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Sunny Slopes
by Ethel Hueston
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Carol and Barrows mutually triumphed over each other, claiming personal vindication.

"Do you believe in ghosts, Mr. Duke?" asked Miss Tucker in a soft respectful voice, as if resolved not to antagonize any chance spirits that might be prowling near.

"Call them psychic phenomena, and I may say that I do," said David.

"How do you explain it, then?" she persisted.

"I explain it by saying it is a phenomenon which can not be explained," he evaded cleverly.

"But that doesn't get us anywhere, does it?" she protested vaguely. "Does it—does it explain anything?"

"It does not get us anywhere," he agreed; "but it gets me out of the difficulty very nicely."

"I know a good ghost story myself," said Nevius. "It is a dandy. It will make your blood run cold. Once there was a—"

"I do not believe in telling ghost stories," said Miss Landbury. "There may not be any such thing, and I do not believe there is, but if there should happen to be any, it must annoy them to be talked about."

"You shouldn't say you don't believe in them," said Miss Tucker. "At least not on such a dark night. Some self-respecting ghost may resent it and try to get even with you."

Miss Landbury swallowed convulsively, and put her arm around Carol's waist. The sudden wail of a pack of coyotes wafted in to them, and the girls crouched close together.

"Once there was a man—"

"It is your play, Mr. Barrows," said Miss Landbury. "Let's finish the game. I am ahead, you remember."

"Wait till I finish my story," said Nevius, grinning wickedly. "It is too good to miss, about curdling blood, and clammy hands, and—"

"Mr. Duke, do you think it is religious to talk about ghosts? Doesn't it say something in the Bible about avoiding such things, and fighting shy of spirits and soothsayers and things like that?"

"Yes, it does," agreed Nevius, before David could speak. "That's why I want to tell this story. I think it is my Christian duty. You will sure fight shy of ghosts after you hear this. You won't even have nerve enough to dream about 'em. Once there was a man—"

Carol deliberately removed Miss Landbury's arm from her waist, and climbed up on the bed beside David. Miss Landbury shuffled as close to the bed as propriety would at all admit, and clutched the blanket with desperate fingers. Miss Tucker got a firm grip on one of Carol's hands, and after a hesitating pause, ensconced her elbow snugly against David's Bible lying on the table. Gooding said he felt a draft, and sat on the foot of the cot.

"Once there was a man, and he was in love with two women—oh, yes, Mrs. Duke, it can be done all right. I have done it myself—yes, two at the same time. Ask any man; they can all do it. Oh, women can't. They aren't broad-minded enough. It takes a man,—his heart can hold them all." The girls sniffed, but Nevius would not be side-tracked from his story. "Well, this man loved them both, and they were both worth loving—young, and fair, and wealthy. He loved them distractedly. He loved one because she was soft and sweet and adorable, and he called her Precious. He loved the other because she was talented and brilliant, a queen among women, the center of every throng, and he called her Glory. He loved to kiss the one, and he loved to be proud of the other. They did not know about each other, they lived in different towns. One night the queenly one was giving a toast at a banquet, and the revelers were leaning toward her, drinking in every word of her rich musical voice, marveling at her brilliancy, when suddenly she saw a tiny figure perch on the table in front of her fiance,—yes, he was fianceing them both. The little figure on the table had a sweet, round, dimply face, and wooing lips, and loving eyes. The fiance took her in his arms, and stroked the round pink cheek, and kissed the curls on her forehead. Glory faltered, and tried to brush the mist from before her eyes. She was dreaming,—there was no tiny figure on the table. There could not be. Lover—they both called him Lover; he had a fancy for the name—Lover was gazing up at her with eyes full of pride and admiration. She finished hurriedly and sat down, wiping the moisture from her white brow. 'Such a strange thing, Lover,' she whispered. 'I saw a tiny figure come tripping up to you, and she caressed and kissed you, and ran her fingers over your lips so childishly and—so adoringly, and—' Lover looked startled. 'What!' he ejaculated. For little Precious had tricks like that. 'Yes, and she had one tiny curl over her left ear, and you kissed it.' 'You saw that?' 'Yes, just now.' She looked at him; he was pale and disturbed. 'Have you ever been married, Lover?' she asked. 'Never,' he denied quickly. But he was strangely silent the rest of the evening. The next morning Glory was ill. When he called, they took him up to her room, and he sat beside her and held her hand. 'Another strange thing happened,' she said. 'The little beauty who kissed you at the banquet came up to my bed, and put her arms around me and caressed and fondled me and said she loved me because I was so beautiful, and her little white arms seemed to choke me, and I struggled for breath and floundered out of bed, and she kissed me and said I was a darling and tripped away, and—I fainted.'"

"Mr. Nevius, that isn't nice," protested Miss Landbury.

"Lover said urgent business called him out of town. He would go to Precious. Glory was getting freakish, queer. Precious never had visions. She was not notionate. She just loved him and was content. So he went to her. She dimpled at him adoringly, and led him out to her bower of roses, and sat on his knee and stroked his eyes with her pink finger tips, and he kissed the little curl over her left ear and thought she was worth a dozen tempestuous Glories. But suddenly she caught her breath and leaned forward. He spoke to her, but she did not hear. Her face was colorless and her white lips were parted fearfully. For she saw a lovely, radiant, queenly woman, magnificently gowned, the center of a throng of people, and Lover was beside her, his face flushed with pride, his eyes shining with admiration. Her fine voice, like music, held every one spellbound. Precious clasped her tiny hands over her rose-bud ears and shivered. She shut her eyes hard and opened them and—what nonsense! There was no queenly lady, there was no loud, clear, ringing voice. But her ears were tingling. She turned to Lover, trembling.

"'How—how—how funny,' she said. 'I saw a radiant woman talking, and she fascinated all the world, and you were with her, adoring her. Her voice was like music, but so loud, too loud; it crashed in my ears, it deafened me.'

"Lover's brows puckered thoughtfully. 'How did she look?' he asked.

"'Tall and white, with crimson lips, and black hair massed high on her head. And her voice was just like music.'

"The next morning Precious was ill. When Lover went to her she clung to him and cried. 'The lovely lady,' she said,' 'she came when I was alone, and she said I was a beautiful little doll and she would give me music, music, a world full of music. And her voice was like a bell, and it grew louder and louder, and I thought the world was crashing into the stars, and I screamed and fell on the floor, and when I awoke the music was gone, and—I was so weak and sick.'

"Lover decided to go back to Glory until Precious got over this silly whim. But he had no peace. Glory was constantly tormented by the loving Precious. And when he returned to Precious, the splendor of Glory's voice was with her day and night. He lost his appetite. He could not sleep. So he went off into the woods alone, to fish and hunt a while. But one night as he sat in his tent, he heard a faint, far-off whisper of music,—Glory's voice. It came nearer and nearer, grew louder and louder, until it crashed in his ears like the clamor of worlds banging into stars, as Precious had said. And then he felt a tender caressing finger on his eyes, and soft warm arms encircled his neck, and soft red lips pressed upon his. Closer drew the encircling arms, more breathlessly the red lips pressed his. He struggled for breath, and fought to tear away the dimpled arms. The music of Glory's voice rose into unspeakable tumult, the warm pressure of Precious' arms rendered him powerless. He fell insensible, and two days later they found him,—dead."

There was a brief eloquent silence when Nevius finished his story. The girls shivered.

"A true story?" queried David, smiling.

"A true story," said Nevius decidedly.

"Um-hum. Lover was alone in the woods, wasn't he? How did his friends find out about those midnight spirits that came and killed him?"

The girls brightened. "Yes, of course," chirped Carol. "How did folks find out?'

"Say, be reasonable," begged Nevius. "Spoiling another good story. I say it is a true tale, and I ought to know. I," he shouted triumphantly, "I was Lover."

Hooting laughter greeted him.

"But just the same," contended Barrows, "regardless of the feeble fabrications of senile minds, there are ghosts none the less. The night before we got word of my father's death, my sister woke up in the night and saw a white shadow in her window,—and a voice,—father's voice,—said, 'Stay with me, Flossie; I don't want to be alone.' She told about it at breakfast, and said it was just five minutes to two o'clock. And an hour later we got a message that father had died at two that night, a thousand miles away."

"Honestly?"

"Yes, honestly."

"I knew a woman in Chicago," said Miss Landbury, "and she said the night before her mother died she lay down on the cot to rest, and a white shadow came and hovered over the bed, and she saw in it, like a dream, all the details of her mother's death just as it happened the very next day. She swore it was true."

"Don't talk any more about white shadows," said Carol. "They make me nervous."

"Wouldn't it be ghastly to wake up alone in a little wind-blown canvas tent in the dead of night, and find it shut off from the world by a white shadow, and hear a low voice whisper, 'Come,' and feel yourself drawn slowly into the shadow by invisible clammy fingers—"

"Don't," cried Miss Landbury.

"That's not nice," said Carol.

"Don't scare the girls, Barrows. Carol will sleep under the bed to-night."

"I am with the girls myself," said Gooding. "There isn't any sense getting yourself all worked up talking about spirits and ghosts and things that never happened in the world."

"Oh, they didn't, didn't they? Just the same, when you reach out for a cough-drop and get hold of a bunch of clinging fingers that aren't yours, and are not connected with anybody that belongs there,—well, I for one don't take any chances with ghosts."

A sudden brisk tap on the door drew a startled movement from the men and a frightened cry from the girls. The door opened and the head nurse stood before them.

"Ten-fifteen," she said curtly. "Please go to your cottages at once. Mr. Duke, why don't you send your company home at ten o'clock?"

"Bad manners. Ministers need hospitality more than religion nowadays, they tell us."

"Oh, Miss David," cried Miss Tucker, "won't you go out to my tent with me? I feel so nervous to-night."

"What is the matter?" asked the nurse suspiciously, looking from one to another of the flushed faces and noting the restless hands and the fearful eyes.

"Nothing, nothing at all, but my head aches and I feel lonesome."

The nurse contracted her lips curiously. "Of course I will go," she said.

"Let me come too," said Miss Landbury, rising with alacrity. "I have a headache myself."

Huddled together in an anxious group they set forth, and the nurse, like a good shepherd, led her little flock to shelter. But as she walked back to her room, her brows were knitted curiously.

"What in the world were the silly things talking about?" she wondered.

"David Duke," Carol was informing her husband, as she stood over him, in negligee ready to "hop in," "I shall let the light burn all night, or I shall sleep in the cot with you. I won't run any risk of white shadows sitting on me in the dark."

"Why, Carol—"

"Take your pick, my boy," she interrupted briskly. "The light burns, or I sleep with you."

"This cot is hardly big enough for one," he argued. "And neither of us can sleep with that bright light burning."

"David," she wailed, "I have looked under the bed three times already, but I know something will get me between the electric switch and the bed."

David laughed at her, but said obligingly, "Well, jump in and cover up your head with a pillow, and get yourself settled, and I will turn off the lights myself."

"It is a sin and a shame and I am a selfish little coward," Carol condemned herself, but just the same she was glad to avail herself of the privilege.

A little later the white colony on the mesa was in darkness. But Carol could not sleep. The blankets over her head lent a semblance of protection, but most distracting visions came to her wide and burning eyes.

"Are you asleep, David?" she would call at frequent intervals, and David's "Yes, sound asleep," gave her momentary comfort.

But finally he was awakened from a light sleep by a soft pressure against his foot. Even David started nervously, and "Ghosts" flashed into his logical and well-ordered brain. But no, it was only the soft and shivering form of his wife, curling herself noiselessly into a ball on the foot of his cot. David watched her, shaking with silent laughter. Surreptitiously she slipped an arm beneath his feet, and circled them in a deadly grip. If the ghosts got her, they would get David's feet, and in her girlish mind ran a half acknowledged belief that the Lord wouldn't let the ghosts get as good a man as David.

Wretchedly uncomfortable as to position, but blissfully assured in her mind, she fell into a doze, from which she was brought violently by a low whisper in the room:

"Mrs. Duke."

"Oooooooo," moaned Carol, diving deep beneath the covers.

David sat up quickly.

"Who is there?"

"It is I, Miss Landbury," came a frightened whisper. "Can't I stay with you a while? I can't go to sleep to save me,—and honestly, I am scared to death."

This brought Carol forth, and with warm and sympathetic hospitality she turned back the covers at the foot of the bed and said:

"Yes, come right in."

David nudged her remindingly with his foot. "Since there are two of you to protect each other," he said, laughing, "suppose you go in to Carol's bed, and leave me my cot in peace."

This Carol flatly refused to do. If Miss Landbury was willing to share the foot of David's cot, she was more than welcome. But if she meant to stand on ceremony and go into that awful big black room without a minister, she could go by herself, that was all. Carol lay down decidedly, and considered the subject closed.

"I don't want to sleep," said Miss Landbury unhappily. "I am not sleepy. I just want a place to sit, where I—I won't keep seeing things."

"Turn on the light, Carol," said David. "You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, both of you."

"That's all right," defended Carol. "You are a preacher, and ghosts don't bother—"

"Don't say ghosts," chattered Miss Landbury.

"Well, what is the plan of procedure?" inquired David patiently. "Are you going to turn my cot into a boarding-house? You girls stay here, and I will go in to Carol's bed. Give me my bath robe, honey, and—"

"Oh, please," gasped Miss Landbury.

"And leave us on this porch with nothing but screen around us?" exclaimed Carol. "I am surprised at you, David."

David turned his face to the wall. "Well, make yourselves comfortable. Good night, girls."

The girls stared at each other in the darkness, helplessly, resignedly. Wasn't that just like a man?

"I tell you what," said Carol hopefully, "let's bring the mattress and the blankets from my bed and put them on the floor here beside David, and we can all sleep nicely right together."

"Oh, that's lovely," cried Miss Landbury. "You are the dearest thing, Mrs. Duke."

Hurriedly, and with bated breath, they raided Carol's bed, tugging the heavy mattress between them, quietly ignoring the shaking of David's cot which spoke so loudly of amusement.

"I'll crawl right in then," said Miss Landbury comfortably.

"I sleep next to David, if you please," said Carol with quiet dignity.

Miss Landbury obediently rolled over, and Carol scrambled in beside her.

"Turn off the light," suggested David.

"Oh, yes, Miss Landbury, turn it off, will you?" said Carol pleasantly.

"Who, me?" came the startled voice. "Indeed I won't."

"David, dearest," pleaded Carol weakly.

"Go on parade in my pajamas, dear?" he questioned promptly.

"Let's both go then," compromised Carol, and she and Miss Landbury, hand in hand, marched like Trojans to the switch in the other room, Carol clicked the button, and then came a wild and inglorious rush back to the mattress on the floor.

"Good night, girls."

"Good night, David."

"Good night, Mr. Duke."

"Good night, Miss Landbury."

"Good night, Mrs. Duke."

Then sweet and blessed silence, which lasted for at least five minutes before there sounded a distinct, persistent rapping on their door.

Carol and Miss Landbury rushed to the protection of each other's arms, and before David had time to call, the door opened, the switch clicked once more, and Gooding, his hair sticking out in every possible direction, his bath robe flapping ungracefully about his knees, confronted them.

"This is a shame," he began ingratiatingly. "I know it. But I've got to have some one to talk to. I can't go to sleep and— Heavens, what's that on the floor?"

"It is I and my friend, Miss Landbury," said Carol quietly. "We are having a slumber party."

"Yes, all party and no slumber," muttered David.

"Well, I am glad I happened in. I was lonesome off there by myself. You know you do get sick of being alone all the time. Shove over, old man, and I'll join the party."

David looked at him in astonishment.

"Nothing doing," he said. "This cot isn't big enough for two. Go in and use Carol's bed if you like."

"It's too far off," objected Gooding. "Be sociable, Duke."

"There isn't any mattress there anyhow," said Carol.

They looked at one another in a quandary.

"Go on back to bed, Gooding," said David, at last. "This is no time for conversation."

Gooding would not hear of it. "Here I am and here I stay," he said with finality. "I've been seeing white shadows and feeling clammy fingers all night."

"Well, what are you going to do? We've got a full house, you can see that."

"Go and get your own mattress and blankets and use them on my bed," urged Carol.

Miss Landbury turned on her side and closed her eyes. She was taken care of, she should worry over Mr. Gooding!

"I don't want to stay in there by myself," said Gooding again. "Isn't there room out here?"

"Do you see any?"

"Well, I'll move in the room with you," volunteered David.

Miss Landbury sat up abruptly.

"We won't stay here without you, David," said Carol.

"I tell you what," said Gooding brightly, "we'll get my mattress and put it in the room for me, and we'll move David's mattress on Carol's bed for David, and then we'll move the girls' mattress in on the floor for them."

No one offered objections to this arrangement. "Hurry up, then, and get your mattress," begged Carol. "I am so sleepy."

"I can't carry them alone through those long dark halls," Gooding insisted. Miss Landbury would not accompany him without a third party, Carol flatly refused to leave dear sick David alone in that porch, and at last in despair David donned his bath robe and the four of them crossed the wide parlor, traversed the dark hall to Gooding's room and returned with mattress, pillows and blankets. After a great deal of panting and pulling, the little party was settled for sleep.

It must have been an hour later when they were startled into sitting posture, their hearts in their throats, by piercing screams which rang out over the mesa, one after another in quick succession.

"David, David, David," gasped Carol.

"I'm right here, Carol; we're all right," he assured her quickly.

Miss Landbury swayed dizzily and fell back, half-conscious, upon the pillows. Gooding, with one bound, landed on David's bed, nearly crushing the breath out of that feeble hero of the darkness.

Lights flashed quickly from tent to tent on the mesa, frightened voices called for nurses, doors slammed, bells rang, and nurses and porters rushed to the rescue.

"Who was it?" "Where was it?" "What is it?"

"Over here, I think," shouted a man. "Miss Tucker. I called to her and she did not answer."

A low indistinct sound, half groan, half sobbing, came from the open windows of the little tent. And as they drew near, their feet rattling the dry sand, there came a warning call.

"A light, a light, a light," begged Miss Tucker. The nurses hesitated, half frightened, and as they paused they heard a low drip, drip, inside the tent, each drop emphasized by Miss Tucker's sobs.

The porter flashed a pocket-light, and they opened the door. Miss Tucker lay in a huddled heap on her bed, her hands over her face, her shoulders rising and falling. The nurses shook her sternly.

"What is the matter with you?" they demanded.

Finally, she was persuaded to lift her face and mumble an explanation. "I was asleep, and I heard my name called, and I looked up. There was a white shadow on the door. I seized my pillow and threw it with all my might, and there was a loud crash and a roar, and then began that drip, drip, drip,—oh-h-h!"

"You silly thing," said Miss Alien. "Of course there was a crash. You knocked the chimney off your lamp,—that made a crash all right. And the lamp upset, and it is the kerosene drip, dripping from the table to the floor. Girls who must have kerosene lamps to heat their curlers must look for trouble."

"The white shadow—" protested the girl.

"Moonshine, of course. Look." Miss Alien pulled the girl to her feet. "The whole mesa is in white shadow. Run around to the tents, girls," she said to her assistants, "and tell them Miss Tucker had a bad dream,—nothing wrong. We will have a dozen bed patients from this night's foolishness."

Miss Tucker refused to be left alone and a nurse was detailed to spend the night with her.

When the nurses on their rounds reached Miss Landbury's room in the McCormick Building, they had another fright. The room was empty. The bed was cold,—had not been occupied for hours, likely. They rushed to the head nurse, and a wild search was instituted.

The Dukes' room, Number Six, McCormick, was wrapped in darkness.

"Don't go near them," Miss Alien said. "Perhaps they did not hear the noise, and Mr. Duke should not be disturbed."

So the wild search went on.

But after a time, a Mexican porter, with a lantern, seeking every nook and corner, plodded stealthily around a corner of the McCormick.

He heard a gasp beside him, and turning his lantern he looked directly into the window, where four white, tense faces peered at him with staring eyes. He returned their stare, speechlessly. Then he saw Miss Landbury.

"Ain't you lost?" he ejaculated.

Miss Landbury, frightened out of her senses, and not recognizing the porter in the darkness, shot into her bed on the floor, and David answered the man's questions. A moment later an outraged matron, flanked by two nurses, marched in upon them.

"What is the meaning of this?" they demanded.

"Search me," said David pleasantly. "Our friends and neighbors got lonesome in the night and refused to sleep alone and let us rest in contentment. So they moved in, and here we are."

Both Gooding and Miss Landbury positively declined to go home alone, and other nurses were appointed to guard them during the brief remaining hours of the night. At four o'clock came sleep and silence and serenity, with Carol on the floor, clutching David's hand, which even in sleep she did not resign.

The next morning a huge notice was posted on the bulletin board.

"Any one who tells a ghost story, or discusses departed spirits, in this institution or on the grounds thereof, shall have all privileges suspended for a period of six weeks.

"By order of the Superintendent."



CHAPTER XVII

RUBBING ELBOWS

"Chicago, Illinois.

"Dearly Beloveds:

"Nearly I am converted to matrimony as a life career. Almost I feel it is worth the sacrifice of independence, the death of originality, the banishment of special friendship, and the monotonous bondage of rigid routine.

"I have just come back from Mount Mark, where I had my second visit with little Julia. She is worth the giving up of anything, and the enduring of everything. She is marvelous.

"When I first saw her, just after Aunt Grace brought her home,—I think I told you that I went without a new pair of lovely gray shoes at ten dollars a pair in order to go to Mount Mark to meet her,—she was very sweet, and all that, but when they are so rosily new they are more like scientific curiosities than literary inspirations. But I have met her again, and I am everlastingly converted to the domestic enslavement of women. One little Julia is worth it. So as soon as I find the husband, I am going to cultivate my eleven children. You remember that was the career I picked out in the days of my tender youth.

"Her face is big and round and white, and her eyes are bluer than any summer sky the poets could rave about. Her lips are the original Cupid's bow,—in fact, Julia's lips have about convinced me that Cupid must have been a woman, certainly he could ask no more deadly weapon for shattering the hearts of men. Her hair is comical. It is yellow gold, but it sticks straight out in every direction. It is the most aggravatingly, irresistibly defiant hair you ever saw in your life. It makes you kiss it, and brush it, and soak it in water, and shake Julia for having it, and then fall in love with her all over again.

"She is just beginning to talk. When I arrived the whole family was assembled to do me honor, Prudence and Fairy, Lark and all the babies. Julia seemed to resent her temporary eclipse in the limelight. She crowed in a compelling way, and when I advanced to bow reverently before her, she pointed a fat, accusing finger at me, and said, 'Who is 'at?' Her very first word,—and no presidential message ever provoked half the storm of approval her little phrase called forth. We laughed, and kissed each other, and begged her to say it again, and Prudence said 'Oh, if Carol could have heard that,' and then we all rushed off and cried and scolded each other for being so silly, and Julia screamed. Oh, it was a formal afternoon reception all right.

"And I am putting a little three-line ad in the morning Tribune. 'Young, accomplished, attractive lady without means, of strong domestic tendencies, desires a husband, eugenic, rich, good looking. Object matrimony.'

"Of course I know that I repeat myself. But if you don't say 'Object matrimony,' some men wouldn't catch the point.

"And so you are out of the San and keeping house again. A brand-new honeymoon, of course, and cooing doves, and chiming bells, and all the rest of it. When the rest of us back here write to each other, we say at the end, 'Carol is well and David is better.' It conveys the idea of a Thanksgiving service and a hallelujah chorus. It means Good night, God bless you, and Merry Christmas, all in one.

"By the way, do you remember William Canfield Brewer, the original advertiser who got moved out when I moved in? Well, between you and me, almost for a while I did begin to see some charms in matrimony. He came again, and was properly introduced. And took me for a drive,—it seems he had just collected his salary,—and he came again, and we went to the park, and he came again. And that was when I began to see the halo around the wedding bells. One night he was telling me his experiences in saving money,—uproariously funny, my dear, for he never could save more than five dollars a month, and ran in debt fifteen dollars to encompass it. He said:

"'My wife used to say it was harder work for me to carry my salary home from the office than to earn it right at the start.'

"I laughed,—I thought of course it was a joke. I guess the laugh was revealing, for he turned around suddenly and said:

"'You knew I was married, didn't you, Connie?' First time he ever called me Connie.

"Well, the halo vanished like a flash and hasn't got back yet.

"I said, 'No, I didn't know it.'

"'Why, everybody knows it,' he expostulated.

"'I did not.'

"'We are devoted to each other,' he said, laughing lightly, 'but we find our devotion wears better at long distance. So she lives wherever I do not, and we get along like birdies in their little nest. I haven't seen her for two years.'

"Then he went on with his financial experiences, evidently calling the subject closed.

"When he started home, he said, 'Well, what shall we do Sunday?'

"'Nothing, together. You are married.'

"'Well, I don't get any fun out of it, do I?'

"'No, maybe not. But I have a hunch I won't get much fun out of it, either.'

"'I forgot about the parsonage.' He considered a moment. 'All right, I'll hunt her up and have her get a divorce,' he volunteered cheerfully.

"He was very puzzled and perplexed when I vetoed that. He says I can't have the true artistic temperament, I am so ghastly religious. At any rate, I have not seen him since, and have not answered his notes. Now, don't weep over me, Carol, and think my young affections were trifled with. They weren't—because they didn't have time. But I am not taking any chances.

"Henceforth I get my sentiment second hand.

"The girl at our table, Emily Jarvis, who is a spherist, attributes all the good fortune that has come to you and David to the fact that at heart you are in harmony with the spheres. You don't know what a spherist is, and neither do I. But it includes a lot of musical terms, and metaphors, and is something like Christian Science and New Thought, only more so. Spherists believe in a life of harmony, and somehow or other they get the spheres back of it, and believe in immaterial matter, and that all physical manifestations are negative, and the only positive, or affirmative, is 'harmony.'

"Emily is very, very pretty, and that sort of excuses her for digging into the intricacies of spheral harmonies. Even such unmitigated nonsense as sphere control, spirit harmony, and mental submission, assumes a semblance of dignity when expounded by her cherry-red lips. She speaks vacuously of being under world-dominance, and has absolutely no physical consciousness. She says so herself. If she ignores her tempting curves and matchless softness, she is the only one in the house who does. In fact, it is only the attraction of her very physical being, which she denies, that lends a species of sense to her harmonious converse. She and I are great friends. She says I am a harmonizer on the inside.

"She is engaged to a man across the hall, Rodney Carter. She has the room next to mine. His voice is deep and carrying, hers is clear and ringing, and the walls are thin. So I have benefited by most of their courtship. But the course of true love, you know. She has tried spiritually and harmoniously to convert him to immaterialism, but Rodney is very conscious of his physical, muscular, material being, and he hoots at her derisively, but tenderly.

"'Oh, cut it out, Emily,' he said, one evening. 'We can only afford one spirit in the family. One of us has got to earn a living. Spirits, it seems, require plenty of steak and potatoes to keep them in harmony. I could not conscientiously lead you to the altar, even a spheral altar, if I were not prepared to pay house rent and coal bills. One's enough, you can be our luxury.'

"'But, Rod, if you are in harmony you can earn our living so much more easily. You must get above this notion of material necessities. There are no such things.'

"'I don't believe it,' he interrupted coldly. 'There are material necessities. You are one of them. The most necessary in the world. You may be harmonious, but you are material, too. That is why I love you. I couldn't be crazy about a melodious breath of air ghosting around the back yard. And I am not strong for disembodied minds, either. They make me nervous. They sound like skulls and cross-bones, and whitening skeletons to me. I love you, your arms, your face, all of you. It may not be proper to talk about it, but I love it. Can you imagine our minds embracing each other, thrilling at the contact,—oh, it's tommyrot. A fool—'

"'It may be tommyrot to you, Rod,' said Emily haughtily. 'But the inspiration of the matchless minds of the mystic men of the Orient—'

"'Inspiration of idiocy. What do mystic men of the Orient know about warm-blooded Americans, dead in love? I might kiss the air until I was blue in the face,—nothing to it,—but let me kiss you, and we are both aquiver, and—'

"'Rodney Carter, don't you dare say such things,' she cried furiously. 'It is insulting. Besides it has nothing to do with it. It isn't so anyhow. And what is more—'

"'There's nothing mysterious about us. Let the old Chinesers pad around in their bare feet and naked souls if they want to. We are children of light, we are, creatures of earth, earthly. We're—'

"'Oh, I can't argue with you, Rod,' she began confusedly.

"'I don't want you to. Kiss me. One kiss, Emily mine, will confound the whole united order of Maudlin Mystics. I am willing to risk all the anathemas contained in an inharmonious sphere for one touch of your lips. Go ahead with your sacred doctrine of universal and spiritual imbecility, but soften its harshness with worldly, physical, sin-suggesting kisses, and I am in tune with the infinite.'

"Then Emily broke the engagement, and Rodney, after relieving himself of more heretical opinions of spiritual simplicity and mystic madness, stalked unmelodiously away, slamming her door, and his own after it.

"What I didn't hear of it myself, Emily told me afterward, for we are very confidential.

"The whole house was intensely interested in the denouement. Rodney sat stolidly at his table, crunching his food, gazing reproachfully and adoringly at Emily's proudly lifted head. Emily, for all her unconsciousness of physical necessity, lost her appetite, and grew pale. The mental and physical may have nothing in harmony, as she says, but certainly her mental upheaval resulting from the lack of Rodney's demonstrations of love, affected her physical appetite as well as her complexion.

"When Rodney met Emily in the halls, he made her life miserable.

"'Good morning, Long Sin Coo.' 'Hello, Ghostie.' 'Hey, Spirit, may I borrow a nip of brandy to make an ethereal cocktail for my imaginary nightcap?'

"And he opened his transom and took to talking to himself out loud. So Emily decided to close her transom. It stuck. She asked my assistance, and we balanced a chair on a box and I held it steady while she got up to oil the transom. But first she would lose her balance, then she would drop the oil can, then the box would slip. She couldn't reach the joints, or whatever you call them, and when she stood on tiptoe she lost her balance. Then she got her finger in the joint and pinched it, emitting a most material squeal as she did so. Happening to glance through the transom, she saw Rodney standing below in the hall, grinning at her with inharmonious, unspiritual, unsentimental glee, and she tugged viciously at the transom, banging herself off the box, upsetting the chair, and squirting oil all over me as she fell.

"Rodney rushed to the rescue, but Emily was already scrambling into sitting posture, scared, bruised and furious. She had torn her dress, twisted her ankle, bumped her head and scratched her face. And Rodney had seen it.

"Ignoring me, Rodney sat down on the box and looked her over with cold professional eyes.

"'My little seeker after truth,' he said, 'you are a mystic combination of spirit and mind. You are in tune with the infinite spheres. You are a breath in a universal breeze. Therefore you feel no inconvenience. Get up, my child, and waltz an Oriental hesitation down the hall and convince yourself everlastingly that you are in truth only a mysterious unit in a universe of harmonic chords.'

"Emily dropped her head on the oil can, lifted up her voice and wept. And Rodney, with an exclamation that a minister's daughter can not repeat, took the unhappy mystic into his arms.

"'Sweetheart, forgive me. I am a brute, I know. Knock me on the head with the oil can, won't you? Don't cry, sweetheart,—Emily, don't.'

"Finally Emily spoke. 'You are as mean and hateful as you can be, Rodney Carter,' she said, burrowing more deeply into his shoulder. 'And I despise you. And I am going to marry you, too, just to get even with you. Give me back my engagement ring.' Rodney ecstatically did. The touch of her lovely, material body must have thrilled him, for he kissed her all over the top of the head, her face being hidden.

"I stood my ground. I was looking for literary material since I never have a chance to make romance for myself. Emily spoke again.

"'I know now that the Vast Infinite intends us for each other. I have been dwelling in Perfect Harmony the last four days, trusting the All Perfection to bring us together again. So I know that our union was decreed from the foundation by the Universal sphere. I tell you, Rod, you can't get ahead of the Infinite.'

"Then I went to my own room, and they never knew when I left,—they didn't even remember I had been there. But as I came back from answering the phone at eleven o'clock, I met Rod in the hall. He had some books in his hand. He ducked them behind him when he saw me. I reached for them sternly, and he pulled them out rather sheepishly. I read the titles, 'Spheral Mentality,' 'Infinite Spheres,' 'Spheral Harmony.'

"'Made me promise to read 'em, too,' he confided in a whisper. 'And by George, she is worth it.'

"Oh, I tell you, Carol, these boarding-houses are chuck full of literary material. Really, I am developing. I know it. I feel it every day. I rub elbows with every one I meet, and I like it. I don't care if they aren't 'My Kind' at all. I am learning to reach down to the same old human nature back of all the different kinds. Isn't that growth?

"You asked about the millionaire's son. He still comes to see me every once in a while. He says he can't promise to let me spend all of his millions for missions if I marry him,—says he has too much fun spending them on himself,—but he insists that I may do whatever I like with him. Isn't it too bad I can't feel called upon to take him in hand?

"Anyhow, if I had a million dollars do you know what I would do? Buy an orphans' home, and dump 'em all in a big ship and go sailing, sailing over the bounding main. I'd kidnap Julia and take her along.

"He was here last week, and sent his love to you, and best wishes to David. He told me to ask particularly how your complexion gets along out in the sunny mesa land.

"I want to see you. I am saving up my pennies religiously, and when they have multiplied sufficiently I am coming. Thanks for the invitation.

"Lovingly as always,

"Connie."



CHAPTER XVIII

QUIESCENT

Long but not dreary weeks followed one after the other. In the little 'dobe cottage, situated far up the hill on the mesa, Carol and David lived a life of passionless routine. Carol was busy, hence she had the easier part. David's breakfast on a tray at seven, nourishment at nine, luncheon at twelve, nourishment at three, dinner at six, nourishment at nine,—with medicines to be administered, temperatures to be taken, alcohol rubs to be given at frequent intervals,—this was Carol's day. And at odd hours the house must be kept clean and sanitary, dishes washed, letters written. And whenever the moment came, David was waiting for her to come and read aloud to him.

When a man of action, of energy, of boundless enthusiasm is tossed aside, strapped with iron bands to a little white cot on a screened porch with a view of a sunburned mesa reaching off to the mountains, unless he is of the biggest, and finest, his personality can not survive. David's did. Months of helplessness lay behind him, a life of inaction lay before him. He could walk a half block or so, he could go driving with kind neighbors who invited him, but every avenue of service was closed, every form of expression denied him. He had hoped to live a full, good, glowing life. And there he lay.

It is not work which tells the caliber of man, but idleness.

Month followed month, now there were bitter winds and blinding snows, now the hot sun scorched the yellow sand of the mesa, now the mountains were high white clouds of snow, now the fields of green alfalfa showed on a few distant foothills, and the canyons were green with pines. Otherwise there was no change.

But the summers in New Mexico were crushingly, killingly hot, and so the sturdy-hearted health chasers left the 'dobe cottage, packed their few possessions and moved up into Colorado. And while David waited patiently in the hotel, Carol set forth alone and found a small cottage with sleeping porch, cleanly and nicely furnished, rent reasonable, no objections to health seekers. And she and David moved into their new home.

And the old life of Albuquerque began again, meals, nourishments and medicines alternating through the days.

In the summer of the third year, Carol wrote to Connie:

"Haven't you been saving up long enough? We do so want to see you, and Colorado is beautiful. We haven't the long mesa stretching up to the sunny slopes as it was in New Mexico, but from our tiny cottage we can look right over the city to the mountains on the other side, and the sunny slopes are there. So please count your pennies. They give summer rates you know."

Connie went down to Mount Mark the night she received that letter, spending half the night in the train, and talked it over with the family. Without a dissenting voice, they said she ought to go. Ten days later, Carol and David were exulting over Connie's letter.

"Yes, thank you, I am coming. In fact, I was only waiting for the word from you. So I shall start on Monday next, C., B. & Q., reaching Denver Tuesday afternoon at 2:30. Be sure and meet me.

"I nearly lost my job, too. I went to Mr. Carver and said I wanted a vacation. He said 'All right, when and how long?' I said, 'Beginning next Monday.' He nodded. 'To continue six weeks.' He nearly died. He asked what kind of an institution for the feeble-minded I thought this was. I said I hadn't solved it yet. He reminded me that I have already had one week's vacation, and three days on two different occasions. He said he hired people to work, not to visit their relatives at his expense. He said I had one week of vacation coming. And I interrupted to say I didn't expect any salary during that time, I just wanted him to hold my position for me. He said he was astonished I didn't ask him to discontinue publication during my absence. Finally he said I might have one week on full pay, and one week without pay, and that was enough for a senator.

"So I went to my machine and wrote out a very literary resignation which I handed to him. I know the business now, and I have met a lot of publishers, so I was safe in resigning. I knew I could get another position in three days. He tore the resignation up, and said he wished I could outgrow my childishness.

"Before luncheon, he said he had a good idea. We were away behind in clippings for filling and he suggested that I take a big bundle of exchanges with me, and clip while I vacated. Also I could doubtless find the time to write a thousand or so words a week and send it in, and then I might go on full pay for six weeks. Figuratively I fell upon his neck and kissed him,—purely figuratively, for his wife has a most annoying way of dropping in at unexpected hours,—and I am getting the most charming new clothes made up, so David will think I am prettier than you. Now don't withdraw the invitation, for I shall come anyhow."

Carol considered herself well schooled in the art of emotional restraint, but when she finished reading those blessed words—which to her ears, so hungry for the voices of home, sounded like an extract from the beatitudes—she put her head on the back of David's hand and gulped audibly. And she admitted that she must certainly have cried, save for the restraining influence of the knowledge that crying made her nose red.

In the meantime, back in Iowa, the Starrs in their separate households, were running riot. Never was there to be such a wonderful visit for anybody in the world. Jerry and Prudence bundled up their family, and got into a Harmer Six and drove down to Mount Mark, where they ensconced themselves in the family home and announced their intention of staying until Connie had gone. As soon as Fairy heard that, she hastened home too, full of the glad tiding that she had found a boy she wanted to adopt at last. Lark and Jim neglected the farm shamefully, and all the women of the neighborhood were busy making endless little odds and ends of dainty clothing for Carol, who had lived ready-made during the three years of their domicile in the shadowland of sunshine.

A hurried letter was despatched to David's doctor, asking endless questions, pledging him to secrecy, and urging him to wire an answer C. O. D. Little Julia was instructed as to her mother's charms and her father's virtues far beyond the point of her comprehension. And Jerry spent long hours with Connie in the car, explaining its mechanism, and making her a really proficient driver, although she had been very skilful behind the wheel before. Also, he wrote long letters to his dealer in Denver, giving him such a host of minute instructions that the bewildered agent thought the "old gent in Des Moines had gone daft."

Carol wrote every day, pitifully, jubilantly, begging Connie to hurry and get started, admonishing her to take a complete line of snapshots of every separate Starr, to count each additional gray hair in darling father's head, and to locate every separate dimple in Julia's fat little body. And every letter was answered by every one of the family, who interrupted themselves to urge everybody else not to give anything away, and to be careful what they said. And they all cried over Julia, and over Carol's letters, and even cried over the beautiful assortment of clothes they had accumulated for Carol, using Lark as a sewing model.

Twenty minutes after the train left Mount Mark, came a telegram from Carol: "Did she get off all right? Did anything happen? Wire immediately." And the whole family rushed off to separate rooms to weep all over again.

But Aunt Grace walked slowly about the house, gathering up blocks, and headless dolls, and tailless dogs, and laying them carefully away in a drawer until little Julia should return to visit the family in Mount Mark.

For the doctor had said it was all right to restore the baby to her heart-hungering parents in the mountain land. Carol was fairly strong, David was fairly well. The baby being healthy, and the parents being sanitary, the danger to its tiny lungs was minimized,—and by all means send them the baby.

So Julia was arrayed in matchless garments destined to charm the eyes of the parents, who, in their happiness, would never realize it had any clothes on at all, and Connie set out upon her journey with the little girl in her charge.

On Tuesday morning, Carol was a mental wreck. She forgot to salt David's eggs, and gave him codeine for his cough instead of tonic tablets for his appetite. She put no soda in the hot cakes, and made his egg-nog of buttermilk. She laughed out loud when David was asking the blessing, and when he wondered how tall Julia was she burst out crying, and then broke two glasses in her energetic haste to cover up the emotional outbreak. Altogether it was a most trying morning. She was ready to meet the train exactly two hours and a half before it was due, and she combed David's hair three times, and whenever she couldn't sit still another minute she got up and dusted the railing around the porch, brushed off his lounging jacket, and rearranged the roses in the vase on his table.

"David, I honestly believe I was homesick. I didn't know it before. I got along all right before I knew she was coming, but now I want to jump up and down and shout. Why on earth didn't she take an earlier train and save me this agony?"

At last, in self-defense, David insisted that she should start, and, too impatient to wait for cars and to endure their stopping at every corner, she walked the two miles to the station, arriving breathless, perspiring and flushed. Even then she was thirty minutes ahead of time, but finally the announcer called the train, and Carol stationed herself at the exit close to the gate to watch the long line of travelers coming up from the subway. No one noticed the slender woman standing so motionless in the front of the waiting line, but the angels in Heaven must have marked the tumult throbbing in her heart, and the happiness stinging in her bright eyes.

Then—she leaned forward. That was Connie of course,—she caught her breath, and tears started to her eyes. Yes, that was Connie, that tall slim girl with the shining face,—and oh, kind and merciful Providence, that must be her own little Julia trudging along beside her, the fat white face turning eagerly from side to side, confident she was going to know that mother on sight, just because they had told her a mother was what most belonged to her.

Carol twisted her hands together, wringing her gloves into a shred. She moistened her dry lips, and blinked desperately to crowd away those tears. Yes, it was Connie, the little baby sister she used to tease so mercilessly, and Julia, the little rosebud baby she had wanted so many nights. She could not bear to let those ugly tears dim her sight for one minute, she dare not miss one second of that feast to her hungering eyes.

The two sisters who had not seen each other for nearly four years, looked into each other's faces, Carol's so pleadingly hungry for the vision of one of her own, Connie's so strongly sweet and reassuring. Instinctively the others drew away, and the little group, the red-capped attendant trailing in the rear, stood alone.

"Julia, this is your mama," said Connie, and the wide blue eyes were lifted wonderingly into those other wide blue eyes so like them,—the mother eyes that little Julia had never known. Carol, with an inarticulate sob dropped on her knees and gathered her baby into her arms.



Julia, who had been told it was to be a time of laughter, or rejoicing, of utter gaiety, marveled at the pain in the face of this mother and patted away the tears with chubby hands, laughing with excitement. By the time Carol could be drawn from her wild caressing of the rosebud baby, she was practically helpless. It was Connie who marshaled them outside, tipped the red-capped attendant, waved a hand to the driver waiting across the street, directed him about the baggage, and saw to getting Carol inside and seated.

Only once Carol came back to earth, "Mercy, Connie, taxis cost a fortune out here."

"This isn't a taxi," said Connie, "it is just a car."

But Carol did not even hear her answer, for Julia, enchanted at being so lavishly enthroned in the attention of any one, lifted her lips for another noisy kiss, and Carol was deaf to the rest of the world.

Her one idea now was to get this precious, wonderful, matchless creature home to David as quickly as possible.

"Hurry, hurry," she begged. "Make him go faster, Connie."

"He can't," said Connie, laughing. "Do you want to get us pinched for speeding the first thing?"

And Julia, catching the word, immediately pinched both her auntie and her mama, to show them she knew what they were talking about. And Carol was stricken dumb at the wonderful, unbelievable cleverness of this remarkable infant.

When the car stopped before her cottage, she forgot her manners as hostess, she forgot the baggage, and the driver, and even sister Connie. She just grabbed Julia in her arms and rushed into the cottage, back through the kitchen to the sleeping porch in the rear, and stood gloating over her husband.

"Look, look, look," she chanted. "It is Julia, she is ours, she is here." David sat up in bed, his breath coming quickly.

Carol, like a goddess of plenty dispensing royal favors, dumped the smiling child on the bed and David promptly seized her.

By this time Connie had made her arrangements with the driver, and escorted herself calmly into the house, trailing the family to the porch, gently readjusting Julia who was nearly turned upside down by the fervor of her papa and mama, and informed David that she wanted to shake hands. Thus recalled, David did shake hands, and looked pleased when she commented on how well he was looking. But in her heart, Connie, the young, untouched by sorrow, alive with the passion for work, was crying out in resentment. Big, buoyant, active David reduced to this. Carol, radiant, glowing, gleaming Carol,—this subdued gentle woman with the thin face and dark circles beneath her eyes. "Oh, it is wrong," thought Connie,—though she still smiled, for hearts are marvelous creations, holding such sorrow, and hiding it well.

When their wraps were removed, Julia sat on David's table, with David's hand squeezing her knees, and Carol clutching her feet, and with Connie, big and bright, sitting back and watching quietly, and telling them startling and imaginary tales of the horrors she had encountered on the train. David was entranced, and Carol was enchanted. This was their baby, this brilliant, talented, beautiful little fairy,—and Carol alternately nudged David's arm and tapped his shoulder to remind him of the dignity of his fatherhood.

But in one little hour, she remembered that after all, David was her job, and even crowy, charming little Julia must not crowd him aside, and she hastened to prepare the endless egg-nog. Then from the kitchen window she saw the auto, still standing before their door.

"Oh, my gracious!" she gasped. "We forgot that driver."

She got her purse and hurried outside, but the driver was gone, and only the car remained. Carol was too ignorant of motor-cars to observe that it was a Harmer Six, she only wondered how on earth he could go off and forget his car. She carried the puzzle to David, and he could not solve it.

"Are you able to walk at all, David?" asked Connie.

"Yes, indeed," he said, sitting up proudly, "I can walk half a block if there are no steps to climb."

"Come out in front and we'll investigate," she suggested.

When they reached the car, and it took time for David walked but slowly, he promptly looked at the name plate.

"Harmer Six," he read. "Why this is Jerry's kind of car."

"Yes, it is his kind," explained Connie. "He and Prudence sent this one out for you and Carol and Julia. They have just established an agency here, and he has made arrangements with the dealer to take entire care of it for you, sending it up when you want it, calling for it when you are through, keeping it in repair, and providing gas and oil,—and the bill goes to Jerry in Des Moines."

One would have thought enough happiness had come to the health seekers for one day. Carol would have sworn she could not possibly be one little bit gladder than she had been before, with David sick, of course. And now came this! How David would love it. She looked at her husband, happily pottering around the engine, turning bolts and buttons as men will do, and she looked at Julia, proudly viewing her own physical beauties in the shining body of the car, and she looked at Connie with the charm and glory of the parsonage life clinging about her like a halo. Then she turned and walked into the house without a word. Understandingly, David and Connie allowed her to pass inside without comment.

"Connie," said David when they were alone, "I believe God will give you a whole chest of stars for your crown for the sweetness that brought you out here. Carol was sick for something of home. I wanted her to go back for a visit but she would not leave me. But she was sick. She needed some outside life. I can give her nothing, I take my life from her. And she needed fresh inspiration, and you have brought it." David was silent a moment. "Connie, whenever things do get shadowy for us, the clouds are pulled back so we may see the sun shining on the slopes more brilliantly than ever."

Turning quickly she followed his gaze, and a softness came into her eyes as she looked. Truly the darkness of the canyons seemed only to emphasize the brightness of the ridges above them.

She laid her hand on David's arm, that strong, shapely, capable hand, and whispered, "David, if I might have what you and Carol have, if I could be happy in the way that you are, I think I should be willing to lose the sunshine on the slopes and dwell entirely in the darkness of the canyons. But I haven't got it, I don't know how to get it." Then she added slowly, "But I suppose, having what you two have, one could not lose the sunshine on the slopes."



CHAPTER XIX

RE-CREATION

Were you ever wakened in the early morning by the clear whistle of a meadow-lark over your head, with the rich scent of the mountain pines coming to you on the pure light air of a new day, with the sun wrapping the earth in misty blue, and staining the mountains with rose? To David, lying on his cot in the open air, every dawning morning was a new creation, a brand new promise of hope. To be sure, the enchantment was like to be broken in a moment, still the call of the morning had fired his blood, and given him a new impetus,—impetus, not for work, not for ambition, not for activity, just an impetus to lie quietly on his cot and be happy.

The birds were shortly rivaled by the sweeter, dearer, not less heavenly voice of little Julia, calling an imaginary dog, counting her mother's eyes, or singing to herself an original improvise upon the exalted subject of two brown bugs. And a moment later, came the sound of rapturous kissing, and Carol was awake. And before the smile of content left his face, she stood in the doorway, her face flushed with sleep, her hair tumbling about her face, a warm bath robe drawn about her. Always her greeting was the same.

"Good morning, David. Another glorious day, isn't it?"

Then Julia came splashing out in Aunt Connie's new rose-colored boudoir slippers, with Connie in hot barefooted pursuit. And the new day had begun, the riotous, delirious day, with Julia at the helm.

Connie had amusing merry tales to tell of her work, and her friends, and the family back home. And time had to be crowded a little to make room for long drives in the Harmer Six. Carol promptly learned to drive it herself, and David, tentatively at first, talked of trying his own hand on it. And finally he did, and took a boyish satisfaction in his ability to manipulate the gears. Oh, perhaps it made him a little more short of breath, and he found that his nerves were more highly keyed than in the old time days,—anyhow he came home tired, hungry, ready to sleep.

Even the occasional windy or cloudy days, when the Harmer Six was left wickedly wasting in the garage, had their attractions. How the girls did talk! Sometimes, when they had finished the dishes, Carol, intent on Connie's story, stood patiently rubbing the dish pan a hundred, a thousand times, until David would call pleadingly, "Girls, come out here and talk." Then, recalled in a flash, they rushed out to him, afraid the endless chatter would tire him, but happy that he liked to hear it.

"Speaking of lovers," Connie would begin brightly,—for like so many of the very charming girls who see no charm in matrimony, most of Connie's conversation dealt with that very subject. And it was what her auditors liked best of all to hear. Why, sometimes Carol would interrupt right in the middle of some account of her success on the papers, to ask if a certain man was married, or young, or good looking. After all, getting married was the thing. And Connie was not sufficiently enthusiastic about that. Writing stories was very well, and poems and books had their place no doubt, but Shakespeare himself never turned out a masterpiece to compare with Julia sitting plump and happy in the puddle of mud to the left of the kitchen door, her round pink face streaked and stained and grimy.

"I really did decide to get married once," Connie began confidentially, when they were comfortably settled on the porch by David's cot. "It was when I was in Mount Mark one time. Julia was so sweet I thought I could not possibly wait another minute. I kept thinking over the men in my mind, and finally I decided to apply my business training to the problem. Do you remember Dan Brooks?"

Carol nodded instantly. She remembered all the family beaus from the very beginning. "A doctor now, isn't he? Lives next door to the folks in Mount Mark. I used to think you would marry him, Connie. He is well off, and nice, too. And a doctor is very dignified."

Connie agreed warmly, and David laughed. All the Starrs had been so sensible in discussing the proper qualifications for lovers, and all had impulsively married whenever the heart dictated.

"Yes, that's Dan. Did you ever notice that cluster of lilac bushes outside our dining-room window? Maybe you used it in your own beau days. It is a lovely place to sit, very effective, for Dan's study overlooks it from the up-stairs, and their dining-room from down-stairs. So whenever I want to lure Dan I sit under the lilacs. He can't miss me.

"One day I planted myself out there with a little red note-book and the telephone directory. Dan and his mother were eating luncheon. I was absorbed in my work, but just the same I had a wary eye on Dan. He shoved back his chair, and got up. Then he kissed his mother lightly and came out the side door, whistling. I looked up, closed the directory, snapped the lock on my note-book, and took the pencil out of my mouth. I said, 'Hello, Danny.' Then I shoved the books behind me.

"'Hello, Connie.—No, I wouldn't invite Fred Arnold if I were you. It would just encourage him to try, try again, and it would mean an additional wound in the heart for him. Leave him out.'

"I frowned at him. 'I am not doing a party,' I said coldly.

"'No? Then why the directory? You are not reading it for amusement, are you? You are not—'

"'Never mind, Dan. It is my directory, and if I wish to look up my friends—'

"'Look up your friends!' Dan was plainly puzzled. 'None of my business, of course, but it is a queer notion. And why the tablet? Are you taking notes?' He reached for the notebook with the easy familiarity that people use when they have known you all your life. I shoved it away and flushed a little. I can flush at a second's notice, Carol. It is very effective in a crisis. I'll teach you, if you like. It only requires a little imagination."

Carol hugged her knees and beamed at Connie. "Go on," she begged. "How did it turn out?"

"'Well,' he said, 'you must be writing a book. Are you looking up heroes? Mount Mark isn't tremendously rich in hero material. But here am I, tall, handsome, courageous.'

"I sniffed, then I smiled, then I giggled. 'Yes,' I agreed, 'I was looking up heroes, but not for a book.'

"'What for then?'

"'For me.'

"'For you?'

"'Yes, for me. I want a hero of my own. Dan,' I said in an earnest impressive manner, 'you may think this is very queer, and not very modest, but I need a confidant, and Aunt Grace would think I am crazy. Cross your heart you'll never tell?'

"Dan obediently crossed, and I drew out the books.

"'I am going to get married.'

"Dan pulled his long members together with a jerk and sat up. He was speechless.

"I nodded affirmatively. 'Yes. Does it surprise you?'

"'Who to?' he demanded furiously and ungrammatically.

"'I haven't just decided,' I vouchsafed reluctantly.

"'You haven't—great Scott, are they coming around in droves like that?' He glanced down the street as if he expected to see a galaxy of admirers heaving into view. 'I knew there were a few hanging around, but there aren't many fellows in Mount Mark.'

"'No, not many, and they aren't coming in droves. I am going after them.'

"Having known me almost since my toothless days, Dan knew he could only wait.

"'I am getting pretty old, you know.'

"He looked at me critically and gave my age a smile.

"'I am very much in favor of marriage, and families, and such things. I want one myself. And if I don't hurry up, I'll have to adopt it. There's an age limit, you know.'"

"'Age limit,' he exploded.

"'I think I shall have a winter wedding, a white one, along in January. Not in December, it might interfere with my Christmas presents.'

"'Connie—'

"'I am going to be very systematic about it. In this note-book I am making a list of all the nice Mount Markers. I couldn't think of any myself right offhand, so I had to resort to the directory. Now I shall go through the list and grade them. Some are black-marked right at the start. Those that sound reasonable, I shall try out. The one that makes good, I shall marry. I've got to hurry, too. My vacation only lasts a week, and I have to work on my trousseau a little. It's lots of fun. I am perfectly fascinated with it.'

"Dan had nothing to say. He looked at me with that blankness of incomprehension that must be maddening in a man after you are married to him."

Carol squeezed David's hand and gurgled rapturously. This was her great delight, to get Connie talking, so cleverly, of her variegated and cosmopolitan love-affairs.

"'I suppose you are surprised,' I said kindly, 'and naturally you think it rather queer. You mustn't let any one know. Mount Mark could never comprehend such modernity. I feel very advanced, myself. I want to spring up and shout, "Votes for Women" or "Up with the Red Flag," or "Villa Forever," or something else outspoken and bloody.'"

Carol and David shook with laughter, silently, not to interrupt the story.

"'How about love, Connie?' suggested Dan, meekly.

"'I believe in love, absolutely. That is my strongest point. As soon as I find a champion, I am going to concentrate all my energy and all my talent on falling dead in love with him.'

"'Have you found any eligibles yet?'

"'Yes, Harvey Grath, and Robert Ingersoll, and Cal Keith, and Doctor Meredith.'

"'Where do I come in?'

"'Oh, we know each other too well,' I said with discouraging promptness. 'The real fascination in getting married is the novelty of it. There wouldn't be any novelty in marrying you. I know as much about you as your mother does. Eggs fried over, meat well done, no gravy, breakfast in bed Sunday morning, sporting pages first,—it would be like marrying father. Now I must get to work, Danny, so you'd better trot along and not bother me. And you must keep away evenings unless you have a date in advance. You might interrupt something if you bob in unannounced.'

"'May I have a date this evening?' he asked with high hauteur.

"'So sorry, Danny, I have a date with Cal Keith.' I consulted the note-book. 'To-morrow night Doctor Meredith. Thursday night, Buddy Johnson.'

"'Friday then?'

"'Yes, Friday.'

"The next time he saw me, he said first thing, which proved he had been thinking seriously, 'I suppose it will be the end of my hanging around here if you get married.'

"Evidently he thought I would contradict him. But I didn't.

"'I am afraid so,' I admitted. 'My husband will be so fearfully jealous! He will be so crazy about me that he won't allow another man to come within a mile of me.'

"Dan snorted. 'You don't know how crazy he'll be about you.'

"'Oh, yes, I do, for when I pick him out, I'll see to that part of it. That will be easy. It is picking him out that is hard.'

"You know how Dan is, Carol. He is very fond of the girls, especially me, and he makes love in a sort of semi-fashion, but he never really wanted to get married. He liked to be a bachelor. He noticed how other men ran down after marriage, and he didn't want to run down. He saw how so many girls went to seed after marriage, and he didn't want them to belong to him. 'Let well enough alone, you fool,' was his philosophy. I knew it. He had told me about it often, and I always said it was sound good sense.

"The second afternoon I told him I was going to wear white lace to be married in, and had picked out my bridesmaids. I asked him where would be a nice place to go for a honeymoon, and he flung himself home in a huff, and said it was none of his business where I went but he suggested New London or Danville. I showed no annoyance when he left so abruptly. I was too busy. I drew my feet up under me and went on making notes in my red book. He looked out from behind the windows of the dining-room, carefully concealed of course, but I saw him. I could hear him nearly having apoplexy when he saw me utterly and blissfully absorbed in my book."

Carol chuckled in ecstasy. She foresaw that Connie was practically engaged to Dan, a prince of a fellow, and she was so glad. That little scamp of a Connie, to keep it secret so long.

"Oh," she cried, "I always thought you loved each other."

"So?" asked Connie coolly. "Dan admitted he was surprised that my plans worked so easily. Before that he had been my escort on every occasion, and the town accepted it blandly. Now I had a regular series of attendants, and Dan was relegated to a few spare moments under the lilacs now and then. He couldn't see how I got hold of the fellows. He said they were perfect miffs to be nosed around like that. Why didn't they show some manhood? Boneless, brainless jelly fishes, jumping head first because a little snip of a girl said jump.

"The third day I called him on the phone.

"'Dan, come over quick. I have the loveliest thing to show you.'

"He did not wait for a hat. He dashed out and over the hedge, and I had the door open for him.

"'Oh, look,' I gurgled. I am not a very good gurgler, but sometimes you just have to do it.

"Dan looked. 'Nothing but silverware, is it?'

"I was hurt. 'Nothing but silverware? Why, it is my silverware, for my own little house. It cost a terribly, criminally lot, but I couldn't resist it. I really feel much more settled since I bought it. There is something very final about silverware. See these pretty doilies I am making. Aunt Grace is crocheting a bedspread for me, too. Those are guest towels,—they were given to me.'

"Dan's lips curled scornfully. He turned the lovely linens roughly, and wiped his hands on a dainty guest towel.

"'Connie, this is downright immodest. Furnishing your house before you have a lover!'

"'Do you think so?' I kissed a circular hand-embroidered table-cloth. 'If I had known it was such fun furnishing my house, I'd have had the lover years ago and don't you forgit it.'

"'I am disappointed in you.'

"'I am sorry,' I said lightly. 'But I am so excited over getting married, that I can't bother much about what mere friends think any more. My husband's opinions—'

"'Mere friends,' he shouted. 'Mere friends! I am no mere friend, Connie Starr. I'M—I'M—'

"'Yes, what are you?'

"Well, I am your pal, your chum, your old schoolmate, your best friend,—'

"'Oh, that was before I was engaged.'

"'Engaged?' Dan was staggered. 'Are you really engaged then? Have you found the right one?'

"'Being engaged alters the situation. You must see that.'

"'Who is it?'

"'Oh, don't be so silly. I haven't found the right one yet. But the principle is just the same. With marriage just ahead of me, all the rest of the world must stand back to give place to my fiance.'

"Dan sneered. 'Yeh, look at the world standing back and gazing with envy on this moonbeam fiance. Look!'

"'Oh, Dan it is the most fascinating thing in the world. In four months I may be standing at the altar, dressed in filmy white,—I bought the veil yesterday,—promising to love, honor and obey,—with reservations,—for the rest of my life. A little home of my own, a husband to pet, and chum with,—I am awfully happy, Dan, honestly I am.'

"And Carol I did enjoy it. It was fun. I was simply hypnotized with the idea of having a house and a husband and a lot of little Julias. Dan glared at me in disgust. Then he went home, snarling about my mushiness. But he thought it was becoming to me. He said I got prettier every day. I would not even let him touch my hand any more. You know Dan and I were pretty good pals for a long time, and he was allowed little privileges like that. Now it was all off. Dan might rave and Dan might storm, but I stood firm. He could not touch my hands! I was consecrated to my future husband.

"'It may not be wicked, Dan, I do not say it is. But it makes me shiver to think what would happen if my husband caught you doing it. He might kill you on the spot.'

"'You haven't got a husband,' Dan would snap.

"'The principle is just the same.' Then I would dimple up at him. I am not the dimply type of girl, I know, but there are times when one has simply got to dimple at a man, and by wrinkling my face properly I can give the dimple effect. I have practised it weary hours before the mirror. I have often prayed for a dimpled skin like yours, Carol, but I guess the Lord could not figure out how to manage it since my skin was practically finished before I began to pray. 'I keep wondering what he will like for breakfast,' I said to Dan. 'Isn't that silly? I hope he does not want fried potatoes. It seems so horrible to have potatoes for breakfast.' Then I added loyally, 'But he will probably be a very strong character, original, and unique, and men like that always have a few idiosyncrasies, so if he wants fried potatoes for breakfast he shall have them.'

"Dan sniffed again. He was becoming a chronic sniffer in these days of my engagement.

"'Yeh, he'll want fried potatoes all right, and postum, and left-over pumpkin pie. I have a picture of the big mutt in my mind now. "Constance," he'll say, "for pity's sake put more lard in the potatoes when you fry them. They are too dry. Take them back and cook them over." He will want his potatoes swimming in grease, he is bound to, that's just the kind of man he is. He will want everything greasy. Oh, you're going to have a sweet time with that big stiff.'

"I shook my fist at him. 'He will not!' I cried. 'Don't you dare make fun of my husband. He—he—' Then I stopped and laughed. 'Isn't it funny how women always rush to defend their husbands when outsiders speak against them? We may get cross at them ourselves, but no one else shall ridicule them.'

"'Yes, you are one loving little wife all right. You sure are. You won't let any one say a mean word against your sweet little snookie-ookums. Oh, no. Wait till you get to darning his socks, you won't be so crazy about him then.'

"'I do get a little cross when I darn his socks,' I confessed. 'I don't mind embroidering monograms on his silk shirts, but I can't say that so far I really enjoy darning his socks. Still, since they are his, it is not quite so bad. I wouldn't darn anybody else's, not even my own.'

"'Are you doing it already?' Dan gasped. He found it very hard to keep me and my husband straight in his mind.

"'I am just pretending. I practise on father's. I want to be a very efficient darner, so my patches won't make his poor dear feet sore.'

"'Lord help us,' cried Dan, springing to his feet and flinging himself through the hedge and slamming the door until it shook the house. He went away angry every time. He simply couldn't be rational. One day he said he guessed he would have to be the goat and marry me himself just to keep me out of trouble. Then he blushed, and went home and forgot his hat.

"Came down to the last day. 'It has simmered down to Harvey Grath and Buddy Johnson,' I told him. 'Harvey Grath,—Buddy Johnson,—Harvey Grath,—Buddy Johnson. Do run away, Danny, and don't be a nuisance. Harvey Grath,—Buddy Johnson.'

"Dan neglected his patients until it is a wonder they did not all die,—or get well, or something. He sat up-stairs in his study watching an endless procession of Harvey Graths and Buddy Johnsons, coming, lingering, going.

"That night, regardless of the illuminating moon, I took Buddy Johnson to the lilac corner. Dan was up-stairs smoking in front of his window. Buddy didn't know about that window, but I did. He took my hand, and I let him. I leaned my head against his shoulder,—not truly against, just near enough so Dan could not tell the difference. Buddy tried to kiss me, and nearly did it. I wasn't expecting it just at that minute. Dan sprang from his chair before the conclusion, so he did not know if the kiss was a fact, or not. Then I moved two feet away. Dan came out and marched across to the lilacs.

"'Connie,' he said, 'I am sorry to interrupt, but I need to talk to you a few minutes. It is a matter of business.' To Buddy he said, 'You know Connie always helps me out when I get stuck. Can you give me a minute, Connie?'

"I said, 'Of course I can. You'll excuse me won't you, Buddy? It is getting late anyhow.'

"So Buddy went away and Dan marched we up on the porch where it was dark and shady.

"'Are you engaged to Buddy Johnson?'

"'No.'

"'Thank Heaven.'

"Dan kissed me, regardless of the accusing eyes of my husband in the background."

Carol breathed loudly in her relief. He kissed her. Connie did not care. They were engaged.

"Dan breathlessly took back everything he ever said about getting married, and being a bachelor, and so forth. He said he was crazy to be married, always had been, but didn't find it out before. He said he had always adored me. And I drew out my note-book, and showed him the first page,—Doctor Daniel Brooks, O. K. And every other name in the book was checked off.

"Dan was jubilant." Connie's voice trailed away slowly, and her earnest fine eyes were cloudy.

"An engagement," cried Carol, springing up.

"No," said Connie slowly, "a blunder."

"A blunder," faltered Carol, falling back. "You did it on purpose to make him propose, didn't you?"

"Yes, and he proposed, and we were engaged. But it was just a blunder. It was not Dan I wanted. Carol, every woman feels like that at times. She is full of that great magnificent ideal of home, and husband, and little children. It seems the finest thing in the world, the only flawless life. She can't resist it, for the time being. She feels that work is silly, that success is tawdry, that ambition is wicked. It is dangerous, Carol, for if she gets the opportunity, or if she can make the opportunity, she is pretty sure to seize it. I believe that is why so many marriages are unhappy,—girls mistake that natural woman-wish for love, and they get married, and then—shipwreck."

Carol sat silent.

"Yes," said David sympathetically, "I think you are right. You were lucky to escape."

"I knew that evening, that one little evening of our engagement, that having a home and a husband, and even a little child like Julia, would never be enough. Something else had to come first. And it had not come. I went to bed and cried all night, so sorry for Dan for I knew he loved me,—but not sorry enough to make me do him such a cruel injustice. The next morning I told him, and that afternoon I returned to Chicago.

"I have thought a whole lot more of my job since then."

"But why couldn't you love him?" asked Carol impatiently. "It seems unreasonable, Connie. He is nice enough for anybody, and you were just ripe and ready for it."

Connie shrugged her shoulders. "Why didn't you love somebody else besides David?" she asked, and laughed at the quick resentment that flashed to Carol's eyes.

"Well," concluded Connie, "God certainly wanted a few old maids to leaven the earth, and I think I have the making for a good leavener. So I write stories, and let other women wash the little Julias' faces," she added, laughing, as Julia, unrecognizably dirty, entered with a soup can full of medicine she had painstakingly concocted to make her daddy well.



CHAPTER XX

LITERARY MATERIAL

Connie wanted to see something out of the ordinary. What was the use of coming to the wild and woolly if one never saw anything wilder than a movie of New York society life, or woollier than miles of properly garbed motorists driving under the guidance of blue-coated policemen as safely and sanely as could be done in Chicago.

It was Julia who came to the rescue. She discovered, on a neighbor's porch, and with admirable socialistic tendencies appropriated, a glaring poster, with slim-legged horses balancing themselves in the air, not at all inconveniencing their sunburned riders in varicolored silk shirts.

"Look at the horses jump over the moon," she exulted, kissing a scarlet shirt in rapture.

Upon investigation it turned out to be an irresistible advertisement of the annual Frontier Days, at Fort Morgan. Carol explained the pictures to Julia, while Connie looked over her shoulder.

"Do they do all it says?" she asked.

Carol did not know. She had never attended any Frontier Days, but she imagined they were even more wonderful than the quite impossible poster. Carol's early determination to adore the Westland had become fixed habit at last. It was capable of any miracles, to her.

"How far is it up there?" pursued Connie, for Connie had a very inartistic way of sticking to her subject.

"I do not know. About a hundred miles, I believe."

"A nice drive for the Harmer," said Connie thoughtfully. "How are the roads?"

"I do not know, but I think all the roads are good in Colorado. Certainly no road is impassable for a Harmer Six with you at the wheel."

"I have a notion to drive up and see them," said Connie. "Literary material, you know."

"I want to see the horsies fly, too," cried Julia quickly.

Carol thought it might do David good, and David was sure Carol needed a vacation. They would think it over.

Connie immediately went down-town and returned with a road guide, and her arm full of literature about frontier days in general. Then it was practically settled. A little distance of a hundred miles, a splendid car, a driver like Connie! It was nothing. And Carol was so excited getting ready for their first outing in the years of David's illness, that she forgot his medicine three times in succession, and David maliciously refused to remind her.

They all talked at once, and agreed that it was very silly and dangerous and unwise, but insisted it was the most alluring, appealing madness in the world. David, for over three years limited to the orderly, methodical, unstimulating confines of a screened porch, felt quite the old-time throbbing of his pulse and quickening of his blood. Even the doctor waxed enthusiastic. He looked into David's tired face and said:

"I think it will do him good. It can not do him harm."

In the excitement of getting ready for something unusual, he developed an unnatural strength and simply could not be kept in bed at all. He slept soundly, ate heartily, and looked forward to the trip in the car so anxiously that to the girls it was really pitiful.

Then came a glorious day in September when the Harmer Six stood early at their door, the lunch basket, and suit-cases were carefully arranged, and they were off,—off in the beautiful Harmer,—off to the country,—to the mountains and canyons,—to climb one of the sunny slopes that had beckoned to them so enticingly. Almost they held their breath at first, afraid the first creak of the car would waken them from the unbelievable dream.

Always as they climbed a long hill, Carol reminded them that they were climbing a sunny slope that would lead to a city of gold at the top, a city where everything was happy and bright, and there was no sickness, no sorrow, no want. And looking ahead to the spires of a little village, nestling cloudy and blue on the plains, she vowed it was a golden city, and they leaned forward to catch the first sparkle of the diamond-studded streets. And when they reached the city itself, little, ugly, sordid,—a city of gold, perhaps, to those who had made a fortune there, but not by any means a golden city of dreams to the Arcady travelers,—Carol shook herself and said it was a mistake, she meant the next one.

Rooms had been engaged in advance at the Bijou, on the ground floor, for the sake of David's softened muscles, and they reached the town ahead of the regular Frontier Day crowds, allowing themselves plenty of time to get rested and to see the whole thing start.

Julia frolicked on the wide velvety lawn with all the dogs and cats and children that could be drawn from the surrounding neighborhood. David sat on the porch in a big chair, enjoying the soft breezes sweeping down over the plains, looking through half closed lids out upon the quiet shaded street. Carol crouched excitedly in another chair beside him, squeezing his hand to call attention to every sunburned picturesque son of the plains that galloped down that way. But Connie, with the lustful eyes of a fortune-hunter walked up and down the corridors, peering here and peeking there, listening avidly to every unaccustomed word that was spoken,—getting material.

Quickly the hotels were filled to capacity, and overflowed to cots in the hall, rugs on the porches, and piles of straw in the stables. The street so quietly peaceful on Sunday, by Wednesday was a throbbing thoroughfare, with autos, wagons and horses whirling by in clouds of dust The main street, a block away, was a noisy, active, flourishing, carnival city, with fortune-tellers, two-headed dogs, snake-charmers, minstrels and all the other street-fair habitues in full possession. A dance platform was erected on a prominent corner, and bands were brought in from all the neighboring towns on the plains.

Connie was convinced she could get enough material to last a lifetime. No detective was hotter on the scent of a trail than she. Never two cowboys met in a secluded corner in the lobby to divide their hardly earned coins, but Connie sauntered slowly by, catching every word, noting the size of every coin that changed possession. No gaily garbed horseman could signal to a girl of his admiration, but Connie caught the motion first, and was taking mental notes for future coinage. They were not people to her, just material. She loved them, she reveled in them, she dreamed of them, just as a collector of curios gloats over the treasures he amasses. She classified them in a literary note-book for her own use, and kept them on file for instant reference.

When they went to the fair-grounds, early, in order to secure a comfortable seat for David where he should not miss one twist of a rider's supple body, they were as delighted as children truanting from school. It was the most exhilarating thing in the world,—this clever little trick on the sleeping porch and the white cot, on egg-nogs and beef juice and buttermilk. No wonder their faces tingled with excitement and their eyes sparkled with delight.

Connie was surprised that the girls were pretty, really pretty, with pink and white skin and polished finger nails, those girls in the silk blouses and khaki shirts, those girls with the wide sombrero and the iron muscles, who rode the bucking horses, and raced around the track, and did a thousand other appalling things that pink-skinned, shiny-nailed girls were not wont to do back home. They stayed at the Bijou, a whole crowd of them, and Connie never let them out of her sight until they closed their bedroom doors for the night. They talked in brief broken sentences, rather curtly, but their voices were quiet and low, and they weren't half as slangy as cowgirls, by every literary precedent, ought to be. They were not like Connie, of course, tall and slim, with the fine exalted face, with soft pink palms and soft round arms. And their striking saddle costumes were not half as curious to Fort Morgan as Connie's lacy waists, and her tailored skirts, and her frilly little silk gowns. But they were more curious to Connie.

She tried to picture herself in a sombrero like that, with gauntlets on her hands, and with a fringed leather skirt that reached to her knees, and with a scarlet silk blouse and a yellow silk belt,—and even her distinctly literary imagination could not compass such a miracle. But she was sure if she ever could rig herself up like that, she would look like a dream, and she really envied the cowgirls, who leaped head first from the saddle but always landed right side up.

People of another world, well, yes. But there are ways of getting together.

Connie talked very little that first afternoon. She watched the people around her, and listened as they discussed the points of the horses, the cowgirls and the jockeys with equal impartiality. She heard their bets, their guttural grunts of disapproval with the judges' decisions, their roars of satisfaction when the right horse won. She watched the cowgirls, walking unconcernedly about the ring, flapping their riding-whips against their leather boots. She watched the lithe-limbed cowboys slouching not ungracefully around the nervous ponies, waving their hats in greeting to their friends, calling loud jests to their fellows in the cowboy band. How strange they were, how startlingly human, and yet how thousand-miles removed.

Connie rebelled against it. They were folks. And so was Connie. The thousand miles was a barrier, an injustice. In order to handle literary material, she must get within touching distance of it. All those notes she had collected so painstakingly were cold, inanimate. In order to write of folks she must touch them, feel them, must know they lived and breathed as she did. Why couldn't she get at them,—folks, plain folks, and so was she. A slow fury rose up in her, and she watched the great events Of the afternoon with resentful eyes. Even when a man not entered for racing, swung over the railing into the center field, and scrambled upon the bare back of King Devil, the wild horse of the plains which had never yielded to man's bridling hand, and was tossed and dragged and jerked and twisted, until it seemed there could be no life left in him, yet who finally pulled the horse almost by brute force into submission, while the spectators went wild, and Julia screamed, and Carol sank breathless and white into her seat, and David stood on the bench and yelled until Carol pulled him down,—even then Connie could not get the feeling. She wanted to write these people, to put them on paper, and she couldn't, because they were not people to her, they were just "Good points."

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