We saw his shadow later, moving uncertainly across the shades in the upper chamber where Sympathy Gibbs lay with her baby, his hand lifted once with the fingers crooked in mysterious agony. Some one started a hymn in the street below and people took it up, bawling desperately for comfort to their souls. Mate Snow didn't sing. He stood motionless between the box-trees, staring up at the lighted window shades, as if waiting. By-and-by Minister Malden came down the steps, and moving away beside him like a drunken man, went to live in the two rooms over the drugstore. And that was the beginning of it.
* * *
Folks said Mate Snow was not the kind to forget an injury, and yet it was Mate who stood behind the minister through those first days of shock and scandal, who out-faced the congregation with his stubborn, tight lips, and who shut off the whisperings of the Dorcas Guild with the sentence which was destined to become a sort of formula on his tongue through the ensuing years:
"You don't know what's wrong, and neither do I; but we can all see the man's a saint, can't we?"
"But the woman?" some still persisted.
"Sympathy Gibbs? You ought to know Sympathy Gibbs by this time."
And if there was a faint curling at the corners of his lips, they were all too dull to wonder at it. As for me, the boy, I took the changing phenomena of life pretty well for granted, and wasted little of my golden time speculating about such things. But as I look back now on the blunt end of those Urkey days, I seem to see Minister Malden growing smaller as he comes nearer, and Mate Snow growing larger—Mate Snow browbeating the congregation with a more and more menacing righteousness—Minister Malden, in his protecting shadow, leaner, grayer, his eyes burning with an ever fiercer zeal, escaping Center Church and slipping away to redeem the Chinaman.
"There is more joy in heaven over one sinner," was his inspiration, his justification, and, I suspect, his blessed opiate.
But it must have been hard on Yen Sin. I remember him now, a steam-blurred silhouette, earlier than the earliest, later than the latest, swaying over his tubs and sad-irons in the shanty on the stranded scow by Pickett's wharf, dreaming perhaps of the populous rivers of his birth, or of the rats he ate, or of the opium he smoked at dead of night, or of those weird, heathen idols before which he bowed down his shining head—familiar and inscrutable alien.
An evening comes back to me when I sat in Yen Sin's shop and waited for my first "stand up" collar to be ironed, listening with a kind of awe to the tide making up the flats, muffled and unfamiliar, and inhaling the perfume compounded of steam, soap, hot linen, rats, opium, tea, idols and what-not peculiar to Yen Sin's shop and to a thousand lone shops in a thousand lone villages scattered across the mainland. When the precious collar was at last in my hands, still limp and hot from its ordeal, Yen Sin hung over me in the yellow nimbus of the lamp, smiling at my wonder. I stared with a growing distrust at the flock of tiny bird-scratches inked on the band.
"What," I demanded suspiciously, "is that?"
"Lat's Mista You," he said, nodding his head and summoning another hundred of wrinkles to his damp, polished face.
"That ain't my name. You don't know my name," I accused him.
"Mista Yen Sin gottee name, allee light."
The thing fascinated me, like a serpent.
"Whose name is that, then?" I demanded, pointing to a collar on the counter between us. The band was half-covered with the cryptic characters, done finely and as if with the loving hand of an artist.
Yen Sin held it up before his eyes in the full glow of the lamp. His face seemed incredibly old; not senile, like our white-beards mumbling on the wharves, but as if it had been a long, long time in the making and was still young. I thought he had forgotten me, he was so engrossed in his handiwork.
"Lat colla?" he mused by-and-by. "Lat's Mista Minista, boy."
"Mister Minister Malden?"
And there both of us stared a little, for there was a voice at the door.
"Yes? Yes? What is it?"
Minister Malden stood with his head and shoulders bent, wary of the low door-frame, and his eyes blinking in the new light. I am sure he did not see me on the bench; he was looking at Yen Sin.
"How is it with you to-night, my brother?"
The Chinaman straightened up and faced him, grave, watchful.
"Fine," he said. "Mista Yen Sin fine. Mista Minista fine, yes?"
He bowed and motioned his visitor to a rocker, upholstered with a worn piece of Axminster and a bit of yellow silk with half a dragon on it. The ceremony, one could see, was not new. Vanishing into the further mysteries of the rear, he brought out a bowl of tea, steaming, a small dish of heathenish things, nuts perhaps, or preserves, deposited the offering on the minister's pointed knees, and retired behind the counter to watch and wait.
An amazing change came over the minister. Accustomed to seeing him gentle, shrinking, illusively non-resisting, I scarcely knew this white flame of a man, burning over the tea-bowl!
"You are kind to me," he cried, "and yet your heart is not touched. I would give up my life gladly, brother, if I could only go up to the Throne and say to Jesus, 'Behold, Lord, Thy son, Yen Sin, kneeling at the foot of the Cross. Thou gavest me the power, Lord, and the glory is thine!' If I could say that, brother, I—I—"
His voice trailed off, though his lips continued to move uncertainly. His face was transfigured, his eyes filmed with dreams. He was looking beyond Yen Sin now, and on the lost yellow millions. The tea, untasted, smoked upward into his face, an insidious, narcotic cloud. I can think of him now as he sat there, wresting out of his easeless years one moment of those seminary dreams; the color of far-away, the sweet shock of the alien and the bizarre, the enormous odds, the Game. The walls of Yen Sin's shop were the margins of the world, and for a moment the missionary lived.
"He would soften your heart," he murmured. "In a wondrous way. Have you never thought, Yen Sin, 'I would like to be a good man'?"
The other spread his right hand across his breast.
"Mista Yen Sin velly humble dog. Mista Yen Sin no good. Mista Yen Sin's head on le glound. Mista Yen Sin velly good man. Washy colla fine."
It was evidently an old point, an established score for the heathen.
"Yes, I must say, you do do your work. I've brought you that collar for five years now, and it still seems new." The minister's face fell a little. Yen Sin continued grave and alert.
"And Mista Matee Snow, yes? His colla allee same like new, yes?"
"Yes, I must say!" The other shook himself. "But it's not that, brother. We're all of us wicked, Yen Sin, and unless we—"
"Mista Minista wickee?"
For a moment the minister's eyes seemed fascinated by the Chinaman's; pain whitened his face.
"All of us," he murmured uncertainly, "are weak. The best among us sins in a day enough to blacken eternity. And unless we believe, and have faith in the Divine Mercy of the Father, and confess—confession—" His voice grew stronger and into it crept the rapt note of one whose auditor is within. "Confession! A sin confessed is no longer a sin. The word spoken out of the broken and contrite heart makes all things right. If one but had faith in that! If—if one had Faith!"
The life went out of his voice, the fire died in his eyes, his fingers drooped on the tea-bowl. The Chinaman's clock was striking the half after seven. He stared at the floor, haggard with guilt.
"Dear me, I'm late for prayer-meeting again. Snow will be looking for me."
I slipped out behind him, glad enough of Urkey's raw air after that close chamber of mysteries. I avoided the wharf-lane, however, more than a little scared by this sudden new aspect of the Minister, and got myself out to the shore street by Miah White's yard and the grocery porch, and there I found myself face to face with Mate Snow. That frightened me still more, for the light from Henny's Notions' window was shining oddly in his eyes.
"You're lookin' for the minister," I stammered, ducking my head.
He stopped and stared down at me, tapping a sole on the cobbles.
"What's this? What's this?"
"He—he says you'd be lookin' for 'im, an' I seen 'im to the Chinaman's an' he's comin' right there, honest he is, Mr. Snow."
"Oh! So? I'd be looking for him, would I?"
I sank down on the grocery steps and studied my toes.
"He was there, though!" I protested in desperation, when we had been waiting in vain for a long quarter-hour. The dark monitor lifted his chin from his collar and looked at his watch.
"It's hard," I heard him sigh, as he turned away down Lovett's Court, where Center Church blossomed with its prayer-meeting lamps. Shadows of the uneasy flock moved across the windows; Emsy Nickerson, in his trustee's black, peered out of the door into the dubious night, and beyond him in the bright vestry Aunt Nickerson made a little spot of color, agitated, nursing formless despairs, an artist in vague dreads.
I was near enough, at the church steps, to hear what Mate told them.
"I'll lead to-night. He's gone out in the back-country to pray alone."
Aunt Nickerson wept quietly, peeping from the corners of her eyes. Reverent awe struggled with an old rebellion in Emsy's face, and in others as they came crowding. The trustee broke out bitterly:
"Miah White's took to the bottle again, along o' him. If only he'd do his prayin' at Miah's house a spell, 'stead o' the back-country—"
"There was a back-country in Judea," Mate cried him down. "And some one prayed there, not one night, but forty nights and days!"
What a far cry it was from the thwarted lover behind the prescription screen, fanning the flames of hell-fire through the night, to the Seer thundering in the vestry—had there been any there with heads enough to wonder at it.
It happened from time to time, this mysterious retreat into the moors, more frequently as the Infield Conference drew on and the hollows deepened in the minister's cheeks and his eyes shone brighter with foreboding. Nor was this the first time the back-country had been mentioned in the same breath with the Wilderness of Judea. I can remember our Miss Beedie, in Sunday School, lifting her eyes and sighing at the first verse of the fourth chapter of the Book of Luke.
And to-night, while I crept off tingling through the dark of Lovett's Court, he was in the Wilderness again, and I had seen him last.
I brought up by one of the tubbed box-trees and peered in at the Pillar House with a new wonder. I was so used to it there, dead on the outside and living on the inside, that I had never learned to think of it as a strange thing. Perhaps a dozen times I had seen little Hope Gibbs (they still said "Gibbs") playing quietly among the lilacs in the back yard. It was always at dusk when the shadows were long there, and she a shadow among them, so unobtrusive and far away. As for her mother, no one ever saw Sympathy Gibbs.
Crouching by the box-tree, I found myself wondering what they were doing in there, Sympathy Gibbs and the little girl; whether they were sleeping, or whether they were sitting in the dark, thinking, or whispering about the husband and father who was neither husband nor father, or whether, in some remote chamber, there might not be a lamp or a candle burning.
The dead hush of the place oppressed me. I turned my head to look back at the comfortable, bumbling devotion of Center Church, and this is what I saw there.
The door was still open, a blank, bright rectangle giving into the deserted vestry, and it was against this mat of light that I spied Minister Malden's head and shoulders thrust furtively, as he peeped in and seemed to harken to the muffled unison of the prayer.
You may imagine me startled enough at that, but what of my emotion when, having peeped and listened and reassured himself for a dozen seconds, Minister Malden turned and came softly down the Court toward the gate and the box-trees and me, a furtive silhouette against the door-light, his face turned back over one shoulder.
I couldn't bolt; he was too close for that. The wonder was that he failed to see me, for he stopped within two yards of where I cowered in the shadow and stood for a long time gazing in between the trees at the pillared porch, and I could hear his breathing, uneven and laborious, as though he had been running or fighting. Once I thought he struck out at something with a vicious fist. Then his trouble was gone, between two winks, and he was gone too, up the walk and up the steps, without any to-do about it. I don't know whether he tapped on the door or not. It was open directly. I caught a passing glimpse of Sympathy Gibbs in the black aperture; the door closed on them both, and the Pillar House was dead again.
Now this was an odd way for Minister Malden to fast and pray in the Wilderness—odd enough, one would say, to keep me waiting there a while to see what would come of it all. But it didn't. I had had enough of mysteries for one Summer's night, or at any rate I had enough by the time I got my short legs, full tilt, into the shore street. For I had caught a fleeting glimpse, on the way, of a watcher in the shadow behind the other box-tree—Yen Sin, the heathen, with a surprised eyeball slanting at me over one shoulder.
* * *
Among the most impressive of the phenomena of life, as noted in my thirteenth year, is the amazing way in which a community can change while one is away from it a month. Urkey village at the beginning of my 'teens seemed to me much the same Urkey village upon which I had first opened my eyes. And then I went to make a visit with my uncle Orville Means in Gillyport, just across the Sound, and when I came back on the packet I could assure myself with all the somber satisfaction of the returning exile that I would scarcely have known the old place.
Gramma Pilot's cow had been poisoned. There had been a fire in the Selectmen's room at Town Hall. Amber Matheson had left Mrs. Wharf's Millinery and set up for herself, opposite the Eastern School. And Mate Snow, all of a sudden, had bought the old Pons house, on the hill hanging high over the town, and gone to live there. With a leap, and as it were behind my back, he sat there dominating the village and the harbor and the island—our Great Man.
He took Minister Malden with him, naturally, out of the two rooms over the store, into one room in the third story of the house on the hill—where Sympathy Gibbs could see him if she chose to look that way, as frankly and ignominiously a dependent as any baron's chaplain in the Golden Days.
"She'd have done better with Mate, after all," folks began to say.
But of all the changes in the village, the most momentous to me was the change in Yen Sin. I don't know why it should have been I, out of all the Urkey youth, who went to the Chinaman's; perhaps it was the spiritual itch left from that first adventure on the scow. At any rate, I had fallen into a habit of dropping in at the cabin, and not always with a collar to do.
I had succeeded in worming out of him the meaning of that first set of bird-scratches on my collar-band—"The boy who throws clam-shells"—and of a second and more elaborate writing—"The boy who is courageous in the face of all the water of the ocean, yet trembles before so much of it as may be poured in a wash-basin." There came a third inscription in time, but of that he would not tell me, nor of Mate Snow's, nor the minister's. It was a queer library he had, those fine-written collars of Urkey village.
He had been growing feebler so long and so gradually that I had made nothing of it. Once, I remember, it struck me queer that he wasn't working so hard as he had used to. Still earliest of all and latest of all, he would sometimes leave his iron cooling on the board now and stand for minutes of the precious day, dreaming out of the harbor window. When the sun was sinking, the shaft through the window bathed his head and his lean neck with a quality almost barbaric, and for a moment in the gloom made by the bright pencil, the new, raw things of Urkey faded out, leaving him alone in his ancient and ordered civilization, a little wistful, I think, and perhaps a little frightened, as a child waking from a long, dreaming sleep, to find his mother gone.
He had begun to talk about China, too, and the river where he was born. And I made nothing of it, it came on so gradually, day by day. Then I went away, as I have said, and came back again. I dropped in at the scow the second day after the packet brought me home.
"Hello, there!" I cried, peeping over the counter, "I got a collar for you to—to—" I began to stumble. "Mr. Yen Sin, dear me, what's the matter of you?"
"Mista Yen Sin fine," he said in a strengthless voice, smiling and nodding from the couch where he lay, half propped up by a gorgeous, faded cushion. "Mista Yen Sin go back China way pletty quick now, yes."
He made no further answer, but took up the collar I had brought.
"You been gone Gillypo't, yes? You take colla China boy, yes?"
"He pletty nice man, Sam Low, yes?"
"Oh, you know him, then? Oh, he's all right, Yen Sin."
It was growing dark outside, and colder, with a rising wind from landward to seaward against the tide. A sense of something odd and wrong came over me; it was a moment before I could make it out. The fire was dead in the stove for the first time in memory and the Vestal irons were cold. Yen Sin asked me to light the lamp. In the waxing yellow glow he turned his eyes to mine, and mine were big.
"You know Mista God?" he questioned.
"Oh, yes," I answered soberly. "Yes, indeed."
"Mista God allee same like Mista Yen Sin, yes?"
I felt myself paling at his blasphemy, and thought of lightning.
"Mista God," he went on in the same speculative tone, "Mista God know allee bad things, allee same like Mista Yen Sin, yes?"
"Where is the minister?" I demanded in desperation.
"Mista Yen Sin likee see Mista Minista." When he added, with a transparent hand fluttering over his heart: "Like see pletty quick now," I seemed to fathom for the first time what was happening to him.
"Wait," I cried, too full of awe to know what I said. "Wait, wait, Yen Sin. I'll fetch 'im."
It was dark outside, the sky overcast, and the wind beginning to moan a high note across the roofs as it swept in from the moors and out again over the graying waters. In the shore street my eyes chanced upon the light of Center Church, and I remembered that it was meeting-night.
* * *
There was only a handful of worshippers that evening, but a thousand could have had no more eyes it seemed to me as I tiptoed down the aisle with the scandalized pad-pad of Emsy Nickerson's pursuing soles behind my back. Confusion seized me; I started to run, and had come almost up to Mister Malden before I had wit enough to discover that it wasn't Minister Malden at all, but Mate Snow in the pulpit, standing with an open hymn-book in one hand and staring down at me with grim, inquiring eyes. After a time I managed to stammer:
"The Chinaman, you know—he's goin' to die—the minister—"
Then I fled, dodging Emsy's legs. Confused voices followed me; Aunt Nickerson's full of a nameless horror; Mate Snow's, thundering: "Brother Hemans, you will please continue the meeting. I will go and see what I can do. But your prayers are needed here."
Poor Minister Malden! His hour had struck—the hour so long awaited—and now it was Mate Snow who should go to answer it. Perhaps the night had something to do with it, and the melancholy disaster of the wind. Perhaps it was the look of Mate Snow's back as he passed me, panting on the steps, his head bowed with his solemn and triumphant stewardship. But all of a sudden I hated him, this righteous man. He had so many things, and Minister Malden had nothing—nothing but the Chinaman's soul—and he was going to try and get that too.
I had to find Minister Malden, and right away. But where was he, and on prayer-meeting night too? My mind skipped back. The "Wilderness."
I was already ducking along the Court to reconnoiter the Pillar House, black and silent beyond the box-trees. And then I put my hands in my pockets, my ardor dimmed by the look of that vacant, staring face. What was I, a boy of thirteen, against that house? I could knock at the door, to be sure, as the minister had done that other night. Yes; but when I stood, soft-footed, on the porch, the thought that Sympathy Gibbs might open it suddenly and find me there sent the hands back again into the sanctuary of my pockets. What did I know of her? What did any one know of her? To be confronted by her, suddenly, in the dark behind a green door—I tiptoed down the steps.
If only there were a cranny of light somewhere in the dead place! I began to prowl around the yard, feeling adventurous enough, you may believe, for no boy had ever scouted that bit of Urkey land before. And I did find a light, beneath a drawn shade in the rear. Approaching as stealthily as a red Indian, I put one large, round eye to the aperture.
If I had expected a melodramatic tableau, I was disappointed. I had always figured the inside of the Pillar House as full of treasures, for they told tales of the old whaler's wealth. My prying eyes found it bare, like a deserted house gutted by seasons of tramps. A little fire of twigs and a broken butter-box on the hearth made a pathetic shift at domestic cheer. Minister Malden sat at one side of it, his back to me, his face half-buried in his hands. Little Hope Gibbs played quietly on the floor, building pig-pens with a box of matches, a sober, fire-lined shade. Sympathy Gibbs was not in the picture, but I heard her voice after a moment, coming out from an invisible corner.
"How much do you want this time, Will?"
"Want?" There was an anguished protest in the man's cry.
"Need, then." The voice was softer.
The minister's face dropped back in his hands, and after a moment the words came out between his tight fingers, hardly to be heard.
"Five hundred dollars, Sympathy."
I thought there was a gasp from the corner, suppressed. I caught the sound of a drawer pulled open and the vague rustling of skirts as the woman moved about. Her voice was as even as death itself.
"Here it is, Will. It brings us to the end, Will. God knows where it will come from next time."
"It—it—you mean—" An indefinable horror ran though the minister's voice, and I could see the cords shining on the hands which gripped the chair-arms. "Next time—next year—" His eyes were fixed on the child at his feet. "God knows where it will come from. Perhaps—before another time—something will happen. Dear little Hope—little girl!"
The child's eyes turned with a preoccupied wonder as the man's hand touched her hair; then went back to the alluring pattern of the matches.
Sympathy Gibbs spoke once more.
"I've found out who holds the mortgage, Will. Mr. Dow told me."
His hand slid from Hope's hair and hung in the air. During the momentary hush his head, half-turned, seemed to wait in a praying suspense.
"It's Mate Snow," the voice went on. The man covered his face.
"Thank God!" he said. I thought he shivered. "Then it's all—all right," he sighed after a moment. "I was afraid it might be somebody who would—who might make trouble." He took out a handkerchief and touched his forehead with it. "Thank—God!"
"Why do you thank God?" A weariness, like anger, touched her words.
"Why? Why do I thank God?" He faced her, wondering. "Because he has given me a strong man to be my friend and stand behind me. Because Mate Snow, who might have hated me, has—"
"Has sucked the life out of you!" It came out of the corner like a blade. "Yes, yes, he has sucked the life out of you in his hate, and thrown the dry shell of you to me; and that makes him feel good on his hill there. No, no, no; I'm going to say it now. Has he ever tried to find out what was wrong with us? No. He didn't need to. Why? Because no matter what it was, we were given over into his hands, body and soul. And now it's Mate Snow who is the big man of this island, and it's the minister that eats the crumbs that fall from his table, and folks pity you and honor him because he's so good to you, and—"
And this was Urkey village, and night, and Yen Sin was dying.
"And he's down to the Chinaman's now!" I screamed, walking out of my dream. "An' the Chinaman's dyin' an' wants the minister, an' Mate Snow he got there first."
The light went out in the room; I heard a chair knocked over, and then Minister Malden's voice: "God forgive me! God forgive me!"
I ran, sprawling headlong through the shrubs.
Out in the dark of Lovett's Court I found people all about me, the congregation, let out, hobbling and skipping and jostling shoreward, a curious rout. Others were there, not of the church; Kibby Baker, the atheist, who had heard the news through the church window where he peeped at the worshipers; Miah White's brother, the ship-calker, summoned by his sister; a score of others, herding down the dark wind. At the shore street, folks were coming from the Westward. It was strange to see them all and to think it was only a heathen dying.
Or, perhaps, it wasn't so strange, when one remembered Minister Malden coming down the years with that light in his eyes, building his slow edifice, like one in Israel prophesying the coming of the Messiah.
I shall never forget the picture I saw that night from the deck of the Chinaman's scow. The water here in the lee was as smooth as black glass, save for the little ground-swell that rocked the outer end of the craft. The tide was rising; the grounded end would soon be swimming. There were others on the deck with me, and more on the dock overhead, their faces picked out against the sky by the faint irradiations from the lighted shanty beneath. And over and behind it all ran the tumult of the elements; behind it the sea, where it picked up on the Bight out there beyond our eyes; above it the wind, scouring the channels of the crowded roofs and flinging out to meet the waters, like a ravening and disastrous bride.
Mate Snow stood by the counter in the little cabin, his close-cropped head almost to the beams, his voice, dry austere, summoning the Chinaman to repentance. "Verily, if a man be not born again, he shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." His eyes skipped to the door.
"And to be born again," he went on with a hint of haste, "you must confess, Yen Sin, and have faith. That is enough. The outer and inner manifestations—confession and faith."
"Me, Mista Yen Sin—confessee?"
A curious and shocking change had come over the Chinaman in the little time I had been away. He lay quite motionless on his couch, with a bit of silken tapestry behind his head, like a heathen halo protecting him at last. He was more alive than he had been, precisely because the life had gone out of him, and he was no longer bothered with it. His face was a mask, transparent and curiously luminous, and there for the first time I saw the emotion of humor, which is another name for perception.
His unclouded eyes found me by the door and he moved a hand in a vague gesture. I went, walking stiff-legged, awe mingling with self-importance.
"Mista Boy, please," he whispered in my ear. "The collas on the shelf theah. Led paypah—"
Wondering, I took them down and piled them on the couch beside him, one after another, little bundles done up carefully in flaring tissue with black characters inked on them.
"That one!" he whispered, and I undid the one under his finger, discovering half a dozen collars, coiled with their long imprisonment.
"And that one, and that one—"
They covered his legs and rose about his thin shoulders, those treasured soiled collars of his, gleaming under the lamp like the funeral-pyre of some fantastic potentate. Nothing was heard in the room save the faint crackling of the paper, and after a moment Lem Pigeon murmuring in amazement to his neighbor, over in a corner.
"Look a-there, will ye? He's got my collar with the blood spot onto it where the Lisbon woman's husband hit me that time down to New Bedford. What ye make o' that now?"
Yen Sin lifted his eyes to Mate Snow's hanging over him in wonder.
"Mista Matee Snow confessee, yes?"
There was a moment of shocked silence while our great man stared at Yen Sin. He took his weight from the counter and stood up straight.
"I confess my sins to God," he said.
The other moved a fluttering hand over his collars. "Mista Yen Sin allee same like Mista God, yes."
In the hush I heard news of the blasphemy whispering from lip to lip, out the door and up the awe-struck dock. Mate Snow lifted a hand.
"Stop!" he cried. "Yen Sin, you are standing in the Valley of the Shadow of Death—"
"Mista Matee Snow wickee man? No? Yes? Mista Matee Snow confessee?"
The Chinaman was making a game of his death-bed, and even the dullest caught the challenge. Mate Snow understood. The yellow man had asked him with the divine clarity of the last day either to play the game or not to play the game. And Mate Snow wanted something enough to play.
"Yes," he murmured, "I am weak. All flesh is weak." He faltered, and his brow was corded with the labor of memory. It is hard for a good man to summon up sins enough to make a decent confession; nearly always they fall back in the end upon the same worn and respectable category.
"I confess to the sin of pride," he pronounced slowly. "And to good deeds and kind acts undone; to moments of harshness and impatience—"
"Mista Matee Snow confessee?" Yen Sin shook a weary protest at the cheater wasting the precious moments with words. Mate Snow lifted his eyes, and I saw his face whiten and a pearl of sweat form on his forehead. A hush filled the close cave of light, a waiting silence, oppressive and struck with a new expectancy. Little sounds on the dock above became important—young Gilman Pilot's voice, cautioning: "Here, best take my hand on that ladder, Mr. Malden. Last rung's carried away."
It was curious to see Mate Snow's face at that; it was as if one read the moving history of years in it as he leaned over the counter and touched the dying man's breast with a passion strange in him.
"I will tell you how wicked I am, Yen Sin. Three years ago I did Ginny Silva out of seventy dollars wages in the bogs; and if he's here tonight I'll pay him the last cent of it. And—and—" He appealed for mercy to the Chinaman's unshaken eyes. Then, hearing the minister on the deck behind, he cast in the desperate sop of truth. "And—and I have coveted my neighbor's wife!"
It was now that Minister Malden cried from the doorway: "That is nothing, Yen Sin—nothing—when you think of me!"
You may laugh. But just then, in that rocking death-chamber, with the sea and the dark and the wind, no one laughed. Except Yen Sin, perhaps; he may have smiled, though the mask of his features did not move. Minister Malden stepped into the room, and his face was like new ivory.
"Look at me! I have wanted to bring your soul to Christ before I died. That is white, but all the rest of me is black. I have lived a lie; I have broken a law of God; to cover that I have broken another, another—"
His voice hung in the air, filled with a strange horror of itself. The Chinaman fingered his collars. Without our consent or our understanding, he had done the thing which had so shocked us when he said it with his lips; the heathen sat in judgment, weighing the sins of our little world.
"Yes?" he seemed to murmur. "And then?"
The minister's eyes widened; pain lifted him on his toes.
"I am an adulterer," he cried. "And my child is a—a—bastard. Her mother's husband, Joshua Gibbs, didn't go down with his vessel after all. He was alive when I married her. He is alive today, a wanderer. He learned of things and sent me a letter; it found me at the Infield Conference the day before I came home that time to see my baby. Since that day it has seemed to me that I would suffer the eternity of the damned rather than that that stain should mar my child's life, and in the blackness of my heart I have believed that it wouldn't if it weren't known. I have kept him quiet; I have hushed up the truth. I have paid him money, leaving it for him where he wrote me to leave it. I have gone hungry and ragged to satisfy him. I have begged my living of a friend. I have drained the life of the woman I love. And yet he is never content. And I have betrayed even him. For he forbade me to see his wife ever again, or even to know the child I had begotten, and I have gone to them, in secret, by night. I have sinned not alone against God, but against the devil. I have sinned against—everything!"
* * *
The fire which had swept him on left him now of a sudden, his arms hung down at his sides, his head drooped. It was Mate Snow who broke the silence, falling back a step, as if he had been struck.
"God forgive me," he said in awe. "And I have kept you here. You! To preach the word of God to these people. God forgive me!"
"I think Mista God laugh, yes."
Yen Sin wasn't laughing himself; he was looking at his collars. Mate Snow shrugged his shoulders fiercely, impatient of the interruption.
"I have kept you here," he pursued bitterly, "for the good of my own soul, which would have liked to drive you away. I have kept you here, even when you wanted to go away—"
"Little mousie want to go away. Little cat say, 'no—no.'" Yen Sin's head turned slowly and he spoke on to the bit of yellow silk, his words clear and powerless as a voice in a dream. "No—no, Mousie, stay with little cat. Good little cat. Like see little mousie jump. Little cat!"
Mate Snow wheeled on him, and I saw a queer sight on his face for an instant; the gray wrinkles of age. My cousin Duncan was there, constable of Urkey village, and he saw it too and came a step out of his corner. It was all over in a wink; Mate Snow lifted his shoulders with a sigh, as much as to say: "You can see how far gone the poor fellow is."
The Chinaman, careless of the little by-play, went on.
"Mista Sam Kow nice China fella. Mista Minista go to Mista Sam Kow in Infield, washy colla. Mista Yen Sin lite a letta to Mista Sam Kow, on Mista Minista colla-band. See? Mista Sam Kow lite a letta back on colla-band. See?"
We saw—that the yellow man was no longer talking at random, but slowly, with his eyes on the collar he held in his hand, like a scholar in his closet, perusing the occult pages of a chronicle.
"Mista Sam Kow say: 'This man go night-time in Chestnut Stleet; pickee out letta undah sidewalk, stickee money-bag undah sidewalk, cly, shivah, makee allee same like sick fella. Walkee all lound town allee night. Allee same like Chlistian dlunk man. No sleepee. That's all—Sam Kow.' Mista Yen Sin keepee colla when Mista Minista come back; give new colla: one, two, five, seven time; Mista Minista say: 'You washy colla fine, Yen Sin: this colla, allee same like new.' Mista Matee Snow, his colla allee same like new, too—"
* * *
Something happened so suddenly that none of us knew what was going on. But there was my cousin Duncan standing by the counter, his arm and shoulder still thrust forward with the blow he had given; and there was our great man of the hill flung back against the wall with a haggard grimace set on his face.
"No, you don't!" Duncan growled, his voice shivering a little with excitement. "No, you don't, Mate!"
Mate Snow screamed, and his curse was like the end of the world in Urkey island.
"Curse you! The man's a thief, I tell you. He's stolen my property! I demand my property—those collars there in his hand now. You're constable, you say. Well, I want my—"
He let himself down on the bench, as if the strength had left his knees.
"He's going to tell you lies," he cried. "He's making fools of you all with his—his—Duncan, boy! Don't listen to the black liar. He's going to try and make out 'twas me put the letter under the walk in Chestnut Street, up there to Infield; that it was me, all these years, that went back and got out money he put there. Me! Mate Snow. Duncan, boy; he's going to tell you a low, black-hearted lie!"
"How do you know?" That was all my cousin Duncan said.
To the dying man, nothing made much difference. It was as if he had only paused to gather his failing breath, and when he spoke his tone was the same, detached, dispassionate, with a ghost of humor running through it.
"How many times?" He counted the collars with a finger tip. "One two, tlee, six, seven time. Seven yeahs. Too bad. Any time Mista Minista wantee confessee, Mista God makee allee light. Mista Yen Sin allee same like Mista God. Wait. Wait. Wait. Laugh. Cly inside!"
Mate Snow was leaning forward on the bench in a queer, lazy attitude, his face buried in his hands and his elbows propped on his knees. But no one looked at him, for Minister Malden was speaking in the voice of one risen from the dead, his eyes blinking at the Chinaman's lamp.
"Then you mean—you mean that he—isn't alive? After all? That he wasn't alive—then? You mean it was all a—a kind of a—joke? I—I—Oh, Mate! Mate Snow!"
It was queer to see him turning with his news to his traditional protector. It had been too sudden; his brain had been so taken up with the naked miracle that Gibbs was not alive that all the rest of it, the drawn-out and devious revenge of the druggist, had somehow failed to get into him as yet.
"Mate Snow!" he cried, running over to the sagging figure. "Did you hear, Mate? Eh? It isn't true! It was all a—a joke, Mate!" He shook Snow's shoulder with a pleading ecstasy. "It's been a mistake, Mate, and I am—she is—little Hope is—"
He fell back a step, letting the man lop over suddenly on his doubled knees, and stared blankly at a tiny drug-phial, uncorked and empty, rolling away across the floor. He passed a slow hand across his eyes. "Why—why—I—I'm afraid Mate is—isn't very—well."
Urkey had held its tongue too long. Now it was that the dam gave way and the torrent came whirling down and a hundred voices were lifted. Crowds and shadows distracted the light. One cried. "The man's dead, you fools; can't you see?" A dozen took it up and it ran out and away along the rumbling dock. "Doctor!" another bawled. "He's drank poison! Where's the doctor at?" And that, too, went out, and a faint shout answered from somewhere shoreward that the doctor was out at Si Pilot's place and Miah White was after him, astraddle of the tar-wagon horse. Through it all I can remember Aunt Nickerson's wail continuing, undaunted and unquenchable, "God save our souls! God save our souls!"
And then, following the instinct of the frightened pack, they were all gone of a sudden, carrying the dead man to meet the doctor. I would have gone, too, and I had gotten as far as the door at their heels, when I paused to look back at the Chinaman.
He lay so still over there on the couch—the thought came to me that he, too, was dead. And of a sudden, leaning there on the door-frame, the phantom years trooped back to me, and I saw the man for the first time moving through them—a lone, far outpost of the thing he knew, one yellow man against ten thousand whites, unshaken, unappalled, facing the odds, working so early, so late, day after day and year after year, and smiling a little, perhaps, as he peeped behind the scenes of the thing which we call civilization. Yes, cry as he might inside, he must have smiled outside, sometimes, through those years of terror, at the sight of Minister Malden shrinking at the shadow of the ghost of something that was nothing, to vanish at a touch of light.
And now his foreign service was ended; his post was to be relieved; and he could go wherever he wanted to go.
Not quite yet. He had been dreaming, that was all. His eyes opened, and rested, not on me, but to the right of me. Then I saw for the first time that I wasn't alone in the room with him after all, but that Minister Malden was standing there, where he had stood through all the din like a little boy struck dumb before a sudden Christmas tree.
And like a little boy, he went red and white and began to stammer.
"I—I—Yen Sin—" He held his breath a moment. Then it came out all together. "I'll run and fetch them—both!" With that he was past me, out of the door and up the ladder, and I heard his light feet drumming on the dock, bearing such news as never was.
* * *
The Chinaman's eyes had come to me now, and there was a queer light in them that I couldn't understand. An adventure beyond my little comprehension was taking shape behind them, and all I knew enough to do was to sneak around behind the counter and take hold of one of his fingers and shake it up and down, like one man taking a day's leave of another. His eyes thanked me for my violence; then they were back again to their mysterious speculations. An overweening excitement gathered in them. He frightened me. Quite abruptly, as if an unexpected reservoir of energy had been tapped, the dying man lifted on an elbow and slid one leg over the edge of the couch. Then he glanced at me with an air almost furtive.
"Boy," he whispered. "Run quick gettee Mista Minista, yes."
"But he's coming himself," I protested. "You better lay back."
"Mista Yen Sin askee please! Please, boy."
What was there for me to do? I ran. Once on the dock above, misgivings assailed me. I was too young, and the night was too appalling. I had forgotten the wind, down in the cabin, but in the open here I felt its weight. It grew all the while; its voice drowned the world now, and there was spindrift through it, picked from the back shore of the island and flung all the way across. Objects were lost in it; ghostly things, shore lights, fish-houses, piers, strained seaward. I heard the packet's singing masts at the next wharf, but I saw no packet. The ponderous scow below me became a thing of life and light, an eager bird fluttering at its bonds and calling to the wide spaces. To my bewildered eyes it seemed to move—it was moving, shaking off the heavy hands of bondage, joining itself with the wind. I got down on my knees of a sudden and peered at the deck.
"Yen Sin!" I screamed. "What you doin' out there?"
I saw him dimly in the open air outside his door, fumbling and fumbling at something. This was his great adventure, the thing that had gleamed in his eyes and had tapped that unguessed reservoir of strength. His voice crept back to me, harassed by the wind,
"This velly funny countly, Mista Boy. Mista Yen Sin go back China way."
His bow-line was fast to an iron ring on the wharf. I wanted to hold him back, and I clutched at the rope with my hands as if my little strength were something against that freed thing. The line came up to me easily, cast off from the scow at the other end.
He was waning. His window and door and the little fan-light before the door were all I could see now, and even that pattern blurred and became uncertain and ghostly on the mat of the night. He was clear of the wharves now, and the wind had him—sailing China way—so peaceful, so dreamless, surrounded by his tell-tale cargo of Urkey's unwashed collars.
* * *
I don't know how long it was I crouched there on the timbers, staring out into the havoc of that black night, and listening to the hungry clamor of the Bight. I must have been crying for the minister, over and over, without knowing it, for when my cousin Duncan's hand fell on my shoulder and I started up half out of my wits, he pointed a finger toward the outer edge of the wharf.
And there they were in a little close group, Sympathy Gibbs standing straight with the child in her arms, and Minister Malden down on his knees. There were many people on the pier, all with their eyes to sea, all except Sympathy Gibbs; hers were up-shore, where Mate Snow lay in state on his own counter, all his sweet revenge behind him and gone.
I thought little Hope was asleep in the swathing shawl, till I saw the dark round spots of her eyes. If it was a strange night for the others, it was stranger still to her.
The wind and the rain beat on Minister Malden's bended back. He loved it that way. The missionary was praying for the soul of the heathen.
NONE SO BLIND
[Note 21: Copyright 1917, by Harper and Brothers. Copyright 1918, by Mary Synon.]
BY MARY SYNON
From Harper's Magazine.
We were listening to Leila Burton's music—her husband, and Dick Allport, and I—with the throb of London beating under us like the surge of an ocean in anger, when there rose above the smooth harmonies of the piano and the pulsing roar of the night a sound more poignant than them both, the quavering melody of a street girl's song.
Through the purpling twilight of that St. John's Eve I had been drifting in dreams while Leila had gone from golden splendors of chords which reflected the glow on westward-fronting windows into somber symphonies which had seemed to make vocal the turbulent soul of the city—for Dick Allport and I were topping the structure of that house of life that was to shelter the love we had long been cherishing. With Leila playing in that art which had dowered her with fame, I was visioning the glory of such love as she and Standish Burton gave each other while I watched Dick, sensing rather than seeing the dearness of him as he gave to the mounting climaxes the tense interest he always tendered to Leila's music.
I had known, before I came to love Dick Allport, other loves and other lovers. Because I had followed will-o'-the-wisps of fancy through marshes of sentiment I could appreciate the more the truth of that flame which he and I had lighted for our guidance on the road. A moody boy he had been when I first met him, full of a boy's high chivalry and of a boy's dark despairs. A moody man he had become in the years that had denied him the material success toward which he had striven; but something in the patience of his efforts, something in the fineness of his struggle had endeared him to me as no triumph could have done. Because he needed me, because I had come to believe that I meant to him belief in the ultimate good of living, as well as belief in womanhood, I cherished in my soul that love of him which yearned over him even as it longed for him.
Watching him in the dusk while he lounged in that concentrated quiet of attention, I went on piling the bricks of that wide house of happiness we should enter together; and, although I could see him but dimly, so well did I know every line of his face that I could fancy the little smile that quivered around his lips and that shone from the depths of his eyes as Leila played the measures we both loved. I must have been smiling in answer when the song of the girl outside rose high.
Not until that alien sound struck athwart the power and beauty of the spell did I come to know how high I had builded my castles; but the knocking at the gate toppled down the dreams as Leila swept a discord over the keyboard and crossed to the open window.
In the dusk, as she flung back the heavy curtains, I could see the bulk of Brompton Oratory set behind the houses like the looming back-drop of a painted scene. Nearer, in front of a tall house across the way, stood the singer, a thin girl whose shadowy presence seemed animated by a curious bravery. In a nasal, plaintive voice she was singing the words of a ballad of love and of loving that London, as only London can, had made curiously its own that season. The insistence of her plea—for she sang as if she cried out her life's longing, sang as if she called on the passing crowd not for alms, but for understanding—made her for the moment, before she faded back into oblivion, an artist, voicing the heartache and the heartbreak of womankind; and the artist in Leila Burton responded to the thrill.
Until the ending of the song she stood silent in front of the window, unconscious of the fact that she, and not the scene beyond her, held the center of the stage. Not for her beauty, although at times Leila Burton gave the impression of being exquisitely lovely, was she remarkable, but rather for that receptive attitude that made her an inspired listener. In me, who had known her for but a little while, she awakened my deepest and drowsiest ambition, the desire to express in pictures the light and the shade of the London I knew. With her I could feel the power, and the glory, and the fear, and the terror of the city as I never did at other times. It was not alone that she was all things to all men; it was that she led men and women who knew her to the summits of their aspirations.
Even Standish Burton, big, sullen man that he was, immersed in his engineering problems, responded to his wife's spiritual charm with a readiness that always aroused in Dick and myself an admiration for him that our other knowledge of him did not justify. He was, aside from his relationship to Leila, a man whose hardness suggested a bitter knowledge of dark ways of life. Now, crouched down in the depths of his chair, he kept watching Leila with a gaze of smouldering adoration, revealing that love for her which had been strong enough to break down those barriers which she had erected in the years while he had worked for her in Jacob's bondage. In her he seemed to be discovering, all over again, the vestal to tend the fires of his faith.
Dick Allport, too, bending forward over the table on which his hands fell clenched, was studying Leila with an inscrutable stare that seemed to be of query. I was wondering what it meant, wondering the more because my failure to understand its meaning hung another veil between my vision and my shrine of belief in the fullness of love, when the song outside came to an end and Leila turned back to us.
Her look, winging its way to Standish, lighted her face even beyond the glow from the lamps which she switched on. For an instant his heavy countenance flared into brightness. Dick Allport sighed almost imperceptibly as he turned to me. I had a feeling that such a fire as the Burtons kindled for each other should have sprung up in the moment between Dick and me, for we had fought and labored and struggled for our love as Standish and Leila had never needed to battle. Because of our constancy I expected something better than the serene affectionateness that shone in Dick's smile. I wanted such stormy passion of devotion as Burton gave to Leila, such love as I, remembering a night of years ago, knew that Dick could give. It was the old desire of earth, spoken in the street girl's song, that surged in me until I could have cried out in my longing for the soul of the sacrament whose substance I had been given; but the knowledge that we were, the four of us, conventional people in a conventional setting locked my heart as it locked my lips until I could mirror the ease with which Leila bore herself.
"I have been thinking," she said, lightly, "that I should like to be a street singer for a night. If only a piano were not so cumbersome, I should go out and play into the ears of the city the thing that girl put into her song."
"Why not?" I asked her, "It would be an adventure, and life has too few adventures."
"It might have too many," Dick said.
"Not for Leila," Standish declared. "Life's for her a quest of joy."
"That's it," Dick interposed. "Her adventures have all been joyous."
"But they haven't," Leila insisted. "I'm no spoiled darling of the gods. I've been poor, poor as that girl out there. I've had heartaches, and disappointments, and misfortunes."
"Not vital ones," Dick declared. "You've never had a knock-out blow."
"She doesn't know what one is," Standish laughed, but there sounded a ruefulness in his laughter that told of the kind of blow he must once have suffered to bring that note in his voice. Standish Burton took life lightly, except where Leila was concerned. His manner now indicated, almost mysteriously, that something threatened his harbor of peace, but the regard Leila gave to him proved that the threat of impending danger had not come to her.
"Oh, but I do know," she persisted.
"Vicariously," I suggested. "All artists do."
"No, actually," she said.
"You're wrong," said Standish. "You're the sort of woman whom the world saves from its own cruelties."
There was something so essentially true in his appraisal of his wife that the certainty covered the banality of his statement and kept Dick and myself in agreement with him. Leila Burton, exquisitely remote from all things commonplace, was unquestionably a woman to be protected. Without envy—since my own way had its compensations in full measure—I admitted it.
"I think that you must have forgotten, if you ever knew," she said, "how I struggled here in London for the little recognition I have won."
"Oh, that!" Dick Allport deprecated. "That isn't what Stan means. Every one in the world worth talking about goes through that sort of struggle. He means the flinging down from a high mountain after you've seen the glories, not of this world, but of another, the casting out from paradise after you've learned what paradise may mean. He spoke with an odd timbre of emotion in his voice, a quality that puzzled me for the moment.
"That's it," said Standish, gratefully. "Those are the knock-out blows."
"Well, then, I don't know them"—Leila admitted her defeat—"and I hope that I shall not."
Softly she began to play the music of an accompaniment. There was a familiar hauntingness in its strains that puzzled me until I associated them with the song that Burton used to whistle so often in the times when Leila was in Paris and he had turned for companionship to Dick and to me.
"I've heard Stan murder that often enough to be able to try it myself," I told her.
"I didn't know he knew it," she said. "I heard it for the first time the other day. A girl—I didn't hear her name—sang it for an encore at the concert of the Musicians' Club. She sang it well, too. She was a queer girl," Leila laughed, "a little bit of a thing, with all the air of a tragedy queen. And you should have heard how she sang that! You know the words?"—she asked me over her shoulder:
"And because I, too, am a lover, And my love is far from me, I hated the two on the sands there, And the moon, and the sands, and the sea."
"And the moon, and the sands, and the sea," Dick repeated. He rose, going to the window where Leila had stood, and looking outward. When he faced us again he must have seen the worry in my eyes, for he smiled at me with the old, endearing fondness and touched my hair lightly as he passed.
"What was she like—the girl?" Standish asked, lighting another cigarette.
"Oh, just ordinary and rather pretty. Big brown eyes that seemed to be forever asking a question that no one could answer, and a little pointed chin that she flung up when she sang." Dick Allport looked quickly across at Burton, but Stan gave him no answering glance. He was staring at Leila as she went on: "I don't believe I should have noticed her at all if she hadn't come to me as I was leaving the hall. 'Are you Mrs. Standish Burton?' she asked me. When I told her that I was, she stared me full in the face, then walked off without another word. I wish that I could describe to you, though, the scorn and contempt that blazed in her eyes. If I had been a singer who had robbed her of her chance at Covent Garden, I could have understood. But I'd never seen her before, and my singing wouldn't rouse the envy of a crow!" She laughed light-heartedly over the recollection, then her face clouded. "Do you know," she mused, "that I thought just now, when the girl was singing on the street, that I should like to know that other girl? There was something about her that I can't forget. She was the sort that tries, and fails, and sinks. Some day, I'm afraid, she'll be singing on the streets, and, if I ever hear her, I shall have a terrible thought that I might have saved her from it, if only I had tried!"
"Better let her sort alone," Burton said, shortly. He struck a match and relit his cigarette with a gesture of savage annoyance. Leila looked at him in amazement, and Dick gave him a glance that seemed to counsel silence. There was a hostility about the mood into which Standish relapsed that seemed to bring in upon us some of the urgent sorrows of the city outside, as if he had drawn aside a curtain to show us a world alien to the place of beauty and of the making of beauty through which Leila moved. Even she must have felt the import of his mood, for she let her hands fall on the keys while Dick and I stared at each other before the shock of this crackle that seemed to threaten the perfection of their happiness.
From Brompton came the boom of the bell for evensong. Down Piccadilly ran the roar of the night traffic, wending a blithesome way to places of pleasure. It was the hour when London was wont to awaken to the thrill of its greatness, its power, its vastness, its strength, and its glory, and to send down luminous lanes its carnival crowd of men and women. It was the time when weltering misery shrank shrouded into merciful gloom; when the East End lay far from our hearts; when poverty and sin and shame went skulking into byways where we need never follow; when painted women held back in the shadows; when the pall of night rested like a velvet carpet over the spaces of that floor that, by daylight, gave glimpses into loathsome cellars of humanity. It was, as it had been so often of late, an hour of serene beauty, that first hour of darkness in a June night with the season coming to an end, an hour of dusk to be remembered in exile or in age.
There should have come to us then the strains of an orchestra floating in with the fragrance of gardenias from a vendor's basket, symbols of life's call to us, luring us out beneath stars of joy. But, instead, the bell of Brompton pealed out warningly over our souls, and, when its clanging died, there drifted in the sound of a preaching voice.
Only phrases clattering across the darkness were the words from beyond—resonant through the open windows: "The Cross is always ready, and everywhere awaiteth thee.... Turn thyself upward, or turn thyself downward; turn thyself inward, or turn thyself outward; everywhere thou shalt find the Cross;... if thou fling away one Cross thou wilt find another, and perhaps a heavier."
Like sibylline prophecy the voice of the unseen preacher struck down on us. We moved uneasily, the four of us, as he cried out challenge to the passing world before his voice went down before the surge of a hymn. Then, just as the gay whirl of cars and omnibuses beat once more upon the pavements, and London swung joyously into our hearts again, the bell of the telephone in the hall rang out with a quivering jangle that brought Leila to her feet even as Standish jumped to answer its summons.
She stood beside the piano as he gave answer to the call, watching him as if she expected evil news. Dick, who had moved back into the shadow from a lamp on the table, was staring with that same searching gaze he had bestowed on her when she had lingered beside the window. I was looking at him, when a queer cry from Standish whirled me around.
In the dim light of the hall he was standing with the instrument in his hands, clutching it with the stupidity of a man who has been struck by an unexpected and unexplainable missile. His face had gone to a grayish white, and his hands trembled as he set the receiver on the hook. His eyes were bulging from emotion and he kept wetting his lips as he stood in the doorway.
"What is it?" Leila cried. "What's happened, Stan? Can't you tell me? What is it?"
Not to her, but to Dick Allport, he made answer. "Bessie Lowe is dead!"
I saw Dick Allport's thunderstruck surprise before he arose. I saw his glance go from Standish to Leila with a questioning that overrode all other possible emotion in him. Then I saw him look at Burton as if he doubted his sanity. His voice, level as ever, rang sharply across the other man's distraction.
"When did she die?" he asked him.
"Just now." He ran his hand over his hair, gazing at Dick as if Leila and I were not there. "She—she killed herself down in the Hotel Meynard."
"Why?" Leila's voice, hard with terror, snapped off the word.
"She—she—I don't know." He stared at his wife as if he had just become conscious of her presence. The grayness in his face deepened, and his lips grew livid. Like a man condemned to death, he stared at the world he was losing.
"Who is Bessie Lowe?" Leila questioned. "And why have they called you to tell of her?" Her eyes blazed with a fire that seemed about to singe pretense from his soul.
His hand went to his throat, and I saw Leila whiten. Her hand, resting on the piano, trembled, but her face held immobile, although I knew that all the happiness of the rest of her life hung upon his answer. On what Standish Burton would tell her depended the years to come. In that moment I knew that she loved him even as I loved Dick, even as women have always loved and will always love the men whom fate had marked for their caring; and in a sudden flash of vision I knew, too, that Burton, no matter what Bessie Lowe or any other girl had ever been to him, worshiped his wife with an intensity of devotion that would make all his days one long reparation for whatever wrong he might have done her. I knew, though, that, if he had done the wrong, she would never again be able to give him the eager love he desired, and I, too, an unwilling spectator, waited on his words for his future, and Leila's; but his voice did not make answer. It was Dick Allport who spoke.
"Bessie Lowe is a girl I used to care for," he said. "She is the girl who sang at the Musicians' Club, the girl who spoke to you. She heard that I was going to be married. She wanted me to come back to her. I refused."
He was standing in the shadow, looking neither at Leila nor at me, but at Standish Burton. Burton turned to him.
"Yes," he muttered thickly, "they told me to tell you. They knew you'd be here."
"I see," said Leila. She looked at Standish and then at Dick Allport, and there came into her eyes a queer, glazed stare that filmed their brightness. "I am sorry that I asked questions, Mr. Allport, about something that was nothing to me. Will you forgive me?"
"There is nothing to be forgiven," he said. He turned to her and smiled a little. She tried to answer his smile, but a gasp came from her instead.
"Oh, I'm so sorry," she said, "so sorry for her!"
It was Standish's gaze that brought to me sudden realization that I, too, had a part in the drama. Until I found his steady stare on me I had felt apart from the play that he and Dick and Leila were going through, but with his urgent glare I awoke into knowledge that the message he had taken for Dick held for me the same significance that Leila had thought it bore for her. Like a stab from a knife came the thought that this girl—whoever she was—had, in her dying, done what she had not done in life, taken Dick Allport from me. There went over me numbing waves of a great sense of loss, bearing me out on an ocean of oblivion. Against these I fought desperately to hold myself somewhere near the shore of sensibility. As if I were beholding him from a great distance, I could see Dick standing in the lamplight in front of Leila Burton. Understanding of how dear he was to me, of how vitally part of me he had grown in the years through which I had loved him—sometimes lightly, sometimes stormily, but always faithfully—beaconed me inshore; and the plank of faith in him, faith that held in itself something of forgiving charity, floated out to succor my drowning soul. I moved across the room while Standish Burton kept his unwinking gaze upon me, and Leila never looked up from the piano. I had come beside Dick before he heard me.
He looked at me as if he had only just then remembered that I was there. Into his eyes flashed a look of poignant remorse. He shrank back from me a little as I touched his hand, and I turned to Leila, who had not stirred from the place where she had listened to Standish's cry when he took the fateful message. "We are going," I said, "to do what we can—for her."
She moved then to look at me, and I saw that her eyes held not the compassion I had feared, but a strange speculativeness, as if she questioned what I knew rather than what I felt. Their contemplating quiet somehow disturbed me more than had her husband's flashlight scrutiny, and with eyes suddenly blinded and throat drawn tight with terror I took my way beside Dick Allport out from the soft lights of the Burtons' house into the darkness of the night.
Outside we paused a moment, waiting for a cab. For the first time since he had told Leila of Bessie Lowe, Dick spoke to me. "I think," he said, "that it would be just as well if you didn't come."
"I must," I told him, "It isn't curiosity. You understand that, don't you? It is simply that this is the time for me to stand by you, if ever I shall do it, Dick."
"I don't deserve it." There was a break in his voice. "But I shall try to, my dear. I can't promise you much, but I can promise you that."
Down the brightness of Piccadilly into the fuller glow of Regent Street we rode without speech. Somewhere below the Circus we turned aside and went through dim canons of houses that opened a way past the Museum and let us into Bloomsbury. There in a wilderness of cheap hotels and lodging-houses we found the Meynard.
A gas lamp was flaring in the hall when the porter admitted us. At a desk set under the stairway a pale-faced clerk awaited us with staring insolence that shifted to annoyance when Dick asked him if we might go to Bessie Lowe's room. "No," he said, abruptly. "The officers won't let any one in there. They've taken her to the undertaker's."
He gave us the location of the place with a scorn that sent us out in haste. I, at least, felt a sense of relief that I did not have to go up to the place where this unknown girl had thrown away the greatest gift. As we walked through the poorly lighted streets toward the Tottenham Court Road I felt for the first time a surge of that emotion that Leila Burton had voiced, a pity for the dead girl. And yet, stealing a look at Dick as he walked onward quietly, sadly, but with a dignity that lifted him above the sordidness of the circumstances, I felt that I could not blame him as I should. It was London, I thought, and life that had tightened the rope on the girl.
Strangely I felt a lightness of relief in the realization that the catastrophe having come, was not really as terrible as it had seemed back there in Leila's room. It was an old story that many women had conned, and since, after all, Dick Allport was yet young, and my own, I condoned the sin for the sake of the sinner; and yet, even as I held the thought close to my aching heart, I felt that I was somehow letting slip from my shoulders the cross that had been laid upon them, the cross that I should have borne, the burden of shame and sorrow for the wrong that the man I loved had done to the girl who had died for love of him.
The place where she lay, a gruesome establishment set in behind that highway of reeking cheapness, the Tottenham Court Road, was very quiet when we entered. A black-garbed man came to meet us from a room in which we saw two tall candles burning. Dick spoke to him sharply, asking if any one had come to look after the dead girl.
"No one with authority," the man whined—"just a girl as lived with her off and on."
He stood, rubbing his hands together as Dick went into hurried details with him, and I went past them into the room where the candles burned. For an instant, as I stood at the door, I had the desire to run away from it all, but I pulled myself together and went over to the place where lay the girl they had called Bessie Lowe.
I had drawn back the sheet and was standing looking down at the white face when I heard a sob in the room. I replaced the covering and turned to see in the corner the shadowy form of a woman whose eyes blazed at me out of the dark. While I hesitated, wondering if this were the girl who had lived occasionally with Bessie Lowe, she came closer, staring at me with scornful hate. Miserably thin, wretchedly nervous as she was, she had donned for the nonce a mantle of dignity that she seemed to be trailing as she approached, glaring at me with furious resentment. "So you thought as how you'd come here," she demanded of me, her crimsoned face close to my own, "to see what she was like, to see what sort of a girl had him before you took him away from her? Well, I'll tell you something, and you can forget it or remember it, as you like. Bessie Lowe was a good girl until she ran into him, and she'd have stayed good, I tell you, if he'd let her alone. She was a fool, though, and she thought that he'd marry her some day—and all the time he was only waiting until you'd take him! You never think of our kind, do you, when you're living out your lives, wondering if you care enough to marry the men who're worshipping you while they're playing with us? Well, perhaps it won't be anything to you, but, all the same, there's some kind of a God, and if He's just He'll punish you when He punishes Standish Burton!"
"But I—" I gasped. "Did you think that I—?"
"Aren't you his wife?" She came near to me, peering at me in the flickering candle-light. "Aren't you Standish Burton's wife?"
"No," I said.
"Oh, well"—she shrugged—"you're her sort, and it'll come to the same thing in the end."
She slouched back to the corner, all anger gone from her. Outside I heard Dick's voice, low, decisive. Swiftly I followed the girl. "You must tell me," I pleaded with her, "if she did it because of Standish Burton."
"I thought everybody knew that," she said, "even his wife. What's it to you, if you're not that?"
"Nothing," I replied, but I knew, as I stood where she kept vigil with Bessie Lowe, that I lied. For I saw the truth in a lightning-flash; and I knew, as I had not known when Dick perjured himself in Leila's music-room, that I had come to the place of ultimate understanding, for I realized that not a dead girl, but a living woman, had come between us. Not Bessie Lowe, but Leila Burton, lifted the sword at the gateway of my paradise.
With the poignancy of a poisoned arrow reality came to me. Because Dick had loved Leila Burton he had laid his bond with me on the altar of his chivalry. For her sake he had sacrificed me to the hurt to which Standish would not sacrifice her. And the joke of it—the pity of it was that she hadn't believed them! But because she was Burton's wife, because it was too late for facing of the truth, she had pretended to believe Dick; and she had known, she must have known, that he had lied to her because he loved her.
The humiliation of that knowledge beat down on me, battering me with such blows as I had not felt in my belief that Dick had not been true to me in his affair with this poor girl. Her rivalry, living or dead, I could have endured and overcome—for no Bessie Lowe could ever have won from Dick, as she could never have given to him, that thing which was mine. But against Leila Burton I could not stand, for she was of my world, of my own people, and the crown a man would give to her was the one he must take from me.
There in that shabby place I buried my idols. Not I, but a power beyond me, held the stone on which was written commandment for me. By the light of the candles above Bessie Lowe I knew that I should not marry Dick Allport.
I found him waiting for me at the doorway. I think that he knew then that the light of our guiding lantern had flickered out, but he said nothing. We crossed the garishly bright road and went in silence through quiet streets. Like children afraid of the dark we went through the strange ways of the city, two lonely stragglers from the procession of love, who, with our own dreams ended, saw clearer the world's wild pursuit of the fleeing vision.
We had wandered back into our own land when, in front of the darkened Oratory and almost under the shadow of Leila Burton's home, there came to us through the soft darkness the ominous plea that heralds summer into town. Out of the shadows an old woman, bent and shriveled, leaned toward us. "Get yer lavender tonight," she pleaded. "'Tis the first of the crop, m'lidy."
"That means—" Dick Allport began as I paused to buy.
I fastened the sprigs at my belt, then looked up at the distant stars, since I could not yet bear to look at him. "It means the end of the season," I said, "when the lavender comes to London."
THE YEARBOOK OF THE AMERICAN SHORT STORY FOR 1917
ADDRESSES OF AMERICAN MAGAZINES PUBLISHING SHORT STORIES
NOTE. This address list does not aim to be complete, but is based simply on the magazines which I have considered for this volume.
Ainslee's Magazine, 79 Seventh Avenue, New York City. All-Story Weekly, 8 West 40th Street, New York City. American Magazine, 381 Fourth Avenue, New York City. Art World, 2 West 45th Street, New York City. Atlantic Monthly, 3 Park Street, Boston, Mass. Bellman, 118 South 6th Street, Minneapolis, Minn. Black Cat, Salem, Mass. Bookman, 443 Fourth Avenue, New York City. Boston Evening Transcript, 324 Washington Street, Boston, Mass. Century Magazine, 353 Fourth Avenue, New York City. Collier's Weekly, 416 West 13th Street, New York City. Cosmopolitan Magazine, 119 West 40th Street, New York City. Delineator, Spring and Macdougal Streets, New York City. Detective Story Magazine, 79 Seventh Avenue, New York City. Everybody's Magazine, Spring and Macdougal Streets, New York City. Every Week, 381 Fourth Avenue, New York City. Forum, 286 Fifth Avenue, New York City. Good Housekeeping, 119 West 40th Street, New York City. Harper's Bazar, 119 West 40th Street, New York City. Harper's Magazine, Franklin Square, New York City. Hearst's Magazine, 119 West 40th Street, New York City. Illustrated Sunday Magazine, 193 Main Street, Buffalo, N. Y. Ladies' Home Journal, Independence Square, Philadelphia, Pa. Live Stories, 35 West 39th Street, New York City. McCall's Magazine, 236 West 37th Street, New York City. McClure's Magazine, 251 Fourth Avenue, New York City. Metropolitan Magazine, 432 Fourth Avenue, New York City. Midland, Moorhead, Minn. Milestones, Akron, Ohio. Munsey's Magazine, 8 West 40th Street, New York City. Outlook, 381 Fourth Avenue, New York City. Pagan, 174 Centre Street, New York City. Parisienne, Printing Crafts Building, 461 Eighth Avenue, New York City. Pearson's Magazine, 34 Union Square, New York City. Pictorial Review, 216 West 39th Street, New York City. Queen's Work, 3200 Russell Avenue, St. Louis, Mo. Reedy's Mirror, Syndicate Trust Building, St. Louis, Mo. Saturday Evening Post, Independence Square, Philadelphia, Pa. Scribner's Magazine, 597 Fifth Avenue, New York City. Short Stories, Garden City, Long Island, N. Y. Smart Set, Printing Crafts Building, New York City. Snappy Stories, 35 West 39th Street, New York City. Southern Woman's Magazine, American Building, Nashville, Tenn. Stratford Journal, 32 Oliver Street, Boston, Mass. Sunset Magazine, 460 Fourth Street, San Francisco, Cal. To-day's Housewife, 461 Fourth Avenue, New York City. Top-Notch Magazine, 79 Seventh Avenue, New York City. Touchstone, 118 East 30th Street, New York City. Woman's Home Companion, 381 Fourth Avenue, New York City. Woman's World, 107 So. Clinton Street, Chicago, Ill. Youth's Companion, St. Paul Street, Boston, Mass.
THE BIOGRAPHICAL ROLL OF HONOR OF AMERICAN SHORT STORIES FOR 1917
NOTE. Only stories by American authors are listed. The best sixty-three stories are indicated by an asterisk before the title of the story. The index figures 1, 2, and 3 prefixed to the name of the author indicate that his work has been included in the Rolls of Honor for 1914, 1915, and 1916 respectively.
"AMID, JOHN." (M. M. STEARNS.) Born at West Hartford, Conn., 1884. Lived in New England at Hartford, South Dartmouth, Mass., and Randolph, N. H., until 1903, with the exception of two years abroad. Threatened with blindness when fifteen years old, and gave up school work, but later resumed studies, graduating from Stanford University, 1906. Has been active in newspaper work in Los Angeles. Has since developed water, broken horses, and set out lemon trees. Married. Three children. Good mechanic. Musical. Fond of boating and chess. Authority on turkey raising. At present associate scenario editor of the American Film Company, Santa Barbara, Cal.
(3) ANDERSON, SHERWOOD. Born in Camden, Ohio. Primary school education. Newsboy until he became strong enough to work; then a day laborer. With American army in Cuban campaign. Studied for a few months at college, Springfield, Ohio. Now an advertising writer. Author of "Windy McPherson's Son" and "Marching Men." Has three novels, three books of short stories, and book of songs unpublished. First short story published, "The Rabbit-pen," Harper's Magazine, July, 1914. Lives in Chicago.
"Mother." Thinker, The. Untold Lie, The.
(3) ANDREWS, MARY RAYMOND SHIPMAN. Born at Mobile, Ala. While still a baby, moved with her parents to Lexington, Ky., where she lived until about 1880. Married W. S. Andrews, 1884, now Justice Supreme Court of New York. Chief interests: horseback riding, shooting, and fishing. Author of "The Marshal," "The Enchanted Forest," "The Three Things," "The Good Samaritan," "The Perfect Tribute," "Bob and the Guides," "The Militants," "The Eternal Feminine," "The Eternal Masculine," "The Courage of the Commonplace," "The Lifted Bandage," "Counsel Assigned," "Better Treasure," and "Old Glory." First short story, "Crowned with Glory and Honor," Scribner's Magazine, February, 1902. Resides in Syracuse, N. Y.
Blood Brothers. Return of K. of K., The.
(3) BABCOCK, EDWINA STANTON. Born at Nyack, N. Y. One of eleven children. Academic experience up to age of twenty-three, one year in private school. Attended extension classes in English, Teachers' College, Columbia University. Author "Greek Wayfarers," a volume of verse. First short story, "The Diary of a Cat," Harper's Magazine, August, 1904. Her deepest enthusiasms are children, the mountains of Greece, the French Theatre, and the Irish imagination. She lives at Nyack, N. Y., and Nantucket, Mass.
BARNARD, FLOY TOLBERT. Born in Hunter, Ohio, 1879. High school education in Perry, Iowa. Married Dr. Leslie O. Barnard, 1902. Went West, 1905. Descendant of Rouget de Lisle, author of the "Marseillaise," through her mother. Her great-grandfather dropped the "de" to please a Quaker girl, who would not otherwise marry him, so opposed was she to the French, and to a name so associated with war. Her first story, "—Nor the Smell of Fire," appeared in Young's Magazine February, 1915. Lives in Seattle, Wash.
Surprise in Perspective, A.
BEER, THOMAS. Born in 1889, Council Bluffs, Iowa. Educated at MacKenzie School, Dobbs Ferry, N. Y., Yale College (1911), Columbia Law School. Now in National army. First story, "The Brothers," Century, February, 1917. Chief interest: the theatre. Lives at Yonkers, N. Y.
*Brothers, The. *Onnie.
(3) BOTTOME, PHYLLIS. Born of American parents. Now resident in England. Author of "The Derelict," "The Second Fiddle," and "The Dark Tower."
"BRECK, JOHN." (ELIZABETH C. A. SMITH.) Lives in Grosse Isle, Mich.
(3) BROOKS, ALDEN. Author of "The Fighting Men." Lives in Paris. Now in the American army in France.
Three Slavs, The.
(23) BROWN, ALICE. Born at Hampton Falls, N. H., 1857. Graduated from Robinson Seminary, Exeter, N. H., 1876. Author "Fools of Nature," "Meadow-Grass," "The Road to Castaly," "The Day of His Youth," "Tiverton Tales," "King's End," "Margaret Warrener," "The Mannerings," "High Noon," "Paradise," "The County Road," "The Court of Love," "Rose MacLeod," "The Story of Thyrza," "Country Neighbors," "John Winterbourne's Family," "The One-Footed Fairy," "The Secret of the Clan," "Vanishing Points," "Robin Hood's Barn," "My Love and I," "Children of Earth," "The Prisoner," "Bromley Neighbourhood," and other books. Lives in Boston.
*Flying Teuton, The. Nemesis.
(1) BURT, MAXWELL STRUTHERS. Born in Philadelphia, 1882. Educated at Princeton, 1904, and at Merton College, Oxford. Author of "In the High Hills." Instructor of English at Princeton for two years. Then went West, settling in Jackson Hole, Wyo., where he is senior partner of a cattle ranch. He is now in the Signal Corps, Aviation Section, U. S. Army. First story, "The Water-Hole," Scribner's Magazine, July, 1915 (reprinted in "The Best Short Stories of 1915").
*Closed Doors. *Cup of Tea, A. Glory of the Wild Green Earth, The. John O'May. Le Panache.
(13) BUZZELL, FRANCIS. Born in Romeo, Mich., 1882. His father was editor of the Romeo Hydrant, which Mr. Buzzell mentions in his Almont stories as the "Almont Hydrant." Moved when he was seven years old to Port Huron, Mich. Backward student. Educated in private school, and one year in Port Huron High School and Business College. Worked in railroad yards, and at age of nineteen as reporter on Port Huron Herald. At twenty-one became Chicago newspaper reporter, and later, associate editor, Popular Mechanics. In 1912 began literary career by publishing two poems in Poetry. Went to New York determined to become a great poet, and stayed there nine months. Married Miriam Kiper and returned to Chicago. Now a chief petty officer, U. S. N., and associate editor of Great Lakes Recruit. Lives in Lake Bluff, Ill.
*Lonely Places. *Long Vacation, The.
(3) CAMPBELL, FLETA. (See Roll of Honor for 1916 under SPRINGER, FLETA CAMPBELL.) Born in Newton, Kan., 1886, moved to Oklahoma, 1889. Educated in common schools of the frontier, no high school, and a year and a half preparatory school, University of Oklahoma. Lived in Texas and California. First story, "Solitude," Harper's Magazine, March, 1912. Lives in New York City.
CHAMBERLAIN, GEORGE AGNEW. Born of American parents, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 1879. Educated Lawrenceville School, N. J., and Princeton. Unmarried. In consular service since 1904. Now American Consul at Lourenco Marquez, Portuguese East Africa.
Man Who Went Back, The.
CLEGHORN, SARAH NORCLIFFE. Born at Norfolk, Va., 1876. Educated at Burr and Burton Seminary, Manchester, Vt., an old country co-educational school; and one year at Radcliffe. Writer and tutor by profession. Chief interests are anti-vivisection, socialism, and above all, pacifism of the "extreme" kind. She likes best of everything in the world to go on a picnic with plenty of children. First short story, "The Mellen Idolatry," Delineator, about 1900. Author of "A Turnpike Lady," "The Spinster," "Fellow Captains" (with Dorothy Canfield), and "Portraits and Protests." Lives in Manchester, Vt.
"Mr. Charles Raleigh Rawdon, Ma'am."
(23) COBB, IRVIN SHREWSBURY. Born at Paducah, Ky., 1876. Education limited to attendance of public and private schools up to age of sixteen. Reporter and cartoonist for several years; magazine contributor since 1910. Chief interests, outdoor life and travel. First short story, "The Escape of Mr. Trimm," Saturday Evening Post, November, 1910. Author of "Back Home," "Cobb's Anatomy," "The Escape of Mr. Trimm," "Cobb's Bill of Fare," "Roughing It de Luxe," "Europe Revised," "Paths of Glory," "Speaking of Operations," "Local Color," "Fibble, D. D.," "Old Judge Priest," "Speaking of Prussians," "Those Times and These," and "'Twixt the Bluff and the Sound." Lives within commuting distance of New York City.
*Boys Will Be Boys. Cinnamon Seed and Sandy Bottom. *Family Tree, The. *Quality Folks.
(3) CONNOLLY, JAMES BRENDAN. Born at South Boston, Mass. Education, parochial and public schools of Boston and a few months in Harvard. Married Elizabeth F. Hurley, 1904. Clerk, inspector, and surveyor with U. S. Engineering Corps, Savannah, 1892-95. Won first Olympic championship of modern times at Athens, 1896. Served in Cuban campaign and in U. S. Navy, 1907-08. Progressive candidate for Congress, 1912. Member National Institute of Arts and Letters. Author "Jeb Hutton," "Out of Gloucester," "The Seiners," "The Deep Sea's Toll," "The Crested Seas," "An Olympic Victor," "Open Water," "Wide Courses," "Sonnie Boy's People," "The Trawler," "Head Winds," and "Running Free." Lives in Boston.
Breath o' Dawn.
(2) COWDERY, ALICE. Born in San Francisco. Graduate of Leland Stanford University. First short story, "Gallant Age," Harper's Magazine, September, 1914. Lives in California.
CRABBE, BERTHA HELEN. Born in 1887 in Coxsackie, N. Y. Her father moved his family to Rockaway Beach, L. I., in 1888, when it was little more than an isolated fishing-station. It was her good fortune to live among the novel conditions attending the rapid growth of this pioneer village, and to be surrounded by those interesting and widely varying types of people who are drawn to a city-in-the-making. Educated in public schools of the Rockaways, and at a boarding school in Tarrytown, N. Y. Student of painting. First story published in 1913 in a magazine of the Munsey group. Lives in Far Rockaway.
Once in a Lifetime.
DOBIE, CHARLES CALDWELL. Born in San Francisco, 1881. Education; grammar school and seventeen years' supplementary schooling in University of Hard Knocks. In fire insurance business for nearly twenty years. First story, "An Invasion," San Francisco Argonaut, Oct. 8, 1910. Gave up business, 1916, to devote himself to literature. Lives in San Francisco.
Empty Pistol, The. Gifts, The. *Laughter. *Our Dog.
(23) DUNCAN, NORMAN. Born at Brantford, Ont., 1871. Educated University of Toronto. On staff New York Evening Post, 1897-01; professor rhetoric, Washington and Jefferson College, 1902-06; adjunct professor English literature, University Of Kansas, 1908-10. Travelled widely in Newfoundland, Labrador, Asia, and Australasia. Died 1916. Author: "The Soul of the Street," "The Way of the Sea," "Dr. Luke of the Labrador," "Dr. Grenfell's Parish," "The Mother," "The Adventures of Billy Topsail," "The Cruise of the Shining Light," "Every Man for Himself," "Going Down from Jerusalem," "The Suitable Child," "Higgins," "Billy Topsail & Company," "The Measure of a Man," "The Best of a Bad Job," "A God in Israel," "The Bird-Store Man," "Australian Byways," and "Billy Topsail, M.D."
*Little Nipper of Hide-an'-Seek Harbor, A.
(13) DWIGHT, H. G. Born in Constantinople, 1875. Educated at St. Johnsbury Academy, St. Johnsbury, Vt., and Amherst College. Chief interests: gardening and sailing. He remembers neither the title nor the date of his first published story. This because he was his own first editor and publisher. "First real story," "The Bathers," Scribner's Magazine, December, 1903. Author of "Constantinople," "Stamboul Nights," and "Persian Miniatures." Lives in Roselle, N. J. Is now an army field clerk in France.
*Emperor of Elam, The.
FERBER, EDNA. Born in Kalamazoo, Mich., 1887. Educated in public and high schools, Appleton, Wis. Began as reporter on Appleton Daily Crescent at seventeen. Employed on Milwaukee Journal and Chicago Tribune; contributor to magazines since 1910. First short story, "The Homely Heroine," Everybody's Magazine, November, 1910. Jewish religion. Author of "Dawn O'Hara," "Buttered Side Down," "Roast Beef Medium," "Personality Plus," "Emma McChesney & Co.," and "Fanny Herself." Co-author with George V. Hobart of "Our Mrs. McChesney." Lives in New York City.
*Gay Old Dog, The.
FOLSOM, ELIZABETH IRONS. Born at Peoria, Ill., 1876. Grandfather and father were both writers. For a number of years member of editorial staff of The Pantagraph at Bloomington, Ill., doing the court work there and reading law at the same time. Left newspaper in 1916 to devote herself to fiction. First short story, "The Scheming of Letitia," Munsey's Magazine, April, 1914. Lives in New York City.
FRANK, WALDO. Born in 1800, Long Branch, N. J. Educated in New York public schools and at Yale. (B.A., M.A., and Honorary Fellowship.) While still at college, wrote regular signed column of dramatic criticism in New Haven Journal-Courier. Two years' newspaper work in New York. Went to Europe, devoting himself to study of French and German theater. One of the founders and associate editor of the Seven Arts Magazine. Chief interests: fiction, drama, criticism of American literary standards, and strengthening of relations between America and contemporary European (non-English) cultures. First story, "The Fruit of Misadventure," Smart Set, July, 1915. Author of "The Unwelcome Man." Lives in New York City.
*Bread-Crumbs. Candles of Romance, The. Rudd.
(123) FREEMAN, MARY E. WILKINS. Born at Randolph, Mass., 1862. Educated at Randolph and Mt. Holyoke. Married Dr. Charles M. Freeman, 1902. Author of "A Humble Romance," "A New England Nun," "Young Lucretia," "Jane Field," "Giles Corey," "Pembroke," "Madelon," "Jerome," "Silence," "Evelina's Garden," "The Love of Parson Lord," "The Heart's Highway," "The Portion of Labor," "Understudies," "Six Trees," "The Wind In the Rose Bush," "The Givers," "Doc Gordon," "By the Light of the Soul," "Shoulders of Atlas," "The Winning Lady," "Green Door," "Butterfly House," "The Yates Pride," "Copy-Cat," and other books. Lives in Metuchen, N. J.