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In The Bishop's Carriage by Miriam Michelson

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IN THE BISHOP'S CARRIAGE
By MIRIAM MICHELSON

I.

When the thing was at its hottest, I bolted. Tom, like the
darling he is--(Yes, you are, old fellow, you're as precious to
me as--as you are to the police--if they could only get their
hands on you)--well, Tom drew off the crowd, having passed the
old gentleman's watch to me, and I made for the women's rooms.

The station was crowded, as it always is in the afternoon, and in
a minute I was strolling into the big, square room, saying slowly
to myself to keep me steady:

"Nancy, you're a college girl--just in from Bryn Mawr to meet
your papa. Just see if your hat's on straight."

I did, going up to the big glass and looking beyond my excited
face to the room behind me. There sat the woman who can never
nurse her baby except where everybody can see her, in a railroad
station. There was the woman who's always hungry, nibbling
chocolates out of a box; and the woman fallen asleep, with her
hat on the side, and hairpins dropping out of her hair; and the
woman who's beside herself with fear that she'll miss her train;
and the woman who is taking notes about the other women's rigs.
And--

And I didn't like the look of that man with the cap who opened
the swinging door a bit and peeped in. The women's waiting-room
is no place for a man--nor for a girl who's got somebody else's
watch inside her waist. Luckily, my back was toward him, but just
as the door swung back he might have caught the reflection of my
face in a mirror hanging opposite to the big one.

I retreated, going to an inner room where the ladies were having
the maid brush their gowns, soiled from suburban travel and the
dirty station.

The deuce is in it the way women stare. I took off my hat and
jacket for a reason to stay there, and hung them up as leisurely
as I could.

"Nance," I said under my breath, to the alert-eyed, pug-nosed
girl in the mirror, who gave a quick glance about the room as I
bent to wash my hands, "women stare 'cause they're women.
There's no meaning in their look. If they were men, now,
you might twitter."

I smoothed my hair and reached out my hand to get my hat and
jacket when--when--

Oh, it was long; long enough to cover you from your chin to your
heels! It was a dark, warm red, and it had a high collar of
chinchilla that was fairly scrumptious. And just above it the hat
hung, a red-cloth toque caught up on the side with some of the
same fur.

The black maid misunderstood my involuntary gesture. I had all my
best duds on, and when a lot of women stare it makes the woman
they stare at peacock naturally, and--and--well, ask Tom what he
thinks of my style when I'm on parade. At any rate, it was the
maid's fault. She took down the coat and hat and held them for me
as though they were mine. What could I do, 'cept just slip into
the silk-lined beauty and set the toque on my head? The fool girl
that owned them was having another maid mend a tear in her skirt,
over in the corner; the little place was crowded. Anyway, I had
both the coat and hat on and was out into the big anteroom in a jiffy.

What nearly wrecked me was the cut of that coat. It positively
made me shiver with pleasure when I passed and saw myself in that
long mirror. My, but I was great! The hang of that coat, the
long, incurving sweep in the back, and the high fur collar up to
one's nose--even if it is a turned-up nose--oh!

I stayed and looked a second too long, for just as I was pulling
the flaring hat a bit over my face, the doors swung, as an old
lady came in, and there behind her was that same curious man's
face with the cap above it.

Trapped? Me? Not much! I didn't wait a minute, but threw the
doors open with a gesture that might have belonged to the Queen
of Spain. I almost ran into his arms. He gave an exclamation.
I looked him straight in the eyes, as I hooked the collar close to
my throat, and swept past him.

He weakened. That coat was too jolly much for him. It was for me,
too. As I ran down the stairs, its influence so worked on me that
I didn't know just which Vanderbilt I was.

I got out on the sidewalk all right, and was just about to take a
car when the turnstile swung round, and there was that same man
with the cap. His face was a funny mixture of doubt and
determination. But it meant the Correction for me.

"Nance Olden, it's over," I said to myself.

But it wasn't. For it was then that I caught sight of the
carriage. It was a fat, low, comfortable, elegant, sober
carriage, wide and well-kept, with rubber-tired wheels. And the
two heavy horses were fat and elegant and sober, too, and wide
and well-kept. I didn't know it was the Bishop's then--I didn't
care whose it was. It was empty, and it was mine. I'd rather go
to the Correction--being too young to get to the place you're
bound for, Tom Dorgan--in it than in the patrol wagon. At any
rate, it was all the chance I had.

I slipped in, closing the door sharply behind me. The man on the
box--he was wide and well-kept, too--was tired waiting, I suppose,
for he continued to doze gently, his high coachman's collar
up over his ears. I cursed that collar, which had prevented
his hearing the door close, for then he might have driven off.

But it was great inside: soft and warm, the cushions of dark
plum, the seat wide and roomy, a church paper, some notes for the
Bishop's next sermon and a copy of Quo Vadis. I just snuggled
down, trust me. I leaned far back and lay low. When I did peek
out the window, I saw the man with the brass buttons and the cap
turning to go inside again.

Victory! He had lost the scent. Who would look for Nancy Olden in
the Bishop's carriage?

Now, you know how early I got up yesterday to catch the train
so's Tom and I could come in with the people and be naturally
mingling with them? And you remember the dance the night before?
I hadn't had more than three hours' sleep, and the snug warmth of
that coach was just nuts to me, after the freezing ride into
town. I didn't dare get out for fear of some other man in a cap
and buttons somewhere on the lookout. I knew they couldn't be on
to my hiding-place or they'd have nabbed me before this. After a
bit I didn't want to get out, I was so warm and comfortable--and
elegant. O Tom, you should have seen your Nance in that coat and
in the Bishop's carriage!

First thing I knew, I was dreaming you and I were being married,
and you had brass buttons all over you, and I had the cloak all
right, but it was a wedding-dress, and the chinchilla was a wormy
sort of orange blossoms, and--and I waked when the handle of the
door turned and the Bishop got in.

Asleep? That's what! I'd actually been asleep.

And what did I do now?

That's easy--fell asleep again. There wasn't anything else to do.
Not really asleep this time, you know; just, just asleep enough
to be wide awake to any chance there was in it.

The horses had started, and the carriage was half-way across the
street before the Bishop noticed me.

He was a little Bishop, not big and fat and well-kept like the
rig, but short and lean, with a little white beard and the
softest eye--and the softest heart--and the softest head. Just
listen.

"Lord bless me!" he exclaimed, hurriedly putting on his
spectacles, and looking about bewildered.

I was slumbering sweetly in the corner, but I could see between
my lashes that he thought he'd jumped into somebody else's
carriage.

The sight of his book and his papers comforted him, though, and
before he could make a resolution, I let the jolting of the
carriage, as it crossed the car-track, throw me gently against
him.

"Daddy," I murmured sleepily, letting my head rest on his
little, prim shoulder.

That comforted him, too. Hush your laughing, Tom Dorgan; I mean
calling him "daddy" seemed to kind of take the cuss off the
situation.

"My child," he began very gently.

"Oh, daddy," I exclaimed, snuggling down close to him, "you
kept me waiting so long I went to sleep. I thought you'd never
come."

He put his arm about my shoulders in a fatherly way. You know,
I found out later the Bishop never had had a daughter. I guess he
thought he had one now. Such a simple, dear old soul! Just the
same, Tom Dorgan, if he had been my father, I'd never be doing
stunts with tipsy men's watches for you; nor if I'd had any
father. Now, don't get mad. Think of the Bishop with his gentle,
thin old arm about my shoulders, holding me for just a second as
though I was his daughter! My, think of it! And me, Nance Olden,
with that fat man's watch in my waist and some girl's beautiful
long coat and hat on, all covered with chinchilla!

"There's some mistake, my little girl," he said, shaking me
gently to wake me up, for I was going to sleep again, he feared.

"Oh, I knew you were kept at the office," I interrupted
quickly. I preferred to be farther from the station with that
girl's red coat before I got out. "We've missed our train,
anyway, haven't we? After this, daddy dear, let's not take this
route. If we'd go straight through on the one road, we wouldn't
have this drive across town every time. I was wondering, before
I fell asleep, what in the world I'd do in this big city if you
didn't come."

He forgot to withdraw his arm, so occupied was he by my
predicament.

"What would you do, my child, if you had--had missed your--your
father?"

Wasn't it clumsy of him? He wanted to break it to me gently, and
this was the best he could do.

"What would I do?" I gasped indignantly. "Why, daddy, imagine
me alone, and--and without money! Why--why, how can you--"

"There! there!" he said, patting me soothingly on the shoulder.

That baby of a Bishop! The very thought of Nancy Olden out alone
in the streets was too much for him.

He had put his free hand into his pocket and had just taken out a
bill and was trying to plan a way to offer it to me and reveal
the fact to poor, modest little Nance Olden that he was not her
own daddy, when an awful thing happened.

We had got up street as far as the opera-house, when we were
caught in the jam of carriages in front; the last afternoon opera
of the season was just over. I was so busy thinking what would be
my next move that I didn't notice much outside--and I didn't want
to move, Tom, not a bit. Playing the Bishop's daughter in a
trailing coat of red, trimmed with chinchilla, is just your
Nancy's graft. But the dear little Bishop gave a jump that almost
knocked the roof off the carriage, pulled his arm from behind me
and dropped the ten-dollar bill he held as though it burned him.
It fell in my lap. I jammed it into my coat pocket. Where is it
now? Just you wait, Tom Dorgan, and you'll find out.

I followed the Bishop's eyes. His face was scarlet now. Right
next to our carriage--mine and the Bishop's--there was another;
not quite so fat and heavy and big, but smart, I tell you, with
the silver harness jangling and the horses arching their backs
under their blue-cloth jackets monogrammed in leather. All the
same, I couldn't see anything to cause a loving father to let go
his onliest daughter in such a hurry, till the old lady inside
bent forward again and gave us another look.

Her face told it then. It was a big, smooth face, with
accordion-plaited chins. Her hair was white and her nose was
curved, and the pearls in her big ears brought out every ugly
spot on her face. Her lips were thin, and her neck, hung with
diamonds, looked like a bed with bolsters and pillows piled high,
and her eyes--oh, Tom, her eyes! They were little and very gray,
and they bored their way straight through the windows--hers and
ours--and hit the Bishop plumb in the face.

My, if I could only have laughed! The Bishop, the dear, prim
little Bishop in his own carriage, with his arm about a young
woman in red and chinchilla, offering her a bank-note, and Mrs.
Dowager Diamonds, her eyes popping out of her head at the sight,
and she one of the lady pillars of his church--oh, Tom! it took
all of this to make that poor innocent next to me realize how he
looked in her eyes.

But you see it was over in a minute. The carriage wheels were
unlocked, and the blue coupe went whirling away, and we in the
plum-cushioned carriage followed slowly.

I decided that I'd had enough. Now and here in the middle of all
these carriages was a bully good time and place for me to get
away. I turned to the Bishop. He was blushing like a boy.
I blushed, too. Yes, I did, Tom Dorgan, but it was because I was
bursting with laughter.

"Oh, dear!" I exclaimed in sudden dismay. "You're not my
father."

"No--no, my dear, I--I'm not," he stammered, his face purple
now with embarrassment. "I was just trying to tell you, you poor
little girl, of your mistake and planning a way to help you,
when--"

He made a gesture of despair toward the side where the coupe had
been.

I covered my face with my hands, and shrinking over into the
corner, I cried:

"Let me out! let me out! You're not my father. Oh, let me out!"

"Why, certainly, child. But I'm old enough, surely, to be, and I
wish--I wish I were."

"You do!"

The dignity and tenderness and courtesy in his voice sort of
sobered me. But all at once I remembered the face of Mrs. Dowager
Diamonds, and I understood.

"Oh, because of her," I said, smiling and pointing to the side
where the coupe had been.

My, but it was a rotten bad move! I ought to have been strapped
for it. Oh, Tom, Tom, it takes more'n a red coat with chinchilla
to make a black-hearted thing like me into the girl he thought I
was.

He stiffened and sat up like a prim little school-boy, his soft
eyes hurt like a dog's that's been wounded.

I won't tell you what I did then. No, I won't. And you won't
understand, but just that minute I cared more for what he thought
of me than whether I got to the Correction or anywhere else.

It made us friends in a minute, and when he stopped the carriage
to let me out, my hand was still in his. But I wouldn't go. I'd
made up my mind to see him out of his part of the scrape, and
first thing you know we were driving up toward the Square, if you
please, to Mrs. Dowager Diamonds' house.

He thought it was his scheme, the poor lamb, to put me in her
charge till my lost daddy could send for me. He'd no more idea
that I was steering him toward her, that he was doing the only
thing possible, the only square thing by his reputation, than he
had that Nance Olden had been raised by the Cruelty, and then
flung herself away on the first handsome Irish boy she met.

That'll do, Tom.

Girls, if you could have seen Mrs. Dowager Diamonds' face when
she came down the stairs, the Bishop's card in her hand, and into
the gorgeous parlor, it'd have been as good as a front seat at
the show.

She was mad, and she was curious, and she was amazed, and she was
disarmed; for the very nerve of his bringing me to her staggered
her so that she could hardly believe she'd seen what she had.

"My dear Mrs. Ramsay," he began, confused a bit by his
remembrance of how her face had looked fifteen minutes before,
"I bring to you an unfortunate child, who mistook my carriage
for her father's this afternoon at the station. She is a college
girl, a stranger in town, and till her father claims her--"

Oh, the baby! the baby! She was stiffening like a rod before his
very eyes. How did his words explain his having his arm round the
unfortunate child? His conscience was so clean that the dear
little man actually overlooked the fact that it wasn't my
presence in the carriage, but his conduct there that had excited
Mrs. Dowager Diamonds.

And didn't the story sound thin? I tell you, Tom, when it comes
to lying to a woman you've got to think up something stronger
than it takes to make a man believe in you--if you happen to be
female yourself.

I didn't wait for him to finish, but waltzed right in. I danced
straight up to that side of beef with the diamonds still on it,
and flinging my arms about her, turned a coy eye on the Bishop.

"You said your wife was out of town, daddy," I cried gaily.
"Have you got another wife besides mummy?"

The poor Bishop! Do you think he tumbled? Not a bit--not a bit.
He sat there gasping like a fish, and Mrs. Dowager Diamonds,
surprised by my sudden attack, stood bolt upright, about as
pleasant to hug as--as you are, Tom, when you're jealous.

The trouble with the Bishop's set is that it's deadly slow. Now,
if I had really been the Bishop's daughter--all right, I'll go
on.

"Oh, mummy," I went on quickly. You know how I said it,
Tom--the way I told you after that last row that Dan Christensen
wasn't near so good-looking as you--remember? "Oh, mummy, you
don't know how good it feels to get home. Out there at that awful
college, studying and studying and studying, sometimes I thought
I'd lose my senses. There's a girl out there now suffering from
nervous prostration. She worked so hard preparing for the
mid-years. What's her name? I can't think--I can't think, my
head's so tired. But it sounds like mine, a lot like mine.
Once--I think it was yesterday--I thought it was mine, and I made
up my mind suddenly to come right home and bring it with me. But
it can't be mine, can it? It can't be my name she's got. It can't
be, mummy, say it can't, say it can't!"

Tom, I ought to have gone on the stage. I'll go yet, when you're
sent up some day. Yes, I will. You'll be where you can't stop me.

I couldn't see the Bishop, but the Dowager--oh, I'd got her. Not
so bad an old body, either, if you only take her the right way.
First, she was suspicious, and then she was scared. And then, bit
by bit, the stiffness melted out of her, her arms came up about
me, and there I was, lying all comfy, with the diamonds on her
neck boring rosettes in my cheeks, and she a-sniffling over me
and patting me and telling me not to get excited, that it was all
right, and now I was home mummy would take care of me, she would,
that she would.

She did. She got me on to a lounge, soft as--as marshmallows, and
she piled one silk pillow after another behind my back.

"Come, dear, let me help you off with your coat," she cooed,
bending over me.

"Oh, mummy, it's so cold! Can't I please keep it on?"

To let that coat off me was to give the whole thing away. My rig
underneath, though good enough for your girl, Tom, on a holiday,
wasn't just what they wear in the Square. And, d'ye know, you'll
say it's silly, but I had a conviction that with that coat I
should say good-by to the nerve I'd had since I got into the
Bishop's carriage,--and from there into society. I let her take
the hat, though, and I could see by the way she handled it that
it was all right--the thing; her kind, you know. Oh, the girl I
got it from had good taste, all right.

I closed my eyes for a moment as I lay there and she stood
stroking my hair. She must have thought I'd fallen asleep, for
she turned to the Bishop, and holding out her hand, she said
softly:

"My dear, dear Bishop, you are the best-hearted, the saintliest
man on earth. Because you are so beautifully clean-souled
yourself, you must pardon me. I am ashamed to say it, but I shall
have no rest till I do. When I saw you in the carriage downtown,
with that poor, demented child, I thought, for just a moment--oh,
can you forgive me? It shows what an evil mind I have. But you,
who know so well what Edward is, what my life has been with him,
will see how much reason I have to be suspicious of all men!"

I shook, I laughed so hard. What a corker her Edward must be!
See, Tom, poor old Mrs. Dowager up in the Square having the same
devil's luck with her man as Molly Elliott down in the Alley has
with hers. I wonder if you're all alike. No, for there's the
Bishop. He had taken her hand sympathizingly, forgivingly, but
his silence made me curious. I knew he wouldn't let the old lady
believe for a moment I was luny, if once he could be sure himself
that I wasn't. You lie, Tom Dorgan, he wouldn't! Well--But the
poor baby, how could he expect to see through a game that had
caught the Dowager herself? Still, I could hear him walking
softly toward me, and I felt him looking keenly down at me long
before I opened my eyes.

When I did, you should have seen him jump. Guilty he felt.
I could see the blood rush up under his clear, thin old skin, soft
as a baby's, to find himself caught trying to spy out my secret.

I just looked, big-eyed, up at him. You know; the way Molly's
kid does, when he wakes. I looked a long, long time, as though I
was puzzled.

"Daddy," I said slowly, sitting up. "You--you are my daddy,
ain't you?"

"Yes--yes, of course." It was the Dowager who got between him
and me, hinting heavily at him with nods and frowns. But the dear
old fellow only got pinker in the effort to look a lie and not
say it. Still, he looked relieved. Evidently he thought I was
luny all right, but that I had lucid intervals. I heard him
whisper something like this to the Dowager just before the maid
came in with tea for me.

Yes, Tom Dorgan, tea for Nancy Olden off a silver salver, out of
a cup like a painted eggshell. My, but that almost floored me!
I was afraid I'd give myself dead away with all those little jars
and jugs. So I said I wasn't hungry, though, Lord knows, I hadn't
had anything to eat since early morning. But the Dowager sent the
maid away and took the tray herself, operating all the jugs and
pots for me, and then tried to feed me the tea. She was about as
handy as Molly's little sister is with the baby--but I allowed
myself to be coaxed, and drank it down.

Tea, Tom Dorgan. Ever taste tea? If you knew how to behave
yourself in polite society, I'd give you a card to my friend, the
Dowager, up in the Square.

How to get away! That was the thing that worried me. I'd just
made up my mind to have a lucid interval, when cr-creak, the
front door opened, and in walked--

Tom, you're mighty cute--so cute you'll land us both behind bars
some day--but you can't guess who came in on our little family
party. Yes--oh, yes, you've met him.

Well, the old duffer whose watch was ticking inside my waist
that very minute! Yes, sir, the same red-faced, big-necked fellow
we'd spied getting full at the little station in the country.
Only, he was a bit mellower than when you grabbed his chain.
Well, he was Edward.

I almost dropped the cup when I saw him. The Dowager took it
from me, saying:

"There, dear, don't be nervous. It's only--only--"

She got lost. It couldn't be my daddy--the Bishop was that. But
it was her husband, so who could it be?

"Evening, Bishop. Hello, Henrietta, back so soon from the
opera?" roared Edward, in a big, husky voice. He'd had more
since we saw him, but he walked straight as the Bishop himself,
and he's a dear little ramrod. "Ah!"--his eyes lit up at sight
of me--"ah, Miss--Miss--of course, I've met the young lady,
Henrietta, but hang me if I haven't forgotten her name."

"Miss--Miss Murieson," lied the old lady, glibly. "A--a
relative."

"Why, mummy!" I said reproachfully.

"There--there. It's only a joke. Isn't it a joke, Edward?" she
demanded, laughing uneasily.

"Joke?" he repeated with a hearty bellow of laughter. "Best
kind of a joke, I call it, to find so pretty a girl right in your
own house, eh, Bishop?"

"Why does he call my father `Bishop', mummy?"

I couldn't help it. The fun of hearing the Dowager lie and
knowing the Bishop beside himself with the pain of deception was
too much for me. I could see she didn't dare trust her Edward
with my sad story.

"Ho! ho! The Bishop--that's good. No, my dear Miss Murieson, if
this lady's your mother, why, I must be--at least, I ought to be,
your father. As such, I'm going to have all the privileges of a
parent--bless me, if I'm not."

I don't suppose he'd have done it if he'd been sober, but
there's no telling, when you remember the reputation the Dowager
had given him. But he'd got no further than to put his arm around
me when both the Bishop and the Dowager flew to the rescue. My,
but they were shocked! I couldn't help wondering what they'd have
done if Edward had happened to see the Bishop in the same sort of
tableau earlier in the afternoon.

But I got a lucid interval just then, and distracted their
attention. I stood for a moment, my head bent as though I was
thinking deeply.

"I think I'll go now," I said at length. "I--I don't
understand exactly how I got here," I went on, looking from the
Bishop to the Dowager and back again, "or how I happened to miss
my father. I'm ever--so much obliged to you, and if you will give
me my hat, I'll take the next train back to college."

"You'll do nothing of the sort," said the Dowager, promptly.
"My dear, you're a sweet girl that's been studying too hard. You
must go to my room and rest--"

"And stay for dinner. Don't you care. Sometimes I don't know
how I get here myself." Edward winked jovially.

Well, I did. While the Dowager's back was turned, I gave him the
littlest one, in return for his. It made him drunker than ever.

"I think," said the Bishop, grimly, with a significant glance
at the Dowager, as he turned just then and saw the old cock
ogling me, "the young lady is wiser than we. I'll take her to
the station--"

The station! Ugh! Not Nance Olden, with the red coat still on.

"Impossible, my dear Bishop," interrupted the Dowager. "She
can't be permitted to go back on the train alone."

"Why, Miss--Miss Murieson, I'll see you back all the way to the
college door. Not at all, not at all. Charmed. First, we'll have
dinner--or, first I'll telephone out there and tell 'em you're
with us, so that if there's any rule or anything of that sort--"

The telephone! This wretched Edward with half his wits gave me
more trouble than the Bishop and the Dowager put together. She
jumped at the idea, and left the room, only to come back again to
whisper to me:

"What name, my dear?"

"What name? what name?" I repeated blankly. What name, indeed.
I wonder how "Nance Olden" would have done.

"Don't hurry, dear, don't perplex yourself," she whispered
anxiously, noting my bewilderment. "There's plenty of time, and
it makes no difference--not a particle, really."

I put my hand to my head.

"I can't think--I can't think. There's one girl has nervous
prostration, and her name's got mixed with mine, and I can't--"

"Hush, hush! Never mind. You shall come and lie down in my
room. You'll stay with us to-night, anyway, and we'll have a
doctor in, Bishop."

"That's right," assented the Bishop. "I'll go get him
myself."

"You--you're not going!" I cried in dismay. It was real.
I hated to see him go.

"Nonsense--'phone." It was Edward who went himself to
telephone for the doctor, and I saw my time getting short.

But the Bishop had to go, anyway. He looked out at his horses
shivering in front of the house, and the sight hurried him.

"My child," he said, taking my hand, "just let Mrs. Ramsay
take care of you to-night. Don't bother about anything, but just
rest. I'll see you in the morning," he went on, noticing that I
kind of clung to him. Well, I did. "Can't you remember what I
said to you in the carriage--that I wished you were my daughter.
I wish you were, indeed I do, and that I could take you home with
me and keep you, child."

"Then--to-night--if--when you pray--will you pray for me as if
I was--your own daughter?"

Tom Dorgan, you think no prayers but a priest's are any good,
you bigoted, snickering Catholic! I tell you if some day I cut
loose from you and start in over again, it'll be the Bishop's
prayers that'll do it.

The Dowager and I passed Edward in the ball. He gave me a look
behind her back, and I gave him one to match it. Just practice,
you know, Tom. A girl can never know when she'll want to be
expert in these things.

She made me lie down on a couch while she turned the lamp low,
and then left me alone in a big palace of a bedroom filled with
things. And I wanted everything I saw. If I could, I'd have
lifted everything in sight.

But every minute brought that doctor nearer. Soon as I could be
really sure she was gone, I got up, and, hurrying to the long
French windows that opened on the great stone piazza, I
unfastened them quietly, and inch by inch I pushed them open.

There within ten feet of me stood Edward. No escape that way. He
saw me, and was tiptoeing heavily toward me, when I heard the
door click behind me, and in walked the Dowager back again.

I flew to her.

"I thought I heard some one out there," I said.

"It frightened me so that I got up to look. Nobody could be out
there, could they?"

She walked to the window and put her head out. Her lips
tightened grimly.

"No, nobody could be out there," she said, breathing hard,
"but you might get nervous just thinking there might be. We'll
go to a room upstairs."

And go we did, in spite of all I could plead about feeling well
enough now to go alone and all the rest of it. How was I to get
out of a second or third-story window?

I began to think about the Correction again as I followed her
upstairs, and after she'd left me I just sat waiting for the
doctor to come and send me there. I didn't much care, till I
remembered the Bishop. I could almost see his face as it would
look when he'd be called to testify against me, and I'd be
standing in that railed-in prisoner's pen, in the middle of the
court-room, where Dan Christensen stood when they tried him.

No, I couldn't bear that; not without a fight, anyway. It was
for the Bishop I'd got into this part of the scrape. I'd get out
of it so's he shouldn't know how bad a thing a girl can be.

While I lay thinking it over, the same maid that had brought me
the tea came in. She was an ugly, thin little thing. If she's a
sample of the maids in that house, the lot of them would take the
kink out of your pretty hair, Thomas J. Dorgan, Esquire, late of
the House of Refuge and soon of Moyamensing. Don't throw things.
People in my set, mine and the Dowager's, don't.

She had been sent to help me undress, she said, and make me
comfortable. The doctor lived just around the corner and would be
in in a minute.

Phew! She wasn't very promising, but she was my only chance.
I took her.

"I really don't need any help, thank you, Nora,'; I said,
chipper as a sparrow, and remembering the name the Dowager had
called her by. "Aunt Henrietta is too fussy, don't you think?
Oh, of course, you won't say a word against her. She told me the
other day that she'd never had a maid so sensible and
quick-witted, too, as her Nora. Do you know, I've a mind to play
a joke on the doctor when he comes. You'll help me, won't you?
Oh, I know you will!" Suddenly I remembered the Bishop's bill.
I took it out of my pocket. Yep, Tom, that's where it went. I had
to choose between giving that skinny maid the biggest tip she
ever got in her life--or Nance Olden to the Correction.

You needn't swear, Tom Dorgan. I fancy if I'd got there, you'd
got worse. No, you bully, you know I wouldn't tell; but the
police sort of know how to pair our kind.

In her cap and apron, I let the doctor in and myself out. And I
don't regret a thing up there in the Square except that lovely
red coat with the high collar and the hat with the fur on it. I'd
give--Tom, get me a coat like that and I'll marry you for life.

No, there's one thing I could do better if it was to be done
over again. I could make that dear little old Bishop wish harder
I'd been his daughter.

What am I mooning about? Oh--nothing. There's the
watch--Edward's watch. Take it.

II.

Yes, empty-handed, Tom Dorgan. And I can't honestly say I didn't
have the chance, but--if my hands are empty my head is full.

Listen.

There's a girl I know with short brown hair, a turned-up nose and
gray eyes, rather far apart. You know her, too? Well, she can't
help that.

But this girl--oh, she makes such a pretty boy! And the ladies at
the hotel over in Brooklyn, they just dote on her when she's not
only a boy but a bell-boy. Her name may be Nancy when she's in
petticoats, but in trousers she's Nathaniel--in short, Nat.

Now, Nat, in blue and buttons, with his nails kept better than
most boys', with his curly hair parted in the middle, and with a
gentle tang to his voice that makes him almost girlish--who would
suspect Nat of having a stolen pass-key in his pocket and a
pretty fair knowledge of the contents of almost every top
bureau-drawer in the hotel?

Not Mrs. Sarah Kingdon, a widow just arrived from Philadelphia,
and desperately gone on young Mr. George Moriway, also fresh from
Philadelphia, and desperately gone on Mrs. Kingdon's money.

The tips that lady gave the bad boy Nat! I knew I couldn't make
you believe it any other way; that's why I passed 'em on to you,
Tommy-boy.

The hotel woman, you know, girls, is a hotel woman because she
isn't fit to be anything else. She's lazy and selfish and little,
and she's shifted all her legitimate cares on to the proprietor's
shoulders. She actually--you can understand and share my
indignation, can't you, Tom, as you've shared other things?--she
even gives over her black tin box full of valuables to the hotel
clerk to put in the safe; the coward! But her vanity--ah, there's
where we get her, such speculators as you and myself. She's got
to outshine the woman who sits at the next table, and so she
borrows her diamonds from the clerk, wears 'em like the peacock
she is, and trembles till they're back in the safe again.

In the meantime she locks them up in the tin box which she puts
in her top bureau-drawer, hides the key, forgets where she hid
it, and--O Tom! after searching for it for hours and making
herself sick with anxiety, she ties up her head in a wet
handkerchief with vinegar on it and--rings the bell for the
bell-boy!

He comes.

As I said, he's a prompt, gentle little bell-boy, slight, looks
rather young for his job, but that very youth and innocence of
his make him such a fellow to trust!

"Nat," says Mrs. Kingdon, tearfully pressing half a dollar into
the nice lad's hand, "I--I've lost something and I want you
to--to help me find it."

"Yes'm," says Nat. He's the soul of politeness.

"It must be here--it must be in this room," says the lady,
getting wild with the terror of losing. "I'm
sure--positive--that I went straight to the shoe-bag and slipped
it in there. And now I can't find it, and I must have it before I
go out this afternoon for--for a very special reason. My daughter
Evelyn will be home to-morrow and--why don't you look for it?"

"What is it, ma'am?"

"I told you once. My key--a little flat key that locks--a box
I've got," she finishes distrustfully.

"Have you looked in the shoe-bag, ma'am?"

"Why, of course I have, you little stupid. I want you to hunt
other places where I can't easily get. There are other places I
might have put it, but I'm positive it was in the shoe-bag."

Well, I looked for that key. Where? Where not? I looked under the
rubbish in the waste-paper basket; Mrs. Kingdon often fooled
thieves by dropping it there. I pulled up the corner of the
carpet and looked there--it was loose; it had often been used for
a hiding-place. I looked in Miss Evelyn's boot and in her ribbon
box. I emptied Mrs. Kingdon's full powder box. I climbed ladders
and felt along cornices. I looked through the pockets of Mrs.
Kingdon's gowns--a clever bell-boy it takes to find a woman's
pocket, but even the real masculine ones among 'em are half
feminine; they've had so much to do with women.

I rummaged through her writing-desk, and, in searching a
gold-cornered pad, found a note from Moriway hidden under the
corner. I hid it again carefully--in my coat pocket. A
love-letter from Moriway, to a woman twenty years older than
himself--'tain't a bad lay, Tom Dorgan, but you needn't try it.

At first she watched every move I made, but later, as her
headache grew worse, she got desperate. So then I put my hand
down into the shoe-bag and found the key, where it had slipped
under a fold of cloth.

Do you suppose that woman was grateful? She snatched it from me.

"I knew it was there. I told you it was there. If you'd had any
sense you'd have looked there first. The boys in this hotel are
so stupid."

"That's all, ma'am?"

She nodded. She was fitting the key into the black box she'd
taken from the top drawer. Nat had got to the outside door when
he heard her come shrieking after him.

"Nat--Nat--come back! My diamonds--they're not here. I know I
put them back last night--I'm positive. I could swear to it.
I can see myself putting them in the chamois bag, and--O my God,
where can they be! This time they're gone!"

Nat could have told her--but what's the use? He felt she'd only
lose 'em again if she had 'em. So he let them lie snug in his
trousers pocket--where he had put the chamois bag, when his eyes
lit on it, under the corner of the carpet. He might have passed
it over to her then, but you see, Tom, she hadn't told him to
look for a bag; it was a key she wanted. Bell-boys are so stupid.

This time she followed his every step. He could not put his hand
on the smallest thing without rousing her suspicion. If he
hesitated, she scolded. If he hurried, she fumed. Most unjust, I
call it, because he had no thought of stealing--just then.

"Come," she said at last, "we'll go down and report it at the
desk."

"Hadn't I better wait here, ma'am, and look again?"

She looked sharply at him.

"No; you'd better do just as I tell you."

So down we went. And we met Mr. Moriway there. She'd telephoned
him. The chambermaid was called, the housekeeper, the electrical
engineer who'd been fixing bells that morning, and, as I said, a
bell-boy named Nat, who told how he'd just come on duty when Mrs.
Kingdon's bell rang, found her key and returned it to her, and
was out of the room when she unlocked the box. That was all he
knew.

"Is he telling the truth?" Moriway asked Mrs Kingdon.

"Ye--es, I guess he is; but where are the diamonds? We must have
them--you know--to-day, George," she whispered. And then she
turned and went upstairs, leaving Moriway to do the rest.

"There's only one thing to do, Major," he said to the
proprietor. "Search 'em all and then--"

"Search me? It's an outrage!" cried the housekeeper.

"Search me if ye loike," growled McCarthy, resentfully. "Oi
wasn't there but a minute; the lady herself can tell ye that."

Katie, the chambermaid, flushed painfully, and there were
indignant tears in her eyes, which, I'll tell you in confidence,
made a girl named Nancy uncomfortable.

But the boy Nat; knowing that bell-boys have no rights, said
nothing. But he thought. He thought, Tom Dorgan, a lot of things
and a long way ahead.

The peppery old Major marched us all off to his private office.

Not much, girls, it hadn't come. For suddenly the annunciator
rang out.

Out of the corner of his eye, Nat looked at the bell-boy's bench.
It was empty. There was to be a ball that night, and the bells
were going it over all the place.

"Number Twenty-one!" shouted the clerk at the desk.

But Number Twenty-one didn't budge. His heart was beating like a
hammer, and the ting--ng--ng of that bell calling him rang in his
head like a song.

"Number Twenty-one!" yelled the clerk.

Oh, he's got a devil of a temper, has that clerk. Some day, Tom,
when you love me very much, go up to the hotel and break his face
for me.

"You.--boy--confound you, can't you hear?" he shouted.

That time he caught the Major's ear--the one that wasn't deaf. He
looked from Powers' black face to the bench and then to me. And
all the time the bell kept ringing like mad.

"Git!" he said to the boy. "And come back in a hurry."

Number Twenty-one got--but leisurely. It wouldn't do for a
bell-boy to hurry, particularly when he had such good cause.

Oh, girls, those stone stairs, the servants' stairs at the St.
James! They're fierce. I tell you, Mag, scrubbing the floors at
the Cruelty ain't so bad. But this time I was jolly glad
bell-boys weren't allowed in the elevator. For there were those
diamonds in my pants pocket, and I must get rid of 'em before I
got down to the office again. So I climbed those stairs, and
every step I took my eye was searching for a hiding-place.
I could have pitched the little bag out of a window, but Nancy
Olden wasn't throwing diamonds to the birds, any more than Mag
here is likely to cut off the braids of red hair we used to play
horse with when we drove her about the Cruelty yard.

One flight.

No chance.

Another.

Everything bare as stone and soap could keep it.

The third flight--my knees began to tremble, and not with
climbing. The call came from this floor. But I ran up a fourth
just on the chance, and there in a corner was a fire hatchet
strapped to the wall. Behind that hatchet Mrs. Kingdon's diamonds
might lie snug till evening. I put the ends of my fingers first
in the little crack to make sure the little bag wouldn't drop to
the floor, and then dived into my pocket and--

And there behind me, stealthily coming up the last turn of the
stairs was Mr. George Moriway!

Don't you hate a soft-walking man, Mag? That cute fellow was
cuter than the old Major himself, and had followed me every inch
of the way.

"There's something loose with this hatchet, sir," I said,
innocently looking down at him.

"Oh, there is? What an observing little fellow you are! Never
mind the hatchet; just tell me what number you were sent to
answer."

"Number?" I repeated, as though I couldn't see why he wanted to
know. "Why--431."

"Not much, my boy--331."

"'Scuse me, sir, ain't you mistaken?"

He looked at me for full a minute. I stared him straight in the
eye. A nasty eye he's got--black and bloodshot and cold and full
of suspicion. But it wavered a bit at the end.

"I may be," he said slowly, "but not about the number. Just
you turn around and get down to 331."

"All right, sir. Thank you very much. It might have got me in
trouble. The ladies are so particular about having the bells
answered quick--"

`I guess you'll get in trouble all right," he said and stood
watching--from where he stood he could watch me every inch of the
way--till I got to 331, at the end of the hall, Mrs. Kingdon's
door.

And the goods still on me, Tom, mind that.

My, but Mrs. Kingdon was wrathy when she saw me!

"Why did they send you?" she cried. "Why did you keep me
waiting so long? I want a chambermaid. I've rung a dozen times.
The whole place is crazy about that old ball to-night, and no one
can get decent attention."

"Can't I do what you want, ma'am?" I just yearned to get inside
that door.

"No," she snapped. "I don't want a boy to fasten my dress in
the back--"

"We often do, ma'am," I said softly.

"You do? Well--"

"Yes'm." I breathed again.

"Well--it's indecent. Go down and send me a maid."

She was just closing the door in my face--and Moriway waiting for
me to watch me down again.

"Mrs. Kingdon--"

"Well, what do you want?"

"I want to tell you that when I get down to the office they'll
search me."

She looked at me amazed.

"And--and there's something in my pocket I--you wouldn't like
them to find."

"What in the world--my diamonds! You did take them, you little
wretch?"

She caught hold of my coat. But Lordy! I didn't want to get away
a little bit. I let her pull me in, and then I backed up against
the door and shut it.

`Diamonds! Oh, no, ma'am. I hope I'm not a thief. But--but it
was something you dropped--this."

I fished Moriway's letter out of my pocket and handed it to her.

The poor old lady! Being a bell-boy you know just how old ladies
really are. This one at evening, after her face had been massaged
for an hour, and the manicure girl and the hair-dresser had gone,
wasn't so bad. But to-day, with the marks of the morning's tears
on her agitated face, with the blood pounding up to her temples
where the hair was thin and gray--Tom Dorgan, if I'm a vain old
fool like that when I'm three times as old as I am, just tie a
stone around my neck and take me down and drop me into the
nearest water, won't you?

"You abominable little wretch!" she sobbed. "I suppose you've
told everybody in the office."

"How could I, ma'am?"

"How could you?" She looked up, the tears on her flabby,
flushed cheek.

"I didn't know myself. I can't read writing--"

It was thin, but she wanted to believe it.

She could have taken me in her arms, she was so happy.

"There! there!" she patted my shoulder and gave me a dollar
bill. "I was a bit hasty, Nat. It's only a--a little business
matter that Mr. Moriway's attending to for me. We--we'll finish
it up this afternoon. I shouldn't like Miss Kingdon to know of
it, because--because I--never like to worry her about business,
you know. So don't mention it when she comes to-morrow."

"No'm. Shall I fasten your dress?" I simply had to stay in that
room till I could get rid of those diamonds.

With a faded old blush--the nicest thing about her I'd ever
seen--she turned her back.

"It's dark to-day, ma'am," I coaxed. "Would you mind coming
nearer the window?"

No, she wouldn't mind. She backed up to the corner like a gentle
little lamb. While I hooked with one hand, I dropped the little
bag where the carpet was still turned up, and with the toe of my
shoe spread it flat again.

"You're real handy for a boy," she said, pleased.

"Thank you, ma'am," I answered, pleased myself.

Moriway was still watching me, of course, when I came out, but I
ran downstairs, he following close, and when the Major got hold
of me, I pulled my pockets inside out like a little man.

Moriway was there at the time. I knew he wasn't convinced. But he
couldn't watch a bell-boy all day long, and the moment I was sure
his eyes were off me I was ready to get those diamonds back
again.

But not a call came all that afternoon from the west side of the
house, except the call of those pretty, precious things snug
under the carpet calling, calling to me to come and get them and
drop bell-boying for good.

At last I couldn't stand it any longer. There's only one thing to
do when your chance won't come to you; that is, to go to it. At
about four o'clock I lit out, climbed to the second story and
there--Mag, I always was the luckiest girl at the Cruelty, wasn't
I? Well, there was suite 231 all torn up, plumbers and painters
in there, and nothing in the world to prevent a boy's skinning
through when no one was watching, out of the window and up the
fire-escape.

Just outside of Mrs. Kingdon's window I lay still a minute. I had
seen her and Moriway go out together--she all gay with finery, he
carrying her bag. The lace curtains in 331 were blowing in the
breeze. Cautiously I parted them and looked in. Everything was
lovely. From where I lay I reached down and turned back the flap
of the carpet. It was too easy. Those darling diamonds seemed
just to leap up into my hand. In a moment I had them tucked away
in my pants pocket. Then down the fire-escape and out through
231, where I told the painter I'd been to get a toy the boy in
441 had dropped out of the window.

But he paid no attention to me. No one did, though I felt those
diamonds shining like an X-ray through my very body. I got
downstairs and was actually outside the door, almost in the
street and off to you, when a girl called me.

"Here, boy, carry this case," she said.

Do you know who it was? Oh, yes, you do, a dear old friend of
mine from Philadelphia, a young lady whose taste--well, all
right, I'll tell you: it was the girl with the red coat, and the
hat with the chinchilla fur.

How did they look? Oh, fairly well on a blonde! But to my taste
the last girl I'd seen in the coat and hat was handsomer.

Well, I carried her suit-case and followed her back into the
hotel. I didn't want to a bit, though that coat still--wonder how
she got it back!

She sailed up the hall and into the elevator, and I had to
follow. We got of at the third story, and she brought me right to
the door of 331. And then I knew this must be Evelyn.

"Mrs. Kingdon's out, Miss. She didn't expect you till
to-morrow."

"Did she tell you that? Too bad she isn't at home! She said
she'd be kept busy all day to-day with a business matter, and
that I'd better not get here till to-morrow. But I--"

"Wanted to get here in time for the wedding?" I suggested softly.

You should have seen her jump.

"Wedding! Not--"

"Mrs. Kingdon and Mr. Moriway."

She turned white.

"Has that man followed her here? Quick, tell me. Has she
actually married him?"

"No--not yet. It's for five o'clock at the church on the
corner."

"How do you know?" She turned on me, suddenly suspicious.

"Well--I do know. And I'm the only person in the house that
does."

"I don't believe you."

She took out her key and opened the door, and I followed her in
with the suit-case. But before I could get it set down on the
floor, she had swooped on a letter that was lying in the middle
of the table, had torn it open, and then with a cry had come
whirling toward me.

"Where is this church? Come, help me to get to it before five
and I'll--oh, you shall have anything in the world you want!"

She flew out into the hall, I after her. And first thing you know
we were down in the street, around the corner, and there in front
of the church was a carriage with Moriway just helping Mrs.
Kingdon out.

"Mother!"

At that cry the old lady's knees seemed to crumble under her. Her
poor old painted face looked out ghastly and ashamed from her
wedding finery. But Evelyn in her red coat flew to her and took
her in her arms as though she was a child. And like a child, Mrs.
Kingdon sobbed and made excuses and begged to be forgiven.

I looked at Moriway. It was all the pay I wanted--particularly as
I had those little diamonds.

"You're just in time, Miss Kingdon," he said uneasily, "to
make your mother happy by your presence at her wedding."

"I'm just in time, Mr. Moriway, to see that my mother's not made
unhappy by your presence."

"Evelyn!" Mrs. Kingdon remonstrated.

"Come, Sarah." Moriway offered his arm.

The bride shook her head.

"To-morrow," she said feebly.

Moriway breathed a swear.

Miss Kingdon laughed.

"I've come to take care of you, you silly little mother, dear
. . . . It won't be to-morrow, Mr. Moriway."

"No--not to-morrow--next week," sighed Mrs. Kingdon.

"In fact, mother's changed her mind, Mr. Moriway. She thinks it
ungenerous to accept such a sacrifice from a man who might be her
son--don't you, mother?"

"Well, perhaps, George--" She looked up from her daughter's
shoulder--she was crying all over that precious red coat of
mine--and her eyes lit on me. "Oh--you wicked boy, you told a
lie!" she gasped. "You did read my letter."

I laughed; laughed out loud, it was such a bully thing to watch
Moriway's face.

But that was an unlucky laugh of mine; it turned his wrath on me.
He made a dive toward me. I ducked and ran. Oh, how I ran! But if
he hadn't slipped on the curb he'd have had me. As he fell,
though, he let out a yell.

"Stop thief! stop thief! Thief! Thief! Thief!"

May you never hear it, Mag, behind you when you've somebody
else's diamonds in your pocket. It sounds--it sounds the way the
bay of the hounds must sound to the hare. It seems to fly along
with the air; at the same time to be behind you, at your side,
even in front of you.

I heard it bellowed in a dozen different voices, and every now
and then I could hear Moriway as I pelted on--that brassy, cruel
bellow of his that made my heart sick.

And then all at once I heard a policeman's whistle.

That whistle was like a signal--I saw the gates of the Correction
open before me. I saw your Nance, Tom, in a neat striped dress,
and she was behind bars--bars--bars! There were bars everywhere
before me. In fact, I felt them against my very hands, for in my
mad race I had shot up a blind alley--a street that ended in a
garden behind an iron fence.

I grabbed the diamonds to throw them from me, but I couldn't--I
just couldn't! I jumped the fence where the gate was low, and
with that whistle flying shrill and shriller after me I ran to
the house.

I might have jumped from the frying-pan? Of course, I might. But
it was all fire to me. To be caught at the end is at least no
worse than to be caught at the beginning. Anyhow, it was my one
chance, and I took it as unhesitatingly as a rat takes a leap
into a trap to escape a terrier. Only--only, it was my luck that
the trap wasn't set! The room was empty. I pushed open a glass
door, and fell over an open trunk that stood beside it.

It bruised my knee and tore my hand, but oh!--it was nuts to me.
For it was a woman's trunk filled with women's things.

A skirt! A blessed skirt! And not a striped one. I threw off the
bell-boy's jacket and I got into that dear dress so quick it made
my head swim.

The jacket was a bit tight but I didn't button it, and I'd just
got a stiff little hat perched on my head when I heard the tramp
of men on the sidewalk, and in the dusk saw the cop's buttons at
the gate.

Caught? Not much. Not yet. I threw open the glass doors and
walked out into the garden.

"Miss--Omar--I wonder if it would be Miss Omar?"

You bet I didn't take time to see who it was talking before I
answered. Of course I was Miss Omar. I was Miss Anybody that had
a right to wear skirts and be inside those blessed gates.

"Ah--h! I fancied you might be. I've been expecting you."

It was a lazy, low voice with a laugh in it, and it came from a
wheeled chair, where a young man lay. Sallow he was and slim and
long, and helpless--you could see that by his white hanging
hands. But his voice--it was what a woman's voice would be if she
were a man. It made you perk up and pretend to be somewhere near
its level. It fitted his soft, black clothes and his fine, clean
face. It meant silks and velvets and--

Oh, all right, Tommy Dorgan, if you're going to get jealous of a
voice!

"Excuse me, Mr. Latimer." The cop came in as he spoke, Moriway
following; the rest of the hounds hung about. "There's a
thieving bell-boy from the hotel that's somewhere in your
grounds. Can I come in and get him?"

"In here, Sergeant? Aren't you mistaken?"

"No; Mr. Moriway here saw him jump the gate not five minutes
since."

"Strange, and I here all the time! I may have dozed of, though.
Certainly--certainly. Look for the little rascal. What's he
stolen? Diamonds! Tut! tut! Enterprising, isn't he? . . . Miss
Omar, won't you kindly reach the bell yonder--no, on the table;
that's it--and ring for some one to take the officer about?"

I rang.

Do you know what happened? An electric light strung on the tree
above the table shone out, and there I stood under it with
Moriway's eyes full upon me.

"Great--!" he began.

"Just ring again--" Mr. Latimer's voice came soft as silk.

My fingers trembled so, the bell clattered out of them and fell
jangling to the ground. But it rang. And the light above me went
out like magic. I fell back into a garden chair.

"I beg your pardon, Mr.--was Moriway the name?--I must have
interrupted you, but my eyes are troubling me this evening, and I
can't bear the light. Miss Omar, I thought the housekeeper had
instructed you: one ring means lights, two mean I want Burnett.
Here he comes. . . Burnett, take Sergeant Mulhill through the
place. He's looking for a thief. You will accompany the Sergeant,
Mr.--Moriway?"

"Thank you--no. If you don't mind, I'll wait out here."

That meant me. I moved toward the gate.

"Not at all. Have a seat. Miss Omar, sit down, won't you?" I
sat down.

"Miss Omar reads to me, Mr. Moriway. I'm an invalid, as you see,
dependent on the good offices of my man. I find a woman's voice a
soothing change."

"It must be. Particularly if the voice is pleasing. Miss Omar--I
didn't quite catch the name--"

He waited. But Miss Omar had nothing to say that minute.

"Yes, that's the name. You've got it all right," said Latimer.
"An uncommon name, isn't it?"

"I don't think I ever heard it before. Do you know, Miss Omar,
as I heard your voice just before we got to the gate, it sounded
singularly boyish to me."

"Mr. Latimer does not find it so--do you?" I said as sweet--as
sweet as I could coax. How sweet's that, Tom Dorgan?

"Not at all." A little laugh came from Latimer as though he was
enjoying a joke all by himself. But Moriway jumped with
satisfaction. He knew the voice all right.

"Have you a brother, may I ask?" He leaned over and looked
keenly at me.

"I am an orphan," I said sadly, "with no relatives."

"A pitiful position," sneered Moriway. "You look so much like
a boy I know that--"

"Do you really think so?" So awfully polite was Latimer to such
a rat as Moriway. Why? Well, wait. "I can't agree with you. Do
you know, I find Miss Omar very feminine. Of course, short
hair--"

"Her hair is short, then!"

"Typhoid," I murmured.

"Too bad!" Moriway sneered.

"Yes," I snapped. "I thought it was at the time. My hair was
very heavy and long, and I had a chance to sit in a window at
Troyon's where they were advertising a hair tonic and--"

Rotten? Of course it was. I'd no business to gabble, and just
because you and your new job, Mag, came to my mind at that
minute, there I went putting my foot in it.

Moriway laughed. I didn't like the sound of his laugh.

"Your reader is versatile, Mr. Latimer," he said.

"Yes." Latimer smoothed the soft silk rug that lay over him.
"Poverty and that sort of versatility are often bedfellows, eh?
. . . Tell me, Mr. Moriway, these lost diamonds are yours?"

"No. They belong to a--a friend of mine, Mrs. Kingdon."

"Oh! the old lady who was married this afternoon to a young
fortune-hunter!" I couldn't resist it.

Moriway jumped out of his seat.

"She was not married," he stuttered. "She--"

"Changed her mind? How sensible of her! Did she find out what a
crook the fellow was? What was his name--Morrison?
No--Middleway--I have heard it."

"May I ask, Miss Omar"--I didn't have to see his face; his
voice told how mad with rage he was--"how you come to be
acquainted with a matter that only the contracting parties could
possibly know of?"

"Why, they can't have kept it very secret, the old lady and the
young rascal who was after her money, for you see we both knew of
it; and I wasn't the bride and you certainly weren't the groom,
were you?"

An exclamation burst from him.

"Mr. Latimer," he stormed, "may I see you a moment alone?"

Phew! That meant me. But I got up just the same.

"Just keep your seat, Miss Omar." Oh, that silken voice of
Latimer's! "Mr. Moriway, I have absolutely no acquaintance with
you. I never saw you till to-night. I can't imagine what you may
have to say to me, that my secretary--Miss Omar acts in that
capacity--may not hear."

"I want to say," burst from Moriway, "that she looks the image
of the boy Nat, who stole Mrs. Kingdon's diamonds, that the voice
is exactly the same, that--"

"But you have said it, Mr. Moriway--quite successfully intimated
it, I assure you."

"She knows of my--of Mrs. Kingdon's marriage, that that boy Nat
found out about."

"And you yourself also, as Miss Omar mentioned."

"Myself? Damn it, I'm Moriway, the man she was going to marry.
Why shouldn't I--"

"Ah--h!" Latimer's shoulders shook with a gentle laugh. "Well,
Mr. Moriway, gentlemen don't swear in my garden. Particularly
when ladies are present. Shall we say good evening? Here comes
Mulhill now. . . . Nothing, Sergeant? Too bad the rogue escaped,
but you'll catch him. They may get away from you, but they never
stay long, do they? Good evening--good evening, Mr. Moriway."

They tramped on and out, Moriway's very back showing his rage. He
whispered something to the Sergeant, who turned to look at me but
shook his head, and the gate clanged after them.

A long sigh escaped me.

"Warm, isn't it?" Latimer leaned forward. "Now, would you mind
ringing again, Miss Omar?"

I bent and groped for the bell and rang it twice.

"How quick you are to learn!" he said. "But I really wanted
the light this time. . . . Just light up, Burnett," he called to
the man, who had come out on the porch.

The electric bulb flashed out again just over my head. Latimer
turned and looked at me. When I couldn't bear it any longer, I
looked defiantly up at him.

"Pardon," he said, smiling; nice teeth he has and clear eyes.
"I was just looking for that boyish resemblance Mr. Moriway
spoke of. I hold to my first opinion--you're very feminine, Miss
Omar. Will you read to me now, if you please?" He pointed to a
big open book on the table beside his couch.

"I think--if you don't mind, Mr. Latimer, I'll begin the reading
to-morrow." I got up to go. I was through with that garden now.

"But I do mind!"

Silken voice? Not a bit of it! I turned on him so furious I
thought I didn't care what came of it--when over by the great
gate-post I saw a man crouching--Moriway.

I sat down again and pulled the book farther toward the light.

We didn't learn much poetry at the Cruelty, did we, Mag? But I
know some now, just the same. When I began to read I heard only
one word--Moriway--Moriway--Moriway. But I must have--forgotten
him after a time, and the dark garden with the light on only one
spot, and the roses smelling, and Latimer lying perfectly still,
his face turned toward me, for I was reading--listen, I bet I can
remember that part of it if I say it slow--

Oh, Thou, who Man of baser Earth didst make,
And ev'n with Paradise devise the Snake:
For all the sin wherewith the Face of Man
Is blacken'd--Man's forgiveness give--and take!

--when all at once Mr. Latimer put his hand on the book. I looked
up with a start. The shadow by the gate was gone.

Yon rising Moon that looks for us again---
How oft hereafter will she wax and wane;
How oft hereafter rising look for us
Through this same Garden--and for ONE in vain!

Latimer was saying it without the book and with a queer smile
that made me feel I hadn't quite caught on.

"Thank you, that will do," he went on. "That is enough,
Miss--" He stopped.

I waited.

He did not say "Omar."

I looked him square in the eye--and then I had enough.

"But what in the devil did you make believe for?" I asked.

He smiled.

"If ever you come to lie on your back day and night, year in and
year out, and know that never in your life will it be any
different, you may take pleasure in a bit of excitement and--and
learn to pity the under dog, who, in this case, happened to be a
boy that leaped over the gate as though his heart was in his
mouth. Just as you would admire the nerve of the young lady that
came out of the house a few minutes after in your housekeeper's
Sunday gown."

Yes, grin, Torn Dorgan. You won't grin long.

I put down the book and got up to go.

"Good night, then, and thank you, Mr. Latimer."

"Good night. . . . Oh, Miss--" He didn't say "Omar"--"there
is a favor you might do me."

"Sure!" I wondered what it could be.

"Those diamonds. I've got to have them, you know, to send them
back to their owner. I don't mind helping a--a person who helps
himself to other people's things, but I can't let him get away
with his plunder without being that kind of person myself. So--"

Why didn't I lie? Because there are some people you don't lie to,
Tom Dorgan. Don't talk to me, you bully, I'm savage enough. To
have rings and pins and ear-rings, a whole bagful of diamonds,
and to haul 'em out of your pocket and lay 'em on the table there
before him!

"I wonder," he said slowly, as he put them away in his own
pocket, "what a man like me could do for a girl like you?"

"Reform her!" I snarled. "Show her how to get diamonds honestly."

Say, Tom, let's go in for bigger game.

III.

Oh, Mag, Mag, for heaven's sake, let me talk to you! No, don't
say anything. You must let me tell you. No--don't call the other
girls. I can't bear to tell this to anybody but you.

You know how I kicked when Tom hit on Latimer's as the place we
were to scuttle. And the harder I kicked the stubborner he got,
till he swore he'd do the job without me if I wouldn't come
along. Well--this is the rest of it.

The house, you know, stands at the end of the street. If you
could walk through the garden with the iron fence you'd come
right down the bluff on to the docks and out into East River. Tom
and I came up to it from the docks last night. It was dark and
wet, you remember. The mud was thick on my trousers--Nance
Olden's a boy every time when it comes to doing business.

"We'll blow it all in, Tom," I said, as we climbed. "We'll
spend a week at the Waldorf, and then, Tom Dorgan, we'll go to
Paris. I want a red coat and hat with chinchilla, like that dear
one I lost, and a low-neck satin gown, and a silk petticoat with
lace, and a chain with rhinestones, and--"

"Just wait, Sis, till you get out of this. And keep still."

"I can't. I'm so fidgety I must talk or I'll shriek."

"Well, you'll shut up just the same. Do you hear me?"

I shut up, but my teeth chattered so that Tom stopped at the
gate.

"Look here, Nance, are you going to flunk? Say it now--yes or
no."

That made me mad.

"Tom Dorgan," I said, "I'll bet your own teeth chattered the
first time you went in for a thing like this. I'm all right.
You'll squeal before I do."

"That's more like. Here's the gate. It's locked. Come, Nance."

With a good, strong swing he boosted me over, handed me the bag
of tools and sprang over himself. . . . He looked kind o'
handsome and fine, my Tom, as he lit square and light on his feet
beside me. And because he did, I put my arm in his and gave it a
squeeze.

Oh, Mag, it was so funny, going through Latimer's garden! There
was the garden table where I had sat reading and thinking he took
me for Miss Omar. There was the bench where that beast Moriway
sat sneering at me. The wheeled chair was gone. And it was so
late everything looked asleep. But something was left behind that
made me think I heard Latimer's slow, silken voice, and made me
feel cheap--turned inside out like an empty pocket--a dirty,
ragged pocket with a seam in it.

"You'll stay here, Nancy, and watch," Tom whispered. "You'll
whistle once if a cop comes inside the gate, but not before he's
inside the gate. Don't whistle too soon--mind that--nor too loud.
I'll hear ye all right. And I'll whistle just once if--anything
happens. Then you run--hear me? Run like the devil--"

"Tommy--"

"Well, what?"

"Nothing--all right." I wanted to say good-by--but you know
Tom.

Mag, were you ever where you oughtn't to be at midnight--alone?
No, I know you weren't. 'Twas your ugly little face and your hair
that saved you--the red hair we used to guy so at the Cruelty.
I can see you now--a freckle-faced, thin little devil, with the
tangled hair to the very edge of your ragged skirt, yanked in
that first day to the Cruelty when the neighbors complained your
crying wouldn't let 'em sleep nights. The old woman had just
locked you in there, hadn't she, to starve when she lit out.
Mothers are queer, ain't they, when they are queer. I never
remember mine.

Yes, I'll go on.

I stood it all right for a time, out there alone in the night.
But I never was one to wait patiently. I can't wait--it isn't in
me. But there I had to stand and just--God!--just wait.

If I hadn't waited so hard at the very first I wouldn't 'a' given
out so soon. But I stood so still and listened so terribly hard
that the trees began to whisper and the bushes to crack and
creep. I heard things in my head and ears that weren't sounding
anywhere else. And all of a sudden--tramp, tramp, tramp--I heard
the cop's footsteps.

He stopped over there by the swinging electric light above the
gate. I crouched down behind the iron bench.

And my coat caught a twig on a bush and its crack--ck was like a
yell.

I thought I'd die. I thought I'd scream. I thought I'd run.
I thought I'd faint. But I didn't--for there, asleep on a rug that
some one had forgotten to take in, was the house cat. I gave her
a quick slap, and she flew out and across the path like a flash.

The cop watched her, his hand on the gate, and passed on.

Mag Monahan, if Tom had come out that minute without a bean and
gone home with me, I'd been so relieved I'd never have tried
again. But he didn't come. Nothing happened. Nights and nights
and nights went by, and the stillness began to sound again. My
throat went choking mad. I began to shiver, and I reached for the
rug the cat had lain on.

Funny, how some things strike you! This was Latimer's rug. I had
noticed it that evening--a warm, soft, mottled green that looked
like silk and fur mixed. I could see the way his long, white
hands looked on it, and as I touched it I could hear his voice--

Oh, Thou, who Man of baser Earth didst make,
And ev'n with Paradise devise the Snake:
For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man
Is blacken'd--Man's forgiveness give--and take!

Ever hear a man like that say a thing like that? No? Well,
it's--it's different. It's as if the river had spoken--or a
tree--it's so--it's so different.

That saved me--that verse that I remembered. I said it over and
over and over again to myself. I fitted it to the ferry whistles
on the bay--to the cop's steps as they passed again--to the roar
of the L-train and the jangling of the surface cars.

And right in the middle of it--every drop of blood in my body
seemed to leak out of me, and then come rushing back to my
head--I heard Tom's whistle.

Oh, it's easy to say "run," and I really meant it when I
promised Tom. But you see I hadn't heard that whistle then. When
it came, it changed everything. It set the devil in me loose.
I felt as if the world was tearing something of mine away from me.
Stand for it? Not Nance Olden.

I did run--but it was toward the house. That whistle may have
meant "Go!" To me it yelled "Come!"

I got in through the window Tom had left open. The place was
still quiet. Nobody inside had heard that whistle so far as I
could tell.

I crept along--the carpets were thick and soft and silky as the
rug I'd had my hands buried in to keep 'em warm.

Along a long hall and through a great room, whose walls were
thick with books, I was making for a light I could see at the
back of the house. That's where Tom Dorgan must be and where I
must be to find out--to know.

With my hands out in front of me I hurried, but softly, and just
as I had reached the portieres below which the light streamed, my
arms closed about a thing--cold as marble, naked--I thought it
was a dead body upright there, and with a cry, I pitched forward
through the curtains into the lighted room.

"Nance!--you devil!"

You recognize it? Yep, it was Tom. Big Tom Dorgan, at the foot of
Latimer's bed, his hands above his head, and Latimer's gun aimed
right at his heart.

Think of the pluck of that cripple, will you?

His eyes turned on me for just a second, and then fixed
themselves again on Tom. But his voice went straight at me, all
right.

"You are something of a thankless devil, I must admit,
Miss--Omar," he said.

I didn't say anything. You don't say things in answer to things
like that. You feel 'em.

Ashamed? What do I care for a man with a voice like that! . . .
But you should have heard how Tom's growl sounded after it.

"Why the hell didn't you light out?"

"I couldn't, Tom. I just--couldn't," I sobbed.

"There seems invariably to be a misunderstanding of signals
where Miss Omar is concerned. Also a disposition to use strong
language in the lady's presence. Don't you, young man!"

"Don't you call me Miss Omar!" I blazed, stamping my foot.

He laughed a contemptuous laugh.

I could have killed him then, I hated him so. At least, I thought
I could; but just then Tom sent a spark out of the corner of his
eye to me that meant--it meant--

You know, Mag, what it would have meant to Latimer if I had done
what Tom's eye said.

I thought at first I had done it--it passed through my mind so
quick; the sweet words I'd say--the move I'd make--the quick
knocking-up of the pistol, and then--

It was that--that sight of Tom, big Tom Dorgan, with rage in his
heart and death in his hand, leaping on that cripple's body--it
made me sick!

I stood there gasping--stood a moment too long. For the curtains
were pushed aside, and Burnett, Latimer's servant, and the cop
came in.

Tom didn't fight; he's no fool to waste himself.

But I--well, never mind about me. I caught a glimpse of a crazy
white face on a boy's body in the great glass opposite and heard
my own voice break into something I'd never heard before.

Tom stood at last with the handcuffs on.

"It's your own fault, you damned little chump!" he said to me,
as they went out.

You lie, Mag Monahan, he's no such thing! He may be a hard man to
live with, but he's mine--my Tom--my Tom!

What? Latimer?

Well, do you know, it's funny about him. He'd told the cop that
I'd peached--peached on Tom! So they went off without me.

Why?

That's what he said himself when we were alone.

"In order to insure for myself another of your most interesting
visits, I suppose, Miss--not Omar? All right. . . . Tell me, can
I do nothing for you? Aren't you sick of this sort of life?"

"Get Tom out of jail."

He shook his head.

"I'm too good a friend of yours to do you such a turn."

"I don't want any friend that isn't Tom's."

He threw the pistol from him and pulled himself up, till he sat
looking at me.

"In heaven's name, what can you see in a fellow like that?"

"What's that to you?" I turned to go.

"To me? Things of that sort are nothing, of course, to me--me,
that `luckless Pot He marr'd in making.' But, tell me--can a girl
like you tell the truth? What made you hesitate when that fellow
told you with his eyes to murder me?"

"How did you know?"

"How? The glass. See over yonder. I could watch every expression
on both your faces. What was it--what was it, child, that made
you--oh, if you owe me a single heart-beat of gratitude, tell me
the truth!"

"You've said it yourself."

"What?"

"That line we read the other night about `the luckless Pot'."

His face went gray and he fell back on his pillows. The strenuous
life we'd been leading him, Tom and I, was too much for him, I
guess.

Do you know, I really felt sorry I'd said it. But he is a
cripple. Did he expect me to say he was big and strong and
dashing--like Tom?

I left him there and got out and away. But do you know what I
saw, Mag, beside his bed, just as Burnett came to put me out?

My old blue coat with the buttons--the bell-boy's coat I'd left
in the housekeeper's room when I borrowed her Sunday rig. The
coat was hanging over a chair, and right by it, on a table, was
that big book with a picture covering every page, still open at
that verse about

Through this same Garden--and for ONE in vain!

IV.

No--no--no! No more whining from Nance Olden. Listen to what I've
got to tell you, Mag, listen!

You know where I was coming from yesterday when I passed Troyon's
window and grinned up at you, sitting there, framed in bottles of
hair tonic, with all that red wig of yours streaming about you?

Yep, from that little, rat-eyed lawyer's office. I was glum as
mud. I felt as though Tom and myself were both flies caught by
the leg--he by the law and I by the lawyer--in a sticky mess; and
the more we flapped our wings and struggled and pulled, the more
we hurt and tore ourselves, and the sooner we'd have to give it
up.

Oh, that wizen-faced little lawyer that lives on the Tom Dorgans
and the Nance Oldens, who don't know which way to turn to get the
money! He looks at me out of his red little eyes and measures in
dollars what I'd do for Tom. And then he sets his price a notch
higher than that.

When I passed the big department store, next to Troyon's, I was
thinking of this, and I turned in there, just aching for some of
the boodle that flaunts itself in a poor girl's face when she's
desperate, from every silk and satin rag, from every lace and
jewel in the place.

The funny part of it is that I didn't want it for myself, but for
Tom. 'Pon my soul, Mag, though I would have filled my arms with
everything I saw, I wouldn't have put on one thing of all the
duds; just hiked off to soak 'em and pay the lawyer. I might have
been as old and ugly and rich as the yellow-skinned woman
opposite me, who was turning over laces on the middle counter,
for all these things meant to me--with Tom in jail.

I was thinking this as I looked at her, when all at once I saw--

You know it takes a pretty quick touch, sharp eyes and good nerve
to get away with the goods in a big shop like that. Or it takes
something altogether different. It was the different way she did
it. She took up the piece of lace--it was a big collar, fine like
a cobweb picture in threads,--you can guess what it must have
been worth if that old sinner, Mother Douty, gave me fifteen
dollars for it. She took it up in a quick, eager way, as though
she'd found just what she wanted. Then she took out a lace sample
from her gold-linked purse and held them both up close to her
blinky little eyes, looking at it through a gold lorgnette with
emeralds in the handle; pulling it and feeling it with the air of
one who knows a fine thing when she sees it, and just what makes
it fine. Then she rustled off to the door to examine it closely
in the light, and--Mag Monahan, she walked right out with it!

At least, she'd got beyond the inner doors when I tapped her on
the shoulder.

"I beg pardon, madam." My best style, Mag.

She pulled herself up haughtily and blinked at me. She was a
little, thin mummy of a woman, just wrapped away in silks and
velvets, but on the inside of that nervous, little old body of
hers there must have been some spring of good material that
wasn't all unwound yet.

She stood blinking at me without a word.

"That lace. You haven't paid for it," I said.

Her short-sighted eyes fell from my face to the collar she held
in her hand. Her yellow face grew ghastly.

"Oh, mercy! You--you don't--"

"I am a detective for the store, and--"

"But--"

"Sh! We don't like any noise made about these things, and you
yourself wouldn't enjoy--"

"Do you know who I am, young woman?" She fumbled in her satchel
and passed a card to me.

Glory be! Guess, Mag. Oh, you'd never guess, you dear old Mag!
Besides, you haven't got the acquaintance in high society that
Nance Olden can boast.

| ------------------------------- |
Mrs. MILLS D. VAN WAGENEN
| ------------------------------- |

Oh--Mag! Shame on you not to know the name even of the Bishop of
the great state of--yes, the lean, short little Bishop with a
little white beard, and the softest eye and the softest heart and--
my very own Bishop, Nancy Olden's Bishop. And this was his wife.

Tut--tut, Mag! Of course not. A bishop's wife may be a kleptomaniac;

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