Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Portygee by Joseph C. Lincoln

Part 4 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download The Portygee pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

about is that Eddie Raymond. Yes sir-ee! Haw, haw!"

"Issy, what makes you make that noise?"

"What noise?"

"That awful cawing. If you're trying to make me believe you're a
crow you're wasting your time."

"Say, look here, Al Speranzy, be you crazy?"

"No-o, I'M not. But in your case--well, I'll leave it to any fair-
minded person--"

And so on until Mr. Price stamped disgustedly out of the office.
It was easy enough, and required nothing brilliant in the way of
strategy or repartee, to turn Issachar's attack into retreat. But
all the rest of that afternoon Albert was conscious of that
peculiar feeling of uneasiness. After supper that night he did not
go down town at once but sat in his room thinking deeply. The
subjects of his thoughts were Edwin Raymond, the young chap from
New York, Yale, and "The Neck"--and Helen Kendall. He succeeded
only in thinking himself into an even more uneasy and unpleasant
state of mind. Then he walked moodily down to the post-office. He
was a little late for the mail and the laughing and chatting groups
were already coming back after its distribution. One such group he
met was made up of half a dozen young people on their way to the
drug store for ices and sodas. Helen was among them and with her
was young Raymond. They called to him to join them, but he
pretended not to hear.

Now, in all the years of their acquaintance it had not once
occurred to Albert Speranza that his interest in Helen Kendall was
anything more than that of a friend and comrade. He liked her, had
enjoyed her society--when he happened to be in the mood to wish
society--and it pleased him to feel that she was interested in his
literary efforts and his career. She was the only girl in South
Harniss who would have "talked turkey" to him as she had on the day
of their adventure at High Point Light and he rather admired her
for it. But in all his dreams of romantic attachments and
sentimental adventure, and he had such dreams of course, she had
never played a part. The heroines of these dreams were beautiful
and mysterious strangers, not daughters of Cape Cod clergymen.

But now, thanks to Issy's mischievous hints, his feelings were in a
puzzled and uncomfortable state. He was astonished to find that he
did not relish the idea of Helen's being particularly interested in
Ed Raymond. He, himself, had not seen her as frequently of late,
she having been busy with her war work and he with his own interests.
But that, according to his view, was no reason why she should permit
Raymond to become friendly to the point of causing people to talk.
He was not ready to admit that he himself cared, in a sentimental
way, for Helen, but he resented any other fellow's daring to do so.
And she should not have permitted it, either. As a matter of fact,
Alberto Miguel Carlos Speranza, hitherto reigning undisputed king of
hearts in South Harniss, was for the first time in his imperial life
feeling the pangs of jealousy.

He stalked gloomily on to the post-office. Gertie Kendrick, on the
arm of Sam Thatcher, passed him and he did not even notice her.
Gertie whispered to Sam that he, Albert, was a big stuck-up
nothing, but she looked back over Sam's shoulder, nevertheless.
Albert climbed the post-office steps and walked over to the rack of
letter boxes. The Snow box contained little of interest to him,
and he was turning away when he heard his name spoken.

"Good evening, Mr. Speranza," said a feminine voice.

Albert turned again, to find Jane Kelsey and another young lady,
a stranger, standing beside him. Miss Kelsey was one of South
Harniss's summer residents. The Kelsey "cottage," which was larger
by considerable than the Snow house, was situated on the Bay Road,
the most exclusive section of the village. Once, and not so many
years before, the Bay Road was contemptuously referred to as
"Poverty Lane" and dwellers along its winding, weed-grown track
vied with one another in shiftless shabbiness. But now all
shabbiness had disappeared and many-gabled "cottages" proudly stood
where the shanties of the Poverty Laners once humbly leaned.

Albert had known Jane Kelsey for some time. They had met at one of
the hotel tea-dances during his second summer in South Harniss. He
and she were not intimate friends exactly, her mother saw to that,
but they were well acquainted. She was short and piquant, had a
nose which freckled in the Cape Cod sunshine, and she talked and
laughed easily.

"Good evening, Mr. Speranza," she said, again. "You looked so very
forlorn I couldn't resist speaking. Do tell us why you are so sad;
we're dying to know."

Albert, taken by surprise, stammered that he didn't know that he
was sad. Miss Kelsey laughed merrily and declared that everyone
who saw him knew it at once. "Oh, excuse me, Madeline," she added.
"I forgot that you and Mr. Speranza had not met. Of course as
you're going to live in South Harniss you must know him without
waiting another minute. Everybody knows everybody down here. He
is Albert Speranza--and we sometimes call him Albert because here
everybody calls everyone else by their first names. There, now you
know each other and it's all very proper and formal.

The young lady who was her companion smiled. The smile was
distinctly worth looking at, as was the young lady herself, for
that matter.

"I doubt if Mr. Speranza knows me very well, Jane," she observed.

"Doesn't know you! Why, you silly thing, haven't I just introduced

"Well, I don't know much about South Harniss introductions, but
isn't it customary to mention names? You haven't told him mine."

Miss Kelsey laughed in high delight. "Oh, how perfectly ridiculous!"
she exclaimed. "Albert--Mr. Speranza, I mean--this is my friend
Miss Madeline Fosdick. She is from New York and she has decided to
spend her summers in South Harniss--which _I_ consider very good
judgment. Her father is going to build a cottage for her to spend
them in down on the Bay Road on the hill at the corner above the
Inlet. But of course you've heard of THAT!"

Of course he had. The purchase of the Inlet Hill land by Fletcher
Fosdick, the New York banker, and the price paid Solomon Dadgett
for that land, had been the principal topics of conversation around
South Harniss supper tables for the past ten days. Captain Lote
Snow had summed up local opinion of the transaction when he said:
"We-ll, Sol Dadgett's been talkin' in prayer-meetin' ever since I
can remember about the comin' of Paradise on earth. Judgin' by the
price he got for the Inlet Hill sand heap he must have cal'lated
Paradise had got here and he was sellin' the golden streets by the
runnin' foot." Or, as Laban Keeler put it: "They say King Soloman
was a wise man, but I guess likely 'twas a good thing for him that
Sol Dadgett wasn't alive in his time. King Sol would have needed
all his wisdom to keep Dadgett from talkin' him into buying the
Jerusalem salt-ma'sh to build the temple on. . . . Um. . . .

So Albert, as he shook hands with Miss Fosdick, regarded her with
unusual interest. And, judging by the way in which she looked at
him, she too was interested. After some minutes of the usual
conventional summer-time chat the young gentleman suggested that
they adjourn to the drug store for refreshments. The invitation
was accepted, the vivacious Miss Kelsey acting as spokesman--or
spokeswoman--in the matter.

"I think you must be a mind-reader, Mr. Speranza," she declared.
"I am dying for a sundae and I have just discovered that I haven't
my purse or a penny with me. I should have been reduced to the
humiliation of borrowing from Madeline here, or asking that deaf
old Burgess man to trust me until to-morrow. And he is so
frightfully deaf," she added in explanation, "that when I asked him
the last time he made me repeat it until I thought I should die of
shame, or exhaustion, one or the other. Every time I shouted he
would say 'Hey?' and I was obliged to shout again. Of course, the
place was crowded, and-- Oh, well, I don't like to even think
about it. Bless you, bless you, Albert Speranza! And do please
let's hurry!"

When they entered the drug store--it also sold, according to its
sign, "Cigars, soda, ice-cream, patent medicines, candy, knick-
knacks, chewing gum, souvenirs and notions"--the sextette of which
Helen Kendall made one was just leaving. She nodded pleasantly to
Albert and he nodded in return, but Ed Raymond's careless bow he
did not choose to see. He had hitherto rather liked that young
gentleman; now he felt a sudden but violent detestation for him.

Sundaes pleasant to the palate and disastrous to all but youthful
digestions were ordered. Albert's had a slight flavor of gall and
wormwood, but he endeavored to counterbalance this by the sweetness
derived from the society of Jane Kelsey and her friend. His
conversation was particularly brilliant and sparkling that evening.
Jane laughed much and chatted more. Miss Fosdick was quieter, but
she, too, appeared to be enjoying herself. Jane demanded to know
how the poems were developing. She begged him to have an
inspiration now-- "Do, PLEASE, so that Madeline and I can see
you." It seemed to be her idea that having an inspiration was
similar to having a fit. Miss Fosdick laughed at this, but she
declared that she adored poetry and specified certain poems which
were objects of her especial adoration. The conversation
thereafter became what Miss Kelsey described as "high brow," and
took the form of a dialogue between Miss Fosdick and Albert. It
was interrupted by the arrival of the Kelsey limousine, which
rolled majestically up to the drug store steps. Jane spied it

"Oh, mercy me, here's mother!" she exclaimed. "And your mother,
too, Madeline. We are tracked to our lair. . . . No, no, Mr.
Speranza, you mustn't go out. No, really, we had rather you
wouldn't. Thanks, ever so much, for the sundaes. Come, Madeline."

Miss Fosdick held out her hand.

"Thank you, Mr. Speranza," she said. "I have enjoyed our poetry
talk SO much. It must be wonderful to write as you do. Good

She looked admiringly into his eyes as she said it. In spite of
the gall and wormwood Albert found it not at all unpleasant to be
looked at in that way by a girl like Madeline Fosdick. His
reflections on that point were interrupted by a voice from the car.

"Come, Madeline, come," it said, fussily. "What ARE you waiting

Albert caught a glimpse of a majestic figure which, seated beside
Mrs. Kelsey on the rear seat of the limousine, towered above that
short, plump lady as a dreadnaught towers above a coal barge. He
surmised this figure to be that of the maternal Fosdick. Madeline
climbed in beside her parent and the limousine rolled away.

Albert's going-to-bed reflections that evening were divided in
flavor, like a fruit sundae, a combination of sweet and sour. The
sour was furnished by thoughts of Edwin Raymond and Helen Kendall,
the former's presumption in daring to seek her society as he did,
and Helen's amazing silliness in permitting such a thing. The
sweet, of course, was furnished by a voice which repeated to his
memory the words, "It must be wonderful to write as you do." Also
the tone of that voice and the look in the eyes.

Could he have been privileged to hear the closing bits of a
conversation which was taking place at that moment his reflections
might have been still further saccharined. Miss Jane Kelsey was
saying: "And NOW what do you think of our Cape Cod poet? Didn't I
promise you to show you something you couldn't find on Fifth
Avenue?" And to this Miss Madeline Fosdick made reply: "I think
he is the handsomest creature I ever saw. And so clever! Why, he
is wonderful, Jane! How in the world does he happen to be living
here--all the time?"

It is perhaps, on the whole, a good thing that Albert Speranza
could not hear this. It is certainly a good thing that Captain
Zelotes Snow did not hear it.

And although the balance of sweet and sour in Albert's mind that
night was almost even, the sour predominated next day and continued
to predominate. Issachar Price had sowed the seed of jealousy in
the mind of the assistant bookkeeper of Z. Snow and Company, and
that seed took root and grew as it is only too likely to do under
such circumstances. That evening Albert walked again to the post-
office. Helen was not there, neither was Miss Kelsey or Miss
Fosdick. He waited for a time and then determined to call at the
Kendall home, something he had not done for some time. As he came
up to the front walk, between the arbor-vitae hedges, he saw that
the parlor windows were alight. The window shade was but partially
drawn and beneath it he could see into the room. Helen was seated
at the piano and Edwin Raymond was standing beside her, ready to
turn the page of her music.

Albert whirled on his heel and walked out of the yard and down the
street toward his own home. His attitude of mind was a curious
one. He had a mind to wait until Raymond left and then go into
the Kendall parlor and demand of Helen to know what she meant by
letting that fellow make such a fool of himself. What right had
he--Raymond--to call upon her, and turn her music and--and set the
whole town talking? Why-- Oh, he could think of many things to
ask and say. The trouble was that the saying of them would, he
felt sure, be distinctly bad diplomacy on his part. No one--not
even he--could talk to Helen Kendall in that fashion; not unless
he wished it to be their final conversation.

So he went home, to fret and toss angrily and miserably half the
night. He had never before considered himself in the slightest
degree in love with Helen, but he had taken for granted the thought
that she liked him better than anyone else. Now he was beginning
to fear that perhaps she did not, and, with his temperament,
wounded vanity and poetic imagination supplied the rest. Within a
fortnight he considered himself desperately in love with her.

During this fortnight he called at the parsonage, the Kendall home,
several times. On the first of these occasions the Reverend Mr.
Kendall, having just completed a sermon dealing with the war and,
being full of his subject, read the said sermon to his daughter and
to Albert. The reading itself lasted for three-quarters of an hour
and Mr. Kendall's post-argument and general dissertation on German
perfidy another hour after that. By that time it was late and
Albert went home. The second call was even worse, for Ed Raymond
called also and the two young men glowered at each other until ten
o'clock. They might have continued to glower indefinitely, for
neither meant to leave before the other, but Helen announced that
she had some home-study papers to look over and she knew they would
excuse her under the circumstances. On that hint they departed
simultaneously, separating at the gate and walking with deliberate
dignity in opposite directions.

At his third attempt, however, Albert was successful to the extent
that Helen was alone when he called and there was no school work to
interrupt. But in no other respect was the interview satisfactory.
All that week he had been boiling with the indignation of the
landed proprietor who discovers a trespasser on his estate, and
before this call was fifteen minutes old his feelings had boiled

"What IS the matter with you, Al?" asked Helen. "Do tell me and
let's see if I can't help you out of your trouble."

Her visitor flushed. "Trouble?" he repeated, stiffly. "I don't
know what you mean."

"Oh yes, do. You must. What IS the matter?"

"There is nothing the matter with me."

"Nonsense! Of course there is. You have scarcely spoken a word of
your own accord since you came, and you have been scowling like a
thundercloud all the time. Now what is it? Have I done something
you don't like?"

"There is nothing the matter, I tell you."

"Please don't be so silly. Of course there is. I thought there
must be something wrong the last time you were here, that evening,
when Ed called, too. It seemed to me that you were rather queer
then. Now you are queerer still. What is it?"

This straightforward attack, although absolutely characteristic of
Helen, was disconcerting. Albert met it by an attack of his own.

"Helen," he demanded, "what does that Raymond fellow mean by coming
to see you as he does?"

Now whether or not Helen was entirely in the dark as to the cause
of her visitor's "queerness" is a question not to be answered here.
She was far from being a stupid young person and it is at least
probable that she may have guessed a little of the truth. But,
being feminine, she did not permit Albert to guess that she had
guessed. If her astonishment at the question was not entirely
sincere, it certainly appeared to be so.

"What does he mean?" she repeated. "What does he mean by coming
to see me? Why, what do YOU mean? I should think that was the
question. Why shouldn't he come to see me, pray?"

Now Albert has a dozen reasons in his mind, each of which was to
him sufficiently convincing. But expressing those reasons to Helen
Kendall he found singularly difficult. He grew confused and

"Well--well, because he has no business to come here so much," was
the best he could do. Helen, strange to say, was not satisfied.

"Has no business to?" she repeated. "Why, of course he has. I
asked him to come."

"You did? Good heavens, you don't LIKE him, do you?"

"Of course I like him. I think he is a very nice fellow. Don't

"No, I don't."

"Why not?"

"Well--well, because I don't, that's all. He has no business to
monopolize you all the time. Why, he is here about every night in
the week, or you're out with him, down town, or--or somewhere.
Everybody is talking about it and--"

"Wait a minute, please. You say everybody is talking about Ed
Raymond and me. What do you mean by that? What are they saying?"

"They're saying. . . . Oh, they're saying you and he are--are--"

"Are what?"

"Are--are-- Oh, they're saying all sorts of things. Look here,
Helen, I--"

"Wait! I want to know more about this. What have you heard said
about me?"

"Oh, a lot of things. . . . That is--er--well, nothing in
particular, perhaps, but--"

"Wait! Who have you heard saying it?"

"Oh, never mind! Helen--"

"But I do mind. Who have you heard saying this 'lot of things'
about me?"

"Nobody, I tell you. . . . Oh, well, if you must know, Issy Price
said--well, he said you and this Raymond fellow were what he called
'keeping company' and--and that the whole town was talking about

She slowly shook her head.

"Issy Price!" she repeated. "And you listened to what Issy Price
said. Issy Price, of all people!"

"Well--well, he said everyone else said the same thing."

"Did he say more than that?"

"No, but that was enough, wasn't it. Besides, the rest was plain.
I could see it myself. He is calling here about every night in the
week, and--and being around everywhere with you and--and-- Oh,
anyone can see!"

Helen's usually placid temper was beginning to ruffle.

"Very well," she said, "then they may see. Why shouldn't he call
here if he wishes--and I wish? Why shouldn't I be 'around with
him,' as you say? Why not?"

"Well, because I don't like it. It isn't the right thing for you
to do. You ought to be more careful of--of what people say."

He realized, almost as soon as this last sentence was blurted out,
the absolute tactlessness of it. The quiet gleam of humor he had
so often noticed in Helen's eyes was succeeded now by a look he had
never before seen there.

"Oh, I'm sorry," he added, hastily. "I beg your pardon, Helen. I
didn't mean to say that. Forgive me, will you?"

She did not answer immediately. Then she said, "I don't know
whether I shall or not. I think I shall have to think it over.
And perhaps you had better go now."

"But I'M sorry, Helen. It was a fool thing to say. I don't know
why I was such an idiot. Do forgive me; come!"

She slowly shook her head. "I can't--yet," she said. "And this
you must understand: If Ed Raymond, or anyone else, calls on me
and I choose to permit it, or if I choose to go out with him
anywhere at any time, that is my affair and not 'everyone else's'--
which includes Issachar Price. And my FRIENDS--my real friends--
will not listen to mean, ridiculous gossip. Good night."

So that was the end of that attempt at asserting the Divine Right
by the South Harniss king of hearts. Albert was more miserable
than ever, angrier than ever--not only at Raymond and Helen, but at
himself--and his newly-discovered jealousy burned with a brighter
and greener flame. The idea of throwing everything overboard,
going to Canada and enlisting in the Canadian Army--an idea which
had had a strong and alluring appeal ever since the war broke out--
came back with redoubled force. But there was the agreement with
his grandfather. He had given his word; how could he break it?
Besides, to go away and leave his rival with a clear field did not
appeal to him, either.

On a Wednesday evening in the middle of September the final social
event of the South Harniss summer season was to take place. The
Society for the Relief of the French Wounded was to give a dance in
the ballroom of the hotel, the proceeds from the sale of tickets to
be devoted to the purpose defined by the name of this organization.
Every last member of the summer colony was to attend, of course,
and all those of the permanent residents who aspired to social
distinction and cared to pay the high price of admission.

Albert was going, naturally. That is, he had at first planned to
go, then--after the disastrous call at the parsonage--decided that
he would go under no circumstances, and at the last changed his
mind once more to the affirmative. Miss Madeline Fosdick, Jane
Kelsey's friend, was responsible for the final change. She it was
who had sold him his ticket and urged him to be present. He and
she had met several times since the first meeting at the post-
office. Usually when they met they talked concerning poetry and
kindred lofty topics. Albert liked Miss Fosdick. It is hard not
to like a pretty, attractive young lady who takes such a flattering
interest in one's aspirations and literary efforts. The "high brow
chit-chats"--quoting Miss Kelsey again--were pleasant in many ways;
for instance, they were in the nature of a tonic for weakened self-
esteem, and the Speranza self-esteem was suffering just at this
time, from shock.

Albert had, when he first heard that the dance was to take place,
intended inviting Helen to accompany him. He had taken her
acceptance for granted, he having acted as her escort to so many
dances and social affairs. So he neglected inviting her and then
came Issy's mischief-making remarks and the trouble which followed.
So, as inviting her was out of the question, he resolved not to
attend, himself. But Miss Fosdick urged so prettily that he bought
his ticket and promised to be among those present.

"Provided, of course," he ventured, being in a reckless mood, "that
you save me at least four dances." She raised her brows in mock

"Oh, my goodness!" she exclaimed. "I'm afraid I couldn't do that.
Four is much too many. One I will promise, but no more."

However, as he persisted, she yielded another. He was to have two
dances and, possibly an "extra."

"And you are a lucky young man," declared Jane Kelsey, who had also
promised two. "If you knew how many fellows have begged for just
one. But, of course," she added, "THEY were not poets, second
editions of Tennyson and Keats and all that. It is Keats who was
the poet, isn't it, Madeline?" she added, turning to her friend.
"Oh, I'm so glad I got it right the first time. I'm always mixing
him up with Watts, the man who invented the hymns and wrote the
steam-engine--or something."

The Wednesday evening in the middle of September was a beautiful
one and the hotel was crowded. The Item, in its account the
following week, enumerating those present, spoke of "Our new
residents, Mrs. Fletcher Story Fosdick and Miss Madeline Fosdick,
who are to occupy the magnificent residence now about being built
on the Inlet Hill by their husband and father, respectively,
Fletcher Story Fosdick, Esquire, the well-known New York banker."
The phrasing of this news note caused much joy in South Harniss,
and the Item gained several new and hopeful subscribers.

But when the gushing reporter responsible for this added that "Miss
Fosdick was a dream of loveliness on this occasion" he was stating
only the truth. She was very beautiful indeed and a certain young
man who stepped up to claim his first dance realized the fact. The
said young man was outwardly cool, but red-hot within, the internal
rise in temperature being caused by the sight of Helen Kendall
crossing the floor arm in arm with Edwin Raymond. Albert's face
was white with anger, except for two red spots on his cheeks, and
his black eyes flashed. Consequently he, too, was considered quite
worth the looking at and feminine glances followed him.

"Who is that handsome, foreign-looking fellow your friend is
dancing with?" whispered one young lady, a guest at the hotel, to
Miss Kelsey. Jane told her.

"But he isn't a foreigner," she added. "He lives here in South
Harniss all the year. He is a poet, I believe, and Madeline, who
knows about such things--inherits it from her mother, I suppose--
says his poetry is beautiful."

Her companion watched the subject of their conversation as, with
Miss Fosdick, he moved lightly and surely through the crowd on the

"He LOOKS like a poet," she said, slowly. "He is wonderfully
handsome, so distinguished, and SUCH a dancer! But why should a
poet live here--all the year? Is that all he does for a living--
write poetry?"

Jane pretended not to hear her and, a masculine friend coming to
claim his dance, seized the opportunity to escape. However,
another "sitter out" supplied the information.

"He is a sort of assistant bookkeeper at the lumber yard by the
railroad station," said this person. "His grandfather owns the
place, I believe. One would never guess it to look at him now. . . .
Humph! I wonder if Mrs. Fosdick knows. They say she is--well,
not democratically inclined, to say the least."

Albert had his two promised dances with Madeline Fosdick, but the
"extra" he did not obtain. Mrs. Fosdick, the ever watchful, had
seen and made inquiries. Then she called her daughter to her and
issued an ultimatum.

"I am SO sorry," said the young lady, in refusing the plea for the
"extra." "I should like to, but I--but Mother has asked me to
dance with a friend of ours from home. I--I AM sorry, really."

She looked as if she meant it. Albert was sorry, too. This had
been a strange evening, another combination of sweet and sour. He
glanced across the floor and saw Helen and the inevitable Raymond
emerge together from the room where the refreshments were served.
Raging jealousy seized him at the sight. Helen had not been near
him, had scarcely spoken to him since his arrival. He forgot that
he had not been near nor spoken to her.

He danced twice or thrice more with acquaintances, "summer" or
permanent, and then decided to go home. Madeline Fosdick he saw at
the other end of the room surrounded by a group of young masculinity.
Helen he could not see at the moment. He moved in the direction of
the coatroom. Just as he reached the door he was surprised to see
Ed Raymond stride by him, head down and looking anything but joyful.
He watched and was still more astonished to see the young man get
his coat and hat from the attendant and walk out of the hotel. He
saw him stride away along the drive and down the moonlit road. He
was, apparently, going home--going home alone.

He got his own coat and hat and, before putting them on, stepped
back for a final look at the ballroom. As he stood by the
cloakroom door someone touched his arm. Turning he saw Helen.

"Why--why, Helen!" he exclaimed, in surprise.

"Are you going home?" she asked, in a low tone.

"Yes, I--"

"And you are going alone?"


"Would you mind--would it trouble you too much to walk with me as
far as our house?"

"Why--why of course not. I shall be delighted. But I thought you--
I thought Ed Raymond--"

"No, I'm alone. Wait here; I will be ready in just a minute."

She hurried away. He gazed after her in bewilderment. She and he
had scarcely exchanged a word during the evening, and now, when the
evening was almost over, she came and asked him to be her escort.
What in the wide world--?

The minute she had specified had hardly elapsed when she reappeared,
ready for out of doors. She took his arm and they walked down the
steps of the hotel, past the group of lights at the head of the
drive and along the road, with the moon shining down upon it and the
damp, salt breeze from the ocean blowing across it. They walked for
the first few minutes in silence. There were a dozen questions he
would have liked to ask, but his jealous resentment had not entirely
vanished and his pride forbade. It was she who spoke first.

"Albert," she said, "you must think this very odd."

He knew what she meant, but he did not choose to admit it.

"What?" he asked.

"Why, my asking you to walk home with me, after--after our trouble.
It is strange, I suppose, particularly as you had not spoken before
this whole evening."

"_I_--spoken to YOU? Why, you bowed to me when I came into the
room and that was the only sign of recognition you gave me until
just now. Not a dance--not one."

"Did you expect me to look you up and beg you to dance with me?"

"Did you expect me to trot at that fellow's heels and wait my
chance to get a word with you, to take what he left? I should say
not! By George, Helen, I--"

She interrupted him. "Hush, hush!" she pleaded. "This is all so
silly, so childish. And we mustn't quarrel any more. I have made
up my mind to that. We mustn't."

"Humph! All right, _I_ had no thought of quarreling in the
beginning. But there are some things a self-respecting chap can't
stand. I have SOME pride, I hope."

She caught her breath quickly. "Do you think," she asked, "that it
was no sacrifice to my pride to beg you to walk home with me?
After--after the things you said the other evening? Oh, Albert,
how could you say them!"

"Well--" he hesitated, and then added, "I told you I was sorry."

"Yes, but you weren't really sorry. You must have believed the
things that hateful Issachar Price said or you wouldn't have
repeated them. . . . Oh, but never mind that now, I didn't mean to
speak of it at all. I asked you to walk home with me because I
wanted to make up our quarrel. Yes, that was it. I didn't want to
go away and feel that you and I were not as good friends as ever.
So, you see, I put all MY pride to one side--and asked."

One phrase in one sentence of this speech caught and held the young
man's attention. He forgot the others.

"You are going away?" he repeated. "What do you mean? Where are
you going?"

"I am going to Cambridge to study. I am going to take some courses
at Radcliffe. You know I told you I hoped to some day. Well, it
has been arranged. I am to live with my cousin, father's half
sister in Somerville. Father is well enough to leave now and I
have engaged a capable woman, Mrs. Peters, to help Maria with the
housework. I am going Friday morning, the day after to-morrow."

He stopped short to stare at her.

"You are going away?" he asked, again. "You are going to do that
and--and-- Why didn't you tell me before?"

It was a characteristic return to his attitude of outraged royalty.
She had made all these plans, had arranged to do this thing, and he
had not been informed. At another time Helen might have laughed at
him; she generally did when he became what she called the "Grand
Bashaw." She did not laugh now, however, but answered quietly.

"I didn't know I was going to do it until a little more than a week
ago," she said. "And I have not seen you since then."

"No, you've been too busy seeing someone else."

She lost patience for the instant. "Oh, don't, don't, don't!" she
cried. "I know who you mean, of course. You mean Ed Raymond.
Don't you know why he has been at the house so much of late? Why
he and I have been so much together? Don't you really know?"

"What? . . . No, I don't--except that you and he wanted to be

"And it didn't occur to you that there might be some other reason?
You forgot, I suppose, that he and I were appointed on the Ticket
Committee for this very dance?"

He had forgotten it entirely. Now he remembered perfectly the
meeting of the French Relief Society at which the appointment had
been made. In fact Helen herself had told him of it at the time.
For the moment he was staggered, but he rallied promptly.

"Committee meetings may do as an excuse for some things," he said,
"but they don't explain the rest--his calls here every other
evening and--and so on. Honest now, Helen, you know he hasn't been
running after you in this way just because he is on that committee
with you; now don't you?"

They were almost at the parsonage. The light from Mr. Kendall's
study window shone through the leaves of the lilac bush behind the
white fence. Helen started to speak, but hesitated. He repeated
his question.

"Now don't you?" he urged.

"Why, why, yes, I suppose I do," she said, slowly. "I do know--
now. But I didn't even think of such a thing until--until you came
that evening and told me what Issy Price said."

"You mean you didn't guess at all?"

"Well--well, perhaps I--I thought he liked to come--liked to-- Oh,
what is the use of being silly! I did think he liked to call, but
only as a friend. He was jolly and lots of fun and we were both
fond of music. I enjoyed his company. I never dreamed that there
was anything more than that until you came and were so--disagreeable.
And even then I didn't believe--until to-night."

Again she hesitated. "To-night?" he repeated. "What happened to-

"Oh nothing. I can't tell you. Oh, why can't friends be friends
and not. . . . That is why I spoke to you, Albert, why I wanted to
have this talk with you. I was going away so soon and I couldn't
bear to go with any unfriendliness between us. There mustn't be.
Don't you see?"

He heard but a part of this. The memory of Raymond's face as he
had seen it when the young man strode out of the cloakroom and out
of the hotel came back to him and with it a great heart-throbbing
sense of relief, of triumph. He seized her hand.

"Helen," he cried, "did he--did you tell him-- Oh, by George,
Helen, you're the most wonderful girl in the world! I'm--I-- Oh,
Helen, you know I--I--"

It was not his habit to be at a loss for words, but he was just
then. He tried to retain her hand, to put his arm about her.

"Oh, Helen!" he cried. "You're wonderful! You're splendid! I'm
crazy about you! I really am! I--"

She pushed him gently away. "Don't! Please don't!" she said.
"Oh, don't!"

"But I must. Don't you see I. . . . Why, you're crying!"

Her face had, for a moment, been upturned. The moon at that moment
had slipped behind a cloud, but the lamplight from the window had
shown him the tears in her eyes. He was amazed. He could have
shouted, have laughed aloud from joy or triumphant exultation just
then, but to weep! What occasion was there for tears, except on Ed
Raymond's part?

"You're crying!" he repeated. "Why, Helen--!"

"Don't!" she said, again. "Oh, don't! Please don't talk that

"But don't you want me to, Helen? I--I want you to know how I
feel. You don't understand. I--"

"Hush! . . . Don't, Al, don't, please. Don't talk in that way. I
don't want you to."

"But why not?"

"Oh, because I don't. It's--it is foolish. You're only a boy, you

"A boy! I'm more than a year older than you are."

"Are you? Why yes, I suppose you are, really. But that doesn't
make any difference. I guess girls are older than boys when they
are our age, lots older."

"Oh, bother all that! We aren't kids, either of us. I want you to
listen. You don't understand what I'm trying to say."

"Yes, I do. But I'm sure you don't. You are glad because you have
found you have no reason to be jealous of Ed Raymond and that makes
you say--foolish things. But I'm not going to have our friendship
spoiled in that way. I want us to be real friends, always. So you
mustn't be silly."

"I'm not silly. Helen, if you won't listen to anything else, will
you listen to this? Will you promise me that while you are away
you won't have other fellows calling on you or--or anything like
that? And I'll promise you that I'll have nothing to say to
another girl--in any way that counts, I mean. Shall we promise
each other that, Helen? Come!"

She paused for some moment before answering, but her reply, when it
came, was firm.

"No," she said, "I don't think we should promise anything, except
to remain friends. You might promise and then be sorry, later."

"_I_ might? How about you?"

"Perhaps we both might. So we won't take the risk. You may come
and see me to-morrow evening and say good-by, if you like. But you
mustn't stay long. It is my last night with father for some time
and I mustn't cheat him out of it. Good night, Albert. I'm so
glad our misunderstanding is over, aren't you?"

"Of course I am. But, Helen--"

"I must go in now. Good night."

The reflections of Alberto Speranza during his walk back to the
Snow place were varied but wonderful. He thought of Raymond's
humiliation and gloried in it. He thought of Helen and rhapsodized.
And if, occasionally, he thought also of the dance and of Madeline
Fosdick, forgive him. He was barely twenty-one and the moon was


The good-by call the following evening was, to him at least, not
very satisfactory. Helen was tired, having been busy all day with
the final preparations for leaving, and old Mr. Kendall insisted
on being present during the entire visit and in telling long and
involved stories of the trip abroad he had made when a young man
and the unfavorable opinion which he had then formed of Prussians
as traveling companions. Albert's opinion of Prussians was at
least as unfavorable as his own, but his complete and even eager
agreement with each of the old gentleman's statements did not have
the effect of choking the latter off, but rather seemed to act as
encouragement for more. When ten o'clock came and it was time to
go Albert felt as if he had been listening to a lecture on the
Hohenzollerns. "Great Scott, Helen," he whispered, as she came to
the door with him, "I don't feel as if I had talked with you a
minute. Why, I scarcely--"

But just here Mr. Kendall came hurrying from the sitting-room to
tell of one incident which he had hitherto forgotten, and so even
this brief interval of privacy was denied. But Albert made one
more attempt.

"I'm going to run over to the station to-morrow morning to see you
off," he called from the gate. "Good night."

The morning train left at nine o'clock, and at a quarter to nine
Albert, who had kept his eye on the clock ever since eight, his
hour of arriving at the office, called to Mr. Price.

"I say," he said, in a low tone and one as casual as he could
assume, "I am going to run out for a few minutes. I'll be right

Issachar's response was as usual anything but low.

"Eh?" he shouted. "Goin' out? Where you goin'?"

"Oh, I'm just going out--er--on an errand."

"What kind of an errand? I was cal'latin' to run out myself for a
little spell. Can't I do your errand for you?"

"No, no. . . There, there, don't bother me any more. I'm in a

"Hurry! So'm I in a hurry. I was cal'latin' to run acrost to the
deepo and see Helen Kendall start for Boston. She's goin' this
morning; did you know it?"

Before the somewhat flustered assistant bookkeeper could reply
Captain Zelotes called from the inner office:

"Wouldn't wonder if that was where Al was bound, too," he observed.
"And I was thinkin' of the same thing. Suppose we all go together.
Labe'll keep shop, won't you, Labe?"

Mr. Keeler looked over his spectacles. "Eh?" he observed. "Oh,
yes, yes . . . yes, yes, yes. And say good-by to Helen for me,
some of you, if you happen to think of it. Not that 'twill make
much difference to her," he added, "whether she gets my good-bys or
not, but it might make some to me. . . . Um, yes, yes."

Mr. Price was eager to oblige.

"I'll tell her you sent 'em, Labe," he said, patronizingly. "Set
your mind to rest; I'll tell her."

Laban's lip twitched. "Much obliged, Is," he chirruped. "That's a
great relief! My mind's rested some already."

So, instead of going alone to the railway station, Albert made one
of a delegation of three. And at the station was Mr. Kendall, and
two of the school committee, and one or two members of the church
sewing circle, and the president and secretary of the Society for
the Relief of the French Wounded. So far from being an intimate
confidential farewell, Helen's departure was in the nature of a
public ceremony with speech-making. Mr. Price made most of the
speeches, in fact the lower portion of his countenance was in
violent motion most of the ten minutes.

"Take care of yourself, Helen," he urged loudly. "Don't you worry
about your pa, we'll look out for him. And don't let none of them
Boston fellers carry you off. We'll watch and see that Eddie
Raymond and Al here don't get into mischief while you're gone.
I . . . Crimustee! Jim Young, what in time's the matter with you?
Can't ye see nothin'?"

This last outburst was directed at the driver of the depot-wagon,
who, wheeling a trunk on a baggage truck, had bumped violently into
the rear of Mr. Price's legs, just at the knee joint, causing their
owner to bend backward unexpectedly, and with enthusiasm.

"Can't you see nothin' when it's right in front of ye?" demanded
Issachar, righteously indignant.

Jim Young winked over his shoulder at Albert. "Sorry, Is," he
said, as he continued toward the baggage car. "I didn't notice you
WAS in front of me."

"Well, then, you'd better. . . . Eh? See here, what do you mean
by that?"

Even after Mr. Price had thus been pushed out of the foreground, so
to speak, Albert was denied the opportunity of taking his place by
Helen's side. Her father had a few last messages to deliver, then
Captain Zelotes shook her hand and talked for a moment, and, after
that, the ladies of the sewing circle and the war work society felt
it their duty to, severally and jointly, kiss her good-by. This
last was a trying operation to watch.

Then the engine bell rang and the train began to move. Albert,
running beside the platform of the last car, held up his hand for a
farewell clasp.

"Good-by," he said, and added in a whisper, "You'll write, won't

"Of course. And so must you. Good-by."

The last car and the handkerchief waving figure on its platform
disappeared around the curve. The little group by the station
broke up. Albert and his grandfather walked over to the office

"There goes a good girl, Al," was Captain Lote's only comment. "A
mighty good capable girl."

Albert nodded. A moment later he lifted his hat to a group in a
passing automobile.

"Who were those folks?" asked the Captain.

"The Fosdicks," was the reply. "The people who are going to build
down by the Inlet."

It was Madeline and her mother. The latter had been serenely
indifferent, but the young lady had smiled and bowed behind the
maternal shoulders.

"Oh; that so?" observed Captain Zelotes, looking after the flying
car with interest. "That's who 'tis, eh? Nice lookin', the young
one, ain't she?"

Albert did not answer. With the noise of the train which was
carrying Helen out of his life still ringing in his ears it seemed
wicked even to mention another girl's name, to say nothing of
commenting upon her good looks. For the rest of that day he was a
gloomy spirit, a dark shadow in the office of Z. Snow and Co.

Before the end of another fortnight the season at South Harniss was
definitely over. The hotel closed on the Saturday following the
dance, and by October first the last of the cottages was locked and
shuttered. The Kelseys went on the twentieth and the Fosdicks went
with them. Albert met Madeline and Jane at the post-office in the
evening of the nineteenth and there more farewells were said.

"Don't forget us down here in the sand, will you?" he suggested to
Miss Fosdick. It was Jane Kelsey who answered.

"Oh, she won't forget," returned that young lady. "Why she has
your photograph to remember you by."

Madeline colored becomingly and was, as Jane described it, "awfully

"Nonsense!" she exclaimed, with much indignation, "I haven't any
such thing. You know I haven't, Jane."

"Yes, you have, my dear. You have a photograph of him standing
in front of the drug store and looking dreamily in at--at the
strawberry sundaes. It is a most romantic pose, really."

Albert laughed. He remembered the photograph. It was one of a
series of snapshots taken with Miss Kelsey's camera one Saturday
afternoon when a party of young people had met in front of the
sundae dispensary. Jane had insisted on "snapping" everyone.

"That reminds me that I have never seen the rest of those
photographs," he said.

"Haven't you?" exclaimed Jane. "Well, you ought to see them. I
have Madeline's with me. It is a dream, if I do say it as I took

She produced the snapshot, which showed her friend standing beside
the silver-leaf tree before the druggist's window and smiling at
the camera. It was a good likeness and, consequently, a very
pretty picture.

"Isn't it a dream, just as I said?" demanded the artist. "Honest
now, isn't it?

Albert of course declared it to be beyond praise.

"May I have this one?" he asked, on the impulse of the moment.

"Don't ask me, stupid," commanded Jane, mischievously. "It isn't
my funeral--or my portrait, either."

"May I?" he repeated, turning to Madeline. She hesitated.

"Why--why yes, you may, if you care for it," she said. "That
particular one is Jane's, anyway, and if she chooses to give it
away I don't see how I can prevent her. But why you should want
the old thing I can't conceive. I look as stiff and wooden as a

Jane held up a protesting finger.

"Fibs, fibs, fibs," she observed. "Can't conceive why he should
want it! As if you weren't perfectly aware that he will wear it
next his heart and-- Oh, don't put it in THAT pocket! I said next
your heart, and that isn't on your RIGHT side."

Albert took the photograph home and stuck it between the frame and
glass of his bureau. Then came a sudden remembrance of his parting
with Helen and with it a twinge of conscience. He had begged her
to have nothing to do with any other fellow. True she had refused
to promise and consequently he also was unbound, but that made no
difference--should not make any. So he put the photograph at the
back of the drawer where he kept his collars and ties, with a
resolve never to look at it. He did not look at it--very often.

Then came another long winter. He ground away at the bookkeeping--
he was more proficient at it, but he hated it as heartily as ever--
and wrote a good deal of verse and some prose. For the first time
he sold a prose article, a short story, to a minor magazine. He
wrote long letters to Helen and she replied. She was studying
hard, she liked her work, and she had been offered the opportunity
to tutor in a girls' summer camp in Vermont during July and August
and meant to accept provided her father's health continued good.
Albert protested violently against her being absent from South
Harniss for so long. "You will scarcely be home at all," he wrote.
"I shall hardly see you. What am I going to do? As it is now I
miss you--" and so on for four closely written pages. Having
gotten into the spirit of composition he, so to speak, gloried in
his loneliness, so much so that Helen was moved to remonstrate.
"Your letter made me almost miserable," she wrote, "until I had
read it over twice. Then I began to suspect that you were enjoying
your wretchedness, or enjoying writing about it. I truly don't
believe anyone--you especially--could be quite as lonesome as all
that. Honestly now, Albert, weren't you exaggerating a little? I
rather think you were?"

He had been, of course, but it irritated him to think that she
recognized the fact. She had an uncanny faculty of seeing through
his every pretense. In his next letter he said nothing whatever
about being lonesome.

At home, and at the office, the war was what people talked about
most of the time. Since the Lusitania's sinking Captain Zelotes
had been a battle charger chafing at the bit. He wanted to fight
and to fight at once.

"We've got to do it, Mother," he declared, over and over again.
"Sooner or later we've got to fight that Kaiser gang. What are we
waitin' for; will somebody tell me that?"

Olive, as usual, was mild and unruffled.

"Probably the President knows as much about it as you and me,
Zelotes," she suggested. "I presume likely he has his own

"Humph! When Seth Bassett got up in the night and took a drink out
of the bottle of Paris Green by mistake 'Bial Cahoon asked him what
in time he kept Paris Green in his bedroom for, anyhow. All that
Seth would say was that he had his own reasons. The rest of the
town was left to guess what those reasons was. That's what the
President's doin'--keepin' us guessin'. By the everlastin', if I
was younger I'd ship aboard a British lime-juicer and go and fight,

It was Rachel Ellis who caused the Captain to be a bit more
restrained in his remarks.

"You hadn't ought to talk that way, Cap'n Lote," she said. "Not
when Albert's around, you hadn't."

"Eh? Why not?"

"Because the first thing you know he'll be startin' for Canada to
enlist. He's been crazy to do it for 'most a year."

"He has? How do you know he has?"

"Because he's told me so, more'n once."

Her employer looked at her.

"Humph!" he grunted. "He seems to tell you a good many things he
doesn't tell the rest of us."

The housekeeper nodded. "Yes," she said gravely, "I shouldn't
wonder if he did." A moment later she added, "Cap'n Lote, you will
be careful, won't you? You wouldn't want Al to go off and leave Z.
Snow and Company when him and you are gettin' on so much better.
You ARE gettin' on better, ain't you?"

The captain pulled at his beard.

"Yes," he admitted, "seems as if we was. He ain't any wonder at
bookkeepin', but he's better'n he used to be; and he does seem to
try hard, I'll say that for him."

Rachael beamed gratification. "He'll be a Robert Penfold yet," she
declared; "see if he isn't. So you musn't encourage him into
enlistin' in the Canadian army. You wouldn't want him to do that
any more'n the rest of us would."

The captain gazed intently into the bowl of the pipe which he had
been cleaning. He made no answer.

"You wouldn't want him to do that, would you?" repeated the

Captain Lote blew through the pipe stem. Then he said, "No, I
wouldn't . . . but I'm darn glad he's got the spunk to WANT to do
it. We may get that Portygee streak out of him, poetry and all,
give us time; eh, Rachael?"

It was the first time in months that he had used the word "Portygee"
in connection with his grandson. Mrs. Ellis smiled to herself.

In April the arbutus buds began to appear above the leaf mold
between the scrub oaks in the woods, and the walls of Fletcher
Fosdick's new summer home began to rise above the young pines on
the hill by the Inlet in the Bay Road. The Item kept its readers
informed, by weekly installments, of the progress made by the

The lumber for Mr. Fletcher Fosdick's new cottage is beginning to
be hauled to his property on Inlet Hill in this town. Our
enterprising firm of South Harniss dealers, Z. Snow & Co., are
furnishing said lumber. Mr. Nehemiah Nickerson is to do the mason
work. Mr. Fosdick shows good judgment as well as a commendable
spirit in engaging local talent in this way. We venture to say he
will never regret it.

A week later:

Mr. Fletcher Fosdick's new residence is beginning building, the
foundation being pretty near laid.

And the following week:

The Fosdick mansion is growing fast. South Harniss may well be
proud of its new ornament.

The rise in three successive numbers from "cottage" to "mansion" is
perhaps sufficient to indicate that the Fosdick summer home was to
be, as Issachar Price described it, "Some considerable house! Yes
sir, by crimus, some considerable!"

In June, Helen came home for a week. At the end of the week she
left to take up her new duties at the summer camp for girls in
Vermont. Albert and she were together a good deal during that
week. Anticipating her arrival, the young man's ardent imagination
had again fanned what he delighted to think of as his love for her
into flame. During the last months of the winter he had not played
the languishing swain as conscientiously as during the autumn.
Like the sailor in the song "is 'eart was true to Poll" always, but
he had broken away from his self-imposed hermitage in his room at
the Snow place several times to attend sociables, entertainments
and, even, dances. Now, when she returned he was eagerly awaiting
her and would have haunted the parsonage before and after working
hours of every day as well as the evening, if she had permitted,
and when with her assumed a proprietary air which was so obvious
that even Mr. Price felt called upon to comment on it.

"Say, Al," drawled Issachar, "cal'late you've cut out Eddie Raymond
along with Helen, ain't ye? Don't see him hangin' around any since
she got back, and the way you was actin' when I see you struttin'
into the parsonage yard last night afore mail time made me think
you must have a first mortgage on Helen and her pa and the house
and the meetin'-house and two-thirds of the graveyard. I never see
such an important-lookin' critter in MY life. Haw, haw! Eh? How
'bout it?"

Albert did not mind the Price sarcasm; instead he felt rather
grateful to have the proletariat recognize that he had triumphed
again. The fly in his ointment, so to speak, was the fact that
Helen herself did not in the least recognize that triumph. She
laughed at him.

"Don't look at me like that, please, please, don't," she begged.

"Why not?" with a repetition of the look.

"Because it is silly."

"Silly! Well, I like that! Aren't you and I engaged? Or just the
same as engaged?"

"No, of course we are not."

"But we promised each other--"

"No, we did not. And you know we didn't."

"Helen, why do you treat me that way? Don't you know that--that I
just worship the ground you tread on? Don't you know you're the
only girl in this world I could ever care for? Don't you know

They were walking home from church Sunday morning and had reached
the corner below the parsonage. There, screened by the thicket of
young silver-leafs, she stopped momentarily and looked into his
face. Then she walked on.

"Don't you know how much I care?" he repeated.

She shook her head. "You think you do now, perhaps," she said,
"but you will change your mind."

"What do you mean by that? How do you know I will?"

"Because I know you. There, there, Albert, we won't quarrel, will
we? And we won't be silly. You're an awfully nice boy, but you
are just a boy, you know."

He was losing his temper.

"This is ridiculous!" he declared. "I'm tired of being grandmothered
by you. I'm older than you are, and I know what I'm doing. Come,
Helen, listen to me."

But she would not listen, and although she was always kind and
frank and friendly, she invariably refused to permit him to become
sentimental. It irritated him, and after she had gone the
irritation still remained. He wrote her as before, although not
quite so often, and the letters were possibly not quite so long.
His pride was hurt and the Speranza pride was a tender and
important part of the Speranza being. If Helen noted any change in
his letters she did not refer to it nor permit it to influence her
own, which were, as always, lengthy, cheerful, and full of interest
in him and his work and thoughts.

During the previous fall, while under the new influence aroused in
him by his discovery that Helen Kendall was "the most wonderful
girl in the world," said discovery of course having been previously
made for him by the unfortunate Raymond, he had developed a habit
of wandering off into the woods or by the seashore to be alone and
to seek inspiration. When a young poet is in love, or fancies
himself in love, inspiration is usually to be found wherever
sought, but even at that age and to one in that condition solitude
is a marked aid in the search. There were two or three spots which
had become Albert Speranza's favorites. One was a high, wind-swept
knoll, overlooking the bay, about a half mile from the hotel,
another was a secluded nook in the pine grove beside Carver's Pond,
a pretty little sheet of water on the Bayport boundary. On
pleasant Saturday afternoons or Sundays, when the poetic fit was on
him, Albert, with a half dozen pencils in his pocket, and a rhyming
dictionary and a scribbling pad in another, was wont to stroll
towards one or the other of these two retreats. There he would
sprawl amid the beachgrass or upon the pine-needles and dream and
think and, perhaps, ultimately write.

One fair Saturday in late June he was at the first of these
respective points. Lying prone on the beach grass at the top of
the knoll and peering idly out between its stems at the water
shimmering in the summer sun, he was endeavoring to find a subject
for a poem which should deal with love and war as requested by the
editor of the Columbian Magazine. "Give us something with a girl
and a soldier in it," the editor had written. Albert's mind was
lazily drifting in search of the pleasing combination.

The sun was warm, the breeze was light, the horizon was veiled with
a liquid haze. Albert's mind was veiled with a similar haze and
the idea he wanted would not come. He was losing his desire to
find it and was, in fact, dropping into a doze when aroused by a
blood-curdling outburst of barks and yelps and growls behind him,
at his very heels. He came out of his nap with a jump and,
scrambling to a sitting position and turning, he saw a small Boston
bull-terrier standing within a yard of his ankles and, apparently,
trying to turn his brindled outside in, or his inside out, with
spiteful ferocity. Plainly the dog had come upon him unexpectedly
and was expressing alarm, suspicion and disapproval.

Albert jerked his ankles out of the way and said "Hello, boy," in
as cheerfully cordial a tone as he could muster at such short
notice. The dog took a step forward, evidently with the idea of
always keeping the ankles within jumping distance, showed a double
row of healthy teeth and growled and barked with renewed violence.

"Nice dog," observed Albert. The nice dog made a snap at the
nearest ankle and, balked of his prey by a frenzied kick of the
foot attached to the ankle, shrieked, snarled and gurgled like a
canine lunatic.

"Go home, you ugly brute," commanded the young man, losing
patience, and looking about for a stone or stick. On the top of
that knoll the largest stone was the size of a buckshot and the
nearest stick was, to be Irish, a straw.

"Nice doggie! Nice old boy! Come and be patted! . . . Clear out
with you! Go home, you beast!"

Flatteries and threats were alike in their result. The dog continued
to snarl and growl, darting toward the ankles occasionally.
Evidently he was mustering courage for the attack. Albert in
desperation scooped up a handful of sand. If worst came to worst
he might blind the creature temporarily. What would happen after
that was not clear. Unless he might by a lucky cast fill the dog's
interior so full of sand that--like the famous "Jumping Frog"--it
would be too heavy to navigate, he saw no way of escape from a
painful bite, probably more than one. What Captain Zelotes had
formerly called his "Portygee temper" flared up.

"Oh, damn you, clear out!" he shouted, springing to his feet.

From a little way below him; in fact, from behind the next dune,
between himself and the beach, a feminine voice called his name.

"Oh, Mr. Speranza!" it said. "Is it you? I'm so glad!"

Albert turned, but the moment he did so the dog made a dash at his
legs, so he was obliged to turn back again and kick violently.

"Oh, I am so glad it is you," said the voice again. "I was sure it
was a dreadful tramp. Googoo loathes tramps."

As an article of diet that meant, probably. Googoo--if that was
the dog's name--was passionately fond of poets, that was self-
evident, and intended to make a meal of this one, forthwith. He
flew at the Speranza ankles. Albert performed a most undignified
war dance, and dashed his handful of sand into Googoo's open
countenance. For a minute or so there was a lively shindy on top
of that knoll. At the end of the minute the dog, held tightly in a
pair of feminine arms, was emitting growls and coughs and sand,
while Madeline Fosdick and Albert Speranza were kneeling in more
sand and looking at each other.

"Oh, did he bite you?" begged Miss Fosdick.

"No . . . no, I guess not," was the reply. "I--I scarcely know
yet. . . . Why, when did you come? I didn't know you were in

"We came yesterday. Motored from home, you know. I--be still,
Goo, you bad thing! It was such a lovely day that I couldn't
resist going for a walk along the beach. I took Googoo because he
does love it so, and--Goo, be still, I tell you! I am sure he
thinks you are a tramp, out here all alone in the--in the
wilderness. And what were you doing here?"

Albert drew a long breath. "I was half asleep, I guess," he said,
"when he broke loose at my heels. I woke up quick enough then, as
you may imagine. And so you are here for the summer? Your new
house isn't finished, is it?"

"No, not quite. Mother and Goo and I are at the hotel for a month.
But you haven't answered my question. What were you doing off here
all alone? Have you been for a walk, too?"

"Not exactly. I--well, I come here pretty often. It is one of my
favorite hiding places. You see, I . . . don't laugh if I tell
you, will you?"

"Of course not. Go on; this is very mysterious and interesting."

"Well, I come here sometimes on pleasant days, to be alone--and

"Write? Write poetry, do you mean?"


"Oh, how wonderful! Were you writing when I--when Goo interrupted

"No; I had made two or three attempts, but nothing that I did
satisfied me. I had just about decided to tear them up and to give
up trying for this afternoon."

"Oh, I hope you won't tear them up. I'm sure they shouldn't be.
Perhaps you were not in a proper mood to judge, yourself."

"Perhaps not. Perhaps they might look a little less hopeless to
some one else. But that person would have to be really interested,
and there are few people in South Harniss who know or care anything
about poetry."

"I suppose that is true. I--I don't suppose you would care to show
them to me, would you?"

"Why," eagerly, "would you really care to see them?"

"Indeed I should! Not that my judgment or advice is worth
anything, of course. But I am very, very fond of poetry, and to
see how a real poet wrote would be wonderful. And if I could help
you, even the least little bit, it would be such an honor."

This sort of thing was balm to the Speranza spirit. Albert's
temperamental ego expanded under it like a rosebud under a summer
sun. Yet there was a faint shadow of doubt--she might be making
fun of him. He looked at her intently and she seemed to read his
thoughts, for she said:

"Oh, I mean it! Please believe I do. I haven't spoken that way
when Jane was with me, for she wouldn't understand and would laugh,
but I mean it, Mr. Speranza. It would be an honor--a great honor."

So the still protesting and rebellious Googoo was compelled to go a
few feet away and lie down, while his mistress and the young man
whom he had attempted to devour bent their heads together over a
scribbling-pad and talked and exclaimed during the whole of that
hour and a full three-quarters of the next. Then the distant town
clock in the steeple of the Congregational church boomed five times
and Miss Fosdick rose to her feet.

"Oh," she said, "it can't really be five o'clock, can it? But it
is! What WILL mother fancy has become of me? I must go this
minute. Thank you, Mr. Speranza. I have enjoyed this so much.
It has been a wonderful experience."

Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were shining. She had grown
handsomer than ever during the winter months. Albert's eyes were
shining also as he impulsively seized her hand.

"Thank you, Miss Fosdick," he said. "You have helped me more than
I can tell you. I was about to give up in despair before you came,
and now--now I KNOW I shall write the best thing I have ever done.
And you will be responsible for it."

She caught her breath. "Oh, not really!" she exclaimed. "You
don't mean it, really?"

"Indeed I do! If I might have your help and sympathy once in
awhile, I believe--I believe I could do almost anything. Will you
help me again some day? I shall be here almost every pleasant
Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Will you come again?"

She hesitated. "I--I'll see; perhaps," she answered hurriedly.
"But I must go now. Come, Goo."

She hastened away, down the knoll and along the beach toward the
hotel. Googoo followed her, turning occasionally to cast
diabolical glances at the Speranza ankles. Albert gazed until the
graceful figure in the trim sport costume disappeared behind the
corner of the point of the beach. Just at the point she paused to
wave to him. He waved in return. Then he tramped homeward. There
was deep sand beneath his feet and, later, pine-needles and grass.
They were all alike to him, for he was traveling on air.

That evening at supper his radiant appearance caused comment.

"What makes you look so happy, Albert?" asked his grandmother.
"Seems to me I never saw you look so sort of--well, glorified, as
you might say. What is the reason?"

The glorified one reddened and was confused. He stammered that he
did not know, he was not aware of any particular reason.

Mrs. Ellis beamed upon him. "I presume likely his bookkeepin' at
the office has been goin' pretty well lately," she suggested.

Captain Zelote's gray eyes twinkled. "Cal'late he's been makin' up
more poetry about girls," was his offering. "Another one of those
pieces about teeth like pearls and hair all curls, or somethin'
like that. Say, Al, why don't you poetry-makin' fellers try a new
one once in a while? Say, 'Her hair's like rope and her face has
lost hope.' Eh? Why not, for a change?"

The protests on the part of Olive and the housekeeper against the
captain's innovation in poetry-making had the effect of distracting
attention from Albert's "glorified" appearance. The young man
himself was thankful for the respite.

That night before he retired he took Madeline Fosdick's photograph
from the back of the drawer among the ties and collars and looked
at it for five minutes at least. She was a handsome girl,
certainly. Not that that made any difference to him. And she was
an intelligent girl; she understood his poetry and appreciated it.
Yes, and she understood him, too, almost as well as Helen. . . .
Helen! He hastily returned the Fosdick photograph to the drawer;
but this time he did not put it quite so near the back.

On the following Saturday he was early at the knoll, a brand-new
scribbling-pad in his pocket and in his mind divine gems which were
later, and with Miss Fosdick's assistance, to be strung into a
glittering necklace of lyric song and draped, with the stringer's
compliments, about the throat of a grateful muse. But no gems were
strung that day. Madeline did not put in an appearance, and by and
by it began to rain, and Albert walked home, damp, dejected, and
disgusted. When, a day or two later, he met Miss Fosdick at the
post office and asked why she had not come he learned that her
mother had insisted upon a motor trip to Wapatomac that afternoon.

"Besides," she said, "you surely mustn't expect me EVERY Saturday."

"No," he admitted grudgingly, "I suppose not. But you will come
sometimes, won't you? I have a perfectly lovely idea for a ballad
and I want to ask your advice about it."

"Oh, do you really? You're not making fun? You mean that my
advice is really worth something? I can't believe it."

He convinced her that it was, and the next Saturday afternoon they
spent together at the inspiration point among the dunes, at work
upon the ballad. It was not finished on that occasion, nor on the
next, for it was an unusually long ballad, but progress was made,
glorious progress.

And so, during that Summer, as the Fosdick residence upon the Bay
Road grew and grew, so did the acquaintanceship, the friendship,
the poetic partnership between the Fosdick daughter and the
grandson of Captain Zelotes Snow grow and grow. They met almost
every Saturday, they met at the post office on week evenings,
occasionally they saw each other for a moment after church on
Sunday mornings. Mrs. Fletcher Fosdick could not imagine why her
only child cared to attend that stuffy little country church and
hear that prosy Kendall minister drone on and on. "I hope, my
dear, that I am as punctilious in my religious duties as the
average woman, but one Kendall sermon was sufficient for me, thank
you. What you see in THAT church to please you, _I_ can't guess."

If she had attended as often as Madeline did she might have guessed
and saved herself much. But she was busy organizing, in connection
with Mrs. Seabury Calvin, a Literary Society among the summer
people of South Harniss. The Society was to begin work with the
discussion of the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore. Mrs. Fosdick
said she doted on Tagore; Mrs. Calvin expressed herself as being
positively insane about him. A warm friendship had sprung up
between the two ladies, as each was particularly fond of shining as
a literary light and neither under any circumstances permitted a
new lion to roar unheard in her neighborhood, provided, of course,
that the said roarings had been previously endorsed and well
advertised by the critics and the press.

So Mrs. Fosdick was too busy to accompany Madeline to church on
Sunday or to walk on Saturday, and the young lady was left to
wander pretty much at her own sweet will. That sweet will led her
footsteps to trails frequented by Albert Speranza and they walked
and talked and poetized together. As for Mr. Fletcher Fosdick, he
was busy at his office in New York and came to South Harniss only
for infrequent week-ends.

The walks and talks and poetizings were innocent enough. Neither
of the partners in poesy had the least idea of anything more than
being just that. They liked each other, they had come to call each
other by their Christian names, and on Albert's bureau Madeline's
photograph now stood openly and without apology. Albert had
convinced himself there was nothing to apologize for. She was his
friend, that was all. He liked to write and she liked to help him--
er--well, just as Helen used to when she was at home. He did not
think of Helen quite as often as formerly, nor were his letters to
her as frequent or as long.

So the summer passed and late August came, the last Saturday
afternoon of that month. Albert and Madeline were together,
walking together along the beach from the knoll where they had met
so often. It was six o'clock and the beach was deserted. There
was little wind, the tiny waves were lapping and plashing along the
shore, and the rosy light of the sinking sun lay warm upon the
water and the sand. They were thinking and speaking of the summer
which was so near its end.

"It has been a wonderful summer, hasn't it?" said Albert.

"Yes, wonderful," agreed Madeline.

"Yes, I--I--by George, I never believed a summer could be so

"Nor I."

Silence. Then Albert, looking at her, saw her eyes looking into
his and saw in them--

He kissed her.

That morning Albert Speranza had arisen as usual, a casual,
careless, perfectly human young fellow. He went to bed that night
a superman, an archangel, a demi-god, with his head in the clouds
and the earth a cloth of gold beneath his feet. Life was a pathway
through Paradise arched with rainbows.

He and Madeline Fosdick loved each other madly, devotedly. They
were engaged to be married. They had plighted troth. They were to
be each other's, and no one else's, for ever--and ever--and ever.


The remainder of that summer was a paradisical meandering over the
cloth of gold beneath the rainbows. Albert and his Madeline met
often, very often. Few poems were written at these meetings. Why
trouble to put penciled lines on paper when the entire universe was
a poem especially composed for your benefit? The lovers sat upon
the knoll amid the sand dunes and gazed at the bay and talked of
themselves separately, individually, and, more especially,
collectively. They strolled through the same woody lanes and
discussed the same satisfactory subjects. They met at the post
office or at the drug store and gazed into each other's eyes. And,
what was the most astonishing thing about it all, their secret
remained undiscovered. Undiscovered, that is to say, by those by
whom discovery would have meant calamity. The gossips among the
townspeople winked and chuckled and cal'lated Fletcher Fosdick had
better look out or his girl would be took into the firm of Z. Snow
and Co. Issachar Price uttered sarcastic and sly innuendoes. Jane
Kelsey and her set ragged the pair occasionally. But even these
never really suspected that the affair was serious. And neither
Mrs. Fletcher Fosdick nor Captain and Mrs. Zelotes Snow gave it a
minute's attention.

It was serious enough with the principals, however. To them it was
the only serious matter in the world. Not that they faced or
discussed the future with earnest and complete attention. Some day
or other--that was of course the mutually accepted idea--some day
or other they were to marry. In the meantime here was the blissful
present with its roses and rainbows and here, for each, was the
other. What would be likely to happen when the Fosdick parents
learned of the engagement of their only child to the assistant
bookkeeper of the South Harniss lumber and hardware company was
unpleasant to contemplate, so why contemplate it? Upon one point
they were agreed--never, never, NEVER would they give each other
up. No power on earth--which included parents and grandparents--
should or could separate them.

Albert's conscience troubled him slightly at first when he thought
of Helen Kendall. It had been in reality such a short time--
although of course it seemed ages and ages--since he had fancied
himself in love with her. Only the previous fall--yes, even
that very spring, he had asked her to pledge herself to him.
Fortunately--oh, how very fortunately!--she had refused, and he had
been left free. Now he knew that his fancied love for her had been
merely a passing whim, a delusion of the moment. This--THIS which
he was now experiencing was the grand passion of his life. He
wrote a poem with the title, "The Greater Love"--and sold it, too,
to a sensational periodical which circulated largely among
sentimental shopgirls. It is but truthful to state that the editor
of the magazine to which he first submitted it sent it back with
the brief note--"This is a trifle too syrupy for our use. Fear the
pages might stick. Why not send us another war verse?" Albert
treated the note and the editor with the contempt they deserved.
He pitied the latter; poor soul, doubtless HE had never known the
greater love.

He and Madeline had agreed that they would tell no one--no one at
all--of their betrothal. It should be their own precious secret
for the present. So, under the circumstances, he could not write
Helen the news. But ought he to write her at all? That question
bothered him not a little. He no longer loved her--in fact, he was
now certain that he never had loved her--but he liked her, and he
wanted her to keep on liking him. And she wrote to him with
regularity. What ought he to do about writing her?

He debated the question with himself and, at last, and with some
trepidation, asked Madeline's opinion of his duty in the matter.
Her opinion was decisive and promptly given. Of course he must not
write Helen again. "How would you like it if I corresponded with
another fellow?" she asked. Candor forced him to admit that he
should not like it at all. "But I want to behave decently," he
said. "She is merely a friend of mine"--oh, how short is memory!--
"but we have been friends for a long time and I wouldn't want to
hurt her feelings." "No, instead you prefer to hurt mine." "Now,
dearest, be reasonable." It was their nearest approach to a
quarrel and was a very, very sad affair. The making-up was sweet,
of course, but the question of further correspondence with Helen
Kendall remained just where it was at the beginning. And,
meanwhile, the correspondence lapsed.

September came far, far too soon--came and ended. And with it
ended also the stay of the Fosdicks in South Harniss. Albert and
Madeline said good-by at their rendezvous by the beach. It was a
sad, a tearful, but a very precious farewell. They would write
each other every day, they would think of each other every minute
of every day, they would live through the winter somehow and look
forward to the next spring and their next meeting.

"You will write--oh, ever and ever so many poems, won't you, dear?"
begged Madeline. "You know how I love them. And whenever I see
one of your poems in print I shall be so proud of you--of MY poet."

Albert promised to write ever and ever so many. He felt that there
would be no difficulty in writing reams of poems--inspired,
glorious poems. The difficulty would be in restraining himself
from writing too many of them. With Madeline Fosdick as an
inspiration, poetizing became as natural as breathing.

Then, which was unusual for them, they spoke of the future, the
dim, vague, but so happy future, when Albert was to be the nation's
poet laureate and Madeline, as Mrs. Laureate, would share his glory
and wear, so to speak, his second-best laurels. The disagreeable
problems connected with the future they ignored, or casually
dismissed with, "Never mind, dear, it will be all right by and by."
Oh, it was a wonderful afternoon, a rosy, cloudy, happy, sorrowful,
bitter-sweet afternoon.

And the next morning Albert, peeping beneath Z. Snow and Co.'s
office window shade, saw his heart's desire step aboard the train,
saw that train puff out of the station, saw for just an instant a
small hand waved behind the dingy glass of the car window. His own
hand waved in reply. Then the raucous voice of Mr. Price broke the

"Who was you flappin' your flipper at?" inquired Issachar. "Girl,
I'll bet you! Never saw such a critter as you be to chase after
the girls. Which one is it this time?"

Albert made no reply. Between embarrassment and sorrow he was
incapable of speech. Issachar, however, was not in that condition;
at all times when awake, and sometimes when asleep, Mr. Price
could, and usually did, speak.

"Which one is it this time, Al?" demanded Issy. "Eh? Crimus, see
him get red! Haw, haw! Labe," to Mr. Keeler, who came into the
office from the inner room, "which girl do you cal'late Al here is
wavin' by-bye to this mornin'? Who's goin' away on the cars this
mornin', Labe?"

Laban, his hands full of the morning mail, absently replied that he
didn't know.

"Yes, you do, too," persisted Issy. "You ain't listenin', that's
all. Who's leavin' town on the train just now?"

"Eh? Oh, I don't know. The Small folks are goin' to Boston, I
believe. And George Bartlett's goin' to Ostable on court business,
he told me. Oh, yes, I believe Cap'n Lote said that Fosdick woman
and her daughter were goin' back to New York. Back to New York--

Mr. Price crowed triumphantly. "Ah, ha!" he crowed. "Ah, ha!
That's the answer. That's the one he's shakin' day-days to, that
Fosdick girl. I've seen you 'round with her at the post office and
the ice cream s'loon. I'm onto you, Al. Haw, haw! What's her
name? Adeline? Dandelion? Madeline?--that's it! Say, how do you
think Helen Kendall's goin' to like your throwin' kisses to the
Madeline one, eh?"

The assistant bookkeeper was still silent. The crimson, however,
was leaving his face and the said face was paling rapidly. This
was an ominous sign had Mr. Price but known it. He did not know it
and cackled merrily on,

"Guess I'll have to tell Helen when she comes back home," he
announced. "Cal'late I'll put a flea in her ear. 'Helen,' I'll
say, 'don't feel too bad now, don't cry and get your handkerchief
all soakin', or nothin' like that. I just feel it's my duty to
tell ye that your little Albert is sparkin' up to somebody else.
He's waitin' on a party by the name of Padeline--no, Madeline--
Woodtick--no, Fosdick--and . . .' Here! let go of me! What are you

That last question was in the nature of a gurgle. Albert, his face
now very white indeed, had strode across the office, seized the
speaker by the front of his flannel shirt and backed him against
the wall.

"Stop," commanded Albert, between his teeth. "That's enough of
that. Don't you say any more!"

"Eh? Ugh! Ur-gg! Leggo of my shirt."

Albert let go, but he did not step back. He remained where he was,
exactly in front of Mr. Price.

"Don't you say any more about--about what you were saying," he

"Eh? Not say any more? Why not? Who's goin' to stop me, I'd like
to know?"

"I am."

"I want to know! What'll you do?"

"I don't know. If you weren't so old, I would--but I'll stop you,

Albert felt a hand on his arm and heard Mr. Keeler's voice at his

"Careful, Al, careful," it said. "Don't hit him."

"Of course I shan't hit him," indignantly. "What do you think I
am? But he must promise not to mention--er--Miss Fosdick's name

"Better promise, Is," suggested Laban. Issachar's mouth opened,
but no promise came forth.

"Promise be darned!" he yelled furiously. "Mention her name! I'll
mention any name I set out to, and no Italyun Portygee is goin' to
stop me, neither."

Albert glanced about the office. By the wall stood two brimming
pails of water, brought in by Mr. Price for floor-washing purposes.
He lifted one of the pails.

"If you don't promise I'll duck you," he declared. "Let go of me,
Keeler, I mean it."

"Careful, Al, careful," said Mr. Keeler. "Better promise, Is."

"Promise nawthin'! Fosdick! What in time do I care for Fosdicks,
Madelines or Padelines or Dandelions or--"

His sentence stopped just there. The remainder of it was washed
back and down his throat by the deluge from the bucket. Overcome
by shock and surprise, Mr. Price leaned back against the wall and
slid slowly down that wall until he reclined in a sitting posture,
upon the floor.

"Crimustee," he gasped, as soon as he could articulate, "I'm--awk--
I'm drownded."

Albert put down the empty bucket and picked up the full one.

"Promise," he said again.

Laban Keeler rubbed his chin.

"I'd promise if I was you, Is," he said. "You're some subject to
rheumatism, you know."

Issachar, sitting in a spreading puddle, looked damply upward at
the remaining bucket. "By crimustee--" he began. Albert drew the
bucket backward; the water dripped from its lower brim.

"I--I--darn ye, I promise!" shouted Issachar. Albert put down the
bucket and walked back to his desk. Laban watched him curiously,
smiling just a little. Then he turned to Mr. Price, who was
scrambling to his feet.

"Better get your mop and swab up here, Is," he said. "Cap'n
Lote'll be in 'most any minute."

When Captain Zelotes did return to the office, Issachar was
industriously sweeping out, Albert was hard at work at the books,
and Laban was still rubbing his chin and smiling at nothing in

The next day Albert and Issachar made it up. Albert apologized.

"I'm sorry, Issy," he said. "I shouldn't have done it, but you
made me mad. I have a--rather mean temper, I'm afraid. Forgive
me, will you?"

He held out his hand, and Issachar, after a momentary hesitation,
took it.

"I forgive you this time, Al," he said solemnly, "but don't never
do nothin' like it again, will ye? When I went home for dinner
yesterday noon I give you my word my clothes was kind of dampish
even then. If it hadn't been nice warm sunshine and I was out
doors and dried off considerable I'd a had to change everything,
underclothes and all, and 'tain't but the middle of the week yet."

His ducking had an effect which Albert noticed with considerable
satisfaction--he was never quite as flippantly personal in his
comments concerning the assistant bookkeeper. He treated the
latter, if not with respect, at least with something distantly akin
to it.

After Madeline's departure the world was very lonely indeed.
Albert wrote long, long letters and received replies which varied
in length but never in devotion. Miss Fosdick was obliged to be
cautious in her correspondence with her lover. "You will forgive
me if this is not much more than a note, won't you, dear?" she
wrote. "Mother seems to be very curious of late about my letters
and to whom I write and I had to just steal the opportunity this
morning." An older and more apprehensive person might have found
Mrs. Fosdick's sudden interest in her daughter's correspondence
suspicious and a trifle alarming, but Albert never dreamed of being

He wrote many poems, all dealing with love and lovers, and sold
some of them. He wrote no more letters to Helen. She, too, had
ceased to write him, doubtless because of the lack of reply to her
last two or three letters. His conscience still troubled him about
Helen; he could not help feeling that his treatment of her had not
been exactly honorable. Yet what else under the circumstances
could he do? From Mr. Kendall he learned that she was coming home
to spend Thanksgiving. He would see her then. She would ask him
questions? What should his answer be? He faced the situation in
anticipation many, many times, usually after he had gone to bed at
night, and lay awake through long torturing hours in consequence.

But when at last Helen and he did meet, the day before Thanksgiving,
their meeting was not at all the dreadful ordeal he had feared. Her
greeting was as frank and cordial as it had always been, and there
was no reproach in her tone or manner. She did not even ask him why
he had stopped writing. It was he, himself, who referred to that
subject, and he did so as they walked together down the main road.
Just why he referred to it he could not probably have told. He was
aware only that he felt mean and contemptible and that he must offer
some explanation. His not having any to offer made the task rather

But she saved him the trouble. She interrupted one of his
blundering, stumbling sentences in the middle.

"Never mind, Albert," she said quietly. "You needn't explain. I
think I understand."

He stopped and stared at her. "You understand?" he repeated.
"Why--why, no, you don't. You can't."

"Yes, I can, or I think I can. You have changed your mind, that is

"Changed my mind?"

"Yes. Don't you remember I told you you would change your mind
about--well, about me? You were so sure you cared so very, very
much for me, you know. And I said you mustn't promise anything
because I thought you would change your mind. And you have. That
is it, isn't it? You have found some one else."

He gazed at her as if she were a witch who had performed a miracle.

"Why--why--well, by George!" he exclaimed. "Helen--how--how did
you know? Who told you?"

"No one told me. But I think I can even guess who it is you have
found. It is Madeline Fosdick, isn't it?"

His amazement now was so open-mouthed as well as open-eyed that she
could not help smiling.

"Don't! Don't stare at me like that," she whispered. "Every one
is looking at you. There is old Captain Pease on the other side of
the street; I'm sure he thinks you have had a stroke or something.
Here! Walk down our road a little way toward home with me. We can
talk as we walk. I'm sure," she added, with just the least bit of
change in her tone, "that your Madeline won't object to our being
together to that extent."

She led the way down the side street toward the parsonage and he
followed her. He was still speechless from surprise.

"Well," she went on, after a moment, "aren't you going to say

"But--but, Helen," he faltered, "how did you know?"

She smiled again. "Then it IS Madeline," she said. "I thought it
must be."

"You--you thought-- What made you think so?"

For an instant she seemed on the point of losing her patience.

Then she turned and laid her hand on his arm.

"Oh, Al," she said, "please don't think I am altogether an idiot.
I surmised when your letters began to grow shorter and--well,
different--that there was something or some one who was changing
them, and I suspected it was some one. When you stopped writing
altogether, I KNEW there must be. Then father wrote in his letters
about you and about meeting you, and so often Madeline Fosdick was
wherever he met you. So I guessed--and, you see, I guessed right."

He seized her hand.

"Oh, Helen," he cried, "if you only knew how mean I have felt and
how ashamed I am of the way I have treated you! But, you see, I--I
COULDN'T write you and tell you because we had agreed to keep it a
secret. I couldn't tell ANY ONE."

"Oh, it is as serious as that! Are you two really and truly

"Yes. There! I've told it, and I swore I would never tell."

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest