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Where There's A Will
by Mary Roberts Rinehart
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"I'm not going to smoke yet, young woman," he said, glaring at her. But she only smiled.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I've been waiting hungrily until some discriminating smoker would buy one of those and light it. I love the aroma."

And he stood there for thirty minutes, standing mostly on one foot on account of the gouty one, puffing like a locomotive, with her sniffing at the aroma and telling him how lonely she felt with no friends around and just recovering from a severe illness.

At eight o'clock he had Mrs. Hutchins bring him his fur-lined coat and he and Miss Julia took Arabella, the dog, for a walk on the veranda!

The rest of the evening was quiet, and I needed it. Miss Patty and Mr. von Inwald talked by the fire and I think he told her something—not all—of the scene in the spring-house. For she passed Mr. Pierce at the foot of the stairs on her way up for the night and she pretended not to see him. He stood there looking up after her with his mouth set, and at the turn she glanced down and caught his eye. I thought she flushed, but I wasn't sure, and at that minute Senator Biggs bought three twenty-five-cent cigars and told me to keep the change from a dollar. I was so surprised at the alteration in him that I forgot Miss Patty entirely.

About twelve o'clock, just after I went to my room, somebody knocked at the door. When I opened, the new doctor was standing in the hall.

"I'm sorry to disturb you," he said, "but nobody seems to know where the pharmacy clerk is and I'll have to get some medicine."

"If I'd had my way, we'd have had a bell on that pharmacy clerk long ago," I snapped, getting my keys. "Who's sick?"

"The big man," he replied. "Biggs is his name, I think, a senator or something."

I was leading the way to the stairs, but I stopped. "I might have known it," I said. "He hasn't been natural all evening. What's the matter with him? Too much fast?"

"Fast!" He laughed. "Too much feast! He's got as pretty a case of indigestion as I've seen for some time. He's giving a demonstration that's almost theatrical."

Well, he insisted it was indigestion, although I argued that it wasn't possible, and he wanted ipecac.

"I haven't seen a pharmacopoeia for so long that I wouldn't know one if I met it," he declared, "but I've got a system of mnemonics that never fails. Ipecac and colic both end with 'c'—I'll never forget that conjunction. It was pounded in and poured in in my early youth."

Well, the pharmacy was locked, and we couldn't find a key to fit it. And when I suggested mustard and warm water he jumped at the idea.

"Fine!" he said. "Better let me dish out the spring-water and you take my job! Lead on, MacDuff, to the kitchen."

Although it was only midnight there was not a soul about. A hall leads back of the office to the kitchen and pantries, and there was a low light there, but the rest was dark. We bumped through the diet kitchen and into the scullery, when we found we had no matches. I went back for some, and when I got as far as the diet kitchen again Doctor Barnes was there, just inside the door.

"Sh!" he whispered. "Come into the scullery. The kitchen is dark, but there is somebody in there, fumbling around, striking matches. I suppose you don't have such things as burglars in this neck of the woods?"

Well, somebody had broken into Timmons' candy store a week before and stolen a box of chewing-gum and a hundred post-cards, and I told him so in a whisper.

"Anyhow, it isn't the chef," I said. "He's had a row with the bath man and is in bed with a cut hand and a black eye, and nobody else has any business here."

We tiptoed into the scullery in the dark: just then somebody knocked a kettle down in the kitchen and it hit the stove below with a crash. Whoever was there swore, and it was not Francois, who expresses his feelings mostly in French. This was English.

There's a little window from the kitchen into the scullery as well as a door. The window had a wooden slide and it was open an inch or so. We couldn't see anything, but we could hear a man moving around. Once he struck a match, but it went out and he said "Damn!" again, and began to feel his way toward the scullery.

Doctor Barnes happened to touch my hand and he patted it as if to tell me not to be frightened. Then he crept toward the scullery door and waited there.

It swung open slowly, but he waited until it closed again and the man was in the room. Then he yelled and jumped and there was the sound of a fall. I could hardly strike the match—I was trembling so—but when I did there was Mr. Dick lying flat on the floor and the doctor sitting on him.

"Mister Dick!" I gasped, and dropped the match.

"Something hit me!" Mr. Dick said feebly, and when I had got a candle lighted and had explained to Doctor Barnes that it was a mistake, he got off him and let him up. He was as bewildered as Mr. Dick and pretty nearly as mad.

We put him—Mr. Dick—in a chair and gave him a glass of water, and after he had got his breath—the doctor being a heavy man—he said he was trying to find something to eat.

"Confound it, Minnie," he exclaimed, "we're starving! It seems to me there are enough of you here at least to see that we are fed. Not a bite since lunch!"

"But I thought you had the basket," I explained. "I left it at the spring-house, and when I went back it was gone."

"So that was it!" he answered. And then he explained that just about the time they expected their supper they saw a man carry a basket stealthily through the snow to the deer park. It was twilight, but they watched him from the window, and he put the basket through the barbed-wire fence and then crawled after it. Just inside he sat down on a log and, opening the basket, began to eat. He was still there when it got too dark to see him.

"If that was our dinner," he finished savagely, "I hope he choked to death over it."

Doctor Barnes chuckled. "He didn't," he said, "but he's got the worst case of indigestion in seven counties."

Well, I got the mustard and water ready with Mr. Dick standing by hoping Mr. Biggs would die before he got it, and then I filled a basket for the shelter-house. I put out the light and he took the basket and started out, but he came back in a hurry.

"There's somebody outside talking," he said. I went to the door with him and listened.

"The sooner the better," Mike was saying. "I'm no good while I've got it on my mind."

And Mr. Thoburn: "To-morrow is too soon: they're not in the mood yet. Perhaps the day after. I'll let you know."

I didn't get to sleep until almost morning, and then it was to dream that Mr. Pierce was shouting "Hypocrites" to all the people in the sanatorium and threatening to throw glasses of mustard and warm water at them.



CHAPTER XVII

A BUNCH OF LETTERS

When people went down to breakfast the next morning they found a card hanging on the office door with a half dozen new rules on it, and when I went out to the spring-house the guests were having an indignation meeting in the sun parlor, with the bishop in the chair, and Senator Biggs, so wobbly he could hardly stand, making a speech.

I tried to see Mr. Pierce, but early as it was he had gone for a walk, taking Arabella with him. So I called a conference at the shelter-house—Miss Patty, Mr. and Mrs. Van Alstyne, Mr. and Mrs. Dick, and myself. Mrs. Dick wasn't dressed, but she sat up on the edge of her cot in her dressing-gown, with her feet on the soap box, and yawned. As we didn't have enough chairs, Miss Patty jerked the soap box away and made me sit down. Mr. Dick was getting breakfast.

We were in a tight place and we knew it.

"He is making it as hard for us as he can," Mrs. Sam declared. "The idea of having the card-room lights put out at midnight, and the breakfast room closed at ten! Nobody gets up at that hour."

"He was to come here every evening for orders," said Mr. Dick, measuring ground coffee with a tablespoon, as I had showed him. "He came just once, and as for orders—well, he gave 'em to me!"

But Miss Patty was always fair.

"I loathe him," she asserted. "I want to quarrel with him the minute I see him. He—he is presumptuous to the point of impertinence—but he's honest: he thinks we're all hypocrites—those that are well and those that are sick or think they are—and he hates hypocrisy."

Everybody talked at once, then, and she listened.

"Very well," she said. "I'll amend it. We're not all hypocrites. My motives in all this are perfectly clear—and selfish."

"You and old Pierce would make a fine team, Pat," Mrs. Dick remarked with a yawn. "I like hypocrites myself. They're so comfy. But if you're not above advice, Pat, you'll have Aunt Honoria break her neck or something—anything to get father back to town. Something is going to explode, and Oskar doesn't like to be agitated."

She curled up on the cot with that and went sound asleep. The rest of us had coffee and talked, but there wasn't anything to do. As Mr. Sam said, Mr. Pierce didn't want to stay, anyhow, and as likely as not if we went to him in a body and told him he must come to the shelter-house for instructions, and be suave and gentle when he was called down by the guests about the steam-pipes making a racket, he'd probably prefer to go down to the village and take Doctor Barnes' place washing dishes at the station. That wouldn't call for any particular mildness.

But he settled it by appearing himself. He came across the snow from the direction of Mount Hope, and he had a pair of skees over his shoulder. (At that time I didn't even know the name of the things, but I learned enough about them later.) I must say he looked very well beside Mr. Dick, who wasn't very large, anyhow, and who hadn't had time to put on his collar, and Mr. Sam, who's always thin and sallow and never takes a step he doesn't have to.

I let him in, and when he saw us all there he started and hesitated.

"Come in, Pierce," Mr. Sam said. "We've just been talking about you."

He came in, but he didn't look very comfortable.

"What have you decided to do with me?" he asked. "Put me under restraint?"

He was unbuttoning his sweater, and now he took out two of the smallest rabbits I ever saw and held them up by the ears. Miss Patty gave a little cry and took them, cuddling them in her lap.

"They're starving and almost frozen, poor little devils," he said. "I found them near where I shot the mother last night, Minnie, and by way of atonement I'm going to adopt them."

Well, although the minute before they'd all been wishing they'd never seen him, they pretty nearly ate him up. Miss Patty held the rabbits, so we all had turns at feeding them warm milk with a teaspoon and patting their pink noses. When it came Mr. Pierce's turn they were about full up, so he curled his big body on the floor at Miss Patty's feet and talked to the rabbits and looked at her. He had one of those faces that's got every emotion marked on it as clear as a barometer—when he was mad his face was mad all over, and when he was pleased he glowed to the tips of his ears. And he was pleased that morning.

But, of course, he had to be set right about the sanatorium, and Mr. Sam began it. Mr. Pierce listened, sitting on the floor and looking puzzled and more and more unhappy. Finally he got up and drew a long breath.

"Exactly," he agreed. "I know you are all right and I'm wrong—according to your way of thinking. But if these people want to be well, why should I encourage them to do the wrong thing? They eat too much, they don't exercise"—he turned to Mr. Van Alstyne.

"Why, do you know, I asked a half dozen of the men—one after the other—to go skeeing with me this morning and not one of them accepted!"

"Really!" Mr. Sam exclaimed mockingly.

"What can you do with people like that?" Mr. Pierce went on. "They don't want to be well; they're all hypocrites. Look at that man Biggs! I'll lay you ten to one that after fasting five days and then stealing a whole chicken, a dozen oysters and Lord knows what else, now that he's sick, he'll hold it against me."

"He's not holding anything," I objected.

"Because HE is a hypocrite—" Mr. Sam began.

"That's not the point, Pierce," Mr. Dick broke in importantly. "You were to come here for orders and you haven't done it. You're running this place for me, not for yourself."

Mr. Pierce looked at Mr. Dick and from there to Mr. Sam and smiled.

"I did come," he explained. "I came twice, and each time we played roulette. I lost all the money I'd had in advance. Honestly," he confessed, "I felt I couldn't afford to come every day."

Miss Patty got up and put the baby rabbits into her sister's big fur muff.

"We are all talking around the question," she said. "Mr. Pierce undertook to manage the sanatorium, and to try to manage it successfully. He can not do that without making some attempt at conciliating the people. It's—it's absurd to antagonize them."

"Exactly," he said coldly. "I was to manage it, and to try to do it successfully. I'm sorry my methods don't meet with the approval of this—er—executive committee. But it might as well be clear that I intend to use my own methods—or none."

Well, what could we do? Miss Patty went out with her head up, and the rest of us stayed and ate humble pie, and after a while he agreed to stay if he wasn't interfered with. He said he and Doctor Barnes had a plan that he thought was a winner—that it would either make or break the place, and he thought it would make it. And by that time we were so meek that we didn't even ask what it was.

Doctor Barnes and Miss Summers were the first to come to the mineral spring that morning. She stopped just inside the door and sniffed.

"Something's dead under the floor," she said.

"If there's anything dead," Doctor Barnes replied, "it's in the center of the earth. That's the sulphur water."

She came in at that, but unwillingly, and sat down with her handkerchief to her nose. Then she saw me.

"Good gracious!" she exclaimed. "What have you done that they put you here?"

"If you mean the bouquet from the spring, you get to like it after a while," I said grimly. "Ordinary air hasn't got any snap for me now."

"Humph!" She looked at me suspiciously, but I was busy wiping off the tables. "Well," she said, holding up the glass Doctor Barnes had brought her, "it doesn't cost me anything, so here goes. But think of paying money for it!"

She drank it down in a gulp and settled herself in her chair.

"What'll it do to me?" she asked. "Mixed drinks always play the deuce with me, Barnes, and you know it."

"If you'll cut down your diet and take some exercise it will make you thin," I began. "'The process is painless and certain: kindly nature in her benevolent plan—'"

"Give me another!" she interrupted, and Doctor Barnes filled her glass again. "Some women spell fate f-a-t-e," she said, looking at the water, "but I spell it without the e."

She took half of it and then put down the glass. "Honestly," she declared, "I'd rather be fat."

Mr. Pierce met them there a few minutes later and they had a three-cornered chat. But Miss Summers evidently didn't know just how much I knew and was careful of what she said. Once, however, when I was in the pantry she thought I was beyond ear-shot.

"Good heavens, Pierce," she said, "if they could put THAT in a play!"

"Cut it out, Julia," Doctor Barnes snapped, and it wasn't until they had gone that I knew she'd meant me. I looked through the crack of the door and she was leaning over taking a puff at Doctor Barnes' cigarette.

"Curious old world, isn't it?" she said between puffs. "Here we are the three of us—snug and nice, having seven kinds of hell-fire water and not having to pay for it; three meals a day and afternoon tea ditto, good beds and steam-heat ditto—and four days ago where were we? Pierce, you were hocking your clothes! Doc, you—"

"Washing dishes!" he said. "I never knew before how extravagant it is to have a saucer under a cup!"

"And I!" she went on, "I, Julia Summers, was staring at a ceiling in the Finleyville hotel, with a face that looked like a toy balloon."

"And now," said Doctor Barnes, "you are more beautiful than ever. I am a successful physician—oh, lord, Julia, if you'd hear me faking lines in my part! And my young friend here—Pierce—Julia, Pierce has now become a young reprobate named Dicky Carter, and may the Lord have mercy on his soul!"

I tried to get out in time, but I was too late. I saw her rise, saw the glass of water at her elbow roll over and smash on the floor, and saw her clutch wildly at Mr. Pierce's shoulder.

"Not—not DICKY Carter!" she cried.

"Richard—they call him Dick," Mr. Pierce said uneasily, and loosened her fingers from his coat.

Oh, well, everybody knows it now—how she called Mr. Dick everything in the calendar, and then began to cry and said nobody would ever know what she'd been through with, and the very dress she had on was a part of the trousseau she'd had made, and what with the dressmaker's bills—

Suddenly she stopped crying.

"Where is he, anyhow?" she demanded.

"All we are sure of," Mr. Pierce replied quietly, "is that he is not in the sanatorium."

She looked at us all closely, but she got nothing from my face.

"Oh, very well," she said, shrugging her shoulders, "I'll wait until he shows up. It doesn't cost anything."

Then, with one of her easy changes, she laughed and picked up her muff to go.

"Minnie and I," she said, "will tend bar here, and in our leisure moments we will pour sulphur water on a bunch of Dicky's letters that I have, to cool 'em." She walked to the door and turned around, smiling.

"Carry fire insurance on 'em all the time," she finished and went out, leaving us staring at one another!



CHAPTER XVIII

MISS COBB'S BURGLAR

I went to bed early that night. What with worrying and being alternately chilled by tramping through the snow and roasted as if I was sitting on a volcano with an eruption due, I was about all in. We'd been obliged to tell Mrs. Sam about the Summers woman, and I had to put hot flannels on her from nine to ten. She was quieter when I left her, but, as I told Mr. Sam, it was the stillness of despair, not resignation.

I guess it was about four o'clock in the morning when a hand slid over my face, and I sat up and yelled. The hand covered my mouth at that, and something long and white and very thin beside the bed said: "Sh! For heaven's sake, Minnie!"

It was Miss Cobb! It was lucky I came to my senses when I did, for her knees gave way under her just then and she doubled up on the floor beside the bed with her face in my comfort.

I lighted a candle and set it on a chair beside the bed and took a good look at her. She was shaking all over, which wasn't strange, for I sleep with my window open, and she had a key in her hand.

"Here," she gasped, holding out the key, "here, Minnie, wake the house and get him, but, oh, Minnie, for heaven's sake, save my reputation!"

"Get who?" I demanded, for I saw it was her room key.

"I have been coming here for ten years," she groaned, out of the comfort, "and now, to be bandied about by the cold breath of scandal!"

I shook her by the shoulder

"The cold breath you are raving about is four degrees below zero. If you can't tell me what's the matter I'm going back to bed and cover my feet."

She got up at that and stood swaying, with her nightgown flapping around her like a tent.

"I have locked a man in my room!" she declared in a terrible voice, and collapsed into the middle of the bed.

Well, I leaned over and tried to tell her she'd made a mistake. The more I looked at her, with her hair standing straight out over her head, and her cambric nightgown with a high collar and long sleeves, and the hump on her nose where her brother Willie had hit her in childhood with a baseball bat, the surer I was that somebody had made a mistake—likely the man.

Now there's two ways to handle a situation like that: one of them is to rouse the house—and many a good sanatorium has been hurt by a scandal and killed by a divorce; the other way is to take one strong man who can hold his tongue, find the guilty person, and send him a fake telegram the next morning that his mother is sick. I've done that more than once.

I sat down on the side of the bed and put on my slippers.

"What did he look like?" I asked. "Could you see him?"

She uncovered one eye.

"Not—not distinctly," she said. "I—think he was large, and—and rather handsome. That beast of a dog must have got in my room and was asleep under the bed, for it wakened me by snarling."

There was nothing in that to make me nervous, but it did. As I put on my kimono I was thinking pretty hard.

I could not waken Mr. Pierce by knocking, so I went in and shook him. He was sound asleep, with his arms over his head, and when I caught his shoulder he just took my hand and, turning over, tucked it under his cheek and went asleep again.

"Mr. Pierce! Mr. Pierce!" He wakened a little at that, but not enough to open his eyes. He seemed to know that the hand wasn't his, however, for he kissed it. And with that I slapped him and he wakened. He lay there blinking at my candle and then he yawned.

"Musht have been ashleep!" he said, and turned over on his other side and shut his eyes.

It was two or three minutes at least before I had him sitting on the side of the bed, with a blanket spread over his knees, and was telling him about Miss Cobb.

"Miss Cobb!" he said. "Oh, heavens, Minnie, tell her to go back to bed!" He yawned. "If there's anybody there it's a mistake. I'm sleepy. What time is it?"

"I'm not going out of this room until you get up!" I declared grimly.

"Oh, very well!" he said, and put his feet back into bed. "If you think I'm going to get up while you're here—"

After he seemed pretty well wakened I went out. I waited in the sitting-room and I heard him growling as he put on his clothes. When he came out, however, he was more cheerful, and he stopped in the hall to fish a case out of Mr. Sam's dressing-gown pocket and light a cigarette.

"Now!" he said, taking my arm. "Forward, the light-ly clad brigade! But—" he stopped—"Minnie, we are unarmed! Shall I get the patent folding corkscrew?"

He had to be quiet when we got to the bedroom floors, however, and when we stopped outside Miss Cobb's door he was as sober as any one could wish him.

"You needn't come in," he whispered. "Ten to one she dreamed it, but if she didn't you're better outside. And whatever you hear, don't yell."

I gave him the key and he fitted it quietly in the lock. Arabella, just inside, must have heard, for she snarled. But the snarl turned into a yelp, as if she'd been suddenly kicked.

Mr. Pierce, with his hand on the knob, turned and looked at me in the candle-light. Then he opened the door.

Arabella gave another yelp and rushed out; she went between my feet like a shot and almost overthrew me, and when I'd got my balance again I looked into the room. Mr. Pierce was at the window, staring out, and the room was empty.

"The idiot!" Mr. Pierce said. "If it hadn't been for that snowbank! Here, give me that candle!"

He stood there waving it in circles, but there was neither sight nor sound from below. After a minute Mr. Pierce put the window down and we stared at the room. All the bureau drawers were out on the floor, and the lid of poor Miss Cobb's trunk was open and the tray upset. But her silver-backed brush was still on the bureau and the ring the insurance agent had given her lay beside it.

We brought her back to her room, and she didn't know whether to be happy that she was vindicated or mad at the state her things were in. I tucked her up in bed after she'd gone over her belongings and Mr. Pierce had double-locked the window and gone out. She drew my head down to her and her eyes were fairly popping out of her head.

"I feel as though I'm going crazy, Minnie!" she whispered, "but the only things that are gone are my letters from Mr. Jones, and—my black woolen tights!"



CHAPTER XIX

NO MARRIAGE IN HEAVEN

I slept late the next morning, and when I'd had breakfast and waded to the spring-house it was nearly nine. It was still snowing, and no papers or mail had got through, although the wires were still in fair working order.

As I floundered out I thought I saw somebody slink around the corner of the spring-house, but when I got there nobody was in sight. I was on my knees in front of the fireplace, raking out the fire, when I heard the door close behind me, and when I turned, there stood Mr. Dick, muffled to the neck, with his hat almost over his face.

"What the deuce kept you so late this morning?" he demanded, in a sulky voice, and limping over to a table he drew a package out of his pocket and slammed it on the table.

"I was up half the night, as usual," I said, rising. "You oughtn't to be here, Mr. Dick!"

He caught hold of the rail around the spring, and hobbling about, dropped into a chair with a groan.

"For two cents," he declared, "I'd chop a hole in the ice pond and drown myself. There's no marriage in Heaven."

"That's no argument for the other place," I answered, and stopped, staring. He was pulling something out of his overcoat pocket, an inch at a time.

"For God's sake, Minnie," he exclaimed, "return this—this garment to—whomever it belongs to!"

He handed it to me, and it was Miss Cobb's black tights! I stood and stared.

"And then," he went on, reaching for the package on the table, "when you've done that, return to 'Binkie' these letters from her Jonesie."

He took the newspaper off the bundle then, and I saw it was wrapped with a lavender ribbon. I sat down and gazed at him, fascinated. He was the saddest-eyed piece of remorse I'd seen for a long time.

"And when you've got your breath back, Minnie," he said feebly, "and your strength, would you mind taking the floor mop and hitting me a few cracks? Only not on the right leg, Minnie—not on the right leg. I landed on it last night; it's twisted like a pretzel."

"Don't stand and stare," he continued irritably, when I didn't make a move, "at least get that—that infernal black garment out of sight. Cover it with the newspaper. And if you don't believe that a sweet-faced young girl like my wife has a positive talent for wickedness and suspicion, go out to the shelter-house this morning."

"So it was you!" I gasped, putting the newspaper over the tights.

"Why in the name of peace did you jump out the window, and what did you want with—with these things?"

He twisted around in his chair to stare at me, and then stooped and clutched frantically at his leg, as if for inspiration.

"Want with those things!" he snarled. "I suppose you can't understand that a man might wake up in the middle of the night with a mad craving for a pair of black woolen tights, and—"

"You needn't be sarcastic with me," I broke in. "You can save that for your wife. I suppose you also had a wild longing for the love-letters of an insurance agent—"

And then it dawned on me, and I sat down and laughed until I cried.

"And you thought you were stealing your own letters!" I cried. "The ones she carries fire insurance on! Oh, Mr. Dick, Mr. Dick!"

"How was I to know it wasn't Ju—Miss Summers' room?" he demanded angrily. "Didn't I follow the dratted dog? And wouldn't you have thought the wretched beast would have known me instead of sitting on its tail under the bed and yelling for mother? I gave her the dog myself. Oh, I tell you, Minnie, if I ever get away from this place—"

"You've got to get away this minute," I broke in, remembering. "They'll be coming any instant now."

He got up and looked around him helplessly.

"Where'll I go?" he asked. "I can't go back to the shelter-house."

I looked at him and he tried to grin.

"Fact," he said, "hard to believe, but—fact, Minnie. She's got the door locked. Didn't I tell you she is of a suspicious nature? She was asleep when I left, and mostly she sleeps all night. And just because she wakes when I'm out, and lets me come in thinking she's asleep, when she has one eye open all the time, and she sees what I'd never even seen myself—that the string of that damned garment, whatever it is, is fastened to the hook of my shoe, me thinking all the time that the weight was because I'd broken my leg jumping—doesn't she suddenly sit up and ask me where I've been? And I—I'm unsuspicious, Minnie, by nature, and I said I'd been asleep. Then she jumped up and showed me that—that thing—those things, hanging to my shoe, and she hasn't spoken to me since. I wish I was dead."

And just then a dog barked outside and somebody on the step stamped the snow off his feet. We were both paralyzed for a moment.

"Julia!" Mr. Dick cried, and went white.

I made a leap for the door, just as the handle turned, and put my back against it.

"Just a minute," I called. "The carpet is caught under it!"

Mr. Dick had lost his head and was making for the spring, as if he thought hiding his feet would conceal him. I made frantic gestures to him to go into my pantry, and he went at last, leaving his hat on the table, I left the door and flung it after him—the hat, of course, not the door—and when Miss Summers sauntered in just after, I was on my knees brushing the hearth, with my heart going three-four time and skipping every sixth beat.

"Hello!" she said. "Lovely weather—for polar bears. If the natives wade through this all winter it's no wonder they walk as if they are ham-strung. Don't bother getting me a glass. I'll get my own."

She was making for the pantry when I caught her, and I guess I looked pretty wild.

"I'll get it," I said. "I—that's one of the rules."

She put her hands in the pockets of her white sweater and smiled at me.

"Do you know," she declared, "the old ladies' knitting society isn't so far wrong about you! About your making rules—whatever you want, WHENEVER you want 'em."

She put her head on one side.

"Now," she went on, "suppose I break that rule and get my own glass? What happens to me? I don't think I'll be put out!"

I threw up my hands in despair, for I was about at the end of my string.

"Get it then!" I exclaimed, and sat down, waiting for the volcano to erupt. But she only laughed and sat down on a table, swinging her feet.

"When you know me better, Minnie," she said, "you'll know I don't spoil sport. I happen to know you have somebody in the pantry—moreover, I know it's a man. There are tracks on the little porch, my dear girl, not made by your galoshes. Also, my dearest girl, there's a gentleman's glove by your chair there!" I put my foot on it. "And just to show you what a good fellow I am—"

She got off the table, still smiling, and sauntered to the pantry door, watching me over her shoulder.

"Don't be alarmed!" she called through the door, "I'm not coming in! I shall take my little drink of nature's benevolent remedy out of the tin ladle, and then—I shall take my departure!"

My heart was skipping every second beat by that time, and Miss Julia stood by the pantry door, her head back and her eyes almost closed, enjoying every minute of it. If Arabella hadn't made a diversion just then I think I'd have fainted.

She'd pulled the newspaper and the tights off the table and was running around the room with them, one leg in her mouth.

"Stop it, Arabella!" said Miss Julia, and took the tights from her. "Yours?" she asked, with her eyebrows raised.

"No—yes," I answered.

"I'd never have suspected you of them!" she remarked. "Hardly sheer enough to pull through a finger ring, are they?" She held them up and gazed at them meditatively. "That's one thing I draw the line at. On the boards, you know—never have worn 'em and never will. They're not modest, to my mind,—and, anyhow, I'm too fat!"

Mr. Sam and his wife came in at that moment, Mr. Sam carrying a bottle of wine for the shelter-house, wrapped in a paper, and two cans of something or other. He was too busy trying to make the bottle look like something else—which a good many people have tried and failed at—to notice what Miss Summers was doing, and she had Miss Cobb's protectors stuffed in her muff and was standing very dignified in front of the fire by the time they'd shaken off the snow.

"Good morning!" she said.

"Morning!" said Mr. Sam, hanging up his overcoat with one hand, and trying to put the bottle in one of the pockets with the other. Mrs. Sam didn't look at her.

"Good morning, Mrs. Van Alstyne!" Miss Summers almost threw it at her. "I spoke to you before; I guess you didn't hear me."

"Oh, yes, I heard you," answered Mrs. Sam, and turned her back on her. Give me a little light-haired woman for sheer devilishness!

I'd expected to see Miss Summers fly to pieces with rage, but she stared at Mrs. Sam's back, and after a minute she laughed.

"I see!" she remarked slowly. "You're the sister, aren't you?"

Mr. Sam had given up trying to hide the bottle and now he set it on the floor with a thump and came over to the fire.

"It's—you see, the situation is embarrassing," he began. "If we had had any idea—"

"I might have been still in the Finleyville hotel!" she finished for him. "Awful thought, isn't it?"

"Under the circumstances," went on Mr. Sam, nervously, "don't you think it would be—er—better form if er—under the circumstances—"

"I'm thinking of my circumstances," she put in, good-naturedly. "If you imagine that six weeks of one-night stands has left me anything but a rural wardrobe and a box of dog biscuit for Arabella, you're pretty well mistaken. I haven't even a decent costume. All we had left after the sheriff got through was some grass mats, a checked sunbonnet and a pump."

"Minnie," Mrs. Sam said coldly, "that little beast of a dog is trying to drink out of the spring!"

I caught her in time and gave her a good slapping. When I looked up Miss Summers was glaring down at me over the rail.

"Just what do you mean by hitting my dog?" she demanded. It was the first time I'd seen her angry.

"Just what I appeared to mean," I answered. "If you want to take it as a love pat, you may." And I stalked to the door and threw the creature out into the snow. It was the first false step that day; if I'd known what putting that dog out meant—! "I don't allow dogs here," I said, and shut the door.

Miss Summers was furious; she turned and stared at Mrs. Sam, who was smiling at the fire.

"Let Arabella in," she said to me in an undertone, "or I'll open the pantry door!"

"Open the door!" I retorted. I was half hysterical, but it was no time to weaken. She looked me straight in the eye for fully ten seconds; then, to my surprise, she winked at me. But when she turned on Mr. Sam she was cold rage again and nothing else.

"I am not going to leave, if that is what you are about to suggest," she said. "I've been trying to see Dicky Carter the last ten days, and I'll stay here until I see him."

"It's a delicate situation—"

"Delicate!" she snapped. "It's indelicate it's indecent, that's what it is. Didn't I get my clothes, and weren't we to have been married by the Reverend Dwight Johnstone, out in Salem, Ohio? And didn't he go out there and have old Johnstone marry him to somebody else? The wretch! If I ever see him—"

A glass dropped in the pantry and smashed, but nobody paid any attention.

"Oh, I'm not going until he comes!" she continued. "I'll stay right here, and I'll have what's coming to me or I'll know the reason why. Don't forget for a minute that I know why Mr. Pierce is here, and that I can spoil the little game by calling the extra ace, if I want to."

"You're forgetting one thing," Mrs. Sam said, facing her for the first time, "if you call the game, my brother is worth exactly what clothes he happens to be wearing at the moment and nothing else. He hasn't a penny of his own."

"I don't believe it," she sniffed. "Look at the things he gave me!"

"Yes. I've already had the bills," said Mr. Sam.

She whirled and looked at him, and then she threw back her head and laughed.

"You!" she said. "Why, bless my soul! All the expense of a double life and none of its advantages!"

She went out on that, still laughing, leaving Mrs. Sam scarlet with rage, and when she was safely gone I brought Mr. Dick out to the fire. He was so limp he could hardly walk, and it took three glasses of the wine and all Mr. Sam could do to start him back to the shelter-house. His sister would not speak to him.

Mike went to Mr. Pierce that day and asked for a raise of salary.

He did not get it. Perhaps, as things have turned out, it was for the best, but it is strange to think how different things would have been if he'd been given it. He was sent up later, of course, for six months for malicious mischief, but by that time the damage was done.



CHAPTER XX

EVERY DOG HAS HIS DAY

That was on a Saturday morning. During the golf season Saturday is always a busy day with us, with the husbands coming up for over Sunday, and trying to get in all the golf, baths and spring water they can in forty-eight hours. But in the winter Saturday is the same as any, other day.

It had stopped snowing and the sun was shining, although it was so cold that the snow blew like powder. By eleven o'clock every one who could walk had come to the spring-house. Even Mr. Jennings came down in a wheeled chair, and Senator Biggs, still looking a sort of grass-green and keeping his eyes off me, came and sat in a corner, with a book called Fast versus Feast held so that every one could see.

There were bridge tables going, and five hundred, and a group around the slot-machine, while the crocheters formed a crowd by themselves, exchanging gossip and new stitches.

About twelve o'clock Mr. Thoburn came in, and as he opened the door, in leaped Arabella. The women made a fuss over the creature and cuddled her, and when I tried to put her out everybody objected. So she stayed, and Miss Summers put her through a lot of tricks, while the men crowded around. As I said before, Miss Summers was a first favorite with the men.

Mr. von Inwald and Miss Patty came in just then and stood watching.

"And now," said Mr. von Inwald, "I propose, as a reward to Miss Arabella, a glass of this wonderful water. Minnie, a glass of water for Arabella!"

"She doesn't drink out of one of my glasses," I declared angrily.

"It's one of my rules that dogs—"

"Tut!" said Mr. Thoburn. "What's good for man is good for beast. Besides, the little beggar's thirsty."

Well, they made a great fuss about the creature's being thirsty, and so finally I got a panful of spring water and it drank until I thought it would burst. I'm not vicious, as I say, but I wish it had.

Well, the dog finished and lay down by the fire, and everything seemed to go on as before. Mr. Thoburn was in a good humor, and he came over to the spring and brought a trayful of glasses.

"To save you steps, Minnie!" he explained. "You have no idea how it pains me to see you working. Gentlemen, name your poison!"

"A frappe with blotting-paper on the side," Mr. Moody snarled from the slot-machine. "If I drink much more, I'll have to be hooped up like a barrel."

"Just what is the record here?" the bishop asked. "I'm ordered eight glasses, but I find it more than a sufficiency."

"We had one man here once who could drink twenty-five at a time," I said, "but he was a German."

"He was a tank," Mr. Sam corrected grumpily. He was watching something on the floor—I couldn't see what. "All I need is to swallow a few goldfish and I'd be a first-class aquarium."

"What I think we should do," Miss Cobb said, "is to try to find out just what suits us, and stick to that. I'm always trying."

"Damned trying!" Mr. Jennings snarled, and limped over for more water. "I'd like to know where to go for rheumatism."

"I got mine here," said Mr. Thoburn cheerfully. "It's my opinion this place is rheumatic as well as malarious. And as for this water, with all due respect to the spirit in the spring"—he bowed to me—"I think it's an insult to ask people to drink it. It isn't half so strong as it was two years ago. Taste it; smell it! I ask the old friends of the sanatorium, is that water what it used to be?"

"Don't tell me it was ever any worse than this!" Miss Summers exclaimed. But Thoburn went on. The card-players stopped to listen, but Mr. Sam was still staring at something on the floor.

"I tell you, the spring is losing its virtue, and, like a woman, without virtue, it is worthless."

"But interesting!" Mr. Sam said, and stooped down.

"Consider," went on Mr. Thoburn, standing and holding his glass to the light, "how we are at the mercy of this little spring! A convulsion in the bowels of the earth, and its health-giving properties may be changed to the direst poison. How do we know, you and I, some such change has not occurred overnight? Unlikely as it is, it's a possibility that, sitting here calmly, we may be sipping our death potion."

Some of the people actually put down their glasses and everybody began to look uneasy except Mr. Sam, who was still watching something I could not see.

Mr. Thoburn looked around and saw he'd made an impression. "We may," he continued, "although my personal opinion of this water is that it's growing too weak to be wicked. I prove my faith in Mother Nature; if it is poisoned, I am gone. I drink!"

Mr. Sam suddenly straightened up and glanced at Miss Summers. "Perhaps I'm mistaken," he said, "but I think there is something the matter with Arabella."

Everybody looked: Arabella was lying on her back, jerking and twitching and foaming at the mouth.

"She's been poisoned!" Miss Summers screeched, and fell on her knees beside her. "It's that wretched water!"

There was pretty nearly a riot in a minute. Everybody jumped up and stared at the dog, and everybody remembered the water he or she had just had, and coming on top of Mr. Thoburn's speech, it made them babbling lunatics. As I look back, I have a sort of picture of Miss Summers on the floor with Arabella in her lap, and the rest telling how much of the water they had had and crowding around Mr. Thoburn.

"It seems hardly likely it was the water," he said, "although from what I recall of my chemistry it is distinctly possible. Springs have been known to change their character, and the coincidence—the dog and the water—is certainly startling. Still, as nobody feels ill—"

But they weren't sure they didn't. The bishop said he felt perfectly well, but he had a strange inclination to yawn all the time, and Mrs. Biggs' left arm had gone to sleep. And then, with the excitement and all, Miss Cobb took a violent pain in the back of her neck and didn't know whether to cry or to laugh.

Well, I did what I could. The worst of it was, I wasn't sure it wasn't the water. I thought possibly Mr. Pierce had made a mistake in what he had bought at the drug store, and although I don't as a rule drink it myself, I began to feel queer in the pit of my stomach.

Mr. Thoburn came over to the spring, and filling a glass, took it to the light, with every one watching anxiously. When he brought it back he stooped over the railing and whispered to me.

"When did you fix it?" he asked sternly.

"Last night," I answered. It was no time to beat about the bush.

"It's yellower than usual," he said. "I'm inclined to think something has gone wrong at the drug store, Minnie."

I could hardly breathe. I had the most terrible vision of all the guests lying around like Arabella, twitching and foaming, and me going to prison as a wholesale murderess. Any hair but mine would have turned gray in that minute.

Mr. von Inwald was watching like the others, and now he came over and caught Mr. Thoburn by the arm.

"What do you think—" he asked nervously. "I—I have had three glasses of it!"

"Three!" shouted Senator Biggs, coming forward. "I've had eleven! I tell you, I've been feeling queer for twenty-four hours! I'm poisoned! That's what I am."

He staggered out, with Mrs. Biggs just behind him, and from that moment they were all demoralized. I stood by the spring and sipped at the water to show I wasn't afraid of it, with my knees shaking under me and Arabella lying stock-still, as if she had died, under my very nose. One by one they left to look for Doctor Barnes, or to get the white of egg, which somebody had suggested as an antidote.

Miss Cobb was one of the last to go. She turned in the doorway and looked back at me, with tears in her eyes.

"It isn't your fault, Minnie," she said, "and forgive me if I have ever said anything unkind to you." Then she went, and I was alone, looking down at Arabella.

Or rather, I thought I was alone, for there was a movement by one of the windows and Miss Patty came forward and knelt by the dog.

"Of all the absurdities!" she said. "Poor little thing! Minnie, I believe she's breathing!"

She put the dog's head in her lap, and the little beast opened its eyes and tried to wag its blue tail.

"Oh, Miss Patty, Miss Patty!" I exclaimed, and I got down beside her and cried on her shoulder, with her stroking my hand and calling me dearest! Me!

I was wiping my eyes when the door was thrown open and Mr. Pierce ran in. He had no hat on and his hair was powdered with snow. He stopped just inside the door and looked at Miss Patty.

"You—" he said "you are all right? You are not—" he came forward and stood over her, with his heart in his eyes. She MUST have known from that minute.

"My God!" he exclaimed, "I thought you were poisoned!"

She looked up, without smiling, and then I thought she half shut her eyes, as if what she saw in his face hurt her.

"I am all right," she assured him, "and little Arabella will be all right, too. She's had a convulsion, that's all—probably from overeating. As for the others—!"

"Where is the—where is von Inwald?"

"He has gone to take the white of an egg," she replied rather haughtily. She was too honest to evade anything, but she flushed. Of course, I knew what he didn't—that the prince had been among the first to scurry to the house, and that he hadn't even waited for her.

He walked to the window, as if he didn't want her to see what he thought of that, and I saw him looking hard at something outside in the snow. When he walked back to the fire he was smiling, and he stooped over and poked Arabella with his finger.

"So that was it!" he said. "Full to the scuppers, poor little wretch! Minnie, I am hoist with my own petard, which in this case was a boomerang."

"Which is in English—" I asked.

"With the instinct of her sex, Arabella has unearthed what was meant to be buried forever. She had gorged herself into a convulsion on that rabbit I shot last night!"



CHAPTER XXI

THE MUTINY

They went to the house together, he carrying Arabella like a sick baby and Miss Patty beside him. As far as I could see they didn't speak a word to each other, but once or twice I saw her turn and look up at him as if she was puzzled.

I closed the door and stood just inside, looking at father's picture over the mantel. As sure as I stood there, the eyes were fixed on the spring, and I sensed, as you may say, what they meant. I went over and looked down into the spring, and it seemed to me it was darker than usual. It may have smelled stronger, but the edge had been taken off my nose, so to speak, by being there so long.

From the spring I looked again at father, and his eyes were on me mournful and sad. I felt as though, if he'd been there, father would have turned the whole affair to the advantage of the house, and it was almost more than I could bear. I was only glad the old doctor's enlargement had not come yet. I couldn't have endured having it see what had occurred.

The only thing I could think of was to empty the spring and let the water come in plain. I could put a little sulphur in to give it color and flavor, and if it turned out that Mr. Pierce was right and that Arabella was only a glutton, I could put in the other things later.

I was carrying out my first pailful when Doctor Barnes came down the path and took the pail out of my hand.

"What are you doing?" he asked. "Making a slide?"

"No," I said bitterly, "I am watering the flowers."

"Good!" He was not a bit put out. "Let me help you." He took the pail across the path and poured a little into the snow at the base of a half-dozen fence posts. "There!" he said, coming back triumphant. "The roses are done. Now let's have a go at the pansies and the lady's-slippers and the—the begonias. I say"—he stopped suddenly on his way in—"sulphur water on a begonia—what would it make? Skunk cabbage?"

Inside, however, he put down the pail, and pulling me in, closed the door.

"Now forget it!" he commanded. "Just because a lot of damn fools see a dog in a fit and have one, too, is that any reason for your being scared wall-eyed and knock-kneed?"

"I'm not!" I snapped.

"Well, you're wall-eyed with fright," he insisted. "Of course, you're the best judge of your own knees, but after last night—Had any lunch?"

I shook my head.

"Exactly," he said. "You make me think of the little boy who dug post-holes in the daytime and took in washings at night to support the family. Sit down."

I sat.

"Inhale and exhale slowly four times, and then swallow the lump in your throat.... Gone?"

"Yes."

"Good." He was fumbling in his pocket and he brought out a napkin. When he opened it there was a sandwich, a piece of cheese and a banana.

"What do you think of that?" he asked, watching me anxiously. "Looks pretty good?"

"Fine," I said, hating to disappoint him, although I never eat sardines, and bananas give me indigestion, "I'm hungry enough to eat a raw Italian."

"Then fall to," he directed, and with a flourish he drew a bottle of ginger ale from his pocket.

"How's this?" he demanded, holding it up. "Cheers but doesn't inebriate; not a headache in a barrel; ginger ale to the gingery! 'A quart of ale is a dish for a king,'" he said, holding up a glass. "That's Shakespeare, Miss Minnie."

I was a good bit more cheerful when I'd choked down the sandwich, especially when he assured me the water was all right—"a little high, as you might say, but not poisonous. Lord, I wish you could have seen them staggering into my office!"

"I saw enough," I said with a shiver.

"That German, von Inwald," he went on, "he's the limit. He accused us of poisoning him for reasons of state!"

"Where are they now?"

"My dear girl," he answered, putting down his glass, "what has been pounded into me ever since I struck the place? The baths! I prescribe 'em all day and dream 'em all night. Where are the poisonees now? They are steaming, stewing, exuding in the hot rooms of the bath department—all of them, every one of them! In the hold and the hatches down!"

He picked up the pail and went down the steps to the spring.

"After all," he said, "it won't hurt to take out a little of this and pour it on the ground. It ought to be good fertilizer." He stooped. "'Come, gentle spring, ethereal mildness, come,'" he quoted, and dipped in the pail.

Just then somebody fell against the door and stumbled into the room. It was Tillie, as white as milk, and breathing in gasps.

"Quick!" she screeched, "Minnie, quick!"

"What is it?" I asked, jumping up. She'd fallen back against the door-frame and stood with her hand clutching her heart.

"That dev—devil—Mike!" she panted. "He has turned on the steam in the men's baths and gone—gone away!"

"With people in the bath?" Doctor Barnes asked, slamming down the pail.

Tillie nodded.

"Then why in creation don't they get out of the baths until we can shut off the steam?" I demanded, grabbing up my shawl. But Tillie shook her head in despair.

"They can't," she answered, "he's hid their clothes!"

The next thing I recall is running like mad up the walk with Doctor Barnes beside me, steadying me by the arm. I only spoke once that I remember and that was just as we got to the house,

"This settles it!" I panted, desperately. "It's all over."

"Not a bit of it!" he said, shoving me up the steps and into the hall. "The old teakettle is just getting 'het up' a bit. By the gods and little fishes, just listen to it singing down there!"

The help was gathered in a crowd at the head of the bath-house staircase, where a cloud of steam was coming up, and down below we could hear furious talking, and somebody shouting, "Mike! Mike!" in a voice that was choked with rage and steam.

Doctor Barnes elbowed his way through the crowd to the top of the stairs and I followed.

"There's Minnie!" Amanda King yelled. "She knows all about the place. Minnie, you can shut it off, can't you?"

"I'll try," I said, and was starting down, when Doctor Barnes jerked me back.

"You stay here," he said. "Where's Mr. Pier—where's Carter?"

"Down with the engineer," somebody replied out of the steam cloud.

"Hello there!" he called down the staircase. "How's the air?"

"Clothes! Send us some clothes!"

It was Mr. Sam calling. The rest was swallowed up in a fresh roaring, as if a steam-pipe had given away. That settled the people below. With a burst of fury they swarmed up the stairs in their bath sheets, the bishop leading, and just behind him, talking as no gentleman should talk under any circumstances, Senator Biggs. The rest followed, their red faces shining through the steam—all of them murderous, holding their sheets around them with one hand, and waving the other in a frenzy. It was awful.

The help scattered and ran, but I stood my ground. The sight of a man in a sheet didn't scare me and it was no time for weakness.

The steam was thicker than ever, and the hall was misty. A moment later the engineer came up and after him Mr. Pierce, with a towel over his mouth and a screw-driver in his hand. He was white with rage. He brushed past the sheets without paying the slightest attention to them, and tore the towel off his mouth.

"Who saw Mike last?" he shouted across to where the pharmacy clerk, the elevator boy and some of the bell-boys had retreated to the office and were peeping out through the door.

Here Mr. Moody, who's small at any time, and who without the padding on his shoulders and wrapped in a sheet with his red face above, looked like a lighted cigarette, darted out of the crowd and caught him by the sleeve.

"Here!" he cried, "we've got a few things to say to you, you young—"

"Take your hand off my arm!" thundered Mr. Pierce.

The storm broke with that. They crowded around Mr. Pierce, yelling like maniacs, and he stood there, white-faced, and let them wear themselves out. The courage of a man in a den of lions was nothing to it. Doctor Barnes forced his way through the crowd and stood there beside him.

It wasn't only the steam and their clothes being hidden; it had started with the scare at the spring in the morning, and when they had told him what they thought about that, they went back still further and bellowed about the mismanagement of the place ever since he had taken charge, and the food, and the steam-heat, and the new rules—oh, they hated him all right, and they told him so, purple-faced with rage and heat, dancing around him and shaking one fist in his face, as I say, while they held their sheets fast with the other.

And I stood there and watched, my mind awhirl, expecting every minute to hear that they were all leaving, or to have some one forget and shake both fists at once.

And that's how it ended finally—I mean, of course, that they said they would all leave immediately, and that he ought to be glad to have them go quietly, and not have him jailed for malicious mischief or compounding a felony. The whole thing was an outrage, and the three train would leave the house as empty as a squeezed lemon.

I wanted to go forward and drop on my knees and implore them to remember the old doctor, and the baths they'd had when nothing went wrong, and the days when they'd sworn that the spring kept them young and well, but there was something in Mr. Pierce's face that kept me back.

"At three o'clock, then," he said. "Very well."

"Don't be a fool!" I heard Mr. Sam from the crowd.

"Is that all you have to say?" roared Mr. von Inwald. I hadn't noticed him before. He had his sheet on in Grecian style and it looked quite ornamental although a little short. "Haven't you any apology to make, sir?"

"Neither apology nor explanation to you," Mr. Pierce retorted. And to the other: "It is an unfortunate accident—incident, if you prefer." He looked at Thoburn, who was the only one in a bath robe, and who was the only cheerful one in the lot. "I had refused a request of the bath man's and he has taken this form of revenge. If this gives me the responsibility I am willing to take it. If you expect me to ask you to stay I'll not do it. I don't mind saying that I am as tired of all this as you are."

"As tired of what?" demanded Mr. Moody, pushing forward out of the crowd. Mr. Sam was making frantic gestures to catch Mr. Pierce's eye, but he would not look at him.

"Of all this," he said. "Of charging people sanatorium prices under a pretense of making them well. Does anybody here imagine he's going to find health by sitting around in an overstuffed leather chair, with the temperature at eighty, eating five meals a day, and walking as far as the mineral spring for exercise?"

There was a sort of angry snarl in the air, and Mr. Sam threw up his one free hand in despair.

"In fact," Mr. Pierce went on, "I'd about decided on a new order of things for this place anyhow. It's going to be a real health resort, run for people who want to get well or keep well. People who wish to be overfed, overheated and coddled need not come—or stay."

The bishop spoke over the heads of the others, who looked dazed.

"Does that mean," he inquired mildly, "that—guests must either obey this new order of things or go away?"

Mr. Pierce looked at the bishop and smiled.

"I'm sorry, sir," he said, "but as every one is leaving, anyhow—"

They fairly jumped at him then. They surrounded him in a howling mob and demanded how he dared to turn them out, and what did he mean by saying they were overfed, and they would leave when they were good and ready and not before, and he could go to blazes. It was the most scandalous thing I've ever known of at Hope Springs, and in the midst of it Mr. Pierce stood cool and quiet, waiting for a chance to speak. And when the time came he jumped in and told them the truth about themselves, and most of it hurt.

He was good and mad, and he stood there and picked out the flabby ones and the fat ones, the whisky livers and the tobacco hearts and the banquet stomachs, and called them out by name.

When he got through they were standing in front of him, ashamed to look at one another, and not knowing whether to fall on him and tear him to pieces, or go and weep in a corner because they'd played such havoc with the bodies the Lord gave them. If he'd weakened for a minute they'd have jumped on him. But he didn't. He got through and stood looking at them in their sheets, and then he said coolly:

"The bus will be ready at two-thirty, gentlemen," and turning on his heels, went into the office and closed the door.

They scattered to their rooms in every stage of rage and excitement, and at last only Mr. Sam and I were left staring at each other. "Damned young idiot!" he said. "I wish to heavens you'd never suggested bringing him here, Minnie!"

And leaving me speechless with indignation, he trailed himself and his sheet up the stairs.



CHAPTER XXII

HOME TO ROOST

I couldn't stand any more. It was all over! I rushed to my room and threw myself on the bed. At two-thirty I heard the bus come to the porte-cochere under my window and then drive away; that was the last straw. I put a pillow over my head so nobody could hear me, and then and there I had hysterics. I knew I was having them, and I wasn't ashamed. I'd have exploded if I hadn't. And then somebody jerked the pillow away and I looked up, with my eyes swollen almost shut, and it was Doctor Barnes. He had a glass of water in his hand and he held it right above me.

"One more yell," he said, "and it goes over you!"

I lay there staring up at him, and then I knew what a fright I looked, and although I couldn't speak yet, I reached up and felt for my hairpins.

"That's better," he said, putting down the glass. "Another ten minutes of that and you'd have burst a blood vessel. Don't worry. I know I have no business here, but I anticipated something of this kind, and it may interest you to know that I've been outside in the hall since the first whoop. It's been a good safety-valve."

I sat up and stared at him. I could hardly see out of my eyes. He had his back to the light, but I could tell that he had a cross of adhesive plaster on his cheek and that one eye was almost shut. He smiled when he saw my expression.

"It's the temperament," he said. "It goes with the hair. I've got it too, only I'm apt to go out and pick a fight at such times, and a woman hasn't got that outlet. As you see, I found Mike, and my disfigurement is to Mike's as starlight to the noonday glare. Come and take a walk."

I shook my head, but he took my arm and pulled me off the bed.

"You come for a walk!" he said. "I'll wait in the hall until you powder your nose. You look like a fire that's been put out by a rain-storm."

I didn't want to go, but anything was better than sitting in the room moping. I put on my jacket and Miss Patty's chinchillas, which cheered me a little, but as we went downstairs the quiet of the place sat on my chest like a weight.

The lower hall was empty. A new card headed "Rules" hung on the door into the private office, but I did not read it. What was the use of rules without people to disobey them? Mrs. Moody had forgotten her crocheting bag and it hung on the back of a chair. I had to bite my lip to keep it from trembling again.

"The Jenningses are still here," said the doctor. "The old man is madder than any hornet ever dared be, and they go in the morning. But the situation was too much for our German friend. He left with the others."

Well, we went out and I took the path I knew best, which was out toward the spring-house. There wasn't a soul in sight. The place looked lonely, with the trees hung with snow, and arching over the board walk. At the little bridge over the creek Doctor Barnes stopped, and leaning over the rail, took a good look at me.

"When you self-contained women go to pieces," he said, "you pretty near smash, don't you? You look as if you'd had a death in your family."

"This WAS my family," I half sniveled.

"But," he said, "you'll be getting married and having a home of your own and forgetting all about this."

He looked at me with his sharp eyes. "There's probably some nice chap in the village, eh?"

I shook my head. I had just caught sight of the broken pieces of the Moody water-pitcher on the ice below.

"No nice young man!" he remarked. "Not the telegraph operator, or the fellow who runs the livery-stable—I've forgotten his name."

"Look here," I turned on him, "if you're talking all this nonsense to keep my mind off things, you needn't."

"I'm not," he said. "I'm asking for the sake of my own mind, but we'll not bother about that now. We'd better start back."

It was still snowing, although not so hard. The air had done me some good, but the lump in my throat seemed to have gone to my chest. The doctor helped me along, for the snow was drifting, and when he saw I was past the crying stage he went back to what we were both thinking about.

"Old Pierce is right," he said. "Remember, Miss Minnie, I've nothing against you or your mineral spring; in fact, I'm strong for you both. But while I'm out of the ring now for good—I don't mind saying to you what I said to Pierce, that the only thing that gets into training here, as far as I can see, is a fellow's pocketbook."

We went back to the house and I straightened the news stand, Amanda King having taken a violent toothache as a result of the excitement. The Jenningses were packing to go, and Miss Summers had got a bottle of peroxide and shut herself in her room. At six o'clock Tillie beckoned to me from the door of the officers' dining-room and said she'd put the basket in the snow by the grape arbor. I got ready, with a heavy heart, to take it out. I had forgotten all about their dinner, for one thing, and I had to carry bad news.

But Mr. Pierce had been there before me. I saw tracks in the fresh snow, for, praise heaven! it had snowed all that week and our prints were filled up almost as fast as we made them. When I got to the shelter-house it was in a wild state of excitement. Mrs. Dick, with her cheeks flushed, had gathered all her things on the cot and was rolling them up in sheets and newspapers. But Mr. Dick was sitting on the box in front of the fire with his curly hair standing every way. He had been roasting potatoes, and as I opened the door, he picked one up and poked at it to see if it was done.

"Damn!" he said, and dropped it.

Mrs. Dick sat on the cot rolling up a pink ribbon and looked at him.

"If you want to know exactly my reason for insisting on moving to-night, I'll tell you," she said, paying no attention to me. "It is your disposition."

He didn't say anything, but he put his foot on the potato and smashed it.

"If I had to be shut in here with you one more day," she went on, "I'd hate you."

"Why the one more day?" he asked, without looking up.

But she didn't answer him. She was in the worst kind of a temper; she threw the ribbon down, and coming over, lifted the lid of my basket and looked in.

"Ham again!" she exclaimed ungratefully. "Thanks so much for remembering us, Minnie. I dare say our dinner to-day slipped your mind!"

"I wonder if it strikes you, Minnie," Mr. Dick said, noticing me for the first time, "that if you and Sam hadn't been so confounded meddling, that fellow Pierce would be washing buggies in the village livery-stable where he belongs, and I'd be in one piece of property that's as good as gone this minute."

"Egg salad and cheese!" said Mrs. Dick. "I'm sick of cheese. If that's the kind of supper you've been serving—"

But I was in a bad humor, anyhow, and I'd had enough. I stood just inside the door and I told them I'd done the best I could, not for them, but because I'd promised the old doctor, and if I'd made mistakes I'd answer for them to him if I ever met him in the next world. And in the meantime I washed my hands of the whole thing, and they might make out as best they could. I was going.

Mrs. Dick heard me through. Then she came over and put her hand on mine where it lay on the table.

"You're perfectly right," she said. "I know how you have tried, and that the fault is all that wretched Pierce's. You mustn't mind Mr. Carter, Minnie. He's been in that sort of humor all day."

He looked at her with the most miserable face I ever saw, but he didn't say anything. She sighed, the little wretch.

"We've all made mistakes," she said, "and not the least was my thinking that I—well, never mind. I dare say we will manage somehow."

He got up then, his face twisted with misery.

"Say it," he said. "You hate me; you shiver if I touch your hand—oh, I'm not very keen, but I saw that."

"The remedy for that is very, simple," she replied coolly. "You needn't touch my hand."

"Stop!" I snapped. "Just stop before you say something you'll be sorry for. Of course, you hate each other. It beats me, anyhow, why two people who get married always want to get away by themselves until they're so sick of each other that they don't get over it the rest of their lives. The only sensible honeymoon I ever heard of was when one of the chambermaids here married a farmer in the neighborhood. It was harvest and he couldn't leave, so she went ALONE to see her folks and she said it beat having him along all hollow."

She was setting out the supper, putting things down with a bang. He didn't move, although he must have been starving.

"Another thing I'd advise," I said. "Eat first and talk after. You'll see things different after you've got something in your stomach."

"I wish you wouldn't meddle, Minnie!" she snapped, and having put down her own plate and knife and fork, not laying a place for him, she went over and tried to get one of the potatoes from the fire.

Well, she burnt her finger, or pretended to, and I guess her solution was as good as mine, for she began to cry, and when I left he was tying it up with a bit of his handkerchief; if she shivered when he kissed it I didn't notice it. They were to come up to the house after her father left in the morning, and I was to dismiss all the old help and get new ones so he could take charge and let Mr. Pierce go.

I plodded back with my empty basket. I had only one clear thought,—that I wouldn't have any more tramping across the golf links in the snow. I was too tired really to care that with the regular winter boarders gone and eight weeks still until Lent, we'd hardly be able to keep going another fortnight. I wanted to get back to my room and go to bed and forget.

But as I came near the house I saw Mr. Pierce come out on the front piazza and switch on the lights. He stood there looking out into the snow, and the next minute I saw why. Coming up the hill and across the lawn was a shadowy line of people, black against the white. They were not speaking, and they moved without noise over the snow. I thought for a minute that my brain had gone wrong; then the first figure came into the light, and it was the bishop. He stood at the front of the steps and looked up at Mr. Pierce.

"I dare say," he said, trying to look easy, "that this is sooner than you expected us!"

Mr. Pierce looked down at the crowd. Then he smiled, a growing smile that ended in a grin.

"On the contrary," he said, "I've been expecting you for an hour or more."

The procession began to move gloomily up the steps. All of them carried hand luggage, and they looked tired and sheepish Miss Cobb stopped in front of Mr. Pierce.

"Do you mean to say," she demanded furiously, "that you knew the railroad was blocked with snow, and yet you let us go!"

"On the contrary, Miss Cobb," he said politely, "I remember distinctly regretting that you insisted on going. Besides, there was the Sherman House."

Senator Briggs {sic} stopped in front of him. "Probably you also knew that THAT was full, including the stables, with people from the stalled trains," he asserted furiously.

Two by two they went in and through the hall, stamping the snow off, and up to their old rooms again, leaving Slocum, the clerk, staring at them as if he couldn't believe his eyes.

Mr. Pierce and I watched from the piazza, through the glass.

We saw Doctor Barnes stop and look, and then go and hang over the news stand and laugh himself almost purple, and we saw Mr. Thoburn bringing up the tail of the procession and trying to look unconcerned. I am not a revengeful woman, but that was one of the happiest moments of my life.

Doctor Barnes turned suddenly, and catching me by the arm, whirled me around and around, singing wildly something about Noah and "the animals went in two by, two, the elephant and the kangaroo."

He stopped as suddenly as he began and walked me to the door again.

"We've got 'em in the ark," he said, "but I'm thinking this forty days of snow is nearly over, Minnie. I don't think much of the dove and the olive-branch, but WE'VE GOT TO KEEP THEM."

"It's against the law," I quavered.

"Nonsense!" he said. "We've got to make 'em WANT to stay!"



CHAPTER XXIII

BACK TO NATURE

We gave them a good supper and Mr. Pierce ordered claret served without extra charge. By eight o'clock they were all in better humor, and when they'd gathered in the lobby Miss Summers gave an imitation of Marie Dressler doing the Salome dance. Every now and then somebody would look out and say it was still snowing, and with the memory of the drifts and the cold stove in the railroad station behind them, they'd gather closer around the fire and insist that they would go as soon as the road was cleared.

But with the exception of Mr. von Inwald, not one of them really wanted to go. As Doctor Barnes said over the news stand, each side was bluffing and wouldn't call the other, and the fellow with the most nerve would win.

"And, oh, my aunt!" he said, "what a sweet disposition the von Inwald has! Watch him going up and banging his head against the wall!"

Everybody was charmed with the Salome dance, especially when Miss Summers drew the cover off a meat platter she'd been dancing around, and there was Arabella sitting on her hind legs, with a card tied to her neck, and the card said that at eleven there would be a clambake in the kitchen for all the guests.

(The clambake was my idea, but the dog, of course, was Miss Julia's. I never saw a woman so full of ideas, although it seems that what should have been on the platter was the head of somebody or other.)

Just after the dance I saw Mr. von Inwald talking to Miss Patty. He had been ugly all evening, and now he looked like a devil. She stood facing him with her head thrown back and her fingers twisting her ruby ring. I guessed that she was about as much surprised as anything else, people having a habit of being pleasant to her most of the time. He left her in a rage, and as he went he collided with Arabella and kicked her. Miss Patty went white but Miss Summers was not a bit put out. She simply picked up the howling dog and confronted Mr. von Inwald.

"Perhaps you didn't notice," she said sweetly, "but you kicked my dog."

"Why don't you keep her out of the way?" he snarled, and they stood glaring at each other.

"Under the circumstances, Arabella," Miss Julia said—and everybody was listening—"we can only withdraw Mr. von Inwald's invitation to the kitchen."

"Thank you, I had not intended to go," he said furiously, and went out into the veranda, slamming the door behind him. Mr. Jennings looked up from where he was playing chess by the fire and nodded at Miss Summers.

"Serves him right for his temper!" he said.

"Checkmate!" said the bishop.

Mr. Jennings turned and glared at the board. Then with one sweep he threw all the chessmen on the floor. As Tillie said later, it would be a pity to spoil two houses with Mr. von Inwald and Mr. Jennings If they were in the same family, they could work it off on each other.

Miss Patty came down to the news stand and pretended to hunt for a magazine. I reached over and stroked her hand. "Don't take it too hard, dearie," I said. "He's put out to-night, and maybe he isn't well. Men are like babies. If their stomachs are all right and have plenty in them, they're pleasant enough. It's been my experience that your cranky man's a sick man."

"I don't think he is sick, Minnie," she said, with a catch in her voice. "I—I think he is just dev—devilish!"

Well, I thought that too, so I just stroked her hand, and after a minute she got her color again. "It is hard for him," she said. "He thinks this is all vulgar and American, and—oh, Minnie, I want to get away, and yet what shall I do without you to keep me sensible."

"You'll be a long ways off soon," I said, touching the ring under my hand.

"I wish you could come with me," she said, but I shook my head.

"Here is one dog that isn't going to sit under any rich man's table and howl for crumbs," I answered. "If he kicked ME, I'd bite him."

At eleven o'clock we had the clambake with beer in the kitchen, and Mr. von Inwald came, after all. They were really very cheerful, all of them. Doctor Barnes insisted that Senator Biggs must not fast any longer, and he ate by my count three dozen clams. At the end, when everybody was happy and everything forgiven, Mr. Pierce got up and made a speech.

He said he was sorry for what had happened that day, but that much he had said he still maintained: that to pretend to make people well in the way most sanatoriums did it was sheer folly, and he felt his responsibility too keenly to countenance a system that was clearly wrong and that the best modern thought considered obsolete.

Miss Cobb sat up at that; she is always talking about the best modern thought.

He said that perfect health, clear skins, bright eyes—he looked at the women, and except for Miss Patty, there wasn't an honest complexion or a bright eye in the lot—keen appetites and joy of living all depended on rational and simple living.

"Hear, hear!" said the men.

"The nearer we live to nature, the better," said Senator Biggs oracularly.

"Back to nature," shouted Mr. Moody through a clam.

"Exactly," Mr. Pierce said, smiling.

Mrs. Moody looked alarmed. "You don't mean doing without clothes—and all that!" she protested.

"Surely!" Miss Summers said, holding up her beer glass. "A toast, everybody! Back to nature, sans rats, sans rouge, sans stays, sans everything. I'll need to wear a tag with my name on it. Nobody will recognize me!"

Mr. Pierce got up again at the head of the long kitchen table and said he merely meant rational living—more air, more exercise, simpler food and better hours. It was being done now in a thousand fresh-air farms, and succeeding. Men went back to their business clearer-headed and women grew more beautiful.

At that, what with the reaction from sitting in the cold station, and the beer and everything, they all grew enthusiastic. Doctor Barnes made a speech, telling that he used to be puny and weak, and how he went into training and became a pugilist, and how he'd fought the Tennessee something or other—the men nodded as if they knew—and licked him in forty seconds or forty rounds, I'm not sure which. The men were standing on their chairs cheering for him, and even Mr. Jennings, who'd been sitting and not saying much, said he thought probably there was something in it.

They ended by agreeing to try it out for a week, beginning with the morning, when everybody was to be down for breakfast by seven-thirty. Mr. Thoburn got up and made a speech, protesting that they didn't know what they were letting themselves in for, and ended up by demanding to know if he was expected to breakfast at seven-thirty.

"Yes, or earlier," Mr. Pierce said pleasantly. "I suppose you could have something at seven."

"And suppose I refuse?" he retorted disagreeably.

But everybody turned on him, and said if they could do it, he could, and he sat down again. Then somebody suggested that if they were to get up they'd have to go to bed, and the party broke up.

Doctor Barnes helped me gather up the clam shells and the plates.

"It's a risky business," he said. "To-night doesn't mean anything; they're carried away by the reaction and the desire for something new. The next week will tell the tale."

"If we could only get rid of Mr. Thoburn!" I exclaimed. Doctor Barnes chuckled.

"We may not get rid of him," he said, "but I can promise him the most interesting week of his life. He'll be too busy for mischief. I'm going to take six inches off his waist line."

Well, in a half-hour or so I had cleared away, and I went out to the lobby to lock up the news stand. Just as I opened the door from the back hall, however, I heard two people talking.

It was Miss Pat and Mr. Pierce. She was on the stairs and he in the hall below, looking up.

"I don't WANT to stay!" she was saying.

"But don't you see?" he argued. "If you go, the others will. Can't you try it for a week?"

"I quite understand your motive," she said, looking down at him more pleasantly than she'd ever done, "and it's very good of you and all that. But if you'd only left things as they were, and let us all go, and other people come—"

"That's just it," he said. "I'm told it's the bad season and nobody else would come until Lent. And, anyhow, it's not business to let a lot of people go away mad. It gives the place a black eye."

"Dear me," she said, "how businesslike you are growing!"

He went over close to the stairs and dropped his voice.

"If you want the bitter truth," he went on, trying to smile, "I've put myself on trial and been convicted of being a fool and a failure. I've failed regularly and with precision at everything I have tried. I've been going around so long trying to find a place that I fit into, that I'm scarred as with many battles. And now I'm on probation—for the last time. If this doesn't go, I—I—"

"What?" she asked, leaning down to him. "You'll not—"

"Oh, no," he said, "nothing dramatic, of course. I could go around the country in a buggy selling lightning-rods—"

She drew herself back as if she resented his refusal of her sympathy.

"Or open a saloon in the Philippines!" he finished mockingly. "There's a living in that."

"You are impossible," she said, and turned away.

Oh, I haven't any excuse to make for him! I think he was just hungry for her sympathy and her respect, knowing nothing else was coming to him. But the minute they grew a bit friendly he seemed to remember the prince, and that, according to his idea of it, she was selling herself, and he would draw off and look at her in a mocking unhappy way that made me want to slap him.

He watched her up the stairs and then turned and walked to the fire, with his hands in his pockets and his head down.

I closed the news stand and he came over just as I was hanging up the cigar-case key for Amanda King in the morning. He reached up and took the key off its nail.

"I'll keep that," he said. "It's no tobacco after this, Minnie."

"You can't keep them here, then," I retorted. "They've got to smoke; it's the only work they do."

"We'll see," he said quietly. "And—oh, yes, Minnie, now that we shall not be using the mineral spring—"

"Not use the mineral spring!" I repeated, stupefied.

"Certainly NOT!" he said. "This is a drugless sanatorium, Minnie, from now on. That's part of the theory—no drugs."

"Well, I'll tell you one thing," I snapped, "theory or no theory, you've got to have drugs. No theory that I ever heard of is going to cure Mr. Moody's indigestion and Miss Cobb's neuralgia."

"They won't have indigestion and neuralgia."

"Or Amanda King's toothache."

"We won't have Amanda King."

He put his elbow on the stand and smiled at me.

"Listen, Minnie," he said. "If you hadn't been wasting your abilities in the mineral spring, I'd be sorry to close it. But there will be plenty for you to do. Don't you know that the day of the medicine-closet in the bath-room and the department-store patent-remedy counter is over? We've got sanatoriums now instead of family doctors. In other words, we put in good sanitation systems and don't need the plumber and his repair kit."

"The pharmacy?" I said between my teeth.

"Closed also. No medicine, Minnie. That's our slogan. This is the day of prophylaxis. The doctors have taken a step in the right direction and are giving fewer drugs. Christian Science has abolished drugs and established the healer. We simply abolish the healer."

"If we're not going to use the spring-house, we might have saved the expense of the new roof in the fall," I said bitterly.

"Not at all. For two hours or so a day the spring-house will be a rest-house—windows wide open and God's good air penetrating to fastnesses it never knew before."

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