A BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE
THE CENTURY CO.
Copyright, 1915, by
THE CENTURY Co.
Published, August, 1915
"LOLLY" my friend who was
and to JEAN my friend who is
The writing of this book seems to me one of the
most astounding literary feats I have ever known.
It is one hundred thousand words long; it was
started on Thanksgiving day and finished before New
Year s. The actual writing occupied two weeks, the
revision another two. The reason for this amazing
celerity lies in the fact that it is pure reporting; the
author has not branched out into any byways of style,
but has merely told in the simplest language possible
what she actually remembered. The circumstances in
which the book was written are interesting.
The author had been wrenched from her feverishly
busy life to undergo an operation in a hospital; four
days later she began the writing of this book. I will
quote her own words:
"It seems to me as though these two weeks I have
just passed in the hospital have been the first time in
which I have had a chance to think in thirteen years.
As I lay on my back and looked at the ceiling, the
events of my girlhood came before me, rushed back
with such overwhelming vividness that I picked up a
pencil and began to write."
I cannot imagine just what the general reader s at
titude toward this work will be. I myself, reading it
in the light of the knowledge I possess of the life of
the author, look upon it not only as an intensely in
teresting human document, but as a suggestive socio
logical study. It is an illuminative picture of what
may befall a working-girl who, at the age of seven
teen, gaily ventures forth to conquer life with ten
dollars in her pocket. You may object that many of
her difficulties were brought about through her own
initiative ; that she ran to meet them open armed. This
is, no doubt, true, but you must consider her ignorance
and her temperament. It was her naivete and generos
ity and kindly impulses that left her unarmed. She
was unique in many respects in her peculiar hered
ity, her extreme ability, and her total unacquainted-
ness with the world.
I have known the author for a number of years,
and I know that the main outline of everything she
says is true, though the names of people and places
have necessarily been changed in order to hide their
identity. The author has written a number of books
that have had a wide circulation. The aspirations of
the little girl of seventeen have been realized !
IT was a cold, blizzardy day in the month of
March when I left Quebec, and my weeping, shiv
ering relatives made an anxious, melancholy group
about my departing train. I myself cried a bit, with
my face pressed against the window ; but I was seven
teen, my heart was light, and I had not been happy
My father was an artist, and we were very poor.
My mother had been a tight-rope dancer in her early
youth. She was an excitable, temperamental creature
from whose life all romance had been squeezed by the
torturing experience of bearing sixteen children.
Moreover, she was a native of a far-distant land, and
I do not think she ever got over the feeling of being
a stranger in Canada.
Time was when my father, a young and ardent ad
venturer (an English-Irishman) had wandered far
and wide over the face of the earth. The son of rich
parents, he had sojourned in China and Japan and
India in the days when few white men ventured into
the Orient. But that was long ago.
This story is frankly of myself, and I mention these
few facts merely in the possibility of their proving of
some psychological interest later; also they may ex
plain why it was possible for a parent to allow a young
girl of seventeen to leave her home with exactly ten
dollars in her purse (I do not think my father knew
just how much money I did have) to start upon a
voyage to the West Indies!
In any event, the fact remains that I had overruled
my father s weak and absentminded objections and
my mother s exclamatory ones, and I had accepted a
position in Jamaica, West Indies, to work for a little
local newspaper called The Lantern.
It all came about through my having written at the
age of sixteen a crude, but exciting, story which a
kindly friend, the editor of a Quebec weekly paper,
actually accepted and published.
I had always secretly believed there were the strains
of genius somewhere hidden in me ; I had always lived
in a little dream world of my own, wherein, beautiful
and courted, I moved among the elect of the earth.
Now I had given vivid proof of some unusual power!
I walked on air. The world was rose-colored; nay,
it was golden.
With my story in my hand, I went to the office of a
family friend. I had expected to be smiled upon and
approved, but also lectured and advised. My friend,
however, regarded me speculatively.
" I wonder," said he, " whether you could n t take
the place of a girl out in Jamaica who is anxious to
return to Canada, but is under contract to remain there
for three years."
The West Indies! I had heard of the land some
where, probably in my school geography. I think it
was associated in my mind in some way with the fairy-
stories I read. Nevertheless, with the alacrity and
assurance of youth I cried out that of course I
" It s a long way off," said my friend, dubiously,
" and you are very young."
I assured him earnestly that I should grow, and as
for the distance, I airily dismissed that objection as
something too trivial to consider. Was I not the
daughter of a man who had been back and forth to
China no fewer than eighteen times, and that during
the perilous period of the Tai-ping Rebellion? Had
not my father made journeys from the Orient in the
old-fashioned sailing-vessels, being at sea a hundred-
odd days at a time? What could not his daugh
Whatever impression I made upon this agent of
the West Indian newspaper must have been fairly
good, for he said he would write immediately to Mr.
Campbell, the owner of The Lantern, who, by the
way, was also a Canadian, and recommend me.
I am not much of a hand at keeping secrets, but I
did not tell my parents. I had been studying short
hand for some time, and now I plunged into that
harder than ever, for the position was one in which I
could utilize stenography.
It was less than two weeks later when our friend
came to the house to report that the West Indian edi
tor had cabled for me to be sent at once.
I was the fifth girl in our family to leave home. I
suppose my father and mother had become sadly ac
customed to the departing of the older children to
try their fortunes in more promising cities than Que
bec; but I was the first to leave home for a land as
distant as the West Indies, though two of my sisters
had gone to the United States. Still, there remained
a hungry, crushing brood of little ones younger than
I. With what fierce joy did I not now look forward
to getting away at last from that same noisy, torment
ing brood, for whom it had been my particular and
detested task to care ! So my father and mother put
no obstacle in the way of my going. I remember pas
sionately threatening to " run away " if they did.
My clothes were thick and woolen. I wore a red
knitted toque, with a tassel that wagged against my
cheek. My coat was rough and hopelessly Canadian.
My dress a shapeless bag belted in at the waist. I
was not beautiful to look at, but I had a bright, eager
face, black and shining eyes, and black and shining
hair. My cheeks were as red as a Canadian apple.
I was a little thing, and, like my mother, foreign-
looking. I think I had the most acute, inquiring, and
eager mind of any girl of my age in the world.
A man on the train who had promised my father
to see me as far as my boat did so. When we ar
rived in New York he took me there in a carriage
the first carriage in which I had ever ridden in my
I had a letter to the captain, in whose special charge
I was to be, that my Jamaica employer had written.
So I climbed on board the Atlas. It was about six
in the morning, and there were not many people about
just a few sailors washing the decks. I saw, how
ever, a round-faced man in a white cap, who smiled
at me broadly. I decided that he was the captain. So
I went up to him and presented my letter, addressing
him as " Captain Hollowell." He held his sides and
laughed at me, and another man this one was young
and blond and very good-looking ; at least so he seemed
to the eyes of seventeen came over to inquire the
cause of the merriment. Greatly to my mortification,
I learned from the new arrival that the man I had
spoken to was not the captain, but the cook. He him
self was Mr. Marsden, the purser, and he was pre
pared to take care of me until Captain Hollowell ar
The boat would not sail for two hours, so I told
Mr. Marsden that I guessed I d take a walk in New
York. He advised me strenuously not to, saying that
I might " get lost." I scorned his suggestion. What,
/ get lost? I laughed at the idea. So I went for my
" walk in New York."
I kept to one street, the one at the end of which my
boat lay. It was an ugly, dirty, noisy street, noisy
even at that early hour, for horrible-looking trucks
rattled over the cobblestoned road, and there were
scores of people hurrying in every direction. Of the
streets of New York I had heard strange, wonderful,
and beautiful tales; but as I trotted along, I confess
I was deeply disappointed and astonished. I think I
was on Canal Street, or another of the streets of lower
I was not going to leave the United States, how
ever, without dropping a bit of my ten dollars behind
me. So I found a store, in which I bought some post
cards, a lace collar, and some ribbon pink. When
I returned to the boat I possessed, instead of ten dol
lars, just seven. However, this seemed a considerable
sum to me,, and I assured myself that on the boat itself,
of course, one could not spend money.
I was standing by the rail watching the crowds on
the wharf below. Every one on board was saying
good-by to some one else, and people were waving and
calling to one another. Everybody seemed happy and
excited and gay. I felt suddenly very little and for
lorn. I alone had no one to bid me good-by, to wave
to me, and to bring me flowers. I deeply pitied my
self, and I suppose my eyes were full of tears when I
turned away from the rail as the boat pulled out.
The blond young purser was watching me, and now
he came up cheerfully and began to talk, pointing out
things to me in the har&or as the boat moved along.
He had such nice blue eyes and shining white teeth,
and his smile was quite the most winning that I had
ever seen. Moreover, he wore a most attractive uni
form. I forgot my temporary woes. He brought
me his " own special " deck chair, at least he said it
was his, and soon I was comfortably ensconced in
it, my feet wrapped about with a warm rug produced
from somewhere also his. I felt a sense of being
under his personal charge. A good part of the morn
ing he managed to remain near me, and when he did
go off among the other passengers, he took the trouble
to explain to me that it was to attend to his duties.
I decided that he must have fallen in love with me.
The thought delightfully warmed me. True, nobody
had ever been in love with me before. I was the Ugly
Duckling of an otherwise astonishingly good-looking
family. Still, I was sure I recognized the true signs
of love (had I not in dreams and fancies already been
the heroine in a hundred princely romances?), and I
forthwith began to wonder what life as the wife of a
sailor might be like.
At dinner-time, however, he delivered me, with one
of his charming smiles, to a portly and important per
sonage who proved to be the real captain. My place
at table was to be at his right side. He was a red-
faced, jovial, mighty- voiced Scotchman. He called me
a " puir little lassie " as soon as he looked at me. He
explained that my West Indian employer (also a
Scotch-Canadian) was his particular friend, and that
he had promised to take personal care of me upon
the voyage. He hoped Marsden, in his place, had
looked after me properly, as he had been especially as
signed by him to do. I, with a stifling lump of hurt
vanity and pride in my throat, admitted that he had.
Then he was not in love with me, after all!
I felt cruelly unhappy as I stole out on deck after
dinner. I disdained to look for that special deck
chair my sailor had said I could have all for my own,
and instead I sat down in the first one at hand.
Ugh! how miserable I felt! I suppose, said I to
myself, that it was I who was the one to fall in
love, fool that I was! But I had no idea one felt so
wretched even when in love. Besides, with all my
warm Canadian clothes, I felt chilly and shivery.
A hateful, sharp-nosed little man came poking
around me. He looked at me with his eyes snapping,
and coughed and rumbled in his throat as if getting
ready to say something disagreeable to me. I turned
my back toward him, pulled the rug about my feet,
closed my eyes, and pretended to go to sleep. Then
" Say, excuse me, but you ve got my chair and
I sat up. I was about to retort that " first come,
first served " should be the rule, when out on deck
came my friend Marsden. In a twinkling he ap
peared to take in the situation, for he strode quickly
over to me, and, much to my indignation, took me by
the arm and helped me to rise, saying that my chair
was " over here."
I was about to reply in as haughty and rebuking a
tone as I could command when I was suddenly seized
with a most frightful surge of nausea. With my
good-looking blond sailor still holding me by the arm,
and murmuring something that sounded both laugh
ing and soothing, I fled over to the side of the boat.
FOR four days I never left my state-room. " A
sea-voyage is an inch of hell," says an old
proverb of my mother s land, and to this proverb I
most heartily assented.
An American girl occupied the " bunk " over mine,
and shared with me the diminutive state-room. She
was even sicker than I, and being sisters in great mis
ery, a sweet sympathy grew up between us, so that
under her direction I chewed and sucked on the sourest
of lemons, and under mine she swallowed lumps of
ice, a suggestion made by my father.
On the second day I had recovered somewhat, and
so was able to wait upon and assist her a bit. Also.
I found in her a patient and silent listener (Heaven
knows she could not be otherwise, penned up as she
was in that narrow bunk), and I told her all about the
glorious plans and schemes I had made for my fa
mous future; also I brought forth from my bag nu
merous poems and stories, and these I poured into her
deaf ears in a voluble stream as she lay shaking and
moaning in her bunk.
It had been growing steadily warmer so warm, in
deed, that I felt about the room to ascertain whether
there were some heating-pipes running through it.
On the fourth day my new friend sat up in her
bunk and passionately went " on strike." She said :
" Say, I wish you d quit reading me all that stuff.
I know it s lovely, but I ve got a headache, and hon
estly I can t for the life of me take an interest in your
poems and stories."
Deeply hurt, I folded my manuscripts. She leaned
out of her berth and caught at my arm.
" Don t be angry," she said. " I did n t mean to
I retorted with dignity that I was not in the slight
est degree hurt. Also I quoted a proverb about cast
ing one s pearls before swine, which sent her into such
a peal of laughter that I think it effectually cured her
of her lingering remnants of seasickness. She
jumped out of her bunk, squeezed me about the waist,
" You re the funniest girl I ve ever met a whole
vaudeville act." She added, however, that she liked
me, and as she had her arm about me, I came down
from my high horse, and averred that her affection
was reciprocated. She then told me her name and
learned mine. She was bookkeeper in a large depart,
ment store. Her health had been bad, and she had
been saving for a long time for this trip to the West
We decided that we were now well enough to go
on deck. As I dressed, I saw her watching me with
a rather wondering and curious expression. My
navy-blue serge dress was new, and although it was
a shapeless article, the color at least was becoming,
and with the collar purchased in New York, I felt
that I looked very well. I asked her what she thought
of my dress. She said evasively:
" Did you make it yourself?"
I said :
" No ; mama did."
" Oh," said she.
I did n t just like the sound of that " Oh," so I asked
her aggressively if she did n t think my dress was nice.
" I think you Ve got the prettiest hair of any girl
I ever knew."
My hair did look attractive, and I was otherwise
quite satisfied with my appearance. What is more, I
was too polite to let her know what I thought of her
appearance. Although it was March, she, poor thing,
had put on a flimsy little muslin dress. Of course it
was suffocatingly hot in our close little state-room,
but, still, that seemed an absurd dress to wear on a
boat. I offered to lend her a knitted woolen scarf
that mama had made me to throw over her shoulders,
but she shook her head, and we went up on deck.
To my unutterable surprise, I found a metamor
phosis had taken place on deck during my four days
absence. Every one appeared to be dressed in thin
white clothes ; even the officers were all in white duck.
Moreover, the very atmosphere had changed. It was
as warm and sultry as midsummer, and people were
sipping iced drinks and fanning themselves!
Slowly it dawned upon me that we were sailing
toward a tropical land. In a hazy sort of way I had
known that the West Indies was a warm country, but
I had not given the matter much thought. My father,
who had been all over the world, had left my outfit
ting to mama and me (we had so little with which to
buy the few extra things mama, who was more of a
child than I, got me!), and I had come away with
clothes fit for a land which often registered as low as
twenty- four degrees below zero!
My clothes scorched me; so did my burning shame.
I felt that every one s eyes were bent upon me.
Both Captain Hollowell and Mr. Marsden greeted
me cordially, expressing delight at seeing me again,
but although the captain said (in a big, booming voice
that every one on deck could hear) that I looked like
a nice, blooming peony, I sensitively fancied I detected
a laugh beneath his words.
Tragedies should be measured according to their
effects. Trifles prick us in youth as sharply as the
things that ought to count. I sensitively suffered in
my pride as much from the humiliation of wearing
my heavy woolen clothes as I physically did from the
burden of their weight and heat. I was sure that I
presented a ridiculous and hideous spectacle. I felt
that every one was laughing at me. It was insuffer
able; it was torture.
As soon as I could get away from that joking cap
tain, who would keep patting me on the head, and that
purser, who was always smiling and showing his white
teeth, I ran down to my room, which I had hoped to
see as little of as possible for the rest of the voyage.
I sat down on the only chair and began to cry. The
ugly little room, with its one miserable window, seemed
a wretched, intolerable prison. I could hear the sough
ing of the waves outside, and a wide streak of blue
sky was visible through my port-hole window. The
moving of the boat and the thud of the machinery
brought home to me strongly the fact that I was being
carried resistlessly farther and farther away from the
only home I had ever known, and which, alas! I had
yearned to leave.
It was unbearably hot, and I took off my woolen
dress. I felt that I would never go on deck again;
yet how was I going to endure it down here in this
little hole ? I was thinking miserably about that when
my room-mate came back.
" Well, here you are! "^he exclaimed. " I ve been
looking for you everywhere ! Now what s the mat
" N-nothing," I said; but despite myself the sob
" You poor kid ! " she said. " I know what s the
matter with you. I don t know what your folks were
thinking of when they sent you off to the West Indies
in Canadian clothes. Are they all as simple as you
there ? But now don t you worry. Here, I Ve got
six pretty nice-looking shirt-waists, besides my dresses,
and you re welcome to any of them you want. You re
just about my size. I m thirty-four."
Thirty- four! " I exclaimed, astonished even in the
midst of my grief. " Why, I thought you were only
" Bust ! Bust ! " she cried, laughing, and got her
waists out and told me to try them on. I gave her a
kiss, a big one, I was so delighted; but I insisted that
I could not borrow her waists. I would, however, buy
some of them if she would sell them.
She said that was all right, and she sold me three
of them at a dollar-fifty each. They fitted me finely.
I never felt happier in my life than when I put on one
of those American-made shirt-waists. They were
made sailor-fashion, with wide turnover collars and
elbow sleeves; with a red silk tie in front, and with
my blue cloth skirt, I really did look astonishingly
nice, and, anyway, cool and neat. The fact that I
now possessed only two dollars and fifty cents in the
world gave me not the slightest worry, and when I
ran out of my room, humming, and up the stairs and
bang into the arms of Captain Hollowell, he did not
say this time that I looked like a peony, but that, " By
George ! " I looked like a nice Canadian rose.
64 T~*\O you know," said my room-mate on the night
\_J before we reached Jamaica, " that that four-
fifty you paid me for those waists just about covers
" Tips ? " I repeated innocently. " What are tips ? "
She gave me a long, amazed look, her mouth wide-
" Good heavens ! " at last she said, " where have you
lived all of your life? "
" In Quebec," I said honestly.
" And you never heard of tips people giving tips
to waiters and servants ? "
I grew uncomfortably red under her amused and
amazed glance. In the seven days of that voyage my
own extraordinary ignorance had been daily brought
home to me. I now said lamely:
" Well, we had only one servant that I can ever re
member, a woman named Sung-Sung whom papa
brought from China; but she was more like one of
our family, a sort of slave. We never gave her tips,
or whatever you call it."
Did I not know, pursued my American friend, that
people gave extra money that is, "tips" to wait-
ers at restaurants and hotels when they got through
eating a meal?
I told her crossly and truthfully that I had never
been in a hotel or restaurant in all my life. She threw
up her hands, and pronounced me a vast object of
pity. She then fully enlightened me as to the exact
meaning of the word " tips," and left me to calculate
painfully upon a bit of paper the division of two dol
lars and fifty cents among five people ; to wit, steward
esses, cabin boys, waiters, etc.
I did n t tell her that that was the last of my money
that two-fifty. However, I did not expend any
thought upon the subject of what was to become of
me when I arrived in Jamaica sans a single cent.
We brought our bags and belongings out on deck
before the boat docked next day. Every one was
crowded against the rails, watching the approaching
A crowd seemed to be swarming on the wharves,
awaiting our boat. As we came nearer, I was amazed
to find that this crowd was made up almost entirely
of negroes. We have few negroes in Canada, and I
had seen only one in all my life. I remember an older
sister had shown him to me in church he was pure
black and told me he was the " Bogy man," and
that he d probably come around to see me that night.
I was six. I never took my eyes once from his face
during the service, and I have never forgotten that
It was, therefore, with a genuine thrill of excite
ment and fear that I looked down upon that vast sea
of upturned black and brown faces. Never will I
forget that first impression of Jamaica. Everywhere
I looked were negroes men and women and chil
dren, some half naked, some with bright handker
chiefs knotted about their heads, some gaudily attired,
some dressed in immaculate white duck, just like the
people on the boat.
People were saying good-by, and many had already
gone down the gang-plank. Several women asked me
for my address, and said they did not want to lose me.
I told them I did not know just where I was going.
I expected Mr. Campbell to meet me.
As Mr. Campbell had not come on board, however,
and as Captain Hollowell and Mr. Marsden seemed
to have forgotten my existence in the great rush of
arrival, I, too, at last descended the gang-plank. I
found myself one of that miscellaneous throng of col
ored and white people.
A number of white men and women were hurrying
about meeting and welcoming expected passengers,
who were soon disposed of in various vehicles. Soon
not one of the boat s passengers remained, even my
room-mate being one of a party that climbed aboard
a bus marked, " The Crystal Springs Hotel."
I was alone on that Jamaica wharf, and no one had
come to claim me!
It was getting toward evening, and the sky in the
west was as red as blood. I sat down on my bag
and waited. Most of the people left on the dock were
laborers who were engaged in unloading the ship s
cargo. Women with heavy loads on their heads, their
hands on their shaking hips, and chattering in a high
singsong dialect (I didn t recognize it for English at
first!), passed me. Some of them looked at me curi
ously, and one, a terrifying, pock-marked crone, said
something to me that I could not understand.
I saw the sun slipping down in the sky, but it was
still as bright and clear as mid-day. Sitting alone on
that Jamaica wharf, I scarcely saw the shadows deep
ening as I looked out across the Caribbean Sea, which
shone like a jewel under the fading light. I forgot
my surroundings and my anxiety at the failure of my
employer to meet me; I felt no fear, just a vague sort
of enchantment and interest in this new land I had
But I started up screaming when I felt a hand on
my shoulder, and looking up in the steadily deepening
twilight, I saw a smiling face approach my own, and
the face was black!
I fled toward the boat, crying out wildly : .
"Captain Hollowell! O Captain Hollowell!"
I left my little bag behind me. Fear lent wings to
my feet, and I kept crying out to Captain Hollowell as
I ran up that gang-plank, mercifully still down. At
the end of it was my dear blond purser, and right into
his arms unhesitatingly I ran. He kept saying:
" Well ! well ! well ! " and he took me to Captain Hol-
lowell, who swore dreadfully when he learned that Mr.
Campbell had not met me. Then my purser went to
the dock wharf to get my bag, and to " skin the hide
off that damned black baboon " who had frightened
I ate dinner with Captain Hollowell and the officers
of the Atlas that night, the last remaining passenger
on the boat. After dinner, accompanied by the cap
tain and the purser, I was taken by carriage to the of
fice of The Lantern.
I don t know what Captain Hollowell said to Mr.
Campbell before I was finally called in, for I had been
left in the outer office. Their voices were loud and
angry, and I thought they were quarreling. I de
voutly hoped it was not over me. I was tired and
sleepy. In fact, when Captain Hollowell motioned to
me to come in, I remember rubbing my eyes, and he
put his arm about me and told me not to cry.
In a dingy office, with papers and books scattered
about in the most bewildering disorder, at a long desk-
table, likewise piled with books and journals and pa
pers, sat an old man who looked exactly like the pic
tures of Ibsen. He was sitting all crumpled up, as it
were, in a big arm-chair; but as I came forward he
sat up straight. He stared at me so long, and with
such a*i expression of amazement, that I became un
easy and embarrassed. I remember holding on tight
to Captain Hollowell s sleeve on one side and Mr.
Marsden s on the other. And then at last a single
sentence came from the lips of my employer. It came
explosively, despairingly :
"My God!" said the owner of The Lantern.
It seems that our Quebec friend had been assigned
to obtain for The Lantern a mature and experienced
journalist. Mr. Campbell had expected a woman
of the then approved, if feared, type of bluestock
ing, and behold a baby had been dropped into his
The captain and Marsden had departed. I sat alone
with that old man who looked like Ibsen, and who
stared at me as if I were some freak of nature. He
had his elbows upon his desk, and his chin propped up
in the cup of his hands. He began to ask me ques
tions, after he had literally stared me down and out
of countenance, and I sat there before him, twisting
my handkerchief in my hand.
" How old are you? "
" Seventeen. I mean I m going on eighteen."
Eighteen was, in fact, eleven months off.
" Have you ever worked before? "
" I ve written things."
After a silent moment, during which he glared at
me more angrily than ever, he demanded :
" What have you written ? "
" Poetry," I said, and stopped because he said again
in that lost voice, " My God ! "
" I had a story published in The Star I said.
" I ve got it here, if you d like to see it."
He made a motion of emphatic dissent.
" What else have you done ? "
" I taught myself shorthand," I said, " and I can
take dictation as fast as you can talk."
He looked frankly skeptical and in no wise im
" How can you do that if you ve had no experience
as a stenographer ? "
" I got a shorthand book," I said eagerly. " It s
not at all hard to teach yourself after you learn the
rudiments. My sister showed me that. She s secre
tary to the Premier of Canada. As soon as I had
learned shorthand, I acquired practice and speed by
going to church and prayer-meetings and taking down
After a moment he said grudgingly:
" Not a bad idea." And then added, " What do
you think you are going to do here ? "
" Write for your paper," I said as conciliatingly as
"What?" he inquired curiously.
" Why anything poetry
He waved his hand in such a dismissing manner
that I got up, though it was my poetry, not I, he wished
to be rid of just then. I went nearer to him.
" I know you don t want me," I said, " and I don t
want to stay. I m sorry I came. I wouldn t if I
had known that this was a hot, beastly old country
where nearly everybody is black. If you 11 just get
me back to the boat, I know Captain Hollowell will let
me go back with him, even if I have n t the money for
" What about the money I paid for you to come
here ? " he snarled. " Think I m going to lose that ? "
I did not answer him. I felt enervated, homesick,
miserable, and tired. He got up presently, limped
over to another table, he was lame, poured a glass
of water, brought it to me with a big fan, and said
gruffly, " Sit ! "
The act, I don t know why, touched me. In a dim
way I began to appreciate his position. He was a
lame old man running a fiery, two-sheet little news
paper in this tropical land far from his native Canada.
There was no staff, and, indeed, none of the ordinary
appurtenances of a newspaper office. He employed
only one able assistant, and as he could not get such
a person in Jamaica and could not afford to pay a
man s salary, being very loyal to Canada, he had been
accustomed to send there for bright and expert young
women reporters to do virtually all the work of run
ning his newspaper. Newspaper women are not
plentiful in Canada. The fare to Jamaica is, or was
then, about $55. Mr. Campbell must have turned all
these things over in his mind as he looked at this latest
product of his native land, a green, green girl of seven
teen, whose promise that she would " look older next
day," when her " hair was done up," carried little re
assurance as to her intelligence or ability.
He did a lot of " cussing " of our common friend
in Canada. Finally he said that he would take me
over to the Myrtle Bank Hotel, where accommoda
tions had been arranged for me, and we could talk the
matter over in the morning.
While he was getting his stick and hat, the latter
a green-lined helmet, I could n t resist looking at some
of his books. He caught me doing this, and asked me
gruffly if I had ever read anything. I said :
" Yes, Dickens, George Eliot, and Sir Walter Scott ;
and I ve read Huxley and Darwin, and lots of books
on astronomy to my father, who is very fond of that
subject." As he made no comment, nor seemed at all
impressed by my erudition, I added proudly : " My
father s an Oxford man, and a descendant of the
family of Sir Isaac Newton."
There was some legend to this effect in our family.
In fact, the greatness of my father s people had been
a sort of fairy-story with us all, and we knew that it
was his marriage with mama that had cut him off from
his kindred. My Jamaica employer, however, showed
no interest in my distinguished ancestry. He took me
roughly by the arm, and half leaning upon, half lead
ing me, hobbled with me out into the dark street.
It was about nine o clock. As we approached the
hotel, which was only a short distance from the office
of The Lantern, it pleased me as a happy omen that
somewhere within those fragrant, moonlit gardens a
band began to play most beautifully.
Mr. Campbell took me to the room of the girl whose
place I was to take, and who was also from Quebec.
She had already gone to bed, but she rose to let me in.
Mr. Campbell merely knocked hard on the door and
" Here s Miss Ascough. You should have met
her," and angrily shoved me in, so it seemed to me.
Miss Foster, her hair screwed up in curl-papers,
after looking at me only a moment, said in a tired,
complaining voice, like that of a sick person, that I
had better get to bed right away; and then she got
into bed, and turned her face to the wall. I tried to
draw her out a bit while undressing, but to all my
questions she returned monosyllabic answers. I put
out the light, and crept into bed beside her. The last
thing she said to me, and very irritably, was :
" Keep to your own side of the bed."
I slept fairly well, considering the oppressiveness
of the heat, but I awoke once when something buzzed
against my face.
" What s that ? " I cried, sitting up in bed.
She murmured crossly:
" Oh, for heaven s sake lie down ! I have n t slept
a wink for a century. You 11 have to get used to
Jamaica bugs and scorpions. They ought to have
screens in the windows ! "
After that I slept with the sheet over my head.
I WAS awakened at six the following morning. A
strange, singsong voice called into the room:
" Marnin , missee! Heah s your coffee."
I found Miss Foster up and dressed. She was sit
ting at a table drinking coffee. She put up the shade
and let the light in. Then she came over to the bed,
where the maid had set the tray. I was looking at
what I supposed to be my breakfast. It consisted of
a cup of black coffee and a single piece of dry toast.
You d better drink your coffee," said Miss Foster,
wearily. " It will sustain you for a while."
I got a good look at her, standing by my bed. The
yellowness of her skin startled me, and I wondered
whether it could be possible that she, too, was " col
ored." Then I remembered that she was from my
home. Moreover, her eyes were a pale blue, and her
hair a light, nondescript brown. She had a peevish
expression, even now while she made an effort at
friendliness. She sat down on the side of my bed,
and while I drank my coffee and nibbled my piece of
toast she told me a few things about the country.
Jamaica, she said, was the beastliest country on the
face of the earth. Though for a few months its cli-
mate was tolerable, the rest of the year it was almost
unbearable. What with the crushing heat and the
dirty, drizzling rain that followed, and fell without
ceasing for months at a time, all ambition, all strength,
all hope were slowly knocked out of one. There were
a score of fevers, each one as bad as the others. She
was suffering from one now. That was why she was
going home. She was young, so she said, but she
felt like an old woman. She pitied me, she declared,
for what was before me, and said Campbell had no
right to bring healthy young girls from Canada with
out first telling them what they were coming up against.
I put in here that perhaps I should fare better. I
" I m almost abnormally healthy and strong, you
know, even if I look thin. I m the wiry kind."
She sniffed at that, and then said, with a shrug:
" Oh, well, maybe you will escape. I m sure I wish
you better luck than mine. But one thing s certain :
you 11 lose that Canadian complexion of yours all
My duties, she said, would be explained to me by
Mr. Campbell himself, though she was going to stay
over a day or two to help break me in. My salary
would be ten dollars a week and free board and lodg
ing at the Myrtle Bank Hotel. I told her of the
slighting reception I had received at the hands of Mr.
Campbell, and she said :
" Oh, well, he s a crank. You could n t please him,
no matter what you did." Then she added : " I don t
see, anyhow, why he objected to you. Brains aren t
so much needed in a position like this as legs and a
constitution of iron."
As the day advanced, the heat encroached. Miss
Foster sat fanning herself languidly by the window,
looking out with a far-away expression. I told her
about my clothes, and how mortified I was to find
them so different from those of the others on the boat.
" You can have all my clothes, if you want. They
won t do for Canada."
That suggested a brilliant solution of my problem
of how I was to secure immediately suitable clothes
for Jamaica. I suggested that as she was going to
Canada, she could have mine, and I would take hers.
The proposition seemed to give her a sort of grim
amusement. She looked over my clothes. She took
the woolen underwear and heavy, hand-knitted stock
ings (that Sung-Sung had made for an older brother,
and which had descended to me after two sisters had
had them!), two woolen skirts, my heavy overcoat,
and several other pieces.
She gave me a number of white muslin dresses,-
they seemed lovely to me, an evening gown with a
real low neck, cotton underwear, hose, etc.
I put my hair up for the first time that morning.
As I curled it a bit, this was not difficult to do. I sim
ply rolled it up at the back and held the chignon in
place with four bone hair-pins that she gave me. I
put on one of her white muslin dresses but it was so
long for me that we had to make a wide tuck in it.
Then I wore a wide Leghorn hat, the only trimming
of which was a piece of cream-colored mull twisted
like a scarf about the crown.
I asked Miss Foster if I looked all right, and was
suitably dressed, and she said grudgingly:
" Yes, you 11 do. You re quite pretty. You d
better look out."
Asked to explain, she merely shrugged her shoul
ders and said :
" There s only a handful of white women here,
you know. We don t count the tourists. You 11
have all you can do to hold the men here at arm s-
This last prospect by no means bothered me. I had
the most decided and instinctive liking for the oppo
The hotel was beautiful, built somewhat in the
Spanish style, with a great inner court, and an arcade
that ran under the building. Long verandas ran out
like piers on each side of the court, which was part of
the wonderful garden that extended to the shores of
The first thing I saw as we came out from our room
upon one of the long-pier verandas was an enormous
bird. It was sitting on the branch of a fantastic and
incredibly tall tree that was all trunk, and then burst
into great fan-like foliage at the top. Subsequently I
learned that this was a cocoanut tree.
The proprietor of the hotel, who was dark, smiling,
and deferential, came up to be introduced to me, and
I said, meaning to pay a compliment to his country :
" You have fine-looking birds here."
He looked at me sharply and then snickered, as if
he thought I were joking about something.
" That s a scavenger," he said. " There are hun
dreds, thousands of them here in Jamaica. Glad you
I thought it an ugly name for a bird, but I said :
" It s a very interesting bird, I think."
Miss Foster pulled me along and said sharply that
the birds were vultures. They called them scavengers
in Jamaica because they really acted as such. Every
bit of dirt and filth and refuse, she declared with dis
gust, was thrown into the streets, and devoured shortly
by the scavengers. If a horse or animal died or was
killed, it was put into the street. Within a few min
utes it had completely disappeared, the scavengers hav
ing descended like flies upon its body. She darkly
hinted, moreover, that many a human corpse had met
a similar fate. I acquired a shuddering horror for that
" interesting bird " then and there, I can tell you, and
I thought of the unscreened windows, and asked Miss
Foster if they ever had been known to touch living
things. She shrugged her shoulders, which was not
Miss Foster took me into the hotel s great dining-
room, which was like a pleasant open conservatory,
with great palms and plants everywhere. There we
had breakfast, for it seems coffee and toast were just
an appetizer. I never became used to Jamaica cook
ing. It was mushy, hot, and sweet.
After breakfast we reported at The Lantern, where
Mr. Campbell, looking even fiercer in the day, impa
tiently awaited us. He wished Miss Foster to take
me directly out to Government House and teach me
my duties there, as the Legislative Council was then
in session. He mumbled off a lot of instructions to.
Miss Foster, ignoring me completely. His apparent
contempt for me, and his evident belief that there was
no good to be expected from me, whetted my desire
to prove to him that I was not such a fool as I looked,
or, rather, as he seemed to think I looked. I listened
intently to everything he said to Miss Foster, but even
so I received only a confused medley of "Bills at
torney-general Representative So and So Hon.
Mr. So and So," etc.
I carried away with me, however, one vivid instruc
tion, and that was that it was absolutely necessary for
The Lantern to have the good-will of the Hon. Mr.
Burbank, whom we must support in everything. It
seemed, according to Mr. Campbell, that there was
some newspaper libel law that was being pressed in
the House that, if passed, would bring the Jamaica
press down to a pusillanimous condition.
Mr. Burbank was to fight this bill for the newspa
pers. He was, in fact, our representative and cham
pion. The Lantern, in return, was prepared to sup
port him in other measures that he was fathering.
Miss Foster and I were to remember to treat him with
more than common attention. I did not know, of
course, that this meant in our newspaper references
to him, and I made a fervent vow personally to win the
favor of said Burbank.
We got into a splendid little equipage, upholstered
in tan cloth and with a large tan umbrella top, which
was lined with green.
We drove for several miles through a country re
markable for its beautiful scenery. It was a land of
color. It was like a land of perpetual spring a
spring that was ever green. I saw not a single shade
that was dull. Even the trunks of the gigantic trees
seemed to have a warm tone. The flowers were
startlingly bright yellow, scarlet, and purple.
We passed many country people along the road.
They moved with a sort of languid, swinging amble,
as if they dragged, not lifted, their flat feet. Women
carried on their heads enormous bundles and some
times trays. How they balanced them so firmly was
always a mystery to me, especially as most of them
either had their hands on their hips, or, more extraor
dinary, carried or led children, and even ran at times.
Asses, loaded on each side with produce, ambled along
as draggingly as the natives.
Miss Foster made only three or four remarks dur
ing the entire journey. These are her remarks. They
are curious taken altogether:
" This carriage belongs to Mr. Burbank. He sup
plies all the vehicles, by the way, for the press."
" Those are the botanical gardens. Jamaica has
Mr. Burbank to thank for their present excellent con
dition. Remember that."
" We are going by the Burbank plantation now.
He has a place in Kingston, too, and a summer home
in the mountains."
"If we beat that newspaper libel law, you ll have
a chance to write all the funny things and rhymes you
want about the mean sneaks who are trying to push it
Even during the long drive through the green coun
try I had been insensibly affected by the ever-growing
heat. In the long chamber of Government House,
where the session was to be held, there seemed not a
breath of air stirring. It was insufferably hot, though
the place was virtually empty when we arrived. I had
a shuddering notion of what it would be like when full.
Miss Foster was hustling about, getting " papers "
and " literature "of various kinds, and as the legis
lators arrived, she chatted with some of them. She
had left me to my own devices, and I did not know
what to do with myself. I was much embarrassed, as
every one who passed into the place took a look at me.
We were the only two girls in the House.
There was a long table in the middle of the room,
at which the members of Parliament and the elected
members had their seats, and there was a smaller table
at one side for the press. I had remained by the door,
awaiting Miss Foster s instructions. The room was
rapidly beginning to fill. A file of black soldiers
spread themselves about the room, standing very fine
and erect against the walls. At the council table, on
one side, were the Parliament members, Englishmen,
every one of whom wore the conventional monocle.
On the other side were the elected members, who were,
without an exception, colored men. I was musing
over this when a very large, stout, and handsome per
sonage (he was a personage!) entered ponderously,
followed by several younger men. Every one in the
room rose, and until he took his seat (in a big chair
on a little elevated platform at the end of the room)
they remained standing. This was his Excellency Sir
Henry Drake, the Governor-General of Jamaica.
The House was now in session.
By this time I experienced a natural anxiety to know
what was to become of me. Surely I was not sup
posed to stand there by the door. Glancing across at
the press table, I presently saw Miss Foster among
the reporters. She was half standing, and beckoning
to me to join her. Confused and embarrassed, I
passed along at the back of one end of the council
table, and was proceeding in the direction of the press
table, when suddenly the room reverberated with loud
cries from the soldiers of, " Order ! order ! order ! "
I hesitated only a moment, ignorant of the fact that
that call was directed against me, and, as I paused, I
looked directly into the purpling face of the Governor
of Jamaica. He had put on his monocle. His face
was long and preternaturally solemn, but there was a
queer, twisted smile about his mouth, and I swear that
he winked at me through that monocle, which fell into
his hand. I proceeded to my seat, red as a beet.
" Great guns ! " whispered Miss Foster, dragging
me down beside her, " you walked in front of the
governor! You should have gone behind his chair.
What will Mr. Campbell say when he knows you were
called to order the first day ! A fine reflection on The
Lantern!" She added the last sentence almost bit
What went on at that session I never in the world
could have told. It was all like an incomprehensible
dream. Black men, the elected members, rose, and
long and eloquently talked in regard to some bill.
White men (government) rose and languidly re
sponded, sometimes with a sort of drawling good
humor, sometimes satirically. I began to feel the ef
fect of the oppressive atmosphere in a way I had not
yet experienced. An unconquerable impulse to lay
my head down upon the table and go to sleep seized
upon me, and I could scarcely keep my eyes open.
At last my head did fall back against the chair; my
eyes closed. I did not exactly faint, but I succumbed
slightly to the heat. I heard a voice whispering at
my ear, for the proceedings went on, as if it were a
common thing for a woman to faint in Government
" Drink this! " said the voice, and I opened my eyes
and looked up into a fair, boyish face that was bend
ing over mine. I drank that cool Jamaica kola, and
recovered myself sufficiently to sit up again. Said
my new friend:
" It 11 be cooler soon. You 11 get used to the cli
mate, and if I were you, I wouldn t try to do any
" I ve got to learn. Miss Foster sails to-morrow,
and after that"
" I 11 show you after that," he said, and smiled
At one there was an adjournment for luncheon. I
then became the center of interest, and was introduced
by Miss Foster to the members of the press. Jamaica
boasted three papers beside ours, and there were rep
resentatives at the Parliament s sessions from other
West Indian islands. I was also introduced to sev
eral of the members, both black and white.
I went to luncheon with Miss Foster and two mem
bers of Parliament (white) and three reporters, one
of them the young man who had given me the kola,
and whose name was Verley Marchmont. He was an
Englishman, the younger son in a poor, but titled,
family. We had luncheon at a little inn hard by, and
while there I made three engagements for the week.
With one of the men I was to go to a polo match
(Jamaica had a native regiment whose officers were
English), with another I was to attend a ball in a
lighthouse, and young Marchmont, who was only
about eighteen, was to call upon me that evening.
At the end of the afternoon session, which was not
quite so wearing, as it had grown cooler, I was intro
duced by Miss Foster to the governor s secretary,
Lord George Fitzpatrick, who had been smiling at me
from behind the governor s back most of the day. By
him I was introduced to the governor, who seemed to
regard me as a more or less funny curiosity, if I am
to judge from his humorous expression. Lord George
also introduced me to other government members, and
he asked me if I liked candies. I said I did. He
asked me if I played golf or rode horseback. I said
I did n t, but I could learn, and he said he was a great
By this time I thought I had met every one con
nected with the House, when suddenly I heard some
one I think it was one of the reporters call
" Oh, all right, Mr. Burbank. I 11 see to it."
Miss Foster was drawing me along toward the door.
It was time to go. Our carriage was waiting for us.
As we were going out, I asked her whether I had yet
met Mr. Burbank, and she said she supposed so.
" I don t remember meeting him," I persisted, " and
I want very specially to meet Mr. Burbank."
On the steps below us a man somewhat dudishly
attired in immaculate white duck, and wearing a green-
lined helmet, turned around and looked up at us. His
face was almost pure black. His nose was large and
somewhat hooked. I have subsequently learned that
he was partly Hebrew. He had an enormous mouth,
and teeth thickly set with gold. He wore gold-rimmed
glasses with a chain, and these and his fine clothes
gave a touch of distinction to his appearance. At
least it made him stand out from the average colored
man. As I spoke, I saw him look at me with a curi
ous expression; then smiling, he held out his big
" I am the Hon. Mr. Burbank," he said.
I was startled to find that this man I had been plan
ning to cultivate was black. I do not know why, but
as I looked down into that ingratiating face, I was
filled with a sudden panic of almost instinctive fear,
and although he held out his hand to me, I did not take
it. For that I was severely lectured by Miss Foster
all the way back. She reminded me that I could not
afford to snub so powerful a Jamaican as Burbank,
and that if I had the slightest feeling of race preju
dice, I had better either kill it at once or clear out of
Jamaica. She said that socially there was absolutely
no difference between the white and colored people in
As a matter of fact, I had literally never even heard
the expression " race prejudice " before, and I was as
far from feeling it as any person in the world. It
must be remembered that in Canada we do not en
counter the problem of race. One color there is as
good as another. Certainly people of Indian extrac
tion are well thought of and esteemed, and my own
mother was a foreigner. What should I, a girl who
had never before been outside Quebec, and whose ex
perience had been within the narrow confines of home
and a small circle, know of race prejudice?
Vaguely I had a feeling that all men were equal as
men. I do not believe it was in me to turn from a
man merely because of his race, so long as he himself
was not personally repugnant to me. I myself was
dark and foreign-looking, but the blond type I adored.
In all my most fanciful imaginings and dreams I had
always been golden-haired and blue-eyed.
I GOT on better with Mr. Campbell after Miss Fos
ter went. He told me it was necessary for us to
keep on the right side of Mr. Burbank, who was one
of the greatest magnates and philanthropists of Ja
maica, but he took occasion to contradict some of
Miss Foster s statements. It was not true, he said,
that there was no social distinction between black and
white in Jamaica. That was the general opinion of
tourists in Jamaica, who saw only the surface of
things, but as a matter of fact, though the richest
people and planters were of colored blood; though
they were invited to all the governor s parties and the
various official functions; though they were in vast
evidence at polo and cricket matches ; though many of
them were talented and cultivated, nevertheless, there
was a fine line drawn between them and the native
white people who counted for anything. This he
wished me to bear in mind, so that while I should
always act in such a way as never in the slightest to
hurt or offend the feelings of the colored element,
whose good-will was essential to The Lantern, I must
retain my dignity and stoop to no familiarity which
would bring me and The Lantern into disrepute with
the white element, whose good-will was equally es
I think in less than a week my employer began
grudgingly to approve of me; in about two weeks we
were friends. His eyes no longer glared at me
through his thick glasses. Once when I timidly prof
fered one of my " poems," those same fierce eyes actu
ally beamed upon me. What is more, he published
Of course it was chiefly my work that won me favor
with Mr. Campbell. I came back every day from Gov
ernment House with accurate and intelligent reports
of the debates. I wonder what Mr. Campbell would
have said to me had he known that nearly all my first
reports were written for me by young Verley March-
mont of The Daily Call, The Lantern s deadliest rival !
For the life of me, I never could grasp the details of
the debates clearly enough to report them coherently,
and so young Marchmont obligingly " helped " me.
However, these debates were only a part of my work,
though at this time they constituted the chief of my
For a young person in a hot country I was kept
extremely busy. Even after my day s work was over
I had to bustle about the hotel and dig up society notes
and stories, or I had to attend meetings, functions, and
parties of various kinds.
One morning after I had been on The Lantern about
a week, Mr. Campbell handed me a list of my duties
as an employee of The Lantern. Perhaps you would
like to know exactly what they were :
1. To attend and report the debates of the Legis
lative Council when in session.
2. To report City Council proceedings.
3. To report court cases of interest to the public.
4. To keep posted on all matters of interest to Great
Britain and Jamaica.
5. To make calls upon and interview at intervals
His Excellency the Governor-General, the Colonial
Secretary, the Commander of the Forces, the Attor
ney-General, and other Government officials.
6. To interview elected members when matters of
interest demand it.
7. To interview prominent Americans or those who
are conspicuous on account of great wealth.
8. To report political speeches.
9. To report races, cricket matches, polo, etc.
10. To represent The Lantern at social functions.
11. To visit stores, factories, etc., and to write a
weekly advertising column.
12. To prepare semi-weekly a bright and enter
taining woman s column, into which must be skilfully
woven the names of Jamaica s society women.
13. To review books and answer correspondence.
14. To correct proof in the absence of the proof
15. To edit the entire paper when sickness or ab
sence of the editor prevents him from attending.
Mr. Campbell watched my face keenly as I read
that list, and finally, when I made no comment, he
prompted me with a gruff, " Well ? " To which I
replied, with a smile :
" I think what you want, Mr. Campbell, is a mental
and physical acrobat."
" Do I understand from that," he thundered, " that
you cannot perform these necessary duties ? "
" On the contrary," I returned coolly, " I think that
I can perform them all, one at a time; but you have
left out one important item."
" Poetry," I said.
My answer tickled him immensely, and he burst into
" Got any about you ? " he demanded. " I believe
you have it secreted all over you."
" I ve none of my own this morning, but here s
a fine little verse I wish you d top our editorial page
with," and I handed him the following :
For the cause that lacks assistance ;
For the wrong that needs resistance;
For the future in the distance,
And the good that we can do !
With such a motto, we felt called upon to be pug
nacious and virtuous, and all of that session of Par
liament our little sheet kept up a peppery fight for the
rights of the people.
Mr. Campbell said that I looked strong and impu
dent enough to do anything, and when I retorted that
I was not the least bit impudent, but, on the contrary,
a dreamer, he said crossly:
"If that s the case, you 11 be incompetent."
But I was a dreamer, and I was not incompe
It was all very well, however, to joke with Mr.
Campbell about these duties. They were pretty hard
just the same, and I was kept rushing from morning
till night. There was always a pile of work waiting
me upon my return from Government House, and
I could see that Mr. Campbell intended gradually to
shift the major part of the work entirely upon me.
The unaccustomed climate, the intense heat, and the
work, which I really loved all contributed to make
me very tired by evening, when my duties were by no
Miss Foster s warning that I should have to keep
the men at arm s-length occasionally recurred to me,
but I dare say she exaggerated the matter. It is true
that considerable attention was directed at me when
I first came to Jamaica, and I received no end of
flowers and candies and other little gifts; but my work
was so exacting and ceaseless that it occupied all of
my time. I could do little more than pause a moment
or two to exchange a word or joke with this or that
man who sought flirtations with me. I was always in
a hurry. Rushing along through the hotel lobby or
parlors or verandas, I scarcely had time to get more
than a confused impression of various faces.
There was a ball nearly every night, and I always
had to attend, for a little while, anyway ; but I did not
exactly mingle with the guests. I never danced,
though lots of men asked me. I would get my list
of guests and the description of the women s dresses,
etc., write my column, and despatch it by boy to The
Lantern, and I would go to bed while the music was
still throbbing through the hotel. Often the guests
were dancing till dawn.
Now I come to Dr. Manning. He was the one man
in the hotel who persistently sought me and endeavored
to make love to me. He was an American, one of
a yachting party cruising in the Caribbean. I was not
attracted to him at all, and as far as I could, I avoided
him; but I could not come out upon the verandas or
appear anywhere about the hotel without his seeming
to arise from somewhere, and come with his flattering
smiles and jokes. His hair was gray, and he had a
pointed, grizzled beard. He was tall, and carried
himself like a German officer.
He was always begging me to go to places with him,
for walks, drives, or boat-trips, etc., and finally I did
accept an invitation to walk with him in the botanical
gardens, which adjoined, and were almost part of our
That evening was a lovely one, with a great moon
overhead, and the sea like a vast glittering sheet of
quicksilver. The Marine Band was playing. People
were dancing in the ball-room and on the verandas
and out in a large pagoda in the gardens. Down along
the sanded paths we passed numerous couples strolling,
the bare shoulders of the women gleaming like ivory
under the moonlight. The farther we strolled from
the hotel, the darker grew the paths. Across the white
backs of many of the women a black sleeve was passed.
Insensibly I felt that in the darkness my companion
was trying to see my face, and note the effect upon
me of these " spooners." But he was not the first
man I had walked with in the Jamaica moonlight.
Verley Marchmont and I had spent a few brief hours
from our labors in the gardens of the hotel.
Dr. Manning kept pressing nearer to me. Officiously
and continuously, he would take my arm, and
finally he put his about my waist. I tried to pull it
away, but he held me firmly. Then I said:
There are lots of people all around us, you know.
If you don t take your arm down, I shall scream for
He took his arm down.
After a space, during which we walked along in
silence, I not exactly angry, but irritated, he began to
reproach me, accusing me of disliking him. He said
he noticed that I was friendly with every one else,
but that when he approached me my face always stiff
ened. He asked if I disliked him, and I replied that
I did not, but that other men did not look at or speak
to me as he did. He laughed unbelievingly at that,
" Come, now, are you trying to make me believe
that the young men who come to see you do not make
love to you? "
I said thoughtfully:
" Well, only one or two come to see me, and
no none of them has yet. I suppose it s because
I m always so busy ; and then I m not pretty and rich
like the other girls here."
" You are pretty," he declared, " and far more in
teresting than any other girl in the hotel. I think you
For that compliment I was truly grateful, and I
thanked him for saying it. Then he said :
"Let me kiss you just once, won t you?" Again
he put his arm about me, and this time I had to strug
gle considerably to release myself. When he let me
go, he said almost testily:
" Don t make such a fuss. I m not going to force
you," and then after a moment, " By the way, why do
you object to being kissed? " just as if it were unusual
for a girl to object to that.
" I 11 tell you why," I said tremulously, for it is
impossible for a young girl to be unmoved when a
man tries to kiss her, " because I want to be in love
with the first man who kisses me."
" And you cannot care for me? "
I shook my head.
" Because you are an old man," I blurted out
He stopped in the path, and I could feel him bris
tling with amazement and anger. Somewhat of a
fop in dress, he had always carried himself in the gay
manner of a man much younger than he probably was.
His voice was very nasty :
I repeated what I had said :
" You are an old man."
"What on earth makes you think that?" he de
" Because your hair is gray," I stammered, " and
because you look at least forty."
At that he broke into a loud chuckle.
" And you think forty old? "
I nodded. For a long moment he was silent, and
then suddenly he took my arm, and we moved briskly
down the path. We came to one of the piers, and he
assisted me up the little stone steps. In silence we
went out to the end of the pier. There was a little
rustic inclosure at the end, covered with ivy from
some sort of tree that seemed to grow out of the
water. We sat down for a while and looked out
across the sea. Everything was very dark and still.
Presently he said :
" What would you do if I were to take you into my
arms by force now ? "
" I would scream," I said childishly.
" That would n t do you much good, for I could
easily overpower you. You see, there is not a soul
anywhere near us here."
I experienced a moment s fear, and stood up, when
he said in a kind and humorous way :
" Sit down, child; I m not going to touch you. I
merely said that to see what you would do. As a mat
ter of fact, I want to be your friend, your very par
ticular friend, and I am not going to jeopardize my
chances by doing something that would make you hate
me. Do sit down."
Then as I obeyed, he asked me to tell him all about
myself. It was not that I either trusted or liked him,
but I was very lonely, and something in the quiet
beauty of our surroundings affected me, I suppose.
So long as he did not make love to me, I found him
rather attractive. So I told him what there was to
tell of my simple history up to this time, and of my
He said a girl like me deserved a better fate than to
be shut up in this country ; that in a few weeks the hot
season would set in, and then I would probably find
life unbearable, and surely have some fever. He ad
vised me very earnestly, therefore, not to remain here,
but suggested that I go to America. There, he said,
I would soon succeed, and probably become both fa
mous and rich. His description of America quick
ened my fancy, and I told him I should love to go
there, but, unfortunately, even if I could get away
from this position, and managed to pay my fare to
America, I did not know what I would do after ar
riving there virtually penniless.
When I said that, he turned and took both my hands
impulsively and in a nice fatherly way in his, and
" Why, look here, little girl, what s the matter with
your coming to work for me ? I have a huge practice,
and will need a secretary upon my return. Now, what
do you say ? "
" I say, Thank you, and I 11 remember."
At the hotel he bade me good night rather perfunc
torily for a man who had recently tried to kiss a girl,
but I lay awake some time thinking about what he
had said to me.
I suppose every girl tosses over in her mind the
thought of that first kiss that shall come to her. In
imagination, at least, I had already been kissed many
many times, but the ones who had kissed me were not
men or boys. They were strange and bewildering
heroes, princes, kings, knights, and great nobles.
Now, here was a real man who had wanted to kiss
me. I experienced no aversion to him at the thought ;
only a cool sort of wonder and a flattering sense of
IT was a cruel coincidence that the dreadful thing
that befell me next day should have followed at
a time when my young mind was thus dreamily en
The day had been a hard one, and I know not why,
but I could not concentrate my mind upon the pro
ceedings. I felt inexpressibly stupid, and the voices
of the legislators droned meaninglessly in my ears.
As I could not follow the debates intelligently, I de
cided that I would stay a while after the council had
adjourned, borrow one of the reporters notes, and
patch up my own from them.
So, with a glass of kola at my elbow, and Verley
Marchmont s notes before me, I sat at work in the
empty chamber after every one, I supposed, had gone,
though I heard the attendants and janitors of the
place at work in the gallery above. Young March-
mont waited for me outside.
A quiet had settled down over the place, and for
a time I scribbled away upon my pad. I do not know
how long I had worked not more than ten or fifteen
minutes when I felt some one come up behind me,
and a voice that I recognized from having heard it
often in the House during the session said :
" May I speak to you a moment, Miss Ascough ? "
I looked up, surprised, but not alarmed. Mr. Bur-
bank was standing by my chair. There was something
in his expression that made me move my chair back a
little, and I began gathering up my papers rapidly.
I said politely, however :
" Certainly, Mr. Burbank. What can The Lan
tern do for you ? "
I sat facing the table, but I had moved around so
that my shoulder was turned toward him. In the lit
tle silence that followed I felt his breath against my ear
as he leaned on the table and propped his chin upon
his hand, so that his face came fairly close to mine.
Before he spoke I had shrunk farther back in my
He said, with a laugh that was an odd mixture of
embarrassment and assurance:
" I want nothing of The Lantern, but I do want
something of you. I want to ask you to er
marry me. God ! how I love you ! "
If some one had struck me hard and suddenly upon
the head, I could not have experienced a greater shock
than the words of that negro gave me. All through
the dreaming days of my young girlhood one lovely
moment had stood out like a golden beam in my im
agination my first proposal. Perhaps all girls do
not think of this; but / did, I who lived upon my
fancies. How many gods and heroes had I not cre
ated who had whispered to me that magical question?
And now out of that shining, beautiful throng of im
aginary suitors, what was this that had come? A
great black man, the " bogy man " of my childhood
Had I been older, perhaps I might have managed
that situation in some way. I might even have spoken
gently to him ; he believed he was honoring me. But
youth revolts like some whipped thing before stings
like this, and I I was so hurt, so terribly wounded,
that I remember I gasped out a single sob of rage.
Covering my face with my hands, I stood up. Then
something happened that for a moment robbed me of
all my physical and mental powers.
Suddenly I felt myself seized in a pair of powerful
arms. A face came against my own, and lips were
pressed hard upon mine.
I screamed like one gone mad. I fought for my
freedom from his arms like a possessed person. Then
blindly, with blood and fire before my eyes and burn
ing in my heart, I fled from that terrible chamber. I
think I banged both my head and hands against the
door, for later I found that my forehead and hands
were swollen and bruised. Out into the street I rushed.
I heard Verley Marchmont call to me. I saw him
like a blur rise up in my path, but behind him I fancied
was that other that great animal who had kissed me.
On and on I ran, my first impulse being to escape
from something dreadful that was pursuing me. I
remember I had both my hands over my mouth. I
felt that it was unclean, and that rivers and rivers
could not wash away that stain that was on me.
I think it was Marchmont s jerking hold upon my
arm that brought me to a sense of partial awakening.
" Miss Ascough, what is the matter? What is the
matter? " he was saying.
I looked up at him, and I started to speak, to tell
him what had happened to me, and then suddenly I
knew it was something I could tell no one. It loomed
up in my child s imagination as something filthy.
" I can t tell you," I said.
" Did something frighten you? What is it, dear? "
I remember, in all my pain and excitement, that he
called me " dear," that fair-haired young Englishman ;
and like a child unexpectedly comforted, it brought the
sobs stranglingly to my throat.
" Come and get into the carriage, then," he said.
" You are ill. Your hands and face are burning.
I m afraid you have fever. You d better get home as
quickly as possible."
The driver of our carriage, who had followed, drew
up beside us; but even as I turned to step into the
carriage, suddenly I remembered what Miss Foster had
said that first day :
This carriage is owned by Mr. Burbank. He sup
plies all the carriages for the press."
" I can t ride in that! " I cried.
" You Ve got to," said Marchmont. " It s the last
one left except Mr. Burbank s own."
" I m going to walk home," I said.
I was slowly recovering a certain degree of self-
possession. Nevertheless, my temples were throbbing ;
my head ached splittingly. I was not crying, but gasp
ing sobs kept seizing me, such as attack children after
a tempestuous storm of tears.
" You can t possibly walk home," declared March-
mont. "It is at least four and a half miles, if not
" I am going to walk just the same," I said. " I
would rather die than ride in that carriage."
He said something to the driver. The latter started
up his horses, and drove slowly down the road. Then
Marchmont took my arm, and we started.
That interminable walk in the fearful Jamaica heat
and sun recurs sometimes to me still, like a hectic
breath of hateful remembrance. The penetrating sun
beat its hot breath down upon our backs. The sand
beneath our feet seemed like living coals, and even
when we got into the cooler paths of the wooded
country, the closeness and oppressive heaviness of the
atmosphere stifled and crushed me.
At intervals the driver of that Burbank carriage
would draw up beside us on the road, and Marchmont
would entreat me to get in ; but always I refused, and a
strength came to me with each refusal.
Once he said :
"If you would let me, I could carry you."
I looked up at his anxious young face. His clothes
were thicker than mine, and he had a number of books
under his arm. He must have been suffering from the
heat even as I was, but he was ready to sacrifice him
self for what he must have thought was a sick whim
on my part. He was nothing but a boy, very little
older than I ; but he was of that plugging English type
which sticks at a task until it is accomplished. The
thought of his carrying me made me laugh hysterically,
and he, thinking I was feeling better, again urged me
to get into the carriage, but in vain.
We met many country people on the road, and he
bought from one a huge native umbrella. This he
hoisted over my head ; I think it did relieve us some
what. But the whole of me, even to my fingers, now
seemed to be tingling and aching. There was a buz
zing and ringing in my head. I was thirsty. We
stopped at a wayside spring, and an old woman lent
me her tin cup for a drink. Marchmont gave her a
coin, and she said in a high, whining voice :
" Give me another tuppence, Marster, and I 11 tell
missee a secret."
He gave her the coin, and then she said :
" Missee got the fever. She better stand off n dat
" For God s sake ! " he said to me, " let me put you
in the carriage ! "
You would not want to, if you knew," I said, and
my voice sounded in my own ears as if it came from
On and on we tramped. Never were there five such
miles as those.
Many a time since I have walked far greater dis
tances. I have covered five and six miles of links,
carrying my own golf-clubs. I ve climbed up and
down hills and valleys, five, ten, and more miles, and
arrived at my destination merely healthily tired and
But five miles under a West Indian sun, in a land
where even the worms and insects seemed to wither
and dry in the sand !
It was about four-forty when we left Government
House; it was seven when we reached the hotel. I
was staggering as we at last passed under the great
arcade of the Myrtle Bank. Though my eyes were
endowed with sight, I saw nothing but a blurred con
fusion of shadows and shapes.
Mr. Marchmont and another man I think the
manager of the hotel took me to my room, and some
one I suppose the maid put me to bed. I
dropped into a heavy sleep, or, rather, stupor, almost
The following day a maid told me that every one
in the hotel was talking about me and the sick condi
tion in which I had returned to the hotel, walking!
Every one believed I was down with some bad fever
and had lost my mind, and there was talk of quaran
tining me somewhere until my case was properly
diagnosed. I sent a boy for Mr. Campbell.
He came over at once. Grumbling and muttering
something under his breath, he stumped into my room,
and when he saw I was not sick in bed, as report had
made me, he seemed to become angry rather than
pleased. He cleared his throat, ran his hand through
his hair till it stood up straight on his head, and glared
at me savagely.
"What s the matter with you?" he demanded.
"Why did you not report at the office last evening?
Are you sick or is this some prank? What s this I ve
been hearing about you and that young cub of The
" I don t know what you Ve been hearing," I said,
" but I want to tell you that I m not going to stay here
any longer. I m going home."
" What do you mean by that ? " he shouted at me.
" You asked me what happened to me ? " I said ex
citedly. " I 11 tell you."
And I did. When I was through, and sat sob-
bingly picking and twisting my handkerchief in my
hands, he said explosively :
" Why in the name of common sense did you remain
behind in that place?"
" I told you I wanted to go over my notes. I had
not been able to report intelligently the proceedings, as
I felt ill."
" Don t you know better than to stay alone in any
building where there are likely to be black men ? "
No, I did not know better than that.
And now began a heated quarrel and duel between
us. I wanted to leave Jamaica at once, and this old
Scotchman desired to keep me there. I had become a
valuable asset to The Lantern. But I was determined
to go. After Mr. Campbell left I sought out Dr. Man
ning. He had offered to help me if I went to Amer
ica. To America, then, I would go.
Dr. Manning watched my face narrowly as I talked
to him. I told him of the experience I had had, and
" Now, you see, I warned you that this was no place
for a girl like you."
" I know it is n t," I said eagerly, " and so I m go
ing to leave. I want to take the first boat that sails
from Jamaica. One leaves for Boston next Friday,
and I can get passage on that. I want to know
whether you meant what you said the other night about
giving me a position after I get there."
" I certainly did," he replied. " I live in Richmond,
and when you get to Boston, telegraph me, and I will
arrange for you to come right on. I myself am leav
ing to-night. Have you enough money ? "
I said I had, though I had only my fare and a little
" Well," he said, " if you need more when you reach
Boston, telegraph me, and I 11 see that you get it at
" This relieves me of much anxiety," I said. " And
I m sure I don t know how to thank you."
He stood up, took my hand, and said:
" Perhaps you won t thank me when you see what a
hard-worked little secretary you are to be."
Then he smiled again in a very fatherly way, patted
my hand, and wished me good-by.
I now felt extremely happy and excited. Assured
of a position in America, I felt stronger and more re
solved. I put on my hat and went over to The Lantern
office. After another quarrel with Mr. Campbell, I
emerged triumphant. He released me from my con
That evening Verley Marchmont called upon me,
and of course I had to tell him I was leaving Jamaica,
a piece of information that greatly disheartened him.
,We were on one of the large verandas of the hotel.
The great Caribbean Sea was below us, and above, in
that marvelous, tropical sky, a sublime moon looked
down upon us.
" Nora," said Verley, " I think I know what hap
pened to you yesterday in Government House, and if
I were sure that I was right, I d go straight out and
half kill that black hound."
I said nothing, but I felt the tears running down my
face, so sweet was it to feel that this fine young Eng
lishman cared. He came over and knelt down beside
my chair, like a boy, and he took one of my hands in
his. All the time he talked to me he never let go my
" Did that nigger insult you ? " he asked.
" He asked me to marry him."
A lump came up stranglingly in my throat.
" He kissed me ! " The words came with
"Damn him!" cried young Verley Marchmont,
clenching his hands.
There was a long silence between us after that.
He had been kneeling all this time by my chair, and at
last he said :
" I don t blame you for leaving this accursed hole,
and I wish I were going with you. I wish I were not
so desperately poor. Hang it all ! " he added, with a
poor little laugh. " I don t get much more than you
" I don t care anything about money," I said. " I
like people for themselves."
" Do you like me, Nora ? " He had never called me
Nora till this night.
I nodded, and he kissed my hand.
" Well, some day then I 11 go to America, too, and
I 11 find you, wherever you may be."
I said chokingly, for although I was not in love with
this boy, still I liked him tremendously, and I was
" I don t believe we 11 ever meet again. We re just
Little ships passing in the night.
Marchmont was the only person to see me off. He
called for me at the hotel, arranged all the details of
the moving of my baggage, and then got a hack and
took me to the boat. He had a large basket with him,
which I noticed he carried very carefully. When we
went to my state-room, he set it down on a chair, and
said with his bright, boyish laugh :
" Here s a companion for you. Every time you
hear him, I want you to think of me."
I heard him almost immediately; a high, question
ing bark came out that package of mystery. I was
delighted. A dear little dog fox terrier, the whit
est, prettiest dog I had ever seen. Never before in
my life had I had a pet of any kind ; never have I had
once since. I lifted up this darling soft little dog
he was nothing but a puppy and as I caressed him,
he joyfully licked my face and hands. Marchmont said
he was a fine little thoroughbred of a certain West In
dian breed. His name, he said, was to be " Verley,"
after my poor big " dog " that I was leaving behind.
" Are you pleased with him? " he asked.
" I m crazy about him," I replied.
" Don t you think I deserve some reward, then ? "
he demanded softly.
I said :
"What do you want?"
This," he said, and, stooping, kissed me.
I like to think always that that was my first real kiss.
THE trip home was uneventful, and, on account
of Verley, spent for the most part in my state
room. The minute I left the room he would start
to whine and bark so piercingly and piteously that of
course I got into trouble, and was obliged either to
take him with me or stay with him.
I used to eat my meals with Verley cuddled in my
lap, thrusting up his funny, inquiring little nose, and
eating the morsels I surreptitiously gave him from
my plate, much to the disgust of some of the pas
sengers and the amusement of others.
Once they tried to take Verley from me, some of
the ship s people, but I went to the captain, a friend
of Captain Hollowell, about whom I talked, and I
pleaded so fervently and made such promises that when
I reached the tearful stage he relented, and let me keep
my little dog.
I had an address of a Boston lodging-house, given
me by a woman guest of the Myrtle Bank. A cab
took me to this place, and I was fortunate in securing a
little hall room for three dollars a week. There was a
dining-room in the basement of a house next door
where for three dollars and fifty cents I could get meal-
tickets enough for a week. My landlady made no ob
jection to Verley, but she warned me that if the other
lodgers objected, or if Verley made any noise, I d
have to get rid of him. She gave me a large wooden
box with straw in it. This was to be his bed. I
did n t dare tell her that Verley slept with me. He
used to press up as closely to my back as it was pos
sible to get, and with his fore paws and his nose rest
ing against my neck, he slept finely. So did I. I kept
him as clean as fresh snow. I had tar soap, and I
scrubbed him every day in warm water, and I also
combed his little white coat. If I found one flea on
him, I killed it.
The first day I went into the dining-room next door
with little Verley at my heels, every one turned round
and looked at him, he was such a pretty, tiny little
fellow, and so friendly and clean. The men whistled
and snapped their fingers at him. He ran about from
table to table, making friends with every one, and be
ing fed by every one.
I was given a seat at a table where there was just
one other girl. Now here occurred one of the co
incidences in my life that seem almost stranger than
fiction. The girl at the table was reading a newspaper
when I sat down, and I did not like to look at her at
once; but presently I became aware that she had low
ered her paper, and then I glanced up. An exclama
tion escaped us simultaneously, and we jumped to our
" Nora ! " she screamed.
"Marion!" I cried.
She was one of my older sisters !
As soon as we recognized each other, we burst out
hysterically laughing and crying. Excited words of
explanation came tumbling from our lips.
" What are you doing here ? "
"What are you?"
" Why are n t you in Jamaica ? "
"^Why are n t you in Quebec? "
I soon explained to Marion how I came to be in Bos
ton, and then, crying and eating at the same time,
she told me of her adventures. They were less ex
citing, but more romantic, than mine. She had left
Quebec on account of an unhappy love-affair. She
had quarreled with the young man to whom she was
engaged, and " to teach him a les.son, and because,
anyway, I hate him," she had run away. She had been
in Boston only one day longer than I. She said she
had been looking for work for two days, but only one
kind had been offered her thus far. I asked her what
that was. Her eyes filled with tears, and she said bit
terly, that of an artist s model.
Marion could paint well, and papa had taught her
considerably. It was her ambition, of course, to be
an artist. In Quebec she had actually had pupils, and
made a fair living teaching children to draw and paint
on china. But here in Boston she stood little chance
of getting work like that. Nevertheless, she had gone
the rounds of the studios, hoping to find something to
do as assistant and pupil. Nearly every artist she
had approached, however, had offered to engage her
as a model.
Marion was an unusually pretty girl of about
twenty-two, with an almost perfect figure, large,
luminous eyes, which, though fringed with black lashes,
were a golden-yellow in color; hair, black, long, and
glossy; small and charmingly shaped hands and feet;
and a perfectly radiant complexion. In fact, she had
all the qualities desirable in a model. I did not wonder
that the artists of Boston wanted to paint her. I
urged her to do the work, but poor Marion felt as if
her best dreams were about to be shattered. She, who
had cherished the hope of being an artist, shrank from
the thought of being merely a model. However, she
had scarcely any money. She said she would not mind
posing in costume; but only one of the artists had
asked her to do that, a man who wanted to use her in
" Oriental studies."
In her peregrinations among the studios she had
come across other girls who were making a profession
of posing, and one of them had taken her to a large
art school, so that she could see exactly what the work
was. This girl, Marion said, simply stripped herself
" stark naked," and then went on before a large room
ful of men and women. Marion was horrified and
ashamed, but her friend, a French girl, had laughed
" Que voulez-vous? It ees nutting."
She told Marion that she had felt just as she did at
first; that all models experienced shame and embar
rassment the first time. The plunge was a hard thing;
and to brace the girl up for the ordeal, the model was
accustomed to take a drink of whisky before going on.
After that it was easy. Marion was advised to do
"Just tek wan good dreenk," said the French girl;
" then you get liddle stupid. After zat it doan mat
Marion remarked hysterically that whisky might not
make her stupid. She might be disposed to be hilari
ous, and in that event what would the scandalized class
However, Marion was hopeful, and she expected to
get the costume work with the artist mentioned before.
As for me, just as I advised Marion to take this
easy work that was offered her, so she most strenuously
advised me not to waste my time looking for work in
Boston, but to go on to Richmond, where a real posi
tion awaited me.
It is curious how natural it is for poor girls to slip
along the path of least resistance. We wanted to help
each other, and yet each advised the other to do some
thing that upon more mature thought might have been
inadvisable; for both courses held pitfalls of which
neither of us was aware. However, we seized what
was nearest to our hand.
Marion got the work to pose in Oriental studies
next day, and I, who had telegraphed Dr. Manning, re
ceived by telegraph order money for my fare. I at
once set out for Richmond, and I did not see my sister
again for nearly five years. I left her crying at the
THEY would not let me keep my little dog with
me on the train, although I had smuggled him
into my Pullman in a piece of hand baggage; but in
the morning he betrayed us. Naughty, excitable,
lonely little Verley! The conductor s heart, unlike
that sea-captain s, was made of stone. Verley was
banished to the baggage-car. However, I went with
him, and I spent all of that day with my dog among
the baggage, not even leaving him to get something to
eat; for I had brought sandwiches.
There were a number of other dogs there oesides
Verley, and they kept up an incessant barking. One
of the trainmen got me a box to sit on, and I took my
little pet on my lap. The trainmen were very kind to
me. They told me they d feed Verley well and see
that he got plenty of water; but I would not leave him.
I said I thought it was shameful of that conductor to
make me keep my little dog there. The men assured
me it was one of the rules of the road, and that they
could make no exception in my case. They pointed
out several other dogs, remarkable and savage-look
ing hounds, which belonged to a multi-millionaire, so
they said, and I could see for myself that even he was
obliged to have them travel this way.
While the men were reassuring me, a very tall man
came into the car and went over to these hounds.
They were making the most deafening noises. They
were tied, of course, but kept leaping out on their
chains, and I was afraid they would break loose, and
perhaps attack and rend my little Verley.
The tall man gave some instructions to a man who
seemed to be in charge of the hounds, and after patting
the dogs heads and scratching their ears, he started
to leave the car, when he chanced to see me, and
stopped to look at Verley.
Before I even saw his face there was something
about his personality that affected me strangely, for
though I had been talking freely with the men in the
baggage-car, I suddenly felt unconscionably shy. He
had a curious, drawling voice that I have since learned
to know as Southern. He said:
" Is that your little dog? "
1 nodded, and looked up at him.
I saw a man of between thirty-five and forty. (I
have since learned he was forty-one.) His face was
clean-shaven, and while not exactly wrinkled, was
lined on the forehead and about the mouth. It was
lean and rather haggard-looking. His lips were thin,
and his steel-gray eyes were, I think, the weariest and
bitterest eyes I have ever seen, though when he smiled
I felt strangely drawn to him, even that first time.
He was dressed in a light gray suit, and it looked well
on him, as his hair at the temples was of the same
color. As my glance met his curious smile, I remem
ber that, embarrassed and blushing, I dropped my eyes
to his hands, and found that they impressed me almost
as much as his face. It is strange how one may be
so moved by another at the first meeting! At once
I had a feeling, a sort of subtle premonition, you might
call it, that this man was to loom large in my life for
all the rest of my days.
Stooping down, he patted Verley as he lay on my
lap, but as he did so, he kept looking at me with a
half-teasing, half-searching glance. I felt flustered,
embarrassed, ashamed, and angry with myself for feel
ing so much confusion.
" What s your dog s name? " he asked.
He was opening and shutting his hand over Ver-
ley s mouth. The dog was licking his hand as if he
" Verley," I replied.
" Verley ! That s a pretty name. Who s he
" The young Englishman who gave him to me," I
He laughed as if I had confided something to him.
I said ingenuously:
" He s a real thoroughbred," and that caused him
to smile again.
He had turned Verley over on my lap, and was
dancing his fingers over the dog s gaping mouth, but
he still kept looking at me, with, I thought, a half-
interested, half-amused expression.
" He s a fine little fellow," he said. " Where is
he going? "
That seemed greatly to surprise him, and he asked
why I was going to that city, and if I knew any one
there. I said that I knew Dr. Manning; that I had
met him in the West Indies, and he had promised me
a position as his secretary.
By this time he had let Verley alone, and was star
ing at me hard. After a moment he said :
"Do you know Dr. Manning well?"
" No ; but he has been kind enough to offer me the
position," I replied. He seemed to turn this over in
his mind, and then he said:
" Put your little dog back in his box, and suppose
you come along and have dinner with me."
I did not even think of refusing. Heedless of the
frantic cries of my poor little dog, I followed this
stranger into the dining-car.
I don t know what we ate. I do know it was the
first time I had ever had clams. I did not like them
at all, and asked him what they were. He seemed
highly amused. He had a way of smiling reluctantly.
It was just as if one stirred or interested him against
his will, and a moment after his face would somehow
resume its curiously tired expression. Also I had
something to drink, I don t know what, and it
came before dinner in a very little glass. Needless
to say, it affected me almost immediately, though I only
took two mouth fuls, and then made such a face that
again he laughed, and told me I d better let it alone.
It may have been because I was lonely and eager
for some one I could talk to, but I think it was simply
that I fell under the impelling fascination of this man
from the first. Anyhow, I found myself telling him
all of my poor little history: where I had come from;
the penniless condition in which I had arrived in Ja
maica ; my work there ; the people I had met ; and then,
yes, I told him that very first day I met him, of that
horrible experience I had had in the Government
While I talked to him, he kept studying me in a
musing sort of way, and his face, which perhaps might
have been called a hard or cold one, softened rather
beautifully, I thought, as he looked at me. He did
not say a word as I talked, but when I came to my
experience with Burbank, he leaned across the table
and watched me, almost excitedly. When I was
through, he said softly:
" Down South we lynch a nigger for less than that,"
and one of his long hands, lying on the table, clenched.
Although we were now through dinner, and I had
finished my story, he made no move to leave the table,
but sat there watching me and smoking, with neither
of us saying anything. Finally I thought to my
" I suppose he is thinking of me as Mr. Campbell
and Sir Henry Drake and other people have as
something queer and amusing, and perhaps he is laugh
ing inside at me." I regretted that I had told him
about myself one minute, and the next I was glad that
I had. Then suddenly I had an eloquent desire to
prove to him that really there was a great deal more
to me than he supposed. Down in my heart there
was the deep-rooted conviction, which nothing in the
world could shake, that I was one of the exceptional
human beings of the world, that I was destined to do
things worth while. People were going to hear of me
some day. I was not one of the commonplace crea
tures of the earth, and I intended to prove that vividly
to the world. But at that particular moment my one
desire was to prove it to this man, this stranger with
the brooding, weary face. So at last, awkwardly and
timidly, and blushing to my temples and ears, and
daring scarcely to look at him, I said :
" If you like, I 11 read you one of my poems."
The gravity of his face softened. He started to
smile, and then he said very gravely :
" So you write poetry, do you ? "
" Go ahead," he said.
I dipped into my pocket-book, and brought forth my
last effusion. As I read, he brought his hand to his
face, shading it in such a way that I could not see it,
and when I had finished, he was silent for so long that
I did not know whether I had made an impression
upon him or whether he was amused, as most people
were when I read my poems to them. I tremblingly
folded my paper and replaced it in my bag; then I
waited for him to speak. After a while he took his
hand down. His face was still grave, but away back
in his eyes there was the kindliest gleam of interest.
I felt happy and warmed by that look. Then he said
something that sent my heart thudding down low
" Would n t you like to go to school ? " said he.
" I did go to school," I said.
" Well, I mean to er school to prepare you for
The question hurt me. It was a visible criticism of
my precious poem. Had that, then, revealed my pa
thetic condition of ignorance? I said roughly, for I
felt like crying:
" Of course college is out of the question for me.
I have to earn my living; but I expect to acquire an
education gradually. One can educate herself by
reading and thinking. My father often said that, and
he s a college man an Oxford graduate."
" That s true," said the man rather hurriedly, and
as if he regretted what he had just said, and wished
to dismiss the subject abruptly: " Now I m going to
take you back to your seat. We 11 be in Richmond
very shortly now."
We got up, but he stopped a minute, and took a card
from his pocket. He wrote something on it, and then
gave it to me.
" There, little girl, is my name and address," he
said. "If there ever comes a time when you er
need help of any kind, will you promise to come to
I nodded, and then he gave me a big, warm smile.
When I was quite alone, and sure no one was watch
ing me, I took out his card and examined it. " Roger
Avery Hamilton " was his name. Judge of my sur
prise, when I found the address he had written under
his name was in the very city to which I was going
I arrived about eight-thirty that evening. Dr. Man
ning was at the train to meet me. He greeted me
rather formally, I thought, for a man who had been
so pronounced in his attentions in Jamaica.
As he was helping me into his carriage, Mr. Hamil
ton passed us, with other men.
You forgot your dog," he said to me, smiling, and
handed me a basket, in which, apparently, he had put
my Verley. I had indeed forgotten my poor little
dog! I thanked Mr. Hamilton, and he lifted his hat,
and bade us good night.
Dr. Manning turned around sharply and looked
after him. They had exchanged nods.
"How did you get acquainted with that chap?"
he asked me. I was now in the carriage, and was set
tling Verley in his basket at my feet.
" Why, he spoke to me on the train," I said.
" Spoke to you on the train ! " repeated the doctor,
sharply. " Are you accustomed to make acquaint
ances in that way ? "
My face burned with mortification, but I managed
" No, I never spoke to any one before without an
He had climbed in now and was about to take up
the reins when Verley, at our feet, let out a long,
" I 11 have to throw that beast out, you know," he
" Oh, no ! Please, please don t throw my little dog
out ! " I begged as he stooped down. " It s a beauti
ful little dog, a real thoroughbred. It s worth a lot
My distress apparently moved him, for he sat up
and patted me on the arm and said :
" It s all right, then. It s all right."
The doctor again began to question me about Mr.
Hamilton, and I explained how he became interested
in my dog ; but I did not tell him about my dining with
" You ought to be more careful to whom you speak,"
he said. " For instance, this man in particular hap-
pens to be one of the fastest men in Richmond. He
has a notorious reputation."
I felt very miserable when I heard that, especially
when I recalled how I had talked intimately about
myself to this man; and then suddenly I found my
self disbelieving the doctor. I felt sure that he had
slandered Mr. Hamilton, and my dislike for him
deepened. I wished that I had not come to Rich
Dr. Manning s house was large and imposing. It
stood at a corner on a very fine street. A black girl
opened the door.
" You will meet Mrs. Manning in the morning,"
said the doctor to me, and then, turning to the girl :
" Mandy, this is Miss Ascough. She is coming to
live with us here. Take her up to her room." To
me he said, " Good night." With a perfunctory bow,
he was turning away, when he seemed to recall some
thing, and said : " By the way, Mandy, tell Toby to
put the dog he 11 find in the buggy in the stable."
I started to plead for Verley, but the doctor had
disappeared into his office. A lump rose in my throat
as I thought of my little dog, and again I wished that
I had not come to this place. The doctor seemed a
different man to the one I had known in the West
Indies, and although I had resented his flattery of me
there, the curt, authoritative tone he had used to me
here hurt me as much.
Curiously enough, though I had not thought about
the matter previously, nor had he told me, I was not
surprised to find that he was married.
My room was on the top floor. It was a very large
and pretty chamber, quite the best room I had ever
had, for even the hotel room, which had seemed to me
splendid, was bare and plain in comparison.
Mandy was a round-faced, smiling, strong-looking
girl of about eighteen. Her hair was screwed up into
funny little braids that stuck up for all the world like
rat-tails on her head. She had shiny black eyes, and
big white teeth. She called me " chile," and said :
" I hopes you sleep well, honey chile."
She said her room was just across the hall, and if
I wanted anything in the night, I was to call her.
My own room was very large, and it was mostly in
shadow. Now, all my life I ve had the most un
reasonable and childish fear of " being in the dark
alone." I seldom went to bed without looking under
it, behind bureaus, doors, etc., and I experienced a
slight sense of fear as Mandy was about to depart.
" Is n t there any one on this floor but us ? " I asked.
" No ; no one else sleeps up here, chile," said
Mandy ; " but Dr. Manning he hab he labriterry there,
and some time he work all night."
The laboratory was apparently adjoining my room,
and there was a door leading into it. I went over and
tried it after Mandy went. It was locked.
I took my hair down, brushed and plaited it, and
then I undressed and said my prayers (I still said
them in those days), and got into bed. I was tired
after the long journey, and I fell asleep at once.
I am a light sleeper, and the slightest stir or move
ment awakens me. That night I awoke suddenly, and
the first thing I saw was a light that came into the
room from the partly opened door of the doctor s
laboratory, and standing in my room, by the doorway,
was a man. I recognized him, though he was only
a silhouette against the light.
The shock of the awakening, and the horrible re
alization that he was already crossing the room, held
me for a moment spellbound. Then my powers re
turned to me, and just as I had fled from that negro
in Jamaica, so now I ran from this white man.
My bed was close to the door that opened into the
hall. That was pitch-dark, but I ran blindly across it,
found Mandy s door, and by some merciful provi
dence my hand grasped the knob. I called to her :
She started up in bed, and I rushed to her.
" Wha s matter, chile ? " she cried.
I was sobbing with fright and rage.
" I m afraid," I told her.
"What you fraid of?"
" Oh, I don t know. I m afraid to sleep alone," I
said. " Please, please, let me stay with you."
" Ah 11 come and sleep on the couch in your room,"
" No, no, I won t go back to that room."
" It ain t ha nted, chile," declared Mandy.
" Oh, I know it is n t," I sobbed ; " but, O Mandy,
I m afraid!"
NEXT morning Mandy went back with me to my
room. There was no one in it. For a mo
ment the thought came to me that perhaps I had suf
fered from a nightmare. My clothes, everything, I
found exactly as I had left them. I went over to the
door opening from my room into the laboratory, and
then I knew that I had not erred: the door was un
locked. I saw Mandy watching me, and I think she
guessed the truth, for she said:
" You need n t be fraid no more, chile. I goin to
sleep with you every night now."
" No, Mandy," I said ; " I can t stay here now.
I ve got to get away somehow."
" Dat s all right, chile," she said. " Jus you tek
you HT bag and slip out right now. No one s stirring
in dis house yet. You won t be missed till after you
sure am gone."
I was sitting on the side of the bed, feverishly turn
ing the matter over in my mind.
" I wish I could do that," I said, " but I have no
place to go, and I have no money."
Mandy comforted me as best she could, and told
me to wait till after breakfast, when I d feel better;
then I could talk to the doctor about it, and perhaps
he d give me some money; and if he wouldn t, said
the colored girl, shrewdly, "you tell him you goin
ask his wife."
I felt I could not do that. I would have to find
some other solution. One thing was certain, how
ever, I could no more stay here than I could in Ja
maica. There are times in my life when I have been
whipped and scorched, and nothing has healed me save
to get away quickly from the place where I have suf
fered. I felt like that in Jamaica. I felt like that
now. There came another time in my life when I
uprooted my whole being from a place I loved, and
yet where it would have killed me to remain.
The doctor met me in the lower hall as I came down
stairs. His manner was affable and formal, and he
said he would take me to his wife. I found myself
unable to look him in the face, for I felt his glance
would be hateful.
Mrs. Manning was in bed, propped up with pillows.
At first glance she seemed an old woman. Her pale,
parched face lay like a shadow among her pillows, and
her fine, silvery hair was like an exquisite aureole.
She had dark, restless, seeking eyes, and her expres
sion was peevish, like that of a complaining child. As
I came in, she raised herself to her elbow, and looked
curiously at me and then at the doctor, who said :
This is Miss Ascough, dear. She is to be my new
She put out a thin little hand, which I took impetu-
ously in my own, and, I know not why, I suddenly
wanted to cry again. There was something in her
glance that hurt me. I had for her that same over
whelming pity that I had felt for Miss Foster in Ja
maica a pity such as one involuntarily feels toward
one who is doomed. She murmured something, and
I said, " Thank you," though I did not understand
what she had said. Then the doctor shook up her pil
lows and settled her back very carefully among them,
and he kissed her, and she clung to him. I realized
that, incredible as it seemed, here where I had expected
it least there was love.
After breakfast, which I had with the doctor, who
read the morning paper throughout the meal, waited
on by Mandy, he took me down to his offices, two
large adjoining rooms on the ground floor, in one
wing of the house. One room was used as a recep
tion-room, the other as the doctor s own. Showing
me through the offices, he had indicated the desk at
which I was to sit in the reception-room before I sum
moned the courage to tell him I had decided to go.
When I faltered this out, he turned clear around, and
although an exclamation of astonishment escaped him,
I knew that he was acting. I felt sure that he had
been waiting for me to say something about the previ
* You certainly cannot realize what you are saying,
Miss Ascough. Why should you leave a position be
fore trying it?"
I looked steadily in his face now, and I was no
longer afraid of him. I was only an ignorant girl of
seventeen, and he was a man of the world past forty.
I was friendless, had no money, and was in a strange
country. He was a man of power, and, I suppose,
even wealth. This was the city where he was re
spected and known. Nevertheless, I said to him:
" If I work for a man, I expect to be paid for my
actual labor. That s a contract between us. After
that, I have my personal rights, and no man can step
over these without my consent."
They were pretty big words for a young girl, and
I am proud of them even now. I can see myself as
I faced that man defiantly, though I knew I had barely
enough money in my purse upstairs to buy a few
" I do not understand you," said the doctor, pulling
at his beard. " I shall be obliged if you will make
" I will, then," I said. " Last night you came into
For a long time he did not say a word, but appeared
to be considering the matter.
" I beg your pardon for that," he said at last, " but
I think my explanation will satisfy you. I did not
know that that room was the one my wife had as
signed to you. I had been accustomed to occupy it
myself when engaged at night upon laboratory work.
I was as mortified as you when I discovered my un-
fortunate mistake last night, and I very much regret
the distress it gave you."
No explanation could have been clearer than that,
but looking at the man, I felt a deep-rooted conviction
that he lied.
" Come now," he said cheerfully, " suppose we dis
miss this painful subject. Let us both forget it."
He held out his hand, with one of his " fatherly "
smiles. I reluctantly let him take mine, and I did not
know what to do or say. He took out his watch and
looked at it.
" I have a number of calls to make before my noon
hour," he said, " but I think I can spare an hour to
explain your duties to you."
They were simple enough, and in other circum
stances I should have liked such a position. I was to
receive the patients, send out bills, and answer the
correspondence, which was light. I had one other
duty, and that he asked me to do now. There was
something wrong with his eyes, and it was a strain
upon them for him to read. So part of my work was
to read to him an hour in the morning and one or two
in the evening.
There was a long couch in the inner office, and after
he had selected a book and brought it to me, he lay
down on the couch, with a green shade over his eyes,
and bade me proceed. The book was Rousseau s
In ordinary circumstances the book would have held
my interest at once, but now I read it without the
slightest sense of understanding, and the powerful sen
tences came forth from my lips, but passed through
heedless ears. I had read only two chapters when he
said that that would do for to-day. He asked me to
bring from the top of his desk a glass in which was
some fluid and an eye-dropper. He requested me to
put two drops in each of his eyes.
As he was lying on his back on the couch, I had to
lean over him to do this. I was so nervous that the
glass shook in my hand. Judge of my horror when,
in squeezing the little rubber bulb, the glass part fell
off and dropped down upon his face.
I burst out crying, and before I knew it, he was
sitting up on the couch and comforting me, with his
arms about my waist. I freed myself and stood up.
He said :
" There, there, you are a bit hysterical this morning.
You 11 feel better later."
He began moving about the office, collecting some
things, and putting them into a little black bag. Toby
knocked, and called that the buggy was ready. As
the doctor was drawing on his gloves he said :
" Now, Miss Ascough, suppose you make an effort
to er accustom yourself to things as they are here.
I m really not such a bad sort as you imagine, and I
will try to make you very comfortable and happy if
you will let me."
I did not answer him. I sat there twisting my
handkerchief in my hands, and feeling dully that I
was truly the most miserable girl in the world. As
the doctor was going out, he said :
" Do cheer up ! Things are not nearly as bad as
Maybe they were not, but, nevertheless, the stub
born obsession persisted in my mind that I must some
how get away from that place. How I was going to
do that without money or friends, I did not know.
And if I did leave this place, where could I go?
I thought of writing home, and then, even in my
distress, I thought of papa, absent-minded, impractical
dreamer. Could I make him understand the situa
tion I was in without telling him my actual experi
ence? I felt a reluctance to tell my father or mother
that. It s a fact that a young girl will often talk
with strangers about things that she will hesitate to
confide to her own parents. My parents were of the
sort difficult to approach in such a matter. You see,
I was one of many, and my father and mother were in
a way even more helpless than their children. It was
almost pathetic the way in which they looked to us,
as we grew up, to take care of ourselves and them.
Besides, it would take two days for a letter to reach
my home, and another two days for the reply to reach
me, and where could my poor father raise the money
for my fare ? No, I would not add to their distresses.
I went up to my room, after the doctor was gone,
and I aimlessly counted my money. I had less than
three dollars. I was putting it back into my bag, with
the papers, trinkets, cards, and the other queer things
that congregate in a girl s pocketbook, when Mr. Ham
ilton s card turned up on my lap.
I began to think of him. I sat there on the side of
my bed in a sort of dreaming trance, recalling to my
mind that charmed little journey in the company of
this man. Every word he had said to me, the musing
expression of his face, and his curious, grudging smile
I thought of all this. It was queer how in the
midst of my trouble I could occupy my mind like this
with thoughts of a stranger. I remembered that Dr.
Manning had said he was a notorious man. I did
not believe that. I thought of that kindly look of in
terest in his tired face when he had asked me if I
wanted to go to school, and then electrically recurred
to me his last words on the train when he had given
to me his card, that if I ever needed help, would I
come to him?
I needed help now. I needed it more than any girl
ever needed it before. Of that I felt truly convinced.
This doctor was a villain. There was something bad
and covetous about his very glance. I had felt that
in Jamaica. It was impossible for me to remain alone
with him in his house; for I should be virtually alone,
since his wife was a paralytic.
Hurriedly I packed my things, shoving everything
back into my suitcase, and then I put on my hat. In
the doctor s office I found the telephone-book. I
looked up the name of Hamilton. Yes, it was there.
It seemed to me a miraculous thing that he really was
there in that telephone-book and that he actually was
in this city.
I called the number, and somebody, answering,
asked whom I wished to speak to, and I said Mr.
Roger Avery Hamilton.
"Who is it wants him?" I was asked.
" Just a friend," I replied.
" You will have to give your name. Mr. Hamilton
is in a conference, and if it is not important, he cannot
speak to you just now."
" It is important," I said. " He would want to
speak to me, I know."
There was a long pause, and central asked me if I
was through, and I said frantically:
"No, no; don t ring off."
Then a moment later I heard his voice, and even
over the telephone it thrilled me so that I could have
wept with relief and joy.
" Mr. Hamilton, this is Miss Ascough."
" Miss Ascough?"
;< Yes ; I met you on the train coming from Bos
" Oh, yes, the little girl with the dog," he said.
His voice, more than his words, warmed me with
the thought that he had not forgotten me, and was
even pleased to hear from me again.
" You said if I ever needed help "
I broke off there, and he said slowly:
"I see. Where are you? "
I told him.
" Can you leave there right away ? "
I said I could, but that I did not know my way
about the city.
He asked me to meet him in half an hour at the St.
R Hotel, and directed me explicitly what car to
take to get there, telling me to write it down. I was
to have Mandy put me on this car, and I must be sure
to tell the conductor to let me off at this hotel. The
car stopped in front of it.
I wrote a note to Dr. Manning before going. I
said I was sorry to leave in this way, but despite what
he had said, I could not trust him. I added that I
was so unhappy I had decided the best thing for me
to do was to go at once. I left the note with Mandy,
whom I kissed good-by, something I had never
dreamed I could do, kiss a black girl! All the way
on the car I was desperately afraid the conductor
would not let me off at the right place, and I asked
him so often that finally, in exasperation, he refused
to answer me. When we at last reached there, he
wrathfully shouted the name of the hotel into the car,
though he did not need to cry, " Step lively ! "
MR. HAMILTON was waiting for me outside
the hotel. He gave my bag to a boy, who pro
duced it later, and then took me to a corner of the
drawing-room. Almost at once he said :
" I expected to hear from you, but not so soon."
" You were expecting? " I said. " Why? "
" Well," he said rather reluctantly, " I had a hunch
you would not stay there long. Just what happened ? "
I told him.
He kept tapping with his fingers on the table beside
him and looking at me curiously. When I was
through, he said :
"Well, we re a pretty bad lot, aren t we?"
I said earnestly :
" You re not ! " which remark made him laugh in
a rather mirthless sort of way, and he said :
" You don t know me, my child." Then, as if to
change the subject : " But now, what do you want to
do ? Where do you want to go ? "
" I d like to go to some big city in America," I
said. " I think, if I got a chance, I d succeed as a
poet or author."
" Oh, that s your idea, is it? " he asked half good-
humoredly, half rather cynically. I nodded.
" Well, what big city have you decided upon ? "
" I don t know. You see, I know very little about
" How about New York or Chicago ? "
" Which is the nearest to you ? " I asked, timidly.
He laughed outright at that.
" Oh, so you expect to see me, do you? "
" I want to," I said. " You will come to see me,
won t you ? "
" We 11 see about it," he said slowly. " Then it s
Chicago? I have interests there." I nodded.
" And now," he went on, " how much money do
you need ? "
That question hurt me more than I suppose he
would have believed. Certainly I would need money
to go to Chicago, but I hated to think of taking any
from him. I felt like a beggar. Young, poor, ig
norant as I was, even then I had an acute feeling of
reluctance to permit any sordid considerations to come
between this man and me. I was so long in answering
him that he said lightly:
"Well, how many thousands or millions of shekels
do you suppose it will take to support a little poetess in
Chicago ? "
" You don t have to support poetesses if they are
the right sort. All I want is enough money to carry
me to Chicago. I 11 get work of some kind then."
"Well, let s see," he said. "I ll get you your
ticket, and then you d better have, say, a hundred dol
lars to start with."
" No! no! " I cried out. " I couldn t use a whole
" I never had that much money in my life," I said.
" I should n t know what to do with it."
He laughed shortly.
" You 11 know all right," he said, " soon after you
get to Chicago." Then he added almost bitterly,
" You 11 be writing to me for more within a week."
"Oh, Mr. Hamilton, I won t do that! I ll never
take any more from you honestly I won t."
" Nonsense ! " he returned lightly. " And now
come along. You have time for a bite of luncheon
before your train leaves."
He ordered very carefully a meal for us, and took
some time to decide whether I should have something
to drink or not. He kept tapping the pencil on the
waiter s pad and looking at me speculatively, and at
last he said :
" No, I guess not this time."
So I got nothing to drink.
It was a fine luncheon, and for the first time I had
soft-shell crabs; also for the first time I tasted, and
liked, olives. Mr. Hamilton seemed to take a grim
sort of pleasure in watching me eat. I don t know
why, I m sure, unless it was because I frankly did not
know what most of the dishes were, and I was help-
lessly ignorant as to which was the right fork or knife
to use for this or that dish. I think I ate my salad
with my oyster-fork, and I am sure I used my meat-
knife for my butter. All these intricate things have
always bothered me, and they do still.
I suppose my eyes were still considerably swollen
from the crying I had done, and, besides, I had slept
very little after that awakening. Mr. Hamilton made
me tell him all over again, and in minute detail, just
what happened, and when I told him how I cried the
rest of the night in Mandy s arms, he said :
" Yes, I can see you did," which made me say
quickly, I was so anxious to look my best before him :
" I look a fright, I know."
Whereupon he slowly looked at me and said, with
a suggestion of a smile:
" You look pretty good to me," and that compen
sated for everything.
He gave me the hundred dollars while we were in
the dining-room, and advised me, with a slight smile,
to hide it in " the usual place."
I asked innocently where that was.
" No one told you that yet ? " he asked teasingly,
and when I shook my head, he laughed and said :
" What a baby you are ! Why, put it in your stock
I turned fiery red, not so much from modesty, but
from mortification at my ignorance and his being
forced to tell me. What is more, I had kept money
there before, and I remember the girl on the boat going
to Jamaica had, too; but I did not suppose men knew
girls did such things.
On the way to the station, as he sat beside me in the
carriage, I tried to thank him, and told him how much
I appreciated what he was doing for me. I said that
I supposed he had done good things like this for lots
of other unfortunate girls like me (oh, I hoped that
he had not!), and that I never could forget it.
He said lightly:
" Oh, yes, you will. They all do, you know."
From this I inferred that there were " other girls,"
and that depressed me so that I was tongue-tied for
the rest of the journey.
We found, despite the hotel s telephoning, that it
was impossible for me to get a lower berth. I am
sure I did n t care whether I had a lower or upper.
So, as he said he wanted me to have a comfortable
journey, he had taken a little drawing-room for me.
I did nt know what that meant till I got on the train.
Then I saw I was to have a little car all to myself.
The grandeur of this rather oppressed me; I do not
know why. Nevertheless, it was an added proof of
his kindness, and I stammered my thanks. He had
come on the train with me, and was sitting in the
seat opposite me, just as if he, too, were going.
The nearer it approached the time for the train to
leave, the sadder I felt. Perhaps, I thought, I should
never see him again. Perhaps he looked upon me
simply as a poor little beggar whom he had be
It may be that some of my reflections were mirrored
on my face, for he suddenly asked me what I was
thinking about, and I told him.
" Nonsense ! " he said. He had a way of dismissing
things with " Nonsense ! "
He got up and walked up and down the little aisle
a moment, pulling at his lower lip in a way he had,
and watching me all the time. I was huddled up on
the seat, not exactly crying, but almost. Presently
" Just as if it mattered whether you ever saw me
again or not. After you ve been in Chicago a while,
you 11 only think of me, perhaps, as a convenient old
chap a sort of bank to whom you can always apply
for " he paused before saying the word, and then
brought it out hard " money."
" Please don t think that of me ! " I cried.
" I don t think it of you in particular, but of every
one," he said. " Women are all alike. For that mat
ter, men, too. Money is their god money, dirty
money ! That s what men, and women, exist for.
They marry for money. They live for it. Good
God! they die for it! You can have a man s wife or
anything else, but touch his money, his dirty money
He threw out his hands expressively. He had been
talking disjointedly, and as if the subject was one that
fascinated him, and yet that he hated. " You see,"
he said, " I know what I am talking about, because
that s about all any one has ever wanted of me my
I made a little sound of protest. I was not crying,
badly as I felt, but my face was burning, and I felt
inexpressibly about that money of his that I, too, had
taken. He went on in the jerking, bitter way he had
" Just now you think that such things do not count.
That s because you are so young. You 11 change
quickly enough; I predict that. I can read your fate
in your young face. You love pretty things, and were
made to have them. Why not? Some one is going
to give them to you, just as Dr. Manning and, for
that matter, I myself would have given them to you
here in Richmond. I don t doubt in Chicago there will
be many men who will jump at the chance."
He made a queer, shrugging gesture with his shoul
ders, and then swung around, looked at me hard, and
as if almost he measured me. Then his face slightly
softened, and he said:
" Don t look so cut up. I m only judging you by
the rest of your sex."
" I m going to prove to you that I m different.
You will see."
He sat down opposite me again, and took one of my
hands in his.
" How will you prove it, child ? " he said.
" I 11 never take another cent from you," I said,
" and I 11 give you back every dollar of this hundred
you have lent me now."
" Nonsense ! " he said, and flushed, as if he regretted
what he had been saying.
" Anyway," I went on, " you re mistaken about me.
I don t care so much about those things pretty
clothes and things like that. I like lots of other things
better. You, for instance. I I like you better
than all the money in the world."
"Nonsense!" he said again.
He still had my hand in his, and he had turned it
over, and was looking at it. Presently he said :
" It s a sweet, pretty little hand, but it badly needs
to be manicured."
" What s that ? " I asked, and he laughed and set
my hands back in my lap.
" Now I must be off. Send me your address as
soon as you have one. Think of me a little, if you
Think of him! I knew that I was destined to think
of nothing else. I told him so in a whisper, so that
he had to bend down to hear me, but he merely laughed
that short unbelieving, reluctant laugh, and said
" Good-by, good-by."
I followed him as far as the door, and when he
turned his back toward me, and I thought he could not
see me, I kissed his sleeve; but he did see me, in
the long mirror on the door, I suppose, and he jerked
his arm roughly back and said brusquely :
" You must n t do things like that ! "
Then he went out, and the door shut hard between
I said to myself:
" I will die of starvation, I will sleep homeless in
the streets, I will walk a thousand miles, if need be,
in search of work, rather than take money from him
again. Some one has hurt him through his money,
and he believes we are all alike ; but I will prove to him
that I indeed am different."
A sense of appalling loneliness swept over me. If
only a single person might have been there with me in
my little car! If I had but the smallest companion!
All of a sudden I remembered my little dog. My im
mediate impulse was to get directly off the train, and
I rushed over to the door, and out upon the platform.
He was down below, looking up at the window of my
compartment; but he saw me as I came out on the
platform and started to descend. At the same moment
the train gave that first sort of shake which precedes
the starting, and I was thrown back against the door.
He called to me :
Take care ! Go back inside ! "
The train was now moving, and I was holding to the
" Oh, Mr. Hamilton," I cried, " I ve forgotten Ver-
ley ! I ve forgotten my little dog ! "
He kept walking by the train, and now, as its speed
increased, he was forced to run. He put his hand to
his mouth and called to me :
" I 11 bring him to you, little girl. Don t you
worry ! "
I went back to my seat, and all that afternoon I did
not move. The shining country slipped by me, but I
saw it not. I was like one plunged in a deep, golden
dream. There was a pain in my heart, but it was
an ecstatic one, and even as I cried softly, soundlessly,
something within me sang a song that seemed im
I SAW Chicago first through a late May rain a
mad, blowing, windy rain. The skies were over
cast and gray. There was a pall like smoke over
everything, and through the downpour, looking not
fresh and clean from the descending streams, but dingy
and sullen, as if unwillingly cleansed, the gigantic
buildings shot up forbiddingly into the sky.
Such masses of humanity! I was one of a sweep
ing torrent of many, many atoms. People hurried this
way and that way and every way. I rubbed my eyes,
for the colossal city and this rushing, crushing mob,
that pushed and elbowed, bewildered and amazed me.
I did not know what to do when I stepped off the
train and into the great station. For a time I wan
dered aimlessly about the room, jostled and pushed by
a tremendous crowd of people, who seemed to be pour
ing in from arriving trains. It must have been about
eight in the morning.
All the seats in the waiting-room were taken, and
after a while I sat down on my suitcase, and tried to
plan out just what I should do.
I had a hundred dollars, a fabulous sum, it seemed
to me. With it I presumed I could live wherever I
chose, and in comparative luxury. But that hundred
dollars was not mine, and I had a passionate determina
tion to spend no more of it than I should actually
need. I wanted to return it intact to the man who
had given it to me.
As I had lain in my berth on the train I had vowed
that he should not hear from me till I wrote to return
his money. " Dirty money," he had called it, but to
me anything that was his was beautiful. I planned
the sort of letter I should write when I inclosed this
money. By that time I should have secured a remark
able position. My stories and my poems would be
bought by discerning editors, and I ah me ! the ex
travagant dreams of the youthful writer! What is
there he is not going to accomplish in the world?
What heights he will scale ! But, then, what comfort,
what sublime compensation for all the miserable reali
ties of life, there is in being capable of such dreams!
That alone is a divine gift of the gods, it seems to me.
But now I was no longer dreaming impossible
dreams in my berth. I was sitting in that crowded
Chicago railway station, and I was confronted with
the problem of what to do and where to go.
It would of course be necessary for me to get a
room the first thing; but I did not know just where
I should look for that. I thought of going out into
the street and looking for " furnished-room " signs,
and then I thought of asking a policeman. I was de
bating the matter rather stupidly, I m afraid, for the
crowds distracted me, when a woman came up and
spoke to me.
She had a plain, kind face and wore glasses. A
large red badge, with gilt letters on it, was pinned on
" Are you waiting for some one? " she asked.
" No," I answered.
" A stranger? " was her next question.
" Just come to Chicago ? "
" Yes. I just arrived."
"Ah, you have friends or relatives here?"
I told her I did not know any one in Chicago. What
was I doing here, then, she asked me, and I replied
that I expected to work. She asked at what, and I
" As a journalist."
That brought a rather surprised smile. Then she
wanted to know if I had arranged for a room some
where, and I told her that that was just what I was
sitting there thinking about wondering where I
ought to go.
" Well, I ve just got you in time, then," she said,
with a pleasant smile. " You come along with me.
I m an officer of the Young Women s Christian As
sociation." She showed me her badge. " We 11 take
care of you there."
I went with her gladly, you may be sure. She led
me out to the street and up to a large carriage, which
had Y. W. C. A. in big letters on it. I was very for
Unlike New York s Y. W. C. A., which is in an
ugly down-town street, Chicago s is on Michigan Ave
nue, one of its finest streets, and is a splendid building.
I was taken to the secretary of the association, a
well-dressed young woman with a bleak, hard face.
She looked me over sternly, and the first thing she
said was :
"Where are your references?"
I took Mr. Campbell s letter of recommendation
from my pocket-book, and handed it to her :
It was as follows:
To Whom it may Concern:
The bearer of this, Miss Nora Ascough, has been on the
staff of The Lantern for some time now, but unfortunately
the tropical climate of Jamaica is not suited to her constitu
tion. In the circumstances she has to leave a position for
which her skill and competency eminently qualify her.
As a stenographer, amanuensis, and reporter I can give her
the highest praise. She has for the entire session of the
local legislature reported the proceedings with credit to
herself and The Lantern, notwithstanding she was a stranger
to her surroundings, the people, and local politics. These
are qualities that can find no better recommendation. I
confidently recommend her to any one requiring a skilled
amanuensis and reporter.
I was justifiably proud of that reference, which
Mr. Campbell had unexpectedly thrust upon me the
day I left Jamaica. I broke down when I read it, for
I felt I did not deserve it. The secretary of the Y.
W. C. A., however, said in her unpleasant nasal voice
as she turned it over almost contemptuously in her
" Oh, this won t do at all. It is n t even an Amer
ican reference, and we require a reference as to your
character from some minister or doctor."
Now, on the way to the association the lady who
had brought me had told me that this place was self-
supporting, that the girls must remember they were
not objects of charity; but, on the contrary, that they
paid for everything they got, the idea of the association
being to make no money from the girls, but simply
to pay expenses. In that way the girls were enabled
to board there at about half the price of a boarding-
house. Under these circumstances I could not but in
wardly resent the tone of this woman, and it seemed
to me that these restrictions were unjust and prepos
terous. Of course I was not in a position to protest,
so I turned to my friend who had brought me from the
" What shall I do? " I asked her.
" Can t you get a reference from your minister,
dear?" she asked sympathetically. Why, yes, I
thought I could. I d write to Canon Evans, our old
minister in Quebec. My friend leaned over the desk
and whispered to the secretary, who appeared to be
very busy, and irritated at being disturbed.
All public institutions, I here assert, should have
as their employees only people who are courteous,
pleasant, and kind. One of the greatest hardships of
poverty is to be obliged to face the autocratic mar
tinets who seem to guard the doorways of all such
organizations. There is something detestable and of
fensive in the frozen, impatient, and often insulting
manner of the women and men who occupy little posi
tions of authority like this, and before whom poor
working-girls and, I suppose, men must always
She looked up from her writing and snapped:
" You know our rules as well as I do, Miss But
" Well, but she says she can get a minister s refer
ence in a few days," said my friend.
" Let her come here then," said the secretary as
she blotted the page on which she was writing. How
I hated her, the cat!
" But I want to get her settled right away," pro
tested my friend.
How I loved her, the angel!
" Speak to Mrs. Dooley about it, then," snapped the
As it happened, Mrs. Dooley was close at hand.
She was the matron or superintendent, and was a big
splendid-looking woman, who moved ponderously, like
a steam-roller. She gave one look at me only and said
loudly and belligerently:
"Sure. Let her in!"
The secretary shrugged then, and took my name and
address in Quebec. Then she made out a bill, say
" It s five dollars in advance."
I was greatly embarrassed to be obliged to admit
that my money was in my stocking. Mrs. Dooley
laughed at that, my friend looked pained, and the sec
retary pierced me with an icy glare. She said :
" Nice girls don t keep their money in places like
It was on the tip of my tongue to retort that I was
not " nice," but I bit my tongue instead. My friend
gave me the opportunity to remove my " roll," and I
really think it made some impression on these officers
of the Y. W. C. A., for the secretary said :
"If you can afford it, you can have a room to your
self for six a week."
I said :
" No, I can t. This money is not mine."
The elevator " boy " was a girl a black girl.
We went up and up and up. My heart was in my
mouth, for I had never been in an elevator before.
Never had I been in a tall building before. We did not
have one in Quebec when I was there. We got off
at the top floor. Oh, me! how that height thrilled
me, and, I think, frightened me a little! On the way
to the room, my friend though I had learned her
name, I always like to refer to her as " my friend."
Ah, I wonder whether she is still looking for and pick-
ing up poor little homeless girls at railway stations !
" You know, dear, we have to be careful about ref
erences and such things. Otherwise all sorts of un
desirable girls would get in here."
" Well, I said, " I don t see why a girl who has a
reference from a minister is any more desirable than
one who has not."
" No, perhaps not," she said ; " but then, you see,
we have to use some sort of way of judging. We do
this to protect our good girls. This is frankly a place
for good girls, and we cannot admit girls who are not.
By and by you 11 appreciate that yourself. We 11 be
protecting you, don t you see ? "
I did n t, but she was so sweet that I said I did.
OH, such a splendid room! At least it seemed so
to me, who had seen few fine rooms. It was so
clean, even dainty. The walls and ceiling were pink
calcimine, and some one had twisted pink tissue-paper
over the electric lights. I did n t discover that till
evening, and then I was delighted. No beautiful,
costly lamps, with fascinating and ravishing shades,
have ever moved me as my first taste of a shaded col
ored light in the Y. W. C. A. did.
Our home in Quebec had been bare of all these
charming accessories, and although my father was an
artist, poor fellow, I remember he used to paint in the
kitchen, with us children all about him, because that
was the only warm room in the house. In our poor
home the rooms were primitive and bare. Papa used
to say that bare rooms were more tolerable than rooms
littered with " trash," and since we could not afford
good things, it was better to have nothing in the place
but things that had an actual utility. I think he was
wrong. There are certain pretty little things that
may be " trash," but they add to the attractiveness of
Though papa was an artist, there were no pictures
at all on our walls, as my older sisters used to take
his paintings as fast as he made them, and go, like
canvassers, from house to house and sell them for a
few dollars. Yet my father, as a young man, had
taken a gold medal at an exhibition at the Salon.
Grandpapa, however, had insisted that no son of his
should follow the " beggarly profession of an artist,"
and papa was despatched to the Far East, there to ex
tend the trade of my grandfather, one of England s
greatest merchant princes. When misfortune over
took my father later, and his own people turned
against him, when the children began to arrive with
startling rapidity, then my father turned to art as the
means of securing for us a livelihood.
One of my sisters was known in Quebec as the " lit
tle lace girl." She sold from door to door the lace
that she herself made. Marion followed in her steps
with papa s paintings. Other sisters had left home,
and some were married. I was the one who had to
mind the children, the little ones; they were still
coming, and I hated and abhorred the work. I re
member once being punished in school because I wrote
this in my school exercise :
" This is my conception of hell : a place full of howl
ing, roaring, fighting, shouting children and babies.
It is supreme torture to a sensitive soul to live in such
a Bedlam. Give me the bellowings of a madhouse in
preference. At least there I should not have to dress
and soothe and whip and chide and wipe the noses of
the crazy ones."
Ah, I wish I could have some charming memories of
a lovely home ! That s a great deal to have. It is
sad to think of those we love as in poor surroundings.
I suppose there are people in the world who would
smile at the thought of a girl s ecstatic enthusiasm over
a piece of pink paper on an electric light in a room in
the Chicago Y. W. C. A. Perhaps I myself am now
almost snob enough to laugh and mock at my own
former ingenuousness. That room, nevertheless,
seemed genuinely charming to me. There were two
snow-white beds, an oak bureau, oak chairs, oak table,
a bright rug on the floor, and simple white curtains at
the window. At home I slept in a room with four of
my little brothers and sisters. I hate to think of that
room. As fast as I picked up the scattering clothes,
others seemed to accumulate. Why do children soil
clothes so quickly!
There was even a homey look about my room in
the Y. W. C. A., for there were several good prints
on the wall, photographs on the mantel and the bureau,
a bright toilet set on the bureau, and a work-basket on
the table. From these personal things I speculated
upon the nature of my room-mate to be, and I decided
she was " nice." One thing was certain, she was ex
ceedingly neat, for all her articles were arranged with
almost old-maid primness. I determined to be less
careless with my own possessions.
After unpacking my things, and hiding my money,
right back in my stocking, despite what the secretary
had said ! I went down-stairs again, as I had been
told a large reading-room, parlor, reception-rooms, etc.,
were on the ground floor.
The night before I had planned a definite campaign
for work. I intended to go the rounds of the news
paper offices. I would present to the editors first my
card, which Mr. Campbell had had specially printed
for me, with the name of our paper in the corner, show
Mr. Campbell s reference, and then leave a number of
my own stories and poems. After that, I felt sure,
one or all of the editors of Chicago would be won over.
You perceive I had an excellent opinion of my ability
at this time. I wish I had it now. It was more a
conviction then a conviction that I was destined to
do something worth while as a writer.
In the reading-room, where there were a score of
other girls, I found not only paper, pencils, pens, but
all the newspapers and journals. Nearly all the girls
were looking at the papers, scanning the advertising
columns. I got an almanac, we had one in Jamaica
that was a never- failing reference-book to me, and
from it I obtained a list of all the Chicago papers, with
the names of the proprietors and editors. I intended
to see those editors and proprietors. It took me some
time to make up this list, and by the time I was through
it was the luncheon hour.
I followed a moving throng of girls into a great clean
dining-room, with scores of long tables, covered with
white cloths. There were all sorts of girls there,
pretty girls, ugly girls, young girls, old girls, shabby
girls, and richly dressed girls. In they came, all chat
ting and laughing and seeming so remarkably care-free
and happy that I decided the Y. W. C. A. must be a
great place, and there I would stay forever, or at any
rate until I had won Mr. Hamilton.
You perceive now that I intended to court this man
and, what is more, to win him, just as I intended to
conquer Fate, and achieve fame in this city. How can
I write thus lightly, when I felt so deeply then ! Ah,
well, the years have passed away, and we can look
back with a gleam of humor on even our most sacred
It was a decent, wholesome meal, that Y. W. C. A.
luncheon. All the girls at my table seemed to know
one another, and they joked and " swapped " stories
about their " fellows " and " bosses," and told of cer
tain adventures and compliments, etc. I attracted
very little notice, though a girl next to me she
squinted asked me my name. I suppose they were
used to strangers among them. New girls came and
went every day.
All the same, I did feel lonely. All these girls had
positions and friends and beaux. I ardently hoped that
I, too, would be working soon. A great many of
them, however, were not working-girls at all, but stu
dents of one thing or another in Chicago who had
taken advantage of the cheapness of the place for
boarding purposes. By right they should not have
been there, as the association was supposed to board
only self-supporting girls. However, they got in upon
one excuse or another, and I think the other girls were
rather glad than otherwise to have them there. They
were of course well dressed and well mannered, and
they lifted the place a bit above the average working-
girl s home. Curiously enough, there were few shop
or factory girls there. Most of the girls were stenogra
phers and bookkeepers.
When I went up to my room after luncheon, I found
a girl washing her face in the basin. She looked up,
with her face puffed out and the water dripping from
it, and she sang out in all her dampness :
She proved, of course, to be my room-mate. Her
name was Estelle Mooney. She was not good-look
ing, but was very stylish and had a good figure. Then,
her hair appeared such a wonderful fabric that really
one could scarcely notice anything else about her. It
was a mass of rolls and coils and puffs, and it was the
most extraordinary shade of glittering gold that I
have ever seen. I could not imagine how she ever did
it up like that till I saw her take it off ! Well, that
hair, false though it was, entirely dominated her face.
It was stupendous, remarkable. However, it was the
fashion at that time to wear one s hair piled gi
gantically upon one s head, and every one had switches
and rolls and rats galore every one except me. I
had a lot of hair of my own. It came far down below
my waist, and was pure black in color. It waved just
enough to look well when done up. Canadian girls
all have good heads of hair. I never saw an Ameri
can girl with more than a handful. Still, they make it
look so fine that it really does not matter till they
take it down or off.
My room-mate chewed gum constantly, and the back
of our bureau was peppered with little dabs that she,
by the way, told me to " please let alone." As if I d
have touched her old gum ! I laughed at the idea then ;
I can still laugh at the remembrance.
Estelle was a character, and she talked so uniquely
that for once in my life I listened, tongue-tied and
secretly enchanted. Never had I heard such speech.
With Estelle to room with, why had I not been born a
female George Ade! But, then, I soon discovered
that nearly all American girls (the working-girls at
least) used slang fluently in their speech, and it did
not take me long to acquire a choice vocabulary of my
Estelle had to return to her office by one, so she
could snatch only a moment s conversation with me,
and she talked with hair-pins in her mouth, and while
sticking pins, bone knobs, and large rhinestone pins
and combs into that brilliant mass of hair that domi
nated her. On top of this she finally set a great work
of art, in the shape of an enormous hat. Its color
scheme was striking, and set rakishly upon Estelle s
head, it certainly did look " fetching " and stylish.
Now, this girl, with all her slang and gaudy attire,
was earning fifteen dollars a week as a stenographer
and type-writer. She not only supported herself in
" ease and comfort," as she herself put it, but she con
tributed three dollars a week to her family she
hailed from Iowa, despite her name and she saved
two dollars a week. Also she was engaged. She
showed me her ring. I envied her not so much for
the ring as for the man. I should have loved to be en
gaged. She said if it was n t for the fact that her
" fellow " called every evening, she d take me out
with her that night ; and perhaps if Albert did n t ob
ject too much, she would, anyhow. Albert must have
objected, for she did not take me.
Albert worked in the same office as Estelle. He got
twelve dollars a week; but Estelle planned that if they
married, Albert, who was the next in line, would take
her place. He was bound to rise steadily in the firm,
according to Estelle. As they did not intend to marry
for two or three years, she expected to have consider
able saved by then, especially as Albert was also sav
ing. I liked Estelle from the first, and she liked me.
I always got on well with her, though she used to
look at me suspiciously whenever she took a piece of
gum from the back of the bureau, as if she wondered
whether I had been at work upon it in her absence.
I don t know how I found my way about the city
that afternoon, but I declare that there was not a
single newspaper office in Chicago at which I did not
call. I went in with high hopes, and I sent in my card
to proprietor and editor, and coldly stared out of
countenance the precocious office boys, patronizing,
pert, pitying, impudent, or indifferent, who in every
instance barred my way to the holy of holies within.
In not one instance did I see a proprietor of a paper.
No deeply impressed editor came rushing forth to bid
me enter. In most of the offices I was turned away
with the cruel and laconic message of the office boy
of " Nothing doing."
In two cases " cub " reporters I suppose they were
that, for they looked very little older than the office
boys came out to see me, but although they paid
flattering attention to the faltering recitation of my ex
periences as a reporter in Jamaica, West Indies, they,
too, informed me there was " nothing doing," though
they took my address. As far as that goes, so did the
office boys. One of the reporters asked me if I d
like to go out to dinner with him some night. I said
no; I was not looking for dinners, but for a posi
I was very tired when I reached " home." I went
up to my room to think the matter over alone, for the
reading-room and the halls were crowded with girls.
Estelle, however, had returned from work. She had
taken off all her puffs and rats, and looked so funny
with nothing but her own hair that I wanted to laugh,
but turned away, as I would not have hurt her feelings
" Hello ! " she cried as I came in. " Dead tired,
ain t you?"
How can a firm employ a stenographer who says
She offered me a piece of gum unchewed. I took
it and disconsolately went to work.
" Got soaked in the eye, did n t you? " she inquired
I nodded. I knew what she meant by that.
" Well, you 11 get next to something soon," said
Estelle. " What s your line? "
I started to say " journalism." In Canada we never
say " newspaper work." Journalism seems a politer
and more dignified term. To Estelle I said, " I write,"
thinking that that would be clear ; but it was not. She
thought I meant I wrote letters by hand, and she said
" Say, if I were you, I d learn type-writing. You
can clip off ten words on the machine to one you can
write by hand, and it s dead easy to get a job as a
type-writer. Gee! I don t see how you expect to get
anything by writing! That s out of date now, girl.
Say, where do you come from, anyhow ? "
Unconsciously, Estelle had given me an idea. Why
should I not learn type-writing? I was an expert
at shorthand, and if I could teach myself that,
I could also teach myself type-writing. If a girl like
Estelle could get fifteen dollars a week for work like
that, what could not I, with my superior education
Heavens and earth ! compared with Estelle I called
myself " educated," I whose mind was a dismal abyss
of appalling ignorance!
A type-writer, then, I determined to be. It was a
come-down; but I felt sure I would not need to do it
for long. Estelle generously offered to have a type
writer sent to our room (three dollars a month for a
good machine), and she said she would show me how
to use it. In a few weeks, she said, I would be ready
for a position.
A few weeks! I intended to go to work at once.
I had a hundred dollars to pay back. Already I had
used five of it. If I stayed here a few weeks without
working, it would rapidly disappear. Then, even when
I did get a position, suppose they gave me only a be
ginner s salary, how could I do more than pay my
board from that? The possibility of getting that hun
dred dollars together again would then be remote, re
mote. And if I could not get it, how, then, was I to
see him again?
I would stick to my first resolve. I would not write
to him until I could send him back that money that
dirty money. I felt that it stood between us like a
I wonder if many girls suffer from this passionate
sensitiveness about money. Or was I exceptional?
He has said so, and yet I wonder.
I was determined to get work at once. I would
learn and practise type-writing at night, but I would
not wait till I had learned it, but look for work just
the same through the day. Secretly I thought to my
self that if Estelle took three weeks in which to learn
the type-writer, as she said she did, I could learn it in
two days. That may sound conceited, but you do not
know Estelle. I take that back. I misjudged Estelle.
Ignorant and slangy she may have been, but she was
sharp-witted, quick about everything, and so cheerful
and good-humored that I do not wonder she was able to
keep her position for four or five years. In fact, for
the kind of house she was in a clothing firm
she was even an asset, for she " jollied " the customers
and at times even took the place of a model. She said
she was " a perfect thirty-six, a Veenis de Mylo."
Conceit carries youth far, and if I had not had that
confidence in myself, I should not have been able to
do what I did.
All next day I tramped the streets of Chicago, an
swering advertisements for "experienced" (mark
that!) stenographers and type-writers. I was deter
mined never to be a " beginner." I would make a
bluff at taking a position, and just as I had made good
with Mr. Campbell, so I felt I should make good in any
position I might take. I could not afford to waste my
time in small positions, and I argued that I would prob
ably lose them as easily as the better positions. So I
might as well start at the top.
I HATE to think of those nightmare days that fol
lowed. It seemed to me that a hundred thou
sand girls answered every advertisement. I stood in
line with hundreds of them outside offices and shops
and factories and all sorts of places. I stood or sat
(when I could get a seat) in crowded outer offices
with scores of other girls, all hungrily hoping for the
"job" which only one of us could have.
Then I began to go from office to office, selecting a
building, and going through it from the top to the
bottom floor. Sometimes I got beyond the appraising
office boys and clerks of outer offices, and sometimes I
was turned away at the door.
I have known what it is to be pitied, chaffed, in
sulted, "jollied"; I have had coarse or delicate com
pliments paid me; I have been cursed at and ordered
to "clear out " oh, all the crucifying experiences
that only a girl who looks hard for work knows !
I ve had a fat broker tell me that a girl like me
did n t need to work ; I Ve had a pious-looking hypo
crite chuck me under the chin, out of sight of his
clerks in the outer offices. I ve had a man make me
a cold business proposition of ten -dollars a week for
my services as stenographer and type-writer, and ten
dollars a week for my services as something else.
I ve had men brutally touch me, and when I have re
sented it, I have seen them spit across the room in my
direction, and some have cursed me.
And I have had men slip into my hand the price of
a meal, and then apologize when they saw they had
merely hurt me.
.When the day was done, I ve wearily climbed
aboard crowded cars and taken my stand, packed be
tween a score of men and women, or clung to straps
or doors, and I have envied those other people on the
car, because I felt that most of them were returning
from work, while I was looking for it.
And then I ve gone back to my room in the Y. W.
C. A., hurrying to get there before the chattering,
questioning Estelle, and counted over my ever-dimin
ishing hundred dollars, and lain down upon my bed,
feverishly to think ever and only of him! Oh, how
far, far away now he always seemed from me!
Sometimes, if I came in early enough, and if I were
not too desperately tired, I would write things. Odds
and ends what did I not write? Wisps of thoughts,
passionate little poems that could not bear analysis;
and then one day I wrote a little story of my mother s
land. I had never been there, and yet I wrote easily
of that quaint, far country, and of that wandering
troupe of jugglers and tight-rope dancers of which my
own mother had been one.
A week passed away, and still I had found no work.
What was worse, I had no way of learning type-writ
ing, even with the machine before me; for Estelle,
despite her promises, went out every night with Albert.
She had merely shown me one morning how to put
the paper on and move the carriage back and forth.
I used to sit before that type-writer and peck at the
type, but my words ran into one another, and some
times the letters were jumbled together.
I now knew a few of the girls in the house to speak
to slightly, but I hesitated to ask any of them to show
me something that perhaps I ought to pay to learn ;
for I did not want to spend the money for that. So
I waited for Estelle to keep her promise.
Sometimes I would approach a group of girls, with
the intention of asking one of them to come with me
up to my room, and then when she was there, ask her
about the type-writer; but the girls at the Y. W. C. A.
were always occupied in one way or another in the
evening, and a great many of them, like myself, were
looking for work.
They used to cluster together in the lower halls and
reading-room and talk over their experiences. Snorts
of indignation, peals of laughter, strenuous words of
advice all these came in a stream from the girls.
You d hear one girl tell an experience, and another
would say, " I tell you what / d have done : I d have
slapped him in the face ! " Or again, a girl would
say, " I just gave him one look that petrified him."
From all of which I gathered that my own experiences
while looking for work were common ones. Alas !
most of us had passed the stage where we " smacked "
or " slapped " a man in the face or " petrified " him
with a stare when he insulted us. What was the use?
I had got so that I would take a nasty proposition from
a man with a shrug and a smile, and walk out gamely.
I dare say there are people who cannot believe men
are so base. Well, we girls who work see them at
their worst, remember, and sometimes we see them at
their best. There are men so fine and great in the
business world that they compensate for all the con
temptible wolves who prey upon creatures weaker and
poorer than they are.
I did not have time in those days to notice much that
happened in the house, and yet small riots and strikes
were on all sides of us. Girls were protesting about
this or that. I remember one of the chief grievances
was having to attend certain amateur theatrical per
formances given by patronesses of the association.
We poor girls were obliged to sit through these abor
tive efforts at amusing us. Most of us, as Estelle said,
could have " put it all over " these alleged actors.
Then, not all of the girls cared to attend the religious
services and prayer meetings. It was a real hardship
to be obliged to sit through these when one would have
much preferred to remain in one s room. The
ten-o clock rule was the hardest of all. At that hour
all lights went out. We were supposed to be in bed
unless we had permission to remain out later. Ve
hement protests against this rule were daily hurled at
the powers that were, but in vain. The girls asserted
that as there were no private parlors in which to see
their company, they were obliged to go out, and it was
cruel to make it obligatory to be in so early.
So, you see, pleasant as in many ways the association
was, it had its drawbacks. Even I, who was charmed
with the place, and grateful for the immediate shelter
it gave me, revolted after I had been working some
One day a statue of General Logan was to be un
veiled opposite our place, and a great parade was to
mark the occasion. Naturally the windows of our
house that faced the avenue were desirable and ad
mirable places from which not only to see the parade,
but to watch the unveiling exercises. Promptly the
patrons and patronesses descended upon us, and our
windows were demanded. We girls were told we
would have to give up our rooms for that afternoon
and go to the roof.
I 11 tell you what one girl did. When the fine party
that was to occupy her room knocked upon her door,
she called, "Come in!" and when they entered, they
found the young person in bed. She declined to get
Threats, coaxings, the titterings and explosive
laughter of the association s "honored guests" (they
were of both sexes) fell upon deaf ears. She de-
clined to get up, and dared any one of them to force
her up, She said she had paid for that room, and she,
and no one else, was going to occupy it that day.
That girl was I. I suppose I would have been put
out of the place for that piece of unheard-of defiance
but for the fact that one of the patronesses undertook
to champion me. She said I was perfectly right, and
as she was a most important patroness, I was not dis
turbed, though I received a severe lecture from Miss
Taken on the whole, however, it was a good place.
We had a fine gymnasium and even a room for dan
cing. There were always lectures of one kind or an
other, and if a girl desired, she could acquire a fair
At the end of my second week, and while I was still
looking for a place, I made my first real girl friend
and chum. I had noticed her in the dining-room, and
she, so she said, had specially selected me for con
sideration. She called upon me one evening in my
room. Of course she was pretty, else I am afraid I
should not have been attracted to her. Pretty things
hypnotize me. She was several years older than I,
and was what men call a " stunning-looking " girl.
She was tall, with a beautiful figure, which she always
showed to advantage in handsome tailor-made suits.
Her complexion was fair, and she had laughing blue
eyes. She was the wittiest and prettiest and most dis
tinguished-looking girl in the house. I forgot to de-
scribe her hair. It was lovely, shining, rippling hair,
the color of " Kansas corn," as one of her admirers
once phrased it.
Estelle was out that evening, and while I was for
lornly picking at my type-writer, some one tapped at
my door, and then Lolly her name was Laura, but I
always called her Lolly put her head in.
" Anybody but yourself at home? " and when I said
no, she came in, and locked the door behind her. She
was in a pink dressing-gown so pretty that I could not
take my eyes from it. I had never had a dressing-
Lolly stretched herself out on my bed, brought forth
a package of cigarettes, a thing absolutely forbidden in
the place, offered me one, and lit and began to smoke
one herself. To be polite, I took her cigarette and
tried to smoke it ; but she burst into merry laughter at
my effort, because I blew out instead of drawing in.
However, I did my best.
Of course, like girls, we chatted away about our
selves, and after I had told her all about myself, Lolly
in turn told me her history.
It seems she was the daughter of a prominent Texas
politician whose marriage to a stepmother of whom
Lolly heartily disapproved had induced her to leave
home. She was trying to make a " sort of a liveli
hood," she called it, as a reporter for the newspapers.
When she said this carelessly, I was so surprised
and delighted that I jumped on the bed beside her, and
in a breath I told her that that was the work I had
done, and now wanted to do. She said that there
" was n t much to it," and that if she were I, she d
try to get something more practical and dependable.
She said she had a job one day and none the next.
At the present time she was on the Inter Ocean, and
she had been assigned to " cover " the Y. W. C. A.
(she called it " The Young Women s Cussed Associa
tion ") and dig up some stories about the " inmates "
and certain abuses of the officials. She said she d
have a fine " story " when she got through.
How I envied her for her work ! Hoping she might
help me secure a similar position, I read to her my
latest story. She said it was " not bad," but still ad
vised me to get a stenographer s place in preference.
She said there were five thousand and ninety-nine
positions for stenographers to one for women report
ers, and that if I got a good place, I would find time to
write a bit, anyway. In that way I d get ahead even
better than if I had some precarious post on a news
paper, as the space rates were excessively low. She
said that she herself did not make enough to keep
body and soul together, but that she had a small in
come from home. She said her present place was not
worth that, and she blew out a puff of smoke from her
pretty lips. Any day she expected that her " head
would roll off," as she had been " falling down "
badly on stories lately.
In her way Lolly was as slangy as Estelle, but there
was a subtle difference between their slangs. Lolly
was a lady. I do not care for the word, but gentle
woman somehow sounds affected here. Estelle was
not. Yet Lolly was a cigarette fiend, and, according
to her own wild tales, had had a most extraordinary
Lolly had the most charming smile. It was as
sunny as a child s, and showed a row of the prettiest
of teeth. She was impulsive, and yet at times ex
I told her I thought she was quite the prettiest girl
in the place, whereupon she gave me a squeeze and
" What about yourself? "
Then she wanted to know what I did with myself
all the time. I said :
" Why, I look for work all day."
"But at night?"
Dh, I just stayed in my room and tried to write or
to practise on the type-writer.
" Pooh! " said Lolly, "you 11 die of loneliness that
way. Why don t you get a sweetheart? "
I suppose my face betrayed me, for she said :
" Got one already, have you ? "
" No, indeed," I protested.
Then why don t you get one ? "
" You talk," I said, "as if sweethearts were to be
picked up any day on the street."
" So they are, as far as that goes," said Lolly.
You just go down the avenue some night and see
That really shocked me.
<: If you mean make up to a strange man, I would n t
do a thing like that, would you ? "
" Oh, yes," said Lolly, " if I felt like it. As it is
now, however, I have too many friends. I ve got to
cut some of them out. But when I first came here,
I was so d lonely" she used swear- words just
like a man " that I went out one night determined
to speak to the first man who got on the car I
Lolly threw back her head and laughed, blowing her
smoke upward as she did so.
" He was a winner from the word go, my dear.
Most of the girls get acquainted with men that way.
Try it yourself."
No, I said I would n t do that. It was too " com
" Pooh ! " said Lolly, " Lord knows I was brought
up by book rule. I was the bell of D , but now
I m just a working-girl. I ve come down to brass
tacks. What a fool I d be to follow all the con
ventional laws that used to bind me. Then, too, I m
a Bohemian. Ever hear of that word?" she inter
rupted herself to ask.
Mama used to call papa that when she was angry
" Well," said Lolly, " I m the bona-fide Bohemian
article. My family think I m the limit. What do
you think? "
" I think you are trying to shock me," I said.
"Well, have I?"
" No, not a bit."
" Then you re the only girl in the house I have n t,"
she said with relish. " You know, I m in pretty bad
here, a sore spot in the body politic. Out I d go this
blessed minute if it was n t for the fact that they re
all afraid of me afraid I 11 show em up scorch-
" Would you do that? " I asked.
" Watch me ! " said Lolly, laughing.
The lights went out, and then she swore. She had
to scramble about on the bed to find her cigarettes.
When she was going out, she said :
" Oh, by the way, if you like, I 11 give you a card
to a fellow out in the stock-yards. You go out there
to-morrow and see him. He may have something for
Have I, I wonder, in this first rough picture of
Lolly done her an injustice? If so, I hasten to change
the effect. Lolly was a true adventurer; I dare not
say adventuress, for that has a nasty sound. I won
der why, when adventurer sounds all right. Though
at heart she was pure gold, though her natural in-
stincts were refined and sweet, she took a certain
reckless pleasure in, as it were, dancing along through
life with a mocking mask held ever before her. For
instance, she took an almost diabolic delight in paint
ing herself in black colors. She would drawl off one
startling story after another about herself as with
half -closed eyes, through the smoke, she watched my
face to judge of the effect of her recital. Sometimes
she would laugh heartily at the end of her confidences,
and then again she would solemnly assert that every
word was true.
The morning after her first visit she woke me up
early and, although Estelle grumbled, came airily into
our room and got into bed with me.
A queer sort of antagonism existed between Lolly
and Estelle, which I never quite understood at the
time, though perhaps I do now. Lolly, with her reck
less, handsome stylishness and dash represented the
finished product of what poor Estelle tried to be. To
make a crude sort of comparison, since Estelle herself
worked in a clothing house and used clothing-house
figures of speech, it was as if Lolly were a fine imported
model and Estelle the pathetic, home-made attempt at
a copy. She had copied the outlines, but not the
subtle little finishing touches. Lolly, moreover, was
acutely, amusedly aware of this, and she took a wicked
and heartless delight in teasing and gibing at Estelle
with words fully as slangy as Estelle s own, but which
fairly stung with their keenness and caustic wit.
I could understand why Estelle hated Lolly, but I
never could understand Lolly s contempt for Estelle.
She always dismissed her as " Trash, Nora, trash ! "
So now Estelle turned over in bed and snorted loud
and long as Lolly got into mine.
Lolly said :
" George ! how the hoi-polloi do snore ! "
Estelle lifted her head from the pillow, to show
she was not sleeping, and, as she would have put it,
" petrified " Lolly with one long, sneering, contempt
Lolly had come in, in fact, on an errand of mercy
toward me, to whom she had taken a sudden fancy
very much reciprocated by me. She said she wanted
me to go out to the stock-yards as early as possible, as
she understood this man she knew there wanted a
stenographer right away. His name, she said, was
Fred O Brien, and she gave me a card which read,
" Miss Laura Hope, the Inter Ocean." On the back
she had written :
" Introducing Miss Nora Ascough."
I was delighted. It was like having another refer
ence. I asked her about this Mr. O Brien. She said,
with a smile and significantly, that she had met him on
a recent expedition to the yards in an inquiring mood
for the Inter Ocean in regard to the pigs -hair depart
ment, of which he was then manager.
I had never heard of such a thing, and Lolly burst
into one of her wildest peals of laughter, which made
Estelle sit up savagely in bed.
" You 11 be the death of me yet," said Lolly.
That was all the explanation she gave me, but all
the way to the stock-yards, and as I was going through
them, I kept wondering what on earth pigs hair could
be. I must say I did not look forward with any de
gree of delight to working in the pigs -hair depart
HAVE you ever ridden through the Chicago stock
yards on a sunny day in the month of June?
If you have, you are not likely to forget the experi
As I rode with about twenty or thirty other girls in
the bus, all apparently perfectly contented and happy,
I thought of some of my father s vivid stories of old
Shanghai, the city of smells.
I shall not describe the odors of the Chicago stock
yards. Suffice it to say that they are many, varied,
and strong, hard to bear at first, but in time, like every
thing else, one becomes acclimated to them, as it were.
I have heard patriotic yards people, born and reared in
that rarefied atmosphere, declare that they " like it."
And yet the institution is one of the several wonders
of the world. It is a miraculous, an astounding, a
Again, as on that first day in Chicago, at the rail
way station, I was one of many atoms pouring into
buildings so colossal that they seemed cities in them
selves. I followed several of the stenographers
only the stenographers rode in the busses ; the factory
girls of the yards walked through, as did the men
up a few flights of stairs, and came to a vast office
where, I believe, something like three thousand clerks
are employed on one floor. Men, women, girls, and
boys were passing along, like puppet machines, each to
his own desk and chair.
The departments were partitioned off with oak rail
ings. There was a manager and a little staff of clerks
for every department, and, oh! the amazing number
of departments! During all the months I worked
there I never knew the names of more than half the
departments, and when I come to think of what was
on the other floors, in other buildings, the great fac
tories, where thousands were employed, I feel bewil
dered and stupendously impressed.
To think of the stock-yards as only a mighty butcher
shop is a great mistake. It is better to think of them
as a sort of beneficent feeder and provider of hu
manity, not merely because of the food they pour out
into the world, but for the thousands to whom they
I heard much of the abuses there, of the hateful
actions of many of the employers; but one loses sight
of these things in contemplating the great general
benefit of this astounding place. Of course I, in the
offices, saw perhaps only the better and cleaner side
of the yards, and therefore I cannot tell what went on
I asked a boy for Mr. O Brien, and he said :
" Soap department."
I went along the main railing, inquiring for the
soap department, and a sharp-eyed youth (in the
pickled snouts department) with a pencil on his ear,
undertook to take me to O Brien.
As I passed along with him, I found myself the
attacked of many eyes. A new girl is always an ob
ject of interest and speculation in the yards. I tried
to look unconcerned and unaware, an impossibility,
especially as some of the clerks coughed as I went by,
some grinned at me, one winked, and one softly whis
tled. I felt ashamed and silly, and a fierce sort of
pity for myself that I should have to go through this.
" Lady for you, Fred," at last sang out my escort
as we approached an inclosure, and then smiling, he
opened a little gate, and half pushed, half led, me in.
I found myself at the elbow of a long, lanky young
man who was doubled over in such a position that his
spine looked humped up in the middle. He had a
large box before him, in which were a lot of pieces of
soap, and he kept picking up pieces and examining
them, sometimes smelling them. There was one other
person in the inclosure, or department, and he was a
very red-haired, freckle-faced boy of about twelve.
For some time the long, lanky young man did not
even look up, but continued to examine the soap. I
was beginning to think he was ignorant of my pres
ence at his elbow when he said, without taking his
nose out of the box, and shifting his unlighted cigar
from one side of his mouth to the other, in a snarling
sort of voice, like the inquiring bark of a surly dog:
" Wa-al, what d yer want? "
" A position as stenographer," I answered promptly.
He straightened up in his seat at that, and took a
look at me. His cheek-bones were high and lumpy;
he had a rather pasty-colored skin, sharp-glancing
eyes, and a humorous mouth. It was a homely face,
yet, curiously enough, not unattractive, and there was
something straightforward about it. He wore his hat
on the back of his head, and he did not remove it in
honor of me. After scrutinizing me in one quick
glance, in which I felt he had taken in all my weak
nesses and defects, he said in a les.s-snarling tone:
Lolly s card I timidly proffered. He took it, stared
at it with an astonished expression, and then snorted
so loudly it made me think of Estelle, and I felt a
quaking fear that Lolly s card was a poor recom
mendation. He spat after that snort, looked at me
again, and said:
"Well, I like her nerve!"
Of course, as I was not aware of just what he meant
by that (I subsequently learned that Lolly had gone
to work for O Brien supposedly as a stenographer, and
then had written up and exposed certain conditions in
the yards), I stared at him questioningly, and he re
peated with even more eloquent emphasis:
"Well, I like her nerve! It beats the Dutch!"
Then he chuckled, and again scrutinized me.
"That all the reference you got?" he asked.
I produced Mr. Campbell s, and as I watched him
read it with a rather puzzled expression, I hastily pro
duced Canon Evans s reference as to my character,
which my father had sent me for the Y. W. C. A.
O Brien handed the letters back to me without com
ment, but he kept Lolly s card, putting it carefully
away in his card-case, and chuckling as he did so.
" What do you know ? " at last he said to me.
" Good stenographer, are you? "
" Yes, very good," I eagerly assured him.
" Humph ! How much salary do you expect to
" I got ten a week in the West Indies," I said. I
never even thought that that " free board " at the hotel
amounted to something, too. Ten dollars was my
salary, and so I said ten.
He hugged his chin reflectively, studying me, and
after a moment he said :
" I was n t expecting to take any one on for a day
or two, but so long as you re here, and come so highly
recommended," and he grinned, " you may stay.
Salary fifteen per."
" Oh, thank you! " I said so fervency that he got
angrily red, and turned away.
The red-haired office boy, who had been acutely lis
tening to the conversation, now came up to me and
pertly asked me if I was engaged. Which insolent
question I at first declined to answer. When I real
ized that he did not mean engaged to be married, but
engaged for the position, then I said, with scarlet face,
that I was.
" Red Top," as they called him, then showed me
my desk, next to Mr. O Brien s, filled my ink-wells,
brought me pens, pencils, and note-books. I was in
wardly congratulating myself that there was no sign
of a type-writer when the boy pulled up the lid of my
desk, and, lo ! there was a fine, glistening machine.
I suppose some girls really take a sort of pride in
their machine, just as a trainer does in his horse. I
confess that I felt no fond yearnings toward mine,
and while I was debating how in the world I was ever
going to copy the letters, Mr. O Brien pulled out a
slat on my desk, leaned over, and began to dictate.
All the time he was dictating he was chewing tobacco,
stopping once in a while to spit in a cuspidor at his
feet, and watching my face out of the corner of his
eye. This was a sample of the letters I took, and you
can judge of my feelings as I wrote:
Messrs. So and So.
I send you F.O.B. five hundred broken babies, three
hundred cracked babies, one thousand perfect ones, etc.
Broken babies, cracked babies, perfect ones! What
sort of place was this, anyway? The pigs hair de
partment was mystifying and horrifying enough, and
I had heard that sausages were made from dogs and
horses; but a trade in babies cracked and broken!
I suppose my face must have betrayed my wonder
and perhaps horror, for O Brien suddenly choked,
though I don t know whether he was laughing or
coughing, but he made a great noise. Then he said,
clearing his throat :
"Got all that?"
" That s all," he said, and turned back to his soap
box. There was nothing for me to do now but to
type-write those letters. I stared at that machine
blindly, and to put off the evil moment, I tried to
engage my " boss " in conversation while pretending
to dust the machine.
" Mr. O Brien, have have you many babies
here?" I asked.
" Thousands," he returned.
" It must be like a hospital," said I.
He grunted. I ve often thought that O Brien de
lighted to put stenographers through that " baby "
joke, but I don t suppose any other girl was ever quite
so gullible as I.
" I d like to see some of them," I said.
You re looking at them now," said he.
I looked about me, but I saw no babies. O Brien
was digging down in the box. Suddenly he tossed up
a handful of odd-shaped pieces on his desk. Then
I understood. They were all in the shape of babies
Wool-Soap babies! O Brien, with his tobacco in his
cheek, thought it a good joke on me.
I stuck the paper into the type-writer, and then I
began slowly to write, pecking out each letter with my
index-finger. I felt rather than saw O Brien slowly
turning round in his seat, and though I dared not look
up, I felt both his and Red Top s amazed eyes
on my slowly moving fingers. Suddenly O Brien
" Well, upon my word," said he, " you sure are a
twin of that friend of yours! I like your nerve!"
I sat still in my seat, just staring at the type, and a
fearful lump came up in my throat and almost choked
me. I could not see a thing for the tears that came
welling up despite myself, but I held them back
Suddenly O Brien snapped out in his most angry
and snarling tone:
" Say, who are you staring at, anyway ? "
I thought he meant me, and I started to protest that
I was merely looking at the type, when I heard the feet
of Red Top shuffle, and he said, oh, so meekly and
" Yes, sir ; I ain t staring at her, sir."
I was relieved, anyway, of a part of the pressure,
for the office boy was now busy at some files. I found
enough courage at last to look at O Brien. He was
studying me. as if I were some strange curiosity that
both amused and amazed him.
" You re a nice one, are n t you," said he, " to take
a job at fifteen per as an experienced and expert
stenographer and "
I said quickly :
" I am an expert stenographer. It s just the type
writing I can t do, and, oh! if you ll only give me a
chance, I 11 learn it in a few days, honestly I will.
I m cleverer than most girls, really I am. I taught
myself shorthand, and I can type-writing, too. I 11
practise every night, and if you 11 just try me for a
few days, I 11 work so hard and you won t be
sorry ; I m sure you won t."
I got this all off quickly and warmly.
To this day I do not know what impulse moved
Fred O Brien to decide that he wanted me as his
stenographer. His was an important department, and
he could have had as good a stenographer as fifteen
dollars a week will get, and that s a fair salary for
work of that kind. Here was I, palpably a green girl,
who could not type a line! No man s voice ever
sounded nicer than that gruff young Irishman s when
he said that I could stay, that for the first week I could
do the letters by hand ; but I was to practise every op
portunity I got, and I could help him a lot if I would
write the letters without making it necessary for him
to dictate them.
In justification of my boast to O Brien that I would
" make good," let me say that I stayed in his depart
ment all the time I was at the yards, and this is the
reference he gave me when he himself left to take
charge of the New York office:
To Whom it may Concern :
This is to certify that Miss Nora Ascough, wko has been
in my employ for the past few months as stenographer and
typewriter, is an A No. I Crack-a-Jack.
Smith & Co. Per, Fred O Brien, Mgr.
Some one once said of me that I owed my success as
a writer mainly to the fact that I used my sex as a
means to help me climb. That is partly true not only
in the case of my writing, but of my work as a
stenographer. I have been pushed and helped by men
who liked me, but in both cases I made good after I
I think it would have broken my heart not to have
" made good " to Fred O Brien after he had trusted
me in this way. This man, the first I worked for in
America, was probably the best friend I ever had or
will have. I do not mean so much while I worked
for him, but later in my life.
I have spoken of the mild sensation I made as I
walked down that main aisle. All through the day,
in whatever direction I looked, I encountered inter
ested eyes bent upon me. Some were those of girls
like myself, some office boys, a number of department
managers, and nearly all the clerks in my vicinity.
Some craned their necks to get a glimpse of me, some
came officiously to talk to O*Brien. Thus it was an
i 4 8 ME
embarrassing day for me, especially at luncheon-hour,
when I did not know quite what to do. Then a girl
from another department came over and asked me to
go to luncheon with her. She said that her " boss,"
whose name was Hermann, and who was a chum of
O Brien, had bade her look out for me.
She pointed Hermann out to me as we passed along,
and he seized his hat, and came after us; but as he
was passing our department, O Brien seized him, and,
looking back, I saw them both laughing, and I felt
sure O Brien was telling him about me.
Hermann was about twenty-five. He had a stiff
thatch of yellow hair which he brushed up straight,
and which stood up just like bristles on his head. He
had wide-awake eyes, and looked like a human inter
rogation-point, dressed very dudishly, and flirted right
and left with all the girls. Though born in America,
and wiry and active, nevertheless there was the stamp
of " Made in Germany " everywhere upon him. Later
in the afternoon he stuck so insistently about our de
partment that O Brien finally introduced us, and then
said with a grin :
" Now clear out. You got what you wanted."
Two or three departments to the left of me I had
noticed a very blond, plumpish, rather good-looking
young man, who watched me unceasingly throughout
the day, but, whenever I looked at him, would blush,
just like a girl, and look down and fuss with papers
oh his desk. Well, about the middle of the after-
noon, and while O Brien was away from the depart
ment, a boy came over and laid a note on my desk.
It was folded ingeniously, twisted into a sort of bow-
knot, and it was addressed, " Stenographer, Soap
I thought it was some instruction from O Brien,
especially as the boy said :
I unfolded the note, and this is what I read :
I m stuck on you. Will you keep company with me ?
I had to laugh, though I knew my furiously red
swain was watching me anxiously.
" Any answer? " again asked the boy. I wrote on
a piece of paper the one word, " Maybe."
People who have called me clever, talented, etc.,
oh, all women writers get accused of such things !
have not really reckoned with a certain weak and silly
side of my character. If as I proceed with this chron
icle I shock you with the ease and facility with which
I encouraged and accepted and became constantly
engaged to men, please set it down to the fact that I
always felt an inability to hurt by refusing any one
who liked me enough to propose to me. I got into
lots of trouble for this, call it moral lack in me,
but I could not help it at the time. Why, it s just
the same way that I once felt in a private Catholic
hospital, and little Sister Mary Eulalia tried to con
vert me. Out of politeness and because I loved her,
I was within an ace of acknowledging her faith, or any
other faith she might choose.
If you could have seen the broad smile of satisfac
tion that wreathed the face of my first stock-yards
" mash," you, in my place, would not have regretted
that little crumb of hope that I had tossed him. Yet
I had no more intention of " keeping company " with
him that I had of flying.
It pleases me much to record that on this my first
day in the yards I received three " mash " notes, which
one of the girls later told me " was going it some for
My second note was a pressed flower, accompanied
by these touching lines:
The rose is red ; the violet s blue,
Honey s sweet, and so are you !
And so is he, who sends you this,
And when we meet we 11 have a kiss.
I don t know who sent me this, but I suspected an
office boy in a neighboring department.
My third note came just about an hour before leav
ing. It was from Hermann, and in a sealed envelop.
It was as follows :
How about "Buffalo Bill" to-night?
O Brien leaned over me as I opened the note, de
liberately took it from me, and read it. As he did so,
Hermann stealthily pelted him with tightly chewed
wads of paper, though, from his hunched-over posi
tion at his desk, no one would have suspected who
was throwing those pellets. I saw him, however, and
he winked at me as if I were in a conspiracy with him,
and as much as to say :
" We 11 fix him."
O Brien, his cigar moving from one side of his
mouth to the other, answered the note for me.
" Nothing doing," was his laconic response to Her
mann s invitation, and he despatched it by Red Top.
He let me out with the five-thirty girls instead of the
six, and he said :
" Now step lively, and if you let Hermann catch up
with you, I 11 fire you in the morning."
I went flying down the aisle with my heart as light
as a feather. Next to being in love, there is nothing
finer in the world, for a working-girl, than to have a
good " job " and to know that some one is " stuck "
MY type-writing was practised under difficulties,
for girls kept coming in and out of my room,
and Lolly, who was there nearly every evening, taught
me. By this time I was getting acquainted with a
great many of the girls in the house, and for some
reason or other I was popular. The " good " girls
wanted me to join this or that Christian Society or
Endeavor Club, and the " bad " girls alleged by the
good ones to be bad were always urging me to
" come on out and have a good time."
In those days Lolly was my chum. We were al
ways together, much to Estelle s disgust. Every
evening Lolly would come into my room unless she
had an engagement, and, heavens! men came after
Lolly like flies to the honey-pot. With a box of ciga
rettes and a magazine, or one of my own stories, all
of which she was revising for me, she would curl up
on my bed while I worked. Sometimes I practised
till ten o clock, when the lights would go out.
After a long, if not hard, day in the yards and
even if one did not work at all, the incessant move
ment and buzz of the great work factory was ex
hausting and two or three hours of type-writing
practice at night, you may be sure I was pretty tired
when finally I crept into bed.
Then for some time thereafter I would lie wide
awake. Like a kaleidoscopic panorama, the scenes
of my day s work would slide in and out of my
mind, then slowly pass away, as the figures in a
strange dance. Visions would then come to me
the wavering, quaint persons and plots of the stories
I would write. Dreams, too, came of the days when
I would be famous and rich, and all my dear people
would be lifted up from want. My poems would be
on every one s tongue, my books in every home. And
I saw myself facing a great audience, and bowing in
acknowledgment of their praise of my successful play.
A few years later, when the name of a play of
mine flashed in electric letters on Broadway, and the
city was papered with great posters of the play, I
went up and down before that electric sign, just to
see if I could call up even one of the fine thrills I had
felt in anticipation. Alas ! I was aware only of a sad
excitement, a sense of disappointment and despair. I
realized that what as an ignorant little girl I had
thought was fame was something very different.
What then I ardently believed to be the divine sparks
of genius, I now perceived to be nothing but a
mediocre talent that could never carry me far. My
success was founded upon a cheap and popular device,
and that jumble of sentimental moonshine that they
called my play seemed to me the pathetic stamp of
i 5 4 ME
my inefficiency. Oh, I had sold my birthright for a
mess of potage!
We arrive at a stage of philosophic despair when
we calmly recognize our limitations; but long before
we know them, what wild dreams are those that thrill,
enthrall, and torment us! Well, the dreams at least
were well worth while.
I was now part of a vast, moving world of work,
and, strangely enough, I was, in a way, contented.
It takes very little to make the average normal girl
contented. Take the girls who worked as I did.
Given fair salaries and tolerable conditions under
which to work, they were for the most part light-
hearted and happy. You had only to look at groups
of them about the Y. W. C. A. to realize that. Not
that most of us did not have some little burden to
carry; a few of us cherished wistful ambitions be
yond our sphere, and all of us, I think, had our ro
In the yards there was probably one girl to every
three or four hundred men. They were obliged to
pay good salaries, moreover, as many girls hesitated
to go away out there to work, and the aristocrats of
our profession balked at the sights and smells of the
yards. Anyhow, the firm for which I worked treated
us well. Special busses brought us to and from the
yards. Excellent dressing-rooms and luncheon-
rooms were assigned to us, and we were always treated
We girls were all appraised when we entered, and
soon afterwards were assigned certain places in the
estimation of the men of the yards. That is to say,
a girl was " good," " bad," a " worker," a " frost," or
a " peach."
The "good" girls were treated with respect; the
" bad " girls made " dates " for dinners with the vari
ous " bosses," had fine clothes, jewels, were loud, and
had privileges ; the " frosts " were given a wide berth.
They \vere the girls who were always on the defensive
with the men, expecting and looking for insults and
taking umbrage on the slightest provocation. The
" workers " were of course the backbone of our pro
fession. They received high salaries and rose to po
sitions almost as good as the men s. Boys and men
stepped lively for them, and took their orders unblink-
ingly. Finally, the title of " peach " was bestowed
upon the girls whom the men decided were pretty and
approved of in other ways. If one was in the
" peach " class, she was persistently courted by all
well-meaning or bad-meaning men who could get near
her. She was a belle of the yards.
Under which head I came, I never knew. I think I
was the strange gosling that had sprung up somehow
in this nest, and no one knew quite where I should be
assigned. There was a wavering disposition at first
to put me in the " peach " class, but I rather think I
degenerated within a few weeks to the " worker "
class, for Fred O Brien early acquired the habit of
leaving most of the details of our department entirely
Twenty- four men asked me to " go out " with them
the first week I was there. I kept a note of this, just
to amuse myself and O Brien, who was vastly inter
ested in the sensation he fatuously believed I was cre
ating. He took a comical pride in my " success " !
Ah, dear Fred ! No one, not even I, was ever prouder
of my later " success " than he. Every day he would
ask me, " Well, who s asking you out to-night ? " and
I would show him my " mash " notes, most of which
he confiscated, later, I suspect, to torment their au
The men out here did not ask if they could call
upon a girl. Their way of becoming better ac
quainted, or " going after " a girl, as they called it,
was to invite her to " go out " with them, meaning
for a ride, to the theaters, the parks, restaurants, or
other places of amusement. I never " went out " with
any of the men of the yards except O Brien and Her
mann, who had been acting like a clown for my spe
cial benefit by coming over to our department every
day, and talking a lot of nonsense, telling jokes, and
sending me countless foolish notes, until at last O Brien
took pity on him, and said they would call upon me
That was an illuminating occasion. " Fellows "
were few and far between who called at the Y. W.
C. A., and every girl who possessed a " steady " was
marked. Whenever a new " fellow " appeared
there, he was the object of the united curiosity of a
score of girls, who hung about the halls and the par
lors to get a look at him.
Now, Hermann called upon me in great state. Much
to my surprise and Lolly s hilarious joy, he came in
silk hat and frock coat, with a gold-topped cane. I
hardly knew him, when I descended in my own best,
a white polka-dotted Swiss dress, with a pink sash,
and found him sitting erect and with evident discom
fort on the edge of a sofa in the parlor, the admired
target of a score of eyes, all feminine. He was mak
ing a manful effort to appear at his ease, and unaware
of the sensation he had made. Men with silk hats,
you must know, do not call every day upon girls at
the Y. W. C. A. It was plain to be seen that the poor
fellow was suffering a species of delicious torture.
In the hall, within direct sight of the sofa, Lolly was
leaning against the wall, and looking her wickedest
and prettiest. She had already tormented and teased
me unmercifully about my " first beau."
Hermann rose gallantly as I entered, and he bowed,
as I did not know he could bow, over my hand, shak
ing it in the then approved and fashionable high man
ner; but I could not resist a little giggle as I heard
Lolly chokingly cough in the hall, and I knew she was
taking it all in.
" O Brien s waiting for us outside," said Hermann.
" Would n t come in. Acted just like a man with a
sore tooth. Ever seen a man with a sore tooth, Miss
Ascough ? "
No, I had never had that pleasure, I told him.
" Well," said Hermann, " the man with a sore
tooth groans all day and night, and makes every one
about him suffer. Then first thing in the A. M. he
hikes off to the nearest dentist. He gives one look at
the sign on the dentist s door, and that s enough for
him : he s cured. Christian Science, you see. Now,
that s how it is with O Brien to-night. He was dead
stuck on coming along, but got stage- fright when he
saw the girls."
" You were n t afraid of us, were you, Mr. Her
mann ? " said I, admiringly and flatteringly.
"Me? What, me afraid of girls? Sa-ay, I like
that!" and Hermann laughed at the idea as if it
amused him vastly. " Tell you what you do. Get
another girl ; there s a peach looking in at us now
don t look up. She s the blonde, with the teeth.
What do you say to our all going over to the S
Gardens for a lobster supper, huh ? "
Now, the peach, of course, was Lolly, who, with
her dimples all abroad and her fine white teeth show
ing, was plainly on view at the door, and had already
worked havoc in the breast of the sentimental Her
O Brien did n t like the idea of the S Gardens.
He said it was " too swift " for me, though he brutally
averred it might do for Hermann and Lolly. Lolly
and he sparred all the time, just as did Lolly and Es-
telle. He said, moreover, that it would not do at all
for us to be seen together, and we would be sure to
run across some yards people at the S Gardens.
If he were seen out with his stenographer, every
tongue in the office would be wagging about it next
So he suggested that we take a long car ride, and
get off at L Park, where there was a good res
taurant, and we could get something to eat and drink
there. Fred and I paired off together, and Hermann,
who had been utterly won away from me by Lolly,
who was flirting with him and teasing him outrage
ously, brought up behind us as we started for the cars.
After he had explained to me why we should not be
seen together, O Brien said, with an air of great care
" Now, look a-here, girl, I don t want you to get
it into your head that I m stuck on you, for I m not ;
but I like you, and if you don t pull my leg too hard,
I 11 take you out with me all you want."
" Pull your leg! " I repeated, shocked. I had never
heard that expression before. American slang was
still a source of mystification, delight, and wonder to
me. Lolly heard my horrified exclamation, and
moved up, laughing her merriest.
" Limb s the polite term," she corrected Fred.
" Eh ? " said he. Then as he saw I did not really
understand, he explained to me what he meant.
"Oh," said I, "you needn t worry about me. If
you don t believe that I care nothing about money,
look at this."
There were a few coins in my pocketbook. I
poured them into my hand, and deliberately and im
pulsively I tossed them out into the road. I am sure
I don t know why I did such a senseless thing as that.
It was just the impulse of a silly moment.
The subjects we two girls and boys discussed were
varied and many, but always by persistent degrees
they seemed to swing back to the yards, wherein of
course the interests of our escorts naturally centered.
The boys entertained us with tales of the men and
even cattle of this " city," as they called it. There
was a black sheep called " Judas Iscariot " who led
the other sheep to slaughter, and was always rewarded
with a special piece of meat. There was a big black
pig that wandered about the offices of a neighboring
firm, and was the mascot of that office.
There was a man who had been born in the yards,
married in the yards, and whose heir had recently
been born there. And so forth.
I got into trouble at the Y. W. C. A. for the first
time that night. We had forgotten to ask permission
to be out after ten, and it was after eleven by the time
we got back. The door girl let us in, but took our
names, and we were reported next day. I was let off
with a reprimand from the secretary, but Lolly had a
stormy time of it with this unpleasant personage, upon
whom, I am happy to say, she never failed to inflict
deserved punishment. It seems Lolly was an old of
fender, and she was accused of " leading Miss As-
cough astray." I, by the way, was now in high favor
with the secretary, though I never liked her, and I
never forgave her for that first day. Also I had seen
many girls turned away, sometimes because they did
not have the money to pay in advance, and sometimes
because they had no references. My heart used to
go out to them, as with drooping shoulders these for
lorn little waifs who had applied for shelter were
turned from the very doors that should have opened
That night as we felt our way in the dark through
the unlighted halls to our rooms, Lolly, swearing audi
bly and picturesquely, said she was " darned tired "
of this " old pious prison," and as she now had all
the " dope " she wanted upon the place, she was going
to get out, and she asked me to go with her. I said
that I would.
I WORKED for five weeks in the stock-yards be
fore I could make up the deficit in my hundred
dollars caused by those first three weeks of idleness
and the consequent expenses of my board. I am very
bad at figures. I still calculate with my fingers.
Every night, however, I counted my little hoard, and
I had it all reckoned up on paper how soon I would
have that hundred intact again.
Out of my fifteen a week I had to allow five dol
lars for my board, and so much for luncheon, car
fare, and the little articles I added to my wardrobe.
I used about eight dollars a week on myself and I
sent home two. That left me only five a week, and
as I had used twenty-five of the hundred before I got
my position, it took me over five weeks to make it up.
As each week my little pile grew larger, the more ex
cited I became in anticipation of that moment when
I could write!
I would lie awake composing the wonderful letter
that would accompany that hundred dollars, but when
the sixth Saturday (pay-day) actually came, and I
had at last the money, I found myself unable to pen
the glowing letter of my dreams. This was the letter
I finally sent, and unless he read between the lines,
goodness knows it was a model of businesslike brevity,
showing the undoubted influence of the Smith & Co.
approved type of correspondence :
Y. W. C. A.
Chicago, 111., Aug. 8-19.
Roger Avery Hamilton, Esq.
I send you herewith inclosed the sum of one hundred dol
lars, being in full the amount recently lent by you to,
Very faithfully yours,
It was with a bursting heart that I folded that cold
and brief epistle. Then I laid it on top of that elo
quent pile of bills " dirty money." Just before I
did up the package, the ache within me grew so in
tense that I wrote on the envelop:
" Please come to see me now."
I made a tight little package of the money and let
ter, and I sent it off by registered mail. I knew noth
ing about post-office orders or checks. So the money
went to him just like that.
Now my life really changed. On the surface things
went on as ever. I progressed with my type-writing.
I " made good " at the office. The routine of the
daily work in the yards was brightened by various
little humorous incidents that occurred there. For
instance, one of the firm, a darling old man of seventy,
took a great fancy to me, and every day he would
come down the main aisle of the office with a fresh
flower in his hand, and lay it on my desk as he passed.
Not bad for an old "pork-packer," was it? Every
one teased me about him, and so did he himself. He
called me " black-eyes," and said I was his " girl."
Other men gave me flowers, too, but I prized that one
of Mr. Smith s more than the others. Also I had
enough candy given to me, upon my word, to feed me,
and I could have " gone out " every night in the week,
had I wanted to; but, as I have said, this was only
part of my life now my outer life. The life that
I conjured up within me was about to come to reality,
and no one knew anything about it, not even Lolly.
She had been very much engaged in " educating "
Hermann, who was madly in love with her. Lolly
accepted his adoration with amused delight. She
considered him a " character," but she never took him
As the days passed away, the fever within me never
waned. Though I went about my work as ever, my
mind was away, and I was like one whose ear is to
the ground, waiting, waiting.
But he did not come, and the weeks rolled away,
and two months passed.
One night a man from Lolly s home came to call
upon her. His name was Marshall Chambers. He
was one of those big-shouldered, smooth-faced, ath
letic-looking men who make a powerful impression
upon girls. According to Lolly, he was a wealthy
banker whom she had known during her father s ad
ministration as mayor of her home town. I knew
as soon as I saw them together that my poor Lolly
was deeply in love with him, and I felt at once a sense
of overwhelming antagonism and dislike toward him.
I cannot explain this, for he was specially attentive to
me, and although Lolly and he had not seen each other
for some time, he insisted that I should accompany
them to dinner at R s.
When we went to our rooms to dress, Lolly asked
me what I thought of this man, and I said :
" I like Hermann better. He s honest."
That remark in ordinary circumstances would have
sent Lolly into one of her merry peals of laughter,
she always laughed about Hermann, but she gave
me a queer look now, her cigarette suspended in her
hand. Her face was flushed, and her eyes were so
brilliant they looked like turquoises.
" You re dead right," she said solemnly.
But a moment later she was her old self again. I
was putting on a little white dress when Lolly swung
me round and examined me.
" Here, you can t go to R s in duds like these,"
she said. " Wait a minute."
She disappeared into her own room, and came back
with her arms full of dresses; Lolly had beautiful
clothes. I suppose her tailored suits would have
looked ludicrous, as she was larger than I, but
a little cream-colored chiffon frock, trimmed with pearl
1 66 ME
beads, was very becoming to me. She also lent me
an evening cap, and a red rose (artificial) for my
" Now look at yourself," said she, " and after this
don t let me catch you mooning in your room at night.
Get out and show yourself. You 11 only be young
Lolly was in blue, the color of her eyes, and she
looked, as always, " stunning." Beside her, I m
afraid, I appeared very insignificant, for Lolly was a
real beauty. I never went anywhere with her but
people men and women, too would stare at her,
and turn around for. a second look. People stared at
me, too, but in a different sort of way, as if I inter
ested them or they were puzzled to know my nation
ality. I would have given anything to look less for
eign. My darkness marked and crushed me, I who
loved blondness like the sun.
Mr. Chambers did everything very splendidly. He
had a carriage to take us to dinner, and he was ex
tremely gallant in his manner to both Lolly and me,
just as attentive, I thought wistfully, as if we were
society girls, and not poor girls of the Y. W. C. A.
Lolly and he talked a good deal in an undertone, and
although they did not ignore me, I was left out of most
of their conversation. I did not mind this. I was
happy to lean back in that carriage, and indulge in my
own fine dreams.
I should have enjoyed the dinner more if our host
had been some one other than this man Chambers. He
made me uncomfortable and secretly angry by looking
at me in a meaning sort of way when Lolly did not
see him. I felt as if he were trying to establish some
sort of intimacy with me behind Lolly s back. He
sat beside Lolly, and I opposite them, and he would
lean back in his seat, inclined toward Lolly, and over
her shoulder he would make his bold eyes at me. No,
I did not like that man, and I avoided his glances as
much as I could. But Lolly, my poor Lolly, seemed
infatuated with him, and all her pretty banter and
chaff had departed. She scarcely ate anything, but
played nervously with her food, and she would look
at him in such a way that I wanted both to shake her
and to cry for her.
But this is my story, not Lolly s, though hers per
haps would make a better tale than mine.
Chambers said he could tell one s fortune from one s
palm, and that he would like to see mine. Lolly said :
" Nora carries her fortune in her head."
" And you," I said, " in your face."
He reached over the table for my hands, and Lolly
" Let him, Nora. Sometimes he makes pretty good
Chambers began to reel off a fine fairy-story, which
he said was to be my fortune. We were all laughing,
Lolly leaning over, and making merry and mocking
interpolations, and I eagerly drinking in every word,
1 68 ME
and, though I laughed, believing most of it, when sud
denly I had a queer, nervous feeling that some one
other than ourselves was listening to us and was watch
ing my face. There is something in telepathy. I was
afraid to look up, and my heart began to beat in a
frightened way, for I knew, even before I had turned
my head, that he was somewhere there in the room
with us. And then I saw him directly behind Mar
shall Chambers. Their chairs, back to back, were
almost touching, but he had turned about in his seat, so
that he was looking directly at me, and I shall never
forget the expression of his face. It was as though
he had made some discovery that aroused both his
amusement and contempt.
What had I done that he should look at me like that ?
I wanted to go to him, to beg him to speak to me ; but
some one with him a woman, I think, for curiously
enough, I was capable of seeing only him, and noted
not at all his companions said something to him,
and he moved his chair till his back was turned toward
me. I felt like some dumb thing unjustly punished.
"What s the matter, Nora? You look as if you
had seen a ghost."
I suppose my face had blanched, for I was shiver
ing, and I wanted to cover my face with my hands
and to cry and cry.
" Oh, Lolly," I said, " I want to go home! "
Chambers took me by the arm, and we passed, like
people in a dream, between the tables ah ! past where
he was sitting, and out into the street and then home !
The following morning I was passing languidly by
the secretary s desk, in the main office, when she called
to me :
" Miss Ascough, you will have to ask your men
visitors to call earlier in the evening if they wish to
see you. You know our rules."
" My men visitors ? " I repeated stupidly.
"Yes," she returned sharply; "a gentleman called
here last night at nearly nine-thirty. Of course we
refused to permit him to see you."
" Oh," I said faintly, for before I had looked at
that little card I knew who had at last come to see me.
I went out with his card held blindly in my hand, and
all that day, whenever my work paused or slackened,
I found myself vaguely wondering why he had called
so late, and I felt a dumb sense of helpless rage to
ward that hateful secretary who had turned him away.
LOLLY came flying into my room just a little while
before eight that evening, with her cheeks red
and her eyes sparkling. She had dined down town
with Marshall Chambers, and they had come back to
get me to go to the theater with them.
" Hurry up, Nora ! " she cried. " Get dressed !
Marshall has seats for Sothern and Harned in The
Sunken Bell. "
Up to this time I had never been inside a theater.
I had come to America in late May. It was now the
beginning of September, and the theaters were just
opening. Of course I had never been to a play of
any sort at home, except some little church affairs.
So, unhappy as I was, I dressed in Lolly s pretty
chiffon dress, and we went down to join Mr. Cham
bers, who was waiting for us in the parlor. On the
way down in the elevator, Lolly had handed me a
number of advertisements of rooms and flats that she
had cut from the papers, and while she was drawing
on her gloves in the lower hall and I was glancing
through these, a page called my name, and said a gen
tleman was waiting for me inside.
As I went into the parlor, Marshall Chambers stood
up, held out his hand, and said something to me; but
I scarcely saw him, and I know I did not answer him.
I saw, in fact, nothing in the world save Roger Ham
ilton, who had come across the room to me, and, with
an odd air almost of proprietorship, had taken me
quietly from Chambers.
Without saying a word to each other, we sat for
some time in the Y. W. C. A., with girls coming and
going. I glanced only once at his face, and then I
looked away, for I could not bear his expression. It
was like that of the previous night. It was as if he
examined me critically, cruelly, not only my face, but
even my clothes and my gloved hands. Presently he
said in a low voice:
" There are too many people here. We shall have
to go out somewhere."
I found myself walking with him down Michigan
Avenue. We said nothing as we walked, but pres
ently we came to a little park, and found a bench
facing the lake, and there we sat, I staring out at the
water, and he looking at me. After a while he said:
" Who was your friend of last night?"
" Her name is Lolly Hope."
" I mean the man."
" He is her friend," I said. " I never met him till
It was pretty dark, and I could not see his face, but
insensibly I felt him lean toward me to look at mine ;
and then he said in a low voice:
"Are you sure of that?"
" Why, yes," I said. " I don t know the man at
all. Did you think that I did? " He did not answer
me, and I added, " Was it because of him you did not
speak to me last night ? "
" I did bow to you," he said, and then added re
luctantly, " though I can t say I admired the looks of
" I did n t even see the people with you, and it
would n t have made any difference to me who they
He put his arm along the back of the bench behind
me, but not touching me.
" Where did you get the clothes you had on the
dress you re wearing now?" he asked in a strained
" Lolly lent them to me," I said. " She said mine
were not fine enough."
After a pause he moved nearer to me, and I thought
he was going to put his arm about me, but he did not.
He said in a low voice :
* You can have all the fine clothes you want."
"I wish I could," I returned, sighing; "but one
can t dress very beautifully on the salary I get."
" What do you get ? " he asked, and I told him.
Then he wanted me to tell him all about myself
just what I had been doing, whom I had met, what
men, and to leave out nothing. I don t know why,
but he seemed to think something extraordinary had
happened to me, for he repeated several times:
" Tell me everything, every detail. I want to
So I did.
I told him of the Y. W. C. A. woman who had
met me; of my failure with the newspaper offices; of
my long hunt for work; of the insults and propositions
men had made to me; of my work at the yards; and of
O Brien, my " boss," who had taken me on trust and
had been so good to me.
He never interrupted me once, nor asked me a single
question, but let me tell him everything in my own
way. Then when I was through, he took his arm
down, put his hands together, and leaned over, with
his elbows on his knees, staring out before him. After
a while he said :
" Do you mean to tell me you like living at this
er Y. W. C. A. ? "
" And you are contented to work at the Union Stock
" No, I don t say that; but it s a stepping-stone to
better things, don t you see? It s a living for me for
the present, and perhaps by and by I 11 sell some of
my poems and stories, and then I 11 be able to leave
He turned sharply in his seat, and I felt him staring
" When on earth do you get time to write, if you
work all day from nine till five-thirty? "
" Sometimes I get up very early," I said, " at five
or six, and then I write a bit; and unless the girls
bother me at night, I have a chance then, too, though
I wish the lights did n t go out at ten."
" But you will kill yourself working in that way."
" No, I won t," I declared eagerly. " I m awfully
strong, and, then, writing isn t work, don t you see?
It s a real pleasure, after what I Ve had to do all day,
really it is, a sort of balm almost."
" But you can t keep that up. I don t want you to.
I want you to go to school, to begin all over again.
If you can, you must forget these days. I want you
to blot them out from your mind altogether."
I thought of that question he had asked me on the
train when I had read to him my poem : " Would n t
you like to go to school ? " Now, indeed, neither my
pride nor my vanity was piqued. I could even smile
at his tone of authority. He was so sure I would
obey him; but I was not going to let him do anything
in the world for me unless he could say to me what
I was able to say to him.
" Well?" after a moment he prompted me.
" No, Mr. Hamilton," I said, " I am not going to
school. I cannot afford to."
" I will send you," he said.
:< You cannot do that if I refuse to go."
" Why should you refuse? " he said.
" Because it would cost you money dirty money,"
" Nonsense ! " He said that angrily now. " I
want you to go."
" Thank you ; but, nevertheless, I am not going."
He sat up stiffly, and I could feel his frown upon
me. He shot out his words at me as if he wished
each one to hit me hard :
" You are an ignorant, untrained, undisciplined girl.
If you wish to accomplish the big things you plan, you
will have to be educated. Here is your chance."
" I m sorry, but I 11 have to get along the best way
" You are stubborn, pig-headed, foolish. Don t
you want to be educated ? Are you satisfied with your
present illiterate condition?"
" I can t afford to be," I said.
" But if I am willing "
I broke in:
" I took nearly six weeks to earn the money to pay
you back. I told you I d never take another cent
from you, and I never will."
" Because I want you to know that I care nothing,
nothing at all nothing, nothing, about your money,
that you said every one else wanted. / only care for
you. I do."
I had run along headlong with my speech, and now
I was afraid of what I had said.
He did not say a word after that, and presently I
added shakily :
" Don t you see that I can t let you help me again
unless you care for me as I do for you? Don t you
He poked at the gravel with his cane, and after a
moment he said very gently :
" I see that you are a very foolish little girl."
" You mean because I care for you? " I asked.
" Because you ve made yourself believe you do,"
"I do," I said earnestly. "I haven t thought of
anything else except you."
" Nonsense ! You must n t get sentimental about
me. Let s talk of something else. Have you been
writing anything lately ? "
I told him of the stories I was writing about my
mother s land, and he said:
" But you Ve never been there, child."
" I know," I said ; " but, then, I have an instinctive
feeling about that country. A blind man can find his
way over paths that he intuitively feels. And so with
me. I feel as if I knew everything about that land,
and when I sit down to write why, things just
come pouring to me, and I can write anything then."
I could feel his slow smile, and then he said :
" I believe you can. I don t doubt that you will
accomplish all that you hope to. You are a wonderful
He stood up, and held out his hand to help me, say
ing we had better be returning now, as he expected to
take a train at eleven. My heart sank to think that
his visit was to be so short, and I felt a passionate re
gret that there was nothing I could do or say that
would keep him longer.
As we were walking down the avenue, he put the
hand nearest me behind his back, and with the other
swung his cane slightly. He seemed to be thinking
all the time.
I asked him whether he was going to come and see
me again, and he said quickly :
" If you do what I tell you."
"You mean about the school?" I asked.
" No-o. We ll let that go for the present; but
you ve got to get out of both that er institution "
"The Y. W. C. A.?" I queried, surprised.
" Yes, your precious Y. W. C. A."
He was talking in a low and rather guarded voice,
as if anxious that no one passing should hear us.
" I want you to get bright, pretty rooms. You 11
feel better and work better in attractive surroundings."
" I did intend to move, anyway," I said. " Lolly
and I were planning to look for rooms to-morrow."
He said quickly:
" I would n t go with her. Get a place of your
" Well, but, you see, together we can get a better
room for less money," I explained.
He made an impatient sound, as if the discussion
of expense provoked him.
" Get as nice a place as you can, child," he said,
and added growlingly, "If you don t, I 11 not come to
see you at all."
" All right," I said; " I 11 get a nice place."
" And now about your position "
" It s not bad," I asseverated. " Fred s awfully
good to me."
"Yes; he s my boss Fred O Brien."
"You call him Fred?"
" Yes ; every one does at the yards."
" Humph ! I think it would be an excellent plan
for you to leave those yards just about as expedi-
tiously as you can."
" But I can t. Why, I might not be able to get an
other position. Just look how I tramped about for
weeks before I got that."
He stopped abruptly in the street.
" Don t you know, if you stay in a place like that,
every bit of poetry and er charm and fineness
in you, and every other worth-while quality that you
possess, will be literally beaten out of you? Why,
that is no place for a girl like you. Now you get a
pretty room several, if you wish and then go to
work and write write your poetry and stories and
anything you want."
" But, Mr. Hamilton, I can t afford to do that."
He switched his cane with a sort of savage impa
" Nonsense ! " he said. " You can afford to have
anything you want. I 11 give you anything any
thing you want."
He repeated this sweepingly, almost angrily, and
after a moment I said :
" Well, why should you do this for me? "
I was saying to myself that I would let him do
anything for me if he did it because he cared for me.
If not, I could take nothing from him. I waited in
a sort of agony for his answer. It came slowly, as if
he were carefully choosing his words :
" I want to do it," he said, " because I am interested
in you; because it pleases me to help a girl like you;
because I believe you are, as I have said, a wonderful
girl, an exceptionally gifted girl, and I want to give
you a chance to prove it."
" Oh ! " I tried to speak lightly, but I wanted to sob.
His belief in my talent gave me no pride. I vastly pre
ferred him to care for me personally. " Thank you,"
I said, " but I can t let you give me a room and sup
port me any more than I can let you send me to
We had now reached the Y. W. C. A. I could see
the door girl watching us through the glass. It was
after ten, and I had to go in. I held out my hand,
and he took it reluctantly and immediately let it go.
His manner plainly showed that I had offended him.
" Don t think," I said, " because I can t let you help
me that I m not grateful to you, for I am."
" Gratitude be damned ! " he said.
Estelle and I had a little stock of candles, and when
the lights went out before we were in bed, we used
to light one. I had trouble finding one in the dark
that night, and I tripped over the rocking-chair and
hurt my ankle. Estelle sat up in petulant wrath.
" Say, what s biting you lately, anyhow ? " she de
manded. "Getting gay in your old age, are you?"
" You shut up ! " I said crossly, nursing my ankle.
" I believe you hide those candles, anyway."
" I sure do," retorted Estelle. "If you think I m
going to let your swell friend burn my little glimmers,
you ve got one more guess coming."
By my "swell friend" she meant Lolly.
She got out of bed, however, felt under the bureau,
and produced and lighted a candle. Then she exam
ined and rubbed my ankle, and, grumbling and mut
tering things about Lolly, helped me undress and into
bed. When I supposed she had dropped off asleep,
she sat up suddenly in bed.
" Say, I d like to ask you something. Have you
got a steady?" she said.
"No, Estelle; I wish I had," I replied mournfully.
" Well," said Estelle, " you sure are going the way
about nit to get one. You let them swell guys alone
that come nosing around you. Say, do you know /
thought you were in for a nice, steady fellow
when I seen Pop-eyes " Pop-eyes was her term for
Hermann " hanging round here. Then I seen Miss
Hope " with a sneer " had cut you out. Say, I d
a like to have handed her one for that. .Who was
the swell took you out last night ? "
" His name s Chambers. He s Lolly s friend."
" And who was the man to see you to-night ?
Looked to me as if he were stuck on you."
I sat up in bed excitedly.
"Oh, Estelle, did it?"
" Humph ! I was right there next to you, on the
next sofa with Albert, but, gee ! you did n t see noth
ing but him, and he was looking at you like he d eat
you up if you give him half a chance."
" I gave him a chance all right," I said mourn
"And nothing doing?" asked Estelle, sympathet
" No nothing doing, Estelle," I said.
"Well, what do you care?" said my room-mate,
determined to comfort me. " Say, what does any
girl want with an old grand-pop like him, anyway?"
I laughed, I don t know why. Somehow, I was glad
that Mr. Hamilton was old. Oh, yes, forty seems old
I DON T know whether it was the effect of Mr.
Hamilton s visit or not, but I was not so con
tented after that. Things about the Y. W. C. A. that
I had not noticed before now irritated me.
A great many unjust requirements were made of
the girls. It was not fair to make us attend certain
sermons. Goodness knows, we were tired enough
when we got home, and most of us just wanted to go to
our rooms; and if we did desire entertainment or re
laxation, we wanted to choose it for ourselves. I be
lieve some of these old rules are not enforced to-day.
Then that ten o clock rule ! Really it was a shame !
Just fancy writing feverishly upon some beautiful (to
me it was beautiful) story or poem, and all of a sud
den the lights going out! That was maddening, and
sometimes I swore as Lolly did, and I cried once when
I had reached a place in my story that I simply had
to finish, and I tried to do it in the dark.
So I was determined to move, and Lolly went about
looking for rooms for us. I told her I d like any
thing she got.
Meanwhile life in the yards began to " get upon my
nerves." I never before knew that I had nerves; but
I knew it now. No one, not even a girl of the
abounding health and spirits I then enjoyed, could
work eight hours a day at a type-writer and two or
three hours writing at night, and be in love besides,
and not feel some sort of strain.
And I was in love. I don t suppose any girl was
ever more utterly and hopelessly in love than I was
then. No matter what I was doing or where I was,
even when I wrote my stories, he was always back
there in my mind. It was almost as though he had
Loving is, I suppose, a sort of bliss. One can get
a certain amount of real joy and excitement out of
loving; but it s pretty woeful when one must love
alone, and that was my case. You see, though I
knew I had made a kind of impression upon Mr. Ham
ilton, or, as he himself put it, he was " interested " in
me, still he certainly was not in love with me, and I
had little or no hope now of making him care for me.
I realized that he belonged to a different social
sphere. He was a rich, powerful man, of one of the
greatest families in America, and I I was a work
ing-girl, a stenographer of the stock-yards. Only in
novels or a few sensational newspaper stories did mil
lionaires fall in love with and marry poor, ignorant
working-girls, and then the working-girl was sure to
be a beauty. I was not a beauty. Some people said
I was pretty, but I don t think I was even that. I had
simply the fresh prettiness that goes hand in hand
1 84 ME
with youth, and youth gallops away from us like a race
horse, eager to reach the final goal. No, I was not
pretty. I looked odd, and when I began to wear fine
clothes, I must have appeared very well, for I had all
sorts of compliments paid to me. I was told that I
looked picturesque, interesting, fascinating, distin
guished, lovely, and even more flattering things that
were not true. It showed what clothes will do.
I was not, however, wearing fine clothes at this
time. My clothes were of the simplest sailor shirt
waist, navy-blue cloth skirt, and a blue sailor hat with
a rolled-up brim. That was how I dressed until the
night Lolly lent me some of her finery.
My only hope lay in pulling myself up by my tal
ent. If I achieved fame, that, perhaps, I felt, would
put me on a level with this man. But fame seemed
as elusive and as far away as the stars above me.
Then, his insistence that I should be educated and
his statement that I was illiterate made me pause in
my thought to take reckoning of myself. If, indeed,
my ignorance was so patent that it was revealed in my
mere speech, how, then, could I hope to achieve any
thing? I felt very badly about that, and when I read
over some of my beloved poems, instead of their giv
ing me the former pride and delight, I felt, instead, a
deep-seated grief and dissatisfaction, so that I tore
them up, and then wept just as if I had destroyed some
Yes, I was very unhappy. I kept at my work, doing
it efficiently; but the place now appeared hideous and
abhorrent to me, and every day I asked myself :
" How much longer can I bear it?"
I remember leaving my desk one day, going to the
girls dressing-room, and just sitting down alone and
crying, without knowing just what I was crying about
- I who cried so little !
I suppose things would have gone from bad to
worse for me but for two things that happened to dis
We moved, Lolly and I. I can t say that our rooms
were as attractive and clean-looking as the ones we
had at the Y. W. C. A., and of course they cost more.
Still, they were not bad. We had two small rooms.
Originally one large room, a partition had made it into
two. By putting a couch in the outer room, we made
a sitting-room, and were allowed to have our com
pany there. Whichever one was up the last with com
pany was to sleep on the couch.
Lolly made the rooms very attractive by putting
pretty covers over the couch and table, and college
flags that some men gave her on the wall, with a lot
of pictures and photographs. The place looked very
cozy, especially at night, but somehow I missed the
cleanly order of my room of the Y. W. C. A.
I wrote a letter to Mr. Hamilton and gave him our
new address. I could not resist telling him that I
had been very unhappy; that I realized he was right,
and that I could never go very far when my equipment
in life was so pitifully small. However, I added hope
fully that I intended to read a lot that winter, and that
Lolly and I were going to join the library. I could
take a book with me to work. There were many in
tervals during the day when I could read if I wished
to ; in the luncheon hour, for instance, and on the cars
going to and from work. One could always snatch a
moment. Did n t he think I would improve myself
much by reading?
He did not answer me, but a few days later three
large boxes of books came to the house for me.
Lolly and I were overjoyed. We had a great time
getting shelves for the books and setting them up. We
had Balzac, Dumas, Flaubert, Gautier, Maupassant,
Carlyle s " French Revolution," and the standard
works of the English authors. Also we had the En
cyclopaedia Britannica. I was so happy about those
books that my depression dropped from me in a mo
ment. I felt that if my little arms could have em
braced the world, I should have encircled it. It was
not merely the delight of possessing books for the
first time in my life, but because he had chosen and
sent them to me.
The second thing that came up to divert me from
a tendency to melancholia at this time happened at the
yards immediately after that.
One day O Brien did not come to work till about
five in the afternoon. As soon as he came in I no
ticed that there was something wrong with him. His
hat was tipped over one eye, and his mouth had a
crooked slant as he moved his cigar from side to side.
Without noticing me, he took his seat, and slightly
turned his back toward me. I chanced just then to
catch Hermann s eye. He made a sign to me. I
could not understand at first what he meant till he
lifted an empty glass from his desk, held it to his
lips, and then pretended to drain it. Then I knew :
Fred had been drinking.
I suppose I ought not to have spoken to a man in
his condition, but I think for the first time in my life
there swept over me a great wave of maternal feeling
toward this big uncouth boy who had been so good to
me. I said :
He turned around slightly, and looked at me through
bleary eyes. His lips were dirty and stained with
tobacco, and the odor that came from him made me
feel ill. His voice, however, was steady, and he had
it under control.
" Nora," he said, " I m soused."
" You d better go home," I whispered, for I was
afraid he would get into trouble if one of the firm
were to see him. " I 11 finish your work for you. I
know just how."
" I m not going home till you do," said Fred.
" I m going with you. You ll take care of me, won t
" O Fred," I said, " please do go home ! "
" I tell you I m going with you. I want to tell you
all about myself. I never told you before. Got to
tell you to-night."
" I d rather hear it to-morrow night."
" Don t care what you d rather. I m going to tell
you to-night," persisted Fred, with the irritable quer-
ulousness of a child.
" But I go out on the bus with the girls," I said.
" And that leaves at 5 130."
"Tha"s true," said Fred. "Tell you what I ll
do. I 11 start off now, and I 11 meet you at the end
of the yards when the bus comes out. See? "
I nodded. Fred settled his hat more crookedly on
his head, and, with an unlighted cigar twisting loosely
in his mouth, went staggering down the aisle.
Hermann came over to my desk, and when I told
him what Fred had said, he advised me to slip off the
bus quickly and make a run for the nearest car. He
said if Fred "got a grip" on me, he d never let go
" till he had sobered up."
I asked Hermann how long that would take, and
he said :
" Well, sometimes he goes on a long drunk, for
weeks at a time. It depends on who is with him. If
he can get any one to drink with him, he 11 keep on
and on, once he s started. Once a prize-fighter just
got a hold of him and punched him into sensibility,
and he did n t touch a drop for a year afterward. He
can, if he tries, sober up in a few hours. He goes
months without touching a thing, and then all of a
sudden he reverts."
Hermann then told me that Fred had once been jilted
by a girl in Milwaukee, and that had started him to
As the bus took us through the yards, I thought
how terrible and sad it was for a man who was in
such a condition to be left to his own devices. It was
just as if one left a helpless baby to mind himself,
or threw a poor sick person out upon the street, ex
pecting him to be cured without treatment. What was
drink but a disease, anyhow? And I said to myself
that I wished I were a prize-fighter. Fred had been
good to me. I come of a race, on my mother s side,
which does not easily forget kindnesses, and somehow
I could think of nothing save how Fred had treated
me that first day, and had given me a chance when no
one else would.
So when I stepped from the bus, and Fred came
lurching toward me, I simply had not the heart to
break away from him. All the girls were watching
us, and some of the men tried to draw Fred aside by
He became wildly excited, and said he could " lick
any son of a gun in the Union Stock- Yards."
One of the men told me to " beat it " while they
took care of Fred; but Fred did look so helpless and
so inexpressibly childish as he cried out his defiance,
and as I was mortally afraid that they might get fight-
ing among themselves, and, anyhow, though drunk,
he was not offensive, I said :
" I 11 take him home. I m not afraid of him."
Some of them laughed, and some protested ; but I
did n t care anything about any of them except Fred,
and I helped him on an open car that went near our
I took him to our rooms, and there Lolly tried to
sober him by making him black coffee, and Hermann,
who came, too, he had kept right up with Fred and
me, said he d take care of Fred while Lolly and I
got our dinner. We took our meals out.
When we got back, it was about eight then,
there was Fred sitting on the door-step. Hermann
was trying to drag him to his feet, but he would n t
move, and he kept saying : " Nora s going to take
care of me. S-she s m stenographer, you know."
Hermann explained that our landlady had ordered
them out, as Fred had begun to sing after we went.
Hermann wanted Lolly and me to go into the house,
and he said he d take care of Fred, even if he had
to " land him in a cell " to do it. He said that in
such a nasty way that poor Fred began to cry that he
had n t a friend in the world, and that made me feel
so badly that I told him that I was his friend, and
that I d take good care that Hermann did n t put him
in a cell. Then I had an inspiration.
I suggested that we all take a long street-car ride
and that the open air might clear his head, and if it
did n t, we could get off at some park and walk around.
Fred exclaimed that walking was the one thing that
always " woke " him up.
" Not for me ! " and went into the house.
So Hermann and I, with Fred between us, made for
the nearest car. I got in first, then Fred, and then
as Hermann was getting on, Fred seized his hat and
threw it out into the road. A wind caught it, and
Hermann had to chase after it. While he was doing
this, Fred pulled the bell-rope, and the car started.
We rode to the end of the line, Fred behaving very
well. Here we got off, and we went into the park.
I asked Fred how he was feeling, and he said " tip
top," and that he would be all right after walking
about a bit.
At first Fred was garrulous in a wandering sort of
way, and he tried to tell me about the girl who had
jilted him. He said he had never liked a girl since
except me, and then he pulled himself up abruptly and
" But don t think I m stuck on you, because I ain t.
I got stuck on one girl in my life, and that was enough
"Of course you re not," I said soothingly, " and
I m not stuck on you, either. We re just good pals,
aren t we?"
" Best ever," said Fred, drowsily.
Then for a long time my! it seemed hours and
hours we just tramped about the park. Curiously
enough, I did n t feel a bit tired ; but by and by I
could tell by the way he walked that Fred was just
about ready to drop from exhaustion. He had been
up drinking all the previous night and all the day. So
presently I found a bench under a big tree, and I tried
to make him sit down ; but nothing would do but that
he must lie down at full length on the bench, with his
head on my lap. He dropped off almost immediately
into a sound sleep or stupor, breathing heavily and
I don t know how long we were there. I grew
numb with the weight of his heavy head upon my
knee. A policeman came along and asked me what
we were doing. I told him truthfully that Fred had
been drinking, and was now asleep, and I asked him,
please not to wake him. He called Fred my " man,"
and said we could stay there. We did stay there.
Nothing I believe could have awakened Fred. As for
me, well, I made up my mind that I was " in for it."
I thought of trying to go to sleep with my head against
the back of the seat, but it was too low. So I had to
sit up straight.
It was a still, warm night in September, with
scarcely a breeze stirring. I could see the giant
branches of the trees on all sides of us. They shot
up like ghostly sentinels. Even the whispering leaves
seemed scarcely to stir.
I saw the stars in a wide silver sky, staring and
winking down upon us all through that long night.
I looked up at them, and thought of my father, and
I thought of that great ancestor of mine who had
been an astronomer, and had given to the world some
of its chief knowledge of the heavens above us. It
would be strange, I whimsically thought, if somewhere
up there among the stars, he was peering down at me
now on this microscopic earth; for it was microscopic
in the great scheme of the universe, my father had
To sit up all night long in a quiet, beautiful park,
under a star-spotted sky, with a drunken man asleep
on your lap, after all, that is not the worst of fates.
7 know, because I have done it, and I tell you there
have been less happy nights than that in my life.
As we rush along in the whirligig of life, we girls
who must work so hard for our daily bread, we get
so little time in which to think. For one cannot think
save disjointedly, while working. Now I had a long
chance for all my thoughts, and they came crowding
upon me. I thought of my little brothers and sisters,
and I wistfully longed that I might see them again
while they were still little. I thought of my sister
Marion, whom I had left in Boston. Had she fared
as well as I ? She had written me two or three times,
and her letters were cheerful enough, but just as I
told her in my letters nothing of my struggles, so she
told me nothing of hers. Yet I read between the
lines, and I knew it made my heart ache, that
knowledge that Marion was having an even more
grim combat with Fate than I; I was better equipped
than she to earn a living. For one s mere physical
beauty is, after all, a poor and dangerous asset. And
Marion was earning her living by her beauty. She
was a professional model, getting fifty cents an hour.
I thought of other sisters, one of whom had passed
through a tragic experience, and another the eldest,
a girl with more real talent than I who had been
a pitiful invalid all her days. She is dead now, that
dear big sister of mine, and a monument marks her
grave in commemoration of work she did for my
mother s country.
It seemed as if our heritage had been all struggle.
None of us had yet attained what the world calls suc
cess. We were all straining and leaping up frantically
at the stars of our ancestor; but they still stared
aloofly at us, like the impenetrable Sphinx.
It seemed a great pity that I was not, after all, to
be the savior of the family, and that my dreams of
the fame and fortune that not alone should lift me up,
but all my people, were built upon a substance as
shifting as sand and as shadowy as mist. For, if
what Mr. Hamilton had said was true, there was,
alas ! no hope in me. Perhaps I was doomed to be
the wife of a man like the fat, blond clerk at the yards,
or even of Fred. To think now of Mr. Hamilton as
a possible husband was to do so with a cynical jeer
at my own past ingenuousness. Since that visit of
his, I had been awakened, as it were, to the clear
knowledge that this man could never be to me what I
had so fondly dreamed. Well!
I don t know when the stars began to fade. They
just seemed to wink out one by one in the sky, and it
grew gray and haggard, as it does just before the
dawn. Even in the dark the birds began to call to
one another, and when the first pale streak from the
slowly rising sun crept stealthily out of the east, these
winged little creatures dropped to earth in search of
food, and a small, soft, inquiring-eyed squirrel jumped
right in the path before me, and stood with uplifted
tail and pricked-up head, as if to question my pres
Perhaps it was the whistling chatter of the birds
that awoke Fred. He said I called to him, but he
He was lying on his back, his head upturned on my
lap, and suddenly he opened his eyes and stared up
at me. Then slowly he sat up, and he leaned for
ward on the bench and covered his face with his
hands. I thought he was crying, but presently he said
to me in a low, husky voice :
" How long have we been here ? " and I said :
"All night, Fred."
" Nora Ascough, you re a dead-game sport ! " he
IT may sound strange, but I really felt very little
the worse for that long night s vigil. I went
home, took a cold bath, had breakfast in a near-by
restaurant (one of those, ten, twenty, twenty-five-cent
places), and went to work just the same as ever.
What is more, I had a specially hard day at the yards,
for of course Fred was not there, and I had to do a
good part of his work.
Frank Hermann wanted to know just how I got
away from Fred, and I told him just what had hap
pened. He said admiringly :
" Gee ! you re one corker, Nora ! "
" Fred gave me my job," I said, but I may as well
add that I felt rather proud. Not every girl can be
called a " dead-game sport " and a " corker."
Hermann said he had told the men about the place
who had seen me go home with Fred that he had
joined us, and later had himself taken Fred home. I
felt grateful to Hermann for that. Personally I
cared very little what these stock-yard people thought
of me. Still it was good of Frank to undertake to
protect me. He was a " good sort," I must say.
One of the girls in the bus said as we were going
home that evening that I looked " fagged out," so I
suppose I had begun to show the effects of the night;
but I was not aware of any great fatigue until I got
on the street car. All the seats were taken, and I
had to stand in a crush all the way home, holding to a
strap. I was glad enough to get home, I can tell you.
I thought Lolly was in when I saw the light in my
room, and that surprised me, because her hours were
very irregular. She seldom came home for dinner,
and often worked at night.
I suppose it was the surprise and shock of finding
him there, and, of course, my real state of weakness,
but I nearly fainted when I saw Mr. Hamilton in my
room. His back was turned to the door when I went
in, as he was looking at the books he had sent me.
Then he turned around and said :
" Well, how s the wonderful girl? "
I could n t answer him, and I must have looked very
badly, for he came over to me quickly, took both
my hands, and drew me down to the couch beside him.
Then he said roughly:
" You see, you can t stand work like this. You re
all trembling and pale."
I said hysterically:
" I m trembling because you are here, and I m
pale because I m tired, and I m tired because I ve
been up all night long."
" What ! " he exclaimed.
" Oh, yes. Fred was drunk, and he wanted me
with him; so I walked with him in L Park, and
then he fell asleep on a bench with his head on my
He jumped to his feet, and looking up, I saw his
face. It was so black with astounded fury that I
thought he was going to strike me; but I was not
afraid of him. I felt only a sudden sense of wonder
and pain. His voice, though low, had a curious sound
of suppressed rage.
" Do you mean to tell me that you have been out
all night with that man ? "
I looked into his face, and then I nodded, without
speaking. He gave me a hard look, and then he
laughed shortly, brutally.
" So you are that sort, are you? " he said.
" Yes," I returned defiantly, " I am that sort.
Fred was good to me. He took me on trust. If I
had left him last night, he might have gone on drink
ing, or a policeman would have arrested him. You
can t imagine the state he was in just like a help
While I was speaking he kept staring at me. I was
so nervous that I wrenched my hands together.
And then I saw his face change, just as if it were
broken, and in place of that hard, sneering expression
there came that beautiful look that I had seen on
his face that day on the train when he had asked me if
I would like to go to school.
He came over and sat down again beside me on
the couch. He took my hands in his, and held them
as if he were warming them. Then I put my face
against his arm and began to cry. He did n t say
a word to me for the longest time. Then he asked
me very gently to tell him all over again just what
happened. So I did. He wanted to know if Fred
had said anything offensive to me, or if he had been
familiar or tried to kiss me. I said, " No ; Fred is
not that kind." If he had been, he asked me, what
would I have done? I didn t know, I told him.
" You d have permitted him to ? " he demanded
sharply, and I said I didn t think I would; but then,
of course, one could n t tell what a drunken man might
do. He said that that was the whole point of the
matter, and that I could see for myself that I had
done a very foolish and dangerous thing.
By this time he was walking up and down. After
a while, when he had gotten over his excitement and
wrath about Fred, he shook up all the sofa pillows on
the couch, and made me lie down. When I sat up,
he lifted up my feet, and put them on the couch, too.
So I had to lie down, and I was so tired and happy
that he was there, and cared, that I would have done
anything he ordered me to. Then he drew up a chair
beside me, and began to talk again on the subject of
my going to school. Goodness! I had thought that
matter was settled. But, no; he had the persistency
of a bull-dog in matters about which he cared.
He said it was nonsense for me to be expending my
strength like this, when I ought to be studying and
developing myself. He said association at my age
meant everything; that I had the impressionable tem
perament of the artist, and was bound either to be
benefited or hurt by the people with whom I asso
I let him go on, because I loved to hear him talk,
anyway, even though he was so cross about it. He
kept frowning at me, as if he were administering a
scolding, and driving the fist of his right hand into
the palm of his left in a way he had when talking.
When he was through, I said :
"If I go to school, will you come to see me, like
"Of course I 11 come to see you," he said. " Not
-like this exactly; but I shall make it a point of
coming to see you."
" Well, would I be alone with you ever?" I asked.
He said, yes, sometimes, but that I ought to know
what boarding-schools were like. I smiled up at him
at that, and he frowned down at me, and I said :
" I d rather live like this, with all my besotted ig
norance, and have you come to see me, and be with
me all alone, just like this, than go to the finest board
ing-school in the world."
He said, " Nonsense ! " but he was touched, for he
did n t say anything more about my going to school
then. Instead, he began to urge me to leave my
position at the yards. ^When I said I could n t do that,
ME 20 1
he grew really angry with me. I think he would have
gone then, for he picked up his hat; but I told him I
had n t had any dinner. Neither, of course, had he,
as I had come in about six-thirty. So then I made
him wait while I dressed, and he took me out to din
There were a number of restaurants near where I
lived, but he knew of a better place down-town; so
we went there, by carriage, instead. On the way he
asked me where I got the suit I had on, and I told
him. Then he wanted to know what I paid for it, and
I told him $12. It was a good little blue serge suit,
and I had a smart hat to go with it. In fact, I was
beginning to dress better, and more like American
girls. I asked him if he liked my suit. He said
" No," and then he added, " it s too thin." After
a moment he said:
" I m going to buy you decent clothes first of all."
I had a queer feeling that so long as I took nothing
from this man, I should retain his respect. It was
a stubborn, persistent idea. I could not efface from
my mind his bitter words of that day on the train, and
I wanted above all things to prove to him that I cared
for him only for himself and not for the things I
knew he could give me and wanted to give me. I
never knew a man so anxious to give a woman things
as was Mr. Hamilton to do things for me from the
very first. So now I told him that I could n t let him
get clothes for me. That made him angrier than
ever, and he would n t speak to me all the rest of the
way. While we were having dinner (he had ordered
the meal without reference to me at all, but just as if
he knew what I should like), he said in that rough way
he often assumed to me when he was bent upon having
his way about something:
" You want me to take you with me when I come
to Chicago, don t you to dinner, theaters, and other
places ? "
I nodded. I did want to go with him, and I was
tremendously proud to think that he wanted to take
"Very well, then," he said; "you ll have to dress
I could n t find any answer to that, but I inwardly
vowed that I would spend every cent I made above
my board on clothes.
I think he was sorry for having spoken unkindly
to me, because he ceased to urge me about the school,
my position, my lodgings, which he did not like at
all, and now my clothes. He made me tell him all
over again for the third or fourth time about last
night. He kept asking me about Fred, almost as if
he were trying to trap me with questions, till finally
I grew so hurt by some of his questions that I
would n t answer him. Then again he changed the
subject, and wanted to know what I had been writing.
That was a subject on which he knew I would chatter
fluently, and I told him how I had actually dared to
submit my latest to a mighty publication in New York.
He said he wished he were the editor. I said :
" Would you take my stories ? "
" You better believe I would," he said.
" Well, why do you suppose? "
" Because you think my stories are good or because
you like me which? "
He laughed, and told me to finish my coffee.
" You must like me some, else you would n t have
cared about Fred."
He tried to frown at me for that, but instead
laughed outright, and said if it gave me any satisfac
tion to believe that, to go on believing it.
My happiness was dashed when he said he had to
return to Richmond on the eleven o clock train. I
had been secretly hoping he would remain in Chicago
a few days. When I faltered out this hope, he said
" I can only run down here occasionally for a day
or a few hours at a time. My affairs keep me in
Little things exhilarate me and make me happy, and
little things depress me and make me sad. So while
I was light-hearted a moment before, I felt blue at the
thought of his going. I said to myself that this was
how it would always be. He would always come, and
he would always go, and I wondered if a day would
ever come when he would ask me to go with him.
He saw that I was depressed, and began to talk
" Do you know," he said we were now at the
steps of my boarding-house " that you are a very
fickle little person? "
"I? Why I m foolishly faithful," I declared.
" I say you are fickle," he asserted with mock seri
ousness. " Now I know one chap that you used to
think the world and all about, but whom you have
completely forgotten. The poor little fellow came to
me, and told me all about it himself."
I could n t think whom in the world he could mean,
and thought he was just joking, when he said :
" So you ve forgotten all about your little dog,
have you? "
" Verley ! "
" Yes, Verley."
" Oh, you ve seen him ? "
I think it gave him all kinds of satisfaction to
answer me as he did.
" I Ve got him. He s mine now ours, shall we
" Oh, did Dr. Manning give him to you? "
" Not much. He sold him to me."
" He had no right to do that. Verley was my
" But you owed Dr. Manning for your fare from
" That s true. Did he tell you that? "
" No, but I knew it, and I did n t like the idea of
your owing anything to any one except me," and
he gave me one of his warmest smiles when he said
that. " I did not see the doctor myself, but a friend
arranged the matter for me. By the way, he owes
you a considerable little sum over the amount he paid
for your fare from Boston, though we are not going
to bother collecting it. We 11 let it go."
".What do you mean?"
" It seems he considered the dog a very expensive
article. I paid him three hundred dollars for Verley,
whose high-bred ancestry I very much doubt."
" Three hundred dollars ! Oh, what a shame !
He was n t worth anything like that," I cried.
He said after a moment, during which he looked
at me very steadily:
" Yes, he was worth that to me : he was
I caught my breath, I was so happy when he said
" Now I know you do like me," I said, " else you
would n t say things like that."
" Nonsense! " he said.
"Why do you bother about me at all, then?" I
He had put the key in the lock now. He did n t
look up when he answered that, but kept twisting the
" I told you why. I m interested in you that s
all," he said.
" Is that really all ? " I asked tremulously.
" Yes," he said in a rough whisper; "that is really
all, little girl."
" Well, anyway," I said, " even if you don t love
me, I love you. You don t mind my doing that, do
I could feel his smile in the darkness of that little
porch as he said:
" No, don t stop doing that, whatever happens.
That would be a calamity hard to bear now."
It s not much to have permission to love a person,
who does n t love you, but it was a happy girl who
slept on the couch that night. Lolly came in after I
did, but I made her sleep inside. She wanted to know
why on earth I had all the pillows on the couch. I
did n t answer. How could I tell her that I wanted
them about me because he had put them there ?
In the morning, on the table, I found half a cigar
that he had smoked. I rolled it up in tissue-paper and
put it in the drawer where I kept only my most cher
NOW that the lights no longer went out at ten,
I did considerable writing at night. I had to
work, however, under difficulties, for Lolly had no
end of men callers. She had discouraged men calling
on her at the Y. W. C. A., but now that we had a
place of our own, she liked them to come. As she
gaily put it to me one day : " Beaux make great meal
And then, too, she liked men. She told me once
I was the only girl chum she had ever had, though she
had had scores of men chums, who were not neces
sarily her admirers as well.
Lolly was a born flirt. Hermann was her slave and
her shadow now, and so were several newspaper men
and editors who seemed devoted to her. There was
only one man, however, for whom she cared a " but
ton," so she told me, and that was Marshall Chambers ;
and yet, she quarreled with him constantly, and never
Lolly s men friends were kind to me, too. They
tried many devices to entrap me to go with them. It
was all I could do to work at night, for even when I
shut myself into the inner room, Lolly was always
coming in with this or that message and joke, and to
urge me to " come on out, like a good fellow, just for
to-night." Though, to do Lolly justice, many a time,
when she thought the story I was working on was
worth while, she would try to protect me from being
disturbed, and sometimes she d say :
"Clear out, the whole bunch of you! Nora s in
the throes of creation again."
However, I really don t know how I managed to
write at all there. Hermann came nearly every night
in those days, and even when Lolly was out, he used
to sit in that outer room and wait, poor fellow, for her
to return. He never reproached Lolly, though he
certainly knew she did not return his love. Hermann
just waited, with a sort of untiring German patience
and determination to win in the end. He was no
longer the gay and flippant " lady-killer." In a way
I was glad to have Hermann there at nights, for I was
afraid of Chambers. Whenever he found me alone,
he would try to make love to me, and tell me he was
mad about me and other foolish things.
I asked him once what he would do if I told Lolly.
He replied, with an ugly smile, that he guessed Lolly
would take his word before mine.
That marked him as unprincipled, and I hated him
more than ever. Of course I never told him I disliked
him. On the contrary, I was always very civil and
joking with him. It s queer, but I have a good streak
of the " Dr. Fell " feeling in me. Hermann and I
once talked over Marshall Chambers, and his efforts
to make love to me. Hermann said that that was one
of the reasons he was going to be there when he could.
He said that some day Lolly was going to find out,
and he (Hermann) wanted to be there to take care of
her when that day came. Such was his dog-like af
fection for Lolly, that, although he knew she loved
this man, he was prepared to take her when she was
done with the other.
Occasionally Fred, too, came to see me in the even
ing, but if I was writing, he would go away at once.
My writing to Fred loomed as something very impor
tant. He believed in me. Hamilton had called me a
wonderful girl, but Fred believed I was an inspired
genius. He let me copy all my stories on the type
writer at the office, and would literally steal time for
me in which to do it, making Red Top do work I
should have done.
Fred was " in bad " at the yards. It seems that his
last " drunk " had completely exasperated certain
heads of the firm, and there was a general opinion,
so Hermann told me, that Fred s head might " come
off " any day now.
I was so worried about this that I tried to warn
him. He stuck his tongue in one cheek and winked
at me. Then he said:
" Nora, I have an A No. i pull with old man Smith,
and there ain t nobody going to get my job here ; but
I m working them for the New York job. I want
to go east."
That made me feel just as badly, for, if Fred was
transferred to the New York branch, what would be
come of me? I could not go, too, and I disliked the
thought of working under another.
I felt so badly about it that I wrote to Mr. Hamil
ton, who had not been to see me for three weeks. I
suppose if I had not been working so hard, I should
have felt worse about that, because I had thought he
would be sure to come and see me again soon. But
he did not; nor did he even write to me, though I
wrote him four letters. My first letter was a very
foolish one. It was this:
I know you do not love me, but I do you.
I felt ashamed of that letter after I mailed it. So
then I sent another to say I did n t mean it, and then
I sent another immediately to say that I did.
Then, for a time, as I received no answers, I did n t
write to him, but tried to forget him in my writing.
It s a fact that I was fairly successful. Once I started
upon a story, my mind centered upon nothing else;
but as soon as I was through with it, I would begin to
think about him again, and I suppose he really was in
my mind all the time.
But to get back to Fred. I wrote Mr. Hamilton
that Fred was likely to be transferred to the New York
office, and in that event he would take me with him.
Of course it would be a fine opportunity for me, as
all the best publishing houses and magazines were in
New York, and I would have a chance to submit my
work directly to the editors. Then, too, if Fred was
placed in charge of the New York offices, it would be
much pleasanter than in the stock-yards, since there
would be merely a handful of clerks. He never an
swered that letter, either. I wondered why he never
wrote to me. His silence made me blue and then
Lolly, who by this time knew all about Mr. Hamil
ton, offered me her usual consolation and advice. The
consolation was a cigarette, but I did n t care for it at
all. Cigarettes choked me every time I tried to smoke
them, and I couldn t for the life of me understand
why she liked them. She must have smoked a dozen
packages a day, for she smoked constantly. Her
pretty fingers were nicotine-stained, and I ve known
her even in the night to get up and smoke. So I could
not accept Lolly s consolatory cigarette. I did, how
ever, follow her advice in a way. She said :
" Nora, the only way to forget one man is to in
terest yourself in another or many others."
So toward the end of the month I began to go about
with some of Lolly s friends.
They took me to dinners, theaters, and some social
and Bohemian clubs and dances. At one of these
clubs I met Margaret Kingston, a woman lawyer, who
became my lifelong friend. I don t know how old
she was, but to me then she seemed very " grown-up."
I dare say she was no more than forty or forty-five,
though her hair was gray. She was a big woman
physically, mentally, and of heart. Good-humored,
full of sentiment, and with a fine, clear brain, I could
not but be attracted to her at once. She was talented,
too. She wrote, she painted, she was a fine musician,
and a good orator. She was a socialist, and when
very much excited, declared she was also an anarchist.
With all her talents, possibly because of a certain im
practical and sort of vagabond streak in her, she was
always poor, hard up, and scraping about to make both
She came over to the table where I was sitting with
Lolly and Hermann and a newspaper man, and she
said she wanted to know the " little girl with the black
eyes." That was I. We liked each other at once,
just as Lolly and I had liked each other. I form at
tachments that way, quickly and instinctively, and I
told her much about myself, my writing, etc., so that
she became at once interested in me and invited me
to her house. She said she " kept house " with another
" old girl."
I went to see them that very next night. They had a
pretty house on G Avenue. Mrs. Kingston took
me through the place. I suppose I looked so longingly
at those lovely rooms that she asked me if I would n t
like to come and live with them. She said she needed
a couple of " roomers " to help with the expenses, and
offered me a dear little room so dainty and cozy !
for only seven dollars a week, with board. There
were to be no other boarders, so she said; but there
was a suite of two rooms and a bath in front, and these
she intended to rent without board. She laughingly
said that as these rooms were so specially fine, she d
" soak the affluent person who took them " enough to
carry our expenses. I wanted badly to move in at
once, but I was afraid Lolly would be offended, so I
said I d see about it.
On that very first visit to Mrs. Kingston, who
asked me, by the way, to call her " Margaret " she
said she felt younger when people called her that ; and
if it did n t sound so ugly, she would even like to be
called " Mag "- - 1 met Dick Lawrence, a Tribune re
One never knows why one person falls in love with
another. See how I loved Hamilton despite his
frankly telling me he was only " interested "in me.
Dick Lawrence fell in love with me, and just as Her
mann was Lolly s shadow, so Dick became mine. He
was as ambitious as I, and quite as impractical and
visionary. He wrote astonishingly clever things, but
never stuck at anything long enough to succeed finally.
He was a born wanderer, just like my father, and al
though still in his early twenties, had been well over
the world. At this time the woes of Cuba occupied
the attention of the American press, and Lawrence was
trying to get out there to investigate conditions. This
was just prior to the war.
I never really thought he would go, and was much
astonished when only two weeks after I met him he
turned up one night for " two purposes," as he said.
The first was to tell me that he loved me, and the
second to bid me good-by. Some newspaper syndicate
was sending him to Cuba. Dick asked me if I would
marry him. I liked him very much. He carried me
away with his eloquent stories of what he was going to
do. Moreover I was sorry to think of his going out to
hot and fever-wracked Cuba, among those supposedly
fiendish Spaniards; also he reminded me of Verley
Marchmont, so that I could not help accepting him.
You see, I had given up all hope of hearing from Mr.
Hamilton again. He had not answered my letters.
I was terribly lonesome and hungry for some one to
care for me. Dick was a big, wholesome, splendid-
looking boy, and his tastes were similar to mine.
Then he said he d "move mountains," if only I d
become engaged to him. He appeared to me a ro
mantic figure as I pictured him starting upon that
The long and short of it is, that I said, " All right."
Whereupon Dick gave me a ring not a costly one,
for he was not rich and then, yes, he kissed me
several times. I won t deny that I liked those kisses.
I would have given anything in the world to have Mr.
Hamilton kiss me; but, as I said, I had reached a
reckless stage, where I believed I should not see him
again, and next to being kissed by the man you love,
it s pleasant to be kissed by a man who loves you.
However, that may be with his strong young arms
about me and his fervent declaration that he loved me,
I felt comforted and important.
Meantime Lolly came in soon after we were en
gaged, and she had a party of men with her. Dick
made me promise to tell no one. He sailed the next
morning for Cuba. I never saw him again.
When I told Lolly about my engagement she
laughed, and told me to " forget it." She said Dick
had been on her paper a while, and she knew him
well. She said he never took girls seriously, and al
though he did seem " hard hit " by me, he d soon
get over it once he got among the pretty Cuban and
Spanish senoritas. That was a dubious outlook for
me, I must say. Just the same, I liked to wear his
ring, and I felt a new dignity.
It s queer, but in thinking of Mr. Hamilton at this
time I felt a vindictive sort of satisfaction that I was
now engaged. It was good to know that even if he
did n t love me enough to answer my letters, some
One day Fred came in very late from luncheon.
I thought at first from something strange in his atti
tude that he had been drinking again, but he suddenly
swung around in his seat and said :
"Do you know Mott?"
"No. Who is he?"
" Manager of the Department."
" I don t know him by name," I said. " Point him
out to me."
Fred said ominously :
" That s him; but he s not looking quite his usual
I saw a man several departments off who even from
that distance looked as if his face and nose were
swollen and cut.
"Then you never went out with him?" demanded
" Why, of course not," I declared. " I Ve never
been out with any yards men except you and Hermann.
You know that."
" I thought so. Now look a-here," and he showed
me his fists. The skin was off the knuckles, and they
had an otherwise battered look.
" That son of a blank," said Fred, " boasted that
you had been out with him. I knew that he lied, for
no decent girl would be seen with the likes of him;
so I soaked him such a swig in the nose that he 11
not blow it again for a month."
I tell this incident because it seems to be a charac
teristic example of what certain contemptible men say
about girls whom they do not even know. I have
heard of men who deliberately boasted of favors from
girls who despised them and who assailed the char
acter of girls who had snubbed them. This was my
first experience, and my only one of this kind. That
a man I had not known existed would titlk lightly
about me in a bar-room full of men seemed to me a
shameful and cruel thing. That a man who did know
me had defended me with his fists thrilled and moved
me. At that moment I almost loved Fred.
This incident, however, thoroughly disgusted me
with everything connected with the yards. I made up
my mind that I would go with Fred to New York.
We talked it over, and he said that even if the firm
would not send me, he himself would engage me after
he was settled there. So I began to plan to leave
Chicago, though when I paused to think of Mr. Hamil
ton I grew miserable. Still, the thought of the change
excited me. Lolly said I d soon forget him I
knew I would n t and that there was nothing like
a change of scene to cure one of an infatuation of
that kind. She always called my love for Hamilton
" infatuation," and pretended never to regard it as
anything serious. She said I was a hero-worshipper,
and made idols of unworthy clay and endowed them
with impossible attributes and virtues. She said girls
like me never really loved a man at all. We loved an
image that we ourselves created.
I knew better. In my love I was simply a woman
and nothing else, and as a woman, not an idealist, I
loved Hamilton. I never pretended he was perfect.
Indeed, I saw his faults from the first, but despite his
faults, not because of them, I loved him.
FRED was to leave for New York on the first of
November, and that was only a week off. The
firm had decided to retain me, after all, in the Chicago
offices, but I was determined I would not remain there,
and planned to go to New York as soon as possible,
when Fred would immediately engage me. He said
he d " fire " any girl he had then for me.
I had been saving from week to week for my fare
and a set of furs. My suit, though only two months
old, had already begun to show wear, and it was thin,
as Mr. Hamilton had said. The girls at the yards
were already wearing furs, but furs were beyond my
purse for months to come. Lolly had beautiful furs,
black, silky lynx, that some one had given her the
It was now five weeks since I had seen Mr. Hamil
ton, and two since Dick had gone. I had had a few
letters from Dick. They were not exactly love-let
ters. Dick s letters were more, as it were well,
written for publication. I don t know why they seemed
like that to me. I suppose he could not help writing
for effect, for although he said tender things, and very
brilliantly, too, somehow they did not ring true to
I did not think very seriously of our engagement,
though I liked my ring, and showed it to all the girls at
My stories came back with unflattering regularity
from the magazines to which I sent them. Lolly,
however, gave two of my stories to her paper, and I
was to be paid space rates (four dollars a column, I
think it was) on publication. I was a long time wait
ing for publication.
Dissatisfied, unhappy, and restless, as I now really
was, I did not even feel like writing at night. I now
no longer ran up-stairs to my room, with an eager,
wishful heart, hoping that he might be there. Alas!
I felt sure he had abandoned me forever. He had
even ceased, I told myself, to be interested in me.
Then one night he came. I had had a hard day at
the yards. Not hard in the sense of work; but Fred
was to leave the following day, and a Mr. Hopkins
was to take his place. We had spent the day going
over all the matters of our department, and it s im
possible for me to say how utterly wretched I felt at
the thought of working under another " boss " than
So I came home doleful enough, went out and ate
my solitary dinner in a nearby restaurant, and then re
turned to the house.
He called, " Hello, little girl ! " while I was opening
I stood speechlessly staring at him for a moment,
so glad was I to see him. It seemed an incredible and
a joyous thing to me that he was really there, and
that he appeared exactly the same tall, with his
odd, tired face and musing eyes.
" Well, are n t you glad to see me? " he asked, smil
ing, and holding out his hand.
I seized it and clung to it with both of mine, and I
would n t let it go. That made him laugh again, and
then he said:
" Well, what has my wonderful girl been doing? "
That was nearly always his first question to me.
" I wrote to you four times," I said, " and you
never answered me once."
" I m not much of a hand at letter- writing," he said.
" I thought that you d forgotten me," I told him,
" and that you were never going to come and see me
He put his hand under my chin, raised my face, and
looked at it searchingly.
" Would it have mattered so much, then ? " he asked
You know very well I m in love with you," I told
him desperately, and he said, as always:
" Nonsense ! " though I know he liked to hear me
Then he wanted to inspect me, and he held me off at
arm s-length, and turned me around, too. I think it
was my suit he was looking at, though he had seen it
before. Then he made me sit down, and said we were
going to have a " long talk." Of course I had to tell
him everything that had happened to me since I had
seen him. I omitted all mention of Dick!
I told him about Fred s wanting me to join him in
New York, and he remarked :
" Fred can jump up. You re not going."
I did not argue that with him. I no longer wanted
to go. I was quite happy and contented now that he
was here. I did n t care whether he returned my love
or not. I was satisfied as long as he was with me.
That was much.
He always made me tell him every little detail of my
life, and when I said I found it difficult to write, be
cause of so many men coming to see Lolly, I did n t
mention that they were coming to see me, too ! he
" You re going to move out of this place right away.
We 11 look about for rooms to-morrow."
So then I knew he was not going back that night,
and I was so glad that I knelt down beside him and
cuddled up against his knee. I wished that he would
put his arm about me, but all he did was to push back
the loose hair that slipped over my cheek, and after
that he kept his hand on my head.
He was much pleased with my description of the
rooms at Mrs. Kingston s. He said we d go there
the next day and have a look at them. He said I was
to stay home from work the next day, but I protested
that I could n t do that Fred s last day ! Unless I
did just what he told me, it exasperated him always,
and he now said :
" Then go away from me. I don t want anything
to do with a girl who won t do even a trifling thing
to please me."
I said that it was n t trifling, and that I might lose
my position ; for the new man was to take charge to
morrow, and I ought to be there.
" Damn the new man ! " he said.
He was a singularly unreasonable man, and he could
sulk and scowl for all the world like a great boy. I
told him so, and he unwillingly laughed, and said I
was beyond him. To win him back to good humor, I
got out some of my new stories, and, sitting on the
floor at his feet, read them to him. I read two stories.
When I was through, he got up and walked up and
down, pulling at his lower lip in that way he had.
"Well," I challenged, "can I write?"
He said :
" I m afraid you can." Then he took my manu
scripts from me, and put them in his pocket.
It was late now, for it had taken me some time to
read my stories, but he did not show any signs of
going. He was sitting in our one big chair, smoking,
with his legs stretched out in front of him, and although
his eyes were half closed, he was watching me con
stantly. I began to yawn, because I was becoming
sleepy. He said he supposed I wanted him to get out.
I said no, I didn t; but my landlady probably did.
She did n t mind our having men callers as long as
they went before midnight. It was nearly that now.
" Damn the landlady ! " just as he had said, " Damn
the new man ! " Then he added, " You re not going
to be run by every one, you know."
I said mischievously:
"Just by you?"
" Just by me," he replied.
" But when you stay away so long "
It irritated him for me to refer to that. He said
that there were certain matters I would n t understand
that had kept him in Richmond, and that he had
come as soon as he could. He added that he was
involved in some lawsuit, and that he was being
watched, and had to be " careful." I could n t see why
he should be watched because of a lawsuit, and I asked :
"Would you be arrested?"
He threw back his head and laughed, and said I was
a " queer little thing," and then, after a while, he said
" It s just as well, anyway. We must n t get the
habit of needing each other too much."
" Do you think it possible you could ever need me?"
To which he replied very soberly :
" I need you more than you would believe."
Mr. Hamilton never made a remark like that, which
revealed any sentiment for me, without seeming to re-
gret it a moment later. Now he got up abruptly and
asked me which room I slept in. I said generally in
the inner one, because Lolly came in late from her night
work and engagements.
" I want to see your room," he said, " and I want to
see what clothes you need."
He knew much about women s clothes. I felt
ashamed to have him poking about among my poor
things like that, and I grew very red; but he took no
notice of me, and jotted down some things in his note
book. He said I would need this, that, and other
I said weakly :
" You need n t think I m going to let you get me
clothes. Honestly, I won t wear them if you do."
He tilted up my chin, and spoke down into my face :
" Now, Nora, listen to me. Either you are going
to live and dress as I want you to, or I am positively
not coming to see you again. Do you understand? "
" Well, I can get my own clothes," I said stub
" Not the kind I want you to have, not the kind 7 am
going to get you."
He still had his hand under my chin, and I looked
straight into his eyes.
" If you tell me just once," I said, " that you care
for me, I 11 I 11 take the clothes then."
" I 11 say anything you want me to," he said, " if
you 11 do what I tell you."
I took him up at that.
" All right, then. Say, I love you, and you can
buy pearls for me, if you want to."
He gave me a deep look that made me thrill, and I
drew back from his hand. He said in a low voice :
You can have the pearls, anyway."
" But I d rather have the words," I stammered, now
ashamed of myself, and confused under his look.
" Consider them said, then," he said, and he laughed.
I could n t bear him to laugh at me, and I said :
" You don t mean it. I made you say it, and there
fore it has no meaning. I wish it were true."
" Perhaps it is," he said.
" Is it ? " I demanded eagerly.
"Who knows?" said he.
Lolly came in then. She did not seem at all pleased
to see Mr. Hamilton there, and he left soon after.
When he was gone, she told me I was a very silly
girl to have taken him into my room. I told her I
had n t ; that he had just walked in. Lolly asked me,
virtuously, whether I had ever seen her let a man go
in there, and I confessed I had not. She wanted to
know whether I had told Mr. Hamilton about Dick.
Indeed, I had not! The thought of telling him fright
ened me, and I besought Lolly not to betray me. Also
I took off Dick s ring. I intended to send it back to
him. It was impossible for me to be engaged to him
Lolly said if she were I, she wouldn t let Mr.
Hamilton buy clothes for her. She said once he
started to do that, he would expect to pay for every
thing for me, and then, said Lolly, the first thing I
knew, people would be saying that he was "keeping"
me. She said that I could take dinners, flowers, even
jewels from a man, though in " high society " girls
couldn t even do that; but working-girls were more
free, and I could go to the theater and to other places
with him ; but it was a fatal step when a man began to
pay for a girl s room and clothes. Lolly added that
once she had let a man do that for her, and She
blew out a long whiff of smoke from her lips, saying,
" Never more ! " with her hand held solemnly up.
So then I decided I could n t let him do it, and I felt
very sorry that I had even weakened a little bit in my
original resolve not to let him spend money on me. I
went to sleep troubled about the matter.
AS soon as I got up next day I called him on the
telephone. It was so early that I probably woke
him up, but I had to tell him what was on my mind.
" It s Nora," I said.
He replied :
" Last time you telephoned to me you were in
trouble ; do you remember ? Are you in trouble now,
I said I was n t, but I just wanted to say I could n t
and would n t let him buy clothes for me.
I knew just as well as if I could see him how he was
looking when I said that. He was used to having his
own way, and that I dared to set my will against his
always made him angry. After a moment he said :
" Will you do something else to please me, then? "
" Don t go to work to-day."
" I Ve got to; truly I have."
" You only think that. Call up O Brien and ask to
be excused. If you don t, I will. Now I 11 be up at
your place about ten. I ve something special to give
" I can t tell you on the phone."
" We-ell," I weakened; " all right, then."
I was rewarded beautifully for that.
" That s my little girl ! " he said.
Then he rang off. I never would have.
So I stayed home from work, the first time since I
had been at the yards and Fred s last day! Mr.
Hamilton came over about ten. Lolly was still sleep
ing, so I had to see him down-stairs in the parlor.
As soon as I saw him, I held out my hands and said :
" Where s the special thing? "
He laughed. I could make him laugh easily now,
though I don t believe any one else could. He pinched
my chin and said :
" Get your hat on. We re going shopping."
" Now, Mr. Hamilton, I am not going to let you buy
things for me."
" Did I say I was going to do that? " he demanded.
" Well, then, how can we shop? "
; You have some money of your own, have n t
Yes, but I was saving it for furs and to go to New
" Well, you can get the furs later, and you re not go
ing to New York. The main thing is you need a decent
suit and a er heavy coat to wear to work, since
you will work ; and you need gloves and let me see
your shoes - [I showed them] " and shoes, a hat
" I have n t the money for all those things."
" Yes, you have. I know a place where you can get
all kinds of bargains. Ever hear of bargain-shops? "
No, I had never heard of bargain-shops, though I
had of bargain-sales, I told him. Well, it was the
same thing, he said, except that this particular shop
made a specialty of selling nothing but bargains.
That, of course, tempted me, and I went up to my
room and put on my coat and hat. I had thirty dollars,
and I borrowed ten from Lolly. So I was not so badly
off. He was right ; I really needed new things, and I
might as well let him choose them for me.
That was a happy morning for me ! All girls love
to " shop," and there was a joy in trying on lovely
things, even if I could n t afford them. It was a small
shop to which he took me, but the things there were
really beautiful and astonishingly cheap. He made
them try many things on me, not only suits, but negli
gees and evening gowns.
Then he chose a soft dark-blue velvet suit, trimmed
with the loveliest gray fur at the neck and sleeves. I
thought it must be very expensive, but the saleswoman
said it was only fifteen dollars. I had never heard of
such a bargain, especially as a hat, trimmed with the
fur, and a muff also went with the suit. I made up
my mind I d bring Lolly here. I told the lady who
owned the store that I would bring a friend. That
made her laugh, but she stopped, because Mr. Hamil
ton frowned and looked very angry. He liked to
laugh at me himself, but he did n t want others to do
so, and I liked him for that.
Still, I felt uncomfortable. The woman s laugh had
been peculiar, and the saleswomen were watching me.
I bought, too, a heavy navy-blue coat, with a little cape,
and belted, just the thing for every day, and gloves and
two pairs of shoes. She said that, as I d bought so
much, she d give me silk stockings to go with the
Of course I know now that 1 was a blind fool; but
then I was only seventeen, and nine months before I
had never been outside my home city, Quebec. For
that matter, I hardly knew Quebec, so limited and con
fined is the life of the poor. I thought my forty dol
lars paid for all ; I did think that !
Mr. Hamilton was in a fine humor now, and he made
me wear the velvet suit and the hat to go to luncheon
with him, and where do you suppose he took me?
Right to his own hotel. There he introduced me to a
man named Townsend who was waiting for him. I
did n t at all like the way Mr. Townsend looked at me ;
but Mr. Hamilton did not seem to mind it, though he
was quick to notice such things. When I had dined
with him before, if any man stared at me, he used to
lean over and say, without the slightest suggestion of a
" Well, what shall I do to him? Turn the seltzer on
him or push his face in?"
Mr. Townsend, however, was not trying to flirt with
me, as, for instance, Mr. Chambers always was. He
studied me curiously and, I thought, suspiciously. He
talked in an undertone to Mr. Hamilton, and I am sure
they were talking about me. I did hope that Mr.
Townsend had not noticed any mistakes I made about
the knives and forks.
I was glad when luncheon was over. We entered a
cab again, and Mr. Hamilton directed the driver to
take us to Mrs. Kingston s. I asked him who Mr.
Townsend was. He said he was his lawyer, and be
gan to talk about something else. He wanted to know
if I was n t curious to know what that special thing was
he had to give me. I had forgotten about it. Now,
of course, I wanted to know.
" Well," he said, " open your mouth and shut your
eyes, and in your mouth you 11 find a prize.
I thought he was going to give me a candy, so I
shut my eyes and opened my mouth, just like a foolish
child ; and then he kissed me. It was n t like a kiss at
all, because my mouth was open; but he seemed to
think it very funny, and when I opened my eyes, he
was sitting back in the carriage, with his arms folded,
laughing hard. I think he thought that a good joke
on me, because I dare say he knew I wanted him to
kiss me. I did n t think it a good joke at all, and I
would n t speak to or look at him, and my face grew
hot and red, and at last he said teasingly :
" I 11 have to keep you angry all the time, Nora.
You look your prettiest then."
I said with dignity :
" You know very well I m not even a little bit
pretty, and I wish you would n t make fun of me, Mr.
He was still laughing, and he said :
" You know very well you are pretty, you little fraud,
and my name is Roger."
I never called him Mr. Hamilton after that.
WHEN I introduced Mr. Hamilton to Mrs.
Kingston, she put on her glasses and examined
him curiously, and he said, with a rather formal smile,
not at all as he smiled at me :
" I ve heard quite a lot about you from Miss As-
cough, and am very glad to meet you."
" I Ve known all about you for some time," she
said, chuckling. And then she added, " I don t know
what I expected to see, but you don t quite measure up
to Nora s extravagant ideal."
"No, I suppose not," he said, his eyes twinkling.
" I doubt if any man could do that."
We were all laughing, and I said :
" Oh, well, I know he s not much to look at ; but
I m crazy about him, anyhow, and he wants to see the
He did n t think the little room nearly good enough
for me, but he said that big suite of rooms in front was
just the thing. That made me laugh. Did he suppose
any stenographer could afford a luxurious suite of
rooms like that? There was a long room that ran
across the front of the house, with big bay-windows
and a great fireplace, and opening out from this
room was a large bedroom, with a bath-room adjoin-
ing it. As one may see, they weren t exactly the
rooms a girl getting fifteen dollars a week could af
I said :
" Tell him just how much you intend to soak your
prospective roomer for these palatial chambers."
She started to say, " Twenty-five dollars a week,"
which was what she had told me she expected to charge,
when I saw him make a sign to her, and she hesitated.
Then I knew he intended to get her to name a cheap
price just for me, and pay the difference himself. But
now I was too quick for him. He had actually de
ceived me about those clothes. I had not the remotest
idea till months afterward that he had paid for them
and for many other things I subsequently bought, or
thought I bought ; but Mrs. Kingston had already told
me the price of that room. So I said :
" It s no use. I know the price."
" Yes, but for a friend," he replied, " I m sure Mrs.
Kingston would make er a considerable reduc
She said nothing. I don t know how she felt. Of
course she knew that I was in love with him, but, as
she told me afterward, she could n t quite make out just
what our relations were.
" That s all very well," I said, " but Mrs. Kingston
has to get her rent."
Then he said :
" Well, but er I m sure her practice is going
to soar from now on. A great lawyer like Mrs. Kings
ton need not rent rooms at all."
Still she said nothing; but I saw her watching us
both. He went on to urge me to have these rooms, but
of course the idea was absurd. It was really provok
ing for him to keep pressing me to have things I
simply could not afford and did not greatly want. I
said all this. Besides, I added, it would be foolish
for me to make any change at this time. Things were
uncertain with me at the yards, now that Fred was
leaving, and I should have to speak to Lolly, anyhow.
He argued that if I expected to write, I should have
to move. No one could write in such disturbing cir
cumstances. Of course that was true enough, and I
said I d talk it over that night with Lolly.
He took out some money then, and wanted to pay
Mrs. Kingston so much down on the rooms, when I ex
claimed that even if I did leave Lolly, I did n t mean to
take these rooms, but the little one, if Mrs. Kingston
was still willing to let me have it. She said she cer
tainly was ; that she badly wanted me to come. Both
she and Mrs. Owens (the woman with her) needed a
young person about the place to make them forget
what old fogies they were, and that it would be like
a real home to have me there, and we d all be very
It ended like this : he took that suite of rooms. He
said they d be there for me to have at any time I
wanted them. I told him it was just a waste of money,
for I simply would not let him pay for my room any
more than I would let him pay for my clothes, and
that was all there was to it.
He smiled curiously at that, and asked Mrs. Kings
ton what she thought of my clothes. She said :
" I have n t been able to take my eyes off them.
Nora is wonderful! Does it seem possible that clothes
can make such a difference? "
She wanted to know where I got them. I told her,
and how cheap they were. She was amazed at the
price, and Mr. Hamilton went over to the window and
looked out. How clearly this all comes back to me
All the way back to my rooms he argued with me
about the matter. He said if I had a pleasant place
like that to live in, I d soon be writing masterpieces
(ah, he knew which way my desires ran!), and soon
I d not have to work in offices at all. To take rooms
like those, he said, was really an investment. Business
men all did things that way. It was part of the game.
He wanted me to try it, for a while, and at last I said
in desperation :
" What s the use of talking about it? I tell you, I
have n t got the money."
Then he said (I never knew a man who could so per
sist about a thing on which he had set his heart) :
" Now, look here, Nora, I ve got more money than
is decent for any one person to have, and I want to
spend it on you. I want to give you things com-
forts and luxuries and all the pretty things a girl like
you ought to have. If you could see yourself now,
you d realize what a difference even clothes make.
And so with other things. I want to take hold of you
and make you over. I never wanted to do anything
so much in my life before. Now you re going to be a
good girl, are n t you, and not deny me the pleasure
the real joy it gives me to do things for you, dear little
By this time I was nearly crying, but I set my teeth
together, and determined not to be won over to some
thing I knew was not right.
" You told me once," I said, " that all any one had
ever wanted of you was your money your dirty
money, you called it; and now, just because I won t
take it from you, you get angry with me."
" Well, but, confound it ! I did n t mean you then."
" Oh, yes, you did, too ; because you said I d be
sending for more money in a week, and you said that I
was made to have it, and men would give "
He put a stop to my too vivid recollections.
" But, child, I had no idea then of the kind of girl
you were," he lowered his voice, and added tenderly,
he was trying so hard to have his way ! " of the ex
ceptional, wonderful little girl you are."
" But I would n t be exceptional or wonderful," I
protested, " if I took your money. I d be common.
No ; I m not going to let people say you keep
", Where did you hear that word?" he demanded
11 From Lolly and the girls at the Y. W. C. A.
Oh, don t you suppose I know what that means? " I
was looking straight at him now, and I saw his face
turn red, but whether with anger or embarrassment, I
do not know. He said in a sort of suppressed way :
" Don t you know that men who keep women are
their lovers? "
He sat up stiffly now, and he gave me a cold, almost
sneering, look that made me shiver. Then he said :
" Have I ever given you the slightest reason to sup
pose I wanted to be your lover?"
I shriveled up not only at his words, but at his look,
and I turned my face away, and looked out of the win
dow of the cab without seeing anything. It was true
he had never pretended to care for me. I was the one
who had done all the caring, and now it almost seemed
as if he were throwing this up to me as something of
which to be ashamed. But though my face was burn
ing, I felt no shame, only a sort of misery.
" Well ? " he prompted me, for I had not answered
that last brutal query. Without looking at him, I said,
in a shaking little voice, for I was heartbroken to think
that he could use such a tone to me or look at me in
that way :
" No, you have n t. In fact, if you had, perhaps I
might have done what you wanted."
He came closer to me in the carriage when I said
that, but I shrank away from him. I was nearer to
disliking him then than at any time in my acquaintance
" You mean," he said, " that if I were your lover,
you would be willing to live with me like that?
Is that what you mean, Nora ? "
" Oh, I don t know what I mean," I said. " I don t
pretend to be respectable and good in the way the
women of your class are. I suppose I have no morals.
I m only a girl in love with a man; and if if he
cared for me as I did for him, I d be willing to do any
thing in the world he wished me to. I d be willing to
die for him. But if he did n t if he did n t care for
me, don t you see, I could n t take anything from him.
I should feel degraded."
It was a tangled, passionate sort of reasoning. For*
a long time after that we rode along in silence, I look
ing out of the window, and he looking constantly at me.
I could feel his eyes on me, and I did not dare to turn
around. Then presently he said :
" I m all kinds of a rotter, Nora, but I m straight
about you. You re my wonderful girl, the oasis in my
life. I would n t harm a hair of your precious little
head. If I were to tell you I loved you, I would precipi
tate a tragedy upon you that you do not deserve. So
I am not going to say any such thing to you." He
cleared his throat, and as I said nothing, he went on
strongly, it seemed to me :
" Your friend, Lolly, is right about men, and I m
not different from other men as far as women are con
cerned ; but in your case I am. My desire to do things
for you is based on no selfish design. I assure you of
that. I simply have an overwhelming desire to take
care of you, Nora, to help you."
I said with as much composure as I could com
" Thank you, I don t need help. I m not so badly
off as you think. I make pretty good money, and,
anyway, I m independent, and that s a big thing."
" But you have to work like a slave. I can t bear to
think of that, and as for being independent, you won t
be any the less so if you let me do things for you. You
may go on with your life in your own way. I 11 never
interfere or try to dictate to you about anything."
Almost hysterically I cried out :
" Oh, please stop talking about this ! Every time
you come here you scold me about something."
" Why, Nora," he said aggrievedly, " I have never
asked you to do anything but this. That s the only
thing I ever scolded you about."
" Look how you acted that first night, when you saw
me with Lolly and Mr. Chambers, and then the night I
was up with Fred. You wanted to beat me ! I saw it
in your face. You could no more help dictating to and
scolding me than you can help coming to see me
The last sentence slipped out before I knew it, and
he sat up sharply at that, and then laughed, uncomfort
" I am a dog in the manger as far as you are con
cerned," he said; "but I ll turn over a new leaf if
you 11 let me do these things for you."
I smiled ruefully, for I was beginning to know him
so well now, and I sighed. He asked me why I sighed,
and then I asked him in turn just why he wanted to
do these things for me. He paused a moment, and
then said slowly, and not without considerable emo
" I ve told you why before, Nora. I m interested
in you. You re my find, my discovery. I take a
special pride in everything connected with you.
You re the one thing in life I take a real interest in,
and I want to watch you, and see you develop. I
haven t the slightest doubt of your eventual suc
" Hum ! You look upon me as a sort of curiosity,
don t you?"
" Nonsense ! Don t talk so foolishly ! "
But I knew that that was just how he did regard me,
and it made me sick at heart. My beautiful day had
clouded over. I supposed that nothing in the world
would ever induce this man to admit any feeling for me
but interest. Well, I wanted to love and to be loved,
and it was a cold sort of substitute he was offering me
pretty clothes and fine rooms. I could earn all those
things myself in time.
" Now, then," he said, " you are going to be my darl
ing, reasonable little girl, aren t you? After all, it
is n t so much I am asking of you. All I want you to
do is to leave your position and go to live with this Mrs.
Kingston. She struck me as being all right, and the
rooms are exceedingly attractive, though we 11 furnish
them over ourselves. And then you are going to let
me get you the proper kind of clothes to wear. I 11
choose them myself for you, Nora. Then, since you
won t go to school, and, you see, I m willing to let
that go, why, we can arrange for you to take special
lessons in languages and things like that, and there are
certain English courses you can take up at North
western. And I want you to study music, too, piano
and vocal the violin, too, if you like. I m specially
fond of music, and I think it would be a good thing for
you to take it up. Then in the spring you shall go
abroad. I have to go myself about that time, and I
want to see your face when you see Europe, honey."
That was the only Southern endearing term he ever ap
plied to me, and I had never heard it used before. " It
will be a revelation to you. And now the whole thing
is settled, isn t it?"
I hated, after all this, to have to refuse again, so I
did n t answer him, and he said, taking my hand, and
leaning, oh, so coaxingly toward me:
" It s all settled, is n t it, dear? "
I turned around, and shouted at him almost hysteri
" No, it is n t. And I wish you d shut up about
those things. You only make me miserable."
If I had stung him, he could not have drawn back
from me more sharply.
" Oh, very well," he said, and threw himself back in
his seat, his face looking like a thunder-cloud.
He did n t speak another word to me, and when the
carriage stopped at my door, he got out, assisted me
from the carriage, and then immediately got in again
himself. I stood at the curb, my hand on the door
of the carriage, and I said:
" Please don t go like this."
" I m sorry, but I am taking the 6 109 train."
" Take a later train."
" No, thank you."
" Sorry. Good-by."
" Please don t be angry with me ! "
He did n t answer. It was terrible to have him go
like that, and I asked him when he was coming back.
" I can t say," was his curt response. Then his
angry glance fixed me, and he said slowly:
" You can let me know when you take those rooms
I chose for you. I 11 come then at once."
And that is the cruel way he left me. I was heart
broken in a way, but I was angry, too. I went up to
my room, and sat on the couch, and as I slowly pulled
off my new gloves, I was not thinking kindly of Mr.
R. A. Hamilton. No man had a right to impose his
will in this way on a girl and to demand of her some
thing that she could not do without losing her self-re
spect. I asked myself whether, because I loved this
man, I was willing to make of myself a pusillanimous
little door-mat, or if I had enough pride to stand by
my own convictions?
I had humbled myself enough to him; indeed, I had
virtually offered myself to him. But he did not want
me. He had made that clear enough. If, in the cir
cumstances, I took from him the gifts he offered me,
I would roll up a debt I could never wipe out. Now,
although poor and working, I was a free woman.
What I had, I honestly earned. I was no doll or
parasite who needed to be carried by others. No!
To retain my belief in my own powers, I must prove
that they actually existed. Only women without re
sources in themselves, without gifts or brains, were
" kept " by men, either as mistresses or wives or from
charity, as Hamilton wished to " keep " me. I had
the youthful conviction that / was one of the excep
tional souls of the world, and could carry myself.
Was I, then, to be bought by the usual foolish things
that attract the ordinary woman? No! Not even
my love- could alter my character.
Now, there really was a fine streak in me, for I did
want pretty things (what young girl does not?), I
hated my work, and I loved this man, and wanted
above all things on earth to please him.
Lolly said, to jerk one s mind from too much brood-
ing over one man, one should think of another. I dis
covered another method of distraction. Pretty clothes
are a balm even to a broken heart, and although I was
clever, I was also eternally feminine. My things had
arrived from the shop, and they were so lovely, so
much lovelier than I had thought, that I was en
chanted. Lolly came in while I was lifting the things
from the boxes. I had n t taken off my suit, and she
turned me around to look at me.
"Isn t it stunning, Lolly?" I asked. "And, just
think, it was only fifteen dollars, suit, hat, muff, and
Lolly s unbelieving glance swept me, then she threw
her cigarette down, and said spitefully :
" For the love of Mike, Nora, cut it out ! You re a
poor little liar ! "
" Liar ! What do you mean, Lolly Hope ? "
I was furious at the insult, capping all I had gone
"That suit you have on never cost one penny less
than $150. The fur alone is easily worth half of that.
It s silver fox, an inch of which is worth several dol
lars, and that muff " She laughed disgustedly.
"What do you take me for, anyhow, to try to spring
that fifteen-dollar gag on me? "
" It was marked down, I tell you, at a bargain
"Oh, come off, Nora! Don t try that on me. I
know where you got those clothes. That man Hamil-
ton gave them to you. You did n t follow my advice,
I see." She shrugged her shoulders. "Of course
it s your own affair, and I m the last to blame you or
any other girl for a thing like that, but, for heaven s
sake, don t think it necessary to make up fairy-tales to
" Lolly, I swear to you that I paid for these myself."
" Tell it to the marines ! " said Lolly.
" Then see for yourself. Here are the price-tags,
and here s the bill," I cried excitedly, and I thrust
them upon her. Everything came to exactly forty
dollars. Lolly looked the bill over carefully ; then she
put her cigarette in her mouth, and looked at me. All
of a sudden she began to laugh. She threw her head
back upon the sofa pillows and just laughed and
laughed, while I became angrier and angrier with her.
I waited till she was through, and then I said, very
" Now you can apologize to me, Lolly Hope."
" You blessed infant," she cried, " I m in the dust
at your feet. One thing s sure, and I guess friend
Hamilton is wise to that : there s no one like you in
this dull old world of ours ! "
MY new " boss " at the yards was a sharp-nosed,
sharp-eyed old-young man who seemed to think
that his chief mission in life was to crack a sort of
mental whip, like an overseer, over the heads of those
under him, and keep us all hustling and rushing like
I had been accustomed to answer the correspondence
of the soap department myself, Fred merely noting a
few words in pencil on each letter, giving the gist of
what he wanted said ; but Mr. Hopkins dictated every
thing, and as soon as I was through one batch of corre
spondence, he would find something else for me to do.
It seemed to give him a pain for my typewriter to
be idle a moment. I think I was on his mind all the
time except when he was thinking up work for Red
My position, therefore, had become a very hard one.
I worked incessantly from nine till six. Fred had let
me off at five-thirty and often at five; but Mr. Hopkins
kept me till six. I think he d have made it seven, but
the bell rang at six, and the office was supposed to close
Many a time I Ve seen him glance regretfully at the
clock or make an impatient movement with his shoul
ders at the clanging of the bell, at which moment I al
ways banged my type-writer desk, and swiftly de
How I missed Fred ! He had made life at the yards
tolerable and even amusing for me with his jokes and
confidences. And, then, there s a pleasure in working
for some one you know approves of you and likes you.
Fred did like me. In a way, I don t think any one
ever liked me better than poor Fred did.
It makes me sad to think that the best girl friend
I ever had, Lolly, and the best man friend, Fred, are
now both gone out of this world, where I may have
still such a long road to travel.
I hated my position now. I was nothing but an
overworked machine. Moreover, the routine of the
work was deadening. When I answered the letters
myself, it gave a slight diversion; but now I simply
took dictation and transcribed it, and when I was
through with that, I copied pages of itemized stuff.
My mind became just like a ticker that tapped off this
or that curt and dry formula of business letter in which
soap, soap, soap stood out big and slimy.
I now neither wrote at night nor went out. I was
too tired from the incessant labor at the type-writer,
and when I got to sleep, after two or three hours, in
which I lay awake thinking of Mr. Hamilton and
wondering whether I would ever see him again; I al
ways wondered about that when he was away, I de-
clare, I would hear the tap-tapping of that typewriter
all night long! Other type-writists have had the same
experience. One ought to escape from one s treadmill
at least in sleep.
But this is a world of miracles ; doubt it who can.
There came a glorious day late in the month of Nov
ember to be exact, it was November 24. No, Mr.
Hamilton did not come again. He was still waiting
for my capitulation anent the rooms at Mrs. Kings
This is what happened: I was type-writing, when
Red Top came in with the mail. He threw down on
my desk some personal letters that had come for me.
Although Mr. Hopkins was at his desk, and I knew it
was a criminal offense to stop any office work to at
tend to a personal matter, I reached over and picked
up my letters. I heard my " boss " cough significantly
as I glanced through them. Two were from home,
and I put them down, intending to read them at noon.
One was from Fred. I put that down, too. And the
other! Oh, that other! It was from listen! It
was from the editor of that great magazine in New
York ! I opened it with trembling fingers. The words
jumped up at me and embraced me! My story was
accepted, and a check for fifty dollars accompanied
that brief, but blessed, note.
Mr. Hopkins was clearing his throat so pronouncedly
now that I turned deliberately about in my chair and
grinned hard at him. He glared at me indignantly.
Little idiot! He thought I was trying to flirt with
" Are you through, Miss Ascough? " he asked.
" No, Mr. Hopkins," I responded blandly, " and I
never will be now. I Ve just come into some money,
and I m not going to work for you any more."
" What! What! " he said in his sharp little voice,
just like a duck quacking.
I repeated what I had said, and I stood up now, and
began gathering my things together my pocketbook,
handkerchief, odds and ends in my desk, and the rose
that Mr. Smith had given me that day.
Mr. Hopkins had a nasal, excitable, squeaking sort
of voice, like the querulous bark of a dog a little
" But, Miss Ascough, you don t mean to say you are
leaving now ? "
" Yes, I do mean to say it," I replied, smiling glo
" But surely you 11 finish the letter on the ma
" I surely will not," said I. " I don t have to work
any more. Good-by." And out I marched, or, rather,
flew, without waiting to collect three days pay due me,
and resigning a perfectly good fifteen-dollar-a-week
job on the first money I ever received for a story!
I did not walk on solid ground, I assure you. I flew
on wings that carried me soaring above that Land of
Odors, where I had worked for four and a half hard
months, right up into the clouds, and every one knows
the clouds are near to heaven.
Mr. Hamilton ? Oh, yes, I did remember some such
person. Let me see. He was the man who thought
I was incapable of taking care of myself, and who
grandiloquently wanted to " make me over " ; who
once said I was " ignorant, uncivilized, undisciplined,"
and would never get anywhere unless I followed his
lordly advice. How I laughed inwardly at the thought
of the effect upon him of those astounding conquests
that / was to make in the charming golden world that
was smiling and beckoning to me now.
As soon as I got to my room, I sat down and wrote
a letter to him. I wanted him to know right away.
In fact, I had a feeling that if he did n t know, then all
the pleasure of my triumph might go. This is what
I said to him :
[Yes, I called him Roger now.]
Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the inclosed thrill
ing, extraordinary, and absorbing indorsement of
Your abused and forsaken
How had he the heart not to answer that letter of
mine, I wondered.
Girls love candies, pretty clothes, jewelry, geegaws,
and, as the old song has it, " apples and spices and
everything nicest," they like boys and men and all such
trifling things. Those are the things that make them
giggle and thrill and weep and sometimes kill them
selves ; but I tell you there is n t a thrill comparable
with that electric and ecstatic shock that comes to a
young girl writer when, after many rebuffs, her first
story is accepted. Of course, alas! that thrill is brief,
and soon one finds, with wonder, that the world is
actually going on just the same, and, more wonder of
wonders! there are still trouble and pain and tragedy
and other ugly things crawling about upon the face of
the earth. Ah me! They say the weird, seeking
sound of a new soul is the most beautiful music on
earth to the ears of a mother. I think a poet feels
that way toward his first poem or story that comes
to life. The ecstasy, the pain, and thrill of creating
and bearing are they not all here, too ? I know that
often one s "child" is unworthy, uncouth, sometimes
deformed, or, worse, a misshapen and appalling mon
ster, a criminal product, as it were ; but none the less he
is one s own, and one s love will accompany him, even
as a mother s, to the gallows.
" It never rains but it pours," says a homely old
adage. I thought this was the case with me now.
Within a few days after I got that letter and check, lo
and behold! I had three stories accepted by a certain
Western magazine. I was sure now that I was not
only going to be famous immediately, but fabulously
Three stories, say, at fifty dollars each, made a
hundred and fifty; add the fifty I had from the New
York magazine, and you perceive I would possess two
hundred dollars. Then do not forget that I had as
well a little black suitcase full of other stories and
poems, and an abortive effort at a novel, to say noth
ing of a score of articles about Jamaica. Besides, my
head was teeming with extraordinary and unusual
plots and ideas, at least they seemed extraordinary
and original to me, and I felt that all I had to do
was to shut myself up somewhere alone, and out they
I now sat down on the floor, with my suitcase before
me, and I made a list of all my stories, put prices oppo
site them, added up the list, and, bedad! as O Brien
would say, I was a rich girl !
In fact I felt so confident and recklessly happy that
nothing would do but I must treat Lolly and Hermann
to a fine dinner and the theater. My fifty dollars
dropped to forty. But of course I was to get one hun
dred and fifty for those other three stories. It s true,
the letter accepting them did not mention the price,
but I supposed that all magazines paid about the same,
and even though in the case of the Western magazine
I was to be "paid upon publication," I was sure my
stories would be published soon. In fact, I thought
it a good thing that I was not paid all at once, because
then I might be tempted to spend the money. As it
was, it would come in just about the time I was through
with the fifty.
If my ignorance in this matter seems infantile, I
think I may confidently refer my readers to certain
other authors who in the beginning of their careers
have been almost as credulous and visionary as I. It s
a matter of wonder how any person who is capable of
writing a story can in other matters be so utterly im
practical and positively devoid of common sense.
I never saw fifty dollars fly away as quickly as that
fifty dollars of mine. I really don t know what it
went for, though I did swagger about a bit among
my friends. I took Mrs. Kingston and Mrs. Owens,
the woman who lived with her, to the theater, and I
went over to the Y. W. C. A. several times and treated
Estelle and a lot of my old acquaintances to ice-cream
sodas and things like that.
I avidly watched the news-stands for the December
number of that Western magazine to appear, and when
it did come out, I was so sure at least one of my stories
was in it, that I was confounded and stunned when I
found that it was not. I thought some mistake must
have been made, and bought two other copies to make
I was now down to my last six dollars. I awoke to
the seriousness of my position. I would have to go to
work again and immediately. The thought of this
hurt me acutely, not so much because I hated the work,
but because I realized that my dream of instant fame
and fortune was in fact only a dream.
The December number of the New York magazine
also was out, but my story was not in it. I wrote to
the editors of both the Eastern and Western maga
zines, and asked when my stories would appear. I
got answers within a few days. The New York maga
zine said that they were made up for several months
ahead, but hoped to use my story by next summer,
it was the first week in December now, and the
Western magazine wrote vaguely that they planned to
use my stories in " the near future."
I wrote such a desperate letter to the editor of that
Western magazine, imploring him to use my stories
very soon, that I must have aroused his curiosity, for
he wrote me that he expected to be in Chicago " some
time next month," and would be much pleased to call
upon me and discuss the matter of the early publication
of my stories and others he would like to have me write
I said my fifty dollars flew away from me. I except
the last six dollars. I performed miracles with that.
I paid my share of our room-rent for a week three
dollars and lived eleven days on the other three.
At the end of those eleven days I had exactly ten
For two reasons I did not tell Lolly. In the first
place, while I had not lied to her, I had in my ego
tistical and fanciful excitement led her to believe that
not only had I sold the four stories, but that they had
been paid for. And in the second place, Lolly at this
time was having bitter troubles of her own. They
concerned Marshall Chambers. She was suffering un
told tortures over that man the tortures that only a
suspicious and passionately jealous woman who loves
can feel. She had no tangible proof of his infidelities,
but a thousand little things had occurred that made
her suspect him. They quarreled constantly, and then
passionately "made up." So I could not turn to
I had not heard a word from Mr. Hamilton, and
after that glowing, boastful letter I had written, how
could I now appeal to him? The mere thought tor
mented and terrified me.
Toward the end, when my money had faded down
to that last six dollars, I had been desperately seeking
work. I think I answered five hundred advertisements
at least, but although now I was well dressed, an asset
to a stenographer, and had city references (Fred s),
I could get nothing. My strait, it will be perceived,
was really bad, and another week s rent had fallen
I did n t have any dinner that evening when I went
over to Mrs. Kingston s, but I had on my beautiful
blue velvet suit. My luncheon had been a single ham
sandwich. Mrs. Kingston had called me up on the
telephone early in the day, and invited me over for
the evening, saying she had some friends who wished
to meet me.
Her friends proved to be two young men from
Cincinnati who were living and working in Chicago.
One, George Butler, already well known as a Socialist,
was head of a Charities Association Bureau (I hys
terically thought it an apropos occasion for me to meet
a man in such work), and the other, Robert Bennet,
was exchange editor of the News. Butler was ex
ceedingly good-looking, but he had a thick, baggy-
looking mouth, and he dressed like a poet, at least
I supposed a poet would dress something like that,
wearing his hair carelessly tossed back, a turn-over
soft collar, flowing tie, and loose-fitting clothes that
looked as if they needed to be pressed.
Bennet had an interesting face, the prominent at
tribute of which was an almost shining quality of
honesty. It illuminated his otherwise rugged and
homely countenance, and gave it a curious attraction
and strength. I can find no other word to describe
that expression. He wore glasses, and looked like a
student, and he stooped a little, which added to this im
pression. Both boys were in their early twenties, I
should say, and they roomed together somewhere near
Jane Addams s Hull House, where both worked at
night, giving their services gratuitously as instructors
in English. They were graduates of Cornell.
Butler talked a great deal about Socialism, and he
would run his hand through his hair, as Belasco does
on first nights. Bennet, on the other hand, was a good
listener, but talked very little. He seemed diffident
and even shy, and he stammered slightly.
On this night I was in such a depressed mood that,
despite Mr. Butler s eloquence, I was unable to rouse
myself from the morbid fancies that were now flood
ing my mind. For the imagination that had carried
me up on dizzying dreams of fame now showed me
pictures of myself starving and homeless ; and just as
the first pictures had exhilarated, now the latter terri
fied and distracted me.
Mrs. Kingston noticed my silence, and asked me if
I were not feeling well. She said I did not seem quite
myself. I said I was all right. When I was going,
she asked me in a whisper whether I had heard from
Mr. Hamilton, and I shook my head; and then she
wanted to know whether he knew of my " success."
Something screamed and cried within me at that ques
tion. My success ! Was she mocking me then ?
Bennet had asked to see me home, and as it was still
early, only about nine, he suggested that we take
a little walk along the lake.
It was a beautiful night, and though only a few
weeks from Christmas, not at all cold. Mrs. Kingston
had apparently told Mr. Bennet of my writing, for
he tried to make me talk about it. I was not, how
ever, in a very communicative mood. I talked dis-
jointedly. I started to tell him about my stories, and
then all of a sudden I remembered how I was fixed,
and then I could n t talk at all. In fact, I pitied my
self so that I began to cry. It was dark in the street,
and I cried silently ; so I did n t suppose he noticed me
until he stopped short and said :
" You re in trouble. Can t you tell me what is
" I ve got only ten cents in the world," I blurted
" Just ten cents," I said, " and I can t get work."
" Good heavens ! " he exclaimed. " You poor
He was so sorry for me and excited that he stam
mered worse than ever, and I stopped crying, because,
having told some one my secret, I felt better and knew
I d get help somehow.
So then I told him all about how I had come down
to such straits; how I had worked all those months,
and my implicit belief that that fifty dollars would last
till I was paid for the other three stories.
When I was through, Bennet said:
" N-now, 1-look here. I get thirty dollars a week.
I don t need but half of that, and I m going to give you
fifteen a week of it till you get another place."
I protested that I wouldn t think of taking his
money, but I was joyfully hailing him in my heart as
a veritable savior. Before we had reached my
lodging-place, I had not only allowed him to give me
ten dollars, but I agreed to accept ten dollars a week
from him till I got work.
It is curious how, without the slighest compunction
or any feeling even of hurt pride or shame, I was will
ing to accept money like this from a person whom I
had never seen before; yet the thought of asking
Hamilton filled me with a real terror. I believe I
would have starved first. It is hard to explain this.
I had liked to think of myself as doing something very
unusual and fine in refusing help from Hamilton, and
yet where was my logic, since without a qualm I took
money from Bennet? Our natures are full of contra
dictions, it seems to me. Perhaps I can explain it in
this way, however. There was something so tre
mendously good about Bennet, so overpoweringly hu
man and great, that I felt the same as I would have
felt if a woman had offered to help me. On the other
hand, I was desperately in love with Hamilton. I
wanted to impress him. I wanted his good opinion.
I unconsciously assumed a pose perhaps that is it
and I had to live up to it. Then I have often thought
that almost any woman would have confidently ac
cepted help from Bennet, but might have hesitated to
take anything from Mr. Hamilton.
Some men inspire us with instant confidence ; we are
" on guard " with others. I can write this analysis
now; I could not explain it to myself then.
NOW my life assumed a new phase. No man like
Bennet can come into a woman s life and not
make a deep impression. I have said that Dick was
my " shadow." Bennet was something better than
that. He was my protector, my guide, and my teacher.
He did not, as Dick had done, begin immediately to
make love to me, but he came persistently to see me.
Always he brought some book with him, and now for
the first time in my life the real world of poetry be
gan to open its doors for me. I a poet ! Oh, me !
Hamilton had filled my bookshelves with novels,
chiefly by French authors. They were of absorbing
interest to me, and they taught me things just as if I
had traveled ; but Bennet read to me poetry Keats,
Shelley, Byron, Browning, Tennyson, Heine, Milton,
and others. For hours I sat listening to the jeweled
words. No, I could not write poetry, I never shall,
- but I had the hungry heart of the poet within me. I
know it; else I could not so vividly, so ardently have
loved the poetry of others.
I cannot think of my acquaintance with Bennet with
out there running immediately to my mind, like the re
frain of an old song, some of those exquisite poems he
read to me read so slowly, so clearly, so subtly, that
every word pierced my consciousness and understand
ing. Else how could a girl like me have gasped with
sheer delight over the " Ode to a Grecian Urn " ?
What was there in a poem like that to appeal to a girl
of my history?
When we did not stay in and read, Bennet would
take me to some good theater or concert, and I went
several times with him to Hull House. There twice
a week he taught a class in English poetry. The girls
in his class were chiefly foreigners, Russian Jew
esses, Polish and German girls, and for the most
part they worked in factories and stores; but they
were all intelligent and eager to learn. They made
me ashamed of my own indolence. I used to fancy
that most of his pupils were secretly in love with Ben-
net. They would look at his inspired young face as
if they greatly admired him, and I felt a sense of flat
tering pride in the thought that he liked only me. Oh,
I could n t help seeing that, though he had not then told
Sometimes he took me over to his rooms. They
were two very curious, low-roofed rooms down in the
tenement-house district, completely lined with books.
Here Butler, with his pipe in his loose mouth, used to
entertain me with long talks on Socialism, and once
he read me some of Kipling s poems. That was my
first acquaintance with Kipling. It was an unforget-
able experience. In these rooms, too, Bennet read me
" Undine," some of Barrie s stories, and Omar Khay
Those were clean, inspiring days. They almost
compensated for everything else that was sad and ugly
in my life. For sad and ugly things were happening
to me every day, and I had had no word, no single
sign, from Mr. Hamilton. I tried to shut him from
my mind. I tried hard to do that, especially as I knew
that Robert Bennet was beginning to care for me too
well. Through the day, it was easy enough. I could
do it, too, when Bennet read to me from the poets;
but, ah, at night, that was when he slipped back in
sidiously upon me! Sometimes I felt that if I did
not see him soon, I should go mad just from longing
and desire to see his dear face and hear the sound of
his cruel voice.
I got a position about two weeks after I met Bennet.
It was in a steel firm; I stayed there only two days.
There were two other stenographers, and the second
day I was there, the president of the firm decided to
move me from the outer to his private office, to do his
work. Both of the girls looked at each other so sig
nificantly when my desk was carried in that I asked
them if anything was the matter. One of them
shrugged her shoulders, and the other said:
" You 11 find out for yourself."
Within ten minutes after I entered that inner office
I did. I was taking dictation at a little slat on the
desk of the president when he laid a photograph upon
my book, and then, while I sat dum founded, trying to
look anywhere save at what was before me, he laid
more photographs, one after the other, on top of that
first one, which was the vilest thing I have ever seen
in my life.
The girls at the Y. W. C. A. and the girls at the
stock-yards used to talk about their experiences in of
fices, and we used to laugh at the angry girls who de
clared they did this or that to men who insulted them.
As I have written before, I had become hardened to
such things, and when I could, I simply ignored them.
They were one of the dirty things in life that working-
girls had to endure. But now, as I sat at that desk,
I felt rushing over me such a surge of primitive and
outraged feeling that I could find no relief save in
some fierce physical action. I seized those photo
graphs, and slammed them into the face of that leering
After that I went from one position to another. I
took anything I could get. Sometimes I left because
the conditions were intolerable ; sometimes because they
did not pay me; usually I was allowed to go after a
brief trial in which I failed to prove my competence.
I was very bad at figures, and most offices require a
certain amount of that kind of work from their stenog
raphers. These were the places where I failed.
Of course, changing my position and being out of
work so much, I made little progress, and although I
had had only twenty dollars from Bennet, I was un-
able to pay him back. I had hoped to by Christmas,
now only a week off.
And now something happened that caused a big
change in my life; that is, it forced me at last to sepa
rate from Lolly. For some time she had been most
unhappy, and one evening she confided to me her sus
picions of Chambers. She said she had " turned
down " Hermann, who wanted to marry her, for
Chambers, though friends had warned her not to trust
him; but that though he had at times been brutal to
her, she adored him. Pacing up and down the room,
she told me that she wished she knew some way to
prove him. It was then that I made my fatal offer. I
" Lolly, I could have told you long ago about Cham
bers. I know he is no good. If I were you, I d have
nothing more to do with him."
Lolly stopped in her pacing, and stared at me.
" How do you know? " she demanded.
" Because," I said, " he s tried several times to make
love to me."
" You lie, Nora Ascough ! " she cried out in such a
savage way that I was afraid of her. If I had been
wiser, perhaps, I might have reassured her and let her
think I did lie. Then the matter would have ended
there ; but I had to plunge in deeper.
" Lolly, I 11 prove it to you, if you wish."
" You can t," retorted Lolly, her nostrils dilating.
" Yes, I can, I say. He s coming to-night, is n t
he? Well, you stay in that inner room, by the door.
Let me sec him alone here. Then you 11 see for your
She considered the suggestion, with her eyes half
closed, blowing the smoke slowly from her lips, and
looking at the tip of her cigarette. Then she shrugged
her shoulders and laughed sneeringly.
" The trouble with you, Nora, is that because a lot
of muckers at the Union Stock- Yards got stuck on
you, a few poor devils of newspaper men are a little
smitten, and a fast rich man tried to keep you, you im
agine every other man is after you."
I could n t answer that. It was untrue. None the
less, it hurt. I had never in my life boasted to Lolly
about men. I supposed she knew that, like every other
girl who is thrown closely into contact with men, I
naturally got my share of attention. I had long ago
realized the exact value of this. The girls at the
yards, for instance, used to say that the men would
even go after a hunchback or a girl that squinted if she
gave them any encouragement. And as for Robert
Bennet and Dick, it was mean of Lolly to refer to them
in that contemptuous way. Lolly, I think, regretted
a moment later what she had said. She was as gener
ous and impulsive as she was hasty in temper. Now
she said :
" Forget I said that, Nora. Just for fun I 11 try
your plan. Of course, it s ridiculous. Marshall has
never looked upon you as anything but a joke. I mean
he thinks you re a funny little thing ; but as for any
thing else " Lolly blew forth her cigarette smoke
in derision at the notion.
Chambers came about eight-thirty. They never an
nounced him, but we knew his double knock, and Lolly
slipped into the inner room, but did not close the door
I had taken up Lolly s mandolin, and now I painfully
tried to pick out a tune on the strings. Chambers
stood watching me, smiling, and when I finally did
manage " The Last Rose of Summer," he said :
" Bully for you ! "
Then he looked about quickly and said :
I nodded. Whereupon he sat down beside me.
" Want to learn the mandolin ? " he asked.
I nodded, smiling.
" This is the way," he said. He was on my left
side, and putting his arm about my waist, and with his
right hand over my right hand, he tried to teach me to
use the little bone picker; but while he was doing this
he got as close to me as he could, and as I bent over
the mandolin, so did he, till his face came right against
mine, and he kissed me.
Then something terrible happened. Lolly screamed.
She screamed like a person gone mad. Chambers and
I jumped apart, and I felt so weak I was afraid to go
inside that room. Just then Hermann came rushing
in with the landlady. She had heard Lolly s screams,
and she wanted to know what was the trouble. I said
Lolly was ill ; but as soon as she went out, I told Her
mann the truth. When Chambers realized that he was
the victim of a trap, and while Lolly was still crying,
a moaning sort of cry now, he picked up his hat
and made for the door. There he encountered Her
mann, all of whose teeth were showing. Hermann s
hand shot up to Chambers s collar, and he threw him
bodily from the room. How he did this, I am sure
I don t know, for Chambers was a larger and seem
ingly much stronger man than Hermann. Then Her
mann went in to Lolly, and I, feeling like a criminal,
I had never seen a woman in hysterics before. Lolly
was lying on her back on the bed, with her arms cast
out on each side. Her face was convulsed, and she was
gasping and crying and moaning and laughing all at
the same time. Hermann put his arms about her,
and tried to soothe and comfort her, and I, crying my
self now, begged her to forgive me. She screamed at
me, " Get out of my sight ! " and kept on upbraiding
and accusing me. She seemed to think that I must
have been flirting with Chambers for some time, and
she said I was a snake. She said she hated me, and
that if I did not go " at once ! at once ! at once ! " she d
I did n t know what to do, and Hermann said :
" For God s sake ! Nora, go ! "
I packed my things as quickly as I could. I had no
trunk, but two suitcases, and I made bundles of the
things that would not go into them. I told Hermann
I d send for the things in the morning. Then I put
on my coat and hat, and took the suitcase with my
manuscripts and my night things. Before going, I
went over to the bed and again begged Lolly to forgive
me, assuring her that I never had had anything to do
with Chambers till that night. I told her that I loved
her better than any other girl I knew, better than my
sisters even, and it was breaking my heart to leave her
in this way. I was sobbing while I talked, but though
she no longer viciously denounced me, she turned her
face to the wall and put her hands over her ears. Then
I kissed her hand, women of my race do things like
that under stress of emotion, and, crying, left my
I WENT direct to Mrs. Kingston s. As soon as I
walked in with my bag in my hand, she knew
I had come to stay, and she was so delighted that she
seized me in her arms and hugged me, saying I was
her " dearest and only Nora." She took me right up
to what she thought were to be my rooms, but I said I
preferred the little one, and after we had talked it over
a bit, she said she agreed with me. It was much bet
ter for me to have only what I myself could afford.
I did n t tell her a word about Lolly. That was my
poor friend s secret; but I told her of my straitened af
fairs, my poor position and that I owed money to Ben-
net. When I ended, she said :
" That boy s an angel. I can t wish you any better
luck than that you get him."
" He is simply crazy about you, Nora. Can t talk
about anything else, and you could n t do better if you
searched from one end of the United States to the
other. He s of a splendid family, and he s going to
make a big name for himself some day, you mark my
I agreed with all her praise of Bennet, but I told her
I thought of him only as a friend, as I did of Fred
O Brien for instance.
She shook her head at me, sighed, and said that she
supposed I still cared for " that man Hamilton," and I
did n t answer her. I just sat on the side of the bed
staring out in front of me. After a moment she
" Of course, if that s the way you feel, for heaven s
sake! let poor Bennet alone; though if I were you, it
would n t take me long to know which of those two
men to choose between."
"You d take Bennet, wouldn t you?" I asked
heavily, and she replied :
" You better believe I would ! "
" Don t you like Mr. Hamilton? " I asked wistfully.
" I don t entirely trust him," said she. " Candidly,
Nora, that was a nasty trick he tried to play us here.
I was on to him, but I did n t know just where you
stood with him, and I m not in the preaching business.
I let people do as they like, and I myself do what I
please ; and then, of course, Lord knows I need all the
money I can get." She sighed. Poor woman, she
was always so hard up! " So if he wanted to take
those rooms and pay the price, I was n t going to be
the one to stand in the way. Still, I was not going to
let him pull the wool over your eyes, poor kiddy."
" I suppose not," I assented languidly. I was un
utterably tired and heartsick, with the long strain of
those weeks, and now with this quarrel with Lolly, and
I said, " Yet I d give my immortal soul to be with him
again just for a few minutes even."
" You would ? " she said. " You want to see him as
much as all that? "
I nodded, and she said pityingly :
" Don t love any man like that, dear. None of them
is worth it."
I didn t answer. What was the use? She said I
looked tired out, and had better go to bed, and that
next day she would send the man who looked after the
furnace for my belongings.
Mrs. Kingston was really delighted to have me with
her. She said she could have had any number of girls
in her house before this, but that she had set her heart
on having just me, because I was uncommon. She had
a funny habit of dismissing people and things as " ordi
nary and commonplace." I was not that, it seems.
Here was I now in a really dear little home, not a
boarder, but treated like a daughter not only by Mrs.
Kingston, but by Mrs. Owens, who quickly made me
call her " Mama Owens." She was a pretty woman of
about sixty, with lovely dark eyes, and white wavy hair
that I often did up. She had periodical spells of ill
ness, I don t know just what. Both Mrs. Kingston
and Mrs. Owens were widows.
I brightened up a bit after I got there, for they
would n t give me a chance to be blue. We had a
merry time decorating the house with greens and holly,
and we even had a big Christmas-tree. Mama Owens
said she could n t imagine a Christmas without one.
Just think, though I was one of fourteen children (two
of the original sixteen had died), I can never remem
ber a Christmas when we had a tree!
Bennet came over and helped us with the decora
tions, and he and Butler were both invited to the Christ
mas dinner. Butler could not come, as he was due at
some Hull House entertainment, but Bennet expected
to have dinner with us before going to work. He was
working nights now, and would not have Christmas
I was getting only twelve dollars a week at this time,
so I had little enough money to spend on Christmas
presents. I did, however, buy books for Bennet and
Mrs. Kingston and Mrs. Owens. Also for Lolly, to
whom I had written twice, begging her to forgive me.
She never answered me, but Hermann wrote me a
note, advising me to " leave her alone till she gets over
I had to walk to work for two days after that, as
I did n t have a cent left, and I did without luncheon,
too. I rather enjoyed the walk, but it was hard get
ting up so early, as I had to be at the office at eight.
I was working for a clothing firm not unlike the one
Estelle was with, and I had obtained the position, by
the way, through Estelle.
On Christmas eve Margaret had to go to the house
of a client in regard to some case, so mama and I were
left alone. We were decorating the tree with strings
of white and colored popcorn and bright tinsel stuff,
and I was standing on top of a ladder, putting a crown
ing pinnacle on the tree, a funny, fat, little Santa
Claus, when our bell rang. Our front door opened
into the reception hall, where our tree was, so when
mama opened the door and I saw who it was, I almost
fell off the ladder. He called out :
" Careful! " dropped his bag, came over to the lad
der, and lifted me down. You can t lift a girl down
from a ladder without putting your arms about her,
and I clung to him, you may be sure. He kept smooth
ing my hair and cheek, and saying, I think he
thought I was crying against his coat, " Come, now,
Nora, it s all right ! Everything s all right ! " and
then he undid my hands, which were clinging to his
shoulders, and shook himself free.
Mama Owens had never met him, so I had to intro
duce them. She scolded me dreadfully afterward
about the way I had acted, though I tried to explain to
her that it was the surprise and excitement that had
made me give way like that.
It was queer, but from the very first both Margaret
and Mama Owens were prejudiced against him. Both
of them loved me and were devoted to Bennet. They
were planning to make a match between us. Hamil
ton was the stumbling-block; and although in time he
partly won Margaret over, he never moved mama,
who always regarded him as an intruder in our " little
I now hinted and hinted for her to leave us alone,
but she would n t budge from the room for the longest
time. So I just talked right before her, though she
kept interrupting me, requiring me to do this or that.
She did n t ask him to do a thing, though if Bennet
had been there, she would have seated herself com
fortably and let him do all the work.
However, I was so happy now that it did n t matter
if all the rest of the world was disgruntled. I hugged
Mama Owens, and told her if she did n t stop being so
cross, Mr. Hamilton and I would go out somewhere
and leave her " all by her lonesome." I could do al
most anything with her and Margaret, and I soon had
her in a good humor; she even went off to get some
Christmas wine for Mr. Hamilton.
I had in a general way told Roger something of
what I had been doing since I had seen him ; but I did
not tell him of the straits to which I had come, or of
the money I had borrowed from Bennet. He sus
pected that I had passed through hard times, however.
He had a way of picking up my face by the chin and
examining it closely. The moment we were alone, he
led me under the gas-light, and looked at me closely.
His face was as grave as if he were at a funeral, and
I tried to make fun of it; but he said :
" Nora, you don t look as well as you should."
I said lightly :
" That s because you did n t come to see me."
" I came," he returned, " as soon as you did what I
told you. As soon as Mrs. Kingston sent me word
that you were here, I came, though it was Christmas
eve, and I ought to be in Richmond."
I saw what was in his mind : he thought I had taken
those rooms ! I put my arm through his, just to hold
to him in case he went right away, while I told him I
had only the little room.
He said, with an expressive motion:
" Well, I give you up, Nora."
" No, please, don t give me up. I 11 die if you do."
Margaret came in then, and she greeted him very
cordially. She chuckled when I called her a " sly
thing " for writing to him, and she said she had to let
him know, since he had paid for the big room.
" Yes, but you did n t tell him I had the little room,"
" What does it matter ? " laughed Margaret. " You
two are always making mountains out of molehills.
Life s too short to waste a single moment of it in argu
" You are perfectly right After this, Nora and I
are not going to quarrel about anything. She s go
ing to be a reasonable child."
I had to laugh. I knew what he meant by my being
reasonable. Nothing mattered this night, however,
except that he had come. I told him that, and put my
cheek against his hand. I was always doing things
like that, for although he was undemonstrative, and
the nearest he came to caressing me was to smooth my
cheek and hair, I always got as close to him as I could.
I d slip my hand through his arm, or put my hand in
his, and my head against him ; and when we were out
anywhere, I always had my hand in his pocket, and
he d put his hand in over mine. He liked them, too,
these ways of mine, for he used to look at me with a
queer sort of grim smile that was nevertheless tender.
He was a man used to having his own way, how
ever, and he did n t intend to give in to me in this mat
ter of the rooms. So this is how he finally arranged
things : I was to have the little room, and he would
take the suite in front. When he was in Chicago, he
would use these rooms ; but when he was not, I was to
have the use of them, and he made me promise that I
would use the big room for writing.
This arrangement satisfied Mrs. Kingston and de
lighted me, but mama was inclined to grumble. She
wanted to know just why he should maintain rooms
in the house, anyway, and just what he was " after "
me for. She was in a perverse and cranky mood. She
talked so that I put my hand over her mouth and said
she had a bad mind.
Roger explained to Margaret he pretended to ig
nore mama, but he was talking for her especially
that they need have no anxiety in regard to his in
tentions toward me; that they were purely disinter
ested ; in fact, he felt toward me pretty much as they
did themselves. I was an exceptional girl who ought
to be helped and befriended; that he had never made
love to me, and, he added grimly, that he never would.
My! how I hated mama at that moment for causing
him to say that. In fact he talked so plausibly that
Margaret and I threw black looks at mama for her
gratuitous interference, and Margaret whispered to
me that it should not happen again. Mama " stuck to
her guns," however, and finally said :
" Well, let me ask you a question, Mr. Hamilton.
Are you in love with Nora ? "
He looked over my head and said :
That was the first time he had directly denied that
he cared for me, and my heart sank. I would n t look
at him, I felt so badly, nor did I feel any better when,
after a moment, he added :
" I m old enough to be Nora s father, and at my
time of life I m not likely to make a fool of myself
even for Nora."
" Hm! " snorted mama, " that all sounds very fine,
but what about Nora ? Do you pretend that she is not
in love with you? "
His stiff expression softened, but he said very bit
terly, I thought :
" Nora is seventeen."
Then he laughed shortly, and added : " I don t see
how it can hurt her to have me for a friend, do you ?
As far as that goes, even if she does imagine herself in
love with me, a closer acquaintance might lead to a
complete cure and disillusionment, a consummation, I
presume, much to be desired."
He said this with so much bitterness, and even pain,
that I ran over to him and put my face against his
" Wait a bit, Nora. We d better get this matter
settled once and for all," he said. " Either I am to
come here, with the understanding and consent of these
ladies, whenever I choose and without interference of
any sort, or I will not come at all."
" Then I won t stay, either," I cried. " Margaret,
you know that if he never comes to see me again, I 11
jump into Lake Michigan."
They all laughed at that, and it broke up the strained
conversation. Margaret said in her big, gay way :
"Of course you can come and go as you please.
The rooms are yours, and I should n t presume to dic
tate to you." And then she said to mama : " Amy,
you ve had too much wine. Let it alone."
EVERYTHING being made clear, Roger and I
went up to his rooms. He shut the door, and
said that " the two old ones " were all right enough,
but he had come over 250 miles to see me, and he did n t
care a hang what they or any one else thought, and that
if they d made any more fuss, he d have taken me
away from there without further parley. Then he
asked me something suddenly that made me laugh. He
wanted to know if I was afraid of him, and I asked :
"Why should I be?"
" You re right," he replied, " and you need never
be, Nora. You can always trust me."
I said mischievously:
" It s the other way. I think you re afraid of me."
He frowned me down at that, and demanded to
know what I meant, but I could n t explain.
He lighted the logs in the fireplace, and pulled up
the big Morris chair and a footstool before it. He
made me sit on the stool at his knee. Then we talked
till it was pretty late, and mama popped her head in
and said I ought to go to bed. I protested that as I
did n t have to go to work next day, I need not get up
early. Roger said she was right, and that he must be
I had thought he was going to spend Christmas with
me, and I was so dreadfully disappointed that I nearly
cried, and he tried to cheer me up. He said he
wouldn t go if he could help it, but that his people
expected him home at least at Christmas. That was
the first time he had ever referred to his " people," and
I felt a vague sense of jealousy that they meant more
to him than I did. But I did not tell him that, for he
suddenly leaned over me and said:
" I d rather be here with you, Nora, than anywhere
else in the world."
I sat up at that, and said triumphantly:
" Then you must care for me if that s so."
" Have I ever pretended not to? " he asked.
" You told them down-stairs "
He snapped his fingers as though what he had said
there did n t count.
" Well, but you must be more than merely interested
in me," I said.
" Interest is a pretty big thing, is n t it ? " he said
" Not as big as love," I said.
" We re not going to talk about love," he replied.
" We 11 have to cut that out entirely, Nora."
" But I thought you said you wanted me to go on
loving you, and that I was not to stop, no matter what
He stirred uneasily at that, and then, after a mo
ment, he said:
" That s true. Never stop doing that, will you,
sweetheart ? "
You see, I was succeeding beautifully with him when
he called me that. He regretted it a moment later,
for he rose and began fussing with his bag. I followed
him across the room. I always followed him every
where, just like a little dog. He took a little package
out of his bag, and he asked me if I remembered the
day in the carriage, when he told me to open my mouth
and shut my eyes. Of course I did. He said that I
was to shut my eyes now, but I need not open my
mouth. He d give me the real prize now.
So then I did, and he put something about my neck.
Then he led me over to the mirror, and I saw it was a
At that time I had not the remotest idea of the value
of jewelry. I had never possessed any except the ring
Dick had given me. In a vague sort of way I knew
that gold and diamonds were costly things, and of
course I supposed that pearls were, too. It was not,
therefore, the value of his present that impressed me,
for I frankly looked upon it merely as a " pretty neck
lace " ; but I was enchanted to think he had remem
bered me, and when I opened my eyes and saw them,
they looked so creamy and lovely on my neck that I
wanted to hug him for them. However, he held me
off at arm s length, to " see how they looked " on me.
He said I was not to wear them to work, but only on
special occasions, when he was there and took me to
places, and that he was going to get me a little safe in
which to keep them. I thought that ridiculous, to get
a safe just to keep a string of beads in; and then he
laughed and said that the " beads " were to be only the
forerunner of other beautiful things he was going to
I had never cared particularly about jewelry or such
things. I had never had any, and never had wanted
any. I liked pretty clothes and things like that but
I had never thought about the subject of jewelry. I
told this to Roger and he said he would change all
He was, in fact, going to cultivate in me a taste for
the best in everything, he said. I asked him why. It
seemed to me that nothing was to be gained by acquir
ing a taste for luxurious things for a girl in my po
sition, and he replied in a grim sort of way :
" All the same, you re going to have them. By and
by you won t be able to do without them."
" Jewels and such things? "
"Yes jewels and such things." Then he added:
" There need never be a time in your life when I
won t be able to gratify your least wish, if you will let
When he was putting on his coat, he asked me what
sort of position I had, and I told him it was pretty bad.
He said he wished me to go down to see Mr. Forman,
the president of a large wholesale dry-goods firm. He
added that he had heard of a good position there
short hours and good salary. I was delighted, and
asked him if he thought I d get the position, and he
smiled and said he thought I would.
He was drawing on his gloves and was nearly ready
to go when he asked his next question, and that was
whether I had made any new acquaintances ; what men
I had met, and whether I had been out anywhere with
any particular man. He usually asked me those ques
tions first of all, and then would keep on about them all
through his visit. I hesitated, for I was reluctant to
tell him about Bennet. He roughly took me by the
shoulder when I did not answer him at once, and he
" Well, with whom have you been going out? "
I told him about Bennet, but only about his coming
to see me, his reading to me, and of my going to his
and Butler s rooms, and to Hull House. He stared at
me so peculiarly while I was speaking that I thought
he was angry with me, and he suddenly took off his
coat and hat and sat down again.
" Why did n t you tell me about this chap before? "
he asked me suddenly.
" I thought you would n t be interested," I quibbled.
" That is not true, Nora," he said. " You knew
very well I would."
He leaned forward in the chair, with his hands
gripped together, and stared at the fire, and then he
said almost as if to himself :
" If I had come on, this would n t have happened."
" Nothing has happened," I insisted.
" Oh, yes, this er Bennet is undoubtedly in
love with you."
"Well, suppose he is?" I said. "What does it
matter to you? If you don t care for me, why
should n t other men ? "
He turned around and looked at me hard a moment.
Then he got up, walked up and down a while, and then
came over and took my face up in his hand.
" Nora, will you give up this chap if I ask you to ? "
I was piling up proof that he cared for me more than
he would admit. I said flippantly:
" Old Dog in the Manger, will you love me if I
He said in a low voice:
" I can t."
I said sadly:
"Is it so hard, then?"
" Yes, harder than you know," he replied.
Then he wanted to know what Bennet looked like.
I painted a flattering picture. When was he coming?
To Christmas dinner, I told him.
It was now very late, and I heard the clock in the
hall strike twelve, and I asked him if he heard the rein
deer bells on the roof.
" Nora, I don t hear or see anything in the world but
you," he replied.
"If that s so, you must be as much in love with
me as I am with you," I told him.
He said, " Nonsense," and looked around, as if he
were going to put his things on again.
" Stay over Christmas ! " I begged, and after star
ing at me a moment, he said :
" Very well, I will, then."
That made me tremendously excited. Mama came
down the hall and called :
" Nora, are n t you in bed yet ? " I called out :
" I m going now." Then I seized his hand quickly,
kissed it, and ran out of the room to my own.
EARLY next morning while we were at breakfast,
a huge box of flowers and a Christmas package
from Bennet came for me. It was fun to see Roger s
face when I was unwrapping the flowers. I think he
would have liked to trample upon them, he who did not
love me! They were chrysanthemums, and the other
present was a beautiful little painting. Mama asked
Hamilton to hang it for us, and he said curtly that he
did n t know anything about such things.
Christmas morning thus started off rather badly, for
any one could see he was cross as a sore bear, which, I
don t mind admitting, gave me a feeling of wicked joy.
To make matters worse, mama began to talk about
Dick. I tried to change the subject, but she persisted,
and wanted to know when I had heard from him last
and whether he was still as much in love with me as
ever. There was no switching her from the subject,
so I left the table, and pretended to fool with the books
in the library. He followed me out there, and his
face was just as black !
" So," he said, with an unpleasant laugh, " you ve
been having little affairs and flirtations right along,
have you ? You re not the naive, innocent baby child
you would like me to think, eh? "
" Now, Roger, look here," I said. " Did n t you tell
me you were n t going to scold me any more, and you
said I could do as I pleased, and be independent and -
" I supposed you would be candid and truthful with
me ; I did n t suppose you d be carrying on cheap little
When he got that far, I turned my back on him and
walked out of the room.
I adored him, but I was not a worm.
I went back to the kitchen, and watched Margaret
clean the turkey and make the stuffing. I thought I
was much interested in that proceeding, but all the time
I was wondering what he was doing, and soon I
could n t stand it any longer, and I went back to the
living-room, which was also our library, but he was not
there. I went up-stairs, with " my heart in my
mouth," fearing he had gone. I found him, if you
please, in my room. He was looking at the photo
graphs on my bureau.
I came up behind him, slipped my hand through his
arm, and rubbed my cheek against his sleeve. I could
see his face in the mirror opposite us slowly soften
" Are you still angry with me for nothing, Roger? "
" Was this fellow Lawrence in love with you, too ? "
" All men are n t like you," I said slyly. " Some
few of them do like me."
He took that in as if it hurt him.
" He s in Cuba, you say ? "
" You hear from him? "
" Where are his letters? "
I could n t show him the letters, I said. So then he
tried to free himself from my hand, but he could n t; I
held so tightly.
" It would n t be square to Dick to show you his let
ters," I said.
" So it s Dick, is it? " he sneered.
" Yes, just as it was Fred with O Brien."
" O Brien was n t in love with you."
" Oh, well, maybe Dick is n t He just thinks he
" Any understanding between you? "
I hesitated. I really think he would have taken
pleasure in hurting me then for that long pause. I
said at last :
" He asked me to wait for him, but I m not going
to, if you 11 come lots to see me."
" Did you promise to ? "
Again I paused, and this time he caught up my face,
but savagely, by the chin.
I lied. I was afraid of him now.
" No," I said.
For a man who did not love a girl he was the most
violently jealous person I have ever known. When he
got through questioning me about Dick, he started in
all over again about Robert Bennet. I foresaw that
we were to have a pretty quarrelsome Christmas, so I
tried my best to change the subject.
I showed him all the photographs on my bureau, of
my father, my mother, and my thirteen brothers and
sisters, and told him about each of them. He listened
with seeming politeness, and then swept the whole
matter aside with :
" Hang your family ! I m not interested in them.
Now, about this Bennet " and he started in all over
Finally, thoroughly exasperated, I turned on him
" You have no right to question or accuse me like
this. No man has that right unless I specially give it
He said roughly:
" Give me the right then, Nora."
" Not unless you care for me," I said. " You say
you are only interested in me. Well, say you love me,
and then I 11 do anything you wish. I won t look
at or speak to or think of any other man in the
" Well, suppose I admit that. Suppose I were to
tell you that I do love you, what would you want then,
" Why, nothing," I said. " That would be every
thing to me, don t you see? I d go to school then,
just as you want me to, and I d study so hard, and try
to pull myself up till I was on your level "
" Oh, good God ! " he said, " you are miles above me
" Not socially," I said. " In the eyes of the world
I m not. I m just a working-girl, and you re a man
in in fashionable society, rich and important. I
guess you could be President if you wanted to,
couldn t you?"
" Oh, Nora! " he said, and I went on :
" Yes, you might. You can t tell. Suppose you got
into politics. You said your grandfather was governor
of your State. Well, why should n t you be, too? So
don t you see, to be your wife, I d have to "
"To be what?" he interrupted me, and then he
said sharply and quickly :
" That s out of the question. Put all thought of
anything like that out of your head. Suppose we
change the subject right now. What do you say to a
I nodded and I tried to smile, but he had hurt me as
hard as it is possible for a man to hurt a woman.
It was not that I looked upon marriage as such a de
sirable goal ; but it was at least a test of the man s sin
cerity. As he had blundered on with his senseless jeal-
ousy of men who did want to marry me, I had dreamed
a little dream.
We had our ride, and then dinner in the middle of
the afternoon. Bennet was there for dinner. He
thought Mr. Hamilton was our new lodger, and before
him at least I did conceal my real feelings. Anyhow,
I confess that I felt none too warmly toward Roger
now. He had descended upon me on this Christmas
day, and while putting his gifts on my neck with one
hand, he had struck me with the other. Do not sup
pose, however, that my love for him lessened. You
can soothe a fever by a cooling drink ; you cannot cure
Bennet had to go immediately after dinner, and I
went with him as far as the door. All our rooms on
the ground floor ran into one another, so that from the
dining-room one could see directly into the reception-
hall. Bob for I always called him that led me
along by the arm, and suddenly mama clapped her
hands loudly, and he seized me and kissed me ! I was
under the mistletoe. Roger knocked over his chair,
and I heard him swear. Bob also heard, but neither of
THAT Christmas visit of Roger s was the first of
many in that house. From that time he came
very frequently to see me, sometimes three or four
times a month; in fact, a week rarely passed without
his appearing. All of his visits were not so tempest
uous as the one I have described, but he was a man
used to ruling people, and he wished to govern and ab
sorb me utterly. Well, I made a feeble enough resist
ance, goodness knows. I was really incredibly happy.
I always used to come home from work with the ex
cited hope of finding him there, and very often he was,
Of course he was exacting and at times even cruel
to me. He really did n t want me to have any friends
at all, and he not only chose all my clothes, but he tried
to sway my tastes in everything. For instance, Ben-
net had cultivated in me a taste for poetry. Roger
pretended that he did n t care for poetry. He said I
would get more good from the books he had chosen
for me, and just because, I suppose, Bennet had read
aloud to me, he made me read aloud to him, sometimes
my own stories, sometimes books he would select; but
The first thing he would always say when he came
in, after he had examined my face, was :
" What s my wonderful girl been reading? "
Then I d tell him, and after that I d have to tell
him in detail everything that had happened through
the week, several times sometimes. He knew, of
course, that Bennet came regularly to see me, and he
used to ask me a thousand questions about those visits ;
and I had a hard time answering them all, particularly
as I did not dare to tell him that every day Bennet
showed by his attitude that he was caring more for me.
He asked me so many questions that I once asked him
seriously if he was a lawyer, and he threw back his
head and laughed.
I had secured a very good position through his in
fluence, for I was private secretary to the president of
one of the largest wholesale dry-goods firms in
Chicago. I had easy hours, from ten till about four.
I had no type-writing at all to do, for another girl took
my dictation. What is more, I received twenty-five
dollars a week.
Besides my good position, Fortune was smiling upon
me in other ways. The Western magazine began to
run my stories. I was the most excited girl in Chicago
when the first one came out, and I telegraphed to Roger
to get the magazine.
And now I must record something about Robert
Bennet. He had been pushed from my pages, just as
he was from my life, by Roger, and yet during all this
time I really saw more of him than of Roger himself.
The day I paid him back the money he lent me he told
me he loved me. Now, I had for him something the
same feeling I had for Fred O Brien a blind sort
of fondness rather than love, and overwhelming
gratitude. It was not so much because of the money
he had lent me, but for the many things he was al
ways trying to do for me. In a way he and Mr.
Butler tried to educate me. They planned a regular
course of reading for me, and helped me in my
study of English. I should not have dared to admit
it to Roger, but those boys were really doing more
for me than he was, and they wished me to enter
Cornell, and wrote to certain professors there about
It s a fact that nearly every man (and some women)
who became interested in me during this period of my
career seemed to think himself called upon to contribute
to my education. I must have been truly a pathetic
and crude little object ; else why did I inspire my friends
with this desire to help me? And everybody gave me
books. Why, that Western editor, after he had met
me only once, sent me all sorts of books, and wrote me
long letters of advice, too.
But about Bennet. When he told me he loved me
and it is impossible for me to say in what a manly
way he declared himself I was too overwhelmed
with mingled feelings, and I was such a sentimental,
impressionable little fool, that I did not have the
strength to refuse him. The first thing I knew, there
I was engaged to him, too !
It was a cruel, dishonest thing for me to accept him.
I see that now; but somehow, then, I was simply too
weak to tell him the truth that I loved another
man. Well, then, as I ve said, I was engaged to Ben-
In a psychological way it might be interesting to note
my feelings at this time toward both Hamilton and
Bennet. I truly was more afraid for Bennet to find
out about Hamilton than for the latter to find out
about Bennet. To Roger I could have defended my
engagement ; but how could I have justified myself to
Robert Bennet, whose respect and liking I desired very
much? Indeed, they were now a potent influence in
my life, a clean, uplifting influence.
Robert Bennet had unconsciously given me a new
ideal of life. My own crude, passionate views were
being adjusted. It was slowly dawning upon me that,
after all, this thing we call convention, which I had
previously so scouted, is in fact a necessary and blessed
thing, and that the code which governs one s conduct
through life is controlled by certain laws we cannot
wilfully break. I had just grown, not like a flower,
but like an unwieldy weed. Robert Bennet and
George Butler were taking me out and showing me a
new world. I was meeting people who were doing
things worth while, sweet women and big men, and
there were times in my life when I realized that the spell
under which Roger held me was an enchantment that
in the end could lead only to degradation or tragedy.
Nevertheless, I could no more break away from his
influence than the poor victim of the hypnotist can
from the master mind that controls him. What is
love, anyhow, but a form of hypnotism? It s an ob
session, a true madness.
Yet Roger Hamilton, in his way, had not deceived
me. He had never once professed to love me. On
the contrary, he had denied that very thing in the pres
ence of Mrs. Kingston and Mrs. Owens. Perhaps if
he had cared for me, if he had given me even some
slight return, my own passion for him, from its very
force, would have spent itself. But he did not. He
kept consistently to his original stand. I was his
special protege, his wonderful girl, his discovery,
his oasis, and compensation for everything else in life,
which he said was sordid, nasty, and wrong. But
that was all I was, it seems, despite his incompre
hensible jealousy, and his occasional unaccountable
moods of almost fierce tenderness toward me.
There were few times that he called me by endearing
terms. Twice, I think, I was his " sweetheart," and
several times I was his " precious girl." Once I was
his " poor little darling," and I was always his " won
Nor was he a man given to demonstrations of affec
tion. My place was always on the stool at his knee.
I used to put my head there, and look with him into
the fire. He never took me in his arms during those
days, though I was always clinging to his hand and
arm. He kissed my hands, my hair, and once my
arms when I was in a new evening gown that he had
chosen for me; but he never kissed my lips.
I loved him blindly and passionately. I used to
save things that he had touched absurd things, like
his cigar-butts, a piece of soap he had used, his gloves,
and a cap he wore on the train. He hunted every
where for it, but I did not give it up. I was like a
well-fed person, with an inner craving for something
impossible to possess.
On my eighteenth birthday Roger gave me a piano.
He had already given me many jewels, some of them
magnificent pieces that I never wore except when he
was there. I kept them locked up in the little safe.
The piano, however, troubled me more than the jewels.
It was big and, therefore, impressed me. When I
protested to him about accepting it, he declared that
he had bought it for himself as much as for me, but
he arranged with a German named Heinrach to give
me vocal lessons, and with a Miss Stern to teach me
the piano. Heinrach said I had an exceptionally fine
contralto voice, but I think Roger told him to say
that. However, I enjoyed the lessons, though I soon
realized that my voice was just an ordinarily good
contralto. Roger said it was good enough for him,
and that he wanted me to sing to him only. He chose
all my songs, French, German, and English.
If I stop here to tell of the attentions and proposals
I received from other men at this time, I m afraid
you will agree with Lolly that my head was a bit
turned. But, no, I assure you it was not. I realized
that almost any girl, thrown among men as I was,
half-way good-looking, interesting, and bright, was
bound to have a great many proposals. So I 11 just
heap all mine together, and tell of them briefly.
One of the chief men in the firm where I worked
asked me to marry him. He was a divorce, a man of
forty-five, but looked younger. He said he made fif
teen thousand dollars a year. He wanted me to marry
him and accompany him on a trip he was to make to
England to buy goods. I refused him, but away
from Roger, I confess there were the germs of a flirt
in me I told him to ask me again as soon as he got
back. I might change my mind. Before sailing, he
brought his young son, a youth of twenty, to see me.
Papa had scarcely reached the English shores before
the son also proposed to me ! He was a dear child.
An insurance agent offered himself to me as a life
An engineer, a politician (Irish), and two clerks in
our office were willing to take " chances " on me.
A plumber who mended our kitchen sink proposed
to me just because I made him a cup of tea.
I had a proposal from a Japanese tea merchant who
years before had been my father s courier in Japan.
Now he was a Japanese magnate, and papa had told
me to look him up. He made a list of every person
he had ever heard me say I did not like, and he told
me if I would marry him, he would do something to
every one of them.
A poet wrote lovely verse to me, and the Chicago
papers actually published it. Finally, that Western
editor proposed to me upon his fourth visit to Chicago,
and I am ashamed to confess that I accepted him, too.
You see, he had accepted my stories, and how could
I reject him? He lived far from Chicago, and the
contemplated marriage was set for a distant date, so
I thought I was safe for the present.
I was now, as you perceive, actually engaged to
three men, and I was in love with one who had flatly
stated he would never marry me. I lived a life of not
un joyous deceit. I had only a few qualms about de
ceiving Roger, for with all these other men proposing
to me, I resented his not doing so, too. However, I
was by no means unhappy. I had a good position,
a charming home, good friends, a devoted admirer in
Bennet, and was not only writing, but selling, stories,
with quite astonishing facility. Add to this my secret
attachment to Roger, and one may perceive that mine
was not such a bad lot. But I was dancing over a
volcano, and even dead volcanos sometimes unexpect
Bob was not an exacting fiance. As he worked at
night, he could not often come to see me ; but he wrote
me the most beautiful letters letters that filled me
with emotion and made me feel like a mean criminal,
for all the time I knew I could never be more to him
than I was then.
Like me, he was an idealist and hero-worshiper, and
in both our cases our idols feet were of clay. I de
liberately blinded myself to every little fault and flaw
in Roger. His selfishness and tyranny I passed over.
It was enough for me that for at least a few days in
the month he descended like a god into my life and
permitted himself to be worshiped.
I made all sorts of sacrifices and concessions to his
wishes. Time and again I broke engagements with
my friends, with Bob and with others, because unex
pectedly he would turn up. He never told me when
he was coming. I think he expected some time to sur
prise me in doing some of the things he often accused
me of doing, for he was very suspicious of me, and
never wholly trusted me.
IT was Bennet s letters that finally got me into trou
ble with Roger. I had been engaged to him only
a little more than two weeks, and I must have dropped
one of his letters in Roger s sitting-room, for on ar
riving home from work one afternoon I found that
he had come in my absence, and, as Margaret warned
me before I went up-stairs, seemed to be in a " tower
ing rage " about something.
He was walking up and down, and he swung around
and glared at me savagely as I stood in the doorway.
He had a paper in his hand (Bennet s letter), and his
face was so convulsed and ugly and accusing that in
voluntarily I shrank back as he came toward me. I
have never seen a man in such an ungovernable rage.
He did not give me a chance to say anything. There
was nothing of which he did not accuse me. I was a
thing whose meaning I did not even know. He, so
he said, had been a deluded fool, and had let himself
be led along by a girl he had supposed too good to take
advantage of him. Yet all the while, while I was
taking gifts yes, the clothes on my back and
other favors, even my position, which I kept only be
cause of Mr. Forman s obligations to him, I had, it
seems, given myself to another man!
The accusations were so gross and monstrous and
black that I could not answer him. I knew what was
in Bennet s letter terms of endearment, expressions
of undying love, and (this is where I came under the
judgment of Roger) the desire to see me soon again
and hold me in his arms.
Yes, Bob had held me in his arms, he believed
I was to be his wife, but I was not the thing Roger
accused me of being. My relations with Bennet were
as pure as a girl s can be. It would have been impos
sible for a girl to have any other kind of relations with
a man like Bennet. I stood bewildered under the
storm of his accusations and cruel reproaches, and the
revelation of the things he had done for me without
my knowledge or consent. At first, as he denounced
me, I had flinched before him, because I was aware
of having really deceived him, in a way; but as he
continued to heap abuse upon me, some rebellious
spirit arose in me to defy him. I had not had an Irish
grandmother for nothing.
I waited till he was through, and then I said :
" You think you are a man, but I declare you are
a brute and a coward. Yes, it is true, I am engaged
to Mr. Bennet, and I defy you to say to him what you
have said to me."
Then I fled from his room to my own. I locked
myself in there. He came knocking at my door, and
rattling at the handle, but I would not open it, and
then he called out:
" Nora, I am going away now forever never
to come back, you understand. You will never see my
face again unless you come out and speak to me now."
But I would not open my door. I heard him going
down-stairs and the slam of the front door. Now I
realized what had happened. He had actually gone !
Never before had he left me like this. I opened my
door, went down-stairs, and then I saw him waiting
for me in the living-room. I tried to run back, but
he was too quick for me. He sprang after me, caught
me in his arms, and half carried me up to his room.
There he locked the door, and put the key into his
pocket. I would n t look at him, I would n t speak to
him. He came over, and tried to put his arms about
me, but I shoved him away, and he said in a voice
I had never heard from him before :
" So I ve lost you, have I, Nora? " And then, as
I would not answer him : " So Bennet cut me out.
That s it, is it?"
"No; no one cut you out but yourself. You ve
shown yourself to me just as you are, and you re ugly.
I hate you ! " and I burst into tears.
He knelt down beside me. I was sitting on the edge
of the big Morris chair, and all the while he talked to
me I had my face covered with my hands.
" Listen to me, Nora. I know I ve said things to
you for which I ought to be horsewhipped ; but I was
nearly insane. I am still. I don t know what to
think of you, what to do to you. The thought that
you-, whom I have cherished as something precious and
different from every one else in my life, have been
deceiving me all these months drives me distracted.
I could kill you without the slightest compunction."
I looked at him at that, and I said:
" Roger, you don t think I ve done anything wrong,
do you ? "
" I don t know what to think," he said. " It is a
revelation to me that you were capable of deceiving
me at all."
" But I am only engaged to Bob; that s all."
" Only engaged! In heaven s name! what do you
mean ? Do you intend to marry this man ? "
" No, I never did; but "
I was beginning to soften a bit to him. I could see
his point of view. He was holding me by the arms
so I could n t get away from him, and when you are
very close like that to a man you love (almost in his
arms) you cannot help being moved. I was, anyway,
and I said:
" I 11 try and explain everything to you, if you
won t be too angry with me."
" Go on."
" Well, you know when I got that fifty dollars, and
gave up my position? Well, I spent it all and got
down to ten cents, and I could n t get work, and I was
nearly starving honestly I was. That last day I
did n t have any dinner and hardly any luncheon or
breakfast. Well then, I met Bob, and I told him
that very first night and he lent me ten dollars, and
insisted that I should take something from him each
week till I got a position."
" In God s name, why did you not ask me? 3
"I couldn t, Roger; I couldn t."
"Why not? Why not?"
" Because because I loved you. I could take
help from a man I did n t love, but not from one I
I began to sob, and he sat down in the Morris chair,
and lifted me up on his knee, but he held me off, so
I could continue with my story.
" Go on now."
So then I told him everything: how, later, when I
at last returned the money to Bennet, he had proposed
to me, and how I could n t help accepting him. " And,
anyway," I finished, " engagements are nothing. I m
engaged to two other men as well."
I thought this was my chance to make a reckless
clean breast of everything.
He tumbled me out of his lap at that, stared at me,
gasped, threw back his head, and burst into a sort of
wild laughter, almost of relief. Then suddenly he
pulled me up into his arms, and held me hard against
his breast for the longest time, just as if he were never
going to let me go again, and then I knew just as well
as anything that he did love me, even though he
would n t admit it. So, with that knowledge, I
was ready to forgive him for anything or everything.
You see, things were all turned about now, and I
was in the position of the accuser and not of the ac
cused, and that despite the attitude he pretended to
assume. He wanted to know if all three of my
friends had kissed me, and I had to admit that they
had, and tell him just how many times. Dick had
kissed me just that one time, Bob four times, and the
Western editor just once. It was a bitter pill for
Roger to swallow, and he said:
" And I have been afraid to touch you."
" That s not my fault," I said. " You can kiss me
any time you wish."
He did n t accept my hint or invitation. He was
walking up and down now, pulling at his lip, and at
last he said :
" Nora, get your things all packed. I 11 have to
take you with me."
" I m obliged to go abroad on a certain pressing
matter. I came here to-day specially to be with you
before leaving. I see I can t leave you behind."
" Do you mean " I said, and for one delirious mo
ment I imagined something that was impossible.
" I mean simply that, though it will be devilishly
inconvenient, I shall be obliged to take you with me.
I can t trust you here."
That thought still persisted in my foolish head, and
" Roger, do you mean that we are going to be mar
He stared at me a moment, and then said shortly :
" No. That s impossible."
I swallowed a lump that came up hard in my throat,
and I could not speak. Then after a moment I said :
" You want to take me, then, because you are afraid
some other man might get me, not because you want
He said, with a slight smile:
* The first part of your statement is certainly true;
the second part is questionable."
" I m not going," I told him.
" Oh, yes, you are."
" Oh, no, I m not."
" Are we to have another combat? "
" I m not going."
" Can t leave your fiance? " he asked.
" I m just not going, that s all."
" What do you intend to do, then, while I m gone? "
" Just what I m doing now."
" You intend to continue your er engage
"No; I ll break that off." I looked at Roger.
" I owe that to him."
" H-m! Owe nothing to me, eh? "
My eyes filled up. I did owe much to him. He
came over, picked my face up by the chin, and then
drew me back to the seat by the fireplace, seating him-
self in the Morris chair, with me on the stool. He
talked very gently to me now, and as if he were speak
ing to a child; but I could think only of one thing
that he was going away and I could not go with him.
Why, he had not even told me he loved me, and though
a few moments before I had believed he did, now the
torturing doubts came up again. If he loved me,
would he not want to marry me? Other men, like
Bob and Dick, did.
" Roger, tell me this," I said. " Suppose I went to
school and then to college, would I be like other
girls I mean society girls girls in your class ? "
" You re better than they are now. You are in a
class all by yourself, Nora."
" Don t answer me like that. You know what I
want to know. Would I be socially their equal, for
" Why, naturally. That s a foolish question,
" No, it is n t. I just want to know. Now, sup
posing I got all that that culture and every
thing, and I had nice manners, and dressed so I looked
pretty and everything and you would n t be a bit
ashamed of me, and we could say my people were all
sorts of grand folks, they really are in England
my father s people, well, suppose all this, and then
suppose that you really loved me, just as I do you,
then would n t I be good enough to be your wife? "
" Nora, why do you persist about that? I tell you
once and for all that that is absolutely out of the ques
tion. I m not going to marry you. In fact, I
" I won t go into details. Let it suffice that there
are reasons, and put the idea out of your head."
So, after that, there was nothing more for me to
say; but he realized I would not go with him. When
he at last resigned himself to this, he made me promise
that while he was gone I would not only break my
engagements with Bennet and the Western editor and
Dick, but that I would in no circumstances let any man
kiss or touch me, or make love to me in any way. He
said if I d promise him that, he d be able to make his
trip to Europe without undue anxiety, and that he
would come back just as soon as he could.
" All right, then," I said ; " I cross my neck."
I wrote three letters that night, all of which he read.
If he had had his way, I would have rewritten them
and worded them differently. He thought I ought to
say: "Dear Mr. Bennet," "Dear Mr. Lawrence,"
etc., instead of " Dear Bob," " Dear Dick." My let
ters were virtually the same in each case. I asked to be
released from my engagement; but I begged Bob to
forgive me, and I said I should never forget him as
long as I lived. Roger argued with me a whole half-
hour to take that out. But I did n t, and I even cried
at the thought of how I was hurting this boy who
loved me. I was so miserable, in fact, that Roger said
we d go out and hear some music, and that would
cheer me up.
Conscience is a peculiar thing. We can shut it up
tightly, and delude ourselves with diversions that in
fatuate and blind us. I did not think of Bob while
Roger was with me. I put on my prettiest dress, one
of the dresses I now knew that he had paid for! It
was a shimmering, Oriental-looking thing that had the
stamp of Paquin upon it, and I had a wonderful
emerald necklace, and a wreath of green leaves, with
little diamonds sprinkled like dew over it, in my hair.
Roger said that there was no one in the world like me.
I suppose there was not. I certainly hope there was
not. I was a fine sort of person!
I think it was the Thomas Orchestra we heard. I
forget. I should have enjoyed it, I suppose, in ordi
nary circumstances, but I could not think of anything
that night except that Roger was going away and that
I might never see him again. And I thought of all
the accidents that occurred at sea, and even though
he was holding my hand under the program, I felt that
I was the most unhappy girl in the world.
We could n t stop to have even a little supper after
the theater, for he was taking a train to New York,
whence he was to sail.
His man Holmes (it was the first time I had ever
seen him) was at the house when we got back, and
had his bag and everything ready, waiting for him.
I thought as he was going away on such a long trip
he would at least kiss me good-by, and I could not
keep from crying when, after we got in, he said right
before Holmes, who would n t leave the room :
" I 11 have to rush now. Be a good girl."
Then he said I was to go down to Mr. Townsend s
(his lawyer s) office, and he would tell me about some
arrangements he himself had made for me, and I was
to write to him every day, though he said nothing
about writing to me. He wrote down an address in
London where I was to send my letters. The only
thing he did that approached a caress was that, when
his man went ahead of him down the stairs, he stopped
in the upper hall, lifted my face, and gave me a long,
searching look. Then he said:
" I m not likely to think about anything but you,
darling." Then he went quickly down the stairs, leav
ing me sobbing up there.
I HAD enough to occupy my thoughts now without
thinking of Bennet. Passionately as I loved
Roger, I perceived that night, in a dim sort of way
and with a burning remembrance of his brutality to
me, that I was fast becoming the infatuated victim of
one who was utterly unworthy. He had not hesitated
to denounce and accuse me of things of which I was
certainly incapable of being guilty. Though he had
said I was his cherished and precious girl, and he knew
I was a good girl (in the sense the world calls good),
yet he did not consider me worthy of being his wife.
It irritated him, that poor aspiration of mine. Yet
other men, better men than he, men who, I do not
doubt, though not possessing his great wealth, were
his social equals, Bennet and my editor, had not
thought me beneath them. I puzzled and tortured my
self over it, but I could find no answer.
No one could deny that I was a clever girl. I was
not the genius O Brien and perhaps Roger believed,
but I certainly was above the average girl in intelli
gence. Not many girls of eighteen are writing stories
and having them accepted by the magazines. And yet,
queerly enough, beyond my one precocious talent, I was
in many ways peculiarly gullible and stupid. Why,
the girls at the Y. W. C. A. teased me in all sorts of
ways because of this, and Estelle used to say a blind
beggar could sell me a gold brick at any street corner,
and I would believe every word he said. This peculiar
streak of credulousness in me was, I suppose, the rea
son I never found out anything about Mr. Hamilton.
He never talked to me about his business or home
affairs. I knew he was president of half a dozen big
firms, because I saw his name on stationery. Some
times he talked to me about his horses and dogs, he
had many of these, but he always said my little dog
Verley, which he had never given back to me, and
which was not, after all, a thoroughbred, was his in
separable companion. Even Mrs. Kingston and Mama
Owens and Lolly knew more about this man than I
Love, it seems, is not only blind, but deaf, dumb,
and paralyzed. I heard nothing, I knew nothing, and,
what is more, I would have believed nothing that was
not good of him. Surely a faith like that is deserving 1
of some reward !
There is an adage of my mother s land something
like this, " Our actions are followed by their conse
quences as surely as a body by its shadow." That
proverb recurred to me in the days that followed.
The morning after Roger went, our bell rang before
I was up. Our servant " slept out," and had not yet
arrived. So Margaret went down, grumbling about
the girl, supposing she had lost her key. As I did n t
have to be at my office till ten, and as I had been up
late, I turned over to go to sleep again, when I heard
Margaret at my door. She came in in her bath-robe.
She said Mr. Butler was down-stairs, and wanted to
see me at once.
I don t know what I thought. I know I felt panic-
stricken and afraid. Roger had sent my note to Bob
by messenger the previous evening, so he had had it
over night. I slipped on a dressing-gown quickly and
Butler was sitting stiffly in the middle of the recep
tion-hall, and as I came down he stood up, though he
did not touch the hand I held out to him. He said
" What did you do to Bennet? "
I felt like an overtaken criminal. I could not say
a word. I could not look at the face of Bennet s
friend. He said:
" Bob had a dinner engagement with me at a friend s
house last night. He did n t turn up. I feared some
thing was wrong. In fact, I ve feared for Bob ever
since he became infatuated with you." Butler did not
mince his words ; he just stabbed me with them. " He
has been walking about the city like a madman all
night long. What did you do to him? "
" Oh, George," I said falteringly, " I had to break
As if distinctly to cut me for calling him " George "
(I had always called him that), he addressed me as
" Miss Ascough."
" Miss Ascough, were you ever really engaged to
He asked that as if the thought of it was something
not at all to his liking. I nodded.
" And you broke it off, you say ? "
Again I nodded.
" Because I didn t love him," I said truthfully.
I was so nervous and conscience-smitten and un
happy, and the room was so cold, that I was seized
with a shivering fit, and could hardly keep my teeth
from chattering; but Butler did not seem at all moved
by my condition.
" May I ask if you were in love, as you call it,
with him when you accepted him ? "
I shook my head. I could not trust myself to speak.
" Why did you accept him, then? "
" He had been good to me," I faltered.
" Oh, I see. It was his reward, eh ? " He sneered
in my face. " I came here," he said, " with some idea
of patching up things. I wanted to help Bennet.
He s in a bad way."
What could I say? After a while he said:
"Will you go back with me? I have him at our
" It would do no good."
" You mean you could not be made to reconsider
the thing ? You may be mistaken. You may care for
him, after all. There are few like him, I assure you.
You re dead lucky to have a man like poor Bennet
care for you. He s of the salt of the earth."
" I know ; but I can t deceive him any longer.
I m in love with another man."
There was a long silence after that, Butler just star
ing at me. Then he asked :
" Been in love long? "
" Before you met Bennet?"
Again I nodded.
He laughed bitterly.
" Personally I suspected you from the first. I had
an intuitive feeling that there was something under
cover about you. I never could see what Bennet saw
in you. He was head and shoulders above you in
every way. You re not in his class at all. I don t
mean that in the cheap social sense simply morally.
Bennet s been my friend for years. I know him.
There s no one like him. It s damned hard luck, I
can tell you, for me to see him come up against a
proposition like you. According to your own story,
you must have deceived him from the first Wpmen
like you "
He stopped there, for I was crying so bitterly that
mama came in to see what the trouble was. Margaret
was listening all the time at the head of the stairs.
Butler then just clapped his hat on his head, picked
up his stick, and went.
And that was the opinion of me of one of the
brightest men in the United States, a man who subse
quently became internationally famous. Nothing
could have equaled the contempt of his looks or his
cutting words. He had stripped me bare. For one
startling moment the scales dropped from my eyes.
I saw myself! And I shrank before what I saw
shrank as only a weak coward can.
O Brien had called me a " dead-game sport " ; Roger
once said I was a " mongrel by blood, but a thorough
bred by instinct " ; Lolly had called me a " snake " ;
but George Butler, that keen-sighted, clear-headed
man, knew me for something to be despised! What
did I think of myself? Like every one else, I was
capable of staring wide-eyed at my own shortcomings
only for a little while, and then, like every one else,
I charitably and hastily and in fear drew the curtains
before me, and tried to hide myself behind them.
I pitied Bennet, whom I had hurt ; but I had a vaster
pity for myself, whom Roger had hurt.
Perhaps it will not be out of place for me to say
here that Bennet achieved all that I tried to do. Such
fame (if fame I may call it) as came to me later was
not of a solid or enduring kind. My work showed
always the effect of my life my lack of training, my
poor preparation for the business of writing, my dense
ignorance. I can truly say of my novels that they are
strangely like myself, unfulfilled promises. But Ben-
net ! He climbed to the top despite me, and there he
will always be.
It may well be believed that the days that followed
were unhappy ones for me. Not only had I lost my
two best friends, Bennet and Lolly, but Roger had dis
appeared, as it were, completely from my life.
I went to Mr. Townsend s office, as he had told me
to do, but I did not accept the " arrangements " that
Roger had made for me, and this despite the very
earnest exhortations of his lawyer. I did not want,
and I would not touch, the money that Roger had
directed should be put in banks for me. He ought to
have known I would not do that.
All day long my face burned. Something within
me, too, was burning like a wild-fire. A thousand
thoughts and ideas came rushing upon me. Every
thing that Roger had ever done for or said to me re
curred to my mind, and jumbled with these thoughts
came others of Bennet.
His was the most honest heart in the world. The
little he had done for me had all been open and above
board. He had not even declared his love for me
until the day I was out of his debt, and free, there
fore, to give him an honest answer.
But Roger ! When I would not take what he tried
to force upon me, he had found tricky channels
through which they would fall upon me, anyway, and
then had taunted me with their possession !
When I got home from work that night I asked
Margaret if she knew that Roger had been paying for
most of my clothes. She answered, with a chuckle :
" What made you think that? " I asked.
" Because no girl working as you are could afford
such things. That Paquin gown alone is easily worth
two hundred dollars, if not more."
" I paid twenty for it," I said.
She laughed. I told her about the shop where
there were " bargains," and she, as Lolly had done,
laughed in my face.
" No shop," she said, " could give you a bargain in
sables such as you have."
I had a brown fur set. I did not know they were
sables. I had been less than a year in America. I
was just eighteen. I came from a large, poor family.
I did not know the value of clothes or jewels any more
than poor, green Irish or Polish immigrant girls would
know it in that time. What could I know of sables?
We lived very quietly now. I had to stay at home,
as I had promised Roger to go out with no one till he
returned. And then, of course, Bennet and Butler no
longer came, and I abandoned my music lessons. I
had never taken more than a half-hearted interest in
A restless spirit possessed me at this time, and I
could not settle my mind to anything. I used to wan
der about Roger s rooms, with my thoughts disjointed
and jumbled. I thought I was brooding over his ab
sence, and then again I thought I was worrying about
Bob. Then one day as I stood staring into the leaping
flames of that fireplace, almost like an inspiration there
came to me a great idea for a story.
For an hour I sat staring into the flames, the story
slowly taking root in my mind, and the fascinating plot
and characters unraveling before me. It was ten
o clock at night when I began to write, and I worked
without stopping till the dawn.
That was how I began to write my first novel. I
lived now with only one avid thought in my mind
the story I was writing. It infatuated me as nothing
I had ever done before had infatuated me.
I resigned my position, and took a half-day place.
I had a little over a hundred dollars saved, and the
new position paid me seven dollars a week. As I sup
plied my own type-writer, I had the privilege of taking
outside work in the afternoons.
I think Mr. Forman was really relieved when I told
him I had decided to go, though he asked me anxiously
whether I had consulted Mr. Hamilton about it. I
said that I had written and told him. I had done my
work there adequately (he gave me an excellent ref
erence), but he had dismissed a faithful secretary, to
whom he was attached, to make a place for me at Mr.
Hamilton s request. I never knew this when I took
that position, else I would not have taken it.
I left because of what Roger had said, for one thing.
I preferred not to be under obligations to him for my
position. Besides, I wanted a little more time in
which to write my novel. The seven a week just paid
for my board, and I had enough saved to carry me
My new position was in a school, a sort of dramatic
school where calisthenics, fencing, and other things
were also taught. I had a chance to see something of
the young men and women who were studying there,
mostly of wealthy families. The courses were very
expensive. A great many Chicago society women
took fencing lessons there, and one of them was kind
enough to offer to pay for lessons for me. I would
have liked to learn, but I could not afford the time.
Every minute that I had away from the school I gave
to my precious novel. I used to get home about two.
I d have a glass of milk and a cracker for my
luncheon, and then I would write until six. Then
came dinner, and then again I wrote, sometimes till as
late as midnight. I wrote my novel in twenty-two
days. It is impossible for me to describe my delight
and satisfaction when I put the last word to my manu
Then for a long time I sat by the fire and re-read
my story, and it seemed to me I had created a treasure.
Roger, who professed to know something about palm
istry, had averred there was a gold-mine in my hand,
and he said that it was he who was going to put it
there; but when I read my story that night I had a
prophetic feeling that my mine would be of my own
I now had to revise and type-write my story, no
Outside of the work I did for the school, I had
secured bits of copying for a few people in the build
ing; but I had made very little above my salary. The
head of the school was an imposing and majestic
woman of about fifty, very handsome and charming
and gracious in her manner, though I always resented
the difference between her tone to me and that she as
sumed to her pupils and the people who frequented her
studios she called them studios. She had a little
salon in a way. Nearly all Chicago s important peo
ple, and especially the celebrities, came to her " after
noons." I had a chance to see authors who had
There was one very tall woman who wore glasses
and talked through her nose. She was very well
known at that time, having had a witty serial published
in the very magazine that bought my first little story.
She was much sought after, and was suffering from a
bad case of what O Brien always called " the big
head." She looked and talked as if she were a per
sonage of great superiority, and her sharp retorts and
witty comments, always a bit malicious, were quoted
everywhere in Chicago. I think she believed me to be
one of her many silent admirers. I was not. I knew
that when one has reached a stage of complete satis-
3 2 4
faction with oneself, one has reached one s limitation.
Chicago s popular writer at the zenith of her fame
was not to me a particularly attractive object.
Then there was a celebrated Western author who
was a giant in size and a giant in heart. I secretly
adored him both as a writer and as a man. He wore
his straight hair rather long, and though his face was
becoming florid and full, he had a fine, almost Indian-
like, profile. He was tremendously popular in Chi
cago, and Mrs. Martin, my employer, flattered and
courted him despite his careless and rather grimy
clothes and utterly unmanicured nails. Behold the
measure of my sophistication! I who knew not the
meaning of the word " manicure " less than a year be
fore, took pride in my own shining nails now, and re
marked the condition of those of a great author!
There was another le^s famous, but more exclusive,
author who fascinated me chiefly because he had a
glass eye. I had never before seen a glass eye.
I have mentioned the authors because they interested
me more than the artists, sculptors, musicians, and
actors and actresses who also came to these studios
where I worked. The building itself was full of
Do not think of me as being one of this distin
guished " set." I was, in fact, simply on the outskirts,
a rather wistful, perhaps envious, and sometimes
amused observer of these great people who had obvi
ously " arrived."
Few of these celebrities noticed me. Several of the
artists asked me to pose for them. I did not pose,
because I had no time. I did go up to the studio of
a hunchback artist who painted divinely and had a
pretty wife and an adorable baby. I became very
friendly with that lovely family, and even shyly con
fessed to them that I wrote. Just fancy! I, who
only a few months before had forced every one to
listen to my poems, now when I was in contact with
people who did the very things I wished to do, experi
enced a panic at the thought of their finding out about
it or of revealing myself to them !
Even Mrs. Martin never suspected me. I was sim
ply a stenographer who had come to her from a mer
cantile firm. The only thing about me that ever
appealed to her was my looks. Think of that! She
said to me one day as I was going out :
" Miss Ascough, you look like a poster girl. Where
did you get your hat? "
I told her, and she raised her eyebrows.
" Well," she said, studying me through her lorgnon,
" your hair looks astonishingly well against that silver
fur. Have you ever thought of going on the
I replied that I had not.
She regarded me speculatively a moment, and then
" There are worse-looking girls than you in the
I told her I could sing a little. Whereupon she
" Oh, I don t mean sing or act. However, you d
better stick to what you re doing until my season
closes, and then, if you re a good girl" she smiled
very graciously " I 11 see what I can do for you."
Her season ended in June. You perceive I had
something to look forward to !
And now I come to the author who was the cause
of my discharge from this place.
Mrs. Martin herself had brought him to my desk
and introduced him to me. He had with him a thick
manuscript when he asked me, with a very charming
smile, if I would type-write for him. You may be
sure I was glad to get this extra work, as my funds
were running low. So I put aside the copying of my
own novel, and went hard to work upon the play of
this Chicago author. It was a closely written manu
script, a play in six acts. He required eight copies,
only four of which were to be carbons. In order to
get the work done as soon as possible and resume the
copying of my own story, I went down to the office
three nights and worked till eleven.
As I have said, there were six acts, and each was
of forty pages. So, you see, it was a fairly big manu
script. A public stenographer would have charged at
the rate of five cents a folio, that is, one hundred
words, and there were about two hundred and
eighty words to a page. She would also have charged
about two cents a page for the carbon copies. I made
out my bill for five cents a page, and did not charge
for the carbon copies.
The author had been coming every day and going
over the work as I did it, and he had me not only
bind his play, but rule parts of it in red ink the
descriptive parts. I felt mightily pleased when I
handed him the completed manuscript. Rather apolo
getically I proffered him my bill.
He took the latter, and looked at it as if much sur
prised and pained, and then said :
" Why, Miss Ascough, I brought this to you as a
friend of Mrs. Martin."
I said :
" Yes, that s why I did not charge for the carbons,
and made you just a half-rate."
" There seems to be some mistake," he replied. " I
understood from Mrs. Martin that you would do this
work just as if it were for her."
" Do you mean," I said, " for nothing? "
He made a gesture with his hands, as much as to
say, " Don t put it so baldly."
I stared at him. I could not believe that any one
would be mean enough to let me do all that work for
nothing. He was a greatly admired author. His
play seemed, in my youthful judgment, a fine thing,
and yet was it possible that he would impose upon a
poor working-girl? Could he really believe that I,
who was being paid only seven dollars a week for my
morning services, would have worked afternoons and
evenings to type-write his play without charge ?
He put his play in a large envelop, and then he
" I appreciate very much what you have done, and
I am pleased with your work. I shall make a point
of recommending you to friends of mine." He
cleared his throat. " I ve also brought you a little
present in token of my appreciation." He took from
his coat pocket a book, one of his own. " It s auto
graphed," he said, smiling, and gave it to me.
I held his book with a thumb and forefinger, as if it
were something unclean, and then I deliberately
dropped it into the waste-paper-basket.
He turned violently red and walked into Mrs. Mar
tin s studio.
I had started in aimlessly to change the ribbon, I
had worn out one for his play, when Mrs. Martin
sailed majestically from her room and up to my desk.
" Miss Ascough," she said, " I won t require your
services any further. You may leave at once."
I shrugged my shoulders, sneered, and laughed right
up in her face, as if the loss of such a job as that was
a matter of supreme indifference to me. She became
as red as her friend, and walked haughtily back to her
I CARRIED my machine home. Machines are
heavy things. A sort of rainy snow was falling,
and though it was only four in the afternoon, it was
beginning to grow dark. The streets were in a bad
state with slush and mud and ice, and I got very wet
on my way to the car, for I could n t put up an um
brella, as I had to carry my machine under one arm
and my manuscript under the other.
As soon as I walked into our house, Margaret called
out from the dining-room:
" Mr. Hamilton is here." Then he got up he
was having tea with them and came over to me. I
had the type-writer in my hand, and I don t know
whether I dropped it or set it down on the floor.
I had n t had any luncheon, I was soaked through.
I had worked for weeks on my novel, and, besides the
office work, I had type-written that long play. I had
been working day and night, and I had been insulted
and discharged. I was tired out, cold, and wet. Add
to this the sudden shock of seeing Mr. Hamilton, and
you will understand why even a healthy girl of eighteen
may sometimes faint.
It was only a little faint, and I came to while Roger
was carrying me up-stairs ; but I did not move, for his
face was against mine.
Mama had come up with us, and when Roger set me
on the couch, she said she d take charge of me. She
told him to go down-stairs and have Margaret make
me a toddy, and to bring it up on a tray with my din
ner. I felt like a big baby to have her fussing over me
and taking off all my wet things. I had a lovely pink
eider-down dressing-gown that she had made me, and
she forced me to get into that and into dry stockings
By this time Roger and Margaret came up with the
tray, and all three were doing things for me. Roger
himself mixed me a drink. It was hot, with brandy
and lemon in it. As soon as I drank it, it went right
to my head, for I had eaten nothing since morning,
and I tried to tell them about Mrs. Martin s discharg
ing me, and how that author had not paid me for all
Cloudy as my head was and stumblingly as I talked,
I won their sympathies. Roger said that the author
was a mean little sneak, a cursed small cur, and that
he d like to kick him all over the town.
Then, because I started to cry, they tried to make me
eat something and drink some coffee; but I was so
sleepy I could not keep my eyes open. The first thing
I knew, I was in my bed.
I slept and slept ; I slept till ten o clock the next day.
The first thought I had was that Roger must have gone.
I never dressed so quickly, and I ran to his room and
knocked ; but he was not there.
Margaret also had departed for work, but I found
mama in the kitchen. She was making me an oyster
stew, a thing for which I had acquired a liking. As
soon as I appeared, she cried :
"You bad girl, what did you get up for? Here s
a note for you."
With hands trembling with excitement, I read
Roger s first letter to me. It was like him, those two
brief, laconic sentences :
Back by noon. Stay in bed.
Stay in bed! I never felt better in my life. I had
my stew, and then I went up-stairs and finished copying
At noon to the minute Roger returned. He had all
sorts of things for me: flowers, orchids, mind you!
squab, fruit, jelly, and magazines. One would
think I was an invalid, and I had to laugh at his look of
disapproval when he discovered me busy at work. He
said I was incorrigible.
He made no effort that day to conceal his feelings
from me. It was not that he petted or caressed me;
but he fussed over me all day, kept me right by the fire,
and brought up my luncheon to me, as he said the lower
floor was draughty. He kept feeling my head to see
if I was feverish. I think I gave him a good fright the
night before. He said he ought to have returned to
Richmond the previous night, as there was important
business there that needed his attention. He d been
obliged to keep the wires scorching all the morning.
He would have to get away that night, however; but
he wanted to make absolutely certain that I had re
He said that he had been obliged to hasten his re
turn, neglecting certain business in Europe, because I
had not written to him as I promised to do. I did
write him once, but the letter must have miscarried.
However, he was not in a scolding mood that day, and
every minute I thought he was going to pick me up in
He wanted to know if I had missed him, and I tried
to pretend that I had n t, that I had been absorbed in
my writing. He looked so solemn over that and so far,
far away from me that I wanted instantly to put my
arms about his neck, and I debated with myself how I
could reach him. I pulled up the stool in front of him,
stood on it, and in that way reached his face. I gave
him a quick kiss, and then jumped down. I thought he
would laugh at that, but he did n t. I did though ; but
while I was laughing I suddenly thought of something
that frightened me, and I asked him if he had had a
fine time in Europe, and added that I supposed he had
seen many lovely women.
I had a vague idea that France was simply brimming
with fascinating, irresistible, and beautiful sirens whom
no man could possibly resist, and the thought that
Roger had been there made my heart almost stop beat
ing ; but not for long, for he said very gravely :
" I never noticed anything nor any one. My mind
was engrossed with one thought only my own little
girl in Chicago."
Then he asked me if I realized that he had spent
fewer than ten days in Europe, and that he had come
here to me before even going to his home.
" Goodness ! " I said slyly, " you are interested in
me, aren t you? "
He looked at me queerly then, and he said :
" Nora, I m dippy about you."
" Is that slang for love, Roger ? " I asked, which
made him laugh, and then he tried to frown at me ; but
he could not. So he changed the subject abruptly,
and made me tell him about all the things that had hap
pened to me while he was away.
He said I was a " precious angel " for giving up
Bennet, and that Butler was a " conceited pup," and
I was a " little idiot " to mind anything he said. He
wished he had been there. He said Mrs. Martin was a
sycophant and a kowtowing old snob, and that he knew
her well; and as for my going on the stage! One
would think I was considering jumping off the face of
I told him he was pretty nearly as bad as the little
Japanese, and he laughed and said :
" That Jap s all right. By George ! I like his idea.
It would give me peculiar satisfaction to wring the
necks of one or two people we know," and he clapped
his fist into his hand.
I said mischievously:
" Well, you know that Jap hated those enemies of
mine because he loved me."
Roger chuckled, and said I might sit on that stool
and hint till doomsday, but he was not going to tell me
he loved me till he was good and ready.
" When will that be? " I asked, and he said solemnly,
with mock gravity :
" I m sure I don t know,
Said the great bell of Bow."
" My father always said that there was no time like
the present," I replied.
He laughed, but said seriously:
" Nora, if you play with fire, you 11 be burned.
Burns leave scars. Scars are ugly things, and I love
only pretty things, like my precious little girl."
" Aha ! " I said triumphantly, " then you admit it at
He burst out laughing and said:
After a while he wanted to hear my novel. So then
I read it to him, my beautiful story.
I read it well, as only an author can read his own
work not well in the sense of elocution, but with
every important point brought out. It took me two
and a half hours to read it, and when I was through,
twilight had settled. I had read the last words chiefly
by the light of the blazing fire. Roger got up, and
walked up and down the room. I watched him from
my seat on the stool by the fire. Then he suddenly
came back to me, seized my manuscript, and made a
motion as if he would consign it to the flames. At that
I screamed, like an outraged mother, and caught at it,
and he stood towering over me, watching me curiously.
" I wanted to try you then, Nora," he said. " Now
I know that I have a bigger rival in your work than any
man. What am I to do ? "
I held my novel out to him.
" Burn it if you wish to, then. It represents only
the product of my fancy; but you are my life," I said.
" Do you mean that? " he asked me, and I replied :
" Oh, yes, I do, I do."
" If I asked you to give up your writing, as I asked
you to give up Bennet, would you do it for me? "
" Yes, everything and every one, Roger," I replied,
" if only you will love me. Won t you?" In a voice
full of emotion, he then said:
"Can you doubt it?"
A moment later he seemed to regret having revealed
himself like that, and he swiftly made ready to go. He
was taking an early train for Richmond. His man
was waiting for him at some hotel. I wanted to go
down to the door with him, but he would not let me,
and we said good-by before mama, who had come up to
say dinner was ready. He did n t kiss me, but I kissed
him right before mama, on his hand and sleeve. If I
could have reached his face, I would have kissed him
there. He kept smoothing my hair. He said he
would be back very soon, that he would never stay
away from me long now.
I watched him from the window. The rain of the
previous day had frozen on the trees, and everything
was glistening and slippery. A wind was coming from
the north, and the people went along the street as if
blown against their will.
Roger looked up before getting into the cab and
waved to me at the window, and I thought, as once
before I had thought, as I watched his carriage disap
pear, that perhaps it would always be like this. He
would always go. Would there ever come a day when
he would not come again ?
That was on the twenty-sixth of February. He
could not have stayed in Richmond more than a few
hours, for at ten o clock the following night he came
back to me.
I was running over some new pieces at the piano
when I heard the bell ring ; but I had no idea it was he
until he came into the room without knocking. There
was something about his whole appearance and attitude
that startled me. His face had a grayish, haggard
look, as if he had not slept. I ran up to him, but
he held me back and began to speak rapidly :
Nora, I ve only a few minutes in Chicago. I
must catch the n : 09 back to Richmond. It s after
ten now. My cab s at the door. This is what I ve
come for. I want you to go to-morrow, on as early
a train as you can get, to a little hunting-lodge of mine
in the Wisconsin woods. Holmes [his valet] will
come and take you, and I want you to stay there for a
week or ten days."
The oddness of his request naturally puzzled me,
and of course I exclaimed about it, and wanted to know
why he wished me to go there. He said irritably :
" What does it matter why ? I want you to go. I
insist upon it, in fact."
" But what will I do up there? " I asked.
" Anything you wish. Write, if you like. I ve
a man and woman there. You 11 not be entirely alone.
The change will do you good."
" Are n t you going to be there, too ? "
" I m afraid not. I 11 try to get there for the week
end if I possibly can."
" But I don t want to go to a place all alone,
" I tell you, you won t be alone. I have a man and
a woman there, and Holmes will take you."
" But I don t see the sense in going away out there
in the middle of winter."
" I particularly want you to go. Are my wishes
nothing to you, then? I want you out of Chicago for
a few days. You ve not been well and "
" I never felt better in my life."
" Nora, I want you to go. You must go. Do
this thing to please me."
As, puzzled, I still hesitated, he began to promise
that he would join me there the next day, and when I
still did not assent, he tried coaxing me in another way.
He said he d bring Verley and a hunting-dog, and he d
teach me how to ride horseback and to shoot. He had
horses, too, somewhere near there ; a big stock farm, I
think. I told him I did n t want to shoot or kill things.
By this time he had worked himself up to a state of
exasperation at my stubbornness, and his request really
seemed to me so ridiculous and capricious that I began
to laugh at him, saying jokingly:
You re worse than a dog in a manger: you re a
Turk. You want to shut me up in a box."
" That s true enough," he replied. " I wish I d
done it long ago."
He was standing very tall and stiff by the door, with
his coat still on, and his arms folded grimly across his
breast. I looked at him, and a half-mischievous, half-
tender impulse overwhelmed me. I went closer to him,
and put my hands on his folded arms as I said :
" I 11 go, Roger, if you 11 take me in your arms and
He gave me such a look at that, and then his face
broke, and he opened his arms. I went into them. I
don t know how long I was in his arms. I never
wanted to leave them again.
I presently heard his voice, low and husky, and felt
he was trying to release himself from my hands. He
" I must go. I 11 miss my train."
" O Roger, please don t leave me now ! " I begged.
" I must," he replied, and then he went quickly out
of the room. I followed him into the hall, though he
was striding along so swiftly I could not keep pace
with him. Just where the stairs began, I caught at
his arm and held him.
"O Roger, you do love me, don t you?" I asked
sobbingly, and he said hoarsely :
" Yes, I do."
Then he went down the stairs, and I after him. At
the door he said I must go back ; but I was still clinging
to his hand, and when he opened the door I, too, went
Snow was falling densely, and the great north wind
had brought on its wing a blizzard and storm such as
Chicago had seldom known ; but Roger and I, in that
porch, saw nothing but each other.
He kept urging me to go in, saying I would catch
my death of cold, and stooping down, and without my
asking him this time, he took me in his arms and kissed
me again and again.
" I love you, Nora," he said. " You re the only
thing in the world I have ever loved. I swear that to
Then he kissed me again, opened the door, and
turned me back.
" Roger, tell me just this, at least," I pleaded. " Is
there any other woman in your life? "
The question was out now. Like a haunting shadow
that I dared not face there had always been that hor
rible thought in my mind, and now for the first time I
had voiced it. With his arms still about me, looking
down into my face, he said:
" No ; no one that counts. I swear that, too, Nora."
Then I went in. I was like one in a beautiful trance.
That room seemed to me the loveliest place on earth.
Everything about it spoke of him. He had chosen the
softly tinted Oriental rugs, the fine paintings, there
were paintings by great masters there, my piano, and
the great long table where I wrote. He had chosen all
these things for me, and now I knew why he had done
it. He loved me ; he had said so at last.
I went about the room touching everything, and
gathering up little things of his papers and books ; I
went into his bedroom, and found his bath-robe. I put
it on, and for the first time though he had said the
rooms were mine, I had not used them I threw my
self down there in the room where he had slept and all
night long I lay dreaming of him.
THE next day found Chicago enveloped in one of
the worst snow-storms that had ever come out of
the north. Of course the idea of my going to the
Wisconsin woods was out of the question. It was im
possible even to leave the house. All the trains were
stalled, and many wires were down. I could not have
gone, even had I tried. So I was obliged to remain at
home, and even Holmes did not appear at the house,
though he telephoned to say he would be up as soon as
the storm stopped.
Shut in as we were in a great city caught in the
paralyzing grip of a snow-storm, I did not come out of
my exalted mood of intense happiness. All through
that long day, when I had nothing to do but to watch
the blinding snow and the vehicles and people that had
dared to venture out, I was with Roger, alone, this
time, never to be parted again. All the barriers were
down between us. All we knew was that we loved
each other. What did anything else matter? My
work ? Ah, it was a poor, feeble little spark that had
fluttered out before this vast flame in my heart. I had
no room, no thought, for anything else.
I loved. I had loved for many months in hunger
and work and pain, and now at last the gods had re
warded me. My love was returned; Roger loved me.
That was the most wonderful, the most beautiful, the
most miraculous thing that had ever occurred in the
The telephone was ringing all day, and so was the
door-bell. Mama, who wandered in and out to chat
with me about the storm or other things, kept grum
bling. She said some one had been trying to get Mar
garet on the long-distance telephone all day, but Mar
garet had to go out on a case. Whoever it was, he
would leave no message.
Once I answered the telephone myself, and though
the voice sounded as if it was far away, I fancied the
voice was Roger s. Oh, I had only him on my
mind! It was some one for Margaret, and when I
" I m Miss Ascough. Can t I take a message ? " he
" No," and rang off.
Margaret came in about five, and when we told her
about the telephone, she seemed much mystified, and
called up the information bureau and asked who had
called her, and the bureau said Richmond had been
Naturally, we were surprised that the calls were
really from Richmond, and we were sure it must be
Roger. Mama said he was probably anxious about
me, but I could not help wondering why, if it was he
on the telephone, he had not spoken to me. Margaret
said it was probably his secretary or a clerk, and when
I spoke of the voice, she said all Southern voices were
She was called out again as soon as she had changed
her clothes; but it was only in the neighborhood, and
she had only thrown a shawl about her and run out,
saying I was to take any messages that came.
So when a telegram came, I signed for it, and then,
though it was addressed to Margaret, I opened and
read it, thinking it might be important. I could n t for
the life of me understand it, and I handed it to mama.
She read it, glanced at me, and then said that Margaret
would probably understand.
It was really from Roger, but why he should tele
graph Margaret not to let me see some papers, I could
not understand. This was the telegram:
On no account let Nora see the papers.
While I was puzzling over this, Margaret came in,
and I gave her the telegram. She took a long time to
read it, and then she said carelessly that he referred to
some papers, deeds and things like that, and he
probably wished to surprise me.
It was a poor sort of explanation, but it satisfied me.
I was too far up in the clouds to give the matter much
thought, so Margaret and mama and I had dinner to
gether. I prepared spaghetti, a dish of which they
were fond, and which I made better than any one else.
However, I burned the spaghetti, let it go dry, and
" You re a nice cook, with your mind away off in
Margaret was in the pantry, but I knew she was
listening. I said, after giving mama a squeeze for
forgiving me about the spaghetti :
" You re going to find out a thing or two about him
soon. You don t know what a beautiful character he
has, and you know very well no man ever had a nicer
smile than Roger."
Mama nodded, and went on stirring what she was
" You re a foolish old angel," I went on. " You
just don t like him because you re fond of me. Well,
if it were n t for me, you would like him, would n t
She said :
" It may be a case of prejudice, dearie, but he s got
to show me first, though."
"Oh, he will," I assured her. "You ll see."
Then I added : " Anyhow, you 11 admit that he does
care for me, won t you? "
" Any one can see with half an eye that he s head
over heels in love with you ; but -
Margaret had come out of the pantry, and she
banged some things down so noisily that we both
" For heavens sake ! don t talk about that man ! " she
Then mama and I laughed, and we had dinner. I
had been up-stairs only a few minutes after dinner
when I heard Margaret at the telephone again. I went
down to learn what the trouble was. As I was going
down I heard her say :
" It s impossible. A dog could n t go out in a storm
like this." Then after a moment, she added, " I said
I d do what I could," and then : " You need n t thank
me. It s not on your account, d you ! " She
hung up the receiver.
" Who was that ? " I asked. She answered savagely
she had never spoken so crossly to me before :
" None of your business ! " and slammed out into the
The storm abated during the night, and by morning
it had ceased ; but the city was still snow-bound, though
workers were out all night clearing the streets, and an
army of snow-shovelers went from house to house as
soon as daylight came. They began ringing our door
bell as early as six o clock, and that awoke me; so I
dressed and went down-stairs. Margaret was ahead
of me. I went to the porch to get the papers, but she
was irritable because I opened the door and let in
the cold. She said she wished to goodness I d stay
in my own room.
At breakfast we were without the papers, and Mar
garet told mama they had not come. The storm had
probably prevented their delivery. I said I did n t
mind running out to the nearest newsstand, but she
" For heaven s sake ! Nora, find something to amuse
yourself with without chasing wildly round! Now
the storm s over, that man Holmes will be here, and
you d better get ready."
So, though I thought we d have some difficulty in
getting a train, none was running on time, I
packed the few things I intended to take with me.
If any one sees anything particularly immoral in my
calmly preparing to go on a trip with this man, I beg
him to recall all of my previous experiences with him.
He had never done anything that caused me to fear
him, and now he could do nothing that would have
been wrong in my eyes.
I was love s passionate pilgrim. I could not look
ahead ; I turned not a glance back ; I only thrilled in
the warmth of the dear present.
About ten, Holmes arrived. He said we could get
a train at eleven and one at four. The four o clock
one would be better, as by that time the snow would be
cleared off; but Mr. Hamilton had telephoned and tele
graphed instructions that we should take the very first
So, then, with my bag packed, I came down-stairs,
and went to the kitchen to say good-by to Margaret
and mama. When I opened the door, they sprang
apart, and I saw the morning paper in their hands;
mama was crying. All of a sudden I had a horrible
fear that something had happened to Roger, and I
sprang over and tried to take the paper from mama.
She tried to put it behind her, and we struggled for the
sheet, but Margaret cried out :
" For God s sake ! let her have it ! We may as well
And then I had the paper.
It was on the front page, so important was he, that
vile story. I saw his face looking up at me from that
sheet, and beside him was a woman, and under her pic
ture was another woman. The type danced before me,
but I read on and on and on.
And this was my love, my hero, my god this mar
ried man whose wife was divorcing him because of an
other woman ; whose husband in turn had divorced her
because of him, Roger Avery Hamilton. I read the
sordid story ; I read the woman s tale in court, of his
many infidelities, which had begun soon after their
marriage, of the fast life he had led, and of his being
named as co-respondent by his best friend in Rich
mond, whose wife had admitted the truth of the
charge, and had been cast out by her husband.
This wife of his, of whose existence I had never
even dreamed, said in an interview that although she
did not believe in divorce and had endured her hus
band s infidelities for years, she was now setting him
free for the sake of the other woman, whom he was in
honor bound to marry. They had all been friends,
they were of the same social set, and the relations be
tween this woman and Hamilton, his wife declared,
had existed for three years, and still continued.
If one s body were dead, and the mind still alive,
how might that vital, mysterious organ find utterance
through the paralyzed body? I have often wondered.
Now I was like one dead. There was no feeling in
any part of my body but my poor head, and through it
surged, oh, such a long, long, weird procession of all
the scenes of my life since I had left my home! It
seemed as if every one I had ever known danced like
fantastic shades across my memory, each one in turn
beckoning to me or beating me back. And through
that throng of faces, blotting out the black one of Bur-
bank, the sensual one of Dr. Manning, the kind, gro
tesque face of O Brien, and the rough, honest mask
of Bennet, like a snake his bitter face rose, and stared
at me with his half-closed, cruel eyes.
I was before the fireplace where I had often sat with
him. Some one, mama or Margaret, had brought me
there. They fluttered in and out of the room like
ghosts, and they spoke to me and cried over me, but I
do not know what they said. I had lost the power of
hearing and of speech. I tell you I was dead -
Then that little valet of his came up to the room and
asked me if I was ready!
" Go away ! Go away ! " I murmured peevishly
when he came around in front of me and looked at me
curiously. Then Margaret came in and called shrilly
at him :
" You get out of here you and your d
master ! "
That commotion, I think, roused me slightly, for I
went to my room, and I took from my lower drawer all
of the foolish little things of his that I had collected at
various times and treasured. I gathered them up in a
large newspaper, carried them into his room, and
dumped them into the fire.
Then I took that newspaper and spread it out on the
desk, and I read the story all over again, slowly, be
cause my brain worked like a clock that has run down
and pulls itself to time only in spasmodic jerks. I
found myself studying the picture of that woman who
was not his wife. I cared nothing about the wife, but
only of that other one, the woman his wife said he still
She was all the things that I was not, a statuesque
beauty, with a form like Juno and a face like that of a
great sleepy ox. Beside her, what was I? Women
like her were the kind men loved. I knew that.
Women like me merely teased their fancy and curi
osity. We were the small tin toys with which they
paused to play.
I crushed that accursed sheet. No, no, she was not
better than I. Strip her of her glittering clothes, put
her in rags over a wash-tub, and she would have been
transformed into a common thing. But I? If you
put me over a wash-tub, I tell you 7 would have woven
a romance, aye, from the very suds. God had planted
in me the fairy germs ; that I knew.
But rage! What has it ever done to heal even the
slightest hurt or wound? Oh, I could tramp up and
down, up and down, and wring my hands till they were
bruised, but, alas! would that bring me any comfort?
I went back to my own room, and I packed not my
clothes those clothes he had paid for, but my manu
scripts. They at least were all my own. They filled
my little old black bag the bag I had brought from
Margaret came to my door, and when she knocked I
controlled my voice and said :
" I am busy. Go away."
" O Nora dear, Mr. Hamilton is on the phone," she
said. " He is calling from Richmond. He wants to
speak to you, dearie."
" I will never speak to him again," I declared.
" O Nora," she said, " he is coming to you now.
He is taking a special train. I am sure he can explain
everything. He says that he can, dear."
" Everything is explained. I know now" I replied.
Yes, that was true. I did know now.
I went stealing down the stairs on tiptoe. They had
relaxed their guard, and I had watched for this mo
ment as craftily as only one can who is insane, as in
deed I was.
Outside the cold wind smote me. Snow was piled
high on all sides. I passed along through great banks
of it, and I climbed over sodden drifts and gigantic
balls that children had rolled, and with my little black
bag I went down to the beach. Where it began, I do
not know, for I thought the white caps on the water,
breaking against the shore, were great drifts of snow;
and I went plodding on and on till I came to the water.
A policeman who had spoken to me when I turned
down toward the lake must have followed me, for sud
denly he came behind me and said roughly :
" Now, none of that," and I turned around and
looked at him stupidly, only half seeing him.
He took me by the arm and led me away, and he
asked me what was my trouble, and when I did not an
swer (how could I, who could scarcely speak at all?)
he said :
" Some fellow ruin you? "
That word has only one meaning when applied to a
woman. I had not been ruined in the sense that Chi
cago policeman meant, but, oh, deeper than that sort
of ruin had been the damnatory effects of the blow
that he had dealt me! He had destroyed something
precious and fine; he had crushed my beautiful faith,
my ideals, my dreams, my spirit, the charming visions
that had danced like fairies in my brain. Worse, he
had ruthlessly destroyed Me ! I was dead. This was
another person who stood there in the snow staring at
the waters of Lake Michigan.
Where was the heroic little girl who only a little
more than a year before, penniless and alone, had fear
lessly stepped out into the smiling, golden world, and
boldly challenged Fate? I was afraid of that world
now. It was a black, monstrous thing, a thief in the
dark that had hid to entrap me.
O Roger, Roger ! I loved you even as my little dog
had loved me. If you but glanced in my direction, I
was awake, alert. If you smiled at me or called my
name, my heart leaped within me. I would have kissed
your hand, your feet; and when you were displeased
with me, ah me! how miserable I was! There was
nothing you touched I did not love. The very clothes
you wore, the paper you had read and crushed, the
most insignificant of your personal belongings were
sacred to me. I gathered them up like precious treas
ures, and I hoarded them even as a miser does his gold.
I was to you nothing but a queer little object that had
caught your weary interest and flattered your vanity.
You saw me only through the cold eyes of a cynic a
connoisseur, who, seeking for something new and rare
in woman, had stumbled upon a freak.
The policeman said :
" I could run you in for this, but I m sorry for you.
I guess you went dotty for a while. Now you go
home, and you 11 feel better soon."
" I have no home," I said.
That s tough," he replied. " And you look noth
ing but a kid. Are you broke, too? "
" No," I said, though I really was.
" Have you any friends ? "
I thought painfully. Mama and Margaret were my
friends, but I could not go back there. He was com
ing by a special train. O Brien? O Brien was in
New York. Bennet? I had stabbed Bennet even as
Roger had stabbed me.
Who, then, was there ?
Lolly; there was Lolly.
Drifts of feathery snow kept flying down from the
housetops as the policeman and I passed along, and as
icicles came crashing down upon the sidewalks he led
me out into the middle of the road.
We came to Lolly s door, and the policeman rang the
bell. I don t know what he said to the woman when
she answered the door, but I ran by her and up the
stairs to Lolly s room, and I knocked twice before she
answered. I heard her moving inside, and then she
opened the door and stood there with her blue eyes
looking like glass beads, and a cigarette stuck out be
tween her fingers. And I said :
" O Lolly! Lolly!" She stood aside, and I went
in and fell down on my knees by the table, and threw
out my arms upon it and my head upon them.
I felt her standing silently beside me for a long time,
and then her hand touched my head, and she did a
strange thing : she went down on her knees beside me,
lifted up my face with her hand, just as Roger used
to do, and stared at me. Then she threw her arms
about me and drew me up close, and I knew that at
last Lolly had forgiven me.
She could cry, but not I. I had reached that stage
where tears are beyond us. They precede the rainbow
in our lives, and my rainbow had been wiped away. I
was out in the dark, blindly groping my way, and it
seemed to me that though there were a thousand doors,
they were all closed to me.
I was now sitting on a chair opposite Lolly. I had
the feeling that I was crumpled up, crushed, and beaten.
My mind was clear enough. I knew what had befallen
me, but I could not see beyond the fog.
" I could have told you about him long ago," said
Lolly, after a while.
I said mechanically:
" You spared me. I did not you."
" No, you did the right thing," Lolly replied. " If I
had told you then what I knew that Hamilton was a
married man I might have saved you this."
There was silence between us for a time, and then
" Did you know that Marshall Chambers is married ?
He married a rich society girl a girl of his own class,
" Lolly, I don t know what to do. I think I am go
ing to die," I said.
Lolly threw down her cigarette, and came and stood
" Listen to me," she said. " I ll tell you what you
are going to do, Nora Ascough. You are going to
brace up like a man. You re going to be a dead-game
sport, as O Brien said you were. You have something
to live for. You can start all over again. I wish that
I could, but / have cashed my checks all in."
I looked up at her. There was something in her
ringing voice that had a revivifying effect upon me.
It aroused as the bugle that calls a soldier to arms.
" What have I to live for that you have not ? " I
" You can write," she said. " You have a letter in
your pocket addressed to posterity. Deliver it, Nora !
Deliver it ! "
" Tell me how ! O Lolly, tell me how ! "
" Get away from this city ; go to New York. Cut
that man out of your brain as if he were a malignant
cancerous growth. Use the knife of a surgeon, and do
it yourself. Soldiers have amputated their own legs
and arms upon the battle-field. You can do the same."
She had worked herself up to a state of excitement,
and she had carried me along with her. We were both
standing up now, our flashing eyes meeting. Then I
" I have no money."
She dipped into her stocking, and brought up a little
" There, take it ! I 11 not need it where I m going."
Then I told her I had no clothes, and she filled her
suitcase for me.
" Now," she said, " you are all ready. There s a
train leaving about seven. You 11 get to New York
to-morrow morning. O Brien will be there to meet
you. I 11 telegraph to him after I ve put you on the
" Come with me, Lolly."
" I can t, Nora. I m going far away."
Lolly! Lolly! little did I dream how far. Two
weeks later, riding in an elevated train, I chanced to
pick up a newspaper, and there I learned of Lolly s sui
cide. She had shot herself through the heart in a Chi
cago hotel, leaving a " humorous " note to the coroner,
giving instructions as to her body and " estate."
1 was in the Chicago train whirling along at the
rate of sixty miles an hour. I lay awake in my berth
and stared out at a black night ; but in the sky above I
saw a single star. It was bright, alive ; and suddenly I
thought of the Star of Bethlehem, and for the first time
in many days, like a child, I said my prayers.
University of California
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