RECONSTRUCTION


Grimshaw remained at the Manor for about half an hour after Wilverley
had left. To his astonishment he discovered that the fire, from the
point of view of Lady Selina’s servants, was regarded as a blessing in
disguise. An enormous quantity of rubbish had been destroyed, the
accumulation of generations. It appeared, also, that dry-rot in the
ancient timbers had caused much anxiety and expense. And an immense roof
had leaked persistently.

None the less, Grimshaw gazed at the still smoking ruins with sorrowful
eyes. A clever architect would be able to preserve these. The
significance of this penetrated into Grimshaw’s mind. Certain elementary
things seemed destined to endure in a world of chance and decay.
Insensibly, he began to compare persons with things. The insoluble
problem of heredity and environment presented itself. It was difficult
to envisage Lady Selina Chandos in a new house. Would modern
improvements affect her? He remembered that Cicely had denied the
possibility of earthquakes in English villages. And within a few hours
an earthquake had taken place, something cataclysmic, to which,
willy-nilly, the lady of the manor must adapt herself.

He returned to his lodgings to swallow food without appetite. Then he
went to the dispensary to prepare Lady Selina’s sleeping-draught. In the
dispensary word came to him that Dr. Pawley wished to see him, not—so
it turned out—professionally. Indeed, the exciting events seemed to
have had a tonic effect. Pawley, very alert, had become a lively note of
interrogation, asking eager questions, interpolating shrewd remarks,
alive to the humours of the situation but full of sympathy for Lady
Selina.

“Has it been an eye-opener?” he asked.

“I hope so.”

“I suppose I know the dear woman better than anybody else, better,
perhaps, than she knows herself. She has all the virtues of her
class—fortitude, courtesy, sincerity and pluck.”

“You can say as much of some of her dependents. Isaac Burble, for
instance, and old Stimson.”

“True. Extremes meet. I like to think of that. The trouble becomes acute
when extremes don’t meet. In a sense I have always regarded her as
short-circuited.”

Grimshaw nodded. Pawley’s never-failing interest in others invited
confidence. And his advice would be sincere and helpful. The impulse to
tell his secret became irresistible. He began tentatively:

“The breaking of the Wilverley-Chandos engagement rather upset you,
didn’t it?”

“For the moment. I was so sorry for the mother. And it meant so much to
the village. We old bachelors are confirmed matchmakers. Yes, yes; it
upset me, but I can admit frankly that I left little Cicely out of my
reckoning. She didn’t want a good fellow, and she cut loose from him.
The why and wherefore are beyond me, but the essential fact suffices.”

“Perhaps she cared for somebody else?”

Pawley shook his head.

“No, no; in that case I venture to think that I should have had an
inkling, eh? Since she came out, the child has met nobody—_nobody_.”

Grimshaw laughed.

“Exactly. Now be prepared for a shock. I’m nobody. In Lady Selina’s eyes
that describes me to a dot.”

Pawley was not dense, but, for an instant, he was befogged, and Grimshaw
realised this, and with it the inevitable conclusion that even his
friend and colleague regarded him, like Lady Selina, as negligible. He
smiled derisively: and the smile was illuminating. Pawley understood.

“Good Lord! I’ve been blind.”

“There wasn’t much to see. I was blind myself till yesterday. And then,
suddenly, I saw. I’ll add this to you. I fell in love with her five
minutes after I met her. When I scraped that midge out of her eye the
big thing happened. I fought against it. Yesterday I succumbed. She—she
cares for me, bless her!”

“You mean it’s settled?”

“Settled! I wonder if anything more unsettling to all concerned could
have happened.”

Pawley remained silent, a silence misapprehended by Grimshaw, who
reflected, naturally enough, that congratulation was deemed impossible.
But the elder man had embarked upon a long pilgrimage at racing speed.
He was whirled back to those far-off days when he, a nobody, aspired to
enter a guarded pleasaunce, with its conspicuous notice: “Trespassers
Beware!” He had entered it and left it—alone. Ever since he had
remained alone a festering fact. His kindly eyes rested upon Grimshaw’s
tired face. He held out his thin hand.

“Can I help you to win through?”

His sympathy was so unexpected after a long silence that Grimshaw
stammered a reply:

“You—you think I am w-w-worthy?”

Pawley gripped the hand in his.

“If you can ask that question sincerely, you are. I take it Lady Selina
doesn’t know?”

Grimshaw plunged into fluent speech. When he finished, Pawley was in
possession of what had passed between the lovers, of the compromise
exacted by Cicely, of its effect upon Grimshaw. He listened with
pursed-up lips and frowning brows. Then he delivered his considered
judgment:

“You are stumbling along in ruts. Where have they led me? Where have
they led Goodrich? Come out of them, my dear fellow. Cicely is wrong.
But there is every excuse for her.”

“Then Lady Selina is not to be ‘spared’?”

Pawley made a deprecating gesture.

“Has Omnipotence spared her? The longer I live, Grimshaw, the more
amazed I am at human fallibility. We mean well, most of us, and we do
ill. And ill follows our benevolent efforts. Per contra, good rises out
of evil. Anyway, compromise has been the curse of my life.” He paused,
adding in a lower tone: “Compromise came between me and the woman I
loved. It was too much for both of us. Be honest with Lady Selina. It’s
your best chance. In her heart, and it’s a big heart, she must have a
measure of contempt for poor old Goodrich and me, because we have
kowtowed to her.”

“If I could get at her heart——I have a weapon——”

“A weapon?” Pawley winced at the word. “What sort of weapon?”

“It would lose some of its edge if I showed it to you, I shall not use
it unless I am driven to do so.”

Pawley was too courteous to ask for further explanation.

II

Grimshaw returned to the Rockram cottage much the better for his talk
with Pawley, but conscious, also, that a wise old man was not optimistic
in regard to his chances. He had the wit and the will to plead his case
strongly. The real issue, so he reflected, lay between strength and
obstinacy.

Mrs. Rockram was awaiting him.

“You made a pore dinner, sir, and I thought, maybe, you’d fancy some
nice hot soup.”

“Bless your kind heart, I do.”

As he ate his soup, she hovered about him, eager to talk over the fire
and the soul-stirring events on the green. Knowing her to be a faithful
servant of the House of Chandos and devoted to its mistress, he yielded
to the temptation to draw from her some expression of opinion. Obviously
she sided with Authority.

“My lady’ll never be the same again, never!”

“In what way do you think she will change?”

“The ingratitude of ’em’ll eat into her bones.”

“Ah! Lady Selina used that word.”

Mrs. Rockram expressed the positive opinion that no other word could be
used by a perfect lady. Emboldened by Grimshaw’s silence, she went on:

“I know my place, sir, but I did pass the remark to Rockram: ‘Her
ladyship’ll up and leave us,’ I says, ‘to stew in our own sauce.’”

“I can’t see her ladyship outside Upworthy.”

“Maybe. But I have seen her. In my day we went to London every year.”

“And am I to infer, Mrs. Rockram, that her ladyship is a different woman
away from Upworthy?”

Mrs. Rockram rebuked him delicately.

“A lady, like my lady, is a _lady_ wherever she may be. But in the room
we used to remark that her ladyship in town was different.”

“In what way? This is interesting.”

“Rockram was butler in them days. The little I knows I gets from him. My
lady took things easier in Curzon Street, never fussed like. Very
popular she was, too, with the _crême de la crême_.”

“I dare say your good cooking had something to do with that.”

“Maybe. There was no pinching in those days—the best of everything. And
no trouble neither. The best came to the kitchen door.”

“It doesn’t now, not even in London.”

“Well, sir, all I says is that my lady is at the age when peace and
comfort come first. If she can’t get ’em here, she’ll go elsewhere; and
quite right, too.”

Left alone, Grimshaw smoked a pipe before turning in. Tobacco, however,
failed to soothe him. Mrs. Rockram’s words rankled. Peace and comfort!
Peace at any price! With war raging over all the civilised world, who
wouldn’t set an extravagant value on peace? The merely material
difficulty of rebuilding her house, with every able-bodied man in khaki,
might drive Lady Selina out of Upworthy. And once out, once settled in a
snug town house, would she return?

III

At eleven next morning he crossed the green to dress Lady Selina’s arm.
Upworthy presented to his critical eye no apparent change from the
normal. What villagers he met greeted him with a sheepish and apologetic
air. Ebullition of feeling had simmered away. Even Timothy Farleigh had
reassumed his bovine mask, although his face was brighter, Mary being
decidedly better, and likely to improve from hour to hour. Agatha
thanked him effusively, on her marrow-bones before his “cleverness.” She
repeated the same phrase again and again:

“Oh! you are clever, sir; you saved us all, you did.”

“A bit of luck. I saw the wax vesta in the boy’s hand.”

“And so did I, sir. It told me just nothing, nothing.”

“You were too excited to notice trifles at such a time.” He paused,
adding significantly: “Are you still excited?”

She flushed a little, hesitating, but constrained to candour beneath his
kindly glance.

“Things can’t go on as they are, sir, can they?”

Her tone was interrogative, not defiant. Recognising the change in her
mental attitude, he said genially:

“Things never do go on as they are, nor persons. The progress of the
world is intermittent; and it rolls on in curves, now up, now down, but
the mean level is steadily rising. Ill-considered speech and action clog
the wheels. You can give a motor too much lubricating oil, can’t you?”

“I am very sorry that I misunderstood you, sir.”

With these heartening words he left the Farleigh cottage and walked more
briskly to the Vicarage.

Cicely, you may be sure, contrived to see him alone for a minute. From
her manner he could divine nothing of her feelings, because they met in
the small hall within reach of curious eyes and ears. He fancied that
her hand lay cold in his. And her expression was troubled.

“Your mother has passed a bad night?”

“Mother slept soundly, thanks to your draught. She’s up; in the
drawing-room. She insists on going to London at once. We are likely to
stay there for several months.”

“I see.”

“But do you see? I can’t.” Her voice was almost piteous. “Perhaps it’s
for the best. I don’t know. And she talks of sending the family
solicitor down here to deal with Snitterfield and Gridley. But he’s an
old fossil. They’ll twist him round their fingers. Can’t you coax her
into staying here?”

“I am not very sanguine of succeeding where you have failed.”

He followed her into the drawing-room, where Lady Selina was enthroned
in a large chair, with energy exuding from her. Grimshaw did the little
that was necessary. He had to admit that the burn was not serious.
Cicely could attend to it. Lady Selina said briskly:

“I want to talk to you, Mr. Grimshaw. Please sit down. Cicely, my dear,
you needn’t go. You are vitally concerned in what I have to say.”

Cicely betrayed slight nervousness. Grimshaw sat down near Lady Selina.
He perceived that she was overbrimming with considered speech.

“I awoke with a clear mind,” she affirmed. “I have had an object-lesson,
not wasted upon me, I can assure you. I admit that I have been blind to
what has been going on under my nose. And I can take into consideration
the—the—a—consideration that has been, not too wisely, given to me.
Enough of that. I can’t, under the circumstances, call in Lord
Wilverley, as you suggested. But there are others. My own solicitor, for
instance. I shall instruct him to institute a sort of court of inquiry
here. He will know how to deal with this man Snitterfield and our
Inspector of Nuisances.”

“Will he?” asked Grimshaw quietly.

Lady Selina answered with slight acerbity:

“Of course he will. Before he meets these men, I shall ask him to have a
talk with you. Out of the chaos of yesterday, one phrase bites deeply
into my memory. I was told by Timothy Farleigh that my village is a
whited sepulchre. You didn’t contradict him.”

The unhappy Cicely wriggled in her chair. Grimshaw remained silent. Lady
Selina continued inexorably:

“It is possible, Mr. Grimshaw, that you didn’t contradict him because
you share his opinion of Upworthy. Do you?”

Cicely interposed hastily:

“Mother, do wait till you are yourself again.”

“Nonsense, child! I am very much myself this morning. Who wouldn’t be
after such an awakening? Mr. Grimshaw will do me the justice to believe
that I am in no mood to spare myself or anybody else. If Mr. Grimshaw
honestly thinks that Upworthy is a whited sepulchre, let him say so.”

“Mother. I entreat you!”

Lady Selina waved her hand impatiently.

“I must find out what the doctor of the parish thinks. I detest
evasions. Heaven knows we have had enough of them.”

Grimshaw replied eagerly:

“I am sorely tempted to evade your question, Lady Selina. And I could do
so easily. But you have chosen to raise the big issue between us, and I
dare not shirk it. _I dare not shirk it._” He repeated the words so
sorrowfully that she eyed him more attentively. After the pause he went
on: “The metaphor may be crude and harsh. It is. I should not have
chosen it myself. But conditions are fundamentally wrong here, as I
ventured to hint to you at our very first meeting.”

“Hints! Hints! Let us away with hints. Please tell me this: If—if
conditions are so fundamentally wrong here—which I don’t admit—why are
you working here? Why did you come back to—to a whited sepulchre?”

Her tone became indescribably ironic, charged, too, with a feeling that
she was unable to suppress. Feeling always engenders feeling. Something
about Grimshaw, the conviction that he was intensely moved, moved her.
She scented mystery. And immediately this suspicion was heightened as
she intercepted a glance of Cicely’s directed full at Grimshaw, a
supplicating glance, beseeching forbearance and patience. Tiddy had
predicted aright. Cicely was no actress. Grimshaw, unable for his part
to dissemble, returned the glance. Obviously there was an understanding,
or a misunderstanding, between these two. In a harder voice Lady Selina
addressed the silent Grimshaw.

“Why do you look at my daughter? That boy, last night, said that you
were afraid of her. Why? Is there any sort of—of league between you?”

The hunted Cicely burst out:

“A common desire to spare you.”

“To spare me? Thank you for nothing. I demand the truth. Why is Mr.
Grimshaw, a clever, distinguished man, working here under conditions
which he holds to be fundamentally wrong?”

Throughout this interview, so poignantly illuminating, Grimshaw had been
sensible of Lady Selina’s sincerity and intelligence. He had never
doubted the former; the latter gave him pause. Granting that she was
really intelligent, an acute observer, why had she drifted into this
_impasse_? Then he remembered what Pawley had said of her, her utter
lack of business training, the stigma of all women of her class, and
behind this the inherited instinct to move slowly in an appointed
groove. Out of this groove she had been rudely shaken. For the first
time she had a glimpse of what such women might accomplish if they were
freed from the fetters of tradition and convention. He replied calmly:

“What governs most of our actions, Lady Selina? Self-interest.
Self-interest lured me into staying here against my better judgment.
Self-interest brought me back to Upworthy, although I knew that the
basic conditions were not likely to be changed.”

“Self-interest?” She slowly repeated the two odious words, evidently
puzzled, but keenly alert. “I can’t for the life of me see where
self-interest comes in. Making due allowance for your modesty, Mr.
Grimshaw, I fail to follow you. A big town is the place for you, not a
country parish. You are the nephew of a distinguished London physician.
You must know, better than I do, that self-interest, if you are speaking
professionally, ought to have kept you away from Upworthy.”

“I was not speaking professionally.”

“Oh-h-h!”

“I have been weak; something, too, of a coward; but I promise you that
self-interest is going to be scrapped here and now.”

“I am utterly at a loss——!”

“You will be enlightened at once.”

He stood up, the light from the windows falling full upon his face.

“I have stayed here because I love your daughter.”

IV

Lady Selina gasped as she sat rigid in her chair, but of the three she
was the first to recover self-possession. Cicely, absolutely unprepared,
remained tremblingly silent. Grimshaw was too moved to say more. After
an interminable pause, he heard the autocrat’s soft, derisive voice:

“My son, Brian, warned me against that possibility, and I laughed at
him—I laughed at him.”

Grimshaw spoke less calmly.

“I am not ashamed of loving her, but I am ashamed of trying to win a
wife by playing the humbug and hypocrite.”

Lady Selina tried in vain to assimilate this. He loved Cicely; did she
love him? The girl was now, apparently, in one of her absurd trances,
looking exactly like her father. The mother was familiar with these
curious seizures, but Grimshaw knew nothing of them. Cicely seemed to be
turned into stone. She looked cold as marble. Beneath this impassive
surface a battle was raging, as before, between the two Cicelys. The
body remained aloof and inert. To the old Cicely Grimshaw’s declaration
seemed brutally inopportune. Without consulting her, he had sunk all the
little boats, a tiny fleet, which carried her plans and hopes. She felt
that she was swamped with them, foundering helplessly in mid-channel
with the farther shore almost within sight. With so much at stake, why
had he acted so precipitately? At such moment, odd phrases obsess the
mind. She kept on repeating to herself a French sentence learnt at
school, an exercise in articulation:

“_Je me précipite_,

“_Tu te précipites_,

“_Il se précipite_.”

Grimshaw was confounded, as he stared at her, and instantly he, too,
became the prey of mental civil war. Doubt assailed him. He was racked
by the tormenting thought that his judgment had been cruelly at fault.
Conscious that he had risen to opportunity, that he had soared high
above mean and material considerations, he seemed to be looking down
upon his beloved grovelling in the dust of the ages—dust of that
dust—disintegrating before his eyes——! Impetuously he spoke:

“I can, of course, leave Upworthy.”

Lady Selina hesitated, but not for long. She observed coldly:

“Under the circumstances, Mr. Grimshaw, that is the wise thing to do.”

The hypercritical may affirm that it was not, under the circumstances,
the wise thing for a mother to say, inasmuch as it forced into action an
apparently apathetic and dazed creature. For the moment, Cicely remained
as before. Then, with a sharp exclamation, she stood up—revitalised,
quickened incredibly. She seemed to Grimshaw to expand from a girl into
a woman, a complete individuality, self-reliant, capable, almost
dominating; the new Cicely, the daughter of strenuous times, born of
them, exulting in them, as fresh as Aphrodite when she rose from the
waves.

“I shall go with him.”

Swiftly she crossed to his side, lifting a radiant face to his. Then she
addressed her mother, speaking very softly, but clearly, with enchanting
tenderness.

“I love him as devotedly as he loves me.”

Lady Selina shivered, as if seized by a rigor. In a pathological sense
this had indeed happened. A rigor of the mind caused a sort of collapse.
She lay back in her chair, closing her eyes. Cicely hastened to her.

“Mother, this is a dreadful surprise to you. But you love me, don’t you?
You won’t be unkind?”

A dreary voice, hardly recognisable, answered her:

“In a few hours I have lost my house, my people, and my daughter.”

V

Cicely fell on her knees beside her.

“Not your daughter!” she exclaimed passionately.

Lady Selina opened her eyes at the touch of Cicely’s hands. Something of
the girl’s determination may have flowed to her. Possibly, too, the
presence of Grimshaw hardened her, although, deliberately, she ignored
him. Her strength returned, the energy which she had never frittered
away during a long, tranquil life.

“Is your mind really made up, Cicely? Is it?”

“Yes.”

The firmness of tone was sufficiently convincing.

“You wish to marry a man who is against me, who sides with my enemies?”

Grimshaw answered her.

“I am not against _you_, Lady Selina. You belong to the old order. I
belong to the new. I have never indicted your sincerity of purpose. I
hope you won’t indict mine.”

She shrugged her shoulders, saying with finality:

“I stick to my order. I can’t change. We don’t change.”

He came nearer.

“But—your son changed.”

“What——?”

Obviously, she considered herself challenged, and unfairly challenged.
She sat up. Her eyes sparkled. She spoke with intensity:

“He did not change. My boy stood by me always—always.”

“He changed after he had faced—realities.”

Cicely was no longer on her knees. She had risen, when Grimshaw
approached, retreating a little, divining somehow that her lover was
about to use a weapon of which she knew nothing. But the weapon, when
she saw it, inspired little confidence. Brian, so far as she was aware,
had not changed. Were he alive, he would stand beside his mother now and
always, as she affirmed with such poignant conviction. None the less
faith in her lover remained constant.

Lady Selina addressed Cicely, not Grimshaw.

“Do you remember, child, that Brian came home on leave shortly after Mr.
Grimshaw left Upworthy to go to France?”

“I remember.”

“Your brother was Mr. Grimshaw’s friend, and fully alive to his many
sterling qualities and, and—attractions. Because of these he guessed
what might happen. And he warned me. And, as I say, I laughed at him.
Brian would say, if he were present, what I am about to say.”

She paused to select the right words, thinking not only of her son but
of her husband. Brian, possibly, was more Danecourt than Chandos, and
dearer to the mother on that account. But in matters which concerned the
women of his family he was unquestionably his father’s son, a stickler
for tradition, an upholder of the unwritten law which forbade marriage
between persons of unequal social position. She continued with austere
solemnity:

“I can hardly believe, Cicely, that you have considered what is at
stake. This big property was left to me to pass on to a successor, to a
child whom your dear father and I believed to be bone of our bone,
sharing our ideas and governing principles, content, like us, to walk in
the old ways, to carry on our work. Brian would have done so. But he
died——”

Her voice died away mournfully.

Cicely edged nearer, much moved. But when she attempted to take her
mother’s hand, Lady Selina repulsed her, saying quietly:

“I am speaking now for Brian, for your father, and for myself. If you
decide to marry what I firmly believe to be the wrong man, Upworthy and
all it includes will go to your cousin George.”

Cicely gazed incredulously at her mother. Slowly, incredulity vanished.
The familiar figure of Brian took its place. He stood between her and
happiness. He had been resurrected from the dead for this one inflexible
purpose. Then he, too, melted away, and she beheld Upworthy, the village
with its pretty thatched cottages, the rich pastures, and beyond them
the woods and uplands—an Arcadian paradise out of which Brian was
driving her——

Lastly, she perceived her cousin George, lord of this goodly manor. She
had never liked George. And he was one of the “Indispensables” at the
War Office, a-glitter with decorations not earned upon the field of
battle. The last time she had talked to George, he had held forth
prosingly upon the good old days before the war. Whatever happened,
George would “carry on” in the easy grooves, and be more concerned about
breeding pheasants than the housing of peasants——

Her mind cleared as she glanced at Grimshaw. Here stood the
flesh-and-blood reality, the man of her choice. Their eyes met,
flashing. Each disdained Cupid’s adventitious lures and guiles. He
seemed to be saying: “Read me! Look well before you leap!”

Accordingly, she looked deep into a mind and heart open for her
inspection. Then she leapt without fear.

“If I have to choose between Upworthy and my lover, I take him.”

With a noble gesture she held out her hand. Grimshaw took it, holding it
tenderly.

“I am the proudest and happiest man in the kingdom.”

Lady Selina, not untouched, and sensible, perhaps, that duty was goading
her on along the appointed path, observed judicially:

“I have spoken for my dead son, you understand?”

“But not his last word?” said Grimshaw.

“Not his last word?” she repeated. “What can you mean?”

“I have a letter from him, written just before he went. He spoke in that
letter of you, Lady Selina, and of Upworthy, and of me.”

“Have you seen this letter, Cicely?” asked Lady Selina.

“No.”

“No one has seen it,” said Grimshaw, “except myself. I brought it with
me this morning.”

“Please give it to me.”

She held out a trembling hand. Grimshaw took an envelope from his
pocket. Lady Selina saw the familiar writing through a mist of unshed
tears.

“I c-can’t read it,” she faltered.

“May I?” Cicely asked eagerly. Hardly waiting for an affirmative, she
took the letter and glanced at it.

“Oh-h-h!”

“What is it, child?”

“It is dated only two days before he died.”

“Read it aloud.”

As Cicely obeyed, the mother covered her face with her hand. Cicely’s
voice faltered and broke more than once, but she read on and on till
almost the end.

“‘My dear old Grimmer,—I shall be over the top in a few hours, and
mayn’t come back. In the old days you tried to make me think. I’ve had
to do it out here. If there isn’t a purpose behind all this slaughter,
one must come out of it. I see now it’s up to us to do what we can, not
only at the Front, but where our men come from. They deserve it. By God!
they do. I know at long last that I was wrong not to back you up about
our village. I sided with my mother. She’s the dearest thing, but
however beautiful the past may be, we can’t live in it. And she does. If
Upworthy ever comes to me, I’ll do what you want, if it costs me my last
bob. I should like to see England come out of this splendid all through.
It might be so, and it isn’t. If things go wrong, tell my mother this
some day, but not yet, because she isn’t ripe for it. If I know her,
she’ll try to do something for me that I can’t do for myself. She always
did. There’s one more thing heavy on my mind——’”

Cicely paused.

“Go on!”

The command was almost inaudible. Cicely read on:

“‘It’s about Cis. I put a spoke in your wheel because I shared Mother’s
ideas about suitable matches, and all that. Now, whether I win through
or not, I hope that you and she will come together. Bless you both!’”

Silently, Grimshaw moved to the window and stood with his back to the
two women. He could see the trim lawn, once more in order. The gap
through which the excited villagers had burst their way was still open.
He heard Lady Selina’s voice:

“Give me the letter, child.”

For a moment, Lady Selina held the letter, murmuring: “My son!—my son!”

Then she re-read it, Cicely kneeling beside her, hiding her tear-stained
face in her mother’s lap. The letter fluttered to the ground. Cicely
felt her mother’s hand upon her head.

“I—I wonder if he knows?”

Cicely looked up.

“What should he know, Mother?”

“He might know that his message to me has been delivered, and——”

“And——?”

“And accepted.”

Continue Reading

REVOLUTION

Mother and daughter were left alone in the Vicarage drawing-room,
pending the arrival of Grimshaw, who was likely to come in at any
moment. The parson bustled off to collogue with an ancient parlour-maid,
who exacted tactful treatment. Long ago the parson’s wife had passed to
a much-needed rest, a fact, indeed, stated positively upon her
tombstone.

Lady Selina sank pathetically into a comfortable arm-chair. Cicely
regarded her anxiously, but admiringly. She bent down to kiss her cheek,
murmuring:

“Dear mother, you are brave.”

Lady Selina sighed, leaning her head upon her uninjured hand. It was
difficult to interpret the expression upon her fine face. Behind the
physical weariness, an odd look of bewilderment revealed itself. When
she spoke, something else—was it acrimony or amazement?—challenged
Cicely’s attention.

“How smug this room is!”

Cicely glanced round. Her mother had hit the right word. Smug, indeed!
But, familiar as she was from childhood with every stick of furniture,
Cicely had never till this moment realised the smugness. And that, of
course, jumped to the eye when it was mentioned. Every room has its
particular message. Cicely knew that nothing in that prim apartment had
been changed during five-and-twenty years. Anæmic water-colour drawings
adorned the walls, which were demurely grey, a lasting tint. The
curtains and the seats of sundry chairs were excellent samples of Mrs.
Goodrich’s tireless needlework. They seemed to say, modestly: “See what
patient industry can achieve!” The steel fender and fire-irons were more
vocal “Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.” The
well-worn carpet was immaculate; not a speck of dust could be detected
upon the china ornaments or upon the rosewood furniture. A betting man
would have laid heavy odds against finding cobwebs under the upright
piano, starkly upright, naked and not ashamed. Cicely could remember the
parson’s wife playing hymns and sonatinas upon it. Surely it would
explode with indignation if the syncopated rhythm of rag-time were
blasphemously imposed upon the ivory keys——! It was terrible to
reflect that such an instrument, sanctified, so to speak, to Divine
Service, might be debased—after a defiling public sale—to a worst
inn’s best room, to be banged by trippers.

These thoughts flashed into Cicely’s mind.

“It is smug,” she assented. “It knows, probably, that it’s just right.
Yes, self-righteousness is the note.”

She laughed a little, but Lady Selina remained unamused.

“Cicely, some of my people didn’t help at the fire.”

This was an arresting statement, impossible to assimilate at a gulp.
Cicely replied hastily:

“I saw many helping.”

“I saw some—laughing.”

“I laughed myself a moment ago. It’s just excitement. I felt
hysterical.”

Lady Selina appeared to be wandering down a maze of introspection,
picking her way in and out of blind alleys. She asked a question.

“How long has this bitter feeling of the Farleighs against me been
smouldering?”

“I—I suppose ever since his little girls died.”

“You were aware of it?”

“Ye—es.”

“Then, why didn’t you warn me?”

“I—I don’t know.”

After a pause Lady Selina continued heavily:

“I am forced to the conclusion that things—important things—have been
kept from me. Why? Why?”

Cicely blushed faintly, thinking of Grimshaw’s phrase: “the conspiracy
of silence.”

“Perhaps, Mother, those who loved you wanted to spare you.”

Lady Selina nodded.

“I understand. I have been regarded by those who loved me as a fool
content in her paradise.”

As she spoke Grimshaw was ushered in. He crossed to his patient, saying
courteously:

“Forgive an unavoidable delay, Lady Selina. I had to dress your
coachman’s hand.”

“My poor Hutchings——! Is he much hurt?”

“He thinks so. It’s nothing. He hasn’t your pluck.”

As he spoke, he took from his bag a roll of absorbent cotton wool and a
bottle of picric acid solution, which he placed upon a table where such
articles were eyed askance by a Parian-marble lady under a glass dome.
Deftly, he removed the sling.

“Tell me if I hurt you.”

“I shall do nothing of the sort.”

In the presence of a comparative stranger, Lady Selina had reassumed her
manner, so natural to her, so indisputably her shining armour. The
sudden change confounded Cicely. Which was the real woman?

Grimshaw addressed Cicely professionally:

“More light, Miss Chandos.”

Cicely pulled back the curtains, which always slightly obscured the
light, because ample folds revealed the needlework.

“That’s much better.”

He examined the burn, and then cut off a pad of the sterilised cotton,
which he wetted with the picric solution.

“How red the burn looks!” remarked Cicely. She could see that her mother
was not only grateful to the doctor, but pleased with the man. Lady
Selina murmured approval.

“Your touch is as light as a woman’s. What are you using?”

“Picric acid solution.”

She never winced as he dressed the burn. Her tones were as light as his
touch:

“Dear me! You were going to dine with us this evening! And I had ordered
such a nice little dinner.”

Behind Lady Selina a French window opened upon the lawn, which faced the
village green. Through this window floated noises culminating in cheers.

“Please shut that window,” commanded Grimshaw.

“Please don’t,” said the Lady of the Manor. “The atmosphere of this room
is slightly oppressive. I suppose the dear souls are cheering me.”

“Safety-pin, Miss Chandos.”

The parson entered, blandly beaming.

“Your chauffeur has come back from Wilverley, Lady Selina. The fire
engine is at the Hall, under Lord Wilverley’s direction. Lord Wilverley
has put the Court at your disposal, but I told him that you had accepted
my own more modest shelter.”

“Many thanks.”

Grimshaw interposed.

“I should like you to go to bed at once.”

“My dear doctor! _After_ I have dined.”

“_Before._ You have sustained a shock.”

“I have.” She smiled ironically. “But I am myself again.”

Goodrich went out. From the green came raucous laughter, punctuated by
groans and cat-calls. Lady Selina sat upright, frowning.

“I don’t understand this noise.”

“Nor I,” said Cicely.

“It sounds like a sort of—a—demonstration.”

She glanced interrogatively at Grimshaw, who was apparently intent upon
his dressing. He said pleasantly:

“I think I can promise you that there won’t be any scar.”

“Not on my arm, you mean?”

“Not on your arm.”

Attempting to interpret the derisive inflection of her voice, he asked
lightly:

“I hope your house was well insured?”

“Oh, yes. Fully. This noise is very extraordinary.”

“I think I must insist upon shutting that window, Lady Selina. It would
be unwise to run risks of taking cold, you know.”

“I don’t take cold.”

Grimshaw went to the window and closed it. Lady Selina submitted.

Stimson appeared, much perturbed.

“What is it, Stimson?”

“I’ve been on the green, my lady, and—and——” he broke off gaspingly.

“Bless the man! What’s the matter with him?”

“Nothing, my lady. They left me alone, my lady. It’s Mr. Gridley. He—he
wanted to break up the crowd. He said . . .”

“Well, what did he say?”

The unhappy Stimson, dirty and dishevelled, grasping the rags of his
former dignity, replied austerely:

“I beg your ladyship’s pardon; I must be excused from repeating what Mr.
Gridley said. Very rough tongue he has.”

Beside herself with impatience, Lady Selina rapped out:

“Am I never to get the plain truth from my own people? What has
happened?”

“As I left the green, my lady, they were chasing Mr. Gridley into the
pond. It isn’t a deep pond, my lady, but full of horseleeches.”

“I must go out at once.”

“No,” said Grimshaw as positively.

Cicely signed to Stimson to leave the room; he obeyed deprecatingly.

“The Riot Act must be read by me, Mr. Grimshaw. When you crossed the
green just now did you notice bad temper on the part of the crowd?”

“Well, yes.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

He replied quietly:

“Because you are my patient.”

“What has caused this?”

“John Exton’s arrest.”

“I must go at once.”

She stood up. Grimshaw said firmly:

“Forgive me—it isn’t safe.”

Lady Selina smiled incredulously. At the same time she was sensible of
Grimshaw’s sympathy, of his unmistakable solicitude, expressed not so
much by his voice, but by his eyes. She thought to herself: “This young
man is considerate; he has the old-fashioned protective instincts about
women.”

“Not safe, you mean, for your patient?”

Grimshaw never answered the question, because Goodrich came in through
the French window, closing it after him; but significant sounds entered
with him. Obviously some of the unruly were trespassing upon the
Vicarage lawn, stamping down the moss.

“This is a revolt,” said the Lady of the Manor.

Goodrich might have replied: “No, madame; it’s revolution,” but he was
beyond quotation. In a troubled voice he delivered a message.

“Timothy Farleigh wants to see you.”

“Don’t see him, Mother,” entreated Cicely. “You’re not up to it.”

“Not up to it? What an idea! I will see any of my people, or all of
them, at any time.”

“He is on my lawn,” said Goodrich. “My privet fence is broken down.”

“Can I see him here, Mr. Goodrich?”

“Certainly, if you insist.”

He went out, carrying a head out of which distressed and congested eyes
bulged prominently. When he came back, Timothy accompanied him. Agatha
and the softy followed. Nobody noticed them. The parson shut the window.
Timothy approached Lady Selina, very erect in her chair.

“What do you want?” she asked quietly.

Timothy confronted her with a dignity quite as impressive, in its way,
as hers. The despairing fury had burnt itself out, partly, possibly,
because his Mary was mending, partly, also, because it had served its
purpose, whether designed or not—it had fired others.

“I want justice.”

Lady Selina replied scornfully:

“You shall have it, I promise you. So you, _you_ have raised my own
people against me?”

“Aye.”

He spoke impersonally, as if he were aware that he had but served as an
instrument. And he continued in a low voice, pathetically apathetic:

“I ha’ waited fifteen year for this hour—fifteen year.”

Agatha stood beside him, still defiant. Nick, unnoticed, save by
Grimshaw, crept furtively to the fireplace, apparently astonished and
distressed to find no fire in it. Grimshaw leapt to the conclusion that
the softy had been brought to the Vicarage purposely. Presently he would
serve as an object-lesson, a notable part of Timothy’s indictment.

“You can say what you have to say,” observed Lady Selina. “Apparently
you are here to speak for some of your neighbours?” He nodded. “Very
well—speak.”

Timothy prepared himself for a tremendous effort, how tremendous none
can understand who is not intimately acquainted with the rustic mind,
almost atrophied by disuse, when it attempts to measure itself against
authority. Grimshaw, watching him closely, reflected that his attitude
and expression were more eloquent than any speech could be. Bent and
bowed by interminable toil, his gnarled hands trembling with agitation,
he spoke very slowly:

“You might ha’ been burned this day along wi’ your gert house. . . .”

“True.”

No rancour could be detected in her voice. Grimshaw wondered what she
was feeling. Her perfect manners might have misled a less acute
observer, but he divined somehow that she, also, was intensely affected,
blind for the moment because a cataract had been torn from her eyes.

“Be you prepared to die, my lady?”

At this the parson raised a protesting finger. To break through his
privet fence was a grave misdemeanour; to trespass upon his spiritual
domain in his presence palsied a tongue apter at asking rather than
answering such direct questions. However, Lady Selina replied
courteously:

“Why do you put such a question?”

“I puts it to ’ee. We brings nothing into this world, and we takes
nothing out. But the reckonin’ must be paid. What ha’ you done, my lady,
wi’ us? We’ve worked for ’ee . . . crool hard, at a low wage.”

He stretched out his rough hands, palms uppermost, revealing the scars
and callouses, but quite unconscious of them.

“You could have left my service, Timothy Farleigh, if you thought the
work too hard and the wage too low.”

“Aye. Fair warning I had fifteen years ago, when my lil’ maids died. I
might ha’ gone then, but someways I couldn’t leave the old land, and
so—God forgi’ me—I stayed. We pore souls, my lady, bain’t free. . . .
We be, seemin’ly, just beasts o’ burden, your beasts—under your yoke.”

Lady Selina never flinched from his intent gaze. Grimshaw was unable to
decide whether indeed her clear blue eyes were fixing upon the trembling
speaker or upon herself. Could she see him as he thus revealed himself?
Could she see herself with anything approximating to true definition?
She said firmly enough:

“My yoke has not been heavy; you know that.”

His hands fell to his sides.

“I knows what you ha’ done; and I knows what you ha’ left undone. We be
housed lil’ better than the beasts o’ the field. We be kept helpless
a-purpose.”

Lady Selina glanced at Agatha’s tense face.

“No. Your niece here has risen above her station, and I helped her.
Whether such help was wisely given is another matter.”

“Aggie be a clever maid. I speaks for us as bain’t clever. I speaks,”
his voice rang out emphatically, “for every man in Upworthy as has a
wife and lil’ ’uns to lose, if so be as you remains blind and deaf to
the writin’ on your own smoulderin’ walls. Better, I says, far better
that you should ha’ perished this day wi’ your grand house than live on
wi’ your heel upon our bodies and our hearts.”

His words, coming from such a man, amazed Grimshaw. And yet they
confirmed an ever-increasing conviction that true inspiration is kindled
from without, that Man is indeed but the receiver and transmitter of a
purpose far transcending finite intelligence. No trained orator could
have chosen better words than these which had fallen, like water from a
rock, out of the mouth of a peasant. Grimshaw watched their effect. They
had brought softening dews to the eyes of Agatha and Cicely; they had
penetrated the parson’s hide-bound understanding. He stood agape in his
own drawing-room, deflated, thinking, possibly, of Balaam’s ass. Lady
Selina seemed to be petrified. Nick alone remained indifferent, the
usual grin upon his face. He had taken from a pocket a match, and was
contemplating the neatly laid fire, obsessed—so Grimshaw decided—with
the desire to light it.

Lady Selina replied, after a pause. What she said came from within, as
sincere, in one sense, as the message from without. Grimshaw realised
that she was delivering a message, a tradition rather, entrusted to her
keeping. Her brother, her father, all her distinguished ancestors would
have spoken the same words in exactly the same tone.

“I have listened to you patiently, Timothy Farleigh. Listen to me. I am
not blind to the writing on my smouldering walls. And one word stands
out flaming—Ingratitude! You come here asking for justice. Justice
shall be meted out to you. And now go!”

She pointed to the door. Timothy hesitated.

“You be a hard ’ooman. But Johnny Exton be innocent. Let ’un out—let
’un out, I says.”

“My house has been burnt. If John Exton didn’t do it, who did?”

“I dunno.”

“Exactly.”

Grimshaw moved nearer to her.

“I think I know,” he said, almost in a whisper, because he was humbly
aware that inspiration had descended upon him. Lady Selina repeated his
words:

“You think you know, Mr. Grimshaw?”

He beckoned to Nick, saying in his kindliest tone:

“Come you here, my lad.”

The softy shambled up to him. Grimshaw sat down upon a chair near the
fireplace, assuming an easy attitude, but his eyes caught and held the
eyes of the boy.

“I bain’t afeard of ’ee, I bain’t.”

“Of course not. I wish I was as brave as you, Nicky.”

The softy swelled with pride. The others stared at Grimshaw, who
dominated them as he did the stunted intelligence in front of him. He
continued lightly:

“Shall I tell you a secret?”

“Ah-h-h!”

“I am a bit afeard of somebody. Guess.”

An unexpected answer introduced a touch of comedy. Nick grinned broadly:

“I knows—Miss Cicely.”

For an instant Grimshaw was disconcerted; Cicely blushed. Fortunately
nobody perceived this.

“No, no. I am afeard of George Ball, the constable.”

The shot went home. Nick squirmed.

“George Ball!”

“Aye. Sit on that stool, my lad. Listen to me.” Nick obeyed, staring up
at the keen face bent over his own. “Let’s have a little chat. I like
you, Nicky.”

“Do ’ee, now? I likes you; yas, I do.” He grinned again, adding slily:
“An’ so does Miss Cicely.”

This second allusion challenged Lady Selina’s attention. She turned to
glance at her daughter, but, happily, the tell-tale blushed had faded.

“Do you ever smoke cigarettes, Nick?”

“Times, I do, when fellers gi’ me some.”

“Have one with me.”

He held out his cigarette-case. Nick selected one; Grimshaw took
another, saying lightly:

“Have you a match?”

“Yas.”

A murmur from Agatha nearly broke the spell. Nick, however, intent upon
Grimshaw, opened his left hand, and revealed a match, a wax vesta.
Grimshaw took it, looked at it, and smiled ingratiatingly:

“What a nice wax match!”

“Aye, same as quality use.”

Grimshaw struck the match on his heel.

“Light up!”

He leaned forward and downward. Nick lighted his cigarette, puffing at
it complacently. Grimshaw lighted his, and then blew out the match. With
his face still close to Nick’s, he asked suddenly:

“But where is the match-box?”

“I dunno. I lost ’un.”

“What bad luck! You found a silver match-box this afternoon and lost it
inside of—of an hour?”

“Yas, I did. How do ’ee know that?”

“I’m a doctor. I can see inside your head. Shall I give you a shilling?”

“Yas.”

Grimshaw took a shilling from his pocket, flicked it into the air, and
caught it. Then, with a laugh, he held it out. Nick tried to take it.
Grimshaw deftly palmed it. Nick was confounded.

“It be gone. You be a wondersome man, you be.”

“Hallo! Here it is again—in your ear, by Jove!”

He exhibited the shilling to the excited boy, flicked it up again and
allowed it to drop on the carpet.

“It’s yours, Nicky.”

Nick picked up the shilling, going down on his knees. As he rose to his
feet Grimshaw stood up, taking him gently by the shoulder:

“I say, tell me something. Why did you set my lady’s house afire?”

Once more, inarticulate murmurs from those present might have broken the
spell, but Nick was too absorbed in his possession of the shilling. He
answered seriously:

“I dunno.”

Grimshaw was not satisfied. He tried another tack, saying lightly:

“You know, Nick, I often want to burn houses myself.”

“Do ’ee?”

“Why did you do it, my lad?”

“To please father.”

“To please father, eh? Did he ask you to do it?”

“No-o-o.”

“Johnny Exton may say that he burnt the big house.”

Nick replied jealously:

“Not he. Johnny bain’t brave enough for that. ’Twas me done it. I be
allers ready for a lark.”

Grimshaw turned to Lady Selina.

“Are you satisfied?”

“Yes. I—I am infinitely obliged to you.”

Agatha exclaimed fervently:

“God bless you, sir!”

Lady Selina had spoken stiffly, still erect in her chair. And she gazed
mournfully at Nick, not at Grimshaw.

“Nick.”

“Yes, my lady?”

“Do you hate me?”

All softies are extremely sensitive to the tones of the voice. Nick must
have felt the hostility which Lady Selina had purposely veiled. He
replied sullenly:

“I be saft along o’ you. You bain’t so good as the Lard.”

“The Lord?”

“Him as lives Wilverley way. Upworthy pegs we be called by Wilverley
folk.”

His fatuous grin was unendurable. Lady Selina winced. Grimshaw
interposed hastily:

“That will do, Nick.”

Agatha added as quickly:

“You come home along with father and me.”

“Yes,” murmured Lady Selina. “Take him away. John Exton shall be
released from custody at once.” She added bitterly to Timothy: “You see
what your words have done.”

He replied starkly:

“Upworthy be a whited sepulchre, naught but a whited sepulchre.”

II

The tension was relaxed slightly after the Farleighs had left the room.
At once Lady Selina instructed Goodrich, as magistrate, to take the
necessary steps to deliver John Exton out of durance vile. As she was
speaking, cheers were heard outside. Goodrich, peering out, announced
that the villagers were leaving the lawn. He mentioned that dinner would
be ready in a quarter of an hour, adding:

“May I prescribe a glass of champagne for your patient, Grimshaw?”

Lady Selina said wearily:

“You are very kind. I shall go to bed.”

“Please,” murmured Grimshaw.

The parson went out. Lady Selina lay back in her chair, closing her
eyes. Cicely glanced anxiously at Grimshaw. Had the inevitable reaction
set in? Grimshaw approached his patient, and laid his hand upon her
wrist. She opened her eyes.

“I’m rather tired. That’s all.”

“No wonder.” He held her wrist for half a minute, saying reassuringly:
“Your pulse is excellent. Some light food in bed and a night’s rest will
quite restore you.”

She nodded. He was about to take leave of her when she said abruptly:
“What did that poor boy mean by saying that he was born soft along of
me?”

Grimshaw answered with slight constraint:

“As to that, I have the facts at second-hand. Some six months before he
was born his mother had diphtheria. She was distracted about that time
by the death of her two little girls from the same disease.”

“I see. Would that account for this boy being born wanting?”

“It might.”

Lady Selina refused to accept this as final. The constraint in
Grimshaw’s voice had not escaped her.

“But in your opinion, with such facts as you have, it did, didn’t it?”

“Well, yes.”

“Good-night, Mr. Grimshaw; and very many thanks.”

He bowed and went out.

III

As he crossed the green he noticed that the villagers had left it.
Cheering, at a distance, lent colour to the hypothesis that John Exton’s
release would lead to more ale-drinking. After that Upworthy would
forgive and forget. On the morrow, popular feeling would be as flat as
the dregs of ale left in the big tankards.

Lady Selina would not forget.

His feeling for her was now one of intensest pity, and, as he walked, he
beheld himself as the fateful instrument by which fresh laceration must
be inflicted. She had thanked him civilly for his services, but she had
not held out her uninjured hand, simply because his final expression of
opinion ranked him amongst her critics. Very few women of the better
sort, conscious, as they are, of self-sacrifice to what they conceive to
be duty, can endure criticism. He knew, also, that he had disappointed
Cicely, too young and too loving a daughter not to resent plain-speaking
if it hurt an already stricken creature. Many a gallant gentleman, he
reflected, would have lied convincingly at such a moment.

Dinner was awaiting him at Mrs. Rockram’s, but he had no appetite. To
distract attention from himself, he decided to walk up to the Hall and
see what was left of it. Mounting the gentle slopes of the park, fatigue
assailed him afresh; every bone in his body seemed to be aching. But the
storm had passed away, leaving clear skies and a delicious freshness of
atmosphere. He stopped to inhale the odours of grateful earth.

In the mid-distance he could see the walls of the house, still standing.
Smoke ascended from them and steam, for the Wilverley fire engine was at
work. He could hear the sharp rap of the pistons. The roof had vanished;
out of the blackened walls, like sightless eyes, glared what had been
windows, the windows that reflected so gloriously the setting sun.

An ancient home had been destroyed.

It would be rebuilt, of course, with all modern improvements, electric
light, bathrooms, and labour-saving devices—a change for the better, so
Mrs. Grundy would affirm. Lady Selina would not think so. Could she,
could anybody of her age adjust themselves to new conditions?

When he reached the lawn he was greeted by two energetic persons, Arthur
Wilverley and Tiddy. In a few words Wilverley stated that his labours
were ended. The stables and some outbuildings had been saved. He added:

“Lady Selina ought to have had a small engine here.”

He looked exuberantly strong and fit, with no air of the dejected and
rejected lover about him. Here was one who could adapt himself to new
conditions. Presently he led Grimshaw aside and listened attentively to
a terse recital of what had happened in Upworthy, laughing heartily when
he heard of Gridley and the horsepond, expressing sympathy tempered by
humour for Lady Selina.

“If this wakes her up, Grimshaw, all will be well.”

Grimshaw made no reply. Wilverley continued in a different tone:

“Ought I to see her to-night before I go home?”

“As her doctor I’m afraid I must veto that.”

“Thank you; I understand. I shall write. Miss Tiddle wants to see Miss
Chandos. I can wait in the car.” Then, sensible of constraint in
Grimshaw’s manner, and misinterpreting it, he added frankly: “You are a
good chap; you can size up a delicate situation. I will say this to you.
This fire has burnt away some humiliation. I believe that good must crop
out. If I can help, I will. Miss Tiddle feels as I do—a remarkable girl
that!”

“Yes.”

“You look rather fagged.”

“I have a touch of malaria on me.”

They sauntered back to the engine. Wilverley described with enthusiasm
Miss Tiddle’s executive abilities. Under her capable direction all the
more valuable pictures, porcelain and plate had been stored in the
coach-house. Other outbuildings held furniture and household stores.

“That young lady can get a move on,” declared Wilverley.

Grimshaw wondered whether he was contrasting Miss Tiddle with Cicely,
not to the advantage of the latter. Quite sincerely he hoped that it
might be so. In time—Wilverley would take time—Miss Tiddle might play
Jill to his Jack. They would mount the hill of life together, and not
trouble down it. The pail of water carried by such a pair would be used
to irrigate the waste patches of others. He refused a lift back to the
village in the big car, and watched it whirl off, Wilverley at the wheel
and Miss Tiddle beside him.

IV

By this time Lady Selina was a-bed and Cicely was dining tête-à-tête
with the parson. You may be sure that the good man played the host in
the old-fashioned way. Port mellowed him, banishing disagreeable
reflections. Cicely, unable to peer beneath a polished surface, tried to
reflect herself in that surface and stared ruefully at a very blurred
image. The parson’s slightly patronising tone when speaking of Grimshaw
irritated her intensely, the more so because he laid an insistent finger
upon what had irritated her.

“Your dear mother is no more responsible than I am. Why didn’t he say
so? Heaven knows she needed a word of comfort. As her medical attendant,
it was the man’s positive duty to cheer her up.”

Cicely said bravely:

“Mr. Goodrich, forgive me, but aren’t we all partly responsible?”

He blinked at her and sipped his wine.

“In a way, m’yes. Collectively the responsibility must be divided up. I
deprecate violence.”

“So does Mr. Grimshaw.”

“Of course, he’s an outsider, and something of an iconoclast. A square
peg, I grant you, in a round hole.”

“You admit that Upworthy is a hole?”

He blinked again, but the juice of the grape fortified him.

“It lies low; hence these grievous visitations. I remain loyal to
Upworthy and your dear mother.”

The parlour-maid told her that Miss Tiddle was in the drawing-room.

“I’ll see her at once.”

Cicely rushed into Tiddy’s warm embrace.

“I want you more than anybody else,” she declared fervently.

“I’ve five minutes.”

Two of these precious minutes were devoted to details, but Cicely
apparently took for granted what had been accomplished at the Hall. And,
to Tiddy’s astonishment, she seemed equally indifferent to the exciting
events on the green. She held Tiddy’s hand, squeezing it.

“When can I see you, Tiddy? I must see you. I must have a long talk.”

“Long talks are nearly always too long. You’ve something on your chest.
Now pull up your socks and pin up your skirts and out with it. Wait!
I’ll bet daddy’s pile that you and the Man with the Disconcerting Eyes
have been passing more than the time o’ day.”

“You’re wonderful,” Cicely admitted.

“I’m alive,” remarked Miss Tiddle, complacently. “And my shot wasn’t a
fluke; I played for it. What does dear mother say?”

“That’s it. She doesn’t know.”

“Nor do I yet. But I take it that you have really bounced out of the
frying-pan into the fire?”

“Yes; I have.”

“I’m delighted to hear it. There _is_ stuff in you, but only a
can-opener, like me, is able to get it out. So the signal is S. O. S.,
eh?”

“Yes. Why can’t you sleep with me to-night?”

“Because I’m on duty, apart from other reasons. What are you going to
do? Hide your head in the sand?”

“I don’t know what to do.”

Tiddy’s eyes sparkled.

“_He_ does, though.”

Cicely answered evasively:

“A man’s methods are always so brutal.”

“That’s why really we love them. If I keep Lord Wilverley waiting he’ll
be brutal; but for your sake I’ll risk that. Shall I tell you what to
do?”

“Please!”

“Scrap the buskins! You can’t act for nuts. Nor can he. Both of you will
give the show away if you try dissembling—always a rotten game.”

“Have you seen Mr. Grimshaw?”

“I left him up at the Hall.”

Cicely’s eyes softened.

“And he hasn’t had dinner.”

“He didn’t look as if he wanted dinner. But I’m sure he wants
you—desperately. He appeared to me worn and torn to tatters. Make no
error; you can’t rig him up in your moss.”

“There’s not much moss left.”

“Lots of it, believe me. I haven’t time to argue with you, Cis. I can
make a guess at what’s in your mind, because, as I say, you’re easy to
read, a big asset, if you knew it, and probably the thing that appeals
tremendously to Mr. Grimshaw. If he begins to think you’re not straight
he’ll fly the track.”

“Not straight!”

Tiddy answered impatiently:

“You want to have it both ways. You are most awfully sorry for your
mother; you would like to be sweet to her, to play the devoted daughter;
but what will all that sort of thing be worth when she finds you out?
And she will. You want to be just as sweet, perhaps sweeter, to Mr.
Grimshaw, and all the time he’ll see you playing a part with your
mother, and, worse, forcing him to do the same. Really, you’re risking
his love and your mother’s respect.”

Cicely frowned. Moss-scraping hurts.

“I suppose you’d rush in to mother, and, on top of this awful calamity,
hit her hard on the head when she’s lying down.”

“If you speak of the fire, I don’t regard it as an awful calamity; nor
do you. As to speaking to-night, that is absurd. To-morrow, or the day
after, will be time enough. I am much sorrier for her than I am for you.
I can measure her disappointment, but I can’t measure your folly if you
play the wrong game. And now—I must hop it.”

“When are you going to France, Tiddy?”

“Why should I go to France?”

This was rank evasion, and Tiddy, challenged to practise what she had
preached, knew it. A little red flowed into her cheeks.

“Because you told me that was your intention.”

“Well, we all change our minds, don’t we? I’m doing my bit here, and
like the job. So that’s that.”

Her curls were a-flutter as she went out.

Cicely stood still listening, till she heard the purr of the big car.
The thought came to her, as it had come to Grimshaw, that Tiddy was not
going to France because she had more than liking for her present job.
Jealous pangs assailed her. If Tiddy wanted Arthur she would get him.

And why not?

Presently she went upstairs to sit beside her mother. To her
astonishment Lady Selina, fortified by soup and a cutlet, declared
herself ready to discuss present and future.

“We can’t impose ourselves upon Mr. Goodrich, my dear, and Danecourt,
under the circumstances, would be too depressing. Heaven alone knows
when we shall get into our own house again. A fairly comfortable flat in
London seems the one thing possible.”

“Oh! London!”

“I said London—not Timbuctoo. Do you object to London?”

“N-no.”

Lady Selina eyed her daughter sharply. As a matter of fact, she had
thought of London entirely on Cicely’s account. Her own friends were
living quietly in the country, more or less engrossed by patriotic work.
London, she felt, would distract the child. And she hated flats.

“Would you prefer Bournemouth?”

A derisive inflection underlay the question. Lady Selina detested
popular watering-places and big hotels, where food you didn’t want was
placed before you at stated hours, and even earls’ daughters were known
by chambermaids as numbers!

“Bournemouth! No.”

“Perhaps you will tell me what you would like before I try to go to
sleep.”

Hunted into a corner, Cicely said hastily:

“There is Happy Mead, isn’t there?”

Happy Mead, with its preposterous name, had long been a source of
unhappiness to Lady Selina, because, in accordance with her principles,
she had declined to spend much money upon a dilapidated house,
tenantless for more years than she dared to reckon. Too big for people
of small means, and not likely to appeal to the well-to-do accustomed to
modern comforts, it was situated about a mile from Upworthy in a pretty
but neglected garden.

“That ruin! What a suggestion!” She continued irritably: “I don’t
pretend to understand you, Cicely. I should have thought that a girl not
absolutely devoid of pride would have seen the propriety of leaving her
own county for a season if she was offered the chance.”

Chandos silence countered this observation, and, looking at Cicely’s
firm little chin, Lady Selina told herself that the child had really
very little of the Danecourt pride. Having taken her own line over a
stiff country, she would stick to it. The mother went on after a pause:

“I dislike London in war-time, but we must go there.”

Having delivered this ultimatum, Lady Selina indicated by her manner
that she intended to compose herself to sleep, adding:

“I expect to lie awake half the night.”

However, Grimshaw, it appeared, had provided against this unpleasant
probability. A mild sleeping-draught was sent from Pawley’s dispensary.
Cicely, when she administered the Lethean liquid, regretted that so
thoughtful a man had not sent enough for two.

Continue Reading

PEARLS OF DEW

Upon the Sunday following, the last Sunday in June, Miss Tiddle mounted
her bicycle and rode over to the Manor. Rain had fallen after a month’s
heat and drought, and a delicious fragrance was exhaled by fields full
of new-mown hay. As Tiddy sped along, she told herself that she had been
a fool. Being really clever, this reflection failed to annoy her.
Everybody made ghastly blunders when they interfered with the lives and
characters of others.

“A marriage has been arranged, and will take place in the autumn,
between Cicely Selina, only surviving child of the late Henry Chandos,
M.F.H., of Upworthy Manor, Melshire, and Arthur George, second Lord
Wilverley, of Wilverley Court in the same county.”

_Arranged . . .!_

The word rankled in Tiddy’s mind. But that mind she regarded as fully
open, like her round eyes which “took in,” with genuine hospitality,
everybody within her ken. Possibly this marriage had not been arranged.
During Cicely’s absence from Wilverley Court, Tiddy had talked much with
the noble owner. And noble he was! The two had become friends. Tiddy, as
we know, liked men; she had flirted with Midland “nuts.” And these had
not impressed her favourably, being, so she decided, concerned with
themselves and the colour of their ties and socks. Even young officers,
gallant fellows, “swanked” too much for Miss Tiddle’s democratic taste.
And she had come to Wilverley Court slightly prejudiced against a man
whom she had imagined to be quite other than he was. Arthur’s simplicity
and honesty delighted her. She believed that he, at any rate, loved
Cicely devotedly, although he might be incapable of tearing a passion to
tatters. Believing this, it was intolerable to contemplate his marriage
with a girl who did not love him as he deserved to be loved. On the
other hand, it was quite possible that Cicely’s friendship for him had
warmed into a sort of hard-and-fast, “stand-the-wash” attachment. As yet
she had not heard of Grimshaw’s return to Upworthy. A man with dark,
disconcerting eyes had flitted across a susceptible maid’s horizon, and
then disappeared. From what Cicely, being a Chandos, had left unsaid,
Tiddy was positive upon one point: Grimshaw had kindled in her friend
the divine spark. He had become, momentarily, _the_ divine spark. It was
likely, men being so amazingly unobservant, that Grimshaw, engrossed
with his profession, had left Upworthy unconscious of this. With all her
powers of intuition, Miss Tiddle lacked as yet the experience which
might guide her to the right conclusion. A profounder knowledge of the
conventional class to which she did not belong would have revealed that
obstinate pride which she herself was incapable of entertaining, which,
if she considered it, she dismissed impatiently as mid-Victorian and
idiotic. If, she reflected, Grimshaw had cared, he would have written to
Cicely. She could not conceive, because for her they did not exist, the
differences, hydra-headed, between a G.P. and a daughter of the House of
Chandos. When a man touched her fancy, however lightly, she “nestled
up,” as she put it, not flirtatiously, but with the deliberate intention
of analysing the effects of intimacy.

Yes; she had been a fool. Mrs. Roden exercised clearer vision.
Intuition, nothing else, had constrained Miss Tiddle to make a mountain
of romance out of a molehill.

The odds were that this marriage had not been “arranged” in the odious
sense.

Accordingly, Tiddy braced herself for the coming encounter, derisively
prepared to do and say the expected thing. Cicely’s artless prattle
about frocks and bridesmaids might be hard to endure, but she would
listen patiently and reply with enthusiasm—play the game, in fine. Then
she would try to get a billet in France.

Just before reaching Upworthy, her back tyre punctured. Tiddy jumped
off, got her repairing kit, and turned the bicycle upside down. She
prided herself upon taking with equanimity what an American lady has
called “the collateral slaps of Providence.” To her dismay, however, she
was unable to remove the tyre. It stuck obstinately. Tiddy became
uncomfortably hot. And she wished to remain cool, conscious that Lady
Selina’s blue eyes would turn protestingly from any evidences of . . .
perspiration. Why did open pores offend old-fashioned gentlewomen? Tiddy
was turning this over in her active mind, when she saw, with relief, an
approaching cyclist, identified first as a man and immediately after as
a gentleman. Tiddy sent out the S.O.S. signal; the cyclist jammed on his
brakes and leapt to the ground.

“You are in trouble,” he said courteously.

It was Grimshaw.

Tiddy was quite sure of it. A mere male cannot hazard a conjecture as to
the reasons which bring instant conviction to the female intelligence.
Perhaps she recognized the dark, disconcerting eyes burning out of a
thin, pale face; perhaps she saw a doctor’s service-bag strapped behind
the bicycle.

“Tyre stuck,” said Tiddy. “Can you tell me if there is anybody in
Upworthy who could get it off?”

“_I_ can,” he answered.

She protested, but he went to work promptly, removing his coat and
throwing his cap upon it. At this, any doubt as to his identity
vanished. Cicely had laid emphasis upon Grimshaw’s eagerness in
ministration. According to Cicely, his knightly quality was conspicuous.
Cicely, so Tiddy remembered, had used the word “halo,” which had
provoked a gibe from Miss Tiddle. At this moment she actually beheld the
halo. A vainer girl might have flattered herself into the belief that
bright eyes and curls were quickening these activities. But Grimshaw had
not looked keenly at her, but at the bicycle. She knew that he would
have helped the plainest maid in the village with equal alacrity.

“He’s a rare good sort,” she decided, “but he looks horribly ill, and
why is he here instead of in France?”

To ask herself questions when another could answer them was not Miss
Tiddle’s failing. The situation began to interest her. She said
casually:

“I thought you were in France, Mr. Grimshaw.”

Grimshaw looked up. She had no reason to complain of lack of penetration
in his glance. And his next words confirmed her first impression that he
was quite out of the ordinary. Wilverley, for instance, would have
looked puzzled, taking for granted he had met this sparkling stranger
before and forgotten her. Grimshaw said sharply:

“You know me, but I have never met you; never.”

She laughed, a delightful tinkle of sound which brought a smile to his
lips.

“Are you sure of that?”

“Absolutely.”

“Well, you happen to be right. We have never met. All the same, I know
you.”

“How?”

Mischievously, she continued:

“There are such things as photographs.”

“There are. It happens that I have not been photographed for about ten
years. I hate photographs.”

“Then you have no idea who I am?”

“None.”

Tiddy reflected that Cicely, evidently, had not taken undue pains to
describe her best friend to another friend. However . . .!

“I am Arabella Tiddle.”

Grimshaw remained perfectly calm.

“My name is—a—unfamiliar?”

“Not—unfamiliar. I have seen your surname on—on——”

“Hoardings. And in advertisements. Tiddle’s Family Pellets. I am Sir
Nathaniel Tiddle’s daughter.”

Grimshaw bowed, saying politely:

“I am delighted to make your acquaintance. This is much better than a
formal introduction.”

Was he pulling her leg?

“Miss Chandos never mentioned my name to you?”

“No.”

Tiddy experienced a tiny, triumphant thrill. She had brought out
Cicely’s name plumply, and designedly so, the artful baggage! And
Grimshaw had winced—_winced_! True, he recovered himself, swiftly, but
a glimpse had been vouchsafed her, all that she wanted at the moment.

“I am her school-friend. We worked together at Wilverley Court as
V.A.D.’s. I am on my way to the Manor now.”

“Not yet.”

She was delighted. Wilverley, much as she liked and esteemed that honest
fellow, was incapable of subtleties of speech. The “not yet” was
immensely revealing. He _could_ pull legs, she decided. That was a
greater accomplishment than setting them. She began to hope that the
recalcitrant tyre would not budge too easily. Grimshaw was hard at work
on it.

The tyre yielded suddenly. To test him, and to test, also, her own
powers of attraction, she said quickly:

“Thanks ever so much. I can repair the inner tube.”

“The tyre will not go on again too easily. Where is your repairing
stuff?”

He spoke peremptorily. And his attention appeared to be focussed on the
inner tube, as he searched for the puncture. Tiddy stood by with the
small box, opening it and taking out patches and sandpaper.

“What a good Samaritan!” she murmured.

His fingers challenged her admiration; how deftly they moved; how
swiftly. What exquisite instruments! Involuntarily, she exclaimed:

“I’m sure you operate wonderfully.”

Perhaps he hated compliments as much as photographs. He said with
professional curtness:

“Ah! you have worked in the theatre at Wilverley?”

“No. But I acted as ‘special’ for three weeks—dressings, and all that.
Miss Chandos told me you were in France. But I knew, of course, that
just before the war you were Dr. Pawley’s partner.”

Giving the rubber solution time to dry, he explained curtly, with an air
as if his concerns couldn’t possibly interest others, that he had been
invalided home and was taking up his old work.

“Do you like country practice?”

He replied evasively: “I like work, Miss Tiddle, and there is plenty of
it here.”

“Too much,” observed Tiddy tranquilly.

“Yes; too much. A month of drought has played the deuce. Now comes the
tug.”

“You are speaking of Upworthy?”

“I am speaking of the outside tyre.”

Tiddy had the impression that she was courteously snubbed. Grimshaw
wrestled with the tyre, and prevailed. Then he righted the bicycle with
a vigorous swing, and held it by the bars.

“Up, and away!”

“Thanks, Mr. Grimshaw, and thanks again.”

“Not at all. Good-bye.”

“Certainly not. Au revoir.”

II

Tiddy had ten minutes for reflection before she reached the Manor, and
she made the most of it. All that was feminine in Miss Tiddle became
ebullient. She simply effervesced with excitement and the consciousness
that the game was not over, hardly begun in point of fact. Romeo cared
and Juliet cared. Destiny had been beastly to them. Sir Nathaniel’s
daughter snapped her fingers at destiny, and then extended them, placing
her thumb to her tip-tilted nose.

“She cares; she must care; and so does he.”

Again we are unable to divine how Tiddy arrived at this unshakable
conviction.

“I must _butt_ in,” she thought. “Pushing is no good.”

Stimson ushered her into Lady Selina’s sitting-room.

Mother and daughter received her cordially. It was simply impossible not
to like Tiddy, although you might criticise her. She possessed that
incomparable gift of raising the temperature of any room she entered.
All Lady Selma’s rooms were cool, even in the dog days, not yet arrived.

A superb engagement ring flashed upon Tiddy’s eyes.

She congratulated Cicely with effusion, upon the sound principle of
telling a good lie if you are forced to do so. Lady Selina purred.

“Everybody is so kind. Such letters . . .! And telegrams . . .!”

“You like my ring, don’t you, Tiddy? Arthur sent it down from London
yesterday. He wanted me to nip up with him, but I couldn’t leave mother,
could I?”

“You could,” thought Tiddy, “if you were engaged to the One and Only.”
Aloud she agreed graciously, “Of course not.”

“Any news, Tiddy? How are the V.A.D.s?”

“Clean bill of health. You heard about Agatha Farleigh?”

“No.”

“John Exton has been badly wounded—left arm amputated at the elbow.”

“Oh, Tiddy——! I’m ever so sorry.”

Lady Selina said calmly:

“So am I. My memories of John Exton are not of the happiest, but I wish
him well—I wish him well.”

“Agatha says that a truly united couple can worry along with three arms
between them. John will get his discharge and come home to his father.
Agatha means to marry him at once.”

Cicely observed pensively:

“How odd of Arthur not to have told me.”

“My dear child . . .!” Lady Selina raised a voice as soft as her hands.
“You can’t complain if dear Arthur’s mind is full of one young woman.”

“We only heard the news yesterday,” said Tiddy.

In a majestic tone, Lady Selina held forth upon the war. Would Roumania
come in after this disaster at Lemberg? The farther the Huns advanced
into Russia, the longer and the more disastrous would be their retreat.
She had refreshed her memory and fortified her faith in the ultimate
triumph of Right over Might by re-reading the history of the 1812
campaign. Tiddy guessed that Cicely’s engagement had turned a pessimist
into an optimist. Of late, throughout rural England, particularly
amongst the landed gentry, faith in victory had diminished. A stale-mate
was predicted by red-faced squires who derived all their information
from _The Times_, at that moment engrossed with advertising our
lamentable lack of high explosives.

“In our biggest factory,” said Tiddy, “we are making munitions instead
of pills.”

Lady Selina was delighted to hear it. Presently, she said gaily:

“You two girls trot off! You want to chatter together, I am sure. I
remember, as if it were yesterday, talking over my engagement with our
old parson’s daughter. She was engaged to her father’s curate. That made
the séance unduly long, because I had to listen to her after she had
listened to me.”

Cicely led the way to Brian’s old rooms.

Alone with her friend, Cicely became voluble. Was she talking to
disguise thought? The pupils of her eyes were dilated. Reluctantly she
confessed that she had not slept very well since her engagement, now
four days old! But Arthur was a dear . . .! The most thoughtful and
considerate of lovers . . .! And generous . . . He was bringing from
London a pearl necklace. Of course Tiddy would be chief bridesmaid,
possibly the only one grown-up. Children were adorable on such
occasions. She had some tiny cousins. To walk to the altar followed by a
troop of darlings . . .

Tiddy said flippantly:

“Coming events cast their shadows before. I daresay children mean
everything to you. Mrs. Roden showed me the old nurseries at Wilverley.
She expects a lot in that way.”

Something in her tone challenged Cicely’s attention.

“How oddly you said that! Perhaps you aren’t really pleased? You have
never been quite fair to Arthur. Once you called him fat. It’s muscle.”

“That appeals, too—muscle!”

“Heavens! If I didn’t know you so well, I should think you were
sneering.”

Tiddy exclaimed rudely:

“Come off it.”

“Tiddy! Are you mad?”

Miss Tiddle, in her way, was a student of strategy. For many months she
had read Mr. Hilaire Belloc’s articles in _Land and Water_. She had
faith in a vigorous offensive, shock tactics, beginning with a surprise.

She said sharply:

“I have met Mr. Grimshaw. I’ve talked with him.”

“Oh-h-h!”

Tiddy’s statement might mean anything or nothing. Tiddy, so Cicely
swiftly reflected, was capable of anything, even if she achieved
nothing. What had she said to Grimshaw? What had Grimshaw said to her?

Tiddy went on, relentlessly:

“I’ve a lot to say to you, and I don’t want to be flooded out before
I’ve done talking. Keep your powder dry! If there’s to be crying, I’ll
do it. I could burst into heart-breaking sobs at this minute. A nice
mess you’ve made of it.”

“I—I don’t know what you mean.”

Tiddy became melodramatic, not intentionally. She detested posing and
pretence. Violence served to disguise her feelings. Cicely’s miserable
face, her utter collapse at the first shot, moved Tiddy profoundly. She
had half hoped, half feared, that Cicely would return shot for shot,
justify her engagement, swear stoutly that she loved her lord. Instead,
she sat crumpled up in her chair.

“Swear to me,” said Tiddy vehemently, “that you don’t know what I mean,
that this Mr. Grimshaw is nothing to you, that you love Arthur Wilverley
whole-heartedly, and I will go down on my knees and beg your pardon.”

Chandos silence . . .

“I thought so.”

III

Tiddy walked to the window and looked out upon the stable-yard. As she
did so, the big stable clock struck four solemn notes. In one hour tea
would be served on the lawn.

After the heavy rain of the morning, a breeze blew chill upon Tiddy’s
cheek. But it failed to cool her mind, now burning with democratic
indignation against conventions and traditions which had brought her
beloved friend to this sorry pass. Was it an impasse? Had she driven
Cicely into a cul-de-sac? When she did speak, what would she say? And
what she might say was, of course, insignificant compared to what she
ought to do.

Cut loose!

Could she?

That would demand an immense effort, something cataclysmal. Tiddy had
not been deceived by Lady Selina’s surface gaiety, although much
impressed by it as proof positive of what good-breeding might achieve.
She knew perfectly well that Brian’s death must have been a shattering
blow. Lady Selina had plenty of heart. Because of that, because she
loved Cicely, she had assumed a mask. Nevertheless, it was equally
obvious that this engagement, evoking as it did maternal energies and
solicitude, had tempered the cruel bereavement. She heard a chastened
voice, slightly querulous:

“I _am_ fond of Arthur.”

Tiddy retorted disdainfully:

“I’m fond of chocs.”

“Have some,” said Cicely defiantly. “There’s a box over there, Charbonel
and Walker’s.”

Tiddy helped herself. Silently, she offered the box to Cicely, who shook
her head.

“I am fond of you,” said Tiddy, nibbling at a praline, “but I’m fonder
of myself. That is _the_ test. I shan’t marry till I find some man who
can make me forget how fond I am of myself.”

Cicely considered this. Tiddy had spoken sincerely. Cicely, not
sufficiently alert to weigh the effect of words, answered with equal
sincerity:

“Arthur and I agree that the sort of—of feeling you speak of may be
awakened—later.”

“You sit there and tell me you have calmly discussed _that_? I suppose
you told him that you had a sisterly regard for him. And then he said
that he’d warm you up—_later_! Heavens! Why did he send you chocs? What
you want is ginger.”

“Say what you like.”

“I shall. What you have done is indecent. There’s a woman in your
family, a first cousin, whom you never mention. But I happen to know all
about her. She ran away from her husband, who was a brute, with an
actor; she bolted afterwards from the actor because he made a fool of
himself with his leading lady; and she didn’t bolt alone. I have
infinitely more respect for her than you. What an engagement! Two babes
in the topiary garden, fatly gurgling, dreaming that the Voice that
breathed o’er Eden will bless ’em, devoutly praying that love will
awaken ’em. Take it from me that love is too busy to waste his time upon
such blighters.”

Tossing her curls, stamping her foot, the daughter of the twentieth
century glared at the daughter of the eighteenth.

Then, once more, she cooled herself at the window.

Cicely moistened her lips with a feverish tongue. Anger had engendered
anger. She was tempted to say, with frigid dignity: “That will do.
Please go.”

One consideration restrained her. Tiddy was fond of her. She might have
abused friendship, strained it to breaking-point, but no girl would have
spoken with such fierce vehemence unless she had been tremendously
moved. To part from such a friend would be terrible.

Having reached this conclusion, Cicely became again a dual personality.
Before, when this curious experience befell her, she had been conscious
of an uplifting. From altruistic heights she had surveyed her world.
Complacency had fallen, like refreshing dew, upon her. It was quite
otherwise now. The new Cicely beheld with Tiddy’s eyes the old Cicely.
The new Cicely challenged the old Cicely to mortal combat. The new
Cicely said savagely: “Tiddy is right—a marriage of convenience is
indecent.”

But the old Cicely was not to be vanquished easily. Tiddy heard her
friend’s voice, still querulous:

“You are horribly unkind. You—you are spoiling everything. Heaps of
girls, nice girls, marry without—without f—f—feeling
p—p—passionate. And their marriages turn out jolly well.”

She ended defiantly.

Tiddy, rather ashamed of her outburst, ashamed, also, to discover that
her eyes were wet, said without turning:

“Those anæmic sort of girls are not in love with somebody else, as you
are. That’s what makes this thing indecent. What you propose doing is an
outrage on Arthur.”

_Arthur_. . . .

Instantly Cicely became alert. Tiddy had never spoken of Wilverley’s
lord as “Arthur.” The name had slipped from her lips naturally and with
a soft inflection that was unmistakable.

“Tiddy.”

“Yes?”

“Look at me, please. I want to see your face.”

Tiddy turned; Cicely rose. Melodrama is as catching as measles. Cicely
approached her friend, speaking intensely, in what is called in
theatre-land a stage whisper:

“You seem to be thinking more of Arthur than of me. Are you?”

“And what if I am? It’s time somebody did think for him; apparently the
poor fellow can’t think straight for himself.”

“Will you swear solemnly, as you tried to make me swear, that Arthur is
nothing to you? You had the cheek to tell me that you could, if you
tried, take him from me. It looks as if you had tried. And that, of
course, would account for your extraordinary behaviour. Now . . .
swear!”

Silence.

To be “hoist with one’s own petard” is an experience that few escape. To
accept such hoisting without whimpering is difficult. Hence Miss
Tiddle’s silence. Cicely had put to her a question which as yet she had
not put to herself. It fell, devastatingly, into the well where Truth
hides herself from a mendacious world.

“If you say nothing I shall think what I please.”

Tiddy pulled herself together.

“You are forcing me to be honest, not with you, but with myself. I have
not tried to take Arthur from you.”

“Could he”—Cicely’s voice was relentless—“could he, if he were free,
be more to you than a friend?”

Tiddy squirmed.

“I—I don’t know,” she admitted. “Really, this is ridiculous,
preposterous. If I apply to myself my own test, I can swear truthfully
that I am fonder of myself than Arthur. There!”

Cicely returned to her chair, sank into it, and stared at the carpet.
This was one of her tricks, an idiosyncrasy that occasionally
exasperated Lady Selina. She went into the same sort of trance that
afflicted Lord Saltaire when he found a hair in his soup. Cicely had
found a hair in her soup.

Tiddy could not guess that the two Cicelys were locked together at
strangle-grips—a fight to a finish.

She cooled herself for the third time at the window.

IV

Minutes, hours, years glided by.

What a tiresome world it was!

Presently Cicely sighed. Tiddy exclaimed maliciously:

“The sleeping Beauty wakes after a trance of one hundred years.”

“Yes, I am awake,” replied Cicely tranquilly.

The girls eyed each other. Tiddy had to admit that Cicely _was_
awake—wide awake. Something sparkled in her eyes which Tiddy recognised
with astonishment as determination—something, too, not absolutely
unfamiliar. Ah, she had it. Cicely was looking at her with exactly the
same expression that informed the portrait of her father—a portrait
acclaimed by Lady Selina as a “speaking” likeness. A banal phrase now
invested with new significance. Arthur Wilverley, describing the late
Henry Chandos to Miss Tiddle, had said: “I never saw the old boy funk an
ugly fence if his hounds were on the other side of it.”

“I shall break off this engagement,” said Cicely.

“_Cis!_”

“Nothing else is possible.”

“Well, I must say you are wonderful—_wonderful_!”

“I must be—decent. I loathe indecency. I suppose I looked—peeped—at
this marriage through drawn blinds. You have pulled them up. And I’m
much obliged to you.”

“You—you forgive me, Cis? I know that I rampaged like—like a factory
girl.”

“You did, thank God!”

Solemnly they kissed. Once more Miss Tiddle, not Cicely, wiped away two
trickling tears. Cicely, as tranquilly as before, said:

“Nothing remains but to think out, if we can, the easiest way of
breaking this to mother and—and Arthur.”

Tiddy noticed that Cicely put her mother first.

“There will be appalling ructions.”

“There won’t be ructions. I could buck up against ructions. Mother never
rages when she feels things deeply. She glumps, as you accuse me of
doing. She will look at me in stony silence. She will become more
forlorn than ever. I’ve been a wicked fool. What time is it?”

“Half-past four.”

“We must make this tea pleasant.” Tiddy nodded, too overcome for speech.
“To-night—she always comes to me at night since my engagement—I shall
tell her.”

“What?”

“Ah! What? If you can suggest anything?”

Tiddy sat down, placed her head between her hands, and stared in her
turn at the pattern on the carpet, which happened to be pale roses upon
a pale grey ground. Lady Selina had chosen it. Cicely walked to the open
window, astoundingly self-possessed.

After a minute’s concentrated thought Tiddy said quickly.

“You can’t tell her about Mr. Grimshaw?”

“Heavens, no! Do you think I’m breaking from Arthur with the deliberate
intention of—of engaging myself to somebody else?”

“Aren’t you? You do care for him; he must care for you. And there you
are!”

Chandos silence. Tiddy continued:

“I understand that it would be tactless to mention Mr. Grimshaw to Lady
Selina, although _that_—your feeling for him, I mean—justifies you,
forces you, to break this engagement. I believe I should tell my mother.
However, I am I and you are you. If I wanted a man, and he chose to
behave like a dumbwaiter loaded with rare and refreshing fruit, I—well,
I should help myself.”

“I believe you would.”

“I’m glad I don’t wear your shoes, because I take a smaller size, but I
try to stand in them. You can tell your mother the plain facts: you
accepted a good fellow, not loving him. You find yourself unable to love
him. As a gentlewoman—ring that bell—you retire as gracefully as
possible and you invite her to help you.”

“Yes,” assented Cicely.

Further talk advanced them but little on the only way.

V

A war tea was not spread that afternoon. Under the walnut tree, supposed
to keep flies at a distance, sat Lady Selina in front of a table not
groaning but pleasantly purring beneath pre-war delicacies. The Queen
Anne silver shimmered delightfully—it seemed to say to Tiddy: “We
impose ourselves because of our quality; we are of finer metal, less
alloy in us.” To behold Lady Selina making tea was a privilege. She
disdained the coarser blends. Her white hands hovered, as if in
benediction, above her equipage. The cups and saucers were early
Worcester. Once a collector had said protestingly: “My dear Lady, these
ought to be in a cabinet.” Lady Selina had replied blandly: “Really?” In
her drawing-room priceless bits of Chelsea were at the mercy of
housemaids. To lock up such objects seemed to Lady Selina equivalent to
putting a price upon them. It meant advertising your own possessions,
inviting envy as well as admiration. The _vieille souche_ took all that
for granted. Age, not rarity, sanctified porcelain and furniture—age
and use. There is a story of some duke who asked the village curate if
he liked the ducal claret. The curate replied thoughtlessly: “It’s very
good, your Grace.” Whereupon the great man growled out: “I didn’t ask
you, sir, if my claret was good; I asked you if you liked it.” In this
same spirit Lady Selina surveyed all guests. She hoped graciously that
they liked their entertainment. If they didn’t she remained blandly
indifferent.

The girls were not called upon to dissemble much. Lady Selina talked;
they listened politely. Her theme happened to be the treatment of her
own order in current fiction and on the stage. She contended that
justice had not been done to the upper classes. Dickens had imposed
caricatures, such as Lord Frederick Verisopht and Sir Mulberry Hawk,
upon an immense public, who accepted them as portraits. And ever since
men with no more real knowledge of the subject than Dickens had “played
to the gallery” in absurd endeavours to present lords as silly and
baronets as wicked. “We have our faults,” said Lady Selina, with a bleak
smile, “but we are not more foolish or wicked than others. If some of us
hide our vices we don’t advertise our virtues. This setting of class
against class is criminal. If it ends, as my poor brother predicts, in a
débâcle for us within a few years, some other class—Labour, if you
like—will establish a new tyranny far more unendurable than the old.
And always there will be distinctions. They flourish, so I am told, most
vigorously amongst the unprivileged. They grow rankly, as I know, in the
servants’ hall.”

“And in a Red Cross hospital,” added Tiddy. “But don’t you think, Lady
Selina, that the overlapping of the classes is a good thing?”

“No, I don’t my dear.”

“The House of Lords, for instance, is representative of all classes.”

“And you do away with it! I for one have never objected to the infusion
of fresh blood into the Upper House. Let supreme distinction be
ennobled. That is a very different thing from putting beggars on
horseback.”

As she spoke Stimson was seen approaching, followed by a male visitor.

“Oh dear!” exclaimed Lady Selina. “Stimson was told that we are not at
home.”

“It’s Mr. Grimshaw,” said Cicely.

Lady Selina’s brow grew smooth again. She might be “not at home” to a
county magnate, but her own people were never turned from her door. Mr.
Grimshaw, stepping into what Cicely had called Dr. Pawley’s list
slippers, had become, ex officio, one of her people. More, since
Cicely’s engagement she had reinstated him honourably as “my boy’s
friend.”

“He is bringing us good news of Dr. Pawley.”

She welcomed Grimshaw delightfully, so Tiddy thought. But the young man
did not acquit himself quite adequately. He appeared to be slightly
brusque and ill at ease. Was it possible that he kowtowed to the lady of
the manor? Or, more likely hypothesis, was he embarrassed in the
presence of Cicely? He accepted a cup of tea under pressure, and seated
himself beside his hostess. Yes, Dr. Pawley was in his garden,
convalescent. The faithful Ellen held him under a watchful eye. He would
remain in his chair till Grimshaw returned.

“I am very glad to hear such a good account of my dear old friend. Will
you allow me to see him to-morrow?”

“Certainly. He is looking forward to that.”

“Through him,” Lady Selina continued graciously, “we have heard of you
and your work in France. . . .”

She went on suavely, but Grimshaw responded in monosyllables. It
occurred to Tiddy that this visit might be professional. Grimshaw was
not behaving as a visitor. Tiddy jumped up.

“I must be off,” she declared.

But in Melshire all leave-takings are protracted. Five minutes elapsed
before Miss Tiddle mounted her bicycle. Cicely accompanied her to the
front door.

“Are you weakening?” asked Tiddy.

“No.”

“Your mother was sweet to Mr. Grimshaw.”

“She is sweet to all her subjects. He is now a subject. To-morrow he
will be regarded as an object. You heard what she said about the
overlapping of class distinctions? A shot at me.”

“I took it to myself, Cis.”

“It was meant for me—or, rather, for the future Lady Wilverley.”

“One last word, Cis. I repeat—you are wonderful. Now, if it will help
at all, pile up the agony on me.”

“And lose you? I can’t risk that. Besides, my trump card with mother
will be that I am acting on my own, as I am. You are a brick, all the
same.”

Tiddy sped down the drive.

As she pedalled away she remembered that Grimshaw had not alluded to
their meeting just outside Upworthy. Cicely had murmured coolly to him:
“You have met Miss Tiddle?” and he had bowed. She wondered whether a
clever man was aware that he had given himself away with a wince?

VI

Left alone with Lady Selina, Grimshaw gave the real reason for his
visit.

“I am placed in an abominable situation,” he said abruptly. “You will
believe, Lady Selina, that I should not bother you on Sunday afternoon
without some cause.”

“Yes, yes; pray enlighten me.”

“Do you know anything about our professional etiquette?”

“Absolutely nothing, Mr. Grimshaw.”

He made a gesture which might mean that ladies of manors should know
more than they usually did about matters that might concern them
intimately. But he spoke temperately, avoiding medical terminology:

“Put briefly, it is this: No doctor interferes with another qualified
practitioner in the exercise of his profession.”

“I understand.”

“Unhappily, opinions differ as to a man’s qualifications. Legally
speaking, Dr. Snitterfield is a qualified practitioner.”

Lady Selina, unable to wean her mind from Dr. Snitterfield and decanter
stoppers, said blandly:

“I barely know Dr. Snitterfield. He is not, of course, a gentleman. His
practice is confined, I imagine, to—to those who are unable to employ
you or Dr. Pawley.”

Grimshaw brightened. Obviously Lady Selina did not hold Dr. Snitterfield
in high esteem. He continued:

“This afternoon I was visiting a patient—one of the Burbles.”

“Not my dear old Nicodemus?”

“Not Nicodemus—a niece of his. She told me that her father was in great
pain, suffering horribly. I admit frankly that I ought to have asked her
if some other doctor was attending him. My excuse—if it be an
excuse—is that I was much rushed, also I have hardly had time to pick
up the threads of Dr. Pawley’s practice. I supposed that my patient’s
father, living in the same house, had been attended by Dr. Pawley.”

“Quite naturally.”

“So I went up. I found the old fellow in the most shocking condition—a
mass of bedsores, and suffering from an abscess in the hip.”

“Perfectly horrible!”

“With the greatest reluctance, I must still further lacerate your
feelings. It seems that two months ago the man broke his leg. Dr.
Snitterfield refused to set it, partly on account of the man’s age—he
is over seventy—and partly because of the hip disease. I can assure you
positively that his leg could have been set two months ago. Ever since
he has lain there, most shamefully neglected. Probably he will die of
the bedsores.”

“I am inexpressibly shocked, Mr. Grimshaw.”

“I knew you would be.”

“But I don’t quite understand what I can do.”

“This poor old fellow requires constant attention. If I take over the
case Dr. Snitterfield will be furious. I care nothing about that. I
propose to take it over—I have taken it over.”

“With my cordial approval.”

“Thanks. This, however, is not the only case of disgraceful neglect on
the part of Dr. Snitterfield. I could cite others, but for the moment
I’ll spare you. The point is this: Action should be taken against
Snitterfield.”

“How?”

“I can ask the chief medical officer at Melchester to come here and
investigate these cases himself.”

For the first time Lady Selina displayed uneasiness. She had, as we
know, a nose for approaching trouble. In a vague way she divined that
Grimshaw himself had reasons against the summoning of authority.
However, she said suavely:

“If you deem that necessary it must be done.”

Grimshaw hesitated. Would Lady Selina stand plain speech? Ought he to
be—diplomatic? He could see lines of suffering upon her face. The pink
glow that had suffused it at tea-time was gone. The fingers of her hands
were trembling. He decided to pick his way as cautiously as possible.

“Dr. Snitterfield is, of course, our local health officer. That adds
enormously to his responsibility. He would lose his job if his chief did
come here.”

“I will take your word for that.”

“Perhaps, Lady Selina, you are not aware that Snitterfield was appointed
by the district council?”

“If you say so it is so.”

“Your bailiff, John Gridley, was chairman of the council at the time of
Snitterfield’s appointment and is still.”

Light was dawning upon Lady Selina. She blinked.

“I—I see.”

“I cannot disguise from you—it would be criminal on my part to do
so—that Snitterfield has powerful friends, Gridley amongst the number,
and several of your farmers. From my knowledge of the chief, his
investigation, if he comes to Upworthy, will be thorough. I fear that
the results of his investigation would become public property. The
Radical Press might take the matter up.”

“The Radical Press!” The light was now so intolerably strong that Lady
Selina closed her eyes.

“In short, you, as lady of the manor, would be exposed to much hostile
criticism and inevitable humiliation.”

Lady Selina opened her eyes, saying tartly:

“Humiliation is rather a strong word Mr. Grimshaw. Can you tell me why I
should be humiliated because a local health officer is proved derelict
in his duty?”

Grimshaw hesitated again. Why had destiny selected him of all men as an
instrument to inflict cruel pain upon a woman already bludgeoned? Always
she would associate him with her humiliation, for humbled she must be,
whether the chief was summoned from Melchester or not.

“I wish I could spare you the answer to that.”

She retorted shrewdly.

“You raised the question. You must answer it frankly.”

“Very good. Such an investigation as I have indicated will involve the
inspector of nuisances.”

“But he is not appointed by me.”

“He also was appointed by the district council. He is a friend of
Gridley.”

Lady Selina remained silent. She had just recalled Cicely’s words,
repeating what Arthur Wilverley had said. Obviously Arthur knew these
unpleasant facts. Grimshaw went on inexorably.

“It comes to this: without your knowledge, without any suspicion on your
part, these three unscrupulous men—Snitterfield, Gridley and the
inspector of nuisances—aided and abetted by small farmers, who dreaded
an increase of rates, have formed a sort of ring. They have all played
into each other’s hands and pockets. They have abused grossly the power
entrusted to them. And, lastly, their most outrageous misdoings have
been done upon your property and often under your name.”

Lady Selina gasped. Grimshaw concluded quietly:

“Now you will understand why I used the word humiliation.”

“I admit, Mr. Grimshaw, that I should be humiliated if I were convinced
that outrages had been done on my property and under my name. But, in
justice to an old servant, I must suspend judgment till I hear what
Gridley says.”

“He will have plenty to say,” Grimshaw observed drily “Meanwhile,
whatever he says, action must be taken. I ask you to condemn no man
unheard, Lady Selina, but in this case the chief medical officer will be
the judge if he is called in—not you.”

“Then you mean to call him in?”

Her voice quavered slightly.

“That depends.”

“Oh? Then you have an alternative in your mind?” He bowed. “What is it?”

“I have come here to suggest that alternative. There is no man in this
county who has such first-hand knowledge of rural conditions, good and
bad, as Lord Wilverley. Privately and publicly he has power, more than
he himself is aware of. Lord Wilverley, under all the circumstances,
could, if you can persuade him, deal with these men adequately. It is
likely that if this matter becomes open to official investigation Lord
Wilverley might be summoned as an expert. I don’t know. He is an expert,
and his agent is an expert. As your prospective son-in-law, he ought to
help you, and, if he does, I am content to leave the issue in his
hands.”

Lady Selina smiled faintly. In a sense she was grateful to Grimshaw for
this really invaluable suggestion. She never doubted that Wilverley
would help her. And, by this time, she felt certain that Grimshaw was
incapable of speaking ill against any man behind his back without due
provocation. Nevertheless, he stood before her as a disturber of the
peace. He had assailed cruelly her peace of mind. And, of course, as a
reformer, he suffered, like all reformers, from excess of zeal.

She said petulantly, with a fluttering of her delicate hands:

“I will speak to Lord Wilverley as soon as I see him. Why—why has Isaac
Burble suffered like this? It—it exasperates me. Had I known I should
have dealt with Dr. Snitterfield myself. Tell me, if you can, why these
stupid reticences exist between me and my people? I am approachable
always; I want to help. Why couldn’t Isaac’s daughter come to me quietly
and tell me about her father’s condition?”

“You have been away and in great trouble. Had you been at home, probably
she would have come. And Dr. Pawley was ill.”

“There is Mr. Goodrich.”

Grimshaw remained silent. Lady Selina continued, still petulantly:

“You answered the particular question. I was away, and these poor people
never write—never! But I repeat—there are always these reticences; one
simply can’t get the truth out of them. And why?”

Grimshaw had almost exhausted his patience. He had “spared” Cicely’s
mother as best he could. He reflected humorously what might have been
said, what would be said, scathingly, by the Radical Press if they got
hold of such good copy. And now he was pathetically invited to tear off
his bandages and inflict more pain.

“Do you really expect the truth from them? They all feel as I felt just
now when I approached this pleasant tea-table. You smiled on me
graciously, and this is my first visit to you since my return from
France. I knew that I was going to distress you horribly. But I am
independent of you. Your people are not. For generations they have
suppressed the truth. Their fixed idea is to ingratiate themselves with
authority, not—not to imperil the doles which they receive from
authority, the doles which stand between them and actual want. One of
your labourers has brought up fifteen children on just fifteen shillings
a week. How has he done it? Because you give him a cottage and a bit of
land, because you send milk and medicine, because you allow his wife to
pick up fallen timber in the park. And he is terrified of losing these
privileges. When you enter his cottage his wife greets you with smiles
and curtsies, the children smile _under instructions_. A cheerful smile
means sixpence. Do you—can you expect these strugglers to tell you
disagreeable facts, knowing, as they do, that it doesn’t pay,
_it_—_doesn’t_—_pay_, to make trouble? Their pluck, not their
reticence, amazes me.”

Lady Selina nodded, too dazed by his vehemence to reply. Grimshaw
glanced at his watch, muttered something about Pawley, and was striding
across the lawn before the lady of the manor had recovered her powers of
speech.

Cicely noticed that her mother was unusually silent during dinner, and
that she trifled with her food. Since Cicely’s engagement the cook, a
trusty retainer, had been given a freer hand with eggs and butter.
Possibly the Spartan fare at Danecourt Abbey had been too much for Lady
Selina. More probably, so Cicely reflected, the bride of Arthur
Wilverley must be brought to the post in proper condition. Stimson
waited upon her with even greater deference and assiduity. It was almost
pathetic to witness his activities, deprived of two footmen. He had
asked Lady Selina, almost with tears in his voice, not to engage a
parlourmaid. And when Cicely had asked promptly: “Do you object to a
parlourmaid, Stimson?” he had replied mournfully: “It means, miss, a
loss of dignity. I can manage very well.”

Not till he had left the dining-room did the lady of the manor speak of
Grimshaw and his visit. She recited the essential facts truthfully, but
they were presented with the usual Chandos gloss and with a note of
petulance which Cicely could understand and with which, also, she could
sympathise. The details about Isaac Burble horrified her, as, indeed,
they had horrified Lady Selina. An awkward silence ensued. Then Lady
Selina said slowly:

“He made a sort of threat, my dear.”

“A threat? Mr. Grimshaw? Impossible.”

“I regarded it as a threat, child—a threat which involved, as Mr.
Grimshaw made quite plain, humiliation for me. He spoke of calling in
the chief medical officer of the county.”

In answer to eager questions from Cicely she explained what authority
might do, and the publicity which his doings would entail. Cicely looked
miserable. Noting her daughter’s expression, Lady Selina said quietly:

“And then he proposed a happy alternative. For that I am very truly
grateful. In fact, I can see no other way out of the wood. He suggests
that I should consult dear Arthur, and through him his agent.”

“Oh—h—h!”

“I dislike intensely asking Arthur, but I admit that he is vitally
concerned. I need hardly add that I shall give Gridley a chance of
pleading his case before I pass judgment, but I fear he has exceeded the
powers entrusted to him. Anyway, he will have to explain himself before
Arthur.”

“I told you that Arthur does not see eye to eye with Gridley.”

“Yes, you did. I am prepared for the worst. Arthur, no doubt, will
insist upon my discharging this old servant. And how I shall find
another bailiff in these times is a problem beyond me. However, I count
upon Arthur and his agent.”

Cicely felt dazed. But one lobe of her mind worked clearly. Arthur could
show her mother a way out of the wood. He would do cheerfully and
splendidly everything she demanded. Nobody else could do it half as
well. And her mother was well aware of this, although pride would hardly
allow her to admit as much. Lady Selina smiled faintly when she
mentioned Arthur, and her voice indicated maternal affection. Arthur,
for the first time possibly was envisaged as a son. The other lobe of
Cicely’s brain refused to function at all. Out of a welter of chaotic
sensibilities arose the appalling conviction that the breaking of her
engagement had become a task beyond her powers. Dare she procrastinate?
Could she permit her mother to ask such a service from a prospective
son-in-law only to discover afterwards that the marriage so delightfully
arranged would never take place? What would Tiddy say? She could hear
Tiddy speaking, as it were, through a long-distance telephone:

“You are fairly up against it.”

Then she heard her mother’s voice, leisurely continuing:

“I shall speak to Arthur myself.”

“He comes to-morrow.”

“So you told me. I hope I shan’t spoil his pleasure in giving you your
pearls.”

Cicely had forgotten the pearls. At mere mention of them she
contemplated flight. Why not feign indisposition and remain in bed? Wild
ideas surged through her head. Could she make a personal appeal to
Grimshaw? The one old friend, Dr. Pawley, to whom she might have fled,
for counsel, was physically debarred. Her mother said sharply:

“Don’t look so wretched, child. I am positive that Arthur can save this
abominable situation. I regard it as saved, so cheer up. After dinner
to-morrow night, when he is smoking his cigar, I shall come back here
and talk to him.”

Having dismissed Arthur with gracious finality, she turned once more to
Grimshaw. Immediately the inflections of her soft voice became
querulous. In just the same tone Lord Saltaire bewailed the passing of
the old order. All the Danecourts, in fact—and there were not many left
of them except Cicely’s aunts—aired certain grievances in private. As a
rule Cicely listened patiently enough to a tale—long as the Cromwell
Road—which concerned itself mainly with the shortcomings of gardeners,
grooms and tradesmen: all the many-headed who interfered directly or
indirectly with that love of ease which Grimshaw long ago had described
as moss. Grimshaw, during a few minutes, had raked a lot of moss from
poor Lady Selina. Cicely reflected humorously, occupied though she was
with her own affairs, that her mother presented the appearance of an
ancient lawn cruelly lacerated by an up-to-date gardener.

“He means well,” complained Lady Selina.

Cicely replied:

“Who doesn’t? We all mean well. Mr. Grimshaw, so it seems to me, does
well. Anyway, he never spares himself.”

“Or others. This afternoon, for instance, he showed little consideration
for me. He might have broken this shocking news more gently. And he knew
that I was the person most affected.”

“Well, I should have thought that Isaac Burble was that.”

Lady Selina looked penetratingly at her daughter, and then blinked,
unable to see her quite clearly. What was the matter with the child?

“Of course, that goes without saying. It annoys me that you should say
it.”

This, too, was a Danecourt attribute. A Danecourt cornered, a Danecourt
at bay was likely to snarl. When Lady Selina missed a train she blamed
invariably the railway company or appeared to do so. Once Lord Saltaire
had summoned a man for using bad language. But, according to the
testimony of others, the defendant was impeccably innocent. Indeed, it
transpired that some swearing had been done by Lord Saltaire. When the
case was dismissed Lord Saltaire remarked petulantly: “All I know is
this—bad language was used; the fellow is a rogue and a vagabond.”

Cicely was discreet enough to apologise. Lady Selina continued in the
same aggrieved tone:

“Mr. Grimshaw is a radical. I deplore that.”

“But these labels mean nothing, mother.”

“Heavens! That a child of mine should say so!”

Chandos obstinately revealed itself. Cicely remarked tartly:

“It happens that Mr. Grimshaw does not label himself as a Radical. He
detests party politics. I have his own word for that. Are you angry with
him because he disturbs our peace?”

“Angry? And peace! I despair of peace anywhere. Still, one expects
consideration from one’s own people. And at such a time as this . . .”

She rose majestically and swept out of the dining-room. Cicely lingered
to ring the bell and to pull herself together. How stupid to argue with
her mother upon subjects like politics! And in a true sense Grimshaw was
a Radical. He went to the root of things—an uncompromising reformer.

When she joined her mother Lady Selina smiled sweetly and silently upon
her.

Alone in her bedroom Cicely attempted the impossible—an adjustment of
utterly conflicting interests. If she considered herself, if she broke
her engagement, Lady Selina would be confronted by the chief medical
officer. It is likely that an inexperienced girl exaggerated the powers
wielded by that official. But Lady Selina had made plain to her that
ultimately the lady of the manor would be held responsible for any
abuses discovered on that manor. Already she had a glimpse of a dreadful
photograph of her mother in some daily illustrated paper. And beneath
. . . a scarifying lie! Her uncle, as a many-acred magnate, had not
escaped criticism.

Lady Selina Chandos at the mercy of the Radical Press!

She remembered that Tiddy had hinted at such a catastrophe. And at the
time Cicely laughed. And then Tiddy, resenting ridicule, had cited
cases. According to Miss Tiddy, landlord-baiting to certain journalists
was more fun than drawing badgers.

She lay back in her arm-chair, closing her eyes.

If she did not break her engagement?

She tried to sense what that would mean to Upworthy, her mother and
Arthur—a feat almost equivalent to looking on at a four-ring circle. It
is only fair to a bewildered, unhappy girl to state emphatically that
she considered Arthur first and last. If she married him would she be
perpetrating what Tiddy called an outrage on him? This involved, more or
less, a consideration of matrimonial obligations. What did such a man
really want from his wife? Did Arthur want more than she could give.
Could she not give all that her mother had given to her father? And at
this moment she saw Arthur with extraordinary distinctness, thanks,
possibly, to the trouble that he had taken to reveal himself to her. She
guessed that he had never been swept off his feet by passion. He wanted
affection, fidelity, an atmosphere of domestic peace that would enable
him to concentrate energy upon his work. All that she could bestow.

She felt strangely tired.

So tired that she fell asleep.

And she dreamed vividly of Grimshaw, although purposely she had banished
him from her waking thoughts. Perhaps on that account he took possession
of her subconscious mind. When she awoke every detail of the dream
presented itself with sharpest definition. She had been working with him
as his wife in an enchanting intimacy of spirit and flesh. Interpreters
of dreams, those who endeavor to explain the why and wherefore of the
amazing vicissitudes which may befall us in our sleep, might affirm with
reason that Cicely’s mind had dwelt persistently upon work with
Grimshaw. She had wished from the first to work with him; he had wished
that she should do so. Also, she had thought more than she dared to
admit even to herself of what it might be like to be Grimshaw’s wife.
One other point: she had never thought of Grimshaw apart from his work.
Accordingly the dream in itself may be logically accepted as natural,
almost inevitable. Her first impression on waking was the curious sense
of reality that some dreams impose. Everything had been just right. She
came out of the dream as a man may walk out of a playhouse after seeing
a sincere and convincing presentment of life as it is. It is difficult,
on such rare occasions, to realise that what we have seen and felt has
not taken place. We believe that somewhere, somehow, the dream has been
enacted. That, perhaps, is the great test of a good play.

She had dreamed that Grimshaw and she were fighting death and disease in
Upworthy. Together they wandered in and out of cottages familiar to
Cicely from childhood. The drudgery of the Red Cross Hospital fell to
her. But in the dream this drudgery became glorified, equal to the
highly-skilled labours of her husband: a partnership of mind and muscle.
Her work, in its way, made what he did possible and successful. And the
joy of the dream, the ineffable benediction of it, was this sense of
working together for a common end. In the dream the hands of her
husband, not his lips, touched hers again and again, each time with an
increasing thrill. He hardly spoke to her, nor she to him; because each
understood the unspoken thought of the other. It was as if spirit and
flesh had been thrown into a melting-pot, to be fused eternally. He
became her and she became him.

And she had slept just twenty minutes!

The dream forced upon her what she had avoided—a more rigorous
examination of her own feelings. So far, although bewildered and
miserable, she had glanced at three rings in the circus. She had
realised what marriage with Arthur would mean to Upworthy, to her
mother, and to her husband. What it would mean to herself had been left
in abeyance.

Presently she saw herself as Arthur’s wife. She remembered what Tiddy
had once said about loving two men at the same time. To her that was
impossible, preposterous. If she resolutely banished Grimshaw from her
mind for ever and ever she believed that the affection she felt for
Arthur might bloom into just the same steady, work-a-day love that had
sufficed her own parents. She would be reasonably happy and make him
happy. She would adore her babies if they came to her. She would play
gracefully the part of Lady Bountiful. It would all be so easy, so free
from friction and discomfort. In her dream she had seen herself as the
wife of Grimshaw. Now, wide-awake, she beheld herself as Lady Wilverley.
But any image of Cicely Chandos, unmarried, regarded by her own
kinswomen as a foolish jilt, always conscious of her mother’s silent
disapproval, was hopelessly blurred.

She undressed and went to bed. For hours she wriggled restlessly between
lavender-scented sheets. Then she dropped off into a troubled sleep.

II

She awoke at the usual time, jumped out of bed, went to the window, and
gazed into the garden. The incomparable freshness of early morning fell
like dew upon her still tired mind. The rains of two days had been
absorbed by the thirsty earth; the sun shone again in cloudless skies.

And Brian lay dead in France!

It was delightful to think that all her memories of him were happy. But
why had he been taken and she left? What design underlay these
heart-breaking separations? They had been so jolly together. But she
recalled, with an odd pang that always, always, they had sought the
sunshine and shunned the shadows. Love of ease had enwrapped them from
the cradle. And if Grimshaw were right, if love of ease were a parasitic
growth like moss, if it strangled other growths, must it be raked out
ruthlessly and cast as rubbish to the void? He had said, upon that
memorable evening when Arthur and he met for the first time, when
subconsciously she had compared the two men, arriving intuitively at a
right understanding of each, that some great discipline might change
character. What effect had Brian’s death had upon her?

She couldn’t answer the insistent question percolating through jaded
tissues.

At breakfast Lady Selina glowed maternally. No mention was made of
Snitterfield and Gridley. A letter from Lord Saltaire was read aloud:

“MY DEAR SELINA” (it ran).—“I am rejoiced to hear of little
Cicely’s engagement. From my personal knowledge of Wilverley she
has chosen well and wisely. I hope that I shall enjoy the
privilege of giving the bride away. Tell her, with my love, that
I shall send her a tiara. As I cannot afford to buy diamonds, I
shall give her the one that I chose for my wife, which does not
belong to the family jewels. If you think it old-fashioned, I
can have it re-set. . . .”

Lady Selina laid down the letter and said solemnly:

“Your uncle is the most generous of men. The tiara is simply
magnificent—pearls and diamonds. It won’t need re-setting. It was
bought in the rue de la Paix.”

Cicely murmured what was expected of her. Lady Selina read aloud other
letters of warm congratulation, with a sly jibe at some of the
well-wishers:

“Should we hear from these old cats if you were marrying Tom or Dick?”

“I don’t know them, mother.”

“You will, my dear. They’ll attend to that. I see them licking their
lips over your cream.”

“If they are like that, I needn’t know them.”

“But you must. In your position a lot of boring, self-seeking people
will impose themselves on you. But you can do with them as I
did—entertain them _en gros_. Make your small parties as select as
possible.”

Throughout breakfast Lady Selina dealt delicately but amusingly with
modern society. She had withdrawn from Mayfair after the death of her
husband, selling the lease of a comfortable house in Curzon Street; but
she had never lost touch with “the people who count.” And you may be
sure that it was not disagreeable for her to reflect that Lord Wilverley
would pass thresholds with his wife which he would never cross without
her. But she would have perished at the stake rather than say this.

As she talked, Cicely was sensible that the diamond-and-pearl tiara had
brought down this freshet of worldly-wise counsel and reminiscence. Lady
Selina’s eyes lingered upon her daughter’s hair. She saw the tiara
flashing and scintillating in sanctuaries where innumerable wax candles
were still provided instead of electric light. The mother tasted again
bygone triumphs. She ended in a minor key:

“Of course, society has changed for the worse. Half a dozen houses, not
more, preserve inviolate the old conditions and traditions. I see no
reason why you, my dear child, quite unostentatiously, should not
enforce the golden rule.”

“What is the golden rule, mother?”

“Slam your doors,” said Lady Selina trenchantly, “in the face of
indecency, impudence, and bad breeding. I admit sorrowfully that
impudence can be amusing.”

“Would you have me slam my doors in Tiddy’s face?”

“Tiddy, as you call her, is your personal friend, and therefore the
exception that proves the rule.”

There was a letter from Arthur beside Cicely’s plate, but she didn’t
mean to open it till she was alone. Lady Selina marked and approved this
abstention. Evidently, school had not rubbed off all the bloom. She
kissed her daughter after breakfast, pinched her cheek, and whispered:

“Run into the garden, darling. Read your love-letter in the place where
your lover asked you to be his. My thoughts will be with you.”

Cicely, however, out of sight of a pair of keen eyes, did not stroll
into the topiary garden, but skirted it, making for the lower end of the
park, where her beloved mare had been turned out. She would come
trotting up at sight of her and rub her velvety nose against her hand.
Sugar was becoming scarce, but Cicely had three or four lumps of it in
her pocket.

The park looked invitingly secluded and spacious. Not a human being
could be seen. The cattle were grazing on the higher slopes; the horses
stood near the small lake, not far from some dumps of trees, into which
they would wander when the sun approached the zenith. On the edge of the
lake, almost hidden by tall reeds and bamboos, was a tiny boathouse
which held an ancient punt. Cicely intended to read her letter in the
punt.

Her grey mare, Chinchilla, neighed and then trotted up. Cicely fed and
caressed her, thinking of the good hunts before the war. A couple of
bunnies watched these endearments, ready to pop into their burrows if a
terrier appeared. Upon the surface of the lake were some wild duck and
moor-hens. Overhead a heron flapped lazily along.

Followed by the faithful and sugar-loving Chinchilla, Cicely made her
way to the boat-house and entered it. Chinchilla mounted guard outside.
Cicely gazed, as some girls do, at the firm writing on the envelope,
indicating—to those who have skill in reading character from
caligraphy—love of order, a sense of proportion, generosity, and
rectitude. Cicely had no such skill, but Arthur’s handwriting pleased
her because it was so unlike her own. And it never varied.

She opened the envelope.

“MY DARLING LITTLE GIRL,—I shall have you in my arms within a
few hours of your reading this, and I can think of nothing else.
To have and to hold you fills my heart and mind. I can’t add
much to that, can I? Indeed, it is difficult to realise that you
are really mine, because there is something elusive about
you—something, in spite of your fine physical health, which
seems to me frail and easily bruised. It is my ardent wish to
cherish and protect you——”

Cicely paused. The sincerity of the writer was extraordinarily
impressive. That would be his unswerving purpose. He took care of all
his possessions. Solicitude, henceforward, would be concentrated upon
her.

Tiddy would say, shaking her curls, “Cotton-wool for you, Cis.”

She read on:

“I have been glancing at some houses and flats. I am inclined to
the latter—at any rate, until this war is over and the servant
question becomes less of a nuisance. My own rooms are not good
enough. My poor father had a hideous house full of hideous
things. After my mother’s death I sold it. I have the offer of a
very fine apartment overlooking the Green Park, and have secured
an option on it, pending your final decision. But you won’t be
bothered with details, and we shall buy our furniture
together—make a jolly lark of it. We may have to spend some
time in London, if my Government work becomes, as is likely,
more exacting. The apartment I speak of is charmingly furnished,
and we could, if you preferred it, buy everything as it stands.
That is for you to decide.”

The letter ended curtly: “Yours faithfully, A.”

The “faithfully” was exactly like him. And no word in the letter was
written so firmly, with such uncompromising up-and-down strokes of a
full pen. Obviously he had intended her to digest its significance.

The letter dropped into her lap; she stared through the reeds at the
placid surface of the lake reflecting the cloudless blue and the trees
upon the farther shore.

Could life be like that?

Would it be life?

That morning she had decided to drift on with her engagement. All
vitality seemed to have left her, after uneasy vigils and travailings.
She had been born to tread the old ways, like her mother, like all her
people, except that one unfortunate who was never mentioned.

Probably she would lose Tiddy. And such a loss filled her with dismay
and apprehension. She computed her debt to Tiddy. Tiddy had opened her
eyes. Tiddy would go to France, and hurl herself into the danger zone,
if she could get anywhere near it. Why was she so different from Tiddy?

III

Presently inaction became prickly. She decided to walk to the village
and inquire after Isaac Burble. Mixed up with all her thoughts and
speculations was this neglected old man who had served faithfully the
House of Chandos. He had suffered abominably. Because of that it seemed
a soft of judgment that Lady Selina’s daughter must suffer too. The
mills of God worked that way.

By the time she reached Upworthy the sun was nearly overhead, pouring
down redhot shafts upon just and unjust. Once more the smell of the
unclean animal assailed Cicely’s nostrils as she passed Martha Giles’s
sties. Close by, in striking apposition, stood Timothy Farleigh’s
picturesque, heavily-thatched cottage. Mary Farleigh was in her garden,
hanging out the Monday washing. Cicely beheld garments patched and
darned incredibly. Mary’s pale, thin face seemed paler and thinner; she
looked an attenuated shadow of a woman, worn to skin and bone. Nick, the
softy, was helping her, with a vacuous grin upon his round, amorphous
face.

“Good morning, Mary.”

“Marning, miss. A be-utiful marning, to be sure.”

“How are you?”

“I bain’t feeling very grand, miss. Tired-like. But I allers feels that
way o’ Mondays. ’Tis the washing, I reckons. So you be marriage-ripe,
they tells me.”

“What be that?” asked Nick.

“’Tis something you’ll never be, my pore lad,” replied his mother, not
tartly, but with pathetic resignation. She looked penetratingly at
Cicely, adding softly: “I wishes you all happiness, Miss Cicely; you be
a rare good, kind maid.”

“Thank you, Mary. Can I send you anything? A little strong beef-tea?”

Mary’s eyes brightened, but her thin lips closed.

“Thank’ee kindly, miss. I ain’t much stomach for my vittles. ’Tis the
heat, maybe.”

Something in her face made Cicely say hastily:

“If you feel ailing, Mary, send for Mr. Grimshaw. Don’t put it off till
it’s too late. He’s very clever.”

Mary nodded doubtfully. Cicely passed slowly on.

She did not hear very encouraging news from Isaac Burble’s niece, who
seemed to be more concerned—as well she might—with her own
“symptings,” as she called them. Her uncle, so Cicely gathered, had long
survived his usefulness. The thought that mainly engrossed the niece was
obviously the difficulty and necessity of providing a respectable
funeral for one whose time had come.

Cicely insisted on seeing him, and found him fairly comfortable and
cheerful. At any rate, Isaac was not contemplating his own funeral. He
said with a chuckle:

“I be going to disappint Maggie. Yas, we Burbles be long-lived. Take a
squint at Nicodemus. He was here along this marning. I told ’un I’d
wager a tankard of ale that this young doctor sets my old leg. ’Twill be
a rare joke on Dr. Snitterfield.”

Cicely left him still chuckling.

Soon afterwards she ran into Grimshaw, although she wished to avoid him.
He spoke of Isaac:

“I believe he’ll pull through. The amazing thing is, he won’t
die—positively refuses to do so. If the bed-sores yield to treatment, I
shall tackle his leg.”

Cicely said tranquilly:

“I have faith in you, and so has he. It’s too awful that he should be in
this condition.”

“Lady Selina has told you?”

He spoke with his usual incisiveness. Beneath his glance she flushed,
saying hurriedly:

“She will consult Lord Wilverley to-night.”

“Good!”

“If—if you have anything you care to say to me—something you may have
withheld from my mother out—out of consideration for her, I want to
hear it.”

He hesitated. They had met in the middle of the green, and it was now
unbearably hot, swelteringly so. Close to Farleigh’s cottage stood an
immense tree, with a seat encircling it. Grimshaw indicated this with a
wave of his hand.

“Shall we get into the shade for a minute?”

Cicely assented, reflecting that she would remain in the shade for the
rest of her life. She was torn in two by the wish to leave Grimshaw and
the desire to hear what he might have to say. Must more horrors be
faced?

She sat down on the rustic bench and furled her parasol. He stood near
her, removed his soft felt hat, and began crumpling it between his
hands. Her eyes rested upon his thin, nervous fingers.

“I dared not tell Lady Selina about the milk.”

“The milk?”

Very deliberately, in his most professional tone and manner, he dropped
the bomb.

“I have examined fifteen samples of milk taken from cows in and about
Upworthy. All—_all_ the samples held organisms derived from manure.”

“Heavens!”

“Worse than that—some of the cows are tuberculous.”

Cicely wailed out:

“How and why have things come to this pass? It isn’t as if mother didn’t
care. She does. So do I—tremendously. And with good-will on our part,
with—with the sincere wish to do our duty—why have we failed?”

“If I could answer all questions as easily as that!”

“Please answer me.”

“I hate preaching. I hate indicting individuals. What is wrong here, and
in thousands of other parishes, is the system. Peter is robbed to pay
Paul. Compromise is the _mot d’ordre_. How can your mother or you know
whether milk is pure or not? Of course, there is a man who is supposed
to attend to these matters, a state-paid official. In my experience,
most of these fellows—not too well paid, by the way—shirk their
duties. Why? Because the foundations of the land system are rotten. Now
and again a big fuss is made, and then things go on as before, simply
because there is, as yet, no real awakening, no vital co-operation
amongst land-owners. Many are good, some are outrageously bad—and they
are ear-marked. The immense majority are indifferent, because they are
ignorant. They simply don’t know what ought to be done. It’s futile to
blame individuals. In a sense Gridley is responsible for the insanitary
conditions in your pretty village. But I only blame him up to a point.
With the best will in the world he would blunder horribly if he
attempted drastic reform. Your mother would say that she can’t afford to
employ an expert, but, between ourselves, she can’t afford not to do so.
And really it comes to this: if land-owners can’t afford experts they
must become experts themselves and teach their sons to become experts.”

“And their daughters?”

“And their daughters. This war, of course, has made things, the bad
things, blatant. All the farmers are short-handed. I see an immense
change in cow-sheds since I left last autumn. What drainage was done is
now left undone. All I have said, Miss Chandos—and I have said it under
pressure from you, and with the greatest reluctance—applies to
everything here. Snitterfield, for instance, would not have neglected a
patient so—so damnably, if he were not overworked. In his way, too, he
is just as ignorant as Gridley. If ever he knew anything he has
forgotten it. And there you are!”

She thanked him for his candour. He stared rather ruefully at his
crumpled hat, smoothed it, and straightened it, put it on his head, and
laughed.

“I feel these things too much,” he admitted.

“I can guess how you feel.”

“If your mother will be guided by Lord Wilverley, all will be well. He
is a man of remarkable executive ability. But, if you have any
influence, entreat Lady Selina to give him a free hand.”

“I promise to do that.”

“What it will mean to this village is—immeasurable. And co-operation
between two large owners may lead to the one thing needful—a more
general realisation of what union can achieve. A league of landlords is
wanted. The farmers should be asked to adopt a more definite policy, but
most of them, again, are ignorant and obstinate.” His voice softened.
“All this is hard luck on you.”

“They are fighting in France,” replied Cicely.

IV

Arthur Wilverley motored over at three, bringing with him his evening
clothes and the pearls. The pearls and Lord Saltaire’s tiara had become,
by this time, symbols to Cicely, symbols impossible to ignore. At a
glance, she perceived that her lover had bought a perfect string,
superbly gradated. It must have cost thousands! Their first greeting had
been perfunctory. He came into Lady Selina’s sitting-room and kissed
Cicely. He was about to shake hands with Lady Selina, when she said
impulsively:

“Kiss me, my dear son.”

She spoke with such a charming spontaneity that he hugged her. And then
he began to speak boyishly of what he had done in London, describing the
apartment and its furniture. Apparently, it had belonged to a
connoisseur, a collector, whose daughter, oddly enough, disdained
Chippendale chairs, and porcelain, and mezzotints.

“I’m offered the lot, so the agent says, cheap. Really it’s a gilt-edged
opportunity.”

“Not to be missed,” affirmed Lady Selina.

Cicely dissembled. She had looked forward to buying the furniture of her
London house, but she distrusted her taste. Probably, left to her own
devices, she would achieve the commonplace.

“What do you say, Cis?” asked Wilverley.

“If the things are really good . . .”

“They are, they are. We should save time, money, and worry. I told the
agent that I’d wire him.”

“Talk it over together,” advised Lady Selina. She added gravely: “I
commend any saving of time and worry to you, Arthur, because I am
constrained, much to my distress, to ask you to spend time and worry on
me. But we will talk of that later.”

With that she smiled graciously, and sailed out of the room.

“What does your mother mean?” asked Wilverley.

“She will tell you, Arthur, after dinner.”

He displayed a tinge, nothing more, of irritability.

“Mystery . . .!”

“You hate mystery, don’t you?” She spoke lightly, but he detected
nervousness, and saw troubled eyes.

“I do,” he replied emphatically. “But if this mystery doesn’t concern
you, my dearest . . .”

“But it does. Perhaps I had better prepare you. After all, mother asks
your help, because I am so concerned in your giving it.”

He recovered his geniality at once.

“If that is the case, dear, the help shall be given. Be sure of that.”

She sat down upon the big couch facing her father’s portrait. It was too
hot to go out. He sat beside her and captured her hand which lay, he
thought, too passively in his. Within five minutes he understood exactly
what was expected of him, and rose finely to the emergency.

“Why, of course. Any possibility of a public inquiry must be burked. I
know what to do. I can deal with the three culprits, Snitterfield,
Gridley and the Sanitary Inspector. And I’ll undertake more, provided
. . .”

“Yes?”

“That your mother allows me a free hand.”

“Mr. Grimshaw said that would be necessary.”

“Grimshaw? You have talked with him?” She nodded. “What did he say?”

She repeated Grimshaw’s words almost verbatim.

“Yes, yes. Grimshaw is right. The trouble is deep-seated, and goes back
to feudal times. Most of us muddle through somehow.”

“You don’t.”

“Oh, well,” he laughed, “I’m a bit of a carpet-bagger, and I’ve applied
to estate management the methods which succeed in our big industries.
The temper of this country won’t stand much more muddling. As Grimshaw
says, we land-owners must try to mobilise. And the old machinery must be
scrapped. I told you once before that money is needed, the sinews of
war. Because, mind you, this means war, a fight to a finish against
inefficiency and stupidity, with most of your mother’s farmers arrayed
against us. I shan’t have so much time to spend with you, Cis.”

She pressed his hand, and then released her own.

“I have your pearls in my pocket,” he whispered.

A moment afterwards the lustrous string dangled before her eyes.
Instantly, as has been said, she appreciated the splendour of the gift.
And, as instantly, she knew that it exacted a response. Why couldn’t she
fling her arms about his neck and press her lips to his? The fingers
that held the pearls trembled; the colour ebbed from her cheeks.

“What can I say?” she murmured.

“Bless you! You needn’t _say_ anything.”

She kissed him timidly. As it was her first kiss he may be excused, poor
fellow, for thinking that the shy caress was merely something on
account. Being shy himself where women were concerned, he accepted it
gratefully, and with a restraint which made Cicely heartily ashamed of
herself. He watched her fingers softly stroking the pearls, and wondered
why she remained so silent. And all the time she was thinking miserably:
“This is my price, or part of it. I am selling myself to this gallant
gentleman. _If he knew it_. . . .!” The tiara would go admirably with
these pearls. And whenever she wore them, the same thought would spoil
all pleasure in them. Unconsciously she sighed.

“Why do you sigh?” he asked.

It was an unfortunate question at such a moment. Swiftly she divined
that he was the sort of man who put such questions and expected them to
be answered truthfully. If she let this minute pass, always she must
dissemble, become an actress for ever and ever. And she couldn’t do it.

Hanging, so it seemed to her, between heaven and hell, she glanced up
and saw her stern father staring down at her. On his familiar face she
read contempt, condemnation, derision. The Danecourt half of her
withered.

Nevertheless, so persistently does moss cling to us, that she might have
procrastinated, if sudden passion had not broken loose in Wilverley. The
soft sigh inflamed him. He became, what he wanted to be, the lover of
romance. It is invariably your shy man who, on occasion, bursts out of
his fetters. He misinterpreted the sigh and the silence that followed
it. He jumped to the conclusion that the awakening he had predicted was
at hand. He would exercise the supreme privilege of the male, and infuse
into this sweet, trembling creature the ardour that informed him so
ecstatically. Without warning, his strong arms crushed her against his
broad chest; he kissed her lips, her eyes, her throat . . .

In every sense of the word she awoke.

With a strangled cry she broke from him, and stood up. He rose with her,
facing her, grasping the one essential fact that she had repulsed him,
that she shrank from him. He said hoarsely:

“What is it?”

She answered him with the directness that had characterised her father.
He had been a “yea”-or-“nay” man.

“I can’t do it, Arthur.”

He hardly understood her.

“Can’t do what?”

“I can’t marry you. It’s simply impossible. It wouldn’t be fair to you.
I am ashamed and humiliated beyond words. Don’t torture me by asking
questions. You are too generous for that. I wanted to love you, but it’s
not in me. It never will be in me. I ought to have obeyed my instinct in
the garden. I have hurt you horribly; I shall make mother miserable; I
shall be wretched myself; but I can’t marry you.”

He walked to the window. She was sorely tempted to rush from the room,
but strength came back to her. She perceived that the pearls were still
in her hand.

“And those pearls of dew she wears
Prove to be presaging tears.”

Milton’s lines came into her mind, as she placed the string upon her
mother’s desk. But no tears came into her eyes. She waited for Wilverley
to turn and speak. What would he say? Would he attempt protest,
argument, reproach . . .?

He came back to her.

“I am sorry,” he said kindly. “If you feel that way, I—I admire your
pluck. Of course, I was not prepared. I blame myself. I suppose I ought
to have taken your first ‘no’ as final. I understand anyway that this
last ‘no’ is final. Now . . . What are you going to say to Lady Selina?”

“Just what I have said to you.”

He paced up and down the room, thinking.

“Shall I speak to her? It might make it easier.”

She was very near tears as she faltered:

“How generous of you! No; I shall tell her, poor dear! The simple truth
will suffice. She will say nothing. Her silence will be my punishment.
Nothing, nothing will bridge that.”

“You want me to go?”

“Please!”

He marched straight to the door.

“Arthur, you have forgotten the pearls. Let me say this to you. The
pearls did it—and my father’s face.”

She pointed to the portrait, but it seemed to her entirely different.

“Your father’s face?”

“Yes.” She gave a bitter laugh. “He forbade the banns. I can’t explain.
It was something far beyond me. But I knew. And the pearls, those lovely
pearls, were the pearls of price—my price. You understand? You pity
me?”

He answered solemnly:

“Before God, I do.”

Hastily he caught up the pearls and pocketed them. Then he held out his
hands.

“Good-bye, my poor little Cicely.”

“Is it to be good-bye, Arthur?”

He held her hands, gripping them. She saw that he was thinking hard.

“We remain neighbours and friends. I will help your mother.”

She shook her head sadly.

“Mother is too proud. More punishment for me.”

At this he smiled faintly, pressing her hands. He never appeared to
better advantage than when he murmured tenderly:

“If you have done the right thing, Cicely, other things will adjust
themselves.”

He released her hands and went out.

V

Meanwhile, as luck would have it, Lady Selina happened to be in Cicely’s
rooms. Already she envisaged them as suitable for a day—and
night—nursery. The old nursery at the Manor was not too happily
situated. It looked north. Lady Selina could remember the day when she
had suggested to her husband a bigger and better room, but he had
expressed positively the opinion that what had been good enough for
himself and his father, was good enough for his children. He was no
believer in coddling. And if babies howled, which in his day was
reckoned to be a natural lamentation over Original Sin, let them howl
next to the servants’ quarters!

Now, with a more enlightened understanding, Lady Selina admitted that
howling was no longer tolerated. And something told her that she would
hasten, despite her advanced years, more swiftly to Cicely’s babies than
she had ever hastened to her own. Conscious of this, and able to analyse
her sensibilities with an odd detachment, she smilingly considered the
right placing of cots out of draughts, and the substitution of thick
curtains instead of chintz. Chintz rustled when windows were open at
night; flimsy curtains bulged inwards; a nervous child might be
frightened.

These thoughts were put to flight by the soft purring of Wilverley’s
motor. And then, to her utter confounding, looking out of the window,
she beheld Wilverley and his chauffeur, and, a moment later, the
faithful Stimson crossed the stable-yard carrying a suit-case.

What, in the name of the Sphinx, could have happened? And where was
Cicely? Had the dear young people quarrelled? As her prospective
son-in-law, she insisted upon regarding Arthur as young; Cicely she
reckoned to be a mere child.

Her heart began to beat uncomfortably, as a premonition of disaster
gripped her. She sat down, trembling, realising that her hands and feet
were cold. Deep down in her mind, possibly in some zone of
subconsciousness, lay latent the fear that a marriage so exactly right
from every point might never take place. She had been aware, from the
first, of Cicely’s hesitations and doubts. But always she had
impatiently dismissed her own forebodings as unduly pessimistic.

For a minute or two she sat still, unable to think articulately. She
heard the motor leave the stable-yard. A long, dismal silence followed.
Being a lady of quality, she realised instantly that Arthur was
incapable of rushing away from her house without a word of explanation
unless something quite out of the ordinary had happened. A man in his
position might, of course, receive an urgent telegram. But, in that
case, Cicely would have speeded him on his way.

She waited, knowing that Cicely would soon come to her own rooms.

Cicely, meanwhile, believing that her mother was quite unaware of
Wilverley’s departure, had not yet considered how and when she could
tell the abominable truth. The paramount necessity of the moment was to
be alone. Accordingly, after Arthur had disappeared, she remained on the
sofa, staring at her father’s portrait. She made sure that her mother
was in the garden under the tree where tea was served on hot afternoons.

Presently, she opened the door, saw that the corridor was empty, and
stole swiftly to her sitting-room. As she entered it, Lady Selina rose
to meet her.

“Why has Arthur gone?” she asked calmly.

Cicely, completely taken aback, unable to temporise, faltered out:

“Because I have broken off our engagement.”

Continue Reading

CUPID SPEEDS HIS SHAFTS

Dr. Pawley’s house was situate on the village green, opposite to the
church and to the left of the inn, The Chandos Arms. It presented a
Georgian exterior to the architectural eye, and the front door boasted a
pediment which resurrected Queen Anne. Red brick glowed rosily,
diffusing an air of hospitality. One might know that the cellarage was
excellent, that the larder was well stocked, and that the parlour
probably was panelled in oak. Behind the house a walled-in garden sloped
upwards to a small temple crowning a mound, which might have served as a
tumulus. In this temple, upon fine summer mornings, the doctor
breakfasted, consuming leisurely bacon of his own curing and eggs
freshly laid. Between herbaceous borders his eyes could wander to his
house, where he had lived so pleasantly during thirty years. Often he
wondered whether his successor would live as pleasantly. And the
conjecture troubled a kindly man, introspective and analytical,
distrusting the _laudator temporis acti_, but fully alive to the fact
that the England he knew and loved was changing profoundly. He confessed
that the eighteenth century was to his taste, as a period of consummate
craftsmanship. Slowly he had collected eighteenth century furniture and
porcelain and silver. Pope was his favourite poet. Everything in the
house was English. Old-fashioned flowers bloomed in his garden and in
his heart. And yet, in odd antithesis, he dealt honestly with the
present and the future. He had considered the future when the necessity
of taking a partner forced itself disagreeably upon his attention. Had
he consulted his own inclinations, he might have selected a colleague of
middle age, more or less satisfied with existing conditions. Such a
colleague would have been accepted by Lady Selina and the villagers as
the real right thing in doctors. To seek out a young up-to-date man
adumbrated possible disaster to peace of mind. At any rate, it salved a
somewhat sensitive conscience to reflect that another might do what he
had left undone. At the same time he was whimsically conscious that he
had done his best according to lights which glimmered none too brightly
when he perused the leading medical journals. Balm descended upon a
perturbed spirit when high authorities in his profession flatly
contradicted each other in and out of print. He had seen, not without
satisfaction, astounding theories spin centrifugally out of sight.
Tremendous assumptions had vanished in thin air. If he halted, out of
breath and sometimes out of pocket, behind the leaders, he could reflect
agreeably upon their divagations, conscious that he had stuck
religiously to the well-worn thoroughfare.

Of late, with failing health and energies, he had asked himself whether
he was doomed to attend the funeral of his own experience. Such an
interment made him shiver, as if an iconoclast were dancing a jig upon
his grave. At such times he wondered pathetically what might have been
had he taken arms against the lady of the manor after the death of her
husband. To work with her, to persuade her where persuasion was
possible, to accept resignedly conditions which he could not approve,
had proved difficult. Country doctors throughout that part of England
were constrained to compromise, although they might detest the word.
Parsons were in just the same boat. Goodrich, for example, after a good
dinner, might acclaim reforms which he was quite incapable of bringing
about. He, too, wandered in a vicious circle of impotent imaginings,
walled in by consequence and circumstance. Each man, perhaps, criticised
the other, but not too harshly. Both agreed that matters in the village
might be worse. Lady Selina spread the voluminous draperies of private
charity over insanitary cottages and low wages. Humanly speaking,
nothing would change her methods. Wise men made the best of them.

Grimshaw arrived in Upworthy some few days after the midsummer
bun-feast. Pawley asked him for a week-end, met him at the station,
installed him in a comfortable room, and, after luncheon, accepted with
gratitude the young man’s suggestion that he should “nose round” by
himself during the afternoon. Pawley was taken with his appearance,
because vitality exuded from him. He had expected to see signs of
overwork, hollow cheeks, a jaded look. And at luncheon he touched
lightly upon this. To his surprise, Grimshaw spoke with entire
frankness.

“My trouble was mental. I found myself up against vested interests, a
hopeless fight. I hostilised authority. And, at heart, I’m an open-air
man. I’m fed up with the slums.”

“I quite understand.”

“Yes; my ease of mind was menaced. And without that, where are you? In a
pea-soup fog.” He laughed boyishly, and added: “I say, how good your
mutton is!”

Presently he took the road without any directions or warnings from
Pawley.

II

For a minute or two he stood still, admiring the village green, in the
centre of which was a cricket pitch in fairly good order. The church
faced him with its low square tower of concrete. Bits of the concrete
had fallen off, revealing the bricks beneath. “Not too much money here,”
thought the young man. His eyes rested upon the cottages, mostly
whitewashed, with heavy thatched roofs, very picturesque, and all of
them more than a hundred years old. The general effect pleased. Perhaps
the best house (barring the doctor’s) was The Chandos Arms, with a wide
gravel sweep in front of it, and ample stable accommodation. A house of
delightful rotundities—bow windows flanking a big hospitable door,
dormer windows winking at you out of the thatch, and the thatch
itself—a masterpiece of craftsmanship—not cut straight along the eaves
but undulating in semicircles of generous diameter. Grimshaw guessed
that it had been a prosperous inn during coaching-days, had suffered a
decline in custom, and was now blooming in a sort of Indian summer by
reason of the increased motor traffic. All the cottages stood back from
the road that skirted the green, with small front gardens ablaze with
old-fashioned flowers. From where he stood, looking to the left, he
could see the trees in the park, and above them the chimneys of the
Manor. If the lady of that Manor chose to stand upon her roof she could
survey the village, and outwardly at least it must have gladdened her
eye. Hard by the church, and beyond it, snuggled the Vicarage. In front
of the inn spread a large horse-pond, a treasure-house of fresh-water
infusoria. The face of any amateur microscopist would have brightened at
the sight of it.

Grimshaw strolled on, crossing the pitch. A wide street led from the
green into the grass country beyond, with cottages on both sides of it.
No modern buildings offended the artistic sense. Grimshaw passed the
post-office, the village store, the baker’s, and a cobbler’s. He could
see no chapel. Nonconformity obviously went without a place of worship
in Upworthy. Being Saturday afternoon, many children were playing in
front of the cottages. Grimshaw stared at them with professional
interest. They appeared to be clean, but not too robust. A few were
rickety.

From a blacksmith’s forge came the cheery sound of hammer on anvil.

Grimshaw nodded to the smith and bade him “Good day.” The smith, nothing
loath for a chat, paused in his work, observing critically:

“You be a stranger in these parts?”

“I am,” said Grimshaw.

“Ah-h-h! A sight o’ folks comes to our village, so pretty and peart it
be.”

“Not much new building going on.”

“Well, no. My lady don’t hold wi’ improvements. New cottages be needed
bad, too.”

“You’re a bit overcrowded, I take it?”

“That be God A’mighty’s truth. I ain’t one to complain, but ’tis a fact
that Upworthy don’t march wi’ the times. Never did, I reckons. When the
kids grows up they has to muck it like pigs in a sty. But I don’t tell
all I knows.”

Grimshaw passed on. He shot a glance upwards at the windows of bedrooms
that held too many children. It was a lovely sunny afternoon, but the
upper windows were closed. At the back of each cottage were sties. The
county was celebrated for its bacon. He could smell roses; and he could
smell pigs. His steps quickened as he left the village behind him.

He was now—as Pawley had informed him—in the heart of the Chandos
domain. Cattle browsed placidly in fields enclosed by hedgerows, not
hedges, hedgerows beloved by pheasants in October and November. Quite
close to the village lay a snipe-bog, which ought to have been drained.
From a man at work on the road Grimshaw learnt that the snipe-bog
harboured wild-fowl as well as snipe.

“’Tis as good a bit o’ rough shooting as I knows.”

“A lot of rabbits, eh?”

“Too many,” said the man. “A rare noosance they be.”

Grimshaw drew the inference. Here, at any rate, sport reigned supreme.
He examined the cows. Unless his experience was at fault, some few were
furnishing milk not fit for human consumption. The farmyards into which
he stared confirmed this unhappy conclusion. Water lay close to the
surface of a clayey soil, and in winter time must have oozed up
everywhere. The ditches were not deep enough, and overgrown with rank
vegetation. But he saw some handsome colts—prospective hunters—and
brood mares. Of high farming there was no evidence whatever. The plough,
for some occult reason, seemed to have been banished.

Grimshaw seated himself upon an ancient gate and lit his pipe.

“By their gates ye shall know them,” he murmured.

And then——

“Can I stick it?”

Sitting on the gate, his thoughts took a swallow’s flight into the past.
He had been born in just such a parish, where Peter was robbed to pay
Paul, where shift had degenerated into makeshift, where Compromise
crowed lustily over Justice and Common Sense. And his father, the parson
of the parish, had been a soured man, unable to cope with his
environment. Fortunately for Grimshaw an uncle and godfather had sent
him to Winchester, where he shone in the playing-fields rather than the
class-rooms. After that he had been pitchforked into Medicine, simply
because the uncle aforesaid happened to be a fairly prosperous
physician.

And then his father had died——!

Up to the very day of the funeral—and how dismal it had been!—Henry
Grimshaw had taken life very easily. Looking back, analytical of himself
and the motives that had governed and misgoverned him, he could remember
vividly how keen he had been to distinguish himself at cricket, partly
because his father had no stomach for games or sport. Really, he had
shirked Latin and Greek out of sheer contrariety, under the lash of a
tongue that perhaps unduly exalted classical attainments. And because
his sire had been something of an ascetic, he had decided to mortify
parental ambitions rather than his own flesh.

In the same odd spirit of contrariety, he had scrapped cricket and
football, concentrating all energies upon the study of his profession.
The friends of his own age held out the lure of playing for the
Gentlemen of England at Lord’s. Their insistence exasperated him. After
his father’s death he found himself in possession of a few thousand
pounds and a mother and sister on his hands. His uncle, something of a
cynic, said to him:

“Harry, you have good looks and good manners. In my profession these
count enormously. When I retire, which I intend to do, you can slide
into a capital practice chiefly amongst aged handmaidens of the Lord.”

Having good manners, Harry said nothing, but he thought: “I’m bothered
if I will.” And immediately afterwards, as luck would have it, he was
captivated by Babbington-Raikes, the famous gynecologist, who had
“enthused” him. Babbington-Raikes fought against diseases of women and
children with the ardour and self-sacrifice of a paladin. He was
amazing. Babbington-Raikes sent him to a God-forsaken parish in Essex
and afterwards to Poplar.

In each place he had learnt much; in each place he had been “downed,”
like his father before him, by the powers plenipotentiary of vested
interests.

And now, apparently, he was “up against them” again.

He returned, after an absence of some hours, in time to dress for
dinner. Pawley gave his visitor of his best, and, whilst the trim
parlourmaid waited upon them, the talk lingered in the eighteenth
century. Grimshaw showed appreciation of the furniture and silver,
drawing out his host to describe his adventures as a collector before
prices became prohibitive to a man of modest means. An agreeable hour
passed swiftly. Then the maid removed the cloth, brought in coffee, and
retired. The doctor placed on the well-polished mahogany an antique box
well filled with excellent cigars.

“Help yourself,” said Pawley.

Grimshaw did so.

“You are amazingly comfortable,” he said abruptly. “Your house is a sort
of sanctuary. To my notion it’s just right. No man could wish to spend
the evening of his life in more delightful surroundings.”

Pawley nodded. Grimshaw hesitated a moment, glancing at his host. The
whimsical face encouraged him to speak frankly.

“I am wondering,” he went on, “whether any design lurks behind your
charming hospitality?”

Pawley laughed.

“Design? An appeal, you mean, to the flesh?”

“Well, yes. You encourage me to be candid.”

“I like that.”

“Thanks.”

“There is no design behind my hospitality, save the wish to make you
heartily welcome here.”

“Thanks again. I have had a jolly letter from Brian Chandos.”

“Ah! His leave was up two days ago. Otherwise I should have asked him
here to-night. To-morrow you will meet his mother and sister.”

“Another appeal——!”

Pawley eyed him more keenly. Grimshaw strayed down a by-path.

“Tell me about the mother.”

“Am I to be biographical?”

“Please.”

“She was the daughter of Lord Saltaire, a West Country magnate. He
belonged to the _vieille souche_. He owned large estates heavily
mortgaged. His daughters were educated at home by a governess who, I
imagine, was not too highly paid. Probably she knew enough to cut the
girls to the Saltaire pattern. All of them married well. The conclusion
has been forced upon me that men like the late Henry Chandos fight shy
of cleverness in a wife.”

“Am I to infer that Lady Selina is stupid?”

“Heavens—no. What do you call cleverness in a woman?”

Grimshaw considered this. He felt himself to be challenged, and wished
to acquit himself adequately. But he had no answer pat to his lip.
Indeed, he had never considered the cleverness of women as something to
be differentiated from the cleverness of man. But he was quite sure that
his own sister might be reckoned clever. And he thought of her as he
replied:

“I should expect perception, sympathy, humour, adaptability, and a sound
business instinct.”

Pawley chuckled.

“I hope you will find all that in your wife, Grimshaw. If you do, you
won’t focus your affections on Chippendale furniture. To return to my
lady—she has perception and sympathy up to a point, and unsound
business instincts. I have her word for it that she never drew a cheque
till she found herself a widow.”

Grimshaw meditated a moment or two before he said tentatively:

“I am rather sorry you mentioned our possible partnership to Lady
Selina. From Brian’s letter he seems to take it for granted that the
thing is cut and dried.”

“And it isn’t?”

“The pitch—I spent four hours on it—looks bumpy. By the way, who is
your Sanitary Inspector?”

Pawley made a grimace.

“Um! An insanitary person, who doesn’t inspect.”

“Eats out of the hand of Authority.”

“An occasional luncheon.”

“Dines with the big farmers?”

“You seem to know our little ways.”

“I worked in Essex before I went to Poplar.”

“I’ll admit that you wouldn’t be idle here.”

“Idle? No. How much time should I have for research work?”

Pawley sighed, too well bred to express his disappointment. He had been
a fool to suppose that a young man of Grimshaw’s distinction would care
to kick against the pricks in an obscure village. Obviously Grimshaw had
“nosed about” to some purpose. He had read the writing on the
whitewashed walls. He might have wandered into the pretty churchyard and
noticed an undue proportion of tiny graves! But to a fighter that might
be an incentive, a provocation.

Possibly Grimshaw’s sharp ears caught the attenuated sigh. Pawley looked
up to find keenly penetrative eyes on his.

“If, Dr. Pawley, _if_ I tackle this job, what backing shall I have? Is
Lady Selina likely to stand by?”

“I—I don’t know.”

“That means she won’t. Brian Chandos used to be a good sort. Will he
help or hinder?”

Pawley answered evasively:

“Brian is devoted to his mother. And he’s dependent upon her.”

“All is said. What about the daughter?”

“You must form your own opinion. She and you together might influence
Lady Selina. She loves being loved. Of course she thinks Upworthy a
paradise.”

At this Grimshaw spoke for the first time with vehemence. It is likely
that some instinct warned him that he was being driven, against his
judgment, into a false position. Pawley’s honesty appealed to him. And
he liked him at sight, feeling sorry for him as the victim of autocracy.

“Your Lady Selina is swathed in cotton wool. I behold your Sanitary
Inspector bowing down in the house of Chandos. I behold doles instead of
decent habitations, thatch and phthisis, whitewash and eyewash.”

Pawley took this outburst humorously.

“How gently you young fellows hit.”

“I beg your pardon. You know, doctor, I have an objection to those who
swagger above me socially, but I hate still more the poor devils
cringing below me. The fact that lots of my fellow-countrymen aren’t fit
to associate with me makes me sick. There! that’s off my chest. Let me
ask a last question. Who does the dirty work in Upworthy? Who is the son
of a gun? I can see your Lady Selina handing out the smiles and
ha’pence. Who gives the kicks?”

“Her bailiff. Honest John Gridley—bother him!”

Then they both laughed. Grimshaw promised to talk with the lady of the
manor on the morrow. Beyond that he refused to pledge himself. Naturally
the talk soon wandered into the professional channel. The elder man
listened for the most part, interjecting a few questions, more and more
sensible that youth might succeed where he had failed, sensible, also,
that having, by the luck of things, found the right man, he was likely
to lose him. They parted for the night excellent friends.

III

Next day, at half-past four, Stimson—looking apostolic after Morning
Church—ushered them into the drawing-room at the Manor, an immense room
seldom used, filled with furniture collected by different generations,
some of it good, some of it bad. The ladies of the house didn’t appear
immediately, and Grimshaw was much amused by the expression on Pawley’s
face as he glanced sadly at mid-Victorian atrocities, shaking his head
dolefully, apparently too overcome for speech. Characteristically,
Grimshaw devoted his attention to the full-length portraits, staring at
Chandos chins and foreheads. He decided that they must be an obstinate,
obdurate race, pleasant to deal with when things ran smoothly,
honourable, kindly, and—unquestionably—quality.

Cicely entered first, in evident distress, holding her handkerchief to
her eye.

“Oh, Dr. Pawley! How clever of you to come in the very nick of time!”

“What is it, my dear?”

“Some enormous beast—it feels as big as a bluebottle—is committing
suicide in my eye. Please save its life and mine—quick!”

“Dear, dear! Where are my glasses?”

As he fumbled for his pince-nez, Grimshaw said promptly:

“Allow me, Miss Chandos. Your handkerchief, please.”

She smiled, gave him her handkerchief and held up her face. Very deftly
Grimshaw extracted a midge, and exhibited it.

“There!”

“Where? Oh, yes. What a tiny thing.”

As he flicked it away, returning the handkerchief, with a slight bow, he
murmured:

“May all your troubles be as small.”

She held out her hand.

“Thanks. You are Dr. Grimshaw?”

“Mr. Grimshaw,” he corrected her. She nodded, exclaiming gaily:

“I’m ever so glad to meet Brian’s old friend. Now, perhaps, I shall find
out what really happened at Winchester.”

“Never. We were in the same house.”

“And you were a tremendous swell.”

“And now a poor G.P.”

“G.P.?”

“General Practitioner,” Pawley explained. “With a few letters after his
name that some Harley Street men haven’t got. Now, my dear, I tried to
help you the other day. Will you help me?”

“Why, of course.” She gazed at him affectionately. “Mother will be down
in two jiffs. You caught her napping. Sunday luncheon. How can I help
you?”

“I have asked Mr. Grimshaw to become my partner.”

“I know. And I think it’s perfectly splendid.”

“But alas! he’s not very keen about it.”

Cicely raised her brows. Grimshaw wondered whether she was obstinate,
catching a glimpse of the Chandos chin, salient but with a dimple
mitigating its contour. He could see that she was surveying him from tip
to toe with the well-bred self-possession of her class, evidently mildly
astonished that he did not jump eagerly into such a picturesque village
as Upworthy. She said simply:

“There’s plenty of work for two, isn’t there, Dr. Pawley?”

Grimshaw laughed, although he answered seriously.

“That’s it. You see, there oughtn’t to be.”

At this her expression became interrogative. Pawley interposed hastily:

“Mr. Grimshaw thinks that the chronic sickness in Upworthy might be
wiped out, if—if he could count upon the active backing of authority.”

Cicely assimilated this.

“You mean Mother?”

Grimshaw added quickly:

“And you. Would you work with me on modern lines?”

“Modern lines? Are we modern, Dr. Pawley?”

Pawley glanced at her pretty frock.

“In our frocks, yes.”

Cicely accepted the compliment demurely, conscious of the fact that her
dressmaker was in the first flight, conscious, too, that Brian’s
wonderful friend, Old Grimmer, was indifferent, perhaps, to the envelope
but not to what it held. His penetrating glances had not escaped notice.
She wondered how much her powers of persuasion would count.

“You must talk to Mother, Mr. Grimshaw. She has the welfare of our
people next her heart. I hope you will stay here. As for me——”

“Yes?”

“I should like to work with you.”

He exclaimed gaily:

“Almost am I tempted. Well, I will talk with Lady Selina, the sooner the
better.”

“I wish you all luck.” She hesitated; a warmer tint suffused her cheeks,
as she added warningly: “Be—diplomatic.”

As the word left her lips, Stimson entered.

“Her ladyship’s compliments, Dr. Pawley, and she will join you in a
minute.” He turned to Cicely: “My lady wishes to see you, Miss Chandos.”

Cicely vanished with Stimson. Grimshaw said emphatically:

“What a jolly girl.”

Pawley chuckled.

“You’ve made an impression, my boy. Yes, yes; you’ll get on with Cicely
like one o’clock.”

“And be sacked by Lady Selina at half-past. By Jove! She’s a bit of a
witch, a fascinator. Where does the charm come from?”

“From her mother.”

Grimshaw looked incredulous. He had envisaged the lady of the manor as
formidable. He heard Pawley’s voice, slightly quavering with
apprehension.

“What are you going to say to Authority?”

“Something you have not said. It’s quite likely that her belated
entrance has been stage-managed. Lady Selina may wish to tackle me
alone. And, if so, take my tip—skedaddle before Authority uses you as a
Court of Appeal.”

Pawley owned up reluctantly:

“You read me. I want to bolt. I’m ashamed to admit that I have funked
plain speech all my life. But I’m hanged if I’ll funk it any longer.”

“Your heart’s in the right place,” said Grimshaw, almost with affection.
He had spent the morning with Pawley, pottering about the pretty,
insanitary cottages. And every minute had tightened the bond between
them, the bond that links strength with weakness, and age with youth.
That bond became tauter as Pawley murmured deprecatingly:

“My heart, I fancy, is not quite in the right place. Anyway, it doesn’t
do its work too well.”

Grimshaw became professional.

“Doesn’t it? You must let me go over you to-night. And, if you’ll back
me and Miss Chandos, I’m hanged if I’ll funk being your partner.”

“Thank you, my boy, thank you.” He added slyly: “I must thank little
Cicely, too.”

IV

Lady Selina swept in.

At once Grimshaw amended mistaken conceptions of her. He understood
swiftly that such a woman might inspire devotion in such a man as
Pawley. Graciousness, that priceless asset, shone luminously about her.
Conviction that she was exactly what she appeared to be, a lady of
quality, must—so Grimshaw decided—impose itself subtly upon everybody
coming in contact with her. At a distance one might criticise; in her
presence the homage she exacted with such sublime unconsciousness had to
be paid—tribute to Cæsar, whether copper or gold. The young man noted
the elegance of her gown, the delightful lines of draperies that
disdained fashion. He had expected formality, a cold courtesy, the more
chilling because good breeding imposed it. But Lady Selina advanced,
holding out two small hands.

“I am delighted to meet Old Grimmer.”

He said confusedly:

“Who is at your service.”

Presently they were seated. Grimshaw found himself close to Lady Selina,
so close that he could detect the faint fragrance of orris-root, the
only perfume she used.

“So you’re thinking of a partnership with my dear old friend here?”

Her soft voice, softer than her daughter’s, seemed to insinuate itself
into his mind, percolating here and there. Pawley answered her:

“Really, we have only just settled it.”

“Capital. And how do you like my dear village? Perhaps a foolish
question. If you didn’t like it, you wouldn’t choose to live here.”

Grimshaw recovered his self-possession. He spoke as tranquilly as his
hostess, but with renewed alertness.

“I spent yesterday afternoon and this morning wandering about Upworthy.”

“We are very proud of Upworthy. Our roses——! I have always encouraged
my people to grow sweet-smelling flowers.”

The young man recalled Cicely’s injunction. At the same time he told
himself that this first interview was all important. As an honest man,
he must make plain his position. To do so without giving offence became
a highly stimulating mental exercise.

“Botanically,” he replied, “Upworthy is remarkable. From a doctor’s
point of view, Lady Selina——”

“Yes? I am anxious to hear your verdict. I value nothing so much as
candour.”

“Thanks. There seems to be a lot of sickness.”

Lady Selina sighed. Her comely face assumed a resigned expression, as
she murmured devoutly:

“Alas! Poverty and disease are with us always.”

“Always, but not everywhere,” Grimshaw replied lightly. “Your neighbour,
Lord Wilverley, is proud of his exceptionally low death-rate, so I am
told.”

“Ah. Wilverley lies higher.”

“And enjoys a system of drainage.”

Lady Selina’s eyes sparkled. Lord Wilverley happened to be a personal
friend, and a magnate, comfortably independent because of London ground
rents, able to afford expensive improvements. Also he was a bachelor, on
the sunny side of forty. Nobody had guessed that Lady Selina cherished
the hope that Wilverley’s lord might come to Upworthy for a wife.
Already his friendship with Cicely had showed signs (to her eye alone)
of a warmer complexion. And yet, behind this rankled a certain jealousy,
because Wilverley had been acclaimed a model estate. She turned to
Pawley.

“We contend, don’t we, Dr. Pawley, that open drainage is best?”

“I have heard you say so, Lady Selina.”

“It is best for us doctors,” said Grimshaw. “I noticed that most of your
cottages are thatched.”

“We are very proud of our thatched cottages, aren’t we, Dr. Pawley?”

Pawley, with a touch of nervousness, squirming mentally, replied:

“Thatch upon thatch, Lady Selina, is hygienically unsound.”

She blinked at him, quite astounded. Grimshaw caught a sub-acid
inflection as she riposted swiftly:

“Is it? Why didn’t you say so before?” She looked at Grimshaw. “I’m
always approachable where the interests of my people are concerned. I
have never refused a favour to a tenant without giving him convincing
reasons. Have I, Dr. Pawley?”

“Never,” affirmed Pawley.

Grimshaw, sorry for Pawley but much amused, and not forgetting honest
John Gridley, said smoothly:

“Your land agent ought to have told you, Lady Selina. It was his
business.”

“But I am my own land agent. My bailiff is a capable fellow of the
farmer class. I can’t afford such an expert as Lord Wilverley employs.”
She continued gently: “Between ourselves, Mr. Grimshaw, lack of means
prevents my doing many desirable things. I ought to rebuild my garage,
which is perilously near my house. I ought to put in a local water
system. As for my bailiff, he obeys my orders. I don’t ask you to work
with him. I hope that you will work with me.”

She was getting the best of it, and knew it. Grimshaw acknowledged that
he was “touched,” as fencers put it.

“That is as it should be, Lady Selina. I think I can promise you a
cleaner bill of health if—if we work together.”

Unconsciously, he assumed a graver tone. Lady Selina eyed him pensively.
She told herself that she liked him. He was certainly a gentleman, and
as certainly a man of intelligence and capacity. A devastating thought
flooded her mind. Was he too attractive? Compared with Lord Wilverley,
for instance. Cicely had spoken of Old Grimmer with enthusiasm. And, as
Brian’s friend, as the partner of Pawley, her house must be open to him.
Young girls were susceptible, and it was impossible to play watch-dog in
this go-as-you-please twentieth century. Then, confident in her own
powers, she swept what she held to be an absurd possibility out of her
mind. Cicely was a Chandos. Meanwhile, she must “place” this up-to-date
young fellow more accurately. She continued sweetly:

“Have you any definite plan in your mind which might bring about this
clean bill of health?” He bowed. “What is it?”

“My plan would involve the expenditure of time——”

“I have never grudged that.”

“And—money.”

Slightly taken aback, she repeated the word:

“Money? Much money?”

“Probably some thousands of pounds.”

Lady Selina was horrified, throwing up her shapely hands in protest.
Habitually, she thought in pence, not in pounds. Her voice became sharp.

“Some _thousands_ of pounds——! What do you say to this amazing
statement, Dr. Pawley?”

Pawley, alive to a derisive gleam in Grimshaw’s eyes, replied hastily:

“Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

Lady Selina became more and more perturbed. Grimshaw saw that he had
made an impression. It might be discreet to retire, leaving his
suggestions to soak in.

“My plan may be unworkable, Lady Selina.”

“But it is. I can tell you, in confidence, that my dear husband left
this estate to me clear of all debt. I can’t borrow money. He would turn
in his grave if I did. _Thousands of pounds_——!”

Stimson saved an unendurable situation by appearing with the tea-things.
Pawley rose. Lady Selina recovered her graciousness.

“You must stay to tea. I insist.”

Cicely came back, carrying a bunch of roses, fresh from the garden.

“Is it settled?” she asked gaily. “Do you join us?”

Grimshaw smiled back at her.

“Yes; it is settled, Miss Chandos.”

“I’m ever so glad.”

V

The partners walked home together across the park, which was not of
large extent and held no deer. Henry Chandos had put down the deer.
Sheep browsed placidly upon the rich grasses. Bordering the park was a
shrubbery of rhododendrons, and through this meandered a path which
ended at a fine wrought-iron gate opening upon the village green. As
they passed through the rhododendrons, Grimshaw noticed that they had
reverted to type—the familiar _Ponticum_.

“Lady Selina has let things rip,” he remarked.

“There isn’t too much money, as perhaps you have guessed.”

“But she told us that the estate was clear of debt.”

“To keep it so is her mission in life. Well, what did you think of her?”

“Wonderful! There is no other adjective. I can understand that there has
been a conspiracy of silence to ‘spare’ her. Forgive me for saying that
I am sure you are the chief conspirator.”

“I admit it. Goodrich has a second place. To disturb her admirable peace
of mind seemed to us—sacrilege. You upset her, but she cottoned to
you.”

“I rattled her,” said Grimshaw. “What the effect will be I can’t
predict. Obviously, I’m in for a fight. And the odds are against me,
because her son is devoted to her. I am sure that in his place I should
feel as he does. But Miss Chandos——!”

“All women are unknown quantities.”

“To old bachelors.”

Pawley rubbed his bony fingers together.

“To all of us and to themselves. I make no prognosis about Cicely. The
mother can be diagnosed with greater confidence. Henry Chandos ran this
place prehistorically. Lady Selina strolls placidly in his ruts. If I
can read the barometer, now apparently at ‘Set Stormy,’ we are likely to
witness confounding changes.”

“Here?”

“Everywhere. A universal upheaval.”

“But—good heavens!—you don’t think war is coming?”

“I am quite sure of it. A fight between Democracy and Autocracy.”

“England will keep out of it.”

“She can’t.”

They argued without acerbity, as thousands argued during those early
days of July, 1914. But it never occurred to either that war, if it did
come, would affect them personally. Soldiers and sailors would do their
duty; civilians would carry on much as usual. No modern war could last
very long. Finally, as they neared home, Grimshaw said with a laugh:

“Whatever happens, I can’t see your Autocrat ‘downed.’”

“It would be a pathetic spectacle,” observed Pawley. “I have the
kindliest feelings toward her, but I detest her system.”

“You blame Gridley.”

“Ah! He’s the source of most of the mischief. And she doesn’t know it. I
hope with all my heart that you will ‘down’ him.”

“He may ‘down’ me,” said Grimshaw, thinking of Essex experiences, where
his poorer patients had been grievously maltreated by just such another.

“I back you, my boy.” Pawley pressed a strong arm reassuringly.

VI

Alone with her daughter, Lady Selina, so to speak, uncorked herself.
Suppressed feeling bubbled forth in sparkling ebullition. Cicely
secretly felt rather flattered. As a rule, her mother withheld
confidence concerned with money. Cicely, for example, had no idea of
what the family income might be. It seemed to be adequate without
pinching. She had been promised a season in London; she was given plenty
of frocks; her hunter had cost a hundred and fifty pounds; Brian never
complained of his allowance. But, unlike her mother, Cicely had learnt
at school elementary business principles. She knew girls of her own age
who paid cash for their clothes, and passed anxious hours over the
problems of adjusting means and ends. She had discovered that it was bad
business to buy cheap shoes and underclothing. And debt was a synonym
for misery and humiliation.

Accordingly, she agreed with her mother that Mr. Grimshaw’s price for a
clean bill of health was preposterous.

“I like the young man, my dear; I am glad to entertain him but not his
ideas. It’s so easy to be lavish with other people’s money. Thousands of
pounds——!”

She repeated this intermittently, as if repetition might exorcise an
unholy suggestion.

“What does Mr. Grimshaw want to do?” asked the girl.

“Heaven knows! A system of drainage, waterworks, the rebuilding of
cottages.”

“What Lord Wilverley has done.”

“A very rich man, child. And the best of good fellows—a very sincere
friend of yours, by the way.”

“Is he?”

Then meeting the maternal eye, the girl blushed a little, much to Lady
Selina’s satisfaction. Wisely she abandoned further soundings. Arthur
Wilverley could be trusted to do his own courting. So her thought sped
back to Grimshaw. Already she had adopted a policy. Grimshaw had to be
reckoned with. To treat him coldly, to keep him at a distance, simply
meant a disturbance of the peace. If she were really “nice” to him, he
would be disarmed. In small things he should have a free hand.
Ultimately he would work with her, along her lines, without friction. So
she said lightly:

“I must ask Mr. Grimshaw to dinner. I wonder whether he belongs to the
Grimthorpe Grimshaws.”

“Does it matter?”

Lady Selina smiled tolerantly. This was one of the less happy
consequences of sending a girl to school. She said superbly:

“A Chandos ought to be able to answer that question.”

Cicely remained silent. Her great friend at school had been Arabella
Tiddle, the daughter of the millionaire pill-manufacturer. Lady
Tiddle—so Lady Selina had been credibly informed—once worked in a shoe
factory. Sometimes Lady Selina wondered what it felt like to be a
Tiddle. She shied at the name, as Cicely was well aware. Nevertheless,
Arabella had been invited to the Manor, where she comported herself
triumphantly. A small string of beautiful pearls was graciously approved
by Arabella’s hostess; whereupon the girl said ingenuously: “So very
appropriate, aren’t they?” Lady Selina, not sure of this, asked
pleasantly: “Why, my dear?” Arabella replied with a laugh: “They are
just like Daddy’s pills. Of course you know that he advertises them as
‘Tiddle’s Pearls.’” Lady Selina didn’t know this, but she smiled
amiably, and Arabella continued: “Mummy has ropes of them. _Tiddle’s
Priceless Pearls!_ Funny, isn’t it?” Lady Selina smiled again; a
different adjective occurred to her.

Cicely’s silence slightly exasperated her. Confidence ought to beget
confidence. Now that she was beginning to treat her daughter as “grown
up,” surely she might expect more response. Had Cicely learnt to hold
her tongue at school? The right selection of a school had worried Lady
Selina not a little. Dr. Pawley shared her anxieties. At thirteen Cicely
became rather anæmic, almost scraggy! Bracing air was prescribed;
reinvigorating games; the stimulus of competition in work and play.
After studying innumerable prospectuses, Lady Selina chose a big school
on the South Coast, a sort of Eton in petticoats. And there the child
had grown into a strong young woman. But, undoubtedly, she had lost
something vaguely described by Lady Selina as “bloom.” Attrition with
girls without grandfathers had rubbed it off. Miss Tiddle had no “bloom”
except upon her cheeks. The political tendencies of the school were
lamentably democratic.

She continued blandly, ignoring Cicely’s silence, taking for granted
that it meant nothing:

“I daresay Mr. Grimshaw plays tennis.”

“Fancy your not knowing——!”

“What?”

“He’s top hole at games. After leaving Winchester he played cricket for
his county. I’d bet sixpence that he plays tennis better than anyone
about here. He’s an athlete all over. He won’t play pat-ball with me. No
such luck!”

Lady Selina, after a penetrating glance at her daughter’s face, thought
to herself: “I shall see that he doesn’t.” Then she kissed Cicely and
laughed.

“We must be decently civil, my dear. That’s all.”

With that she went her way, not without misgivings. Why was it easier
for her to understand her son rather than her daughter? Brian, she felt
sure, would see eye to eye with his mother—a Chandos every inch of him.
But Cicely baffled her. Had she made a hero of this young surgeon? Did
she reckon breeding of no account? Still, her blush at mention of
Wilverley’s name was reassuring. Later, at Evensong, during a dull
sermon, she beguiled herself happily with a vision of Cicely and
Wilverley kneeling on the chancel steps, with the lawn sleeves of a
bishop raised above them in solemn benediction. She prayed fervently
that it might be so. And Cicely, at the same moment, sitting demurely by
her august mother, was wondering what sort of a woman Henry Grimshaw
would marry. Did his fancy prefer blondes to brunettes? Was he engaged
already? What deft fingers he had. Hardly had she felt the touch of them
on her lower eyelid. But she had thrilled. The fact provoked her. She
decided finally that he was the nicest young man she had ever met.

Perhaps it was as well for Lady Selina’s admirable peace of mind, not to
mention her robust Anglican piety and faith in what was established,
that she could not read Cicely as she read her son.

Grimshaw went back to London to pack up his traps, and on the following
Tuesday dined with his maternal uncle, Sir Dion Titherage, at the
Parthenon. Sir Dion, lately raised to the dignity of knighthood, with an
excellent practice in Belgravia, chiefly amongst elderly ladies, had
paid—as has been said—for his nephew’s schooling, and regarded the
young man with a paternal eye. Long ago Sir Dion had led to the altar of
St. Paul’s, Knightsbridge, one of his well-to-do patients, much older
than himself. There had been no children. Lady Titherage was now a
confirmed hypochondriac, but likely to make old bones, thanks to the
ministering care and skill of that optimist, her husband.

A small table at the farther end of the immense dining-room had been
reserved for Sir Dion and his guest. Through a big window a glimpse
could be obtained of lawn and trees, and, beyond, the façade of a famous
terrace. Dining at such a table, a member of the learned professions
could reflect pleasantly upon the fact that the privileged occupiers of
that terrace must each possess, on a reasonable average, at least twenty
thousand a year. But few members of the Parthenon dined at their club.
Here and there, oases in the desert, were bishops, who contented
themselves with simple fare. Sir Dion pointed out these pillars of the
Establishment, a Royal Academician, a hanging judge, an eminent
architect, and the club bore, who dined at the Parthenon nearly every
night, and kept sensitive and retiring members at bay. Sir Dion said,
with a chuckle:

“I don’t dare dine here without a guest, my boy; and even then he yaps
at me—he yaps at me. Really, it’s a sad breach of our unwritten rules.
This is recognised as a Temple of Silence and Snooze. Conversation is
very properly barred.”

Grimshaw laughed. His uncle amused him. Sir Dion continued:

“We only wake up at the club elections in the drawing-room. A lot of
pilling goes on. I asked one old boy to pill a particularly aggressive
candidate, and he said curtly: ‘Why?’ I replied, ‘Because he’s a
cantankerous, unclubbable ass.’ The old boy scowled at me and said
savagely: ‘I’m a cantankerous, unclubbable ass, and I shall vote for
him.’ _And he did!_”

A carefully chosen dinner was provided, admirably cooked. Sir Dion,
after the ice, took a Corona de Corona cigar from his ample case, and
sent it to the chef with his compliments and thanks. And he exchanged a
joke with the steward when he settled his bill before leaving the
dining-room.

Not till he had finished his coffee did Sir Dion speak seriously.

“So it’s the parish pump for you, eh?”

“With the pump out of order.”

Sir Dion nodded. Then he said, portentously for him:

“You are your father’s son. He tilted against windmills all his life,
poor dear fellow! As a schoolmaster he would have climbed high and ended
as a bishop. I used to offer him sound advice, although, to do him
justice, he never asked for it or took it. Now I am tempted to say a
word or two to you.”

“Thank you, Uncle.”

“From what you tell me you seem to like trouble. I don’t. That, of
course, is the essential difference between us. However, your partner,
Pawley, seems to have a good practice amongst country people. And, when
he retires, you ought to earn a decent income.”

“I hope so.”

“A good country practice is not to be sneezed at, but you will sneeze at
it, I’m afraid. I see you trying to drain that snipe-bog you mention
instead of keeping step on the high-road with Pawley.”

“I shall fight for more sanitary conditions.”

“Stripped already, I see. And up against a lady of quality! Now for my
two words: ‘Go slow!’ Women never surrender their opinions to men they
dislike. It’s a pity you can’t marry her and reach your objectives that
way. What? Fifty-five! And a marriageable daughter! Another tip. Don’t
make up to the daughter. Unless——” He chuckled, lighting a fresh
cigar.

“Unless——?”

“I remember some transpontine story of a stout fellow like you who
courted a rich widow with a pretty daughter. The rich widow accused the
stout fellow of loving her money-bags more than herself. He made a very
creditable bluff. Told her to deed every dollar she possessed to her
daughter. And, begad! she called the bluff and did so. Then he bolted
with the daughter!”

The evening ended where it began—in laughter.

On the steps of the Parthenon, when the nephew thanked the uncle for his
entertainment, Sir Dion shook his hand very heartily.

“I wish you luck, my boy. If you get any of that rough shooting, send me
a bird. I like the flavour of a wild pheasant. God bless you!”

Grimshaw, as he went back to his modest diggings, reflected that Sir
Dion’s ways were not his, and yet the old fellow brimmed over with
kindness, and assuredly attained his objectives.

II

By the middle of July he was installed in rooms in Upworthy under the
fostering care of the Rockrams, two old servants from the Manor. Tom
Rockram had been Stimson’s predecessor, before the old Squire died, and
his wife had soared from scullery-maid to cook in the same
establishment. Their cottage faced the village green, and stood in its
own garden. Each spring and summer the Rockrams took in boarders, but,
at a hint from Dr. Pawley, they were glad to get a permanent
“gentleman.” Grimshaw was given a good bedroom and sitting-room, and he
had the use of Pawley’s dispensary.

Upon the faces of the two old servants were inscribed, with full
quarterings, the Chandos arms. Whatever a Chandos did was just right.
Brian, of course, in the judgment of Mrs. Rockram, was the handsomest
hussar in the kingdom; Tom Rockram spoke with even greater enthusiasm of
Cicely as the sweetest young lady in the world. Too sugary, perhaps,
these descriptions, from a hypercritical point of view, but indicating
loyalty and gratitude, qualities rare indeed in modern servants.
Grimshaw found himself valeted to perfection, and looked forward to
excellently cooked meals, a quite novel experience. The cosiness of it
all was in delightful contrast to domestic conditions in Poplar. He
wondered whether he would grow fat, like the weed on Lethe’s wharf, and
slowly rot at ease. For the first time in his life he began to spell
comfort with a capital “C.” To Pawley and Lady Selina he said
emphatically: “I never had such a billet.” To himself, he thought, with
amused apprehension: “Will this cosseting get a strangle-hold on me?”
And if it did, what of it? Good men and true toiled and moiled,
struggling on against adverse winds and currents, to achieve just such
snug anchorage.

Pawley introduced him to some of the local magnates, who smiled
graciously upon an old Wykhamist. Each day it became more certain to the
young man that a prosperous future was his if he played the cards
already in his hand. Sir Dion had been right. A sound country practice
was not to be sneezed at. And the premium paid to Pawley had been
negligible. In fine, he was treading a broad highway, walking briskly
towards fortune, if not fame. Pawley suggested that on occasion he might
ride.

“Would your means justify keeping a horse?” he asked.

“Do you mean a hunter? The doctor in boots?”

“Well, yes. A cavalier, you know, challenges attention. One day a week
in the season might be worth while from every point of view.”

Grimshaw laughed.

“And how about my research work?”

“As to that——! You see, my dear fellow, I hesitate to advise you. The
horse is a suggestion, nothing more. Long ago I gave up hunting. I’ve
regretted it. As for research work, doesn’t it exact too undivided
energies? I had to scrap my microscope before I put down my hunter.
Think it over.”

Grimshaw nodded. But he hardly dared to confess to himself how keen he
was to take up again open-air sports and pastimes. His first appearance
on the village green, as a cricketer, had been acclaimed by all
Upworthy. Lady Selina said solemnly: “Perhaps we shall beat Wilverley
next year.”

Playing cricket, he met John Exton, and exchanged some talk with him. In
Poplar it was impossible to throw a stone without hitting young men of
John’s kidney. They, however, threw the stones in Poplar quite
regardless of whom they might hit. Grimshaw knew that the Extons were
under notice to quit the old homestead; and he knew also that Lady
Selina had persuaded Lord Wilverley to entrust a small farm to Ephraim.
This had soaped the ways by which the Extons slid from one parish into
another. John was very bitter about it.

“We’ve never had a dog’s chance,” he told Grimshaw. “I don’t say, sir,
that Father was wise to buy thoroughbred stock when he hadn’t proper
buildings to house ’em in, but the old Squire egged him on to do it.
Things were a sight better in his time, because he kept the whip-hand of
Gridley. Now, Gridley does pretty much as he pleases, and my lady don’t
know what goes on behind her back. Gridley sees to it that she ain’t
bothered.”

“You’re up against a system,” said Grimshaw. “It’s no use blaming
individuals.”

“I blame my lady,” John replied doggedly.

He was not the only one in Upworthy who held that individual
responsible.

Nick Farleigh, the softy, did odd jobs for Tom Rockram, pumping water,
fetching and carrying like a retriever, blacking boots, and feeding
poultry. In common with many children of undeveloped minds, he had
strange gifts, fashioning queer objects out of unconsidered trifles.
Grimshaw won his devotion by showing him how to make a Chinese junk out
of a square of newspaper.

Nick said gratefully:

“I bain’t afeard of ’ee, zur.”

“Why should you be afraid of anybody, my boy?”

Nick became confidential.

“I be afeard o’ nothink ’cept they broody hens o’ Mrs. Rockram’s. You
know I be soft, zur, don’t ’ee?”

“Nonsense! We shall make a man of you yet, Nick.”

Nick considered this, with his head on one side. Then he whispered:

“I be soft along o’ my lady.”

Grimshaw asked Pawley to explain. With some reluctance, Pawley repeated
what he had said to Cicely, with these additions:

“Nick’s mother, just before he was born, lost her two little girls of
diphtheria. The boy was born wanting. Timothy Farleigh has never got
over it. Lady Selina had just buried the Squire. In your opinion,
Grimshaw, could mental suffering so affect and afflict an unborn child?”

“It might,” Grimshaw replied.

“Ever since Timothy Farleigh has smouldered with resentment.”

Grimshaw nodded. He had heard about Agatha Farleigh from John Exton.
Agatha was now working in London, earning good wages, but Timothy, at
the ale-house, accused Lady Selina of hounding a clever girl out of her
village.

“I smell foul weather,” said Grimshaw.

Within a week the Great War had broken out.

Upworthy remained perfectly calm.

Brian Chandos came home on short leave. His regiment would be one of the
first to go. He smoked many pipes with Grimshaw, picking up the old
friendship easily, just where he had left it, apparently the same
ingenuous youth whom Grimshaw remembered at Winchester. Really a Pacific
of essential differences rolled between them, differences of experience.
Grimshaw listened to Brian on the coming “show.” As a soldier he seemed
to know something about his “job.” As the prospective heir to a fine
property his ignorance was immeasurable. He viewed it, as it were, from
the wrong end of the telescope. What appeared big to him—the future of
foxhunting, for instance, game-preserving, and polo—was negligible to
Grimshaw in comparison with decent housing and a better wage for
land-workers. Brian cut him short when, tentatively, such reforms were
barely outlined:

“Cottages in the rural districts don’t pay, never did. We can’t raise
wages without hostilising the farmers—and I ask you, where are we if we
do that?” Again and again he silenced argument in Grimshaw by repeating
filially: “Mother knows; you talk to her; she’d do anything in reason,
anything.”

And at the first dinner at the Manor, rather to Grimshaw’s dismay, Brian
said, in a loud voice, as if it were a good joke: “I say, Mums, Old
Grimmer is a bit of a Rad. You must take him in hand. He’s an
out-and-out reformer.”

Cicely didn’t improve matters by adding:

“And a jolly good thing too. Dr. Pawley says we are antediluvians.”

Pawley was not present, having departed on his holiday. Lady Selina
looked down her nose.

“Are you quite sure Dr. Pawley said that, my dear?”

“Absolutely,” Cicely replied. “We are only modern in our frocks; and
that doesn’t apply to you, Mums.”

Unfortunately for Grimshaw, Lord Wilverley happened to be present. He,
at any rate, was recognised outside of his own county as an enlightened
and experienced agriculturist. And being a kindly man, secure in a great
position, he came to Grimshaw’s rescue. Lady Selina found herself
listening to the opinions of a magnate, who might be a son-in-law. And
the odds against such a desirable match diminished when she saw Cicely
eagerly assimilating what Wilverley said. And, of course, Wilverley
being Wilverley, could say what he pleased. Grimshaw realised, with
humorous dismay, that he was cast for the part of scapegoat. On his head
would fall the hardly-concealed resentment of the lady of the manor.

After dinner matters became worse. Brian wanted to talk to Wilverley
about horse-breeding. Lady Selina took up her embroidery. Cicely made
herself agreeable to Grimshaw, instead of improving the shining hour
with the best parti in the neighbourhood. And Grimshaw, grateful to a
charming girl, exerted himself to please and entertain. It seemed to be
predestined that he would gain in favour with the daughter what he might
lose with the mother. And who will blame him if he strove to distinguish
himself with the former after some extinguishment at the hands of the
latter? He could talk much better than Wilverley, and he knew it.
Wilverley spoke didactically. Grimshaw had a more graceful seat astride
his hobby-horse. He excelled in description, transporting Cicely to
Essex and Poplar, into the deep clay ruts of the one and the mean
streets of the other. Cicely could not help contrasting the two men, the
fidgety irritability of Wilverley with the easy good-humour of Grimshaw,
who laughed at his own failures. Wilverley grew red and heated in
argument; Grimshaw became pale and cool.

Nevertheless, there was a curious incandescence about him. Under
ordinary atmospheric pressure he might seem dull, sinking into odd
silences and introspections, but when a right vacuum was obtained, such
a vacuum as a charming young lady might present, an inquiring mind, let
us say, empty of essential facts, he glowed, giving out heat and light,
not a blazing, eye-blinking glare, but something softly and steadily
illuminating.

“I’ve had some humiliating experiences, Miss Chandos. Till you live and
work amongst the very poor, you can’t realise how difficult it is to
understand them, and how much more difficult it is for them to
understand us. Millions have never seen a woman like you. They live like
animals; they are animals; and, of course, that’s our fault.”

“Our fault?” she gasped. But she was the more interested because he had
made his theme personal.

“Oh, yes; we don’t give enough; and now, because of that, they, poor
things, at the mercy of any glib, red-rag revolutionary, want to take
too much. The privileged classes have never really exercised their
greatest privilege.”

“And what is that, Mr. Grimshaw?” she asked in a low voice.

“Why, helping others to help themselves. Ordinary charity only hinders.
Wage earners demand more than _panem et circenses_.”

“I don’t know what that means.”

“Bread and ‘movies.’ They don’t like dry bread; and the ‘movies’ serve
to fill them with envy for all they haven’t got.” Then, in a different
tone, with a queer astringent cynicism, he added: “I didn’t exercise my
privileges.”

“I’m sure you did,” she affirmed with conviction.

“No—I bolted. I couldn’t stick it. My own impotence maddened me.
Perhaps——” His voice died away. He began again: “It’s not what we do
that counts, but the way we do it. Talking to them is waste of time.
Words! Words! How one hates them after a time! I’ve waded through all
the dreary stuff that’s written about the poor. Most of it makes one
sick. I don’t believe that conditions can be bettered anywhere by talk,
not even when the talk is buried in the Statute Book. Something more is
needed. Some—some tremendous discipline that will change the point of
view of the classes and the masses so that they can see each other in
truer perspective. Do the waves wonder why they batter themselves into
spray against the rocks? But there is attrition all the time. Tremendous
forces win in the end.”

“Do you mean that we are the rocks?”

“We stand on the rocks, blandly looking at the waves, impressed by their
fury, but not attempting to control it and use it. Perhaps the biggest
rock on which we stand is class loyalty. I’m sure your mother prides
herself on that.”

“Of course she does.”

“Have you ever tried to analyse class loyalty?”

“No.”

“Self-preservation is behind and beneath it. At core lies a selfish,
primitive instinct—to hold on tight to what we have regardless of how
we came by it. Above this is a reticulation, a spider’s web, of
inherited prejudices and predilections, so tangled up that one despairs
of untangling them. On the surface, like a soft moss, love of ease
spreads itself. I feel that here in all my bones. I try to fight against
it. The lure of comfort——! What a bait——! Satan’s tit-bit——!”

His vehemence, the more insistent because he spoke so quietly, almost in
a whisper, made a profound impression. She had never heard any man talk
like this. The abysmal conviction in his tone amazed her. Wilverley, as
she knew, preached in and out of season a doctrine of reconstruction and
reform. But he did it with the air of a man who was grinding his own
axe, putting a finer edge upon a weapon which he intended to use to
better his own large fortune. He never lost sight of the fact that what
he did on his domains _paid_, brought grist to his mill. All his
excellent schemes for housing labourers comfortably, for paying them a
higher wage, for nourishing them adequately, for developing in them
capacities and potentialities, were really inspired by the force which
had raised his father from the lower middle class to the nobility.
Obviously, Grimshaw was actuated by no such essentially selfish motive.
He thought of others before himself; he seemed to behold a travailing
world with the detachment of a physician pledged, if need be, to
sacrifice his own comfort and advancement in the practice of his hard
profession. She said hesitatingly, groping her way towards his
conclusions:

“Surely, Mr. Grimshaw, there is something finer than that in what you
call class loyalty?”

“All loyalty is fine,” he replied, “but there can be no monopoly of it.
Do you think that the unprivileged classes do not feel it in a blind
sort of way? Of course they do. And that loyalty is a driving power
which the more unscrupulous of their mis-leaders are harnessing to their
own ambitions. Class loyalty, wherever you find it, is undiluted
Prussianism.”

She laughed a little.

“Is my mother a Prussian?” she asked mischievously.

“Your mother,” he replied less tensely, with a glance at that lady as
she bent over her embroidery, “is—is——”

“Covered with soft moss?” she suggested.

“We are all covered with moss, Miss Chandos. And, I suppose, the moss
must be raked off before we can see with clear vision.”

“You are raking some of it off me. I told you I wanted to work with you.
I do—more than ever, but you mustn’t rake at Mother. Perhaps you
noticed that Lord Wilverley tried raking at dinner.” He nodded. “Oh, you
did. Of course, she has to stand it from him.”

“Lord Wilverley, I noticed, made an impression on you.”

His eyes met hers. She noticed a twinkle in them. All tension had gone
from his pleasant voice.

“I like what he does more than I like what he says. He tries to spur
people to his ideas. You can’t spur Mother.”

“No.”

“I am glad that you are more—a—persuasive in your methods.”

“Am I?”

She smiled, nodding her head. He wondered whether there was a tincture
of the coquette in her. In criticising Wilverley was she trying to hide
her real feelings for him? He had not answered the question when
Wilverley left Brian and approached the pair on the sofa. Grimshaw made
sure he wanted to talk to Cicely, and rose at once. To his surprise,
Wilverley said without any condescension:

“I’m looking forward to making your better acquaintance, Mr. Grimshaw.
If you have no other engagement, will you dine and sleep at the Court
some day that suits you next week?”

“With great pleasure.”

A day was named, and shortly afterwards Wilverley took his leave.
Grimshaw left the Manor a few minutes later. Alone with her children,
Lady Selina said with a sigh:

“Dear me! It wasn’t a very pleasant dinner, was it?”

“I enjoyed myself,” said Cicely.

“Yes, b’Jove! We saw that, didn’t we, Mums? And the little baggage sided
against us. But we held our own—we held our own.”

Lady Selina smiled maternally, catching an echo of Brian’s father.
Cicely replied sharply:

“If you hold on too tight to what you think is your own, you may lose
it, if democracy wins this war.”

“Hark to her!” exclaimed Brian. “What a cry!”

Cicely, however, saw the expediency of running mute. She kissed her
mother and brother and went to bed. Lady Selina turned troubled eyes
upon her son.

“Have I made a mistake in being civil to this friend of yours, Brian?”

Brian hastened to reassure her: Old Grimmer was a thundering good sort.
And a mighty clever fellow, not likely to quarrel with his
bread-and-butter. Civility would tie him to his mother’s apron-strings.
Nothing like it. Ask him to shoot! Introduce him to all the swells! But
keep an eye peeled on Cis. Modern girls kicked over the traces. Arthur
Wilverley meant business. Any fool could see that. Grimshaw was a
gentleman. He wouldn’t attempt to poach in another fellow’s preserves.
All the same, make him feel the weight of obligation. Be civil, be
kind—keep it up!

Lady Selina was not quite comforted.

“Your Old Grimmer is very attractive. And, to-night, it seemed to me
that poor dear Arthur was rather eclipsed. Sometimes, Brian, I feel
discouraged, and then I want support. I can’t argue with Arthur, for
instance. He overwhelms me with words—words. And then, like your
father, I say nothing. But it comforts me greatly to feel that you think
as I do, that the old ways suffice you.”

“Ra-ther!”

“You are my dear son.”

She held his hand, gently caressing it, gazing at him with tears in her
eyes, which he pretended not to see. Thousands of mothers throughout the
land were indulging in these furtive caresses, saying little because
they feared to say too much. Thousands of sons respected such pathetic
silences.

Before Grimshaw’s brief visit to Wilverley Court, an incident took
place, trivial in itself, but fraught with far-reaching consequences.
The faithful Mrs. Rockram fell ill, taking to her bed with a neglected
cold likely to develop into pleurisy and pneumonia. Grimshaw, however,
came to the rescue and—as Mrs. Rockram affirms to this day—saved her
life. For twenty-four hours grave issues impended above a high
temperature and severe pain. Cicely was in and out of the cottage half a
dozen times, bringing what was required from the Manor kitchen, and
ministering eagerly to an old friend. Lady Selina, wisely or
otherwisely, made no protest. She must have known that two highly-strung
young people would be thrown together. But, at the moment, every young
woman in the kingdom had become a potential nurse. And also, as luck
would have it, no professional nurse could take Cicely’s place. And Mrs.
Rockram had served the Chandos family for five-and-twenty years . . .!

Man and maid, therefore, beheld each other with clear vision under the
happiest conditions of a temporary and unconventional intimacy. They
glided into comradeship, not recking where it might carry them. The
current bore them out of a prosaic present into a land of dreams, the
shadowy future where we fondly believe that we shall be more abundantly
blessed. Both were unaware of the interest and curiosity that each
kindled in the other, because, with all sincerity, they were engrossed
in a common task which exacted unceasing vigilance. Even Grimshaw, with
his habit of introspection and analysis, would have ridiculed the
suggestion of sentimental attraction between himself and Cicely. He knew
better than his amateur nurse how acute was the condition of his
patient, a stout, lymphatic woman, with but slight powers of resistance
to disease. And Cicely, for her part, could have sworn truthfully that
the mere sight of Grimshaw’s tense face, the mere sound of his incisive
voice, had frightened her out of her wits, constraining her to
uncompromising obedience and attention. For the first time she saw a man
fighting desperately to save the life of another. The only thing that
seemed to matter was to help him to the best of her ability.

Had she contented herself with that, no consequences would have ensued.
But she divined instantly that Grimshaw, unsparing of himself, needed
her special attention. Dr. Pawley’s cook was taking a holiday like her
master. The food at The Chandos Arms was primitive. And it did not occur
to Lady Selina to ask Grimshaw to stay at the Manor. Brian had rejoined
his regiment. Cicely rose triumphantly to a small emergency. Grimshaw
found cold ham on his sideboard, some delicious sandwiches and hot soup.
He gobbled these up without hazarding any conjecture as to whence they
came. Tom Rockram, however, enlightened him. The honest fellow had some
of the ham for his own dinner.

“You can thank my young lady,” he told him.

“Good heavens!” exclaimed Grimshaw, “I haven’t.”

His thanks, perhaps, were heartier because belated.

The crisis passed swiftly; and Grimshaw had other patients. But Cicely
stuck to her post till Mrs. Rockram was pronounced well able to fend for
herself. By that time Cupid had sped his shafts. The victims, as yet,
felt no smart, but each magnified the other, disdaining measurements.
Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa, twin peaks, soaring into the blue!

The intimacy ended as suddenly as it had begun. Grimshaw took leave of
his comrade with unaffected regret and slightly awkward apologies.

“I’m afraid I ordered you about, Miss Chandos.”

“Oh, you did. But I liked that. _Obedience is necessary to success._
That line is engraved on my heart. I used to write it out thousands of
times when I first went to school.”

“Did you? There’s a touch of the rebel in you.”

“Yes; there is. I used to spell ‘necessary’ with one ‘s’ on purpose to
annoy the mistress who set the pun. Such a silly pun too. Vain
repetitions!”

“Exasperating everywhere.”

“Particularly in church, from the mouth of dear old Goody.”

“You _are_ a rebel. And so am I.”

“Of course I know that.” Her eyes met his frankly, with an odd
challenge. Against his discreeter judgment he felt impelled to take up
that challenge.

“Do you still want to work with a rebel?”

She eyed him with self-possession, faintly smiling. But she was thinking
how difficult it would be to describe him adequately in a letter to Miss
Arabella Tiddle. By now she was able to view him in perspective,
ripening to full maturity. Immense possibilities were indicated, she
decided. Would he expand into a splendid _somebody_? Would he “furnish
up”?—to use Brian’s favourite expression about a four-year-old. Dr.
Pawley had said of him: “He rings true,” with an allusion to the
eighteenth-century wine-glasses which he collected. And, after that
happy comparison, she had never heard Grimshaw speak without noting the
lingering resonance of his tones. Head and body were admirably
proportioned, rich in line and contour, but not aggressively so. The
careless eye would wander past him. He was, admittedly, too thin, too
pale, to please the ordinary bouncing country miss; and yet he had the
colour of a fine black-and-white print.

She answered his question charmingly:

“If you still want to work with me.”

“I do—I do. But how to go to work bothers me. You see, I am not—I fear
I never can be—diplomatic.”

All traces of the doctor had vanished. He stood before her, clothed with
an endearing humility and humanity. Cicely might, at her age, be deemed
incapable of thus summing up a passing phase in a man who attracted her,
but she grasped the essential fact: he loathed to inflict pain on
others. His mission in life was obviously to alleviate suffering. Her
first thought was: “How wisely he has chosen his profession!” She said
softly:

“I think I understand and sympathise. But my Mother——?”

She broke off abruptly, unable, perhaps unwilling, to give words to
sensibilities still inarticulate. Very eagerly he took up the broken
sentence.

“But I understand too. And just because she is your mother,” he placed,
unconsciously, the slightest emphasis on the personal pronoun, “I feel
so much the more bothered.”

“Please don’t bother too much!”

She held out her hand and went her way.

III

The visit to Wilverley, postponed on account of Mrs. Rockram’s illness,
duly took place. By this time Grimshaw was unable to disguise from
himself that Cicely had become The Woman. Without being squeamishly
modest, he could not believe that he was regarded by the maid as “The
Man.” A romantic situation might be heightened, if it could be recorded
that Cicely was The First Woman. She was nothing of the kind. But to a
man of imaginative temperament The First Woman is reincarnated in her
successors. The ideal survives. The elusive She approaches, beguiles,
and vanishes. Nevertheless, somewhere, some day, she may reappear and be
captured. A counterfeit presentment of Cicely had jilted Grimshaw rather
cruelly just before he buried himself in Essex. Babbington-Raikes, sound
psychologist, may have reflected that Champions of the Poor and
Oppressed are fashioned more easily out of men whose personal ambitions
have suffered eclipse. The gentlemen of the Lost Legion are the finest
fighters in the world.

Memories of the jilt still rankled. Like Cicely, she had shone brightly
as a young lady of quality, a brilliant of many facets. Shamelessly
breaking her engagement, she had married a rubber potentate who had
found a fortune and lost a liver in the Malay Peninsula. “O my cousin,
shallow-hearted! O my Amy, mine no more!” Now, he could thank God that
she was not his, and laugh derisively at his infatuation for her. But
how she had bewitched him!

His host at Wilverley welcomed Grimshaw with cordiality, and showed him
the model estate of the county, discussing eagerly plans for its further
improvement.

“And it pays, it pays,” he repeated several times. “You can take a
squint at my books if you like.”

“I’m sure it pays,” Grimshaw replied.

Wilverley’s father had been an ironmaster, who had bought an
impoverished property and was frowned on at first as a carpet-bagger by
the county families. They eyed him more favourably after Gladstone
ennobled him, and smiled approval when he became a Liberal-Unionist. As
a man of great executive ability he had applied business methods to
agriculture, scrapping obsolete machinery and buildings. His son—so
Grimshaw decided—seemed to have inherited his father’s business
aptitudes without his disabilities. Wilverley waxed confidential after
dinner.

“My father had a rotten digestion: bad grub when he was a kid. I can
digest anything—anything. The main trouble in the rural districts is
insufficient food, vilely cooked and poor in quality. I see to it that
my people are fed as well as my horses. Food and shelter, there you have
it in tabloid form. No able-bodied young men emigrate from here.”

Grimshaw listened, impressed by his host’s energy and cocksureness.
Obviously, this was a man who got what he wanted, because he wanted it
with a restless passion for achievement that couldn’t be denied. But the
professional eye, noting a heightened colour after meals, began to doubt
the assumption that Lord Wilverley could digest anything.

A luscious opulence characterised the immense house throughout, a
Victorian splendour of brocade, gilt cornices, mirrors, French polish,
and Axminster carpets. In effective contrast, Wilverley wore shabby
tweeds, and might have been mistaken by a short-sighted stranger for one
of his own less prosperous tenants. The amount of work he accomplished
in twenty-four hours amazed Grimshaw, who knew what hard work was. How
much time would be left to cherish a wife?

Wilverley spoke with entire frankness about the Chandos family.

“The good old sort, but reactionary; always have been. The prettiest
place in the country run abominably to seed. You have your work cut out
there. Pawley, I take it, will soon retire . . . _and then_ . . .?”

He stared fixedly at Grimshaw.

“I may retire first,” said Grimshaw.

“Then I’m mistaken in my man,” declared Wilverley, almost explosively.

“I know when I’m beaten, Lord Wilverley.” He added quietly: “But I
shan’t throw up the sponge yet. Miss Chandos is not reactionary.”

“Miss Chandos?” Wilverley frowned slightly. “Hardly out!”

“She counts.”

“Miss Chandos will marry. And, if I know her, she would never run
counter to her mother. Don’t make trouble between them, I beg you. She
sided with us the other evening merely out of a girlish desire to ginger
up a rather dull dinner.”

Grimshaw remained silent, and Wilverley began to talk about the war,
which, in his opinion, couldn’t last long, K. of K. to the contrary.
Soldiers were rank pessimists. Business interests would be paramount.
Civilisation wouldn’t tolerate the dislocation of industry . . . and so
forth.

Next morning Grimshaw left early, after promising to come again. He had
liked his host, reckoning him, quite rightly, to be an honest man and a
capable. He recalled a platitude often on the lips of his father: “We
are sent into this world to better it.” According to this gauge,
Wilverley had “made good.” And a wife, with a sense of humour, would
round off his corners, trim his quills, and conciliate his unfriends.
But probably she would give even more than she would get.

He reflected, not without bitterness, upon what Cicely Chandos would get
if she took Wilverley.

IV

During the epoch-making weeks that followed he saw little of her, being
engrossed by his work. After the battle of the Marne, Wilverley Court
was turned into a Red Cross Hospital, and Cicely enrolled herself as a
V.A.D. Brian, by this time, was in France, having survived the retreat
from Mons. Pawley had come back, much the better for a long holiday. He
congratulated his partner with almost paternal effusion:

“They all like you, my boy. Gentle and simple——!”

“The simple are not as simple as they appear,” said Grimshaw.

“Ah! You have been talking to them, eh? Any—complaints?”

“Nothing verbal. They say what they think I wish them to say. I get most
of my information from the kiddies. They give the Chandos dynasty dead
away.”

Pawley made a deprecating gesture.

“I know—I know. But what can one do?”

Grimshaw answered grimly:

“Waking, and sometimes in my dreams, that question worries me
confoundedly. I’m at the cross-roads. For the moment, I suppose, I must
mark time. Dash it!” he continued, with rare irritability, “how can I
pester Lady Selina with my pet schemes when she is absorbed with anxiety
about her son?” Had he been absolutely truthful, he would have added:
“And how can I run the risk of hostilising the mother of the girl I
love?”

“Yes, yes; God help all these poor mothers.”

For a season the nettle was dropped, to be grasped firmly later on.

To make matters more difficult for a perplexed and unhappy man in love
with a young woman apparently predestined to be the bride of another,
Lady Selina had followed her son’s advice, and was being consistently
civil and kind, a much easier task than she had anticipated inasmuch as
Cicely was absent from home. Grimshaw enjoyed some rough shooting, and
found so many snipe in the bog behind the village that he reconsidered
the propriety of draining it. Tired by his day’s work, snug in a big
arm-chair, he was sorely tempted to let things drift. But every morning,
after his cold tub, fighting instincts reasserted themselves. The
gorgeous possibility of capturing mother and daughter rose with the sun
and illumined his heaven. Two birds to one shot—a notable right and
left! Meanwhile Mrs. Rockram had become his devoted slave. To talk to
Mrs. Rockram about Cicely would be indiscreet; to listen to her chatter
on the same fascinating subject was another matter. Indeed, what news he
got of Cicely generally filtered through this loyal old retainer. From
her he learned that Wilverley had left the Court and was living with his
agent. The big house was handed over to my lord’s married sister,
apparently a formidable person, bristling, like her brother, with
restless activities. Cicely, it seemed, went to bed each night nearly
foundered!

“I ain’t one to gossip,” remarked Mrs. Rockram as November drew to a
close. “I’ve never done it, never!”

“Oh, Mrs. Rockram! What a difference between us! I love a bit of gossip.
What is gossip? A kindly indication of interest in the affairs of
others.”

“Well, sir, that’s as may be. And the housekeeper at the Court is a
particular friend of mine, and not one to carry a foolish tale.”

“Out with it, Mrs. Rockram. What tale does she wag?”

Mrs. Rockram answered cautiously:

“It ends happily, sir, as tales should do—with the wedding bells.”

“I’m still in the dark,” said Grimshaw.

He felt, as he spoke, that he should remain so. Cimmerian blackness
encompassed him, a Stygian fog. Wilverley had retreated, so to speak,
before the final assault. He had trailed clouds of glory behind him.
Thanks to his organising powers, the new hospital had been acclaimed as
a model. And it was full of heroes and hero-worshippers. Grimshaw had
hoped that his services might have been required, but red-tape vetoed
this. The medical officer in charge was a “Major” in spurs. Wilverley,
of course, had made the most of his opportunities. Mrs. Rockram went on:

“I ain’t. When I seen Miss Cicely in her uniform, I says to Mr. Rockram,
‘My lord’s a goner.’”

Grimshaw attempted to smile. The music was out of his voice as he asked:

“Is it settled?”

Mrs. Rockram was inclined to think so. Could there be a better match?
One, surely, of Heaven’s own making. She concluded: “We have always
known that my lord was sweet as sweet on her.”

Grimshaw could not envisage Wilverley as “sweet.” And Mrs. Rockram’s
evidence was flimsy, mere hearsay from the housekeeper at the Court.
Still, the very likelihood of the affair gnawed at him raveningly. A day
or two later Pawley said to him:

“Thank God, Brian is now reasonably safe!”

“Why this fervour?”

“Lady Selina expects to lose Cicely.”

“Who told you so?”

An inflection in the young man’s voice made Pawley regard him more
attentively. Grimshaw’s face, however, remained expressionless. Pawley
replied as guardedly as Mrs. Rockram:

“She admitted to me that Wilverley had dropped the handkerchief; and it
seems reasonably certain that it will be picked up. He’s a masterful
man.”

“He is,” Grimshaw assented. “Would—would Lady Selina bring pressure to
bear?”

Again Pawley’s eyes showed surprise.

“Um! Pressure? Why should there be pressure, except from him?”

Cornered, rather confused, with a tinge of colour in his pale cheeks,
Grimshaw said hastily:

“I can’t see him as a lover. He would, as you put it, drop the
handkerchief and make sure of its being picked up at once. A girl of
spirit mightn’t quite like that.”

V

With the colder weather, Upworthy boasted a cleaner bill of health,
although the more elderly villagers suffered abominably from rheumatism.
Anxious to “spare” Lady Selina, but even more anxious to mitigate
conditions which might be improved, Grimshaw tackled Gridley, the power
behind the throne exercising a sly, persistent authority which few could
measure, least of all the lady of the manor. Gridley had succeeded his
father as bailiff of the Chandos domain. Thousands of just such men are
to be found in our southern and western counties. And more than half the
misery in the rural districts can be traced to them, directly and
indirectly. Back of their abuse of power lies, of course, the indolence
of the landlord. And behind this again—ignorance. All Gridleys have in
common a desire to make things easy for their employers. They stand
doggedly as buffers between comfort and discomfort, between peace of
mind and innumerable pettifogging worries and acerbities. Villagers dare
not appeal to Cæsar. How many schoolboys beard a headmaster, indicting
some unjust member of his staff? Villagers are children. They never cut
loose from leading-strings. They whine to each other, and make a
“visiting face” in the presence of the “quality.” They live, most of
them, for the passing hour, seldom dwelling upon the future because,
instinctively, they dread it. Who denies them great qualities? But they
will be the better understood when it is admitted frankly that their
unwritten code is poles apart from the code of the privileged classes.
With the poor patience is a greater virtue than truthfulness; fidelity
ranks above chastity; justice counts for nothing in comparison with
generosity.

Gridley lived in a comfortable house at the Home Farm, with a wife whom
he regarded as a general servant, and several children. After his day’s
work, he befuddled himself with beer, but he prided himself upon rising
each morning perfectly sober. He was reasonably abstemious in local
taverns, and attended church, making the responses in a loud voice,
conscious that the approving ear of Lady Selina heard him. He was a
member of the district and parish councils. He could, and did, make life
hell for any beneath him in the social scale who presumed to thwart his
wishes and commands.

At first he showed himself obsequious and complaisant to the new doctor.
But he began to squirm under Grimshaw’s questions, wriggling out of
them, evading them, trying to throw dust into eyes penetratingly clear.
Grimshaw took his measure in five minutes. Nevertheless, for Lady
Selina’s sake, he wished to give the fellow a chance. Possibly Gridley
mistook courtesy for weakness. More than probably he took for granted
that country doctors prefer to travel along lines of least resistance.

Finally, after many exasperating and unavailing interviews, Grimshaw
spoke plainly:

“You are forcing me to the conclusion, Mr. Gridley, that you run
Upworthy to suit yourself.”

Doctor and bailiff had met outside a cottage which held a young married
woman sadly crippled by incipient arthritis. Her bed rested upon a floor
eaten up by dry-rot. Putting his foot through a board, Grimshaw had
discovered masses of thick, white, velvety fungus, which smelt horribly.
He discovered further that the waste-pipes from the eaves were choked
up; water trickled down the inside walls. When he called Gridley’s
attention to this state of things, the bailiff promptly promised
immediate repairs, which were not forthcoming. Grimshaw could have
appealed to Lady Selina. But anything of that sort meant open war with
Gridley, the precipitation of a crisis. It meant, for the lady of the
manor, an instant choice between an old servant and a comparative
stranger. It meant, if Grimshaw won (and the possibilities of losing
obtruded itself), finding a new bailiff, breaking him in, endless worry
and perplexity. To find the right man at such a time, when ability of
any sort was at a tremendous premium, might be impracticable. To add to
the difficulties of the case, he knew that witnesses for the prosecution
of a tyrant would be hard to find. Gridley, and his father before him,
had imposed silence upon Upworthy. The Extons were notable examples of
what might happen to the recalcitrant. Favours, innumerable doles—coal,
fire-wood, milk, clothing and small grants in aid—were distributed
amongst the optimists who, when Lady Selina made her periodical rounds,
presented shining faces and grateful hearts. The wise gaffers sang
praises of “honest John” behind his back and to his brazen face.
Nicodemus Burble, the octogenarian, piped the popular conviction: “I
allers says it pays to treat bailiffs wi’ respect, for why, my sonnies?
Because they can make it so danged uncomfortsome for we, if we don’t.”

Gridley, thus addressed by a young man whom he regarded hitherto as
negligible, was much taken aback. Clever enough to know that
procrastination would no longer avail him, he tried insolence instead:

“Do I? I’d have you to understand, Mr. Grimshaw, that I can mind my
business, as my father did before me, and I’ll thank you to mind yours.”

With that he turned on his heel, glaring savagely.

“Wait!” said Grimshaw, in his quietest tone.

Gridley swung round. Grimshaw met his congested glance.

“The misery in Upworthy is my business.”

“Ho, is it?”

“Yes; I can break a hornet’s nest about your ears, and I’m in the mood
to do it. I can get the medical officer of health for the county down
here, and if I do, you and your father’s business, which you manage as
abominably as he did, will be blown to—to your ultimate destination.”

Gridley stared at him in stupefaction. Hitherto, the local sanitary
inspector, with well-greased palms, had seen to it that his chief should
be spared such visitations. Altering his tone slightly, he growled out:

“Her ladyship will have something to say to that.”

“Cut her ladyship out of this. I propose to deal with you. Her ladyship
has entrusted you with powers which you have abused, grossly abused, to
your own advantage.”

Gridley, with unpleasant memories of John Exton, and confronted by a
tense athletic figure, said sullenly:

“I suppose I can’t stop you talking.”

“You can’t. You like being top dog. And because you came from the
people, you’re hard on the people. You treat them as dirt.”

Gridley laughed brutally, as a not unreasonable fear of personal
violence passed from him.

“That’s what they are, most of ’em—dirt.”

Grimshaw smiled derisively, beholding in Gridley the reactionary of the
Labour Party, the common type that rides rough-shod over the
foot-passengers, bespattering them with mud. Some of the self-styled
leaders of Labour in Poplar were just like him—arrogant, insolent and
ignorant, seeking their own advancement with specious canting words on
their thick lips, secretly distrusted by the very class whom they tried
to rule and direct. He divined that Gridley hated, in his heart, the
benefactress who trusted him, that he would be the first—given the
opportunity—to bite the hand that had fed him. And such men scorn
decent treatment. They can be subdued by the weapon they use—the lash.
Grimshaw continued, not so quietly:

“I’m on to your little games. You and that greedy idiot, the sanitary
inspector, and four-fifths of the district council, play into each
other’s hands, and laugh and wink over it.”

Gridley tried sarcasm:

“Ho! Downin’ one of your own sort now?”

“You allude to our local medical officer. I wonder how you’d like me to
take on that job?”

“Why don’t you?” He laughed again.

“I may,” replied Grimshaw incisively, “Lady Selina Chandos has always
wanted to do her best for her people, but that never suited your book.
Why? Because when light comes to her you’ll be scrapped first.”

“Have it your own way, Mr. Grimshaw, and thanks for warning me.”

“I do warn you. For the moment, I shall leave her ladyship in peace. I
am dealing with you. Mend your ways here and now. Does the new flooring
go in at once—or not?”

“I told you the job should be done. We’re short-handed.”

“Will it go in at once, within twenty-four hours?”

“Yes, it will.” He paused, adding cringingly:

“I didn’t mean to give offence, sir.”

Grimshaw replied tensely:

“Good. Keep what I’ve said to yourself, and I shall do the same.”

Within the time exacted the new flooring was put in. Grimshaw knew, of
course, that he had made a dangerous enemy, but this heartened rather
than dismayed him, salving a sensitive conscience. He believed that he
could deal with Gridley, and through Gridley with others. Lady Selina
must be left in peace till peace came back to a world in travail.

I

Cicely, till the war broke out, accepted life very much as she found it,
although at school a glimmering had come to her that it wasn’t for all
girls the pleasant pilgrimage from cradle to altar, and thence in the
remote future to the grave, which a daughter of the House of Chandos
might naturally deem it. She and Arabella Tiddle had agreed that they
belonged to the Sunshiners, as Arabella put it—flowers in a parterre,
carefully tended and cherished. It must be awful, for instance, to be
like Miss Spong and Miss Minchin, assistant mistresses, labelled by
their pupils as “Spot” and “Plain.” Everybody knew that Miss Spong’s
father drank, even on Sundays; and Miss Minchin, it was generally
believed, worked hard during the “hols” as a typist. The whole school
had sustained an appalling shock when little Doris Reed mysteriously
vanished from a classroom and was never seen again. Her father, a
fraudulent bankrupt, had walked into a tunnel, preferring to meet an
express train rather than his infuriated creditors. All the details were
in the daily papers. One of Cicely’s friends, a queer, tall, scraggy
girl, interested herself in criminology, collecting clippings wherever
she might find them which set forth horrors. She was honourably known as
“Old Goose-flesh,” and possessed a perfectly thrilling brooch revealing
under crystal a tiny strand of a rope upon which a murderer had been
hanged!

Cicely, however, as a “Sunshiner,” turned her head from these shadows. A
tithe of her pocket-money was given in charity. One girl, chronically
hard up, borrowed five shillings which were never repaid. Ought this to
be regarded as part of the tithe? Arabella, with inherited business
instincts, answered in the affirmative. Eventually Cicely wrote to Dr.
Pawley about it, and he decided against Arabella. A fortnight later
Cicely received a box of chocolates which Arabella priced at ten
shillings. For a week at least Cicely wondered who had sent the
chocolates. She wrote an effusive letter of thanks to Brian, who sent
another box, expressing regret that he had not thought of sending the
first. Cicely, with a chocolate in her mouth, observed triumphantly:

“You see, Tiddy, out of evil comes good.”

“Yes; you’re fifteen bob up on the deal.”

From this happy conclusion there was no budging. Goodrich preached the
comfortable doctrine from the pulpit; experience confirmed it. Evil had
to be, because good oozed out of it. In the same philosophic spirit
Arabella’s father advertised the virtues of Tiddle’s Family Pellets. If
people didn’t suffer with dyspepsia Lady Tiddle wouldn’t wear pearls.

Cicely left school and returned to Upworthy with half a dozen delightful
vistas of fun and enjoyment in front of her. Hunting, tennis, balls,
jolly house parties, presentation at Court, and a London season. . . .

The outbreak of war closed all these avenues down which she and Arabella
had hoped to dance so joyously.

Lady Selina, moreover, refused to share Arthur Wilverley’s conviction
that the interests of high finance and industry would be paramount in
determining hostilities within a year. Her brother, Lord Saltaire, held
no such rosy views. Inspissated gloom settled upon that nobleman, not
without reason. His vast estates were heavily dipped; he had never been
able to lay by a penny-piece; the calls upon his ever-diminishing purse
were innumerable. He said to his sister:

“The burden of increased taxation will be back-breaking, my dear Selina.
We shall be hit harder than any other class. So I advise you to
economise. Cut down expenses to the irreducible minimum! That’s my first
and last word.”

Lady Selina sent for Gridley.

“Lord Saltaire,” she told her obsequious bailiff, “is reducing expenses
to the minimum. We must do the same.”

“Very good, my lady.”

She added, with an irritability rare with her:

“So pray don’t come bothering me about money. For the present, and for
some time to come, we must ‘carry on’—that, I am told, is the correct
expression—as best we may.”

“Certainly, my lady. In my humble opinion, the Hearl is right. I hope
your ladyship knows that I shall cut down everything.”

He spoke as if the prospect of cheeseparing afforded him intense
satisfaction, but Lady Selina didn’t notice that, and remarked:

“Yes, yes; you are a good, faithful soul. We must practise self-denial,
even in our charities.”

Much to her gratification, Cicely behaved like a perfect darling. It
made the fond mother miserable to think that her girl should have her
“coming out” burked by cruel fate. But Cicely kissed her and said:

“I shall enjoy my good time all the more when it does come, Mums.”

Lady Selina inclined her head mournfully. She entertained no delusions
on that point. Procrastination did not enhance the virgin joys of
“coming out.” Nevertheless, she confronted an abominable situation with
fortitude, making no protest when Cicely insisted upon becoming a V.A.D.
That meant the loss of more “bloom.” Balm descended upon her lacerated
tissues, you may be sure, when Cicely went to Wilverley Court. If dear
Arthur seized this great opportunity all would be well. Striving to
interpret the inscrutable ways of Providence, she seemed to discern the
Omnipotent Finger tracing Cicely’s future in gleaming letters upon a
dark background. Left alone in her big house, she denied herself cream,
and drastically reduced her establishment.

It will be admitted that Grimshaw, bursting with impatience to give
Upworthy a cleaner bill of health, had not chosen the most opportune
moment to further his plans.

II

We shall behold Cicely with clearer vision “on her own” at Wilverley.

She plunged eagerly into hard work, thereby winning an approving smile
from “Matron,” an uncompromising “pro,” not likely to favour a young
woman merely because she happened to belong to the “county.” Exalted
above “Matron” sat Mrs. Roden, Wilverley’s sister, who had married one
of the Quaker Rodens, a pillar of the Liberal Party, and as
indefatigable as his wife in what he considered to be “good works.”
George Roden was supposed to be in touch with the masses, although he
was a rich man. As an M.P. and a subordinate member of the Government,
he pulled many strings, being recognised as a peacemaker and
intermediary between Labour and Capital. His wife shared his views. In
and out of season Mrs. Roden preached solemnly the doctrines of
adjustment. She adjusted her own life and the lives of others,
particularly the lives of others. As an ardent democrat she contended
that all classes, not merely Labour, should be fairly treated in the New
Commonwealth at last to be discerned rising superbly above the troubled
waters. Fortunately, inasmuch as the good lady was something of a bore,
we are not much concerned with her or her excellent husband. But she
exercised influence upon Cicely at a moment when the girl was most
sensitive to outside impressions.

Mrs. Roden, after serious consideration, decided that Cicely was
destined to be the mother of Wilverley’s children. Motherhood may be
described as her _cheval de bataille_. Upon this charger she rode boldly
into the future, couching her lance against that dragon Infant
Mortality. Cicely’s physique, her feminine curves, her clear complexion
and candid eyes, fortified the conviction that she would nurse her
babies, and Mrs. Roden said so, with no squeamish reserves, to Wilverley
himself.

“Good heavens, Mary, what things you think of!”

Mrs. Roden replied austerely:

“I focus my thoughts, Arthur, on the essential. Large families will be
the crying need of the next decade.”

“I hope my kids won’t cry.”

“Pray don’t be flippant! I am honoured that you have given me your
confidence. Cicely is young, but I was nineteen when I married George. I
was a mother at twenty. I have never regretted it. I deplore years
wasted in bunny-hugging and fox trots. If this war trains young girls to
take themselves more seriously it will not have been waged in vain. I
shall talk to dear little Cicely.”

“Not—not about my babies?”

“You can leave all that to me.”

“Cicely, bless her! is a bit of a tomboy. I’m sure she would shrink
from—from—_you know_.”

Mrs. Roden enjoined silence, uplifting a large, capable hand.

“My dear Arthur, you have the disabilities of your sex. Never having
suffered from excess of modesty yourself, you imagine that young girls
are immaculately innocent and ignorant. Pray purge your mind of that!
They are nothing of the sort. They discuss everything nowadays with a
refreshing candour that is not the least significant sign of the times.
Now for a word of advice to you. If you want her, go for her—go for
her! Young girls fall easily in love with the first energetic bidder. I
take it you are the first?”

“I—I think so, Mary.”

“Then I repeat—go for her!”

Seldom indeed did Mrs. Roden use expressions even approximating to
slang. Wilverley saw that her interest was seriously engaged.

III

Mrs. Roden had been right in assuming Cicely to be neither immaculately
innocent nor ignorant of what she termed “essential facts.” She and
Arabella had discussed marriage and even motherhood quite naturally, but
not often, being mainly engrossed with tennis and hockey and, subsidiary
to these, their work in class. Arabella insisted that they must be near
the head of the procession and maintain an honourable position without
undue “mugging.” A good report, indeed, at the close of her school
career had transmuted thousands of pills into the pearls which Lady
Selina so admired.

Arabella, it will be remembered, had this strangle-hold over Cicely.
Lady Tiddle had graduated in life at a shoe factory. Arabella
acknowledged, with pardonable pride, that her second cousin on the
maternal side was a housemaid. Cicely was friendly with housemaids at
the Manor, but, in strict obedience to Lady Selina, never familiar with
them. Arabella pronounced this abstention to be a loss, not a gain. She
had talked very freely with the second cousin.

“They have an enormous bulge over us, Cis. You see, they get to know
men. Our information is second-hand. Lily”—that happened to be the name
of the second cousin—“has had a dozen boys on and off. She began when
she was fifteen. She’s as straight as they make ’em, you know, but dead
nuts on spooning.”

Cicely winced at this, although curiosity pricked her. Conscious that
she needn’t ask for details, because Arabella always supplied them, she
held her tongue. Arabella continued:

“Lily can make comparisons, weigh Tom against Dick, scrap both, and take
on Bill. I call that true liberty. I don’t see why an intelligent girl,
anxious to get the right sort of hubby, as, of course, we all are,
shouldn’t be engaged half a dozen times.”

“Tiddy——!”

“That’s my idea. Probably Father, who is becoming rather rankly
conservative since he was knighted, will put the kibosh on that, but
how, I ask, can you know what a man is really like till he has kissed
you?”

“What perfectly awful things you say!”

“All right! I’m a red poppy, and proud of it. You’re the wee
crimson-tippit daisy. Be a daisy if you like. I’ll call you—Dais.”

“Tiddy, please don’t! I’ll try not to be a daisy. You do give one ideas.
But kissing——! That is housemaidy, if you like.” She frowned and then
quoted triumphantly: “‘Her lips are common as the stairs.’ Ugh!”

Arabella laughed. Perhaps she wanted to shock a too aristocratic friend.

“Oh, well, Lily thinks no more of that than you do of brushing your
teeth.”

“I should have to brush my teeth, Tiddy, if any man dared to kiss me.”

Such talks, infrequent as they might be, stimulated imagination. Lady
Selina may have wondered why Miss Tiddle was chosen by Cicely as her
particular “chum.” Surely there were—others? But the others lacked
personality. Arabella imposed herself. Her liveliness, her audacity, her
humour—were irresistible.

Cicely’s first action on becoming a V.A.D. was to write to Miss Tiddle,
entreating her to join the staff at Wilverley. Sir Nathaniel Tiddle,
after a heartening glance at the peerage and “Who’s Who,” raised no
objection. Finally it was arranged that Arabella should “weigh in” with
the New Year.

Meanwhile, Cicely was seeing Arthur Wilverley every day.

IV

He “went for her” according to his own methods, not above criticism. The
“Ars Amatoria” of Ovid is hardly out of date, but that lively treatise
was not to be found in the Court library. Wilverley’s notion of courting
would have been termed by his sister—self-expression. The honest fellow
wanted Cicely to see him in all his moods and tenses before conjugation.
He talked unweariedly about Arthur Wilverley. Beware of branding him too
hastily as egoist or prig! He happened to be neither. Like his sister,
the welfare of others lay next his heart. At the same time it seemed to
be an imperative duty to reveal himself to his future wife.

Cicely was rather impressed at first.

And it is not unreasonable to affirm that he might have got her _au
premier coup_ had Grimshaw remained in Poplar. Comparisons between
Grimshaw and Wilverley became inevitable. Cicely was not unversed in
such mental exercises. At school young ladies of the ripe age of fifteen
were invited to compare, in parallel columns, Napoleon with Wellington,
Gladstone with Disraeli, Thackeray with Dickens. The prize-winning
contributions were published in the school magazine, typed and edited by
the overworked Miss Minchin.

Cicely wrote as follows to her dearest Tiddy:

“I do wish you were here, because I’m dying to talk to you about Arthur
Wilverley. I’m sure you will think him rather a dear. Anyway, he’s been
ever so nice to me. No chocs! He’s not that sort. Plenty of good,
sensible talk, which is flattering, isn’t it? I sometimes think that
he’s practising on me, trying on sentences which he means to use in
public. He’s our star landlord in these parts, and makes poor Mother
gasp when he tells her what she ought to do at Upworthy. Of course, he’s
frightfully rich. Have I mentioned Mr. Grimshaw to you?” (O Cicely——!)
“He’s Dr. Pawley’s new partner, and _very_ clever. But this cleverness
doesn’t stick out of him, thank goodness! Arthur and he took a fancy to
each other when they first met, because they have a lot in
common—better rural conditions, and all that. I told both of them that
it was no use hustling and bustling Mother. Mr. Grimshaw bottles himself
up; Arthur uncorks himself. Already I seem to know everything he has
done and is going to do. I’m afraid that you will say he’s not wildly
exciting. Nothing subtle about him. He strikes me as being immensely
‘safe.’ One couldn’t imagine him letting anybody down, or letting
himself down. Mr. Grimshaw is better-looking. He might come to grief if
things went very wrong with him. Or he might climb to giddy heights.

“Mother is pinching a bit—no cream! She says it’s fattening. Most of
our neighbours are pinching for patriotic reasons, but some of them like
it. This hateful war shows us all up. Mrs. Roden (Arthur’s sister) is a
_scream_! You will love pulling her leg. It’s rather against Arthur that
he can’t see how funny she is——”

A postscript was added:

“Mr. Grimshaw has dark, disconcerting eyes. I’m afraid he’s very poor.”

To this artless epistle Miss Tiddle replied by return of post.

“I wish I were at Wilverley,” she wrote, “because your letter is a dead
give-away. You’re working up a ‘pash’ for this young man with the
disconcerting eyes!!! And I’ll bet my string of pearls against a
boot-lace that he’s a better chap than your Arthur, who doesn’t appeal
to me at all. I see by the peerage that he’s nearly forty, and probably
getting bald. Why does he talk to you? Why not write to me as a pal
should? Before you get this, he may have proposed, without a word of
warning from me. And likely as not you’ll blush and say ‘yes,’ because,
obviously, the whole thing has been a put-up job. My tip is: flirt
sweetly with both of them, and _don’t commit yourself_! I have three
affairs on—no end of a rag! If necessary, I’ll have a go at your
Arthur. Try him out! I expect he’s too fat, mentally and physically, for
my taste. But I’d sacrifice myself for you. I shall look forward to
meeting Mr. Grimshaw. If he’s poor and clever, he’ll reach up and help
himself to the needful, with you dangling at the end of the pole as a
prize.

“My lady-mother is pinching too. We no longer dine the people we don’t
like. But we shall freeze on to our footmen till public opinion wrenches
them from us. . . .”

This letter constrained Cicely to collate her virginal thoughts with
Miss Tiddle’s vulgar words. Vulgar, be it noted, is used as
“vernacular.” Shakespeare might have described Miss Tiddle’s prose as
“naked as the vulgar air.” Lady Selina might have used the adjective in
its commoner acceptation. It would have shocked her inexpressibly had
she been told that her child was “working up a pash” for anybody, even
if he were a young duke with all the gifts of the gods. Cicely, however,
knew her “Tiddy,” and took no offence. But . . . was she thinking too
much of this man with the disconcerting eyes? Did he stand, square to
the four winds of heaven, between herself and Arthur? She asked herself
the question when she was engaged in preparing a pailful of
disinfectant. One would prefer to envisage the nymph in a fragrant
rose-garden, plucking the dewy blossoms, inhaling with them the sweet
freshness of morning. . . . Cicely had just finished scrubbing the floor
of the dispensary; the pungent odour of carbolic assailed her pretty
nose. And it served well enough, better perhaps than any rose, to kill
the parasitic sentimental growths which so often clog and obscure a
maiden’s true understanding of herself.

What was Grimshaw to her?

Being still a child in many ways, she applied the nursery test. If she
were in a boat with the two men, and the boat upset, and it were
possible for her to save one of the two, which one would be saved?

Her lively imagination, unduly stimulated by Tiddy’s prose, beheld the
two appealing faces mutely beseeching her for life and love. She
hesitated. The heads sank, to bob up again. She positively shivered with
indecision. Then she laughed. The prescient Tiddy had hit the mark.
Arthur was . . . well, not thin. He suggested floating. If he turned on
his broad back and stopped struggling, he would float. But Grimshaw
would sink . . .!

The test sufficed. Cicely filled her pail, and carried it demurely into
a ward.

V

She knew by this time why Arthur talked to her with such flattering
insistence. Tiddy would call it “window dressing.” Was it flirting to
listen attentively, to appraise the wares, to smile demurely, to watch
him inflate with the deliberate intention of deflating him later on? At
this point, her thoughts became nebulous. If she knew Arthur better, she
might like him more. When did liking turn into a warmer sentiment?

She went home for a week-end before Christmas.

Immediately she realised that her mother’s first kiss included a
benediction. Lady Selina held her hands, gently pressing them. Then,
with an exclamation of dismay, she examined them, noting broken nails,
roughness of skin, and faint stains which defied Scrubbs’ Ammonia.

“Oh, dear!”

“Honourable scars, Mums.”

“The whole world is topsy-turvy. I hear you are called ‘Shandy.’”

“Matron calls me Chandos, and the V.A.D.S Shandy. What does it matter?
I’m as hard as nails, and frightfully hungry. I hope you have a topping
dinner.”

“Everything you like, darling. We shall be quite alone. Stimson is
single-handed. This is a season of fasting and prayer, but you shan’t
fast here.”

Cicely hugged her, exuberantly glad to be at home again, but sensible of
a change that tugged at her heart-strings. The old graciousness
remained, the erect figure, the well-poised head, all the tiny
authoritative gestures. But the smooth eyelids drooped more heavily,
hiding anxious eyes. The right word came to her later, when they sat
together in Lady Selina’s room.

_Forlorn_ . . .!

What a word to apply to her mother! Always, she had thought of that
mother as self-sufficing. Lady Selina, of course, was accustomed to
being alone. She liked to entertain at due intervals—a Chandos
tradition; she paid occasional visits; she spent periodic weeks at an
old-fashioned hotel in London, in a cul-de-sac, where a gentlewoman
could sleep between lavender-scented sheets, and almost believe that she
was in the country.

_Forlorn_ . . .!

Several reasons jumped into Cicely’s mind: maternal anxiety about Brian,
a reduced establishment that forbade entertaining, her own absence from
home at a time, possibly, when a devoted mother had set her heart upon
“doing things” with her and for her. Without hesitation, she said
abruptly:

“Would you like me to stay at home, Mums?”

Evidently, Lady Selina had considered this. She answered quickly:

“No. We must all do our duty, child.”

“You look so forlorn.”

It was impossible to keep back the insistent word. Lady Selina frowned.

“Forlorn? I didn’t know that I looked forlorn, whatever I may feel at
times. There are—moments . . .” She sighed, and then said with her
usual energy: “But they pass. You are a sympathetic creature, Cicely. I
ought to be ashamed of looking or feeling forlorn when I have two such
good children. And so many good friends. They have been very
considerate.” She paused, faintly smiling. “You know, dear, even Mr.
Grimshaw leaves me in peace.”

Cicely hoped that she was not blushing, as she murmured:

“Heavens! Why shouldn’t he?”

“I anticipated pesterings. A man with his ideas . . . Thousands of
pounds! And now, when we all have to think in pence. He is certainly
clever. Our people like him. I have given him some shooting. The
partridges we had at dinner were shot by him. I see very little of him.
Does he go to Wilverley?”

She shot a glance at Cicely, who thanked her stars that she was able to
answer truthfully:

“Never!”

Lady Selina brightened. Not for a king’s ransom would she have pleaded
dear Arthur’s cause. To do so, however delicately, might invite
disaster. And it would be equally indiscreet to “run down” a too
attractive, impecunious young man. She decided that a little faint
praise was much safer.

“By the way, he is _not_ one of the Grimthorpe Grimshaws. But he will do
very well, and in due time step into dear Dr. Pawley’s shoes.”

“His list slippers.”

Lady Selina blinked, and then shied away from rebuke, a notable
abstention. Cicely continued hastily:

“Mr. Grimshaw is a gentleman. Nothing else matters.”

“His grandfather, I am told, was a China merchant, whatever that may
mean. As for ‘gentleman,’ I am inclined to think my dear father defined
the now odious word properly.”

“What was his definition?”

“He contended that the word had nothing to do with moral attributes. A
‘gentleman,’ in his opinion, was a man neither directly nor indirectly
connected with trade.”

Cicely opened her lips, and then closed them. She could score heavily by
asking whether the son of an ironmaster could, under this definition, be
termed a gentleman. But she reflected that her mother would retort that
the ironmaster had been created a peer of the realm. Lady Selina went on
blandly:

“Your grandfather once ‘turned down,’ as you put it, a clever young man
who applied to him for the post of private secretary. He presented
himself at dinner in a made-up tie.”

“Heavens!”

“I think my father was quite right. A gentleman never offends in small
matters. I deplore the fact that your friend Arabella pronounces G-I-R-L
‘gurl.’ How do you pronounce it?”

Cicely smiled.

“It depends upon whom I’m talking to, Mums. I shouldn’t say ‘gurl’
before you. I suppose you’d have a fit if I asked for a ‘serviette’
instead of a ‘napkin’?”

“It would nearly kill me,” replied Lady Selina solemnly.

“Arabella nearly died when she heard an old duchess pronounce ‘yellow’
‘yaller.’”

“That used to be the proper pronunciation, my dear.”

Cicely held her tongue.

Lady Selina, as usual, blamed the school. A girl brought up at home
would not venture to criticise, even allusively, her elders. She was
aware that Miss Tiddle criticised the Author of her Being! Cicely
hastily changed the talk, describing, not without sprightliness, her
adventures and misadventures as a V.A.D. Incidentally she mentioned
Wilverley, conscious at once that the atmosphere became charged with
electricity. Lady Selina, at mere mention of his name, purred with
pleasure. To stroke her fur the right way became a temptation hard to
resist. Cicely, however, succeeded in pleasing her mother without
committing herself. That, at least, was her happy conviction when she
went to bed. Snug in bed, and congratulating herself upon a strategy
that Tiddy might have disdained, she heard a soft tap upon the door.
Lady Selina, majestic in a brocaded dressing-gown, entered. Cicely was
astonished and moved. Such visits were rare. Lady Selina fussed over
her, tucked her up, and kissed her fondly, whispering:

“You are my own little girl. You mustn’t worry about me. As I said,
there are moments when this unhappy world seems upside down. I ask
myself where I am. But I have the greatest confidence in you, darling.
That is such a comfort—to be sure of those you love. Sleep well, and
have breakfast in bed if you want to.”

Cicely did not sleep too well. She lay awake for at least an hour,
feeling strangely restless and uncomfortable. And she woke up many
times, tingling with an exasperation which she tried in vain to resolve
into elements. She wished both Wilverley and Grimshaw at Timbuctoo; she
wished that she was like Tiddy, who could “take on” three suitors as a
“rag”; she almost wished she had been born of humbler parentage. Tiddy
assured her that the old order was “down and out,” never to rise again.
Admittedly, Tiddy knew nothing of the old order. And Cicely dimly beheld
a new disorder, with blatant voices and not too clean linen, that might
exercise a greater tyranny than any aristocracy of rank and starched
shirts. For the moment, she ultimately decided, she knew what she
wanted—to be left alone.

VI

She woke up delightfully surprised to find herself in her own pretty
room, and with no desire for breakfast in bed. Snow had fallen during
the night. Looking out of her window, she could see the conventional
Christmas landscape. Nature seemed to have tidied everything for the
great festival. Upon the previous afternoon Cicely noticed that the
gardens had lost something of their trim appearance. Leaves rotted upon
the paths and lawns. Rabbits had dared to invade the topiary garden! The
snow covered leaves and fallen timber. Presently Lady Selina appeared,
scattering crumbs for the friendly robins. Cicely greeted her gaily.

“You slept well, my darling?”

“Like a top.”

“Capital.”

They smiled at each other, Cicely reflecting that tops didn’t really
sleep. They spun round and round, just as she had during her vigils, and
went into a sort of silly trance. And then they fell flatly down. Cicely
had experienced all this and more; so she told the exact truth and
pleased her mother at the same time. As a matter of fact, she detested
lying, even white-lying. At school, lying, or any form of feminine
deceit or guile, had been voted by the leaders of public opinion—bad
form. Women, in the past, had been driven to subterfuge by brutal MAN.
The New Woman, educated like a public-school boy, must tell the truth,
and flaunt it if necessary, like an Oriflamme.

Mother and daughter attended Divine Service. Cicely perceived Dr. Pawley
in his pew, but Mr. Grimshaw was conspicuously absent, a fact which
distracted Cicely’s thoughts from the Liturgy. The small church was full
as usual, although many of the younger men had already joined up, not
without some pressure from the parson and the lady of the manor. The
more aged and infirm, in receipt of doles, quite understood that regular
attendance “paid.” Backsliders were overlooked when Lady Selina offered
her “oblations” at the Midsummer and Christmas bun-festivals. Just
before Christmas beef-time the attendance was remarkable.

After church Dr. Pawley accounted satisfactorily for the absence of his
colleague, who, it seemed, had spent the night with a child suffering
horribly from croup.

“He never spares himself, good fellow,” said Pawley. “In this case he
insisted on sparing me.”

Lady Selina inclined her head. The thought came to Cicely, to be
dismissed as disloyal, that her mother had not seemed too well pleased
when listening politely to Dr. Pawley’s praises of his partner. Did she
resent the young man’s ever-increasing popularity in the village? Lady
Selina strolled back to the Manor, saying nothing. In the old days Dr.
Pawley was often invited to luncheon on Sundays. Cicely said presently:

“Are you expecting Dr. Pawley to luncheon, Mums?”

“No. Stimson has enough to do as it is. Besides, it would be difficult
to leave out Mr. Grimshaw.”

“But why leave him out?”

Lady Selina shrugged her shoulders, saying carelessly:

“On ne s’entend pas avec tout le monde.”

Cicely felt as if she had been slapped. It was the first time that her
mother had deliberately chosen to indicate the social chasm between
herself and a G.P. Cicely, off her guard, said indiscreetly:

“Mother!—Mr. Grimshaw is Brian’s friend. I—I don’t understand.”

Lady Selina may have regretted a slip of the tongue. In her softest
voice, she replied:

“My dear child, I have been extremely civil to Brian’s friend. But there
are—limits! I regard Dr. Pawley as an exception that proves the rule
never broken by my dear father, for example.”

“What rule?”

“I dislike dotting my ‘i’s. However . . . the rule is quite simply this:
Solicitors and doctors, by reason of their callings, which impose upon
us, willy-nilly, an intimacy of a peculiarly personal and often
unpleasant character, must be received with formal courtesy upon
occasion. But the fact that they are paid as attendants, so to speak,
justifies us in keeping them at a discreet distance. Your grandfather
used to say: ‘How can I enjoy my glass of port when my doctor is
watching me drink it, after having strictly forbidden it?’ In the same
way, although your friend’s father, Sir Nathaniel Tiddle, may be an
exceptionally worthy person, I should not care to sit at table with him,
because he is a pill-manufacturer. How white the world is this morning!”

Cicely bit her lips in the effort to keep silence. Also, she realised
the fatuity of further argument. It seemed to her monstrous that
anybody, particularly a mother, should not want to sit at table with a
man who had spent a long, wearisome night in attendance upon a croupy
child. She said, with an inflection of acerbity:

“Yes; but I always think of snow as Nature’s whitewash.”

“What an idea!”

“Well, it is my idea. I thought this morning that it covered ever so
cleverly the rotten leaves which I smelt yesterday. I can’t smell them
now or see them, but they’re there just the same.”

Lady Selina eyed her pensively, murmuring:

“Really, child, your liver must be out of order.”

VII

During the afternoon Cicely met Grimshaw. Whether by accident or design
will never be known. She told her mother, just before Lady Selina was
composing herself for a nap, that she intended to pop round the village,
but she popped no farther than Mrs. Rockram’s. That excellent woman
received her with effusion, congratulating the young lady heartily upon
her colour. Cicely’s cheeks certainly exhibited a deeper damask, and her
eyes were sparkling. Mrs. Rockram, honest soul, made no attempt to
disguise her interest in what might be happening at Wilverley, and her
broad hints and innuendoes nearly drove Cicely from a delightfully warm
kitchen. She guessed, of course, that Mrs. Rockram voiced the gossip of
the village. Tiddy, she reflected, would have been immensely amused. A
Chandos merely achieved exasperation tempered by patience. Nevertheless,
she was sensible that Wilverley had become immensely remote, and its
lord a mere vibrant blur upon the horizon.

“I didn’t come here to talk about Wilverley,” she said.

“No, no, suttingly not. But I’m such an old friend, Miss Cicely, so
you’ll forgive me, won’t you? I held you and Master Brian in my arms
when you wasn’t two hours born. I mind me how Master Brian yowled when
he was bathed, and I says to Rockram, I says: ‘You mark me, Thomas
Rockram, that young man’ll never like water’—and he never did.”

Cicely laughed.

“You tell me about Upworthy. Is there much sickness?”

“Nothing to worry about. Mr. Grimshaw sees to that, he do. And now that
we’re a-going to lose him——”

“What——?”

“Haven’t you heard, miss?”

“Not a word.”

Mrs. Rockram became interjectional. “Well, I never did!—Maybe, I’ve no
call to!—But there!—I did suppose my lady would know!” Boiled down,
her tale amounted to no more than this. A certain Dr. Babbington
Somebody-or-other had offered Mr. Grimshaw some post in France. Cicely
having grasped this as a fact, said:

“And Mr. Grimshaw has accepted the appointment?”

“Well, no, miss. Not to say—accepted. Leastways, he give me to
understand only yesterday that he ’adn’t answered the letter, but he’ll
go. Me and Rockram is of the same mind about that.”

“But why should he go?”

“Because, dearie, ’e’s wanted here. In my long life, I’ve never known a
man to be out o’ the way when ’e wasn’t wanted, or reely in it when he
was. Mr. Grimshaw’ll leave us, just because we can’t do without him.”

Cicely couldn’t cope with this. She said, with some tartness:

“Mr. Grimshaw is Dr. Pawley’s partner. From my knowledge of him, he’s
the last man to leave a partner in the lurch.”

Whereupon Mrs. Rockram became so interjectional that we cannot attempt
to follow her.

Cicely left the cottage, to find Grimshaw snowballing on the Green with
some of the village children. He came towards her, laughing, looking, so
she thought, like a jolly boy.

“How are you, Miss Chandos?”

Cicely wasted no time.

“What is this story about your leaving us?”

His face became slightly impassive as he replied:

“The good Mrs. Rockram has been indiscreet, I see.”

“But—are you going? And where? Do, please, satisfy my curiosity.”

“Are you curious?”

“Of course I am.”

“That’s very friendly and kind of you. Yes; I have been offered a rather
important billet in a French Field Hospital. Between ourselves, the
French Medical Staff were caught napping. It mustn’t leak out, but their
arrangements have proved wholly inadequate. Doctors and nurses are badly
wanted. I happen to speak French fairly well. I took a Paris degree.
Babbington-Raikes has written to me——”

“Oh!”

He hesitated, becoming a boy again.

“I—I should really like to know what you think about it.”

“How absurd!”

Irritation betrayed itself. Partly because she found herself in a false
position. During the previous vigils she had wished to be left alone.
Providence, apparently, had granted that wish, so far as Grimshaw was
concerned. He would leave Upworthy, never to return. If he cared——!
Already, like Arthur Wilverley, he seemed remote. His voice floated to
her as from a distance.

“I am sincere. I have talked the matter over with Dr. Pawley. His health
is much improved after his long holiday. He can carry on, so he says.”

Cicely said shortly:

“Of course he _says_ that.”

“Do you mean, Miss Chandos, that in your opinion it’s my duty to stay
here?”

Quite unreasonably—as she admitted to herself afterwards—Cicely became
conscious of exasperation. At the moment, naturally enough, she was
unable to analyse her emotions. Inasmuch as she wanted Grimshaw to stay
for her personal motives, inasmuch also as she knew that such men must
be sorely needed elsewhere, his grave question kindled civil war in her
own heart. Taken at a disadvantage, she temporised:

“My opinion doesn’t count.”

“But it does,” he assured her.

Man and maid looked at each other with troubled eyes, each dismally
conscious of spaces to be bridged, of bristling obstacles to be
surmounted. In each, moreover, was the somewhat inchoate conviction that
this horrible war imposed itself as paramount. Individuals were
engulfed. The best leapt, like Curtius, into the abyss. And dominating
this paralysing faith in the necessity of personal sacrifice was the
instinct to obey without questioning, to scrap self at any cost. Cicely
divined that Grimshaw must do his duty, and that he would do it,
ultimately, even if she urged him to stay in Upworthy. To test him, to
make certain of his quality, she said slowly, almost with defiance:

“And if I believed that, if—if I gave an opinion—which—which I
don’t,” she hastened to add, “what weight could it have against your
own?” As he remained silent, she continued vehemently: “No, no; you will
act for yourself. Nothing else is possible.”

“I suppose not.”

“I venture to guess that you have made up your mind, Mr. Grimshaw.”

“Not quite.”

Torn within, he presented an impassive face to his interlocutress. His
voice seemed to Cicely colder. An older woman would have read him
easily. Unhappily, too, for both of them, they were standing on the
village green within sight of inquisitive eyes. Alone in Mrs. Rockram’s
snug parlour, in front of a warming fire, Grimshaw might have spoken and
put his fate to the touch. The snow, the grey-white landscape, the
approaching shades of evening, chilled speech. But never had Cicely
appeared so sweet to him, so desirable. To go from her without a word
ravaged him. To speak with entire frankness meant trouble, a burden
placed upon slender shoulders. Was it possible to give her a glimpse of
his feelings? Could one cold-dispelling ray shoot from his heart to hers
before they parted? Physically speaking, hands and feet were growing
icy.

She shivered.

Instantly he recognized the inexorable power of environment. He spoke
with professional incisiveness:

“I beg your pardon for keeping you here. It is bitterly cold. We are in
for a sharp frost.”

She held out her hand.

“I return to Wilverley to-morrow.” Her voice softened delightfully.
“This may be—Good-bye. And if it is, good luck to you.”

“Thanks.”

With that Cicely sped homeward, a very unhappy maid, leaving an equally
unhappy man to his thoughts. Neither had understood the other; each had
trodden the well-worn path of convention and good-breeding, no longer
that gentle, pleasant exercise so commended and approved by the past
generation. Cicely told herself that he didn’t care; he was more doctor
than man. At the very last he had envisaged her as a possible patient
laid low by influenza. . . . Perhaps—her cheeks glowed at the
thought—he had guessed something. Deliberately he might be setting the
seas between them! Otherwise, surely he would have hinted at a return to
Upworthy. . . .

Grimshaw went back to his sitting-room and piled logs upon a dull
smouldering heap of cinders. Borrowing Mrs. Rockram’s bellows, he blew
these into a roaring fire, sat down, lit his pipe, and glared at the
leaping flames. He was sensible of failure to his marrow. He accused
himself of cowardice. He cross-questioned himself inexorably. Pride had
governed him; he had kow-towed to the code imposed by the lady of the
manor; he had missed his chance. Lord Wilverley would not miss his
chance.

VIII

Alone with her mother, at tea-time, Cicely mentioned casually her visit
to Mrs. Rockram and her meeting with Grimshaw upon the village green.
Lady Selina nodded with Olympian majesty when she heard of the
Babbington-Raikes letter, saying blandly:

“Under the unhappy circumstances, I could not expect Mr. Grimshaw to
waste his undoubted talents and energies in Upworthy.”

Cicely said hastily:

“He seemed to ask for—for _our_ opinion, and of course I replied that
he would do what seemed right.”

Lady Selina smiled maternally:

“Very proper, my dear. And Dr. Pawley is so much stronger. Really, he
doesn’t need a partner now.”

She sipped her tea, hardly missing the cream. Cicely observed with
irrelevance:

“I often wonder why Dr. Pawley never married.”

“Ah, well, I could enlighten you, child, about that.”

“Do, please!”

Whereupon Lady Selina unfolded a romantic tale with a gusto in the
telling of it not wasted upon her listener. Pawley was presented as a
young, ardent man, whimsical, attractive, and something of a cavalier.
As a rider to hounds, he had won the friendship of the late Squire of
Upworthy. Cicely was well aware of this, a fact that tickled her humour.
With a full appreciation of the part played by fox-hunting in the making
of the nation, she learnt also, not with surprise, that a bold horseman
had captivated the interest of a daughter of the county, now a rotund
matron, the wife of a baronet who lived a dozen miles away. Lady Selina
was describing vividly, with corroborative detail, the process of
transmuting mere interest into love, when Cicely interjected rather
sharply:

“I understand—the affair was nipped.”

Lady Selina hated interruptions.

“Don’t nip me, my dear. What happened can be put adequately without
using slang. Common sense prevailed. Your dear father, indeed, had a
finger in the pie. . . .”

“Pressure!” exclaimed the young lady. “I should have thought,” she
added, “that Dr. Pawley would not have yielded to pressure.”

“Which shows, my dear, that you don’t know him. At any rate, he did the
wise and honourable thing. None of us, high or low, can afford to ignore
public opinion. In this case, everything turned out for the best. Dr.
Pawley’s straightforward conduct served to establish his position. When
the facts became known, the best houses opened their doors to him.”

“But he lost a partner.”

“That loss turned into a substantial gain. I have often thought that
celibacy is best for doctors and clergymen. If they marry, they should
choose helpmeets. But I can understand, also, that such a man as my dear
old friend, having loved truly a young lady of quality—she had very
great charm and distinction, I can assure you—would not care to look
elsewhere. And here again his fidelity to an ideal has endeared him to
all of us.”

Lady Selina sighed. Cicely murmured pensively:

“I wonder what Tiddy would say.”

“I can imagine what your friend would say, Cicely, and I am glad that
she is not here to say it. _Noblesse oblige_ happens to be a phrase
which the daughter of Sir Nathaniel Tiddle couldn’t be expected to
understand.”

“She understands it right enough, and she’s jolly glad that it doesn’t
apply to her. In ten days she comes to Wilverley.”

“Really!”

Lady Selina looked down her nose, and the shape of it may have
encouraged her to remark:

“You know, child, that this friendship of yours with a rather
unrestrained and undisciplined young woman is a certain anxiety to me.
However . . .!”

With a gesture that might have become the mother of the Gracchi, Lady
Selina dismissed Miss Tiddle.

But, till Cicely returned to duty the girl was lapped in tenderness and
solicitude. Let no man assume too hastily that design lurked beneath
soft glances and rare caresses. At any moment a few pencilled words upon
a telegram might apprise Lady Selina of the loss of a son. Because such
fear impended, she clutched desperately at her daughter, striving to
hold in her masterful grasp the essential possession, strangely
conscious that the spirit eluded her, that flesh and blood obscured the
real Cicely. It was hardly credible that her girl did not think as she
did upon matters supremely affecting conduct. Yet she dared not break
down virginal reserves with direct questions. And she could remember
that between herself and her mother there had been the same queer
intermittencies of sympathy, the thus-far-and-no-farther limit that
blighted full-blooming confidence.

You may be sure that she rejoiced unaffectedly at Grimshaw’s departure
from Upworthy, meaning to speed him on his way with gracious smiles,
hoping and praying that he would never return. During the five minutes
that she devoted each night to prayer and introspection, she decided
that Providence had deigned to stretch forth a delivering Hand. With
fervent faith she beheld clearly the Divine Intention.

Cicely had not inherited this clarity of vision.

She went back to Wilverley a much-bewildered maid, almost at the mercy
of circumstances and surroundings, feeling strangely invertebrate and
listless. For the moment we may compare her to a cog on a machine. Being
a true Chandos she intended to do her work efficiently. That would
suffice till—till Tiddy came. Tiddy would revitalise her. Meanwhile,
she contemplated with some dismay the certainty of talk not with but
from the tremendous Mrs. Roden.

That good lady eyed her critically.

“Too much Christmas,” she said trenchantly.

Out of sight and hearing of her august mother, Cicely often amused
herself by understudying Tiddy. So she replied calmly:

“Yes; I overrate myself. Plum-pudding and mince-pies. What can you
expect when a poor girl is hungry and greedy?”

Mrs. Roden smiled grimly. Cicely’s spirit did not displease her. The one
thing needful in a world to be regenerated by WOMAN was spirit.

“We missed you, my dear. Arthur was quite depressed. How is your
mother?”

“Just the same.”

“Wonderful woman! The world is in the melting-pot, but she doesn’t
change. Sometimes I envy her. Amazing powers of detachment.”

“And attachment. She was sweet to me, Mrs. Roden. I—I hated to leave
her alone in that big house.”

“You know that you are wanted here.”

As if this statement exacted emphasis, Wilverley came in, unmistakably
joyous, holding out two hands. And he happened to be looking his best in
riding-kit, exuding energy and goodwill, so delighted to see Cicely that
his genial tones betrayed him as lover and would-be conqueror. She felt
herself whirled away upon a flood of eager questions, which taken
collectively embodied the supreme question. Mrs. Roden tactfully
retired.

“He is going to propose now,” thought Cicely. “How can I prevent him?”

They were in the big library filled with superbly-bound tomes that were
never read, bought wholesale, with true decorative instinct, by the
first Lord Wilverley. Opulence characterised the room from floor to
ceiling. Cicely sank into the carpet and into an arm-chair, almost
overpowered by the sense of luxury and comfort. A violent temptation
assailed her. Why not float with the current instead of against it? The
excitement of any change from apathetic and dull conditions beguiled
her. All of us know how the Great War engendered excitement. Possibly
women were more susceptible to a craving for action than men. Action was
forced upon men.

She heard Wilverley’s sincere voice repeating what his sister had
affirmed, but with an emphasis not to be denied.

“I have missed you horribly.”

“But you hardly ever saw me.”

“You were here, in my house. When you left it seemed empty to me. Now
that you have come back——!”

He broke off abruptly, waiting, perhaps, for some encouraging glance.
Cicely stared at the carpet. Her cheeks were slightly flushed. Although
she wished to procrastinate, she was sensible that this big man, so
close to her, so alive with energy, was presenting himself insistently.
A strong mind was modifying and reconstructing hers. All that he
represented seemed to force itself upon her notice. If he won her, she
would be regarded as his most precious possession. He stood, first and
last, for—_Security_. The time and attention that he gave to the
humblest of his dependents would be hers inalienably. He would be
faithful and true to his marriage vows. She would be enshrined in a
velvet-lined casket.

Safe harbourage!

How much it means to women! And particularly to women of imaginative
temperament, who, like homing birds, are gifted with the sense of
direction. Cicely’s imagination had carried her afield. In Miss Tiddle’s
agreeable company she had explored highways and byways, wandering down
the latter with the comforting reflection that she could leave them at a
moment’s notice. Girls who indulge in such mental vagabondage are more
likely to return to the highways than the unimaginative, who may fly the
beaten track suddenly. With Miss Tiddle Cicely had dared to enter
(metaphorically) the Divorce Court; she had flown upon imaginative wings
into drawing-rooms where Mrs. Grundy refuses to go, where derelict wives
bewail their mistake in marrying the wrong men.

To such a girl as Cicely the broad high road appears to be the only way.
All the women of kin to her, with one notable exception, had stuck
religiously to the main thoroughfare which stretches from Mayfair to
John o’ Groat’s. And these kinswomen, taking them by and large, appeared
to be happy and contented. The notable exception, who was never
mentioned, remained an unseen object lesson of how not to do it!

Wilverley went on:

“The loneliness of a big house is rather disconcerting, Cis.”

He had never called her “Cis.”

“Even when it is a hospital?” she asked.

“The strange faces make it the more so. You must have noticed lately
that I have talked a lot about myself. I wanted you to know me. I want
desperately to know you, but somehow you are not very self-revealing.”

“Is anybody?”

If she could divert the talk into an impersonal channel procrastination
might be achieved. Wilverley refused the bait.

“I have tried to be so to you. Tell me, Cis, do you see me as I am, a
plain enough fellow who wishes with all his heart that he was more
attractive?”

“I think I see you,” she admitted, after an instant’s hesitation.

“I have not studied the arts that please women.”

His modesty was so disarming that her face relaxed. She replied frankly:

“Really and truly I distrust those arts.”

Such kindliness informed her voice that he plunged.

“You are going back to your drudgery tonight. And I am up to my eyes in
work also. So forgive me if I beat no bushes. You are too clever not to
know what I want. Will you be my wife?”

“I—I don’t know,” she faltered.

His face fell, but he recovered quickly. He muttered disconsolately:

“What a muddle I’ve made of this!” And then a happy inspiration came to
his rescue. He said awkwardly: “You see, dearest, it’s a first attempt,
but you encourage me to hope that it may not be the last. May I try
again?”

Cicely said desperately:

“I do feel such a fool. I—I don’t know my own mind, Arthur. It’s
humiliating to say so.”

“Nothing of the sort. Let us mark time. I believe I fell in love with
you when you were a tiny. Perhaps you will laugh at me when I tell you
that I sneaked a hanky of yours before you put your hair up.”

“Arthur! . . . I hope it was a nice one. Did—did you have to send it to
the wash?”

“Oh, no,” he reassured her.

They laughed, and the strain was over. Perhaps—who can say?—an
experienced courtier might have achieved less. Henceforward Cicely
beheld Wilverley in a more romantic light.

“When I try again,” he said shyly, “I shall show you the hanky.”

“I am like my hankies,” Cicely replied, “more ornamental than useful.”

Soon afterwards she went upstairs to the room which she was to share
with Miss Tiddle. As she put on her uniform she thought to herself:

“I wonder what Tiddy will think of him.”

Tiddy can best be described by the word “_éveillée_,” which cannot be
translated exactly into English. “Alert” comes near it. “Wideawake” is
not wide of the mark. Sir Nathaniel Tiddle’s daughter possessed shrewd
brains, but little beauty. Being well aware of this, she made the most
of what was likely to challenge interest and admiration. She cocked a
pert little head at an unusual angle and flaunted short, crisp curls,
which she shook in the face of Authority. The curls remained curly even
after immersion in sea-water. Shampooed they became irrepressibly alive.
Tiddy reckoned her curls to be a great asset. She awarded second place
to her eyes, large, round, saucer-eyes, neither grey nor green nor blue,
something of all three, fringed by short, thick, dark lashes, very
provocative, and even more interrogative. They seemed to say: “I want to
know everything about everybody.” Of her complexion (which was sallow),
of her nose (which was pug), of her large mouth, let us say no more. Her
teeth were small, white and even. Her figure lent itself to all vagaries
of fashion, being slender but not thin. She could pass as a jolly boy
without fear of her sex being detected. And she had in full measure a
boy’s agility and lissomness.

Mentally, too, she had a healthy boy’s outlook, although emotionally
feminine. Joy in life radiated from her. Dames of Lady Selina’s quality
might (and did) stigmatise this as pagan. Long ago, Miss Spong had
rebuked her for dancing or prancing to church. But, despite rebuke, she
had gone on dancing, conscious, possibly, of slim ankles and high
insteps.

Tiddy being an only child, it might be reasonably inferred that she was
spoilt by adoring parents. Nothing of the kind. Sir Nathaniel had become
a millionaire by the exercise of brains and indomitable will. Tiddy’s
mother, as we have said, began womanhood in a shoe factory. Both Sir
Nathaniel and she were excellent types of the successful industrial
class in this nation. The beacon which had led them upwards and onwards
was undiluted common sense. Sir Nathaniel had his weaknesses—what great
man is without them?—pride in what he had accomplished, pardonable
vanity, an ambition that vaulted as high as the Upper House, and an
ever-increasing desire to play the part of a magnate. But he remained,
like his wife, sound and simple at core. He had never, for example,
turned his back upon relations who had not soared. He was of the people,
and much too fond of saying so. Tiddy had inherited from him democratic
instincts. And if, with accumulating riches, Sir Nathaniel had become,
as his daughter hinted, conservative in regard to property, he never
faltered in his allegiance to the class from which he had sprung. His
great factories were models of organisation and administration. He
boasted that no strikes had taken place in them. Possibly his greatest
pleasure in life was taking appreciative guests—particularly
personages—round his factories, and, in their presence receiving the
homage of pleasant smiles and grateful words from his employés. It was
after such an agreeable excursion that the honour of knighthood had been
bestowed.

II

Tiddy duly arrived at Wilverley, and that night Cicely and she sat up
talking till the small hours. As a rule, the nursing staff took their
meals together. Mrs. Roden and Wilverley dined apart. But, inasmuch as
Tiddy was Cicely’s friend, the two V.A.D.s were asked to square the
family circle at dinner. Tiddy would join the staff on the following
morning.

Cicely was amused to see that she made an immense impression both upon
Wilverley and his sister, asking innumerable questions, all of them to
the point, and describing her experiences in a big Red Cross Hospital in
the Midlands, not run upon model lines.

“Friction everywhere,” declared Tiddy. “Matron on bad terms with sisters
and nurses, favouritism——”

“Were you a favourite, Miss Tiddle?” asked Wilverley, much amused.

“Yes,” replied Tiddy. “As a martyr I might have stuck it, but just
because Daddy weighed in with big cheques they were much too civil to
me, and I loathed it. That’s why I’m here to-night,” she concluded with
a gay laugh.

“Pray go on,” entreated Mrs. Roden. “This is most instructive. We may
profit by your experiences, my dear young lady.”

“As to that,” said Tiddy frankly, “I should keep mum, if I didn’t know
from Cis that things are humming along here on the right lines. The poor
duchess meant well——”

“The duchess . . .?” interrogated Mrs. Roden. To Mrs. Roden a duchess
was not quite as other women.

“The Duchess of Mowbray. I thought you knew that I had been working at
Harborough Castle.”

“She was a D’Arcy,” murmured Mrs. Roden. “I never speak ill of others or
repeat ill-natured gossip. Still . . .”

“Please make an exception in this case, my dear Mary,” said Wilverley.
Cicely could see that his eyes twinkled. Certainly this rather stodgy
man had an elementary sense of humour. But you had to dig deep to find
it.

Mrs. Roden said solemnly:

“Her mother was a Dollope. We all know that the Dollopes are . . . well
. . . Dollopes . . .!”

“They would be with such a name,” Tiddy observed.

Mrs. Roden continued trenchantly:

“Old Lord D’Arcy was quite impossible. One couldn’t repeat what he did
or said.”

“Tell me all about him afterwards,” said Wilverley.

“I am serious, Arthur. Lord D’Arcy was a moral idiot, first and last a
crutch man, leaning on others. No sense of responsibility whatever. I
could tell you stories . . .!”

“But you won’t, Mary. That is so exasperating. However, let him rest in
peace!”

“In peace——? I should be false to my faith in the here and the
hereafter, if I let pass such a remark. Lord D’Arcy, wherever he may be,
is not in peace. But I thought—possibly I am mistaken—that the duchess
was in France.”

Tiddy answered promptly:

“She is. She ought to be at home. What has happened? The patients and
the servants—oh, those servants!!—get top-hole rations. The
nursing-staff were half-starved.”

“Dear, dear!” ejaculated Mrs. Roden. She looked shocked, but she felt
somehow rather pleased. The Duchess of Mowbray, before the war, had
overlooked Mrs. Roden’s claims to consideration upon more than one
occasion. Cicely, not too sharp in such matters, guessed that Tiddy was
“making good.”

“Yes,” continued Tiddy cheerfully; “the duchess, you see, arranged with
some contractor to feed us, and of course he didn’t.”

“I give undivided attention to these important matters,” said Mrs.
Roden.

“I know you do,” said Tiddy.

Presently, the talk drifted into Wilverley’s particular channel. Tiddy
listened to him attentively, chipping in, now and again, with apposite
remarks that astonished Cicely. Altogether, this first meeting was a
small triumph for Miss Tiddle.

“They like you, Tiddy,” said Cicely, as the pair warmed their toes over
the bedroom fire.

“I like them, Cis. Mrs. Roden frightens you, I see, but you were right:
she’s a scream. I must pull up my socks, and take her as seriously as
she takes herself. Lord Wilverley is not quite the bromide you had led
me to expect.”

“I never said a word against him.”

“Oh! Didn’t you? Evidently he’s dead nuts on you. Has he proposed, old
thing?”

Cicely blushingly admitted that my lord had plunged into water too hot
for both of them. Tiddy went on ruthlessly:

“And Romeo with the disconcerting eyes . . .?”

“Shut up!”

“I couldn’t, if I tried. Let’s have it fresh from the oven.”

Cicely, after more pressure, gave a not too articulate version of what
had passed between Grimshaw and herself. Tiddy listened, with her head
on one side, bright-eyed, not unlike a robin watching another robin
picking up crumbs. From time to time, she shook her curls impatiently,
but she held her tongue till Cicely finished.

Then Miss Tiddle delivered judgment with all the wisdom of youth.

“It seems to me, Cis, that silence has extinguished you.”

Cicely admitted as much proudly.

“We Chandoses are like that.”

“We Chandoses——!” Tiddy laughed scornfully. “Cut all that cackle with
me, Cis. I have the greatest contempt for silence. Generally it means
stupidity. Idiots say nothing and are proud of it. Really, I’m ashamed
of you. However, I daresay I’ve nipped in in time.”

“In time for—what?”

“To put things right. I want to meet your Harry.”

“_My_ Harry! What an idea!”

Tiddy said obstinately: “We Tiddles are like that. We don’t look blandly
on when babies are playing on the edge of a precipice. I say that you
love Romy; and that Romy loves you. And that hateful Mrs. Grundy stands
between you.” Cicely exercised the Chandos gift of silence. Tiddy
continued warmly: “You may take Fatty out of pique.”

“Fatty——!”

“I used that word to annoy you, to rouse you. You are quite likely to
become fat yourself out of sheer indolence. Some of you swells have
brains, but you don’t use ’em. And if you don’t get a move on, you’ll be
down and out.”

Cicely murmured deprecatingly:

“Arthur Wilverley is a dear.”

“So is our butler at home. I might do worse than marry him, but I hope
to do better.”

“You won’t meet Mr. Grimshaw, Tiddy, because he’s going to France.”

“Settled, is it?”

“Yes. He—he”—her voice faltered—“went away yesterday, so dear Mother
wrote.”

“So dear Mother wrote . . .! I’ll bet my boots that dear Mother managed
all this.”

“She didn’t.”

“Anyhow, you mismanaged it. Well, if Romy cares he’ll come back.”

“Do you think he will?”

“_If he cares._”

III

For some weeks nothing of interest happened at Wilverley Court. Cicely,
perhaps, was slightly disconcerted because, as a V.A.D., Miss Tiddle, a
new-comer, soared above her. Cicely remained a drudge; Tiddy was
accorded privileges. One of the patients required a special nurse. No
sister could be spared. Tiddy, by virtue of an alert physiognomy, was
selected by “Matron” out of a dozen eager aspirants for the post. And
poor Cicely gnashed her teeth when she found herself “clearing up,” as
it is technically called, after Miss Tiddle’s more congenial labours. To
remove, humbly and swiftly, the impedimenta of a sick-room, leaving
behind the immaculate Tiddy enthroned beside an interesting case, tried
Cicely to breaking point. Indeed, a too long apprenticeship to drudgery
failed to accustom a daughter of the ancient House of Chandos to
carrying away soiled dressings, washing bandages, and cleaning
dressing-buckets with Monkey soap, which roughens hands, takes the
polish from nails, and brightens everything except the temper. And,
after two hours’ sweeping and garnishing, it was mortifying to proud
flesh to hear judgment pronounced by a sister, who was the daughter of a
greengrocer: “This ward looks like nothing on earth.” After such
experiences and exercises Cicely was quite unable to tackle with
appetite the good food provided by Mrs. Roden at lunch.

She went to Wilverley Court aflame with patriotic ardour and brimming
over with excellent resolutions, assuring and reassuring herself that,
much as she might shrink from the sight of ugly wounds and cruel
sufferings, never, never would she exhibit irritability or impatience
with heroes who had bled for England. She had imagined that such heroes
would remain heroes. She had not realised the inconsideration, the
disobedience, the fractious unreasonableness that even a Victoria Cross
may fail to hide when its wearer is reduced by long weeks of pain to a
mere attenuated shadow of his true self.

But—there were illuminating compensations. One afternoon, she was
returning late from the village, through a dark lane. To her dismay, a
man in khaki joined her and passed her without a word. He walked just
ahead of her. Every minute Cicely feared that he would turn and confront
her with—with abominable effrontery. At the end of the dark lane, when
the lights of Wilverley Court were in sight, he did turn, and saluted
her, saying respectfully: “Good night, Sister.” Then he retraced his
steps—a _preux chevalier_!

Other experiences were equally illuminating. One of the patients, an
unusually handsome man, died after much suffering patiently endured. At
the last his wife was summoned, a respectable, plain-faced woman, who
was with him when he passed away. The man’s kit was duly given to her.
Late that same night, the Matron found her crying over some letters she
had discovered, written by another woman. Next day, early in the
morning, a good-looking, slightly brazen-faced young person presented
herself and asked to see the patient, not knowing that he was dead. The
Matron told her the truth. Whereupon she said calmly: “I’m his wife. I
want to see him.” The Matron, aghast, blurted out the truth: “His wife?
His lawful wife is here. We know that; we sent for her.” Whereupon, the
other replied quite coolly: “If you want to know, I ain’t his lawful
wife, but I mean to see him all the same.” The Matron went to the
genuine widow, and told her that the woman who had written the letters
wished to see the dead man. She asked the crucial question: “Are you big
enough to let this poor creature see him? She loved him.” To cut short a
poignant story, the two women went together into the mortuary-chamber.
This incident made a profound impression upon Tiddy. She analysed it
from every point of view. “If we grant,” said she, “that a man can love
two women”—because, according to Matron, the real wife had spoken of
her husband’s devotion—“is it equally certain that a woman can love two
men?” Cicely shrank from answering such a question. Tiddy had astonished
her by saying: “I believe it is possible. Why not? One man might appeal
physically; the other intellectually.”

“Horrible!” said Cicely.

“You can’t compromise with life by calling it bad names.”

Cicely remained obstinately silent much to Miss Tiddle’s exasperation.

Often Cicely went to bed with a headache and rose with it. To go on duty
feeling unfit, to contemplate ten hours of physical _malaise_, to count
the lagging minutes, to confront the pettiness and injustice of some
sister, perhaps, who held amateurs in contempt, to be conscious that she
was not rising adequately to these moral exigencies, to retire at length
discomfited and defeated, has been the experience of all V.A.D.S. Cicely
was no exception.

One night Tiddy found her in tears.

“What a soaker!” said Tiddy.

“I’m so miserable,” groaned Cicely.

“Why?”

“I’m such a failure, Tiddy.”

“Tosh! The real trouble with you, Cis, is excess of sentiment. You look
at my patient, for instance, with sweet girlish pity. He hates that. He
doesn’t want sweet girlish pity. Smiles buck him up, and strong
language.”

“I thought I could count on your sympathy.”

“So did my patient. Sympathy can be shown without being sloppy. I made
my patient laugh.”

“How?”

“I told him about the old woman who keeps our lodge. She left one doctor
and went to another, but, being a bit of a pincher, she went on taking
the medicine of the first with the medicine of the second, and a sort of
earthquake took place inside her.”

Cicely was beyond laughter, but she dabbed at her eyes. Tiddy continued:

“I know what upsets you, Cis. You have to do some of my old work; and
they rag you a bit downstairs. And then you don’t rag back, but glump.
You are glumping now.”

“I’m not. I suppose we’re different.”

“That’s your misfortune, not mine. I refuse to weep with you. ‘Weep, and
you weep alone.’ Good old Ella got there with both feet.”

Cicely smiled faintly.

In due time Tiddy returned to the normal duties of a V.A.D.

Meanwhile Arthur Wilverley had been absent from home. He came back in
March, burdened with fresh duties and lamenting the loss of his
secretary, who had joined up.

“What I want,” he said to Cicely, “is a clever girl who can do typing
and shorthand, and come and go when I want her. But she must have a head
on her shoulders.”

A name flew into Cicely’s mind and out of her mouth.

“Agatha Farleigh.”

If Agatha could be found, Cicely was sure that she would prove the real
right thing. Of course the Extons would know. Old Ephraim Exton had not
waited a year to leave his farm. He was now a tenant of Wilverley, and
likely to do well, breeding cattle and horses under happier conditions.
His son, John, had enlisted. Cicely, anxious to serve a kind host,
cycled next day, during off-time, to Exton’s farm, obtained from the old
man Agatha’s address in London, and then, at Wilverley’s request, wrote
to her at length, setting forth all details of duties, salary and so
forth. Agatha wired back promptly from a typewriting establishment in
the Strand, accepting the situation. Within a week she was at work in
Wilverley’s office. Within a fortnight Wilverley acclaimed Agatha as a
gem of purest ray serene.

He told Cicely, whenever they met (not too often), details about his
work. The mandarins had just begun to recognise the possibility of
famine. Wilverley, as an expert on agriculture, had been summoned and
impressed, without salary, into the Government service. To grow two
bushels of wheat where one grew in pre-war days engrossed his
activities. To persuade others to tread in his steps had become—so
Cicely noticed—a sort of obsession. No word of love slipped from his
lips. And a Chandos respected this silence. But, inevitably, the girl
came to full understanding of what work meant to Wilverley and others.
Comparisons were forced upon her. Inevitably, also, during her leisure,
intimacy developed between Agatha and her. Work in London had changed
Agatha from a girl into a woman. Her wits and tongue had been sharpened
upon the whetstone Competition. Cicely soon discovered that Agatha had
discarded reserves of speech imposed upon villagers. She had become,
perhaps, less of an individual and more of a type. She showed this in
her clothes, and in her talk. Obviously she preened herself after the
fashion of up-to-date typists and stenographers, acutely sensible of the
cash value of appearances. On the first Sunday at Wilverley Church she
wore a cony-seal coat and a hat that distracted the attention of every
young woman who was not “quality.” Under the coat waggled a
shepherd’s-plaid skirt, cut very short, exposing imitation-silk
stockings and high fawn-coloured cloth-topped boots, which, so Cicely
suspected, were not too large for her feet. Conscious of Cicely’s amused
smile, Agatha assumed a defiant expression, as much as to say: “If you
don’t like my costume I’m sorry for you. It’s quite the latest style,
and paid for. Not by a rich mother, but by a hard-working, independent
girl.” Cicely, greeting Agatha in the churchyard, observed without
malice:

“I say, Agatha, you must have saved a bit in London.”

To this Agatha replied sharply, imputing censure:

“What I saved I spent. And why not?”

Perceiving that she had provoked resentment, Cicely hastened to assuage
it.

“Why not?” she echoed. “I never was able to save a farthing out of my
allowance.”

“We grow old and ugly soon enough,” said Agatha, in a softened tone. “I
oughtn’t to have bought this coat, but that’s why I did it.”

Cicely’s laugh melted the little ice that remained. And Agatha’s
gratitude for the word spoken to Wilverley was whole hearted. She said
shyly:

“I wanted to come back to be near my own people and—and the Extons.”

As she spoke, she pulled off a white glove with black stitching and
revealed a ring sparkling upon the third finger of her left hand. Cicely
saw a small cluster of diamonds, a ring that she might have worn
herself.

“John Exton gave me this before he joined up.”

Cicely kissed her.

“I’m ever so glad. Tell me all about it.”

Agatha, nothing loath, remarked with urban complacency:

“I do believe that prinking did it. I was a terrible dowd before I went
to town. Those everlasting greys . . .! My lady liked that. So suitable
. . .! We girls talked a lot about clothes.”

“I always wondered what you did talk about.”

“I was ragged—a fair treat. I had to grin and bear it. Well, what was
in the Savings Bank came out of it—quick. In six months I didn’t know
myself. When John came up and saw me, I knew that I hadn’t been the fool
I secretly thought myself. It’s gospel truth; girls like me must march
with the band, or—or be left behind.”

“I don’t blame you or John,” declared Cicely.

Agatha continued in the same slightly complacent tone, which jarred upon
Lady Selina’s daughter, although it served to amuse and instruct her.
Her soft, respectful manner of address had evidently been cast as
rubbish to the void. Cicely divined that she had become something of an
echo.

“We girls must have a good time when we’re young, or do without for ever
and ever, amen! And as to catching the men, why, I suppose Bernard Shaw
knows what he’s talking about.”

“Man and Superman, eh?”

“Yes.”

Under some little pressure from Cicely, Agatha, with unabashed candour,
and without picking her phrases, set forth her experiences in London “on
her own.” Cicely was informed that girls of the wage-earning class who
want husbands must make the most of their opportunities before they
reach thirty, or find themselves stranded on the bleak shores of
celibacy, with a glimpse of the workhouse in the far distance.

“They do fight like animals for a good time,” said Agatha.

Then, to Cicely’s amazement, this protégée of her mother’s opened a
smart Dorothy bag, examined her nose in a tiny mirror, and proceeded
calmly to powder it. Cicely thought that she looked thinner, and
wondered if the colour on the girl’s cheeks came out of the Dorothy bag.

“Have you lost weight, Agatha?” she asked.

“Well, we do skimp food to buy clothes, but we’re greedy enough when
somebody else pays for our meals.”

After this unabashed talk, Cicely admitted consternation to Tiddy, who
gibed at her.

“I never saw such a change in a girl.”

“Pooh! We don’t change much. What was in her came out. She seizes joy
when it passes her way. No exception at all. I see you don’t talk much
with the other V.A.D.s. Silly—that! Take my tip, and study people at
first-hand. I do. I want to understand everybody. Of course, as we’re
pals, I dissemble a wee bit with your mother. Perhaps if she understood
me I should be out of bounds to you.”

Acting upon this advice, Cicely became more friendly with the farmers’
and tradesmen’s daughters now working at Wilverley Court. Most of them
called her “Shandy.” She had accepted this cheerfully, because such
familiarity would end, she reflected, with the war. Now, she was
beginning to wonder whether social distinctions were of paramount
importance. Freedom of intercourse, according to Tiddy, begetting a
truer sympathy, a kindlier understanding, might be a greater thing than
respectful salutations. In the Midlands, children neither curtsied nor
touched caps. Lamentable . . .! She was glad that she didn’t live there.

The V.A.D.s responded to Cicely’s advances. She found in them what she
had found in Agatha: pluck, fortitude and an invincible optimism in
regard to big things. They whined and wailed over trifles. They lacked
restraint, refinement, and lied magnificently to achieve their ends.
Tiddy talked to all and sundry, particularly the sundry. She didn’t
invite confidence timidly, like Cicely. She exacted and extracted it,
waving it triumphantly, as a dentist will hold aloft a big molar. With
the august Mrs. Roden Tiddy shared the conviction that women were coming
into their promised land. Agatha agreed with Miss Tiddle. Often Cicely
found herself in a minority of one when social questions were debated at
meal-time.

“Is nothing sacred to you?” she asked Tiddy.

“Oh, yes, but not tin gods. This war will scrap them for ever and ever.
Speed up.”

“Pace kills, Tiddy.”

“Tosh! Pace kills those who won’t get out of the way. Tin gods sat in a
row, graven images, obstructing progress. We shall knock ’em down like
ninepins. It’s a case of knock or be knocked. You’ve come on a lot. I
wonder what your mother thinks of you.”

Whereupon Cicely confessed that she too dissembled with Lady Selina. At
this Tiddy shrugged disdainful shoulders.

“I should have thought you were sick of whitewash in your village.”

“Whitewash? Mr. Grimshaw called it that.”

“Yes; he was the first to open your baby eyes.”

“Well, there’s no whitewash here.”

“Wrong again. Whitewash and eyewash. A full dose yesterday.”

Upon the previous afternoon, the Wilverley Court Red Cross Hospital had
been inspected by a medical Panjandrum. Wards and passages had been
swept and garnished with nauseating haste and diligence. A great house,
already in fine working order, had been scrubbed from basement to
attics. The tired scrubbers had presented smiling faces and spotless
uniforms to the cold stare of red-tabbed Authority. After his departure
they had retired—foundered!

“What’s the use of that?” asked Tiddy. “Why can’t these pestering old
duffers take us unawares, and find out how things really are? We should
have gloried in that test. At Harborough we played the same rotten game.
For half-an-hour the place was as it ought to have been. Next day we
went back to the old disorder and dirt. However, we women are going to
change all that.”

“Changes are so upsetting, Tiddy.”

“I repeat—knock or be knocked. Really, you privileged people can’t
complain; you’ve had a wonderful innings. But this war has bowled you
out.”

“Mother would have a fit if she heard you,” remarked Cicely.

IV

Afterwards, long afterwards, Cicely could not recall with any exactness
when she began to look at Upworthy with eyes from which the scales had
fallen. Presently she beheld the beloved cottages through Miss Tiddle’s
twinkling orbs. Little escaped them. Called upon to admire thatched
roofs and walls brilliantly white against a background of emerald-green
fields, Tiddy perpetrated sniffs.

Cicely said defiantly:

“They’re the prettiest cottages in the county.”

“In our cottages, Cis, Daddy and I look at the kiddies. If they’re all
right, we’re satisfied.”

“Satisfied with rows of ugly brick houses with slate tiles . . .?”

“Absolutely.”

“What’s the matter with our children?” asked Cicely.

Tiddy replied with imperturbable and exasperating good humour:

“You must find that out for yourself, old thing. It’s no use jawing at
people. That only makes ’em the more obstinate. Sooner or later, if you
keep your peepers peeled, you’ll catch on. I’m wondering just how long
you will keep it up.”

“Keep what up?”

“Self-deception—humbugging your own powers of observation.”

Coming and going to the Manor, when off duty, the girls would drop into
the cottages and pass the time of day with smiling and obsequious
villagers. But their pleasant greetings failed to impress Sir
Nathaniel’s daughter. It happened, shortly after Agatha’s arrival, that
Cicely paid a visit to Timothy Farleigh, the typist’s uncle. Before she
tapped on the door, Cicely spoke a word of warning to Miss Tiddle.

“I want to tell Timothy how well Agatha is doing, but . . .”

“Yes?”

“Well, the old fellow has a grievance. Mrs. Farleigh is a dear. And you
will admire the kitchen.”

They tapped and entered. Tiddy was agreeably surprised and delighted.
The kitchen was charming; a quaint, old-fashioned room with a deep open
hearth and ingle-nook. A broad seat semi-circled a deeply-recessed bay
window, and above the seat was a ledge with flower-pots upon it. An oak
dresser set forth to advantage some blue-and-white pottery. Hams hung
from a big black rafter. Upon the walls gleamed an immense brass
warming-pan and a brass preserving-dish which seemed to have survived
the use and abuse of centuries. A large table was scrubbed immaculately
white. There were plain Windsor chairs and a huge arm-chair facing the
hearth. In this arm-chair sat Timothy Farleigh, reading a Sunday paper
with horn spectacles upon his bony nose. He rose when the young ladies
entered, and greeted them civilly but without the customary servility.
In the ingle-nook Nick, the softy, was crouching, crooning to himself.

Timothy thanked Cicely for bringing him information about his niece.
Tiddy eyed him critically noting his strong square chin, heavy brow and
deep-set eyes. A curious light smouldered in them. He spoke in the West
Country dialect still used in remote districts by the elder generation.

“Aggie be a fine young ’ooman, able, thank the Lard! to fend for
herself. I be proud o’ she, a gert, understanding lass I calls ’er.”

“I have brought my friend, Miss Tiddle, to see you, Timothy. She comes
from the Midlands, where folk are thick as bees in a hive.”

Timothy glanced with interest at Tiddy.

“Do they bide quiet in their hives, miss? I bain’t much of a scollard,
but I reads my Sunday paper, I do, and folks in your parts seemin’ly be
buzzin’ and swarmin’ like bees ready to leave old hive.”

“There is a good deal of that,” admitted Tiddy candidly.

“Ah-h-h!”

Timothy pressed his thin lips, as if fearing that buzzing might escape
from him. He shrugged his heavy shoulders, warped by constant toil in
the fields, and remained silent. Just then his wife bustled in, a frail,
spindling little woman with worried eyes. She greeted Cicely, so Tiddy
noticed, with genuine affection, and offered instantly a cup of tea. Her
obvious desire to ingratiate herself with the quality seemed pathetic to
the young woman from the Midlands.

“Stop your noise, Nicky,” said Mrs. Farleigh sharply. “You knows better
nor that.”

“Let ’un bide,” growled Timothy.

Nick stared and then grinned at Miss Tiddle, offering slyly his
customary greeting to strangers.

“I be soft, I be.”

“Don’t ’ee take no notice of him, miss.”

Cicely talked on cheerfully about Agatha till it was time to go. Outside
Tiddy said sharply:

“What is this grievance?”

Reluctantly, Cicely told the tale of diphtheria and two graves in the
churchyard. Tiddy refrained from comment. Crossing the village green,
after five minutes with Mrs. Rockram, they encountered Nicodemus Burble,
hearty and garrulous as ever.

“It do tickle me to death to see ’ee, miss,” he assured Cicely. “A fair
stranger you be.”

“How is everything in the village, granfer?”

“We be gettin’ older, miss, and more rheumaticky. But I keeps on my old
pins, I does, being scairt o’ takin’ to my bed wi no ’ooman to fend for
me.”

“An old bachelor?” asked Tiddy.

“Lard love ’ee, miss, I ha’ buried two wives, and might ha’ taken a
third, a very praper young wench, but too free wi’ her tongue like.”

“Was she?” asked Tiddy.

“Aye. Whatever do ’ee think she says to me, the lil’ besom, when I up
and axed her to be number three?”

“I can’t imagine,” said Cicely.

Tiddy observed thoughtfully:

“She might have said a good deal.”

The ancient chuckled.

“‘Granfer,’ she says, ‘a man o’ your gert age ought to go to bed wi’ a
candlestick.’”

Cicely threw back her head and laughed. Tiddy wanted more detail.

“And what did you reply to that, Mr. Burble?”

“Ah-h-h! I was too flambergasted, miss, for common speech, but a very
notable answer blowed into my yed just one fornit arter. I can’t go to
bed wi’ a candlestick, acause I ain’t got none, nary one.”

He hobbled on, still chuckling.

“They’re quite wonderful,” said Tiddy. “Prehistoric. How long will it
last?”

Cicely frowned, anticipating criticism.

“I suppose you would like to see everything cut to pattern, with the
colour out of the pattern, a drab monotony of millions doing and saying
the same thing; no distinctions, no differences—ugh?”

“Is that your own, Cis?”

Cicely had to admit that she was quoting from the _Morning Post_.

Tiddy laughed at her, as usual.

“You Tories are always so extreme. Changes needn’t be violent, but they
may be violent if you swells don’t climb down the pole a bit and get
nearer facts as they are. That’s all. What a very horrid smell!”

Under the stronger beams of a May sun odours of pig were wafted on the
breeze.

“I don’t mind the smell of pigs.”

“Does your mother ever notice it?”

“I don’t know.”

“If she kept away from her village I should understand, but she
doesn’t.”

Cicely was sharp enough to explain.

“That’s it. If she kept away . . .! Then she might notice. She has smelt
these smells for thirty years. She says that a smell you can smell is
not dangerous. Brian thinks just as she does.”

“France may take some dust out of his eyes.”

Retrenchment, expenses cut to the irreducible Saltaire minimum, was
inscribed upon gates, fences, and buildings. Cicely had an illuminating
word to say about the gates:

“Father said that he liked a gate that you could put a young horse at
without running much risk of breaking your neck.”

“What a humane man!”

Cicely added pensively:

“When hounds run across Wilverley I look before I leap.”

“Ah! Then you do see the difference between Wilverley and Upworthy?”

Reluctantly, feeling rather disloyal, Cicely had to confess that the
difference did obtrude itself. Since Arthur’s return, she had ridden out
with him about once a week. A groom accompanied them. Arthur would
dismount and take Cicely into his cottages, asking many questions,
insisting upon truthful answers, checking, so to speak, the reports,
written and spoken, of his agent, leaving nothing to chance or
mischance. His actions as a landlord revealed him far more clearly to
Cicely than the halting words with which at first he had tried to
capture her affections. She began to wonder what Upworthy would look
like under Wilverley management. If she married this good, capable
fellow, would he put his stout shoulder to the wheel of a mother-in-law?
Tentatively, with a faint flush upon her cheeks, she said to him:

“I wish, Arthur, that you could persuade Mother to make a few
improvements at Upworthy.”

He replied, with a touch of irritation:

“Good heavens! As it is, I can’t find time to mind my own business. Lady
Selina would resent any interference. I thought that Grimshaw——”

He broke off abruptly, realising that an indictment of Chandos methods
had almost escaped him.

“Please go on. What did you expect from Mr. Grimshaw?”

Evading the direct question, she pressed him vehemently:

“I do so want to know what might be done. If it isn’t your business, it
might be mine, mightn’t it?”

He eyed her keenly. Was she thinking of a dire possibility, the death of
her brother? Her next words reassured him.

“You see, Arthur, Brian knows nothing about estate management. He’s a
soldier, and I’m glad he is.”

“Perhaps you are sorry that I am not?”

She replied gracefully:

“But you are. You are fighting as hard as any man I know.”

“Thanks.” His voice softened. “What do you want to know?”

She picked her phrases carefully, and they had been prepared, pat to
just such an opportunity.

“I want to know why things have drifted into the present pass. I want to
know who is really responsible? And most of all I want to know if
anything can be done.”

The sincerity in her voice, the trouble in her eyes, moved him
poignantly. And this was the first appeal of weakness to strength always
so irresistible and captivating. He answered her as sincerely, plunging
headlong into the subject, speaking, however, with that tincture of
exasperation which marred somewhat his efforts on public platforms.
Knowledge is at heart intolerant of ignorance, but your silver-tongued
orator would lose half his power if he betrayed this.

“I’ll do my best, Cicely. But I propose to leave your mother out of it.
I can’t criticise her to you. And really she is the victim of
circumstances almost beyond her control.”

“Almost?”

“I said almost. Something utterly unforeseen might change her point of
view. She believes firmly that she is acting for the best. For the
moment let us leave it at that. Unhappily, she has a bad bailiff. And
your Inspector of Nuisances is in the hands of your Board of Guardians,
small farmers who are terrified of improvements because it would mean a
rise in rates. And then there’s Snitterfield——!”

“Dr. Snitterfield?”

“Your Health Officer, also in the hands of your Guardians, and elected
by them. Snitterfield, the Inspector, and Gridley pursue a policy of
masterly inactivity. Grimshaw found himself up against those three, up
against vested interests, up against absurd medical etiquette. I rather
hoped that he would call upon the Chief Medical Officer of the County, a
good man, but that would have meant an appalling rumpus. Grimshaw would
have had to prove his case up to the hilt; no easy matter. Probably he
would have hostilised your mother. Old Pawley, perhaps, restrained him.
I don’t know. I’m not surprised that Grimshaw bolted.”

“He didn’t.”

“I felt at the time that I should have bolted. Grimshaw told me that
just such intolerable conditions drove him out of Essex and Poplar.”

“Mr. Grimshaw went to France because he was needed there. I am sure of
that.”

“I daresay. Anyway, he left Upworthy. Where was I? Oh, yes. I can’t tell
you where responsibility begins or ends. Our land system howls to heaven
for reform. And I can’t tell you what ought to be done at Upworthy.
Tinkering with improvements is bad business. For the present, at any
rate, until this accursed war ends, Lady Selina must be left alone.
I—I’m sorry I spoke with such heat.”

“I am much obliged to you,” said Cicely.

V

This confidential talk produced one unexpected effect. Cicely’s plastic
mind, plastic under any dominating hand, began to envisage Grimshaw as
driven out of Upworthy by circumstance. Instinct had told her that
Wilverley’s conjecture was wrong, and instinct happened to be right. But
her intelligence, much sharpened by Tiddy, reversed the first judgment.
She beheld Grimshaw turning his back upon a hopeless fight, as
admittedly he had done before. And if this were true, he would not come
back.

He had not written to her.

Not even to Tiddy would she admit that she had hoped for a letter. If he
cared, he would surely write. He might write, if he didn’t care. And he
had written to Mrs. Rockram, an epistle read aloud to Cicely and then
put away as a cherished souvenir of a perfect gentleman. Grimshaw had
written also more than once to Dr. Pawley, but Cicely had not read these
letters. She gathered from an old friend that Grimshaw was doing
first-class work, likely to be recognised, if not rewarded, at
Headquarters. Pawley said to her regretfully:

“This parish is too small for him.”

And at the time, Hope had whispered the flattering tale: “Yes, it is;
but I’m in it, and he’ll come back on my account.”

Now Hope faded out of sight.

Of course the sharp-eyed Tiddy perceived that her friend was passing
through a bad time. The flame of patriotism burned less brightly; the
daily drudgery went on imposing fresh exacerbations. Tiddy felt very
sorry, but she reflected, not without an inward smile, that Cicely would
profit by these bludgeonings. She would learn what Sir Nathaniel
called—values. Meanwhile, an unhappy young gentlewoman might mar her
own life, and that of another, by marrying the wrong man. Tiddy decided
that Arthur Wilverley was a good fellow. But he would take Cicely into
his ample maw and absorb her. She would become Lord Wilverley’s wife, an
amiable nonentity. She decided, also, with equal cocksureness, that such
a match would prove disastrous to the husband. Wilverley worked in a
circle likely to grow smaller if he were left alone with his
potentialities. His energies would centre upon himself and his
possessions. In this regard the author of Miss Tiddle’s being furnished
an object-lesson. He reigned supreme in the pill factories and on
occasion assumed the god, thereby shaking not the spheres but the sides
of those who beheld him.

Eventually Tiddy came to the conclusion that Cicely and Wilverley were
drifting, like leaves upon a stream, into marriage.

“I must take a hand in this game,” thought Miss Tiddle.

The necessity of doing “something” became even more imperative when she
marshalled the forces arrayed against her. Lady Selina, she decided, was
exercising, perhaps unconsciously, continual pressure. Mrs. Roden was
plainly bent upon lending Providence a helping finger. She said
majestically to Tiddy:

“You are a very sharp young lady.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Roden,” Tiddy demurely replied.

“Between ourselves, my dear”—Tiddy smiled—“I can assure you that the
happiness of others concerns me more, much more, than my own.”

This was quite untrue, and Tiddy knew it. Mrs. Roden continued:

“You must have noticed what is going on under our noses?”

Tiddy intimated, abstaining from slang, that her eyes were not
altogether ornamental.

Mrs. Roden, warming to altruistic work, pursued the even tenor of her
way.

“In my opinion, these two dear people want pushing.”

“Sometimes I could shake Cis,” said Tiddy.

“Yes, yes. Now, once more strictly between ourselves——”

“That is understood.”

“I have decided that you, my dear, should—a—give the little push.”

“Really?”

“I am sure of it.”

“I don’t think, Mrs. Roden, that I could push Lord Wilverley.”

“Certainly not. Being the man he is, of a somewhat nervous stolidity,
irritably energetic, if I may say so, he might resent pushing from you.
I propose to push him. I want you to push Cicely. Together we shall
achieve our purpose.”

“I see.”

“I can’t conceive of a happier, more suitable match. It would be, I
venture to affirm, abundantly blessed. Whenever I look at them, I think
of—a——”

“The multiplication table?”

“How quick you are! Yes, yes—the patter of little feet appeals to me
tremendously. I am glad to think that such a vital subject can be
frankly discussed between a matron and a maid. The maids will make
better matrons when absurd reserves become obsolete. All that is needed
in this case is adjustment, the little touch that turns the balance. It
is a great privilege to give such touches. I need say no more.”

“I understand,” said Tiddy. “I shall push for all I’m worth.”

VI

“In the other direction,” she added mentally.

That same night, during the rite of hair-brushing, Tiddy said abruptly,
well aware, of course, that a push, to be effective, should be
administered without warning:

“Are you playing the game with Lord Wilverley?”

“I beg your pardon, Tiddy?”

“Never do that. It’s a device to gain time. You heard me. Are you
playing the game? If not—as Mrs. Roden would say—why not?”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“Then I’ll say it for you. I advised you before I came here to flirt
with this nice big man. I was thinking for you, doing what I should do
myself. I hold that a sensible girl must get really intimate with a man
whom she may eventually marry. Under our stupid shibboleths and
conventions that is called ‘flirting.’ There’s no harm in it, up to a
point. In my opinion you have passed that point.”

“Have I?” Cicely considered this pensively.

“Yes; he has behaved with astounding patience and consideration. He is
crystal-clear. He wants you. If you don’t want him, say so, and have
done with it. I think I can read you as easily as you read him. You
would like to please your mother, who, for the first time in her amazing
life, is feeling, as you told me, forlorn; you are getting fed up with
war work and bottle-washing, and you hanker for a change, _any change_;
also, you have a vague and quite excellent notion that Lord Wilverley,
as a son-in-law, might persuade your mother to let him take Upworthy in
hand. Probably he would, with little coaxing from you. In your less
robust moments you rather gloat over this opportunity of self-sacrifice.
On the other hand, it’s obvious that you don’t really love this good,
honest fellow; you are piqued because Romeo did the vanishing stunt. You
might have come to some sort of an understanding, but silly pride
prevented that. Agatha captured her John right enough.”

“Because she knew that he loved her.”

“In your funny little heart you believe that Romeo loves you. Pride
upset his apple-cart. Now—what are you going to do?”

Cicely, to Miss Tiddle’s rage and disgust, answered the question by
melting into tears. Tiddy, without a word, rose from her chair, opened
an umbrella, and sat down under it with a derisive smile upon her lips.

“When the shower is over,” she remarked tartly, “I’ll put down my
umbrella.”

Cicely, feeling ridiculous, gulped down her sobs.

“I wish I had your brains.”

“Tosh! Your brains are O. K. You’re too indolent to use them. Marry the
wrong man, and your brains will become a negligible quantity. What beats
me is that Lord Wilverley should talk to you at all when he might talk
to me.”

At this Cicely “sat up,” literally and metaphorically. Tiddy closed her
umbrella, but held it ready for use. She added calmly:

“I could make him talk to me, if I tried.”

“Take him from me, you mean?”

“Quite easily.”

Cicely’s eyes began to sparkle.

“He ought to marry a woman with some snap and ginger. I could egg him on
to great things.”

Cicely made an incredulous gesture. Then she said acrimoniously:

“I suppose you don’t believe in friendship between a man and a girl?”

“I don’t.”

“Well, I do. Friendship between girls is rather difficult.”

“Friendship between any two persons is very difficult. Most women are
too exacting in their friendships. For instance, you expect a lot of
sloppy sentiment from me. You won’t get it. My object is to save you
from yourself. You are drifting. If you really want to drift, say so,
and I’ll shut up. But I warn you, within a day or two you’ll have to say
‘yes’ or ‘no’ to Arthur Wilverley. If you temporise, he’ll think you a
rotter.”

“If Arthur bustles me, I shall say ‘no.’”

“I knew it!” exclaimed Miss Tiddle, triumphantly. “You don’t love him.”

“I—I might.”

Tiddy wisely said no more.

Next day, Destiny interfered. At a moment when Lady Selina had good
reason to think that her son would be spared, because our cavalry were
well out of the danger zone, Brian Chandos was offered and accepted a
staff appointment.

Three days afterwards he was shot through the head, when carrying
despatches, and died instantly.

Cicely was summoned home. Lady Selina met her upon the threshold of the
great hall. Stimson hurried away, leaving mother and daughter alone.
Outwardly, Lady Selina remained calm. To Cicely she seemed to have
become suddenly an old woman. Her face was white and lined, but she held
her head erect. Her voice never faltered. When Cicely gripped her
convulsively, she took the girl’s face between her hands and gazed at it
mournfully.

“I want you, child; I want you—desperately.”

Continue Reading

THE LONG TRAIL

As Ruth was fond of quoting, “The quicker ’tis done, the better ’tis
done.” Polly watched for a good opportunity when Jean was alone, and
broached the subject without waiting.

“Peggie go to Calvert?” exclaimed Jean, in surprise. “Why, Polly, what
made you think of such a thing?”

“I wanted her. We all want her to be one of us this year. It would do
her good, and she would be with you, Miss Murray dear.”

“But the cost—”

“Let the dinosaur pay for it,” said Polly, hastily. “Of course I know
she couldn’t go unless something did happen to open the way for her, but
this will, won’t it? The Chief told her to-day she was to have a third
of whatever he received, because she is the true discoverer.”

“But you and the other girls are the promoters.”

Polly flushed quickly.

“Oh, we don’t want anything. All we did was to encourage Peggie.”

“I think you were what you are so fond of, the gift-bringers of
opportunity. It is very dear and thoughtful of you, anyway, and I will
promise to talk it over with father and mother soon. That is what you
want me to do, isn’t it?”

Polly reached up, and gave her a quick, forcible hug, and kissed her
cheek, for answer. Jean watched her as she went down the creek path to
join the other girls at the swimming pool. Someway the thought would not
be banished, and she found herself considering it seriously. Peggie a
Calvert girl? Peggie, her little, wild ranch girl, to turn into one of
Miss Calvert’s pupils, at a “select academy for young ladies,” as the
fall circulars always said. Jean caught herself laughing softly at the
picture. Still, after all, she decided, it depended on Peggie.

Every day found the Chief and the Doctor over in the gulch, planning and
exploring. The girls did not accompany them. They felt that their share
in the labor was accomplished. It only remained to see results. So they
spent the last of the week having a good time on the ranch, and riding
around, bareheaded, merry, and just “full of fun,” as Mrs. Murray said,
comfortably.

“Land o’ rest, let them enjoy themselves while they can,” she would say,
standing at the low doorway, to watch them at play down in the lower
field below the corral. Don and Peggie were giving an exhibition of
trick-riding and Ted and Polly were trying to imitate them. “I wish
sometimes that I could turn loose hosts of young ones like these out
here in our beautiful land, and let them find the world as young as they
are. Yes, I know what Doctor Smith said, that that lot of bones yonder
had been there maybe ten million years. I don’t pretend to know those
things. Maybe the world was made in six days, and maybe it was made in
sixty million. The Lord knows, and that suffices. I never did hold with
this promiscuous poking after what doesn’t concern us. First thing we
know, an airship will bump an angel down, and then there’ll be more
excitement. The world is young still, bless it, and it’s fresh and green
and very beautiful, and I do love to see young things playing on it,
whether it’s lambs, or children, or rabbits. They’re a wonderful lot
alike.”

Jean listened, sitting on the lower step of the little porch, sewing on
a new dress for Peggie, that she needed for camping. It was a strong,
tan khaki, like the other girls wore, with a divided skirt, and middy
blouse. Someway, as she heard what her mother said, it seemed like the
propitious moment for Peggie, and she unfolded Polly’s plan.

Mrs. Murray listened in silence, her plain, motherly face a little bit
sad, though the smile did not leave her lips. Jean waited a minute when
she had finished, before she asked:

“Could you let her go, mother dear?”

“She’s but a bairn yet, Jeanie, lass.”

“She’s twelve, mother. I could take care of her.”

“She’s needing good schooling since they closed ours over at the Forks.
I’d have to let her go to town anyway this fall, and then she’d be with
strangers. You’d write often, wouldn’t you, Jeanie, and let me know just
how she took to it all?”

“Twice a week regularly, mother,” Jean promised.

“And you don’t think it would be harming her any, being with girls of
her own age that have all they want. We’re only plain people, Jean,
lass.”

“Oh, mother, the girls at Calvert are not what the world calls wealthy.
They seem so to us because we have so little in a way. We are rich in
land and stock, and love, but very little real cash. It’s only a
different scale of values, dear. What difference does it make whether
father gives one of us a yearling or a new pony for a birthday gift, and
down yonder, the Admiral gives Polly a new camera, or a necklace. It all
comes to the same thing. Peggie will hold her own among them all, dear,
and they will love her too. She is old enough to start in the first
year. If she does realize her hopes from the discovery in old Zed’s
gulch, I should let her go.”

Mrs. Murray sighed thoughtfully.

“I’ll ask father about it, Jeanie, to-night,” she said, finally, and
Jean knew the fight was won already, for whatever her mother advocated,
Mr. Murray unhesitatingly accepted.

Monday morning, even before the first long amber rays of sunlight
pierced the clouds over towards Bear Lodge, the girls were up and
dressed. The sheep wagon was ready, well-provisioned, and made
comfortable as could be for the trip. Behind it was the grub wagon,
loaded with the tents, stove, bedding, and heavier camp supplies. Mr.
Murray drove this wagon, and Jean or her mother took turns at the sheep
cart. It was quite a formidable pack-train that went slowly out by the
valley trail at sunrise. Sally Lost Moon stood in the doorway, with the
sheepdogs around her, waving good-bye with her apron till they passed
out of sight, and Don, too, waved a last salute. Archie and Neil were at
work up beyond the buttes, and they could not see them.

First came the sheep wagon, then a line of ponies and girl scouts, as
the Chief would have dubbed them. They looked it too, in their trim
khaki suits, and lightweight felt hats with turned-back brims. Every
brim bore the class pin of Calvert, the big C on a shield of deep
maroon, with silver quarterings.

They took the straight road west from the ranch, instead of turning off
over the bridge, or north towards the gulch.

“Isn’t this the way we go to the Alameda?” asked Sue.

“We pass the MacDowells’ place on our way to the mountains,” said
Peggie. “Father said we would let out a hail at them but we’d best not
stop, for it delays us. We want to reach a good place to camp to-night.”

“Does he know where he’s going?” asked Ted, interestedly. “I mean, does
he know all the roads and trails ahead?”

“I guess he does,” laughed Peggie. “He’s traveled them often enough.
Every year some of us go camping, you see, and we like to go over the
same trail.”

“Shall we meet bears?” asked Isabel, thoughtfully, but without any sign
of pleasurable anticipation.

“I hope so,” Peggie said, very cheerfully. “I like bear meat. I never
had a chance to shoot any, but Don did last year. He’s got the pelt now,
up in his room. You didn’t see his room, did you, girls? It’s the garret
over the main cabin. You have to climb up a ladder to get to it, and
even Don can’t stand upright, but he’s got all his pet things up there.”

“I’m finding out the queerest thing about life,” Isabel said, in a low
voice to Ruth. “The less you have, the more you love it.”

Ruth laughed, and nodded her head.

“I found that out long ago. I just had to.”

Isabel said no more. She was too busy thinking. The idea of a big boy
like Don being satisfied with an attic room, and of a girl like Peggie
being perfectly happy away out here in the hill country, puzzled her.
She felt that these two had found the secret of contentment someway.
Riding slowly along the up grade behind Peggie now, she caught herself
remembering an old fairy tale that had perplexed her when she was a
little girl, one about a king who sought the Land of Heart’s Content. He
had traveled to the kingdom of Yesterday first, and had found it to be
the Land of Heart’s Regret. Then he had gone to the far country of
To-morrow, and had found that it was the Land of Heart’s Desire. So,
finally, weary and travel-worn, he returned home, and found there in his
own land of To-day, the Heart’s Content he longed for. Isabel wondered
if perhaps the secret of happiness at the little Crossbar ranch was that
the Murrays had all found the land of Heart’s Content.

Up and up they rode, after passing Sandy’s ranch, a little speck far
below in the broad valley, then along a great tableland, covered with
scattered spruce, like little watch-towers. Once they saw an eagle
winging its course southward. It looked like a hawk at that distance.
Mr. Murray pointed out to them its nest in the top of a great old pine,
nearly dead, with only a few scattered branches towards the top that
showed green.

Every once in a while a gray squirrel or young rabbit would stand still
to watch their approach, then scud away into the underbrush in sudden
alarm. Sometimes they caught sight of deer, and the girls wondered at
their tameness.

“They’ve not been hunted much up this way,” Jean told them. “And you’re
not allowed to kill any that have no horns, so that protects the does
and the young. The open season lasts only from September fifteenth to
November fifteenth.”

When the shadows pointed north, a stop was made at the first brook they
came to, and lunch was spread.

“Oh, how good everything does taste!” exclaimed Polly.

“Wait till you’ve had bacon and corn cakes every morning for nearly a
week,” laughed Jean. “Father used to have an old herder working for him,
and he would say, ‘Bacon and corn cakes is the staff of existence for
any man in the open.’”

“I know what I’d love to do,” Polly exclaimed. “I’d like to start off
with a wagon like this, one that you could live in like gypsies, and
just go and go, and take any road you liked best, until you were tired
out.”

“But, goose, don’t you know that you’d never be tired?” said Jean. “We
are all gypsies at heart when it comes to the love of the open.”

“But I should like to chase summer,” went on Polly. “Just keep following
the trail of summer in a gypsy wagon. Yes, and I think one could, too.
Girls, let’s take a gypsy-wagon cruise next year.”

“Over the world, and under the world,
And back at the last to you,”

quoted Ruth.

“Now, girls, girls, fill up good, for we’ve a long stretch ahead, and no
lagging behind,” called out Mr. Murray, going over to look after the
ponies. “We want to make the Soup Bowl to-night.”

“What is the Soup Bowl?” asked Ted, as they all helped to pack up the
dishes after they had washed them in the brook.

“A place up in the hills that is sheltered, and has good feeding ground
for the horses,” Jean told her. “We’re to camp there to-night.”

Steadily ahead they went, with the wall of the mountains fronting them.
Not a break could they see in it, but Mr. Murray held as steadily to his
trail as a sailor does to his course, and the wall grew ever nearer.

“I can’t get used to the trees here,” said Ruth once. “There doesn’t
seem to be anything worth speaking of as you go higher excepting these
funny, straight, skinny-looking pines.”

“The trees grow smaller as you go higher,” Jean answered. “Even these
slender lodge-pole pines are shorter towards the heights. You can tell
the spruce, girls, because it looks blue at a distance. And both the
hemlock and Alpine fir love the banks of the trout brooks up here in the
hills. Oh, to-morrow we’ll get splendid trout.”

Once, as they rode, they came to a hilltop that overlooked the country
for miles and miles. Far away to the south, Peggie pointed out
Deercroft, just a little clump of match boxes, it looked, at that
distance. They could see homesteads too, here and there far below them,
and now and then a ranch.

“You can tell the difference if you look carefully,” Jean told them.
“Wait a minute. I have my field glasses.” She stopped the team, and
reached back into the locker for them, and the girls enjoyed looking
through them in turn. “The ranches all have corrals. And the homesteads
always have gardens. Do you see the difference?”

Once, as they passed along the road, they came to a river crossing, the
water cold and swift. Fording it was an old man with a thin, sunburnt
face, and long, sandy moustache. He was mounted on a calico broncho,
with a high Mexican saddle, and dressed in dingy yellow, with an old
felt hat tilted over his eyes. He turned in midstream to shade his eyes,
and look back at the camping-out cavalcade, and Mr. Murray let out a
long hail at him. He answered with a wave of his hand, and rode on.

“That’s Dave Penfield,” he told the girls, “best scout in Wyoming, not
barring out Sandy himself. He’s over seventy now, and when the President
himself came to the Big Horn country to hunt, if they didn’t look up old
Dave to steer him to the right spots. Dave said he didn’t mind a bit.
Always had heard the President was a very respectable and sociable sort
of man. That’s Dave all over.”

Sometimes wonderful black ravens swung lazily and majestically out of
the woods, or a brilliant orange tanager would flash out of the green
gloom across their path like a vivid bit of flame. The girls cried out
at the beauty of the mountain flowers, too. It seemed as though the
rougher the rocks became and the wilder the scenery, the more delicately
beautiful the flowers were.

“It is that way as far as you can go up the mountains,” Jean told them.
“Even at the highest altitudes they find tiny flowers growing. Eleven
thousand feet is what we call timber line, and after you pass that, you
will find these tiny flowers.”

“What is the tree that trembles all the time?” asked Ruth. “I read some
place that it grows out here.”

“Not as far north as we are. It is in Colorado. The aspen, you mean. It
is a very beautiful tree. They say it trembles because it is the wood
the Cross was made of. Oh, girls, look—there goes a goat.”

Just for a moment they caught a glimpse of him, a fleeing shadow along
the line of rocks far above their heads.

“By jiminetty, mother,” exclaimed Mr. Murray, drawing rein, regretfully,
“I wish I’d had my rifle ready for those horns.”

“I wouldn’t shoot like that, if I were you, Rob,” said his wife,
placidly. “Don’t it say in the Book that the hills are a refuge for the
wild goat? Do you suppose it was intended for that refuge to be
invaded?”

“But, mother,” protested Mr. Murray, boyishly, “did you get a good sight
at his horns? I’d have made old Sandy’s eyes shine if I’d taken those
back to him.”

Just a little before sunset, they reached the camping place. High up in
the hills it was, with a little lake, shut in by masses of fir and
spruce. They came to an open space overlooking it from the easterly
side, and were glad enough to slip from the saddles, and unpack for the
night. All about them, blending into the sky itself it seemed, were
distant ranges. A flock of frightened water birds flew up from the tall
reeds near the water edge, and off to the south Peggie pointed out some
wild ducks flying to the pond.

“I’ll build the fire for you, mother,” Mr. Murray said, “and leave you
to get supper, while the girls help me put up the tents and gather
spruce boughs for the beds.”

“Ruth, Isabel,” Polly called, as she stood up on a rock overlooking the
camping place. “Just come up here and see how glorious it all is. There
are some rocks over there that look like a great castle piled up against
the sunset.

“The splendour falls on castle walls,
And snowy summits old in story,
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.”

Ruth stopped short, breathless from her climb up to the rock.

“I forget the rest, something about the horns of Elfland and the purple
glens replying,” she said. “Isn’t it beautiful, Polly?”

[Illustration: “Isn’t it Beautiful, Polly?”]

Ted and Sue were busily unpacking bedding and tents, and refused to
notice the sunset until the practical things were attended to. Peggie
and her father looked after the horses. There was not much to do.
Saddles and bridles slipped off, they were led down to drink, then
hobbled, and left to munch the sweet, rich grass. The team horses had an
extra feed of oats besides. By the time the girls had watched the sun
tinge the last rim of the mountains with gold, smoke was curling up from
the camp stove, and there was fresh water on to boil. It was a study in
camp economy to watch Mrs. Murray make everything comfortable.

“Well, you see, child,” she said, when Isabel spoke of the ease with
which it was all done, “we’ve camped out every summer since the children
were old enough to enjoy it, and it’s second nature now. Don’t you want
to cut the ham?”

“I want to do anything to help,” Isabel said, heartily, so when the
others came down they found Lady Vanitas with a big apron tied around
her armpits, slicing ham deftly for the crowd.

There were two tents, and in front of each was a wide projecting canvas
roof besides, so that it seemed almost like an extra room. Mr. Murray
said he would take a blanket, and sleep in the sheep wagon, as he would
be more likely to hear the horses if they got into trouble. Mrs. Murray
took the younger ones under her wing, Peggie, Sue and Ted; and Jean
shared the other tent with Polly, Ruth and Isabel. There were no cots,
but each one had a fine bed of fresh cut spruce boughs and blankets
thrown over them.

After supper, some helped clean up the remains, and the rest gathered
firewood with Mr. Murray for a good blaze to keep off any inquisitive
wanderers of the night. When it finally started up, on the shore of the
lake, it was a brilliant spectacle. The flames sent out great flickering
banners that were reflected in the dark waters, the sparks flew up and
crackled, and the spruce sent out a rich, pungent fragrance.

“I never saw any one swing an axe as fast as Mr. Murray,” said Ted,
admiringly. “It just seems to throw itself at the tree, and every time
it lands in the same place.”

“They say up home he’s the best wood-cutter around,” Peggie replied,
proudly. Dearly did she love her tall, strong-limbed father. “We’d
better get a good pile for the night, to keep the fire going.”

So they worked, bearing wood and getting ready for the night, and when
all was done, there was no protest to an early turning in.

“What’s that queer smell?” asked Isabel, as she lay down on her couch of
spruce.

“That’s just the piney smell,” answered Polly, sleepily. “It’s very,
very healthful, Aunty Welcome says. We ought to get a lot of pine
needles and make pillows of them to take back home.”

“It doesn’t smell like pine,” Isabel insisted.

“Now, Isabel,” protested Ruth, already half asleep. “Don’t be fussy.”

“I’m not,” said poor Isabel, catching her breath, then she began to
sneeze. “I’m not fus-u-s-u-s-u-s-y-choo! choo! choo!”

“The train’s starting,” called Sue from the next tent. “All aboard!”

“I think you’re all horrid,” said Isabel, sitting up. “And I don’t
believe it is the piney smell at all. Oh, ker-choo!”

“Well, for the land o’ rest, what does ail the child,” exclaimed Mrs.
Murray, coming to the tent entrance in her nightgown.

“She can’t stand the piney smell,” began Ruth.

“Piney smell? That’s snuff,” laughed Mrs. Murray, sniffing suspiciously
around Isabel’s bed. “I did have a box of it in case we met a bear. Ever
since a brown bear waddled up to my back door one morning and stole some
fresh pies, I’ve had snuff by me in case of emergency. You can always
make a bear run with a good dash of snuff in his face. And somehow, the
box must have got mixed up in the blankets, and come uncovered. You poor
child. I’ll give you a fresh pair.”

Everybody laughed except Isabel; all she could do was sneeze. But
finally they got settled down for the night. Only once Polly started to
giggle.

“Now what?” demanded Isabel.

“It rhymes with Isabel.”

“What does?”

“Piney smell.”

“If I didn’t need my pillow, I’d throw it at you, Polly,” Isabel said,
drowsily. “Go to sleep.”

So at last peace settled down over the little camp, and only the
flickering firelight moved, except when Mr. Murray would rouse to put on
fresh wood, and take a look around to see that all was well.

“Let’s call this Camp Expectancy,” said Polly, the next morning, when
they were ready to move on. “It is our first base of action in a way,
and we ought to name every camp so as to remember it.”

So Camp Expectancy it was, and the next one they found was so delightful
that they decided it must be called Camp Delight. And the last camp was
Camp Regret. Three nights they spent here, in the great, silent
mountains. And three days of fishing in the clear mountain streams, and
enjoying the freshly-cooked trout afterwards. Every day they had game of
some sort, but no bear showed up, and the girls were secretly just as
well pleased. These were happy, restful days. At first the constant
riding in the saddle tired them in spite of their long practice, but the
three days rest at Camp Regret fitted them for the home trip.

“Oh, dear,” sighed Ted. “It’s just an aggravation staying such a little
while. I wish I were grown up. I think I’d take up a government claim,
and settle out here.”

“We’d welcome you,” Mr. Murray said heartily. “If ever a beautiful,
healthy State needed good settlers it’s our Wyoming.”

“And we’d come and visit you every summer, Ted,” promised Sue, happily.
“Wouldn’t it be fun?”

“It sounds like fun, but you’d find out there was work to be done before
you got through,” laughed Mr. Murray. “There’s a lot of Easterners come
out and take up claims, and think that’s the end of it. Free land, and
plenty of game. Then they find out the difference when they have to
prove up their land, and work it, and pay for irrigation. But it’s a
great hopper. It sure sifts the grain from the chaff. Only the people
with hope and grit and good intentions stick to their claims, and win
out.”

Once, away up in the timber belt, they came on a nester and his family,
building their first house. All the family were helping. There was the
wife up on a ladder, helping fit cross beams, and two boys were sawing
planks. Even a little three-year-old girl had her apron full of nails,
holding them up for her father to take what he needed.

“Coming along, eh, neighbor?” said Mr. Murray, and the stalwart young
homesteader smiled cheerfully.

“We’ll raise the pine tree on the chimney the first of September, God
willing!”

“That’s the spirit that’s making our western states grow like their own
pines,” said the old rancher, as they drove on, after a good drink of
fresh water at the spring near the new home. “The pioneer days are still
with us, mother, and for those who love the land of promise, the pillar
of fire and the cloud wait on the border to lead them forward. By
jiminetty, it makes the blood stir, even in my old veins, to hear that
hammer and saw in the woods.”

Another time they met a sheepman from Idaho, driving his flocks eastward
towards the fall markets. It was a strange sight. Hundreds of sheep
grazing as they went, with the dogs skirting the bunch, and the
grave-eyed, unsmiling herders staring at the campers.

“When did you start, friend?” called out Mr. Murray.

“Last of May,” came back the answer. “We’re going easy. They’ll be good
and fat by fall.”

“Isn’t that funny,” exclaimed Polly, when they drove on. “Four months to
go a few hundred miles.”

“They camp out when they come to a good feeding ground, and let the
flocks get all they want. Then by fall when they reach the market, or
where they weigh up, they are in fine condition and the sheepman has
saved his freightage on them. That’s the way they used to bring up
cattle over the Long Trail from Texas.”

At one homestead, with evenly irrigated fields all around it in a pretty
valley, there were two young girls out with a yoke of oxen, working over
their alfalfa crop. They turned and waved to the Murrays and the girls.

“That is Nell Wilson and her sister,” said Mrs. Murray. “They came from
Illinois last year, and took up a claim. The sister was real poorly, I
heard, but she’s picked up all right, and they’re doing well. Sandy went
over in the spring to see that they got along all right.”

“Are they all alone?” asked Ruth, wonderingly. “They look so young.”

“Oh, they’re both in the twenties. Yes, they’re alone. Nell was a
stenographer, I believe, and Grace, the sister, tried one thing after
another. Then they took what money they had, and came out here. A family
called Jimpson had taken that section, and couldn’t seem to make it pay.
They put in a lot of good farm implements too, and had the oxen, and a
horse, but they didn’t have any luck, they said. Well, I always contend
there’s no luck like pluck, and the Wilson girls came along, and bought
them out for a song, and they’ve had luck, but not without steady,
faithful work. Archie’s been over helping them now and then, and he says
Nell’s a dear girl.”

Polly looked up quickly at Jean, and saw that she was smiling, and she
wondered, for Polly sensed a story or a romance miles off, as the
Admiral said. Jean saw the eager inquiry in her glance, and nodded her
head.

“They are to be married when Archie finishes college,” she said.

“Oh, I’m glad,” cried Polly, and all the girls turned in their saddles,
and sent out a cheer back to the two in the field. “They’ll wonder what
that’s for, but we know,” she added, merrily.

Sunday they did not break camp at all, but stayed at their first
stopping place, Camp Expectancy, on the banks of the big lake. Mr.
Murray read service for them, and the girls enjoyed singing the old
familiar canticles out there in the green world. Monday night, just at
moonrise, the tired travelers turned down the road that led past old
Topnotch, and were glad enough to see the light in the cabin window, and
hear the dogs barking.

Sally Lost Moon stood in the doorway holding up a lamp, and smiling
broadly at them, and Archie and Neil took the ponies, while Don helped
unload.

“They’ve started digging over in the gulch,” Don found a chance to tell
Peggie. “Dr. Smith lives in Zed’s old shack now, and they say more
workmen are coming, and they’ll be there all summer.”

“Oh, Don, just after our old skeleton,” exclaimed Peggie. “Do you
remember how we laughed when we found it, and wondered what sort of a
bear had bones like that?”

“It would be there yet if Polly hadn’t known better.”

“I know it,” Peggie agreed. “The other girls say she’s the best starter
of things they ever saw. They say if I do go back east with them, I am
to belong to their outing club too. Polly’s the president. Won’t that be
fun?”

Don was very busy with the girth strap on Jinks, and she could not see
his face, but his voice sounded muffled and unwilling.

“It won’t be fun for us. Won’t you miss us, Peg?”

“Of course I will, goosie,” cried Peggie, “but it will help mother to
have me away, and I can get through school faster, Jean says, this way.”

“But you’ll stay down East there and teach, if you do.”

“No, I won’t, Don,” Peggie said, lovingly. “I’ll come home, sure. I love
Wyoming.”

The following day they all rode over to the gulch for the last time. The
Doctor was in his element, bossing a gang of workmen, and they met two
other famous men.

“What on earth did the Doctor call them, girls?” said Sue, on their way
back. “Paleo—paleo—”

“Paleontologists,” corrected Ruth, firmly. “Swallow first, and take a
deep breath, and you can say it, Sue.”

“Bone diggers,” added Ted, irreverently.

“More than that, Ted,” Jean interposed. “The other word is long, and
difficult to remember, but it means a lot. It comes from three Greek
words, and means a discourse on ancient life or beings on the earth.
That is more than bone digging, isn’t it?”

“I’m sorry,” Ted said, penitently. “But I know I’ll never remember the
other word.”

“Yes, you will, young lady,” cried Jean, laughingly, “because the very
first time you need discipline this term, I shall have you write it
fifty times.”

“Help, help!” called Ted, woefully, but the girls only laughed too.

Their vacation was up on Friday. Wednesday Mrs. Sandy had invited them
all over to the Alameda to dinner, and for a visit. They went in the
surrey, for horseback riding was beginning to feel pretty tiresome.

“Such a tanned lot of young savages,” exclaimed Miss Honoria, when she
saw them. “I declare, Polly, what will Welcome say when she sees your
freckles?”

“Just look at Lady Vanitas, and her tanned face and arms. That comes
from trouting without a hat. But we’re all glad to be tanned. Nobody
will believe we have had a wonderful vacation in the sunshine and open
air unless we can show tan.”

It was all fully arranged that day about the return trip. Jean was to
accompany the girls back, and Peggie would go when Miss Honoria
returned. Nothing was said definitely about what the precious skeleton
represented in a monetary way, but from the smile on Mrs. Sandy’s face
when it was spoken of, and Peggie’s bubbling happiness, the girls knew
that all trouble in that line had been wiped away. The greatest surprise
of all was when the Doctor came down to the home ranch, Thursday
afternoon. He looked in the best of health, and was fairly radiant over
the dinosaurus.

“I have maintained for years that the Jurassic drift took in this
section,” he said, happy as a boy with a new toy. “And this confirms me
positively. Polly, as a relief to my conscience, I wish to hand over
some of the spoils to the club that had sense enough to know prehistoric
bones when it saw them. Here is one hundred, and I knew you’d like it in
gold. Girls always do. Five twenty-dollar gold pieces, one for each of
you, and you shall be honorary members anyway of my own private
geological society when I start it.”

“Oh, Doctor Smith,” cried Polly, flushing warmly at the unexpectedness
of the gift. “We don’t deserve this.”

“Don’t you? Wouldn’t the dinosaurus be lying right in its rocky tomb
this minute if it hadn’t been for your discernment? You take it, child,
and add it with my best thanks and good wishes to the general fund of
the Polly Page Club.”

“Girls,” said Polly, later, when she broke the glad news to the rest.
“Let’s take a stateroom on the train from Chicago to Washington. We
deserve that much, anyway, and it was hard sleeping all the way on the
seats.”

“Hear, hear!” cried the girls, gaily.

The start was to be an early one, but even before breakfast, Friday
morning, a solemn and regretful procession wended its way from the guest
cabin down to the corral, and each girl took mournful leave of her pony.

“Jinks is crying, I know he is,” said Polly. “See him droop his precious
head. I wish I could take him back with me.”

“Don’t we all wish the same about our ponies?” Ted exclaimed. “Where can
I ever find another horse like Calico Bill. He’s salmon-pink and brown
and white, and his eyes are so expressive.”

The ponies did seem to know that something wrong was going on, for they
lifted their heads, and whinnied wistfully as the two teams drove away
over the road southward. The two older boys stood with Mrs. Murray,
waving, and beside them was Sally too, stolid, and bright-eyed, watching
them out of sight.

“Four weeks of solid fun,” said Ruth, as she leaned back. “Hasn’t it
been just splendid, girls?”

“You’ve blazed a good trail for others to follow, too,” Jean replied.
“Better a suit-case and a khaki dress than white ruffles and a parasol,
girls, on a board walk, if you’re out for health and a good time.”

“And a dinosaurus,” added Polly.

At the railroad station in Deercroft, they saw Jimmy.

“Thought I’d ride down to say good-bye,” he said, shaking hands with
each. “Don’t forget what you promised about our mission, will you? They
say we can have the old Fork schoolhouse to use if we want it, and we’re
going to try to buy it in, and make a chapel out of it. I hope you’ll
help out.”

“We will, truly, we will,” the girls promised.

“Here she comes through the cut,” called out Don, holding the ponies.
“Good-bye all!”

Mr. Murray held Jean close in his arms.

“God bless you, my lass,” he said, gently. “Take good care of Peggie for
us this winter. Good-bye, girls. Come again when you’re up this way.”

Jimmie had sprung to his own saddle, and his black pony was doing a
waltz step all its own when the train pulled in. He swung his hat off in
one last salute, and let the bridle slacken, and the last the girls saw
of him, he was going like a rocket down the road towards the town,
singing at the top of his lungs, his old favorite,

“Guide me, Oh, Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land!”

Polly leaned back from the window, her eyes wet with tears.

“Isn’t it a darling land?” she said, warmly.

“It’s Heart’s Content to us who love it,” Jean replied, and the girls
knew well what she meant.

Continue Reading

A DAY AT THE ALAMEDA

The next day they rode over again to the Alameda ranch to see the
Chief’s horses of which he was so proud. By this time, as Ted said, they
were so accustomed to riding horseback that it seemed queer to walk
around.

“Ted, that sounds for all the world like some old sailor who didn’t like
dry land,” said Sue. “Anybody’d think, to hear you, that you were born
and bred on a ranch.”

“Wish I had been,” Ted flung back over her shoulder, as she rode past.
“Peggie, will you change places with me? You go back to school, and let
me stay here.”

“Have to ask mother that,” Peggie replied, shaking her head.

“Have you asked her, yet, really, Peggie?” said Polly, who was next to
her in the file of horses. But Peggie shook her head.

“Not yet. I mustn’t. It isn’t my turn. Don comes next.”

But Polly made up her mind privately, to ask Jean. If the skeleton
turned out to be worth anything, the Doctor would be the first to
purchase it for the Institute at Washington, and Peggie was the finder,
so the money would be hers and the Chief’s, as it was his property. The
Admiral always said that Polly was the most rapid builder of air castles
he had ever known, but that never disconcerted nor discouraged Polly.

It was the first time since their arrival at the ranch that Jean had let
them ride without her, but with the extra harvesters that week, she felt
she must help her mother. Sally Lost Moon was willing, but slow and a
poor cook.

“Peggie knows the way over as well if not better than I do,” Jean had
said, that morning. “Take the trip easily, girls. I think you’ll be all
right.”

Peggie and Polly rode together, and the other girls behind them. It was
a merry cavalcade of demoiselles, as Mrs. Sandy put it, that trotted up
to the Alameda that morning. After they had turned the ponies into the
corral, the whole day lay before them. They went far up the back road
with Sandy himself, first of all, about a mile, until they came to the
horse range. Carefully selected, it was, out of all the land he owned,
chosen for shelter and good water and grass. Here he had built a great
corral in the center, with feed-sheds for winter. Here grazed fifty
beautiful mares, horses that had never felt a saddle touch their glossy
arched backs.

“What do you think of them?” asked the Chief, proudly, as he rested one
foot on a fence rail, and looked at the lot with loving eyes. “They are
my special hobby, girls. I always liked a fine horse even when I was a
youngster, but I never saw any to compare with my beauties over yonder.
I keep weeding them out, and breaking in the ones that don’t seem fit
for the royal family, as it were. They all know me, too. Watch.” He put
his fingers to his lips and blew a shrill, far-reaching whistle. Every
neck lifted at the call, heads were turned towards him, and some
whinnied anxiously. Then one broke into a run, and the rest followed.

“Oh, oh, just look at them come,” cried Polly, enthusiastically. “See
their manes float on the wind, and how light they are.”

“Many a time I’ve come across a drove of them feeding on a good plain,
and have watched until my own horse would give the alarm to them, and
off they’d all go like that. It was hard catching them, and hard
breaking them afterwards, but those that did, got horses with the speed
of the wind in their hoofs, and the strength of the hills in their
muscles. The desert breed is the only one that matches it, I’m
thinking.”

“Who takes care of them?” asked Ted.

“The boys. I’ve five of them. I used to try to do it all myself, but
they fare better and so do I, if I keep away. Besides, there’s plenty to
be doing down at the home ranch. Over yonder, a few miles more, are the
cattle, and some more of the boys. There’s about five hundred head. I
used to have a larger herd, in the old Texan trail days, but there are
few real ranches left now. They’re all stockmen and farmers. I’ve got
some of the last long-horned steers in the county, now, out yonder, and
when I settled here, they were all Texans. I sold some youngsters to a
farmer in Iowa, I remember, for yoke work, and he wrote back after he’d
got them home, that he didn’t know what to do, because their horns were
so wide he couldn’t get them into the barn. ‘Widen your barn door, you
nester,’ I wrote him. ‘Don’t cut the horns. Cut the barn.’ And he did
too.” The Chief laughed heartily over the recollection, and they all
went back to where Mrs. Sandy was watching for them on the broad, cosy
porch.

“Do just what you want to, girls,” she told them. “Go where you feel
like going, and play that it is home for a day. Ted, I saw you looking
longingly at the collection of hunting knives and guns in the long
dining-room. Why don’t you take the girls in to see them? They are all
trophies of Sandy’s Indian campaigns,” she added with pride.

There seemed to be no kitchen to speak of, in sight. The long sunny room
at the back of the house was a great living-room and dining-room too.
There was a huge rock fireplace that reached clear up to the rafters,
and the walls were decorated with all sorts of treasures of the Chief.
On one side were specimens of Indian beadwork. There were hunting bags
made of leather with beautifully-beaded fronts, the beads woven in
solidly in threads instead of being fastened to the cloth or leather.
There were hunting jackets, heavily fringed and beaded richly, with elk
teeth and eagle feathers, and bear claws fastened to them ornamentally.

“Here is the headdress of old Red Buck, a Sioux Chief,” Sandy told them.
He held it up so they could see that it was as tall as he was, a great
cascade of eagle feathers. “The day I saw him in battle, he wore nothing
but this, and another strip about his waist, but he was so heavily
painted that he looked fully dressed. The others turned their war ponies
about, and ran at the finish, when they saw the cavalry closing in on
them, but he stood his ground, and stood yelling defiance at us, and
shooting arrows until a bullet caught him, and he fell back from his
pony.”

“What did the pony do?” asked Polly.

“Stood over his master, with lowered head, and whinnied to him. We found
the two of them that way, and I stopped to take the headdress. He was a
brave old lad, that redskin. I honor him for standing his ground alone
with a whole troop of United States cavalry swooping down on him. That
elk head up yonder is the biggest ever shot in our section. He used to
come down and fairly taunt us early settlers with his royal kingship of
these hills and valleys. I got him one moonlight night up at Ghost Lake,
about seven miles above here, after nearly a week’s stalking.”

“Aren’t the moccasins pretty?” Isabel exclaimed, quick to notice
anything fanciful. There must have been twenty or thirty pairs dangling
from the wall on nails.

“Those there,” said the Chief smiling, “belong to my wife. They are her
special reward of merit from the women folks in the tribes, twenty or
thirty years ago, and more, I guess. Some of them were given to me
before we were married. They’d come around and find me building this
cabin, and I’d tell them just what it was for, and they’d go away and
think about it. Then after a time, one would return, and bring me
something for a peace offering to my bride. Mostly they brought
moccasins, and they are certainly worked fine, those honeymoon
slippers.”

“Isn’t this a papoose case?” asked Ruth.

“Yes. An Indian girl named Laughing Flower left that here one day. Her
baby was pretty sick, I guess, and she didn’t like the way the old women
and medicine men fussed over it, so she brought it over here to Diantha.
It couldn’t walk, and they had told her at the camp it never would, that
it was bewitched, and all that sort of nonsense. When I came home I
found Di sitting in front of the fire there, with the little brown thing
on her lap. She’d loosened its clothes, and bathed it, and rubbed its
limbs with sweet-oil, and hung the papoose case up on the wall. After a
week, Laughing Flower went back, and her boy could walk. Little two year
old he was, with eyes like coffee beans. That’s why they loved Diantha,
I guess, and let us stay here in the valley. We always treated them
decent.”

“Now, tell us about all these guns, please,” begged Sue. “I didn’t know
there were so many kinds.”

“Didn’t you? I’ve used everything from an old flint lock that belonged
to Zed, down to this lightweight Winchester. These breech-loaders came
in use along in the Indian wars, when I was a little lad about five, I
guess. Here’s a carbine that went through the Civil War. It belonged to
an old pard I had, back in my first days here; Tennessee Clayborne, he
was called, but mostly Tennessee. He was with Custer to the finish.”

The Chief was silent after that, whistling softly to himself as he
fingered the old gun lovingly.

“I wish I could shoot,” said Polly. “Not to kill anything but just to
hit something.”

“Do you? Well, I shouldn’t wonder if that could be gratified.” Sandy
lifted down a lightweight Winchester. “We’ll go out, and see which one
has the steadiest hand, and surest eye.”

“Polly has, I’m sure,” said Isabel. “I don’t want to shoot, please. I
don’t like even to touch anything that will go off.”

So out they went, and the Chief put up a piece of paper on a tree near
the wagon-sheds, not a very big piece either.

“Now, you girl sharpshooters,” he laughed, stepping back, “let’s see
what sort of scouts you’d make.”

Ted tried her luck first, and came within an inch of the paper, then Sue
shot, and clipped the bark a couple of inches below the mark. Polly was
laughing and eager, and managed to take a corner off the white square,
but it was Ruth, quiet, steady-handed Grandma, as the girls called her,
with spectacles and all, who lifted the rifle to her shoulder, aimed and
sighted slowly, and put her bullet where it should go.

“There’s one place where you can’t trust to luck,” said Sandy. “That’s
when you’re leveling a gun. You’ve got to think and figure too. Ruth’s
got a calculating eye, I should say. We had one little shaver with us,
in the Shoshone uprising, with only one eye, and he could pick off any
brave’s topknot you’d prefer. We’ll throw some pieces of wood into the
creek, and see if you can hit them on the go. That’s good practice.”

“Peggie, you didn’t try,” called Polly, as Peggie came around the corner
of the house.

“I went over to the cook-shack to see Fun.”

“Fun?”

“Ah Fun, the cook. He came from California with Sandy a long time ago.
His name is Ah Fun, and he never smiles. Isn’t that queer? I always go
over and speak to him.”

“Oh, I want to see him too,” Polly said, so after the target practice, a
formal call was paid to the cook-cabin, and there they found Ah Fun, a
thin old Chinaman, with a face so yellow it looked like a dry maple
leaf.

“Better not let the Doctor see him,” said Ruth, in her comical way,
without a smile, when they came away. “He’ll gather him up for a fossil
specimen sure as shooting.”

The girls strolled down towards the corral, for it was getting late, and
the ride lay before them. Polly had lingered before a picture that hung
over the old chest of drawers in Mrs. Sandy’s bedroom. It was a portrait
of Miss Honoria, taken in the seventies, a wreath of flowers on her
head, and a low-necked dress with a fichu of white Spanish lace about
her shoulders. Very girlish and lovely it looked. Mrs. Sandy lingered
too.

“Does she look at all like that now?” she asked, softly. “That was my
favorite picture.”

Polly felt a sudden impulse, and spoke on the spur of it.

“No, she doesn’t look at all that way. She’s quite old looking, and very
gray, and she hardly ever smiles. Mrs. Sandy, please forgive me, but
what is the trouble?”

“Trouble, dear child?” A little flush stole to Diantha’s cheek, and she
bent over to smooth the linen pillow shams, already without a wrinkle.
“What can you mean?”

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Polly went on, “but I have always
wished I had a sister all my very own, and here you have one, and—and—”

“And what, Polly?”

“And you never see each other, or write, or anything. Was it—was the
trouble so bad as all that? I don’t see how anything could ever be that
way with sisters.”

“Don’t you, dear? Perhaps you will some day.” Diantha paused, and
thought for a minute. They could hear the laughter of the girls mingling
with the Chief’s deep bass down at the corral as they got the ponies
ready for the home trip. “It is so far back now that only in the hearts
of a few old families lie the pain and the rancor of the old war days.
My father, Colonel Calvert, never forgave the North. He believed the
government should have purchased the slaves and then freed them under
special act of Congress, and forbidden slave-holding thereafter. But he
held it as unnatural and unlawful for brother to lift hand against
brother, or to take away property rights without restitution. This is
all so far back that you cannot get even the shadow of its intensity,
and I am glad you cannot, but my childhood days were filled with it.
Honoria has all the Calvert pride, but I am afraid I had not, for,
dearie, I married a Northerner, and love him better than all of
Virginia, and so—” she made a hopeless little gesture with her slim,
pretty hands, “so Honoria has never forgiven me, nor will she accept
Sandy, no, not after thirty-five years. Honoria is very consistent.” She
finished with a sigh.

“Polly, are you ready to go?” called Peggie outside.

“Coming,” said Polly. She reached over, and put her arms around Mrs.
Sandy’s throat, and pressed her cheek to hers. “I’m sorry for both of
you, dear Mrs. Sandy,” she whispered. “Have you tried writing to her?”

“She never replies to my letters. I am afraid there’s nothing that can
be done, Polly child.”

“I know what I’d do,” said Polly, resolutely, as she reached for her
hat. “I’d just get on a train, and go down home, and go straight up to
the Hall, and when I saw her, I’d hug her before she knew what was
happening, and I’d shake her too, a little bit, and kiss her, and say,
‘Hello, Honoria.’ That’s what I’d do.”

Mrs. Sandy laughed heartily at the mental picture of her accosting the
stately Honoria in such a fashion after thirty-five years, but Polly was
serious in her intent.

“It would settle the whole thing, Mrs. Sandy, dear, I am sure it would,
and grandfather and I’d be delighted to have you and the Chief at
Glenwood with us too.”

“Oh, Polly, do you realize what the trip would cost? Sandy would have to
sell off some of his thoroughbreds, wouldn’t he?”

“Why not take the money that will come from the bones in Zed’s gulch,
and make it a second honeymoon trip?” asked Polly. “Don’t laugh at me,
please. I know it’s only another air-castle, but let’s keep hoping.”

“All right, child,” promised Mrs. Sandy, as she kissed her good-bye.
“I’ll keep hoping.”

Polly did not tell the girls that she had learned what the secret
trouble was between the two sisters. Someway, she could not. It seemed
such a personal, tender secret that, after all, concerned only the two,
and Sandy himself. Dear, stalwart, dauntless Chief Sandy! Polly wondered
whether Miss Honoria knew him well. It did not seem as if any one who
had met him, and come under the spell of that genial, generous spirit,
could fail to sense its charm and worth. She could almost shut her eyes,
and imagine him going up the broad stone steps at the Hall, and bowing
over Miss Honoria’s hand. No, come to think of it, he wouldn’t bow, not
the Chief. He was no courtly Southerner like the Admiral. More likely he
would smile that broad sunny smile of his that seemed to take in all
creation, and gripping Honoria’s hand in his, he would probably kiss her
willy-nilly, in brotherly fashion, and say:

“Well, sister, how goes the world?”

Then what would the mistress of the Hall do? Polly smiled to herself.
Would she faint, or would she gasp and laugh, or would she order the
Northern invader from the sacred precincts of Calvert Hall? What would
she do? Polly could hardly wait to find out. Someway, she decided,
someway, it must be arranged for the meeting to happen.

“Does any one feel like taking a camping trip next week?” asked Mr.
Murray, Monday night. “I won’t have the time to spare now girls, but if
mother says so, we’ll start out a week from to-day, with a good team,
and go camping.”

“Why, father, you’ll have to take more than one team, won’t you?” said
Mrs. Murray. “I’ll leave Sally to cook for the boys, and go too.”

“Couldn’t we ride horseback?” Polly put in.

“I was figuring on a grub wagon that would take the tents too, and then
fix up that old sheep wagon, for the girls to ride in. We can put four
cross seats in that, mother, and the boxes and cupboards would come in
handy. I’m afraid they’d get tired out riding.”

“If we did, we could hitch the ponies on behind, and get into the wagon,
the way the pack-trains do. We’d love to ride, wouldn’t we, girls?”

“Listen to them,” exclaimed Jean. “Wouldn’t you think, to hear them
talk, that they’d been in a saddle since they could walk. I’d let them
ride, father. We’ll have the fun of teasing them after a good
twenty-mile jolt over the mountain roads.”

“Monday then, and an early start. Archie and Neil will look after
things, and it will do us good too, won’t it, mother?”

“The biggest lad of the lot,” said Mrs. Murray, tenderly, as she watched
the tall, angular figure start off down towards the sheds. “He’ll enjoy
it vastly.”

“It seems too wonderful to be true,” said Isabel, in her fervent way.
“Will we be right in the mountains, then, Miss Jean?”

“‘In the heart of the ancient woods,’” quoted Jean, blithely. “Have you
ever slept out of doors on a bed of spruce boughs, with nothing around
you but the mountains and the sky? Mother says it comes the nearest to
feeling the everlasting arms around one of anything in this life that
she’s found.”

“You’re rocked in Mother Nature’s cradle, bairnies, then,” smiled Mrs.
Murray. “Just like all her younglings of the wilds. And good it is for
you, too. I feel the summer’s missed its best reward when we fail to
have our little camp outing after the haying.”

“I used to think they never bothered over hay on ranches,” said Ted,
suddenly. “I thought they just let all the cattle out to range.”

“So they did in the old range days, when it was free. But we small
ranchers have to take care of ourselves a good deal.”

“I don’t understand this,” exclaimed Polly, who had been reading over
her last letter from the Admiral. “Grandfather says here that he did
think he might get out this way, but business keeps him near Washington
all summer, so he is sending the Doctor under safe convoy. What is that,
‘safe convoy’?”

“Special delivery, receipt guaranteed,” spoke up Don, who was making a
cage for a couple of ’coons he had caught.

“That letter was mailed a week ago, Polly,” Ruth said. “And you know the
Doctor will be here by Wednesday.”

“But under ‘safe convoy,’” repeated Polly. “Grandfather never uses too
many words. What does he mean by that ‘convoy.’ A convoy is a ship that
conducts another ship, isn’t it?”

“Right-O,” sang out Ted, teasingly. “I think he will come straight
through by express. And you told Jimmie to be on the watch for him
around Deercroft, to make him feel at home, and the Chief is to meet him
Wednesday.”

“Maybe it doesn’t mean anything, but I ‘s’pects it strongly,’” Polly
replied, using Aunty Welcome’s favorite phrase of incredulity. “I don’t
believe he is coming alone, but whom could he bring way out here?”

“Let’s ride down and meet him too,” Jean said. “I’m very anxious to meet
this wonderful Doctor of yours, anyway. We could take the surrey, and
Peggie or I will drive. Then he will have a double surprise to find you
girls waiting as well as the Chief.”

“Oh, could we?” cried the girls together.

So it happened that unconsciously they planned a participation in the
Doctor’s surprise. Wednesday morning they all packed into the surrey,
and drove away over the mountain road to Deercroft. They were early, and
Jean put the horses up at the local livery stable, while they walked
around and saw what they could of the town.

“It isn’t one bit like what I expected to see,” Ruth declared. “Here are
electric lights, paved streets, and everything orderly and shipshape.”

“Well, what did you expect?” asked Peggie, wonderingly.

“I don’t know exactly. A Western town always seems to mean just a row of
frame houses, and a lot of saloons—”

“We haven’t any,” said Peggie, simply. “The women voted no license.”

“I told you this was the girl State, didn’t I?” Jean added, merrily. “We
keep it swept clean.”

“Grandfather always says that girls don’t have to consider such things,”
said Polly, thoughtfully.

“He wouldn’t if he lived out here. Our girls study their political
economy and civil government, and it trains them for the issues they
will meet later. Hark, that’s the express. I hear it whistle. Let’s
hurry.”

“There’s the Chief, and Mrs. Sandy too, at the station,” said Sue, who
was ahead. “They are waving to us.”

“How are you, chickens?” called Mrs. Sandy cheerily to them, as they
came to the platform. “I had to do some town shopping, so we killed two
birds with one stone. Looks like we might have a thunder shower, doesn’t
it?”

“That’s blowing to the north, Di,” the Chief put in, placidly. “You can
see its shiny lining now.”

The express came swinging down the track, and stopped. Few passengers
got off at Deercroft, so it was not hard to find the Doctor. Third coach
to the last, they saw him, as the porter put the stool down for him to
alight. He turned at their quick call, and waved his hand, but all his
attention was centered on some one who was coming down the steps, some
one rather tall, and dressed in silver gray, even to the long gray veil
that was draped about her hat.

And suddenly, in one flash of recognition, the girls knew the Doctor’s
surprise.

But Mrs. Sandy did not. There she stood, smiling happily at the pleasure
of the girls, supremely unconscious and unprepared. She saw the tall,
slender, stately old lady behind the figure of the Doctor, but did not
associate her with him, not until the girls surrounded both, and were
kissed and shaken by the hand. It was Polly who put her arm around the
figure in gray, and led her where Mrs. Sandy stood, her Chief beside
her.

“Here she is, Miss Honoria,” Polly said, with shining eyes that filled
with quick tears as the two faced each other after more than thirty-five
years. Honoria held out both hands. Her voice trembled with emotion.

“Sister,” was all she could say, “sister, I had to come, too.”

Mrs. Sandy opened her arms, and took the stately figure close to her
heart, sobbing happily.

“Let’s get the horses,” said Ted in an inspired moment, and deftly she
diverted attention from the main group, leading the way over to the
stable with the Doctor, the girls all following.

The Doctor looked like a boy who had achieved some long-cherished
ambition. He kept taking off his traveling cap, and smiling around from
face to face, then putting the cap on again and adjusting his
eyeglasses.

“God bless my heart, but this is a glorious reunion, isn’t it, girls?”
he said.

“Wait until you see the skeleton, the—the bones, the fossil remains,”
said Polly.

“Polly, I think that was all hatched up by you, as a wise and clever
scheme to drag me into this part of Wyoming,” he replied.

“But I sent you a specimen—”

“I’ll wait until I see where you took the specimen from.”

“Wasn’t it a good specimen?”

“Fine, undoubtedly. So was the surrounding rock.” The Doctor laughed
heartily at the puzzled expression on Polly’s face. “If it is exactly as
represented, we’ll give you a degree, Polly, an honorary degree, if we
have to invent one to fit the occasion. We can’t call you a Fellow
Geologist, can we? This will necessitate Congress striking off a special
bronze medal for a new sisterhood of geologists. How would that do?”

“It is a very large skeleton, I think,” Polly answered. “And truly,
Doctor, we girls have nothing to do with it. Peggie Murray found it long
ago. We are only the—the—”

“Promoters of the science,” finished the Doctor. “I see. Dear, dear,
what a tanned lot of young Indians you are. Isn’t it a splendid country?
I felt several inches taller as soon as I breathed the air of this
altitude.”

Jean said the team was ready to start now, so they all climbed in, and
drove back to the station.

“This is my first experience with a three-seated surrey behind a pair of
bronchos,” exclaimed the Doctor. “They use them on the tourist
expeditions through the National Park, though, come to think of it. Have
you been over there yet?”

“Not this time,” said Ruth, frankly. “We haven’t money enough. But we’re
having a perfectly splendid time at the ranch, and next week we’re going
camping.”

“Just for a few days to give them a taste of it,” Jean added over her
shoulder. “We start back for Virginia on our fourth week.”

“You, too, Miss Jean?” asked Polly. She had not expected that Miss
Murray would go back with them.

“Isn’t this a personally-conducted tour?” asked Jean, smiling. “Of
course, I shall see you safe and sound at home.”

When they drove up to the station, there sat Mrs. Sandy and Miss Calvert
holding each other’s hands, and talking in low tones, making up for the
silence of all the years.

Sandy had a quiet, comprehensive, half-humorous smile on his face, and
as he shook hands with the Doctor, he said in an undertone:

“Lee has surrendered.”

The Doctor nodded his head in quick appreciation.

“It’s high time,” he answered. But the girls held bravely to the
traditions of Calvert Hall. Never by smile or look or word did they show
that they knew of the reconciliation. Not then. Not until the drive home
was finished, and they had waved a temporary good-bye to the MacDowells
and the Doctor and Miss Calvert at the creek crossing, did they dare to
give vent to their feelings, but when they finally reached their own
private quarters, Ted tossed her cap high in the air, and Polly began to
dance a Virginia reel with Sue.

“Well, they’ve made it up, that’s sure,” said Ruth, meditatively, “but
what puzzles me is, what the trouble was in the first place.”

“I know,” cried Polly, pausing to take breath. “I’ve known for days. And
I couldn’t tell. But as long as it’s all over, I will. Let’s sit down in
front of the fire, and comb our hair and talk.”

The nights had been cool ever since their arrival, and a few blazing
spruce knots just took the shiver off, as Sue said, so they sat around
its blaze now, clad in kimonos, combing out their hair, as girls love to
do, and talking. And the old love-tale of Diantha Calvert and her
Northern sweetheart gained a fresh tenderness and charm, told there in
the dancing firelight. When Polly had finished, there was a long
silence, while blue eyes and gray eyes and brown stared dreamily at the
fire. Then Ruth said softly:

“‘Many waters cannot quench love.’”

“Did you hear what Mrs. Sandy said, when I asked her if she was
surprised?” Polly reached over and gave a big log a friendly poke so
that it rolled over and became a blazing ledge. “She said, with _such_ a
look, you know, all glad and proud and kind of relieved too: ‘No, honey,
not very much. I always knew it would happen some day. Love will bring
to us that which is ours if we trust.’ Isn’t that beautiful to remember?
Love will bring to us that which is ours, if we trust.”

“Well, I’m trusting that those bones will turn out to be a perfect and
well-preserved dinosaur,” proclaimed Sue, rising, “and it’s getting
late.”

They left the cabin-door open now, with the screen door fastened, and
long after the rest were asleep, Ruth lay wide awake thinking. A head
raised cautiously from Polly’s pillow.

“Ruth, are you asleep?”

“No,” came back a whisper.

“Aren’t you glad for poor dear old Honoria?”

“So glad I can’t sleep. Think of them to-night, talking and making up
for thirty-five years of lonesomeness.”

“Bet a cookie she’d never have thought of coming out here if we hadn’t
blazed the way. Good-night.”

Ruth’s whisper came back softly, and there was silence in the
guest-cabin.

It had been arranged with the Chief that the girls were to wait at the
Crossbar until they heard from him, and not attempt making the trip over
to the gulch unless they were sure he and the Doctor would be there to
meet them.

It was hard being patient, but after their morning dip down at the
swimming place, Jean kept them busy getting the sheep wagon ready for
the camping trip. They took clean papers, and tacked them evenly inside
the cupboards and lockers under the seats, and made a regular inventory
of everything they would need. Ruth took charge of this, and would check
off each article as it went into the wagon.

The heavy things, such as tents, bedding, cooking utensils, and so on,
were to follow in what Don called the grub wagon.

Sally Lost Moon was to stay at the ranch and do the cooking and
housework for the boys, and it had been decided to let the girls ride
their ponies. When one of them grew tired, she could ride in the wagon.
The girls were delighted at this prospect. Of all the outdoor pleasures
they had enjoyed at the ranch, the riding came first of all. There was
something so exhilarating and healthful about it. The trouting was good
sport and plenty of fun, and the long tramps they took nearly every day
out to the Indian graves, or over old Topnotch’s twisted trails, or far
down along the river to the lower rapids, each held a special enjoyment
all its own, but there was something so novel and exciting about the
pony riding that it excelled all other sports.

Polly had been delighted too, the first time that Jinks whinnied to her,
and showed plainly he felt on friendly terms. By the third week, all of
the ponies were quite willing to respond to the petting and overtures of
friendship that had been lavished on them.

“I do really believe they all know us by now,” Ted had declared, that
morning. “Don let me help rub Shoofly down yesterday morning, and he
understood everything I said to him.”

“Who, Don?” queried Sue, in a muffled tone, as she knelt by a locker,
and dug down under towels and mosquito netting to be sure that she had
not packed the kodak at the very bottom.

“No, goose. The pony. I wish I could take him back home. I shall miss
him so, and the riding, and oh—I don’t know what to call it—the wideness
of everything.”

“Glorious expanse, she means, Sue,” Isabel explained. “Where did you
pack my hand mirror?”

“It is not packed, Lady Vanitas,” retorted Sue, firmly. “We are to wash
at pools and river brinks, and other handy wet spots en route, and
you’ll just have to peek over at yourself like Narcissus when you want
to see how you look.”

“Don’t you worry, Isabel,” Polly called cheerily. “I saw Peggie drop a
three-cornered looking glass in the box with the dishes. We’ll nail it
up on a tree. Oh, girls, I wish we had some lightweight rifles, not to
shoot with—”

“Not shoot with?” repeated Ted, indignantly. “For what, then?”

“Practice and defence,” replied Polly. “We won’t want to stay around the
camp every minute, and if we stray off any distance, some wild animal
might appear, and where would we be?”

“‘Algy met a bear,
The bear was bulgy.
And the bulge was Algy,’”

quoted Sue solemnly.

“Sue, I’m surprised,” laughed Polly. “Wouldn’t I love to see Miss
Calvert’s face if she heard that.”

“She would laugh, too—now.” Sue made a significant pause. “Here they
come. I heard the wheels on the bridge over the creek.”

So then they all left the sheep wagon, and their camp outfitting, to go
and greet the visitors from the Alameda. There was a tinge of color in
Miss Honoria’s delicate cheeks, and she looked around at her girls with
a happy smile that spoke volumes.

“I wanted her to rest after her long journey,” Mrs. Sandy said,
tenderly, “but she said she’d rather come over. Sister, you’d better sit
up on the stoop where it’s cool.”

Honoria smiled proudly, and obeyed.

“She has mothered me every minute since I arrived, Mrs. Murray,” she
exclaimed. “And the girls all know well how self-reliant I am.”

“Don’t you love to be mothered, though?” asked Polly, eagerly. “I do.”

“We all do,” declared Mrs. Sandy. “And the oldest ones are always the
ones that need it most.”

“Who wants to ride with me?” called out the Chief. “Room for three
here.”

Isabel, Jean, and Ruth took advantage of the surrey, but the rest of the
girls were glad to wait while Don saddled up the ponies for them.

“The Doctor left us at the Forks back yonder,” said Sandy, driving on
with a salute to the group up on the low stoop. “He’s riding too. Said
he never sat in a vehicle when he could get a saddle and anything
beneath it with four legs. The Fork trail is a good short cut to the
Gulch, and he can’t miss the way. We’ll find him sitting on old Zed’s
doorstep just like a forest foundling.”

The girls laughed heartily at the picture. It was a splendid day. The
wind rippled the leaves of the cottonwoods along the river, and sent
their bits of down sailing away into the air. The far-off mountain range
to the northwest seemed incredibly near, and for once its trailing robes
of violet and gray were laid aside. Every peak stood out distinctly.
Down in the valley Archie was hammering at a new bar gate, and every
blow seemed to rouse a hundred echoes from old Topnotch’s crags and
precipices.

“We haven’t brought anything to dig with,” said Ruth, in her quiet, dry
way. “There are some old picks at the shack, I think. We can use those
if the Doctor wants us to help him.”

“Old-time poll picks, those are,” the Chief explained. “Zed used to go
around, digging one prospecting hole after another. It’s a wonder he
never found the skeleton himself.”

“I think it must have been covered up until the big storm,” Peggie
called from her saddle. “Don and I have been down through the valley
lots and lots of times, and we’d never noticed that great ledge of rock
before. We would surely have seen it.”

It was past noon when they finally reached the gulch, and just as the
Chief had predicted, they found the Doctor sitting on the doorstep,
smoking his short brier-wood very peacefully, and reading from a pocket
edition of some favorite author. It was characteristic of him to be so
occupied just on the brink of a discovery.

Peggie led the way up to the cavern, and all, even Sandy himself,
followed after her. The horses were hobbled in Zed’s little clearing,
and the surrey team was hitched to a tree. Behind Peggie trod the
Doctor, then Polly and Jean, last of all, the Chief, and his three
scouts, as he called them. It was an important and solemn occasion, and
even the irrepressible Ted and Sue walked soberly, and refrained from
any giggles. They all realized fully just what the discovery would mean
if it turned out to be authentic and valuable. The Murrays were far from
being even well-to-do. There were too many mouths to feed, too many
school bills to cover. And to Peggie belonged the credit of first
discovery. Some share of the reward must be hers too, they knew.

“If any old deer or buffalo has dared to crawl ’way into that cave to
die,” said Polly, as they all paused to rest at one place, “I shall give
up all hope of founding the Sisters of the Geological Society, Doctor.”

“I think it’s a tidy little mastodon myself,” Ted remarked. “Nobody’s
asked me what my opinion is, but I’m sure it’s a mastodon.”

“Mastodons are very ordinary, Ted,” Ruth said. “They’ve been found even
in New York State.”

“Truly? Dead ones?” cried Ted, and they all laughed at her earnestness.

“What other kind do you suppose, Edwina?” asked the Doctor, severely. “A
mastodon was dug up at Newburg, along in the forties.”

But here Peggie started ahead once more, so conversation was checked.
Only once the Doctor spoke.

“It will be difficult getting it out.”

That gave Polly courage. Surely, unless there was good ground for hope,
he would not have said that. The Doctor was very quiet, very
non-committal, she knew. She could hardly wait to get to the cave, and
watch him. She was sure she could tell right away, whether or not there
was hope, just from the expression of his face.

“There it is,” said Peggie finally, with a little throb of happy pride
in her tone, as she stopped short and pointed to the great jaw-like
opening a few yards away. “It’s inside there.”

Instead of going into the cave at once, as the girls expected him to do,
the Doctor paused at the opening to look at the rock formation of the
ledge.

“It is limestone, isn’t it?” asked Polly. “And it is certainly blue.
They call this other kind of rock that crumbles, shale.”

“It’s good stuff,” the Doctor said approvingly. “Very good stuff. Now,
let us go in and look at Exhibit A.”

There was no need of a light. The cave, as the girls called it, was
really nothing but the great space left under the ledge by the tearing
away of a mass of the earth. Peggie scrambled over the rough ground
until she came to the precious bones, then stopped.

“There they are!” she cried.

Every one was wonderfully silent now. The Doctor’s face was grave too,
but behind his eyeglasses his gray eyes looked keen and bright. He laid
his cap to one side, and sat down deliberately beside the remains. And
he “handled them, and dandled them,” as Polly said afterwards, as
happily and contentedly as a mother with a brand-new baby.

“Want a pick Doctor?” called Sandy. “I can give you a hand too, if you
want to dig.”

“I wouldn’t disturb it for worlds,” returned the Doctor, “I want some of
my colleagues to see it, just like that. I believe we’ve struck into the
perfect Jurassic drift, unsuspected in this section entirely.”

“But what is it?” asked Polly, anxiously.

“Just what you said it was, Polly, child. A part of the vertebræ of a
dinosaurus, I feel sure. It is not a ninety-foot one, by any means, but
if we can judge from this section here, it must be at least thirty to
thirty-five feet long—long enough to justify a good leap in the dark if
you saw one coming at you.”

“How long has it been there, do you suppose?” asked Sue, in an awed
tone. It seemed so wonderful to think that the discovery was really
authentic. All along, they had half-questioned it, except Ruth and
Polly.

“Sue, we don’t know,” returned the Doctor, musingly, as he took a
penknife out of his pocket, and scraped at the bone. “We’re trying to
find out just such things as that, we old chaps who prowl around the
face of the earth, and try to win Mother Nature’s confidence. It may be
ten million years ago, some say ten thousand. When we start and figure
how long it takes for the Colorado River to eat its way through even an
inch deeper in the Grand Canyon, we begin to realize how many years it
must have taken for it to cut down all the way from the top.”

“It makes me feel dizzy,” said Ted, emphatically.

“It has made wiser heads than yours feel dizzy, child,” returned the
Doctor, gently. “And we are only children that He holds in His hand.
When I begin to feel pretty good, and well satisfied with myself, I go
away quietly, and read over that chapter in Job that has more geological
data in it than anything I know of.”

“I know,” said Polly. “‘Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of
the earth?’”

“Exactly. Where were we? It takes all the conceit out of me when I
consider a bit. Mr. MacDowell, this gulch belongs to you, doesn’t it?”

“I’m sorry to say it does,” said the Chief, fervently. “I just wish that
poor old Zed were here to claim his own. He put all his love into this
old strip of land for years, and it never opened its heart to him.”

“Purpose in all things,” protested the old Doctor, cheerily. “Maybe he
would have buried the cash receipts in a tin can, for all we know. You
have a better use for them. I want to send a telegram as soon as we can
get to a station. We’ll get some more authority on the remains than my
own, and then come to terms. How’s that? In the meantime, let’s go back
to dinner, for I am starved.”

In the ride back, the Doctor and Ruth went ahead, for Ruth was fairly
bursting with questions she wanted to ask. Polly and Peggie were last of
all. Sue had changed places with Ruth, and was in the surrey, letting
Ruth ride her pony.

“Sandy says I’m to have a third of whatever he gets,” Peggie said, her
cheeks pink with excitement. “He says one third goes to me for finding
it, and one third to Mrs. Sandy, and one third for him.”

“Oh, Peg, I’m so glad for you,” cried Polly, joyfully. “Will you come to
school with us? Will you, Peggie? We’d take you into our club, and have
the best times.”

Peggie smiled radiantly.

“I will if mother says so,” she promised.

Continue Reading

THE SHEEP CAMP

He was very tall, this stranger who seemed to have risen out of the
gulch as if by magic. He was broad of shoulder, and his curly gray hair
grew fully three inches long. So did his gray imperial, and above it was
a gray moustache, with curly ends. His corduroy trousers were tucked
into the tops of high boots, and his shirt was open at the throat, with
a dark blue silk handkerchief knotted around it. Over one shoulder he
carried a pickaxe, and his other hand held a bunch of wild flowers.

He smiled down at Polly’s startled face, and shifted the wild flowers,
so he could catch hold of Jinks’ bridle, and steady him.

“Well, girl, where did you come from?” he demanded, in a deep, mellow
voice.

“Virginia,” answered Polly, mechanically.

“Have you now? Pretty long ride, wasn’t it?” His blue eyes twinkled with
appreciation.

[Illustration: “Where Did You Come From?” He Demanded]

“I just heard the ponies when they crossed the bridge. Where’s the
rest?”

“They rode on. The deer frightened Jinks, and he began to back with me,
and rear. Here they come.”

“Hello, Mr. Sandy,” cried Jean when she was within hearing. “So that’s
why you deserted us, Polly.”

“I thought he was Zed,” laughed Polly, flushing a little. “He seemed to
come up out of the gulch so suddenly. And—and—”

“Go on, finish it,” said Sandy, with relish. “And I looked rough enough
to be most anybody, even old Zed. Well, well, let’s look this bunch
over, Jeanie. I haven’t seen so many Eastern rosebuds in many a day.
When will you be over home? My wife’s getting mighty anxious to see
these girls from Calvert.”

“They must learn to ride well first.”

“Ride well? Don’t they ride well. Seems to me they look pretty well set
up in their saddles. You’d better come over this week.”

“What are you doing way over here?” asked Jean.

“Blessed if I know yet myself, Jean.” He took off his broad-brimmed hat,
and pushed back his gray curls doubtfully. “Bought out Zed’s claim down
here in the gulch some time ago, more from sentiment than anything.
Seemed too bad to see his shack and belongings taken up by strangers who
wouldn’t know how much Zed thought of it all. And once in a while I ride
over, and look around. It’s a mighty pretty spot he chose. Ever been
down?”

“No, I haven’t. We hardly ever ride this way. It’s generally down
towards town, along the old Topnotch road.”

“Where are you bound for now?”

“Over to where the boys are with the sheep. I wanted the girls to see
the herder’s wagon, and how he lives. So I hardly think we had better
stop to-day, but don’t be surprised if you find our trail around there
before the week is up.”

“Come along any time. You’ll find a queer lot of things down here one
way and another. Zed was a friend of mine, and I used to see a good deal
of him about twenty years ago and more, when we and Wyoming were kind of
young together. Zed was terribly well informed. There’s a lot of his
books down there yet. Go in the old shack and look at them, girls, when
you come over. The door’s always unlocked. You can’t miss the way if you
follow the path from the bridge here. It leads up to the door.”

“Isn’t he nice,” exclaimed Polly, as they rode on. “He looks like the
pictures of the old-time scouts, doesn’t he?”

“He was an old-time scout himself, and he’s never got over it,” laughed
Jean. “Father says he’s a regular tenderfoot at ranching even now. But I
love the Alameda place where he lives. It’s more like a mountain lodge,
girls, and he’s planted flowers everywhere. He built it before he went
back east after Miss Diantha, and carted rose slips and flower seeds all
the way from Cheyenne and even from Omaha. Every time he’d go south with
a bunch of cattle, father says, he’d bring back something for her to
make her western home more like the one she had left. We’ll go over
there next week. How do you stand the riding to-day? Is it easier?”

“I wish I could sit on a pillow, that’s all,” said Ted, frankly.

“You’ll be used to it in a few days, and not notice it at all. Polly,
how are you? Is Jinks behaving himself now?”

“Oh, yes, indeed,” cried Polly, looking back over her shoulder. “It was
the deer frightened him. Girls, did I tell you, I saw a real deer back
at the bridge. Brown, with a regular Molly Cottontail like a rabbit. You
know what I mean, Miss Jean.”

“There are lots of them in the foothills around here. We don’t see them
near home except when father finds his early vegetables nipped, but I
often find their hoof prints down by the creek where they go to drink at
night. Now comes a good level stretch, girls. Try and let the ponies out
a little.”

“They don’t go a bit like the horses down East, do they?” Sue said. “I
mean at home the horses on the river drive seem to either trot or buckle
under, and their feet look bunched.”

“It’s because they have a shorter stride, and seem to go quicker,” Jean
replied. “Now then, hang on, girls, and hold with your knees for your
first gallop.”

Ginger, Jean’s pony, took the lead, and as he went by, the other ponies
took his tracks. Before them spread the tableland in long sweeps of
undulating range. The gray green of sage brush blended into distant
waves of purple distance.

“See that line of hills yonder,” said Peggie, as they drew rein at last.
She leaned forward in the saddle, and pointed to the hazy distances
northwest, where the clouds seemed to trail their gray shadows along the
hilltops. “From here the ground gets higher and more broken, doesn’t it,
Jeanie? That’s Bear Lodge yonder. It looks as if it were part of the
sky. The sheep are just about a mile from here. We can soon see the camp
now.”

“Why is it so far from the ranch?” asked Polly.

“They travel about hunting the best feed. One spot lasts only a little
while, and they keep traveling. Father says some herders will start
their flocks in the spring, clear from the coast, and drive through the
summer as far east as Idaho and Wyoming. They feed and fatten, and by
the time they reach the market they are fat and ready to shear or kill.
I like the sheep raising better than the cattle.”

“There’s a dog,” exclaimed Ted suddenly, pointing to the ridge before
them, and sure enough a dog stood on it, head up, and staring.

“It’s Siwash,” gasped Peggie, out of breath after her gallop. “And he
knows us, Jean, I declare.”

Siwash came to meet them in very friendly fashion. He was large and
shaggy, with beautifully pointed ears, and a splendid ruff around his
head.

“He used to be a puppy over at the ranch,” Jean explained. “You should
have seen Peggie trying to raise the litter after the mother was killed
in a wolf fight three winters ago. Mrs. Sandy has one of them now, and
Siwash and his brother are here. Look, girls, yonder’s the camp.”

“Why, the wagon looks like a prairie schooner,” cried Ruth. It did, too,
just like the pictures of the old-time wagons the pioneers crossed the
plains in. It stood off to one side, with a cook-stove near it,
conveniently set up. There was no tent. The herder did not notice them
until they were near. He had a lamb on his lap, feeding it.

“Don’t stop, Randy,” Jean called. “We just rode over to look at the
camp. The boys got home yesterday. I think they’ll be over soon to see
you. What’s the matter with the little one?”

“Its mother won’t claim it,” Randy said, grinning, somewhat shy at
finding himself the center of attention.

The girls slipped off their mounts, and hobbled them under Jean’s
direction. It was their first attempt, but even Peggie said they had
caught on to the trick of it very well.

Then they took a look around the camp. Not that there was much to see.
Only the far-reached mass of sheep, their heads bent low to crop the
grass, and only their backs visible like a lot of gray rocks. And as
they munched, they moved forward, ever so little at a time, but still
steadily forward.

“May we look in your wagon too, Randy?” asked Jean. “I want to show the
girls how completely it is fitted up for a movable camp home.”

“Sure,” Randy told them, cheerfully. “Walk right in.”

“The door is up here in front, girls.” Jean led the way, and the girls
climbed up in front. There was canvas stretched over bows to make a
roof, and in the back end a window was cut. It was quite comfortable,
with its bunk, and cupboard, and boxes. Randy had colored pictures
tacked up here and there, and some old magazines lay in one corner on
top of a pair of gray blankets.

“It makes me think of a gypsy wagon,” Polly said. “I saw one of them
once at a camp up near Richmond. Aunt Evelyn lives there, you know,
girls, and grandfather took me to visit her when I was about ten. The
wagon was like this, only inside it was hung with yellow silk curtains,
and lace over it.”

“These seats lift up like lockers,” said Peggie. “In the winter, they
have a stove in here too, and it’s cosy, but pretty lonely. Sometimes
there’s months and months when the herders never see a human being.”

“The boys are sure to ride over soon, Randy,” Jean promised when they
were ready to leave on the home journey. “I’ll tell them to bring some
stuff to read.”

“I’m out of baking powder, too,” Randy remarked, casually. “Can’t make
decent pancakes without baking powder.”

“All right, I’ll remember,” laughed Jean, and they rode away.

“I should think he’d be terribly lonesome,” Ted said.

[Illustration: They Never Forgot That Picture]

“Guess he is. Some herders get so they talk to the sheep, and I think
all of them talk to their dogs. Maybe that’s why sheepdogs seem to know
more than others.”

The girls were rather quiet on the ride back. They never forgot that
picture, the lonely wagon, and far-reaching stone-gray masses of
nibbling sheep, and Randy with the lamb on his lap, nursing it as
tenderly as any baby. Day after day, for weeks at a time, he never saw
any human being, nothing alive but Siwash and the other dog, and the
sheep. Still he looked cheery, and contented, they thought, remembering
Randy’s face, tanned and sunburnt to a brick red, and his close-shut
mouth that had smiled down at the deserted lamb.

“It is much better for him here than if he were thirty or fifty miles
out in the hills as some of the herders are,” said Jean. “I mustn’t
forget to send over his baking powder.”

They arrived at the ranch about noon, and after dinner, Peggie agreed to
show them her room and its treasures.

“It used to be Jeanie’s too, but now she’s away from home, I have it all
to myself.”

It was the smaller bedroom at the large cabin. There were three all
told, opening off the main sitting room. Peggie’s looked southeast over
the valley. There was no plaster on the walls. There were just plain
boards nailed on the uprights evenly. The ceiling was of boards too. At
the small windows Peggie had hung short, pretty curtains of
cream-colored cheese-cloth hemstitched by her own self. There was a deal
table placed at a good angle near the best window light, and it served
as a desk as well.

“Neil made that for me,” Peggie said with pride. “He can carve out of
wood beautifully. It shuts up and locks, and I can put books along the
top.”

“What books do you like, Peggie?” asked Polly, trying to read the
titles.

“I like tales of travel, true tales I mean, and stories about children
that live in the cities down East.”

“How funny that is. And we always want to read stories of girls who live
’way out West.”

“Neil made me my chairs too, and the washstand. He had to be careful
about the chairs, but the stand is made of two soap boxes nailed
together, and the top one has three partitions in it. I use it for a
kind of bureau too. And the flounce is made from an old bed-quilt cover
mother didn’t want any more. I ripped it up, and took out the lining,
and made it all myself.”

“It’s dandy, Peggie,” Ruth exclaimed. “I think your pelts are the best
of all though, and the Indian things.”

“The pelts should be put away in the summer time, but I like to see them
around. They’re mostly gray wolf, and wild cat. Archie and Neil caught
enough ’coons one year to make mother a whole coat, didn’t they, Jeanie?
They were so proud over it that they wanted her to wear it all the
time.”

“This skirt of doeskin belonged to Sally Lost Moon, girls,” said Jean,
lifting down a beautifully fringed and beaded garment from the wall.
“She beaded it herself when she was a girl. Feel how soft it is, like
chamois skin. She told us she had moccasins to match, and a little short
jacket.”

“How long it must have taken her to make it.”

“Yes, but when it was done, she had a spring suit that would last years,
and always be in style in the hunting lands. Where is your skirt that
Archie burnt for you, Peg?”

Peggie smiled, and found it, a little riding skirt of buckskin, fringed
around the bottom, branded all over its surface with strange signs and
symbols.

“Those are the brands of every outfit we know up here,” Jean told them.
“Isn’t it a queer idea? Here is our brand, see—Cross and bar. This is
Sandy’s, Double A.”

The girls thought it the most unique kind of ornamentation they had ever
seen. The deep-toned brown of the burnt brands showed up richly against
the cream of the buckskin.

“Mail for the girls,” called Don’s voice outside the window. “Peters
brought it on his way east.”

“Jimmy Peters from Deercroft?” asked Jean, catching the letters.
“Where’s he bound for?”

“Home,” replied Don, and went on.

“He’s one of the boys we saw at the station the day we came. I like him
because he’s trying hard to get ahead. Sandy’s helping him.”

“He says the Bishop’s riding this way; says they’re going to meet him
Saturday up past Badger Lake, and ride back with him. Mother thinks
he’ll be here Sunday perhaps.”

“Is that the real Bishop?” asked Polly, eagerly.

“Indeed, we think he’s very real,” laughed Jean. “Wait till you see him.
Let’s see who gets letters. Two for Polly, one for Sue and Ruth,
post-cards for Isabel—oh, what a lot of them—and Ted too.”

“They’re mostly from the girls at the Hall,” Ted cried. “Isn’t that nice
of them to remember us right away. I love to be missed, don’t you, Miss
Jean?”

Polly had opened her letters, and was skimming them over. All at once
she gave a quick exclamation.

“Girls,” she cried. “Who do you think is coming?”

“Miss Calvert,” Ruth said, soberly.

“Aunty Welcome,” Sue put in.

“You’ll never guess,” Polly declared delightedly. “And he won’t be so
very far away from us, about ninety miles. He’s come up to dig for bones
and things for the Museum, you know.”

“But, Polly, please, we don’t know!” protested Ted. “Tell us, can’t
you?”

“Dr. Penrhyn Smith, our blessed old smuggler from Lost Island.
Grandfather says here that the Doctor starts the first of next week. He
says he will follow the trail of the dinosaur to the Jurassic Beds.”

“Last time he was hunting a polypus,” said Ruth.

“A dinosaur is an animal ninety feet long,” Sue added, thoughtfully.
“Once they found one as small as a bantam.”

“Susan Randolph Warner,” exclaimed Polly, “you behave. We must respect
any dinosaur, no matter what its size, if it brings the Doctor this way.
He told grandfather he’d look in at us some day to be sure we were all
right.”

“Sandy would love to meet him,” Jean said. “And so would father, and all
of us.”

“I wonder where on earth the Jurassic Beds are,” Ruth meditated.

“At last,” cried Isabel, happily, “there’s one thing Grandma doesn’t
know.”

“Well, Grandma’ll find out,” Ruth retorted, decidedly, “if I have to dig
with the Doctor after prehistoric bones and things.”

Peggie was listening eagerly, the suit of buckskin half slipping from
her lap, her chin on her hand.

“I know where there are old bones, great big ones, and they’re not
cattle or buffaloes, either. They look like spools joined together.”

“Vertebræ,” Polly suggested. “Where, Peggie?”

“Don and I found them once long ago when we were hunting down in Lost
Chance Gully.”

“Wouldn’t it be queer,” Jean said, dreamily, her hands clasped behind
her head, “wouldn’t it be queer, girls, if poor old Zed spent his life
hunting for gold, and something better than gold lay under his feet.
We’ll go over and take a look at it, and then write to your Doctor Man,
Polly.”

“Dear me,” exclaimed Ted, in her comical way, “I was just beginning to
feel vacationized, and now maybe we’ll be following a mission before we
know it, and have to pitch in and work hard digging out old bones
seventeen million years old. Polly, you’re always starting something.”

But Polly only laughed.

“What would be the good of starting things if I didn’t have you girls to
fall back on when it comes to finishing up,” she said.

“Leave it to Polly to make you feel all comfy and willing,” Sue put in.
“Never mind, Polly, we will stick by you even if you take to shaking up
Jurassic Beds, won’t we, girls?”

And the whole Ranch Club said “Aye.”

“The best rainbow trout we get around here are in Lost Chance Gulch,”
remarked Mrs. Murray, the following morning at the breakfast table, and
she looked up in surprise as a ripple of mirth went round the table.

“It isn’t anything, motherie,” Jean said, “only that we were all
thinking of the Gulch, and then you spoke of it. Do you want some of the
trout to-day?”

“It would make a fine mess for supper, Jeanie.”

“Then we’ll go over and get some. I think we’d better take the surrey,
girls, instead of riding. We can drive up pretty close to the cabin, and
it will be easier.”

About an hour later, they started off, with a well-filled lunch basket,
and smaller ones for trout.

“I hope we’ll catch more prehistoric bones than fish,” said Sue,
happily.

“That’s right, hoodoo us from the start,” Ted protested. “Hunt for your
old bones. I shall fish diligently.”

It was pleasant riding in the old surrey, with Peanuts and Clip going at
a lively pace over the road. They had to take a different route from the
riding trail in order to find a way down into the gulch, but an hour’s
journey brought them to the cabin where old Zed had lived and died.
Through the deep gulch ran the creek, over rocks, and half-sunken trees
here and there. Cottonwoods grew in the cool stretch of land between the
high walls on either side of limestone, and blue shale, and sandstone.
You could trace the course of the creek by the cottonwoods, and already
their seeds had spread air-planes of down, and were turned into wind
travelers.

As the land struck sharply into the towering palisades of rock, the
pines grew thickly wherever they could find a foothold. Down in the
gulch the bright sunlight never struck with full force. Both its heat
and radiance were tempered by the green gloom of the spruces, and the
great ferns that grew everywhere.

The door of the little low cabin was unlocked, and the girls entered it
with curious feelings of respect, almost as if it had been a shrine.

There were three windows, and many shelves around the one room. A rock
fireplace was built into the wall. There was an old pipe on the shelf
above it, and a Bible bound in calf, the back stitched in place where it
had been torn. Polly opened it, and read aloud the inscription on the
fly leaf.

“Zeddidiah Reed, from his grandmother, Comfort Annabel Reed, on his
twentieth birthday.”

“What a darling name,” exclaimed Isabel, “Comfort Annabel! Can’t you see
her, girls, with a little lace cap on, and silk half mitts.”

“Silk half mitts. What would a pioneer’s wife be doing with silk half
mitts,” said Ruth, teasingly. “That’s like the miner in Arizona, whose
Boston cousin sent him fur ear muffs for a Christmas present.”

“No squabbling allowed down here,” protested Polly, seriously. “Here are
all his books, girls. Wasn’t he careful of them? Here’s a pickaxe, too.”

“That’s an old-time poll pick,” said Jean, examining it. “You don’t find
them any more. We’d better take it for investigations while we’re on the
hunt for bones.”

“These upturned rocks that seem to stand on end,” Ruth said, when they
left the cabin and started along the bed of the creek, “look like
Stonehenge, or the rocks in the Garden of the Gods, don’t they, Miss
Jean?”

“I think they may have come from the same era, or system,” answered
Jean. “It is in the limestone, I know, that the remains of mammals were
first discovered.”

“Sandstone and shales,” Ruth said. “It’s all the same age, but the
systems are different.”

“How do you know so much about it?” asked Ted, suspiciously. “Have you
been looking it up while we slept, grandma?”

“I love rocks,” Ruth replied, with her slow, whimsical smile, and little
uplift of her chin as she looked through her glasses at them. “I think
they are the first primer of the world, where we get our A B C’s, don’t
you, Miss Jean?”

“Oh, won’t the Doctor have a good time prowling around with Ruth,” Polly
exclaimed. She clambered ahead of the rest, trying to keep up with
Peggie, who went like a mountain goat from rock to rock, and up the
steep inclines.

“How about trout?” called Sue. “Who said trout?”

“We’ll have time on our way back. How far is it, Peg?” called Miss
Murray.

“Most there now,” came back Peggie’s voice far up among the rocks.

At last they caught up with her. It was directly under a great,
beetle-browed crag, with mats of ferns overhanging from its edges like
lace. There had been a wash-out, or some sort of natural force that had
carried away with it a mass of the hillside at this point. The great
roots were exposed, with earth clinging to them still, and vegetation
trying to get a foothold. But Peggie did not stop. As soon as she caught
sight of the girls coming through the undergrowth towards her, she
turned and dipped into the cavernous mouth of the great earth opening.

“This is what I meant looked like big bone spools,” she told them. “Don
and I found them.”

Not a word did any of the others speak, but stood in the great opening,
and stared at Peggie’s find. Still imbedded in the earth and rock they
were, but they certainly were bones, and most gigantic bones at that.
Polly and Ruth went up, and examined them closely, and so did Miss
Murray.

“It isn’t a dinosaur,” Ruth said, judiciously. “It’s a something else.”

“I should say it was,” cried Sue. “If that’s only part of its backbone,
I should not like to have had it chase me over the range. I think it’s a
cave bear.”

“That is certainly a section of vertebræ, Polly,” Jean said. “How
strange it is to stand and think how many years ago it was alive.”

“They are very valuable,” Polly replied.

“Leave it to Polly to find the red silk thread that leads to the pot of
gold,” laughed Ted. “I know that’s a mixed-up metaphor, but who cares.
Let’s go back and fish now, with peaceful minds, and send word to the
Doctor that we have a specimen worth thousands.”

“We?” Sue repeated. “Goose! This belongs to Chief Sandy, and Peggie gets
the reward for finding it. Isn’t that so, Miss Jean?”

Jean laughed, but said nothing. It really seemed so strange and unreal
to her that she could not think directly what the end would be. She had
known, of course, that Wyoming was the only known haunt of the
prehistoric dinosaur in America, and had been duly proud of it. Also,
she had always rather objected to New York walking away with the best
specimen found, but Jean was State proud, as her mother said, and
believed that the spoils belonged to the original owners on a strict
basis of equity.

“We’ll ride over to the Alameda to-morrow, girls,” she said, “and tell
Mrs. Sandy and the Chief, as Sue calls him. That’s a splendid name for
him too, by the way, Sue. He is the Chief, and we’ll call him that.”

“Chief Scout,” suggested Polly.

“Yes. It will please him, too. Now let’s go back to the creek, and start
our trouting.”

But Polly hesitated.

“I wish I could send the Doctor just a little piece of the bone, so he’d
know for sure.”

“Send him some of the rock around it, and just a splinter,” suggested
Ruth.

It was hard knocking pieces off, but they finally got a small bit of the
blue shale, and a piece of the smaller bone, only a splinter, but enough
to show an expert eye what was there.

Then back they climbed down the steep walls into the gulch again, and
rested for a while in the cabin, as it had been a long and tiresome
climb through the underbrush, and over the high rocks. Polly took a
pail, and went after water, clear and cold from the spring they could
hear falling back of the cabin. Old Zed had chosen his home site with an
eye to comfort and convenience. After a good rest, and something to eat
from the lunch basket, they started out to try their luck for the first
time as trouters.

Peggie was chief instructor now, and enjoyed her office thoroughly. She
showed the girls how to select their flies from the store Don had put in
the baskets for them.

“I heard him talking about the flies, and I thought he meant real ones
for bait,” said Isabel soberly, as she adjusted a neat little red
snapper of a fly. “I haven’t as much respect for trout as I had if
they’re taken in by these things.”

“You’ll respect them when you eat them,” said Peggie. “Come ’way out on
the rocks the way I do, just as far as you can. Why don’t you take off
your shoes and stockings, Polly? You may get a wetting before we’re
through. I always do. Sue, don’t stand still. You have to troll, and
move up-stream. Look at me.”

The girls watched her as she cast in, and played the fly lightly,
choosing the best spots, and making her way from rock to rock up-stream
slowly. Pretty soon they were deep into the delicious art of trolling,
and each one at once developed individual taste in the proper way to
catch trout. Polly was a regular gamester, like Peggie. With Ted
following her, she chose the sun-dappled spots where the water was
rather quiet, to cast in. Finally, Jean drew out the first trout, and
they all went back to take a look at it, for, as Ruth said, in her dry
way, it was a good idea always to know what you were fishing for, and
how it looked.

After that, the basket began to grow heavier. Ruth and Jean took turns
carrying it, slung in sportsmanlike fashion over their shoulders by a
strap, and Peggie and Polly proved the best fishers. Ted and Sue were
too fond of the rough water, although they also landed several trout.

After a time they went back to the cabin, and took the lunch basket out
on the rustic log-bench Zed had made in front of his spring. It seemed
as though a lunch had never tasted better than that one, Polly declared,
and the conversation was a lively mixture of rainbow-trout tactics and
the right way to dig out a possible dinosaur from its antediluvian
resting place.

“Do you suppose it has been there since the flood?” asked Ruth,
earnestly.

“Now, Ruth, I object,” protested Ted, eating her last cucumber and
lettuce sandwich with relish. “Of course it’s been here since the flood,
and long before. Let’s ask the Doctor when he comes when it is correct
to hold a birthday anniversary for a dinosaur.”

“What mystic law,
Oh, Dinosaur,
Has cast you at our very door?”

said Polly, slowly picking out her rhyme, and Ted picked it up joyously.

“Give us thy paw,
Dear Dinosaur,
We’ll give it a friendly rub,—”

“Rub?” queried Ruth.

“I want it to rhyme with club. Now, you’ve knocked it all out of my
head, and it’s so hard for me to get an inspiration.” Ted retired into a
melancholy reverie, and kept repeating under her breath,
“Rub-tub-club-dub-hub.”

“Time to go, girls,” Jean said. “Wait a minute. Let’s gather some wild
flowers, and put in a tumbler on old Zed’s table.”

It was a beautiful tribute they left to the old man’s memory, wild
roses, and ferns, and wild convolvulus mingling with the rich dark green
of spruce boughs over the mantel. The only sounds in the gulch were the
songs of birds, and the falling water. It was so beautiful and quiet,
the girls could hardly bear to break the charm by leaving, but the sun
was slipping westward, and it was a long trip back.

“We’ll ride over to the ranch to-morrow, and tell the Chief,” said Jean,
and on that promise they went back, each in her own way building a
day-dream out of the bones of the gulch treasure.

Mrs. Murray did not think it wise to take the long ride the following
day.

“Better rest up a wee bit, or you’ll be tired out before you’ve played,”
she told them. “Jeanie had better get out the tent, and see if it needs
any mending, if you’re going camping. I think there’s a rent on one
side.”

“We can’t all mend tents,” said Ruth, when the tent was carried out of
the shed, and unfolded. “Suppose Miss Jean and I mend this, and the rest
write home letters. I heard Archie say he had to drive to Deercroft in
the morning, so that would be a good chance to send them off. Sue, you
put in a post-card for Annie May, will you? I promised her we’d send
one.”

“I think that Isabel ought to take our pictures with her kodak, and then
we’d send them in, and have them printed on post-cards, and let them be
scattered among all interested and loving friends,” said Polly.

“Oh, wait, girls, and I’ll do it,” cried Isabel. “The light is fine this
morning.”

So away she went after her kodak, and the morning was spent taking
snap-shots. Isabel was photographer in chief, and she was especially
good on composition, and getting attractive backgrounds.

Don led Jinks out, and three of the girls mounted him, and were taken
with heads up, all laughing. Then Peggie was persuaded to put on her
buckskin suit and sombrero, and with a rifle in her hand she made a
splendid picture of a ranch girl. Then Prometheus was led forth, and
obligingly stood up and begged with his head coaxingly on one side.

“Just as if he was begging for the Bishop’s dinner, the rogue,” said
Peggie.

Sally Lost Moon, after much explaining and pleading, finally came out of
the cook-house, and was stationed where the buttes loomed up behind her,
and everything looked unsettled and primeval, Isabel said impressively.
Then just as all was set, Isabel levelled the camera, and Sally turned
and ran as if a bear were at her heels.

“Shoot, shoot,” was all she would say, and shook her head vigorously.
“No shoot me; no shoot me!”

“Oh, Sally, please,” begged Polly. “Look, I’ll give you my silver
bracelet if you’ll let us take you.”

She drew off the bracelet from her own wrist, and Sally looked at it
longingly, jingling its silver bangles happily. Finally, she put it on
her wrist, and went out to try again.

“I’ll stand near, Sally,” called Mrs. Murray encouragingly, and so,
surrounded by reserve force, Sally faced the camera for the first time
in her life.

“Won’t it be fun to show her a real picture of herself?” laughed Polly,
when it was over.

“I don’t know whether it will or not,” Jean answered. “The Indians are
so suspicious and superstitious that they are easily scared. She might
think you were making bad medicine for her. Two years ago, some tourists
took snap-shots of some Shoshone babies, and the squaws grabbed the
camera, and smashed it. They said the white women were drawing out the
spirits, and shutting them up in the black box to carry away with them.”

“Oooo!” cried Sue, “‘An’ the gobble’uns will get you if you don’t watch
out!’”

“Now, all of you group around Miss Jean, and look happy,” ordered
Isabel, so the last picture of all was the group, and a jolly, care-free
lot of vacationers they looked, too.

“Let’s go down for a swim, then back to dinner, then write all our
letters this afternoon,” Polly suggested, and they carried out this
programme for the day.

It was worth resting up for, they all declared the next morning, when
Peggie called them before five. Breakfast was ready by the time they
were dressed, and a little past six, they were all in the saddle, ready
for their long ride overland to the Alameda ranch. It was quite an
imposing cavalcade that started out, two by two at first, and then
Indian file as the road narrowed in places. This time they rode due
west, along the river road, through willows and tall cottonwoods.

After about four miles, Jean led the way up a rocky defile, and they
struck an irregular ridge of tableland. Here the rocks began to assume
all kinds of queer, fantastic shapes, and Peggie told the names of them,
as they came to each—Jumping Rabbit, Columbus, Praying Chief, Sleeping
Bear, Double Towers, and so on.

“We used to take a lunch when we were little, and come here to play for
a day in the summer,” Jean said. “See those rocks away over yonder?
Don’t they resemble some wonderful eastern city? They look like the
cliff cities of Arizona and New Mexico, too.”

“Maybe they have been, sometime,” Polly exclaimed, reining up a minute
to take a good look at the strange sight. “It’s like discovering a dead
petrified city, isn’t it?”

“I wish you had the time and money too, girls, to visit the Yellowstone
this trip. If the vacation were longer, we could take the time, and
drive across country to it. Father took us that way once. I remember
when we came to the great Absoraka Range, with forty snow-capped peaks,
like a tremendous wall from north to south. It makes you feel so little
just to look at those wonders.”

There was silence for a minute, then Ruth said, soberly:

“I heard a story once in church, and I never forgot it. Our rector at
Queen’s Ferry told it. It was about two very old mountains that wakened
once in a thousand years, and wished each other good-morning. And they
would say it this way.

“‘Good-morning, brother, how goes the world?’

“‘Well, brother, well,’ the other mountain would say, and after a time
they would fall happily to sleep. But one day they wakened, and one
mountain noticed a lot of little specks running around the ground at his
base, so when his brother greeted him, he was disturbed, and said:

“‘I cannot say if it goes well or not, brother. There are a lot of
little ants or some kind of insects running around me. They seem to be
building things of little pieces of trees. And they fight, and make a
lot of useless noise. I do not like them.’

“‘Never mind,’ said the other one. ‘They are bothering me too, but let
us go to sleep and maybe they will be gone when we wake.’

“And it went on like that for ever so long, thousands of years, and
every time the mountains wakened, they were troubled by the little
specks that were always building and fighting, and making a noise. Then
one morning the mountains awakened, and all was very quiet and happy.

“‘Good-morning, brother, how goes the world?’ said one, and the other
was so glad to be able to answer:

“‘Well, brother, well. All those little fretful specks they call people
have gone from the face of the earth, and the world is at peace with God
again.’ That’s all, but doesn’t it make you respect the everlasting
hills, Miss Jean?”

“Indeed it does, Ruth,” Jean replied. “That is a lovely story. I think
that Mrs. Sandy would enjoy it, too. Be careful when you come to the
terraces here. Keep the ponies close to the side of the bluff.”

They had come to great natural terraces of rock and sandstone,
graduating down from the trail, far to the river bed below; and here the
quiet river that flowed past the ranch had turned into a turbulent,
dashing torrent between narrow bluffs. From the road, they could not see
it, but the sound of its rushing came booming up to them. All at once
Ted cried out:

“Oh, there’s a cat in that tree, Miss Jean. Here, kitty, kitty, kitty!”

“Never mind calling it, Ted,” laughed Jean. “That’s a bobcat. There it
goes now. Did you see its tail? They’ll hardly ever hurt any one unless
attacked first, although the boys watch for them at night, if they have
to go up through the piney trails. I think we’ll see some deer when we
start down the next hill. They are usually out in numbers here. Don’t
talk, because they can scent us and hear us very far off.”

Quietly, the little band rode on, eyes on the alert for the turn in the
road, and view of the deer, and they were rewarded by such a sight as
they had never seen before. Below them stretched beautiful fertile
fields. A mountain cascade in the distance fell like a gorgeous,
captured cloud, so filmy and pearly white it looked. And down in the
grazing ground was a herd of deer. The girls watched them for some time,
delighted at the gentle beauty of the does and little ones, and the
stately buck, who every now and then would rear up his many pronged
horns, and listen, nose to the wind.

“I don’t think they will mind us, if we ride on, girls,” Jean said, but
the deer had a different opinion. As soon as they caught sight of the
ponies and riders, they were off over the fields and into the forest.

It was nearly ten when they reached the Alameda ranch. Peggie and Polly
rode ahead of the rest, and let out a clear, gay shout when they came in
sight of it. It lay in the valley far below, in a nest of trees.

“How did they ever find enough trees in one spot to make it so pretty?”
asked Ruth.

“Sandy planted them there years ago, before he went East after his
bride,” Jean told her. “He used to call it his Honeymoon Lodge in those
days. How glad Mrs. Sandy will be to see us.”

And she was, too, more full of pure gladness than she had been in years,
she told the girls. They found her down at the corral with Sandy
himself, both of them busy with some calves. They heard the shouts from
far off, and Mrs. Sandy hurried to meet them.

The first thing that startled the girls was her marked resemblance to
the old oil painting at Calvert Hall. There was the same happy, inviting
face, surrounded by little bobbing curls, and though the curls were gray
now, you hardly noticed it, they formed so pretty a frame to the sweet,
pink-tinted face.

“I’ve been looking for you every day, dears,” she said, kissing each one
of the girls, as they slipped from their ponies to greet her. “And this
is Isabel Lee, Phil Lee’s daughter. You have your father’s mouth and
chin, dear. I knew him well. What did you say, Jeanie—Sue Warner? The
Warners of Colebrook? Bless my heart, I have danced at many of your
grandmother’s parties there, Sue. Ruth, and Edwina, I’m sure I’ve met
some of your families too, for you both look familiar to me, although
Sandy would declare it was the rose-colored glasses of memory I was
using.” Tears sparkled on her lashes as she turned last of all to Polly.
“Oh, my dear,” she said, tenderly, “do the lilies still bloom as fair at
Glenwood as they did forty years ago? They were gold-colored with ruby
hearts.”

Polly nodded her head eagerly.

“Uncle Peter told me you loved them. There’s just Uncle Peter and
grandfather left now of the ones who can remember you at our place.
Mandy and Aunty Welcome are both pretty young, you know.”

“I know,” laughed Mrs. Sandy. “Welcome must be about forty-five, isn’t
she? And Mandy I don’t remember at all.”

“I’ll look after your horses, Jeanie,” Mr. MacDowell said. “You won’t do
anything now but talk Queen’s Ferry, and it’s a bully thing that Mrs.
MacDowell can at last.”

They went slowly up to the home that Sandy had built so many years ago
for the home-coming of his bride. It was prettier than the other ranch
houses the girls had seen, more like a bungalow. There was a deep
foundation of gray rocks, and the porch was built on columns of the rock
too, and crimson ramblers grew all over it just as they did South. There
was a piano in the big living-room, and everywhere an indefinable touch
of something that seemed alien to this great, happy-go-lucky new land: a
quiet elegance and air of repose, something that made the girls think at
once of the atmosphere of Calvert Hall.

“We have lots to tell you, dear,” exclaimed Peggie, reaching up to give
Mrs. Sandy a hearty bear hug. “We’ve discovered something in old Zed’s
gulch, and we’ve got a new name for Sandy.”

“The Chief,” Ted added.

“Hail to the Chief!” began Polly, merrily. “Doesn’t it suit him?”

“It will please him greatly,” said Mrs. Sandy, proudly, and when the
girls saw how her face brightened at his name, they began to understand
somewhat, one very good reason why Diantha Calvert had come out West to
be a rancher’s wife.

There were so many things to see that day, the time passed before they
realized it. Ted and Sue rambled around with the Chief, as they called
him, at his heels from the corral to the wagon sheds and back again,
while the other girls stayed with Mrs. Sandy, and listened as she told
stories of the early days.

“Were you never afraid at all?” asked Ruth.

“Dear, what would you think of an Old Dominion girl who dared to be
afraid? Besides, the Indians trusted Sandy. He never betrayed their
confidence, nor misled them. Many times he acted as peacemaker between
them and the army, trying to make the way free from war for them, and
trying to make them understand how resistless the march of progress was.
Many of the settlers had been murdered, and their places burned, but we
were not molested, even by the Sioux. I can remember one day, I was
alone here. Sandy had been south at Fort Washakie for several weeks. It
was early spring, and the kitchen door was open. I was making bread, I
know, and had just opened the oven door to take out the loaves when I
heard a step on the doorsill, and saw a shadow on the floor.”

“Indians?” exclaimed Polly.

“Yes. It was an Indian. He stood looking around for a minute, and I
didn’t act frightened at all. I thought he might have a message from
Sandy for me. Then he grunted, and held out his hand for the bread.
There were about eight loaves in all. I held them out to him, and he
took every single one. And he gave me this in exchange.”

She went over to an old dresser and took from a drawer a belt, beaded
richly, with elk teeth dangling in short fringes from it.

“Isn’t it lovely,” the girls cried. “Why did he do it?”

“Because he was hungry, I think. We never knew. But if I had refused him
the bread, or cried out, or done anything that was not friendly, he
might have killed me. I don’t know, I may be wrong,” she went on,
gently, with a happy, faraway look on her sweet old face, “but I’ve
found it a truth, children; if you give kindness, you receive kindness,
if you give love, you get love in return, even with savages. It is the
brotherliness of humanity that is the most ancient law of all. It is the
law of the human pack, as Sandy says.”

“Oh, girls, pack!” exclaimed Polly suddenly. “That makes me think of
animals. We’re forgetting about the bones.”

“Bones? What does the child mean?” said Mrs. Sandy.

Then they coaxed her down to where the Chief sat explaining to Ted and
Sue the difference between the Sioux and the Crows. And they told of the
find down in Zed’s gulch. Sandy listened with steady, unblinking eyes,
and brows drawn together a little.

“It must be some bear skeleton, dear,” Mrs. Sandy said. “Or maybe a
buffalo, don’t you think so, Sandy?”

“Not if it’s embedded in the rock, lass. Show me how big it is, Peggie.”

And obediently Peggie measured off on the bar-post the height of the
bones as close as she could guess at it.

“If it is a dinosaur, or anything like it, Chief,” Ted said, “it must be
about ten million years old.”

“Don’t talk so, child, it sounds downright reckless,” hushed gentle Mrs.
Sandy, just as Miss Calvert herself might have done. “Was it a monster
of the deep before the flood, Sandy, dear, like the leviathan?”

“Now you’ve got me, Di,” cried the big old fellow, merrily. “How can I
say for sure? When they find a toad or a frog asleep in the middle of a
rock cliff, do they wake him up, and ask if he was one of the identical
brood that plagued Pharaoh? There’s things that lie close hidden in the
grand, still dawn of creation, and we small humanlings cannot hope to
pierce the veil, or to understand the how and the why of it. But if
there is a monster of the deep or of the plains either, that’s hiding
away in old Zed’s gulch, we’ll haul him out, girls, and find out what
he’s worth. I doubt not that he’d enjoy a sniff of fresh air at that,
eh, Polly?”

Polly leaned forward, her brown eyes sparkling.

“Then I had better send word to the Doctor to come and see what it is,”
she said. “I dug up a piece of the bone to-day, and sent it to him, and
some of the rock around it.”

“Good. I’ll ride over on Monday to look at it. You had better come too,
to show me where it lies.”

They gladly promised to meet him at the gulch on Monday, and after
another look around the ranch, they were ready for home. The Chief was
more proud of his horses than anything else. He had raised a special
breed from the pure bred wild horses of the plains, and crossed it with
pure Arab.

“And they’re the finest bred horses in America to-day,” he declared.
“When you come over next time, I’ll take you up and show you them. None
of these high-hipped Indian pony animals, with joints like soup bones—”

“Sandy, boy!” protested Mrs. Sandy.

Sandy’s gray eyes twinkled at the motherly reproof in her tone. It was
plain to be seen he was her big boy.

“Well, an’ they do look like it, too, Di—but forgive me. Come and see my
beauties, when you can.”

“Could we ride them?” asked Polly.

“I doubt it, Polly. Never a saddle have they borne on their backs. When
I came West forty years ago, I looked about me, and I saw three things
that made me worship in my soul the Maker of things, an eagle in its
flight, a mountain at sunrise, and a wild horse. I couldn’t catch the
eagle, and I couldn’t snare the sunrise, but I have some of the horses
for my own, and it rests my eyes to look at them.”

“Oh, girls, we have time, and we may not get over again,” began Isabel,
pleadingly, but it was so late that Jean said no. They would be over
before it was time to go back East, surely. So they all kissed Mrs.
Sandy good-bye, and only Polly caught the words that she said, as she
kissed Jean.

“Is Honoria well?”

“Very well,” said Jean.

“Did she send me any message, Jeanie, dear?”

The tears came in Jean’s eyes.

“No, ma’am, none.”

Mrs. Sandy sighed, and smiled.

“Ah, well, in His good time,” she said. “We must bide it. Good-bye,
dear.”

And all the way home Polly pondered.

“They’re going to open up the old Beaver Creek schoolhouse Sunday for
services,” said Don, that night at supper. “Jimmie Peters went over, and
cleaned it up, and the Bishop will be here Sunday sure.”

“Why don’t they have a real chapel?” asked Isabel.

“There are only about nine people inside of thirty miles who would
come,” said Mr. Murray.

“But nine would be enough,” exclaimed Polly. “The whole Church started
with only twelve.”

“Polly, that’s very true,” Jean said, earnestly. “I had not thought of
that myself.”

“If the nine were strong, and really wanted a chapel, they could have
it. Just as you told us about that priest who traveled through the
wilderness to hold services for the Indians, and when they drove him
away, he went up on the great rock, and held them anyway, and after a
time the Indians came near. If people knew for sure that services would
be held every single Sunday at the schoolhouse, wouldn’t they come?”

“I think they would,” said Peggie. “I’m sure they would. Polly, you’re a
missionary.”

“Let’s speak to the Bishop about it,” said Ruth. “We could call it our
mission, girls, and send things out West from Trinity Church for it.”

“Land o’ rest, lassie, don’t you think you’ve started enough to look
after,” exclaimed Mrs. Murray, smilingly. “What with disturbing the
remains of poor animals that have lain in peace since before the flood,
and riling Sandy all up over it, don’t you think you can rest a bit?”

“Oh, but we love to start things, Mrs. Murray, dear, and finish them
too, which is something, you know. I’m going to ask the Bishop if it
could happen. Is he very dignified, and stately? Our Bishop is. At
Confirmation when he stands in the chancel, with his beautiful silvery
hair, and splendid old face, it seems to me,” Polly said softly, “as if
I can almost see behind him the long wonderful procession back to the
very first Apostles.”

“But do you remember, dear,” answered Mrs. Murray, “that those same
Apostles were chosen by their Master for the fight when they were young
men, and strong. So it is to-day with the fields where they need
husbandmen who can stand the heat and labor of the day. Our Bishop—God
hold up his hands!—is still young, and he can outride any man in four
counties, when it comes to endurance. They say that when he passes a
herd, all the cattle nod their heads in greeting, but that is only a
saying among the lads on the range. They think he’s a fair wonderful
man.”

So it was no wonder the girls looked forward to Sunday. Every day they
went for a good long ride with Jean or Peggie. Sometimes it was to
Picture Rocks, sometimes over to the Indian graves, sometimes to the
battlefield where Crazy Horse had made one of his last stands against
the white troops. The first Sunday they spent very quietly. Mr. Murray
read prayers after breakfast, and Jean played the hymns on the little
cottage organ in the living room at the main cabin. It gave the girls a
realization of what the kingdom of home meant out in the wilderness,
this gathering of the little Murray clan about the father; the boys,
tall and brawny, leading in the responses, the girls carrying the
singing.

“Have you always done that?” asked Sue, later in the day. “I think it’s
splendid, to hold service even by yourself.”

“We have to if we want service, and what’s the difference? I think if
you were all alone, and still worshiped God, and held his day sacred, it
would be just the same as if you had gone to church,” said Peggie,
sensibly. “As long, of course, as there was no church to go to. We
always do.”

There was much trout fishing that week, too. Ted and Sue learned to cast
and play for the speckled beauties as warily as any of the rest, and
many a delicious feast they had when they came back with a good catch.
There was very little fishing along the river, and the fish were
plentiful. Polly and Ruth found one quiet, dark pool below the rapids
where they seemed to love to bask in the dappled water.

Evenings they would sit and listen to Mr. Murray tell stories of the
early days; of times when the little, hard-earned bunches of cattle
would be found butchered by some marauding band of unfriendly Indians;
and sometimes of stolen horses, snatched away by young braves on the
path for plunder.

One day the Chief, as they always called him now, drove over from the
Alameda ranch, and stayed through the afternoon and evening at the
Murrays’, and then the girls heard wonderful tales of the old trails and
scouts. Once Polly turned with eager flushed face to Mrs. Sandy, and
asked impulsively:

“How could you leave Queen’s Ferry and come ’way out here when it was so
wild?”

The faintest bit of a blush rose to Diantha’s cheeks, and she said:

“He asked me to, child.”

“Do you know,” Polly said later, when the girls were by themselves in
the old cabin, “sometimes I just want to ask her right out why there is
any trouble between dear old Miss Calvert and herself. They make such a
darling pair of sisters, don’t you know, girls?”

“Better not lift the sacred veil of family secrets, Polly,” Isabel
replied, solemnly. “You never can tell what sort of a skeleton will pop
out at you and do a war dance.”

“There simply couldn’t be a skeleton there,” insisted Polly. “Two quiet,
dear, well-bred old ladies from Virginia, who won’t speak to each other!
Why, I don’t think it’s Christianlike, and here Miss Honoria trots off
to Trinity every Sunday and is Chairman of the which and t’other
committees, and Mrs. Sandy is the Lord’s right hand out here, Mrs.
Murray declares. Surely, it isn’t right for them to scrap and fall out
just like we girls do.”

“Ask her about it, Polly; you won’t be happy until you find out,” said
Ruth placidly, and Polly smiled and said nothing more, but she made up
her mind then that she certainly would ask, the first quiet chance she
got.

The very last day of that week, Archie rode over after the mail, and
there was a letter from the Doctor in answer to Polly’s. He had been
greatly interested in the news of her discovery, he wrote. As near as he
could figure it out, off hand, the ranch valley, and range to the north
where the gulch lay, belonged to the same sandstone drift he had
proposed working in about two hundred miles west.

“How can it be the same?” asked Sue. “Two hundred miles!”

“If he says so, it must be so,” Polly replied, decidedly. “He says the
bone is apparently the same character and formation as other fossils
found up here, and he will come up himself next week, and take a look at
it.”

“What’s that noise?” asked Ted suddenly, going to the open door, and
listening. There was no light inside, but out of doors the stars shone
clearly. They listened, almost holding their breath to hear the far-off
sound of music. It was some one singing far up on the road, and all at
once Polly whispered:

“Maybe it’s that herder coming after his baking powder.”

They all laughed, and then listened again. Nights were their one time
now for consultation and conclave, and they usually enjoyed a good talk
after they reached the little guest cabin.

“It sounds like somebody singing hymns,” Ruth said. “They hear it too,
over at the other house. I can see lights moving.”

Just then the door opened in the home cabin, and Jean came out.

“Girls,” she called clearly. “Here comes our Bishop. That’s Jimmie
singing to let us know they’re near.”

Then they caught the melody, and words too, as the two horsemen rounded
the last bend in the road around old Topnotch, and came down the valley.
Clear and full, Jimmie’s voice sounded as he sang,

“Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land,
I am weak, but Thou art mighty,
Hold me in Thy powerful hand.”

“That’s Jimmie’s favorite,” Jean said, softly. “He used to herd for
father a few years ago, and you could hear him singing nights as he rode
round the cattle. He’s with the Big Bow outfit now, and they call him
the singing cowboy.”

“Where did he learn it all?” asked Polly. “He sings as if he just knew
the right way to.”

“He used to be a choir boy in Denver. I don’t know what we’d do up here
without him. He always rides over to meet the Bishop, and looks after
everything for him.”

“Isn’t it queer?” Ruth said, all at once. “People aren’t very different
any more than birds or animals are. Here you find a cowboy singing hymns
and canticles, and with all the East and South to choose from, Miss
Diantha married a Westerner who was a scout and rancher. Wouldn’t it be
queer if some day we find out we really are all brothers and sisters in
one family?”

“Ruth, pay attention. You’re dipping into social economy, and that
doesn’t come until you reach college,” laughed Jean.

When the Bishop and Jimmie rode up, all were out to greet them, and he
did seem strange to the girls, this young Bishop with the round, hearty
voice, and quick laugh, who swung from his saddle as easily as Jimmie
himself, and shook hands with them all. When he came into the low-ceiled
living room, he had to stoop a little, or surely his head would have
touched the lintel. Tall he was, and young, and broad-shouldered, with
one of the kindliest and noblest faces that the girls had ever seen,
they thought, as he smiled down on them that first night.

“And you’ve ridden far, too, sir,” said Mrs. Murray, bustling about to
prepare supper for the travelers. “We thought maybe you and Jimmie’d
stay up at Dickerman’s ranch over night.”

“I wanted to get home, Mrs. Murray,” said the Bishop. “When I strike any
point within fifty miles of the Crossbar, I feel the homing instinct
strongly. You make it so very pleasant for me here.”

Jimmie stood over in the corner, his hands clasped behind him, a
slender, curly-haired lad, with eyes like a collie’s, and the way they
looked at the Bishop told the girls Jimmie’s opinion of him plainer than
words could do.

The next morning they were up early, and after prayers they started out
for the little schoolhouse where services were to be held. It was the
same one the Murray children had attended when they were small, but now
only Peggie took the long ride over the hills.

“And you’re not a bit afraid?” asked Isabel, as the miles stretched out
before them. “Isn’t it lonely in the winter?”

“Oh, yes, a little bit, but you don’t mind it after a while,” said
Peggie cheerfully. “This year it’s closed because there aren’t enough
children to carry the expenses. We’ve had such good times here. One
Christmas, when Jeanie taught us, we wanted Santa Claus and a Christmas
tree so much, and she said we could have one. So we all went out, and
picked out our tree, and one of the Dickerman boys cut it down, and we
pulled it back ourselves.”

“Like bringing in the Yule log, wasn’t it?” said Polly.

“Yes. We had such fun trimming it, and there was a Santa Claus too.”

“Where will you go to school this year?”

“I don’t know. There isn’t any place now, unless I go down to Deercroft
and board, and mother doesn’t want me to do that.”

“Why don’t you come back with us to Calvert?” asked Polly. “You’re old
enough. Crullers started when she was twelve. Oh, Peggie, why don’t you
try to? It would be lovely.”

Peggie said nothing for a minute, but rode along, her face bowed a
little, her eyes full of longing.

“I’d like to go,” she said finally, “but I don’t think it’s my turn yet.
The boys come first, and then when they’re through college, they’ll help
me.”

No more was said then, but the thought remained with Polly, and, as the
Admiral always said, once a really good and interesting thought had
taken root in Polly’s mind, it was almost certain to grow and bear
fruit.

The little schoolhouse stood at the fork of the river, a rough log
cabin, with some spruces growing back of it. What impressed the girls
was the instinctive sense of holiness that seemed to enfold the whole
place. The horses were hobbled, and a few minutes later Mr. and Mrs.
Murray arrived in the surrey. They had stopped at one point in the
journey, and turned off towards an out-of-the-way ranch, to pick up some
neighbors, Sam Brumell and his two sisters.

“Not that they’re church folks, ’cause they’re not,” Mrs. Murray had
said, in her bright, cheery way, “but I know it does ’Lisbeth Brumell a
pile of good just to feel she has touched the Hand of the Father again
in the dark, and it won’t hurt Sam any to listen to the Words of Life,
either, nor poor blind Emily, so we’ll just stop and gather them in,
father.”

There were others who wanted to be gathered in too, that day. Strangest
of all, to the girls, was the group of cowboys, friends and “pardners”
of Jimmie’s from the Big Bow outfit, who had ridden over twenty miles to
do honor to Jimmie and his Missionary Bishop. And there were several
families from outlying ranches, some with children. Mr. and Mrs. Sandy
arrived last of all, because as Sandy explained later, Diantha had
stopped to pick all her roses for the altar.

Jimmie had prepared the way as best he could. The desk was pushed back
against the blackboard, and covered with a fair linen cloth, and the
Bishop’s beautiful Cross stood on it, with the white roses on either
side. There was no organ, but Jimmie and the Murray children led the
singing, as they were familiar with the canticles and responses, and the
girls joined in. The sermon was not at all like a sermon. It was the
warmest, tenderest, best kind of a talk. The tall young Bishop stepped
down from the little platform that had served as chancel, and talked
directly to them, calling them by name.

“I hear,” he said, “there has never been a Confirmation here at the
Forks. Then we’ll have one in the spring. There are plenty of children
to gather for this, and grown people too. Donald and Margaret Murray,
James here, and the Dickerman twins—”

’Lisbeth Brumell rose determindedly in her seat at this point. She was a
little woman, with a sad, tired face, the face of a woman who had found
the wilderness too hard to bear.

“I know it ain’t right for me to speak up during service,” she said,
brokenly, “but I only wanted to say you can count me in too, Bishop,
when you round up the lot.”

“Well, I’m glad poor ’Lisbeth got that off her mind,” said Mrs. Murray,
thoughtfully, after they had returned home. “She’s always wanted a staff
to lean on, and it will make her daily grind easier.”

“What’s the matter with her, Mrs. Murray?” asked Isabel.

“Lonesomeness, most likely. She made up her mind to be lonesome all her
life, and she was a terribly disappointed girl.”

“How?”

“She didn’t marry the lad she wanted to. He went over Thunder Ridge
twenty-two years ago, in the big blizzard, with fourteen hundred cattle.
I’m glad she’s going to find rest at last.”

“Girls, girls,” exclaimed Polly, her eyes bright with excitement, when
they started for a walk after dinner that night. “Grandfather was saying
not long ago that people were getting tired of churches, and out here—”

“They’re all ready and waiting for the round-up,” finished Ted, shortly,
but fervently. “I’ll never forget to-day, or the cowboy’s voice when he
sang the ‘Inflammatus’ without any accompaniment.” And Ted began to sing
it softly.

“When Thou comest, when Thou comest to the judgment,
Lord, remember now Thy people—”

“What’s that about the Shepherd and Bishop of souls?” asked Sue.

“You’re all of you sentimental,” Ruth interposed soberly. “All you need
to do is to remember that little schoolhouse at the Forks when you get
back home, and do something for it. If it’s not going to be used for a
school any more, it could be turned into a chapel, and services held
there regularly.”

“Who’d read them?”

“I think father would, or Jimmie, or maybe Sandy, if they could be
appointed lay readers,” said Peggie. “I think so.”

“Polly, you’ve started something else,” laughed Isabel, but Polly only
smiled. She was too happy to talk.

Continue Reading

CROSSBAR RANCH

The barking of dogs sounded down in the valley, and a door opened,
letting out a pathway of lamplight.

“That’s mother—there’s mother now,” cried Jean, and she sent out a long,
clear call of happy greeting that was answered by the lamp, raised and
lowered as a welcoming signal.

“Guess she’ll be glad to see us coming home,” Mr. Murray said. “She’s
anxious to meet you after reading of you in Jeanie’s letters.”

“Just the same as we want to know all of Miss Murray’s family,” Ruth
replied, eagerly. “You don’t know how we’ve coaxed her over and over to
tell us about them and the ranch.”

“You’ll have to wait for daylight to get an idea of the place. Whoa,
there, Peanuts.”

“Peanuts! Is that its name?” Sue asked.

“It sure is. Because of the most inordinate longing and yearning and
hankering after peanuts that ever a horse had.”

Mr. Murray laughed, as he got out, and lifted down the girls. Jean was
already in her mother’s arms, and trying to introduce the new guests at
the same time.

“Well, come in, do, all of you, where the light is, and I can see you to
tell you all apart,” exclaimed Mrs. Murray, happily. “Father, you and
Don put the girls’ trunks down in the cabin there.”

“We didn’t bring any, Mrs. Murray,” said Polly. “Only our suit-cases.”

“They know this is not a summer resort, mother,” Jean put in. “I told
them just to bring what they would need for roughing it.”

“’Tis more convenient traveling that way, I suppose. And what a journey
you have had.” All the while Mrs. Murray talked she was bustling about
the great kitchen, preparing supper for them. “Now, sit up, and eat, for
you must be hungry. Jeanie, child, you may sit here in father’s place.”

Such a supper as the girls enjoyed that first night at the ranch! Brook
trout that Don had caught that morning early, baked potatoes, and graham
bread, and glasses of milk that were half filled with cream.

“You mustn’t eat too heartily, going to bed,” Mrs. Murray told them,
“but to-morrow you can make up for it. I shall mother every one of you
while you’re here.”

“We’ll be good,” Polly promised, and the others chimed in willingly
enough.

“Where are you going to put us all to sleep, motherie?” asked Jean.

“And well may you ask me that, Jeanie,” laughed her mother, with the
light burr to her speech giving it a delightful softness. “We have but
three beds here in the main house, you must know, girls. There is the
large bunkhouse for the men down below the corral, and the two cabins,
as we call them. One was our first house here, when father and I took up
the claim over thirty years back, and the other the boys built for
themselves. So after talking it over, we thought it would be best to
give you the home cabin, and then you’ll be by yourselves, and can have
as good a time as you like. If you’re timid the first few nights, Jeanie
or myself will stay with you.”

“Oh, we won’t be timid, Mrs. Murray,” protested Ted, with quick mental
visions of royal good times in the cabin. “We’ll be ever so good. I
think that’s a dandy plan, girls.”

“And so do we,” chorused the rest.

“Then gather up your belongings, and follow me,” called Jeanie, picking
up a lantern that stood by the door. “Is there a light there, motherie?”

“Yes, child, on the table in the large room. Good-night, bairnies. And
that’s all you are, too,” she smiled, “despite your height and weight.
Just a peck of bairnies to be happy and enjoy life while you may. God
bless you all.”

“Look out for the two steps as you go into the cabin,” Peggie called
last of all, and they followed Jean out into the night. It was bright
with moonlight. Every shadow was distinct and black, and for a minute
they stood and looked about, at the near-by buttes, rising bluffs of
rock and sandstone, back of the ranch, that blended into the shadowy
foothills beyond; and these again, led upward against the clear night
sky, until one could see far, far away, outlines of ranges where Bear
Lodge lay.

“We will take long trips on horseback as soon as you learn how to ride
well, and can stand the saddles,” Jean told them. “Father said he would
give us a few days of camping before it was time to go back, and it is
much better to ride than to take the wagons or surrey.”

“Indeed we will ride just as soon as we are allowed to,” declared Polly,
fervently. “I wouldn’t dare to go back home, unless I could ride, after
all the nice things that grandfather said about you, Miss Jean. It will
be the first thing he asks me, I’m sure—whether I can ride or not.”

“It won’t take very long. The ponies are all well broken, and used to
the youngsters riding them. Peggie is in the saddle half the time in the
summer, between here and Mrs. Sandy’s, and up with the boys and father
on the sheep range.”

There was the flash of a moving lantern down at the corral. They could
hear Don whistling as he moved around, looking after the ponies. From
some place up in the hills there came a strange, appealing cry at
intervals. Isabel stopped to listen.

“Is it a wild animal, Miss Murray?” she asked, doubtfully.

“Why, Isabel, I’m surprised. Don’t you know a mountain lion when you
hear one?” Ted exclaimed, reproachfully.

“It’s only a hoot owl, Isabel,” Jean said, merrily. “There’s nothing to
hurt you at all up here, unless you go farther West. There used to be a
great deal of game, but they have gone farther West towards the
mountains, and into the national reserve. We hardly ever see anything
here except a stray bobcat, or a deer. Even the brown bears keep away
unless they are hungry.”

“B-r-r-r-r,” shivered Isabel. “Don’t let’s talk any more about them.
There might be a hungry one around some place.”

“If you like, I will sleep down here with you,” Jean said, when they
came to the two-room log cabin, “but it is truly safe, girls. You can
shut the door, and drop this bar across it. See?” She set the light down
on the floor, and showed them how to fasten the door with a broad bar of
wood, “just like the pictures of Davy Crockett keeping out the wolves,”
as Polly said.

“And when they broke the bar, he put his own arm through and kept them
out. We’ll take turns being the bars if we have to, Miss Murray.”

“Then good-night all, and sleep well, and be sure and remember what you
dream. Dreams in a new place are sure to come true, they say.” Jean
kissed each sweet, upturned, girlish face, and went back to the house.

“Well, girls!” exclaimed Polly, once they were alone. She raised the
lamp from the table, and looked about.

The cabin consisted of two long, low ceiled rooms, and yet, no ceilings
of plaster, but only the natural wood for an interior; and soft and rich
in tone it looked too. The foundation of the cabin was of rocks, and the
roof projected far over in front, forming the top of the porch.
Over-shadowing it were some spruces. So much they had seen as they had
entered it. But the interior was best of all. There was a huge rock
fireplace, screened with great spruce boughs. Above it was a hanging
shelf of wood. Before each of the four windows was a rough wooden seat,
covered over with Indian blankets, and on the floor were a few rugs.

“Girls, what a fine idea this is,” exclaimed Sue, standing where she
could take in the whole interior. “Do you know this furniture is mostly
homemade of just rough, barked wood. Look at this lovely big center
table, and the chairs to match.”

“Maybe this is the first wedding outfit,” Polly suggested. “Wasn’t it
Daniel Boone who set the style in honeymoon settler furniture?”

“How, Polly?” asked Ruth.

“He just went out and took the wood as he found it, and made furniture
out of it, that’s all, and put pelts around for rugs. How pungent and
sweet those spruce boughs do smell. Ruth, you be monitor of the light,
won’t you, please, dear? I’m going to bed this minute. I just can’t keep
awake. Do you feel the motion of the train even now? I do. Just as if we
were going and going all the time.”

So Ruth put out the lamp, and they all went to bed, tired from the long
journey overland, and happy in their new quarters.

“It is just as if we were real settlers, and had finally reached a
resting place,” Isabel said sleepily.

“I wish that hoot owl would turn settler, and find his resting place,”
grumbled Ted. “He sounds so awfully lost.”

But almost as she said it, she drifted away to dreamland, and the first
night in Wyoming had begun.

Polly was the first to awake the following morning. She heard the oddest
sound right under her window, a sharp cry of “Come back, come back, come
back!”

Then came Mrs. Murray’s voice, hushed, but agitated.

“Get away from there! Shoo, with you, shoo!”

Polly jumped up from her cot, and looked out. A flock of speckled guinea
hens fluttered away from a waving apron, and vanished behind the old
blacksmith shop. It was early morning. Polly dressed quietly, and went
out, leaving the rest of the girls sleeping, for she knew how tired they
were after the long overland journey.

Once outdoors, she stood still, and looked around her. The Murray ranch
lay in a pleasant valley, with foothills and buttes surrounding it.
Polly’s first thought was, where could the trees be? Excepting for the
cottonwoods that fringed the creek bed, and the spruces rising
spire-like in every place they could find a foothold, there seemed to a
Virginia-bred girl, to be a dearth of trees. The ranch was built facing
the south, and almost backed into the buttes at the north for shelter.
The main log cabin was only one story high, but broad and long, and
home-like looking. A hammock swung under its porch shelter, and there
were some flower borders around it, with geraniums and mignonette
growing in them, and some pansies, but precious little else. Just across
the valley rose a mountain. Patches of pines covered its sides, with
here and there the white line of the wagon road showing around the
slopes. Straggling away from the main cabin were various buildings, all
low, and built also of logs. Farther back, under the shelter of the
shelving sandstone butte, was the corral, a round enclosure of rails,
and ponies within. Down in the valley where the creek wound in and out,
were some sheep, their heads bent down as they grazed, their backs
stone-gray like rocks.

Eastward, the sun was just showing above the hills, and everywhere was
heard the songs of birds.

Polly hesitated between the main house, and the corral, but the call of
the ponies was too strong to be resisted, and she went down to the
corral. When Don and Jean came down from the kitchen, they found her
perched up on the topmost rail, at one side, talking to the ponies, and
trying to coax them to her.

“We thought you were still asleep,” Jean said. “Good-morning.”

“Good-morning,” answered Polly, happily. “The rest are. I wanted to get
up and take a look out. Oh, Miss Murray, isn’t that pony over there a
dear, the one with the white nose? He’s the only one that notices me,
and when I call him, he lays back his ears, and shakes his head.”

Don went into the corral, and threw a halter over the pony’s head.

“This is Jinks,” he told her. “Used to be called High Jinks, but we cut
it short to Jinks. Don’t you want to ride him?”

It was a temptation. Polly looked longingly at the pony, but someway, it
did not seem loyal to the others to start the fun before they were
ready.

“No, thank you, Don, I think I’ll wait,” she said. “But could I have
that one to ride, when we start?”

“Guess so,” responded Don, in his stolid way. When he talked he got off
each sentence first, and rested before he took up the next. “Father said
he was going to let each of you have the use of the same pony all the
time you stayed; then you’d get used to the pony, and the pony’d get
used to you. He has five safe ones picked out, and Jinks is one of
them.”

“Well, I’d love to have Jinks unless one of the other girls wants him
too.”

“Finding’s keeping,” said Don, placidly. “I’ll put your brand on him,
Miss Polly.”

“Father’s gone to Deercroft after the boys,” Jean said, as they walked
back to the house. “Archie and Neil, you know. He is very glad to have
them home to help him too. It’s hard to get good ranchmen on these
smaller places, for they are nearly all snapped up by the large outfits.
Oh, Polly, look here.” She stopped short, and pointed off at the
mountain. “Can you see that great wooden cross way up there on the rock
ledge, half way up the mountain. That is where the first church service
was held here in Uwanda Valley. It was before father took up the claim
even, when the Shoshones still wandered freely over these ranges. Now,
they are all gathered into the same reservations with the Arapahoes. It
seems strange, when they have always been hereditary foes, that now they
have to settle down, and live in peace side by side as Uncle Sam’s good
children.”

“But how did the cross come there?” asked Polly, eagerly, shading her
eyes so that she might see it plainly. “It looks like a bare pine tree
with a piece nailed across it.”

“That is just what it is. The Indians were encamped in the valley here,
where the water was good and hunting fine, and one of our missionaries
traveled on horseback over seventy miles to reach them. They wouldn’t
allow him down in the camp, not even to enter it. So he went up the
mountain to that rock ledge, where he could overlook them; put on his
vestments, and read the service. Before he was half through, ever so
many of the Indians had stolen gradually nearer and nearer until they
were close to him. He stayed here after that nearly a week, as their
guest, and always held the service on the same spot. They grew very fond
of him, and when they left the valley, they erected that cross in memory
of him.”

Just then Sue and Ted came out of the cabin, and joined them.

“Good-morning. Ruth’s waiting to button Isabel’s waist,” Sue explained.

“Button what waist? Is she daring to dress up out here? Wait till I find
out.” Polly sped back to the cabin, and found Isabel just slipping on a
fresh white blouse.

“Young lady, where’s your khaki skirt and blouse? If we are to ‘rough
it,’ and not have a stack of washing, we must be careful. Put on that
middy blouse, and come along.”

Isabel obeyed, but a bit ruefully. She stood before the little oblong
mirror that hung on a nail above the washstand, and fluffed out her hair
with her side-combs, while Ruth and Polly watched her, laughingly.

“I declare, Lady Vanitas, I do truly believe you’d stop to fix your hair
if you were going to telephone,” said Polly. “Can’t you smell
breakfast?”

“Did you all rest well, girls?” asked Mrs. Murray, smiling up at them
from the kitchen table as they entered. “It’s only six now. I thought
you’d be so tired you’d sleep late, but even Jeanie was out a little
past five herself. Peggie, you may dish the porridge, and bring in the
cream.”

Porridge. That sounded solid and Scotch, thought the girls, and they
enjoyed it too, with plenty of cream, and fresh berries, and eggs. It
was very pleasant in the long, low, ceiled kitchen. In the summer time,
the cooking at the ranch was done at what they called the cook-house, a
cabin half rock, half logs apart from the main house. This left the
kitchen free from the warmth of the fire, and all its windows were open.
The interior was unplastered. Here and there on the walls hung a pair of
antlers, and over the fireplace was a pair of long, sword-like horns
from a Rocky Mountain goat. On a homemade rack along one side of the
room were several rifles, and one long, old-fashioned musket.

“That was father’s,” Jean explained, when the girls were examining the
guns after breakfast. “He was in several of the Indian campaigns out
here, along with Sandy MacDowell. Wait until you visit over at the
Alameda ranch, and hear them talk together. Now, come out to the
cook-house and meet Sally. She’s very anxious to see you all.”

“Who’s Sally?” asked Sue.

“Sally is Sally Lost Moon, mother’s standby on the work question. Sally
wandered here years ago in a blizzard. She had lost her way somehow,
trying to get over to Deercroft. She is a half-breed Shoshone squaw who
worked at different camps as cook, until she came to us. If you want to
hear all the old Indian legends of this part of the world, you want to
start Sally talking when she has her supper work all finished, and is
sitting out on the stoop resting.”

The girls trooped after Jean, as she led the way to the cook-house.
Inside, they found Sally Lost Moon, and were formally introduced to her.
She was very “blank” as Ted remarked afterwards, but scrutinized each
young face with shrewd intent, and a curious, set smile, and shook hands
deliberately with each one.

“Can she talk if she really feels like it?” asked Ruth interestedly,
when they left her.

“Indeed she can,” returned Jean. “She is always very dignified with
strangers. She has two little granddaughters at one of the mission
schools, and sometimes they come out in vacation time to see her with
their mother. Each time they bring Sally a gift, and she never uses it.
She has everything that they have brought her sacredly put away. And
she’s so proud that they belong to the Church, and are being educated.
Nearly all the Indian women are that way. It is the men who sit back,
and regret the days before the white men came and took away their
hunting grounds.”

Peggie joined them, and said that Don was anxious for the girls to meet
Prometheus. They went down past the corral, to the wagon sheds, and
there they found Prometheus Bound, as Jean said. He was the most
cheerful looking bear, with a way of holding his jaws open as if he were
smiling, like a panting dog, and he sat up on his hind legs obligingly,
and shook hands with each girl.

“What kind of a bear is he?” asked Polly. “I can’t tell the difference
between the Rocky Mountain bears.”

“You would if you thought about it,” Don told her. “There’s four that we
have up this way, Cinnamon, Silvertip, Grizzly and Common Brown bear.
That’s what old Pro is, just a common brown Johnny bear. I got him when
he was a cub. Some folks up at the Sweetwater ranch were out hunting,
and they killed the mother, and right after it I found this little
shaver trotting around looking for his mother, so I caught him, and
brought him down home, and Peg helped me bring him up. He can dance, and
walk on a pole, and play ’possum, and say his prayers, and do lots of
tricks. We used to have him in the shed back of the house, but mother
sent him down here after he’d eaten up the bishop’s Sunday dinner.”

“Poor old boy.” Sue sympathized with Prometheus, as she always did with
a dumb animal. “I’d love to take you home with me.”

“I’d like to see your mother’s face when you appeared in Queen’s Ferry
leading him,” laughed Ted gayly. “It would be worse than the tame crabs
you caught at Lost Island last summer, Sue.”

“Oh, I don’t know, now. I think he’d make a very nice pet,” returned Sue
reflectively.

“Let’s get Sue away from Prometheus right this minute, girls,” exclaimed
Polly, “or he will surely go back home with us. Miss Murray, are there
any real Indians around here nowadays?”

Jean slipped one arm around Polly’s waist, and they strolled up the
narrow winding path that led to the buttes of sandstone back of the
corral.

“We’ll go up to Council Rock, and there I can tell you about them,” she
said. “And after that, we’ll have the first riding lesson.”

“Where’s Council Rock?” Ruth asked.

“It’s a great flat rock about half a mile up the trail, where the
Indians used to meet under a flag of truce, and parley with the
settlers, and hunters years ago. At one time, I believe it was the only
neutral spot in this whole valley. That was long before Custer’s raid,
back when they were trying to push the railroad through. Don’t you girls
know anything at all about it?”

“Not a blessed thing,” the girls all chimed in.

“Then you must. For though our Wyoming is only one of the girl states as
yet, she has been as great a heroine in her struggle for statehood and
protection as any of the first colonies, I think. And if you are to love
her and appreciate her, you must understand some of her history as
well.”

The trail led upward from the valley over the buttes, winding in and out
between rocks that formed natural buttresses and fortifications. Only
the scrub pines and low spruces found a foothold on them, but the
crevices were filled with mosses and stray flowers. Finally, they came
to a small plateau, or stretch of tableland, and on its brink,
overlooking the ranch and valley, was Council Rock. It was an immense,
natural formation of stone, and as the girls stood there, they could
almost see the circle of chiefs sitting around it, listening in stolid
mistrust to the parleyings of their white brothers.

“There are steps in the rock on this side, girls,” Jean said, showing
them how the stones had been hewn into stairs at one side. “Father has
said he did not doubt that at some far-off age, the Indians offered
sacrifices here to the Sun god. That was the highest worship up here in
our corner of the State, the worship of the Sun god. They used to hold
the great ceremonial here each year, over on Sundance Mountain. Isn’t
that odd? Think how at almost the same time, nations were worshiping the
Sun god in Persia, and Japan, and Peru, and here.”

“I think it was better than praying to three-faced images and totem
poles,” said Ruth, in her grave, unsmiling way. “I suppose the sun
seemed warm and good to them, and they thought it made the world
beautiful.”

“‘And the Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in His wings,’”
quoted Jean, softly. “It is a beautiful thought, Ruth. Let us sit down
here like the old-time chiefs, and talk of our Wyoming.”

“Why do they call it that, Miss Murray?” asked Isabel. “I always like to
know about names.”

“Do you? This name is a rather sad one. After the massacre of 1866, it
was called Wyoming, in memory of the terrible massacre of settlers in
the old Wyoming valley in Pennsylvania. The first white explorer who
found us, was the Chevalier de la Verendrye, back in the early part of
the eighteenth century. He took up fur trading with the natives, and
lived eleven years among them. Later came John Colter—”

“He discovered the Yellowstone,” put in Ruth, “and then the trappers and
traders all came up here. We had that, girls, in Irving’s story about
Captain Bonneville, don’t you remember?”

“And the first white settlement was at Fort Laramie,” went on Jean,
dreamily. Her chin was uplifted. She looked off over the valley with its
winding creek bed, fringed with cottonwoods, and almost forgot the
girls. Dearly had she always loved the story of Wyoming’s upward fight
to statehood. “Then a few more settlements were made. But it was always
hard and dangerous, because there was no protection from the Indians,
and no guarded line of travel. Sandy loves to tell stories of the old
Bonzeman trail, and Conner’s march in which he participated, back in
’65. But finally the needs became so urgent that the railroad decided to
push through an overland route following the old trail.”

“What did the Indians say to that?” asked Sue, eagerly.

“They said little, but waited. Up this way, there were Sioux, and
Arapahoes. South were the Cheyennes, and west the friendly Crows. They
called them Upserokas, then, ‘from the land of the crows.’ And in 1866,
these tribes all met at Laramie to hold a council with the government
commission about the road. They seemed to be acting in good faith, and
willing for the country to be opened up. Forts were established, and
posts here and there, but in December of that same year, without
warning, the Indians decoyed three officers and over seventy men into
ambush, and killed them. And for years after that, it is one long story
of brave men trying to hold point after point against odds, with long
delays in government relief, until finally General Grant ordered the
forts demolished for lack of troops to keep them up. Think of that,
girls.”

“But there was Custer,” Polly broke in.

“Indeed there was, Polly,” agreed Jean, warmly. “You want to hear Sandy
tell of Custer. He was one of his scouts. Custer gave his heart to
Wyoming, and his life. I think that Sandy always feels he was most
unjustly treated by fate because he did not go with Custer on his last
journey, when the Sioux killed the entire command on Little Big Horn
River.”

“All of them?” asked Ted, in almost a whisper, her gray eyes wide and
startled.

“All, dear. So you see why Wyoming seems to me like the girl state. She
is so young and so willing and eager, and she has suffered greatly. We
who have been born here, and know her, realize her growth in the past
twenty years. There, I see Don waving to us from the corral, now. Who
wants to ride?”

“Riding skirts, girls, first,” Polly cried, and away they went down the
path to the cabin to change for the first ride. It had been Jean’s first
warning to them, the riding skirts. Out west, side saddles were a thing
of the past, she told the girls. There must be divided skirts, made very
much like their regular outing skirts of khaki, but giving perfect
freedom in the saddle.

“I must remember and show you my buckskin skirt that Archie made for me
when I was about your age,” she had said. “It was my first riding skirt,
and I felt like a real squaw in it.”

Don had five ponies ready for them when they returned to the corral, and
Jean’s own broncho besides. Saddled and bridled they waited, and Mrs.
Murray came down from the main cabin to see the first try-out. Even
Sally watched them from her cook-house, and smiled in her stolid,
close-lipped way as Polly and Ted took the lead, and mounted their
ponies.

Isabel and Ruth hesitated, but Sue followed the others, and Jean last of
all, on Ginger.

“We named him that for two reasons,” she said, as they rode down the
trail towards the creek. “He’s the color of ginger, and he has a temper
that is gingery too.” She turned in her saddle to see if the last two
girls were mounted safely. Very stiffly and anxiously they both sat in
the saddles, Isabel with her back stiff as a poker, Ruth precise and
resolute, her knees gripping the pony’s sides as though she had been on
a pony express. “Don’t be afraid, girls,” she called to them. “They
won’t bolt or kick a bit. Let them take the trail, and they’ll follow
after the rest like sheep. Just hold them up a bit when you come to a
steep incline, that’s all.”

“Don gave me a quirt,” said Polly, holding up the short braided whip.

“You’d better not wave it over Jinks’ head, young lady,” Jean laughed.
“He objects strongly to violent persuasion of any sort. Just be content
to jog along easily for a while.”

“Oh, where’s Peggie?” asked Sue suddenly. “I thought she was coming with
us.”

“She started out long ago, goose,” Ted told her. “I saw something go
‘sky-hooting’ along this road right after breakfast, and at first I
thought it must be a deer, or an Indian, but I saw Peggie’s pigtails
flying, and knew it was just she. Does she always ride that way, Miss
Murray?”

Jean laughed, and her eyes grew tender.

“I think she does. She rides to school all winter on that pony. Father
gave it to her when she was about eight, for her very own, and she talks
to it as though it understood everything. I presume it would seem
strange to you girls to have the birthday presents we two have been
accustomed to. Sometimes father gives us a pony, sometimes a yearling,
or even a calf of our own, and we help look after them ourselves. He
says that one of the finest ways to teach yourself self-reliance and
responsibility is to have a living creature dependent on you. Take the
turn to your left, Polly, where you come to the fork in the road over
the bridge.”

Polly was leading, or rather Jinks was leading. He had a most
authoritative way of throwing up his nose, and jerking the bridle as he
went along, and a reckless swing to his gait that was enchanting, Polly
thought. She only wished the Admiral might have seen her then. Down the
road from the ranch, and over the plank bridge at the creek, they went.
On the other side, at the fork, Jean told them one road led over the way
they had come from Deercroft, and the other one led due west towards the
Alameda ranch, where Mrs. Sandy lived.

“It is too far to go to-day, girls, when you are not used to riding, but
we can try it in a few days, I think. Elspeth has gone over there now,
to let them know you came yesterday.”

“I wonder, Miss Murray,” called back Polly over her shoulder, “why it
was that Miss Calvert didn’t send any message to Miss Diantha by us.”

“I don’t know anything about it, Polly, any more than you do,” said
Jean, simply. “Mother knows what the trouble is between the two sisters,
because Mrs. Sandy told her herself, but we don’t know. Mother has that
way always. Sometimes father will tell what he thinks is a great piece
of news, and mother will say very gently, ‘Land o’ rest, David, I knew
that six months ago. You mustn’t go ’round telling all you hear.’ Mrs.
Sandy had always told Peggie and me about her stately sister at the old
Southern home in Queen’s Ferry, and when I gave up the school over at
Beaver Ford and told her I wanted to get into an upper class school, or
preparatory for college, she said that she would write to her sister in
my behalf at Calvert Hall, and, well—I got the appointment.”

“But Miss Calvert never talks about her, and she didn’t send her love by
us,” put in Isabel, decidedly. “Has she lived out West here long, Miss
Murray?”

“Before father took up his claim. I really am not sure how long it is. I
know that Sandy was born East, but did most of his fighting out here,
and then he went back home, and married Miss Diantha. Perhaps, before
you go back home, you may find out all about it.”

“Oh, girls, look,” cried Polly, turning around eagerly. They had come to
a turn in the road, skirting the base of the mountain. On one side was
the sheer, precipitous cliff, with straight trunks of pines and spruce
rising like ship masts higher and higher, until the tops were lost to
sight. Below were the pines too, and the ground grew more and more
rugged, as they rode upward. Far beneath them lay the valley, and in the
distance was the ranch, its buildings and corrals looking almost like
toys. Ahead the wagon road wound around the face of the mountain, and
disappeared.

“We call this the Delectable Mountain,” Jean told them, as they all
halted, to look at the gorgeous panorama outspread before them. “Mother
named it years ago. It was a long and weary trip for her out here. They
came by wagon from Iowa, the nearest shipping point. Mother has often
told us of the long trip, and how kind people were at the ranches they
passed along the route, but how very few there were. Father had taken up
the claim, and then had sent for her to bring the goods on, and he met
her. And she says that when, at last, after days and days of travel,
they finally came around this curve of the old trail, and the valley lay
before her, she just looked and looked at it, and smiled. ‘Davy, it’s
the Delectable Mountain, isn’t it, dear heart, and yonder lies our
Promised Land.’ That is what she said, girls. I think it was, too.”

The girls were silent. It was about eleven, and the sunlight flooded the
valley with its golden glow. About it, the mountains grouped
shelteringly. For miles and miles, in all the vast view, the only spot
of human life was the ranch. And for the moment there came to the girls,
even in their own careless pleasure, a realization of what that long
journey had meant to the bride of thirty years ago, and what simple
heroism there lay in the story of the valley home.

“How brave she was,” said Ruth, gently. “What did she do when the
Indians came around?”

“She gave them bread,” Jean replied, smiling. “Mother doesn’t believe
much in bullets. Now, ride along, girls. We’ll go as far as the spring
cave for this morning, then back home to dinner, and you’ll have done
very well. I think even the Admiral would say that much.”

They kept on for another three quarters of a mile, until the road
broadened out, and there, at the side, was a spring tumbling and
trickling out of the rocky ledge. A granite cup was tucked into one of
the crevices, and they all dismounted, and had a good drink, then rode
back to the ranch with keen appetites for one of Mrs. Murray’s famous
dinners.

That first day at the ranch seemed the longest of the stay, when the
girls looked back to it afterwards. There were so many things to see and
talk about, so much ground to cover.

“It is sure to be like this for the first few days,” Mrs. Murray told
them, smilingly. “It is the same with my own bairns when they come home
for the summer vacation. They are like a lot of sheep for a while,
following me around, and dodging at their father’s heels the same way.
You must not try to do too much at first, or you’ll do nothing at all.”

“If I learn how to saddle a pony to-day, I’ll feel I’ve done well,”
sighed Sue. “I’ve tried to do it four times so far, and Don laughs at
me. When I tried to put the halter around his neck, I got hold of the
wrong end of the rope, and it was upside down. But I’m going right back,
and try it over.”

The girls laughed as she sped back to the corral. They were sitting out
of doors after supper, some on the broad low stoop, some in the hammock.
Mr. Murray had arrived from Deercroft about sunset with his two big
boys, as he called them. Two stalwart Westerners they were, with their
mother’s steady gray eyes, and the close-lipped smile of their father.

“I thought they were just boys from the way Miss Jean talked of them,”
protested Polly, as she looked after the two striding away to the house
with their suit-cases. “They’re grown up.”

“Archie is twenty-three, and Neil a year older,” explained Jean. “But
still they seem like boys, don’t they, mother dear?”

“They’re growing fast, Jeanie,” was all Mrs. Murray would say.

“We won’t see them much after to-morrow,” went on Jean. “Help is scarce
out here, and they have to help father with his haying. Ours is not a
big ranch, you know, girls. We’re only a home ranch, so we hardly depend
on the range at all for feed. It used to be a case of everybody turn out
the cattle to graze, and then have the two big round-ups, spring and
fall, but now everything has gone into sheep, as the cow-men say. Father
sold off his stock about seven years ago, and went in for sheep, as soon
as the trouble had quieted down.”

“What trouble?” asked Polly. “I didn’t know there was any trouble out
West here excepting from Indians long ago.”

“Didn’t you?” Jean smiled. “You should have lived here during the range
trouble. The range used to be free for all, girls, but the cattlemen
said when the sheep grazed on it, they didn’t leave enough for a
grasshopper to perch on. So they tried to drive them out. And you know
the old riddle. When an irresistible body meets an immovable body, what
is the result?”

“General and inevitable smash-up,” Ted said.

“Exactly. In this case, after thousands of sheep had been killed and
many men too; after the wells had been poisoned, and all the State
turned into a boiling kettle of trouble; all at once, Uncle Sam stepped
in, and homesteaded the land. That meant the loss of the range in a way,
although up here in our corner, we haven’t had much trouble, have we,
mother?”

“It’s a blessing we haven’t,” declared Mrs. Murray fervently. “Between
the Indians, the long winters, the range troubles, and the loneliness
out here, I’m thinking we’re as much pioneers and good pilgrims as those
that landed on the rock at Cape Cod. If it hadn’t been for the children,
I’d have grieved, but there’s no time for grieving with a brood of
bairns growing up around you.”

“It must be nice to belong to a large family,” Polly said, wistfully.
“Especially if they looked alike like yours do, Mrs. Murray. It must be
like having a lot of little selves around you.”

“Isn’t that just like Polly,” cried Ted. “Now, I’ve got two brothers,
and they’re not a bit like me. Mother says I am a good deal more like
the one boy in the family. Oh, look, girls!”

“It’s only Don,” Jean said, rising to get a better view. “He’s riding
Scamp. That’s his own pony. He broke him himself, and taught him tricks.
They say he’d make a good polo pony, but Don wouldn’t sell him for any
price.”

The girls rose to get a good look as Don flashed by on the calico pony.
Down went his hat on the earth, and he swung round in an oval, leaned
far over sideways, and caught up the hat. Then once again, and this
time, it was the handkerchief from his throat that went fluttering into
the dust, and as he came back, he seemed to almost slip out of the
saddle, as he caught it up.

Then he took the rope that hung at the saddle-bow, and sent it twirling
far out in ever widening circles and ovals.

“Don’t catch me, Don,” Peggie called merrily, as she ran up from the
corral.

“I could if I wanted to,” Don shouted back.

“Eh, lad,” his father said. “Hold up a bit, and to-morrow Archie and
Neil will help you show off.”

“It must be splendid to watch you roping cattle,” Polly said. “I’d like
to see that.”

“You’ll see that over at Sandy’s,” Mr. Murray promised. “Sandy’s the
only one of us old timers who sticks to tradition. His place is the same
to-day as it was twenty years ago. He has the only long-horned Texan
steers in the county, I think. When I put sheep in here at the Crossbar,
Sandy said he wouldn’t depend for a living on any herd of huckle-backed
lambies for all the country east of the Mississippi. He’s very set in
his opinions and habits, Sandy is.”

“Father,” interrupted Jean. “Do you remember the day the timber fire got
in the Pine Ridge stretch, and the cattle stampeded?”

“I didn’t know you had timber fires up here,” Ruth exclaimed seriously.
“There doesn’t seem to be much timber to burn.”

“Which makes what there is more precious, child,” laughed Mr. Murray.
“Anyhow, it’s true. We don’t have them as a usual thing, but now and
then they’ll start in spring and fall when the dry leaves and underbrush
are like excelsior for blazing up over nothing. This one on Pine Ridge
happened about eight or nine years ago. The lads were home then, but our
Jeanie was at school down at Laramie, taking her Normal course. Somehow
a fire started off yonder on the Pine Ridge range, southwest of here,
just behind old Topnotch Mountain. Archie saw the smoke pouring up, and
called out to me. I had the herd grazing around the shoulder of
Topnotch. The leader was a fine old chap. He knew more about herding
than any steer I ever saw, but he didn’t know a thing about timber
fires. This one was jumping from dry brush and grass straight for spruce
clumps, and scrub pine, and while the ranch wasn’t in danger, the herd
was, because that leader stampeded the wrong way, and all the rest after
him. Instead of making for the valley and home, he went on a dead run
straight for a line of buttes, and a drop of two hundred feet down over
the rocks.”

“Like enough you and Archie would have gone over with the cattle, too,
father,” interposed Mrs. Murray, placidly.

“Oh, how did you stop them?” broke in Ted, anxiously.

“Archie did the neatest bit of rope play I ever saw. He raced alongside
on his pony, and slung the rope fair around the old lad’s horns, and
turned him. Stop him? Indeed, and he never stopped till he reached the
home valley, but it turned him in the right direction. Sandy always
reminds me that is a rare bit of telling, but I saw it happen. Now,
girls, early to bed with you all, if it’s trolling you’ll be to-morrow
early.”

“What’s trolling?” asked Polly. “A troll’s a kind of gnome, isn’t it?”

“Not in Wyoming. Up here you troll for trout.”

“I thought you trailed for them,” said Sue. “Don’t you trail the bait
along on the top of the water, and kind of skip it?”

“There was a boy used to come and play with Stoney,” Polly added. “A
little colored boy from down the river, and he said he knew how to lie
down on the bank, and reach under, and grab the trout.”

“Now, Polly, if you develop into a teller of trout tales, you’ll be
worse than Don. Listen.” Jean rose from the hammock. “First of all, you
must fish up-stream. No standing still, and waiting for the fish to
bite. You must learn how to hunt the best spots, and then to cast well.
Trout lie with heads pointed up-stream, and hunt the shadowy nooks.
Peggie and Don are our best catchers.”

“It’s all in the way you cast and troll,” spoke up Peggie, half shyly.
“You mustn’t throw out heavily, or you scare them away, and you must
draw the fly very, very lightly along. Don’s caught them with worms, but
I like the flies best. We’ll go fishing to-morrow.”

“Not so soon,” protested Jean. “They want to get up early, and take a
ride before breakfast to-morrow, and you’ll need a good misty morning
for successful fishing. Did you ride all the way over to Sandy’s, Peg?”

Peggie nodded happily, and smiled.

“Mrs. Sandy says she’s glad they got here all safe and sound, and she
wants us all to ride over as soon as we can.”

“Next week we will ride over,” Jean said. “I want you to be accustomed
to the saddle, girls, first. We will ride every day, somewhere around
home here, and there are a good many interesting things to see. There
are Indian graves up in the hills, and the Picture Rocks down the river;
plenty to keep you busy.”

“We’d better go to bed,” cried Polly, rising. “We want to be up with the
chickens to-morrow, and make the most of every day we’re here.”

“If you rise early, you will be in time for a dip with Peggie and me. We
go in about five. Did you bring your suits?”

“Yes, they did, but if I hadn’t told them to do so, not one would have
remembered,” Ruth said, soberly.

“Oh, listen a minute,” Peggie cautioned. “Sally is singing the chant of
the new moon.”

In the hush that followed, they heard the old squaw’s low tremulous
tones, over and over, singing the same strange minor notes, quavering
and simple, that seemed to hold the spirit of the night and the spell of
these far reaches of distant hills and mountain ranges, in their melody.
Overhead, the new moon showed in the sky, silver and slender against the
amber afterglow of the sunset. Out on a patch of ground between the
ranch house and the cook-cabin stood the old Indian woman, lifting up
her arms every now and then as she sang, or rather, grunted the chant.

“What does she mean?” whispered Isabel. “I can’t understand a word she
says.”

“Neither does anybody else,” replied Jean. “Mother thinks it is part of
some old invocation to the moon, or a prayer for fair weather.
Sometimes, when she is in the humor, Sally will sit and tell us old
tales that she used to hear when she was a child in the Shoshone camps.
That was before the government compelled the tribe to give up their
roaming life, and settle down on the reservation at Fort Washakie.”

“What a queer name, Miss Jean!”

“It is in honor of the great Chief Washakie, Polly. He was the best
friend the whites had out here, and was always loyal.”

They did not disturb Sally Lost Moon, but called good-night to Mr.
Murray and the boys, and went over to the lodge.

“If you need more blankets, call out,” Jean said as she bade them
good-night.

“All right,” answered Polly. “Let’s not light a lamp, girls. I almost
wish we were in a tent.”

“I wish we were going to sleep right on Council Rock,” Ruth declared.
“I’d like to lie on my back, and look up at the stars and feel the earth
go ’round. Doesn’t this all make you want to fit into the same tune? I
mean, doesn’t it make you want to match the wilds, and be an Indian or a
ranch girl, or anyone who really belongs here. I feel as though Virginia
must be over on some star.”

“You’re sentimental, grandma,” Sue said, happily. “And that’s what
you’re always calling the rest of us. I’m really surprised at you, Ruth,
wanting to lie down and look at the stars and watch the world go ’round.
That’s like Polly. Virginia isn’t on a star. It’s right down back of
Topnotch there.”

“Yes, and what kind of an Indian would you make with pigtails, and
spectacles, goose?” added Polly.

“I don’t care,” sighed Ruth. “I feel that way. I think I’d like to live
out here.”

“There you are! And Peggie said to-day, she thought she’d like to live
down East,” laughed Polly. “It’s like Aunty Welcome tells about flies on
a window. All those on the outside want to get in, and all on the inside
want to get out.”

“But have you seen Peggie’s room yet?” asked Ruth, in self-defense.

“Not yet. Why?”

“Just wait.” Very mysteriously. “I wouldn’t spoil the surprise for you
by telling about it. I only wish I had one like it. She didn’t even
realize how different it was from other girls’ rooms until I told her
about it. It’s full of—no, I won’t tell. You will see it to-morrow.”

“Oh, please, Ruth, please,” they all begged.

“I shall put my shoes right back on,” protested Ted. “I feel put upon.”

“Let’s wait till morning,” Polly decided. “Peggie will be in bed now,
anyway. I don’t believe Ruth got more than a peep at it herself.”

“I didn’t,” said Ruth meekly. “It was through the window too, while
Peggie was in there after something. All I could see were horns and
pelts, and baskets, and that sort of thing, but she says she has ever so
many things she has collected.”

“I like Peggie,” Isabel said suddenly, in her precise way. “She has the
deepest dimples I ever saw.”

“Sally Lost Moon calls them smile holes,” said Polly. “Isn’t that dear,
girls? Smile holes.”

“Oh, listen a minute,” interrupted Sue who was near the open door. Up
from the corral came the Murray boys, singing together. They could not
catch the words, but the swinging, happy lilt carried on the night air.
The last line they heard clearly.

“Will you ride,
Oh, will you ride,
Say, will you ride the trail with me?”

It died away as they went into the main cabin, just as the new moon
slipped behind Topnotch’s shoulder.

“Will you ride,” started up Ted.

“Oh, will you ride,” Sue caught it up, and the rest finished it, Polly
beating time with the heel of her shoe on the side of her cot.

“Say, will you ride the trail with me?”

“Ranch taps, girls,” Ruth reminded them. “Up early for a swim, you
know.”

“Will you ride,” began Ted, gaily, but a well-aimed pillow from Polly
cut off the tantalizing strain, for all the world like a young rooster’s
crow, and they went quietly to sleep.

The long night’s quiet rest left the girls refreshed and bright. When
Peggie and Jean came over to the lodge at five, they were up and
dressed, ready for the run down to the creek for a morning dip.

“You’ll find it very different from sea bathing, girls,” Jean told them.
“The water does not have the same buoyancy, but it gives one a feeling
of exhilaration all the same. This place has been our swimming hole for
years.”

“I should think so, by the beaten path to it,” remarked Ruth. “You can’t
lose your way, can you?”

The little path led down to the creek, and along its winding course
until it turned a bend, and slipped into rapids around a rough, old
butte that the children at the ranch had named Thunder Cloud, years
before. Here the creek bed was full of rocks, as if, Polly said, years
before, some giant had thrown them down there like a handful of pebbles.
A little farther on, the creek broadened and deepened, and there lay the
swimming hole.

“There are no rocks in it, here,” said Elspeth. “It’s only up to my
shoulders at the center, excepting in early spring, when the snows melt,
and then it’s a regular torrent through the whole valley.”

Ted and Sue waded out into midstream carefully. They had dressed in
bathing suits up at the cabin, and even putting them on again had
brought back the old joyous times at Lost Island last summer.

The water felt cool, but not chilling. Isabel and Ruth splashed about in
the shore shallows experimentally, but Polly stood on a rock, and looked
around her at the gorgeous scenery. The sun was well up in the heavens,
but over everything there still clung the soft, hazy mist of a midsummer
dawn. The distant mountains looked as if they had folded violet and
pearl cloaks about them. The summits were veiled in straying, ever
changing cloud wreaths. Even the near-by buttes of sandstone and shale,
rugged and bare as they were, took on a certain beauty of their own in
that tender, mellowing light. The bottom of the creek looked golden too,
and the water was full of shimmering, shining ripples, as the girls
splashed into it, with merry cries.

“I wish there was a long stretch of sandy beach, don’t you, girls?” said
Isabel, as she hesitated, a mermaid without a resting place. “This shore
is so rocky.”

“Rocky,” exclaimed Sue, floundering around vigorously. “Call this rocky
after Maine. These rocks are pebbles.”

“Do you expect a Wyoming swimming hole to be a seaside sun-bath?” called
out Ted. “Come on in, Polly. It’s splendid.”

“This used to be the old fording place, mother says, for westbound
cattle bunches years ago,” said Jean, as she stopped a few minutes after
a spurt up the river and back. “Some of the settlers went this way too.
They named it Thunder Ford, so we called the old butte yonder Thunder
Cloud. There used to be a chief of that name. I can just remember seeing
him once when I was a little girl. I rode up to Sundance with father,
and they had a sheriff’s sale of Indian ponies.”

“Oh, tell us about it,” Polly begged at once, wading towards her. “We
can hear you.”

“There wasn’t anything to tell. The Indians were in debt, I guess, and
had to sell their ponies, some of them anyway, to settle. They showed
them off first, and many cowboys had ridden in from outlying ranches to
watch the fun. Each Indian would mount his pony, and try to put it
through all kinds of tricks, with the cowboys shouting at them, and
urging them on. There’s a little square of green grass in the center of
the town. At least, it’s supposed to be green, but it was pretty well
sun-dried and brown. Father and I stood there, and watched the racing,
and I noticed the old Indian next to me. He was very tall and homely,
with a broad band tied around his head, and one big eagle’s feather
slipped through. Then he wore an old army shirt, and fringed buckskin
‘chaps,’ and last of all, there was a heavy government blanket half
trailing from his waist; and mind, girls, this was in July.”

“Maybe he felt that he had to wear it as long as the government had
given it to him,” suggested Isabel, thoughtfully.

“Maybe he did. He watched the race with his arms folded, and when father
spoke to him, he wouldn’t even glance at him. But I said I couldn’t see,
and all at once, he lifted me up in his arms, where I could get a good
view of the street and the ponies, and held me there. And afterwards,
when we were buying things at the general store, we found out he was old
Chief Thunder Cloud who used to be with Sitting Bull years ago.”

“Can we get any bead work, or baskets around here, Miss Jean?” asked
Polly, as the remembrance of Mrs. Yates’ commission occurred to her.

“You can buy them at any of the reservations. When the bishop comes, we
will ask him.”

“When will he be here?” questioned Polly, with interest.

“Any time. He usually stops over night at our ranch on his way north. It
is different being a bishop out here from what it means in the eastern
or even middle states. Here he is a pioneer missionary. Do you know,
girls, that he even has jurisdiction over the reservations, at least the
Shoshone one?”

“He’s tall, and kind of young, and rides a horse like a soldier,” put in
Peggie. “And he looks like a soldier. That’s why all the ranchers and
cowboys like him, I guess.”

“I’m getting cold,” Isabel exclaimed, shivering.

“I should think you would,” declared Ted, “standing there with the water
up to your ankles. Isabel, I sigh to think what would ever become of you
in a deep swimming tank. You’d cling to the side like an anemone.”

“All out now,” Jean called. “And we’d better run to keep up the
circulation. Next time we’ll bring down the swimming suits, and kimonos,
and dress here. It’s too long a trip in wet clothes.”

Up the path they went, dripping wet, and radiant with health and
happiness.

“Hurry up and dress, girls,” Jean said, as they came to the guest cabin.
“After breakfast, we’ll ride over the other way towards the sheep range,
and you’ll have a chance to look them over.”

“Oh, look down there at Don,” cried Peggie, suddenly, and the next
minute she was flying as fast as her feet could carry her towards the
corral.

“Head him off, Peg, head him off,” shouted Don. “Not that way, over
here. Oh, suffering cats, look at that!”

“He’s making a bee line for the bars, Don; I can’t stop him,” Peggie
cried.

A flying streak of gray darted madly across the bare, brown earth of the
corral. Headlong after it raced Don, waving his arms and whooping
shrilly.

“What on earth—” began Ruth, but Sue, Ted and Polly were already on the
way to the corral also, and Jean was laughing.

“It’s Don’s timber cub,” she said to Ruth and Isabel. “He’s loose.”

Don caught at a coiled rope that hung on a saddle on the fence, just
where he had left it before saddling up for the ride. The streak of gray
made for the open passage like an escaped fleck of quicksilver, and Don
set his teeth, and threw out on a chance.

“I got him,” he called, as the rope circled out through the air, and
drew taut and snug over something. “He’s a dandy little cub. I brought
him in last week. Two months old. From Badger Hole Creek. The herders
said the mother was shot when she was hanging around the sheep one night
nearly two weeks ago. This little shaver must have been trying to find
her ever since. I’m going to tame him.”

Tenderly he bent over the palpitating little form, and loosened the
rope. The wolf cub looked like a shaggy, big-headed little Spitz dog,
with a very pointed nose. It tried to burrow down in Don’s coat sleeve,
and he trotted it back to its new home, a cage he had fashioned for it
in the shade of the wagon shed.

“What’s his name, Don?” asked Sue, eagerly.

“Kink,” grinned back Don. “Suits him, doesn’t it? I’ll have him tamed in
a month, but he’s pretty shy now.”

“Breakfast,” called Mrs. Murray from the back door of the house, and
they hurried back to the cabin to dress.

“Put on your riding skirts,” warned Jean. When they had finished eating,
there was no delay about the start. Don had the five ponies saddled in a
few minutes, and this time it was easier mounting, but it was still hard
to get accustomed to the movement of the ponies.

“I feel as if I were going to tumble off any minute,” Ruth declared.

“You should ride the funny little burros down in Colorado if you want a
good jogging,” Jean said. “Last summer mother was pretty well tired out
after the shearing and shipping and all that, so after the extra helpers
had gone, I took her down for a little trip to the Springs, and we had a
good time. It was her first vacation in thirty years. I don’t like to
ride burros at all. The best horses for these roads are the
cross-breeds, half Indian pony, half easterner, like ours.”

“Oh, aren’t we going on Topnotch to-day?” asked Ted, as they took the
opposite turn at the creek crossing.

“No. We’re bound for the north this time. It’s a good ride, and easy for
you, and you’ll get used to the saddle.”

After they had passed the valley and lower buttes, great, rolling
tablelands came in view, their jagged bluffs fringed with scrub-pine and
spruce.

“This is the open range,” Jean said. “It goes on for miles and miles to
the north, higher and higher till it blends into Bear Lodge.”

“Oh, girls, don’t you remember that place in the Bible?” exclaimed
Polly, halting to lift her head and draw in deep breaths of the clear
fine air. “I mean where it tells about the cattle on a thousand hills.
Who’d want an old, smelly, burnt sacrifice, when he could have this, and
all the cattle on them.”

The full heat of the day was still far off, and the morning calm and
hazy. The lazy, droning sound of insects came from the shadowy depths of
sage-brush on either side of the path, and High Jinks would shy every
now and then as a honey-laden bee or flippant butterfly darted by his
nose.

“Is it far?” asked Polly, after they had passed the low, sun-dried bed
of Coon Creek, and struck out across a long, open stretch of upland with
only a ragged pine here and there to break its barren monotony.

“About five miles the short way, but nearly fifteen if we had to go
around the hills west of here. Father fixed a short cut years ago when
we used to pasture our herd on the Black Pine stretch. He built a bridge
over the gulch up here. Some of the road is so overgrown now that you
have to take your time. Polly, don’t hold Jinks in if you can stand a
little gallop. He’s just ready to dance for a run.”

“I won’t hold him in—” began Polly, and she slackened her hold on the
bridle. The pony shook his head free joyously, and started off on a
helter-skelter canter that made Polly lean forward, and grip his sides
with her knees like an Indian. Her cap dropped off, and her hair tumbled
down from its pins, but she liked it. Jean and Peggie had shown her how
to adjust herself to every turn and twist of the pony, how to grip with
her knees, and lean over his neck, and stand in the stirrups when he
ran. Many things had she learned with the other girls too, in just one
day at the Crossbar, and not the least of them was to consider the
temperament and feelings of the pony she rode.

“They’re all good chums, if you only know how to treat them right,”
Peggie had said, and the girls believed it.

Peggie came after her on her pony, Twinkle, but Polly beat her, and they
both reined up short and waited for the rest. Sue had dismounted, picked
up Polly’s cap, and was bringing it.

“Twinkle isn’t quite as fast a runner as Jinks,” Peggie said loyally,
“but he has a very understanding way with him. I like a horse that
understands, don’t you? I don’t like the white patch over Jinks’ eye,
because it always looks as if he had an eyeglass on, like Mr. Cameron,
the owner of the Red Star outfit.”

By this time the rest had caught up.

“Look west, girls,” said Jean, suddenly, pointing with her quirt. “See
where the ground sinks, and there’s a fringe of timber? That’s Lost
Chance Gulch, where father built the bridge.”

“What a queer name,” exclaimed Isabel, who was ever ready to scent a
story of romance. “Who lost the chance?”

“An old trapper named Zed Reed. He built a shack down in the gulch,
father says, years and years ago, and always vowed there was gold there.
Folks said he was a little bit light headed. I can remember seeing him
come to our place. Father used to give him work now and then to feed
him. He was very tall, and had a long red beard, and curly red hair, and
he wore a coonskin cap with the tail hanging down one side. I used to
like to have him come because he could play on the fiddle. He carried it
in an inside coat pocket that he had had made specially to hold it, and
he would play the loveliest tunes on it. The people around here, and
even the Indians, called him Old Darned Coat. Isn’t that a funny name?”

“Why?” asked Polly. “I never came across so many dandy stories about
people and places.”

“This country up here is full of stories,” answered Jean, dreamily. “I
love them. They are so real, and so full of human interest. People said
that, years before, Zed had been engaged to Colette Buteau, the daughter
of the French Canadian that used to keep the old trading post on the
Dakota border at Twin Forks. She died a day or two before the wedding.
She, with her father, was killed by the Sioux. Zed was never the same
after that, and he said he would wear his wedding coat for the rest of
his life. It was a green broadcloth coat, with black velvet collar and
large silk-covered buttons, and it had big revers, and a skirt to it,
and the lining was quilted silk. I suppose it was a very wonderful coat
in those days, but Zed kept his vow, and as the years went on, and the
coat grew shabbier and shabbier, he would darn each little frayed rent
as tenderly and carefully as possible. Mother says that finally it
seemed to be all darns, and they called him Old Darned Coat. I can
remember him coming to the back door, and bowing so courteously to
mother, and saying, ‘Howdy, Mis’ Murray. Could I get just a little piece
of darning silk from you, I wonder—silk twist is best of all, and I’ll
work it out on the wood pile.’”

“Did he die?” asked Sue, her eyes wide with interest.

“Yes. Father found him in his shack, just asleep, with Colette’s picture
beside him on his fiddle, and under the two, the old darned wedding
coat. He was buried in it.”

The girls were silent as they passed the level upland. The ground was
dipping again, and patches of trees became frequent. Ted and Sue were in
the lead now, and finally, as they came in sight of Sundance Mountain in
the far distance, about forty miles off, Peggie told them why it was
called that.

“I love its name,” she said, in her odd way, half shy, half abrupt. “It
always makes me think of the days that Sandy tells us about, before even
father came here, when the Indians would send out runners from tribe to
tribe to call them to the Sun Dance, and they would all gather each year
at the mountain to hold the dance and feast for seven days, I think it
was.”

“It must have been happy for them,” Sue said, “when the land was all
their very own, I mean. Sometimes, I don’t blame them for fighting for
it. After all, it had been theirs for so long. How would we like to be
chased off, like a lot of stray cats, just because we didn’t want our
country taken from us.”

Polly reined in her pony sharply.

“Look!” she cried. “Is that the bridge, Miss Jean?”

“That is it,” Jean answered, and they urged the ponies forward.

The path made a sharp turn to the left, and instead of the tall grass of
the low ground, up here they found the earth rough, and strewn with
jagged points of rock. They had come to the end of the trail, and could
look down into the shadowy depths of Lost Chance Gulch. A bridge of logs
spanned it, with hand rails on each side, and they rode over it in
Indian file, the ponies picking their way daintily. All excepting Polly.
Jinks hesitated at the bridge, and backed away.

“Now, what does ail him?” asked Polly, but before she could answer,
something crashed through the underbrush beside her. All she saw was the
haunches of a brown doe, but Jinks did not like it a bit, and he began
to live up to his name. The rest had gone on. And all at once a figure
came out from the gloom of the gulch, such a strange looking figure,
that for the moment, as she looked at him, and he at her in equal
astonishment, she thought it must be the ghost of old Zed himself.

Continue Reading

LAWLESS DEVICES

That night Polly consulted the Admiral. Sitting opposite him in the
study after dinner, she went over her plans very carefully.

“Each of the girls can give something different. I want to have a
birthday party, grandfather dear.”

“But your birthday is in December—” began the Admiral, in faint protest.

“This will be a universal birthday party, everybody’s birthday party. We
will have very good refreshments to start with. Crullers always says the
success of anything depends on the food. And we’ll decorate the lawn and
veranda, and have music too. We won’t charge any admission at all, but
every one who comes in, will be handed a nice little silk bag, and told
to put in it as many pennies as they are years old.”

“Highway robbery,” exclaimed the Admiral. “Think how it will beggar me,
and let everybody know how old I am too.”

“Oh, no, it won’t, because we shall not tell,” Polly promised
laughingly. “Isn’t it a good idea? Nearly everybody’s over twenty, and
some are even over fifty. We’ll invite all the nice old people in
Queen’s Ferry.”

“And treat them as if it were their birthdays, I presume.”

“Oh, yes. And don’t you see, grandfather, if I give that kind of a
party, and Isabel has the strawberry lawn fête, and the others plan
other things, we’ll have quite a lot of money for the trip.”

“It’s worth something to parents and guardians and grandfathers to get
rid of you during the summer,” said the Admiral, gravely, but with
twinkling eyes. “If this is to be strictly on a business basis, I think
that item should be counted in. There should be a sympathy meeting
called amongst us to discuss that phase of it. I will give fifty dollars
towards a relief fund to send girls away on vacations, myself.”

“Will you?” Polly regarded him with interest, her head a little on one
side like a robin as she thought over the proposition. It was a tempting
one, but she remembered the code of honor at the Crossbar. “Maybe we’ll
have to appeal for help before we get through, but we want to try first,
and earn it ourselves. You understand, don’t you, grandfather dear? We
don’t want it to happen so—oh, so easily.”

The Admiral declared it was much better to take the cash outright than
to wheedle it out by birthday parties, and strawberry festivals, and
other “lawless devices,” but Polly went ahead just the same.

Every day, whenever there was a chance, the five met to talk over ways
and means. Sue wrestled with the problem for some time, and finally she
and Ted put their heads together, and decided to hold an auction.

“You can’t hold an auction unless you have something to sell,” Ruth
remonstrated.

“We’ll sell things,” the two promised, and they surely did when the time
came.

Isabel held fast to her strawberry fête, and Ruth pondered over how she
could do her share. Miss Murray had been attracted from the first of the
term to this quiet, old-fashioned girl, with the big brown eyes, and
spectacles, and serious yet whimsical way with her. She knew that while
the other girls had nice homes, and sure prospects, Ruth was dependent
on her aunt, and had to make her own way as soon as she left school.
Perhaps this bred a sort of kinship in sympathy between them. At all
events, Ruth found that nearly every day she would have a talk with
Jean.

Finally, they took Miss Calvert into their confidence, and she had a
suggestion to make at once.

“Why, Ruth, child, don’t you think you could bring the little lame Ellis
boy up in his lessons so he could take the examinations,” she said,
hopefully. “Mrs. Ellis was asking me only Sunday how she could manage
with him, and he is quite convalescent now. The doctor says his worrying
over falling behind will retard his recovery.”

Ruth’s face brightened. The little lame Ellis boy, as every one in
Queen’s Ferry called him, was the only child of Payne Ellis, the senior
warden at Trinity Church. She knew him well at church. He had been ill
with measles for several weeks, and would be certain to miss all of his
examinations.

“He wants so much to finish his grammar work this year, and start in the
fall at St. Stephen’s Military School, and if he fails, it means another
year of eighth grade work,” added Miss Calvert. “I do think you might be
able to bring him up in time, Ruth. I will speak to Mrs. Ellis to-night,
and let you know.”

The next day Ruth’s face fairly shone with satisfaction.

“Oh, girls, isn’t it good?” she said, as they were going up the broad
stairs at noon. “I’ve heard from Mrs. Ellis, and I am to give two hours
every day after school, teaching Phil. She says she will give me fifty
cents an hour. That’s six dollars a week, and there’ll be five weeks
anyway, up to the end of school. The doctor says he mustn’t attempt to
go back on account of his eyes.”

“Lucky grandma,” Sue said, emphatically. “That comes of being a walking
encyclopedia, while the rest of us must pick strawberries, and auction
off all our pet belongings. By the way, we are going to hold our
auction, Ted and I, on Saturday next. Ted has the first poster all made
for it. She hung it beside the looking glass in the hall, where no one
could possibly miss it.”

It was a hand-made poster. Ted was the artist. She had used the plain
ecru-tinted “scratch paper,” as the girls called it, that they all used
in class for scribbling. An original drawing of Sue weeping over the
sale of her treasures occupied the top space, while Ted stood on a
chair, holding out articles invitingly. Underneath it read:

AUCTION!!!

To be held on Saturday forenoon, at the residence of Miss Sue
Warner, 35 Elmwood Road. The personal belongings of Miss Warner
and Miss Edwina Moore will be sold at a great sacrifice at ten
o’clock sharp. The sale includes,

ANTIQUES! MYSTERY BOXES! BOOKS!
BEAUTIFUL POMPS AND VANITIES!
RARE CANDIES! ONE KITTEN!

Various toilette articles, and all the interesting and valuable
objects of art which made Miss Moore’s room in Calvert Hall, the
past winter, a place of diversion and envy.

“The resident girls are all coming to the sale,” Ted announced, happily,
shutting one eye, as she looked at the announcement. “I think that is
very enticing and mysterious, don’t you, Polly?”

“It’s lovely,” Polly declared, delightedly. “Let’s send out copies of it
to everybody.”

“I’ll help letter them, Ted,” Crullers said, anxiously. “I wish you’d
let me help, girls, even if I can’t be in on the fun.”

“Well, so you shall, dear,” Polly promised, and after school hours, they
all went up to Ted’s room, and made copies of the placard. It was Ted’s
first year as a resident pupil, and she had felt somewhat divided from
the others at first. Her father and mother were away from Queen’s Ferry,
at the town house in Washington, and it necessitated Ted’s occupying a
room at the Hall.

“We would have held the auction here,” Sue said, “but nobody would have
come except the girls. This way, I shall sell pink popcorn and peanuts,
while Ted is the auctioneer.”

“I don’t see what you’re going to sell,” Ruth put in, soberly. “You’ll
destroy public confidence in all of us if it’s a joke.”

“A joke. Listen to her, Ted.” Sue shook her head sadly. “Indeed it is
not a joke. We’re giving up all we dare to, aren’t we, Ted? Mother says
she has to keep a watch on everything in the house for fear it will be
auctioned off. But she’s donated a few things too, to help us out. She
made the mystery boxes.”

“Never heard of such things,” said Ruth.

“That’s the charm,” smiled back Sue. “Just you wait till Saturday. I do
hope we’ll have a good crowd.”

“We must send these to all our friends,” Polly said, and each girl took
a supply home with her.

But it remained for Crullers to spring the grand surprise of Saturday.
Not until the fateful hour of ten did the girls discover what Crullers
had done with her poster. Sue’s home was a beautiful, old-fashioned
house set far back from the main river road, and surrounded by trees.
The auction was to be held in the music room, and well-filled it was
too, by ten, with the girls from Calvert Hall, and a lot of Queen’s
Ferry girls besides, and even some of the mothers and grown sisters. But
suddenly Ruth glanced out of the broad bay window, and cried:

“Here come a lot of the choir boys, Polly. How on earth did they know
about it? Rehearsal is just over, and they’re all coming here.”

Polly hurried to the window. It was quite true. Coming innocently and
interestedly up the broad walk from the road, were about fifteen of the
older boys from St. Stephen’s.

“How did they ever find out,” she exclaimed, and then all at once, she
caught sight of Crullers’ face. It was quite red, and a little bit
frightened too.

“Polly, Polly,” she faltered, “I did it. I tacked one of the posters on
a fence near the Parish House.”

“Double penalty,” said Ted, under her breath. “First for giving us away,
second, for tacking notices on fences.”

“You cannot help it now, girls, anyway,” said Jean, smiling over the
mishap. “And boys are not so terrible, anyway. I’ll manage them. They
will probably buy up all the candy, and that will help out.”

So with dignity, and all cordial courtesy, the boys were received, and
ushered into the music room, and while their eyes fairly danced with fun
and mischief, they soon forgot all but the excitement of the sale, and
became, as Jean had prophesied, the best and most spirited bidders.

The candy sold first, boxes of fudge, and nut creams the girls had made
themselves, and nut glacés. Also, Sue did a thriving business at her
stand near the door, in popcorn and peanuts. Ted stood on a chair, and
was auctioneer, and she made a good one. Tactfully she chose things that
she knew certain girls had set their hearts on, and ran rival bidders
against each other. Even the cushions from her couch at the Hall went,
and last of all, the girls put up the historic chafing dish of the old
Hungry Six, the original club that had preceded the Vacation Club. It
was bid in by one of the Senior girls, after a spirited fight for it,
and brought three dollars and seventy-five cents.

The Mystery Boxes were bid in lively by the boys too. All were very much
interested in the small Japanese boxes. They promised so much just by
keeping closed tightly, as Polly said.

Mrs. Warner had prepared these herself, as her share in the auction, and
as one by one they were opened, the contents made the next lot go at a
still higher figure. Inside each were quaint Jap novelties, little
fortunes and mottoes on crepe paper, animals made of bamboo shoots and
wisps of tinted cotton, puzzles, tiny dishes, and trinkets, all from the
far islands of cherry blossoms.

When it was finally over, and the last buyer had passed down the walk,
the five girls gathered in the harvest at the little tea table, and
counted it over jubilantly.

“Thirty-two dollars, and twenty cents,” announced Ruth triumphantly.
“Isn’t that fine, girls?”

“Who bid in the kitten?” asked Sue.

“Crullers,” said Polly. “Fifty cents. Wish we had thought to raise a lot
of kittens, and sell them. Maybe for really trained kittens that could
do tricks, we could have charged a fancy price like they do for polo
ponies, don’t you know, girls?”

“Pocahontas was trained,” insisted Sue. “I trained her myself. She could
eat ice-cream out of a saucer without getting into it, and she could
play ball. Crullers got a bargain.”

“Shall we have the strawberry fête a week from to-day?” asked Isabel.
“That is my share, you know.”

“Won’t it cost a lot for berries and cream, Isabel?”

“All donated by the Lee family for the good of the cause. Father says it
is worth a full spring crop to see me taking an interest in outdoor
sports.”

“Instead of pomps and vanities?” queried Ted, dodging as a cushion
hurtled past her.

“Be good, please, Ted. This is strictly business. I do think that each
of the girls should bring a cake, anyway,—a very large cake—”

“How can I bring a cake when I am a resident pupil at Calvert, goose?”
Ted demanded. “I shall bring store doughnuts.”

“I tell you, Ted—coax Miss Calvert to donate a lot of Annie May’s
macaroon bars. They are delicious. I think cards will do for invitations
to that, don’t you, girls? Isabel, you write better than the rest of us.
You just write a nice little invitation announcement card—you know what
kind I mean—and I’ll make out our social list.”

“Indeed, I’m not going to do that, Ruth,” protested Polly. “It costs too
much in postage. I sent Stoney out to deliver the invitation to my
birthday party. All persons under fifty were undesirable, I told
grandfather.”

“Listen,” exclaimed Isabel suddenly. “I wonder if any one of you girls
has thought of this. Mother was talking over summer dresses with Miss
Gaskell, the dressmaker who sews for us fall and spring. I heard her
saying something about this dress for me, and that one, and it gave me
an idea. Of course, we girls won’t need much up there in the wilds, and
I said one white dress would do, and cut out the fluffy-ruffly ones—”

“You never gave up the fluffy ones, Lady Vanitas!” cried Sue.

“Yes, I did, Sue,” Isabel said, quite seriously. “And when I told mother
of my plan, she said she would help me. I asked if she would give me
half of everything I gave up—”

“What is the market value of flesh pots, Polly?” asked Ted, teasingly.

“Just you try it yourself, Ted, and you’ll be surprised. I was. Mother
says it will be twenty to thirty dollars to add to my summer outing.
It’s worth while giving up things at that rate.”

“Isabel, you’re a wonder,” Polly laughed. “I’ll try that with
grandfather to-night, and coax Aunty Welcome to tell just what it costs
to dress me. Couldn’t we all wear khaki and gunny sacks?”

“What are gunny sacks, Polly?”

“I don’t know. I heard Stoney say once that all he wore till he was ten
years old was a gunny sack, and I thought it must be awfully comfy. Say,
Ruth, did you write to the railroads to find out about summer rates?”

“Miss Murray said she’d attend to that. Don’t forget that I will have a
bunch to hand in to the treasury too, from teaching. And I’m also
getting in an extra hour taking Jack Ellis out in a wheel chair, after
his lessons.”

“If we get as far as the ranch, we’ll be all right,” Ted exclaimed. “If
we haven’t enough to come home on, all our lonely friends and relatives
will be glad to get us back at any cost.”

“But we’ll have enough—” began Ruth.

“Don’t trouble about it, girls,” Mrs. Warner spoke up, as they all
gathered at the door for a last good-bye. “We are in hearty sympathy
with you, especially since you have developed this independence. Every
ten or fifteen dollars that you raise is a good help westward, and also
strengthens your self-respect, and self-reliance. It is one of the
happiest surprises in life when we suddenly find out we can swim alone.”

“Or fly from the home nest,” added Sue.

“Well, we’re trying hard to flutter,” Polly called back merrily, as they
went down the walk. “It will be a wonderful flight—maybe.”

“But it’s the season for May bees,” answered Mrs. Warner, smiling. “Keep
up your courage, and the good fight.”

The days passed too slowly, it seemed to the girls, eager as they were
to get started westward. What had seemed only one of Polly’s balloons,
as Ruth called them, had developed into a very tangible possibility. As
Ted said, when one is afraid of anything, you must not run. You must
turn about, and hit it hard. Ted was a splendid smasher of windmills.

All Queen’s Ferry knew that five of Miss Calvert’s girls were to spend
their vacation on a ranch out in Wyoming, but it took the strawberry
festival, and Polly’s birthday party to make it understand likewise that
they were earning their own way out there. Steadily, the sum in Ruth’s
treasury mounted higher and higher. Mrs. Yates, the Senator’s wife, who
had been so kind to them the previous year, offered her help at the
birthday party, and it was gladly accepted. Polly was radiant as she
stood beside her, receiving guests, and likewise birthday donations, and
her eyes were brimful of fun as she handed back a five dollar bill to
the Senator.

“You’re not telling the truth about your age, Senator Yates,” she said,
rebukingly. “It’s only a cent a year.”

“We’ll count in something on the extra Sundays and holidays,” the
Senator returned. “I’m always doubly glad to have a birthday on a Sunday
or a holiday, and mine comes on the Fourth of July. Isn’t it worth ten
cents extra and more too, to have the same date as your country?”

“Then I ought to pay more, Polly,” whispered Crullers, as the Senator
went on. “My birthday is on Easter.”

“How can it be on Easter, goose, when that’s a movable feast?” laughed
Polly. “Crullers, you old stupid dear!”

“I think, Polly, I can give you a little chance to make some money on
your trip,” Mrs. Yates said, later. “I am anxious to buy some Indian
novelties. Marbury has his den fixed up like a tepee this year, and he
wants to make things for it, not pretty beadwork, or birch-bark
ornaments, but the real things an Indian boy would naturally have in his
tent. If you want to buy them on commission, that would help too. You
must think of every possible way.”

“Indeed, we’re very glad to,” said Polly, heartily.

And they were too. After the first struggle was over, there was a
literal charm in seeing the little treasury fund grow day by day, and in
adding to it. It was astonishing how many urgent duties the Admiral
discovered which needed to be performed.

“Upon my word, Polly, my books show up badly in this sunlight,” he would
say. “I don’t like to trust Mandy in here, or Welcome. Now if you had
the time, and felt like it, it would be worth a dollar to me to have
those books all dusted, and straightened—a whole dollar.”

The books were dusted, and Polly pocketed the dollar proudly. This gave
the rest a hint, and one day Miss Calvert found herself approached by
four determined young persons, after class. They offered to clean the
library thoroughly, they assured her they would take out all the books,
dust them, wash the glass doors, straighten everything up right, send
the rug down to old Jim, the gardener, to be beaten, and make the whole
room look like new.

“Bless my heart, girls,” exclaimed Miss Calvert, laughing in spite of
her dignity. “How did you ever guess that the cleaning of the library is
my one _bête noire_ of the springtime? I will give you each a dollar if
you can do it right.”

It was accomplished, and the four dollars added to the “main pile,” as
Ruth called the growing hoard.

Miss Murray heard from the railroads, and it was a more encouraging
outlook than she had hoped for. After the end of May, the summer rates
went into force, she found, to encourage a western exodus of “teachers,
poets, homeseekers, invalids, and all of summer’s sweethearts,” as Polly
said later. The round trip tickets from Washington out to Deercroft,
Wyoming, would be $67.50 apiece.

“And mother writes that she will board you at four dollars a head
weekly, and at that figure you must do your own laundry, and take care
of your own shack. How’s that, girls?”

“It seems too little,” Ruth answered, with her quick judgment on things
material.

“But it is not, Ruth. Board at five dollars can be had up where we are
and this is only one less. That will be twenty a week for all five.”

“We plan to stay a month,” Polly interrupted. “Do you think we can
manage it, Miss Murray?”

“How much is there in the treasury so far, Ruth?”

Ruth figured hastily.

“About two hundred and forty-six dollars, I think. Polly handed in
thirty-seven dollars from the birthday fête, and the auction brought
thirty-two, and Isabel made eighteen out of her strawberry festival,
besides what we had, and my money that isn’t all earned yet, you know.”

“It shows what you can do if you try,” Ted remarked, loftily.

“Yes, and that doesn’t include Isabel’s commission on summer clothes
from parents,” Polly added. “I think we can make it all up in time. And
if we are truly vacation seekers, we won’t bother over luxuries. I think
we could even fix up lunches of canned goods that would carry us over
the trip.”

“What about berths, Miss Murray?” asked Isabel, somewhat plaintively.
“Don’t they cost a good deal?”

“Yes, they certainly do. Five dollars, I think, it is, out to Chicago,
and we have one night on the road after that.”

“I shall not go to bed at all,” declared Ted. “I never like to sleep on
the train anyhow. I like to watch for lights in the dark out of the car
window.”

But Ruth, who had forgotten about the berth problem, glanced up at Miss
Murray in despair.

“It might be economy in the long run, girls, to take a stateroom—”

“We couldn’t possibly afford such luxuries, Miss Murray,” Polly said,
flatly. “Those things are for the nobility, not for hard-working
vacation seekers like us. We will take the ‘homeseekers special’ out
from Chicago, probably.”

“What’s that, Polly?” asked Sue, suspiciously.

“It’s a train for people who are in real earnest, and want to go some
place, and don’t care how they go as long as they get there,” pronounced
Polly, gravely.

“I’m in that class,” Ted put in, blithely. “Let’s all be jolly good
travelers, girls, and start in ‘roughing it’ from this end. Why, we’d
have a good time even if we went on a plank through the air.”

“I don’t quite approve of that picture, Ted,” laughed Miss Murray. “I
think we’ll go by the regular route. How does it seem to you, girls, to
be counting the pennies and dollars?”

“Good discipline,” Polly said, nodding her head emphatically.

It surely was. Even the Admiral, who had rather regarded the western
trip as one of Polly’s air castles, was forced to admit that she was a
good general. By the time school closed in June, there was $336.00 in
the treasury, and the girls had earned it all, practically, themselves.
What they had not earned, they had acquired through self-denial, giving
up pretty summer gowns, and hats, and “accessories,” as Isabel said,
rather mournfully—“specially those ‘accessories.’”

“But Polly, you’re giving us only these rough, straw outing sailors, and
the little caps,” Sue protested. “What shall we wear to church?”

Jean smiled at them over the top of her book. They were in the garden at
the Hall during noontime.

“The nearest church to us is thirty-five miles,” she told them. “If we
are very fortunate, we may have service once in a while from the
missionary bishop, or some of his priests, but usually father reads it
Sunday mornings for us all, and we like to hold it out of doors. You
won’t miss your hats, girls.”

“How you must love your father, Miss Murray,” Polly said later, when
they were alone. “I always hear you speak of him as though you—oh, I
don’t know,—as though you believed he always did the right thing. He
must be very nice.”

“He is splendid,” said Jean, simply. “At least we think so. And so is
mother. But you girls will love Captain Sandy, Miss Diantha’s husband.”

“Why?” asked Polly.

“Wait until you visit the Alameda ranch, and then you’ll know why.
Nobody can explain it.”

Miss Calvert knew where they were going, and Polly wondered and wondered
why she never spoke of it, never talked about her sister, or sent
messages out to her. But she did not ask questions, much as she longed
to.

Finally, after eight strenuous and industrious weeks, school closed, and
they could turn with free hearts to the journey. Each girl had followed
Miss Murray’s advice, and bought a pair of stout, high boots for rugged
walking and climbing, and a short khaki skirt, buttoning on the side,
with pockets, and bloomers of the same material.

“These are what all the girl-scouts wear, with shirtwaists, and belts,”
Jean told them. “And from now on that is what you must be, girl-scouts
and ranchers.”

Each girl took a suit-case, and Polly was rigid in her inspection rules
on the contents. Unnecessary articles were strictly tabooed. Underwear,
kimonos, one best dress apiece, toilet articles, a few favorite books,
and that was about all she permitted them.

“Land, I should suttinly say you chilluns were going to rough it,” said
Aunty Welcome, indignantly, as she looked over Polly’s outfit. “What
you-all gwine to do if a big snake gets you by yo’ hind heel?”

“Dance, Aunty,” Polly answered, merrily. “I’m sure we’d dance. Maybe
that’s how the Snake Dance first started. Don’t you wish you were going
along with us?”

“Mis’ Polly chile, I declar’, I wouldn’t go wanderin’ an’ a-mousin’
’round de face ob de earth like dat, not for de world. But it makes mah
ole heart ache when I think how mah lamb’s going away for de first time
in her natural life from her ole mammy.”

“Don’t you cry, dear,” Polly begged, putting her arms around Aunty’s
neck in a vigorous hug of sympathy. “I’ll be so careful, and I’ll
remember everything—not to climb trees, not to hunt bears, not to get
too friendly with Indians, not to—”

“Go ’long, you’s jest laughing now. Ah ain’t got a mite ob confidency in
yo’. Go ’long, chile.”

The night before they left Queen’s Ferry, Polly was feeling subdued, as
in fact she always did, after the fight was won on anything she started.
It was a beautifully clear June night. She stepped out on the broad
veranda, and hesitated. The high, white pillars seemed so tall and
strange in the bright moonlight, and the shadows seemed almost like
living things, so black and clearly outlined they lay all about. Out in
the garden, humming birds darted about the dewy flowers. She could catch
the delicate whirr of their wings. Tan, the Admiral’s big tawny-haired
setter, lay stretched out before the door, asleep. She had to step over
him on her way out to the Admiral’s chair.

“The world just seems all moonshine and roses to-night, grandfather
dear,” she said, sitting down on the cushioned seat that swung from two
heavy chains. “Aren’t they sweet?”

“Mighty sweet,” agreed the Admiral. “When you are in Wyoming, will you
think of your poor, lonely old grandfather sitting here by himself?”

“In peace and quiet, with nobody to bother him?” Polly finished up.
“Yes, sir, I will. And I’ll miss you so much.”

The Admiral leaned forward, his hand on her brown braids.

“Fifteen in November, isn’t that right? Your aunts seem to think
Glenwood’s no place for you, Polly, with an old codger like myself.
Betty wrote in to-day, and declared if I did not let you live under her
wing, or one of the other aunts’, I must get a governess for you. What
do you think of that?”

Polly regarded him thoughtfully.

“They don’t understand how happy we are, do they, dear?” she said
softly. “We never bother each other, do we? And I mind every word you
say—”

“Yes, you do,” interposed the Admiral, gruffly. “You’d persuade a
Nantucket skipper that he was off his course.”

“But wouldn’t you miss me terribly if I ever had to leave Glenwood?”
Polly rested her head against his knee, her lips pressed to the dear old
hand that had never shown her anything save kindness and sympathy in all
her life.

“Miss you? I wouldn’t stay here without you, child,” protested the
Admiral. “Do you think that Glenwood is preserved for a worn out,
retired old salt like myself? It is only a garden spot for the rearing
of my rose, Polly; remember that. Now, to bed with you, or Welcome will
scold me for keeping you out too late. If you should get into any
trouble, or need a relief expedition, remember it is always here ready
to start West.”

Polly rose, and hesitated a minute, as Aunty Welcome called her indoors.
Then she said softly:

“I sometimes think that I am the luckiest girl in the world.”

“Why?” asked the old Admiral, his eyes twinkling with merriment.
“Because you are Polly Page?”

“No, not that, dear,” replied Polly, seriously. “Because I am Polly
Page’s grandfather’s granddaughter.”

And before the Admiral could reply to that parting shot, she had run up
to bed, laughing.

When the 8:35 local for Washington left Queen’s Ferry, the morning of
the tenth of July, it carried Miss Murray and her five girl charges,
westward bound. The Admiral went down to the station to see them off,
together with Mrs. Warner, and Mrs. Lee.

“Don’t worry about them one bit, please,” Jean said, as she clasped each
of the mothers’ hands. “It is not a wild-west affair at all. Ours is a
dear, home ranch, and we will keep the girls out of any trouble.”

“I won’t worry as soon as I am sure you are really there,” Mrs. Lee
replied, “but I am afraid the trip will be wearisome without any special
privileges.”

“Never mind about special privileges for this club,” Polly declared as
she settled down in the car seat finally. “We’ll have the best time yet,
making believe we are homeseekers and land-tourists, won’t we, girls?”

“You’re crowing at the wrong end of the journey, Polly,” Jean warned,
but it surely seemed, from the first, as if the trip promised well for
all of them.

At Washington, they waited in the great, marble depot for the train to
be made up, and the girls found plenty to occupy the time. The very
first outlay in cash was for post-cards. Polly bought some even for
Aunty and Mandy and old Uncle Peter.

But it was not until they found themselves fairly settled on the train
for Chicago, and actually moving west, that they felt themselves true
travelers. As Ruth declared, it was a proud moment when the Polly Page
Ranch Club paid its own way, with money it had earned through its own
efforts. However, the fares lowered their principal so much that they
finally had decided to forego sleepers.

“Real summer tourists never take sleepers; not if they can get out of
it,” Ted said, happily, as she bolstered her suit-case up on a rack in
what they called the Tourists’ Special. Jean had the brakeman turn the
seats over, so that they could all sit together. “I think I’d be nervous
with a sleeper berth over my head, wouldn’t you, Polly?”

Polly laughed.

“Surely would.” She looked about her at all the different faces. There
were many people with children in this day coach, and they looked tired
and worn out even before the journey had fairly begun. “Like wilted
flowers,” Ruth said.

Polly watched the group across the aisle as long as she could stand it.
The mother was weary and flustered, with two toddlers bumping into
everything, and a baby crying in her arms.

“Can’t we amuse the twins?” she asked, suddenly.

“Oh, yes, if you would, thanks,” exclaimed the mother, gratefully. “Baby
is teething, and is fretful, and she won’t go to sleep.”

“How did you know they were twins?” asked Ted, when she helped Polly
trot them down to the wash-room to cool their hot little faces.

“They just looked that way,” Polly said cheerfully. “Sue, why don’t you
get that old lady a drink of water from the cooler? She’s tried twice to
go, and she can’t walk alone with the train jolting.”

Jean said nothing, but she noticed everything behind her new book. This
trip in the day coach was helping the girls in a way they hardly
realized as yet. On all sides of them were opportunities for lending
help to people less fortunate than themselves, and they responded
readily, and far more willingly than she had even dared to hope. In a
way, she had looked forward to the trip under these conditions as a test
for the girls, accustomed as they were to home comforts and utter lack
of responsibility. Not even Isabel complained, as the day wore on.

When dinner time arrived, they secured two small tables from the porter
in the forward parlor cars, for a quarter tip, and made the first raid
on their lunch baskets and boxes. These had been planned directly under
Jean’s supervision. The perishable things were to be disposed of the
first day, and the canned goods saved over for the rest of the journey.

In the beginning, space economy had been the first consideration, but
the lunches had been made very inviting nevertheless.

“It is just as easy to have a lunch look nice as not,” Jean had said,
and these were surely a success, for they were both tempting and
attractive. All sandwiches were wrapped in waxed tissue paper. Jars of
pimento cheese, and olives were opened handily, and there were plenty of
Saratoga chips to help out, and some of Aunty Welcome’s famous hermits.

“We’ll keep the fruit until breakfast,” said Miss Murray. “And we’ll
probably come to some station where we can buy chocolate, or malted
milk. It’s more fun than a dining car, isn’t it?”

“It’s like starting in to camp out, even now,” Polly declared. “And
we’ve all got our traveling duties mapped out, too. I’m to look after
the twins, and Sue has charge of the old lady. Isabel has been loaning
her fan and some magazines to a young girl who is going West for her
health. She sits in the last seat on our side, Miss Murray; you can just
see her hair as she leans back. How much more entertaining everything is
when you forget about yourself, and feel interested in what the rest of
the world is doing?”

“Are you just finding that out, Polly?” Jean asked, her gray eyes full
of amusement at Polly’s earnestness. “That is only the sweet old motto
of ‘_noblesse oblige_,’ set to modern music. We learn it with our riding
out home.”

“Oh, that makes me think of something,” Ted broke in. “Will there be
enough ponies for all of us girls, Miss Murray? I mean for us to ride
on.”

“I think there surely will be. Father has about six, besides the work
horses, and we each have our own pet pony besides. The boys broke theirs
in, I know. In Colorado they use the burros for mountain climbing, but
our roads are not so rough, at least up around Deercroft. As you travel
westward through the Big Horn country, it is very rocky and wild.”

“Doesn’t it seem queer to think we are really on the way there, girls?”
Sue sighed, contentedly. “I’m not worried over anything in the world
just at this minute except how on earth we are all to sleep on these
seats.”

“Six dollars for three berths to-night, and all double up?” Isabel
suggested reflectively.

“Now, never mind glancing over the flesh pots of Egypt, Lady Vanitas,”
Ruth retorted, placidly. “We will hand that same porter some more
quarters, and get pillows and blankets from his private cupboard—”

“Locker,” interrupted Isabel. “I heard him call it that.”

“That is a good plan, Ruth; I’d never thought of it,” Polly exclaimed.
“We haven’t six dollars to spend on berths, goose. We’re self-supporting
globe trotters now.”

When bedtime came, they watched the preparations of others interestedly.
Polly helped put the twins to bed on seats, and even hushed the baby,
while the mother got a chance to go and bathe her warm, dusty face. The
passengers were settling themselves as comfortably as they could for the
night, and good-hearted Ted slipped her pillow to the girl who had been
ill.

“I can double up my coat and make a pillow of it,” she explained, when
Sue discovered what she had done.

It was not nearly so uncomfortable as they had anticipated. As Polly
announced sleepily, “Nothing is ever so bad as you expected it to be,
anyway.” They had taken Jean’s advice, and worn pongee silk waists, that
hardly showed any creases. Before they knew it, the motion of the train
had lulled them all into good healthful slumber.

Jean stayed awake longer than the girls, thinking of the coming vacation
on the ranch, and what it would mean to them. What a surprise it would
be to Mrs. “Sandy,” when they all rode over to the Alameda ranch to
call; girls from her own home town, and Calvert Hall, Virginia. She
wondered what Peggie would think of Polly’s merry club—shy, low-voiced
Peggie, who was shy even with her own family, and only seemed to feel at
ease with dumb animals. Most of all, she thought of her mother, quiet,
and gentle like Peggie, but always the one who saw farthest ahead down
the trail, as Captain Sandy said. She had assented willingly to the
coming of the girls. Practically, it would help Jean, she knew, to have
them with her, and financially it would also benefit the ranch where
every dollar seemed like five, with the growing brood of hearty
youngsters, and never-ending expenses.

“And it will do the poor lassies a deal of good, too, Jeanie,”
she had written East, “just to be seeing how people manage to
live happily and wholesomely away out here in the hill country.
It is not best always to sit on a cushion, and sew a fine seam,
and feed upon strawberries, sugar and cream. How you always
wanted to be Curly Locks when you were a bairnie, though. And
you may be yet. But even if you should you will make a better
mother and wife, dear, for having lived here at the Crossbar
year after year. Bring your Virginia roses out West here, and
we’ll show them prairie flowers, and mountain wild-pinks that
God’s hand tends as lovingly as he does his roses.

“I kiss you good-night, daughter.

“Mother.”

Sometimes, when Jean read over those home letters, it made her more
tender towards Polly, brought up between the Admiral’s happy indulgence
and Aunty Welcome’s frantic admonitions. She looked forward with
interest and some curiosity to watching the effect of life at the
Crossbar on all of the girls, but mostly on Polly herself.

The crying of the baby across the aisle awakened Polly at dawn the next
morning. At first she could hardly think where she was, with the motion
of the train still lulling her, and her body somewhat cramped from the
night’s reclining on the seat.

The other girls were still sleeping, but she met Jean coming from the
wash-room.

“I found out from the conductor that we stop at Fort Wayne long enough
to get some cocoa and fresh fruit, if you girls want it,” Jean told her.
“We can get more in Chicago, when we change cars.”

By the time the train pulled into the Fort Wayne depot, the girls were
dressed and “freshened up,” as Ruth said, and had even helped to
“freshen up” the twins.

“Are you going ’way out to Chicago, too?” asked Sue, of the mother.

“We’re bound farther than that,” she smiled back tiredly. “We’re
homesteaders. My husband is to meet us at Omaha. His health broke down
two years ago at the wood-pulp mills down in Virginia, so he went West,
and took up a claim in Wyoming, and he’s got along so well. First he
stayed out six months, then came back home for the winter, and his
brother worked the claim. Then he went back in April. That’s a year ago.
He hasn’t even seen the baby yet, and she’s so smart! She’s got five
teeth, and can stand all by herself if you just steady her a little
bit.”

“My, won’t he be surprised,” Sue said, happily. “We’re going to Wyoming
too, just for a vacation. We go as far as Deercroft.”

“That’s northeast, isn’t it? Our place is farther along towards Cody.
Seems good to talk to somebody. I haven’t seen a soul I knew since we
left Washington. I’ve enjoyed you girls being so close to me. I like to
hear you all laughing.”

“Don’t you know any one out West here?” Polly leaned forward to say.

“Nobody except my husband and his brother Joe.”

“Aren’t women terribly brave people, Miss Murray?” Ruth said softly,
over in the far seat. “Think of her making this long trip just because
it’s the best thing to do for her husband.”

Jean smiled, and there was a dreamy look in her eyes, as she remembered
tales her own mother had told of the women who followed the long trail
West for love and duty.

“For better, for worse, Ruth,” she quoted, gently.

“Like Miss Diantha,” Ruth replied.

“Mrs. Sandy, you mean. Nobody ever calls her Miss Diantha now.”

“Don’t you suppose it would please her if we did? Maybe she still loves
Queen’s Ferry and the old Hall, Miss Murray.”

“But she loves ‘Sandy’ better, Ruth.”

“Do you know,” interrupted Isabel suddenly. “I don’t think this scenery
is so very different from ours.”

“I do,” Ted said flatly. “There are no blue mountain lines banked up
against the sky, and the earth looks kind of yellow. And where it is dry
it seems very, very dry, and where it is swampy, it is awfully swampy. I
never saw such swampy looking swamp as we passed going through these
Indiana woods.”

“Wait until we find ourselves out in the prairie lands, and the corn
fields rise around for miles and miles, and the wheat looks like a
golden ocean.”

“When will we be there, Miss Murray?”

“When you open your eyes to-morrow morning, and cross Iowa and Nebraska.
We’re cutting across Indiana now, and will reach Chicago about
eleven-twenty.”

“It all seems like a dream,” Polly exclaimed. “Isn’t it queer, the
feeling you have when things come true that you’ve always hoped might? I
love to talk to Mrs. Timony—that’s the mother of the twins, you know.”

“We didn’t know. Thank you, Polly,” murmured Sue. “Doesn’t it just suit
the twins? What are their names? I’ve been calling them Sis and Buddy
ever since we left Washington.”

“Name’s Lafayette,” explained the boy twin, soberly. “Her name’s
Columbia,” pointing a moist forefinger at his sister.

“They sort of went together,” Mrs. Timony said, peacefully. “But we do
call them Sis and Buddy ’most all the time. The baby’s name’s just
Faith.”

“I like that,” Ruth put in gravely. “I think people should be careful
how they name children. Suppose one of the twins got on a track, and you
wanted to call it away quickly. How could you say, ‘Come, Lafayette,
Lafayette, Lafayette!’ It would be run over before any one could get the
name all out. A short name is much better.”

“Maybe, but it’s something to have a name to live up to,” answered
little Mrs. Timony, smiling restfully.

“She won’t mind living out on a new three hundred and sixty acre claim,”
Miss Murray said, as they watched the little mother stroll down the
aisle, when the train halted at a station. “She will take a world of
comfort out of sentiment, girls. She will forget entirely the bother
little Buddy is, as she thinks what sort of a State Senator he’ll be
when he grows up. It’s beautiful to be built like that.”

Isabel had struck up a pleasant friendship with the invalid girl, who
was bound for Colorado, and was to change cars at Omaha. Isabel promised
to help her with her two suit-cases, when they reached Chicago, and Sue
said she would carry Isabel’s in exchange.

“Why do the little pools of water, and even the brooks, look blue and
purple along the edges?” asked Ted, who spent most of the time looking
out of the window. “They look like a gas flame.”

“We are getting into the gas country, Ted,” Jean said. “Gas and oil
wells stretch all along this northern edge of Indiana and Illinois. If
it were night, you would see the huge oil torches blazing here and there
in the darkness like the old Roman flambeaux. Wait till you see the Big
Sea Water to the north in a little while.”

“Lake Michigan?” Sue asked, eagerly. “That was what Hiawatha’s people
called it, wasn’t it? Oh, Polly, that makes me think, are you sure you
can buy those Indian baskets and things for Mrs. Yates up where we are
going?”

“Probably not around us,” Jean replied, when Polly had explained. “We
have no near-by Indian villages. You know that is all done away with
now, girls. You are coming to the new West. But Sally Lost Moon will
know about it. She is our cook at the ranch, and is an old Shoshone
squaw. Our Wyoming tribes are not as artistic as the Adirondack Indians
and the Navajos, but we may find some good bead work. It was nice of her
to offer, was it not, girls?”

“She is interested in us because she used to be a Calvert girl herself.”

“But, Polly,” protested Ted, suddenly, “she must be about forty. Maybe
she knew Miss Diantha Calvert.”

Jean laughed.

“You girls will persist in weaving a romance and a mystery about Mrs.
Sandy, and I honestly think the only trouble is her marrying a westerner
against her sister’s wishes.”

“There’s more than that,” Polly declared, over the curly tousled hair of
Columbia. “I’m going to find out.”

“You won’t from Mrs. Sandy,” Jean said. “She’s a Calvert, you must
remember, and they never tell secrets.”

“But I’ll find out from Mr. Sandy himself,” Polly returned buoyantly.

Chicago was reached and passed almost before the girls realized it.
There was the first vivid flash of the blue waters of Lake Michigan, and
its flat, rockless beaches, with bunches of willow and sand-cherry trees
here and there, and patches of the tall, sharp-pointed sword grass. Then
they slipped into the city, and there came the rush and jostle of crowds
at the changing of trains. Isabel helped her invalid girl, and Polly and
Ruth were with Mrs. Timony and the babies, and Sue and Ted helped the
excited old lady who wasn’t sure whether her son Dan lived at Keokuk or
Osceola.

“It must be Osceola,” declared Sue, finally, “because Keokuk’s the other
way.”

“Ain’t any business a-livin’ in any such outlandish place anyhow,”
declared Dan’s mother, stoutly, as she fanned herself, and smelled at a
bottle of lavender salts. “And he should have met me here too. He never
did have any consideration for his mother.”

“Didn’t you say you were going out to live with him?” asked Ted.
“Doesn’t that prove he loves his mother?”

“Well, mebbe it does. Danny’s sort of pindling in small matters, and
rises to the heights in others. You can depend on him. I guess it was
Osceola, after all. He wrote it down for me. It’s in that handbag—no,
’tain’t. It’s in that basket, or—, wait, here it is right in my
pocketbook. Osceola. Kind of a pretty name, ain’t it, now?”

“Girls, you must make haste,” called Miss Murray, and they hurried the
old lady on her journey, while all she did was talk about Danny at
Osceola, and alternately blame and praise him.

“It looks as if all Illinois were turned into corn and wheat fields,”
said Polly, that afternoon, after miles and miles of the tender green,
and beautiful, feathery corn tassels had been passed. “There’s so much
of the same thing on one place out West here, isn’t there, Miss Murray?”

“Now, girls, isn’t that just like Polly!” laughed Jean.

“But I mean it. Down in Virginia the land is in patches. A corn field
here, over there rye, and then a break of woodland. But out here it’s
all the same thing for miles and miles.”

“Polly Page,” exclaimed Ted suddenly, coming back from the water cooler
at the end of the car, “I’ve just been talking to the conductor, and he
says that we took on three coaches of real homeseekers in Chicago. I
didn’t know that. I’d love to see them.”

“There’s nothing to see, Ted, dear,” Jean told her. “If we could look in
the hearts and read the stories there, it would be worth while, but this
way you’d only see a lot of ordinary travelers.”

“Aren’t they immigrants?”

“Immigrants? Ted! How much you girls have to learn. I don’t know how I
can tell it to you in a few words, but if you had lived out in a large,
new, unsettled State, you would know that the hope of its future lies in
its blessed homeseekers. Where do they come from? Where don’t they, you
mean, Polly. They are people who really need a home, who love the open,
and the new land, and the chance of making good, as we say out West
here. It is hard for you who have lived in the old States to get that
point of view, but there lives to-day in the hearts and souls of our
western homeseekers the essence of the old pioneer spirit.”

“Are they farmers?” asked Ruth practically.

“Farmers! Oh, Ruth, listen. Father and Arch and myself were at the great
land-drawing in South Dakota, several years ago, and I wish you could
have seen the ‘nesters’ then. A little girl like my sister Peggie drew
the numbers, and I know a young girl got the best of the lot. Up in our
section even, there is one school-teacher from New York State, who is
making a success out of her homestead. Her mother and two younger
sisters are with her. Right next to her is old Rattlesnake Bill Perkins.
He used to be a scout, and then a trapper, in the old days. Now, he has
settled down, and has a sugar-beet farm, and is raising sheep too.”

“Seems to me as if out West here, you never stop to fret,” Polly
exclaimed. “When one thing changes, you just change too.”

“We have to, or be left behind in the race,” said Jean simply. “But
we’re all of us pretty wide awake, Polly. We have not had time to sleep
as much as you do when in the Old Dominion.”

It was the next day when they began to see hills, and even before the
gray and violet shadows along the western horizon took shape, the train
turned into the rolling prairie land. For miles there was not a single
tree; nothing but the limitless, billowy sea of sunburnt yellow grass,
with now and then a bleaching skull. Sometimes, they would pass a
grazing herd, with a solitary figure on horseback. If it happened to be
a boy, he would rise in the stirrups, and let out a whoop of welcome at
the train as it flashed by.

The towns seemed like villages, so small were the houses, and all of
wood, and brightly painted. “Like Noah’s Ark towns,” Ted said,
laughingly. Even the trees looked new and precise, set out along the
newly paved streets. But finally, the shadows that trailed low like
clouds took form, and here and there a cone separated itself from the
mass, only to be lost again in the blue distances.

Mr. Timony joined his family at Omaha. He was a tall, lean, sunburnt
looking man, with happy eyes, and a habit of rubbing his bare chin. The
baby seemed to know her father by instinct, and Mrs. Timony was like a
busy mother robin, showing off her brood.

The invalid girl got off at Omaha, to change for the Colorado line, and
Isabel made her promise to let them know how she progressed. At Osceola,
Sue and Ted helped their charge off the train with all her bundles and
satchels, and she landed plump into Danny’s arms. Danny turned out to be
about forty, and weighed over two hundred pounds.

“Oh, Miss Murray, aren’t real people splendid?” Ted said, finally. “I
think they’re more account than anything else. They’re books and music
and everything, all at once. I’ve had so much fun on this trip, just
getting acquainted, and being interested.”

“Have you, Ted?” Jean smiled. “That’s because you have found out what my
mother calls the brotherhood of common folks. She says that when life is
all sifted down, we’re only a lot of little children holding hands, and
we must hold tight, or the next one to us falls down.”

“An endless chain of kindness,” Ruth added.

The lamps in the tourist car were being lighted. It was their last night
on the train. Outside, the country looked bare and scorched. Ted stared
out thoughtfully. And Polly began to sing softly under her breath.

“Guide me, oh, thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land,
I am weak, but thou art mighty,
Hold me in thy powerful hand.”

“That should be the homeseekers’ hymn, I think,” said Isabel; “that, and
‘Lead, Kindly Light.’”

“I like ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers’ better,” said Ted. “It must take a
lot of courage and hope to come out here and start all over again.”

“Faith, most of all, Ted,” Jean put in. “Mother says she used up pecks
of mustard seed before she caught sight of the promise fulfilled. That’s
a parable, so don’t look puzzled, Sue. But to those who really love it
and believe in it, our new West is more than a promised land. It is like
a great, brooding motherland, I think.”

“The twins are crying,” broke in Polly. “Let’s put them to sleep, girls.
It’s our last chance. Come on, Buddy boy.”

Buddy trotted across the aisle sleepily, and Ruth held out her arms to
Columbia.

“That’s real neighborly, thanks,” said Mr. Timony, with his slow,
surprised smile, and he settled back for a quiet chat with the baby’s
mother.

“It’s fun being neighborly, isn’t it, Polly?” Ruth said under her
breath. Polly only looked her answer. She had had more fun being
neighborly on this trip West as a second-class tourist than ever before.
She wondered what Aunty Welcome and the Admiral would say if they could
have seen her now.

“We reach Deercroft at four forty-five,” Jean had said; but long before
the scheduled time, suit-cases were strapped and waiting, and hats
pinned in place, while the girls watched from the open windows eagerly,
as the train swung out over the broad stretches of land.

“Who was it said, ‘My heart loves wide horizons’?” Ruth asked once.
“They’re out here, aren’t they, Miss Murray? I just think we’ve caught
up with one range of hills, and we make a turn and find a lot more
waiting for us.”

Now, it was long, swinging miles of rolling land without a living thing
in sight; then suddenly they would pass a hill-slope covered with masses
of sheep, yellow and gray like time-worn rocks, and as motionless,
apparently. Then again, the train would dip into a bit of sparse
woodland, unlike the forests back in Virginia. As Polly said, the trees
out here all looked lonesome.

“They don’t seem to be friendly, or even related to each other. Each has
its own little patch of earth, and stands alone.”

“I think they are all settlers,” Ruth declared.

“How far must we travel after we reach Deercroft?” asked Ted. Jean
smiled and shook her head.

“Miles, and miles, Ted. We won’t be home before ten anyway, and perhaps
it will be later. The roads are dry and good, and father or Don will
meet us with the surrey, or maybe with two teams. It’s moonlight, too.
You don’t know how near the sky seems out here in Wyoming; the night
sky, I mean, when the moon shines, and you are driving. Here we are.”
She leaned forward suddenly, her gray eyes alight with happiness and
expectancy. The train was approaching Deercroft. Lying in the valley
below them was the little town. It looked small and barren, somehow, to
the girls, accustomed as they were to the Virginia towns with their
backgrounds of abundant verdure and foliage. But there was little time
for any fixed impression. Before they fully realized that the journey
was at an end, they were standing on the platform, and the westbound
train was giving out its final call as it slipped through the hill break
on its way to far Vancouver.

Jean marshaled her forces and the suit-cases, but before she had a
chance to look around, there was a rush of somebody right into the midst
of the little group, somebody who fairly flung herself on Jean, and held
her in a royal bear hug.

“Jeanie, Jeanie, you dear old sis. Father and Don are here too. They had
to hold the ponies. When the train came through the cut, they danced
right up in the air,” she explained, too excited to be explicit.

“Girls, this is Peggie,” Jean said, as soon as she could get in a word.
“Polly, Sue, Ruth, Isabel, and Ted, Peggie. You must pick them out for
yourself, and get acquainted.”

“I’m glad to see you,” Peggie said, smiling rather shyly at the girls.
She seemed like Jean at first sight, with her gray eyes, and quick
smile, but her hair was short and curly and brown. “Jeanie’s stopping to
say hello to Jim Handy, the station agent,” she added presently. “Let’s
go to father.” She led the way around to the far side of the small pine
depot, where two teams waited with a couple of ponies to each.

“These are Jeanie’s girl friends, father,” she said, happily. “Polly and
Sue and Ruth and Ted and Isabel.”

“How could you remember our names so soon?” Ted asked impulsively.

“I’ve known them for a long time from Jean’s letters. I know the names,
but I can’t fit them right yet.”

This made them all laugh, and Mr. Murray beamed down on the little group
with a broad smile of welcome. He was tall and broad-shouldered, with a
lean, tanned face, and eyes that twinkled out at the world from under
shaggy brows.

“We’re mighty pleased to see you up in this corner of the land,” he
said, heartily. “Where’s Jeanie, Peg? Whoa, there, Clip. Don, lad, put
the suit-cases under the seats.”

“They’re both of them talking to the boys with Jim, father,” Peggie
declared. “Jean’s holding a reception of honor.”

“She always does,” replied her father comfortably, lifting in the
baggage himself. “She has the ‘come hither’ in her eye. Like this lass.”
He smiled down on Polly’s eager, upturned face. “You needn’t blush over
it, either, for it’s nothing one can be acquiring, nor can one say
‘shall one have it, or not.’ It’s born in some. Where I came from, in
the north isles, they call it the kiss o’ the sun. Don, will you be
coming soon?”

“He’s shy of the girls, maybe,” Peggie said merrily.

But just then Jean and Don, her youngest brother, came towards them. He
was about fifteen, this tall, overgrown brother of hers, with a boyish,
tanned face, and bright blue eyes. And Jean, knowing how embarrassed he
was before this group of smiling Eastern girls, introduced him with a
general motion of her hand.

“Girls, this is Don.”

“Are you all dressed warmly enough for the drive?” asked Mr. Murray.
“There are blankets in the back of the wagons if we need them. It gets
pretty cool as we go higher into the hills after dark. Your mother put
in a lot of stuff to eat, Jeanie. She thought maybe you’d all be starved
out by the time you got here. I had hard work keeping it for you,
though. We left home about eight this morning, and Don and Peg almost
finished it.”

“Don’t you believe him, Jeanie,” Peggie protested. “We had our own
lunch.”

“Wasn’t it thoughtful and dear of mother to remember lunch?” Jean said.
“Indeed, we will enjoy it. I am the only one who brought a trunk along,
father. Can we take that with us, now?”

“I’m thinking we’ll leave it for Archie to bring up with him. He’ll be
home day after to-morrow. We’ve got all we can manage to-night for the
horses. Jeanie, you climb up beside Don, and I’ll take Peggie with me.
Let three of the young ladies go with you, and we’ll take a couple and
the suit-cases. Look after those groceries at your feet, Jeanie, or the
mother’ll be having something to say to you if you spill out her sugar
and oats.”

Laughing and calling to each other, the girls finally were packed away
safely in the two wagons, and away they went, the ponies shaking their
heads, and “sneezing,” as Peggie said, as they cut out of town into the
open country.

“We have seventeen miles ahead of us,” Jean said. “Better take off your
hats, and settle down to enjoy the drive.”

The girls took the suggestion, and, bareheaded, let the soft night
breeze blow in their faces. Deercroft lay in the valley, and the road
northward climbed the hills. Jean was busy talking to Don, not with him,
but at him, as Polly said afterwards. Nobody ever really talked with
Don, for he had nothing to say; but he was a splendid listener, and
would smile, and nod his head, until you felt that he agreed with you
perfectly. It was easy to see what close friends the two were. Polly,
Sue and Ted were in the same wagon with them, so they could laugh and
listen too.

“How fast the ponies go,” said Ruth, in the forward team.

“They know they’re homeward bound,” Mr. Murray returned. “Wait till you
see them with Archie’s hand on them. He’s broken in nearly all of them.
I suppose you’ll be riding, before many days. You will if you’re like
our girls. Has Jeanie told you of the day she rode from Pegtop Mountain
down to the ranch to give the alarm? No? I’ll wager not. She isn’t the
kind to go about telling of her doings, and praising herself. Pegtop
lies around yon knuckle.” He pointed with the whip at a jut of hillside
ahead. “You’ll see it when we turn eastward again. The sheep grazed on
that upper range those days, and we have no forest rangers up in our
corner of the state. If there’s trouble in the hills, we get out and do
our own fighting. This day in September, I know, it was dry as codfish,
in the hills. The grass was burnt low, and every twig ready for the
snapping. Somehow Pegtop caught fire on its southern slope, midway up
where the spruces commence to fringe it. And around on its other side I
had eight hundred or so sheep, and only one herder to the lot. Jeanie
was a lass of fifteen then, about like this young lady,” pointing to
Isabel. “The boys were helping me down in the valley, and she started
out for a ride over Pegtop, and found the fire creeping through the
brush. Have you ever seen one? No? First there’s the smell of it, and
you can’t seem to find out where it belongs. Then you see the thin white
streaks of smoke curl up and settle in a cloud above the spot, and you
don’t waste time then.”

“But, what could you do way out here without anything to fight fire
with, Mr. Murray?” asked Isabel.

“Do, lass? We did what we could, and no one can do more. Jeanie came
riding back. You should have seen her, riding astride and laying over
the pony’s neck like a slip of an Indian boy. Neil and myself went back
when we heard her news.”

“To stop the fire?” asked Ruth.

He shook his head.

“To save the sheep, lass. We had no time to stop the fire. We rode
straight around the crag there, and up to the hill range where the sheep
were, then drove them down into the coulee, the cut in the hills, mind,
and so to the valley.”

“And the fire just burned until it stopped of itself?” asked Ruth,
again. “Think of all the young trees, and everything.”

“Ay, and we do think too, about it,” smiled back the old rancher,
grimly. “My second lad, Archie, will be a ranger, some day. He’s swift
after that sort of thing. Jean’s glad too. She’s like her mother. I can
see my day’s work before me, and do it, but Mrs. Murray and Jeanie look
out to the hill views, I’m thinking, and they see what the next
generation will demand from us.”

“I know,” Ruth exclaimed, eagerly. “Miss Murray has told us that, too;
how each of us adds our own little part to the building of the ages, and
if it is weak, then the others suffer, more than we do, even.”

“That’s Jeanie,” he nodded his head slowly. “And it is a good builder
she is herself.”

“Girls,” called Jean from the team behind them. “When we turn to the
right next time, it’s the home road, and it used to be an old Indian
trail, didn’t it, father?”

“Sandy will be telling them all about those things,” her father replied.
“I’m a new settler when he’s about. I’ve only been here thirty years,
and he came in the days of the gold digging up in the Hills. He was a
scout with Custer, and long before. Get him well started any night, by
the camp fire or just on the doorstoop with a good pipeful of tobacco,
and it’s no sleep you’ll have for hours. He holds the stories of these
hill ranges and mountain tops in his hand, and he loves a good audience,
Sandy does.”

“Sandy? That is Miss Diantha’s husband, isn’t it?” asked Isabel.

“He is Mrs. Sandy’s husband, nowadays,” replied Mr. Murray, smilingly.
“Nobody calls her anything but that. Mother told her you’d be coming out
to us, and she will drive over next week some day. Ready for the
fording, Don?”

“Ready, dad,” answered Don, and the ponies hit the down trail with a
clattering of the swinging shafts and a thud of hoofs, as though they,
too, enjoyed what lay ahead of them.

Every one of the girls gave a gasp of admiration and quick surprise, as
the creek came in sight, winding, twisting here and there among the
rocks. Before they knew what was coming, they were deep into it, up to
the hubs, and more too.

“Oh, this is nothing,” laughed Jean, as they all called out, and held
tightly to the seats. “We’ve been through here when the water surged up
through the floor of the wagon, haven’t we, father?”

“Don’t be boasting that way, lass,” Mr. Murray called back to her, his
gray eyes full of mirth. “Or I’ll be telling of the night when Neil and
I left the wagon behind, and swam with the pony to the other side.”

“Father never likes to have me tell a bigger story than he can,” Jean
exclaimed, merrily. They came up out of the water, the ponies with
dripping flanks, and swung away again on the home road. This led more
through the valleys, and was easier to travel. Once in a while they made
a turn that brought out new vistas of beauty, quick glimpses into
gullies, and deep, low stretches that were, as Jean said, almost like
Scottish moorland. The sun vanished behind a distant range of mountains,
lying like heaped up clouds against the western sky, and as the twilight
deepened, the girls stopped their talk back and forth, for they began to
feel the fatigue of the long journey.

“If Crullers were here now, she would fall sound asleep,” Sue said,
sleepy herself.

“You will all feel sleepy until you get used to the air here,” Jean told
her. “We are at a very high altitude, and the air is dry and clear. It
will make you feel drowsy for a while.”

“It doesn’t make me feel that way, Miss Murray,” protested Polly,
quickly. “It just makes me want to get out and run, and run. I love it
all so.”

Peggie glanced at her with her quick, sideways smile of sympathy, over
her shoulder.

“I love it too,” she said. “Do you like animals?”

“Dearly,” Polly answered. “You should see my dog, old Tan, and the cats.
That is all I have, but I love them.”

“Maybe you’ll take more back home when you go,” said Peggie, seriously.
“I’ll show you how to make them like you. And I think they would like
you, and Ruth here too.”

“Why not us?” asked Ted.

“You’re too quick to move,” said Peggie, gently. “If you want animals
and birds to like you, you have to keep quiet.”

“But I’m not quiet, Peggie,” protested Polly. “You don’t know what a
flutterfly I am. That’s what my grandfather calls me, and he’s right.”

“But you don’t make a noise about it,” said Peggie. “I’ll show you what
I mean when we get home.”

It was dark when they reached the ranch, but the moon was clear and
cloudless overhead, with the stars about it like sheep, as Ruth said.
All at once Don lifted his head, and smiled, and spoke for the first
time during the long, weary drive.

“We’re home, Jeanie.”

Continue Reading

THE GUEST OF HONOR

“Oh, girls, Crullers can’t come.”

Sue Warner ran down the flight of stone steps that led from the side
entrance at Calvert Hall to the garden, her face full of perplexity.
Waiting for her were three of the girls, Isabel Lee, Ruth Brooks, and
Edwina, or rather, “Ted” Moore.

“But why?” demanded Ted. “Is she behind on classes? I’ll help her out
to-morrow, tell her. She must go. Polly said so.”

“But she can’t, Ted, don’t you understand? She would if she could. Why,
her face looked as if she’d swallowed a lot of tacks when I passed her
just now. Miss Murray was with her.”

“That accounts for said tacks,” Ruth put in, gravely. “Bonnie Jean has
very likely hurt Crullers’ feelings.”

Sue laughed, as she gathered up a pile of books from the old Roman seat
at the turn of the path, and led the way out of the garden.

“Perhaps this time it’s Crullers who has hurt Bonnie Jean’s feelings.
Crullers stumbles over other people’s feelings the same as she does over
stools or steps or anything. Where’s Polly? Why didn’t she wait for us?”

“The Admiral drove by, and called her to ride home with him,” Ruth
explained. “Oh, girls, isn’t it getting pretty and summery? Look—the
vines on the old stone wall are leafing out.”

“Polly said four sharp. No time for landscape gazing.”

“Ted, you never see what’s happening right under your nose.”

“Can’t when you carry a perpetual spy-glass on coming events,” laughed
Ted, with a gay toss of her head.

“Since Ted went into psychics last fall, she hasn’t touched real ground
to speak of.”

“And a good thing too,” protested Ted, shaking her head at them. “If
Polly and I did not keep a level outlook on the business side of things,
where would the club be? As secretary I’ve had my spy-glass leveled all
winter at the coming summer. Polly and I figured and studied over the
whole plan while you girls were noticing old vines on stone walls, and
‘sech like,’ as Aunty Welcome says. Now, wait till you hear what she has
to say.”

Down the beautiful old street they started. It was the end of April, and
never did Queen’s Ferry show to such advantage as when springtime
scattered blossoms everywhere. The horse-chestnut trees were showing
feathery plumes of gold and white. Over gray garden walls catalpas
lifted masses of bloom, and fruit trees stood in orchards like brides in
their snowy loveliness. The air was heavy with fragrance of white lilac
and cherry blossoms.

It was Friday. Only Calvert Hall girls knew just what that stood for in
the calendar of events. It was the one day when discipline relaxed, when
books and lessons went into desks, when Miss Calvert herself partook of
the general relaxation, put aside her gown of stiff gray silk, and,
garbed in white lawn, with a black lace shawl draped about her slender
shoulders, went out into the garden with a book of poetry.

Strangely enough, the girls could always tell just how the week had
affected her nerves, by her choice of books on Friday night.

“It’s Tennyson to-day, girls,” Sue had told the rest, when she came
through the garden after seeking Crullers. “Spring calls to the Lady
Honoria. She’s reading ‘The Princess’ with a bunch of red and yellow
tulips on her lap.”

“Just as sure a sign of summer as ripening buds,” Isabel had added,
happily. “All through the winter, don’t you remember, girls, she read
Whittier and Milton, and now she’s put all the old chilly poets back
into the library, and has her own small, handy volumes of Browning and
Burns and even Whitman. She says she likes the poetry in springtime that
makes you think of freshly turned earth and upspringing buds.”

“What a good old darling she is,” Ruth said in her serious,
grandmotherly way. “I found her this morning standing before the old
painting in the hall, and I’m sure there were tears in her eyes, girls.”

The girls were silent. The Calvert spirit towards its principal was very
peculiar. The girls loved and honored her, but mingled with both
sentiments was a curiously protective feeling too. The story of Calvert
had passed into the realm of romantic tradition with its students, and
they held it sacred. Every new girl was taken apart by Polly and Ruth
and solemnly initiated into it. They were told how Honoria and her
younger sister had been left well-nigh penniless at the death of their
father, old Orrin Calvert, thirty years before. They had been brought up
in seclusion, and fed on all the old traditions of Queen’s Ferry as it
had been from the days that followed on the Jamestown settlement. The
main teaching they had received was that no Calvert should work for a
living. But after the old gentleman’s passing, and a long talk with the
family lawyer from Richmond, Miss Honoria had felt tradition and
sentiment slip from her like a worn-out garment.

All that was left of the old estate, when her father’s obligations were
canceled, was Calvert Hall; and the excellent education both young women
possessed was their sole capital. Yet the two had faced the issue
contentedly and courageously, like other Dixie girls of the newer
generation, and had turned the old Hall into a home school for young
girls.

Later Miss Diantha, the younger sister, had married. She lived in the
West, but the Hall remained the same, a landmark at Queen’s Ferry.

Sometimes it seemed to the girls in the great, somber stone house, as
though the tender spirit and influence of Diantha still lived there, and
made her stately sister more tolerant in dealing with the merry,
youthful natures over which she ruled.

At the foot of the broad oaken staircase, was a full-length oil painting
of the sisters, when they were girls. Quaint, old-fashioned portraits
they were, too, with Honoria in white mulle with pink rosebuds, and
Diantha in white mulle with forget-me-nots scattered over its flounces.
Honoria’s chin was up, and she looked right ahead, just as calmly and as
serenely as she did to-day in the classroom. But Diantha’s head was half
averted, and she was smiling shyly, and the little rows of short
up-and-down curls around her head seemed ready to bob and tremble at any
moment with a laugh.

“Do you know, girls,” Polly would say, after a fresh inspection of the
painting, “I think the old darling hung it there so that all her girls
would try to pattern themselves after it. I only wish we could.”

Polly’s own home, “Glenwood,” was about half an hour’s walk from the
Hall, down along the river bank. As they drew near, they caught sight of
Polly herself, watching for them from the veranda railing, with old Tan,
the Gordon setter, beside her.

“Oh, I’m so glad you’re here,” she exclaimed, running to meet them; “I
was afraid something had happened, and you know we’re going to have a
feast.”

“That’s the very first thing Polly thinks of—something good to eat,”
laughed Ruth, dropping down into the nearest garden chair.

“So do all good generals,” retorted Polly, calmly. “It makes people
friendly to eat and enjoy the same kind of food at the same time.”

“Bread and salt in the Arab’s tent, Polly?” queried Ted.

“Yes, only this time——um-m-m. I promised not to tell. The bread and salt
gave out, so we have other supplies.” She laughed, and counted heads.
“Where’s Crullers?”

“Unavoidably detained,” Sue replied. “Now, it’s no use asking why,
Polly. None of us can even guess. Crullers never would miss a good
chance at a feast, you know, unless there was a vital reason for her
absence. And she wouldn’t tell. I hunted everywhere for her, and finally
caught her just coming out of the upper recitation room with Miss
Murray.”

“Bonnie Jean?” Polly’s forehead puckered doubtfully. “What has Crullers
been doing?”

“I think she’s broken her parole,” Isabel said.

“What parole? We didn’t know she was on parole.”

“I did,” Polly added, quickly. “Wait till we get settled down in the
arbor, and I’ll tell you about it. That’s just about what has happened
if she has Miss Murray on her trail.”

She led the way around the broad veranda, down the short flight of steps
that led to the garden, and out to the arbor that stood on the terrace.
Every one who loved Polly knew her garden, and the old arbor. It
overlooked the river, and faced the sunset, and was thickly covered with
rose vines. They were just leafing out now. The seats that encircled it
were Polly’s private invention. Beneath them were lockers, in boat
fashion, for cushions, books, hammocks, and all kinds of things which
Polly found necessary to comfort or happiness when she took possession
of the arbor.

“Let’s put up a couple of hammocks, girls,” she said. “Sue, you and Ted
might do that, and Ruth and Isabel can set the table. I’m going to pick
over strawberries while we talk. Aren’t they beauties? Stoney just got
them for me out of the garden.”

The girls gathered around the rustic table for a peep at the
generous-sized basket filled with red fruit, piled high in a nest of
green leaves.

“Oh, let’s eat them that way, Polly,” Isabel cried. “They look so
tempting and pretty.”

“Can’t,” said Polly, briefly. “Against orders. These are to be hulled,
mashed, and sweetened.”

“Now, we know,” exclaimed Ted. “Short—”

“No fair telling.”

“But only think how poor Crullers would have loved a piece of it!”

“We’ll send her some. Yes, and girls,”—here Polly’s brown eyes twinkled
with the merry glint of mischief,—“we’ll send Miss Murray a nice share
too. To-night. I’ll take it to the Hall and find out what’s the matter
with Crullers. Did we ever desert a comrade in distress?”

“Never,” came back the swift and hearty chorus, just as Stoney came down
the walk from the kitchen garden.

CHAPTER II

A SHORTCAKE PARLEY

He smiled a broad welcome at Miss Polly’s guests, as he set down the
tray from his head, and uncovered the contents, his brown face fairly
glistening with importance.

“Whipped cream in de blue jug, Mis’ Polly, and—and sho’tcake in de deep
dish, and gran’maw says you’re to eat it while it’s hot.”

“We will, Stoney,” promised Polly. “Now, girls, gaze on this.”

Back went the snowy linen towel, and there lay disclosed to view one of
Aunty Welcome’s famous three-layer shortcakes, all ready for the
“fillin’s,” as Stoney would say. It was hot and crisp from the oven. The
girls spread the layers with the berries and piled them up.

“I just love this kind of shortcake,” said Ted, as she poured cream from
the blue jug over the cake. “Sometimes it’s only plain layer cake with
some whole berries laid on the frosting.”

“I knew you’d like it.” Polly leaned her arms on the table with a happy
disregard of formalities. As Aunty Welcome had expressed it once, “Dar’s
a little laxity permissible in yo’ own backyard, honey chile.” Polly
went on. “I wish Crullers were here, too. What new scrape do you suppose
she has managed to tumble into?”

“The last one isn’t cold yet,” laughed Ted. “She was sorry for a stray
cat, and smuggled it up to the dormitory, and hid it in the closet
there. Then Annie May, the cook, gave her some milk for it, and she took
that up when she went to bed. But the closet had a spring lock, and
Crullers couldn’t open it. Tableau at ten o’clock. Miss Calvert roused:
appears in nightgown and kimono, hair in crimpers, dangling a bunch of
keys like Fatima. When closet is opened, poor kitty is scared out of its
wits, makes a flying leap past the girls, out the nearest window, and
disappears. Annie May says she doesn’t believe it was a cat at all. She
says it must have been something with an unquiet spirit.”

“Probably poor Crullers had the unquiet spirit when she saw it dash
out,” Sue said. “But it really was funny, Polly. The dormitory girls
told us about it. Crullers had the milk under her bed, and all at once
the cat started to yowl awfully. Then Miss Murray heard it.”

[Illustration: Stony Smiled a Broad Welcome]

“Her room’s right over the dormitory in that wing,” Ted put in, eagerly.

“Too bad,” Polly said, judicially, “but it’s Crullers all over. What did
Miss Calvert do?”

“Paroled her on good behavior for a week, to report nightly to Miss
Murray.”

“And she’s probably forgotten all about her parole, and broken it. I’ll
find out when I take up the offering of shortcake to-night. Only I wish
it were one of the regular teachers, because I don’t know Miss Murray
very well.”

“Don’t you like our Bonnie Jean, Polly?” inquired Ted, happily. “She
hasn’t distinction, of course—”

“Distinction! Ted Moore,” cried Sue, indignantly. “She hasn’t as much
distinction as Buttercup, the Hall tabby. I don’t know why it is, but
she never seems friendly to us girls. She’s so abrupt.”

Here the girls broke in with laughter at Sue, for surely if anyone at
the Hall could be dubbed abrupt, it was Sue herself, who always thought
out loud, and never knew by any chance what she was going to say next.

“Well, I don’t care if you do laugh at me,” Sue declared. “It’s true.
She comes from the far West, and I don’t see how she ever got into
Calvert Hall as teacher.”

“I’ll ask her to-night, Sue,” promised Polly, gayly.

“But, really and truly, Polly, how did she? Isn’t she unresponsive and
ordinary looking? I’ve tried to talk to her ever so many times, and all
she says is, ‘Perhaps,’ or ‘I should judge so.’ I don’t think she has
any imagination at all.”

Sue pronounced sentence in a very grieved tone of voice, but the girls
only laughed at her.

“Miss Murray is in earnest, though,” Ruth said, finally. “She has always
seemed strange to us girls, but maybe we’ve seemed so to her. She surely
is in earnest, girls, and Miss Calvert says that’s the very first
quality a teacher needs. Maybe if we knew her better, we’d like her.”

“Eat your shortcake, children, and stop criticizing your elders,” Polly
ordered. “This meeting is not called to discuss Miss Murray or Crullers
either. This is the first call for action on the part of the vacation
club.”

“Isn’t it pretty early even to think of vacation, Polly?” asked Isabel,
with a sigh. “It’s weeks and weeks ahead of us.”

“Don’t groan, good pilgrim, over the hills ahead. They lead to glory,”
chanted Polly. “Indeed, it isn’t too early; not if we expect to
accomplish anything worth while. Haven’t we planned for it ever since
last December, when we gave the first outing bazaar? How much did we
glean that time, Ruth?”

“Thirty-four dollars and seventy-two cents,” replied the treasurer,
proudly.

“Do you know, Polly,” interrupted Sue, “I think that was a dandy idea;
to take the spoils of one vacation, and make them help out on the coming
one. We sold off all the frames of seaweed Isabel made, at twenty-five
cents each, remember, and the shell curtains went at five dollars each.
That’s what swelled the fund.”

“They were not too high,” Isabel said, with a sigh of recollection. “It
took pecks and pecks of those pink shells to make the curtains. Kate and
I worked on them for two months at odd times.”

“And the tableaux helped out besides. Wasn’t Crullers funny?”

“Forget the past,” Polly ordered. “The future is bobbing right up under
our noses, and says ‘attend to me.’ We gave four entertainments—”

“I don’t think they were entertainments, Polly, do you? I think they
were fantastic gatherings,” interposed Isabel in her precise way. “The
Friendship Fair, where we sold everything that friends could possibly
think of—”

“You’re exaggerating, Isabel,” Ruth put in, stolidly. “We just sold airy
trifles that people buy to show other people they are remembering them.”

“Same thing,” pronounced Polly. “Have some more shortcake, children, and
don’t waste time arguing.”

“The long and the short of it all is this,” said Ruth, who was treasurer
of the outing club, and could therefore speak with authority. “Out of
the monthly entertainments, fairs, and other things that we have given
through the winter, we have cleared about $124.00. Of course Kate Julian
helped out too, before she went home, and all the mothers helped, and
Polly’s grandfather, but I think we’ve done mighty well.”

“It won’t fill the toe of the stocking when it comes to paying for a
real vacation for us girls, Ruth,” Polly returned. “It’s April now, and
we must make up our minds where we wish to go, and then work for it with
all our might.”

“Now then, how’s the board of lady managers to-day?” demanded a deep
voice outside the arbor, and the gray head of the Admiral looked in at
them smilingly.

“Oh, grandfather, dear—” exclaimed Polly, holding up a slice temptingly
on a plate, “Shortcake?”

“No, Polly, don’t coax me. Not a bite to eat. I’ve just been riding
along the river. And girls, that reminds me.” The Admiral sank into one
of the deep-seated garden chairs, and held up his finger at them all
mysteriously. “I have seen her again.”

“The same girl?” asked Polly eagerly, bending forward and even
forgetting the shortcake.

“The same one. I never saw a girl ride so splendidly in all my life. She
is the admiration of every one along the river road. I heard Senator
Yates telling somebody about her at dinner last evening, and bless my
heart, she isn’t any larger than Isabel here. Yet, she must be older,
but she does not appear so mounted. I can always rely on meeting her
Friday afternoons about this hour. Never have I seen her on the street,
mind—but ride! Polly, if you could sit a horse like that, and take the
road as she does, I’d—why, I don’t know what I would do as a reward of
merit.”

Polly leaned back, puzzled, and thinking hard.

“I don’t see who it can be, girls. Grandfather says he sees her every
Friday afternoon, and has for weeks this spring, and I don’t know her at
all. Maybe it is a guest at one of the houses outside of Queen’s Ferry.”

“Maybe it’s the ghost of the Lady Kathleen,” Ruth suggested gravely.
“Don’t you remember her?

“Along the dark highway, at night there is seen,
The ghost of a horse and its rider, Kathleen.
And when some stray traveler calls out a hail,
Upon the bleak nightwind is borne back a wail.”

“I think you made that up, Ruth,” Polly cried, merrily. “Is the Lady
Kathleen blonde or brunette, grandfather dear?”

“I should say she was rather sorrel,” remarked the Admiral judicially.
“But I strongly advise this board of lady managers to discover her
identity, and gather her into your circle. I can usually tell a
thoroughbred, can’t I, Polly?”

“What color are her eyes, Admiral Page?” asked Isabel.

“Bless my heart, child, I did not get near enough for that. But if you
will watch the river road about five any Friday afternoon, you will find
her. Now, I must go and dress for dinner.”

“How can we find out who she is?” asked Isabel, when the Admiral left
them for his late stroll by the river. “I don’t know anybody around
Queen’s Landing that looks like that.”

“We’ll ask Miss Calvert on Monday,” Ruth declared. “She knows everybody
who is anybody in this vicinity, and their pedigree back to the days
when the first English ship sailed into Jamestown harbor. We must be
going, Polly, and your shortcake was dandy. Next Friday it is my treat,
girls. Don’t forget.”

Polly walked with them to the tall green hedge that separated Glenwood
from the road, and waved good-bye. Then she hurried back to the arbor,
and called Stoney up from the garden.

“I want the little green basket, Stoney, and a nice fresh pitcher of
whipped cream, and then you and I will go for a walk up to the Hall.”

Aunty Welcome’s turbaned head appeared at the side door as the two
started away.

“Whar’ you-all gwine to, Mis’ Polly chile?”

“Just up to the Hall, Aunty dear. I won’t be late for dinner, truly. And
I’m taking some of your lovely shortcake to Crullers.”

Aunty smiled and shook her head.

“Nevah did see sech a chile for squiggling out of trouble. Yo’ jes’
think yo’ done cotched her safe and sound, and if she ain’t a-dancin’
away, and always leavin’ yo’ feelin’ so good, too. Stoney, you hold that
basket steady, boy.”

Polly walked on up the broad, beautiful old street, Stoney in the rear.
She had stopped to gather a great bouquet of lilac blossoms, white and
purple. Those were for Miss Calvert, and when she reached the Hall, she
left Stoney to carry them out into the fragrant old garden, while she
went upstairs with her offering for Crullers the unfortunate. Polly was
first and last a believer in diplomacy. As the Admiral was fond of
remarking, she had inherited that trait from him.

There were two dormitories at Calvert Hall, one where the younger girls
slept, the other for the Seniors. But even the dormitories had
distinctive features. Each girl had her own cot, chair, washstand, and
chiffonier. Around each individual corner were horizontal poles, from
which hung long curtains that could be swung back, or enclosed, as the
occupant saw fit. This gave privacy to each girl, and yet they were all
in the same room.

The curtains hung soberly all about Crullers’ nook this day, just like a
yellow and white catafalque. It was too early for the other girls to
come upstairs, yet. Polly went softly to the curtains, and called
gently.

“Crullers!”

There was no response.

“Crullers, I have brought you some shortcake.”

“I’ll be right out, Polly, dear,” called back Crullers, with a hasty
change of heart. “Or, no, you may come in. I’m not even allowed to get
out of bed.”

Polly pushed back the curtains, and there was Crullers, her hair braided
in two long pigtails, one over each shoulder, undressed, with her pink
kimono over her nightgown, and her face full of utter misery.

“You look just like somebody in history, and I can’t think who it is,”
laughed Polly. “Somebody who sat up in bed at the last minute, and told
everybody just what she thought of them before she died. Was it
Catherine de Medici, or Queen Katherine?”

“Oh, Polly, don’t, please. Give me the shortcake quick. My heart is
broken.”

“And your poor ‘tummy’ is all empty.” Polly handed her the basket, and
sat down beside her. “Half of it is for Miss Murray.”

“Miss Murray!” Crullers pushed the cake from her indignantly. “Then I
won’t eat a bit of it, Polly Page. How could you?”

Crullers turned right over, and buried her face in the pillow, sobbing,
while the green basket barely escaped being capsized.

“How could I what?” asked Polly in astonishment. “Don’t you like Bonnie
Jean?”

Then she stopped short, because, all at once, down at the far end of the
dormitory, she saw Miss Murray, the teacher from out West, coming
towards them with her quick, easy walk, and she was in riding habit.

“How are you, Polly?” she called, pleasantly. “Isn’t it a gem of a day?”

Polly looked at Crullers, doubled up beneath the blankets, and rose
determinedly. But she left the shortcake in the basket within easy
reach. If anything could take away Crullers’ trouble, it would be that.

“Could I talk with—you, Miss Murray please?” she asked. “I came
expressly to see you.”

“Won’t it keep until Monday, Polly?” smiled back Jean, unpinning her
black sailor hat, and letting down her long skirt. “I’ve only half an
hour to dress for dinner. You know on Fridays I run away after the girls
are through. This is my one weekly holiday.”

Polly leaned forward, looking up at the tall, slender figure in
unconcealed admiration. Dearly did Polly love blow-away hair, as she
would have called it. Curly, fluffy masses of blonde hair just verging
on red, swept back from Jean’s low, broad forehead. Her face was rather
broad, and her mouth was broad too, but so was her smile, and her teeth
were even and white as new corn. There was a fine sprinkling of freckles
over her nose. Her eyes were blue, not gray, nor hazel, but blue as
forget-me-nots, and they always looked straight at you without blinking.

“I don’t want to bother you,” Polly said doubtfully. “It’s only about
Crullers,—I mean Jane Daphne Adams. You know we girls always call her
Crullers.”

“Jane Daphne is on my mind too, Polly,” Miss Murray rejoined. “Come up
to my room, Polly, and we’ll talk it over.”

As they left the dormitory, Crullers’ tousled head and red moist face
appeared from beneath the quilt, and she reached for the green basket
and its contents with a sigh. She knew she was in the wrong, and that
even Polly would not uphold her, when she heard the truth. And it
troubled her, for Polly’s opinion was her court of last appeal in all
things at Calvert Hall.

Ever since she had come there as a pupil the previous year, she had been
under Polly’s wing, for none of the other girls could put up with her
slow ways and blunders. And yet, as she sat up in the bed now, eating
the shortcake with sad and deliberate relish, and dropping salt tears on
the whipped cream, she could not see why everybody should have “jumped
on” her just because she had rescued a stray cat, and hidden it in the
dormitory closet. It was a live cat. She had fully intended feeding it.
And it wasn’t her fault that the lock had snapped. She had been told to
appear for sentence in Miss Calvert’s study the following morning, and
there she had faced both the principal and Miss Murray. The latter was
in charge of the dormitory Tuesdays and Fridays, and it was on a Tuesday
night the cat had been found.

“Jane Daphne Adams,” Miss Calvert had said, in her stateliest manner,
“you will bring my gray hair in sorrow to the grave. Ever since you came
to the Hall, there has been trouble.”

“I didn’t mean to, Miss Calvert,” Crullers had said, helplessly.

“That is the only excuse you ever make for anything you do, Jane,”
returned Miss Calvert with dignity. “You are totally irresponsible. I
shall have to put you on parole for a week, and you are not to leave the
grounds under any pretext whatever. Miss Murray will report to me
nightly on your good behavior.”

After that it had seemed to Crullers as though she had a prison guard
mounted over her. She was in disgrace. All the girls knew of it. It was
tacitly understood at the Hall that no pupil was to associate with
another pupil on parole. They were sent to Coventry and lived a life
apart. The girls dreaded it more than any other form of punishment, and
Crullers had dared to break her parole. That was the worst of it. Dearly
did Crullers love pickled limes and doughnuts as a combination lunch,
and there was one little cozy shop in Queen’s Landing where the best of
both were found. So Crullers had slipped out the side gate of the
kitchen garden, and had tried to get to the shop and back at noon. And
she had been caught red-handed, with the warm doughnuts in one bag, and
the pickled limes leaking out of another.

Polly heard all about it now. She followed Miss Murray out of the
dormitory, and up to the third floor of the old square mansion. On each
side of it, a wing stretched out. The west wing that overlooked the
river, was the prettier, and the large room on its third floor had been
given up to the young teacher from the West. Compared with the spacious
rooms below, the ceiling seemed rather low, and the windows opened
outward, lattice like. As they came in, the breeze from the river was
blowing back the short, frilly muslin curtains.

“Here we are, Polly,” said Miss Murray, happily, laying aside her hat,
and smiling at her guest. “This is the nearest approach to home that I
have here. Sit down while I change my dress for dinner, and we will talk
about poor, careless Jane Daphne. This room used to be Diantha Calvert’s
nursery when she was a little girl—did you know that? She used to tell
me all about it, and I always hoped that some day I might see it, but I
never thought I should live in it myself.”

Polly turned quickly from the window, where she had been admiring the
wide-spread view.

“Why, Miss Murray, I didn’t know that you knew Miss Diantha,” she cried,
“I didn’t even know that she was still alive. You know Miss Calvert
never talks to us girls about her at all. We always wondered if there
was a mystery about her. Do you know?”

For a minute or two there was silence in the quiet old room. Jean Murray
drew the shell pins from her hair deliberately, and shook out its thick,
curly waves. Then she went to the wardrobe, and took out her dinner
dress before she answered. And Polly noticed that this was the simplest
dinner gown she had ever seen. In fact, to Polly’s practiced eye, it was
made of cream cotton voile, with a yoke of baby Irish crochet lace, and
the same around the short sleeves. That was all. Yet when Jean slipped
it on, and puffed up her hair, with a wide bank of black velvet tied
about its reddish gold waves, and a narrow band of black about her
girlish throat, Polly thought that she looked every inch a thoroughbred
as the Admiral had declared.

“Miss Diantha lives on the next ranch to ours out home,” Jean said
finally, and there was a curious note of rebellious contradiction in her
voice, as if she were offering apologies against her will for Diantha
Calvert. “She is my mother’s dearest friend, and we all love her more
than I can say.”

“But why doesn’t she ever come back home to Queen’s Landing?” asked
Polly wonderingly. “Grandfather has told us what a dear girl she was
years ago, and how she was one of the belles here and up at Washington
in those days. But that must be thirty years ago.”

“It surely was, and do you realize how old that makes her now? She is
fifty her next birthday, I know, and she lives at the Alameda Ranch,
about seven miles from us.”

“She does!” Polly’s brown eyes opened wide in amazement. “What’s her
name, Miss Murray? What will the girls say?”

“Her name is Mrs. Alexander MacDowell, but we call her Mrs. Sandy,” and
as Jean said it, even a casual observer could have told from the little
tender smile on her lips, and the light in her eyes, what one member, at
least, of the Murray outfit thought of Mrs. Sandy.

Polly pushed back her hair from her forehead quickly, as she always did
when she was a little bit excited or surprised, and sat down on the
window seat.

“Oh, dear, I came expressly to talk about Crullers, Miss Murray, and now
I’ve found out about Miss Diantha. And it’s so interesting, I don’t know
which to talk of first—and it’s getting late, and Aunty Welcome said I
must hurry home.”

Jean laughed.

“Well, you are in a tangle, aren’t you?” she said. “I can tell you of
Jane Daphne in a minute, but it would take days and days to make you
understand our Mrs. Sandy. That is what we all call her out home.”

“Where is your home, please, Miss Murray? I don’t believe I ever heard
you say.”

“I don’t believe that any of you girls ever asked, did you?” Jean’s blue
eyes looked quizzically at Polly. Then she, too, sat down on the window
seat, and looked out towards the West, where the sun was reddening the
distant hills, and her face caught some of its radiance, as she went on,
quietly. “My home is yonder, Polly, west of the hills. It is away, ’way
out West in Wyoming, up in the northeastern corner, under the shoulder
of Bear Lodge.”

“Is there a large family?” asked Polly, wistfully. “I love lots and lots
of children in a family.”

“We think it is large. Let’s count up. There’s mother and father, first
of all. Then I am the eldest, and I am twenty-eight. Neil is next to me.
He is taking a post-graduate course at the State University. Then come
Archie and Don. Arch is in his Soph year, and Don is only sixteen, so he
helps father on the ranch, and goes to school winters. Then Margaret is
the baby. She is twelve, and we call her Peggie. That is all of the real
family, but besides there is old Sally Lost Moon, a half-breed Shoshone
woman that mother took in one winter, and she has stayed ever since.
Then father has about five men who work for him. They are mostly out on
the range with the cattle. That is all the humans we have, as Sally
would say. But there are horses, and dogs, and Prometheus, Don’s pet
bear—”

“A real live one?”

“Yes, indeed, he is very much alive. I guess you would think so if you
lived there. He is only a youngster now, but so full of mischief, you
never can tell where it will crop out next. We have called him
‘Prometheus Unbound’ ever since the Sunday when the Missionary Bishop
came to the ranch to dinner, and to hold service. That bear got loose
somehow, Polly, and found his way into the cook house, and ate up
everything in sight, and when Sally and mother went to set the table for
dinner, you should have seen their faces!” Jean stopped and looked at
her watch. “Child of mortality, as Miss Calvert would say,” she cried,
“do you know the time of day? It’s after six now. Don’t ask me another
question about home or Mrs. Sandy. I must hurry down to dinner, or I’ll
be late for grace, and Miss Calvert never forgives that.”

“May I come and hear some more after school Monday?” asked Polly, as she
followed the figure in white downstairs.

“Why, of course you may, and I shall be ever so glad to have you, Polly.
Sometimes, this winter, I’ve wondered whether you girls really liked me
or not.”

“We’ll like you better if you give us a chance to get acquainted,” said
Polly, with her merry frankness. “I think the ranch is the most
interesting place I’ve heard about in a long time. Oh, I forgot all
about Crullers, Miss Murray.” She stopped short outside the dormitory
door. “What did she do this time, please?”

“Broke her parole. She must stay in bed until to-morrow as a punishment.
Just at noon to-day, she was found climbing out of the back hall window
to the porch roof, and she dropped down to the other side of the garden
wall, and made for the side street. Oh, she confessed. It was for
pickled limes and doughnuts. Good-bye, Polly.” She went down the
staircase, and turned to wave her hand at the bottom. And all at once an
idea occurred to Polly.

“Couldn’t you come down to Glenwood to-morrow, and have dinner with
grandfather and me, Miss Murray?” she asked eagerly. “We’d love to have
you.”

“Would you, truly?” Jean paused, and smiled back at her. “Then I shall
be glad to come. And I will have a chance to tell you more about the
ranch, and Mrs. Sandy, bless her.” She turned, and made a low curtsy
before the two girls in the oil painting, before she hurried down the
wide old hall to the dining-room.

Polly went on out into the front garden where Stoney waited for her. He
was half asleep on the grass by the gates, but roused up, and trudged
after her down the broad, shady street towards Glenwood. Polly could
hardly wait to reach home, and tell the Admiral that she thought his
“thoroughbred” was Jean Murray.

The dinner hour was always a ceremonial period, partly because Aunty
Welcome insisted on adhering to tradition in this regard, partly because
both Polly and the Admiral enjoyed this time most of all the day.

There were long, delicate sprays of flowering almond in tall, slender
vases at each end of the dining table, the only bright spot of color in
the quiet, high ceiled old room.

“Am I late, grandfather dear?” Polly asked contritely, pausing a moment
at the open doors. There was no reply, so she crossed the hall to the
study, and tapped gently.

“Come in, child, come in,” called the Admiral’s deep, cheery voice, and
she obeyed. There was some one in the room besides the Admiral. At first
she could not tell who it was, but when the person put out his hand, and
said, “Now, Miss Polly, have you forgotten your ‘smuggler’ so soon?” all
at once, Polly remembered.

“Oh, it’s Doctor Smith.”

It was indeed, the genial, merry doctor who had been the girls’ neighbor
at Lost Island on their vacation trip of the previous year. As Polly
laid her hand in his, she remembered all the fun of that summer, how the
doctor had lived alone at “Smugglers’ Cove,” and the girls had
discovered him, and thought him a pirate or a smuggler. How they had
gone to the Orienta Club’s reception, and had found that their smuggler
was no less a personage than Doctor Penrhyn Smith, the great naturalist
from Washington, D. C.

“Grown a trifle taller, Admiral, that is the only change. Where are you
to spend the summer this year, Commodore Polly?”

“Not as a Commodore,” Polly replied, shaking her head, and sitting down
on the broad arm of the Admiral’s chair. “We haven’t really decided yet,
but we want to do something different from last year.”

“The Doctor is on the same trail,” said the Admiral. “Why can’t you be
content, like I am, to let the summers drift along like the blossoms the
wind is blowing off those fruit trees yonder?”

“Because we are children,” returned the Doctor promptly, quite as though
his fifty-seven years were fifteen. “Last year I hunted a certain kind
of polypus, remember, Polly? This year, I am seriously thinking of
skipping away to Wyoming on a still hunt after a dinosaurus.”

“Oh, Doctor,” cried Polly, eagerly. “Are you? Those are the lizards that
were running around before the Flood, aren’t they? And they’re terribly
long, hundreds and hundreds—”

“Now, Polly,” warned the Admiral.

“Of inches,” finished Polly, mischievously. “Ruth was telling us about
them. Ruth reads all that kind of stuff, you know. She’s walked right
through a whale—I mean through the skeleton. She told us of some museum
of natural history where there is a whale hanging in mid air, and a nice
little gang plank is built through him so you trot across and feel like
Jonah.”

“Preposterous, Polly!” laughed the Doctor.

“Truly,” Polly insisted earnestly. “I think it was at Charleston. Ruth’s
been all around seeing interesting things, and she always remembers the
most interesting of all to tell us girls.”

“I should say she did,” said the Doctor, gravely. “Polly, that whale
story shall be preserved, and passed down to posterity. Now, I am really
going up to Wyoming, and I sincerely believe that I shall tap the
foothills and the buttes, and discover the long-buried remains of a
dinosaurus, yet I feel that Ruth has gone me one better as a
naturalist.”

“Wyoming,” repeated Polly, pushing her hair up from her forehead.
“Grandfather dear, there’s another sign-post.”

“What do you mean, child?”

“Why, don’t you know, when you are undecided about something, if you
watch, you will find sign-posts pointing the right way to go.” Polly’s
brown eyes sparkled with eagerness, as she explained one of her pet
ideas. “We want a good vacation this year, and a different kind of a
one, and this is the second sign-post that has said Wyoming.”

“What was the first?”

“Jean Murray, ranch girl, thoroughbred, Wyoming.” Polly counted off the
different heads on her finger-tips. “She is one of the Freshman teachers
at Calvert Hall, grandfather dear, and she’s coming to dinner to-morrow,
and we’ve got a wonderful surprise for you, I think.”

“Sign-posts?”

“Maybe.” Polly looked over at the doctor, and suddenly began to laugh.
“Oh, I do believe—I’m almost sure—that even the Doctor is a sign-post
pointing the way to Wyoming.”

“I am thankful it was not Kamchatka, for I verily think you would have
had a try for it, Polly.” The Admiral rose, one hand on Polly’s young
shoulder, and they went in to dinner, Aunty Welcome bowing and smiling
in the wide hall outside the door as though she were trying to live up
to her name.

And through the dinner, Polly listened with deepest interest to the
conversation between her grandfather and the doctor, all about the
recent researches throughout the Yellowstone valley, and following the
glacial drift, and about dinosauri and other prehistoric animals until
Wyoming seemed a veritable land of hidden enchantment. If it could be
managed, then and there Polly made up her mind, the vacation club should
have its summer outing in that far-off land of wonders.

On Saturday mornings, Polly had two important duties to perform, dusting
the Admiral’s study and her own room. Then came an hour’s practice on
the piano, and after that she was free to walk around the garden and
consult Uncle Peter.

As far back as Polly could remember, Uncle Peter had been as much a part
of the garden at Glenwood as the old elms that bordered the garden, and
she had always considered him a remarkable authority on all subjects. In
fact Uncle Peter justified her opinion of him.

He was not tall and stately like Aunty Welcome, but a little,
stoop-shouldered old man, with a face like a wrinkled russet apple, and
it wore a perpetual smile. Polly used to believe sincerely, when she was
a little girl, that when Uncle Peter walked along the garden paths, all
the flowers turned their heads and bowed to him deferentially.

To-day, as she watched him transplanting seedlings along the borders,
she asked thoughtfully:

“Uncle Peter, do you know what sort of flowers grow out in Wyoming?”

“Whar’s dat, Mis’ Polly?” asked Uncle Peter, gently. “I don’t jest
recollect any sech locality.”

“It’s ’way out west, and kind of northwest, too, up next to the two
Dakotas.”

“Oh, suttinly, suttinly. I s’pose geraniums mought grow dar. Dey’ll
mostly take a holt any ole place. Dey’ll grow upside downside, geraniums
will. Maybe pansies grow dar, too, and phloxes and most any no-account
plant dat ain’t perticklar.”

“Do you think so?” Polly pondered. Her only impression of Wyoming was a
place filled with mountain ranges, and vast wastes of sage brush, and
most of all, a place that was wholly wild—wild flowers, wild animals.
And yet, come to think of it, Jean Murray did not act like a ranch girl
who had run wild. Polly veered to a new tack.

“Did you ever see Miss Diantha Calvert, Uncle Peter?”

“I suttinly did.” Uncle Peter always used his own thumb to make nests in
the soft earth for his baby seedlings, and the thumb went in a bit more
forcibly as he spoke. “She’s stood and watched me work in dis yere very
garden, when she wasn’t much taller’n you be, Mis’ Polly, and I was a
lil’ shaver like Stoney.”

“You’ve always lived here at Glenwood, haven’t you, Uncle Peter?” asked
Polly wonderingly. “Years, and years, and years.”

“And I don’ want to live in no better place ’ceptin’ Paradise, possibly
Paradise,” smiled back the old man, happily. “I was born down yonder in
de ole quarters, yo’ know. We don’ use ’em no more nowadays, ’ceptin’
for storehouses. Miss Diantha, she’d come visitin’ with her sister, and
her lady mother. Dey was quality, now I’m tellin’ you. And Miss Di, she
allers liked de time when de lilies come troopin’ along, de big lilies,
gold with ruby hearts.”

“Did she know my own mother?” Polly asked the question slowly, and
softly, as she always spoke of the young mother whom she had never seen,
who had died when she was only a few days old.

“Land, no, chile. She knew yo’ grandma. Mis’ Car’line. Dat’s de
Admiral’s lady. Why, your own daddy warn’t no more’n born. What you all
askin’ questions for? Jes’ like a darby bird.”

Polly forgot to ask what a darby bird was, in her eagerness to get at
the truth of this matter about Miss Diantha.

“Why, I heard only last night, that she was married, and lived ’way out
west in Wyoming, and I wondered how it had happened.”

“Like enough, like enough,” Uncle Peter rejoined placidly. “When folks
move away from Virginny, after being blessed enough to be born hyar,
dey’s liable to have all sorts of misconveniences happen to ’em.”

“Yes, sir,” Polly said meekly. Not for worlds would she have directly
contradicted Uncle Peter. Next to the Admiral and Aunty Welcome, he
stood in authority. On her way back to the house she gathered flowers to
decorate the broad old hall, great clusters of purple and white lilac
that filled the air with fragrance. As she was arranging them in the
low, plump jardinières in the hall, she thought of that other girl,
years and years ago, who had loved to visit beautiful Glenwood when the
lilies were in bloom. She wondered whether Mrs. “Sandy” of the Alameda
Ranch, ever longed to see some of these same golden lilies with the ruby
hearts, just to make her think of dear old Queen’s Ferry. And most of
all, perhaps, she wondered how it had all happened, why Diantha had ever
married, why she had gone to live so far west, and why Miss Calvert
never mentioned her name, yet loved her memory dearly.

It was about five that afternoon when Miss Murray arrived.

“Am I too early, Polly?” she asked, as Polly ran to greet her. “It is
only five, but you know you said to come early.”

“Oh, and I’m so glad that you did, Miss Murray,” cried Polly.
“Grandfather has gone up to the Capitol to meet Senator Yates this
afternoon, and is going out home with him to Fair Oaks, so I am all
alone. We’ll go out in the garden, and talk.”

“This is my first visit anywhere since I came east,” Jean remarked, as
she laid aside her hat and coat, “so you can guess how much I enjoy it.”

“Why is it your first?” Polly had a natural gift for hitting the main
point on the head.

“Because no one has asked me, I think.” Jean’s mouth was full of
expression. It had a way of closing, and then smiling in the most
knowing sort of way, Polly thought, as she watched it now. Somehow, it
made her feel nonplussed, but she went ahead frankly.

“Maybe no one dared to. I know I never did. You always act—so—oh, I
hardly know how to say it. As if you didn’t care really whether anybody
liked you or not, as if you were so sure of yourself, and so well
acquainted with yourself, don’t you understand, Miss Murray, that you
did not need other people for company.”

“Ah, but I do need them, and very badly, too, sometimes,” protested
Jean, slipping her arm around Polly’s waist, as they went down the
broad, old-fashioned hall to the open doors at the back. “I have been
more lonely since I came east than I dare to confess. You may be sure,
though, I never wrote home that I was. We are Scotch, Polly, and you
warm-hearted Southerners will never know all that that means. When
anything is in your heart, it bubbles out like a spring, doesn’t it,
sorrow or happiness? But when we are happiest or saddest, well, we just
can’t say anything. It is all here, ’way down deep in our hearts, but we
can’t seem to lift it out, and exhibit it. So you see, girlie, while I
may have seemed independent and self-sufficient all winter long, I was
really eating my heart out for very lonesomeness. Can you understand?”

Polly nodded sympathetically. She always could understand the other
person’s point of view.

“That is why the girls never became really acquainted with you, then. I
tried to. You see, I always liked you, Miss Murray, and when I like
anybody without trying to like them—when it just happens all by itself,
I know it will last.”

Jean leaned back her head, and laughed merrily.

“Polly, you are a joy. You think aloud, don’t you? And what a dear,
quaint old garden. I love these winding paths, and arbors, but how oddly
some of the flowers have come up, how unexpectedly, I mean.” She stopped
before a clump of tall flag lilies, unfolding purple and golden banners
to the soft air.

“Yes, I know,” Polly replied, happily. “I planted those bulbs there last
fall. That turn of the path seemed sort of bare all through the summer,
so I remembered it, and when fall came, I tucked some bulbs in there.
I’ve always planted things where I’ve wanted to out here. At first Uncle
Peter—that’s our gardener—didn’t like it, but as soon as he saw the
effect, he said that I ‘suttinly had good intentions.’ I like to take a
lot of seed in my sweater pockets in the early spring, and wherever I
find a good place, just plant some. It’s so interesting and surprising,
too, because I never know exactly what it is I’ve planted till they
start to come up.”

“It must be fun to watch for the surprises.”

“Oh, indeed it is. Why, once,” Polly’s eyes were brimful of mischief at
the sudden memory, “once I put a bulb down in that corner by the hedge,
and watched the next spring to see what it would be. It came up all
right, with green spikes, but it never bloomed at all. And it grew and
grew so tall. I called it the Mystery Lily. At last, one day last fall,
it did bloom. Right at the very top of the single stalk was a cluster of
queer, starry flowers, all bunched together. Uncle Peter didn’t know
what it was, and grandfather came out to take a look at it, and what do
you suppose it was, Miss Murray? Just a plain, every-day onion gone to
seed.”

“Polly, Polly,” exclaimed Jean, shaking her head, “I shall always think
of you after this, like Millet’s Sower, with a peck of mixed seed, going
around planting seed as the wind does.”

Someway, she began to feel happier and more relaxed than she had since
her coming to Queen’s Ferry. The long winter’s work at the Hall had been
very confining, and she was not used to that. Out here, in Polly’s
garden, all her nature-loving self responded to the growing things about
her, and most of all, to the growing girl, whose soul and personality
were unfolding, too, in her springtime of youth, with all the unknown
possibilities and promises of her random seed.

“I would love to see you out on the range, Polly,” she continued. “They
say, you know, that Johnny Appleseed went through the wilderness
planting apple trees back in colonial times, and in California to-day,
up at ‘The Heights’ above San Francisco, the dear old poet of the
Sierras plants roses through the cañons.”

“Does he?” Polly thought for a minute. “I think that is splendid. I
shall tell Ruth about it. You know how old-fashioned and motherly she
is, Miss Murray. Sometimes, I almost think she is my dearest friend,
although I like the other girls, too. Ruth says that my way of planting
is an allegory. She says we all of us sow kind deeds and happy thoughts
broadcast, and trust to the winds that blow, and the rains that fall,
and the sun that is sure to shine sometime, to make them take roots and
grow, even in strange hearts. Let’s sit on this stone seat, and talk
about the ranch. I wish that our outing club had a chance to go to some
place like that.”

“Why not make the chance?” Jean reached out her hand to the bush of
flowering quince beside the seat. The branches were heavy with the rich,
red blossoms. “I used to talk about waiting for chances, too, long ago,
until mother taught me to make my own chances. You see, Polly, it is
different with us at the ranch. Nearly all of you girls at Calvert do
not have to fret or care about the future. You have beautiful old homes
like this—”

“Not Ruth, Miss Murray,” interrupted Polly, soberly. “Her father’s dead,
and she is studying, to support her invalid mother—didn’t you know that?
I think she’s so strong and brave. She says she loves to even think that
she is able to. And beautiful homes, even like Glenwood, can’t make up
to a girl for mothers and fathers. I haven’t any, myself, you know.”

The two looked at each other with new-born understanding, and Jean’s
strong, freckled hand was laid over Polly’s, as it rested on the bench
beside her.

“I know, dear. But it usually makes a girl more self-reliant and helpful
to others, if she does have to think of her own future, and to lend a
helping hand towards feathering the home-nest. That is what we three
older children have done, and it binds us in a closer tie of love, each
helping the rest to get along as soon as he himself can fly alone, so to
speak.”

“Helping how?”

“Well, for instance, I am the eldest at home. Father and mother worked
hard to push me through school, and I had two years at the University
besides, but had to leave to help. I began to teach, then, and my
earnings helped launch the boys on their schooling. Don and Peggie come
last of all, but they will have their turn the same as the rest. Don’t
you see?”

Polly opened her eyes wider, and nodded her head. She did see, a little
bit clearer. Life and happiness had been made so easy for her that she
hardly ever thought how hard a path to travel it might be for the boy or
girl who had no home like Glenwood, and no grandfather like the Admiral.
Somehow, this quiet chat by the river bank, in the soft glow of the late
April afternoon, brought new conceptions to her mind, and new vistas of
life. Love that was strong enough to make willing sacrifices for those
it loved even though it involved hardship and self-denial, was quite new
to her.

“I’d love to know them all at your ranch,” she said, finally.

Just here the Admiral came pacing along the path towards them, fresh
from his ride over to Senator Yates’ place. Whenever he missed Polly, he
always knew where to find her, but this time, he stared thoughtfully at
the young woman with her.

“God bless my heart and soul, Polly,” he exclaimed, “if you haven’t
captured my thoroughbred! Present me, Polly, present me.”

Polly did so, happily, and the old gentleman bowed low over Jean’s hand
with all the old-time courtly grace that he was famous for.

“My dear child, you must pardon an old chap’s enthusiasm,” he said, “but
you certainly ride a horse more inspiringly than any girl I ever saw. It
is a joy to watch you. I have reined up several times to look after you
as you took the river road at a dead gallop—and Polly, she sits her
saddle like an Indian. None of this modern rising and falling, if you
please. Where did you learn, Miss Murray, if I may ask?”

Jean laughed, and blushed. Praise was new to her.

“I don’t remember learning to ride, Admiral Page,” she said, doubtfully.
“I’m a ranch girl, and we learn to sit in a saddle almost before we can
walk.”

The Admiral regarded her admiringly, stroking his thin gray imperial
slowly.

“You must teach my Polly. And mind, while you remain here at Queen’s
Ferry, the gates of Glenwood stand wide to you as guest of honor—a girl
who can ride like that.”

Jean could hardly reply, except to smile at him. During the long winter
of close work, she had made no new friends, and had not come in contact
with Southern hospitality. Now, as she walked back through the lovely
old-fashioned garden, between Polly and the stately old gentleman, she
began to feel the charm of it stealing over her. It seemed so strange,
though, that she, Jean Murray of the Crossbar ranch, should be guest of
honor at Glenwood. She lifted her chin a little bit higher than usual,
not from pride, for there was precious little of personal vanity in her
make-up, but just at the thought of what her mother and the boys and
Peggie would say if they only knew.

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