The Heart Of The Loaf by Earl Derr Biggers
First published in The Saturday Evening Post, Aug 5, 1922
THE night had been warm in Lower Ten, and Bob Dana's mouth
was dry and his head noticeably overweight as he fastened his suitcase
preparatory to leaving the train. He set his bag in the aisle and dropped
down again on the green plush seat. Outside the window old familiar scenes
were flashing by, fields where he had played, a brook where he had gone
swimming, and his heart was suddenly touched, for it often happens that the
traveler is never so homesick as on coming home at last.
The train stopped and Bob followed the porter to the door and down into
the bright June sunshine. Five exciting years had gone by since he last stood
on this narrow platform, stared at the unwashed windows and the rotting roof
of the ancient C. P. & D. station. Mayfield again, sleepy old Mayfield.
The New York-Chicago express paused but briefly; already it was slipping past
him as he walked along, carrying his heavy bag. When he reached the
platform's end the train was no more, and he had an unobstructed view up Main
Street to the green of the courthouse park beyond.
"Well, stranger, where you want to go?" said a familiar voice at his
Bob turned. There stood Clay Harkins, town hackman for thirty years and
"Stranger, Clay?" the young man smiled. "Where do you get that stuff?"
Clay stared for a long moment into the lean tanned face that was nearly
two feet above him. "Well, I be darned," he said at last. "If it isn't little
"Little Bobby, sure enough," answered the young man. "But, Clay—I
see the band."
"The band to play Hail, the Conquering Hero Comes as I ride up Main Street
in an open barouche with the mayor. And say, look here—I don't see the
"You must be joking, Bobby," responded Clay tolerantly. "Well, boy, you
sure have changed. What you doin' back in Mayfield?"
"I came here to do a job of work."
"A job? Why, I heard you was a painter. Messed round with little
"Well, Clay, that's the truth."
The old man pondered. "Somebody in Mayfield want his house painted?" he
"No, not his house. His father."
"His father! Well, I be darned." Clay stepped closer and seized one of the
lapels of the young man's coat. "Where'd ye git the suit, Bobby?"
Bob laughed. "It was made for me by Jimmy Breen, an English tailor on the
Promenade des Anglais, at Nice. Does it intrigue you, Clay?"
"Pretty good stuff," Clay admitted. "Not so good as this one I got on,
though." He stepped back to permit a more comprehensive survey. "Bought her
twelve years ago at the Racket Store, an' she's just as good as she ever
"Twelve years," repeated Bob solemnly. "Almost time to have her cleaned
and pressed. Don't you think so, Clay?"
"Not much," Clay answered. "You know what they charge for that now?
Seventy- five cents. Yes, sir! Well, Bobby, is they any place you'd like to
The young man leaned against a telegraph post and lighted a cigarette.
"Dozens of places," he announced. "The Orient, for example. China. Want to
sit on the Great Wall and paint the remnants of an ancient civilization. And
after that— "
Clay cut in on this nonsense. "Take you anywhere in May-field for fifty
"It used to be a quarter."
"Sure it did. But they's been a war. Maybe you heard about it?"
"Heard about it? Clay, old scout, I was nearer than that. I heard it." He
blew a cloud of smoke toward the blazing sky. "But you don't want the story
of my adventures, do you? Nobody ever does. Coming down to cases, I suppose
the Mayfield House is still doing business at the old stand?"
A frail white-haired little man with gold-rimmed eyeglasses came hopping
along the platform—Will Varney, the Mayfield Enterprise's publisher,
and star reporter, all in one. He stopped.
"Why, it's Bobby Dana! Hello, Bob. You back again?"
"Hello, Mr. Varney. I seem to be back, that's a fact. May-field's worst
"Wouldn't say that," smiled the editor. "Going up street?"
"Yes, I guess so." The young man turned and saw disappointment clouding
Clay's battered face. "Think I'll walk, Clay. Do me good. But here's the half
dollar, just the same." He nodded toward his bag. "You take that young trunk
up to the Mayfield House and leave it there. And here's a check for his older
brother. You might deliver that too."
"Sure, Bobby; sure."
The returning traveler fell into step beside the editor.
"Well, boy, you're quite a stranger," Varney remarked.
"Five years. I believe you were at the station when I went away."
Varney nodded. "Yes, I guess so. That's been my role in the drama, Bob. At
the station, watching others go. Watching them—with envy."
"Like to travel yourself, eh?" said Bob. "Well, why not? Can't you get
"No, I can't," answered Varney. "But it's not because I'm too busy. It's
because I'm too poor. Journalism's a genteel profession, my boy. That's about
all you can say for it." They walked on up Main Street in silence for a
moment. "Eugene Benedict was telling me yesterday he'd sent for you," the
editor continued. "Wants you to do a portrait of the old man, I
"Yes. It's kind of hack work, but I need the money. Painting is also a
Will Varney's eyes twinkled. "Well, I don't suppose you know it, but
you're going to stir up a hornet's nest with your picture. You're certainly
going to start something in this town."
"Great Scott. You don't think it will be as bad as all that."
"That's not what I meant."
"Then what did you mean?"
"Reckon I'll let 'Gene explain it to you. Where do you aim to put up?"
"Mayfield House, I suppose."
"Heaven help you! You must come up to our place for supper—often.
Mother'll be happy to have you."
"That's kind of you," Bob Dana said. "I take it the Mayfield House hasn't
"Nothing has changed," answered Will Varney, with just a trace of
bitterness in his gentle voice. "Same old Mayfield. Eight thousand population
when you went away, eight thousand or even less to-day. Sound asleep, this
town is. All up and down the valley—I guess you saw 'em when you came
along— steel mills, blast furnaces—"
"Smoke and grime."
"Prosperity, Bob. Life. Every town around here has grown and thrived,
touched by the magic fingers of the steel industry. But slow old
"You're writing an editorial," Bob laughed.
"I've written it," Varney said. "Time and again. Yes, I've blown the horn,
but not a sleeper waked. A lot of old moss-backs—that's what has ailed
Mayfield. I tell you, what this town's needed has been a few big funerals.
And we're getting 'em at last. Quite a group of our leading citizens have
gone this past winter—old Henry Benedict, Judge Samuel Ward. They're
dropping off. You needn't look at me," he added smilingly. "I'm feeling
"Hope so, I'm sure," Bob answered. "Don't feel so well myself."
"What's the trouble?"
"No breakfast yet. Silly little habit of mine."
They were now in the very heart of the town's oldest business section, and
on the signs about him Bob Dana read many a name familiar to his youth. He
glanced across the brick-paved street to a shabby one-story building built of
wood. Gilt letters against a black background announced this as the
establishment of Herman Schall, the Baker, and on the window in white letters
were the words: "Schall's Bread—Fresh Every Hour." In the doorway
portly bespectacled old German with a white apron draped across his ponderous
"Well, well," Bob cried. "There's old Herman Schall! Used to buy cookies
from him—years and years ago."
"Yes, Herman's still on the job," Varney said. "Tiptoeing round the
kitchen turning down the gas, just as he used to count the lumps of coal in
the days before gas ranges. A penny saved is a penny earned. Leave it to
Suddenly Bob Dana felt a glow of friendliness for the old man across the
street. "I think I'll go over and ask him for some coffee and rolls," he
announced. "Good place as any for breakfast, I guess. See you later." He
stopped. "Say, what in the world did you mean—about this portrait I'm
to do stirring up trouble?"
Varney laughed. "Don't you worry, boy. The row won't concern you. Come in
when you get a chance and tell me about your travels."
"I sure will."
"That's a promise," the little editor reminded him.
Bob crossed the street and stood before Herman Schall, impassive as a
statue in his doorway. "Hello, Herman," he said.
The old man peered at him through thick lenses. "Excuse, please. The eyes
ain't so good."
"Herman, you old rascal. Don't you know me? Dana. Bob Dana."
"Little Bobby Dana!" cried the old man. "Sure I know you. Sure!"
"I should hope so. How about a bite of breakfast, Herman? Just coffee and
"Coffee and rolls, hey? Come in, Bobby, and take a chair."
Bob followed him inside. The place had a run-down air, prosperity had
passed, an old man was left to putter round the scene of his life's
activities. Two small tables stood against the wall, their covers faded and
patched, but clean.
The young man hung his hat on a rack and sat down. He watched the baker
enter the kitchen at the rear, heard his instant cry: "Louie, Louie—turn
down dot gas!" Heavy footsteps resounded—Herman saving the pennies.
time the old man reappeared, carrying two rolls on a plate, and a steaming
cup, muttering and protesting to himself: "Oh, dot Louie! In the poorhouse he
will have me yet." He set the dishes down before his customer.
"And butter," Bob suggested. "Any butter on the program?"
The old baker ambled off. Bob broke open one of the rolls. The crust was
brown and crisp, but the inside was soggy. However, he was young and
reckless—and hungry—and when Herman returned with a thin slice
of butter he
While he ate, Herman hovered aimlessly near by. "They tell me you was in
the old country," he said presently. "Maybe you was in
"Off and on," Bob told him. "Mostly in Paris and Rome—Florence too.
Studying, you know. Trying to be a painter."
"A painter? Artist, hey? Is dot so?" He pondered this for a time, standing
and blinking down on Bob's brown head. "My nephew in Stuttgart—he
an artist, too, now, maybe. Only the war " The old face clouded. He wandered
His brief meal finished, Bob stood with Herman in the solemn presence of
the cash register. "You had enough, hey?" the old man inquired. "Twenty
"How's business?" Bob asked as he paid.
"Business ain't so good," sighed Herman. "Us old merchants, we get crowded
out. Strangers they come and take our trade. Too much competition."
"I'm sorry," the young man answered. "But you can't complain. For years
you were the only baker in Mayfield. I guess I've seen your wagon standing in
front of every house in town—all the big bugs on Maple Avenue. You had
things all your own way then."
"Sure, sure; but not no more." Herman shuffled from behind the counter,
gathered the dishes from the table, turned toward the kitchen. "Good-by,
Bobby." As Bob reached for his hat he heard the querulous old voice:
"Louie—ach, would you have me in the poorhouse yet?"
The clock in the courthouse was striking nine; Main Street was astir with
life. Bob Dana cut across under the elms of the park. Suddenly before him
loomed the dingy outlines of the Mayfield House, a three-story building of
brick with a pretentious cupola on one corner. Back in the 'eighties when it
was built Will Varney's father had spoken of it in the Enterprise as "the
finest hotel building in any town of comparable size between New York and
Chicago. A modern hostelry in every sense of the word."
But in thirty years the most modern of hostelries may alter sadly. The
marble lobby was soiled and battered, Bob noted, as he crossed it and engaged
a room from the somewhat seedy stranger at the desk. His bag lay on the
floor. A bell- boy seized it and led the way through swinging doors at the
rear into a dark and smelly cave. Bob stumbled after him up the stairs and
finally out into the light of a big room on the second floor front.
"There's a bath here, isn't there?" he inquired.
"Sure, there's a bath," the boy answered proudly. He flung open a door.
"Right in here. Only room in the house that's got one. Used to belong to Mr.
Bob remembered; old man Cornell, who sat for years before the hotel, his
hands crossed on his cane, his watery eyes staring off into space. "Where's
Mr. Cornell now?"
"Dead," said the boy. "Last winter."
"Who runs the hotel since he's gone?"
"Oh, I don't know. It just seems to run itself. Your trunk's down-stairs;
I'll send it up."
Left alone, Bob tossed his clothes on to old man Cornell's bed and filled
old man Cornell's tin tub with cold water, half of which he obtained from a
faucet plainly marked "Hot." After his bath he arrayed himself in his best,
and lighting a pipe sat down to read a Cleveland paper he had bought on the
train. He had drawn an easy-chair into the big bay window, and after a few
moments the paper fell from his hand and he sat staring out at his town.
Here he had been born and spent his youth; across the park that dozed
under the elms he had gone a thousand times to and from high school; under
that very tree he had stood one afternoon in 1906 and watched the old
courthouse burn. Suppose God had not given him his inexplicable talent with
the brush, the never- satisfied ambition that went with it. He would still be
a part of Mayfield, perhaps this young mechanic driving a flivver down Market
Street; or that brisk young business man hurrying to the bank for his day's
cash; or even that hopeless figure out of work and lolling on a bench in the
But he was none of these, he was Bob Dana who wanted to be an artist and
was on his way. That way had led him far from Mayfield, perhaps in the future
it would lead him farther still. But this remained his town, these were his
people. There was nothing but kindness in his eyes as he sat staring out
through old man Cornell's window. Let others belittle the environment that
had molded them. Bob Dana was one of those faithful souls who, having once
given their affection, can not take it back.
A narrow, mean little town? Some people might call it that. Certainly
there were narrow, mean folks in it, as in all towns; big cities too. And
certainly it was, as Will Varney had said, a town that slept. All the way
from Pittsburgh that morning Bob had ridden under the pall of the steel
mills' smoke; up and down the valley Mayfield's neighbors prospered, but here
the old order remained, the conservatives had made good their slogan, "Keep
the strangers out." They had triumphed, the moss-backs. And was it such a
pity, after all?
The courthouse clock was striking ten when Bob rose from his chair,
brushed scattered ashes from his coat, and sought the street.
The First National Bank stood, as in former days, on the corner of Market
and Park, its home a worn old business block with the figures "1888" cut in
the stone at the front. On the opposite corner, Bob Dana noticed, an
ambitious project was under way, a six-story office building not quite
He went into the First National and asked for the president. As he entered
that official's private office Eugene Benedict jumped up to greet him. A
ruddy, prosperous little man, Eugene, with a flower in his buttonhole and the
unlined face of a baby. He had never had a worry in his life save the
presumption of the working classes and, these later years, Bolshevism.
"Hello, Bob!" he cried. "Thought it was about time for you to breeze in.
How are you, anyhow?"
"Great," said Bob. He banished his smile temporarily. "Seems strange not
to see your father here."
Eugene sought to be solemn too. "Yes, poor father. Passed away in April,
as I wrote you. A sick man for months, but insisted on coming down here up to
the day he died. Just wouldn't give up, you know."
"Ah, yes—he had that reputation." Bob Dana was sorely tempted, but he
refrained from saying it.
"A great pity," Eugene went on. "If only he could have lived until we
moved into our new building across the street."
"Oh—is that yours?"
"You bet. Six stories. Finest office building for a town this size
anywhere between New York and Chicago."
"Pretty daring for Mayfield, isn't it?" Bob inquired.
"Oh, I don't think so. Mayfield is going to pick up. Forge ahead. 'Twenty
thousand by the next census'—that's our slogan now. Got a chamber of
commerce and a Rotary Club and everything. Bound to boom."
"Seems about time," said Bob. "But about our little job of work. When do I
hang up my hat and begin?"
"Sooner the better. You know, it was a great surprise to me to find you
could paint a portrait of father now. Really, the whole idea came from
"Oh, yes—Delia. How is she?"
"Fine. Just came home from college last week. Graduated."
"That so? The last time I saw Dell was at the senior dance after
high-school commencement. I stepped on her skirt and tore it. I believe we
parted more in anger than in sorrow."
"No? Well, they're wearing 'em shorter now. But as I was saying, I was
surprised to know you could paint a portrait of a man who
"Oh, sure. Of course they're not quite so satisfactory as those painted
from life. But they serve. Resurrection portraits, we call them."
"Resurrection portraits! Well, that's expressive. Now, we'll help you all
"You've a lot of old photographs, you wrote me."
"Well, we've several. And one crayon enlargement. And about the color of
the eyes and hair and all that—I'll watch you as you go along and keep
straight. We all will."
"That will be lovely," shuddered Bob Dana. "Did Dell recommend me for this
"Come to think of it, I guess she did. Now about the financial end of it.
A thousand dollars, I think you said. Need any of it in advance?"
"Well, I'm just back from Europe. To be frank with you—"
"Sure, Bob—that's all right. I'll write a check. How about three
Or"—he was, after all, Henry Benedict's son—"perhaps two hundred
"Oh, plenty," Bob told him. He took Eugene's check. "Mighty kind of
"Not at all. Now, Bob, I haven't told you anything of what's behind all
this. In the first place I want a cracking good portrait of father—a
speaking likeness. And I want it finished inside of four weeks, which is
about the stretch before we open our new banking quarters across the street.
You see, I intend to hang it in a prominent place in the main banking room,
and I want it there the day the doors are thrown open to the public."
"That's all right. You'll have it."
"Good! I'm going to hang it there, and underneath I'm going to put an
inscription. Just a few innocent words, but they'll stir up something in this
town, or I'm a liar."
"Why—what words?" asked Bob Dana, startled.
"Simply this: 'Henry Benedict; born 1858, died 1922. Banker and leading
citizen, who more than any of his contemporaries influenced the life of his
times and left his impress on the town.'"
"And then what?" Bob wanted to know.
"Nothing more. Just that."
"But I don't see anything explosive about that."
"No? You haven't kept up with things round here of course. Well, I want
you to understand just what we're working toward. Can you spare me a few
"Sure. All I've got."
Eugene Benedict rose and put on his hat. "Better if I let you see for
yourself," he announced. He led the way outside to his car, which was parked
across from the bank.
"Jump in," he ordered. "I'm taking you out to the cemetery."
"That's nice," said Bob Dana. "You've got sort of mysterious since I saw
you last, Mr. Benedict."
"Oh, no," protested Benedict. "It's simple enough—or will be when I
The car sped along Market Street and in a few moments turned in at the
cemetery gates. "Maybe you heard," said the banker—"Judge Samuel Ward
away last winter too."
"Somebody mentioned it. Sort of unhealthy climate you've got round here,
it seems to me."
"Not at all. Three score and ten—man's usual span." Eugene stopped
car before an imposing marble obelisk. "Get out here. This is the judge's
grave. I want you to read the inscription on that monument."
Bob Dana alighted and followed the banker. He stood in front of the
monument and read:
SAMUEL CLARK WARD
Who More Than Any of His Contemporaries Influenced
the Life of His Times and Left His Impress on the Town
"Oh," said Bob Dana. "I get you now."
"I thought you would," Eugene replied. "Jump in. We'll go back." He
stepped on the gas. "I want to tell you this thing has made me
mad. It's a direct slap at father. Sam Ward was a good man in his way, but an
obstructionist—an old grouch. He sat on every progressive movement
been attempted round here. His decisions from the bench were sour and
prejudiced. Of course father was a conservative too, but his conservatism was
based on a sound business instinct."
"Of course," smiled Bob.
"You've been away from Mayfield a long time, but if you think back you'll
realize that inscription is a lie. 'More than any of his contemporaries.' Ha!
Who says so? Clarence Ward; and not another soul in town. Everybody will tell
you that my father was Mayfield's leading citizen, that he financed every
project that came up, that he led the way for years. Yes, sir, if anybody
influenced the life of his times father was the man. And if Clarence Ward
thinks he can put an inscription like that on his father's tombstone and not
hear from me by return mail—well, he's got another think coming, that's
"I guess your come-back will give him pause," said Bob Dana.
"It ought to. Right in our main banking room. No one ever visits a
cemetery if he can help it. But father's memorial will be where hundreds will
see it every day—hundreds, mind you—everybody in Mayfield who
"Ought to start a nice little row."
"I hope not. Unless it starts a good big row I'll be disappointed. I want
this thing thrashed out now for all time. I know who will win." He brought
the car to a stop before the bank. "You can see now that I've got to have the
portrait on time, and that it must be good enough to be taken seriously.
Where were you thinking of doing the work?"
"Why—at the hotel, I suppose."
"Nonsense! We won't hear of it. I've talked it over with Mrs. Benedict;
we'll find you a place to work up at the house. Good thing to paint right
there in the atmosphere where father lived. Catch his spirit better."
"All right." Bob accompanied the banker inside.
"Tell you what you do—go up to the house this afternoon. Delia and
mother will help you pick out a room. Want the right light and all that, I
suppose. We'll clear it out and you can start slinging paint in the
"That's a go," Bob Dana agreed. "I'll be up about three."
Eugene disappeared into his office and Bob stopped at the paying teller's
window, where an old acquaintance cashed his check.
As he stepped again on to the hot sidewalk he was saying to himself: "And
they're all going to help. Won't that be nice? Happy days ahead." He walked
on toward the Mayfield House. "But at that, these little greenbacks sure do
feel grateful to the touch."
For an hour he sat around the lobby of the hotel, hoping for a glimpse of
some familiar face, but none appeared. When the dining-room doors were thrown
open for lunch he went over and glanced inside. One look discouraged
him—that, and the weird uncomfortable feeling in his chest. For his
didn't seem just right, his genial spirits of the morning had evaporated, he
felt depressed and gloomy. He went up-stairs and lay down on the bed.
At three that afternoon he crossed the park and set out up Maple Avenue.
His mood had not improved. He was conscious of a silly irritation over
nothing, a sudden dissatisfaction with the world which he was accustomed to
regard through cheerful, approving eyes. What, he wondered, ailed him
Under the tallest elms in town lay Maple Avenue, unchanged. Here were the
houses of the town's elite, outmoded piles of brick or stone standing in the
midst of beautiful lawns. He came shortly to the Benedict mansion, the finest
of all; in the old days it had represented for him wealth and the
aristocracy. He smiled to himself as he entered the big gate and strolled up
the front walk past a well-remembered cast-iron deer.
Delia Benedict was reading a novel on the front porch, and Bob felt a
little better at sight of her. Another link with his past, and assuredly a
link that had greatly improved since he last saw her. He had always liked
Dell, though he remembered her as a nervous, spindling girl who moved in a
constant whirlwind of energy that was decidedly wearing. He had never thought
her pretty, but time and an eastern college had changed her mightily. Her
slenderness was now a rather alluring item in her favor, she had seemingly
gained in repose, and you might almost call her—well, if not pretty, at
least charming, and alive.
"Hello, Dell," he said.
"Hello, Bob." She gazed at him approvingly.
"Little Bobby's grown up. Not so bad, either—as far as you've
"I'm not going any farther, Dell. Got to like me as I am." He dropped into
a chair beside her. "You've changed, Dell. But you're still wearing it, I
"Little old freckle on the end of your nose. I was wondering if it would
still be there."
"What an eye for trifles," she laughed.
"Trifles," he said solemnly, "make perfection, and perfection is no
trifle. Got that straight from Mike Angelo. Studied under him in Italy."
"Oh, yes—you and Angelo. Famous artist now, aren't you?"
"Who says so?"
"I read about you in a newspaper. It said you had a lot of talent."
"Did it say I had a lot of money too? You can't believe all you read in
the newspapers, my child. By the way, did that article move you to recommend
me for this job?"
"Did I do that?"
"I don't know—I forget. Anyhow it isn't much of a job—not for
"My dear girl, it's a life saver, and I'm mighty grateful. Even the most
talented of us must eat now and then. I'll give this assignment my best, to
justify your recommendation. And I may add that I'm going to enjoy the
"Oh," she smiled. "Father told you."
"Yes. Gave me a free ride to the cemetery and everything. The old story of
the Montagues and Capulets. By the way, who's playing Romeo? Clarence Ward
had a precious son if I'm not mistaken."
"Herb Ward," she answered. "Just graduated from law
"Oh, yes—little Herb. Pale young shrimp with curls and the air of a
prince. Used to ride around town in a pony cart. Nearly ran over a dog of
mine once, and I pulled him out of the cart and blacked his eye. Them was the
"You always did have such brutal instincts," she reminded him. "Even now
you look more like a boiler maker than an artist. It's hard to believe. Are
you sure you're the Bob Dana who paints?"
"Lead me to my new studio and I'll prove it to you. By the way, your
"Oh, yes. Come inside." She led him into a big cool hall. "You're the
white- haired boy round here—any room in the house you want. That's
Anybody who happens to be established there must be dropped from the
"Look out or I'll take your room." He followed her up the stairs and they
made the rounds of the second floor. His selection fell on a large guest-room
with a good north light not too impeded by the trees. "Move everything
out—rugs and all," he said. "Just a kitchen chair and maybe a little
"It shall be done, O Rajah," laughed Dell. They returned to the upper
hall. The girl snapped on an electric light, illuminating a dark corner. "By
the way, you'd better take a look at that," she said.
She pointed to a crayon portrait of a tired, dyspeptic-looking man in
middle age. His lips were a thin line on a thin face, his eyes fishy, his
entire aspect chill and bleak and seemingly lacking in all human feeling.
"Oh, yes—your grandfather," said Bob Dana, and his heart sank. For
moment he and Henry Benedict stared at each other.
"I know what you're thinking," Dell said. "You're thinking, 'There's old
Eight- Per-Cent. Benedict. I've got to resurrect him, and gosh, how I dread
"You wrong me," Bob smiled. "I was just wondering—how do we get
to you? No connection that I can see."
"Thanks for the ad. Well, the least said about poor Grandfather the
soonest mended. As a tyrant he made the Kaiser look weak. However, do the
best you can."
"Your father says he wants a speaking likeness."
"Heaven forbid!" said Dell. She snapped off the light, and Henry Benedict
receded into the shadows. "I moved him up here myself. Some battle, but I
won. We've got a few other photographs—an old tintype, and one of him
wedding day. He looked quite human then."
"Oh, I'll make out," Bob told her. "Your father has promised to keep a
sharp watch on me and tell me when I'm wrong."
"You poor thing—I'm afraid he will. Pretty tough for you."
"That's all right," he assured her as he followed her downstairs. "I've
got a strong constitution and a cheerful disposition. At least I always did
have—up to to-day. Somehow I feel terribly depressed and mean this
"I can't make out." He held the screen door for her and they returned to
the porch. A shaft of sunlight fell across her hair. "Honey!" Bob Dana
"What?" she inquired, surprised.
"Honey," he repeated enthusiastically. "The color of your hair, I mean.
I've been trying ever since I saw you again to think what that shade reminded
me of. I know now. It's honey—the sort of honey I used to have for
at a little pension in Rome. Lots of butter, and this honey, and delicious
hot rolls Oh, my lord!"
"What now? Bob, you are absurd."
"No, I'm not. I just remembered what's wrong with me. This depressed, sad
feeling. This wave of bitter regret. I ate two of Herman Schall's rolls for
breakfast, and the darned things weren't half baked."
"Oh," said Dell, "that's too bad. But you'll get over it. Only keep off
Herman Schall's bread. Do you really like my hair?"
"Like it? It's lovely! As a matter of fact—I don't want to spoil you,
Dell—but you're quite wonderful. I wish it was your portrait I was
"Well, I'm Father's favorite child. There are no others, of course, but
I'm well in the lead. Maybe after you do Grandfather you'll get an order to
"No," he said, sternly shaking his head. "I couldn't consider it.
Sorry—something else I just remembered. Artist, you know. Can't support
myself, let alone a What I mean is, I've got to keep my mind off girls. Not
so much as look at one. Dangerous. First thing I knew—"
"What are you talking about? You don't for a minute think that
"No, Dell; no, I mean to say, might get to know you, like you, think
better of your whole sex. Go right on from bad to worse, meet some little
flapper, fall for the wedding idea—another artist gone wrong!"
"You're in no danger here, my lad," said Dell. "Shall I tell Father you'll
punch the time clock in the morning?"
"Expect me at nine."
"All right. I'm afraid you'll have to put up with me around the house; I
live here, you know. But I want to set your mind at rest, so I'll tell you a
little secret. Keep it dark. This thing is more like the Capulets and
Montagues than you imagined. I'm engaged to Herbert Ward."
"What! Little Herb Ward?"
"Yes. He's not so bad. The curls are gone and he drives a racing car
"Well, I'm glad," said Bob grimly.
"Thanks. I knew you would be."
"You don't understand. I mean I'm glad I blacked his eye that time. I only
wish it had been permanent."
"You—an artist!" she said derisively. "With all those brutal
struggling inside you."
"Ain't any brutal instincts struggling inside me," he told her. "Just the
little old indigestion I bought from Herman Schall."
And he went from her down the walk, as solemn as the cast-iron deer.
* * * * *
"TO-MORROW morning at ten o'clock," said the Evening
Enterprise some weeks later, "the doors of the First National Bank's new home
will be thrown open to the public. The citizens of Mayfield may be pardoned a
keen pride in what they will behold. It is doubtful if any city of similar
size between New York and Chicago can boast finer banking-rooms. Pillars,
partitions and walls of marble, mahogany paneled rooms for the directors and
the president, in the basement safety deposit vaults of the newest design and
construction—all in all a revelation in modern banking quarters. To the
strains of sweet music discoursed by the Mayfield Silver Clarinet Band the
directors and officers will be happy to meet their friends and show them
about. It is understood that the chef d'oeuvre of the main banking-
room is to
be a portrait of Henry Benedict, the late president of the institution,
painted by our talented and up-and-coming young townsman, Robert Dana, son of
the late Melville Dana, well and favorably known to all our people. 'Come
one, come all' is the invitation extended by the bank."
At about the time Will Varney's words were being read by the citizens of
Mayfield Bob Dana sat before his finished job of work in his studio on the
second floor of the Benedict house. He looked at the moment neither up nor
coming, but rather down and out. The feeling of hopelessness, of doubt
concerning his own ability, that all true artists experience at the moment of
final achievement was his, and the remarks of the small but select group of
spectators gathered at his back did little to dispel it.
"Well, I don't know," Eugene Benedict was saying dubiously. "What do you
He appealed to his wife, a haughty beauty in her time, but somewhat faded
now. She adjusted her glasses and stared—a stare famous in Mayfield,
she had long been the social arbiter.
"I don't know either," she admitted. "Sometimes I think it looks like
Father—and sometimes I don't."
"My case exactly," said Eugene. "Around the chin—somehow. Did you
the chin fuller, Bob, as I suggested?"
"I think it's just wonderful," Dell announced.
Bob gave her a grateful look. "I've done my best," he said to Eugene.
"I've changed it and changed it and changed it, day after day, as your
opinions altered. Sometimes I think—you'll pardon my saying
thing would have been better if I hadn't listened to you quite so much."
"But we knew Father better than you did," Mrs Benedict reminded him.
"Yes," Bob sighed wearily. "Yet you never did agree on the color of his
hair. And as for the eyes—one of you said gray, and another green, and
another light blue. It's what always happens on this sort of portrait. I've
done my best, as I said, and if you don't like it I'll be happy to draw a
knife through it now, and pay you back that advance when I can."
"No, Bob, no!" cried Benedict, alarmed. "It's not so bad as that, my boy.
Perhaps we've given you a wrong impression. We were so close to Father, of
course we'd be over-critical. It's not bad—not bad at all—I'll
glad to hang it. Besides," he added with the usual tact of the layman
discussing an artist's work, "the inscription is to be the important thing,
Bob and Delia exchanged a long, understanding look. "Sure," Bob said.
"That's the way to look at it. The inscription will takeoff the curse."
"Now let's get down to dinner," Eugene ordered. "I've got a busy night
ahead at the bank. Will you stay, Bob?"
"Not to-night, thank you," Bob answered.
"Well, I'll take the picture down in the car to-morrow morning. Drop in
about nine and help me hang it. Now, Nellie, let's get along. Delia!"
The two older people left the room. Bob picked up his coat.
"Don't you mind them," smiled Dell. "They don't know anything about
art—not even what they like."
"It does resemble the old boy, Dell?"
"Bob—it's uncanny. I'm darn glad it's going to hang in the bank,
up here. It would make me nervous."
"Then maybe that newspaper was right. I mean—perhaps I have a little
"A little? Bob—what ails you?"
"Oh, I always feel like this just after I've finished a thing.
"Then you ought always to have some one around—some one who thinks
He stood staring into her eyes. He had been staring into them a great deal
of late—in the intervals of work; at luncheon, which he had been taking
daily with the Benedicts; sometimes at dinner, too; and in the evenings.
There had been a period when Eugene urged him warmly to look into Dell's
eyes, Eugene's feeling being that they somewhat resembled Henry Benedict's.
After a thorough investigation Bob denied this.
But now the portrait was finished. Bob Dana held open the door of the
guest- room studio.
"You're wanted at dinner," he smiled.
Dell followed him out on to the front porch. "I suppose you'll be going
back East soon?" she inquired.
"Yes; in a few days. Got some unexpected business to look after first.
Poor Father left me a little plot of land on the north side—the only
he owned after a long hard struggle. They're thinking of a factory there, and
I may sell it for fabulous wealth. All the money in the world—six
"Good luck," she said. "You must come up often until you go."
"I'll come for my things," he told her. "But"—he shook his
be about all, Dell. That had better be about all."
"Delia!" her mother called.
"Good-by," said Dell. "And the portrait, Bob—it's wonderful. I'll
"Thanks," he smiled. "The same goes for you. You've helped me through; I'd
have quit cold long ago if you hadn't been hanging around. You see, I'm sort
of silly and temperamental in many ways—even if I do look like a boiler
maker. Good-by, Dell."
He endured dinner at the Mayfield House, and passed a solemn evening with
a magazine in the apartments of the late Mr. Cornell. Promptly at nine in the
morning he appeared at the First National Bank. Entering the big front doors
he found himself in a fragrant bower of roses and other blooms.
"Well, things certainly look festive," he remarked when he encountered the
perspiring president. He took hold of the tag on a big basket of roses.
"Compliments of the Mayfield Lumber Company," he read.
Eugene smiled. "Yes, everybody whose notes we hold has come across," he
remarked. "And yet some people say there is no sentiment in business." Bob
looked at him in sudden wonder. Had little Eugene a sense of humor, after
all? The banker pointed to the spot where the portrait was to hang.
"Pretty good light, eh? That brass plate shows up fine. I'm glad I had it
in big letters. 'More than any of his contemporaries influenced the life of
his times and left his impress on the town.' That ought to hold Clarence Ward
for a while. Now, boys, bring the ladder." He picked up the portrait and
turned to Bob. "All the fellows have looked this over. They're delighted with
it. Say it's Father to the life. Congratulations."
Bob saw the portrait hung, and collected a check for eight hundred
"Like to have you stay and meet our leading citizens," Eugene suggested.
"Might interest you to hear their comments on the picture."
Bob was alarmed. "You don't insist on that?"
"Oh, no, of course not."
"Then I think I'd—I'd rather not."
"Funny fellows, these artists," thought Eugene Benedict.
Bob left the bank just as the Mayfield band began to discourse sweet music
and the eager citizens were crowding in. From others later he heard of that
day's happenings. The opening proved a big success, and no small part of the
interest shown was accorded Henry Benedict's portrait. But the painting
itself, Bob judged, figured only incidentally in the excitement. It was the
sentiment on the brass plate underneath that won most comment. Every one
recognized it at once for what it was, a direct challenge to the Ward family.
The non-combatants were amused and warmed at once to the fray; arguments
arose. The spirit seemed to be: "Is this a private fight, or can anybody get
Clarence Ward, slim, dignified, gray-haired, with the manner of the law
courts, came, all unsuspecting, into the bank about noon. He was standing
before the portrait of old Henry Benedict when Eugene emerged from his office
on the way to lunch. There, just as the sweet music came to a sudden stop,
the two met. The spectators held their breath.
"Hello, Clarence," said Eugene breezily. "What do you think of our new
"Very fine," admitted Mr. Ward coldly. "I have just been reading the
inscription under your father's portrait."
"Ah, yes," said Eugene, smiling sweetly.
"You ought to write fiction, Eugene," Mr. Ward advised. "Fiction, I
believe, is mostly lies."
Eugene flushed. "I am not aware of any inaccuracy in that inscription," he
"A pinch-penny banker!" sneered Mr. Ward. "Eight-Per-Cent. Benedict, I
believe they called him, though I don't recall that he was ever satisfied
with that modest rate."
"That will do!" Eugene cried.
"You have insulted the memory," Mr. Ward went on, flushing, too, "of one
of the finest men who ever lived, an incorruptible judge, an honored member
"A country lawyer with a mind as broad as a knife blade!" Eugene cut in.
"A millstone round the neck of progress!"
"Enough!" shouted Mr. Ward.
"You started it," the banker said. "Boasting on your dead father's
tombstone. Did you think you could get away with that fairy story? Not
"I intend," interrupted Mr. Ward, "to withdraw my personal account from
this bank. I shall also withdraw all funds of which I am trustee."
"Withdraw, and be damned to you!" roared Eugene.
He turned and walked from the bank. Mr. Ward glared after him. The feud
That evening, the warmest of the summer, to date, Bob Dana walked the
streets of his native town. His dominant emotion was joy. Henry Benedict was
finished; never again need he stare at that horrible crayon portrait, never
again writhe in his chair over the problem of Henry's eyes. He had eight
hundred dollars in his pocket, he was twenty-five, life stretched before him
gay and wonderful.
At the corner of Park Avenue and Market Street he narrowly escaped being
hit by an automobile.
He awoke in time, however, and leaped nimbly to safety. The car ran up to
the curb, stopped, and a familiar voice called "Whoo-oo!"
"What's the idea?" asked Dell as he went up to her. "Trying to end it all?
You gave me a turn, I'll say."
"Sorry," he apologized. "Just one of those boneheaded pedestrians. You
should have run me down. World's better without my sort. Better for
motorists, I mean."
"Hop in," she ordered. "I'll give you a spin. It will cool your fevered
"Thanks." He climbed into the seat at her side, and seized his hat just in
time as she shot the car off into the night. The cushions were soft, the
breeze rushed over him pleasantly. "This is elegant," he said. "And it's an
old story to you. Curse the rich!"
"Cut out the cursing," Dell answered. "We had plenty of that at dinner.
Father held forth on the subject of Clarence Ward."
"That so? I heard there was quite a little grapple at the bank."
"Sure was! Father's inscription did the work. He asked for a row, and now
he's got it. I hope he's satisfied."
"Well, the lad's jazzed things up. Give him credit. Say, I rather like the
moon. Take a look at it."
"No, thanks. I was doing just that when I nearly ran over you. Better keep
my eyes on the job."
"All right. I'll look at it for you and report. It's a grand old moon,
Dell. Same moon I've seen shining on the Arno and on the roses that bloom on
the long road up to Fiesole. I've seen it shining on the Colosseum and on the
Seine and on lovers in the Luxembourg, and from the Embankment watched it
silver the roofs of Parliament and Big Ben in his tower. I've seen it shining
on the Atlantic in the wake of a ship when the band was playing an
old-fashioned waltz—and now I've seen it shining on your hair."
"Still fond of honey?"
"Oh, Dell! If I could only get up in the morning and have those rolls in
Rome—melt in your mouth, they would, and the golden butter, and that
Life, Dell, life has possibilities."
"You sound rather happy to-night," she said.
"Why not? Eight hundred hard-earned dollars in my pocket. Going to put
over a big real-estate deal in a day or two. Then—there are a few
haven't caught that old moon shining, and thank God the boats still run."
"I wish I were a man!" Dell said suddenly.
"Well, you're mighty nice as you are," he told her. "But of
are advantages. Now, take my own case. So many interesting things I can do.
First of all, I ought to find a place to do a bit of work before I wander off
again. Know what I'm planning? Little cottage out on the end of Cape Cod, in
Provincetown. Exhilarating spot, air like good red licker, sea spray in your
face when you go down to watch the fishing boats come in. I can get it for
twenty-eight hundred cash. Going to buy it, fill it with my traps, work there
when the spirit moves, pull out when the soles itch again. Good idea, eh,
"Splendid!" she answered gayly.
"When I'm hard up," he went on, "I can eat fish. They give 'em away. Fish
aren't so bad, you know."
"I know," she said softly.
"Little half acre I can call my own. Every man ought to have a place like
that. Go there and paint. And when I get blue and lonely,
"I can hit the old trail again." They drove along in silence for a time.
"Say, Dell," he inquired presently, "have you told your father you're engaged
to Herb Ward?"
"No, I haven't," said Dell.
Bob suddenly noticed where they were. She had swung into the Benedict
drive and now she brought the car to a stop under an old-fashioned
porte-cochère. Perhaps she had remembered that the front porch was in shadow,
that the air was filled with the odor of syringa, and the moon so highly
spoken of was tracing fantastic patterns on the close-cropped lawn.
The touch of her strong slender hand gave him a thrill as he helped her to
alight, and as he followed her across the lawn he was saying to himself: "Be
careful, you fool. Man in your position can't marry. Silly thing to do,
spoils everything, travel all over, nose to the grindstone. Watch your
They went side by side up on to the dark porch. A figure emerged promptly
from the shadows to greet them, a rather frail figure in white flannels.
"Why—hello, Herbert," said Delia. "What are you doing here?"
"Hello, Dell. Oh, that's you, Bob. Say, Dell, if you don't mind I must see
you alone—right away."
"Well, good night," Bob Dana said. "Had a fine ride, Dell."
"Don't go," Dell protested. "Herb just wants to talk about the family
"None of my business," Bob answered briskly. "Must run along. See you
before I leave town."
He walked rapidly, like a man seeking to get out from under some
overhanging menace. Through the big gate, down Maple Avenue under the tallest
elms in town.
"My boy, my boy," he thought, "that was a narrow one! Another minute and
I'd have said something rash. She might have taken me too; women are foolish
at times. Me married! Dreadful, dreadful! Herb, old boy, you saved my life.
You certainly popped up in the nick of time. Often wondered what the lad was
good for—now I know." He stopped for a moment under the trees. "Dell's
sweet," he admitted. "Darn sweet. If only I had a prosperous hardware
business or something of that sort. No use wishing, though. But I wonder is
this Ward boy good enough for her?"
His way led him past the office of the Mayfield Enterprise. Inside, under
a green shaded lamp, he saw Will Varney bending over his desk. He went
"I want to thank you for what you wrote about me in the paper to-night,"
he said. "That about the picture, you know. Did you really mean it?"
"With all my heart," Will Varney answered. His pale, kindly face lighted
with enthusiasm. "You're a genius, Bob. You'll make little old Mayfield
mighty proud some day."
"I hope so, I'm sure," Bob told him. "But I guess it was the inscription
under my latest effort that made the big hit this morning. I hear the riot's
Will Varney laughed and tapped a little pile of letters at his elbow.
"Here they are," he said. "The first fruits of the controversy."
"What do you mean?"
"Who did the most to influence the life of his times and leave his impress
on the town? The letter writers are limbering up. This bunch came in the
evening mail. It's just a beginning. Some say Ward, some Benedict, and some
have other candidates. Here's a letter from poor old Mrs. Hughes. She thinks
her husband, Reverend Elan Hughes—you remember, he preached at the First
Church for years—should be elected. Sour old Elan—a gloomy view
hereafter he expounded. And the Masters family wants to edge in. Their vote
goes solid to Fred Masters. But these are also-rans. The main race will be
between Benedict and Ward."
"Funny thing to get excited about," commented Bob.
"Isn't it?" Will Varney agreed. "Look about you. Why should any man want
to see his father get the credit for sleepy old Mayfield? I can't figure it.
And, thinking it over—there's my own father. You remember him, Bob. Year
after year, in this paper, he chronicled the history of the town and shaped
its opinions. I guess if any man can lay claim But, Great
Scott, I'm afraid I'm as bad as any of them!"
"Looks that way," Bob laughed. He stood up. "I didn't mean to interrupt.
Just came in to say thank you. I'm leaving in a day or two."
"No?" Varney's face clouded. "I'll be sorry, Bob. You'll never know how
I've enjoyed our talks here. All those things you told me about
was almost as good as though I'd had the trip myself. And about as near as
I'll ever get, I guess."
He was silent for a moment, thinking of his frustrated ambitions. "Well,
I've got my job here." He turned to the pile of copy paper on his desk. "By
the way, how do you spell Stuttgart? You know, that town in Germany. Two
't's' in the middle of it, or one?"
"Two, I believe," Bob told him. "But what are you doing in Stuttgart?"
"Why, that was Herman Schall's birthplace," Varney explained. "I've just
been writing his obituary. You know Herman left us this afternoon."
* * * * *
"WITH regard to the controversy now disrupting Mayfield,"
Will Varney wrote two days later, "it must be understood that the position of
this newspaper is strictly neutral. We have been accused of favoritism by
both sides, which is the best proof of our disinterest. Samuel Ward was a
splendid type of the old- school jurist, and Henry Benedict was well known up
and down the valley as a conservative banker of the highest integrity. The
question as to which exerted the largest influence on Mayfield seems to us an
academic one impossible of solution, but we love excitement and we have
furthered the discussion by printing all letters received, save for a few
that were anonymous and abusive. Seventeen epistles written by the Ward
faction have appeared in print, as have fourteen from the Benedict side. Such
is the box score as we go to press. Let the battle rage."
Obligingly the battle did just that. Clarence Ward and Eugene Benedict
fought the main engagement in full view of the populace, cutting each other
in public, each discovering daily some new means by which to embarrass or
belittle the other. Here and there minor skirmishes took place between lesser
dependents of the rival houses. Nor did the women hesitate to enter the
arena. Few who were present will forget the afternoon meeting of the Ladies'
Guild of the First Church, when Mrs. Clarence and Mrs. Eugene encountered
each other and demonstrated the possibility of fighting a war with no weapon
save the human eye.
Dell Benedict and Herbert Ward alone of the two rival camps remained on
friendly terms. Meeting Bob Dana on the street the morning after his abrupt
departure when he found Herb Ward among those present on the porch, Dell
explained the situation.
"Herb had just dropped over to discuss the great war," she said. "We
decided not to let it make any difference between us."
"That's the sensible view to take," Bob approved heartily.
"I knew you'd think so," said Dell with amazing sweetness.
"Oh, absolutely. Silly row anyhow. How can you decide a thing like that?
Then you and Herb are still engaged?"
"More so than ever. Herb's been awfully sweet." She held up her hand,
displaying a diamond-and-platinum ring. "We told our people all about it.
Sort of had to, under the circumstances."
"Must have been good news for your father."
"He nearly passed out. But he knows better than to interfere. Well, that's
that. I wanted to tell you—just to make you comfortable in your
"I'm mighty glad you're happy, Dell. That is, of course—if you are
"Delirious." She smiled up at him. "Come and see me before you leave."
"I sure will."
In the bright light of the morning, with his thoughts traveling the
highroad of common sense, on which no moon may shine, this seemed to him
excellent news. Good old Herb! The lad was showing a surprisingly level head.
But for Herb he might by now be painfully entangled, his career endangered,
his wanderings ended. Herb was his insurance, his protection.
"Ought to invite Herb to lunch," he thought. "Show my appreciation
* * * * *
THE following Tuesday night, when he wandered out to the
country club to the regular weekly dance, he felt the same way. His business
had dragged on longer than he had expected, but it was practically settled
now, and he could leave May field very soon. He sat on the club veranda,
staring in at the dancers. The orchestra was playing a popular song that
referred in sentimental strain to the moment "when it's moonlight in
Kalua. Sounded like Hawaii. That was the direction in which he would
travel next. The South Seas, on Gauguin's trail, and Stevenson's. He promised
himself many a languorous afternoon on some white bathing beach, many a calm,
breathless night with the Southern Cross flaming overhead.
Through the open window he caught sight of Dell Benedict dancing in Herb
Ward's arms. Dependable old Herb! He watched them approvingly. Dell was
lovely, and no mistake. Sometimes, when he was lonely and discouraged, he
would think sadly of what might have been. That would, in the last analysis,
be much more satisfactory than if what might have been had been. "He travels
fastest who travels alone." True talk.
He was still musing gently in this strain when, ten minutes later, Dell
appeared, somewhat breathless, before him.
"Bob—I want you to take me home," she said.
He jumped to his feet. "Sure. But I thought—you came with Herb
"Herb and I have just had the most frightful row," she explained. Bob saw
that her eyes were flashing, her cheeks flushed. "He said you'd done a
speaking likeness of Grandfather, and that several people had heard it say
distinctly: 'Pay up to-morrow or I'll put you on the street.'"
"Pretty snappy for Herb."
"And I told him that his old fossil of a grandfather Oh,
I don't know what I said! I was furious! I may have my own opinion of my
family, but no one else can knock it and live." She drew her cloak about her
white shoulders. "Come on, Bob."
Bob started nervously. "The ring's gone!" he cried.
"You bet it's gone! For ever!"
"Well, now, Dell—you ought not to get drawn into this foolish
It's beneath you. If you'll take my advice—"
"All right. I can go home alone." She walked briskly away.
"Hold on! Wait a minute! Wait till I get my hat." He dashed into the club.
When he reappeared Dell was far down the drive, going strong despite high-
heeled dancing pumps. He caught up with her. "I'm mighty sorry, Dell—I
no car. I came by trolley."
"That's the way I'm going home."
"May I—er—come along?"
Dell hadn't a penny with her, and his company was rather essential. But
all she said was, "If you think you can choke off your fatherly advice."
Conversation sort of languished in the moonlight. He helped her on to the
trolley and climbed up beside her. "Not so soft as the seat of Herb's car,"
"If you can't talk about anything but Herb, don't talk."
He subsided, hurt. Oh, well, women were like this, of course. All sorts of
moods and whims and fancies. Sunshine and shadow. Keep a lad stirred up all
the time. Better hang on to that precious freedom of his. "When it's
moonlight in Kalua"—couldn't get the insidious thing out of his head.
"Because you are—not there." Just as well too.
He glanced sidewise at Dell's haughty countenance. In spite of himself he
could not smother his approval. "Your profile's pure Greek," he said
"Grandfather didn't start with a fruit-stand, if that's what you mean,"
Well, if she wanted to be cross, let her be cross. He'd keep his future
thoughts to himself.
In silence they alighted from the street car and crossed the park; still
with no word spoken they passed on up the avenue and through the big gate.
The porch lay calm in shadow, syringa bloomed on the lawn. Dell held out her
"Thanks for bringing me home. Good-by—if I don't see you again."
"But, Dell—look here—of course you'll see me. I'll come
She was gone inside the door—hadn't even asked him to stop a minute.
Treated him like a rather tiresome stranger. Women, inexplicable women!
He strolled along down the avenue. Certainly did act haughty, that girl.
He pictured her now in her room, head held high, eyes flashing.
Which was all he knew about it. In her room Dell had flung herself across
the bed and was weeping bitterly. For Herb, and all the lost glories of
romance? Herb, of course.
Will Varney's light was burning. Looking through the window, Bob saw the
little editor bending above his pile of exchanges. He went inside.
"See here, Mr. Varney—something's got to be done."
"What do you mean, Bob?"
"This silly feud between the Montagues and Capulets. It's gone far enough.
Hearts are being broken, young lovers wrenched apart."
"I suppose so. Such is life in the feud country."
"You know," Bob told him, "before I leave town I'd like to settle this
foolish argument once for all. Just naturally kill it."
"Easier said than done. Unless you have an idea."
"Well—something flashed through my mind the other day. I don't
seems reasonable. I'll sit down if you don't mind."
"Sure, Bob; sure. Push those papers off the chair—that's right."
Bob Dana sat and crossed his long legs. "You know, when I'm away from
Mayfield and think about the town I always remember the amazing amount of
sickness here. My mother was never very well, and I used to go to the doctor
for her—in the evenings mostly. And I can still picture Doc Cunningham's
office, every chair taken, people standing along the walls—dreary,
"Yes." Will Varney nodded. "Always been a surprising lot of doctoring
here. Doctoring for this and that. You've noticed Cunningham's big house on
Maple Avenue. Doctoring built that."
"Precisely. Now, Mr. Varney, tell me—what sort of men were the
citizens here—the ones who ran the town?"
Will Varney smiled.
"You mean Ward and Benedict and that crowd? Take a look at Mayfield for
your answer. Twenty years behind the times, this town is; you've heard me say
so before. Lying here sound asleep through the biggest boom this valley has
ever known. Benedict and Ward and their gang did that—conservative,
suspicious of everything new, shouting their selfish slogan 'Keep the
"I thought so," Bob Dana said. "Sour old parties, as I remember them.
Looked at life through jaundiced eyes. Depressed and irritable and
"You've said it," Varney agreed. "And their dispositions molded this town.
I could give you a thousand examples, and Benedict would figure in a lot of
them. We might have been on the main line of the railroad, but Benedict got a
stubborn spell over some land he owned that was necessary to the scheme. Oh,
he was a lovely old chap. I can still see him sitting in that little office
of his, looking at prospective borrowers through those cold fishy eyes.
Heaven help the man who had to go to Benedict for a loan! It didn't take long
for the word to spread that the banking interests here were unfriendly, so
new business gave this town a wide berth." The little editor leaned back in
his chair; it creaked faintly beneath him. "And Ward! The Turner steel mills
might have located here, but Judge Ward blocked the move. Said it would bring
in a lot of dirty foreigners. I think of him as he sat on the
dishonest, I don't mean that—but severe. Too blamed severe. Mercy
his vocabulary. He wrecked a great many lives that a little sympathy and
understanding would have carried along to happiness. I tell you, Bob, this
town owes a lot to Ward and Benedict and their gang," Will Varney finished.
"A lot they're not boasting about now, wherever they may be."
"Rather mean old men," Bob Dana said. "That's how I picture them. Mean and
dissatisfied and bitter." He leaned forward suddenly. "I'll bet both Ward and
Benedict suffered tortures from dyspepsia," he added.
"Most people do—most middle-aged people," Varney replied. "In
at any rate. For years we've had a lot of trouble with hired girls
here—eating has been a rather catch-as-catch-can affair. Now you
Ward and Benedict did have dyspepsia. Yes, both of 'em had it mighty
Bob Dana laughed, and stood up. "That's all I want to know."
Will Varney gave him a long look. "By gad," he cried, "I begin to get
you!" He leaped enthusiastically to his feet. "And you're right, boy, you're
"I'm going to hop on a train and run up to Cleveland in the morning," Bob
told him. "I can get what I need up there. A modest supply of modeling
"Modeling clay," Varney chuckled. "Yes, that's what you want."
"You'll help me with this?" Bob asked.
"Will I?" The little editor's eyes twinkled. "You bet your life I
For three days Bob Dana was not much in evidence on the streets of
Mayfield. The hotel help reported that he seemed to be extremely busy in his
On Saturday morning Eugene Benedict drove down to the bank about eight-
thirty, as was his custom. The sun lay blazing hot on the brick pavement of
Maple Avenue, and Eugene sped over it savagely, for he was feeling hot
He had just seen Clarence and Herbert Ward strolling down to their law
office, and the sight of them nowadays tended to infuriate him.
As Eugene approached the corner of the park at Main and Market Streets he
was surprised to see a crowd gathered on the lawn in open violation of the
notice, posted everywhere: "Keep Off the Grass!" He slowed down his car. An
old friend caught sight of him and waved.
"Come here, 'Gene," he shouted. "This will interest you."
His curiosity suddenly aroused, Eugene parked his car at the curb and
pushed his way through the crowd. It parted to give him gangway, a favor he
accepted as due to the president of the First National Bank. In another
moment he came upon the center of Mayfield's interest.
On a cheap oak pedestal that suggested the Mayfield Furniture Store he
beheld a figure about three feet high. It was modeled in clay and took the
form of a short, heavy man in middle age. The face was flat and on a pudgy
little nose spectacles rested. The generous stomach was covered by what
appeared to be an apron; a cap rested on the head. It was a tribute to Bob
Dana's skill that Eugene, like all the other spectators, recognized the
figure at first glance. As the banker stood there staring he could almost
hear the querulous, cracked voice: "Louie—Louie—turn down dot
Hanging about the feet of the figure was a placard that might have been
printed in the job department of the Mayfield Evening Enterprise. Eugene
ERECTED IN MEMORY OF HERMAN SCHALL THE BAKER
Who Gave All His Contemporaries Indigestion and Thus
More Than Any Other Man Influenced the
Life of His Times and Left His Impress
on the Town
We Asked for Bread and He Gave Us a Stone
While the citizens of Mayfield grinned and nudged one another Eugene
Benedict read the placard a second time.
* * * * *
AT six o'clock that evening Bob Dana sat in old man
Cornell's easy-chair with the last edition of the Enterprise before him. In
his leading editorial, entitled Herman Schall, Will Varney ably seconded
Bob's efforts of the morning. He began with the Herman of fifty years before,
a young man newly arrived from Germany, who came to Mayfield and started the
town's first bakeshop. He carried him along until the time, years later, when
Herman's delivery wagon stood before the houses of both high and low, and
Herman's bread was the daily diet of all May-field.
"Such bread!" Will Varney wrote. "Herman had the habit of thrift. To the
outward view his product was O.K., but the heart of the loaf was only
partially baked, still fermenting, indigestible. Those who ate it experienced
very shortly a deep and dark depression, their outlook on life turned
"Herman never figured as a leading citizen of Mayfield. Other men were in
the limelight, directing the destinies of the town. But back of these men
were a number of vital influences, and not the least of these, moving on
tiptoe through his dim kitchen, doling out the coal or turning down the gas,
was Herman Schall the baker. It is not at all improbable that to Herman's
bread may be traced a thousand heartaches and tragedies—divorces,
failures, meannesses and wrongs.
"The editor of this newspaper has thought things over, and he has no
hesitation in announcing that, in so far as his columns are concerned, the
controversy that has been raging hereabouts for some days is settled for all
"Settled by the election of Herman Schall to the post of honor that stood
as the ultimate prize."
Bob dropped the paper and sat staring out across the park. His telephone
"Hello," he said. "Hello, Dell. What's the good word?"
"Seems to be Schall," she answered. "Started a lot of excitement, didn't
"Think so? How is your father feeling?"
"Oh, he'll recover. As a matter of fact the old dear seems to have a sense
of humor, after all. His dignity was outraged for a while, but he's come
round. He's just talked with Clarence Ward over the telephone."
"No! An armistice?"
"Permanent peace, I fancy. They agreed that maybe you're right. Father is
going to take down that inscription and replace it with a simple
grandfather's name and the dates. Clarence Ward is wondering how you edit a
tombstone. You see, that famous sentiment won't sound anything but ridiculous
round here for a long time to come."
"Well, Dell, I'm certainly glad to hear all this. It's what I was trying
to do, you know. Put an end to the feud."
"I gathered that."
Silence over the wire.
"Er—have you called up Herb and waved the white flag?"
"Me? Say, Bob, you certainly know all about girls. An open book to
"Well, has he called you up?"
"I don't know. I've been out. Mighty kind of you to take such an
"Not at all. Want the young people to be happy."
"Old Grandpa Fixit. Leaving soon?"
"Been packing all afternoon. Pull out to-morrow."
"Well, good-by—if I don't see you again."
"Dell—where do you get that stuff? I'll be up this evening to say
"Sweet of you to trouble. I'll try to have Herb on hand."
"Oh, never mind Herb."
"I'll have him here. Want you to be happy, too, old lad. See you
Bob ate one final dinner at the Mayfield House. His pockets bulged with
money, life was beckoning, rumor had it that the boats still ran. But somehow
he wasn't feeling so elated after all.
At eight o'clock he came abreast of the cast-iron deer on the Benedict
lawn, and three seconds later Dell gave him her hand at the top of the steps.
An amazingly lovely Dell, starry-eyed in the dusk, gentle and calm and
Bob looked anxiously about. "I don't see young Herb." "No," said Dell.
"Herb hasn't called up. Pity, isn't it?" "Oh, don't worry. He'll come round.
Herb's no fool." "I'm not worrying. Have you time to sit down?" "Sure." Bob
dropped into a chair. Life was certainly mighty peaceful, there in the shadow
on the porch. He leaned back and heaved a sigh of deep content. The syringa
was still in blossom, lilies nodded in the distance, roses climbed a trellis.
Roses with the moon on them, recalling the fragrant walls on the long road up
"Are you really leaving to-morrow?" Dell asked. "I'd begun to think you
were never going."
"That's true hospitality. But don't fret—I'm off this time."
"Provincetown, I believe you said."
"Yes—Provincetown," he answered. "I've wired a friend to get me an
on that cottage. Going to be just the place for me."
"Sounds like it, I'm sure." Her tone was brisk and cheerful. "I love the
roar of the surf. Some people find it disturbing. Restful, I call it."
"That's good. You'll get a lot of work done, I hope." "I'll certainly have
a try at it. And afterward—well, look to the East for me. The South
China. Pick up all in a minute some bright morning. Just lock the door and
"It must be wonderful," Dell said. "I mean—to have no ties. Nothing
hold you. Just yourself." Somewhere in the house a telephone rang.
"Yes—pretty good feeling," Bob assured her. A maid appeared. "It's
Mr. Ward again, miss." "I'll go," said Dell. "If you'll excuse me, Bob." She
was away some time. When she reappeared, Bob Dana was anxious.
"Young Herb, eh? Fix everything up?"
"Count on me. It's all fixed. Nothing to worry about."
"Sensible thing to do, of course," said Bob.
"Of course," Dell agreed.
He tipped back his chair, leaned his head against the cool bricks of the
house. After a long silence he spoke: "That cottage only has three
"Three ought to be plenty for you," said Dell.
"For me—yes. But I've been thinking—times when I've just
picture—sort of depressed—need somebody round who thinks I'm
"How about a dog?"
"Some people prefer cats," Dell said.
Another silence. "Dell," he said, "I don't know what ails me.
"Something ail you?" she inquired politely.
"Seems to. My head's all wrong. Mind's affected. Keep thinking to myself
how almighty sweet you are."
"Better stop it," Dell advised. "Spoil all your fun, a girl would."
"Oh, I don't know. Depend a lot on the girl. If she happened to be a good
scout—ready to pick up and go at a minute's notice—"
"Ain't no such animal," said Dell.
"How'd you like fish, Dell? As a steady diet, I mean?"
"I'd hate 'em."
He pondered. "Sorry to hear that. There's one room in that
love it. Looks right over at Spain."
"Spain—where the boats run? You'll travel faster alone. For your own
sake, Bob—try to be sensible."
Again the telephone rang. The two on the porch waited in silence. In a
moment the maid reappeared, and Dell rose. Bob stood beside her.
"It was only Mr. Ward, miss. I hung up the receiver—just the way you
The girl vanished into the dim hall. Bob turned slowly toward Dell. He
seized her hand.
"Look here, Dell—you never intended to take him!"
"Who says so?"
"I do. Well, this settles it." He held her close. "And maybe it won't be
so bad. You didn't really mean that—about hating fish?"
"I—I guess not, Bob."
"Dell! And that bright morning—just before we lock the door. It won't
take you long to pack?"
"Five minutes. Only an overnight bag."
"That's the talk!"
He kissed her. He was a little breathless. "Hard luck for you, Dell. I
"Oh, I don't know," Dell whispered. "I believe I'm going to like