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  • 1881
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is a prejudice against women physicians, and I couldn’t especially blame him for sharing it. I have thought it all over. If he refuses, I shall know what to do.” She had ceased to address Libby, who respected her soliloquy. He drove on rapidly over the soft road, where the wheels made no sound, and the track wandered with apparent aimlessness through the interminable woods of young oak and pine. The low trees were full of the sunshine, and dappled them with shadow as they dashed along; the fresh, green ferns springing from the brown carpet of the pineneedles were as if painted against it. The breath of the pines was heavier for the recent rain; and the woody smell of the oaks was pungent where the balsam failed. They met no one, but the solitude did not make itself felt through her preoccupation. From time to time she dropped a word or two; but for the most she was silent, and he did not attempt to lead. By and by they came to an opener place, where there were many red fieldlilies tilting in the wind.

“Would you like some of those?” he asked, pulling up.

“I should, very much,” she answered, glad of the sight of the gay things. But when he had gathered her a bunch of the flowers she looked down at them in her lap, and said, “It’s silly in me to be caring for lilies at such a time, and I should make an unfavorable impression on Dr. Mulbridge if he saw me with them. But I shall risk their effect on him. He may think I have been botanizing.”

“Unless you tell him you have n’t,” the young man suggested.

“I need n’t do that.”

“I don’t think any one else would do it.”

She colored a little at the tribute to her candor, and it pleased her, though it had just pleased her as much to forget that she was not like any other young girl who might be simply and irresponsibly happy in flowers gathered for her by a young man. “I won’t tell him, either!” she cried, willing to grasp the fleeting emotion again; but it was gone, and only a little residue of sad consciousness remained.

The woods gave way on either side of the road, which began to be a village street, sloping and shelving down toward the curve of a quiet bay. The neat weather-gray dwellings, shingled to the ground and brightened with door-yard flowers and creepers, straggled off into the boat-houses and fishing-huts on the shore, and the village seemed to get afloat at last in the sloops and schooners riding in the harbor, whose smooth plane rose higher to the eye than the town itself. The salt and the sand were everywhere, but though there had been no positive prosperity in Corbitant for a generation, the place had an impregnable neatness, which defied decay; if there had been a dog in the street, there would not have been a stick to throw at him.

One of the better, but not the best, of the village houses, which did not differ from the others in any essential particular, and which stood flush upon the street, bore a door-plate with the name Dr. Rufus Mulbridge, and Libby drew up in front of it without having had to alarm the village with inquiries. Grace forbade his help in dismounting, and ran to the door, where she rang one of those bells which sharply respond at the back of the panel to the turn of a crank in front; she observed, in a difference of paint, that this modern improvement had displaced an oldfashioned knocker. The door was opened by a tall and strikingly handsome old woman, whose black eyes still kept their keen light under her white hair, and whose dress showed none of the incongruity which was offensive in the door-bell: it was in the perfection of an antiquated taste, which, however, came just short of characterizing it with gentlewomanliness.

“Is Dr. Mulbridge at home?” asked Grace.

“Yes,” said the other, with a certain hesitation, and holding the door ajar.

“I should like to see him,” said Grace, mounting to the threshold.

“Is it important?” asked the elder woman.

“Quite,” replied Grace, with an accent at once of surprise and decision.

“You may come in,” said the other reluctantly, and she opened a door into a room at the side of the hall.

“You may give Dr. Mulbridge my card, if you please,” said Grace, before she turned to go into this room; and the other took it, and left her to find a chair for herself. It was a country doctor’s office, with the usual country doctor’s supply of drugs on a shelf, but very much more than the country doctor’s usual library: the standard works were there, and there were also the principal periodicals and the latest treatises of note in the medical world. In a long, upright case, like that of an old hall-clock, was the anatomy of one who had long done with time; a laryngoscope and some other professional apparatus of constant utility lay upon the leaf of the doctor’s desk. There was nothing in the room which did not suggest his profession, except the sword and the spurs which hung upon the wall opposite where Grace sat beside one of the front windows. She spent her time in study of the room and its appointments, and in now and then glancing out at Mr. Libby, who sat statuesquely patient in the buggy. His profile cut against the sky was blameless; and a humorous shrewdness which showed in the wrinkle at his eye and in the droop of his yellow mustache gave its regularity life and charm. It occurred to her that if Dr. Mulbridge caught sight of Mr. Libby before he saw her, or before she could explain that she had got one of the gentlemen at the hotel–she resolved upon this prevarication–to drive her to Corbitant in default of another conveyance, he would have his impressions and conjectures, which doubtless the bunch of lilies in her hand would do their part to stimulate. She submitted to this possibility, and waited for his coming, which began to seem unreasonably delayed. The door opened at last, and a tall, powerfully framed man of thirty-five or forty, dressed in an ill-fitting suit of gray Canada homespun appeared. He moved with a slow, pondering step, and carried his shaggy head bent downwards from shoulders slightly rounded. His dark beard was already grizzled, and she saw that his mustache was burnt and turned tawny at points by smoking, of which habit his presence gave stale evidence to another sense. He held Grace’s card in his hand, and he looked at her, as he advanced, out of gray eyes that, if not sympathetic, were perfectly intelligent, and that at once sought to divine and class her. She perceived that he took in the lilies and her coming color; she felt that he noted her figure and her dress.

She half rose in response to his questioning bow, and he motioned her to her seat again. “I had to keep you waiting,” he said. “I was up all night with a patient, and I was asleep when my mother called me.” He stopped here, and definitively waited for her to begin.

She did not find this easy, as he took a chair in front of her, and sat looking steadily in her face. “I’m sorry to have disturbed you” “Oh, not at all,” he interrupted. “The rule is to disturb a doctor.”

“I mean,” she began again, “that I am not sure that I am justified in disturbing you.”

He waited a little while for her to go on, and then he said, “Well, let us hear.”

“I wish to consult with you,” she broke out, and again she came to a sudden pause; and as she looked into his vigilant face, in which she was not sure there was not a hovering derision, she could not continue. She felt that she ought to gather courage from the fact that he had not started, or done anything positively disagreeable when she had asked for a consultation; but she could not, and it did not avail her to reflect that she was rendering herself liable to all conceivable misconstruction, –that she was behaving childishly, with every appearance of behaving guiltily.

He came to her aid again, in a blunt fashion, neither kind nor unkind, but simply common sense. “What is the matter?”

“What is the matter?” she repeated.

“Yes. What are the symptoms? Where and how are, you sick?”

“I am not sick,” she cried. They stared at each other in reciprocal amazement and mystification.

“Then excuse me if I ask you what you wish me to do?”

“Oh!” said Grace, realizing his natural error, with a flush. “It is n’t in regard to myself that I wish to consult with you. It’s another person–a friend”–

“Well,” said Dr. Mulbridge, laughing, with the impatience of a physician used to making short cuts through the elaborate and reluctant statements of ladies seeking advice, “what is the matter with your friend?”

“She has been an invalid for some time,” replied Grace. The laugh, which had its edge of patronage and conceit, stung her into self-possession again, and she briefly gave the points of Mrs. Maynard’s case, with the recent accident and the symptoms developed during the night. He listened attentively, nodding his head at times, and now and then glancing sharply at her, as one might at a surprisingly intelligent child.

“I must see her,” he said decidedly, when she came to an end. “I will see her as soon as possible. I will come over to Jocelyn’s this afternoon,–as soon as I can get my dinner, in fact.”

There was such a tone of dismissal in his words that she rose, and he promptly followed her example. She stood hesitating a moment. Then, “I don’t know whether you understood that I wish merely to consult with you,” she said; “that I don’t wish to relinquish the case to you”–

“Relinquish the case–consult”–Dr. Mulbridge stared at her. “No, I don’t understand. What do you mean by not relinquishing the case? If there is some one else in attendance”

“I am in attendance,” said the girl firmly. “I am Mrs. Maynard’s physician.”

“You? Physician”

“If you have looked at my card”–she began with indignant severity.

He gave a sort of roar of amusement and apology, and then he stared at her again with much of the interest of a naturalist in an extraordinary specimen.

“I beg your pardon,” he exclaimed. “I did n’t look at it”; but he now did so, where he held it crumpled in the palm of his left hand. “My mother said it was a young lady, and I did n’t look. Will you will you sit down, Dr. Breen?” He bustled in getting her several chairs. “I live off here in a corner, and I have never happened to meet any ladies ofour profession before. Excuse me, if I spoke under a,–mistaken impression. I–I–I should not have–ah–taken you for a physician. You”–He checked himself, as if he might have been going to say that she was too young and too pretty. “Of course, I shall have pleasure in consulting with you in regard to your friend’s case, though I’ve no doubt you are doing all that can be done.” With a great show of deference, he still betrayed something of the air of one who humors a joke; and she felt this, but felt that she could not openly resent it.

“Thank you,” she returned with dignity, indicating with a gesture of her hand that she would not sit down again. “I am sorry to ask you to come so far.”

“Oh, not at all. I shall be driving over in that direction at any rate. I’ve a patient near there.” He smiled upon her with frank curiosity, and seemed willing to detain her, but at a loss how to do so. “If I had n’t been stupid from my nap I should have inferred a scientific training from your statement of your friend’s case.” She still believed that he was laughing at her, and that this was a mock but she was still helpless to resent it, except by an assumption of yet colder state. This had apparently no effect upon Dr. Mulbridge. He continued to look at her with hardly concealed amusement, and visibly to grow more and more conscious of her elegance and style, now that she stood before him. There had been a time when, in planning her career, she had imagined herself studying a masculine simplicity and directness of address; but the over-success of some young women, her fellows at the school, in this direction had disgusted her with it, and she had perceived that after all there is nothing better for a girl, even a girl who is a doctor of medicine, than a ladylike manner. Now, however, she wished that she could do or say something aggressively mannish, for she felt herself dwindling away to the merest femininity, under a scrutiny which had its fascination, whether agreeable or disagreeable. “You must,” he said, with really unwarrantable patronage, “have found that the study of medicine has its difficulties,–you must have been very strongly drawn to it.”

“Oh no, not at all; I had rather an aversion at first,” she replied, with the instant superiority of a woman where the man suffers any topic to become personal. “Why did you think I was drawn to it?”

“I don’t know–I don’t know that I thought so,” he stammered. “I believe I intended to ask,” he added bluntly; but she had the satisfaction of seeing him redden, and she did not volunteer anything in his relief. She divined that it would leave him with an awkward sense of defeat if he quitted the subject there; and in fact he had determined that he would not. “Some of our ladies take up the study abroad,” he said; and he went on to speak, with a real deference, of the eminent woman who did the American name honor by the distinction she achieved in the schools of Paris.

“I have never been abroad,” said Grace.

“No?” he exclaimed. “I thought all American ladies had been abroad”; and now he said, with easy recognition of her resolution not to help him out, “I suppose you have your diploma from the Philadelphia school.”

“No,” she returned, “from the New York school,–the homoeopathic school of New York.”

Dr. Mulbridge instantly sobered, and even turned a little pale, but he did not say anything. He remained looking at her as if she had suddenly changed from a piquant mystery to a terrible dilemma.

She moved toward the door. “Then I may expect you,” she said, “about the middle of the afternoon.”

He did not reply; he stumbled upon the chairs in following her a pace or two, with a face of acute distress. Then he broke out with “I can’t come! I can’t consult with you!”

She turned and looked at him with astonishment, which he did his best to meet. Her astonishment congealed into hauteur, and then dissolved into the helplessness of a lady who has been offered a rudeness; but still she did not speak. She merely looked at him, while he halted and stammered on.

“Personally, I–I–should be–obliged–I should feel honored–I–I–It has nothing to do with your–your–being a–a–a–woman lady. I should not care for that. No. But surely you must know the reasons–the obstacles–which deter me?”

“No, I don’t,” she said, calm with the advantage of his perturbation. “But if you refuse, that is sufficient. I will not inquire your reasons. I will simply withdraw my request.”

“Thank you. But I beg you to understand that they have no reference whatever to you in–your own–capacity–character–individual quality. They are purely professional–that is, technical–I should say disciplinary,–entirely disciplinary. Yes, disciplinary.” The word seemed to afford Dr. Mulbridge the degree of relief which can come only from an exactly significant and luminously exegetic word.

“I don’t at all know what you mean,” said Grace. “But it is not necessary that I should know. Will you allow me?” she asked, for Dr. Mulbridge had got between her and the door, and stood with his hand on the latch.

His face flushed, and drops stood on his forehead. “Surely, Miss–I mean Doctor–Breen, you must know why I can’t consult with you! We belong to two diametrically opposite schools–theories–of medicine. It would be impracticable–impossible for us to consult. We could find no common ground. Have you never heard that the–ah regular practice cannot meet homoeopathists in this way? If you had told me–if I had known–you were a homoeopathist, I could n’t have considered the matter at all. I can’t now express any opinion as to your management of the case, but I have no doubt that you will know what to do–from your point of view–and that you will prefer to call in some one of your own–persuasion. I hope that you don’t hold me personally responsible for this result!”

“Oh, no!” replied the girl, with a certain dreamy abstraction. “I had heard that you made some such distinction–I remember, now. But I could n’t realize anything so ridiculous.”

Dr. Mulbridge colored. “Excuse me,” he said, “if, even under the circumstances, I can’t agree with you that the position taken by the regular practice is ridiculous.”

She did not make any direct reply. “But I supposed that you only made this distinction, as you call it, in cases where there is no immediate danger; that in a matter of life and death you would waive it. Mrs. Maynard is really–“

“There are no conditions under which I could not conscientiously refuse to waive it.”

“Then,” cried Grace, “I withdraw the word! It is not ridiculous. It is monstrous, atrocious, inhuman!”

A light of humorous irony glimmered in Dr. Mulbridge’s eye. “I must submit to your condemnation.”

“Oh, it isn’t a personal condemnation!” she retorted. “I have no doubt that personally you are not responsible. We can lay aside our distinctions as allopathist and homoeopathist, and you can advise with me”–

“It’s quite impossible,” said Dr. Mulbridge. “If I advised with you, I might be–A little while ago one of our school in Connecticut was expelled from the State Medical Association for consulting with”–he began to hesitate, as if he had not hit upon a fortunate or appropriate illustration, but he pushed on–“with his own wife, who was a physician of your school.”

She haughtily ignored his embarrassment. “I can appreciate your difficulty, and pity any liberal-minded person who is placed as you are, and disapproves of such wretched bigotry.”

“I am obliged to tell you,” said Dr. Mulbridge, “that I don’t disapprove of it.”

“I am detaining you,” said Grace. “I beg your pardon. I was curious to know how far superstition and persecution can go in our day.” If the epithets were not very accurate, she used them with a woman’s effectiveness, and her intention made them descriptive. “Good-day,” she added, and she made a movement toward the door, from which Dr. Mulbridge retired. But she did not open the door. Instead, she sank into the chair which stood in the corner, and passed her hand over her forehead, as if she were giddy.

Dr. Mulbridge’s finger was instantly on her wrist. “Are you faint?”

“No, no!” she gasped, pulling her hand away. “I am perfectly well.” Then she was silent for a time before she added by a supreme effort, “I have no right to endanger another’s life, through any miserable pride, and I never will. Mrs. Maynard needs greater experience than mine, and she must have it. I can’t justify myself in the delay and uncertainty of sending to Boston. I relinquish the case. I give it to you. And I will nurse her under your direction, obediently, conscientiously. Oh!” she cried, at his failure to make any immediate response, “surely you won’t refuse to take the case!”

“I won’t refuse,” he said, with an effect of difficult concession. “I will come. I will drive over at once, after dinner.”

She rose now, and put her hand on the door-latch. “Do you object to my nursing your patient? She is an old school friend. But I could yield that point too, if”–

“Oh, no, no! I shall be only too glad of your help, and your”–he was going to say advice, but he stopped himself, and repeated–“help.”

They stood inconclusively a moment, as if they would both be glad of something more to say. Then she said tentatively, “Good-morning,” and be responded experimentally, “Good-morning”; and with that they involuntarily parted, and she went out of the door, which he stood holding open even after she had got out of the gate.

His mother came down the stairs. “What in the world were you quarrelling with that girl about, Rufus?”

“We were not quarrelling, mother.”

“Well, it sounded like it. Who was she?

“Who?” repeated her son absently. “Dr. Breen.”

“Doctor Breen? That girl a doctor?”

“Yes.”

“I thought she was some saucy thing. Well, upon my word!” exclaimed Mrs. Mulbridge. “So that is a female doctor, is it? Was she sick?”

“No,” said her son, with what she knew to be professional finality.” Mother, if you can hurry dinner a little, I shall be glad. I have to drive over to Jocelyn’s, and I should like to start as soon as possible.”

“Who was the young man with her? Her beau, I guess.”

“Was there a young man with her?” asked Dr. Mulbridge.

His mother went out without’speaking. She could be unsatisfactory, too.

VI.

No one but Mrs. Breen knew of her daughter’s errand, and when Grace came back she alighted from Mr. Libby’s buggy with an expression of thanks that gave no clew as to the direction or purpose of it. He touched his hat to her with equal succinctness, and drove away, including all the ladies on the piazza in a cursory obeisance.

“We must ask you, Miss Gleason,” said Mrs. Alger. “Your admiration of Dr. Breen clothes you with authority and responsibility.”

“I can’t understand it at all,” Miss Gleason confessed. “But I’m sure there’s nothing in it. He isn’t her equal. She would feel that it wasn’t right–under the circumstances.”

“But if Mrs. Maynard was well it would be a fair game, you mean,” said Mrs. Alger.

“No,” returned Miss Gleason, with the greatest air of candor, “I can’t admit that I meant that.”

“Well,” said the elder lady, “the presumption is against them. Every young couple seen together must be considered in love till they prove the contrary.”

“I like it in her,” said Mrs. Frost. “It shows that she is human, after all. It shows that she is like other girls. It’s a relief.”

“She is n’t like other girls,” contended Miss Gleason darkly.

“I would rather have Mr. Libby’s opinion,” said Mrs. Merritt.

Grace went to Mrs. Maynard’s room, and told her that Dr. Mulbridge was coming directly after dinner.

“I knew you would do it!” cried Mrs. Maynard, throwing her right arm round Grace’s neck, while the latter bent over to feel the pulse in her left. “I knew where you had gone as soon as your mother told me you had driven off with Walter Libby. I’m so glad that you’ve got somebody to consult! Your theories are perfectly right and I’m sure that Dr. Mulbridge will just tell you to keep on as you’ve been doing.”

Grace withdrew from her caress. “Dr. Mulbridge is not coming for a consultation. He refused to consult with me.”

“Refused to consult? Why, how perfectly ungentlemanly! Why did he refuse?”

“Because he is an allopathist and I am a homoeopathist.”

“Then, what is he coming for, I should like to know!”

“I have given up the case to him,” said Grace wearily.

“Very well, then!” cried Mrs. Maynard, “I won’t be given up. I will simply die! Not a pill, not a powder, of his will I touch! If he thinks himself too good to consult with another doctor, and a lady at that, merely because she doesn’t happen to be allopathist, he can go along! I never heard of anything so conceited, so disgustingly mean, in my life. No, Grace! Why, it’s horrid!” She was silent, and then, “Why, of course,” she added, “if he comes, I shall have to see him. I look like a fright, I suppose.”

“I will do your hair,” said Grace, with indifference to these vows and protests; and without deigning further explanation or argument she made the invalid’s toilet for her. If given time, Mrs. Maynard would talk herself into any necessary frame of mind, and Grace merely supplied the monosyllabic promptings requisite for her transition from mood to mood. It was her final resolution that when Dr. Mulbridge did come she should give him a piece of her mind; and she received him with anxious submissiveness, and hung upon all his looks and words with quaking and with an inclination to attribute her unfavorable symptoms to the treatment of her former physician. She did not spare him certain apologies for the disorderly appearance of her person and her room.

Grace sat by and watched him with perfectly quiescent observance. The large, somewhat uncouth man gave evidence to her intelligence that he was all physician–that he had not chosen his profession from any theory or motive, however good, but had been as much chosen by it as if he had been born a Physician. He was incredibly gentle and soft in all his movements, and perfectly kind, without being at any moment unprofitably sympathetic. He knew when to listen and when not to listen,–to learn everything from the quivering bundle of nerves before him without seeming to have learnt anything alarming; he smiled when it would do her good to be laughed at, and treated her with such grave respect that she could not feel herself trifled with, nor remember afterwards any point of neglect. When he rose and left some medicines, with directions to Grace for giving them and instructions for contingencies, she followed him from the room.

“Well?” she said anxiously.

“Mrs. Maynard is threatened with pneumonia. Or, I don’t know why I should say threatened,” he added; “she has pneumonia.”

“I supposed–I was afraid so,” faltered the girl.

“Yes.” He looked into her eyes with even more seriousness than he spoke.

“Has she friends here?” he asked.

“No; her husband is in Cheyenne, out on the plains.”

“He ought to know,” said Dr. Mulbridge. “A great deal will depend upon her nursing–Miss–ah–Dr. Breen.”

“You need n’t call me Dr. Breen,” said Grace. “At present, I am Mrs. Maynard’s nurse.”

He ignored this as he had ignored every point connected with the interview of the morning. He repeated the directions he had already given with still greater distinctness, and, saying that he should come in the morning, drove away. She went back to Louise: inquisition for inquisition, it was easier to meet that of her late patient than that of her mother, and for once the girl spared herself.

“I know he thought I was very bad,” whimpered Mrs. Maynard, for a beginning. “What is the matter with me?”

“Your cold has taken an acute form; you will have to go to bed.”

“Then I ‘m going to be down sick! I knew I was! I knew it! And what am I going to do, off in such a place as this? No one to nurse me, or look after Bella! I should think you would be satisfied now, Grace, with the result of your conscientiousness: you were so very sure that Mr. Libby was wanting to flirt with me that you drove us to our death, because you thought he felt guilty and was trying to fib out of it.”

“Will you let me help to undress you?” asked Grace gently. “Bella shall be well taken care of, and I am going to nurse you myself, under Dr. Mulbridge’s direction. And once for all, Louise, I wish to say that I hold myself to blame for all”–

“Oh, yes! Much good that does now!” Being got into bed, with the sheet smoothed under her chin, she said, with the effect of drawing a strictly logical conclusion from the premises, “Well, I should think George Maynard would want to be with his family!”

Spent with this ordeal, Grace left her at last, and went out on the piazza, where she found Libby returned. In fact, he had, upon second thoughts, driven back, and put up his horse at Jocelyn’s, that he might be of service there in case he were needed. The ladies, with whom he had been making friends, discreetly left him to Grace, when she appeared, and she frankly walked apart with him, and asked him if he could go over to New Leyden, and telegraph to Mr. Maynard.

“Has she asked for him?” he inquired, laughing. “I knew it would come to that.”

“She has not asked; she has said that she thought he ought to be with his family,” repeated Grace faithfully.

“Oh, I know how she said it: as if he had gone away wilfully, and kept away against her wishes and all the claims of honor and duty. It wouldn’t take her long to get round to that if she thought she was very sick. Is she so bad?” he inquired, with light scepticism.

“She’s threatened with pneumonia. We can’t tell how bad she may be.”

“Why, of course I’ll telegraph. But I don’t think anything serious can be the matter with Mrs. Maynard.”

“Dr. Mulbridge said that Mr. Maynard ought to know.”

“Is that so?” asked Libby, in quite a different tone. If she recognized the difference, she was meekly far from resenting it; he, however, must have wished to repair his blunder. “I think you need n’t have given up the case to him. I think you’re too conscientious about it.”

“Please don’t speak of that now,” she interposed.

“Well, I won’t,” he consented. “Can I be of any use here to-night?”

“No, we shall need nothing more. The doctor will be here again in the morning.”

“Libby did not come in the morning till after the doctor had gone, and then he explained that he had waited to hear in reply to his telegram, so that they might tell Mrs. Maynard her husband had started; and he had only just now heard.

“And has he started?” Grace asked.

“I heard from his partner. Maynard was at the ranch. His partner had gone for him.”

“Then he will soon be here,” she said.

“He will, if telegraphing can bring him. I sat up half the night with the operator. She was very obliging when she understood the case.”

“She?” reputed Grace, with a slight frown.

“The operators are nearly all women in the country.”

“Oh!” She looked grave. “Can they trust young girls with such important duties?”

“They did n’t in this instance,” relied Libby. “She was a pretty old girl. What made you think she was young?”

“I don’t know. I thought you said she was young.” She blushed, and seemed about to say more, but she did not.

He waited, and then he said, “You can tell Mrs. Maynard that I telegraphed on my own responsibility, if you think it’s going to alarm her.”

“Well,” said Grace, with a helpless sigh.

“You don’t like to tell her that,” he suggested, after a moment, in which he had watched her.

“How do you know?”

“Oh, I know. And some day I will tell you how–if you will let me.”

It seemed a question; and she did not know what it was that kept her– silent and breathless and hot in the throat. “I don’t like to do it,” she said at last. “I hate myself whenever I have to feign anything. I knew perfectly well that you did n’t say she was young,” she broke out desperately.

“Say Mrs. Maynard was young?” he asked stupidly.

“No!” she cried. She rose hastily from the bench where she had been sitting with him. “I must go back to her now.”

He mounted to his buggy, and drove thoughtfully away at a walk.

The ladies, whose excited sympathies for Mrs. Maynard had kept them from the beach till now, watched him quite out of sight before they began to talk of Grace.

“I hope Dr. Breen’s new patient will be more tractable,” said Mrs. Merritt. “It would be a pity if she had to give him up, too, to Dr. Mulbridge.”

Mrs. Scott failed of the point. “Why, is Mr. Libby sick?”

“Not very,” answered Mrs. Merritt, with a titter of self-applause.

“I should be sorry,” interposed Mrs. Alger authoritatively, “if we had said anything to influence the poor thing in what she has done.”

“Oh, I don’t think we need distress ourselves about undue influence!” Mrs. Merritt exclaimed.

Mrs. Alger chose to ignore the suggestion. “She had a very difficult part; and I think she has acted courageously. I always feel sorry for girls who attempt anything of that kind. It’s a fearful ordeal.”

“But they say Miss Breen was n’t obliged to do it for a living,” Mrs. Scott suggested.

“So much the worse,” said Mrs. Merritt.

“No, so much the better,” returned Mrs. Alger.

Mrs. Merritt, sitting on the edge of the piazza, stooped over with difficulty and plucked a glass-straw, which she bit as she looked rebelliously away.

Mrs. Frost had installed herself as favorite since Mrs. Alger had praised her hair. She now came forward, and, dropping fondly at her knee, looked up to her for instruction. “Don’t you think that she showed her sense in giving up at the very beginning, if she found she was n’t equal to it?” She gave her head a little movement from side to side, and put the mass of her back hair more on show.

“Perhaps,” said Mrs. Alger, looking at the favorite not very favorably.

“Oh, I don’t think she’s given up,” Miss Gleason interposed, in her breathless manner. She waited to be asked why, and then she added, “I think she’s acting in consultation with Dr. Mulbridge. He may have a certain influence over her,–I think he has; but I know they are acting in unison.”

Mrs. Merritt flung her grass-straw away. “Perhaps it is to be Dr. Mulbridge, after all, and not Mr. Libby.”

“I have thought of that,” Miss Gleason assented candidly. “Yes, I have thought of that. I have thought of their being constantly thrown together, in this way. It would not discourage me. She could be quite as true to her vocation as if she remained single. Truer.”

“Talking of true,” said Mrs. Scott, “always does make me think of blue. They say that yellow will be worn on everything this winter.”

“Old gold?” asked Mrs. Frost. Yes, more than ever.”

“Dear!” cried the other lady. “I don’t know what I shall do. It perfectly kills my hair.”

“Oh, Miss Gleason!” exclaimed the young girl.

“Do you believe in character coming out in color?”

“Yes, certainly. I have always believed that.”

“Well, I’ve got a friend, and she wouldn’t have anything to do with a girl that wore magenta more than she would fly.”

“I should suppose,” explained Miss Gleason, “that all those aniline dyes implied something coarse in people.”

“Is n’t it curious,” asked Mrs. Frost, “how red-haired people have come in fashion? I can recollect, when I was a little girl, that everybody laughed at red hair. There was one girl at the first school I ever went to,–the boys used to pretend to burn their fingers at her hair.”

“I think Dr. Breen’s hair is a very pretty shade of brown,” said the young girl.

Mrs. Merritt rose from the edge of the piazza. “I think that if she hasn’t given up to him entirely she’s the most submissive consulting physician I ever saw,” she said, and walked out over the grass towards the cliff.

The ladies looked after her. “Is Mrs. Merritt more pudgy when she’s sitting down or when she’s standing up?” asked Mrs. Scott.

Miss Gleason seized her first chance of speaking with Grace alone. “Oh, do you know how much you are doing for us all?”

“Doing for you, all? How doing?” faltered Grace, whom she had whisperingly halted in a corner of the hall leading from the dining-room.

“By acting in unison,–by solving the most perplexing problem in women’s practising your profession. She passed the edge of her fan over her lips before letting it fall furled upon her left hand, and looked luminously into Grace’s eyes.

“I don’t at all know what you mean, Miss Gleason,” said the other.

Miss Gleason kicked out the skirt of her dress, so as to leave herself perfectly free for the explanation. “Practising in harmony with a physician of the other sex. I have always felt that there was the great difficulty,–how to bring that about. I have always felt that the TRUE physician must be DUAL,–have both the woman’s nature and the man’s; the woman’s tender touch, the man’s firm grasp. You have shown how the medical education of women can meet this want. The physician can actually be dual,–be two, in fact. Hereafter, I have no doubt we shall always call a physician of each sex. But it’s wonderful how you could ever bring it about, though you can do anything! Has n’t it worn upon you?” Miss Gleason darted out her sentences in quick, short breaths, fixing Grace with her eyes, and at each clause nervously tapping her chest with her reopened fan.

“If you suppose,” said Grace, “that Dr. Mulbridge and I are acting professionally in unison, as you call it, you are mistaken. He has entire charge of the case; I gave it up to him, and I am merely nursing Mrs. Maynard under his direction.”

“How splendid!” Miss Gleason exclaimed. “Do you know that I admire you for giving up,–for knowing when to give up? So few women do that! Is n’t he magnificent?”

“Magnificent?”

“I mean psychically. He is what I should call a strong soul You must have felt his masterfulness; you must have enjoyed it! Don’t you like to be dominated?”

“No,” said Grace, “I should n’t at all like it.”

“Oh, I do! I like to meet one of those forceful masculine natures that simply bid you obey. It’s delicious. Such a sense of self-surrender,” Miss Gleason explained. “It is n’t because they are men,” she added. “I have felt the same influence from some women. I felt it, in a certain degree, on first meeting you.”

“I am very sorry,” said Grace coldly. “I should dislike being controlled myself, and I should dislike still more to control others.”

“You’re doing it now!” cried Miss Gleason, with delight. “I could not do a thing to resist your putting me down! Of course you don’t know that you’re doing it; it’s purely involuntary. And you wouldn’t know that he was dominating you. And he would n’t.”

Very probably Dr. Mulbridge would not have recognized himself in the character of all-compelling lady’s-novel hero, which Miss Gleason imagined for him. Life presented itself rather simply to him, as it does to most men, and he easily dismissed its subtler problems from a mind preoccupied with active cares. As far as Grace was concerned, she had certainly roused in him an unusual curiosity; nothing less than her homoeopathy would have made him withdraw his consent to a consultation with her, and his fear had been that in his refusal she should escape from his desire to know more about her, her motives, her purposes. He had accepted without scruple the sacrifice of pride she had made to him; but he had known how to appreciate her scientific training, which he found as respectable as that of any clever, young man of their profession. He praised, in his way, the perfection with which she interpreted his actions and intentions in regard to the patient. “If there were such nurses as you, Miss Breen, there would be very little need of doctors,” he said, with a sort of interogative fashion of laughing peculiar to him.

“I thought of being a nurse once;” she answered. “Perhaps I may still be one. The scientific training won’t be lost.”

“Oh, no? It’s a pity that more of them have n’t it. But I suppose they think nursing is rather too humble an ambition.”

“I don’t think it so,” said Grace briefly.

“Then you did n’t care for medical distinction.”

“No.”

He looked at her quizzically, as if this were much droller than if she had cared. “I don’t understand why you should have gone into it. You told me, I think, that it was repugnant to you; and it’s hard work for a woman, and very uncertain work for anyone. You must have had a tremendous desire to benefit your race.”

His characterization of her motive was so distasteful that she made no reply, and left him to his conjectures, in which he did not appear unhappy. “How do you find Mrs. Maynard to-day?” she asked.

He looked at her with an instant coldness, as if he did not like her asking, and were hesitating whether to answer. But he said at last, “She is no better. She will be worse before she is better. You see,” he added, “that I haven’t been able to arrest the disorder in its first stage. We must hope for what can be done now, in the second.”

She had gathered from the half jocose ease with which he had listened to Mrs. Maynard’s account of herself, and to her own report, an encouragement which now fell to the ground “Yes,” she assented, in her despair, “that is the only hope.”

He sat beside the table in the hotel parlor, where they found themselves alone for the moment, and drubbed upon it with an absent look. “Have you sent for her husband?” he inquired, returning to himself.

“Yes; Mr. Libby telegraphed the evening we saw you.”

“That’s good,” said Dr. Mulbridge, with comfortable approval; and he rose to go away.

Grace impulsively detained him. “I–won’t–ask you whether you consider Mrs. Maynard’s case a serious one, if you object to my doing so.”

“I don’t know that I object,” he said slowly, with a teasing smile, such as one might use with a persistent child whom one chose to baffle in that way.

She disdained to avail herself of the implied permission. “What I mean– what I wish to tell you is–that I feel myself responsible for her sickness, and that if she dies, I shall be guilty of her death.”

“Ah?” said Dr. Mulbridge, with more interest, but the same smile. “What do you mean?”

“She didn’t wish to go that day when she was caught in the storm. But I insisted; I forced her to go.” She stood panting with the intensity of the feeling which had impelled her utterance.

“What do you mean by forcing her to go?”

“I don’t know. I–I–persuaded her.”

Dr. Mulbridge smiled, as if he perceived her intention not to tell him something she wished to tell him. He looked down into his hat, which he carried in his hand.

“Did you believe the storm was coming?”

“No!”

“And you did n’t make it come?”

“Of course not!”

He looked at her and laughed.

“Oh, you don’t at all understand!” she cried.

“I’m not a doctor of divinity,” he said. “Good morning.”

“Wait, wait!” she implored, “I’m afraid–I don’t know–Perhaps my being near her is injurious to her; perhaps I ought to let some one else nurse her. I wished to ask you this”–She stopped breathlessly.

“I don’t think you have done her any harm as yet,” he answered lightly.

“However,” he said, after a moment’s consideration, “why don’t you take a holiday? Some of the other ladies might look after her a while.”

“Do you really think,” she palpitated, “that I might? Do you think I ought? I’m afraid I ought n’t”–

“Not if your devotion is hurtful to her?” he asked. “Send some one else to her for a while. Any one can take care of her for a few hours.”

“I couldn’t leave her–feeling as I do about her.”

“I don’t know how you feel about her,” said Dr. Mulbridge. “But you can’t go on at this rate. I shall want your help by and by, and Mrs. Maynard doesn’t need you now. Don’t go back to her.”

“But if she should get worse while I am away”–

“You think your staying and feeling bad would make her better? Don’t go back,” he repeated; and he went out to his ugly rawboned horse, and, mounting his shabby wagon, rattled away. She lingered, indescribably put to shame by the brutal common sense which she could not impeach, but which she still felt was no measure of the case. It was true that she had not told him everything, and she could not complain that he had mocked her appeal for sympathy if she had trifled with him by a partial confession. But she indignantly denied to herself that she had wished to appeal to him for sympathy.

She wandered out on the piazza, which she found empty, and stood gazing at the sea in a revery of passionate humiliation. She was in that mood, familiar to us all, when we long to be consoled and even flattered for having been silly. In a woman this mood is near to tears; at a touch of kindness the tears come, and momentous questions are decided. What was perhaps uppermost in the girl’s heart was a detestation of the man to whom she had seemed a simpleton; her thoughts pursued him, and divined the contempt with which he must be thinking of her and her pretensions. She heard steps on the sand, and Libby came round the corner of the house from the stable.

VII.

Libby’s friends had broken up their camp on the beach, and had gone to a lake in the heart of the woods for the fishing. He had taken a room at the Long Beach House, but he spent most of his time at Jocelyn’s, where he kept his mare for use in going upon errands for Mrs. Maynard. Grace saw him constantly, and he was always doing little things for her with a divination of her unexpressed desires which women find too rarely in men. He brought her flowers, which, after refusing them for Mrs. Maynard the first time, she accepted for herself. He sometimes brought her books, the light sort which form the sentimental currency of young people, and she lent them round among the other ladies, who were insatiable of them. She took a pleasure in these attentions, as if they had been for some one else. In this alien sense she liked to be followed up with a chair to the point where she wished to sit; to have her hat fetched, or her shawl; to drop her work or her handkerchief, secure that it would be picked up for her.

It all interested her, and it was a relief from the circumstances that would have forbidden her to recognize it as gallantry, even if her own mind had not been so far from all thought of that. His kindness followed often upon some application of hers for his advice or help, for she had fallen into the habit of going to him with difficulties. He had a prompt common sense that made him very useful in emergencies, and a sympathy or an insight that was quick in suggestions and expedients. Perhaps she overrated other qualities of his in her admiration of the practical readiness which kept his amiability from seeming weak. But the practical had so often been the unattainable with her that it was not strange she should overrate it, and that she should rest upon it in him with a trust that included all he chose to do in her behalf.

“What is the matter, Mr. Libby?” she asked, as he came toward her.

“Is anything the matter?” he demanded in turn.

“Yes; you are looking downcast,” she cried reproachfully.

“I didn’t know that I mustn’t look downcast. I did n’t suppose it would be very polite, under the circumstances, to go round looking as bobbish as I feel.”

“It’s the best thing you could possibly do. But you’re not feeling very bobbish now.” A woman respects the word a man uses, not because she would have chosen it, but because she thinks that he has an exact intention in it, which could not be reconveyed in a more feminine phrase. In this way slang arises. “Is n’t it time for Mr. Maynard to be here?”

“Yes,” he answered. Then, “How did you know I was thinking of that?”

“I did n’t. I only happened to think it was time. What are you keeping back, Mr. Libby?” she pursued tremulously.

“Nothing, upon my honor. I almost wish there were something to keep back. But there is n’t anything. There have n’t been any accidents reported. And I should n’t keep anything back from you.”

“Why?”

“Because you would be equal to it, whatever it was.”

“I don’t see why you say that.” She weakly found comfort in the praise which she might once have resented as patronage.

“I don’t see why I should n’t,” he retorted:

“Because I am not fit to be trusted at all.”

“Do you mean”–

“Oh, I haven’t the strength, to mean anything,” she said. “But I thank you, thank you very much,” she added. She turned her head away.

“Confound Maynard!” cried the young man. “I don’t see why he does n’t come. He must have started four days ago. He ought to have’ had sense enough to telegraph when he did start. I did n’t tell his partner to ask him. You can’t think of everything. I’ve been trying to find out something. I’m going over to Leyden, now, to try to wake up somebody in Cheyenne who knows Maynard.” He looked ruefully at Grace, who listened with anxious unintelligence. “You’re getting worn out, Miss Breen,” he said. “I wish I could ask you to go with me to Leyden. It would do you good. But my mare’s fallen lame; I’ve just been to see her. Is there anything I can do for you over there?”

“Why, how are you going?” she asked.

“In my boat,” he answered consciously.

“The same boat?”

“Yes. I’ve had her put to rights. She was n’t much damaged.”

She was silent a moment, while he stood looking down at her in the chair into which she had sunk. “Does it take you long?”

“Oh, no. It’s shorter than it is by land. I shall have the tide with me both ways. I can make the run there and back in a couple of hours.”

“Two hours?”

“Yes.”

A sudden impulse, unreasoned and unreasonable, in which there seemed hope of some such atonement, or expiation, as the same ascetic nature would once have found in fasting or the scourge, prevailed with her. She rose. “Mr. Libby,” she panted, “if you will let me, I should like to go with you in your boat. Do you think it will be rough?”

“No, it’s a light breeze; just right. You need n’t be afraid.”

“I’m not afraid. I should not care if it were rough! I should not care if it stormed! I hope it–I will ask mother to stay with Mrs. Maynard.”

Mrs. Breen had not been pleased to have her daughter in charge of Mrs. Maynard’s case, but she had not liked her giving it up. She had said more than once that she had no faith in Dr. Mulbridge. She willingly consented to Grace’s prayer, and went down into Mrs. Maynard’s room, and insinuated misgivings in which the sick woman found so much reason that they began for the first time to recognize each other’s good qualities. They decided that the treatment was not sufficiently active, and that she should either have something that would be more loosening to the cough, or some application–like mustard plasters–to her feet, so as to take away that stuffed feeling about the head.

At that hour of the afternoon, when most of the ladies were lying down in their rooms, Grace met no one on the beach but Miss Gleason and Mrs. Alger, who rose from their beds of sand under the cliff at her passage with Mr. Libby to his dory.

“Don’t you want to go to Leyden?” he asked jocosely over his shoulder.

“You don’t mean to say you’re going?” Miss Gleason demanded of Grace.

“Yes, certainly. Why not?”

“Well, you are brave!”

She shut her novel upon her thumb, that she might have nothing to do but admire Grace’s courage, as the girl walked away.

“It will do her good, poor thing,” said the elder woman. “She looks wretchedly.”

“I can understand just why she does it,” murmured Miss Gleason in adoring rapture.

“I hope she does it for pleasure,” said Mrs. Alger.

“It is n’t that,” returned Miss Gleason mysteriously.

“At any rate, Mr. Libby seemed pleased.”

“Oh, she would never marry HIM!” said Miss Gleason.

The other laughed, and at that moment Grace also laughed. The strong current of her purpose, the sense of escape from the bitter servitude of the past week, and the wild hope of final expiation through the chances she was tempting gave her a buoyancy long unfelt. She laughed in gayety of heart as she helped the young man draw his dory down the sand, and then took her place at one end while he gave it the last push and then leaped in at the other. He pulled out to where the boat lay tilting at anchor, and held the dory alongside by the gunwale that she might step aboard. But after rising she faltered, looking intently at the boat as if she missed something there.

“I thought you had a man to sail your boat”

“I had. But I let him go last week. Perhaps I ought to have told you,” he said, looking up at her aslant. “Are you afraid to trust my seamanship? Adams was a mere form. He behaved like a fool that day.”

“Oh, I’m not afraid,” said Grace. She stepped from the dory into the boat, and he flung out the dory’s anchor and followed. The sail went up with a pleasant clucking of the tackle, and the light wind filled it. Libby made the sheet fast, and, sitting down in the stern on the other side, took the tiller and headed the boat toward the town that shimmered in the distance. The water hissed at the bow, and seethed and sparkled from the stern; the land breeze that bent their sail blew cool upon her cheek and freshened it with a tinge of color.

“This will do you good,” he said, looking into hers with his kind, gay eyes.

The color in her cheeks deepened a little. “Oh, I am better than I look. I did n’t come for”–

“For medicinal purposes. Well, I am glad of it. We’ve a good hour between us and news or no news from Maynard, and I should like to think we were out for pleasure. You don’t object?”

“No. You can even smoke, if that will heighten the illusion.”

“It will make it reality. But you don’t mean it?”

“Yes; why not?”

“I don’t know. But I could n’t have dreamt of smoking in your presence. And we take the liberty to dream very strange things.”

“Yes,” she said, “it’s shocking what things we do dream of people. But am I so forbidding?” she asked, a little sadly.

“Not now,” said Libby. He got out a pouch of tobacco and some cigarette papers, and putting the tiller under his arm, he made himself a cigarette.

“You seem interested,” he said, as he lifted his eyes from his work, on which he found her intent, and struck his fusee.

“I was admiring your skill,” she answered.

“Do you think it was worth a voyage to South America?”

“I shouldn’t have thought the voyage was necessary.”

“Oh, perhaps you think you can do it,” he said, handing her the tobacco and papers. She took them and made a cigarette. “It took me a whole day to learn to make bad ones, and this, is beautiful. But I will never smoke it. I will keep this always.”

“You had better smoke it, if you want more,” she said.

“Will you make some more? I can’t smoke the first one!”

“Then smoke the last,” she said, offering him the things back.

“No, go on. I’ll smoke it.”

She lent herself to the idle humor of the time, and went on making cigarettes till there were no more papers. From time to time she looked up from this labor, and scanned the beautiful bay, which they had almost wholly to themselves. They passed a collier lagging in the deep channel, and signalling for a pilot to take her up to the town. A yacht, trim and swift, cut across their course; the ladies on board waved a salutation with their handkerchiefs, and Libby responded.

“Do you know them?” asked Grace.

“No!” he laughed. “But ladies like to take these liberties at a safe distance.”

“Yes, that’s a specimen of woman’s daring,” she said, with a self- scornful curl of the lip, which presently softened into a wistful smile. “How lovely it all is!” she sighed.

“Yes, there’s nothing better in all the world than a sail. It is all the world while it lasts. A boat’s like your own fireside for snugness.”

A dreamier light came into her eye, which wandered, with a turn of the head giving him the tender curve of her cheek, over the levels of the bay, roughened everywhere by the breeze, but yellowish green in the channels and dark with the thick growth of eel-grass in the shallows; then she lifted her face to the pale blue heavens in an effort that slanted towards him the soft round of her chin, and showed her full throat.

“This is the kind of afternoon,” she said, still looking at the sky, “that you think will never end.”

“I wish it would n’t,” he answered.

She lowered her eyes to his, and asked: “Do you have times when you are sorry that you ever tried to do anything–when it seems foolish to have tried?”

“I have the other kind of times,–when I wish that I had tried to do something.”

“Oh yes, I have those, too. It’s wholesome to be ashamed of not having tried to do anything; but to be ashamed of having tried–it’s like death. There seems no recovery from that.”

He did not take advantage of her confession, or try to tempt her to further confidence; and women like men who have this wisdom, or this instinctive generosity, and trust them further.

“And the worst of it is that you can’t go back and be like those that have never tried at all. If you could, that would be some consolation for having failed. There is nothing left of you but your mistake.”

“Well,” he said, “some people are not even mistakes. I suppose that almost any sort of success looks a good deal like failure from the inside. It must be a poor creature that comes up to his own mark. The best way is not to have any mark, and then you’re in no danger of not coming up to it.” He laughed, but she smiled sadly.

“You don’t believe in thinking about yourself,” she said.

“Oh, I try a little introspection, now and then. But I soon get through: there isn’t much of me to think about.”

“No, don’t talk in that way,” she pleaded, and she was very charming in her earnestness: it was there that her charm lay. “I want you to be serious with me, and tell me–tell me how men feel when.”–

A sudden splashing startled her, and looking round she saw a multitude of curious, great-eyed, black heads, something like the heads of boys, and something like the heads of dogs, thrusting from the water, and flashing under it again at sight of them with a swish that sent the spray into the air. She sprang to her feet. “Oh, look at those things! Look at them! Look at them!” She laid vehement hands upon the young man, and pushed him in the direction in which she wished him to look, at some risk of pushing him overboard, while he laughed at her ecstasy.

“They’re seals. The bay’s full of them. Did you never see them on the reef at Jocelyn’s?”

“I never saw them before!” she cried. “How wonderful they are! Oh!” she shouted; as one of them glanced sadly at her over its shoulder, and then vanished with a whirl of the head. “The Beatrice Cenci attitude!”

“They ‘re always trying that,” said Libby. “Look yonder.” He pointed to a bank of mud which the tide had not yet covered, and where a herd of seals lay basking in the sun. They started at his voice, and wriggling and twisting and bumping themselves over the earth to the water’s edge, they plunged in. “Their walk isn’t so graceful as their swim. Would you like one for a pet, Miss Breen? That’s all they ‘re good for since kerosene came in. They can’t compete with that, and they’re not the kind that wear the cloaks.”

She was standing with her hand pressed hard upon his shoulder.

“Did they ever kill them?”

“They used to take that precaution.”

“With those eyes? It was murder! “She withdrew her hand and sat down.

“Well, they only catch them, now. I tried it myself once. I set out at low tide, about ten o’clock, one night, and got between the water and the biggest seal on the bank. We fought it out on that line till daylight.”

“And did you get it?” she demanded, absurdly interested.

“No, it got me. The tide came in, and the seal beat.”

“I am glad of that.”

“Thank you.”

“What did you want with it?”

“I don’t think I wanted it at all. At any rate, that’s what I always said. I shall have to ask you to sit on this side,” he added, loosening the sheet and preparing to shift the sail. “The wind has backed round a little more to the south, and it’s getting lighter.”

“If it’s going down we shall be late,” she said, with an intimation of apprehension.

“We shall be at Leyden on time. If the wind falls then, I can get a horse at the stable and have you driven back.”

“Well.”

He kept scanning the sky. Then, “Did you ever hear them whistle for a wind?” he asked.

“No. What is it like?”

“When Adams does it, it’s like this.” He put on a furtive look, and glanced once or twice at her askance. “Well!” he said with the reproduction of a strong nasal, “of course I don’t believe there’s anything in it. Of course it’s all foolishness. Now you must urge me a little,” he added, in his own manner.

“Oh, by all means go on, Mr. Adams,” she cried, with a laugh.

He rolled his head again to one side sheepishly.

“Well, I don’t presume it DOES have anything to do with the wind–well, I don’t PRESUME it does.” He was silent long enough to whet an imagined expectation; then he set his face towards the sky, and began a soft, low, coaxing sibilation between his teeth. “S-s-s-s; s-s-s-s-s-s! Well, it don’t stand to reason it can bring the wind–S-s-s-s-s-s-s; s-s-s-s. Why, of course it ‘s all foolishness. S-s-s-s.” He continued to emit these sibilants, interspersing them with Adams’s protests. Suddenly the sail pulled the loose sheet taut and the boat leaped forward over the water.

“Wonderful!” cried the girl.

“That’s what I said to Adams, or words to that effect. But I thought we should get it from the look of the sky before I proposed to whistle for it. Now, then,” he continued, “I will be serious, if you like.”

“Serious?”

“Yes. Didn’t you ask me to be serious just before those seals interrupted you?”

“Oh!” she exclaimed, coloring a little. “I don’t think we can go back to that, now.” He did not insist, and she said presently, “I thought the sailors had a superstition about ships that are lucky and unlucky. But you’ve kept your boat”

“I kept her for luck: the lightning never strikes twice in the same place. And I never saw a boat that behaved so well.”

“Do you call it behaving well to tip over?”

“She behaved well before that. She didn’t tip over outside the reef”

“It certainly goes very smoothly,” said the girl. She had in vain recurred to the tragic motive of her coming; she could not revive it; there had been nothing like expiation in this eventless voyage; it had been a pleasure and no penance. She abandoned herself with a weak luxury to the respite from suffering and anxiety; she made herself the good comrade of the young man whom perhaps she even tempted to flatter her farther and farther out of the dreariness in which she had dwelt; and if any woful current of feeling swept beneath, she would not fathom it, but resolutely floated, as one may at such times, on the surface. They laughed together and jested; they talked in the gay idleness of such rare moods.

They passed a yacht at anchor, and a young fellow in a white duck cap, leaning over the rail, saluted Libby with the significant gravity which one young man uses towards another whom he sees in a sail-boat with a pretty girl.

She laughed at this. “Do you know your friend?” she asked.

“Yes. This time I do?”

“He fancies you are taking some young lady a sail. What would he say if you were to stop and introduce me to him as Dr. Breen?”

“Oh, he knows who you are. It’s Johnson.”

“The one whose clothes you came over in, that morning?”

“Yes. I suppose you laughed at me.”

“I liked your having the courage to do it. But how does he know me?”

“I–I described you. He’s rather an old friend.” This also amused her. “I should like to hear how you described me.”

“I will tell you sometime. It was an elaborate description. I could n’t get through with it now before we landed.”

The old town had come out of the haze of the distance,–a straggling village of weather-beaten wood and weather-beaten white paint, picturesque, but no longer a vision of gray stone and pale marble. A coal-yard, and a brick locomotive house, and rambling railroad sheds stretched along the water-front. They found their way easily enough through the sparse shipping to the steps at the end of the wooden pier, where Libby dropped the sail and made his boat fast.

A little pleasant giddiness, as if the lightness of her heart had mounted to her head, made her glad of his arm up these steps and up the wharf; and she kept it as they climbed the sloping elm-shaded village street to the main thoroughfare, with its brick sidewalks, its shops and awnings, and its cheerful stir and traffic.

The telegraph office fronted the head of the street which they had ascended. “You can sit here in the apothecary’s till I come down,” he said.

“Do you think that will be professionally appropriate? I am only a nurse now.”

“No, I wasn’t thinking of that. But I saw a chair in there. And we can make a pretense of wanting some soda. It is the proper thing to treat young ladies to soda when one brings them in from the country.”

“It does have that appearance,” she assented, with a smile. She kept him waiting with what would have looked like coquettish hesitation in another, while she glanced at the windows overhead, pierced by a skein of converging wires. “Suppose I go up with you?”

“I should like that better,” he said; and she followed him lightly up the stairs that led to the telegraph office. A young man stood at the machine with a cigar in his mouth, and his eyes intent upon the ribbon of paper unreeling itself before him.

“Just hold on,” he said to Libby, without turning his head. “I’ve got something here for you.” He read: “Despatch received yesterday. Coming right through. George Maynard.”

“Good!” cried Libby.

“Dated Council Bluffs. Want it written out?”

“No. What ‘s to pay?” `

“Paid,” said the operator.

The laconically transacted business ended with this, the wire began to cluck again like the anxious hen whose manner the most awful and mysterious of the elements assumes in becoming articulate, and nothing remained for them but to come away.

“That was what I was afraid of,” said Libby. “Maynard was at his ranch, and it must have been a good way out. They’re fifty or sixty miles out, sometimes. That would account for the delay. Well, Mrs. Maynard doesn’t know how long it takes to come from Cheyenne, and we can tell her he’s on the way, and has telegraphed.” They were walking rapidly down the street to the wharf where his boat lay. “Oh!” he exclaimed, halting abruptly. “I promised to send you back by land, if you preferred.”

“Has the wind fallen?”

“Oh, no. We shall have a good breeze:”

“I won’t put you to the trouble of getting a horse. I can go back perfectly well in the boat.”

“Well, that’s what I think,” he said cheerily.

She did not respond, and he could not be aware that any change had come over her mood. But when they were once more seated in the boat, and the sail was pulling in the fresh breeze, she turned to him with a scarcely concealed indignation. “Have you a fancy for experimenting upon people, Mr. Libby?”

“Experimenting? I? I don’t know in the least what you mean!”

“Why did you tell me that the operator was a woman?”

“Because the other operator is,” he answered.

“Oh!” she said, and fell blankly silent.

“There is a good deal of business there. They have to have two operators,” he explained, after a pause.

“Why, of course,” she murmured in deep humiliation. If he had suffered her to be silent as long as she would, she might have offered him some reparation; but he spoke.

“Why did you think I had been experimenting on you?” he asked.

“Why?” she repeated. The sense of having put herself in the wrong exasperated her with him. “Oh, I dare say you were curious. Don’t you suppose I have noticed that men are puzzled at me? What did you mean by saying that you thought I would be equal to anything?”

“I meant–I thought you would like to be treated frankly.”

“And you would n’t treat everybody so?”

“I wouldn’t treat Mrs. Maynard so.”

“Oh!” she said. “You treat me upon a theory.”

“Don’t you like that? We treat everybody upon a theory”–

“Yes, I know”

“And I should tell you the worst of anything at once, because I think you are one of the kind that don’t like to have their conclusions made for them.”

“And you would really let women make their own conclusions,” she said. “You are very peculiar!” She waited a while, and then she asked, “And what is your theory of me?”

“That you are very peculiar.”

“How?”

“You are proud.”

“And is pride so very peculiar?”

“Yes; in women.”

“Indeed! You set up for a connoisseur of female character. That’s very common, nowadays. Why don’t you tell me something more about Yourself? We’re always talking about me.”

He might well have been doubtful of her humor. He seemed to decide that she was jesting, for he answered lightly, “Why, you began it.”

“I know I did, this time. But now I wish to stop it, too.”

He looked down at the tiller in his hands. “Well,” he said, “I should like to tell you about myself. I should like to know what you think of the kind of man I am. Will you be honest if I will?”

“That’s a very strange condition,” she answered, meeting and then avoiding the gaze he lifted to her face.

“What? Being honest?”

“Well, no–Or, yes!”

“It is n’t for you.”

“Thank you. But I’m not under discussion now.”

“Well, in the first place,” he began, “I was afraid of you when we met.”

“Afraid of me?”

“That is n’t the word, perhaps. We’ll say ashamed of myself. Mrs. Maynard told me about you, and I thought you would despise me for not doing or being anything in particular. I thought you must.”

“Indeed!”

He hesitated, as if still uncertain of her mood from this intonation, and then he went on: “But I had some little hope you would tolerate me, after all. You looked like a friend I used to have.–Do you mind my telling you?”

“Oh, no. Though I can’t say that it’s ever very comfortable to be told that you look like some one else.”

“I don’t suppose any one else would have been struck by the resemblance,” said Libby, with a laugh of reminiscence. “He was huge. But he had eyes like a girl,–I beg your pardon,–like yours.”

“You mean that I have eyes like a man.”

He laughed, and said, “No,” and then turned grave. “As long as he lived”–

“Oh, is he dead?” she asked more gently than she had yet spoken.

“Yes, he died just before I went abroad. I went out on business for my father,–he’s an importer and jobber,–and bought goods for him. Do you despise business?”

“I don’t know anything about it.”

“I did it to please my father, and he said I was a very good buyer. He thinks there’s nothing like buying–except selling. He used to sell things himself, over the counter, and not so long ago, either.

“I fancied it made a difference for me when I was in college, and that the yardstick came between me and society. I was an ass for thinking anything about it. Though I did n’t really care, much. I never liked society, and I did like boats and horses. I thought of a profession, once. But it would n’t work. I’ve been round the world twice, and I’ve done nothing but enjoy myself since I left college,–or try to. When I first saw you I was hesitating about letting my father make me of use. He wants me to become one of the most respectable members of society, he wants me to be a cotton-spinner. You know there ‘s nothing so irreproachable as cotton, for a business?”

“No. I don’t know about those things.”

“Well, there is n’t. When I was abroad, buying and selling, I made a little discovery: I found that there were goods we could make and sell in the European market cheaper than the English, and that gave my father the notion of buying a mill to make them. I’m boring you!”

“No.”

“Well, he bought it; and he wants me to take charge of it.”

“And shall you?”

“Do you think I’m fit for it?”

“I? How should I know?”

“You don’t know cotton; but you know me a little. Do I strike you as fit for anything?” She made no reply to this, and he laughed. “I assure you I felt small enough when I heard what you had done, and thought–what I had done. It gave me a start; and I wrote my father that night that I would go in for it.”

“I once thought of going to a factory town,” she answered, without wilful evasion, “to begin my practice there among the operatives’ children. I should have done it if it had not been for coming here with Mrs. Maynard. It would have been better.”

“Come to my factory town, Miss Breen! There ought to be fevers there in the autumn, with all the low lands that I’m allowed to flood Mrs. Maynard told me about your plan.”

“Pray, what else did Mrs. Maynard tell you about me?”

“About your taking up a profession, in the way you did, when you needn’t, and when you did n’t particularly like it.”

“Oh!” she said. Then she added, “And because I was n’t obliged to it, and did n’t like it, you tolerated me?”

“Tolerated?” he echoed.

This vexed her. “Yes, tolerate! Everybody, interested or not, has to make up his mind whether to tolerate me as soon as he hears what I am. What excuse did you make for me?”

“I did n’t make any,” said Libby.

“But you had your misgiving, your surprise.”

“I thought if you could stand it, other people might. I thought it was your affair.”

“Just as if I had been a young man?”

“No! That wasn’t possible.”

She was silent. Then, “The conversation has got back into the old quarter,” she said. “You are talking about me again. Have you heard from your friends since they went away?”

“What friends?”

“Those you were camping with.”

“No.”

“What did they say when they heard that you had found a young doctress at Jocelyn’s? How did you break the fact to them? What jokes did they make? You need n’t be afraid to tell me!” she cried. “Give me Mr. Johnson’s comments.”

He looked at her in surprise that incensed her still more, and rendered her incapable of regarding the pain with which he answered her. “I ‘m afraid,” he said, “that I have done something to offend you.”

“Oh no! What could you have done?”

“Then you really mean to ask me whether I would let any one make a joke of you in my presence?”

“Yes; why not?”

“Because it was impossible,” he answered.

“Why was it impossible?” she pursued.

“Because–I love you.”

She had been looking him defiantly in the eyes, and she could not withdraw her gaze. For the endless moment that ensued, her breath was taken away. Then she asked in a low, steady voice, “Did you mean to say that?”

“No.”

“I believe you, and I forgive you. No, no!” she cried, at a demonstration of protest from him, “don’t speak again!”

He obeyed, instantly, implicitly. With the tiller in his hand he looked past her and guided the boat’s course. It became intolerable.

“Have I ever done anything that gave you the right to–to–say that?” she asked, without the self-command which she might have wished to show.

“No,” he said, “you were only the most beautiful”–

“I am not beautiful! And if I were”–

“It wasn’t to be helped! I saw from the first how good and noble you were, and”–

“This is absurd!” she exclaimed. “I am neither good nor noble; and if I were”–

“It wouldn’t make any difference. Whatever you are, you are the one woman in the world to me; and you always will be.”

“Mr. Libby!”

“Oh, I must speak now! You were always thinking, because you had studied a man’s profession, that no one would think of you as a woman, as if that could make any difference to a man that had the soul of a man in him!”

“No, no!” she protested. “I did n’t think that. I always expected to be considered as a woman.”

“But not as a woman to fall in love with. I understood. And that somehow made you all the dearer to me. If you had been a girl like other girls, I should n’t have cared for you.”

“Oh!”

“I did n’t mean to speak to you to-day. But sometime I did mean to speak; because, whatever I was, I loved you; and I thought you did n’t dislike me.”

“I did like you,” she murmured, “very much. And I respected you. But you can’t say that I ever gave you any hope in this–this–way.” She almost asked him if she had.

“No,–not purposely. And if you did, it ‘s over now. You have rejected me. I understand that. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t. And I can hold my tongue.” He did not turn, but looked steadily past her at the boat’s head.

An emotion stirred in her breast which took the form of a reproach. “Was it fair, then, to say this when neither of us could escape afterwards?”

“I did n’t mean to speak,” he said, without looking up, “and I never meant to place you where you could n’t escape.”

It was true that she had proposed to go with him in the boat, and that she had chosen to come back with him, when he had offered to have her driven home from Leyden. “No, you are not to blame,” she said, at last. “I asked to some with you. Shall I tell you why ?” Her voice began to break. In her pity for him and her shame for herself the tears started to her eyes. She did not press her question, but, “Thank you for reminding me that I invited myself to go with you,” she said, with feeble bitterness.

He looked up at her in silent wonder, and she broke into a sob. He said gently, “I don’t suppose you expect me to deny that. You don’t think me such a poor dog as that.”

“Why, of course not,” she answered, with quivering lips, while she pressed her handkerchief to her eyes.

“I was only too glad to have you come. I always meant to tell you–what I have told; but not when I should seem to trap you into listening.”

“No,” she murmured, “I can believe that of you. I do believe it. I take back what I said. Don’t let us speak of it any more now,” she continued, struggling for her lost composure, with what success appeared in the fresh outburst with which she recognized his forbearance to hint at any painfulness to himself in the situation.

“I don’t mind it so much on my account, but oh! how could you for your own sake? Do let us get home as fast as we can!”

“I am doing everything I can to release you,” he said. “If you will sit here,” he added, indicating the place beside him in the stern, “you won’t have to change so much when I want to tack.”

She took the other seat, and for the first time she noticed that the wind had grown very light. She watched him with a piteous impatience while he shifted the sail from side to side, keeping the sheet in his hand for convenience in the frequent changes. He scanned the sky, and turned every current of the ebbing tide to account. It was useless; the boat crept, and presently it scarcely moved.

“The wind is down,” he said, making the sheet fast, and relaxing his hold on the tiller.

“And–And the tide is going out!” she exclaimed.

“The tide is going out,” he admitted.

“If we should get caught on these flats,” she began, with rising indignation.

“We should have to stay till the tide turned.”

She looked wildly about for aid. If there were a row-boat anywhere within hail, she could be taken to Jocelyn’s in that. But they were quite alone on those lifeless waters.

Libby got out a pair of heavy oars from the bottom of the boat, and, setting the rowlocks on either side, tugged silently at them.

The futile effort suggested an idea to her which doubtless she would not have expressed if she had not been lacking, as she once said, in a sense of humor.

“Why don’t you whistle for a wind?”

He stared at her in sad astonishment to make sure that she was in earnest, and then, “Whistle!” he echoed forlornly, and broke into a joyless laugh.

“You knew the chances of delay that I took in asking to come with you,” she cried, “and you should have warned me. It was ungenerous–it was ungentlemanly!”

“It was whatever you like. I must be to blame. I suppose I was too glad to have you come. If I thought anything, I thought you must have some particular errand at Leyden. You seemed anxious to go, even if it stormed.”

“If it had stormed,” she retorted, “I should not have cared! I hoped it would storm. Then at least I should have run the same danger,–I hoped it would be dangerous.”

“I don’t understand what you mean,” he said.

“I forced that wretched creature to go with you that day when you said it was going to be rough; and I shall have her blood upon my hands if she dies”

“Is it possible,” cried Libby, pulling in his useless oars, and leaning forward upon them, “that she has gone on letting you think I believed there was going to be a storm? She knew perfectly well that I didn’t mind what Adams said; he was always croaking.” She sat looking at him in a daze, but she could not speak, and he continued. “I see: it happened by one chance in a million to turn out as he said; and she has been making you pay for it. Why, I suppose,” he added, with a melancholy smile of intelligence, “she’s had so much satisfaction in holding you responsible for what’s happened, that she’s almost glad of it!”

“She has tortured me!” cried the girl. “But you–you, when you saw that I did n’t believe there was going to be any storm, why did you–why didn’t–you”–

“I did n’t believe it either! It was Mrs. Maynard that proposed the sail, but when I saw that you did n’t like it I was glad of any excuse for putting it off. I could n’t help wanting to please you, and I couldn’t see why you urged us afterwards; but I supposed you had some reason.”

She passed her hand over her forehead, as if to clear away the confusion in which all this involved her. “But why–why did you let me go on thinking myself to blame”–

“How could I know what you were thinking? Heaven knows I didn’t dream of such a thing! Though I remember, now, your saying”–

“Oh, I see!” she cried. “You are a man! But I can’t forgive it,–no, I can’t forgive it! You wished to deceive her if you did n’t wish to deceive me. How can you excuse yourself for repeating what you did n’t believe?”

“I was willing she should think Adams was right.”

“And that was deceit. What can you say to it?”

“There is only one thing I could say,” he murmured, looking hopelessly into her eyes, “and that’s of no use.”

She turned her head away. Her tragedy had fallen to nothing; or rather it had never been. All her remorse, all her suffering, was mere farce now; but his guilt in the matter was the greater. A fierce resentment burned in her heart; she longed to make him feel something of the anguish she had needlessly undergone.

He sat watching her averted face. “Miss Breen,” he said huskily, “will you let me speak to you?”

“Oh, you have me in your power,” she answered cruelly. “Say what you like.”

He did not speak, nor make any motion to do so.

A foolish, idle curiosity to know what, after all that had happened, he could possibly have to say, stirred within her, but she disdainfully stifled it. They were both so still that a company of seals found it safe to put their heads above water, and approach near enough to examine her with their round soft eyes. She turned from the silly things in contempt that they should even have interested her. She felt that from time to time her companion lifted an anxious glance to the dull heavens. At last the limp sail faintly stirred; it flapped; it filled shallowly; the boat moved. The sail seemed to have had a prescience of the wind before it passed over the smooth water like a shadow.

When a woman says she never will forgive a man, she always has a condition of forgiveness in her heart. Now that the wind had risen again, “I have no right to forbid you to speak,” she said, as if no silence had elapsed, and she turned round and quietly confronted him; she no longer felt so impatient to escape.

He did not meet her eye at once, and he seemed in no haste to avail himself of the leave granted him. A heavy sadness blotted the gayety of a face whose sunny sympathy had been her only cheer for many days. She fancied a bewilderment in its hopelessness which smote her with still sharper pathos. “Of course,” she said, “I appreciate your wish to do what I wanted, about Mrs. Maynard. I remember my telling you that she ought n’t to go out, that day. But that was not the way to do it”–

“There was no other,” he said.

“No,” she assented, upon reflection. “Then it ought n’t to have been done.”

He showed no sign of intending to continue, and after a moment of restlessness, she began again.

“If I have been rude or hasty in refusing to hear you, Mr. Libby, I am very wrong. I must hear anything you have to say.”

“Oh, not unless you wish.”

“I wish whatever you wish.”

“I’m not sure that I wish that now. I have thought it over; I should only distress you for nothing. You are letting me say why sentence shouldn’t be passed upon me. Sentence is going to be passed any way. I should only repeat what I have said. You would pity me, but you couldn’t help me. And that would give you pain for nothing. No, it would be useless.”

“It would be useless to talk to me about–loving.” She took the word on her lips with a certain effect of adopting it for convenience’ sake in her vocabulary. “All that was ended for me long ago,–ten years ago. And my whole life since then has been shaped to do without it. I will tell you my story if you like. Perhaps it’s your due. I wish to be just. You may have a right to know.”

“No, I haven’t. But.–perhaps I ought to say that Mrs. Maynard told me something.”

“Well, I am glad of that, though she had no right to do it. Then you can understand.”

“Oh, yes, I can understand. I don’t pretend that I had any reason in it.”

He forbore again to urge any plea for himself, and once more she was obliged to interfere in his behalf. “Mr. Libby, I have never confessed that I once wronged you in a way that I’m very sorry for.”

“About Mrs. Maynard? Yes, I know. I won’t try to whitewash myself; but it didn’t occur to me how it would look. I wanted to talk with her about you.”

“You ought to have considered her, though,” she said gently.

“She ought to have considered herself,” he retorted, with his unfailing bitterness for Mrs. Maynard. “But it doesn’t matter whose fault it was. I’m sufficiently punished; for I know that it injured me with you.”

“It did at first. But now I can see that I was wrong. I wished to tell you that. It isn’t creditable to me that I thought you intended to flirt with her. If I had been better myself”–

“You!” He could not say more.

That utter faith in her was very charming. It softened her more and more; it made her wish to reason with him, and try gently to show him how impossible his hope was. “And you know,” she said, recurring to something that had gone before, “that even if I had cared for you in the way you wish, it could n’t be. You would n’t want to have people laughing and saying I had been a doctress.”

“I shouldn’t have minded. I know how much people’s talk is worth.”

“Yes,” she said, “I know you would be generous and brave about that– about anything. But what–what if I could n’t give up my career–my hopes of being useful in the way I have planned? You would n’t have liked me to go on practising medicine?”

“I thought of that,” he answered simply. “I didn’t see how it could be done. But if you saw any way, I was willing–No, that was my great trouble! I knew that it was selfish in me, and very conceited, to suppose you would give up your whole life for me; and whenever I thought of that, I determined not to ask you. But I tried not to think of that.”

“Well, don’t you see? But if I could have answered you as you wish, it wouldn’t have been anything to give up everything for you. A woman isn’t something else first, and a woman afterwards. I understand how unselfishly you meant, and indeed, indeed, I thank you. But don’t let’s talk of it any more. It couldn’t have been, and there is nothing but misery in thinking of it. “Come,” she said, with a struggle for cheerfulness, “let us forget it. Let it be just as if you hadn’t spoken to me; I know you did n’t intend to do it; and let us go on as if nothing had happened.”

“Oh, we can’t go on,” he answered. “I shall get away, as soon as Maynard comes, and rid you of the sight of me.”

“Are you going away?” she softly asked. “Why need you? I know that people always seem to think they can’t be friends after–such a thing as this. But why shouldn’t we? I respect you, and I like you very much. You have shown me more regard and more kindness than any other friend”–

“But I wasn’t your friend,” he interrupted. “I loved you.”

“Well,” she sighed, in gentle perplexity, “then you can’t be my friend?”

Never. But I shall always love you. If it would do any good, I would stay, as you ask it. I should n’t mind myself. But I should be a nuisance to you.”

“No, no!” she exclaimed. “I will take the risk of that. I need your