Part 6 out of 7
"Granny, don't you know me? It's Teddy," he pleaded.
The white lips quivered into a faint smile. The frail hand on the cover
lid groped vaguely for his.
"I know--Teddy," the lips formed slowly with an effort.
Ted kissed her, tears in his eyes.
"Be--a man, dear," the lips breathed softly. "Be--" and Granny was off
again to a world of unconsciousness from which she had returned a moment
to give her message to the grief stricken lad by her side.
To Ted in his overwrought condition the words were almost like a voice
from heaven, a sacred command. To be a man meant to face the hardest
thing he had ever had to face in his life. It meant marrying Madeline
Taylor, not leaving her like a coward to pay by herself for something
which he himself had helped to start. He rose softly and went to the
window, staring out into the night. A few moments later he turned back
wearing a strange uplifted sort of look, a look perhaps such, as Percival
bore when he beheld the Grail.
Strange forces were at work in the House on the Hill that night. Ruth
had gone to her room to rest as Ted bade her but she had not slept in
spite of her intense weariness. She had almost lost the way of sleep
latterly. She was always so afraid of not being near when Larry needed
her. The night watches they had shared so often now had brought them
very, very close to each other, made their love a very sacred as well as
very strong thing.
Ruth knew that the time was near now when she would have to go away from
the Hill. After Granny went there would be no excuse for staying on. If
she did not go Larry would. Ruth knew that very well and did not intend
the latter should happen.
She had laid her plans well. She would go and take a secretarial course
somewhere. She had made inquiries and found that there was always demand
for secretaries and that the training did not take so long as other
professional education did. She could sell her rings and live on the
money they brought her until she was self supporting. She did not want to
dispose of her pearls if she could help it. She wanted to hold on to them
as the link to her lost past. Yes, she would leave the Hill. It was quite
the right thing to do.
But oh, what a hard thing it was! She did not see how she was ever going
to face life alone under such hard, queer conditions without Doctor
Philip, without dear Mrs. Margery and the children, without Larry,
especially without Larry. For that matter what would Larry do without
her? He needed her so, loved her so much. Poor Larry!
And suddenly Ruth sat up in bed. As clearly as if he had been in the
room with her she heard Larry's voice calling to her. She sprang up
and threw a dark blue satin negligee around her, went out of the room,
down the stairs, seeming to know by an infallible instinct where her
On the threshold of the living room she paused. Larry was pacing the
floor nervously, his face drawn and gray in the dim light of the
flickering gas. Seeing her he made a swift stride in her direction, took
both her hands in his.
"Ruth, why did you come?" There was an odd tension in his voice.
"You called me, didn't you? I thought you did." Her eyes were wondering.
"I heard you say 'Ruth' as plain as anything."
He shook his head.
"No, I didn't call you out loud. Maybe I did with my heart though. I
wanted you so."
He dropped her hands as abruptly as he had taken them.
"Ruth, I've got to marry you. I can't go on like this. I've tried to
fight it, to be patient and hang on to myself as Uncle Phil wanted me to.
But I can't go on. I'm done."
He flung himself into a chair. His head went down on the table. The clock
ticked quietly on the mantel. What was Death upstairs to Time? What were
Youth and Love and Grief down here? These things were merely eddies in
the great tide of Eternity.
For a moment Ruth stood very still. Then she went over and laid a hand on
the bowed head, the hand that wore the wedding ring.
"Larry, Larry dear," she said softly. "Don't give up like that. It
breaks my heart." There was a faint tremor in her voice, a hint of tears
not far off.
He lifted his head, the strain of his long self mastering wearing thin
almost to the breaking point at last, for once all but at the mercy of
the dominant emotion which possessed him, his love for the girl at his
side who stood so close he could feel her breathing, got the faint violet
fragrance of her. And yet he must not so much as touch her hand.
The clock struck three, solemn, inexorable strokes. Ruth and Larry and
the clock seemed the only living things in the quiet house. Larry brushed
his hand over his eyes, got to his feet.
"Ruth, will you marry me?"
The shock of her quiet consent brought Larry back a little to realities.
"Wait, Ruth. Don't agree too soon. Do you realize what it means to marry
me? You may be married already. Your husband may return and find you
"I know," said Ruth steadily. "There must be something wrong with me,
Larry. I can't seem to care. I can't seem to make myself feel as if I
belonged to any one else except to you. I don't think I do belong to any
one else. I was born over in the wreck. I was born yours. You saved me. I
would have died if you hadn't gotten me out from under the beams and
worked over and brought me back to life when everybody else gave me up as
dead. I wouldn't have been alive for my husband if you hadn't saved me. I
am yours, Larry. If you want me to marry you I will. If you want me--any
way--I am yours. I love you."
Larry drew her into his arms and kissed her--the first time he had ever
kissed any girl in his life except his sister. She lay in his arms, her
fragrant pale gold hair brushing his cheek. He kissed her over and over
passionately, almostly roughly in the storm of his emotion suddenly
unpent. Then he was Larry Holiday again. He pushed her gently from him,
remorse in his gray eyes.
"Forgive me, Ruth. It's all wrong. I'm all wrong. We can't do it. I
shouldn't have kissed you. I shouldn't have touched you--shouldn't have
let you come to me like this. You must go now, dear. I am sorry."
Ruth faced him in silence a moment then bowed her head, turned and walked
away to the door meekly like a chidden child. Her loosened hair fell like
a golden shower over her shoulders. It was all Larry could do to keep
from going after her, taking her in his arms again. But he stood grimly
planted by the table, gripping its edge as if to keep himself anchored.
He dared not stir one inch toward that childish figure in the dark robe.
On the threshold Ruth turned, flung back her hair and looked back at him.
There was a kind of fearless exaltation and pride on her lovely young
face and in her shining eyes.
"I don't know whether you are right or wrong, Larry, or rather when you
are right and when you are wrong. It is all mixed up. It seems as if it
must be right to care or we wouldn't be doing it so hard, as if God
couldn't let us love like this if he didn't mean we should be happy
together, belong to each other. Why should He make love if He didn't want
lovers to be happy?"
It was an argument as old as the garden of Eden but to Ruth and Larry it
was as if it were being pronounced for the first time for themselves,
here in the dead of night, in the old House on the Hill, as they felt
themselves drawn to each other by the all but irresistible impulse of
their mutual love.
"Maybe," went on Ruth, "I forgot my morals along with the rest I forgot.
I don't seem to care very much about right and wrong to-night. You
called me. I heard you and I came. I am here." Her lovely, proud little
head was thrown back, her eyes still shining with that fearless elation.
"Ruth! Don't, dear. You don't know what you are saying. I've got to care
about right and wrong for both of us. Please go. I--I can't stand it."
He left his post by the table then came forward and held open the door
for her. She passed out, went up the stairs, her hair falling in a wave
of gold down to her waist. She did not turn back.
Larry waited at the foot of the stairs until he heard the door of her
room close upon her and then he too went up, to Granny's room. Ted met
him at the threshold in a panic of fear and grief.
"Larry--I think--oh--" and Ted bolted unable to finish what he had begun
to say or to linger on that threshold of death.
The nurse was bending over Madame Holiday forcing some brandy between the
blue lips. Larry was by the bedside in an instant. The nurse stepped back
with a sad little shake of the head. There was nothing she could do and
she knew it, knew also there was nothing the young doctor could do
professionally. He knelt, chafed the cold hands. The pale lips quivered a
little, the glazed eyes opened for a second.
"Ned--Larry--give Philip love--" That was all. The eyes closed. There was
a little flutter of passing breath. Granny was gone.
It was two days after Granny's funeral. Ted had gone back to college.
Tony would leave for New York on the morrow. Life cannot wait on
death. It must go on its course as inevitably as a river must go its
way to the sea.
Yet to Tony it seemed sad and heartless that it should be so. She was
troubled by her selfishness, first to Granny living and now to Granny
dead. She said as much to her uncle sorrowfully.
"It isn't really heartless or unkind," he comforted her. "We have to go
on with our work. We can't lay it down or scamp it just because dear
Granny's work is done. It is no more wrong for you to go back to your
play than it is for me to go back to my doctoring."
"I know," sighed Tony. "But I can't help feeling remorseful. I had so
much time and Granny had so little and yet I wasn't willing to give her
even a little of mine. I would have if I had known though. I knew I was
selfish but I didn't know how selfish. I wish you had told me, Uncle
Phil. Why didn't you? You told Ruth. You let her help. Why wouldn't you
let me?" she half reproached.
"I tried to do what was best for us all. I wanted to find a reason for
keeping Ruth with us and I did not think then and I don't think now that
it was right or necessary to keep you back for the little comfort it
could have brought to Granny. You must not worry, dear child. The blame
if there is any is mine. I know you would have stayed if I had let you."
Back in college Ted sorted out his personal letters from the sheaf of
bills. Among them was one from Madeline Taylor, presumably the answer to
the one Ted had written her from the House on the Hill. He stared at the
envelope, dreading to open it. He was too horribly afraid of what it
might contain. Suddenly he threw the letter down on the table and his
head went down on top of it.
"I can't do it," he groaned. "I can't. I won't. It's too hard."
But in a moment his head popped up again fiercely.
"Confound you!" he muttered. "You can and you will. You've got to.
You've made your bed. Now lie on it." And he opened the letter.
"I can't tell you," wrote the girl, "how your letter touched me. Don't
think I don't understand that it isn't because you love me or really want
to marry me that you are asking me to do it. It is all the finer and more
wonderful because you don't and couldn't, ever. You had nothing to
gain--everything to lose. Yet you offered it all as if it were the most
ordinary gift in the world instead of the biggest.
"Of course, I can't let you sacrifice yourself like that for me. Did you
really think I would? I wouldn't let you be dragged down into my life
even if you loved me which you don't. Some day you will want to marry a
girl--not somebody like me--but your own kind and you can go to her clean
because you never hurt me, never did me anything but good ever. You
lifted me up always. But there must have been something still stronger
that pulled me down. I couldn't stay up. I was never your kind though I
loved you just as much as if I were. Forgive my saying it just this once.
It will be the last time. This is really good-by. Thank you over and over
A mist blurred Ted Holiday's eyes as he finished the letter. He was free.
The black winged vulture thing which had hovered over him for days was
gone. By and by he would be thankful for his deliverance but just now
there was room only in his chivalrous boy's heart for one overmastering
emotion, pity for the girl and her needlessly wrecked life. What a
hopeless mess the whole thing was! And what could he do to help her since
she would not take what he had offered in all sincerity? He must think
out a way somehow.
THE PEDIGREE OF PEARLS
"Where is Larry?" asked Doctor Holiday a few days later coming into the
dining room at supper time. "I haven't seen him all the afternoon."
Margery dropped into her chair with a tired little sigh.
"There is a note from him at your place. I think he has gone out of town.
John told me he took him to the three ten train."
"H--m!" mused the doctor. "Where is Ruth?" he looked up to ask.
"Ruth went to Boston at noon. At least so Bertha tells me." Bertha
was the maid. "She did not say good-by to me. I thought possibly she
had to you!"
Her husband shook his head, perplexed and troubled.
"Dear Uncle Phil," ran Larry's message.
"Ruth has gone to Boston. She left a letter for me saying good-by and
asking me to say good-by to the rest of you for her. Said she would write
as soon as she had an address and that no one was to worry about her. She
would be quite all right and thought it was best not to bother us by
telling us about her plans until she was settled."
"Of course I am going after her. I don't know where she is but I'll find
her. I've got to, especially as I was the one who drove her away. I broke
my promise to you. I did make love to her and asked her to marry me the
night Granny died. She said she would and then of course I said she
couldn't and we've not seen each other alone since so I don't know what
she thinks now. I don't know anything except that I'm half crazy."
"I know it is horribly selfish to go off and leave you like this when you
need me especially. Please forgive me. I'll be back as soon as I can or
send Ruth or we'll both come. And don't worry. I'm not going to do
anything rash or wrong or anything that will hurt you or Ruth. I am sorry
about the other night. I didn't mean to smash up like that."
The doctor handed the letter over to his wife.
"Why didn't he wait until he had her address? How can he possibly find
her in a city like Boston with not the slightest thing to go on?"
Doctor Holiday smiled wearily.
"Wait! Do you see Larry waiting when Ruth is out of his sight? My dear,
don't you know Larry is the maddest of the three when he gets under way?"
"The maddest and the finest. Don't worry, Phil. He is all right. He won't
do anything rash just as he tells you."
"You can't trust a man in love, especially a young idiot who waited a
full quarter century to get the disease for the first time. But you are
right. I'd trust him anywhere, more rather than less because of that
confession of his. I've wondered that he didn't break his promise long
before this. He is only human and his restraint has been pretty nearly
super-human. I don't believe he would have smashed up now as he calls it
if his nerves hadn't been strained about to the limit by taking all the
responsibility for Granny at the end. It was terrible for the poor lad."
"It was terrible for you too, Phil. Larry isn't the only one who has
suffered. I do wish those foolish youngsters could have waited a little
and not thrown a new anxiety on you just now. But I suppose we can't
blame them under the circumstances. Isn't it strange, dear? Except for
the children sleeping up in the nursery you and I are absolutely alone
for the first time since I came to the House on the Hill."
He nodded a little sadly. His father was gone long since and now Granny
too. And Ned's children were all grown up, would perhaps none of them
ever come again in the old way. Their wings were strong enough now to
make strange flights.
"We've filled your life rather full, Margery mine," he said. "I hope
there are easier days ahead."
"I don't want any happier ones," said Margery as she slipped her
hand into his.
The next few days were a perfect nightmare to Larry. Naturally he found
no trace of Ruth, did not know indeed under what name she had chosen to
go. The city had swallowed her up and the saddest part of it was she had
wanted to be swallowed, to get away from himself. She had gone for his
sake he knew, because he had told her he could endure things no longer.
She had taken him at his word and vanished utterly. For all her
gentleness and docility Ruth had tremendous fortitude. She had taken this
hard, rash step alone in the dark for love's sake, just as she was ready
that unforgettable night to take that rasher step with him to marriage or
something less than marriage had he permitted it. She would have
preferred to marry him, not to bother with abstractions of right and
wrong, to take happiness as it offered but since he would not have it so
she had lost herself.
Despair, remorse, anxiety, loneliness held him-in thrall while he roamed
the streets of the old city, almost hopeless now of finding her but still
doggedly persistent in his search. Another man under such a strain of
mind and body would have gone on a stupendous thought drowning carouse.
Larry Holiday had no such refuge in his misery. He took it straight
without recourse to anaesthetic of any sort. And on the fourth day when
he had been about to give up in defeat and go home to the Hill to wait
for word of Ruth a crack of light dawned.
Chancing to be strolling absent mindedly across the Gardens he ran into a
college classmate of his, one Gary Eldridge, who shook his hand with
crushing grip and announced that it was a funny thing Larry's bobbing up
like that because he had been hearing the latter's name pretty
consecutively all the previous afternoon on the lips of the daintiest
little blonde beauty it had been his luck to behold in many a moon, a
regular Greuze girl in fact, eyes and all.
Naturally there was no escape for Eldridge after that. Larry Holiday
grabbed him firmly and demanded to know if he had seen Ruth Annersley and
if he had and knew where she was to tell him everything quick. It was
Considering Larry Holiday's haggard face and tense voice Eldridge
admitted the importance and spun his yarn. No, he did not know where Ruth
Annersley was nor if the Greuze girl was Ruth Annersley at all. He did
know the person he meant was in the possession of the famous Farringdon
pearls, a fact immensely interesting to Fitch and Larrabee, the jewelers
in whose employ he was.
"Your Ruth Annersley or Farringdon or whoever she is brought the pearls
in to our place yesterday to have them appraised. You can bet we sat up
and took notice. We didn't know they had left Australia but here they
were right under our noses absolutely unmistakable, one of the finest
sets of matched pearls in the world. You Holidays are so hanged smart. I
wonder it didn't occur to you to bring 'em to us anyway. We're the boys
that can tell you who's who in the lapidary world. Pearls have pedigrees,
my dear fellow, quite as faithfully recorded as those of prize pigs."
Larry thumped his cranium disgustedly. It did seem ridiculous now that
the very simple expedient of going to the master jewelers for information
had not struck any of them. But it hadn't and that was the end of it. He
made Eldridge sit down in the Gardens then and there however to tell him
all he knew about the pearls but first and most important did the other
have any idea where the owner of the pearls was? He had none. The girl
was coming in again in a few days to hear the result of a cable they had
sent to Australia where the pearls had been the last Larrabee and Fitch
knew. She had left no address. Eldridge rather thought she hadn't cared
to be found. Larry bit his lip at that and groaned inwardly. He too was
afraid it was only too true, and it was all his fault.
This was the story of the pearls as his friend briefly outlined it for
Larry Holiday's benefit. The Farringdon pearls had originally belonged to
a Lady Jane Farringdon of Farringdon Court, England. They had been the
gift of a rejected lover who had gone to Africa to drown his
disappointment and had died there after having sent the pearls home to
the woman he had loved fruitlessly and who was by this time the wife of
another man, her distant cousin Sir James Farringdon. At her death Lady
Jane had given the pearls to her oldest son for his bride when he should
have one. He too had died however before he had attained to the bride.
The pearls went to his younger brother Roderick a sheep raiser in
Australia who had amassed a fortune and discarded the title. The sheep
raiser married an Australian girl and gave her the pearls. They had two
children, a girl and a boy. Roderick was since deceased. Possibly his
wife also was dead. They had cabled to find out details. But it looked as
if the little blonde lady who possessed the pearls although she did not
know where she got them was in all probability the daughter of Roderick
Farringdon, the granddaughter of the famous beauty, Lady Jane. She was
probably also a great heiress. The sheep raiser and his father-in-law had
both been reported to be wallowing in money. "Oh boy!" Eldridge had ended
"But if Ruth is a person of so much importance why did they let her
travel so far alone with those valuable pearls in her possession? Why
haven't they looked her up? I suppose she told you about the wreck
and--the rest of it?"
"She did, sang the praises of the family of Holiday in a thousand keys.
Your advertisements were all on the Annersley track you see and they
would all be out on the Farringdon one. The paths didn't happen to cross
"You don't know anything about, Geoffrey Annersley do you?" Larry asked
"Not a thing. We are jewelers not detectives or clairvoyants. It is only
the pearls we are up on and we've evidently slipped a cog on them. We
should have known when they came to the States but we didn't."
"I'll cable the American consul at Australia myself. It's the first
real clue we have had--the rest has been working in the dark. The first
thing though is to find Ruth." And Larry Holiday looked so very
determined and capable of doing anything he set out to do that Gary
Eldridge grinned a little.
"Wonderful what falling in love will do for a chap," he reflected. "Used
to think old Larry was rather a slow poke but he seems to have developed
into some whirlwind. Don't wonder considering what a little peach the
girl is. Hope the good Lord has seen fit to recall Geoffrey Annersley to
his heaven if he really did marry her."
Aloud he promised to telephone Larry the moment the owner of the pearls
crossed the threshold of Larrabee and Fitch and to hold her by main force
if necessary until Larry could get there. In the meantime he suggested
that she had seemed awfully interested in the Australia part of the story
and it was very possible she had gone to the--
"Library." Larry took the words out of his mouth and bolted without any
formality of farewell into the nearest subway entrance.
His friend gazed after him.
"And this is Larry Holiday who used to flee if a skirt fluttered in his
direction," he murmured. "Ah well, it takes us differently. But it gets
us all sooner or later."
Larry's luck had turned at last. In the reading room of the Public
Library he discovered a familiar blonde head bent over a book. He strode
to the secluded corner where she sat "reading up" on Australia.
"Ruth!" Larry tried to speak quietly though he felt like raising the
echoes of the sacred scholarly precincts.
The reader looked up startled, wondering. Her face lit with quick
"Larry, oh Larry, I'm finding myself," she whispered breathlessly.
"I'm glad but I'm gladder that I'm finding--yourself. Come on outside
sweetheart. I want to shout. I can't whisper and I won't. I'll get us
both put out if you won't come peaceably."
"I'll come," said Ruth meekly.
Outside in the corridor she raised blue eyes to gray ones.
"I didn't mean you to find me--yet," she sighed.
"So I should judge. I didn't think a mite of a fairy girl like you could
be so cruel. Some day I'll exact full penance for all you've made me
suffer but just now we'll waive that and go over to the Plaza and have a
high tea and talk. But first I'm going to kiss you. I don't care if
people are looking. All Boston can look if it likes. I'm going to do it."
But it was only a scrub woman and not all Boston who witnessed that kiss,
and she paid no attention to the performance. Even had she seen it is
hardly probable that she would have been vastly startled at the sight.
She was a very old woman and more than likely she had seen such sights
before. Perhaps she had even been kissed by a man herself, once upon a
time. We hope so.
The next day Larry and Ruth came home to the Hill, radiantly happy and
full of their strange adventures. Ruth was wearing an immensely becoming
new dark blue velvet suit, squirrel furs and a new hat which to Margery's
shrewd feminine eyes betrayed a cost all out of proportion to its
minuteness. She was looking exquisitely lovely in her new finery. Scant
wonder Larry could not keep his eyes off of her. Margery and Philip were
something in the same state.
"On the strength of my being an heiress maybe Larry thought I might
afford some new clothes," Ruth confessed. "Of course he paid for
them--temporarily," she had added with a charming blush and a side long,
deprecating glance at Doctor Holiday, senior. She did not want him to
disapprove of her for letting Larry buy her pretty clothes nor blame
Larry for doing it.
But he only laughed and remarked that he would have gone shopping with
her himself if he had any idea the results would be so satisfactory.
It was only when he was alone with Margery that he shook his head.
"Those crazy children behave as if everything were quite all right and as
if they could run right out any minute and get married. She doesn't even
wear her ring any more and they both appear to think the fact it
presumably represents can be disposed of as summarily."
"Let them alone," advised his wife. "They are all right. It won't do them
a bit of harm to let themselves go a bit. Larry does his worshiping with
his eyes and maybe with his tongue when they are alone. I don't blame
him. She is a perfect darling. And it is much better for him not to
pretend he doesn't care when we all know he does tremendously. It was
crushing it all back that made him so miserable and smash up as he wrote
you. I don't believe he smashed very irretrievably anyway. He is too much
of a Holiday."
The doctor smiled a little grimly.
"You honor us, my dear. Even Holidays are men!"
"Thank heaven," said Margery.
THE FIERY FURNACE
A few days after the return of Larry and Ruth to the Hill Doctor Holiday
found among his mail an official looking document bearing the seal of the
college which Ted attended and which was also his own and Larry's alma
mater. He opened it carelessly supposing it to be an alumni appeal of
some sort but as his-eyes ran down the typed sheet his face grew grave
and his lips set in a tight line. The communication was from the
president and informed its recipient that his nephew Edward Holiday was
expelled from the college on the confessed charge of gambling.
"We are particularly sorry to be obliged to take this action," wrote the
president, "inasmuch as Edward has shown recently a marked improvement
both in class-room work and general conduct which has gone far to
eradicate the unfortunate impression made by the lawlessness of his
earlier career. But we cannot overlook so flagrant an offense and are
regretfully forced to make an example of the offender. As you know
gambling is strictly against the rules of the institution and your nephew
played deliberately for high stakes as he admits and made a considerable
sum of money--three hundred dollars to be precise--which he disposed of
immediately for what purpose he refuses to tell. Again regretting," et
cetera, et cetera, the letter closed.
But there was also a hand written postscript and an enclosure.
The postscript ran as follows:
"As a personal friend and not as the president of the college I am
sending on the enclosed which may or may not be of importance. A young
girl, Madeline Taylor by name, of Florence, Massachusetts, who has until
recently been employed in Berry's flower shop, was found dead this
morning with the gas jet fully turned on, the inference being clearly
suicide. A short time ago a servant from the lodging house where the
dead girl resided came to me with a letter addressed to your nephew. It
seems Miss Taylor had given the girl the letter to mail the previous
evening and had indeed made a considerable point of its being mailed.
Nevertheless the girl had forgotten to do so and the next day was too
frightened to do it fearing the thing might have some connection with
the suicide. She meant to give it to Ted in person but finding him out
decided at the last moment to deliver it to me instead. I am sending the
letter to you, as I received it, unopened, and have not and shall not
mention the incident to any one else. I should prefer and am sure that
you will also wish that your nephew's name shall not be associated in
any way with the dead girl's. Frankly I don't believe the thing contains
any dynamite whatever but I would rather you handled the thing instead
"Believe me, my dear Holiday, I am heartily sick, and sorry over the
whole matter of Ted's expulsion. If we had not had his own word for it I
should not have believed him guilty. Even now I have a feeling that there
was more behind the thing than we got, something perhaps more to his
credit than he was willing to tell."
Philip Holiday picked up the enclosed letter addressed to Ted and looked
at it as dubiously as if indeed it might have contained dynamite. The
scrawling handwriting was painfully familiar. And the mention of
Florence as the dead girl's home was disagreeably corroborating evidence.
What indeed was behind it all?
Steeling his will he tore open the sealed envelope. Save for a folded
slip of paper it was quite empty. The folded slip was a check for three
hundred dollars made payable to Madeline Taylor and signed with Ted
Here was dynamite and to spare for Doctor Holiday. Beside the uneasy
questions this development conjured the catastrophe of the boy's
expulsion took second place. And yet he forced himself not to judge until
he had heard Ted's own story. What was love for if it could not find
faith in time of need?
He said nothing to any one, even his wife, of the president's letter and
that disconcerting check which evidently represented the results of the
boy's law breaking. All day he looked for a letter from Ted himself and
hoped against hope that he would appear in person. His anxiety grew as he
heard nothing. What had become of the boy? Where had he betaken himself
with his shame and trouble? How grave was his trouble? It was a bad day
for Philip Holiday and a worse night.
But the morning brought a letter from his nephew, mailed ominously enough
from a railway post office in northern Vermont. The doctor tore it open
with hands that trembled a little. One thing at least he was certain of.
However bad the story the lad had to tell it would be the truth. He could
count on that.
"Dear Uncle Phil--" it ran. "By the time you get this I shall be over the
border and enlisted, I hope, with the Canadians. I am horribly sorry to
knife you like this and go off without saying good-by and leaving such a
mess behind but truly it is the best thing I could do for the rest of
you as well as myself.
"They will write you from college and tell you I am fired--for gambling.
But they won't tell you the whole story because they don't know it. I
couldn't tell them. It concerned somebody else besides myself. But you
have a right to know everything and I am going to tell it to you and
there won't be anything shaved off or tacked on to save my face either.
It will be straight stuff on my honor as a Holiday which means as much to
me as it does to you and Larry whether you believe it or not."
Then followed a straightforward account of events from the first
ill-judged pick-up on the train and the all but fatal joy ride to the
equally ill-judged kisses in Cousin Emma's garden.
"I hate like the mischief to put such things down on paper," wrote the
boy, "but I said I'd tell the whole thing and I will, even if it does
come out hard, so you will know it isn't any worse than it is. It is bad
enough I'll admit, I hadn't any business to make fool love to her when I
really didn't care a picayune. And I hadn't any business to be there in
Holyoke at all when you thought I was at Hal's. I did go to Hal's but I
only stayed two days. The rest of the time I was with Madeline and knew I
was going to be when I left the Hill. That part can't look any worse to
you than it does to me. It was a low-down trick to play on you when you
had been so white about the car and everything. But I did it and I can't
undo it. I can only say I am sorry. I did try afterward to make up a
little bit by keeping my word about the studying. Maybe you'll let that
count a little on the other side of the ledger. Lord knows I need
anything I can get there. It is little enough, more shame to me!"
Then followed the events of the immediately preceding months from
Madeline Taylor's arrival in the college town on to the stunning
revelation of old Doctor Hendricks' letter.
"You don't know how the thing made me feel. I couldn't help feeling more
or less responsible. For after all I did start the thing and though
Madeline was always too good a sport to blame me I knew and I am sure she
knew that she wouldn't have taken up with Hubbard if I hadn't left her in
the lurch just when she had gotten to care a whole lot too much for me.
Besides I couldn't help thinking what it would have been like if Tony had
been caught in a trap like that. It didn't seem to me I could stand off
and let her go to smash alone though I could see Doc Hendricks had common
sense on his side when he ordered me to keep out of the whole business.
"I had all this on my mind when I came home that last time when Granny
was dying. I had it lodged in my head that it was up to me to straighten
things out by marrying Madeline myself though I hated the idea like death
and destruction and I knew it would about kill the rest of you. I wrote
and asked her to marry me that night after Granny went. She wouldn't do
it. It wasn't because she didn't love me either. I guess it was rather
because she did that she wouldn't. She wouldn't pull me down in the quick
sands with her. Whatever you may think of what she was and did you will
have to admit that she was magnificent about this. She might have saved
herself at my expense and she wouldn't. Remember that, Uncle Phil, and
don't judge her about the rest."
Doctor Holiday ceased reading a moment and gazed into the fire. By the
measure of his full realization of what such a marriage would have meant
to his young nephew he paid homage to the girl in her fine courage in
refusing to take advantage of a chivalrous boy's impulsive generosity
even though it left her the terrible alternative which later she had
taken. And he thought with a tender little smile that there was something
also rather magnificent about a lad who would offer himself thus
voluntarily and knowingly a living sacrifice for "dear Honor's sake." He
went back to the letter.
"But I still felt I had to do something to help though she wouldn't
accept the way I first offered. I knew she needed money badly as she
wasn't able to work and I wanted to give her some of mine. I knew I had
plenty or would have next spring when I came of age. But I was sure you
wouldn't let me have any of it now without knowing why and Larry wouldn't
lend me any either, sight unseen. I wouldn't have blamed either of you
for refusing. I haven't deserved to be taken on trust.
"The only other way I knew of to get money quick was to play for it. I
have fool's luck always at cards. Last year I played a lot for money.
Larry knew and rowed me like the devil for it last spring. No wonder. He
knew how Dad hated it. So did I. I'd heard him rave on the subject often
enough. But I did it just the same as I did a good many other things I am
not very proud to remember now. But I haven't done it this year--at least
only a few times. Once I played when I'd sent Madeline all the money I
had for her traveling expenses and once or twice beside I did it on my
own account because I was so darned sick of toeing a chalk mark I had to
go on a tangent or bust. I am not excusing it. I am not excusing
anything. I am just telling the truth.
"Anyhow the other night I played again in good earnest. There were quite
a number of fellows in the game and we all got a bit excited and plunged
more than we meant to especially myself and Ned Delany who was out to
get me if he could. He hates me like the seven year itch anyway because I
caught him cheating at cards once and said so right out in meeting. I had
absolutely incredible luck. I guess the devil or the angels were on my
side. I swept everything, made about three hundred dollars in all. The
fellows paid up and I banked the stuff and mailed Madeline a check for
the whole amount the first thing. I don't know what would have happened
if I had lost instead of winning. I didn't think about that. A true
gambler never does I reckon.
"But I want to say right here and now, Uncle Phil, that I am through with
the business. The other night sickened me of gambling for good and all.
Even Dad couldn't have hated it any more than I do this minute. It is
rotten for a man, kills his nerves and his morals and his common sense.
I'm done. I'll never make another penny that way as long as I live. But
I'm not sorry I did it this once no matter how hard I'm paying for it. If
I had it to do over again I'd do precisely the same thing. I wonder if
you can understand that, Uncle Phil, or whether you'll think I'm just
"I thought then I was finished with the business but as a matter of fact
I was just starting on it. Somebody turned state's evidence. I imagine it
was Delany though I don't know. Anyhow somebody wrote the president an
anonymous letter telling him there was a lot of gambling going on and I
was one of the worst offenders, and thoughtfully suggested the old boy
should ask me how much I made the other night and what I did with it. Of
course that finished me off. I was called before the board and put
through a holy inquisition. Gee! They piled up not only the gambling
business but all the other things I'd done and left undone for two years
and a half and dumped the whole avalanche on my head at once. Whew! It
was fierce. I am not saying I didn't deserve it. I did, if not for this
particular thing for a million other times when I've gone scot-free.
"They tried to squeeze out of me who the other men involved were but I
wouldn't tell. I could have had a neat little come back on Delany if I
had chosen but I don't play the game that way and I reckon he knew it and
banked on my holding my tongue. I'd rather stand alone and take what was
coming to me and I got it too good and plenty. They tried to make me tell
what I did with the money. That riled me. It was none of their business
and I told 'em so. Anyway I couldn't have told even if it would have done
me any good on Madeline's account. I wouldn't drag her into it.
"Finally they dismissed me and said they would let me know later what
they would do about my case. But there wasn't any doubt in my mind what
they were going to do nor in theirs either, I'll bet. I was damned. They
had to fire me--couldn't help it when I was caught with the goods under
their very noses. I think a good many of them wished I hadn't been
caught, that they could have let me off some way, particularly Prof.
Hathaway. He put out his hand and patted my shoulder when I went out and
I knew he was mighty sorry. He has been awfully decent to me always
especially since I have been playing round with his daughter Elsie this
fall and I guess it made him feel bad to have me turn out such a black
sheep. I wished I could tell him the whole story but I couldn't. I just
had to let him think it was as bad as it looked.
"I had hardly gotten back into the Frat house when I was called to the
telephone. It was Madeline. She thanked me for sending her the money but
said she was sending the check back as she didn't need it, had found a
way out of her difficulties. She was going on a long, long journey in
fact, and wouldn't see me again. Said she wanted to say good-by and wish
me all kinds of luck and thank me for what she was pleased to call my
goodness to her. And then she hung up before I could ask any questions or
get it through my head what she meant by her long, long journey. My brain
wasn't working very lively after what I'd been through over there at the
board meeting anyway and I was too wrapped up in my own troubles to
bother much about hers at the moment, selfish brute that I am.
"But the next morning I understood all right. She had found her way out
and no mistake, just turned on the gas and let herself go. She was dead
when they found her. I don't blame her, Uncle Phil. It was too hard for
her. She couldn't go through with it. Life had been too hard for her from
the beginning. She never had half a chance. And in the end we killed her
between us, her pious old psalm singing hypocrite of a grandfather, the
rotter who ruined her, and myself, the prince of fools.
"I went to see her with the old Doc. And, Uncle Phil, she was beautiful.
Not even Granny looked more peaceful and happy than she did lying there
dead with the little smile on her lips as if she were having a pleasant
dream. But the scar was there on her forehead--the scar I put there. I've
got a scar of my own too. It doesn't show on the surface but it is there
for all that and always will be. I shan't talk about it but I'll never
forget as long as I live that part of the debt she paid was mine. It is
_mea culpa_ for me always so far as she is concerned.
"Her grandfather arrived while I was there. If ever there was a man
broken, mind and body and spirit he was. I couldn't help feeling sorry
for him. Of the two I would much rather have been Madeline lying there
dead than that poor old chap living with her death on his conscience.
"Later I got my official notice from the board. I was fired. I wanted to
get out of college. I'm out for better or worse. Uncle Phil, don't think
I don't care. I know how terribly you are going to be hurt and that it
will be just about the finish of poor old Larry. I am not very proud of
it myself--being catapulted out in disgrace where the rest of you left
trailing clouds of glory. It isn't only what I have done just now. It is
all the things I have done and haven't done before that has smashed me in
the end--my fool attitude of have a good time and damn the expense. I
didn't pay at the time. I am paying now compound interest accumulated.
Worst of it is the rest of you will have to pay with me. You told me once
we couldn't live to ourselves alone. I didn't understand then. I do now.
I am guilty but you have to suffer with me for my mistakes. It is that
that hurts worst of all.
"You have been wonderful to me always, had oceans of patience when I
disappointed you and hurt you and worried you over and over again. And
now here is this last, worst thing of all to forgive. Can you do it,
Uncle Phil? Please try. And please don't worry about me, nor let the
others. I'll come through all right. And if I don't I am not afraid of
death. I have found out there are lots of worse things in the world. I
haven't any pipe dreams about coming out a hero of any sort but I do mean
to come out the kind of a man you won't be ashamed of and to try my
darnedest to live up a little bit to the Holiday specifications. Again,
dear Uncle Phil, please forgive me if you can and write as soon as I can
send an address." Then a brief postscript. "The check Madeline sent back
never got to me. If it is forwarded to the Hill please send it or rather
its equivalent to the president. I wouldn't touch the money with a ten
foot pole. I never wanted it for myself but only for Madeline and she is
beyond needing anything any of us can give her now."
THE MOVING FINGER CONTINUES TO WRITE
Having read and reread the boy's letter Doctor Holiday sat long with it
in his hand staring into the fire. Poor Teddy for whom life had hitherto
been one grand and glorious festival! He was getting the other, the seamy
side of things, at last with a vengeance. Knowing with the sure intuition
of love how deeply the boy was suffering and how sincerely he repented
his blunders the doctor felt far more compassion than condemnation for
his nephew. The fineness and the folly of the thing were so inextricably
confused that there was little use trying to separate the two even if he
had cared to judge the lad which he did not, being content with the boy's
own judgment of himself. Bad as the gambling business was and deeply as
he regretted the expulsion from college the doctor could not help seeing
that there was some extenuation for Ted's conduct, that he had in the
main kept faith with himself, paid generously, far more than he owed, and
traveling through the fiery furnace had somehow managed to come out
unscathed, his soul intact. After all could one ask much more?
It was considerably harder for Larry to accept the situation
philosophically than it was for the senior doctor's more tolerant and
mature mind. Larry loved Ted as he loved no one else in the world not
perhaps even excepting Ruth. But he loved the Holiday name too with a
fine, high pride and it was a bitter dose to swallow to have his younger
brother "catapulted in disgrace," as Ted himself put it, out of the
college which he himself so loved and honored. He was inclined to resent
what looked in retrospect as entirely unnecessary and uncalled for
generosity on Ted's part.
"Nobody but Ted would ever have thought of doing such a fool thing," he
groaned. "Why didn't he pull out in the first place as Hendricks wanted
him to? He would have been entirely justified."
But the older man smiled and shook his head.
"Some people could have done it, not Ted," he said. "Ted isn't built that
way. He never deserted anybody in trouble in his life. I don't believe he
ever will. We can't expect him to have behaved differently in this one
affair just because we would have liked it better so. I am not sure but
we would be wrong and he right in any case."
"Maybe. But it is a horrible mess. I can't get over the injustice of the
poor kid's paying so hard when he was just trying to do the decent, hard,
"You have it less straight than Ted has, Larry. He knows he is paying not
for what he did and thought right but for what he did and knew was wrong.
You can't feel worse than I do about it. I would give anything I have to
save Ted from the torture he is going through, has been going through
alone for days. But I would rather he learned his lesson thoroughly now,
suffering more than he deserves than have him suffer too little and fall
worse next time. No matter how badly we feel for him I think it is up to
us not to try to dilute his penitence and to leave a generous share of
the blame where he puts it himself--on his own shoulders."
"I suppose you are right, Uncle Phil," sighed Larry. "You usually are.
But it's like having a piece taken right out of me to have him go off
like that. And the Canadians are the very devil of fighters. Always in
the thick of things."
"That is where Ted would want to be, Larry. Let us not cross that
bridge until we have to. As he says himself there are worse things than
"I know. Marrying the girl would have been worse. She was rather
magnificent, wasn't she, just as he says, not saving herself when she
might have at his expense?"
"I think she was. I am almost glad the poor child is where she can suffer
no more at the hands of men."
The next day came a wire from Ted announcing his acceptance in the
Canadian army and giving his address in the training camp.
The doctor answered at once, writing a long, cheerful letter full of home
news especially the interesting developments in Ruth's romantic story. It
was only at the end that he referred to the big thing that had to be
faced between them.
"I am not going to say a word that will add in any way to the burden you
are already carrying, Teddy, my lad. You know how sadly disappointed we
all are in your having to leave college this way but I understand and
sympathize fully with your reasons for doing what you did. Even though I
can't approve of the thing itself. I haven't a single reproach to offer.
You have had a harsh lesson. Learn it so well that you will never bring
yourself or the rest of us to such pain and shame again. Keep your scar.
I should be sorry to think you were so callous that you could pass
through an experience like that without carrying off an indelible mark
from it. But it isn't going to ruin your life. On the contrary it is
going to make a man of you, is doing that already if I may judge from
the spirit of your letter which goes far to atone for the rest. The
forgiveness is yours always, son, seventy times seven if need be. Never
doubt it. We shall miss you very much. I wonder if you know how dear to
us you are, Teddy lad. But we aren't going to borrow trouble of the
future. We shall say instead God speed. May he watch over you wherever
you are and bring you safe back to us in His good time!"
And Ted reading the letter later in the Canadian training camp was not
ashamed of the tears that came stinging up in his eyes. He was woefully
homesick, wanted the home people, especially Uncle Phil desperately.
But the message from the Hill brought strength and comfort as well as
"Dear Uncle Phil," he thought. "I will make it up to him somehow. I will.
He shan't ever have to be ashamed of me again."
And so Ted Holiday girded on manhood along with his khaki and his Sam
Browne belt and started bravely up out of the pit which his own willful
folly had dug for him.
Tony was not told the full story of her brother's fiasco. She only
knew that he had left college for some reason or other and had taken
French leave for the Canadian training camp. She was relieved to
discover that even in Larry's stern eyes the escapade, whatever it
was, had not apparently been a very damaging one and accepted
thankfully her uncle's assurance that there was nothing at all to
worry about and that Ted was no doubt very much better off where he
was than if he had stayed in college.
As for the going to war part small blame had she for Ted in that. She
knew well it was precisely what she would have done herself in his case
and teemed with pride in her bonny, reckless, beloved soldier brother.
She had small time to think much about anybody's affairs beside her own
just now. Any day now might come the word that little Cecilia had gone
and that Tony Holiday would take her place on the Broadway stage as a
real star if only for a brief space of twinkling.
She saw very little even of Alan. He was tremendously busy and seemed,
oddly enough, to be drawing a little away from her, to be less jealously
exacting of her time and attention. It was not that he cared less, rather
more, Tony thought. His strange, tragic eyes rested hungrily upon her
whenever they were together and it seemed as if he would drink deep of
her youth and loveliness and joy, a draught deep enough to last a long,
long time, through days of parching thirst to follow. He was very gentle,
very quiet, very loveable, very tender. His stormy mood seemed to have
passed over leaving a great weariness in its wake.
A very passion of creation was upon him. Seeing the canvases that
flowered into beauty beneath his hand Tony felt very small and humble,
knew that by comparison with her lover's genius her own facile gifts were
but as a firefly's glow to the light of a flaming torch. He was of the
masters. She saw that and was proud and glad and awed by the fact. But
she saw also that the artist was consuming himself by the very fire of
his own genius and the knowledge troubled her though she saw no way to
check or prevent the holocaust if such it was.
Sometimes she was afraid. She knew that she would never be happy in the
every day way with Alan. Happiness did not grow in his sunless garden.
Married to him she would enter dark forests which were not her natural
environment. But it did not matter. She loved him. She came always back
to that. She was his, would always be his no matter what happened. She
was bound by the past, caught in its meshes forever.
And then suddenly a new turn of the wheel took place. Word came just
before Christmas that Dick Carson was very ill, dying perhaps down in
Mexico, stricken with a malarial fever.
A few moments after Tony received this stunning news Alan Massey's card
was brought to her. She went down to the reception room, gave him a limp
cold little hand in greeting and asked if he minded going out with her.
She had to talk with him. She couldn't talk here.
Alan did not mind. A little later they were walking riverward toward a
brilliant orange sky, against which the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument
loomed gray and majestic. It was bitter cold. A stinging wind lashed the
girl's skirts around her and bit into her cheeks. But somehow she
welcomed the physical discomfort. It matched her mood.
Then the story came out. Dick was sick, very sick, going to die maybe and
she, Tony Holiday couldn't stand it.
Alan listened in tense silence. So Dick Carson might be going to be so
unexpectedly obliging as to die after all. If he had known how to pray he
would have done it, beseeched whatever gods there were to let the thing
come to an end at last, offered any bribe within his power if they would
set him free from his bondage by disposing of his cousin.
But there beside him clinging to his arm was Tony Holiday aquiver with
grief for this same cousin. He saw that there were tears on her cheeks,
tears that the icy wind turned instantly to frosted silver. And suddenly
a new power was invoked--the power of love.
"Tony, darling, don't cry," he beseeched. "I--can't stand it. He--he
And then and there a miracle took place. Alan Massey who had never
prayed in his life was praying to some God, somewhere to save John Massey
for Tony because she loved him and his dying would hurt her. Tony must
not be hurt. Any God could see that. It must not be permitted.
Tony put up her hand and brushed away the frosted silver drops.
"No, he isn't going to die. I'm not going to let him. I'm going to Mexico
to save him."
Alan stopped short, pulling her to a halt beside him.
"Tony, you can't," he gasped, too astonished for a moment even to be
"I can and I am going to," she defied him.
"But my dear, I tell you, you can't. It would be madness. Your uncle
wouldn't let you. I won't let you."
"You can't stop me. Nobody can stop me. I'm going. Dick shan't die alone.
"Tony, do you love him?"
"I don't know. I don't want to talk about love--your kind. I do love him
one way with all my heart. I wish it were the way I love you. I'd go down
and marry him if I did. Maybe I'll marry him anyway. I would in a minute
if it would save him."
"Tony!" Alan's face was dead white, his green eyes savage. "You promised
to stick to me through everything. Where is your Holiday honor that you
can talk like that about marrying another man?" Maddened, he branished
his words like whips, caring little whether they hurt or not.
"I can't help it, Alan. I am sorry if I am hurting you. But I can't think
about anybody but Dick just now."
"Forgive me, sweetheart. I know you didn't mean it, what you said about
marrying him and you didn't mean it about going to Mexico. You know you
can't. It is no place for a woman like you."
"If Dick is there dying, it _is_ the place for me. I love you, Alan. But
there are some things that go even deeper, things that have their very
roots in me, the things that belong to the Hill. And Dick is a very big
part of them, sometimes I think he is the biggest part of all. I have to
go to him. Please don't try to stop me. It will only make us both unhappy
if you try."
A bitter blast struck their faces with the force of a blow. Tony
"Let's go back. I'm cold--so dreadfully cold," she moaned clinging
to his arm.
They turned in silence. There was nothing to say. The sunset glory had
faded now. Only a pale, cold mauve tint was left where the flame had
blazed. A star or two had come out. The river flowed sinister black,
showing white humps of foam here and there.
At the Hostelry Jean Lambert met them in the hall.
"Tony, where have you been? We have been trying everywhere to locate you.
Cecilia died this afternoon. You have to take Miss Clay's place tonight."
Tony's face went white. She leaned against the wall trembling.
"I forgot--I forgot about the play. I can't go to Mexico. Oh, what shall
I do? What shall I do?"
DWELLERS IN DREAMS
The last curtain had gone down on the "End of the Rainbow" and Tony
Holiday had made an undeniable hit, caught the popular fancy by her young
charm and vivid personality and fresh talents to such a degree that for
the moment at least even its idol of many seasons, Carol Clay, was
forgotten. The new arriving star filled the whole firmament. Broadway was
ready to worship at a new shrine.
But Broadway did not know that there were two Tony Holidays that night,
the happy Tony who had taken its fickle, composite heart by storm and the
other Tony half distracted by grief and trapped bewilderment. Tony had
willed to exile that second self before she stepped out behind the foot
lights. She knew if she did not she never could play Madge as Madge had
the right to be played. For her own sake, for Max Hempel's sake because
he believed in her, for Carol Clay's sake because Tony loved her, she
meant to forget everything but Madge for those few hours. Later she would
remember that Dick was dying in Mexico, that she had hurt Alan cruelly
that afternoon, that she had a sad and vexed problem to solve to which
there seemed no solution. These things must wait. And they had waited but
they came crowding back upon her the moment the play was over and she saw
Alan waiting for her in the little room off the wings.
He rose to meet her and oblivious of curious eyes about them drew
her into his arms and kissed her. And Tony utterly miserable in a
daze of conflicting emotions nestled in his embrace unresisting for a
second, not caring any more than Alan himself what any one saw or
thought upon seeing.
"You were wonderful, belovedest," he whispered. "I never saw them go
madder over anybody, not even Carol herself."
Tony glowed all over at his praise and begged that they might drive a
little in the park before they went home. She had to think. She couldn't
think in the Hostelry. It stifled her. Nothing loath Alan acquiesced,
hailed a cab and gave the necessary orders. For a moment they rode in
silence Tony relaxing for the first time in many hours in the comfort of
her lover's presence, his arm around her. Things were hard, terribly hard
but you could not feel utterly disconsolate when the man you loved best
in all the world was there right beside you looking at you with eyes that
told you how much you were beloved in return.
"Tony, dear, I am going to surprise you," he said suddenly breaking the
silence. "I have decided to go to Mexico."
"To go to Mexico! Alan! Why?"
Tony drew away from her companion to study his face, with amazement
on her own.
"To find Carson and look after him. Why else?"
"But your exhibition? You can't go away now, Alan, even if I would let
you go to Dick that way."
"Oh, yes I can. The arrangements are all made. Van Slyke can handle the
last stages of the thing far better than I can. I loathe hanging round
and hearing the fools rant about my stuff and wonder what the devil I
meant by this or that or if I didn't mean anything. I am infinitely
better off three thousand miles away."
"But even so--I don't want to hurt you or act as if I didn't appreciate
what you are offering to do--but you hate Dick. I don't see how you could
"I don't hate him any more, Tony. At least I don't think I do. At any
rate whether I do or don't won't make the slightest bit of difference. I
shall look after him as well as your uncle or your brothers would--better
perhaps because I know Mexico well and how to get things done down there.
I know how to get things done in most places."
"Oh, I know. I have often thought you must have magic at your command the
way people fly to do your bidding. It is startling but it is awfully
"Money magic mostly," he retorted grimly.
"Partly, not mostly. You are a born potentate. You must have been a
sultan or a pashaw or something in some previous incarnation. I don't
care what you are if you will find Dick and see that he gets well. Alan,
don't you think--couldn't I--wouldn't it be better--if I went too?"
There was a sudden gleam in Alan's eyes. The hour was his. He could take
advantage of the situation, of the girl's anxiety for his cousin, her
love for himself while it was at high tide as it was at this over
stimulated hour of excitement. He could marry her. And once the rite was
spoken--not John Massey--not all Holiday Hill combined could take her
from him. She would be his and his alone to the end. Tony was ripe for
madness to-night, overwrought, ready to take any wild leap in the dark
with him. He could make her his. He felt the intoxicating truth quiver in
the touch of her hand, read it in her eager, dark eyes lifted to his for
Alan Massey was unused to putting away temptation but this, perhaps the
biggest and blackest that had ever assailed him he put by.
"No, dear I'll go alone," he said. "You will just have to trust me, Tony.
I swear I'll do everything in the world that can be done for Carson. Let
us have just one dance though. I should like it to remember--in Mexico."
Tony hesitated. It was very late. The Hostelry would ill approve of her
going anywhere to dance at such an hour. It ill approved of Alan Massey
any way. Still--
"I am going to-morrow. It is our last chance," he pleaded. "Just one
dance, _carissima_. It may have to last--a long, long time."
And Tony yielded. After all they could not treat this night as if it were
like all the other nights in the calendar. They had the right to their
one more hour of happiness before Alan went away. They had the right to
this one last dance.
The one dance turned into many before they were through. It seemed to
both as if they dared not stop lest somehow love and happiness should
stop too with the end of the music. They danced on and on "divinely" as
Alan had once called it. Tony thought the rest of his prophecy was
fulfilled at last, that they also loved each other divinely, as no man or
woman had ever loved since time began.
But at last this too had to come to an end as perfect moments must in
this finite world and Alan and Tony went out of the brilliantly lighted
restaurant into white whirls of snow. For a storm had started while they
had been inside and was now well in progress. All too soon the cab
deposited them at the Hostelry. In the dimly lit hall Alan drew the girl
into his arms and kissed her passionately then suddenly almost flung her
from him, muttered a curt good-by and before Tony hardly realized he was
going, was gone, swallowed up in the night and storm. Alone Tony put her
hands over her hot cheeks. So this was love. It was terrible, but oh--it
was wonderful too.
Soberly after a moment she went to change the damning OUT opposite her
name in the hall bulletin just as the clock struck the shocking hour of
three. But lo there was no damning OUT visible, only a meek and proper IN
after her name. For all the bulletin proclaimed Antoinette Holiday might
have been for hours wrapt in innocent slumber instead of speeding away
the wee' sma' hours in a public restaurant in the arms of a lover at whom
Madame Grundy and her allies looked awry. Somebody had tampered with the
thing to save Tony a reprimand or worse. But who? Jean? No, certainly not
Jean. Jean's conscience was as inelastic as a yard stick. Whoever had
committed the charitable act of mendacity it couldn't have been Jean.
But when Tony opened her own door and switched on the light there was
Jean curled up asleep in the big arm chair. The sudden flare of light
roused the sleeper and she sat up blinking.
"Wherever have you been, Tony? I have been worried to death about you.
I've been home from the theater for hours. I couldn't think what had
happened to you."
"I am sorry you worried. You needn't have. I was with Alan, of course."
"Tony, people say dreadful things about Mr. Massey. Aren't you ever
afraid of him yourself?" Jean surveyed the younger girl with
Tony flung off her cloak impatiently.
"Of course I am not afraid. People don't know him when they say such
things about him. You needn't ever worry, Jean. I am safer with Alan than
with any one else in the world. I'd know that to-night if I never knew it
before. We were dancing. I knew it was late but I didn't care. I
wouldn't have missed those dances if they had told me I had to pack my
trunk and leave to-morrow." Thus spoke the rebel always ready to fly out
like a Jack-in-the box from under the lid in Tony Holiday.
"They won't," said Jean in a queer, compressed little voice.
"Jean! Was it you that fixed that bulletin?"
"Yes, it was. I know it wasn't a nice thing to do but I didn't want them
to scold you just now when you were so worried about Dick and
everything. I thought you would be in most any minute any way and I
waited up myself to tell you how I loved the play and how proud I was of
you. Then when you didn't come for so long I got really scared and then
I fell asleep and--"
Tony came over and stopped the older girl's words with a kiss.
"You are a sweet peach, Jean Lambert, and I am awfully grateful to you
for straining your conscience like that for my sake and awfully sorry I
worried you. I am afraid I always do worry good, sensible, proper people.
I'm made that way, mad north north west like Hamlet," she added
whimsically. "Maybe we Holidays are all mad that much, excepting Uncle
Phil of course. He's all that keeps the rest of us on the track of sanity
at all. But Alan is madder still. Jean, he is going to Mexico to take
care of Dick."
"Mr. Massey is going to Mexico to take care of Dick!" Jean' stared. "Why,
"Naturally. So did I. Who wouldn't think him the last person in the world
to do a thing like that? But he is going and it is his idea not mine. I
wanted to go too but he wouldn't let me," she added.
"Tony! You would have married him when your uncle--when everybody
doesn't want you to?"
To Jean Lambert's well ordered, carefully fenced in mind such wild mental
leaps as Tony Holiday's were almost too much to contemplate. But worse
was to come.
"Married him! Oh, I don't know. I didn't think about that. I would just
have gone with him. There wouldn't have been time to get a license. Of
course I couldn't though on account of the play."
Jean gasped again. If it hadn't been for the play this astounding young
person before her would have gone gallivanting off with one man to whom
she was not married to the bedside, thousands of miles away, of another
man to whom she was also not married. Such simplicity of mental processes
surpassed any complexity Jean Lambert could possibly conceive.
"Alan wouldn't let me," repeated the astounding Tony. "I suppose it is
better so. By to-morrow I will probably agree with him. When the wind is
southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw too. But the wind isn't southerly
to-night. It wasn't when I was dancing nor afterward," she added with a
flaming color in her cheeks remembering that moment in the Hostelry hall
when wisdom had mattered very little to her in comparison with love. "Oh,
Jean, what if something dreadful should happen to him down there! I can't
let him go. I can't. But Dick mustn't die alone either. Oh, what shall I
do? What shall I do?"
And suddenly Tony threw herself face down on the bed sobbing great, heart
rending sobs, but whether she was crying for Dick or Alan or herself or
all three Jean was unable to decipher. Perhaps Tony did not know herself.
The next morning when Tony awoke Alan had already left for his long
journey, but a great box full of roses told her she had been his last
thought. One by one she lifted them out of the box--great, gorgeous,
blood red beauties, royal, Tony thought, like the royal lover who had
sent them. The only message with the flowers was a bit of verse, a poem
of Tagore's whom Alan loved and had taught Tony to love too.
You are the evening cloud floating in the sky of
I paint you and fashion you with my love longings.
You are my own, my own, Dweller in my endless
Your feet are rosy-red with the glow of my heart's
desire, Gleaner of my sunset songs!
Your lips are bitter-sweet with the taste of my wine
You are my own, my own, Dweller in my lonesome
With the shadow of my passion have I darkened
your eyes, Haunter of the depth of my gaze!
I have caught you and wrapt you, my love, in the
net of my music.
You are my own, my own, Dweller in my deathless
As she read the exquisite lines Antoinette Holiday knew it was all
true. The poet might have written his poem for her and Alan. Her lips
were indeed bitter-sweet with the taste of his wine of pain, her eyes
were darkened by his shadows. He had caught her and wrapt her in the
net of his love, which was a kind of music in itself--a music one
danced to. She was his, dweller in his dreams as he was always to dwell
in hers. It was fate.
WAITING FOR THE END OF THE STORY
At home on the Hill Ruth's affairs developed slowly. It was in time
ascertained from Australia that the Farringdon pearls had come to America
in the possession of Miss Farringdon who was named Elinor Ruth, daughter
of Roderick and Esther Farringdon, both deceased. What had become of her
and her pearls no one knew. Grave fears had been entertained as to the
girl's safety because of her prolonged silence and the utter failure of
all the advertising for her which had gone on in English and American
papers. She had come to America to join an aunt, one Mrs. Robert Wright,
widow of a New York broker, but it had been later ascertained that Mrs.
Wright had left for England before her niece could have reached her and
had subsequently died having caught a fever while engaged in nursing in a
military hospital. Roderick Farringdon, the brother of Elinor Ruth, an
aviator in His Majesty's service, was reported missing, believed to be
dead or in a German prison somewhere. The lawyers in charge of the huge
business interests of the two young Farringdons were in grave distress
because of their inability to locate either of the owners and begged that
if Doctor Laurence Holiday knew anything of the whereabouts of Miss
Farringdon that he would communicate without delay with them.
So far so good. Granted that Ruth was presumably Elinor Ruth Farringdon
of Australia. Was she or was she not married? There had been no
opportunity in the cables to make inquiry about one Geoffrey Annersley
though Larry had put that important question first in his letter to the
consul which as yet had received no answer. The lawyers stated that when
Miss Farringdon had left Australia she was not married but
unsubstantiated rumors had reached them from San Francisco hinting at her
possible marriage there.
All this failed to stir Ruth's dormant memory in any degree. There was
nothing to do but wait until further information should be forthcoming.
Not unnaturally these facts had a somewhat different effect upon the two
individuals most concerned. Ruth was frankly elated over the whole thing
and found it by no means impossible to believe that she was a princess in
disguise though she had played Cinderella contentedly enough.
On the strength of her presumable princessship she had gone on another
excursion to Boston carrying the Lambert twins with her this time and had
returned laden with all manner of feminine fripperies. She had an
exquisite taste and made unerringly for the softest and finest of
fabrics, the hats with an "air," the dresses that were the simplest, the
most ravishing and it must be admitted also the most extravagant. If she
remembered nothing else Ruth remembered how to spend royally.
She had consulted the senior doctor before making the splendid plunge.
She did not want to have Larry buy her anything more and she didn't want
Doctor Philip and Margery to think her stark mad to go behaving like a
princess before the princess purse was actually in her hands. But she had
to have pretty things, a lot of them, had to have them quick. Did the
doctor mind very much advancing her some money? He could keep her rings
He had laughed indulgently and declared as the rings and the pearls too
for that matter were in his possession in the safe deposit box he should
worry. He also told her to go ahead and be as "princessy" as she liked.
He would take the risk. Whereupon he placed a generous sum of money at
her account in a Boston bank and sent her away with his blessing and an
amused smile at the femininity of females. And Ruth had gone and played
princess to her heart's content. But there was little enough of heart's
content in any of it for poor Larry. Day by day it seemed to him he could
see his fairy girl slipping away from him. Ruth was a great lady and
heiress. Who was Larry Holiday to take advantage of the fact that
circumstances had almost thrown her into his willing arms?
Moreover the information afforded as to Roderick Farringdon had put a new
idea into his head. Roderick was reported "missing." Was it not possible
that Geoffrey Annersley might be in the same category? Missing men
sometimes stayed missing in war time but sometimes also they returned as
from the dead from enemy prisons or long illnesses. What if this should
be the case with the man who was presumably Ruth's husband? Certainly it
put out of the question, if there ever had been a question in Larry's
mind, his own right to marry the girl he loved until they knew absolutely
that the way was clear.
Considering these things it was not strange that the new year found Larry
Holiday in heavy mood, morose, silent, curt and unresponsive even to his
uncle, inclined at times to snap even at his beloved little Goldilocks
whose shining new happiness exasperated him because he could not share
it. Of course he repented in sack cloth and ashes afterward, but
repentance did not prevent other offenses and altogether the young doctor
was ill to live with during those harrassed January days.
It was not only Ruth. Larry could not take Ted's going with the quiet
fortitude with which his uncle met it. Those early weeks of nineteen
hundred and seventeen were black ones for many. The grim Moloch War
demanded more and ever more victims. Thousands of gay, brave, high
spirited lads like Ted were mown down daily by shrapnel and machine gun
or sent twisted and writhing to still more hideous death in the
unspeakable horror of noxious gases. It was all so unnecessary--so
senseless. Larry Holiday whose life was dedicated to the healing and
saving of men's bodies hated with bitter hate this opposing force which
was all for destruction and which held the groaning world in its
relentless grip. It would not have been so bad he thought if the Moloch
would have been content to take merely the old, the life weary, the
diseased, the vile. Not so. It demanded the young, the strong, the clean
and gallant hearted, took their bodies, maimed and tortured them, killed
them sooner or later, hurled them undiscriminatingly into the bottomless
pit of death.
To Larry it all came back to Ted. Ted was the embodiment, the symbol of
the rest. He was the young, the strong, the clean and gallant
hearted--the youth of the world, a vain sacrifice to the cruel blindness
of a so called civilization which would not learn the futility of war and
all the ways of war.
So while Ruth bought pretty clothes and basked in happy anticipations
which for her took the place of memories, poor Larry walked in dark
places and saw no single ray of light.
One afternoon he was summoned to the telephone to receive the word that
there was a telegram for him at the office. It was Dunbury's informal
habit to telephone messages of this sort to the recipient instead of
delivering them in person. Larry took the repeated word in silence. A
question evidently followed from the other end.
"Yes, I got it," Larry snapped back and threw the receiver back in place
with vicious energy. His uncle who had happened to be near looked up to
ask a question but the young doctor was already out of the room leaving
only the slam of the door in his wake. A few moments later the older man
saw the younger start off down the Hill in the car at a speed which was
not unlike Ted's at his worst before the smash on the Florence road.
Evidently Larry was on the war path. Why?
The afternoon wore on. Larry did not return. His uncle began to be
seriously disturbed. A patient with whom the junior doctor had had an
appointment came and waited and finally went away somewhat indignant in
spite of all efforts to soothe her not unnatural wrath. Worse and
worse! Larry never failed his appointments, met every obligation
invariably as punctiliously as if for professional purposes he was
operated by clock work.
At supper time Phil Lambert dropped in with the wire which had already
been reported to Larry and which the company with the same informality
already mentioned had asked him to deliver. Doctor Holiday was tempted to
read it but refrained. Surely the boy would be home soon.
The evening meal was rather a silent one. Ruth was wearing a charming
dark blue velvet gown which Larry especially liked. The doctor guessed
that she had dressed particularly for her lover and was sadly
disappointed when he failed to put in his appearance. She drooped
perceptibly and her blue eyes were wistful.
An hour later when the three, Margery, her husband, and Ruth, were
sitting quietly engaged in reading in the living room they heard the
sound of the returning car. All three were distinctly conscious of an
involuntary breath of relief which permeated the room. Nobody had said a
word but every one of them had been filled with foreboding.
Presently Larry entered with the yellow envelope in his hand. He was pale
and very tired looking but obviously entirely in command of himself
whatever had been the case earlier in the day. He crossed the room to
where his uncle sat and handed him the telegram.
"Please read it aloud," he said. "It--it concerns all of us."
The older doctor complied with the request.
_Arrive Dunbury January 18 nine forty_ A.M. So ran the brief though
pregnant message. It was signed _Captain Geoffrey Annersley_.
The color went out of Ruth's face as she heard the name. She put her
hands over her eyes and uttered a little moan. Then abruptly she dropped
her hands, the color came surging back into her cheeks and she ran to
Larry, fairly throwing herself into his arms.
"I don't want to see him. Don't let him come. I hate him. I don't want to
be Elinor Farringdon. I want to be just Ruth--Ruth Holiday," she
whispered the last in Larry's ear, her head on his shoulder.
Larry kissed her for the first time before the others, then meeting his
uncle's grave eyes he put her gently from him and walked over to the
door. On the threshold he turned and faced them all.
"Uncle Phil--Aunt Margery, help Ruth. I can't." And the door
closed upon him.
Philip and Margery did their best to obey his parting injunction but it
was not an easy task. Ruth was possessed by a very panic of dread of
Geoffrey Annersley and an even more difficult to deal with flood of love
for Larry Holiday.
"I don't want anybody but Larry," she wailed over and over. "It is Larry
I love. I don't love Geoffrey Annersley. I won't let him be my husband. I
don't want anybody but Larry."
In vain they tried to comfort her, entreat her to wait until to-morrow
before she gave up. Perhaps Geoffrey Annersley wasn't her husband.
Perhaps everything was quite all right. She must try to have patience and
not let herself get sick worrying in advance.
"He _is_ my husband," she suddenly announced with startling conviction.
"I remember his putting the ring on my finger. I remember his saying
'You've got to wear it. It is the only thing to do. You must.' I remember
what he looks like--almost. He is tall and he has a scar on his cheek
--here." She patted her own face feverishly to show the spot. "He made me
wear the ring and I didn't want to. I didn't want to. Oh, don't let me
remember. Don't let me," she implored.
At this point the doctor took things in his own hands. The child was
obviously beginning to remember. The shock of the man's coming had
snapped something in her brain. They must not let things come back
too disastrously fast. He packed her off to bed with a stiff dose of
nerve quieting medicine. Margery sat with her arms tight around the
forlorn little sufferer and presently the dreary sobbing ceased and
the girl drifted off to exhausted sleep, nature's kindest panacea for
all human ills.
Meanwhile the doctor sought out Larry. He found him in the office
apparently completely absorbed in the perusal of a medical magazine. He
looked up quickly as the older man entered and answered the question in
his eyes giving assurance that Ruth was quite all right, would soon be
asleep if she was not already. He made no mention of that disconcerting
flash of memory. Sufficient unto the day was the trouble thereof.
He came over and laid a kindly, encouraging hand on the boy's shoulder.
"Keep up heart a little longer," he said. "By tomorrow you will
know where you stand and that will be something, no matter which
way it turns."
"I should say it would," groaned Larry. "I'm sick of being in a
labyrinth. Even the worst can't be much worse than not knowing. You don't
know how tough it has been, Uncle Phil."
"I can make a fairly good guess at it, my boy. I've seen and understood
more than you realize perhaps. You have put up a magnificent fight, son.
And you are the boy who once told me he was a coward."
"I am afraid I still am, Uncle Phil,--sometimes."
"We all are, Larry, cowards in our hearts, but that does not matter so
long as the yellow streak doesn't get into our acts. You have not let
that happen I think."
Larry was silent. He was remembering that night when Ruth had come to
him. He wasn't very proud of the memory. He wondered if his uncle guessed
how near the yellow streak had come to the surface on that occasion.
"I don't deserve as much credit as you are giving me," he said humbly.
"There have been times--at least one time--" He broke off.
"You would have been less than a man if there had not been, Larry. I
understand all that. But on the whole you know and I know that you have a
clean slate to show. Don't let yourself get morbid worrying about things
you might have done and didn't. They don't worry me. They needn't worry
you. Forget it."
"Uncle Phil! You are great the way you always clear away the fogs. But my
clean slate is a great deal thanks to you. I don't know where I would
have landed if you hadn't held me back, not so much by what you said as
what you are. Ted isn't the only one who has learned to appreciate what a
pillar of strength we all have in you. However this comes out I shan't
forget what you did for me, are doing all the time."
"Thank you, Larry. It is good to hear things like that though I think you
underestimate your own strength. I am thankful if I have helped in any
degree. I have felt futile enough. We all have. At any rate the strain is
about over. The telegram must have been a knock down blow though. Where
were you this afternoon?"
"I don't know. I just drove like the devil--anywhere. Did you worry? I am
sorry. Good Lord! I cut my appointment with Mrs. Blake, didn't I? I never
thought of it until this minute. Gee! I am worse than Ted. Used to think
I had some balance but evidently I am a plain nut. I'm disgusted with
myself and I should think you would be more disgusted with me." The boy
looked up at his uncle with eyes that were full of shamed compunction.
But the latter smiled back consolingly.
"Don't worry. There are worse things in the world than cutting an
appointment for good and sufficient reasons. You will get back your
balance when things get normal again. I have no complaint to make anyway.
You have kept up the professional end splendidly until now. What you need
is a good long vacation and I am going to pack you off on one at the
earliest opportunity. Do you want me to meet Captain Annersley for you
tomorrow?" he switched off to ask.
Larry shook his head.
"No, I'll meet him myself, thank you. It is my job. I am not going to
flunk it. If he is Ruth's husband I am going to be the first to shake
hands with him."
IN WHICH TWO MASSEYS MEET IN MEXICO
And while things were moving toward their crisis for Larry and Ruth
another drama was progressing more or less swiftly to its conclusion
down in Vera Cruz. Alan Massey had found his cousin in a wretched,
vermin haunted shack, nursed in haphazard fashion by a slovenly,
ignorant half-breed woman under the ostensible professional care of a
mercenary, incompetent, drunken Mexican doctor who cared little enough
whether the dog of an American lived or died so long as he himself
continued to get the generous checks from a certain newspaper in New
York City. The doctor held the credulity of the men who mailed those
checks in fine contempt and proceeded to feather his nest valiantly
while his good luck continued, going on many a glorious spree at the
paper's expense while Dick Carson went down every day deeper into the
valley of the shadow of death.
With the coming of Alan Massey however a new era began. Alan was apt to
leave transformation of one sort or another in his wake. It was not
merely his money magic though he wielded that magnificently as was his
habit and predilection, spent Mexican dollars with a superb disregard of
their value which won from the natives a respect akin to awe and wrought
miracles wherever the golden flow touched. But there was more than money
magic to Alan Massey's performance in Vera Cruz. There was also the
magic of his dominating, magnetic personality. He was a born master and
every one high or low who crossed his path recognized his rightful
ascendency and hastened to obey his royal will.
His first step was to get the sick man transferred from the filthy hovel
in which he found him to clean, comfortable quarters in an ancient adobe
palace, screened, airy, spacious. The second step was to secure the
services of two competent and high priced nurses from Mexico City, one an
American, the other an English woman, both experienced, intrepid,
efficient. The third step taken simultaneously with the other two was to
dismiss the man who masqueraded as a physician though he was nothing in
reality but a cheap charlatan fattening himself at the expense of
weakness and disease. The man had been inclined to make trouble at first
about his unceremonious discharge. He had no mind to lose without a
protest such a convenient source of unearned increment as those checks
represented. He had intended to get in many another good carouse before
the sick man died or got well as nature willed. But a single interview
with Alan Massey sufficed to lay his objections to leaving the case. In
concise and forcible language couched in perfect Spanish Alan had made it
clear that if the so-called doctor came near his victim again he would be
shot down like a dog and if Carson died he would in any case be tried for
man slaughter and hanged on the spot. The last point had been further
punctuated by an expressive gesture on the speaker's part, pointing to
his own throat accompanied by a significant little gurgling sound. The
gesture and the gurgle had been convincing. The man surrendered the case
in some haste. He did not at all care for the style of conversation
indulged in by this tall, unsmiling, green-eyed man. Consequently he
immediately evaporated to all intents and purposes and was seen no more.
The new physician put in charge was a different breed entirely, a man who
had the authentic gift and passion for healing which the born doctor
always possesses, be he Christian or heathen, gypsy herb mixer or ten
thousand dollar specialist. Alan explained to this man precisely what was
required of him, explained in the same forcible, concise, perfect Spanish
that had banished the other so completely. His job was to cure the sick
man. If he succeeded there would be a generous remuneration. If he failed
through no fault of his there would still be fair remuneration though
nothing like what would be his in case of complete recovery. If he failed
through negligence--and here the expressive gesture and the gurgle were
repeated--. The sentence had not needed completion. The matter was
sufficiently elucidated. The man was a born healer as has been recorded
but even if he had not been he would still have felt obliged to move
heaven and earth so far as in him lay to cure Dick Carson. Alan Massey's
manner was persuasive. One did one's best to satisfy a person who spoke
such Spanish and made such ominous gestures. One did as one was
commanded. One dared do no other.
As for the servants whom Alan rallied to his standard they were slaves
rather than servants. They recognized in him their preordained master,
were wax to his hands, mats to his feet. They obeyed his word as
obsequiously, faithfully and unquestioningly as if he could by a clap of
his lordly hands banish them to strange deaths.
They talked in low tones about him among themselves behind his back.
This was no American they said. No American could command as this
green-eyed one commanded. No American had such gift of tongues, such
gestures, such picturesque and varied and awesome oaths. No American
carried small bright flashing daggers such as he carried in his inner
pockets, nor did Americans talk glibly as he talked of weird poisons,
not every day drugs, but marvelous, death dealing concoctions done up in
lustrous jewel-like capsules or diluted in sparkling, insidious gorgeous
hued fluids. The man was too wise--altogether too wise to be an
American. He had traveled much, knew strange secrets. They rather
thought he knew black art. Certainly he knew more of the arts of healing
than the doctor himself. There was nothing he did not know, the
green-eyed one. It was best to obey him.
And while Alan Massey's various arts operated Dick Carson passed through
a series of mental and physical evolutions and came slowly back to
consciousness of what was going on.
At first he was too close to the hinterland to know or care as to what
was happening here, though he did vaguely sense that he had left the
lower levels of Hell and was traversing a milder purgatorial region. He
did not question Alan's presence or recognize him. Alan was at first
simply another of those distrusted foreigners whose point of view and
character he comprehended as little as he did their jibbering tongues.
Gradually however this one man seemed to stand out from the others and
finally took upon himself a name and an entity. By and by, Dick thought,
when he wasn't so infernally-tired as he was just now he would wonder why
Alan Massey was here and would try to recall why he had disliked him so,
some time a million years ago or so. He did not dislike him now. He was
too weak to dislike anybody in any case but he was beginning to connect
Alan vaguely but surely with the superior cleanliness and comfort and
care with which he was now surrounded. He knew now that he had been
sick, very sick and that he was getting better, knew that before long he
would find himself asking questions. Even now his eyes followed Alan
Massey as the latter came and went with an ever more insistent wonderment
though he had not yet the force of will or body to voice that pursuing
question as to why Alan Massey was here apparently taking charge of his
own slow return to health and consciousness.
Meanwhile Alan wired Tony Holiday every day as to his patient's condition
though he wrote not at all and said nothing in his wires of himself.
Letters from Tony were now beginning to arrive, letters full of eager
gratitude and love for Alan and concern for Dick.
And one day Dick's mind got suddenly very clear. He was alone with the
nurse at the time, the sympathetic American one whom he liked better and
was less afraid of than he was of the stolid, inexorable British lady.
And he began to ask questions, many questions and very definite ones. He
knew at last precisely what it was he wanted to know.
He got a good deal of information though by no means all he sought. He
found out that he had been taken desperately ill, that he had been
summarily removed from his lodging place because of the owner's
superstitious dread of contagion into the miserable little thatch
roofed hut in which he had nearly died thanks to the mal-practice of
the rascally, drunken doctor and the ignorant half-breed nurse. He
learned how Alan Massey had suddenly appeared and taken things in his
own hands, discovered that in a nutshell the fact was he owed his life
to the other-man. But why? That was what he had to find out from Alan
The next day when Alan came in and the nurse went out he asked
"That is easy," said Alan grimly. "I came on Tony's account."
Dick winced. Of course that was it. Tony had sent Massey. He was here as
her emissary, naturally, no doubt as her accepted lover. It was kind.
Tony was always kind but he wished she had not done it. He did not want
to have his life saved by the man who was going to marry Tony Holiday. He
rather thought he did not want his life saved anyway by anybody. He
wished they hadn't done it.
"I--I am much obliged to you and to Tony," he said a little stiffly. "I
fear it--it was hardly worth the effort." His eyes closed wearily.
"Tony didn't send me though," observed Alan Massey as if he had read the
other's thought. "I sent myself."
Dick's eyes opened.
"That is odd if it is true," he said slowly.
Alan dropped into a chair near the bed.
"It is odd," he admitted. "But it happens to be true. It came about
simply enough. When Tony heard you were sick she went crazy, swore
she was coming down here in spite of us all to take care of you. Then
Miss Clay's child died and she had to go on the boards. You can
imagine what it meant to her--the two things coming at once. She
played that night--swept everything as you'd know she would--got 'em
all at her feet."
Dick nodded, a faint flash of pleasure in his eyes. Down and out as he
was he could still be glad to hear of Tony's triumph.
"She wanted to come to you," went on Alan. "She let me come instead
because she couldn't. I came for--for her sake."
"Naturally--for her sake," he said. "I could hardly have expected you to
come for mine. I would hardly have expected it in any case."
"I would hardly have expected it of myself," acknowledged Alan with a wry
smile. "But I've had rather a jolly time at your expense. I've always
enjoyed working miracles and if you could have seen yourself the way you
were when I got here you would think there was a magic in it somehow."
"I evidently owe you a great deal, Mr. Massey. I am grateful or at least
I presume I shall be later. Just now I feel a little--dumb."
"My dear fellow, nothing would please me better than to have you continue
dumb on that subject. I did this thing as I've done most things in my
life to please myself. I don't want your thanks. I would like a little of
your liking though. You and I are likely to see quite a bit of each other
these next few weeks. Could you manage to forget the past and call a kind
of truce for a while? You have a good deal to forgive me--perhaps more
than you know. If you would be willing to let the little I have done down
here--and mind you I don't want to magnify that part--wipe off the slate
I should be glad. Could you manage it, Carson?"
"It looks as if it hardly could be magnified," said Dick with sudden
heartiness. "I spoke grudgingly just now I am afraid. Please overlook it.
I am more than grateful for all you have done and more than glad to be
friends if you want it. I don't hate you. How could I when you have saved
my life and anyway I never hated you as you used to hate me. I've often
wondered why you did, especially at first before you knew how much I
cared for Tony. And even that shouldn't have made you hate me
"Never mind why I hated you. I don't any more. Will you shake hands with
me, Carson, so we can begin again?"
Dick pulled himself weakly up on the pillow. Their hands met.
"Hang it, Massey," Dick said. "I am afraid I am going to like you. I've
heard you were hypnotic. I believe on my soul you came down here to make
me like you? Did you?"
But Alan only smiled his ironic, noncommital smile and remarked it was
time for the invalid to take a nap. He had had enough conversation for
the first attempt.
Dick soon drifted off to sleep but Alan Massey prowled the streets of the
Mexican city far into the night, with tireless, driven feet. The demons
were after him again.
And far away in another city whose bright lights glow all night Tony
Holiday was still playing Madge to packed houses, happy in her triumph
but with heart very pitiful for her beloved Miss Clay whose sorrow and
continued illness had made possible the fruition of her own eager hopes.
Tony was sadly lonely without Alan, thought of him far more often and
with deeper affection even than she had while she had him at her beck and
call in the city, loved him with a new kind of love for his generous
kindness to Dick. She made up her mind that he had cleared the shield
forever by this splendid act and saw no reason why she should keep him
any longer on probation. Surely she knew by this time that he was a man
even a Holiday might be proud to marry.
She wrote this decision to her uncle and asked to be relieved from
"I am sorry," she wrote, "if you cannot approve but I cannot help it. I
love him and I am going to be engaged to him as soon as he comes back to
New York if he wants it. I am afraid I would have married him and gone
to Mexico with him, given up the play and broken my promise to you, if he
would have let me. It goes that far and deep with me.
"People are crazy over his pictures. The exhibition came off last week
and they say he is one of the greatest living painters with a wonderful
future ahead of him. I am so proud and happy. He is fine everyway now,
has really sloughed off the past just as he promised he would. So please,
dear Uncle Phil, forgive me if I do what you don't want me to. I have to
marry him. In my heart I am married to him already."
And this was the letter Philip Holiday found at his place at breakfast on
the morning of the day Geoffrey Annersley was expected. He read it
gravely. Rash, loving, generous-hearted Tony. Where was she going? Ah
well, she was no longer a child to be protected from the storm and stress
of life. She was a woman grown, woman enough to love and to be loved
greatly, to sacrifice and suffer if need be for love's mighty sake. She
must go her way as Ted had gone his, as their father had gone his before
them. He could only pray that she was right in her faith that for love of
her Alan Massey had been born anew.
His own deep affection for Ned's children seemed at the moment a sadly
powerless thing. He had coveted the best things of life for them, happy,
normal ways of peace and gentle living. Yet here was Ted at twenty
already lived through an experience, tragic enough to leave its scarlet
mark for all the rest of his life and even now on the verge of
voluntarily entering a terrific conflict from which few returned alive
and none came back unchanged. Here was Tony taking upon herself the
thraldom of a love, which try as he would Philip Holiday could not see
in any other light but as at best a cataclysmic risk. And at this very
hour Larry might be learning that the desire of his heart was dust and
ashes, his hope a vain thing, himself an exile henceforth from the things
that round out a man's life, make it full and rich and satisfying.
And yet thinking of the three Philip Holiday found one clear ray of
comfort. With all their vagaries, their rash impulsions, their willful
blindness, their recklessness, they had each run splendidly true to type.
Not one of the three had failed in the things that really count. He had
faith that none of them ever would. They might blunder egregiously,
suffer immeasurably, pay extravagantly, but they would each keep that
vital spirit which they had in common, untarnished and undaunted, an
GEOFFREY ANNERSLEY ARRIVES
There were few passengers alighting from the south bound train from
Canada. Larry Holiday had no difficulty in picking out Geoffrey Annersley
among these, a tall young man, wearing the British uniform and supporting
himself with a walking stick. His face was lean and bronzed and lined,
the face of a man who has seen things which kill youth and laughter and
yet a serene face too as if its owner had found that after all nothing
mattered very much if you looked it square in the eye.
Larry went to the stranger at once.
"Captain Annersley?" he asked. "I am Laurence Holiday."
The captain set down his bag, leaned on his stick, deliberately
scrutinized the other man. Larry returned the look frankly. They were of
nearly the same age but any one seeing them would have set the Englishman
as at least five years the senior of the young doctor. Geoffrey Annersley
had been trained in a stern school. A man does not wear a captain's bars
and four wound stripes for nothing.
Then the Englishman held out his hand with a pleasant and unexpectedly
"So you are Larry," he said. "Your brother sent me to you."
"Ted! You have seen him?" For a minute Larry forgot who Geoffrey
Annersley was, forgot Ruth, forgot himself, remembered only Ted and
gave his guest a heartier handshake than he had willed for his "Kid"
"Yes, I was with him day before yesterday and the night before that. He
was looking jolly well and sent all kinds of greetings to you all. See
here, Doctor Holiday, I have no end of things to say to you. Can we go
somewhere and talk?"
"My car is outside. You will come up to the house will you not? We are
all expecting you." Larry tried hard to keep his voice quiet and
emotionless. Not for anything would he have had this gallant soldier
suspect how his knees were trembling.