For a minute or so there was silence. I felt that he was at a loss for topics upon which to converse on common ground. Finally he said:
"You are the first visitor I have had here since poor Wallis sat in that chair a dozen years ago."
"You mean Mr. Wallis the lawyer?" I asked.
"He was my good friend in many dark days," he answered gently. I felt that he was slipping away from me into the past.
"You must have it lonely here," I remarked.
"Not lonely," was the response. "I live with my memories."
The shadow on his face grew deeper.
"Why not practice your profession," I hazarded, "and forget some part of your past sorrows in a busy life?"
He leaned forward, looking intently at me and yet beyond. "Ah! lad," he said, as he laid a thin hand upon my wrist, "if you but knew, if you but knew! I tried hard, and then I found I couldn't, and then I gave up trying. There are griefs so great that one cannot lose them until the last sleep. I am not lonely, for I have Her always with me here."
It was best for me to remain silent. He was almost unaware of my presence. I felt he would go on if I did not divert his train of thought.
"Night after night She sits here with me," he pursued; "day after day She is by my side. In spirit the loving companionship I sought is ever mine, and yet, great God, how different!" His face he buried in his hands. In my eyes the tears could not be kept back.
Presently he rose from his seat and moved to the wall next to the parlor. To my surprise, the pressure of his finger against a spot in the wooden door pillar opened up a secret cupboard in the partition. The Doctor reached in and lifted out an arm chair of the same pattern as that upon which I was seated. It was heavy and I jumped to aid him, but he negatived me with a short, sharp twist of his head. As he came into the full light I saw that the chair contained a woman's cloak, one of shimmery gray satin, but now sadly faded and time-stained. Reverently he lifted the cloak and laid it across the back of the chair.
"That's as it was the night she sat there and passed away," said the Doctor.
For several minutes there was no word between us. The Doctor, his mouth twitching, his thoughts far from me, stared intently at the old cloak.
"How I loved her, how I loved her!" he finally murmured. Again he was becoming aware of my presence. "You can't understand, sir, the depth of my devotion. It stood the test of years—it stood even her marriage to another."
"She was the prettiest and merriest child you ever saw," he finally went on. "Had she been an Indian maid they would have called her 'Dancing Sunshine.' But being just a Baltimore girl, with her parents more fond of reading Scott than of any other literature save the Bible, she was named Geraldine. You remember that line in the 'Lay of the Last Minstrel':
The fair and lovely form, the Lady Geraldine.
"That's where she got her romantic and historic name. To us boys—my brother Tom and myself—she was always Dina. She was our cousin. Her father had died when she was but a babe. So had my mother, and Aunt Patty thenceforth was the housewife with us. Father was one of those merchants and ship owners who have long passed away in Baltimore. No firm was better known around the Basin than that of Dunton & Jameson, and no clipper ships were faster than those with the Dunton signal.
"Dina was Tom's age, some years younger than I, but both of us made her our playmate. We didn't have the hundred and one diversions and sports that young people seem to have nowadays—no suburban clubs, no motoring, little driving. We roamed through Howard's woods around and beyond the Washington Monument, and we strolled the banks of the 'canal' that used to parallel Jones' Falls down there above Centre street. And in all our rambles and excursions Dina was our joyous, care-free companion. I can see her now, as she was at 14, a simply dressed school girl, with her olive complexion, her clear, trustful gray eyes, her trim, petite, lissom figure and her rosebud mouth, ready ever to kiss either of us in fond sisterly affection.
"She was 16 when I was sent to Edinburgh on one of father's ships, to become a doctor. For once her laughter deserted her, and the last picture I had of her as our boat headed down the Patapsco on a bright, blue morning was of a tearful miss on Bowly's wharf, waving a bedewed handkerchief and watching through misty eyes the going of Cousin Jim across the water. There had been a tender farewell between us, and though no word of love was spoken, I tell you, lad, I knew I was leaving my heart behind.
"My three years in Scotland were ones of hard work, and the chief joy I knew came with Dina's letters. The mails were slow in those days, and they came too uncertainly for me, you may be sure. But each brought me, in addition to a budget of news, just a bit of Dina's lovely personality. I saw her, in her letters, growing into sweet womanhood, and, as I sometimes stretched myself in meditation on Arthur's Seat, far above old Edinburgh, my thoughts were not of the city, nor of my own lifework, but of the little girl at home.
"I was just completing my course, when there came my first terrible blow. A letter came from Dina, the first in two months, and it brought me word, lad, that she was married! Married! Just think of it! And to Tom. He had been with Watson and Ringgold in the Mexican War, and clippings they sent me had recounted the bravery of young Captain Dunton. I confess to you, sir, that for days I had murder in my heart, and against my own brother. I went off on a walking trip in the Trossachs, and a savage time I had of it with myself; I had schemes of petty revenge; I abused Dina; I vowed she could not love Tom; that she must have been swept off her feet by the brass buttons and the war glamour about him.
"By the time I came back to Baltimore I had regained self-control, and when I met Tom and his wife it was with the determination to do everything for Dina's happiness, even though she were another's. I was not wrong in my prophecy that she would develop into sweet womanhood, only I underestimated it. In all our circle of acquaintances in Baltimore there was no more beautiful young matron than Mrs. Dunton; no more sprightly and piquant bride; no hostess more gracious, as she presided over the dinners and 'small and early' affairs that were given at our home here.
"But, alas! it was not long before sorrows came to her. Tom began to drink heavily. He got in with a gay set at Barnum's Hotel, his hours grew irregular, his absences from home more numerous and more prolonged. Father and I remonstrated ineffectually, at first pleadingly and then in anger. We did our best to keep Dina ignorant of some of the worst stories out concerning Tom's dissipation, but she knew. And though she loyally never criticised him in talking to us, we saw the joy fade out of her heart and lips, and the glint of ineffaceable sadness come into those pure gray eyes. God only knows what she suffered in the nine years before death, invited by alcohol, came and took Tom.
"It may sound brutal, but I was glad when besotted Tom was gone. It ended Dina's terrible worry, it relieved father and myself of unexplainable trouble, expense and annoyance, it laid to rest a family skeleton of whose existence all Baltimore seemed to know. And deep down in my heart, I confess it, there was a thrill that the woman I loved above all was free.
"Of course, being a true woman, and a tender-hearted one, Dina grieved long over Tom's death. She had loved him sincerely despite his grievous faults, and ours was a melancholy household for another year. In those days our women wore deep black mourning and veils, and sombre, indeed, was Dina as she went out to church, to Tom's grave, or to half a dozen poor households she had taken under her wing. But most of the time she was at home ministering to father, whose declining health was a cause of alarm to both of us.
"Presently I began to urge her to go about with me. At first she said no, then with her characteristic considerateness she seemed unwilling to hurt me by refusing further. I took her to the homes of our friends for an evening of music or whist, or to an occasional public concert. The color began to come back into the cheeks whence it had been so long absent, and that glint of grief in the gray eyes grew dimmer. I spoke no word of love, but unobtrusively carried on a campaign to let her see how badly I yearned for her. The new books, the best sweets, the prettiest flowers, such delicate compliments as sincerity could dictate—all these I gave her and watched patiently to see the dawning of love on her part. I had always had her fond affection, but I wanted more and strove in every way to gain it.
"Two years passed and there came a night memorable in Baltimore when 18-year-old Adelina Patti—a singer in the first flush of youth and beauty, fresh from triumphs in New York—was brought to Holliday-Street Theatre to sing 'La Somnambula.' Strakosch had stirred up a furore about Patti and Brignoli in Gotham, and Baltimore was curious to hear them. I took Dina, and proud was I of her beauty and her sweet garb as we sat in the midst of a hundred acquaintances in an audience the newspapers called 'brilliant'. She had abandoned black and wore a satin gown of a soft color, shimmery and splendidly adorned with lace. Her matured beauty seemed to me more glorious than the promise of childhood, which had first captured me. She was entranced with the music, but I had no ears for the diva, and was there only to enjoy the divinity by my side. I had a feeling that the end of my probation was near. I believed she would say 'yes' should I ask her, and I determined to do so that night.
"After we had gotten away from our friends she talked animatedly of the opera in the carriage, and I listened contentedly all the while I kept saying 'Tonight, Jim, tonight!' As we came into the house she led the way into this office, and with a smile dropped into that chair you see. She allowed me to unfasten her opera cloak and draw it across the back of the chair, but she playfully bade me sit down, when I let my arm steal caressingly about her neck. Ah! man, if you could but know how I loved her that minute!"——
The Doctor's voice broke. There were tears in his eyes. As for me, I was profoundly moved, and my own eyelashes were wet.
"I passed into the dining-room to get her some sherry and cake. I was gone but a moment, but in that instant she was lost to me forever."
The veins in the old man's forehead stood out like whipcords. He resumed fiercely after a pause:
"She was dead, sir. She was dead. She sat in the same position in that chair as when I had left her, but her hand clutched her side and the smile she had given me was replaced by a sharp contraction, as if from pain. Swiftly her heart action had been gripped by an unseen force and stopped forever. I grew frantic when I found I could not revive her; I shrieked aloud in the agony of my heart, and father and the servants rushed here in alarm. They tell me I was mad for days; that I raved and called incessantly. I do not remember. I knew nothing for a long time, and then I cursed myself for living on when memory returned. Twice I had lost her—once by marriage and once by death—and the joy of living was never to be mine again. I have survived, sir, these many years. I buried Father after Dina, and I am alone here. But, God, man! I died long ago. My soul is with her I adored."
He arose and I followed. I felt that he meant to end our talk. He wiped away the tears from his cheek with a silk handkerchief, and then, placing his gaunt hand on my right shoulder, he moved his face close to mine and spoke earnestly:
"I never dare visit her grave in Greenmount. I am afraid of myself. But if you can, to please an old man whose wretched life you have saved tonight, will you go there some time and see that her resting place has been tended reverently? I have paid them for it."
I promised him I would, and then I passed out into the starlit night with a thousand impressions of the terrible tragedy of this man's life crowding my excited brain. I could not sleep, and I lay in bed for hours reconstructing the tale and fancying many details he had not supplied. The next morning I went to the Dunton lot in Greenmount and found it well cared for. Over his loved Dina's grave was a handsome stone of Carrara marble, with this inscription: GERALDINE, Beloved wife of Thomas Bowly Dunton. Passed away suddenly, 1860. Aged 30 years. "God is love."
On one side was the grave of the ill-fated Tom. On the other the green turf waited to be disturbed to make room for the last of the Duntons, and there, on a raw day in the following March, I saw the body of the old Doctor laid beside her whom he had loved so long and with such overwhelming sorrow.
An Island On A Jamboree
For three days the shipping of Baltimore, large and small, had been held in leash by a great storm upon the bay. One of those West India autumn hurricanes coming suddenly had whipped the Chesapeake into such a fury with its fierce southeast blow that steamboats and small sailing craft alike heeded the Weather Bureau warning and remained in Baltimore.
On the third night the gale had spent its fury, and, with a rising barometer and a favorable Government forecast, Captain Cromwell, eager to get home, ventured out with his bugeye as soon as the dawn came. The Patapsco was full of white caps, but the wind had softened and the skies were clear, and the Tuckahoe met with no misadventure as it passed down. A hundred other vessels were making ready to follow, but he had the start of them and the river to himself. In a few hours he would be with his family at Rock Hall.
But as he rounded Seven-Foot Knoll and headed across the bay he suddenly grew excited, and shouted the name of his favorite patron, the great Jehoshaphat.
Then he yelled to his crew:
"What in the devil is that ahead, you lazy loafer?"
The crew rose up en masse—being only one—from its lolling position beside the mainmast, and looked out over the disturbed waters. And then it was the crew's turn to become excited.
"Golly, Cap. Jim, I ain't never done seen nuthin' like that afore. What the debbil am it?"
The commander of the Tuckahoe responded:
"I'll be jiggered if I know."
The crew instinctively moved back to a position close to the master, and both, with mixed feelings of alarm and curiosity, concentrated their gaze upon the strange sight that had aroused them.
"I've been running to Baltimore these ten years, John Washington," said the Captain to the crew, "and I've seen queer things on the bay and the river. I'll never forget how them blamed naval fellers from Annapolis frightened me by coming up out of the water with one of them durned submarines. But I'll be blowed if ever I have seen anything to beat this. There warn't no island out there when we run past the Knoll going up."
"'Deed there warn't, Cap. Jim. Golly, I'se scared, I is. Ain't you 'fraid it's one of Satan's traps, Cap. Jim? The debbil am mighty cunnin', you knows dat."
"Devil or not, John, I'm going to see what it really is."
And the captain of the Tuckahoe gave the command "Hard lee!" so as to head the bay craft more directly toward the centre of the mysterious island that they had discovered. It was now about a half mile distant and, as seen in the morning light, low-lying and ten acres or so in extent. Its most peculiar feature to the pair on the bugeye was a grove of tall trees, naked to a height of 60 or 80 feet, and then crowned by enormous spreading leaves, or branches.
"Them's powerful funny trees, Cap. Jim," said the colored deckhand, doubtfully.
"Never seen anything like 'em in this bay before," replied Captain Cromwell. "I ain't never been in the tropics, John, but they look mighty like pictures of cocoanut palms."
"Tropics, Cap. Jim?"
"Yes; the West Indies."
"In de name of de Lawd, Cap. Jim, how dem trees done get here from de West Indies? Dat a long way off, ain't it?"
Captain Cromwell made no reply. He was too intently studying the island. All of a sudden he was startled by his crew sinking on its knees on the deck with an exclamation. He turned and saw the negro's skin blanched with terror.
"Fo' de Lawd Gawd, Cap. Jim, dat thing am movin'."
"Skidoo, John, skidoo," said the Captain, skeptically.
"'Deed an' double-deed, it is, Cap. Jim. You jes' look behind it ober dar at Kent Island."
The Captain peered as directed, while the negro eyed him doubtfully.
"Great Jehoshaphat!" the white man cried. "You're right, John, you're right. That there island is a-movin' up the bay."
"Ain't yer skeered, Cap. Jim?" asked the crew, with a shudder. "'Pears to me it's mighty like de debbil."
Captain Cromwell was doubtful himself. He laid his hand on the tiller and was about to change his course when he made a fresh discovery.
"There's a man on that island, as I'm a-livin'," he exclaimed.
"Whar is he, Cap. Jim?" cried the negro.
"Right by that grove of trees, John. He's waving his arms at us. He's standing by some kind of a hut and there's a tall pole with the stars and stripes turned upside down."
"Maybe dey's pirates, Cap. Jim." Visions of the dreaded skull and cross-bones and of a horrible death at the yardarm, whatever that was, made John Washington's teeth and knees knock together violently.
"Pirates, the deuce! They're Americans that want help."
"And is you gwine close, Cap. Jim? Lawdy."
The crew started forward and the Captain held the bugeye to its course to the strange island. The man by the grove of palms waved his arms and ran toward the shore nearest to them. He shouted several times, but Captain Cromwell could not hear him. Finally, the man picked up a huge leaf, and, twisting it into a cornucopia shape, made a megaphone of it. With this aid his voice came floating over the bay.
"Keep off!" he called. "There is a sunken reef on this side. Head for the cove." He pointed to the north end of the floating mass, and Captain Cromwell put about. The island, now that he was close, appeared to be making good headway—at least four or five miles an hour. There was a swish and a swirl of water on the sides that showed it would have been folly to have run in shore there. But after he had rounded a hummock of glistening sand he saw the cove, and in a few minutes more had entered it and discovered a roughly constructed wharf. John Washington reluctantly obeyed a sharp order to take in sail, and, with the aid of the stranger ashore, the Tuckahoe was presently moored.
Captain Cromwell's first impulse was to laugh at a near view of the man on the island. "Powerful funny lookin'," was John Washington's comment. His hair and whiskers were of the red hue that could never by courtesy be called auburn. Both whiskers and hair were long and ragged and would have provoked despair in any aseptic barber shop in Baltimore. For coat the islander had on a baggy affair, roughly fashioned out of jute, and his trousers were of sailcloth, cut in a style that would not have met the approval of a Maryland Club member. He was thick-set, with a slight stoop. His wrists were tattooed, his hands horny. His eyes were a placid blue pair. Above the left one was a scar.
"Where in blazes am I?" he yelled to Captain Cromwell as the Tuckahoe was nearing the wharf. "Blazes" is a mild translation of the expletive actually employed.
"Chesapeake bay, mate."
"Chesapeake bay! Jiminy crickets! Blown all the way from the Bahamas! Well, I'm danged!"
"How did it happen?" asked the master of the Tuckahoe. The newest Robinson Crusoe didn't hear him.
"How in blazes did I pass in the Capes and not know it?" Again "blazes" is putting it mildly. "Durned thick, nasty weather yesterday. Couldn't see a half mile. Must a passed in then. How far up am I?"
"Mouth of the Patapsco."
"By jinks, so it is. I might a knowed it. There's the Knoll. And there's North P'int. Many's the time I sighted them when I used to run here in a five-master from Bath."
"How did you come—this time?" again asked Captain Cromwell.
Again his curiosity had to wait. "Got a quid of 'baccy, mate?" asked the red-bearded man as he stood on the wharf beside the bugeye. "Ain't had a chaw in four years." He seized eagerly the plug that was handed to him, broke off a generous "chaw" and thrust it into his mouth. Then, and not until then, did he make reply.
"How did I come? Caught in a sou'easter, that's all. Nastiest storm you ever want to see. Hit us suddenly five nights ago. Them palms was bent double with the wind. Lord only knows why my mansion yonder didn't go. After while sort a felt we were driftin'. When mornin' broke there was my kingdom afloat in the ocean cut in two, me alone on this bit and the biggest half gone off with my subjects on it."
"Yes, my people."
The Captain looked at John and John edged off from the stranger and made a sign suggestive of deficient mentality.
"Your people?" asked Captain Cromwell.
"Yes, man. Why, I am the King of Tortilla Key."
John renewed the aforesaid sign and edged still farther away. Captain Cromwell laughed. The stranger chimed in.
"Does sound funny, don't it. Fact is I made myself King. I've got a crown up at the palace there. Rusty tin saucepan afore I knocked the bottom out."
The Captain laughed again.
"You're an odd fish," he remarked. "What was your name before you were King?"
"Me? Oh! I'm a 'down Easter.' Peleg Timrod of Squan, Mass., U. S. A. Of course, I knowed Peleg was no royal name, so I just dubbed myself Victor Fust when I annexed this here island."
"It ain't much of a kingdom."
"About four times as large as you see afore the rest broke away. Anyway, I thought it a mighty big place when I got tossed up here goin' on four year ago. I'd been afloat on the roof of a deckhouse for three days arter the fruiter Bainbridge were cast away, and I tell you, mate, I was powerful glad to hit any old kind of terra firma then. The bunch of natives who fed me and sheltered me was a kind lot. They didn't seem to belong to no country in partikler, and though I knowed Britain claimed the Bahamas, I jes' kind a thought Teddy might want the place for a coaling station some time. So I let 'em know I was their King, and I reckon I ain't had any more trouble with them than Peter Leary had in Guam. Of course, I couldn't make it plain to 'em how the Constitution follows the flag, 'cos I didn't know myself."
"Where did you get your American flag?"
"American flag, mate?" Victor I. was offended. "Why, bless you, that ain't no stars and stripes. That there's the flag of Tortilla. There's no stars there. The red's my old undershirt, the blue I found thrown up in the surf one day and the white is a bit of sail I had with me when I dropped in to take my throne. That flag means business. I"——
His Majesty was interrupted by a shout from John Washington:
"Golly, Cap. Jim, the island's stopped!"
"Stopped, you lunkhead?"
"Yes, Cap. Jim. It ain't movin' no more. I'se been watchin' Poole's Island yonder, and we done ceased."
"Maybe it's aground," suggested the King.
"Maybe it is," replied the Rock Hall captain, "but it's more likely to have run into a current down the bay from the Susquehanna. It's just as well for you, I guess, or you'd a bumped into Cecil county so hard you wouldn't a voted next 'lection."
For some minutes the trio studied the island and its surroundings with intentness. The King was the first to notice when his kingdom got to moving again.
"It's headin' down the bay this time," he cheerily declared. "Reckon you were right about getting into a current. S'pose I'm off on another cruise."
"Sail away with me, and let it go," urged Captain Cromwell.
"What! desert my kingdom in such a economic crisis! Not this King. No, siree. Victor I. stays right here as long as there's a Tortilla to king it over. There's no kin in Squan to lament the loss of Peleg Timrod, and I've had a bully time here. Plenty of bananas, pineapples and cocoanuts to live on, no work to do, and a couple of queens to boot."
"Queens?" cried Captain Cromwell.
"Golly!" exclaimed his crew.
"Yes; two as fine-looking girls as you'd want to see. I'm powerful sorry they ain't here now to give you a royal welcome. They're gone with the rest of the island and the rest of the subjects. I miss 'em."
Victor I. sighed. Then he resumed after a pause:
"Women certainly are the curiousest things. They're the same everywhere. Life's no good without 'em, and they plague you to death while you're trying to live with 'em. Now, there's those two queens. I loved both, and yet I had such trouble with 'em last week I made 'em go home to their father's hut. Ain't I sorry they wasn't at the palace when the sou'easter came!
"How did I get 'em? Oh, they were given to me when I first came to Tortilla. You see, when I got throwed up here there was a family of natives, eight in all—the old man, the old woman, three daughters, the husband of one of them and two young boys. The two girls who didn't have no husbands took a shine to me as soon as I came and dad just passed me along to both. That was before I declaimed myself King. I was brought up in Sunday-school all right and I knowed well only Turks and Mormons had two wives at a time. But, under the circumstances, I couldn't offend anybody, so I just took both. Eugenie—that's the name I give her—she could cook and keep house out of sight. The little one—Marie Antoinette—was the cutest and soon had the biggest corner of my heart. That's what got me into trouble. You see, new clothes was scarce on Tortilla, and when I gave a bit of my old sail to Marie Antoinette for a Sunday-go-to-meetin' dress and didn't give none to Eugenie their oldest sister put the devil into Eugenie's head. She"——
The further recital of the tale of a pair of queens was cut short by a terrible roaring. A piece of the island behind the wharf broke loose and sank into the bay with a suddenness that put the Tuckahoe in dire peril. The wave that followed the engulfing of an acre of land lifted the little bugeye and nearly capsized it, at the same time ripping the wharf to pieces and snapping the moorings. Captain Cromwell and his negro sprang to the tiller and succeeded in steadying her. When they had time to look about them they saw the red-headed King in the water a hundred feet away, swimming for what was left of his kingdom.
"Come nearer; I'll throw you a line," shouted Captain Cromwell.
"No; I'll stick to my kingdom," answered Victor I., alias Peleg Timrod. "You'd better sheer off; you'll hit a coral reef or get drawn under."
The Tuckahoe's master saw that it was good advice, and he ordered John Washington to hoist sail. By the time this was done they were a quarter of a mile out in the bay, and Victor I., wet and dripping, was again on his terra firma.
"Goodbye," yelled the bay captain.
"Bye-bye," returned the King, nonchalantly.
And soon he was but a speck on the strand of the floating island, which was making good progress southward.
For half an hour Tortilla Key was visible in the bay. Captain Cromwell and John watched it unceasingly, the latter growing more and more relieved as the bugeye scudded nearer home and farther from the moving marvel. Strange to relate, over the bay, usually dotted with small or large vessels, there was no steamer or sailing craft to be seen up to the time that the bunch of tall palms became a speck off Annapolis and was finally lost in the south horizon. This evidently suggested a line of action to the master of the Tuckahoe.
"John Washington," he said, as he mustered his crew aft and addressed it sternly, "don't you ever breathe a word about that floatin' island to a living soul, or I'll skin you alive."
"Golly, Cap. Jim, you knows I ain't."
"Well, you'd better not, because folks is liable to think we made a round of Pratt-street saloons afore we boarded the Tuckahoe."
"Dey sutt'nly 'll think we's liars, Cap. Jim."
"They certainly will, John."
For a week Captain Cromwell scanned the daily papers anxiously for news of the progress of the queer derelict. And each day, with equal curiosity, John Washington visited him to learn what he could.
"Thought as how it mout a bumped up down Norfolk way," said the crew.
"No, it hasn't," replied the Captain. "I guess it must be chasing up and down the ocean now."
"Golly, Cap. Jim, but dat dere was powerful queer."
"Are you sure, John, you've never told any one—not even Liza?"
"Go 'way, Cap'n, wha' for you s'pose I'se gwine tell de old woman?"
But he had. And her narrative, as circulated in Eastern-Shore cabins, was a vastly more moving tale than the simple unvarnished truth as you and I know it.
Alexander the Great
Alexander loved everything about Antoinette except her too pronounced fondness for the romantic. That perturbed him greatly. Nobody liked to be sentimental with a pretty girl more than did Alexander. If he could squeeze Antoinette's hand slyly at Ford's or the Academy when a "dark scene" was on, and get a sweet answering pressure; if he engineered his arm about her undisturbed when he took her driving on Druid Hill's unlighted roads of a summer night; if he hazarded an occasional kiss on her warm, cherry-red lips as they lingered in the parting on the front steps of her Harlem-avenue home—he was as pleased as any admiring lover could well be. And the next day in that dull, prosaic German-street office, pictures of Antoinette as she laughed, of Antoinette as she lowered her clear brown eyes after that kiss, would thrust themselves most impertinently into each page of the big ledger he had to post.
The trouble, however, with Antoinette from Alexander's viewpoint was that she was more romantic than that. It was all right for her to be a trusting little dear and allow him the occasional kiss or hug. But no adorer likes to be told that he doesn't come up to the lady's ideal, and that was what Antoinette had plainly given Alexander to understand in those moments when, spurred on by the kiss or the hug, he had sought to make her more truly his only and own. "The man I marry," vowed the darling Antoinette, "must be a hero. You're just an ordinary fellow. You're better than the rest I know, and I like you awfully much. But Alexander, dear," and she gave a little twist to the top button of his coat, "I don't love you, because you have never shown yourself capable of bold deeds or brave actions. I am woman enough to worship a man who can do things of that kind. The age of chivalry is not dead. There are heroes in this world, and though I'm awfully fond of you, Alexander, I'm going to wait until I meet my ideal." Then Alexander would hie himself to his Gilmor-street home and curse his luck. What could a plain, unassuming, workaday clerk do in the way of being a hero? Where did he have opportunities of meeting situations of peril in which he could prove his valor?
One of those evenings when Antoinette waxed confidential and revealed her true thoughts—evenings rare, because, as a rule, she was fencing coquettishy with tongue and eyes—she acknowledged that the nearest approach to her ideal that she had ever seen was a handsome, lithe young Atlantic City life guard. She put such a valuation upon the courage of this sun-bronzed, red-shirted Adonis that Alexander's jealousy rose to the fuming point. There pressed upon him the notion of going to the City-by-the-Sea, either to challenge this approximate ideal to mortal combat or of emulating his choice of occupation and working a lifeboat and a rescue-line himself. Then he reflected that, after all, he would rather be a live clerk in Baltimore than a dead hero in the restless ocean surf.
"It's all the fault of those blamed novels," muttered Alexander, in his wrath. "She has filled up her head with that silly trash until she has spoiled the finest girl on earth." He never met her on Lexington street that she was not on her way to or from the Enoch Pratt Library, or was carrying home the latest bit of fiction from the bookstores. The old and the new alike fed her imagination—Scott, the elder Dumas, the King Arthur romances, Stanley Weyman, Anthony Hope, Hallie Erminie Rives, Laura Jean Libbey, Bertha M. Clay, Mrs. Alexander—all were fish for her net, tabloids for her mental digestion. "If she had her way, she would make me a Rob Roy, a Romeo, a Prisoner of Zenda, a Sir Gal—or whatever the dickens that old fellow's name was," vowed Alexander, who, it must be confessed, was not strong on literature.
For three hours and more he lay awake on his bed that night. He knew the length of time, because the wind was from the east and brought the sound of the City Hall's strike to him. How to gain Antoinette in marriage, how to meet her fancy of what a man ought to be, how to be a hero without an untimely fate in the flower of his youth—was ever lover more perplexed, more worried!
The next morning brought his deliverance. It came to him as he held himself in place on two inches of the footboard of a crowded open car. A queer spot for salvation to be handed to a despairing lover! Yet salvation is accustomed to odd performances. In this instance it popped into Alexander's mind so unexpectedly that he chuckled and made a seated individual think Alexander was reading the jokes of his penny paper over his shoulder. As a matter of fact, Alexander was soaring into a new and unexplored world. A great white light was leading him far from the madding crowd.
For three days chuckling alternated with heavy thinking. His mind was so engrossed with the probability of his deliverance from the trials and anxieties of trying vainly to please Antoinette that when he went, by appointment, to take her to Electric Park to see the vaudeville show he came perilously near telling her all about it. And that to the swain who hopes to capture a hesitating maiden would, as every masculine knows, have been fatal. As it was, Alexander's countenance was so benign and cheerful that the little lady noticed it.
"You've got a surprise for me, I know," she declared as she eyed him, pouting most charmingly.
She had hit so near the truth that Alexander, helpless masculine, floundered. "N—n—no. I—I—I haven't," he vowed.
"Yes, you have, Alexander Brotherton," she replied, spiritedly; and at midnight as they were crossing Harlem square, homeward bound, she snuggled up to him confidingly and intimated that it was about time to tell her.
Alexander weakened. When a fellow is 24 and a girl is 22 and unusually pretty and winsome, his heart must be adamant to withstand that little trick of snuggling up. Alexander gasped, but with the gasp gained sense enough to see he couldn't tell her about the "great white light."
Antoinette, girl like, was miffed. It was the first time in her experience with Alexander, and in fact with several other adorers, that she had not been able to operate that little device successfully. As a result, she was rather cool when they parted.
The next evening Alexander went around to make it up. He had to "crawl," of course. They all do. The girls make them do it. And when he had apologized earnestly for the eleventh time and vowed with a double criss-cross that there really wasn't any secret, Antoinette was partially mollified and allowed Alexander to stay until past 11 o'clock without a recurrence of pouting on her part.
The next night she was in a lovely humor when Alexander came around. It was close and hot, and, after buying sondaes at the drug store on the corner below, Alexander suggested riding out and strolling along some of the paths of Druid Hill Park. He put it humbly, but he was most blithe and joyous when she consented.
They were walking up the Mall on their way to the boat lake half an hour later. It was dark just there, and, as no one seemed to be near, Alexander let his hand steal around Antoinette's little waist.
"You shouldn't do that," said Antoinette slipping away from him, but not angrily. "We're not engaged, you know."
"I'd like to be," asserted Alexander ardently.
What answer she would have made can only be guessed at, for just at this moment two muscular fellows sprang in front of them from behind a tree. In the few arc-light rays that penetrated the low-hanging limbs Antoinette could see that both were masked and that one held a pistol at her. Antoinette backed close to Alexander and screamed. It was a good, lusty scream, far stronger than Alexander had thought her capable of emitting.
"Hand over your money and valuables," gruffly said the companion of him who held the pistol.
Antoinette could feel Alexander double his fists and his muscles grow hard. He started toward the two highwaymen. "Don't! don't!" she cried, as she threw her arms around him. "They'll kill you!"
But Alexander heeded her not. Instead, he pushed her aside and sprang determinedly at the other pair. With his left hand he knocked up the pistol and caused it to fall to the ground. With his right he delivered a swinging blow on the shoulder that staggered the other fellow. Apparently the pair had not expected resistance, for they darted off in the shadows, with Alexander in stern pursuit.
"Don't leave me alone," called Antoinette agonizingly. Visions of dire peril to distressed womanhood leaped into her brain from a score of favorite novels. She might be kidnapped and confined in some dark tower—she might be shot down from ambush—she might—but, ah, now! her fears were dissipated, for the doughty Alexander was back. He was puffing most unromantically, but was overjoyed at the turn that enabled him to show himself so valiant.
Several strangers had been attracted by Antoinette's scream. Alexander satisfied their curiosity by a modest recital of the incident. And then with the adoring Antoinette holding close to him he turned away. One of the strangers stopped him.
"You've left the pistol," he said.
"By George! so I did," said Alexander.
"Don't take that awful thing," said Antoinette with a shudder.
"It will be a prize trophy," said Alexander, and Antoinette with this point of view was content. Under the first light he showed the weapon to her. She needed to be encouraged to handle the pistol, but finally she inspected it closely. "It has your initials—'A. B.'—on it," she suddenly declared.
"Why so it has," stammered Alexander. Without further ado he put the revolver in his pocket.
"Hadn't you better tell the park gateman about the outrage?" asked Antoinette presently.
"No; I think it wiser to keep it out of the papers," returned Alexander. "After all, it was only a little incident, with no serious consequences."
But Antoinette did not regard it in that light. To her it was a valorous deed, and she rehearsed her view of it all the way home.
"You are my hero, my first hero," she said to the proud Alexander on her stoop, and reaching up to his face she impulsively gave him the warmest kiss he had ever secured from her. The hero business wasn't so bad after all.
Some evenings later they were again strolling in the park. Alexander had received permission to smoke a cigarette as they walked, but could not light it in the breeze that was blowing. "Wait a moment, little girl," he finally said, and he stepped aside to the protection of a broad tree trunk, perhaps forty feet away, leaving Antoinette on the path. It was the main-traveled way from Madison-avenue gate to the Mansion House, but at the time no one was near. Suddenly, however, a tall man loomed up from behind Antoinette and seized her rudely in his arms.
"A kiss, my little beauty," he said as he put his face close to hers. Antoinette would have dropped with fright had not his firm grasp upheld her. She was too scared to scream, but she did have presence of mind enough to turn her face aside. What she saw when she did turn overjoyed her, for Alexander was coming agilely over the turf to her rescue.
"Here, let go of that lady, you dirty whelp!" cried Alexander, when yet some paces away. The man relaxed his hold on her, but, instead of running as her hold-up man had done, he turned to meet the oncoming champion. Alexander grappled with him and there was a stout tussle. It seemed ages to Antoinette, who was watching the struggle with tense, strained eyes, before Alexander proved his redoubtability by throwing her insulter over on the grass.
"Oh, Alexander!" she cried in exultation and relief. "You are so strong and brave!"
Alexander, panting, swelled his chest. Such praise from the girl he loved was like divine, enchanting wine. He took her to his bosom, as they say. But the fond embrace was cut short by a snicker from the onlooker. He had not risen from the recumbent position in which Alexander's prowess had placed him. Antoinette's beloved turned angrily on him, "Get you gone, you vile dog!" he exclaimed theatrically. And then he kicked him, not gently, but positively.
In a flash the other man was up and had grabbed the surprised Alexander. It was such a grab that Alexander murmured in pain. Antoinette thought she heard one of them say something about "Not in the bargain." She was not sure. But she was sure that Alexander was not doing so well in the second round of combat as in the first. Then he whispered to his opponent, and almost immediately the strength of the other diminished, even as did Samson's when shorn of his locks. Presently the other broke away and ran, and Alexander stood breathless, master of the field.
On the walk back to the Druid Hill-avenue entrance to take a car for home Antoinette again proposed that they tell the authorities of the two attacks. Alexander was against it. He said he dreaded the mire of publicity for the sweetest creature on earth. And he looked at her lovingly as he said it. Antoinette's purpose weakened, but she had enough strength of will left to declare she was almost sure she could identify her assailant. "He had an odd-shaped mole on his right cheek," she remarked. "And, do you know, it's curious that I think I am nearly certain that one of our highwaymen of last week had a similar mark. I got a glimpse of it once when a puff of air caught his mask." Alexander redoubled his urgings that they keep silent. He breathed easier when they were past the gateman and on the car.
For a week he basked in the glory of her adulation. Never was a hero so worshiped as this proven one. Never was a sweet girl so happy as Antoinette. She had met her ideal, and he was hers. Twenty hours of the twenty-four she dreamed of him; the other four she rejoiced at being with him.
The eighth night after the second encounter in Druid Hill he had taken her to Gwynn Oak Park to dance. Until the sixth number, the waltzes and two-steps were all his. Then Will Harrison, an old acquaintance, came up. "I hate to leave you," whispered Antoinette, as she gazed up into her hero's face, "but Will is a nice boy, and I don't like to refuse him one." Alexander smiled in return, and told her to enjoy herself. As she floated around on Will's arm she took advantage of every turn to watch the adored Alexander. She thought he looked lonely, and she wished she could decently end her waltz and get back to him. For a moment, in a reverse step, she lost sight of him, and when she saw him again a tall young fellow was talking to him. Alexander seemed ill at ease and perturbed. In fact, he quite failed to notice that she was nearing him again in the dance. "I want that extra five you whispered you'd give me," Antoinette heard the tall chap say. "That kick was worth it. If you don't cough up I'll tell the lady how much it cost you, you coward, to be a hero twice." Antoinette looked intently at the tall man. There was a mole on his right cheek. She was wise all of a sudden. Then she grew faint with the shock of the knowledge.
"Take me out of here," she muttered to her partner. He obeyed. A car was fast filling up to leave for Walbrook. Antoinette made a dash for it. "Come, take me home, Will!" she called. Again he obeyed, and bounced her into a seat.
"I'll never speak to that awful wretch again," said Antoinette to the curious Will. "I am ashamed of myself."
And thus was Alexander the Great dethroned.
Breaking Into Medicine
To MR. JOHN IREDELL, Summerfield, Guilford County, North Carolina. Baltimore, Oct. 1, 1906.
I have been here nearly a week now, and have got pretty well fixed, so I thought I would report to you tonight. I find that there will be a lot of hard work with classes, laboratory hours and study, but, as I told you before I left, I intend to put my shoulder to the wheel and aim so high that you will have just cause to be proud of me when I become a Doctor of Medicine. I see that I shall have to cut out all idea of amusements and pleasure and put my nose to the grindstone.
My college—the P. & S.—opened last Thursday with an address by the Dean, a helpful speech that I should like you to have heard. For, although I chose medicine chiefly because Uncle Will made a success of it out in Texas, I was glad to hear the Dean tell what a noble profession it was to relieve suffering millions.
The college occupies a red brick building at Calvert and Saratoga streets, and is operated in connection with the City Hospital, which adjoins it and where there are hundreds of patients. I don't know whether you remember the locality, as it has been so many years since you were in Baltimore. It is close to the business centre, only a block north of the Courthouse and the Postoffice. There are about 300 students. They come from all parts of this country, and even from foreign lands. I will bear in mind what you said about not being too thick with any of them.
I have secured a boarding-house on North Calvert street—No. 641. It is kept by a widow lady from Mecklenburg county, and she calls it the Yadkin and makes a special effort to attract "Tarheels." Nearly all her boarders are from North Carolina, and we get the papers from Raleigh and other places, so that it is quite homelike for me.
I pay $5 a week board, and there ought not to be many extra expenses, except for books, so I can get along nicely on the $35 a month you said you would give me. But I told them at the College to send you the tuition bill. That was all right, wasn't it?
Your devoted son, HUGH.
To MISS GRACE IREDELL, Summerfield, North Carolina. Baltimore, Oct. 4, 1906.
Dear Little Sis:
I wrote Father the other day and told how I had got started at the College. I suppose you read the letter or heard all the news in it. I really haven't buckled down to hard work, because there has been such a lot of "hazing" that we "freshies" are being captured all the time. Last Friday the older fellows actually made a line of us walk up and down some of the principal streets with our trousers and coats turned inside out, our stockings down over our shoes, our bare legs tattooed and crazy signs on our backs. Just fancy what a guy your big brother looked on Lexington street, where all the ladies here go shopping! I should have died if I had seen anybody from home. There wasn't any breaking away, because they were too many for us. One "freshy" tried it, and he's going around with a bum eye and his hand in a sling.
After the parade they took us in a back yard and made us do "stunts." One prisoner had to deliver a solemn oration from a beer keg on "Whether Cuba ought to be annexed to the United States." When it came my turn I thought I'd get off easy by giving some of those imitations of dogs and cats and roosters that I used to get off with the crowd at home. But they made such a hit that now they have me doing them all the time. Every time I come out of class a gang of yelling Indians grab me and carry me off to do imitations. I'm tired of it, but I can't help it.
Two of the fellows at my boarding-house got me to go to a theatre on Baltimore street last night. It was a variety show, a mixed programme of acrobatic feats, singing and girls dancing. I thought it all fine, but the crowd didn't like every bit of it, for at places they began to yell "Get the hook!" whatever that means.
I intended to hunt up a Methodist church last Sunday, but one of the associate professors at the college was a classmate of Uncle Will's, and he invited me to evening service at a Congregational church, a beautiful edifice on Maryland avenue, looking more like a costly college building than a church. I enjoyed myself, for there was some fine singing, and we sat right behind one of the prettiest girls I have ever seen. At the end I was introduced to some of the people and they invited me to a social at the church one evening next week.
Maybe you had better not let Father read this. He might get the idea I wasn't taking my studies seriously enough.
To MR. HUGH IREDELL, 641 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, Maryland. Summerfield, N. C., Oct. 6, 1906.
I am glad you are settled in Baltimore and so well satisfied with your choice of a dignified and honorable profession. I expect to see you buckle right down to hard work and study, for I will not support a grown son in idleness. I am not so well pleased at what your mother tells me you wrote Grace, that you went to a theatre and that you did not go to a Methodist church last Sunday, as you promised. You remember what Pastor told you about the danger to young men of drifting from church to church in a large city like Baltimore, and not sticking to any.
I got the bill for your college fees today. I was surprised that you did this, for you told me when I agreed to let you go that you would pay everything out of $35 a month. I will send a money order for it this time, but you must settle it yourself next term.
Your father, JOHN IREDELL.
To MISS GRACE IREDELL, Summerfield, N. C. Baltimore, Oct. 10, 1906.
Dear Little Sis:
What in the world made you blab about what I wrote you last week? Father sends me a roast about going to a theatre and not going to a Methodist church. You know a fellow should not be expected to work all the time, but Father's old-fashioned and can't see it that way. Don't tell him anything like that again.
I have been to theatres a couple more times. You know it doesn't cost much if you sit with the "gods" in the cheaper seats. All the fellows pay Dutch and we have a jolly time. One night we went into a lunchroom on Fayette street and enjoyed fried oysters. Another night we went to a German place downtown and had a bottle of beer and a cheese sandwich. It was lively there; such a nice lot of people.
I haven't been to a Methodist church yet. I intended to go Sunday morning, but I was out late Saturday night and I didn't get up in time. Sunday night I went to that Associate Church again. I saw my pretty girl—I tell you she's a beauty. She had a fellow with her. Wish I had been in his place. Going to a blow-out at the church tomorrow night. Maybe she'll be there. Hope so....
To MR. CLARENCE ROWAN, Raleigh, N. C. Baltimore, Oct. 25, 1906.
Dear Old Chum:
Haven't heard a word since I wrote you from home to say I was coming to Baltimore to study medicine, but suppose you're too busy rushing the lady you're going to marry. Say, old man, I'm clean gone myself. Prettiest girl I ever looked at. Saw her two Sunday nights in church when I first came, and then was lucky enough to meet her at a church social. I wish you could have seen her. No, I don't, because if you had I should have had you for a rival. Anyway, she looked a vision. She's tall, with a stunning figure and a graceful way of holding herself. She's a blonde, her hair glinted with gold, her eyes as blue as—I was going to say indigo, but nothing about her is as blue as that. I never did take to blondes, you know, but this one has got me, because she has vivacity and unbends most delightfully. I talked to her half an hour the night I met her. Gee, but the fellow who brought her looked sour! I must have made some kind of an impression, for when she was bidding me good-night she asked me to call. She lives on a street called Guilford avenue, in North Baltimore. I was over there last Tuesday night. Asked her if I might come when I saw her at church Sunday. I tell you she was a dream in a pink gown, with her golden hair all done up on her head in some kind of a way I can't describe, but looking magnificent. She told me about a fellow who wanted to come see her that night, but she let him know she had another engagement, and the way she told me, looking at me with those splendid blue eyes, just made me feel I was cutting some ice there. She can tickle the ivories in great shape, and spent most of the evening at the piano. She goes to the theatre a lot, and she had all the latest comic opera songs, like those of Anna Held and Marie Cahill, and she can play ragtime out of sight. I tried to get her to play some sentimental things, but she said she wasn't in that mood. I'd like to catch her when she is.
Tomorrow afternoon I expect to be a great occasion. She studies painting at the Maryland Institute, an art school here, and she has asked me to go sketching with her out in the country. I'll have to cut some of my college work, but you can bet I'm going to do that all right.
To MR. CLARENCE ROWAN, Raleigh, N.C. Baltimore, Nov. 1, 1906.
Dear Old Chum:
Glad to hear from you so soon, and glad to hear you are interested in Miss Edith Wolfe. No, I don't think you'd better come to Baltimore. But, if you're good and stay away, I'll send you a photo of her she has promised to give me and let you see what she looks like. No picture of her can do her justice, however, for she's just the liveliest girl you ever knew, beside being so handsome.
I've been up to her home twice in a week, took her to the theatre last night and went to church with her Sunday. But the bulliest time of all was that sketching trip last Friday, of which I wrote you. It was a magnificent October afternoon, and the country was simply superb, with the trees all tinted to glorious hues by a frost two weeks ago. I carried her little easel and canvas stool, and we got in a car near her home and rode out to a suburb called Mount Holly. I had no idea there was such beautiful scenery near Baltimore, so bold and mountainous looking. We strolled first along a path beside a millrace, high up on a hillside, a path overhung by arching trees, with Gwynn's Falls tumbling over the rocks in cascades far beneath, and a beautiful outlook across the valley to some handsome wooded country estates. After that we went down beside the stream and sat under a great rock, while Miss Wolfe made a sketch of the Falls. It didn't take her long—just a rough painted outline, you know. She's going to fill it in at home, and she has promised me a copy for my room. She was in the jolliest mood imaginable, and we had a merry hour there "far from the madding crowd." I shall always call it a "red day," because then I got my first kiss from her. It came about in this way. She dropped her paint brush while we were sitting on a rock at the water's edge, and it floated down stream. She said she wouldn't lose it for worlds. "Will you reward me if I recover it?" I asked. She said she would. "A kiss?" I asked. "Oh! stop your nonsense, you foolish boy!" she said, with a laugh. I ran down the bank, clambered out on some rocks, steered the brush in with a stick and took it to her. Then we wrangled for ten minutes gaily about whether she had or had not promised me that kiss. Suddenly she leaned forward and met my lips with hers. "There, let that end it," she cried, as she blushed. It didn't end it, for it was so good I wanted more out of the same package. But she wouldn't let me have any more. Aren't girls mean? I suppose I'll have to make more bargains with her or I'll get no more kisses. She says she always sticks to a bargain.
You have no idea how clever she is in dodging if I try to steer the talk to sentimental ground. I have called her an arrant flirt a score of times, but she just laughs. And such a laugh!
The show last night hit me $3.20, counting car fares, and my allowance from the old man is running short. I'm glad she didn't accept my invitation to go to the Rennert to eat after "The Lion and the Mouse." She said she would like to, but we'd better go straight home from Ford's, as her mother would prefer it that way.
Wish me success, old fellow, with my love affair. I tell you, that girl has got me going so I can't get interested in dry old stuff about bones.
To MISS GRACE IREDELL, Summerfield, N. C. Baltimore, Nov. 21, 1906.
Dear Little Sis:
I wish you had been with me last night to see the largest dance you ever set your eyes on. It was a regimental hop at the Fifth Regiment Armory, an enormous big building that can accommodate, they say, about 15,000 people. They hold there all the biggest conventions that Baltimore has. It was a grand sight, with a crowd of girls in pretty clothes and fellows in uniform and dress suits, dancing to the music of the regiment band. Edith Wolfe's brother is a lieutenant in the regiment, and she invited me to be her escort. We had our own party—Lieutenant Wolfe, another soldier boy, a third chap not in uniform and a couple of girl friends of Edith, petite, pretty, sweet-natured sisters, whom I liked very much. I danced with all three girls, but especially with Edith, who looked radiant in a black sequin gown that was unusually well suited to her blonde type. One waltz to the dreamy music of "Mlle. Modiste" was Heaven itself.
The only drawback to me was the expense. I had to pay $4 for a carriage and $3 for roses. Besides, I had to hire a dress suit, as I could not have gone without one. Some of the students sent me to a place kept by twin brothers, identical in appearance, and it was a funny sight to see them making me into one of their swallow-tails, taking in here and letting out there. Anyhow, it took the last dollar I had, and I've got to borrow to get along for two weeks.
Yours lovingly, HUGH.
To MR. HUGH IREDELL, College of Physicians and Surgeons. Baltimore, Nov. 27, 1906.
The faculty desires to notify you that your record is unsatisfactory, both in regard to attendance and preparedness in class, and it expects you to show improvement therein or suffer the consequences.
Respectfully yours, W. TALBERT, Secretary.
To MRS. JOHN IREDELL, Summerfield, N. C. Baltimore, Dec. 2, 1906.
I want you to do me a great favor. I do not dare write Father about it, but I find I must have a black dress suit in order to look as well as the other fellows when I go around of an evening. It will cost $40, I learn, and, of course, I cannot pay for it out of the small monthly sum Father sends me for my board. Tell him it is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY and urge him please to let me have it. If he will not send the money, I shall have to borrow it or get the suit somewhere on the instalment plan.
Your devoted son, HUGH.
To MR. HUGH IREDELL, 641 North Calvert street, Baltimore. Summerfield, N. C., Dec. 6, 1906.
What is this nonsense about you must have a black swallow-tail? You had a black suit when you went away. It was good enough to go to parties here. Are your Baltimore friends so much more aristocratic? Besides, didn't you go there to study and not to play? You are writing home too much about girls and society and dances and theatres, and nothing about work. Remember, I am footing the bills. When I was your age I got up at 4 in the morning and toiled away in the fields till sundown, and then I was too tired to spruce up and play at being a gentleman. If you're going to be a doctor, you'd better take a different course.
To MR. CLARENCE ROWAN, Raleigh, N. C. Baltimore, Dec. 10, 1906.
Dear Old Chum:
You're right for complaining I have neglected you, but I have been having the time of my life. Edith and I have been going it heavy for nearly two months. I am hit harder than ever. She's a wonderful girl. I manage to see her every day—meet her down on Lexington street shopping, take long walks with her out Charles-Street extended, go to church with her, take her to the theatre and elsewhere at night. She has invited me into a euchre that meets every three weeks—fine crowd. You ought to see me in a swell dress suit. Went broke to get it, but it's worth it for style. You wouldn't know me for a country "Tarheel."
Edith's as cute as they make them. Last night, at the euchre, she found a double almond, and we ate filopena for a box of candy against a kiss. I got caught, of course, but she gave me the kiss on her doorstep as we parted. Then she dropped a hint that it was for a five-pound box. Just think of that! You remember that line out of "A Texas Steer," "I wonder if it cost Daniel Webster a hundred to kiss her mother."
Bye bye, old chap; got a date to bowl with Edith at the Garage tonight. Ought to be studying for "exams," but simply can't.
To MR. JOHN IREDELL, Summerfield, N. C. Baltimore, Dec. 20, 1906.
I am requested by the faculty of the College of Physicians and Surgeons to say that the record of your son is so poor that he cannot be permitted to continue his studies here. He has more than 50 absences charged against him, continued unpreparedness in classes and a wretched showing in the recent examinations.
Respectfully yours, C. F. B. EVAN, Dean.
To HUGH IREDELL, 641 N. Calvert St., Baltimore. Summerfield, N. C., Dec. 21, 1906.
Come home at once. Letter from faculty.
To JOHN IREDELL, Summerfield, N. C. Baltimore, Dec. 21, 1906.
Wire me $75 first. Owe that much board, etc.
To HUGH IREDELL, 641 N. Calvert Street. Baltimore. Summerfield, N. C., Dec. 21, 1906.
Sell dress suit and pawn watch. Wait till I see you.
To MISS EDITH WOLFE, 1746 Guilford Ave., Baltimore. Pennsy Depot, Washington, Dec. 22, 1906.
Sorry I can't see you tonight. Called home suddenly by my father. Don't know why. Will write long letter when I get home. Hope to be back soon. Until then fond love and kisses, from
Your Own, HUGH.
To MRS. CLARA YANCY, The Yadkin, Baltimore. Washington, Dec. 22, 1906.
I regret very much leaving you so abruptly today. I will send you money for the board owing as soon as I can. Until then will you please take good care of my trunk.
Respectfully, HUGH IREDELL.
The Pink Ghost of Franklin Square
The Ghost appeared very modestly at first. Some children sitting on a bench just before dark saw it in the second-story window of one of those big old brownstone fronts on Fayette street, on the south side of Franklin Square. It seemed so uncanny and weird to them that they talked a lot about it when they went that evening to their homes on South Stricker street. The parents pooh-poohed it, of course, and told the children there was no cause for alarm. But when one of the little girls, after a restless, troubled effort to get to sleep, had had a strenuous nightmare, and had alarmed the household by shrieking that the woman in pink was beckoning, the older folk decided to investigate.
The next night there was no ghost. Two fathers sat with the children in the Square from supper time until after 9 o'clock, but nothing happened. Naturally, the fathers thought it a pure case of nerves. But the children were so insistent and so circumstantial in their story that the older heads wavered and returned on the following evening.
And then they saw the Ghost!
Just after the June sun had left the trees and a few dying gleams were coloring the tops of the tall houses on Carey street, on the east side of the Square, the Ghost showed itself at the window the children had pointed out. It was a figure nebulous and hazy, but undeniably pink. It appeared right at the window, and after standing still for a moment began to wave its long arms with fantastic gestures, and to make other movements which the children interpreted as beckoning to them. Then it evaporated, but in another moment reappeared and went through more gyrations.
The exclamations of the children attracted the attention of others in the Square, and soon a score of people stood fascinated and puzzled by the weird vision. It lasted perhaps five minutes more, quite up to when darkness settled down on the Square, and none was able to explain or give any reasonable solution of what all had undeniably seen. They continued to watch, and continued to discuss, but the vanished Ghost came no more that evening.
The next night, the news having spread, there were a hundred persons or more in the southeast part of the Square. The Ghost came on time and went through the same antics. The wonderment and the mystery grew. And still none could explain, though a resident of the block stated that the house under watch was temporarily without occupants, as the family who dwelt in it had been gone to Europe for some weeks.
It was four days after this before the police heard of it. By that time, with the exception of the "cops," it seemed as though everybody in Southwest Baltimore was discussing the Ghost. A reporter worked up a lively tale about it for an afternoon paper, and Round Sergeant Norman, as he left the station-house that evening, was instructed to "lay the Ghost." You know the police don't believe in the supernatural. Too often etherealized ghosts turn out to be most mundane burglars and housebreakers.
The Sergeant found a thousand eager watchers in the Square when he arrived. The afternoon paper had evidently been digested well. Each watcher was straining his eyes at the brownstone mansion on Fayette street. From the windows of several Carey-street houses curious persons leaned out, and even on the west, at the Franklin-Square Hospital, there were other interested observers.
"It's either a 'fake' or a burglar," declared the Sergeant positively, as he took the "cub" reporter to task for making such capital out of the Ghost. He was just about to narrate some of his own experiences with bogus spooks when the Pink Ghost became visible, and the Sergeant started and uttered a surprised exclamation. A thousand other pairs of eyes had seen it, and a thousand throats called out, in varied strength of sound:
"There it is! There it is!"
A hush fell over the crowd as they watched the figure in pink. The deepening shadows toned the dark-brown front of the mansion until it framed the outlines in the window with considerable positiveness. But the uncanny nature of the appearance was also in evidence, for one could see right through the figure in pink to the room behind it. Those near the Round Sergeant saw him remove his helmet and mop the increasing perspiration from his forehead.
"That beats the devil," he muttered.
The Ghost began to wave its arms, to bend over and then straighten up; to beckon and then to make gestures as if of denial. The Sergeant's awe was great, but no whit more intense than that of the crowd. They were face to face with a bit of the supernatural, puzzled, wondering, doubting, scoffing, fascinated, alarmed.
"By Jiminy!" exclaimed the Sergeant. "That's the strangest thing I've ever seen, Howard. We'll have to go into that house."
But their visit that night was destined to be futile. Some minutes were lost in gaining access to the rear roof through the house next on the west, and some minutes more in prying open a shutter and forcing a carefully locked sash. By this time the twilight had deepened into night, and the Sergeant lit a borrowed lantern to make the trip down the stairway to the second-story front. There was nothing strange or supernatural in the room; no sign of a pink ghost or any other being, human or spiritual. The furniture and other fittings seemed undisturbed and as regularly arranged as they had probably been when the owners went away. And when Howard, the reporter, raised a window, a hundred watchers in the street and Square were ready to vouchsafe the information that the Ghost had been gone quite ten minutes.
The Sergeant swore. Then he muttered: "It certainly is queer." Then he took Howard on a thorough inspection of the house, from cellar to roof. They poked into cupboards, turned over mattresses, peeped into bureau drawers and boxes and a score of other articles too small to have hidden anything human. But nary a sign was there of ghost, burglar or joker. "It beats the devil," again remarked the Sergeant as he and Howard, perspiringly hot, left the house about 9 o'clock.
The following morning the papers were full of it. Southwest Baltimore no longer mortgaged the new sensation. All Baltimore discussed it and speculated what it might be. And, as a result, the crowd of watchers as the June day drew to a close numbered not one, but many, thousands. Around at the Concord Club they said it beat any political mass-meeting ever seen. The Square was overrun, and everybody talked "Pink Ghost." Captain Delany ordered out the police reserves to keep the crowd in check and give the cars a chance to get by. With Round Sergeant Norman, the Captain personally superintended the preparations to lay the ghost.
The Pink Ghost did not disappoint them. It came to the window on scheduled time—just as the shadows deepened in Franklin Square—and it waved its arms from the window and beckoned to the awed and puzzled multitude. Captain Delany gave a signal, and from front and rear his picked men swarmed into the empty house and rushed up the stairway. The Round Sergeant was in the van. He had been berated and ridiculed for not solving the mystery the night before, and he determined to be in at the death now. But as he crossed the threshold of the front room he started back in amazement and fell against the bluecoat behind him. The Pink Ghost was not in the window, but swaying and frantically waving on the west wall of the room.
"My God! what is it?" cried the man behind.
Norman could only point to the wall. His own hair was, he felt, actually raising his helmet off his head, and there was a curious contraction in his throat. In an instant, however, this had passed, and, with club in hand, he charged bravely upon the Ghost. As he neared it, however, a surprise awaited him. Instead of waving arms, he saw his own burly form shadowed on the outer edge of the pink nebula. He turned upon his heel, quickly bent over, and then burst into loud laughter. For him the riddle of the Pink Ghost was solved.
"What is it, Norman? What is it, man? Is he crazy?"
The other policemen pushed into the room to be enlightened, but the Sergeant only laughed the more immoderately. Delany became angry and started to seize Norman by the shoulder. This brought the Captain into the pink nebula and he understood Norman's hilarity.
"By gad, that's funny," he cried, and he entered upon a joint spasm of mirth. The other bluecoats drew near, and as each came into the pink glow the chorus swelled. Such a lot of uproarious policemen had rarely been known in Baltimore.
* * * * *
Five minutes later Captain Delany and Sergeant Norman, having at last controlled themselves, left the closing of the house to subordinates and crossed the square to a house on Carey street, where they asked to see a young lady abiding there. She was a very stately and fine-looking young woman, and when she tripped down into the parlor the attractiveness of her face was heightened by a slight flush, due most likely to her wonderment at a visit from two policemen. When they left her ten minutes later her face was rosy red and her stately carriage had given way to a combination of mirth and embarrassment. But Delany had her positive assurance that there would be no more Pink Ghost.
"For, you see, it was this way," he explained to the reporters who stopped him outside. "The young woman seems to have a steady beau every evening, for whom she likes to do a bit of fixin' up and primping. And after supper she makes her way to her room, which is in the front of the top floor, and there she combs and rearranges her hair and puts on gew-gaws and trimmings. And in these long summer days, when the sun has left the square, it is still comin' into those high windows."
"But what has she to do with the Ghost?" asked one irrepressible.
"I was a-comin' to that, youngster," retorted the man in blue; "but if ye're overanxious, it may satisfy yer to know she was the Pink Ghost. Leastwise, the sun's reflection was the ghost and she was the movin' figure that made the shadow do such queer antics. She had a bureau in the back of her room so fixed that when the rays of the dying sun come into the window on the north they are reflected in the bureau glass and pass out of the south window and across the square to that there brownstone front where you all saw the Ghost. Every time she raised her arms to her hair or made any other movement in dressing before the mirror she butt into the reflection and caused your Pink Ghost to do stunts."
"And you say there won't be any more Pink Ghost?"
"Not unless the young woman gets careless and leaves up that south blind. For she sort o' has an idea tonight that the whole of this end of town has been watching her get ready to meet her beau."
The Vanished Mummy
In the detective headquarters in the Courthouse they have mistakenly built up a very high notion of my sleuth qualities. Personally I have always felt that such help as I have been able to render them in two or three different cases was most largely due to luck, and only in a small degree to the exercise of logic and common sense in making deductions of subsequently proven importance from apparently trivial facts. Nevertheless, the good fortune that attended me in those cases fixed my reputation with them as the Sherlock Holmes of Baltimore, while the generosity with which I permitted them to take all the glory of solving the mysteries made me solid and caused them to consult me the more frequently in hours of perplexity. At the same time, I confess it, the love of the game made me eager to be in it and I not only installed a 'phone in my apartment in the Arundel, but I was always careful, in absenting myself from my office or my flat, to leave word where I would most likely be found during the next few hours. In this way the puzzled Vidocqs were usually able to reach me when my help was needed.
I was whiling away a rainy Saturday afternoon at the Maryland a few weeks ago when I saw Dorland making signs to me from the passageway behind the boxes on the right of the theatre. Lieutenant Amers' redcoated British band, of which I had grown very fond, was rendering the final crashing bars of the overture to "Wilhelm Tell," and, with my passionate love for music, I was loth to leave until the programme was completed. But Dorland was a detective who never came for me unless there was an interesting mystery to offer and I left my seat at once and joined him in the lobby.
"Which way, Dorland?" I asked.
"Woman's College, sir," he answered, just as briefly.
I gave an exclamation of surprise. An institution attended by hundreds of girls from the best families of America was not the place one would expect a mystery of crime.
"Very curious case, sir. Mummy of an Egyptian princess stolen."
"Odd affair," I remarked. "Gives promise of being most unusual. Any clue?"
"Not a shred, sir."
On our way out to the College on a Roland-Park car, Dorland gave me a recital of such facts as he had learned. The mummy had been secured in Egypt with much difficulty by President Goucher and was one of the prized possessions of the College museum. Partly divested of its wrappings of fine linen turned brown with the centuries, the body of this daughter of the Pharaohs had been exhibited in a glass case on the second floor of Goucher Hall, while nearby had been placed the case in which it had rested for ages, a case of wood painted with figures and hieroglyphics that told the rank and virtues of the little lady. The night before at 6 o'clock the mummy had been in its place. In the morning when the janitor's wife was sweeping she discovered the glass lid prized open and the mummy gone. The night watchman saw nothing, heard nothing.
"And what are your theories?" I asked Dorland, as we passed along Twenty-third street.
"That it was taken to be sold at a good figure to some other museum; that it was taken to be sold back to the College; that it was a students' prank; or that it was done by girls being initiated into one of the College secret societies."
When I had been introduced to and cordially welcomed by a trio of anxious College officials, the dean hastened to assure me of their desire to avoid publicity and notoriety.
"Have you questioned any of the girls today?" I asked.
"No," replied the dean; "it being Saturday, there have been few of them here, and we have sent for none, so that the loss might be kept secret until we determine on the motive."
A close examination of the empty glass case and its surroundings was fruitless. Nor did questioning of the janitor and his wife elicit anything new.
"You cleaned very thoroughly," I said to the woman. "What did you do with the sweepings?"
"They're in a box in the basement, sir."
At my request the box was brought up. It was a soap box almost full. "Are these only the sweepings of today?" I asked. The janitor spoke up. "I emptied all the others yesterday, sir," he declared. With this assurance, I plunged my hands into the pile and began a minute and careful search of it, dumping handful after handful on newspapers spread over a table in Dr. Goucher's office. Dorland kept the others in conversation, and this fortunately enabled me to make a couple of finds unnoticed by them.
At the end of 10 minutes I had reached the bottom of the box. Turning then to the dean, I said:
"How many Canadian students have you here?"
"Canadians? Oh, two—Miss Carothers and Miss Anstey."
"And may I see them?"
"I cannot see"——began the dean warmly.
I hastened to assure him I had no idea of suspecting them. "Nevertheless," I added, "I should like to question them. I have a theory that one or the other may help me."
The dean was mollified. "Miss Carothers has been absent sick for several days. Miss Anstey you can see. She is a charming girl. Her father is one of the leading Methodist divines of Canada, and an old friend of Dr. Goucher and myself. She does not live in the College homes, but with a lady around the corner on Charles street, who is also an old family friend. I will send you there. She may not be at home just now, but you can try."
The janitor's wife spoke up, "Miss Anstey was here an hour or so ago, sir. She was upstairs for a few minutes, and then went out and got in an auto with a young gentleman."
"I will go around to her home at any rate," I said.
"You have very little hope of finding the mummy, have you not, Mr. McIver?" asked the dean, anxiously.
"On the contrary," I replied confidently. "I expect to bring back the Egyptian princess in an hour or two."
He accepted my boast dubiously. "Whatever you do," he urged, "use no questionable methods, for the sake of the College. If you find the thief, let me decide whether to prosecute him. If you can get back the mummy without injury, I would prefer to hush up the affair."
I promised him I would. "I consider this a very unusual case," I said, "and I believe you will be satisfied with my disposition of it." With this I left him.
Dorland and the College professor who accompanied us were both eager to know what clue I had, but I stood them off as we walked round to the Charles-street dwelling.
Miss Anstey was out, as I had anticipated, but we were graciously received by Mrs. Eden, her hostess. It was a home of culture and refinement, and the large parlor abounded in paintings, art objects and other curios evidently picked up in foreign travel. "I expect Ethel home soon," said the sweet-faced and sweet-voiced old lady. "She went motoring this afternoon with a friend, and she said she would be home to supper."
"We called to ask," I remarked, "whether she had not lost this bit of jewelry." And to the surprise of Dorland and the professor I produced a pin I had found in the sweepings of Goucher Hall, a tiny enameled maple leaf, set around with pearls.
"Yes, that is Ethel's!" exclaimed Mrs. Eden. "I don't think she lost it, however, for she had recently loaned it to a friend." She smiled. "You know, young girls nowadays have a great habit of exchanging tokens like this with young men. It was not so in my day."
"And if I be not rude," I continued, "may I not know the name of this young man?"
"Why, certainly," replied the lady. "He is Mr. Raymond Harding."
"You mean," I inquired, "the son of Mr. Harding, the bank president?" The Hardings, as everybody knows, are among the best-known millionaire families in Baltimore society.
"The same," replied Mrs. Eden. "Miss Anstey and he have been friends for a couple of years. I am sure both will be grateful to you for finding this pin. Now that I recall it, it may be that they have already had words about it being lost. He was here last evening and they were both rather excited. At breakfast Ethel complained of having a headache and looked as though she had been crying. They called each other up several times by 'phone during the morning, but Ethel told me nothing, and I thought it tactful to say nothing to her. When he came this afternoon I told her she looked so pale she ought to rest, but she laughed me off."
"We will come again after they have returned," I said to Mrs. Eden as I rose to go. "Perhaps, as you say, I may be able to straighten out the little trouble. Meanwhile, I would suggest that you say nothing to them."
It had grown dark when we stepped outside. Dorland gripped my hand warmly. "McIver," he exclaimed, "you're a wonder! I see the whole case now. Gee, but its a rum affair!"
The professor was mystified. "I don't quite see, gentlemen, how the whole affair is settled. Where is the mummy? And who was the thief?"
"The mummy, professor," I remarked, oracularly, "is most probably in the automobile of Mr. Raymond Harding."
"You don't mean that he is the thief?"
"I believe he took the mummy. I believe he dropped the pin in doing it. This also fell out of his auto cap." I produced a gilt paper initial "H," such as hatters put in headwear for their customers. It was my second find in the sweepings.
"But the motive, man, the motive!" persisted the professor. "Why should a millionaire's son break into a Woman's College building to steal a mummy? It sounds ridiculous."
"That, sir, is the part I want Miss Anstey to explain. It is the only element of doubt in a perfectly plain chain of circumstances. Raymond Harding I know slightly, and he has a certain reputation for reckless pranks, although he's not a bad fellow."
"But surely you don't suspect Ethel Anstey. Why, man, she's a"——
The mournful notes of a Gabriel's horn down at Twenty-second street betokened the approach of an auto, and interrupted the professor's eulogium of one who was manifestly a favorite pupil. "Quick!" I exclaimed; "saunter to the corner." A big touring car came up Charles street and stopped in front of the Eden home. A slender young chap stepped out and aided a young lady to descend. They stood for a minute on the curb beside the machine—undecided, as I figured out, whether the mummy would be safe there if left alone—and then both passed into the house.
The three of us with one accord moved down the pavement. "Look on the rear seat, Dorland," I said, as the headquarters man ran to the auto. A great part of my confidence in my well-developed solution of the mystery would have gone to smash if the mummy had not been there. But Dorland gave a little cry of triumph. "It's here, all right," he called, "wrapped up in a rubber blanket." We tried to lift the bundle, but the petrified daughter of the Pharaohs was heavier than he had calculated. "Be careful, Mr. Dorland," the professor entreated; "don't smash her."
"Now for the young man," said Dorland, jumping down to the curb.
"No," said I. "I have a better plan. Can you run an auto?"
"And have you a key to Goucher Hall?" I asked the professor.
The professor had.
"Then you two quietly take the mummy back to her box while I go in and question Miss Anstey."
They got off without fuss, and when I had seen them turn the corner I rang the bell and asked for Miss Anstey. In placing my hat on the hallrack I moved Harding's cap to another peg and observed, as I had thought, that the "H" had parted company with the other gilt initials.
I felt unfeignedly sorry for the girl when she came into the parlor a few minutes later. She had fine regular features, and with her limpid blue eyes was unquestionably pretty when the flush of youth and vivacity had full play. But that day there were dark circles under her eyes, her lids were suspiciously red and there was a pallid hue in her cheeks that was accentuated by the dark blue silk suit she wore. A novice at reading character could have told she had been spending hours in worry and tears.
"You wished to see me?" she said, inquiringly, as she slowly advanced to where I had risen to meet her.
"To return this," I answered. And I held out the maple leaf pin to her.
She grew, if possible, more white and sought the help of the piano to support herself.
"I—I—It is not——Where did you get it?" she said, with several gulps to keep down the sobs.
"It was found in Goucher Hall near the mummy case."
She stepped back uncertainly. Then she pulled herself together.
"You are a detective?"
I winced. "No," I said; "I am a friend of the College and of Mr. Harding's."
At the mention of his name she broke down completely and, sinking on the stool, leaned her head and began to cry. "Oh, Raymond!" I heard her say. "It means disgrace. It means the penitentiary." Her form shook violently with her emotion. It was more than I could stand.
"Listen, Miss Anstey," I said, and I laid my hand lightly on her shoulder. "It means nothing of the kind. You have my word as a gentleman that no one shall know the story save the two or three who already know it."
She lifted her tear-stained face and studied me earnestly. "It was a mad prank," she sobbed. "I am to blame. I ought to be punished. It started as a joke. I had no idea he'd do it."
"Call Raymond down."
She went out into the hallway and a whistled signal brought Harding to us. When he entered the parlor his surprise at seeing me was great.
"He knows about the mummy," said the girl faintly.
Harding stepped away from us both. "He knows?"
"Yes, he wants to help us."
"I want to get you out of a nasty scrape, Raymond," I remarked.
The boy eyed me intently. Then he put out his hand and gripped mine. "Thank you, McIver," he said, simply. And the three of us sitting down, the boy and the girl told me the whole truth about the kidnapping of the Egyptian princess. Each supplied parts of the narrative. Raymond, I learned, had prized open the case on a visit to the College museum on Friday afternoon and had then secreted himself in the building. When the watchman was in a remote corner, it had taken but a minute to lift the mummy, carry it downstairs, unlock the north door and slip out to where he had left his auto. "Then he came here to show it to me," said Miss Anstey. "And then I went to take it back," pursued the boy. "And, Lord, McIver, I found the watchman had locked the door. Ever since then we've been in an awful fright. I didn't know what to do with the bloody thing."
"What on earth made you take it?" I asked.
The boy turned a troubled eye on the girl. "I did it on a dare," he said after a pause.
A rosy flush had replaced her pallor. "That isn't the whole truth, Mr. McIver," she said. "There was a wager, and a lot of teasing, and talk about a kiss. It sounds so silly now, but it was all in fun. I didn't expect him to do it. And, oh! how sorry I am!"
"The question is, McIver," said the boy, "how on earth am I to get it back."
"That's the easiest part," I said. "In fact, it is already back." I paused to enjoy their pleased surprise. "And if I mistake not here are the two gentlemen that did it." The doorbell had rung and I stepped out to admit Dorland and the professor.
The next 15 minutes was a medley of questions, of explanations, of promises to keep mum and of expressions of heartfelt thanks from the young couple. The professor was the only one who thought it incumbent to scold them for a silly prank and to point out the serious danger in which they had been involved. It sobered them, and at the same time it made them realize what a tremendous service I had done them.
One point puzzled Dorland. When we had left the house and parted from the professor, he asked me:
"How on earth did you know that pin was Miss Anstey's?"
"Had it been a thistle design," I said, "I should have begun a search for that 'bonnie sweet lass, the Maid o' Dundee."
"I don't exactly see," he ejaculated.
"The maple leaf, my son, is the national emblem of Canada."
"Ah," said Dorland, "that's what you get by book-larnin'."
"Yes," I admitted; "it helps some."
"Mount Vernon 1-0-0-0"
They were getting to the sad point where each was growing tired of the other. The crescendo of love's young dream had passed. Each was sub-consciously realizing that while the springtime of their romance had been full of glorious days the summer was destined to be damp and showery. Daniel was beginning to find faults in Jennie that he had not believed could exist in her, and Jennie in turn was more and more provoked with Daniel, more and more exacting in what she required of him, and more and more disposed to accuse him of not keeping up with the devoted pace he had set when he first began to pay her definite attentions the winter before. Daniel sometimes would dance with other girls, a thing he had not dreamt of doing in the heyday of their affair, and Jennie did not hesitate to accept invitations from men who were as deferential and admiring as Daniel had been in the beginning. Their friends, those at least who were discerning, realized that the probability of a marriage between them was becoming more and more remote.
Jennie and her parents were spending the summer at Mount Holly Inn, and, among other instances of his growing restiveness, Daniel was inclined to grumble at having to bolt his dinner, dress hurriedly in his sun-baked room on Park avenue, and make the suburban car journey nightly in order to reach her side. Sometimes he balked and called her up by 'phone instead, and though she professed her disappointment and scolded him, he was almost sure to learn the next day she had enjoyed her evening at dancing or bowling. Then again there were occasions when he had made up his mind to be on hand, according to promise, and had started to get ready when called off by a message from Jennie, telling him that she had been invited to enjoy a moonlight auto spin with Mr. and Mrs. Chester, fellow-guests with whom she had grown most friendly.