Part 7 out of 7
"Delighted," bowed the captain suavely and permitted Larry to take his
bag and lead the way to the car. Nothing more was said until the two men
were seated and the car had left the station yard.
"I am afraid I should have made my wire a bit more explicit," observed
the captain turning to Larry. "My wife says I am too parsimonious with my
words in telegrams--a British trait possibly." He spoke deliberately and
his keen eyes studied his companion's face as he made the casual remark
which set Larry's brain reeling. "See here, Holiday, I'm a blunt brute. I
don't know how to break things gently to people. But I am here to tell
you if you care to know that Elinor Ruth Farringdon is no more married
than you are unless she is married to you. That was her mother's wedding
ring. Lord, man, do you always drive a car like this? I've been all but
killed once this year and I don't care to repeat the experiment."
Larry grinned, flushed, apologized and moderated the speed of his motor.
He wondered that he could drive at all. He felt strangely light as if he
were stripped of his body and were nothing but spirit.
"Do you mind if we drive about a bit and talk things over before I see
Elinor--Ruth, as you call her? I'm funking that a little though I've
been trying ever since your brother told me the story to get used to
the idea of her being, well not quite right, you know. But I can't
stick it somehow."
"She is all right, perfectly normal every way except that she had
forgotten things." Larry's voice was faintly indignant. He resented
anybody's implying that Ruth was queer, unbalanced in any way. She
wasn't. She was absolutely sane, as sane as Captain Annersley himself,
considerably more sane than Larry Holiday could take oath he was at
"Good heavens! Isn't that enough?" groaned Annersley almost equally
indignant. "You forget or rather you don't know all she has forgotten. I
know. I was brought up with her. Her father was my uncle and guardian. We
played together, had the same tutor, rode the same ponies, got into the
same jolly old scrapes. Why, Elinor's like my own sister, man. I can't
swallow her forgetting me and her brother Rod and all the rest as easily
as you seem to do. It--well, it's the limit as you say in the states."
The captain wiped his forehead on which great drops of perspiration stood
in spite of the January chill in the air. There was agitation, suppressed
vehemence in his tone.
"I suppose it is natural that you should feel that way." Larry spoke
thoughtfully as he turned the car away from the Hill in response to his
guest's request that he be permitted to postpone meeting Elinor Ruth
Farringdon a little while. "The remembering part hasn't bothered me so
much. Maybe I wasn't very keen on having her remember. Maybe I was afraid
she would remember too much," he added coloring a little.
The frown on his companion's stern young face melted at that. The
frank, boyish smile appeared again. He liked Larry Holiday none the less
for his lack of pretense. He understood all that. The younger Holiday
had taken pains to make things perfectly clear to him. He knew precisely
what the young doctor was afraid of and why in case Elinor Farringdon's
"My uncle thinks and I think too that her memory will come back now that
it has the external stimulus to waken it," Larry continued. "I shouldn't
be surprised if seeing you would give the necessary impetus. In fact I am
counting on that very thing happening, hoping for it with all my might.
That was one of the reasons I was glad to have you come. Please believe
that I should have been glad even if your coming had made her remember
she was your wife. Of course her recovery is the main thing. The rest
is--a side issue."
"A jolly important side issue I take it for her and for you. I'm not a
stranger, Doctor Holiday. I am Elinor Ruth Farringdon's cousin, in her
brother's absence I represent her family and in that capacity I would
like to say before I am a minute older that what you and the rest of you
Holidays have done for Elinor passes anything I know of for sheer
fineness and generosity. I'm not a man of words. War would have knocked
them out of me if I had been but when I remember that you not only saved
Elinor's life but took care of her afterward when she apparently hadn't a
friend in the world--well, there isn't anything I can say but thank you
and tell you that if there is ever anything I can do in return for you or
yours you have only to ask. Neither Elinor nor I can ever repay you. It
is the sort of thing that is--unpayable." And again the captain wiped his
perspiring brow. He was deeply moved and emotion went hard with his
"We did nothing but what anybody would have been glad to do. If there
are any thanks coming they are chiefly due to my uncle and his wife. But
we don't any of us want thanks. We love Ruth. Please forget the rest. We
would rather you would."
The captain nodded quick approval. He had been told Americans were
boasters, given to Big-Itis. But either people got the Americans wrong or
these Holidays were an exception to the general run. He remembered that
other young Holiday whom he had met rather intimately in the Canadian
camp. There had been no side there either. His modesty had been one of
his chief charms. And here was the brother quietly putting aside credit
for a course of conduct which was simply immense in its quixotic
generosity. He liked these Holidays. There was something rather
magnificent about their simplicity--something almost British he thought.
"That is all very well," he made answer. "I won't talk about it if you
prefer but you will pardon me if I don't forget that you saved my
cousin's life and looked after her when she was in a desperately unhappy
situation and her own people seemed to have utterly deserted her. And I
consider my running into your brother at camp one of the sheerest pieces
of good luck I've had these many days on all counts."
"How did it happen?" asked Larry.
"I was doing some recruiting work in the vicinity and they asked me to
say a few words to the lads in training. I did. Your brother was there
and lost no time in getting in touch with me when he heard who I was. And
jolly pleased I was to hear his story--all of it."
The speaker smiled at his companion.
"I mean that, Larry Holiday. Elinor and I were kid sweethearts. We used
to swear we were going to get married when we grew up. That was when she
was eight and I a man of twelve or so. I gave her the locket which made
some of the trouble as a sort of hostage for the future. We called her
Ruth in those days. It was her own fancy to change it to Elinor later.
She thought it more grown up and dignified I remember. Then I went back
to England to school. I didn't see her again until we were both grown up
and then I married her best friend with her blessing and approval. But
that is another story. Just now I am trying to tell you that I am ready
to congratulate my cousin with all my heart if it happens that you want
to marry her as your brother seems to think."
"There is no doubt about what I want," said Larry grimly. "Whether it is
what she wants is another matter. We haven't been exactly in a position
to discuss marriage."
"I understand. I'm beastly sorry to have been such an infernal dog in the
manger unwittingly. The only thing I can do to make, up is to give my
blessing and wish you best of luck in your wooing. Shall we shake on it,
Larry Holiday, and on the friendship I hope you and I are going to have?"
And with a cordial man to man grip there was cemented a friendship which
was to last as long as they both lived.
To relate briefly the links of the story some of which Larry Holiday now
heard as the car sped over the smooth, frost hardened roads which the
open winter had left unusually snowless and clean. Geoffrey Annersley had
been going his careless, happy go lucky way as an Oxford undergraduate
when the sudden firing of a far off shot had startled the world and made
war the one inevitable fact. The young man had enlisted promptly and had
been in practically continuous service of one sort or another ever since.
He had gone through desperate fighting, been four times wounded, and was
now at last definitely eliminated from active service by a semi-paralyzed
leg, the result of his last visit to "Blighty." He had been invalided the
previous spring and had been sent to Australia on a recruiting mission.
Here he had renewed his acquaintance with his cousins whom he had not
seen for years and promptly fell in love with and married pretty Nancy
Hallinger, his cousin Elinor's chum.
The speedy wooing accomplished as well as the recruiting job which was
dispatched equally expeditiously and thoroughly Geoffrey prepared to
return to France to get in some more good work against the Huns while his
wife planned to enter Red Cross service as a nurse for which she had been
in training for some time. Roderick had entered the Australian air
service and was already in Flanders where he had the reputation of being
one of the youngest and most reckless aviators flying which was saying
It was imperative that some arrangement be made for Elinor who obviously
could not be left alone in Sydney. It was decided in family conclave that
she should go to America and accept the often proffered hospitality of
her aunt for a time at least. A cable to this effect had been dispatched
to Mrs. Wright which as later appeared never reached that lady as she was
already on her way to England and died there shortly after.
Geoffrey had been exceedingly reluctant to have his young cousin take the
long journey alone though she had laughed at his fears and his wife had
abetted her in her disregard of possible disastrous consequences, telling
him that women no longer required wrapping in tissue paper. The war had
changed all that.
At his insistence however Ruth had finally consented to wear her mother's
wedding ring as a sort of shadowy protection. He had an idea that the
small gold band, being presumptive evidence of an existing male guardian
somewhere in the offing might serve to keep away the ill intentioned or
over bold from his lovely little heiress cousin about whom he worried to
no small degree.
They had gone their separate ways, he to the fierce fighting of May,
nineteen hundred and sixteen, she to her long journey and subsequent
strange adventures. At first no one had thought it unnatural that they
heard nothing from Elinor. Letters went easily astray those days.
Geoffrey was weeks without news even from his wife and poor Roderick
was by this time beyond communication of any kind, his name labeled
with that saddest of all tags--missing. It was not until Geoffrey was
out of commission with that last worst knock out, lying insensible,
more dead than alive in a hospital "somewhere in France" that the
others began to realize that Elinor had vanished utterly from the ken
of all who knew her. Some one who knew her by sight had chanced to see
her in California and had noted the wedding ring, hence the
"unsubstantiated rumor" of her marriage in San Francisco, a rumor which
Nancy half frantic over her husband's desperate illness was the only
person who was in a position to explain.
When Geoffrey came slowly back to the land of the living it was to learn
that his cousin Roderick was still reported missing and that Elinor was
even more sadly and mysteriously vanished from the face of the earth in
spite of all effort to discover her fate. It had been a tragic coming
back for the sick man. But an Englishman is hard to down and gradually he
got back health and a degree of hope and happiness. There would be no
more fighting for him but the War Department assured him there were
plenty of other ways in which he could serve the cause and he had
readily placed himself at their disposal for the recruiting work in which
he had already demonstrated his power to success in Australia.
Which brings us to the Canadian training camp and Ted Holiday. Captain
Annersley had been asked as he had told Larry to speak to the boys. He
had done so, given a little straight talk of what lay ahead of them and
what they were fighting for, bade them get in a few extra licks for him
since he was out of it for good, done for, "crocked." In conclusion he
had begged them give the Huns hell. It was all he asked of them and from
the look of them he jolly well knew they would do it.
While he was speaking he was aware all the time of a tall, blue-eyed
youth who stood leaning against a post with a kind of nonchalant grace.
The boy's pose had been indolent but his eyes had been wide awake,
earnest, responsive. Little by little the captain found himself talking
directly to the lad. What he was saying might be over the heads of some
of them but not this chap's. He got you as the Americans say. He had the
vision, would go wherever the speaker could take him. One saw that.
Afterwards the boy had sought out the recruiter to ask if by any chance
he knew a girl named Elinor Ruth Farringdon. It had been rather a
tremendous moment for both of them. Each had plenty to say that the other
wanted to hear. But the full story had to wait. Corporal Holiday couldn't
run around loose even talking to a distinguished British officer. There
would have to be special dispensation for that and special dispensations
take time in an army world. It would be forthcoming however--to-morrow.
In the meantime Geoffrey Annersley had heard enough to want to know a
great deal more and thought he might as well make some inquiries on his
own. He wanted to find out who these American Holidays were, one of whom
had apparently saved his cousin Elinor's life and all of whom had, one
concluded, been amazingly kind to her though the blue-eyed boy had
gracefully made light of that side of the thing in the brief synopsis of
events he had had time to give to the Englishman. The captain had taken a
fancy to the narrator and was not averse to beginning his investigation
as to the Holiday family with the young corporal himself.
Accordingly he tackled the boy's commanding officer, a young colonel with
whom he chanced to be dining. The colonel was willing to talk and
Geoffrey Annersley discovered that young Holiday was rather by way of
being a top-notcher. He had enlisted as a private only a short time ago
but had been shot speedily into his corporalship. Time pressed. Officers
were needed. The boy was officer stuff. He wouldn't stay a corporal. If
all went well he would go over as a sergeant.
"We put him through though, just at first handled him rather nasty," the
colonel admitted with a reminiscent twinkle. "We do put the Americans
through somehow, though it isn't that we have any grudge against 'em. We
haven't. We like 'em--most of 'em and we have to admit it's rather decent
of them to be here at all when they don't have to. All the same we give
'em an extra twist of the discipline crank on general principles just to
see what they are made of. We found out mighty quick with this youngster.
He took it all and came back for more with a 'sir,' and a salute and a
devilish debonair, you-can't-down-me kind of grin that would have
disarmed a Turk."
"He doesn't look precisely meek to me," Annersley had said remembering
the answering flash he had caught in those blue eyes when he was begging
the boys to get in an extra lick against the Huns for his sake.
"Meek nothing! He has more spirit than any cub we've had to get into
shape this many a moon. It isn't that. It is just that he has the right
idea, had it from the start however he came by it. You know what it is,
captain. It is obedience, first, last and all the time, the will to be
willed. A soldier's job is to do what he is told whether he likes it or
not, whether it is his job or not, whether it makes sense or not, whether
he gets his orders from a man he looks up to and respects or whether he
gets them from a low down cur that he knows perfectly well isn't fit to
black his boots--none of that makes any difference. It is up to him to do
what he is told and he does it without a kick if he's wise. Young Holiday
is wise. He'd had his medicine sometime. One sees that. I don't know why
he dropped down on us like a shooting star the way he did, some college
fiasco I understand. He doesn't talk about himself or his affairs though
he is a frank outspoken youngster in other ways. But there was a look in
his eyes when he came to us that most boys of twenty don't have, thank
the Lord! And it is that look or what is behind it that has made him ace
high here. That boy struck bottom somewhere and struck it hard. I'll bet
my best belt on that."
This interested Geoffrey Annersley. He thought he understood what the
colonel meant. There was something in Ted Holiday's eyes which betrayed
that he had already been under fire somehow. He had seen it himself.
"He is as smart as they make 'em," went on the colonel. "Quick as a flash
to think and to see and to act, never loses his head. And he's a wonder
with the men, jollies 'em along when they are grousing or homesick, sets
'em grinning from ear to ear when they are down-hearted, has a pat on the
shoulder for this one and a jeer for that one. Old and young they are
all crazy about him. They'd go anywhere he led. I tell you he's the stuff
that will take 'em over the top and make the boches feel cold in the pit
of their fat tumtums when they see him coming. Lord, but the uselessness
of it though! He'll get killed. His kind always does. They are always in
front. They are made that way. Can't help it. Sometimes they do come
through though." The colonel flashed a quick admiring glance at his guest
who had also been the kind that was always in front and yet had somehow
by the grace of something come through in spite of the hazards he had run
and the deaths he had all but died. "You are a living witness to that
little fact," he added. "Lord love us! It's all in the game anyway and a
man can die but once."
The next day Corporal Holiday was given a brief leave of absence from
camp at the request of the distinguished British officer. Together the
two went over the strange story of Elinor Ruth Farringdon and the
Holidays' connection with the later chapters thereof. They decided not to
write to the Hill as Annersley was planning to go to Boston next day
whence he was to return soon to England his mission accomplished, and
could easily stop over in Dunbury on his way and set things right in
person, perhaps even by his personal presence renew Ruth's memory of
things she had forgotten.
All through the pleasant dinner hour Ted kept wishing he could get the
captain to talking about himself and his battle experiences and had no
idea at all that he himself was being shrewdly studied as they talked.
"Good breeding, good blood-quality," the captain summed up. "If he is a
fair sample of young America then young America is a bit of all right."
And if he is a fair sample of the Holiday family then Elinor had indeed
fallen into the best of hands. Praise be! He wondered more than once what
the young-corporal's own story was, what was the nature of the fiasco
which had driven him into the Canadian training camp and what was behind
that unboyish look which came now and then into his boyish eyes.
Later during the intimate evening over their cigarettes both had their
curiosity gratified. Captain Annersley was moved to relate some of his
hair breadth escapes and thrilling moments to an alert and hero
worshiping listener. And later still Ted too waxed autobiographical in
response to some clever baiting of which he was entirely unaware though
he did wonder afterward how he had happened to tell the thing he had kept
most secret to an entire stranger. It was an immense relief to the boy to
talk it all out. It would never haunt him again in quite the same way now
he had once broken the barriers of his reserve. Geoffrey Annersley served
his purpose for Ted as well as Larry Holiday.
Annersley was immensely interested in the confession. It matched very
well he thought with that other story of a gallant young Holiday to whom
his cousin Elinor owed so much in more than one way. They were a queer
lot these Holidays. They had the courage of their convictions and tilted
at windmills right valiantly it seemed.
And then he fell to talking straight talk to Ted Holiday, saying things
that only a man who has lived deeply can say with any effect. He urged
the boy not to worry about that smash of his. It was past history, over
and done with. He must look ahead not back and be thankful he had come
out as well as he had.
"There is just one other thing I want to say," he added. "You think you
have had your lesson. Maybe it is enough but you'll find it a jolly lot
easier to slip up over there than it is at home. You lose your sense of
values when there is death and damnation going all around you, get to
feeling you have a right to take anything that comes your way to even it
up. Anyway I felt that way until I met the girl I wanted to marry. Then
the rest looked almighty different. I've given Nancy the best I had to
give but it wasn't good enough. She deserved more than I could give her.
That is plain speaking, Holiday. Men say war excuses justify anything. It
doesn't do anything of the sort. Some day you will be wanting to marry a
girl yourself. Don't let anything happen in this next year over there
that you will regret for a life-time. That is a queer preachment and I'm
a jolly rotten preacher. But somehow I felt I had to say it. You can
remember it or forget it as you like."
Ted lit another cigarette, looked up straight into Geoffrey Annersley's
war lined face.
"Thank you," he said. "I think I'll remember it. Anyway I appreciate your
saying it to me that way."
The subject dropped then, went back to war and how men feel on the edge
of death, of the unimportance of death anyway.
THE PAST AND FUTURE MEET
Larry knocked at Ruth's door. It opened and a wan and pathetically
drooping little figure stood before him. Ever since she had been awake
Ruth, had been haunted by that unwelcome bit of memory illumination which
had come the night before. No wonder she drooped and scarcely dared to
lift her eyes to her lover's face. But in a moment he had her in his
arms, a performance which banished the droop and brought a lovely color
back into the pale cheeks.
"Larry, oh Larry, is it all right? I'm not his wife? He didn't marry me?"
Larry kissed her.
"He didn't marry you. Nobody's going to marry you but me. No, I didn't
mean to say that now. Forget it, sweetheart. You are free, and if you
want to say so I'll let you go. If you don't want--"
"But I do want," she interrupted. "I want Larry Holiday and he is all I
want. Why won't you ever, ever believe I love you? I do, more than
anything in the world."
"You darling! Will you marry me? I shouldn't have asked you that other
time. I hadn't the right. But I have now. Will you, Ruth? I want you so.
And I've waited so long."
"Listen to me, Larry Holiday." Ruth held up a small warning forefinger.
"I'll marry you if you will promise never, never to be cross to me again.
I have shed quarts of tears because you were so unkind and--faithless. I
ought to make you do some terrible penance for thinking the money or
anything but you mattered to me. Not even the wedding ring mattered. I
told you so but still you wouldn't believe."
Larry shook his head remorsefully.
"Rub it in, sweetheart, if you must. I deserve it. But don't you think I
have had purgatory enough because I didn't dare believe to punish me for
anything? As for the rest I know I've been behaving like a brute. I've a
devil of a disposition and I've been half crazy anyway. Not that that is
any excuse. But I'll behave myself in the future. Honest I will, Ruthie.
All you have to do is to lift this small finger of yours--" He indicated
the digit by a loverly kiss "and I'll be as meek and lowly as--as an ash
can," he finished prosaically.
Ruth's happy laughter rang out at this and she put up her lips for a
"I'll remember," she said. "You're not a brute, Larry. You're a darling
and I love you--oh immensely and I'll marry you just as quick as ever I
can and we'll be so happy you won't ever remember you have a
Another interim occurred, an interim occupied by things which are
nobody's business and which anybody who has ever been in love can supply
ad lib by exercise of memory and imagination. Then hand in hand the two
went down to where Geoffrey Annersley waited to bring back the past to
"Does he know me?" queried Ruth as they descended.
"He surely does. He knows all there is to know about you, Miss Elinor
Ruth Farringdon. He ought to. He is your cousin and he married your best
"Wait!" cried Ruth excitedly, "it's coming back. He married Nancy
Hollinger and she gave me some San Francisco addresses of some friends of
hers just before I sailed. They were in that envelope. I threw away the
addresses when I left San Francisco and tucked my tickets into it. Why,
Larry, I'm remembering--really remembering," she stopped short on the
stairs to exclaim in a startled incredulous tone.
"Of course you are remembering, sweetheart," echoed Larry happily. "Come
on down and remember the rest with Annersley's help. He is some cousin.
You'd better be prepared to be horribly proud of him. He is a captain and
wears all kinds of honorable and distinguished dingle dangles and
decorations as well as a romantic limp and a magnificent gash on his
cheek which he evidently didn't get shaving."
Larry jested because he knew Ruth was growing nervous. He could feel her
tremble against his arm. He was more than a little anxious as to the
outcome of the thing itself. The shock and the strain of meeting Geoffrey
Annersley were going to be rather an ordeal he knew.
They entered the living room and paused on the threshold, Larry's arm
still around the girl. Doctor Holiday and the captain both rose. The
latter limped gallantly toward Ruth who stared at him an instant and then
flung herself away from Larry into the other man's arms.
"Geoff! Geoff!" she cried.
For a moment nothing more was said then Ruth drew herself away.
"Geoffrey Annersley, why did you ever, ever make me wear that horrid
ring?" she demanded reproachfully. "Larry and I could have married each
other months ago if you hadn't. It was the silliest idea anyway and it's
all your fault--everything."
He laughed at that, a, big whole-souled hearty laugh that came from the
depths of him.
"That sounds natural," he said. "Every scrape you ever enticed me into as
a kid was always my fault somehow. Are you real, Elinor? I can't help
thinking I am seeing a ghost. Do you really remember me?" anxiously.
"Of course I remember you. Listen, Geoff. Listen hard."
And unexpectedly Ruth pursed her pretty lips and whistled a merry,
lilting bar of melody.
"By Jove!" exulted the captain. "That does sound like old times."
"Don't tell me I don't remember," she flashed back happy and excited
beyond measure at playing this new remembering game. "That was our
special call, yours and Rod's and mine. Oh Rod!" And at that all the joy
went out of the eager, flushed face. She went back into her cousin's
arms again, sobbing in heart breaking fashion. The turning tide of
memory had brought back wreckage of grief as well as joy. In Geoffrey
Annersley's arms Ruth mourned her brother's loss for the first time.
Larry sent his uncle a quick look and went out of the room. The older
doctor followed. Ruth and her cousin were left alone to pick up the
dropped threads of the past.
They all met again at luncheon however, Ruth rosy cheeked, excited and
red-eyed but on the whole none the worse for her journey back into the
land of forgotten things. As Larry had hoped the external stimulus of
actually seeing and hearing somebody out of that other life was enough to
start the train. What she did not yet remember Geoffrey supplied and
little by little the past took on shape and substance and Elinor Ruth
Farringdon became once more a normal human being with a past as well as a
present which was dazzlingly delightful, save for the one dark blur of
her dear Rod's unknown fate.
In the course of the conversation at table Geoffrey addressed his cousin
as Elinor and was promptly informed that she wasn't Elinor and was Ruth
and that he was to call her by that name or run the risk of being
disapproved of very heartily.
He laughed, amused at this.
"Now I know you are real," he said. "It is exactly the tone you used when
you issued the contrary command and by Jove almost the same words except
for the reversed titles. 'Don't call me Ruth, Geoff,'" he mimicked. "'I
am not going to be Ruth any more. I am going to be Elinor. It is a much
"Well, I don't think so now," retorted Ruth. "I've changed my mind again.
I think Ruth is the nicest name there is because--well--" She blushed
adorably and looked across the table at the young doctor, "because Larry
likes it," she completed half defiantly.
"Is that meant to be an official publishing of the bans?" teased her
cousin when the laugh that Ruth's naive confession had raised subsided
leaving Larry as well as Ruth a little hot of cheek.
"If you want to call it that," said Ruth. "Larry, I think you might say
something, not leave me everything to do myself. Tell them we are engaged
and are going to be married--"
"To-morrow," put in Larry suddenly pushing back his chair and going
over to stand behind Ruth, a hand on either shoulder, facing the
others gallantly if obviously also embarrassedly over her shyly bent
The blonde head went up at that, and was shaken very decidedly.
"No indeed. That isn't right at all," she objected. "Don't listen to him
anybody. It isn't going to be tomorrow. I've got to have a wedding dress
and it takes at least a week to dream a wedding dress when it is the only
time you ever intend to be married. I have all the other
things--everything I need down to the last hair pin and powder puff.
That's why I went to Boston. I knew I was going to want pretty clothes
quick. I told Doctor Holiday so." She sent a charming, half merry, half
deprecating smile at the older doctor who smiled back.
"She most assuredly did," he corroborated. "I never suspected it was part
of a deep laid plot however. I thought it was just femininity cropping
out after a dull season. How was I to know it was because you were
planning to run off with my assistant that you wanted all the gay
plumage?" he teased.
Ruth made a dainty little grimace at that.
"That isn't a fair way to put it," she declared. "If I had been
planning to run away with Larry or he with me we would have done it
months ago, plumage or no plumage. I wanted to but he wouldn't anyway,"
she confessed. "I like this way much, much better though. I don't want
to be married anywhere except right here in the heart of the House on
She slipped out of her chair and away from Larry's hands at that and went
over to where Doctor Philip sat.
"May we?" she asked like a child asking permission to run out and play.
"It is what we all want more than anything in the world, dear child," he
said. "You belong with Larry in our hearts as well as in the heart of the
House. You know that, don't you?"
"I know you are the dearest man that ever was, not even excepting Larry.
And I am going to kiss you, Uncle Phil, so there. I can call you that
now, can't I? I've always wanted to." And fitting the deed to the word
Ruth bent over and gave Doctor Philip a fluttering little butterfly kiss.
They rose from the table at that and Ruth was bidden go off to her room
and get a long rest after her too exciting morning. Larry soberly
repaired to the office and received patients and prescribed gravely for
them just as if his inner self were not executing wild fandangoes of joy.
Perhaps his patients did get a few waves of his happiness however for
there was not one of them who did not leave the office with greater hope
and strength and courage than he brought there.
"The young doctor's getting to be a lot like his uncle," one of them said
to his wife later. "Just the very touch of his hand made me feel better
today, sort of toned up as if I had had an electrical treatment. Queer
how human beings can shoot sparks sometimes."
Not so queer. Larry Holiday had just been himself electrified by love and
joy. No wonder he had new power that day and was a better healer than he
had ever been before.
In the living room Doctor Philip and Captain Annersley held converse. The
captain expressed his opinion that Ruth should go at once to Australia.
"If her brother is dead as we have every reason to fear, Elinor--Ruth--is
the sole owner of an immense amount of property. The lawyers are about
crazy trying to keep things going without either Roderick or Ruth. They
have been begging me to come out and take charge of things for months but
I haven't been able to see my way clear owing to one thing or another.
Somebody will have to go at once and of course it should be Ruth."
"How would it do for her and Laurence both to go?"
"Magnificent. I was hoping you would think that was a feasible project.
They will be glad to have a man to represent the family. My cousin knows
nothing about the business end of the thing. She has always approached it
exclusively from the spending side. Do you think your nephew would care
to settle there?"
"Possibly," said the Doctor. "That will develop later. They will have to
work that out for themselves. I am rather sorry he is going to marry a
girl with so much money but I suppose it cannot be helped."
"Some people wouldn't look at it that way, Doctor Holiday," grinned the
captain. "But I am prepared to accept the fact that you Holidays are in a
class by yourselves. We have always been afraid that Elinor would be a
victim of some miserable fortune hunter. I can't tell you what a relief
it is to have her marry a man like your nephew. I am only sorry he had to
go through such a punishing period of suspense waiting for his happiness.
Since there wasn't really the slightest obstacle I rather wish he had cut
his scruples and married her long ago."
"I don't agreed with you, Captain Annersley.. They are neither of them
worse off for waiting and being absolutely sure that this is what they
both want. If he had taken the risk and married her when he knew he
hadn't the full right to do it he would have been miserable and made her
more so. Larry is an odd chap. There is a morbid streak in him. He
wouldn't have forgiven himself if he had done it. And losing his own
self-respect would have been the worst thing that could have happened to
him. No amount of actual legality could have made up for starting out on
a spiritually illegal basis. We Holidays have to keep on moderately good
terms with ourselves to be happy," he added with a quiet smile.
"I suppose you are right," admitted the Englishman. "Anyway the thing is
straight and clear now. He has earned every bit of happiness that is
coming to him and I hope it is going to be a great deal. My own sense of
indebtness for all you Holidays have done for Ruth is enormous. I wish
there were some way of making adequate returns for it all. But it is too
big to be repaid. I may be able to keep an eye on your other nephew when
he gets over. I certainly should like to. I don't know when I've taken
such a fancy to a lad. My word he is a ripping sort."
"Ted?" Doctor Holiday smiled a little. "Well, yes, I suppose he is what
you Britishers call ripping. It has been rather ripping in another sense
being his guardian sometimes."
"I judge so by his own account of himself. Yoxi mustn't let that smash of
his worry you. He'll find something over there that will be worth a
hundred times what any college can give him, and as for the rest half the
lads of mettle in the world come to earth with a jolt over a girl sooner
or later and they don't all rise up out of the dust as clean as he did
by, a long shot."
"So he told you about that affair? You must have gotten under his skin
rather surprisingly Ted doesn't talk much about himself and I fancy he
hasn't talked about that thing at all to any one. It went deep."
"I know. He shows that in a hundred ways. But it hasn't crushed him or
made him reckless. It simply steadied him and I infer he needed some
Doctor Holiday nodded assent to that and asked if he thought the boy was
doing well up there.
"Not a doubt of it," said the Englishman heartily. And he added a brief
synopsis of the things that the colonel had said in regard to his
"That is rather astonishing," remarked Doctor Holiday. "Obedience
hasn't ever been one of Ted's strong points. In fact he has been a
"Most boys are until they perceive that there is sense instead of tyranny
in law. Your nephew has had that knocked into him rather hard and he is
all the better for it tough as it was in the process. He is making good
up there. He will make good over seas. He is a born leader--a better
leader of men than his brother would be though maybe Larry is finer
stuff. I don't know."
"They are very different but I like to think they are both rather fine
stuff. Maybe that is my partial view but I am a bit proud of them both,
Ted as well as Larry."
"You have every reason," approved the captain heartily. "I have seen a
good many splendid lads in the last four years and these two measure up
in a way which is an eye opener to me. In my stupid insular prejudice
maybe I had fallen to thinking that the particular quality that marks
them both was a distinctly British affair. Apparently you can breed it in
America too. I'm glad to see it and to own it. And may I say one other
thing, Doctor Holiday? I have the D.S.C. and a lot of other junk like
that but I'd surrender every bit of it this minute gladly if I thought
that I would ever have a son that would worship me the way those lads of
yours worship you. It is an honor any man might well covet."
ALAN MASSEY LOSES HIMSELF
While Ruth and Larry steered their storm tossed craft of love into smooth
haven at last; while Ted came into his own in the Canadian training camp
and Tony played Broadway to her heart's content, the two Masseys down in
Mexico drifted into a strange pact of friendship.
Had there been no other ministrations offered save those of creature
comfort alone Dick would have had cause to be immensely grateful to Alan
Massey. To good food, good nursing and material comfort the young man
reacted quickly for he was a healthy young animal and had no bad habits
to militate against recovery.
But there was more than creature comfort in Alan's service. Without the
latter's presence loneliness, homesickness and heartache would have
gnawed at the younger man retarding his physical gains. With Alan
Massey life even on a sick bed took on fascinating colors like a prism
For the sick lad's delectation Alan spun long thrilling tales, many of
them based on personal experience in his wide travels in many lands. He
was a magnificent raconteur and Dick propped up among his pillows drank
it all in, listening like another Desdemona to strange moving accidents
of fire and flood which his scribbling soul recognized as superb copy.
Often too Alan read from books, called in the masters of the pen to set
the listener's eager mind atravel through wondrous, unexplored worlds.
Best of all perhaps were the twilight hours when Alan quoted long
passages of poetry from memory, lending to the magic of the poet's art
his own magic of voice and intonation. These were wonderful moments to
Dick, moments he was never to forget. He drank deep of the soul vintage
which the other man offered him out of the abundance of his experience as
a life long pilgrim in the service of beauty.
It was a curious relation--this growing friendship between the two men.
In some respects they were as master and pupil, in others were as man and
man, friend and friend, almost brother and brother. When Alan Massey gave
at all he gave magnificently without stint or reservation. He did now.
And when he willed to conquer he seldom if ever failed. He did not now.
He won, won first his cousin's liking, respect, and gratitude and finally
his loyal friendship and something else that was akin to reverence.
Tony Holiday's name was seldom mentioned between the two. Perhaps they
feared that with the name of the girl they both loved there might return
also the old antagonistic forces which had already wrought too much
havoc. Both sincerely desired peace and amity and therefore the woman who
held both their hearts in her keeping was almost banished from the talk
of the sick room though she was far from forgotten by either.
So things went on. In time Dick was judged by the physician well enough
to take the long journey back to New York. Alan secured the tickets, made
all the arrangements, permitting Dick not so much as the lifting of a
finger in his own behalf. And just then came Tony Holiday's letter to
Alan telling him she was his whenever he wanted her since he had cleared
the shield forever in her eyes by what he had done for Dick. She trusted
him, knew he would not ask her to marry him unless he was quite free
morally and every other way to ask her. She wanted him, could not be
surer of his love or her own if she waited a dozen years. He meant more
to her than her work, more than her beloved freedom more even than
Holiday Hill itself although she felt that she was not so much deserting
the Hill as bringing Alan to it. The others would learn to love him too.
They must, because she loved him so much! But even if they did not she
had made her choice. She belonged to him first of all.
"But think, dear," she finished. "Think well before you take me. Don't
come to me at all unless you can come free, with nothing on your soul
that is going to prevent your being happy with me. I shall ask no
questions if you come. I trust you to decide right for us both because
you lave me in the high way as well as all the other ways."
Alan took this letter of Tony's out into the night, walked with it
through flaming valleys of hell. She was his. Of her own free will she
had given herself to him, placed him higher in her heart at last than
even her sacred Hill. And yet after all the Hill stood between them, in
the challenge she flung at him. She was his to take if he could come
free. She left the decision to him. She trusted him.
Good God! Why should he hesitate to take what she was willing to give? He
had atoned, saved his cousin's life, lived decently, honorably as he had
promised, kept faith with Tony herself when he might perhaps have won her
on baser terms than he had made himself keep to because he loved her as
she said "in the high way as well as all the other ways." He would
contrive some way of giving his cousin back the money. He did not want
it. He only wanted Tony and her love. Why in the name of all the devils
should he who had sinned all his life, head up and eyes open, balk at
this one sin, the negative sin of mere silence, when it would give him
what he wanted more than all the world? What was he afraid of? The answer
he would not let himself discover. He was afraid of Tony Holiday's clear
eyes but he was more afraid of something else--his own soul which somehow
Tony had created by loving and believing in him.
All the next day, the day before they were to leave on the northern
journey, Alan behaved as if all the devils of hell which he had invoked
were with him. The old mocking bitterness of tongue was back, an even
more savage light than Dick remembered that night of their quarrel was in
his green eyes. The man was suddenly acidulated as if he had over night
suffered a chemical transformation which had affected both mind and body.
A wild beast tortured, evil, ready to pounce, looked out of his drawn,
Dick wondered greatly what had caused the strange reaction and seeing
the other was suffering tremendously for some reason or other
unexplained and perhaps inexplicable was profoundly sorry. His
friendship for the man who had saved his life was altogether too strong
and deep to be shaken by this temporary lapse into brutality which he
had known all along was there although held miraculously in abeyance
these many weeks. The man was a genius, with all the temperamental
fluctuations of mood which are comprehensible and forgivable in a
genius. Dick did not begrudge the other any relief he might find in his
debauch of ill humor, was more than willing he should work it off on his
humble self if it could do any good though he would be immensely
relieved when the old friendly Alan came back.
Twilight descended. Dick turned from the mirror after a critical survey
of his own lean, fever parched, yellow countenance.
"Lord! I look like a peanut," he commenced disgustedly. "I say, Massey,
when we get back to New York I think I should choke anybody if I were you
who dared to say we looked alike. One must draw the line somewhere at
what constitutes a permissible insult." He grinned whimsically at his own
expense, turned back to the mirror. "Upon my word, though, I believe it
is true. We do look alike. I never saw it until this minute. Funny
"This isn't so funny," drawled Alan. "We had the same great grandfather."
Dick whirled about staring at the other man as if he thought him
suddenly gone mad.
"What! What do you know about my great grandfather? Do you know
who I am?"
"I do. You are John Massey, old John's grandson, the chap I told you once
was dead and decently buried. I hoped it was true at the time but it
wasn't a week before I knew it was a lie. I found out John Massey was
alive and that he was going under the name of Dick Carson. Do you wonder
I hated you?"
Dick sat down, his face white. He looked and was utterly dazed.
"I don't understand," he said. "Do you mind explaining? It--it is a
little hard to get all at once."
And then Alan Massey told the story that no living being save himself
knew. He spared himself nothing, apologised for nothing, expressed no
regret, asked for no palliation of judgment, forgiveness or even
understanding. Quietly, apparently without emotion, he gave back to the
other man the birthright he had robbed him of by his selfish and
dishonorable connivance with a wicked old man now beyond the power of any
vengeance or penalty. Dick Carson was no longer nameless but as he
listened tensely to his cousin's revelations he almost found it in his
heart to wish he were. It was too terrible to have won his name at such a
cost. As he listened, watching Alan's eyes burn in the dusk in strange
contrast to his cool, liquid, studiously tranquil voice, Dick remembered
a line Alan himself had read him only the other day, "Hell, the shadow of
a soul on fire," the Persian phrased it. Watching, Dick Carson saw before
him a sadder thing, a soul which had once been on fire and was now but
gray ashes. The flame had blazed up, scorched and blackened its path. It
was over now, burnt out. At thirty-three Alan Massey was through, had
lived his life, had given up. The younger man saw this with a pang which
had no reactive thought of self, only compassion for the other.
"That is all, I think," said Alan at last. "I have all the proofs of your
identity with me. I never could destroy them somehow though I have meant
to over and over again. On the same principle I suppose that the sinning
monk sears the sign of the cross on his breast though he makes no outward
confession to the world and means to make none. I never meant to make
mine. I don't know why I am doing it now. Or rather I do. I couldn't
marry Tony with this thing between us. I tried to think I could, that I'd
made up to you by saving your life, that I was free to take my happiness
with her because I loved her and she loved me. And she does love me. She
wrote me yesterday she would marry me whenever I wished. I could have had
her. But I couldn't take her that way. I couldn't have made her happy.
She would have read the thing in my soul. She is too clean and honest and
true herself not to feel the presence of the other thing when it came
near her. I have tried to tell myself love was enough, that it would make
up to her for the rest. It isn't enough. You can't build life or
happiness except on the quarry stuff they keep on Holiday Hill, right,
honor, decency. You know that. Tony forgave my past. I believe she is
generous enough to forgive even this and go on with me. But I shan't ask
her. I won't let her. I--I've given her up with the rest."
The speaker came over to where Dick sat, silent, stunned.
"Enough of that. I have no wish to appeal to you in any way. The next
move is yours. You can act as you please. You can brand me as a
criminal if you choose. It is what I am, guilty in the eyes of the law
as well as in my own eyes and yours. I am not pleading innocence. I am
pleading unqualified guilt. Understand that clearly. I knew what I was
doing when I did it. I have known ever since. I've never been blind to
the rottenness of the thing. At first I did it for the money because I
was afraid of poverty and honest work. And then I went on with it for
Tony, because I loved her and wouldn't give her up to you. Now I've
given up the last ditch. The name is yours and the money is yours and
if you can win Tony she is yours. I'm out of the face for good and all.
But we have to settle just how the thing is going to be done. And that
is for you to say."
"I wish I needn't do anything about it," said Dick slowly after a moment.
"I don't want the money. I am almost afraid of it. It seems accursed
somehow considering what it did to you. Even the name I don't seem to
care so much about just now thought I have wanted a name as I have never
wanted anything else in the world except Tony. It was mostly for her I
wanted it. See here, Alan, why can't we make a compromise? You say
Roberts wrote two letters and you have both. Why can't we destroy the one
and send the other to the lawyers, the one that lets you out? It is
nobody's business but ours. We can say that the letter has just fallen
into your hands with the other proof that I am the John Massey that was
stolen. That would straighten the thing out for you. I've no desire to
brand you in any way. Why should I after all I owe you? You have made up
a million times by saving my life and by the way you have given the thing
over now. Anyway one doesn't exact payment from one's friends. And you
are my friend, Alan. You offered me friendship. I took it--was proud to
take it. I am proud now, prouder than ever."
And rising Dick Carson who was no longer Dick Carson but John Massey held
out his hand to the man who had wronged him so bitterly. The paraquet in
the corner jibbered harshly. Thunder rumbled heavily outside. An eerily
vivid flash of lightning dispelled for a moment the gloom of the dusk as
the two men clasped hands.
"John Massey!" Alan's voice with its deep cello quality was vibrant with
emotion. "You don't know what that means to me. Men have called me many
things but few have ever called me friend except in lip service for what
they thought they could get out of it. And from you--well, I can only
say, I thank you."
"We are the only Masseys. We ought to stand together," said Dick simply.
Alan smiled though the room was too dark for Dick to see.
"We can't stand together. I have forfeited the right. You chose the high
road long ago and I chose the other. We have both to abide by our
choices. We can't change those things at will. Spare me the public
revelation if you care to. I shall be glad for Tony's sake. For myself it
doesn't matter much. I don't expect to cross your path or hers again. I
am going to lose myself. Maybe some day you will win her. She will be
worth the winning. But don't hurry her if you want to win. She will have
to get over me first and that will take time."
"She will never get over you, Alan. I know her. Things go deep with her.
They do with all the Holidays. You shan't lose yourself. There is no need
of it. Tony loves you. You must stay and make her happy. You can now you
are free. She need never know the worst of this any more than the rest of
the world need know. We can divide the money. It is the only way I am
willing to have any of it."
Alan shook his head.
"We can divide nothing, not the money and not Tony's love. I told you I
was giving it all up. You cannot stop me. No man has ever stopped me from
doing what I willed to do. I have a letter or two to write now and so
I'll leave you. I am glad you don't hate me, John Massey. Shall we shake
hands once more and then--good-night?"
Their hands met again. A sharp glare of lightning lit the room with
ominous brilliancy for a moment. The paraquet screamed raucously. And
then the door closed on Alan Massey.
An hour later a servant brought word to Dick that an American was below
waiting to speak to him. He descended with the card in his hand. The name
was unfamiliar, Arthur Hallock of Chicago, mining engineer.
The stranger stood in the hall waiting while Dick came down the stairs.
He was obviously ill at ease.
"I am Hallock," announced the visitor. "You are Richard Carson?"
Dick nodded. Already the name was beginning to sound strange on his ears.
In one hour he had gotten oddly accustomed to knowing that he was John
Massey. And no longer needed Tony's name, dear as it was.
"I am sorry to be the bearer of ill news, Mr. Carson," the stranger
proceeded. "You have a friend named Alan Massey living here with you?"
Again Dick nodded. He was apprehensive at the mention of Alan's name.
"There was a riot down there." The speaker pointed down the street. "A
fuss over an American flag some dirty German dog had spit at. It didn't
take long to start a life sized row. We are all spoiling for a chance to
stick a few of the pigs ourselves whether we're technically at war or
not. A lot of us collected, your friend Massey among the rest. I
remember particularly when he joined the mob because he was so much
taller than the rest of us and came strolling in as if he was going to
an afternoon tea instead of getting into an international mess with
nearly all the contracting parties drunk and disorderly. There was a
good deal of excitement and confusion. I don't believe anybody knows
just what happened but a drunken Mexican drew a dagger somewhere in the
mix up and let it fly indiscriminate like. We all scattered like
mischief when we saw the thing flash. Nobody cares much for that kind of
plaything at close range. But Massey didn't move. It got him, clean in
the heart. He couldn't have suffered a second. It was all over in a
breath. He fell and the mob made itself scarce. Another fellow and I
were the first to get to him but there wasn't anything to do but look in
his pockets and find out who he was. We found his name on a card with
this address and your name scribbled on it in pencil. I say, Mr. Carson,
I am horribly sorry," suddenly perceiving Dick's white face. "You care a
lot, don't you?"
"I care a lot," said Dick woodenly. "He was my cousin and--my best
"I am sorry," repeated the young engineer. "Mr. Carson, there is
something else I feel as if I had to say though I shan't say it to any
one else. Massey might have dodged with the rest of us. He saw it coming
just as we did. He waited for it and I saw him smile as it came--a queer
smile at that. Maybe I'm mistaken but I have a hunch he wanted that
dagger to find him. That was why he smiled."
"I think you are entirely right, Mr. Hallock," said Dick. "I haven't any
doubt but that was why he smiled. He would smile just that way. Where
--where is he?" Dick brushed his hands across his eyes as he asked the
question. He had never felt so desolate, so utterly alone in his life.
"They are bringing him here. Shall I stay? Can I help anyway?"
Dick shook his head sadly.
"Thank you. I don't think there is anything any one can do. I--I wish
A little later Alan Massey's dead body lay in austere dignity in the
house in which he had saved his cousin's life and given him back his name
and fortune together with the right to win the girl he himself had loved
so well. The smile was still on his face and a strange serenity of
expression was there too. He slept well at last. He had lost himself as
he had proclaimed his intent to do and in losing had found himself. One
could not look upon that calm white sculptured face without feeling that.
Alan Massey had died a victor undaunted, a master of fate to the end.
THE SONG IN THE NIGHT
Tony Holiday sat in the dressing room waiting her cue to go on the stage.
It was only a rehearsal however. Miss Clay was back now and Tony was once
more the humble understudy though with a heart full of happy knowledge of
what it is like to be a real actress with a doting public at her feet.
While she waited she picked up a newspaper and carelessly scanned its
pages. Suddenly to the amazement and consternation of the other girl who
was dressing in the same room she uttered a sharp little cry and for the
first time in her healthy young life slid to the floor in a merciful
faint. Her frightened companion called for help instantly and it was only
a moment before Tony's brown eyes opened and she pulled herself up from
the couch where they had laid her. But she would not speak or tell them
what had happened and it was only when they had gotten her off in a cab
with a motherly, big hearted woman who played shrew's and villainess'
parts always on the stage but was the one person of the whole cast to
whom every one turned in time of trouble that the rest searched the paper
for the clew to the thing which had made Tony look like death itself. It
was not far to seek. Tony looked like death because Alan Massey was dead.
They all knew Alan Massey and knew that he and Tony Holiday were intimate
friends, perhaps even betrothed. More than one of them had seen and
remembered how he had kissed her before them all on the night of Tony's
first Broadway triumph and some of them had wondered why he had not been
seen since with her. So he had been in Mexico and now he was dead, his
heart pierced by a Mexican dagger. And Tony--Tony of the gay tongue and
the quick laughter--had the dagger gone into her heart too? It looked so.
The "End of the Rainbow" cast felt very sad and sober that day. They
loved Tony and just now she was not an actress to them but a girl who had
loved a man, a man who was dead.
Jean Lambert telegraphed at once for Doctor Holiday to come to Tony who
was in a bad way. She wouldn't talk. She wouldn't eat. She did not sleep.
She did not cry. Jean thought if she cried her grief would not have been
so pitiful to behold. It was the stony, white silence of her that was
intolerable to witness.
In her uncle's arms Tony's terrible calm gave way and she sobbed herself
to utter weariness and finally to sleep. But even to him she would not
talk much about Alan. He had not known Alan. He had never
understood--never would understand now how wonderful, how lovable, how
splendid her lover had been. For several days she was kept in bed and the
doctor hardly left her. It was a hard time for him as well as his
stricken niece. Even their love for each other did not serve to lighten
the pain to any great extent. It was not the same sorrow they had. Doctor
Holiday was suffering because his little girl suffered. Tony was
suffering because she loved Alan Massey who would never come to her
again. Neither could entirely share the grief of the other. Alan Massey
was between them still.
Finally Dick came and was able to give what Doctor Philip could not. He
could sing Alan's praises, tell her how wonderful he had been, how
generous and kind. He could share her grief as no one else could because
he had learned to love Alan Massey almost as well as she did herself.
Dick talked freely of Alan, told her of the strange discovery which they
had made that he and Alan were cousins and that he himself was John
Massey, the kidnapped baby whom he had been so sorry for when he had
looked up the Massey story at the time of the old man's death. Dick was
not an apt liar but he lied gallantly now for Alan's sake and for Tony's.
He told her that it was only since Alan had been in Mexico that he had
known who his cousin was and had immediately possessed the other of the
facts and turned over to him the proofs of his identity as John Massey.
It was a good lie, well conceived and well delivered but the liar had not
reckoned on that fatal Holiday gift of intuition. Tony listened to the
story, shut her eyes and thought hard for a moment. Then she opened her
eyes again and looked straight at Dick.
"That is not the truth," she said. "Alan knew before he went to Mexico.
He knew long before. That was the other ghost--the one he could not lay.
Don't lie to me. I know."
And then yielding to her command Dick began again and told her the truth,
serving Alan's memory well by the relation. One thing only he kept back.
After all he had no proof that the young engineer had been right in his
conjecture that Alan had wanted the dagger to find him. There was no need
of hurting Tony with that.
"Dick--I can't call you John yet. I can't even think about you to-night
though I am so thankful to have you back safe and well. I can't be glad
yet for you. I can't remember any one but Alan. You will forgive me, I
know. But tell me. It was a terrible thing he did to you. Do you forgive
him really?" The girl's deep shadowed eyes searched the young man's face,
challenging him to speak the truth and only that.
He met the challenge willingly. He had nothing to conceal here. Tony
might read him through and through and she would find in him neither hate
nor rancor, nor condemnation.
"Of course I forgive him, Tony. He did a terrible thing to me you say.
He did a much more terrible thing to himself. And he made up for
everything over and over by what he did for me in Mexico. He might have
let me die. I should have died if he had not come. There is no doubt in
the world of that. He could not have done more if he had been my own
brother. He meant me to like him. He did more. He made me love him. He
was my friend. We parted as friends with a handshake which was his
good-by though I didn't know it."
It was a fatal speech. Too late Dick realized it as he saw Tony's face.
"Dick, he meant to let himself get killed. I've thought so all along and
now I know you think so too."
"I didn't mean to let that out. Maybe I am mistaken. We shall never know.
But I believe he was not sorry to let the dagger get him. He had given up
everything else. It wasn't so hard for him to give up the one thing
more--the thing he didn't want anyway--life. Life wasn't much to him
after he gave you up, Tony. His love was the biggest thing about him. I
love you myself but I am not ashamed to say that his love was a bigger
thing than mine every way, finer, more magnificent, the love of a genius
whereas mine is just the love of an every day man. It was love that
"Dick, do you believe that the real Alan is dust--nothing but dust down
in a grave?" demanded Tony suddenly.
"No, Tony, I don't. I can't. The essence of what was best in him is alive
somewhere. I know it. It must be. His love for you--for all beauty--they
couldn't die, dear. They were big enough to be immortal."
"And his dancing," sighed Tony. "His dancing couldn't die. It had a
If she had not been sure already that Alan had meant to go out of her
life even if he had not meant to go to his death when he left New York
she would have been convinced a little later. Alan's Japanese servant
brought two gifts to her from his honorable master according to his
honorable master's orders should he not return from his journey. His
honorable master being unfortunately dead his unworthy servant laid the
gifts at Mees Holiday's honorable feet. Whereupon the bearer had departed
as quietly as death itself might come.
One of the gifts was a picture, a painting which Tony had seen, and which
was she thought the most beautiful of all his beautiful creations. Its
sheer loveliness would have hurt her even if it had had no other
significance and it did have a very real message.
At first sight the whole scene seemed enveloped in translucent, silver
mist. As one looked more closely however there was revealed the figure of
a man, black clad in pilgrim guise, kneeling on the verge of a
precipitous cliff which rose out of a seemingly bottomless abyss of
terrific blackness. Though in posture of prayer the pilgrim's head was
lifted and his face wore an expression of rapt adoration. Above a film
of fog in the heavens stretched a clear space of deep blue black sky in
which hung a single luminous star. From the star a line of golden light
of unearthly radiance descended and finding its way to the uplifted
transfigured face of the kneeling pilgrim ended there.
Tony Holiday understood, got the message as clearly as if Alan himself
stood beside her to interpret it. She knew that he was telling her
through the picture that she had saved his soul, kept him out of the
abyss, that to the end she was what he had so often called her--his star.
With tear blinded eyes she turned from the canvas to the little silver
box which the servant had placed in her hands together with a sealed
envelope. In the box was a gorgeous, unset ruby, the gem of Alan's
collection as Tony well knew having worshiped often at its shrine. It lay
there now against the austere purity of its white satin background--the
symbol of imperishable passion.
Reverently Tony closed the little box and opened the sealed envelope
dreading yet longing to know its contents. Alan had sent her no word of
farewell, had not written to her that night before he went out into the
storm to meet his death, had made no response to the letter she herself
had written offering herself and her love and faith for his taking. At
first these things had hurt her. But these gifts of his were beginning to
make her understand his silence. Selfish and spectacular all his life at
his death Alan Massey had been surpassingly generous and simple. He had
chosen to bequeath his love to her not as an obsession and a bondage but
as an elemental thing like light and air.
The message in the envelope was in its way as impersonal as the ruby had
been but Tony found it more hauntingly personal than she had ever found
his most impassioned love letter. Once more the words were couched in the
symbol tongue of the poet in India--in only two sentences, but sentences
so poignant that they stamped themselves forever on Tony Holiday's mind
as they stood out from the paper in Alan's beautiful, striking
"When the lighted lamp is brought into the room
I shall go.
And then perhaps you will listen to the night, and
hear my song when I am silent."
The lines were dated on that unforgettable night when Tony had played
Broadway and danced her last dance with her royal lover. So he had known
even then that he was giving her up. Realizing this Tony realized as she
never had before the high quality of his love. She could guess a little
of what that night had meant to him, how passionately he must have
desired to win through to the full fruition of his love before he gave
her up for all the rest of time. And she herself had been mad that night
Tony remembered. Ah well! He had been strong for them both. And now their
love would always stay upon the high levels, never descend to the ways of
earth. There would never be anything to regret, though Tony loving her
lover's memory as she did that moment was not so sure but she regretted
that most of all.
Yet tragic as Alan's death was and bitterly and sincerely as she mourned
his loss Tony could see that he had after all chosen the happiest way
out for himself as well as for her and his cousin. It was not hard to
forgive a dead lover with a generous act of renunciation his last deed.
It would have been far less easy to forgive a living lover with such a
stain upon his life. Even though he tried to wash it away by his
surrender and she by her forgiveness the stain would have remained
ineradicable. There would always have been a barrier between them for
all his effort and her own.
And his love would ill have borne denial or frustration. Without her he
would have gone down into dark pits if he had gone on living. Perhaps he
had known and feared this himself, willing to prevent it at any cost.
Perhaps he had known that so long as he lived she, Tony, would never have
been entirely her own again. His bondage would have been upon her even if
he never saw her again. Perhaps he had elected death most of all for this
reason, had loved her well enough to set her free. He had told her once
that love was twofold, a force of destruction and damnation but also a
force of purification and salvation. Alan had loved her greatly, perhaps
in the end his love had taken him in his own words "to the gate of
Heaven." Tony did not know but she thought if there really was a God he
would understand and forgive the soul of Alan Massey for that last
splendid sacrifice of his in the name of love.
And whatever happened Tony Holiday knew that she would bear forever the
mark of Alan Massey's stormy, strange, and in the end all-beautiful love.
Perhaps some day the lighted lamp might be brought in. She did not know,
would not attempt to prophesy about that. She did not know that she would
always listen to the night for Alan Massey's sake and hear his song
though he was silent forever.
The next day Richard Carson officially disappeared from the world and
John Massey appeared in his place. The papers made rather a striking
story of his romantic history and its startling denouement which had
come they said through the death bed confessions of the man Roberts which
had only just reached the older Massey's hands, strangely enough on the
eve of his own tragic death, which was again related to make the tale a
little more of a thriller. That was all the world knew, was ever to know
for the Holidays and John Massey kept the dead man's secret well.
And the grass grew green on Alan Massey's grave. The sun and dew and rain
laid tender fingers upon it and great crimson and gold hearted roses
strewed their fragrant petals upon it year by year. The stars he had
loved so well shone down upon the lonely spot where his body slept quiet
at last after the torment of his brief and stormy life. But otherwise, as
John Massey and Tony Holiday believed, his undefeated spirit fared on
splendidly in its divine quest of beauty.
IN WHICH THE TALE ENDS IN THE HOUSE ON THE HILL
The winter had at last decided to recapture its forsaken role of the Snow
King. For two days and as many nights the air had been one swirl of snow
which shut out earth and sky. But on the third morning the Hill woke to a
dazzling world of cloudless blue and trackless white. A resplendent
bride-like day it was and fitly so for before sundown the old House on
the Hill was to know another bride. Elinor Ruth Farringdon's affairs
required her immediate attention in Australia and she was leaving
to-night for that far away island which was again now dear to her heart
as the home of her happy childhood, the memory of which had now all
returned after months of strange obliteration. But she would not go as
Elinor Ruth Farringdon. That name was to be shed as absolutely as her
recollection of it had once been shed. She would go as Mrs. Laurence
Holiday with a real wedding ring all her own and a real husband also all
her own by her side.
There were to be no guests outside the family except for the Lamberts,
Carlotta and Dick--John Massey, as they were now trying to learn to call
him. The wedding was to be very quiet not only because of Granny but
because they were all very pitiful of Tony's still fresh grief, the more
so because she bore it so bravely and quietly, anxious lest she cast any
shadow upon the happiness of the others, especially that of Larry and
Ruth. In any case a quiet wedding would have been the choice of the two
who were most concerned. They wanted only their near and dear about them
when they took upon themselves the rites which were to unite them for the
rest of their two lives.
Aside from Tony's sorrow the only two regrets which marred the household
joy that bride white day were Ted's absence and imminent departure for
France and that other even soberer remembrance of that other gallant
young soldier, Ruth's brother Roderick of whom no news had come, though
Ruth insisted that Rod wasn't dead, that he would came back just as her
vivid memory of him had returned.
And it happened that her faith was rewarded and on the very day of days
when one drop more of happiness made the cup fairly spill over. Larry was
summoned to the telephone just as he had been once before on a certain
memorable occasion to be told that a cabled message awaited him. The
message was from Geoffrey Annersley and bore besides his love and
congratulations the wonderful news that Roderick Farringdon had escaped
from a German prison camp and was safe in England.
Ruth shed many happy tears over this best of all bridal gifts, not enough
to dim the shining blue of her eyes but enough to give them a lovely,
misty tenderness which made her sweeter than ever Larry thought, and who
should have magic eyes if not a bridegroom?
A little later came Carlotta and Dick, the latter well and strong again
but thin and pale and rather sober. Tony loved him for grieving for Alan
as she knew he did. He too had known and loved the dead man and
understood him perhaps better than she had herself. For after all no man
and woman can ever fully understand each other especially if they are in
love. So many faint nuances of doubt and fear and pride and passion and
jealousy are forever drifting between lovers obscuring clarity of vision.
Carlotta was prettier than ever with a new sweetness and womanliness
which her love had wrought in her during the year. People who had known
her mother said she was growing daily more like Rose though always before
they had traced a greater resemblance to the other side of the house, to
her Aunt Lottie particularly. She and Philip were to be married in the
spring. "When the orioles come" Carlotta had said remembering her
father's story of that other brief mating.
Tony and Carlotta slipped away from the others to talk by
themselves. Carlotta too had known and liked Alan and to all such
Tony clung just now.
"He was so different at the end," she said to her friend. "I wish you
could have known him that way--so dear and gentle and wonderful. He kept
his promise everyway, lived absolutely straight and clean and fine."
"He did it for you, Tony. He never could have done it for himself. He
wouldn't have thought it worth while. Don't tell me if you don't want to
but I have guessed a good many things since I knew about Dick and I have
wondered if he wasn't rather glad--to get killed."
"Yes, Dick thinks and I think too that he let the dagger find him. I
have always called him my royal lover. His death was the most royal
part of all."
Carlotta was silent. She hoped that somewhere Alan was finding the
happiness he seemed always to have missed on earth. Then seeing her
friend's lovely eyes with the heavy shadow in them where there had been
only sunshine before her heart rebelled. Poor Tony! Why must she suffer
like this? She was so young. Was life really over for her? For Carlotta
in her own happiness life and love were synonymous terms. Something of
what was in her mind she said to her friend.
"I don't know," confessed Tony. "It is too soon to tell. Just now Alan
fills every nook and cranny of me. I can't think of any other man or
imagine myself loving anybody else as I loved him. But I am a very much
alive person. I don't believe I shall give myself to death forever. Alan
himself wouldn't want it so. A part of me will always be his but there
are other margins of me that Alan never touched and these maybe I shall
give to some one else when the time comes."
"Does that mean Dick--John Massey?"
"Maybe. Maybe not. I have told him not to speak of love for a long, long
time. We must both be free. He is going to France as a war correspondent
"Don't you hate to have him go?"
"Yes, I do. But I can't be selfish enough to keep him hanging round me
forever on the slim chance that some time I shall be willing to marry
him. He is too fine to be treated like that. He wants to go overseas
unless I will marry him now and I can't do that. It is better that we
should be apart for a while. As for me I have my work and I am going to
plunge into it as deep and hard as I can. I am not going to be unhappy.
You can't be unhappy when you love your work as I love mine. Don't be
sorry for me, Carlotta. I am not sorry for myself. Even if I never loved
again and never was loved I should still have had enough for a life time.
It is more than many women have, more than I deserve."
The bride white day wore on to twilight and as the clock struck the hour
of five Ruth Farringdon came down the broad oak staircase clad in the
shining splendor of the bridal gown she had "dreamed," wearing her
grandmother's pearls and the lace veil which Larry's lovely mother had
worn as Ned Holiday's bride long and long ago. At the foot of the stairs
Larry waited and took her hand. Eric and Hester flanking the living room
door pushed aside the curtains for the two who still hand in hand walked
past the children into the room where the others were assembled. Gravely
and brimming with importance the guard of honor followed, the latter
bearing the bride's bouquet, the former squeezing the wedding ring in his
small fist. Ruth took her place beside the senior doctor. The minister
opened his mouth to proceed with the ceremony, shut it again with a
For suddenly the curtains were swept aside again, this time with a
breezier and less stately sweep and Ted Holiday in uniform and sergeant's
regalia plunged into the room, a thinner, browner, taller Ted, with a new
kind of dignity about him but withal the same blue-eyed lad with the old
heart warming smile, still always Teddy the beloved.
"Don't mind me," he announced. "Please go on." And he slipped into
a place beside Tony drawing her hand in his with a warm pressure as
he did so.
They went on. Laurence LaRue Holiday and Elinor Ruth Farringdon were made
man and wife till death did them part. The old clock on the mantel which
had looked down on these two on a less happy occasion looked on still,
ticking away calmly, telling no tales and asking no questions. What was a
marriage more or less to time?
The ceremony over it was the newly arrived sergeant rather than the bride
and groom who was the center of attraction and none were better pleased
than Larry and Ruth to have it so.
It was a flying visit on Ted's part. He had managed to secure a last
minute leave just before sailing from Montreal at which place he had to
report the day after to-morrow.
"So let's eat, drink, and be merry," he finished his explanation gayly.
"But first, please, Larry, may I kiss the bride?"
"Go to it," laughed his brother. "I'm so hanged glad to see you Kid, I've
half a mind to kiss you myself."
Needing no further urging Ted availed himself of the proffered privilege
and kissed the bride, not once but three times, once on each rosy cheek,
and last full on her pretty mouth itself.
"There!" he announced standing off to survey her, both her hands still in
his possession. "I've always wanted to do that and now I've done it. I
Everybody laughed at that not because what he said was so very
amusing as because their hearts were so full of joy to have the
irrepressible youngest Holiday at home again after the long anxious
weeks of his absence.
Under cover of the laugh he whispered in Ruth's ear, "Gee! But I'm
glad you are all right again, sweetness. And your Geoffrey Annersley
is some peach of a cousin, I'm telling you, though I'm confoundedly
glad he decided he was married to somebody else and left the coast
clear for Larry."
He squeezed her hand again, a pressure which meant more than his words
as Ruth knew and then he turned to Larry. The hands of the two brothers
met and each looked into the other's face, for once unashamed of the
emotion that mastered them. Characteristically Ted was the first to
"Larry, dear old chap, I wish I could tell you how happy I am that it
has come out so ripping right for you and Ruth. You deserve all the luck
and love in the world. I only wish mother and dad could be here now.
Maybe they are. I believe they must know somehow. Dad seems awfully close
to me lately especially since I've been in this war business." Then
seeing Larry's face shadow he added, "And you mustn't worry about me, old
man. I am going to come through and it is all right anyway whatever
happens. You know yourself death isn't so much--not such a horrible
calamity as we talk as if it were."
"I know. But it is horribly hard to reconcile myself to your going. I
can't seem to make up my mind to accept it especially as you needn't
"Don't let that part bother you. The old U.S.A. will be in it herself
before you know it and then I'd have gone anyway. Nothing would have kept
me. What is the odds? I am glad to be getting in on the front row myself.
I am going to be all right I tell you. Going to have a bully time and
when we have the Germans jolly well licked I'm coming home and find me as
pretty a wife as Ruth if there is one to be found in America and marry
her quick as lightning."
Larry smiled at that. It was so like Ted it was good to hear. And
irrationally enough he found himself more than a little reassured and
comforted because the other lad declared he was going to be all right and
have a bully time and come back safe when the job was done.
"And I say, Larry." Ted's voice was soberer now. "I have always wanted
to tell you how I appreciated your standing by me so magnificently in
that horrible mess of mine. I wouldn't have blamed you if you had felt
like throwing me over for life after my being such a tarnation idiot
and disgracing the family like that. I'll never forget how white you and
Uncle Phil both were about it every way and maybe you won't believe it
but there'll never be anything like that again. There are some things
I'm through with--at least if I'm not I'm even more of a fool than I
think I am."
"Don't, Ted. I haven't been such a model of virtue and wisdom that I can
afford to sit in judgment on you. I've learned a few things myself this
year and I am not so cock sure in my views as I was by a long shot.
Anyway you have more than made up by what you have done since and what
you are going to do over there. Let's forget the rest and just remember
that we are both Holidays, and it is up to both of us to measure up to
Dad and Uncle Phil, far as we can."
"Some stunt, what?" Thus Ted flippantly mixed his familiar American and
newly acquired British vernacular. "You are dead right, Larry. I am
afraid I'm doomed to land some nine miles or so below the mark but I'm
going to make a stab at it anyway."
Later there was a gala dinner party, an occasion almost as gay as that
Round Table banquet over eight years ago had been when Dick Carson had
been formally inducted into the order and Doctor Holiday had announced
that he was going to marry Miss Margery. And as before there was
laughter and gay talk and teasing, affectionate jest and prophecy
mingled with the toasting.
There were toasts to the reigning bride and groom, Larry and Ruth, to the
coming bride and groom Philip and Carlotta, to Tony, the understudy that
was, the star that was to be; to Dick Carson that had been, John Massey
that was, foreign correspondent, and future famous author. There was a
particularly stirring toast to Sergeant Ted who would some day be
returning to his native shore at least a captain if not a major with all
kinds of adventures and honors to his credit. Everybody smiled gallantly
over this toast. Not one of them would let a shadow of grief or dread for
Teddy the beloved cloud this one happy home evening of his before he left
the Hill perhaps forever. The Holidays were like that.
And then Larry on his feet raised his hand for silence.
"Last and best of all," he said, "I give you--the Head of the House of
Holiday--the best friend and the finest man I know--Uncle Phil!"
Larry smiled down at his uncle as he spoke but there was deep
feeling in his fine gray eyes. Better than any one else he knew how
much of his present happiness he owed to that good friend and fine
man Philip Holiday.
The whole table rose to this toast except the doctor, even to the small
Eric and Hester who had no idea what it was all about but found it all
very exciting and delightful and beautifully grown up. As they drank
the toast Ted's free hand rested with affectionate pressure on his
uncle's and Tony on the other side set down her glass and squeezed his
hand instead. They too were trying to tell him that what Larry had
spoken in his own behalf was true for them also. They wanted to have
him know how much he meant to them and how much they wanted to do and
be for his dear sake.
Perhaps Philip Holiday won his order of distinguished service then and
there. At any rate with his own children and Ned's around him, with the
wife of his heart smiling down at him from across the table with proud,
happy, tear wet eyes, the Head of the House of Holiday was content.