Title: Her Lord and Master
Adapter: Victoria Morton
Creator: Martha Morton
Illustrator: Howard Chandler Christy
Release date: February 21, 2015 [eBook #48337]
[Frontispiece: "You locked me out!" she said, hysterically.
(missing from book)]
By MARTHA MORTON
HOWARD CHANDLER CHRISTY
and ESTHER MAC NAMARA
R. F. FENNO & COMPANY
18 East Seventeenth Street, NEW YORK
ANTHONY J. DREXEL BIDDLE
Entered at Stationers' Hall, London
All Rights Reserved
II.—Birds of Passage
III.—On a Model Farm
VIII.—The World's Rest
IX.—In an Orchard of the Memory
X.—The Might of the Falls
XI.—A Moonlight Picnic
XII.—Leading to the Altar
XV.—"I Shall Keep My Promise"
XIX.—"And as He Wove, He Heard Singing"
"You locked me out!" she said, hysterically. Frontispiece
"Her Lord and Master," by Martha Morton, was first produced in New York, during the Spring of 1902. The play met with great success, and ran for over one hundred nights at the Manhattan Theatre.
Miss Victoria Morton, the sister of the playwright, now presents "Her Lord and Master" as a novel.
The play is being produced in the principal cities during this season.
"Did the ladies arrive, Mr. Stillwater?" inquired the clerk at the Waldorf Hotel, New York, as a tall, broad-shouldered man, unmistakably Western in appearance, walked smilingly up to the desk.
"Bag and baggage, bless their hearts!"
A dark, distinguished looking man, who was looking over the register, glanced at the speaker, then moved slightly to one side as the latter took up the pen. Stillwater registered in a quick, bold hand, and walked away. The dark gentleman turned again to the register and read:
"Horatio Stillwater, Stillwater, Indiana."
"Horatio Stillwater, Stillwater!" he remarked to the clerk with a cultured English accent. "A coincidence, I presume?"
"Not at all," answered the clerk laughing. "That often happens out West. You see, Stillwater founded the town. He owned most of the land, besides the largest interests in wheat and oil. It's a great wheat and oil centre. Naturally the town is named after him."
"Naturally," acquiesced the Englishman, staring blankly at the clerk. He lit a cigar and puffed it thoughtfully for about five minutes, then he exclaimed, "Extraordinary!"
"Beg pardon?" said the clerk.
"I find it most extraordinary."
"What are you referring to, Lord Canning?"
"I was referring to what you were telling me about this gentleman, of course!" Lord Canning pointed to Stillwater on the register.
"Oh!" laughed the clerk, amused that the facts he had given were still a matter for reflection. "Yes, he's one of our biggest capitalists out West. The family are generally here at this time of the year. The ladies have just arrived from Palm Beach."
"That's south, you know."
"Oh, a winter resort?"
Lord Canning recommenced his study of the register.
"Mrs. Horatio Stillwater," he read. "Stillwater, Indiana. Miss Indiana Stillwater." He reflected a moment. "Miss Indiana Stillwater, Stillwater, Indiana. Here too, is a similarity of names. Probably a coincidence and probably not." He read on, "Mrs. Chazy Bunker, Stillwater, Indiana. Bunker, Bunker!" He pressed his hand to his forehead. "Oh, Bunker Hill," he thought, with sudden inspiration.
"Miss Indiana Stillwater, Stillwater, Indiana. If the town was named after the father, why should not the State—no, that could not be. But the reverse might be possible." He addressed the clerk.
"Would you mind telling me—oh, I beg your pardon," seeing that the clerk was very much occupied at that moment—"It doesn't matter—some other time." He turned and lounged easily against the desk, surveying the people walking about, with the intentness of a person new to his surroundings, and still pondering the question.
* * * * *
"Now," said Stillwater, after his family had been duly installed, "let me look at you. I'm mighty glad to see you all again." He swung his daughter Indiana up in his arms and kissed her, then set her on his knee and looked at her with open admiration.
Mr. Horatio Stillwater had never seen any reason why he should be ashamed of his great pride in his only child. Indiana herself had often been heard to remark, "Pa has never really recovered from the shock of my birth. It was a case of too much joy. He thinks I'm the greatest thing on record."
"Well, folks," he said, "I expect you're all dead tired."
"Not I," said Mrs. Bunker, his mother-in-law. She was a well-formed woman, with dark, vivacious eyes and a crown of white hair dressed in the latest mode. "I could take the trip all over again."
"Did you miss us, father?" asked Mrs. Stillwater, a gentle-looking, pretty woman, with soft, brown hair and dark blue eyes like her child's, only Indiana's were more alert and restless. "Ma has lovely eyes," Indiana was in the habit of remarking. "She takes them from me."
Mr. Stillwater put Indiana off his knees and sat by his wife.
"Did I miss you? Not a little bit."
"Your color's pretty bad, father," she said, "and you look dead tired. Perhaps," she rose impulsively, "perhaps you've been laid up."
"No, ma, no," he placed his big hands on her shoulders, forcing her down in her chair. "I haven't been laid up. But I've been feeling mighty queer."
He was immediately overwhelmed by a torrent of exclamations and questions from Mrs. Bunker and Indiana, while his wife sat pale and quiet, with heaving breast.
"No, I don't know what's the matter with me," he answered. "No, I can't describe how I feel. No, I have not been to a doctor, and I'm not going. There, you have it straight. I don't believe in them."
"Pa!" said Indiana, taking a stand in the centre of the room, "I want to say a few words to you."
"Oh, Lord!" thought Stillwater, "When Indiana shakes her pompadour and folds her arms, there's no telling where she'll end."
"I want to ask you if the sentiments which you have just expressed are befitting ones for a man with a family?"
"Mother," said Mrs. Stillwater, "he always takes your advice, tell him he should consult a doctor."
"Indiana has the floor!" said Mrs. Bunker.
"Is it right that you should make it necessary for me to remind you of a common duty; that of paying proper attention to your health, in order that we should have peace of mind?"
Indiana had been chosen to deliver the valedictory at the closing exercises at her school. This gave her a reputation for eloquence which she liked to sustain whenever an occasion presented itself.
"I see your finish," she wound up, not as elegantly as one might have expected. "You'll be a hopeless wreck and we'll all have insomnia from lying awake nights, worrying. When we once get in that state—" she turned to Mrs. Bunker.
"No cure," said the lady. "Nothing but time."
Stillwater sat with his hand in his pocket and his eyes closed, apparently thinking deeply.
"Well, I've said all I'm going to say."
She looked at him expectantly. His eyes remained closed, however, and he breathed deeply and regularly.
"I have finished, pa. Have you any remarks to make?"
"He's asleep, Indiana," said Mrs. Bunker, with a peal of laughter.
"He is not," said Indiana indignantly. "He's only making believe—" She bent down and looked in his face. "You're not asleep, are you, pa?"
"No, of course not; who said I was?" He sat up rubbing his eyes. "Did you get it all off your mind, Indy?"
"You heard what I said, pa?"
"Certainly; it was fine. You must write it down for me some day, Indy."
"Would you close your ears and eyes to the still, small voice," said Indiana, jumping upon a chair and declaiming in approved pulpit fashion. "The voice which says, 'Go not in the by-ways. There are snares and quick-sands. Follow in the open road, the path of truth and righteousness.' I want to know if you're going to a doctor?"
"Well, I suppose I must, if I want some peace in life."
"No ordinary doctor, you must consult a specialist." She looked around triumphantly.
Her mother smiled on her in loving approval.
"A specialist for what, Indy?" Stillwater asked drily.
Indiana met his eyes bent enquiringly upon her, then burst into laughter.
"Well, you've phazed me this time," she said. Then she installed herself on his knee. "Oh, I don't mean a specialist at all. I mean a consulting physician—an authority."
"Now you're talking," answered Stillwater, with a beaming smile.
Indiana jumped off his knee. "An ordinary doctor isn't good enough for my father!" She gave a very good imitation of a cowboy's swagger. "I'm hungry, pa."
"Well, where are you going to have lunch?"
"I'd like mine brought up," said Mrs. Stillwater. "Are the trunks unlocked, Kitty?" as a young, bright-looking girl appeared at the door.
"Yes ma'am. Come right in and I'll make you comfortable."
"I'll have my lunch up here with ma," said Mr. Stillwater. "What's the rest of you going to do?"
"Oh, we'll go down and hear the band play," said Mrs. Bunker with exuberant spirits. "Come along, Indiana!"
Stillwater was one of the men who had risen rapidly in the West. He had married at a boyish age, a very young, gentle girl, and had emigrated from the East soon after marriage, with his wife and her mother, Mrs. Chazy Bunker. He built a house on government land in Indiana. The first seven years meant hard and incessant toil, but in that time he and the two women saw some very happy days. His marriage had been a boy and girl affair, dating from the village school. One of those lucky unions, built neither upon calculation or judgment, which terminate happily for all concerned. Stillwater was only aware that the eyes of Mary Bunker were blue and sweet as the wild violets that he picked and presented to her, and that she never spelt above him. His manliness won her respect, and his gentleness her love. Their immature natures thus thoughtlessly and happily united, like a pair of birds at nesting time, grew together as the years went on until they became one. After seven years of unremitting work, Stillwater could stand and look proudly as far as the eye could reach, on acre after acre of golden wheat tossing blithely in the breeze. He had been helped to this result by the women who had lived with the greatest economy and thrift putting everything into the land. His young and inexperienced wife acted under the direction of her mother, a splendid manager and a woman of great shrewdness and sense. He could look, also, on the low, red-painted house, which could boast now of many additions, and realize that his marriage had been a success. In that low red house Indiana first saw the light, and, simultaneously, oil was struck on the land. The child became the prospective heiress of millions.
The birth of a daughter opened the source of the deepest joy Stillwater had ever known. When Mrs. Bunker laid the infant swathed in new flannels in his arms, he was assailed by indescribable feelings, altogether new to him. She watched him curiously as he held the tiny bundle with the greatest timidity in his big brawny hands. Feeling her bright eyes on his face he flushed with embarrassment. Mrs. Bunker pushed back the flannel and showed him a wee fist, like a crumpled roseleaf, which she opened by force, clasping it again around Stillwater's finger. As he felt that tiny and helpless clasp tears welled into his honest brown eyes.
"There isn't anything she shan't have," he said. And these words held good through all the years that Indiana lived under his roof. In a spirit of patriotism, Stillwater named his daughter Indiana.
"She was born right here in Indiana," he declared. "She's a prairie flower, so we named her after the State."
The birth of a daughter appealed to Stillwater as a most beautiful and wonderful thing. It awakened all the latent chivalry and tenderness of his character. As he remarked to his friend Masters, "A girl kinder brings out the soft spots in man's nature."
This feeling is a foreign one to the European who always longs for a son to perpetuate his name and possessions, and after all it is a natural egotism when there is a long and honorable line of ancestry, but in all ranks and conditions the cry is the same, "A son, oh Lord, give me a son!"
After the boom which followed the discovery of oil-gushers on the land, and Stillwater looked steadily in the face, with that level head which no amount of success could turn, the enormous prospects of the future, he thought, "It's just come in time for Indiana." His imagination pictured another Mary Bunker, another soft and clinging creature to nestle against his heart, another image of his wife to wind her arms about his neck and look up into his face with trusting love. Instead, he had a little whirlwind of a creature, a combination of tempests and sunshine, with eyes like the skies of Indiana, and hair the color of the ripe wheat, upon which his wife used to gaze as she sat on her porch sewing little garments, nothing as far as the eyes could strain but that harmony of golden color, joining the blue of the sky at the rim of the horizon. The peace and happiness of the Stillwater household fluctuated according to the moods of Indiana. These conditions commenced when she was a child, and grew as she developed. The family regarded her storms as inevitable, and nothing could be more beautiful than her serenity when they passed, nothing could equal the tenderness of her love for them all.
Stillwater, under high pressure from his family, went to consult a noted New York medical authority; a gaunt, spare-looking man, who, after the usual preliminaries, leaned back in his chair and regarded Stillwater fixedly.
"Your liver's torpid, your digestion is all wrong, and you are on the verge of a nervous collapse."
"Well, doctor, what do you advise?"
"Well, don't send me too far. I have big interests on hand just now."
"Cessation of all business."
"Don't know how I can manage that."
"Get on a sailing vessel. Stay on it for three months."
"I should die for want of an interest in life."
"Take my advice in time, Mr. Stillwater. It will save future trouble."
"I wonder how Indiana would like a sailing trip," thought Stillwater. "If the folks were along I guess we'd manage to whoop it up, all right. Well, I'll think it over, Doctor. Of course, I couldn't do anything without consulting the ladies."
Stillwater smiled in a confidential way, as much as to say, "You know how it is yourself." The noted authority answered by a look of contemptuous pity.
"See you again, Doctor."
As he arrived at the hotel he was hailed by Indiana, driving up in a hansom.
"Been to see the doctor?"
"Yes; I've got lots to tell."
"Jump in and we'll drive around the park. The others won't be home yet."
Stillwater made a feint of hesitating. "Perhaps I'd better wait till we're all together."
"Well, you can jump in anyway, and come for a drive," said Indiana. "I'll give him five minutes," she thought, "before he tells me all he knows."
"The air will do me a whole lot of good," remarked Stillwater, acting on her advice.
It was a clear cold day, in the latter part of February, and the wind blew keenly in their faces as they bowled leisurely up Fifth Avenue.
"Say, Indiana," after three minutes perusal of the promenaders.
"Yes, pa—it's coming," she thought.
"How would you like to go on a sailing trip for three months; the whole kit and crew of us? We'd have everything our own way; I'd see to that. We'd run the whole show. On the water for three months. What do you think of it—eh?"
"Bully!" shouted Indiana, throwing her muff up in the air, and catching it deftly.
"I thought you'd like it," said Stillwater, chuckling.
"What did the doctor say, pa?" said Indiana breathlessly. "What did he say was the matter with you? Tell me—you must tell me."
"Now, Indiana, give me a chance. I'm going to tell you. Didn't I start to give away the whole snap?"
"But you're taking such a long time, pa," she said, tapping the floor of the hansom nervously.
"Well, when it comes down to it, there isn't much the matter with me," answered Stillwater reassuringly. "He said something about a torpid liver."
"Torpid liver!" echoed Indiana, looking as if she were just brought face to face with the great calamity of her life.
"Now, that's what I was afraid of," said Stillwater. "Please don't go on like that before your ma, Indiana. It's not serious."
"No?" echoed Indiana helplessly.
"Why, it's nothing at all," Stillwater laughed hilariously. "Torpid livers—people have them every day."
"Well, what else?" said Indiana.
"Oh, lots," answered Stillwater confidentially.
"Tell me this minute; I must know. Don't you try and keep anything from me, pa."
"Indiana, will you give me a chance? Sit down! You'll be out of this hansom in a minute. Something about digestion. That don't amount to anything."
Indiana sank back with a sigh of relief.
"And something about nerves—says I must throw up business, that's all it amounts to, for a few months."
"Then you'll be cured?"
"Then you shall, pop—you shall; do you hear me?"
"Now, Indiana, what's the use of your taking the reins and whipping up like that? I've told you what I reckon to do. Didn't I broach the subject of a sailing trip?"
"Ma and I are good sailors," remarked Indiana meditatively, "but Grandma Chazy don't like the water."
"Oh, we'll jolly her along her all right," said Stillwater easily. "Say, Indiana," he put his mouth to her ear, "Grandma Chazy wouldn't miss a trick."
Indiana laughed loudly.
"Well, this is what I call a wild and exciting time, Indiana. If you took me on many of these drives I think I'd get rid of that 'slight nervous derangement' the doctor was talking about. Sort of a rest-cure—eh?"
"Oh, if I could only get on that horse's back!" cried Indiana, "I'd make him go."
"Not that horse, Indiana," said Stillwater chuckling. "All the sporting spirit in you wouldn't make that horse go. Suppose we think about getting home?"
"Back to the hotel," he shouted to the driver.
"I can't help thinking of Circus," said Indiana sentimentally. "I wonder if he misses me."
"You think more of that horse than all your beaux, don't you, Indiana?"
Indiana nodded and smiled.
"I'll have my hands full for a few weeks before I go on that sailing trip. I don't know how I'm going to manage it."
"Well, you just must!"
"Suppose we don't say anything to the others till I make sure I can go. I've got some big things on now, Indiana—"
"You won't go after you've worked me all up about it—you'll keep on grinding until you're past curing, until one day you'll just drop down and die. What do you care—and ma and Grandma Chazy and—and I'll be left with no one to look after us." She buried her face in her muff, making piteous little gulps.
"I'm a fool," thought Stillwater, patting her on the back. "The idea of that little thing takin' it so to heart. I didn't think she was old enough to realize things like that. None of us know how much there is in Indiana." His heart swelled with gratitude at this proof of devotion from his only child.
"Now, Indiana, don't lose your grip like this. I'm going, I tell you. I'm going on this trip. There isn't anything on earth that'll stop me. Hi! Driver! Just run through and stop at Thorley's!"
As the hansom dashed up to Thorley's Indiana gave a clear jump to the curb, disdaining the hand her father held out.
"American beauties!" said Stillwater.
The salesman showed them a gorgeous long-stemmed cluster.
"That's the ticket," said Stillwater. "My, they're fresh, Indiana." She selected one and fastened it in her furs. "I'll carry the rest for you. Now what would the others like?"
Indiana flitted about selecting flowers.
"Would you like them sent?" inquired the salesman.
"No," said Indiana, "we'll take them right along."
"Why," exclaimed Stillwater as they were leaving the store, "I was just about forgetting you were all going to the opera to-night. Now, what flowers do you want to wear, Indiana?"
"Well, my dress is white. Hyacinths, white hyacinths. Corsage bouquet, Miss Stillwater."
"And ma, she likes the sweet-smelling ones."
"Well, violets for ma. Violets, Mrs. Stillwater."
"Shall we say violets for Grandma Chazy?"
"I think Grandma Chazy would like something brighter," said Indiana.
"Carnations?" suggested the salesman.
"Yes," said Indiana. "Pink carnations, Mrs. Chazy Bunker. Send to the Waldorf Hotel for this evening. Don't make any mistake, please!"
"Duplicate the order to-morrow, same time," added Stillwater.
Indiana hummed gaily to herself as they drove off with their flowers.
"She's forgotten all about it now," thought Stillwater, with a satisfied glance at her happy face.
Lord Canning noticed them when they entered the hotel.
He was standing in the lobby through which they passed, lighting a cigar preparatory to going out. He recognized Stillwater immediately, and stared curiously at Indiana.
"I suppose that is the daughter," he thought, "Indiana." He smiled as he puffed his cigar.
Birds of Passage.
"Anything, if it's for your good," said Mrs. Stillwater, when the subject of the sailing trip was broached. "Father, this is the finest mignonette I've ever seen."
"Well, I suppose I'll be sick," added Mrs. Bunker dolefully, as she helped her daughter arrange the flowers, "but I'll get used to the motion. As long as we get somewhere sometime, and see something that's worth seeing. Isn't that vase a picture?"
"Well, you must leave that to me, Grandma Chazy. What's the matter with Japan?"
There was a chorus of delight. Indiana jumped wildly up and down the room.
"I'll run in and see the old man to-morrow morning. He'll be glad to hear I'm going to act on his advice. I told him I couldn't pledge myself to do anything until I had first consulted the ladies."
"Well, I guess," said Indiana.
"Let's have lunch; then I must get right down town. You won't see me till dinner."
Their faces fell.
"What are we going to do with ourselves?" said Indiana.
This seemed to be a happy idea, and Stillwater congratulating himself that he had suggested an entertainment which appealed to them, kissed his wife, remarking, "Now, don't you go and tire yourself, mother. You can't travel with these other young things."
When Stillwater, the following morning, confided to the noted medical authority that he intended to take his whole family on a sailing voyage to Japan, adding the clause, "We're going to have a real good time," he sank back in his chair, and regarded Stillwater with an expression of patient endurance.
"I thought I had impressed on you, Mr. Stillwater, the necessity of absolute rest and quiet. Rest and quiet; do you understand me?"
"Perfectly! Perfectly! That's what I'm laying my plans for. Three months on a sailing vessel—"
"With your entire family, which includes—?"
"My wife, my daughter, and my mother-in-law."
"A wife, a daughter, and a mother-in-law. None of them deaf or dumb, I presume?"
"Ha, ha, ha! Now you needn't be afraid I shan't have cheerful company. They'll make things hum, I tell you!"
"I don't doubt it for a minute. Mr. Stillwater, I strongly advise this trip without your family. With your family I am as strongly against it. To be confined for three months on a sailing vessel with a wife, a daughter, and a mother-in-law, would be enough to derange any man's nerves, allowing he is perfectly normal when he starts. Now, the consequences in your condition—"
"Now, doctor, you're not sure of your ground. You don't know my family. They're devoted to me."
"Of course," said the Noted Authority, smiling blandly. "That is the trouble."
"Say now. They're not going to do me any harm."
"Intentionally, I hope not."
"Of course they have their little squabbles, but I can manage them all right."
"We might effect a compromise. How old is your daughter?"
"Eighteen. A perfect child. We can do whatever we like with her." Stillwater smiled involuntarily as he uttered this unblushing falsehood, thinking "I mean she can do whatever she likes with us. My words got twisted, that's all."
"Well, suppose we leave your mother-in-law behind, and take your wife and daughter. The latter, I gather, is tractable and easily managed."
"Leave my mother-in-law behind! Oh, I couldn't do that. She's making a great sacrifice for my sake. She's awful seasick but I promised her a good time, once we get to Japan, and I mean to keep my word."
The Noted Authority sighed. "You're quite decided on that point?"
"Quite. Couldn't leave her behind. Wouldn't hurt her feelings for the world."
"There is no more to be said, Mr. Stillwater."
"The sailing trip's off, then?"
"Except you resolve to go alone. In case of nervous derangement I always advise separation. No family."
"Of course, I couldn't presume to argue with you, Doctor. But I'll talk it over with the ladies. They'll never allow me to go alone, though, I'm quite sure of it."
"Is there any necessity to precipitate matters so far?" said the Noted Authority. "Would it not be easier to announce at once quietly and firmly your intention to go, avoiding all preliminary discussion?"
"Oh, you don't know my family; they would not allow that sort of thing. Doctor, are you married?"
"I have been a widower for some years."
"That explains—you've forgotten how it is. You see, my family are a very touchy lot—but I know just how to handle them. We get along swimmingly."
"As these domestic conditions seem inevitable, further discussions seem useless. Talk it over with the ladies. Perhaps with the assistance of your wife, your daughter and your mother-in-law you may arrive at some decision which will be agreeable to all concerned."
"Certainly! Certainly! I'll do as you say—we'll talk it over and we'll hit on something between the lot of us. See you again, Doctor. Good-by."
"He's pretty far gone already, I fear," thought the Noted Authority after Stillwater had departed. "Absolutely afraid to act on his own responsibility."
"What do you think?" cried Stillwater, bursting in on his family about dinner hour. "He won't allow you to go with me on that sailing trip. He says I must go alone."
"Well, pa, you go right back and tell him that we wouldn't think of allowing you to do anything of the kind."
"His office hours are over now, Indiana," said Stillwater, smiling placidly. "Will to-morrow morning do?"
"Oh, father, it would just break my heart to see you going off alone and sick, too."
"Not to be thought of for a minute," said Mrs. Bunker.
"I told him you wouldn't hear of it." Stillwater leaned back in his chair, watching with evident enjoyment the effect of his words. "He said that to confine a perfectly normal person on a sailing vessel for three months with his wife, his daughter, and his mother-in-law, would make him a nervous wreck for life."
"Did he say that, pa?"
"Brute," said Mrs. Bunker. "If he once had the privilege of making my acquaintance he might change his views on the matter."
"He might fall all over himself to become one of the sailing party himself then," remarked Stillwater chuckling. "Well, he said I should talk it over with the ladies."
"It's a wonder he gave us that much consideration," said Indiana loftily.
"I reckon he thought he was humoring me. I guess he thinks I'm a gone case." Stillwater slapped his knee. "Well, I've been doing some tall thinking on my own account and it's come to this." He rose and looked at his wife. "In the old days when I was coaxing the ground, I never had these feelings, mother."
"I'm going back to nature. I'm going to buy a farm. I know just where to lay my hands on one in Indiana. Spring is coming. I'm going to live on it and work on it, till I'm a new man again."
"I second that motion," said Mrs. Bunker, bringing her hand down on the table.
"And I," cried Indiana. "We'll all go farming."
"Well, mother, you're not saying a word."
She smiled up at him. Her eyes were full of tears.
"It—it will be like the old days," she said.
"Here are the hats!" cried Indiana, as Kitty, the maid, entered staggering under the weight of a number of boxes. They all became immediately interested in the absorbing question of spring headgear.
"How do you like this?" inquired Mrs. Bunker, perching a black net concoction on her carefully dressed head.
"Very becoming!" answered Indiana, after a critical inspection.
"Suits you fine, grandma!" said Stillwater.
"Shows what you all know!" remarked Mrs. Bunker, looking in the glass. "It's entirely too old for me." She placed it on her daughter's smooth brown coils.
"Ah!" cried Stillwater admiringly. His wife, sitting under inspection, looked inquiringly at Indiana. A mirror held no significance for Mrs. Stillwater. She was always supremely satisfied with whatever her family approved of, for her, in the way of personal adornment.
"I'll take that hat for ma," said Indiana. "It's all right."
"Yes, Mary can afford to wear it," said Mrs. Bunker. "I'm not young enough for a hat like that."
"Ladies," exclaimed Mr. Stillwater, looking at his watch. "This is a pretty interesting show, but excuse me for the liberty of reminding you that there's another, starting at a quarter past eight, at which we've made a solemn resolution to be present."
"Hear! Hear!" cried Indiana.
"It is now seven o'clock. Of course you don't take as long to dress as I do." He made quickly for the door.
"Not a bit longer than other women," cried Indiana.
"Well, we'll leave that question open," said Mr. Stillwater, disappearing.
That evening, as they were stepping from the elevator in their wraps, ready for the theatre, Mrs. Bunker uttered an exclamation of intense surprise.
"Mrs. Bunker; I am delighted!"
"And Lord Stafford, too!" She shook hands with an elderly gentleman, slightly foppish in appearance. "Well, of all people in the world, to meet you here to-night. I'm just ready to faint."
"Don't! Don't! Mrs. Bunker," said Lord Stafford, with a laugh of intense enjoyment.
"Lord Stafford; Lord Canning; my son-in-law, Mr. Stillwater; my daughter, Mrs. Stillwater, and my grand-daughter, Miss Stillwater."
"Indiana," thought Lord Canning, as he bowed ceremoniously.
"These gentlemen were my constant companions at Cannes last year," said Mrs. Bunker. "We and the Jennings' were together most of the time."
"I'm glad to know you, gentlemen! My mother-in-law's often talked about your kind attention to her abroad."
"Kind attention is no name for it," said Mrs. Bunker. "They gave me the best time I ever had. And now that I've caught them on American ground, I intend to repay it with interest."
"I assure you, Mrs. Bunker, you need feel no sense of obligation," said Lord Canning. "Your companionship was a source of unfailing pleasure."
"What do you think of this big town, Lord Canning?" said Mr. Stillwater, indicating his surroundings by a comprehensive wave of the hand.
"Extraordinary!" answered Lord Canning.
"How long are you going to be here?" inquired Mrs. Bunker of Lord Stafford, while her son-in-law was probing Lord Canning's recently acquired views of America.
"Oh, we're only birds of passage, Mrs. Bunker."
"So are we; but isn't it delightful to meet on the wing?"
"On the wing; ha, ha! Delightful, Mrs. Bunker! Delightful!"
"We start to-morrow for California," said Lord Canning.
"And the day after we return to Indiana," added Mrs. Bunker.
"In the summer we intend to investigate Colorado."
"I have a ranch up in the Rockies," said Stillwater. "Why, this little girl," he brought his hand down on Indiana's shoulders, "learned to shoot up there."
"Indeed!" said Lord Canning.
"Well, you just ought to have seen her once cornering a grizzly. She shot him, too—sure as I stand here."
"Extraordinary!" exclaimed Lord Canning.
"Oh, that's a small matter," remarked Indiana modestly.
"Indeed!" said Lord Canning.
"We shoot bears every day in America," she added airily.
At these words Lord Canning looked about him as though he fully expected one to appear that moment, for the purpose of allowing him to see Miss Stillwater dispatch it with all possible speed, and just as she stood there in her long white opera cloak, holding a bunch of hyacinths.
"Not here!" exclaimed Indiana.
"No?" answered Lord Canning, looking absently at her blonde pompadour, every hair of which seemed to quiver with a distinct life and individuality of its own.
Indiana gave vent to a long peal of merriment.
"No—of course not!" Lord Canning hastened to add. "Not here."
"We used to spend most part of our summers in the Rockies," said Stillwater, "but the last two or three years the ladies have preferred the Adirondacks."
"We thought of giving ourselves a month there in the autumn, before we return to England," said Lord Canning.
"Now's my chance," exclaimed Mrs. Bunker; "you must stay with us, and we'll give you fine hunting."
"Plenty of deer in the North Woods," added Stillwater. "You'll be heartily welcome if you care to rough it with us. Camp life, you know."
"I should be only too delighted," said Lord Canning. "What do you say, Uncle?"
"I'm sure we'll make you feel at home," said Mrs. Stillwater.
At these words, uttered with such heartfelt sincerity, the two Englishmen felt at home that very moment. There was a soft domesticity about Mrs. Stillwater, which made itself perceptible even in the brilliant crowded corridor of the Waldorf.
"Now, Lord Stafford," said Mrs. Bunker, "take out your note book; and I'll give you all necessary instructions to reach us."
"I generally manage to get up there in September," said Mr. Stillwater. "But, if anything detains me for a short while—you'll be in good hands."
"Yes, we'll take care of you," said Indiana.
Lord Canning smiled. Indiana immediately decided that his face, though stern in repose, was not unattractive.
"Well, good-bye till the fall," said Mrs. Bunker. "Lord Stafford, do you remember that odd trick you had abroad, of turning up unexpectedly, wherever I happened to be?" She tapped him playfully with a carnation from her bouquet.
"Ha, ha, ha! You see, I haven't lost that trick yet, Mrs. Bunker!" He took the carnation and fastened it in his buttonhole.
"Good-bye, Lord Canning," said Indiana. "Don't forget to look us up, when you come to the woods. I'll show you the sights."
Lord Canning bowed, blushing with embarrassment. No young lady, of the tender age of Indiana, had ever before spoken to him with such freedom, or looked at him with such unconscious, unabashed eyes.
"Lively woman, Mrs. Bunker," remarked Lord Stafford, looking after the party, and inhaling the fragrance of the carnation.
He met with no response.
"Lively woman, eh?" he repeated in a louder tone.
"Yes," answered Lord Canning absently, "very, very young; little more than a child, in spite of her self-assurance—and there's something about her—something—quite—er—different!"
On a Model Farm
"The peas are sprouting pretty lively. The tomatoes are as perky as the young generation. The strawberries—well, they're saying, 'To-day we're here, to-morrow we're gone.' You shall have strawberries and cream for supper this evening."
After delivering this report in his own neat style, Stillwater rolled down his shirt sleeves, threw aside his big straw wide awake, and sank into a rocker.
"What are you making, mother?"
"A little dimity dress for Indiana to wear about the farm."
"Well, history repeats itself on this place. Are you commencing to make dresses for Indiana again? I suppose you're imagining she's a little fat tot, and we've always been just here."
"Not when I look at all this goods," said Mrs. Stillwater laughing, "though she's small, compared to what I was at her age."
"Why don't you send to town for some dresses," asked Stillwater.
"Oh, because it's a pleasure to make it myself, father, and the child loves to see me do it."
"Bye the bye." Stillwater took a handkerchief from his pocket, and unfolding it, carefully disclosed what to ignorant eyes was simply an ordinary potato. "I'll have something to show at the next county fair, that'll make neighbor Masters feel like very small potatoes."
Mrs. Bunker, who was embroidering red roses on white linen, handled the potato with the air of a connoisseur.
"Father, you're working as hard on this farm as if your living depended on it," said Mrs. Stillwater.
"My living does depend on it; I'd have been under the ground before long, if I hadn't taken to this. I consider every potato which costs me ten dollars, is equivalent to a doctor's pill."
Mrs. Bunker laughed.
"My dear grandmother, a man who works as hard as I'm working on my farm, makes a living and nothing more. I sat in my office and doubled my capital without turning a hand, but that's the pace that kills. Halloa, Glen," as a young, good-looking fellow in knickerbockers opened the gate. "Leave your wheel right there."
"Good morning, Mrs. Stillwater."
"Good morning, Glen; how's your mother?"
"Well, thanks. Sends her love, and father's quite his old self."
"Who cured him?" said Stillwater.
"He was getting to be a regular hypochondriac. We compared our symptoms; they were about alike. I constitute myself my own doctor. I buy a farm, and a pretty thing it is, too. I'll be wabashed, if he don't go and do the same."
"Ah, but father happened to have his farm, Mr. Stillwater," said the young fellow, laughing. "It's been neglected for years. It's not a model farm like this, but we're getting it into shape." He looked around, as though he missed something or someone.
"Say, Glen, what do you think of this?" Stillwater proudly exhibited his potato. Glen examined it with professional interest. "You couldn't do any better than that, could you?"
"We don't try. You know what father says, 'Farmin' ain't no fad with my neighbor, Stillwater.'—I'll just fetch a drink from the well."
He went off with a long, swinging stride, and, returning in a moment with a tin cup in his hand, seated himself at Mrs. Stillwater's feet, on the step of the farm-house porch.
"Fine tasting water, eh?" said Stillwater watching him. "Cold as ice; it's a fine thing to have a spring like that, right on your ground."
Glen nodded, drinking slowly, and fingering the dainty, pink and white, flowered material on which Mrs. Stillwater was working. He finally rose, restored the tin cup to the well, sauntered back and into the kitchen, and out again, with a disappointed expression.
"What's the matter, Glen? Lost anything?" inquired Mr. Stillwater, winking at the others.
Glen smiled. "Where's Indiana?"
"Oh, Indiana. She went off on Circus nearly three hours ago."
"Why didn't she stop for me?"
"I suppose she thought one's company, two's a crowd," answered Stillwater.
"You never know when Circus is going to cut up his games," remarked Glen, gloomily.
"Tell me about Circus now," said Mr. Stillwater scornfully, "don't I know Circus by this time?"
"Do you think anything could have happened?" asked Mrs. Stillwater in alarm.
"I've yet to see the horse that Indiana couldn't manage. I never saw two people understand each other better than she and Circus. He fretted and fumed when she jumped on his back this morning, then he did his great act. Stood right up on his hind legs, and looked around for applause. But she sat him like a rock. The two of them made the prettiest picture you ever saw. Well, she got him so, that he trotted off with her like Mary's little lamb. Indiana has a way with a horse."
"I think I hear her now," said Glen, walking down to the gate, and flinging it open.
"Look at that boy!" said Stillwater. "See, how his face lights up!"
"It's only natural," answered Mrs. Stillwater. "They all feel like that towards Indiana."
"No," said Stillwater, watching Glen, "not just like that."
"Yes," interpolated Mrs. Bunker, "he's the same as the rest."
"No," persisted Mr. Stillwater. "Not quite the same. Look at him out there! He's a fine lad."
They glanced at him, standing bare-headed, holding the gate and watching. His small, finely shaped head, with its well-modeled features, showing in relief against the sycamore tree near the gate.
"He fought well for his country," continued Stillwater.
"There are others," said Mrs. Bunker tersely.
"That's all right," responded Stillwater, while the clatter of horses hoofs came nearer. "Not all of them went like him—willing to give their heart's blood."
"Hurrah!" cried Indiana, entering the gate at full gallop, riding straddle, breathless, hatless, her yellow hair streaming behind her. Sitting aloft Circus, who was a tall horse, she looked like a little boy, a very young, tender, pretty boy, whose hair his mother could not yet bring herself to cut. She circled the mound in the centre of the garden, and pulled Circus up tightly at the steps. He reared at the suddenness of the check. Indiana sank forward on his neck, spent with her ride, and circled his head with her arms.
"No more tricks, Circus," she murmured. "The show's over; we're just beat out, Circus." Glen took her in his arms, and lifted her bodily off the horse. A stable boy led him away. His shining black coat was covered with flecks of foam.
"Give me a drink, someone!" said Indiana.
"Not now, Indiana," pleaded Mrs. Stillwater, "you're so warm."
"I'm parched, I tell you," said Indiana, stamping her foot, and pressing her hand to her throat.
Glen ran quickly to the well, and returned with the tin cup, which he held to Indiana's lips.
"Slowly," he said, holding the cup.
"It's warm," she said, snatching the cup, and spilling the remainder of the water.
"Why didn't you stop for me?" asked Glen.
"I wanted to ride alone," answered Indiana, sinking down on the step. "I wanted to think—"
"Think," echoed Stillwater.
"Think," repeated Mrs. Bunker. "Writing a book, Indiana?"
"Think!" said Glen. "If Indiana's taking these notions, I guess I'd better say good bye." He put on his cap.
"Don't mind them, darling," said Mrs. Stillwater. She drew Indiana's head down on her shoulder, feeling her hot cheeks and forehead solicitously.
"She's so warm—"
"What's the use of riding yourself out like that, Indiana?" said Mrs. Bunker.
"Grandma Chazy," cried Indiana, starting up. "I'd rather have one mad gallop like that if it were the death of me, than take a slow gait for the rest of my life."
"Indiana!" exclaimed Mrs. Stillwater.
"That's only the sporting spirit in her, mother," said Stillwater. "She comes by it honestly." He smiled as he recalled a few venturesome dealings of his own within the last year, which had not culminated as he would have wished. Stillwater was one of the men who could enjoy a laugh at his own expense.
"There was a devil in me, this morning," said Indiana, fiercely, "and I just rode it down."
"That's only young blood, mother. You can't expect her to be the same as we old-timers." He glanced slyly at Mrs. Bunker, who poked him with her needle.
"I was on the war path," said Indiana. "If I hadn't gone out with Circus, I—I—well, you'd have just scattered, that's all."
"Bet yer life," chuckled Stillwater.
"Is my dress finished?" asked Indiana, burying her face in the pink and white folds on Mrs. Stillwater's lap.
"Just a stitch or two more, dear. I've been working on it all morning."
"It looks so nice and cool. I want to put it on."
"So you shall, dear," said Mrs. Stillwater, in the tone one uses to a fractious baby.
"Just leave my hair alone, Glen," exclaimed Indiana, turning suddenly around on him, with flashing eyes.
"All right, Indiana," he said, meekly.
"Come now, darling; come up stairs and when you've had your bath, I'll dress you up and brush your hair nicely. It's all tangled."
"I didn't mean to be cross, Glen," said Indiana, with a sudden change of mood, as Mrs. Stillwater took her hand and led her through the kitchen.
"Oh, that's all right, Indiana!"
Glen Masters had known Indiana all her life. When she was born, the six-year old Glen came to see the baby, and stood by her cradle, sucking his thumb in solemn-eyed wonder. Not having any brothers or sisters of his own, he adopted her immediately; and he loved to be tyrannized over by the petted baby girl, who kicked and scratched him one minute, and the next caressed him with her little, soft, fat palms. His father had risen in the world very much the same way as Stillwater. They had been ranchmen together.
Stillwater lit a meerschaum pipe and puffed it slowly. Glen followed his example.
"There's two birds building a nest up in that sycamore," said Stillwater. "Hear them twitter? They're just as happy as can be."
Glen lounged on the step, looking dreamily up at the sky.
"Well, how are things going on over at the farm?" inquired Stillwater.
"Oh, we'll show some livestock at the County Fair that can't be beat." His eyes smiled a challenge at Stillwater.
"No competition," chuckled Stillwater, "but just you come over to the barn. I want to show you something. 'Farming ain't no fad with Friend Masters,' but I'll meet him at Phillipi."
"When you men once get with the livestock, that's the last we see of you. Dinner's ready as soon as Indiana's dressed," said Mrs. Bunker, as they sauntered off laughing.
It was the custom of the family to partake of dinner farm style, in the large kitchen. The first bell, which Kitty rang daily, was for the family, the second summoned the farm hands.
Glen and Stillwater, by chance, not by any intention of punctuality, emerged from the farm, just as the first bell resounded from the house. It was then that Glen thought fit to stop and utter a very vital question.
"Mr. Stillwater, I want to ask you what you think of my chances with—with Indiana?"
Glen was oblivious to the fact that he had not chosen a very propitious time or spot, to broach such a subject. The dinner bell had just sounded and Mr. Stillwater had been working since five o'clock that morning, to gain an appetite. Then, the mid-day sun poured down on them where they stood, and an Indiana sun is hot in May.
"Your chances with Indiana?" The repetition was merely a subterfuge to gain time, as Indiana's father had not the remotest idea how to answer her young suitor. Glen's preference had been an open secret for a long time; but he had never openly broached the subject, not even to Indiana.
"Oh—oh, I think they're all right, my boy—why shouldn't they be?" Stillwater looked about him as though challenging earth and heaven to contradict.
"That's exactly what I think," said Glen, grasping the other's hand. "Why shouldn't they be?"
Stillwater's heart sank as he looked into the young fellow's glowing, hopeful eyes. He strongly suspected that Indiana would not accept her old playmate in the character of a lover. But he could not bring himself to tell Glen this. He felt deeply for the son of his oldest friend.
"I've known her all her life, Mr. Stillwater," said Glen, as though this was a fact unknown to Stillwater.
"Is that so, my boy?" said Stillwater, accepting the information seriously.
"And it is my conviction that I understand her better than anyone living; better even than yourself!"
"You do?" said Stillwater. "Well, that's wonderful!"
"It is, and that's why I don't see how Indiana could marry anyone else."
"Anyone else but you?" repeated Stillwater with deference.
"Precisely; anyone else but me. Can't you see it yourself? A stranger wouldn't understand her. He wouldn't have the remotest idea how to treat her. I know all her faults."
"Are you positive about that?"
"Well, it's a great thing to know the worst beforehand."
"Then I can rely on your co-operation in this matter, Mr. Stillwater?"
"You can," said Mr. Stillwater. "I'd like to see it. I've known you from a little lad and you're the son of my oldest friend. I'm with you—you can figure what that's worth." He himself knew how little his wishes would weigh with his opiniative little daughter, in such a case. Glen also realized that fact only too well. What they said was merely a matter of form. They both felt there was a certain etiquette attendant on the subject. "Thank you, Mr. Stillwater. I'm glad to think you consider me a proper husband for Indiana."
"Don't mention it, my boy! and now, I want to give you a little advice. Don't spring anything on Indiana!"
Glen looked at him inquiringly.
"Don't be too sudden—"
"Indiana has already received several offers, but I don't believe anyone of them was a shock to her," answered Glen dryly. He thought also, "How can a fellow be sudden with a girl he's known ever since she had short, yellow rings curling all over her head, and wasn't sure on her feet."
"She expected those offers, but she never dreams of such a thing from you."
"No, I don't suppose she does," said Glen, gloomily.
"Of course, we can't tell anything about her. One never knows what sort of a notion Indiana's going to take. I don't want to discourage you—but don't stake your whole life on this thing, my boy. It won't do—it never does."
Glen drew a deep breath, and turned his head away.
"Put your cap on! The sun's hotter than July."
"Oh, Manila has schooled me to this—and worse, if it comes." He compressed his lips, and gazed ahead, past the farm, to the utmost line of horizon, and beyond that.
"You're a true soldier, my boy. Face the music—we've all got to, sooner or later."
The dinner bell rang again with menace in its brassy tones.
"We'd better go back to the house. They'll give us Hail Columbia! Brace up, Glen, and remember—I'm with you!"
Over on the farm-house porch Mrs. Bunker was saying to Kitty: "It's the last of those men, once they get with the live-stock."
"Here they are," said Kitty. "Why, Mr. Stillwater! Dinner's ready long ago."
"Don't get excited, Kitty; keep cool. This is the hot part of the day. Do you observe that the sun has approached its meridian, Kitty? No occasion for rush here. Rest and quiet, Kitty—that's my cure. Say, look at Indiana! Isn't she the sweetest thing that ever happened?"
She peeped from behind her mother, dressed in the simple pink and white dimity. Her hair had been smoothly brushed, and hung in one long braid. She looked like a fair and happy child, of not more than fifteen; laughing, refreshed from sleep. Glen gazed at her, but said nothing. His recent confession to Indiana's father, had the effect of making him conscious and tongue-tied. There was a large orchard on the farm, where lay the afternoon shade. The family repaired there, according to the daily custom, as soon as dinner was over. Hammocks hung in the trees and Kitty spread shawls on the ground, and brought pillows galore.
Glen sat in the midst of the group, tuning his mandolin, which he kept at the farm. Glen and his mandolin were associated. All invitations issued to him included the clause, "Bring your mandolin!" He seldom made a social visit without it, except on doleful occasions, such as funerals or visits of condolence.
He was hailed with joy whenever he appeared with his frank smile and his mandolin. In the West, there is a keen appreciation of impromptu pleasure.
In the orchard the fruit trees had fully blossomed, the grass was still a young, tender green. Through the masses of delicate pink and white color, shone here and there, glimpses of the exquisite blue sky. There is little to admire, as far as scenery is concerned, in this flat country, over which one can travel for miles without seeing a rolling meadow, or a sign of a hill. But one can rave over the skies of Indiana, sometimes brilliantly, sometimes softly tenderly blue. Their peculiar azure is not reproduced in any other country of the world. The color ran out when the skies of Indiana were painted, and never renewed, in order that they should remain unique. The secret belongs to the Universe.
"The blossoms are commencing to fall," said Mrs. Stillwater, shaking three or four petals off her work. Her hands were never idle, and they were now manipulating some fleecy white wool. "What a pity it can't always be like this—the trees look so beautiful. I could content myself here all summer—"
"Well, I won't say that," said Mrs. Bunker. "There's no place hotter on earth, than Indiana in summer. But if it would always be as pleasant as now—I like the seashore in July—"
"You mean," interrupted Stillwater, lying under a low-spreading apple tree, with a handkerchief spread over his face, "that you like the 'life' at the seashore. There's no affinity between you and the ocean that I know of."
"Well, have it that way, if you will. I like 'the life at the seashore.'"
Mrs. Bunker looked defiantly up from the red rose which she was embroidering, with a little less energy perhaps, than in the morning. "Particularly, as we are buried alive in the Adirondacks during August, September and October."
"Buried alive!" Mrs. Bunker looked around triumphantly, enjoying the sensation her words had occasioned. Indiana had thrown down her book which she was reading, lying on her back. Glen stopped thrumming pensive snatches of melody. Mrs. Stillwater gave her mother a startled glance and Stillwater threw the handkerchief from his face and raised himself to a sitting posture.
"Well, I never saw such a woman! Buried alive! Buried—why, you have the camp filled with company. Didn't I have to put up tents for them last year; the place looked as if there was an army bivouacing on it—"
"Oh, yes; I can make a good time for myself wherever I am—but when we're alone there—it's so still, I'm afraid of the sound of my own voice, and jump for joy if I see a chipmunk peeping out of its hole. There's something spry about them, at all attempts. The natives would do well to imitate them. Such a slow lot—and those guides with their drawling voices. The world just stops, when you get up to the Adirondacks."
"I'm never so happy," remarked Glen, "as when I'm in the forests and on those lakes. It's the real thing. City life goes against my grain, somehow."
"I always feel quite natural in the woods," said Indiana. "Just as though I belonged there, with the other wild things."
"When did those English friends of yours say they were coming up, grandma?" inquired Mr. Stillwater, in a muffled voice, having again taken shelter under the handkerchief, after recovering from the last of the many shocks he was in the habit of receiving from his mother-in-law.
"They said September, but I have a shrewd idea they'll get tired of travelling before then. They may arrive the latter part of August. They'll be glad to see a little home life once more."
"Friends of yours, Mrs. Bunker?" inquired Glen, with a slight frown.
"Yes; Lord Canning and his uncle, Lord Nelson Stafford. They belong to a representative noble English family. I met them at Cannes last year—"
"Lord Canning is a very distinguished looking gentleman," said Mrs. Stillwater.
"His face inspires trust, if I'm not mistaken," remarked her husband.
"I promised to show him the sights," said Indiana, with a mischievous smile.
"How kind and disinterested of you," remarked Glen, in a very sarcastic voice.
"What do you mean by that?" demanded Indiana.
"I mean you intended to make an impression on him, by the time you were through with the sights," answered Glen, with a pale face.
"And supposing I did," said Indiana, provokingly. "It wouldn't be the first time I have made an impression, nor will it be the last."
"Oh, well, I suppose you must have someone to flirt with," said Glen, resignedly.
"Now, children, don't quarrel! You know what that New York oracle said: 'Rest and quiet.'"
"I never flirted with you," said Indiana.
"I should hope not," answered Glen, in a very dignified manner.
"What do you mean by that?"
"I mean that I intend to be taken seriously, or not at all."
They all gasped at this temerity from such an unexpected quarter. Stillwater peeped at Indiana from under the corner of his handkerchief.
"No man has ever yet dictated to me," said Indiana, majestically.
"It's more than I'd do," murmured Stillwater.
"Men are generally only too glad if I will tolerate them on any terms," continued Indiana.
"Well, I'm not like others; but never mind, Indiana—that's true enough—I ought to be glad to be tolerated on any terms." He smiled resignedly around on the circle. He was afraid he had gone too far. At all events, their little skirmishes generally ended this way. Indiana felt a slight misgiving as she took up her book again. Glen, her slave and comrade, was one person, but Glen, who wished to be taken seriously, with a pale set face and glowing eyes, was another.
"What are you making, ma?" inquired Stillwater.
"A little woolen cape, with a darling hood attached, for Indiana. Just to put on her when she's roaming after dinner in the mountains. It's so chilly there, when the sun goes down."
"You're always making something for her," said Stillwater.
"She's the best mother I ever had," remarked Indiana, proudly fingering her little dimity skirt.
Mrs. Stillwater blushed with happiness, and looked with almost tearful love on this child, who showed such unparalleled appreciation of her mother's efforts.
"Sing 'My Georgia Lady Love,' Glen!" said Mrs. Bunker.
Glen struck a few notes on his mandolin and sang in a very pleasing baritone.
"My Georgia Lady Love, my Southern Queen,How your brown eyes do shine like stars above,There's not a girl can equal you,My Georgia Lady Love—Love."
"Kitty, you were never so welcome in your life," said Stillwater, as Kitty appeared with the tea-tray. She was followed by a farm-hand carrying a table and a camp-stool. Mrs. Bunker seated herself, and commenced pouring out the tea.
"Go ahead with the second verse, Glen!"
"One day I said, 'I love you, Sue,Believe me, gal, I will be true.'She slowly dropped her head,And then she softly said:'Mister Johnson, 'deed I loves you too.My Georgia Lady Love, my Southern Queen."
"There's a circus to-night," volunteered Kitty.
"Circus!" exclaimed Mrs. Bunker.
"Oh, I want to go," said Indiana.
"Let's stuff the big hay wagon full of straw and pillows," cried Mrs. Bunker. "It's full moon; we'll have a grand ride, eh, Ratio?"
Ratio looked visibly delighted.
"Well, you know what he said, 'Rest and quiet.'"
"Pa, you're forever quoting that old mummy," said Indiana. "He's like the ghost in Hamlet. It's settled; we'll go."
"Well, what's the matter, Kitty? Got anything on your mind?"
"No, sir; but Jim Tuttle's invited me to the circus, and I'd like to go, if the ladies don't object."
"Not at all, not at all," said Stillwater, with an amiable wave of his hand. Kitty left the orchard in high glee.
"She did well to ask you, instead of me, sly thing," said Mrs. Bunker. "That girl's too fond of pleasure."
"Now grandma—we were young ourselves, once."
"Speak for yourself, Ratio. I'm going to the kitchen to make some taffy. There's just enough time for it to cool. We'll take it along and give it to all the youngsters."
"Well, ma, there's a nice breeze blowing, the sun's going down. What do you say to a short spin?"
"Well, get ready. I'll have the buckboard here in five minutes." He rose, shaking off the blossoms which powdered his coat like snow.
"There's some on your hair, ma; they're so pretty."
Indiana rose lazily from the grass, also shaking off a shower of blossoms, and leaned against a low-spreading apple tree, extending her arms on the branches each side of her.
Glen gazed at her, still thrumming his mandolin.
"Do you think you'll come to Narragansett with us, this summer?" said Indiana, looking idly up through the branches.
"What for?" said Glen, gloomily. "To see you dance and flirt with a lot of—of simpering idiots."
Indiana laughed. Every time she moved, the blossoms fell upon her shoulders, neck and hair.
"Don't you like me to enjoy myself?"
"Not with other men."
"Oh, that's selfish!"
"Maybe," said Glen.
There was silence, broken only by the thrumming of the mandolin and the twitter of birds from the recesses of the trees.
"It's sad, the way those blossoms fall on you, Indiana."
Indiana shook the branches, and peeped out laughing through the thick shower which followed.
"You look like a part of the tree," said Glen. "Like a wood-sprite, a Dryad—or something."
"Or something," said Indiana, "is very illustrative to the mind."
"I like you best as you are here about the farm," continued Glen, watching her steadily with his dark eyes, and continuing his eternal thrumming. "Just as you are now, in that simple dress your mother made for you, with your hair hanging like that—I always liked your hair hanging—do you remember, Indiana?"
"Yes, you always liked it, Glen."
"It went rather hard with me, when you first put it up, and wore long dresses. It seemed as though that were going to be the end of all our good times."
"But it wasn't, Glen?"
"No; you were the same old Indiana, although you looked more—the woman. Then you discovered your own power, and you took to breaking hearts. You were very apt at that business, for one so young."
"You forget," said Indiana, with a sly smile, "there was Grandma Chazy."
"That's true. An old soldier in camp put you on to all the principal maneuvers."
They both laughed, looking around cautiously, like naughty children, as though Mrs. Bunker might be hiding somewhere among the trees.
"I fought shy of you for awhile, then—I was young and unworldly." From Glen's seriously reminiscent expression, he might have been looking back upon another self of twenty or thirty years ago. "And I could not justify your practices at that time. I don't know whether you noticed the difference in me?"
"Only that you made yourself scarce when there was anyone else around."
"I accepted the inevitable after a while; but when I see you in the midst of a crowd of men, dealing out dances and smiles, you appear to me like some stranger, with a marvellous resemblance to a girl I once played with, called Indiana. Here, in the country, and up in the Adirondacks you are the real Indiana."
"That's nonsense! We can't be girl and boy forever. There's something else in life—I suppose."
"What?" said Glen.
"I don't know," answered Indiana impatiently, "but it's individual. People must discover it for themselves—"
"Have you?" asked Glen.
"No," answered Indiana.
"I have," said Glen.
"This sort of life is all very well, but in order to develop, one must see the world, must be of the world. I don't believe in a groove."
"Your mother did," said Glen.
"How can you compare me to ma? She's the old-fashioned type, bless her heart!"
"Look at this day," said Glen irrelevantly. "I believe in enjoying what we have. This is one day out of life. There'll never be another like this—not just like this. The blossoms are going—"
"They'll come again, next year," said Indiana.
"Yes, but we may be different, that's the trouble. I'd like to keep this day—everything is so young and tender and spring-like—and you're part of it all. The sun sinking over there; the rosy clouds above our heads—there's a soft, pink light on the whole orchard—it's shining down, through the branches, on your face. I wish there was an artist—the best in the world—living hereabouts. I'd jump on my wheel, and bring him in a trice, with his color-box and his canvas. But it would be even too late—to catch this light. I'd have him paint the whole thing with you in the foreground, among the blossoms—that glow on your face. I'd call the picture, 'Indiana.'"
[Illustration: "I'd call the picture, 'Indiana.'"
(missing from book)]
"And you, Glen? You wouldn't be in it at all."
"I'd own the picture," said Glen.
A slight breeze swept through the orchard, bringing a snowy shower from the trees. There was a tinkling of bells, not far away.
"The cows have just come home," said Indiana. "Glen, what will you do with yourself this summer, if you don't go with us to Narragansett?"
"I'll stay with the folks, till you all go up to the camp. Then I'll join you on our old hunting grounds—if you want me—"
"Why!" exclaimed Indiana. "It wouldn't seem like the Adirondacks, if you weren't there."
Glen smiled gratefully.
"How are the folks?"
"Well, thanks. They were talking about you, to-day."
"I'll ride over there to-morrow."
"They'll be glad to see you. They love you just—just like a daughter."
"I like people to love me," said Indiana.
"So do I," answered Glen. He gazed around him. Nature so beautifully revealed just then, inspired him to speak. "There are not many days like this," he thought, "and now, it is measured by moments. Before it is over I will tell her!" He leaned over his mandolin, watching a little brown bug struggle through the grass, then he gazed upward. The rosy light still lingered on the orchard.
"Before it fades, I will ask her." Stillwater's caution recurred to him. "'Don't spring anything on Indiana!' He didn't make allowances for a moment like this," thought Glen. "He didn't think it was going to be such a day." He was very pale, and his fingers shook slightly as they laid the mandolin down on the grass.
"Do you think you could love me, Indiana?" he said, simply.
"Why, I've loved you all my life, Glen."
"I don't mean that way, Indiana." He took up his mandolin again, nervously.
"I don't know any other way, Glen," she answered, pitifully.
"Not now; but don't you think you could?"
"Try me; let's be engaged for a little while, then if you can't love me—"
"Glen, it's no use—I've known you too long."
"Indiana, you don't know what you're saying—you're killing me, Indiana!"
"Glen! Glen!" She threw herself down beside him, and smoothed and patted his hair, soothing him as though he had fallen and hurt himself. He seized her hands, and held them tightly.
"Life means nothing to me, without you, Indiana—you're the key to it. Look here; suppose I was given a beautiful book to read, in a foreign language—the greatest ever written—it would be mere print, wouldn't it? But suppose someone translated it for me, and all its beauty became suddenly revealed. You translate life for me that way, Indiana; don't you understand?"
"Yes, yes, Glen. But if I marry you, that will be the end. You're too much a part of the old life—"
"The old life, Indiana? Isn't that the best life?"
"Not for me."
"You don't know what you're saying. If I live to be a hundred, I want to live true to the old life, to the old ideals and the old truths, even the simple ones I learned at home, when I was a little lad."
"You're a good fellow, Glen; shake hands with me!"
"Won't you think about it, Indiana?"
"No, dear! I hate to say it—but I want to be straight with you. Something tells me it's not the right thing for us to marry. Don't say any more—don't try to persuade me—it's no use."
"All right, Indiana."
"Don't look like that, Glen! you'll break my heart. Life isn't over for you, because—of this. It's a beautiful world still—look at the blossoms, look at the day!"
"It's not the same," said Glen, holding his hand to his eyes. "It'll never be the same."
"Oh, yes, it will, dear; after a while. I don't want to lose you, Glen; you'll be my dear old friend still. Say you will!"
"Do you remember when I went to the war, Indiana? You gave me a lock of your hair, and I carried it over my heart. It was a charm, a little yellow lock—it brought me back to you alive. You cried when you gave it to me, and said, 'God keep you, Glen!'"
"And I say it now! Wherever we both happen to be, until I die, 'God keep you, Glen!'" She broke down, and sobbed on his breast.
He smoothed her hair mechanically, murmuring, "A little yellow lock—I carried it over my heart, always. They might have found it if I hadn't come back. I wish that I hadn't, now—I wish that I hadn't!"
"Glen! What are you saying?" She held her hand over his mouth. "We'll go on just the same; you mustn't say anything to the others. We'll keep our own secret, and you'll come to the camp this August?"
"It'll never be the same," repeated Glen, monotonously.
Suddenly they heard the sound of wheels, and Stillwater's voice shouting to Jim Tuttle.
"I must be getting home," said Glen stupidly, like a person just awakened from sleep.
"Why, aren't you going to the circus, Glen?"
"Don't break up the party!"
"All right, Indiana."
It was not a merry circus party, as far as the younger members were concerned, but the others were lively, and failed to see anything strange in their behaviour. Indiana asked someone to dare her to jump down in the ring, and ride better than the lady equestrian, but they all wisely refrained from doing so. Glen sat in the center of the wagon and tinkled his mandolin faithfully, for the amusement of the party. They dropped him at his own gate, to which they drove, singing hilariously, Kitty bringing up the rear in a buggy with Jim Tuttle.
"Hello, neighbor Stillwater!" called a voice from one of the farm-house windows.
"It's father," said Glen.
"Is this what you call 'rest and quiet?'"
"Well, I don't believe in too much of a good thing; good-night."
"Good-night; good luck to you all."
"Merrily we roll along," sang Mrs. Bunker.
Glen leaned against the gate after they had gone, listening to their voices in the distance.
"Have a good time, Glen?"
The window closed. Glen laughed bitterly, leaning against the gate; then the laugh changed to a sob.
"I don't want much, I ask so little, dear God; only Indiana."
"I'm tired of the model farm. I wouldn't care to spend another spring here."
"Indiana, your love of change will bode you no good, some day."
"I come by it honestly, Grandma Chazy—you're always on the go."
"Don't compare yourself to me, Indiana. I'm an old woman."
"You'd be hopping mad, if anyone else called you that."
"I can take a privilege which I wouldn't allow to others," said Mrs. Bunker, sweetly. "I mean I'm an old woman compared to you, Indiana; I have experience and discretion, to back up my roving spirit."
"Em—n!" said Indiana.
She was lying on a nest of pillows, reading, surrounded by dormer windows, in one of the upper rooms of the farm-house.
"Look at pa out there in the rain with his rubber coat and hat. He's a sight! Wonder if Glen will be over to-day."
"Appears to me, you're always looking for Glen."
"There's no one else to look for, here, is there?"
"Girls your age generally do attach themselves to the man who's around."
"I'm no more attached to Glen than I ever was. Everybody likes him. He's a good fellow."
"That's true. Do you think you'll marry him?"
"What's your opinion on that matter, Grandma Chazy?"
"I think you'd regret it all your life; he's only a boy."
"Yes, but he's a good fellow."
"You said that before."
Glen had kept away for a week or so after the moonlight circus party, and in that time became morbid and melancholy. Indiana dominated him completely. He racked his brain, hour after hour, trying to remember the exact words in which she had uttered such and such a remark, with her exact tone of voice and the exact expression of her eyes at the time. Sometimes in his sleep he heard her calling "Glen dear! Glen dear! Glen dear!" her childish name for him, in a helpless, frightened voice. He would awaken with a terrible fear that she might be ill or in trouble. Compared with this awful anxiety oppressing him in the night, his past misery seemed nothing. He resolved that if Indiana only kept well and happy he would ask nothing more of life. Again, he heard her laughing in his dreams, mockingly, tantalizingly; laughing, laughing, laughing, until his brain reeled, and he thought, "This is the laugh that drives men mad." Then, when taking bicycle rides on the moonlight nights of his week's absence, her face seemed to flash upon him suddenly in dark places, like that of a sweet ghost. Haunted like this, the idea of seeing her in reality once more was like the conventional promise of Heaven. He resolved to resume their old footing. "Indiana wishes it, and anything is better than not to see her." He appeared again at the model farm, humble and deferential to Indiana's slightest wish, grateful for her every look and word. With her tender heart and warm sympathies she pitied him intensely. She tried to establish their old comradeship. The loyal little soul hated to lose a friend.
Glen felt life was worth living once more. There is a magic flower, tiny, and blue as the sky. This is the forget-me-not bloom of hope. It sheds a sweet and subtle fragrance which enchants the soul, and charms the eyes, so that they see a wonderful light on all things. But when the flower perishes, there is an end to the spell. The glamour fades before the eyes, the soul is seized with an aching grief. But the witch-flower of hope will bloom again, if it is not plucked by the root.
"I'm getting a little bit tired of it myself, here," remarked Mrs. Bunker. "Well, it'll be time to pack up soon; I expect to enjoy myself this summer."
Indiana, watching the rain, forebore to answer. There were times when Mrs. Bunker's constant desire for pleasure rather palled on her.
Mid-summer at a fashionable seaside resort proved to be merely a repetition of other summers. Indiana enjoyed herself, after the manner of the young and thoughtless; dancing, bathing, flirting, and laughing. But after the glare of the sea and the kaleidoscope of life on the shore, after falling asleep every night to the echoes of the very latest dance music, mingled with the eternal dash of the waves, the woods beckoned her invitingly.
It was the middle of August before the Stillwater's were installed in the mountains. They arrived at the primitive station early in the morning, and were met by one of the two guides yearly engaged for the season. There was a large mountain wagon, without a cover, awaiting them, and a pair of fresh-looking ponies. Indiana jumped up nimbly, and took the reins, while Haller, the guide, packed in the rest of the family and Kitty, all looking rather sleepy, from their all-night travel. The other servants had preceded them by some days.
"All right!" shouted Indiana, starting at a brisk trot. It was only twenty minutes' drive from the station to a landing, where they were met by a trim little naptha launch with "The Indiana" painted newly, in bright letters, upon the prow. She puffed slowly up one of the largest lakes in the Adirondacks, buried in the very heart of the mountains. The latter are higher in this particular region, the scenery wilder than elsewhere. Nature had designed a beautiful color scheme from the lake; the rich, vivid green of the banks, fretted with enormous rocks and crags, the darker background of the immediate mountains, in their funereal dress of pine and balsam, and beyond the pale tracery of the distant ranges. It was a dull morning, and the grey atmosphere gave a touch of desolation to the wild environment of the lake.
"It's lonesome as the grave," said Mrs. Bunker. "Throw me that cape, please, Mr. Haller. I'm chilly."
"Yer be?" said Haller, with a certain contortion of his serious face, which was intended for a smile. "Waal, 'tis cool, mornin's."
"How are the evenings? Cold, I suppose?"
Haller cogitated for the space of five minutes. No one answers a question thoughtlessly in these regions; and after sojourning there some time, one learns not to interrogate at random. "Waal," he said at length, "'tis cool evenin's."
"None of the leaves have changed yet," said Indiana, after closely inspecting the banks on either side.
"No; they ain't changin'. Waal, thar's bin no frost, ter speak of—thar's bin no frost, ter speak of."
"Is it going to storm?" inquired Mrs. Stillwater, shivering, with a heavy plaid shawl wrapped about her.
Haller looked at the sky. "Waal, not yet awhile."
"Indiana, your hat!" cried Mrs. Bunker. A gust of wind had torn it off her head. Haller deftly rescued it from the lake and restored it to Indiana in a dripping condition. She sat bare-headed, enjoying the outlook, the moist wind blowing her hair in large rings around her face.
"We're in for it," said Mrs. Bunker. When they started, the lake had been grey and calm. Now, it was gradually darkening, and dotted here and there with white-caps.
"Are yer skeert?" said Haller, looking at Mrs. Bunker with one of his contortions.
"No," retorted Mrs. Bunker, sharply, "but I want to get to the camp."
"Waal, we're goin' there," said Haller, calmly.
In a little while they came in sight of the boat-house, elaborately rustic, and pretty in design. Near it was planted an enormous flag-staff, from which waved a white flag bearing the name "Camp Indiana" in red letters.
Camp Indiana, christened after the only daughter of the owner, was the usual log structure, but capacious in dimensions, with a luxurious interior. There were many adjuncts in the way of out-buildings and summer-houses, glimpses of which could be caught between the trees. The camp owed much to art, but rejoiced in one supreme, natural beauty. This was a giant balsam tree which Stillwater could not bring himself to cut, and, therefore, had been used in the construction of the camp itself. The huge trunk supported the balcony, and the lower branches were entwined in the rustic railing. Thence it rose, screening the front windows up to the very roof, above which it towered paternally. Birds innumerable made their homes in the branches, and chipmunks in the moss-covered trunk. Every summer the little creatures ran nimbly along the lower limbs, peeping curiously at the sharers of their home; and young birds, essaying to fly, met with mishaps and fell into the camp with broken wings and legs. The latter were a great solicitude to Indiana. She nursed them carefully, with a knowledge founded on similar cases in the Rocky Mountains. There, she had gained much experience with birds and animals.
Though it was blowing strongly on the lake, there was no wind at the camp. No matter how the elements rage, there is quiet among the trees, except for a sighing whisper, to which one could fall asleep.
"Em—n!" said Mrs. Bunker, taking a survey when she reached the balcony. "Enough to give one the blues."
There was a huge deer-head over the entrance, a trophy of Stillwater's first year in the Adirondacks. The large hall was decorated with many other trophies from the Rocky Mountains and elsewhere. Wild skins of every description strewed the polished floors throughout the camp. Logs crackled brightly in the great, deep fire-place of the hall, as they entered, emitting an odor of pine. The large, brown eyes of an elk gazed beneath the branching antlers mildly down on the fire. A short, wide flight of stairs was broken by a balcony over the hall. From the railing hung an antique, Persian silk rug, upon which the fire played richly. Beneath the stair-case and each side of the fire-place were deep niches, comfortably furnished with pillows, of which red was the prevailing tone. Graceful jars of old pottery decorated the shelves above, with here and there a brilliant cluster of peacock's feathers, or the rich plumage of a stuffed bird, to relieve the dullness of the clay. This decoration was repeated in all the lower rooms, of which there were many, one opening into the other, giving a vista of fire-lit interiors, the flames catching an occasional flash of color from a red pillow or an Oriental scarf hanging carelessly from a shelf. The camp resounded to the crackling of logs with the accompanying, healthy perfume of the burning pine. Indiana ran through all the rooms, looking out of every window upon the lake. Those of her own room opened directly into the balsam tree which ornamented the front of the camp. This room had been built entirely of white maple. There was simple furniture of the same wood. The gleaming white walls and ceiling served as a background for a continuous Bacchanalian dance of shadows, cast by the branches of the giant balsam screening the windows. Here, also, logs crackled cheerily in a deep, wide fireplace, tiled with white onyx, which reflected the flames in fitful opaline gleams. White bear rugs strewed the floor. Indiana, as she looked around her, had visions of frosty, October mornings, when she had put her feet unwillingly out of bed into the warm fur, and hopped over the intervening space of cold floor to the fire. She remembered awakings, when a breath of balsam air swept like a cool hand across her forehead. Open windows and fires were Mr. Stillwater's strict injunctions at the camp. Indiana, for one, obeyed him. She had often opened her eyes to see a chipmunk sitting on its haunches, regarding her curiously. And birds were in the habit of flying around her little nest and out again to their own nest in the tree. She stood for a moment by the fire with a sense of glad content to be once more in this white, balsam-scented room. Then she ran into her mother's room, and into that reserved for Glen. On the mantel were portraits of his mother and father. They had insisted on his leaving some of his belongings there last year, saying that if he did so, he would be sure to come again. Indiana inspected the portraits. "I'm glad they're here," she thought. "It'll be a welcome for him."
Mrs. Bunker stood warming her hands by the hall fire. "The dampness isn't off the rooms yet."
"They've bin closed s'long, yer see," said Haller, lighting his pipe in the doorway. "Waal, I opened up everything, lettin' in the sun, soon as I knowed yer was comin'."
"Now that he's lit his pipe," thought Mrs. Bunker, "it won't go out while we're here."
He stalked leisurely through the rooms, throwing a fresh log on every fire, and looking about proudly, as though he could well be congratulated upon his preparations.
"Everything looks very nice, Henry," said Mrs. Stillwater, "just as if we left yesterday."
Another pipe saluted Mrs. Bunker at the entrance. It belonged to the second guide, who was somewhat brisker in appearance than Haller.
"Waal, haow d'ye find things lookin', ma'am?" he said, with a cheery laugh.
"They're looking all right, William," answered Mrs. Bunker, graciously. She liked him better than Haller, who had an irritating effect on her.
"Will it be a good season for deer?" said Indiana, running down the stairs.
William puffed slowly and seriously.
"It's going ter be a good season for deer," he said.
"Oh, I hope so," exclaimed Mrs. Bunker. "I promised those Englishmen good hunting."
"If they come, there'll be good hunting, Grandma Chazy," said Indiana, moving close to her, and looking significantly into her eyes. Mrs. Bunker laughed vivaciously.
"Ther' comin' down ter drink," volunteered William.
"Already!" exclaimed Indiana, with a laughing glance at Mrs. Bunker.
"Waal, thar' ain't bin no rain ter speak of—the springs is dryin' up on the mauntings."
"Y—es!" corroborated Haller, joining them with Mrs. Stillwater. "Ther comin' down ter the lakes."
"Poor things!" said Mrs. Stillwater.
"Do you pity them, Grandma Chazy?" whispered Indiana, "I don't mean the deer."
"Not I," said Mrs. Bunker. "Wholesale slaughter isn't the word."
Glen joined them soon after their arrival, but not before Indiana had written him a special letter inviting him to come. He had a certain pride where she was concerned. They roamed the woods together, renewing acquaintance with all their old haunts, or rowed and fished on the lake for hours with Haller and William. Mrs. Bunker and her daughter did not share their enthusiasm for these sports. They enjoyed the lake only in pleasant weather, when they made trips in "The Indiana" with a guide. Sometimes they were met at the landing by the comfortable and airy mountain wagon and the fresh mountain ponies, to take them for one of the beautiful drives in which that county abounded. Occasionally, Indiana and Glen would join them, changing off with the reins.
"I'd like to write to the Smiths," said Mrs. Bunker, one morning. "I promised to invite them up here. But you're so half-hearted about it, Indiana. All you care for is to roam about with Glen." She was standing on the balcony of the boat-house, and did not see Glen below on the dock. He smiled grimly.
"I can't blame her for one, Mrs. Bunker," he called up, good humoredly.
Indiana laughed. She was sitting in a boat. After having assumed several positions in order to ship water, she was now very busy bailing it out with a large sponge.
"No offense, Glen," said Mrs. Bunker.
"None whatever," returned Glen, emerging, and bowing elaborately.
"The two of you are like a couple of Indians," she continued.
"Here's Haller with the mail," cried Indiana. He rowed swiftly towards them in a light, narrow guide-boat. Indiana took the letters.
"I brought a letter for yer," shouted Haller to Mrs. Bunker.
"Then why didn't you deliver it?" answered Mrs. Bunker sharply.
"She tuk it," he answered, chuckling.
Indiana stood up in the boat, balancing herself admirably, and flung the letter to Mrs. Bunker, then sat down examining the other letters and papers in her lap.
"Nothing for you, Glen."
He overturned a boat and seated himself upon it, smoking a pipe. Naturally dark, he was burnt several shades darker, from his hair to the loose, open collar of his flannel shirt.
"You're sitting right in the water, Indiana. Your feet must be soaking wet. Your mother ought to see you."
Indiana looked at him with a laugh. He remembered her blue eyes had given him that same arch glance as a child, when he had discovered her in some act of mischief.
"You always liked to put your feet in the puddles," he said.
"Yes, I always had a passion for puddles. As Grandma Chazy would say, 'it'll bode me no good, some day.'"
"It's from Lord Stafford," cried Mrs. Bunker.
"Indeed!" said Indiana, affecting an English accent.
"They'll be with us in a few days, Indiana."
"Charmed!" said Indiana, standing up in the boat, and screwing up her face in imitation of Lord Stafford with his monocle.
Glen laughed heartily at the expense of Mrs. Bunker's English friends.
"That's great, Indiana."
"You little rogue," cried Mrs. Bunker, "I won't have you ridicule my friends. Oh, I'm so delighted. You'll find them lovely company."
"Ya—a—as," drawled Indiana, with a bored expression, "delighted, I'm—" the rest was finished in the water, the boat capsizing suddenly. Indiana was near enough to the dock to throw out an arm to Glen, and he drew her up laughing, but drenched.
"I knew you'd do it, Indiana," cried Mrs. Bunker.
Indiana, still clinging to Glen, as the dock was slippery, smiled faintly, putting her hand to her side.
"You didn't hurt yourself, did you, Indiana?" said Glen, anxiously.
"I twisted my side a little—I wanted to save myself, as I fell—that's all."
"What did she do, Glen?" called Mrs. Bunker.
Glen lifted her up in his arms, and carried her up to the camp.
"It was a punishment for making fun of people, wasn't it, Glen?" she said, lifting her little wet face from his breast. "Serves me right, don't it, Glen?"
"No, dear," he said, tenderly.
She tightened her arms about his neck. "You always took care of me, Glen," she said, childishly. His heart beat violently against the little soaking bundle. It was on his lips to say, "I always will, if you'll only let me, Indiana." But he refrained. Still, as he climbed, he felt he was mounting the goal where his heart could rest.
Mrs. Stillwater ran anxiously to meet them.
"It's nothing, Mary," cried Mrs. Bunker, "she was cutting up some of her pranks, and fell into the water."
"Just rub her side," said Glen, delivering his burden, "she sprained it a little, falling, and put some dry clothes on her. You feel all right, don't you, Indiana?"
"Yes, Glen; thank you," said Indiana, meekly.
Mrs. Bunker often remarked, "Indiana's always good, when she's sick."
"Now, Indiana," said that lady, after her granddaughter had been duly dried and dressed. "Shall I read you the rest of the letter?"
"Yes," said Indiana, lying on a couch before the fire.
"'We have enjoyed our tour exceedingly. My nephew has accumulated much information which will prove of scientific value—'"
"Oh, he's that sort, is he?" said Glen, who was seated in a niche by the fire. He rose, knocking the ashes from his pipe, and sauntered out on the balcony.
"Jealous already!" said Mrs. Bunker. Indiana laughed, looking into the fire.
"Go on with the letter, Grandma Chazy."
Glen looked up into the giant balsam. A chipmunk sat on one of the branches, watching him. It was one which he and Indiana had succeeded in making quite tame. He searched in his pocket for a nut. "Chip, chip, chip!" he called, holding out his hand. Indiana's words echoed in his ears. "You always took care of me, Glen," with all the innocent trust that they conveyed. "She's known me all her life," he thought, "there's no going against that. Now these Englishmen will come and spoil everything." He puffed savagely on his pipe, still holding out the nut to the chipmunk, who approached nearer and nearer. "I'll have to take a back seat, now, I suppose. I guess I'll get out of the way, altogether, for a little while. That'll suit me better." He caught sight of Haller, below, planting ferns. "Halloa!" he called.
Haller regarded him interrogatively.
"Any guides at liberty?"
Haller pulled thoughtfully on his pipe. Meanwhile the chipmunk grabbed the nut, and disappeared.
"Little rascal," said Glen.
"Tell him I want him for a week or two."
The morning of the day when Mrs. Bunker expected her guests, Glen signified his intention of a temporary departure.
"Why, you are not going to leave us, Glen?" asked Mrs. Stillwater, innocently.
"Oh, I'm just going off for a little sport."
"And when will you be back, Glen?"
"Oh, I'll be back in a week or so."
"I think it's real mean of you, Glen," said Indiana, pouting, "just as we're expecting company, and men, too—and Pa isn't here."
"Oh, there won't be any deficiency. Mrs. Bunker will see to that."
"You're right! There won't be any deficiency," and she added sweetly, "though I don't like to see you go."
"Thank you, Mrs. Bunker. Here's Burt for me, now." Burt was a blonde, stalwart young fellow, about Glen's own age. He rowed swiftly toward the boat-house, smoking the inevitable pipe. When he landed, he strapped one of those deep baskets the guides carry for provisions, on his back, and climbed up to the camp. Mrs. Stillwater hurried down to the kitchen, to assure herself that Glen was well provided for on his trip.
They all descended to the lake to see him go. When Indiana saw the accoutrements for departure; the fishing tackle, guns, and tent rigging, she commenced to envy the two young fellows going off together, and felt rather ill used to be left behind, to do the tame work of entertaining. Glen read her face, and was inwardly delighted.
"We're going to have a rare, good time, Indiana."
"I believe you," said Indiana, ruefully.
"Do you think there'll be enough provisions, Glen?" inquired Mrs. Stillwater, anxiously.
Glen laughed. The laugh was echoed by Haller and William, who were assisting in the ceremony of seeing the young men off.
"We'll have plenty of game, and Burt's as fine as any French cook."
Burt took his pipe from his mouth with a flattered smile and a blush. He was as shy as some young girls.
"We'll feed on the delicacies of the season. And there's the canned stuff, which we'll reserve for emergencies." He grasped Mrs. Stillwater's hand.
"Don't you be afraid, Mrs. Stillwater. We won't starve."
"Oh, he won't starve, ma'am. I'll see to that," said Burt.
"When we're hungry, we'll come home." They both laughed heartily.
"Do you think there'll be good sport, Burt?" said Indiana.
Burt, sitting in the boat, arranging his paraphernalia, looked at her admiringly.
"There'll be sport," he replied.
"Oh, Glen; are you going to take your mandolin?"
"Why not? It'll cheer us up nights, by the fire."
Burt grinned in visible delight.
"Well, I won't say good-bye for such a short time." He shook them all by the hand. "Take care of yourselves."
"Good-bye, Glen—no, I won't say good-bye. I hope you'll have a good time, and come home safe."
"Thank you, Indiana." He waved his hat to all and jumped into the boat. Haller pushed them off.
Indiana ran down to the end of the dock and threw her arms out to Glen. "Oh, take me along!"
Burt stopped rowing.
"All right," said Glen, "there's room for you; will you come?"
"Yes," said Indiana.
"We'll take care of her, Mrs. Stillwater; won't we, Burt?"
"Why, of course," said Burt. "She won't starve—I'll see to that."
"Be off, the pair of you!" cried Mrs. Bunker. Burt took the oars again, laughing, while Glen flourished his cap, looking at Indiana, and Haller and William shouted sportsman's jokes from the shore.
"There they go," said Indiana, waving her handkerchief. She then sat down on the dock, watching the boat grow smaller and smaller. The strains of the mandolin floated to them over the water.
"Indiana, you look as though you hadn't a friend left. If I thought as much of a person as that, I wouldn't let him out of my sight."
"Well, Grandma Chazy, Glen's my best friend."
"And look at your mother! She's actually crying."
"Well, I hated to see him going off like that—I—I'm so fond of him."
"Ma's a good soul," cried Indiana, jumping up and throwing herself into Mrs. Stillwater's arms. "Yes, she is."
"Well, I am not disputing that, Indiana."
"He was so set on going," said Mrs. Stillwater, holding Indiana to her. "I think it was because of those Englishmen. He don't like strangers."
"A pity about him," retorted Mrs. Bunker, sharply. "Does he want to monopolize Indiana altogether? He went because he might be of some use for once. He could have livened things up a little nights with his mandolin, but I wouldn't give him the satisfaction of saying so. Well, I'm just as well pleased. He might have been unmannerly or bearish."
"Not Glen!" said Indiana.
"Oh, Glen," repeated Mrs. Bunker, imitating her. Haller, who was washing out "The Indiana" and observing at the same time, gave vent to a long guffaw. Mrs. Bunker looked at him crossly. "I can't bear that Haller," she said, as they climbed up to the camp. "He's always making faces at me."
"When you think he's making faces, he's only smiling, I tell you," said Indiana. "He's a fine guide; what more do you want?"
"Wear your red dress to-night, Indiana," said Mrs. Bunker, ignoring this last remark.
"I think white is so much prettier for a young girl," suggested Mrs. Stillwater.
"Yes, that's the conventional thing," said Mrs. Bunker. "Well, let her look like a bread and butter miss—I have no objection."
"I don't want to look like a bread and butter miss," interrupted Indiana.
"Wear what your mother wishes, Indiana."
"Oh, I'm satisfied with anything," apologetically murmured Mrs. Stillwater. "Let the child please herself." She looked questioningly at her daughter. The latter, looking very self-important, declined to commit herself just then.
"Take your finger out of your mouth, Indiana," said Mrs. Bunker, sharply. "It's time you stopped that baby habit."
Indiana, whenever she was making a decision of any kind, still put her finger in her mouth as a help to thought.
Later, in her granddaughter's room, Mrs. Bunker said in the voice of an oracle. "Take my advice and wear your red silk, Indiana."
"He won't think it's loud?" asked Indiana.
"You're too much of a child to look loud in anything. But it will be so effective and a little audacious. That's what takes. He'll be sure to see you in that dress." And, as she went, she fired a last injunction, "wear your red silk; it'll hit him right in the eye."
Meanwhile the travellers were approaching their destination. They had compared the Hudson River with the Thames and the Rhine, and were now watching the forest tracts and the streams choked with logs awaiting the elements.
"Uncle Nelson," said Lord Canning, "this is the first time in my rememberance that I have visited people I did not know well, in a country I have never seen."
Lord Stafford glanced sleepily at his nephew from under his tweed travelling cap. They were in the smoking car. "There's a charm about everything fresh and new," he murmured. "That's what you're always saying, Thurston."
"There certainly is," said the other, eagerly. "I realize it in this fresh, young, healthy country. It has given me many new sensations. I felt quite old when I first came here—"
"Old!" repeated Lord Stafford. "You?"
"Just turned forty, my hair commencing to grey." Lord Canning laughed, and then sighed. "Yes," he continued, smoking thoughtfully, "there is nothing like fresh scenes. They give new food for the mind—another impetus to life—a man like myself needs such a stimulus—if I should continue to rust in England, I would shortly become—antiquated. Do you notice that the trees are for the most part conical in shape, Uncle Nelson?"
"You always were a restless character, Thurston."
"Nature designed me for an explorer."
"You'll never be satisfied until you undertake that expedition to the pole—"
"A new interest should arise in my life—necessarily something very absorbing."
"I know of nothing, except—perhaps—a woman. And as for that, every mamma in England has despaired of you."
Lord Canning laughed heartily, and his uncle yawned and closed his eyes, considering he had satisfactorily disposed of the subject.
"We are strangers to our host," recommenced Lord Canning, after a short survey of the vanishing prospect. "The invitation was necessarily off-hand, but very hearty."
"They do everything in an off-hand way, over here," said Lord Stafford, "at least, so it seems to me."
"We have been travelling too much to judge very correctly of manners and customs," answered his nephew. "And have we met the entire family?"
"I believe so."
"Mrs. Bunker!" exclaimed Lord Stafford, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. "Isn't she a lively woman?"
"Mr. and Mrs. Stillwater and daughter."
"The little girl," said Lord Stafford, sinking back on the cushions, "the little, blonde girl, who had plenty to say for herself."
"She did not really say so much," returned Lord Canning, taking out another cigar. "It was how she said it."
"Well, she conveyed the impression that she was not backward," remarked Lord Stafford.
"By the way, Uncle," the younger man lit his cigar, laughing amusedly. "Did I ever tell you of a peculiar dream I once had?"
"About Miss Stillwater."
"Have you been dreaming about that little girl?"
"Didn't I tell you? I thought I had."
"Ha, ha, ha! You've been dreaming about little Miss Stillwater—that's rich."
"Well, wait until you hear it. Then you'll have good reason to laugh. It was quite too absurd."
"The night before we started for the West—the night we met Mrs. Bunker at the Waldorf Hotel, in New York—"
"Mrs. Bunker—one never knows what that woman is going to say next—she is so—"
"She introduced us to the family, and Miss Stillwater and I had some conversation—not much, but quite enough, as you will see—about bears."
"She had been used to shooting them, in the Rocky Mountains."
"The little girl—the blonde one?"
"The little blonde one," repeated Lord Canning, with a softer intonation. "Well, I dreamt I saw her riding on the back of a grizzly, over the highest peak of the Rocky Mountains. She was in full evening dress, and on seeing me, she hilariously waved a bunch of hyacinths—she carried those flowers the night I met her."
"Mrs. Bunker had carnations—I took one—ha, ha, ha!"
"I was on my knees examining strata. When I saw the lady riding towards me, I rose and bowed profoundly. But she returned my polite salute by throwing her bouquet directly in my face—I felt the blow, I smelt the hyacinths—then I awoke—before the lady apologized, allowing that she had that intention. It was all so absurd and incongruous, and yet so distinct. Miss Stillwater looked as natural as life, and sat the bear in such a graceful fashion—she might have been riding a finely bred horse in Hyde Park."
Lord Stafford, listening with closed eyes, made an articulate noise. Whether it was expressive of wonder, disbelief, or ridicule, it was difficult to say.
"But what I consider most remarkable, is that I saw the Rockies very much as I saw them in reality, later on. I explain this on the score of—suggestion. Miss Stillwater has spent some time in the Rockies. Naturally, our conversation recalled them to her mind, and she, of course, unconsciously suggested them to me. It was quite—psychic."
"Nightmare," murmured Lord Stafford, sleepily, "what did you eat for supper?"
"I don't know," said Lord Canning, disgustedly. "Don't attribute everything to what one eats."
"You will, when you're my age. Now it's 'suggestion', and 'quite psychic.' If that little, dainty, yellow-haired Miss Assurance had been an unattractive, elderly person, she wouldn't have suggested a pin's worth to you—beyond the fact that she was ugly. I must say, I never heard you go on like that before, Thurston."
"Go on like what?"
"Oh, about your dreams. Only old women tell their dreams. Ha, ha, ha!"
"You are quite mistaken, Uncle Nelson, dreams have been made the subject of scientific research."
"Oh, poppycock! You'll be telling fortunes in a tea cup next, ha, ha, ha!"
"I am glad you are amused, Uncle Nelson."
"I am—it's rich—ha, ha, ha, ha!—Ha, ha, ha, ha! Thurston, will you oblige me, and tell when there's anything to look at beside these interminable forests? I'm going to nap a little."
Lord Canning resumed his watch at the window. "Beautiful forests," he thought, "for the most part untouched and untrammelled. We seem to be plunging deeper and deeper into a virgin region. I feel strangely expectant, as though something were awaiting me there. Something that I have hitherto missed in my life—my sober, colorless life—awaiting me there. If I should tell Uncle Nelson this, he would ask me what I had eaten for lunch."
In a little while he became conscious that the train was slackening speed and felt the exhilaration, of most people, at the idea of being transported higher than the ordinary level.
"There is something else."
"Clouds—ha, ha, ha, ha!"
Lord Stafford looked disgustedly out at the scurrying white masses.
"Do you want h'anything, your Lordship?"
"It's about time you showed up, Flash. Unstrap that plaid—it's beastly cold."
"It h'is, your Lordship—compared to the 'eat in New York," carefully tucking Lord Stafford into the plaid. Flash was a young fellow, of the ordinary English cockney type.
The train labored on painfully up into the heart of the mountains. Lord Stafford slept while his nephew smoked and mused, watching the clouds, barely perceptible now in the fading light.
They felt a jerk, the train stopped suddenly. Flash put his head in, "We're a h'our and a 'alf late, your Lordship. We won't h'arrive until h'eight o'clock."
"What an infernal nuisance."
"H'any h'orders, your Lordship?"
When they finally arrived it was pitch black night, no moon nor stars. The rude little station was lit by torches flaming in the mist and wind. Beyond, impenetrable darkness. A storm was brewing over the mountains. Haller's face, as he greeted the travellers with one of his contortions, looked weird in the torchlight. They followed him out to the wagon, in which they sank with a sigh of relief. The trip, with the delay, had been tedious. Haller whipped the ponies up briskly. The wagon careered recklessly from side to side as they drove, and the wind drove the mist into their faces.
"I suppose you know your road, my good man?" said Lord Stafford.
"There's no risk of falling over a precipice or anything of that kind, is there? It's so confoundedly black."
Haller chuckled. "Them ponies know the're way—the've been bred up in these parts. I'd trust them sooner'n myself."
"Indeed!" said Lord Canning.
"Is this our destination?" asked Lord Stafford, as they stopped at the landing.
"Oh, we ain't no ways near thar yet," said Haller, with another chuckle. He raised a lantern and showed them "The Indiana" waiting at the dock, the lake lapping against her sides.
"Must we get in that?" said Stafford, peering out into the darkness of the lake.
"Waal, yes; if you want ter go to Camp Indiana. It's at the far end of the lake."
"Camp Indiana!" repeated Lord Canning to himself. "After her, of course. They have a curious faculty over here, of naming people after places and vice versa."
"What sort of a boat is this 'ere, my man?" asked Flash, after they were installed and on their way.
"No danger of explosion?" he asked, cheerily.
"Waal, yer never can tell—yer never can tell."
Lord Canning laughed heartily. As they puffed along, the wind commenced to wail dismally, echoed by the mountains, until it seemed as though a pack of wild beasts were howling in the night. At intervals a camp fire enlivened the prospect, blazing cheerily down on the shore. The shadow-dance of the flames on the water, together with the outlines of human forms feeding the fire, produced a fantastic effect on the travellers. At Camp Indiana an enormous fire had been kindled to welcome the guests. The boat-house was lit up with different colored lanterns. Haller shouted as they passed in the dock, and was answered by William, who hurried down and assisted the disembarking. Haller, holding the lantern, lit them up to the camp. A flood of light streamed from the open door, in which Mrs. Bunker stood.
"Well, here you are at last—so glad to see you."
She shook hands with them vigorously.
"My man Flash," said Lord Stafford.
"Kitty, show Mr. Flash the gentlemen's rooms. What a nuisance the train was late. The world stops when one comes up here."
Mrs. Stillwater met them in the hall. "I'm so pleased you have come," she said in her soft gracious voice.
"Thank you, Mrs. Stillwater."
"How do you do, Lord Canning?" said Indiana with a hearty shake of the hand. "Too bad the train was late. It's what you must expect in these primitive parts."
Lord Canning looked about him, receiving the impression of warmth, light and luxury, but no sign of primitiveness. Coming out of the darkness and the wind, into the brilliant hall, he was a little dazzled, and for the moment was at a loss for something to say to Indiana. He stared at the brilliant little figure standing near the fire, the flames reflecting red lights from her dress on her laughing face and her yellow hair, with the Persian rug for a background. "An Arabian night's vision," he thought.
"It's a tedious trip," said Indiana. "You must be starved to death."
"I am so interested in my surroundings, that I can plead no sense of fatigue," answered Lord Canning.
"This is a jolly fire," said Lord Stafford. "It's like a glimpse of heaven here, after that awful black night."
Mrs. Bunker shortly led the way to the dining room, where a shaded red drop-light threw a rosy glow on the well-equipped table, upon which reposed a centrepiece of wild ferns. The easy, natural manner of the hostesses soon made their guests feel perfectly at home.
"Don't hesitate to smoke, gentlemen!" exclaimed Mrs. Bunker, after dinner. "This is Liberty Hall."
"We didn't expect this, Mrs. Bunker," said Lord Stafford, as they walked through the rooms, "when you invited us to 'rough it' with you in the woods."
"I assure you, Lord Stafford, that we consider this camping out," laughed Mrs. Bunker. "Now which chair are you going to take? This one is comfortable. Place it near the fire."
"Very artistic and most original," said Lord Canning, surveying his surroundings. "I have never seen anything like it."
There was a note of simplicity in all this luxury, even to the dress of the ladies, which struck him agreeably. Indiana sat in the midst of the group, talking and laughing unreservedly. Lord Canning, leaning back in a large armchair smoking his cigar, listened attentively, trying to find some clue to her character in the careless words. He finally realized this was foolish. She was evidently little more than a child, with no deep realization of life, as yet; a child with her own charm. There was no doubt of that. He gazed deeper and deeper into the fire.
"Lord Canning, you are so absorbed in the fire the rest of us might be jealous," said Indiana.
"There is no occasion for jealousy," he answered, looking directly at her. "But the fire is certainly fascinating—and productive of thought. I have a recollection of another, outside, which welcomed us very cheerfully, when we arrived. Is it still burning?"
"Oh yes," said Indiana, "our camp fire is still burning."
"I should like to see it, may I?"
"Certainly," said Indiana rising, "Lord Stafford, are you also curious?"
"Oh Miss Stillwater, I'm so comfortable, don't ask me to go out again! this is such a charming fire. Now Mrs. Bunker, let me poke it. This is the way we do it in England."
"Run along, Indiana," said Mrs. Bunker, sweetly.
Without, the night was still black, but the storm had not yet broken. The fire down on the shore lit up the lake and the boat-house. Haller and William were throwing on logs, and in the red glare Kitty could be seen standing, talking volubly to Flash, who listened with deferential interest.
"The boat-house looks very pretty in this light," said Lord Canning.
"There's such a cozy room in it with a fire," asserted Indiana. "We've had rare, old times there. We go down nights, and make things in chafing dishes."
"What a novel idea! And is there a fire burning there now?"
"Oh, yes! The guides keep the fires always going—when it's cold."
"I should like to see this cozy room, where you make things in chafing dishes. May I?"
"Certainly. Be careful, Lord Canning! It's pitch dark, and you don't know the way! There! I knew you'd stumble—you'd better take my hand."
"I—I really think I had better," said Lord Canning, helplessly.
The storm spent its full force in the night. The wind raged in the clearings and upon the lakes. But Camp Indiana, sheltered by the woods, heard nothing of the angry elements beyond the continuous sighing of the trees, which, when the wind was most fierce, grew into a painful sobbing whisper. The pines of the North Woods sing varied harmonies, always in a minor key; sometimes, it is a sacred anthem, sometimes a tragic prophecy, sometimes a death chant and sometimes a sad lullaby, such as a bereaved wife might croon to her child.
When the guests emerged upon the balcony in the morning the clouds still shrouded the mountains and the lake. There was nothing to be seen but a white mist.
"We are literally in the clouds," said Lord Canning pacing the balcony. "But what a soft rare air, and that strong odor of pine; it is most exhilarating." He drew a deep breath.
"What a magnificent tree," said Lord Stafford. "They've built it into the balcony. Look, Thurston! Isn't that a unique idea?" He bent over until his body was half in the tree. "By George, there's a chipmunk!"
"Balsam!" exclaimed Lord Canning, examining a branch. He ascended the steps looking up at the tree. "Magnificent! A natural ornament! What a novel thought to make it a part of the house. I am reminded of the roof-tree of olden times, Uncle Nelson."
"Quite so!" said Lord Stafford.
"Look!" continued his nephew. "The clouds are rising—slowly. There is the lake! How blue, and what beautiful slopes—how rich in foliage. Such a contrast in greens; the vivid emerald of the maple trees, with the dark shade of the hemlock and other pine varieties—there is no green like theirs—and that faint, very faint touch of red, here and there—a foretaste of Autumn. Look at those wild crags, with the trees rooted in their clefts! This is a panorama of clouds. How systematically they rise, one veil after the other. The mountains are just becoming perceptible—do you see their shadowy outline behind that last thin veil? It is rising—slowly—slowly. Little fragments of mist are floating everywhere. Upon my word, it is quite unreal—like a dream scene."
"Ha, ha, ha! I'd advise you not to broach the subject of dreams again."
"Charming! The dark, rich blue of those mountains, with the little mists curling upon them, here and there. That low cloud on the lake here, has remained stationary. Ah, now it is rising. Uncle Nelson, do you see anything?"
Lord Canning had suddenly discerned in the mist, the phantom outline of a female figure kneeling in a canoe.
"Yes, by George! Do you think it could be a peculiar form taken by the mist?"
"Either that—or—it might be the spirit of some unhappy Indian maiden, a heroine of one of the legends of this region. Ah, the sun is coming out—now we shall see her disappear!"
On the contrary, the sun striking through the mist revealed Indiana paddling a red canoe. Bareheaded, the sleeves of her red blouse rolled above the elbow, the sun caught her in a sudden flash of scarlet and gold, so that she seemed an apotheosis in the cloud, of Lord Canning's Indian maiden.
"It's Miss Stillwater!" cried his uncle. "Ha, ha, ha—you with your dreams and your Indian maidens."
Lord Canning rubbed his eyes, watching Indiana paddle toward the boathouse with swift, unerring strokes. "Let us go down and meet her!" he said.
"Good morning, gentlemen!" exclaimed Mrs. Bunker, joining them, as they descended. "How did you sleep last night?"
"Extremely well, thank you, my dear lady," answered Lord Stafford. "I cannot speak for my nephew, he is addicted to dreams. Ha, ha, ha. That sort of sleeper is always rather restless. Don't you think so, Mrs. Bunker?"
"This," said Lord Canning, indicating the prospect, "is very charming, quite unique in its way. I really cannot remember seeing anything like it."
Lord Stafford slipped. "Be careful, Lord Stafford. It's the pine needles. They fall year after year. You see how soft and yielding they make the ground. But it's slippery on an incline."
They reached the boat-house in time to see Indiana jump from her canoe.
"An extremely picturesque little craft," said Lord Canning, after they had exchanged the morning greetings.
"Birch bark," said Indiana. "There's another here."
"Ah, a white one. But this red canoe is very effective on the lake. We were quite startled, when you first appeared. Were we not, Uncle?"
"Ha, ha, ha, ha. My nephew thought you were the spirit of some Indian maiden, who had died a tragic death."
"You glided out of the mist in such a wraith-like fashion," said Lord Canning.
"There was an Indian maiden"—
"Oh, keep those ghost stories for the camp fire, Indiana! Before breakfast is no time for them."
"Don't forget, please, Miss Stillwater!" said Lord Canning. "Positively at the camp fire to-night."
"At the camp fire to-night," repeated Indiana, in a tragic voice.
"Oh, Indiana can tell you any number of legends about these parts. She picks them up from the guides," said Mrs. Bunker.
"I am always interested in the legends of a country. There is so much to be gleaned from them."
"Exactly, Lord Canning," said Mrs. Bunker. "That's what I think."
"I shall look forward to hearing them all, Miss Stillwater," said Lord Canning, "by the camp fire of course. Every night a story."
"Like Scheherezade in the Arabian Nights," said Indiana, "amusing the sultan to save her head."
"Ha, ha, ha, ha. Quite so, Miss Stillwater," laughed Lord Canning.
"But I don't think my stories would last a hundred and one nights, Lord Canning," replied Indiana, putting her hands behind her back, and meeting his persistent gaze mischievously.
"Too bad," he answered, contemplatively. "I should hate to cut off that head. Don't you know anything else appropriate for a camp fire, which might serve to amuse me, and prolong your life. Can you tell fortunes?"
"Oh, Indiana's great at that!" said Mrs. Bunker.
"Good—by cards or consulting the palm?"
"Both!" said Indiana promptly. "Learned it from the girls at school. I can also tell your fortune in a tea cup."
"Indeed, you must initiate me."
"Ha, ha, ha, ha—I prophesied you'd come to it—telling fortunes in a tea cup. That's rich. Mrs. Bunker, I'll explain to you—later!"
"What does he mean?" asked Indiana.
"I'll tell you by the camp fire, Miss Stillwater. Can you interpret dreams?"
Lord Stafford laughed with intense enjoyment.
"I have a dream book, I'll study it up."
"Well, in view of your many accomplishments, your head will be quite safe."
"How about yours?" she said, shyly, bending down to take her jacket from the canoe.
"Ha, ha, ha! Quite so, Miss Stillwater."
"I'm not sure about mine," he answered, smiling.
"And if you lose it?"
"The Sultan will meet his fate philosophically, repeating, 'Kismet, and Allah is wise, saith the Prophet.'"
"Breakfast is served," exclaimed Kitty, running breathlessly into the boat-house.
"You must be hungry," said Mrs. Bunker. "You were up so early. Indiana rises at an unearthly hour, here. She's on the lake at six, sometimes."
"Do not be surprised if you should see me also at that unearthly hour, Miss Stillwater. I, too, have a passion for early rising, in a place like this! There are some beautiful boats here!"
"Yes, this is a St. Lawrence. I always take ma out in that. She likes it, because it's steady. But it don't run like this one—this is my pet. A real Adirondack cedar wood."
"Indiana," read Lord Canning. "Everything here is named after you. You're the prevailing spirit of the place. Will you take me out on the lake after breakfast, and teach me how to manage an Adirondack boat?"
"This is a dangerous lake, Lord Canning," said Mrs. Bunker. "You wouldn't think so, to look at it now."
Lord Canning turned and glanced at the beautiful vista of the lake, sparkling, blue and serene, between the mountains.
"A squall can come up, any minute—a regular tornado—and blow you and your shell of a boat to Jericho."
"And what would you do, Miss Stillwater," asked Lord Canning, in visible alarm, "if you were out in your little canoe, and were caught in one of these sudden squalls?"
"Head for the shore. Besides, I'm a swimmer."
"Are you?" She looked very young to him, standing there in her little, short skirt and loose blouse, her hair blowing about in the breeze, which came freshly over the lake. Younger, even, than when he had first seen her.
"Now, Lord Stafford," said Mrs. Bunker, after breakfast. "You, my daughter, and myself, will take a trip in 'The Indiana.' The horses will be waiting at the landing, and after we have explored the lake, I think we'll have time for a short drive. Will that program suit you?"
"Ha, ha, ha! Everything that you arrange is bound to be delightful, Mrs. Bunker."
"We'll leave the young people to their own devices. Lord Canning is so bent on learning to row an Adirondack boat."
"Ha, ha, ha! Yes, Mrs. Bunker."
"It's a dangerous lake, Lord Stafford—I warned him."
"You did, Mrs. Bunker—your conscience can rest easily."
"I feel I'm taking an advantage, Miss Stillwater," said Lord Canning, lounging comfortably in the bow of Indiana's pet boat, "to sit here and let you do all the work. Let me take the oars. I have been watching you closely—I think you can trust me."
"Sit down!" commanded Indiana.
"Dear me, what have I done?"
"You can't change places in an Adirondack boat, in the middle of the lake. It would tip over, and we'd both flop in." She laughed merrily.
"Her laugh has the vital ring of youth," thought Lord Canning. "I might learn to laugh like that again, if she would teach me—"
"Glen and I have often tried it, just for devilment, but then Glen is more used to these boats than you, Lord Canning—"
"Oh, I forgot. I think everyone knows Glen—everyone does in America, who happens to know us. He's one of the family."
"Not a relative, and one of the family," thought Lord Canning. "Young, old or middle aged?"
"Glen's only twenty-four and handsome as a picture."
"Only twenty-four, and handsome as a picture," thought Lord Canning.
"Wouldn't you like to smoke, Lord Canning?"
"There's something of the witch about you, Miss Stillwater. That's just what I'm longing to do. You are sure you don't mind?"
Indiana shook her head. Her cheeks were glowing, her eyes sparkling from the exercise.
"That's very good of you, Miss Stillwater." He lit his cigar leisurely, then leaned back with a long sigh of content. "You're a splendid oarswoman, Miss Stillwater; such long, graceful strokes. That splash of color here and there in the woods—it's most effective—especially, when it's reflected in the lake—like this branch—look—we are just nearing it—how gracefully it droops over the water. It's most delightful here—near the shore—let us linger a little while—do you mind? There's no occasion for this terrific speed, is there? That's better—now we are merely gliding. Lean back, Miss Stillwater! Won't you have this pillow? Are you quite comfortable? Are you sure you are quite comfortable? These Adirondack oars are very convenient—just let them swing—I see—and take them up when you are ready. A stroke or two, now and then, will be quite sufficient to send us along—not yet—don't disturb yourself. No, we will not run into anything—I'll see to that—you look very nice lying there. The water is like a perfect mirror here, under the trees—every leaf and twig is reflected—beautiful—so restful—I could drift like this—"
"I thought so," cried Indiana jumping up.
"Dear me, what is the matter?"
"We're caught in a tree!"
"Why so we are—be careful—that branch will strike your face—I think I can reach it—a most obstinate branch—it persists in bending your way. Well, I can't blame it—there—how ever did this occur?"
"Why—you insisted on my leaving everything to you—I yielded from pure amiability—but I foresaw what would happen, because you hadn't the slightest idea where you were drifting."
"But I know quite well, where I'm drifting—"
"Then how were we caught in this tree?"
"Ah, that's another story—"
"You were certainly not looking ahead."
"Then where was I looking? You ought to know."
"You were lying back with your hands clasped behind your head, saying, 'I could go on like this forever,' or something to that effect, and we went plump into the tree."
"Poor Miss Stillwater—I'm a great trial—you'll never take me out again, will you?"
"Well, I won't say that—"
"I'm so glad you didn't. I think it's rather a novel sensation to be caught in a tree."
"Everything is a sensation to you, Lord Canning."
"Ha, ha, ha, ha. When you are my age, Miss Stillwater, you will also appreciate a new sensation. May I ask the object of those violent efforts?"
"Lord Canning—do you realize you're on the tree as well as in it. There's an immense branch extending under the water, and with our combined weight we won't get off in a hurry."
"Where is the hurry—there are no trains to be caught, I believe."
"Yes, but I wanted to show you the lake this morning—that would be something. There is so much for you to do and see."
"Restless little American spirit," said Lord Canning. "Now if you will hand me that oar—although I appreciate your anxiety to show me everything without delay—I, with my slow English methods—prefer to take things by degrees—if you have no objection, Miss Stillwater; I am enjoying this immensely."
"Really," said Indiana doubtfully.
"I give you my word. Now let me have things my own way. There's no necessity to show me the whole lake at once. I would rather prolong the pleasure—"
"Slowly, Miss Stillwater! we're drifting once more. Ah, look at this giant rock looming above us; how dark and grim—"
"That's called the 'Devil's Pulpit.' The water right here is five hundred feet deep."
"And a moment ago it was quite shallow. How black and impenetrable—'The Devil's Pulpit.' I think I can sniff an odor of sulphur. Five hundred feet deep. How quickly the shallows change to the depths—how quickly—don't hurry—what a gruesome spot. Just the place for a ghost story—that Indian maiden we were talking of this morning—will she do?"
"Well, there was a certain tribe—"
"Pardon me, Miss Stillwater. I forgot that story had already been reserved for the camp fire. Everything in its place."
"I don't believe in taking all the good things at once, like a greedy child—besides, poor Scheherezade's head is at stake! I would not deprive her of one night's respite—"
"Suppose you tell me a story, Lord Canning—one of your adventures. You have travelled so much, you must have had a very interesting life."
"Interesting in one way—barren in another. Don't lean over like that, please."
"Your uncle says you have a passion for exploring."
"Yes. I suppose it has never occurred to you, Miss Stillwater, that this passion for exploring, in a man of my settled years—Miss Stillwater, I beg of you to be careful, remember it is five hundred feet. This passion for exploring might exist only for want of another interest—a dear and sacred interest—most men of my age possess. Life has withheld from me, so far—it's most precious gift. I shall hold it the sweeter when bestowed. Do you find it interesting to peer into the depths, Miss Stillwater?"
"Very! They say—"
"Yes, what do they say?"
"That if you look into them long enough, here at the Devil's Pulpit, you are seized with an impulse to throw yourself in."
"Dear me; well, I have no fear for you at present. But I shall take care you do not come here unaccompanied. What you have told me, however, is a fact which has been often proved. Whether it is a rocky precipice, five hundred feet of water, or a human soul—the depths have a dangerous fascination. Are you afraid, Miss Stillwater? Don't you wish to leave this dangerous spot?"
"I want my story, first."
"You will persist in peering into the depths—beware of them!"
"I'm not afraid."
"No, I don't think you are."
"Well, the story."
"Ah, yes—the story—you're in the mood to listen?"
"Yes, yes. Is it to be one of your adventures?"
"Not exactly. I'm not in the mood to relate an adventure. That will keep for another time. This is a charmed spot, you see—as its name would denote—a spell has been laid on me, in the shadow of this rock, and I am obliged to speak the words that come into my head."
"Then I won't consider you responsible."
"No—not here." Lord Canning folded his arms and gazed down into the impenetrable depths. "There was once a weaver. He wove a dull, gray woof—always the same gray woof. Sometimes, he would look up at the rich blue of the morning sky, then go on weaving his gray web. Sometimes, he would glance at the sunset, and marvel at the gorgeous hues of the clouds—but there was never a gleam of color in the web, that he wove—it was always the same, dull gray. Sometimes, the laughing face of a child would peep into his—and he would gaze longingly back—yearning to snatch the blue of the eyes, the gold of the hair—for that colorless web which Fate had set him to weave. Once he dreamed that a sudden burst of sunlight streamed upon him, as he sat at his loom. He put up his hand and drew down the rays one after the other, weaving them into his work. And as he wove, he heard singing—a choir of beautiful, jubilant voices. The web, transformed into a gleaming fabric of light, gladdened the soul of the weaver. Then he awoke, and saw the dull, gray woof in the loom. He went on, patiently weaving the web which Fate had given him. But his soul cherishes the hope—that some day, perhaps, his dream will come true."
The World's Rest
Indiana lay back with closed eyes. Lord Canning's deep, well-modulated voice, soothing her alert faculties into a dream of consciousness. He looked at her as he concluded. The innocence of her face, with its closed eyelids, appealed to him. She looked very childish, lying at the foot of the giant rock. Without any comment, she looked out on the lake. He lit a cigar and smoked it in silence. Both were thinking of the weaver.
"Did you feel that icy breath from the rock, Miss Stillwater?"
Indiana laughed. "We come for that on hot days, and lie in the shade and read. It's always cool here."
"Who is 'we'—may I ask?"
"Glen and I."
"Glen again," thought Lord Canning. "I have an absurd feeling against another having been here with her—another, who is only twenty-four and handsome as a picture—"
Indiana commenced to row.
"Going? Perhaps you are right—this is a dangerous spot."
"People are not so carried away with the Adirondacks at first," ventured Indiana. "But they grow on them after a while."
"Yes," said Lord Canning, studying her attentively. "I find a great many things grow on me in this part of the world. Why do you laugh, Miss Stillwater? Have I said anything amusing? I should like to learn how to laugh like that. Will you teach me?"
Indiana laughed again.
"May I have the first lesson now?"
"Oh, I can't give you any lessons—you must just listen, that's all."
"I see—just listen. It is shallow again—what a beautiful white, sandy bed—how restlessly the minnows dart—here and there—backwards and forwards. They symbolize the activity of your nation, Miss Stillwater. Oh, what a cunning little stair-case cut in the rock—it looks so inviting—I should like to get off and climb it, and sit up there in the trees—may I?"
"No," said Indiana, "there are so many other pretty places, I want to show you."
"But I have a fancy for this—obduracy itself. Well, will you promise to take me here again another day—do promise!"
"I promise," said Indiana.
The sun was long past its meridian, when they reached home. Mrs. Bunker, her daughter and Lord Stafford, were watching from the boat-house balcony. Lord Canning was rowing, without a coat, bareheaded. Indiana, comfortably ensconced in pillows opposite, was employed in spattering water over his face, regardless of his laughing remonstrances. Their voices—Indiana's high-pitched but sweet, mingled with Lord Canning's deep tones—were carried by the clear air over the water.
"Allow me to thank you for a delightful morning, Miss Stillwater," said Lord Canning, ceremoniously, as he helped her from the boat. He stood looking looking back on the lake.
"Are you coming, Lord Canning?" asked Indiana, her foot on the little rustic staircase leading from the dock up into the boat-house.
"One moment, if you please," said Lord Canning, still looking at the lake. "I want to fix firmly in my mind all the details of this delightful morning."
"How slow these Englishmen are," thought Indiana, "and yet—"
"You naughty child," said Mrs. Bunker, beaming on Indiana. "Do you know it's almost two o'clock! Lord Stafford is starving."
"And your mamma is 'worried to death about you,'" said Lord Stafford. "Ha, ha, ha, ha! How am I getting on, Mrs. Bunker?"
"Bravo, Lord Stafford, you are an apt pupil."
"Blame Lord Canning," said Indiana. "He does not like to hurry."
"No, indeed," added Lord Canning in an injured tone.
"He would insist on going in and out all the nooks along the shore."
"Yes, indeed," asserted Lord Canning.
"He persisted in exploring everything. He has such a thirst for information—"
"Naturally," interrupted Lord Canning.
"And of course, when he took the oars, I was powerless. I'm thankful we're home this early."
They all climbed slowly up to the camp.
"Won't you take my arm, Mrs. Stillwater? Your daughter has forbidden me to wear a hat, and has been throwing water on me in the sun, as she wishes me to acquire a certain reddish shade of tan, which prevails here, and which your two guides possess to an enviable degree. She was quite impervious to all my scolding."
"Oh, Indiana always has her own way, Lord Canning."
"Evidently. I was almost obliged to take the oars by force. She wished to row the entire morning, and I thought that was entirely too much."
"Indiana will never give in that she's tired. When she was a child she was the same. She'd play until she dropped asleep on the ground from sheer exhaustion."
"Indeed," said Lord Canning. "Then I was quite right. But we had a very exciting argument—it almost caused a quarrel—and I rather congratulated myself we were in such an isolated spot. I don't wish to convey that Miss Stillwater actually lost her temper—"
"Indiana," interrupted Mrs. Stillwater, reprovingly.
"What do you young folks propose to do this afternoon?" inquired Mrs. Bunker.
"Lord Canning is very anxious to see the Notch," said Indiana. "I thought I'd drive you all over there."
"Your daughter has been describing certain falls, Mrs. Stillwater, whose tremendous power have worn a gorge in the rock, and which supply water-power for this entire region. Most interesting—"
"Oh, a very picturesque spot." said Mrs. Bunker. "Lord Stafford, I'm sure you'll be charmed with it. We must start immediately after lunch—it's a long drive."
"And if Miss Stillwater is to drive, I'm afraid she will be taxing herself too much, after rowing the greater part of the morning."
"Oh, Indiana likes to be always on the go," said Mrs. Stillwater. "I'm afraid she'll wear herself out some day."
"Nonsense, Mary," exclaimed Mrs. Bunker, sharply, "she's as strong as a horse."
"Your granddaughter is athletic," said Lord Canning, "but of a very slender build. It is her nervous activity that keeps her up, rather than strength. On the whole, I prescribe rest this afternoon."
"Then, Indiana," said Mrs. Bunker mildly, "you could show Lord Canning that cunning little brook in the woods, back there—"
"I dearly love little brooks in the woods," said Lord Canning.
"Oh, I can show him that any time," said Indiana, "before breakfast."
"Shall we say to-morrow, before breakfast—can I depend on that?"
"Yes. And this afternoon we'll drive to the High Falls," replied Indiana.
They were still at the table when Haller presented himself. "Be yer goin' ter drive ter the Notch this afternoon? If ye be, it's nigh on ter three o'clock. Yer can't get back fore dark. William's waitin' at the landin'." Mrs. Bunker rose precipitately.
"Get ready, Indiana!"
"I insist on Miss Stillwater resting for ten minutes at least. Don't you agree with me, Mrs. Stillwater?"
"Yes, indeed, Lord Canning. But I can never force Indiana to lie down."
"Well, I will endeavor to see what I can do."
"You will be accomplishing wonders if you can persuade Indiana to do any thing against her will."
"Come, Miss Stillwater. There's a hammock out on the balcony—waiting for you."
"But I must get ready for the drive, Lord Canning."
"Now let me have my way, Miss Stillwater. Ten minutes, more or less, does not count. I don't approve of this rush after meals. This is a wonderful hammock—so comfortable—different from most hammocks. I tried it this morning—simply a piece of canvas stretched flat. I shall take it in my head to sleep out here one fine night. Are you comfortable? Now, Miss Stillwater, you have been very good to take this rest, and I am deeply indebted to you. I shall be still more so if you will try to forget the fact that you are going anywhere. Simply make your mind blank; now, don't raise your head and look at me like that. I mean it—make your mind a blank. Is it impossible for you to keep your eyes shut, Miss Stillwater? Not even for ten minutes—in truth, only eight now. I have a pocket Tennyson—I will read you a few extracts; I always carry some literature about me. In travelling among so many shifting scenes, a thought now and then from a great mind goes largely toward establishing one's equilibrium. By the way, I had this Tennyson with me this morning. I might have read to you on the lake. Still, we did not feel the want of it, did we? Time passed so quickly—almost too quickly. Dear me! 'In Memoriam' is my favorite poem—which is yours, Miss Stillwater?"
"Mine," said Indiana, dreamily. "Let me see—'Evangeline' is very beautiful."
"A charming pastoral—I suppose it would be the favorite poem of a young girl who knows nothing of life—"
Indiana sat up suddenly in the hammock.
"You make a great mistake, Lord Canning. I have travelled all over the United States. I have come in contact with the world. I have a very shrewd idea of life—"
"Lie down, Miss Stillwater, please. That was a very unhappy remark of mine. So you have a very shrewd idea of life. I'm obliged to take your word for it—but, pardon me, you look very young for a person who has such a profound knowledge of the world. Now, don't talk back at me—remember, you are resting. Please shut your eyes—shut them—it's only three minutes now. I forbid you to open them again. Returning to our original subject—'In Memoriam' embodies a philosophy which appeals to me. We must read it together. I suppose you have not given it especial study?"
"I think such a poem should be read with someone else. I am very familiar with it. I may be able to throw a light on passages that may appear obscure to you, and, perhaps, ultimately succeed in imbuing you with my own love for it. This—
'Oh, yet we trust that somehow good,Will be the final goal of all—'"
"Indiana," called Mrs. Bunker.
She sprung from the hammock.
"Dear me! it isn't—yes, it is—eleven minutes and a half." "Provoking," thought Lord Canning, as Indiana disappeared. "I don't seem to have any time alone with her."
He very soon found himself in the little naptha launch, 'Indiana,' with the rest of the party.
"Isn't this jolly?" said Lord Stafford. "We seem to be always on the go, here."
"Indeed, I'm not going to let you stagnate," replied Mrs. Bunker. "There's a different place to see every day, and when you've seen everything the hunting will commence."
"We couldn't have a nicer day for a drive," remarked Mrs. Stillwater. "It has rained all night, and there won't be any dust."
"Oh, if a storm don't come up while we're out," said Mrs. Bunker. "You never can tell what's behind these mountains. They're always brewing something. Don't you ever let Indiana get you out in that sail-boat—while I think of it, Lord Canning."
"No, Mrs. Bunker, I will not let her get me out in that sail-boat. There, I put my foot down."
"Yes, you will," said Indiana, propping her chin on her hand, "won't you?"
Lord Canning smiled back into her eyes. "Well, perhaps," he said.
"There!" exclaimed Mrs. Bunker. "Indiana makes everyone do as she wishes."
"Have you your Tennyson here, Lord Canning? I should like to look through it."
He gave it to her, and then two heads were soon bent, in a discussion, over the book. Lord Canning started, when they reached their destination, and Haller gave a spring to the dock.
"Already," closing the book, "this has been most interesting, Miss Stillwater. You have a very clear and fresh conception. It's a great pleasure to read with you."
"Oh, Indiana has always distinguished herself in her studies," said Mrs. Stillwater.
"I can believe that," said Lord Canning.
As the ponies sped along with their swift, firm trot, Indiana explained to him the different points of interest in the country.
"Why, Indiana, you're taking the old road—that's the longest," as she made a sudden turn from the highway.
"And the prettiest, Grandma Chazy."
"Well, do as you like. We'll never get home."
"Thinking of home already, Mrs. Bunker. We're just started. This is awfully jolly."
"Well, we'll see how jolly you'll think it, Lord Stafford, when you're kept till nearly nine for your dinner."
"Dear me, is it so serious as that?"
"We follow this all the way," said Indiana, pointing to the narrow stream on whose banks they were driving.
"Charming to hear, that delightful gurgle. I am so fond of the sound of water!"
"A very narrow path," said Lord Stafford, peering over the banks. "One lurch to the right, and we're over."
"The banks are propped with logs," explained Mrs. Bunker. "That is done every spring. The force of the water in winter breaks them down. They're none too safe now, I believe. But Indiana would take this old road!"
"I am so glad you did," murmured Lord Canning. "The continuous perspective of this winding stream is charming."
As they drove on they were surprised now and then by little green islands, very small, sometimes merely clumps of trees.
"Mysterious little islands," said Lord Canning. "So lonely, set here and there in the stream, like little green shrines, for those who wish to pray."
"You have more imagination than many would credit you with, Lord Canning."
"I am not understood by many—I would not care to be—"
"Do be careful, Indiana," said Mrs. Stillwater, as they bounded over a frail bridge built on logs.
"Have no fear, Mrs. Stillwater. Your daughter is managing these ponies admirably—" he added to Indiana—"with those small hands. May I relieve you presently?"
"Thank you—I am not tired. I should fear to trust you. One must know the roads."
Gradually the low musical gurgle of the stream deepened into a more significant undertone. Indiana made a sudden cut to the left and turned out, after crossing a bridge, on another narrow road overlooking a deep ravine. From its depths they still heard the voice of the stream, growing into an angry murmur. After a while, on the right, rose a high, craggy mountain-wall, with sparse foliage growing in its crannies.
Lord Stafford peered down into the ravine. "What a wicked looking place. We're quite on the edge, Miss Stillwater. Our lives are in your hands—and that terrible mountain on the right."
"It shadows us like fate," said Lord Canning.
"There is a mysterious voice warning us from the ravine. Remember, that was once the low cooing murmur of a placid stream."
"There's a lesson in that," said Mrs. Bunker. "Never trust a woman with a soft cooing voice."
"Ha, ha, ha, ha! Quite so, Mrs. Bunker."
"What a sudden change," remarked Lord Canning, "from a fairy pastoral to this mysterious wilderness. Are these sudden changes common to the country?"
"Common to the country—and the women," replied Indiana, laughing.
"Quite so, Miss Stillwater," said Lord Stafford. "You know Pope's familiar couplet—
Women like variegated tulips show,'Tis to their changes, half their charms they owe.'"
"Do you echo that sentiment, Lord Stafford," asked Mrs. Bunker, archly.
"Well, really, that's a difficult question, Mrs. Bunker. One is bored by monotony, of course—but sometimes these sudden changes can be deucedly unpleasant—ha, ha, ha, ha!"
"There is the river," explained Indiana, pointing to a black rushing current, murmuring angrily below them. They watched it for a mile, sometimes writhing slowly in its rocky bed, like a long black snake, while the angry murmur grew faint and then rose again as the water rushed on with renewed power, frothing madly over the holders and rocks which barred its progress. Suddenly before them rose the blue, distant peak of one of the giant mountains.
"You wish to climb all the mountains?" inquired Indiana. "This will be the first—it is the nearest. I have climbed it." Lord Canning surveyed it with interest.
"And will you climb it with me again?"
"I suppose so. I climb it every year. It's only four miles from our camp to the trail."
"Always driving with this blue peak before us," remarked Lord Canning, after a while, "reminds me of the high aims we set for ourselves, and which we never seem to reach—the ideal of the true artist which he despairs of ever attaining—but, still, his eyes fixed on that pale blue peak of perfection in the sky, he forgets the bitter materialisms of life."
Indiana bent down and gazed at the dark current.
"Do not look down, Miss Stillwater. That is the river of Biting Reality. Close your ears to its threatening murmur—gaze with me before us. I am under the delusion that I have discovered this region. Naturally, I wish to christen everything myself. I would make that distant peak—"
"It is called—"
"Now, Miss Stillwater, I do not wish to know—I will christen it—humor me—I am one of those harmlessly insane people with one delusion. I name that peak the Mount of Perfection. You said you would climb it with me. It is a very arduous ascent, and you are young and 'frail.'" He looked down into the laughing eyes. "But when two climb together the stronger helps the weaker. All I ask—"
"Yes," said Indiana.
"Is that once in awhile you will smile up at me—as we climb—in order that I shall know you are not tired."
"I will smile," said Indiana. "That is not much to ask—"
"Ah, but will you smile brightly, so that I may know you have not lost courage; will you smile trustfully, so that I may feel you have implicit faith in any way I choose to lead—will you? Ah, well, I won't say any more—"
"Listen," interrupted Indiana. Far away he heard a faint roar. "The Falls."
"I will christen them later. That distant sound is very fascinating. I really cannot say yet what it conveys to me. But these falls are the culmination of the river—they typify some crisis in life—some great emotion into which all others are submerged."
He leaned back, with folded arms, watching the dense woods which had replaced the craggy mountain-wall, and listening to the growing roar of the falls. The air here was laden with balsam. Sometimes an icy breath from the deep woods, into which no sun could penetrate, fanned their faces.
"I have not yet named the lake on which we spent this forenoon. I hereby christen it Lake Dangerous, as a warning to those who might be deceived by its apparent harmlessness. All ye unwary ones, take heed of sudden storms, deceiving shallows, unfathomable depths, and certain rocky places, where supernatural powers are at work to steal the precious secret of the soul!"
At this dramatic proclamation Indiana gave vent to a ringing peal of laughter.
"What's the joke, Indiana?" called Mrs. Bunker.
"Oh, Lord Canning is talking the greatest amount of nonsense."
"Your nephew isn't near as serious as when I met him at Cannes," observed Mrs. Bunker. "Indiana brightens everybody up."
"Quite so, Mrs. Bunker. Now hadn't you better use your arts to brighten me up?"
"What have I been doing all this time? Wasting my sweetness, I see."
"Ha, ha, ha, ha! yes, Mrs. Bunker. You had better commence all over again."
As they drove on the sound of the falls grew into a loud roar. Miniature rapids could be seen, now and then, as the river emptied itself into small rocky basins, then plunged onward. Finally, Indiana slackened pace at a rustic bridge, where they alighted. This bridge led by short flights of steps to other ascending bridges spanning the falls.
"I'll sit down by the water," said Mrs. Stillwater. "I don't like to cross the falls. They make me giddy."
They saw her comfortably installed on a large boulder beneath a tree, near a spot where the river wandered off in a placid mood. Then they climbed the frail stairs leading to the different bridges, pausing at each to gaze closer at the fierce rush of the waters.
"What a wild, dark glen!" exclaimed Lord Canning, looking about him, as they reached the last bridge. "Those majestic pines stand like sentinels watching the falls." He gazed down into the enormous gorge called The Notch, into which the falls dashed, with a deafening sound, sending up a blinding shower of spray. "How the water seethes and boils and bubbles! It is like a gigantic cauldron. Magnificent for witches! What poisons, what love-potions and charms they could brew down there! Just the place for a conjuration!"
"You'd say that if you saw the place by moonlight. It looks simply unearthly."
"I should love to see it by moonlight. May I?" He looked pleadingly at Indiana.
"Well," she said, meditatively.
"Certainly," interrupted Mrs. Bunker. "We'll have a moonlight picnic, just as soon as there is a moon. Probably my son will be here then."
"My handkerchief is quite wet," said Lord Stafford, wiping the spray from his face.
"Take mine," offered Mrs. Bunker, holding up a wet morsel.
"Oh, my dear lady, of what use would that be?"
"I love the spray," remarked Indiana, taking off her hat and leaning over.
"Indiana, stop that! Lord Canning, will you hold her?"
"Allow me," said Lord Canning, putting his arms about her and bending himself to gaze down into the falls.
Their tremendous rush and power awoke a responsive chord in his own breast. He was conscious that what had been first an impulse with him was rapidly becoming a force, as wildly impetuous in its way as that upon which he was gazing.
In one part of the glen some logs had been stacked under the trees. Lord Canning secured one. "I wish to test the force of the water," he said. It took all the strength he possessed to raise the log high in the air and fling it down into the falls. There, it was lifted and tossed by the eddying current, then whirled onward, out of sight, as though it had been a leaf. "Tremendous power! Miss Stillwater, you have gazed long enough into the witches' cauldron."
They ascended slowly, behind Mrs. Bunker and Lord Stafford.
"Let us rest a little while," said Lord Canning. "I should like to sit in this mysterious glen and listen to the falls as we hear them now—on the bridge they were too deafening."
They sat down beneath one of the immense pines, which looked down on the falls. Lord Canning closed his eyes and leaned back on the deep green moss. It was a spot where the sun seldom penetrated. "I christen these the Magic Falls," he said, after a few moments, in which Indiana idly plucked the moss. "Listening to them one loses all sense of past or future. Here, just before we reach the falls—but in view of them, within sound of them, before we are carried away by their impetuous rush, rendered dizzy and blinded by their thunder and spray—one can rest. This is one of life's lulls. We all deserve to rest one day in a spot like this, deeply shaded and carpeted with moss, within sound of the Magic Falls. Here the world stops, for once,—the world, with all its pros and cons, its clear and valuable logic, of which one grows very weary. The world itself must tire sometime of its plentiful stock of common sense. Then, I christen this The World's Rest."
In an Orchard of the Memory
When Lord Canning and Indiana finally rejoined the others, they were made the subject of much reproval and interrogation.
"Blame me, Mrs. Bunker!" said Lord Canning. "Dinner is a fact that I had forgotten."
"Apparently," answered Mrs. Bunker, who looked wonderfully well pleased considering her impatience.
"That is something new for you, Thurston. You always used to be quite punctilious in the matter of meals."
"Indeed, Uncle Nelson!"
"Lord Canning has lost his memory for the time being," explained Indiana. "He is just a trifle demented—by his own confession."
"Don't be alarmed, good people!" said Lord Canning, with a far-away look. "I belong to the harmless variety. Miss Stillwater, who is my keeper for the present, can testify to that."
"Oh yes, quite harmless! He has only one delusion. He believes that he has discovered the Adirondacks, and he christens everything that he sees, with a name of his own."
As they made their way to the wagon, Lord Canning read an indescribable expression on his uncle's face, which amused him greatly.
"Thurston never went on like this at the country houses we visited in England," reflected Lord Stafford, on the homeward drive. "It seems that people act differently abroad from their manner at home."
"Don't take the old road home, Indiana!" cried Mrs. Bunker as they started. "It's too long."
"The sun is sinking," observed Lord Canning, "but all we know of it here in the woods is this soft, golden haze. This is the most beautiful time to drive. The others may be hungry, but I think we have arranged it very well, to suit ourselves. How still the woods are at sundown! Look at their deep, rich green in the golden light! Do you hear that musical murmur? It's one of those tiny brooks—we have just passed it. You are to show me one to-morrow near the camp. What time before breakfast? Eight? Half-past seven? Say seven. Now do not be late."
As the light gradually faded, they felt a touch of frost in the air. Its exhilarating effect was heightened by the rapid speed the ponies had taken on the homeward road.
"Grandma Chazy wants me to take the new road back. It's a short-cut," whispered Indiana.
"I don't like short-cuts," murmured Lord Canning, crossly.
"Indiana, you're not—well, what do you think of that girl, Lord Stafford?" As Indiana took the forbidden road, both she and Lord Canning laughing with intense enjoyment. "Just like naughty children, aren't they, Lord Stafford?"
"Ha, ha, ha, ha! yes, Mrs. Bunker," laughed Lord Stafford, edified beyond description at hearing his serious nephew, with a scientific bent, classed in the category of naughty children.
"I hope cook won't mind," ventured Mrs. Stillwater, with a worried expression.
"Ten to one she will, Mary. But don't get worried over that yet. You can have an hour's peace of mind before she gives you notice."
"It's so hard to get another up here, or I wouldn't care," added Mrs. Stillwater, apologetically. "You see I should have to telegraph Mr. Stillwater—and he would have all the bother of getting us one, putting her on the train, you see—and then, Lord Stafford, she mightn't suit."
"Quite so, Mrs. Stillwater."
"Don't allow a small matter of cooks to annoy you, Mrs. Stillwater," said Lord Canning. "In case of emergency call on me. There are certain dishes which I pride myself upon. If cook has the bad taste to leave us, we will camp out in earnest."
"You're very good, Lord Canning," replied Mrs. Stillwater, laughing.
"Have you ever tried these special dishes, Lord Stafford?" inquired Mrs. Bunker.
"Ha, ha, ha, ha! no, Mrs. Bunker, My nephew is developing accomplishments which surprise me, to say the least, Mrs. Bunker."
"Isn't this fascinating! Look at the soft, dim perspective of the stream winding off there! The little islands, mysterious and fairy-like, in the deepening light! Those low clouds floating in the glassy surface—the picture fading imperceptibly, as we gaze! That gentle, continuous ripple with it all! There is no poetry to equal this. None which could convey such a sense of infinite peace and calm," enthused Lord Canning.
"I love this old road," said Indiana.
"I, too, love this old road," echoed Lord Canning, fervently.
When they finally emerged upon the open country there was still a dull, fiery streak in the western sky. In this fiery streak the evening star, rising slowly above the dark-blue outline of the mountains, glimmered faintly, a pearl in a ruby setting. As they drove on in the growing night, lights gleamed from scattered homesteads; the clear cold air blew keenly in their faces.
"I'm thinking longingly of that glorious fire in the hall," said Lord Stafford, rubbing his hands.
"There'll be a heavy frost to-night," remarked Indiana. "I can feel it. You'll see a great change in the foliage to-morrow."
"This is most exhilarating. I have been watching that long twilight in the west. How clear and bright it is there! This is a purely Northern sky," exclaimed Lord Canning.
A week later they received word from Mr. Stillwater that he was coming for the remainder of the season. Lord Stafford was present when the letter arrived, and notified his nephew in this wise.
"Pa's coming!" he exclaimed, bursting into Lord Canning's room.
"Pa's coming!" he repeated, in a feminine falsetto.
"What do you mean, Uncle Nelson?" interrogated Lord Canning, in an irritated voice.
"I'm repeating Miss Stillwater's words, 'Pa's coming!'"
"Oh!" Lord Canning gazed out of his window at the lake, thinking. "So papa is coming. Well, all the better!"
"He arrives to-morrow, the fifteenth. They're arranging a deer-hunt for the day after. The guides are jubilant that the real business of the season is to commence. They've been idling so long. Haven't you opened your letters yet, Thurston?" noticing the pile of letters on the table.
"I have read my mother's—here it is. She is well, thank God!"
"And you're going off without opening the rest of your mail—part of it arrived two days ago. There might be something important."
"I have an appointment with Miss Stillwater. That is the most important thing at present."
"Why—what—where are you going?"
"Well, if you must know, Uncle Nelson, I am invited to help her catch pollywogs down here by the lake. She does not like to be kept waiting. I'm in a great hurry, Uncle Nelson. Ha, ha, ha, ha!" He rushed out of the room.
Lord Stafford sank into a chair, holding his sister's letter.
"Well, I don't know what to make of Thurston. It really looks as though that little thing has bewitched him—that little blonde thing—it's too absurd!—ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!—she's clever, though!—she runs the entire tribe of them—mother, father and grandmother. She can turn Thurston round her little finger—em—en! Perhaps I ought to devise some means of getting him away from here. I promised his mother to look after him. But then the hunting is just about to commence, and I've been looking forward to it—so long—besides, what would Mrs. Bunker say?"
Catching pollywogs was one of Indiana's favorite recreations. She kept them in bottles for the pleasure of seeing them turn into frogs.
"Look at this little one! How beautifully green and speckled!" She held the little squirming, slippery thing fondly in her hand.
"I wish I were a pollywog!" said Lord Canning.
This remark, coming from such a source, appealed to Indiana's sense of humor. She laughed until the tears rose to her eyes, while Lord Canning surveyed her with a deeply injured expression.
"It's most unkind of you to ridicule my ambitions in this way, Miss Stillwater."
"And such lofty ambitions, too."
"They were—once, but they have gradually diminished, until now I am quite satisfied to be a pollywog—but that one in your hand, you understand."
Indiana put it into the bottle, then leaned back on the soft ground clasping her hands behind her head.
"Tired—so soon? But you weary of most things like this, I have perceived—a truly feminine trait." He lit a cigar.
It was one of those fair, bright autumn days, when one could imagine it was June instead of September, were it not for the glorious splashes of color that enlivened the lake.
"Do you notice," said Indiana, gazing upward through the pines, "how near the sky seems to us here?"
"Yes," said Lord Canning, "heaven seems very near to me here"—he bent down, looking into her eyes—"very near, and sometimes very far—"
The sound of a mandolin floated to them over the water.
"Glen!" cried Indiana, starting up. Lord Canning rose also, self-contained and somewhat pale. They watched the boat growing larger. Burt was rowing and Glen playing, "My Georgia Lady-love." Indiana stood up and waved her handkerchief.
"Why does he play that now?" she thought. "He played it that day in the orchard—when he told me—and I was sorry for him. It was such a beautiful day! He said there would never be another—maybe there won't.
"'Way down in dear old Georgia State,We parted—but she said she would wait—'"
sang Indiana, to the familiar strains. "There were so many apple-blossoms, and they were falling—falling over my face, my neck, my hair. The sky was so blue when I looked up through the blossoms—a different blue from this—
'She slowly dropped her head,And then she softly said:'Mister Johnson, 'deed I loves you too.''
We cried and made ourselves miserable—I wanted to kiss and comfort him, I wanted to whisper what he wished to hear—but something held me back. I was sorry for myself as well as for him. I wanted to please everyone—his folks and mine—but I couldn't. I didn't know then—I was waiting for this. But I'm sorry for Glen—so sorry!" She saw the boat through a mist of tears and the mandolin sounded far, very far away, as though Glen were still playing it in the orchard of her memory, where the blossoms fell, in a last rosy glow of the sun.
Lord Canning watched her, jealous of the new expression on her face. He realized she was carried away by some recollection in which Glen held a part. "A boy-and-girl affair, probably," he thought. "There is always a boy-and-girl affair, but it seldom amounts to anything—very seldom."
Glen joyfully recognized Indiana waving from the shore. "Looks as though she'd been standing watching for me ever so long, but that's too much to expect." Burt rowed slowly in, while Glen waved his cap, gaily. Indiana ran down to the dock to meet him, slowly followed by Lord Canning.
"Well, Glen, here you are at last!"
"Glad to see me back, Indiana?" he asked, holding her hand, while Lord Canning stood discreetly in the background.
"Cause—Lord Canning, this is Glen Masters, my old friend and playmate—the Right Honourable Thurston Ralph Canning, Viscount. Right?"
"Glen's a character," continued Indiana, "he hates cities."
"I do, sir," said Glen, rather aggressively. "But I'm not out of the swim. I keep myself thoroughly posted upon politics and literature of the world."
"He fought in the Spanish-American war," said Indiana, putting her hand proudly on his shoulder.
"And when it was over," laughed Glen, "I came, like Cincinnatus, back to the plow. My father's been working a farm this spring for his health, and I've been helping him."
"Character, brain, muscle," observed Lord Canning. "That is the stuff which has made the American nation what it is to-day." He extended his hand to Glen, who grasped it without enthusiasm.
"Mail for me, Indiana?"
"Yes, it's all up in your room." He took his coat and several other things from the boat.
"Did you have a nice time?" asked Indiana.
"Oh, I'll tell you all about it later. We had a fine time, lots of sport. I must go and shake hands with the folks now, and read my mail. See you later, sir." He swung his coat over his shoulder and saluted them, military fashion.
"Will you take me for a walk, Miss Stillwater?"
Indiana looked hesitatingly up at the camp.
"Oh, perhaps you would prefer to stay and talk with your old playmate. Do as you feel inclined, Miss Stillwater." But he looked distinctively aggrieved.
"Oh, no," said Indiana, carelessly. "There is plenty of time for that. He will tell us his experiences around the fire to-night. Where would you like to go?"
"Oh, let us simply follow one of those little 'trails' through the woods—one of those charming little trails, which one loses, and finds again, like a broken thread of thought, in the forest. There is always the murmur of some distant stream, which one vaguely hopes to reach—and sometimes a glimpse of blue sky through the dark pines."
The Might of the Falls
"She doesn't look a day over thirty! Remarkable!" said Lord Stafford.
"She grasps the ideas I present to her with astonishing quickness," answered his nephew, absently. "A very bright, eager mind. She has innate refinement and tact—for all her unconventional freedom of manner, which is only the outcome of her unconsciousness—and that is, after all, her particular charm, her unconsciousness. I catch a glimpse, now and then, of a certain wildness of spirit. I fear she would beat her wings against—certain fetters—unless—unless—well, it is most interesting to watch the phases of this young, tender nature—the product of a new civilization."
"Thurston, who in the world are you talking about?"
"Miss Stillwater, of course!"
"I thought so. You were talking about the young one and I was talking about the old one. It's very irritating—you've done that before."
"When did I do it before? And be kind enough to explain who you mean by 'the old one'?"
"Mrs. Bunker, of course."
"Oh, Mrs. Bunker!" repeated Lord Canning, with a sarcastic intonation. "I presume I have the same right to talk about Miss Stillwater as you have to talk—about Mrs. Bunker, Uncle Nelson!"
"No one's disputing your right, but you're continually talking about her!"
"I wasn't aware I monopolized the conversation to that degree."
"Well, you do. You're continually 'studying' her and relating the results of your observations. I should think you would know her by heart before you left her."
"Unfortunately, so far, I have not been allowed an opportunity for such extended knowledge. I'm rarely left alone with her long enough for a proper interchange of ideas. There are always so many plans and excursions on foot."
"By George, you're off with her all the time, somewhere!"
"Not for long," said Lord Canning, gloomily. "Before one is aware, it's lunch or dinner—meals are so interfering! What's that?" Lord Stafford peered out of the window. They were sitting in his room, which was flooded with moonlight.
"It's that Masters fellow. He's playing his mandolin on the lake. Fancy, at this hour!"
They smoked for awhile in silence, listening. It was long after twelve.
"We're going on a moonlight picnic to the Falls to-morrow night."
"So Mrs. Bunker told me. We drove there our first day here—don't you remember?"
Lord Canning looked at his uncle in utter contempt.
"Do I remember? What a delightful day it was, that first day! And how many delightful days we have had since! Let me see. We have been here going on four weeks—is it possible?"
"That poor chap," with an inclination of his head toward the lake, "seems awfully cut up about Miss Stillwater!" Lord Stafford watched his nephew closely. "Why don't you retire and leave him the field? You may as well, you know, first as last."
"I have no intention of doing it—first or last!"
"The devil you haven't!"
"Uncle Nelson, I have made up my mind to marry Miss Stillwater!"
"Good God! Your mother!"
"My mother will be satisfied with whatever is to result in my happiness. This is the only thing in my life I have ever intensely desired."
"Think it over—well over. You may change your mind."
"I have thought it over. You remember when I climbed Mt. Marsy with Haller. The night we spent on the summit—I never closed my eyes. In the morning I watched the sun rise over the forests, mountains and lakes. Such a young, rejoicing world! And I stood above it all, sleepless, miserable, old! The questions I had asked all night seemed vain and trivial. I was simply answered. 'Be happy!' said the new-born world, bathed in dew and light."
"I promised your mother to look after you," insisted Lord Stafford, weakly.
His nephew put up his hand in laughing remonstrance, then grew instantly grave. "Do you remember that log I threw in the Notch? How it was tossed and whirled onward, like a leaf, by the might of the falls? I am as helpless in the force that has now taken possession of me. I have ceased to reason. I am going—wherever the falls will send me." He drank deeply from the glass which stood at his elbow, Lord Stafford regarding him helplessly. They talked into the small hours of the morning.
Late in the afternoon Stillwater sat in a sunny corner of the balcony, reading the Herald. One hand held a nut, which a chipmunk was speculatively watching in the shadow of the big balsam tree. Whenever he ventured near, a rustle of the paper sent him scampering back to the branches, It was the first week of October and they were having Indian summer. The evergreens on the borders of the lake were a sombre background to the gorgeous autumn color of the beech and maple trees. The mountains were covered with an Oriental carpet of blended browns, greens, and reds. Mrs. Bunker came out on the balcony, shading her eyes to look on the lake.
"No sign of them yet."
"How long are your English friends going to stay?"
Mrs. Bunker leaned carelessly against the rustic railing. "I'm sure I don't know. Lord Stafford is a devoted sportsman, and his nephew is accumulating information about the country. They're both taken with the place, and—the people in it," she smiled, in a self-conscious way at her son-in-law. He looked at her closely. She wore a tailor-made gown, showing the fine lines of her tall figure. A scarlet cape dropped carelessly off her shoulders. Masses of silvery hair, piled artistically on top of her head, presented a striking contrast to her dark, youthful eyes.
"Grandma Chazy! You don't think of marrying again?"
Mrs. Bunker laughed as though her sense of humor had been irresistably touched. "I can't help guying Lord Stafford. He looks at me with those owl eyes, and takes all my jokes for solemn earnest."
"You will flirt, Grandma."
"I will, while there's a breath left in my body—but I'm not the only marriageable candidate in the house."
"Now, keep your match-making hands off Indiana," he said, rising and throwing down the paper. "I won't have it. If she marries away from us, it will break her mother's heart. If I thought you had any such schemes in your head—"
"Wouldn't you like to see Indiana Lady Canning?" she asked sweetly.
"No!" exclaimed Stillwater decidedly. "My girl's a good, little Yankee and she shan't emigrate." He passed up and down the balcony, talking excitedly. "Yes, there's rich emigrants and poor emigrants—and it's leaving your country, bag and baggage. England's got the flower of our women already, and of course, now the men are following suit."
"You talk like a backwood's man," said Mrs. Bunker, contemptuously. "You've never been abroad."
"No. You can do the globe-trotting for the family. Is there anything better than this—in Europe?" He gave a comprehensive sweep of his head toward the lake and the woods. "Those Englishmen are wild over the place." Mrs. Bunker folded her arms patiently, while he continued his restless promenade. "Hit me between the eyes with the Jungfrau—what's the matter with the Rockies? All the snow I want—there. Where can you see another Niagara or a Yellowstone Park—or a stretch of balsam woods, like we have here in the Adirondacks—or a—"
"My dear Horatio," interrupted Mrs. Bunker, "your spread-eagleism is wasted on me. You can be sure of one thing—when Indiana marries, we won't be consulted. She'll please herself—"
Mr. Stillwater brought his hand down on the railing. "She can have anything the world affords—but I won't buy her a title!"
Mrs. Bunker swept inside, laughing good humoredly. Seating herself by the fire in the hall, she took up a square of chamois upon which she was embroidering the head of an Indian chief, in full war-paint.
"The others not back yet?" asked Glen, entering presently. "They're making a day of it." He placed the gun he carried in a corner of the hall and threw himself into a chair by the fire. "Those Englishmen are having the time of their lives. Lord Canning monopolizes Indiana, without considering whether it's agreeable to her—"
"She's not the kind to sacrifice herself, Glen," said Mrs. Bunker, smiling, and setting colored stones among the feathers on the forehead of the Indian chief.
Glen stared into the fire.
"I think they've been here quite long enough."
"You're jealous," said Mrs. Bunker, laughing.
He looked at her with kindled eyes. "I am," he answered. "I confess it—horribly jealous!"
Again Mrs. Bunker laughed.
"You don't take me seriously, Mrs. Bunker."
"That's the trouble. I'm trying to laugh you out of this thing for your own good." She laid down her work and looked at him sympathizingly.
"Yes, I know you mean all right by me," he said with a sigh which was almost a sob. "But you needn't try to laugh me out of it—you can't do that."
"My dear Glen, you're making it very hard for your yourself! Take my advice for once."
"You can't laugh me out of it," he repeated, burying his face in his hands.
"I'll talk to you just as if you were my own—I've often wished I had a son. I could have done so much for him—I could have made something of a son of mine. You are a young fellow, with every advantage that money can give—handsome, and healthy, and clever. The world's before you. Rise up and be a man! Crush this thing under your feet! Don't consider your life is over before it's begun—because you can't have the first thing you happened to wish for. Love isn't the only thing in life—especially for a man. Look at the sphere a man has for his activity! I sometimes feel like shaking some of you!"
"You don't understand—you don't know—what a hold it has taken of me!"
"Nonsense! Make an effort! It's in you. You're a soldier—there are other battles to be fought beside those on the battlefield."
"I know. And I'll fight—when I must. It hasn't come to that yet. I haven't given up hope. Don't talk to me as if I were a coward. I went off to Manila, and I loved her then. I didn't know when I wished her good-bye but that it might be the last time I should ever see her. But it wasn't so bad as this man walking in here, a perfect stranger, and trying to steal her under my very eyes—when I've known her all my life. And what does it all mean? Fine talk—a little extra polish!"
"Lord Canning's a very interesting man—a man who holds a high position in England. Indiana also has her future to make. You mustn't expect because you've played with her as a child—well, what is the use of talking sense to you!"
"You mean well by me, Mrs. Bunker, and I thank you for it—you may be even right in what you say. You've travelled a great deal and met hosts of people, and you're very experienced, but you don't understand. This has been growing in me before I knew—growing with my growth—and growing after I knew—it's tearing a flower from the roots!" He rose abruptly and leaned against the door.
"Come out," called Stillwater. "What are you sitting over the fire for? The sun feels fine to-day! This is great weather! I'm half sorry that I didn't join the rest and bring down a few birds. Here's a boat coming in now. Lord Stafford's man with Haller."
"I don't see anything of Indiana nowadays, since those Englishmen have been here."
Mr. Stillwater looked at him significantly. "Well, they'll be gone soon—then we'll have her all to ourselves again, my boy!"
"Mr. Stillwater, you—you don't think Indiana cares for that man, do you?"
"No!" replied Mr. Stillwater, scornfully.
"He's a man of position," said Glen, "and she's flattered—that's all."
"That's all," repeated Stillwater, putting his feet up on the rustic railing.
"And another thing," Glen lowered his voice, "I suppose Mrs. Bunker's been getting in some of her fine work."
Stillwater winked. "You can depend on that. Hi, Flash!" Flash ran up, the bottles in the lunch-basket he carried rattling loudly. He bowed obsequiously, out of breath, as he neared the camp. "What sport?"
"Magnificent, sir! Partridges as thick as rabbits! Their lordships and the young lady h'is a coming, sir."
"That'll do," as Flash stood bowing and scraping. "I can't stand the crawling ways of these English servants," remarked Stillwater.
"Neither can I," said Glen.
"Well, Mr. Flash, look where you're going!" exclaimed Kitty, as Flash ran precipitately against her.
"Miss Kitty!"—he bowed exaggeratedly—"ten thousand pardons!"
"Give an account of yourself! Where are the folks?"
"They're h'on the lake. We 'ad a fine day's sport! I've never seen 'is lordship in good temper for twelve consecutive hours before. And their h'appetites, bless 'em!"—Flash whirled the basket in the air—"the h'eatables 'ave vanished and they've drained the bottles!"
"That's good!" said Kitty, relieving him of the basket. Flash sank down on a rustic bench with a sigh of fatigue.
"So the lordships are enjoying themselves?" Kitty seated herself beside him and looked meditatively at her shoes. "A lucky day for them when they fell in with the Stillwaters! We are celebrated for being magnificent entertainers."
"Are you?" said Flash, with a stare that comprehended every detail of her trim personality. Kitty was a source of much entertainment to him, besides being an unending study and a continuous novelty. Kitty, conscious of the stare, rose with a toss of her chestnut head. "I'm going down to the lake to watch for the folks."
"Stay 'ere, Miss Kitty!" pleaded Flash. "Don't compel me to mount this 'ill again!"
"There's really no necessity that you should accompany me, Mr. Flash." She deposited the basket within, and strolled down through the trees. Flash surveyed her from where he was sitting. Her smooth, shining hair was mounted by a modish black bow. She wore a little dainty, ruffled apron.
"Very neat!" he murmured, then rose with an effort and caught up with her.
"It's a big thing, as you say in h'America, to be 'unting and 'unting for miles and miles, and still be 'unting on your own 'unting grounds."
"I should say so! Mr. Stillwater bought up all that land you're talking about, years ago. It's worth ten times more now than what he paid for it. It's for that model farm."
"H'if all you've been telling me h'is true, I'm glad. I'm an h'expert on farming. I 'ave never seen h'anything like you describe, h'even in Devonshire."
"The farm's only a fad of Mr. Stillwater's. You should see our home in Indiana!"
"I say, Kitty," he looked confidentially in her face, "'ow much is 'e estimated at? Say two 'undred thousand pounds?"
Kitty laughed contemptuously.
"Mr. Flash, you're quite a nice young man, but you're very unexperienced. A man who knows how rich he is, is not a rich man in America. He's only well off. Mr. Stillwater has reached that stage where money is never even mentioned!"
"H'is it possible!" exclaimed Flash.
"I think I see the folks. So in future, Mr. Flash, when they say a man's rich in America you will understand he is not limited to figures."
William was rowing them all in. They were talking and laughing in the highest spirits. Mrs. Bunker came down through the trees in her scarlet cape, still holding her work.
"A most enjoyable day's sport, Mrs. Bunker," said Lord Stafford.
"You did bravely to-day, Miss Stillwater," praised Lord Canning.
"Not Still*water," said Indiana, in a drawling voice. "Still*water."
"I'm afraid I shall never conquer your proper names. As for your wonderful charms—"
"I'll give you a lesson," interrupted Indiana. "Suppose you saw a chubby little partridge over there in the scrub fern and wanted to bag him—what would you say?"
Lord Canning took his gun and levelled it in the direction indicated.
"I should say, I'm afraid the little fellow's out of gunshot, but I'll try."
"That's not American—to be afraid!"
"No, you'd guess."
"I—guess—when there's game to bring down! Never!" She seized her gun and levelled it at him. "I'd just bag him! Aren't you afraid?"
"No," looking at her meaningly, "ready and eager to be sacrificed!"
Indiana dropped her gun, laughing rather coquettishly.
"Good hunting, Indiana?" asked Mrs. Bunker.
"Good hunting, Grandma Chazy," answered Indiana, with a comprehensive look at Lord Stafford. "You see we know our Kipling, Lord Canning."
"I've ordered tea in the boat-house," said Mrs. Bunker.
"I'm glad you did. It would be a pity to leave the lake to-day."
Up in the cozy little room of the boat-house the logs were crackling. Gay sporting prints adorned the green walls.
"Will you have this chair, Miss Stillwater? Right this time? So glad! It was quite an effort, I assure you." He thought as he drew her chair near the fire—"Perhaps I shall not be obliged to make the effort long. What an endless source of pleasure it will be to call her—Indiana!"
"I suppose you're all dying for a cup of tea," said Mrs. Bunker, seating herself at the tea-table, while Lord Stafford sank into an arm-chair near the fire, warming his hands at the blaze.
"Where are the rest?" inquired Indiana.
"Your father and mother are having their tea together on the balcony. They're perfectly happy. I believe, Glen's there too."
"The devotion of your father and mother is very touching to me," remarked Lord Canning.
"They've always been like that—ever since I can remember," said Indiana.
"It's very beautiful to see, in these days of marital indifference and incompatibility."
"They'll be lovers to the end of the chapter," declared Mrs. Bunker. "And there's Lord Stafford enjoying his single blessedness. Think what you're missing!"
"Ha, ha, ha! Yes, Mrs. Bunker, but at present this delightful cup of tea is a great consolation."
"What have you found most interesting in the States, Lord Canning?" asked Mrs. Bunker.
"Well, I should say—" he hesitated, holding his cup and gazing contemplatively out at the lake.
"Don't be afraid to commit yourself," added Mrs. Bunker, quickly. "You English hate to make a positive assertion."
"Quite so, Mrs. Bunker," returned Lord Canning amusedly. "We think more slowly than you do—and you have asked me a very difficult question."
"I'll answer it for you," volunteered Indiana. "Your uncle has come to America to shoot things, and you for scientific purposes—ostensibly. But you spend night after night over your brandy and soda, discussing the American woman."
"Remarkable!" ejaculated Lord Stafford, adjusting his monocle and staring at Indiana.
"How did you find us out, Miss Stillwater?" Lord Canning laughed heartily.
Lord Stafford drew his chair closer to the tea-table.
"Are you not a very remarkable woman, Mrs. Bunker, even in this country of remarkable women?"
"You'll find women like me all over the States. You see we don't become old before our time—to make way for the girls. I had my daughter to rear, and I did it as well as I knew how. Then I superintended my granddaughter's training. Now she's a woman, I'm commencing all over again on my account." She laughed heartily at the serious countenance with which Lord Stafford heard her explanation.
"Remarkable, Lord Stafford, or bewildering—which?" She smiled archly into his face.
"Charming, this time, charming, I assure you!"
"The lake looks so blue and enticing from here! Shall we drink our second cup on the balcony, Miss Stillwater?"
Indiana assenting, Lord Canning brought her empty cup to Mrs. Bunker. "Make yourself comfortable in the hammock, Miss Stillwater. I will be out directly, with a fresh supply."
"Don't spill it, Lord Canning! Really your hand is very steady—a good sign! Another—with me, Lord Stafford?"
"I will take another with you, Mrs. Bunker."
He returned the cup and leaned comfortably back in his chair, enjoying the cosiness of his surroundings—the proximity of the fire, the blue lake shining in the distance, and the domestic picture afforded by Mrs. Bunker at the tea-table.
"How is it that a good catch like you has escaped the matrimonial anglers so long?" she asked confidentially, as she sipped her tea.
Lord Stafford stirred his cup in amused embarrassment, quite at a loss for an answer.
"Now, why don't you marry?" continued Mrs. Bunker.
"Er—er—I'm rather sensitive about being asked such personal questions," gasped Lord Stafford. "My own sister never asked me that!" He resumed a reminiscent expression. "She asked me if I should marry, but never why—never why!"
"You'll tell me, won't you?" urged Mrs. Bunker, sweetly.
"Oh, by George, I declare I've never even asked myself that question!"
"Well, I should be quick! Start an investigation committee and find out something about yourself. You don't know how long you are going to live."
"Mrs. Bunker, one never knows what you are going to say next."
"The lake has a ruby necklace," remarked Lord Canning, looking up from his note-book, in which he had been writing while Indiana rested in the hammock. The deep red coloring of the bank mirrored along the shore as far as one could see. "Ah, there is Mr. Masters going out in a canoe!" He watched Glen's well-knit figure as he paddled with swift, unerring strokes, clearing a perfectly straight line down the centre of the lake. "A very fine specimen of young manhood," he thought.
Later there was a tinge of rose on the mountains, gradually fading into purple. Glen remained on the lake watching the sunset. His solitary canoe rested in a spot commanding a view of White Face Mountain—that which Lord Canning had called the Mount of Perfection. Its giant shadow lay on the lake, with the purple glow on its towering peak. He was discouraged and depressed. The transient purple glow on the water reflected itself in his spirit for the moment. Then it faded, leaving the dark shadow of the mountain on the lake and a chill in the air. He paddled slowly homeward. He had isolated himself from the rest lately and spent his time restlessly roaming the woods with his gun, which lay for the most part neglected beside him, while he asked constantly of a blue patch in the pines why he should be robbed of his birthright of happiness. The pines, bending and sighing over him, whispered always the same consolation, as a sad nun, weeping with the stricken, will speak the lesson of submission she has learned, and, knowing nothing else, repeat it many times again.
A Moonlight Picnic.
They were all jubilant during dinner at the prospect of the moonlight picnic. When they emerged 'The Indiana' waited at the dock, illuminated with colored lanterns. The camp-fire burned brightly as usual. Haller sat on the steps with a lantern, ready to light them down to the lake.
"Just eight," said Stillwater, looking at his watch.
"No hurry," assured Mrs. Bunker. "This is to be an all-night affair."
"Dissipation in the woods—fancy!" remarked Lord Stafford.
The electric lights on the balcony were arranged to give only a subdued glow. Glen played his mandolin softly while coffee was served, his eyes fixed on Lord Canning and Indiana, who were talking in a very gay, lively strain.
"The Pacific coast is a great hunting ground, Lord Stafford," began Stillwater. "I've heard stories about bands of elk that once roamed the San Joaquin Valley in California, living on plains same as the buffaloes—miles away from anything like cover."
"Remarkable!" said Lord Stafford, while Haller listened with open-mouthed surprise.
"You see there was no demand for them before the discovery of gold, but when the miners came they wanted meat. And then there were travelling bands of bloodthirsty explorers. They and the miners murdered everything in sight—the white man generally does. I was told that the great novelist Dumas landed there in 1849, and one of his first performances was to kill an elk in Sacramento Valley."
"Indeed, an interesting fact! These vast herds of elk retreated—where?"
"To the Great Red Woods."
"Haller," called Glen, "I'd like to climb White Face to-morrow; it's such clear weather."
"'Tis clear," replied Haller. "Liable to have snow on White Face."
"Are you going to put me in your book?" asked Indiana. "Am I the type of American woman you will describe?"
"I am not going to put you in my book," answered Lord Canning. "I am going to put you—well, never mind. You are not the type—you are a type."
"That's so," assented Indiana. "The states are too large for any one distinctive type of woman. We all have that 'must-be-up-and-doing' kind of spirit. You call it 'nervous activity.' The Southern girl is neutrally active; the Eastern girl aggressively active."
"The Western girl—" suggested Lord Canning.
"Judge for yourself." She stood before him, her hands clasped behind her. "Physically light weight, but strong. I can climb a tree, vault a fence, ride a horse bareback, straddle and side-saddle. Mentally light-weight, but bright, with an enormous faculty for devouring literature, good, bad and indifferent. I love good music, and the impressionist school of painting. Character undeveloped; politically, an expansionist. I believe in the imperialistic policy, in annexation—stretching out and grabbing everything I can get."
"Bravo! Charming!" exclaimed Lord Canning, clapping his hands. "You are most interesting."
"As a study—or—or—a woman."
"Both," said Lord Canning. "When I cease to study your imperfections, I commence to love them." He bent over her, looking into her eyes. Glen struck a discord on the mandolin.
"I suggest that we start," interrupted Mrs. Bunker.
Lord Canning stood seriously gazing into the fire in the hall, while the ladies donned their wraps. His face brightened when he saw Indiana on the little balcony behind the Persian rug. She had put on a long white circular. The hood, edged with swansdown, made a pretty frame for her little flushed face. Her eyes, with their dilating pupils, looked dark under the yellow hair.
"Come down, little snow maiden! Or, are you afraid you will melt away in the heat of the fire?"
He met her at the foot of the stairs, and took her hand in a tender pressure. Mrs. Bunker coughed slightly behind them, and Indiana ran quickly out on the balcony, leaving Lord Canning under the amused fire of Mrs. Bunker's bright eyes. She shook her finger at him, and would have followed Indiana, but Lord Canning did not wish to be taken so lightly.
"Mrs. Bunker," he said in a low, intense voice, grasping the balustrade, "one moment, if you please. It may not be considered anything in America when a man of my age is seen holding the hand of such a very young girl, but, I am not a believer in light sentiment—flirting, perhaps, would be the term. I love your granddaughter!"
"It's easy enough to see that," laughed Mrs. Bunker. It was always amusing to her when people took themselves so seriously. "You have my good wishes. I have always thought very highly of you."
She held out her hand, which he pressed gratefully in his. "Thank you, Mrs. Bunker. Have you any idea if—if she cares for me?"
"The little minx is too smart for me," answered Mrs. Bunker.
"She is so non-committal," said Lord Canning. "I know she esteems me and all that; at times, I have fancied that I even interest her. But as to—" he gazed gloomily into the fire. "Well, it will be necessary for me to clinch things very soon, time is passing with dangerous rapidity—but still passing. Mrs. Bunker, when I met you in Cannes over a year ago, I did not know what a great influence you were fated to throw on my life. If she loves me, I will never forget that it is through you—"
"Don't thank me—yet," said Mrs. Bunker, shrewdly. "Wait until you're married a year."
"Oh, I have no fears on that score," asserted Lord Canning, with a very self-confident air.
"You don't know Indiana. If you attempted to cross her, she'd tear your hair out!"
"Goodness gracious!" exclaimed Lord Canning, laughing heartily. "Don't think you can frighten me by a little thing like that!"
"If I thought so," reflected Mrs. Bunker, "I wouldn't have told you, no matter how true it might be. Oh, nothing would stop you now, Lord Canning!"
"Nothing! I have lived a very matter-of-fact life—never very miserable, or the other extreme. I have had great satisfaction in my work. Now it's time I snatched a little happiness."
"Indeed it is," said Mrs. Bunker, in a soothing voice. Men, to her, were like big children—to be humored.
They had moved gradually toward the fire. "These logs," continued Lord Canning, "are a magnet towards which my eyes have been drawn every night since I came. If you knew what I see in them—such a sweet domestic picture, a vision of true happiness!"
"Well, don't depend too much on Indiana's domesticity," said Mrs. Bunker.
"We generally gauge a daughter by her mother, in England," stated Lord Canning.
"Well, it's different over here. The young generation are so precocious—so far ahead of the mothers."
"I do not call it an advance. The daughters would do well to copy their mothers in their allegiance to the home. I hope, if Indiana does me the honor to consent—"
"Well, you can have that out with her. She may be a model of domesticity, but you never know how a girl's going to develop. You can't be sure of everything"—she laughed mockingly—"that's the risk of marriage."
"I am staking everything on this one card—marriage," said Lord Canning.
"Why will you men play so high?" queried Mrs. Bunker, laughing again, as she swept out on the balcony.
"Why?" echoed Lord Canning, looking into the fire. His dark eyes smiled at what he saw there—the picture he had described in the glowing logs, had been his answer. "Yes, it is time I snatched a little happiness—how little, after all! The rest of my natural life seems short enough to love her in."
"We're going, Lord Canning," called Mrs. Bunker.
He hurried out, offering his arm to Indiana, as the procession followed Haller down to the boat-house. The lake by moonlight was a scene of such mysterious beauty that no one felt inclined to talk. Lord Canning was somewhat disposed to question the reality of his surroundings. He was drifting down a silvery sea of enchantment, Indiana's white-robed form at his side. Oblivious of criticism, he scarcely took his eyes from her young face, etherealized in the moonlight. Glen watched his loverlike attitude, with growing anger. To the various camps along the lake, the illuminated launch, passing with the faint strains of the mandolin, presented quite a fairy-like spectacle. Later, driving through the country, they were all talkative and lively, regaling the night with choruses, Glen playing and singing with a gayety he was far from feeling. Stillwater, who drove, complied, unhesitatingly, to a request for the old road. Lord Canning sat silent and spellbound the entire way, watching the stream winding before him—touched with tremulous waves of silver; the little islands dreaming in a moonlit haze.
William had been sent over to prepare, early in the afternoon. When the party arrived, the falls were illuminated by colored lanterns, decorating the rustic bridges, and hanging from the trees. They added a fantastic beauty to the natural wildness of the spot.
"I'm sure I am dreaming," said Lord Canning, as he stood alone with Indiana on one of the rustic bridges, listening to the roar of the waters and watching the many-colored lights trembling on the moonlit falls. "Studying late into the night, I fell asleep in my library at home. Jennings will come in soon and poke the fire, and I shall awake—in England!"
At twelve they sat down to a large supper-table. Kitty, Flash, and the two guides were in attendance. Lord Canning related some interesting adventures, and Stillwater taxed his memory for humorous experiences, which met with the hearty appreciation of his guests, who were very susceptible to the dry wit of the American. Glen complied whenever he was asked to sing, between the stories, but otherwise he was distinctly out of tune with the prevailing high spirits. He had been wrought up to the highest pitch of jealousy, by the absence of Lord Canning and Indiana from the rest, before supper. The entire evening appealed to him more as a nightmare than a festivity.
"Friends," began Stillwater, in response to a toast from Lord Canning, "I'm in the best of health and spirits. My family are all around me"—he rested his hand on his wife's head—"I hope to keep them so, for many a long day. We can't reckon on the future, but to-night I'm a happy man!" He kissed his wife, whose eyes had filled with a quick rush of tears.
Indiana jumped up and threw herself upon his breast, with a very sure premonition that she would soon leave him.
"Our host again!" proposed Lord Stafford.
His nephew drank the toast, feeling a sense of guilt that he was destined so shortly to ruffle the calm sea of Stillwater's domestic horizon.
"My distinguished guests have announced their intention of returning to England"—holding Indiana against his breast. "May they find their dear ones well and happy, and Godspeed to them!"
"Godspeed to them!" echoed Glen. "And a quick leave-taking!" he thought grimly.
Mrs. Bunker's happy philosophy was colored for the moment with a tinge of pessimism. "What a blind game it is," she whispered to Lord Canning. "He may be wishing 'Godspeed' to the baby I laid in his arms. Look at Indiana, she hasn't raised her head."
"Well, Indiana," said Stillwater, "aren't you going to drink 'Godspeed' to them?" He held the glass to her lips, raising her head from his breast. Their eyes were all upon her,—Lord Canning's tenderly anxious, his uncle's laughing, Mrs. Bunker's significant, and Glen's suspicious and jealous.
"Godspeed to them!" she repeated, gaily raising her glass.
When they finally arose from supper, Glen immediately disappeared. "I must get away from that awful white light," he thought, walking restlessly through the dark woods. "It's beating on my brain and driving me mad." His soul foreboded very truly that Indiana was lost to him. The soul is our Cassandra. It mourns and prophecies, while the heart is forever holding a carnival. A young girl decking herself with flowers for a fete. There is a shrouded form behind her in the mirror. It whispers, "Those flowers are blossoms of death. The fete for which you are robing, is a funeral." But, unhearing, unseeing, thinking of lovers and dancing, she decks herself in the mirror, a song on her lips.
Scarcely knowing where his feet were leading him, he found himself on the bridge directly over the falls. "She never notices me—I don't exist for her!" He looked down into the falls. "Living's only a fever after all—a mad fever of longing and jealousy. I'd gladly end it, down there—if it wasn't for the folks. Ambition! glory! I'd fling them all to the winds for the choice of pressing her little yellow head to my heart, just once, to still this horrible throbbing! If I had been brought home wounded and dying, she'd have sobbed beside me, and I'd have comforted her in my weak arms. Then she might have said, 'I love you, Glen dear!' just to make me happy—before the end. I would have fallen peacefully asleep then, blessing her. A happy death, to have died for my country, holding her to my breast, as my life bled away. Better than this—this fever called 'living'."
A hand was laid on his shoulder. "We're going home, my boy."
"Oh, I'm sorry"—he pressed his hand to his forehead—"I'm sorry that you were obliged to look for me."
Stillwater scrutinized Glen's set, white face. "The Englishmen are going. Things will come your way—soon."
"They'll never come my way," sighed Glen, "except, perhaps, when I've ceased to care."
"It seems to me that nothing is worth what I've been suffering—not even Indiana."
"She isn't," assured Stillwater, unhesitatingly, delighted at this conclusion. "Turn over a new leaf. Show her you're indifferent. She'll think all the more of you."
Lord Stafford was patting the ponies, while Haller arranged the harness.
"If you'll be kind enough to jump in, Lord Stafford," cried Mrs. Bunker, "we may reach home in time for breakfast! Come now, Haller, you've been fumbling long enough with that harness!"
Haller grinned at Lord Stafford. "That woman's full of life," he remarked, "I admire her."
"The devil you do!" exclaimed Lord Stafford.
As they started they all sung "On the Banks of the Wabash."
The moon was fading when they embarked on 'The Indiana.'
"The lake presents an unearthly appearance in this silver twilight," remarked Lord Canning. "It is vanishing quickly. There's still a parting gleam touching the dark pines here and there—lingering like the last caress of a dying hand. Everything is becoming vague. The world is fading away from us. How fascinating—these last few moments before the dawn. Ah, it is breaking! That suggestion of dark shore—this pale light on the black lake. Why, we are on the River Styx. Haller doesn't look unlike Charon. I can see you dimly, Miss Stillwater—a little ghost in your white cloak. We are all ghosts." He lowered his voice. "I am positive that Mr. Masters sitting there, with his mandolin, could not present a more tragic figure if his eternal punishment were to play for the amusement of all the shades crossing to Hades!"
Indiana laughed. Glen bit his lips savagely. It sounded to him like the mocking laugh he had heard in his dreams, on the farm in the West, that miserable week when he had exiled himself.
The morning mists floated above them, growing denser. The clouds reflecting in the glassy lake, exposed only a fringe of red foliage. Gradually the mists were tinged with a faint opaline glow, deepening gradually. The sun rose as they neared Camp Indiana.
Leading to the Altar.
Glen did not renounce his original intention of climbing White Face mountains. He slept for two hours, breakfasted, and started for White Face trail at ten o'clock. There was no one stirring at the camp. When he returned it was four in the afternoon. He found Indiana lying in the hammock on the balcony, Lord Canning, seated beside her, reading poetry aloud.
Glen threw himself into a chair. "I'm pretty well used up!"
"I should think so," said Indiana, "climbing White Face after being up all night! I'll order some tea for you, and then you'd better go to bed."
She sprang from the hammock and disappeared, returning again in a moment.
"Thank you, Indiana. I'm glad I went. It was magnificent! The view as clear as possible, and snow on the summit!"
"I thought we might see you and Haller from the lake, but I couldn't get Lord Canning away from the camp to-day. He was so lazy."
Lord Canning smiled. He had his own reasons for staying home, having resolved not to let the day pass without speaking to his host of the subject of Indiana. So far there had been no opportunity. The family did not appear until lunch-time, and ever since, Stillwater had been closeted, writing business letters.
Though excessively fatigued, Glen felt immeasurably better for climbing White Face. The physical tax had cleared his brain. He had been exhilarated by the cold, rare air on the summit. He drank his tea with a pleasurable sense of lassitude, and, his eyes fixed on Indiana swinging in the hammock, replied rather absently to Lord Canning's questions regarding the ascent.
Lord Canning rose, closing his Tennyson. "I think I'll stroll down to the lake, Miss Stillwater, if you don't mind." He smiled at Glen, with a feeling of generosity.
Indiana looked after him thoughtfully as he strolled down through the trees.
"He's a thorough gentleman—so unobtrusive. He never asks prying questions—and he's never in the way."
"Too slow for me," replied Glen, watching her narrowly. "But I suppose you must have someone to flirt with."
Indiana swung slowly. "Perhaps—I'm in earnest—this time!"
Glen rose and grasped her wrist tightly. "Don't say that, Indy! While you're single I shall never give up hope. Now, what's in the way? I'm not your inferior in education. Do you know any handsomer fellow than I?"—with a grim affectation of humor. "If it's for money—I have all you'll ever want."
"I must marry a man of the world. I want to live in the world. We're both undeveloped—I'm not a woman yet, nor you a man."
"I don't consider I'm not a man," said Glen scornfully, "until I have conquered no end of women, and have their broken hearts for trophies, like an Indian with a string of scalps. I love one woman, and if she won't have me—well, I'll not give up until I see her tied pretty tightly to another man."
"I'm not worth it, Glen." She caught his arm, gazing earnestly up into his face, "I'm not worth all your devotion."
"I know you have faults enough, but, God help me, I love you all the better for them."
"Everybody loves my faults," said Indiana, impatiently. "That's the trouble with me. If I could only find some one who would hate them and try to cure them."
"I couldn't be harsh to you, Indy. If you killed me, I'd die blessing you. You nearly did for me once—"
"Oh, it wasn't your fault—you were too young to know better."
Indiana sprang from the hammock. "Glen, what wasn't my fault?" she demanded, fiercely. "What did I do? You shall tell me!"
"All right. But don't get in a temper. I swore I'd never throw it up to you."
"Don't tease me, Glen," said Indiana, imploringly, "tell me—quickly."
Glen pushed his hair back from his right temple. "Do you see that?"
"Yes," uttered Indiana, in a frightened voice, "a deep, white scar."
"You did that." She recoiled, looking at it in horror. "You threw a pair of scissors at me—in one of your tantrums."
"Oh, no, no, no!"
"You were too young to remember, and they took you away so that the sight of the blood shouldn't frighten you."
"Oh, Glen!" cried Indiana, "how could I? And you're always so good—you never even hated me for it. Oh, Glen!" She took his head in her hands and kissed the scar impulsively. "Forgive me—forgive me!"
"Indiana, is there a chance for me?"
"You're not going to marry that Englishman?" he said, fiercely.
"He hasn't asked me."
"I don't know, Glen. Promise me you won't say anything to him about that," pointing to the scar.
"I've never thought of it myself," said Glen, sadly, "since then. I'm sorry I told you if—"
"Thank you for telling me. I'm glad I know. It hurts me, though—right here." She put her hand to her heart.
"Now I'm blue, but I'll get over it. To think I could hurt you, or anybody, like that."
"Oh, Indy, don't think about it. This scar is healed—long ago. You've hurt me here, far worse than that." He took her hand and pressed it to his heart. "There's a wound here it'll take many a long day to heal."
"Oh, Glen! Oh, Glen!" she moaned, piteously, trying to wrest her hand away. But he held it tightly over his heart.
"I don't know what you want—I don't believe you know yourself—I don't believe you realize what you're doing—you're too young to know. You're throwing away a rare, pure love, Indiana, as though it were a soiled ribbon. I'm not a man of the world, but I know what that means in life—you don't. It's all that counts in the long run. I don't say another man couldn't love you, but no one will ever love you better—remember that, won't you? And that mine is not a love which has sprung up suddenly—it has taken deep roots in my life."
"It's horrible to think I could hurt anyone like that," repeated Indiana, mechanically, looking at the scar on his forehead.
"That's the least. Think of the wound here," he repeated. "You could heal it, Indiana." He opened his arms. He might have won her by his very insistence, if it were not that the idea of another—a different life from what she had known—had shed its glamour upon her, the glamour of the new and strange. She would not trust herself to look at his dark, quivering face, but turned away and mounted the stairs, slowly, to her room, seeing him very clearly as she went, standing with his arms extended.
Later, Mrs. Stillwater found Glen sitting alone on the balcony, looking vacantly on the lake. He did not notice her, until she went up to him, putting her arm about his neck.
"What's the matter, Glen?"
"Indy won't have me—"
"You've asked her, then?"
"I'm so sorry, so sorry." She smoothed his hair gently. "I've always hoped it would be—some day."
"I haven't given—up—hope—yet," he said, doggedly.
She kept smoothing his hair, until Lord Canning joined them. Then Glen rose abruptly and went up to his room.
"Our young hero seems depressed," said Lord Canning, quietly.
"It's about Indiana," replied Mrs. Stillwater, very much distressed.
"He's a fine fellow, but, if you'll pardon me for saying so, Mrs. Stillwater, he's not the right husband for your daughter."
"He understands her better than a stranger would. He'd get along with her, I'm sure."
"Is it so difficult to get along with her?" enquired Lord Canning.
"Oh, I didn't mean that," replied Mrs. Stillwater, quickly. "There's no one more lovable and easy, if she's studied."
"What do you think of me as a husband for your daughter?" said Lord Canning, quietly.
"Lord Canning, you're not in earnest?"
"Why not? I should like to take my place in the matrimonial competition, if you have no objection."
She looked at him, standing there with such apparent composure. "What objection could I have to a man like you? But, I'm not the one to be consulted. Whatever Indy decides, I must be satisfied with. Oh, dear! Oh, dear!"
"Mrs. Stillwater, the idea is evidently disagreeable to you?"
"Oh no, not at all. But Indiana's so young, and you live so far away—and she is so unfit to be alone—without us. But don't consider me—I have nothing whatever to say."
"I had a pressing correspondence to-day, Lord Canning," said Stillwater, emerging upon the balcony. His wife put her hand on his shoulder.
"Well, mother, what is it?"
"Lord Canning wants to marry Indy?"
"Does he?" asked Stillwater, composedly. "Too bad—too bad."
His wife sighed heavily, and was on the point of leaving them, when Lord Canning took her hand, looking sympathetically into her eyes. "Why not stay and help me out?"
"Oh, I really must go—Indy's waiting for me. I never let anyone do anything for her. I always lay out her dresses, and brush her hair, and wait on her. She gets cross if I don't—and I love to do it."
"You don't approve of me, Mrs. Stillwater?"
"I do," she answered, tremulously. "I like you very much—you're such a nice, modest man for your position. Will you—" she hesitated, he still held her hand, looking inquiringly into her eyes, "will you wait a while and think it over before you ask Indy?"
"I have waited and thought it over well," replied Lord Canning, in a very decided tone. "I know this is very unusual, but, for the life of me, I couldn't ask a young woman to marry me until I was sure I would be acceptable to her parents."
"You are, you are," assured Mrs. Stillwater, quickly, "but it will be a great trial to lose her—that's what I was thinking of—only that." The tears rushed to her eyes. She turned and mounted the stairs, hastily.
"Mother is naturally upset when she thinks of Indy getting married," said Stillwater, who had been gravely listening.
"Naturally," agreed Lord Canning. "Suppose we walk down to the lake," he added, with an Englishman's dislike of being overheard.
"Marrying young runs in our family," remarked Stillwater, as they descended the steps. "My wife was sixteen, when she married, and grandma only fifteen. There's always somebody turning up, wanting to marry Indiana. But she's never been serious about anyone, I'm happy to say."
Lord Canning looked meditatively upon the ground, pushing, with the tip of his shoe, the thick layer of pine needles. Finally he looked up, smiling. "If I could make her serious about me, would you object?"
"Why should I?" asked Stillwater, dryly. "I don't have to live with you."
"Oh, no," replied Lord Canning, accepting the remark in a serious sense, "there's no possible necessity for it." Stillwater gave an involuntary chuckle, and, seating himself on a rustic bench built between two trees, offered his would-be son-in-law a cigar. "I ought to feel very much honored, Lord Canning, but I haven't reached that stage of imperialism, although my mother-in-law is a fiend on that subject. American women generally are. They're natural imperialists. They head a despotic monarchy at home." He laughed heartily, while his guest surveyed him gravely, lighting his cigar.
"Mr. Stillwater, I hope you do not consider my title against me?"
"Oh, not at all, not at all," smoking, in a very comfortable position. "It might help you with Indiana. It would be a new fad for her. You know we all have our fads. It's a good thing for us, too. Personally I like you. I like you very much. But—er—" he hesitated, studying the lake. There was plainly something on his mind which he considered should be said. Finally he rose, placing his hand kindly on Lord Canning's shoulder. "I want to give you a quiet piece of advice, and if you don't take it I want you to consider it as never having been said—will you?"
"I will, sir," said Lord Canning, gravely.
"Don't marry my daughter!"
"It'll never pan out. Your ways are not her ways; her thoughts and your thoughts are as far apart as—as if she spoke Chinese and you Pennsylvania Dutch."
"Mr. Stillwater, I am not easily frightened. The more difficulties I encounter, the more determined I am to win."
"Now, don't misunderstand me," added Stillwater, quickly. "My daughter's no worse than any other man's daughter—women, as women, are all all alike. But we understand and know how to get along with them. I married very young, and I continued to live with my wife, my mother-in-law, and my daughter, all different dispositions, without quarrelling."
"Yes, I have observed and admired the equilibrium of your household. It would be very valuable to me to know how you manage it. Will you let me into the secret, Mr. Stillwater?"
"Ha, ha, ha! Easy enough—I give in!"
"You give in?" Lord Canning asked, incredulously.
"Every time," replied his host, proudly. "I never stand out against them, so they can't quarrel with me—and when they quarrel between themselves, I agree with them all—separately." He looked at his guest with a self-congratulatory expression.
"I'm afraid I could not adopt that method," he said quietly, flicking the ashes from his cigar.
"There," Stillwater exclaimed, triumphantly, "I told you it wouldn't do!" They heard Mrs. Bunker laughing in the woods with Lord Stafford, and presently she came through the trees, in her scarlet cape, bare-headed, followed by her guest carrying a wicker basket, brimful of balsam sprigs.
"We've been balsaming," she said.
"I beg pardon," remarked Lord Canning.
"Balsaming," she repeated. "That's what they call it here—picking balsam." She knocked his forehead lightly with her forefinger. "See it now—or shall I get a hammer?"
He laughed. "My stupidity must try your patience at times, Mrs. Bunker."
"I wanted some to fill the pillow I am making for Lord Stafford to take to England—when he goes." Lord Stafford offered her his arm, and, laughing, they continued their way to the camp.
"Then you haven't much faith in our speedy departure—although you drank the toast last night, Mrs. Bunker?"
"Not in yours—your nephew's, yes. But I don't imagine you'll go with him."
"Probably not, Mrs. Bunker. Under certain circumstances, I might consider it advisable to prolong my trip. And I must say the prospect of remaining in America is delightful to me—most delightful."
"The fact is, Lord Canning," continued Stillwater, "we spoil our children. We know it, but we can't help it. The girls, mind you—the boys are easy enough thrown on the world—but the girls," he smiled fondly, "the pretty, little, delicate girls—how can you help spoiling them? You should have seen Indy—" Lord Canning's face assumed an expression of deep interest. "A doll—you could have put her in a quart pitcher. She'd roll up her little sleeves, and fight and sass me—we'd roar at her. As she grew up, it grew with her, and now when she gets in a temper, we all scatter till she's over it. And then she creeps under your coat, like a little, white mouse, and loves you so, with her pretty hands and her soft face. Now, what can a man do?"
Lord Canning regarded his host reflectively. "You begin early to make a rough road for the girl's future husband, don't you?"
"Oh, no! Our people understand that every man is under the thumb of his wife, and is proud of it."
This assertion sounded astounding to the listener. Before, however, he could grasp its full value, he caught sight of Indiana's white dress among the pines. As he watched her coming toward them, her head making a light advancing spot among the dark trees, Stillwater's friendly warning faded from his mind as completely as though it had never been given.
"It all rests with her now," he thought.
"Why so serious?" said Indiana. "Let me into this secret discussion. If it's not snow and ice, and the North Pole, I know more about it than Lord Canning—and if it's not farming, I know more about it than pa."
"I guess I'll let you fight it out with Indiana," remarked Stillwater, dryly. He looked at her, with a sigh, then climbed slowly up to the camp.
"We were discussing many things," said Lord Canning, bashfully. "Marriage; the training of children—"
"Marriage—with pa?" replied Indiana, with a laugh. "He's absolutely ignorant on the subject."
"Remarkable," said Lord Canning, "considering he's seventeen years married."
"Oh, that was only a boy-and-girl affair. In those days it was a farm, a wife to do the housework—and they always lived happily."
"I wish it were as simple a matter with you as with your mother," ventured Lord Canning.
"I'm different from mother. If I were not, you would not—"
"What?" asked Lord Canning.
"Oh, nothing," stooping to pick up a sprig of balsam, which had fallen from Lord Stafford's basket.
"Let us follow that little trail down there beside the lake," suggested Lord Canning, "do you mind?"
The day had been sunless. The evening was still and gray, the air soft and balmy, without a tinge of frost. Through the trees that fringed the trail, they caught glimpses of the glassy lake mirroring the gray floating clouds, and great masses of autumn color, with sometimes the intervening dark shadow of a group of pines.
"Men to you are like a large correspondence, which is read carelessly, 'answered' scribbled on the envelopes, then piled into pigeon holes—forgotten."
"I always throw old letters away," said Indiana, sweetly. "I never accumulate rubbish."
"Oh!" said Lord Canning. He walked beside her for a little while, thinking deeply. "How silent it is here," he remarked, finally. "This soft carpet of pine needles muffles every footstep. It seems sacrilege almost, to speak. This trail seems to me like a dim, narrow aisle of a church, leading to the altar." He looked upward at the glimpse of gray sky. "Indiana, I am a very serious man. I accept life as worth living only with serious aims." They emerged upon a small open space in the woods, dimly lit, with a Turkish carpet of many-colored leaves. He drew Indiana down upon a fallen tree, covered with silvery patches of gray-green moss. "My ideal of a wife has been an intellectual woman of my own world and standing. But your little hands have bowled over, like a set of ninepins, all my long cherished traditions and ideas. You have taken possession of me, in a way which terrifies me. I am miserable away from you. I am miserable with you. I am restless, sleepless—you flit before me like a tantalizing will-o'-the-wisp, whose light draws, maddens me. My pen is idle, my mail lies upon the table—unanswered. Tell me, have I a chance with you—or let me go. Let me put the ocean between us, for self-preservation."
"I don't wish you to think I trifle with marriage because I have refused several offers," said Indiana, seriously. "It's not waywardness or frivolity."
"You admit, in your feeling for me, reason has no place. And that your ideal of a wife is something entirely different from myself."
"Yes," said Lord Canning. "Reason has no place. It is love—love alone."
"I want you to know me as I really am, then—if you are willing to take the chances—"
"Willing!" He raised her hand to his lips.
"I am very much spoiled," Indiana continued.
"You have all the imperfections which make you charming to a lover, you will have all the virtues which will make you—divine to your husband."
"I must have my own way—even when I'm wrong. I'm fond of change, nothing pleases me long. I'm quick tempered, spiteful—but I'm always sorry for it, after—always."
"Sweetheart, I have watched you closely. I have seen glimpses of splendid feeling and heart in you, that have become choked by indulgence. Other conditions will develop the good that is in you—I am quite confident of it."
She looked through the trees at the gray lake. "I could be different—it is in me—but—somehow—"
He watched her face, caressing her hand. "You will love my mother, dear. She is a type of English womanhood. She is not strong, and has lived a retired life for many years. Our house may be quiet for you—at first."
"Oh, don't worry about that. I'll make it lively enough."
"Darling!" He tried to draw her into his arms, but she resisted him.
"What more, pretty penitent?"
"Yes. I want you to promise me that when I'm mad and want to do inconsistent things, and have my own way—when it's not good for me—I want you to promise me, no matter how much you love me—that you won't give in."
He laughed at her earnest little face. "I'm afraid I shall—I feel now as if I shall let you do anything, I love you so."
"Then I won't marry you. I've tried to control myself, but I can't, because everybody's so afraid of me. It makes me much worse. You're the first man I've ever taken seriously."
"Do you love me, Indiana?"
"No. I'm tired of the model farm—I'm tired of Grandma Chazy—I'm tired of Washington and New York, and I want to go to England." His expression sank at this frank avowal, only to change again at her next words. "I—I feel that marriage to me must mean the changing of every condition—or—" she looked imploringly into his anxious eyes, "I won't make a success of my life—and I want to be something more than I am—something better." She added quickly, "And, I wouldn't marry you, if I did not think I could love you—some day."
"I believe in the love which comes after marriage," he said firmly. "Given a fairly matched pair, the man the stronger, and there's no danger. I'm sure I shall make you love me."
"And you promise—"
"I promise, no matter how much I suffer, I won't give in." He clasped her into his arms, and kissed her passionately. A sudden wave of color surged over her face, and she drew herself away, with downcast eyes. He watched her anxiously, holding her hand. Then he persuaded her to sit down beside him on the moss-grown trunk. "A little sleeping soul has been given my into my care," he thought, smoothing her hair gently. "I must cherish it until it wakes. After waiting—after infinite patience—her love, when given, will be all the sweeter. I shall prize it more than if it had been easily won. We must wait for the most precious things in life. That is the supreme lesson to learn—how to wait—so we shall be worthy of life's golden gift, when it comes. It must come—the very power of my own love for her—the very force of my will, must bring it. Life owes it to me—her love." He touched his lips to her hair.
"Now, let's go and tell the folks," said Indiana.
"Yes, yer leddyship!"
"I thought I heard carriage wheels."
"Not yet, yer leddyship."
Lady Canning sighed, and Jennings sank stiffly on his knees and poked the fire, as he had done innumerable times within the hour.
"Her leddyship will be ill," he mumbled to himself over the fire. "It's a terrible strain for her leddyship."
"Yes, yer leddyship."
"Look again! I thought I heard them—this time."
Jennings rose with difficulty, pushed aside the heavy draperies that screened the library windows, and peered through the fog.
"Not yet—yer leddyship." He adjusted the curtains carefully with his shaking fingers. "Will I bring the tea, yer leddyship?"
"No, Jennings, I will have tea with my son and his young wife."
"His lordship may not arrive for sometime—yer leddyship may be faint."
"Yes, but nevertheless, I am firmly resolved to wait, Jennings." She closed her eyes with an expression of resignation.
"Very well, yer leddyship," said Jennings, in a heart-broken voice. He left the room noiselessly.
Lady Canning sat motionless in her large arm-chair near the fire. Approaching seventy years of age, there were still remnants of beauty in those fine, delicately cut features, slightly pinched through illness. Her calm, impassive face seemed to have outlived every stage of emotion, or lived through the emotional stage, without having experienced the emotions. For twenty years since the death of her husband she had maintained the strictest seclusion. A cobweb of ivory-tinted lace rested on her white, carefully dressed hair, and a fichu of the same was drawn over her attenuated shoulders.
The room in which she sat was a proper frame for her personality. It was filled with objects, some of rare value, that had mellowed with age. The years had taken from everything its element of aggressiveness. The tapestries, the paintings, the books, the furniture, blended into harmony of soft and faded hues.
Lady Canning suffered considerable excitement at the prospect of seeing her only son once more, after an absence of ten months, not to speak of a certain anxiety regarding her daughter-in-law. Thurston had written, "I will not describe Indiana. I wish you to form your own impressions."
"My dear son had no idea I would suffer any suspense regarding his wife," she reflected, "otherwise he would have written me every particular. He doubtless thought I would have every confidence in his judgment. And my fears have probably not the slightest foundation. It seems impossible that my son should select a woman for his wife who would be unfitted for the position. And yet, it appears strange he should have gone so far away from home to choose a daughter for me. It is quite natural I should have preferred him to marry a woman in his own sphere, from another old, conservative English family. I should have felt surer, then, that there would have been no after-complications. There are so few left of the real conservative families. The watchword of the others is 'Progress.' They grasp, all too quickly, every new idea that claims to be an improvement on the old. But we are more careful—we cling to our traditions—our old ideals of life. There are none better. There is Lady Isabel Waring—still unmarried, not a beauty—but great caste—great caste. She would have been devoted to me." Lady Canning sighed and opened her eyes.
Jennings was lighting the candles in the tall, many-branching candelabras on the mantel. The Canning mansion, in common with other old London homes, had been fitted up with every modern improvement, including electric lights; but Lady Canning, when she was alone, still clung to the old-fashioned candle-light, claiming it was softer, more agreeable for her eyes. Jennings was still allowed to perform the function of many years, much to his delight. He had a deep-rooted hatred of all innovations.
"This suspense is quite natural," thought Lady Canning, "in spite of my confidence in Thurston. I am a mother. A mother fears everything—and hopes everything."
Jennings suddenly paused in his occupation and inclined his head, listening. Then he blew out his taper, and hurried to the window. "They're here, yer leddyship! Yer leddyship!" His voice quivered with excitement, and he looked apprehensively at his mistress, as though he feared she might faint or give way in some respect. She rose, supporting herself upon a cane.
"Jennings," she said in a strong voice, "you had better join the other servants in the hall. You will be the first for whom your master will look."
"Ye—es, yer leddyship."
"I am prepared for anything," thought Lady Canning. "But no matter how unfavorably I may be impressed at first sight, I must control my feelings for Thurston's sake. He will naturally be sensitive regarding her."
Thurston presented a beaming face to the servants, lining the hall, as he entered with his bride. Before he greeted them, he took Indiana in his arms and pressed a kiss on her lips.
"Welcome to your new home, my dearest wife! I'm glad to see you all," he added, in heartfelt tones. "Jennings, you're looking well!" He pressed both the old man's hands in his.
"Welcome home, yer lordship, yer lordship!"
"Indiana, this is Jennings. You've heard me speak of him. He's been in the family since I was a child."
Indiana's blue eyes smiled into those of the old Scotchman. "How do you do, Jennings?" she said, with a friendly handshake. Jennings carried her hand, with a shaking motion, to his lips.
"His lordship's young wife," he murmured, looking with ecstatic delight into her face.
"My mother, Jennings?"
"Her leddyship's well, yer lordship. Her leddyship's in the library."
He hurried before them, but Thurston rushed past him, carrying Indiana on his arm, his hand clasped on hers. They laughed back at the old man, and he echoed the laugh childishly, with tears in his eyes. "You can't announce us, Jennings!" cried Thurston.
Lady Canning was still standing, with stately repose, by the fire. There was no trace, on her calm face, of the agitation she had been suffering, beyond an expression of pleasurable anticipation—the only visible sign of feeling in which she would allow herself to indulge.
"My dear son!"
He held her in a prolonged embrace. When he finally released her, she applied a morsel of lace to her eyes.
"My wife, mother," he said in a voice of immeasurable content and pride, placing Indiana in her arms. "Your daughter, Indiana."
Lady Canning was conscious of holding a morsel of humanity in her arms and of pressing her lips to a childish cheek. Then, as she surveyed her, she received an impression of something very young and small, with the coloring of an apple-blossom, whose deep-blue eyes met hers, struggling between consciousness, laughter and tears.
Realizing that her vague fears had no worse foundation than this childish creature, daintily costumed, her relief was so great that she took her in her arms again and pressed another kiss on her forehead.
Though Thurston had been perfectly confident of the effect Indiana would produce, he was none the less delighted at this mark of favorable impression.
"My dear child," said Lady Canning, "you must look upon me as a mother—you are still too young to be without one."
In order to control her tears, Indiana bit her handkerchief, which she was nervously rolling in her hands. The difference between her mother's last despairing kiss and the touch of Lady Canning's calm lips, was too strong.
"You no doubt wish to go to your apartments now, my dear," said Lady Canning, kindly.
"Yes, I should," agreed Indiana with a little, nervous laugh. She was quite indifferent about going to her apartments just then, but there was such a sure assumption of her acquiescence in Lady Canning's tone it was almost equivalent to an order.
"Thurston, ring for Watson. We will have tea presently. You are longing for some tea, my dear, are you not?"
"Yes," said Indiana, feeling that it was expected of her to say so.
"Watson, show Lady Canning her apartment. They have been newly furnished for you, my dear child, and I have not only followed Thurston's written injunctions, but, in addition, carried out some of my own." Thurston raised her hand, which he was holding, to his lips. She smiled on him fondly. "I hope you will like your rooms, Indiana."
"I am sure I shall, Lady Canning," said Indiana, with a bright smile and a mental resolve to like them very much. She had recovered from the tearful stage and felt now quite equal to her surroundings.
"And you will find your maid a very competent person—she brought the highest references," added Lady Canning.
Thurston led her to the door, pressing a kiss on her forehead.
"Is everyone old here?" thought Indiana, as Watson, a very elderly woman with snow-white hair, led the way, mounting the stairs with difficulty. "I don't like old people to wait on me. I shall feel more like waiting on them." However, she found the maid Lady Canning had selected, a very young, cheerful person. The gloomy impression she had received below was counteracted by her own suite of rooms, which were cheerfully and lightly furnished, in the daintiest of coloring. The boudoir was hung in shades varying from rose to palest pink; the ceiling hollowed and tinted to imitate a sea-shell; fairy-like crystal fixtures gleamed from the walls. There were a few treasures of art here and there amidst the draperies. A Greuze, hung in the best light, attracted Indiana immediately. Pink roses filled every available spot, in fragile vases of Venetian glass of the dolphin design. Indiana felt an impulse of gratitude toward Lady Canning for these preparations, in which loving care and the most exquisite taste were apparent. Minute attention had been paid to detail—no possible contrivance for her comfort overlooked. The maid told her that Lady Canning, herself, had arranged the flowers in the boudoir and upon the dressing-table.
"I must have acted like a fool at first," thought Indiana, fastening a pink rose, from one of the vases, in the breast of her travelling-dress, before going down. "When she said something about being a mother to me—that set me off. Poor ma! I hope she isn't fretting. I can't forget dad yet, as he looked when he wished me good-bye." Stillwater had not allowed his wife to go down to the steamer—he thought she had suffered enough. Mrs. Bunker remained with her daughter. When Indiana waved her handkerchief as the steamer left the dock, he thought of the day when she was laid in his arms.
"She is very young, Thurston," remarked Lady Canning, after Indiana had left the library, "a mere child."
"A mere child," echoed Thurston, with a very tender intonation. "You are right, mother." He sat down close beside her, taking her hand in his. "Yet I was instantly attracted to her. You, too, will soon feel the charm that she exercises, all unconsciously. I have no words to tell you how I love her." His face grew very serious.
"That is quite enough to recommend her. She must certainly have exceptional qualities. A very fortunate girl to have inspired such a love in you—I daresay she fully realizes that."
Thurston smiled involuntarily. Indiana took his devotion as a matter of course.
"She has a winning smile," said Lady Canning. "I could see she was quite effected by the warmth of my reception—I no doubt remind her of her own mother. She is very young to marry and leave home. But perhaps after all her youth is in her favor. She is such a child it will be easy to mould her—don't you think so, Thurston?"
"Er—yes, of course, mother," answered Thurston, pulling his mustache in some perplexity. He foresaw an endless vista of trouble in case of any perceptible effort to mould Indiana.
"We must not expect too much of the child," continued Lady Canning. "Be sure you do not make such a mistake in the beginning, Thurston. Coming from a place where there is no idea of caste, she will naturally make many mistakes. It will take time before she can fit into her position as she should. You see, Thurston, I am ready to make every allowance for your wife."
He bent down and kissed her frail white hands. There was a large measure of reverence in his love for her. "I have given Indiana my Greuze, Thurston."
"Your Greuze, of which you've always been so fond?"
"Yes. I believe in the influence of fine arts upon the young. Your wife's mind is now budding out, drinking every new impression as eagerly as a flower drinks the dew. It is for us to see that those impressions are of the highest nature."
Indiana entered, very bright and smiling. She went immediately up to Lady Canning and kissed her.
"I don't know how to thank you for all the trouble you have taken, Lady Canning."
Lady Canning smiled in a gratified manner. "I am amply repaid, if you are pleased, my dear child."
Jennings then brought in the tea. He looked so aged, Indiana felt like jumping up and taking the tray from him, at the same time pushing him gently into an arm-chair. He was a little, thin old man with sharp features and blue eyes, his snow-white hair plastered smoothly on each side of his head. He had been in the family since a boy, and, as is generally so in such cases, his individuality, his interests, or, properly speaking, his entire life, had become absorbed in those whom he had served. His position now was purely nominal, consisting principally of light duties, which kept him in near proximity to the family.
Lady Canning, talking in her low, distinct tones, dispensed the tea from a very old massive tea-service. Indiana noticed that she never raised her voice, and she dropped her own insensibly. She was, wisely, not too profuse in her praises of her apartments, quick to see that Lady Canning was not of a nature to appreciate much demonstration. But she continued to show her gratitude delicately by an opportune remark now and then.
"I have not heard much from your Uncle Nelson," remarked Lady Canning. "Oh, don't worry about him," laughed Indiana. "He's enjoying himself immensely—isn't he, Thurston?"
"Yes, my darling. He has really quite assimilated himself with the American life, mother."
"Indeed! You surprise me. One would have thought at his age, that that would have been very difficult—"
"Oh, not at all," interrupted Indiana. "You see, my grandmother has taken him in charge. They go out together, everywhere."
"Your grandmother," repeated Lady Canning, raising her eyebrows. "And she is able to go out—everywhere?"
Indiana gave vent to a burst of merriment, then checked herself, suddenly. Her laughter had sounded very loud in those quiet surroundings. "Grandma Chazy enjoys life more than any of us. She's full of health and spirits."
"Remarkable, is it not, Thurston?"
"Women don't grow old in the States, mother."
"They take all they can, out of life, to the last gasp," explained Indiana.
"I should not like to censure women of another environment to my own," said Lady Canning. "But at a certain age, I think it better fitting to prepare oneself for the next life, than to still seek enjoyment from this. How does it appear to you, my dear child?"
Indiana hesitated, then met Thurston's eyes fixed anxiously upon her. "As you say, Lady Canning, I think it would be better fitting," she answered, seriously.
"I'm glad you agree with me," said Lady Canning, well pleased. "From this one example, Thurston, I am inclined to think that my ideas and Indiana's run very much in the same groove."
"So it seems," he answered, stroking her hand, and watchful of Indiana, whose face, however, maintained its serious expression. From this conversation, Lady Canning was artfully led by her daughter-in-law into delivering a homily on the seriousness of life, and the necessity of control, where the pleasure-loving instincts of the young were concerned. Indiana took every opportunity of agreeing with her, sitting up stiffly, like a flaxen-haired doll, in the high backed chair, nodding at intervals, and with an expression of grave self-importance, that contrasted oddly with her rosebud prettiness. Meeting Thurston's eyes, which were fixed upon her in open surprise, she frowned reprovingly, and drew herself up a little more stiffly. "This is a very happy moment for me," said Lady Canning, with a gentle sigh, "to have you with me again, Thurston—with your wife—I can hardly realize it yet. I think Indiana and I are going to be very congenial, Thurston. Come here, and sit down by me, my dear child."
Indiana obeyed, and Lady Canning took her hand and patted it gently.
"Now I have a son and a daughter. I hope you will be happy in your new home, my dear."
"Thank you, Lady Canning," said Indiana, "I intend to be happy."
"That's right. Now, though we have much to say, I think it advisable to reserve it for this evening. It is best that I should rest until dinner."
"I hope this has not been too much excitement for you, mother," said Thurston, solicitously, giving her his arm.
"Pleasant excitement will not harm me, but I must be careful. I will see you at dinner, Indiana." She kissed her on the forehead. Thurston led her to the door, Indiana accompanying them.
"I did not know you were such an artist in dissimulation, Indiana," said Thurston, taking her head in his hands and gazing into her mischievous eyes.
"To what are you referring, may I ask?" she inquired, in a dignified tone.
"Why, the tactics you have begun with my mother. She thinks you are a perfect paragon."
"And, am I not?" drawing herself up.
"Yes," answered Thurston, laughing and kissing her hands.
Indiana found dinner a slow and tedious ceremony. It was noiselessly served, without the clatter of a dish or the sound of a footfall. At intervals, Jennings' old face peered into hers, consulting her wishes in a whisper. Their places were set very far apart at the large, round table, handsomely equipped with heavy silver and crystal, as though for a formal banquet, and decorated with white roses and maidenhair fern, in honor of the bride. She had selected from her trousseau a French gown of white satin, showing her childish neck. The maid had dressed her yellow hair in puffs in the correct English style. She was very quiet during dinner. Her head still felt a little unsteady from the steamer, and when Thurston or Lady Canning spoke, their voices sounded very far away.
Her impressions that first night in her new home were most indistinct. She had a floating conception during dinner of old mahogany, silver, and armor. Later, in the library, as she listened to Thurston entertaining his mother with details of his American trip, she was the victim of a feeling of unreality, inspired by surroundings altogether new and so entirely old. The candle-light seemed to point, with long, mysterious fingers, to the books which lined the walls, indicating dark and magic secrets locked between their ancient covers, and to waver upon the faded figures in the Gobelin tapestries until they appeared to move, endowed with life. Lady Canning, leaning back near the fire, with her fine, pinched features, her white, fragile hands resting motionless upon the arms of her chair, seemed like a figure moulded in wax.
When his mother retired, Thurston took Indiana through the house. Jennings solemnly preceded them, lighting up the rooms. Standing in the background, he nodded his head from time to time in corroboration, as Thurston explained the family portraits and related the histories of various heirlooms.
As the first months in England slowly passed, Indiana's single life seemed like a dream to her. Her marriage proved the changing of every condition, as she had wished. And she preferred to think she had acted for the best. One fact gave her a great and unselfish pleasure. She had won Lady Canning's love, completely, by pursuing the artful policy with which she had started, based on a very shrewd idea of the elder woman's character.
Thurston missed her old spontaneity, and watched her closely, unknown to her. His loving solicitude, which often tried to discover delicately if she missed her old life, or if there was anything lacking in the new which he could supply, only made her impatient. She professed to be perfectly happy, yet he sometimes felt as though he had caged a bird, who refused to sing. Still the bird had flown willingly into his hand. His tender worship had won nothing from her, so far, but an amiable tolerance. They were in the position of queen and vassal. His pride suffered bitterly at times. His hope that she would learn to love him had grown into a great and secret longing. He felt it to be the only solution of them both. His very existence was now based on this consummation. The best of life is given to building a beautiful fabric of spider's webs, colored with the passing tints of the rainbow—because there is an everlasting charm in that which fades before the eyes, and can be demolished by a touch.
Lord Stafford arrived in England some months later. He drove up to the house one Sunday morning an hour earlier than he was expected. Lady Canning and Indiana had not yet come home from church. After welcoming him, with tears of joy, Jennings tottered upstairs to tell Thurston. Lord Stafford went into the library and, with a sense of happiness to be again in his old surroundings, toasted himself once more before an English fire.
"Uncle Nelson!" exclaimed Thurston, rushing into the room.
"Thurston, my boy!"
Relinquishing his hand, Lord Stafford subjected his nephew to a critical survey.
"Well," said Thurston, laughing, "is the examination satisfactory?"
"You've changed—for the better," answered his uncle with a puzzled expression. "More vivacity. In fact, you've grown younger."
"I'll explain. I was an old bachelor. Now, I am a young married man." They both laughed heartily.
"So the international combination has panned out, as we say in the States?"
"Worked like a charm from the start," said Thurston.
"Remarkable. And with your mother?"
"Mother has completely succumbed to Indiana, and spoils her shockingly."
"I'm very glad of that, I'm sure. I've been homesick ever since I saw you off with your bride, but I was really afraid to come home until the new wife had fitted into the new conditions."
"You don't know my Indiana. Wait until you see how well she fits into the new conditions." They heard the sound of carriage-wheels. Thurston hurried to the window, his face lighting up. "Here they are—here's my wife!"
Lord Stafford met them at the door of the library. "My dear sister!" folding her in his arms.
"Nelson, I'm very glad to have you at home, you wanderer! You look marvellously well, and tanned by the sun. Have you seen our dear little daughter? Where are you, Indiana?" Thurston had drawn her to the fire and was taking off her gloves.
"Here, dear Lady Canning," said Indiana demurely, with a strong effort at an English accent. "How do you do, Uncle Nelson?" She offered her cheek, which he kissed, then surveyed her with great curiosity. She looked the personification of English maidenhood, dressed in a plain, gray gown, without any pretension to style of cut. A little bonnet, tied under her chin, rested on her yellow puffs. She stood there, very demure and quiet, still holding her prayer-book.
"And how do you find our sweet child looking, Nelson?" inquired Lady Canning, sinking into an arm-chair.
"By George, I should say I found her very much changed!"
"For the better, dear Uncle Nelson?" said Indiana, sweetly.
"When we transplant a flower," remarked Lady Canning, "we must watch it very carefully for a time, lest it wither in the process. Indiana is a most flexible little person. She appears to have taken root in our soil so easily. She had not been here a week when she was perfectly at home."
"Thanks to your good advice, Lady Canning. You have taken so much trouble with me."
"To be frank, Nelson, Indiana was a most agreeable surprise. When Thurston wrote me that he had selected a wife in the wilds of America, I felt ill with fright. I couldn't find out anything about the place, and the name suggested horrible visions of half-breeds and wild girls who climb trees and ride horses bareback."
"America is a very large country, dear Lady Canning," said Indiana. "There are tree-climbers and bareback riders in the uncivilized parts, I believe." Thurston turned away to conceal a laugh. "In fact, I myself must have appeared—er—strange to you at first, did I not, dear Lady Canning?"
"Oh, no! Only a little rasping quality in the voice, which has since greatly modified."
"That is our climate, dear Lady Canning. The sharp winds have a tendency to pitch our voices in a high key."
"And your gowns, dear, were a little too modern—too expensive for a young wife. You don't mind my saying it, Indiana?"
Indiana gave her an angelic smile. "I am so grateful to you. Lady Canning has given me the real English taste in the selection of a gown," parading before Lord Stafford, who, inserting his monocle, inspected her seriously. "Dowdy, isn't it?" she whispered, as Lady Canning bent over the fire, warming her hands. "I adore Irish poplins, Scotch plaids, English cheviots—and seed-cake. My first bonnet! Isn't it a love?" She tossed her head waggishly in Lord Stafford's face, so that a bunch of Prince-of-Wales feathers tickled his nose. "So unbecoming!" she added in his ear. Lady Canning turned, with an expression of smiling satisfaction.
"In my time, dear, as soon as a girl married, she wore a bonnet with strings. That's always the sign of a matron in England. You know there must be something to distinguish the married from the single woman."
"Yes, certainly, I approve of it," said Indiana. "Then there can be no fear of any mistakes being made by strangers." She heaved a deep sigh of conscious virtue. Lord Stafford dropped his monocle and fell into a chair, laughing unrestrainedly.
"You've caught on, Indiana! Ha, ha, ha, ha! As they say in the States—you've mashed them cold all 'round! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"
"Dear Nelson," said Lady Canning, severely, "what do you mean by such expressions? They appear to me very vulgar. Is it really American, Indiana?"
"Not at all, dear Lady Canning," said Indiana, reassuringly. "Those expressions you have just heard," she shivered slightly, "are mere barbarisms. They are used only by the natives of the uncultivated wastes."
"The natives. A sort of dialect, I suppose, my darling. Go and lay off your bonnet and smooth your hair."
Indiana pouted rebelliously at Thurston. "May I go?" Sweetly, "Thank you very much."
She kissed Lady Canning and walked demurely to the door.
"Remarkable!" murmured Lord Stafford.
"The child has perfect manners," commented Lady Canning, with a sigh of content, as Thurston followed Indiana from the room. "One would think she had been born and bred in England, thanks to my policy, from the very beginning. I don't allow her to call me mother—the child's too young. It's a better moral effect—and, with a little tender firmness, combined with just a spark of dignity that awes, I have accomplished wonders. I shudder to think what would have been the results if I had not been here. Thurston spoils her shockingly."
"Ah, does he? Very wrong of him, very unwise, I'm sure."
"Yes, is it not? But it's turned out very gratifyingly. You know how averse I've always been to Thurston marrying a modern woman—one of those editing magazines, forming clubs and racing women?" She shuddered. "When Thurston broke it to me, I was very doubtful of the results—very. But his heart carried him away. I don't wonder at it. She's so bright, so clever, so amusing, so lovable. She must have come from very fine stock."
"Very," answered Lord Stafford, seriously. "You should see Grandma Chazy Bunker. She 'beats the band'—as they say in the States." He regarded the ceiling with an expression of delightful reminiscence, which broadened gradually into a laugh. He rose suddenly and approached his sister. "Helena, I am going to let you into a little secret." He looked around mysteriously, then added, in a loud whisper, "Indiana's people are in London. They came over with me from America."
"Her father, mother, and grandmother, and, as they say in the States"—Lady Canning braced herself from the shock which inevitably followed this remark—"'they're going to make Indiana's hair curl!'"
"Speak English, if you please."
"They're going to give her a surprise party."
Lady Canning looked at him incredulously. "Do you mean to say they're going to drop down on that poor child without sending her word?"
"You can bet your sweet life on it! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!" He sank into an arm-chair, overcome with mirth. The entire affair was a huge joke to him, irrespective of the fact that his sister failed to perceive the humor of his communication.
"What an undignified proceeding!" said Lady Canning, in shocked tones. "Her grandmother, too!" Lord Stafford went off into another paroxysm of mirth. "Why, the highest respect is due to their age in the way of preparation."
"In America there's nothing gives so much pleasure as springing things on a person. The surprise party is a national institution."
Lady Canning rose to her feet, perceptibly agitated. "My dear brother, think of the shock to Indiana. It might be serious."
"'She won't turn a hair'—as we say in the States. She's a thoroughbred! Ha, ha, ha, ha!"
"I'm very glad you told me. I must go and make some kind of a toilette to receive them, and the housekeeper must be apprised."
"My dear sister, 'don't put yourself out'—as we say in the States."
"Poor Indiana! Most unheard-of proceedings!"
During dinner Indiana plied Lord Stafford with questions about her family, all of which he answered seriously, with a knowing twinkle in his eyes. Lady Canning regarded her unconscious face with growing sympathy. She went to her rooms immediately after dinner. "I shall not make my appearance," she thought, "until all the excitement is over. I am upset enough as it is. I can scarcely look at that poor child—I feel so badly for her."
Indiana, entering the library demurely, and seeing that Thurston and Lord Stafford were alone, rushed toward them with a shrill little cry. She laughed as they both started to their feet.
"I'm only giving vent to my repressed exuberance. I can be natural with Uncle Nelson, can't I, Thurston?"
"Why not be natural with my mother? It pains me to see you playing a part with her. She's not such a dreadful person."
Indiana smiled comically at Lord Stafford, sinking down upon the hearth-rug at his feet. "The ingratitude of men! He asked me to make his mother love him, and to succeed it was necessary to adapt myself to her ways. If I had argued with her, he would have disagreed so radically it would have been impossible to live under the same roof. I know that it is a necessity at present, so I agree with her in everything. Consequently, I'm the best, the most lovable girl in the world. All the same, I own her, body and soul—that's my method of subjugation. Of course, he's not satisfied. Nothing I do pleases him."
"Uncle Nelson, I'm frightfully good," continued Indiana, ignoring Thurston, whose eyes were fastened upon her in mute and tender reproach. "I've never been so good in my life"—she clasped her hands, raising her eyes to the ceiling—"I feel like an angel—so sweet, so obedient, so ordinary. Thurston doesn't appreciate it. He doesn't love me as much as he did before we were married."
"Indiana!" exclaimed Thurston, seriously, "how can you say that?"
"I thought he was a gentleman of leisure, and he works harder than a farm hand. He sits up half the night, reading and studying. If I had known he was such a great scholar I wouldn't have married him."
"Indiana, do you mean that?"
"No,"—serious face—"I was only joking. Uncle Nelson, do you think he will ever be a great man?"
Lord Stafford glanced amusedly at Thurston. "I hope so."
"Oh, as great as Thomas Carlyle? Don't say yes, because I'll run away. You know what Jane Carlyle said about the wives of men of genius? They're more miserable even—than—than doctors' wives. Thurston has symptoms. He sits up all night and writes like Carlyle. Between times the old crank used to go out in the back yard, and sit on the fence and smoke a pipe—in his night-shirt. That's the next thing I'll get."
The two men laughed heartily. "You little witch," exclaimed Thurston, catching her up in his arms and kissing her, "you are simply irresistible!"
"Now, I'll give you an imitation of a chipmunk," cried Indiana, in high spirits, jumping up on a lounge, and imitating to perfection a chipmunk sitting on its haunches and nibbling a nut. Lord Stafford applauded, while Thurston watched the door, his mind divided between admiration for his little wife's clever imitation, and fear that his mother might enter during the performance.
"Do you remember the night we all went on a moonlight picnic to the Falls—and Glen was so jealous—poor Glen!—and we sang 'On the Banks of the Wabash'?—
'Oh, the moonlight's fair to-night along the Wabash,From the field there comes the breath of new-mown hay,Through the sycamores the candle-lights are gleaming,On the banks of the Wabash, far away.'"
Her voice quivered and she sank upon the ground, sobbing like a child, with her head against the table.
Thurston made one quick step toward her and gathered her up in his arms. "My darling, don't cry! You break my heart." He pressed her to his breast, smoothing her hair mechanically. A hopeless expression had settled in his eyes. Lord Stafford looked at them miserably, then considered the best thing to do, under the circumstances, was to make his escape in the quietest manner possible.
Thurston sank into a chair, holding his wife closely to his heart. "I know you're homesick—unhappy," he whispered. "I feel it, and I'm helpless against it. What can I do?"
"Nothing of the kind," she said, lifting her head suddenly. "There—I frightened Uncle Nelson away!" She slipped from his arms to the floor. "I'm not homesick. I mean—not all the time." She gave a piteous little gulp. "That song upset me, and I had a terrible longing just to get a look at dad and mother and Grandma Chazy, and then pack them all home again." Thurston heaved a sigh from his heart. "I wish you wouldn't take me so seriously, Thurston," she continued, in an aggrieved voice. "Don't watch every quiver of my eyes, and think it's a tragedy. Discipline's a very good thing for me—I like it. But I wish you wouldn't believe every word I say. It's aggravating enough when your mother does it."
"I'll try not to. But I want to follow your thoughts—I want to be one with my wife." He drew her to him, gazing with yearning tenderness into her eyes. "It's difficult to—to adjust my slow emotions to your rapidly changing ones. You force my sympathy—and repel it—in a breath. Your moods change with the minutes. But all that wouldn't matter if I were sure you were learning to love me—to give only a little, in return for my deep affection. That would set my heart at rest and smooth away all difficulties." He looked beseechingly into her eyes. But she silently evaded his glance. Her face had grown suddenly very serious. "Indiana!"
"I—I was thinking—perhaps it was wrong to marry you—but I did not love anybody else—and I will try."
"Indiana, if you knew how your words stab me. You have a terrible capacity for torturing."
"Now you're sorry you married me."
"Sorry!" he repeated, intensely. "I'd give up my life sooner than you—I try to control my love, but I can't keep it always smothered. I don't want to frighten you, child—for you are only a child yet—but I shall keep my word when I said I will make you love me." He pressed her passionately in his arms. "Indiana!"
"Thurston!" she murmured, for the moment yielding to his embrace.
A discreet cough sounded in the room. Thurston released his wife instantly. Jennings came toward them, holding a salver out with a hand which shook more than usual. There was also a certain rigidity in his face, from the effort to conceal emotion of some kind. Thurston took the card from the salver, with a vague impression that there was something strange in Jennings' behavior. Then his own expression changed into incredulous surprise. He read, with a rising inflection of the voice which ended in a shout:
"Mr. and Mrs. Stillwater—Mrs. Chazy Bunker, Indiana, U.S.A."
"I Shall Keep My Promise."
Indiana, with a scream of joy, flung herself into her father's arms. He had followed Jennings closely. Also Mrs. Stillwater and Mrs. Bunker. The latter embraced Thurston exuberantly, then Mrs. Stillwater threw her arms about his neck, and immediately tore herself away from him, crying.
"That'll do, father. Let me have one kiss—oh!" She was almost hysterical with excitement. "That'll do, father." He finally gave Indiana over to her mother, who pressed her to her breast, with inarticulate expressions of love. Stillwater then shook hands with Thurston, who had met the onslaught calm and smiling, though inwardly rejoiced for his wife's sake.
"Come," said Mrs. Bunker, with a beaming face, "pass her round."
"You dear old things," cried Indiana, "this is what I call a surprise! Now sit down, all of you." She pulled her father and mother down on the lounge, sitting between them. Mrs. Stillwater gazed at her, speechless with happiness. Stillwater smoothed her hair tenderly, pressing her head against his breast. "Tell me all the news. How's everybody at home? Anybody engaged—or married? How did you happen to come? What put it in your heads? How long are you going to stay? How—?"
"Good gracious!" exclaimed Mrs. Bunker, "one at a time, Indy."
Thurston stood aside, watching Indiana's radiant face, with an unselfish joy and an impulse of gratitude to the kindly chance which had brought her loved ones at the very moment when they were so urgently needed. Then he withdrew quietly, thinking she would like to be alone with them. He also wished to acquaint his mother with the surprise.
"I've come over only for one thing," said Mrs. Stillwater. "That's to see you, Indiana. After you left, and the excitement was over, I couldn't settle down again. My body was there, but my heart and soul were following you over the water. I don't know how we ever let you go," her eyes filled, "and I couldn't stand it any longer. I had to come over to see for myself if you were happy." She looked yearningly into Indiana's face.
"My dear mother," said Indiana, tenderly, pressing her cheek to hers, "my dear, kind, loving mother!"
"Mary," said Stillwater, severely. "It's done now, and we must make the best of it." The spectacle of his wife and child clasped in each other's arms, affected him to an intense degree. During the term of Indiana's engagement and marriage, he had found it necessary to be stern with his gentle wife—without stringent measures—from pure fear that she would collapse utterly. His severity served also as a moral brace, when he himself was concerned.
Jennings entered in his usual noiseless fashion. "Would yer little leddyship like tea served?"
"Yes, if you please, Jennings," answered Indiana, assuming her English accent. "Father, Jennings has been a butler in our family all his life." Every eye was centred upon Jennings, who bowed with a most self-congratulatory expression, and walked proudly from the room.
"Em—em—lack of ambition," said Stillwater, "that's the trouble with this country. I could see it before I was two hours landed. The Britishers are too well-satisfied with themselves. Life's too easy. They haven't had to grow up with a new town—they ought to have been in my shoes, eh, mother?"
Mrs. Bunker walked about, surveying the room.
"Father—mother—grandmother!" exclaimed Indiana, taking the centre of the room. "I have married into a great family. None of your new nobility. We are one of the few unadulterated families in England, which has never married out of its sphere—except in my case. And I shall assimilate, not diverge. No one speaks of progression here. All are sublimely content. New ideas are shunned, as modern depravity, by her ladyship. Look about you, at these old family relics—"
"I expect to see a ghost every moment," interrupted Mrs. Bunker, affecting to shiver.
"It's like a nasty old vault," whispered Mrs. Stillwater, confidentially, to her husband.
"There's nothing better than us," remarked Indiana, with a toss of her head. "Nothing, from an ancestral point of view."
"Indiana, drop that English accent," said Mrs. Bunker, sharply, "it's too affected."
"Hush!" answered Indiana, looking toward the door. Thurston entered, with Lady Canning on his arm.
Indiana approached her with a very marked change of manner, speaking in soft, low English tones. "My dear Lady Canning, I have had such a delightful surprise. This is my father and mother."
"My dear Mrs. Stillwater, I am really delighted. And Mr. Stillwater."
"And this is my grandmother," continued Indiana.
"Your grandmother!" exclaimed Lady Canning, staring in surprise at the vivacious and essentially modern woman before her. Mrs. Bunker, on this occasion, wore a very becoming, extremely youthful hat.
"It's difficult to realize, isn't it?" remarked Mrs. Bunker, laughing and flattered at Lady Canning's astonishment. "We consider it criminal in the States for a woman not to look at least ten years younger than she really is. I've always been regarded as a remarkable woman for my age."
"The costume is deceiving," answered Lady Canning, regarding Mrs. Bunker's fashionable attire with disapproving eyes. "At first glance I thought you were a young woman, Mrs.—er—"
"Bunker," smiling graciously.
"Mrs. Bunker. However, on close inspection, I see you are not."
Having thus summarily thrown cold water on Mrs. Bunker's enthusiasm, Lady Canning proceeded on Thurston's arm to her usual chair by the fire, Lord Stafford, entering shortly after, exchanged laughing greetings with his fellow-travellers.
"Lady Canning, I wouldn't harbor any old bachelors," remarked Mrs. Bunker, her irrepressible spirits rising to the surface again. "If he were my brother, I'd just turn him out, and he would be obliged to marry for a shelter."
"Mrs. Bunker," said Lord Stafford, "I once heard a Yankee farmer say, 'An old hoss that's been jogging along a good many years alone, is always good to jog along a few years more, but if you yoke him with another hoss, he's winded at once, and goes to the wall.' Ha, ha, ha, ha!"
Indiana, who was sitting at the tea-table, strained her eyes and ears, trying to hear everything that was said. At one time she became so absorbed, making anxious and involuntary comparisons between her relatives and Thurston's, that she forgot to pour out the tea, while Jennings stood anxiously watching her, waiting for the cups.
"And how do you find your daughter looking, Mrs. Stillwater?" inquired Lady Canning.
Mrs. Stillwater, sitting near the elder lady by the fire, shook her head dolefully. "Her color's not as high as it used to be. I suppose it's living in these dark, musty rooms. And she's used to flying about in the open air."
"Mother!" exclaimed Indiana.
"What is it, Indiana?" answered Mrs. Stillwater, starting.
Indiana gave her a warning glance. "You don't take sugar, do you?"
"No, dear," answered Mrs. Stillwater, quite oblivious to the glance, "Don't wait on me. Shall I pour the tea?"
"Sit down, dear Mrs. Stillwater," said Lady Canning. "Indiana always does her duty as mistress of the house. No doubt you miss her very much. I can understand that."
"I'll tell you frankly, I was very much against it, she's the only one we have. I begged her not to do it. I even warned Thurston against her. One must give in to Indiana in order to get along with her, and, living with a mother-in-law, I was afraid of it."
Lady Canning laughed quietly.
"Mother!" exclaimed Indiana.
"Yes, dear," answered Mrs. Stillwater. She went over to Indiana and bent over her.
"Stop that," whispered Indiana.
Mrs. Stillwater looked at her with a piteous expression, then sank down into a chair near the tea-table.
"This cup is for Lady Canning. No, Jennings, I'll take it to her myself."
Mrs. Stillwater watched her jealously as she waited on Lady Canning, and drank her tea with a vague feeling of disappointment in her reunion with Indiana. Mr. Stillwater inspected, with interest, various objects in the room, walking about with Thurston, their cups in their hands.
"There's a solidity about all this, which speaks for itself," said Mr. Stillwater. "It's no use talking, a man can't buy it." Thurston called his attention to a tapestry. "Yes, I know—Gobelin—very fine. I admire it right here, because it belongs here. But when our millionaires import other people's old furniture, even that of princes and cardinals, and put it in their brand-new American homes—it seems to me snobbery. The only value of an antique is when it belongs to a nation."
"I agree with you, Mr. Stillwater."
After some further conversation, Lady Canning said, gently, to Indiana, "My darling, will you excuse me now? I know you have much to say to your people." She shook hands graciously with them all. "Now, when will you come and dine with us?"
"Oh, we'll run in any old time," said Mrs. Bunker.
"We won't wait for invitations," added Mr. Stillwater. "We'll run over to breakfast or supper, just as the spirit moves us. We'll take possession while we're here."
"You will always be very welcome whenever you care to come," answered Lady Canning. "But we are not used to being taken unawares." She bowed with a set smile, as she left the room leaning on her brother's arm. But her presence was still felt by a perceptible chill in the atmosphere. Thurston, however, soon dispelled the restraint. He took them through the house, entertaining them with histories of different family relics, to which they listened with interest. Then they adjourned to his own particular den, where all the trophies of his travels were collected. Finally Indiana carried them off to her apartments, leaving Thurston in his den. When they were all comfortably installed in the boudoir, Indiana, leaning on her mother's breast, looked thoughtfully up in her face and then at the others. She could scarcely realize that they were substantial creations.
"Indiana Stillwater," said Mrs. Bunker, "the way you crawl to that woman is very un-American."
"In England it's the custom for people to pay great respect to their elders."
"That's a nice slap in the face for us," remarked Mrs. Bunker.
"Grandma Chazy, you don't want the deference due to age," answered Indiana, propitiatingly. "You won't for many years, I hope. Think of treating ma and pa like that. They wouldn't like it a bit."
"No," said Mrs. Stillwater, "we're satisfied as long as you love us. But don't let anyone else take our place." She pressed her lips to Indiana's soft hair, crying silently. Indiana tightened her arms about her mother's waist, unaware of the tears that were falling on her yellow puffs.
"Well, then," said Mrs. Bunker, "just put on your things and come and have supper with us at the hotel. All the Americans in town will be there, beside the English celebrities. Come along. I'll show you the whole push."
"I'd love to go."
"We'll have a good time, if it is Sunday night. Well, what are you sitting there for? Get your things on."
"I must ask my husband," said Indiana, slowly, the eager sparkle suddenly dying in her eyes.
Mrs. Bunker sank down in the chair, from which she had sprung in her enthusiasm. "Indiana Stillwater, I never thought you would turn out such a spiritless kind of a woman. Of course it's none of my business, but if you start in this way, you'll lose your entire individuality."
"It's not so, Grandma Chazy. I do just as I like. I allow no one to compel me."
"You're quite right to ask your husband, and, if it's against his religious views, you stay home and read the Bible to his mother." Mrs. Bunker went to the mirror, arranging her hat, as if the question had been settled.
"It's not so!" exclaimed Indiana, rising and stamping her foot. "You don't understand the conditions of life over here."
"It's the thing in London now, to dine out on Sunday nights. You can't tell me, Indiana Stillwater."
"It may be the thing, but we don't do it. Must I tell you again I have married into a very conservative family?"
"We're not good enough for you, now," replied Mrs. Bunker, sarcastically.
"I'll always love my own people, but I won't be blind to their faults. We lack culture and repose."
"You may be right, Indy," said Mr. Stillwater, hitherto a silent listener. "But if you keep cultivating a field of wheat right along, you'll cultivate it till it doesn't produce anything. They're running to seed fast here—and we're still bearing strong. Repose! Let them have it. Thank heaven, we youngsters are always on our feet. Now, mother!" Mrs. Stillwater was crying. At the sight of her tears Indiana capitulated.
"I'll come, mother," she said, despairingly, throwing herself on her knees beside her.
"Darling!" cried Mrs. Stillwater. "Don't you think we ought to ask Thurston?"
"I'll ask him, of course," said Indiana, "but I'm sure he won't come."
"We'll manage without him," said Mrs. Bunker. "On second thoughts, I think we'll send for you, Indiana." She looked significantly at the others. "We'll send for her at eight o'clock." They nodded. "That'll just give you time to dress. We've another surprise in store for you." They all laughed.
"Ah, don't tell me. It's so nice to look forward to something one don't expect."
"Take off that dowdy thing," directed Mrs. Bunker. "Go back to your trousseau."
"We turned you out better than that," commented Stillwater, looking her over. Indiana pouted like a child, teased. Thurston emerged from his den as they descended the stairs. Lord Stafford also joined them below in the library.
"Thurston," asked Stillwater, taking him aside, "has she broken out yet?" Thurston shook his head, laughing.
Stillwater took Indiana in his arms.
"Goodbye. God bless you!"
Mrs. Bunker kissed her vehemently.
"I couldn't let you go," whispered Mrs. Stillwater. "If I wasn't sure I'd see you to-night."
Indiana sank into a chair as they all left the room, Thurston and Lord Stafford accompanying them to the door. Her thoughts were in a whirl. Her pride had been hurt at the idea her family should think she was not utterly a free agent, and that was one of the main reasons why she had consented to join them that night. Then they brought her old life back so forcibly. If her relatives had suffered in comparison with Thurston's, her present life now suffered in comparison with the old—its freedom, and lack of obligation. She realized now that she had been truly queen of her own territory. She heard them all laughing and talking below. Gradually their voices died away, the voices of her old life. She felt a sense of loneliness.
It was early spring, when Jennings made it a rule to light the candles later. Everything in the room had faded into the growing dusk. The old objects so easily blended with a waning light. Indiana heard Thurston laughing heartily with Lord Stafford, as they ascended the stairs.
"All in the dark, sweetheart!" He touched the electric button of the lamp on the table, revealing Indiana, buried in one of the big chairs, gazing dismally before her. The smile died on his face.
"Oh, go on! Don't mind me!" exclaimed Indiana. "Laugh at them! Ridicule them! Tell me you don't want them to darken your doors again. I'm ready for anything."
"Indiana!" exclaimed Thurston, justly hurt at this unreasonable outburst. "How can you? I wasn't laughing in that way. I find your people very witty and amusing. As for separating you from them, I hope we shall see as much of them as we possibly can. Grandma Chazy is a new creation for us. We simply revel in her. She'll make a sensation wherever she goes. I shouldn't wonder if she would marry well and settle down in England. There now, the storm's over." He smoothed the hair back from her forehead with a soothing touch. "Poor little thing, she's had a shock. I hate surprises myself. Lie down for an hour and rest. Come," lifting her up from the chair, "I'll put you on the sofa."
"No, no!" protested Indiana, "there's no time. I—I have promised to go out." He looked at her in astonishment. "The folks wouldn't take 'no' for an answer," affecting not to notice his surprise, "and naturally, they want me with them as much as possible."
"Naturally!" said Thurston, coldly. If she wished to go out with her family, why had she not consulted him first, he thought, instead of considering it sufficient to merely apprise him of her intention.
"I won't ask you to waste your night," she said, carelessly, endeavoring to make it apparent that she was quite innocent of any departure from the conventional order of things. He looked at her again, in astonishment. Why should she assume a night spent with her was wasted? It was an evident fact he was not wanted. "But, you can call for me," she wound up, airily.
"Oh, they've mapped out a programme," she answered, irrelevantly. "Grandma Chazy knows what's to be seen." She turned to leave the room, as though summarily dismissing the subject.
"I am only your husband, it is true, but I think I have a right to know, if my wife goes out, where she is going."
Indiana paused half way to the door. "I'm going to dine with them at the Cecil, where they are stopping." He was silent. She waited, in some suspense, for a remark, her hand on the door.
"I am sorry to disappoint you—but I cannot permit you to go," he said, at length, slowly. "It's not the place for Lady Canning. It may be all very well for strangers—sight-seers—but London is our home. These places are resorts for foreigners, professional women, men-about-town, and others, who delight to bask in the public eye. I have another reason. I do not wish you to be seen in public, until I have formally presented you—as my wife." He approached her and removing her hand gently from the handle of the door, led her back into the room. She went unwillingly, her head drooping. "Indiana," he put his hand under her chin and lifted her face, so that her eyes met his. "I don't wish to force you, but to convince you. Admit it would be a very foolish and inconsistent thing to do."
"Yes, but that's just why I want to do it," she answered, wilfully deaf to the note of appeal in his voice.
"You child! Come now," he forced her gently to lie down on the sofa. "Quiet that eager little mind of yours," tucking her carefully in a rug. "Shut those restless American eyes and sleep for a while. Dream yourself into good humor again." He closed her eyes, patting her cheek tenderly.
"Thurston, they've got a surprise for me," she said, piteously.
"What, another!" he exclaimed. "Your nerves won't stand any more surprises to-night. Now, in one hour, I shall come in and awaken my sleeping beauty with a kiss." Indiana made a little grimace and shut her eyes tightly. He watched her for a moment.
"Asleep already," bending over her, "or sulking—which?"
She flung the rug from her, suddenly sitting up. "Thurston, I want to go. Thurston, why can't I go?"
"Because you yourself have acknowledged it would not be right," he answered, coldly. Her small, red lips drooped plaintively, she coiled herself up on the sofa in a disconsolate attitude. Thurston stood watching her. The sad, little face staring at the fire, stirred his sympathy. This was the first request he had ever refused. He felt an impulse to press her against his heart and beg her not to grieve—to tell her that he felt her disappointment far deeper than she herself could have any idea of. But pride prevented him. He had lately been chary in his demonstrations. His nature, which at first had sung a pæan over the mere fact that she was his, rejoicing in the lavish display of its love, gradually conscious of no hint of response, only a tacit acceptance, had crept back into its cloak of reserve. He suffered from the repression, becoming at times the victim of a terrible discouragement—that sinking of the heart, inevitable to the thought that one has given one's very best in vain. He realized what a frail structure he had builded—that beautiful fairy fabric of spider's webs, illuminated with the tints of the rainbow. Standing, watching Indiana, Thurston remembered the day when she had promised to marry him—that gray, soft, still evening in autumn. It had been like a tender poem. He had likened the little path between the trees upon which they walked, to the dim, narrow aisle of a church, leading to the altar. It had led them to the altar, but he had failed yet to realize the dream, the infinite suggestion beyond. He felt they were still kneeling there. He and the church had done their part. It needed Indiana only to make the bond complete. He suffered in a great measure for her sake alone. Could she respect her own womanhood as his wife when she failed to love him, he asked himself. She, too, might be suffering, without his knowledge. The little figure maintained its disconsolate position. It was only a trivial matter, after all, but he did not want her to harbor the least resentment against him.
"Indiana," he said, tenderly, placing his hand on her head, "do you remember the day I asked you to be my wife? Do you forget already the condition upon which you accepted me?"
"What condition?" asked Indiana, innocently.
"That I should not give in."
"Oh!" exclaimed Indiana, falling back on the sofa. If he brought up that justification, there was no longer any ground to argue upon.
"I have never in my life broken my word once given. This is our first difference. I must keep my promise to you. No matter how much I suffer, I will not give in." He tucked her in the rug again, extinguished the lamp, and left the room.
Indiana, lying in the dark, tossed restlessly. Scattered scenes and personages of her old life and the new, floated through her mind, jumbled in a rare confusion. She counted and multiplied to induce sleep. Finally she thought of the formula children repeat when they play hide-and-seek—
"'Ena, mino, mina, mo,Catch a nigger by the toe.If he hollers let him go.Ena, mino, mina, mo.You're it—I'm out!'"
"Out of everything," she added, with a sob. "Oh, I can't sleep!" She tossed the pillows about desperately, feeling nervous and irritable, angry with herself, angry with Thurston and her family. The room was suddenly lit from the lamp on the centre-table. Indiana's dazzled eyes saw a tall figure standing before her. "Glen!"
Jennings retreated with a chuckle of delight. Indiana threw her arms about her old playmate's neck, and was on the point of kissing him, but drew suddenly back at the recollection that he had been her lover as well as her comrade.
"I'll bet you forgot, for the moment, you were married—now didn't you?"
Indiana nodded. Tears were not very far from her eyes. He pressed her hands, looking into her face. He felt both pain and joy—pain that she was another's, and joy at beholding her in the flesh once more, no matter under what circumstances.
"So you were the surprise," said Indiana, a little shyly. He looked so manly, so strikingly tall and handsome, as he stood there in his evening clothes. His dark eyes gazed at her in an unmistakably tender fashion. "Just as though I were not married at all," thought Indiana, with a sudden uprising of wifely virtue.
"I was the surprise," answered Glen, releasing her hands slowly.
"I was just trying to sleep, and, thinking of the old days when we played tag together and—"
"Yes," said Glen, eagerly.
"Oh, never mind," answered Indiana, brushing the tears from her eyes.
"The old days," repeated Glen, staring into the fire.
"They seem so far away, and it's only a few months, Glen. So much has happened—I suppose that's the reason."
He looked at her intently. There was a wistful expression in her eyes. She was paler and thinner, more thoughtful. He gathered his own conclusions from her appearance, aided by certain hints which the family had let fall. He knit his brows in a fierce scowl.
"What's the matter, Glen?"
"My old thoughts are working on me again—that's what it is—your mentioning the old days. They were the best after all, Indiana. Why, people are always raving over sunsets. You should have heard them on the steamer coming over. But once I saw a sunset far off in an orchard in Indiana—there's never been anything to compare with it since—there never will be—to the end of time."
"Sit down, Glen. Tell me all about yourself. You've changed so much for the better, I'm quite bewildered."
"It's worth crossing the ocean to hear that—from you," said Glen, with a superior air. "But I won't sit down here—the place chokes me. I've brought a hansom, and we'll jump in and take a spin about, till it's time to join the folks at dinner."
"I'm not going," said Indiana, without meeting his eyes. "My husband won't let me."
"Your husband won't let you? Poor child—so it's come to this!"
Indiana's pride rose in arms. "Don't waste any sympathy!" she exclaimed, her eyes flashing. "I'm perfectly happy, I assure you."
"Yes, you look it," said Glen, skeptically. "I understand it's a case of jealousy. He's trying to wean you from your own people. I suppose I won't be allowed to see anything of you either. I'm glad they let me in this time, to get one glimpse of you. Next time it will be 'Not at home' or 'Engaged.' I'm very sorry you couldn't come this one night. It'll spoil the evening for all of us, and I had so much to tell you. But I won't keep you. Good-bye."
"Glen!" cried Indiana, clenching her hands and stamping her foot. "How can you act like that? I'm no prisoner. I can go if I want to—but I don't want to."
"That makes it worse than ever," replied Glen, seriously. "We sympathize with you, in the other case, but now we must have the pride not to beg when you turn upon us. Good night!"
This was more than Indiana could bear. "Glen, I'll go!" she exclaimed, desperately.
He came back slowly into the room, his eyes shining with joy. "Will you, Indiana?"
"Just sit down and I'll slip into a dress. I shan't be long, Glen."
"We'll have a good time, altogether, this one night." Her resolve, once taken, she threw scruples to the wind. Glen, walking restlessly up and down the room after she had gone to dress, spied her photograph on a cabinet. First looking suspiciously around him, he took possession of it and kissed it passionately.
"Poor little thing," he murmured, gazing on the photograph, and seating himself in a comfortable position, his feet on the table. "Now the first blaze of glory is over, and you find—you're in for life—what are you going to do, little western bobolink, with your wings clipped, and your little eyes peering over the cruel ocean? Oh, you'll never complain—you're too proud." He let the photograph fall, and buried his face in his hands.
Indiana rang for her maid, and dressed in feverish haste. She wished to leave the house without coming in contact again with Thurston. Slipping quietly down the stairs, she saw a light in his den. The door was not quite closed, and she peeped through the crack. He was sitting at his table, reading, in a patient attitude, his head propped on his hand. She passed the door, then, moved by a sudden impulse, went back and looked at him again. There was something which appealed to her in the solitary figure sitting there, in a pose so passive as to almost suggest hopelessness. She noticed the touch of gray in his hair, under the lamplight—that, too, appealed to her. She felt vaguely that his was not the face of a happy man, and also, in a vague sense, her conscience reproached her for being responsible. She remembered they had always been together since their marriage. Neither had taken any pleasure apart. She would have liked to have kissed him good-night, and gone with his sanction—but, she told herself, that would be impossible to gain. With an involuntary sigh she sped down to the library. Glen was still sitting, his face buried in his hands. The photograph had fallen on the floor.
"Here I am, Glen," throwing her white wrap in his lap. "It's not necessary to ask you how I look. I've completely stunned you." He looked at her with worshipping eyes. She had donned an airy, diaphanous white gown, and her cheeks were glowing, her eyes sparkling with excitement. "You've been looking at my new photo. Do you like it?"
"Oh, so-so," he answered, indifferently.
"Now I'm going to leave a message for Thurston." She sat down to the table and drew some writing materials towards her. Then she gnawed the end of the pen in some perplexity, looking a little grave.
"You're afraid," said Glen. "You're sorry—you'd like to back out."
"Not at all," answered Indiana, drawing herself up indignantly. "I know just what my husband will do. He won't say a word to anyone—he'll jump in a cab and follow me."
"And then—a family row."
"Not at all. My husband is too high-bred for any public display of feeling. He'll look cold and proud, I'll quiver my eyelids—and—he'll kiss me—that's all." She smiled triumphantly as she scribbled a hasty note.
"I know," agreed Glen, with a sigh. "You could soften anything—even stone."
"Do you know that my husband is an H.F.R.G.S.?" sealing the note.
"Is he? You quite astonish me."
"Now, what is it? Of course you don't know. Honorary Fellow Royal Geographical Society. They want him to lead an expedition to the North Pole. If I had said 'no,' he would have gone. It was a toss-up."
"What a shame he didn't go," remarked Glen, shaking his head dolefully. "What a loss to science! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!" He laughed so heartily, Indiana felt obliged to join him. "How jolly I am!" he thought, bitterly.
"Oh, I'm so excited!" exclaimed Indiana. "I love uncertainty of any kind."
"Women are born gamblers," observed Glen, fastening her wrap under her chin. Jennings entered, in answer to the bell.
"Jennings," said Indiana, with an indifferent air, "there's—there's a note on the table for—your master."
"Yes, yer little leddyship."
"Er—I shall be—"
"I hear someone coming downstairs," whispered Glen. "Quick, or Bluebeard will cut off our heads!"
"I feel like a bad boy, playing truant," laughed Indiana. "Scoot!" They ran, giggling quietly, into the hall. Jennings, with a horror-stricken face, tottered to the window, pushed aside the curtains hastily, and pressed his face against the glass.
Lord Stafford, entering the library then, saw him in this position and heard the sound of wheels. "Who's driving off, Jennings?"
Jennings started. "Her—her—little leddyship."
Lord Stafford looked at him incredulously. He had just been talking with Thurston, and Indiana was not likely to go out without him. They always remained at home on Sunday nights. "Impossible!"
"Her little leddyship's gone out with a gentleman from America," said Jennings.
A light broke on Lord Stafford. "Oh, evidently young Masters," he thought. He sank into a chair by the fire, pulling his moustache contemplatively. "Thurston was apparently unaware of the fact—something's up."
Thurston came into the library a moment later. "I thought you were dining out to-night, Uncle Nelson." He rubbed his hands, holding them over the fire.
Lord Stafford lit a cigarette, trying to appear unconcerned. "I shall be off in a minute."
"I'm as hungry as a bear," said Thurston, cheerily. "I must go and find Indiana. I left her asleep here. She is usually dressed and down by this time."
"Er—Thurston," commenced Lord Stafford. But Thurston had left the room before he could speak. Jennings, still standing near the window, was a little, old figure turned into stone. "By George," muttered Lord Stafford. "A pretty mess, this."
"Indiana's not upstairs!" exclaimed Thurston, when he entered again. "She may be with my mother. I did not think of that."
"Her little leddyship's gone out, sir," said Jennings, shrinking into the shadow of the curtains.
"Impossible!" exclaimed Thurston, loudly. "I left her asleep here." Lord Stafford put his hand warningly on his shoulder.
"Her little leddyship left a note," continued Jennings, peering over the table.
Thurston instantly saw the little white note lying among the books. He seized and read it quickly. His first expression of incredulous surprise faded away. His face became impassive.
"Will I serve dinner at eight, sir?"
"Certainly," answered Thurston, calmly crushing the note in his hand.
Lord Stafford looked at him inquiringly, as Jennings left the room.
"She has gone with Glen Masters to dine with her people—at the Cecil—and asks me to fetch her," said Thurston, slowly.
"Then it's all right." Lord Stafford felt, in a measure, relieved.
"It's not all right, by any means, Uncle Nelson," answered Thurston, in the same repressed voice. "My wife has gone against my express wishes."
"Ah, by George! Too bad!" exclaimed Lord Stafford, sympathetically. "You'll go and fetch her, of course?" Thurston failed to answer. An ash dropped loudly on the hearth.
"No," said Thurston, finally.
"Shall I go and fetch her?"
"No." The frozen monosyllable dropped from his lips like an icicle.
"What are you going to do?"
"I—I am going to wait up for my wife—like a good, obedient husband," he said, bitterly, dropping into a chair.
The great bronze clock on the mantel struck eleven. Thurston paced the library restlessly. His mother had retired, as usual, a little after ten. He had thought it best to keep from her the fact of Indiana's escapade; excusing her absence from dinner on the score of a nervous headache, due to the surprise she had received that afternoon. He had impressed upon his mother the necessity of perfect rest and quiet, for that night, at least. Lady Canning had promised not to disturb her, confiding to Thurston that she had anticipated his wife would suffer bad effects from such a "cruel shock," as she expressed it. He wished to save Indiana from the blame his mother would be sure to attach to her, if she knew the truth. He could not brook the idea that his wife should fall one iota from her esteem. And he also wished his mother's belief in his happiness to remain undisturbed. She would have suffered intense anxiety, on his account, if she had suspected there was any flaw in his marital relations. He hoped that some blessed future period would see his union, with Indiana, established on the solid rock of mutual love. Until then his unhappiness was his own secret, one which he guarded jealously. The inference his household might take from Indiana's action, was a source of great mortification to him. He went to the window and looked out. The thought rankled in him that if she had felt the slightest respect or love, she could not have treated his wishes with such contempt. When he turned back into the room, Jennings was standing at the door, looking at him wistfully.
"Well, what is it?" he asked, in a quick, sharp tone.
"I'll keep up the fire, sir, it's a bit sharp out to-night," answered Jennings, apologetically. Thurston continued to pace the floor, while Jennings piled fresh logs on the fire, shaking his head and muttering, as he was sometimes in the habit of doing. Suddenly there was an imperative knock upon the front door. "Ah, here she is, now, sir!" exclaimed Jennings, struggling to his feet. "Here's her little leddyship." He hurried from the room, chuckling with delight. Thurston's eyes were illumined with a sudden flash of joy and he rushed to the door to meet his wife. But the movement was an involuntary one. On second thought he sat down to the table, took up a book and endeavored to appear disinterested. "Why," he thought, remembering anew the facts of her absence, "should he act as though she had done nothing wrong. That in itself would be a condonation of her offence." He turned his head slowly, as Jennings came back to the room, followed hurriedly by Stillwater, holding his overcoat and opera hat. Thurston rose, his expression of cold and assumed indifference changing to one of deep disappointment and anger.
"Where's my wife—where is she?" he demanded, with an uncontrollable burst of passion.
"She's all right, my boy, she's all right," answered Stillwater, in a conciliating tone, beneath which there was a trace of embarrassment. "She's at the hotel, with mother and Grandma Chazy. And I came to bring you back to finish up the evening with us."
"Thank you, very much," said Thurston, sinking into his chair.
"Now, you're mad. You won't be so foolish as to make a fuss about nothing." Thurston looked at him, in incomprehending surprise.
"Mr. Stillwater, do you know that my wife left the house against my express wish and command? Drove away from my door on Sunday evening with a gentleman not her husband."
"Yes, I know all about it, my boy," answered Stillwater. "But it was only Glen—just the same as her own brother."
"My household does not know that. The appearance of such a proceeding is not favorable."
"I know—but it's Indiana's way of doing things," said Stillwater, rather impatiently. "Just because you said she shouldn't, she would. Now, if you handled her a little better—you'll excuse me, but I've known her longer than you—"
"You may have known her longer, but I doubt if you understand her better. As to handling her, as you call it, I will never stoop to bribe or cajole her into doing her duty."
"That's all right," continued Stillwater. He was there on an errand of conciliation, and, though his son-in-law's argument seemed absurdly precise and conventional, and he assured himself that he did not approve of any such cut-and-dried policy, he was determined to carry out his intention. "I approve of the stand you are taking, but commence after we're gone. It seems rather mean to spoil mother's holiday, doesn't it? Now come along, and Indy will receive you with open arms. It'll be all right, I promise you."
Thurston felt irritated by his father-in-law's free-and-easy good nature, his light way of disposing of a matter which struck the core of all that was sacred to him.
"I am very sorry to mar your pleasure," he answered, firmly and coldly. "This is the first time my wife has openly defied my wishes. It must be the last. If I give in, it will be the beginning of endless repetitions. And I shall fall in line behind her, like a good American husband."
Stillwater took a slight exception to these last words, uttered in a bitterly sarcastic tone. "It's not such a terrible thing to be an American husband," he said, in an offended voice. "I'm one—I don't look very bad on it, do I?"
Thurston smiled. "My dear father-in-law, if I were an American, I would consider it the acme of bliss to be in the leading-strings of my pretty wife. But I'm an Englishman and—"
"You're not built that way," interrupted Stillwater, with an explosion of mirth. Thurston shrugged his shoulders and joined in the laugh. "Come along, Thurston," said Stillwater, feeling more at his ease. "Come along. She's only a mite. She's done wrong, she knows it, and she's mighty uncomfortable." Thurston's spirits rose at this. Then she was not utterly without heart or conscience, where he was concerned. Stillwater watched his face, keeping his hand on his shoulder. "Now come, and when you get her home, read her the riot act."
Thurston shook his head. "I'm very sorry."
Stillwater's expression became serious. He had at first intentionally made light of the matter. Now, as Thurston's resolution remained unshaken, things commenced to assume a graver aspect. "Now, look here, Thurston, we won't have her staying over night with us. The place for a young wife is under her husband's roof."
"Then use your authority to convince her of that fact."
"Do you think I haven't done so, already?" asked Stillwater, now intensely grave. "Do you think I came here alone to-night without doing all I could to get her to come with me? She never told us, until the evening was half over, that you forbade her to go—on account of Sunday, and your mother, an old-fashioned kind of a woman. Well, we wanted to clear her out then and there—we begged, and we prayed, and we bullied her, and she gave it back to us, as good as she got it." He laughed at the remembrance of the scene in their rooms at the hotel. Thurston listened in anxious suspense. "And Grandma Chazy became so mad she nearly slapped her. But do you think she'd budge? Not a foot."
Thurston went over and sat down on the lounge near the fire, his head on his hand, in a hopeless attitude. It was becoming worse and worse. She persisted in her defiance and contempt of him, showing it openly to her family. She had no compunction for what she had done—none. Before Stillwater's arrival, he had allowed himself to think of her coming to him, asking prettily for forgiveness, or even one look from her deep-blue eyes would have been enough. He would have taken her then, so gladly, so thankfully, to his heart. If he had reproached her, it would have been tenderly—the chiding which is in itself love. If she had made one step towards him, he would have met her with three. But she would give him no chance to show her how freely, how generously, he could forgive for the asking. It is easy for love to ask forgiveness of love. But when there is none—this secret wound pricked him sorely. His head sank lower on his hand.
"Come on, come on," said Stillwater, persuasively. "She don't mean anything. And I'll tell you something—she's afraid to come home. I know that little, uneasy laugh of hers—with her eyes full of tears. She's done wrong, she's sorry, and she wants you to come and make it up. Won't you come, Thurston—won't you?" He bent down, looking into the younger man's face. There was a pathetic appeal in his voice.
Thurston shook his head. "When I think of you three old people, helpless against that slip of a girl—it appalls me."
Stillwater took his hat and coat from the chair where he had laid them. "Then I'll tell you what it is—she won't come home until you do come after her. That's her ultimatum."
Thurston rose. "And this is mine," he answered, sternly. "My mother's house closes at twelve o'clock, and if she does not return at that time, the doors will be closed for the night."
"I'll tell her," said Stillwater, with an indescribable expression. "I warn you," pausing at the door, "you're making a very hard time for yourself. Good night."
Thurston stood motionless, thinking deeply, for some moments after Stillwater left the room. Then he rang for Jennings. The old man responded, with an anxious expression. "Jennings, Lady Canning may not return to-night," said Thurston, in a measured tone. "She will probably remain with her people. Naturally, she wants to see as much of them as possible."
"Yes, yer lordship."
"Lock up at the usual hour and go to bed. If she is not here by that time, she will not return."
"Yes, yer lordship." After he left the room, as he was crossing the hall, he heard a slow, familiar step, a soft rustle of silk, on the stairs. He looked up with a sudden throb of fear, and saw Lady Canning descending. He knew she thought his little mistress was ill in bed with a headache, and the contingency that she might come home at any moment appalled him. He hurried back to the library. "Milady, sir, milady!" he ejaculated. "She's coming down the stairs."
"Heavens," thought Thurston, "I thought she was safe for the night. Don't look so anxious, Jennings."
When Lady Canning entered, he greeted her with a bright smile, taking both her hands in his. Jennings pushed a chair up to the fire.
"Mother, this is unusual. What keeps you up at this hour?"
"I've had so much to think of, since this afternoon. I wasn't at all sleepy."
She looked at Thurston with wide-awake, luminous eyes, as he placed a footstool under her feet. "How is Indiana? Is she sleeping?"
"Yes," answered Thurston.
"I'm glad of that, poor little thing! Such a cruel surprise! The excitement was too much for her."
"Yes, the excitement," repeated Thurston, mechanically.
Jennings left the room, after he had brushed some imaginary ashes from the hearth and arranged the curtains. Thurston showed no sign of the strain under which he was suffering, as he talked gently with his mother. Once in a while his eyes sought the clock, and his ears, preternaturally sharpened by anxiety, heard an imaginary hansom, bearing Indiana homeward. Their conversation reverted to his wife's people.
"I don't object to the father and mother," said Lady Canning. "We have one great point of sympathy—our love for Indiana. But the grandmother—Thurston, is she quite well balanced?"
Thurston laughed. "She's a shining light, mother—a prominent member of women's clubs." Lady Canning shuddered. "A very shrewd, clever woman."
"It's wonderful how people differ in their conception of things," said Lady Canning, with a sigh. "If she were my mother, I should consider it necessary for her to have a personal attendant. What do you think she said to me? That 'I ought to make more out of myself,' and if I would come over to the hotel, she'd fix me up." Lady Canning looked at her son with a shocked expression. He laughed involuntarily, and she finally joined him, seeing the amusing side of Mrs. Bunker's remark. "Well, we'll get along with them, won't we?" continued Lady Canning, taking Thurston's hand affectionately in hers. "They have given us our Indiana. I'm going to make a great effort for her sake. I'm going to present her myself at the first drawing-room of the season."
"Mother!" exclaimed Thurston, in surprise.
"Yes, I'm coming out of my retirement, after twenty years, and we'll make a sensation, I promise you." She patted his hand, feeling that the grateful love in his eyes was ample reward for all this resolution had cost her. "She's brightened my life so much since she came. I'm beginning to take an interest in things, for the first time since I lost your dear father."
"I'm very glad of that, very glad, mother—and happy."
"Now, may I creep in and kiss her good-night, when I go upstairs?" asked Lady Canning, rising.
"I wouldn't, mother," answered Thurston, quietly.
"I won't wake her," assured Lady Canning.
"I think you had better not, mother," said Thurston, in the same quiet tone.
"Very well, just as you say. I can't blame you, even if you are over-anxious. Give her my love and a kiss." She paused at the door, looking thoughtfully in his face. "We must love her very much, Thurston. And if there are any faults, we must deal gently with them, because—she is very young, and from what I saw of her people, she could have had no bringing up whatever."
It seemed strange to hear his mother pleading for Indiana just at that moment. "Good-night, mother." She put her arms about his neck and kissed him. He threw himself in a chair, after she left the room, feeling deeply depressed. "If there are any faults, we must deal gently with them." His mother's words always carried their own weight. Her unconscious intercession had touched his heart. He was ready to do everything, to make every extenuation, but he felt a dull premonition that Indiana would ask for none. Neither would she care. This was the worst. His hidden wound throbbed painfully.
Jennings crept into the room. When he saw Thurston, sitting with his head bowed upon his hands, his face became an image of distress. He looked at the clock, then back again to the hopeless figure in the chair. Thurston raised his head suddenly. "What are you prowling about for, Jennings?"
"I—I just looked in to see after that danged fire," said Jennings, in confusion, tottering to the fire and poking the logs.
Thurston smiled. "There's no sign of it going out, Jennings. Find a more plausible excuse."
"Won't you have a cold bite, sir?" asked Jennings, piteously. "You never touched the dinner."
Thurston shook his head, opening a book.
"A glass of wine, sir?"
"Nothing, Jennings. Don't bother, there's a good fellow—and don't come crawling in and out continually. I can't read; it disturbs me."
"Very well, sir," in a heart-broken voice. He went to the door, then tottered back again. "Another log on, sir, if you're not going to bed? But perhaps you are going to bed?"
"No, I shall sit up and read." The page before him was a blur. It lacked but a few minutes of twelve. If she would only come, no matter how—whether stormy, sulking or weeping—if she would only come. Even at the very last moment, to show him that she had, at least, some compunction—that she realized, in even a slight measure, what was owing him!
After putting another log on the fire, Jennings opened the window and looked out. Then he closed it, with a sigh, and stood in the shadow of the draperies watching Thurston, with his heart in his eyes. The clock commenced to strike. Thurston, sitting with his head over his book, ceased to hope. Every silvery chime fell on his head with a dull weight of pain. What had she not left him to infer from the fact of her not coming? Contempt, indifference, even fear. At the last stroke of twelve he raised his head and looked over at Jennings. The old man was the image of misery. Answering the command in Thurston's eyes, he slowly took a bunch of keys from his pocket. "I'll only put up the chain, yer lordship, in case—" He looked imploringly at Thurston.
"Lock it fast," answered Thurston. "Take the key out as usual, and go at once to bed."
The old man made a silent motion of assent, and tottered to the door. Suddenly there was a loud knock.
"Ah, here she is at last!" cried Jennings. "Here's her little leddyship!"
Thurston sprang to his feet with an involuntary exclamation of joy. "My wife, my Indiana," he thought. "She has come at the very last moment—a sudden impulse to do right. Thank heaven!"
Jennings entered slowly, followed by Glen Masters.
"This is rather a late visit, Lord Canning," began Glen, in a slightly embarrassed manner. He also refrained from offering his hand. "But I—I left the folks about ten o'clock, and I—I've been driving about the city trying to collect my thoughts."
Thurston silently offered him a chair, suffering the reaction of his sudden access of joy.
"Indiana told me you generally sit up after she retires, so I waited late to find you alone and have it out with you."
Thurston met Glen's intense gaze with one of polite surprise. "Oh, indeed! I was not aware there was any subject to be thrashed out between you and me."
"Indiana's unhappy. I can't see it—it—it—breaks my heart."
"You are a very young man, sir," answered Thurston, coldly, "and closely connected with my wife and her family, otherwise I should consider this a piece of impertinence."
"I don't mean it in that way. I'm square and above board, and I hate anything clandestine. This is a case of a husband and wife, and another man who loves her. I'm the other man. Now kick me out."
"I should assuredly do so, if you were an Englishman. But in your case I will only beg you to explain your meaning—I am always willing to learn." He felt obliged to take Glen seriously, yet he was conscious of feeling amused, in spite of his suffering.
"Er—have a cigarette?" asked Glen, offering his case. Though he had been braced with confidence when he entered, he felt now very much embarrassed and at a disadvantage. "Indiana won't be likely to come in, will she? I hope she's safe in bed."
"No, it's not likely," answered Thurston, evasively, taking a cigarette, which he omitted to light.
"I want to keep her out of it, if I can," said Glen. He leaned back in his chair, smoking. "I'm not much of a talker, and this helps me." He puffed furiously. "But I'm a great thinker. I've lived alone a considerable part of my life, and my way of doing things may not be considered strictly constitutional. However, that don't say I'm wrong."
"Not at all," Thurston assured him.
"Do you believe that the pursuit of happiness is the highest aim of life?" asked Glen, in a very important manner.
"That depends whose happiness a man is pursuing. You are evidently after mine."
"Ha, ha! Very good. But I mean, is making others happy the highest aim?"
"Possibly. My highest aim at present is to see my wife perfectly happy."
"Ah, that's the point. And, as we both want the same thing, there will be no difficulty in joining forces and accomplishing it."
"I fail to see how you can help to those results," remarked Thurston, far from being infected with the same friendly spirit of co-operation.
"That's what I came to tell you," said Glen, boyishly. "I'm the only one who really understands Indiana. I know how to get at her true feelings better than all her folks put together." Thurston half smiled at this assertion, which frankly ignored him—the husband. Glen puffed his cigarette, thoughtfully, watching the rings of smoke, as they widened and disappeared. "I saw the end of it from the first," he continued, in a superior tone. "Like all young girls, Indy wanted something new. I'm not blaming her—but—she's not happy. She never can be happy, away from her own home and people."
"Are you here as my wife's ambassador?" asked Thurston, icily.
"Well, no, not exactly," responded Glen, uneasily. "But she didn't object, when I told her I was going to have it out with you."
"It will be interesting to know what your intentions are against me."
"I—I want to tell you the thing don't work—I don't see how you could expect it. I want, in a perfectly open and straightforward way, to discuss the means to the desired end—her happiness."
Thurston smiled wearily. "This would all be very farcical if there were not a very serious question for me at the root of it, and which my wife's conduct to-night has made me realize very keenly. I suppose she was discussing me, during your rather unconventional hansom-ride this evening?"
"Yes, she was—and—er—not favorably. Now, what do you propose to do?"
Thurston rose, answering, very sternly and coldly. "Prove to my own satisfaction if it is true, that my wife is not, and never can be, happy in her new home. I shall not ask her, because she does not know herself what is good for her. I am egotistical enough to think that I understand her better than her own family—and even better than you. And I am convinced that a few years away from her own country, and her own people, will convert the spoilt child into a splendid, self-controlled woman. If I am mistaken, I assure you, the way of retreat shall be made very easy for her."
"Er—how long will it take to discover all this—a lifetime?"
"About twelve hours."
Glen looked at him thoughtfully, feeling that, owing to his jealousy, he had always been unjustly prejudiced against Indiana's husband. There was a consciousness of right, a dignity in Thurston's bearing, which impressed him. And beneath the calm, cold manner in which he had spoken, Glen recognized an undercurrent of pain. It dawned on him, suddenly, that the other's composure was only repression, and the man was suffering. He also appreciated the unfailing courtesy with which he had been treated.
"Lord Canning," he said, rising, "I don't feel near as confident, as I did when I came in. I was sure my platform was a just and equitable one, but since I've been watching you and listening, I begin to feel a little ashamed of myself."
"No occasion for it, I'm sure," Thurston replied, kindly.
"You're a fine fellow, and if Indiana's not happy with you, it's not your fault. It's the fault of your nationality—that's the only weak point I see in you."
"An Englishman and his nationality cannot be so easily divorced as a husband and wife," said Thurston, significantly.
Glen held out his hand. "Lord Canning, although it's against my own interests, I—I wish you luck."
"Thank you, sir. One moment, please," touching the bell, "the house is already closed for the night." They waited silently until Jennings appeared.
"Show this gentleman out, Jennings. Then lock the door securely."
"Yes, yer lordship."
"Good night," said Glen. He stepped back to the fire, where Thurston was standing, adding, confidentially, "You won't see me again. I shall keep out of the way. I won't move a step in this matter until I am quite convinced the case is hopeless with you. Good night."
When he reached the street, he found the cabman asleep on the box. He touched him on the shoulder.
"Where to, sir?"
"Anywhere—only drive," slipping a sovereign in his hand. The cabman whipped up his horse furiously. He had been following similar instructions since ten o'clock. It was now past midnight, and the handsome young American still persisted in his strange whim. He refrained, however, from fatiguing his brain with futile questions, realizing the fallacy of such a proceeding, when a sovereign reposed securely in his pocket.
Glen leaned comfortably back, lighting a cigarette. His dead hopes had risen that day from their ashes, and, like beautiful, deceiving phantoms, had melted into air. His equilibrium, the fortitude it had cost him so much to gain, had been shaken to their foundations by the thought that his cherished dream might still materialize. He saw Thurston's white, suffering face as he calmly said he would make the way of retreat very easy for Indiana. Well, he was worthy of her love. That was, at least, one solace. And he would win it in time. It was his right. With a sigh for his transient vision of happiness, the beautiful Fata Morgana which had charmed his eyes for such a brief space, Glen gathered all his moral forces to banish Indiana from his mind. His manhood was firmly building itself on the foundation of these accumulated efforts.
Thurston, still sitting up in the library, vainly attempted to read. It seemed as though his life were falling about him in ruins. He was mortified, humiliated, and incensed at Indiana. If she had no love for him, she could, at least, have shown more respect for the sacred tie which bound them, and should have refrained from discussing their relations and publishing the fact of her unhappiness.
Jennings crept in. He gave a sly glance at Thurston, who, with his head bent over his book, appeared to be reading. Then he opened the window softly and looked out. Hearing nothing, he closed it, but still waited, listening, in the shadow of the curtains. He felt it incumbent on him to share his master's vigil. Although he would not presume to express an opinion to Thurston, he had a firm belief that his little mistress would come home that night. Jennings' head swayed, and he dozed, his head against the window. Thurston, sitting with his head in his hands, was only dimly alive to his surroundings, his consciousness dulled, not by drowsiness, but a species of stupor. A knock sounded, very low and timid—then again, louder, more decided. Thurston started. Jennings, awakened suddenly, rubbed his eyes, wondering if he had heard aright. The knock was repeated, doubly and imperatively. Jennings hurried to the door, but Thurston, with a quick stride, brought his hand heavily down on the old man's shoulder.
"It's her little leddyship, sir. It's her—"
The words died on his lips as he met his master's determined gaze.
"Draw those curtains," directed Thurston, in a low, set voice.
Jennings obeyed. There was another knock. Thurston extinguished the lights. "She's at the door!" cried Jennings, desperately. "I must let—I—"
"I have said my doors will not be opened to-night—and I mean to keep my word. If you make one move to undo what I have done, in spite of the affection I have for you, I shall dismiss you on the spot."
The old man's head sank on his breast. "That I should live to see this night," he sobbed. "I love her—little—leddyship—and she—out there!" He slowly took the keys from his pocket and laid them on the table.
Thurston listened intently. "She has gone back to the cab," he thought. "She is speaking to the cabby." He heard the door of the cab slammed and the sound of receding wheels. "She has returned to the hotel. A little longer, and I might have—" He put his hand to his head, which was burning. "Jennings, I'll try and get an hour's sleep."
"Shall I help you, sir?"
"No, thank you. I shall probably come down again." He mounted the stairs heavily to his room, and threw himself, dressed as he was, upon the lounge. It was only to live, again and again, through the scene which had been enacted below. He heard the knock—first faint, then louder, still louder. He saw Jennings break down, sobbing, then take the keys from his pocket and lay them on the table. He listened intently. He heard the door of the cab slam. He heard it drive away—over his heart. She had forced him to this. And he had kept his word to her. He had not given in. She would never know, never care to know, perhaps, what it had cost him. He tossed restlessly.
Jennings still waited below in the library. Thurston had said he would come down again. There was no light but the fire, near which the old man stood, a little, heart-broken figure. Suddenly the sound of low sobbing fell on his ears. He lifted his head quickly, listening like a watchdog. Then he went to the door and looked into the hall. Hearing nothing, he approached the fire again. The faint sobbing continued. Jennings shivered with a slight sensation of fear. The sound was uncanny in the dark room, at that hour. Again he listened, every nerve on the alert. "It's outside," he suddenly concluded. He went to the window, opened it and peered out. The night was not utterly black, but lit faintly by the rays of a watery moon. Jennings distinguished a white object below on the steps.
"Jennings!" called a familiar voice.
"God! Her little leddyship—on the steps—in the cold!"
"Is it you, Jennings?"
"Yes, yer little leddyship," he whispered down, his body half out the window. "I can't open the door, yer leddyship. Hush! don't call out—wait!" He tottered to the hall, in fear of Thurston, and listened. Hearing nothing, he tottered back, trembling with excitement. "Yer little leddyship, there's those little iron bars—can't you find them? Put your hand through the ivy underneath. Ah, that's it. Now, if you could climb up, you're such a light, little body—I'd swing you easy enough over the balcony. That's right. Be careful. Ah, my heart stopped beating. Now, hold on with one hand and put up the other as high as you can." He drew her up gradually; she jumped lightly over the balcony and into the room. The fire was burning brightly. She crouched before it, shivering, and warming her hands.
"Oh, I'm so cold!" she cried. "I'm chilled to the bone!"
"Hush," whispered Jennings, in mortal fear. "Speak lower, yer little leddyship, if you don't want to ruin me."
"What's the meaning of this?" exclaimed Indiana. "Where's my husband?"
"Asleep! You heard me, why didn't you open the door?"
"The master took the key from me."
Indiana rose from the fire with a horror-stricken face. "He heard me, then—he knew I was there?"
"You won't tell him I helped you in, yer little leddyship?" asked Jennings, clasping and unclasping his hands, in a nervous, frightened fashion. "He said he'd dismiss me on the spot—and he always keeps his word."
"Yes, he keeps his word," repeated Indiana, in a dazed tone, leaning against the table. "I won't tell—and I'm in now, thanks to you. It's a terrible thing to be locked out on a cold night." She shivered, folding her arms across her bare neck and shoulders. She had left her wrap on the step, in order to be disencumbered as she climbed up to the window.
"Jennings," called Thurston's voice. "Are you in here? I thought I heard someone moving."
"Go," whispered Indiana. Jennings slipped quietly from the room.
Thurston, feeling his way to the table, pressed the electric button of the lamp, then started slightly at beholding Indiana.
She faced him with clenched hands, panting with rage and excitement. "You locked me out," she said, hysterically.
"And you came in by the window," answered Thurston, coldly and calmly, giving a comprehensive glance at the open window.
"You heard me knock, and you left me on the doorstep."
"You had due warning."
"Yes, you sent me a nice message with my father—to make me look ridiculous in the eyes of my own family. I waited purposely till after one o'clock to prove to them that I was no servant, compelled to come home at a stated hour, or have the door shut in my face." Her fingers tore nervously at her gloves. "You are my husband—not my jailer, I am your wife—not your prisoner, to be let out on parole. I give you full liberty of action—if you do not give me the same, I shall take it. How dare you leave your wife out on the doorstep, like an outcast?—how dare you?"
"I dare do whatever is for your good."
"My good!" she repeated, with a cold laugh. "I am a child, then, to be lectured into silence, to be terrorized into submission. Ah, you do not know me! I will not live with you—I will never forgive you—until you come on your knees to me—on your knees!"
"I have not asked forgiveness. It is for you to do that. My wife must not outrage my sense of dignity and propriety. You have hurt and wounded me beyond pardon. The sacredness of my home relations has been violated and coarsely discussed. I am ashamed to raise my head before my own servants. And to make it, at last, unbearable—your old sweetheart calls me to account for your unhappiness. It is too galling—too humiliating!"
"Ah," exclaimed Indiana, "Glen did come, then?"
"At your invitation," said Thurston, quickly.
"What of it? He would not have locked me out—insulted me. Oh, I'm sorry I ever married you!" Thurston gave a suppressed cry of pain. "I mean it. I have never known a harsh word in my life. You—to treat me like this! I won't stand it, I tell you!" Losing all control, she took up a paper-cutter and snapped it in pieces in her rage. "I hate you—standing there like ice! I hate—" Thurston looked down into her face with an expression of horror and rushed from the room, slamming the door. "I—I—what have I said? I didn't mean it, Thurston," murmured Indiana, with a sudden revulsion of feeling. She stretched out her hands piteously, helpless and groping, like a frightened child. "Thurston, I didn't mean it. There was a rush of red before my eyes—it blinded me." She sank on her knees with a feeling of terror at the remembrance. "Thurston, I'm afraid," she sobbed, shudderingly. "Don't leave me here with myself." She struggled to her feet, trembling from head to foot. "Thurston, I'm sorry—forgive me—I love you—I—" She fell blindly against the door, then sank to the ground, shaking with sobs.
When the storm passed, her exhaustion was so great she felt powerless to mount the stairs to her room, and lay there on the floor, beside the door, throughout the night. Though stiff with cold, her moral distress would scarcely permit her to notice this physical discomfort. She was clutched tightly in the grasp of a terrible dread. That this sudden tidal wave of love had rushed over her heart too late. And if this proved true, she felt she would no longer have the courage to live. The fact had so suddenly awakened in her consciousness, as a flower might spring at once into full and perfect bloom, that her husband's love alone gave life significance. She fell, at intervals, from pure exhaustion, into a short, troubled sleep, awakening always with a remembrance of Thurston's horrified face as he rushed from the room, closing the door, as though he would shut her forever out of his life. When daylight came, she rose with an effort and threw herself upon the lounge.
"And as he Wove he heard Singing."
Jennings, entering the library at an early hour that morning, started when he saw his little mistress lying there, still in her gown of the night before, one arm hanging listlessly down, her face buried in the pillows. The light was still burning in the lamp on the table.
"Yer little leddyship," said Jennings, softly, bending over her. She stirred and raised her head.
"I wasn't asleep, Jennings," she answered, in a pathetic voice. She looked like a little, pale wraith, in her white, crushed, tulle gown, a fragment of a cloud blown by chance into the old, gloomy room.
"You left this on the doorstep, yer little leddyship." He held her long, white wrap over his arm.
"Did I? Oh, so I did!" She took it and wrapped it about her shoulders, shivering. "I've been here all night long, Jennings," piteously, "and I'm so cold!"
"Poor bairn!" exclaimed Jennings, indignantly. He hurried from the room, then returned in a moment, and busied himself making a fire, muttering to himself—"Poor bairn, it's a shame, a shame!" Indiana watched his operations with interest, as she crouched, shivering, on the lounge. "Now, yer little leddyship." He wheeled a large armchair before the fire, and she nestled into it, holding her hands to the flame.
"Pile on the logs, Jennings, pile on the logs. That's right—a big, big blaze. Oh, I shall never be warm again. Who's that?" starting up, as some one knocked at the door.
"No one will come in, yer little leddyship," said Jennings, soothingly. "I ordered some tea and toast for you."
"Tea and toast," repeated Indiana, blissfully. "Tea and toast."
Jennings took the tray and closed the door, then drew a small tea-table up to the fire. She watched him eagerly, as he poured out the tea.
"Oh, thank you, thank you, Jennings," she said, gratefully, taking the cup from his shaking hand. "Oh, that's good! I've never tasted such delicious tea. Is it a new kind?"
Jennings shook his head, handing her the toast. "Yer little leddyship must be very hungry."
"Jennings, I can trust you—I know you won't say anything."
"No, yer little leddyship."
"Did I do so very wrong, did I, that I should be treated like this?" She caught her breath with a sob, the tears rising to her eyes.
"It was cruel, cruel, yer little leddyship," answered Jennings, in a heart-broken voice. "There, there—have another cup of tea—that'll comfort yer."
"Do the servants all like me, Jennings?" asked Indiana, eating the sugar out of her tea, like a child.
"They'd go through fire and water for yer little leddyship, every mother's soul of them," answered Jennings, enthusiastically. "And my lady—she's taken on a new lease of life."
Indiana smiled brightly through her tears. "How long have you really been with the family, Jennings?"
"Sixty years, yer little leddyship," said Jennings, turning out the light and arranging the books on the table. "My father was gamekeeper for his lordship's grandfather, and when I was ten years old I was taken into the house."
"Sixty years," repeated Indiana, dipping her toast in the tea and eating it with relish. "And have you never thought of bettering yourself, Jennings?"
Jennings drew himself up proudly. "Impossible to do better. It's a great satisfaction to look back on my life, and feel I have always done my duty faithfully."
"I suppose it is a great pleasure to serve those whom we respect," said Indiana, looking at him with interest.
"It's more than pleasure, yer little leddyship. To serve the right master, it's pupil and teacher, friend and friend."
The handle of the door turned slowly. Indiana, who had been coiled up, like a kitten, in the big armchair, put down her feet, which had been tucked under her, and straightened herself stiffly. In her nervousness she almost dropped her cup, and she looked piteously at Jennings, as though for help. It could be no other than Thurston, as the servants would have knocked, and no one else rose so early.
She was right. When he entered and saw the picture by the fire—Indiana, sitting in her white wrap, with the tea-tray before her, and Jennings standing near—he paused for a moment. Jennings took the tray and left the room. Thurston felt neither curious nor interested to know why she had stayed there all night. He himself had not closed his eyes. He had summoned all his strength to make a certain resolution, one which he considered imperative, after his wife's passionate avowal of hate and regret. All else—things which at another time he would have accounted strange—seemed trivial and unimportant. He had relinquished all hope of winning his wife's love. He saw himself weaving the gray web of his life until the end. Indiana gave one swift glance at his face as he approached the fire, then quickly averted her eyes.
"I have weighed existing circumstances as fairly as possible, and have concluded that our case is hopeless," began Thurston, without preliminaries. Indiana, her hands tightly clasped, her eyes gazing straight before her, listened with strained attention. "I have tried to awaken you, gradually, to the personal responsibility of your new position. My confidence was strong in my own power to win a love that, to me, was worth waiting for—worth the winning." He covered his eyes with his hand, then went on, with an effort. "My courage has gone. The dread of a repetition of last night's frenzy—degrading to us both—between husband and wife—horrible!" His agitation would not permit him to continue. He turned from her and paced the room. Finally, he stopped and looked at her motionless figure. "Have you anything to say?"
Her lips trembled, she shook her head, trying to restrain an hysterical outburst of sobs. Then she rose to go to her room.
"One moment," said Thurston, sternly. "I do not wish your maid to see you like this. You must help yourself this morning, and—I shall breakfast with my mother. When you are quite composed and ready to receive her, she will come to you—as she thinks you retired early last night with a headache."
"Ah, she doesn't know!" exclaimed Indiana. "I'm glad of that—very glad."
"Your people were talking of going to Paris in a week or so—you will go with them—on a pleasure trip." Indiana, leaning against the table, lifted her eyes wonderingly to his. He met her gaze, proudly and relentlessly. "You will go with them to America—on a pleasure trip. I will break it to my mother, slowly—that you are not coming back."
A deathlike faintness passed over Indiana as she listened to his calm, passionless voice, pronouncing sentence upon her. She could not, at that moment, utter a word of pleading or remonstrance. He seemed like a rock of relentless justice, against which she might hurl herself, only to be dashed in pieces.
"You see, I have made it very easy for you to drop the shackles of the tyrant and regain your lost and coveted freedom," he added, bitterly. She grasped the edge of the table desperately with her small hands. "If you had only loved me," cried Thurston, despairingly, "it might have been different! But how could I expect it? You have never been taught to love—to sacrifice for love. Only to be loved—to demand sacrifices from others." Gathering all her strength, Indiana moved to the door. He held it open for her, and she passed him with averted eyes, looking dazed and hopeless. "Indiana!" he cried, involuntarily, as she disappeared down the long hall. By a great effort he prevented himself from rushing after her. Sinking down in a chair, he buried his face in his hands. He had spoken the final words between them—there was no retraction now. But so utterly had the serene and smiling little witch taken possession of his heart, he felt, that in exorcising her he was plucking it bodily from his breast. Only the necessity of appearing composed before his mother rescued him from succumbing utterly to his despair.
Indiana had not heard Thurston's smothered cry. She climbed the stairs laboriously, clinging to the banisters. There seemed to be iron weights hanging to her limbs. But this was the result of lying for so many hours on the hard floor, in the cold library. Consciousness, too, seemed fading away from her. She only wished to retain it until she reached her room; then, she felt, she would be quite satisfied to part with it forever. Thurston's last words echoed in her ears, "You have never been taught to love—to sacrifice for love—only to be loved—to demand sacrifices from others." That was what Jennings meant when he said that he looked back with satisfaction on his life, knowing he had served a loved master faithfully. Even Jennings realized the spirit of love, while—reaching her bed at last, she pushed back the covers and coiled herself in its soft depths. Thoughts floated mistily in her brain. "I have missed many things—to love, to serve, to sacrifice. Perhaps it was not all my fault—not all." She lapsed into unconsciousness, but it was the unconsciousness of which nature makes use to soothe exhausted and tired humanity—sleep.
At noon she awoke of her own accord, wonderfully refreshed morally and physically. Things assumed a new aspect. The very knowledge of her love gave her happiness. One supreme fact remained, in spite of all that had passed—she loved her husband, and he her. It was impossible, she argued, that her conduct of last night could have utterly killed a love as deep as she knew his to be. The only barrier between them was his wounded love and pride, one which she thought she could easily break with her two small hands.
Jennings knocked, and whispered that Mrs. Bunker and her father and mother were below. He had told them she was asleep. Did she wish to give any message?
"Don't say anything. I'll be down in a little while, Jennings." She dismissed him with a reassuring smile and a nod.
"Her little leddyship looked so smiling—maybe it's all come right again," thought Jennings, in delight, as he descended the stairs.
"So they're all there," mused Indiana. "I shall act as if nothing is the matter." She continued the process of dressing, without a maid. A cold bath brought the bloom back to her cheeks. Her eyes were very bright, yet tender. She donned an airy, rose-colored morning-gown, dotted here and there with black velvet bows. Standing at her dressing-table, putting another black velvet bow in the fluffy, yellow puffs of her hair, a sudden misgiving assailed her—that her power to win him back might not be as strong as she imagined. She shivered at the remembrance of his stern, implacable face, when he entered the library that morning. What if he would not retract his words, remaining strong in his determination that they should part? Her face looked piteously back at her from the glass. "Well, I, too, am strong—very strong," she thought, bravely. "I am his wife—and I love him." She bent forward and kissed her face in the mirror. "Good luck to us, Indiana," she said, with a laugh, followed by a rush of tears. "We'll fight for our happiness—won't we?"
The family were sitting below in the library with Thurston and Lord Stafford. No one, so far, had ventured a remark or asked a question relating to the night before.
Mrs. Bunker, finally, tired of discussing matters which did not interest her, and anxious to know something relating to the subject uppermost in all their minds, went to the window, pretending that she wished to see if her hansom was still waiting, well aware Lord Stafford would follow her.
"You look charming this morning, Mrs. Bunker," remarked Lord Stafford, gallantly joining her, as she expected, in the window embrasure.
"So Indiana is sleeping it off," observed Mrs. Bunker, confidentially.
"I am sure I don't know," answered Lord Stafford, twirling his moustache.
"You were with Thurston when we came?"
"Yes," said Lord Stafford, indifferently.
"Well, he told you?" queried Mrs. Bunker, in an exasperated tone.
"Thurston said nothing, and, of course, I couldn't ask."
"Well, you English are the closest-mouthed people. They've had a row. Haven't you any curiosity to know how it ended?"
"I'm burning to find out," answered Lord Stafford, calmly.
"There's nothing burning about you—except your cigar," said Mrs. Bunker, contemptuously, "and that's going out."
"So it is—thank you."
"Let me hold the match, your hand is trembling, mine is as firm as a rock."
"Ah, I'm getting on—but you have discovered the secret of eternal youth."
"We had a time getting her home," said Mrs. Bunker, in a low voice, ignoring this last remark. "Do you think her mother and father had any influence with her? Not a bit. Grandma Chazy did it. I sent the poor, deluded parents to bed, and I put on a wrapper and fussed about my room, while she sat by herself in the parlor, working herself up into a rage about her husband's tyranny, and rushing to the window, every time a cab passed, to see if he was coming. Well, I grew tired of this, so I went to bed. When she had worn herself out, she put her head into my room. 'Grandma Chazy, where shall I sleep?' 'On the sofa, dear. Throw your cloak over you. I've only a single bed, or I would offer you half.' She slammed the door, in a rage. About a half hour later, 'Grandma Chazy, I guess I'll go home.' 'Is that so, dear? Going—good night.' And I fell asleep, apparently."
"Mrs. Bunker," remarked Lord Stafford, "if I ever marry, it shan't be an American."
"Oh yes, you will, because you say you won't."
"Oh, then I shan't marry at all—that's the safest way."
"The most dangerous," assured Mrs. Bunker, mockingly. "A man is never safe from marriage until he is married."
"Ha, ha, ha! Very good. Mrs. Bunker, you are really the liveliest woman I have ever met."
"Well, I'm not going to waste my day here," said Mrs. Bunker, decidedly. "I want to see the shops and take Indiana along. Thurston," advancing into the room, "I'm dying to see Indiana."
Thurston looked at her gravely.
"My dear Mrs. Bunker, I have plans for the future, which it is best you should know before you see Indiana."
Mr. and Mrs. Stillwater looked anxious, but Mrs. Bunker took his words lightly.
"Don't make any plans, Thurston. And don't look so serious. You've made up your mind to something—I can see that—but she'll upset it all in a jiffy. You don't know Indiana."
"No," answered Thurston, without relaxing his gravity of expression, "and I never shall. Mr. Stillwater, your daughter is very anxious to go with you to Paris—and I have consented."
"Thurston, how good of you to let her!" cried Mrs. Stillwater, innocently. "It is the only thing to complete my happiness."
"I don't approve of it," said Mrs. Bunker.
"I am about making arrangements for a long trip—for scientific purposes," continued Thurston, in a slow, mechanical voice. "I will be away from England for some time, and I think it advisable your daughter should go home with you—until my mission is over."
Mr. Stillwater folded his arms, looking keenly into Thurston's eyes. "Well, of course, nothing would suit us better; but, my dear fellow—is it good for a young married couple to separate so soon?"
"No, it is not good."
"Then must you go?" asked Mr. Stillwater.
Thurston raised his eyes, meeting Stillwater's piercing glance, steadily. "I must go."
Mrs. Stillwater was so overcome with joy at the prospect of having Indiana at home once more, she failed to see anything strange in the arrangement. "Of course, we're sorry, Thurston, but if you're obliged to go away, it's quite natural you should want to leave Indiana with us."
"I, for one, don't like it," added Stillwater, decidedly.
"How long do you expect to be away?" inquired Mrs. Stillwater.
"For several months—perhaps forever." His voice broke. He turned from them all and leaned his forehead against the mantel, gazing with hopeless eyes into the fire. The others looked at one another in apprehensive silence.
"Good morning, everybody," said a gay, sweet voice. They all looked, in relieved surprise, at Indiana, smiling in answer to her greeting. Her cheeks were as rosy as her gown. Her eyes seemed to laugh with happiness. Thurston stared at her, aghast at this apparent heartlessness. "Her eyes have not looked so happy since I married her," he thought. "It's the prospect of freedom. My resolution was well taken—I'm glad, for her sake. What a charming little face—like a cherub. Ah, if she had only loved me!"
Indiana went to Lord Stafford, with outstretched hands. "Dear Uncle Gerald, you want to kiss me good-morning, don't you? Well, you shall." She put up her mouth to be kissed. Then she flitted airily to Mr. Stillwater, put her arms about his neck and nestled to his breast. "You dear old pop, I love you so!" She rubbed her face against his. "I was naughty last night, wasn't I? Don't tell anybody. You forgive me, don't you? There!" She kissed him a number of times, and then floated out of his arms, a rose-colored cloud, over to her mother. "You old goosie, you were afraid I wouldn't come home. Why didn't you take me by the shoulders and push me out? But you couldn't be harsh with your little Indy, your baby, your only one. I love you so!" Mrs. Stillwater pressed her joyfully to her breast, murmuring caressing words, and kissing her hair. Finally, releasing herself, Indiana looked at Mrs. Bunker, undecided how she should approach her. She had been severely scolded by that lady the night before.
Mrs. Bunker frowned at her, then smiled. "You little monkey," she said, then shook her finger warningly. Indiana answered by a good-natured grimace, then she went to Thurston.
"Good morning, Thurston," she said, after a swift glance, demurely offering her cheek. Thurston hesitated. "Ah, here's dear Lady Canning," continued Indiana, artfully, still standing in an expectant position. Thurston bent down quickly and touched his lips to her cheek.
"I have been so worried about this child," said Lady Canning, taking Indiana's outstretched hands, when she had greeted the others very graciously. "I wanted to see you last night, dear, but Thurston wouldn't let me. Are you sure you feel quite well again?" She seated herself, drawing Indiana to her side and looking anxiously in her face.
"Splendid," replied Indiana, sinking down on her knees and putting her arm about Lady Canning's waist. "It was a bad spell—while it lasted, but when it passes off I always feel better. I won't have another for a long time—I hope never." She peeped slyly under her eyelashes at Thurston. "A bad spell is good for something—it makes me realize how much everybody loves me, and how much I love everybody—and I do love you, dear Lady Canning."
"Darling!" murmured Lady Canning, quite overcome, pressing Indiana's head to her breast.
"There now, who can resist Indiana," said Mrs. Stillwater. "Darling, your husband says you are going to Paris with us."
"Am I?" asked Indiana, in a surprised voice. She turned to Lady Canning. "I want you to scold Thurston, dear. He's too good. He's given in, because they're dying for me to go to Paris with them. But I wouldn't think of such a thing. I wouldn't leave him—or you, dear Lady Canning."
"Oh, Indy!" exclaimed Mrs. Stillwater, in a hurt and jealous tone.
"Indiana," said Stillwater, watching her face, "Thurston says you can home with us, if you like, while he's on his trip."
"What trip?" asked Indiana, quickly.
"Is it possible you have not given up that idea, Thurston?" questioned Lady Canning, severely. She turned apologetically to Mrs. Stillwater. "He always had an insane desire to go to the North Pole, but I thought marriage had cured him of it. Indiana, put your foot down on that idea, once and for all."
"I put my foot down!" exclaimed Indiana. "Oh dear no—he's the master. But let us hope he will think better of it." She folded her hands severely, bearing with the highest degree of equanimity the astonished looks of her family.
Thurston, who at first could scarcely give credence to what he heard, concluded she was playing the hypocrite in order to win sympathy for herself, and at the same time divert it from him, putting him in the character of a heartless husband.
"That little monkey's playing for something," thought Mrs. Bunker, "and she'll win her game, as sure as I'm her grandmother. Well, Indiana, it's settled, then, that you're not going to Paris with us."
"Grandma Chazy, I'm a married woman," answered Indiana, with an offended air, "I can't be running about like a young girl." Lady Canning nodded approvingly.
"I must get out of this," exclaimed Mrs. Bunker, desperately. "I feel choked for air. We're going to do some shopping. Indiana, do you want to come?"
"Well, considering Indiana was so ill, I think it advisable for her to remain quietly at home to-day," said Lady Canning. "But I should be very pleased to have you all dine with us this evening."
Indiana heard Lady Canning with a sensation of relief. She was suffering a tension of suspense. And she felt that to go out with her family and keep up this semblance of light-heartedness would have been an unendurable strain.
"There, what did I tell you?" remarked Mrs. Bunker to Thurston, when they were on the point of leaving. "Where are your plans now?" He made no answer, standing, determined and pale, by the mantel, and following Indiana's every move as she flitted from one to the other, kissing them good-bye. "Good morning, Lady Canning," said Mrs. Bunker. "I wish I had your complexion. Yes, I do."
"Come early," pleaded Indiana, clinging to her mother, "and we'll have a good, long talk before dinner, my dearest mother—and—and—after to-day we'll spend all our time together."
"I think it's a shame you can't go with us. You're perfectly well?"
"No, Lady Canning's right—I have a headache. I was excited last night—at the hotel."
"Your color's so bright—perhaps you're feverish," observed Mrs. Stillwater, anxiously. "Indy, is it all right between you and Thurston?"
"Yes—mother—it's all right." Mrs. Stillwater looked at her with an anxious expression. But Indiana met her gaze hopefully. "Don't worry, mother," she said. "I love Thurston, and he loves me—so it's all right, isn't it?"
"Yes, my darling," sighed Mrs. Stillwater, greatly relieved.
"Even if—if things don't go as they should sometimes," said Indiana, wistfully, "they come right after a while—don't they—when people really love each other?"
"Nothing matters, so long as you love each other," Mrs. Stillwater assured her, with the wisdom of her long matrimonial experience.
Indiana watched them driving off, from the window—her mother and father in one hansom, Mrs. Bunker and Lord Stafford in another. The latter had manifested a desire to go shopping. He thought seriously of joining the party on their Parisian trip.
"Thurston," asked Lady Canning, in a very serious voice, "is there anything wrong between you and your wife?" Indiana, at the window, listened with every nerve.
"Nothing, mother," answered Thurston, purposely refraining from one glance at the little figure standing in the shadow of the curtains.
"Then what has driven you to this sudden resolve? How could you think of doing such a cruel thing?"
"I mean to do it, mother."
Lady Canning looked at her son with very displeased eyes. "Thurston, you are developing an exceedingly bad temper. You—you have never before acted in such an inconsistent, inconsiderate manner. And with such a sweet wife. You don't deserve her."
"Mother, don't scold him," said Indiana, pleadingly. Thurston cast on her an indescribable look.
Jennings appeared then, and announced that the carriage was waiting to take Lady Canning for her morning drive. She sat in displeased silence, until her maid brought her bonnet and cloak. Before she left the room, she turned severely to Thurston. "I do do not wish to see you again until you tell me you have abandoned this fool-hardy, heartless idea, for good and all." She took Indiana in her arms. "My darling, forgive him, for my sake."
"I will, dear Lady Canning," said Indiana, angelically. "I—it's very weak, I know, but I couldn't be angry with him—no matter what he did." Thurston stared at her, aghast at such hypocrisy. Indiana led Lady Canning out into the hall. "Don't worry," she whispered, as Jennings held the door open for her to pass to the carriage. "It will be all right, I'll manage him." When she returned to the library, Thurston was staring into the fire. She approached quietly, and he raised his eyes, to see her standing meekly before him, her hands clasped in a childish fashion.
"You have played your part well," he said, bitterly.
Indiana raised her eyes supplicatingly, then dropped them again. "I wasn't acting," she said, innocently.
"It's well that you can be so light-hearted, when I am suffering tortures," he continued, with an involuntary burst of grief and bitterness.
"No, no, I was acting—but I felt the part. I do love everybody, and I want to be good again and make up."
"Cease playing the spoilt child," said Thurston, wearily. "Last night's performance can never be repeated under my roof—never shall be. You can tell your own story. Paint me the brutal husband—the tyrant. I shall not contradict you. I am resolved upon one thing—to leave England." He stared hopelessly into the fire again, leaning his forehead on the mantel.
"I suppose it's no use—asking you—to—forgive me," she said, watching him sharply. He turned quickly, and she dropped her eyes. "If—if there won't be a repetition," she continued, her lips quivering like those of a child on the verge of tears.
"You cannot change your nature," he replied, coldly, not allowing himself to believe in the sincerity of this contrition.
"No, and that's why you're very wrong in being so hard with me. I was good, wasn't I? For three months and then, when the folks rushed down on me, like a river breaking a dam, I broke out—that's all." She raised her arms, with a long, despairing sigh. "Thurston, if you will go away, may I stay with your mother?"
"Indiana, you don't know how I suffer—you cannot. As long as all the love is on my side, my wishes will be commands to you; my plans for your welfare and happiness—domination. There should be no such question between a man and wife who love each other. It could not have ended otherwise. A union without the sacred seal of love—is cursed." He went from her to the door, terribly agitated, wishing they could part finally, then and there, in order to spare himself the further torture of looking at Indiana with the thought that he had renounced her.
"Thurston, you'll shake hands with me—won't you?" she asked, imploringly, a look of terror dawning in her eyes. He extended his hand, with averted gaze. Indiana grasped it quickly, then held it for dear life. "You shall listen to me," she pleaded, in a voice vibrating with intense emotion, her breast heaving, her eyes dilating, until they looked almost black under the yellow hair. "I won't let you go until you've heard it. All my life I've queened it over people, delighting to feel my own power—to make the poor things who loved me bend to my will. Last night I saw the horror in your face when you turned from me—leaving me alone with my uncontrolled, undisciplined nature. Thurston, how could you expect me to be different? It wouldn't be natural if I were. I wanted to queen it over my husband—to be put up on a pedestal and worshipped. I thought it was enough if I let him love me—but I never knew it was better to love than to be loved, to serve than to be served." She looked into his face with piteous eyes, and said, in a low, frightened voice, "Thurston, take my two hands—hold them fast—while I step down from my throne—and then, when we stand together, side by side, I can whisper in your ear—I never could up there—that I love you."
"Indiana, for God's sake, don't play with me again!" he cried, passionately.
She drew his head down to her and kissed him. "Thurston, husband," she murmured, in a low, wondering voice, "I love you better than myself."
"Indiana!" He pressed her to his heart, with the feeling that they were on holy ground, even standing at the altar, and the sacred seal had just been set to their union.
Indiana raised her head, the tears trembling on her lashes. "I'll never break out again."
"Yes, you will, but next time I will have love to help me. Indiana, look at me—look at me. I cannot realize it—my wife loves me! Do you remember one day, in the Adirondacks, out on the lake, at that weird place called the Devil's Pulpit? I think—yes, it was the first day I spent with you—you wanted a story, and I gave you a part of my inmost life—do you remember?"
"Yes, I remember—how clearly I remember. The great, black rock hanging over us; the blue mountains in the distance; your voice, telling me of the weaver—"
"Indiana, his dream has come true—at last. 'And the web, transformed into a gleaming fabric of light, gladdened the soul of the weaver.'"
Indiana drew a little space away, quoting his own words, with uplifted hands, "'And as he wove he heard singing, a choir of beautiful, jubilant voices.'"
Thurston looked into her eyes, then held out his arms. "I hear them, Indiana!"
* * * * * * * *
By JOHN LLOYD.
12mo; cloth; illustrated. $1.50.
The story is one of ranch life and of the troubles with the so-called cattle-thieves, which eventuated in one of the most dramatic incidents of the ever-dramatic West—the famous "Rustler War."
The cattlemen alleged that their fight was one against "Rustlers"; their opponents contended that they were but honest homesteaders, whose only crime was that of fencing in their possessions, thereby destroying the open range. Owen Wister's great story, "The Virginian," gives the cattlemen's side of the controversy; "The Invaders" is written from the opposing viewpoint.
Into this stirring history, the hero, John Thorpe, a tenderfoot, is precipitated, and it is his part in the struggle that furnishes the thread of the story. The love plot introduced early in the tale enlivens the story and sustains the reader's interest throughout.
* * * * *
By HENRY DEVERE STACPOOLE.
Author of "The Crimson Azaleas," "The
Blue Lagoon," etc., etc.
12mo; cloth. $1.50.
The two chief figures in this story are Fanny Lambert and her father, two entirely unconventional characters, delightfully simple and unworldly. The book is full of irresistably humorous touches, irresponsible fun being, in fact, its characteristic feature. The lesser figures, down to the merest thumbnail sketches, are all incisively drawn.
* * * * *
For Charles the Rover
By MAY WYNNE.
12mo, cloth $1.50
Author of "Henry of Navarre," etc., etc.
A rattling good story of love and intrigue in good old Ireland in the days and for the cause of Charles the Rover.
"Of all the days that's in the yearThe tenth of June I love most dear,When sweet white roses do appearFor sake of Charles the Rover."Our noble Ormond, he is drest,A rose is glancing at his breast;His famous hounds have doffed his crest,White roses deck them over."
R. F. FENNO & CO., 18 East 17th St., N.Y.
*** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HER LORD AND MASTER ***