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  • 1919
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let them all reflect in quaint order against the clear sweet mirrors of her faith and hope and charity.

Who but Felicia could have shaken beauty from that first unlovely “by- the-day”? Seamstress after seamstress had come and gone in that impossibly selfish household, the meek ones enduring it until they could endure no more, the proud ones hurrying angrily away; competent or incompetent, not one of them had ever been able to please her exacting employer, yet Felicia, mercifully unaware of the heart aches she would endure within, walked staunchly through the iron gates, with “440 Linton Avenue” boldly wrought in filagree upon their stern panels.

The house was set close to the street but wide side yards separated it from its newer neighbors. It was pretentiously ugly with its mansard roof, intricate porches, balconies and bay windows that had evidently been added after the original architectural atrocity had been committed. At her first glance as the pert and frilly maid opened the door it seemed as though the whole house were filled with innumerable elaborate draperies and fat-framed paintings and much stuffed furniture. While she waited for the maid to announce her, her quick ears caught the nervous undertone of the house–the whining voices of children above stairs, the quick clatter of dishes in the far off pantry and a politely peevish voice that was raised as its owner struggled with an imperfect telephone connection.

“–just at my wits’ end–both maids have the day out,–the children are off my hands for the day–they’re going to be in the pageant–but it is awkward for all that. Uncle Peter’s nurse insists that she has to go out and it doesn’t leave any one to stay with him. Fred is so unreasonable about our leaving Uncle Peter alone. Of course if the Exchange did send the sewing person to do the mending I could go–only you never can tell whether people like that are honest or not–they often aren’t–” The “sewing person” in the overstuffed chair looked straight ahead of her. She shut her lips together and tried desperately not to listen.

“–that’s all I can promise–if the sewing person comes and can sit in the hall–I think it would be perfectly horrid if you had to play a three table–if I can’t get there in time for luncheon I’ll hurry around by half past two–that is if I possibly can.”

Her irritable voice was still raised to telephone pitch as she hurried toward her new seamstress. It wasn’t until she had ushered Felicia into the draughty angle of the upper hall where she was to sew that Mrs. Alden discovered Babiche.

She objected.

Felicia cuddled her tiny dog.

“Why, she’s a precious,” she protested sweetly. “She’ll just stay right beside me if you can find her a cushion–“

She felt very small and meek as she sat taking her wee neat stitches. All about her the unpleasant confusion of the house surged on. The half-grown children departed tempestuously for the pageant, their mother bustled out leaving a trail of half explicit instructions behind her. The last Felicia heard of her voice was a fretful instruction to the cook.

“–and you’ll have to take something or other up to the sewing woman– some of that cold lamb will do–“

Felice wrinkled her nose commiseratingly at Babiche’s questioning eyes. Babiche the elder had hated cold lamb. From the door to her left she could hear soothing murmurs of a voice reading. A carefully modulated voice that evidently cared nothing at all about what it was reading. An irascible masculine “Well, well, never mind that!” frequently interrupted the reader. At noon the voice stopped and a patient nurse appeared in the doorway.

“I’m going down for Mr. Alden’s tray,” she announced primly, “if he should speak will you call me?” Felicia nodded. She stitched steadily. She was putting new rows of lace on a torn petticoat, and so intent was she in joining the pattern of the lace that she forgot to watch Babiche. That inquisitive one was exploring, sniffing cautiously as she approached the invalid’s bed but a second later she was trotting hastily back to her mistress.

“I positively won’t have stray animals about the house,” a quavering voice protested.

This petulance continued long after the nurse had returned with his tray. Felicia could hear the faint rumble of his disapproval even when the door was closed. She glanced up in dismay as the bulk of the cook blocked her light. It was not an appetizing luncheon that that individual banged down upon the lap-board that was propped across the receding arms of the morris-chair to serve as a table. There were some microscopic scraps of the cold lamb, a cup of cocoa on which the surface had long since grown thick and oily, a rather limp looking lettuce leaf with a stuffed tomato palpably left from some former meal. Felicia sipped the cocoa, she dipped bits of the dry bread in it and fed Babiche. She herself ate the lamb and struggled through the salad. She was really very, very hungry. She did not dare let herself think that the food was unpalatable. After it was all eaten she spread her napkin carefully over the empty plates and went on with her ruffle. There was a console table outside the invalid’s door. Presently the nurse appeared and put his tray upon it. She set the door carefully ajar.

“I’m going out for my two hours, I think he won’t want anything. I think he will just doze, he usually sleeps while I’m gone. But he didn’t like his lunch, so I’ll leave it here. If he should call, do you mind taking it in?”

After that the house was still. Felicia finished the petticoat, folded it neatly and began making exquisite darns in a white silk stocking. Babiche lifted her small head and sniffed in the direction of the invalid’s lunch tray. Felicia eyed the tray. You would have known to have looked at that tray and its careful appointment that some one had given it to the invalid for Christmas. The china on it matched so decorously. It was an alluring looking lunch–crisp curled hearts of celery, a glowing bit of currant jelly in a glass compote, half of a delectably browned chicken surrounded by cress, and set in a silver frame was a custard cup filled with the creamiest looking custard that inspired hands had ever snatched from the oven at the psychological moment. It was quarter of one when the sedate nurse left the tray on the desk. At quarter past one Felicia fastened a glove button and sighed. Babiche’s eyes were pleading. At quarter of two Felicia finished a Jacob’s ladder in a long purple stocking. Babiche was sitting up and begging with her paws crossed. Felicia made her sit down by tapping her head with the thimble. At ten minutes past two Felicia had mended two pairs of short white cotton socks.

At twenty-five minutes of three a throaty voice whispered up the stairway,

“Nurse ‘phoned she can’t get back until after four and would I mind giving Mr. Alden his orange juice when he wakes up. It’s in this glass I’m lifting to you–” A moist red hand was thrust through the open space at the bend of the stair casing. “You give it to him if he is asking before I’m back. I’m stepping across the way to my cousin’s for a while–“

At twenty minutes of three Felicia had finished all of the socks save the black ones. The silk for mending them was on the edge of the console table beside the tray. She crossed the space bravely.

She had her hand on the spool of silk, when Babiche stood on her absurd head, a trick she’d not performed before Felice. Her mistress cuddled her.

“You can’t have it, you precious little beggar,” she whispered. “It isn’t for doggies.” At ten minutes of three, another pair of men’s black socks had been added to the basket of completed work. Babiche gave two hungry yelps that sounded painfully loud in that silent house. Felicia struck her again with the thimble and began resolutely putting a new dress braid on a bedraggled serge skirt. At three o’clock a gentle snore emanated from the sick room. At quarter past three Felicia smothered Babiche’s most frenzied bark. At seventeen minutes past three Felicia Day, seamstress, became a thief.

“One simply cannot,” as Mrs. Alden remarked “trust the sort of persons one gets from the Exchange, you never can tell what they might take–“

“They” might take just a bit of chicken skin to feed to a tiny hungry dog. And “they” might lift a bit of chicken wing to hungry human lips and after that “they” might deliberately and delicately eat the rest of it and give the bone to the doggie. And “they” might crunch the bits of celery and eat the last delicious spoonful of the custard– “They” might even do that!

Especially when you remember that except for the dry bits of lamb and the sad tomato Felicia Day and Babiche, her dog, had had no other food save that from Margot’s lunch box since they had left that bountiful House in the Woods.

At half past three, suddenly aware of the enormity of her crime, Felicia put her face into her hands and shook with laughter.

“Oh, Babiche! Babiche! Aren’t we delight-fully wicked!”

Babiche pranced joyously, tossing her bone in the air and worrying it. With a sudden rush the wee dog dashed straight into the sick room, scurried about under the bed and back to her mistress. The snoring stopped abruptly. A waking snort was followed by heavy breathing. And then the quavering voice called,

“Miss Grant–if you’ll bring that confounded tray in I’ll try to eat a bite–“

Felicia’s eyes surveyed the empty tray, her lips moved but she could not speak.

“Miss Grant–I said I’d–“

She stood before him, her eyes dropped demurely to hide her mirth. She had had the presence of mind to bring his orange juice, but when she looked up she felt suddenly very sorry. For he was not a beautiful old man like Grandy. He was wrinkled and yellow and gaunt and cross looking. He was not sad at being old, he was bitter.

Her heart went out to him, her mirth died as suddenly as a frightened child’s.

“Are you really vairee hungry?” she asked solicitously.

Her low voice was not professionally low like the nurse’s, it was just sweetly, normally low–to that irritable old man who lived in a family of shrill voices it sounded like an angel’s. Her smoothly coiffed head and antiquated gown spoke eloquently to him of a past when women dressed as he thought women should dress.

He turned on his pillow and looked at her.

“Lord no! I’m not hungry! I’m never hungry–but what in the Jumping Jehosophat are you doing here?”

“I’m mending. By-the-day, you know. Your nurse went walking. And your cook went to see her cousin. So if you really were hungry–isn’t it lucky you aren’t?–I don’t know what we would do.” She advanced to the bedside. He made her want to shudder, he was so ugly in his long green dressing gown. With his bald head and piercing eyebrows he made her think of a gigantic worm. When he spoke his head waggled just as a worm’s head waggles when it tops a rose bush.

“There was chicken–” he remembered petulantly, “I like that cold–“

“It was vairee good–” Felicia assured him. Just to hear Felicia say “Vairee” mouthing it as Mademoiselle D’Ormy had done, was refreshingly different. “Babiche had the skin and the bones and I had the rest. We stole it, you know–“

Her confession was deliciously funny, her eyes danced laughter though her tone was demurely proper. She was really thinking of Maman lying so lovely in her bed and she was thinking how Maman had talked about amusing people when they were worried and she was thinking that this dreadful old man was the most worried looking person she had ever seen.

His grizzled hand jammed another pillow feebly behind his shoulders. He glared at her.

“Well, well, Miss–Whadda-you-call-it,” he was growing more peevish. “You’ll have to find something for me–“

Her smooth hand stretched toward him as quickly as a prestidigitator’s, with the glass of orange juice. He was too surprised to do anything save drink it, gulping it throatily and handing back the glass with a grunt.

“And of course,” added Felicia with perfect good humor, “I shall have to pay a forfeit–I always did when I took anything from Maman’s tray. If I was caught.”

Her childishness of manner did not seem at all incongruous to him. She was comfortably ageless so far as he was concerned, a drab figure with a pleasant voice who treated him as though he were a human being instead of a sick ogre. In some mysterious way her attitude suggested something that no one had suggested to him for years–the thing called play!

“Forfeits for Maman,” she continued, “meant I had to play chess–you don’t play chess do you?”

He sat bolt upright. His beady eyes gleamed with excitement.

“Miss Whadda-you-call-it,” he retorted, “you go right over there by my desk–open the bottom drawer–there’s chessmen and a board. I’ve been looking for four years for somebody who had sense enough to play chess.”

Babiche trotted at her heels, sniffing at all the new odors about her. Felicia moved easily, she got the chess men, went and brought back her lap-board and sat patiently at the bedside.

Four o’clock, half past four o’clock, five o’clock–there was no sound save the shove of the chess men. The room grew dark–the old man impatiently indicated the light. The little dog curled contently on the foot of the bed, Felicia’s sleek head bent over the board. He was no easy opponent. At quarter past five nurse fluttered heavily in, looked at the bedside and gasped.

“Why Mr. Alden–“

He waved her away.

At half past five, the mistress of the household puffed up the stairway. She paused by the deserted chair in the hallway.

“Where’s the seamstress?” she demanded.

The nurse showed her.

Felicia’s hand was poised over a knight, she looked up gravely and smiled.

Mrs. Alden’s hat with its waving plumes was overpowering enough, but her voice, strident and angry, seemed to fill the whole room.

“Well, really,” she began, “I think that’s the most impudent thing that I have ever had any one do in my house! What do you think I hired you for?”

For a full minute it did not occur to Felicia that the woman was addressing her. And when she knew, she rose slowly, even carefully, so as not to upset the chess-men.

“For two dollars a day–and lunch–” she answered clearly. She hadn’t the remotest idea of being impertinent. She was merely literal. The only thing that saved her from Mrs. Alden’s mounting wrath was the old man’s voice chuckling from his pillows.

“And–” he looked triumphantly at his angry niece-in-law’s snapping eyes, “she had to steal the lunch, by the Jumping Jehosophat, she had to steal her lunch! Why don’t you feed people, Clara–why don’t you?”

“She had a good lunch, I’m sure I instructed the cook to give her a lunch–“

With the annoying cunning of the old he contradicted her. He dearly loved a row with the mistress of the household.

“Cold lamb–” he cackled, “I heard you say cold lamb–“

“Very well, Uncle Peter,” said Mrs. Alden tapping her pointed patent leather toe impatiently, “we won’t argue. I’ll pay the woman and she can go.”

Uncle Peter’s head dropped pitifully, his bravado ceased abruptly, he became a whining child.

“Don’t go, Miss Whadda-you-call-it–I want to finish the game. She can pay you but don’t go. It’s my house, isn’t it?” he fretfully interrogated the nurse, “I guess it’s my house yet even if I am half dead. I’m not all dead yet, not by a long shot–“

The nurse stooped over him professionally but he waved her away.

“Sit down, can’t you?” he demanded of Felicia, “it’s your move.”

Felicia sat down, two spots of color burning in her pale cheeks. She extended her hand over the knight again, bowing imperiously to the angry woman. Five minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes–outside the echoes of the indignant woman’s strident voice came across the hallway. She was venting her ill humor on the children noisily returning from their pageant, on the cook, whose frowsy head appeared at the stair landing for dinner orders, on the patient nurse who pattered about on errands.

“–what we’re coming to–the trouble is I can’t say my soul’s my own– sewing women! Playing chess instead of sewing! The last one couldn’t sew and this one won’t–” She reprimanded a grocer over the telephone, she sent a child snivelling to her bedroom. But the invalid, his eyes intent on the chess board, paid no heed. He moved cautiously, craftily, he had set his heart on winning. And he was too shrewd for Felicia to dare to pretend to let him win.

The minutes seemed like ages but at length, just as the angry voice was subsiding, the old man straightened victoriously on his pillows.

“Check!” he called buoyantly, “Check!”

Felicia arose.

“You play adroitly,” she encouraged him. “And I’m really ra-ther glad I stole your luncheon for here comes your supper. I know you’ll be hungry for your supper–“

She was outside the door, as quiet as a shadow, fastening Louisa’s old bonnet under her chin, buttoning the old coat about her; even before Mrs. Alden was at her side she had Babiche under her arm.

“Here’s your money,” said the woman stiffly.

Felicia shook her head.

“You might as well take it, even if you didn’t work full time. Of course, I won’t want you to come again.”

“No?” Felicia asked with a curious upward inflection.

In the exasperated silence the invalid’s voice quavered out to them.

“Miss Whadda-you-call-it!–Call that woman back here, Miss Grant!” She stepped to his door. “I wish you’d come around sometimes,” he asked her pleadingly, “I do admire a good game of chess–and it’s my house, I tell you, this is my house, even Clara can’t say this isn’t my house!”

“I’ll come sometimes,” she promised, “indeed I will–” she stepped back to her abashed employer. “–you aren’t making him happy,” she murmured passionately, “sick people and old people ought to be happy–” and walked straight down the stairs and out through the ornate gates leaving a discomfited woman behind her.

There were exactly six cents left in the bottom of Louisa’s reticule, –it was when Felicia was passing a bake shop and saw a child buying currant buns that she knew what to do with them. She went in and bought buns. She walked slowly up her own stairs, pausing outside Maman’s door to push the bag of buns back into the niche by the stairway. And stood a moment getting her breath and then reached out her hand.

“Let’s pretend–” she murmured under the turmoil of noises–the house was perturbed at suppertime,–“Let’s pretend you put them there, Maman–“

Safe in Mademoiselle’s room she addressed Babiche firmly.

“That woman, that Mrs. Alden is just a WEED! A weed like the tailor’s missus and the rest. Some one ought to pull her right out of Uncle Peter’s house! She is worse than a weed! She ought to have to be a by- the-day! And sit in a windy hall and sew and sew. And then some one ought to bring her a tray, with messy napkins and just two pieces of dry lamb and a sad tomato–and all the while that she was eating it somebody ought to put Uncle Peter’s tray on the table beside her! With chicken and custard and celery and all! Yes, that’s what some one should do, Babiche!”

Babiche begged gracefully for her part of the buns. They had a delightful time together.

“But I do wish,” she murmured, after they’d settled themselves on the narrow bed for the night, “I could remember whether Mademoiselle ever let the Wheezy have such a dreadful luncheon–I shall ask her tomorrow–“

She did ask her, for she did find the Wheezy, just as she found anything she set out to find, by sheer dint of persistence.

It was late afternoon when she found her. The visiting hours were almost over. The Wheezy never had visitors, she was sitting listlessly looking at nothing at all when the attendant ushered Felicia through the corridor. She was just the same old Wheezy, but more crotchety, smaller and thinner, wheezing still and she turned her dim eyes toward the doorway and called,

“If you want to speak to Mrs. Sperry why under the shining canopy don’t you come in? She’ll be back in a second.”

For several minutes she stubbornly would not recognize Felicia. She grudgingly admitted that she did remember Mademoiselle D’Ormy and that she did recall there had been a little girl, but she was as incredulous as the Disagreeable Walnut had been that this frumpy, drab looking person was that sprightly child. Felicia strove mightily to reassure her.

“Can’t you remember when you used to sew for us at Montrose Place, how I called you the Wheezy and it made you cross?”

Miss Pease admitted that the child had called her that.

“And can’t you remember anything else I did? I mean that the little girl did? For if you could I would do it and then you’d know–“

“She used to whistle–” the admission came slowly after deep thought, “She used to whistle real good, when the old man wasn’t about.”

Felicia sat down on the edge of the Wheezy’s bed. Her eyes were shining. Mrs. Sperry had come back and was sitting by the Wheezy’s window. It seemed that they shared the room. She was staring animatedly at her room-mate’s visitor. From the opened door into the corridor Felicia could glimpse other old ladies, peeping in curiously, hovering about like gray moths at twilight.

She smiled at them wistfully, as she was wont to smile at Grandy, with her heart in her eyes.

“We’re going to pretend something,” she called to them softly, “Would you like to pretend? We’re going to pretend I’m a little girl in a back yard who has been hearing Marthy sing–Marthy sings a song called Billy Boy about a boy who had been courting. She used to say, in the song, ‘Where have you been, Billy Boy, Billy Boy–Where have you been, charming Billy?’ I can’t sing but you shall hear me whistle it–“

The little gray moths of women crept closer, some of them fluttered into the Wheezy’s room. The twilight grew deeper and deeper, and on the edge of the Wheezy’s bed sat little Miss By-the-day and whistled the songs that Marthy used to sing. “Churry Ripe–Churry Ripe–” and “Ever of thee I am fondly dreaming–“

She whistled until some one came down the corridor to light the lights. The Wheezy’s bony hand was on hers, the Wheezy’s tears were falling.

“Why under the shining canopy I didn’t know who you was–” she muttered apologetically, “My soul, I guess it’s because I can’t half see!”

“No, it’s because–” Felicia sighed, “I’m not really that little girl any more. Only the Happy Part of her is here–” she put her hand on her breast. “I’m really old–like Grandy–like Piqueur. I can see vairee well. I saw myself–” she paused, “in a mirror, you know, I was that surprised–” she managed to laugh a little. “But Wheezy dear, there’s a man who has to know that I am Felicia Day. Will you tell him that you know I am?”

The Wheezy promised eagerly. And then Felicia whistled a while longer, because one little gray moth, more daring than the rest wanted to hear,

“I remember, I remember in the years long passed away, A little maid and I would meet beside the stream to play-“

Her quavering voice recited the verses, while Felicia whistled, oh, so softly!

They fluttered after her as she walked down the corridor, the Matron walked beside her and the Wheezy’s arm was through hers. Of course she was coming again, she promised them she would, they accepted her promises with eager queries like children.

“I’ll come another visiting day–” she patted the Wheezy’s shoulders, “I like to! You all are _so_ good at pretending!”

“Do you know,” she told Judge Harlow in the morning, “I did find some one who knows who I am?” Her face was glowing with achievement,

“Even if you get so old that you don’t look at all as you used to there’s some part of you that people can’t forget. Some Happy Part of you! You really ought to try it! Perhaps there is some old lady up there who used to know you when you were little! If you’d go there some visiting day and whistle for her she’d know you, just as quick! You try it!”

She went away thrilling with anticipation. He had a young lawyer there, who had a great many papers. The young lawyer explained to her that the Justice had asked him to keep track of things for her. And they were arranging it so that in another week, she would possess her house, mortgages, taxes, fines and all, and the thirty days “to straighten things” but she would actually possess it and the tailor and the tailor’s missus and all their dreadful tenants would have to go out, bag and baggage.

She trotted into The Woman’s Exchange at noon, positively buoyant.

“You’ll have to find me another by-the-day,” she announced to Miss Sarah.

“How’d you make out Saturday?”

“I–made–_out_–” Felicia laughed back at her. “She was a WEED, that woman. The old man played chess with me but she didn’t like us to do it. I couldn’t take the two dollars–“

“I’m afraid you aren’t businesslike,” Miss Sarah chided, “you said you needed the money.”

“I do,” Felicia assured her, “that’s why I’m back for another by-the- day.”

Miss Sarah found another job for her, indeed she jotted down several possible places in a small notebook whose florid cover extolled the virtues of Dinkle’s Cough Syrup.

“This would be a good book for anybody so unbusinesslike as you,” she confided as she presented her client with it. “In the back here are pages to write what you earn and what you spend and to keep track of the days you are going out.”

It fitted nicely into the reticule. Felicia felt competent with it there. She used to take it out at night and write in it. It had double entry pages labelled grandly “INCOME” “EXPENDITURES.” With the first pages Felicia wrote a letter to Margot, a masterly letter in which she bade her servant tell Zeb that the filthy dirty heathen were going to be sent away, a letter in which she warned Margot that unless Grandy were too unhappy she would not go back to the House in the Woods until the house in the city was clean once more. She explained that certain legal matters had to be attended to. The round stroke of her pen seemed to proclaim her complete confidence that they could be attended to satisfactorily. But the postscript begged Margot to tell Bele to stay all he could with Grandy, “If Grandy looks at the chess board tell Bele to put the men on it and shove a man every time Grandy pushes one–you must all keep Grandy happy.” And the last postscript of all said, “The narcissi are lovely, I have them in my room!”

Which was quite truthful. She did have narcissi in her room! Their fragrance almost overpowered her. She lay in the darkness and pretended that they were in the garden and that she was lying on them. She had been most businesslike about them. If you could have audited her accounts in Dinkle’s Cough Syrup you would have seen on the page where she first began her reckoning,

Two dollars Bone–five cents
Apples, cakes and sandwiches forty five cents
Narcissi One dollar.”

It is delightful to relate that no one ever in all this world purchased more narcissi for one dollar than Felicia bought at the florist’s stand that wonderful evening when she made her first expenditure from money she had actually earned. She looked so tired and wan in her frumpy old clothes that the florist’s clerk, who was a sentimental young thing, assumed she must be purchasing them for some one’s grave. Even though he might be foredoomed to lose his job, he recklessly tied up the whole bundle that her hand had indicated.

“Honest, she made me feel like I oughta be giving things away instead of selling ’em,” he apologized to his astounded boss, who had met the new customer on her way out, “Honest, she got me hipped!”

In spite of the “heathen,” in spite of taxes and fines–in spite of the fatigue that still remained from those days of travel and hunger, in spite of the strangeness of sitting all day stitching, in spite of even the fierce longing, whenever she passed a telephone, to speak with Dudley Hamilt, Felicia found herself–happy, happy with the same haunting happiness with which she had long ago untangled the puzzle of the lost garden, happy with the aching happiness that longs to attain and trembles lest it cannot.

“Babiche,” she chattered, “When I was young, like the girls in Piqueur’s song I found my fun in spring forests; but now–” she was looking out across the river at the gleaming towers of Manhattan, glimpsing the jewel-like line of trolleys crawling slowly over the lighted bridges, watching the busy shipping that scurried over the harbor in the violet and bronze evening, “Now I find it in spring cities–“

She consulted the garden book much, peering bravely down into the appalling rubbish heaps of her beloved back yard.

“All of the ivy isn’t gone and there’s wistaria and we can make new ivies from slips, next spring it must be just as it used to be. Perhaps we can find the old benches, I know exactly where to build the paths. We will have to get some pebbles to make the paths. We must plant plenty of narcissi again, Babiche. Because some day, there might be some other girl who lived in this house and who walked in the garden and when Her Night came we would want it to be just as lovely as it was That Night–“

She had no definite girl in mind, she had not really, although she thought she had found the “pattern” of what the house was to be, she only longed to get the “filthy dirty heathen” out and make things orderly as they once had been. I doubt if she had yet visualized anybody as living in that house, save Maman and Grandy and herself. Yet even before the heathen were out she had brought home a girl–the Sculptor Girl, the first of those starry-eyed young humans who were to call the house their own.

It happened this way. She set forth on a cloudy, threatening over-warm morning, Babiche under her arm, toward a new address, a morning so palpably “growing” that she longed to be planting. She had promised herself eagerly that the very day when the heathen were gone she would plant some ivies. She was pretending vehemently that the heathen were gone and that she didn’t have to be a “by-the-day” yet before night she was exclaiming passionately, “I am proud, proud, proud I was a by- the-day–“

The new place was not a hard one. A fat, seemingly good natured employer awaited her, a boarding house mistress who had curtains to be mended and napkins to be hemmed, who was dubious about taking the applicant when she discovered she could not use a sewing machine but who decided on second reflection (aided by the fact that she had just discovered that her sewing machine was not in repair) to allow Felicia her day’s work.

The vestibule doors were embellished with gilt lettering that proclaimed the place to be


Mrs. Seeley did not object to Babiche. Indeed she kissed the top of her nose so resoundingly that Babiche was terrified and Felicia stared with amazement. It had never occurred to her that any one ever kissed a dog. If Felicia had been left comfortably to her own devices at her previous “places” she quickly discovered that the Seeley household made rather an event of the seamstress’ coming. There was no necessity for stealing a lunch. Indeed, when lunchtime arrived she was ushered into the basement dining-room and invited to eat with the rest of the family and as many of the “select boarders” as appeared. It was not a good luncheon. But to Felicia it was an extraordinarily gay function. For at the table was Mr. Perry, immaculately groomed in a discreet uniform. Mrs. Seeley introduced them with a matter-of-fact statement of their occupations.

“Miss Day, meet Mrs. J. Furthrington’s chauffeur–Miss Day is sewing for me–” she poured their teas impartially. It appeared that Mrs. J. Furthrington’s chauffeur did not often grace the boarding house for his meals. He usually, as he expressed it “ate wherever the run was.” He talked with whimsical despondency of his job which, it appeared, was new.

“Good gracious,” chaffed Mrs. Seeley, “I thought you’d felt grand from associating with swells and changing your rooms–“

“Well I feel swell,” he admitted dubiously, “but in a way the job gets my goat. Munition millionaires, that’s what I’m working for, can you beat it? Last year in a Canarsie bungalow and this year a-riding in a Rolls Royce! Everybody to his taste–mine wouldn’t be for nobody else driving my car no matter how much spondulex come my way. It will be me for the little old low down ‘steen cylinder racer when I get my pile–” he slid his long body under the table and grasped his plate as a steering wheel, “‘Poor, get out of muh way!’ my horn will yell–“

His fellow boarders laughed uproariously, his landlady wiped tears from her eyes.

“Hain’t he comical?” she appealed to her sewing woman.

Felicia viewed the redoubtable Mr. Perry with amused eyes.

“He’s vairee good at pretending–” her shy approbation came. He winked at her.

“Any time you want a joy-ride, call on me!”

Which fresh sally seemed to explode uncontrollable mirth about the basement dining-room. Flapping his wonderful gauntlets together he called a farewell from the doorway.

“Only get a different bunnet–” he waved Louisa’s from the peg on the hall rack, Felicia didn’t mind in the least, she was mouthing this new phrase “Joy-ride,” it sounded delightful. All the same she rescued her bonnet and carried it upstairs with her. “I love that boy like a plate of fudge,” confided Mrs. Seeley as she and Felicia were ascending to the ornate bedroom where the sewing was waiting. “He’s the life of the place. Everybody likes him. I don’t know what there is about him, he hain’t so handsome but he certainly is poplar. Yet Dulcie won’t stand for him–Dulcie thinks he’s fresh.”

It appeared that Dulcie was not pleased with anything or anybody. Especially when she was having one of her “spells.” Mrs. Seeley rocked violently as she recounted to her new seamstress her trials with Dulcie.

“She’s a caution. In a way I do owe her a livin’. She’s my husband’s niece I know, that is by his first wife y’understand. She wasn’t even exactly his niece. But on account of his havin’ to use Dulcie’s money in his plumbin’ business we agreed to give her her livin’. Al kept her in a nart school, a swell art school when we was first married. That was a mistake. I said to him many a time to mark-my-words, it would be a mistake. Of course when he died I didn’t feel it was up to me to keep her in a nart school. So I took her right into the family, same’s I’d take you or anybody. But it’s no use. All she does is mope. Even Mr. Perry can’t cheer her up, though he tries.

“Says he to her only last night, ‘Cheer up, I’ll take you a nice ride down to the morgue.’ I thought everybody’d die laughing to hear him but she just got up and stalked out of the dining-room like somebody had insulted her. And I can’t get a peep out of her today. Just this noon I says to her, pleasant enough, because I was short of help, wouldn’t she come down and wait on table, but would she?” demanded Mrs. Seeley bitterly, “She would not. She said she was no scullery maid and slammed the door in my face and went back to her wet mud–“

“Oh, is she building a garden?” asked Felice eagerly.

“Nothing so useful as a garden,” snorted Mrs. Seeley, “it’s clay she’s fussin’ with, thinkin’ she’s going to be able to make statues some day. Statues! What kind of a job is that nowadays! Artist jobs is impractical. Dulcie is awful impractical. I offered to send her to business college, she could make a good living, but no, she’s gotta make statues! With the parks all full of ’em now and that kind of thing going out of style for parlors! I put both my Rogers groups upstairs in the attic when I bought the phonograph–there’s no style to a statue any more. And she wants to learn to make ’em!”

“But I should think,” breathed the seamstress her eyes glowing as she lifted them from her work, “that you’d be proud to have her want to try to make something.”

What Mrs. Seeley thought expressed itself in the bang of the door as she left to answer a strident summons below stairs. But after she had gone Felice became aware of continued sobbing in the next room, a sobbing as penetrating, for all it was not so loud, as that of the noisy Italian baby at home.

For a long time the weeping was sustained and dreary. It never ceased save when Mrs. Seeley came back to give Felicia instructions about her work, but usually after her footfalls had clattered down the stairway the crying would begin again, very softly. Frequently Felicia could hear the pad, pad, pad of stockinged feet. She knew that whenever the crying stopped the grieving one walked to and fro restlessly. After a longer interval of silence than usual Felicia became aware that Babiche was sniffing excitably. The nervous sniff that had always characterized the wee doggies on days when the carbolic water was ready for the rinsing.

Felicia wrinkled her own nose tentatively. Presently she got up and opened the door to the next room. It was empty. But adjoining it was an untidy bathroom with a dark wainscoting and a grimy enameled tub and standing over near the uncurtained window was a boyish figure, wrapped in a man’s overcoat, with a bottle in her hand. She had wept so long, poor girl, that Felicia couldn’t tell very much about how she really looked, except that it seemed to her she had never seen any one so unhappy.

Felicia stood there, an absurdly dowdy figure, Babiche clasped in her arm, and smiled timorously.

“Where is your dog?” she asked sweetly.

“What dog?” demanded a sulky voice.

“The dog you were going to wash–” Felicia’s voice was casual. “With the ‘scarbolic.'”

“I wasn’t–trying to wash any dog–” the girl breathed dully.

Felicia moved quickly, she took the bottle from the girl’s hand. “Then I wish you’d lend me your–‘scarbolic,'” she entreated sweetly, “Babiche really needs a bath.”

The youthful sufferer stared from her tear-stained eyes, stared with all her might at the shabby, frumpy, middle-aged looking little person who had taken the bottle from her hand.

“I can’t stand it–” she sobbed bitterly, “I’ve got to quit–you don’t know how I feel–I feel as if–“

“When you feel that way,” interrupted Felicia quietly, “you mustn’t have a ‘scarbolic’ bottle, that’s a thing that will make you go dead–“

“It’s my own business if I do–I’d rather be dead than the way I am–” she stretched out her arms passionately, “I haven’t room to breathe! I did have that top floor front you know, it was a peach of a place to work. But she rented it to a chauffeur and put me in this hole–oh, oh, when all I asked was room for my model stand and room for my clay –when all I wanted was room for Pandora–you can’t know how I feel–“

“But I do know how you feel!” slender hands cupped the girl’s face. Felicia’s eyes looked through into the girl’s soul. “You feel like ‘I can’t get out, I can’t get out, sang the starling’! Once I did. Perhaps every one of us comes to a time when she feels all shut in–I went out into my garden when I felt that way. It is a big garden but it felt smaller than this room. I cried in it all night long, walking up and down and up and down–quite sure I didn’t want to live any more. But when it was getting to be morning I saw a rosebush by the wall. In a jar. I’d forgotten to take care of it and Bele–he is good, you know, but stupid–had been tending it. Poor Rosebush!

“It was much too big for its jar. Its roots were all cramped and its top all cut back so it couldn’t bloom–you mustn’t prune some roses too much, you know–I’ve just been thinking, that you’re rather like my rosebush. You’re Dulcie, aren’t you? I think I know exactly what you need. If you’d just come along with me–I’ve a big room–I mean I will have as soon as I get the abundance-of-weeds-for-which-we-have- no-name out–I’d just love you to come with me. You’d be proud, proud, proud if you did–

“Listen, that’s Mrs. Seeley coming back up the stairs. She’s bringing me my two dollars. You put on your shoes and when she’s down the stairs I’ll whistle–so–vairee softly. And then you will come out and down we’ll go. It will really be a great favor if you will–it’s a big house, my house and I’m ra-_ther_ lonely–“

It wasn’t until they were outside in the shadowy, rain-sweet street that Dulcie realized she had been coaxed that far. She drew back. “I’ve no hat,” she whimpered, “It’s no use–I don’t want to go–“

“You would,” the seamstress insisted, “if you only knew what fun it’s going to be. And we’ll stop in the Exchange and buy you a cap. It’s a darling cap. I’ve wanted it evaire since I saw it, it’s velvet, rather like a choir boy’s, only it has a tassel.” Her arm was through Dulcie’s, they were really walking along. “And we shall buy our supper there too. Miss Susan has fat jars of baked beans and little round corn muffins and I think she has quince jelly–“

She actually managed to get her hysterical guest as far as the shop without further parley. The girl took the cap and the parcels that Felicia handed her, turning her head away when she fancied Miss Susan was eyeing her sharply. They walked around the corner and into the gateway of that unspeakably dirty house. The girl drew back in dismay.

“Oh, it’s altogether too dreadful–” she exclaimed. “It’s worse than Aunt Seeley’s–I can’t go in–“

But she did go in and up the stairs too, protesting weakly all the way. She was plainly exhausted from her emotions, and clung to Felicia’s arm. And when they were safe in Mademoiselle’s room she looked about her wildly. “It’s an awful place–” she moaned.

“It’s going to be lovely,” promised Felicia stoutly, “It used to be lovely. Look here,” she drew the girl to the window and pointed out across the gleaming river, “that’s what you’ll see every night from your windows. You won’t be in this little room, you’ll be in the big room next, the room that used to be my nursery.”

She wheedled the tired girl into eating a bit. She coaxed her to lie on the bed and watch the stars. She did not talk any more, just listened to sobbing breaths that the girl drew–listened as she sat in the wicker chair with Babiche cuddled in her arms. And presently the girl slept. And Felicia sighed and slept too.

Morning was droll and difficult. An enormous bumping and thumping awakened the sleepers. Cramped and dazed from her uncomfortable night in the chair Felicia jumped up startled; drowsy and bewildered in her unaccustomed bed, Dulcie sat up and stared at her.

“Whatever is it?” Dulcie stammered.

Felicia clapped her hands.

“It’s the weeds–this is going to be a wonderful, wonderful day, Dulcie, you’re going to be so glad–just think! The tailor and the tailor’s missus and all of them are going–“

They were not only going, they had already started. All day long the old house groaned under their leave-taking. All day long Felicia chattered to Dulcie of her plans of how they should find where the old furniture had gone and bring it back; of how they should make the whole house lovely.

Dulcie was shy and silent most of the time, her eyes were still red, she was still numb from her nerve-racking day before, still shamed by the fact that this queer little creature had given her her bed and slept in a chair beside her. Late afternoon found the two of them standing in the empty room that had been the nursery. They had been laughing a little over the absurdity of their situation; the tailor’s missus had removed the bed and chair from Mademoiselle’s room, and they were furnitureless. But Dulcie was waking up mentally after her day of stupor. “Impractical” as her aunt had proclaimed her, she proved the contrary very quickly.

“Steamer chairs,” she decided instantly, “I left two steamer chairs and some rugs over on Ella Slocum’s back porch–I’ll bet we could get a grocery boy to bring them over for us–“

“Only what good will it do?” she tramped about the great room restlessly, “It’s no use, Miss Day, you might better have let me quit –you’ve got troubles enough without bothering with me–“

“Isn’t there room enough?” asked Felicia shyly. “Isn’t it big enough?”

“It’s big enough for the model stand–” she admitted moodily. “It’s a good light. I could paint these silly papered walls–” Felicia sighed. Dear old shepherds and shepherdesses! It was not the gathering twilight alone that let them mist away as she looked.

“Are they so silly?” she asked. “I didn’t know.” But the girl did not answer her.

“It’s no use,” that moody creature was muttering despondently. “There’s space enough but it’s no use. I don’t seem to want to do it any more–I used to sit and dream about how I’d do it and how it would make other people dream just to look–it wasn’t going to be any ordinary Pandora–it was to be a symbol–a symbol of what goes on in your heart when you’re young–before you know about life–oh, I can’t chitter-chatter about it–but I used to think I could make it–“

“Of course you can make it,” Felicia insisted. “Not just now–” she led the girl to the window, “right now, the first thing you’ll have to do is to help me in the garden. Doesn’t it look ugly down there? It used to be lovely. Probably as soon as it’s lovely again you will walk around in it and dream about your Pandora. I used to dream a lot of things in that garden. Some day, while I’m off sewing on my stupid sewing, you’ll come dashing upstairs–and begin! Think what fun it will be when I get home that night! I’ll call out, ‘Where’s my sculptor girl?’ And you’ll call out–‘Here, I’ve begun!'” Felicia waved her hand into the gloom behind them as though Pandora were already mysteriously there. Perhaps she was!

At any rate that was the moment that Felicia won!

The Sculptor Girl laughed, a nervous little laugh, and dashed off to arrange for the steamer chairs. Presently she came back with them and found Felicia had kindled a fire in the Peggoty grate. It was delightfully cosy with two candles burning recklessly on the mantel- shelf and Felicia and Dulcie sitting by the embers of the little fire. They’d had a supper of sandwiches and milk. Babiche was curled at their feet and they were planning excitably what they’d do with the house, when from the depths of the empty hall the old bell shrilled. They’d bolted the doors an hour before when the last of the tailor’s tribe had departed. It was the Sculptor Girl who mustered courage to go down.

“It’s all right,” she called up to Felicia, “it’s Miss Sarah from the Exchange. There’s a Mr. Alden with her–will you come down?”

He was a very apologetic Mr. Alden.

“I know it’s after eight,” he said, “but I’ve had a time finding you. It’s Uncle Peter. He’s–well, Miss Grant and the doctor think he’s pretty bad tonight. He’s a notion he wants to play chess with you, he’s been asking all day. I couldn’t find you till now. Would you come along for an hour or two to pacify him?”

The Sculptor Girl decided for her.

“Babiche and I will wait up for you,” she said. “We’ll wait–“

It was as comfortable a motor as the Judge’s. Little Miss Day let herself rest in its cushions. She felt rather lonely without Babiche, but she was glad she had had her to leave with the Sculptor Girl.

“Maybe the dear old duffer will be asleep when we get there and I can send you right back,” Mr. Alden suggested hopefully. “He was so darned good to me when I was a kid that I can’t let him miss anything I can get for him–Lord knows that’s not much–I thought I could get you right away but I didn’t have any name and I couldn’t find out where you came from–my wife didn’t have your address–“

They entered quietly and were up the stairway quickly. Outside the door he paused, “Just as soon as he is asleep,” he whispered, “you come out and let me know–I’ll be in the library downstairs with some chaps and I’ll phone for the car to come around for you–you’re awfully good to come–” he was a bit awkward.

“Uncle Peter” looked no more miserable than, he had the week before when she had met him, save that his eyes burned deeper. His voice was more petulant, he wasted no time in preliminaries, merely ejaculated a grateful,

“Ah! Why didn’t you come earlier?”

The nurse sat by her light, reading; the chess board lay on the small table; Uncle Peter was propped in his cushions and the game began.

From below stairs Felicia could hear faint echoes of conversations. She had heard the mistress of the house departing in the same motor that had brought them, but a steady rumble of men’s voices and a faint aroma of cigars floated up the stairway. You can’t think what exultation it gave her, just having a sense of nearness to sturdy masculinity after a lifetime of invalids and old folks! She liked the spirit of argument that dimly arose, the eager confab–“It’s not feasible”–“It couldn’t be pulled off”–“Quixotic plan”–“take a mint of money–“

The sheltered sick room was like all her life, but below stairs there were–men! She moved her pawns quietly, watching Uncle Peter’s adroit game. She watched too, something else, the light in Uncle Peter’s eyes. They sparkled.

The room was impossibly hot yet the old man shivered, just as Grandy shivered, and drew his dressing gown closer. Felicia was very tired from her exciting day. She grew paler and paler; the circles under her eyes grew deeper; her forehead was moist; her hand trembled a bit. But presently she heard.

“Check!” She roused herself, she had been playing badly, he had caught her! But he laughed, a feeble, senile laugh, and leaned back, altogether pleased with himself.

“A drink,” he panted and closed his eyes. “Come again, Miss Whadda- you-call-it-“

The nurse’s eyes reproached her as she tiptoed out.

A pert maid arose, from the hall chair,

“Mr. Alden said for me to ‘phone the garage, that the car would be here for you directly–will you sit down–“

There was a bench on the stair landing below them beside an open window. Felicia gestured toward it, and the maid nodded.

She could hear the voices more clearly now, she could even see two of the speakers through an arched doorway. They were sprawled easily in big chairs, a blue haze of smoke floating over them. One of them was laughing,

“That’s all right–we agree with you–we’ll go in your wild scheme if you can find some other fools too–only, I say Dud, before you beat it just sing a couple things, will you? You might be gone six months instead of three and that’s too long between songs. I know you aren’t singing and you haven’t any voice and all that, but just a couple to show there’s no hard feeling–those things you used to–the one that the darkey boy wrote–that Dunbar chap–‘The Sum’–and that other one–“

Others added to the appeal. Some one objected. Felicia caught a brief glimpse of a tall figure, over-coat on arm, the doorway, and a hand pulling him back. But on he came, protesting vibrantly that he never sang any more. He looked up toward the figure on the stairs,

“I believe I’ll run up to say Howdy and Good-by to your Uncle Peter–“

One step, two steps he had ascended before she could actually see him. Then with her heart in her eyes she looked to him–he was so tall, so broad shouldered, so superb in his ruddy blondeness!

“Oh, Dudly Hamilt!” her lips moved. But she leaned back against the shadow of the curtains as he drew nearer.

He was so close she could touch him, he was so close that at last he saw her–that is he saw a little drab person whose figure was lost in a caped coat.

“Beg pardon,” he murmured–and passed her–

She buried her face in her hands. She was too weak to move. She was still sitting with her face thus hidden when he came down the stairway a moment later, calling back to the invalid,

“You’ll be as good as ever when it’s summer–“

The others were waiting for him at the foot of the stairway.

“Un-cle Pe-ter-” called Freddie Alden, “ask Dud to sing ‘Who Knows’ for you.” Uncle Peter did.

And so with her pulse racing madly, with her throat so dry it seemed as though she could not breathe, Felicia Day sat and listened, listened with her trembling hand over her mouth to keep her lips from crying out. Listened to the first firm chords as Dudley Hamilt’s long fingers moved over the keys, listened as he began to sing. He wasn’t using very much voice, just enough to let the melody ring upward to Uncle Peter, round and smooth and inexpressibly caressing. He wasn’t singing as though it mattered especially what he sang, indeed at first the phrasing was careless. But presently his voice soared more freely, it grew vibrant with longing.

“Thou art the soul of a summer’s day, Thou art the breath of a rose;
But the summer is fled and the rose is dead; Where are they gone, who knows, who knows?

“Thou art the blood of my heart of hearts, Thou art my soul’s repose;
But my heart’s grown numb and my soul is dumb–“

The song stopped abruptly.

“Sorry. Can’t sing it.–‘Night, Uncle Peter. ‘Night everybody–” A door banged.

“Gad, he’s a queer chap! If I had his voice I’d sing–” she caught the fatuous phrases of the man who had laughed but after that she was no longer sure of herself. She could only hear the muffled rise of her own sobbing.

The chauffeur asked a respectful question at the doorway.

“Why, yes,” answered Freddie Alden, “the maid ‘phoned–wait a minute– Hullo–” he called. But a second later he was racing upward,

“I say, Miss Grant–this little woman here–she’s fainted–“



Of Janet MacGregor and why she couldn’t abide Mrs. Freddie Alden the Poetry Girl once said epics could have been written. Janet was gaunt and wiry, the relict of the late Jock MacGregor, who had cared for Uncle Peter Alden’s horses for a lifetime and died leaving his savings and a bit of life insurance to Janet, together with an admonition to “keep an eye on Mr. Peter.”

Janet did. She dropped into the Alden kitchen frequently of an evening to glean a melancholy satisfaction from the morbid details of Uncle Peter’s lingering betwixt life and death. Whenever–which was frequent–there was an upheaval in the Alden’s domestic arrangements, Janet filled in the gaps, spoke her mind freely to Mrs. Freddie, secure in the knowledge that Mrs. Freddie wouldn’t talk back until a new cook arrived, and usually departed in a wholesome rage–which didn’t at all deter her from accepting Mr. Freddie’s sizable peace offering.

To see her “washing oop” after dinner on an evening when she was about to depart FOREVER–or anyhow until Mr. Freddie came for her again–was a tremendous sight. Especially on an evening when at the highest moment of her justifiable wrath Mr. Freddie would appear and nonchalantly suggest a “few eats for some chaps who’d dropped in” as casually as though Janet were not already on the verge of explosion. Of course she would prepare the lunch, stabbing the bread-saw viciously into the defenseless loaf and muttering dark things as she assembled something she called “old doves” on a big Sheffield platter. Janet couldn’t cook at all but she could arrange things as beautifully as her ancestors did–and they had been a race of public park gardeners! There wasn’t anything she couldn’t do with some parsley, a can of sardines and the cheese that was left from dinner. And then she would wait grimly for the platter. Not for anything, even though she were leaving FOREVER, would Janet let the remnants remain to stain that sacred platter. Besides if she waited she always had a fine chance to growl whimpering things about what an hour it was for a decent widow woman to be a-walkin’ the roads and to agree, feebly, oh very feebly, that maybe Mr. Freddie was right, that it wouldn’t hurt the chauffeur to drive her back to her tiny flat.

This particular evening Janet had been speaking her mind so freely that the new dining-room girl had fled absolutely dazed by Janet’s dark threat that, Mr. Peter or no Mr. Peter, she, Janet MacGregor, would never let her shadow rest again on the Alden walls. She would tell Mr. Freddie that, she would let him understand that she didn’t have to take Miss’ Alden’s lip, that she, at least, wasn’t married to her, that she had some spirit left even if she was a widow woman. And that she wasn’t dependent on the Aldens nor anybody else. That she was going to quit service of any kind–day of week or month. She had a grand chance to open a window-cleaning emporium. She could get the ladders and harnesses and chamois scrubs for almost nothing from the widow of a boss cleaner who had cleaned a twenty-second story window without the aid of one of his own reliable harnesses. She didn’t care so much for her flat anyhow. She was going to find a basement, she was, with a long hall to keep the ladders in and a sunny front room for her to live in and put her sign in the window. But with the Aldens she was through–unless, of course, Mr. Freddie wanted to give her a window-cleaning contract.

She had been loitering near the pantry door shamelessly eavesdropping during Dudley Hamilt’s song because she hoped that meant the gentlemen would be going and that she could air her grievances while Mr. Freddie smoked and chuckled at her grumbling. So that when Mr. Freddie called for Miss Grant, Janet was on the stairs a good three seconds before that professionally calm person appeared.

Janet sat on the landing window seat and cuddled Felicia in her thin arms, crooning over her like a setting hen.

“There, there–don’t ye mind her–” she lifted glum eyes to Mr. Freddie as she soothed the sobbing woman, “It’s this that Miss’ Freddie’s tantrums brings the help to! Many a time have I masel’ felt like givin’ way the way this poor soul is givin’ way. It’s on’y ma fierce pride that saves me–don’t ye cry over Miss’ Freddie’s way o’ speakin’–“

“It wasn’t Mrs. Freddie, it wasn’t anybody–” Felicia lifted her streaming eyes from Janet’s spare bosom. She was deeply chagrined that the group hovering on the stairway could see her tears. “It was just that–I was tired–that Uncle Peter’s room was rather hot–that I liked to hear the man sing–I’m vairee well–” Her drawling “vairee” sounded anything but well, it was almost a sob in itself. “Truly vairee well–“

She was still “very well” a few moments later when she and Janet settled themselves in the luxurious car. They were the oddest pair. Janet’s bonnet and shawl were as battered as Felicia’s garb; exhausted as she was Felicia found herself whimsically wondering how she’d tell herself from Janet when it was time to get out. Felicia’s tears had dissolved in little smothered hysterical sniffs. She was laughing at Janet’s scolding because the seamstress had refused to take what Mr. Freddie had tried to give her just as they were stepping into the car.

“It’s worth ony money to Mr. Freddie to have Mr. Peter snatch a bit of contentment from life–and Mr. Freddie is that prodigal with money that if you don’t take it of him he’ll hand it to the next one–“

“But I can’t take money for playing–chess is only playing, its only for work we should take money.”

Janet snorted. She talked volubly in her rich broad Scotch. Agitated as she was, Felicia’s own lips were mouthing these strange new sounds, she was sure she could get the gutteral A, she wasn’t sure of the burry R. She couldn’t heed at all what Janet was saying, indeed she couldn’t listen intelligently, because her tired ears were still filled with the glorious harmonies of Dudley Hamilt’s unfinished song. When she shut her eyes she could see his tall figure swinging up the stairs–she was trying to convince herself that she was really glad that he hadn’t recognized her, when the car stopped before her darkened house. Janet got out first, haughtily dismissing the chauffeur with the assurance that she could walk the four blocks over to her own house and she’d not leave a clean car in such a dirty street as Montrose Place.

Dulcie was waiting on the old balcony. Babiche trotted ahead of her when she opened the door, in ecstacy at Felicia’s home coming. Dulcie set her flaring candle carefully on the newel post and eyed Janet.

“It’s Janet MacGregor with me, Dulcie. She’s a widow woman. This is Dulcie Dierckx, Janet, you’ll like Dulcie–” She had Babiche in her arms now, and was leaning wearily against the balustrade, “Janet was good to bring me home–I was a silly fool–I cried, Dulcie–“

Janet was peering curiously into the empty house.

“Is onybody livin’ here?” she demanded. “I thought I saw them all movin’ out–I heard the building was comin’ down to make room for lofts.”

Dulcie answered that it wasn’t, holding the door open as a tactful hint that she’d better go. But Janet had no intention of leaving. She had a woman’s curiosity about a vacant house, and she was frankly looking things over, craning her neck to glance down the murky hallway.

“Would you think the basement might be to let to a decent body? It’s no worth much, so old and all but I know a body as might conseeder it.” Impractical as the “beastly step-aunt” had proclaimed her to be Dulcie grasped Janet’s thin arm.

“How much would you pay?”

“Is it your hous’?”

“It’s Miss Day’s–” Dulcie nodded toward Felicia. “She’s just been thinking she might rent part of it. Of course its altogether too large for her.”

“If she’s livin’ here where’s her furnishings?” demanded Janet cannily.

Felicia sat down on a stair. She motioned but the others remained standing, their lean figures casting grotesque shadows in the flickering light of the candle.

“This is the pattern of it,” the little seamstress explained. “It’s my house, Janet MacGregor, only it’s dirty because while I was gone building my garden, some dirty filthy heathen came to live here. But now I’m home His Honor made them all go away. And as soon as I have earned enough money to pay the taxes and other things I shall make the house lovely again. The furniture is in a place called storage. I think I have to pay them something before I get my things, don’t I, Dulcie?”

“What’s the matter o’ the storage bills?” demanded Janet her eyes gleaming.

Dulcie answered her, her sharp slangy syllables falling incisively after Felicia’s low drawl.

“I don’t know that it’s any of your business but they amount to about two hundred dollars. I know what you’re thinking, that with the furniture we could open a rooming house. I’ve been thinking that myself while Miss Day was gone. I’ve experience you know, my beastly step-aunt does make a good thing of it. So if you wanted to rent the basement and had some furniture of your own Miss Day might consider it.”

Janet’s thin arms rested akimbo. She nodded.

“If you’ve lodgings to let you’ve got to have some one to keep ’em tidy. There’s a good bit o’ money there for an able body. If the furnishings is what she ree-presents and you’d conseeder takin’ me in on shares–I might conseeder–“

“Consider what?” gasped Dulcie.

“Conseeder advancing for the storage of the furnishings–with the furnishings as security o’ course. And doin’ some cleanin’ toward the matter o’ what ma rent would be. Mind I’m no sayin’ I would until I see the furnishings. I’m on’y conseederin’–I’ll have the matter o’ some ladders–” she peered again down the dark hallway, “and I’d want a neat ticket in the window–“

At midnight, by the embers of their dying fire, Felicia lay with Dulcie’s rug about her, plaintively pretending from the feel of the chair, that she was the young Felice of those long years ago, journeying toward the beloved House in the Woods. It was an easy pretense for she could glimpse the dark waters of the bay and the silent ships drifting on the tide. A spring fog seeped through the open windows and she was quite as miserable as she had been on that memorable trip. Beside her in her own chair, Dulcie talked and talked, a thousand details that Felicia’s tired wits could not follow. It did not seem at all a miracle to her that she had found Janet. She accepted her with the simplicity with which she accepted any one who came into her life.

“The garden is a little old pippin,” Dulcie boasted. “We can make that all O. K. in a day or so, but the house did stump me! Janet MacGregor is an angel sent straight from heaven. If I ever get a commish’ to sculpt an angel I shall use Janet MacGregor for my model, little Miss By-the-Day,” she sighed drowsily, “your middle name must be Luck.”

“My middle name is Trenton,” answered Felicia literally. “Dulcie, I am going to tell you something. Something you must remember. When our little garden is lovely again, if any one–ever–kisses–you out there and you love him–don’t let any one take you away from him. Because it might be too long afterward that you come back–you might be old like Grandy and Piqueur–so that he wouldn’t know you when he saw you. He wouldn’t know that you were the–Girl,–“

Something in the level flatness of her tones almost broke the Sculptor Girl’s heart. She reached out her hand and caught Felicia’s and gripped it hard. She did not say much but what she said Felicia found strangely comforting.

“Why–” her reply was the breathless reply of discovery, “I hadn’t noticed till now–_how young your hands are!”_

They awoke to the dazzling wonder of the new day, a bit stiff from their unaccustomed couches but exuberant over the adventure. Almost before they had finished their simple breakfast the excited Janet MacGregor appeared.

It was Dulcie Dierckx, impractical Dulcie Dierckx, who took charge. She was a very different person from the hysterical girl that Felicia had brought home with her two days before.

“You’d better go to your by-the-day.” Dulcie was almost saucy. “Babiche and I will stay and guard the fort. I’ll show Janet all the dirt, I think there’s enough to satisfy even her unholy craving–and then if she still wants to go into the deal I can go to the storage place. I know I could arrange it because I did it once for Aunt Jen; it’s a bore, it takes all kinds of time, you’d hate it and–” tears threatened, “unless I’m doing something for my keep I can’t stay.”

Little Miss Day agreed gratefully. She departed with tactful discretion before Janet and Dulcie began their argument. Which was some argument! But in the end they came to something like a feasible plan and when they did–! Ah! if you could have seen what those two accomplished that day! Each put the other on her mettle. They did wonderful team work. Janet agreed readily enough when she saw the massive furniture that she had ample security. Dulcie fairly browbeat the storage manager, and between the two of them they actually arranged for a small van load of furniture to be delivered at Montrose Place before dark. As for the rest of it, Dulcie had a wrist-watch, that for all we know is still reposing in the dusty pawnbroker’s at which she cheerfully hocked it. She’d always wondered why she had it and I don’t believe she ever remembered to go back for it. And Janet had a nephew, a cross-eyed nephew, who was an odd-job man. Can’t you see Dulcie buying the bags of creamy kalsomine and the brushes and Janet packing up her pails and scrubbing things?

There never was such a polishing, such a mopping, such a scrubbing such a–whisper!–fumigating–since the old house had been built! They’d sense enough not to try too much. They confined their efforts to the nursery, Janet’s basement room and Mademoiselle’s old quarters. Dulcie knew she mustn’t touch the shepherdesses there. Felice had told her about the battle royal with the sponge, but in the nursery–well, the crossy-eyed nephew couldn’t work fast enough to suit Dulcie. She feverishly grabbed a brush herself and slashed about delightedly in kalsomine. Janet bossed the nephew and Dulcie, Dulcie bossed Janet and the nephew, the nephew nearly uncrossed his eyes from trying to follow all the instructions the two shouted at him.

At quarter after six when Miss By-the-Day climbed slowly up the stairs, reaching out delightedly for Babiche, who had been sleeping in the top-most niche of the stair, two tired and aching women flung open the door of the nursery. They were smiling. Neither of them could think of a thing to say, but a curious mingling of odors told their story for them. The freshness of the clean, scarcely-dried, kalsomine, the faint tinge of smoke from the bit of fire, the delicious soapy cleanliness and a wholesome whiff of barley broth floated out into the dusty hallway to the little person on the stairs. She looked through the doorway and saw clean walls, creamy yellow; windows that glistened, a glowing fire, a tiny table spread for two–Janet knew her place!–Grandy’s fat sofa under the dormer windows, the stately hall table flat against the side wall, Maman’s chaise-longue, the slender chaise-longue with its flowered chintz cushions, beside the fire–

When Felicia saw that she reached out her arms and sighed contentedly, rapturously–

“Oh! it’s home–it’s really home–“

Who shall say which of them won the greater triumph in those mad April days? Sometimes it seemed as though it must be the valiant Janet, who fought with soap and brushes and won Gargantuan victories over squalor and filth. Sometimes it seemed as though it were the belligerent Dulcie, who bravely tried to forget that she had ever wept over “wet mud” and wanted to die–die! Why, she couldn’t live hard enough, the days seemed so short! She threw herself heart and soul into the fray; she grubbed in the bit of garden, she toiled upstairs and down with the clumsy paint brushes. Whenever she lacked for pence she strode forth to the art school where she had once been a pupil in the days before “Uncle Al” had put her money into the disastrous plumbing venture, and boldly demanded the right to pose at fifty cents an hour. With the bravado born of her new grip on life she brazenly descended on the “beastly Aunt Jen” and demanded and received her trunks and personal trinkets.

As for Felice, her victories were humbler–they were small, silent victories over Self. In the long hours while she sat sewing she fought out her little battle–the battle of hating uncongenial toil. It was not easy, for she had an honest hatred of it.

Not even the goal in sight could make her like being a “by-the-day.” Moreover as she grew wiser in the matter of reckoning she realized the utter impossibility of actually earning, with her hands, the appalling sum that she owed. She could only work on blindly from day to day, hoping, hoping against hope that she would find the Portia Person. She never gave that up. Long hours after her day’s work was over she kept following elusive trails that led nowhere. She would never admit defeat in that respect. She would find him and she was sure that he could solve the difficulties that beset her.

Slowly she was evolving a philosophy of life. It began with a bitter feeling that she had been cheated, that Grandy hadn’t been fair to her, to let her grow up so ignorant of life, so ignorant of the ways to earn a living. But gradually she began to discover that neither Grandy nor Mademoiselle nor Maman herself could have taught her to live.

“It’s my stub, stub, stubborn way–” she chided herself, “I won’t let any one tell me–I think it’s only when I work that I learn–Work! that’s the thing to learn with–it’s like the ‘Binnage’–the second digging of the garden to make things grow–its not pleasant but after all–it must be done.”

Next she found out that it wasn’t enough to work–you must like to do it! Janet now, she _liked_ to clean–and so she did it beautifully, did it superlatively, whereas when Dulcie or Felice tried, it was only half done. So Felice set herself to “like to” be a “by-the-day.”

And that was the time she discovered that to like to do anything you must make it genuinely amusing.

“We should be immensely gay when we’re working, shouldn’t we, Dulcie?” she asked one evening when they leaned far out of the windows to watch the ships in the harbor. “Think how gay the sailors are. I remember one who whistled while he cleaned the deck–he did it very quickly, much more quickly than the stupid boys who didn’t whistle–I think when I sew I shall whistle,–not aloud–” she laughed, “it would wake folks’ babies! But in my heart–“

She watched Janet vigorously sweeping the area-way.

“Look Dulcie, it’s not the way that she does it that matters–you and I brush as hard–but it’s because it’s Janet brushing–the broom acts as though it were Janet instead of just a broom–isn’t it delightful? I shall have to make my needle me–and you shall–“

They were silent. All had not been victory for poor Dulcie. There was the model stand and the tools and the “wet mud,” but the part of Dulcie that had wanted to create seemed dead–it seemed to have died back there that day when she had tried to die in “Aunt Jen’s” house. Morning after morning when Felice went away she would encourage her. She would assure her that when she came back at night she would hear Dulcie calling “It’s begun.” But alas, it never was–it was only by keeping madly, tempestuously busy at other things that Dulcie endured the nag of some of those April days. Sometimes she gave up entirely, flung herself prostrate on the sofa under the dormer windows and wept until she was no longer Dulcie, until she was merely a limp rag of a human who wouldn’t even speak to Felice, who actually cursed when Janet tried to bring her soup.

But somehow or other the three of them squeezed and bumped along, a precarious existence really, which would have been utterly impossible if it hadn’t been for Janet. She it was, who held the purse strings. She it was who cooked sad looking, unpalatable, but none the less nourishing, stews and broths. You should have seen Janet during one of those solemn conclaves with the young lawyer whom Justice Harlow had assigned to the case. He was a frankly gloomy lawyer. He was sure they were wasting time and money and energy in their attempt to make the house habitable–he didn’t believe it was possible, he didn’t think that even another thirty days extension of time could be procured and as for the debts on the property, they looked to his impoverished purse like the combined national debts of all the Americas. He was a very young lawyer. He was sorry, he said he was sorry, protesting that he was doing everything on earth he could do to help “The Case.” He always called the house “The Case.”

Janet called him back one night after the two younger women had left. She informed him bluntly that she didn’t think he was anything much of a lawyer. He retorted hotly that he’d done everything any lawyer could do. Janet eyed him cannily.

“Where might ye be livin’? You’re no married?”

He admitted his single blessedness; he named his address; he on further urging named his room rent. And Janet came back at him with a practical ferocity that was magnificent.

“If you’re so keen on helping my little lady why are ye no livin’ here and paying her rent?”

He murmured things about neighborhoods and slums and not being able to afford to live in such a hole and appearances and other futile excuses. But in the end he followed her meekly up the stairway and was shown the glories of Grandy’s old room. It was a huge cavern of a room, a whale of a room, with a curtained alcove holding a stately bed, with wide windows overlooking the bay and a low squatty chair beside the fireplace. While he was looking Dulcie tripped down the stairs and winked solemnly at Janet. And she too assailed him. He hadn’t an argument left when the two of them were through with him. He felt like a henpecked Mormon husband; he was red with wrath at the Sculptor Girl’s cool bossiness; he loathed the very idea of living in the same house with such a person. Especially when she told him bluntly, that he’d have to go to Felice and beg to be taken in. Felicia mustn’t know that he’d been “influenced” she put it.

In the end he capitulated, clambering up to the nursery and tapping meekly on the door, stammering as he made his request.

But he’d his reward straight with–the reward of her wide, sincere smile.

“How stupid I was not to offer it to you! Of course you must have longed for it directly you saw it–oh, do you know I think you must have felt it was just the place for a lawyer! Shall I tell you something–” she was down the stairs, running like a girl to point out the wonders of the room. “You see Grandy’s father was a Judge and he knew Louisa’s uncle–It was Louisa’s uncle who used to live in this house and both those men used to sit in this room and talk and talk and talk–Mademoiselle told me about it. You shall have Grandy’s father’s picture over the fireplace. We shall bring it up from the hall. It’s a beautiful picture–you’ll just admire him! And to think– we haven’t unpacked the books, Grandy’s father’s books–” she smiled over her shoulder at Dulcie as she always smiled when she quoted that slangy young person, “That will be Some Law!”

All the same he was young enough so that he apologized profusely to his friends for having such a disreputable lodging,

“Yep, I know it’s a rookery and a rotten neighborhood, but I have reasons–” he said it darkly as though he were plotting. He didn’t yet know that a very powerful reason was Dulcie. He was so busy hating her, thinking up things to say back when she let her saucy, slangy phrases loose at him that he didn’t know how easily he was learning to love the solemn heavy furniture that surrounded him, the bit of fire in the grate on chilly evenings, and Dulcie herself, poking her head in the door crying,

“How is the majesty of the law? Would it mind lifting a ladder for a poor woiking goil?”

The day he knew that the house was home was the languorous spring day when he stopped to stare at a bowl of strawberries in the niche outside his door. Their purchase had driven Janet almost to drink. She plainly told Felice they’d all end in the poorhouse. But Felice hadn’t minded, she had inscribed a card, on which in her spidery slanting scrawl was written,


“By gad!” he breathed, grinning, “she’s coming on!”

He didn’t protest at Dulcie’s demurely calling him “The Rumor,” not even when she added, “Because as a lawyer, you’re a false alarm.”

He took his humble part in the gigantic house-cleaning. He opportunely called to mind a chance acquaintance in the Street Cleaning department, whereupon an ancient white wings was stationed in the block.

Of course the White Wings couldn’t remove the dingy lace curtains and the grimy lodgings signs from the disconsolate six houses across the way; but he could and did do wonders to gutters and sidewalks. The hordes that had inhabited the great house had really made most of the noise, the “across the street” houses were fairly quiet.

Spring did a lot. She draped new ivy over the dilapidated church and rectory; she let the gray-green leaves of the wistaria flutter gaily over the cornices; she touched with magic the old denuded stumps of the trees of heaven and the back yard became a shaded retreat. Sometimes at twilight when Felice came home, it seemed to her that the long ago look of the street was creeping slowly back–perhaps, of course, it was just that she was growing used to it or else it was the tender light through the old willows that made the spirit of things strangely young again.

She always came home bubbling with adventure now. Dulcie would sit shamelessly smoking a cigarette filched from the lawyer and listen by the hour while little Miss By-the-Day imitated her employers and their maid servants and their man servants and the strangers within their gates. The two women would sit in the back yard on the old iron benches, which Janet had found in the depths of the coal bin. The lawyer would walk grandly about, and chuckle and chuckle while Felicia pretended she was a very fat customer who was always going to begin dieting after “Mrs. Poomsonby’s bridge luncheon.” And when Janet was gone for her bit of walk–the dear soul liked to gossip with her old neighbors four blocks over–Dulcie and the lawyer would laugh until tears blinded them at Felicia pretending she was Janet. Oh, but she was inimitable at that!

Janet arguing with the fish man, Janet experimenting with the telephone the lawyer had put in the hall, Janet simultaneously polishing a window and singing.

“Ouch–” Felicia would pull imaginary rheumatism through an imaginary casement, “Oh weel–oh weel–to look at the du-urt! it’s sickenin’! weel–

You tak the high road
And I’ll tak the low road
And I’ll be in Scotland before ye, Oh, I and my true luv shall never be–

oot of the way below there–summat is drapping–Th’ De’il tak my bit of soapie!–

‘On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.'”

The folk who lived in the rear alley used to lean, sill-warming fashion on their windows, the children shrilly whistling the chorus, the men forgetting their pipes, the women sniffling as women do when they hear old ballads, for of course once Felice had started “pretending” she didn’t stop. A moment after she’d been Janet she’d be Marthy, dear, lean, grizzled old Marthy, dead these many years, singing,

“In the gloaming
Oh, my darling,
Think not bitterly of me–“

It never occurred to any of them, least of all Felice, how many, many hours she spent “pretending.” Two evenings a week at chess with Uncle Peter–(thank heaven Dudley Hamilt came no more–!) Sunday afternoons with the Wheezy’s gentle old fellow sufferers, almost all the other evenings in the garden. She was using ounce after ounce of her precious strength, pouring out her self to the whole world around her, making it laugh, making it weep, making it thrill, making it–work.

She stopped one morning to see Justice Harlow. He stared at her as though it were the first time he had ever seen her. She no longer wore eccentric garb. Dulcie had divided with her. She had a simple hat and a serge frock. She was shabby, to be sure, but it was no longer a ridiculous shabbiness. She was pale and wan, even paler than when she had first come to him but the timidity, the uncertainty, had gone. Her eyes were deeper. They shone like jewels; the softened outlines of her profile were thinner, clearer; her beautiful mouth had grown firm and a bit of gray showed in her hair. She was altogether adorable, like a wee wren after a stormy day. The stilted phrases were slipping away. She spoke more alertly. Bits of Dulcie’s lingo were creeping into her speech. But she still answered with a literalness that took one’s breath away.

“Now whadda ye know about that?” asked the Justice all unconscious that he was colloquial.

“I do not know anything about it,” she said demurely, and added with one of her casual references to the illustrious dead–she treated them all as though they were contemporary–“I think Heloise might know what to do. One of the things Abelard loved about her was that she always knew what to do–she was vairee good at administrating, like Janet, don’t you think?”

All the while she was filling her house–with gentle paupers! Think you how Janet raged the day she brought home the most useless citizen of all–the Poetry Girl.

Felice had been sewing for two or three days for a dentist’s wife, a rather amusing job for she was stationed in an upstairs window that let one look down two streets, and at the other window in the room the dentist’s white haired mother sat and gossiped softly about all the persons who came.

It was the dentist’s mother who saw the Poetry Girl first, a thin figure who walked uncertainly up and down the street, eyeing doctors’ signs. It was a regular streetful of doctors.

“There’s a poor thing that’s lost her address,” crooned Mrs. Miller, “she does look sick. It’s a tooth, too, see how she holds her hand to her face, you can almost see the pain.”

Felice saw, that is she thought she saw. Of course no one could really see such an ENORMOUS pain as the one that was sweeping the Poetry Girl along. It was too big to see.

It was something like this. Orange red, pale blue, E flat minor, acrobatic, Ariel-like in its changes. Sometimes it made her careen heavily toward the curb–that was the time it made her head seem big and her feet very far away. Sometimes she could walk but she wanted to scream, sometimes she felt like a volcano, a Vesuvius of shooting pains, sometimes it hammered at her ears and she couldn’t hear at all. But one thing she remembered all the time, that she had exactly twenty-seven cents in her purse.

She was planning whether she’d better dash up to a door and act as though she had an appointment and give a false address for the bill to be sent or whether she’d better announce she hadn’t any way to pay the dentist and would he take his pay in poetry, or whether she’d just shriek, “Stop it!”

In the end her body decided for her. It just flopped down outside the house where Felicia and Mrs. Miller were watching.

The Poetry Girl was normally very sweet tempered but she wasn’t at all her usual self when she opened her eyes. She was in an operating chair and she looked accusingly at the man beside her.

“You shouldn’t sprinkle me,” she murmured reproachfully, “I’m wet enough as it is and I’ve no rubbers;–” the faint blue shadows under her eyes accused them all. Her thin hand tried to pat her rumpled hair, “I do believe you’ve lost another hairpin for me–I’d only three–” she was petulant, “And if you do pull it I can’t pay you–” she was defiant. “Not unless you need some poetry written.

“Or a play. I can write a play. But I can’t sell knit underwear or I can’t do general housework–I’m only–a toothache–Bobby Burns wrote me–maybe you’ve read me–“

Of course Felicia took her home with her,–that was foreordained from the moment she saw her,–but she had a beautiful row getting her! The Poetry Girl had a “stub, stub, stubborn way” too. She was suspicious, she was wary. She said she didn’t care a damn where she went but she didn’t want any one to take her there. The dentist agreed with her. He took Felicia aside and told her it was his private opinion that the girl was either drunk or on the verge of a nervous breakdown and he thought the best thing to do would be to notify a police matron. In short he was cool and practical. If there was anything Felicia Day couldn’t endure it was a Van Dyke beard on a cool and practical man. She told the Sculptor Girl afterward that it took strength of mind not to pull his silly beard off.

She tucked her thimble in her pocket, folded her apron and asked,

“Will you promise not to let her go till I get my hat?”

“You can’t manage her,” said the dentist, “I tell you she’s irresponsible.”

“So am I,” confided Felicia serenely, “but I’ll come back to-morrow for the sewing. As soon as I get her in bed and Janet brings her some soup she’ll be perfectly all right–“

But all the same it wasn’t easy getting her home. It was a long walk. Felicia hadn’t two carfares and she had forgotten to ask the dentist for money. To make bad matters worse a heavy down pour of rain overtook them a good half mile from the house. Its cool splatter seemed to bring the Poetry Girl to her senses. She laughed a bit.

“What an idiot!” she exclaimed, “you must think me–my name is Blythe Modder, and usually I’m sane. You see just before I went into that dentist’s I did such a fool thing. I bought some patent liniment and put on my tooth and I didn’t notice until afterward that it said ‘external use only’–I was such an idiot–I think it went to my head– I’m very much better now.”

“Well, come along and get some dry clothes and tea anyhow, then you’ll be vairee all right.”

She left her with Janet while she ran for the dry clothes. She left her on Janet’s immaculate bed in Janet’s atrocious dressing gown. Her clothes she unceremoniously turned over to Janet to dry, leaving that practical soul verbose with disgust.

Felicia herself was drenched and she loved it. She was loth to strip the damp clothes off; she felt like running miles and miles in the rain. She was dreamily happy, dreamily miserable; she felt like the day–all tears and smiles both. She dropped the outer garments to floor and pulled her shoes and stockings off. Babiche sat up and begged for a cracker. Felicia stooped, her damp hair clinging to her beautiful forehead, the long scant chemise that had been Octavia’s falling loosely from her smooth shoulders.

“Poor Babiche,” she crooned, “When your mistress does come in–” So intent was she on reaching for the cracker box that she lifted her voice a bit. Dulcie, outside the door ready to tap on it, swung it open just in time to glimpse the charming posture.

Felicia blushed like a sixteen year old. She reached for her dressing gown and pulled it toward her.

But Dulcie Dierckx, slamming the door behind her, leaned against the panels fairly devouring Felicia with her eyes.

“Oh! Oh!” she cried in absolute ecstacy; “Oh, Pandora! Pandora! don’t move! How could I have been so stupid not to have seen you before! Oh, please drop the coat! Oh! Oh! you adorable–you beautiful person–you little old peach!”

Felicia laughed. Laughed her soft, breathless laugh and drew the gown closer.

“You–you’re rather embarrassing–” she sighed, “Though of course,” her eyes danced mischievously, “my knees and my ankles and my insteps are vairee nice indeed–I got them all from Louisa, Margot says–and my hands–” she stretched one out–“They’re Grandmother Trenton’s–and I think I have nice ears–but the rest of me–” she shrugged, “The rest of me won’t do at all–my mouth is too big and–no, I wouldn’t be at all your Pandora–it’s dark here–that’s why you thought you saw her–“

“I saw her,” insisted the Sculptor Girl stubbornly. “And you’d be a brute not to help me–I–look here,” she lied casually, “I didn’t tell you but I’ve managed a bit of money–I’m not asking you to pose for nothing–I can pay you more than you earn at your sewing–“

“Oh, money,” she stammered. “I didn’t think about money–Sculptor Girl–how could you–“

“Taxes,” ejaculated the Sculptor Girl bluntly. “Interest! You can’t forget ’em or we’ll all be back in the gutter you know–So that’s settled–to-morrow morning at nine–I’ll have a good fire–you won’t mind awfully, will you, if I hang wet cheese cloth around you–?”

She was trying to keep the excitement out of her voice but her eyes were sparkling. She no longer saw Felicia, she only saw Pandora–the Pandora of her dreams!

But all the same, after she’d lighted her cigarette in her own room she drew a long breath and pottered about her few possessions until she found something pawnable.

In the shop she bargained coolly enough with the pawn-broker, pocketed the money she fought for and as she was leaving stopped to gaze casually at the motley array of things in the dusty case. She stared unbelievingly at a quaint mahogany box, warily priced two or three other things and finally asked “how much for the damaged writing case?” Ten minutes later she fled with it under her arm. It didn’t look like much. It was quite empty and it would make a nice box for Pandora to be opening. But over and over her heart was pounding,

“It’s the same Bee on it that’s on her brushes–it’s the same Bee she has said was on the silver–it’s–oh, if it only could be hers!”

She burst in upon the Poetry Girl (now warm and snug in some of Dulcie’s own garments) and Felicia sitting by the nursery fire. They were having a friendly little party. Felicia introduced the two girls with the affable hope they’d be nice neighbors. “Blythe’s coming to have the front room next as soon as Cross Eyes can pink-wash it–” Her eyes glimpsed the box, she fairly ran for it, “That’s Maman’s,” she exclaimed, “How did you find it?” She hugged it delightedly; she opened it–“Even its emptiness smells nice,” she sighed.

“Oughtn’t there to be a secrud pocket in it, m’loidy? With the missing will and the dagger he stabbed her with?”

“Nothing like that,” laughed Miss Day with one of her delicious excursions into slang, “it was just for Maman’s writing things–but I’m _that_ proud to have it–“

She was still holding the box when Janet brought up their dinner. After the Poetry Girl had left, she settled herself for her scolding. She knew that she was due for it. For naturally she had to confess that she’d asked Miss Modder to come live in the house.

“What’s she paying?” demanded Janet.

“A good bargain, I made. It’s like this–she writes, you know, so she doesn’t get her money everyday as you and I do, Janet. She’s more like–well, Dulcie when she’s sculpting. So I made a bargain with her that she’d not pay her rent just now, that she’ll pay later. She’s to pay some girl’s rent for as long as she stays herself rent free, do you see? As soon as she can she’ll pay her own rent and she’ll pay another rent too, that’s vairee business like, don’t you think, Dulcie?”

Dulcie solemnly assured Janet she “couldn’t beat it.” She offered to enter into a similar agreement. Janet couldn’t get any sense out of either of them. She retired baffled and defeated.

“All the same,” confessed Dulcie, “You’ve got to quit bringing home losers, Miss Day. You ought to pick one winner just to square yourself with Janet.”

Felicia promised. And, mirabile dictu, kept her word the very next week.

Of all the persons that her mistress brought home Janet really approved of only that one. But that one, as she grudgingly admitted, made up for the whole “shiftless crew.”

“She’s Christian,” she assured Felice solemnly, “A Christian.” Which was the more delightful from the fact that her sect was one that Janet had hitherto scorned as “Irish Roman Catolic.” But just to look at Molly O’Reilly was to know you’d love her. Fat, oh, ridiculously fat, in comparison with the rest of that skinny household–ruddy, glowingly ruddy, beside that pale-faced “crew.” Just by the law of contrasts they adored her when they saw her–especially after they’d tasted her heavenly food.

Miss By-the-Day met her in the laundry of a great house where she’d put in a day mending curtains and table linen. Not a bad sort of job if one had a suitable spot to work in; but a laundry, a steamy, soapy, wet-woolens-smelling laundry is not a comfortable place to sew. By noon Felice wanted to indulge in one of Dulcie’s weeps–she was so nervous–when there entered, bearing a tray, Molly O’Reilly, with her blue sleeves rolled over her dimpled elbows and her red hair lightly dusted with flour.

“Here’s something to put inside you–” she called to the perspiring colored woman who was washing and the tiny white person who was laboriously darning thin net, “something to think on save work.” She stole a keen glance at the seamstress. “Yours goes on this bit of table; Susy, put down the top of your toobs and get a stool.”

Ah, that food! Even Margot couldn’t cook like Molly O’Reilly. Why, Molly cooked as Janet scrubbed, as the Poetry Girl wrote, as the Sculptor Girl modeled–by inspiration! There wasn’t anything on that tray she put before Felicia that hadn’t been made from crumbs that fell from the rich man’s feast. Yet so cunningly had she warmed it, so deftly had she flavored it, so daintily had she garnished it that it seemed food ambrosial. Felicia let her fork slide into delectable crust underneath which snuggled the tenderest chicken she’d ever tasted in her life. Bits of carrots and celery and potatoes drifted idly about a sea of creamy gravy–um–when you go to Montrose Place order “Old Fashioned Chicken Pie.”

The artist who had created this delight sat easily against the laundry sill and grumbled.

“Coompany, coompany all hours. And niver a sound of them reaching the kitchen. Meals from marning till night and me niver seeing them ate. You’d think I’d be contint–the wages is so gr’rand, but honest, Susy, I was happier doing gineral housework for brides at twenty per mont’– at least I’d a bit of heart put in me, I heard something savin’ a voice on the house ‘phone sayin’,

“‘Dinner fur eight at seven o’clock–‘ I’m going to quit. As soon as iver I can find a partner. I’m going to open one of these stylish tea rooms where’s I can peep through the door and see me food bein’ appreciated–“

Can’t you almost hear Felicia talking with her, describing the kitchen and the back yard and the dumb-waiter that goes up to Grandy’s room and stops at Maman’s room and on up to the old nursery? Can’t you see Felicia triumphantly bringing Mollyhome to look it over? And can’t you almost hear the lovely Irish songs that Molly’s mother taught her? And Felicia pretending that she is Molly’s mother? If you can’t, why I’m afraid you haven’t really understood Felicia.

So the days grew longer and sweeter and the little after-dinner group in the garden grew bigger–think of the excitement of the day when the lawyer brought home the architect and his timid wife! They came to live in Maman’s room, the room that Felice had intended to keep for herself. But you’ll know presently why she gave it to them. You remember it was only one flight up. He was a young architect well able to climb but Mrs. Architect couldn’t. And he was a very new architect. Felice said staunchly that she wouldn’t think of having an old fat successful architect around, that he’d be bored with all the small jobs the house needed, but this obliging young one, now HE was quite willing to work hours over where new bathrooms might go–if they ever had any tub money, or where old lattices could be replaced–if they ever had any lattice money. You see the idea was that he could pay his room rent architecting, a “vairee practical” idea Felice assured Janet. But Janet sniffed.

Everybody brought somebody else. Janet didn’t approve of any of them but she did love them all! That was the unanswerable argument about all these persons who flocked to the house in Montrose Place–they were so lovable! Such buoyant souls, who hadn’t quite gotten a grip on life but were pathetically sure that once they did–!

They triumphantly felt that the fact they’d been starving mostly, helped to prove their genius. Though Felice could never see it that way. Long after the rest were in bed she used to walk passionately up and down Mademoiselle’s tiny room.

“They’re all starlings singing that they can’t get out–it’s not fair –not a bit right–they ought not to starve, they ought not to freeze. And folks who say so are stupid! You can’t grow roses like weeds–just anywhere! And they’re going to be the roses in the garden of world– they ought to be in the sun, they ought to be watched so carefully– why can’t the stupid old world see it! But it doesn’t. It just