeous restaurant in a great hotel. Tony reveled in the
splendor and richness of the setting, delighted in the flawless service,
the perfection of the strange and delectable viands which Alan ordered
for their consumption. Particularly she delighted in Alan himself and the
way he fitted into the richness and luxury. It was his rightful setting.
She could not imagine him in any of the shabby restaurants where she and
Dick had often dined so contentedly. Alan was a born aristocrat,
patrician of the patricians. His looks, his manner, everything about him
betrayed it. Most of all it was revealed in the way the waiters scurried
to do his bidding, bowed obsequiously before him, recognized him as the
authentic master, lord of the purple.
"So Carson really has gone to Mexico," Alan murmured as they dallied over
their salads, looking mostly into each other's eyes.
"Yes, he went yesterday. I hated to have him go. It is awfully
disagreeable and dangerous down there they say. He might get a fever or
get killed or something." Tony absent-mindedly nibbling a piece of roll
already saw Dick in her mind's eye the victim of an assassin's blade.
"No such luck!" thought Alan Massey bitterly. The thought brought a flash
of venom into his eyes which Tony unluckily caught.
"Alan! Why do you hate Dick so? He never did you any harm."
Tony Holiday did not know what outrageous injury Dick had done his
cousin, Alan Massey.
Alan was already suavely master of himself, the venom expunged
from his eyes.
"Why wouldn't I hate him, _Antoinetta mia_? You are half in love
"I am not," denied Tony indignantly. "He is just like Lar--." She broke
off abruptly, remembering Dick's flare of resentment at that familiar
formula, remembering too the kiss she had given him in the dimly-lit hall
in the Hostelry, the kiss which had not been precisely such a one as she
would have given Larry.
Alan's face darkened again.
"Oh, yes, you are. You are blushing."
"I am not." Then putting her hands up to her face and feeling it warm
she changed her tactics. "Well, what, if I am? I do care a lot about
Dick. I found out the other night that I cared a whole lot more than I
knew. It isn't like caring for Larry and Ted. It's different. For after
all he isn't my brother--never was--never will be. I'm a wretched flirt,
Alan. You know it as well as I do. I've let Dick keep on loving me,
knowing all the time I didn't mean to marry him. And I'm not a bit sure I
am going to marry you either."
"Well, anyway not for a long, long time. I want to go on the stage. I
can't put all of myself into my work and give it to you at the same time.
I don't want to get married. I don't dare to. I don't dare even let
myself care too much. I want to be free."
"You want to be loved."
"Of course. Every woman does."
Alan made an impatient gesture.
"I don't mean lip-worship. You are a woman, not a piece of statuary. Come
on now. Let's dance."
They danced. In her lover's arms, their feet keeping time to the
syncopated, stirring rhythms of the violins, their hearts beating to a
mightier harmony of nature's own brewing, Tony Holiday was far from being
a piece of statuary. She was all woman, a woman very much alive and very
much in love.
Alan bent over her.
"Tony, belovedest. There are more things than art in the world," he said
softly. "Don't you know it, feel it? There is life. And life is bigger
than your work or mine. We're both artists, but we'll be bigger artists
together. Marry me now. Don't make me wait. Don't make yourself wait. You
want it as much as I do. Say yes, sweetheart," he implored.
Tony shook her head vehemently. She was afraid. She knew that just now
all her dreams of success in her chosen art, all her love for the dear
ones at home were as nothing in comparison with this greater thing which
Alan called life and which she felt surging mightily within her. But she
also knew that this way lay madness, disloyalty, regret. She must be
strong, strong for Alan as well as for herself.
"Not yet," she whispered back. "Be patient, Alan. I love you,
The music came to an end. Many eyes followed the two as they went back to
their places at the table. They were incomparable artists. It was worth
missing one's own dance to see them have theirs. Aside from his wonderful
dancing and striking personality Alan was at all times a marked figure,
attracting attention wherever he went and whatever he did. The public
knew he had a superlative fortune which he spent magnificently as a
prince, and that he had a superlative gift which for all they were aware
he had flung wantonly away as soon as the money came into his hands.
Moreover he was even more interesting because of his superlatively bad
reputation which still followed him. The public would have found it hard
to believe that at last Alan Massey was leading the most temperate and
arduous of lives and devoting himself exclusively to one woman whom he
treated as reverently as if she were a goddess. The gazes focussed upon
Alan now inevitably included the girl with him, as lovely and young as
"Who was she?" they asked each other. "What was a girl like that doing
in Alan Massey's society?" To most of the observers it meant but one
thing, eventually if not now. Even the most cynical and world-hardened
thought it a pity, and these would have been confounded if they could
have heard just now his passionate plea for marriage. One did not
associate marriage with Alan Massey. One had not associated it too much
with his mother, one recalled.
Ted Holiday drifted into Berry's to buy floral offerings for the
reigning goddess who chanced still to be pretty Elsie Hathaway. Things
had gone on gayly since that night a month ago when he had stolen that
impudent kiss beneath the crescent moon. Not that there was anything at
all serious about the affair. College coquettes must have lovers, and
Ted Holiday would not have been himself if there had not been a pretty
sweetheart on hand.
By this time Ted had far outdistanced the other claimants for Elsie's
favor. But the victory had come high. His bank account was again sadly
humble in porportions and his bills at Berry's and at the candy shops
were things not to be looked into too closely. Nevertheless he was in a
gala humor that November morning. Aside from chronic financial
complications things were going very well with him. He was working just
hard enough to satisfy his newly-awakened common sense or conscience, or
whatever it was that was operating. He was having a jolly good time with
Elsie and basket ball and other things and college life didn't seem quite
such a bore and burden as it had hitherto. Moreover Uncle Phil had just
written that he would waive the ten dollar automobile tax for December in
consideration of the approach of Christmas, possibly also in
consideration of his nephew's fairly creditable showing on the new leaf
of the ledger though he did not say so. In any case it was a jolly old
world if anybody asked Ted Holiday that morning as he entered Berry's.
He made straight for Madeline as he invariably did. He was always
friendly and gay and casual with her, always careful to let no one
suspect he had ever known her any more intimately than at present--not
because he cared on his own account--Ted Holiday was no snob. But because
he had sense to see it was better for Madeline herself.
He was genuinely sorry for the girl. He could not help seeing how her
despondency grew upon her from week to week and that she appeared
miserably sick as well as unhappy. She looked worse than usual to-day, he
thought, white and heavy-eyed and unmistakably heavy-hearted. It troubled
him to see her so. Ted had the kindest heart in the world and always
wanted every one else to be as blithely content with life as he was
himself. Accordingly now under cover of his purchase of chrysanthemums
for Elsie he managed to get in a word in her ear.
"You look as if you needed cheering up a bit. How about the movies
to-night? Charlie's on. He'll fix you."
"No, thank you, I couldn't." The girl's voice was also prudently low,
and she busied herself with the flowers instead of looking at Ted as
"Why not?" he challenged, always impelled to insistence by denial.
"Because I--" And then to Ted's consternation the flowers flew out of her
hands, scattering in all directions, her face went chalky white and she
fell forward in a heavy faint in Ted Holiday's arms.
Ted got her to a chair, ordered another clerk to get water and spirits of
ammonia quick. His arm was still around her when Patrick Berry strayed
in from the back room. Berry's eyes narrowed. He looked the girl over
from head to foot, surveyed Ted Holiday also with sharp scrutiny and
knitted brows. The clerk returned with water and dashed off for the
ammonia as ordered. Madeline's eyes opened slowly, meeting Ted's anxious
blue ones as he bent over her.
"Ted!" she gasped. "Oh, Ted!"
Her eyes closed again wearily. Berry's frown deepened. His best
customer had hitherto in his hearing been invariably addressed by the
girl as Mr. Holiday.
In a moment Madeline's eyes opened again and she almost pushed Ted away
from her, shooting a frightened, deprecating glance at her employer as
she did so.
"I--I am all right now," she said, rising unsteadily.
"You are nothing of the sort, Madeline," protested Ted, also forgetting
caution in his concern. "You are sick. I'll get a taxi and take you
home. Mr. Berry won't mind, will you Berry?" appealed the best
customer, completely unaware of the queer, sharp look the florist was
bending upon him.
"No, she'd better go," agreed Berry shortly. "I'll call a cab." He walked
over to the telephone but paused, his hand on the receiver and looked
back at Ted. "Where does she live?" he asked. "Do you know?"
"Forty-nine Cherry," returned Ted still unconsciously revelatory.
The big Irishman got his number and called the cab. The clerk came back
with the ammonia and vanished with it into the back room. Berry walked
over to where Ted stood.
"See here, Mr. Holiday," he said. "I don't often go out of my way to give
college boys advice. Advice is about the one thing in the world nobody
wants. But I'm going to give you a bit. I like you and I liked your
brother before you. Here's the advice. Stick to the campus. Don't get
mixed up with Cherry Street. You wanted the chrysanthemums sent to Miss
Hathaway, didn't you?"
"I did." There was a flash in Ted's blue eyes. "Send 'em and send a dozen
of your best roses to Miss Madeline Taylor, forty-nine Cherry and mind
your business. There is the cab. Ready, Madeline?" As the girl appeared
in the doorway with her coat and hat on. "I'll take you home."
"Oh, no, indeed, it isn't at all necessary," protested Madeline. "You
have done quite enough as it is, Mr. Holiday. You mustn't bother." The
speaker's tone was cool, almost cold and very formal. She did not know
that Patrick Berry had heard that very different, fervid, "Ted! Oh, Ted!"
if indeed she knew it had ever passed her lips as she came reluctantly
back to the world of realities.
Ted held the door open for her. They passed out. But a moment later when
Berry peered out the window he saw the cab going in one direction and his
best customer strolling off in the other and nodded his satisfaction.
Sauntering along his nonchalant course, Madeline Taylor already half
forgotten, Ted Holiday came face to face with old Doctor Hendricks, a
rosy cheeked, white bearded, twinkling eyed Santa Claus sort of person
who had known his father and uncle and brother and had pulled himself
through various minor itises and sprains. Seeing the doctor reminded him
"Hello, Doc. Just the man I wanted to see. Want a job?"
"Got more jobs than I can tend to now, young man. Anything the matter
with you? You look as tough as a two year old rooster."
The old man's small, kindly, shrewd eyes scanned the lad's face
as he spoke.
"Smoking less, sleeping more, nerves steadier, working harder, playing
the devil lighter," he gummed up silently with satisfaction. "Good, he'll
come out a Holiday yet if we give him time."
"I am tough," Ted grinned back, all unconscious that he had been
diagnosed in that flitting instant of time. "Never felt better in my
life. Always agrees with me to be in training."
The old doctor nodded.
"I know. You young idiots will mind your coaches when you won't your
fathers and your doctors. What about the job?"
"There's a girl I know who works at Berry's flower shop. I am afraid she
is sick though she won't see a doctor. She fainted away just now while I
was in the store, keeled over into my arms, scared me half out of my
wits. I'm worried about her. I wish you would go and see her. She lives
down on Cherry Street."
"H-m!" The doctor's eyes studied the boy's face again but with less
complacency this time. Like Patrick Berry he thought a young Holiday
would better stick to the campus, not run loose on Cherry Street.
"Know the girl well?" he queried.
Ted hesitated, flushed, looked unmistakably embarrassed.
"Yes, rather," he admitted. "I ran round with her quite a little the
first of the summer. I got her the job at Berry's. Her grandfather, a
pious old stick in the mud, turned her out of his house. She had to do
something to earn her living. I hope she isn't going to be sick. It would
be an awful mess. She can't have much saved up. Go and see her, will you,
Doc? Forty-nine Cherry. Taylor is the name."
"H-m." The doctor made a note of these facts. "All right, I'll go. But
you had better keep away from Cherry Street, young man. It is not the
environment you belong in."
"Environment be--blessed!" said Ted. "Don't you begin on that sort of
rot, please, Doc. Old Pat Berry's just been giving me a lecture on the
same subject. You make me tired both of you. As if the girls on Cherry
Street weren't as good any day as the ones on the campus, just because
they work in shops and stores and the girls on the campus work--us," he
concluded with a grin. "I'm not an infant that has to be kept in a Kiddie
coop you know."
"Look out you don't land in a chicken coop," sniffed the doctor. "Very
well, you young sinner. Don't listen to me if you don't want to. I know I
might as well talk to the wind. You always were open to all the fool
germs going, Ted Holiday. Some day you'll own the old Doc knew best."
"I wouldn't admit to being so hanged well up on the chicken-roost
proposition myself if I were you," retorted Ted impudently. "So long. I'm
much obliged for your kind favors all but the moral sentiments. You can
have those back. You may need 'em to use over again."
So Ted went on his way, dropped in to see Elsie, had a cup of tea and
innumerable small cakes, enjoyed a foxtrot to phonograph music with the
rug rolled up out of the way, conversed amicably with the Ancient History
Prof himself, who wasn't such a bad sort as Profs go and had the merit of
being one of the few instructors who had not flunked Ted Holiday in his
course the previous year.
The next morning Ted found a letter from Doctor Hendricks in his mail
which he opened with some curiosity wondering what the old Doc could have
to say. He read the communication through in silence and tucking it in
his pocket walked out of the room as if he were in a dream, paying no
attention to the question somebody called after him as he went. He went
on to his classes but he hardly knew what was going on about him. His
mind seemed to have stopped dead like a stop watch with the reading of
the old doctor's letter.
He understood at last the full force of the trouble which engulfed
Madeline Taylor and why she had said that it would have been better for
her if that mad joy ride with him had ended life for her. The doctor had
gone to her as he had promised and had extracted the whole miserable
story. It seemed Madeline had married, or thought she had married,
Willis Hubbard against her grandfather's express command, a few weeks
after Ted had parted from her in Holyoke. In less than two months
Hubbard had disappeared leaving behind him the ugly fact that he already
had one wife living in Kansas City in spite of the pretense of a wedding
ceremony which he had gone through with Madeline. Long since
disillusioned but still having power and pride to suffer intensely the
latter found herself in the tragic position of being-a wife and yet no
wife. In her desperate plight she besought her grandfather's clemency
and forgiveness but that rigid old covenanter had declared that even as
she had made her bed in willful disobedience to his command so she
should lie on it for all of him.
It was then that she had turned as a last resort to Ted Holiday though
always hoping against hope that she could keep the real truth of her
unhappy situation from him.
"It is a bad affair from beginning to end," wrote the doctor. "I'd like
to break every rotten bone in that scoundrel's body but he has taken
mighty good care to effect a complete disappearance. That kind is never
willing to foot the bills for their own villainy. I am telling you the
story in order to make it perfectly clear that you are to keep out of the
business from now on. You have burned your fingers quite enough as it is
I gather. Don't see the girl. Don't write her. Don't telephone her. Let
her alone absolutely. Mind, these aren't polite requests. They are
orders. And if you don't obey them I'll turn the whole thing over to your
uncle double quick and I don't think you want me to do that. Don't worry
about the girl. I'll look after her now and later when she is likely to
need me more. But you keep hands off. That is flat--the girl's wish as
well as my orders."
And this was what Ted Holiday had to carry about with him all that bleak
day and a half sleepless, uneasy night. And in the morning he was
summoned home to the House on the Hill. Granny was dying.
IN DARK PLACES
The House on the Hill was a strange place to Tony and Ted those November
days, stranger than to the others who had walked day by day with the
sense of the approaching shadow always with them. Death itself was an
awesome and unaccustomed thing to them. They did not see how the others
bore it so well, took it all so calmly. To make matters worse, Uncle Phil
who never failed any one was stricken down with a bad case of influenza
and was unable to leave his bed. This of course made Margery also
practically _hors de combat_. The little folks spent most of their time
across the street in motherly Mrs. Lambert's care. Upon Ned Holiday's
children rested the chief burden of the hour.
Granny was rarely conscious and all three of her grandchildren coveted
the sad privilege of being near her when these brief moments of lucidity
came though Tony and Ted could not stand long periods of watching beside
the still form as Larry could and did. It was Larry that she most often
recognized. Sometimes though he was his father to her and she called him
"Ned" in such tones of yearning tenderness that it nearly broke down his
self control. Sometimes too he was Philip to her and this also was
bitterly hard for Larry missed his uncle's support woefully in this dark
hour. Ruth, Granny seemed to know, oftener indeed, than she did Tony to
the latter's keen grief though she acknowledged the justice of the stab.
For she had gone her selfish way leaving the stranger to play the loving
One night when the nurse was resting and Larry too had flung himself upon
the couch in the living room to snatch a little much needed relaxation,
leaving Ruth in charge of the sickroom, Ted drifted in and demanded to
take his turn at the watch, giving Ruth a chance to sleep. She demurred
at first, knowing how hard these vigils were for the restless, unhappy
lad. But seeing he was really in earnest she yielded. As she passed out
of the room her hand rested for a moment on the boy's bowed head. She had
come to care a great deal for sunny, kind-hearted Teddy, loved him for
himself and because she knew he loved Larry with deep devotion.
He looked up with a faint smile and gave her hand a squeeze.
"You are a darling, Ruthie," he murmured. "Don't know what we would ever
do without you."
And then he was alone with death and his own somber thoughts. He could
not get away from the memory of Madeline, could not help feeling with a
terrible weight of responsibility that he was more than a little to blame
for her plight. Whether he liked to think it or not he couldn't help
knowing that the whole thing had started with that foolish joy ride with
himself. Madeline had never risked her grandfather's displeasure till she
risked it for him. She had never gone anywhere with Hubbard till she went
because she was bitterly angry with himself because he had not kept his
promise--a promise which never should have been made in the first place.
And if he had not gone to Holyoke, hadn't behaved like an idiot that last
night, hadn't deserted her like a selfish cad to save his own precious
self--if none of these things had happened would Madeline still have
gone to Hubbard? Perhaps. But in his heart Ted Holiday had a hateful
conviction that she would not, that her wretchedness now was indirectly
if not directly chargeable to his own folly. It was terrible that such
little things should have such tremendous consequences but there it was.
All his life Ted Holiday had evaded responsibility and had found self
extenuation the easiest thing in the world. But somehow all at once he
seemed to have lost the power of letting himself off. He had no plea to
offer even to himself except "guilty." Was he going to do as Doctor
Hendricks commanded and let Madeline pay the price of her own folly alone
or was he going to pay with her? The night was full of the question.
The quiet figure on the bed stirred. Instantly the boy had forgotten
himself, remembered only Granny.
He bent over her.