Drusilla with a Million
by Elizabeth Cooper
“Drusilla Doane, O Drusilla Doane!” came waveringly around the
corner; and the quavering voice was followed by a little old woman who
peered at the line of old ladies sitting in the sun. “Is Drusilla Doane
here?” she inquired, darting quick birdlike glances from her old eyes
at the curious faces that looked up at her approach.
A little white-haired woman stopped the darning of the tablecloth in
her hands and looked up expectantly.
“Yes, I'm here, Barbara. What do you want of me?”
“There's two men in the parlor to see you, an' Mis' Smith told me to
tell you to hurry. I been lookin' for you everywhere.”
Drusilla Doane let the cloth fall into her lap, and all the other
women stopped their work to stare at the announcer of such wonderful
“To see me, are you sure?”
“Yes, they asked to see Miss Drusilla Doane. You're the only one of
that name here, ain't you?”
Drusilla folded her work and placed it in the basket of linen by the
side of her chair.
“Yes, I guess it must mean me,” she said, and rose to go.
As she passed around the house all the old ladies moved as if by a
“Come right here, Barbara Field, and tell us all about it. Who are
“What did they look like?” questioned another.
“Take this chair and tell us all about it,” said Miss Harris, the
youngest of the ladies; and a place was made in their midst and the
line closed around her.
“Put your teeth in, so's we can understand you.”
Barbara groped around in the pocket of her apron; then, holding the
end of the apron up to her face, adroitly slipped her teeth into her
mouth, and sat down to become for once the center of interest to her
“Now tell us all about it—what you waiting for?” said one of the
“What'll I tell?” said Barbara. “I was passin' by the door and Mis'
Smith called me in and said, 'Barbara, will you find Drusilla Doane and
send her here? Tell her that there are two gentlemen who wish to see
“Two men—two men to see Drusilla Doane!” cackled one old
lady. “She ain't never had one to call to see her before, as I
“No,” chimed in another. “She's been here five years and there ain't
a livin' soul before asked to see Drusilla Doane. What'd they look
“One was tall and thin and sour-lookin'—looked like a director of a
institution; and the other was short and fat and pussy and was dressed
real elegant. One had a silk hat and he wore one gray glove and carried
another in his hand with a cane. That was the skinny one. The pussy one
wore a gray vest—that's all I had time to see—and his eyes kind o'
twinkled at me.”
“Did you hear what they wanted Drusilla for?”
“No, I didn't hear nothin'.”
“You mean you didn't hear anything, Barbara,” interrupted a
querulous, refined voice. “Your grammar is dreadful!”
“I don't mean no such thing. I mean I didn't hear nothin' and
nothin' it is.” And Barbara's meek, faded old eyes glared at the little
old lady in the corner, if meek, faded blue eyes could glare.
“Never mind her grammar, Lodema Ann. Why didn't you hear what they
said? What was you doin' in the hall if you wasn't listenin'?”
“I told you I was just passin' through and Mis' Smith called me in.”
“Don't you know nothin' about it—nothin'!”
“Nothin'. I've told you all I know. Can I take my teeth out now?”
“No, Barbara; keep your teeth in till we've finished with you. A
person can't understand a word you say with your teeth out, you gum
your words so.”
“But they hurt me; they don't fit. I ain't had a new pair for twenty
years and my jaws've shrunk.”
“Well, keep 'em in fer a while. They won't shrink any more fer a
minit. Did they look like relations?”
“Relations!” said a big, placid-looking woman who was knitting
quietly. “Drusilla ain't got no relations. She ain't never had none.”
“She must have had some at one time. Everybody has relations—
although some people I know, had rather be without them than
recognize the kind they got.” The sour voiced old lady directed her
tones toward the seat next to her.
“If you're a meanin' me, Caroline, I want to tell you my relations
is just as good as your'n, though we don't throw 'em down everybody's
throat as some folks I know.”
“No,” said another; “Drusilla has no family; she told me so herself.
One day I was telling her about my family, about my father who was so
well known in the State, and my brother who became the great—”
“Now don't begin on your family, Maria. We know all about it. We
ain't heard nothin' else fer the last three years. It's a good thing
that some of the women in this home has something else to talk about
except the greatness of their family, or we'd all be dead.”
The little old lady twisted her ball of yarn viciously, causing it
to roll upon the floor, and when she had stiffly followed it and picked
it from the corner her face was very red, either from the exertion of
stooping or from the insult she felt she had received.
“You're jealous—that's what's the matter with you! People who've no
folks are always jealous of them who's had 'em; but old age has its
liberties, I suppose, and we must pardon a great deal on account of
“Are you speakin' of me, I'd like to know? I ain't but four years
older'n you. I'm only seventy-nine and you was seventy-five last May,
though you didn't want us to know it was your birthday. But I seen the
date in the book some one sent you, and you can't deny it.”
“Never mind,” broke in the placid-looking lady again, trying to pour
oil on the troubled waters; “don't fight. Barbara, did they look rich?
Put your teeth in again—why can't you leave 'em alone! Teeth are fer
your mouth and not fer your pocket. You do beat me and rile me
“I tell you they hurt,” whimpered Barbara. “I can't even enjoy the
sun with my teeth in.”
“Never mind. Did they?”
“Did they what?”
“Did they look rich?”
“Oh, awful. I told you they looked like directors.”
“Perhaps Drusilla has friends she ain't told us about.”
“No, she ain't. She told me one day she didn't have a friend or a
relation in the world, and if she'd a had 'em they'd a been to see
“Oh, I don't know. That ain't no sign. Your friends ferget you when
you're in an old ladies' home,” said a voice bitterly.
“Well, I wonder who it can be! I wish she'd hurry, so's we could ask
“Poor Drusilla!” said a sweet-voiced little woman. “I hope some
one's found her. It's awful to have no one in all the world.”
“How long's Drusilla been here?”
“Let me see”—and an old lady put down her sewing. “I been here
seven years, I was here not quite two years when Drusilla come. She's
been the linen woman ever since.”
“Yes,” said a woman who showed signs of having seen better days. Her
clothes still had a look of by-gone elegance and her wrinkled hands
were still dainty and beautifully kept. “Drusilla's our only charity
The stout old lady in the corner emitted a sound between a snort and
“Charity inmate! What are we all but charity inmates!”
The first old lady drew herself up stiffly.
“You may speak for yourself, Mis' Graham, but I am no charity
“You're just as much of one as I am.”
“What do you mean? I pay each year a hundred and twenty dollars, and
I paid when I entered an entrance fee of a hundred dollars.”
“So'd we all; but still this is an old ladies' charitable home.”
“Mis' Graham, how can you say such things!” spoke up a voice that
had not been heard before. “I consider that we pay our way; and
my grand-nephew who was here last week considers it ample!”
“Oh, so do most of our relations who'd rather pay our way in a home
than be bothered with us around.”
“You may speak for yourself, Mis' Graham. I pay my way myself.”
“Yes, you was a dressmaker or something and saved a little money.
Well, I never worked for my livin'. It wasn't considered ladylike in my
“Huh! You're trying to say I'm no lady. Well, I consider that if I'm
no lady and worked fer my livin', I didn't sponge off my relations and
“Cat!” hissed Mrs. Graham, and sat back trying to think of some
“But don't Drusilla pay nothin' at all?” queried another
“Not a cent. I tell you, she's charity. She's a sort of servant.
Ain't you seen the way Mis' Smith treats her and orders her around? She
takes care of the linen to pay her way and does odd jobs fer Mis' Smith
and the family.”
“How did she get in if she didn't have no money at all?”
“She's a Doane, and this home was give by a Doane most sixty years
ago. And the Committee felt they couldn't let Drusilla die in the poor
house because of her name. It might reflect on the home, and they'd
lose some subscriptions. So they took her in.”
“What'd she do before she was took in?”
“She sewed for folks and nursed and done odd jobs for the people in
the village. Everything she could git to do, I guess. And then she got
old and folks wanted stylisher dresses, and she wa'n't strong enough to
nurse much, so she had to be took in somewhere. First they thought of
sending her to the county house, and then as I told you they was afraid
it would look bad to have the Doane home for old ladies right here and
a Doane in the county house, so she was brought here. It most broke her
heart, but they've worked her well. She's paid fer her keep and more,
which is more than many I know of, what with their appetite.”
“You're talkin' at me now, Frances Smith, don't you make no remarks
about my appetite. I'm not strong and must eat well to keep up.”
“Humph, it makes you feeble to carry round. I don't know what would
happen to you if you had a chance to set down once to a square meal of
vittles. I guess you'd bust.”
“I want you to understand, Mis' Frances Smith, that I've et better
vittles than you've ever seen. When I had my home my table was the talk
of the countryside.”
“Yes, and if you hadn't et up everything, perhaps you wouldn't now
be where you are, havin' beans on Monday and cabbage on Tuesday and
soup on Wednesday and—”
The wrangling went on amongst these old derelicts sitting on the
sunny side of the Doane home for old ladies. Their lives were filled
with little jealousies and quarrels over petty details. They lived in
the past and exalted it until they themselves had grown to believe that
they had always trodden flowery pathways, until by some unfortunate
chance, for which they were not to be blamed, these paths had led them,
when old age and helplessness came upon them, into this home for the
poor and lonely.
* * * * *
Drusilla slowly made her way to the parlor, which she entered with
the wondering, surprised look still on her face—surprised that any one
should ask for her, and wondering who it could be.
Two gentlemen rose as she entered, and Mrs. Smith, the Director of
the home, said:
“This is Drusilla Doane. Drusilla, this is Mr. Thornton and Mr.
Gale, who wish to speak with you.”
They bowed over Miss Drusilla's hand, which was falteringly
“We are very glad to meet you, Miss Doane. Won't you please sit
down, as our business will take quite a little time to transact.”
Turning to Mrs. Smith: “May we speak with her alone?”
Mrs. Smith plainly showed that she shared in the curiosity of her
charges in regard to the meaning of the visit to Drusilla, but she rose
from her place and said:
“Oh, of course I will leave if you must see her alone.”
“Thank you,” said the taller of the men dryly. “Our business is with
He accompanied Mrs. Smith politely to the door and closed it, then,
returning, drew a chair near to Drusilla.
“We are the bearer of news to you, Miss Doane.”
Drusilla clasped her hands a little tighter.
“Has anything happened?” she said. “But nothing could happen that
would matter to me, unless—” a panic stricken look came into her old
eyes “unless—the Committee hain't decided that I can't live here, has
it? They ain't goin' to send me to the county house, be they? I work
real well, Mr. Thornton; I work as hard as I can. I'm sure I pay fer my
The tall man cleared his throat and said stiffly: “No, Miss Doane,
we are the bearer of good news.”
The short fat man bent over and impulsively patted the hands that
were so tightly clenched in her lap.
“No, Miss Doane, you don't need to worry about the county house.
You're not going to it yet.”
Drusilla drew a deep breath of relief, and the frightened look died
from her eyes. She leaned back in her chair.
“Then I don't know what you've got to tell me. It can't be that some
one I know is dead, because all of my friends died long ago.”
Mr. Gale said, “Tell her, so she'll understand. You're worrying the
Mr. Thornton took a legal looking document from his pocket and a
“Miss Doane,” he said, “did you ever hear of Elias Doane?”
“Elias Doane? No, I don't believe I ever did.”
“Well, he was a distant relation of yours; another branch of the
family. He thought he was the last one of the Doane name, as he never
married. A few weeks before his death, hearing about this home he sent
me up here to learn the particulars regarding it, and I found you here.
I reported that there was an inmate by the name of Doane still living,
and we investigated and found that you belonged to the family that we
thought was represented by only one man, the late Elias Doane.”
“He's dead, then. Was he a relation of mine, did you say?”
“Yes, very distantly related.”
“Well, I'm glad I've had some relations, even if I didn't
“Now, we will come to the business, Miss Doane. Our client, the late
Elias Doane, was a very wealthy man, very wealthy indeed. His estate
amounts to many millions, and he has left a very curious will.”
The lawyer opened a paper in his hand and commenced to read, but Mr.
“Don't bother her with the will, Robert; she won't understand. Tell
her about it and give her the letter.”
“Perhaps that is better, as the legal terms might be confusing. The
gist of the matter is this, Miss Doane. Our client, the late Elias
Doane, left the bulk of his money to the many charities in which he is
interested, but he left you his home at Brookvale, near New York City,
to be kept up fittingly out of the estate, and he gave you outright, to
use as you may see fit, one million dollars.”
Drusilla stared at him. Then her faded old face turned as white as
the soft hair above it, and without a word she fell forward. For the
first time in her life Drusilla Doane had fainted.
Mr. Thornton caught her in his arms and Mr. Gale sprang for the
bell. Water and restoratives were brought, and within a few moments
Drusilla opened her eyes—and soon she remembered. She brushed back her
disarranged hair and laughed a soft, sweet little laugh.
“Well, I'm beginnin' well. All real ladies in story books faint when
they hear good news.”
When she was again seated in her chair and curious Mrs. Smith had
been politely expelled from the room, Mr. Thornton cleared his throat
and was again the precise man of business.
“As I was saying, Miss Doane, when you interrupted me, our late
client, Mr. Elias Doane, left this very remarkable will and also a
letter which we were to deliver to you.” He handed her the letter.
Drusilla looked at it a moment as she held it in her hand. She
seemed unwilling to break its seal. But the watching men opposite her
caused her at last carefully, if not a little tremblingly, to tear the
covering which was to reveal to her the wishes of a man, who evidently
had thought of her and her happiness in his last hours. She unfolded
the two pages covered with scrawling handwriting, but her faded eyes
could make nothing of the strange hieroglyphics traced upon them, and
she handed the letter to Mr. Thornton, saying:
“I guess it can't be nothin' private. You read it; I left my glasses
in my work-basket.”
Mr. Thornton adjusted his pince-nez and read:
MY DEAR DRUSILLA:
You will allow me to call you that, as it is the first and will be
the last time that I will so address you; consequently you will pardon
the seeming undue familiarity.
I first want to say that I regret that I did not know of your
existence earlier, when perhaps I could have made life easier for you
—although quite likely I would have added to its perplexities. We are
the last of a good family: you, Drusilla Doane, an inmate of a
charitable institution, and I, Elias Doane, millionaire,
philanthropist, and rare old humbug. You have passed your life in toil,
trying to earn your daily bread, and have found yourself nearing the
end of this footless journey that we call life, alone and friendless. I
have passed my days in toil also, and find myself, at the end, as much
alone and friendless as is the loneliest inmate of the Doane home. I
have had bread, yes; and often eaten it in bitterness. I have had
friends, yes; and doubted their sincerity. Love, wife, children, home,
all have been sacrificed to pride of wealth, of power, and things—just
mere things, that cannot touch the hand in times of sorrow, nor rejoice
in times of joy. But I do not complain; I made my god a thing of gilt
and tinsel, and he repaid me for my worship. And now I go to meet
But before I go I want to give another a chance to do what I have
never done—enjoy my money—if such a thing can give enjoyment. A great
share of my hard-earned dollars will go in salaries to fat officials
and well-fed directors of the institutions I have endowed, but the
little I have given you I want you to spend as you see fit. Throw it to
the winds, if you so desire, or feed it to the squirrels in Central
I am looking forward to enjoyment in seeing the way you spend the
money. They say when we have passed over the river that the things of
this world will no longer interest us; but, Drusilla, that is not true.
I know my days will be spent leaning over the battlements watching the
fools striving here below; and the biggest telescope in Heaven—or
perhaps the other place—will be trained upon Drusilla Doane.
I give you a few words of advice. Better allow Thornton to act as
your business manager. He is an old fool but honest. But follow your
own wishes in all things except in actual business. I have directed
that all the expenses of the place at Brookvale shall be met from a
trust that I have created, as you are far too old to be worried with
the details of the new life which you now will enter. Thornton is a
nosy man and it will delight his soul to boss your servants and see
that cheating tradesmen are kept in check.
Another thing I wish to say—you can act upon it as you see fit—it
is simply the advice of an old man who has known his world. Don't
subscribe to public charities; they're mostly grafts, and besides they
have more of the Doane millions now than is good for them. And don't
help the needy poor upon another man's advice; see your poor—know
And now, Drusilla Doane, good-by. Enjoy my million! Don't make too
big a fool of yourself, nor marry your tango teacher, but spend my
million, Drusilla, spend it—and may God rest your soul!
There was quiet for a few moments after Mr. Thornton had finished
reading the letter. He folded the paper and then said dryly:
“I'm glad to know that my client appreciated and recognized my
abilities, at least along some lines.”
He turned to Drusilla, who seemed hardly to realize or understand
the contents of the letter.
“Shall I file the letter along with the other papers, or do you wish
to keep it?” he asked.
Drusilla took the letter, and folded it and refolded it, looking
down at it as if it were a thing alive.
“If you don't mind, Mr. Thornton, I should like to keep it,” she
said. “He meant well by me, and his letter is kind though he said it in
a queer way; but it is the first letter I've had from any one for a
long time, and I should like to keep it. It makes it all seem more
The lawyer rose.
“Now we will leave you. When will you be ready to come with us to
Drusilla smiled her soft sweet smile.
“I haven't much to get ready, Mr. Thornton. It won't take me long to
pack my things.”
“Then shall we say that I may come for you to-morrow?”
“Yes, to-morrow will be as well as any other day. Unless—unless
Mis' Smith needs me—”
Mr. Thornton said with a dry smile: “I do not think it will be
necessary to consult Mrs. Smith.”
The men started for the door, and then extended their hands.
“We want to congratulate you, Miss Doane. We sincerely hope that
this will be the beginning of a very happy life for you. You may
command me in all things. By the way, may we see the Director?”
Drusilla started to the door, but the lawyer intercepted her.
“No; do not go yourself. Ring for her.”
Drusilla sat down again, rather aghast at the idea of asking any one
else to do a service for her, who all her life had been at the beck and
call of other people. One of the old ladies came and was asked to bring
Mrs. Smith. The Director came quickly, showing that she had not been
“Mrs. Smith,” Mr. Thornton said, “we will come to-morrow afternoon
to take Miss Doane with us. She has been left a legacy and will no
longer be an inmate of the Doane home.”
Mrs. Smith's expression changed instantly.
“Why, I'm real glad. Drusilla, you know I will be the first to
rejoice in your good fortune.”
Drusilla's face was a study for a moment as she remembered the many
shrill orders and the thousand and one ways that the Director had
employed to make her lonely life harder than was really necessary; but
kindliness triumphed and the hard look left her eyes.
“I'm sure, Mis' Smith, you will be glad with me,” she said; and she
thought in her kindly old heart, “Perhaps she didn't mean to be mean;
she was just too busy to think.”
The men left and Drusilla was alone with the Director, whose
curiosity was nearly consuming her.
“What has happened, Drusilla? Has some one left you money?”
“Yes,” said Drusilla.
“A relation I didn't know.”
“Did he leave you much?”
Drusilla said quietly: “A million dollars.”
Mrs. Smith nearly fell from her chair.
“What did you say?”
“A million dollars.”
“Are you sure?”
“That's what the lawyer, Mr. Thornton, said.”
Mrs. Smith was speechless.
“I can't believe my ears. There must be some mistake. I'll—I'll—go
and talk it over with some one. Do you want to go to your room, or will
you go out to the women, Drusilla?”
“I think I'll go to my room fer a while, if I may—that is, if you
don't need me, Mis' Smith.”
Mrs. Smith shook her head. Need her, need a woman who had just been
left a million dollars! No, indeed; not in the way that Drusilla meant.
Drusilla went slowly up to her room and sat down in the little
rocker by the bed. She tried to think it all over; but it did not seem
real. She felt the letter in her pocket and, finding her second-best
pair of glasses, moved her chair close to the window and read it
through slowly. Then, holding the letter in her hands, she sat back in
her chair and the tears welled slowly from her faded eyes, rolling down
the wrinkled cheeks and falling, drop by drop, on to her dress
unnoticed. She was not thinking of the money but of the kindly old man
who had thought of her in his last hours, and planned for her
happiness. She had never had any one plan for her happiness before, nor
care for her for so many years that she had forgotten what care meant,
and her heart seemed full to bursting. She said softly to herself, “He
must 'a' cared something fer me or he wouldn't 'a' thought of it all.
He must 'a' cared.”
The next morning there was a buzz of excitement in the Doane home
for old ladies. Word had got around that Drusilla had been left a
fortune and was going away. Some of the ladies were plainly envious and
said spiteful, catty things, while others were glad that at least one
of their number would be able to leave behind the “home”—the living on
charity—that nightmare of the old. Drusilla had endeared most of them
to her by her many kindly acts, prompted by a loving heart that even
years of poverty and unappreciated labor for others had not hardened.
She passed the morning in looking over her few possessions and
making little packages of the things she treasured to be given to her
friends after she left. The handkerchiefs she had embroidered before
her eye-sight was bad, she left for Barbara. A little lace cap that had
been given her years ago and which she had never worn, thinking it too
“fancy,” was for the old lady who had seen better days. The heavy shawl
was for the oldest inmate, Grandma Perkins, who always suffered with
the cold. The warm bed-stockings were neatly folded and left with a
little word of love to Mary, who had rheumatism; and to Mrs. Childs,
the beauty of the place, she left her lace fichu.
There was ample room within the tiny trunk for her clothing. The
plain black cashmere that had been turned and returned until it had
nearly forgotten its original texture, but which was her Sunday best,
the two black dresses for every-day wear, the two night-dresses of
Canton flannel, the woolen underskirt and the lighter one for summer,
the heavy stockings, the Sunday shoes, a life of John Calvin that a
director had given her, her Bible—and the packing was completed.
When Mrs. Smith came herself to tell her that Mr. Thornton had
arrived, and in a motor car, she trembled so that she feared she would
not be able to go down to meet him. But finally she put on the little
bonnet that she had worn for many years, and her “mantle”—an
antiquated wrap that had been given her by some kindly patron of former
years—and went down the stairs. Mr. Thornton looked at the little old
lady as she came into the room—this little, kindly-faced, white-haired
old woman, who showed so plainly that life had sent her sorrow but not
bitterness—and offered her his hand, saying:
“I am glad you are ready, Miss Doane. We will have a nice ride to
Drusilla looked up at him like a pitiful child.
“I—I—may I set down a minute—I—I'm rather trembly. I—I didn't
sleep last night a-thinkin' of it all.”
She sat down and tried to still the trembling of her lips and keep
the tears from her eyes. Then, after a few moments, she said:
“Will you wait here or somewhere, Mr. Thornton? I want to say
good-by. Mis' Smith thought I hadn't better see the ladies until I was
ready to leave, as it might upset them.”
“I will wait in the car for you, Miss Doane. Don't hurry; take all
the time you want.”
Drusilla went to the sunny veranda where she knew she would find the
women in their accustomed places, and immediately she was the center of
the curious old ladies, who welcomed any excitement that would relieve
the monotony of their lives.
“It's true, Drusilla—then it's true, you're-a-goin' to leave us!
It's true what Mis' Graham heard Mis' Smith tell Mr. Smith last night.”
“What did she hear her say?”
“She heard her say, 'What do you think, James! Drusilla Doane has
been left a million dollars!'“
“That's what the man told me,” Drusilla said quietly; “and he's come
to take me away. I come to say good-by.”
The women sat forward in their chairs and stopped their knitting or
darning, so that they would not miss a word.
“Well, I swan! A million dollars! A million dollars!”
“Is it true, Drusilla? Do you think it can be so much?”
“I don't know—that's what he said. He's waitin' for me and I must
be goin'. Good-by, dear Harriet. Good-by, Caroline. Good-by, Mis'
Graham; you always been good to me. Good-by, Mis' Fisher; I ain't never
goin' to fer-get how good you was to me when I was sick. Good-by all,
good-by. I'm comin' often to see you. Good-by.”
She looked slowly around on her friends, then walked down the
veranda to the waiting motor. Just as she reached it old Barbara came
shuffling up to her. “Oh, Drusilla,” she mumbled, taking her hand, “I'm
so glad for you, I'm so glad. I hope it is a million dollars.”
The loving touch was too much for tired Drusilla. The tears sprang
to her eyes and she clasped Barbara's hands in both of her own.
“Oh, Barbara,” she said, “it gives me a hurt inside my heart to
leave you all behind! Listen, Barbara! Whether it's a million dollars
or only a hundred, you shall have new store teeth. Good-by!”
To Drusilla's embarrassment both Mr. and Mrs. Smith were waiting for
her beside the motor to say good-by, and were effusive in their
“You will come to see us, won't you, Miss Doane, and you won't
forget us”—and Drusilla was tucked into the luxurious motor, a
footstool found for her feet, a soft rug wrapped around her and they
She was quiet for the greater part of the journey, and Mr. Thornton
left her to her own thoughts. Finally she sat more upright and began to
take an interest in the fittings of the car. Mr. Thornton watched her.
“Do you like the car?” he asked
“It's beautiful. You know it's the first time I been in one.”
“Why, is it possible? I thought every one had been in a motor.”
“No, not every one, Mr. Thornton; I don't think that more'n two of
the ladies in the home have been in one. This is fixed up real nice.”
“I am glad you like it,” Mr. Thornton said. “It is yours.”
Drusilla sat back suddenly in her seat.
“Yes, this is yours, and you have two more at your home.”
“Two more like this?”
“No, not exactly the same. One is an open car and one is a small
“Why—why—what'll I do with three? I can't ride in 'em all at
“No, but you will find that you can use them all.”
“Can I use them whenever I want to?”
“Certainly; they are yours. All you have to do is to send word to
one of the chauffeurs and they will be ready for you.”
“Send word to who?”
“The chauffeur, the man who is driving.”
“Is he mine, too?”
“Yes; you have two men.”
“What'll I do with two?”
“One will be on duty a certain number of hours, and then the other
takes his place.”
“Oh—” She was quiet for a time. “Can I take them anywhere I want
“Certainly. They are yours.”
“Then, I know what I'll do! I'll take the old ladies for a ride!
Wouldn't Mis' Graham love it, and old Grandma Perkins—we could bundle
her up; and Barbara might even ferget her teeth.”
Drusilla settled back among the cushions and mused upon the joy she
could give with this new wonder machine that was hers to do with as she
wished, and the frightened look died from her face and a happy smile
seemed trying to crowd the wrinkles from the corners of her mouth. She
said nothing more for a long time; then:
“Are we goin' very fast, Mr. Thornton?”
“No; not so very fast. Are you nervous? I will have the chauffeur
drive slower. I forgot you were not used to it.”
Drusilla stopped him as he started to speak to the chauffeur.
“No; I wasn't thinking of that. I ain't nervous, I was just
wonderin' if he couldn't go a little faster.”
Mr. Thornton looked somewhat surprised, but he gave the order.
Drusilla again sat back among the cushions, a slight flush on her
face. Soon she leaned forward once more.
“Mr. Thornton, couldn't he let her out jest a leetle more?”
“We'll go as fast as you like; only I hope we won't be arrested.”
“I'd be willin' to go to jail to pay fer feelin' like this. I always
thought I'd have to wait till I got to Heaven before I'd git a chance
to fly, but now they'll have to offer me something new.”
She said nothing more on the journey, but showed by the bright flush
on her cheeks and the sparkle in her eyes that she was enjoying every
moment of the ride. At last they turned, passed a pair of big
gate-posts and up a graveled driveway, and the car stopped before a
When a man came from the house and opened the door of the car,
Drusilla came to herself with a start.
“Are we there already? I was kind of hopin' it'd never stop.”
Mr. Thornton gravely helped Drusilla to the door.
“Welcome to your home, Miss Doane,” he said. “I think we will find
my daughter inside.”
They entered a large hall and Drusilla stood hesitatingly, not
knowing what to do. In a moment a voice was heard from above:
“Is that you, Father?” and a laughing face peered over the railing,
and was followed by a slim young figure that seemed to fly down the
stairs. “Oh, you were such a long time, Father. Welcome home,
Miss Doane! we are so glad to have you. We have all been waiting
such a long time. Father is always so slow;” and she flew in her
pretty, impulsive way to Drusilla and took both her hands. “I am so
glad to have you come, Miss Doane.”
Drusilla looked at the pretty face before her that seemed to show
such real welcome, and her eyes filled with tears.
“I'm real glad to come, but—but—I guess I'm a little bit scared.”
“No, you aren't going to be frightened at all. You come right up
with me and take off your hat in your room. Oh, here is Mrs. Perrine.
She is your housekeeper, Miss Doane. And that is James, the butler; and
that is Mary; and Jeanne is waiting for you upstairs. Come with me.”
Drusilla followed as well as she could the flying feet up the broad
stairs and was taken to a room that seemed to her a palace. It was all
in soft shades of gray with a touch of blue here and there, and there
were flowers everywhere. The chairs were upholstered in gray and blue
chintz, and at the windows hung gray silk curtains with just a hint of
the blue showing beneath them. Near the fireplace was a big couch with
a soft gray silk quilt spread upon it, and pillows that invited one to
rest. Drusilla stopped in delight.
“Oh—oh—what a pretty room! What a pretty room!”
Miss Thornton dimpled all over her pretty face.
“Do you like it? Oh, please say you like it! I arranged these rooms
myself. This was a bachelor house, and there wasn't a pretty room in
the place. I made Father let me fix them for you. You do like them,
“I never saw nothin' like it before in my life.”
“You don't think it too gay, do you? Mother said I ought not have
the blue, that they should all be done in a dark color. But I said I
knew you would love pretty things, and you should have them. You don't
think it too gay. You like the blue, don't you?”
“I love it, I love it! I never had nothin' gay colored in my
life, and I love it.”
“I knew you would. Come into the bedroom. Isn't this gray furniture
dear? Don't those long mirrors look lovely with the gray wood? And
aren't the toilet things pretty? See the monogram—D. D. I
thought a lot about it, and aren't they pretty on that dull silver?
Look at this mirror—and isn't that the cunningest pin-tray? And
this is for your hatpins; and look at this pin-cushion. I had the
loveliest time picking them out.”
Drusilla looked at the pretty things in amazement rather mixed with
“Why, what'll I do with all them things?”
“Oh, you'll use them all. There isn't one too many, and perhaps I've
forgotten some things. If I have, we will go and pick them out
together. You will let me go with you, won't you, because I love to
shop. Oh, I forgot—here is your bathroom, and beyond that is your
maid's room. She is quite near, so if you feel ill in the night you can
call her. But let me take off your hat. Shall I ring for Jeanne? No,”
as she saw the frightened look come into the eyes, “perhaps you'd
rather be with me just at first. How pretty your hair is, so soft and
fluffy. You must blue it, it is so white. I wish my hair would fluff,
but it won't curl except in wet weather. Now come into the other room
and sit down in that soft chair. Isn't that an easy chair? I picked
that out too. I chose everything in the room, and I'm so proud of it.
See, here is the footstool that goes with it, and you sit by the big
window here when you don't want to go downstairs, and this little table
will hold your books or your sewing.”
Drusilla looked up at her.
“You've been real kind, Miss Thornton; you've thought of
“But I loved it. I've been working ever since Father knew about
“It is nice of you to be here. I was afraid a little to come, not
knowin' what it was goin' to be like.”
“That's what I told Father. I said you didn't want to come into a
big cold house with only a cold lawyer like him to say, 'Welcome home.'
I made him let me come. I'm going to stay to dinner with you if you'll
invite me. We'll send Father home. I don't live far from here—only
about five minutes in the car—and Father can send back for me. Would
you like me to stay?”
Drusilla leaned forward eagerly.
“Oh, do stay, Miss Thornton. I—I—well, I wouldn't know what to do
“Well, you sit here by this fire and I'll go down and tell Father to
go away. You don't want to hear any more business to-night and Father
always talks business. Just you take a little nap while I'm gone.
Are you comfortable? There! I'll be back in five minutes.”
Drusilla sat down in the comfortable chair and watched the flames
flickering in the grate; then her eyes passed lovingly around the room,
resting on each beautiful picture, on the soft draperies, the
easy-chairs and the flowers. She sat as one in a dream, until light
steps were heard and Miss Thornton again entered the room.
“Did you sleep?”
“No, I didn't want to shut my eyes. I was afraid it might all go
away and I'd be again in the bare little rooms I've always lived in. I
don't think I'll ever sleep again—I might miss somethin'.”
“Isn't that lovely! Why, you'll always have lovely things all your
life. And now I've told James that we're going to have dinner up here.
The dining-room looks too big for us two.”
Miss Thornton busied herself around the room for a few moments; then
drew a chair in front of the grate and sat down beside Drusilla while
the butler and a maid brought in a small table. Drusilla watched them
as they noiselessly arranged the china and the glass upon the beautiful
cloth, and when all was prepared the butler said in his even, “servant"
tones, “Dinner is served,” and went behind the chair reserved for the
mistress of the house. Drusilla hesitated a moment, in evident awe of
the butler, who stood so erect and stiff in his evening clothes, but
here again kindly Daphne Thornton came to her aid.
“Now, you sit here, Miss Doane,” and she took her to the chair which
the butler deftly slid into place. “I will be just opposite you. Isn't
this nicer than sitting at that great big table downstairs where we
would need a telephone to talk to each other?”
She chatted all through the dinner, showing in a kindly, unobtrusive
way the uses of the different things that might be an embarrassment to
the little old lady who was used to the simple service of a charity
table. After dinner the coffee was served on a small table in front of
While they were drinking it a maid entered the room.
“The motor has come for Miss Thornton,” she announced.
“Now, I am going to leave you. Get a good sleep. I will call Jeanne,
who will take care of you. She is your personal maid, Miss Doane, so
tell her anything you want.”
Answering the ring of the bell a pretty maid came into the room, and
Miss Thornton said:
“Jeanne, this is Miss Doane, your mistress. She is tired and will
like to go to bed early, I am sure. See that she has a good warm bath,
as it will help her sleep. And, Miss Doane, I bought a few things for
you, as perhaps your luggage might not come in time. Jeanne will have
them ready for you. Now, good night! I am so glad you have come, and I
know you will be so happy. You will let me come often to see you, won't
She came over to the chair and bent her pretty young head over the
old white one, and Drusilla reached up her arms and took the smiling
face between her hands.
“You'll never know, dear, what you've done for a lonely old woman. I
don't know how to thank you.”
“Thank me—why, I should thank you. I have had such
a nice time, and I'm so glad that you like the rooms—Mother said you
wouldn't. Would you like me to come in the morning and see how you are
“Oh, will you? I won't know what to do, you know.”
“Yes, I'll love to come and I'll be here early. Good night and happy
dreams!” And she was gone.
When she was alone Drusilla sat before the fire and tried to feel
that it all was true, that it was not some beautiful dream from which
she would waken. She went in retrospect over her past life from the
time when, a little girl, her father dying, she and her mother were
left with no support except the little earned by her mother, who was
the village tailoress. Then when she became older the burden of the
support for the two shifted to her shoulders, her mother seeming to
have lost heart and with it the strength and the desire to make the
grim fight with the wolf that always seemed so near the door. For years
she struggled on, doing the country tailoring, nursing the sick,
helping in families who were too poor to hire expert labor, missing all
the joys that come to the average young girl, as all her leisure
moments from work were given to an ailing mother who seemed to become
more dependent upon her daughter each year for companionship and
Yet romance did not entirely pass her by, for when she was nineteen
she loved and was loved in return by John Brierly. They were an ideal
couple, the neighbors said. He, young, handsome, although a little too
much of a dreamer to be a success; she, the prettiest girl in all the
country side. John was restless, and with youth's ambition rebelled
against the narrow restrictions of the little town. Hearing the call of
the West, he decided to go to the country of his dreams and find the
fortune that he knew was waiting him in that new land of mystery. He
tried to persuade Drusilla to marry him and go with him; but her
mother, with a sick woman's persistency, demanded that her daughter
stay with her. They offered to take her with them, and painted in
glowing colors the new life in that “far beyond”; but she wept in
terror at the thought of leaving all she knew, and clung the more
closely to Drusilla, begging her to stay with her until the end. “When
I am gone, Drusilla, you may go; but let me die here among the things I
know and love”; and Drusilla and John put off the journey from year to
year, until at last John in desperation said, “Drusilla, I can wait no
longer. I must go. I will wait for you, and some day you will come to
The years rolled on. Drusilla heard from John from time to time, but
after many years the letters stopped. Her mother lived long enough to
see Drusilla becoming old and tired and worn, and then she, too, left
her for the Great Unknown. Drusilla worked on, making the clothes for
each rising generation, helping tired mothers, caring for the sick. But
at last she had to give up the fight; she was too old. Quicker feet
were wanted, younger hands, and Drusilla learned the bitter lesson that
comes often to the old. They are stumbling-blocks in the pathway of the
young. This knowledge broke her courage and her health, and her hard
saved dollars were spent in doctor's bills. When strength came slowly
back to her she was too weak to rebel against the order that she was to
pass the remainder of her days at the Doane home. Even there she tried
to keep her feeling of self-respect and independence by doing the work
that was not given the other women, who “paid their way.” The Director
and his wife, busy, annoyed by a thousand petty details, were not
consciously unkind, but they found it easy to shift a few of their
burdens to the shoulders that always seemed able to carry a little
heavier load; consequently the willing hands were always occupied, the
wearied feet often made many steps on errands that should have been
relegated to one of few years.
Drusilla, sitting before the fire, saw all these bitter years pass
like shadows before her half-closed eyes; she saw the years of toil
without the reward that is woman's right—the love of children,
husband, a home to call her own. And yet those years had left no scar
upon her soul, no rancor against the world that had taken all and given
nothing except the right to live.
A log dropped into the fire and Drusilla awakened from her revery
with a start. Her eyes felt heavy and she rose to go to the bedroom;
then remembered that she was told to ring when she wished to go to bed.
She rang the bell and the maid came into the room.
“Madame desires to retire?”
Drusilla looked at her inquiringly.
“What did Miss Thornton say your name was?”
“Jeanne. That isn't Jane, is it?”
“It may be French for Jane; I am French.”
“Well, then, I'll call you Jane. I can't remember the other. I think
I would like to go to bed.”
“Then I will prepare the bath.”
Soon she returned to the room.
“The bath is ready for Madame,” she said; and Drusilla followed her
into the bedroom.
There the thoughtfulness of Miss Thornton was again shown. Over a
chair hung a warm gray dressing-gown, with slippers to match, and
neatly folded on the bed was a soft white nightdress, lace-trimmed,
delicate, dainty, the mere touch of which gave delight to the sensitive
fingers as they touched its folds.
The bathroom, with its silver fittings, was a revelation to
Drusilla; and as she stepped into the warm, slightly perfumed water, it
seemed to speak to her more eloquently than all the rest of the seeming
miracles that were now coming into her life.
When Drusilla returned to the bedroom she found a shaded light on a
table at the head of the bed, and beside the light were her Bible and
the life of John Calvin.
She stood a moment looking around the room, and then she knelt
beside the bed.
“O God,” she whispered, “I hain't never had much to thank you for
except for strength to work, but now—dear God, I thank you!”
The next morning Drusilla found herself unconsciously waiting for
the rising bell that called the inmates of the Doane home from their
slumbers, and when she opened her eyes she could not realize for a
moment where she was. Instead of the plain white walls of her room, she
saw the soft gray tints of silk and the sheen of silver, and her hands
touched a silken-covered eiderdown quilt. She closed her eyes in sheer
happiness, and then opened them again to be sure that it was not all a
mirage. At last, not being used to lying in bed, she arose and, putting
on the dressing-gown, went to one of the windows and raised the shade
to look out. She stopped with her hand still on the shade, looking in
wonder at the beauty just outside her window. A great copper beach was
flaunting its gorgeous colors in the clear morning air; beyond it a
clump of blue spruce seemed a background for the riotous autumn tints.
At one side of the house was an Italian garden, with terrace after
terrace falling toward the river. Across the river, the Palisades rose
sheer and steep, their reddish-brown rocks covered with the glow of the
Drusilla did not know it, but she was looking at one of the most
beautiful of the many beautiful places along the Hudson, a place on
which hundreds of thousands of dollars had been spent with a lavish
hand. Drusilla drew up a chair and sat by the window, watching the
changing shades as the sun became brighter. Then she became interested
in the life of the place as it gradually awoke to its morning's work.
First a gardener crossed the lawn and began working around the plants;
then another came with a rake and commenced raking up the dying leaves;
another man wandered down toward the river. A man, evidently a house
servant, came across the lawn and, seeing her at the window, went
hastily into the house. Soon there was a light knock at the door, and
in answer to her “come in,” Jeanne, the maid, entered.
“Oh, Madame,” she said, “why did, you not ring? I did not know you
She bustled about the room, raising shades, and then rang for a man
to come and make the fire in the grate. The house seemed warm to
“Do I need a fire?” she asked. “It's warm in here.”
“Just a little fire, Madame,” said Jeanne; “it makes the room more
Drusilla laughed. It seemed to her that nothing could make that
exquisite room more cheerful.
The maid went to the bedroom and soon returned to announce: “The
bath is ready for Madame.”
Drusilla wondered why she was expected to take another bath, as she
had had one the night before. But evidently it was expected of her, and
she went into the bathroom and again reveled in the warm, perfumed
water. When she returned to the bedroom her clothing of the night
before was arranged ready for her to put on, and as she dressed she
felt for the first time the coarseness of the linen and the ugliness of
the plain black dress.
“Would Madame like her breakfast here,” the maid asked, “or will she
go to the breakfast room?”
Drusilla hesitated, as she did not know what to do.
“I think Madame would like to go to the breakfast room,” the clever
little French woman said hastily; “it is very pretty there, with the
flowers and the birds. I will show Madame the way.”
Going before her she guided Drusilla down the great staircase and
across a room that was evidently the dining-room, into what Drusilla
would have called a sun-parlor. It was a corner of the veranda enclosed
in glass and filled with flowers and plants of every description, with
birds singing among them in their gilded cages, and from it the Hudson
could be seen, flowing silently to the sea. In the center of the room
was a round table covered with a cloth which quickly caught her eye and
charmed it with its dainty embroidery and lace, used as she had been to
the coarse linen of the home. A man drew out her chair and she was
seated, a footstool found for her feet, and breakfast was served.
Drusilla felt that she could never forget that breakfast. The
grapefruit, the coffee in its silver pot, the crisp bacon, the omelet,
all served on beautiful dishes; and, to complete her joy, a great
Persian cat came lazily to her and rubbed against her, begging for a
share in the good things of the table. She stooped down and stroked its
“I am afraid that Nicodemus is very spoiled,” the man said. “His
master always gave him a dish of cream at the table.”
Drusilla laughed. It seemed the first human thing she had heard.
“Well, then, I'll spoil him too. What do you give it to him in?”
The man pointed to a silver bowl.
“That is his dish. Shall I give it to him?”
“No; let me,” said Drusilla. “I want to do something for some one.
Let me give him his cream.”
After that she did not feel so frightened and awed by the presence
of the man who waited upon her so deftly, and when he left she rose and
wandered around the room, looking at the flowers, wondering what were
the names of the many plants that were strange to her. Then she went
across the dining-room and up the stairs to her own rooms, where she
felt more at ease. She found them already arranged, and wondered at the
quickness and silence with which the work was done.
She did not know what to do, so she sat down again by the window to
wait for Daphne. While she was sitting there, the housekeeper came into
“Good morning, Miss Doane,” she said pleasantly. “I hope you slept
“Yes; thank you,” replied Drusilla.
“Would you like to go over the house this morning?”
Again Drusilla was embarrassed, as she did not know what would be
expected of her if she went over the house. “Why—why—” she said, “I
think, if you don't mind, I will wait until Miss Thornton comes.”
“Very well. I will be ready at any time.”
When the housekeeper left the room, Drusilla sat quietly in her
place by the sunny window until at last she saw a motor turn into the
grounds, and soon Daphne appeared. Drusilla's face lighted up when she
saw the pretty girl standing before her. She seemed a part of the
morning itself, with her sparkling eyes, her dainty coloring
accentuated by her pretty suit of blue and her jaunty hat.
“Oh, you look like one of the flowers!” Drusilla exclaimed, reaching
out her hands to her.
“How nice of you to say that! I've come early; did you wait long for
“Yes; I have been settin' here just seeing the beauty of it all. I
can't believe it's real.”
“Oh, but it is. And isn't it beautiful! I always loved the place.
Did you sleep well? Were you tired out? Are you rested?”
“I didn't sleep at first—I couldn't. But I'm not tired; I'm just
sort of excited—and—and—oh, I don't know what to say about it all.”
“Well, if you are not tired, would you like to go over the house?
It's a lovely house. I know Mrs. Perrine wants to show it to you and
let you see what a wonderful housekeeper she is.”
“Yes; she asked me to go with her, but I wanted to wait until you
come—as—as I might not know what to say.”
“Well, we'll go together; and don't you worry about saying anything
if you don't want to. I talk enough for both of us. That's my trouble,
Father says—I talk too much. Come—Mrs. Perrine is downstairs.”
They went from room to room, from drawingroom to library, to the
picture gallery in which, had Drusilla known it, were some of the
famous pictures of the world, and on to the great armor room, in which
the former master of the house had searched the countries of the old
world for the armor and accouterments of chivalry which were arranged
around the walls. Then she was shown that which interested her more
than the pictures or the armor—the pantries and the room in which were
kept the china and silver in daily use; and the kitchen, with its array
of cooking utensils, brought a look of delight into her old eyes,
because these she could understand.
Finally she was taken upstairs again and shown the guest rooms, each
with its dressing-room and bath, and then opposite to her own suite of
rooms she was taken into a small library paneled in soft toned woods.
Daphne pulled out a leather chair for Drusilla.
“Now sit in that and tell me what you think of it all. Isn't this a
pretty room? I like it best of all except your sitting-room, and isn't
that a wonderful fireplace? It was brought from somewhere abroad. It is
cozy here at night when the curtains are drawn. I think this room looks
human; those big rooms downstairs don't. I could never curl up in a
chair and read in that great library downstairs, but here you can
really find a novel and read in comfort. I know you'll spend lots of
time in this room.”
Drusilla was quiet, sitting with folded hands. Then, after a few
moments, she said:
“I was just a-thinkin' that all this great house can't be for just
one old woman. And all them dishes and the kitchen with them pots and
pans and the cook can't be there just to cook for me alone?”
“Oh, but he is, and he's a wonderful cook. Mr. Doane has had him for
years and years. And James, the butler, came with him from England. He
was in the house of a duke over there, and I assure you, Miss Doane, he
doesn't forget it.”
“Is that the man who stands around as if he was afraid he'd hurt
something if he teched it? I ain't seen him do much; another man gave
me my breakfast.”
“Yes, I presume William, the second man, gave you your breakfast.
James is too grand to serve breakfast.”
“Do I need so many men around?”
“No, I really don't suppose you do, Miss Doane; but Mr. Doane kept a
big household and he left in his will that the house should be kept up
exactly the same as when he was here. But don't you worry about that.
That is father's business. You don't have to bother a bit about it. All
you have to do is to enjoy yourself. Now, what would you like to do? Is
there anything you want?”
Drusilla looked at her a moment and then said, half laughingly, half
“I'd like—I'd like—”
She stopped, and Daphne came over to her.
“What would you like, Miss Doane? I'm here to do anything you wish.”
“You won't think I'm a vain old woman if I tell you?”
“Why, certainly not. Tell me.”
“Well—well—I was thinkin' this mornin' when I dressed that I
didn't seem to fit in with the house. When I saw my pretty gray room,
all so light and—and—beautiful—and when I saw myself in the
lookin'-glass with my old black dress, I thought—I wished—”
“Yes, Miss Doane; what did you wish?”
Drusilla flushed as if ashamed of her wishes that seemed to her
scarcely befitting a woman of her age.
“I just wished I had pretty clothes to go with the room.”
Daphne clapped her hands.
“Now, isn't that lovely! Of course you should have pretty clothes,
and you shall! We will go shopping! Father said to do anything you
wanted to do. Now, what would you like?”
“I don't know, but I'd—I'd just like pretty clothes.”
Daphne jumped up and danced around the room.
“I'll tell you what we'll do,” she said gaily. “We'll go to town and
shop and shop and shop. I'd love it, and we'll send all the bills to
Father. He can't frown or scold as he does when I send him
bills; he'll have to pay yours without a word. Oh, we'll go right
“I'd love to go, Miss Thornton. I never really shopped in my life. I
jest bought things I had to have, things I couldn't go without no
longer.” Drusilla rose, as pleased with the idea as was the young girl
beside her. “Can we go right away?”
“Yes; but wait, you must eat something.”
“But I jest had my breakfast.”
“Yes; but you must have something now, or you'll get tired. I'll
have them bring you some chicken broth or something, and I'll have some
too. I can always eat.”
She danced over to the bell, and when Jeanne answered it she said:
“Tell James to bring some chicken broth and some sandwiches; and
have the small car at the door in half an hour. And please tell my
chauffeur to return home and tell Mother that I will not be home for
When Jeanne was gone she danced back to Drusilla.
“We'll make a day of it, Miss Doane, and we'll have the loveliest
The lunch was served and then the ugly bonnet was tied on, the
mantle wrapped around the thin shoulders, and Drusilla and Daphne
started for that joy land of women—Fifth Avenue.
“We'll go first and get some things that are already made,” Daphne
She took Drusilla to one of the exclusive shops on Fifth Avenue. If
Daphne had not been known, slight courtesy would have been shown the
shabbily dressed old woman, but a few words from Daphne and the
salesladies were all smiles and bows, eager to show their best. At
first they showed her black dresses; but at Drusilla's little look of
distress, quick Daphne saw there was something wrong.
“Don't you like them, Miss Doane?”
“Yes—yes—they're beautiful, Miss Thornton, but—do I have
to wear black? I've worn it all my life because it wears well. I'd
“Tell me what you would like.”
“I'd like a soft gray dress like my room, if I ain't too old. But—
but—perhaps it wouldn't be fittin'.”
“That's just the thing! Why didn't I think of that! Gray will be
just the color for you; and with a touch of blue, and your white hair
—Oh, you'll be lovely, Miss Doane.”
Again the willing salesladies were given their instructions, and
gray dresses and gray suits were placed before her. Drusilla passed
over the suits with hardly a look, but fingered lovingly the soft
crepes and chiffons.
“I don't like the heavy things,” she said. “They look as if they'd
turn well, and I don't want nothin' that can be turned. I'd like
something that'll wear out.”
“You're just like me. I hate things that wear forever. Father says
that's the cause of the high cost of living—we women don't buy
Drusilla looked pained.
“Perhaps I shouldn't look at them then—”
Daphne interrupted her.
“You just buy what you want. Don't you worry about what Father
thinks. I don't.”
“But I—I—don't want to be extravagant.”
“You can't be extravagant. You can't spend too much.
Now, don't you think about it—and don't you ask how much they cost.
You don't need to know. Just you buy the prettiest things they've got.”
Finally a choice was made of two pretty soft gray dresses, fragile
enough to suit even Daphne's luxurious tastes; arrangements were made
in regard to their hurried alterations; and, after buying a wrap to
replace the now discarded mantle, they departed, Drusilla as happy as a
child, with a flush on her old cheeks and a strange happy light in her
“Now we must have things to go with them.”
They went into a lingerie shop, where Drusilla was dazed by the
piles of dainty underclothing that were spread before her. She caressed
the soft laces and the delicate, cobweb affairs.
“Oh, Miss Thornton, I can't decide. I didn't know there was such
beautiful things in the world! Had I ought to have 'em? Ain't they too
young for me?”
“There is no age for underclothing. Don't you want them? Isn't that
the loveliest nightgown? Don't you want it?”
“Yes, I'd like to have it, but—” Drusilla thought of her two Canton
flannel nightdresses lying in her little trunk.
“Well, you shall have them. And this fluffy gray dressing-gown—it
is a dear. We will take that too; and this pretty bed-jacket. Look at
the embroidery on it. You must have that, so if you have breakfast in
bed—and look at this dear lace cap. When you sit up in bed,
with the tray in front of you, and this little jacket on, and the cap,
with a little of your hair showing beneath it, why, you'll look nice
enough to eat. Now we'll go and buy stockings, pretty gray silk
ones, and shoes, and slippers; and we mustn't forget about the
milliner. I know the loveliest place; Madame will know just what
to give you.”
Drusilla enjoyed the milliner's the most of all; for there she tried
on hat after hat—not ugly bonnets but cleverly arranged creations for
an old lady that seemed to remove the lines from her face and made her
feel that perhaps, after all, she could take a part and share in the
beautiful things of this new beautiful world, instead of a mere looker
At last they were taken to one of the great modistes, a creator of
gowns known on two continents, and Daphne had Miss Doane wait in a
reception-room while she interviewed the great lady herself. This
arbitrator of fashion came smilingly to Miss Doane and with her keen,
professional eye saw her “possibilities.” She said to Miss Thornton:
“Will you leave it to me? I will make her the gowns and she will be
Measurements were taken and orders given; and when they were again
in the motor, Drusilla asked shyly:
“What was that last place, Miss Thornton?”
“That is Marcelle, the great dressmaker's place. That was Marcelle
herself who came to us.”
“Was that a dressmaking shop? I didn't see no dresses or fashion
“No, she doesn't use fashion books. She makes her own fashions.”
“But—but—we jest got two new dresses.”
Miss Thornton laughed.
“Oh, those are because we were in a hurry. Your dresses must be
made. I told her she must hurry, too; and her things are beautiful,
Miss Doane. You'll love yourself in them.”
Drusilla laughed softly.
“I'm afraid I love myself already. It seems awful vain for an old
woman like me to be buying all them pretty clothes—but—” and she
sighed like a happy child—“it's nice to be vain for once in your life.
It's just nice.”
“Of course it is. All women love pretty clothes.”
“Yes; it must be something born inside of us, 'cause I don't know as
I've ever had such a feelin' even when readin' the Bible as I did when
I tried on them hats, and bought them dresses, and knowed they was
mine.” She was quiet for a moment. “I wonder if Eve ever had the
chance to be extravagant in fig leaves?”
“Well, we've bought them, and Father's hair will certainly turn
gray, but he can't say a word. Now we'll go to lunch. It's late; you
must be hungry. I'm glad we found a coat that fitted you—that velvet
is so soft and pretty. And your hat—why, Miss Doane, you won't know
“Is it pretty? It ought to be. It's got ten dollars of hat and
thirty dollars of style; but I don't care. I'm so happy that I'm afraid
I'll cry and spoil it all.”
But she did not cry and she enjoyed the luncheon at the big hotel,
and as she ate she stole shy glances in the mirror opposite that
reflected a transformed Drusilla from the frightened little woman who
had gone tremblingly down the steps of the Doane home the day before.
The next few days passed in a whirl of excitement for Drusilla.
Dresses were bought for her to fit, and she went into town with Daphne
on visits to the great dressmaker, who turned and studied Drusilla as
gown after gown was fitted to her slim, yet still erect old figure. But
finally they were all finished and great boxes came to the house. They
were opened by Jeanne and their treasures spread upon the chairs and
the bed to be admired and fingered lovingly by Drusilla, who took as
much joy in her new clothes as any girl with her first trousseau.
Except for the Bible and the life of John Calvin the contents of the
little trunk were lost, so far as Drusilla was concerned. She became
another being, as, clothed in soft-toned grays, her hair dressed by the
hand of expert Jeanne, she gradually lost her feeling of loneliness, of
being a person apart from her new life, and began to move with
confidence amongst the treasured beauties of her new home.
The pretty gowns gave her a feeling of respect for herself that she
had never experienced before, and for the first time in her life she
felt within herself a power. Her opinions were deferred to, her
wishes carried out immediately, and it seemed to her that all the world
was trying to give her happiness. It took her many days to feel that
she might ask for service instead of waiting upon herself; but she soon
learned that the many servants were there for her especial use, and
expected to be called upon to render any service that she required.
At first she was embarrassed when the housekeeper came to her in the
mornings for orders for the day, and she confided to Daphne that she
didn't know what to tell her. Daphne interviewed the housekeeper
privately and then said to Drusilla, “I have seen Mrs. Perrine and told
her that she doesn't need to come to you in the morning, as she
understands what is to be done. If there is anything special, you will
tell her, but you are not to be bothered with the details of the house
now. After a while, perhaps, you will care to attend to some of the
things, and tell her what you would like; but don't let it worry you
until you get used to it all. I told the chef, too, that he need not
send up the menu for the day, as he did to Mr. Doane.”
Miss Thornton could not know how thankful Drusilla was for this last
order, as the consideration of the menu had been a great embarrassment
to her. It was written in French—a language quite unknown to
Drusilla—and although she could not read the names of the marvelous
creations of the cook, the food delighted her and the quiet, skilful
service was always a wonder. The mechanism of the great household
seemed to move with almost a machine's precision, and she felt that she
was in a world that revolved to the order of unseen hands.
She had been in her new home but a few days when a card was brought
her, and she read on it: Thomas Carney, The New York Times. She
went to the library, wondering what some strange man could want with
her. She found a very quick, alert young man, with twinkling blue eyes,
who rose to greet her. She gave him her hand and asked him to be
seated. He sat down, and then question after question was asked
Drusilla. What relation she was to Elias Doane? Had she ever known him?
How she had passed her life; the details of the life in the Doane home;
how many years she had been there? Her impressions of her new home;
what she intended doing with her million dollars; if she had any
relatives to whom she would leave her money? Was she interested in
charities? Did she believe in promiscuous giving, or would she help
personally the objects of her charity?
Poor Drusilla heard the flood of questions in amazement, and
answered them quite frankly; and the keen young newspaper man read much
between the answers that showed the loneliness of her life, her
bewilderment in her new surroundings, and he congratulated himself that
he would have an article for his Sunday paper that not only would be
filled with facts but also would have “heart interest.”
When he rose to go he asked her if she had a photograph of herself.
“No, I ain't never had my pictur' took since I was a young girl and
had it on a tintype.”
Nothing daunted, the young man asked for it; but she had to tell him
that she had lost it years ago; and then he asked if he might take her
photograph as she sat there in her high-backed chair. Drusilla was a
little awed by this very confident young man, so she sat still while he
took her photograph, and then when he was ready to depart, she
“Young man, you have asked me a lot of questions. May I ask you
“Certainly! As many as you want.”
“Well, why have you asked me so many things?”
“I represent the New York Times, a newspaper, and we want to
tell the people all about you.”
“About me? Why should they want to know about me?”
The man laughed again, pleasantly, and said:
“You know we like to know about our neighbors, and you are the
“But are you going to write all I said?”
“Well, nearly all; but, Miss Doane, if there is anything you don't
want written, I'll cut it.”
Drusilla was embarrassed.
“Have I said anything that I shouldn't? If I had known you was from
a paper, I'd 'a' waited until Mr. Thornton come.”
“I'm jolly glad you didn't. Little copy could have been squeezed
from that old lawyer. But don't you worry, Miss Doane. There won't be
anything that will hurt you. It's kind of you to see me. I have been
trying for several days to get in, but couldn't get past that butler of
yours. He sure is a wonder.”
“Did the butler stop you?”
“Well, yes; he stood at the door like an armored cruiser. I wouldn't
have made it to-day if I hadn't waited until I saw him go out. I knew
the second man was at his home and only a maid in charge of you.”
Drusilla was unhappy.
“Perhaps I shouldn't have seen you. It must have been Mr. Thornton's
orders, and he knows what is best for me.”
She crossed over to the young man and looked rather pitifully up
into his face.
“You look like a nice young man,” she said; “I like your eyes. You
won't say nothing that'll make Mr. Thornton unhappy?”
The reporter took the half-outstretched hand and smiled down into
the kindly, wrinkled face. When he spoke there was almost a touch of
tenderness in his voice.
“I don't care about making Mr. Thornton unhappy, Miss Doane, but I
wouldn't do anything to make you unhappy for the world; and if
you ever want anything of the papers, here is my card. Just you send
for me and I'll do anything for you that I can.”
And so ended Drusilla's first interview.
To her amazement the next Sunday there was spread before her the
paper with great headlines: MISS DRUSILLA DOANE, OUR NEWEST
MILLIONAIRE. There was the picture of the Doane home for old ladies;
there were pictures of the home at Brookvale taken from many angles,
pictures of the garden, the conservatories; and in the middle of the
page there was Drusilla herself, sitting in the high-backed chair. The
article was well written, filled with “heart interest.” It told of her
early struggles, her years of work, and her later life in the charity
home. Evidently the young man had visited the village where she had
lived and talked with all who knew her; and Mrs. Smith's hand could
plainly be seen in the account of the life of the inmates of the
institution over which she had charge. Even poor old Barbara had been
called upon to tell about Drusilla, the many little acts of kindness
which she had done for the poor and lonely. As Drusilla read it she
laughed and said, “Well, I guess Barbara had her teeth in that day.”
The article ended with the account of the million dollar bequest, and
suggested that quite likely the charities of New York would benefit by
the newest acquisition to the ranks of its millionaires, as Miss Doane
was alone in the world, and had no one on whom to lavish her enormous
income or to leave the money when she was called to the other world.
Drusilla did not know it, but this last addition of the facile
reporter's pen set many heads of institutions to thinking, and caused
many a person to wonder how they could gain the affections or the pity
of this old lady, and separate her from at least a part of her
Drusilla passed many hours among the flowers in the conservatories,
where she won the heart of the gardener by the keen interest she took
in his work. He would walk around with her and tell her the names of
the plants strange to her, pointing out their beauties and their
peculiarities. He soon saw that the orchids and the rare blooms from
foreign lands did not appeal to her as did the old-fashioned flowers
she knew, and they made a little bargain that in the spring she should
have some beds of mignonette, phlox, verbenas, and moss rose. One
morning she watched him giving directions to one of the under-gardeners
for the potting of small plants for the spring.
“Mr. Donald,” she said, “I wish I could plant somethin'. It's been
years since I dug around in the earth, and I want to plant somethin'
and see it grow.”
“That's easy, ma'am,” said Scotch Mr. Donald. “I'll fix a part of
the house here and you can plant what you want in it”; and after that
many mornings found Drusilla pottering happily around the conservatory
with a trowel, planting seeds or “slipping” plants as she called it. It
gave her something to do, and that was the one thing she needed. She
missed the active life, the “doing something.” Everything was done for
her—she had no duties. She, who had passed her life in service for
others, here had only to mention a wish and it was immediately carried
out. She was not allowed even to look after her clothing. As soon as an
article was removed it was whisked out of the room and when returned
was brushed, mended, and ready for use again.
One afternoon Drusilla sat down by the window to mend a tear on the
bottom of her skirt. Jeanne, coming into the room, quickly took the
garment from her.
“Madame, she must not do that. Quelle horreur! I will attend
to it at once.”
“Can't I even patch my dress?” she said. “Jane, where are my
stockin's? I am sure there must be some darnin'.”
Jeanne looked at her reproachfully.
“Madame does not wear darned stockings.”
“Stuff and nonsense!” said Drusilla. “Why shouldn't I wear darned
“Yes, but it would not be au fait for Madame to wear darned
Drusilla became a little angry.
“How foolish you are, Jane! I've wore darned stockin's all my life.
A few darns don't hurt one way or another. What becomes of my
stockin's? I saw a hole in one the other day.”
Jeanne looked a little embarrassed.
“Why—why—when they become not convenable for Madame, I—I
“Oh,” said shrewd Drusilla, looking at Jeanne over her glasses. “And
I presume you are the judge of when they become 'convenable'
—whatever that means. But you'd better let me tell you when I think
they're ready to be passed on.”
Drusilla sat back in the chair with folded hands for a few moments;
then she looked down at them as they lay idly in her lap.
“I don't see what I'm goin' to do with my hands. I've always had a
work-basket by my side whenever I set down, and now you just expect me
to set. Well, I'm tired of it; I want to do something.”
A few of the neighbors, headed by Mrs. Thornton, the typical New
York woman devoted to “society,” made calls upon Drusilla; and when the
first caller's card was brought to Drusilla, she went into the
drawing-room and greeted the stylishly dressed lady who rose to meet
her, wondering why she had come. The lady sat down and talked to
Drusilla about the weather, asked how she liked Brookvale, spoke of the
opera season and of a new singer, asked her if she cared for
symphonies, which Drusilla thought at first was something to eat,
mentioned a ball that was being given at Sherry's that night for
charity; and then departed, leaving Drusilla still wondering why she
came. Evidently she told her friends of her visit, as many came, some
from curiosity and others from real kindliness and desire to be
friendly with their newest neighbor.
One day Daphne saw the cards.
“Oh,” she said, “has Mrs. Druer called, and Mrs. Cairns, and Mrs.
Freeman. I am so glad. You must return the call.”
“Is that a call? What did they come for? I been wondering about it
ever since they come.”
“They are your neighbors.”
“Oh, is that the way they are neighborly in the city? Set down and
talk about nothing for ten minutes and then go home. Well, I don't see
as it's very fillin'.”
“They want to get acquainted.”
“Well, why don't they stay a while and git acquainted? We jest git
started to talkin' when they go away. Where I lived when a neighbor
come to see you, they brought their sewin' and spent the afternoon. You
can't git acquainted settin' opposite each other and wonderin' what to
say. Why, they all look when they git ready to go, 'Well, I've done my
duty; thank goodness it's over!'“
“You must go and return the calls.”
“You mean that I must go to their houses and do what they done—set
ten minutes and ask them about the weather and the opera and
symphonies? I don't know nothin' about them things at all.”
“You needn't ask them about the opera, but you must return their
Drusilla shook her head.
“No, I won't do it.”
“Oh, but you must.”
“But I won't, Miss Thornton,” said Drusilla obstinately. “I don't
know what to say.”
“I'll go with you, Miss Doane.”
“Well—” and Drusilla was a little pacified—“well, I'll go once and
see what it's like. I'll do anything once, but I won't promise to do it
“Never mind; you must return the first calls. I'll come for you
to-morrow and we'll go. You have cards—I had them made for you; and
I'll bring my new cardcase. No, I'll get you the dearest bag I saw
downtown. Gray suede with a cardcase and mirror in it, and a pencil and
everything you need.”
“What do I want a mirror in my hand satchel for?”
“Why to powder your nose if it gets shiny, Miss Doane. You're not up
to date. You must have a vanity box in your bag or you won't be in it
at all now.”
“You ain't forgot how vain I was that first day when I peeked in all
the mirrors at the hotel. But now I can pass one without lookin' in, if
I ain't got a new dress on.”
“Speaking of dresses, Miss Doane, put on that dark gray velvet that
Marcelle made you and the hat with the mauve. Oh, I wish it were cold,
so you could wear your new furs. But—well—they'll see them all after
a while. We mustn't astonish them too much at first.”
“Do I have to fix up so much?”
“But I want them to see how pretty you are.”
Drusilla blushed like a girl.
“Pshaw, Miss Thornton, don't you know I'm past seventy years old?
You shouldn't say such things.”
“Oh, but I mean it. Margaret Fairchild, who was here with her
mother, told the girls the other night at the dance that she couldn't
keep her eyes off of you, as you sat with the light on your hair, and
your pretty dress that was so half old-fashioned and half the latest
style. She said you looked as if you had just stepped out of a
“It's my clothes, I guess.”
“Yes, it's partly the clothes, and that's where Marcelle is clever.
She makes the clothes suit you, and doesn't try to make a
fashionable middle-aged woman out of you. She spoke of your hands too,
said they looked so—so—sort of feminine as they lay on the arms of
the chair. You are clever, Miss Doane, to always sit on one of those
high-backed chairs when callers come; it makes a lovely background.”
“Does it? I hadn't thought of that. I generally set in the chair
that's nearest the door; and I like one with arms that I can take hold
of, 'cause it makes me nervous to have the women stare at me, and
sometimes when there is such a long time between talks, I hold on to
the arm tight so's I won't show I'm nervous and wonderin' what to say
to fill in. But I didn't think any one noticed my hands.” She looked
down at them rather sadly. “They've always worked hard and I guess they
show the marks.”
“Oh, your hands are beautiful, Miss Doane. I can't ever believe you
have worked with them.”
“Can't you? I never had my hands idle in my lap in all my life till
I come here. But—well, they ought to have something happen to 'em the
way Jane works with 'em. Whenever I let her she's fussin' with my hands
with little sticks and knives, until sometimes I'd like to box her
ears. How any one can spend so much time just settin' still and lettin'
some one fuss with their hands, I don't see. But I let her do it, as I
don't have much else to do here but just set still, and she'd better
fool with my hands than spend her time talkin' with William, which she
does enough as it is.”
“Oh, is Jeanne flirting?”
“Now, I shouldn't say anything. But I can't help seein' things, even
if they do think I'm an old woman with my eyes half shut.”
“I'll speak to Father about it.”
“No, you won't, Miss Thornton. Leave her alone. It ain't much
company for a young girl like her just to wait on an old woman like me;
and William seems a nice young man. I like him, Miss Thornton, but I
jest can't bear the sight of James.”
Daphne turned quickly.
“Has James been impertinent to you?”
Drusilla shook her head.
“No, not at all. I wish he would be impudent or anything
except jest stand around and look grand. He don't approve of me, Miss
Thornton—even his back when he leaves the dining-room says he don't
approve of me. I never seen a back that can say so much as his'n.”
“Well, if you don't like him I will speak to Father and he will get
“No, don't do that. He don't do nothin' to lose his place for; and
I'd hate to have to git used to another back. He never says a word, but
he jest looks; but perhaps he'll git over it, or I'll git used
to it, or maybe when I git more used to things I'll talk to him and ask
him if he can't be a little more human, instead of lookin' like the
chief mourner at a funeral. It sometimes makes me feel that I'm dead
and he's takin' the last look.”
“Oh, that's his way. He's English, you know, and English servants
are trained to look like mummies.”
“Well, he certainly had good trainin'. What time do we go callin'
to-morrow? I want to git it over.”
“I'll come for you at four, and I'll tell them to have the small car
ready. Good-by. I'm going to a great big tea where I am to pour. I love
to give tea, although I always give the wrong person lemon.”
The next day Jeanne, being told that Drusilla was going to call upon
the ladies of the neighborhood, took extra care in dressing her; and
when Daphne came, Drusilla was a very richly, exquisitely dressed old
lady waiting for her car. The bag delighted Drusilla and she examined
the fittings, and looked at the little vanity case with its tiny powder
puff and mirror. Daphne laughed as she saw her peep into the mirror.
“Oh, Miss Doane, you're just like us all. We can't pass a mirror
without a peep.”
Drusilla said: “I wonder if we ever git too old not to want to see
ourselves. As long as I can have hats like this one, I won't. Ain't it
funny what clothes can do for you. Now with my velvet dress I ain't a
bit afraid to go in that big house, in the front door and set down in
the parlor, while if I had on my old black dress, I'd feel that I
belonged in the kitchen. Yet it's the same Drusilla Doane inside.”
Drusilla made many calls that afternoon. At some of the places,
being told that the lady was not at home, a card was left.
“Pshaw now,” she said to Daphne, “will I have to come again, now she
ain't at home?”
“No,” said Daphne; “she'll find your cards and know you have called.
That's all you have to do.”
“Well, that's one good thing”—and Drusilla was relieved to find
that the disagreeable duty was so quickly done. “If I'd a knowed that,
I'd a sent William to tell me when they was out and then I'd a come.”
“Oh, but you'll like your neighbors when you know them. Here—Mrs.
Crane is at home, I know”—and Drusilla spent a most miserable half
hour sitting on the edge of a hard chair, wishing Daphne would rise as
a signal to leave. Tea was served by a maid, and Drusilla held the cup
awkwardly, while she ate the little wafer and infinitesimal sandwich
which was passed with it.
“Why didn't they have a table?” she asked when they were outside. “I
was in mortal fear that I'd spill the tea on my new dress—and I don't
eat well with my gloves on.”
Two more calls of the same kind were made and as they were turning
into another gate, Drusilla leaned forward and said to the chauffeur:
“Joseph, go straight ahead.” Then, turning to Daphne, Drusilla said:
“We're goin' for a ride now; we ain't goin' to spoil this lovely day
with no more calls.”
Drusilla would not listen to Daphne's remonstrances, and the motor
flew along the beautiful drive overlooking the Hudson. Drusilla did not
speak for a time, simply enjoying the ride. Then she turned to the
“Daphne, what does subsidize mean.”
Daphne frowned for a moment.
“I wonder if I can tell. I know what it means but it is hard to say
it. It means to pay a certain sum of money to some one or some thing.
For instance, the ships that carry the mails for some governments are
subsidized; or if the government wants to aid some project, to enable
it to start, it subsidizes it—that is, gives it a certain sum per year
like a salary. Have I made myself clear? Father could tell you better
than I can.”
“I guess I see what it is,” Drusilla said.
“Why do you want to know?” queried Daphne.
“Well, I got a little mixed up in what it meant. I got a letter this
morning from some man—some poet I guess he is—who said that I should
leave my money to subsidize struggling poets, who had a great message
to give the world, but who had to work so hard making a livin' that
they didn't git no chance to give the message. I'm afraid I got kind of
mixed up—I could think of nothin' but etherize. I guess it was the
strugglin' that confused my mind, and I been wondering why I could
etherize a lot of struggling young poets. But now I understand.”
“Well, of all the impertinence—”
“I don't know, Daphne; there's some truth in what he said. He said
that nations needed great thoughts as well as they needed great
inventions—them's his words not mine—and often rich men subsidized a
poor inventor or a poor scientist so's they could have time to make
their inventions and not have to worry over their daily bread; so why
shouldn't it be done for the poets who would then have time to give
great thoughts to the people, thoughts that would inspire them to noble
deeds and works. There's a lot of sense in what he says.”
“But you would never think of doing such a thing—”
“No, of course not; but I like to hear about it. And I been a
studyin' a lot about that young man,—I am sure he was young or he
wouldn't have had the courage to write me; it's only the young who have
the courage to try.”
“I call it nerve,” said Daphne scornfully; “plain nerve.”
“Yes, perhaps it is. But I was thinkin' about this young man who has
got a feelin' inside of him that he could say somethin' that would make
the world better, and he tries, then he's got to go to an office or
somewhere and perhaps count rolls of cloth, or he may be a newspaper
man who has to write stories of murders and divorces and— and—things
like that, when beautiful things is just a chokin' him.”
She was silent for a moment.
“It's an awful thing to be poor, Daphne—real poor. Yet—” she said
musingly, “even when you're real poor you can always find somethin' to
give. Like Mis' Sweet. Did I ever tell you about Mis' Sweet? She lived
in our village and she was mortal poor all her life. When her husband
lived he didn't do no more work than he had to and she had to git along
as best she could, and then when he died she lived with her son, who
was so mean and stingy that he made her go to bed at dark so's she
wouldn't burn kerosene. She was so poor that she never had cookies or
cakes to send her neighbors, and it kind o' cut her, because in the
country we was always sendin' some little thing we'd been bakin' to
each other, because that's about the only kind of presents country
women can make to each other, somethin' they make themselves.
“So Mis' Sweet felt kind o' bad that she couldn't make no return.
But, as I says, one ain't never too poor but that they kin give
something. Now Mis' Sweet and nothin' pretty in her house, and never
saw much that was beautiful, but she had beautiful thoughts inside, and
she loved the flowers and things that grew around her.
“Mis' Sweet made paper flowers trying to say the beautiful things
she felt inside, jest like that poet. She couldn't buy none of the
pretty crinkled papers that we see nowadays; she never saw none of
those; but she saved all the little pieces of tissue paper, and any
scrap of silk, and the neighbors saved 'em for her too, and they saved
their broom wire; and no one ever thought of throwin' away an old green
window shade—it was sent to Mis' Sweet for her leaves. She twisted the
broom wires with any piece of green paper that she could git hold of,
and she cut the papers into flowers, the white ones into daisies and
the little pieces of silk was colored with dyes that the neighbors give
her that they had left over, and she made roses and apple blossoms and
begonias and geraniums, and all the flowers that she knowed. If some
were peculiar and didn't look like much o' anything she called them
jest wild flowers. She made them all into bouquets. And there wasn't a
new baby born in the village but that the mother found by her bedside a
bouquet of Mis' Sweet's, and no bride went to the altar but she had a
little piece o' orange blossom on her that had been lovingly pinned on
by Mis' Sweet, and before the lid was closed over our dead—they had
slipped in their fingers a little flower from their old neighbor. And
do you think that we laughed at her stiff little bouquets? No! We all
loved 'em and we understood, 'cause with each leaf made out of our old
window shades and from each wire from our wore out brooms, there was a
little love mixed in with the coverin'.”
She was silent for a few moments; then she added:
“And I think that this young poet will find a way to give something
to the world, if he really loves it and wants to give, same as Mis'
They were returning home along the drive.
“We haven't made half the calls that we should,” Daphne said. “We
must go another day.”
Drusilla shook her head decisively.
“No; I won't make no more calls.”
“Oh, but, Miss Doane, you must. You must return your calls.”
“Oh, but I mustn't, and I won't,” said Drusilla, shaking her head
obstinately. “I most froze at some of them places, and I won't risk it
again. I won't make calls. They can come to me, Miss Thornton, but I
won't go back.”
“But they won't come to see you if you don't return the calls.”
“Well, they can stay at home then—it ain't much loss on either
“But what will you do?”
“I'll send William to know when they are out, and he can leave my
cards jest as well as I can. I won't go into them rooms and drink tea
out of my lap and eat with my gloves on, and talk about things I don't
know nothin' about and don't care even if I did. I'm too old to begin
“But what will I tell them when they ask why you don't return their
“You can tell them anything you want to. I won't go.”
Daphne said mischievously: “I'll say you are a very old lady,
and feeble, and cannot take the exertion of making calls.”
Drusilla sat up very straight and a slight flush appeared on her
“You'll say no such thing, Daphne Thornton. You say the
truth, that I don't see no sense in it. Old indeed! I'm not so old; and
as to being feeble—”
Daphne snuggled her face against the arm near her.
“Oh, you are a dear, Miss Doane. I love to see you get angry. But
you say you are old!”
“That's different. I say it with my own meanin', and generally to
pet out of doin' somethin' I don't want to do. But I'm growin' younger
each minute. Perhaps”—she chuckled softly to herself—“it's my second
They came to the door, and it was opened by James—stiff, correct,
“No,” almost groaned Drusilla; “there's James. Now I know I'm dead
and only waitin' for the buryin'.”
Drusilla grew more and more to feel that she was a part of her
little world, where everything revolved around her and her wishes were
law. It was only natural that she gained confidence in herself. She
lost her awe of the servants, and even found courage to speak shortly
to James, who, she learned from Jeanne, was relegating most of his
duties to William, thinking Miss Doane would not know the difference.
But after the excitement of the first few weeks was past she found
the time heavy on her hands. She had no duties, she did not read, there
was no sewing nor mending for her, and she could not always work in the
conservatories among the flowers; consequently she began to long for
something with which to occupy her thoughts and, above all, her hands.
One morning when she was wandering aimlessly around the house she
went into the pastry room. There she looked in delight at all the
shining pans and the bowls arranged in graduated sizes on their
“My, ain't it nice, and everything so handy!”
She looked around for a minute; then a thought began to take shape
in Drusilla's mind. She looked at the chef thoughtfully; then,
evidently deciding, she gave her head a little toss and with a light
laugh left the room, soon to return with a big gingham apron covering
her pretty dress. The chef looked at her inquiringly.
“Cook,” Drusilla said, “I'm hungry for some home cookin' and I want
to do it myself. I ain't cooked none fer a good many years, and my
fingers is jest itchin' to git into the flour. Where's your flour and
things to make cake?”
The chef was shocked.
“Yes, Madame may, and she's goin' to; so show me where the things
is.” She rolled up her sleeves. “Now you git me that big yellow bowl,
and give me the lard. I'm goin' to make doughnuts—fried cakes I used
to call 'em, tho' it's more stylish to say doughnuts these days. I
don't like them that's bought in the store with sugar sprinkled on top;
sugar don't belong on fried cakes. It takes away their crispiness and
you might jest as well be eatin' cake.”
Drusilla kept the chef busy waiting on her until she had all the
articles needed. Then she turned upon him.
“Now, you go away. Go up to your room, or down to James. I don't
want you standin' round lookin' as if you was goin' to bust every
minute. You got to git used to this. I'm goin' to have a bakin' day
once a week, same as I did for forty year.”
Drusilla spent a happy morning. The “fried cakes” finished, she
decided to make some cookies—the “old-fashioned kind that my mother's
sister Jane give me the receipt of; I kind o' want to see if I have
lost my hand.”
But the hand had not lost its cunning if the great dish of brown,
crisp doughnuts, and the cookies and the gingerbread were a test. After
they were baked and in a row on the table, she stepped back and
surveyed her handiwork, with a proud expression on her kindly old face.
“Now if I only had some one to come in and say, 'Drusilla, is them
fresh fried cakes?' and I'd laugh and say, 'Yes; do try 'em,' and
they'd eat three or four. Or if I only had some neighbors—”
Drusilla stopped suddenly.
“Now, why shouldn't I! I've got neighbors that's all been
tryin' to be neighborly to me in their way; why shouldn't I be
neighborly in my way? I can't be neighborly jest leavin' a card,
or drinkin' tea with my gloves on—Yes, I will! Drusilla'll be
neighborly in Drusilla's way.”
She was as delighted as a child at the thought. She hurried into the
pantry and returned with some plates and napkins. She piled a few of
her confections upon each plate, carefully covered it with a napkin,
then called William.
“William,” she said, “you take that plate o' cookies over to Mis'
Gale's, and tell her that I sent 'em, bein' it was my bakin' day. See
she gets 'em and they don't stop in the kitchen. And take that plate o'
gingerbread to Mis' Cairns; and them fried cakes to Mis' Freeman; and
tell 'em all I sent 'em with my love. Tell 'em I made 'em myself.”
William looked at her but did not move.
“What you lookin' at me fer? Take 'em as I said. Put 'em in a basket
if you can't carry 'em, or have one of the girls help you.”
“But, ma'am, but—”
“But what? Ain't you never took cookies to one before?”
“Why—why—no, ma'am. Never in the houses where I've served—”
“Now that'll do, William. Don't begin that. That's what James always
says when he specially wants to be disagreeable. If you haven't ever
took a neighbor a plate o' cookies or some gingerbread, right hot out
of the oven, you've missed a lot. So do as I say!”
“But—ma'am—I'm sure they have all the cakes they need. Mr. Cairns
is a—very—very rich man, and they have a cook, a French cook. Why, he
has an income of more than a million dollars a year, and—and—”
Drusilla looked at him over her glasses.
“Land o' Goshen, has he? That's a heap o' money; but I'm sure that
if he has a French cook like mine, he'll be mighty glad to have an
old-fashioned fried cake; so take that plate to him too, and I'll fix
another for Mis' Freeman. He ain't never sence he was a boy set his
teeth in better fried cakes. Perhaps the cookies won't be so much to
his taste; but you tell 'em they're nice fer the children to slip in
their apron pockets to eat at recess.”
William executed his errand, although with a feeling that the
dignity of the place was not being upheld. There was a luncheon party
at the Cairns mansion, and when the butler brought in the plate of
cookies and the doughnuts and delivered the message, trying his best
not to smile, Mrs. Cairns looked at them in dismay.
“What did you say, John?”
“Miss Doane sent them to you with her love. She said that it was her
baking day, and that she had made them herself. The cookies are for the
children to slip in their apron pockets and eat at recess,” recited the
butler with an immobile face.
Mrs. Cairns raised the napkins and surveyed the cakes; then she
looked at her husband and her guests. They laughed; that is, the guests
did, but not Mr. Cairns.
“Take them to the kitchen, John,” Mrs. Cairns ordered. “The servants
may have them.”
“No; bring them here, John,” Mr. Cairns said sharply. “You may go
and say that Mrs. Cairns thanks Miss Doane very much for her
thoughtfulness in remembering her on her baking day, and that she is
sure she will enjoy the doughnuts—and the cookies will be given to the
The servant left the room, and Mr. Cairns sat very quietly looking
at the plates before him. He took up one of the doughnuts, studied it,
then finally took a bite of it.
“Hot,” he said, “and crispy.”
He was quiet a moment, with a far away look in his eye; then, as if
noticing the silence of his guests, he said with a quiet laugh:
“It takes me back—back—. Bless her old soul! I understand. And it
takes me back—and—well, I'm a boy again and I can see Mother standing
over the stove, and I can smell the hot cakes when I come in from
school, and hear her say, 'Jimmie, take your hands out of that crock!
No, you can't have but one. Well, two, but no more. Now take that plate
over to Mis' Fisher and that one to Miss Corbin—'“
He was quiet again for a few moments; then, as if coming back to the
world beside him, he said in his usual even tones:
“Shall we go into the library?”
And the guests did not laugh again.
Drusilla was neighborly in other ways besides that of sending cakes
and cookies on her baking day. One day she heard that Mrs. Beaumont,
who lived in the first house below her, was ill. “She has a bad cold,”
Miss Lee told her, “and they are afraid it might develop into
pneumonia. But, between you and me, she's just bored to death and
doesn't have enough to interest her.”
As soon as her visitor left, Drusilla went upstairs, and came down
with a little package in her hand and an old-fashioned sunbonnet on her
head. She went out of the gate and down the road until she came to the
great gates that guarded the home of the multi-millionaire who lived
She was told at the door that Mrs. Beaumont was not receiving, but
she told the man to tell his mistress that she had something special
for her and would not detain her but a moment. The man rather
unwillingly took her message, and returning in a few moments conducted
Drusilla into a luxurious bedroom, where a very beautiful woman was
lying upon a chaise lounge, dressed in an elaborate peignoir, her hair
covered by a marvelous creation that went by the name of boudoir cap.
She languidly gave her hand to Drusilla.
“You want to see me?” she murmured in a low, languid voice. “Won't
you please sit down? And excuse my appearance. I am not receiving—
but—but—I thought I would see you.”
Drusilla sat down.
“Now that's real nice of you to see me. I heard you was sick—had a
bad cold; and I thought I'd come in and see if I couldn't help you. I
brung some boneset. I nursed a lot when I was younger, and I found that
boneset is the best thing in the world fer a cold. Jest make a tea of
it and drink it hot. It's kind of bitter, but you can put milk and
sugar in it if you want to—though, to my notion, that makes it worse.
Then git right into bed and cover up and sweat. It's the best thing in
the world fer a cold—jest sweat it out of you. If you should put a hot
brick or a hot flatiron at your back and another at your feet, it'd
help. By to-morrow you won't know you got a cold.”
The woman's face was a study; but the doctor entered at that moment
and saved her. She said:
“Dr. Hodman, this is Miss Doane, my nearest neighbor.”
Drusilla shook his hand heartily.
“I'm real glad to see you. I've brung Mis' Beaumont some herbs. A
little boneset. I told her to make a good strong cup o' tea of it, and
drink it hot, then git into bed and cover up warm, and sweat, and by
to-morrow she wouldn't know she had a cold.”
The doctor looked from Drusilla to Mrs. Beaumont, hardly knowing
what to say. This little old lady, with her sunbonnet and her boneset
tea, was not the usual visitor he encountered in the homes of his
“Yes,” said Mrs. Beaumont, “and—and—Miss Doane was telling me that
a hot brick—what was it you said, Miss Doane?”
“I was a tellin' her that a hot brick or a flatiron at her feet and
another at the small of her back would help. It ain't comfortable jest
at first, but she can have the hired girl wrap it in a piece o flannel,
and after a while it feels real comfortin'. But I must be goin'. I see
you're a lookin' at my bunnet, Mis' Beaumont. It don't look much like
what you got on your head, but I work a lot in the garden, and if I
don't have somethin' on my head my hair gets all frouzy. A hat don't
seem to be the right thing to work in the garden with, and if I do wear
one the sun burns the back of my neck when I stoop down; so I got me a
bunnet, like I used to wear, and it makes me feel real to home.
Good-by, good-by, doctor.”
She turned to Mrs. Beaumont:
“Now, if the boneset tea don't do you no good, let me know. Perhaps
your liver is teched a little and it makes you feel bad all over. I got
some camomile leaves that's real good fer that. If you want any, I'll
be real glad to bring 'em over.”
She was gone.
The doctor looked at his patient and the patient looked at the
doctor. Then Mrs. Beaumont put back her head and burst into a gale of
laughter, in which the dignified doctor soon joined. They laughed and
laughed, the woman wiping her tear-filled eyes. Finally, when she could
stop long enough to talk, she said:
“Did you ever hear of anything so funny in all your life—a hot
brick—or a hot flatiron”—a peal of laugher—“at my feet—another one
at the small of my back—Oh, I shall die, I shall surely die!” And she
went off into another paroxysm of laughter.
When the laughter ceased and the doctor returned to his professional
manner, asking her how she felt and starting to feel her pulse, she
“Doctor, she's cured me. I haven't had a laugh like that for years.
It's better than all your medicine. Boneset tea—” and again she was
Finally, when she had quieted, the doctor said:
“I don't know but that her boneset tea is as good as anything else.
All you need is a little quiet. You seem better than you were
“I tell you that I am well! All my system needed was a little
shaking up, and Miss Doane has done it for me.”
The doctor rose to go.
“I think that I shall take Miss Doane as a partner. Her herbs or her
prescriptions seem to have a better effect than my medicines. Shall I
“Yes; this may not last. Come to-morrow if you are near, though I am
sure I won't need you.”
As the doctor's hand was on the door he turned:
“If I were you, Mrs. Beaumont, I'd send for those camomile leaves.”
But with all her little acts of neighborliness, and her “baking day"
and her attempts to find duties to fill the hours, time began to hang
heavily upon the hands of active Drusilla. If she had been of a higher
station in life she would have said that she was bored or was suffering
from that general complaint of the rich—“enuyee.”
Here Providence stepped in. One morning when she was dressing she
heard a peculiar little wailing cry. She listened. The cry was
repeated. She listened again, but could not locate the sound. Then,
thinking she might be mistaken, she continued with her dressing; but
again that piercing wail was borne to her ears. She opened her window
and then she heard it distinctly—a baby's cry. She listened in
amazement. There was no baby on the place except the gardener's, and
his cottage was too far from the big house to have his children's wails
heard in that place given over to aristocratic quiet. Drusilla tried to
see around the comer of the house, but she could not; so she rang for
“Jane, I heard a baby cry. Go and find out where it is,” she said.
Jeanne was gone a long time, it seemed to Drusilla; and then she
returned, with big frightened eyes, followed by the butler carrying a
large basket. He stopped at the door.
“Come in, James. What you standing there for? What you got?”
Just then the wailing cry came from the basket, and Drusilla dropped
the brush in her hand.
“For the land's sake, what's in the basket? Come here!”
James gingerly deposited the basket upon a chair.
“It's a baby, ma'am—a live baby.”
“Well, upon my soul! Of course it is! You wouldn't expect it to not
be alive. Let's see it.”
She went over to the basket and looked down at the lively little
bundle that seemed to be protesting in its feeble way against the
injustice of the world in leaving it at a chance doorstep. Drusilla
looked at it admiringly.
“Why, ain't it cunning, the pore little thing! It's done up warm.
How'd it get here?”
“I don't know, ma'am. It must 'a' been left early this morning after
the gates was opened. I'll ask the gardeners if they saw any one come
“Never mind now, James. Here's a letter. It'll tell us all about it.
Where are my glasses, Jane?”
Drusilla put on her glasses and read the inscription on the letter.
“Miss Drusilla Doane. Well, they know my name.”
She tore open the envelope and read aloud:
“I read in the paper that you have no one and are alone and rich. My
baby has no one but me, and I can't get work. Won't you take him? His
name is John—that's all.”
Drusilla pushed the glasses up on her forehead and used a slang
expression that almost drew a smile from solemn James.
“Now what do you know about that!”
She looked at James as if he should have an answer, and he said:
“I'm sure, Miss Doane, I don't know anything about it at all.”
Drusilla looked down at the baby in the basket, and again at the
letter, not knowing what to do; but, the little wail again rising, she
reached down to take the baby into her arms, and found it securely
pinned into the basket.
“Poor little mother!” she said. “She didn't want you to get cold.”
As she took out the safety-pins and lifted the baby into her arms,
she dislodged a bottle of milk.
“Why, she thought of everything! She must 'a' loved you, little
John, even though she left you on my doorstep.”
The baby, a healthy little youngster about eight months old, blinked
up at Drusilla in a friendly manner, then clutched her hair. Drusilla
laughed, as she drew her head away.
“That's the first thing all babies make for, my hair. Bless his
little heart, he's gettin' familiar already.”
“What'll I do with it, Miss Doane?”
Drusilla looked up from the baby.
“Do with what? The basket? Take it away.”
“No, ma'am; I meant it”—pointing to the baby.
“James, it is not an it. It's a he. But you're right,
James; what'll we do with it?” And she looked down at the little body
in her arms.
“Why—why—” stammered James, who plainly showed that disposing of
babies left by chance at doorsteps was entirely out of the usual line
of a well trained butler's duties, “I don't know, ma'am. It never
happened before where I've served.” Here he had an inspiration and his
face cleared. “Perhaps we'd better send for Mr. Thornton.”
Drusilla looked up at him in a relieved way.
“That's the first glimmer of sense you've ever showed, James; though
what he knows about babies I don't see. I'm sure he never was one
himself. Now I'll set down—this baby's heavy—and you go and
“What'll I tell him, ma'am?”
“Tell him? Why, tell him we've got a baby unexpected and we don't
know what to do with it.”
James almost smiled again.
“I'll break the news to him careful, ma'am,” he said.
When he was gone Drusilla scrutinized the baby's hood and coat.
“Jane,” she said, “his clothes is pretty—-his mother must 'a' made
'em; and his socks is knit, not bought ones.”
She examined each article of his clothing as carefully as would a
mother inspecting her firstborn's wardrobe.
“He's dressed real nice.... Did you get him?” as James entered the
room. “What did he say?”
“I did not speak to him, Miss Doane, but to Miss Daphne. She acted
rather—well—rather excited, and said she would be over immediately
with her father.”
“We'll wait in patience, I suppose. I'll lay this young man down. My
arms must be a gettin' old because I feel him.”
She laid the baby on the couch and he protested with legs and arms
and voice against being again laid upon his back. Drusilla took him up
and he was happy again.
“Well,” laughed Drusilla, “I guess I've found somethin' to do with
The baby stared at Drusilla for a few moments; then his wails
commenced again. Drusilla trotted him, but that did not stop his cries.
“Perhaps he is hungry, Miss Doane,” Jeanne suggested.
“Give me that bottle.”
Drusilla felt the bottle and found it cold.
“It's cold, James. Go warm some milk and scald the bottle.”
James went away, his head held high, disapproval expressed in every
line of his back. Within a few moments a motor was heard at the door
and Daphne's young voice was calling:
“Can we come in, Miss Doane? Where is the baby?”
Daphne entered, interested and excited, followed by her father,
stiff, erect, the correct lawyer troubled by unnecessary and petty
affairs of the women world.
Daphne came to the baby, who stopped his wails long enough to stare
at the new visitor with round, wondering eyes.
“Oh, isn't he a dear! How did you find him?”
Drusilla handed her the letter. “Read that, and then you'll know as
much as me.”
Daphne read the note out loud.
“Isn't it romantic, Father!” she exclaimed. “Just like you read
about in books. Oh, look at James with the bottle!”
James looked neither to the right nor to the left but handed the
bottle to Drusilla. She felt it to test its warmth and gave it to the
squirming baby, who settled down into the hollow of her arm with a
little gurgle of content. The four stood around the baby and watched it
for a few moments in silence. Soon its lids began to droop and it was
off to slumberland.
“What are you going to do with it, Miss Doane?” whispered Daphne.
“I'm sure I don't know. That's why I sent for your father.”
“It's clearly a case for the police,” Mr. Thornton said dryly. “I
will telephone them.”
Drusilla looked at him inquiringly.
“What did you say? Telephone the police? Why?”
“I will ask them to call and take the child in charge.”
“Why, what's the baby done?”
“Nothing, of course; but they will understand how to dispose of it.”
“What'll they do with it?”
“They will get into connection with the proper authorities, and if
the mother cannot be found, they will have the child committed to some
“Some institution. What kind of an institution?”
“An orphan asylum—a home for waifs of this kind.”
Drusilla caught the word “home” and she sat up so suddenly that the
bottle fell to the floor and the blue eyes opened and looked into
Drusilla's face appealingly and the little wail arose again. Drusilla
bent over and picked up the bottle, and when she arose her eyes were
hard and two bright spots colored her wrinkled cheeks.
“You said 'home.' What do you mean? I don't like the word.”
Mr. Thornton was plainly irritated.
“A home for foundlings, where the proper care will be given it.”
“Yes, but how?” queried Drusilla. “What kind of care?”
Daphne interrupted her father, who was plainly trying to find words
to explain the exact meaning of an orphan asylum.
“Oh, Father, that's horrid. It'll be put in with hundreds of other
babies, all dressed alike, and all brought up on rules and bells and
“I know now what your father means—an orphan asylum. Just the same
thing as an old ladies' home, only backwards. No, I lived in one o'
them and I know what it is and,” she settled back in her chair, “my
baby ain't goin' there.”
“But,” objected Mr. Thornton, looking helplessly at the obstinate
face before him, “that is the only possible way to dispose of him.”
“But think of his poor mother, how she'd feel if she read in the
paper that he'd been put in a home. She could 'a' done that herself.”
“She should have thought of that before leaving him,” Mr. Thornton
said dryly. “She should not have deserted the child, and does not
deserve any consideration.”
“Well, we all do things we oughtn't to do. Even you do, 'cause I can
see, lookin' closely at you, that you oughtn't to drink so much coffee,
but you do; and the mother hadn't ought to have had the
baby in the first place, which she did, and she oughtn't 'a' left it on
my stoop, but it's done. Now can't you think of something else to do
with it except send it to a home? Ugh, that word makes a pizen in my
Mr. Thornton clearly was exasperated that his very sensible advice
was not acted upon immediately.
“I have told you the only thing to do, and we are wasting time. I
must go into the city. James, telephone the police.”
Drusilla sat up very erect.
“James, you'll do nothing of the kind! I've decided. I'll
take the baby.”
“What!” said Mr. Thornton, his exasperated look changing to
one of consternation. “What!” said Daphne in delight. “Quoi!”
said Jeanne. James did not speak, but he stopped on his way to the
telephone and expressed his astonishment as well as a well trained
servant may express astonishment at the actions of an employer.
Drusilla settled back in the chair and rocked back and forth with
the sleeping baby in her arms, showing that she was enjoying the little
explosive she had dropped in the midst of her family circle. There was
silence for a few moments; then Mr. Thornton cleared his throat.
“I really don't believe I understood you, Miss Doane,” he said.
Drusilla looked up at him with a twinkle in her eyes.
“I said in plain English that I'd take the baby.”
Mr. Thornton looked at her, evidently at a loss for words to express
his disapproval. Drusilla watched him, waiting for him to speak; and
then, finding that he was silent, she said.
“Now you take that chair, and set down in front of me. Jane, go
away. James, go downstairs. Now, Mr. Thornton, fix yourself real
comfortable and we'll talk.”
“But Miss Doane—”
“Now don't but me, Mr. Thornton, 'cause I'm goin' to talk. I ain't used my voice much sence I been here, and it's gettin' tired
o' doin' nothin', jest like I am. Now I've done everything you told me
to. I've made visits I didn't like, I've talked with women who come
here who didn't like me, and I've tried hard to live up to this house
and be a lady and do nothin', and have nothin' to look after and no one
to do for and worry about, and nothin' to think of; and I'm tired of
it. I've done somethin' all my life, and took care of some one. I
nussed my mother for most forty years, then I took care of the sick in
all our county, and I looked after the old ladies in the home who
wasn't able to look after themselves and now I can't jest set.
I'm too old to learn new ways, and I got to have something or some one
to do for, and the good Lord knowed I was gettin' restless and sent
this here baby. Now—no, wait a minute—I ain't through yet,” as Mr.
Thornton tried to interrupt her. “I'm goin' to have my say, then your
turn'll come, though it won't do you much good, as my mind is made up,
and when a woman's mind is made up it's jest as foolish to try to
change it as it is to try to set a hen before she begins to cluck.”
She stopped a moment and looked down at the sleeping baby in her
“I ain't a-thinkin' of myself alone and jest how good it'll be for
me, but I'm a-thinkin' of the baby and I want to give him a chance like
“But,” said Mr. Thornton, “it's quite impossible! A home for such as
he is the proper place for him.”
“Don't say that word home to me. Mr. Thornton, I hate the
word. I've et charity bread and it's bitter, and charity milk'd be the
Mr. Thornton threw out his hands with an exasperated gesture.
“But it is impossible, I tell you, quite impossible!”
“Why impossible?” asked Drusilla. “Why, ain't the house big enough?”
“But my late client, Mr. Elias Doane—”
“Have you forgot the letter he wrote me: 'Spend the money your own
“But he certainly did not mean—”
“How do you know what he meant? He said spend it, and I ain't spent
nothin' yet except on some foolish clothes. First thing I know I might
die, then it wouldn't be spent, and I know I'd pass my days worryin'
St. Peter to find out what had become of it.”
Mr. Thornton threw up his hands again.
“Well, I don't know what to say more than I have said,” he declared.
“Have you decided on its disposition?”
Drusilla, seeing that the lawyer was surrendering, said quite
“I ain't figured out what is to be done jest now—”
Here Daphne came to her rescue.
“Why don't you give him to the gardener's wife until you find out
what to do?”
Drusilla reached over and patted Daphne's hand.
“Daphne, there's some sense under them curls. Your father ought to
take you in business with him. That's what we'll do. She has four
already, but there's always room in a house where there's babies for
one more. Send for her.”
“Should it not be medically examined before being placed with other
children?” Mr. Thornton suggested.
“Medically examined, stuff and nonsense! Why?”
“A child left in the manner in which this infant was left may come
from extremely unsanitary surroundings, and may carry disease with it.
It is more than probable.”
“Disease nothin'!” said Drusilla, looking down at the baby. “I never
saw a healthier child.”
At the word medical Daphne rose and went to a part of the room where
she could be seen by Drusilla and not by her father, and when Drusilla
looked up from inspecting the baby she caught sight of Daphne, who
seemed to be staring at her fixedly with a meaning in her eye.
Mr. Thornton, still intent upon the one subject where he saw a
chance of having his advice acted upon, and consequently of retaining
at least a semblance of authority, said: “I think a doctor should be
sent for and the child medically examined.”
Drusilla commenced: “It's nonsense. There ain't—” but here she
again caught Daphne's eye and saw a slight movement of the head which
seemed to mean, “Say yes.” Drusilla looked at her a moment
uncomprehendingly; then, the nod being repeated more vigorously, she
“Well—well—yes, if you believe it should be done, though for the
life of me I don't see no sense in it. Who'll I send for?”
“I would suggest Dr. Rathman. He is—”
“Oh, Father!” interrupted Daphne. “He is so old and slow. He'd
never get here. Why don't you ask Dr. Eaton? He lives near here.”
Mr. Thornton pursed up his lips.
“He is far too young. He has not the experience of Dr. Rathman.”
“But, Father, the baby isn't dying.”
Drusilla's shrewd old eyes looked keenly at Daphne's flushed face,
and she laughed.
“I think Daphne is right. A young doctor's better. I don't think old
doctors have a hand with babies.”
“But Dr. Eaton is very young,” remonstrated Mr. Thornton.
“The younger the better, then perhaps he ain't forgot how the
stomach-ache feels himself. You telephone him, Daphne.”
“No,” said Daphne, a little embarrassed. “I think James had better
do that. Oh, here's Mrs. Donald.”
The baby was given into the motherly arms of Mrs. Donald; and Mr.
Thornton drew on his gloves and said very coldly, feeling that he had
lost ground on every point, “Come, Daphne; we will go. When you have
decided upon the final disposition of the child, you may, as always,
command my services, Miss Doane. Come, Daphne.”
“But, Father, I'll stay a while with Miss Doane.”
“No, Daphne; you will go with me. Your mother needs you.”
Daphne cast an imploring glance at Drusilla.
“Can't Daphne stay a while? I'd like to talk with her,” Drusilla
“No,” said her father, with a finality in his tone that caused
Daphne to go with him meekly, if unwillingly; “Daphne must return with
Drusilla looked at the set face a moment, and then at the rebellious
face of Daphne, and her own face broke into the tiny wrinkles that
accompanied her smiles.
“Oh, I see! Well, never mind, child. There are lots of other days
and this baby may need the services of a doctor often.” And she
accompanied them to the hall with a little light of understanding in
her eyes as she watched Daphne's pouting face disappear in the motor.
The young doctor came. He was a tall, broad-shouldered young
athlete, not yet thirty, and his merry blue eyes and his cheery voice
won Drusilla at once. They went to the gardener's cottage and inspected
the baby. The doctor patted it and tickled it and tossed it in his arms
until it was all gurgles of delight.
“He's as sound as a dollar, Miss Doane,” he said. “Couldn't be in
better condition. He could run a Marathon this minute if his legs were
Drusilla watched the proceedings with twinkling eyes.
“Well, that's a new way to medically examine an ailin' child,” she
commented; “but it seems to work.”
“Ailing! He isn't ailing, Miss Doane. If he keeps this fit Mrs.
Donald won't have to send for me often.”
“That's what I told Mr. Thornton; but he said I must have you.”
Dr. Eaton stopped tossing the baby and looked at Miss Doane in
“Are you telling me that Mr. Thornton asked you to send for me?”
“Well,” and Drusilla laughed, “he didn't exactly mention your name,
but he said I should have a doctor for the baby.”
“I thought Mr. Thornton wasn't recommending me. Didn't he mention
“Perhaps he did, but Miss Daphne seemed to feel that he was too old
to answer a hurry call like this, so we sort of compromised, at least
Daphne and me did, on you.”
There was a slight flush on the young man's face that did not miss
the keen eyes of Drusilla.
“Oh,” he said, “I see.” And then, in an attempt to change the
subject: “Is this a new baby of Donald's? I haven't seen him around
“No,” said Drusilla; “this is my baby.”
Dr. Eaton looked at her, and then laughed with her.
“Now what should I say, Miss Doane—many happy returns of the day,
“You jest say, Dr. Eaton, 'This is a fine baby.' But come up
to the house and have breakfast with me. I clean forgot it. And we'll
talk it all over.”
They went slowly up the graveled walk to the breakfast-room, and
over the coffee and the cakes Drusilla explained the unexpected arrival
of the baby.
“Now you know as much about it as I do,” she ended; “and I suppose
you'll say with Mr. Thornton that I'm a foolish old woman to say I'll
take it. But it won't do you no good. I'm goin' to have my way, and
I've found out in the last few weeks that I can get it, and I'm afraid
it's spoilin' me. I'm goin' to keep the baby.”
The doctor leaned back in his chair. “May I light a cigarette?
Thanks. That breakfast was corking. Now, about the baby. I think you
are right. Why shouldn't you keep the baby?”
“That's what I said—why shouldn't I?”
“No reason in the world why you shouldn't.”
“I like you, Dr. Eaton. I like you more and more; and I see you
understand how I feel. Here I am, an old woman all alone in this big
house, with nothin' to do, and a lot of pesky servants that stand
around and don't earn their salt, jest a-waitin' on me. I've always
wanted babies, but never had a chance to have 'em, and I've jest spent
my heart lovin' other people's, and seein' 'em in other people's arms
and mine empty. Now I git a chance to have a baby most my own and I
ain't goin' to lose it.”
The doctor looked at her face for a few moments in silence, and
beneath the lines he saw the loneliness of the heart-hungry little old
woman and he understood.
“You are perfectly right, Miss Doane. There's nothing like a baby in
all the world. It'll give you something to do and think about and it'll
bring sunshine into the house. I envy you. Every time I go down to the
'home' where I look after the health of some kiddies, I wish I could
bundle every one of them up and take them to a real home with me.”
“That's what Mr. Thornton wanted me to do with it—put it in a home.
I've lived in a home, Dr. Eaton, and though I wasn't treated bad and
had all the comforts of four walls and enough to eat, such as it was,
it ain't a place to die in, and it sure ain't a place to grow up in.”
“You're right again, Miss Doane. The kiddies up at our place get a
bed and clothes and plenty of food; but there's something they don't
get and that something is going to count in their life. They grow up
without love, and are turned out on the world just little machines that
have been taught that the world goes round at the tap of a bell.
They've missed something that they can never get, and if they win out
in life it's because they've got something pretty big inside of them
which they've had to fight for all by themselves. And any fight is hard
when it is made alone without a little tenderness to help over the hard
places. Why, when I see the girls all in checked aprons, hair braided
in two braids tied with a blue cord, all the boys in blue with hats
just exactly alike with blue bands on them—all going to dinner at a
regular time—all eating oatmeal out of a blue bowl, all just part of a
thing that turns babies into a lot of little jelly-molds like a hundred
other little jelly-molds—well, Miss Doane, it hurts something way deep
inside of me. Keep the baby, Miss Doane, for your own sake and for the
“I'm glad you see it my way. I'd made up my mind already, but you
make it easier for me. I wonder that I'll do with it at first?”
“Why don't you let the gardener's wife keep it until you can find
out what you really want to do. You can pay her and she'll be glad to
earn the extra money. It won't cost much.”
“I ain't thinkin' about the cost. I'm jest glad to get a chance to
spend some money. Mr. Thornton come to me the other day and talked most
an hour about the investment of my income, and when I got it through my
head what he meant, I learnt that he has to hunt up ways to put out the
money that's comin' to me all the time, so's it'll make more money. Now
I don't want to invest my income, or save it. I want to spend it, and I
don't see no better way than taking babies.”
She laughed softly.
“I wouldn't mind a few more, Dr. Eaton, jest to keep that one
company. But I guess I'll git along. Most people commence with one at a
“Do you want more babies, Miss Doane?” asked Dr. Eaton, leaning
forward interestedly. “I can get you as many as you want. I run across
them every day—babies that lose their mothers in the hospitals, babies
that are deserted. Why, babies that need homes are as thick as fleas,
in New York.”
Drusilla put up her hand.
“Now, I don't mean I want 'em all at once, Dr. Eaton. We won't be
what you might call impulsive, 'cause if there's as many as you say,
they can wait until I know about 'em. I'd rather like to pick and
choose my family. Now I'll go upstairs and think a little about this
one, and what we're goin' to do with him. It's all been rather sudden,
you know, and I ain't used to so much excitement—though I think it is
good fer me. I think it's going to keep me from dyin' of dry rot, which
I've always been afeard of. I want to wear out, not rust out,
like so many old women do.”
Dr. Eaton rose to go and Miss Drusilla looked up at him as he stood
straight and strong before her. She smiled, with the merry little
wrinkles playing around the corners of her mouth.
“I believe I'm rather ailin' myself, and will need to have a family
doctor. You might look in every once in a while and see if my health is
The doctor laughed as he said: “Well, I hope you won't ever need me
professionally, but I'd like nothing better than to drop in and have a
chat with you. Think over the baby question, Miss Doane. You'll find it
the greatest question in the world to keep you up and coming. Good-by.
Thank you for sending for me. Good-by.”
Drusilla watched him as he swung with his long stride down the drive
and out of the gate, and then she chuckled to herself.
“I can see now why Daphne is interested in the medical profession. I
don't blame her; if I was fifty years younger, I'd be myself.”
One morning when Drusilla was sitting in the small library reading
the morning paper her eyes caught the words: “Funeral of General
Fairmont.” She read of his death in the little town in the Middle West,
attended by a few of the officers of his regiment and his lifelong
friend, John Brierly.
Drusilla dropped the paper with an exclamation.
“John! And he's alive!”
She spent the next few hours with folded hands, her mind far in the
past that was recalled by seeing the name of John Brierly. She lived
over again those girlhood years when the world with John in it seemed
the most beautiful place on earth. She thought of her mother's failing
health, her helplessness, her dependence. She could almost hear her
cry, “Don't leave me, Drusilla, don't leave me!” when John went to her
and asked that they might marry and meet life's battles together.
Drusilla never for a moment blamed her mother for her selfishness in
demanding all and giving nothing; and she never would admit, even to
herself, that her mother's obstinacy in refusing either to go with John
and Drusilla or to give her consent that they live with her, had ruined
her life. Those years of bitterness were past, and now she remembered
only the happy days when she and John were together and life seemed
just one flowery path on which they walked together.
At last she rose and rang for the butler and asked him to telephone
Mr. Thornton. She could never get used to the telephone herself. She
wanted Mr. Thornton to come to her on his way home.
She passed the day impatiently awaiting his arrival. She could not
occupy herself with the flowers, nor could the baby at the gardener's
cottage evoke any enthusiasm, although she carefully looked over the
clothing of one of the younger Donalds that kindly Mrs. Donald had
contributed for the baby's use.
At last the lawyer arrived. Drusilla hardly allowed him to be seated
before she broached the subject.
“Mr. Thornton, I want you to do me a great favor. I just read in the
paper that an—an old friend of mine that I thought dead long ago, is
living in a little town in southern Ohio. I want to know how he is
getting along, what he is doing, how he is living. I want you to send
some one out there and find out all about it. I want to know if he's
comfortable off, and happy. He may be poor, and he may be lonely. Find
out all about him, and let me know.”
The lawyer started to say something.
“No, don't say a word, and don't talk about writin' out. That ain't
what I want. I want to know, and letters won't tell me nothing.
Do this for me—send some one; 'cause if you don't I'll start myself
to-morrow. I'm goin' to know how life's usin' John Brierly.”
She leaned over and touched the lawyer's hand.
“Don't always be agin me, Mr. Thornton. I got my heart in this. John
Brierly meant all the world to me once, and although I'm old now I
ain't forgot. There's some things, you know, we don't forget.”
Mr. Thornton looked at the flushed old face before him, and a
softness came into his voice that surprised even himself.
“I'll do it at once, Miss Doane. I'm always glad to be of any
service to you.”
“I'm glad to hear you say it; though sometimes you have to be backed
into the shafts. But you will send at once—to-morrow?”
“Yes, I'll—let me see—I'll send Mr. Burns.”
“Send a bright young man, some one that'll nose around and find out
everything. John's proud, and he may be poor, and I want to know jest
how he's fixed; and I don't want him to feel that any one's inquiring
into his affairs, 'cause then he'd shut up like a clam and I couldn't
find out nothin'. Send some one with sense. Hadn't you better go
Mr. Thornton laughed.
“That's the first compliment you ever gave me, Miss Doane; but I
don't think it is necessary that I go myself. I have a very clever
young man in the office who will do better than I would.”
“Well, have him go at once. Can't he start to-night?”
“I don't think that is necessary either. He'd better wait until I
give him all the details. But I'll start him off the first thing in the
morning. Now you rest happy, and in a few days you'll know all about
Drusilla passed the days impatiently waiting for the return of the
man from Ohio. Finally he arrived and Mr. Thornton brought him to see
Drusilla sat in her high-backed chair.
“Well, begin!” she said impatiently. “I'm nigh as curious as a
The young clerk drew a bundle of papers from his pocket.
“I found out as much as I could regarding the present circumstances
of John Brierly. He is—”
“What does he look like?” interrupted Drusilla. “I ain't seen him
for mor'n forty years. Is he old lookin'? Is he sick?”
The young man smiled at her impatience.
“I should call him a singularly well preserved man for his years.”
“That sounds as if he was apple-sass, or somethin' to eat. What does
he look like? Is he stoop-shoulderd?”
“Not at all. He is a tall, spare man, with white hair and a gray
“What's a Vandyke beard? You mean whiskers?”
“Yes; whiskers trimmed to a point—rather aristocratic looking.”
“John always was a gentleman and looked it. Is he well lookin'?”
“Yes, he was in the best of health.”
“Is he—is he—married?”
“No; he never married.”
Drusilla was quiet for a moment, her eyes seeing beyond the men to
the lover who had remained true to her throughout the years.
“Does he live alone?”
“He has two rooms in the home of some people with whom he has lived
for a great many years.”
“Is he in business?”
“No; he was in business until the panic of 1893, when he lost his
“What does he live on? Is he poor?”
“He saved a little out of the wreck of his business and lives on
“How much has he?”
“I think he has about five hundred dollars a year; just enough to
keep him modestly in that little town.”
“Does he seem happy? Did you talk with him?”
“Yes; I visited with him all of one afternoon. He does not seem
unhappy, but he is a lonely old man. All of his friends are gone and he
leads a lonely life.”
“What does he do?”
“He has his books.”
“Yes; John always loved books. They used to say that if he'd attend
to business more and books less, he'd git along better.”
The clerk laughed.
“I'm afraid that's what they say out there, too. He is not a
practical man, and he seems to have paid very little attention to the
making of money, or—what is more—to the keeping of it after he had
“That's just like John,” she said softly. “Set him down somewhere
with a book and he'd forgit that there was other things he ought to be
doin' instead of readin'. He worked in Silas Graham's grocery store
when he was a boy, and Silas had to keep pryin' him out from behind the
barrels to wait on customers. Silas said when he let him go that John's
business was clerkin' in a book store and not a grocery store. Well,
well! John's just the same, I guess. He'd ought to had some one with
common sense to keep him goin'.”
“Is there anything else you would like to know?”
“No—” said Drusilla hesitatingly. “I guess that's all I need to
She was quiet for a few moments. Then:
“Does he seem strong?”
“Yes; strong and well.”
“D'ye suppose he could travel by himself?”
“Certainly; he seems perfectly able to travel by himself.”
“Then I guess I'll write him a letter. That's all, and I thank you
very much, young man. I suppose you have a lot more on them papers, but
I know all I want to. Good day.”
A few days after Drusilla's interview with the clerk, John Brierly
received a letter in the handwriting that, although a little feeble,
was still familiar to him. He took it home from the post-office and did
not break the seal until he was in his sitting-room. Then he read it.
I jest heard where you are and how you are. You are alone and I'm
alone. We are both two old ships that have sailed the seas alone and
now we're nearing port. Why can't we make the rest of the voyage
together? I have a home a great deal too big for one lone woman, and
you have no home at all. Years ago your home would have been mine if
you could a give it to me, and now I want to share mine with you. I'm
not proposing to you, John; we're too old to think of such things, but
I do want to die with my hand in some one's who cares for me and who I
care for. You're the only one in all the world that's left from out my
past, and I want you near me. Won't you come and see me? Then we can
talk it over, and if you don't like it here you can go back. Come to
me, John. Let me hear by the next mail that you're a coming.
P. S. If you don't come to me, I'll come to you. This is a threat,
John. You see if I am seventy years old, I'm still your wilful
Drusilla doubtless would have passed the next few days anxiously
awaiting an answer to her letter if an unforeseen occurrence had not
driven all thoughts of it from her head. Some one had told the
newspapers about the baby left on her doorstep, and that she had
refused to send it to the police, and one morning great headlines
stared her in the face: DRUSILLA DOANE A TRUE PHILANTHROPIST. Again she
saw her picture and the picture of the house in Brookvale, and read:
I'll send no baby to a home. I've eaten charity bread and it was
bitter and charity milk would be the same.
That started for Drusilla a strenuous existence for a few days. The
next morning a baby—a weak, sickly little thing—was found beside the
locked gates, with a note pinned to its tiny jacket. “Won't you please
take my baby too?” Drusilla took it into her motherly arms, looked with
pitying eyes into its little white pinched face, and sent it to the
butler's wife until she could determine what to do with it. The next
morning there were two babies waiting; and that night at dinner the
butler was called to the door by a ring, and when he opened it, he
found a little boy about two years of age standing there with a note in
his hand. The grounds were searched for the person who had brought the
baby and left it standing there, but no one was found—and he, too, was
added to the butler's growing family. In the next week eleven children
were brought to the house in aristocratic Brookvale, and Drusilla was
frightened at the inundation of young that she had brought upon
herself. They were of all kinds and all descriptions. There were John
and Hans and Gretchen, and Frieda and Mina and Guiseppi, Rachel,
Polvana, Francois; even a little Greek was among the collection. Their
names were pinned to their clothing, along with letters—some pitiful
and some impertinent, but all asking for a home for the abandoned
child. Drusilla was dismayed and sent for the young doctor, as Mr.
Thornton's only word was the police and a “home,” to both of which
Drusilla shook her old gray head vigorously. But she saw that she could
not parcel the children out indefinitely among the servants, and
consequently Dr. Eaton was asked to come and help her decide what
should be done.
When he came in, his eyes twinkled mischievously at Drusilla.
“I hear you have numerous additions to the family,” he said.
“Young man,” Drusilla said, “you set right there and tell me what to
do. You got me in all this trouble. Now you get me out of it.”
The doctor stopped in amazement.
“I got you in this trouble? How did I get you in this
“Now, don't you look that surprised way at me,” said Drusilla
severely. “Didn't you tell me all about orphan asylums and babies
having to be all dressed in the same way, and have all their hair tied
with blue cord, and eat porridge out of a blue bowl, and set down and
stand up and go to bed at the ringin' of a bell. Didn't you tell me
“Certainly; I said a few things like that, but—”
“And didn't you make my foolish old eyes jest fill up at the thought
of any baby I'd ever held in my arms goin' to a place like that and
bein' turned into a little jelly-mold—them's your words, a little
“Well—I did mention jelly-molds, but still—”
“And didn't you make me feel so bad that I couldn't let Mr. Thornton
give that blessed little John in charge and be sent to a home?”
“Why—why—you had already decided; but still—”
“That's the third time you've said, 'but still,' and I don't see as
it helps me any now.”
“What'll I say, Miss Doane?”
“You jest help me out of this fix I'm in. I got eleven babies on my
hands, and what am I goin' to do with 'em?”
“Well, it is a question, isn't it?”
“No, it ain't a question; it's a whole book of questions, and the
answers ain't found. I wash my hands of it all. You got me in; now you
get me out.”
And Drusilla sat back in her chair.
“Why—why—you put rather a responsibility on me. What does Mr.
“Huh!” Drusilla nearly snorted, if the sound she emitted could have
been called a snort. “He says jest what you'd suppose he'd say. Send
for the police and put them where they belong.”
“I presume he is right,” said Dr. Eaton a little sadly. “I don't see
what else you can do with them; unless—”
“Unless what? If that's all you can say, I needn't have sent for
you. I've heard that with every baby that's come. Now I want somethin'
different. What's your 'unless' mean?”
“Unless you keep them, Miss Doane.”
“How'm I goin' to keep eleven babies and they comin' faster every
“I think you had better head off the rest.”
“How can I do that? They jest come and there ain't no one to give
“We will put a policeman on guard to watch the gates, and arrest the
next one who leaves a bundle or a basket.”
“I hate to arrest any one, but—perhaps it's the only thing to do.
But that don't help none with the ones I got now. And, Dr. Eaton,
they're the cunningest lot of babies! I go round every night to see 'em
undressed. I've took more exercise trotting to the different houses
where I've put 'em just to look at 'em go to bed—well, I jest can't
send 'em to a home.”
“Why should you? Now let's talk sensibly, Miss Doane. What are your
plans for your own life?”
“What do you mean?”
“What are you going to do with yourself? How occupy yourself?”
“I don't occupy myself. I'm jest settin' around waitin' to die; and,
between you and me and the gate-post, Dr. Eaton, I'm not used to jest
waitin'. I'm used to doin' somethin' if I am an old woman.”
“That's just it—you are used to doing something. Now here's
something that you can do that's worth while. There's a whole lot of
babies in the world that need a home, and why can't you take your share
of them and give them a chance in life?”
“How can I give them a chance?”
“Why, Miss Doane, who could give them a better chance? You have
“Yes—heaps of it; and I set wonderin' what to do with it. I want to
spend it and I don't know how.”
“How can you spend it better than by taking care of all these
babies, by seeing that they'll have love and care instead of being
brought up by chance or charity, which is bound to kill every decent
instinct a child may be born with.”
Here Dr. Eaton got up and began walking around the room. His eyes
grew bright, his voice earnest and thrilling to the old woman who
watched him as he walked up and down.
“Miss Doane, you have a wonderful chance to do something great. I
envy you for the chance. Just think of being able to take these little
waifs and provide a place for them to grow up into the men and women
that it was intended they should be! Whenever I go down to the orphan
asylum and see all the little tads herded around in bunches by paid
nurses, and no one really caring for them, no one tucking them up at
night, no one singing them little songs, no one hearing their evening
prayers, it seems to me that I must take them all away with me.
It seems that we are all wrong in a world where a Great Master whose
teaching we are supposed to follow said, 'Suffer the little children to
come unto me,' when we allow them to be turned into little machines,
unloved and uncared for. Oh, Miss Doane, you've got a great chance.
Drusilla frankly wiped the tears from her eyes.
“Dr. Eaton, you almost make me cry. But where'll I put 'em?”
“How big is this house? You don't use it all, do you?”
“Use it all! Well, I should say not. I feel like a pea in a tin can
shakin' around loose. Young man, there's twelve empty bedrooms in this
place and I don't know how many other rooms that's goin' to waste.”
“There you are! Why not fill them up? Of what use are they lying
“That's what I often think, and I wonder why one old woman's got so
many rooms when there's lots of people ain't got no place to go. It
don't seem jest right.”
“Of course it isn't right. You've too much; a great many have
nothing. Now even up.”
“Who'll I git to take care of 'em?”
“We'll have to figure that out.”
“We'll have to figure it out mighty sudden. I got them young ones
pretty well passeled out among the hired help, and they ain't enjyin'
them so much as I am. First thing I know the hull cahoots of 'em'll
leave, though speakin' for a few of 'em it wouldn't cause me to go to
an early grave to be shet of some of 'em.”
“I must be off. I'll think it over and let you know what I've
figured out for you.”
“Well, hurry up about it. It's a lot to think of. I never thought
I'd take to raisin' children at my time of life; but you never can tell
what you'll end as. I'm pretty old to begin, I'm afraid.”
“Come now, Miss Doane; don't get cold feet. One is never too old to
try something. If it doesn't work, you can always send them to the
police that Mr. Thornton tells you about. They're always there; so are
“Yes; that's so. And they wouldn't be no worse off'n when they come.
Well—you run along and start somethin'.”
“Yes, we'll start something, Miss Doane.”
Dr. Eaton went away, and the next morning he got an excited
telephone call from Drusilla herself, which showed that it was of the
utmost importance to her and even overcame her dislike of talking into
a “box,” as she called it.
“Come right over, Dr. Eaton; come right over at once,” she said.
“I've got another baby and they've caught the mother.”
Dr. Eaton lost no time in coming to Drusilla, and he found a very
excited little woman, with her hat and gloves on, waiting for him.
“Don't come in; I'll tell you on the way. I've got the car and my
bunnet's on, so we'll go along.”
Drusilla did not stop to explain but stepped into the car, and gave
directions to the chauffeur.
Dr. Eaton laughed.
“Why all this hurry, Miss Doane? Is something afire?”
“Yes; I'm afire, and I'm mad! They put a officer of some kind at the
gate last night, and this morning he caught a woman leavin' a baby. An'
how do you suppose he caught her? The man was hid and couldn't catch
the woman when the baby was left, and he waited and pinched the baby
and made it cry, and then the poor little mother who was waitin'
somewhere to see her baby took in, come to see what was the matter, and
they took her. I can jest see it all—the poor little mother in hidin',
waitin' to see her baby took in the house, and, hearin' it cry, her
mother heart drew it back to comfort it, and she was caught. Mr.
Thornton tells me she was taken to court, and that's where we're
a-goin' this minute. I want to see that mother, and find out why she
left the baby.”
When they arrived at the court, Dr. Eaton and Drusilla found a seat
up near the front. They were wedged in between wives with anxious faces
wondering if their husbands would be taken away from them, or watching
them pay in fines the dollars that were so badly needed in the home.
They were all there, those hangers-on of misery—the policemen, the
plain clothes men, the probation officers, the cheap lawyers, the
reporters. Here and there was an artist or a writer looking for “copy,”
or some woman from Fifth Avenue trying to get a new sensation from the
troubles of her less fortunate sisters. Over it all there was a silence
that was heavy and dead. A silence born of fear—the fear of the law.
Several cases were called before the case for which Drusilla waited,
and then a young girl not more than eighteen years old rose and stood
before the Judge with a baby in her arms. At first she was so
frightened that she could not answer the questions; but the Judge, a
kindly man, waited for her to become more calm, and then, in a quiet
voice, he began to question her.
“Now do not be frightened; we will not hurt you. Just tell me why
you left the baby.”
The scared voice spoke so low that her words could scarcely be
“I didn't know it was wrong.”
“If you didn't know it was wrong, why did you hide?”
“I—I—wanted to see that nothin' happened to her. I kind of—kind
of—wanted to see her as long as I could. She's my baby—and—and—I
wouldn't see her again—and I just kind of waited round—” Here the
girl started to cry. “I didn't know it was wrong. There was nothing
else to do. I—I—”
“You were willing to give her away, yet you cared enough to go to
her when she cried. I don't understand it.”
“I don't know, but she cried and I thought somethin' might be
hurtin' her or she wasn't covered up warm enough—and I wanted to touch
“But if you feel that way, how could you leave her?”
“What was I to do with her? I couldn't take her back home. I come
from the country and I couldn't go back with a baby. No one would speak
to me, and it would hurt Mother so. I jest couldn't. She's only
two weeks old, and you know when you leave the hospital with a baby two
weeks old in your arms, and you can't go home and you've no money, what
are you goin' to do?”
And she turned the tear-stained, questioning face of a child up to
“What were you going to do if the baby was taken in?”
“I'd have tried to get work somewhere, but you can't get work with a
“Have you no friends?”
“No; only some girls in the store where I worked.”
“How did you come to leave the baby where you did?”
“A girl in the hospital read in a paper about an old lady who had no
children and who took a baby left on her doorstep, and so I left mine,
thinking that if she saw her once, she is so pretty that she'd have
to love her, and she'd have a chance to grow up like other girls. And
I'd 'a' gone to work feeling that my baby had a home which I knowed I
couldn't give her.”
“But why didn't you go to some of the homes that are open to girls
“Homes? I didn't know of any.”
“There are many institutions that would have helped you. Didn't any
one tell you about them?”
“No; I wouldn't talk much with people. I was afraid that they'd send
word to Mother, and I didn't want her to know and feel bad, so I didn't
talk about myself. It's been awful hard—” and the babyish lips began
“Do you want to keep the baby?”
The girl's face brightened.
“Do I want to—do I want to—But I can't! They tell me
there's no place for a girl with a baby.”
“Will you work?”
“Oh, Judge,” and she drew the baby closer to her, “jest give me a
chance! I'll work my fingers off for her. She's all I've got now, and
The Judge started to say something, but he was interrupted by a
little old lady rising from one of the seats.
“Judge, jest you give me that girl and the baby. I'll take her.”
The Judge looked over his glasses at the excited, flushed face of
the old lady in front of him.
“I said, jest you give me that girl and the baby, and I'll take her.
I'll take her right home with me.”
The Judge looked at her a moment in silence; then the young man
beside the lady came forward and said:
“May I speak with you a moment, Judge Carlow?”
There was a whispered conference between the Judge, Dr. Eaton, and
the kindly-faced, white-haired probation officer, and then the Judge
turned to the young girl.
“Discharged in care of Miss Drusilla Doane,” he said.
The girl and her baby came with the doctor through the gates which
separated those who were entwined in the meshes of the law from the
onlookers; then, stopping to get Drusilla, Dr. Eaton and his charge
left the court-room.
The wondering girl was placed in the motor and whirled swiftly
Drusilla was quiet for a time. Then:
“Dr. Eaton,” she said, “I believe we've found our nurses. Here's our
first one. Why can't we find the other mothers?”
“I am afraid that would be rather difficult.”
“Difficulties are made to get around. If this young girl is willin'
to work to be with her baby, some of the other mothers must be the
same. Perhaps some of 'em was in just the same fix as this one. Now,
look at that letter of John's mother. It sounded as if she wouldn't 'a'
left him if she could 'a' got work to keep him. Why can't we git as
many mothers as we can and have them nurse the children? We got to have
nurses of some kind, and the mothers'd be better than jest hired
“It's a good idea, Miss Doane; but how can we get them? They
naturally didn't leave their addresses.”
“We'll advertise in the papers.”
“But that would scare them; they would be afraid it would be a trap
to get them arrested.”
“Say in the papers that we won't arrest 'em, but that we'll give 'em
a chance to support their babies and live with them while they're doin'
it. Tell 'em I give my word that nothin'll happen to 'em. Git that
young man that talked to me once. He said he'd do anything for me I
asked him. Git him to write it all up.”
Dr Eaton pondered thoughtfully for a few moments.
“It might work, and again it might not.”
“Well, there ain't no harm tryin'. Fix up a good advertisement and
put it in all the papers—Dutch, Italian, French and Irish. The babies
are all kinds.”
By the time they arrived at the big house in Brookvale Drusilla was
very much interested in her new scheme.
“No,” she said firmly to Dr. Eaton when he intimated that he must
leave; “you ain't goin' now. Jest you come with me. Jane, you take this
girl and this baby up to one of the spare rooms and see she has a bath
and the baby some milk. Have you had your dinner? No; of course not.
Jane, git her somethin' to eat—somethin' solid; not them finicky
things the cook makes. Git her all fixed up; then come to me. Dr.
Eaton, you come with me to that big room I was a lookin' at the other
She led the way to the third floor, where there was a big billiard
“Isn't this just the right kind of a room for babies?” she
exclaimed. “Look at them windows to let the sun in! Now, how many beds
can I put here? We'll take them big tables out and we can put a lot of
beds side by side; and the nurse can sleep in this room here that opens
out of it, with the littlest babies near her.”
The doctor looked at the room.
“It seems made for a nursery, doesn't it?” he commented. “Let's see.
You could put six little beds along each side, and a couple in the
other room with the nurse's bed. That would more than dispose of your
“And I been a-worryin' what to do with 'em all when I got this room!
I ought 'a' been ashamed of myself! Now, you run right along and order
the things we need—beds and whatever babies should have—and send them
right up. Tell the storekeepers that they must git here at once or I
won't take 'em. I can jest see James's face when I tell him his wife
won't need to keep them five babies he's got any longer. I'll go and
take my bunnet off and help move.”
Within the next two days twelve little beds were established in the
billiard room, and the little mother was installed as first nurse, with
Jane and a couple of girls hired as assistants.
That evening Drusilla was sitting down to dinner—or supper, as she
called it—when Mr. Thornton was ushered in. He was more severe and
uncompromising than ever, and Drusilla said to herself, “I'm in for it.
He's heard somethin'.”
But she did not show that she was a wee bit nervous. She said, as if
it were the usual thing for him to make her an evening call,
“Why, how do you do, Mr. Thornton? Won't you have some supper with
“No, thank you. I came to talk with you.”
“Now, that's real nice of you. I always like to talk. Set right down
and we'll have a comfortable visit. You'd better change your mind and
have some supper.”
“No; my dinner is waiting for me.”
“I eat my dinner in the middle of the day, though James will call it
lunch. I think a great big dinner at night makes you dream of your
grandmother, so I have mine like I used to.”
“I understand that you have been to court, and brought home with you
that woman and her child.”
“Well, well! How news does travel! How did you hear that?”
“It is in the evening papers.”
“Is it? Well, I do declare! It seems I can't do nothin' but what I
git in the papers. I don't need to talk to git writ up; my money talks
for me. What did they say?”
The lawyer drew a paper from his pocket and handed it to Drusilla.
She took her glasses from her forehead, where they had been resting,
and read aloud: MISS DRUSILLA DOANE, THE FRIEND OF THE FRIENDLESS.
“Well, ain't that nice of 'em!” she stopped to comment; then she
went on reading.
“They seem to have it all down,” she said, handing the paper back to
He looked at her with the air he used when trying to frighten
witnesses who opposed him.
“Of course, you will deny all this. You will make a statement that
it is all a mistake, and that you do not intend to give these—these—
wanderers a home.”
“Now, that's a good word, Mr. Thornton; that's jest what they are—
wanderers. But they won't be wanderers no more; they've found a home.”
“What do you mean?”
“Jest what I said, Mr. Thornton. I mean to give that mother and her
baby a home.”
“I do not understand you at all, Miss Doane; or at least I hope I am
mistaken in your meaning.”
“I talk plain American.”
“I have been waiting for you to send those children that have been
left here to the proper authorities.”
“Well, I'm an authority—or at least I seem to be one since I got
all this money; and no one ain't ever said I wasn't proper.”
“You are evading the question. I have said with the advent of each
child that it should be sent, along with the others, to the police.
They would dispose of them in the homes ordained for them.”
“I ain't a Presbyterian, Mr. Thornton, and I don't believe in
predestination and foreordination. Them babies of mine was never
ordained for a home—the kind you mean; and I won't put 'em there. I
got room and I got money to feed 'em and clothe 'em; so why shouldn't I
“It is quite impossible, quite impossible!”
“Why—why—my late client, Mr. Elias Doane—”
“Now, don't throw him in my teeth again. Elias Doane don't care
whether I keep babies or poodle dogs, and I like babies best. Now,
don't let's quarrel, Mr. Thornton,” as she saw him give an exasperated
shake of his head and rise as if to go. “Set still and talk it over
with me calm like. Can't you see my side to it? I'm old and I'm
lonesome, and I've always wanted babies but the Lord didn't see fit to
let me have 'em, and now He's sent me these. I feel that I'd be a goin'
against His plans if I didn't keep 'em. My old heart's jest full of
love that's goin' to waste, and I want to give it to some one, and,”
laughing, “I can't waste much of it on you, can I? I don't want to die
with it all shet up inside of me. I want to love these babies and learn
'em to love me. Why, what chance will a baby brung up in a 'home' have
to know about love? How can they ever be learnt of the love of God when
they grow up, if they don't learn something about love when they're
little. They won't know the word. Don't be so set against it, Mr.
Thornton”—she looked at him pleadingly for a moment, then her eyes
twinkled—“though it won't do you much good as I'm set on this and I'm
goin' to do it. Your late client, Mr. Elias Doane, said, 'Spend my
money, Drusilla, in your own way'; and I'm takin' him at his word.”
Mr. Thornton rose.
“Nothin more can be said then; but it is a disgrace to the
neighborhood to have a home for waifs come to it.”
Drusilla flushed hotly.
“Don't you call it that; and don't you call it a 'home'! It's a
home, but not the kind you mean, and I won't hear it called that.”
“I wash my hands of the affair. You will get into trouble, and when
you do you may call on me.”
Drusilla rose and laid her hand on Mr. Thornton's arm.
“I'm sure to get into trouble,” she said. “I always was a hand to do
that. But when I do you'll be the true, kind friend I know you are, and
help me out.”
Mr. Thornton smiled, against his will, as he looked down into the
earnest face of the little old lady. He patted the hand on his arm.
“Miss Doane, you are causing me a lot of trouble not connected with
the business of the estate; but of course I'll always help you. Every
one will—they can't help it.”
Drusilla drew a sigh of relief.
“I'm glad to know you ain't agin me, 'cause I like you, even when
you almost always come here to scold me. You ain't near so stiff inside
as you are outside. We're friends now, ain't we, babies or no babies?”
Mr. Thornton bent and kissed the withered old hand.
“Always, Miss Doane, babies or no babies; but you had better—”
“Never mind! You run along. Your dinner's cold by now. What you want
to say'll keep till next time, and I know it ain't near as nice as what
you said last. Good night.”
John Brierly came.
He first wrote Drusilla a long letter and Drusilla answered it by
telegraph—an answer that brought a reminiscent smile to John Brierly's
lips. It read:
“I can't talk by letter. Just come.”
And John came.
He was met at the station by the young man from the lawyer's office
who had been to see him in Cliveden, and when he arrived at the house
he found Drusilla awaiting him. After the young man left, Drusilla
“John, come upstairs; I want to look at you, and I want to talk to
She took him up to the small library, which looked very cozy with
its fire in the big grate and the heavy English curtains drawn at the
“Now set down there in that chair, John. It was made for a man—no
woman could ever get out of it without help once she got in—and tell
me all about yourself, John.”
John looked around the luxurious room in a hesitating manner.
“I hardly know what to say, Drusilla—I can't understand all this—I
“Never mind, John; it's all real. I know how you feel. I felt that
way myself for the first few weeks; but now I'm gettin' used to it.”
“Is—is—this place yours, Drusilla?”
“Yes, it's mine. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow, but now I just
want to talk to you and about you. You want to smoke, don't you? Light
your pipe and be comfortable. It'll make you think better.”
“I do want to smoke.”
He drew his pipe from some pocket and filled it from a worn tobacco
Drusilla watched him interestedly.
“Now I know what this room needed. It needs tobacco. It'll make the
curtains smell as if people lived here. You know the greatest trouble I
find with this place, John, is to have it feel human. Everything is so
sort of—sort of—dead—with just me a-creepin' round, and James and
William tip-toein', and the hired girls never speakin' except to say,
'No, ma'am' or 'Yes, ma'am.' Why, sometimes I'd like to hear somebody
drop somethin', or get mad, or stomp, or do somethin' as if they
was alive. Here, help me pull up the chair closer by the fire, where I
can see you without putting on my specs. There, that is comfortable.
Now tell me all about yourself.”
John looked into the fire dreamily.
“Drusilla, I am afraid I have been a failure. Your mother was right;
I've been always a dreamer and a failure.”
Drusilla leaned toward him.
“Never you mind, John. So long as you haven't been a dreamer and a
democrat, I can stand it. I never could abide democrats. Why didn't you
John looked at her.
“I couldn't, Drusilla.”
Drusilla flushed at the look in his face and sat back in her chair.
John said again, earnestly: “I just couldn't, Drusilla. When I got
you out of my heart enough to look at another woman, I was too old to
“What are you going to do now?” Drusilla asked, to turn the
conversation into another channel.
“What I have done for the last few years—sit quietly by and wait
for the messenger to come.”
“Stuff and nonsense, John! I don't believe in waitin' for
messengers. That's meetin' them half way. I believe in bein' so busy
that he'll have a hard time to catch up to me.”
“But I'm old, Drusilla, and—”
“Old, nothin' of the sort! You ain't but two years older'n me and
I'm jest beginnin' to live. Why I've jest took to raisin' children,
John, and I'm goin' to watch 'em grow up; so I can't afford to think
about being old or dyin'. I got to see these babies get started
John looked at her curiously.
“Yes, you're surprised—so's everybody—and it kind of tickles me to
surprise people. I've had to do the things expected of me all my life;
I couldn't afford to surprise no one; so I feel like I'm breaking out
now, and—and—” laughing, “I like it, John—I like it. Why, when Mr.
Thornton stands up so stiff and straight and makes his mouth square and
hard to say, 'Impossible!' why—why—my toes kind of wiggle around
in delight like the babies do when you hold 'em to the fire. But I
don't want to talk about myself; we got lots of time to do that. I want
to know what you intend doin'.”
“Nothing, Drusilla. I have enough to live on in my little town; and
with my books, and—”
“But, John, you can't live with jest books.”
“That's all I have left, Drusilla. All my friends are gone.”
“That's what I wanted to hear. You ain't got no one that draws your
heart back to that place in Ohio, have you?”
“No one in the world, Drusilla.”
Drusilla settled back into her chair and gave a sigh of contentment.
“Then what I've been dreamin' of ever sence I saw your name in the
paper can come true.”
“What have you been a-dreaming of, Drusilla?”
Drusilla was silent for a few moments, looking thoughtfully into the
fire. Then she said softly:
“Ever sence I knew you was alive, and after I sent that young man
out to you and he told me about you, I jest been dreamin' of seein' you
settin' there, smokin' your pipe, and me a-settin' here, talkin' to
you, and I have come into this room more the last two weeks, lookin' at
it, thinkin' how it would look with your things layin' around. You are
alone, John, and I'm alone. As I wrote you, we are both two old ships
that have sailed the seas alone for all these years, and now we're
nearin' port. Why can't we make the rest of the voyage together? I have
a home too big for one lone woman; you have no home at all. Years ago
your home would 'a' been mine, if you could 'a' give it to me; and now
I want to share mine with you. No—don't start,” as she saw John make a
movement, “I ain't proposin' to you, John. We're too old to think of
such things, but I want to die with my hand in some one's who cares for
me and who I care for. You're the only one in all the world that's left
from out my past, and I want you near me.”
“Don't interrupt me, John. I want you to live here near me. These
rooms are a man's rooms. I want to see a man in 'em; and, John, you're
the man I want.”
“Now, John,” raising her faded hand, “don't argue with me. I can see
it's took you by surprise. But why shouldn't you live here, and me
across the hall; and evenings, when the time is long, we can set before
the fire like this and talk of the past. It's lonely, John, with no
“But, Drusilla, I couldn't—I couldn't—”
“Couldn't what, John? Couldn't you be happy here?”
“It isn't that.”
“Well, what is it?”
“Drusilla, I couldn't accept even your charity.”
“Now, John, I was afraid you'd say somethin' like that. When I was
young, when we were young together, I'd 'a' give you all my life. What
is a roof and the food you eat, compared to what I'd 'a' give you if
things had been different?”
“Yes, I know all you'd say. But see, John. I have more'n I can ever
spend, though, goodness knows, I'm goin' to do my best; and there's
some things I can't buy, John. I can't buy companionship and friends,
John; and that's what we are, jest two old friends. We've drifted far
apart, and now the winds has brought us together again, let's anchor
side by side.”
They were both silent, staring into the fire. Then Drusilla rose.
“Now we won't talk of it no more. These are your rooms. I want you
to do what you want to do. If you'd feel that you could be happy here,
send for your books and call this home, 'cause remember, John,” and she
went up to him and standing back of his chair put her hand around his
head until it rested on his face, “remember, John, I always want you.”
John reached up and covered the soft little hand with one of his for
a moment, then he brought it down and kissed it.
Drusilla turned and left the room.
The next few days were happy days for Drusilla. She took great pride
in showing John the place, and they spent long hours in the gallery
studying and discussing the pictures. The armor room was John's
especial delight, after the library. He found a book on armor and
learned the rules of chivalry. Drusilla said she could always tell
where to find him—“a-studyin' them tin clothes.”
One sunshiny day they decided to visit the Doane home. John did not
want to go where there were so many women, but Drusilla insisted.
“I want 'em to see a man, John. They're shet up all day with nothin'
but women, and they're tired of seein' 'em.”
“But I'm an old man, Drusilla.”
“Never mind how old you are, you're a man, and any man'll
look good to them. Even if most of the ladies is past seventy, they
ain't dead yet, and they're still women. You'll see how they'll set up
and take notice; Miss Lodema'll smooth back her hair as soon as you
step on the porch. I want to give 'em some real pleasure. Barbara'd
like to talk to you better'n gettin' new teeth even. We'll take the big
car and take as many as we can git in it out for a ride.”
Drusilla had the cook make some cakes, for, as she confided to John,
“I ain't a-goin' to take 'em a thing sensible. They git that every day.
I'm goin' to have the cook make 'em as big cakes as he can, and put
lots of frostin' and chocolate on 'em; and I've sent to town for twenty
pounds of candy—the real fancy kind, that'll quite likely make 'em all
sick, but they'll love it; and I've bought 'em a lot of things they
don't need and that no one would think of givin' 'em. They're going to
have a real party when I come to see 'em, John.”
Drusilla was as excited as a child about her visit; but her
excitement did not equal that of the old ladies when Drusilla was seen
driving into the grounds in a big limousine with a man beside her.
The women clustered around her and chattered and talked and asked
questions, and fingered their gifts like a group of children at a visit
of Santa Claus. After lunch Drusilla announced that five of the old
ladies should go with her to the near-by city, where she was going to
take Barbara to a dentist.
“I don't want the dentist that would come here to see the 'inmates.'
He'd give charity teeth. I want Barbara to have real teeth, so's she
can chew a bone if she wants to, and I want to take Grandma Perkins.
She's never been in a motor and she's near ninety, so she'd better
hurry up or she'll be ridin' in a chariot and after that a motorcar
wouldn't be excitin'.”
The old ladies were bundled up, Grandma Perkins was carried out to
the car, and they were off to the city about twenty miles away. The
women were awed at first, and rather uneasy, some of them a little
frightened. Drusilla watched Grandma Perkins, to see that she was not
nervous; but after a few miles had been passed, the old lady sat up
straighter in her shawls, and her eyes became bright.
“Drusilla,” she asked, “how fast are we goin'?”
“I don't know,” Drusilla said. “We'll ask the man.”
Twenty-five miles an hour, the chauffeur told them.
“We'll go slower if it scares you, Grandma,” Drusilla said gently.
The old lady looked at her with scorn.
“Scares me, nothin'! I was only wonderin' if we couldn't go faster!”
“That's jest what I said when I first rode in the car with Mr.
She gave the order and the car sped swiftly over the macadam road.
The old lady settled back among her shawls, a look of absolute
happiness on her wrinkled old face.
They arrived at the city all too soon. Barbara was taken to the
dentist, and Drusilla had the other ladies taken to a tea shop and
given tea while she waited for Barbara.
After tea they started home.
“I don't want to go back, Drusilla,” Grandma Perkins began to
whimper. “Must we go back right away?”
Drusilla looked puzzled.
“I don't know what to do. Where'll we go if we don't go back?” She
thought a moment. “I'll ask Joseph; he always knows everything.” She
turned to the waiting chauffeur. “Joseph, we don't want to go home.
Ain't there anything we can see?”
Joseph looked at the five old ladies, evidently at a loss as to what
would please them; then a suggestion occurred to him.
“You might go to a moving-picture show.”
“It's—it's a kind of theater.”
“Well, I ain't never seen one,” said Drusilla; and turned to the old
ladies, who were waiting patiently to learn of their final disposal.
“Do you want to go to a movin'-picture show?”
“What's that?” came in chorus.
“I don't know myself, but it's a sort of—sort of—”
“Never mind what it is, we want to go.”
“Yes, let's go, Drusilla; let's not go home.”
And the patrons of the moving-picture house had a view of six old
ladies, piloted by a smartly dressed chauffeur, who saw them seated in
a box and then left them. It was really a very good moving-picture, and
if the actors could have seen the delight of the box party they would
have felt they had not toiled in vain. They sat for two hours entranced
by the scenes that passed before them on the screen. One of the plays
was a war-time drama, and the old ladies were quite likely the only
ones in the house to whom the blue and the gray brought memories.
At the end of the reel, Drusilla decided that they should be
leaving, as supper would be ready at the home. One of the old ladies
“Let's not go home, Drusilla; let's miss supper.”
“It's bean night, anyway,” said another. “Let's stay.”
Five pairs of dim old eyes looked at Drusilla beseechingly.
“Well, we'll stay just a little while longer,” she concluded.
The little while quite likely would have been the rest of the
evening if the performance had not finished for the afternoon. They
rose with a sigh and left the theater. When they started to help
Grandma Perkins into the car, she stopped with one foot on the step.
“Drusilla, I want to ride with the man,” she said.
“Oh, but, Grandma, you'd catch cold,” Drusilla objected.
“I wouldn't,” she wailed, “and I want to. I might jest as well die
fer a sheep as a lamb, and I won't never git no chance again to feel
myself goin' through the air with nothin' in front of me.”
The old lip quivered, and the eyes filled childishly.
“But I want to, Drusilla. I don't want to be all squshed up with a
lot of old women where I can't see nothin'. I want to see, and I want
Drusilla turned helplessly to the other women, and then Joseph came
to her aid.
“She can sit here, Ma'am. I'll fix the wind shield so's she won't
catch cold, and you can put this rug around her. She'll be warm.”
Grandma Perkins was lifted into the seat by the driver, bundled up
in a big fur rug so that only her bright eyes could be seen, and they
were off. Twice on the way home Grandma Perkins was seen to lean
towards the chauffeur and the car jumped forward until it seemed that
they were flying. When at last they drove into the “home” grounds, they
found a very anxious superintendent and John waiting for them, fearing
something had happened.
As Drusilla took her leave, Grandma Perkins chuckled childishly.
“I always said, Drusilla, that I didn't want to die and go to
Heaven; but I've changed my mind. I'll go any time now, 'cause I like
flyin' and am willin' to be an angel.”
The superintendent was inclined to be angry with Drusilla—as angry
as she could be with a woman who possessed a million dollars. She said
“I'm afraid the ladies will be ill to-morrow.”
One of them, hearing it, spoke up.
“Of course we'll all be sick; but, then, it was worth it!”
And Drusilla left with those words ringing in her ears.
“John,” she said, “perhaps all is vanity and a strivin' after wind;
but the preacher didn't know much about women, or his wives didn't have
One morning James came to Drusilla.
“There is a man downstairs who wishes to see you,” he announced.
“What does he want?” asked Drusilla.
“He does not say; just says he wants to see you personally. He says
he is from your home town or village.”
Drusilla looked up, pleased.
“Is that so. Take him in one of the setting-rooms and I'll be right
“What is it, James?”
“He, well, he is not exactly a gentleman; he looks like a man from
“That ain't nothin' to disgrace him for life. I'm from the country
too, and I'm real glad to see any one from the place where I was
raised. I ain't seen no one from there for a long time.”
When she went downstairs she found a rather florid man, about fifty
years of age, dressed as a farmer would dress when out on a holiday.
She extended her hand cordially.
“James tells me you are from Adams,” she said. “I'm real glad to see
somebody from there. Set down. Won't you take off your coat?”
The man removed his overcoat and sat down.
“I am John Gleason,” he said; “the brother of James Gleason, who
owns the Spring Valley Stock Farm, just out of Adams.”
Drusilla thought for a moment.
“I don't seem to recall the name, but perhaps you moved there sence
I went away.”
“I been there about thirty years. Of course you know William Fisher,
the editor of the county paper? He is a friend of mine.”
Drusilla's face brightened.
“Yes, indeed; I know him well. I nursed his wife through all her
children and her last spell of sickness.”
“Is that so! His wife was a cousin of my wife's. Her name was Jenny
Jameson before she married me.”
“The daughter of old Dr. Jameson! Well, I do declare, it's like
meetin' old friends. How is she?”
“I'm sorry to say she is not very well. We lost our little girl
about two years ago, and she has been sick ever since.”
Kindly Drusilla was all sympathy at once.
“Do tell me. What did she die of.”
“Diphtheria. She got it in school; it run through all the children
in the county.”
“How old was she?”
“She was eleven, and it near broke my wife's heart. She was our only
child. I catch her settin' by the door waitin' for Julia to come home.
It worries me very much.”
“Well, I'm so sorry. Have you had a doctor?”
“Yes; we have had Dr. Friedman and another doctor from the city. But
they don't seem to be doing her no good.”
“It's too bad! Now perhaps I got something that'll help her. I got
some harbs that make the best tonic. I always give it to mothers who
didn't get along well, and it made them have an appetite; and if one
can eat well, they can ginerally git enough strength to throw off
sorrow. You just set still a minute, and I'll make a package for you. I
ain't got much left, 'cause I been kind of savin' of it; but I know
it'll do your wife good, so I'm goin' to give you some.”
Drusilla left to go up to her room to find the “harbs” that she had
been carefully cherishing for time of need. When she returned she
handed the package to the man.
“You have her bile them fifteen minutes and drink it like a tea,”
They chatted for fifteen minutes about the families in Adams. Mr.
Gleason seemed to be very familiar with them all, and Drusilla's eyes
brightened as she heard the old names. She thoroughly enjoyed the
“John Brierly is upstairs,” she said finally. “I'll call him. He'd
like to hear all the news of the old neighbors, and perhaps he'll know
about your father.”
The man looked embarrassed.
“Well, Miss Doane,” he stammered, “I'd like to see him, but I'm in a
hurry. I want to get the eleven o'clock train home. I'm worried about
leaving my wife. She's not sick, you know, but just peculiar and I
don't like to leave her longer than I can help. I had to come down on
business—I've been seeing about some cattle over in New Jersey, and—
and—Miss Doane, I'm in trouble, and I don't know a soul in New York,
and I didn't know who I could go to but you, and I remembered you was
from Adams and might help me.”
Drusilla looked at him with inquiring, sympathetic eyes.
“What can I do?” she asked.
“Well,”—and the man was most embarrassed—“I've been farmer enough
to have my pocket picked on the train. I was sleepy and went to sleep
and when I woke up my pocketbook that I always carried right here”—
showing an inside pocket in his coat—“was gone. It had all my money
and my mileage ticket.”
“Well, I swan!” said Drusilla.
“Yes; I didn't know what to do. I tried to tell the man in
the ticket office that I would send back my ticket money, but he
wouldn't give it to me, and I—well—I don't know what to do. I
feel I ought to go home to my wife at once, and—and—”
“How much is the ticket?”
“The ticket is only about three dollars and sixty cents—”
“Pshaw, that is very little. I'll get some money from James. I never
She rang the bell; and when James returned with fifteen dollars she
handed it to the man.
“You'd better have a little extra, as somethin' might happen,” she
He was more than thankful.
“I'll never forget your kindness, and I'll send it to you as soon as
I get home. You'll get it day after to-morrow. And I'll see my wife
takes this tea. We'll never forget you, Miss Doane.”
He wrung her hand.
“Can't I get you anything from the country,” he asked. “But I
suppose you have everything. I'd like to send you something to show you
how I feel.”
Drusilla was touched.
“Now that's real kind of you to think of it,” she said; “but I don't
She followed him to the door and helped him on with his overcoat.
“Be sure and let me know how your wife gets on. Perhaps if the tea
don't do no good, my doctor will know of something that'll help her.
She might come down here for a few days; a change might take her mind
off her sorrow.”
Again Mr. Gleason shook the kindly outstretched hand, and for a
moment he seemed rather overcome by his feelings of gratitude.
“I'll let you know at once, and I'll remember your offer. I must
catch my train. Thank you again, Miss Doane.”
Drusilla watched him walk down the drive, and then she went up to
tell John of his visit. As they were talking, Dr. Eaton's card was
brought to her and Drusilla asked him to be shown to John's
sitting-room. Drusilla met him with a happy smile on her face.
“Come right in, Dr. Eaton. I'm always glad to see you. You're just
youth and strength and it does my old eyes good to see you. John, this
is Dr. Eaton, my family doctor. You didn't know I was an ailin' woman
and have to have a doctor by the year.”
John looked at her anxiously.
“You ain't sick, are you, Drusilla?”
“Oh, money gives you lots of diseases that you didn't know you had
till you could afford 'em.”
The doctor laughed.
“Miss Doane'll never be sick in her life, Mr. Brierly. She's good
for twenty-five years of hard work yet.”
“Don't speak that word to me, Dr. Eaton. I don't like the word
work. It's stuck closer to me than a brother for too many years.”
“Oh, but there's work and work. But am I interrupting your visit
with Mr. Brierly?”
“No; I just been tellin' him about a visitor I had who comes from
Adams, where we used to live when we was young. I wanted John to come
and see him, but the man couldn't wait. He had to catch a train.”
“Was it an old friend? It's nice to see old friends.”
“No, he wasn't exactly an old friend, but he knowed a lot of people
I knowed once. Poor man, he was in a lot of trouble. He had his pocket
picked and couldn't get home and his wife was sick—”
The doctor looked up quickly.
“Did you lend him money, Miss Doane?”
“Yes; I felt so sorry for him. He was so worried I let him have
fifteen dollars. He'll send it back to me to-morrow. He was so
grateful. It must be awful to be in a big city and know no one and have
“Yes; it must,” the doctor remarked dryly.
Drusilla looked at him quickly.
“What you speakin' in that tone of voice for?”
The doctor laughed rather hesitatingly.
“I'm afraid, Miss Doane, that you're what the small boys call
“Stung? What do you mean?”
“I rather imagine that was a little confidence game.”
“What is a confidence game?”
“Oh, a man gets money from people on false pretenses. They work a
lot of games. One of them is to go to people whom they have looked up,
and claim to be a relation or from their home town.”
“But he knowed lots of names I knowed.”
“Yes; he might have found them in a local paper from the place.”
Drusilla sat back in her chair.
“Well, do tell!” Then, after a moment's pause, “But I don't believe
he's dishonest. He looked honest. He looked like a man from the
“That's where they're clever. But don't worry; you can stand the
touch—it wasn't much. You got off easy.”
“But I don't like to think I bin cheated. It makes me mad clean
through. It always did. I remember once I bought a cow when mother was
bad; paid forty dollars for her to Silas Graham. He said she was young
and would give fifteen quarts of milk a day, and I figgered out I could
give mother all the milk she'd need and sell the rest and in that way
pay for her, because forty dollars was a lot of money for me in them
days. Why, when I got that cow she never give enough milk to wet down a
salt risin', and she was as old as Methuselah. All she could do was to
eat, and she et her head off. I couldn't see her starve and I couldn't
sell her. I kept her for two years, and finally a butcher come along
and offered me eight dollars for her and I let her go. Wasn't I mad! I
never could abide any one by the name of Silas after that.”
“Never mind; you're able to stand this loss. But you'd better write
up to Adams and see if what he says is true. You can find it out easy
“No; I'll wait and see. I believe he'll send it back to me. But it
makes me excited.”
“But, Miss Doane,” said Dr. Eaton earnestly, “I want you to promise
me one thing. You must not be annoyed. If the word gets around that you
are 'easy' you'll be bothered to death. Now the next time that any one
comes claiming to be from your home town, and asks you for money, for
anything at all, just send for the police and have them arrested.”
“Oh, I'd hate to do that.”
“But you must, Miss Doane. You must protect yourself. Promise me
that no matter who it is, or what kind of a con talk they give you,
you'll send at once for the police.”
“Please promise this, Miss Doane. You must make an example, or
you'll have every confidence man in town working you. Will you do it,
no matter what or who it is? If you are asked for money, and you don't
know the man, have him locked up, and the story'll get around, and you
won't be bothered any more.”
“Well, if you think it necessary—”
“It is most necessary. You will promise?”
“Yes, I'll promise. I'll do it, though I hate to.”
“All right; I have your word for it. Now be sure to do it. Don't
believe a word they say, if you haven't known the person before. He's
sure to be playing the old game, and I don't want them to think they
can work you.”
“Well, all right. I'll send for the police if any one ever comes
again and says he's from Adams. I guess you are right. Now let's change
the subject. What did you come for particular, beside wanting to see
me, of course.”
“Well, I wanted to see you, first of all, just for the pleasure of
seeing you, and then I want to tell you about the mothers we've got by
Drusilla was interested at once.
“Did you git some? I told you we would. Did you advertise in all the
“Yes; every paper in New York City—Jewish, German, Bohemian,
Russian, everything; and I've found three mothers out of the bunch.”
“Well—well, I'm glad. Where are they, and who are they?”
“One of them is little John's mother. You remember you thought she'd
come and she did. The other two, we've had their stories investigated
and found them all right. One is an American girl about twenty years of
age whose husband deserted her when he couldn't get work, and she was
practically starving, and the other is a little Jewish girl, who works
in a flower factory.”
“The poor things! Did you bring them right up?”
“No; I wanted to talk with you first, and with Mr. Thornton—”
“Never mind talkin' with Mr. Thornton. This is my affair and not
connected with the estate, as he calls it. It ain't none of his
business, and you know what he'd say. I don't tell him more'n I have to
till it's done, then he can't do nothin' and he's learnt he's wastin'
his breath talkin'. You see he talks slow and I talk fast, and he don't
git much chance.”
The doctor laughed.
“I'm glad I don't have to talk this over with him, as he isn't what
you might call sympathetic.”
“Yes; he's cold. Sometimes I look to see him drip like an icicle
brought into a warm room, but I guess he's not so bad as he acts
sometimes. But who's the little Jew girl?”
“She is that little Jew kid's mother.”
“The baby with the black eyes and the big nose? Well, he ain't
pretty, but he's clever.”
“The girl couldn't make but five dollars a week and she couldn't pay
any one to keep the baby, and she had no people, so she gave it to you.
But she's a nice little thing, and willing to work and be with her
“That makes four nurses, and perhaps there'll be more answer. Now
you figger what I ought to pay 'em. I want to be just, but I ain't
goin' to be extravagant. And send them up to-morrow. And, Doctor, I
been a thinkin'. These mothers ought to be learnt somethin' so's they
can make a livin' when they leave here. They can't live here forever,
perhaps. Mis' Fearn was over here the other day and said somethin'
about tryin' to get a good sewin' woman—some one who could make
dresses in the house for the children and make over her old ones, and
do odds and ends that she can't get the big dressmakers to do. She says
she pays three dollars a day but that it's hard to get good ones. Why
can't we get some one to teach our mothers to be dressmakers—real good
ones—then they can always make a livin'.”
“That's an idea, Miss Doane, and a good one. We'll think it over.”
“Well, you figger it out; but we got enough to think about jest now.
We've got a good start—twelve babies and four mothers. I think I'll
stop with that. Twelve is a good number.”
Just then James came to the door with a disgusted look on his face.
He glanced from one to the other in perplexity. Drusilla looked up.
“What is it, James?”
James was plainly embarrassed.
“I'd—I'd—like to speak to Dr. Eaton. I think I'd better speak to
“What do you want to say to him you can't say to me? Has some one
sent for him?”
“Well, is it private? What you so nervous about, James? You look
“Say it! What is it?”
“Well, ma'am—there's another baby come.”
“What!” cried Drusilla, sitting erect in her chair.
“What!” exclaimed Dr. Eaton. “Where's the watchman?”
“I don't know, sir. The baby was found at the laundry door, and no
one was in sight, though we all searched the grounds and the roads.”
“Well, I swan! I thought we'd stopped. What'll we do with it?”
James said impressively: “We'd better send this one to the police
“James,” said Drusilla severely, “I've told you I won't send a baby
to the police station. Bring it up and let me see it!”
“But, ma'am, this is different—”
“It can't be much different. A baby is a baby—”
“But, ma'am—Dr. Eaton—I—”
“James, I said bring it up. Now bring it up at once, I say!”
James turned desperately and left the room. Soon he returned with a
clothes-basket and put it on the library table. Drusilla, Dr. Eaton and
John rose and went to the table and looked down in silence at the
basket's contents, with consternation plainly written on their faces.
There was a moment's silence, then Dr. Eaton burst into a roar of
laughter. He put back his head and laughed until the tears ran down his
face, and soon he was joined by John; but Drusilla was too amazed to
laugh. She looked down at the baby in the big clothes-basket, at the
round, black, wondering eyes that stared up at her from the coal-black
face of a negro baby. There it lay, the little woolly head on a clean
white pillow, a white blanket covering its little body. The baby looked
at the laughing faces above it, as if wondering why the sight of him
should cause such merriment; then, as if seeing the joke, opened his
little mouth, showing the tip of a red tongue and dazzling baby teeth.
It was too much for Drusilla. She sat down heavily in the nearest
“Well, I swan—I swan! A nigger baby!”
Drusilla went again to the basket, from which the squirming infant
was evidently trying to get out. She looked at him for a moment and
then turned to Dr. Eaton.
“Take him out. I ain't never seen a colored baby close.”
The baby was found to be a boy about a year and a half old. He was
not at all frightened, and stood up on his sturdy legs and tried to
make friends in his baby fashion, showing his white teeth and rolling
his round black eyes in a way that started Dr. Eaton and John off into
another paroxysm of laughter.
Drusilla looked at the baby; then at the two men. Then, as she did
not know what to do, she became exasperated.
“What's the matter with you two? Ain't you never seen a nigger baby
before? What you laughing at?”
The baby was trying to toddle across the floor. His toes struck a
rug and he fell, showing above his white socks a pair of little fat
legs that seemed to be made in ebony, so clearly were they in contrast
to his white clothing. Even Drusilla sat back and joined the men in
their merriment. The baby looked at them solemnly; then put his chubby
fist into his mouth and his face puckered up and great tears came to
his eyes. Drusilla was all kindness in an instant.
“You poor little mite! They shan't laugh at you—no, they shan't!
Come right here to Grandma—No, I can't be Grandma to a colored baby,
can I? Well, never mind, come here to me.”
She held out her arms to the weeping baby, and he came toddling to
her. She lifted him to her lap and cuddled him down against her breast.
“There, there!” she soothed. “Now you're all right. Well,” turning
to the men, “he feels just like any other baby, black or white.”
Dr. Eaton looked at the white head bent over the black one and again
he started to laugh, but Drusilla looked up with a slight flush on her
face and a sparkle in her eyes that plainly said that she had had
enough of laughter, and he stopped.
“What are you going to do with this one? Now we'd better send
for Mr. Thornton.”
Drusilla looked at him severely.
“Don't you be a fool, Dr. Eaton. I don't want Mr. Thornton to know
nothin' about this one. I'd never hear the last of it.”
“Well, then you'd better let me take him to the police station.”
“Yes—” hesitatingly; “I suppose so. But—” and she looked down at
the baby who was contentedly playing with the trimming on her dress—
“I jest hate to send a baby there.”
“I'll tell you what I'll do,” said Dr. Eaton. “There's a big colored
orphan asylum out on the Elpham Road. Let's telephone up there, and
I'll take it over myself.”
Drusilla hesitated again.
“Another 'home.' I hate to—”
“It's the only thing to do, Miss Doane. You can't mix the colors.”
“Well, perhaps you'd better.”
Dr. Eaton left the room, and returned after a few moments with a
shake of his head.
“No good! They say they're full. They can't take in another child. I
telephoned another one downtown that they told me of, and they say the
same thing. It seems there is a superfluity of colored babies just now.
I guess it'll have to be the police station.”
“What'll they do with him? If we can't find a place to-night, they
“No; perhaps not. But they'll keep him until they do find a place.”
“Well, if they can keep him, so can I. I'll keep him until we find a
place for him. Ring for James and Fanny and we'll put him to bed.”
James came and the little girl mother, and the baby was placed in
James's outraged arms.
“Now, James, don't drop him—he won't bite you. Take him to the
children's room; and you, Fanny, see that he has something to eat and a
bath. Now you be jest as nice to him as to the other babies. Give him
your baby's bed and take your baby in with you to-night.”
As James left the room with the baby in his arms, which were
stretched out as far from his body as he could carry them, and with his
head held disdainfully in the air, Drusilla sat back in her chair and
“Ain't James havin' new experiences? His back says, 'This didn't
never happen to me when I was in the Duke's house'!”
Dr. Eaton rose to go.
“I'll find some place to put him to-morrow, Miss Doane. It's good of
you to take him tonight.”
Drusilla went with him to the door.
“Good night, Doctor. Things do seem to be kind of comin' my way.
I've got Swedes and Dutch and Irish and Jews, and now a nigger baby.
It's a mighty good thing for me that the heathen Chinee is barred. Good
Drusilla waited several days for the return of the money that she
had loaned her visitor from Adams, and when it did not come she was
prevailed upon to write to the son of her old friend, Dr. Friedman,
asking him regarding the man. The doctor answered that there was no man
by the name of John Gleason in Adams; that the Spring Valley Stock Farm
was owned by a man named Gleason who had no brother; and that this
particular man had never lived in the small village, where every one
was known. Drusilla was thoroughly aroused. It was her first experience
with a confidence man. It hurt her pride, as she had said; but it hurt
her worse to know that people did such things.
“It jest destroys my belief in human natur', and I'll never trust no
one again,” she said to John.
It was only about a week after the receipt of the letter from the
doctor, when she was still smarting from her wounded feelings, that she
was told a clergyman wanted to see her personally. She found a quiet
little man, dressed in black.
“Miss Doane,” he said with a smile, “I am the Presbyterian clergyman
from Adams, your old home, and as I was in town I thought I would come
to see you.”
Suspicion jumped into Drusilla's old eyes.
“Won't you set down?” she said, rather coldly for her.
The stranger sat down.
“Did you take the place of old Dr. Smith?” Drusilla asked.
“Yes; he's had another call, to a higher land”—motioning upward—
“and I have his charge.”
The man chatted very intelligently regarding the people in Adams,
and Drusilla began to thaw. She forgot her other visitor in her
enjoyment of hearing the names of the people in her old church.
“Miss Doane,” the clergyman said finally, “we are in a little
trouble in our church, and I thought that you might help us.”
Drusilla stiffened at once.
“What can I do?” she asked.
“We are trying to start a little fund to take care of some poor
children of our parish, and as it is very hard to raise money in our
little village, I thought you might be willing to head our
subscription. I thought it better to come and see you personally
instead of writing you.”
Drusilla looked at him a moment and then rose.
“Will you excuse me a minute?” she said politely, and left the room.
She went directly to the butler.
“James, telephone for the police. There's another man in there from
Adams and I want him arrested.”
She left the astonished James to carry out her orders, and returned
to the room.
“You say you have some children in Adams without homes?”
“Not exactly without homes, but they are dependent upon the town for
support. An Irish family moved in and the father died and the mother is
ill, and we want part of the fund to help the family until the mother
is able to support her little family of six. We want to keep them
together—instead of putting them in asylums and separating them. And
there are two children who have lost both parents—at least the mother
is dead and the father cannot be found—and we must take care of them.
They are too small to work and we thought we could get some one to take
them by paying a small sum per week and—”
He quite likely would have enumerated the rest of the charges of his
parish if there had not been a discreet knock at the door, immediately
followed by James, announcing:
“The men you asked for, ma'am.”
Drusilla rose as the two police officers entered the room. She said,
pointing to the astonished clergyman, “I want you to arrest this man.
He is a confidence man.”
“What—what—” sputtered the clergyman.
“I want you to take him to the police station,” said Drusilla
“Do you make a charge, ma'am?” asked one of the officers.
“Yes. I don't know what it is, but I make it. Take him to jail.”
“But—but—” said the bewildered clergyman, “this is an outrage!”
“I don't care what it is, you go to jail. I promised the
doctor I'd arrest the next man who tried to git money from me by saying
he was from Adams. I don't believe you're a preacher; you don't look
The officers went up to the man, who was evidently struggling with
emotion, trying to find some suitable words to express his surprise and
“Come along with me,” said the officer gruffly. “Don't make no fuss;
it won't go.”
They put their hands on his arms and he struggled.
“Take your hands off of me! What do you mean? I tell you, I'm the
Reverend Algernon Thompson, of Adams.”
“Don't you believe nothin' he says,” insisted Drusilla. “Whoever
heard of a name Algernon! He looks much worse'n the other man
that was here. Just you take him along.”
Drusilla looked scornfully at the man, who was struggling with the
officers. They led him to the door, where he again refused to go, and
the policemen took him roughly by the shoulders and pushed him into the
hall. He struggled wildly, and his face became convulsed as he turned
“I tell you I'm the Reverend Algernon Thompson; and this is an
The officers shook him roughly.
“Oh, can the hot air. We're used to your kind. Come along.”
And the last Drusilla could hear was the wail of the clergyman: “I
tell you I am the Reverend Algernon Thompson—”
After the noise had subsided and Drusilla knew the man was gone she
went slowly upstairs to find John. He looked up from the book he was
reading and said quickly as he saw her flushed face:
“What is it, Drusilla. Has something upset you?”
Drusilla sat down wearily in a chair.
“Oh, John, it was another man from Adams. He said he was a preacher
this time, and I had him arrested. It's upset me awful. Ring for
William; I believe I'll take a glass of wine. I don't believe in
spirits, but St. Paul says there's a time for everything, and this is
Drusilla was silent as she sipped the wine; then finally she looked
up at John wistfully:
“John, do you think I'd ought to 'a' done it?”
“Certainly, Drusilla. The doctor told you to have any one arrested
who asked you for money, claiming to be from your old home. He said you
mustn't get the reputation of being easy, or you'd be bothered to
“Yes, I know; but then—”
“You did just right, Drusilla; so don't worry.”
“I hate to do it, but I suppose I must. He didn't look a bit like a
preacher, and he said his name was Algernon. He'd ought to be arrested
for the name if for nothin' else, hadn't he?”
“Well, it's all right. Now let's talk of something else. Let me read
Drusilla sat back in her chair.
“All right, John; read to me. I don't know nothin' that'll make me
quiet and sleepy so quick as being read to. I can sleep as easy when
you're readin' that poetry stuff to me as I can in my bed. Go on; it'll
caam my nerves.”
John read to her for half an hour, his voice having the desired
effect. Drusilla almost dozed; but when John raised his eyes and,
seeing hers closed, stopped reading, Drusilla opened her eyes quickly.
“I ain't all asleep, John, just half,” she said; and John laughed
and went on.
They were interrupted by James.
“Miss Doane, some one wishes to speak to you on the telephone.”
“But, James, let 'em talk to you. You know I don't never talk on the
“It is some one from the police station, ma'am, and they say they
must speak to you particular.”
“From the police station? Laws-a-massey! Well, then turn it on
She went over to the telephone table and sat down. Soon John heard:
“What's that you say?”
“Laws-a-massey, he's real!“
A murmur was heard from the telephone. Then Drusilla, excitedly:
“He has letters and cards that prove that he is the Reverend
Algernon Thompson, from Adams, and has given names in New York and you
found out he is real.”
Again the murmur.
“Wait a minute,” said Drusilla; and turned to John.
“John, I've done it! That man's a preacher, after all, and he says
he's goin' to sue me, and—and—John, what'll I do?”
John looked perplexed and ran his hand through his white hair.
“I'm sure I don't know, Drusilla—I'm sure—”
“What'll I do! What'll I do!” wailed Drusilla. “Just think of
putting a preacher in jail. What'll ever become of me!”
Here John had an inspiration.
“Drusilla, send for Mr. Thornton; he is a lawyer and he'll know what
Drusilla drew a breath of relief.
“John, that's the first glimmer of sense you ever showed, and it's
the first time I ever wanted to see that lawyer.” Turning to the
telephone she said: “I'll send for my lawyer at once and he'll know
what to do. Where's the man?”
After a moment: “I'll send a car down and get him. Have him come
here at once if he'll come.”
She left the telephone and turned a very scared face to John.
“John, I'm just a plain old fool. Send the car to the police
station, and tell Joseph to get that man if he has to tie him up! And
you go telephone Mr. Thornton to come here at once. Now he'll have a
chance to talk and I can't say a word.”
It was a very frightened and meek Drusilla that greeted Mr. Thornton
and Daphne when they came into the room.
“I came along, Miss Doane,” Daphne explained, “because Mr. Brierly
said you were in some trouble, and I thought perhaps I might help you.”
Drusilla laughed rather shakily.
“I'm afraid, Daphne, this is a case for your father. I've arrested
the wrong man.”
“What do you mean?” said Mr. Thornton quickly.
“I've got a preacher in jail—or he was there unless Joseph can git
him to come with him.”
Then she told the whole story. Mr. Thornton could not keep a twinkle
from his eyes as he listened. But he did not laugh; he saw that
Drusilla was too frightened and upset.
“Now what am I goin' to do?” Drusilla finished. “You must get me out
The lawyer thought a moment.
“The man wanted some money for some children, or the poor of his
parish. Perhaps we can arrange it. Money is a balm that'll soothe most
“Give him anything, anything!” Drusilla hegged. “I never thought I'd
arrest a preacher, and at my time of life. Poor man, and his name was
A very angry man was brought into the room, and was met by a
courteous lawyer; but Drusilla brushed him aside and went up to the man
and, laying her hand on his arm looked up into his face appealingly.
“I can't tell you how sorry I am! I don't know what to say or what
to do! I won't never forgive myself, even if you forgive me, which I
The man looked down at her and the angry flush left his face.
“I don't know what to say myself, Miss Doane,” he replied. “It's
rather a new experience for me, a police station—”
“Well, I'm so ashamed and so sorry I can't talk. Just set down and
let lawyer Thornton tell you all about it.”
The lawyer explained to him the circumstances of Mr. Gleason's
visit, and that Drusilla had received instructions to arrest the next
man who claimed to come from her former home.
“It was unfortunate for me that I happened to be the next man,” the
clergyman said with a laugh. “But I understand, and it is all right.”
Drusilla looked at him gratefully.
“You're a good man, if your name is Algernon, and if five
hundred dollars will help them children Mr. Thornton will give it to
you tomorrow. And now you'll stay here and visit me until you finish
your business in New York.”
The clergyman flushed, this time with pleasure.
“You are more than kind, Miss Doane. I believe I'd be willing to go
to the police station every day if I could help the poor of our little
town so easily.”
“It is all right then,” said Drusilla, “and jest you let me know
when you want things and you can always count on me, 'cause I'm so
relieved. But I know you're hungry. I'll have some supper brought up
here and you can talk with John. Are you goin', Mr. Thornton?” as the
lawyer rose. “Let Daphne stay a while with me. I want her to come to my
room and talk a while. I'm real upset and tired and I can listen to
Daphne without having to think.”
“That sounds as if I talked nothing but nonsense!” Daphne pouted.
Drusilla put her arm around the young girl.
“Never you mind, dear; I like your chatter, so come with me.”
And they went to Drusilla's room.
They drew up two easy chairs before the fire and as Drusilla settled
into the luxurious depths of hers she chuckled to herself.
“Five hundred dollars! I always knowed preachers was a luxury—but—
Well, talk to me, Daphne. What you been doin'?”
“I'm so glad to get a chance to talk with you, Miss Doane. I've been
intending to come over for a week, but I've been too busy. You know,
Miss Doane, I have a real love affair on my hands, and it's giving me
no end of trouble.”
Drusilla looked at her quickly.
“Not your own love affair, Daphne?”
Daphne flushed under the sharp gaze.
“No,” she said hastily; “Uncle Jim's.”
“I didn't know you had an Uncle Jim.”
“Oh, yes; Papa's younger brother.”
“Well, if he is like your father I should think he could manage his
own love affairs.”
“He is and he can't. He's just like father, only worse. He's so sort
of stiff and cold that he freezes people; but he can't help it. He's
been engaged to the nicest girl—Mary Deane. You know she lives
in the big house on the Denham road. She's the dearest girl, and I
adore her, although she's much older than I am. Oh, she's very old—she
must be thirty. Uncle Jim and she were to be married, and then all at
once she broke the engagement and went to Egypt. Uncle Jim would never
say why it was, and I didn't know until she came back last week, when I
found out all about it. She cried when she told me. She said he wasn't
human; that she couldn't pass her life with him, he's always so cold
and correct. She says he never unbends, sort of stands up straight even
when he kisses her. Yet I know she loves him; and Uncle Jim hasn't been
the same man at all since the engagement was broken.”
“What are you going to do about it? You can't make him over.”
“I know it; but if they'd only meet he might be different. She won't
come to our house for fear she'll meet him, and he is too proud to go
and see her. And I know they are just breaking their hearts for each
She was quiet for a moment.
“I wish I could find some way to have them meet accidentally.
“Let's make a scheme, Daphne. Your father is going to Chicago next
week, and he told me that his brother—I guess he means this Jim—
would take his place with me. Now, why can't I get in some kind of
trouble—that's always easy for me—and I'll telephone him to come over
right away, and then you come in by chance with this young lady. Tell
her that I'm a feeble old lady that needs some one to cheer her up.
Tell her anything that'll git her here.”
“She'll come. I've told her about you and she said she wanted to
come to see you.”
“It's easy then, and we'll trust to something turnin' up right.”
Daphne rose to go.
“You're a—a—brick, Miss Doane.”
Drusilla shook her finger at the girl.
“Young lady,” she said severely, “I know where you got that. Dr.
Daphne's pretty face flushed and she put her cheek against the faded
“We must not talk of—of Dr. Eaton. Father doesn't allow it, and—
and Dr. Eaton thinks I'm only a flighty little girl, who is never
serious, if he ever thinks of me at all—which I am afraid is not
often—” She was quiet a moment, her hand resting against the soft
white hair. “But—well, good night. I'll let you know when Mary will
come, and then you can get into trouble right away.”
“You trust me for carrying out that part of it. Good night, dear.”
The following Wednesday Miss Doane received a message to the effect
that Daphne and Mary Deane were going in to the matinee that day and
would stop to see her on their return. She passed the day wondering how
she could legitimately get Mr. James Thornton to stop on his way home
from the office; then Providence came to her aid, as it always did.
James brought her word that the chef wished to speak to her.
“What does he want of me, James?”
James coughed discreetly.
“I think you had better see him, Miss Doane.”
Drusilla looked at him sharply a moment.
“Well, send him here,” she said.
The chef came into the room. She looked at the fat, mustached
Frenchman for a moment before she spoke.
“What do you want to see me about, cook?”
The chef drew himself up.
“I wish to pay my compliments to Madame and say I can no longer
“You mean you want to quit?”
The Frenchman bowed.
“Speak English, cook. What did you say?”
“I said that Madame understands perfectly.”
“Why do you want to leave?”
The Frenchman drew himself up tragically. “I can no longer serve
Madame: it is not convenable to my dignity.”
“What's hurtin' your dignity?”
“It is not for me to cook for a lot of babies, and—and—a nigger
Drusilla looked at him silently for a moment.
“Um-um—I see,” she said. “You don't think you ought to cook for
babies. There ain't much cookin'; they're mostly milk fed now.”
“There is the porridge in the morning, and the soft-boiled eggs, and
“Oh, you object to cookin' eggs and porridge. It ain't hard.”
“It is not the deefeeculty; it is the disgrace. I am a great
artist— a chef—it hurts the soul of the artist to—”
“I don't want an artist in the kitchen. I want a cook. Artists paint
picters; they don't boil potatoes. What do you mean?”
“You do not understand, Madame. I am an artist; I have cooked in the
“Ain't this a good house?”
“It was, Madame; and I was proud to serve you until the house was
turned into an orphan asylum, a—a—home for children of the street,
Drusilla flushed suddenly.
“That'll do, cook. I've heard all I want. Perhaps you're a great
cook, but when you cook for me you'll cook for whoever is under my
roof. And I want you to understand that this is not an orphan asylum.
These children are my visitors; and so long as they're in my house,
they'll eat, and if you don't want to cook for them, well—you can cook
for some one else. You can go, cook. Mr. Thornton'll give you your
And Drusilla sat down a very angry and ruffled Drusilla.
“Orphan asylum, indeed! He'll be callin' it a home next. What does
anybody want with a man in the kitchen—especially a man who's got more
hair under his nose than on his head!”
She was quiet for a while; then she laughed softly to herself.
“The Lord takes care of his own. Now I been wondering all day how to
get that man here, and here's my chance. Jane, tell some one to
telephone Mr. Thornton's brother to stop here on his way from the
office. I want to speak to him particularly.”
It was nearly six o'clock before the lawyer's motor stopped before
Drusilla's door. When the lawyer came in Drusilla said to herself, “I
don't blame his girl none. He's worse'n his brother;” but she turned
smilingly to him.
“I'm afraid that I've called you in on business that'll seem mighty
little to a man,” she said; “but it's big to a woman. I'm changin'
Mr. Thornton smiled.
“I don't see where you require my services—”
“Oh, yes, I do. You know the expenses of this house are kept up by
the estate, and you pay all the servants. Now I don't like to send a
cook away unless I tell you. But this cook's goin' and he's goin'
“Isn't he a good cook?”
“Yes, I suppose he is; but, between you and me and the gatepost, I
won't be sorry to see the last of him. I guess he's a fine cook for
fancy cookin', but I been used to plain things all my life and I'm
tired of things with French names. When I have a stew I like to have a
stew, and I'd like real American vittles once in a while. Some good
pork and beans and cabbage that ain't all covered up with flummadiddles
so that I don't know I'm eatin' cabbage; an' I like vegetables that
ain't all cut up in fancy picters, and green corn on a cob without a
silver stick in the end of it. I liked his things real well at first;
but he can't make pie and his cakes is too fancy— and, well—he got
sassy and said he wouldn't cook for a lot of babies, and he's goin'.
You just be sure of that, Mr. Thornton; he's goin'.”
Mr. Thornton said dryly: “I presume it is a little lowering to the
dignity of a French chef to cook for a lot of waifs—”
“Now you be careful, Mr. Thornton, or you'll go trottin' along with
the cook. I'm a little bit techy about them babies—”
The man flushed and rose to go.
“I did not mean to offend you, Miss Doane. We are at your service.
What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to get me a woman cook—by the way, what did you pay
“I think, if I remember rightly, he receives a hundred and fifty
Drusilla sat back in her chair aghast.
“One hundred and fifty dollars a month for a cook! Elias Doane must
'a' been out of his head!”
“I think that is not an exorbitant price for a cook with the
reputation of this one. He was for many years with Mr. Doane.”
“To think of it costin' one hundred and fifty dollars a month before
you got anything to eat, and all give to that fat, lazy Frenchman! If
I'd 'a' knowed it, his things would 'a' choked me. And your brother
talked to me about the expense of keepin' my children! Why, you git me
a fat Irish woman, who likes real vittles, and who ain't above cookin'
oatmeal, and pay her about fifty dollars a month, and she'll suit me
and we'll be savin' enough to pay for the babies.”
She was quiet a moment.
“You talked kind of mean about my babies, and I know you was
thinkin' about my colored baby.” Then, looking at him suddenly: “Did
you ever see a colored baby when he's nothin' on but a little white
The lawyer shook his head stiffly.
“I'm afraid my duties have not called me in the neighborhood of
colored babies dressed only in white shirts.”
“Well,” said Drusilla, “you've missed a lot. But I'm goin' to begin
your education right away. It's just bedtime. You come with me.”
And before the astonished lawyer could voice his protest he was
being hurried down the hall and up the wide stairs to the big nursery,
Drusilla pattering along at his side, talking all the time.
“You know every one wonders why I keep this little Rastus—the
doctor give him that name—but I keep him just to make me laugh. Some
of the other babies make me want to cry, they're so sickly and puny,
but you can't cry at Rastus. He's goin' away next week to some people
who'll take him till he's old enough to go to that big colored school
that's run by Mr. Washington, where I'm goin' to see that he's made a
man of, and show people what's in a little black boy. But just look at
him—here he is!”
She led the way down the long room, lined with beds on each side, to
where a girl was preparing a very happy black baby for bed. As Drusilla
said, he was clothed only in a little white shirt; and as his plump
body lay over the nurse's lap he exposed to view a very fat little back
and a pair of dimpled legs that were kicking in evident enjoyment of
the rubbing his back was receiving at the hands of the nurse.
The lawyer stopped at the nurse's side and watched the baby for a
moment. Then he broke into a jolly laugh.
“You're right, Miss Doane. You can't help it.” And before he was
really aware of what he did, he bent over the squirming baby and gave
it a little spank.
The baby twisted an astonished face around the nurse's knee. Seeing
the man looking down at him, he puckered up his little face and the big
eyes filled with tears.
Mr. Thornton stooped quickly.
“You poor little tad!” he said. “Did I scare you? Here”—as the
wails became louder—“come here.” He took the baby into his arms and
tossed him high over his head. “It's all right, baby; I didn't mean
As he was holding the baby above him, laughing into the now laughing
face, a voice from the doorway said, “Jim.”
Mr. Thornton nearly dropped the baby in his astonishment. He looked
at the vision of the pretty woman standing in the doorway, and then
hastily deposited the baby in the nurse's lap.
“Mary!” he said. “Mary!”
She came to him, seeing nothing in the room but the man.
“Oh, Jim, you are human after all. You are, you are!”
The astonished nurse saw a woman folded in a man's arms and a woman
crying happily on a man's shoulders.
Drusilla watched them for a moment and then went to the door, where
Daphne was waiting. The girl took Drusilla's hand excitedly.
“It worked, didn't it, Miss Doane; it worked!”
They waited in Drusilla's room for quite a while before two
shamefaced but happy looking people appeared, hand in hand. Mr.
Thornton went up to Drusilla and took her hand in both his own.
“Miss Doane,” he said enthusiastically, “start all the asylums—red,
black, or yellow—that you want. Take the whole African race if you
want to, and I'll see that you get cooks enough for them.”
Mary Deane laughed—the laugh of a happy woman who has come into her
“And, Miss Doane,” she added, “we'll do better than that. Rastus
isn't your colored baby any more. He's Jim's and mine. We're going to
see to his education, for if it hadn't been for Rastus—well—perhaps
there'd never have been a happy Mary.”
“Or,” said Mr. Thornton with a glad laugh, “or a Sunny Jim.”
A light tap was heard on the door of John's sitting-room.
“John, are you still up? Can I come in?”
Before John could answer, Drusilla was in the room.
“John, I'm ashamed of you! Has this been goin' on all the time, and
I didn't know it. It's past twelve.”
John said apologetically: “It isn't late, is it, Drusilla? I didn't
think of the time.”
“Late! It's past twelve, I tell you, and you had ought to be in bed
gettin' your beauty sleep. Nights was made for sleepin', John Brierly.”
John shook his head.
“Oh, no, Drusilla; nights were made for reading. There is no joy
like a long quiet evening and Carlyle, for example, for company.”
“He couldn't be company for me at this time o' night. But you don't
ask me nothin' about my dinner party, my first dinner party, and my
John looked longingly at his book, then carefully placed a marker in
it and closed it.
“Now don't sigh, John. I'm goin' to tell you about it whether you
want to hear it or not. I know you'd rather read, but I been in society
and I must talk.”
“I'm only anxious to hear all about it, Drusilla.”
Drusilla pulled off her gloves and sat down in an easy chair before
“John, there's no more guile in you than in a stick of molasses
candy, but you're like a sermon, comfortin', if sort of uninteresting,
and I can talk at you if I can't talk with you. Ask me all about it,
git me started somehow. I'm as full of conversation as an egg is of
meat, but I don't know where to begin.”
“Did you enjoy the dinner?”
“Did I enjoy the dinner! That's like a man to think about the
vittles first. I never thought of them. They was numerous and plenty,
one thing after another and too many forks. I couldn't help wonderin'
how they ever washed all the dishes.”
“Where was it, Drusilla? I don't remember if you spoke of it to me.”
“John Brierly, you'll be the death of me yet. You don't think you
heard me speak of it, and I didn't talk of nothin' else for three days,
tryin' to make up my mind whether I'd go or not, only Mrs. Thornton was
so particular about me comin'.”
“Yes, I do remember hearing you speak of it. It was at the
“Well, it's about time you remember. Yes, it was a dinner dance—
whatever that is. There was about forty people to dinner and a lot of
young people come in afterwards to dance. I wish you could 'a' seen it,
“A butler about like James met us in the hall and we took off our
wraps in a room and went into the parlor. 'Tisn't as big as our'n and I
was a little late and they was all there, standin' around, and Mis'
Thornton introduced me to a lot of people, and then a man handed around
somethin' in glasses—cocktails I think she said; anyway it tasted like
hair oil—and little pieces of toast with spoiled fish eggs on 'em;
arid we et 'em standin' up. I thought I'd gag, but I said, 'Drusilla
Doane, be a sport and do everything that other people do.' And I done
it, although to-morrow I'll quite likely have to stay in bed. Finally
everybody give their arm to some one else, at least the men did, and an
old man come to me and I took his arm and we went into the dining-room.
There was five small tables and they was pretty with candles and
flowers and I had a little card at my place to tell me where to set.
The old man was so feeble he couldn't hardly push my chair in.
“John, I'm glad you ain't doddering. Let's never git doddering and
brag about our diseases. It seems that that's all some men have to brag
about when they git old, how much rheumatiz they can hold, as if it's a
thing to be proud of.
“I listened to that chronic grunter tell me his troubles for a
while, then I turned to the young man on the other side, who was one of
them shrewd-eyed business men; and I hadn't been settin' there five
minutes before I knowed that he had asked to set by me and that he had
schemes. Tried to git me interested in some business venture where they
would be able to pay about eight hundred per cent. I told him I hadn't
heard of nothin' paying eight hundred per cent, except guinea pigs or
rabbits, and I didn't want to invest in them, and after a while he saw
it wasn't worth while to try to git me interested in mines in Alaska or
coal fields in Ohio, so he kind of laughed and we got to be good
friends. He ain't bad, as he laughed when he saw it wasn't no use, and
it's a great strain on a person's religion to laugh when he knows he's
beat. Then lie told me who the people was and a lot about 'em, and then
they all got to talkin' and a woman was there who believed in women
votin' and being self-supportin' and not dependin' on their husbands,
and I said I thought a self-supportin' wife was as much use as a
self-rockin' cradle. They talked and argued but this woman was set in
her ideas, and you might as well try to argue a dog out of a bone as a
woman like that out of an idee once she's got it fixed in her head. I
don't like a woman with one idee; it's like a goose settin' on one egg.
They use up lots of time and git skinny and don't git much result after
“Then another man at the table who had a head three sizes too big
for him talked a lot of stuff I couldn't foller, and the man next me
said he was the brainiest man in New York. He looked as if he had
indigestion and he didn't eat nothin', and I couldn't help thinkin'
that a good reliable set of insides would be more use to him than any
quantity of brains, but I didn't say it.”
“I'm surprised you didn't, Drusilla.”
“What's that? Well, I guess I would if I'd a thought of it in time,
but I was interested in the talk about the 'new woman'—I guess that's
what they called her. I said I didn't believe too much in the
over-education of females. That I'd rather be looked down to in lovin'
tenderness than up to in silent awe, and that men can't love and wonder
at the same time. I don't think men want to set women so high up that
they're all the time wonderin' how she got there an' if they dare to
bring her down to their level. I said that it seemed to me that love
exchanged for learnin' was a mighty poor bargain for the woman if she
wanted happiness; and one of the women that set at the table—the kind
of woman that can't hold a baby without its clothes comin' apart—said
I represented the old school. That things was changed now; that
marriage was not the ultimate objective—es, that's what she said, the
ultimate objective of women. I asked her what was the ultimate
objective, and she said, 'the cultivation of her own individuality, the
freeing of her soul.' I asked, couldn't she do it just as well with a
man? and she said, no, that man impeded woman's progress. I said that I
guessed that most women who said that hadn't never had no chance to git
close enough to a man to have him git in her way. I said I'd seen lots
of women who said they hated men, but they generally hadn't had a
chance to find out whether they could love 'em. I guess I was like a
blind mule then, kicking out in space and hittin' something accidental,
'cause she got red and then I was sorry and I sort of tried to make it
up. I said, 'Of course there's lots of marriages that's mistakes,
'cause a lot of people git married like they learn a job, take about
three weeks to it, and that's the reason there's so many poor workmen
and poor marriage jobs, but marriage must be a pretty good thing after
all, 'cause I never saw a widow who wasn't ready to try it again.'
“They all laughed after that and they got real talkative and human.
One little woman was awful pretty, and, John, she had on the littlest
amount of clothes above her waist that I ever saw on a person outside a
bedroom. She said she envied me my motors and my money, and I laughed
and asked her if she envied me my seventy years too. She said, 'No,
but—' and I said to her, 'I know what you feel; I've wanted things
too; and it's just as much misery to want a motorcar as it is to want a
shirt.' One man there, who looked like a dried up herrin', laughed and
laughed and said that he hadn't laughed so much for years. I said that
it was good for him, and if he'd come and see me every mornin' I'd
agree to make him laugh once a day, 'cause if you don't laugh before
you die, you'll go out of the world without laughing, and you don't
know whether there'll be anything to laugh at in the next. He said he
was comin' to see me. Why don't you look jealous, John? Wait till I
tell you who he is. That big John Craydon, who owns all of America as
far as I heard. They say he's the hardest man in New York, and that
when he come within an inch of dyin' last year no one would 'a' cared
if he had 'a' come within an inch of bein' born, as he ain't done
nothin' but make money. I'm goin' to show him my babies, especially
Rastus, and I know he ain't hard. Any man that can laugh as hearty as
he did, if he only does it once a year, ain't got an iron heart.
“The old man on the other side of me didn't like Mr. Craydon. He
mumbled to me, 'What doth it profit a man to gain the whole world and
lose his own soul'; and I said it was accordin' to the size of the
soul, and then he quoted that old thing about it being easier for a
camel to go through the eye of a needle—you know the thing people who
ain't got money is always quoting about people who has. I said that,
according to Scripter, Heaven might look like a circus parade, it'd be
so full of camels; but I didn't have a chance to explain what I meant
and the women got up and went into the parlor, where we had coffee.
Pretty soon the men come in and we all went into the dancin'-room.
“And, John, I've had a revelation. St. John's was nothin' compared
to mine. A lot of young men come in, men with no chins and high
collars, and young girls that had ought to have had gimps put in their
dresses; and the way they slithered around that room hugging each
other—well, for once in my life, I couldn't talk. I just looked. It
wasn't only the young men with soft heads and loud laughs that danced.
By the way, they was some of them the descendants of the big men we
read about in the papers, and, between you and me, John, great descent
was what most of 'em was sufferin' with. But old men and women
danced—old men especially that had ought to been at home rubbin' their
backs with goose grease. I just thought as I saw them old men foolin'
around, 'It's hard for an old dog to learn new tricks, but an old man
hasn't got sense enough not to try.' And what do you think, one of them
young nin-com-poops come and asked me if I wouldn't like to turkey
trot. That's what he said, turkey trot. When I got my breath, I said,
'Young man, there's two things in life I ain't never prepared for.
One's twins, the other's to turkey trot —whatever that is—so you run
along to the chicken yard; you've mistook the place.'
“Then I moved over to a corner by some paam trees, as I was afraid
one of them old men'd come and ask me to bunny hug next, and I always
been respectable. As I was a settin' there, some one come and set down,
and I couldn't help hearin' what they said. He wanted to go home and
she didn't want to go, and he said he was tired and had to git up early
and that he'd been out four nights this week, and she said he was
selfish and didn't want her to enjoy herself, and they talked a lot and
then he got up in a huff and went away. I heard a little sniffle and I
looked around the paams and there set that pretty girl that got married
about three months ago and lives in the Red House. I smiled at her and
she stopped cryin' and tried to pretend she hadn't been, and then I got
up and went and set down by her and took her hand an' kind of patted
it, and let her dry her eyes. When she seemed better I said, 'Every
wise woman buildeth her own home, but the foolish one plucketh it down
with her own hands.' Isn't that what you are doin', my dear?
“She sniffed again and I thought she was going to begin all over,
but she didn't. She said, 'Bert used to love to be at dances with me,
but now he always says he's tired and wants to go home.'
“'Well, dear,' I said, 'you're his wife now, and it's different. He
can see you at home, and have you to himself. You're not just the girl
he dances with. The things a man wants in his wife ain't the things he
wants in the girl he just dances with, any more than the vittles he
wants for breakfast is like them he wants for dinner. It's all
different when you're married.'
“'But Bert is selfish; he isn't trying to make me happy.'
“'Does this give you happiness?' I asked.
“'Why, of course; it's so gay,' she said.
“'But is it happiness?' I asked again. 'Happiness and bein'
gay is different, and you don't need to go to things like this for
happiness. You find it at home if you stop huntin' for it outside. It's
like my specs that I go lookin' all over the house for and find up on
my forehead where they was all the time. Now, dear, don't make a
mistake and go fishing for happiness with a red rag instead of a real
live worm, and then think there ain't no fish 'cause they won't bite.
You got the right kind of bait in your pretty self, in your nice home,
and in that great big husband, who, a person can see as plain as a wart
on a white neck, is all over in love with you, and the sea'll be just
full of fish for you.”
“I patted her hand again, as I was afraid she'd think I was
interferin', but she didn't. She set quiet a while, then she squeezed
my hand, and I said, 'Now I'm goin' home. Git on your bunnet and find
your Bert and I'll drop you both at your house; and when you git home
git him something fillin' to eat and something he likes to drink, and
light his seegar for him and set down by the fire and tell him that
real hugs is better'n all the bunny hugs in the world, and you'll find
you won't be lonesome.'
“And she did, John; at least I took 'em home, and they held hands
all the way there, though they didn't know I saw 'em.”
“Well, Drusilla, you did have a nice time after all. I suppose
you'll be going out every night now.”
“John, you got more hair then sense. I'm glad I haven't died before
I seen this dinner dancin'; but it's like them spoiled fish
sandwiches—one taste's enough.”
One afternoon Drusilla was working in her corner of the greenhouse
transplanting lily bulbs. She did not notice the entrance of Daphne
until she heard the fresh young voice at her side.
“Good morning, Miss Doane. I have come on business. I am an agent to
enlist your services.”
Drusilla pushed her near-seeing glasses up on her forehead so that
she could the better regard the pretty face before her.
“Well, now, what company is hirin' you? They have a good agent. Is
it a book or a washin' machine?”
“Neither, Miss Doane. How shocking! I am working in a great cause—
the cause of the poor.”
“So—” said Drusilla. “What do you know about the poor?”
“Oh, I know a lot, Miss Doane. I am one of the volunteer workers in
a Settlement house in the slums.”
“What's that? I seem to disremember what I have read about such
things, if I have ever read about them.”
“A Settlement is a lot of nice people who go down to live among the
poor, and they have clubs where the boys and girls can come evenings,
and they have sometimes a kindergarten or a day nursery where the
mothers who go out to work by the day can leave their children while
they are away, and they give free baths and have a medical clinic. Dr.
Eaton gives his services to one twice a week, and there is a district
nurse, and—Oh lots of things are done for the poor in the neighborhood
of the Settlement house.”
Drusilla put down her trowel and looked interested.
“Do tell! How nice of 'em. Are they paid to do it?”
“Yes; the workers who live in the Settlement get a salary. But girls
like myself give a day a week, or every once in a while go there and
“What do you do?” asked Drusilla.
“I—I—teach sewing. I have a class.”
Drusilla looked at her a moment in astonishment.
“You teach sewing? You have a sewing class? I didn't
know you sewed.”
“I—don't—much, but I can do enough for a class like I have.
They're just making gymnasium suits, and we buy the pattern and I get
along some way.”
“Well, for a girl who has all her clothes made and keeps a maid to
sew on her buttons, I think it is very nice of you to learn girls how
to sew. You must be a great help in that work.”
“Now you're laughing at me, Miss Doane.”
“No, I'm not laughin'; but it seems to me—how many girls you got in
“I have ten.”
“How old are they?”
“About twelve to fourteen years.”
“When do you learn 'em?”
“Well—well! You must let me go down with you some day and see you
learn girls to make their dresses. I'd surely enjoy the sight.”
“That's why I came to you to-day. Our Settlement wants me to bring
Drusilla looked up inquiringly and a little suspiciously.
“Why do they want you to bring me down?”
Daphne said rather hesitatingly: “Well—they would like to interest
you in their mother's summer home.”
“They have a home in the country where they send some of the poor
mothers who live in the tenements and can't get away for the summer.”
“I s'picioned it was a subscription they want; but it sounds like a
good thing, and I'd like to know about it.”
“Won't you come with me to-day? We'll talk with Mrs. Harris, the
head worker, and she'll tell you all about it.”
“Well—I don't know—” looking at her plants. “I'd ought—”
“Oh, please come, Miss Doane. You haven't anything to do, have you?”
“I don't know as I have anything particular, though sence I
got these babies, my days is as full as a wine cup. But if you want
“That's right; I knew you would! Come right away—I must get to my
Drusilla wiped her hands on her apron and went into the house. Soon
she was ready and they were being whirled swiftly toward the East Side,
a part of New York that Drusilla had never visited. She was interested
in the women as they sat upon the tenement steps, and in the many, many
children playing in the streets. Spring was in the air, although it
could hardly be recognized here except by the people loitering in the
streets in order to get away from the crowded homes.
“What a lot of people!” said Drusilla. “Where do they all come
from— and the children! I never saw so many children in my life.”
“Oh, but you should see it in July and August,” Daphne laughed.
“Then it is crowded, and the people sleep on the fire-escapes
and even on the sidewalks in some of the smaller streets. It is so hot
in their stuffy rooms.”
Soon they drew up before the door of the Settlement, and were
received in the parlor by the head worker. Daphne left Drusilla, to go
to her sewing-class, and Mrs. Harris conducted Drusilla over the
Settlement. She was shown the kindergarten, the club rooms where the
boys and girls of the neighborhood danced in the evening, the clinic,
the public baths, and the play yard. Then she asked to be taken to see
Daphne with her sewing-class, as she could not get over the idea that
it was a joke of some kind for Daphne to teach sewing, knowing that the
girl knew nothing about the work. They found Daphne absorbed in cutting
out very full trousers and middy blouses by the aid of a paper pattern,
while eight girls were basting and stitching them. Drusilla watched
them for a while.
“Is this all the sewing-class you have?” she asked.
“It is all we have at present,” Mrs. Harris answered.
“Do the girls in the neighborhood, the grown girls, learn it?”
“No; they all work, and have only their evenings.”
“Why don't you have an evening class?”
“We have thought of that, but it is hard to get a girl like Daphne
to come down in the evening.”
Drusilla watched Daphne frowning over the intricacies of the
“Now I think it is nice of Daphne,” she said, “to want to come here
and help them girls learn to sew; but it seems to me that she'd be
doin' a good deal more good to the girls if she hired a woman, some one
who needed the work and knowed dressmaking, to come and really learn
the girls to make their dresses. Learn 'em from the start, from cuttin'
out the cloth to sewin' up the seams and makin' the last buttonhole.
Them girls don't want to learn how to make them big pants and that
shirt; they want to make their clothes—something pretty they can wear.
I think a lot of Daphne, but she'd be doin' more good if she hired some
one who knowed her business instead of tryin' to do somethin' she don't
know nothin' about. Quite likely it does her good, but so far as
I can see it don't do the girls much good.”
The head worker flushed, as did Daphne.
“We like to interest the girls from homes like Miss Thornton's to
come down and help the people less fortunate than themselves.”
“Yes, that's good too; interest them. I saw Daphne pay five dollars
for a box of candy the other day, and it's bad for her complexion.
Instead of buying them things let her hire some one, I say. She can
come just the same, but let a dressmaker or a sewing woman learn 'em to
sew; not a girl who ain't even sewed a button on her own clothes or
made a pocket handkerchief. And then she'd be helpin' the dressmaker
too, who might need the money. If you had some sensible sewing learnt
you might git some of the girls who work days to come in evenings and
learn, but no girl is goin' to waste her time fiddlin' around with
things like that, that they ain't goin' to use, or don't have no need
“But they do need them. They are gymnasium suits.”
“What's gymnasium suits?”
“Suits to take exercise in, physical exercise.”
“Do they need special clothes to take exercise in? What's the matter
with the clothes they got on?”
“They restrict the movements.”
“You mean they can't move their arms and legs. Fudge and
fiddlesticks! Put them girls out to play and they'd move their arms and
legs quick enough without fancy clothin'. If they can't move 'em with
the exercises you give 'em, give 'em other kinds. It seems to me that
if these people are as poor as you tell me, exercise ain't what they
want. They want to learn things to help 'em pay the rent at home, or
save a little money once in a while by makin' their things.”
Mrs. Harris was a little angry.
“I am sorry, Miss Doane,” she said stiffly, “that you don't approve
of our sewing-class.”
“No, I don't approve of it. With a teacher like Daphne it's about as
much use as squirtin' rose-water on a garbage tin. If the rest of your
work is like this, I guess I'll go home—”
She started to leave the room, but at the door she stopped.
“What's that Daphne was tellin' me about a home for mothers in the
The head worker's face brightened. Here she had something that would
appeal to the old lady, who was reputed to be very fond of children.
“I am so glad you came to-day. I can show you some of the mothers we
were hoping to take to the country. We want to enlarge our house, we
can only accommodate twelve mothers with their children, and we should
have a place for at least twenty-five, as we have so many
“How long do you keep 'em?”
“We try to give each mother a two weeks' vacation; and she brings
with her the small children she cannot leave at home.”
“I like the idee. I like children and I like mothers, and from what
I've seen it seems to me that it'd be heaven for these people to git
away from the noise for a while. It most drives me crazy to hear it for
an hour, and it must be awful to live with.”
“They get used to it; but they do need a change. Some of the poor
mothers are completely worn out and break down in the hot weather. If
they could get into the country, even for a short time, it would save
many a life.”
“Pshaw, is it so bad as that?” said sympathetic Drusilla.
“Yes; this year is especially bad. We had hoped to have the money to
build an additional wing to the house and take all our people; but we
have not been able to get the money, so we have to tell a great many
whom we have promised that they cannot go this year, and—I am afraid
it will be a great disappointment.”
Here an inspiration came to Mrs. Harris.
“By the way, Miss Doane, I was going this afternoon to tell one of
the mothers that she cannot go this year. Would you like to come with
me, then you can see for yourself how very much the place is needed.”
“I'd like to go,” she said.
The worker hesitated.
“You are not afraid of contagion?”
“There ain't nothin' catchin' in the house, is there? I don't want
to git the smallpox at my time of life, or the mumps—”
Mrs. Harris laughed.
“No, nothing as bad as that; but the tenements are not overly clean,
“Pshaw, I don't care about that. If they can live in 'em all the
year, I guess it won't hurt me to visit 'em for ten minutes.”
They entered the motor, surrounded by a crowd of noisy children who
clung to the footboard and hung on the back and made themselves into a
noisy escort until the tenement was reached. There Drusilla and Mrs.
Harris climbed three flights of stairs. In answer to the knock, a soft
voice said, Entre lei, and they stepped into a room that was
evidently the kitchen, living-and dining-room.
Near the only window in the room was a kitchen table. Around it sat
the father, the mother, a little boy of nine, two younger girls, and a
little round-faced boy of four, while two other children, mere babies,
were playing on the floor. The people at the table were sticking
marguerites onto wreaths, about ten flowers to a wreath. The flowers
were in bundles stuck together, and the little boy took them apart and
handed them to the other children, who took yellow stems from other
bundles, dipped them into paste, then into the center of the marguerite
and handed the finished flower to the father or mother, who placed it
in position on the wreath. They worked quickly, showing long practice.
The mother gave chairs to her guests; then went back to her work.
“I have come, Mrs. Tolenti,” Mrs. Harris said, “to tell you about
“Si,” and the dark Italian face brightened. “I ready go any day.”
“I am sorry, awfully sorry, but we have no place for you this year.”
The Italian woman looked at the speaker uncomprehendingly.
“I am sorry,” Mrs. Harris began again, speaking slowly, “that we
cannot take you. We have not been able to enlarge the house, and there
were so many applications ahead of you.”
The woman looked at her blankly for a moment, then Drusilla saw that
she understood. Her mouth drooped and quivered, her hands faltered in
their work, but only for a moment. Mechanically she put the flower into
the paste, then placed it on the wreath. She worked quietly for several
“I hope next year, Mrs. Tolenti—”
But Mrs. Harris was interrupted.
“I no wanta next year. I wanta dis year, I wanta now! I
tired. I wanta see da country. I wanta see da flower, not dese tings—I
hata dem.” She gave the flowers in front of her a push. “I hata dem! I
wanta see da rosa on da bush, I wanta see da leaves on da tree. I wanta
put ma face in da grass lak when I young girl in Capri. I wanta look at
da sky, I wanta smell da field. I wanta lie at night wi ma bambini and
hear da rain. I no can wait one year, I wanta go now!”
“But, Mrs. Tolenti,” Mrs. Harris said, secretly a little elated at
the storm she had raised, which she could see was impressing Miss
Doane, “I had no idea you felt it so strongly—”
“Yes,” the low voice continued, “I feel it here,” pointing to
her breast. She was quiet for a while, then went on in the low,
monotonous voice of the desperate poor. “This winter ver had. My man no
work. Sometime go wood yard, but only fifty cents one day. He walk,
walk, walk, looka for work. We must eat, we must pay rent. We all work
maka da flower, but no can maka da mon. Fi' cent a gross for da wreath.
It taka long time to maka one dozen wreath, and only git fi' cent. No
can live. I canno' live every day, every day da same. Nine year I stay
here maka da flower, always maka da flower. Nine year I no go away from
dis street. But dis year I tink I go to da country. When I set here
maka da flower I say three mont more, two mont more, one mont more, den
I see da grass, I hear da bird, I shuta ma eyes, I tink I again in my
Capri—Oh, Dio mio!” She turned suddenly and let her face fall upon her
arms, stretched out on the pile of flowers before her. “Der ain't no
God for poor man, der ain't no God!”
Mrs. Harris looked at her sadly and said nothing; but the tears were
streaming down the face of Drusilla and she impulsively rose from her
seat and coming to the mother, put her arms round the shaking
shoulders, and said quietly:
“You certainly shall go to the country with your babies. You
certainly shall go. Don't think a moment again about it.”
The woman did not raise her face nor seem to understand; dry sobs
shaking her worn and wasted body. She seemed utterly broken and
Drusilla turned to Mrs. Harris.
“Will you make her understand?”
The worker said something to the father, and he nodded his head and
they went from the room. Drusilla stopped at the door to take a last
look around the room, at the wondering faces of the children who
watched her with great black eyes, but who did not stop their fingers
from separating and placing the flowers together again. She saw the
babies on the floor playing quietly, as if they too were oppressed by
the tragedy that was always before them, and then she looked at the
blank wall outside the window, and it seemed to her that the lives of
these hopeless poor were like that window, only a blank wall to face.
They arrived at the Settlement house and Mrs. Harris ordered tea to
be brought to her sitting-room. She was delighted at the effect of her
visit, and her imagination ran riot in the thought of the additions
that might be made to the summer home for mothers.
Drusilla was quiet during tea, but when it was carried away she
“Now tell me about your home. You say you want to make an addition,
add an ell or something.”
“Yes; we think by adding a wing we can double our capacity. But I
have the plans of the new work, and a picture and plans of the present
She brought a book of views with an architect's drawings of the new
hoped-for wing, and the pictures and plans of the present house.
Drusilla drew her glasses from her bag and bent over the new plans;
then she turned her attention to the house now in use.
“You say this is where they are at present? Which is the rooms you
use for the mothers?”
The worker pointed them out.
“We have six beds in this room, and four beds in this, and five beds
in this room. In this long room we can put about twelve cots for the
children that do not have to be with their mothers during the night.
This is the dining-room; this the living-room.”
Drusilla caught sight of some rooms upstairs.
“What's these three rooms. Who're they for?”
“Those are for the workers who go out for the week-end.”
“What do you mean by the week-end?”
“From Saturday to Monday.”
“You mean the women who work here like yourself go out there and
spend Saturday and Sunday?”
“But why do you need three rooms?”
“Well, you see there are a great many workers here, and they take
turns, and often three or four of them go out.”
“They each have a room to themselves?”
“Yes, you see they are in the noise here all the week, and they must
have a place where they can rest and have quiet.”
Drusilla looked at her sharply.
“What do you do with the rooms the rest of the time?”
“They are vacant.”
“You don't put none of the mothers in 'em?”
“Certainly not. We could not use them if they had been occupied by
the class of people we send out.”
“Why don't you double up when you go out, and not take so much room?
You could put four beds in that room and all be together and use them
other rooms for mothers.”
“That would be hard on our workers. They like their privacy. And
then we would not like the mothers and their children so close to us.
They would disturb us and we could not get the rest we need.”
Drusilla was quiet for a moment, drumming lightly on the table with
“I don't see how you can rest or sleep at night with a cry in your
ears like that I jest heard from that mother. I'd sleep on a board by
the side of the fence to let her get a chance to 'put her face in the
grass' as she says. How can you talk about privacy and quiet when you
see such misery and unhappiness as that I jest saw? No, don't stop
me—” as she saw Mrs. Harris raise her flushed face and open her lips
as if to speak—“I'm all wrought up. I'll hear that mother's cry and
see her poor body bent over that table, and those babies settin' there
workin' when they ought to be out playin' as long as I live. And you
see them and hear them every day and yet can talk about havin' to have
quiet and privacy! And you take the three best rooms in a house that's
supported by people who think they are giving some poor Italian family
an outin' in the country! You could all go in one room and that would
mean that five or six more mothers could go; the woman we left up there
could go—instead of keeping the rooms for women who have a nice place
like your'n here.” She looked with scorn around the cozily furnished
room. “And you keep them for only one or two days a week! I can't talk,
I'm all wrought up.”
Drusilla sat back in her chair and fanned herself with the book of
The worker was aghast. She had not thought of any possible outcome
except the one for which she had been planning.
“But you see, Miss Doane, when we have a wing—”
“I'd 'a' give you a wing, or two wings, or a whole batch of wings,
if I hadn't seen them three rooms. How'd I know that you wouldn't take
the best rooms for the rest of your workers; or perhaps your cook might
need rest or privacy for a part of the week. No—” shaking her old head
vigorously—“I'll build my own wings where I can watch 'em.”
She rose then.
“I must be goin'. Will you send for Daphne? I want to think about
what I can do for that family. I'll give her my own room if I have to,
but she's goin' to the country!”
Daphne came in soon, and looked quickly at Drusilla's flushed,
“Did you have a nice time, Miss Doane? Isn't it a wonderful work?”
“Yes, I had a lovely time, and I learnt a lot. Thank you so much for
your tea, Mis' Harris. I'm real glad I come.”
And before the chagrined hostess could find words in which to try to
rectify her mistake, Drusilla was in the motor.
Daphne looked at the angry old lady curiously.
“Weren't you interested, Miss Doane? Aren't you going to help the
Settlement? They need money so badly for their summer home—”
“Now, Daphne, don't talk to me about the summer home! You know we
got a big lot of things and people that always is asking me for money.
I git a heap of letters every morning from preachers, and charity
workers and beggars and poor people, and people who are trying to make
a fool of me, and git my money. I guess there ain't a person in New
York or an institution that's got a want, but they feel that it won't
do no harm for to try me.”
“Why, I didn't know you were bothered. Why don't you have them all
sent to Father?”
“Humph—mighty little attention they'd git. No, I go over 'em all
myself, with Dr. Eaton. You didn't know he was my private advisor, did
you? He's a fine young man and he's got a head on his shoulders; and
him and me go over all the letters and them that he thinks that is
honest, he sees, and then he tells me what he thinks we had better do.
He's got sense and don't let me git foolish, because sometimes the
letters or the cases is so pitiful that I can't help cryin', and
generally them's the ones he finds is no good. I been visitin'
institutions with him, orphan asylums, and rescue homes. We got a lot
of new babies and their mothers comin' to the house next week; we got
them from the hospitals. He's workin' out a plan for me, and now I want
to talk to him about them mothers and the country. We are going by his
office, as I can't wait until he comes out to-night.”
“We might take him out with us.”
“That's a good idea, Daphne. You go up to his office and tell him to
come down an we'll take him home. I want to talk and he can stay to
“Can't I stay too—” shyly said Daphne, slipping her hand into
Drusilla looked down at her and laughed.
“No, you can't. Your father wouldn't like it, and besides if you are
there the doctor won't talk sense. He'll jest set and look at you.”
Daphne laughed happily.
“I wish I thought he liked to look at me, but—”
“Well—he doesn't ever seem very anxious to see me. He's invited to
lots of places where he knows I will be, and he doesn't come.”
“You mean dances and things like that. Laws sakes, Daphne, ain't he
got nothin' better than to go to dances and daddle around the room with
a fool girl—”
“But I'm not a fool girl.”
“No one would know it by your actions sometimes.”
“I guess you are right, Miss Doane. I do act as if nothing were
worth while but having a good time.”
“Yes; I seen a lot of your friends and I often think that a young
man's takin' a lot of risk by marryin' one of you unless he's got
nothin' to do in the world but to go to parties and to make money to
buy you clothes and motorcars. But never mind—here we are. You go
upstairs and get the doctor. Tell him I want to talk to him
Daphne was gone longer than was actually needed to go to an office
and fetch a man to the motor car, but Drusilla only smiled when they
“Did we keep you waiting? I am so sorry,” murmured Daphne.
“Yes, you look worried to death; but I won't scold you. You don't
git much chance to talk alone together, and I suppose you wanted to
discuss the latest improvements in medicine. It's a big subject and
would take time.”
“Oh, no, we didn't talk at all—the doctor—was busy—”
The doctor laughed.
“What is it you want to see me about, Miss Doane?”
“I want to talk to you about mothers and their babies. I'll tell you
all about it after dinner. Daphne's goin' home and you and me and
John'll set down and talk it all over. John ain't no good; he ain't
what you call sensible, but he's comfortable. And I got some new things
on my mind.
“Yes,” broke in Daphne. “Miss Doane has been visiting our
The doctor smiled.
“What do you think of it?”
Before Drusilla could reply, Daphne said: “What do you think Dr.
Eaton calls them, Miss Doane? It's dreadful. He calls them the 'decayed
gentle ladies' refuge.'“
The doctor flushed.
“Do you?” queried Drusilla, interestedly. “Why?”
“Well—” the doctor said rather apologetically, “perhaps I
shouldn't; but most of the settlements that I know are filled with
workers who are charming women, too good to be stenographers or clerks
or housekeepers. They come to the settlements, where they receive a
good salary and keep their social position, which they feel they could
not do if they worked. You see it's rather a fad to be a social
settlement worker, and most of the women couldn't make their living to
save their soul at work that really took trained brains or executive
“Do tell!” said Drusilla. “I kind of thought something like that
when I saw Mrs. Harris, but she seemed to be real pert.”
“Oh, I am only generalizing. Some of them, the heads especially, are
competent women, but the great average—” and he spread his hands out
“Well, anyway, Dr. Eaton—you remember that big blue pencil that we
use to draw across the names that ain't no good?—I got a new name
to-day to add to that list—settlements—and I want to git home and
sharpen the pencil.”
Drusilla had one neighbor whom, to use her own words, she “couldn't
abide.” Miss Sarah Lee lived across the road from her, in a small house
left her by her father. This old man had also left her money enough to
live in a modest way, and an unkind Providence had left her high and
dry on the matrimonial shores, and she was embittered. She had been
born and reared in Brookvale and had seen the other girls married and
settled in their homes, with their children growing up around them. She
had tried for years to get a husband, but finally, at the age of
thirty-eight, had given up the fight; and instead of sharing in the
happiness of her lifelong neighbors, she had drifted into being the
neighborhood gossip, picking flaws in everything and searching with
microscopic eye to find the failures in the lives of those around her,
trying to find satisfaction in her unmarried state by seeing only the
darker side of the matrimonial adventures around her. If a man came
home late after dining well but not wisely with his companions, be sure
Sarah Lee heard of it. She would take her sewing and go to some
neighbor and say in her softly purring voice, “Isn't it too bad that
Mr. Smith neglects his wife so dreadfully, and it is shocking the way
he drinks. Now the other night, etc., etc.,” until her garrulous tongue
would make a great crime of perhaps only a small indiscretion. Drusilla
had been a joy to her, as she was new in the neighborhood, and she
regaled her with all the gossip, much to Drusilla's disgust and
discomfiture; but she was too kindly to be rude to the bitter-tongued
woman, who was the only one of her neighbors who “ran in” or who
brought their sewing and sat down for a “real visit.”
One morning Drusilla was sitting in the sun parlor, looking at a
great box of baby clothing that had been sent her from the city, when
Miss Lee came in. She had her tatting with her and Drusilla saw that
she was in for a visitation. She tried to interest her guest in the
wonders of the baby frocks, but Miss Lee only shook her head and would
not notice them.
“I don't care for children nor their clothing, Miss Doane, and I can
never see how you care to burden yourself with all those waifs at your
time of life. Now I, if I had your money, would enjoy myself.”
“But I am enjoying myself,” said Drusilla. “Why I take more comfort
in them babies than I've ever had in all my seventy years.”
“But they are such a care, such a bother.”
“Bother, my aunt!” said Drusilla emphatically. “They ain't no
bother. They give me something to think about. Now, look at these
clothes. I been all mornin' lookin' at 'em and sortin' 'em out. Look at
that petticoat. See how soft and warm it is. I wish I'd made it myself.
I can sit here and imagine how some mother'd feel makin' a petticoat
like that fer her baby. I'm goin' to buy a lot of cloth and git some
patterns and let the mothers make 'em themselves. When it's a little
warmer they can set under the trees and sew while the babies is playin'
“But the mothers you have here—will—do you think that class—those
kind of mothers will care to sew?”
Drusilla flushed and an angry gleam came into her kindly eyes.
“Sew? Why shouldn't they sew, and what do you mean by that class?
All the mothers I got here seem jest like any other mothers.”
“We must admit,” went on the refined, querulous voice, “that they
are not the usual mothers—with husbands—”
Drusilla's eyes distinctly darkened, and the flush deepened.
“Never mind about their husbands. We don't need 'em to sew—and a
mother's a mother, and she likes to make things fer her baby.”
Miss Lee noted the flush and changed the subject.
“I hear you are going to take some Italians and their children here
for the summer.”
Drusilla's eyes lighted up, and the angry gleam fled instantly.
“Now, how did you hear that?”
“It's all over the neighborhood. And—”
“Is it? Then I suppose I might as well let the neighbors git it
direct. Yes, I been visitin' places where I've traipsed up and down
stairs till I'm most knee sprung, but I've learnt a lot of things, and
sense I've seen how some of 'em live, I couldn't sleep nights unless I
done somethin' fer 'em; and givin' a mother and her babies two weeks in
the country is the least I kin do. Why, I look at all this grass, jest
made fer babies to roll on, and I see the trees that ain't doin' what a
tree should do unless it has some one under it, and I lay awake nights
to plan things; and Dr. Eaton don't git no time to see his patients, I
keep him so busy. Him and me's been goin' over the house and there's
twelve spare bedrooms goin' to waste besides the settin'-rooms that's
jined to 'em. And we was talkin' about the big armor room, that place
with the tin men and horses. Now, I don't care much fer tin men,
although John moons over 'em a lot, but there's a lot of people who
like to look at 'em, and don't git a chance' cause they're shut up here
doin' no good to no one. Dr. Eaton says that the Metropolitan Museum in
the city'd be glad to have 'em as a loan, and then everybody who likes
such things could go and see 'em, and I can make the room into a big
playroom or day nursery, as folks call it.”
Miss Lee looked up, horrified.
“Do you mean to say that you are goin' to spoil this beautiful house
and these beautiful grounds?”
“Spoil 'em? How'll it spoil 'em? They're goin' to waste as it is.”
“Why, having that class of women in your house, and the children on
the lawns, will certainly take away from their artistic beauty.”
“Will it? Then it'll have to be not so artistic and more useful.
Nothin' ain't beauty unless it's doin' something fer somebody, and God
didn't intend no sixty acres of His land to be lyin' here jest fer me
and a lot of rich people to admire, when women and children are pantin'
fer air in hot tenements. And as fer the house, land knows it's big
enough, and I feel like a lone pea in a tin can shakin' around loose in
it, and I won't never need to see no one unless I want to. But I want
to see 'em, I want to see life around me, and life that's bein' made a
little happier because of Drusilla Doane. What do you suppose God give
me all this big place fer, and all the money, if it wasn't to use fer
“What shockin' ideas you have, Miss Doane, to bring God into the
subject! You are most sacrilegious, dear Miss Doane.”
“Yes, I guess I am; most people seem to be afraid to mention Him.”
“But the neighbors are feeling very indignant that you are turning
the show place of the country into an orphan asylum and a mother's
Drusilla looked up quickly, as word had come to her of her
“I don't see that it's none of their concern,” she said.
“But, you see, it lowers the value of their property.”
“Let 'em move away.”
“Oh, but they can't.”
“Well, let 'em stay.”
“But it's very annoying to see a lot of dirty children.”
“They won't be dirty children, and the neighbors don't need to look
over the hedge if they don't want to. It's high enough.”
“I am just telling you what they say, Miss Doane. There was a
meeting the other day of the people of Brookvale, and they decided to
appoint a committee to wait upon you and express their disapproval of
your actions, and request you to change your plans in some way.”
Drusilla looked over her glasses.
“You don't tell me!” she ejaculated. “When be they comin'?”
“Mr. Carrington, the chairman of the Committee, is coming to see you
to-night, I am told.”
“He lives in the big gray house near the river, and he feels very
strongly on the subject.”
Drusilla said with asperity: “Well, he'll feel stronger when he
Miss Lee felt that she had gone far enough on that subject, so she
“Poor Mrs. Carrington! They feel very bad about children since they
lost their little boy about a year ago.”
“How did they lose him?”
“He died, and they have never recovered from the shock.”
“If they lost their child, I should think they'd want to see other
children happy, then. They must he queer people.”
“It has changed them a great deal, as sorrow often does.”
“It hasn't changed them the right way, as true sorrow does. What've
“Mrs. Carrington—she was Elsie Young before she married Robert
Carrington—is a very beautiful woman, and she was wrapped up in her
boy. But since his death she has given herself wholly to society, and
they say—now of course I don't know how true it is, but they say
—that she and her husband have grown apart since the child is gone. He
kept them together, and now—well, she simply lives for amusement.
And—now, of course I don't say it is true—but I do know that she is
going to Europe in the summer and they say—that is the ladies who know
her well—that it means a separation. She is going to get a divorce in
Drusilla put down the dress in her hand.
“You don't tell me! Just because she lost her baby! Why don't she
have more? Lots of people have lost babies, but it ain't cause for
divorce. It'd ought to bring 'em closer together.”
“Yes,” sighed Miss Lee; “but it hasn't in this case. They've just
grown apart. They are never together. She goes her way and he goes his,
and their paths never seem to meet. It is very sad, because she was
such an exceedingly fine girl. So many marriages end unhappily.”
“I guess if they was poor people and had to work or if she had to
git the dinner for her man and wonder if he liked chicken with
dumplings better'n with saleratus biscuit, she wouldn't find time to
want to go to Paris. The trouble with the rich women around here is
that they are thinkin' too much of how to pass the time, instead of
doin' somethin' for their men.”
“But what can they do? They all have servants to do the work for
them. You can't expect women like Mrs. Carrington to cook.” And
Miss Lee plainly showed what she thought of a woman who cooked.
“No, I suppose they can't cook; but a man's a man, and he likes to
feel that his woman is thinkin' about him and what he'll eat, and not
leave it all to a servant. A man's like a baby: he wants a lot of
attention, especially about his vittles. Now I know John don't like
some things and he does like others, and I see he gits 'em; and I know
he likes to smoke just as soon as he's done eatin', and I see that his
pipe and tobacco is put where he can reach it when he's havin' his
coffee. It ain't much, but it tells him I'm thinkin' about his comfort,
and men like their comfort in their own way.”
Miss Lee was quiet a few moments.
“You—you are speaking of—of—this old gentleman who is living
Drusilla looked up suddenly.
“John ain't so old. He's only two years older'n me, and I don't call
myself old yet—unless it's to git me out of doin' somethin' that I
don't like to do, like makin' calls.”
“Is—is Mr. Brierly a relation of yours?”
“No, John ain't no relation; he's just a friend.”
“Is he—is he making you a long visit?”
“I hope so. He's goin' to live here always with me if I can make
Again Miss Lee tatted industriously. Then she looked up with what
she tried to make a most friendly smile.
“Now you know, Miss Doane, I never gossip, but I am a friend
of yours and I think you ought to be told. The neighbors think it queer
that you have this man live here, who is no relative of yours.”
“How's it queer?”
“Well, it's unconventional, to say the least.”
“What do you mean by unconventional?”
“I don't know how I can say it so that you will understand. Not
quite proper, you know.”
Drusilla sat back in her chair. A bright spot appeared on her faded
cheek and there was an ominous light in her eyes.
“So my neighbors think I'm improper! Well, that's news and I'm glad
to hear it. I've always wanted to do something unconventional, as you
call it, but I ain't never had no chance. I always had to do what was
expected of me. I had to live a life just about as broad as a needle,
just because I had to make my livin' and couldn't afford to do nothin'
that'd be different from what other folks done. But now I got a chance,
and I'm glad I ain't too old yet to shock my neighbors. I'd keep John
now if I had to tie him in his chair.”
Miss Lee saw the light in the eyes, and hastened to say:
“Now, please, dear Miss Doane, don't think that I am blaming you. I
understand perfectly—perfectly. I just feel that you ought to
know what is being said.”
“You're real kind, Miss Lee. People won't miss what's bein' said
about 'em if you don't git paralyzed in your tongue.”
Miss Lee flushed and gathered her threads together.
“Well, my intentions are always of the best, I assure you. I must be
going. I see my maid talking to one of your gardeners. It must be
“Yes, I'd stop it if I was you. She might be enjoyin' herself.
Good-by. And when you stop at your next place, tell 'em that I'm
waitin' for that Committee, and that I'm enjoyin' John Brierly's visit,
and that he's goin' to live here, and so's my babies, and that they
don't need to know what's goin' on in my grounds if they don't stretch
their necks to see over the walls when they ride by. Good-by.”
Drusilla watched the woman as she went down the road and as she
disappeared she heaved a sigh.
“Well, the Lord sendeth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed—I guess
I'll go see John.”
She went up to the small library where she knew she would find him
poring over a book.
John looked up as she entered the room, and Drusilla sat down in a
chair and looked into the fire, as if seeing pictures there. John went
on with his reading, but finally, seeing Drusilla looking at him
intently, he spoke.
“What is it, Drusilla?”
Drusilla said softly: “John, do you remember when we used to walk
down Willow Lane in the moonlight, and one night some of the neighbors
saw your arm around me and they went to mother and said we was carryin'
on and it ought to be put a stop to? Well, the neighbors say we are
carryin' on again.”
John closed the book in his hand.
“What do you mean, Drusilla?”
“The neighbors say we are carryin' on. They think that because you
ain't a relation that's it's unconventional, them's her words,
unconventional that you stay here.”
A pained look came into kindly John's eyes.
“Why, Drusilla, I hadn't thought of that. Perhaps I'd better go.”
Drusilla reached over and patted his hand.
“Just you set right still, John Brierly, and don't get excited. I
ain't felt so young sence mother scolded me for walkin' out with you.”
She laughed a little happy laugh. “Why, it takes me back fifty years!”
“Oh, Drusilla,” murmured John. “If it makes you talked about—”
“Makes me talked about! Why, who'd 'a' thought when Mis' Fisher come
to mother when we was young and said that our carryin's on was
disgraceful, that in fifty years another Mis' Fisher-kind would say the
same thing. Oh, John, why don't you laugh?”
“I don't see anything to laugh about, Drusilla.”
“You never had a sense of humor, John; but you was born without it.
But, I tell you, it makes me young again. Why, it makes a woman old to
feel she can do just as she pleases and not git talked about; and I
feel I ain't got one foot in the grave to know that I can still be
carryin' on—Oh, I guess, I'll go and put on my new dress that's just
come home. I ain't seventy—I'm still a girl!”
And, chuckling to herself, she went out of the room, followed by
John's wondering eyes. He sat quietly a moment, then went back to his
book, feeling that woman's reasoning was far beyond his ken.
That night, as she and John were sitting down to their seven o'clock
dinner, a frightened nurse came running in.
“Oh, Miss Doane,” she said, “one of the babies is very sick. He
don't seem able to breathe.”
Drusilla put down her napkin and started immediately for the
nursery, where she found one of the younger babies struggling for its
breath, evidently in the earlier stages of pneumonia. She looked at it
a moment, then said:
“Now you git one of the babies' bathtubs filled with hot water and
I'll be back in a minute. Have some one telephone for Dr. Eaton.”
She hurried to her rooms and put on a big white apron, then to the
linen closet and got a piece of white flannel, and was just starting
for the nursery again, when a card was brought her. She read on it:
“He's part of the Committee,” she said; and as she passed through
the hall she went up to him.
“You're Mr. Carrington,” she began abruptly.
“I'm real glad to see you. I know what you come for, but I ain't got
time to talk now. You come with me and we'll talk afterwards.”
And before the chairman of the Committee could say a word he was
hurried upstairs and into a small room, where a couple of frightened
nurses were looking at a baby whose flushed face and labored breathing
showed that he was very ill. Drusilla went to the small bathtub that
was placed on the floor.
“Come here, Mr. Carrington,” she said; “you're stronger than I am.
Lift this up on them two chairs. So—that's right. Now put this
thermometer in the water and see if it's 100 degrees. I can't see to
read it. Is it right? Now—we'll take the baby—take off your coat and
hat—yes, you'd better take off that coat too”—seeing that the man was
in evening dress—“and turn up your sleeves—you'll git your cuffs wet.
Now take off the baby's clothes, Mary. So—poor little thing!—take 'em
all off, shirt and all, and we'll put him in this piece of flannel. Now
you hold him like this, Mr. Carrington. Hold him in the hot water.
There—jest so's his face is out—don't let him slip! So—now he's
breathin' better already. Don't let the water git cold, Mary. Put a
little more hot water in—there—that's right. Yes, he's gittin' red,
Mr. Carrington, but he wants to git red. See, he's breathin' better.
Does your arm ache? Hold him a little longer; I'm goin' to git some
goose grease that I brought along with me from the home. I'll be back
in a minute. Don't let the water git cool.”
She returned in a few moments with a bottle in her hand, and handed
it to one of the nurses.
“Warm it, put it in hot water till it runs. Now—”
Just then the door opened and a woman stood in the doorway, an angry
look on her pretty, petulant face. She was covered with a big white
evening wrap, and was most impatient. She looked at the scene before
her without comprehending it, and her voice said angrily:
“Robert, we will be late for the opera! What do you mean by—”
Drusilla looked from the baby to the woman in the doorway.
“Come right in, Mis' Carrington. I'm glad you come. Take off your
coat. Yes, we need you. Lay it over there on the bed.”
And before the astonished woman knew what she was doing her wrap was
laid upon a small white bed and she was standing in her elaborate
evening gown looking down at a very red baby being held in a hot bath
by the hands of her husband.
“Now, Mis' Carrington, lay that other piece of flannel on the bed,
and we'll put the baby in it. I think he's boiled most of his cold out.
So—that's right, roll him out—and we'll rub him with the grease. You
do it, Mis' Carrington; your hands is younger and not so stiff as mine.
Put lots on his chest and around his throat. And turn him over on his
back, Mr. Carrington. Put a lot on his back. So— that's right. Rub it
in well. And now we'll put him in the bed. There, poor little mite, he
breathes better now, don't he?” They stood around the bed, looking down
at the child, whose regular breathing showed that he had stopped
fighting for his breath and the battle was won. Soon his eyes, which
had been staring so pitifully closed, and with a little sigh the baby
Drusilla turned to say something, to speak a few words of thanks for
their help; but she stopped at the sight of the two people standing on
opposite sides of the little bed. The man with his coat off, his white
waistcoat and shirt gleaming in the light, the woman opposite him
clothed in her decolette' gown, with jewels glistening in her hair and
on her neck. But she did not notice the dress, when she saw the light
in the woman's eyes as they rested on the man. They looked into each
other's faces for a full moment; then the woman reached over her hand,
and in a low, broken voice said, “Robert, is it too late? Shall we try
again?” The man's quivering lips could say nothing, but the hand that
clasped the one that came to him so timidly was answer enough.
The doctor entered at that moment and the baby was turned over to
him, while Drusilla's guests put on their wraps and followed her
downstairs. At the door of her sitting-room Drusilla turned to them.
“Won't you come in? You wished to see me about—”
Mr. Carrington said hastily:
“No; we will let the matter wait. We are on our way to the opera—”
“No, Miss Doane,” the wife interrupted; “we were on our way
to the opera, but now—we're going home, Robert.” Turning to the man
beside her she repeated: “We're going home, Robert. Do you
understand, we're going home!”
Drusilla stood in the hall until the motor started.
“The Bible says a lot of things that's true,” she murmured to
herself, “and one of 'em is, 'A little child shall lead 'em.'“
The next morning Drusilla was at breakfast when she heard the
chug-chug of a motor. Mrs. Carrington's card was brought in; but before
she could say to William that she would see her visitor, the happy
laughing face of Mrs. Carrington looked in at the door.
“May I come in? I am sure you will see me.”
Drusilla rose with a smile on her sweet old face, and extended her
“Yes, do. You're just in time to have a cup of good coffee with me.”
“Am I so early? I motored down with Robert this morning and felt
that I must stop and see you on the way home.”
“No, you're not early at all; but I'm gettin' lazy in my old age. I
git up early in the mornin' and have some coffee and then go and see
all my babies. I like to see 'em git their bath, and then I help dress
'em. Then I come back and have my real breakfast. Now, you set right
there, so's the sun'll shine on you, and William'll git another cup and
“But I have had my breakfast.”
“Pshaw, one can always drink coffee in the mornin'. And you've been
clear down town.”
Mrs. Carrington settled herself comfortably in her chair, threw back
her coat, and smiled across at Drusilla.
“Yes, I've taken Robert down town the first time for more than a
year. Oh, it seemed just like old times to take him to his office
Drusilla looked at her smilingly.
“Well, it seems to have made you pert-lookin' this mornin'. Your
face is a-shinin'. Do you take one lump or two? Cream? Is that the
right color? I'm particular about the color of my coffee.”
“Yes, that's just right. It smells delicious,” said Mrs. Carrington,
taking the cup. “No, I won't have anything to eat. Well—I don't know
whether I can resist those hot rolls. Just a half of one, then. Is that
honey? I ought not to eat sweets—I know my fate if I do; but I can't
resist hot rolls and honey.”
She was quiet for a few moments. Then she looked up at Drusilla and
said, half hesitatingly, “I presume you are wondering why I have come
to make this early morning visit, Miss Doane?”
“No; I ain't wonderin' at all. I'm just glad you come.”
“Well,” and Mrs. Carrington laughed happily, “I'm so happy I just
had to talk to some one. You know I have not been to see you before,
because I expected to go to France next month for—for a—for rather an
extended trip. And I thought there was no use in calling when I was
going away so soon.”
“Yes; I heard you was goin' away,” Drusilla said.
Mrs. Carrington looked up quickly.
“Oh, did you? I didn't know that people knew it. Who told you?”
“The circulatin' family story-paper,” laughed Drusilla, “Miss Lee.”
Mrs. Carrington frowned for a moment; then she laughed.
“Oh, well, if Sarah knows it, it is no secret in Brookvale. But I am
not going away, so her story will have to be revised. What else did
she say, Miss Doane?”
“Well—I jest can't remember all she said—but—you said jest now
you was happy. Miss Lee'll lose all interest in you now. There's
nothin' so uninteresting to old maids as their married friends when
“I might just as well tell you myself, and it's all past now and I
can talk without breaking my heart. Did Sarah tell you that we lost our
little boy about a year ago?”
“Yes; she told me, and I'm sorry for you. It must be a sad thing to
lose a baby.”
“It nearly killed me, and—and—I began to think about myself too
much—I can see that now. I began to feel that Robert did not
understand me, that he did not miss our boy nor care as much as I did
—that he was hard and occupied himself too much with business and
“I understand,” said Drusilla. “You didn't know that to a man work
is the whole dinner, and love the pie that he has to finish it off and
make the dinner perfect for him. Perhaps you didn't understand him no
more than he did you?”
“Perhaps that's so, but he didn't seem to share my trouble—”
“Now, my dear,” said Drusilla, reaching over and softly touching the
pretty hand that was lying on the arm of the chair, “it ain't so much
the troubles and sorrows they share, but the bridge parties and dances
that they don't share that makes most of the troubles between husbands
“Yes; perhaps that's so. I did get to caring too much for dancing
and society, and went out too much without Robert. I was bored—”
“That's the kind of tired feelin' women git who ain't got nothin' to
“Oh, but I have had a great deal to do. I belong to a great many
clubs and take an active interest in charities, and go to so many
committee meetings—they can't say that I have had nothing to do.”
“But that ain't the right kind of doin'. Let people like Sarah Lee
sew shirts for the heathen and go to the clubs; and as for charity, I
seen a lot of charity done by women who go to church and then turn
their hired girls out of doors if they git in trouble. That ain't what
you want, women with husbands and babies—”
“But I have no baby—”
“But you got a husband. Have babies, just swathes of 'em. You
can afford 'em. It's women like you that ought to have big families.
Don't your husband like babies?”
“Yes, he adores them, but—”
“Of course he does! Ain't he a man? Men just love babies when
they're their own. It feeds their vanity to show the world how they're
improvin' the human race. Now look here, Mis' Carrington, let an old
woman talk. I'm old and I got wrinkles in my face but there ain't none
in my heart, and the only way to keep 'em out of your heart is just to
fill it to bustin' with love. Keep the skin tight; don't let it git
slack. Why, you'll find you been goin' without love and it's like
eatin' without an appetite. It's fillin' your life with somethin' that
don't satisfy. Even if you feel you ain't got the best man in the
world, make the best of the one you got, and, just 'cause he's yourn,
you'll believe after a while you drew the only sweet orange in the
grove and all the rest was sour. We all know that marriage is like the
weather, mighty uncertain, but that ain't no reason for you to live in
the cyclone cellar expecting the tornado to come. Set in the sun parlor
and you'll git more enjoyment.”
“Now, let me talk. I like to talk, and when I git on the subject of
love, though I ain't had much of it in my life except what I give
myself, I know what it is, and I learnt that you mustn't pick it to
pieces, any mor'n you'd pick that rose beside you to pieces and expect
to have it keep its color and its smell. If you do that there ain't
nothin' left in your hands but dead leaves. And, dear, don't look at it
through a microscope; it'll make the little things look too big.
Quarrel once in a while if you must, but don't criticize his kind of
love. A person's love is his own kind, same as his nose—”
“Oh, we never quarrel. Robert is a perfect gentleman.”
“Now that's too bad. Perhaps if he wasn't such a gentleman, instead
of goin' to his club when he was mad, he'd turn in and you'd have a
real old-fashioned row, just like common people, and when the storm was
passed you'd have a chance to kiss and make up. Don't be too much of a
lady, just be human and act like people, and things'll come out better.
It's these awful polite people who grate on one, especially when you're
“I know I am not a good wife—I wish I were better—but my
“Don't say it! I can't abide that word. It's only rich women who
have temperament; in poor women it's just a nasty disposition. But, my
dear, you are good enough. Don't try to be an angel—you'd bore your
Robert to death. He'd rather see you with a pretty hat than a halo any
day; and I know your kind, Mis' Carrington. You'll go into fits and
have to be put to bed if your dress don't fit, but if your Robert lost
his money, you'd give him your diamonds to sell so's to start him
again—and I'm sure he knows it too.”
Mrs. Carrington was quiet for a few moments. Then she looked up with
the tears glistening on her pretty lashes.
“Oh, Miss Doane, you do make me feel that we are going to be happy.
I am going to understand Robert better and he will understand me—”
“Don't worry about him understanding you. Don't think about your
inside feelin's; just talk it all out with him. If he don't understand
what you're thinkin', shake him and tell him he is stupid, and he'll
laugh and you'll laugh—and then you'll kiss each other— and then,
where are you?”
Mrs. Carrington again was quiet. Drusilla watched her for a moment;
then she rose and came over to her chair and, bending down, put her
arms around the young shoulders.
“Dear, jest do this—so fill your heart with sweetness that there
won't be room for the memory of any wrong.”
Mrs. Carrington reached up her hands and drew the kindly old face to
hers and kissed the lips; and the tears that had been in her eyes
rolled unheeded down her cheeks.
“Oh, Miss Doane, you are so good! I love you. We are going to begin
all over again.”
“That's right, dear. Go to lookin' for the lost heart's desire and
if you look in the right place you'll find it.”
As Drusilla was standing by the chair James entered, and, seeing
Mrs. Carrington, started to leave the room. Drusilla turned.
“What is it, James?”
“It's no moment now, Miss Doane, the matter can wait.”
“Well, but what is it? Does some one want to see me?”
“Yes; the laundry man. I took the liberty of telling him that you
might see him—”
“Is he in trouble, James?”
“Yes,” hesitatingly; “and as I have known him for a great many years
and know he is pretty straight and honest, I—as I said, ma'am—took
the liberty of telling him you might see him, as you are so kind to so
many that come here for help.”
“Ssh—ssh—James; you mustn't talk about it. Tell him to come up.”
Mrs. Carrington rose to go.
“No, don't go,” begged Drusilla. “You know,” looking around the
room, “I'm just like a girl that's afraid of gettin' found out. I see a
lot of people that I don't let Mr. Thornton know about. He tried to
keep me from seein' any one who comes here in trouble, but I get around
him. I see every one who comes. James has his orders from Mr. Thornton
to keep 'em out, and he has his orders from me to let 'em in, and he's
more afeered of me than he is of Mr. Thornton.”
“But, my dear Miss Doane, I should think you would be worried to
“No, it keeps me alive. I got a chance to hear people's troubles and
understand what they're fighting against, and I'm seein' life and
gettin' a chance to help people in my own way.”
“But don't they impose upon you? Aren't lots of the people
“Well, I don't do nothin' sudden. I hear 'em talk and then I git Dr.
Eaton to find out if it's true; and he's a clever young man, Mis'
Carrington—they're pretty sharp to git around him. We call it the
Doane Eaton Associated Charities. But”—laughing—“I'm awful selfish in
it. I like people, and I like to be in their lives, and if I done what
Mr. Thornton wanted me to do, I'd set here and die of dry rot.”
James entered then, followed by a little man who bowed awkwardly to
“This is Mr. Henderson, Miss Doane,” James said.
Drusilla looked at him critically.
“Set down, Mr. Henderson. James tells me that you are in trouble.”
“Yes, Miss Doane. I hardly know which way to turn. Mr. Hawkins told
me you might be good enough to help me.”
“What is it you want? You are the laundry man, ain't you?”
“Yes; I have done the outside work for the place here for twelve
years, and”—turning to Mrs. Carrington—“I think Mrs. Carrington will
remember me. I work for her and worked for her mother before her.”
“Certainly I know you, Mr. Henderson,” said Mrs. Carrington. “I
remember I used to coax you for a ride in your wagon when I was a
The man smiled.
“Yes, I've given all the children in Brookvale a ride some time or
“Now that we know who you are,” said Drusilla, “jest tell me what
the trouble is.”
“It's this way, Miss Doane. The last year business has been bad and
I have had to buy new machinery, and I put a mortgage on the place to
pay for the machines, and then my wife was sick for most eight months
and the doctor's bills and the nurses eat up all my ready money, and I
find I'm in a corner and can't pay the interest on the mortgage, and
can't get good help, because I can't pay the wages. I'm afraid I will
lose my business.”
“Is it a good business?”
“Yes. It's always been able to give me a good livin', nothin' more,
but it's all I got, and I don't know nothin' else to do. If I lose it
I'll have to go into some one else's laundry, and it's hard after
fifteen years—” He looked down with a catch in his voice.
“How much will it take to put you on your feet?”
“If I could get eight hundred dollars it would pay up the debts
that's pressin' me and would give me a start.”
“Can't you borrow at the bank?”
“No, because I've no security. The place is mortgaged all it can
“Well, now you give your name and address to James, and I'll talk it
over with Dr. Eaton, and we'll see what can be done. You understand we
ain't givin' you the money, even if we find out you're all right. We'll
lend to you, and Dr. Eaton asks interest the same as at the bank, but
we take your word for security. You understand, we're a lending on your
reputation, and what you stand for in your community.”
“I understand, ma'am, and I'm willin' to stand on my reputation in
“Well,” as he rose to go, “Dr. Eaton'll come and talk it over with
you, and we'll see. How's your wife now?”
“She is much better.”
“Is she in bed?”
“Yes; she only sets up a couple of hours a day.”
“Pshaw, that's too bad! Wait till I see James.”
She rang the bell and James appeared.
“James, fix a basket of things to eat and send it home with Mr.
Henderson. Perhaps a change of cookin'll make her eat better. A sick
person gits awful tired of the same kind of vittles.”
When the man left with a new look of hope on his face Drusilla
turned to Mrs. Carrington.
“Now, Mis' Carrington, them's the kind of people that need help. You
ain't no idee how many men in this city have got little businesses
that's jest makin' them a livin' but nothin' over for a rainy day, and
when the day comes they've nothin' to fall back on. And if they could
tide themselves over the bad times, whether it's sickness or bad
business, they'd be all right. That's just like the truck gardener down
on the Fulham Lane. Ain't you seen his place? The hail broke all his
glass cases, and he couldn't buy new and he most lost his little place,
and if he hadn't 'a' been helped he'd 'a' had to git out.”
“Did you help him?”
Drusilla looked rather shamefaced.
“Now, don't you whisper it to a soul. I'm so feered that Mr.
Thornton'll find it out that I'm scared to hear a door slam for fear
he's heard somethin' and comin' to talk to me. I didn't do nothin' for
him as he knows on, but Dr. Eaton went his security at the bank so's he
could borrow, and he'll be able to pay back in a couple of years.”
Mrs. Carrington laughed.
“Oh, you are a dear!” she exclaimed.
“No, that's jest what I can't make Dr. Eaton see either, that I'm
selfish in it all. I like to talk to people, I like to know about 'em.
I've always set outside the fence before and peeked into the ball game,
now I kin set in the front row and sometimes catch a ball that comes my
way. You know, Mis' Carrington, I set up nights wonderin' how I kin
leave my million dollars so's it'll do some good and not be fooled
away. I pester Dr. Eaton to death to find a way, and he thinks he's got
some kind of a poor man's bank figgered out. He's brought up some men
and we've talked ourselves hoarse trying to figger out a charity that
ain't a charity. By the way, what is your husband?”
“He is a banker.”
“Now, that's jest the thing. Bring him over some night and we'll git
'em all together and have a real talk about it all. Tell him what I'm
tryin' to do. No—I'll send Dr. Eaton to talk with him. I like your
husband, Mis' Carrington. A man that can hold a sick baby so tender in
a pan of hot water has got heart; and what we want in this is heart as
well as brains and money.”
Mrs. Carrington rose to go.
“I'm glad I came to you this morning, and I'm glad you like my
husband, because, Miss Doane—let me whisper it to you—I believe I do
Drusilla was called to the 'phone and a nervous, trembly-voiced
Daphne spoke to her.
“May I come over, Miss Doane? I—I—want to get away from the house
and talk to some one—May I come over?”
Drusilla answered quickly: “Come right along, and come to spend the
day. I got to go to the home, and I'll take you with me.”
Soon Daphne came up the driveway and stopped to look at two big
baskets being put into the motor car, and before she could ring the
bell Drusilla dressed for driving came to the door.
“Git right in, Daphne,” Drusilla said, putting on her gloves. “Push
that basket more to the front—there, that's right. Have you got that
bundle, Joseph? Don't lose it out. Now go just as fast as you can, but
don't git arrested.” As she sat down by the side of Daphne she added:
“I'm always in mortal fear of being arrested, 'cause I like to go fast.
I don't care about the arrested part, but it'd git my name in the
papers again and then your father'd make me one of his 'severity'
visits, and I don't seem never to git used to them. When James tells me
your father is waitin' for me it makes me feel jest like I used to when
I done somethin' wrong and was called into the parlor, where I always
got my scoldings, 'cause mother knew the kitchen wouldn't awe me.
But”—and she chuckled—“I'm gittin' kind of used even to him, and I'm
gittin' so independent there ain't no livin' with me. I even show it
the way I walk. When I was ordered around by everybody, I used to sort
of tiptoe around so's not to call attention to myself. Now I come down
so hard on my heels I have to wear rubber ones so's not to jar my
spine. But”—she looked keenly at the pale face beside her and the eyes
that showed signs of recent tears—“what's the matter, dear? Have you
“Oh, I'm in such trouble, Miss Doane,” Daphne said with a
choke in her voice.
Drusilla patted her hand.
“It can't be great trouble, Daphne.”
“Yes, it is, Miss Doane. No one has such trouble as I have, I'm
“Hush, dear, hush! Wait a minute. Let me show you a letter I got
last night from Barbara, and then you'll know what real trouble means.”
She drew from her bag a folded piece of paper and handed it to
“Read that,” she said; and Daphne read a badly spelled, badly
written scrawl, in the writing of an old woman unused to holding a pen:
I wish you'd come and see us. Mis Abbott has took poison that she
got out of the medcin closet, cause she's lost her money and can't pay
her board no more and she says she'd ruther die than be charity, cause
she's always looked down on charity, and bin so stuck up about her
family. They got it out of her with a stumak pump and she won't die
this time but she says she'll do it again cause she can't live and be
charity. Won't you come and see her and perhaps you can do something
with her, we can't.
Daphne handed the note back to Drusilla, who put it carefully into
her bag before she spoke.
“Now, do you see what real trouble is? Do you remember me tellin'
you about Mis' Abbott, whose father was a general and whose husband was
some sort of official down South? Well, they're all dead and her only
daughter died when she was a little girl and she hadn't nothin' left
but memories and just enough money to keep her in the home. It was in
some railroad stock and now I guess it's gone too. She was awful proud,
and I can see how she feels. She always looked down on me 'cause I was
charity, but I don't hold it agin her. She's had her arms full of
sorrow and now they're too old to carry more.”
“Poor woman!” said Daphne softly. “What are you going to do?”
“I ain't got it all figgered out yet. I talked it over with John
till late last night, and then afterward it come to me. I guess I can
do somethin'. The main thing is to make her want to live, make her
think some one wants her. You know, Daphne, that's the great sorrow of
the old; to feel that they ain't needed no more; that every one can git
along just as well if not a little better without 'em than with 'em.
When they see that, they want to die.”
“Oh, I'm sorry I said anything about my troubles—they are so
little! Yet they seemed so big last night—and this morning—this
“Well, what happened this mornin'? Tell me, dear; it'll make you
feel better and then you'll see they ain't so very bad after all.”
“This morning Mother talked to me, and Father was nasty to me at the
breakfast table and—” and again the pretty eyes filled with tears.
“Who is it about this time?”
“There's no this time; it's always the same. It's—it's—Dr.
“I knowed it! I seen it a-comin' a long time. What you and Dr. Eaton
“We haven't been doing anything. Only I walked home with him from
your house last night, and we walked a while and—and—Mother and
Father talked to me, and—”
“Yes, your father's held some forth to me about Dr. Eaton, but I
only laugh at him. I like that young man.”
Daphne snuggled her hand into Drusilla's.
“That's the reason I can talk to you; you will
Drusilla laughed again.
“Because—because—you like him too.” Daphne's pretty face colored.
“Well, why shouldn't you?” said Drusilla.
“Mother says that he's only a poor doctor, that he's not the kind
that'll ever make money.”
“Money—money! Why, he'll always make enough for you to live on, and
more money'd only be used to buy amusements to keep you from thinkin';
but the way you and him could live together, you'd like to think. So
what's the use of money?”
“But Mother says—”
“Now, Daphne, I don't want to say nothin' about your mother. She's
been real neighborly to me so far as she knows how, but she's too
society for me, and we ain't got one thing that we can talk to each
other about. She thinks more about the polish of a person's fingernails
or the set of her dress than she does about the color of a soul or the
heart that looks out from the eyes, but—I shouldn't say that—your
mother is your mother and she means well by you, and you must respect
Daphne looked up with a twinkle in her eyes.
“Her judgment in regard to Dr. Eaton, too?”
“Well,” said Drusilla, “I wouldn't go so far as that;
but—what else did she say besides that you wouldn't have enough to
“Oh, of course she didn't say that, but she said that he could never
afford to give me a motor car or—”
“Well, if you don't have but one car you'll have to ride around with
him in his'n, and that won't be no hardship. Just think what a nice
time you could have ridin' around these roads in that noisy, smelly
little car of his, and waitin' at the gate when he went in to see the
Smith baby. Why—why—I'd like to do it myself!”
“Yes, I'd like it too; but Mother is always saying that it's a pity
that he is a general practitioner instead of a specialist. It's only
the specialists that make money and get on.”
“Pshaw, you tell her that Dr. Eaton is a general practitioner in his
business, but a specialist in his love affairs, and that's all that you
need worry about.”
“Then, you don't think it would be hard to economize?”
“Daphne, you won't have to economize on love, and with lots of that
you won't miss the other things. Now, Daphne, I suppose I shouldn't
meddle in this, it ain't none of my business, but I like Dr. Eaton, and
I more'n like you, and I don't want you to make a mistake. Dr. Eaton
won't promise you a life of roses and leave you to pull out all the
thorns. I know him. And I jest want you two young things to share the
very best things in life when you're young, and when you grow old
together you won't see the bald spot on his head gittin' bigger, and he
won't see your gray hairs a-comin', 'cause you won't ever be lookin'
above each other's eyes. You know, Daphne, I'm seventy years old and
I've looked on lots of things with my old eyes, and it ain't always the
rich that have found the most precious jewel; it's the poor couple
who've got just enough to live on—and each other.”
Daphne smiled up at Drusilla.
“Oh, Miss Doane, you make it seem so heavenly!”
“Yes, it is Heaven, and love is the bridge that you cross on, and
when you git across you can't always be singin' the weddin'-march —but
afterwards—well, you can hum a lullaby.
“Now we're comin' to the house”—as they turned into the drive—
“and I jest want to say this, dear—” She took Daphne's face in her two
hands and looked into her eyes. “Life is a wonderful garden, dear, a
garden where the air is filled with perfume, a garden filled with
flowers, with heart's-ease and forget-me-nots, and if you wander down
its moonlit pathway with your loved one's hand in yours, you're bound
to find the enchanted palace where love's dream comes true—So dream,
my dear, jest dream.
“Now, there's Miss Smith,” as the motor stopped. “How do you do,
Mis' Smith? How do you do, Barbara? You was lookin' for me? Yes, I come
jest as soon as I could. How is Mis' Abbott? Take them baskets on the
porch, and that bundle goes upstairs. Can I go up and see Mis' Abbott?”
“Yes, come right up. I told her you were coming, but she says she
won't see you. But I think she will,” said Mrs. Smith.
“Of course she will. I'm comin' right along. Daphne, you go out on
the porch there with the ladies and open them baskets. I worked half
the night and kept the cook up the other half to get the things ready.
The names is on the things. You give 'em to the ladies, and jest stay
and let 'em look at you. It'll be a treat as good as the things in the
She followed Barbara up the long stairs. At the door she turned.
“Don't come in, Barbara; I'll go in alone.” And she went into the
“best” room of the home, because Mrs. Abbott had been able to pay a
little more than that paid by the other guests.
Drusilla found the little woman in bed, with her face turned to the
wall. She did not move until Drusilla put her hand on her shoulder.
“I've come to see you, Mis' Abbott.”
The woman looked up at Drusilla a moment, then put her faded old
hands over her face.
“I don't want to see you, Drusilla, I don't want to see you.”
“Pshaw, now,” answered Drusilla, “yes, you do, Mis' Abbott. I come
jest a purpose to see you.”
“Oh, but I don't want to see you,” wailed the feeble old voice. “I
always called you 'charity' and now I'm charity myself. I wish I could
die, I wish I could die!”
“No, you don't,” said Drusilla softly. “You want to live and you're
glad to see me.”
“I ain't! I tell you, I ain't! I called you charity!”
“Yes, but I didn't mind, and if I hadn't been charity, Elias Doane
wouldn't 'a' found me, and I wouldn't be here goin' to take you home
“What!” said the old lady, looking up. “What'd you say, Drusilla?”
“I said I'm goin' to take you home with me.”
“You are—you are—going to take me away from here—here where all
the ladies'll laugh at me because I'm charity? But—but—Oh, I'll have
to come back again even if you do take me, I'll have to come back again
and be—Oh, I want to die—I'd rather die!”
Drusilla took the hands from the wrinkled face and held them in her
“Now let me set here on the edge of the bed, and you listen to me,
Mis' Abbott. When I got Barbara's letter last night, I jest set for
hours thinkin' it all over, and it all come to me of a sudden. Why, I
need you so bad, Mis' Abbott, I wonder how I got along without you all
this time. You know I got a lot of young people at my house, and no one
with sense but myself to watch over them, and we need some one like
yourself bad, and if you won't come I'll have to look around for some
one else, and it'll put me to a lot of trouble.”
The old lady looked up wonderingly.
“But what can I do, Drusilla?”
“Oh, there's lots of things you kin do, but one thing special. When
I went into the nursery last night and saw Mary Allen settin' there
alone by the window, I said to myself, 'Mary needs a mother. She don't
ever remember havin' a mother, and then I remembered you lost your
little girl most forty years ago, and if she'd 'a' growed up she might
'a' had a little girl like Mary, and I want you to come and be a mother
to my Mary and a grandmother to her baby.”
“Oh, is she grown up and married?”
“Never mind, she's only a little child, a lovin' little child with a
baby—and a sorrow. But you'll come and see your Mary in her eyes, and
she'll have a mother and you a daughter again, and you'll both find
happiness in each other. She needs you, Mis' Abbott, and you need
her—Say you'll come.”
The old lady looked for a moment into Drusilla's eyes; then she
broke into the hysterical sobbing of the old and helpless.
“I didn't think no one needed me—no one wanted me. I thought I jest
cumbered up the earth. Drusilla, do you think she really needs me, that
any one really needs me, that I don't have to be a burden the rest of
my days? Oh, if I thought some one wanted me—Perhaps it's my Mary come
back to me—my Mary—my little girl—my little girl—”
Drusilla let her cry, patting her hand softly from time to time.
Then, when the storm had spent itself, she said:
“Yes, it's your Mary come back to you. Don't you remember that you
said your Mary had brown eyes—”
“Yes,—yes—” and eager fingers were tugging at an old-fashioned
locket hanging to a slender chain around her neck. “See—here she is
—her eyes are brown and her hair all curled around her face, and her
lips was just like a rose—and her face—oh, her pretty face—”
Drusilla studied the picture carefully.
“Yes, it's jest like this other Mary. Her hair is all in little
curls around her face and her brown eyes jest like a child's, a
wonderin' child's whose waitin' for her mother.”
The old lady rose from the bed.
“Can I go now, Drusilla? Can I go now?”
“Are you well enough? Can you stand the trip?”
Mrs. Abbott laughed.
“Only sorrow makes one feeble, sorrow and loneliness; but hope makes
one strong, and I got hope again—I want to live, Drusilla—I want to
“John,” Drusilla's hand carefully opened the door and Drusilla's
head peered warily into the opening, “Are you alone? Has he gone?” She
looked around the room. “Yes, he's gone. I'll come in.” She closed the
door behind her and came to her favorite seat before the fire.
“John, I didn't adopt the Reverend Algernon Thompson, did I?”
“Why, no, Drusilla; I don't think you adopted him. Why?”
“Well,” breathing a sigh of relief, “I'm glad to hear you say it. I
didn't know but that night when I was so relieved and so scared about
puttin' him in jail, that I hadn't said more'n I meant. I know I asked
him to come and stop here whenever he come to New York, but I didn't
mean to live here. I don't see how his church gits along without
him so much.”
“What's the matter with the Reverend Algernon, Drusilla? I like him.
His knowledge of chivalry is—”
“Yes, I know you two pore over them old books and study them tin
men, and he seems to be a great comfort to you. But he ain't no comfort
to me, John. I guess I'm gittin' old and finicky. I jest can't put my
finger on the spot that riles me, but that man riles me. He's always so
good and so sort of angelic, and I don't like people who are too good.
A man without a few failin's is like underclothes without trimmin',
useful but uninterestin', and—and—then, John, he's one of them fussy
little men who's always puffin' around and never doin' nothin' worth
while, just like a little engine in a switchyard that snorts and puffs
and makes a lot of noise pullin' a dump-wagon. And—then, sometimes, I
wonder about his religion, he's so narrer, he's got lots of religion
but not so much Christianity. He kind of thinks that Heaven's goin' to
be made up of him and a few Presbyterians, mainly from his
congregation. He kind of seems to think that Heaven's going to be a
special place for him where he'll strut around the only rooster and his
flock'll foller after singin' praises to him instead of to the
“Why, Drusilla, I thought you said when he was so interested in
those children of his parish that he ought to be a very good man.”
“So he ought to be a good man, and a man's legs ought to reach from
his body to the ground but sometimes he has one short leg that don't
quite tech. Now the Reverend wasn't interested so much in takin' care
of them children as he was in showin' how he could raise money. I
remember when I was in the Ladies' Aid of the Presbyterian Church and
we made clothes for the heathen, we wasn't so much interested in
clothing the heathen as we was that we had a bigger box at the end of
the year than the Baptists had. Just as when some of these societies
git to raisin' money for the poor or for some new buildin' or
something, and they divide their 'raisers' up in bands, the people who
ask you for subscriptions fergit what it is for in their hurry to show
that they raised more'n some other band.”
“I'm afraid, Drusilla, that Mr. Thompson has got on to your nerves.”
“I ain't got no nerves, John. I leave that for women with husbands
to work 'em off on. I don't know what it is with this preacher. He's a
good man accordin' to his lights, but he makes me fidgety a rumblin'
away about his work and his creeds and things like a volcano that don't
never blow up. I wish he'd let off a little steam once in a while, or
spit out a few rocks and stones jest to liven up things a bit.”
“I'll admit he is a little bit self-centered.”
“What's that? Oh, you mean he's got ingrowin' feelings. Yes,
everythin' that he has to do with is big. Why, John, he's the kind of a
man that'd entertain his wife by talkin' about his corns, and think it
interestin' because they was his'n.”
“Perhaps if he was married and had a wife to tell him a few
“John—John!” Drusilla sat up very suddenly in her chair. “Why
didn't I think of her before?”
“Think of whom, Drusilla? I thought we were talking about the
Reverend Algernon, and he's a he.”
“Sarah Lee? I don't follow you, Drusilla.”
“John, some men are ugly, most men are conceited, and all men are
thick-headed, and you're a man. Think of what a wife she'd make
“Why, Drusilla!” John looked a little dazed. “I thought—I thought
you didn't care especially for Sarah Lee. I heard you, if I remember
“Never mind, John. Your memory's too long to be convenient. Never
mind what I said—I take it all back. She's jest the wife for him. They
jest fit together. They ain't neither one of 'em got a sense of humor.
She's the kind of a woman who'd tell him a funny story when he's
shavin', and he's the kind of a man that'd ask her where she put his
clean shirt when she was doin' up her back hair with her mouth full of
pins. It'd be too bad to spile two good families with 'em.”
“But, Drusilla, they're neither one of them thinking about getting
married. Perhaps they don't want to.”
“Shows how little you know about human natur', John, especially
woman human natur'. Sarah Lee'd jump at the chance. She'd been settin'
in the station for a long time waitin' for the express to pick her up;
now she'd be willin' to take a slow freight.”
“Well, she might do worse. He's likely and healthy—”
“Humph—so's an onion. But he's a good man, John, and I trust Sarah
to make him over into anything she wants. She's a managin' woman.”
“But—but, Drusilla, I don't think he wants to get married, even if
“Of course he don't. No man does; they have to be led up to it.”
“Well, I don't know about this. He might not want Sarah. He looks to
me like a man who knows his own mind.”
“He ain't got a wide acquaintance if it's all he knows. But I
mustn't be mean. 'Cause I couldn't live with him ain't no reason that a
lot of women couldn't stand him. He's been a batch too long and always
had his own way, and he's been a preacher where he could talk to people
and they dassent talk back, but Sarah'd change all that, and make him
real human before a year was past. I'm glad you thought of it, John.”
John looked up, surprised.
“Me? Drusilla! It never entered my head.”
“Didn't it? Well, you ought to 'a' thought of it before, and it'd
all be done now. Here we've wasted all these months, and I've been
pestered to death with 'em both. She's done more tattin' settin' in my
sun parlor than'd trim all the petticoats in Brookvale. But, John, her
heart is good and is kind of thawin' about the babies. I seen her
a-givin' yards o' that stuff to Mary Allen the other day to trim her
baby's dresses; and when little Isaac got most run over she got as
white as a sheet and we both cried over him together, which kind of
brought us closer. And if she marries Algernon, they'll have babies and
she'll jest blossom right out.”
“You seem to be planning rather far ahead, aren't you?”
“No one has to be a prophet to say a preacher'll have babies. That's
ginerally about all they do have.”
“It's your business, Drusilla; but I can't understand why you want
these two very worthy people to marry—”
“Can't you see through a fence-post, John? If Sarah marries the
Reverend Algernon, she'll have to move to Adams, and she'll keep him
hoppin' around so fast that he won't git time to come visitin' me so
“Oh, you are killing two birds with one stone!”
“Say it any way you want to, but they was made for each other, and I
want to see Sarah married with a growin' family on her hands and then
she won't have so much time to think and talk about her neighbors. She
does it jest because she ain't got nothin' else to do; but if she has
to watch Johnny through the measles, and Lizzie through the mumps, and
see that Willie's stockings is patched, she won't have time to tatt or
tattle, and it'll make her a real woman, instead of jest an old maid.
Is he comin' back tonight?”
“No; he has gone to his room.”
“Well, I didn't know I'd ever be sorry not to see Algernon, but I'd
like to begin on him tonight when it's fresh in my mind, and I could
put spirit in my work. What you goin' to do with him to-morrow?”
“We are goin' to go over again those last books on chivalry that I
“Now, you leave them old books go, and when you git him alongside of
one of them iron men, that must 'a' had a derrick to heave him on his
horse, come down to earth and talk about women. Point out that that man
must 'a' had a wife to buckle all his straps, or somethin' like that,
and then tell him how all men ought to be married. Show how you're a
shinin' example of how a man looks that ain't had a wife to see that he
don't spill egg on his shirt bosom or make him change his underclothes
Saturday night. Flatter him. Tell him he is a big, strong man—all
little men like that—but tell him that no matter how strong a man is
he ain't strong enough to put the studs in his own shirt—and so lead
up to Sarah. You can do it, John, if you go about it right. Git him
interested, and I'll take care of Sarah.”
“But it's a great risk, Drusilla. They might be so happy that they'd
always be grateful and both want to come and visit you.”
Drusilla raised her hands and then dropped them in despair.
“The Lord forbid, John.”
“Don't you want them to be happy, Drusilla? If you don't think they
would be, you hadn't better meddle in it.”
“Certainly, they'll be happy. Sarah's a good woman. Her milk of
human kindness is a leetle bit curdled now and sets hard on her
stomach, but marriage'll be the soda that'll clear it all up. And her
husband won't have to put a tin mask on her face to keep from bein'
jealous, and she won't need to fear his gettin' in temptation, 'cause
she won't let him come to the city alone long enough to git real busy
huntin' it up. Sarah's jest the wife for a parsonage. She's turnin'
more and more to religion and preachers as she gits older, like a lot
of women do when they find they're not excitin' enough to interest the
other kind. Now, John, be careful what you say. A man is like a
kitten—try to catch him and he'll run. Don't fling Sarah at his head
—it'd be like flingin' a bone at a cat; jest chase him away instead of
drawin' him to her. Now I'm goin' to telephone her and ask her to come
over to-morrow, and I'll prepare the way. And you, John,” and Drusilla
rose and shook her finger at him, “now you be careful what you say, but
The plan worked even better than Drusilla had hoped. Under Miss
Lee's very evident admiration, the Reverend Algernon seemed to grow at
least three inches in height, and his rather prosy compliments did not
fall upon too critical nor blase' ears. Sarah blushed and fluttered and
stammered as would any young girl with her first sweetheart. She even
grew pretty; took to arranging her hair in a more becoming style and
was particular about her dress. One morning she came over with a fluffy
little gown that certainly took ten years from her age, and Drusilla
looked at her in amazement. She confided to John: “I've heard that
women had an Indian Summer but Sarah's surely having her early spring.
And, John, I always thought that courtin' was like cookin'—you had to
learn by experience; but them two seem to take to it natural. It's
makin' Sarah over, I tell you. Why, I even heard her say that she
thought Bessie Grey was pretty, and she used to say about any girl that
was so pretty that a blind man'd have to admit it, 'Yes, she's pretty,
but it is the kind that'll fade early.' Why, she ain't shot a poison
arrow at nobody's good luck sense they met.”
“You seem to give them chance enough to see each other.”
“Yes; I want them to find out each other's beauties. I set up nights
tryin' to find errands to send 'em together down town in the motor.
Take a man and a woman and put 'em close together, in a rich, soft
motor car, with nice cushions to lean against and a chauffeur who can't
hear 'em, and something is hound to happen if they're human beings. And
I git her to serve tea under the trees and let him see what a nice
housewife she'd make, and how she'd show off to his women in the
church. Do you notice she don't talk so much? jest sets quiet and
smiles, which is wise of her, as she looks best that way. Why, she used
to be like an electric fan buzzing away all day and fannin' up nothin'
but hot air. John, I feel I'm doin' some good in the world. If I keep
on, it'll be a temptation to die just to read the epigraphs my
friends'll write of me. But I ain't goin' to die fer a while; I'm goin'
to set right down and go over them invitations we sent for the people
who's comin' next week for my birthday. Dr. Eaton and me went over the
house; it's all ready, and the children and the mothers'll move in on
Drusilla was silent for a few moments. Then she reached over and
took John's hand in her own.
“John, Wednesday I am seventy-two years old. And it's more'n fifty
years sense you and me went walkin' down the lane together first. And
you're here now beside me. You can always find some one to share your
money and your joys, but you can't ask everybody to share your sorrows
and your troubles; and it makes me feel a sort of peace and quiet to
know that you'll always be near me, and if things that I've planned
don't come out right, that I kin come to you and talk it over and
you'll understand. Lots of people when they hear what I'm goin' to do
will say that I'm an old fool, that I'm impractical, and lots of things
that'd maybe hurt, if I didn't have some one to go to and talk it over
with who I know won't be critical but will see down beneath it all what
I'm try in' to do, and who'll understand. That's what love is, John,
for people who grow old—just a great, great friendship, and—an
“Come right on to the stoop, Dr. Eaton, and let's set down and cool
off. I'm real het up.”
Drusilla settled down in a big porch rocker and fanned herself with
the paper in her hand.
“Now let's talk, and you tell me all about it. What did you say that
last club was we was to? You been a-takin' me to so many places lately
that I fergit their names.”
“That was the big Socialists Club.”
“Socialists—yes, that's what you called it. Ain't them got
something to do with dynamite bombs and blowin' up people and things?”
Dr. Eaton laughed.
“No; you are thinking of Nihilists or Anarchists. These people are
very mild; they only have ideas how to run the old world in a new way,
and they are especially interested in the question of labor and
“Well, they've idees enough, if that's all they need. But it seems
to me, Dr. Eaton, that these people are all going at it wrong-end-to.
Instid of workin' with people in bunches, they want to take 'em man by
man and git a little of the old-fashioned religion into each one
singly. There's two commandments give us to live by. One is, we should
love God; the other is to love our neighbor as ourself. Now, if each
one got that second command planted deep in his heart, the hired man'd
do his work as it ought to be done, and the man who hires him'd pay him
right—so there wouldn't be no need of Socialists or Unions or dynamite
bombs. No, you can't make people do the right thing by laws, and you
can't put love in their hearts by meetings and committees and talk.
Each man must git it for himself and then he'll do the square thing
because he wants to, not 'cause he's forced to. You can make laws
against thievin' and build prisons to put men in who steal, but if you
don't change a man's heart, if he wants to be a thief he'll find
some way o' doin' it—prisons or no prisons.”
She was silent a few moments; then she chuckled softly to herself.
“I wanted to laugh when you introduced me as a woman who wanted to
give away a million dollars. Why, I thought fer a minute I'd be run
down, if one was to judge by their eyes. But they kind of caamed down
when they learnt I wanted to find a way to leave it in my will so's
it'd do the most good, instead of givin' it away right there in
five-dollar bills. By the looks of a lot of 'em they could 'a' used it
right then in gettin' a hair cut and a good meal of vittles.”
“Yes; some of them do look rather lank and hungry; but there are
some very clever men among them.”
“They certainly talked a lot. Who was that young man who talked so
much and then got me into a corner. He was kind o' wild-eyed.”
“That's Swinesky, a Russian Jew.”
“A Roosian! I always heerd tell that them Roosians know what to do
with other people's money—and a Jew too! Well—well—and I got away
without spending nothin'. He told me a lot of ways to spend my money,
but most of 'em sounded like—like—what is it you call it—”
“That's jest the word—hot air. They all was perfectly willin' to
tell me what to do with it, as it wasn't there'n, but what I want is to
find a man with an idee that he'd think good enough to carry out if the
money was his'n. We've talked with a lot of people about the best way
to dispose of my money where it'd do the most good, and most of their
plans wouldn't hold water. But it's good of you, Dr. Eaton, to take me
round, and I git a little idee here and another there, and some day
maybe I'll find the right one.
“I see the newspapers is takin' up now what I'm askin' everybody.
'What will she do with her Million Dollars?' They'll git a lot of
answers, 'cause every one's got an idee what they'd do if they had that
“But let's not talk of it no more—my head buzzes. I dream of it at
nights and see it all hangin' round the bedposts, and a lot of people
takin' it that I don't want to, and me not bein' able to git up and
chase 'em away. Tell me about that loan you asked me about last night,
and I didn't have time to talk.”
Dr. Eaton sat up, interested in a moment.
“Do you remember my telling you about the man who has the button
factory in Yonkers?”
“He is the man who wants two thousand dollars, isn't he?” asked
“Yes,” said Dr. Eaton. “And I have been to see him and I think it is
a poor loan unless his business is looked into more closely. Now, Miss
Doane, I have an idea. My friend, Frank Stillman, has just started into
business as an efficiency engineer.”
“What's that?” asked Drusilla, interested at once in anything new.
“He makes it his business to study firms that are going to the wall
and locate their trouble and puts them on their feet again, if
possible. I took him with me to Mr. Panoff, and I believe he could go
there a while and find out what the difficulty is. It used to be a good
business when Panoff bought it, but he seems to have lost his grip some
way, and he can't see far enough ahead because he is so crowded by the
daily troubles. An outsider will be able to see with a better
“Are we goin' to let this Mr. Panoff have the money?”
“No; not at present. Here is my scheme. I want you to put Frank in
there for a time and let him find out if there are any possibilities of
getting the business back on its feet. If Frank succeeds, we will let
Panoff have the money on his personal note, if he agrees to follow out
the suggestions of Frank.
“I have another idea that I have been thinking about. There are a
lot of small business ventures that are running to seed, where the
owner is getting discouraged, and lacks the broad outlook that would
keep him going, and needs some one who is a professional setter-up like
Frank, to put him wise, and to readjust his business. I suggest that we
hire Frank, for at least a part of his time—he won't be expensive, as
he is just starting—to look into the affairs of the men who come to us
for money. The owner must agree to allow Frank to readjust things for
him, and then when his affairs are prospering again, he will pay a
certain sum for Frank's services, taking the expense away from us. It
is also a better guarantee for our loan, because Frank is a pretty
level-headed business man and if there are any possibilities in the run
down business, he will find them, and if there are not he will report
to us. What do you think of it?”
“I think it is a good thing; but is there enough things like that to
keep him busy?”
“Well, we need take only a part of his time; but I can think of half
a dozen little manufacturers who would welcome the chance to find out
what is wrong. That publishing house I was telling you about. The
manager is impractical, is paying too much out in salaries, hasn't any
method in his establishment, and has a dozen leaks that he can't find,
but which could easily be located by a professional leak finder. There
are a lot of men in business who are honest and willing to work, but
who are in a rut and can't see the new things coming, and who could be
put on their feet by an injection of a little outside ginger and a
readjustment of their business on more modern methods. They are the
ones who need help and who will be good for their loans; and that's one
thing we are going to try to make sure of, because we aren't going to
give any money away if we know it. It's going to be a real service too,
Miss Doane. I don't think there is anything more pitiful than a man,
who has been in business for himself, to have to give up and say he is
a failure. It hurts to be compelled to go into some one's shop as a
clerk or mechanic when you've once been your own master. It'll put jasm
into a lot of men that have lost their nerve and only need some one to
set them straight. You won't lose by it, Miss Doane; I am sure of
“I ain't thinkin' about that. Yet I ain't makin' a charity; it's a
business, and I don't want a lot of salaried people to eat up
everything. That's too much like most of them charities we looked into.
I want this a business that'll sound sensible and that'll be sensible,
and I don't want a lot of failures to think they can work us. I want
'em to find that they got the wrong pig by the ear if they try to do
the Doane fund.
“Bring that young man Frank to me and let me look him over. I ain't
very worldly, but I like to look a man in the eye if he's going to do
something for me. I want the men who's goin' to be with us, ambitious,
upright young men that's willin' to work. I hate a lazy man—I can tell
one a mile off. A lazy man's worse'n a dead one, 'cause a dead one's
put away and can't do no harm while a lazy one's always around,
spoilin' the ambitious one's work.
“Now, we won't talk business no more. Let's go into the yard. Daphne
is there with some of the babies. Let's go out to her.”
Dr. Eaton hesitated.
“I think I had better be going on to the hospital. I—I—”
Drusilla looked up at him quickly.
“Dr. Eaton, what's the matter with you? I don't understand young men
of to-day nohow. Here I been for more'n a year tryin' to have you and
Daphne see somethin' of each other, riskin' her father takin' my head
off, and now you shy off as if you thought she would bite you. Don't
you like my little girl?”
Dr. Eaton flushed under the clear brown of his tan.
“It isn't that, Miss Doane. You must know what I think of Daphne.”
“Well, what is it, then? You're clear beyond me.”
“Well—well—” and the doctor hesitated.
“Well, go on. Tell me all about it.”
“It's this way, Miss Doane. I'm only a poor doctor without much of a
practise, and it'll take me several years to work into a good one. And
Daphne—you know how she has been brought up—and the kind of things
she is used to having—and the crowd she goes with—”
“What's that got to do with it?”
“I—you must see, Miss Doane—that I can't give Daphne the things
she is used to and that she'd quite likely expect as a matter of
course—not that she is any more mercenary than any of the rest of the
girls of her set, but she doesn't understand not being rich—she has
never known anything else—”
“Oh, stuff and nonsense! I know Daphne.”
“Yes, but her people; her father—and, O Lord, Miss Doane—her
“I confess she is some pill to take; but there's one consolation—
you don't have to live with your mother-in-law in these times, and you
ain't marryin' the hull family. Is that all?”
“But then what? There is somethin' else?”
“Yes, there is, Miss Doane. I guess—I—I am old-fashioned, but I
want a home-wife—a woman who'll love babies, and have them and not
feel that they are an impediment to her career. I—I'm—a little dippy
on children—I guess—”
He laughed a little shamefacedly. “I want babies in my home—babies
that'll climb around me when I come from work—boys and girls that I
can love and do for and see grow up into men and women, that'll make me
feel that I have really done something for the world—and—and the way
Daphne's been brought up—well, her set don't believe in babies—
and—rather think motherhood is degrading—and—”
They had came to a corner of the veranda overlooking the part of the
lawn where a merry group of little children were playing
ring-a-round-a-rosy, and a tall, laughing girl was standing in the
middle of the ring, her face flushed, her eyes sparkling, as the clear
young voice sang the simple play song. The doctor's face softened and
he forgot what he was saying. They stood there a while, watching the
happy group. Then, the children becoming tired of the game, Daphne sat
down in a rocking-chair under a tree, and they grouped themselves
around her feet. She took one of the tiniest into her lap and, cuddling
it against her breast, began to rock slowly backward and forward. The
words of the old lullaby came softly:
On the tree-top,
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock—”
Drusilla looked up at Dr. Eaton and her face broke into tiny little
love wrinkles as she saw the look on his face. She put her faded old
hands on his shoulders and looked into his eyes for a long moment; then
she said softly:
“Go on, my boy; and God bless you!”
And the doctor went.
At three o'clock on July 16th, there met in the Doane library Mr.
Carrington, Mr. Raydon—the multi-millionaire and great friend of
Drusilla's—Mr. Thornton, Dr. Eaton, and half a dozen of the residents
“Gentlemen,” Drusilla began when the men were seated, “I suppose you
wonder why you are all here. I'm goin' to tell you, because you are all
my neighbors and I have heard that you are worryin' about what I am
goin' to do. We've all got a right to expect happiness in Heaven, but I
believe we git what we give, and I want to give as much happiness here
as I kin, so's I'll be sure to have somethin' to my account on the
other side. I been lookin' around fer two years, tryin' to find a way
to leave my million dollars so's to give as much happiness and joy to
them that hasn't their share, or so's to benefit the most people in the
most lastin' way, and I haven't found it yet. But I have found a way to
invest my income, and a little of the money that's come in through the
good business head and investments of Mr. Thornton.
“I've always loved babies, and I've always wanted to be a mother;
but it didn't seem to fit in with God's plans fer me. Perhaps He knowed
that I'd have a chance to mother a bigger family than I could raise
myself, no matter how hard I tried, and he sent me these babies. Now,
these are my plans fer them. I ain't goin' to start an orphan asylum,
nor a house of refuge, nor no kind of a 'home.' I ain't goin' to take
more'n I kin git along comfortable with and make a real home fer, not
an institution. I'm goin' to educate 'em and make 'em men and women
you'll be proud of, but I ain't goin' to try to make ladies and
gentlemen of 'em, whether they're born fer that or not. If a boy has a
head that'll make him an architect, then we'll make him an architect,
but if he was jest intended fer a good carpenter then he'll be a good
carpenter; and if a girl has it in her to be a school-teacher, she'll
have a chance at it—if not, she kin always make a good livin' as a
dressmaker or a milliner. They're goin' to be made into good
middle-class men and women; and when they git their education, I'll
have 'em sent out into the world with a trained brain but empty hands,
and if they've got the right stuff in 'em, they will soon fill their
“I know there's been lots of objections to the mothers of some of my
babies comin' to the neighborhood; but the ones that's willin' to come
are the ones who's wantin' a chance to become self-supportin',
self-respectin' women; and that's what most women want—jest a chance.
They'll be learnt a trade, somethin' that they have leanin's to, and
they'll go out in the world agin able to take care of themselves,
without help from no one.
“I got a lot of spare rooms in the house that's doin' no good to no
one, and I'm goin' to ask some mothers and their little ones to spend a
few days with me in the hot weather. I've been to see 'em, and I'll
always know the ones I ask. They'll be friends of mine, jest like you
ask your friends to visit you fer a few days. It won't be a mothers'
home nor a summer home nor nothin' charitable. I'm jest goin' to give a
little sunlight to some of my friends in the hot tenements, whose sack
of happiness ain't been full to overflowin'.
“Now, that disposes of my income and the new money saved, but it
ain't done nothin' with the million dollars. I been visitin'
institutions and charities, I've talked with every one who's got an
idee about it. Dr. Eaton wants me to endow a home fer children and
mothers; but I won't do that, as I can't live always to watch it. I
know that I could make Dr. Eaton manager of it, and you gentlemen
directors and my idees would be carried out as long as you was alive;
but you all got to die sometime, and it'd git to be a business thing,
payin' a lot of officials, and it'd drift into an institution like lots
I've seen, with no heart in it. I've thought a lot about them
foundations that leaves the money to be used as the times sees fit, and
they seem kind of sensible, because times change and what I'd leave it
fer now might not be needed in fifty years. New things would come up
with the new generations, and my fund'd be way behind the times and not
fit in. I'm a little leanin' towards that kind of leavin' the money,
yet—yet—I don't know. I'd like to git something new, something
different, that'd go on and on in the right way doin' good.
“Mr. Raydon kind of has leanin's towards a people's bank, lending
money to poor people who ain't got nothin' but their honesty and
reputation—but he's goin' to figger that out by himself and in the
meantime he's waitin' to see what I find out, as he's got more money
than he kin take with him. He says he's only interested 'cause he likes
me and I make him laugh, but way down deep inside of him he's got the
biggest kind of heart; but he don't want his money to be wasted when
he's gone, no more'n I do.
“Gentlemen, I want you to think it over, ask every one, the same's
I'm doin', git some new idees about the way to spend a million dollars
and spend it right.”
They rose and went to the lawn, where the neighbors with whom
Drusilla had made friends were waiting to greet their hostess. As
Drusilla passed little groups of mothers playing with their children
under the trees, the men with her saw tired faces light up, and
gratitude in faded eyes of weary mothers, while tiny children clung to
her dress or ran shyly forward to take her hands in their baby fingers.
Love shone from Drusilla's face and was reflected in the eyes of all
these poor and helpless who followed her with loving glance as she
crossed the lawn.
As they were waiting for the tea to be served Mr. Carrington stood
upon a chair and called for attention.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Mothers and Babies,” he said. “To-day is a
great day for us all, but more for the people of Brookvale than for the
others. Two years ago Miss Doane came to us, and found a great many of
us hard, self-centered, worldly. Why”—and he laughed—“I remember I
was chairman of a committee who was to wait upon her and persuade her
that she must not bring babies to our aristocratic neighborhood. I
never waited—but that is another story.
“There is a great chemist, and he dissolves selfishness and
worldliness with a little invisible powder called love. Miss Doane
brought stores of that powder with her, and scatters it over her
doughnuts and her gingerbread and her cookies that she sends us, and
she does it up in little packages that we can't see and slips it into
our pockets when we're not looking. It has spread like a fine mist over
Brookvale. And I am speaking for Brookvale, and I want to say that we
are glad to have her with us, that we are glad to see her family
growing up around her”—waving his hand toward the groups of children
on the lawn—“and on this, her seventy-second birthday, we want you all
to give three cheers for Drusilla Doane, OUR Drusilla Doane!”
And he led in the cheering that made the air resound.
Drusilla flushed and wiped her eyes, and in answer to the calls of
“Speech! Speech!” she said:
“I ain't never made a speech in my life, as I hold with St. Paul
that women should be seen and not heard. But—I want to say that I been
happy a whole heartful since I been with you—and I want to share
it—and I want you to feel that in passin' it on to others—I'm passin'
on your love that you all been a-showin' me. So you'll git it all agin,
as love always comes back. But—but—I can't talk—I can't tell you how
I feel; I jest want in my small way to make the world a little bit glad
that Elias Doane hunted up a charity home and found in it Drusilla”;
and she shyly drew back into the crowd.
When she saw the people sitting at the tables drinking their tea, or
walking over the beautiful lawns, her eyes looked for John. Finding
him, she went up to him.
“John, let's go up on the porch off my room. I'm tired, and we can
look at 'em all from there. I want to be alone with you.”
They went up to the veranda and stood overlooking the happy scene.
Mothers were sitting at the small tables happily watching their larger
children playing under the trees. Babies were rolling on the grass,
their baby prattle and laughter coming faintly to the ears of John and
Drusilla. The soft afternoon sun filtered through the trees and seemed
to cover them with a golden glow.
As Drusilla watched them, she slipped her hand into one of John's
and leaned forward, looking up at him with a soft light in her dear old
“John,” she said, “when we were young, we used to dream that we'd
grow old together and see our children's children playin' round us.”
She was silent for a moment. Then:
“John,”—she motioned toward the lawn—“let's play our dream's come