The Little Colonel, Maid of Honor
by Annie Fellows Johnston
CHAPTER I. AT
CHAPTER II. AT
CHAPTER III. IN
CHAPTER V. AT
CHAPTER VI. THE
FOX AND THE
CHAPTER VII. THE
COMING OF THE
CHAPTER VIII. AT
CHAPTER X. “A
CHAPTER XI. THE
CHAPTER XII. THE
CHAPTER XIV. A
SECOND MAID OF
CHAPTER XV. THE
END OF THE
CHAPTER XVI. THE
GOLDEN LEAF OF
CHAPTER I. AT WARWICK HALL
It was mid-afternoon by the old sun-dial that marked the hours in
Warwick Hall garden; a sunny afternoon in May. The usual busy routine
of school work was going on inside the great Hall, but no whisper of it
disturbed the quiet of the sleepy old garden. At intervals the faint
clang of the call-bell, signalling a change of classes, floated through
the open windows, but no buzz of recitations reached the hedge-hidden
path where Betty Lewis sat writing.
The whole picturesque place seemed as still as the palace of the
Sleeping Beauty. Even the peacocks on the terraced river-front stood
motionless, their resplendent tails spread out in the sun; and although
the air was filled with the odor of wild plum blossoms, the breeze that
bore it through the arbor where Betty sat, absorbed in her work, was so
gentle that it scarcely stirred the vines around her.
With her elbows resting on the rustic table in front of her, and one
finger unconsciously twisting the lock of curly brown hair that strayed
over her ear, she sat pushing her pencil rapidly across the pages of
her note-book. At times she stopped to tap impatiently on the table,
when the word she wanted failed to come. Then she would sit looking
through half-closed eyes at the sun-dial, or let her dreamy gaze follow
the lazy windings of the river, which, far below, took its slow way
along between the willows.
As editor-in-chief of The Spinster, there was good reason why
she should be excused from recitations now and then, to spend an
afternoon in this retreat. This year's souvenir volume bade fair to be
the brightest and most creditable one ever issued by the school. The
English professor not only openly said so, but was plainly so proud of
Betty's ability that the lower classes regarded her with awe, and
adored her from a distance, as a real live genius.
Whether she was a genius or not, one thing is certain, she spent
hours of patient, painstaking work to make her writing measure up to
the standard she had set for it. It was work that she loved better than
play, however, and to-day she sighed regretfully when the hunter's
horn, blowing on the upper terrace, summoned the school to its outdoor
Instantly, in answer to the winding call, the whole place began to
awaken. There was a tread of many feet on the great staircase, the
outer doors burst open, and a stream of rollicking girls poured out
into the May sunshine.
Betty knew that in a few minutes the garden would be swarming with
them as if a flock of chattering magpies had taken possession of it.
With a preoccupied frown drawing her eyebrows together, she began
gathering up her papers, preparatory to making her escape. She glanced
down the long flight of marble steps leading to the river. There on the
lowest terrace, a fringe of willow-trees trailed their sweeping
branches in the water. Around the largest of these trees ran a circular
bench. Seated on the far side of this, the huge trunk would shield her
from view of the Hall, and she decided to go down there to finish.
It would never do to stop now, when the verses were spinning
themselves out so easily. None of the girls, except her four most
intimate friends, would dare think of following her down there, and if
she could slip away from that audacious quartette, she would be safe
for the rest of the afternoon.
Peering through a hole in the hedge, she stood waiting for them to
pass. A section of the botany class came first, swinging their baskets,
and bound for a wooded hillside where wild flowers grew in profusion. A
group on their way to the golf links came next, then half a dozen
tennis players, and the newly organized basket-ball team. A moment
more, and the four she was waiting for tramped out abreast, arm in arm:
Lloyd Sherman, Gay Melville, Allison and Kitty Walton. Gay carried a
kodak, and, from the remarks which floated over the hedge, it was
evident they were on their way to the orchard, to take a picture which
would illustrate the nonsense rhyme Kitty was chanting at the top of
her voice. They all repeated it after her in a singsong chorus, the
four pairs of feet keeping time in a soldierly tread as they marched
past the garden:
Diddledy diddledy dumpty!
Three old maids in a plum-tree!
Half a crown to get them down,
Diddledy diddledy dumpty!
Only in this instance Betty knew they were to be young maids instead
of old ones, all in a row on the limb of a plum-tree in the orchard,
their laughing faces thrust through the mass of snowy blossoms, as they
waited to be photographed.
Diddledy diddledy dumptythe ridiculous refrain grew fainter and
died away as the girls passed on to the orchard, and Betty, smiling in
sympathy with their high spirits, ran down the stately marble steps to
the seat under the willow. It was so cool and shadowy down there that
at first it was a temptation just to sit and listen to the lap of the
water against the shore, but the very length of the shadows warned her
that the afternoon was passing, and after a few moments she fell to
work again with conscientious energy.
So deeply did she become absorbed in her task, she did not look up
when some one came down the steps behind her. It was an adoring little
freshman, who had caught the glimmer of her pink dress behind the tree.
The special-delivery letter she carried was her excuse for following.
She had been in a flutter of delight when Madame Chartley put it in her
hand, asking her to find Elizabeth Lewis and give it to her. But now
that she stood in the charmed presence, actually watching a poem in the
process of construction, she paused, overwhelmed by the feeling that
she was rushing in where angels feared to tread.
Still, special-delivery letters are important things. Like time and
tide they wait for no man. Somebody might be dead or dying. So
summoning all her courage, she cleared her throat. Then she gave a
bashful little cough. Betty looked up with an absent-minded stare. She
had been so busy polishing a figure of speech to her satisfaction that
she had forgotten where she was. For an instant the preoccupied little
pucker between her eyebrows smote the timid freshman with dismay. She
felt that she had gained her idol's everlasting displeasure by
intruding at such a time. But the next instant Betty's face cleared,
and the brown eyes smiled in the way that always made her friends
wherever she went.
What is it, Dora? she asked, kindly. Dora, who could only stammer
an embarrassed reply, held out the letter. Then she stood with toes
turned in, and both hands fumbling nervously with her belt ribbon,
while Betty broke the seal.
II hope it isn't bad news, she managed to say at last. II'd
hate to bring you bad news.
Betty looked up with a smile which brought Dora's heart into her
throat. Thank you, dear, she answered, cordially. Then, as her eye
travelled farther down the page, she gave a cry of pleasure.
Oh, it is perfectly lovely news, Dora. It's the most beautiful
surprise for Lloyd's birthday that ever was. She's not to know till
to-morrow. It's too good a secret to keep to myself, so I'll share it
with you in a minute if you'll swear not to tell till to-morrow.
Scarcely believing that she heard aright, Dora dropped down on the
grass, regardless of the fact that her roommate and two other girls
were waiting on the upper terrace for her to join them. They were going
to Mammy Easter's cabin to have their fortunes told. Feeling that this
was the best fortune that had befallen her since her arrival at Warwick
Hall, and sure that Mammy Easter could foretell no greater honor than
she was already enjoying, she signalled wildly for them to go on
At first they did not understand her frantic gestures for them to go
on, and stood beckoning, till she turned her back on them. Then they
moved away reluctantly and in great disgust at her abandoning them.
When a glance over her shoulder assured her that she was rid of them,
she settled down with a blissful sigh. What greater honor could she
have than to be chosen as the confidante of the most brilliant pupil
ever enrolled at Warwick Hall? At least it was reported that that was
the faculty's opinion of her. Dora's roommate, Cornie Dean, had chosen
Lloyd Sherman as the shrine of her young affections, and it was from
Cornie that Dora had learned the personal history of her literary idol.
She knew that Lloyd Sherman's mother was Betty's godmother, and that
the two girls lived together as sisters in a beautiful old home in
Kentucky called The Locusts. She had seen the photograph of the place
hanging in Betty's room, and had heard scraps of information about the
various house-parties that had frolicked under the hospitable rooftree
of the fine old mansion. She knew that they had travelled abroad, and
had had all sorts of delightful and unusual experiences. Now something
else fine and unusual was about to happen, and Betty had offered to
share a secret with her. A little shiver of pleasure passed over her at
the thought. This was so delightfully intimate and confidential, almost
like taking one of those little journeys to the homes of famous
As Betty turned the page, Dora felt with another thrill that that
was the hand which had written the poem on Friendship, which all the
girls had raved over. She herself knew it by heart, and she knew of at
least six copies which, cut from the school magazine in which it had
been published, were stuck in the frames of as many mirrors.
And that was the hand that had written the junior class song and the
play that the juniors gave on Valentine night. If reports were true
that was also the hand which would write the valedictory next year, and
which was now secretly at work upon a book which would some day place
its owner in the ranks with George Eliot and Thackeray.
While she still gazed in a sort of fascination at the daintily
manicured pink-tipped fingers, Betty looked up with a radiant face.
Now I'll read it aloud, she said. It will take several readings to
make me realize that such a lovely time is actually in store for us.
It's from godmother, she explained.
DEAR ELIZABETH:As I cannot be sure just when
this will reach Warwick Hall, I am sending the
enclosed letter to Lloyd in your care. A little
package for her birthday has already gone on to
her by express, but as this bit of news will give
her more pleasure than any gift, I want her to
receive it also on her birthday. I have just
completed arrangements for a second house-party, a
duplicate of the one she had six years ago, when
she was eleven. I have bidden to it the same
guests which came to the first one, you and
Eugenia Forbes and Joyce Ware, but Eugenia will
come as a bride this time. I have persuaded her to
have her wedding here at Locust, among her only
kindred, instead of in New York, where she and her
father have no home ties. It will be a rose
wedding, the last of June. The bridegroom's
brother, Phil Tremont, is to be best man, and
Lloyd maid of honor. Stuart's best friend, a young
doctor from Boston, is to be one of the
attendants, and Rob another. You and Joyce are to
be bridesmaids, just as you would have been had
the wedding been in New York.
Eugenia writes that she bought the material in
Paris for your gowns. I enclose a sample, pale
pink chiffon. Like a rose-leaf, is it not? Dressed
in this dainty color, you will certainly carry out
my idea of a rose wedding. Now do not let the
thoughts of all this gaiety interfere with your
studies. That is all I can tell you now, but you
may spend your spare time until school is out
planning things to make this the happiest of
house-parties, and we will try to carry out all
the plans that are practicable. Your devoted
Betty spread the sample of chiffon out over her knee, and stroked it
admiringly, before she slipped it back into the envelope with the
letter. The Princess is going to be so happy over this, she
exclaimed. I'm sure she'll enjoy this second house-party at seventeen
a hundred times more than she did the first one at eleven, and yet
nobody could have had more fun than we did at that time.
Dora's eager little face was eloquent with interest. Betty could not
have chosen a more attentive listener, and, inspired by her flattering
attention, she went on to recall some of the good times they had had at
Locust, and in answer to Dora's timid questions explained why Lloyd was
called The Little Colonel and the Princess Winsome and the Queen of
Hearts and Hildegarde, and all the other titles her different friends
had showered upon her.
She must have been born with a gold spoon in her mouth, to be so
lucky, sighed Dora, presently. Life has been all roses for her, and
no thorns whatever.
No, indeed! answered Betty, quickly. She had a dreadful
disappointment last year. She was taken sick during the Christmas
vacation, and had to stay out of school all last term. It nearly broke
her heart to drop behind her class, and she still grieves over it every
day. The doctors forbade her taking extra work to catch up with it.
Then so much is expected of an only child like her, who has had so many
advantages, and it is no easy matter living up to all the expectations
of a family like the old Colonel's.
Betty's back was turned to the terraces, but Dora, who faced them,
happened to look up just then. There she comes now, she cried in
alarm. Hide the letter! Quick, or she'll see you!
Glancing over her shoulder, Betty saw, not only the four girls she
had run away from, but four others, running down the terraces, taking
the flight of marble steps two at a time. Gay's shoe-strings were
tripping her at every leap, and Lloyd's hair had shaken down around her
shoulders in a shining mass in the wild race from the orchard.
Lloyd reached the willow first. Dropping down on the bench, almost
breathless, she began fanning herself with her hat.
Oh! she gasped. Tell me quick, Betty! What is the mattah? Cornie
Dean said a messenger boy had just come out to the Hall on a bicycle
with a special-delivery lettah from home. I was so suah something awful
had happened I could hardly run, it frightened me so.
And we thought maybe something had happened at 'The Beeches,'
interrupted Allison, and that mamma had written to you to break the
news to us.
Why, nothing at all is the matter, answered Betty, calmly, darting
a quick look at Dora to see if her face was betraying anything. It was
just a little note from godmother. She wanted me to attend to something
But why should she send it by special delivery if it isn't
impawtant? asked Lloyd, in an aggrieved tone.
It is important, laughed Betty. Very.
For goodness' sake, what is it, then? demanded Lloyd. Don't tease
me by keeping me in suspense, Betty. You know that anything about
mothah or The Locusts must concern me, too, and that I am just as much
interested in the special lettah as you are. I should think it would be
just as much my business as yoah's.
This does concern you, admitted Betty, and I'm dying to tell you,
but godmother doesn't want you to know until to-morrow.
To-morrow, echoed Lloyd, much puzzled. Then her face lighted up.
Oh, it's about my birthday present. Tell me what it is now,
Betty, she wheedled. I'd lots rathah know now than to wait. I could
be enjoying the prospect of having whatevah it is all the rest of the
Betty clapped her hands over her mouth, and rocked back and forth on
the bench, her eyes shining mischievously.
Do go away, she begged. Don't ask me! It's so
lovely that I can hardly keep from telling you, and I'm afraid if you
stay here I'll not have strength of character to resist.
Tell us, Betty, suggested Kitty. Lloyd will hide her ears
while you confide in us.
No, indeed! laughed Betty. The cat is half out of the bag when a
secret is once shared, and I know you couldn't keep from telling Lloyd
more than an hour or two.
Just then Lloyd, leaning forward, pounced upon something at Betty's
feet. It was the sample of pink chiffon that had dropped from the
Sherlock Holmes the second! she cried. I've discovahed the
secret. It has something to do with Eugenia's rose wedding, and mothah
is going to give me my bridesmaid's dress as a birthday present. Own up
now, Betty. Isn't that it?
Betty darted a startled look at Dora. Well, she admitted,
cautiously, if it were a game of hunt the slipper, I'd say you were
getting rather warm. That is not the present your mother
mentioned, although it is a sample of the bridesmaids' dresses.
Eugenia got the material in Paris for all of them. I'm at liberty to
tell you that much.
Is that the wedding where you are to be maid of honor, Princess?
asked Grace Campman, one of the girls who had been posing in the
plum-tree, and who had followed her down to hear the news.
Yes, answered Lloyd. Is it any wondah that I'm neahly wild with
Make her tell, urged an excited chorus. Just half a day
beforehand won't make any difference.
Let's all begin and beg her, suggested Grace.
Lloyd, long used to gaining her own way with Betty by a system of
affectionate coaxing hard to resist, turned impulsively to begin the
siege to wrest the secret from her, but another reference to the maid
of honor by Grace made her pause. Then she said suddenly, with the
well-known princess-like lifting of the head that they all admired:
No, don't tell me, Betty. A maid of honah should be too
honahable to insist on finding out things that were not intended for
her to know. I hadn't thought. If mothah took all the trouble of
sending a special-delivery lettah to you to keep me from knowing till
my birthday, I'm not going to pry around trying to find out.
Well, if you aren't the queerest, began Grace. One would
think to hear you talk that 'maid of honor' was some great title to be
lived up to like the 'Maid of Orleans,' and that only some high and
mighty creature like Joan of Arc could do it. But it's nothing more
than to go first in the wedding march, and hold the bride's bouquet. I
shouldn't think you'd let a little thing like that stand in the way of
your finding out what you're so crazy to know.
Wouldn't you? asked Lloyd, with a slight shrug, and in a
tone which Dora described afterward to Cornie as simply withering.
'Well, that's the difference, as you see,
Betwixt my lord the king and me!'
To Grace's wonder, she dropped the sample of pink chiffon in Betty's
lap, as if it had lost all interest for her, and stood up.
Come on, girls, she exclaimed. Let's take the rest of those
pictuahs. There are two moah films left in the roll.
I might as well go with you, said Betty, gathering up the loose
leaves that had fallen from her note-book. It's no use trying to write
with my head so full of the grand secret. I couldn't possibly think of
Arm in arm with Allison, she sauntered up the steps behind the
others to the old garden, which was the pride of every pupil in Warwick
Hall. The hollyhocks from Ann Hathaway's cottage had not yet begun to
flaunt their rosettes of color, but the rhododendrons from Killarney
were in gorgeous bloom. As Lloyd focussed the camera in such a way as
to make them a background for a picture of the sun-dial, Betty heard
Kitty ask: You'll let us know early in the morning what your present
is, won't you, Princess?
Yes, I'll run into yoah room with it early in the mawning, just as
soon as I lay eyes on it myself, promised Lloyd, solemnly.
She can't! whispered Betty to Allison, with a giggle. In the
first place, it's something that can't be carried, and in the second
place it will take a month for her to see all of it herself.
Allison stopped short in the path, her face a picture of baffled
curiosity. Betty Lewis, she said, solemnly, I could find it in my
heart to choke you. Don't tempt me too far, or I'll do it with a good
Betty laughed and pushed aside the vines at the entrance to the
arbor. Come in here, she said, in a low tone. I've intended all
along to tell you as soon as we got away from Grace Campman and those
freshmen, for it concerns you and Kitty, too. You missed the first
house-party we had at The Locusts, but you'll have a big share in the
second one. For a June house-party with a wedding in it is the
'surprise' godmother has written about in Lloyd's birthday letter.
CHAPTER II. AT WARE'S WIGWAM
In order that Lloyd's invitation to her own house-party might reach
her on her birthday, it had not been mailed until several days after
the others. So it happened that the same morning on which she slipped
across the hall in her kimono, to share her first rapturous delight
with Kitty, Joyce Ware's letter reached the end of its journey.
The postman on the first rural delivery route out of Phoenix jogged
along in his cart toward Ware's Wigwam. He had left the highway and was
following the wheel-tracks which led across the desert to Camelback
Mountain. The horse dropped into a plodding walk as the wheels began
pulling heavily through the sand, and the postman yawned. This stretch
of road through the cactus and sage-brush was the worst part of his
daily trip. He rarely passed anything more interesting than a
jack-rabbit, but this morning he spied something ahead that aroused his
At first it seemed only a flash of something pink beating the air;
but, as he jogged nearer, he saw that the flash of pink was a
short-skirted gingham dress. A high-peaked Mexican hat hid the face of
the wearer, but it needed no second glance to tell him who she was.
Every line of the sturdy little figure, from the uplifted arms
brandishing a club to the dusty shoes planted widely apart to hold her
balance, proclaimed that it was Mary Ware. As the blows fell with
relentless energy, the postman chuckled.
Must be killing a snake, he thought. Whatever it is, it will be
flatter than a pancake when she gets through with it.
Somehow he always felt like chuckling when he met Mary Ware.
Whatever she happened to be doing was done with a zeal and a vim that
made this fourteen-year-old girl a never-failing source of amusement to
the easy-going postman. Now as he came within speaking distance, he saw
a surrey drawn up to the side of the road, and recognized the horse as
old Bogus from Lee's ranch.
[Illustration: IT NEEDED NO SECOND GLANCE TO TELL HIM WHO SHE WAS"]
A thin, tall woman, swathed in a blue veil, sat stiffly on the back
seat, reaching forward to hold the reins in a grasp that showed both
fear and unfamiliarity in the handling of horses. She was a new boarder
at Lee's ranch. Evidently they had been out on some errand for Mrs.
Lee, and were returning from one of the neighboring orange-groves, for
the back of the surrey was filled with oranges and grapefruit.
The postman's glance turned from the surrey to the object in the
road with an exclamation of surprise. One of the largest rattlesnakes
he had ever seen lay stretched out there, and Mary, having dropped her
club, was proceeding to drag it toward the surrey by a short lasso made
of a piece of the hitching-rope. The postman stood up in his cart to
look at it.
Better be sure it's plumb dead before you give it a seat in your
carriage, he advised.
Mary gave a glance of disgust toward the blue-veiled figure in the
Oh, it's dead, she said, witheringly. Mr. Craydock shot
its head off to begin with, over at the orange-grove this morning, and
I've killed it four different times on our way home. He gave it to me
to take to Norman for his collection. But Miss Scudder is so scared of
it that she makes me get out every half-mile to pound a few more inches
off its neck. It was a perfect beauty when we started,five feet long
and twelve rattles. I'm so afraid I'll break off some of the rattles
that I'll be mighty glad when I get it safely home.
So will I! ejaculated Miss Scudder, so fervently that the postman
laughed as he drove on.
Any mail for us? Mary called after him.
Only some papers and a letter for your sister, he answered over
Now why didn't I ask him to take me and the snake on home in the
cart with him? exclaimed Mary, as she lifted the rattler into the
surrey by means of the lasso, and took the reins from the new boarder's
uneasy hands. Even if you can't drive, Bogus could take you to the
ranch all right by himself. Lots of times when Hazel Lee and I are out
driving, we wrap the reins around the whipholder and let him pick his
own way. Now I'll have to drag this snake all the way from the ranch to
the Wigwam, and it will be a dreadful holdback when I'm in such a hurry
to get there and see who Joyce's letter is from.
You see, she continued, clucking cheerfully to Bogus, the
postman's mail-pouch is almost as interesting as a grab-bag, since my
two brothers went away. Holland is in the navy, she added, proudly,
and my oldest brother, Jack, has a position in the mines up where
mamma and Norman and I are going to spend the summer.
Three years in the desert had not made Mary Ware any the less
talkative. At fourteen she was as much of a chatterbox as ever, but so
diverting, with her fund of unexpected information and family history
and her cheerful outlook on life, that Mrs. Lee often sent for her to
amuse some invalid boarder, to the mutual pleasure of the small
philosopher and her audience.
The experiment this morning had proved anything but a pleasure drive
for either of them, however. Timid Miss Scudder, afraid of horses,
afraid of the lonely desert, and with a deathly horror of snakes, gave
a sigh of relief when they came in sight of the white tents clustered
around the brown adobe ranch house on the edge of the irrigating canal.
But with the end of her journey in sight, she relaxed her strained
muscles and nerves somewhat, and listened with interest to what Mary
This year has brought three of us our heart's desires, anyhow.
Holland has been wild to get into the navy ever since he was big enough
to know that there is one. Jack has been looking forward to this
position in the mines ever since we came out West. It will be the
making of him, everybody says. And Joyce's one dream in life has been
to save enough money to go East to take lessons in designing. Her bees
have done splendidly, but I don't believe she could have quite
managed it if Eugenia Forbes hadn't invited her to be one of the
bridesmaids at her wedding, and promised to send her a pass to New
She broke off abruptly as Bogus came to a stop in front of the
tents, and, standing up, she proceeded to dangle the snake carefully
over the wheel, till it was lowered in safety to the ground. Ordinarily
she would have lingered at the ranch until the occupant of every tent
had strolled out to admire her trophy, and afterward might have
accepted Hazel Lee's invitation to stay to dinner. It was a common
occurrence for them to spend their Saturdays together. But to-day not
even the promise of strawberry shortcake and a ride home afterward,
when it was cooler, could tempt her to stay.
The yellow road stretched hot and glaring across the treeless
desert. The snake was too heavy to carry on a pole over her shoulder.
She would have to drag it through the sun and sand if she went now. But
her curiosity was too strong to allow her to wait. She must find out
what was in that letter to Joyce. If it were from Jack, there would be
something in it about their plans for the summer; maybe a kodak picture
of the shack in the pine woods near the mines, where they were to
board. If it were from Holland, there would be another interesting
chapter of his experiences on board the training-ship.
Once as she trudged along the road, it occurred to her that the
letter might be from her cousin Kate, the witch with a wand, who had
so often played fairy godmother to the family. She might be writing to
say that she had sent another box. Straightway Mary's active
imagination fell to picturing its contents so blissfully that she
forgot the heat of the sun-baked road over which she was going. Her
face was beaded with perspiration and her eyes squinted nearly shut
under the broad brim of the Mexican sombrero, but, revelling in the
picture her mind called up of cool white dresses and dainty thin-soled
slippers, she walked faster and faster, oblivious to the heat and the
glaring light. Her sunburned cheeks were flaming red when she finally
reached the Wigwam, and the locks of hair straggling down her forehead
hung in limp wet strings.
Lifting the snake carefully across the bridge which spanned the
irrigating canal, she trailed it into the yard and toward the
umbrella-tree which shaded the rustic front porch. Under this
sheltering umbrella-tree, which spread its dense arch like a roof, sat
Joyce and her mother. The heap of muslin goods piled up around them
showed that they had spent a busy morning sewing. But they were idle
now. One glance showed Mary that the letter, whosever it was, had
brought unusual news. Joyce sat on the door-step with it in her lap and
her hands clasped over her knees. Mrs. Ware, leaning back in her
sewing-chair, was opening and shutting a pair of scissors in an
absent-minded manner, as if her thoughts were a thousand miles away.
Well, it's good news, anyway, was Mary's first thought, as she
glanced at her sister's radiant face. She wouldn't look so pretty if
it wasn't. It's a pity she can't be hearing good news all the time.
When her eyes shine like that, she's almost beautiful. Now me, all the
good news in the world wouldn't make me look beautiful, freckled
and fat and sunburned as I am, and my hair so fine and thin and
She paused in her musings to look up each sleeve for her
handkerchief, and not finding it in either, caught up the hem of her
short pink skirt to wipe her perspiring face.
Oh, what did the postman bring? she demanded, seating
herself on the edge of the hammock swung under the umbrella-tree. I've
almost walked myself into a sunstroke, hurrying to get here and find
out. Is it from Jack or Holland or Cousin Kate?
It is from The Locusts, answered Joyce, leaning forward to see
what was tied to the other end of the rope which Mary still held.
Seeing that it was only a snake, something which Mary and Holland were
always dragging home, to add to their collection of skins and shells,
she went on:
The Little Colonel is to have a second house-party. The same girls
that were at the first one are invited for the month of June, and
Eugenia is to be married there instead of in New York. Think what a
wedding it will be, in that beautiful old Southern home! A thousand
times nicer than it would have been in New York.
She stopped to enjoy the effect her news had produced. Mary's face
was glowing with unselfish pleasure in her sister's good fortune.
And we're to wear pale pink chiffon dresses, just the color of wild
roses. Eugenia got the material in Paris when she ordered her
wedding-gown, and they're to be made in Louisville after we get there.
The light in Mary's face was deepening.
And Phil Tremont is to be there the entire month of June. He is to
be best man, you know, since Eugenia is to marry his brother.
Oh, Joyce! gasped Mary. What a heavenly time you are going to
have! Just The Locusts by itself would be good enough, but to be there
at a house-party, and have Phil there and to see a wedding! I've always
wanted to go to a wedding. I never saw one in my life.
Tell her the rest, daughter, prompted Mrs. Ware, gently. Don't
keep her in the dark any longer.
Well, then, said Joyce, smiling broadly. Let me break it to you
by degrees, so the shock won't give you apoplexy or heart-failure. The
rest of it is, that youMary Ware, are invited also. You
are invited to go with me to the house-party at The Locusts! And
you'll see the wedding, for Mr. Sherman is going to send tickets
for both of us, and mamma and I have made all the plans. Now that she
is so well, she won't need either of us while she's up at the camp with
Jack, and the money it would have taken to pay your board will buy the
new clothes you need.
All the color faded out of the hot little face as Mary listened,
growing pale with excitement.
Oh, mamma, is it true? she asked, imploringly. I don't see
how it can be. But Joyce wouldn't fool me about anything as big as
this, would she?
She asked the question in such a quiver of eagerness that the tears
sprang to her eyes. Joyce had expected her to spin around on her toes
and squeal one delighted little squeal after another, as she usually
did when particularly happy. She did not know what to expect next, when
all of a sudden Mary threw herself across her mother's lap and began to
sob and laugh at the same time.
Oh, mamma, the old Vicar was right. It's been awfully hard
sometimes to k-keep inflexible. Sometimes I thought it would nearly
k-kill me! But we did it! We did it! And now fortune has changed
in our favor, and everything is all right!
A rattle of wheels made her look up and hastily wipe the hem of her
pink skirt across her face again. A wagon was stopping at the gate, and
the man who was to stay in one of the tents and take care of the bees
in their absence was getting out to discuss the details of the
arrangement. Joyce tossed the letter into Mary's lap and rose to follow
her mother out to the hives. There were several matters of business to
arrange with him, and Mary knew it would be some time before they could
resume the exciting conversation he had interrupted. She read the
letter through, hardly believing the magnitude of her good fortune.
But, as the truth of it began to dawn upon her, she felt that she could
not possibly keep such news to herself another instant. It might be an
hour before Joyce and her mother had finished discussing business with
the man and Norman was away fishing somewhere up the canal.
So, settling her hat on her head, she started back over the hot
road, so absorbed in the thought of all she had to tell Hazel that she
was wholly unconscious of the fact that she was still holding tightly
to the rope tied around the rattler's neck. Five feet of snake twitched
along behind her as she started on a run toward the ranch.
CHAPTER III. IN BEAUTY'S QUEST
Fortune has at lastfortune has at last
Fortune has at last changed in our fa-vor!
A hundred times, in the weeks that followed, Mary turned the old
Vicar's saying into sort of a chant, and triumphantly intoned it as she
went about the house, making preparations for her journey. Most of the
time she was not aware that her lips were repeating what her heart was
constantly singing, and one day, to her dire mortification, she chanted
the entire strain in one of the largest dry-goods stores in Phoenix,
before she realized what she was doing.
She had gone with Joyce to select some dress material for herself.
It had been so long since Mary had had any clothes except garments made
over and handed down, that the wealth of choice offered her was almost
overpowering. To be sure it was a bargain counter they were hanging
over, but the remnants of lawn and organdy and gingham were so
entrancingly new in design and dainty in coloring, that without a
thought to appearances she caught up the armful of pretty things which
Joyce had decided they could afford. Clasping them ecstatically in an
impulsive hug, she sang at the top of her voice, just as she would have
done had she been out alone on the desert: Fortune has at last changed
in our fa-vor!
When Joyce's horrified exclamation and the clerk's amused smile
recalled her to her surroundings, she could have gone under the counter
with embarrassment. Although she flushed hotly for several days
whenever she thought of the way everybody in the store turned to stare
at her, she still hummed the same words whenever a sense of her great
good fortune overwhelmed her. Such times came frequently, especially
whenever a new garment was completed and she could try it on with much
preening and many satisfied turns before the mirror.
It was on one of these occasions, when she was proudly revolving in
the daintiest of them all, a pale blue mull which she declared was the
color of a wild morning-glory, that a remark of her mother's, in the
next room, filled her with dismay. It had not been intended for her
ears, but it floated in distinctly, above the whirr of the
Joyce, I am sorry we made up that blue for Mary. She's so tanned
and sunburned that it seems to bring out all the red tints in her skin,
and makes her look like a little squaw. I never realized how this
climate has injured her complexion until I saw her in that shade of
blue, and remembered how becoming it used to be. She was like an
apple-blossom, all white and pink, when we came out here.
Mary had been so busy looking at her new clothes that she had paid
little attention to the face above them, reflected in the mirror. It
had tanned so gradually that she had become accustomed to having that
sunbrowned little visage always smile back at her. Besides, every one
she met was tanned by the wind and weather, some of them spotted with
big dark freckles. Joyce wasn't. Joyce had always been careful about
wearing a sunbonnet or a wide brimmed hat when she went out in the sun.
Mary remembered now, with many compunctions, how often she had been
warned to do the same. She wished with all her ardent little soul that
she had not been so careless, and presently, after a serious,
half-tearful study of herself in the glass, she went away to find a
In the back of the cook-book, she remembered, there was a receipt
for cold cream, and in a magazine Mrs. Lee had loaned them was a whole
column devoted to face bleaches and complexion restorers. Having read
each formula, she decided to try them all in turn, if the first did not
Buttermilk and lemon juice were to be had for the taking and could
be applied at night after Joyce had gone to sleep. Half-ashamed of this
desire to make herself beautiful, Mary shrank from confiding her
troubles to any one. But several nights' use of all the home remedies
she could get, failed to produce the desired results. When she
anxiously examined herself in the glass, the unflattering mirror
plainly showed her a little face, not one whit fairer for all its
The house-party was drawing near too rapidly to waste time on things
of such slow action, and at last, in desperation, she took down the
savings-bank in which, after long hoarding, she had managed to save
nearly two dollars. By dint of a button-hook and a hat-pin and an
hour's patient poking, she succeeded in extracting five dimes. These
she wrapped in tissue paper, and folded in a letter. In a Phoenix
newspaper she had seen an advertisement of a magical cosmetic, to be
found on sale at one of the local drug-stores, and this was an order
for a box.
She was accustomed to running out to watch for the postman. Often in
her eagerness to get the mail she had met him half a mile down the
road. So she had ample opportunity to send her order and receive a
reply without the knowledge of any of the family.
It was a delicious-smelling ointment. The directions on the wrapper
said that on retiring, it was to be applied to the face like a thick
paste, and a linen mask worn to prevent its rubbing off.
Now that the boys were away, Mary shared the circular tent with
Joyce. The figures mystical and awful which she and Holland had put
on its walls with green paint the day they moved to the Wigwam, had
faded somewhat in the fierce sun of tropical summers, but they still
grinned hideously from all sides. Outlandish as they were, however, no
face on all the encircling canvas was as grotesque as the one which
emerged from under the bed late in the afternoon, the day the box of
cosmetic was received.
Mary had crept under the bed in order to escape Norman's prying eyes
in case he should glance into the tent in search of her. There,
stretched out on the floor with a pair of scissors and a piece of one
of her old linen aprons, she had fashioned herself a mask, in
accordance with the directions on the box. The holes cut for the eyes
and nose were a trifle irregular, one eye being nearly half an inch
higher than the other, and the mouth was decidedly askew. But tapes
sewed on at the four corners made it ready for instant use, and when
she had put it on and crawled out from under the bed, she regarded
herself in the glass with great satisfaction.
I hope Joyce won't wake up in the night and see me, she thought.
She'd be scared stiff. This is a lot of trouble and expense, but I
just can't go to the house-party looking like a fright. I'd do lots
more than this to keep the Princess from being ashamed of me.
Then she put it away and went out to the hammock, under the
umbrella-tree, and while she sat swinging back and forth for a long
happy hour, she pictured to herself the delights of the coming
house-party. The Princess would be changed, she knew. Her last
photograph showed that. One is almost grown up at seventeen, and she
had been only fourteen, Mary's age, when she made that never to be
forgotten visit to the Wigwam. And she would see Betty and Betty's
godmother and Papa Jack and the old Colonel and Mom Beck. The very
names, as she repeated them in a whisper, sounded interesting to her.
And the two little knights of Kentucky, and Miss Allison and the
Waltonsthey were all mythical people in one sense, like Alice in
Wonderland and Bo-peep, yet in another they were as real as Holland or
Hazel Lee, for they were household names, and she had heard so much
about them that she felt a sort of kinship with each one.
With the mask and the box tucked away in readiness under her pillow,
it was an easy matter after Joyce had gone to sleep for Mary to lift
herself to a sitting posture, inch by inch. Cautiously as a cat she
raised herself, then sat there in the darkness scooping out the smooth
ointment with thumb and finger, and spreading it thickly over her
inquisitive little nose and plump round cheeks. All up under her hair
and down over her chin she rubbed it with energy and thoroughness. Then
tying on the mask, she eased herself down on her elbow, little by
little, and snuggled into her pillow with a sigh of relief.
It was a long time before she fell asleep. The odor of the ointment
was sickeningly sweet, and the mask gave her a hot smothery feeling.
When she finally dozed off it was to fall into a succession of uneasy
dreams. She thought that the cat was sitting on her face; that an old
ogre had her head tied up in a bag and was carrying it home to change
into an apple dumpling, then that she was a fly and had fallen into a
bottle of mucilage. From the last dream she roused with a start, hot
and uncomfortable, but hardly wide awake enough to know what was the
The salty dried beef they had had for supper made her intensely
thirsty, and remembering the pitcher of fresh water which Joyce always
brought into the tent every night, she slipped out of bed and stumbled
across the floor toward the table. The moon was several nights past the
full now, so that at this late hour the walls of the tent glimmered
white in its light, and where the flap was turned back at the end, it
shone in, in a broad white path.
Not more than half awake, Mary had forgotten the elaborate way in
which she had tied up her face, and catching sight in the mirror of an
awful spook gliding toward her, she stepped back, almost frozen with
terror. Never had she imagined such a hideous ghost, white as flour,
with one round eye higher than the other, and a dreadful slit of a
mouth, all askew.
She was too frightened to utter a sound, but the pitcher fell to the
floor with a crash, and as the cold water splashed over her feet she
bounded back into bed and pulled the cover over her head. Instantly, as
her hand came in contact with the mask on her face, she realized that
it was only her own reflection in the glass which had frightened her,
but the shock was so great she could not stop trembling.
Wakened by the sound of the breaking pitcher and Mary's wild plunge
back into bed, Joyce sat up in alarm, but in response to her whisper
Mary explained in muffled tones from under the bedclothes that she had
simply gotten up for a drink of water and dropped the pitcher. All the
rest of the night her sleep was fitful and uneasy, for toward morning
her face began to burn as if it were on fire. She tore off the mask and
used it to wipe away what remained of the ointment. Most of it had been
absorbed, however, and the skin was broken out in little red blisters.
Maybe in her zeal she had used too much of the magical cosmetic, or
maybe her face, already made tender by various applications, resented
the vigorous rubbings she gave it. At any rate she had cause to be
frightened when she saw herself in the mirror. As she lifted the
pitcher from the wash-stand, she happened to glance at the proverb
calendar hanging over the towel-rack, and saw the verse for the day. It
was Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a
fall. The big red letters stood out accusingly.
Oh dear, she thought, as she plunged her burning face into the
bowl of cold water, if I hadn't had so much miserable pride, I
wouldn't have destroyed what little complexion I had left. Like as not
the skin will all peel off now, and I'll look like a half-scaled fish
She was so irritable later, when Joyce exclaimed over her blotched
and mottled appearance, that Mrs. Ware decided she must be coming down
with some kind of rash. It was only to prevent her mother sending for a
doctor, that Mary finally confessed with tears what she had done.
Why didn't you ask somebody? said Joyce trying not to let her
voice betray the laughter which was choking her, for Mary showed a
grief too deep to ridicule.
II was ashamed to, she confessed, and I wanted to surprise you
all. The advertisement said g-grow b-beautiful while you sleep, and
nowoh, it's spoiled me! she wailed. And I can't go to the
Yes, you can, goosey, said Joyce, consolingly. Mamma has Grandma
Ware's old receipt for rose balm, that will soon heal those blisters.
You would have saved yourself a good deal of trouble and suffering if
you had gone to her in the first place.
Well, don't I know that? blazed Mary, angrily. Then hiding her
face in her arms she began to sob. You don't know what it is to be
uh-ugly like me! I heard mamma say that I was as brown as a squaw, and
I couldn't bear to think of Lloyd and Betty and everybody at The
Locusts seeing me that way. That's why I did it!
You are not ugly, Mary Ware, insisted Joyce, in a most reproving
big-sisterly voice. Everybody can't be a raving, tearing beauty, and
anybody with as bright and attractive a little face as yours ought to
be satisfied to let well enough alone.
That's all right for you replied Mary, bitterly. But you
aren't fat, with a turned-up nose and just a little thin straight
pigtail of hair. You're pretty, and an artist, and you're going to be
somebody some day. But I'm just plain 'little Mary,' with no talents or
Choking with tears, she rushed out of the room, and took refuge in
the swing down by the beehives. For once the School of the Bees
failed to whisper a comforting lesson. This was a trouble which she
could not seal up in its cell, and for many days it poisoned all life's
honey. Presently she slipped back into the house for a pencil and box
of paper, and sitting on the swing with her geography on her knees for
a writing-table, she poured out her troubles in a letter to Jack. It
was only a few hundred miles to the mines, and she could be sure of a
sympathetic answer before the blisters were healed on her face, or the
hurt had faded out of her sensitive little heart.
CHAPTER IV. MARY'S PROMISED LAND
It was a hot, tiresome journey back to Kentucky. Joyce, worn out
with all the hurried preparations of packing her mother and Norman off
to the mines, closing the Wigwam for the summer, and putting her own
things in order for a long absence, was glad to lean back in her seat
with closed eyes, and take no notice of her surroundings. But Mary
travelled in the same energetic way in which she killed snakes. Nothing
escaped her. Every passenger in the car, every sight along the way was
an object of interest. She sat up straight and eager, scarcely batting
an eyelash, for fear of missing something.
To her great relief the peeling process had been a short one, and
thanks to the rose balm, not a trace of a blister was left on her
smooth skin to remind her of her foolish little attempt to beautify
herself in secret. The first day she made no acquaintances, for she
admired the reserved way in which her pretty nineteen-year-old sister
travelled, and tried to imitate her, but after one day of elegant
composure she longed for a chance to drop into easy sociability with
some of her neighbors. They no longer seemed like strangers after she
had travelled in their company for twenty-four hours.
So she seized the first social opportunity which came to her next
morning. A middle-aged woman, who was taking up all the available space
in the dressing-room, grudgingly moved over a few inches when Mary
tried to squeeze in to wash her face. Any one but Mary would have
regarded her as a most unpromising companion, when she answered her
question with a grumbling Yes, been on two days, and got two more to
go. The tone was as ungracious as if she had said, Mind your own
The train was passing over a section of rough road just then, and
they swayed against each other several times, with polite apologies on
Mary's part. Then as the woman finished skewering her hair into a tight
knot she relaxed into friendliness far enough to ask, Going far
Yes, indeed! answered Mary, cheerfully, reaching for a towel.
Going to the Promised Land.
The car gave a sudden lurch, and the woman dropped her comb, as she
was sent toppling against Mary so forcibly that she pinned her to the
wall a moment.
My! she exclaimed as she regained her balance. You don't mean
clear to Palestine!
No'm; our promised land is Kentucky, Mary hastened to explain.
Mamma used to live there, and she's told us so much about the
beautiful times that she used to have in Lloydsboro Valley that it's
been the dream of our life to go there. Since we've been wandering
around in the desert, sort of camping out the way the old Israelites
did, we've got into the way of calling that our promised land.
Well, I wouldn't count too much on it, advised the woman, sourly.
They say distance lends enchantment, and things hardly ever turn out
as nice as you think they're going to.
They do at our house, persisted Mary, with unfailing cheerfulness.
They generally turn out nicer.
Evidently her companion felt the worse for a night in a sleeper and
had not yet been set to rights with the world by her morning cup of
coffee, for she answered as if Mary's rose-colored view of life so
early in the day irritated her.
Well, maybe your folks are an exception to the rule, she said,
sharply, but I know how it is with the world in general. Even old
Moses himself didn't have his journey turn out the way he expected to.
He looked forward to his promised land for forty years, and then
didn't get to put foot on it.
But he got to go to heaven instead, persisted Mary, triumphantly,
and that's the best thing that could happen to anybody, especially if
you're one hundred and twenty years old.
There was no answer to this statement, and another passenger
appearing at the dressing-room door just then, the woman remarked
something about two being company and three a crowd, and squeezed past
Mary to let the newcomer take her place.
She was more crowd than company, remarked Mary
confidentially to the last arrival. She took up most as much room as
two people, and it's awful the way she looks on the dark side of
There was an amused twinkle in the newcomer's eyes. She was a much
younger woman than the one whose place she had taken, and evidently it
was no trial for her to be sociable before breakfast. In a few minutes
she knew all about the promised land to which the little pilgrim was
journeying, and showed such friendly interest in the wedding and the
other delights in store for her that Mary lingered over her toilet as
long as possible, in order to prolong the pleasure of having such an
But she found others just as attentive before the day was over. The
grateful mother whose baby she played with, welcomed her advances as
she would have welcomed sunshine on a rainy day. The tired tourists who
yawned over their time-tables, found her enthusiastic interest in
everybody the most refreshing thing they had met in their travels. By
night she was on speaking terms with nearly everybody in the car, and
at last, when the long journey was done, a host of good wishes and
good-byes followed her all down the aisle, as her new-made friends
watched her departure, when the train slowed into the Union Depot in
Louisville. She little dreamed what an apostle of good cheer she had
been on her journey, or how long her eager little face and odd remarks
would be remembered by her fellow passengers.
All she thought of as the train stopped was that at last she had
reached her promised land.
Those of the passengers who had thrust their heads out of the
windows, saw a tall, broad-shouldered young man come hurrying along
toward the girls, and heard Joyce exclaim in surprise, Why, Rob Moore!
Who ever dreamed of seeing you here? I thought you were in
So I was till day before yesterday, he answered, as they shook
hands like the best of old friends. But grandfather was so ill they
telegraphed for me, and I got leave of absence for the rest of the
term. We were desperately alarmed about him, but 'all's well that ends
well,' He is out of danger now, and it gave me this chance of coming to
Mary, standing at one side, watched in admiring silence the easy
grace of his greeting and the masterful way in which he took possession
of Joyce's suit-case and trunk checks. When he turned to her to
acknowledge his introduction as respectfully as if she had been forty
instead of fourteen, her admiration shot up like mercury in a
thermometer. She had felt all along that she knew Rob Moore intimately,
having heard so much of his past escapades from Joyce and Lloyd. It was
Rob who had given Joyce the little fox terrier, Bob, which had been
such a joy to the whole family. It was Rob who had shared all the
interesting life at The Locusts which she had heard pictured so vividly
that she had long felt that she even knew exactly how he looked. It was
somewhat of a shock to find him grown up into this dignified young
fellow, broad of shoulders and over six feet tall.
As he led the way out to the street and hailed a passing car, he
explained why Lloyd had not come in to meet them, adding, Your train
was two hours late, so I telephoned out to Mrs. Sherman that we would
have lunch in town. I'll take you around to Benedict's.
Mary had never eaten in a restaurant before, so it was with an
inward dread that she might betray the fact that she followed Joyce and
Rob to a side-table spread for three. In her anxiety to do the right
thing she watched her sister like a hawk, copying every motion, till
they were safely launched on the first course of their lunch. Then she
relaxed her watchfulness long enough to take a full breath and look at
some of the people to whom Rob had bowed as they entered.
She wanted to ask the name of the lady in black at the opposite
table. The little girl with her attracted her interest so that she
could hardly eat. She was about her own age and she had such lovely
long curls and such big dark eyes. To Mary, whose besetting sin was a
love of pretty clothes, the picture hat the other girl wore was
irresistible. She could not keep her admiring glances away from it, and
she wished with all her heart she had one like it. Presently Joyce
noticed it too, and asked the very question Mary had been longing to
That is Mrs. Walton, the General's wife, you know, answered Rob,
and her youngest daughter, Elise. You'll probably see all three of the
girls while you're at The Locusts, for they're living in the Valley now
and are great friends of Lloyd and Betty.
Oh, I know all about them, answered Joyce, for Allison and Kitty
go to Warwick Hall, and Lloyd and Betty fill their letters with their
sayings and doings. Mary stole another glance at the lady in black. So
this was an aunt of the two little knights of Kentucky, and the mother
of the Little Captain, whose name had been in all the papers as the
youngest commissioned officer in the entire army. She would have
something to tell Holland in her next letter. He had always been so
interested in everything pertaining to Ranald Walton, and had envied
him his military career until he himself had an opportunity to go into
Presently Mrs. Walton finished her lunch, and on her way out stopped
at their table to shake hands with Rob.
I was sure that this is Joyce Ware and her sister, she exclaimed,
cordially, as Rob introduced them. My girls are so excited over your
coming they can hardly wait to meet you. They are having a little
house-party themselves, at present, some girls from Lexington and two
young army officers, whom I want you to know. Come here, Elise, and
meet the Little Colonel's Wild West friends. Oh, we've lived in Arizona
too, you know, she added, laughing, and I've a thousand questions to
ask you about our old home. I'm looking forward to a long, cozy
toe-to-toe on the subject, every time you come to The Beeches.
After a moment's pleasant conversation she passed on, leaving such
an impression of friendly cordiality that Joyce said, impulsively,
She's just dear! She makes you feel as if you'd known her
always. Now toe-to-toe, for instance. That's lots more intimate and
sociable than tête-à-tête.
That's what I thought, too, exclaimed Mary. And isn't it nice,
when you come visiting this way, to know everybody's history
beforehand! Then just as soon as they appear on the scene you can fit
in a background behind them.
It was the first remark Mary had made in Rob's hearing, except an
occasional monosyllable in regard to her choice of dishes on the bill
of fare, and he turned to look at her with an amused smile, as if he
had just waked up to the fact that she was present.
She's a homely little thing, he thought, but she looks as if she
might grow up to be diverting company. She couldn't be a sister of
Joyce's and not be bright. Then, in order to hear what she might say,
he began to ask her questions. She was eating ice-cream. Joyce, who had
refused dessert on account of a headache, opened her chatelaine bag to
take out an envelope already stamped and addressed.
If you'll excuse me while you finish your coffee, she said to Rob,
I'll scribble a line to mamma to let her know we've arrived safely.
I've dropped notes all along the way, but this is the one she'll be
waiting for most anxiously. It will take only a minute.
Certainly, answered Rob, looking at his watch. We have over
twenty minutes to catch the next trolley out to the Valley. They run
every half-hour now, you know. So take your time. It will give me a
chance to talk to Mary. She hasn't told me yet what her impressions are
of this grand old Commonwealth.
If he had thought his teasing tone would bring the color to her
face, it was because he was not as familiar with her background as she
was with his. A long apprenticeship under Jack and Holland had made her
proof against ordinary banter.
Well, she began, calmly, mashing the edges of her ice-cream with
her spoon to make it melt faster, so far it is just as I imagined it
would be. I've always thought of Kentucky as a place full of colored
people and pretty girls and polite men. Of course I've not been
anywhere yet but just in this room, and it certainly seems to be
swarming with colored waiters. I can't see all over the room without
turning around, but the ladies at the tables in front of me and the
ones reflected in the mirrors are good-looking and stylish. Those girls
you bowed to over there are pretty enough to be Gibson girls, just
stepped out of a magazine; and so faryou are the only man I
Well, he said after a moment's waiting, you haven't given me your
opinion of me.
There was a quizzical twinkle in his eye, which Mary, intent upon
her beloved ice-cream, did not see. Her honest little face was
perfectly serious as she replied, Oh, you,you're like Marse
Phil and Marse Chan and those men in Thomas Nelson Page's stones of
'Ole Virginia,' I love those stories, don't you? Especially the one
about 'Meh Lady.' Of course I know that everybody in the South can't be
as nice as they are, but whenever I think of Kentucky and Virginia I
think of people like that.
Such a broad compliment was more than Rob was prepared for. An
embarrassed flush actually crept over his handsome face. Joyce,
glancing up, saw it and laughed.
Mary is as honest as the father of his country himself, she said.
I'll warn you now. She'll always tell exactly what she thinks.
Now, Joyce, began Mary, indignantly, you know I don't tell
everything I think. I'll admit that I did use to be a chatterbox, when
I was little, but even Holland says I'm not, now.
I didn't mean to call you a chatterbox, explained Joyce. I was
just warning Rob that he must expect perfectly straightforward replies
to his questions.
Joyce bent over her letter, and in order to start Mary to talking
again, Rob cast about for another topic of conversation.
You wouldn't call those three girls at that last table, Gibson
girls, would you? he asked. Look at that dark slim one with the red
cherries in her hat.
Mary glanced at her critically. No, she said, slowly. She is not
exactly pretty now, but she's the ugly-duckling kind. She may turn out
to be the most beautiful swan of them all. I like that the best of any
of Andersen's fairy tales. Don't you? I used to look at myself in the
glass and tell myself that it would be that way with me. That my
straight hair and pug nose needn't make any difference; that some day
I'd surprise people as the ugly duckling did. But Jack said, no, I am
not the swan kind. That no amount of waiting will make straight hair
curly and a curly nose straight. Jack says I'll have my innings when I
am an old ladythat I'll not be pretty till I'm old. Then he says I'll
make a beautiful grandmother, like Grandma Ware. He says her face was
like a benediction. That's what he wrote to me just before I left home.
Of course I'd rather be a beauty than a benediction, any day. But Jack
says he laughs best who laughs last, and it's something to look forward
to, to know you're going to be nice-looking in your old age when all
your friends are wrinkled and faded.
Rob's laugh was so appreciative that Mary felt with a thrill that he
was finding her really entertaining. She was sorry that Joyce's letter
came to an end just then. Her mother's last warning had been for her to
remember on all occasions that she was much younger than Joyce's
friends, and they would not expect her to take a grown-up share of
their conversation. She had promised earnestly to try to curb her
active little tongue, no matter how much she wanted to be chief
spokesman, and now, remembering her promise, she relapsed into sudden
All the way out to the Valley she sat with her hands folded in her
lap, on the seat opposite Joyce and Rob. The car made so much noise she
could catch only an occasional word of their conversation, so she sat
looking out of the window, busy with her thoughts.
Sixty minutes till we get there. Now it's only fifty-nine. Now it's
fifty-eightjust like the song 'Ten little, nine little, eight little
Indians.' Pretty soon there'll just be one minute left.
At this exciting thought the queer quivery feeling inside was so
strong it almost choked her. Her heart gave a great thump when Joyce
finally called, Here we are, and Rob signalled the conductor to stop
outside the great entrance gate.
The Locusts at last. Pewees in the cedars and robins on the lawn;
everywhere the cool deep shadows of great trees, and wide stretches of
waving blue-grass. Stately white pillars of an old Southern mansion
gleamed through the vines at the end of the long avenue. Then a flutter
of white dresses and gay ribbons, and Lloyd and Betty came running to
CHAPTER V. AT THE LOCUSTS
Lloyd and Betty had been home from Warwick Hall only two days, and
the joyful excitement of arrival had not yet worn off. The Locusts had
never looked so beautiful to them as it did this vacation, and their
enthusiasm over all that was about to happen kept them in a flutter
from morning till night.
When Rob's telephone message came that the train was late and that
he could not bring the girls out until after lunch, Lloyd chafed at the
delay at first. Then she consoled herself with the thought that she
could arrange a more effective welcome for the middle of the afternoon
than for an earlier hour.
Grandfathah will have had his nap by that time, she said, with a
saucy glance in his direction, and he will be as sweet and lovely as a
May mawning. And he'll have on a fresh white suit for the evening, and
a cah'nation in his buttonhole. Then she gave her orders more
You must be suah to be out on the front steps to welcome them,
grandfathah, with yoah co'tliest bow. And mothah, you must be beside
him in that embroidered white linen dress of yoahs that I like so much.
Mom Beck will stand in the doahway behind you all just like a pictuah
of an old-time South'n welcome. Of co'se Joyce has seen it all befoah,
but little Mary has been looking foh'wa'd to this visit to The Locusts
as she would to heaven. You know what Joyce wrote about her calling
this her promised land.
I know how it is going to make her feel, said Betty. Just as it
made me feel when I got here from the Cuckoo's Nest, and found this
'House Beautiful' of my dreams. And if she is the little dreamer that I
was the best time will not be the arrival, but early candle-lighting
time, when you are playing on your harp. I used to sit on a foot-stool
at godmother's feet, so unutterably happy, that I would have to put out
my hand to feel her dress. I was so afraid that she might vanishthat
everything was too lovely to be real.
And now, to think, she added, turning to Mrs. Sherman and
affectionately laying a hand on each shoulder, it's lasted all this
time, till I have grown so tall that I could pick you up and carry you
off, little godmother. I am going to do it some day soon, lift you up
bodily and put you into a story that I have begun to write. It will be
my best work, because it is what I have lived.
You'd better live awhile longer, laughed Mrs. Sherman, before you
begin to settle what your best work will be. Think how the shy little
Elizabeth of twelve has blossomed into the stately Elizabeth of
eighteen, and think what possibilities are still ahead of you in the
next six years.
When mothah and Betty begin to compliment each othah, remarked
Lloyd, seating herself on the arm of the old Colonel's chair, they are
lost to all else in the world. So while we have this moment to
ou'selves, my deah grandfathah, I want to impress something on yoah
mind, very forcibly.
The playful way in which she held him by the ears was a familiarity
no one but Lloyd had ever dared take with the dignified old Colonel.
She emphasized each sentence with a gentle pull and pinch.
Maybe you wouldn't believe it, but this little Mary Ware who is
coming, has a most exalted opinion of me. From what Joyce says she
thinks I am perfect, and I don't want her disillusioned. It's so nice
to have somebody look up to you that way, so I want to impress it on
you that you're not to indulge in any reminiscence of my past while she
is heah. You mustn't tell any of my youthful misdemeanahs that you are
fond of tellinghow I threw mud on yoah coat, in one of my awful
tempahs, and smashed yoah shaving-mug with a walking-stick, and locked
Walkah down in the coal cellah when he wouldn't do what I wanted him
to. You must 'let the dead past bury its dead, and actact in the
living present,' so that she'll think that you think that I'm
the piece of perfection she imagines me to be.
I'll be a party to no such deception, answered the old Colonel,
sternly, although his eyes, smiling fondly on her, plainly spoke
consent. You know you're the worst spoiled child in Oldham County.
Whose fault is it? retorted Lloyd, with a final pinch as she
liberated his ears and darted away. Ask Colonel George Lloyd. If there
was any spoiling done, he did it.
Two hours later, still in the gayest of spirits, Lloyd and Betty
raced down the avenue to meet their guests, and tired and
travel-stained as the newcomers were, the impetuous greeting gave them
a sense of having been caught up into a gay whirl of some kind. It gave
them an excited thrill which presaged all sorts of delightful things
about to happen. The courtly bows of the old Colonel, standing between
the great white pillars, Mrs. Sherman's warm welcome, and Mom Beck's
old-time curtseys, seemed to usher them into a fascinating story-book
sort of life, far more interesting than any Mary had yet read.
Several hours later, sitting in the long drawing-room, she wondered
if she could be the same girl who one short week before was chasing
across the desert like a Comanche Indian, beating the bushes for
rattlesnakes, or washing dishes in the hot little kitchen of the
Wigwam. Here in the soft light shed from many waxen tapers in the
silver candelabra, surrounded by fine old ancestral portraits, and
furniture that shone with the polish of hospitable generations, Mary
felt civilized down to her very finger-tips: so thoroughly a lady,
through and through, that the sensation sent a warm thrill over her.
That feeling had begun soon after her arrival, when Mom Beck ushered
her into a luxurious bathroom. Mary enjoyed luxury like a cat. As she
splashed away in the big porcelain tub, she wished that Hazel Lee could
see the tiled walls, the fine ample towels with their embroidered
monograms, the dainty soaps, and the cut-glass bottles of toilet-water,
with their faint odor as of distant violets. Then she wondered if Mom
Beck would think that she had refused her offers of assistance because
she was not used to the services of a lady's maid. She was half-afraid
of this old family servant in her imposing head-handkerchief and white
Recalling Joyce's experiences in France and what had been the duties
of her maid, Marie, she decided to call her in presently to brush her
hair and tie her slippers. Afterward she was glad that she had done so,
for Mom Beck was a practised hair-dresser, and made the most of Mary's
thin locks. She so brushed and fluffed and be-ribboned them in a new
way, with a big black bow on top, that Mary beamed with satisfaction
when she looked in the glass. The new way was immensely becoming.
Then when she went down to dinner, it seemed so elegant to find Mr.
Sherman in a dress suit. The shaded candles and cut glass and silver
and roses on the table made it seem quite like the dinner-parties she
had read about in novels, and the talk that circled around of the
latest books and the new opera, and the happenings in the world at
large, and the familiar mention of famous names, made her feel as if
she were in the real social whirl at last.
The name of copy-cat which Holland had given her proved well-earned
now, for so easily did she fall in with the ways about her, that one
would have thought her always accustomed to formal dinners, with a deft
colored waiter like Alec at her elbow.
Rob dined with them, and later in the evening Mrs. Walton came
strolling over in neighborly fashion, bringing her house-party to call
on the other party, she said, though to be sure only half of her guests
had arrived, the two young army officers, George Logan and Robert
Stanley. Allison and Kitty were with them, andMary noted with a quick
indrawn breathRanald. The title of Little Captain no
longer fitted him. He was far too tall. She was disappointed to find
Somehow all the heroes and heroines whom she had looked upon as her
own age, who were her own age when the interesting things she
knew about them had happened, were all grown up. Her first
disappointment had been in Rob, then in Betty. For this Betty was not
the one Joyce had pictured in her stories of the first house-party.
This one had long dresses, and her curly hair was tucked up on her head
in such a bewitchingly young-ladified way that Mary was in awe of her
at first. She was not disappointed in her now, however, and no longer
in awe, since Betty had piloted her over the place, swinging hands with
her in as friendly a fashion as if she were no older than Hazel Lee,
and telling the way she looked when she saw The Locusts for the
first timea timid little country girl in a sunbonnet, with a wicker
basket on her arm.
The military uniforms lent an air of distinction to the scene, and
Allison and Kitty each began a conversation in such a vivacious way,
that Mary found it difficult to decide which group to attach herself
to. She did not want to lose a word that any one was saying, and the
effort to listen to several separate conversations was as much of a
strain as trying to watch three rings at the circus.
Through the laughter and the repartee of the young people she heard
Mrs. Walton say to Mr. Sherman: Yes, only second lieutenants, but I've
been an army woman long enough to appreciate them as they deserve. They
have no rank to speak of, few privileges, are always expected to do the
agreeable to visitors (and they do it), obliged to give up their
quarters at a moment's notice, take the duties nobody else wants, be
cheerful under all conditions, and ready for anything. It is an
exception when a second lieutenant is not dear and fascinating. As for
these two, I am doubly fond of them, for their fathers were army men
before them, and old-time friends of ours. George I knew as a little
lad in Washington. I must tell you of an adventure of his, that shows
what a sterling fellow he is.
Mary heard only part of the anecdote, for at the same time Kitty was
telling an uproariously funny joke on Ranald, and all the rest were
laughing. But she heard enough to make her take a second look at
Lieutenant Logan. He was leaning forward in his chair, talking to Joyce
with an air of flattering interest. And Joyce, in one of her new
dresses, her face flushed a little from the unusual excitement, was
talking her best and looking her prettiest.
[Illustration: HE WAS LEANING FORWARD IN HIS CHAIR, TALKING TO
She's having a good time just like other girls, thought Mary,
thankfully. This will make up for lots of lonely times in the desert,
when she was homesick for the high-school girls and boys at
Plainsville. It would be fine if things would turn out so that Joyce
liked an army man. If she married one and lived at a post she'd invite
me to visit her. Lieutenant Logan might be a general some day, and it
would be nice to have a great man in the family. I wish mamma and Jack
and Holland could see what a good time we are having.
It did not occur to Mary that, curled up in a big chair in the
corner, she was taking no more active share in the good times than the
portraits on the wall. Her eager smile and the alert happy look in her
eyes showed that she was all a-tingle with the unusual pleasure the
evening was affording her. She laughed and looked and listened, sure
that the scene she was enjoying was as good as a play. She had never
seen a play, it is true; but she had read of them, and of player folk,
until she knew she was fitted to judge of such things.
It was a pleasure just to watch the gleam of the soft candle-light
on Kitty's red ribbons, or on the string of gold beads around Allison's
white throat. Maybe it was the candle-light which threw such a soft
glamour over everything and made it seem that the pretty girls and the
young lieutenants were only portraits out of a beautiful old past who
had stepped down from their frames for a little while. Yet when Mary
glanced up, the soldier boy was still in his picture on the wall, and
the beautiful girl with the June rose in her hair was still in her
frame, standing beside her harp, her white hand resting on its shining
It is my grandmothah Amanthis, explained Lloyd in answer to the
lieutenant's question, as his gaze also rested admiringly on it. Yes,
this is the same harp you see in the painting. Yes, I play a little. I
learned to please grandfathah.
Then, a moment later, Mary reached the crown of her evening's
enjoyment, for Lloyd, in response to many voices, took her place beside
the harp below the picture, and struck a few deep, rich chords. Then,
with an airy running accompaniment, she began the Dove Song from the
play of The Princess Winsome:
Flutter and fly, flutter and fly,
Bear him my heart of gold.
It was all as Mary had imagined it would be, a hundred times in her
day-dreams, only far sweeter and more beautiful. She had not thought
how the white sleeves would fall back from the round white arms, or how
her voice would go fluttering up like a bird, sweet and crystal clear
on the last high note.
Afterward, when the guests were gone and everybody had said good
night, Mary lay awake in the pink blossom of a room which she shared
with Joyce, the same room Joyce had had at the first house-party. She
was having another good time, thinking it all over. She thought
scornfully of the woman on the sleeping-car who had told her that
distance lends enchantment, and that she must not expect too much of
her promised land. She hoped she might meet that woman again some day,
so that she could tell her that it was not only as nice as she had
expected to find it, but a hundred times nicer.
She reminded herself that she must tell Betty about her in the
morning. As she recalled one pleasant incident after another, she
thought, Now this is life! No wonder Lloyd is so bright
and interesting when she has been brought up in such an atmosphere.
CHAPTER VI. THE FOX AND THE STORK
Lloyd Sherman at seventeen was a combination of all the characters
her many nicknames implied. The same imperious little ways and hasty
outbursts of temper that had won her the title of Little Colonel showed
themselves at times. But she was growing so much like the gentle maiden
of the portrait that the name Amanthis trembled on the old Colonel's
lips very often when he looked at her. The Tusitala ring on her finger
showed that she still kept in mind the Road of the Loving Heart, which
she was trying to leave behind her in every one's memory, and the
string of tiny Roman pearls she sometimes clasped around her throat
bore silent witness to her effort to live up to the story of Ederyn,
and keep tryst with all that was expected of her.
When a long line of blue-blooded ancestors has handed down a
heritage of proud traditions and family standards, it is no easy matter
to be all that is expected of an only child. But Lloyd was meeting all
expectations, responding to the influence of beauty and culture with
which she had always been surrounded, as unconsciously as a bud unfolds
to the sunshine. Her ambition to make undying music in the world, to
follow in the footsteps of her beautiful grandmother Amanthis, was in
itself a reaching-up to one of the family ideals.
When the girls began calling her the Princess Winsome, unconsciously
she began to reach up to be worthy of that title also, but when she
found that Mary Ware was taking her as a model Maid of Honor, in all
that that title implies, she began to feel that a burden was laid upon
her shoulders. She had had such admirers before: little Magnolia Budine
at Lloydsboro Seminary, and Cornie Dean at Warwick Hall. It was
pleasant to know that they considered her perfection, but it was a
strain to feel that she was their model, and that they copied her in
everything, her faults as well as her graces. They had followed her
like shadows, and such devotion grows tiresome.
Happily for Mary Ware, whatever else she did, she never bored any
one. She was too independent and original for that. When she found an
occasion to talk, she made the most of her opportunity, and talked with
all her might, but her sensitiveness to surroundings always told her
when it was time to retire into the background, and she could be so
dumb as to utterly efface herself when the time came for her to keep
A long list of delights filled her first letter home, but the one
most heavily underscored, and chief among them all, was the fact that
the big girls did not seem to consider her a little pitcher or a
tag. No matter where they went or what they talked about, she was
free to follow and to listen. It was interesting to the verge of
distraction when they talked merely of Warwick Hall and the
schoolgirls, or recalled various things that had happened at the first
house-party. But when they discussed the approaching wedding, the
guests, the gifts, the decorations, and the feast, she almost held her
breath in her eager enjoyment of it.
Several times a day, after the passing of the trains, Alec came up
from the station with express packages. Most of them were wedding
presents, which the bridesmaids pounced upon and carried away to the
green room to await Eugenia's arrival. Every package was the occasion
of much guessing and pinching and wondering, and the mystery was almost
as exciting as the opening would have been.
The conversation often led into by-paths that were unexplored
regions to the small listener in the background among the window-seat
cushions: husbands and lovers and engagements, all the thrilling topics
that a wedding in the family naturally suggests. Sometimes a whole
morning would go by without her uttering a word, and Mrs. Sherman, who
had heard what a talkative child she was, noticed her silence. Thinking
it was probably dull for her, she reproached herself for not having
provided some especial company for the entertainment of her youngest
guest, and straightway set to work to do so.
Next morning a box of pink slippers was sent out from Louisville on
approval, and the bridesmaids and maid of honor, seated on the floor in
Betty's room, tried to make up their minds which to choose,the kid or
the satin ones. With each slim right foot shod in a fairy-like covering
of shimmering satin, and each left one in daintiest pink kid, the three
girls found it impossible to determine which was the prettier, and
called upon Mary for her opinion.
All in a flutter of importance, she was surveying the pretty exhibit
of outstretched feet, when Mom Beck appeared at the door with a message
from Mrs. Sherman. There was a guest for Miss Mary in the library.
Would she please go down at once. Her curiosity was almost as great as
her reluctance to leave such an interesting scene. She stood in the
middle of the floor, wringing her hands.
Oh, if I could only be in two places at once! she exclaimed. But
maybe whoever it is won't stay long, and I can get back before you
Hurrying down the stairs, she went into the library, where Mrs.
Sherman was waiting for her.
This is one of our little neighbors, Mary, she said, Girlie
A small-featured child of twelve, with pale blue eyes and long, pale
flaxen curls, came forward to meet her. To Mary's horror, she held a
doll in her arms almost as large as herself, and on the table beside
her stood a huge toy trunk.
I brought all of Evangeline's clothes with me, announced Girlie,
as soon as Mrs. Sherman had left them to themselves. 'Cause I came to
stay all morning, and I knew she'd have plenty of time to wear every
dress she owns.
Mary could not help the gasp of dismay that escaped her, thinking of
that fascinating row of pink slippers awaiting her up-stairs. From
bridesmaids to doll-babies is a woful fall.
Where is your doll? demanded Girlie.
Oh, I haven't any, said Mary, with a grown-up shrug of the
shoulders. I stopped playing with them ages ago.
Then realizing what an impolite speech that was, she hastened to
make amends by adding: I sometimes dress Hazel Lee's, though. Hazel is
one of my friends back in Arizona. Once I made a whole Indian costume
for it like the squaws make. The moccasins were made out of the top of
a kid glove, and beaded just like real ones.
Girlie's pale eyes opened so wide at the mention of Indians that
Mary almost forgot her disappointment at being called away from the big
girls, and proceeded to make them open still wider with her tales of
life on the desert. In a few moments she carried the trunk out on to a
vine-covered side porch, where they made a wigwam out of two hammocks
and a sunshade, and changed the waxen Evangeline into a blanketed
squaw, with feathers in her blond Parisian hair.
Mom Beck looked out several times, and finally brought them a set of
Lloyd's old doll dishes and the daintiest of luncheons to spread on a
low table. There were olive sandwiches, frosted cakes, berries and
cream, and bonbons and nuts in a silver dish shaped like a calla-lily.
For the first two hours Mary really enjoyed being hostess, although
now and then she wished she could slip up-stairs long enough to see
what the girls were doing. But when she had told all the interesting
tales she could think of, cleared away the remains of the feast, and
played with the doll until she was sick of the sight of it, she began
to be heartily tired of Girlie's companionship.
She's such a baby, she said to herself, impatiently. She doesn't
know much more than a kitten. It seemed to her that the third long
hour never would drag to an end. But Girlie evidently enjoyed it. When
the carriage came to take her home, she said, enthusiastically:
I've had such a good time this morning that I'm coming over every
single day while you're here. I can't ask you over to our house 'cause
my grandma is so sick it wouldn't be any fun. We just have to tiptoe
around and not laugh out loud. But I don't mind doing all the
Oh, it will spoil everything! groaned Mary to herself, as she ran
up-stairs when Girlie was at last out of sight. She felt that nothing
could compensate her for the loss of the whole morning, and the thought
of losing any more precious time in that way was unendurable.
Mrs. Sherman met her in the hall, and pinched her cheek playfully as
she passed her. You make a charming little hostess, my dear, she
said. I looked out several times, and you were so absorbed with your
play that it made me wish that I could be a little girl again, and join
you with my poor old Nancy Blanche doll and my grand Amanthis that papa
brought me from New Orleans. I'll have to resurrect them for you out of
the attic, for I'm afraid it has been stupid for you here, with nobody
your own age.
Oh, no'm! Don't! Please don't! protested Mary, a worried look on
her honest little face. She was about to add, I can't bear dolls any
more. I only played with them to please Girlie, when Lloyd came out of
her room with a letter.
It's from the bride-to-be, mothah, she called, waving it gaily.
She'll be heah day aftah to-morrow, so we can begin to put the
finishing touches to her room. The day she comes I'm going to take the
girls ovah to Rollington to get some long sprays of bride's wreath.
Mrs. Crisp has two big bushes of it, white as snow. It will look so
cool and lovely, everything in the room all green and white.
Mary stole away to her room, ready to cry. If every morning had to
be spent with that tiresome Dinsmore child, she might as well have
stayed on the desert.
I simply have to get rid of her in some way, she mused. It won't
do to snub her, and I don't know any other way. I wish I could see
Holland for about five minutes. He'd think of a plan.
So absorbed was she in her problem that she forgot to ask whether
the kid or the satin slippers had been chosen, and she went down to
lunch still revolving her trouble in her mind. On the dining-room wall
opposite her place at table were two fine old engravings, illustrating
the fable of the famous dinners given by the Fox and the Stork. In the
first the stork strove vainly to fill its bill at the flat dish from
which the fox lapped eagerly, while in the companion picture the fox
sat by disconsolate while the stork dipped into the high slim pitcher,
which the hungry guest could not reach.
Mary had noticed the pictures in a casual way every time she took a
seat at the table, for the beast and the bird were old acquaintances.
She had learned La Fontaine's version of the fable one time to recite
at school. To-day, with the problem in her mind of how to rid herself
of an unwelcome guest, they suddenly took on a new meaning.
I'll do just the way the stork did, she thought, gleefully. This
morning Girlie had everything her way, and we played little silly baby
games till I felt as flat as the dish that fox is eating out of. But
she had a beautiful time. To-morrow morning I'm going to be stork, and
make my conversation so deep she can't get her little baby mind into it
at all. I'll be awfully polite, but I'll hunt up the longest words I
can find in the dictionary, and talk about the books I've read, and
she'll have such a stupid time she won't want to come again.
The course of action once settled upon, Mary fell to work with her
usual energy. While the girls were taking their daily siesta, she
dressed early and went down into the library. If it had not been for
the fear of missing something, she would have spent much of her time in
that attractive room. Books looked down so invitingly from the many
shelves. All the June magazines lay on the library table, their pages
still uncut. Everybody had been too busy to look at them. She hesitated
a moment over the tempting array, but remembering her purpose, grimly
passed them by and opened the big dictionary.
Rob found her still poring over it, pencil and paper in hand, when
he looked into the room an hour later.
What's up now? he asked.
She evaded his question at first, but, afraid that he would tease
her before the girls about her thirst for knowledge and her study of
the dictionary, and that that might lead to the thwarting of her plans,
she suddenly decided to take him into her confidence.
Well, she began, solemnly, you know mostly I loathe dolls.
Sometimes I do dress Hazel Lee's for her, but I don't like to play with
them regularly any more as I used to,talk for them and all that. But
Girlie Dinsmore was here this morning, and I had to do it because she
is company. She had such a good time that she said she was coming over
here every single morning while I'm here. I just can't have my lovely
visit spoiled that way. The bride is coming day after to-morrow, and
she'll be opening her presents and showing her trousseau to the girls,
and I wouldn't miss it for anything. So I've made up my mind I'll be
just as polite as possible, but I'll do as the stork did in the fable;
make my entertainment so deep she won't enjoy it. I'm hunting up the
longest words I can find and learning their definitions, so that I can
use them properly.
Rob, looking over her shoulder, laughed to see the list she had
You see, explained Mary, sometimes there is a quotation after the
word from some author, so I've copied a lot of them to use, instead of
making up sentences myself. Here's one from Shakespeare about alacrity.
And here's one from Arbuthnot, whoever he was, that will make her
She traced the sentence with her forefinger, for Rob's glance to
follow: Instances of longevity are chiefly among the abstemious.
Girlie won't have any more idea of what I'm talking about than a
To Mary's astonishment, the laugh with which Rob received her
confidence was so long and loud it ended in a whoop of amusement, and
when he had caught his breath he began again in such an infectious way
that the girls up-stairs heard it and joined in. Then Lloyd leaned over
the banister to call:
What's the mattah, Rob? You all seem to be having a mighty funny
time down there. Save your circus for us. We'll be down in a few
This is just a little private side-show of Mary's and mine,
answered Rob, going off into another peal of laughter at sight of
Mary's solemn face. There was nothing funny in the situation to her
Oh, don't tell, Mister Rob, she begged. Please don't tell. Joyce
might think it was impolite, and would put a stop to it. It seems funny
to you, but when you think of my whole lovely visit spoiled that way
She stopped abruptly, so much in earnest that her voice broke and
her eyes filled with tears.
Instantly Rob's laughter ceased, and he begged her pardon in such a
grave, kind way, assuring her that her confidence should be respected,
that her admiration of him went up several more degrees. When the girls
came down, he could not be prevailed upon to tell them what had sent
him off into such fits of laughter. Just Mary's entertaining remarks,
was all he would say, looking across at her with a meaning twinkle in
his eyes. She immediately retired into the background as soon as the
older girls appeared, but she sat admiring every word Rob said, and
watching every movement.
He's the very nicest man I ever saw, she said to herself. He
treats me as if I were grown up, and I really believe he likes to hear
Once when they were arranging for a tennis game for the next
morning, he crossed the room with an amused smile, to say to her in a
low aside: I've thought of something to help along the stork's cause.
Bring the little fox over to the tennis-court to watch the game. If she
doesn't find that sufficiently stupid, and you run short of big words,
read aloud to her, and tell her that is what you intend to do every
Such a pleased, gratified smile flashed over Mary's face that Betty
exclaimed, curiously: I certainly would like to know what mischief you
two are planning. You laugh every time you look at each other.
Girlie Dinsmore arrived promptly next morning, trunk, doll, and all,
expecting to plunge at once into an absorbing game of lady-come-to-see.
But Mary so impressed her with the honor that had been conferred upon
them by Mr. Moore's special invitation to watch the tennis game that
she was somewhat bewildered. She dutifully followed her resolute
hostess to the tennis-court, and took a seat beside her with Evangeline
clasped in her arms. Neither of the children had watched a game before,
and Girlie, not being able to understand a single move, soon found it
insufferably stupid. But Mary became more and more interested in
watching a tall, athletic figure in outing flannels and white shoes,
who swung his racket with the deftness of an expert, and who flashed an
amused smile at her over the net occasionally, as if he understood the
situation and was enjoying it with her.
Several times when Rob's playing brought him near the seat where the
two children sat, he went into unaccountable roars of laughter, for
which the amazed girls scolded him soundly, when he refused to explain.
One time was when he overheard a scrap of conversation. Girlie had
suggested a return to the porch and the play-house, and Mary responded,
[Illustration: A TALL, ATHLETIC FIGURE IN OUTING FLANNELS"]
Oh, we did all that yesterday morning, and I think that even in the
matter of playing dolls one ought to be abstemious. Don't you? You know
Arbuthnot says that 'instances of longevity are chiefly among the
abstemious,' and I certainly want to be longevous.
A startled expression crept into Girlie's pale blue eyes, but she
only sat back farther on the seat and tightened her clasp on
Evangeline. The next time Rob sauntered within hearing distance, a
discussion of literature was in progress, Mary was asking:
Have you ever read 'Old Curiosity Shop?'
The flaxen curls shook slowly in the motion that betokened she had
Nothing of Dickens or Scott or Irving or Cooper?
Still the flaxen curls shook nothing but no.
Then what have you read, may I ask? The superior tone of Mary's
question made it seem that she was twenty years older than the child at
her side, instead of only two.
I like the Dotty Dimple books, finally admitted Girlie. Mamma
read me all of them and several of the Prudy books, and I have read
half of 'Flaxie Frizzle' my own self.
Oh! exclaimed Mary, in a tone expressing enlightenment. I
see! Nothing but juvenile books! No wonder that, with such mental
pabulum, you don't care for anything but dolls! Now when I was your
age, I had read 'The Vicar of Wakefield' and 'Pride and Prejudice' and
Leather-stocking Tales, and all sorts of things. Probably that is why I
lost my taste for dolls so early. Wouldn't you like me to read to you
awhile every morning?
The offer was graciousness itself, but it implied such a lack on
Girlie's part that she felt vaguely uncomfortable. She sat digging the
toe of her slipper against the leg of the bench.
I don't know, she stammered finally. Maybe I can't come often. It
makes me wigglesome to sit still too long and listen.
We might try it this morning to see how you like it, persisted
Mary. I brought a copy of Longfellow out from the house, and thought
you might like to hear the poem of 'Evangeline,' as long as your doll
is named that.
Rob heard no more, for the game called him to another part of the
court, but Mary's plan was a success. When the Dinsmore carriage came,
Girlie announced that she wouldn't be over the next day, and maybe not
the one after that. She didn't know for sure when she could come.
Rob stayed to lunch. As he passed Mary on the steps, he stooped to
the level of her ear to say in a laughing undertone: Congratulations,
Miss Stork. I see your plan worked grandly.
Elated by her success and the feeling of good-comradeship which this
little secret with Rob gave her, Mary skipped up on to the porch, well
pleased with herself. But the next instant there was a curious change
in her feeling. Lloyd, tall and graceful in her becoming tennis suit,
was standing on the steps taking leave of some of the players. With
hospitable insistence she was urging them to stay to lunch, and there
was something in the sweet graciousness of the young hostess that made
Mary uncomfortable. She felt that she had been weighed in the balance
and found wanting. The Princess never would have stooped to treat a
guest as she had treated Girlie. Her standard of hospitality was too
high to allow such a breach of hospitality.
Mary had carried her point, but she felt that if Lloyd knew how she
had played stork, she would consider her ill-bred. The thought worried
her for days.
CHAPTER VII. THE COMING OF THE BRIDE
Early in the June morning Mary awoke, feeling as if it were
Christmas or Fourth of July or some great gala occasion. She lay there
a moment, trying to think what pleasant thing was about to happen. Then
she remembered that it was the day on which the bride was to arrive.
Not only that,before the sun went down, the best man would be at The
She raised herself on her elbow to look at Joyce, in the white bed
across from hers. She was sound asleep, so Mary snuggled down on her
pillow again, and lay quite still. If Joyce had been awake, Mary would
have begun a long conversation about Phil Tremont. Instead, she began
recalling to herself the last time she had seen him. It was three years
ago, down by the beehives, and she had had no idea he was going away
until he came to the Wigwam to bid them all good-by. And Joyce and
Lloyd were away, so he had left a message for them with her. She
thought it queer then, and she had wondered many times since why his
farewell to the girls should have been a message about the old gambling
god, Alaka. She remembered every word of it, even the tones of his
voice as he said: Try to remember just these words, please, Mary. Tell
them that 'Alaka has lost his precious turquoises, but he will win
them back again some day.' Can you remember to say just that?
He must have thought she wasn't much more than a baby to repeat it
so carefully to her several times, as if he were teaching her a lesson.
Well, to be sure, she was only eleven then, and she had almost cried
when she begged him not to go away, and insisted on knowing when he was
coming back. He had looked away toward old Camelback Mountain with a
strange, sorry look on his face as he answered:
Not till I've learned your lessonto be 'inflexible.' When I'm
strong enough to keep stiff in the face of any temptation, then I'll
come back, little Vicar. Then he had stooped and kissed her hastily on
both cheeks, and started off down the road, with her watching him
through a blur of tears, because it seemed that all the good times in
the world had suddenly come to an end. Away down the road he had turned
to look back and wave his hat, and she had caught up her white
sunbonnet and swung it high by its one limp string.
Afterward, when she went back to the swing by the beehives, she
recalled all the old stories she had ever heard of knights who went out
into the world to seek their fortunes, and waved farewell to some ladye
fair in her watch-tower. She felt, in a vague way, that she had been
bidden farewell by a brave knight errant. Although she was burning with
curiosity when she delivered the message about the turquoises and
Alaka, and wondered why Lloyd and Joyce exchanged such meaning glances,
something kept her from asking questions, and she had gone on wondering
all these years what it meant, and why there was such a sorry look in
his eyes when he gazed out toward the old Camelback Mountain. Now, in
the wisdom of her fourteen years, she began to suspect what the trouble
had been, and resolved to ask Joyce for the solution of the mystery.
Now that Phil was twenty years old and doing a man's work in the
world, she supposed she ought to call him Mr. Tremont, or, at least,
Mr. Phil. Probably in his travels, with all the important things that a
civil engineer has to think of, he had forgotten her and the way he had
romped with her at the Wigwam, and how he had saved her life the time
the Indian chased her. Being the bridegroom's brother and best man at
the wedding, he would scarcely notice her. Or, if he did cast a glance
in her direction, she had grown so much probably he never would
recognize her. Still, if he should remember her, she wanted to
appear at her best advantage, and she began considering what was the
best her wardrobe afforded.
She lay there some time trying to decide whether she should be all
in white when she met him, or in the dress with the little sprigs of
forget-me-nots sprinkled over it. White was appropriate for all
occasions, still the forget-me-nots would be suggestive. Then she
remembered her mother's remark about that shade of blue being a trying
one for her to wear. That recalled Mom Beck's prescription for
beautifying the complexion. Nothing, so the old colored woman declared,
was so good for one's face as washing it in dew before the sun had
touched the grass, at the same time repeating a hoodoo rhyme. Mary had
been intending to try it, but never could waken early enough.
Now it was only a little after five. Slipping out of bed, she drew
aside the curtain. Smoke was rising from the chimney down in the
servants' quarters, and the sun was streaming red across the lawn. But
over by the side of the house, in the shadow of Hero's monument, the
dew lay sparkling like diamonds on the daisies and clover that bloomed
therethe only place on the lawn where the sun had not yet touched.
Thrusting her bare feet into the little red Turkish slippers beside
her bed, Mary caught up her kimono lying over a chair. It was a long,
Oriental affair, Cousin Kate's Christmas gift; a mixture of gay colors
and a pattern of Japanese fans, and so beautiful in Mary's eyes that
she had often bemoaned the fact that she was not a Japanese lady so
that she could wear the gorgeous garment in public. It seemed too
beautiful to be wasted on the privacy of her room.
Fastening it together with three of Joyce's little gold pins, she
stole down the stairway. Mom Beck was busy in the dining-room, and the
doors and windows stood open. Stepping out of one of the long French
windows that opened on the side porch, Mary ran across to the monument.
It was a glorious June morning. The myriads of roses were doubly sweet
with the dew in their hearts. A Kentucky cardinal flashed across the
lawn ahead of her, darting from one locust-tree to another like a bit
of live flame.
The little red Turkish slippers chased lightly over the grass till
they reached the shadow of the monument. Then stooping, Mary passed her
hands over the daisies and clover, catching up the dewdrops in her pink
palms, and rubbing them over her face as she repeated Mom Beck's charm:
Beauty come, freckles go!
Dewdops, make me white as snow!
The dew on her face felt so cool and fresh that she tried it again,
then several times more. Then she stooped over farther and buried her
face in the wet grass, repeating the rhyme again with her eyes shut and
in the singsong chant in which she often intoned things, without giving
heed to what she was uttering. Suddenly, in the midst of this joyful
abandon, an amused exclamation made her lift her head a little and open
By all the powers! What are you up to now, Miss Stork?
Mary's head came up out of the wet grass with a jerk. Then her face
burned an embarrassed crimson, for striding along the path toward her
was Bob Moore, cutting across lots from Oaklea. He was bareheaded, and
swinging along as if it were a pleasure merely to be alive on such a
She sprang to her feet, so mortified at being caught in this secret
quest for beauty that her embarrassment left her speechless. Then,
remembering the way she was dressed, she sank down on the grass again,
and pulled her kimono as far as possible over the little bare feet in
the red slippers.
There was no need for her to answer his question. The rhyme she had
been chanting was sufficient explanation.
I thought you said, he began, teasingly, that you were to have
your innings when you were a grandmother; that you didn't care for
beauty now if you could have a face like a benediction then.
Oh, I didn't say that I didn't care! cried Mary, crouching closer
against the monument, and putting her arm across her face to hide it.
It's because I care so much that I'm always doing silly things and
getting caught. I just wish the earth could open and swallow me! she
Her head was bowed now till it was resting on her knees. Rob looked
down on the little bunch of misery in the gay kimono, thinking he had
never seen such a picture of woe. He could not help smiling, but he
felt mean at having been the cause of her distress, and tried to think
of something comforting to say.
Sakes alive, child! That's nothing to feel bad about. Bathing your
face in May-day dew is an old English custom that the prettiest girls
in the Kingdom used to follow. I ought to apologize for intruding, but
I didn't suppose any one was up. I just came over to say that some
business for grandfather will take me to town on the earliest train, so
that I can't be on hand when the best man arrives. I didn't want to
wake up the entire household by telephoning, so I thought I'd step over
and leave a message with Alec or some of them. If you'll tell Lloyd,
I'll be much obliged.
All right, I'll tell her, answered Mary, in muffled tones, without
raising her head from her knees. She was battling back the tears, and
felt that she could never face the world again. She waited till she was
sure Rob was out of sight, and then, springing up, ran for the shelter
of her room. As she stole up the stairs, her eyes were so blinded with
tears that she could hardly see the steps; tears of humiliation, that
Rob, of all people, whose good opinion she valued, should have
discovered her in a situation that made her appear silly and vain.
Luckily for the child's peace of mind, Betty had also wakened early
that morning, and was taking advantage of the quiet hours before
breakfast to attend to her letter-writing. Through her open door she
caught sight of the woebegone little figure slipping past, and the next
instant Mary found herself in the white and gold room with Betty's arm
around her, and her tearful face pressed against a sympathetic
shoulder. Little by little Betty coaxed from her the cause of her
tears, then sat silent, patting her hand, as she wondered what she
could say to console her.
To the older girl it seemed a matter to smile over, and the corners
of her mouth did dimple a little, until she realized that to Mary's
supersensitive nature this was no trifle, and that she was suffering
keenly from it.
Oh, I'm so ashamed, sobbed Mary. I never want to look Mister Rob
in the face again. I'd rather go home and miss the wedding than meet
him any more.
Nonsense, said Betty, lightly. Now you're making a mountain out
of a mole-hill. Probably Rob will never give the matter a second
thought, and he would be amazed if he thought you did. I've heard you
say you wished you could be just like Lloyd. Do you know, her greatest
charm to me is that she never seems to think of the impression she is
making on other people. Now, if she should decide that her complexion
would be better for a wash in the dew, she would go ahead and wash it,
no matter who caught her at it, and, first thing you know, all the
Valley would be following her example.
I'm going to preach you a little sermon now, because I've found out
your one fault. It isn't very big yet, but, if you don't nip it in the
bud, it will be like Meddlesome Matty's,
'Which, like a cloud before the skies,
Hid all her better qualities.'
You are self-conscious, Mary. Always thinking about the impression
you are making on people, and so eager to please that it makes you
miserable if you think you fall short of any of their standards. I knew
a girl at school who let her sensitiveness to other people's opinions
run away with her. She was so anxious for her friends to be pleased
with her that she couldn't be natural. If anybody glanced in the
direction of her head, she immediately began to fix her side-combs, or
if they seemed to be noticing her dress, she felt her belt and looked
down at herself to see if anything was wrong. Half the time they were
not looking at her at all, and not even giving her a thought. And I've
known her to agonize for days over some trifle, some remark she had
made or some one had made to her, that every one but her had forgotten.
She developed into a dreadful bore, because she never could forget
herself, and was always looking at her affairs through a
Now if you should keep out of Rob's way after this, and act as if
you had done something to be ashamed of, which you have not, don't you
see that your very actions would remind him of what you want him to
forget? But if when you meet him you are your own bright, cheerful,
friendly little self, this morning's scene will fade into a dim
Only half-convinced, Mary nodded that she understood, but still
proceeded to wipe her eyes at intervals.
Then, there's another thing, continued Betty. If you sit and
brood over your mortification, it will spread all over your sky like a
black cloud, till it will seem bigger than any of the good times you
have had. In the dear old garden at Warwick Hall there is a sun-dial
that has this inscription on it, 'I only mark the hours that shine,' So
I am going to give you that as a text. Now, dear, that is the end of my
sermon, but here is the application.
She pointed to a row of little white books on the shelf above her
desk, all bound in kid, with her initials stamped on the back in gold.
Those are my good-times books. 'I only mark the hours that shine' in
them, and when things go wrong and I get discouraged over my mistakes,
I glance through them and find that there's lots more to laugh over
than cry about, and I'm going to recommend the same course to you.
Godmother gave me the first volume when I came to the first
house-party, and the little record gave me so much pleasure that I've
gone on adding volume after volume. Suppose you try it, dear. Will you,
if I give you a book?
Yes, answered Mary, who had heard of these books before, and
longed for a peep into them. She had her wish now, for, taking them
down from the shelf, Betty read an extract here and there, to
illustrate what she meant. Presently, to their astonishment, they heard
Mom Beck knocking at Lloyd's door to awaken her, and Betty realized
with a start that she had been reading over an hour. Her letters were
unanswered, but she had accomplished something better. Mary's tears had
dried, as she listened to these accounts of their frolics at
boarding-school and their adventures abroad, and in her interest in
them her own affairs had taken their proper proportion. She was no
longer heart-broken over having been discovered by Rob, and she was
determined to overcome the sensitiveness and self-consciousness which
Betty had pointed out as her great fault.
As she rose to go, Betty opened a drawer in her desk and took out a
square, fat diary, bound in red morocco. One of the girls gave me this
last Christmas, she said. I never have used it, because I want to
keep my journals uniform in size and binding, and I'll be so glad to
have you take it and start a record of your own, if you will.
Oh, I'll begin this very morning! cried Mary, in delight, throwing
her arms around Betty's neck with an impulsive kiss, and trying to
express her thanks.
Then wait till I write my text in it, said Betty, so that it will
always recall my sermon. I've talked to you as if I were your
grandmother, haven't I?
You've made me feel a lot more comfortable, answered Mary, humbly,
with another kiss as Betty handed her the book. On the fly-leaf she had
written her own name and Mary's and the inscription borne by the old
sun-dial in Warwick Hall garden:
I only mark the hours that shine.
It was after lunch before Mary found a moment in which to begin her
record, and then it was in unconscious imitation of Betty's style that
she wrote the events of the morning. Probably she would not have gone
into details and copied whole conversations if she had not heard the
extracts from Betty's diaries. Betty was writing for practice as well
as with the purpose of storing away pleasant memories, so it was often
with the spirit of the novelist that she made her entries.
It seems hopeless to go back to the beginning, wrote Mary, and
tell all that has happened so far, so I shall begin with this morning.
Soon after breakfast we went to Rollington in the carriage, Joyce and
Betty and I on the back seat, and Lloyd in front with the coachman. And
Mrs. Crisp cut down nearly a whole bushful of bridal wreath to decorate
Eugenia's room with. When we got back May Lily had just finished
putting up fresh curtains in the room, almost as fine and thin as
frost-work. The furniture is all white, and the walls a soft, cool
green, and the rugs like that dark velvety moss that grows in the
deepest woods. When we had finished filling the vases and jardinières,
the room itself all snowy white and green made you think of a bush of
We were barely through with that when it was time for Lloyd and
Aunt Elizabeth to go to the station to meet Eugenia. There wasn't room
for the rest of us in the carriage, so Betty and Joyce and I hung out
of the windows and watched for them, and Betty and Joyce talked about
the other time Eugenia came, when they walked up and down under the
locusts waiting for her and wondering what she would be like. When she
did come, they were half-afraid of her, she was so stylish and
young-ladified, and ordered her maid about in such a superior way.
Betty said it was curious how snippy girls of that age can be
sometimes, and then turn out to be such fine women afterward, when they
outgrow their snippiness and snobbishness. Then she told us a lot we
had never heard about the school Eugenia went to in Germany to take a
training in housekeeping, and so many interesting things about her that
I was all in a quiver of curiosity to see her.
When we heard the carriage coming, Betty and Joyce tore down-stairs
to meet her, but I just hung farther out of the window. And, oh, but
she was pretty and stylish and talland just as Betty had said,
patrician-looking, with her dusky hair and big dark eyes. She is
the Spanish type of beauty. She swept into the house so grandly, with
her maid following with her satchels (the same old Eliot who was here
before), that I thought for a moment maybe she was as stuck-up as ever.
But when she saw her old room, she acted just like a happy little girl,
ready to cry and laugh in the same breath because everything had been
made so beautiful for her coming. While she was still in the midst of
admiring everything, she sat right down on the bed and tore off her
gloves, so that she could open the queer-looking parcel she carried. I
had thought maybe it was something too valuable to put in the satchels,
but it was only a new kind of egg-beater she had seen in a show-window
on her way from one depot to another. You would have thought from the
way she carried on that she had found a wonderful treasure. And in the
midst of showing us that she exclaimed:
'Oh, girls, what do you think? I met the dearest old lady on the
sleeper, and she gave me a receipt for a new kind of salad. That makes
ten kinds of salad that I know how to make. Oh, I just can't wait to
tell you about our little love of a house! It's all furnished and
waiting for us. Papa and I were out to look all over it the day I
started, and everything was in place but the refrigerator, and Stuart
had already ordered one sent out.'
Then Lloyd opened the closet door and called her attention to the
great pile of packages waiting to be opened. She flew at them and
called us all to help, and for a little while Mom Beck and Eliot were
kept busy picking up strings and wrapping-paper and cotton and
excelsior. When we were through, the bed and the chairs and mantel and
two extra tables that had been brought in were piled with the most
beautiful things I ever saw. I never dreamed there were such lovely
things in the world as some of the beaten silver and hand-painted china
and Tiffany glass. There was a jewelled fan, and all sorts of things in
gold and mother-of-pearl, and there was some point lace that she said
was more suitable for a queen than a young American girl. Her father
has so many wealthy friends, and they all sent presents.
Opening the bundles was so much fun,like a continual
surprise-party, Betty said, or a hundred Christmases rolled into one.
Between times when Eugenia wasn't exclaiming over how lovely everything
was, she was telling us how the house was furnished, and what a
splendid fellow Stuart is, and how wild she is for us to know him. I
had never heard a bride talk before, and she was so happy that
somehow it made you feel that getting married was the most beautiful
thing in the world.
One of the first things she did when she opened her suit-case was
to take out a picture of Stuart. It was a miniature on ivory in a
locket of Venetian gold, because it was in Venice he had proposed to
her. After she had shown it to us, she put it in the centre of her
dressing-table, with the white flowers all around it, as if it had been
some sort of shrine. There was a look in her eyes that made me think of
the picture in Betty's room of a nun laying lilies on an altar.
It is after luncheon now, and she has gone to her room to rest
awhile. So have the other girls. But I couldn't sleep. The days are
slipping by too fast for me to waste any time that way.
The house was quiet when Mary closed her journal. Joyce was still
asleep on the bed, and through the open door she could see Betty,
tilted back in a big chair, nodding over a magazine. She concluded it
would be a good time to dash off a letter to Holland, but with a
foresight which prompted her to be ready for any occasion, she decided
to dress first for the evening. Tiptoeing around the room, she brushed
her hair in the new way Mom Beck had taught her, and, taking out her
prettiest white dress, proceeded to array herself in honor of the best
man's coming. Then she rummaged in the tray of her trunk till she found
her pink coral necklace and fan-chain, and, with a sigh of satisfaction
that she was ready for any emergency, seated herself at her
She had written only a page, however, when the clock on the stairs
chimed four. The deep tones echoing through the hall sent Lloyd
bouncing up from her couch, her hair falling over her shoulders and her
long kimono tripping her at every step, as she ran into Joyce's room.
What are we going to do? she cried in dismay. I ovahslept myself,
and now it's foah o'clock, and Phil's train due in nine minutes. The
carriage is at the doah and none of us dressed to go to meet him. I
wrote that the entiah bridal party would be there.
Joyce sprang up in a dazed sort of way, and began putting on her
slippers. The bridesmaids had talked so much about the grand welcome
the best man was to receive on his entrance to the Valley that,
half-awake as she was, she could not realize that it was too late to
carry out their plans.
Oh, it's no use trying to get ready now, said Lloyd, in a
disappointed tone. We couldn't dress and get to the station in time to
save ou' lives. Then her glance fell on Mary, sitting at her desk in
all her brave array of pink ribbons and corals.
Why, Mary can go! she cried, in a relieved tone. I had forgotten
that she knows Phil as well as we do. Run on, that's a deah! Don't stop
for a hat! You won't need it in the carriage. Tell him that you're the
maid of honah on this occasion!
It was all over so quickly, the rapid drive down the avenue, the
quick dash up to the station as the train came puffing past, that Mary
had little time to rehearse the part she had been bidden to play. She
was so afraid that Phil would not recognize her that she wondered if
she ought not to begin by introducing herself. She pictured the scene
in her mind as they rolled along, unconscious that she was smiling and
bowing into empty air, as she rehearsed the speech with which she
intended to impress him. She would be as dignified and gracious as the
Princess herself; not at all like the hoydenish child of eleven who had
waved her sunbonnet at him in parting three years before.
The sight of the train as it slowed up sent a queer inward quiver of
expectancy through her, and her cheeks were flushed with eagerness as
she leaned forward watching for him. With a nervous gesture, she put
her hand up to her hair-ribbons to make sure that her bows were in
place, and then clutched the coral necklace. Then Betty's sermon
flashed across her mind, and the thought that she had done just like
the self-conscious girl at school brought a distressed pucker between
her eyebrows. But the next instant she forgot all about it. She forgot
the princess-like way in which she was to step from the carriage, the
dignity with which she was to offer Phil her hand, and the words
wherewith she was to welcome him. She had caught sight of a
wide-brimmed gray hat over the heads of the crowd, and a face, bronzed
and handsome, almost as dear in its familiar outlines as Jack's or
Holland's. Her carefully rehearsed actions flew to the winds, as,
regardless of the strangers all about, she sprang from the carriage and
ran along bareheaded in the sun. And Phil, glancing around him for the
bridal party that was to meet him, was surprised beyond measure when
this little apparition from the Arizona Wigwam caught him by the hand.
Bless my soul, it's the little Vicar! he exclaimed. Why, it's
like getting back home to see you! And how you've grown, and how
really civilized you are!
So he had remembered her. He was glad to see her. With her
face glowing and her feet fairly dancing, she led him to the carriage,
pouring out a flood of information as they went, about The Locusts and
the wedding and the people they passed, and how lovely everything was
in the Valley, till he said, with a twinkle in his eyes: You're the
same enthusiastic little soul that you used to be, aren't you? I hope
you'll speak as good a word for me at The Locusts as you did at Lee's
ranch. I am taking it as a good omen that you were sent to conduct me
into this happy land. You made a success of it that other time; somehow
I'm sure you will this time.
All the way to the house Mary sat and beamed on him as she talked,
thinking how much older he looked, and yet how friendly and brotherly
he still was. She introduced him to Mrs. Sherman with a proud,
grandmotherly air of proprietorship, and took a personal pride in every
complimentary thing said about him afterward, as if she were
responsible for his good behavior, and was pleased with the way he was
Rob came over as usual in the evening. Phil was not there at first.
He and Eugenia were strolling about the grounds. Mary, sitting in a
hammock on the porch, was impatient for them to come in, for she wanted
to see what impression he would make on Rob, whom she had been thinking
lately was the nicest man she ever met. She wanted to see them together
to contrast the two, for they seemed wonderfully alike in size and
general appearance. In actions, too, Mary thought, remembering how they
both had teased her.
She had not seen Rob since their unhappy encounter early that
morning, when she had been so overcome with mortification; and if Betty
had not been on the porch also, she would have found it hard to stay
and face him. But she wanted to show Betty that she had taken her
little sermon to heart. Then, besides, the affair did not look so big,
after all that had happened during this exciting day.
As they waited, Joyce joined them, and presently they heard Lloyd
coming through the hall. She was singing a verse from Ingelow's Songs
'There is no dew left on the daisies and clover.
There is no rain left in the heaven.
I've said my seven times over and over
Seven times one are seven.'
Then she began again, 'There is no dew left on the daisies and
clover' Rob turned to Mary. I wonder why, he said, meaningly.
The red flashed up into Mary's face and she made no audible answer,
but Joyce, turning suddenly, saw to her horror that Mary had made a
saucy face at him and thrust out her tongue like a naughty child.
Why, Mary Ware! she began, in a shocked tone, but Betty
interrupted with a laugh. Let her alone, Joyce; he richly deserved it.
He was teasing her.
Betty was right, thought Mary afterward. It was better to
make fun of his teasing than to run off and cry because he happened to
mention the subject. If I had done that, he never would have said to
Betty afterward that I was the jolliest little thing that ever came
over the pike. How much better this day has ended than it began.
CHAPTER VIII. AT THE BEECHES
The invitation came by telephone while the family was at breakfast
next morning. Would the house-party at The Locusts join the house-party
at The Beeches in giving a series of tableaux at their lawn fête that
night? If so, would the house-party at The Locusts proceed immediately
to The Beeches to spend the morning in the rehearsing of tableaux, the
selection of costumes, the manufacture of paper roses, and the pleasure
of each other's honorable company in the partaking of a picnic-lunch
under the trees?
There was an enthusiastic acceptance from all except Eugenia, who,
tired from her long journey and with many important things to attend
to, begged to be left behind for a quiet day with her cousin Elizabeth.
Mary, tormented by a fear that maybe she was not included in the
invitation, since she was a child, and all the guests at The Beeches
were grown, could scarcely finish her breakfast in her excitement. But
long before the girls were ready to start, her fears were set at rest
by the arrival of Elise Walton in her pony-cart. She wanted Mary to
drive to one of the neighbors with her, to borrow a bonnet and shawl
over fifty years old, which were to figure in one of the tableaux.
Elise had not been attracted by Mary's appearance the day she met
her in the restaurant and was not sure that she would care for her. It
was only her hospitable desire to be nice to a guest in the Valley that
made her comply so willingly to her mother's request to show her some
especial attention. Mary, spoiled by the companionship of the older
girls for the society of those her own age, was afraid that Elise would
be a repetition of Girlie Dinsmore; but before they had gone half a
mile together they were finding each other so vastly entertaining that
by the time they reached The Beeches they felt like old friends.
It was Mary's first sight of the place, except the glimpse she had
caught through the trees the morning they passed on their way to
Rollington. As the pony-cart rattled up the wide carriage drive which
swept around in front of the house, she felt as if she were riding
straight into a beautiful old Southern story of ante-bellum days. Back
into the times when people had leisure to make hospitality their chief
business in life, and could afford for every day to be a holiday. When
there were always guests under the spreading rooftree of the great
house, and laughter and plenty in the servants' quarters. The sound of
a banjo and a negro melody somewhere in the background heightened the
effect of that illusion.
The wide front porch seemed full of people. Allison and Kitty looked
up with a word of greeting as the two girls came up, one carrying the
bonnet and the other the shawl, but nobody seemed to think it necessary
to introduce Elise's little friend to the other guests. It would have
been an embarrassing ordeal for her, for there were so many strangers.
Mary recognized the two young lieutenants.
With the help of a pretty brunette in white, whom Elise whispered
was Miss Bonham from Lexington, they were rigging up some kind of a
coat of mail for Lieutenant Logan to wear in one of the tableaux.
Ranald, with a huge sheet of cardboard and the library shears, was
manufacturing a pair of giant scissors, half as long as himself, which
a blonde in blue was waiting to cover with tin foil. She was singing
coon songs while she waited, to the accompaniment of a mandolin, and in
such a gay, rollicking way, that every one was keeping time either with
hand or foot.
That is Miss Bernice Howe, answered Elise, in response to Mary's
whispered question. She lives here in the Valley. And that's Malcolm
MacIntyre, my cousin, who is sitting beside her. That's his brother
Keith helping Aunt Allison with the programme cards.
Mary stared at the two young men, vaguely disappointed. They were
the two little knights of Kentucky, but they were grown up, like all
the other heroes and heroines she had looked forward to meeting. She
told herself that she might have expected it, for she knew that Malcolm
was Joyce's age; but she had associated them so long with the handsome
little fellows in the photograph Lloyd had, clad in the knightly
costumes of King Arthur's time, that it was hard to recognize them now,
in these up-to-date, American college boys, who had long ago discarded
their knightly disguises.
And that, said Elise, as another young man came out of the house
with a sheet of music in his hand for Miss Howe, is Mister Alex
Shelby. He lives in Louisville, but he comes out to the Valley all the
time to see Bernice. I'll tell you about them while we drive over to
It's this way, she began a few moments later, as they rattled down
the road; Bernice asked Allison if Mister Shelby couldn't be in one of
the tableaux. Allison said yes, that they had intended to ask him
before she spoke of it; that they had decided to ask him to be the
boatman in the tableau of 'Elaine, the Lily Maid of Astolat.' But when
Bernice found that Lloyd had already been asked to be Elaine, she was
furious. She said she was just as good as engaged to him, or something
of the sort, I don't know exactly what. And she knew, if Lloyd had a
chance to monopolize him in that beautiful tableau, what it would lead
to. It wouldn't be the first time that Lloyd had quietly stepped in and
taken possession of her particular friends. She made such a fuss about
it, that Allison finally said she'd change, and make Malcolm take the
part of boatman, and give Alex the part they had intended for Malcolm,
even if they didn't fit as well.
The hateful thing! sputtered Mary, indignantly. I don't see how
she can insinuate such mean things about any one as sweet and beautiful
as Lloyd is.
I don't either, agreed Elise, but Allison says it is true that
everybody who has ever started out as a special friend of Bernice, men
I mean, have ended by thinking the most of Lloyd. But everybody knows
that it is simply because she is more attractive than Bernice. As
Ranald says Lloyd isn't a girl to fish for attention, and that Bernice
would have more if she didn't show the fellows that she was after them
with a hook. Don't you tell Lloyd I told you all this, warned Elise.
Oh, I wouldn't think of doing such a thing! cried Mary. It would
hurt her dreadfully to know that anybody talked so mean about her. I
wouldn't be the one to repeat it, for worlds!
Left to hold the pony while Elise went in at Mrs. Bisbee's, Mary sat
thinking of the snake she had discovered in her Eden. It was a rude
shock to find that every one did not admire and love the Queen of
Hearts, who to her was without fault or flaw. All the rest of that day
and evening, she could not look in Bernice Howe's direction, without a
savage desire to scratch her. Once, when she heard her address Lloyd as
dearie, she could hardly keep from crying out, Oh, you sly,
Lloyd and her guests arrived on the scene while Mary was away in the
pony-cart on another borrowing expedition. All of the tableaux, except
two, were simple in setting, requiring only the costumes that could be
furnished by the chests of the neighborhood attics. But those two kept
everybody busy all morning long. One was the reproduction of a famous
painting called June, in which seven garlanded maidens in Greek
costumes posed in a bewitching rose bower. Quantities of roses were
needed for the background, great masses of them that would not fade and
droop; and since previous experience had proved that artificial flowers
may be used with fine stage effect in the glare of red foot-lights the
whole place was bursting into tissue-paper bloom. The girls cut and
folded the myriad petals needed, the boys wired them, and a couple of
little pickaninnies sent out to gather foliage, piled armfuls of young
oak-leaves on the porch to twine into long conventional garlands, like
the ones in the painting.
Agnes Waring had come over to help with the Greek costumes, and
since the long folds of cheesecloth could be held in place by girdles,
basting threads, and pins, the gowns were rapidly finished.
Down by the tea-house the colored coachman sawed and pounded and
planed under Malcolm's occasional direction. He was building a barge
like the one described in Tennyson's poem of the Lily Maid of Astolat.
From time to time, Lloyd, who was to personate Elaine, was called to
stretch herself out on the black bier in the centre, to see if it was
long enough or high enough or wide enough, before the final nails were
driven into place.
Malcolm, with a pole in his hand, posed as the old dumb servitor who
was to row her up the river. It all looked unpromising enough in the
broad daylight; the boat with its high stiff prow made of dry goods
boxes and covered with black calico, and Lloyd stretched out on the
bier in a modern shirtwaist suit with side-combs in her hair. She
giggled as she meekly crossed her hands on her breast, with a piece of
newspaper folded in one to represent the letter, and a bunch of lilac
leaves in the other, which later was to clasp the lily. From under the
long eyelashes lying on her cheeks, she smiled mischievously at
Malcolm, who was vainly trying to put a decrepit bend into his athletic
young back, as he bent over the pole in the attitude of an old, old
Yes, it does look silly now, admitted Miss Allison in answer to
his protest that he felt like a fool. But wait till you get on the
long white beard and wig I have for you, and the black robe. You'll
look like Methuselah. And Lloyd will be covered with a cloth of gold,
and her hair will be rippling down all over her shoulders like gold,
too. And we've a real lily for the occasion, a long stalk of them. Oh,
this tableau is to be the gem of the collection.
But half the people here won't understand it, said Malcolm.
Yes, they will, for we're to have readings behind the scenes in
explanation of each one. We've engaged an amateur elocutionist for the
occasion. I'll show you just the part she'll read for this scene, so
you'll know how long you have to pose to-night. It begins with those
lines, 'And the dead, oared by the dumb, went upward with the flood. In
her right hand the lily, in her left the letter.' Where did I put that
volume of Tennyson?
Here it is, answered Mary Ware, unexpectedly, springing up from
her seat on the grass to hand her the volume. She had been watching the
rehearsal with wide-eyed interest. Deep down in her romance-loving
little soul had long been the desire to see Sir Feal the Faithful face
to face, and hear him address the Princess. The play of the Rescue of
the Princess Winsome had become a real thing to her, that she felt
that it must have happened; that Malcolm really was Lloyd's true
knight, and that when they were alone together they talked like the
people in books. She was disappointed when the rehearsal was over
because the conversation she had imagined did not take place.
The coachman's carpenter-work was not of the steadiest, and Lloyd
lay laughing on the shaky bier because she could not rise without fear
of upsetting it.
Help me up, you ancient mariner, she ordered, and when Malcolm,
instead of springing forward in courtly fashion to her assistance as
Sir Feal should have done, playfully held out his pole for her to pull
herself up by, Mary felt that something was wrong. A playful manner was
not seemly on the part of a Sir Feal. It would have been natural enough
for Phil or Rob to do teasing things, but she resented it when there
seemed a lack of deference on Malcolm's part toward the Princess.
After they had gone back to the porch, Mary sat on the grass a long
time, reading the part of the poem relating to the tableau. She and
Holland had committed to memory several pages of the Idylls of the
King, and had often run races repeating them, to see which could
finish first. Now Mary found that she still remembered the entire page
that Miss Allison had read. She closed the book, and repeated it to
So that day there was dole in Astolat.
. . . . . . . . .
Then rose the dumb old servitor, and the dead,
Oared by the dumb, went upward with the flood
In her right hand the lily, in her left
The letterall her bright hair streaming down
And all the coverlid was cloth of gold
Drawn to her waist, and she herself in white.
All but her face, and that clear-featured face
Was lovely, for she did not seem as dead,
But fast asleep, and lay as though she smiled.
That was as far as Mary got with her whispered declamation, for two
white-capped maids came out and began spreading small tables under the
beech-tree where she sat. She opened the book and began reading,
because she did not know what else to do. While she had been watching
Lloyd in the boat, Elise had been summoned to the house to try on the
dress she was to wear in the tableau of the gipsy fortune-teller. The
people on the porch had divided into little groups which she did not
feel free to join. She was afraid they would think she was intruding.
Even her own sister seemed out of her reach, for she and Lieutenant
Logan had taken their share of paper roses over to a rustic seat near
the croquet grounds and were talking more busily than they were
fashioning tissue flowers.
Mary was unselfishly glad that Joyce was having attention like the
other girls and that she had been chosen for one of the Greek maidens
in the tableau of June. And she wasn't really jealous of Elise because
she was to be tambourine girl in the gipsy scene, but she did wish,
with a little fluttering sigh, that she could have had some small part
in it all. It was hard to be the only plain one in the midst of so many
pretty girls; so plain that nobody even thought of suggesting her for
one of the characters.
I know very well, she said to herself, that a Lily Maid of
Astolat with freckles would be ridiculous, and I'm not slim and
graceful enough to be a tambourine girl, but it would be so nice to
have some part in it. It would be such a comfortable feeling to know
that you're pretty enough always to be counted in.
Her musings were interrupted by the descent of the party upon the
picnic tables, and she looked up to see Elise beckoning her to a seat.
To her delight it was at the table opposite the one where Lloyd and
Phil, Anna Moore and Keith were seated. Malcolm was just across from
them, with Miss Bonham on one side and Betty and Lieutenant Stanley on
the other. Mary looked around inquiringly for her sister. She was with
Rob now, and Lieutenant Logan was placing chairs for Allison and
himself on the other side of the tree. Mr. Shelby and the hateful Miss
Bernice Howe were over there, too, Mary noted, glad that they were at a
Malcolm was still in a teasing mood, it seemed, for as Lloyd helped
herself in picnic fashion from a plate of fried chicken, he said,
laughing, Look at Elaine now. Tennyson wouldn't know his Lily Maid if
he saw her in this way. He struck an attitude, declaiming
dramatically, In her right hand the wish-bone, in her left the olive.
That's all right, answered Lloyd, tossing the olive stone out on
the grass, and helping herself to a beaten biscuit. I always did think
that Elaine was a dreadful goose to go floating down the rivah to a man
who didn't care two straws about her. She'd much bettah have held on to
a wish-bone and an olive and stayed up in her high towah with her
fathah and brothahs who appreciated her. She would have had a bettah
time and he would have had lots moah respect for her.
Oh, I don't think so, cooed Miss Bonham, with a coquettish side
glance at Phil. That always seemed such a beautifully romantic
situation to me. Doesn't it appeal to you, Mr. Tremont?
Mary listened for Phil's answer with grave attention, for she, too,
considered it a touching situation, and more than once had pictured, in
pleasing day-dream, herself as Elaine, floating down a stream in that
Well, no, Miss Bonham, said Phil, laughingly. I'm free to confess
that if I had been Sir Lancelot, I'd have liked her a great deal better
if she had been a cheerful sort of body, and had stayed alive. Then if
she had come rowing up in a nice trig little craft, instead of that
spooky old funeral barge, and had offered me a wish-bone and an olive,
I'd have thought them twice as fetching as a lily and that doleful
letter. I'd have joined her picnic in a jiffy, and probably had such a
jolly time that the poem would have ended with wedding bells in the
high tower instead of a funeral dirge in the palace.
She wasn't game, he continued, smiling across at Mary, who was
listening with absorbing attention. Now if she had only lived up to
the Vicar of Wakefield's mottoinstead of mooning over Lancelot's old
shield, and embroidering things for it, and acting as if it were
something too precious for ordinary mortals to touchif she'd batted
it into the corner, or made mud pies on it, to show that she was
inflexible, fortune would have changed in her favor. Sir
Lancelot would have had some respect for her common sense.
Mary, who felt that the remark was addressed to her, crimsoned
painfully. Rob took up the question, and his opinion was the same as
Phil's and Malcolm's. Long after the conversation passed to other
topics, Mary puzzled over the fact that the three knightliest-looking
men she knew, the three who, she supposed, would make ideal lovers, had
laughed at one of the most romantic situations in all poesy, and had
agreed that Elaine was silly and sentimental. Maybe, she thought with
burning cheeks, maybe they would think she was just as bad if they knew
how she had admired Elaine and imagined herself in her place, and
actually cried over the poor maiden who loved so fondly and so truly
that she could die of a broken heart.
When she reflected that Lloyd, too, had agreed with them, she began
to think that her own ideals might need reconstructing. She was glad
that Phil's smile had seemed to say that he took it for granted that
she would have been inflexible to the extent of making mud pies on
Lancelot's shield. Unconsciously her reconstruction began then and
there, for although the seeds sown by the laughing discussion at the
picnic table lay dormant in her memory many years, they blossomed into
a saving common sense at last, that enabled her to see the humorous
side of the most sentimental situation, and gave her wisdom to meet it
as it deserved.
The outdoor tableaux that night proved to be one of the most
successful entertainments ever given in the Valley. A heavy wire,
stretched from one beech-tree to another, held the curtains that hid
the impromptu stage. The vine-covered tea-house and a dense clump of
shrubbery formed the background. Rows of Japanese lanterns strung from
the gate to the house, and from pillar to pillar of the wide porches,
gave a festive appearance to the place, but they were not really
needed. The full moon flooded the lawn with a silvery radiance, and as
the curtains parted each time, a flash of red lights illuminated the
It was like a glimpse of fairy-land to Mary, and she had the double
enjoyment of watching the arrangement of each group behind the scenes,
and then hurrying back with Elise to their chairs in the front row,
just as Ranald gave the signal to burn the red lights.
There was the usual confusion in the dressing-room, the tea-house
having been taken for that purpose. There was more than usual in some
instances, for while the fête had been planned for some time, the
tableaux were an afterthought, and many details had been overlooked.
Still, with slight delays, they moved along toward a successful finish.
Group by group posed for its particular picture and returned to
seats in the audience to enjoy the remainder of the performance. At
last only three people were left in the tea-house, and Miss Allison
sent Keith, Rob, Phil, and Lieutenant Logan before the curtain, with
instructions to sing one of the longest songs they knew and two
encores, while Gibbs repaired the prow of the funeral barge. Some one
had used it for a step-ladder, and had broken it.
Mary, waiting in the audience till the quartette had finished its
first song, did not appear on the scene behind the curtain until
Malcolm was dressed in his black robe and long white beard and wig, and
Lloyd was laid out on the black bier.
Stay just as you are, whispered Miss Allison. It's perfect. I'm
going out into the audience to enjoy the effect as the curtain rises.
As she passed Miss Casey, the elocutionist, she felt some one catch
her sleeve. I've left that copy of Tennyson at the house, she gasped.
What shall I do?
I'll run and get it, volunteered Elise in a whisper, and promptly
started off. Mary, standing back in the shadow of a tall lilac bush,
clasped her hands in silent admiration of the picture. It was wonderful
how the moonlight transformed everything. Here was the living,
breathing poem itself before her. She forgot it was Lloyd and Malcolm
posing in makeshift costumes on a calico-covered dry goods box. It
seemed the barge itself, draped all in blackest samite, going upward
with the flood, that day that there was dole in Astolat. While she
gazed like one in a dream, Lloyd half-opened her eyes, to peep at the
I wish they'd hurry, she said, in a low tone. I never felt so
foolish in my whole life.
And never looked more beautiful, Malcolm answered, trying to get
another glimpse of her without changing his pose.
Sh, she whispered back, saucily. You forget that you are dumb.
You mustn't say a word.
I will, he answered, in a loud whisper. For even if I were really
dumb I think I should find my voice to tell you that with your hair
rippling down on that cloth of gold in the moonlight, and all in white,
with that lily in your hand, you look like an angel, and I'm in the
seventh heaven to be here with you in this boat.
And with you in that white hair and beard I feel as if it were
Fathah Time paying me compliments, said Lloyd, her cheeks dimpling
with amusement. Hush! It's time for me to look dead, she warned, as
the applause followed the last encore. Don't say anything to make me
laugh. I'm trying to look as if I had died of a broken heart.
Elise darted back just as the prompter's bell rang, and Mary,
turning to follow her to their seats in the audience, saw Miss Casey
tragically throw up her hands, with a horrified exclamation. It was not
the copy of Tennyson Elise had brought her. In her haste she had
snatched up a volume of essays bound in the same blue and gold.
Go on! whispered Malcolm, sternly. Say something. At least go out
and explain the tableau in your own words. There are lots of people who
won't know what we are aiming at.
Miss Casey only wrung her hands. Oh, I can't! I can't! she
answered, hoarsely. I couldn't think of a word before all those
people! As the curtain drew slowly apart, she covered her face with
her hands and sank back out of sight in the shrubbery.
The curtain-shifter had answered the signal of the prompter's bell,
which at Miss Allison's direction was to be rung immediately after the
last applause. Neither knew of the dilemma.
A long-drawn O-o-oh greeted the beautiful tableau, and then there
was a silence that made Miss Allison rise half-way in her seat, to see
what had become of the interpreter. Then she sank back again, for a
clear, strong voice, not Miss Casey's, took up the story.
And that day there was dole in Astolat.
Then rose the dumb old servitor, and the dead,
Oared by the dumb, went upward with the flood.
[Illustration: A LONG-DRAWN 'O-O-OH' GREETED THE BEAUTIFUL
She did not know who had sprung to the rescue, but Joyce, who
recognized Mary's voice, felt a thrill of pride that she was doing it
so well. It was better than Miss Casey's rendering, for it was without
any professional frills and affectations; just the simple story told in
the simplest way by one who felt to the fullest the beauty of the
picture and the music of the poem.
The red lights flared up, and again the exclamation of pleasure
swept through the audience, for Lloyd, lying on the black bier with her
hair rippling down and the lily in her hand, might indeed have been the
dead Elaine, so ethereal and fair she seemed in that soft glow. Three
times the curtains were parted, and even then the enthusiastic guests
There was a rush from the seats, and half a dozen admiring friends
pushed between the curtains to offer congratulations. But before they
reached her, Lloyd had rolled off her bier to catch Mary in an
impulsive hug, crying, You were a perfect darling to save the day that
way! Wasn't she, Malcolm? It was wondahful that you happened to know
The next moment she had turned to Judge Moore and Alex Shelby and
the ladies who were with them, to explain how Mary had had the presence
of mind and the ability to throw herself into Miss Casey's place on the
spur of the moment, and turn a failure into a brilliant success. The
congratulations and compliments which she heard on every side were very
sweet to Mary's ears, and when Phil came up a little later to tell her
that she was a brick and the heroine of the evening, she laughed
Where is the fair Elaine? he asked next. I see her boat is empty.
Can you tell me where she has drifted?
No, answered Mary, so eager to be of service that she was ready to
tell all she knew. She was here with Sir Feal till just a moment ago.
Sir Feal! echoed Phil, in amazement.
Oh, I forgot that you don't know the Princess play. I meant Mister
Malcolm. While so many people were in here congratulating us and
shaking hands, I heard him say something to her in an undertone, and
then he sang sort of under his breath, you know, so that nobody else
but me heard him, that verse from the play:
'Go bid the Princess in the tower
Forget all thought of sorrow.
Her true love will return to her
With joy on some glad morrow.'
Then he bent over her and said still lower, 'By my calendar
it's the glad morrow now, Princess.'
He went on just like he was in the play, you know. I suppose they
have rehearsed it so much that it is sort of second nature for them to
talk in that old-time way, like kings and queens used to do.
Maybe, answered Phil. Then what did she say? he demanded,
I don't know. She walked off toward the house with him, and that's
the last I saw of them. Why, what's the matter?
Oh, nothing! he replied, with a shrug of his shoulders. Nothing's
the matter, little Vicar. Let us keep inflexible, and fortune will
at last change in our favor.
Now whatever did he mean by that! exclaimed Mary, as she watched
him walk away. It puzzled her all the rest of the evening that he
should have met her question with the family motto.
CHAPTER IX. SOMETHING BLUE
A rainy day followed the lawn fête, such a steady pour that little
rivers ran down the window-panes, and the porches had to be abandoned.
But nobody lamented the fact that they were driven indoors. Rob and
Joyce began a game of chess in the library. Lloyd and Phil turned over
the music in the cabinet until they found a pile of duets which they
both knew, and began to try them, first to the accompaniment of the
piano, then the harp.
Mary, sitting in the hall where she could see both the chess-players
and the singers, waited in a state of bliss to be summoned to the
sewing-room. Only that morning it had been discovered that there was
enough pink chiffon left, after the bridesmaids' gowns were completed,
to make her a dress, and the seamstress was at work upon it now. So it
was a gay, rose-colored world to Mary this morning, despite the leaden
skies and pouring rain outside. Not only was she to have a dress, the
material for which had actually been brought from Paris, but she was to
have little pink satin slippers like the bridesmaids, and she was to
have a proud place in the wedding itself. When the bridal party came
down the stairs, it was to be her privilege to swing wide the gate of
roses for them to pass through.
Joyce had designed the gate. It was to be a double one, swung in the
arch between the hall and the drawing-room, and it would take hundreds
of roses to make it, the florist said.
In Mary's opinion the office of gate-opener was more to be desired
than that of bridesmaid. As she sat listening to the music, curled up
in a big hall chair like a contented kitten, she decided that there was
nobody in all the world with whom she would change places. There had
been times when she would have exchanged gladly with Joyce, thinking of
the artist career ahead of her, or with Betty, who was sure to be a
famous author some day, or with Lloyd, who seemed to have everything
that heart could wish, or with Eugenia with all her lovely presents and
trousseau and the new home on the Hudson waiting for her. But just now
she was so happy that she wouldn't even have stepped into a fairy-tale.
Presently, through the dripping window-panes, she saw Alec plodding
up the avenue under an umbrella, his pockets bulging with mail
packages, papers, and letters. Betty, at her window up-stairs, saw him
also, and came running down the steps, followed by Eugenia. The old
Colonel, hearing the call, The mail's here, opened the door of his
den, and joined the group in the hall where Betty proceeded to sort out
the letters. A registered package from Stuart was the first thing that
Eugenia tore open, and the others looked up from their letters at her
Oh, it's the charms for the bride's cake!
Ornaments for the top? asked Rob, as she lifted the layer of
jeweller's cotton and disclosed a small gold thimble, and a narrow
No! Who ever heard of such a thing! she laughed. Haven't you
heard of the traditional charms that must be baked in a bride's cake?
It is a token of the fate one may expect who finds it in his slice of
cake. Eliot taught me the old rhyme:
'Four tokens must the bridescake hold:
A silver shilling and a ring of gold,
A crystal charm good luck to symbol,
And for the spinster's hand a thimble.'
Eliot firmly believes that the tokens are a prophecy, for years
ago, at her cousin's wedding in England, she got the spinster's
thimble. The girl who found the ring was married within the year, and
the one who found the shilling shortly came into an inheritance. True,
it didn't amount to much,about five pounds,but the coincidence
firmly convinced Eliot of the truth of the superstition. In this
country people usually take a dime instead of a shilling, but I told
Stuart that I wanted to follow the custom strictly to the letter. And
look what a dear he is! Here is a bona fide English shilling,
that he took the trouble to get for me.
Phil took up the bit of silver she had placed beside the thimble and
the ring, and looked it over critically. Well, I'll declare! he
exclaimed. That was Aunt Patricia's old shilling! I'd swear to it. See
the way the hole is punched, just between those two ugly old heads? And
I remember the dent just below the date. Looks as if some one had tried
to bite it. Aunt Patricia used to keep it in her treasure-box with her
gold beads and other keepsakes.
The old Colonel, who had once had a fad for collecting coins, and
owned a large assortment, held out his hand for it. Adjusting his
glasses, he examined it carefully. Ah! Most interesting, he observed.
Coined in the reign of 'Bloody Mary,' and bearing the heads of Queen
Mary and King Philip. You remember this shilling is mentioned in
'Still amorous and fond and billing,
Like Philip and Mary on a shilling.'
You couldn't have a more appropriate token for your cake, my dear,
he said to Eugenia with a smile. Then he laid it on the table, and
taking up his papers, passed back into his den.
That's the first time I ever heard my name in a poem, said Phil.
By rights I ought to draw that shilling in my share of cake. If I do I
shall take it as a sign that history is going to repeat itself, and
shall look around for a ladye-love named Mary. Now I know a dozen songs
with that name, and such things always come in handy when 'a frog he
would a-wooing go,' There's 'My Highland Mary' and 'Mary of Argyle,'
and 'Mistress Mary, quite contrary,' and 'Mary, call the cattle home,
across the sands of Dee!'
As he rattled thoughtlessly on, nothing was farther from his
thoughts than the self-conscious little Mary just behind him. Nobody
saw her face grow red, however, for Lloyd's exclamation over the last
token made every one crowd around her to see.
It was a small heart-shaped charm of crystal, probably intended for
a watch-fob. There was a four-leaf clover, somehow mysteriously
imbedded in the centre.
That ought to be doubly lucky, said Eugenia. Oh, what a
dear Stuart was to take so much trouble to get the very nicest things.
They couldn't be more suitable.
Eugenia, asked Betty, have you thought of that other rhyme that
brides always consider? You know you should wear
'Something old, something new,
Something borrowed, something blue.'
Yes, Eliot insisted on that, too. The whole outfit will, itself, be
something new, the lace that was on my mother's wedding-gown will be
the something old. I thought I'd borrow a hairpin apiece from you
girls, and I haven't decided yet about the something blue.
No, objected Lloyd. The borrowed articles ought to be something
really valuable. Let me lend you my little pearl clasps to fasten your
veil, and then for the something blue, there is your turquoise
butterfly. You can slip it on somewhere, undah the folds of lace.
What a lot of fol-de-rol there is about a wedding, said Rob. As
if it made a particle of difference whether you wear pink or green!
Why must it be blue?
There was an indignant protest from all the girls, and Rob made his
escape to the library, calling to Joyce to come and finish the game of
That evening, Mary, sitting on the floor of the library in front of
the Poets' Corner, took down volume after volume to scan its index. She
was looking for the songs Phil had mentioned, which contained her name.
At the same time she also kept watch for the name of Philip. She
remembered she had read some lines one time about Philip my King.
As she pored over the poems in the dim light, for only the shaded
lamp on the central table was burning, she heard steps on the porch
outside. The rain had stopped early in the afternoon, and the porches
had dried so that the hammocks and chairs could be put out again. Now
voices sounded just outside the window where she sat, and the creaking
of a screw in the post told that some one was sitting in the hammock.
Evidently it was Lloyd, for Phil's voice sounded nearer the window. He
had seated himself in the armchair that always stood in that niche, and
was tuning a guitar. As soon as it was keyed up to his satisfaction, he
began thrumming on it, a sort of running accompaniment to their
It did not occur to Mary that she was eavesdropping, for they were
talking of impersonal things, just the trifles of the hour; and she
caught only a word now and then as she scanned the story of Enoch
Arden. The name Philip, in it, had arrested her attention.
I think the maid of honor ought to wear something blue as well as
the bride, remarked Phil.
Why? asked Lloyd.
There was such a long pause that Mary looked up, wondering why he
did not answer.
Why? asked Lloyd again.
Phil thrummed on a moment longer, and then began playing in a soft
minor key, and his answer, when it finally came, seemed at first to
have no connection with what he had been talking about.
Do you remember when we were in Arizona, the picnic we had at
Hole-in-the-rock, and the story that that old Norwegian told about
Alaka, the gambling god, who lost his string of precious turquoises and
even his eyes?
Mary looked up from her book, listening alertly. The mystery of
years was about to be explained.
Well, do you remember a conversation you had with Joyce about it
afterward, in which you called the turquoise the 'friendship stone,'
because it was true blue? And you said it was a pity that some people
you knew, not a thousand miles away, couldn't go to the School of the
Bees, and learn that line from Watts about Satan finding mischief for
idle hands to do. And Joyce said yes, it was too bad for a fine fellow
to get into trouble just because he was a drone, and had no ambition to
make anything of himself; that if Alaka had gone to the School of the
Bees he wouldn't have lost his eyes. And then you said that if somebody
kept on he would at least lose his turquoises. Do you remember all
The screw in the post stopped creaking as Lloyd sat straight up in
the hammock to exclaim in astonishment: Yes, I remembah, but how undah
the sun, Phil Tremont, do you happen to know anything about that
convahsation? You were not there.
No, but little Mary Ware was. She didn't have the faintest idea
that you meant me, and that Sunday morning when I called at the Wigwam
for the last time to make my apologies and farewells, and you were not
there, she told me all about it like the blessed little chatterbox that
she was. Then, when I saw plainly that I had forfeited my right to your
friendship, I did not wait to say good-by, just left a message for you
with Mary. I knew she would attempt to deliver it, but I have wondered
many times since if she gave it in the words I told her. Of course I
couldn't expect you to remember the exact words after all this time.
But it happens that I do, answered Lloyd. She said, 'Alaka has
lost his precious turquoises, but he will win them back again some
Did you understand what I meant, Lloyd?
Well, II guessed at yoah meaning.
Mary unwittingly did me a good turn that morning. She was an angel
unawares, for she showed me myself as you saw me, a drone in the hive,
with no ambition, and the gambling fever in my veins making a fool of
me. I went away vowing I would win back your respect and make myself
worthy of your friendship, and I can say honestly that I have kept that
vow. Soon after, while I was out on that first surveying trip I came
across some unset stones for a mere song. This little turquoise was
among them. He took the tiny stone from his pocket and held it out on
his palm, so that the light streaming out from the library fell across
I have carried it ever since. Many a time it has reminded me of you
and your good opinion I was trying to win back. I've had lots of
temptations to buck against, and there have been times when they almost
downed me, but I say it in all humility, Lloyd, this little bit of
turquoise kept me 'true blue,' and I've lived straight enough to ask
you to take it now, in token that you do think me worthy of your
friendship. When I heard Eugenia talking about wearing something blue
at the wedding, I had a fancy that it would be an appropriate thing for
the maid of honor to do, too.
Lloyd took the little stone he offered, and held it up to the light.
It certainly is true blue, she said, with a smile, and I'm suah
you are too, now. I didn't need this to tell me how well you've been
doing since you left Arizona. We've heard a great deal about yoah
successes from Cousin Carl.
Then let me have it set in a ring for you, he added. There will
be plenty of time before the wedding.
No, she answered, hastily. I couldn't do that. Papa Jack wouldn't
like it. He wouldn't allow me to accept anything from a man in the way
of jewelry, you know. I couldn't take it as a ring. Now just this
little unset stoneshe hesitated. Just this bit of a turquoise that
you say cost only a trifle, I'm suah he wouldn't mind that. I'll tell
him it's just my friendship stone.
What a particular little maid of honor you are! he exclaimed. How
many girls of seventeen do you know who would take the trouble to go to
their fathers with a trifle like that, and make a careful explanation
about it? Besides, you can't tell him that it is only a
friendship stone. I want it to mean more than that to you, Lloyd. I
want it to stand for a great deal more between us. Don't you see how I
carehow I must have cared all this time, to let the thought of you
make such a difference in my life?
There was no mistaking the deep tenderness of his voice or the
earnestness of his question. Lloyd felt the blood surge up in her face
and her heart throbbed so fast she could hear it beat. But she hastily
thrust back the proffered turquoise, saying, in confusion:
Then I can't wear it! Take it back, please; I promised Papa Jack
Promised him what? asked Phil, as she hesitated.
Well, it's rathah hard to explain, she began in much confusion,
unless you knew the story of 'The Three Weavahs.' Then you'd
But I don't know it, and I'd rather like an explanation of some
kind. I think you'll have to make it clear to me why you can't accept
it, and what it was you promised your father.
Oh, I can't tell it to make it sound like anything, she began,
desperately. It was like this. No, I can't tell it. Come in the house,
and I'll get the book and let you read it for yoahself!
No, I'd rather hear the reason from your own lips. Besides, some
one would interrupt us in there, and I want to understand where I'm
'at' before that happens.
Well, she began again, it is a story Mrs. Walton told us once
when our Shadow Club was in disgrace, because one of the girls eloped,
and we were all in such trouble about it that we vowed we'd be old
maids. Afterward it was the cause of our forming another club that we
called the 'Ordah of Hildegarde.' I'll give you a sawt of an outline
now, if you'll promise to read the entiah thing aftahward.
I'll promise, agreed Phil.
Then, this is it. Once there were three maidens, of whom it was
written in the stahs that each was to wed a prince, provided she could
weave a mantle that should fit his royal shouldahs as the falcon's
feathahs fit the falcon. Each had a mirror beside her loom like the
Lady of Shalott's in which the shadows of the world appeahed.
One maiden wove in secret, and falling in love with a page who
daily passed her mirror, imagined him to be a prince, and wove her web
to fit his unworthy shouldahs. Of co'se when the real prince came it
was too small, and so she missed the happiness that was written for her
in the stahs.
The second squandahed her warp of gold first on one, then anothah,
weaving mantles for any one who happened to take her fancya shepherd
boy and a troubador, a student and a knight. When her prince rode by
she had nothing left to offah him, so she missed her life's
But the third had a deah old fathah like Papa Jack, and he gave her
a silvah yahdstick on which was marked the inches and ells that a true
prince ought to be. And he warned her like this:
'Many youths will come to thee, each begging, Give me the
royal mantle, Hildegarde. I am the prince the stahs have
destined for thee. And with honeyed words he'll show thee how the
mantle in the loom is just the length to fit his shouldahs. But let him
not persuade thee to cut it loose and give it to him as thy young
fingahs will be fain to do. Weave on anothah yeah and yet anothah, till
thou, a woman grown, can measuah out a perfect web, moah ample than
these stripling youths could carry, but which will fit thy prince in
faultlessness, as the falcon's feathahs fit the falcon.'
Then Hildegarde took the silvah yahdstick and said, 'You may trust
me, fathah. I will not cut the golden warp from out the loom, until I,
a woman grown, have woven such a web as thou thyself shalt say is
worthy of a prince's wearing.' (That's what I promised Papa Jack.)
Of co'se it turned out, that one day with her fathah's blessing
light upon her, she rode away beside the prince, and evah aftah all her
life was crowned with happiness, as it had been written for her in the
There was a long pause when she finished, so long that the silence
began to grow painful. Then Phil said, slowly:
I understand now. Would you mind telling me what the measure was
your father gave you that your prince must be?
There were three notches. He must be clean and honahable and
There was another long pause before Phil said, Well, I wouldn't be
measuring up to that second notch if I asked you to break your promise
to your father, and you wouldn't do it even if I did. So there's
nothing more for me to say at present. But I'll ask this much. You'll
keep the turquoise if we count it merely a friendship stone, won't
Yes, I'll be glad to do that. And I'll weah it at the wedding if
you want me to, as my bit of something blue. I'll slip it down into my
Thank you, he answered, then added, after a pause: And I suppose
there's another thing. That yardstick keeps all the other fellows at a
distance, too. That's something to be cheerful over. But you mark my
wordsI'm doing a bit of prophesying nowwhen your real prince comes
you'll know him by this: he'll come singing this song. Listen.
Picking up his guitar again, he struck one full deep chord and began
singing softly the Bedouin Love-song, From the desert I come to
thee. The refrain floated tremulously through the library window.
Till the stars are old,
And the sun grows cold,
And the leaves of the judgment
It brought back the whole moonlighted desert to Lloyd, with the odor
of orange-blossoms wafted across it, as it had been on two eventful
occasions they rode over it together. She sat quite still in the
hammock, with the bit of turquoise clasped tight in her hand. It was
hard to listen to such a beautiful voice unmoved. It thrilled her as no
song had ever done before.
As it floated into the library, it thrilled Mary also, but in a
different way; for with a guilty start she realized that she had been
listening to something not meant for her to hear.
Oh, what have I done! What have I done! she whispered to herself,
dropping the book and noiselessly wringing her hands. She could hear
voices on the stairs now. Eugenia and Betty were coming down, and Rob's
whistle down the avenue told that he was on his way to join them. Too
ashamed to face any one just then, and afraid that her guilty face
would betray the fact to Phil and Lloyd that she shared their secret,
she hurried out of the library and up to her room, where Joyce was
rearranging her hair. In response to Joyce's question about her coming
up so early in the evening, she said she had thought of something she
wanted to write in her journal. But when Joyce had gone down she did
not begin writing immediately. Turning down the lamp until the room was
almost in darkness, she sat with her elbows on the window-sill staring
out into the night.
I never meant to do it! she kept explaining to her
conscience. It just did itself. It seemed all right to listen at
first, when they were talking about things I had a right to know, and
then I got so interested, it was like reading a story, and I couldn't
go away because I forgot there was such a person living as me.
But Lloyd mightn't understand how it was. She'd scorn to be an
eavesdropper herself, and she'd scorn and despise me if she knew that I
just sat there like a graven image and listened to Phil the same as
propose to her.
Hitherto Mary had looked upon Malcolm as Lloyd's especial knight,
and had planned to be his valiant champion should need for her services
ever arise. But this put matters in a different light. All her
sympathies were enlisted in Phil's behalf now. She liked Phil the best,
and she wanted him to have whatever he wanted. He had called her his
angel unawares, and she wished she could do something to further
deserve that title. Then she began supposing things.
Suppose she should come tripping down the stairs some day (this
would be sometime in the future, of course, when Lloyd's promise to her
father was no longer binding) and should find Phil pacing the room with
impatient strides because the maid of honor had gone off with Sir Feal
to the opera or somewhere, in preference to him, on account of some
misunderstanding. The little rift within the lute would be making the
best man's music mute, and now would be her time to play angel unawares
She would trip in lightly, humming a song perhaps, and finding him
moody and downcast, would begin the conversation with some appropriate
quotation. In looking through the dictionary the day before, her eye
had caught one from Shakespeare, which she had stored away in her
memory to use on some future occasion. Yes, that one would be very
appropriate to begin the conversation. She would go up to him and say,
My lord leans wondrously to discontent.
His comfortable temper has forsook him.
With that a smile would flit across his stern features, and
presently he would be moved to confide in her, and she would encourage
him. Then, she didn't know yet exactly in what way it could come about,
she would do something to bring the two together again, and wipe out
the bitter misunderstanding.
It was a very pleasing dream. That and others like it kept her
sitting by the window till nearly bedtime. Then, just before the girls
came up-stairs, she turned up the lamp and made an entry in her
journal. With the fear that some prying eye might some day see that
page, she omitted all names, using only initials. It would have puzzled
the Sphinx herself to have deciphered that entry, unless she had
guessed that the initials stood for titles instead of names. The last
paragraph concluded: It now lies between Sir F. and the B. M., but I
think it will be the B. M. who will get the mantle, for Sir F. and his
brother have gone away on a yachting trip. The M. of H. does not know
that I know, and the secret weighs heavy on my mind.
She was in bed when the girls came up, but the door into the next
room stood open and she heard Betty say, Oh, we forgot to give you
Alex Shelby's message, Lloyd. Joyce and I met him on our way to the
post-office. He was walking with Bernice. He sent his greetings to the
fair Elaine. He fairly raved over the way you looked in that moonlight
It was evident that Bernice didn't enjoy his raptures very much,
added Joyce. Her face showed that she was not only bored, but
I can imagine it, said Lloyd. Really, girls, I think this is a
serious case with Bernice. She seems to think moah of Mistah Shelby
than any one who has evah gone to see her, and she is old enough now to
have it mean something. She's neahly twenty, you know. I do hope he
thinks as much of her as she does of him.
There! whispered Mary to herself, nodding wisely in the darkness
of her room, as if to an unseen listener. I knew it! I told you so!
All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't make me believe
she'd stoop to such a thing as that nasty Bernice Howe insinuated.
She's a maid of honor in every way!
CHAPTER X. A COON HUNT
The morning after the arrival of the rest of the bridal party, Betty
was out of bed at the first sound of any one stirring in the servants'
quarters. She and Lloyd had given up their rooms to the new guests, and
moved back into the sewing-room together. Now in order not to awaken
Lloyd she tiptoed out to the little vine-covered balcony, through the
window that opened into it from the sewing-room. She was in her
nightgown, for she could not wait to dress, when she was so eager to
find out what kind of a day Eugenia was to have for her wedding.
Not a cloud was in sight. It was as perfect as only a June morning
can be, in Kentucky. The fresh smell of dewy roses and new-mown grass
mingled with the pungent smoke of the wood fire, just beginning to curl
up in blue rings from the kitchen chimney. Soft twitterings and
jubilant bird-calls followed the flash of wings from tree to tree. She
peeped out between the thick mass of wistaria vines, across the grassy
court, formed by the two rear wings of the house, to another balcony
opposite the one in which she stood. It opened off Eugenia's room, and
was almost hidden by a climbing rose, which made a perfect bride's
bower, with its gorgeous full-blown Gloire Dijon roses.
Stray rhymes and words suggestive of music and color and the
morning's glory began to flit through her mind as she stood there, as
if a little poem were about to start to life with a happy fluttering of
wings; a madrigal of June. But in a few moments she slipped back into
the house through the window, put on her kimono and slippers, and
gathering up her journal in one hand and pen and ink with the other,
she stole back to the balcony again. The seamstress had left her
sewing-chair out there the afternoon she finished Mary's dress, and it
still stood there, with the lap-board beside it. Taking the board on
her knees, and opening her journal upon it, Betty perched her
ink-bottle on the balcony railing and began to write. She knew there
would be no time later in the day for her to bring her record
up-to-date, and she did not want to let the happenings pile up
unrecorded. She was afraid she might leave out something she wanted to
include, and she had found that the trivial conversations and the
trifles she noted were often the things which recalled a scene most
vividly, and almost made it seem to live again. She began her narrative
just where she had left off, so that it made a continuous story.
We didn't settle down to anything yesterday morning. Phil went to
town with Papa Jack directly after breakfast, and we girls just
strolled up and down the avenue and talked. It was delightfully cool
under the locusts, and we knew it would be our last morning with
Eugenia; that after the arrival of the rest of the bridal party,
everything would be in confusion until after the wedding, and then she
would never be Eugenia Forbes again. She would be Mrs. Stuart Tremont.
She told us that her being married wouldn't make any difference,
that she'd always be the same to us. But it's bound to make a
difference. A married woman can't be interested in the same things that
young girls are. Her husband is bound to come first in her
Joyce asked her if it didn't make her feel queer to know that her
wedding-day was coming closer and closer, and quoted that line from
'The Siege of Lucknow,''Day by day the Bengal tiger nearer drew
and closer crept.' She said she'd have a fit if she knew her
wedding-day was creeping up on her that way. Eugenia was horrified to
have her talk that way, and said that it was because she didn't know
Stuart, and didn't know what it meant to care enough for a man to be
glad to join her life to his, forever and ever. There was such a light
in her eyes as she talked about him, that we didn't say anything more
for awhile, just wondered how it must feel to be so supremely happy as
she is. There is no doubt about it, he is certainly the one written for
her in the stars, for he measures up to every ideal of hers, as
faultlessly 'as the falcon's feathers fit the falcon.'
We had heard so much from her and Phil about Doctor Miles Bradford,
Stuart's friend who is coming with him to be one of the ushers, that we
dreaded meeting him. When she told us that he is from Boston and
belongs to one of its most exclusive families, and is very
conventional, and twenty-five years old, Joyce nicknamed him 'The
Pilgrim Father,' and vowed she wouldn't have him for her attendant;
that I had to take him and let her walk in with Rob. She said she'd
shock him with her wild west slang and uncivilized ways, and that I was
the literary lady of the establishment, and would know how to entertain
such a personage.
I was just as much afraid of him as she was, and wanted Rob myself,
so we squabbled over it all the way up and down the avenue. We were
walking five abreast, swinging hands. When we got to the gate we saw
some one coming up the road, and we all stood in a row, peeping out
between the bars till we saw that it was Rob himself. Then Joyce said
that we would make him decide the matterthat we'd all put our hands
through the bars as if we had something in them, and make him choose
which he'd take, right or left. If he said right, I could have him for
my attendant and she'd take Doctor Bradford, but if he said left I'd
have to put up with the Pilgrim Father, and she'd take Rob.
[Illustration: 'ALL YOU GIRLS STANDING WITH YOUR HANDS STUCK
THROUGH THE BARS']
He came along bareheaded, swinging his hat in his hand, and we were
so busy explaining to him that he was to choose which hand he'd take,
right or left, that we did not notice that he had a kodak hidden behind
his hat. He held it up in front of him, and bowed and scraped and did
all sorts of ridiculous things to keep us from noticing what he was
doing, till all of a sudden we heard the shutter click and he gave a
whoop and said, 'There! That will be one of the best pictures in my
collection. All you girls standing with your hands stuck through the
bars, like monkeys at the Zoo, begging for peanuts. I don't know
whether to call it Behind the Bars, or Don't Feed the Animals.'
Then Lloyd said he shouldn't come in for making such a speech, and
he sat down on the grass and began to sing in a ridiculous way, the old
song that goes:
'Oh, angel, sweet angel, I pray thee
Set the beautiful gates ajar.'
He was off the key, as he usually is when he sings without an
accompaniment, and it was so funny, such a howl of a song, that we
laughed till the tears came. Then he said he'd name the picture 'At the
Gate of Paradise,' and make a foot-note to the effect that she was a
Peri, if she'd let him in.
After awhile she said she'd let him in to Paradise if he could name
one good deed he'd ever done that had benefited human kind. He said
certainly he could, and that he wouldn't have to dig it up from the
dead past. He could give it to her hot from the griddle, for only ten
minutes before he had completed arrangements for the evening's
entertainment of the bridal party.
Lloyd opened the gate in a hurry then, and fairly begged him to
come in, for we had been wild all week to know what godmother had
decided upon. She only laughed when we teased her to tell us, and said
we'd see. We were sure it would be something very elegant and formal.
Maybe a real grown-up affair, with an orchestra from town and
distinguished strangers to meet the three fathers, Eugenia's, Stuart's
and the Pilgrim F.
We couldn't believe Rob when he told us that we were to go on a
coon hunt, and went racing up to the house to ask godmother
And she said yes, she was sure they would enjoy a glimpse of real
country Southern life, and some of our informal fun, far more than the
functions they could attend any time in the East. Besides she wanted
everybody to keep in mind that we were still little schoolgirls, even
if we were to be bridesmaids, and that was why she was taking us all
off to the woods for an old-time country frolic, instead of having a
grand dinner or a formal dance.
Then Rob asked us if we didn't want to beg his pardon for doubting
his word, but Lloyd told him no, that
'The truth itself is not believed
From one who often has deceived.'
Then we tried to make him choose which he'd have, right or left,
and held out our hands again, but he said he knew that some great
question of choice was being involved, and that he would not assume the
responsibility. That we'd have to draw straws, if we wanted to decide
anything. So Eugenia held two blades of grass between her palms, and
Joyce drew the longest one. I couldn't help groaning, for that meant
that the Pilgrim Father must fall to my lot.
But it didn't seem so bad after I met him. They all came out on the
three o'clock train with Phil. When the carriage came up from the
station we had a grand jubilee. Cousin Carl seemed so glad to get back
to the Valley, but no gladder than everybody was to see him. Stuart is
so much like Phil that we felt as if we were already acquainted with
him. He is very boyish-looking and young, but there is something so
dignified and gentle in his manner that one feels he is cut out to be a
staid old family physician, and that in time he will grow into the love
and confidence of his patients like Maclaren's Doctor of the Old
School. But dear old Doctor Tremont is the flower of that
family. We all fell in love with him the moment we saw him. It is easy
to see what he has been to his boys. The very tone in which they call
him 'Daddy' shows how they adore him; and he is so sweet and tender
Contrasted with him and Cousin Carl, I must say that the Pilgrim
Father is not a suitable name for Doctor Bradford. Really, with his
smooth shaven face, and clear ruddy complexion like an Englishman's, he
doesn't seem much older than Malcolm. Still his dignity is rather
awe-full, and his grave manner and Boston accent make him seem sort of
foreign, so different from the boys whom we have always known. We were
afraid at first that godmother had made a great mistake in planning to
take him on a coon hunt. But it turned out that she was right, as she
always is. He told us afterward he had never enjoyed anything so much
in all his life.
It was just eight o'clock when we set out on the hunt last night. A
big hay-wagon drove up to the door with the party from The Beeches
already stowed away in it, sitting flat on the hay in the bottom. Mrs.
Walton was with them, and Miss Allison and Katie Mallard and her
father, and several others they had picked up on the way.
While they were laughing and talking and everybody was being
introduced, Alec came driving up from the barn with another big wagon,
and we all piled into it except Lloyd and Rob, Joyce and Phil. They
were on horseback and kept alongside of us as outriders. The moon
hadn't come up, but the starlight was so bright that the road gleamed
like a white ribbon ahead of us, and we sang most of the way to the
Old Unc' Jefferson led the procession on his white mule, with three
lanky coon dogs following. They struck the trail before we reached our
stopping-place, and went dashing off into the woods. Unc' Jefferson
fairly rolled off his old mule, and threw the rope bridle over the
first fence-post, and went crashing through the underbrush after them.
The wagons kept on a few rods farther and landed us on the creek bank,
up by the black bridge.
It seemed as if the whole itinerary of the hunt had been planned
for our especial benefit, for just as we reached the creek the moon
began to roll up through the trees like a great golden mill-wheel, and
we could see our way about in the woods. Evidently the coon's home was
in some hollow near our stopping-place, for instead of staying in the
dense beech woods, up where it would have been hard for us to climb,
the first dash of the dogs sent him scurrying toward the row of big
sycamores that overhang the creek.
It whizzed by us so fast that at first we did not know what had
passed us till the dogs came tumbling after at breakneck speed. They
were such old hands at the game that they gave their quarry a bad time
of it for awhile, turning and doubling on his tracks till we were
almost as excited and bewildered as the poor coon. Little Mary Ware
just stood and wrung her hands, and once when the dogs were almost on
him she teetered up and down on her tiptoes and squealed.
All of a sudden the coon dodged to one side and disappeared. We
thought he had escaped, but a little later on we heard the dogs baying
frantically farther down the creek, and Rob shouted that they had treed
him, and for everybody to hurry up if they wanted to be in at the
death. So away we went, helter-skelter, in a wild race down the creek
bank, godmother, Papa Jack, Cousin Carl, and everybody. It was a rough
scramble, and as we pitched over rolling stones, and caught at bushes
to pull ourselves up, and swung down holding on to the saplings, I
wondered what Doctor Bradford would think of our tomboy ways.
Nobody waited to be helped. It was every fellow for himself, we
were in such a hurry to get to the coon. Lloyd kept far in the lead,
ahead of everybody, and Joyce walked straight up a steep bank as if she
had been a fly. When we got to the tree where the dogs were howling and
baying we had to look a long time before we could see the coon. Then
all we could distinguish was the shine of its eyeballs, for it crouched
so flat against the limb that it seemed a part of the bark. It was away
out on the tip-end of one of the highest branches.
The only way to get it was to shake it down, and to our surprise,
before we knew who had volunteered, we saw Doctor Bradford, in his
immaculate white flannels, throw off his coat and go shinning up the
tree like an acrobat in a circus. He had to shake and shake the limb
before he could dislodge the coon, but at last it let go, and the dogs
had it before it fairly touched the ground. We girls didn't wait to see
what they did with it, but stuck our fingers in our ears and tore back
to the wagons. Rob made fun of Lloyd when she said she didn't see why
they couldn't have coon hunts without coon killings, and that they
ought to have made the dogs let go. They had had the fun of catching
it, and they ought to be satisfied with that.
Joyce whispered to me that the hunt had had one desirable result.
It had limbered up the Pilgrim Father so thoroughly, that he couldn't
be stiff and dignified again after his acrobatic feat. It really did
make a difference, for after that he was one of the jolliest men in the
As it was out of season and old Unc' Jefferson didn't care for the
coons, he called off the dogs after they had caught one, to show us
what the sport was like, and then he built us a grand camp-fire on the
creek bank, and we had what Mrs. Walton called the sequel. She and Miss
Allison and godmother made coffee and unpacked the hampers we had
brought with us. There was beaten biscuit and fried chicken and iced
watermelon, and all sorts of good things. As we ate, the moon came up
higher and higher, and silvered the white trunks of the sycamores till
they looked like a row of ghosts standing with outstretched arms along
the creek. It was so lovely there above the water. All the sweet woodsy
smells of fern and mint and fallen leaves seem stronger after
nightfall. Everybody enjoyed the feast so much, and was in such high
spirits that we all felt a shade of regret that it had to come to an
end so soon.
[Illustration: 'THEY STEPPED IN AND ROWED OFF DOWN THE SHINING
There were two boats down by the bridge which we found that Rob had
had sent over that morning for the occasion. They had brought the oars
over in the wagon. Pretty soon we saw Eugenia and Stuart going down
toward one of them, a little white canvas one, and they stepped in and
rowed off down the shining waterway. It was only a narrow creek, but
the moonlight seemed to glorify it, and we knew that it made them think
of that boat-ride that had been the beginning of their happiness, in
The other boat was larger. Allison and Miss Bonham, Phil and
Lieutenant Stanley went out in that. The music of their singing, as it
floated back to us, was so beautiful, that those of us on the bank
stopped talking to listen. When they came back presently, Kitty and
Joyce, Rob and Lieutenant Logan pushed out in it for awhile. They sang
When the little boat came back, Doctor Bradford asked Lloyd to go
out with him, and she said she would as soon as she had given her
chatelaine watch to her father to keep for her. The clasp kept coming
unfastened and she was afraid she would lose it.
Here Betty laid down her pen a moment and sat peering dreamily out
between the vines. She was about to record a little conversation she
had overheard between Lloyd and her father as they stood a moment in
the bushes behind her, but paused as she reflected that it would be
like betraying a confidence to make an entry of it in her journal. It
would be even worse, since it was no confidence of hers, but a matter
lying between Lloyd and her father alone.
She sat tapping the rim of the ink-bottle with her pen as she
recalled the conversation. Yes, it's all right for you to go, Lloyd,
but wait a moment. Have you my silver yardstick with you to-night,
Why of co'se, Papa Jack. What makes you ask such a question?
Well, he answered, there is so much weaving going on around you
lately, and weddings are apt to put all sorts of notions into a girl's
head. I just wanted to remind you that only village lads and shepherd
boys are in sight, probably not even a knight, and the mantle must be
worthy of a prince's wearing, you know.
Then Lloyd pretended to be hurt, and Betty could tell from her voice
just how she lifted her head with an air of injured dignity.
Remembah I gave you my promise, suh, the promise of a Lloyd. Isn't
More than enough, my little Hildegarde. As they stepped out of the
bushes together Betty saw him playfully pinch her cheek. Then Lloyd
went on down the bank. Here Betty took up her pen again.
When she stepped into the boat the moonlight on her white dress and
shining hair made her look almost as ethereal and fair as she had in
the Elaine tableau. The boats could only go as far as the shallows,
just a little way below the bridge, so they went back and forth a
number of times, making such a pretty picture for those who waited on
After Doctor Bradford had brought Lloyd back he asked me to go with
him, and oh, it was so beautiful out there on the water. I'll enjoy the
memory of it as long as I live. At first I couldn't think of anything
to say, and the more I tried to think of something that would interest
a man like him, the more embarrassed I grew. It was the first time I
had ever tried to talk to any but old men or the home boys.
After we had rowed a little way in silence he turned to me with the
jolliest twinkle in his eyes and asked me why the boat ought to be
called the Mayflower. I was so surprised, I asked him if that
was a riddle, and he said no, but he wondered if I wouldn't feel that
it was the Mayflower because I was adrift in it with the Pilgrim
I was so embarrassed I didn't know what to say, for I couldn't
imagine how he had found out that we had called him that. I couldn't
have talked to him at all if I had known what Lloyd told me afterward
when we had gone to our room. It seems that by some unlucky chance he
was left alone with Mary Ware for awhile before dinner. Godmother told
her to entertain him, and she proceeded to do so by showing him the
collection of all the kodak pictures Rob had taken of us during the
house-party. After he left us yesterday morning he went straight to
work to develop and print the films he had just taken, and when he
brought us the copies that afternoon, we were busy, and he slipped them
into the album with the others without saying anything about them. So
none of us saw them until Mary came across them in showing them to
There was the one of us with our hands thrust through the bars,
when we were trying to make Rob choose right or left, and one of Joyce
and me drawing straws. Neither of us had the slightest idea that he had
taken us in that act, and Mary was so surprised that she gave the whole
thing awayblurted out what we were doing, before she thought that he
was the Pilgrim Father. Then in her confusion, to cover up her mistake,
she began to explain as only Mary Ware can, and the more she explained,
the more ridiculous things she told about us. Doctor Bradford must have
found her vastly entertaining from the way he laughed whenever he
quoted her, which he did frequently.
I wish she wouldn't be so alarmingly outspoken when she sings our
praises to strangers. She gave him to understand that I am a
full-fledged author and playwright, the peer of any poet laureate who
ever held a pen; that Lloyd is a combination of princess and angel and
halo-crowned saint, and Joyce a model big sister and an all-round
genius. How she managed in the short time they were alone to tell him
as much as she did will always remain a mystery.
He knew all about Joyce raising bees at the Wigwam to earn money
for her art lessons, and my nearly going blind at the first
house-party, and why we all wear Tusitala rings. Only time will reveal
what else she told. Maybe, after all, her confidences made things
easier, for it gave us something to laugh about right in the beginning,
and that took away the stiff feeling, and we were soon talking like old
friends. By the time the boat landed I was glad that he had fallen to
my lot as attendant instead of Rob, for he is so much more
entertaining. He told about a moonlight ride he had on the Nile last
winter when he was in Egypt, and that led us to talking of lotus
flowers, and that to Tennyson's poem of the 'Lotus Eaters.' He quoted a
verse from it which he said was, to him, one of the best comparisons in
'There is sweet music here that softer falls
Than petals from blown roses on the grass,
Or night dews upon still waters, between walls
Of shadowy granite in a gleaming pass.
Music that gentlier on the spirit lies
Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes.'
The other boat-load, far down the creek, was singing 'Sweet and
low, wind of the western sea,' and he rested on his oars for us to
listen. I had often repeated that verse to myself when I closed my eyes
after a hard day's study. Nothing falls gentlier than tired eyelids
upon tired eyes, and to have him understand the feeling and admire the
poem in the same way that I did, was such a pleasant sensation, as if I
had come upon a delightful unexplored country, full of pleasant
Such thoughts as that about music are the ones I love best, and yet
I never would dream of speaking of such things to Rob or Malcolm, who
are both old and dear friends.
After all, the coon hunt proved a very small part of the evening's
entertainment, and he must have liked it, for I heard him say to
godmother, as he bade her good night, that if this was a taste of real
Kentucky life, he would like a steady diet of it all the rest of his
CHAPTER XI. THE FOUR-LEAVED CLOVER
As Betty carefully blotted the last page and placed the stopper in
the ink-bottle, the clock in the hall began to strike, and she realized
that she must have been writing fully an hour. The whole household was
astir now. She would be late to breakfast unless she hurried with her
Steps on the gravelled path below the balcony made her peep out
between the vines. Stuart and Doctor Bradford were coming back from an
early stroll about the place. The wistaria clung too closely to the
trellis for them to see her, but, as they crossed the grassy court
between the two wings, they looked up at Eugenia's balcony opposite.
Betty looked too. That bower of golden-hearted roses had drawn her
glances more than once that morning. Now in the midst of it, in a
morning dress of pink, fresh and fair as a blossom herself, stood
Eugenia, reaching up for a half-blown bud above her head. Her sleeves
fell back from her graceful white arms, and as she broke the bud from
its stem a shower of rose-petals fell on her dusky hair and upturned
Then Betty saw that Doctor Bradford had passed on into the house,
leaving Stuart standing there with his hat in his hand, smiling up at
the beautiful picture above him.
Good morrow, Juliet, he called, softly. Happy is the bride the
sun shines on. Was there ever such a glorious morning?
It's perfect, answered Eugenia, leaning out of her rose bower to
smile down at him.
I wonder if the bride's happiness measures up to the morning, he
asked. Mine does.
For answer she glanced around, her finger on her lips as if to warn
him that walls have ears, and then with a light little laugh tossed the
rosebud down to him. Wait! I'll come and tell you, she said.
Betty, gathering up her writing material, saw him catch the rose,
touch it to his lips and fasten it in his coat. Then,
conscience-smitten that she had seen the little by-play not intended
for other eyes, she bolted back into her room through the window, so
hurriedly that she struck her head against the sash with a force which
made her see stars for several minutes.
The first excitement after breakfast was the arrival of the bride's
cake. Aunt Cindy had baked it, the bride herself had stirred the charms
into it, but it had been sent to Louisville to be iced. Lloyd called
the entire family into the butler's pantry to admire it, as it sat
imposingly on a huge silver salver.
It looks as if it might have come out of the Snow Queen's palace,
she said, instead of the confectionah's. Wouldn't you like to see the
place where those snow-rose garlands grow?
Somebody take Phil away from it! Quick! said Stuart. Once I had a
birthday cake iced in pink with garlands of white sugar roses all
around it, and he sneaked into the pantry before the party and picked
off so many of the roses that it looked as if a mouse had nibbled the
edges. Aunt Patricia put him to bed and he missed the party, but we
couldn't punish him that way if he should spoil the wedding cake,
because we need his services as best man. So we'd better remove him
Look here, son, answered Phil, taking Stuart by the shoulders and
pushing him ahead of him. When it comes to raking up youthful sins
you'd better lie low. 'I could a tale unfold' that would make Eugenia
think that this is 'a fatal wedding morn,' If she knew all she wouldn't
Then you sha'n't tell anything, declared Lloyd. I'm not going to
be cheated out of my share of the wedding, no mattah what a dahk past
eithah of you had. Forget it, and come and help us hunt the foah-leaf
clovahs that Eugenia wants for the dream-cake boxes.
What are they? asked Miles Bradford, as he edged out of the pantry
after the others. Mary happened to be the one in front of him, and she
turned to answer, pointing to one of the shelves, where lay a pile of
tiny heart-shaped boxes, tied with white satin ribbons.
Each guest is to have one of those, she explained. There'll be a
piece of wedding cake in it, and a four-leaf clover if we can find
enough to go around. Most people don't have the clovers, but Eugenia
heard about them, and she wants to try all the customs that everybody
ever had. You put it under your pillow for three nights, and whatever
you dream will come true. If you dream about the same person all three
nights, that is the one you will marry.
Horrible! exclaimed he, laughing. Suppose one has nightmares.
Will they come true?
Mary nodded gravely. Mom Beck says so, and Eliot. So did old Mrs.
Bisbee. She's the one that told Eugenia about the clovers. There was
one with her piece of cake from her sister's wedding, that she dreamed
on nearly fifty years ago. She dreamed of Mr. Bisbee three nights
straight ahead, and she said there never was a more fortunate wedding.
They'll celebrate their golden anniversary soon.
Miss Mary, asked her listener, solemnly, do you girls really
believe all these signs and wonders? I have heard more queer
superstitions the few hours I have been in this Valley, than in all my
Oh, no, we don't really believe in them. Only the darkies do that.
But you can't help feeling more comfortable when they 'point right' for
you than when they don't; like seeing the new moon over your right
shoulder, you know. And it's fun to try all the charms. Eugenia says so
many brides have done it that it seems a part of the performance, like
the veil and the trail and the orange-blossoms.
They passed from the dining-room into the hall, then out on to the
front porch, where they stood waiting for Joyce and Eugenia to get
their hats. While they waited, Rob Moore joined them, and they
explained the quest they were about to start upon.
Where are you going to take us, Miss Lloyd? asked Miles Bradford.
According to the old legend the four-leaved clover is to be found only
Oh, do you know a legend about it? asked Betty, eagerly. I've
always thought there ought to be one.
Then you must read the little book, Miss Betty, called 'Abdallah,
or the Four-leaved Shamrock.' Abdallah was a son of the desert who
spent his life in a search for the lucky shamrock. He had been taught
that it was the most beautiful flower of Paradise. One leaf was red
like copper, another white like silver, the third yellow like gold, and
the fourth was a glittering diamond. When Adam and Eve were driven out
of the garden, poor Eve reached out and clutched at a blossom to carry
away with her. In her despair she did not notice what she plucked, but,
as she passed through the portal, curiosity made her open her hand to
look at the flower she had snatched. To her joy it was the shamrock.
But while she looked, a gust of wind caught up the diamond leaf and
blew it back within the gates, just as they closed behind her. The name
of that leaf was Perfect Happiness. That is why men never find it in
this world for all their searching. It is to be found only in
Oh, but I don't believe that! cried Lloyd. Lots and lots of times
I have been perfectly happy, and I am suah that everybody must be at
some time or anothah in this world.
Yes, but you didn't stay happy, did you? asked Joyce, who had come
back in time to hear part of the legend. We get glimpses of it now and
then, as poor Eve did when she opened her hand, but part of it always
flies away while we are looking at it. People can be contented all the
time, and happy in a mild way, but nobody can be perfectly, radiantly
happy all the time, day in and day out. The legend is right. It is only
in Paradise that one can find the diamond leaf.
Joyce talks as if she were a hundred yeahs old, laughed Lloyd,
looking up at Doctor Bradford. Maybe there is some truth in yoah old
Oriental legend, but I believe times have changed since Abdallah went
a-hunting. Phil and I came across a song the othah day that I want you
all to heah. Maybe it will make you change yoah minds.
Phil protested with many grimaces and much nonsense that he could
not sing the old songs now. That he would not be butchered to make a
Roman holiday. But all the time he protested, he was stepping toward
the piano in a fantastic exaggerated cake-walk that set his audience to
laughing. At the first low notes of the accompaniment, he dropped his
foolishness and began to sing in a full, sweet voice that brought the
old Colonel to the door of his den to listen. Eliot, packing trunks in
the upper hall, leaned over the banister:
I know a place where the sun is like gold,
And the cherry blooms burst with snow.
And down underneath is the loveliest nook
Where the four-leaf clovers grow.
One leaf is for hope and one is for faith,
And one is for love you know,
And God put another one in for luck.
If you search you will find where they grow.
And you must have hope and you must have faith.
You must love and be strong, and so
If you work, if you wait, you will find the place
Where the four-leaf clovers grow.
It was a sweet, haunting melody that accompanied the words, and the
gay party of nine, strolling toward the orchard, hummed it all the way.
There in the shade of the big apple-trees, where the clover grew in
thick patches, they began their search; all together at first, then in
little groups of twos and threes, until they had hunted over the entire
orchard. Stuart, who had been doing more talking than hunting, went to
groping industriously around on his hands and knees, when they all came
together again after an hour's search.
Bradford, he said, emphatically, I am beginning to think that you
and Miss Joyce are right, and that Paradise has a monopoly on the
four-leaf kind. I haven't caught a glimpse of one. Not even its
Lloyd held up a handful. I found them in several places, thick as
Which goes to show, he insisted, that the song, 'If you work, if
you wait, you will find the place,' is all a delusion and a snare. You
all have worked, and Eugenia and I have waited, and only you, who are
'bawn lucky,' have found any. It's pure luck.
No, interrupted Miles Bradford, you can't call strolling around a
shady orchard with a pretty girl work, and the song does correspond
with the legend. Abdallah worked hard for his first leaf, dug a well
with which to bless the thirsty desert for all time. The bit of copper
was at the bottom of it. The effort he made for the second almost cost
him his life. He rescued a poor slave girl in order to be faithful to a
trust imposed in him, and taught her the truths of Allah. The silver
leaf was his reward. He found it in the heathen fetish which she gave
him in her gratitude. It had been her god.
I am not sure about the golden leaf, but I think it was the reward
of living a wise and honorable life. The day of his birth it was said
that he alone wept, while all around him rejoiced; and he resolved to
live so well that at the day of his death he should have no cause for
tears, and all around him should mourn. No, I'll not have you
belittling my hero, Tremont. There was no luck about it whatsoever. He
won the first three leaves by unselfish service, faithfulness to every
trust, and wise, honorable living, so that he well deserved that
Paradise should bring him perfect happiness.
Girls! cried Betty, her face lighting up, we must be warm
on the trail, with our Tusitala rings, our Warwick Hall motto, and our
Order of Hildegarde. A Road of the Loving Heart is as hard to dig in
every one's memory as a well in the desert. If we keep the tryst in all
things, we're bound to find the silver leaf, and think of the wisdom it
takes to weave with the honor of a Hildegarde!
Eugenia interrupted her: Oh, Betty, please write a legend of
the shamrock for girls that will fit modern times. In the old style
there are always three brothers or three maidens who start out to find
a thing, and only the last one or the youngest one is successful. The
others all come to grief. In yours give everybody a chance to be
There is no reason why every maiden shouldn't find the
leaves according to the Tusitala rings and Ederyn's motto and
Hildegarde's yardstick. And then, don't you see, they needn't wait till
the end of their lives for the diamond, for the prince will
bring it! Don't you see? It is his coming that makes the perfect
Phil laughed. Stuart's face shows how he appreciates that
compliment, he said, and as for me and all the other sons of Adam,
oh, fair layde, I make my bow! Springing to his feet, he swept her an
elaborate curtsey, holding out his coat as if it were the ball-gown of
some stately dame in a minuet.
Lloyd, sitting on the grass with her hands clasped on her knees,
looked around the circle of smiling faces, and then gave her shoulders
a whimsical shrug.
That's all right if the prince comes, she exclaimed. But
how is one to get the diamond leaf if he doesn't? Mammy Eastah told my
fortune in a teacup, and she said: 'I see a risin' sun, and a row of
lovahs, but I don't see you a-takin' any of 'em, honey. Yo' ways am
ways of pleasantness, and all yo' paths is peace, but I'se powahful
skeered you'se goin' to be an ole maid. I sholy is, if the teacup signs
It will be your own fault, then, answered Phil. The row of lovers
is there in the teacup for you. You've only to take your pick.
But, began Rob, maybe it is just as well that she shouldn't
choose any of them. The prince's coming doesn't always bring happiness.
Look at old Mr. Deckly. For thirty years he and his fair bride have led
a regular cat and dog life. And there are the Twicketts and the
Graysons and the Blackstones right in this one little valley, to say
nothing of all the troubles one reads of in the papers.
No! contradicted Eugenia, emphatically. You have no right to hold
them up as examples. It is plainly to be seen that Mrs. Deckly and Mrs.
Twickett and Mrs. Grayson and Mrs. Blackstone were not Hildegardes.
They failed to earn their third leaf by doing their weaving wisely.
They didn't use their yardsticks. They looked only at the 'village
churls,' and wove their webs to fit their unworthy shoulders, so that
the men they married were not princes, and they couldn't bring the
The name of the prince need not always be Man, need it?
ventured Joyce. Couldn't it be Success? It seems to me that if I had
struggled along for years, trying to make the most of my little
ability, had worked just as faithfully and wisely at my art as I could,
it would be perfect happiness to have the world award me the place of a
great artist. It would be as much to me as the diamond leaf that
marriage could bring. I should think you'd feel that way, too, Betty,
about your writing. There are marriages that are failures just as there
are artistic and literary careers that are failures, and there are
diamond leaves to reward the work and waiting of old maids, just as
there are diamond leaves to reward the Hildegardes who use their
yardsticks. Sometimes there are girls who don't marry because they
sacrifice their lives to taking care of their families, or living for
those who are dependent on them. Surely there must be a blessedness and
a happiness for them greater than any diamond leaf a prince could
There is probably, answered Eugenia, but it seems as if most
people of that kind have to wait till they get to Paradise to find it.
I don't think so, said Betty. I believe all the dear old-maid
aunts and daughters, who earn the first three leaves, find the
fourth waiting somewhere in this world. It is only the selfish ones,
who slight their share of the duties life imposes on every one, who are
cross and unlovely and unloved. They probably would not have been happy
wives if they had married.
Well, but what about me! persisted Lloyd. I nevah expect
to have a career, so Success in big lettahs will nevah bring me a medal
or a chromo. I am not sacrificing my life for anybody's comfort, and I
can nevah have any little nieces and nephews to whom I can be one of
those deah old aunts Betty talks about, and there is that dreadful
She did not hear Doctor Bradford's laughing answer, for Phil,
turning his back on the others, looked down into her upturned face and
began to hum, as if to himself, From the desert I come to thee!
Only Mary understood the significance of it as Lloyd did, and she knew
why Lloyd suddenly turned away and began passing her hands over the
grass around her, as if resuming her search. She wanted to hide her
face, into which the color was creeping.
A train whistled somewhere far across the orchard, and Rob took out
his watch. The sight of it suggested something in line with the
conversation, for when he had noted the time, he touched the spring
that opened the back of the case.
Never you mind, Little Colonel, he said, in a patronizing,
big-brotherly tone. If nobody else will stand between you and that
teacup, I'll come to the rescue. Bobby won't go back on his old
chum. I'll bring you a four-leaf clover. Here's one, all ready
Lloyd looked across at the watch he held out to her. Law, Bobby,
she exclaimed, giving him the old name she had called him when they
first played together, I supposed you had lost that clovah long ago.
Not much, he answered. It's the finest hoodoo ever was. It helped
me through high school. I swear I never could have passed in Latin but
for your good-luck charm. It's certainly to my interest to hang on to
Think of it, Mary, he added, seeing that her eyes were round with
interest, that was given to me by a princess.
Mary darted a quick look at Lloyd and another one at him to see if
he were teasing.
Oh, I see! she remarked, in a tone of enlightenment.
What do you see? he demanded, laughing.
She would not answer, but, ignoring his further attempts to make her
talk, she, too, turned again to search for clovers, inwardly excited
over the discovery she thought she had made. She would make a note of
it in her journal, she decided, something like this: The plot
thickens. The B. M. and Sir F. have a rival they little suspect. R.
carries the charm the M. of H. gave him in years gone by, and I can see
many reasons why he should be the one to bring her the diamond leaf.
Only two dozen clovers rewarded their united search, but Eugenia was
satisfied. We'll put them in the boxes haphazard, she said, and the
uncertainty of getting one will make it more exciting than if there
were one for every box.
The path back to the house led past the kitchen, where several
colored women were helping Aunt Cindy. Just as they passed, one of them
put her head out of the door to call to a group of children crowded
around one of the windows of the great house. They were watching the
decorators at work inside the drawing-room, hanging the gate of roses
in the arch. The youngest one was perched on a barrel that had been
dragged up for that purpose, so that his older brothers and sisters
might be spared the weariness of holding him up to see. A narrow board
laid across the top made an uneasy and precarious perch for him. He was
seated astride, with his bare black legs dangling down inside the
You M'haley Gibbs, called the woman, don't you let Ca'line
Allison lean agin that bo'd. It'll upset Sweety into the bar'l.
Her warning came too late, for even as she called the slight board
was pushed off its foundations by the weight of the roly-poly Ca'line
Allison, and the pickaninny went down into the barrel as suddenly as a
candle is snuffed out by the wind.
You M'haley, I'll natcherly lay you out, shrieked the woman,
hurrying up the path to the rescue. But M'haley, made agile by fifteen
years of constant practice, dodged the cuffing as it was about to
descend, and scuttled around the house to wait till Sweety stopped
They are Sylvia Gibbs's children, said Lloyd, in answer to Doctor
Bradford's astonished comment at seeing so many little negroes in a
row. They can scent a pahty five miles away, and they hang around like
little black buzzahds waiting for scraps of the feast. I suppose they
feel they have a right to be heah to-day, as Sylvia is helping in the
kitchen. They're the same children, Eugenia, she added, who were heah
so much when I had my first house-pahty. M'haley is the one who brought
you that awful, skinny, mottled chicken in a bandbox for you to 'take
home on the kyers fo' a pet,' she said.
So she is! exclaimed Eugenia, as they passed around the corner of
the house and caught sight of M'haley, who was peeping out to see if
the storm was over, and if it would be safe to return to the
sightseeing at the window. Her teeth and eyeballs were a-shine with
pleasure when Eugenia passed on, after a pleasant greeting and some
reference to the chicken. She felt it a great honor to be remembered by
the bride, and thanked again, after all these years, for her parting
gift. She gave a little giggle when Lloyd came up, and said, with a coy
self-conscious air that was extremely amusing to the Northern man, who
had never met this type of the race before, I'se a maid of honah, too,
You are! was the surprised answer. How does that happen?
Mammy's gwine to git married agin, to Mistah Robinson, and she says
nobody has a bettah right than me to be maid of honah to her own ma's
weddin'. So that's how come she toted us all along to you-all's
weddin', so that Sweety and Ca'line and the boys could learn how to act
at her and Mistah Robinson's.
When is it to be? inquired Lloyd.
To-morrow night. Mammy's done give her fish-fry and ice-cream
festible, and she cleahed enough to pay the weddin' expenses. You-all's
suah gwine to git an invite, Miss Lloyd.
It is sort of a benefit, Betty explained to Miles Bradford, as
they walked on. Instead of giving a concert or a recital, the colored
people here give a fish-fry and festival whenever they are in need of
money. They used to have them just to raise funds for the church, but
now it is quite popular for individuals to give them when there is a
funeral or a wedding to be paid for. I am so glad you are going to stay
over a few days. We can show you sights you've never dreamed of in the
Eugenia, first to step into the hall, gave a cry of pleasure. The
florist and his assistants had been there in their absence, and were
just leaving. They had turned the entire house into a rose-garden.
Hall, drawing-room, and library, and the dining-room beyond were filled
with such lavishness that it seemed as if June herself had taken
possession, with all her court. Stuart and Eugenia paused before the
tall gate of smilax and American beauties.
It is the Gate into Paradise, sweetheart, he whispered, looking
through its blossom-covered bars to the altar beyond, that had been
built in the bay-window of the drawing-room, and covered with white
Yes, answered Eugenia, smiling up at him. The legend is right. We
must enter Paradise to find the diamond leaf. But I was right, too. It
is my prince who will bring mine to me.
CHAPTER XII. THE WEDDING
Lunch was served on the porch, for the tables for the wedding supper
were already spread in the dining-room, and Alec had locked the doors
that nothing might disturb its perfect order.
I think we are really going to be able to avoid that last wild rush
which usually accompanies home weddings, said Mrs. Sherman, as they
sat leisurely talking over the dessert. Usually the bridesmaids'
gloves are missing, or the bride's slippers have been packed into one
of the trunks and sent on ahead to the depot. But this time I have
tried to have everything so perfectly arranged that the wedding will
come to pass as quietly and naturally as a flower opens. I want to have
everything give the impression of having bloomed into place.
Eliot and Mom Beck are certainly doing their part to make such an
impression, said Eugenia. Eliot has already counted over every
article I am to wear, a dozen times, and they're all laid out in
readiness, even to the 'something blue.'
Oh, that reminds me! began Lloyd, then stopped abruptly. Nobody
noticed the exclamation, however, but Mary, and, with swift intuition,
she guessed what the something blue had suggested to the maid of honor.
It was that bit of turquoise that caused the only scramble in the
preparations, for Lloyd could not remember where she had put it.
I was suah I dropped it into one of the boxes in my top bureau
drawer, she said to herself on the way up-stairs. Then, with her
finger on her lip, she stopped on the threshold of the sewing-room to
consider. She remembered that when she gave up her room to the guests,
all the boxes had been taken out of that drawer. Some of them had been
put in the sewing-room closet, and some carried to a room at the end of
the back hall, where trunks and hampers were stored.
Now, while Betty was down-stairs, helping with a few last details,
Lloyd took advantage of her absence to search all the boxes in the
closet and drawers of the sewing-room, but the missing turquoise was
not in any of them.
I know I ought to be taking a beauty sleep, she thought, so I'll
be all fresh and fine for the evening, but I must find it, for I
promised Phil I'd wear it.
In the general shifting of furniture to accommodate so many guests,
several articles had found their way back among the trunks. Among them
was an old rocking-chair. It was drawn up to the window now, and, as
Lloyd pushed open the door, to her surprise she found Mary Ware
half-hidden in its roomy depths. She was tilted back in it with a book
in her hands.
Mary was as surprised as Lloyd. She had been so absorbed in the
story that she did not hear the knob turn, and as the hinges suddenly
creaked, she started half out of her chair.
Oh! she exclaimed, settling back when she saw it was only Lloyd.
You frightened me nearly out of my wits. I didn't know that anybody
ever came in here. Then she seemed to feel that some explanation of
her presence was necessary.
I came in here because our room is full of clothes, spread out
ready to wear. They're all over the room,mine on one side and Joyce's
on the other. I was so afraid I'd forget and flop down on them, or
misplace something, that I came in here to read awhile. It makes the
afternoon go faster. Seems to me it never will be time to dress.
Lloyd stood looking at the shelves around the room, then said: If
time hangs so heavy on yoah hands, I believe I'll ask you to help me
hunt for something I have lost. It's just a trifle, and maybe it is
foolish for me to try to find it now, when everything is in such
confusion, but it is something that I want especially.
I'd love to help hunt, exclaimed Mary, putting down her book and
holding out her arms to take the boxes which Lloyd was reaching down
from the shelves. One by one she piled them on a packing-trunk behind
her, and then climbed up beside them, sitting Turk fashion in their
midst, and leaving the chair by the window for Lloyd.
It's just a scrap of unset turquoise, explained Lloyd, as she
unwrapped a small package, no larger than one of the beads on this
fan-chain. I was in a big hurry when I dropped it into my drawer, and I
didn't notice which box I put it in. So we'll have to take out all
these ribbons and laces and handkerchiefs and sachet-bags.
It was the first time during her visit that Mary had been entirely
alone with her adored Princess, and to be with her now in this intimate
way, smoothing her dainty ribbons, peeping into her private boxes, and
handling her pretty belongings, gave her a pleasure that was
Shall I open this, too? she asked, presently, picking up a package
wrapped in an old gauze veil.
Lloyd glanced up. Yes; although I haven't the slightest idea what
it can be.
A faint, delicious odor stole out as Mary unwound the veil, an odor
of sandalwood, that to her was always suggestive of the Arabian
Nights, of beautiful Oriental things, and of hidden treasures in
secret panels of old castles.
I've hunted for that box high and low! cried Lloyd, reaching
forward to take it. Mom Beck must have wrapped it so, to keep the dust
out of the carving. I nevah thought of looking inside that old veil for
anything of any account. I think moah of what it holds than any othah
ornament I own.
Mary watched her curiously as she threw back the lid and lifted out
a necklace of little Roman pearls. Lloyd dangled it in front of her,
lifting the shining string its full length, then letting it slip back
into her palm, where it lay a shimmering mass of tiny lustrous spheres.
Regarding it intently, she said, with one of those unaccountable
impulses which sometimes seize people:
Mary, I've a great mind to tell you something I've nevah yet told a
soul,how it was I came to make this necklace. I believe I'll weah it
when I stand up at the altah with Eugenia. It seems the most
appropriate kind of a necklace that a maid of honah could weah.
The story of Ederyn and the king's tryst was fresh in Mary's mind,
for Betty had told it at the lunch-table half an hour before, in answer
to Doctor Bradford's question about the motto of Warwick Hall; the
motto which Betty declared was a surer guide-post to the silver leaf of
the magic shamrock than the one Abdallah followed.
I can't undahstand, began Lloyd, why I should be telling this to
a little thing like you, when I hid it from Betty as if it were a
crime. I knew she would think it a beautiful idea,marking each day
with a pearl when its duties had been well done, but I was half-afraid
that she would think it conceited of meconceited for me to count that
any of my days were perfect enough to be marked with a pearl. But it
wasn't that I thought them so. It was only that I tried my hardest to
make the most of them,in my classes and every way, you know.
As Lloyd went on, telling of the times she had failed and times she
had succeeded, Mary felt as if she were listening to the confessions of
a white Easter lily. It seemed perfectly justifiable to her that Lloyd
should have had tantrums, and stormed at the doctor when he forbade her
going back to school after the Christmas vacation, and that she should
have cried and moped and made everybody around her miserable for days.
Mary's overweening admiration for the Princess carried her to the point
of feeling that everybody ought to be miserable when she was
unhappy. In Mary's opinion it was positively saintly of her the way she
took up her rosary again after awhile, trying to string it with tokens
of days spent unselfishly at home; days unstained by regrets and tears
and idle repinings for what could not be helped.
Mary laughed over the story of one hard-earned pearl, the day spent
in making pies and cleaning house for the disagreeable old Mrs.
Perkins, who didn't want to be reformed, and who wouldn't stay clean.
I haven't the faintest idea why I told you all this, said Lloyd at
last, once more lifting the string to watch the light shimmer along its
lustrous length. But now you see why I prize this little rosary so
highly. It was what lifted me out of my dungeon of disappointment.
Afterward Mary thought of a dozen things she wished she had said to
Lloyd while they were there together in the privacy of the trunk-room.
She wished she had let her know in some way how much she admired her,
and longed to be like her, and how she was going to try all the rest of
her life to be a real maid of honor, worthy in every way of her love
and confidence. But some shy, unusual feeling of constraint crowded the
unspoken words back into her throbbing little throat, and the
Clasping the pearls around her neck, Lloyd picked up the sandalwood
box again and shook it. Heah's a lot of loose beads of all kinds, with
as many colahs as a kaleidoscope. You do bead-work, don't you, Mary?
You may have these if you can use them.
In response to her eager acceptance, Lloyd looked around for
something to pour the beads into. There's an empty cologne bottle on
that shelf above yoah head. If you will reach it down, I'll poah them
Beads of various sizes and colors, from garnet to amber, poured in a
rainbow stream from the box to the wide-necked bottle. Here and there
was the glint of cut steel and the gleam of crystal, and several times
Mary noticed a little Roman pearl like those on the rosary, and thought
with a thrill of the necklace she intended to begin making that very
day. Suddenly Lloyd gave an exclamation and reversed the gay-colored
stream, pouring it slowly back into the box from the bottle.
I thought I saw that turquoise, she cried. I remembah now, it was
in my hand when I took off my necklace, and I must have dropped them in
She parted the beads with a cautious forefinger, pushing them aside
one at a time. Presently a bit of blue rolled uppermost, and she looked
up triumphantly. There it is!
Mary flushed guiltily at sight of the turquoise, wondering what
Lloyd would think if she knew that she had overheard what Phil had said
about that bit of something blue. She went back to her chair and her
book by the window after Lloyd left, but the book lay unopened in her
lap. She had many things to think of while she slowly turned the bottle
between herself and the light and watched its shifting colors. Several
times a black bead appeared among the others.
I'd have had to use black beads more than once, she reflected, if
I had been making a rosary, for there's the day I was so rude to
Girlie Dinsmore, and the awful time when I got so interested that I
* * * * *
The wedding was all that Mrs. Sherman had planned, everything
falling into place as beautifully and naturally as the unfolding of a
flower. The assembled guests seated in the great bower of roses heard a
low, soft trembling of harp-strings deepen into chords. Then to this
accompaniment two violins began the wedding-march, and the great gate
of roses swung wide. As Stuart and his best man entered from a side
door and took their places at the altar in front of the old minister,
the rest of the bridal party came down the stairs: Betty and Miles
Bradford first, Joyce and Rob, then the maid of honor walking alone
with her armful of roses. After her came the bride with her hand on her
Just at that instant some one outside drew back the shutters in the
bay-window, and a flood of late afternoon sunshine streamed across the
room, the last golden rays of the perfect June day making a path of
light from the gate of roses to the white altar. It shone full across
Eugenia's face, down on the long-trained shimmering satin, the little
gleaming slippers, the filmy veil that enveloped her, the pearls that
glimmered white on her white throat.
Eliot, standing in a corner, nervously watching every movement with
twitching lips, relaxed into a smile. It's a good omen! she said,
half under her breath, then gave a startled glance around to see if any
one had heard her speak at such an improper time.
The music grew softer now, so faint and low it seemed the mere
shadow of sound. Above the rare sweetness of that undertone of harp and
violins rose the words of the ceremony: I, Stuart, take thee,
Eugenia, to be my wedded wife.
Mary, standing at her post by the rose gate, felt a queer little
chill creep over her. It was so solemn, so very much more solemn than
she had imagined it would be. She wondered how she would feel if the
time ever came for her to stand in Eugenia's place, and plight her
faith to some man in that wayfor better, for worse, for richer,
for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death us do part.
Eliot was crying softly in her corner now. Yes, getting married was
a terribly solemn thing. It didn't end with the ceremony and the pretty
clothes and the shower of congratulations. That was only the beginning.
For better, for worse,that might mean all sorts of trouble
and heartache. Sickness and death,it meant to be bound all
one's life to one person, morning, noon, and night. How very, very
careful one would have to be in choosing,and then suppose one made a
mistake and thought the man she was marrying was good and honest and
true, and he wasn't! It would be all the same, for for
better, for worse, ran the vow, until death us do part.
Then and there, holding fast to the gate of roses, Mary made up her
mind that she could never, never screw her courage up to the point of
taking the vows Eugenia was taking, as she stood with her hand clasped
in Stuart's, and the late sunshine of the sweet June day streaming down
on her like a benediction.
It's lots safer to be an old maid, thought Mary. I'll take my
chances getting the diamond leaf some other way than marrying. Anyhow,
if I ever should make a choice, I'll ask somebody else's opinion, like
I do when I go shopping, so I'll be sure I'm getting a real prince, and
not an imitation one.
It was all over in another moment. Harp and violins burst into the
joyful notes of Mendelssohn's march, and Stuart and Eugenia turned from
the altar to pass through the rose gate together. Lloyd and Phil
followed, then the other attendants in the order of their entrance. On
the wide porch, screened and canopied with smilax and roses, a cool
green out-of-doors reception-room had been made. Here they stood to
receive their guests.
Mary, in all the glory of her pink chiffon dress and satin slippers,
stood at the end of the receiving line, feeling that this one
experience was well worth the long journey from Arizona. So thoroughly
did she delight in her part of the affair, and so heartily did she
enter into her duties, that more than one guest passed on, smiling at
her evident enjoyment.
I wish this wedding could last a week, she confided to Lieutenant
Logan, when he paused beside her. Don't you know, they did in the
fairy-tales, some of them. There was 'feasting and merrymaking for
seventy days and seventy nights.' This one is going by so fast that it
will soon be train-time. I don't suppose they care, she added,
with a nod toward the bride, for they're going to spend their
honeymoon in a Gold of Ophir rose-garden, where there are goldfish in
the fountains, and real orange-blossoms. It's out in California, at
Mister Stuart's grandfather's. Elsie, his sister, couldn't come, so
they're going out to see her, and take her a piece of every kind of
cake we have to-night, and a sample of every kind of bonbon. Don't you
wonder who'll get the charms in the bride's cake? That's the only
reason I am glad the clock is going so fast. It will soon be time to
cut the cake, and I'm wild to see who gets the things in it.
The last glow of the sunset was still tinting the sky with a tender
pink when they were summoned to the dining-room, but indoors it had
grown so dim that a hundred rose-colored candles had been lighted.
Again the music of harp and violins floated through the rose-scented
rooms. As Mary glanced around at the festive scene, the tables gleaming
with silver and cut glass, the beautiful costumes, the smiling faces, a
line from her old school reader kept running through her mind: And
all went merry as a marriage-bell! And all went merry as a
It repeated itself over and over, through all the gay murmur of
voices as the supper went on, through the flowery speech of the old
Colonel when he stood to propose a toast, through the happy tinkle of
laughter when Stuart responded, through the thrilling moment when at
last the bride rose to cut the mammoth cake. In her nervous excitement,
Mary actually began to chant the line aloud, as the first slice was
lifted from the great silver salver: All went merry Then she
clapped her hand over her mouth, but nobody had noticed, for Allison
had drawn the wedding-ring, and a chorus of laughing congratulations
was drowning out every other sound.
As the cake passed on from guest to guest, Betty cried out that she
had found the thimble. Then Lloyd held up the crystal charm, the one
the bride had said was doubly lucky, because it held imbedded in its
centre a four-leaved clover. Nearly every slice had been crumbled as
soon as it was taken, in search of a hidden token, but Mary, who had
not dared to hope that she might draw one, began leisurely eating her
share. Suddenly her teeth met on something hard and flat, and glancing
down, she saw the edge of a coin protruding from the scrap of cake she
Oh, it's the shilling! she exclaimed, in such open-mouthed
astonishment that every one laughed, and for the next few moments she
was the centre of the congratulations. Eugenia took a narrow white
ribbon from one of the dream-cake boxes, and passed it through the hole
in the shilling, so that she could hang it around her neck.
Destined to great wealth! said Rob, with mock solemnity. I always
did think I'd like to marry an heiress. I'll wait for you, Mary.
No, interrupted Phil, laughing, fate has decreed that I should be
the lucky man. Don't you see that it is Philip's head with Mary's on
Whew! teased Kitty. Two proposals in one evening, Mary. See what
the charm has done for you already!
Mary knew that they were joking, but she turned the color of her
dress, and sat twiddling the coin between her thumb and finger, too
embarrassed to look up. They sat so long at the table that it was
almost train-time when Eugenia went up-stairs to put on her
travelling-dress. She made a pretty picture, pausing midway up the
stairs in her bridal array, the veil thrown back, and her happy face
looking down on the girls gathered below. Leaning far over the banister
with the bridal bouquet in her hands, she called:
Now look, ye pretty maidens, standing all a-row,
The one who catches this, the next bouquet shall throw.
There was a laughing scramble and a dozen hands were outstretched to
receive it. Oh, Joyce caught it! Joyce caught it! cried Mary, dancing
up and down on the tips of her toes, and clapping her hands over her
mouth to stifle the squeal of delight that had almost escaped. Now,
some day I can be maid of honor.
So that's why you are so happy over your sister's good fortune, is
it? asked Phil, bent on teasing her every time opportunity offered.
No, was the indignant answer. That is some of the reason, but I'm
gladdest because she didn't get left out of everything. She didn't get
one of the cake charms, so I hoped she would catch the bouquet.
When the carriage drove away at last, a row of shiny black faces was
lined up each side of the avenue. All the Gibbs children were there,
and Aunt Cindy's other grandchildren, with their hands full of rice.
Speed 'em well, chillun! called old Cindy, waving her apron. The
rice fell in showers on the top of the departing carriage, and two
little white slippers were sent flying along after it, with such force
that they nearly struck Eliot, sitting beside the coachman. Tired as
she was, she turned to smile approval, for the slippers were a good
omen, too, in her opinion, and she was happy to think that everything
about her Miss Eugenia's wedding had been carried out properly, down to
this last propitious detail.
As the slippers struck the ground, quick as a cat, M'haley darted
forward to grab them. Them slippahs is mates! she announced,
gleefully, and I'm goin' to tote 'em home for we-all's wedding. I
kain't squeeze into 'em myself, but Ca'line Allison suah kin.
Once more, and for the last time, Eugenia leaned out of the carriage
to look back at the dear faces she was leaving. But there was no
sadness in the farewell. Her prince was beside her, and the Gold of
Ophir rose-garden lay ahead.
CHAPTER XIII. DREAMS AND WARNINGS
It's all ovah now! exclaimed Lloyd, stifling a yawn and looking
around the deserted drawing-room, where the candles burned low in their
sconces, and the faded roses were dropping their petals on the floor.
Mr. Forbes and Doctor Tremont had just driven away to catch the
midnight express for New York, and the last guest but Rob had departed.
It's all over with that gown of yours, too, isn't it? asked Phil,
glancing at the airy pink skirt, down whose entire front breadth ran a
wide, zigzag rent. It's too bad, for it's the most becoming one I've
seen you wear yet. I'm sorry it must be retired from public life so
early in its career.
Lloyd drew the edges of the largest holes together. Yes, it's
ruined beyond all hope, for I stepped cleah through it when I tripped
on the stairs, and it pulled apart in at least a dozen places, just as
a thin veil would. But you'll see it again, and on anothah maid of
honah. M'haley nevah waited to see if I was hurt, but pounced on it and
began to beg for it befoah I got my breath again. She said she could
fix it good enough for her to weah to her mammy's wedding. She would
'turn it hine side befo'' and tie her big blue sash ovah it. Imagine!
She'll be heah at the break of day to get it.
Do you know it is almost that time now? asked Betty, coming in
from the dining-room with seven little heart-shaped boxes. Here's our
cake, and godmother says we'd better take it and go to dreaming on it
soon, or the sun will be up before we get started.
Now remembah, warned Lloyd, as Rob slipped his box into his pocket
and began looking around for his hat, we have all promised to tell our
dreams to each othah in the mawning. We'll wait for you, so come ovah
early. Come to breakfast.
Thanks. I'll be on hand all right. I'll probably have to wake the
rest of you.
Don't you do it! exclaimed Phil. I'll warn you now, if you're
waking, don't call me early, mother, dear. If you do, to-morrow
won't be the happiest day of all your glad New Year. I'll
promise you that. How about you, Bradford?
Oh, I'm thinking of sitting up all night, he answered, laughing,
to escape having any dreams. Miss Mary assures me they will come true,
and one might have a nightmare after such a spread as that
wedding-supper. I can hardly afford to take such risks.
A moment after, Rob's whistle sounded cheerfully down the avenue and
Alec was going around the house, putting out the down-stairs lights.
Late as it was, when they reached their room, Joyce stopped to smooth
every wrinkle out of her bridesmaid dress, and spread it out carefully
in the tray of her trunk.
It is so beautiful, she said, as she plumped the sleeves into
shape with tissue-paper. As long as an accident had to happen to one
of us it was lucky that it was Lloyd's dress that was torn. She has so
many she wouldn't wear it often anyhow, and this will be my best
evening gown all summer. I expect to get lots of good out of it at the
I'm glad it wasn't mine that was torn, responded Mary, following
Joyce's example and folding hers away also, with many loving pats.
Probably there'll be a good many times I can wear it here this summer,
but there'll never be a chance on the desert, and I shall have outgrown
it by next summer, so when I go home I'm going to lay it away in
rose-leaves with these darling little satin slippers, because I've had
the best time of my life in them. In the morning Betty and I are going
to pick all the faded roses to pieces and save the petals. Eugenia
wants to fill a rose-jar with part of them. Betty knows how to make
that potpourri that Lloyd's Grandmother Amanthis always kept in the
rose-jars in the drawing-room. She's copied the receipt for me.
I'm not a bit sleepy, she continued. I've had such a beautiful
time I could lie awake all the rest of the night thinking about it.
Maybe it's because I drank coffee when I'm not used to it that I'm so
wide awake, and I ateoh, how I ate!
One by one the up-stairs lights went out, and a deep silence fell on
the old mansion. The ticking of the great clock on the stairs was the
only sound. The serene peace of the starlit night settled over The
Locusts like brooding wings. The clock struck one, then two, and the
long hand was half-way around its face again before any other sound but
the musical chime broke the stillness. Then a succession of strangled
moans began to penetrate the consciousness of even the soundest
sleeper. Whoever it was that was trying to call for help was evidently
terrified, and the terror of the cries sent a cold chill through every
one who heard them.
It's burglars, shrieked Lloyd, sitting up in bed. Papa Jack!
They're in Joyce's room! They're trying to strangle her! Papa Jack!
Lights glimmered in every room, and doors flew open along the hall.
A dishevelled little group in bath-robes and pajamas rushed out, Mr.
Sherman with a revolver, Miles Bradford with a heavy Indian club, and
Phil with his walking-stick with the electric battery in its head. He
flashed it like a search-light up and down the hall.
At the first moan, Joyce had wakened, and realizing that it came
from Mary's corner of the room, began to grope on the table beside her
bed for matches. Her fingers trembled so she could scarcely muster
strength to scratch the match when she found it. Then she glanced
across the room and began to laugh hysterically.
It's all right! she called. Nobody's killed! Mary's just having a
By this time Mr. Sherman had opened the door, and the blinding glare
of Phil's electric light flashed full in Mary's eyes. At the same
instant Lloyd opened the door on the other side, between the two rooms,
and Betty and Mrs. Sherman followed her in. So when Mary struggled back
to wakefulness far enough to sit up and look around in a dazed way, the
room seemed full of people and lights and voices, and she tried to ask
what had happened. She was still sobbing and trembling.
What's the matter, Mary? called Phil from the hall. Were the
Indians after you again?
Oh, it was awfuller than Indians, wailed Mary, in a shrill,
excited voice. It was the worst nightmare I ever had! I can't shake it
off. I'm scared yet.
Tell us about it, said Mrs. Sherman, soothingly. That's the best
remedy, for the terror always evaporates in the telling, and makes one
wonder how anything foolish could have seemed frightful.
Iwas being married, wailed Mary, to a man I couldn't see. And
just as soon as it was over he turned from the altar and said, 'Now
we'll begin to lead a cat and dog life.' And, oh, it was so awful, she
continued, sobbingly, the terror of the dream still holding her,
hehe barked at me! And he showed his teeth, and I had to spit
and mew and hump my back whether I wanted to or not. Her voice
grew higher and more excited with every sentence. And I could feel my
claws growing longer and longer, and I knew I'd never have fingers
again, only just paws with fur on 'em! Ugh! It made me sick to feel the
fur growing over me that way. I cried and cried. Now as I tell about
it, it begins to sound silly, but it was awful then,so dark, and me
hanging by my claws to the edge of the wood-shed roof, ready to drop
off. I thought Phil was in the house, and I tried to call him, but I
couldn't remember his name. I got mixed up with the Philip on the
shilling, and I kept yelling, Shill! Philling! Shilling! and I couldn't
make him understand. He wouldn't come!
As she picked up the corner of the sheet to wipe her eyes Mrs.
Sherman and the girls burst out laughing, and there was an echoing peal
of amusement in the hall. The affair would not have seemed half so
ridiculous in the daylight, but to be called out of bed at that hour to
listen to such a dream, told only as Mary Ware could tell it, impressed
the entire family as one of the funniest things that had ever happened.
They laughed till the tears came.
I don't see what ever put such a silly thing into my head, said
Mary, finally, beginning to feel mortified as she realized what an
excitement she had created for nothing.
It was Rob's talking about people who live a regular cat and dog
life, said Betty. Don't you remember how long we talked about it
to-day down in the clover-patch?
You mean yesterday, prompted Phil from the hall, for it's nearly
morning now. And, Mary, I'll tell you why you had it. It's a warning! A
solemn warning! It means that you must never, never marry.
That's what I thought, too, quavered Mary, so seriously that they
all laughed again.
I hope everybody will excuse me for waking them up, called Mary,
as they began to disperse to their rooms. Oh, dear! she added to
Joyce, as she lay back once more on her pillow. Why is it that I am
always doing such mortifying things! I am so ashamed of myself.
The lights went out again, and after a few final giggles from Lloyd
and Betty, silence settled once more over the house. But the terror of
the nightmare had taken such hold upon Mary that she could not close
Joyce, she whispered, do you mind if I come over into your bed?
I'm nearly paralyzed, I'm so scared again.
Slipping across the floor as soon as Joyce had given a sleepy
consent, Mary crept in beside her sister in the narrow bed, and lay so
still she scarcely breathed, for fear of disturbing her. Presently she
reached out and gently clasped the end of Joyce's long plait of hair.
It was comforting to be so near her. But even that failed to convince
her entirely that the dream was a thing of imagination. It seemed so
real, that several times before she fell asleep she laid her hands
against her face to make sure that her fingers had not developed claws,
and that no fur had started to grow on them.
The dreams told around the breakfast-table next morning seemed tame
in comparison to Mary's recital the night before. Rob had had none at
all, which was interpreted to mean that he would live and die an old
bachelor. Miles Bradford had a dim recollection of being in an
automobile with a girl who seemed to be a sort of a human kaleidoscope,
for her face changed as the dream progressed, until she had looked like
every woman he ever knew. They could think of no interpretation for
that dream. Lloyd's was fully as indefinite.
I thought I was making a cake, she said, and there was a big bowl
of eggs on the table. But every time I started to break one Mom Beck
would say, 'Don't do that, honey. Don't you see it is somebody's haid?'
And suah enough, every egg I took up had somebody's face on it, like
those painted Eastah eggs; Rob's, and Phil's, and Malcolm's, and Doctah
Bradford's, and evah so many I'd nevah seen befoah.
A very appropriate dream for a Queen of Hearts, said Phil, and
anybody can see it's only a repetition of Mammy Easter's fortune, the
'row of lovahs in the teacup.' Tell us which one you are going to
It's Joyce's turn, was the only answer Lloyd would make.
And my dream was positively brilliant, replied Joyce. I thought
we were all at The Beeches, and Allison, and Kitty, and all of us were
making Limericks. Kitty began:
'There was a lieutenant named Logan,
Who found one day a small brogan.'
Then she stuck, and couldn't get any farther, and Allison had to be
smart and pun on my name. She made up a line:
'So what will Joyce Ware if she meets a great bear?'
Nobody could get the last rhyme for awhile, but after floundering
around a few minutes I had a sudden inspiration and sprang up and
struck an attitude as if I were on the stage, and solemnly thundered
'And how can he shoot him with no gun?'
In my dream it seemed the most thrilling thingI was the heroine
of the hour, and Lieutenant Logan took me aside and told me that the
question which I had embodied in that last line was the question of the
ages. It had staggered the philosophers and scientists of all times.
Nobody could answer that question'how can he shoot him with no gun,'
and he was a better and a happier man, to think that I had rhymed that
ringing query with the proud name of Logan. It's the silliest dream I
ever had, but you can't imagine how real it seemed at the time. I was
so stuck up over his compliments that I began flouncing around with my
head held high, like the picture of 'Oh, fie! you haughty Jane.'
Oh, Joyce, what a dream to dream on wedding-cake! exclaimed Mary,
with a long indrawn breath. There was no mistaking her interpretation
of it. Everybody laughed, and Joyce hastened to explain, It isn't
worth anything, Mary. It'll never come true, for just before I came
down-stairs to breakfast I discovered my little box of cake lying on
the table under a pile of ribbons. It had been there all night. I had
forgotten to put it under my pillow. And, she added, cutting short
Mary's exclamation of disappointment, your box lay beside it.
We both were so busy putting away our dresses, and talking over the
wedding that we forgot the most important thing of all.
Well, I'm certainly glad that mine wasn't under my head when I had
that dreadful nightmare! exclaimed Mary, in such a relieved tone that
every one laughed again. I couldn't help taking it as a warning.
Joyce and I must have changed places in our sleep, said Betty,
when her turn came. She was making verses, and I was trying to draw.
But I did my drawing with a thimble. I thought some one said, 'Betty
always likes to put her finger in everybody's pie, and now she has a
fate thimble to wear on it, she'll mix up things worse than ever.' And
I said, 'No, I'll be very conservative, and only make a diagram of the
way the animals should go into the ark, and then let them do as they
please about following my diagram.' So I began to draw with the thimble
on my finger, but instead of animals going into the ark they were
people going over Tanglewood stile into the churchyard, and then into
the churcha great procession of people in the funniest combinations.
There was old Doctor Shelby and the minister's great-aunt, Allison and
Lieutenant Stanley, Kitty and Doctor Bradford, Lloyd and Rob, and
dozens and dozens besides.
Lloyd and Rob, echoed the Little Colonel, her face dimpling.
Think of that, Bobby! You nevah in yoah wildest dreams thought of that
combination, now did you?
No, I never did, confessed Rob, with an amused smile. Betty has
just put it into my head. She is like the old woman who told her
children not to put beans in their ears while she was gone. They never
would have dreamed of doing such a thing if she hadn't suggested it,
but, of course, they wanted to see how it would feel, and immediately
proceeded to fill their ears with beans as soon as her back was
You can profit by their example, laughed Lloyd. They found that
it hurt. It would have been bettah if they had paid no attention to her
Moral, added Rob, don't do it. Betty, don't you dare put any more
dangerous notions in my head.
Phil's turn came next. My dream is soon told, he said. I had been
sleeping like the deada perfectly dreamless sleeptill Mary woke us
up with her cat-fight. That aroused me so thoroughly that I didn't go
to sleep again for more than an hour. Then when I did drop off at
nearly morning, I dreamed that there was a spider on my head, and I
gave it a tremendous whack to kill it. It was no dream whack, I can
tell you, but a real live double-fisted one, that made me see stars. It
actually made a dent in my cranium and got me so wide awake that I
couldn't drop off again. I got up and sat by the window till there were
faint streaks of light in the sky. I did the rest of my dreaming with
my eyes open, so I don't have to tell what it was about.
I can guess, thought Mary, intercepting the swift glance he stole
across the table at something blue. This time it was the ribbon that
tied Lloyd's hair, a big bow of turquoise taffeta, knotted becomingly
at the back of her neck. Lloyd, unconscious of the glance, had turned
to speak to Miles Bradford, to answer his question about Sylvia Gibbs's
Yes, it really is to take place to-night in the colohed church.
M'haley was heah befoah we were awake, to get the dress and to repeat
the invitation for the whole family to attend. There are evah so many
white folks invited, M'haley says. All the Waltons and MacIntyres, of
co'se, because Miss Allison is their patron saint, and they swear by
her, and all the families for whom Sylvia has washed.
It is extremely fortunate for those of us who are going away so
soon that she set the date as early as to-night, said Doctor Bradford.
Twenty-four hours later would have cut us out.
Phil interrupted him. Don't bring up such disagreeable topics at
the table, Bradford. It takes my appetite to think that we have only
one more day in the Valleythat it has come down to a matter of a few
hours before we must begin our farewells.
Speaking of farewells, said Rob, who-all's coming down to the
station with me to wave good-by to Miss Bonham? She goes back to
Lexington this morning.
We'll all go, answered Lloyd, promptly. Mothah will be glad to
get us out of the way while the servants give the place a grand 'aftah
the ball' cleaning, and Joyce wants to see the girls once moah befoah
she begins packing, to arrange several things about their journey.
How does it happen that Logan and Stanley are not going with Miss
Bonham? asked Rob. Isn't their time up, too, or can't they tear
I thought you knew, answered Joyce. Miss Allison arranged it all
last night. You know she goes up to Prout's Neck, in Maine, for awhile
every summer, and this year Allison and Kitty are going with her. She
has offered to take me under her wing all the way, and has arranged her
route to go right past the place where the summer art school is, on
Cape Cod coast. Lieutenant Logan and Lieutenant Stanley are staying
over a day longer than they had intended, in order to go part of the
way with us, and Phil and Doctor Bradford are leaving a day earlier to
take advantage of such good company all the way home. Won't it be
jolly,eight of us! Kitty calls it a regular house-party on wheels.
I certainly envy you, answered Rob. Miss Allison is the best
chaperone that can be imagined, just like a girl herself; and Allison
and Kitty are as good as a circus any day. I'll wager it didn't take
much persuading to make Stanley stay over. He hasn't eyes for anything
or anybody but Allison.
He had eyes for Bernice Howe the night of Katie Mallard's
musicale, said Betty. He scarcely left her.
Do you know why? asked Rob in an aside. They were rising from the
table now, strolling out to the chairs and hammocks on the shady porch.
He spoke in a low tone as he walked along beside her.
It is very ungallant for me to say such a thing, but between you
and me and the gate-post, Betty, he was roped into being so attentive.
Bernice Howe beats any girl I ever saw for making dates with fellows,
and handling her cards so as to make it seem she is immensely popular.
It is an old trick of hers, and that night it was very apparent what
she was trying to do. Alex Shelby was there, you remember, and when she
saw him talking to Lloyd every chance he got, she didn't want it to
appear that she was being neglected by the man who had brought her, and
with a little skilful manoeuvring she managed to bag the lieutenant's
attention. I've been wanting to ask you for some time, why is it that
she seems so down on the Little Colonel?
She isn't! declared Betty, much surprised. You must be letting
your imagination run away with you, Rob. There isn't a girl in the
Valley friendlier and sweeter to Lloyd than Bernice Howe. You watch
them next time they are together, and see. They've been good friends
Then all I can say is that some girls have a queer idea of
friendship. It's downright catty the way they purr and rub
around to your face, and then show their spiteful little claws when
your back is turned. That's what I've noticed Bernice doing lately. She
calls her all the sugary names in the dictionary when she's with her,
but when her back is turnedwell, it's just a shrug of the shoulders
or a lift of the eyebrows or a little twist of the mouth maybe, but
they insinuate volumes. What makes girls do that way, Betty? Boys
don't. If they have any grievance they fight it out and then let each
I'm sure I don't know why, answered Betty. I'll be honest with
you and confess that you are right. Half the girls at school were that
way. They might be fair and high-minded about everything else, but when
it came to that one thing they werewell, as you say, regular cats.
They didn't have the faintest conception of what a David and Jonathan
friendship could be like. Even the ordinary kind didn't seem to bind
them in any way, or impose any obligation on them when their own
interests were concerned.
Deliver me from such friends! ejaculated Rob. I'd rather have a
sworn enemy. He wouldn't do me half the harm. Then after a pause, I
suppose, if you haven't noticed it, then Lloyd hasn't either, that
Bernice is bitterly jealous of her.
No, I am sure she has not.
Then I wish you'd drop her a hint. I couldn't mention the subject
to her, because it is an old fight of ours. You know how we've
squabbled for hours over itthe difference between the codes of honor
in a girl's friendships and boys'. No matter how carefully I made the
distinction that I meant the average girl, and not all of them, she
always flared into a temper, and in order to be loyal to her entire
sex, took up arms against me in a regular pitched battle. She's ordered
me off the place more than once, and yet in her soul I believe she
agrees with me.
But, Rob, if that is a pet theory of yours that you go around
applying in a wholesale way, isn't it barely possible that you've made
a mistake this time and imagined that Bernice is two-faced in her
Rob shook his head. She'll be at the station this morning. You can
see for yourself, if you keep your eyes open.
Now, to be explicit, just what is it I shall see? retorted Betty.
But Phil interrupted their tête-à-tête at that point, and when they
started to the station an hour later, her question was still
unanswered. Bernice Howe was there, as Rob had predicted, and Katie
Mallard and several other of the Valley girls who had enjoyed the
hospitality of The Beeches during Miss Bonham's visit.
It looks quite like a garden-party, said Miles Bradford to Miss
Allison, watching the pretty girls, in their light summer costumes,
flutter around the waiting-room. I don't know whether to compare them
to a flock of butterflies or a bouquet of sweet peas. I am glad we are
going to take some of them with us to-morrow, and wish
Betty, who had turned to listen, because his smiling glance seemed
to include her in the conversation, failed to hear what it was he
wished. Bernice Howe, who was standing with her back to her, took
occasion just then to draw Miss Bonham aside, and her voice, although
pitched in a low key, was unusually penetrating. At the same moment the
entire party shifted positions to make room for some new arrivals in
the waiting-room, and Betty was jostled so that she was obliged to
dodge a corpulent woman with a carpet-bag and a lunch-basket. When she
recovered her balance she found herself out of range of Doctor
Bradford's voice, but almost touching elbows with Bernice. She was
We're going to miss you dreadfully, Miss Bonham. I always do miss
Allison's guests and Kitty's nearly as much as my own. They're so dear
about sharing them with me. Now some girls are so stingy, they fairly
keep their visitors under lock and keythat is, if they are men. They
wouldn't dream of taking them to call on another girl. Afraid to, I
suppose. Afraid of losing their own laurels. There's one of the kind.
Betty saw her nod with a meaning smile toward Lloyd, and caught
another sentence or two in which the words, Queen of Hearts, tied to
her apron-string, gave her the drift of the remarks.
She's plainly trying to give Miss Bonham an unpleasant impression
of Lloyd to carry away with her, thought Betty. She's hurt because
she wasn't invited to the coon hunt, and the other little affairs we
had for the bridal party. She never took it into consideration that
what would have been perfectly convenient at another time was out of
the question when the house was so full of guests and all torn up with
preparations for the wedding. Lloyd had all she could do then to think
of the guests in the house, without considering those outside. It
certainly is a flimsy sort of a friendship that can't overlook a
seeming neglect like that or make due allowances. Besides, if she feels
slighted, why doesn't she keep it to herself, and not try to get even
by giving Miss Bonham a false impression of her? Rob is right. Boys
don't stoop to such mean little things. In the first place they don't
magnify trifles into big grievances, and go around feeling slighted and
hurt over nothing.
Here comes the train! called Ranald, seizing Miss Bonham's
suit-case and leading the way to the door. There was a moment of
hurried good-byes, a fluttering of handkerchiefs, a waving of hats.
Then the train passed on, leaving the group gazing after it.
What are we going to do now? asked Rob. Will you all come over to
the store and have some peanuts?
No, you're all coming up home with me, said Lloyd, Miss Allison
and everybody. I saw Alec carrying some watahmelons into the ice-house,
and they'll be good and cold by this time. We'll cut them out on the
Ranald excused himself, saying he had promised to take his Aunt
Allison to the dressmaker's in the pony-cart, but Allison and Kitty
promptly accepted the invitation for themselves and the two
lieutenants. Katie Mallard walked on with one and Joyce the other, Rob
and Betty bringing up the rear. Lloyd still waited.
Come on, Bernice, she urged. The watahmelons are mighty fine, and
we'd love to have you come.
No, dearie, was the reply. I've a lot of things to do to-day, but
I'll see you to-night at the darky wedding.
I'm mighty sorry you can't come, called Lloyd, then hurried on to
catch up with the others. As she joined Rob and Betty she felt
intuitively they had changed their subject of conversation at her
approach. She had caught the question, Then are you going to warn
her? and Betty's reply, What's the use? It would only make her feel
What's that about warnings? asked Lloyd, catching Betty's hand and
swinging it as she walked along beside her.
Something that Betty doesn't believe in, began Rob, just as I
don't believe in dreams. Why wouldn't Bernice come with you?
She said she had so much to do. Mistah Shelby is coming out latah.
He is going to take her to Sylvia's wedding to-night.
Speaking of warnings, burst out Rob, impulsively, I'm going to
give you one, Lloyd, whether you like it or not. Don't be too smiling
and gracious when you meet Alex Shelby, or Bernice will be assaulting
you for poaching on her preserves. You must keep out of her bailiwick
if you want to keep her friendship. It's the kind that won't stand much
of a strain.
What do you mean, Rob Moore? demanded Lloyd, hesitating between a
laugh and the old feeling of anger that always flashed up when he
referred to girls' friendships in that superior tone.
I am devoted to Bernice and she is to me. If you are trying to pick
a quarrel you may as well go along home, for I'm positively not going
to fuss with you about anything whatsoevah until aftah all the company
No'm! I don't want to quarrel, responded Rob, with exaggerated
meekness. I was merely giving you a warningsort of playing Banshee
for your benefit, but you don't seem to appreciate my efforts. Let's
talk about watermelons.
CHAPTER XIV. A SECOND MAID OF HONOR
It was a new experience to Miles Bradford, this trudging through the
dense beech woods on a summer night behind a row of flickering
lanterns. The path they followed was a wide one, and well worn by the
feet of churchgoing negroes, for it was the shortest cut between the
Valley and Stumptown, a little group of cabins clustered around the
Ranald led the way with a brakeman's lantern, and Rob occasionally
illuminated the scene by electric flashes from the head of the
walking-stick he was flourishing. A varied string of fiery dragons,
winged fish, and heathen hobgoblins danced along beside them, for Kitty
was putting candles in a row of Japanese lanterns when they arrived at
The Beeches, and nearly everybody in the party accepted her invitation
to take one. Mary chose a sea-serpent with a grinning face, and Elise a
pretty oval one with birds and cherry blossoms on each side. Lloyd did
not take any. Her hands were already filled with a huge bouquet of red
Sylvia asked me to carry these, she explained to Miles Bradford,
and to weah a white dress and this hat with the red roses on it.
Because I was maid of honah at Eugenia's wedding she seems to think I
can reflect some sawt of glory on hers. She said she wanted all her
young ladies to weah white.
Who are her young ladies, and why? he asked.
Allison, Kitty, Betty, and I. You see, Sylvia's grandfathah was the
MacIntyre's coachman befoah the wah, and her mothah is our old Aunt
Cindy. She considahs that she belongs to us and we belong to her.
Farther down the line they could hear Katie Mallard's cheerful
giggle as she tripped over a beech root, then Bernice Howe's laugh as
they all went slipping and sliding down a steep place in the path which
led to the hollow crossed by the dry creek bed.
Sing! called Miss Allison, who was chaperoning the party, and
picking her way behind the others with Mary and Elise each clinging to
an arm. There's such a pretty echo down in this hollow. Listen! The
tune that she started was one of the popular songs of the summer. It
was caught up by every one in the procession except Miles Bradford, and
he kept silent in order to enjoy this novel pilgrimage to the fullest.
The dark woods rang with the sweet chorus, and the long line of
fantastic lanterns sent weird shadows bobbing up in their wake.
The bare, unpainted little church had just been lighted when they
arrived, and a strong smell of coal-oil and smoking wicks greeted them.
It's too bad we are so early, said Miss Allison. Sylvia would
have preferred us to come in with grand effect at the last moment, but
I'm too tired to wait for the bridal party. Let's put our lanterns in
the vestibule and go in and find seats.
A pompous mulatto man in white cotton gloves and with a cluster of
tuberoses in his buttonhole ushered the party down the aisle to the
seats of honor reserved for the white folks. There were seventeen in
the party, too many to sit comfortably on the two benches, so a chair
was brought for Miss Allison. After the grown people were seated, each
of the little girls managed to squeeze in at the end of the seats
nearest the aisle. Lloyd found herself seated between Mary Ware and
Alex Shelby. Leaning forward to look along the bench, she found that
Bernice came next in order to Alex, then Lieutenant Stanley and
Allison, Doctor Bradford and Betty.
She had merely said good evening to Alex Shelby when they met at The
Beeches, and, although positions in the procession through the woods
had shifted constantly, it had happened she had not been near enough to
talk with him. Now, with only Mary Ware to claim her attention, they
naturally fell into conversation. It was only in whispers, for the
audience was assembling rapidly, and the usher had opened the organ in
token that the service was about to begin.
There had been an attempt to decorate for the occasion. Friends of
the bride had resurrected both the Christmas and Easter mottoes, so
that the wall behind the pulpit bore in tall, white cotton letters, on
a background of cedar, the words, Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men.
Fresh cedar had been substituted for the yellowed branches left over
from the previous Christmas, and fresh diamond dust sprinkled over the
grimy cotton to give it its pristine sparkle of Yule-tide frost.
An appropriate motto for a wedding, whispered Alex Shelby to
Lloyd. Only his eyes laughed. His face was as solemn as the usher's own
as he turned to gaze at the word Welcome over the door, and the
fringe of paper Easter lilies draping the top of each uncurtained
Bernice claimed his attention several moments, then he turned to
Lloyd again. Do tell me, Miss Lloyd, he begged, what is that
wonderfully and fearfully made thing in the front of the pulpit? Is it
a doorway or a giant picture-frame? And what part is it to play in the
Lloyd's face dimpled, and an amused smile flashed up at him from the
corner of her eye. Then she lowered her long lashes demurely, and
seemed to be engrossed with her bunch of roses as she answered him.
The coquettish thing! thought Bernice, seeing the glance but not
hearing the whisper which followed it.
Sh! Don't make me laugh! Everybody is watching to see if the white
folks are making fun of things, and I'm actually afraid to look up
again for feah I'll giggle. Maybe it's a copy of Eugenia's gate of
roses. It looks like the frame of a doahway. Just the casing, you know.
Maybe it's a doah of mawning-glories they're going to pass through. I
recognize those flowahs twined all around it. We made them a long time
ago for the lamp-shades when the King's Daughtahs had an oystah suppah
at the manse. I made all those purple mawning-glories and Betty made
the yellow ones.
Glancing over his shoulder, he happened to spy a familiar face
behind him, the kindly old black face of his uncle's cook.
Howdy, Aunt Jane! he exclaimed, with a friendly smile. Then, in a
stage whisper, he asked, Aunt Jane, can you tell me? Are those
The old woman wrinkled her face into a knot as she peered in the
direction of the pulpit, toward which he nodded. One of the words in
his question puzzled her. It was a stranger to her. But, after an
instant, the wrinkles cleared and her face broadened into a smile.
No'm, Mistah Alex. Them ain't artificial flowahs, honey. They's
made of papah.
Again an amused smile stole out of the corner of Lloyd's eye to
answer the gleam of mischief in Alex's. Not for anything would she have
Aunt Jane think that she was laughing, so her eyes were bent demurely
on her roses again. Again Bernice, leaning forward, intercepted the
glance and misinterpreted it. When Alex turned to her to repeat Aunt
Jane's explanation, she barely smiled, then relapsed into sulky
silence. Finding several other attempts at conversation received with
only monosyllables, he concluded that she was not in a mood to talk,
and naturally turned again to Lloyd.
He had not been out in the Valley for years, he told her. The last
visit he had made to his uncle, old Doctor Shelby, had been the summer
that the Shermans had come back to Lloydsboro from New York. He
remembered passing her one day on the road. She had squeezed through a
hole in the fence between two broken palings, and was trying to pull a
little dog through after her; a shaggy Scotch and Skye terrier.
That was my deah old Fritz, she answered, and I was probably
running away. I did it every chance I had.
The next time I saw you, he continued, I was driving along with
uncle. I was standing between his knees, I remember, proud as a peacock
because he was letting me hold the reins. I was just out of kilts, so
it was a great honor to be trusted with the lines. When we passed your
grandfather on his horse, he had you up in front of his saddle, and
uncle called out, 'Good morning, little Colonel.'
These reminiscences pleased Lloyd. It flattered her to think he
remembered these early meetings so many years ago. His relationship to
the old doctor whom she loved as her own uncle put him on a very
The church filled rapidly, and by the time the seats were crowded
and people were jostling each other to find standing-room around the
door, a young colored girl in a ruffled yellow dress seated herself at
the organ. First she pulled out all the stops, then adjusting a pair of
eyeglasses, opened a book of organ exercises. Then she felt her sash in
the back, settled her side-combs, and raising herself from the organ
bench, smoothed her skirts into proper folds under her. After these
preliminaries she leaned back, raised both hands with a grand flourish,
and swooped down on the keys.
Bang on the low notes and twiddle on the high! laughed Lloyd,
under her breath. Listen, Mistah Shelby. She's playing the same chord
in the bass straight through.
Is that what makes the fearsome discord? he asked. It makes me
think of an epitaph I once saw carved on a pretentious headstone in a
little village cemetery:
'Here lies one
Who never let her left hand know
What her right hand done.'
Neithah of Laura's hands will evah find out what the othah one is
trying to do, whispered Lloyd. She is supposed to be playing the
wedding-march. Hark! There is a familiah note: 'Heah comes the bride.' They must be at the doah. Well, I wish you'd look!
Every head was turned, for the bridal party was advancing. Slowly
down the aisle came M'haley, in the pink chiffon gown from Paris. Mom
Beck's quick needle had altered it considerably, for in some
unaccountable way the slim bodice fashioned to fit Lloyd's slender
figure, now fastened around M'haley's waist without undue strain. The
skirt, though turned hine side befo', fell as skirts should fall, for
the fulness had been shifted to the proper places, and the broad
sky-blue sash covered the mended holes in the breadth Lloyd had torn on
With her head high, and her armful of flowers held in precisely the
same position in which Lloyd had carried hers, she swept down the aisle
in such exact imitation of the other maid of honor, that every one who
had seen the first wedding was convulsed, and Kitty's whisper about
Lloyd's understudy was passed with stifled giggles from one to
another down both benches.
Ca'line Allison came next, in a white dress and the white slippers
that had been thrown after Eugenia's carriage with the rice.
She was flower girl, and carried an elaborate fancy basket filled
with field daisies. A wreath of the same snowy blossoms crowned her
woolly pate, and an expression of anxiety drew her little black face
into a distressed pucker. She had been told that at every third step
she must throw a handful of daisies in the path of the on-coming bride,
and her effort to keep count and at the same time keep her balance on
the high French heels was almost too much for her.
During her many rehearsals M'haley had counted her steps for her:
One, two, threethrow! One, two, threethrow! She had
gone through her part every time without mistake, for her feet were
untrammelled then, and her flat yellow soles struck the ground in
safety and with rhythmic precision. She could give her entire mind to
the graceful scattering of her posies. But now she walked as if she
were mounted on stilts, and her way led over thin ice. The knowledge
that she must keep her own count was disconcerting, for she could not
count in her haid, as M'haley had ordered her to do. She was obliged
to whisper the numbers loud enough for herself to hear. So with her
forehead drawn into an anxious pucker, and her lips moving, she started
down the aisle whispering, One, two, threethrow! One, two,
threethrow! Each time, as she reached the word throw and
grasped a handful of daisies to suit the action to the word, she tilted
forward on the high French heels and almost came to a full stop in her
effort to regain her balance.
But Ca'line Allison was a plucky little body, accustomed to walking
the tops of fences and cooning out on the limbs of high trees, so she
reached the altar without mishap. Then with a loud sigh of relief she
settled her crown of daisies and rolled her big eyes around to watch
the majestic approach of her mother.
No matron of the four hundred could have swept down the aisle with a
grander air than Sylvia. The handsome lavender satin skirt she wore had
once trailed its way through one of the most elegant receptions ever
given in New York, and afterward had graced several Louisville
functions. Its owner had given Sylvia the bodice also, but no amount of
stretching could make it meet around Sylvia's ample figure, so the
proceeds of the fish-fry and ice-cream festival had been invested in a
ready-made silk waist. It was not the same shade of lavender as the
skirt, but a gorgeous silver tissue belt blinded one to such
differences. The long kid gloves, almost dazzling in their whiteness,
were new, the fan borrowed, and the touch of something blue was
furnished by a broad back-comb of blue enamel surmounted by
rhinestones. One white glove rested airily on Mistah Robinson's
coat-sleeve, the other carried a half-furled fan edged with white
M'haley and Ca'line Allison waited at the altar, but the bridal
couple, turning to the right, circled around it and mounted the steps
leading up into the pulpit. The mystery of the wooden frame was
explained now. It was not a symbolical doorway through which they were
to pass, but a huge flower-draped picture-frame in which they took
their places, facing the congregation like two life-sized portraits in
[Illustration: 'ONE, TWO, THREETHROW!']
The minister, standing meekly below them between M'haley and Ca'line
Allison, with his back to the congregation, prefaced the ceremony by a
long and flowery discourse on matrimony, so that there was ample time
for the spectators to feast their eyes on every detail of the picture
before them. Except for a slight stir now and then as some neck was
craned in a different position for a better view, the silence was
profound, until the benediction was pronounced.
At the signal of a blast from the wheezy organ the couple, slowly
turning, descended the steps. Ca'line Allison, in her haste to reach
the aisle ahead of them to begin her posy-throwing again, nearly tilted
forward on her nose. But with a little crow-hop she righted herself and
began her spasmodic whispering, One, two, threethrow!
After the couple came M'haley and the pompous young minister. Then
Lloyd, who had caught the bride's smile of gratification as her eyes
rested on the white dress and red roses of this guest of honor, and who
read the appealing glance that seemed to beckon her, rose and stepped
into line. The rest of Sylvia's young ladies immediately followed, and
the congregation waited until all the rest of the white folks passed
out, before crowding to the carriage to congratulate Brothah and
Lloyd went on to the carriage to speak to Sylvia and give her the
armful of roses to decorate the wedding-feast, before joining the
others, who were lighting the lanterns for their homeward walk.
You'd better come in the light of ours, Miss Lloyd, said Alex
Shelby, coming up to her with Bernice beside him. We might as well
take the lead. Ranald seems to be having trouble with his wick.
Lloyd hesitated, remembering Rob's warning, but glancing behind her,
she saw Phil hurrying toward her, and abruptly decided to accept his
invitation. She knew that Phil was trying to arrange to walk home with
her. This would be his last opportunity to walk with her, and while she
knew that he would respect her promise to her father enough not to
infringe on it by talking openly of his regard for her, his constant
hints and allusions would keep her uncomfortable. He seemed to take it
for granted that she was bound to come around to this point of view
some day, and regard him as the one the stars had destined for her.
So it was merely to escape a tête-à-tête with Phil which made her
walk along beside Alex, and put out a hand to draw Mary Ware to the
other side. She linked arms with her as they pushed through the crowd,
and started down the road four abreast. But the fences were lined with
buggies and wagons, and the scraping wheels and backing horses kept
them constantly separating and dodging back and forth across the road,
more often singly than in pairs.
By the time they reached the gap in the fence where the path through
the woods began, the others had caught up with them, and they all
scrambled through in a bunch. Lloyd looked around, and, with a
sensation of relief, saw that Kitty had Phil safely in tow. She would
be free as far as The Beeches, at any rate. At a call from Elise, Mary
ran back to join her. Positions were being constantly shifted on the
homeward way, just as they had been before, and, looking around, Lloyd
decided that she would slip back presently with some of the others, who
would not think that two is company and three a crowd, as Bernice might
be doing. The backward glance nearly caused her a fall, for a big root
in the path made her ankle turn, and Alex Shelby's quick grasp of her
elbow was all that saved her.
It was my fault, Miss Lloyd, he insisted. I should have held the
lantern differently. There, I'll go slightly ahead and light the path
better. Can you see all right, Bernice?
Yes, she answered, shortly, out of humor that he should be as
careful of Lloyd's comfort as her own. She trudged along, taking no
part in the conversation. It was a general one, extending all along the
line, for Rob at the tail and Ranald at the head shouted jokes and
questions back and forth like end-men at a minstrel show. Laughing
allusions to the maid of honor and Ca'line Allison were bandied back
and forth, and when the line grew unusually straggling, Kitty would
bring them into step with her, One, two, threethrow!
Neither Lloyd nor Alex noticed the determined silence in which
Bernice stalked along, and when she presently slipped back with the
excuse that she wanted to speak to Katie, they scarcely missed her.
There was nothing unusual in the action, as all the others were
changing company at intervals. At the entrance-gate to The Beeches she
joined them again, for her nearest road home led through the Walton
place, and they were to part company here with Lloyd and her guests.
For a few minutes there was a babel of good-nights and parting
sallies, in the midst of which Alex Shelby managed to say to Lloyd in a
low tone, Miss Lloyd, I am coming out to the Valley again a week from
to-day. If you haven't any engagement for the afternoon will you go
horseback-riding with me?
The consciousness that Bernice had heard the invitation and was
displeased, confused her so that for a moment she lost her usual ease
of manner. She wanted to go, and there was no reason why she should not
accept, but all she could manage to stammer was an embarrassed, Why,
yesI suppose so. But the next instant recovering herself, she added,
graciously, Yes, Mistah Shelby, I'll be glad to go.
Come on, Lloyd, urged Betty, swinging her hand to pull her into
the group now drawn up on the side of the road ready to start. They had
made their adieux.
All right, she answered, locking arms with Betty. Good night,
Mistah Shelby. Good night, Bernice.
He acknowledged her nod with a courteous lifting of his hat, and
repeated her salutation. But Bernice, standing stiff and angry in the
starlight, turned on her heel without a response.
What on earth do you suppose is the mattah with Bernice? exclaimed
Lloyd, in amazement, as they turned into the white road leading toward
CHAPTER XV. THE END OF THE
With the desire to make this last walk together as pleasant as
possible, Lloyd immediately put Bernice out of her mind as far as she
was able. But she could not rid herself entirely of the recollection
that something disagreeable had happened. The impression bore down on
her like a heavy cloud, and was a damper on her high spirits. Outwardly
she was as gay as ever, and when the walk was over, led the party on a
foraging expedition to the pantry.
Rob and Phil were almost uproarious in their merriment now, and, as
they devoured cold baked ham, pickles, cheese, beaten biscuit, and
cake, they had a fencing-match with carving-knives, and gave a
ridiculous parody of the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet. Mary,
looking on with a sandwich in each hand, almost choked with laughter,
although she, too, was borne down by the same feeling that depressed
Lloyd, of something very disagreeable having happened.
She had been so ruffled in spirit all the way home that she had
lagged behind the others, and it was only when Rob and Phil began their
irresistible foolishness that she had forgotten her grievance long
enough to laugh. No sooner had they all gone up-stairs, and she was
alone with Joyce, than her indignation waxed red-hot again, and she
sputtered out the whole story to her sister.
And, she said, in conclusion, that hateful Bernice Howe said the
meanest things to Katie. Elise and I were walking just behind, and we
couldn't help hearing. She said that Lloyd had deliberately set to work
to flirt with Mr. Shelby, and get him to pay her attention, and that,
if Katie would watch, she'd soon see how it would be. He'd be going to
see Lloyd all the time instead of her.
Sh! warned Joyce. They'll hear you all over the house. Your voice
is getting higher and higher.
Her warning came too late. Already several sentences had penetrated
into the next room, and a quick knock at the door was followed by the
entrance of Lloyd, looking as red and excited as Mary.
Tell me what it was, Mary, she demanded. What made Bernice act
so? I was sure you knew from the way you looked when you joined us.
Mary was almost in tears as she repeated what she had told Joyce,
for she could see that the Little Colonel's temper was rising to white
And Bernice said it wasn't the first time you had treated her so.
She said that Malcolm MacIntyre was so attentive to her last summer
while you were away at the Springs; that he sent her flowers and candy
and took her driving, and was like her very shadow until you came home.
Then he dropped her like a hot potato, and you monopolized him so that
you succeeded in keeping him away from her altogether.
Malcolm! gasped Lloyd. Malcolm was my especial friend long befoah
I evah heard of Bernice Howe! Why, at the very first Valentine pahty I
evah went to, he gave me the little silvah arrow he won in the archery
contest, for me to remembah him by. I've got it on this very minute.
She put her hand up to the little silver pin that fastened the lace
of her surplice collar. Malcolm always has called himself my
devoted knight, and he
She paused. There were some things she could not repeat; that scene
on the churchyard stile the winter day they went for Christmas greens,
when he had begged her for a talisman, and his low-spoken reply, I'll
be whatever you want me to be, Lloyd. There were other times, too, of
which she could not speak. The night of the tableaux was the last one,
when she had strolled down the moonlighted paths with him at The
Beeches, and he had insisted that it was the glad morrow by his
calendar, and time for her Sir Feal to tell her many things, especially
as he was going away for the rest of the summer on a long yachting
trip, and somebody else might tell her the same things in his absence.
So many years she had taken his devotion as a matter of course, that it
provoked her beyond measure to have Bernice insinuate that she had
angled for it.
Lloyd knew girls who did such things; who delighted in proving that
they had a superior power of attraction, and who would not scruple to
use all sorts of mean little underhand ways to lessen a man's
admiration for some other girl, and appropriate it for themselves. She
had even heard some of the girls at school boast of such things.
For pity's sake, Lloyd! one of them had said, don't look at me
that way. 'All's fair in love and war,' and a girl's title to
popularity is based on the number of scalp-locks she takes.
Lloyd had despised her for that speech, and now to have Bernice
openly say that she was capable of such an action was more than she
could endure calmly. She set her teeth together hard, and gripped the
little fan she still happened to be carrying, as if it were some live
thing she was trying to strangle.
And she said, Mary added, slowly, reluctant to add fuel to the
flame, yet unable to withstand the impelling force of Lloyd's eyes,
which demanded the whole truth, she said that she had been sure for
some time that Mr. Shelby was just on the verge of proposing to her,
and that, if you succeeded in playing the same game with him that you
did with Malcolm, she'd get even with you if it took her till her dying
day. Then, right on top of that, you know, she heard him ask if you'd
go horseback riding with him. So that's why she was so angry she
wouldn't bid you good night.
Lloyd's clenched hand tightened its grasp on the fan till the
delicate sticks crunched against each other. She was breathing so hard
that the little arrow on her dress rose and fell rapidly. The silence
was so intense that Mary was frightened. She did not know what kind of
an outburst to expect. All of a sudden, taking the fan in both hands,
Lloyd snapped it in two, and then breaking the pieces into a hundred
splinters, threw them across the room into the open fireplace. She
stood with her back to the girls a moment, then, to Mary's unspeakable
astonishment, forced herself to speak as calmly as if nothing had
happened, asking Joyce some commonplace question about her packing.
There was a book she wanted her to slip into her trunk to read at the
seashore. She was afraid it would be forgotten if left till next day,
so she went to her room to get it.
As the door closed behind her, Mary turned to Joyce in amazement. I
don't see how it was possible for her to get over her temper so
quickly, she exclaimed. The change almost took my breath.
She isn't over it, answered Joyce. She simply got it under
control, and it will smoulder a long time before it's finally burnt
out. She's dreadfully hurt, for she and Bernice have been friends so
long that she is really fond of her. Nothing hurts like being
misunderstood and misconstrued in that way. It is the last thing in the
world that Lloyd would dosuspect a friend of mean motives.
From what I've seen of Bernice, she is an uncomfortable sort of a
friend to have; one of the sensitive, suspicious kind that's always
going around with her feelings stuck out for somebody to tread on.
She's always looking for slights, and when she doesn't get real ones,
she imagines them, which is just as bad.
If Lloyd's anger burned next morning, there was no trace of it
either in face or manner, and she made that last day one long to be
remembered by her departing guests.
How lonesome it's going to be aftah you all leave, she said to
Joyce. The rest of the summah will be a stupid anticlimax. The
house-pahty and the wedding should have come at the last end of
vacation instead of the first, then we would have had something to look
forward to all summah, and could have plunged into school directly
This July and August will be the quietest we have ever known at The
Locusts, chimed in Betty. Allison and Kitty leave to-night with you
all, Malcolm and Keith are already gone, and Rob will be here only a
few days longer. That's the last straw, to have Rob go.
What's that about yours truly? asked Rob, coming out of the house
and beginning to fan himself with his hat as he dropped down on the
I was just saying that we shall miss you so much this summer. That
you're always our stand-by. It's Rob who gets up the rides and picnics,
and comes over and stirs us out of our laziness by making us go fishing
and walking and tennis-playing. I'm afraid we'll simply go into our
shells and stay there after you go.
Ah, ha! You do me proud, he answered, with a mocking sweep of his
hat. 'Tis sweet to be valued at one's true worth. Don't think for a
moment that I would leave you to pine on the stem if I could have my
own way. But I'm my mother's angel baby-boy. She and daddy think that
grandfather's health demands a change of air, and they are loath to
leave me behind. So, unwilling to deprive them of the apple of their
several eyes, I have generously consented to accompany them. But you
needn't pine for company, he added, with a mischievous glance at
Lloyd. Alex Shelby expects to spend most of the summer with the old
doctor, and he'll be a brother to you all, if you'll allow it.
Lloyd made no answer, so he proceeded to make several more teasing
remarks about Alex, not knowing what had taken place before. He even
ventured to repeat the warning about her keeping within her own
bailiwick, as Bernice's friendship was not the kind that could stand
To his surprise Lloyd made no answer, but, setting her lips together
angrily, rose and went into the house, her head high and her cheeks
Whew! he exclaimed, with a soft whistle. What hornet's nest have
I stirred up now?
Joyce and Betty exchanged glances, each waiting for the other to
make the explanation. Then Joyce asked: Didn't you see the way Bernice
snubbed her last night at the gate, when we left The Beeches?
Nary a snub did I see. It must have happened when I was groping
around in the path for something that I had flipped out of my pocket
with my handkerchief. It rang on the ground like a piece of money, and
I feared me I had lost one of me ducats. What did she do?
I can't tell you now, said Joyce, hurriedly, lowering her voice.
Here come Phil and Doctor Bradford.
No matter, he answered, airily. I have no curiosity whatsoever.
It's a trait of character entirely lacking in my make-up. Then he
motioned toward Mary, who was sitting in a hammock, cutting the pages
of a new magazine. Does she know?
Joyce nodded, and feeling that they meant her, Mary looked up
inquiringly. Rob beckoned to her ingratiatingly.
Come into the garden, Maud, he said in a low tone. I would have
speech with thee.
Laughing at his foolishness, but in a flutter of pleasure, Mary
sprang up to follow him to the rustic seat midway down the avenue. As
Joyce's parting glance had not forbidden it, she was soon answering his
questions to the best of her ability.
You see, he explained, it's not out of curiosity that I ask all
this. It's simply as a means of precaution. I can't keep myself out of
hot water unless I know how the land lies.
That last day of the house-party seemed the shortest of all. Betty
and Miles Bradford strolled over to Tanglewood and sat for more than an
hour on the shady stile leading into the churchyard. Lloyd and Phil
went for a last horseback ride, and Mary, watching them canter off
together down the avenue, wondered curiously if he would have anything
more to say about the bit of turquoise and all it stood for.
As she followed Joyce up-stairs to help her pack her trunk, a little
wave of homesickness swept over her. Not that she wanted to go back to
the Wigwam, but to have Joyce go away without her was like parting with
the last anchor which held her to her family. It gave her a lonely
set-adrift feeling to be left behind. She took her sister's parting
injunctions and advice with a meekness that verged so nearly on tears
that Joyce hastened to change the subject.
Think of all the things I'll have to tell you about when I get back
from the seashore. Only two short months,just eight little
weeks,but I'm going to crowd them so full of glorious hard work that
I'll accomplish wonders. There'll be no end of good times, too:
clambakes and fishing and bathing to fill up the chinks in the days,
and the story-telling in the evenings around the driftwood fires. It
will be over before we know it, and I'll be back here ready to take you
home before you have time to really miss me.
Cheered by Joyce's view of the subject, Mary turned her back a
moment till she had winked away the tears that had begun to gather,
then straightway started out to make the most of the eight little weeks
left to her at The Locusts. When she went with the others to the
station to give the house-party on wheels a grand send-off, as Kitty
expressed it, her bright little face was so happy that it brought a
smiling response from every departing guest.
Good-by, Miss Mary, Miles Bradford said, cordially, coming up to
her in the waiting-room. The Pilgrim Father has much to thank you for.
You have helped him to store up some very pleasant memories of this
Good-by, little Vicar, said Phil next, seizing both her hands.
Think of the Best Man whenever you look at the Philip on your
shilling, and think of his parting words. Do profit by that
dreadful dream, and don't take any rash steps that would lead to
another cat-fight. We'll take care of your sister, he added, as Mary
turned to Joyce and threw her arms around her neck for one last kiss.
Lieutenant Logan will watch out for her as far as he goes, and I'll
keep my eagle eye on her the rest of the way.
Who'll keep an eagle eye on you? retorted Mary, following them out
to the platform.
He made a laughing grimace over his shoulder, as he turned to help
Joyce up the steps.
What a good time they are going to have together, thought Mary,
watching the group as they stood on the rear platform of the last car,
waving good-by. And what a different parting this is from that other
one on the desert when he went away with such a sorry look in his
eyes. He was facing the future eagerly this time, strong in hope and
purpose, and she answered the last wave of his hat with a flap of her
handkerchief, which seemed to carry with it all the loyal good wishes
that shone in her beaming little face.
Miles Bradford had made a hurried trip to the city that morning, to
attend to a matter of business, going in on the ten o'clock trolley and
coming back in time for lunch. On his return, he laid a package in
Mary's lap, and handed one to each of the other girls. Joyce's was a
pile of new July magazines to read on the train. Lloyd's was a copy of
Abdallah, or the Four-leaved Shamrock, which had led to so much
discussion the morning of the wedding, when they hunted clovers for the
Mary's eyes grew round with surprise and delight when she opened her
package and found inside the white paper and gilt cord a big box of
Huyler's candies. With the compliments of the Pilgrim Father, was
pencilled on the engraved card stuck under the string.
There was layer after layer of chocolate creams and caramels,
marshmallows and candied violets, burnt almonds and nougat, besides a
score of other thingsspecimens of the confectioner's art for which
she knew no name. She had seen the outside of such boxes in the
show-cases in Phoenix, but never before had such a tempting display met
her eyes as these delicious sweets in their trimmings of lace paper and
tinfoil and ribbons, crowned by a pair of little gilt tongs, with which
one might make dainty choice.
Betty's gift was not so sightly. It looked like an old dried sponge,
for it was only a ball of matted roots. But she held it up with an
exclamation of pleasure. Oh, it is one of those fern-balls we were
talking about this morning! I've been wanting one all year. You see,
she explained to Mary, when she had finished thanking Doctor Bradford,
you hang it up in a window and keep it wet, and it turns into a
perfect little hanging garden, so fine and green and feathery it's fit
for fairy-land. It will grow as long as you remember to water it. Gay
Melville had one last year in her window at school, and I envied her
every time I saw it.
Now what does that make me think of? said Mary, screwing up her
forehead into a network of wrinkles and squinting her eyes half-shut in
her effort to remember. Oh, I know! It's something I read in a paper a
few days ago. It's in China or Japan, I don't know which, but in one of
those heathen countries. When a young man wants to find out if a girl
really likes him, he goes to her house early in the dawn, and leaves a
growing plant on the balcony for her. If she spurns him, she tears it
up by the roots and throws it out in the street to wither, and I
believe breaks the pot; but if she likes him, she takes it in and keeps
it green, to show that he lives in her memory.
A shout of laughter from Rob and Phil had made her turn to stare at
them uneasily. What are you laughing at? she asked, innocently. I
did read it. I can show you the paper it is in, and I thought it
was a right bright way for a person to find out what he wanted to know
It was very evident that she hadn't the remotest idea she had said
anything personal, and her ignorance of the cause of their mirth made
her speech all the funnier. Doctor Bradford laughed, too, as he said
with a formal bow: I hope you will take the suggestion to heart, Miss
Betty, and let my memory and the fern-ball grow green together.
Then, Mary, realizing what she had said when it was too late to
unsay it, clapped her hands over her mouth and groaned. Apologies could
only make the matter worse, so she tried to hide her confusion by
passing around the box of candy. It passed around so many times during
the course of the afternoon that the box was almost empty by
train-time. Mary returned to it with unabated interest after the guests
were gone. It was the first box of candy she had ever owned, and she
wondered if she would ever have another.
I believe I'll save it for a keepsake box, she thought, gathering
it up in her arms to follow Betty up-stairs. Rob had come back with
them from the station, and, taking the story of Abdallah, he and
Lloyd had gone to the library to read it together.
Betty was going to her room to put the fern-ball to soak, according
to directions. Feeling just a trifle lonely since her parting from
Joyce, Mary wandered off to the room that seemed to miss her, too, now
that all her personal belongings had disappeared from wardrobe and
dressing-table. But she was soon absorbed in arranging her keepsake
box. Emptying the few remaining scraps of candy into a paper bag, she
smoothed out the lace paper, the ribbons, and the tinfoil to save to
show to Hazel Lee. These she put in her trunk, but the gilt tongs
seemed worthy of a place in the box. The Pilgrim Father's card was
dropped in beside it, then the heart-shaped dream-cake box, holding one
of the white icing roses that had ornamented the bride's cake. Last and
most precious was the silver shilling, which she polished carefully
with her chamois-skin pen-wiper before putting away.
I don't need to look at you to make me think of the Best
Man, she said to the Philip on the coin. There's more things than you
that remind me of him. I certainly would like to know what sort of a
fate you are going to bring me. There's about as much chance of my
being an heiress as there is of that nightmare coming true.
CHAPTER XVI. THE GOLDEN LEAF OF
It was a compliment that changed the entire course of Mary's summer;
a compliment which Betty gleefully repeated to her, imitating the old
Colonel's very tone, as he gesticulated emphatically to Mr. Sherman:
I tell you, Jack, she's the most remarkable child of her age I ever
met. It is wonderful the information she has managed to pick up in that
God-forsaken desert country. I say to you, sir, she can tell you as
much now about scientific bee-culture as any naturalist you ever knew.
Actually quoted Huber to me the other day, and Maeterlinck's 'Life of
the Bee!' Think of a fourteen-year-old girl quoting Maeterlinck! With
the proper direction in her reading, she need never see the inside of a
college, for her gift of observation amounts to a talent, and she has
it in her to make herself not only an honor to her sex, but one of the
most interesting women of her generation.
Mary looked up in blank amazement when Betty danced into the
library, hat in hand, and repeated what the old Colonel had just said
in her hearing. Compliments were rare in Mary's experience, and this
one, coming from the scholarly old gentleman of whom she stood in awe,
agitated her so much that three successive times she ran her needle
into her finger, instead of through the bead she was trying to impale
on its point. The last time it pricked so sharply that she gave a
nervous jerk and upset the entire box of beads on the floor.
See how stuck-up that made me, she said, with an embarrassed
laugh, shaking a tiny drop of blood from her finger before dropping on
her knees to grope for the beads, which were rolling all over the
polished floor. It's so seldom I hear a compliment that I haven't
learned to take them gracefully.
Godmother is waiting in the carriage for me, said Betty, pinning
on her hat as she spoke, or I'd help you pick them up. I just hurried
in to tell you while it was fresh in my mind, and I could remember the
exact words. I had no idea it would upset you so, she added,
Left to herself, Mary soon gathered the beads back into the box and
resumed her task. She was making a pair of moccasins for Girlie
Dinsmore's doll. Her conscience still troubled her for playing stork,
and she had resolved to spend some of her abundant leisure in making
amends in this way. But only her fingers took up the same work that had
occupied her before Betty's interruption. Her thoughts started off in
an entirely different direction.
A most romantic little day-dream had been keeping pace with her
bead-stringing. A day-dream through which walked a prince with eyes
like Rob's and a voice like Phil's, and the wealth of a Croesus in his
pockets. And he wrote sonnets to her and called her his ladye fair, and
gave her not only one turquoise, but a bracelet-ful.
Now every vestige of sentiment was gone, and she was sitting up
straight and eager, repeating the old Colonel's words. They were making
her unspeakably happy. She has it in her to make herself not only an
honor to her sex, but one of the most interesting women of her
generation. To make herself an honor,why, that would be winning
the third leaf of the magic shamrockthe golden one! Betty had
said that she believed that every one who earned those first three
leaves was sure to find the fourth one waiting somewhere in the world.
It wouldn't make any difference then whether she was an old maid or
not. She need not be dependent on any prince to bring her the diamond
leaf, and that was a good thing, for down in her heart she had her
doubts about one ever coming to her. She loved to make up foolish
little day-dreams about them, but it would be too late for him to come
when she was a grandmother, and she wouldn't be beautiful till then, so
she really had no reason to expect one. It would be much safer for her
to depend on herself, and earn the first three in plain, practical
To make herself an honor. The words repeated themselves again and
again, as she rapidly outlined an arrow-head on the tiny moccasin in
amber and blue. Suddenly she threw down the needle and the bit of kid
and sprang to her feet. I'll do it! she said aloud.
As she took a step forward, all a-tingle with a new ambition and a
firm resolve, she came face to face with her reflection in one of the
polished glass doors of the bookcase. The intent eagerness of its gaze
seemed to challenge her. She lifted her head as if the victory were
already won, and confronted the reflection squarely. I'll do it! she
said, solemnly to the resolute eyes in the glass door. You see if I
Only that morning she had given a complacent glance to the long
shelves of fiction, with which she expected to while away the rest of
the summer. There would be other pleasant things, she knew, drives with
Mrs. Sherman, long tramps with the girls, and many good times with
Elise Walton; but there would still be left hours and hours for her to
spend in the library, going from one to another of the famous
novelists, like a bee in a flower garden.
With the proper direction in her reading, the old Colonel had
said, and Mary knew without telling that she would not find the proper
beginning among the books of fiction. Instinctively she felt she must
turn to the volumes telling of real people and real achievements.
Biographies, journals, lives, and letters of women who had been, as the
Colonel said, an honor to their sex and the most interesting of their
generation. She wished that she dared ask him to choose the first book
for her, but she hadn't the courage to venture that far. So she chose
Lives of Famous Women was the volume that happened to attract her
first, a collection of short sketches. She took it from the shelf and
glanced through it, scanning a page here and there, for she was a rapid
reader. Then, finding that it bade fair to be entertaining, down she
dropped on the rug, and began at the preface. Lunch stopped her for
awhile, but, thoroughly interested, she carried the book up to her room
and immediately began to read again.
When she went down to the porch before dinner that evening, she did
not say to herself in so many words that maybe the Colonel would notice
what she was reading, but it was with the hope that he would that she
carried the book with her. He did notice, and commended her for it, but
threw her into a flutter of confusion by asking her what similarity she
had noticed in the lives of those women she was reading about.
It mortified her to be obliged to confess that she had not
discovered any, and she thought, as she nervously fingered the pages
and looked down at her toes, That's what I got for trying to appear
smarter than I really am.
This is what I meant, he began, in his didactic way. Each of them
made a specialty of some one thing, and devoted all her energies to
accomplishing that purpose, whether it was the establishing of a salon,
the discovery of a star, or the founding of a college. They hit the
bull's-eye, because they aimed at no other spot on the target. I have
no patience with this modern way of a girl's taking up a dozen fads at
a time. It makes her a jack-at-all-trades and a master of none.
The Colonel was growing eloquent on one of his favorite topics now,
and presently Mary found him giving her the very guidance she had
longed for. He was helping her to a choice. By the time dinner was
announced, he had awakened two ambitions within her, although he was
not conscious of the fact himself. One was to study the strange insect
life of the desert, in which she was already deeply interested, to
unlock its treasures, unearth its secrets, and add to the knowledge the
world had already amassed, until she should become a recognized
authority on the subject. The other was to prove by her own
achievements the truth of something which the Colonel quoted from
Emerson. It flattered her that he should quote Emerson to her, a mere
child, as if she were one of his peers, and she wished that Joyce could
have been there to hear it.
This was the sentence: If a man can write a better book, preach
a better sermon, or make a better mouse-trap than his neighbor, though
he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten track to
Mary did not yet know whether the desert would yield her the
material for a book or a mouse-trap, but she determined that no matter
what she undertook, she would force the world to make a beaten track
to her door. The first step was to find out how much had already been
discovered by the great naturalists who had gone before her, in order
that she might take a step beyond them. With that in view, she plunged
into the course of study that the Colonel outlined for her with the
same energy and dogged determination which made her a successful killer
Lloyd came upon her the third morning after the breaking up of the
house-party, sitting in the middle of the library floor, surrounded by
encyclopædias and natural histories. She was verifying in the books all
that she had learned by herself in the desert of the habits of
trap-door spiders, and she was so absorbed in her task that she did not
Lloyd slipped out of the room without disturbing her, wishing she
could plunge into some study as absorbing,something that would take
her mind from the thoughts which had nagged her like a persistent
mosquito for the last few days. She knew that she had done nothing to
give Bernice just cause for taking offence, and it hurt her to be
If it were anything else, she mused, as she strolled up and down
under the locusts, I could go to her and explain. But explanation is
impossible in a case of this kind. It would sound too conceited for
anything for me to tell her what I know to be the truth about Malcolm's
attentions to her, and as for the othah she shrugged her shoulders.
It would be hopeless to try that. Oh, if I could only talk it ovah
with mothah or Papa Jack! she sighed.
But they had gone away immediately after the house-party, for a
week's outing in the Tennessee mountains. She could have gone to her
grandfather for advice on most questions, but this was too intangible
for her to explain to him. Betty, too, was as much puzzled as herself.
I declare, she said, when appealed to, I don't know what to tell
you, Lloyd. It's going to be such a dull summer with everybody gone,
and Alex Shelby is so nice in every way, it does seem unfair for you to
have to put such a desirable companionship from you just on account of
another girl's jealousy. On the other hand, Bernice is an old playmate,
and you can't very well ignore the claims of such a long-time
friendship. She has misjudged and misrepresented you, and the
opportunity is yours, if you will take it, to show her how mistaken she
is in your character.
Now, as Lloyd reached the end of the avenue and stopped in front of
the gate, her face brightened. Katie Mallard was hurrying down the
railroad track, waving her parasol to attract her attention.
I can't come in, she called, as she came within speaking distance.
I'm out delivering the most informal of invitations to the most
informal of garden-parties to-morrow afternoon. I want you and Betty to
Who else is going to help? asked Lloyd, when she had cordially
accepted the invitation for herself and Betty.
Nobody. I had intended to have Bernice Howe, and went up there
awhile ago to ask her. She said maybe she'd come, but she certainly
wouldn't help receive if you were going to. She's dreadfully down on
Yes, I know it. I've heard some of the catty things she said about
my breaking up the friendship between her and Malcolm. It's simply
absurd, and it makes me so boiling mad every time I think about it that
I feel like a smouldering volcano. There aren't any words strong enough
to relieve my mind. I'd like to thundah and lighten at her.
Yes, it is absurd, agreed Katie. I told her so too. I told her
that Malcolm always had thought more of you than any girl in the
Valley, and always would. And she said, well, you had no 'auld lang
syne' claim on Alex, and that if he once got started to going to Locust
you'd soon have him under your thumb as you do every one else, and that
would be the end of the affair for her.
As if I were an old spidah, weaving webs for everybody that comes
along! cried Lloyd, indignantly. She's no right to talk that way.
I think it's because she really cares so much, and not that she
does it to be spiteful, said Katie. She hasn't a bit of pride about
hiding her feeling for him. She openly cried about it while she was
talking to me.
What do you think I ought to do? asked Lloyd, with a troubled
face. I like Mistah Shelby evah so much, and I'd like to be nice to
him for the old doctah's sake if for no othah reason, for I'm devoted
to him. And I really would enjoy seeing him often, especially
now when everybody else is gone or going for the rest of the summah.
Besides, he'd think it mighty queah for me to write to him not to come
next Thursday. But I'd hate to really interfere with Bernice's
happiness, if it has grown to be such a serious affair with her that
she can cry about it. I'd hate to have her going through the rest of
her life thinking that I had deliberately wronged her, and if she's
breaking her heart ovah itshe stopped abruptly.
Oh, I don't see that you have any call to do the grand renouncing
act! exclaimed Katie. Why should you cut yourself off from a good
time and a good friend by snubbing him? It will put you in a very
unpleasant light, for you couldn't explain without making Bernice
appear a perfect ninny. And if you don't explain, what will he think of
you? Let me tell you, it is more than she would do for you if you were
in her place. Somehow, with us girls, life seems like a game of 'Hold
fast all I give you.' What falls into your hands is yours by right of
the game, and you've no call to hand it over to the next girl because
she whimpers that she wants to be 'it.' Don't you worry. Go on and have
a good time.
With that parting advice Katie hurried away, and Lloyd was left to
pace up and down the avenue more undecided than before. It was late in
the afternoon of the next day when she finally found the answer to her
question. She had been wandering around the drawing-room, glancing into
a book here, rearranging a vase of flowers there, turning over the pile
of music on the piano, striking aimless chords on the harp-strings.
Presently she paused in front of the mantel to lift the lid from the
rose-jar and let its prisoned sweetness escape into the room. As she
did so she glanced up into the eyes of the portrait above her. With a
whimsical smile she thought of the times before when she had come to it
for counsel, and the question half-formed itself on her lips: What
would you do, you beautiful Grandmother Amanthis?
Instantly there came into her mind the memory of a winter day when
she had stood there in the firelight before it, stirred to the depths
by the music this one of the choir invisible had made of her life, by
her purpose to ease the burden of the worldto live in scorn of
miserable aims that end with self.
Now like an audible reply to her question the eyes of the portrait
seemed to repeat that last sentence to her: To live in scorn of
miserable aims that end with self!
For a moment she stood irresolute, then dropping the lid on the
rose-jar again, she crossed over into the next room and sat down beside
the library table. It was no easy task to write the note she had
decided to send. Five different times she got half-way through, tore
the page in two and tossed it into the waste-basket. Each attempt
seemed so stiff and formal that she was disgusted with it. Nearly an
hour passed in the effort. She could not write the real reason for
breaking her engagement for the ride, and she could not express too
much regret, or he would make other occasions she would have to refuse,
if she followed out the course she had decided upon, to give Bernice no
further occasion for jealousy. It was the most difficult piece of
composition she had ever attempted, and she was far from pleased with
the stiff little note which she finally slipped into its envelope.
It will have to do, she sighed, wearily, but I know he will think
I am snippy and rude, and I can't beah for him to have that opinion of
In the very act of sealing the envelope she hesitated again with
Katie's words repeating themselves in her ears: It's more than she
would do for you, if you were in her place.
While she hesitated there came a familiar whistle from somewhere in
the back of the house. She gave the old call in answer, and the next
moment Rob came through the dining-room into the hall, and paused in
the library door.
I've made my farewells to the rest of the family, he announced,
abruptly. I met Betty and Mary down in the orchard as I cut across
lots from home. Now I've got about five minutes to devote to the last
sad rites with you.
Yes, we're going on the next train, he answered, when her amazed
question stopped him. The family sprung the surprise on me just a
little while ago. It seems the doctor thought grandfather ought to go
at once, so they've hurried up arrangements, and we'll be off in a few
hours, two days ahead of the date they first set.
Startled by the abruptness of his announcement, Lloyd almost dropped
the hot sealing-wax on her fingers instead of the envelope. His haste
seemed to communicate itself to her, for, springing up, she stood with
one hand pressing her little signet ring into the wax, while the other
reached for the stamp-box.
I'll be through in half a second, she said. This lettah should
have gone off yestahday. If you will post it on the train for me it
will save time and get there soonah.
All right, he answered. Come on and walk down to the gate with
me, and we'll stop at the measuring-tree. We can't let the old custom
go by when we've kept it up so many years, and I won't be back again
Swinging the letter back and forth to make sure that the ink was
dry, she walked along beside him. Oh, I wish you weren't going away!
she exclaimed, forlornly. It's going to be dreadfully stupid the rest
of the summah.
They reached the measuring-tree, and taking out his knife and
pocket-rule, Rob passed his fingers over the notches which stood for
the many years they had measured their heights against the old locust.
Then he held out the rule and waited for her to take her place under
it, with her back against the tree.
What a long way you've stretched up between six and seventeen, he
said. This'll be about the last time we'll need to go through this
ceremony, for I've reached my top notch, and probably you have too.
Wait! she exclaimed, stooping to pick something out of the grass
at her feet. Heah's anothah foah-leaved clovah. I find one neahly
every time I come down this side of the avenue. I'm making a collection
of them. When I get enough, maybe I'll make a photograph-frame of
Then you ought to put your own picture in it, for you're certainly
the luckiest person for finding them I ever heard of. I'm going to
carve one on the tree, here by this last notch under the date. It will
be quite neat and symbolical, don't you think? A sort of 'when this you
see remember me' hieroglyphic. It will remind you of the long
discussions we've had on the subject since we read 'Abdallah'
He dug away in silence for a moment, then said, It's queer how you
happened to find that just now, for last night I came across a verse
about one, that made me think of you, and I learned it on purpose to
say to yousort of a farewell wish, you know.
Spouting poetry is a new accomplishment for you, Bobby, said
Lloyd, teasingly. I certainly want to hear it. Go on.
She looked down to thrust the stem of the clover through the silver
arrow that fastened her belt, and waited with an expectant smile to
hear what Limerick or nonsense jingle he had found that made him think
of her. It was neither. With eyes fixed on the little symbol he was
outlining on the bark of the tree, he recited as if he were reading the
words from it:
Love, be true to her;
Life, be dear to her;
Health, stay close to her;
Joy, draw near to her;
Fortune, find what your gifts
Can do for her.
Search your treasure-house
Through and through for her.
Follow her steps
The wide world over;
You must! for here is
The four-leaved clover.
Why, Rob, that is lovely! she exclaimed, looking up at him,
surprised and pleased. I'm glad you put that clovah on the tree, for
every time I look at it, it will remind me of yoah wish, and
The letter she had been carrying fluttered to the ground. He stooped
to pick it up and return it to her.
That's the lettah you are to mail for me, she said, giving it back
to him. Don't forget it, for it's impawtant.
The address was uppermost, in her clear, plain hand, and she held it
toward him, so that he saw she intended him to read it.
Hm! Writing to Alex Shelby, are you? he said, with his usual
brotherly frankness, and a sniff that plainly showed his disapproval.
It's just a note to tell him that I can't ride with him Thursday,
she answered, turning away.
Did you tell him the reason? he demanded, continuing to dig into
Of co'se not! How could I without making Bernice appeah
But what will he think of you, if you don't?
Oh, I don't know! I've worried ovah it until I'm neahly gray.
Then she looked up, wondering at his silence and the grave
intentness with which he was regarding her.
Oh, Rob, don't tell me, aftah all, that you think it was silly of
me! I thought you'd like it! It was only the friendly thing to do,
He gave a final dig with his knife, then turned to look down into
her wistful eyes. Lloyd Sherman, he said, slowly, you're one girl
whose friendship means something. You don't measure up very high on
this old locust, but when it comes to doing the square thingwhen it's
a question of honor, you measure up like a man!
Somehow the unwonted tenderness of his tone, the grave approval of
his smile, touched her in a way she had not believed possible. The
tears sprang to her eyes. There was a little tremor in her voice that
she tried to hide with a laugh.
Oh, Rob! I'm so glad! Nothing could make me happier than to have
you think that!
They started on down to the gate together. The only sound in all the
late afternoon sunshine was the soft rustling of the leaves overhead.
How many times the old locusts had watched their yearly partings! As
they reached the gate, Rob balanced the letter on his palm an instant.
Evidently he had been thinking of it all the way. Yes, he said, as if
to himself, that proves a right to the third leaf. Then he dropped
the letter in his pocket.
Lloyd looked up, almost shyly. Rob, I want to tell you something.
Even after that letter was written I was tempted not to send it. I was
sitting with it in my hand, hesitating, when I heard yoah whistle in
the hall, and then it came ovah me like a flash, all you'd said, both
in jest and earnest, about friendship and what it should count for.
Well, it was the old test, like jumping off the roof and climbing the
chimney. I used to say 'Bobby expects it of me, so I'll do it or die.'
It was that way this time. So if I have found the third leaf, Rob, it
was you who showed me where to look for it.
Then it was that the old locusts, watching and nodding overhead,
sent a long whispering sigh from one to another. They knew now that the
two children who had romped and raced in their shadows, who had laughed
and sung around their feet through so many summers, were outgrowing
that childhood at last. For the boy, instead of answering Oh, pshaw!
in bluff, boyish fashion, as he would have done in other summers gone,
impulsively thrust out his hands to clasp both of hers.
That was their good-by. Then the Little Colonel, tall and slender
like Elaine, the Lily Maid, turned and walked back toward the house.
She was so happy in the thought that she had found the golden leaf,
that she did not think to look behind her, so she did not see what the
locusts sawRob standing there watching her, till she passed out of
sight between the white pillars. But the grim old family sentinels, who
were always watching, nodded knowingly and went on whispering together.