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Turn About Eleanor
by Ethel M. Kelley
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* * * * *

In her diary she recorded some of the more intimate facts of her new existence, such facts as she instinctively guarded from Albertina's calculating sense.

* * * * *

"Everybody makes fun of me here. I don't care if they do, but I can't eat so much at the table when every one is laughing at me. They get me to talking and then they laugh. If I could see anything to laugh at, I would laugh too. They laugh in a refined way but they laugh. They call me Margaret's protegay. They are good to me too. They say to my face that I am like a merry wilkins story and too good to be true, and New England projuces lots of real art, and I am art, I can't remember all the things, but I guess they mean well. Aunt Margaret's grandfather sits at the head of the table, and talks about things I never heard of before. He knows the govoner and does not like the way he parts his hair. I thought all govoners did what they wanted to with their hairs or anything and people had to like it because (I used to spell because wrong but I spell better now) they was the govoners, but it seems not at all.

"Aunt Margaret is lovely to me. We have good times. I meant to like Aunt Beulah the best because she has done the most for me but I am afrayd I don't. I would not cross my heart and say so. Aunt Margaret gives me the lessons now. I guess I learn most as much as I learned I mean was taught of Aunt Beulah. Oh dear sometimes I get descouraged on account of its being such a funny world and so many diferent people in it. And so many diferent feelings. I was afrayd of the hired butler, but I am not now."

* * * * *

Eleanor had not made a direct change from the Washington Square studio to the ample house of the Hutchinsons, and it was as well for her that a change in Jimmie's fortunes had taken her back to the Winchester and enabled her to accustom herself again to the amenities of gentler living. Like all sensitive and impressionable children she took on the color of a new environment very quickly. The strain of her studio experience had left her a little cowed and unsure of herself, but she had brightened up like a flower set in the cheerful surroundings of the Winchester and under the influence of Jimmie's restored spirits.

The change had come about on Jimmie's "last day of grace." He had secured the coveted position at the Perkins agency at a slight advance over the salary he had received at the old place. He had left Eleanor in the morning determined to face becomingly the disappointment that was in store for him, and to accept the bitter necessity of admitting his failure to his friends. He had come back in the late afternoon with his fortunes restored, the long weeks of humiliation wiped out, and his life back again on its old confident and inspired footing.

He had burst into the studio with his news before he understood that Eleanor was not alone, and inadvertently shared the secret with Gertrude, who had been waiting for him with the kettle alight and some wonderful cakes from "Henri's" spread out on the tea table. The three had celebrated by dining together at a festive down-town hotel and going back to his studio for coffee. At parting they had solemnly and severally kissed one another. Eleanor lay awake in the dark for a long time that night softly rubbing the cheek that had been so caressed, and rejoicing that the drink Uncle Jimmie had called a high-ball and had pledged their health with so assiduously, had come out of two glasses instead of a bottle.

Her life at the Hutchinsons' was almost like a life on another planet. Margaret was the younger, somewhat delicate daughter of a family of rather strident academics. Professor Hutchinson was not dependent on his salary to defray the expenses of his elegant establishment, but on his father, who had inherited from his father in turn the substantial fortune on which the family was founded.

Margaret was really a child of the fairies, but she was considerably more fortunate in her choice of a foster family than is usually the fate of the foundling. The rigorous altitude of intellect in which she was reared served as a corrective to the oversensitive quality of her imagination.

Eleanor, who in the more leisurely moments of her life was given to visitations from the poetic muse, was inspired to inscribe some lines to her on one of the pink pages of the private diary. They ran as follows, and even Professor Hutchinson, who occupied the chair of English in that urban community of learning that so curiously bisects the neighborhood of Harlem, could not have designated Eleanor's description of his daughter as one that did not describe.

"Aunt Margaret is fair and kind, And very good and tender. She has a very active mind. Her figure is quite slender.

"She moves around the room with grace, Her hands she puts with quickness. Although she wears upon her face The shadow of a sickness."

It was this "shadow of a sickness," that served to segregate Margaret to the extent that was really necessary for her well being. To have shared perpetually in the almost superhuman activities of the family might have forever dulled that delicate spirit to which Eleanor came to owe so much in the various stages of her development.

Margaret put her arm about the child after the ordeal of the first dinner at the big table.

"Father does not bite," she said, "but Grandfather does. The others are quite harmless. If Grandfather shows his teeth, run for your life."

"I don't know where to run to," Eleanor answered seriously, whereupon Margaret hugged her. Her Aunt Margaret would have been puzzling to Eleanor beyond any hope of extrication, but for the quick imagination that unwound her riddles almost as she presented them. For one terrible minute Eleanor had believed that Hugh Hutchinson senior did bite, he looked so much like some of the worst of the pictures in Little Red Riding Hood.

"While you are here I'm going to pretend you're my very own child," Margaret told Eleanor that first evening, "and we'll never, never tell anybody all the foolish games we play and the things we say to each other. I can just barely manage to be grown up in the bosom of my family, and when I am in the company of your esteemed Aunt Beulah, but up here in my room, Eleanor, I am never grown up. I play with dolls."

"Oh! do you really?"

"I really do," Margaret said. She opened a funny old chest in the corner of the spacious, high studded chamber. "And here are some of the dolls that I play with." She produced a manikin dressed primly after the manner of eighteen-thirty, prim parted hair over a small head festooned with ringlets, a fichu, and mits painted on her fingers. "Beulah," she said with a mischievous flash of a grimace at Eleanor. "Gertrude,"—a dashing young brunette in riding clothes. "Jimmie,"—a curly haired dandy. "David,"—a serious creature with a monocle. "I couldn't find Peter," she said, "but we'll make him some day out of cotton and water colors."

"Oh! can you make dolls?" Eleanor cried in delight, "real dolls with hair and different colored eyes?"

"I can make pretty good ones," Margaret smiled; "manikins like these,—a Frenchwoman taught me."

"Oh; did she? And do you play that the dolls talk to each other as if they was—were the persons?"

"Do I?" Margaret assembled the four manikins into a smart little group. The doll Beulah rose,—on her forefinger. "I can't help feeling," mimicked Margaret in a perfect reproduction of Beulah's earnest contralto, "that we're wasting our lives,—criminally dissipating our forces."

The doll Gertrude put up both hands. "I want to laugh," she cried, "won't everybody please stop talking till I've had my laugh out. Thank you, thank you."

"Why, that's just like Aunt Gertrude," Eleanor said. "Her voice has that kind of a sound like a bell, only more ripply."

"Don't be high-brow," Jimmie's lazy baritone besought with the slight burring of the "r's" that Eleanor found so irresistible. "I'm only a poor hard-working, business man."

The doll David took the floor deliberately. "We intend to devote the rest of our lives," he said, "to the care of our beloved cooperative orphan." On that he made a rather over mannered exit, Margaret planting each foot down deliberately until she flung him back in his box. "That's the kind of a silly your Aunt Margaret is," she continued, "but you mustn't ever tell anybody, Eleanor." She clasped the child again in one of her warm, sudden embraces, and Eleanor squeezing her shyly in return was altogether enraptured with her new existence.

"But there isn't any doll for you, Aunt Margaret," she cried.

"Oh! yes, there is, but I wasn't going to show her to you unless you asked, because she's so nice. I saved the prettiest one of all to be myself, not because I believe I'm so beautiful, but—but only because I'd like to be, Eleanor."

"I always pretend I'm a princess," Eleanor admitted.

The Aunt Margaret doll was truly a beautiful creation, a little more like Marie Antoinette than her namesake, but bearing a not inconsiderable resemblance to both, as Margaret pointed out, judicially analyzing her features.

Eleanor played with the rabbit doll only at night after this. In the daytime she looked rather battered and ugly to eyes accustomed to the delicate finish of creatures like the French manikins, but after she was tucked away in her cot in the passion flower dressing-room—all of Margaret's belongings and decorations were a faint, pinky lavender,—her dear daughter Gwendolyn, who impersonated Albertina at increasingly rare intervals as time advanced, lay in the hollow of her arm and received her sacred confidences and ministrations as usual.

* * * * *

"When my two (2) months are up here I think I should be quite sorry," she wrote in the diary, "except that I'm going to Uncle Peter next, and him I would lay me down and dee for, only I never get time enough to see him, and know if he wants me to, when I live with him I shall know. Well life is very exciting all the time now. Aunt Margaret brings me up this way. She tells me that she loves me and that I've got beautiful eyes and hair and am sweet. She tells me that all the time. She says she wants to love me up enough to last because I never had love enough before. I like to be loved. Albertina never loves any one, but on Cape Cod nobody loves anybody—not to say so anyway. If a man is getting married they say he likes that girl he is going to marry. In New York they act as different as they eat. The Hutchinsons act different from anybody. They do not know Aunt Margaret has adoptid me. Nobody knows I am adoptid but me and my aunts and uncles. Miss Prentis and Aunt Beulah's mother when she came home and all the bohemiar ladies and all the ten Hutchinsons think I am a little visiting girl from the country. It is nobody's business because I am supported out of allowances and salaries, but it makes me feel queer sometimes. I feel like

"'Where did you come from, baby dear, Out of the nowhere unto the here?'

Also I made this up out of home sweet home.

"'Pleasures and palaces where e'er I may roam, Be it ever so humble I wish I had a home.'

"I like having six homes, but I wish everybody knew it. I am nothing to be ashamed of. Speaking of homes I asked Aunt Margaret why my aunts and uncles did not marry each other and make it easier for every one. She said they were not going to get married. That was why they adoptid me. 'Am I the same thing as getting married?' I ast. She said no, I wasn't except that I was a responsibility to keep them unselfish and real. Aunt Beulah doesn't believe in marriage. She thinks its beneth her. Aunt Margaret doesn't think she has the health. Aunt Gertrude has to have a career of sculpture, Uncle David has got to marry some one his mother says to or not at all, and does not like to marry anyway. Uncle Jimmie never saw a happy mariage yet and thinks you have a beter time in single blesedness. Uncle Peter did not sign in the book where they said they would adopt me and not marry. They did not want to ask him because he had some trouble once. I wonder what kind! Well I am going to be married sometime. I want a house to do the housework in and a husband and a backyard full of babies. Perhaps I would rather have a hired butler and gold spoons. I don't know yet. Of course I would like to have time to write poetry. I can sculpture too, but I don't want a career of it because it's so dirty."

* * * * *

Physically Eleanor throve exceedingly during this phase of her existence. The nourishing food and regular living, the sympathy established between herself and Margaret, the regime of physical exercise prescribed by Beulah which she had been obliged guiltily to disregard during the strenuous days of her existence in Washington Square, all contributed to the accentuation of her material well-being. She played with Margaret's nephew, and ran up and down stairs on errands for her mother. She listened to the tales related for her benefit by the old people, and gravely accepted the attentions of the two formidable young men of the family, who entertained her with the pianola and excerpts from classic literature and folk lore.

* * * * *

"The We Are Sevens meet every Saturday afternoon," she wrote—on a yellow page this time—"usually at Aunt Beulah's house. We have tea and lots of fun. I am examined on what I have learned but I don't mind it much. Physically I am found to be very good by measure and waite. My mind is developing alright. I am very bright on the subject of poetry. They do not know whether David Copperfield had been a wise choice for me, but when I told them the story and talked about it they said I had took it right. I don't tell them about the love part of Aunt Margaret's bringing up. Aunt Beulah says it would make me self conscioush to know that I had such pretty eyes and hair. Aunt Gertrude said 'why not mention my teeth to me, then,' but no one seemed to think so. Aunt Beulah says not to develope my poetry because the theory is to strengthen the weak part of the bridge, and make me do arithmetic. 'Drill on the deficiency,' she says. Well I should think the love part was a deficiency, but Aunt Beulah thinks love is weak and beneath her and any one. Uncle David told me privately that he thought I was having the best that could happen to me right now being with Aunt Margaret. I didn't tell him that the David doll always gets put away in the box with the Aunt Margaret doll and nobody else ever, but I should like to have. He thinks she is the best aunt too."

* * * * *

Some weeks later she wrote to chronicle a painful scene in which she had participated.

* * * * *

"I quarreled with the ten Hutchinsons. I am very sorry. They laughed at me too much for being a little girl and a Cape Codder, but they could if they wanted to, but when they laughed at Aunt Margaret for adopting me and the tears came in her eyes I could not bare it. I did not let the cat out of the bag, but I made it jump out. The Grandfather asked me when I was going back to Cape Cod, and I said I hoped never, and then I said I was going to visit Uncle Peter and Aunt Gertrude and Uncle David next. They said 'Uncle David—do you mean David Bolling?' and I did, so I said 'yes.' Then all the Hutchinsons pitched into Aunt Margaret and kept laughing and saying, 'Who is this mysterious child anyway, and how is it that her guardians intrust her to a crowd of scatter brain youngsters for so long?' and then they said 'Uncle David Bolling—what does his mother say?' Then Aunt Margaret got very red in the face and the tears started to come, and I said 'I am not a mysterious child, and my Uncle David is as much my Uncle David as they all are,' and then I said 'My Aunt Margaret has got a perfect right to have me intrusted to her at any time, and not to be laughed at for it,' and I went and stood in front of her and gave her my handkercheve.

"Well I am glad somebody has been told that I am properly adoptid, but I am sorry it is the ten Hutchinsons who know."



CHAPTER IX

PETER

Uncle Peter treated her as if she were grown up; that was the wonderful thing about her visit to him,—if there could be one thing about it more wonderful than another. From the moment when he ushered her into his friendly, low ceiled drawing-room with its tiers upon tiers of book shelves, he admitted her on terms of equality to the miraculous order of existence that it was the privilege of her life to share. The pink silk coverlet and the elegance of the silver coated steampipes at Beulah's; the implacable British stuffiness at the Winchester which had had its own stolid charm for the lineal descendant of the Pilgrim fathers; the impressively casual atmosphere over which the "hired butler" presided distributing after-dinner gold spoons, these impressions all dwindled and diminished and took their insignificant place in the background of the romance she was living and breathing in Peter's jewel box of an apartment on Thirtieth Street.

Even to more sophisticated eyes than Eleanor's the place seemed to be a realized ideal of charm and homeliness. It was one of the older fashioned duplex apartments designed in a more aristocratic decade for a more fastidious generation, yet sufficiently adapted to the modern insistence on technical convenience. Peter owed his home to his married sister, who had discovered it and leased it and settled it and suddenly departed for a five years' residence in China with her husband, who was as she so often described him, "a blooming Englishman, and an itinerant banker." Peter's domestic affairs were despatched by a large, motherly Irishwoman, whom Eleanor approved of on sight and later came to respect and adore without reservation.

Peter's home was a home with a place in it for her—a place that it was perfectly evident was better with her than without her. She even slept in the bed that Peter's sister's little girl had occupied, and there were pictures on the walls that had been selected for her.

She had been very glad to make her escape from the Hutchinson household. Her "quarrel" with them had made no difference in their relation to her. To her surprise they treated her with an increase of deference after her outburst, and every member of the family, excepting possibly Hugh Hutchinson senior, was much more carefully polite to her. Margaret explained that the family really didn't mind having their daughter a party to the experiment of cooperative parenthood. It appealed to them as a very interesting try-out of modern educational theory, and their own theories of the independence of the individual modified their criticism of Margaret's secrecy in the matter, which was the only criticism they had to make since Margaret had an income of her own accruing from the estate of the aunt for whom she had been named.

"It is very silly of me to be sensitive about being laughed at," Margaret concluded. "I've lived all my life surrounded by people suffering from an acute sense of humor, but I never, never, never shall get used to being held up to ridicule for things that are not funny to me."

"I shouldn't think you would," Eleanor answered devoutly.

In Peter's house there was no one to laugh at her but Peter, and when Peter laughed she considered it a triumph. It meant that there was something she said that he liked. The welcome she had received as a guest in his house and the wonderful evening that succeeded it were among the epoch making hours in Eleanor's life. It had happened in this wise.

The Hutchinson victoria, for Grandmother Hutchinson still clung to the old-time, stately method of getting about the streets of New York, had left her at Peter's door at six o'clock of a keen, cool May evening. Margaret had not been well enough to come with her, having been prostrated by one of the headaches of which she was a frequent victim.

The low door of ivory white, beautifully carved and paneled, with its mammoth brass knocker, the row of window boxes along the cornice a few feet above it, the very look of the house was an experience and an adventure to her. When she rang, the door opened almost instantly revealing Peter on the threshold with his arms open. He had led her up two short flights of stairs—ivory white with carved banisters, she noticed, all as immaculately shining with soap and water as a Cape Cod interior—to his own gracious drawing-room where Mrs. Finnigan was bowing and smiling a warmhearted Irish welcome to her. It was like a wonderful story in a book and her eyes were shining with joy as Uncle Peter pulled out her chair and she sat down to the first meal in her honor. The grown up box of candy at her plate, the grave air with which Peter consulted her tastes and her preferences were all a part of a beautiful magic that had never quite touched her before.

She had been like a little girl in a dream passing dutifully or delightedly through the required phases of her experience, never quite believing in its permanence or reality; but her life with Uncle Peter was going to be real, and her own. That was what she felt the moment she stepped over his threshold.

After their coffee before the open fire—she herself had had "cambric" coffee—Peter smoked his cigar, while she curled up in silence in the twin to his big cushioned chair and sampled her chocolates. The blue flames skimmed the bed of black coals, and finally settled steadily at work on them nibbling and sputtering until the whole grate was like a basket full of molten light, glowing and golden as the hot sun when it sinks into the sea.

Except to offer her the ring about his slender Panatela, and to ask her if she were happy, Peter did not speak until he had deliberately crushed out the last spark from his stub and thrown it into the fire. The ceremony over, he held out his arms to her and she slipped into them as if that moment were the one she had been waiting for ever since the white morning looked into the window of the lavender dressing-room on Morningside Heights, and found her awake and quite cold with the excitement of thinking of what the day was to bring forth.

"Eleanor," Peter said, when he was sure she was comfortably arranged with her head on his shoulder, "Eleanor, I want you to feel at home while you are here, really at home, as if you hadn't any other home, and you and I belonged to each other. I'm almost too young to be your father, but—"

"Oh! are you?" Eleanor asked fervently, as he paused.

"—But I can come pretty near feeling like a father to you if it's a father you want. I lost my own father when I was a little older than you are now, but I had my dear mother and sister left, and so I don't know what it's like to be all alone in the world, and I can't always understand exactly how you feel, but you must always remember that I want to understand and that I will understand if you tell me. Will you remember that, Eleanor?"

"Yes, Uncle Peter," she said soberly; then perhaps for the first time since her babyhood she volunteered a caress that was not purely maternal in its nature. She put up a shy hand to the cheek so close to her own and patted it earnestly. "Of course I've got my grandfather and grandmother," she argued, "but they're very old, and not very affectionate, either. Then I have all these new aunts and uncles pretending," she was penetrating to the core of the matter, Peter realized, "that they're just as good as parents. Of course, they're just as good as they can be and they take so much trouble that it mortifies me, but it isn't just the same thing, Uncle Peter!"

"I know," Peter said, "I know, dear, but you must remember we mean well."

"I don't mean you; it isn't you that I think of when I think about my co—co-woperative parents, and it isn't any of them specially,—it's just the idea of—of visiting around, and being laughed at, and not really belonging to anybody."

Peter's arms tightened about her.

"Oh! but you do belong, you do belong. You belong to me, Eleanor."

"That was what I hoped you would say, Uncle Peter," she whispered.

They had a long talk after this, discussing the past and the future; the past few months of the experiment from Eleanor's point of view, and the future in relation to its failures and successes. Beulah was to begin giving her lessons again and she was to take up music with a visiting teacher on Peter's piano. (Eleanor had not known it was a piano at first, as she had never seen a baby grand before. Peter did not know what a triumph it was when she made herself put the question to him.)

"If my Aunt Beulah could teach me as much as she does and make it as interesting as Aunt Margaret does, I think I would make her feel very proud of me," Eleanor said. "I get so nervous saving energy the way Aunt Beulah says for me to that I forget all the lesson. Aunt Margaret tells too many stories, I guess, but I like them."

"Your Aunt Margaret is a child of God," Peter said devoutly, "in spite of her raw-boned, intellectual family."

"Uncle David says she's a daughter of the fairies."

"She's that, too. When Margaret's a year or two older you won't feel the need of a mother."

"I don't now," said Eleanor; "only a father,—that I want you to be, the way you promised."

"That's done," Peter said. Then he continued musingly, "You'll find Gertrude—different. I can't quite imagine her presiding over your moral welfare but I think she'll be good at it. She's a good deal of a person, you know."

"Aunt Beulah's a good kind of person, too," Eleanor said; "she tries hard. The only thing is that she keeps trying to make me express myself, and I don't know what that means."

"Let me see if I can tell you," said Peter. "Self-expression is a part of every man's duty. Inside we are all trying to be good and true and fine—"

"Except the villains," Eleanor interposed. "People like Iago aren't trying."

"Well, we'll make an exception of the villains; we're talking of people like us, pretty good people with the right instincts. Well then, if all the time we're trying to be good and true and fine, we carry about a blank face that reflects nothing of what we are feeling and thinking, the world is a little worse off, a little duller and heavier place for what is going on inside of us."

"Well, how can we make it better off then?" Eleanor inquired practically.

"By not thinking too much about it for one thing, except to remember to smile, by trying to be just as much at home in it as possible, by letting the kind of person we are trying to be show through on the outside. By gosh! I wish Beulah could hear me."

"By just not being bashful, do you mean?"

"That's the idea."

"Well, when Aunt Beulah makes me do those dancing exercises, standing up in the middle of the floor and telling me to be a flower and express myself as a flower, does she just mean not to be bashful?"

"Something like that: she means stop thinking of yourself and go ahead—"

"But how can I go ahead with her sitting there watching?"

"I suppose I ought to tell you to imagine that you had the soul of a flower, but I haven't the nerve."

"You've got nerve enough to do anything," Eleanor assured him, but she meant it admiringly, and seriously.

"I haven't the nerve to go on with a moral conversation in which you are getting the better of me at every turn," Peter laughed. "I'm sure it's unintentional, but you make me feel like a good deal of an ass, Eleanor."

"That means a donkey, doesn't it?"

"It does, and by jove, I believe that you're glad of it."

"I do rather like it," said Eleanor; "of course you don't really feel like a donkey to me. I mean I don't make you feel like one, but it's funny just pretending that you mean it."

"Oh! woman, woman," Peter cried. "Beulah tried to convey something of the fact that you always got the better of every one in your modest unassuming way, but I never quite believed it before. At any rate it's bedtime, and here comes Mrs. Finnigan to put you to bed. Kiss me good night, sweetheart."

Eleanor flung her arms about his neck, in her first moment of abandonment to actual emotional self-expression if Peter had only known it.

"I will never really get the better of you in my life, Uncle Peter," she promised him passionately.



CHAPTER X

THE OMNISCIENT FOCUS

One of the traditional prerogatives of an Omnipotent Power is to look down at the activities of earth at any given moment and ascertain simultaneously the occupation of any number of people. Thus the Arch Creator—that Being of the Supreme Artistic Consciousness—is able to peer into segregated interiors at His own discretion and watch the plot thicken and the drama develop. Eleanor, who often visualized this proceeding, always imagined a huge finger projecting into space, cautiously tilting the roofs of the Houses of Man to allow the sweep of the Invisible Glance.

Granting the hypothesis of the Divine privilege, and assuming for the purposes of this narrative the Omniscient focus on the characters most concerned in it, let us for the time being look over the shoulder of God and inform ourselves of their various occupations and preoccupations of a Saturday afternoon in late June during the hour before dinner.

Eleanor, in her little white chamber on Thirtieth Street, was engaged in making a pink and green toothbrush case for a going-away gift for her Uncle Peter. To be sure she was going away with him when he started for the Long Island beach hotel from which he proposed to return every day to his office in the city, but she felt that a slight token of her affection would be fitting and proper on the eve of their joint departure. She was hurrying to get it done that she might steal softly into the dining-room and put it on his plate undetected. Her eyes were very wide, her brow intent and serious, and her delicate lips lightly parted. At that moment she bore a striking resemblance to the Botticelli head in Beulah's drawing-room that she had so greatly admired.

Of all the people concerned in her history, she was the most tranquilly occupied.

Peter in the room beyond was packing his trunk and his suit-case. At this precise stage of his proceedings he was trying to make two decisions, equally difficult, but concerned with widely different departments of his consciousness. He was gravely considering whether or not to include among his effects the photograph before him on the dressing-table—that of the girl to whom he had been engaged from the time he was a Princeton sophomore until her death four years later—and also whether or not it would be worth his while to order a new suit of white flannels so late in the season. The fact that he finally decided against the photograph and in favor of the white flannels has nothing to do with the relative importance of the two matters thus engrossing him. The health of the human mind depends largely on its ability to assemble its irrelevant and incongruous problems in dignified yet informal proximity. When he went to his desk it was with the double intention of addressing a letter to his tailor, and locking the cherished photograph in a drawer; but, the letter finished, he still held the picture in his hand and gazed down at it mutely and when the discreet knock on his door that constituted the announcing of dinner came, he was still sitting motionless with the photograph propped up before him.

Up-town, Beulah, whose dinner hour came late, was rather more actively, though possibly not more significantly, occupied. She was doing her best to evade the wild onslaught of a young man in glasses who had been wanting to marry her for a considerable period, and had now broken all bounds in a cumulative attempt to inform her of the fact.

Though he was assuredly in no condition to listen to reason, Beulah was reasoning with him, kindly and philosophically, paying earnest attention to the style and structure of her remarks as she did so. Her emotions, as is usual on such occasions, were decidedly mixed. She was conscious of a very real dismay at her unresponsiveness, a distress for the acute pain from which the distraught young man seemed to be suffering, and the thrill, which had she only known it, is the unfailing accompaniment to the first eligible proposal of marriage. In the back of her brain there was also, so strangely is the human mind constituted, a kind of relief at being able to use mature logic once more, instead of the dilute form of moral dissertation with which she tried to adapt herself to Eleanor's understanding.

"I never intend to marry any one," she was explaining gently. "I not only never intend to, but I am pledged in a way that I consider irrevocably binding never to marry,"—and that was the text from which all the rest of her discourse developed.

Jimmie, equally bound by the oath of celibacy, but not equally constrained by it apparently, was at the very moment when Beulah was so successfully repulsing the familiarity of the high cheek-boned young man in the black and white striped tie, occupied in encouraging a familiarity of a like nature. That is, he was holding the hand of a young woman in the darkened corner of a drawing-room which had been entirely unfamiliar to him ten days before, and was about to impress a caress on lips that seemed to be ready to meet his with a certain degree of accustomed responsiveness. That this was not a peculiarly significant incident in Jimmie's career might have been difficult to explain, at least to the feminine portion of the group of friends he cared most for.

Margaret, dressed for an academic dinner party, in white net with a girdle of pale pink and lavender ribbons, had flung herself face downward on her bed in reckless disregard of her finery; and because it was hot and she was homesick for green fields and the cool stretches of dim wooded country, had transported herself in fancy and still in her recumbent attitude to the floor of a canoe that was drifting down-stream between lush banks of meadow grass studded with marsh lilies. After some interval—and shift of position—the way was arched overhead with whispering trees, the stars came out one by one, showing faintly between waving branches; and she perceived dimly that a figure that was vaguely compounded of David and Peter and the handsomest of all the young kings of Spain, had quietly taken its place in the bow and had busied itself with the paddles,—whereupon she was summoned to dinner, where the ten Hutchinsons and their guests were awaiting her.

David, the only member of the group whose summer vacation had actually begun, was sitting on the broad veranda of an exclusive country club several hundreds of miles away from New York and looking soberly into the eyes of a blue ribbon bull dog, whose heavy jowl rested on his knees. His mother, in one of the most fashionable versions of the season's foulards, sleekly corseted and coifed, was sitting less than a hundred yards away from him, fanning herself with three inches of hand woven fan and contemplating David. In the dressing-room above, just alighted from a limousine de luxe, was a raven-haired, crafty-eyed ingenue (whose presence David did not suspect or he would have recollected a sudden pressing engagement out of her vicinity), preening herself for conquest. David's mind, unlike the minds of the "other gifted members of the We Are Seven Club," to quote Jimmie's most frequent way of referring to them, was to all intents and purposes a total blank. He answered monosyllabically his mother's questions, patted the dog's beetling forehead and thought of nothing at all for practically forty-five minutes. Then he rose, and offering his arm to his mother led her gravely to the table reserved for him in the dining-room.

Gertrude, in her studio at the top of the house in Fifty-sixth Street where she lived with her parents, was putting the finishing touches on a faun's head; and a little because she had unconsciously used Jimmie's head for her model, and a little because of her conscious realization at this moment that the roughly indicated curls over the brow were like nobody's in the world but Jimmie's, she was thinking of him seriously. She was thinking also of the dinner on a tray that would presently be brought up to her, since her mother and father were out of town, and of her coming two months with Eleanor and her recent inspiration concerning them.

In Colhassett, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the dinner hour and even the supper hour were long past. In the commodious kitchen of Eleanor's former home two old people were sitting in calico valanced rockers, one by either window. The house was a pleasant old colonial structure, now badly run down but still marked with that distinction that only the instincts of aristocracy can bestow upon a decaying habitation.

A fattish child made her way up the walk, toeing out unnecessarily, and let herself in by the back door without knocking.

"Hello, Mis' Chase and Mr. Amos," she said, seating herself in a straight backed, yellow chair, and swinging her crossed foot nonchalantly, "I thought I would come in to inquire about Eleanor. Ma said that she heard that she was coming home to live again. Is she, Mr. Amos?"

Albertina was not a peculiar favorite of Eleanor's grandfather. Amos Chase had ideas of his own about the proper bringing up of children, and the respect due from them to their elders. Also Albertina's father had come from "poor stock." There was a strain of bad blood in her. The women of the Weston families hadn't always "behaved themselves." He therefore answered this representative of the youngest generation rather shortly.

"I don't know nothing about it," he said.

"Why, father," the querulous old voice of Grandmother Chase protested, "you know she's comin' home somewhere 'bout the end of July, she and one of her new aunties and a hired girl they're bringing along to do the work. I don't see why you can't answer the child's question."

"I don't know as I'm obligated to answer any questions that anybody sees fit to put to me."

"Well, I be. Albertina, pass me my glasses from off the mantel-tree-shelf, and that letter sticking out from behind the clock and I'll read what she says."

Albertina, with a reproachful look at Mr. Amos, who retired coughing exasperatedly behind a paper that he did not read, allowed herself to be informed through the medium of a letter from Gertrude and a postscript from Eleanor of the projected invasion of the Chase household.

"I should think you'd rather have Eleanor come home by herself than bringing a strange woman and a hired girl," Albertina contributed a trifle tartly. The distinction of a hired girl in the family was one which she had long craved on her own account.

"All nonsense, I call it," the old man ejaculated.

"Well, Eleena, she writes that she can't get away without one of 'em comin' along with her and I guess we can manage someways. I dunno what work city help will make in this kitchen. You can't expect much from city help. They ain't clean like home folks. I shall certainly be dretful pleased to see Eleena, and so will her grandpa—in spite o' the way he goes on about it."

A snort came from the region of the newspaper.

"I shouldn't think you'd feel as if you had a grandchild now that six rich people has adopted her," Albertina suggested helpfully.

"It's a good thing for the child," her grandmother said. "I'm so lame I couldn't do my duty by her. Old folks is old folks, and they can't do for others like young ones. I'd d'ruther have had her adopted by one father and mother instead o' this passel o' young folks passing her around among themselves, but you can't have what you'd d'ruther have in this world. You got to take what comes and be thankful."

"Did she write you about having gold coffee spoons at her last place?" Albertina asked. "I think they was probably gilded over like ice-cream spoons, and she didn't know the difference. I guess she has got a lot of new clothes. Well, I'll have to be getting along. I'll come in again."

At the precise moment that the door closed behind Albertina, the clock in Peter Stuyvesant's apartment in New York struck seven and Eleanor, in a fresh white dress and blue ribbons, slipped into her chair at the dinner table and waited with eyes blazing with excitement for Peter to make the momentous discovery of the gift at his plate.



CHAPTER XI

GERTRUDE HAS TROUBLE WITH HER BEHAVIOR

"Dear Uncle Peter," Eleanor wrote from Colhassett when she had been established there under the new regime for a week or more. "I slapped Albertina's face. I am very awfully sorry, but I could not help it. Don't tell Aunt Margaret because it is so contrary to her teachings and also the golden rule, but she was more contrary to the golden rule that I was. I mean Albertina. What do you think she said? She said Aunt Gertrude was homely and an old maid, and the hired girl was homely too. Well, I think she is, but I am not going to have Albertina think so. Aunt Gertrude is pretty with those big eyes and ink like hair and lovely teeth and one dimple. Albertina likes hair fuzzed all over faces and blonds. Then she said she guessed I wasn't your favorite, and that the gold spoons were most likely tin gilded over. I don't know what you think about slapping. Will you please write and say what you think? You know I am anxsuch to do well. But I think I know as much as Albertina about some things. She uster treat me like a dog, but it is most a year now since I saw her before.

"Well, here we are, Aunt Gertrude and me, too. Grandpa did not like her at first. She looked so much like summer folks, and acted that way, too. He does not agree with summer folks, but she got him talking about foreign parts and that Spanish girl that made eyes at him, and nearly got him away from Grandma, and the time they were wrecked going around the horn, and showing her dishes and carvings from China. Now he likes her first rate. She laughs all the time. Grandma likes her too, but not when Grandpa tells her about that girl in Spain.

"We eat in the dining-room, and have lovely food, only Grandpa does not like it, but we have him a pie now for breakfast,—his own pie that he can eat from all the time and he feels better. Aunt Gertrude is happy seeing him eat it for breakfast and claps her hands when he does it, only he doesn't see her.

"She is teaching me more manners, and to swim, and some French. It is vacation and I don't have regular lessons, the way I did while we were on Long Island.

"Didn't we have a good time in that hotel? Do you remember the night I stayed up till ten o'clock and we sat on the beach and talked? I do. I love you very much. I think it is nice to love anybody. Only I miss you. I would miss you more if I believed what Albertina said about my not being your favorite. I am.

"I wish you could come down here. Uncle Jimmie is coming and then I don't know what Albertina will say.

"About teaching me. Aunt Gertrude's idea of getting me cultivated is to read to me from the great Masters of literature and funny books too, like Mark Twain and the Nonsense Thology. Then I say what I think of them, and she just lets me develop along those lines, which is pretty good for summer.

"Here is a poem I wrote. I love you best.

"The sun and wind are on the sea, The waves are clear and blue, This is the place I like to be, If I could just have you.

"The insects chirrup in the grass, The birds sing in the tree, And oh! how quick the time would pass If you were here with me."

"What do you think of slapping, Aunt Gertrude?" Eleanor asked one evening when they were walking along the hard beach that the receding tide had left cool and firm for their pathway, and the early moon had illumined for them. "Do you think it's awfully bad to slap any one?"

"I wouldn't slap you, if that's what you mean, Eleanor."

"Would you slap somebody your own size and a little bigger?"

"I might under extreme provocation."

"I thought perhaps you would," Eleanor sighed with a gasp of relieved satisfaction.

"I don't believe in moral suasion entirely, Eleanor," Gertrude tried to follow Eleanor's leads, until she had in some way satisfied the child's need for enlightenment on the subject under discussion. It was not always simple to discover just what Eleanor wanted to know, but Gertrude had come to believe that there was always some excellent reason for her wanting to know it. "I think there are some quarrels that have to be settled by physical violence."

Eleanor nodded. Then,

"What about refinement?" she asked unexpectedly. "I want to bring myself up good when—when all of my aunts and uncles are too busy, or don't know. I want to grow up, and be ladylike and a credit, and I'm getting such good culture that I think I ought to, but—I get worried about my refinement. City refinement is different from country refinement."

"Refinement isn't a thing that you can worry about," Gertrude began slowly. She realized perhaps better than any of the others, being a better balanced, healthier creature than either Beulah or Margaret, that there were serious defects in the scheme of cooperative parentage. Eleanor, thanks to the overconscientious digging about her roots, was acquiring a New England self-consciousness about her processes. A child, Gertrude felt, should be handed a code ready made and should be guided by it without question until his maturer experience led him to modify it. The trouble with trying to explain this to Eleanor was that she had already had too many things explained to her, and the doctrine of unselfconsciousness can not be inculcated by an exploitation of it. "If you are naturally a fine person your instinct will be to do the fine thing. You must follow it when you feel the instinct and not think about it between times."

"That's Uncle Peter's idea," Eleanor said, "that not thinking. Well, I'll try—but you and Uncle Peter didn't have six different parents and a Grandpa and Grandma and Albertina all criticizing your refinement in different ways. Don't you ever have any trouble with your behavior, Aunt Gertrude?"

Gertrude laughed. The truth was that she was having considerable trouble with her behavior since Jimmie's arrival two days before. She had thought to spend her two months with Eleanor on Cape Cod helping the child to relate her new environment to her old, while she had the benefit of her native air and the freedom of a rural summer. She also felt that one of their number ought to have a working knowledge of Eleanor's early surroundings and habits. She had meant to put herself and her own concerns entirely aside. If she had a thought for any one but Eleanor she meant it to be for the two old people whose guest she had constituted herself. She explained all this to Jimmie a day or two before her departure, and to her surprise he had suggested that he spend his own two vacation weeks watching the progress of her experiment. Before she was quite sure of the wisdom of allowing him to do so she had given him permission to come. Jimmie was part of her trouble. Her craving for isolation and undiscovered country; her eagerness to escape with her charge to some spot where she would not be subjected to any sort of familiar surveillance, were all a part of an instinct to segregate herself long enough to work out the problem of Jimmie and decide what to do about it. This she realized as soon as he arrived on the spot. She realized further that she had made practically no progress in the matter, for this curly headed young man, bearing no relation to anything that Gertrude had decided a young man should be, was rapidly becoming a serious menace to her peace of mind, and her ideal of a future lived for art alone. She had definitely begun to realize this on the night when Jimmie, in his exuberance at securing his new job, had seized her about the waist and kissed her on the lips. She had thought a good deal about that kiss, which came dangerously near being her first one. She was too clever, too cool and aloof, to have had many tentative love-affairs. Later, as she softened and warmed and gathered grace with the years she was likely to seem more alluring and approachable to the gregarious male. Now she answered her small interlocutor truthfully.

"Yes, Eleanor, I do have a whole lot of trouble with my behavior. I'm having trouble with it today, and this evening," she glanced up at the moon, which was seemingly throwing out conscious waves of effulgence, "I expect to have more," she confessed.

"Oh! do you?" asked Eleanor, "I'm sorry I can't sit up with you then and help you. You—you don't expect to be—provocated to slap anybody, do you?"

"No, I don't, but as things are going I almost wish I did," Gertrude answered, not realizing that before the evening was over there would be one person whom she would be ruefully willing to slap several times over.

As they turned into the village street from the beach road they met Jimmie, who had been having his after-dinner pipe with Grandfather Amos, with whom he had become a prime favorite. With him was Albertina, toeing out more than ever and conversing more than blandly.

"This virtuous child has been urging me to come after Eleanor and remind her that it is bedtime," Jimmie said, indicating the pink gingham clad figure at his side. "She argues that Eleanor is some six months younger than she and ought to be in bed first, and personally she has got to go in the next fifteen minutes."

"It's pretty hot weather to go to bed in," Albertina said. "Miss Sturgis, if I can get my mother to let me stay up half an hour more, will you let Eleanor stay up?"

Just beyond her friend, in the shadow of her ample back, Eleanor was making gestures intended to convey the fact that sitting up any longer was abhorrent to her.

"Eleanor needs her sleep to-night, I think," Gertrude answered, professionally maternal.

"I brought Albertina so that our child might go home under convoy, while you and I were walking on the beach," Jimmie suggested.

As the two little girls fell into step, the beginning of their conversation drifted back to the other two, who stood watching them for a moment.

"I thought I'd come over to see if you was willing to say you were sorry," Albertina began. "My face stayed red in one spot for two hours that day after you slapped me."

"I'm not sorry," Eleanor said ungraciously, "but I'll say that I am, if you've come to make up."

"Well, we won't say any more about it then," Albertina conceded. "Are Miss Sturgis and Mr. Sears going together, or are they just friends?"

"Isn't that Albertina one the limit?" Jimmie inquired, with a piloting hand under Gertrude's elbow. "She told me that she and Eleanor were mad, but she didn't want to stay mad because there was more going on over here than there was at her house and she liked to come over."

"I'm glad Eleanor slapped her," Gertrude said; "still I'm sorry our little girl has uncovered the clay feet of her idol. She's through with Albertina for good."

"Do you know, Gertrude," Jimmy said, as they set foot on the glimmering beach, "you don't seem a bit natural lately. You used to be so full of the everlasting mischief. Every time you opened your mouth I dodged for fear of being spiked. Yet here you are just as docile as other folks."

"Don't you like me—as well?" Gertrude tried her best to make her voice sound as usual.

"Better," Jimmie swore promptly; then he added a qualifying—"I guess."

"Don't you know?" But she didn't allow him the opportunity to answer. "I'm in a transition period, Jimmie," she said. "I meant to be such a good parent to Eleanor and correct all the evil ways into which she has fallen as a result of all her other injudicious training, and, instead of that, I'm doing nothing but think of myself and my own hankerings and yearnings and such. I thought I could do so much for the child."

"That's the way we all think till we tackle her and then we find it quite otherwise and even more so. Tell me about your hankerings and yearnings."

"Tell me about your job, Jimmie."

And for a little while they found themselves on safe and familiar ground again. Jimmie's new position was a very satisfactory one. He found himself associated with men of solidity and discernment, and for the first time in his business career he felt himself appreciated and stimulated by that appreciation to do his not inconsiderable best. Gertrude was the one woman—Eleanor had not yet attained the inches for that classification—to whom he ever talked business.

"Now, at last, I feel that I've got my feet on the earth, Gertrude; as if the stuff that was in me had a chance to show itself, and you don't know what a good feeling that is after you've been marked trash by your family and thrown into the dust heap."

"I'm awfully glad, Jimmie."

"I know you are, 'Trude. You're an awfully good pal. It isn't everybody I'd talk to like this. Let's sit down."

The moonlight beat down upon them in floods of sentient palpitating glory. Little breathy waves sought the shore and whispered to it. The pines on the breast of the bank stirred softly and tenderly.

"Lord, what a night," Jimmie said, and began burying her little white hand in the beach sand. His breath was not coming quite evenly. "Now tell me about your job," he said.

"I don't think I want to talk about my job tonight."

"What do you want to talk about?"

"I don't know." There was no question about her voice sounding as usual this time.

Jimmie brushed the sand slowly away from the buried hand and covered it with his own. He drew nearer, his face close, and closer to hers. Gertrude closed her eyes. It was coming, it was coming and she was glad. That silly old vow of celibacy, her silly old thoughts about art. What was art? What was anything with the arms of the man you loved closing about you. His lips were on hers.

Jimmie drew a sharp breath, and let her go.

"Gertrude," he said, "I'm incorrigible. I ought to be spanked. I'd make love to—Eleanor's grandmother if I had her down here on a night like this. Will you forgive me?"

Gertrude got to her feet a little unsteadily, but she managed a smile.

"It's only the moon," she said, "and—and young blood. I think Grandfather Amos would probably affect me the same way."

Jimmie's momentary expression of blankness passed and Gertrude did not press her advantage. They walked home in silence.

"It's awfully companionable to realize that you also are human, 'Trude," he hazarded on the doorstep.

Gertrude put a still hand into his, which is a way of saying "Good night," that may be more formal than any other.

"The Colonel's lady, and July O'Grady," she quoted lightly. "Good night, Jimmie."

Up-stairs in her great chamber under the eaves, Eleanor was composing a poem which she copied carefully on a light blue page of her private diary. It read as follows:

"To love, it is the saddest thing, When friendship proves unfit, For lots of sadness it will bring, When e'er you think of it.

Alas! that friends should prove untrue And disappoint you so. Because you don't know what to do, And hardly where to go."



CHAPTER XII

MADAM BOLLING

"Is this the child, David?"

"Yes, mother."

Eleanor stared impassively into the lenses of Mrs. Bolling's lorgnette.

"This is my mother, Eleanor."

Eleanor courtesied as her Uncle Jimmie had taught her, but she did not take her eyes from Mrs. Bolling's face.

"Not a bad-looking child. I hate this American fashion of dressing children like French dolls, in bright colors and smart lines. The English are so much more sensible. An English country child would have cheeks as red as apples. How old are you?"

"Eleven years old my next birthday."

"I should have thought her younger, David. Have her call me madam. It sounds better."

"Very well, mother. I'll teach her the ropes when the strangeness begins to wear off. This kind of thing is all new to her, you know."

"She looks it. Give her the blue chamber and tell Mademoiselle to take charge of her. You say you want her to have lessons for so many hours a day. Has she brains?"

"She's quite clever. She writes verses, she models pretty well, Gertrude says. It's too soon to expect any special aptitude to develop."

"Well, I'm glad to discover your philanthropic tendencies, David. I never knew you had any before, but this seems to me a very doubtful undertaking. You take a child like this from very plain surroundings and give her a year or two of life among cultivated and well-to-do people, just enough for her to acquire a taste for extravagant living and associations. Then what becomes of her? You get tired of your bargain. Something else comes on the docket. You marry—and then what becomes of your protegee? She goes back to the country, a thoroughly unsatisfied little rustic, quite unfitted to be the wife of the farmer for whom fate intended her."

"I wish you wouldn't, mother," David said, with an uneasy glance at Eleanor's pale face, set in the stoic lines he remembered so well from the afternoon of his first impression of her. "She's a sensitive little creature."

"Nonsense. It never hurts anybody to have a plain understanding of his position in the world. I don't know what foolishness you romantic young people may have filled her head with. It's just as well she should hear common sense from me and I intend that she shall."

"I've explained to you, mother, that this child is my legal and moral responsibility and will be partly at least under my care until she becomes of age. I want her to be treated as you'd treat a child of mine if I had one. If you don't, I can't have her visit us again. I shall take her away with me somewhere. Bringing her home to you this time is only an experiment."

"She'll have a much more healthful and normal experience with us than she's had with any of the rest of your violent young set, I'll be bound. She'll probably be useful, too. She can look out for Zaidee—I never say that name without irritation—but it's the only name the little beast will answer to. Do you like dogs, child?"

Eleanor started at the suddenness of the question, but did not reply to it. Mrs. Bolling waited and David looked at her expectantly.

"My mother asked you if you liked dogs, Eleanor; didn't you understand?"

Eleanor opened her lips as if to speak and then shut them again firmly.

"Your protegee is slightly deaf, David," his mother assured him.

"You can tell her 'yes,'" Eleanor said unexpectedly to David. "I like dogs, if they ain't treacherous."

"She asked you the question," David said gravely; "this is her house, you know. It is she who deserves consideration in it."

"Why can't I talk to you about her, the way she does about me?" Eleanor demanded. "She can have consideration if she wants it, but she doesn't think I'm any account. Let her ask you what she wants and I'll tell you."

"Eleanor," David remonstrated, "Eleanor, you never behaved like this before. I don't know what's got into her, mother."

"She merely hasn't any manners. Why should she have?"

Eleanor fixed her big blue eyes on the lorgnette again.

"If it's manners to talk the way you do to your own children and strange little girls, why, then I don't want any," she said. "I guess I'll be going," she added abruptly and turned toward the door.

David took her by the shoulders and brought her right about face.

"Say good-by to mother," he said sternly.

"Good-by, ma'am—madam," Eleanor said and courtesied primly.

"Tell Mademoiselle to teach her a few things before the next audience, David, and come back to me in fifteen minutes. I have something important to talk over with you."

David stood by the open door of the blue chamber half an hour later and watched Eleanor on her knees, repacking her suit-case. Her face was set in pale determined lines, and she looked older and a little sick. Outside it was blowing a September gale, and the trees were waving desperate branches in the wind. David had thought that the estate on the Hudson would appeal to the little girl. It had always appealed to him so much, even though his mother's habits of migration with the others of her flock at the different seasons had left him so comparatively few associations with it. He had thought she would like the broad sweeping lawns and the cherubim fountain, the apple orchard and the kitchen garden, and the funny old bronze dog at the end of the box hedge. When he saw how she was occupied, he understood that it was not her intention to stay and explore these things.

"Eleanor," he said, stepping into the room suddenly, "what are you doing with your suit-case? Didn't Mademoiselle unpack it for you?" He was close enough now to see the signs of tears she had shed.

"Yes, Uncle David."

"Why are you packing it again?"

Her eyes fell and she tried desperately to control a quivering lip.

"Because I am—I want to go back."

"Back where?"

"To Cape Cod."

"Why, Eleanor?"

"I ain't wanted," she said, her head low. "I made up my mind to go back to my own folks. I'm not going to be adopted any more."

David led her to the deep window-seat and made her sit facing him. He was too wise to attempt a caress with this issue between them.

"Do you think that's altogether fair to me?" he asked presently.

"I guess it won't make much difference to you. Something else will come along."

"Do you think it will be fair to your other aunts and uncles who have given so much care and thought to your welfare?"

"They'll get tired of their bargain."

"If they do get tired of their bargain it will be because they've turned out to be very poor sports. I've known every one of them a long time, and I've never known them to show any signs of poor sportsmanship yet. If you run away without giving them their chance to make good, it will be you who are the poor sport."

"She said you would marry and get tired of me, and I would have to go back to the country. If you marry and Uncle Jimmie marries—then Uncle Peter will marry, and—"

"You'd still have your Aunts Beulah and Margaret and Gertrude," David could not resist making the suggestion.

"They could do it, too. If one person broke up the vow, I guess they all would. Misfortunes never come singly."

"But even if we did, Eleanor, even if we all married, we'd still regard you as our own, our child, our charge."

"She said you wouldn't." The tears came now, and David gathered the little shaking figure to his breast. "I don't want to be the wife of the farmer for whom fate intended me," she sobbed. "I want to marry somebody refined with extravagant living and associations."

"That's one of the things we are bringing you up for, my dear." This aspect of the case occurred to David for the first time, but he realized its potency. "You mustn't take mother too seriously. Just jolly her along a little and you'll soon get to be famous friends. She's never had any little girls of her own, only my brother and me, and she doesn't know quite how to talk to them."

"The Hutchinsons had a hired butler and gold spoons, and they didn't think I was the dust beneath their feet. I don't know what to say to her. I said ain't, and I wasn't refined, and I'll only just be a disgrace to you. I'd rather go back to Cape Cod, and go out to work, and stand Albertina and everything."

"If you think it's the square thing to do," David said slowly, "you may go, Eleanor. I'll take you to New York to-morrow and get one of the girls to take you to Colhassett. Of course, if you do that it will put me in rather an awkward position. The others have all had you for two months and made good on the proposition. I shall have to admit that I couldn't even keep you with me twenty-four hours. Peter and Jimmie got along all right, but I couldn't handle you at all. As a cooperative parent, I'm such a failure that the whole experiment goes to pieces through me."

"Not you—her."

"Well, it's the same thing,—you couldn't stand the surroundings I brought you to. You couldn't even be polite to my mother for my sake."

"I—never thought of that, Uncle David."

"Think of it now for a few minutes, won't you, Eleanor?"

The rain was beginning to lash the windows, and to sweep the lawn in long slant strokes. The little girl held up her face as if it could beat through the panes on it.

"I thought," she said slowly, "that after Albertina I wouldn't take anything from anybody. Uncle Peter says that I'm just as good as anybody, even if I have been out to work. He said that all I had to do was just to stand up to people."

"There are a good many different ways of standing up to people, Eleanor. Be sure you've got the right way and then go ahead."

"I guess I ought to have been politer," Eleanor said slowly. "I ought to have thought that she was your own mother. You couldn't help the way she acted, o' course."

"The way you acted is the point, Eleanor."

Eleanor reflected.

"I'll act different if you want me to, Uncle David," she said, "and I won't go and leave you."

"That's my brave girl. I don't think that I altogether cover myself with glory in an interview with my mother," he added. "It isn't the thing that I'm best at, I admit."

"You did pretty good," Eleanor consoled him. "I guess she makes you kind of bashful the way she does me," from which David gathered with an odd sense of shock that Eleanor felt there was something to criticize in his conduct, if she had permitted herself to look for it.

"I know what I'll do," Eleanor decided dreamily with her nose against the pane. "I'll just pretend that she's Mrs. O'Farrel's aunt, and then whatever she does, I shan't care. I'll know that I'm the strongest and could hit her if I had a mind to, and then I shan't want to."

David contemplated her gravely for several seconds.

"By the time you grow up, Eleanor," he said finally, "you will have developed all your cooperative parents into fine strong characters. Your educational methods are wonderful."

* * * * *

"The dog got nearly drownded today in the founting," Eleanor wrote. "It is a very little dog about the size of Gwendolyn. It was out with Mademoiselle, and so was I, learning French on a garden seat. It teetered around on the edge of the big wash basin—the founting looks like a wash basin, and suddenly it fell in. I waded right in and got it, but it slipped around so I couldn't get it right away. It looked almost too dead to come to again, but I gave it first aid to the drownded the way Uncle Jimmie taught me to practicing on Gwendolyn. When I got it fixed I looked up and saw Uncle David's mother coming. I took the dog and gave it to her. I said, 'Madam, here's your dog.' Mademoiselle ran around ringing her hands and talking about it. Then I went up to Mrs. Bolling's room, and we talked. I told her how to make mustard pickles, and how my mother's grandpa's relation came over in the Mayflower, and about our single white lilac bush, and she's going to get one and make the pickles. Then I played double Canfield with her for a while. I'm glad I didn't go home before I knew her better. When she acts like Mrs. O'Farrel's aunt I pretend she is her, and we don't quarrel. She says does Uncle David go much to see Aunt Beulah, and I say, not so often as Uncle Jimmie does. Then she says does he go to see Aunt Margaret, and I say that he goes to see Uncle Peter the most. Well, if he doesn't he almost does. You can't tell Mrs. Madam Bolling that you won't tattle, because she would think the worst."

* * * * *

Eleanor grew to like Mademoiselle. She was the aging, rather wry faced Frenchwoman who had been David's young brother's governess and had made herself so useful to Mrs. Bolling that she was kept always on the place, half companion and half resident housekeeper. She was glad to have a child in charge again, and Eleanor soon found that her crooked features and severe high-shouldered back that had somewhat intimidated her at first, actually belonged to one of the kindest hearted creatures in the world.

Paris and Colhassett bore very little resemblance to each other, the two discovered. To be sure there were red geraniums every alternating year in the gardens of the Louvre, and every year in front of the Sunshine Library in Colhassett. The residents of both places did a great deal of driving in fine weather. In Colhassett they drove on the state highway, recently macadamized to the dismay of the taxpayers who did not own horses or automobiles. In Paris they drove out to the Bois by way of the Champs Elysees. In Colhassett they had only one ice-cream saloon, but in Paris they had a good many of them out-of-doors in the parks and even on the sidewalk, and there you could buy all kinds of sirups and 'what you call cordials' and aperitifs; but the two places on the whole were quite different. The people were different, too. The people of Colhassett were all religious and thought it was sinful to play cards on Sundays. Mademoiselle said she always felt wicked when she played them on a week day.

"I think of my mother," she said; "she would say 'Juliette, what will you say to the Lord when he knows that you have been playing cards on a working day. Playing cards is for Sunday.'"

"The Lord that they have in Colhassett is not like that," Eleanor stated without conscious irreverence.

"She is a vary fonny child, madam," Mademoiselle answered Mrs. Bolling's inquiry. "She has taste, but no—experience even of the most ordinary. She cooks, but she does no embroidery. She knits and knows no games to play. She has a good brain, but Mon Dieu, no one has taught her to ask questions with it."

"She has had lessons this year from some young Rogers graduates, very intelligent girls. I should think a year of that kind of training would have had its effect." Mrs. Bolling's finger went into every pie in her vicinity with unfailing direction.

"Lessons, yes, but no teaching. If she were not vary intelligent I think she would have suffered for it. The public schools they did somesing, but so little to elevate—to encourage."

Thus in a breath were Beulah's efforts as an educator disposed of.

"Would you like to undertake the teaching of that child for a year?" Mrs. Bolling asked thoughtfully.

"Oh! but yes, madam."

"I think I'll make the offer to David."

Mrs. Bolling was unsympathetic but she was thorough. She liked to see things properly done. Since David and his young friends had undertaken a venture so absurd, she decided to lend them a helping hand with it. Besides, now that she had no children of her own in the house, Mademoiselle was practically eating her head off. Also it had developed that David was fond of the child, so fond of her that to oppose that affection would have been bad policy, and Mrs. Bolling was politic when she chose to be. She chose to be politic now, for sometime during the season she was going to ask a very great favor of David, and she hoped, that by first being extraordinarily complaisant and kind and then by bringing considerable pressure to bear upon him, he would finally do what he was asked. The favor was to provide himself with a father-in-law, and that father-in-law the multi-millionaire parent of the raven-haired, crafty-eyed ingenue, who had begun angling for him that June night at the country club.

She made the suggestion to David on the eve of the arrival of all of Eleanor's guardians for the week-end. Mrs. Bolling had invited a house-party comprised of the associated parents as a part of her policy of kindness before the actual summoning of her forces for the campaign she was about to inaugurate.

David was really touched by his mother's generosity concerning Eleanor. He had been agreeably surprised at the development of the situation between the child and his mother. He had been obliged to go into town the day after Eleanor's first unfortunate encounter with her hostess, and had hurried home in fear and trembling to try to smooth out any tangles in the skein of their relationship that might have resulted from a day in each other's vicinity. After hurrying over the house and through the grounds in search of her he finally discovered the child companionably currying a damp and afflicted Pekinese in his mother's sitting-room, and engaged in a grave discussion of the relative merits of molasses and sugar as a sweetening for Boston baked beans.

It was while they were having their after-dinner coffee in the library, for which Eleanor had been allowed to come down, though nursery supper was the order of the day in the Bolling establishment, that David told his friends of his mother's offer.

"Of course, we decided to send her to school when she was twelve anyway," he said. "The idea was to keep her among ourselves for two years to establish the parental tie, or ties I should say. If she is quartered here with Mademoiselle we could still keep in touch with her and she would be having the advantage of a year's steady tuition under one person, and we'd be relieved—" a warning glance from Margaret, with an almost imperceptible inclination of her head in the direction of Beulah, caused him to modify the end of his sentence—"of the responsibility—for her physical welfare."

"Mentally and morally," Gertrude cut in, "the bunch would still supervise her entirely."

Jimmie, who was sitting beside her, ran his arm along the back of her chair affectionately, and then thought better of it and drew it away. He was, for some unaccountable reason, feeling awkward and not like himself. There was a girl in New York, with whom he was not in the least in love, who had recently taken it upon herself to demonstrate unmistakably that she was not in love with him. There was another girl who insisted on his writing her every day. Here was Gertrude, who never had any time for him any more, absolutely without enthusiasm at his proximity. He thought it would be a good idea to allow Eleanor to remain where she was and said so.

"Not that I won't miss the jolly times we had together, Babe," he said. "I was planning some real rackets this year,—to make up for what I put you through," he added in her ear, as she came and stood beside him for a minute.

Gertrude wanted to go abroad for a year, "and lick her wounds," as she told herself. She would have come back for her two months with Eleanor, but she was glad to be relieved of that necessity. Margaret had the secret feeling that the ordeal of the Hutchinsons was one that she would like to spare her foster child, and incidentally herself in relation to the adjustment of conditions necessary to Eleanor's visit. Peter wanted her with him, but he believed the new arrangement would be better for the child. Beulah alone held out for her rights and her parental privileges. The decision was finally left to Eleanor.

She stood in the center of the group a little forlornly while they awaited her word. A wave of her old shyness overtook her and she blushed hot and crimson.

"It's all in your own hands, dear," Beulah said briskly.

"Poor kiddie," Gertrude thought, "it's all wrong somehow."

"I don't know what you want me to say," Eleanor said piteously and sped to the haven of Peter's breast.

"We'll manage a month together anyway," Peter whispered.

"Then I guess I'll stay here," she whispered back, "because next I would have to go to Aunt Beulah's."

Peter, turning involuntarily in Beulah's direction, saw the look of chagrin and disappointment on her face, and realized how much she minded playing a losing part in the game and yet how well she was doing it. "She's only a straight-laced kid after all," he thought. "She's put her whole heart and soul into this thing. There's a look about the top part of her face when it's softened that's a little like Ellen's." Ellen was his dead fiancee—the girl in the photograph at home in his desk.

"I guess I'll stay here," Eleanor said aloud, "all in one place, and study with Mademoiselle."

It was a decision that, on the whole, she never regretted.



CHAPTER XIII

BROOK AND RIVER

"Standing with reluctant feet, Where the brook and river meet."

"I think it's a good plan to put a quotation like Kipling at the top of the page whenever I write anything in this diary," Eleanor began in the smart leather bound book with her initials stamped in black on the red cover—the new private diary that had been Peter's gift to her on the occasion of her fifteenth birthday some months before. "I think it is a very expressive thing to do. The quotation above is one that expresses me, and I think it is beautiful too. Miss Hadley—that's my English teacher—the girls call her Haddock because she does look rather like a fish—says that it's undoubtedly one of the most poignant descriptions of adolescent womanhood ever made. I made a note to look up adolescent, but didn't. Bertha Stephens has my dictionary, and won't bring it back because the leaves are all stuck together with fudge, and she thinks she ought to buy me a new one. It is very honorable of her to feel that way, but she never will. Good old Stevie, she's a great borrower.

"'Neither a borrower nor a lender be, For borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.' "Shakespeare.

"Well, I hardly know where to begin. I thought I would make a resume of some of the events of the last year. I was only fourteen then, but still I did a great many things that might be of interest to me in my declining years when I look back into the annals of this book. To begin with I was only a freshie at Harmon. It is very different to be a sophomore. I can hardly believe that I was once a shivering looking little thing like all the freshmen that came in this year. I was very frightened, but did not think I showed it.

"'Oh! wad some power the giftie gie us, To see ourselves as others see us.'

"Robert Burns had twins and a rather bad character, but after he met his bonnie Jean he wrote very beautiful poetry. A poet's life is usually sad anyhow—full of disappointment and pain—but I digress.

"I had two years with Mademoiselle at the Bollings' instead of one the way we planned. I haven't written in my Private Diary since the night of that momentous decision that I was to stay in one place instead of taking turns visiting my cooperative parents. I went to another school one year before I came to Harmon, and that brings me to the threshold of my fourteenth year. If I try to go back any farther, I'll never catch up. I spent that vacation with Aunt Margaret in a cottage on Long Island with her sister, and her sister's boy, who has grown up to be the silly kind that wants to kiss you and pull your hair, and those things. Aunt Margaret is so lovely I can't think of words to express it. 'Oh! rare pale Margaret,' as Tennyson says. She wears her hair in a coronet braid around the top of her head, and all her clothes are the color of violets or a soft dovey gray or white, though baby blue looks nice on her especially when she wears a fishyou.

"I went down to Cape Cod for a week before I came to Harmon, and while I was there my grandmother died. I can't write about that in this diary. I loved my grandmother and my grandmother loved me. Uncle Peter came, and took charge of everything. He has great strength that holds you up in trouble.

"The first day I came to Harmon I saw the girl I wanted for my best friend, and so we roomed together, and have done so ever since. Her name is Margaret Louise Hodges, but she is called Maggie Lou by every one. She has dark curly hair, and deep brown eyes, and a very silvery voice. I have found out that she lies some, but she says it is because she had such an unhappy childhood, and has promised to overcome it for my sake.

"That Christmas vacation the 'We Are Sevens' went up the Hudson to the Bollings' again, but that was the last time they ever went there. Uncle David and his mother had a terrible fight over them. I was sorry for Madam Bolling in a way. There was a girl she wanted Uncle David to marry, a rich girl who looked something like Cleopatra, very dark complexioned with burning eyes. She had a sweet little Pekinese something like Zaidee.

"Uncle David said that gold could never buy him, and to take her away, but Madam Bolling was very angry, of course. She accused him of wanting to marry Aunt Margaret, and called her a characterless, faded blonde. Then it was Uncle David's turn to get angry, and I have never seen any one get any angrier, and he told about the vow of celibacy, and how instead of having designs on him the whole crowd would back him up in his struggle to stay single. It was an awful row. I told Madam Bolling that I would help her to get Uncle David back, and I did, but she never forgave the other aunts and uncles. I suppose the feelings of a mother would prompt her to want Uncle David settled down with a rich and fashionable girl who would soon be the mother of a lot of lovely children. I can't imagine a Cleopatra looking baby, but she might have boys that looked like Uncle David.

"Vacations are really about all there is to school. Freshman year is mostly grinding and stuffing. Having six parents to send you boxes of 'grub' is better than having only two. Some of the girls are rather selfish about the eats, and come in and help themselves boldly when you are out of the room. Maggie Lou puts up signs over the candy box: 'Closed for Repairs,' or 'No Trespassing by Order of the Board of Health,' but they don't pay much attention. Well, last summer vacation I spent with Uncle Jimmie. I wouldn't tell this, but I reformed him. I made him sign the pledge. I don't know what pledge it was because I didn't read it, but he said he was addicted to something worse than anything I could think of, and if somebody didn't pull him up, he wouldn't answer for the consequences. I asked him why he didn't choose Aunt Gertrude to do it, and he groaned only. So I said to write out a pledge, and sign it and I would be the witness. We were at a hotel with his brother's family. It isn't proper any more for me to go around with my uncles unless I have a chaperon. Mademoiselle says that I oughtn't even to go down-town alone with them but, of course, that is French etiquette, and not American. Well, there were lots of pretty girls at this hotel, all wearing white and pink dresses, and carrying big bell shaped parasols of bright colors. They looked sweet, like so many flowers, but Uncle Jimmie just about hated the sight of them. He said they were not girls at all, but just pink and white devices of the devil. On the whole he didn't act much like my merry uncle, but we had good times together playing tennis and golf, and going on parties with his brother's family, all mere children but the mother and father. Uncle Jimmie was afraid to go and get his mail all summer, although he had a great many letters on blue and lavender note paper scented with Roger et Gallet's violet, and Hudnut's carnation. We used to go down to the beach and make bonfires and burn them unread, and then toast marshmallows in their ashes. He said that they were communications from the spirits of the dead. I should have thought that they were from different girls, but he seemed to hate the sight of girls so much. Once I asked him if he had ever had an unhappy love-affair, just to see what he would say, but he replied 'no, they had all been happy ones,' and groaned and groaned.

"Aunt Beulah has changed too. She has become a suffragette and thinks only of getting women their rights and their privileges.

"Maggie Lou is an anti, and we have long arguments about the cause. She says that woman's place is in the home, but I say look at me, who have no home, how can I wash and bake and brew like the women of my grandfather's day, visiting around the way I do? And she says that it is the principle of the thing that is involved, and I ought to take a stand for or against. Everybody has so many different arguments that I don't know what I think yet, but some day I shall make up my mind for good.

"Well, that about brings me up to the present. I meant to describe a few things in detail, but I guess I will not begin on the past in that way. I don't get so awfully much time to write in this diary because of the many interruptions of school life, and the way the monitors snoop in study hours. I don't know who I am going to spend my Christmas holidays with. I sent Uncle Peter a poem three days ago, but he has not answered it yet. I'm afraid he thought it was very silly. I don't hardly know what it means myself. It goes as follows:

"A Song

"The moon is very pale to-night, The summer wind swings high, I seek the temple of delight, And feel my love draw nigh.

"I seem to feel his fragrant breath Upon my glowing cheek. Between us blows the wind of death,— I shall not hear him speak.

"I don't know why I like to write love poems, but most of the women poets did. This one made me cry."



CHAPTER XIV

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Margaret in mauve velvet and violets, and Gertrude in a frock of smart black and white were in the act of meeting by appointment at Sherry's one December afternoon, with a comfortable cup of tea in mind. Gertrude emerged from the recess of the revolving door and Margaret, sitting eagerly by the entrance, almost upset the attendant in her rush to her friend's side.

"Oh! Gertrude," she cried, "I'm so glad to see you. My family is trying to cut me up in neat little quarters and send me north, south, east and west, for the Christmas holidays, and I want to stay home and have Eleanor. How did I ever come to be born into a family of giants, tell me that, Gertrude?"

"The choice of parents is thrust upon us at an unfortunately immature period, I'll admit," Gertrude laughed. "My parents are dears, but they've never forgiven me for being an artist instead of a dubby bud. Shall we have tea right away or shall we sit down and discuss life?"

"Both," Margaret said. "I don't know which is the hungrier—flesh or spirit."

But as they turned toward the dining-room a familiar figure blocked their progress.

"I thought that was Gertrude's insatiable hat," David exclaimed delightedly. "I've phoned for you both until your families have given instructions that I'm not to be indulged any more. I've got a surprise for you.—Taxi," he said to the man at the door.

"Not till we've had our tea," Margaret wailed. "You couldn't be so cruel, David."

"You shall have your tea, my dear, and one of the happiest surprises of your life into the bargain," David assured her as he led the way to the waiting cab.

"I wouldn't leave this place unfed for anybody but you, David, not if it were ever so, and then some, as Jimmie says."

"What's the matter with Jimmie, anyhow?" David inquired as the taxi turned down the Avenue and immediately entangled itself in a hopeless mesh of traffic.

"I don't know; why?" Gertrude answered, though she had not been the one addressed at the moment. "What's the matter with this hat?" she rattled on without waiting for an answer. "I thought it was good-looking myself, and Madam Paran robbed me for it."

"It is good-looking," David allowed. "It seems to be a kind of retrieving hat, that's all. Keeps you in a rather constant state of looking after the game."

"What about my hat, David?" Margaret inquired anxiously. "Do you like that?"

"I do," David admitted. "I'm crazy about it. It's a lovely cross between the style affected by the late Emperor Napoleon and my august grandmother, with some frills added."

The chauffeur turned into a cross street and stopped abruptly before an imposing but apparently unguarded entrance.

"Why, I thought this was a studio building," Gertrude said. "David, if you're springing a tea party on us, and we in the wild ungovernable state we are at present, I'll shoot the way my hat is pointing."

"Straight through my left eye-glass," David finished. "You wait till you see the injustice you have done me."

But Margaret, who often understood what was happening a few moments before the revelation of it, clutched at his elbow.

"Oh! David, David," she whispered, "how wonderful!"

"Wait till you see," David said, and herded them into the elevator.

Their destination was the top floor but one. David hurried them around the bend in the sleekly carpeted corridor and touched the bell on the right of the first door they came to. It opened almost instantly and David's man, who was French, stood bowing and smiling on the threshold.

"Mr. Styvvisont has arrive'," he said; "he waits you."

"Welcome to our city," Peter cried, appearing in the doorway of the room Alphonse was indicating with that high gesture of delight with which only a Frenchman can lead the way. "Jimmie's coming up from the office and Beulah's due any minute. What do you think of the place, girls?"

"Is it really yours, David?"

"Surest thing you know." He grinned like a schoolboy. "It's really ours, that's what it is. I've broken away from the mater at last," he added a little sheepishly. "I'm going to work seriously. I've got an all-day desk job in my uncle's office and I'm going to dig in and see what I can make of myself. Also, this is going to be our headquarters, and Eleanor's permanent home if we're all agreed upon it,—but look around, ladies. Don't spare my blushes. If you think I can interior decorate, just tell me so frankly. This is the living-room."

"It's like that old conundrum—black and white and red all over," Gertrude said. "I never saw anything so stunning in all my life."

"Gosh! I admire your nerve," Peter cried, "papering this place in white, and then getting in all this heavy carved black stuff, and the red in the tapestries and screens and pillows."

"I wanted it to look studioish a little," David explained, "I wanted to get away from Louis Quartorze."

"And drawing-rooms like mother used to make," Gertrude suggested. "I like your Oriental touches. Do you see, Margaret, everything is Indian or Chinese? The ubiquitous Japanese print is conspicuous by its absence."

"I've got two portfolios full of 'em," David said, "and I always have one or two up in the bedrooms. I change 'em around, you know, the way the Japs do themselves, a different scene every few days and the rest decently out of sight till you're ready for 'em."

"It's like a fairy story," Margaret said.

"I thought you'd appreciate what little Arabian Nights I was able to introduce. I bought that screen," he indicated a sweep of Chinese line and color, "with my eye on you, and that Aladdin's lamp is yours, of course. You're to come in here and rub it whenever you like, and your heart's desire will instantly be vouchsafed to you."

"What will Eleanor say?" Peter suggested, as David led the way through the corridor and up the tiny stairs which led to the more intricate part of the establishment. "This is her room, didn't you say, David?" He paused on the threshold of a bedroom done in ivory white and yellow, with all its hangings of a soft golden silk.

"She once said that she wanted a yellow room," David said, "a daffy-down-dilly room, and I've tried to get her one. I know last year that Maggie Lou child refused to have yellow curtains in that flatiron shaped sitting-room of theirs, and Eleanor refused to be comforted."

A wild whoop in the below stairs announced Jimmie; and Beulah arrived simultaneously with the tea tray. Jimmie was ecstatic when the actual function of the place was explained to him.

"Headquarters is the one thing we've lacked," he said; "a place of our own, hully gee! It makes me feel almost human again."

"You haven't been feeling altogether human lately, have you, Jimmie?" Margaret asked over her tea cup.

"No, dear, I haven't." Jimmie flashed her a grateful smile. "I'm a bad egg," he explained to her darkly, "and the only thing you can do with me is to scramble me."

"Scrambled is just about the way I should have described your behavior of late,—but that's Gertrude's line," David said. "Only she doesn't seem to be taking an active part in the conversation. Aren't you Jimmie's keeper any more, Gertrude?"

"Not since she's come back from abroad," Jimmie muttered without looking at her.

"Eleanor's taken the job over now," Peter said. "She's made him swear off red ink and red neckties."

"Any color so long's it's red is the color that suits me best," Jimmie quoted. "Lord, isn't this room a pippin?" He swam in among the bright pillows of the divan and so hid his face for a moment. It had been a good many weeks since he had seen Gertrude.

"I want to give a suffrage tea here," Beulah broke in suddenly. "It's so central, but I don't suppose David would hear of it."

"Angels and Ministers of Grace defend us—" Peter began.

"My mother would hear of it," David said, "and then there wouldn't be any little studio any more. She doesn't believe in votes for women."

"How any woman in this day and age—" Beulah began, and thought better of it, since she was discussing Mrs. Bolling.

"Makes your blood boil, doesn't it—Beulahland?" Gertrude suggested helpfully, reaching for the tea cakes. "Never mind, I'll vote for women. I'll march in your old peerade."

"The Lord helps those that help themselves," Peter said, "that's why Gertrude is a suffragist. She believes in helping herself, in every sense, don't you, 'Trude?"

"Not quite in every sense," Gertrude said gravely. "Sometimes I feel like that girl that Margaret describes as caught in a horrid way between two generations. I'm neither old-fashioned nor modern."

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